Alice's lips curled downward slightly, teal eyes blinking. It was odd how similar they looked. Similar wasn't the word — the word she wanted was identical. They looked identical.
They shared the same peircing green eyes. Those were eyes one could lose oneself in. They glittered like jewels even in the dullest light. They held the same sparkle in the highest right corner of those bright irises. Their hair had the same gravity-defying bounce. They shared that same wisp, when Blood removed that tall tophat. The same onyx shade to their hair, the same shine in each and every strand. Their lips were the same dull pink color; it was only a shade or two darker than their actual peach skin, but it was dark enough that, were it not for those piercing green eyes, one's eyes would fall immediately to those lips. A thin upper lip, a sweet curl to the cupid's bow. A beautiful lower lip, thin yet somehow beautifully plump. Similar wasn't the word — the word she was looking for was identical. They looked identical. They shared the same piercing green eyes. Those were eyes one could lose oneself in. They glittered like jewels in even the dullest light.
Their necks were exactly the same. Strong, thick necks with beautiful tendons that stretched whenever the heads they supported moved. An Adam's apple that bobbed and rumbled with every spoken word.
She was so familiar with that face — that body — and yet this new man that bore it was so completely…different. Their voices were different. Blood's voice was deeper, stronger; he spoke with a tone that demanded attention, respect, and fear. His voice was sweet, like honey; every word hespoke was a sugar treat to the ears. When he spoke, he was honest; when Blood spoke, his words were covered in rosewater, with an undercurrent of danger.
They were so different. Yet, when Blood shut his mouth, she could only see someone else — only see him. It was not only disorienting, it was dangerous.
Alice jumped, blue-green eyes blinking into focus. The green of the trees fell into sight, the white of the tablecloth almost blinding. The features she had been studying sharpened. His name popped into her head, but it was gone before she could say it aloud. She cocked her head, turning her attention to his doppelganger. "Hm?" she questioned, aquamarine eyes glimmering.
There was a blink of those attention-grabbing eyes. A dangerous grin. Together they formed an expression to send a shiver down the spine of whomever it greeted. "There is passion in your gaze, young miss." The deep voice, speaking its honeyed words.
Alice swallowed, ignoring the slow breeze that seemed to only affect her. Wide blue-green eyes blinked once more, then widened in slight shock at the realization that this was not him she was looking at; she could almost laugh at herself for being so silly. She hadn't forgotten who she was looking at — not really. "I beg your pardon?" she murmured, fingers curling around the white teacup that she had forgotten she held.
The Tweedle Twins stole her attention with a disdained humph. Dee wore a particularly saddening pout and Dum had his lips screwed tightly into a scowl. "You were staring at the boss again," Dee complained.
A deep blush dusted the girl's cheeks, turquoise eyes shifting away. "Oh," she muttered, staring into the black tea intensely. She and her sister had enjoyed this tea on Sundays, in their garden. It had never tasted so strong, or so sweet, as the black tea in the Hatters' Mansion, but it wasn't the taste that Alice had always enjoyed. They had stopped spending so many Sundays together after…
Alice shook her head, turning her gaze to the Hatter. "I'm sorry," she said, "it's just that you —"
Blood copied her head movement, dropping a few more sugar cubes into his tea. It was strange, Alice noticed, he didn't usually like sweet teas. Or was it him who enjoyed his teas bitter? No, it was Blood — she was sure. He had a habit of dropping honey into his tea, which she always found strange. "I am aware," Blood cut in. A dark, finely detailed brow rose in question. "However, I was under the impression that you would stop comparing me to him."
Dirty-blonde strands of hair trembled as she once again shook her head. "It's not that," Alice assured, though she knew that everyone at the table could pick up on her lie. "I was just…thinking." That in itself was not a lie; she had been thinking — of how her mind could produce such a perfect image of him, and yet distort his personality.
"Of course," the Mafioso commented lightly. That formidable grin crossed his face again. They smiled differently, Alice observed. He smiled with a sweet curl of his lips that made rocks drop into her stomach. Blood, however, smiled in a way that only curled one side of his mouth up — he smiled as if everything was just some cruel game, which, she supposed, to him, it was. And still, the expression had knots growing in her stomach.
How odd her tastes were — from sugary treats to dangerous games. Her mind was a mess.
Alice sighed; she knew Blood could see through her. What kind of Mafia leader couldn't tell when he was being lied to? She was just glad that he hadn't pointed it out.
"Oi." The girl blinked, attention stolen away by Elliot. Her frown turned into a wide grin, watching as the not-rabbit devoured the carrot dishes. There were two forks sticking out of his mouth, no doubt both had contained some sort of carrot dish. She was surprised he hadn't asked the cooks to concoct some sort of carrot ice cream. "Alice, are you feeling alright? You look out of sorts."
Again? Why did she always look worried when she was lost in thought? The pout of confusion quickly turned into a smile of reassurance. "Don't worry, Elliot," Alice assured. Her fingers curled around the teacup again; she watched as a faceless maid served her more tea, the steam that came out of it warming her face. She smiled at the maid. No one ever thanked anyone around here; it was the least she could do. She took a sip of the recently-poured tea, humming in appreciation. "I'm fine, just thinking."
Violet eyes scanned her for a moment longer before shrugging. The hare pulled the forks from his mouth, glad to at least have made her smile.
Alice smiled as she took another sip of that delicious black tea. Sometimes, Blood's tea fetish was something to be proud of. "Dee, Dum?" she questioned, grinning at the twins. They really were cute kids, when they weren't playing those "games" of theirs. Though that time they tried to test their new "toy" really wasn't a good memory.
Those twin smiles could melt anyone's heart. "You'll play with us after the tea party, right?" Dee asked.
Dum nodded. "Right, big sister?"
Elliot scowled. His dark purple eyes narrowed almost dangerously. "Don't you two have a gate to guard?" he questioned, scowling at the twins.
Blood smiled again. "That's right, and it's a job they will do if they don't want their pay cut, again." His voice was amused, though the threat behind his words was firm. It seemed to Alice that he was a harsh leader, though what else would she expect from the mafia's head. Still, in his amusement, he seemed…fatherly?
Both boys pouted. "Aw," they said in unison. Alice lifted her hand to hide her giggles, though she was sure that the twins heard her. Their pout deepened at the sound, blue and red eyes instantly attaching to the girl they held in such high regard. The sad eyes were gone when they switched to the rabbit-eared carrot-eater. "Why'd you have to remind the boss, newbie chickie-rabbit?" Dee complained.
Elliot's fist slamming onto the table made the plates clatter, tea almost spilling from its cups. "Why you little —"
"Tea time is over," Blood suddenly announced, standing from the table. Those piercing green eyes absorbed the scene before him — the twins with those fierce scowls, Elliot with his barely contained anger. How amusing. "Get to work," he announced, in a voice full of authority.
"I guess I'll go now," Alice said, smiling as she took one last sip of her tea and left the cup empty. It was nice to spend time at the Hatters', no matter how dangerous they are, or how much Blood actually scared her. It was a strange fear that crawled up her spine and curled around her body, leaving her shaking in a way that — dare she admit — felt good.
She'd never admit that though; she refused the fact to herself on occasion.
"Actually, young lady, would you join me in my office?" It was an order, phrased as a question to give one the illusion of an option. If she were to decline, she didn't know if he'd let her go or force her anyway. Was there a better option? If he let her go, she was sure he'd take revenge, somehow. Besides, he hadn't actually hurt her before, other than choking her…
Oh god, when had such a thing become a small occurrence? He had choked her! How screwed up had this world made her? She had made this world; this world was a dream. How messed up was she before this world?
Alice swallowed, nodding as she stood from her chair. That sly grin made its return, alighting Blood's face. Emerald eyes glittered, and though she was sure he had not meant for the expression to look quite so dangerous, the intent did not matter. The dirty-blonde haired girl grabbed hold of the gloved hand he extended.
Holding his hand was different from holding Blood's. He held her hand as if he were afraid that she would break; he held her as if she was fragile and in need of protection. Blood grabbed hold of her hand as if he feared she would run away — as if he was aware that she was something to care for and fear. She didn't know exactly how to feel about that. Surely the boss of the mafia wasn't afraid of her, not when he had pulled a gun to her for being an Outsider.
When had such a thing become common to her?
Alice sighed, teal eyes blinking wide when she realized that Blood was already opening the door to his room. Why did she trust him not to harm her, when he'd obviously proven he was not worthy of such trust? He'd hurt her before. Yet, here she was, entering his room, his office — a room that was soundproofed for nefarious purposes, she was sure. Why didn't she feel scared?
Correction, she was scared — terrified, in fact. But it wasn't the type of terrified she was sure she should feel. She was scared, yes, but more of being left alone with him than of him.
It was his face, she was sure of it. She wasn't scared of him because he reminded her of — shared a face with — someone who would never dream of causing her harm. He wouldn't dream of harming her because… At first, it was because they were together. Recently, however, it was because she was Lorina's sister — Lorina's baby sister.
She swallowed, crossing her arms over herself as a shiver stole down her spine. Why did the memory hurt so bad?
He said he wasn't a gentleman, yet he held the door open for her. She smiled slightly, shaking her head at him. Blood really was something else, as terrifying as he was.
"Am I amusing to the young lady?" his deep, rumbling voice questioned, a dark, elegant brow rising.
Alice shook her head as she entered the room, teal eyes running over the bookshelves in his room, each of them filled to the brim. She was slightly shocked that the shelves themselves had yet to fall under the weight they bore. "It's nothing," she announced. The smell of the books drifted into her nose, making her smile widen. "I'm just thinking."
Blood nodded, walking past Alice to sit at his desk. He lowered himself elegantly, white tailcoat flowing behind him. Gently, he placed his hat on the large mahogany desktop, green eyes looking as if they'd never seen a sight more precious. It was almost how…he looked at his piano keys…
"You seem to be thinking quite often," he commented, tearing his gaze from his hat and bestowing it upon the dark-haired girl.
Alice shrugged, sitting in one of the couches in front of his desk. Her books were still there from last time, when Dee and Dum had dragged her from calmly reading here. She blinked in slight shock; she'd expected him to have them put away, but instead they sat there, a bookmark in each one, even in the dictionary she had taken out for when she couldn't understand some of the phrases they used in this strange country.
"Did you want to talk to me about something?" she asked, hands already reaching for the bookmarked hardcover of a book she'd never heard of. Regardless, it was rather interesting, involving a murder case. She'd expect Blood to have something of the sort in his personal collection, but these were far more tasteful than the type she'd expected.
Blood shook his head, that wisp of hair falling to the side of his face and bouncing. "I thought you should put away your books this time," was all he said as he rested his cane against his desk. She had learned long ago that he didn't need the cane, but that he used it because it went well with his hat and could transform into a gun at a moment's notice. Why else would a mafioso need a cane, of course?
Alice sighed. "Right," she said. "Mind if I stay here and read for a bit?"
The dark-haired mafioso rose an ebony brow. "My, is the young lady asking to stay in my room?"
Alice's blue-green eyes widened, that irritated pink blush she was so famous for spreading on her cheeks. Of course he would turn such an innocent question into something like this. She just wanted to read; it wasn't like she was asking to spend the night in his bed.
The thought made her blush deeper, and she began to sputter out a few words before collecting herself. She crossed her arms over her chest, eyes narrowing. She didn't think she'd ever manage the same terror that Blood instilled in every single one of his subordinates, but that was because she wouldn't actually kill them. Still, she thought she was doing well with the death glare.
"Of course not!" she shouted aloud, grabbing hold of the books she was reading. "I'll just put these away and leave."
Blood shook his head. She was so easily riled. It was so entertaining. Were all Outsiders like this, or was it merely her? Her reactions were fascinating. "If you wish to be bombarded by the twins for your strange actions today, then be my guest."
Blue-green eyes narrowed. Her glare could have lesser men whimpering, of this Blood was sure — he had seen it work many times, on even on Elliot, his most prized subordinates. He watched as her glare slowly lessened, realization spreading through her lovely pale face. He was right, of course; the Tweedle twins would be worried about their beloved "big sister," and when they were worried, they tended to be careless with their weapons.
"Shut up," she grumbled, lowering herself back onto the couch and opening her book. Had she been any angrier, the pages would have fallen from the well-bound book.
A dark brow rose in amusement. "You are telling me, a mafia boss, what to do?"
Alice scowled, set on ignoring him. She blinked her eyes, forcing them to focus on the words before her. "That's right," she confirmed, pulling the book closer to her eyes in a larger attempt to ignore him. He was simply baiting her, and she was aware of it. Why did she always respond?
"That's not very wise of the young miss," Blood commented, tapping his pen against the inkwell.
The blonde haired girl resisted the urge to snort. "I'm alone in a soundproof room with a mafia boss," she pointed out, eyes glimmering in challenge. "I'm not wise."
She expected Blood to lift his cane, shift it into a gun, and wave it around threateningly. Of course he'd shoot a few bullets to scare her, maybe even graze her skin, at which point she knew she'd be scared half to death and crying. She knew it, but she wouldn't stop — maybe because she knew this was all just a big, complex dream.
However, he surprised her. Those sweet pink lips curled upward slightly, green eyes glimmering. The smile widened, and suddenly he was laughing, a full sound that sounded nothing like the laugh she was used to hearing from that body. It was deep, rumbling. It sounded like velvet, if velvet had a voice. She scowled, even as the sound of Blood's laughter filled the room and warmed the air around her.
"Aren't you a smart little girl?"
Alice remained scowling, setting her blue-green glare onto the book and determining to lose herself in the story. It wasn't difficult; the book really was amazing. It was made easier when Blood realized he had paperwork to do. She got so into the book that she finished it before she remembered that she should get to Julius soon, or he'd get worried.
She closed the hardcover book silently, readying herself to put the book away, as he'd asked. In that regard, at least, he was right. She shouldn't have left a mess — no matter how small — in a room that wasn't hers. When her teal eyes lifted from the book, they caught sight of Blood, his elegant and scarred fingers holding the pen, the swift movement over the paper. His dark hair was flopping over his forehead, covering his face even though one of his hands was resting on his forehead. She was sure he was thinking intently about something, though she couldn't be sure what.
When he thought, he tapped his foot and hummed. Blood didn't do that. Instead, he grabbed hold of his forehead and glared at whatever was giving him so much trouble. It was amazing that she could pick out the difference when she'd been away from home for so long, when she'd refused to see himfor even longer. She was glad that Lorina was happy; she would never dream to take that happiness from her older sister, the woman who everyone loved, the woman who had cared for her so well. That didn't mean she had to speak to him; it'd hurt her too much and she didn't even want to see him.
Then she comes to this strange world and the man she spends most of her silent time with looked exactly like him. The world was cruel. Her mind was cruel.
She couldn't even remember his name, she'd spent so much time trying to forget it. But she wanted to remember now; she wanted to remember so badly, just because his likeness stared at her everyday, because she saw his eyes whenever she looked at Blood. Because they did share a face. They didn't share a personality, but they shared a face, and she needed to name him so that she could properly remember that they were not the same.
She needed to remember, but her head hurt. There was a sharp pain in her mind, as if someone had stabbed her through the temple. God it hurt. But she needed to remember. She needed to give him a name — because he wasn't Blood, and she needed to remember that, because Blood had become a lot kinder since he promised to distinguish her from the title "Outsider." She needed to name himbecause she couldn't be thinking of elegant fingers drifting over piano keys when Blood was aiming a gun at someone.
But she couldn't remember! The harder she tried, the more her head her, the louder the buzzing in her mind became, the sharper the knife that had pierced her temple felt.
The book in her hands fell to the ground, the thump it made as it landed made her head hurt even more. Her hands reached to cradle her head. The throbbing just got louder, more insistent, and she couldn't hear, couldn't feel anything other than that blasted buzz. "B-Blood," she whimpered, though she didn't know why she was calling him. He couldn't fix the pain in her head.
She had to remember his name! She — she had —
Alice screeched, the pain too much. What did she do to earn such pain? It hurt! I-it —
Tears rolled down her cheeks, a sob escaping her right after her screech. She couldn't hear the noises she made — there was only that awful buzzing that seemed as if it would kill her. If she were of a mind to concentrate on anything other than the piercing headache and trying to remember his name, she would have seen the irony — surviving around gun-toting weirdos who didn't see anything special about a life, only to be taken down by a headache.
But it hurt, it hurt so bad.
It hurt! The pain in her head was too much! Sh-she couldn't breathe from it. Her entire body curled in an attempt to fight off the pain, but she couldn't — she needed t-to remember his name, she h-hadto. But oh god it hurt to remember.
For the first time, she noticed that her head was digging into someone's lap — Blood's lap — and that she was being held — by him. His arms were wrapped around her, cradling her, and he was…he was saying her name, he was calling her name so helplessly.
God it hurt. I-it hurt so bad. The buzzing noise got louder — she had to remember his name! S-she —
Blood's voice. Blood's voice didn't hurt her head. It was deep, rumbling, but it was smooth — it was beautiful. It didn't hurt her head! When he spoke, that buzzing went away. Alice swallowed, and even the sound that made in her head hurt, so bad. "B-Blood."
W-what was she trying to remember? Why did her head hurt so badly? She just wanted it to go just wanted —
"Alice, I'm here. Tell me what's wrong."
He was worrying about her? Even when he was worried, he was so bossy. She swallowed, and this time it didn't hurt her head. She lifted her head from his lap, blinking teal eyes. There were still tears running down her cheeks. She was so confused.
"Alice." Blood's voice again. She swallowed, lifting her gaze to his green eyes. They were dark in his worry. His voice was authoritative, dangerous — worried. "What. Happened."
Alice reached up to grab at her forehead, wide eyes blinking. Her cheeks were sticky with tears, tears that were still flowing. "I — I don't know," she admitted, and that scared her.
Blood's eyes went wide, as if he knew something she didn't. He was never affectionate, yet he pulled her into his lap and rested his chin on hers. "Don't try to remember," he whispered, and for a long while, Alice just sat on his lap in confusion.