Title: Suspension of (Dis)belief
Fandom(s): SyFy's Alice/Doctor Who/Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy shout-out
Characters/Pairing: Hatter/Alice, the Doctor (Tenth)
Disclaimer: nothing is mine except the mood of extreme silliness that led to this
Summary: She always knew there was something that warned Jack, that day in her apartment. She just didn't know till now that it was her. An old friend of Hatter's lends a hand, and Time decides to be flexible for once.
A/N: Written for a LiveJournal crossover challenge. Post-series.
Suspension of (Dis)belief
Alice, not for the first time, is doubtful.
Full of doubts, nearly overcome with them, swimming in doubt like it was a pool of tears. She stands outside at Hatter's side, arms crossed, blinking puzzledly down at what he holds in his hands. It's a box, black and battered, looking as though it's spent the last ten years buried at the bottom of an overloaded satchel; which, in fact, it had, according to Hatter.
"Where did you get that, again?"
"Friend of mine, I told you," says Hatter, but he's not really paying her much attention. His tongue is sticking out of the side of his mouth, just the tip of it, clamped between his teeth. He's focusing the considerable weight of his concentration on the battered box, watching a slim yellow line that undulated across the small square screen. "Called an Electronic Thumb. Supposed to hail space ships that might be passing by."
"Space ships," says Alice, in what she hopes is a neutral tone. Not neutral enough, apparently; Hatter looks at her sideways, allowing his concentration to slip long enough to give her a grin.
"You went through a mirror, took down the Queen of Hearts, rode mechanical flamingos, saved Wonderland, and for the last week and a half you've been spending your time with an unbelievably attractive man named Hatter. Don't tell me you're going to un-suspend your disbelief on account of a space ship."
Alice just purses her lips, as there's really nothing to say to this that will wipe that smug grin off his face. He goes back to focusing on the screen.
A moment passes, in which Alice thinks of how like Hatter it is to be prosaic and practical for just long enough to catch her off guard when he pulls out some weird gadget and says he's going to hail a space ship to solve their particular conundrum. She can't believe it's taken her this long to realize, after all; maybe she can put this last week and a half down to recovery. Recuperation. Relaxation. Getting to know Hatter very, very well. Whatever it was, she's been distracted enough for it not to hit her until earlier this morning that someone must have warned Jack. That phone call, when he was in her apartment, just before he started going trigger-happy and proposing out of the blue. Something had scared him, put him on the alert. And she can't quite explain it, but it bothers her.
Who would have been in her world, helping him?
And Hatter's response, of course, she thought somewhat sourly as she turned back to him, was to cheerfully declare that he knew just the fellow to talk to about it.
"Are you sure this is going to work?"
"Alice, will you stop asking that? Yes, I'm sure it's going to work. I was sure it was going to work the last ten times, too." He glances over at her, relents. "I can't quite explain it, that's all. I would if I could, but I can't. Better you see for yourself."
"See what, Hatter?"
"Patience is a virtue," he starts, but then there's a noise. A weird noise. A weird noise that makes Hatter get a slightly stupid sideways smile on his face, and turn to stare at the brick wall to her left. "Look."
"At what?" She's still frustrated. Weird noises are not, usually, much source of joy. A disturbingly disproportionate amount of the time in Wonderland, in fact, weird noises meant she was about to be eaten or, at the very least, attacked in a highly unfriendly manner.
"At that." He nods towards the wall, and she finally turns to follow his gaze.
There's a blue box against the bricks, which she can't quite explain to either her eyes or brain. She lifts a hand to point at it in a vague manner.
"I'm almost sure that wasn't there before."
"C'mon," says Hatter, and catches her hand, leading her towards the box. She's about to protest, wondering what he has in mind--- Hatter's notions of appropriate places for intimacy are unusual, to say the least--- but the door opens and there's apparently already a man inside.
A tall, thin man, who glances from side to side as though he's expecting someone; then his gaze lights on Hatter, and a grin breaks across his face like the dawn.
"You again, hello! I thought I recognized the signature. Using Mr. Prefect's Electronic Thumb, were you?" A British accent--- she's not adept enough with tones to pinpoint it any more clearly than that, but it sounds a little different from what she still catches herself thinking as Hatter's British accent. Though it isn't, she knows; it's Low Wonderlandian. It's been explained.
Hatter's bouncing on his feet, looking ridiculously pleased with himself. He nods his head, the hat slipping sideways a bit, and says, "Doctor. Nice to see you, thanks for stopping by."
"Got to make it quick though," says the Doctor, turning sideways and eyeing the inside of the box as though it's doing something interesting. "Got a distress call from the 89th Parallel, and you know how the Kleristock are when it's mating season--- well, you don't, actually, do you? Never mind. Most species act a little odd when it's mating season, so I imagine you can imagine."
"Well, see, this is the--- oh, sorry, Alice." He pulls her forwards with him, stepping past the man he calls the Doctor, bringing her along. "Alice. This is Alice, Doctor."
"Oh, yes?" The tall man has thick black glasses balanced somewhat precariously on his nose; he dips his chin and looks at her over them. "The Alice?"
"Why does everyone ask me that?" she says, a little peevishly.
"Alice, this is the Doctor." Hatter makes introductions, still grinning like a loon, swinging his hand between the two of them as though he's going to pair them up and demand that they dance. She's never seen him this proud of an acquaintance before; what's the deal with this man, anyhow? And his name is "the Doctor"? What kind of---
Says the woman who's dating a man named Hatter, she chides herself silently, and abandons that line of thought as unproductive.
"Alright," she starts, and loses the rest of the sentence in a wordless gasp of wonder as she realizes that though there is now three of them in the box, she isn't exactly cramped for room. It's big. It's huge, in fact, and she stands for a moment with her mouth open, not quite able to take it all in. She could have sworn the blue box took up maybe a six by six space, tops---
"It's," she says uncertainly.
She's vaguely aware that the man, the Doctor, is half-grinning.
"It's bigger on the inside," she says.
"Really?" the strange man says, lightly, and she comes back to herself enough to know that he's poking fun at her. Gently, though, and she bristles only a little. Besides, Hatter is at her side, bringing her arm to be tucked securely in his.
"Suspension of disbelief," he reminds her, with a lift of his eyebrows. "Got it?"
She shifts her eyes from the spectacle of the enormous room to him, sideways, mouth still open. "Got it."
"Right." He pats her hand, leads her up a slanted grate to the console that ornaments the middle of the room. Around it, the Doctor is already moving, slamming his hand down on buttons and twirling wheels and spinning cogs. He stops for a moment, stands straight, and beams at them. His thick dark hair is standing on end, she notices, as though it's been ruffled by some over-eager hand.
"Right!" he says. "When to?"
Hatter takes it upon himself to explain their problem and what they want; which is thoughtful of him, Alice considers, since she's having trouble articulating anything at the moment. This place--- this place! What is it?
"What is it?" falls out of her mouth.
"The TARDIS," says the Doctor promptly, as though he's been only half-listening to Hatter's explanation and just waiting for her to crack. His gaze is keen and avid. He grins, and his grin is just as keen and avid as his gaze. "Six impossible things before breakfast, Alice."
She frowns slightly. "Huh?"
"Not that Alice," Hatter not-quite-whispers, and the Doctor shrugs.
"She knows though. Don't you, Miss Hamilton? Miss Alice Hamilton, defender of Wonderland, and of those she loves. You know all about believing in impossible things."
She takes a step towards him, head tilting to one side, eyes squinting. "You know me?"
"Not yet." His grin, his eyes are knowing though; he's tucked his tongue up against the roof of his mouth and is frankly enjoying her bemusement. "Never mind that. So the problem, as I understand it, is that this Jack needs to be warned."
"Yeah," says Hatter, and she slides her eyes toward him just in time to catch the slight grimace that the mention of Jack always elicits. She's tried to convince him that what she felt for him was so much different, so much deeper than anything she might have felt for Jack; but he still gets a little twitchy when the King of Wonderland is brought up. Maybe, on second thought, because of how hard she tries to convince him--- Hatter's not above being sneaky.
That's the mental understatement of the year.
"A quick trip, then. Good. You brought your mobile?"
"Cell," Hatter informs Alice, grinning as he uses what to him is foreign lingo.
"I know." She pulls it out and advances on the Doctor, who is doing something complicated to the buttons on the console. "You expect me to believe that we're going to go back in time and send a message to Jack warning him?"
"Six impossible things," the Doctor says, apparently to the buttons. "What date?"
"You're the one who said no one else could have possibly known about it," offers Hatter, from the sidelines.
"I know, but---"
"What date?" repeats the Doctor, looking up at her. Alice looks to Hatter, who gives her a shrug and the look that means Go to it.
"December 4th." She puts her palms together, points them at the Doctor. "But, honestly---"
"Six impossible things," says the Doctor, and stands up straight, folding his arms, nodding towards the door. "Go on, then."
Another glance in Hatter's direction--- he appears to be sniggering quietly to himself--- and she moves towards the door, shaking her head slightly; but reaching for her cell all the same.
The box--- what did he call it? A TARDIS? What does that mean, anyway?--- appears to have moved, oddly enough. Alice holds her breath, reminding herself sharply--- suspension of disbelief, suspension of disbelief, six impossible things--- and something fills in the rest of the sentence. Before breakfast. Six impossible things before breakfast.
She looks out the door.
Jack, walking past, on the way to her door, exactly as he had done a week and a half ago, before--- before everything happened. She reels back before he can look around and see her, closes the door, steps in front and puts her back to it.
"Okay," she says.
Hatter is still chuckling; and the Doctor, whoever he is, gives an outright chortle, drawing in a long breath afterwards. His smile is fond, though, and she doesn't mind.
"What are you gonna text him?" asks Hatter from the jump seat he's taken over.
She's staring at her phone, chewing on her lower lip.
"Know what I always like to say when warning people--" says the Doctor, then equivocates, nodding his head from side to side. "Well. What I did like to say. Last time 'round. Still." He sniffs and settles his shoulders a little under his suit, which, she notices vaguely, is brown pinstripe. "Works."
She shakes her head. "What?"
"'Run,'" suggests the Doctor, and the grin appears again.
And that makes sense.
She sends the message, still shaking her head a little--- it beats twitching--- and moves towards Hatter, sinking onto the seat next to him.
He waggles his eyebrows at her a little. "So?"
Alice considers her words. "So, are you going to explain to me how you met this guy and how he happens to have a box that's bigger on the inside and, come to think of it, how we managed to go back in time and warn Jack?"
Hatter puts the Electronic Thumb in her lap. She looks down at it for a minute.
"That's it," he says, and shrugs. "Besides. Wouldn't believe me if I told ya. Would you?"
She looks at him, then lets her glance stray across the huge room and catch the dark eyes of the tall, thin man leaning back against the console. Arms folded. Grinning.
Six things. Impossible.
She slaps Hatter on the knee.
"Sure," she says. "Why not?"
"That's a long story," the Doctor breaks in. "I'd better be on my way. Till next time, Hatter." It's a hint, clearly, and so the two of them stand and move towards the door. Again, she's not aware of any sort of movement, other than the noise of the machine; but when they open the door it's clearly the present again. The empty street just sitting there, waiting for them. Hatter leads her out, then turns to wave goodbye to the Doctor, who's suddenly acquired a hurry. He flaps a hand at them from a distance, and the door closes of its own accord.
Hatter and Alice stand in the street, hand in hand, and as she watches, the box--- impossible, or highly improbable, or whatever you want to call it--- fades into the background and disappears. Weird noise and all. Alice takes a deep breath, lets it out slowly.
"He knew me," she says.
"He knows a lot of things, does the Doctor," says Hatter. He's watching her, dark eyes cautious, almost a little worried. So she turns a smile on for him, to let him know that she's fine; and he relaxes into it. "And anyway." He swings their joined hands between them. "That's one mystery solved, right?"
"Leading to the next one," she says with a dip of her head and a grin, tugging him back towards the apartment. "Tell me the story, Hatter."
Hatter loves telling stories. They're still on the steps when he starts, with childish enthusiasm, "Well, there I was, stuck in the Library being chased by the Unicorn, even though I told him I didn't have any cake, when suddenly I hear this weird noise---"
It takes a while, the telling. Alice believes every word.