Still, here's a link for Chapter 5, which also contains links to the rest of the fic.
That said, on with the show.
Title: Choices (6/?)
Pairing: Alice/Mirana (White Queen), implied Dorothy/Ozma
Rating: Yeah, we've probably reached an R-rating with this chapter.
Disclaimer: If you recognize them, chances are they aren't mine.
Summary: It's the choices we make that make us who we are.
Waking up the next morning, it took Alice several moments to figure out just where, exactly, she was.
It wasn't at all like when she had woken the previous day. Then, she had been confused, wondering what had disturbed her, and feeling a curious impulse to get out of bed and do something. Now, on the other hand...
Mirana made a quiet sound in her sleep and snuggled closer to her.
Now, she might have trouble finding the motivation to go anywhere even if her life depended on it.
As worn down as she'd been from the day's events, she'd actually fallen asleep more then once while Mirana was brushing her hair. Thankfully, the Queen had seemed more amused then anything, and after she was finished, she'd helped Alice prepare for bed - and she couldn't quite help but suspect that Mirana had deliberately sought out the shortest, skimpiest silken negligee that she owned for her to wear - and slid under the sheets with her, holding her close and resting her chin on Alice's shoulder.
Waking up in Mirana's arms, the Queen's beautiful face so close to her own... It was heaven. How was it even possible for her to feel so much love and contentment, all at once?
Mirana herself looked peaceful, so much so that Alice didn't have the heart to wake her just yet. She suspected that, despite what she projected outwardly, "peaceful" wasn't something the ruler experienced often. So Alice let her sleep, taking the opportunity to just look at her, drinking her in like the exquisite treat for the eyes that she was. It also gave her time to think about the heat that had consumed her when Mirana had kissed her.
This was both good and bad.
It was good in that she found the remembrance pleasurable, and it gave her time to sort out her reactions. Never in her life had she ever experienced something so intense. She didn't think she'd ever been quite so desired, either, which felt nice on multiple levels. And as Champion, she was now inextricably linked to both the land and the Queen. She had a purpose, she had someone to love who loved her in return, and she had dear friends whom she cared for as deeply as her own family, if not more so. All they had to do was get rid of Maleficent, and everything would be perfect.
She just barely managed not to snort in amusement. All they had to do?
Of course, being given so much time to think had its bad side. Truthfully, it was a little too pleasurable, and she could feel that same heat returning. Only now, she had no idea what to do about it. She'd never been in love before, nor had she ever run into someone who could ignite her blood without even a word.
No, don't start thinking about the blood.
Which was a good idea, since she really didn't know what TO think about that. She hadn't felt nearly as disturbed by it as she would have thought, and it had obviously excited Mirana. Unfortunately, that left her at a loss as to what to do next. Even if Mirana were awake, she would have been uncertain. Unlike some of her (former) peers, she'd never engaged in any clandestine affairs, so she wasn't even sure how to pleasure a man, let alone another woman. She suspected - or hoped, at any rate - that Mirana could help her with that, since she probably did have experience in that area, if the way she kissed was any indication.
Not that she wanted to think about any of the ways her Queen might have gotten that experience. She didn't like the thought of Mirana with anyone but her.
Judging by the way Mirana had reacted to meeting Ozma, that feeling seemed to be mutual.
I hope I don't disappoint you, she mused as she ran a hand through Mirana's ivory locks. Mirana stirred in response to her touch - and perhaps, a part of her considered, her thoughts - and fixed her with a sleepy gaze. "Good morning, Alice," she said, not moving an inch.
It would seem I'm not the only one who does not wish to go anywhere, Alice decided with a smile. "I don't see how it could be otherwise, with you here."
"Such a sweet tongue you have," Mirana murmured with a radiant smile of her own. "I believe I should examine it in more detail." She reached up and pulled Alice into a kiss that went on for several minutes and left the Champion breathless and physically aching with desire when she pulled back. "My poor Alice. Such pent up need. I would be a poor queen indeed, were I to allow you to remain so." She gently pushed Alice onto her back, then slowly slid a leg across hers, sensuously pulling herself forward until she was straddling her. She leaned down until their noses just barely touched. "Please, allow me to grant you some release," she whispered, her eyes never leaving Alice's.
Alice couldn't look away, either, but she did manage to nod and breathe out a nearly silent, "Please do."
Mirana seized her lips in another dizzying kiss, almost distracting Alice from the hands that were caressing her chest.
Almost. But not quite.
Alice's breathing increased further as Mirana's manipulations of her breasts pushed her already inflamed libido to previously unimaginable heights. But Mirana didn't hurry. She was slow and steady, as if determined to drive Alice as mad as the Hatter. Alice could have wept with relief when Mirana sat her up long enough to remove the flimsy garment she'd been given to sleep in, then pushed her back down and replaced her hands with her mouth.
She'd never even thought of such a thing, herself, but the loving attention Mirana paid to her breasts - gentle kisses, electrifying licks, and suckling that ranged from maddeningly light to gloriously intense - made it clear that she'd have trouble thinking of much of anything else for quite some time.
Or so she thought, right up until Mirana's fingers reached a certain incredibly sensitive bundle of nerves between her legs.
She bucked so hard, she nearly threw her lover off of her, crying out in ecstasy. Mirana let out a liquid chuckle. "Just wait. It gets better."
That seemed unlikely. She'd never felt anything so intense before in her life. "How could-"
Mirana's tongue replaced her fingers again, and Alice decided she should stop asking such foolish questions.
Then there were fingers pushing up against her entrance, pushing inside it, and she could feel her hips reflexively start to move in counterpoint to the new sensation. "Mirana, please!" she panted out. "I need... I-I need..."
"I know." She nearly felt the words more then heard them. If Mirana did know what she wanted, though, she didn't act on it. She continued a slow and steady pace of teasing, pulling back any time Alice got close to the edge. She kept it up for longer then Alice could keep track of - which wasn't a terribly difficult feat, given how erratically Alice's brain seemed to be firing just then - until the blonde woman was little more then a collection of screaming nerves.
Then she acted.
The slow and gentle fingers abruptly became fast and far more forceful, while teasing licks were replaced by wonderful suction combined with rapid - yet still somewhat gentle - licking, and Mirana's free hand reached up to play with one of her breasts.
It was all too much.
Alice's climax struck with seemingly physical force, and she was barely even aware of her screams of pleasure. She lost track of reality for long enough to make her wonder if she'd lost consciousness briefly, and the next thing she knew, she was sprawled limply on the bed, Mirana staring down at her. The Queen's eyes burned with naked lust, and, yes, there was the madness she usually tried to keep suppressed. She leaned closer and whispered, "MINE."
The absolute truth of that declaration caused Alice's body to vibrate like a plucked harp string, a shiver of perfect agreement sliding up her spine.
"She can't have you," Mirana continued, the fire in her eyes pulling Alice in, despite how tired she was. Or had been, anyway. She could feel strength seeping back into her body from somewhere, and part of her realized that it was actually coming from Underland itself. "You're mine."
"Can I have you?" Alice asked, licking her lips.
Mirana closed her eyes and shuddered, and when she reopened them, she was herself again. "As often as you like," she purred.
Alice forgot about the world outside of the bedroom for the next two or three hours, and didn't care in the slightest.
They did eventually have to dress, of course.
As much as Alice would have loved to stay in Mirana's bed for the foreseeable future - she was sure she could talk Time into stopping for a while - there was a war on, and Maleficent wouldn't be affected by anything that happened in Underland. So they would formulate a plan, get rid of her once and for all, and then Alice would be free to attend to her Queen at her leisure.
Not that she hadn't wanted to get rid of her before, but with motivation like that... Well.
"The others will be meeting us for breakfast, then?" Alice asked as she tried with mixed success to tame her hair. She had selected a simple, light blue dress to wear - once she recovered enough strength to stand unaided - which was both comfortable and easy to move in. It looked good on her, but her hair wasn't quite cooperating. Eventually, she just gave up and settled for tying it back. She knew Mirana liked it to hang loose, but hopefully the enhanced view of her neck would prove adequate compensation.
"Yes." Mirana, shockingly enough, was wearing white. "As much as I dislike spoiling a meal with serious conversation, time is of the essence. Sooner or later, Maleficent will act. We must discover her goal before she does, or we may not be able to stop her from meeting it."
Alice had been thinking about that, and what little Ozma had been able to tell her. "Would it be fair to say you know your sister better then anyone else?" she asked, seemingly at random.
Mirana, who had been standing several paces away while she watched her lover finish dressing (while certainly not plotting out the fastest ways of getting her back out of that dress again, why would you even think such a thing?), looked confused as the topic of conversation suddenly changed to Iracebeth, but answered as best she could, none the less. "I... suppose so, yes. Though due to her tendency to kill those around her over any slight, real or imagined, that may not mean as much as you might think."
Alice nodded, accepting that, but pressed on, regardless. "So, if she were to hide something, do you think you could figure out where, and how to get at it?"
"I had a thought."
"Would you show me?"
Alice blinked. "I can... do that?"
"You can with me, but only if you choose to," Mirana explained. "We are bound to each other, directly and through Underland. And, I suspect, in yet another fashion. Blood holds magic, after all, and... well."
Whoops. Maybe she was going to have to think about that, after all.
"So, that would have connected us, as well," Mirana continued. "I can't hear everything you're thinking, don't worry. But I can pick up on your emotional state, and if you concentrate and focus on making me see or hear something, I suspect I will." Of course, such a connection went both ways, as the White Queen proceeded to demonstrate by showing Alice an image that-
Alice felt her cheeks flush. "Don't start something we have no time to finish, my love."
"Just testing how well it worked," Mirana replied, the very picture of innocence.
Alice, quite naturally, was not fooled for one second. "Indeed. And now that we've established that..." She concentrated on her theory. It had a fair number of holes in it, but it felt right.
Judging by Mirana's sudden frown, she got through loud and clear. "It's possible. Given how no one ever heard anything about that, I suspect she was unable to find a way to turn it to her advantage. It has been... quite some time, indeed, since I last visited Salazen Grum - since I was last welcome there - but she would have hidden it there, if anywhere. As for where... Likely somewhere in her chambers, locked inside something to keep anyone from sensing it."
"And considering how she felt about you, she might well have established defenses that would react... negatively, to your presence," Alice said delicately.
"That might kill me, you mean?" Mirana waved off any concern, having long since adjusted to the idea that her sister wanted her dead. "That wouldn't surprise me. But I would have no time to go searching myself, anyway, so it hardly matters." She held out her hand, smiling again as Alice took it. The connection between them seemed to flare brighter with physical contact, and the happiness and love that poured forth from her Champion did more to calm her inner demons and stabilize her sanity then any magic or alchemy she'd ever encountered.
And Alice, despite getting a good glimpse of what lurked inside her, would still stand by her side, no matter what. She was staying, she was Mirana's, and she liked it that way.
Mirana nearly floated on air the entire way to the small breakfast parlor. The only reason she didn't was because a tolerantly amused Alice kept tugging her back to the floor, lest someone stare.
Petunia was waiting for them near the parlor's doorway. Alice smiled and greeted her warmly, not at all surprised when the fairy decided to use her shoulder as a seat. Fortunately, even Mirana's jealous instincts weren't such as would be set off by a fairy. To Alice's delight, in addition to Ozma and Chessur, Tarrant and Mally were also present, and she hurried over to greet them. Mirana trailed after her, observing in fond amusement as the three friends embraced each other in greeting - for a moment, Tarrant seemed to be reintroducing himself to Mally, which could have been anything from another example of his own madness to a clever joke. With him, it was hard to tell, sometimes. That embrace didn't bother the White Queen, either - she could tell, now, that Alice thought of him more like a brother then anything else.
Breakfast was served in short order, a lovely meal of scrambled eggs - despite what Alice thought, there were non-sentient animals in Underland - toast, and ice cream sundaes, with a delicious blend of tea to drink. Ozma seemed bemused by the menu - especially the idea that salads were considered dessert - while Alice, more accustomed to Underland, didn't even blink.
Conversation stayed mostly light while they ate, Ozma explaining a bit about her kingdom, and being told about Underland in return. The March Hare, Alice learned upon inquiry, had returned to his home after the Red Queen's defeat. She could only hope this would help calm his frazzled nerves. "Someone has been helping him with repairs, I should hope," she commented, remembering the ramshackle state of the windmill and tea party table when she'd seen them last, especially in comparison to her first visit.
"Oh, aye," Tarrant assured her. "I hope you can stay for a bit, after this is all over. I'm sure he'd love to see you before you had to go."
"Silly Hatter," she remarked with a smile. "I'm not going anywhere, this time. I'm afraid you're all stuck with me." This lead to several excited exclamations, an explanation about how she was now Champion to Underland and her Queen, and more happy comments.
Warmth and happiness spread from Alice through the bond she and Mirana shared, making the Queen smile. Except for Ozma and Petunia, everyone there knew her well enough to tell it was a real smile, and were mildly chagrined to realize just how many of her smiles beforehand had been fake. Well, Alice decided, she'd just have to do whatever it took to make sure Mirana didn't need to put on that mask ever again.
Before she could begin plotting out their post-Maleficent life, though... "As much as I hate to disrupt the mood, we do need to get down to business, I should think. Fortunately, barring any unforeseen complications, I believe we have learned enough to be able to take care of Maleficent once and for all."
"Take care of who, now?"
Hatter's question prompted an explanation of just who and what was attacking Underland, after which Alice smoothly segued into her suspicions as to the why of it. "I don't believe it's a coincidence that we discovered a passageway from Oz to Underland, which had been relocated by someone to the most inaccessible place possible, at the same time we found that the Red Queen was being held and, I suspect, tortured for information about a missing magical object from Oz."
Ozma started. "You mean..."
"I believe Iracebeth discovered and made off with the Emerald, yes," Alice confirmed. "She most likely set up defenses to keep her sister from even noticing it, let alone taking it. Unfortunately for Maleficent, the very nature of her creations would keep them from getting a hold of it, either." Because, really, the only sure-fire way of keeping someone with death magic away from your prized possessions was to require an absence of that very energy as a security measure. Or that was the way Alice saw it, anyway. "Likely, that is also what she wanted from me. Knowing from Stayne that I'd been to Salazun Grum, and that I have no dominion over the dead myself, Maleficent may well have judged me to be an ideal candidate to find and retrieve it."
"She will likely be displeased to find that is no longer the case," Mirana commented, sounding anything but displeased.
"Indeed. So, as I see it, we have little recourse but to take the fight to Maleficent. It is obvious that she desperately wishes to get her hands on this emerald, and will continue attacking until she has it... or is made to stop." Which was not to say that she was excited about going off to battle once again. She'd made her peace with the Jabberwocky, and no one under Maleficent's command was actually alive, but she did not - nor, she suspected, would she ever - relish the prospect of fighting. In this case, though, it simply could not be avoided. "To do so, there are several steps we must take. Step one will be retrieving Dorothy Gale." Because if one was going to be fighting for the freedom of Oz, then having Oz's actual champion along was only common sense.
Ozma perked up immediately at the prospect, which she knew Mirana didn't miss. (Truthfully, no one really missed it, but Alice was paying more attention to Mirana then any of the others.) Another benefit, which she didn't mention, was that having Dorothy around to take up Ozma's attention would certainly help Mirana convince herself that the other queen posed no threat to their relationship. A moment later, though, Ozma deflated a bit. "I'm afraid I can't summon her here with so much of my magic stolen, and that passage to the Otherside you mentioned leads to the wrong continent. By the time Dorothy got there, or we traveled to her, it would be too late."
Alice nodded. "True, but I believe we can travel from here right to her. The precedent has already been established, after all."
Ozma frowned. "What do you mean?"
"I may not know much about your Dorothy, but did she not make her own way to Oz for her first visit?"
"Well... Yes, in theory. Though that was more of a freak natural occurrence then anything else."
"Perhaps, perhaps not. Nevertheless, we can do the same now, here."
"Cross from Underland to Kansas via tornado? Impossible."
Alice smiled. "I make a habit of believing six impossible things before breakfast." She scooped the last of her ice cream onto her spoon. "That's number four." Declining to comment on the other five, she instead ate her ice cream.
"I can send you there," Mirana said, responding to a silent inquiry from Alice. "However, due to the current state of things, I will not be able to accompany you. I am confident you can manage to return on your own, though."
Given how much more she knew about magic then Alice, the Champion was inclined to take her Queen's word for it. "Don't worry, we won't be long," she assured her. After all, she added silently, Dorothy is not likely going to be hard to convince to come with us. Having saved Oz twice before, and stayed in constant contact with Ozma for all the years since, there really was no reason she wouldn't want to come.
Unless she just hated tornadoes.
Setting aside that unhelpful worry, Alice turned to the others. "Now, step two will fall to the lot of you, if you're willing."
"course we're willing!" Mally interjected, seeming almost offended at the idea that any of them wouldn't want to help Alice.
She smiled. "Let me finish, first. We need to have the emerald. I don't know much about magic, but that Iracebeth couldn't use it suggests that either it only works in Oz, or only native Ozians can make use of it." She raised an inquiring eyebrow at Ozma.
The monarch looked thoughtful. "History tells us that it is quite powerful, indeed. I've never heard of anyone not from Oz trying to use it, and prior to this, never suspected it had ever left Oz. That could well be the case."
Nodding, Alice returned her gaze to Mally and the others. "So while Iracebeth couldn't make use of it, Ozma can. And given the theft of most of her magic, she's going to need it." Because she might not know the woman all that well, but she knew Ozma would never be able to sit back and let others fight to reclaim her kingdom without her. Not if she could help it. "Also, there's always a chance Maleficent could convince some other poor soul to go and get it for her, so we need to take it first. You three probably know Salazun Grum about as well as anyone. The emerald will probably be located in her chambers. If one of the playing cards can be spared, they might be able to lead you right there."
"I know where the Red Queen's chambers are," Mally asserted, though she didn't sound nearly so affronted. She knew, as Alice did, that such a trip would not be fun for the Hatter. Still, he'd never let them go without him.
"Good." She would say nothing further about the subject if Mally didn't. "Once those are both accomplished, we'll meet back here and assemble our forces for step three: traveling to Oz." She shook her head. "The mirror is no doubt under constant guard. We'd be slaughtered if we attempted to get there that way. I'm not sure how the passage between Neverland and Oz functions, exactly, but Maleficent is smart enough to figure out how I got there, and will either have that under guard, or will have just shut it down altogether."
"Dorothy can get us there with the Ruby Slippers," Ozma informed her. "Even with whatever interference Maleficent may be causing."
She would have appreciated a more detailed explanation of those shoes, but Alice knew that could wait. "Excellent. After that, all we have to worry about is stopping her." Which, not knowing all that much about what was going on in Oz just then, was something they couldn't really plan out in advance, except in the most abstract terms.
"Let's get started."
I realize this chapter is shorter then usual, for which I apologize, but I wanted to get it out as soon as I can, and this just seemed like a logical stopping point. Had I kept going, it would have taken forever to reach another. ;)
Some of you - and you know who you are *winks* - have asked me if I'm planning on writing a sequel to this, after it's finished. Since we're getting closer to the end - two or three more chapters and an epilogue, I think, at most - I suppose I can say that while there won't be a direct sequel, there will be a future fic. In fact, you should have enough clues by now to guess just how far in the future. If you've been paying attention, that is. ;)