When Alice awoke she felt terrible. The sleep tonic did not rid her of the horrible emotions she was feeling. She did not want to be trapped here. She had nothing but bad memories of this place. Well that wasn't entirely true, she corrected thinking about Hatter. She pulled herself from the bed and made her way to the bathroom. She hadn't had a shower since she had come through the looking glass. She groaned audibly in pleasure at the feel of the water pouring over her. She had felt disgusting and grimy before because of all the time spent in the forest and her joints were painful and tense but the water washed it all away. Stepping out of the shower, she wrapped a towel around herself before walking back into the room. She picked up the bag Owl had given her and tipped the contents onto the bed. It was not a good situation.
She tried on some of the underwear before accepting that she would have to wear them even though they were loose. She was extremely uncomfortable in the selection of bras that were in the bag. The cup sizes were all wrong but she found one that wasn't too tight. She turned her attention to the dresses. That was all that was there; dresses. Owl had obviously thought it was her preference to wear dresses as addled as she was. Most of them were brightly colored or were sundresses with flamboyant patterns. They didn't suit her mood at all. She was not happy. She couldn't sit comfortably in a yellow dress while feeling terrible. She soon found a black dress, which was perfect for her horrid mood and she pulled it on. It was a little tight but it didn't look out of place on her.
Returning the rest of the clothes back into the bag, she faced the mirror. It was the first time since she went through the looking glass that she had seen her reflection and it was a drastic difference. She looked tired and miserable. Her eyes had bags and they weren't as sparkly as they were. She sighed and combed her hands through her soaking hair. Smiling pitifully into the mirror she decided to go find Hatter.
She made her way up into where the kitchen was and looked around. No sign of him there. She kept walking and she was surprised to find how big the place was. She soon found herself in a room that was like a living room. There was a fireplace burning brightly and there were two armchairs and a sofa. The fire was so calming that she couldn't help but sit in one of the armchairs. She sighed in comfort and she noticed a bookshelf in the corner. In interest she stood and examined it. Her eyes passed over many titles she did not recognize but then her eyes hit one that she knew all too well.
'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland' the title called out brightly. She smiled softly and grabbed it. She settled on the sofa this time and opened it. She hadn't read it since she was a kid and it would be a good way to relax and forget for a while.
When Hatter came into the living room he couldn't help but smile. Alice was sitting there reading the book that fictionalized his world with a small content smile on her face. It was the first time he had seen her relaxed since he had met her. Even though she looked rested he could see the lingering sadness that existed in her face. The loss of her father had taken a pretty big toll on her and he would just have to do his best to make her feel better. Hatter was beginning to dread the day when the looking glass worked again and she would have to leave. He wanted her to stay.
Soon Alice noticed she was being watched and she glanced up with a smile.
"Sorry, I couldn't resist. It was strange reading it after meeting most of the prominent characters." He nodded smiling gently before coming to join her on the sofa. She placed the book to the side before turning to him.
"How're you feeling now? I know it's been a pretty hectic time for you and now everything's calmed down, it's probably all sinking in?" he asked, clearly offering for her to talk about it. She nodded and sighed.
"Yeah, you could say that. It's just I've spent most of my adult life searching for my father and now he's gone; for real. It's only really sinking in now and it's a strange feeling. I'm full of sadness because he's gone but at the same time, there's a type of satisfaction. I'm satisfied because I was with him when he died and I know he didn't leave me on purpose," she told him and she smiled sadly but strong.
He was amazed by her. Her emotions were so strong and open. In Wonderland, the only time people showed emotion was if they'd had the right tea but Alice hadn't been affected by them. She was experiencing pure, raw emotions and it was exhilarating. Of course, he didn't want her to be upset though. He hoped he would get to see more of her genuine happy emotions.
"So where did you go? I looked for you when I woke up but you were gone?" she questioned. He seemed to think for a minute whether he should tell her.
"I was with Jack again. He needs all the help he can get right now. I was right, Alice. There are rogue Wonderlanders and they know about the remaining oysters," Hatter stopped momentarily, taking a deep breath before he explained the worst.
"We tried to protect all of them but…we didn't manage to save them all. The rogues think they can get the emotions still. They won't quit until they get what they want. They believe they've found…ways to get the emotions. I've seen it, the stuff they do…it's…horrible. I don't want you to panic Alice but…" he broke off trying to say it the best way but she understood.
"They're coming for me," she stated evenly and Hatter sighed but nodded.
"Don't worry though. This place is impenetrable. They want you because you're an oyster but also because you destroyed the regime. They're looking for revenge on the side." Alice was silent before turning to him.
"How do they kill the oysters?" Hatter shook his head with a pained look.
"Alice, you really don't want to…." She cut him off. She was not someone to be babied away from the truth.
"How?" she asked firmer this time. He nodded slightly and looked away from her.
"Alice, they're literally tearing 'em apart. That's the most popular way. They're convinced that they can still access the emotions if they," he swallowed heavily, looking disgusted, before continuing, "Ingest the remains. It's not a pretty sight. That's why Jack's keeping this place guarded now. We've got suits and agents stationed all around the perimeter. If anyone is near, we'll know." Alice shook but nodded.
This was terrible. Innocent people were being murdered by what Alice could only compare to as drug addicts, who have lost their only way to their fix. There had to be a way of stopping this.
"What can I do to help? I can't sit around while people are dying because of me," she said desperately.
"Alice, I'm sorry but there's nothing you can do. If you leave this place, you will be killed and there is no way in hell I will let what I saw today happen to you. The best thing for you to do is to wait until everything has righted itself. Jack is working the best he can, trying to figure out a way to fix the ring. He's asked Charlie to help out. He may not be all there but he's the closest thing we have to a White Knight and he may know a way to fix it." Alice shook her head unhappily and Hatter sighed.
"Alice I swear to you that I will do everything I can to help the other oysters and I'll make sure you're kept up to date with everything." She nodded but could not manage to smile at him and he pushed her hair back out of her eyes.
"Okay. Well let's go have something to eat and then if you want you can go back to reading your book." She followed him into the kitchen obediently but Alice was not going to give up so quickly. She was going to make a plan. After she finished her dinner, she cleared her throat and Hatter looked up.
"Thank you for…well whatever that was, it was great. I think I'm going to go to bed now. I think my body is trying to catch up on the sleep it's missed," she said getting to her feet and Hatter nodded.
"Okay, well if you need anything, my room is just around the corner there," he said pointing to the left of the room. She nodded and made to leave but she stopped and stood in front of him hesitantly. He looked up at her in interest from his spot still seated. Before she could chicken out, she leaned down and pecked him on the cheek. His eyebrows rose in surprise.
"What was that for?" he asked with a small smile. She blushed and wrung her hands nervously.
"I wanted to thank you for…well everything. If it wasn't for you I would have died when I got here but here you are still looking after me now. So thank you."
"Don't mention it. I'll always help you. Whenever you need me to," he answered seriously. Alice nodded and turned, leaving the room. She was so confused about what to do with that man. She knew she felt something for him but what if he didn't feel the same? What if all the rescuing and chivalry had been just because she was a friend in need? She needed to find out for sure but at the present she needed a plan. She was going to help the oysters in some way. She just needed to work out how.
The most pressing problem was getting out of here. There was no way Hatter would let her leave and there were guards everywhere. The guards shouldn't be any problem; she'd taken them on before and won. She just had to wait until Hatter left the place and sneak out. She was not stupid; she would find a weapon to protect herself with when she went. She could not stay safely in this place, getting special treatment when there were people just like her being killed out there. She was in no way more important than them.
Changing into a ratty old dress, she slipped into the soft, warm bed and soon sleep overtook her again.
Hatter was sitting in the living room, trying to think of some strategy to help the oysters. He hadn't lied to Alice before; he would do everything he could for them. The problem was, the Wonderlanders were too good at hiding and they were having trouble finding them. He growled in anger and thrust another sheet of scrunched up paper into the flames in the fireplace. He placed his head in his hands and groaned. He had been so sure everything would be better. But as one war ended, another began. He hadn't been completely honest with Alice before. The place was not totally impenetrable. There were definitely ways that the rogues could get in but he prayed they would not get past the guards. Alice was his main priority now. He would die protecting her, willingly.
He was extremely confused by the woman. He had spent the entire journey they had been on feeling immense jealousy towards Jack Heart but then right at the end she had turned the king down. He didn't know what to make of that and he hoped she felt the way he did. He had never felt anything close to love before in his life. Sure, of course there were girls but they hadn't meant much and you could get love in tea form but what was the point. He had always had this view. He did not drink the emotion tea. He found it immoral and cruel. Of course, he had tasted them. He hadn't had much choice. Working as head of a tea shop he'd had to attend formal occasions with the Queen and he would be forced to drink the vile stuff. That was the original reason he had invested in buying some sleep tonic to lace into his bed. All the false emotions he had been having threw his sleeping patterns out of whack and also made him too edgy. It had gotten to a point where Dormie had had to cover for him, saying he was sick because he had descended into madness once. It was a rare reaction for some Wonderlanders to the tea but he had for weeks been nonsensical and rambling about writing desks and such.
He was broken from his train of thought by muffled cries coming from Alice's room. He jumped up immediately and ran for her room. The only thing that flashed through his mind was that the rogues had gotten in somehow and were killing her. THAT was enough to almost send him into madness. Opening her door hurriedly he looked around. There was no one in the room. He breathed out in relief but then his attention turned on Alice in the bed. She was tossing and turning with a restless look on her face. He approached the bed slowly.
"Daddy? No please…Don't take him away. I've just gotten you back. Please," she sobbed in her sleep and Hatter gently shook her arm. Her eyes opened and looked around wildly. They soon rested on Hatter, who had a pitying look on his face and she choked a sob.
"I thought…I thought it had been a dream. That he was still here," Alice sobbed as she looked at him and Hatter sighed before sitting on the bed and pulling her close. She cried into his shoulder, releasing all the pent up emotion from her father's death.
A/N: Hope you enjoyed it! I took inspiration for the Wonderlanders going insane over the Tea thing from drug addicts because the whole mini-series basically hints to that. Please review and more will come soon :)