AN: Hello, so I just saw "Alice" and fell desperately in love with the Hatter (Alice was cool too). So, I just had to continue the adventure. Behold, a brand new fic. So, this is going to be a little complicated...the bold italic stuff is the "narrator" (you'll meed them eventually, so don't worry too much) Italic is thoughts or memories. And the rest is regular text. Anywho, so I own nothing but my own deviant imagination. So please, read , review, and enjoy!


There was always a price to the exchange, for the movement between their world and ours. The old Kings and their Queens had known the cost, but in the end had judged the risk to faint. Few ever found the crossroads of the worlds. The Hearts cared little either way, to obsessed with their own gratification and that which they forced on the rest of the world. They made foolish use of the roads. Caterpillar and his rebels saw only a glimpse of the cost in those years, the tiniest glimpse. When the Queen of Hearts fell and the Jack assumed the throne, they did what they could to heal the wounds they could see. Who could have known the cure to Wonderland's disease had wandered off to the Sea of Making-Believe?

*********************

"Ha-David, can you help me?" Alice Hamilton called out to the figure leaning against the opposite wall of the dojo. The man glanced up, his dark hair sticking up wildly without even a hat to mimic tameness. He grinned at her, straightening up before pulling uncomfortably at the sleeves of his karategi. For a second, a rush of warmth ran through Alice as she was reminded of the first time she saw him. As he crossed the hardwood floor of the dojo there was a puzzled demeanor to his movements which did little to mask the mischief glittering in his dark brown eyes.

"Stand there," Alice ordered, pointing to the space on the mat in front of her student, "I need a partner to throw."

"As you wish," Hatter replied, nodding to her before taking position where she pointed. Alice shook her head.

In the weeks following his departure from Wonderland (they never really discussed Wonderland's name for her world and neither could bring themselves to call it something like Oyster-land), Hatter had set to work learning all he could about Alice's world. What seemed to fascinate him most were films and television. There was nothing really like them in Wonderland. He told her once it was like looking through the Looking Glass and being able to see the world you were about to drop into. While she disagreed with him on that point (the Wonderland of her experience had been nothing like that of the childrens book much less the Disney cartoon) she continued to be amused by the sheer wonder he showed whenever he watched a new movie or tv show. She was so amused, in fact, she refrained from kicking his butt despite the million-and-one question he would ask while the movie or show played.

Two weeks ago, she had finally suggest they have an at-home date watching one of her favorite movies, "The Princess Bride". Hatter had taken to the film like milk to tea. After an endless round of questions and commentary following Indigo and Wesley's duel, Alice had finally tossed a handful of popcorn at him.

"Wot was that for?" Hatter exclaimed, his attention momentarily averted from the screen.

"You talk too much," Alice replied, frowning mockingly so he'd know she wasn't really angry with him, "Most people sit back and watch the movie quietly!"

She put emphasis on the last word, sitting back against his shoulder. Even without his jacket on, he still radiated heat. It felt wonderful through the thin material of her t-shirt.

"I'm not most people," he responded, taking his own handful of popcorn and promptly dumping it on her head. Alice let out a small yelp, pulling away from him and shooting him a glare.

"No," she agreed, brushing the bits of kernels away, "You're not. You're more annoying."

"Ey, now! That really hurt!" Hatter exclaimed, lifting his right hand to cover his chest. Alice smirked.

"Fine, I apologize," she paused before raising a finger to quickly add, "If you promise not to say another word the rest of the movie."

Hatter's jaw dropped momentarily as he tried to think of something to say. Glancing over at the screen, Alice watched a small glint of something pass through his eyes. Looking back at her, he nodded.

"As you wish," he said, settling back in the couch.

Since then, he had taken to periodically repeating the phrase anytime she asked him to do something. It was annoying as hell, but somehow he managed to do with such sincerity Alice couldn't help but smile at him. It had become their private joke.

Hatter, or David as he was known in the "real" world, stood in position. His expression darkened into one of concentration as he grabbed the front of Alice's karategi and she grabbed his. They had practiced and presented this exercise countless times in front of the dojo's various pupils. While Hatter was technically a beginner, Alice was aware of his fighting prowess from their experience in Wonderland. What she hadn't expected, however, was just how fluidly Hatter could move when he wanted to. In Wonderland, his fighting style was simply out-tussling, out-boxing, or out-running his opponent. It was simple, quick, dirty fighting that lacked the grace Alice had been trained to use. It surprised her, then, when he adapted beautifully to the fluid movements of Karate. It was almost as though he had been trained in something like it before.

She had asked him about it once and once had been enough. There were some parts of his past Hatter had been willing, sometimes even happy to share. He had told her about his childhood and how his parents fell in and out of favor with the Hearts. He told her how he had inherited his hat (which he later recovered from Wonderland) from his beloved uncle, who had been driven loony for unknown reasons. He told her about the first day he opened his tea shop, before teas were infused with the addicting emotions. He told her how he came to meet Dodo and the "daring escapades" he went through to feed the resistance. The only thing he never told her was what happened in the years between his parent's deaths and the tea shop. He was never exactly angry when she asked about anything pertaining to those years, but he would always stiffen and turn away from her when asked about them. Sometimes, he would mumble something she never could quite hear and then immediately change the subject to something else. Other times he would become overly cheerful, tipping her off that whatever memory she might have brought up upset him. During moments like that, she would simply hug him, allowing him to cling to her a little too tightly.

Lowering her hip to give herself the right angle, Alice used her remaining momentum to throw Hatter down to the mat. As she let go, she felt him shift slightly as he moved. Turning slightly, he angled his fall, allowing himself to roll out of it as he landed. Jumping to his feet, he brushed off his sleeve and looked up at her.

"Anythin' else?" he asked, bowing.

"No, that's it," she responded, turning to the student. She sensed rather then saw him wander back to the other side of the dojo, dismissed. The class had been one short today and since he attended more then some of her other pupils, Hatter had been left without a sparing partner.

Not that it's all bad, he thought to himself as he resumed his position on the wall. It gave him a chance to enjoy the real reason he ever came to the class, Alice. Though he wouldn't be caught dead calling the....activity useless (Alice's mastery of the art had saved their lives too many times for that), but he had found he truly disliked the formalities of the training. It was ordered, rule-bound, and he had enough of that in Wonderland. Besides, it was just boring and to often brought up memories of things best left forgotten. Yet he stuck around for Alice's sake. The boredom and hurt was worth seeing her glow with pride when a student mastered a new technique or to watch her nimbly move, defending herself from would-be attackers. Well worth it.

***********

The class ended soon after. Hatter remained still a moment, waiting for the others to clear out. He waited and watched as Alice walked to the window, grabbing a towel to dry her face off. As her face disappeared behind the blue fuzz, he walked up behind her, throwing his arms around her waist. The smell of sweat mingled without marring or diminishing the lavender scent of her hair. He tilted his head down to kiss the top of hers, the silky strands tickling his lips. He felt her stiffen in surprise before turning around to face him.

"What was that for?" she asked, wrapping her arms over his. He felt her palms press into the small of his back.

"Dunno," he replied, flashing her a grin, "Jus' felt like it, I guess."

She tilted her head to the side, her lips twisting in consideration. He felt her pull him closer. Her lips drew back in a sly smile.

"Is there anything else you feel like?" she asked, her tone holding the promise of all things hoped for. Her eyes seemed to sparkle. He glanced up at the ceiling for a moment, briefly considering the question.

"Pizza," he said, looking down again. Alice blinked, then burst into laughter. She dropped away from him, the moment gone but well worth the price. God, how he loved to hear her laugh.

"Pizza it is," she said, tossing him towel," Your place or mine?"

"Yer's I'd say," he replied, briefly running the cloth across his forehead. It was soft and surprisingly cool, "Yer mum's out isn't she?"

"Yeah," Alice replied, bending down to grab her duffel bag, "Vacationing with the girls. How did you know?"

"Must've told me," Hatter replied, throwing the towel over his shoulder. It was a lie, though. He had made sure Alice would never know about the tabs he kept on her and her mother. It wasn't something born of jealousy or possessiveness (though sometimes it seemed that way), but rather for their protection. If things had gone differently in Wonderland and he'd been forced to hide in Alice's world, there were still things that could extend their reach beyond the borders of the glass. Things that could and would hurt Alice and Carol if he wasn't weary of them.

"Yeah, I-I guess," replied Alice, frowning, "Well, I'm going to go change and then we can get pizza."

"Sounds good," Hatter replied smiling. He pulled up his own duffel bag over his shoulder as Alice leaned up to kiss his cheek.

"How did I get lucky enough to find you?" she asked, before walking off to the pseudo-locker room. Hatter watched her go, tightening his grip on the bag.

"You weren't the lucky one," he said to empty air.

**************

The smell of pepperoni and anchovy pizza was enough to make two stomach rumble in anticipation. The pair grinned at each other as the elevator dinged on the third floor of Alice's apartment building. Shuffling themselves, two bags, and a hot pizza box out of the small space, neither noticed the figure sitting midway down the hall.

It was only when the doors closed behind them that the figure made his appearance known with a soft, "Hello, Alice."

Alice jumped, looking up. Her heart began to pound suddenly as she recognized an all too familiar profile.

"Jack?"