"Jefferson your face."
"It's not that bad, you should see the other guy." He joked right before Alice jumped into his arms. "Well now I feel better. But we should wait until we are back home and safe before we do too much of this." He gave her a quick kiss on the cheek before he pulled back and took her hand leading her back through the Queen of Hearts maze towards his portal and their way home.
"Wait something isn't right." He stopped looking around.
"What is it?"
"This isn't the way we came. There should have been a right turn here." He pulled away from Alice as he turned around in a circle. "Bloody Hell I hate Wonderland; the damn maze changed, on us."
"Which way should we go?"
"All ways lead to death. Which way do you want to die?"
The voice stopped him and he look around for who was talking. "Die? How about old and surrounded by lots of grandbabies and my riches?"
A huge grin appeared floating in the air quickly followed by the rest of the Cheshire Cat.
"Ches!" He exclaimed. "What is going on here?"
"It is the Queen of Hearts she doesn't plan on letting you two get out of here alive."
"Please Wonderland is basically our home away from home, she isn't going to be able to keep us here." Alice said bravely.
"All entrances are blocked and the maze walls will eat you alive. So best of luck Hatter and Alice but I think I won't be seeing you again." The cat started to disappear.
"Ches! You can't just leave us!" He shouted. "Damn it at least give us a riddle or something just as ridiculous and Wonderland like to figure out a way out of this maze.
"No riddle will save you, death is in the air." And with that last comment the cat disappeared completely.
Alice looked worried as he took her hand. "Don't worry we will be home in time for tea. We have been in much worse situations than this." He gave her hand a quick kiss. "Quickly it was supposed to be a right so let's go until the next right."
She gave a quick nod and they started running again. He lead her down to the right, then left, a quick right, and then two more lefts before they skidded to a stop. "No!" He had found the way out but there in front of the portal was the Queen herself, four guards and strangely enough their friend Will. He looked at Will confused at him being there at the side of the Queen of Hearts.
"There you are." The Queen smiled evilly. "I was starting to think the walls got you and I wouldn't have the pleasure of killing you myself."
He protectively moved in front of Alice, as his eyes darted around trying to figure a way out of this mess. What is Will doing with the Queen of Hearts? He wondered. Where is Anastasia?
The Queen and Will moved forward.
"How did you get here?"
"We didn't mean to trespass. See there was this white rabbit." Alice started moving up beside him.
"Yes, we got lost in the maze." He tried to play it off like they had just stumbled down into this all not knowing.
"Silence!" The Queen roared. And with a wave of her hand his travel bag appeared in her hand. "I know who you two really are, as does my new Knave."
"Your new Knave?" Alice muttered a worried looked crossed her face as she looked from Will to Jefferson.
The Queen reached in and pulled out the gem stone they had stolen from her vault. "Who are you working for Hatter? Is it my daughter?"
"Your daughter?" He asked confused at her accusation.
"Yes, she had this same mirror. She pushed me through it and I found myself here. So you must be working for Regina."
"Regina! You are Regina's mother?" He shook his head waving his arms. "No, I don't work for her."
"You are lying!" The Queen shouted waving her hand and sending a wave of pain dropping both him and Alice their knees. "I remember seeing you in her court the days before I came to be stuck here. Tell me Hatter how is my daughter doing?"
"I haven't seen you daughter in five years" he grimace through the pain of the spell, "and I would like to keep it that way."
"Well you won't get to keep your wish; you are going to take me to her."
"No I can't do that."
"Guards bring me his wife."
"NO!" He shouted getting to his feet trying to stop the guards from taking Alice. But there were too many of them. Two guards forced him back down to his knees as the other two took his wife over in front of the Queen. "NO, Will please do something. What are you doing with her?" He cried out as he struggled against the guards.
Will looked like he wanted to say something but he couldn't.
"Your friend won't be any help this time Hatter. You see I have his heart."
"I can't take you back home; if you have control of Will you know that."
"Yes the rule of the hat. But I plan on fixing the problem. You see your wife is no longer needed." She thrust her hand into Alice's chest.
"NO, ALICE!" he screamed as Cora stood there with Alice's bright red heart in her hand. "Please don't, I can take you, just don't hurt her! We have a daughter, please!"
"A daughter?" Cora looked from Jefferson to Alice. "That is something you should have thought about before deciding to steal something from me."
"Please. I swear I will take you back to Regina, just let Alice ago." He pleaded tears falling down his face.
Will pulled his sword placing it at his Queen's throat. "Put Alice's heart back."
"Is that any way to talk to your Queen, Knave. Now lower your sword."
"No." Will hissed out as he tried his best to fight for control, the sword shaking slightly in his hand. "Put Alice's heart back my Majesty."
"Oh I don't have time for this. Guards!"
The two guards who had, had been holding Alice moved forward and Will attacked them.
Seeing this as his only chance Jefferson fought back breaking free from the guards. He turned pulling out a vial of poppy dust from his jacket and blowing it into the one's helmet, as he pulled out the guard's sword. He turned before the guard could hit the ground stabbing the second guard. He pulled out the sword facing Cora who gave Alice's heart a little squeeze.
Alice cried out in pain falling forward on all four as she fought to catch her breath. "Jefferson!" she choked out.
"Alice it's going to be alright. Please your Majesty; there is a deal to be made here. Just put her heart back and we can make one."
"You stupid boy! Do I look like Rumplestiltskin? I do not make deals. I only get what I want!" She crushed Alice's heart.
He screamed as he watched Alice's heart grow dark and turned to dust in The Queen of Hearts' hand. Alice fell face first to the ground. "No, no, no, Alice! My Alice…" He cried as he rolled her over and hugged her close.
The Queen of Hearts stood over top of him. "Now you will…"
She never got it finish Will hit from behind with the base of his sword knocking her out. "Jefferson…" Will wiped some blood off his face from his fight with the guards as he looked down at Alice. "Oh God, mate, I am so sorry…" He shielded his sword.
"She is dead Will… I couldn't… Alice is dead." He looked up at him. "What I am supposed to do now? Grace… Her mother is dead."
"Jefferson I am sorry. Truly I am; Alice was as much my mate as you are." Will grabbed him by the shoulders. "But The Queen of Hearts has my heart and I am barely hanging on here to control even with her knocked out. Take Alice back home and never come back here. Do you hear me?" Will gave him a shake, but he just sat there holding his dead wife.
"Damn it Jefferson!" Will yelled pulling him to his feet helping him carry Alice to the portal.
"I will come back for you."
"No, you can't."
"I can't leave you under her control. She is going to kill you for helping us…." He trailed off realizing there were no long an us. Alice was gone.
"You can leave me and you will. Believe me I got what I deserved and she won't kill me. I am too important to her."
"Where is Anastasia?"
"I lost her mate. She is as good as dead to me."
"She loved you."
"Well that turned out to not be true. Now go home Jefferson your daughter needs you more than ever. Never come back here, the Queen will kill you on sight now." And with that last comment Will pushed him through the portal.
Jefferson felt like he was free falling and he woke with a start in his bed. The clock blinked 8:15 and the book Alice's Adventures In Wonderland laid there mocking him. He picked up the book. "How the hell do these books keep getting here? I don't even remember reading anything before bed!" He screamed in frustration throwing it across the room.
Jefferson felt drawn to his work room. The work table was a mess, there were scraps of materials, scissors, tape measures, and papers holding all kinds of design ideas. He drifted over to the table picking up the designs, he flipped through them. There was the design for a simple enough looking hat, several for different little girl dresses, and one for a white rabbit doll.
"I know it isn't the same as what you wanted." He sat down in front of his little girl.
"I love it Papa. Thank you." She smiled as she poured the homemade doll a cup of tea.
Jefferson shook his head placing the papers back on the table. He walked over to the window spotting the telescope. He leaned over looking through it. The scope had been focused on the school playground.
Why would I have it focused there? He thought, as he brought his hand up to move it. But just then a young girl with dirty blonde hair ran in front of swings he stopped. He focused on her and followed her as she ran around the playground with her friends.
"Why does she look so familiar?" He muttered to himself.
"Because she is our daughter."
Jefferson turned at the sound of her voice. "Alice?" He shook his head. "You aren't real. I don't have a wife or a daughter."
"Don't you remember me? Remember our home or our daughter in the…"
"Enchanted Forest." Jefferson whispered finishing her sentence.
"Yes." Alice smiled. "You do remember, don't you my love?"
"Grace…" Jefferson whispered. "Our Grace… my Grace." He looked up to Alice tears playing at his eyes.
She walked over beside him at the telescope. "Do you also recall what happened to separate us all?"
"You died. I couldn't save you."
"My death isn't your fault Jefferson. I talked you into taking that job. We both knew Wonderland wasn't a safe place to visit let alone steal in anymore. My death is on me." She looked through the telescope watching Grace play. "She has grown up nicely in the almost four years since I have been gone."
"I tried my best, but we had even less than what we had when you were still alive, because I gave up the Hat. I was too scared to do jobs. I made sure she had all she needed to eat, but really we were barely hanging on. I…" He closed his eyes remembering Regina standing there in his home offering him a job. "I messed up. Regina found us. She offered me a job explaining if I did what she wanted Grace would want for nothing. I thought I need to do it, for her, for us. But she…."
He trailed off hearing Grace's last words ringing in his head. Just promise me you will come back. You have to promise. For our tea party. Promise.
"Jefferson it's alright." Alice whispered to him moving closer placing a hand on his chest.
Jefferson pulled away from her embarrassed at his failings as a father and a husband. "Why aren't you mad at me? I left our daughter! She is all alone!"
"Would you like me to yell and scream for your mistake?"
"There shouldn't be another option. God knows I don't deserve your forgiveness or Grace's after what I have done."
"Regina tricked you… just like she is now. But at least she kept her word. Look at our daughter Jefferson." She waved for him to come back to the telescope. "She has nice clothes, looks well feed, and happy. Sure she thinks our neighbors are her parents, but she is alive and here. You can see her everyday which is something you couldn't do in Wonderland."
"Wonderland…" Jefferson's hands went to his throat. "I couldn't get the hat to work. I didn't have enough magic. And the White Rabbit was no help. He was too scared to use his magic."
"I know my love." Alice said sadly. "Come see our Grace."
Jefferson walked back to the telescope looking through the lens, watching his Grace run and play not seeming to know anything was wrong with her life. "She does look happy, she always wanted friends, but none of the neighbors had kids." He took a deep breath and whispered. "She is better off without me."
Alice moved closer taking his left hand in hers. "That is not true. If she remembered you, I know there is nothing she would not do get back home to you."
"How do you know that? I left her."
"Because she loves you and she is our daughter, and just like us, nothing is impossible to her. She would find a way home to you."
The bell must have rung because all the kids stopped and ran to line up by the door. Jefferson watched as Grace ran over to one of the teachers, a woman with short dark hair, giving her a hug. "Is that?" He focused the scope on the woman. "Snow? But her hair is all wrong."
"Everything is all wrong here Jefferson, you just need to figure out what is real and what is not. Keep looking and you will piece it all together."
Jefferson watched as she started to disappear before his eyes. "No Alice wait… Don't leave me again." He finished to an empty room.
"What did you do all day Jefferson?" Regina asked as they were eating dinner.
"I worked a little in my work room."
"Really? On what?"
"Just some designs…" Jefferson trailed off thinking about the white rabbit doll he had made and placed in the guest bedroom. "What do you have planned for tomorrow?" He asked trying to change the subject.
"Why do you want to know?"
"I was thinking of going down to town tomorrow."
"Down to town; whatever for?"
"I think getting out of this house will do me good."
"I have meetings all day tomorrow."
"Meetings; with whom?"
"Mr. Gold, Doctor Hopper, and Graham for starters."
"Yes, good old Sheriff Graham…" Jefferson mumbled clearly jealous. "You seem to be meeting with him a lot lately."
Regina smiled again. "Well he is Sheriff, Jefferson I have to make sure the town's well protected."
"Is that the only reason you are meeting with him so much lately?"
"Jefferson are you worried I am going to replace you?"
Regina's comment stirred up a memory.
"Only one last job?" Regina asked walking back across her Throne Room towards him. She was wearing a long gown which showed too much cleavage when she leaned over him and asked him. "Anything I want it to be? No questions asked?"
"I don't have a choice do I?" He asked her.
"Not unless you consider my dungeons a choice."
He thought about it for a moment. "Yes, I will do one last job for you and then you have to let me go. Find a new young man to be your play toy."
"I think I need to take care of my husband before I find a new play toy." Regina smirked "It's a deal, as long as you agree to do whatever I tell you to do."
Jefferson shook his head trying to push the images away. "What did you do to your husband?" The words were out of his mouth before he knew he had asked it.
Regina stopped her fork midway to her mouth and lost her smile. "What did you just ask me Jefferson?"
"Your husband how did you kill…" Jefferson stopped in midsentence realizing how crazy of a question he was asking. Regina didn't have a husband. "I…I…" He stuttered as his fingers played with his napkin.
"Are you taking your pills?"
"Yes, of course. Every morning and night but the nightmares …" Jefferson trailed off not wanting to tell her more.
"The nightmares are back?"
Did she just have a slight smile at that inquiry? Jefferson thought to himself not knowing what to say.
"Your comments last night about the blonde hair. Are you dreaming about Aurora again, or is it Alice?
"Who are they? I can't seem to remember correctly. Alice said she was my wife, but Aurora was the one who had on my mother's ring." My mother's ring… dear God I didn't realize that was her ring until now. Jefferson thought staring down at his plate, suddenly not feeling hungry anymore. "But then there is Grace…"
"They are not real Jefferson." She slapped her hands down on the table besides her plate.
"But I saw Grace running around that playground of the school."
"Maybe I should talk to Doctor Whale about your pills."
"No," He shook his head trying to clear the memories away. "I know they are not real the way I see them."
"Well that is good to know, at least your sessions with Doctor Hopper must be working."
"I just don't understand where they came from? That little girl why would I think?"
"Her name is Paige. Do you really not remember?"
"Remember what?" Jefferson looked up at her fighting back tears of frustration and pain as his two sets of memories fought with each other trying to win out in his mind which one was real.
"Doctor Hopper thinks it just another layer of guilt you feel from the accident."
"Another layer of guilt? How does the accident play into me thinking Grace is my daughter?"
"Because we didn't know it at the time but I was pregnant the night of the accident." Regina tried her best not to smile at Jefferson's confused and upset face. She could almost hear the conflict of what was real and what she had implanted in his head colliding and fighting for dominance.
"And you lost the baby…" Jefferson stared down at his plate so confused at what was real because both sets of memories seemed so believable.
"Yes I lost the baby."
There was a long moment of silence before against his better judgment he whispered. "Did we know an Alice or an Aurora?"
"They are NOT HERE!" Regina screamed standing up. "This is my town, not some messed up fairy tale world, where I could never have my happy ending!" Regina paused a moment realizing she was about to say something she shouldn't. "I swear I don't know why I do this to myself. I shouldn't come up here every night hoping that tonight would be the night you act the way you did before you dreamed up this idea of Aurora or Alice."
"No, Regina. Please, don't say that." Jefferson stood and walked around the table to her, he reached out for her but she pulled back.
"You are never going to be the way I want you." Regina moved around him and headed for the door.
"I know I have not been myself since the accident, but I am trying." He called after her chasing her into the foyer. "These visions and nightmares of castles, and other realms, I know they are not real. You coming up here each night, that is the best part of my day. I want things to get back to the way we use to be."
"Things will never be the way they used to be between us." She hissed turning to face him.
"No, if you just moved back in. I am sure having you here more would help me realize what is real. My mind wouldn't have time to wonder to these dark places." He paused a moment brushing his fingertips lightly across her cheek. "You do still love me don't you Regina?"
She leaned up giving him a soft kiss on the lips before pulling back. "Trust me Jefferson you would not still be here if I did not." She opened the door and left him alone.