Oh The Webs That We Weave
Chapter 9: An Offer
A/N: I want to start out by sincerely thanking everyone for their well wishes, it meant so much to me. Thankfully I was able to met with a new doctor and we tried a new form of medication for my eyes, and guess what? It worked! I'm now able to see just fine. The problem we found was that my cornea's had a deficiency and the new medication we tried help to fix it. So once again thank you all so much for your kind words. Well, without further delay here is the long over due chapter 9 of Oh The Webs That We Weave. :-)
"Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.
"Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!"
He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought -
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.
And, as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!
One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.
"And, has thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!'
He chortled in his joy.
`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe."
Alice shifted nervously in her seat. To her left Blood was sipping idly from his cup of tea; and although he was right next to her, it felt as though he was a million miles away. What was he thinking about, she wondered. Alice continued to trail her gaze down the table and stopped at Blood's left. Poor Elliot appeared to be just as nervous as she. She had seen him add at least ten teaspoons of sugar to his untouched tea since they had sat down to wait for their visitor. What really made her worry was the untouched carrot cake in front of Elliot. She had never seen him pass up any snack made from carrots. The table seemed oddly lonely without the twins stuffing down snacks and asking to show Alice their new "toys". Blood had given Dee and Dum the day off, which was probably for the best Alice thought. The twins had most likely gone to the amusement park to visit Boris, and Alice wished with all her heart that she could be in Gowland's territory rather then here.
Alice anxiously looked back to the main gate, at any moment now the dreaded Jaberwock would appear through those gates. He must be fearsome indeed to reduce Blood and Elliot to such a taciturn state. At that moment Alice caught a glimpse of figures in the distance walking briskly towards the mansion. Alice froze in place as a brief spasm of panic overtook her. The effect the upcoming figures had upon Blood was completely opposite. He appeared to snap back to reality and watch intently as the figures grew closer and more distinguishable.
Sooner than Alice would have imagined the three individuals had made their way through the gate and towards their table. Two faceless servants flanked the person whom Alice knew with out a doubt was the Jaberwock.
The Jaberwock looked nothing like Alice had imagined him to be. She had pictured him to be gruesome and unruly, however, he was the exact opposite. He was taller than she had expected, probably even taller than Blood. His clothing was the anthesis of professional with him sporting a black pressed suit and green tie. He had dark black hair that was smoothed back from his face with a startling set of green eyes that would make a snake envious. And then there was his smile. He had a handsome face, but his smile was filled with such maliciousness that Alice had to fight her sudden urge to flee.
"Well if it isn't my favorite hatter family." the Jaberwock greeted with a toothy grin.
"Jaberwock." Blood greeted with a stiff nod. "Have a seat." he finished with obvious forced politeness.
"Why thank you." replied the Jaberwock with a smile that indicated he knew of Blood's turmoil.
The Jaberwock gracefully took his seat across from the hatter family; and Alice noted that the two servants remained stationed behind the Jaberwock.
"Your assistants are welcome to sit and have tea as well." Alice said politely without a second thought.
The Jabewock's attention was immediately focused solely upon Alice. Alice stiffened in her seat at the intensity of gaze. She wished she hadn't spoken up and drawn attention to herself.
"Ah how kind of you my dear, but they are fine where they are." dismissed the Jaberwock smoothly. "Now, we have not been properly introduced have we?" he finished silkily.
Before Alice could utter a response Blood cut in and took charge of the conversation. "Alice, this is Jay Jaberwock." he said nodding in the smiling man's direction. "Jaberwock, this is Alice, my fiancé." Blood finished with a hint of warning in his voice. Alice didn't like the way the Jaberwock was gazing at her with those cold green eyes; and for once in her life Alice didn't mind his male driven deluded sense of ownership.
"A pleasure to met you Alice." the Jaberwock purred and extended his hand to her. Alice quickly swallowed the lump in her throat and reached out to shake his hand.
"Well my dear, it seems that you have enchanted all the inhabitants of Wonderland." said the Jaberwock mildly as he spooned cream into his tea. " I've just come from paying my respects to the Mortician, whom spoke quite highly of you." the Jaberwock said conversationally.
"Yes, Julius is a dear friend." Alice said and managed a small smile. Maybe things would go smoothly with the Jaberwock after all.
"You stayed with him for quite some time did you not?" he asked taking a sip from his tea.
"Yes, up until a few days ago." Alice replied.
"I do admire your courage my dear." the Jaberwock said with a smile.
Alice furrowed her brows in confusion. "I'm sorry, I don't know what you mean." she said.
"To live with the Mortician is something not many would do." the Jaberwock said with a wicked smile. Propping his arm up on the able the Jaberwock rested his head on the palm of his regarded Alice with a predatory expression and she suddenly had a very bad feeling about this."You do know what Julius's profession is don't you Alice?" he asked.
The Jaberwock regarded her curiously while waiting for an answer. Under the table Blood griped Alice's hand in a warning to tread carefully. She squeezed his hand slightly, indicating she understood his warning.
"He fixes clocks." Alice said.
"Yes, but do you know why?" the Jaberwock questioned patiently as if trying to help a learning child discover a new concept.
"Because they're broken." Alice replied shortly.
Alice heard Elliot give a brief snort of laughter and out of the corner of her eye saw a small smile cross Blood's lips. The Jaberwock looked on with a patient yet eerie secret smile.
"Mmmm and why would he bother himself with such a mundane task, I wonder." the Jaberwock pondered out loud.
Alice gave a quick shrug of her shoulders. " I guess people here like clocks." she answered.
The entire table was stunned into shock when the Jaberwock let out a peel of laughter. Wiping phantom tears from his eyes the Jaberwock said. " We certainly do me dear. We certainly do."
Turning his attention to Blood the Jaberwock observed. " I can see why you've taken such a liking to our little foreigner here, but then again you have always had a knack for inspiring loyalty in surprising places." the Jaberwock remarked cryptically as his eyes focused on Elliot.
"You have been awfully quite Elliot March." berated the Jaberwock.
Elliot's face reddened as he responded. "I'm just a little tired,. I...I didn't sleep too well last night."
The Jaberwock's eyes narrowed in mock sympathy. "Ah nightmares can be most exhausting. Tell me, could you still feel the metal chain around your neck? Could you feel the bone chilling coldness of a damp cell sink through your skin?"
Alice shuddered at the vivid imagery the Jaberwock's words inspired.
Elliot's face drained of all color. "N no I just couldn't sleep." Elliot managed to whisper.
"Is that so?" the Jaberwock said softly. " Or could it be that you were frightened I would drag you back to your cell by the ears to await your death?"
Alice could see Elliot's body shaking in utter terror, and at that moment she hated the Jaberwock.
"But... but you can't." Elliot stuttered weakly.
"Can't I?" questioned the Jaberwock.
"That's enough." Blood said firmly with barley controlled rage. " You and I both know that you can't touch him." Blood said speaking to the Jaberwock.
The Jaberwock's smile was more malicious then ever. "Ah yes, rules. Whatever would we do without them?"
Blood ignored the Jaberwock's cryptic remark and turned to address his frightened friend. "Elliot, I have some paperwork that must get out by the end of the day. Please take care of that for me, the documents are in my office."
Elliot gave a great full look to Blood and hurried up the grassy slope to the mansion. Alice watched Elliot's retreating form and pondered over the conversation. Why couldn't the Jaberwock touch Elliot? When Alice came out of her momentary reprieve it was to find the Jaberwock gazing intently at her.
Tell me," the Jaberwock drawled with a smile lacking warmth. "What date have you set for your wedding?"
Although the question was directed at Alice it was Blood's voice that calmly yet briefly answered the Jaberwock's question.
"May seventh." responded Blood, eyes slightly narrowed.
Alice paled slightly at hearing the date. That was barley a month away! Blood couldn't honestly expect her to go along with this! As if sensing her state of mind Blood squeezed her hand tightly under the table indicating that he did in fact expect her to go along.
"So soon?" questioned the Jaberwock still smiling sickly sweet at Alice. "Is that right? Alice?"
"Yes." answered Alice. She was proud that despite her nerves her answer came out without the slightest tremor. "The flowers will be fully in bloom by then." she added for good measure.
Blood caressed the back of her hand with his thumb signaling that she had done well. Alice gave an inward sigh of relief. They were out of trouble now she thought. Turning her gaze away from the Jaberwock she took a sip of her cooling tea.
"Ah speaking of flowers" the Jaberwock said turning to Blood. "I hear you have a magnificent garden of roses." he finished gazing cooly at Blood.
Alice gagged on her sip of tea and began coughing as the liquid went down the wrong pipe. Blood patted her back several times then began rubbing small circles on her back once her coughing had subsided. How could the Jaberwock know about the garden?
"Indeed I do." said Blood tersely. "And who might I ask informed you of this?"
The Jaberwock's smile widened. "Oh I'm afraid I can't tell you that."
"Can't or won't?" Blood questioned. The tone of his voice turning from cold to ice.
The Jaberwock continued to smile."I must admit, I find it quite intriguing that the Queen of Hearts and head of the Hatter family share a commonality in their love of roses."
Alice felt Blood stiffen next to her as her own heart beat sped up. He couldn't know could he?
"I don't find that strange." said Alice quickly. "Roses are beautiful flowers. I can't think of one person who doesn't like them."
The Jaberwock turned his attention back to Alice. "Ah, you are quite right my dear. Roses are indeed a most beautiful flower. Perhaps you would be so kind as to show me this garden, so that I too might appreciate it's...beauty."
At the word beauty the Jaberwock's green eyes bore so intently into her own that Alice felt she was at peril of becoming trapped forever.
"That would be unacceptable." Blood said acidly. "Other then myself my fiancé is the only one permitted to enter the garden."
"The only one?" questioned the Jaberwock with a secret smile. "Well I wouldn't want to intrude now would I?" the Jaberwock's expression indicating the exact opposite. "However, I would like your bride to escort me around the property so that we may have a chance to... chat."
Alice's heart stopped, she did not want to be alone with this man.
"I don't think so." came Blood's quick response.
If at all possible the Jaberwock's grin became even wider. It was obvious that he was getting immense pleasure out of Blood's discomfort.
"Oh but my dear Mr. Dupre, you know the rules. It is customary that I interview all role holders of Wonderland." he finished. His emphasis on the word interview did not escape Alice's nor Blood's attention.
"Alice isn't a role holder." Blood replied. Alice thought she could detect a note of desperation in the Hatter's voice.
"Oh you are quite right, however, once becoming your wife she will also gain the title of role holder." said the Jaberwock indulgently, as if explaining to a small child how the world works.
Blood's anger rose at the Jaberwock's insulting tone of voice.
"Anything you have to say to Alice can be said within my presence." said Blood angrily.
"Correct me if I am wrong Mr. Dupre, but are you refusing to play by the rules?" asked the Jaberwock with a dangerous expression on his face.
Alice had been frightened of the Jaberwock since the moment that she met him, but never had he been quite so terrifying. A quick glance at Blood indicated that he wasn't about to back down on the mater. It was therefore Alice's responsibility to get them out of their current predicament.
"I'd be happy to show you the grounds." Alice said politely yet nervously.
Blood began to protest but Alice quickly stood and hurried on. " Oh it's alright Blood, I won't be gone long. Just a quick walk around the estate."
"Splendid." the Jaberwock said also standing.
Blood rose from his seat and pulled Alice into a tight embrace.
"What do you think you're doing?" he growled in her ear.
"I have to Blood." she whispered imploringly. "I have to, you know I do."
She felt the air leave his body in a defeated sigh. He gave her one final squeeze and released her.
The Jaberwock was looking on at them in evil delight. "Well, shall we my dear?" he asked while offering her the crock of his arm.
Swallowing the lump that seemed to continue reforming in her throat Alice nodded her head and began to step away from Blood. Then in one spontaneous motion Alice turned back to Blood, raised herself on her tiptoes, and pressed her lips quickly against his in a gentle kiss.
She was as surprised at herself as Blood was. This was the first time she had ever been the one to initiate any form of physical contact between the two of them. She didn't know why she did it. Maybe for comfort, maybe for reassurance, she didn't quite know. Alice quickly broke off the short kiss, checks ablaze, turned on her heel and accepted the Jaberwock's arm.
With one final glance at Blood she let the Jaberwock lead her down the path which circled the estate. The pair remained quite until they were out of hearing range then the Jaberwock spoke.
"And how are you liking the world of hearts my dear?" questioned the Jaberwock.
"I like it very much." Alice answered truthfully. "I've become familiar with most of the territories and their inhabitants."
"Is that so?" he questioned again with a glint in his eye.
"Yes, but I have to admit I'm not familiar with your territory. Where are you from?" questioned Alice. If she could direct the subject of their conversation then she wouldn't need to worry about the Jaberwock trying to pry information out of her.
"Ah", the Jaberwock exclaimed conversationally, "I'm afraid I can't tell you that. Needless to say I live in a very... secluded section of this world. " He finished with an ominous smile.
"That sounds lonely." Alice said quietly.
"Generally I find my solidarity enjoyable." he said.
"Oh well, that's good then." Alice said lamely. She wasn't too sure how to respond to that. She couldn't imagine enjoying being all alone.
Her stride was brought to an abrupt halt when the Jaberwock suddenly slithered directly in front of her. Alice let out a gasp of surprise and instantly tried to take a step backwards. The Jaberwock, however, was too fast. He quickly grasped her upper arms keeping her firmly pressed against his chest.
Startled by this strange mans behavior Alice looked startled up into his eyes trying to discern what was going on.
"However, I would gladly give that up if I were to find the right companion." he said silkily. Rubbing her arms almost gently as he talked.
Alice audibly gulped and tried to push back from the Jaberwock. " I have to ask you to let me go." Alice said continuing to wriggle in his grasp while looking from side to side, trying to see if any of the hatter residence were within sight. It appeared that they had walked ever father then she had thought. Alice spoke again trying to put as much bravado behind her words as possible. "This is entirely inappropriate. I'm engaged to Blood."
The Jaberwock startled her again by laughing, but he did not release her. "Oh my dear Alice," he said." There is no need to pretend. I know that Dupre tricked you into your engagement."
"What?" said Alice panicking. "I don't know what you.."
"Shhh." said the Jaberwock interrupting her."A little rabbit told me everything."
"Well you shouldn't believe everything you hear." Alice said angrily and renewed her attempts to brake free. The Jaberwock easily caught her flailing arms and pinned them to her sides. He grasped her right wrist that was encircled by her bracelet and brought it up to his face to examine.
"Nasty little thing isn't it?" The Jaberwock questioned calmly.
Before Alice could reply the Jaberwock used his grasp on her wrist to pull her even closer. "I can help you Alice." he whispered seductively. "Just tell me what I need to know about Blood Dupre and I'll get you home."
Alice was startled into temporary immobility. Home? She could go home? Alice couldn't deny that it was a very tempting offer.
"Or, if you would rather once Blood is taken care of, perhaps you would like to be my... companion." he whispered tracing her lips with his finger.
This action snapped Alice of her temporary paralysis. She drew her head back and out of his grasp. "Let me go." she said firmly.
"Mmm, but we're not finished here yet." said the Jaberwock grinning.
"Yes you are." said a voice filled with rage.
The Jaberwock glanced to his side to see a very irate Blood Dupre not ten feet away.
Alice used the Jaberwock's momentary lapse in concentration to throw herself backwards and out of the Jaberwock's grasp. She quickly made a wide circle around the Jaberwock and came to stand by Blood's side. The Jaberwock made a move to approach the two and Blood instantly pushed Alice behind him.
"Really Blood." the Jaberwock began with a smirk on his face. "There's no need to be so aggressive."
"No need?"Blood seethed. "You were suppose to be conducting a simple interview not harassing my fiancé."
"Oh but I couldn't help myself Dupre. I too am bound by the rules of this world." said the Jaberwock flashing a toothy smile at the Hatter.
Alice was confused by the Jaberwock's statement, however, Blood seemed to know perfectly well what this cryptic remark meant. From behind Blood Alice could hear a slight rumbling sound emitting from Blood's throat. The closest sound she could possibly compare it to was a growl. Blood's hand was grasping the top of his cane tightly as if he were just itching to pull out his machine gun. This action did not escape the Jaberwock's notice. If possible the Jaberwock's grin became even wider. Alice was beginning to think that this man may very well be related to the Cheshire cat.
"Well it appears my work here is done." said the Jaberwock. With a mocking bow to the pair he continued. "I thank you for your hospitality Blood Dupre."
Then rising he met Alice's gaze. "Oh and Alice, do remember what I said."
And with that final remark the Jaberwock strolled out of the Hatter's estate just as quickly as he had entered it.
That night Alice couldn't sleep. She lay wide awake in her bed starring up at the ceiling. The Jaberwock had terrified and frightened her, but she couldn't get his offer out of her head. She kept telling herself that she would find a way out of this mess, but so far she hadn't even come close to figuring it out. An even scarier question that had been lurking in the back of her mind was did she even want to find a way out? That was silly, of course she wanted to find a way out. Of course she wanted to go home.
As it had turned out Blood hadn't overheard the offer the Jaberwock had made her. After the Jaberwock had vanished Blood asked her what he had spoken with her about and Alice had told him everything, except for the offer.
Finally resigning herself to the fact that she wasn't about to get any sleep tonight Alice rose from her bed and padded bare foot softly down the corridor.
A small portion of the hall was illuminated by the narrow strip of light emitting from under the door to Blood's study. Alice found herself stopped in front of the study door. Her hand, as if acting of it's own accord was hovering over the handle. The butterfly's in her stomach were fluttering around in a nervous panic. Her body was tingling and breathing was becoming something that she had to consciously do. The mere thought of Blood did strange things to her now. Swallowing down her panic Alice grasped the cold knob and watched as her hand slowly turned the knob.
As the door opened it revealed the sight of an uncharacteristically unruly Blood Dupree. His hat and coat had been discarded, his necktie was hanging loose around his neck, and the first few buttons of his vest and shirt had been undone. He was sitting slumped on the couch. Legs spread out in front of him and head flung back resting against the top of the couch. His gaze directed skyward.
Alice stood nervously in the doorway. Blood was so caught up in his thoughts that he apparently hadn't heard the door opening. Maybe she should go. Her body made an awkward motion caught between turning to leave and fighting to stay. Taking another look at him did a strange thing to her heart. He looked like his world was falling apart and she found herself wanting to comfort him, give him strength.
At that moment Blood's eyes flickered in her direction. His eyes widened slightly in surprise at discovering he wasn't alone. He immediately straightened his posture and masked his face into indifference.
"My my what trouble are you causing stalking around the mansion at this time of night?" Blood asked snidely.
Alice bristled at his tone and insinuation. She was about to tell him off until she caught sight of his eyes. He could mask his face, but in his eyes she saw panic and...maybe a hint of fear. Alice's anger instantly died at the sight.
Alice found herself walking silently towards Blood. Her body once again taking action of it's own accord. The hammering of heart seemed to have stirred the butterfly's into a mad frenzy. What was she doing? Maybe she was sick. Blood's eyes followed her the entire journey across the room until she stood directly in front of him.
He questioned her with eyes, and Alice realized that words couldn't possibly answer that question. Alice slowly leaned forward, giving him plenty of time to reject her if he wanted. Blood seemed confused by her actions until she pressed her lips softly against his. For a brief second Blood sat completely still and Alice feared she had done something wrong. However, before she could move half a centimeter away Blood wrapped an arm behind her head pressing her lips against his once more. His other arm came around her waist and pushed her forward. Alice accommodated and positioned herself so that she was now straddling his legs.
His lips moved hungrily against hers, and she was no longer nervous. Alice found herself responding with enthusiasm that matched Blood's own. In a daring move she darted her tongue into his mouth. Blood made an almost primal sound in response to her action. Alice took her time exploring the confines of his mouth, Blood's arms slid around her back pressing her tighter against his body as he expertly took over the kiss. He kissed her slowly but passionately and Alice slid her hand up against his exposed chest; feeling the hard contortions of his muscles underneath her fingertips.
Alice was a bit shocked and disappointed when Blood suddenly ended the kiss. Resting his head against her forehead the silence was only broken by the pairs heavy labored breathing. Alice looked questionably into Blood's eyes. In response Blood smiled and brushed a stray strand of hair behind her ear, then quickly picked her up and maneuvered them into a new position.
Blood was lying on his back and he had pulled Alice to his side so that his arm rested around her waist and her head laid cushioned on his chest. Alice was still a bit startled by Blood's abrupt ending of their kiss, she had never imagined that he would rather cuddle then well... other things. Giving an inward shrug Alice wrapped her arm around his torso in a hug. If cuddling up with Blood would help ease his mind, well she was happy to do it.
Blood kissed the top of her head and rest his check against her head.
"Stay with me tonight." Blood whispered.
In response Alice just hugged him tighter. She would stay with him tonight,... but she couldn't promise to always do so. Especially with the Jaberwock's offer still lingering in the back of her mind.
A/N: Well I hope you all enjoyed this chapter. In the next installment we will take a deeper look at the Jaberwock's past, and Alice will be forced to make a decision.