Cheshire opened her eyes and stretched. She hadn't slept that well in years! Even the night before, when she'd tasted the PEACE, she hadn't slept so well. She got up and stepped out of her hut, blinking a little in the sunlight.
Hatter was walking by but stopped when he saw her.
"Oh good," he said walking over to her, "You're awake. I've been wanting to talk with you.
Cheshire smiled. "No good morning?" She asked.
Hatter smiled back. "Actually," he said, "It's good afternoon."
Cheshire stared at him. "But it was barely night when I fell asleep!" she said, "How could I have slept that long!"
"You must have been more tired then you thought!" Hatter laughed.
"You could have woke me." Cheshire said.
"Ha! The last time I can remember trying to wake you up, you tried to break my nose!" Hatter laughed.
Cheshire laughed too. "I don't remember that." She said.
"You wouldn't!" Hatter said, "You were half asleep and I think you were 12."
"Anyways!" Cheshire said, "You said you wanted to talk to me? What about?"
Hatter's expression became serous, "When we were at the Casino." He said.
"You mean the Evaporating thing?" Cheshire asked.
"Well, yes," Hatter said though something else seemed to be bothering him, "that did bother me a bit, but, what I wanted to talk about first was… the flirting."
Cheshire couldn't help smirking. "Bother you?" she asked.
"Well," Hatter said, "seeing as throughout your teen years you never showed the slightest interest in romance, yes it did gave me a bit of a shock."
Cheshire sighed. "Right." She said, "Well, you might as well sit down, it's a long story. I started doing it for a distraction 6 years ago."
"When the Queen took power." Hatter said.
"Yeah, The Resistance was going to steal some of the teas from a tea shop when it was closed. The plan was that Duchess was going to create a distraction with the shop keeper and Jack, Charlie and I, would sneak in and steal the emotions.
"We were about to leave when we realized that Duchess was the former queen of Wonderland and would be recognized. The plan was flawless, otherwise, though so I… well… I was the only one left that looked alright in a mini-skirt." Cheshire laughed a little though her mood was dark.
"Well," Hatter said, grinning at her, "I can imagine Jack might."
Cheshire burst out laughing. It wasn't really that funny, but she hadn't really laughed in 12, and years once she started she just couldn't stop.
When she finally regained control over herself, Cheshire continued: "Anyways, Duchess showed me how to be… well… flirty. We went to the tea shop and the distraction went just about the same way it went back at the Casino, only then I wasn't quite as good."
Cheshire gave a little shudder. "Honestly! You have no idea how repulsive some of these men are!" she said putting her arms around her legs and resting her chin on her knees, "And I have to talk to them like that! It's discussing! And dangerous! I'm literally flirting with disaster!"
Cheshire was the only person that could look absolutely miserable with a smile on her face. Hatter put a hand on her shoulder in sympathy and she immediately felt better.
"So this Evaporating thing." He said, "How exactly does it work?"
Cheshire brightly happed. "That," she said, "Is a topic that is much more complex and yet much more fun! What do you want to know about it? Just to narrow down the explanation."
"If you can do that why didn't you just Evaporate out of the Casino?" Hatter asked.
"Ah, a perfect question!" Cheshire said, "I didn't because I couldn't! It would deify every impossibility there is in Evaporating!"
"There are impossibilities?" Hatter asked.
"Of course!" Cheshire said, "The first impossibility is that I can only Evaporate as far as I can see, and I can't Evaporate through a door or a window unless it's open. Do you understand?"
Before he could answer she continued: "It's like every molecule in your body separates into atoms (in fact that's exactly what it's like) and is blown to where you want to be, and, obviously, you can't blow through a solid wall."
"Ok," Hatter said, nodding, "that seems right."
"Good. The second impossibility is I can't Evaporate when I'm tied to something, which doesn't even make sense to me so I can hardly explain it to you. So-"
"Wait, wait." Hatter said, "How did you find out it was impossible?"
Cheshire looked away from him. "I don't want to talk about it."
"Because if I answer your question it'll probably change the subject, so I'll give you an answer after I finish with this topic, yeah?"
"Fine." Hatter said, wondering what her answer would be, "What other impossibilities are there?"
"Well, there's only one more that's really important but it's not really impossible, just something that's not a very smart thing to do." Cheshire said, "You see, I was really very weak when I was in there, and Evaporating requires a lot of energy that I didn't have. You know how tiring it is to run a long way, not stopping to breathe? Take that feeling and double it twice and that's how much energy it takes to Evaporate. But it really depends on how far you're going."
"Hmm." Hatter said. It made perfect sense but at the same time it made absolutely no sense at all.
"Do you understand?" Cheshire asked.
"I think so." Hatter said.
"Good." Cheshire smiled.
"Now are you going to answer my question?" Hatter asked.
Cheshire sighed and seemed to think about it. "Can we just say that Jack can be really immature?" she said.
Hatter looked at her. "You're saying that Jack tied you up and when you tried to Evaporate you realized you couldn't?" He said.
"Yep," Cheshire said, "That's it."
Hatter raised and eyebrow. "Nice story, but how did you really find out?"
"Come on!" Cheshire said, "That's what happened!"
Hatter looked at her. "Jack might be an idiot, but that's just not something he'd do."
"Why do you want to know so badly?" Cheshire demanded.
"Because you're avoiding it so much!" said Hatter, "Now just tell me!"
Cheshire looked at him. "You sure you want to know?"
"Yes." Hatter said.
"You absolutely positive?"
"Are you sure that you're absolutely positive?"
"Alright, fine!" Cheshire said, and then quickly said, "Caterpillar told me."
Hatter looked at her. "What do you mean?" he said, "You never knew Caterpillar did you?"
"Yes," Cheshire said, "I did. I knew him since I was 8. He found me and taught me how to Evaporate. He knew my family, you see. When every one was saying that he was dead, I was the only one that knew he was alive. He didn't kill himself, he just Evaporated as far as he could."
"Why didn't you just tell me?" Hatter asked.
"Well," Said Cheshire, "I thought you'd react a lot differently."
Hatter looked at her. "How'd you think I'd react?"
"Get angry." Cheshire said, "Yell at me maybe."
"Well, it would have certainly made my life easier if I had known the leader of the Resistance all those years." He said, "Why didn't you tell me sooner?"
"Dodo would have killed me." Cheshire said. "And, to be completely honest, no one in the Resistance liked you, let alone trusted you, apart from Doormie and me."
"But how come-" Hatter began.
"No." Cheshire said putting her finger over Hatter's mouth, "I'm not going to answer any more questions about Caterpillar or the Resistance. So if you ask me another I'm leaving."
Hatter pulled her finger from his mouth. "Fine." He said, "So can any one learn how to Evaporate?"
"No." Cheshire said, "Some people are just born with the capability to do it, it has to do with brain power, but other people have to eat a kind mushroom to stimulate the cells that separate the atoms though Caterpillar never told me what kind of mushroom... and he died years ago so I can't ask him..." Cheshire's smile turned sad.
"So you were born with the ability?" Hatter said trying to take her mind off unpleasant thoughts.
"Yep." Cheshire said, "I was running away from Suits when Caterpillar found me. I was running past the Hospital of Dreams and had a wish that I could get to the other side of the sidewalk and some how I accidently Evaporated just outside the door to the Hospital. Caterpillar brought me inside and started talking to me and telling me who he was and what I could do. Then when we were done talking he told me how to reconnect my arm outside to the rest of my body, and-"
"Hold on a minute." Hatter interrupted, "What do you mean reconnect your arm to the rest of your body?"
"When I Evaporated I didn't move my whole body." She explained, "I left my arm behind. Really hurt! If you can imagine having your arm cut off and still being able to feel it you should have a good idea of how it felt."
"So you can separate parts of your body?" Hatter asked, "That's… interesting…"
"It might sound weird but it's helpful sometimes." Cheshire said, "I can leave my feet so that I'm safely on the ground and stand on air."
"Like at the Casino." Hatter said.
"Exactly," Cheshire confirmed, "and, if I leave, say, the tip of one of my fingers outside and the door closes, I can still get out by Reconnecting."
"I see." Hatter said.
Cheshire was enjoying this conversation. It was just like old times. Her and Hatter. Talking one on one.
Then Cheshire heard her least favorite sound in the worlds: Alice's voice.
"Hatter?" it called, "Where are you?"
Alice appeared in the doorway. "Oh there you are!" She said, then seeing Cheshire added: "Ah, the zombie lives!"
This statement (that, obviously from Alice's tone of voice, was meant to insult her) completely confused poor Cheshire. "Zombie?" she repeated, "What's a zombie?"
"You don't know what a zombie is?" Alice laughed.
"It's a term for when a dead body comes back to life in a way." Hatter told her, "Something from Alice's world."
Cheshire's eyes grew wide. "There are dead people walking around the oyster world?!" she said.
"No," Hatter said, calming her down, "no it's just a myth."
"And people say Wonderland is weird…" Cheshire shook her head.
"Anyways, Hatter," Alice said, "I was wondering if you wanted to go for a walk?"
"Actually," Cheshire said before he could answer, "I was hopping we could practice fighting today, Hatter." She gave him her most persuasive smile. "You really need it. Going a whole year without fighting…" she made a tisk-tisk nose.
Hatter looked at Alice then at Cheshire and she got an idea. "You're welcome to come, Alice. But I think Duchess is going to want your help with something. And you've had Hatter all to yourself for a year and I haven't seen him in 12." Cheshire gave Alice a joking smile, "don't be so selfish!" she laughed a little.
Alice sighed. "Alright fine." She said, "See you later, Hatter." She kissed him on the cheek and he took her head in his hands and kissed her mouth. Cheshire's stomach clenched and she resisted the urge to push Alice away from Hatter.
"See you, love." Hatter said when they drew apart.
"Alright, lover boy." Cheshire took Hatter by the arm began to pull him to the place where she and the others practiced, "Let's get you your skills back!"
Finally! A new chapter! Hope you're as excited about it as I am. Coming up in the next chapter: Cheshire and Hatter practice fighting and an all too familiar face reappears…