It shocked him to discover just how huge the human race was.

"There's so many of ya, Alice!" was his exasperated cry when they found solace in a quiet tea shop, just after rush hour. She had taken a few days off work, claiming to need recovery time after the cover story had been told for why she had been found unconscious in a warehouse. While chasing Jack, she had fallen and hit her head, and the Doctors at the hospital insisted she needed rest. Honestly, she had never felt better, but it gave her an excuse to look after the man who had never seen a squirrel before, and to help him assimilate.

"Hey, you're part of the population now too, don't forget. And this is a city; it gets hectic when everyone's going to work. It's better in the countryside and stuff, it's just that cities are just places that people gather in."

"I don't just mean out there, Alice! This whole… world, it's full of you all, dashin' about, yer like rabbits! You think Wonderland's mad, it's this place that's crazy! You'd break the cities in Wonderland in an afternoon if you were all runnin' around like you do 'ere. And no wonder. All those emotions, flying about! It's madness!"

"Hey, you're hardly one to talk."

She had him there. Every day, he became more and more used to the emotions he felt. He had always felt something of them, thanks to the years he spent handling them, but they were becoming more and more honed every day, surrounded as he was by a whole population of Oysters. Not to mention the way he and Alice shared their emotions.

"Yeah, well, that's different. I mean, look at how many unwanted kids you lot have! That's what you get for being greedy with emotions! One night stands, affairs, all that. You over indulge yourselves. It's like eating buttered toast all your life, then being surprised when you get crumbs in the butter and the clockwork stops ticking!"

"What's clockwork got to do with crumbs and butter?" Alice asked, certain she'd heard something like that somewhere before.

"It's an old Wonderland saying," he said, waving her question away with a wave of his hand, "'goes back to the last Alice."

She resisted the urge to mention the last time they had had a conversation about saying that didn't make any sense*, knowing better than to interrupt him mid rant, and instead took a sip from her cup and leant her head on her hand, her elbow on the table as she listened to him.

"But that's beside the point! At least in Wonderland, when we have a relationship, it's usually the one that sticks forever more, like me and you. It's only when the Teas, and lust and all that, started selling that people got…why are you looking at me like that…?"

Alice had stopped listening at "like me and you", her elbow almost slipping off the table at how calmly he had just said that their relationship would last forever. But unlike other times, with other boys, with whom she had run away at the first sign of them wanting commitment, instead she found herself smiling in a way that only Hatter could make her smile, and Hatter completely forgot what he was meant to be complaining about.


: Wow, I feel like I'm spamming today, so many fics~ Hope you don't mind :/

*Reference to my other fic, "The Idiocy of Idioms"