Author's Notes:

… I don't even know how my plot bunnies came up with this. But they did. I suppose they were inspired when I had been mindlessly doodling on my notes, during one of lectures, and I had ended up drawing Alice (from Country of Hearts) having a cup of tea with two Batman villains: Jervis Tetch and Dr. Crane.

It's been awhile since I've played Batman: Arkham Asylum, but it's been even longer since I've read the manga books of Alice in the Country of Hearts. So I apologize in advance if I have any information of Alice in the Country of Hearts off. I tried to maintain their characterization down, but Julius I fear is… off. Then again he's only appearing in the first half of the chapter. After that, it's just Alice and the villains of Gotham.

Full Summary: "Arkham... City?" Alice thought she had it all figured out: she fell asleep, dreamt of a strange land known as The Country of Hearts, and finally woke up, or so she thought. Now, she must struggle to (re)awaken from this new, more Hellish nightmare-especially because of the inmates, who seem to have taken an interest in her. Either for bad or for worse…

Disclaimer: Batman: Arkham Asylum & Heart no Kuni no Alice (also known as Alice in the Country of Hearts) and their characters do not belong to me; they belong to their respected owners. I only own the plot of this crazy story and any minor OCs that may be required to appear (e.g.: thugs, security guards, doctors, Tyger members, etcetera), nothing else.


Coming Undone
Down, Down, Down


"Leaving without saying farewell to everyone?"

Alice Liddell spun on her heel, not expecting upon being caught in the act. And by him of all people to have caught her, although it was a huge relief to see it wasn't Peter White—the traitorous rabbit—but still. She had wanted to slip away without anyone making a fuss over her decision, knowing that it wouldn't end well. Besides, this was a dream and as her dream she should have complete control over it. But she didn't.

Doesn't.

And it was all entirely frustrating. Because she was falling in love with the people of this place, even with their strange sense of life and that it was OK to kill when it wasn't and… and…!—she wished she didn't feel this tight constriction in her chest as she simply tried to breath.

"I… err…" Alice wrung her hands and looked at anything but him.

He didn't answer. Instead being patient with her and giving her the time she needed.

"It's just… why… what I mean is…" She bit her bottom lip and finally turned her eyes to him. "I have to go home." It came out as a whisper, a broken one, because secretly deep down she didn't want to leave this strange world with its strange laws and everyone. Her cheeks flushed and soon she found her vision to be blurry.

Julius stiffened and tried not to shift from one foot to the other. He never was good with crying girls. And the last time Alice had befallen to tears he had nearly suffocated her from the awkward hug he had pulled her into. A hiccup came from her and Julius rubbed the side of his head as he tried to think of something comforting to say. But it was always hard because never in his entire life had he had to deal with this type of situation before. It was only once she came along that he found himself in predicaments like this.

"I… I'm—s-sorry." She choked out and he felt a sweat drop on the back of his head.

"There really isn't anything you need to apologize for, Alice." He answered in effort to help her keep calm. Why were the waterworks happening anyway? Julius folded his arms over his chest and tried to think of something else to add. But alas his mind was blank.

"But… but I just feel terrible. I know everyone won't be too happy with me not saying goodbye, but I don't know if I can handle it. Especially with Peter…" Alice grumbled and wiped at her cheeks where a few tears had managed to escape. Even if she dared try to say goodbye to Boris, Elliot, the twins, Ace, there was a small chance that Peter would discover and seek her out and force her to stay. And no matter how much she wanted to she knew she couldn't. "I-I… I don't know what to do…"

"…" Julius eyes darted away from her for the briefest of seconds before back to her. "Alice."

Her body trembled as it suppressed unwanted sobs. After a minute, she lifted her gaze to him and sniffed. A lone tear trailed down her cheek and he strode over to her and—awkwardly, but not as bad as the first time—pulled her into a hug. He felt her tense and gave a small squeeze in hopes that it was one of comfort. The muscles in her shoulders relaxed after that which let him breathe an inaudible sigh of relief. It thankfully was.

"No one will be angry with you." He closed his eyes and wondered if his words rung true. Not even he believed it, but for her sake he hoped he did. All the card holders and faceless—well, a few didn't—cared deeply for her and loved her, in a sense. His arms gave another small, tight squeeze in hopes it would add effect to his words. If anything, most of them would feel dismayed. But never could any of them be angry with her.

Well… with the exception of Blood Dupre.

Ace had told him a few times the man had ended up putting the girl in distraught who he heard from Boris who in turn heard it from the twins and the March Hare. But from what he heard from the Knight's lips was that it was because she was here. And therefore he knew it would only please the mafia boss upon hearing her departure. Julius dismissed the memory and thoughts as he focused the moment that was happening now. "Besides, knowing White, he'll always see if you want to return for another visit."

Truthfully, he didn't know about that. But he wasn't going to tell her that obviously.

She pulled back and lifted her head up to his, smiling a small smile. "Thank you for everything, Julius."

He nodded and started to remove his arms from her until she latched herself onto him, squeezing his midriff and burying her face into the fabric of his shirt. He stood like that, arms lifted up and completely caught off guard. Then again, he sighed, he really should have known that was coming. Returning her hug with a small squeeze, Julius waited for a few minutes before finally coughing into his hand.

Quickly Alice detangled herself from him and a scarlet blush rose to her cheeks. "Sorry…"

"No, it's quite alright." He answered far too fast.

Flashing him another smile, Alice uncomfortably started to back away and towards the door. As the doorknob hit the middle of her back, she halfway turned and placed her hand atop it with her eyes still glued to his. Neither said a thing as they remained like that for the longest time before Alice cleared her throat and nodded at him.

"Thanks again for everything." She seemed unsure about the next sentence. "Take care of yourself, Julius. And please make sure to tell everyone to do the same. After all… when I come back for a visit, I am expecting to see them all again."

Julius nodded and let the corners of his mouth lift, "As the same goes for you, Alice."

Alice smiled a little more and waved before slipping out the door and descending the stairs of the tower. She didn't dare look back in case she found herself unable to leave. If she didn't do this now… she wasn't sure if she ever would. Her eyes moisten again and she willed the tears away as she finally reached the bottom, hurrying out and surveying the grounds before dashing off towards the forest. If luck was on her side she wouldn't run into Ace, returning from collecting more clocks, or Peter whose interest was to pronounce his love to her for the millionth time. Her feet carried her farther and farther into the trees and her lungs burned with each step.

Time seemed nonexistent as she continued to run, never once looking back, and keeping her eyes firmly ahead. She needed to make absolutely sure that when she stopped it was nowhere close to where others would be. Having to say goodbye to Julius had been hard and she couldn't handle having to say another one. Hopefully, Julius was right about what he said. But even then her heart twisted painfully in her chest.

Stay focused, Alice. You need to get home. She clenched her eyes shut and snapped them open. The voice that had whispered in her head was right after all; she needed to get back home. She had loved ones—well, her one caring sister really—who cared deeply for her too and they were probably sick with worry—at least, Lorina was.

Finally, when her legs could no longer carry her, Alice leaned against a tree for support. Sweat tickled down her brow, the back of her neck, and her lungs screamed. She took in shaky breaths and, with her back pressed against the trunk of the tree, sunk to the ground.

With a trembling hand she reached into her pocket and pulled out the vial that held the key to home. Inhaling deeply, she uncorked the tube and wet her lips. This was it.

It was now or never.

Closing her eyes, she lifted the vial to her lips and swallowed the substances held within. As if a rope was tied around her waist she felt like she had been yanked forward and screwed her eyes shut in an attempt to keep from feeling sick. Colors of sorts flashed and then a blinding light. The ground beneath her seemed to crumble and she felt as if she was falling into an endless pit. Her mind kept chanting 'home, home, home' and she felt sick and then her limbs felt like they were being pulled on from different sides before finally—

It stopped.

Her mind buzzed and she felt herself slipping into unconsciousness.

However, she downright refused to be pulled into the deep subconscious of her mind and fought to open her eyes to discover she was in a dim lit area. Her fingers curled and she felt cold marble beneath her fingertips and suddenly realized that there was a man squatting in front of her with a look of pure admiration. Her back was pressed against something cold, like stone, and she gave a small wince.

Not from pain, but subconsciously knowing she was somewhere else.

What that 'somewhere else' was she had no idea.

Where exactly was she?

"Alice, my dear, you've finally arrived!"


12 Months Later, After the Joker Takeover of Arkham Asylum…

Jervis Tetch, also known as the Mad Hatter, grinned proudly to himself; he had been handed his belongs—minus his brain control bands, but if his plan went correctly he would soon obtain more before leaving—and couldn't help but look forward to being released from the constraints of the gruesome Asylum and into a city where the criminals—Arkham Asylum inmates and Blackgate prisoners—ruled all.

Err, that is… it was a section of the city that had been paid in full, walls built around that owned land, by the once Warden—Major, now—for the criminals, thugs, and so forth to uphold their own society with one rule: "Escape and the Punishment is Death". Not too add the fact that guarding the perimeter of Arkham City was the group that was an enemy to them all, even to Batman.

Tyger.

They would make it ten times worse and one hundred times unbearable.

Footsteps halting outside his cell door told him that it was time; he sighed. The Asylum may've been a dull and gloomy place, definitely not his cup of tea, but even with having to put up with the probing doctors and terrible cafeteria food, it was still like a second home. Plus, no matter how terrible the guards made for a simple, needed conversation they weren't as bad as the new ones who'd be replacing them. But he did find the idea of not having sessions with agitating doctors to be a blessing and also knowing he would no longer have to attend those painfully, slow group therapy sessions to be tenfold. He hated those even more; Joker always tended to crack jokes of him whiles the Riddler, too, enjoyed taunting him.

The only lone person that he was able to call friend was Jonathan Crane.

Yet he wouldn't be able to converse with the man any longer—hadn't, is more correct. There had been no sight of Crane since the Joker's takeover of the Asylum during that festival night and, if it weren't for the fact that no one had—has—been able to locate Killer Croc either, then the Hatter would wave it off and know the man had made his escape. However, that was not the case; Crane had told him—after he had accidently nearly spilt the recently brewing chemicals—that he planned on sending every person in Gotham to their knees as he released the fear toxins into the sewer. And it certainly didn't take a genius to figure out what happens to one who enters the Croc's lair.

Or did it?

Whatever the case, his gut instinct was telling him that a crane had been a crocodile's midnight snack.

"OK, time to go, Tetch." Bill—one of the few lucky guards that had been able to survive Joker's takeover—said and motioned for him to come out as his partner stood, ready, in case he tried to make a break for it.

Releasing a disappointed sigh, Jervis Tetch stood from his cot and walked out of his cell; he took a quick glance because it was quite strange to know he would never see it—and the rest of this place—again. He knew if Crane was still about he would be hearing an earful of how stupid he was being, but at the moment he couldn't find himself to care. He would answer with that this place was better than where they were being taken to.

As the guards escorted him down the hall, Tetch placed a thoughtful look on his face before turning his head slightly to Bill and asking, "Would it be possible to make a quick stop in the Botanical Gardens?"

"No."

A mock look of being offended. "But I would like to see it once more before hauled off to this new home. Besides, it's close to being the forest I imagined in Wonderland." He restrained himself from flinching at the lie. Never would that sorry excuse of a garden have the honor of being called part of Wonderland. "Besides… I think I left my tea set in there. It wasn't in this duffle bag I had received with the rest of my belongings. And I would very much like to have it with me. Teatime is the most important event of the day and should always be paid attention to."

David, the second guard escorting him, groaned.

"We're not stopping by the gardens, Tetch. We have strict orders to take you to the bus for transportation. That's it." Bill answered after casting a glance at his friend. This, in return, made Tetch stop in his tracks.

"But I need my tea set! A Hatter must have teatime!" He spurred with outrage. Did these fools truly not understand the importance of teatime? Or the great significance it had with the Mad Hatter? Then again, Tetch's eyes flickered from one to the other; these two didn't look like the 'reading type'. "It's part of his—my—need! Never has the Hatter skipped out on teatime. It's unheard of! And if you two Jabberwocky are unable to comprehend what I have just said, then allow me to put it in simpler words," He sucked in a breath full of air and started to open his mouth again, ready to give them an earful that they would be able to process in those tiny brains of theirs.

That is, if it had it not been for David, swearing darkly under his breath.

"If he starts speaking that gibberish nonsense—"

"'Gibberish'…!" Tetch felt his face grow red with rage. "How dare you insult such masterpiece as 'gibberish'—you… you… Bandersnatch…!"

"—that's it!—"

"Prentiss, calm down."

"But—"

Bill shook his head in warning. It wouldn't do any of them good yelling absurdities at one another. And he really didn't want to receive any lectures from the higher-ups, especially from Cash. Mentally pinching the bride of his nose he let out a huff. If he didn't want a PO'd David along with a lunatic spurring nonsensical insults at them then the answer was a simple one that would only result in a small, minor headache.

"If we do go to the gardens, you swear to keep your mouth shut to there and the buses?"

"… Oh, you've got to be kidding me…"

However David's remark was ignored seeing as how, to prove he would, Tetch gave a grave nod. Bill rolled his eyes upward before jerking his head to go back the direction they had been coming from, in order to reach the East side of the island where the Botanical Gardens were. Immediately they watch the Hatter take the lead and again David muttered something incoherent, but didn't refuse. Therefore it could be assumed that he didn't see a problem so long as the man's mouth remained shut.

As they entered into the Botanical Gardens with ease Tetch placed a thoughtful forefinger on his chin. Bill and David watched—one with boredom, the other with impatience—as he tapped his chin a few times. They both exchanged looks when Jervis began muttering angrily to himself, staring down the entryway and maintaining a steady pace. David glanced at his watch every few seconds.

Pausing in his search, Tetch turned his head towards him and made a movement that clearly asked for permission to speak. When Bill gave a slight nod of the head, Tetch took his chance. "Would it be any trouble if you two search this area while I check the next room? I'm not positive where I last held teatime here."

"No." David said with a flat tone.

Bill agreed.

"If this is about you thinking I'm trying to escape, it's not." Jervis Tetch sniffed. "You know that's," He pointed towards the door they had recently came through, "is the only entrance and exit in this place. And you two can search out here while I search in there. I swear in the good name of Wonderland that I shall behave."

Again the guards exchanged looks.

"No."

"Fine, it doesn't matter to me if this will take longer…"

A groan and swearword came from David.

Tetch swirled back around to start scanning the area though he knew exactly what he was searching for was—

"David, you search the place here. I'll search in the next room with Tetch."

"… This has got to be a horrible joke… just, got to be…"

They paid him no mind as they left him alone in the entryway and entering into the next room. Bill shook his head at himself, mentally scolding and trying to understand why he was even doing this. It wasn't his duty to help an inmate—a criminally insane inmate—to find a tea set. Instantly his senses went on alert incase he did try anything. Although the Mad Hatter wasn't as insane as the crazy Joker or a psychopath like Zsasz there was no denying that he could be a potential threat.

"I'll go search up there while you search down here." Tetch mindlessly hummed as he started towards the step leaving a baffled Bill near the doors. He paused once reaching the top and listened to hear if there was any protest or footsteps following after.

There wasn't.

Tetch let the sly smirk cross his face as he slipped through another door that would lead to the generator room. But that wasn't where he was headed, no. He closed the door softly and turned towards the teapot and teacups that were neatly placed out and chuckled softly. He reached out towards the place, behind the display, where he had hidden the extra mind control chips all those months ago. He felt around the soft soil for a few seconds before frowning.

They weren't there.

He tried a little to the left and a little to the right.

Still, there was nothing but soil and leaves.

"Bandersnatch! I know I hid them somewhere here…!" Tetch scowled deeply and dusted his hands off. The tea set was neatly set and untouched which meant the chips had to be around somewhere. He lifted the teapot up and removed the lid; inspecting it carefully in hopes he had placed the chips within. No such luck, unfortunately for him. He placed it back down and started to scan the wall once again. Time was of the essence and he could feel beads of sweat on the back of his neck. The two idiots wouldn't remain out in the entryway forever. "This is absurd! I know I put them somewhere around here."

Had he? He paused and thought back. He specifically made certain to hide the chips somewhere where he would be able to locate them with ease. And he decided to pick a place where a plaque, dedicated to people of utter importance, where there was only two…

Tetch snapped his fingers.

He placed them by the plaque. Of course, he remembered now, if anyone had decided to move his tea set they may've been able to notice the small glint of the chips and he couldn't afford that. He breathed a sigh of relief and headed straight down the corridor to where the bench was and grinned as he leaned over and scanned the soil in the planter before slowly circling around. Even before he was halfway around the planter his eyes fell on his treasure and he eager snatched them into his hands with a gleeful smile. He didn't know what made his eyes flicker down to the right, but they did.

And he froze.

There, propped up against the wall of the cement planter, was a girl. Eyelids closed and face relaxed in the peaceful slumber that had called her. Her arm resting over her stomach and head, from where he stood, turned away from his view. But what really made his eyes pop out of his skull was what she was wearing: a blue, silk dress with a white apron in the front. He blinked thinking he was merely seeing things but when she didn't vanish he continued staring at her. It was like a scene straight out from a book.

Correction: a scene out of his favorite book.

Then suddenly… he frowned.

Her hair was… not at all what it should be.

Brunette curls instead of pure gold.

With quick strides and determination, he kneeled before her and examined her, carefully, with his blue eyes. And then he knew. There was no mistaking it now. It was clear now, the answer, as to who she was. Perfectly, undeniably, and ever so clear; he felt the corners of his mouth quirk upward. This had to be the great Frabjous Day!

Alice Liddell.

Alice Liddell.

Alice.

His breath caught in his throat as he heard a small groan.

Eyelids fluttered open and dark cerulean blue met his sky ones.

They remained like that before reality began to sink into her and confusion knitted her brows together.

"Alice, my dear, you've finally arrived!" Jervis exclaimed, with enthusiasm, clasping his hands together in pure delight. There was no doubt about it now; she had taken a sharp intake of breath and tried to scoot back from him as far as she could. "O, Frabjous Day! Callooh! Callay! I—" He stopped shot when he heard voices calling out ahead of him.

"Tetch! Where are you, you creep?" He recognized that voice. It was David. "I knew this was a bad idea. Why'd you have to make a deal with him to begin with? We could be finished rounding up all the patients by now and not having to deal with this shit."

No. Oh no. No, no, no, no—they couldn't ruin his reunion with his dear, sweet Alice!

"I'm terribly sorry for what I'm about to do, Alice, but I'm afraid it's the only way to keep you safe until we reach our destination." He gave a sympathetic look. This would not do, he knew, but if was the only guarantee that he'd be able to keep Alice with him. And this way he wouldn't have the need to knock her out cold. If anything, his conscious reassured, this was more humane.

"Pardon me, but what—"

He regretted having to do this; he'd much rather listen to her gentle voice.

In a quick flash he leaned forward and tucked in one of the chips onto her bowtie and watched as her eyes glazed over and sighed. If only it was under different circumstances. Then he wouldn't have needed to brainwash her with his mind control equipment. Another depressed sigh came from him. Now wasn't the time to be thinking of what could have been. Jervis only prayed that she wouldn't be furious with him once he removed the chip. Or worse, afraid of him; he could still see the expression the imposter Alice had given him—he knew now she was not meant to be the Alice—after having been saved by Batman.

Yet Alice would understand why he did it, wouldn't she? It was for her own protection, for her own good! He brushed a stray hair from her face, tucking it behind her ear. Yes, she would understand. He grinned.

"TETCH!"

The grin fell into a pout at having been disturbed—again. Quickly, Jervis gathered the duffle bag in his hands and disposed of useless items he no longer found important. Nothing was important now that he had his Alice. Next, he slipped the control band into the rim of his top hat and placed it on his head with pride. Jervis Tetch returned his gaze to her for one last time before closing his eyes and toning out the voices echoing off the walls, trying to ignore how close they were getting…

"There's no way he could have escaped." Bill rounded the corner and felt relief flood through him. Leaning over, inspecting the daffodils was Tetch. The weight on his shoulders lifted and, if it weren't for the visor helmet he wore, he would have wiped the sweat from his forehead. Instead, he settled with clearing his throat.

No reaction.

"Tetch," He watched as the man gave a small jump and swirled around to face him, "what are you doing?"

The guilty party gave a sheepish grin and motioned to the flowers he had been previously admiring. "Oh, I thought I heard voices and had believed for a second I really was in Wonderland." He let his shoulders drop an inch. "But that doesn't seem the case. It appears I hadn't fallen down the rabbit hole after all… a real pity too."

Bill stared at him. The guy was talking to the flowers? He shook his head. "Look Tetch; we weren't able to find that tea set of yours. So either you did or you didn't. And either way, time's up."

"Oh, I did." Tetch nodded gravely and picked up the duffle bag, swinging it over with gentleness. The way he said that was beyond creepy. In fact, it was… disturbing.

"… Right… OK…" The guard suddenly felt uneasy and shifted from one foot to the other. There was undeniably something wrong here. Like, to start with, Tetch's personality. Bill knew the man was a bit—OK, more like a lot—messed up in the head and showed more interest in a world that didn't exist compared to the one he actually lived in, but never had he heard about the once scientist talking to plants. That was more of Poison Ivy's thing—that woman held more concern for plants then human beings lives, but Jervis Tetch? He recalled how Ivy attacked the man for making a comment about how he abhor roses because the Red Queen absolutely loved them during a group therapy session (why he said that, Bill didn't know, but he guessed the doctor had been the one to broach the subject).

And here he was talking to daffodils?

"… What?"

He blinked, shook his head. "Nothing…"

"Fu—" David bustled around the corner and was ready to swear again when his attention fell onto the two. "—…"

Silence rang like a bell between them.

"Well!" Tetch coughed with cheerfulness. "Shall we head to the buses now, gentlemen?"

Without waiting for a response Tetch started forward towards the exit of the gardens. It didn't take long for two pairs of footsteps to follow after him and David asking his partner if he had tried to escape. No, none of that matter to him now. He let the devious smile sculpt itself onto his face and ducked his head down so if any passing guards glanced at them they wouldn't be able to see it. No, he'd hide his joy from them until he was in the safety of his new home.


End of Author's Notes:

Now, I should point out a few needed facts to know as to not cause confusion later on.

For starters, this is all going to be taken place in Arkham City. The sequel to Batman: Arkham Asylum is being dismissed at the moment because my plot bunnies have decided not to bother with the minor details given of Arkham City. Two-Face will make an appearance, but he won't be capturing Catwoman for public execution in this story. But then again we'll see; my plot bunnies may change their minds. Also want to add in that, because we never did see Jervis Tetch/The Mad Hatter in the video game, I'm basing him off of the Animated Series—where I also got the idea that he and Dr. Crane are friends. I tried looking for information on who'll be guarding the perimeter of Arkham City and that's where Tyger comes in. Don't know a lot about them and tried to do more background check on the group but so far I'm unable to find much else about them.

That's all I can think of at the moment. If I forgot to mention something, feel free to ask about it and I'll see about trying to answer it to the best of my abilities in the next chapter.

Feedback is greatly appreciated so kindly leave a review.