Don't you forget about me
I'll be alone, dancing you know it baby
Going to take you apart
I'll put us back together at heart, baby…
Don't you forget about me.
She shifted silently. She lay on a hard cool surface, and her body felt every bit of it, stiff and sore. Physical exhaustion tugged at her, and only the discomfort of where she laid let her shake off the sleep.
"I knew it… I knew it…" muttered a voice above her, ragged in its despair.
"Hatter?" she asked, still disoriented. She rubbed at her eyes.
"Alice!" Hope colored Hatter's tone. "Where are you?"
"Ugh. I'm on the floor." The young woman groaned and staggered to her feet, hands pressing against the small of her back. "Ow. I think I fell off the bed." From the hospital bed, Hatter stared up at her, wild eyed and nervous. Alice smiled at him. "How do you feel?" she asked.
He blinked. "Like a Scarab ran over me. And, um, restrained. So if you wouldn't mind?"
"Oh god, right!" She made quick work of the strap buckles, releasing Hatter from the bed. He sat up with a groan that was an echo of her own pained noise. She stepped back, in case he wanted to stand, but he paused seated on the edge, just looking at her.
Alice swallowed hard. She couldn't read his expression, and it took her a moment to realize she wasn't sensing his emotions anymore either. The potion had worn off, the treatment was over. She hardly knew what to say. "So, um… Do you remember everything now?"
He nodded. He sat so still and quiet, it made Alice nervous. "Are you sure you're ok, Hatter? You seem…."
"Just say it, Alice."
Thrown by his interruption, she said, "Huh?" inelegantly.
"I remember going after you, and then I kind of remember coming back, you found me and brought me back. So thanks for that. But you should just say it and go." Some strong emotion swirled in his eyes, and tugged his mouth into a grim line.
Alice frowned, putting the disparate clues together. "Do you remember me in your memories?"
He looked away, shifting uncomfortably. "I couldn't really see you when I was reliving them. You were just… a shape. Like a ghost. But with you there, some things were less… anyway, I know you were there, I know you saw it all."
"I'm so sorry, Hatter! I had no idea that would happen; Caterpillar didn't even know what would happen. I would never have invaded your privacy like that had I –"
"Alice!" Hatter stood, whipping off his hat to run a hand through his hair in a frustrated gesture before jamming it back down again. "Quit torturing me."
She covered her mouth with her hand. "What do you want me to say?" she mumbled, utterly confused.
His face screwed up into an expression of frustration and misery. "Just tell me you don't want me and go already."
Speech utterly deserted her. How could he think that? Instead of speaking, Alice launched herself at him, wrapping her arms around his neck. She only caught a glimpse of his shocked face before she fused her lips to his, kissing him for all she was worth.
For one terrifying moment, he froze under her attack. Then Hatter's hands grasped her waist and dragged her closer, his mouth softening under hers, kissing her back with passion.
It was electric, far more than the sweet soft kisses she'd shared with him when he had no memory. 'David' had no memory of their connection, no shared danger or even time together to infuse their kisses with passion. Hatter had years of longing for something more to drive him, the days of running and fear and fighting together, the desire and need that drove him to leap through the Looking Glass for her, damn the consequences. Alice melted into him, trying to let him know how much she did want him.
They pulled apart, and her eyes fluttered open as she felt his warm breath on her face. He still looked surprised, but much happier.
"I do want you, Hatter. I love you," she told him earnestly.
"No buts!" She tightened her arms. "They were all wrong about you! You're wonderful. You're smart and brave and decent and … and gorgeous and you're my hero!" She couldn't stop the tears that pricked at her eyes. She needed to convince him. "I love you, and I'd do anything for you, Hatter. My Hatter."
Joy lit up his face with an awed expression. His arms wrapped around her tightly and he buried his face into her shoulder as he hugged her close. "My Alice," he muttered against her neck, the brush of his lips making her shiver. "I love you so much." They held on to one another, reveling in being together at last, knowing exactly how much each meant to the other.
The click and scrape of the locks on the door separated them, though Alice trailed one hand down Hatter's arm to grasp his hand, curling her fingers around his. The crooked smile he gave her was wry and pleased, his dimple pulling at his cheek and making her heart flutter in her chest.
The door opened to reveal Caterpillar blinking blankly from behind his glasses. "I see the treatment was a success," he commented dryly.
"Fit as a foghorn," Hatter announced cheekily.
"Fiddle," Alice corrected, a laugh behind her voice.
"Whatever," Hatter shrugged. He winked at her.
Caterpillar watched the exchange with an interested expression, the way someone might watch the activity of insects. He stepped back wordlessly, inviting them to escape the barren hospital room.
In the hall, both Alice and Hatter froze to see King Jack with his retainers waiting for them.
"Alice," Jack greeted her warmly with a small bow. He nodded politely to Hatter. To the former conman, he said, "You might have come to me, you know."
Hatter gave him a sardonic look of disbelief. "Oh, really?"
"Yes. I, and all Wonderland, owe you a great debt for the assistance you gave Alice."
Hatter's expression clearly displayed his skepticism, but before he could speak, Alice said, "That's nice, Jack. So there's no problem with Hatter getting the inoculation he needs?"
"None whatsoever." Jack gestured to one of his flunkies, who produced a small black case that when opened, contained a single syringe.
Hatter wordlessly extended his left arm. He held his jacket tight in that fist, his right hand still holding onto Alice's hand. Caterpillar took the syringe and injected Hatter, who didn't even flinch as the needle slid into him.
"How long?" the former tea dealer asked.
"The effects are instant," Jack told him.
"Good," Alice said. She looked up at Hatter. "Let's go home."
"Actually, if you could spare some time, I do have a proposition for Hatter that would –"
"Jack – shut up." Everyone looked at Alice in shock, even Hatter. "It's been a hell of a week, and if you don't mind, I want to take my boyfriend home and lock ourselves in his apartment for the next twenty-four hours or so. If you've got a business proposition for Hatter, you call on Monday like a normal person." With that, Alice pulled on Hatter's hand, leading him away from Jack, Caterpillar, and the other mad denizens of Wonderland.
Hatter grinned broadly over his shoulder at Jack before eagerly following Alice.
"That was fantastic," Hatter whispered as they rode the transport back to the Looking Glass Hall, his voice hushed in deference to the Suits piloting the thing.
"You, telling off Jack."
Alice snickered. "You're impossible, Hatter. Of course that would amuse you."
He shrugged a little, before pulling her closer, letting his lips brush her ear as he spoke. "I especially liked your idea of how to spend the rest of the weekend." He was pleased to see the little shudder that went through her. "It's an interesting change from the sweet woman that took care of me for a week. I didn't know you had it in you, Alice my love."
Her grip tightened on his hand and she leaned into him, pressing her body against him. "I wasn't going to take advantage of an amnesiac, for goodness's sake," she replied, the sharpness of her words lessened by the breathy quality of her voice. If the Suits hadn't been present, Hatter would have snogged her senseless right there.
"So now that I have my memory back, you are going to take advantage of me?" he asked with a smirk.
Her eyes caught his, dark and stormy and full of promise. "You better believe it. And you're going to enjoy it."
It was Hatter who shivered at that.
Both of them stumbled upon arrival in the warehouse, but like the trip to Wonderland, their grip on one another helped balance them both. Alice's eyes immediately sought Hatter's, and she gave a relieved sigh when his grin and nod told her that this time, he retained his memory.
They snuck out of the construction site, re-locking the padlock behind them. Alice quickly hailed a cab, and they shared a number of heated looks as they politely but impatiently waited for the short ride to finish.
The moment his building's elevator doors closed behind them, Hatter yanked Alice close to kiss her hard and passionately. Alice moaned happily against his lips, an eager participant in the activity.
Hurrying down the hall on his floor, Hatter dropped the key to his apartment twice trying to get the door open, his attempts hampered by Alice's quick hands already busily unbuttoning his shirt. He managed at last to unlock the door, shoving Alice through and slamming it behind them. Alice gleefully tossed her bag and jacket aside, and reached for him, pushing his jacket and shirt off his shoulders in one move. They left a trail of clothing behind them as they blindly made their way to the bedroom, never fully relinquishing their hold on one another. There would be time enough for slow and tender later; for now, they fell together onto the bed, both eager, both excited, both needing to make that ultimate connection.
Hatter gasped with a sensation of coming home at last as he slid into Alice's body, her arms and legs drawing him close. Alice flung back her head with a pleasured moan as Hatter filled her, delighted to be fully joined with him.
They moved together and they cried out together and they both laughed with joy.
Hatter stared at the face of the woman cradled in his arms. He could almost count her eyelashes as they lay against her flushed cheek, and he reminded himself to do that at some point, to add that number to all the other marvelous things he knew about Alice. He looked forward to spending the rest of his life learning about her.
"I wish…" she whispered softly.
"What, my love?" he asked.
"I wish I could let you see my whole life, just like I saw yours." Her eyes opened, and he smiled as their gazes locked. "It's not fair, that I know all about you," Alice insisted.
"I have no problem taking the time to get to know everything about you, without injections and crazy dreams," Hatter told her.
She frowned a little. "Do you really remember-remember me? Like under the stairs, or the day…" She hesitated, unwilling to stir up bad memories for him.
"No, it's not like that," he told her. He shifted a little, adjusting their positions so they were pressed even closer together. "I can't really explain it. I don't remember anyone ever trying to stop Flower. But as I was reliving it, it was like… like all the times I wanted someone to be there, you were." He shook his head, then placed a kiss on her nose. "It doesn't matter. I'm just relieved that you still want me, after seeing all that."
Alice propped herself up on an elbow, so she could look at him properly. Her expression was dead serious as she told him, "I would never not want you, Hatter."
He glanced away. "There's a lot of my life I'm not proud of, Alice…"
"It doesn't matter," she echoed him. "You didn't ask for it, you didn't deserve the life you had to lead, and you did your best. You chose to get dry, right? You worked in the tea shop on the Resistance's orders, but you did the best you could."
"I didn't exactly do it all for them…"
"It doesn't matter. You survived, and if you hadn't, you wouldn't have been the Man Who Knows, and then Ratty wouldn't have brought me to you, and then where would we be?"
Hatter couldn't help chuckling at her tortured logic. "Well, you have a point there." He combed his fingers through her hair, enjoying the silky feel against his hand. Very softly, he told her, "All my life, I think I was waiting for you. I love you."
Alice smiled sweetly. "I love you too."
Jack sent a Suit to call on Hatter with an offer to work for the White Rabbit, acquiring items and arranging shipments through the Looking Glass of things Wonderland needed to get itself functioning properly again. Hatter thought about it for a week, and made a counter offer that if Jack helped him get a normal business started, then Hatter would allow that business to front for the White Rabbit operations.
It was Alice's suggestion to start a coffeehouse, or rather, to buy an existing one that she knew was about to close, and adjust it to suit. Hatter wrinkled his nose at the idea of selling coffee, but eventually conceded that coffee was far more popular than tea. He ended up offering both, plus pastries from a local supplier, and full cream teas on Saturdays.
Several days after their return from Wonderland, Alice admitted to her mother that she'd 'met someone new'. A short time after that, she invited Hatter over for dinner to meet her mother. By then, Hatter had started his business, and Carol Hamilton allowed herself to be charmed by the young 'Englishman', though she teased Alice about her newfound taste for British men.
Alice conscientiously told Hatter stories from her past. Some of the tales made them both laugh, others would leave her in tears as Hatter comforted her. She always admired his strength, how he never let his horrible past drag him down.
Hatter eventually discovered that Alice had forty-seven lashes on her right eyelid, and forty-nine on her left. She also had a scar on one thigh from when she fell out of a tree at age twelve and needed seven stitches. She preferred butter and Nutella to jam on her toast, she liked her eggs scrambled, and he could make her lose her train of thought by brushing her hair aside and planting kisses across the back of her neck.
In time, more and more of Alice's things made their way from her mother's place to Hatter's apartment. The official migration occurred one rainy weekend.
Alice sat cross-legged on one end the couch, a laptop balanced on her knees as she internet-shopped for boots. Hatter sprawled across the rest of the couch, half reading a book, half watching her.
"I'm just going to have these delivered here, alright? I'm here most of the time anyway," Alice announced, as her fingers quickly entered information on the screen.
"Why don't you be here all the time?" Hatter suggested casually.
Their eyes met, and a slow smile crept across Alice's face. "Really?" she asked.
She set aside the laptop and crawled up the length of his body so she could kiss him. "Alright then."
They still argued and pouted and laughed and chased each other around the apartment and fought about laundry and grocery shopping. There were tears and confessions and reassurances and make-up sex and celebrations and disappointments. There was joy and commitment and contentment.
And there were nights when Hatter ran his fingers through Alice's hair, and reverently whispered "My dark lady" against her skin between kisses, and Alice held him close and swore she'd never forget her responsibility for his heart.
AN: Sorry about the delay on this chapter. After Ch 2, my muse decamped to locales unknown, and the understudy muse had to come in for this one. I'm not crazy about it, but at least it's a decent ending.