His name is Jefferson. His parents were merchants who taught their only son their trade, millinery, before they died. Though young, he survived because he was skilled, an artist, and a good salesman, charming even the most discerning buyers.

His name is Jefferson. His family has money, his grandfather was in real estate, and they live off their substantial trusts. He was a bright, shining star until his freshman year of college when he had his first psychotic break and had to come home. Not long after he was diagnosed as schizophrenic, his mother and father died in a car accident, leaving him alone to haunt their large house.

One day, he makes a hat from Maleficent, who was so pleased that she offers him a gift. He's scared, knows better than to trust her brand of magic, but can't resist the promise of a hat that would allow him to travel between worlds. It makes him unique, special and brings him to the attention of powerful people.

He's supposed to take the pills every day, but he doesn't. He hates the way they make him feel, numb and stupid and doesn't understand why the doctors are so insistent. He spends time in the asylum, but is released when deemed not to be a danger. He rarely leaves his home. The only person he sees (and, even more rarely, speaks to) is the girl who delivers his groceries.

Traveling between worlds is fun. He avoids the ones about magic, as it would be too easy to get trapped there. The queen, Regina, sends them on errands, to Wonderland, to the world of shrimp and pays him handsomely. He meets Alice and they marry. Life is good.

Life is hell. He sees monsters in the shadows sometimes, even in the safety of the house. Sometimes the voices in his head get so loud, he doesn't realize he's screaming until his throat hurts. He can't count the number of times he's put his fist through the damn bathroom mirror, which taunts him, seeming to repair itself. On good days , he makes hats, a hobby , as suggested by his doctors.

Alice's pregnancy is hard on her. The midwife knows she won't survive the birth and Jefferson holds his beloved, tears tracking down his cheeks. With her dying breath, Alice begs them to be there for Grace, to stop traveling. He keeps his promise. Regina is not best pleased by his retirement. She blacklists him, making sure no one will buy his hats. He and Grace get by scrounging mushrooms in the forest and selling them at market. They don't have much, but the room was full of love. Grace is such a good girl, it breaks his heart that he can't give her more.

The girl with the groceries finds him in a pool of blood. In a fugue, he tried to slit his throat and the doctors admit him again, a longer stay this time. He doesn't know how long he spends lost in his own mind, but eventually emerges enough to hear his neighbor crying in the night. Belle is even more tortured than he is and he speaks to her through the wall.

He should've known better than to trust Regina. He did know better, but it taken her to Wonderland anyway, only to be abandoned. The Queen of Hearts makes Regina look kind. They force them to make hat after hat, none of them work, and he never knows when the next beating or…worse, will occur. He prefers the beatings to the alternative and somewhere during his captivity something in his mind breaks.

Somehow, he was no longer in Wonderland. The house is strange - familiar - everything was wrong. The house, his house, empty and cold and he couldn't leave, another prison, though a bit less physically damaging than the one in Wonderland.

Every morning he took the pills, until he realized the only confused him. Bit by bit, he worked out what it happened, where he was. If anyone was going to recognize another world, it was him. Through the telescope, he could see people he recognized, see them going about strange tasks.

He could see Grace.

His Grace, living as someone else. At least she seemed happy.

No one knew.

It was insane.

As the years passed, he figured maybe he was immune to whatever curse had wiped everyone's memory due to his own, Wonderland fractured psyche. He envied the others, their oblivion. Every day, he watched his daughter (frozen in time, never aging, was that really living) and died a little more inside.

In one of the empty rooms, he marked the days. 10,507 hashmarks marred the walls. They mocked him, as did the rows of hats. He knew he had no magic, knew he could never make them work, but he had to try. He had to do something to pass the time.

More than once, he contemplated killing himself, taking shears and opening his wrists…but then he thought of Grace. On the off chance the curse was broken, he couldn't leave her alone in the forest. He couldn't fail his baby again.

Then one night, he felt an almost electric current run through him. He didn't know what it was, but he went to his telescope, peering out over the town. When he saw the clock moving, he temporarily lost the ability to stand. Something had changed.

Something, someone, had brought magic to Storybrooke.

It didn't take long for him to track down the newcomer, a beautiful blonde woman who took his breath away. Something about her, reminded him of Alice, but he shook himself.

He couldn't dwell on such things.

Not long after the clock came back to life, he found he could venture out of the house. Sure, he got a few odd looks as he crept around town, but he was able to find out quite a lot of interesting information.

When Snow had stumbled into his yard, he had seen an opportunity. Perhaps, upon reflection, he'd gone about things the wrong way, what with the drugging, hostage taking and forced hat making, but he really didn't have the appropriate interpersonal skills to deal with…well, anyone anymore.

Especially not Emma Swan, who the very sight of made him…feel things. And really, in his state, he only had the capacity to focus on his goal. Getting home with his daughter.

He's lucky the bush broke his fall when Snow kicked him out the window. His survival instincts kicked in and he made himself scarce until Emma and Snow left. It wasn't very hard to avoid them afterwards.

He avoided everyone.

And then Regina left her little calling card on Grace's bicycle. Of course she wanted to use him again…He knew that, knew she could not be trusted, but the promise of a new life with Grace...

A life where they were together and his mind was whole and he could be a good parent to her…it was all he needed in any world.

Regina knew that and used it against him. It wasn't until hours later that he realized she'd played him. If she used up the last bit of her magic, having him retrieve the Apple (and really, what was that about?), there'd be no way she could make him forget, no way she could give him and Grace a new life together.

Okay, so he could admit to having a little meltdown when he worked out that little concept. The smashed teacups that littered his living room floor could attest to that.

He picked up a large, jagged piece of porcelain, not even wincing as the razor-sharp edges bit into his fingers.

Regina had won. Again.

He didn't think he could survive this world much longer.

It would be so easy, a couple quick cuts and it would be over.

Small droplets of blood fell from his fingers onto the white carpet, landing beside the area of discoloration left by the tea Emma had spilled after the unfortunate drugging incident….

A thought fought its way past his haze of self-loathing. Regina was going to try to do something bad to Emma.

Emma, who understood what it was like to miss her child. Even though she'd used that understanding against him the last time they'd interacted he really couldn't blame.

Maybe he could warn her.

He liked having something to focus on.

Times like this, he wished he had a car. Then again, he wasn't sure anyone would give him a license to operate a motor vehicle. Between the drugs he was supposed to be taking and his none too stable psyche, everyone seemed to consider him…unpredictable.

On the rare occasions he ventured into town, people gave him a wide berth.

It took about 20 min. to reach the small apartment building where Emma and Snow lived, having taken a shortcut through the woods. He knew Emma probably wouldn't be overly thrilled to see him, but he had to try.

He raised his hand to knock on her door, then paused as he heard her voice, high with fear, emerge from inside the apartment. "Henry? Henry!"

Every parent knew that tone.

Without thinking, he hit the door shoulder first, old wood splintering on impact. He stumbled into the room to see Emma falling to her knees beside Henry, who was sprawled on the floor, clearly unconscious.

"What happened?" he asked, stepping forward and kneeling beside them.

Emma was clearly to upset about Henry to register her full surprise at his presence. "I don't know. He was going on about poisoned apples and saying I shouldn't eat that turnover and then he took a bite and he fell."

A cold feeling of dread settled in Jefferson stomach. "Did Regina give you that?"

She blinked at him. "Yes…I need to take him to the hospital."

The hospital would not be able to help Henry, of that, Jefferson was certain. He wasn't sure exactly how the apple's magic worked, but it was magic, which meant the medicine of this world didn't stand a chance.

Still, he helped Emma gather Henry up and carried him to her silly little yellow car. He found himself riding along with them to the hospital and knew that once they were there, he was going to have to tell her the truth. He was going to have to convince her to believe.

Now both their children hung in the balance of her belief.

TBC…

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