Alice was immediately aware of the fact that it was a dream.

The first clue was that she was perfectly sure of the fact that it was very early spring. Indeed when she looked at the conveniently-situated calendar, it indeed indicated that it was mid-March. It made no sense, therefore, for Ears to be so placidly sipping his tea as he sat across the way from her at the overly-long table.

The second clue was that she was actually having a rather pleasant cup of tea with him.

The third, and final, clue was the most convincing. She put down her cup of tea, turned over her palm, and made a counter-clockwise motion on it with her index finger three times. This indicated, according to the indications Belle had written down for her, that she was living a lucid dream. After months of trying, it had finally happened! Alice was so ecstatic that it was all she could do to contain herself, knowing that any major burst of excitement would undoubtedly break her control over the dream.

To be sure, however, she tested out her theory. She cleared her throat, and fully in control of her words asked Ears to pass the mustard (that, which she understood, was never present at the hare's parties after the incident with the White Rabbit's watch). Pleasantly her long-eared friend slid a jar of mustard in her direction. She tested this a few more times, just to be sure, and similar outcomes left her feeling both airy and powerful. The feeling of power, quickly vanished with her excitement; she felt the control begin to slip away, and at that very moment the largely-hatted, sorry excuse for a waste of perfectly good oxygen burst loudly through the brightly coloured doors of the garden.

"CLEAN CUP! CLEAN CUP! MOVE DOWN!" The large gloved hand harshly yanked Alice's wrist away from the teacup she was holding and dragged the accompanying body around the table two or three times before finally settling on a large plush chair the colour of plum juice. Alice's tongue was armed with the sharpest and most scathing of names for Reginald when he sat her down. The reproach was cut short when she realized that he had forced her to sit not on the chair, like she imagined he would, but directly on his lap.

"Of all the indecorous, tasteless, unseemly —" the blonde was interrupted, much to her chagrin, by the hatter's oblivious question.

"Where has Ears gone?" he asked with an innocent air as he turned this way and that. Had one asked Alice about that moment, she would have pointed out three things. Firstly, the look he gave was of feigned innocence that even within her deepest dreams aggravated her to no end. Secondly, that his hand was very cheekily sliding upwards onto her side. Thirdly, that the way he had trapped her between his body and the table made it an impossible task to get off of his lap. Had one asked Alice about that moment, there would have been three things which she would have adamantly denied. Firstly, the look he gave added such brilliance to his eyes that it made her heart do a little leap. Secondly, that the hand sliding sensually up her side made her skin crawl pleasurably and forced her to bring her thighs together a bit more closely. Thirdly, that it would have been a simple task to scoot off of Reginald and slide sideways out from between the chair and the table. None of these things would even cross her mind until a few weeks later during a restless night.

Huffing, Alice raised her nose condescendingly at the white-haired man, and stopped struggling against him in favour of crossing her arms indignantly. "I do not know nor frankly care to know. I would much rather you, Mr. Theophilus—"

("The Third" he interjected, as the part of her that struggled for lucidity reminded her of a day not so far back.)

"— would be so kind as to release me from this prison and allow me to get as far away from you as humanly possible. Rather, I would prefer to get as far away from you as inhumanly possible. Or get you far away, for that matter. Perhaps you'd consider a vacation by the ocean? Or in the ocean, would be my preference. Please be sure to bypass the snorkel." She struggled to keep her voice level as his fingers drummed their way up and down her side, in part tickling and in part producing that strange shivering sensation once more.

"Cricket," he voiced huskily. She risked a glance down at him and immediately wished she hadn't, as his expression had transformed into something much darker and exciting, causing her to get more shivers down her spine. She was barely able to maintain her body still. "There is no one else here, you don't need to act coy." He was perfectly aware, it seemed to her, of the reaction his touch had on her body. As the thought entered her head he immediately ran a lazy finger down her back towards her tailbone. Her back arched ever so slightly, and she had to bite the inside of her cheek to keep from emitting an embarrassing sound (a move which, considering she was dreaming, did little but feed the fantasy in her head).

"You indecent man!" She gasped out. "Can't you see that Ears could be back at any moment?"

This time Reginald looked genuinely confused. "But Cricket, why would he come into the house at this time of night?" Alice seemed puzzled, then looked around. The dream, it seemed, had changed scenery into a comfortable-looking house with a roaring fireplace warming the room. A large, fluffy rug (sheared momerath hair, perhaps?) carpeted the floor under which the plum plush chair now stood, and various hats and rolls of fabric littered this or that corner. Somewhere in the back of her mind, Alice realized that this was her imagination's version of Reginald's house.

She looked back at the sometimes-mad-man only to see him perfectly prudent. She wondered whether it was her who was mad when she noticed herself to be in a thin nightgown covered with nothing but a silken white robe. It took her a moment to notice that the hands which had been securing her to him (now that the table was nowhere in sight) were now snaking their way towards the belt of her robe. She slapped the hand away and stood hastily, turning to face him with what she believed to be an outraged countenance.

"How dare you attempt to touch me in such a way, you vile, despicable, wretched, scruffy-looking…nerf herder!" She shrieked out, her breath now coming in short bursts. Her fists were balled at her sides, but whether out of contempt or self-control, she was not sure.

Reginald, however, seemed unfazed by the outburst, and instead stood up from the chair with his naked hands in his pockets. Within the two steps that it took for Reginald to reach her, she took in the strange sight before her. The man, standing at least a foot and a half taller than her, was hatless and had a calm, almost sultry look about him. His uncharacteristically white dress shirt had the sleeves rolled up to his elbows and was unbuttoned by exactly three units, yet remained tucked into his black pants. His feet were sockless but comfortably tucked into red slippers which, if she had looked down, would have matched hers exactly. To top off the oddly mysterious air surrounding Reginald was the glow of the fire lighting his silhouette from behind. All this she noticed in less than the two seconds — two painfully long seconds of both anxiety and anticipation— it took for him to get close enough for her nose (or lips) to touch his collarbone. She swallowed and looked up at him, at a loss for words, looking very much like the doe in the proverbial headlights.

"Are you always so well-behaved, Cricket?" he said in a voice so quiet and velvety she almost had to ask him to repeat himself. Yet she had heard every word clearly. The words replayed in her head, but all she could bring herself to do was swallow and look into his eyes as his fingers gently brushed along her cheek and tucked a lock of hair behind her ear.

She parted her lips, surely to say something, and instead found herself inexplicably biting down as her chest heaved outwards ever so slightly. Her breasts brushed against his chest, and somewhere in the back of her mind a small voice screamed at her, telling her that a respectable young lady would have run screaming from the room already. This voice was immediately silenced by the butterfly-light contact Reginald's lips made with the helix of her ear.

The pressure of her teeth against her lower lip increased, and her legs seemed to give way completely under her. 'Blasted, unreliable legs!' she thought to herself as she fell against Reginald's chest completely, entirely unaware of the small noise her throat emitted when the hatter's lips moved to the lobe of her ear and started to suck lightly on it.

And just like that the fists which were balled at her sides began to wrap their way around the man's broad torso and rest against his shoulder blades, where her fingers began to knead his clothed skin. The pleasant shiver which had begun on Alice's spine settled into a pleasurable warmth at the pit of her stomach. She was barely aware of the light pressure which he exerted on her as he gently moved her from their spot back towards the plum coloured chair. Her mind refused to acknowledge the fact that he sat her down on the cushion of the chair and knelt in front of her, nor the fact that during the whole process his lips only moved away from her ear to begin gently pecking at the skin of her neck. Nor did she know, the girl known as Cricket, that her hands had unraveled from his back only to explore the skin underneath his collar, or that they were every so often venturing further down towards the front of his chest, peeking and discovering at the new patches of skin and light drizzles of hair.

None of this did she notice until she heard her own throat let out a pleased and rather indecent noise, her head arched back as the hatter gently bit down on her most sensitive of spots. She bit back any retort that the little voice in the back of her head might have made her say when the overlarge teeth retracted from her skin only to be replaced with a flickering tongue and occasional sucking. She then found herself, as both sides of her neck continued to be teased, biting her lip harder and harder. Alice wondered hazily whether her lips needed that contact as well. The immediate and desperate answer was in the affirmative. She pulled away, giving a protesting noise despite her own actions being the cause of it, and pulled Reginald's face upward. She then proceeded to crush her lips against his in a clumsy, desperate manner which he quickly corrected with his own expert movements. She allowed him control of the kiss, feeling that maybe occasionally it was not so bad to be submissive to somebody else's whims.

The heat in her belly had spread, and it was threatening to overthrow the fire that kept burning in the hearth. The fire inside spread upwards, filling her chest with warmth, and air, and pressure, and it was fed by each of Reginald's hungry kisses and suckles, which now alternated between her lips, neck, ears, and collarbone. The fire also spread downwards, and it became apparent to her only when she became sharply conscious of Reginald's hands rubbing the insides of her thighs through the thin fabric of her nightgown. Had she been in use of her mental faculties she would have realized that Reginald had taken the silken robe off around the time when he started nipping at her jaw.

Alice allowed the contact to go on until Reginald's thumb gently brushed against her womanhood. She gasped and pushed him away lightly, effectively stopping the kissing. She looked at him with a panicked look, but all she could see in his face was a sweet smile and an understanding look. He rested both his hands on her back and pulled her close, then kissed her more sweetly than he had all night. Alice relaxed at this, and allowed him to pull her off the chair and onto the floor with him. He continued to kiss her and gently laid her on the fuzzy carpet, her head towards the fire. The kisses were gentle, as were the hands caressing her body.

The blonde could feel every touch, gentler yet magnified, as he kissed her sweetly. He never forced his touch where she seemed reluctant, never took it further than she seemed ready for. He might have kissed her for minutes or for hours when he finally touched her breast. Alice took a sharp breath when she felt his hand make soft contact, but she did not resist it. He kneaded the skin slowly, always over the gown, before he started to use his thumb to concentrate on her nipple. He gauged her reaction, pinched a bit once in a while, and played off of her body's reaction in perfect synchrony. All this he did through the cloth of her nightgown. She would have lied, she knows, had she said that she wasn't supremely curious about what it would feel like without the offending piece of clothing.

Her thoughts, muddled as they were, became distracted by his hand going once more to the inside of her thigh. As she became increasingly mindful of the contact he made with the lower part of her body, she could not help but notice a definitive pressure where his body met her leg. She might not have been the most knowledgeable about the anatomy of a man, but she was aware of what that meant. At the feeling, she felt more than curiosity: she felt a need to know, somehow. Thus, Alice reached her hand, tentatively, towards the part between Reginald's thighs. As she brushed her fingertips against it, she felt the man shudder, then gently link his fingers with hers. "Not this time, Cricket. Let me take care of you tonight." He cooed softly in her ear and kissed her, his tongue brushing against hers. The kiss grew in urgency as her hands settled in a rubbing motion on his (clothed, much to her displeasure) chest and back, and his fingers began to touch her more freely. This time, she allowed the contact he made with the spot between her thighs.

It wasn't long before Alice was sure that Reginald was teasing, as her body began to notice that the pressure he was exerting on her area was not nearly enough. Her body, as though acting on its own, arched upward in order to increase the contact with his hand. A breathy chuckle in her ear told her that that was what he wanted. She was irritated by the idea of him teasing her until she felt the fabric of her nightgown being pulled upward, and the pressure of his body leaving her side. She looked at him in confusion and gasped when he slid off her undergarments. A flash of propriety overcame her as she attempted to cover herself up with her hands, a mild protest on her lips. He simply smiled and leaned down to kiss her hands, then gently pulled them aside by the wrists. He sat back and kept her legs open with his hands, regarding her with the kind of attention that a lady ought to feel ashamed by when a man looks at her face, never mind her privates. She began to protest once again, but his usual interruptions cut her short as he moved a finger gently along her entrance. She gasped and became keenly aware of the moisture she had not realized was there.

He continued to run his finger along her as she writhed and wavered somewhere between pleasure and shame. All the while he regarded her, at times her womanhood with interest and at times her face with tenderness (the latter particularly when he seemed to find a spot that made her mind go blank). Eventually he ventured his fingers between the folds (one by one, oh-so-carefully so as to not hurt her) and settled into a steady rhythm that seemed to take her to the verge of bliss and breathlessness.

Alice arched her back as Reg shifted his position once more. In the new way, he was able to kiss her neck or lips as he (or she) desired, while at the same time holding her tightly to his chest with one arm and pumping into her with the other hand; the palm of his hand served to create friction against a part which, previously unknown to her, provided a burst of pleasure each time he touched it. The rhythm of his fingers increased, the pressure getting tighter and tighter. His hands, her body, his kisses, the heat. She did not know. All those things blended together as his heavy breaths and her loud moaning morphed into a bundle of ecstasy and shaking. She knew, in her moment of pure and utter pleasure, that she screamed her name more than a few times. The last thing she remembered was his eyes, red in the glow of the fire, approaching her for a final, deep, hungry kiss. It was in the kiss, when the pressure between her legs became far too much to bear, and her raw throat kept moaning Reginald's name, that everything went white and disappeared.

Alice woke up in a blind sweat, her vision still flashing white and her head swimming from sitting up too quickly. She blinked it off a few times and tried to keep the shaking out of her limbs. The moisture between her legs was decidedly unbearable, but she didn't move a muscle until the leftover spasms of pleasure subsided. As she waited for them to pass, barely aware of what was happening, she focused her attention on not making any more of the noises she uttered in her dreams. It simply would not do.

The feeling passed, but the dream was vividly clear in her mind. She sat in bed for a long time, waiting for her breath to return to her, trying to convince herself that the dream was nothing other than her hormonal cycle. With a shameful sigh and a bite of her lower lip she sat up and stripped the bed of the sheets. Those would need to be washed.