this oneshot is just a little bit of fluffy fun that fell off the back of my multichap wagon. fanfiction-dot-net has no sense of whimsy, so you're just gonna have to imagine that the title of this has an actual heart shape instead of "HEARTS." enjoy!
Hatter takes off his hat and wrings it in frustration. Truly wrings his hat, then plops it back on his head.
"I can't believe you just asked me that." He takes a deep, calming breath. "Do you regret moving out of your mother's place?"
"No, I wanted to live with you," she replies, matter-of-factly.
Hatter turns and waves his hands between the two of them, gesturing her toward the obvious. "See? And I just wanted to be with my wonderful, insecure Alice."
"But I see my mom all the time. You haven't been back home once."
They walk along in silence. "Fine," he sighs, finally. "You want the drop-dead-honest truth?"
Alice looks at him hesitantly. Now that he's offering, she's not sure she does want to hear it.
"My legs are a waste back in Wonderland. I moved here because I wanted to be a Rockette, and I missed my audition on my very first day here. So yes, I regret it terribly."
This time Alice rolls her eyes.
"What? Do you want me to say I regret leaving there and coming to New York? Cuz I won't. I love it here."
She peeked at him out of the corner of her eye. "Yeah?"
"This place is brilliant! All the stores, and - oh Alice - all of the hat stores? The tea shops and the pubs and the not having to fear for your life… and the subway? The SUBWAY, Alice."
"An afternoon of fun for only $2.25!" he exclaims when Alice first asks why he likes underground transportation so much.
He'll ride the trains for hours, getting lost just so he can find his way home again. He's fascinated with the maps and doesn't ask directions so he can learn it completely. He meets people; in a city that's so fond of keeping to itself, he wants to talk to everyone and hear all their stories, and somehow (the accent? the endless charm?) people seem more than happy to oblige him. He'll ride to the end of the line for a good conversation. It quickly becomes obvious to Alice just how suited he was to acquiring provisions for the Resistance. His instincts about people are usually right, and the subtle nuances of human interaction come easy. He's good at connecting with people.
And then he comes home to tell her the most random stories.
I saw a pickpocket get pickpocketed today. The second guy put the wallet back in the owner's jacket and no one saw a thing.
There was this violin player, some famous guy I recognized from a billboard, and he was just playing there with a hat out, and everyone was walking right on by. People will pay hundreds of bucks to see him in a concert hall, but he's right there in the middle of their commute and only the kids want to stop and listen.
Someone proposed on the train today. The guy decorated the whole damn car and passed out "WILL - YOU - MARRY - ME" signs to the people sitting there.
One day he comes home with a 30-day unlimited pass.
"Where'd you get that?"
"Little machine outside the gate at 8th."
"No, I mean how did you pay for it? A month pass is like ninety bucks."
She looks puzzled for a moment, then her eyes go wide. "You've been performing on the subway?"
"There's this bloke called George who plays his guitar on the L-train platform with a tambourine on his foot, and I started doing hat tricks and little improvisational dance moves with him. People seemed to like it, because they started throwing more money in his guitar case, and George made me take some."
One Thursday, he's having a lovely conversation with a woman he talks to frequently. They flirt like always, she touches his arm and he laughs, and as she's getting up to disembark, he stands right along with her. "It's my stop too," he says in reply to her puzzled look.
"Your stop?" she says, raising an eyebrow. "Since when do you have 'a stop'? Admit it, you're trying to follow me home so you can have your way with me."
"My girlfriend takes a train home from work at this station. I wanted to see her."
The woman smirks and slips her arm through his, "Your girlfriend, eh? Let's go then. I want to meet my competition."
Alice has heard him talk about Janice before, about what great stories she has, how much traveling she's done and how Alice would just love her. He seems pretty smitten himself by her bubbling personality. Each time he mentions her, Alice has to quash a little spark of jealousy. She doesn't have a bubbling personality.
She trusts Hatter, though. She really does, more than any other man she's been with. He's followed her into a whole other world and she's never felt his passion for her ebb. Besides, certainly he wouldn't be telling her all about this woman if he were having an affair.
Alice is standing on the platform, waiting for her train when a voice speaks from close behind her, "Would you like a cup of tea?" and then she's being swung around into a kiss.
Alice tries to speak, but he won't stop kissing her, so she just mumbles against his lips, "You use that damn line one more time and we're gonna have words."
When Hatter finally releases her, he grins widely and says, "Alice, love, this is Janice!"
Her heart beats just a touch faster, she's about to meet the much-ballyhooed Janice. And then Hatter moves aside to reveal a small, white-haired woman whose wrinkles betray a long lifetime of smiling.
"So you're Alice! I hear so much about you, it's so lovely to finally meet you!"
Alice relaxes into a wide smile and shakes her hand. The beads on the woman's emerald dress rattle a little.
Janice leans over to the man at her right and stage whispers, "You're right."
"He's right about what?" Alice asks.
"Come on, dear, what does anyone ever mean when they say that?"
It takes about ten seconds of conversation for Alice to realize why Hatter so enjoys Janice's company. She's feisty, she's blunt, and she's a big old flirt, just like him.
"In my day…"
"In your day," Hatter rolled his eyes. "When did it cease to be your day?"
"Shush, I'm telling a story."
Alice smiles at their back and forth while Janice weaves tales for her.
"You keep an eye on this one, Alice, or I'm going to snake him off to a romantic little villa in Sicily."
Alice grins, "I might just join you."
"Ooh, kinky!" the old woman replies.
Later, walking home with their arms linked together, Hatter says, "You thought Janice was gonna be some blonde bombshell, didn't you?"
"No," she replies unconvincingly.
He doesn't say anything, but pulls her closer.
A few steps later she says, "I always pictured a redhead."
"Love, this city is full of gorgeous women. All the countless cities in both our worlds are, but none of those places and none of those women will do. All I want is you."
Alice looked up into his deep brown eyes. "That was the cheesiest thing I've ever heard."
"I know," he says with a grin. "I've been working on it all day."
She sighs, "Okay, I'm ready to admit I'm being unreasonable."
"Thank you." Hatter pulls her hand to his face and kisses it. "Besides, if I get really sick of this place, and can't stand to live in it for another day, it's obvious what to do."
"We fight and argue and bicker about it, and I eventually win, and we move to New Jersey."
"Don't even joke about that."