Forward: Inspired by a list I found with Stumbleupon, I've decided to use the prompt to get my creative juices flowing when I get stuck working on a proper chapter-ed story. So expect chapters to fluctuate accordingly. You can consider these as connected, or just as separate one shots if you like. They're also not in any specific order but I will be trying to group similar ones together sometimes. Anyway, hope you enjoy these Hatter and Alice life snapshots! ^_^
Disclaimer: I do not own Alice 2009, nor is any monetary profit being made from this story. This disclaimer applies to all future chapters as well.
1. Don't try to read other people's minds
Sitting in a moon lit kitchen, Alice idly stirred her steaming mug with a peppermint stick. She wasn't sure if it was a leftover habit from when he ran his Tea Shop and pleasing people had been his business, or if it was just innately Hatter…but the staring was really getting on her nerves.
The hairs on the back of Alice's neck would stand on end when she'd walk into a room sometimes and even though she couldn't see him, she knew he was staring at her. Staring at her as if she held all the answers to some puzzle only he could see. Oh, it had been flattering at first. Alice found her self pretty enough and if she put some effort into her look then even she could see herself as beautiful…but never had a man stared at her so intently as Hatter did and it had made her feel like she'd been going through puberty all over again.
She'd glanced at him shyly then the first few times she felt his intense gaze had been on her as she moved about; faced flushed, head bowed and a wide smile on her lips when she finally met his gaze. Hatter's mouth tilted up in a small knowing smile with eyes that held laughter and passion that only fueled her blush. Never letting go of her eyes, he would cross over from wherever he was in the room to stand before her. His hand coming up to caress her cheek before pulling her into some of most tender kisses Alice had ever experienced, and she could then understand how the people in Wonderland had wanted to get lost in such powerful emotions.
Dazed and feeling much like putty in the hands that held her, she would pull back just a fraction and ask what that was for.
Hatter would just smile softly at her and whisper against her lips, "Just thought that you were looking lovely."
She'd blush again and he'd lean forward for one small peck this time before walking off and leaving her in the middle of an unfinished task, and it often took her a few minutes to remember why it had been important or what she'd been doing in the first place.
It hadn't been apparent what he kept trying accomplish until she'd been having one of those days yesterday where nothing went right and everything seemed to set her off. Alice marveled at his ability to understand her moods that evening and when she gone to bed that night, with content smile that she was sure she'd lost at some point for good that day, it finally hit her.
Hatter had been reading her and giving her what she'd needed or sometimes, like with the surprise kisses, just what she'd wanted.
The realization had caused her a mild panic attack and it was how Alice found herself up in the middle of the night with a cup of hot chocolate; having crept out of the bedroom to sort things out away from Hatter's presence. Could he just not help himself? Was it a part of him? An innate talent that had garnered him the title of being 'A Man Who Knows'? And what did that mean about how he felt about her? Were all his decisions just something to please her?
Alice immediately brushed that fear aside. If he hadn't wanted her, he wouldn't have come through the Looking Glass in the first place just to be with her. They had built this connection during their frantic adventure and Alice knew-could feel it in his touch-just how strongly he cared for her. She was too afraid to label her own feelings as love just yet…but by the same reasoning she knew that was the path she was heading down.
That thought alone filled her with a pleasant warmth that she couldn't credit to the hot chocolate alone.
So why then? Why did he try so hard to please her and make her happy? She was an intelligent, modern woman. She could figure this out.
The only thing that made sense was that it was habit for him. Her mind cast back to their time together in Wonderland and she realized he'd done it then too. Their first conversation...when he'd helped her off the ladder...after he'd gotten shot...across the campfire…how had she missed those looks before? Well, partly because she'd been too busy thinking of herself some-okay most of the time she admitted, but he hadn't always said the right thing back then so what was it? What connection was she missing?
Staring down at the table, her eyes fell upon her arms as they held the cooling mug and her gaze drifted to her now invisible marking before it hit her. Was it just that simple? Culture difference? Her world was not one of instant gratification, and hadn't one of her girlfriends mentioned an article about the subconscious cues of body language? The more Alice thought about it now, the more sense it made.
In Wonderland, if you wanted to feel something, you went and bought the emotion and seconds later poof, instant change. Someone angry? Drop of Calm and they're your best friend again. Why put in all your precious happy emotions into cheering them up if you don't want to and don't have to?
But Hatter did want to, at least with her. He came here, to a whole new world, just to be with her and he was trying to learn her. Learn not just her quirks but also this mental unspoken language she'd been fluent in her whole life without really knowing it.
Feeling relieved and a not a small amount of pride at her deduction, Alice finished the last her chocolate before climbing back into bed and curling up into Hatter's warmth. A smile brushing her features when he murmured nonsense and drew her closer to him in his sleep.
Alice found him in the kitchen the next morning after she'd gotten ready for the day, and she met the eyes that she knew would be watching her as soon as she came into view. Hatter smiled at her and she shot him a happy grin of her own as she studied him while he studied her. His eyes taking in her full appearance in a flicker, his posture straightening with calm assurance from her apparent happiness, and his smile growing to keep her own from disappearing. It was all the signal she needed that she's been right the night before and she quickly reached him with her plan in mind. Taking him by surprise this time with her own lingering kiss filled with adoration, gratitude and reassurance that he eagerly drank up.
Alice pulled away slowly but left her hands to play with the hair on the back of his neck as she shot him the amused knowing smile this time. It was only because she was looking for it that Alice saw the briefest amount of surprise amongst the contentment in his smile.
"And a good morning to you too," Hatter almost purred, "Not that I'm complaining mind, but any special reason for that then?"
Alice smirked, "Just thought that you were looking lovely this morning."
His smile grew in amusement at having his own words shot back at him, "You mean there are mornings when I don't look like a bit of alright?"
She couldn't stop the laugh that burst from her then before giving him a reassuring peck and backing off, "Oh I'm sure it'll happen one of these days."
He laughed with her then before looking at her with those searching eyes. She pretended not to notice as she went about making herself a cup of the coffee that Hatter had already brewed for her. Alice counted to ten as she did so before casually speaking up, "You don't have to do that all the time you know."
A pause. "What'd ya mean?"
She took a sip of her morning caffeine with a smile as she turned to look at him again, "Try and read my mind like that." Her announcement that she discovered what he'd been doing clearly caught him off guard, and she could see him trying to come up with some excuse or reasoning so she walked up to stand in front of him and continued before he could, "All you have to do is ask Hatter. I'm not gonna snap at you just for asking me how I'm feeling."
Alice gave him a kiss on the cheek and a hidden smile before leaving him to watch her as she walked off.
24. Know what your priorities are in life, and act as if they are your priorities
It had only been a day. Just one. Not much time at all really.
So why did it feel like forever?
Alice was gone. Back to her world. A world of pointless papers and mood swings so rapid and subtle that he'd almost felt like he'd gotten whiplash around her on occasion.
It was also a world that had devotion so powerful…it created people that would fight impossible odds for someone they only thought they liked.
She'd said she'd had to go back through and well, of course logically that made sense. Had to go back for her mum after all and he couldn't blame her for finding Wonderland not half mad to her Oyster sensibilities. With Prince Jack in control of things though he didn't see himself getting permission for a little holiday on the other side anytime soon so he'd taken it as a lost cause. Hatter's vision narrowed in remembrance as he frowned. Alice may not have stayed for his highness' royal airs and graces but Hatter also hadn't missed their happy goodbye.
How could he be reason enough to stay with things like that against him then? What did he have to offer if she'd turned down a prince-a kingdom!- just to go home?
Hatter looked around the partially cleaned up office and admitted the answer was easily 'not enough'.
Broken home, broken life and a wounded heart.
He wasn't sure he could afford enough cream cake to get over this one either.
Noises echoing from his old sales floor brought him out of his depressive musings, and Hatter narrowed his vision against the dimly lit hallway. Voices could be heard now and Hatter cracked the knuckles on his right hand before forming a fist. He'd have thought it obvious by now that there was no stock left, and yet the Scavengers kept comin' back. A familiar authoritative voice grew louder as its owner drew closer to his office.
"-clean up the glass as well. I want a pair searching for hidden compartments in the walls as well. Have them check places even the ones running on desperation might not have checked." Footsteps went off the other way at that order and only one set continued towards him.
It was no shock when a pale blonde head strode out from the shadows then, but seeing as how Hatter wasn't too keen on the forced upon company he didn't bother relaxing his fist. "To what do I owe the pleasure Jack?" he asked with forced lightness, "Just a bit low on supplies at the mo' if you're lookin' for a little pick me up though yeah?"
"Hello Hatter," Jack stated as he ignored Hatter's remarks and took in what he belatedly realized wasn't his most put together look. Lacking his jacket, hat and tie and still in the same shirt from their last meeting as his only clothes were the ones on his back now. He knew a shower wouldn't be amiss either. "How have you been?"
Hatter raised a speculative eyebrow. Really? Jack was going to play it that way? "Oh you know me," he bit out as he flopped down into his desk chair, "Just surviving day to day like the lowly former shop owner that I am."
His comment hit the mark as he saw Jack shuffle and cover a nervous cough before looking calm and collected once more, "I came down here personally to thank you. For all that you did. Helping Alice and my kingdom." An awkward pause. "You have my gratitude."
"Hmm, shame that's a currency I've no use for anymore now eh?" Hatter retorted after propping his boots up on his battered desk.
"Isn't it though?" Jack shot back and the two stared intensely at each other. Hatter mentally cursing his weakness a minute later as he was the first to look away.
He adopted a thoughtful look on his face instead as he looked at his ceiling, "Well, I could do with new lodgings and things I suppose. That something your gratitude can buy me then?"
"If that's where your priorities lie," Jack responded slowly and the wording caused Hatter to shift back to stare at him again, "It could extend to other things as well. I won't limit where you would want to relocate if that's your decision."
Hatter froze at those words and just stared at what he still grudging thought of as his competition. Was the prince really offering what he thought he was offering?
Jack nodded once before looking about the office, "My men have orders to gut the place to make sure all the Tea is gone before moving on to the next one." His gaze returned to Hatter then, "I'd be grateful if you could help speed up that process, and perhaps by then you'll know what your priorities are so that I may assist in helping you achieve them as my thanks." The prince didn't wait for answer to that. Just turned and left Hatter alone with his thoughts.
The options before the former conman were many and wonderful and terrifying.
What were his priorities? A few days ago it'd been survival. Comfortable survival mind, but still just planning things to make it to the end of each week none the less. And now?
Hatter swore under his breath minutes later as he grabbed his discarded clothing off the couch as he went to aide the Suits Jack left to tear the place apart.
If Alice did decide she wanted him when he saw her again, he was never gonna tell her the specifics on his coming to live there. Ever. He'd surely die from embarrassment if he did.
2.Get up 30 minutes earlier so that you don't rush/end up late
Alice had never entertained the notion that time might not be linear until after he trip to Wonderland. She'd been there for something like three days (it was hard to tell if it was day or night when she'd first stepped out on that ledge, and Hatter had mentioned something about perpetual twilight when you're that deep in so she couldn't say for certain), but she'd only missing for an hour according to her mom. Then, only briefly touching upon the thought even after reuniting with Hatter, it wasn't until they'd moved in together that she noticed time acting funny again.
They'd been making dinner together when Hatter had pulled her away from the stove to pepper her with kisses randomly before deciding on tickling her instead when the smell of smoke broke the happy moment. Quickly turning around, she saw the chicken looked completely charred and not the fresh pink it had been less then five minutes ago, and she quickly doused the pan in the sink to soak. Hatter had suggested Chinese with her original plans ruined and the event was pushed aside until she went to clean the pans later that night, and she still couldn't come up with any answers.
Similar things kept happening after that first time and always around Hatter. They'd show up late to her Mom's for dinner when Alice knew they'd left their apartment with an hour to spare. Her alarm would go off seemingly random intervals in the morning; nine, ten, five, sometimes even three a.m. when she knew for a fact that it had been set for seven thirty. Showers together that should've drained the entire building's supply of hot water instead lasted no more than five or ten minutes according to the clock on the wall. And those occurrences weren't limited to the bathroom either as hours of passionate embraces and love making were constantly claiming to have taken no longer than thirty minutes. Ever.
When Alice commented on her observations as a joke to Hatter after one such marathon that evening, he'd gone quiet before confessing to her.
"'M sorry Alice," he stated, caressing her bare hip with his thumb, "'S been hard for me to adjust to your consistencies on this side of the glass. Been getting better at it lately but when I don't keep a thought on it, things sorta…go into flux."
Alice blinked as she tried to process this. "Are you saying you can control time?" she asked slowly.
"No. Well, yes, sorta...not in the way you're thinkin'," Hatter objected, "Not like the Looking Glass does."
She frowned at him, "Then how exactly cause you're not making any sense."
Hatter sighed, "Time is linear here Alice. Sixty seconds in a minute, twenty four hours in a day…It's not like that in Wonderland. It's very...fluid like instead. Always in motion I suppose." The look on her face clearly showed she didn't understand what he was getting at and Hatter sat up in bed as he attempted to convey…whatever this was to her. "Alright. How long, exactly, would you say you were in Wonderland?"
"About three days I think, maybe two, what does that have to do with anything?"
He shook his head once, "You were only there for one day of my time. Fell that night and left before the next. It just felt like that long to you cause you're linear moving."
Alice laid down on her back and shook her head, "No way. I know it was more than twenty four hours. I didn't have a watch and I'm sure I was running on adrenaline half the time, but it had to have been more then that."
Over the next two hours (Alice kept checking the clock just to make sure), Hatter kept trying to explain what seemed like advanced physics to her (to her not so mild surprise followed by pride at his knowledge), but he treated it as a common occurrence before she finally threw her hands up in frustration.
"Okay, look," she stopped him, "Let's say I believe you on all this. You have…issues with time, and you're working on adapting to how it works here-"
"More or less," Hatter nodded along.
"-and until then," she continued, "I should expect to lose or gain minutes or even hours around you. Right?"
Hatter agreed and then considered his next words before hesitantly replying, "You gonna be okay with that?" She didn't answer right away, but she didn't wait too long before nodding and giving Hatter a kiss as they cuddled up and went to sleep.
The next day she bought one of those alarm clocks on wheels that rolled away when it was time to get up, setting it up on the opposite side of the room, and she considered the time thing a non-issue from then on.