Once Upon a Time
Remember a Time
Jefferson was wide awake, unable to sleep after his visit from Mr. Gold and bring everything from his past back up. It wasn't like he could ever forget anything that had happened but it seemed to be something on just the edge of his mind. He felt like he had lost everything when he lost Alice, every day was another challenge for him to get out of bed but he did it because he still had his daughter to take care of. Grace growing up without her mother was his fault, he still didn't know what really happened and he didn't know how to find out but he knew it was his fault. The Queen of Hearts made sure he knew that.
Jefferson sat at the window of his wife's old room, watching Alice and Grace sleeping peacefully in the moonlight. He stood up and quietly made his way out into the hall.
It was a cool, still night with a clear starry sky. The moon glowed so bright everything was lit, even the tree covered path in the woods. Jefferson walked down the dirt path, away from the castle he and his family had arrived at only a few short hours ago. Alice was still upset with him, there was no doubt in his mind about that but she was doing her best to hide it. Grace was pulled from her home to stay at her grandfathers without an explanation, she didn't need to know there could be something to worry about.
Ahead to the right there was a shadow caught Jefferson's eye, moving quickly through the trees. He crouched down, ducking behind some trees and peering behind the trunks to get a look at who the shadow was. It was only a couple of seconds that had passed since he had seen the dark mass, but there was nothing that he could see through the trees.
"So, who are we spying on?"
Jefferson leapt up from his crouched position, spinning around swinging his fist out at whoever it was that had crept up behind him. Whoever it was just vanished into thin air. Jefferson knew there had been someone there, a voice whispered right in his ear. It was a soft, low, feminine but husky voice that triggered something in his mind, something her knew. But no matter where he looked, there was nothing anywhere near him.
He began to walk through the trees slowly, looking everywhere he could think for whoever it was that was out there with him.
"Looking everywhere but no looking anywhere at the same time, don't you think?"
The voice echoed through the forest, making it impossible to pin point its origin and find it owner. "Who are you?"
"I am anything yet nothing all at the same time."
"What is that supposed to mean?" Jefferson snuck up to a tree, staying tight to it with his back against it. He paused just a moment, trying to peek around the trunk before jumping out in hope of catching his mystery guest around the other side.
"Nope, sorry not there. You used to be much better at this, don't you remember? Although you always did look right in front up you. Never looking to new heights." Jefferson stood in the middle of the dark path, eyebrows scrunched together spinning in circles looking everywhere. "My god, you have gotten so very bad at this. Look up my dear Jefferson." He cocked his head to the side, utterly confused, and slowly turned his head up to look into the trees.
Sitting roughly twenty feet off the ground was a slender, petite, girl with deep plumb hair and glowing dark purple eyes. She grinned down at Jefferson from atop her sturdy tree branch, sitting with one leg crossed over the other and her hand around the branch on either side of her.
"You have got to be kidding me." Jefferson rolled his eyes, groaning. "You need to leave, now. I don't care where you go as long as you get out of here."
She tilted her head to the side, pushing herself up off the tree branch landing gracefully in front of Jefferson. She dusted off her black pants, freeing them of any bark or dirt that may be stuck to them, and straightened her black blazer she wore over a violet and plum top. "But we used to have so much fun, don't you remember? Our tea parties, the nights we spent under the stars, chasing that stupid Hare friend of yours all through Wonderland. Fun."
Jefferson glared at the petite woman before him, turning his back walking away from her without a word.
"Oh come on Jefferson, I'm not here to cause any trouble. I swear."
He was forced to stop in his tracks when she suddenly appeared directly in front of him with sincere eyes. "Please, you not causing any trouble? I'll believe that when I actually see it Chess."
"See that, you miss me!"
"Why would you automatically jump to that conclusion?"
"Because, you called me Chess not just Cheshire. It's a term of endearment Hatter." Jefferson rolled his eyes. "What happened to you? We used to friends, we were inseparable. There was a bond between us that I used to think could never be broken, we had something once didn't we?"
He was quiet and thoughtful for a moment, memories of his time in Wonderland and with Cheshire. "We did, once. We had something I'm sure others dreamed of and wished for every day. But that's over with, I risked a lot for you; I agreed to work in her court to keep her eyes off of you and keep you safe. You seemed to have forgotten about me so I had to let myself forget about you. And now I have someone that makes me happier than I have ever been before. I found someone who I love with all my heart. We were young Chess, too young to understand what we were even feeling. Just…too young."
A soft weak smile fell upon Cheshire's face, her eyes turning up to look into his. "I know what I felt. Jefferson I loved you, I still do."
"Chess, look I-"
"I know I get it, you moved on. And I don't blame you it's been a very long time and I'm glad you're happy. That's not what this is about, I swear. I'm here to warn you."
"You've got to be kidding me." Jefferson shook his head in disappointment, stepping forward past Cheshire. "Good night Cheshire."
She turned, following his movements as he began to walk past her. "I'm telling you the truth Hatter. You and your family are in danger. Both Alice and Grace." He came to a stop once again, keeping his back to his former friend. Cheshire's body tensed, the look in Jefferson's eyes enough to send chills up her spine and make her afraid of what he may do next. "I swear to you Jefferson, I'm here to help."
"How do you know of Alice or Grace?" His voice shook with rage and fear for his family's safety.
"Word travels in Wonderland Jefferson, you know that better than anyone. I'm not the one you should be concerned with, think about it. If I know who else do you think knows?"
Jefferson thought for a brief second, his eyes widening when the realization hit him. "Does she know? About them or where I am?"
Cheshire nodded. "I am positive she knows where you are but I'm not sure if she knows of your family but if she doesn't it's only a matter of time."
Fear began to build up inside Jefferson, he wiped his hand over his face as if it would clean away his worries. "I should have known she'd find out someday…wait, how did you get here?"
"You aren't the only one with portal tricks Hatter, don't worry the Queen of Heart has no idea where I have gone or how to get back here. But you can bet she'll find a way to find you."
"Did you get a portal of you own?"
Cheshire leaned back against a nearby tree, laughing. "No, I'm not lucky enough to catch the eye of some witch who's willing to give up something like that. There are other ways to move between Wonderland and other worlds, hidden doorways. When you've been in Wonderland as long as I have you find all these…rabbit holes."
Jefferson cocked an eyebrow, crossing his arms over his chest. "How is it that you were about to find this mystical portal without anyone either following you or seeing you at some point?"
She tilted her head to the side. "Really Jefferson? Have you forgotten that much?" Just like that, Cheshire grinned and vanished in front of his eyes.
"Yeah, yeah. What was the point of all this Cheshire?"
Jefferson took a quick step forward at what he could only hope was Cheshire putting her hand in his shoulders. He hadn't been expecting the touch, even if it was something that she was always doing. "So jumpy in your old age Jefferson." He turned his head, looking behind him, and saw her soft smile reappearing just over his shoulder then her eyes. Slowly the rest of her reappeared behind him. "I came to warn you. The Queen of Hearts knows where you are, she just has to find a way to get here and trust me she's close. I'm doing everything that I can to keep her off the right trail but I don't know how much more I can do over there. There's only so many place I can lead the guards to, they'll catch on that I'm misleading them and start looking on their own and when that happens they'll end up stumbling on the other mirror."
"Other mirror?" Jefferson looked at her incredulously. "There's only one mirror Chess."
"Wrong, there's two. Showed up just after the Queen showed up, before you stumbled into Wonderland mister know it all that's why you only knew about the one connected to your hat. The other one is different. The one to your hat opens to a ton of other doorways to all sorts of worlds-"
"You do realize I know all this right? My hat, remember?"
"Don't interrupt. Like I said, the mirror that is in your hat opens up to different doors when you walk through it from Wonderland the other mirror it goes to just one place. It brings you here, to a castle where a real powerful warlock lives. One I think you many know, people who fear him call him The Dark One. Those who have a different relationship with him, hate or even love, call him by his true name."
"Rumpelstiltskin. You came here from his castle?! Did you bring him here? Did he follow you?!" Jefferson took several menacing steps forward coming up on Cheshire in a flash, making her stumble back against a tree.
"Jefferson stop, do you really think I'd do that to you? He didn't even see me coming through, he's not stupid though I'm sure he knows that someone came through." Silence fell between the two old friends. "I'm going back. I'm not staying here, I'm not here to complicate your life. You're happier with your life here, with Alice and your daughter, I can see that. Happier then you ever were with me and that's okay, I'm glad you found someone who makes you feel like that." Jefferson stepped back, allowing Cheshire to come away from the tree. She smiled at him softly, her plum color eyes shining under the bright moonlight leaking through the trees. "Please, be extra careful. I may think I'm a heard of the Queen of Hearts but there's really no telling whether or not she knows about the other portal. I had to try and do something. I hope I wasn't too late."
Jefferson nodded slowly, he reached out his hand taking hold of Cheshire's wrist pulling her forward. He wrapped his arms around her in a tight embrace. "Thank you, Chess."
Cheshire smile, resting her head on his chest. "I wish you all the happiness in the world."
"You too Chess. Be safe." Jefferson released her, looking down into her eyes. Cheshire took a step back, looking back to Jefferson.
"You know me, I'm always safe." She smirked, with her hands on her hips. "I'll see you around, time for me to fade away." Cheshire stood in front of Jefferson, he blinked once and when he opened his eyes she was gone.
"Good bye Cheshire."
Jefferson jumped, falling to the hard floor at the not so gently voice yelling at him. He hadn't even realized he had fallen asleep. "What, who's there?" He slowly picking himself off the ground, squinting in the dim light to see who had come into the police station. The figure stepped forward, allowing more light to shine down upon them. He picking out the golden wavy lock, pulled back in a messy, hastily done ponytail.
"I need to talk to you."
The voice was what clicked for him. "Al-Addison." Jefferson corrected himself before blurting out her true name. "What are you doing here?" He had to admit, it was nice to see her regardless of how angry she looked and knowing that an angry Alice is more terrifying then a vengeful Rumpelstiltskin.
"I need to talk to you." Addison's voice was hard to read, even for Jefferson, but there was an under tone of what seemed to be fear or something close to it.
"Talk? Talk about what? Judge by your face, this hasn't much to do with the other night."
"About you. About me."
"What about you and me? Addison, you know I'm not a mind read, right? You have to help me out here a little."
"We just met, I don't know you and I certainly didn't know you well enough to sleep with you. But I did. Why? Because I felt…connected to you somehow. And before we even met, I had that dream about you. That, I can't even begin to explain." Addison fell silent, making Jefferson want to fill the quiet with something but couldn't find any words to do so. "Now…now I'm seeing you again but this time is different. This time we aren't alone and you're talking to me but it's not me because it can't be me because it's not my name."
"You're not making any sense." Jefferson stepped up to the bars, wanting to get as close to Addison as he could.
"Why do I dream of you!" Addison snapped, lunging at the bars and gripping them tight. Her face was inches from Jefferson's.
"Do you really want to know?"
Addison nodded. "No matter how crazy, I need to know. Jefferson, who are you?"
Jefferson took a moment, wiping away a single tear that rolled down Addison's cheek with his thumb. "It's more about who you are."