"Love is just a chemical.
No matter the origin.
We give it meaning by choice."
~ Bioshock 2
The sun's rays blared down onto the amusement park blindingly. The hot weather wasn't very pleasant as the concrete ground was blistering. Heat waves could be seen rising from the various individuals that wandered around, hoping to have some summer fun. They moved around in blurs in the eyes of Miss Alice Liddell. She couldn't understand why they appeared faceless to her. It was another aspect that proved this whole place was just a figment of her imagination.
She sighed as she sat under a tree in the shade, sweating from the disagreeable weather. The grand oak tree sat near one of the walls that bordered the territory that belonged to Gowland. It reminded her of the one she used to sit under when she was with her sister, before she fell asleep and obviously started to dream.
Yet, all of this seemed too real to be a dream. Wonderland…. It's colorful characters…..
Alice's eyes shifted from the crowd to a man carrying around a violin, greeting all of his guests.
And the heat. The heat currently making her perspire, and the heat that caused her heart to beat a little bit faster when looking at that man. She looked down at the grass she sat on, her expression rather sad. She wished to god this wasn't a dream. All of these feelings whirling in her chest, synchronized with the beat of her heart.
And the ticks of his clock.
It started out innocent, but as each day passed while she stayed here, she got more and more close to Gowland. And before she realized, he became the one thing that was always on her mind.
It was impossible. She's insane. She must be insane! This was wrong. She couldn't feel so strongly for an illusion. She was too young for him, regardless. He wouldn't see her that way. He probably saw her as a daughter, or a friend, nothing more.
But, she couldn't deny that she adored him. She loved his eyes that were always sparkling with happiness. His breath, his aura, it felt so….. real and alive to her. She loved the way he carried himself, confident in his strides, but kind enough to never turn anyone who needed help away. Yet, even when he was serious, he was light-hearted in the best of ways. Sure, he had a fiery temper, but it didn't happen often and was never directed at her. She can't recall a moment he has ever gotten angry at her.
And she loved that feature of him.
His music was torture to listen to, but she would sit through it anyways. She covered her ears and just let him play, a foul expression her face. Despite how horrid he is at playing it, she was glad he did. though. He loves playing the violin. You can see it in his face every time he played. It's everything to him. She would never try and take that away from him. Even if her ears had a risk of bleeding.
Not to mention how damned handsome he was. He was tall, but not lanky like Peter or Ace. Gowland was more built, yet not lean. It was hard describe, but it all came to a single conclusion in her eyes.
He was perfect.
'Hah. It's funny, isn't it? I'm swooning over a man that isn't even real.'
He never tried to force himself upon her like the other role holders whom have all tried at least once in the past. But, never him. He has never attempted to get them alone
together, and he definitely has not flirted or shown romantic interest with her in anyway.
The only one she wanted…didn't want her.
Nightmare's voice echoed in her head.
"All the role holders will fall in love with you. It's simply how they were designed."
Designed. Alice's eyes began to water. They were designed to love her. It wasn't real… None of their love was real. None of them were real. They were practically made to be perfect. It was an act. That's why all of this is...is…
"And so the game begins."
That's why all of this is a game. It was a game to see if she, someone whom vowed to never love again, would fall for someone against all reason and logic.
That's why she was brought here, wasn't it? Because of the one who broke her heart. She was a perfect candidate for the game. She was….
Suddenly her whole head pounded. It felt like someone had placed tornado sirens in her head. It was a feeling that could be compared to someone slamming a baseball bat into her head as hard as they could. She reeled over, her hands brought up to her head. She let out a gasp of pain. That gasp turned into a quiet whine. She was starting to figure the game out, and therefore the walls that nightmare had put up prevent her to remember, were doing their jobs and resisting, causing her immense pain.
Boris was the first to hear her low whines of pain. He was cleaning one of his guns when one of his sensitive ears caught a weird noise. His hands stilled as his ear twitched and rotated to hear unknown the sound better. He bolted up from where he was sitting and geared into a sprint.
Gowland came into view, and behind him, the tree. "Oi! Old man, are you deaf?!" Boris looked at the violin Gowland was holding and flinched at the thought of his god-awful music. "Right, stupid question."
The older man's face lit up at the sight of the pink cat-man. "Hey! Are you here to listen to me play the violin?", he asked, excited as ever.
Boris practically jumped five feet away from Gowland. "N-No! Look behind you, you idiot!"
He gestured with one of his finger-less glove covered hands towards the shaded tree. Gowland's line of sight followed his hands and his eyes widened at Alice laying on the ground in a fetal position, seemingly in pain. "What in tarnation?!"
Both of the men ran over to the fallen girl, concerned. "Alice? Are you okay?", Boris asked first. "Can you hear us, kiddo? What's wrong?", came Gowland's voice. She could only whimper in pain as she grasped her head so tight that her knuckles turned white. "Alright. Let's take her to the infirmary and have her looked at." Alice wasn't going to walk to the infirmary in her current state, so one of them had to carry her. Gowland was the stronger two, so Boris took a step back. The older male moved forward and gently picked her up by placing a hand under her knees and one under her back, bridal style.
"Alice, We're going to get you some help, okay?", Boris tried to reassure her. He walked alongside Gowland as they made their way to the clinic. She managed to choke out, "It's o-okay….It i-is my f-fault….I tried to remember…." Boris looked down at her, watching her lose consciousness before looking back up at Gowland. Both had the same thought.
She tried to break the rules of the game.
It was a simple fix. She's just have to sleep for while and let the walls regenerate. This time she'll have to try and not break through them, or Joker might come for her. Of course, they couldn't tell her that. It's against the rules.
Gowland looked down at her sleeping face. She looked so peaceful and he couldn't help but pull her tighter into his body. She was so warm and she weighed practically nothing.
All of the role holders were in love with her. It was a undeniable fact. Including him. In the time he has gotten to know Alice, he has fallen for her, too. She had a wonderful, beating heart, covered up by a sort of ice-queen temperament. It had surprised everyone when she stepped in situations to make people stop killing each other. Everyone regenerates after they die, so it didn't matter to Gowland, Boris, or any of Wonderland's residents.
But it mattered to her.
She believes life should be treasured, including all of the little things and moments that are usually brushed off. Gowland had once seen her push away the prime minister's gun from pointing at one of his amusement park attendee's. Which wouldn't have been anything unusual, save for the fact the barrel was still hot from firing it, and Alice burned her hand. Even while it was burning her hand, she dealt with the pain and kept her hand pressed against his gun to keep him from harming a faceless. Gowland had to bandage her hand afterwards from the blisters that rose up.
A faceless. She had harmed herself to protect a life that was so insignificant and was going to come back anyways. She was reckless, foolish, and should be dead from how many times she has decided to negotiate with someone rather than attack.
She was perfect.
How could anyone not love her?
"Gosh, Loriana. You're so pretty!"
"Loriana, will you go on a date with me?"
"Loriana, come, dear. We have some new dresses for you to try."
"You've grown into such a lady, Loriana. So beautiful."
"Loriana, What a lovely dress you are wearing today!"
Alice sighed and looked down at the clenched hands that lay in her lap. Loriana received compliment after compliment as the pair walked around the damp city. And Alice of course, as everyday, got no compliments. They were out shopping today and Alice was feeling particularly down and insecure. She felt so dull beside her sister. Loriana's hair was a richer brown their her's while Alice's had a unpleasant light brown color. Her sister was curvaceous and womanly, while she herself had a rather embarrassingly flat chest, and short height despite her age.
Yet, While Alice fretted internally, she also felt guilty for being jealous of her sister. It wasn't Loriana's fault that Alice was very insecure and even today, Loriana showed how wonderful of a person she is. Her personality matched her looks.
They looked around an accessory shop quietly and that's when Loriana spotted a bright blue ribbon with yellow markings on it. Alice wore blue a lot, but hasn't lately because of school requiring dark colors. It was a split second decision where Loriana grabbed it and tied it into Alice's hair. Alice's eyes shot wide open as her sister shoved her towards a mirror.
"You see that, Alice? You look so cute. I'm so jealous." A light blush brushed over Alice's cheeks and she felt her envious thoughts fade. Loriana motioned to the shopkeeper that they were buying it, but Alice's thoughts were somewhere else.
The one whom receives all the compliments, compliments the one who doesn't.
'Heh. They were right. Loriana is perfect.'
A sadness rose up in Alice's chest at that thought, but she shoved it down. She needed to be a good sister, and push her negative thoughts aside. Besides, even she had a suitor. Her heart swelled at the thought of him.
She thanked her sister, then they walked home together.
Once they returned to the mansion. A man with short black hair was waiting for them. "Good day, Alice.", He stated with a smile. Alice smiled brightly at him in return. "Good day… Loriana." Her older sister nodded eloquently back to him and curtsied. "Good day. It's nice to see you." He moved forward and kissed the top her sister's hand politely.
"Okay, well, I'll leave you two to it. It's Sunday right? Enjoy yourselves. I'll be in the gardens." He bowed curtly before walking away. Alice waved and watched him depart. The two have only kissed a few times, and the times they have kissed was rather awkward. But, she knew in time she could get over her shyness around him and they could finally be a laid-back, happy couple. Loriana's giggles broke her thoughts. "C'mon, Alice. Let's go sit under the oak tree. I'll bring some books and we'll talk like we always do." Alice nodded happily. She loved Sunday afternoons with her sister. Loriana went on ahead to get her books.
Alice quickly to her room and changed into a light blue dress with blue and white stockings. She then put on dark pink platforms that had straps that wrapped around her feminine ankles. Finally, she tied a fresh white apron around her that had frayed sleeves.
She began to leave the room before opening the small accessory bag that they got today. She tied the ribbon into her hair, before leaving the room. She walked down the stairs calmly, and outside of the mansion, as a lady should, but once she reached the grass covered ground, she began to run.
She had the life of a caged bird, but as long as she was with her sister she was happy. Sunday afternoons are heaven to-
Alice stopped at the sight her boyfriend talking to Loriana. On impulse, she quickly hid behind a tree, and pressed her back to it.
She listened in the best she could.
"-that way for her. I like you, Loriana. Alice is too much of a little girl for me."
'What?' A shocked, empty expression fell on Alice's face as she continued listening.
"I don't know what you are-" Some shuffling was heard before he spoke up again. "Please, understand that I have the utmost respect for your sister. She's are fine young woman. There's just no chemistry there and she's nothing compared to you."
'Nothing compared to you.'
Hurt ran through her veins like venom, spreading over everything and destroying whatever it came across in Alice's mind.
She could hear Loriana grow agitated. "And you're an idiot. My sister is a beautiful talented woman. If you don't like her, why haven't you told her that yet? Why play with her feelings like that?"
"I am not playing with her feelings. I am going to tell her right after this. Loriana, can't you see that my love for you is real?"
Loriana got quiet. "I….I… Okay…." Alice couldn't freaking believe it. Loriana was okay with how this guy was talking about her. When the two grew quiet, she peeked around the corner.
There they stood, locked in a passionate kiss.
She couldn't take it anymore.
She stepped from behind the tree into view.
"Congratulations. To the both of you." Alice stated emotionlessly. They broke the kiss as they spotted the girl in blue.
"Alice, I-", her ex started saying something before Alice interrupted him. "I hope you make each other very happy. Don't worry, I don't care that you're breaking up with me. It's fine. Just, next time, I would recommend you have a little more decency and break up with the girl before you make her watch you kiss another."
Alice dashed off before they could see her face that was red with tears.
She didn't know how long she ran for. Maybe a couple of minutes, maybe a few hours. She didn't care. She eventually sat behind an oak tree, nearly hyperventilating. Her heart felt shattered in her chest. What was she supposed to do now?
It's alright. She didn't love him. She couldn't love. It wasn't worth the trouble, Then why was she….
Why was she so broken to see him kiss Loriana? Why couldn't she be happy that they found love? She didn't care. She said so, yet….
Why was she wanting so desperately to be loved?
Alice finally broke down into tears. Her body was racked with sobs as she gripped the ground for stability.
She just wanted to be loved so bad. Just once, she'd like to love and have someone love her back. Maybe it was a selfish notion. But, it hurt so bad. She would give anything to be happy. To be genuinely happy, with no one saying that's it improper or forcing her to live a life of captivity. She leaned her head back against the bark of the tree. Every nerve in her body was on fire. She felt like she couldn't breathe. A wave of exhaustion rode over her and her eyes fluttered shut as she effectively cried herself to sleep.
"Alice! Get up! You've got to chase me!"
She opened her heavy eyes to see a white talking rabbit in a red plaid waistcoat.
'Just a few more minutes….'
"Don't you see, Alice?"
"This is the world you wished for."
"A world that wishes for you."
Alice's eyes slowly opened and she warily took in her surroundings. She was laying in a hospital bed, but there was an amusement park employee standing by, so could figure out that she was still in Gowland's territory.
"Oh, my head….." Alice kneaded the side of her head. She can't remember what she was dreaming about, and every time she tries to remember, another twinge of pain sparks in her head.
Two amusement park attendees that were nearby both heard her speak and ran to her side. "Oh! You're up! We're so glad!", The faceless woman said. "You had us all worried sick! Our boss especially!", The faceless man chorused. Okay, Alice wasn't expecting that.
"You were all worried about...me?" She could hardly process it.
"Well...Yeah. We've gotten used to see you around here! We would hate to see something happen to you. Seeing how our boss loves you 'n all." She was woozy from her head pounding so just accepted it as her mishearing them. After bowing to her, they turned on their heels and left the room, whispering amongst themselves.
'So, our bet still stands?'
'Are you kidding me? She was practically googly eyeing him all day!'
'I can't believe that she fell for Mary, I mean, out of all the men in wonderland. He sure is then least likely to win the game.'
'Whatever, just take your losses like a man, you pansy.'
'No, I'm not losing a hundred bucks! Let's just get Gowland himself to come see her and see what happens.'
Alice couldn't make out what they were saying and before she knew it they were out the door.
"Hey! Do you have anything...for my...head?" She sighed as her words faltered. She looked around before sitting up onto the side of the clinic bed. She jolted when she heard the door open. She looked up to see Gowland entering the room with a metal tray that contained a bottle of water and a glass.
"Well! Look who decided to wake on up." He grinned widely and set down the tray on the bedside table. "How are you feelin'?"
"I feel like somebody's hit my head with a metal pipe, but it's better than before. Thank you." She smiled at him as he sat down beside her on the bed. "Aw, don't mention it. You're real important to me." His face suddenly grew serious at the last sentence. She lightly blushed, going quiet.
"You want some water?", he asked with a smile.
Alice nodded modestly. Her throat was very dry, and it was deathly hot. Water sounded heavenly right about now.
Gowland lifted the water bottle, but did something Alice would have never seen coming. He pressed the rim of the bottle to his mouth and sipped the water, before kissing her. She squeaked in surprise which was muffled. Her eyes went wide as she felt water enter her mouth.
It was like when Peter kissed her and forced her to drink that strange liquid when she first came here, but at the same time, it wasn't. Gowland was gentle against her lips, where Peter was straight to the point. Just as firm and serious, but more sweet and approval seeking. When her surprise wore off she started to slowly drink what he was offering her, a heavy blush covering her cheeks. When he finally retracted, she was gasping for air, seeing how she froze during their kiss.
"G-Gowland? What was that?" Alice asked. There was no irritation in her voice, just shock. Gowland placed a hand on his leg and bent over in thought.
"Listen, Alice. I like you. I like you alot. Hell, I love you. More than anyone."
She opened her mouth to reply but nothing came out. She found out that the man she was in love with loved her too, but….
This was a dream.
Her heart throbbed as she remembered that.
She's scared. She's scared of being happy here. She's afraid that this whole world would shatter before her eyes any second, so she tried not to get attached to anything it had to offer. She also admits to herself that she's failed. She couldn't deny it any longer.
Alice Liddell is head over heels and unconditionally in love with Mary "Merry-go-round" Gowland.
And that terrified her.
She looked up at him, their faces so close, but he didn't move a muscle. Realization struck her like a bolt of lighting. He was waiting for her to approve or reject his advances. For once during the entire time she's been in wonderland, a man did not force her to do anything. He held back with the calmness of an experienced, mature man. He was giving her full reign, and looking at her like she was a queen while doing so.
Oh, Screw it all. She's done fighting.
She tried so hard to win, she really did.
But, she lost the game. She lost. She fell in love with the man sitting beside her, currently waiting for her response.
The game won. It made her ever so infatuated with a dream. So, Alice shall wait for the world to disintegrate at anytime, and tear her away from happiness. But, for now….
Alice broke the tense silence. "Can I have some more water?", She shyly inquired with a blush filling her cheeks even further.
The final cards were being played.
Gowland let out the breath he didn't know he was holding. "Of course." He brought the water bottle back to his lips and drew the cool liquid into his mouth. His lips then connected with Alice's again. The kiss was chaste, as she drank the water he was giving her, but the kiss was full of feelings for each other that were hidden for far too long.
When they parted, she softly smiled and inched closer to him, placing her small hand over his much larger one. "Some more?", She suggested, her voice no louder than a whisper.
His eyes fell upon hers and she shivered under his gaze. It was just so passionate and filled with desire. "Mhmm." He repeated action, transferring water in their kiss, becoming more heated with each contact. Alice lost herself in it. He was becoming like a drug to her, every time her lips met with his, she took another draw and she could feel herself become addicted to him.
She's done with trying to escape the game, to escape love itself, because it was plain to see.
This time, their tongues accidentally brushed up against each other in the exchange of water, and they both melted a little at the electricity that flowed through the simple touch.
A love that's so intense like this can't be avoided. It can't be resolved.
When they parted, it wasn't for long. Alice whimpered and asked for more again. That small, tiny, almost silent whimper made Gowland's eyes narrow in determination. Oh, he would give her more.
S he had to make a choice.
He drank from the water bottle as he did before, but this time when their lips met, his tongue pressed against hers purposefully, inviting them dance together. Alice softly whimpered again at the touch, this time in pleasure, and that sound went straight to Gowland's groin.
He deepened the kiss even further, seeking to explore as much as he could. She tasted of strawberries, and he loved it. God, He loved her!
She could either let the fire she had in her heart for him grow or put it out immediately.
Some of the water leaked down her chin as she was entranced by his kiss. When they came up for air, Gowland licked the water up towards her mouth. The girl blushed heavily and panted in the wake of their lust for each other. She didn't even have to ask anymore, as Gowland quickly returned to her lips. Gulp after gulp of water, kiss after kiss.
And she chose to burn in their flames.
Soon, the empty plastic bottle clattered against the floor, forgotten.