Bending the Rules
Rating: PG
Summary: After all, what was a Hatter without a March Hare? It would be worse than a tea party without riddles.
Author's Notes: So there I was, minding my own business. So there I was, making higher quality clips to replace the ones in my vid. So there I was, watching the 'Hatter gets the snot zapped outa him by the Tweedle Brothers before pwning Mad March.' (I should note that to make the name fit, I have titled that clip 'hatter-cattleprods.') It came to me then, that there was probably some history there. And not just because of that scene. Also, I suck at accents. Especially March's. And Hatter's.
Disclaimer: I don't own these characters. I just wanted to play with them before putting them back in the toy box.

'It's just you an' me, Hatta. You an' me 'gainst the world.'

There were rules that they had, growing up. Simple rules that made a terrible life of scrounging for scraps just a little more bearable. They were best friends, bound by fate to meet each other lifetime after lifetime. After all, what was a Hatter without a March Hare? It would be worse than a tea party without riddles.

'There's rules we gots ta follow, Hatta. Never cry. Nuttin' in life is worth your cryin'.'

Growing up was tough in Wonderland, more so since the Queen came to power with her promises of instant gratification, quick fixes, mended hearts. All for the measly price of one's soul. What was a soul in Wonderland, anyway? Where did that get two kids struggling to survive on pockets picked? There was no affording even a taste of the emotion teas the palace turned out, and definitely not the habit they formed. So they were forced to watch as the people around them delved deeper into the madness of emotional instability, and more often than not, they would meet the bad end of a mark who had gone a bit too long without a drop of Compassion.

'Never choose a broad over family. A broad is a temporary pleasure. A quick fix when tea ain't there.'

March, a year older and a century wiser, had found a younger Hatter, who had just barely lost his first baby tooth, scrounging through a scrap heap for something to exchange for food. Hatter had never been sure if the older boy hadn't taken him in because of odd coincidence of their names, but as time passed it hadn't really mattered. March showed him how to survive, taught him how to exist in a world that didn't want them. There were rules to follow, about friends and family and broads. For the first few years, Hatter ignored the ones about the last, because the only 'broads' he saw reminded him too much of the woman who called herself 'mother,' embittered hags of hate painted in a thin veil of horrible sweet, all too eager to sell their children for tea.

'Everyone has hiddens. Nuttin's ever done for free. Do the same. Never do a favor unless there's somethin' in it for ya.'

Then he changed, as growth spurts and hormones replaced baby teeth and innocence. Girls became less like 'mother' and more like the teas neither could ever afford. For all the broken hearts, both his and the girls', March was there to assure him with promises of family bonds forged in grime.

'We ain't friends, Hatta. We ain't friends. We family. Real family. And real family don't hurt each other.'

Then things changed after March tried to pick the pocket of the wrong Noble and Hatter's life crashed down around his porkpie hat without even realizing it. Instead of an execution, the Queen decided to bend the two street rats to her will. March was trained to kill, his mind warped to fit the Queen's will, while Hatter was charged with getting the tea to the people. Life continued for the better as the people who kicked muddy water their way became desperate to please, and Hatter relished in his new status.

It wasn't until Hatter watched March kill a woman with no remorse, all for being a little too late on a payment a little too steep, that he wondered if maybe something wasn't wrong. It wasn't until after a woman tried to sell him her son for a quick fix of Ecstasy that he joined the resistance.

By the time a pretty girl showed up, drenched from head to toe and determined to once again send his life into a swirl of chaos and trust issues, Hatter had settled into a life of long ago recited rules and deception. March had been beheaded, but the death hadn't affected Hatter as it would have once a long time ago. His friend's mind had been so warped that there had been nothing left. Then he saw a gross facsimile, familiar walk and swagger topped with an ironic porcelain head. It was easy to forget that the creature that pursued them had once raised him, and the decision to kill the thing March had become should have been easy.

And then there was a familiar rhyme, flung out with the promise of death, and Hatter realized that March had never disappeared.

'Twinkle, twinkle, little bat, how I wonder what you at…'

Hatter didn't break the rules. They bended to his will.

He didn't cry, but mourned the loss of someone who probably never existed.

He didn't hurt his family, but killed a monster that threatened everything he had left.

He didn't choose a broad over family. He had none left, and Alice would have thrown him off of the Casino roof if she heard him call her that.

And while he may have done the world a favor by breaking one ugly piece of ceramics, the act of being alive afterward was a pretty heavy incentive in doing so.

Hatter stood above the crushed porcelain, wiping the blood from his lip before walking over to his hat. Flipping it on his head, he spared his opponent one last look before stalking off, muttering as he went.

"Up above the world you fly, like a tea tray in the sky."

AN: He looked rather quite crushed when March recited that poem. There has to be SOME sort of history there. And as I finish, it is two am and I have my first day of summer classes in the morning. Glee...