[personal profile] k_puff
Title: You know, love love.
Fandom: Alice
Characters: Alice, OC, Hatter
Rating: safe for kids
Disclaimer: Not mine. Done.
Warnings: pre-series

Summary: Alice's best friend tries to loosen Alice's definition of "love" -- she is only partly successful.

A/N: Trudy is an invention of my own, named after Gertrude Chataway, one of Carroll's other muses (besides Alice Liddell, of course).

Alice, by her very nature, was not a very cuddly person. She had always known this to be true, and she knew that it was odd, but she’d never thought it was a problem until one afternoon when she went out to lunch with her friend Trudy.

Trudy was a short, bubbly brunette with pin-curled hair and a heart-shaped face. She snorted when she laughed and talked like a small woodland animal when she got excited, but she stuck like glue and didn’t let go. After Alice’s father disappeared, when Alice had actively and effectively alienated herself from everyone she knew except her mother, Trudy was the only one to stick around.

She did not leave.

So every two weeks, the two of them would go out to lunch at the same deli, that one on the corner that made killer ham-and-cheese paninis, and they’d sit on a sidewalk table and gossip. They’d talk about work, and their parents, and their love lives (which Trudy always had something to say about, and Alice only on occasion), and today Trudy was making Alice laugh with a very interesting story concerning a coworker who showed up to work still drunk—

“Excuse me,” Trudy said, interrupting her story to pick up her phone, which was vibrating loudly on the table. “Hello? Mitchell!” She beamed. “Yeah, I did get tomorrow afternoon off, sorry I didn’t call you, I was late to lunch with Alice. I’ll see you then, yeah? …Great. Love you!”

She hung up and placed her phone back in her purse. “Sorry about that. As I was saying—“

“Wait a minute,” Alice interrupted with a wave of her hand and a raised eyebrow. “Trudy, weren’t you just telling me that you only started seeing Mitchell two weeks ago?”

“Yeah. What’s the problem? It’s not like he’s a stranger, we’ve been living in the same building for four months--”

“But you’ve only been dating for two weeks!” Alice looked at her best friend like she’d just said she played with fire for fun. Which, in Alice’s opinion, she might as well be doing. “You can’t tell a guy you love him after only two weeks, you can’t possibly mean it.”

Trudy waved her off, giving Alice a pitying look. “Alice, of course I didn’t mean love love. Like… true love, love. People say ‘I love you” all the time without it being any big, romantic deal.”

“I don’t,” Alice said.

“But you must have told whats-his-name, Jack? You’ve been dating for weeks, by now you must have told him you loved him. Just saying goodbye, or getting off the phone, don’t you do that?”

“But why? Why would I do that, I don’t love him yet!”

Trudy looked at Alice with an expression that clearly said You Must Be Bullshitting Me. Alice rolled her eyes.

“Look, Trudy, the only people I’ve told that I loved them have been you and my mother, and that’s because I really mean it. I refuse to say something I don’t mean. Not when it’s that important.” And not when it’s to a man went unsaid.

“Alice,” Trudy said, laying her hand on Alice’s. “You are a closet case. There is nothing wrong with using ‘love’ as a casual term for affection and loyalty. It’s astounding that someone as fiercely loyal as you are hasn’t figured this out by now. Maybe you should try it, hello?”

“Trudy, you may love freely, but I don’t.” Alice picked at the crust of her panini and changed the topic.

A week later, Jack was handing her a ring, and she was telling him it was too fast and showing him the door. Then she ran for awhile and fell while doing it, in more ways than one.

First she told him that she believed him. Then she told him that she trusted him.

Two days after Hatter had first appeared in her mother’s living room, she told him that she loved him. And she meant it, and she could tell he believed her by the way his eyes lit up and his dimple flashed and he picked her up and twirled her in the air and told her that he loved her, too.

And at lunch that Saturday, when Hatter insisted on meeting her best friend and Trudy saw the way the two of them were looking at each other, she gave Alice a look so smug and so reminiscent of a certain cat that Alice had to laugh.

Now I've got to take my Shakespeare final. Joy.
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