It never quite sank into Alice's mind before now. Hatter dropped the habit of saying 'you Oysters' fairly quickly. She remembered him using 'you humans' once or twice in Wonderland, and a few more times once he'd arrived in her world. But those instances were few, and never really made an impact on her. Mostly, she noticed how very normal Hatter could be, with his very male and understandable tendencies. Sure, he was sometimes a bit possessive of her, and strangely, his right arm remained as powerful in New York as it was in Wonderland, but for the most part, the concept just didn't occur to her.
It wasn't until they discovered a subject in which they were utterly different that Alice realized it.
Hatter really was alien. He was Not Human. He was from Wonderland.
She'd been feeling a touch run down the last few days. Nothing serious, just a little tired. Then one morning, she woke up with an upset stomach. She didn't go so far as to throw up, but she certainly didn't think she could handle one of Hatter's infamous breakfast fry ups.
That's when it occurred to her that she'd skipped her last period. She'd been in the middle of finals, so she'd just assumed it was stress related. But skip plus tired plus nausea equaled a need to have a chat with her live-in boyfriend, and a need to make a purchase this afternoon at a local pharmacy.
She'd lingered so long in the bathroom that Hatter stuck his head around the door. "Alright, love?" he asked.
"Yeah, I'll be right out." He left her, and soon she joined him in the kitchen. She ignored the plate of breakfast to lift the cup of herbal tea he'd made for her.
"Hatter," she finally began. "There's something we need to talk about."
"What is it?" He seemed perfectly calm and unaware, eating easily.
"There's a chance… I might be…. pregnant."
Alice wasn't sure how she thought he'd react – shock, surprise, concern, dismay, maybe even joy, who knew? But Hatter's reaction was utterly unexpected.
He froze a moment. Then he slammed his teacup down with fury. "Alice!" he roared. "What the hell? Who is he? How could you!" He stood abruptly, his chair falling to the floor behind him. He clenched his fists, shaking with anger. "It better not be Jack, I'll kill him!" An instant later, he shifted to grief stricken. "I though you loved me. You know I love you! I thought it was just you and me, together. How could you go behind my back like this? I was being careful, I was being responsible. If you wanted a baby, you could have said something to me! Alice… I wanted to be the father of your children! Why didn't you ask ME?" His eyes shined with tears.
Floored, Alice couldn't react to all of it. "Hatter, I haven't so much as hugged another man since you came through the Looking Glass! And where do YOU get off saying you're the responsible one? We've been having hot monkey sex almost every day since I moved in with you, and not once have you paused to put on a condom! I am the one taking a birth control pill every day, and those are not one hundred percent effective, you know!"
In another lightening change of emotion, Hatter gaped at her, before grabbing her hand. "You have to take a pill to control it? Alice, why didn't you tell me you had a condition?"
"A what?" She yanked her hand from his. "What are you talking about?" He went to speak, but she held up her hand. "Wait. Wait." Obediently, he shut his mouth and waited while she processed everything that had been said.
Forcing herself to remain calm, she asked, "Hatter, how do people prevent pregnancies in Wonderland?"
He looked utterly confused. "By deciding not to get pregnant, of course."
She blinked. "You mean… you can just control it?"
"Yeah… you mean you can't?" His expression paled in shock. He righted his chair and flopped down into it. "No wonder why there are so damned many of you! Are you telling me you're fertile all the time?"
"Yes, Hatter. I could get pregnant almost any time, if I don't prevent it with the pill. And like I said, even on the pill, there's still a chance." She cocked her head. "So… all this time, you've been what? Deliberately not…." she waved a hand, unable to express it coherently.
Equally bewildered, Hatter nodded. "Of course I wouldn't just try to get you pregnant. That would be wrong. I thought… I assumed you weren't wanting to either; I had no idea you could get pregnant at any time! Do men really do that to women here? Just force them to have babies? What if there's a food shortage? What if they're too young?"
"There's always a chance of getting pregnant when people have sex, in this world. Unless you do something to prevent it. And yeah, sometimes it happens when the two aren't ready, or aren't prepared. Happens all the time."
The face of horror and dismay Hatter made at that would have been funny for any other subject.
"So..." Alice leaned forward, curious. "You can just… decided if your ejaculation is fertile or not?"
"Wow. How do you do that?"
Hatter shrugged. "How do you keep from pissing your pants?"
He grinned at her indignation. "I don't know the mechanics of it, Alice. You just learn to control it when you're a kid."
She thought about it, trying to imagine. For Wonderland women it probably involves more, but she had to ask. "Does it feel different? I mean… when you come meaning to, you know…"
For once, confident Hatter flushed bright red. "Yeah. A little." At her inquiring expression, he hurried on. "I don't have any offspring wandering about, alright? But you gotta learn so you know and so you…" He made a vague but familiar gesture with his right hand as Alice giggled a little.
"Does it feel better?"
His eyes widened at her question. "No." He clearly wasn't going to get more detailed than that.
He sipped his tea to regain his composure as she studied him. "When I said I thought I might be pregnant, why did you really get so mad?" she asked quietly.
Hatter sighed. "I figured, since you didn't talk to me about having a baby, you went to someone else. I thought–"
"You thought I must have cheated on you."
He nodded. "I'm sorry, Alice. I should have trusted you wouldn't do that. But I didn't know you weren't able to control your pregnancies. I just assumed we were both not ready yet, and we'd talk about it when the time came."
Part of Alice's mind was awhirl with ideas about fertility testing and other scientific possibilities. But most of it was focused on the sheepish expression on her boyfriend's face.
"It's okay," she told him, instantly forgiving him for his mistaken assumption. Then she smiled. "You said… you said you wanted to be the father of my children."
"Of course. I love you, you love me, we're going to spend the rest of our lives together, any kids you have ought to be mine."
Alice smirked, despite how touched she was by his devotion. "We might want to get married first."
"Alright. What's that?"
Now Alice was the flabbergasted one. "Married? You know, where two people agree to stand up in front of their friends and family and declare themselves husband and wife."
"Didn't we already do that?"
"When you moved in. You said you loved me and you agreed to move in with me."
"Are you telling me that cohabitation is the same as marriage in Wonderland?" Alice yelped. She got married and didn't notice? Hatter was nodding his head, so it must be so. "Good grief, Hatter, do you really think we're married?"
"I – I suppose. I mean, I'm yours, you're mine, and we live together." A wicked smirk crossed his face. "We have copious amounts of really good sex, and we share everything. Does that qualify as being married?"
"There's usually a ceremony and rings and signing a paper," she told him faintly.
"Oh. You humans and your pieces of paper. Well, if you want rings we can certainly go out and get some." He glanced down at the rings he already wore all the time. "It's not like I've got anyone this side of the Glass to invite to witness a ceremony. Maybe, if we plan it right, Charlie can come visit for it."
"Whoa, whoa, whoa! We are not getting married!" At the look on his face, Alice amended, "Yet. My mother would have a cow if we got married so soon." A flicker of confusion crossed Hatter's face at the word 'soon', which clearly indicated yet another cultural difference between Earth and Wonderland. "Let's get back to the main point. I felt ill this morning, and suspected I might be pregnant. You are quite sure that can't be the case, because you haven't been intending to get me pregnant." He nodded, indicating they were at last on the same page. "Now, given that there are obviously some Key Physiological Differences between people of Earth and people of Wonderland, I think it's probably a good idea if I get a test kit and make sure."
"Sounds reasonable. Though I think you'll find you're not."
"That would be good, as I am definitely not ready to be a mother."
Hatter's smile was a little lopsided. "You'd be a great one, though."
She smiled back at him. Hatter could be completely sweet when he wanted to be. Though surprised to discover that by Wonderland standards, she was already a married woman, she still had a frisson of shock running through her spine to realize how utterly different Hatter really was.
He stood and pulled her to her feet so he could gather her close in a tight embrace. "We're alright then, yeah?" he asked.
"Yes." She kissed him deeply, relieved on a couple of points. To know that by Hatter's standards, he was her husband, meant that he'd never leave her, he was thoroughly committed to her. To know he actually liked the idea of kids pleased her too, because though she knew she wasn't ready yet, she rather liked the idea as well.
But most importantly, she knew she had to remember that Hatter wasn't from Earth, and so she couldn't assume anything about him.
By the time Alice got home that night, she had a scratchy throat and a stuffy nose. The pregnancy test said negative, but the thermometer said 'flu', so she settled in on the couch with a blanket, tissues, hot tea, and the solicitous attentions of her handsome, adoring, utterly alien boyfriend.