Summary: Time drags on forever when you're separated from the person you want most.
Disclaimer: I own nothing. It all belongs to Lewis Carroll, Nick Willing, and the SyFy Channel.
Author's Note: Because RedCelt, who so enthusiastically reviewed the first two on TthFanfic, practically begged for a third installment. Follows up 'A Lucky Man' and 'Mad as a Hatter'. Split between Alice's pov and Hatter's.
She doesn't like to think that maybe it was all some crazy mixed up dream. She was only gone for an hour. One hour and her life's been turned upside down. Her father's dead. Jack was a prince and is now a king with a beautiful woman for him waiting in the wings. And Hatter…who never abandoned her, even if she let him down more than once…is in Wonderland and she is back in her world. Each minute since she's returned seems an eternity and she's slowly going out of her mind. Wonderland, Hatter, Jack…it all seems to be a dream except for one thing. She's in love. With Hatter. And it's so strong, so deeply rooted inside of her that she can't possibly have dreamt him. No one falls in love with a dream…do they?
It's been two days, twelve hours, and fifty-seven minutes since he jumped through the Looking Glass and into her world, only to find her unconscious at his feet. Somehow he managed to walk away from her, and inform the search party that he'd seen her run in the dilapidated building without drawing too much attention to himself. He wanted to stay around and make sure she was okay, but knew that it wouldn't be a good idea. So he took out the directions and keys that Jack had managed to slip into his pocket during that talk at the castle and made his way to Jack's old apartment. With the money he found there and a bare bones understanding of how to use it, written out by the King, he managed to buy some new clothes and enough food to get by until he sees her again.
Time drags slowly for him until the minute he's standing in front of her door, hesitant to knock. Will she be happy to see him? Does she feel the same way? Does she even remember him, Wonderland, or anything that happened? Was it all just a dream to her? He turns away just once before taking a deep breath, turning back around, and knocking before he can talk himself out of it again.
Her mom answers the door and he reassured by the smile on her face. 'Carol', as she tells him to call her, is very nice and he brushes a hand through his hair once as she yells for Alice to come out and meet him.
He can practically hear her sigh from down the hall and he tenses slightly as she walks down the hall toward him, her eyes on the ground. When she looks up and cries his name his heart skips. Suddenly she's in his arms, the scent of vanilla wrapping around him like an invisible cloak. Nothing has ever felt so good as her arms around him and the words she whispers give him nothing but hope. He can feel her joy as though it were a tangible thing and he pulls back slightly just long enough to look into her eyes and know that his next move is more than welcome. The first touch of their lips is perfect, like coming home after a long time gone, and he knows that by her side is where he'll stay.
"I missed you," he whispers softly before drawing her into the kiss once more. They both know that explanations will be necessary and that her mother is going to have tons of questions but that can wait. He's already moved the Looking Glass into what is now his apartment and maybe one-day they'll actually visit and tell her mother the truth. The only thing that matters to him now is that he's finally, finally got her in his arms and that maybe, just maybe, she loves him too.