Julius was glad to see her walk through the door. She had cut it close, having to meet with the hatter in the next time change. He didn’t like the pensive look she had had on her face since she came in the door. Though he had only known her a short time, he wanted his crazy, wild child daughter back. “Are you all right, Aliya?”
“Yep,” she said smiling at him. “I just learned a bittersweet lesson last night, but now I’m going to have to concentrate on other things.” She visibly straightened up and shook herself off, making him smile. She felt better, alright with what she had learned about herself. Wonderland had made her into a succubus, after a fashion. It’s no wonder her and Nightmare had gotten along so well. Aliya decided to forgive him, but she was not going to tell him until she had to. She might even shoot him just one more time.
“I don’t know whether to be happy that look is back in your eyes, or worried.” He father said making her laugh.
A short time later, she waited in the court yard of the clock tower. She had a small table set up with a nice tea set and the hatter’s favorite black tea. She added little carrot cakes a chocolate cookies for Elliot and the twins. Each was something special her mother had made for them. She also changed into a blue sun dress with her hair pulled back from her face. It had been fun, reminding her of making tea parties for her mom. She closed her eyes, soft smile on her face.
“All you need is roses.” She looked to see Blood before her holding a dozen bright red roses for her.
“Perfect.” She took them from him and set them in the white vase she had set in the center of the table. “Thanks.” She said with a grin. “Where is everyone?”
“I told them to wait a moment so we could talk.” He said sitting beside her at the table.
She poured him some tea. “What would you like to say?” Aliya asked sitting back.
“Tell me about your mother, how her last days were.” He said, raising his tea glass.
“We were happy as we could be confined like we were. I was allowed to go out to care for her because my aunt didn’t want to pay a companion or a nurse for her crazy sister who ruined everything for her. She said that a lot. Mom just laughed about it and told her it was a shame that she couldn’t have messed it up more for her. I would bring her roses often and she entertained me with stories of here and you.” She paused for a moment. “She was coming back to you, you know. If we could have found a way sooner and a way to get her out of that room. She was not sure how you would react when she showed up with Julius’s daughter, but she was coming back anyway.
“I’m not sure how that would have gone either.” Blood said. “Perhaps the only reason I could forgive her was because she’s not here to be mad at.” He looked at her, “I tried to be mad at you in her place, but it seems that I can’t do that either. Tell me how she died.”
Aliya sat up and looked off into the distance, her voice going flat and cold. “They locked me in the basement and did not let me go to her for three days. I always checked her food and water because I knew her sister wanted her gone. But we couldn’t just leave, we tried to talk her into that, but mom had an inheritance that aunt needed, so she kept us. They knocked me out before throwing me down there. I was out for a while, Nightmare came to me and helped me get through that time. When I came to, I started prying off the door handle with some long forgotten tools I found." she paused for a moment, her gaze distant. "It was nighttime and the house was quite as I worked my way to our rooms in the attic. I knew something was wrong. She was lying in the bed when I got there. You could tell she was sick. She told me toward the end that it felt like her insides were burning. She left things for me in a secret spot and told me to make it here no matter what. She died screaming, though she tried not to.” Her eye began to glow. “I carried her body out of the house the best I could and laid her in the rose garden. Then I went back into the house to my aunt bedroom. It was the first time I had really used my ability’s outside of the dream void. I tied her hands together and drug her by them up to my mom’s bed. Then I put her in the spot where my mother died and bent the medal of the bedframe around her wrists. She laughed, said she was glad the crazy girl was finely gone. Until I set the bed on fire. She screamed and pleaded, but I walked out the door. I buried mom in the rose garden as the house burned to the ground.” She looked back at Blood the light slowly faded from her.
He set his cup down soundlessly, a dark expression on his face. “You might be his daughter, but somehow there is a part of me there too. I would have done the same or worse.” Blood took her hand, holding it gently. “I would like for you to see me as a father as well. Had things been different, you would have been mine and I feel proud of you. Even when it was me you were trying to harm, I felt that sense of pride.”
She covered his hand with her other one. “I would be proud to have you as a father as well, but I will have to think of what to call you,” she grinned, “somehow Daddy just doesn’t suit you.”
“Father will do.” He said going back to his tea.
“As you wish, then Father.” She said, tickled at him. She smiled at Elliot, Dee and Dum as they approached them. She poured them some tea and handed them their favorites. “I assume that everyone here knows of my predicament right?” She waited for them to nod. “Good, that will save us time then,” she turned to Blood, “Father, I need to borrow the twins from you for a while. I do not trust the jokers at all. I think that they will be unable to do anything during the act so to speak, but I need someone to get me the hell out of there afterward. You may have to carry me out,” She told the twins, “it seems like I might pass out afterward.” She smiled a little.
“How do you know that?” Elliot asked.
Aliya was amused to see Bloods hand tighten on his cane. Julius was not too thrilled with the knowledge either. “I guess you could say I had an experiment in the subject last night and everyone passing out is a certainty.
“Aww, you played without us!” Dee said pouting.
“We still might play sometime, but right now I have a lot on my plate.” She said winking at the twins, “Will you help me anyway?”
“They will.” Blood said, “They will be here to escort you before and after.” They both nodded.
“Great,” she smiled brightly, “You must understand, though, not matter what you see or here, you can’t interfere until it’s done. I’m not sure what would happen otherwise.”
“Why the warning?” Elliot asked.
She took a drink of her tea and calmly set the cup down, “Because the jokers will try to hurt me during and we’re going to let them. I can take whatever they throw at me, I promise, so don’t interfere. But as soon as the light fades and you will know what I mean, get me out of there.”
Aliya walked back into the clock tower after making plans for the twins to meet her back at the clock tower in one time change. She only had two left before the allotted time was up. Instead of going into Julius’s office, like she normally did, she climbed up to the top of the tower. From there she could see almost all of the country of hearts. Because she was special, she could also see the line where the country of clover mirrored hearts. That’s where Nightmare ruled. “You will have to visit there someday.” His voice came from beside her.
“In case the blinding pain of being shot twice didn’t get the message across, I’m pissed at you.” She did not look his way.
“I know.” He placed his hands on her shoulders and leaned close. “I’m sorry.”
Aliya rolled her eyes. Had she still been mad, she would have hit him by now and he knew it. She did brush his hands off of her and turned to face him. “What do you want?” she asked, arms across her chest.
“You know that it doesn’t feel right when you’re mad at me.” He said a sad look in his silver eye, “I don’t think that you have ever been quite this pissed at me.”
“That is not true. I wanted to shoot you when I was about 13 and you didn’t come see me for a long time.” She dropped her hands and leaned against the edge of the tower. “I guess that was the first sign of you turning into a perv.”
“Aliya,” he said, placing his hands on the wall on either side of her. “Have you never wondered about us together?”
“No” she told him, “I didn’t think of anything but getting here and not getting dead there.” She reached out and placed her hand on his chest, making him shiver, “I am curious about something though.” She ran her hand up and over his shoulder, going behind his neck and pulling him toward her. The met his mouth with hers and sparks flew, literally. She pulled back, liking her bottom lip where it still tingled. She quickly reached up and flipped the eye patch he always wore up. He swore. Aliya was not really surprised at what she saw. His eye was also silver, but the rest was solid black. It was also backlit and glowing. “Interesting.” She said, putting his patch back in to place,
“Wait your turn, incubus.” Came Black's voice from behind them. They turned to find both jokers standing there.
Aliya walked up to them, “you’re early.”
“Just dropping off directions, my dear” White said, handing her a paper with an address and time on it.
She looked at it, then folded it. “I will be there.” She said simply.