curse the flame (cursetheflame) wrote,
curse the flame
cursetheflame

Fic: out of the frying pan (and into the fire)

title: out of the frying pan (and into the fire)
fandom: SyFy's Alice
characters: Hatter, Alice, Charlie
rating: K+
summary: set during the beginning of part II; Trapped in an elevator with Charlie and Alice, trying to outrun a posse of Suits after discovering the identity of Alice's boyfriend, Hatter can’t help but think that, sometimes, it just doesn’t pay to leave the Tea House.
disclaimer: the characters in this story are the property of SyFy and Nick Willing and are only used for fan related purposes; any dialogue used is from the actual mini-series and is only used to further the story.



Luck was certainly on their side. The elevator door ping-ed open just as the three of them arrived; without another thought—and without another exit in sight—Hatter, Alice and Charlie piled inside the empty elevator like three sardines jumping into the can.

Charlie had led the way and was now standing in the back of the elevator, a look of wonder on his face, his mustache curled up above a curious grin; ever since he followed Hatter to the casino—because nothing Hatter had done could shake the old Knight—to try to rescue Alice, Charlie had been acting as if this was the most fun he’d had in decades. Alice, though, she was less pleased. A bit miffed, actually, Hatter thought, and would it have killed her to say thank you?

Alice watched him suspiciously as he ran into the elevator last, one hand out and pushing against Charlie’s armor before they collided, the other lunging for the control panel once he turned around and righted himself. “Up?” she demanded, harsher than Hatter felt was necessary, “Why up?”

“Do we have a choice?” Hatter countered, a slight hint of panic sneaking into his voice. He swallowed, trying to keep it cool, but that was far easier said than done. He was in the Hearts Casino, he had some of the queen’s men running after them, and just because that rabbit-headed menace wasn’t there yet, it didn’t mean he wasn’t coming.

So, no, they didn’t have one, of course. A choice, that is.

Goin’ up…

Hatter pressed the up button on the elevator because, of all the children’s stories he’d heard of, he wasn’t in the sort with a glass elevator that went this way or that way or up through the roof and across the sky. Hatter had to settle on a good old-fashioned elevator making it to the rooftop, goodness knows how many Suits following close behind them.

For the moment, though, locked in the sanctuary the small, cramped elevator allowed, Hatter couldn’t help but let his frantic mind settle on one thing: getting out of the Hearts Casino with Alice in one piece (and her head intact, preferably) and, well, with Charlie too, he supposed.

He had to come up with a plan, that much was clear—but what could they do? Alice was good at running and Charlie liked to talk a lot… Hatter knew Wonderland like the back of his hand—except for the parts of it hidden, of course—but, as far as he was concerned, the Hearts Casino wasn’t really even part of his Wonderland, his home. Hatter avoided going there if he could help it, usually doing his dealing with the queen’s Suits in his back office of the Tea House; he’d certainly never been to the casino’s rooftop before.

Add that to Alice’s inconvenient fear of heights—quite inconvenient since she’d found herself in a land built far up above the ground—and Hatter had a feeling she wasn’t going to be much help when they got to the top unless oysters had the ability to sprout wings and fly, but he didn’t think that was so likely. Besides, she would ruin his coat if she uncased a set of wings all of a sudden.

Hatter almost let out a queer laugh between glancing up and looking back at the lights on the control panel. He knew madness ran in the family, but he’d never thought of himself as one of the Mad Hatters until just now. Look at him. He was in an elevator with an old knight that, by all rights shouldn’t even exist anymore, and a renegade oyster, the Queen of Hearts’ men chasing them and he was worrying about an oyster growing wings. He should be more considered with a hatter losing his head (and, with the queen involved, not just figuratively).

He gave himself a small jerk but he couldn’t help but think: Ah, hell. We’re doomed.
It didn’t help matters either that Charlie seemed absolutely oblivious to the amount of trouble they were all in; or, if he did, he wasn’t so concerned. He was prattling on and on in that way of his, making some sense and no sense, something about pledging himself and his allegiance to the Alice of Legend.

“Please, Charlie, it’s just plain Alice.”

Even Alice sounded bothered when she answered him but Charlie didn’t care.

“Just plain Alice,” he continued unperturbed, “I will stand at your side, shoulder to shoulder, knee to—”

Hatter tried not to pay attention to what was going on behind him, but that was almost impossible. Another quick glance at the panel revealed that the casino floors were passing by like a blur and they were nearly halfway to the top already. He needed to think but he couldn’t think and, damn it, Charlie wasn’t helping at all!

“Charlie?” he interrupted, his eyes closed and his lips pulling into a panicked sort of frown. Why wasn’t the old knight shutting up? “Now’s not such a good time.”

“You guys shouldn’t have come,” Alice said, directing her words at Hatter. “You could get yourselves killed.”

Hatter didn’t know what he expected for all his heroics. A thank you would have been nice, a hug quite enjoyable and, well, a small kiss was certainly not out of the question. But being told that his actions had been in vain? Not even a sympathy smile? That was gratitude for you.

Trying not to let her less-than-welcoming reaction bother him, he changed the subject by asking, “Did you give the ring up, Alice?”

“Look, I had things under control.”

Even she didn’t look like she believed herself. And how could she? When Charlie’s interesting directions led Hatter to her, he found her in a room with no floor in a place that Charlie said was inside her head. How in the world could that be considered ‘under control’?

And then Hatter knew. “You tried to cut a deal with the queen, didn’t ya?”

“I was getting close.”

At least she had the decency to look a little ashamed. And after all the times he made sure to warn her that the queen was dangerous and not to be trifled with. He knew she was from the other world and all but it seemed like they spoke the same language. Was her stubbornness really that bad that she heard “don’t go to the Hearts Casino” and interpreted it as “the Hearts Casino gives all oysters free tea and biscuits”?

Or, Hatter wondered, maybe it was still this Jack fellow of hers…

“Gettin’ close?” Hatter shot back, the thought of Alice risking her head for her Jack making him antsier than what would happen when that elevator door finally opened again. “Maybe I’m wrong but negotiations didn’t seem to be goin’ so well.”

“Well, I need more time.”

Honestly, it was like talking to a brick wall. “For what? You really think the queen’s just gonna send you and your boyfriend home?”

“No.” She wasn’t meeting his eyes but Hatter was too relieved that she was actually agreeing with him for once to notice her sudden hesitance at first.

“No, of course not!” he agreed. Immediately he turned his thoughts back to the ring, to keeping Alice safe, maybe even help her get home—if, of course, she didn’t want to stay—and searching out the Resistance… anything but Alice and her Jack. More than ever, Hatter just wanted to get as far away from the casino as he possibly could. He’d always been considered a friend to the Hearts but he was fooling himself if he thought that either the royalty or the Resistance wanted to be friends after all this.

Still, it would work all out in the end. He was Hatter, after all. Things always seemed to work out for him. His thoughts about just how that could possibly happen this time, however, were cut short when Alice spoke next:

“Because he’s her son,” she admitted in a tumbled out rush of words, turning her head and dropping her gaze to the floor when she finished so that there was no denying where her eyes fell.

Hatter was still out of breath, from running or from his quick, frantic discussion with Alice. Maybe both—or maybe because his breath hitched in the back of his throat the second Alice’s hurried words met his ears. Stumped by her admission, he heard himself recover, but still breathing heavily, trying to understand what she had said, trying to make sense out of something so entirely senseless.

“The prince?” he asked at last, “Jack Heart? Jack Heart is your boyfriend?”

It’s not that he wanted to sound so disbelieving or that it was his intent to offend her but… Jack Heart? The Queen of Hearts’ son? He was the oyster Alice chased after into Wonderland to save?

Well, at least that explained what he was doing with the stone of Wonderland…

Hatter was done with having questions asked but not getting any answers in return. Choosing to forget just how many questions of hers he’d conveniently side-stepped since they first met, Hatter waited on bated breath—or, it would’ve been if he’d gotten back under control after their mad dash across the front lobby—for her reply.

It never came. Not yet anyway.

There was nothing like perfect timing, Hatter cursed. The elevator door opened before Alice could answer him and, wouldn’t you know, there was already a pair of Suits waiting to greet them on the rooftop. It was easy to tell that they weren’t part of the posse chasing them up from the ground floor but they were still the Queen of Hearts’ men. As soon as they saw the trio emerge from the elevator, they were more than prepared to stop them.

Hatter didn’t have time for this. He was still trying to get over the last ambush; a fight with a couple of Suits was the last thing he wanted to deal with after Alice’s bombshell.

Jack Heart and Alice…

See, he didn’t really know Jack Heart, but what he did know he didn’t like. He was the king and queen’s only son, heir to the throne and Wonderland’s most eligible bachelor—at least, he had been Wonderland’s most eligible bachelor until he announced his engagement to that blonde tart, Duchess. Jack Heart with his perfect hair, each platinum strand in its place; that stupid suit the prince wore, so plain and boring and without a single paisley print in sight; that snooty expression Hatter considered all royalty born with that told the entire world they were better than you.

He was Alice’s boyfriend?

Hatter took a split second to be curious over whether Alice knew about the prince’s engagement or not. From the expression he caught on her profile when she told him about Jack in the elevator to the strange way she’d been acting ever since Hatter and Charlie risked life and limb to rescue her, something told Hatter that Alice knew plenty more things than when she left the two men behind at Charlie’s fortress. Unless he was imagining that distant spark in her eyes, Alice had the look of one who’d followed a Cheshire Cat.

He wanted to kick himself for not noticing it when he saved her from that room without a floor; at the same time, part of him wanted to know what the Cat had shown her. Cheshire Cats only appeared when they had something show, and then they only appeared to those they wanted to show it to. More often than not an encounter with a grim, grinning feline could leave a person mad, either from the sight itself or the Cat’s wicked grin. He’d never heard of a Cheshire Cat showing itself to an oyster—then again, when ever had an oyster been loose in Wonderland? And, really, what was it that one of the foul beasts would’ve shown Alice?

He would have to make sure he asked her, if they actually made it out of this mess that is. First, though, he had to deal with the pair of Suits hurrying towards them.

Hatter rushed out to meet the one who seemed like the bigger threat, the one rushing out to meet them, leaving his partner to Charlie and Alice. He had to give the guy credit: he was quicker than Hatter expected; that, or Hatter’s blows were simply wild. His timing was off, his mind unable to shake the image of the snooty prince even standing alongside Alice, and he missed two punches before a lucky blow from the Suit caught him on the side of his head.

It didn’t knock any sense in his head, but the hit did knock Hatter’s trusty hat to the ground—which, if it wasn’t for the fact that he was still dealing with the punches the Suit was throwing at him, would’ve made Hatter really mad. He took the blows willingly, waiting for the moment to get his own back.

It wasn’t coming as fast as he would’ve liked.

The Suit had his hand against Hatter’s throat which didn’t seem quite fair; even worse, the big brute backed him against the edge of the rooftop, laying his head against the cement siding. Without the brim of his hat to obscure his vision, Hatter glanced behind him, got a good eyeful of the Wonderland he was trying his damndest to protect and decided that he’d had enough.

Using his powerful right hand to reverse their positions, Hatter had the bastard by the throat. A quick blow to his gut made him weak, and then another to the back of the Suit’s head and their fight was over. With the man doubled over, Hatter wiped his hand against his lip, checking for blood, before bending over and retrieving his fallen hat. Turning to check on his opponent, he saw that the man was staggering towards him again. Hatter used a hat trick that came easily to him, transferring his poor hat to his left hand in order to free up his right.

His right fist took pleasure in delivering the last blow in the name of Hatter’s hat. He waited for the Suit to fall before returning his porkpie back where it belonged.

Alright, he conceded, now it was over.

During his own tussle, he’d managed to catch a glimpse of what was going on in the background. As he adjusted his hat, he watched as Charlie, with a well aimed bop on the head and some choice words—“Bow to the Hand of Diocles!”—finished off the second Suit. But he knew better than to assume that Charlie had any hand (except for that bop) in his defeat. That was all Alice.

First Dodo, now a Suit. That flip had been amazing and she was barely out of breath herself. Hatter had been wrong about thinking that Alice wouldn’t be any help when she got to the roof. He’d forgotten about her habit of taking on men twice her size, but the Suit sprawled out on the rooftop was an indicator that she wasn’t the sort of damsel in distress in any of the children’s books he knew of.

Hatter was beginning to feel as if everything he’d ever read was a lie. Then again, he was descended from characters himself, so there was that…

Bowing his head, both agreeing with his own assessments and also showing just how impressed he was with Alice, Hatter rushed forward to join her and Charlie. Sure, they’d beaten two Suits but there were ten times that still coming after them. He was surprised they hadn’t made it to the roof already but that didn’t mean they wouldn’t be there shortly.
Alice was obviously thinking along the same lines as him. “What now?” she asked, turning towards Hatter.

Of course. He was always the one with the plan, wasn’t he?

He had one then, too. Not that he was expecting a little compassion for the hits he’d taken but come on already. A little something, eh?

Keeping that thought to himself, Hatter turned and pointed at his plan. “We get on one of those.” As if someone had expected them, there were three Flamingo Fliers parked right at the edge of the roof. Charlie rushed toward them, amazed, and Hatter followed. He noticed Alice lingering as far away as she could but simply said, “Get on.”

Nobody did at first. Charlie was jabbering on again, stroking the front of the Flamingo, Hatter was checking out the backend of his Flamingo while Alice… well, it wasn’t so difficult to see that she was leery at best (and terrified at worse).

“These things fly?” she asked in amazement. Her very tone indicated that she thought the idea crazy and wanted Hatter to tell her no.

“We don’t have time to think, Alice, just get on,” Hatter retorted, climbing on one himself. Charlie was already positioning his body comfortably on the middle Flamingo but Alice, after one quick glance down, was already backing away.

“I am not getting on that.”

Ah, so that was it. He knew her fear of heights was going to bite them in the bum in the end. For a moment he thought about being sympathetic before remembering the Suits that had to be arriving soon. As it was, it was pretty damn amazing that it had taken the men this long already to climb up the stairs. He doubted their luck would hold out any longer and he told her such in a few succinct words:

“You don’t have another choice.”

“You don’t understand,” she argued, the panic in her voice evident this time, “I’m not getting on that.”

“It’s perfectly safe,” Hatter shot back before realizing that he couldn’t really be sure. He’d never actually flown a Flamingo before, but if a Suit could do it, so could he. Still, being around Alice taught him that he should be as honest as he could and he amended his words by adding, “Safe-ish.”

“No,” Alice cried, the panic rising. “I have a thing about flying.”

And then, as if on cue, the Suits that were chasing them finally decided to arrive. With guns.

Wonderful.

Hatter had to work hard to keep his voice even. “Yes, I’ve gotta a thing about bullets. Look,” he said, trying to compromise before Alice’s fear got them all killed, “I’ll do the flying, all you have to do is hold on.” She was still hesitating, still looking like being shot was a better option than climbing onto a Flamingo with Hatter. If it wasn’t for the seriousness of the situation, he might’ve been offended by that. Instead, he decided to try that honesty thing again. “Look at me. I wouldn’t let you do it if I didn’t think you’d be okay.”

Amazingly enough, she actually seemed to believe him. At any rate, she climbed on right behind him.

All the while, Charlie had spent their exchange closely examining his Flamingo, still seemingly oblivious to the gunshots and the group of men emerging from the exit at the far end of the rooftop. Murmuring more to himself than to his companions, he mused out loud, “How do you get it to fly?”

There was a red button on the back of the Flamingo’s head. With one small push, Charlie was off, screaming at the fast pace of the ride.

“Like that, I suppose,” Hatter quipped, watching the stream of smoke that emitted from the back of Charlie’s Flamingo.

“That’s fast,” Alice observed, the fear in her voice even more noticeable. Hatter didn’t need to turn around to know that her mouth would be dropped open or that her eyes would be staring wide.

Which was a good thing, of course, since his eyes were glued to Charlie’s track ahead of them. “Oh, yeah,” he agreed, his finger poised above the red button on their Flamingo. “Hold on.” And then he jabbed it, quickly, before he lost his nerve too. They left in a storm of gunfire as the Suits finally made it to the edge, the Flamingo thankfully outstripping the bullets.

It was nice to feel her arms around his waist, her front pressed up against his back as she fearfully clung to him. He would never admit he was a little scared himself, but having her on the Flamingo with him did wonders for his bravado. Switching from the swashbuckling hero to a cheeky bastard came easily to him, especially now that they’d had a head start and he only had to worry about a couple of Suits instead of twenty.

Though, looking back on it, it probably wasn’t the best idea to leave that one Flamingo still there...

But they were free for the moment, streaking away from the Hearts Casino, from the dangerous queen—and from Jack Heart. Hatter felt a small surge of jealousy run through him at the name. Feeling safer now, and knowing that she couldn’t dodge this question while she was sitting behind him hundreds of feet above the water, he couldn’t help but mutter, “I suppose it’s his lofty airs and graces, huh?”

He didn’t call the prince by name but they both knew exactly who he was talking about.

“He doesn’t have airs and graces,” Alice replied. She loosened her grip around his waist, pulling slightly away from him as if his question offended her, but she didn’t completely let go. Maybe it was wrong of him to use her fear against her, but Hatter was used to doing what he had to to get answers. He’d made a life out of playing both sides of the court, out of smuggling and trading for information… this, as far as he was concerned, wasn’t anything different.

Except that Alice was different from any person he’d ever known.

“What then?” he asked, unwilling to give up.

But Hatter was wrong about that, too: Alice, it seemed, could dodge the question.

“Look, just shut up and drive,” she ordered. But she did lean back into him again, holding on tightly in a way that made him drop the subject. For now, at least.

He didn’t know what lay before him, what he was going to do and, hell, if he was even going to survive Alice’s adventure in Wonderland, but one thing was for sure: he wasn’t going to give up on this. On her. On… on everything. And he certainly was going to find out what it was that attracted Alice to Jack Heart.

Besides his title…

His money…

His looks…

And his power—

—but, Hatter thought, just in time for a set of Flamingo-riding Suits to appear behind them, at least he was the one with the dashing hat.

Tags: alice, fic, writing
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