Theme: Alice in Wonderland
Rating: G to M
1. Guster – Dear Valentine (4:34)
"I have a recurring dream."
"Yes, Alice," Margaret replied, plying her embroidery needle.
"That is nice dear," her mother agreed absentmindedly.
"There are creatures and people and…talking egg men."
Margaret looked over her embroidery with an arched brow. "I believe I have the silliest sister in all of London."
"Alice is mad," her father informed them.
Alice grinned. She was quite proud of that fact. Mad as a hatter, she was.
"When I go there, I am dressed neatly and properly and I have tea."
"That doesn't sound terribly mad," her mother blandly countered.
"It is a mad tea party, Mother," Alice insisted. "With riddles and rhymes and nonsense. You wouldn't like it one bit." Upon further reflection that made Alice like it all the better.
"And then you come home," her father said with a warm smile.
"Yes, Father. It isn't a place for staying, as much as you might wish it to be, even if it is a mad, crazy, wonderful idea."
2. Mychael Danna – A Story of Boy Meets Girl (1:35)
This is a story of boy meets girl.
Tarrant Hightopp, hatter to the White Queen, killed Time waiting for Alice Kingsleigh to return to Underland. He believed that he would never truly be happy until the day he would once again see the Alice. This was due to the prophecies of the Oraculum and several mad teas, courtroom trials, and lion-unicorn fights he had shared with the Alice when she was a little girl child.
The blonde, Alice Kingsleigh, did not believe herself to be capable of slaying. She did not even believe her Wonderland to be a real place. She believed it all to be a dream. She had felt very little since the passing of her father.
Tarrant met the Alice on Griblig day. He knew almost immediately that she was The Alice.
This is a story of boy meets girl, but you should know upfront this is not a love story.
3. Finger Eleven – Paralyzer (3:28)
Tarrant holds the shaking teacup to his lips to drink, fervently wishing that the tea will soothe his nerves. There is no tea to drink, however, for he carefully poured the tea into the saucer—not the cup—just a moment earlier. Never mind, he thinks, he will drink the imaginary tea. He will do anything so as not to Imagine.
Alice's knee bumps his under the table.
"That's not helping, Alice," he lisps, scolding her.
She frowns slightly. She does not understand his meaning, but then, he is not understood so often that it rarely bothers him. It does not bother him the way the press of her hand against his jacketed arm does.
"How can I help?" she asks, patting his arm.
The teacup jangles loose from his fingers and clatters to the table. It would have sloshed its contents if there were contents to slosh.
"Your quick thinking in keeping tea in saucers and not cups has saved me from getting wet," Alice says with a smile.
"I shouldn't mind you wet," he replies, the words slipping out before he can lock them inside.
Alice pauses, quiet for a moment, and he attempts to prepare a speech to beg forgiveness for his transgression, a quite difficult task given that his mind is also composing songs in honor of Wet Alices, but his speechifying and balladizing is cut short.
"I never much cared for baths as a child, but I don't mind them anymore." Alice's face is serene, hiding her feelings in a way his cannot.
"Shall I draw you one?" he asks, tilting his head and quirking a brow. This transgression will take more than speechifying to rectify.
Alice pushes back her chair, standing and smoothing her skirts with calm reserve. "Yes, please."
4. Simon & Garfunkel – Bookends (1:21)
Alice sits quietly. The cherry blossoms forever shivering and shedding their petals about her, coating her shoulders with their pink white petals. She draws her hands—hands that she no longer recognizes as her own, weathered, wrinkled, and well-worn—over the top of the hat that is just as tattered as she must seem to others now. Well loved. That is what the hat is. That is what she has been.
It is beginning to feel like very long ago, she reflects, raising the hat to her lips.
Bookends. They had been a pair.
5. She & Him – I Should Have Known Better (3:39)
Hatter was very good at deceiving himself. He had nearly made a career of it once he was no longer Royal Hatter to the White Queen. Self-deception could come in handy. It could be dangerous.
He had lulled himself into thinking, as he swayed forward, that this would be a Once Thing. Not a Twice Thing or—Underland forbid—an All the Time Thing. He would kiss Alice Once. She could forgive a Once. That was such a small thing, and Alice had endless sympathy and mercy and kindness to share with him, her dearest friend.
Her lips were soft and warm and his heart began to pound in his chest like Thackery with a pot and ladle. He screwed his eyes shut tightly, waiting for Alice to respond. If she responded…
She did. Her lips pressed back, moving slightly against his. He shuttered, breathing against her lips.
This was not a Once, lying, dishonest Hatter.
He slipped his arms around her back, pulling her towards him. If he broke the kiss, he was going to say he loved her. He was going to ask her to be his. It would be the First of Many, not a Once.
6. Maroon 5 – Sunday Morning (4:06)
Alice sits on the extra chair Tarrant has set up for her in his workroom, so that she might watch him as he works, when she is not otherwise occupied with the duties of being Champion of Underland. She sits wrapped in a white sheet that covers nothing but her nakedness.
Pins pursed between his lips, he approaches her with a dress maker's tape. "Stand up, love," he speaks around the pins.
She stands and turns slowly as his fingers and the tape measure trace her outline, measuring her for the dress that he insists she is need of, measuring her for the dress that was such a pressing concern that they have abandoned their bedtime activities—for just a moment, he promised. He always thinks that she is in need of something. When he means himself, he is usually right.
He attempts with a waggle of his brows to peek underneath the sheet she has dragged with her from the bedroom and earns a laugh from her. Might as well, she thinks, as she allows the sheet to flutter to the ground.
Tarrant had no need for measurements—he knew her form too well—until very recently. Now her body changes so quickly that his measurements and the gowns that result from them cannot keep up. He presses his palm to the roundness of her belly and beams.
Alice cups his face, whispering, "Come to my arms, my beamish boy."
7. Regina Spektor – Hero (3:32)
Hatter jerks as the chair clatters to the ground. He is accustomed to his own fits; he and they are quite cozy companions, but he is not accustomed to the fits of others. He is not accustomed to Alice behaving in such a manner: no, not at all. But she screams, she rages, and he does not know what to say or do. So, he stands and watches.
"You told me that it was all about me," she yells, her face gone red.
"Why…yes, yes, I did," he lisps, wondering if she has yelled herself out yet and he can approach her.
"Wouldn't that make me the hero?" she asks, laughing a little madly.
He swallows and nods, 'Yes.'
"This sort of thing doesn't happen to heroes," she sobs, crumpling on the floor.
He takes two steps and when she does not throw anything, he chances another two steps and he is at her side. He crouches down.
He is hurting too, but the Darkness and Badness must be kept at bay. Alice must be allowed to scream and kick, and he must be there to anchor her to sanity, as she has done for him countless times.
"And now I suppose you want to save me," Alice whispers. "I don't need to be saved," she spits bitterly.
"Of course not," he lisps, testing first one hand on her shoulder and then another.
"You didn't tell me this could happen," she says, sounding as if her chest is about to burst open with tears.
Tarrant hates to see Alice cry, but tears might be preferable to what has preceded them.
"I never thought it would," he apologizes, as he reaches one hand up to stroke her hair. "I didn't see it coming, Alice. I never see the worst things in my life coming. It's a terrible defect."
She leans into his touch, tears rolling silently down her face.
Taking her in his arms and rocking her, he begins to whisper to her, "It's all right," so quickly that it loses all meaning, a smear of sounds.
"I'm the hero of this story," she speaks into his chest, as if by asserting such a fact, she will wake up tomorrow and she and he will not have lost that which was desired and hoped for.
Tomorrow he will destroy his workroom. He will tear apart every hat. He will break furniture. He will smash windows. But that will have to wait for tomorrow.
"It's all right…"
8. Dashboard Confessional – Hands Down (3:07)
"Shh…" she urges him, trying to silence his Outlandish, which trips helplessly off his tongue as he feels her legs graze against his. "You must be quiet or they'll find us," she reminds him, as he runs his hand over her knickered thigh, lifting her leg higher so that he can find a home against her here.
He hopes the tree does not mind terribly much. It is Alice. Who would mind having an Alice pressed against them?
She is right of course: the party is only a snail's day's march away. But her touch has him twisting, coiling, and he cannot manage to silence himself.
Her hand brushes the front of his kilt and he chokes against her throat, "That might kill me." He does not recognize the sound of his voice. It is deep and thick, but free of his brogue. This is a voice he thinks he remembers from the past, when there were lasses, but not an Alice in the bunch.
"Shall I stop?" she asks, sounding amused and knowing no doubt what his answer will be.
His heart is hers. She can fill it or break it entirely, but he will not tell her that tonight. Tonight he simply must sample these kisses more meticulously. Tonight he must see how she feels. Tonight he must be felt. He buries his face in her neck, where he can smell her Aliceness, where he can smell the blondeness, as she finds what her fingers have been searching for beneath his kilt.
"At ane mair," he groans a little too loudly. 
Alice laughs at his disobedience. Silly lass, her laughter is as likely to get them discovered as his Outlandish, but that can be easily dealt with. He silences her with a kiss.
9. Guster – Careful (3:42)
He had said this before. So had she. Always the same. Alice was very important. Alice had questions to answer. Alice had people that would miss her.
She always had to go back to Above, where there were people who lied to her. They told her that she was needed there more than she was needed with him. They told her that she was mad and her trips underground were nothing but dreams. Those were lies, but ones that were hard to argue over, because each time she came back, she and he had to begin again back at the start.
He knew her, but Tarrant was just a memory to her, nothing but a dream, a lovely dream, and she would miss him when she woke up, but…
She still had to go.
He would try, try, TRY—he would do anything to keep her with him, away from those that would hurt her. Perhaps this time he would be enough.
10. Incubus – 11am (4:14)
Alice lies abed. She has been lying abed for hours. If her mother had traveled abroad with her, she would be chiding her for her laziness. Who stays in bed until eleven in the morning?
But her bones are weary and her spirit more so. She opened her eyes this morning at the sound of the harbor bell and sawa blue butterfly beat at the window. Too bright for this hot harsh climate where nothing should flourish. Too bright for this world altogether.
Another world. Underland. Hatter.
It all crashed back onto her, overcome by the old fear, buried up to her neck in it. She gave up so much when she left, but then again, she is safer here among the sane and she is safer when she has not ventured her heart. But then again, you are always alone, Alice. You will always be alone here. There will come a day when adventure Above will lose its charm and you will wonder why you chose this over him.
The days that begin on this train of thought are lost days. They are days when she is weighed down with indecision and regret.
"Hatter," she whispers aloud, as if speaking his name might conjure him to her bedchamber.
Perhaps that day has already come. Perhaps it came long ago.
There is a knock at the door, and something thrills through her spine to her soul. Could it be you?
 at ane mair – at the breaking point, at the end of one's tether,