Disclaimer: I have the sneaking feeling that my subconscious stole a line from Tim Burton's Wonderland (can't confirm but Johnny Depp keeps whispering it in my ear *shrug*) so just to be safe I'm going to disclaim all ownership of either incarnation of Alice in Wonderland.

Author's Note: What say, another Alice drabble? Hey, I'm about to embark on my fifth midterm of six (and when you are only taking three classes that just isn't fair), drabbles make good study breaks. By the by, Quality Control would like to state that she doesn't like Jack, neither do I for that matter, doesn't mean I can't wander around in his head for a bit though.


...

It really shouldn't surprise him, given the means, that he didn't get the end he'd wanted. He hadn't meant for it to be this way, this hadn't been the plan. His mission had been to bring Alice back to Wonderland, but he'd intended to complete it honestly: offer friendship, gain her trust, and, with a full explanation of what he was doing, bring her back find the father intelligence indicated she was still searching for, the father that they so very much needed her to wake up if all their plans were to succeed.

But then she'd turned out to be so very...Alice. So delightfully Alice that his offer of friendship had become something a great deal more, and for a while he'd forgotten himself in the joy of being simply Jack Chase, regular Joe with the girl he adored. For a moment he'd forgotten what Jack Heart had been sent into the Oysters' world to do...

Still, he hadn't meant for things to turn into the absolute mess they did; he'd planned to be there for her, beside her every step of the way. He certainly hadn't intended for her to be thrown headlong into the dangers of Wonderland all by herself, with no one but a chance met acquaintance – and the owner of a Tea Shop at that – to look out for her. The plan was to bring Alice through the Looking Glass himself, but he'd run out of time, and in desperation not to have the Resistance's careful strategy brought to nought by his mistakes, he'd rushed into a declaration that he should have known would make the once abandoned girl shy away. And shy away she had, Jabberwocky, she'd practically ran in the opposite direction, all her defensive walls slamming down as she'd ushered him out the door.

So he'd slipped the ring in her pocket. It would make her a target, he'd known that from the beginning, but Wonderland needed her so he'd accepted the risk. With luck, she'd have been missed in the White Rabbit's sweep. In time the Looking Glass would close and the Resistance could use the inevitable loss of Teas to destabilize and overthrow the Queen. Perhaps not the most ideal solution – those Oysters already captured would be trapped, their window back to the other world lost forever – but it would have worked well enough. Of course, when had he ever been lucky, excepting that brief period of time when he was Jack Chase, the man Alice wanted to be with?

He had been completely prepared for her capture. It was, in his newly evolving plan of action, the best means of getting her near Carpenter. The Resistance had people in the Hearts Casino, people that could intercept her before she was taken to the Gaming Room, people that could take her to her father. His strategy could have worked so well, he just hadn't counted on the resourcefulness of Alice, which had left her exactly where he'd never meant her to be: alone in Wonderland, where she was hunted and looked upon as a commodity by all that lived there, including the owner of the Tea Shop that bought her.

And yet, it seemed, Alice had continued to be so, well, Alice, and somewhere along the way the two-bit conman had apparently forgotten all of his own ends in interest of helping Alice do...whatever Alice decided to do. So she'd ended up running about Wonderland, escaping pursuit and learning piece meal that all was not as she'd been led to believe, until at last when they were finally brought face to face again, he'd been forced to reveal the worst of all he'd meant to tell her in the worst possible way. He'd had to crush her beneath his heel, make everyone believe she was nothing to him, even as he dangled the possibility of her father before her, because it was the only means he had of getting her out of the Casino alive and still have a chance of completing his mission.

Except he hadn't gotten her out of the Casino, no, that two-bit conman with an ancient White Knight and a flying pink flamingo had done that. So she'd escaped back into Wonderland, having been shown the worst of him, and he couldn't leave her there to find safety. No, he had to go and drag her back into danger, had to make her risk capture, all so that he could make an abandoned child face a parent that no longer remembered her, because she was the only one that could wake Carpenter up. And they'd needed to wake him up to save Wonderland...

...except, in the end, it turned out they hadn't. Because in the end Alice had discovered that it wasn't Carpenter they'd needed to wake up, but the Oysters. Her father she'd only awakened long enough to watch him die, but the fear and confusion of the awakened Oysters was what had brought down the house of cards in an explosion of emotions. So while they had meant for Alice to be their salvation, she had brought about the end they'd craved almost despite the means they'd employed to make it so...

...which is why he shouldn't be surprised when she still doesn't want the Stone of Wonderland. She has grown from her ordeal, become stronger, become so much more...Alice. He may be the Resistance insider and now King who can schedule her return trip through the Looking Glass whenever she may choose to go, but she doesn't want that anymore, if, indeed, she ever truly did. Alice doesn't want the King that can give her the world; she wants the two-bit conman that would fight it for her, the man to whom she is not the means to an end...

...but the end that justifies the means.