Summary: It had taken him all of four seconds to realize that he had loved Alice. Four quick seconds between the time she drank the Jabberwocky blood and disappeared in front of his very eyes.

AN: The song is "Letters From the Sky" by Civil Twilight. My friend sent it to me, and it is amazing. It just screamed Tarrant to me when I listened to if the 286th time, though, and I ended up writing this. In other news, I hope to have the next chapter of "A Beating Heart" up by Thursday night ET, and then after that I'm going to focus on some neglected fics from other fandoms for a while. Hopefully things will move along faster now that I'm graduated, though. :) Enjoy!

Disclaimer: If I owned it, I wouldn't even be here in the first place.


One of these days the sky's gonna break and everything will escape…

and I'll know…

Tarrant walked through the once-desolate Tulgey wood, and gazed at each blossoming tree as he passed. Since the Red Queen's fall, everything had regained its life. Underland had been brought back to its color and vibrancy. Been brought back through the Jabberwocky's death, Iracebeth's banishment, and the White Queen's enthronement. Through the thick canopy of purple leaves overhead, he could see the yellow sky spanning as far as one could ever attempt to see. It was a beautiful sight to see; such beauty and magic all in one place.

One of these days the mountains are gonna fall into the sea…

and they'll know…

As he walked, his thoughts wandered. They took their usual turn – what style would look best on Lady Rallison, whom he had been commissioned to hat; what his two closest friends, Mallymkun and Thackery, were doing at the moment; who had won the Caucus Race from the day before. Next, however, they made their way down a path that they seldom dared travel. Alice.

That you and I were made for this

I was made to taste your kiss

We were made to never fall away

The reason that the trees bloomed. The reason that the fish sang and the flowers gossiped. The reason that time ticked by again. The reason that tea was sweet. The reason that cats disappeared and mice fought in battles. The reason that rabbits twitched and fainted. The reason that sadness engulfed his heart each passing day, hour, minute, second. The reason that hats and parties no longer held any once of the pleasure that they once had for him. The reason that his heart broke every time he saw the color blue. The reason that he dared no longer sleep for fear of dreaming. The reason that he lived and loved.

Never fall away

It had taken him all of four seconds to realize that he had loved Alice. Four quick seconds between the time she drank the Jabberwocky blood and disappeared in front of his very eyes. Ever since the fourth second, he had known that he had lost a little piece of him; no – more than just a little. A piece larger than – Downal wit bludeh behg hid – Iracebeth's head. A piece more jagged than Chessur's grin. A piece closer to him than Tweedledee to Tweedledum. His heart.

One of these days letters are gonna fall from the sky…

telling us all to go free…

As he passed through the forest, he crossed through clearings and groves, just taking the time to admire his surroundings. Admiring life around him. Even in the darkest parts of the Tulgey Woods, there was light. The new light of hope that had started our merely as a pinprick in the pitch when Alice had first fallen down the rabbit hole, but had burned and brightened into a fire that blinded even the foulest evil. Because of her, all the creatures of Underland could rest at night and dream and smile and hope and laugh and be free to be whatever they wanted to be without fear or doubt or worry or anger or sadness.

But until that day I'll find a way to let everybody know that you're coming back…

you're coming back for me…

Despite himself and the hurt in his very core, Tarrant smiled as he came to one specific clearing. He grinned with every ounce of his being, so much so that anyone who saw him might think that he was finally gone mad. Mad…er than he already was, anyway.

He stepped out into the bright orange light, closed his eyes, and breathed in the soft scent of new life. He reopened his eyes, and swept his gaze over the burned shells of what could have been houses in the past. Most were overgrown by vines that had emerged from the lush grass that now covered the ground, but they were still there. His eyes fell on a tree-stump in the middle of the clearing, and saw that a young sapling had just begun to split and rise up from the broken wood of its father. New life from the fallen.

'Cause even though you left me here I have nothing left to fear…

She would be back; she had said she would. She would come back for him – back to him. She would finish what needed to be done in her world, and she would fall back down the rabbit hole. He would be waiting for her, but he wouldn't wait in fear. He would wait in hope and love; warm with the knowledge that she would return. He still felt empty, but he knew that she would keep her promise.

These are only walls that hold me here…

hold me here…

hold me here…

Tarrant stood in the place where – what seemed like so many years ago – everyone he had ever loved or cared about even a shred had burned in the fires of the devil before his eyes. Everything he had even known in life had crumbled into ruin, and he had been cast aside like a soiled cleaning rag too worn and torn to ever be salvaged for further use. He had found solace in the ever-present madness in his soul, and embraced it. That is, until she came. She had come and shown the Mad Hatter kindness and love, even in her won times of weakness.

One day soon I'll hold you like the sun holds the moon

So he would wait for her, he had decided. He had come to that decision right on the battlefield, during those four seconds when he realized how he felt. But then, as he resumed his walk through the woods and passed the skeleton of his uncle's house, his grandmother's garden, and his cousin's shop, he came to a second decision. He would wait for Alice as he had always said he would, and he would move on in life. He would find joy in his passion again, and find happiness in his life again. She would be back, and she wouldn't want him to last another while wallowing in self pity. The past was past, and there was nothing left that could change it.

And we will hear those planes overhead…

and we won't have to be scared…

Tarrant left the clearing with a warm soul and a soft smile on his face. His heart was still jagged, but the numbing sensation of temporary sanity blinded the pain. He was going to be okay from now on, because he had finally learned how to let go. To face the past without fear or hate, and remember the good times. And to face the future with open arms.

We won't have to be…

we won't have to be scared…

He walked through the woods, an air about him that hadn't been present in such a time. When the blue cat appeared above his head and gripped his hat, he merely clutched the brim for a moment before easing his work-stained fingers from the fabric. Chessur had been startled – worried, even – but Tarrant had let him have his moment. The hat was a link to the past. A link the fear-filled past that he had faced. Now it was just a hat. His hat, nonetheless – and his favorite at that – but a hat all the same.

When he broke through the clearing to the tea tables, he smiled and sang with his friends. He drank tea to his stomach's content. He tossed scones and spoons. He laughed and rambled and joked.

You'll come back for me

Because things would be okay. Because Alice would come back.

You'll come back for me

Because a better day was dawning far off on the horizon, but he knew the best part of tomorrow was waiting for the sunrise.

You're coming back to me