Updated with just a few grammatical changes.
Just something I thought needed to be done for the ending. I love the mirror - looking glass, anyone else catch that? - but I really hate how the mother is just standing there awkwardly. kind of ruined the moment for me.
Disclaimer: I do not own Alice, any of the characters, or the few quotes used in the show that I deemed necessary to put in this in order to keep to the plot. And I don't own Hatter's awesome clothing, either.
Hatter stared at the looking glass, his vision glazing over his wide-eyed, slack-jawed reflection, seeing only the ripples. Soon, they ebbed, and all that was left of Alice was lost.
For good, he realized. It really had been goodbye. He wanted to hit himself. Why did he get it now? After she'd left? What good was that?
He wished for another take. The hug he gave her would be warmer, stronger, closer, conveying what he felt and wanted to her know. He would say something other than, "Hell, no!" when she asked if he wanted her to stay. Something truthful. Come to think of it, anything was better than, "Maybe we could do pizza." Because that would happen.
He suddenly paused in his mental rant, seeing for the first time all the other oysters making their way up the steps and through the mirror. It could...
His heart beat quickened as his brain filled with that tidal wave of a question: Was he really going to give up everything he had to chase a girl through a magic mirror?
Why, yes. Yes, he was.
What did he have? There was no more need for the resistance, and his tea shop was completely destroyed - not that he'd go back to doing that anyway. Ratty? Oh, yes, that was an appealing reason to stay. There was only Charlie, and Hatter was sure the knight would get along fine without him.
Besides, somewhere along the way, she'd gotten to him.
He doubted it was when he'd seen her for the first time, drenched, confused, and hiding her terror - though he remembered a twinge of minor disappointment upon learning she was looking for another man.
It probably wasn't when he'd felt the strange, unexplainable impulse to place his hands on either side of her waist and help her down the ladder, because he'd covered it up by being gruff afterwards. But maybe something was starting when her breathing had quickened and her whole body had begun to quiver, making his face soften automatically. He'd offered her his hand, carefully leading her, never breaking contact with those beautiful, clear blue eyes.
It could have been when he'd stepped in front of a gun for her. Gun equals run. And yet, he'd faced the nozzle without any want for all the money he was being offered, determined to keep her safe.
Maybe it was when he had felt the guilt. He never felt guilt - for long, at least. Selfish, she'd called him, and it hurt. And then he'd felt exasperation and...jealousy? She had been hell-bent on getting Jack out. Jack, Jack, Jack.
It could have been when he'd accidentally said, "Only shot we've got," and realized that he had given up everything - tea shop, spot in the resistance, anonymity to the Queen, entire life - to keep her safe.
Maybe it was when he'd asked himself what the hell he was thinking, because there was no good earthly reason for him to decide to be bait for a Jabberwock. He'd seen the monster charge after Alice instead of him, and was overcome by a sheer, chilling terror he'd never felt before, not even when Dodo had shot him.
There was something brewing when he'd felt a jealousy churning in the pit of his stomach at how lucky this Jack guy was. Or when he'd woken up the following morning and had lost all feeling but determination to get Alice back. Or when he'd been overcome by joy when he found her and caught her in his arms.
Because not long after that, he'd realized why he really did save her, and how much a stab in the left side of his chest he'd felt when she accused him of only doing it for personal reasons; on top of that was anger that she'd still favored Jack, despite the fact that the prince had been two-timing her.
It was definitely there by the time he'd leaned down to kiss her, and it was probably why he'd felt the undeniable urge to kill Jack when the Prince was standing at the Knights' Fortress, a clear danger to Alice. It had intensified to a throbbing when he realized Jack was the better choice; that he couldn't have lost her, having never even had her in the first place.
He couldn't remember the last time he'd cried, but tears of frustration and anger had threatened to come spilling out when he let her go.
It was why he'd followed her anyway, had ridden in to attack her captors, and had been tortured by the mad doctors. It was why he'd barely registered the throbbing bruise under his eye and the stinging from the various cuts left by the electric rod when he'd finally been able to hold her in his arms and know that he had her trust.
Now, it was like nothing he'd ever experienced. No combination of cuts and bruises and broken bones could compare to the way his chest ached with emptiness, knowing he may never see her again.
He looked up to make eye contact with Jack. The new king strode over to him, his chin exaltedly stuck up in the air, though not haughtily. Hatter assumed it was just the way he was.
"You can go," he said, motioning towards the looking glass. His voice was slightly annoyed, and Hatter found minor satisfaction in the idea that it might have been his doing. He then pushed the selfish thought aside for a moment; this was about following Alice, something Jack couldn't do, with or without her rejection. Something Hatter could.
Jack scoffed. "Take a step and hope for the best."
Hatter smiled without humor, remaining as polite to his majesty as he could. "I meant, what do I need?"
"Well, for starts, a new outfit." Jack tilted his head to the side. "Except the boots. Those can work. You'll need a job - construction worker should do, for now."
Jack dug into his pocket, retrieving a small, regular, silver house key. "This is the key to my apartment. It's yours now, only a few blocks away from where Alice lives. You'll need to talk with the landlord, of course, to get the lease changed. And you'll need a name. 'Hatter' won't cut it."
Tired of Jack's high and mighty attitude, Hatter told him, "Just because everyone calls me that doesn't mean it's my name."
Jack raised his eyebrows slightly, but said nothing. Instead, he dropped the key into Hatter's outstretched hand and nodded toward the mirror.
Step by step, Hatter ascended the stairs until he was on the same level as the looking glass. As he stood in front of it, staring at his reflection - an odd mix of complete happiness and sheer terror - waiting for the two hands that would push him into the great unknown, he shook his head to himself. He knew that he probably should have checked himself into the nearest asylum when this plan first popped into his mind. But it was where he was now, and there was nothing he or his better judgement could do about it. Actually, he was fairly certain that every part of his judgement was in accordance at the moment. Perhaps he had been mad all along.
"She's over here!" someone called loudly. Pounding, loud and fast, and then a pull at her arms.
"Alice?" a voice whispered in her ear. She knew it well, as well as she knew her own. And if she was right, all she had to do was open her eyes and she would see him, his eyebrows knit together in worry under the brim of his silly hat.
But she couldn't. She was too tired, and though she mentally commanded her limbs to move the slightest inch, she had nothing to show for it. Even if she could move, there were lights shining around her, so bright on her strangely sensitive eyes, sending pain deep to the back of the retina. She wanted to cry when the lights passed over her face, but her body allowed her not even that. It was so much easier to just stop trying...
"Alice..." The voice called to her again. His voice.
Waves of memories came crashing in on her brain: Falling through the mirror, out of the box, into the water...being brought to him and hating him, his attitude, his stupid accent, his dumb hat, his betrayals and strange desires and expectations for her to trust him...having to be stuck with him, wishing she could just get Jack and leave the craziness she hadn't known she would get involved with...
Being saved by him; from the Jabberwock, from the twisted doctors, from the casino and its guards, from the man that killed her father and had moved in on her...
Learning to trust him, to believe the things he said, the promises he gave, hating to say goodbye, wishing he would hug her tighter, pull her closer, tell her to stop, tell her to not leave...
But he was here, wasn't he? She knew that voice, and it had called to her, echoing in her mind...
Alice opened her eyes, blinking a few times as they adjusted to the light and the room around her. She scanned every inch of it.
He wasn't there.
"Alice?" She heard her mother's voice and saw her mother's smiling face instead. It was still welcome, but not quite what she'd been looking for.
"He's gone," Alice realized aloud. No more looking glasses, no more falling, no more Jabberwocks, rabbit assassins, or emotion sapping casinos - if any of it had ever existed in the first place. She couldn't believe - refused to believe - that it had all been a dream. Jack would be here beside her if it wasn't.
Her mother's smile faded. "Who's gone?"
Then it hit her. Charlie, Jack...Hatter...They were all gone. And someone else, someone even more important. "Dad," she choked out, tears threatening to spill down her cheeks.
Her mother came in close and hugged her, drawing the tears out. "Oh, sweetie." She caressed the back of her head, stroking her hair, unsure of the causes behind her daughter's sudden realization. "It's all right, Sweetie, I'm here."
Slowly, her mother released her. "You gave me such a fright," she said, smiling sadly and brushing her daughter's long black hair away from her face.
"How long was I there?" Alice asked. It had been...what? Two days? Three?
"Almost an hour."
Alice let her surprise show. "An hour?" she repeated. How could it possibly have only been an hour? Maybe time was somehow different on the other side of the looking glass. Maybe it moved slower...
Or maybe it had all been a dream.
Her mother nodded, wrongly guessing the reason for Alice's shock. "You were lucky. A construction worker saw that you went into the building."
Building? The building didn't matter. The only important part of that building was the mirror that was inside of it, the mirror she'd fallen through, the mirror that brought her to Wonderland. She'd saved Wonderland, saw Jack take the throne, survived a few near death experiences, found her long-lost father...fell in love.
She remembered every detail of her completely messed up but oddly perfect adventure, then closed her eyes, holding back tears of frustration.
Perfect. Just like a dream.
Alice pushed the key into the lock. It fit, and turned with her wrist. Slightly dazed, she twisted the knob and opened the door, walking slowly into her apartment. She looked around at her familiar home, but there was something about it now, something foreign that she couldn't place.
Her mother, all business, brushed past her, arms swinging and heels clicking with purpose on the wooden floors, oblivious to her daughter's jumbled thoughts on two realities.
Alice was relieved to be back in her world, back home, where she had wanted to be since she'd fallen through that mirror. She shook her head to clear it. She was looking for something different, something that represented her time in Wonderland, proving to her that it wasn't just a dream.
She smiled sadly. There were no signs. There never would be. Only memories and a sort of emptiness, telling her that the adventure was over. She should get on with her life.
At least she knew where to start.
In her room, Alice gently placed the keepsakes from her father into a box, one by one, remembering all the hours she'd spent since the age of ten pouring over every single piece, desperately searching for the one clue that would lead her to him.
She heard her mother's heels. "What's this about?" she asked softly, hiding her slight worry well. She knew her daughter, knew how her father's disappearance had torn her apart.
Alice smiled, though a pain was sitting in her chest as she thought of her father and his too-sudden final departure. She did manage to make eye contact with her mother, showing her she was okay. "I don't need to look for Dad anymore." I found him.
She laid the lid on the box, walked it over to the bed, and placed it underneath, setting it down for a final time. "It's time to move on." He's not coming back.
Alice chose not to look at her mother, knowing her face would probably show more worry at her daughter's obsession. Instead, she focused her concentration on smoothing the creases of time on the old map she'd posted on her wall. As she rolled it up, her eyes jumped from each black sharpie dot to the next, representing all the places she could ever remember her father mentioning, all the places he could be, all the places she would have gone. But Rome and Moscow and Sydney wouldn't have been more than vacations. He'd been in Wonderland the whole time, just a trip through the mirror away.
The doorbell had always been something that Alice hated about the apartment. She didn't jump anymore when it sounded, but it was still loud and obnoxious.
"Oh!" her mother cried as it blared twice. "I almost forgot. The construction worker who found you wanted to stop by and see how you were." Her feet carried her to the door even as she leaned back and added, "Very sweet."
Alice sighed inwardly, finished rolling up the map, and placed it under her bed. All she wanted was peace, quiet, and solitude, to think about and remember Wonderland. It wasn't for the Jabberwock, or flying on a pink flamingo, or being stuck in her house in her mind, poked and prodded by the doctors - because those experiences she definitely could have lived without. It was for Charlie and his "army." It was for Jack and how he wasn't really a traitor. It was for her dad and those last moments she had with him.
It was for Hatter. Hatter, and how that Jabberwock would have gotten her if not for him. How she never would have been able to get on the flamingo if not for him. How she would have kneeled on that single wooden plank until it fell from beneath her if not for him. Her heart had surged when she saw him bruised and battered, but alive. Just thinking of him, it lurched again.
She picked up the worn copy of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, smiling at the parallel to her life.
"Alice!" her mother called then, "Come meet David!"
Alice kept her eyes on the floor as she walked down the hall, lost in memories. When she finally reached the foyer, she looked up. She approached the man, whose back was to her as he talked to her mother. "Here she is," she said upon seeing her daughter.
He spun around quickly, eyes filled with eagerness. He lacked his wine colored, strangely hippie-like shirt and tie, his well-worn light brown leather jacket, and his trademark fedora. The hint of dark circles around his eyes was gone, and it looked like he'd found both a comb and a razor. Still, there was no mistaking Hatter.
It hadn't been a dream.
Despite the fact that her heart was racing and she had to bite her lower lip to keep from letting all her happiness burst out in giggles and smiles, this was something for which she didn't need her mother's presence.
Alice forced herself to walk instead of run the distance between them. Each step grew harder as she approached, seeing his face fall due to her lack of enthusiasm at his arrival. "Hi," she said when she reached him, smiling at him. She stuck out her hand. "I'm Alice."
His mouth parted in a small "o" while he stared at her hand for a brief moment. Then he swallowed and looked at her, taking her hand in his and saying, "David." His eyes searched hers, looking for something, anything. He thought he saw a spark of remembrance, but after blinking, it disappeared. Concluding that she didn't recognize him, he let his hand fall. "It's a pleasure."
To Alice, it looked like it was anything but; he could barely fake his smile, and his eyes held such a forlorn expression that she wanted to hurt herself for putting him through it. She had to get him alone, now. "I heard what you did for me, finding me in that building. I don't know how you did it, but thank you."
He nodded simply. "No problem."
"That may be, but I'd still like to repay you some way." She checked her watch. "It's almost one. Are you hungry? We could do pizza."
"Yeah, that sounds great." He was slowly recovering normal emotion in his voice, but he completely missed her blatant clue.
Not that it was his fault, really. His subconscious registered that she'd asked him a question, and he'd made the correct response. His feet then numbly followed her out the door of the apartment, down the hall, and to the elevator. But there wasn't much else he could feel aside from the aching emptiness in his chest.
Seeing her at first, his heart soared, hopping up to his collarbone and down to his stomach, sending the jitters through him. Before he met her, none of that had existed to him. And then she arrived, soaked to the bone, asking for his help.
He'd been stupid enough to let those emotions get the best of him. He knew this would happen, knew he should have left it as a thing of dreams. Had he gone when he saw her hugging Jack, he would have saved himself this pain and heartache and the embarrassing stupidity of that goodbye. We could do pizza. What had -
He stopped, registering her voice as he joined her in the elevator and the doors closed. He saw her smiling face in her reflection in the elevator doors. He looked to her, one last flicker of hope in him as realization began to dawn. "What?" he asked, his voice full of desperation and desire.
"I said, do you know what I think we should get for you?"
He shook his head, afraid his voice would crack if he said anything. She stepped in closer, enough for him to easily smell her light perfume, smiling brightly at him. "A hat."
"You remember," he said, gathering her in his arms as she snaked hers around his neck, pulling herself even closer to him. He held her tighter, resolved never to let her go lest she fall through another mirror. "Finally," he sighed, at last getting that hug.
"You have no idea how happy I am to see you," she said. Actually, he thought he did have some sort of idea, and it had much to do with the way his stomach was flipping and how all the pain left his chest. Of course, he wouldn't mention that. He'd argued enough with her in Wonderland, and though for some reason he liked the way she drove him mad, he preferred this.
She pulled away to look at him, still unable to fathom that he'd come from Wonderland, through the mirror with little if any chance of getting back, all for her.
As for him, he couldn't believe he'd found her, and that she accepted him as he thought she would only do for Jack. Knowing that, the few inches between them was too much distance. He tilted his head down and kissed her, feeling her grab his jacket and pull him closer after a moment.
All too soon, the elevator came to a halt and the doors opened. Out of her peripheral vision, Alice saw no one waiting. She pushed the button to close the doors, neither of them feeling the need or wanting to stop what they were doing. Pizza could wait.
Wow, that was long. Well, if you made it through, REVIEW! and if you didn't and just figured that you'd scroll down to the bottom for the heck of it, REVIEW anyway! thanks to all the reviews so far - they make my day :)