save_us_alice: (mirror powers)
(Happens after Alice's trip to the Nexus post-breakup with Victor. Further reading can be done under the "return of the king" tag for both Alice and Victor.)

They’ve been delaying this for a while – they’d be the first to admit it. Both of them have been nervous about taking this step. But they need to see if they can settle this somehow. Victor really can’t live with the King of Hearts always in the back of his head, even if said King has stopped trying to hurt him. Victor misses the days when it was just his own thoughts inside of his mind – and he’s started having some rather frightening nightmares. Ones that involve burning castles and painful last kisses. . . . My death, the King had explained somberly. As you may have gathered, it was quite unpleasant.

Alice knows far too much about nightmares to let Victor suffer unnecessarily. So here they are, standing at the mirror in Victor’s room. “Are you ready?” Alice asks.

Victor swallows. “I don’t know,” he admits. “Part of me still feels that – we’re asking for trouble, doing this.” He shakes his head. “But this can’t go on. And if your friends there think this is the best way to get him out. . . .”

Alice nods. “Then let’s be off.” She places one hand through the mirror, then extends the other to Victor. He takes it, and together they step back through into Wonderland.

Date: 2011-02-27 02:57 am (UTC)From: [identity profile]
Wonderland is much as they left it before – the sky is bright blue, filled with fluffy white clouds, while the ground is a checkerboard of white and black tiles. Victor feels the King peering at it all through his eyes. “What do you think?” he asks quietly.

It’s beautiful, the King says, sound a little – choked up? I – I hadn’t realized. . .how much I missed this place. Of course, I was dead before, then there was the problem with your perceptions of yourself. . . .

“Yes, I know,” Victor says, grimacing. He hates how his self-loathing was thrown into such stark relief by the incident, but in a way he’s glad too. Maybe now he can get some proper help.

Date: 2011-02-27 02:59 am (UTC)From: [identity profile]
Alice looks around. “Well, where to? Do we talk to the Pale Royals, or do we try and seek out either Caterpillar or the Gnome Elder?” she muses aloud.

Date: 2011-02-27 03:01 am (UTC)From: [identity profile]
“What could the White King and Queen help us with?” Victor asks out of honest confusion. He liked them well enough on his first visit, of course, but he was under the impression Caterpillar was the one you went to in situations like these.

Date: 2011-02-27 03:02 am (UTC)From: [identity profile]
"Well, the White Queen is a master at remembering things forwards and backwards," Alice explains. "I was hoping she could give us some hints as to how to proceed."

Date: 2011-02-27 03:03 am (UTC)From: [identity profile]
“That’s a thought,” Victor admits. “Having a little outside help of that sort would be nice.”

And I would like to say hello, if I could, the King adds.

Date: 2011-02-27 03:07 am (UTC)From: [identity profile]
"Or one could simply ask me," a voice purrs from a nearby tree.

Both Alice and Victor turn to see Cheshire up on a branch nearby, smiling down at them. "Oh, hello Cheshire," Alice says. "Have any good advice for us?"

"Perhaps, but it all depends on whether you'll take it." He jumps down lightly and looks up at Victor. "I'm glad you convinced her not to be noble in this instance. We cats can get on alone, but Alices are quite different creatures."

Alice blushes. "Mangy old puss," she mutters, scuffing the ground with a boot.

Date: 2011-02-27 03:10 am (UTC)From: [identity profile]
"It wasn't me," Victor admits honestly. "Another friend of ours convinced her it would be better not to go through this apart. I came along after they'd already had the conversation." Looking at Alice, he adds, "Though I was prepared to do what I could to convince her that we shouldn't part over this." He's never going to forget how badly he felt when she tried to leave him. And he's always going to be grateful to April for talking some sense into her.

Date: 2011-02-27 03:13 am (UTC)From: [identity profile]
"Good -- glad to see you're a match for her stubbornness," Cheshire says. "I was starting to worry there wasn't one."

Alice rolls her eyes. "You could be a bit more respectful, considering I saved this entire world from ruin," she scolds.

"Yes, I could, but I doubt such behavior would suit me," Cheshire responds. Looking back at Victor, he adds, "I imagine we have enough of that sort of thing embodied in your paramour. Though he doesn't suggest our dear departed King to me."

Date: 2011-02-27 03:14 am (UTC)From: [identity profile]
Victor smiles and mentally steps backward, letting the King out into the forefront. His eyes turn pitch black as the King grins at Cheshire. "Oh, I don't know about that," he says. "Wasn't I alternately pale and dark as well?"

Date: 2011-02-27 03:16 am (UTC)From: [identity profile]
Congratulations, boys, you've actually startled Cheshire, who didn't quite believe all this was happening. He makes a quick retreat behind Alice's boots. "Typical of a Spade," he replies, trying to sound smooth and not quite succeeding. "Yet somehow Master Van Dort is paler and darker than you ever were."

Date: 2011-02-27 03:18 am (UTC)From: [identity profile]
The King's smile lessens. "I'm not going to hurt you, Cheshire," he says softly, holding up his hands. "I promise. I just want out of this body and into one of my own."

Date: 2011-02-27 03:19 am (UTC)From: [identity profile]
"Our relations with monarchs with 'of Hearts' in their titles has not been good as of late," Cheshire says. "Forgive me my suspicion, but bravery and I have never been on intimate terms. Besides, you did order my beheading once."

"He's got you there," Alice points out. "I was present."

Date: 2011-02-27 03:22 am (UTC)From: [identity profile]
"Only because you were being a right nuisance of yourself, as usual," the King retorts, arms folded. Then he sighs and slumps a bit. "But I've heard about my Queen's behavior. I -- she wasn't supposed to be like that! She was ill-tempered, I'll grant you, but trying to destroy Wonderland? She loved her home!"

Date: 2011-02-27 03:27 am (UTC)From: [identity profile]
"He's got you there," Alice smirks at Cheshire.

Then it's her turn to sigh. "It's my fault -- don't say it," she warns Cheshire, who's giving her a look. "In this case, it is. I doubt she would have gone as bad as she did if I hadn't gone insane. I understand the cause of my insanity wasn't my fault--"

"And her latching onto such feelings wasn't yours either," Cheshire cuts in, tail lashing. "You keep up with these feelings of guilt, and you may bring that dratted Jabberwock back."

"Not my fault, right," Alice says quickly.

Date: 2011-02-27 03:32 am (UTC)From: [identity profile]
"Of course it wasn't your fault," the King says, voice kind yet sad. "Much like it wasn't Victor's fault that I attached myself to his self-loathing." Internally, Victor winces at the bluntness of that phrase. "Maybe something went wrong for her the same it did for me. I wouldn't be surprised." He sighs. "I just. . .I can't help wanting to hold her once more. . . ."

Date: 2011-02-27 03:36 am (UTC)From: [identity profile]
"Self-loathing? Dear me," Cheshire says, what seems to be a note of actual worry in his voice. "Cats don't have that problem. Tell your host to be more feline in his ways." He licks a paw. "And while we're on the subject, I may as well say why I appeared when I did. Something distinctly royal has been spotted lurking in the Tulgey Wood."

Alice's jaw drops. What -- it couldn't be. . .except that she's been considering the Queen, wondering if she does dare bring her back. . .if the Queen was actually a victim instead of purely a monster. . . . "Where?" she says, swallowing.

In response, Cheshire pads off in the direction of the wood, obviously meaning for them to follow.

Date: 2011-02-27 03:39 am (UTC)From: [identity profile]
The King chuckles as Victor relays his response. "He says that probably won't work -- he's too much of a dog person."

And then Cheshire delivers his news, and his heart nearly skips a beat. His wife? His wife is alive? Part of him is ecstatic, elated, and other positive words that begin with "e." The other worries that she's still a monster, and that this time he'll have to watch Alice put her down. . . . Inside, Victor is similarly torn. On the one hand, he's heard from Alice the chaos, pain, and death the Queen of Hearts inflicted on the populace of Wonderland. On the other hand, what if she really was like the King, and affected by something she couldn't control herself? It takes their combined willpowers not to rush off and overtake their guide.

Date: 2011-02-27 03:46 am (UTC)From: [identity profile]
Alice is in a similar state, worrying but ever-so-faintly hopeful. She really, really does not want to start the cycle of death and pain again.

They follow Cheshire until they come across a wood full of dark, twisty trees. It hardly looks like a pleasant place, and it's not. Even before Wonderland's Sick Times (as they call them), it was a place of danger and disease. The original Jabberwock made his home here after all. Cheshire sits at the edge of the wood, his thin fur bristling as best it can. "Perhaps she'd come if called," he suggests.

Alice looks into the wood. She can't see anything in there, but she can feel a presence. It doesn't feel immediately threatening, but Alice prepares to summon her Vorpal Blade, just in case. "Queen?" she says, as loud as she dares.

There's silence for a moment. Then, slowly, a humanoid figure comes toward the light. "Hello, Alice."

Date: 2011-02-27 03:49 am (UTC)From: [identity profile]
If Victor were currently in control of his body, his jaw would drop. The Queen -- the Queen looks like Alice! Granted, her hair is a much brighter shade of red, and her eyes and dress are scarlet, and instead of legs she has a mass of pink tentacles, but the face and basic figure are amazingly similar. It's a little creepy, honestly.

The King, however, is in control, and he's staring at the figure of the Queen with a mixture of delight and worry. "Love?" he whispers, stepping forward.

Date: 2011-02-27 03:51 am (UTC)From: [identity profile]
The Queen's head snaps toward him. Her eyes go wide. "My dearest?" she whispers, extending a hand toward him. "Is -- is it really you?"

Date: 2011-02-27 03:52 am (UTC)From: [identity profile]
"It's me -- well, mostly me," the King corrects himself, stepping forward. "Enough of me at the moment."

Then he's hugging her, and his heart sings. His love, his love, his again. . . .

Date: 2011-02-27 03:55 am (UTC)From: [identity profile]
The Queen hugs back, looking surprisingly teary-eyed. "My darling," she whispers into his neck. "How I missed you. . ." Then what he said registers, and she pulls back a bit. "What do you mean, mostly you? You seem to be here in your entirety."

"He's not," Alice says, stepping forward. "That's not his body you're holding. It belongs to Victor Van Dort. My love."

Date: 2011-02-27 03:58 am (UTC)From: [identity profile]
"I resurrected inside him, yes," the King adds as the Queen looks between them. "Here, allow me to let him speak." He slips back, leaving Victor suddenly in control and being loosely embraced by a tentacle monster. He blinks a few times, floundering for words. "Ah -- er -- n-nice to meet you?" he blurts.

Date: 2011-02-27 04:03 am (UTC)From: [identity profile]
The Queen draws back, releasing him. "You needn't lie," she says, looking deeply ashamed. "I understand it will probably never be nice to meet me again. Not after what I did."

Alice is heartened. Remorse is always a good sign. "I'm just glad you seem to have no intentions of repeating it."

"I'm shocked enough to find myself alive again," the Queen confesses. "I remember our last battle, your knife hurtling to hit its final mark. . . . I know this really does nothing to make up for anything, but I may as well say it. I'm sorry, Alice. I never. . .it was like a sickness, a -- a different kind of madness. . . ."

"I know," Alice nods. "My own insanity played a large part in yours. The King's possession of Victor helped to show that."

"How? What happened?"

Date: 2011-02-27 04:05 am (UTC)From: [identity profile]
"He -- he tried to kill me," Victor explains, feeling awkward as waves of shame and remorse practically radiate off the King in the back of his mind. "I -- I d-don't like myself very much, you see, and his presence b-became rooted there, so n-neither did he. It wasn't u-until he realized there was s-something wrong about it that we came to our c-current accord."

Date: 2011-02-27 04:11 am (UTC)From: [identity profile]
"The evidence seems to be in favor of the entire Hearts line being tainted," the Queen mutters darkly. "Perhaps it's for the best we've been removed from power."

"Perhaps," the Cheshire Cat agrees readily. "It will be nice to not have to deal with your constantly shouting 'Off with his head!'"

"Hmph," is the Queen's only response.

"Our problem now is getting your husband out of Victor," Alice says, rocking on her heels. "All of us are strongly in favor of them having two separate bodies instead of one shared one. Do you think my trying to think up one here might just work?"

"I don't think so," Cheshire says. "He's rather firmly rooted in your friend, if Caterpillar's thoughts are anything to go by. We'll have to find him a body another way."

Date: 2011-02-27 04:13 am (UTC)From: [identity profile]
A sudden brainwave hits Victor. "Wait a moment -- the King shows up in my reflection," he says, gesturing. "That's how we had our argument that led to his -- becoming less m-murderous toward me. Is it possible we can use that?"

"We can at least see if I continue to do so here," the King adds.

Date: 2011-02-27 04:22 am (UTC)From: [identity profile]
Alice claps her hands. "Fantastic idea! Cheshire, can you go alert someone that we need a mirror out here? Please?"

"All right, but only because you were polite," Cheshire says, a slightly teasing note to his voice. He vanishes.

A few minutes later, his eyes and smile return. "The White Queen is sending along one of her knights to provide us with our necessary implement," he reports, slowly fading the rest of him in. "And fortunately for us, he was on his way before I even asked."

Sure enough, not two minutes later, the familiar figure of the White Knight gallops up, and falls off his horse. He gets back to his feet and bows to Alice. "We heard you needed a mirror, my lady?"

"For an experiment," Alice says.

The Knight, who was eying the Queen a bit apprehensively, lights up at this. "Capital!" He somehow extracts from his bag a full-length mirror and sets it up.

"Go ahead, Victor," Alice urges.

Date: 2011-02-27 04:25 am (UTC)From: [identity profile]
Victor steps in front of the mirror and looks at his reflection. For a moment, it's just him, staring back at him with familiar brown eyes.

Then, suddenly, those eyes turn pitch black, and there's a suggestion of things moving under his mirror-self's jacket. He grins. "It works!"

"It's a start, at least," the King agrees. The location of his voice is odd -- Victor's lips clearly move, but it almost seems to come from the mirror.

Date: 2011-02-27 04:33 am (UTC)From: [identity profile]
The White Knight steps back, startled. "Y-Your Majesty? The King of Hearts? The rumors are true?" he asks in wonder.

"Yes -- he's back," Alice confirms. "Fortunately not to kill anyone." She touches the mirror's surface contemplatively. "Now, how does one go about extracting a reflection?"

"I could stand on my head, if it helps," the White Knight offers.

"The trouble, I believe, is that even hear, mirrors merely echo life," Cheshire comments, pawing at the glass himself. "Perhaps if we could put the spark of life into the reflection. . ."

It hits Alice. "Meta-essence," she whispers. "The lifeforce of Wonderland. . . . How much would we need?"

"A full Heart, I should say," the White Knight says. "There may be a Jabberspawn here I could hunt. . ."

A pink tentacle abruptly lashes against a nearby tree, making everyone start. All turn to see the Queen with a large bloody wound, staring at it intently. After a few moments, the blood turns into a pinkish gas, coalescing upward into a shining pink-purple heart crystal. "No need, dear sir," she says.

Date: 2011-02-27 04:38 am (UTC)From: [identity profile]
Everyone stares at the crystal for a moment. "T-thank you," Victor finally says quietly. He reaches out and carefully touches it. The surface is multifaceted, but otherwise smooth. It's also slightly cool to the touch. "Shall I--"

Nods all around. Victor carefully picks up the Heart and brings it over to the mirror. He looks at the King reflection nervously. "Ready?"

"Yes," the King replies with a nod. "Try the experiment."

Victor nods back, then presses the Heart against the surface of the mirror. At first, nothing happens. But then, suddenly, the crystal melts into the surface. At the same time, Victor suddenly feels the distinct sensation of having something pulled out of his mind. Startled, he steps back --

And his reflection suddenly steps out of the mirror.

Date: 2011-02-27 04:39 am (UTC)From: [identity profile]
Alice steps forward, looking between the two men. "Are you all right?" she asks, not entirely sure herself who the question is directed toward.

Date: 2011-02-27 04:44 am (UTC)From: [identity profile]
The King looks down at himself. He looks a little wobbly, but perfectly whole. He glances back, to see two reflections in the mirror -- his own and Victor's. A smile breaks out over his face. "I think I am."

"I know I am," Victor says, grinning himself as he feels the distinct relief of having his mind be his and his alone again. Although. . .there's a bit of an odd feeling at the very back of his skull. Like a faint -- tunnel? He pokes at it slightly, and somehow feels the King's presence. "Though we still seem to be connected."

"I feel it too," the King confirms. "Perhaps there's no way to fully separate each other." He smiles down at his hands. "I consider this more than adequate, however."

"Me too," Victor nods. A mental link with the King, he can stand. It doesn't feel particularly intrusive either, so that's a plus.

Date: 2011-02-27 04:52 am (UTC)From: [identity profile]
The Queen rushes forward and kisses her husband, wrapping him in her arms and tentacles. "My love, my love," she whispers, now indeed crying.

Alice finds herself smiling at the reunion. God, she never thought she'd smile at anything involving the Queen. However, there are a few things to get straight. "I'm not letting you return to Heart Palace," she interjects in a firm voice. "You're surely aware of the reasons why. You did horrible things to this world, and remorse itself won't fix that."

"I know," the Queen says, disentangling herself a bit from her husband. "I'm willing to stay here in the Tulgey Wood, if you wish. Just -- just please, let us stay together."

"Please Alice," the King adds softly. "I know I have no right to ask favors of you after what I nearly did to Victor, but. . .she's everything to me."

Alice looks between them. For a moment, a spiteful impulse whispers to say no, to separate them, to make the Queen truly pay for what she did (even if it might not have been entirely her fault).

Then she remembers her own heart breaking when she left Victor, and the agony of the days that followed. She can't inflict that on another, even the Queen. And besides, the King was always the best at keeping her in check. "I won't part you," she says. "But you're forbidden from leaving the Tulgey Wood. One step outside, one inkling either of you has started to go darkly mad again, and you'll be facing me and my Vorpal Blade."

Date: 2011-02-27 05:02 am (UTC)From: [identity profile]
"Under the circumstances, more than fair," the King says in relief. "Thank you, Alice." Turning to Victor, he adds, "And thank you. For letting me stay, for -- for not holding my hatred of you against me."

Victor half-smiles. "It's my own hatred of me," he says. "I can't exactly hold that against you."

The King nods, looking more serious. "You shouldn't hate yourself. Others will do that for you."

Victor bites back a laugh. The King has an odd way of comforting people. "Others already have."

"There you are then. Don't waste your hatred on yourself, Victor. There are far more deserving targets."

Victor nods. "I'll try to remember that."

"Don't try. Just remember it." The King turns to his wife. "Ready, my love?"

"Always, my dearest." She glances around. "Thank you," she whispers, in a way that suggests the words are strange to her, but also very heartfelt. Then both monarchs disappear back into the woods, hand in hand.

Date: 2011-02-27 05:05 am (UTC)From: [identity profile]
Alice lets out a deep sigh as they vanish. It feels like a weight has been lifted -- the King is out and about on his own, and she's settled the Queen before any more horror can take place. A very productive day indeed. And while she'll be keeping a close eye on those two, deep in her gut she honestly feels she has nothing to fear. The Queen is freed from feeding on her insanity, and she has her King. There's nothing to suggest another rampage is in the future. And even if there is -- this time, she has someone to stand by her side.

She goes and wraps Victor in a hug. "Want to go to the White Castle and see if they'll have us for tea?" she asks quietly.

Date: 2011-02-27 05:07 am (UTC)From: [identity profile]
"I would like that very much," Victor nods, hugging her back. He's as happy as he can be under the circumstances -- it appears everyone, even the King and Queen, have gotten a happy ending for now. Granted, he still needs to work on his own self-image, but there'll be time for that later. Right now, all he really wants is a cup of tea, and a chance to enjoy the silence in his head.


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Alice Liddell Brown

February 2014

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