AN: What stared out as a series of loosely interconnected one-shots that hang off the romance between Alice and Hatter is starting to become a much bigger project. I have lofty goals for this story and I hope I can reach them.

It all starts with a kiss…

In the beginning here, I didn't want to rewrite the whole second part of the mini-series, so when there are gaps in time you may fill them in with the events of the original series.

I do not own or have any rights to Alice, the good folks at SyFy do.

Why am I afraid to feel?

Afraid of what is true

Why am I afraid to feel?

When all I really want is you

Alice was completely prepared to go into the dark unknown and leave behind the two men that had helped her get this far. Despite Hatter's protests, Alice was convinced that making a deal with the Queen was the only way to get herself and Jack home safely. After his outburst around the fire, she doubted either Hatter or Charlie would go along with it. She needed to do this on her terms. She could have stuck with that plan and made a clean getaway, but instead her eyes betrayed her and fell magnetically on a peacefully sleeping Hatter.

Her heart seized at the thought that she would never see him again. Despite her apparent nonchalance regarding his loyalty, she was actually painfully aware of the risks he must be taking to keep her safe. Hatter had left his shop, and presumably his home, quite literally taken a bullet and otherwise put himself in harm's way to help her. She was grateful for his aid and had grown accustomed to his companionship even after such a short time. When he infuriated her, which seemed to be more often than not, she had to fight the uncontrollable urge to smile. He was a concentrated and distilled reflection of this place - so very Wonderland and yet so very Hatter. The mystery surrounding him intrigued her and so often over these past few days she wished that she'd met him under far less dangerous circumstances. If their situation wasn't life or death, could he be her friend, as he hoped to be?

But curiosity was getting the better of her.

All her life Alice just had to know. She had to know what happened to her father which started a global search for his whereabouts. She had to know about the judo class advertised on a flier at the local coffee shop and now she was an instructor. She had to know what would happen with every guy, including Jack, that showed interest in her, resulting in a long string of failed relationships. And right now, she had to know if there was anything to this little fluttering feeling in her chest as she watched her guide and protector in this strange world sleeping.

Alice crept over silently until she was kneeling before him, watching closely for signs of alertness. In the glow of the still-burning fire, his characteristically Wonderland features were perfectly surreal and damn near irresistible. If she was going to do this, she may as well get on with it before Charlie caught her in the act and she died of embarrassment on the spot.

Alice leaned forward achingly slow. She hesitated only a moment before gently pressing her lips to his. Instantly the spark sizzled down her spine like a firecracker. Though his lips were unresponsive in sleep, Hatter stole her breath. Replaced her entire world with the calm, easy rise and fall of his chest as he slept on. It was the answer she had hoped and feared. Her hands trembled, but she couldn't stop now. A rush of excitement and desire drove her to new levels of bravery. Alice dared to tilt her head. To lean in. To press just a little more firmly into the unrequited kiss.

"That's nice," Hatter hummed against her lips.

Alice panicked and pulled away. The words were thick and full of sleep and for a moment she wondered if he was even conscious.

Hatter swallowed the lump that had suddenly appeared in his throat. He slowly opened his eyes and continued, "Whaddya call that?"

"I'm sorry, I - " she hedged, obviously flustered. Really, what was she going to say? Sorry, I gave in to the uncontrollable urge to kiss you just once before I left you alone in the woods with a crazy knight?

"We don't have this in Wonderland," Hatter explained, studying her face even as she looked away sheepishly. The apples of her cheeks were tinged with pink and judging by the heat rising on his own cheeks he assumed his face mirrored hers.

Hatter had always been on the business side of feelings, pawning Tea off to the sorry lot of Wonderland so they could experience the rare pearls that were the wonder of Oyster emotions. But since Alice appeared in his life he'd been experiencing these strange feelings directly from the source. She was intoxicating and Hatter was beginning to worry he was already addicted.

Alice blinked in disbelief. "What?"

"We don't do that - "

"No, I heard you, I just - " Alice trailed off. Hatter had flirted with her since the moment she met him. What was all the innuendo about if Wonderlanders didn't even kiss?

She wet her lips distractedly with a swipe of her tongue and Hatter's eyes were drawn to the action with extreme interest.

"What did you mean when we first met?" she asked. He looked at her blankly and she sighed. She really hated it when she had to spell out awkward things. "About helping me because I was a girl in a very wet dress."

"A pretty girl," he corrected with a lopsided grin.

Flattery. That was just great. Alice pressed on, "Isn't this what you do with all the... pretty girls?" She ground out the last part in an irritable grumble that she refused to recognize as envy.

"No," Hatter mumbled quietly. He moved closer to her; as close as she had been before he'd caught her. She let him. They breathed the same breath. He found he really liked this - whatever this was - that allowed her to be more receptive to him. And closer to him. "Only Oysters do this."

"Kiss," Alice said suddenly.

"Gazuntite," Hatter offered with genuine sympathy.

"No." She shook her head and couldn't help the smile that spread across her face. It was a true smile, one that Hatter saw reach her eyes. "That's what it's called," Alice revealed. "A kiss."

"I think I like 'kiss,'"he told her before closing the distance between them once more.

A kiss, as it turned out, was much more than just lips pressed together. It was a deliciously heady feeling that pooled warmth in the chest and turned the air electric. A kiss quickened the heart and shallowed the breath. These were effects Hatter thought could only come from Tea. But Alice ripped a gaping hole in that theory. Oysters were as tumultuous as the sea and Hatter felt like he was being swept away with the tide. Strangely, he couldn't bring himself to care.

He was happy, almost deliriously so, that she had decided to share this part of her world with him. Then the nagging thought roared unwelcome from the back of his mind.

"Did you do this with Jack?" Hatter asked. He nearly winced at the raw jealousy that permeated his own voice.

Alice frowned and pulled back to sit on her heels. She stood up, signaling their discussion was over.

"Good night, Hatter," she said with finality.

The next morning she was gone.

AN: Rule #1, Hatter - never bring up the ex. Especially if he's not even an ex yet. Don't worry, I'm sure you'll learn the game eventually...

A big Wonderland thank you to beta celticvampriss. She was instrumental in pulling this together