Sorry this took so long. I'm finally feeling like writing again but it was rough going for a bit there. If you don't remember what going on, all you have to do is read the end of last chapter. That should get you caught up. This is kind of a short chapter so to make up for it I've put a bonus fic at the end. Thanks for reading.
To say Megan was angry was an understatement. The minute they walked into her shop, she'd been hostile to Hatter. He tried to talk to her, explain to her what happened with Lettie and James, but she wouldn't hear it. She wouldn't even touch the letter when he offered it to her.
"She's not here! I don't need to hear what happened from you, I need my daughter." Megan pulled Alice into a fitting room and closed the curtain behind them.
"She wrote you a letter. She wanted you to know what happened and why she couldn't come back." He was met with only silence from the room. "If you'd just read her letter…"
The curtain slid open and Megan stormed out, a half dressed Alice staring at her as she left. The woman's hand met Hatter's chest with a hearty shove and he stumbled backwards. Growing up, he'd never once feared Megan. Now, the petite woman was staring him down like a Jabberwock chasing its' pray.
"A letter is not my child. A letter can't explain anything to me and the ink on that paper is cold and meaningless." She continued advancing on him forcing him to backpedal.
" A letter doesn't mend my heart or help me to stop worrying about my only little baby…" Tears welled in her eyes and she angrily wiped them away. "She has no right to send me a letter when all I want is her. "
She opened the door to the shop and pushed him out on the steps. "I don't want that letter and I don't want to see you anymore, David. You don't get to show up here offering hope and promises and then deliver none of them. You go back to that city of yours and tell my daughter to come home!"
Megan slammed the door before he had a chance to say a word. He spent the rest of Alice's fitting on the steps locked out of the shop. It hurt that Megan was so angry with him and Lettie. Megan had always been a quiet, sweet woman. To see her so bitter and angry, he couldn't help but feel responsible for that.
Honestly, he could see no way to fix this. If Lettie had made the trip back with him and Alice, then she'd always have the chance to stay behind. Now, even if she did want to come home, she'd have no way of getting there. He could think of no way she could feasibly return home without her identity as a White Sider being reveled. There was still the very real fact that being found out could cost her life.
Behind him the door opened. Alice stepped out and hurried down the steps dressed in only a knee length slip. "Give me the letter."
"Has she agreed to read it?" Maybe Alice had managed a change of heart in Megan.
"Just hurry up and give me the letter." Alice shook her hand impatiently at him. He handed her the letter and watched as she disappeared back inside the shop.
He wondered what was going on inside but knew better than to chance finding out. If Alice had made any headway with Megan, he didn't want to interrupt the two of them. He'd just have to wait it out and hope Alice could talk some reason into her.
He sighed and looked back out into the street. Two men were standing there, staring at the doorway Alice had just come through.
"What are you looking at?" he snapped.
The men lowered their gaze and hurried on their way.
Waiting was hard. Hours passed before Alice emerged from the shop, black garment bag hung over her arm.
"Well?" he asked.
"She's still angry, but she did read the letter." She sat down next to him on the steps, her arm looping through his. "Hatter, you know none of this is your fault, right? Megan's not mad at you and she doesn't blame you. She just wants her daughter back."
He may not be completely to blame for all that had happened, but the responsibility for fixing things was his. "What am I to do? Even if Lettie wants to come back, how am I to get her here?"
She got up and pulled him to his feet. "Come on, We'll think of something."
The sun was setting as they made their way up the winding path to his parent's house. Kenny sat on the front steps, cigarette in hand and several butts littered in a nearby ashtray.
"How long could it possibly take for a single dress fitting?" he said, crushing the remains of his cigarette.
Alice just shrugged her shoulders and smiled. "What can I say? Women are complicated creatures. "
Kenny returned her smile with one of his own. "I'll bet they had a hard time finding a dress to match your beauty."
Hatter just shook his head as Alice teased his brother about flirting. They were laughing but Hatter didn't miss the nervous glances Kenny kept giving him. Kenny wouldn't be sitting outside chain smoking unless there was a reason. "Alice, you mind giving me and Kenny a minute?"
"Sure. I'll just go take care of this." She said, gesturing to the garment bag.
He watched as Alice disappeared around the back of the house before he looked down at his brother. "Have you been waiting out here for me to come back?"
"Yeah. Look, Davie, I've got something to tell ya and I need ya to promise you'll hear me out."
That wasn't a good sign. The last time Kenny had asked him to 'hear him out' it had been because he'd 'accidently' killed his pet mora mouse with a crochet mallet. "All right, I'll listen."
"Great." There was a long pause before he continued. "What I want to tell ya is that I'm coming with you to the Red Side."
That was enough. He had no idea why Kenny would want to travel to the Red Side and he didn't care either. Things were already too complicated without Kenny mucking things up. "No! No way, not happening!"
Kenny got to his feet jabbing a finger into his brother's chest. "You promised you'd listen!"
"Yeah I did and I'm done. " Hatter shoved Kenny back and started towards the house.
"You haven't even heard what I have to say yet." Kenny yelled after him.
Hatter didn't intend to carry on a pointless conversation. Whatever reason Kenny had for wanting to follow him was unimportant. "I don't care, the suggestion alone is madness!"
"Look, you're leaving and Lettie needs…"
That got his attention. "No! Are you mad? After everything you've done to her, do you really think she wants to see you? She hates you."
Kenny stood up straight, his eyes taking on a hard defiant gleam. "You don't know that. She's angry with me because of James but she cared for me before that. Besides, it's not in Lettie's nature to hate, you know that."
Every word Kenny spoke only made Hatter angrier. This was the same fight they had fifteen years ago and all those old feelings were beginning to surface again. "You think she's going to forgive you? Hell, I hardly forgive you. You were an ass! If you cared about her or her feelings, you would have listened to her when she said she didn't want to marry you."
Kenny threw his hands up. "You know, I really thought that you being a grown man now and in love with a woman of your own would change your view of things a bit. It hurts knowing that after all these years you still can't see things from my point of view."
"No, I'll never understand how forcing someone to be with you is a good thing. If you really loved her, and I don't believe you did, you would have put her happiness above your own."
This was what he got for telling the truth. Days ago when Kenny had asked about how Lettie was doing, he'd done it so casually that there didn't seem reason to lie. Now he wished he had. If he would have just said that she and James were fine, Kenny would have dropped the subject and they wouldn't be fighting now.
Kenny clenched his jaw in frustration. "I was to just let her go then? I wasn't allowed to fight for her? I should have just let her run off with some man she'd only known a few weeks? Honestly, that's what you expected of me?"
"It didn't matter how long she knew him, she loved him." Hatter shouted.
"I loved her!" Kenny shouted back. He turned and walked a few paces, his fist clenched at his side. "I don't care if you believe me or not but I did and still do love Lettie. I never stopped loving her, not for a second. If I have even the smallest chance of gaining her favor, I want to try."
Silence fell between them. Hatter was normally good at arguing his point but at the moment he was at a loss for words. What was he to say?
"You're still siding with James." Kenny's shoulders slumped in defeat. "Tell me, was he a better brother than me?"
Hatter shook his head. "Don't. You can't ask me to make a comparison."
Kenny sat back down on the steps defeated. "You would rather see her end up alone or, Queen forbid it, with some heartless Red Sider than you would see her be with me."
That wasn't entirely true. Still, James wasn't here to defend his wife so Hatter felt the need to do so. "I don't want her to be alone, but she won't end up with you. You're likely to just make a fool of yourself."
"I still love her." Kenny gave him a weak smile. "I've spent half my life making a fool of myself, why should I stop now."
"Are you two ok? I could hear you all the way upstairs." Alice walked up cautiously and stood between the two of them.
"We're fine," said Kenny. "Davie here was just telling me how to live my life, again."
"Alice, ignore him." Hatter didn't want her involved in this, mostly because she was likely to be swayed into siding with Kenny.
He tried to pull her inside but she wouldn't budge. "Kenny?"
His brother gave Alice a look of pure pity. "I'd like to go with you to the Red side and try to get Lettie back. Even if she doesn't want anything to do with me, I just… want to see her one last time."
Kenny was playing her like a fiddle. If he'd been pulling this pity crap she'd see right through it but for some reason she was letting Kenny getting away with it. "I don't see any reason why you couldn't come back with us."
Hatter pulled on her arm to get her attention. "How do you propose we get him in the Scarab? We can't just tuck him into a bag and pass him off as luggage."
"Hatter, you're not looking at this the right way. We were trying to find a way to get Lettie back here. This is perfect. Kenny can just bring her home."
Kenny got up and slung his arm around her shoulder. "Yeah, Hatter, listen to your woman she has a good point."
Inwardly, he winced as his brother used his nickname. "Don't call me that."
He looked back and forth between Alice and his brother. He was outnumbered at this point and there was no argument he could make that would change either of their minds. "Fine, you two scheme up a way to get Kenny across Sides without all of us losing our heads. I want no part of this."
He walked away, ignoring Kenny's calls to come back. He couldn't believe that just this morning he was complaining about things going too well. If he had known the complications the rest of his day was going to bring, he would have enjoyed the peace.
While waiting for my writers block to go away on this story, I did write a new story called In Session. It's a short multi-chapter story and is complete if you want to check it out.
Wow, lots of author's notes today. This is a short scene that takes place before Lettie and James ran away. Hopefully it gives a bit of prospective on Kenny's feelings.
"Please, Kenneth, you need to understand!"
Kenny looked down at Lettie. Her face was stained with tears and her eyes were red from crying. He hated seeing her like this but there was no way he was going give in to her. What she was asking was impossible.
"What do you want me to understand? That you're in love with someone you hardly even know? That you would rather marry a complete stranger than someone you've known your whole life? You're promised to me, Lettie. Doesn't that mean anything to you?"
"I didn't choose to fall in love with him, it just happened." She sat down in a chair and buried her face in her hands. "I didn't mean for this to happen but it did. I can't marry you."
He knelt down before her and took her hands in his. "It's not real. What you feel for him is just a passing fancy. In time you'll forget about him."
She shook her head and more tears fell. "It's not."
"Yes, it is. I love you, you know that. I can provide for you and take care of you. James has nothing, his family has nothing." Kenny got to his feet and put his jacket on.
He felt Lettie's hands press against his back as she leaned into him. "Please, Kenneth, I'm going to marry James and I'll do what I have to for it to happen. Tell your father to let me out of the contract."
She sounded so desperate then and he couldn't help but turn and hold her. "I won't. This is what's best for both of us. One day you'll thank me for not letting you go." He kissed her forehead and was pleased she didn't flinch away. "You're my Lettie, you always will be."
He turned to leave but stopped when her hand slipped into his. She looked up at him, her eyes clearer now. "Goodbye, Kenneth."
"I'll see you tomorrow, Lettie."
Kenny left that day thinking that maybe things weren't as hopeless as he thought. She'd care for him again once they were married and James was out of the picture.
That night, David threw a fit over the marriage. It was a stab in the back that his little brother was siding with James over him. He locked himself in his room and was thankful when his father and brother finally stopped yelling.
It would be three more days of this. Three more days of arguing with his brother and trying to keep Lettie from seeing James; trying as hard as he could to keep his whole life from falling apart. He just needed to get past this and then everything would be fine.
He woke the next morning to the sound of his mother crying. David was gone. A few hours later he learned that Lettie and James were both missing as well. They ran off, the three of them.
That day, Kenny's world fell apart and he'd spend the rest of his life trying to put it back together.