Twenty-Two Years Part Three
Victor's bag lay on the ground torn open and he watched as two flying monkeys were there picking through it before they flew away. "No Victor! I told you not to let them touch you! But you just had to get too close. Oh how am I going to explain this to Elizabeth?"
"Explain what?" Victor asked climbing up the hill behind him.
"Victor you are alive!" He hugged his friend tight much to Victor's protest. "I thought for sure the flying monkeys got you when I saw your bag on the ground!"
"I dropped it when they turned on me. I took your warning to heart. I don't want to be a flying monkey I just wanted to study it."
"Thank goodness at least one of us listens to warnings!"
"Yes indeed. Now please unhand me and let's go get those slippers for Rumple before the flying monkeys do return in more numbers."
"I never did listen to your warnings about Regina." Jefferson whispered to himself. "And look at what it got me." The opening of his cell door brought him out of his daydream back to his present situation, stuck in the psych ward in the Storybrooke Hospital.
"It is about time you came to see me."
"Yes sorry about the wait. I spent most of yesterday and last night going over your writings with Doctor Hopper. It was so late I just figure it was better to get some sleep and see you in the morning. With that being said, Good morning Mr. Jones."
"What is good about it Doc?" Jefferson asked sitting up on the bed to face him. "I have wanted out of that house for over twenty years and she finally lets me out and all I get is a different prison cell."
"Mr. Jones you have only been in that house up there for two years."
"First of all don't call me Mr. Jones, you know I hate it. My name is Jefferson. But what I want to know is how did she get you here too Victor?" He looked at him sadly shaking his head.
"My name isn't Victor. It is Doctor James Whale."
Jefferson looked him over shaking his head slightly. "I thought you would be safe back in your colorless world. But she couldn't let what we did to her go."
"What do you think we did to her Mr. Jones?"
Jefferson left out huff at the use of his last name again.
"Sorry." Doctor Whale readjusted himself on his chair. "What do you think we did to her Jefferson?"
"Rumple hired us to make her believe her long dead boyfriend could be brought back to life. But as Rum always said 'Dead is dead dearie.'" Jefferson did his best to mock Rumple's laugh but it only made him sound crazier. "The old you would have laughed and mocked one of Rumple's over the top mannerisms too." He looked away and sadly whispered. "I miss the old days so much."
"You think I am Frankenstein. Don't you?"
Jefferson look at him leaning forward on the bed. "Yes, how did you know? Did you remember something? Or is it nightmares? I thought my nightmares where just part of my curse but if you are having dreams then maybe Regina has done it to everyone." He ran on excited.
"No Jefferson, remember Mayor Mills thought it best Archie and I go through your notebooks. You seem to have a storybook identity for everyone in town, even down to some of the children."
Jefferson stood up clearly uncomfortable. "Regina told you about Grace."
"If you mean Paige then yes."
"Her name is Grace, and she is my daughter. She is the only thing I have left from my old life. And the old you would know that!"
"Why would the old me know that?"
"Because you were there when I married her mother, and you were there when Alice gave birth to her."
"I will give it to your imagination. Out of all my patients who have suffered breaks with reality none of them have a story anywhere as interesting and twisted as yours. I mean Alice marrying the Mad Hatter, and the best man is Victor Frankenstein."
"I wasn't the Mad Hatter then."
"Jefferson you are smart man. You must realize how mad you sound, don't you?"
"I am not mad, I just remember. You are only judging it based on your fake memories from living in this cursed non-magical world. You don't remember traveling to different worlds…"
"Yes I read the notebooks Jefferson. You seem to think we were good friends who traveled between worlds. The Oz story was my favorite, it wasn't as dark as most of the stories seem to be. I liked how you let Dorthy keep the slippers even when your master Rumplestiltskin wanted them."
"Rumple was my business partner not Master. And I made the call that Dorthy needed them more than Rumple did."
Whale gave a nod before continuing. "I personally didn't care for the Dracula part, and I like it even less now considering I am supposed to be Frankenstein." Victor had an uncomfortable and far off look in his eyes as if he was remembering Elizabeth dying in this arms.
"Aurora never did forgive herself for that. She had nightmares about it for months. And I am sure they would have lasted longer if she hadn't died."
"Yes, well now that you brought up Aurora, let's talk about her."
"No." Jefferson shook his head and sat back down on the bed. His eyes grew bigger as he saw Aurora appear behind Victor. "No, not again…." He muttered. "I thought I would be free of this all if I just got out of the house."
"I think we need to discuss her. She is a symbol for something. What do you think that is?"
"For everything I could have had, but let it literally slip through my fingers because I couldn't hold on to her in the water." Jefferson watched Aurora walk over and sit down beside him on the bed. She reached out and placed her hand on his. "It was all my fault." He whispered looking Aurora's ghost in the eyes.
"The accident was just that Jefferson, an accident." Victor looked through his file a moment before adding. "According to the police report you didn't have a seat belt on and you hit the windshield. That scar…"
"Regina lies Victor you know that."
"You should really call me Doctor Whale."
"You know how the curse works no one remembers but you and Regina. So don't be so angry with him." Aurora reminded him. "Just talk to him. I know you have wished to talk to him so many times over the last twenty-two years."
"I can't talk to him." Jefferson harshly replied to Aurora. "He is no more real than the ghost of Victor I see up in my house."
"Don't talk to me in front of him!" Aurora shook her head at him. "He is going to think you are crazy."
"It is a little late for that." Jefferson laughed.
"Oh now you really did it. He's writing down things in his notebook. He only does that when he's serious and…"
"He never lets me see his bloody notes…" Jefferson shook his head sadly.
"Jefferson," Whale raised an eyebrow at him, "whom do you think you are talking too?"
Jefferson laughed. "Echoes of the past. All part of Regina's curse." At least I hope they are part of the curse, but maybe I am just farther gone than I thought. "I am the only one who can see them."
"Them? Who do you believe you see?"
"Right now; Aurora."
Victor noticed how Jefferson looked off to his side and his fingers where moving like he was rubbing someone hand, but there was no one there.
"Who else have you seen?"
"You… well the real you, in your best steampunk mad scientist garb in full black and white glory." Jefferson smirked for a second at the memory of his old friend before adding. "Alice, Rumple, Maleficent, my father, and on the worst days Grace."
"If you believe Grace is your daughter why doesn't seeing her make you feel good."
"Because I know the echoes aren't real."
"You do?" Victor asked, his eyes going to Jefferson's hand.
Jefferson saw where he was looking. He pulled back his hand from Aurora watching her disappear. "Yes." He rubbed it with his other hand.
"Are these people haunting you?"
"I am sure that is what Regina wanted but I wouldn't say haunting is the right term at least not on most days."
"How does it feel most days?
"Like an old friend has come to visit me, like my horrible past wasn't real and maybe things will be alright again, but…"
"But then I remember the truth and all this is all a lie and that I am basically talking to myself and things will never be alright again. But when they are the only thing you have to talk to, other than Regina for twenty-two years then you may treat them as real too. At least most of the time conversations with them didn't end in full out screaming matches."
"Yes Regina did say you were fighting more. She still cares very deeply for you."
Jefferson laughed. "She is the one who is obsessed with me. Couldn't let me move on with Aurora, or Alice, and she took me from Grace all because I didn't love her when she finally got around to deciding she wanted me. I gave her hope and took it away when she needed it most. She made sure I wouldn't forget that and that is why I am stuck remembering everything, while everyone else gets to live out this sick twisted fairytale of hers."
"I believe you are just feeling guilty about the accident the severe trauma you experienced seems to have you stuck in that emotion. It is just Doctor Hopper and my job to make you realize you don't need to feel guilty."
"You think I have some kind of survivor's guilt?"
"Yes but you didn't hurt anyone."
"That is where you are wrong, I have hurt more people than I even know, thanks to things I did for Rumple or Regina. So tell me Doc does survivor's guilt actually go away if you really are responsible for all the horrible things that have happened in your life?"
Not having an answer Victor directed the conversation back to the visions. "Do you want these visions to end?"
"I want this whole bloody mess to end Doc, but at the same times these conversations with Aurora or Alice can bring great comfort at least for a few minutes in my otherwise bleak existence. No one wants to be alone."
"Not even if it is a lie?" Victor asked.
"Not even if it is a lie."
The two of them sat there in an uncomfortable silence for a few moments before Jefferson spoke. "The echoes aren't going to go away because Regina made sure I would remember both sets of memories. The real ones and the fake ones."
"Why would she do that? She loves you."
"Because I hurt her; and she may think she still loves me but she wants me to suffer like she believes I made her suffer all these years."
"Again if this has to deal with the baby and the accident…"
"It has nothing to do with that Doc, because that isn't real. None of this is real. We are all cursed and because of how close I was to Regina I am being punished the worst. Two sets of memories each extremely painful fighting for control. It doesn't matter which I remember at any given time they are both horrible."
"You said you were not the only one to wrong her. You believe Mr. Gold and I are equally to blame for us all being cursed here, so why were you picked to remember when no else was?"
"Because I gave her hope for love and happiness, a possible happy ending to what was becoming a horrible life. But then I took it all away from her when I fell in love with Aurora."
"Yes back to Aurora. You just said you know she isn't real."
"Her echo isn't real. But she was real once." He shook his head sadly adding. "And if Regina would have just ran away with me when I asked, then I never would have met Aurora and then maybe none of us would be stuck in this non magical world."
"So you think it is all Regina's fault?"
"Yes. No. It's not that simple. I did… We did…" he stopped taking a deep breath. "Rumple did so much to her but she didn't want to escape it with me. And she changed into the monster Rumple wanted her to be, which cause me to fall out of love with her. Now I am paying the price for thinking I could get away from her not just once but twice."
"Yes Alice and Grace."
"Yes let's talking about Alice, because I am seeing a pattern here Jefferson."
"Yes, first you said Regina stopped you from happiness with her. Next you think she stopped you from having happiness with Aurora. It seems from your writings that this Frankenstein helps you find some happiness with Alice."
"Yes you wouldn't let it go until I against my better judgment finally gave into my feelings for Alice."
"Yes well…" Victor shifted in his seat uncomfortable with Jefferson suggestion but decided to play along. "Well what are friends for if not to help the other out in a time of need." He paused a moment looking through the papers. "What happened to Alice? I didn't see that in the notebooks anywhere. I take it Regina led to her death too?"
"Yes, well not really. It was my own doing, pushing our luck one too many times. It was Regina's mother the Queen of Hearts, she killed Alice as punishment for us stealing from her. The Queen of Hearts wanted a way back to our world."
"A way back? Where were you if you were not in your world?"
"In Wonderland, I know you don't remember but it isn't part of the Enchanted Forest where I am from. Alice loved it there, but I ruined it when I let Rumple talk me into using my looking glass to send Regina's mother there and all those years later she killed my wife for it. Then when Regina left me there her mother demanded I make a new portal to take her home. I was forced to make hats over and over again but I didn't have the magical ability to get them to work."
"Yes I see now. You blame Regina for everything bad that has happened to you."
"I am not stupid I know it wasn't all her fault. I am as much to blame for the mess which became my life as she is or Rumple."
"Yes life is like a storybook and we all play of parts. But we are the writers of our own stories. Jefferson, we just have to find a way to let you feel like you are back in charge of writing your life. See the human mind makes things up all the time to better cope with the world around us. Doctor Hopper and I both agree the best treatment is to get all these characters and stories you remember out on paper. Then we can figure out why it is that you believe in this Fairy Tale world. Once we understand the reason behind it all we can help you realize how good of a life you have here in Storybrooke and things can return to the normalcy you had before the accident."
He finished writing something done in his notes and stood up. "I think to start off I will met with you once a day and Doctor Hopper wishes to do the same. How does that sound."
"That sounds great Doc." Jefferson agreed jumping up to give Victor a hug before the Doctor could stop him. Jefferson couldn't help but smile at Victor's awkwardness and as the Doctor pulled away he was able to palm his keycard.
Doctor Whale never one for someone other than a beautiful woman breaking his personal space bubble freaked out pulling back and going all formal again. "Now Mr. Jones no touching. Our session is over for today, but I will be back tomorrow."
"Yes tomorrow." Jefferson muttered backing away to the side of the door. "When is lunch?"
"When is that? It seem my spacious accommodation are missing a clock."
Doctor Whale pulled out his fancy pocket watch and Jefferson recognized as the one he got after his brother had died. At least Regina had let him keep that watch, I know how precious it was too him.
"About an hour."
Jefferson nodded his head as the Doctor exited the room he slid over placing the keycard over the locking device before the door could close. An hour I have an hour before anyone notices I am gone. He thought as he forced himself to silently count to hundred before slowly opening the door. The hallway was empty.
He already had on some white scrubs similar enough to the orderlies that if he just threw on a lab coat he could easily walk out the front door. "Don't let me down Doc." Jefferson muttered as he opened the door which was labeled Doctor Whale's Office.
Seeing no one inside he pushed opened the door and took the lab coat which was laying over the chair. Grabbing a clip board he used it to block his face as he walked by the nurse who didn't even bother to look up from her paperwork as he exited up the stairs.
He made it over to the front doors but as the doors open Jefferson hit the invisible barrier, and fell back to the floor losing the clip board. "No!" He whispered staring up as the doors closed.
"Jefferson you really didn't think I would let you have free range of the town now did you?"
"Regina." He growled getting to his feet and turning around. "Have you been waiting this whole time?"
"No, I just happened to be in to check on the pathetic Snow White and her sleeping Prince Charming." She looked him up and down. "No you my dear Jefferson are just an added bonus to my day."
"Well as always I am happy to be the only one who can willing change the day for you." He pushed her up against the wall. "You have had your fun these last twenty-two years, now knock it off Regina and let me out."
"STOP!" She screamed over playing the whole situation. "Stop Jefferson you are hurting me!"
"Madam Mayor?" Doctor Whale's voice called over. "Jefferson how did you get out of your room?"
"How in deed?" Regina hissed pulling away from Jefferson moving behind Victor. "I would have thought this hospital would have better security. As Mayor I can look into just…"
"That won't be necessary Madam Mayor." Doctor Whale cut her off as he took ahold of Jefferson's arm. "I assure you this won't happen again." He reassured her as he led Jefferson back down to his room.
Doctor Whale pulled Jefferson into his room leading him over to the bed. "You can't go stealing my keycard and getting out again. We are all here to make you better Jefferson but if we can't trust one another this isn't going to work."
Jefferson gave a sharp nod of his head which seemed to satisfy the Doctor so he left. Jefferson looked around his room and thoughts of his imprisonment in King George's Dungeons flashed through his mind.
Prince James laughed "I think it is so inspiring the faith that you have that you will somehow get out of this cell, and not die here." He tossed the half eaten turkey leg to the pig at his feet.
"Oh I am sorry Hatter am I boring you?"
Jefferson opened his eyes. "Always."
"Well I have something to make your life interesting." He picked up the bowl of fruit and the pitcher of water. He turned the fruit bowl upside down dumping the fresh fruit to the dirty floor. The pig James had brought in the cell with him started eating the closest piece. James poured the water into the bowl. "I am sure you are quite thirsty." He placed it on the ground in front of the pig.
Jefferson clutched his fists thinking the jerk had been talking to him not the pig.
The pig drank its fill and then walked back over to the discarded fruit. James picked up the bowl, "Oh look Jefferson." He walked over towards him. "The pig was thoughtful he left some for you."
Jefferson looked down into the bowl James placed beside him. The water had bits of chewed fruit, mud, and pig saliva in it. "Well that was awful thoughtful of him, he shouldn't have." Jefferson wrinkled his nose at the mess in the bowl.
"I am going to leave the food on the table. I know you pride yourself on being resourceful Hatter so you should enjoy the challenge of trying to get your meal. And it will be the only meal you will get today." He leashed the pig and pulled it back out the door with him.
Jefferson remember how he had struggled to get to the food, but his chains had made it impossible and he had to settle for just drinking the leftover pig slop. He remembered how his stomach growled and everything hurt. "Rumple." He whispered. "He really must be cursed as Regina said, to have let this go on for so many years. Dear God I am going to die here, aren't I?
"I will not die here!" Jefferson shouted as he bolted up in bed. "Rumple maybe as cursed as the rest of them but he wouldn't let Regina win. The Dark One always gets what he wants. The only question is how many more years until it happens?
He looked around at the tiny white room. "The cell James stuck me was so much bigger than this. But at least here I will have someone intelligent to talk to and three square meals a day." He muttered as he settled back down on the bed waiting for whatever was coming next.
Author's Note: The second flashback can be found in full in Chapter Six of my story Breaking The Hatter.