"Begin at the beginning," the King said, very gravely, "and go on till you come to the end: then stop."
-Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
"True courage is in facing danger when you are afraid..."
-L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
"Dreams do come true, if only we wish hard enough. You can have anything in life if you will sacrifice everything else for it."
-J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan
Alice stopped to fix her hair in the restaurant's front window before going inside. It only took her a moment to recognize the two prospective roommates that she had video chatted with about two weeks before. She swiftly walked over to them to avoid keeping them waiting any longer, but caught them off guard when she plopped into the seat across from them without any warning. They looked up from their conversation and drinks, a coffee with a splash of milk and a generous helping of honey for Dorothy and a steaming mug of earl grey tea for Wendy.
"Oh! I'm sorry to surprise you, and I didn't mean to interrupt your conversation," Alice apologized. She stuck her hand toward the darker haired Dorothy. "It's so nice to finally meet you two in person." First Dorothy shook her hand, and then Wendy did.
"I'm glad we can finally meet," Wendy said. "Before we start, would you like anything to eat or drink?"
"Oh, just an iced tea, please." Wendy waved the waitress over and ordered Alice's drink for her.
"I know we talked a bit during our video chat, but we have some other questions to ask before we decide whether or not we want you to be our roommate," Dorothy explained.
"Of course!" Alice responded. "Feel free to ask anything you want." Just then, the waitress came back with her iced tea.
"Okay, so you told us that you've never lived away from home before?" Wendy asked.
"No, I haven't. I've lived in Oxford until now."
"Really? I have family in Oxford; I grew up in London." Wendy responded enthusiastically.
"Oh great, get the Brits talking about how wonderful England is," Dorothy muttered.
"Well, where did you grow up?" Alice asked.
"Kansas," Dorothy responded tersely. Alice looked over at Wendy, confused.
"Don't worry, Dorothy's always a bit cranky before she finishes her morning coffee." Wendy nudged up against Dorothy, making her roll her eyes. "Isn't that right, Dotty?" she asked sweetly, getting in the other girl's face. Dorothy swatted at the red-head, but Wendy just pushed her hand away and kissed her cheek before giggling.
"So, how long have the two of you been dating?" Alice asked, making Wendy laugh loudly. Even Dorothy cracked a smile.
"We're not dating," Wendy said.
"Yeah, Wen is just very flirtatious," Dorothy continued.
"Oh," Alice said quietly. She felt slightly relieved, but she didn't know exactly why. She took a sip of her iced tea.
"Although I'm straight, Dorothy is bisexual. She likes the boys and the girls." Wendy said playfully. Alice nodded.
"What about you? Are you into chicks or dicks?" Dorothy asked bluntly. Alice's face turned the color of a tomato, and she clasped her hand over her mouth to keep from spitting her drink out. She started coughing, which only made the other girls laugh.
"Well, are you gonna answer?" Wendy asked. She leaned forward and placed her head in her hands, staring intently, waiting for an answer.
"Oh, uh, chicks. I like chicks," Alice hesitated before saying.
"You don't sound so sure," Dorothy taunted.
"I definitely like chicks and only chicks." Alice tried to say with a straight face. The three girls eyed each other for a moment or two before bursting into fits of giggled, complete with snorts and gasps for air.
"Well, she sure has the humor we were looking for," Dorothy told Wendy. Wendy nodded in agreement, her uncontrollable laughter rendering her unable to speak for the time being. "So, we should probably get through the rest of the questions, shouldn't we?"
Alice nodded as she stifled another laugh. "Yeah, I guess so."
Wendy finally got her laughter managed and asked, "So how do you feel about pets?"
"Oh! I love pets. I especially love rabbits and hares, which are totally different animals by the way, but I also like mice and butterflies. Oh, and cats. Cats are awesome."
"What about dogs?" Dorothy asked.
"Well," Alice began, "I've never had a dog, but I guess they're fine. Why, do you have a dog?"
"Yeah, Dorothy has a cairn terrier named Toto," Wendy explained.
"Oh, are those the small dogs with curly-ish fur?"
"Yeah, do you want to see a picture of him?" Dorothy asked. Alice nodded. Dorothy took out her phone and showed Alice a few pictures of her beloved dog.
"Aw, he's so adorable!" Alice exclaimed.
"I know, thanks," Dorothy said as she put her phone away.
"So, Alice, are you comfortable with you having the smaller of the two bedrooms, and then Dorothy and I will share the other one?" Wendy asked.
"Actually, do you guys think it'd be okay if I shared the bigger one with one of you guys, and then whoever I don't share the room with gets the smaller one to themselves?" Alice suggested nervously. Dorothy and Wendy shared a look of confusion.
"Um, no offence Alice, but you must be crazy if you don't want the single room," Wendy said.
"Yeah, why on earth would you rather share a room?" Dorothy added.
"Well, I always shared a bedroom with my older sister, Margaret, but then she moved out a few years ago when she got married. Honestly, I've felt really lonely since then and it's weird not sharing a room with anyone," Alice explained. After a short pause, Wendy broke the silence.
"It's okay with me if it's okay with Dorothy. Although, I would have to be the one sharing the room with you, otherwise who knows what would happen."
"What's that supposed to mean, Wen?" Dorothy asked before drinking up the last of her coffee.
"It means that I don't want you seducing Alice and making sweet lady love to her," Wendy replied. Now it was Dorothy's turn to turn bright red and almost spit out her drink. She slapped at Wendy's arm several times, and it took her several moments to regain her composure.
"All joking aside, it'd be fine for you to share the big room, and we can follow Wendy's great idea and she'll share with you," she said.
"What? No! I want to have a room all to myself," Wendy protested.
"Nope, too late, I'm calling dibs on it."
"Dammit," Wendy muttered.
"So... I'm guessing this means I'm moving in?" Alice said. Wendy and Dorothy smiled and nodded.
"That's exactly what it means."
"Alice, if Dorothy gets home before I do, can you tell her that I'm taking Toto for a walk?" Wendy asked as she took her coat and the dog's leash off the rack by the door.
"Yeah, sure," Alice called from the kitchen.
Wendy pulled on her light pink trench coat, attached the leash to Toto's collar, and stepped out of the apartment. She was grateful for the fact that the apartment was on the first floor and that she didn't have to carry Toto down any stairs. Wendy decided that she would get coffee for herself and her roommates when she passed the cappuccino cart on her way around the block. Toto stopped and barked at the bushes to the left, and when Wendy turned to see what he was barking at, she thought she saw a flash of bright orange hair. On further inspection, she found no one, so she dismissed it as either her imagination or her own ginger hair in her peripheral vision. Making her way around the block, she made sure to pick up after and dispose of Toto's 'business'. Finally, she stopped in front of the cappuccino cart and was delighted to find that there was no line like there usually was.
"The usual three coffees, Wendy?" the vender asked.
"Yes, thank you," Wendy responded as she pulled her wallet out of her coat pocket. She handed the man a ten dollar bill and grabbed the unbalanced cup tray. As she turned, she would've tripped over Toto's leash and crashed to the pavement, if not for the lean but clearly strong man who caught her. She regained her footing and pushed her hair out of her face.
"Oh my gosh, thank you so mu- Peter?" she stared incredulously at the tall man. She felt betrayed by her eyes. This man was quite a bit taller and older than the Peter she had known all those years ago, but there was that impish smile and those playful eyes that still somehow made their way into her dreams every so often.
"Hello Wendy," Peter Pan said with a smirk. He helped her stand upright and then untangled Toto's leash from around her feet.
"What - how - what is going on?" Wendy asked.
"I don't want to say too much now, because I don't know who might be listening in, but I can say that Never land is in serious trouble." Wendy's eyes widened. "Let's just go back to your apartment, and I can explain everything there," Peter suggested. He took her by the elbow and began to lead her towards the building she had come out of minutes before, but she stopped and looked him in the eye. He was a few inches taller than her, so she had to tilt her head back to get a good look.
"How do I know you're really the Peter I knew? Last time I saw you, you told me you were never growing up and that nothing anyone said or did would ever change that - even me," Wendy insisted. Peter sighed.
"Look in my eyes, Wendy. You know me. You trust me. Let's just go sit somewhere private so I can tell you everything that's happened without other people overhearing. You do still trust me, don't you?" Wendy looked down at her feet, thinking for a moment before looking back at Peter's face.
"Okay, let's go back to my apartment. But my roommates are there, and we're not kicking them out for this."
"How can we keep them from hearing us if we let them stay there?"
"We don't. They're my friends and I trust them just as much as I trust you, and I don't want to keep this big part of my past a secret from them anymore." Peter breathed in sharply and held his breath for a moment, before letting it out in a defeated sigh.
"Fine, but if they freak out, you're the one who has to deal with them."
"Deal." Wendy handed the coffee tray over to Peter so she could pick up Toto and they made their way back to the apartment. Wendy pushed the door open and was greeted by her roommates.
"Hey, Wen, thanks for taking Toto for a walk - who's your friend?" Dorothy asked. Wendy put Toto on the floor and he skittered away.
"This is Peter, and we have something very important to talk to you about. Let's just go sit down." She sat on the comfy white couch. Peter sat next to her and placed a reassuring hand on her knee. She flashed him a grateful smile as Dorothy and Alice sat down in the mismatched armchairs across from them.
"Wait, you're not pregnant, are you?" Alice asked. Wendy let out a nervous chuckle.
"No, no, I'm not pregnant. What I have to say is much more surprising than that, and much more important." She paused.
"Well, spit it out then, don't leave us in the dark," Dorothy said. Wendy looked at Peter again, who gave her an encouraging nod.
"Well, I guess I'll just start from the beginning then."