Chapter 1: Looking For A Key To A Door That I Can’t Get Through
For being only eight years old Billy thought he was really smart. His teachers always wrote nice things on his report cards. He could read books that were above his age level. His mom always said he was. But most importantly he knew when to get out of the house and leave his dad alone.
So currently he was at the beach. His dad had began to slam things around and Billy had ran out as fast as he could. He was playing in the sand and watching the waves come in.
Suddenly there was a white rabbit in front of him. It’s little nose twitching as it looked at him.
Billy’s eyes grew wide. The rabbit had just spoken to him.
“What are - hey wait!”
The rabbit ran off down the sand. Billy got up and followed as fast as his legs would carry him. He didn’t pay attention to his surroundings. The only thing in his eyes was the white rabbit.
The rabbit stopped slightly in front of him. Billy swears the animal winked at him before going into a hole. When Billy got there he stopped to catch his breath.
“Mr. Rabbit? Please come back.”
Billy leaned down to look for the rabbit. He grabbed onto the edge to look deeper. The ground fell out and he found himself falling. He screamed and tried to grab onto something. Everything flashed by and he closed his eyes and feared the upcoming landing.
Much to his surprise the landing was soft. When he opened his eyes again he saw the white rabbit running down a hallway. Billy got up and followed.
“Hey wait you stupid rabbit!”
Billy stopped in a room full of doors. He looked around and saw the smallest door closing. He rushed towards it but it closed before he got there. Angry he punched the door.
“Ow! Watch it!” Billy took a step back in shock. “You want in? Get a key!”
Billy backed up to the other side of the room. He might have been eight but he was smart. Doors should not talk. This can’t be real. His chest started to feel tight and tears burned his eyes. This can’t be happening and he’s lost.
Something happened then that scares Billy even more. A wave comes out of nowhere to pick him up and rush at the door. The door opens quickly and he’s spilled out into some kind of forest.
Shakily Billy got to his feet and began walking into the forest. The leaves and bushes around him moved. He froze, then tried to stand tall like his dad.
“Who’s there? I’m not scared!”
“Not scared eh?”
“Not polite, I’d say.”
“Right right no manners.”
Billy turned around. In front of him stood two round identical men. Predatory smiles wide in their faces. Billy didn’t scream but he did turn and run. He wished he never followed that rabbit. He kept running until he hit a giant mushroom.
“Whoooo are yoooou?”
Smoke blew into his face from the top of the mushroom. Billy looked up to see a caterpillar sitting on it. A pipe held tightly in its arms.
“What?” He coughed out.
“Are you stupid child?” The caterpillar blew out more smoke. “Whoooo are yoooou?”
“I didn’t ask for your name. I asked who you are.”
“What?!” Billy was confused. What did this thing want from him?
“Look at this.”
“Can you believe it?”
“What an ugly little flower.”
“Quite dumb too.”
At that moment Billy realized the flowers around him were talking. He backed away from the mushroom and started running again.
“Where am I?”
Billy was terrified in this place. Everything was weird and not as it should be. He ran past trees barely noticing as it got darker. Soon, however, he couldn’t see anything. He fell to his knees and began to cry.
“Why did I follow that stupid rabbit?” He sobbed.
“Out if curiosity I’d say. Although he is pretty dumb. So I agree you should have followed someone better.”
Billy looked up but saw no one around. The area around him slowly started to brighten, but still no one was in sight.
Right after he said it Billy regretted it. A smile formed out of thin air looking sinister and mean.
“I would say but as you can see I’m not all here.” Billy didn’t know what the smile meant.
“Well how do I get out of here?”
“That depends on where you want to go.” The smile twitched and slowly the head and body of a cat appeared. “I could take you to the Hare and the Hatter if you’d like. But they’re not all there either.”
“What are you talking about?”
“They’re mad but they can’t help it,” the cat rolled around on a tree branch. “We’re all mad here.”
Billy was confused by the cat. But he still followed the animal hoping it would at least lead him out of the forest. It seemed to be a good choice because soon he saw a small house in front of him. The young boy walked faster but stopped when he got to the edge of the forest. In front of the house was a long table full of teapots.
“No! No room! No room!”
Billy screamed as a teapot came flying at his head. He heard a yelp from the cat as well.
“Now, now lets not be rude.”
Billy looked up to see a tall man wearing a top hat walking across the table top towards him. Somehow the man managed to not knock over any of the teapots. He gracefully jumped off the table and landed in front of the boy.
“Hello Hatter,” the cat purrs lazily.
“Hello Chesh, and hello you. You’re very late. Naughty.” The man gently took his hand and pulled him towards the table. “Don’t mind the Hare. He forgot you were coming. Now time for tea.”
Billy was confused. How could he be late for something he didn’t know about?
“Who are you?”
“The Hatter! At your service,” the man smiled wide as he bowed. “But you can call me Steve if you want.”
“Okay Steve, what’s going on?” Billy knew he was being rude. That he could never talk like tia around his dad. But his dad wasn’t here.
At Steve’s words the table came to life. The pots started steaming and whistling. Cookies and small cakes floated around Billy’s head. Billy grabbed a cookie smiling. He didn’t know what was going on but he enjoyed himself. Nothing this fun ever happened at home. Steve was funny even if he was a little weird. Nothing the man said made sense.
“Off with his Head!”
The shout rang in the air. Both Steve and the Hare froze. The cat slowly disappeared.
“Damn it’s the big head.”
Steve quickly grabbed Billy’s hand again and pulled him up. They went into the small house as the sound of marching came closer. Steve led Billy to a large mirror and stopped.
“Go in,” his face looked sad.
“The Queen will hurt you if she sees you’re here. Go, go home.”
“I’ll see you again Billy. Now go.”
Someone pounded on the door and Steve pushed him to the mirror. Billy tried to look back but he fell through the glass. He was scared he broke it. But when he looked around he was in his parents bedroom. He turned around to look in the mirror but Steve was nowhere in sight.
The door flew open and his dad stood in the doorway. Billy looked up at him in fear.
“What are you doing in here boy?”
Billy quickly tried to explain everything that had happened. As he talked he didn’t notice his dad getting angrier. He only stopped when he felt the back of his dad’s hand connect with his head. He quickly became quite and left his parents room. He also decided to never again tell someone what happened.
Chapter 2: Talking to Myself, What Do I Have To Lose?
Sorry it’s kinda short
Steve found himself once again at the never ending tea party. He sighed and tried to act like he belonged at the head of the table. He had just recently taken over the role of the Hatter from his uncle. But he felt like it was a mistake. He was nothing like his uncle.
He watched as the Hare and the mouse threw cookies at one another. Neither of the animals acknowledged him. They were both upset that his uncle left with Alice. That his uncle wasn’t coming back. He didn’t blame them, he was upset too.
The chair next to him was pulled back and a man in a black coat sat down. Time was here once again to explain something the Hatter had to do.
Steve didn’t understand why Time came. It was no secret that he had hated every Hatter there ever was. So why bother explaining the rules? They were never followed.
“Yes?” Steve tried to keep his voice even, polite.
“Every year, for one day Wonderland connects with another world. In that time people from both sides can cross over, usually by accident.”
Steve looked at Time confused. He already knew this, everyone did. That’s where Alice has come from. Where his uncle had gone five years ago when Alice had returned. So why was Time telling him this?
“You know I can see the future. Not only of Wonderlands inhabitants. But of everyone who comes into contact with out world.”
“You’ve already told me this.”
Time stops and gives Steve a strange look. Steve looked away and tired to focus on the steam rising from his teacup.
“Be careful Steve. We can’t control what outsiders come to our world or how they’ll act.” Time stood and walked away from the table. “Besides you don’t want to end up like your uncle do you?”
Steve ignored Time and focused on the tea party in front of him. Time was just messing with him like the Queen does. None of it mattered. He just had to do the job he never asked for.
He was able to do his job for about a week before he saw the boy. The boy came stumbling out of the forest behind the Cheshire Cat, his eyes wide with fear. When Steve got up and walked to the boy he noticed something else. Although the boy sassed him a bit, he still flinched when Steve reaches out. Like he was afraid Steve was going to hurt him.
It broke Steve’s heart. So he did what he could to prove he was safe. He used every bit of magic he had to make the boy smile and laugh. For the first time, with this boy, he felt like he belonged at this table. Like maybe he wasn’t meant to be the Hatter. Maybe he was just meant it help someone.
Everything was fine until he heard the shrill yell of the Red Queen. He hated how she couldn’t leave him alone. Hated how she was interrupting this moment, ending this moment. Steve would have to get the boy to safety because ever since Alice, the Queen hated outsiders.
After Steve got rid of the Queen’s army he started to make his way across the country. In the distance he could see his destination. The tower looked over everything else. Keeping a watchful eye over everyone.
He tried to ignore the ache in his legs once he got to the tower. Much to his surprise Time was waiting for him outside.
“I need you to bring Billy back.”
“The portals closed.” Time didn’t even look shocked by his request.
“Then bring him back next year.”
“There’s a time difference. He’s not going to be the same.” Time had a disappointed look on his face. “I said don’t be like your uncle.”
“I’m not!” Steve pulled at his hair. Unknowingly making it look like his uncles always use to. “Billy needs my help, I know he does.”
“I can see the future Steve.”
“Exactly, so you know I’m right.”
Time looked into his eyes and Steve had never seen someone look so cold. Why was Time so against this?
“You have no idea what you are asking for. An outsider could never stay here.”
“I don’t care just please, please bring him back.”
Time turned away from the Hatter. He walked back up the steps to his tower.
“Fine, I’ll bring back Billy next year. But remember he’s not going to be the same.”
With that he went into the tower and slammed the door behind him.
Chapter 3: Maybe I’m Crazy, What Did I Fall Into?
Billy wandered around the party not quite sure what he was looking for. Normally he just let go at parties. Drank way too much; danced with some girl while pretending he wasn’t looking at the guys. Pocketed random things like girls jewelry and the bits of cash he could find.
Sometimes he would go outside and smoke with the stoners who camped out there. He didn’t make a habit of it because it brought up his nightmares. The same nightmares he’s been having since he was eight years old. It felt more vivid, more real when he was high.
Tonight’s party was different. For some reason Billy didn’t understand there was a psychedelic theme. He didn’t take anything offered to him out right, but he’s pretty sure the punch was laced with something. There could be no other explanation for that fucking rabbit.
That same white rabbit that started his nightmare all those years ago. That rabbit is currently in every reflective surface Billy looks into. It’s driving him crazy, especially since no one else is seeing the rabbit.
Billy stormed up the stairs pushing people out of the way as he went. He hardly noticed people’s reactions. Too focused on finding where this fucking rabbit is going. He ends up in a bedroom, a full sized mirror in front of him. In the glass he could see the rabbit running farther and farther away.
He leaned into the glass not believing his eyes. At that moment the glass disappeared and he fell into the frame. A shout escaped his lips as he fell to the ground.
Standing up Billy realized he was in a different room. Everything was smaller and had carrots pictured all over. Billy himself was too big for the room. He was standing but in a hunched over way. His back was hitting the ceiling.
He looked around the room again and saw a bottle on the dresser. He grabbed it and took a big swallow. At least whoever is playing this joke on him thought to provide the booze. When he brought the bottle away from his lips he was shocked to find he fit inside the room now.
“I’m fucking crazy again!” He shouted in the empty room.
He threw the bottle at the mirror behind him and watched with a strange delight as they both shattered. He got up and left the house and headed into the woods. He tried to remember the rest of his nightmare. But he couldn’t think of anything except the rabbit and the man in a top hat.
It wasn’t until he ran into a cloud of smoke that he remembered the drugged caterpillar.
“Oh great you’re here.”
“And whoooo are yoooou?” It asked blowing smoke right into his face.
“Noooo, yoooou aren’t.”
“What the fuck?”
Billy grabbed the pipe out of the caterpillars hands and laughed as the little thing got angry. It’s tiny hands reached out and tried to get the pipe back. Around him he could hear the flowers talking.
“Look at this thing.”
“Tryin to be Billy when he ain’t.”
“Such a shame.”
“I swear to god.” Billy shouted throwing the pipe at the flowers.
He forced his way past the gossiping flowers, stomping on a few, and went deeper into the woods. As he walked he took out a cigarette and lit it. He thought he saw movement in the bushes but tried to ignore it. He might not remember everything but he’s pretty sure none of it was good.
After he walked for a while he ran into a floating smile and eyes. Behind them was a swirl in the vague shape of a cat.
“The fuck are you?”
“Could ask you the same. I don’t think that matters to be honest.”
The color of the swirl switched from a magenta to a purple. The eyes and smile flipped upside down as well.
“You’re crazy,” Billy backed away from the thing. “You’re all fucking crazy.”
“Correct.” The smile grew wide and sinister.
Billy sat down and held his head in his hands. Maybe he took something at the party without meaning too. This was too weird. Nothing made sense. It’s all too much like a psychedelic hallucination. The type they show in schools to discourage drugs.
“Get me outta here.”
The cat came to sit in front of him, fully visible now. It didn’t look any less creepy though. It still looked like it wanted to bite his head off.
“I’ll take you as far as the Hare and the Hatter.”
“You’re taking me to a fucking hat?”
“You could find your own way out. But time has proven that you’ll just get lost. Besides Hatter is the only one who can help.”
Billy didn’t understand what the cat meant. He thinks he might know who this Hatter is. At least he hopes it’s the guy who helped him get home.
He followed the cat through the forest. It got darker the further they went and the sounds around him got louder. Billy tried to not let anything distract him. He didn’t trust the cat to stay visible. He didn’t trust the cat at all. For all he knew he could be lead to his death.
He thought about that as he took a drag of his cigarette. If one died in their hallucination, did they really die? Billy didn’t know and he wasn’t sure if he wanted to find out. Although if he died it might make his dad happy.
Billy growled and flicked his cigarette into the trees, not caring if it started a fire. It was bad enough he was hallucinating he didn’t need to start thinking about his dad too.
His dad was the reason he didn’t talk about his nightmares and tried to forget about them. He was so scared of his dad he never even told his mom about his nightmare before she left. Billy also tried to cover up his nightmares from his stepsister Max when her and her mom moved in. Although there were many nights Max came into his room when he woke up screaming. Each time he pushed her out.
The forest around him became lit again. The sound of laughter drifted through the trees. The cat floated from tree to tree in front of him. Up ahead there was a circular opening in the trees. As they got closer to the opening a sweet scent filled the air.
Outside of the forest a weird party was taking place. Billy could see a tiny mouse running around on the table between a bunch of teapots. There was also a rabbit type thing with a teacup in each paw. He could also see a hat floating around at the head of the table.
The cat floated ahead and to a seat at the table. At seeing him the Hare grabbed a plate of cookies and threw them at the cat. Some of the cookies came flying at Billy. He grabbed one of them as they flew past his head and took a bite of it. As he swallowed the piece of cookie he felt a pain in his legs and he suddenly started growing.
Billy stopped growing once he got to his normal height. When he got to his height he threw the rest of the cookie down. He also noticed that the hat wasn’t floating. Underneath the top hat was a man who looked close to Billy’s age. The mans fluffy hair peaked out from under the hat. Billy also noticed he had beautiful brown eyes and a dazzling smile.
“Billy! You’re back and late again. Thought growing up would make you better with time.”
Billy was too distracted by the man’s body to pay attention to his words. He choked a little as he watched the man walk closer to him. The man was attractive; slender but still slightly muscular. Billy just wanted to pull the man into his arms.
“No Hatter, that’s not Billy.”
The little mouse broke Billy from his trance. He glared down at the creature and wanted to knock it over.
“Shut it you mouse. I am fucking too.”
The man -Hatter?- stopped walking. He gave Billy a strange look. Billy didn’t know why or what it was but he felt something twist in his gut from the look.
“Billy?” The Hatter asked confused and somewhat hopeful.
“Yeah, who else would I be?”
Billy was confused and getting angry again. He wanted to know why everyone was saying he wasn’t Billy. Wanted to know why everyone thought he was someone else. Did hallucinations usually argue with you?
“But you’re....you....” the Hatter’s face grew dark and he turned away. “No, you’re not. You’re not Billy.”
He walked back to his chair and faced Billy again. When Billy met the guys eyes he was shocked by how cold they were. For some reason this guy was shutting him out.
“And since you’re not Billy there’s no room for you here.”
The hopeful happiness is completely lost from his voice. At that all the teapots on the table turned towards Billy and started shooting the boiling liquid at him. Billy jumped back away from the blast.
“The fuck? Listen here you psycho. I am Billy. I can’t be anyone else since this is my fucking hallucination. And you crazy people need to stop telling me who I am.”
Billy knew he was probably overreacting. But how everyone was acting and treating him was too much like his dad. All the doubting, all the arguing was too much. After partying with psychedelics for a couple of hours the last thing he wanted to do was deal with his dad, or anything that reminded him of his dad.
“Hallucination?” There was a twisted smile on the Hatters face. “Oh come on, you know this isn’t a hallucination.”
“Yeah it is, it’s just like the nightmare I had as a kid.”
“As a kid huh?” The Hatter walked around and flicked the Hare’s ear. “So you’ve been here before and you still think it’s not real?”
The Hatter finished his circle of the table and sat down at the head of the tea party. He glared in the direction of the newcomer. He had asked for Billy to come back, begged for him basically. He had only met the boy for a short time but he could tell the boy needed an escape. He had waited a whole year and Time had promised him. But this man - he wasn’t Billy. He couldn’t be, there was no way.
Chapter 4: Wish Upon A Star, It Fell So Far From The Truth
Steve knew what being the Hatter meant. What it entailed if one stuck with it for a while. He was slowly feeling the effects of it. The effects of Wonderland in general. It didn’t really start taking effect until the twenty first year. You were pretty much free of the madness as a kid. Steve however was turning twenty one next year.
He knew if he stayed as the Hatter he would lose his mind. He would become as made as his uncle. Talk only in riddles and rhymes. See things that never were. Become fixated on things that were fleeting. He tired to tell himself he didn’t care about going mad. That it was a part of life; part of his hat. But he kept thinking about Billy.
The real Billy, not this fake one in front of him. This one all angry and temperamental. Like a boiling teapot waiting to scream. No, this wasn’t the Billy he asked for. This wasn’t the Billy who left a mark on Wonderland the year before.
He knew Time said Billy would change, but surely he had made a mistake. There was no way that innocent boy could turn into this. This man could rival Dee and Dum with how much he wanted to fight.
Still Steve couldn’t take his eyes off of the man. He might not be the person Steve wanted but he was interesting. In a way he was beautiful if you took the cruel smirk off his face. He had piercing blue eyes that sparkled when the light hit them. His hair looked so curly and soft; so different from the unmanageable fluff Steve had himself.
“Look, I don’t care what you think about who I am,” the man said standing tall. “But this cat said you could get me out of here. So let’s make us both happy and do that.”
Steve took a sip from his teacup and raised an eyebrow at the Cheshire Cat. It at least had the decency to look ashamed. The cat knew what he was doing bringing this man to his tea. Knew Steve was looking forward to seeing Billy again.
“Well he lied, big surprise. See yourself out.”
Steve picked up his cup and got up from the table. He was done with this. It’s not like he even really had the time to begin with. He owed the Queen three hats by the end of the week and he hadn’t even started.
“Come on Hatter,” Chesh purred. “What’s it gonna hurt to help the boy out?”
The cat lapped up some tea with a smile on its face. The Hare shrunk down in his seat avoiding the Hatter’s eyes.
“What?” Steve spat, glaring at the cat. “What’s in gonna take for you Chesh to keep your dirty, traitorous paws out of my business? Unless you’re trying to see how curious you can be before I kill you.”
“Aww Hatter, it’s just....” Cheshire floated above the table.
“No!” Steve threw the cup at the floating cat. “This is your fault! All of it! It’s because of you I’m here. That I owe the big head three new hats. And now that this guy is here instead of Billy!”
“Oh fucking hell, this again?”
The cat slowly disappeared into a fading spiral. As it did Steve felt the anger leave his body. Two years as the Hatter and one year from twenty one and Steve was already loosing control. He sighed and looked at the table. The Hare and mouse were trying to carrying on with their tea. The outsider had and unreadable expression on his face.
“I lost my mirror, go to the Queen’s messengers house. He’s got one to get you back.” His voice was soft, ashamed of how he just acted.
“Is that the white rabbit’s place?”
“Yes. So you know where...”
“Can’t. I broke that mirror.”
“Are you kidding? How?”
“Threw a bottle at it,” the mad shrugged. “I got mad. You gonna yell at me now?”
Steve stomped over to the man and to the gate. He really didn’t want to do this. But it didn’t look like he had a choice anymore. At least the other man got the idea and followed him away from the tea party. As a parting gift the Hare threw a cake at the two of them, laughing.
“So are you going to call me Billy?”
Steve growled and kept walking, not even bothering to face the man. As they walked the sounds from the tea party grew fainter. Soon they were surrounded by silence. Steve tried not to think about how close they were. How strong the other seemed; how good he smelled. Steve knew nothing about the man, so he shouldn’t think about him like that. He shouldn’t, but alas, he was slowly going mad.
Steve wondered what would happen if he reached out and grabbed the others hand. Held it in his own. It was so close to his own. Their knuckles have occasionally brushed as they walked along path. He wondered how it would feel to hold the other man in his arms. How it would feel to be held in those arms. He imagined it would be nice, comfortable. He imagined that he would feel safe in those arms.
He shook his head to clear his thoughts. He didn’t need to be thinking about that right now. He needed to think of this quickest way to Time’s tower. It wasn’t easy. In the past year Wonderland has changed. The Queen’s castle was now closer to Steve than she had been. But he didn’t quite know where Time was. He decided the best thing to do first was to get out of the forest.
“So why did your parents hate you and name you Hatter?” The man asked, recklessly stomping through bushes.
“Are you stupid? It’s a title, not a name.”
“So what is your name?” The guy had a smile that could rival Chesh’s. It was cold and cruel, but Steve kind of liked it.
“At my service?”
“What?” Steve asked confused.
“That’s what you said when I was younger. You know you were nicer then.” He looked down and kicked at the rocks. “Why don’t you people believe I’m Billy?”
Steve paused to think about it. Why did they believe this man wasn’t Billy? Steve knew that he himself could read people and who they were. But the others couldn’t. The caterpillar liked to pretend he could but in reality his mind was mush from whatever he smoked. But Steve could read people. So why didn’t he believe?
The truth was a part of Steve did believe. There was an essence of Billy in the man. He could sense the need to escape, to be free of some kind of torment. Under the fear, he could sense the amazement at the world around him. Those parts were the same. There was, however, different things about this man. Steve could sense anger, almost uncontrollable anger, in him. There was something else too.
Steve looked at the man again, trying to read him better. He couldn’t get anything now. All he saw was himself falling into the man’s arms. The only reading he got was that he belonged.
“You said you came here before what happened?” Steve asked softly.
“I followed a rabbit, fell down a hole, got sassed by everyone and creeped on by that cat. Oh and you threw me a party.”
“But what happened after you left? What made you change?”
The man sat down and pulled something from his pocket to put in his mouth. After he lit it Steve realized it was something like what the caterpillar smoked. The only difference was this smoke didn’t smell as sweet.
“My dad,” he blew the smoke out and to the tree tops. “He came into the room right when I came out of the mirror. I think he had been drinking or something. Fuck I don’t know. But he um, he didn’t like it. He said not to spread lies, to show him respect.”
Billy laughed a broken laugh. Steve didn’t know what to say to that. He watched as Billy threw whatever he was smoking into the dirt.
“You know after my dad I never told anyone. Not even my mom and now. Now I’m telling some fucking dude in a weird hat.”
“No one else asked?”
“Nah, people asked.” Billy pulled some grass out of the ground and started playing with it. “Max asked a lot when I dreamed of this fuckery. I just never told her because of my... I just didn’t tell her.”
Steve knew the other man was hiding something. It was clear and it was probably the answer Steve was looking for.
“What did your dad do?”
“I don’t want to talk about it.” Billy’s voice was hard.
Steve looked at Billy once more before standing and holding out his hand. Billy looked up with questioning eyes.
“Come on, I know where we need to go and we’re running out of time.”
Billy took his hand and allowed Steve to lead him out of the forest. As they walked Billy didn’t let go of his hand like Steve thought he would. He tired not to think about it as he lead them across the broken chessboard countryside. Although, thinking about how nice Billy’s hand felt in his was better than thinking of the battles that had happened here.
Steve tried to get away from the chessboard as quick as he could. He didn’t like it here. Especially since the Jabberwocky’s decaying body was still on the opposite side. Like no one had ever tried to move it. If Billy even noticed the dead beast he didn’t say anything. Actually it didn’t seem like the other man was looking at anything. His eyes were only on Steve.
Steve knew he was blushing by the time they made it to the edge of the board. Ahead of them was a field of red that spanned for miles. Off in the distance he could just make out the tower they needed to get to.
“I’m sorry but are these roses?” Billy was looking at the flowers in awe.
“Yeah. The Queen likes to take over everything. Let’s go, we need to get to that tower before it gets dark.”
“All the way out there? Yeah, no.” Billy pulled Steve to the ground. “I need a break.”
Steve watched as Billy laid down in the grass and closed his eyes. He looked peaceful and slightly younger. Steve sat next to him looking at the flowers. He felt something grip his shoulder and let out a squeal when he was pulled down. He blushed as Billy laughed.
“You need to relax man. Just lay back and watch these pink clouds with me.”
“Those aren’t clouds. It’s cotton candy from that mountain over there.”
In that moment Steve was reminded of how little Billy knew about Wonderland. So he talked about as much as he knew. Everything he thought might interest Billy. He talked and tried to not think about Billy’s thumb rubbing circles onto his hand. Tried not to focus on Billy’s mouth when the other man laughed. In that moment Steve understood Time’s warning. He was turning into his uncle and Billy couldn’t stay.
Chapter 5: Tears On The Ground, Whatever I’m Dreamin’ Of
Steve’s voice was calming. It washed over Billy like a blanket of warmth, tucking him into the sweetness of it. It blended into the scent of the surrounding roses. Getting Billy higher than weed or LSD ever did. The Hatter’s voice comforted him more than anything else in his life.
Laying in the flowers next the Steve, Billy wondered why he even wanted to go home. He knew that this place was different and the people were crazy. But no one seemed to want to hurt him. Besides Steve, it seemed that no one really cared to pay anything to him. They would acknowledged him in their own way, pissed him off, and then continue on with whatever they were doing. But no one enjoyed his pain, no one laughed at his pain.
Steve was different from everyone, even the people he knew back home. Steve listened patiently when he talked. He didn’t push for answers even when it was clear Billy was hiding something. He would accept that Billy didn’t want to talk about a certain subject. Steve seemed to put a lot of thought into what he said. He carefully formed his words before letting them fall from his lips.
“Were you upset when you saw me at your tea party?” Billy asked after Steve finished talking about the annoying Dodo bird.
He turned to watch Steve’s face. The smile left and was replaced with a more serious expression. He knew Steve was thinking. Could imagine words drifting around his mind as he grabbed at the ones he wanted. Could picture Steve carefully constructing his answer like it was the most important thing he could ever say.
“No, I wasn’t upset. I was happy you showed up.”
“You said I wasn’t Billy and poured tea on me.”
Steve rolled over so his whole body was facing Billy. Billy could see the intensity in the brown eyes. It reminded him of the crazed look that was there when he had yelled at the cat. For a moment Billy was scared that the Hatter was going to lose it again. But then Steve gently touched his face. Brushing the hair away from his eyes.
“But I didn’t really...” Steve sighed. “I’m loosing my mind. Going mad. Even then something told me you were. It’s just you... you were so different.”
“I grew up. I was last here ten years ago.” Billy paused and thought about what he had just said. “Why don’t you look older?”
“Time difference. I circled once. I guess you circled ten times. Maybe you spin faster and that’s what crashes us together.”
They fell silent. Steve kept his hand combing through Billy’s hair. Occasionally playing with the curls. Billy relaxed into the touch. It was soft, barely there. Billy had never let himself be this close to another man. Although he had wanted too. So he let himself have this moment with Steve.
In that moment Billy let himself believe he could stay with Steve. That Steve wanted him to stay here. He believed that he could have a happy life with Steve. All of the domestic shit he never dreamed of before. That he could fall asleep and wake up next to this man everyday. Let himself believe that he could look into Steve’s eyes forever.
He let himself dream of what living with Steve would be like. Thought about what Steve might do. Would he dance around the kitchen as he cooked? Would he curl up on the couch with Billy? Would he be annoying, begging for attention until Billy stopped whatever he was doing? What would Steve insist on being a part of their lives? What did he hate about making a home? What did he love about it? Billy let himself dream that one day he would know.
“What are you thinking about?” Steve’s voice broke through his daydream.
“Your fucking hat. Why do you wear that thing?”
“It’s a symbol of being the Hatter. Let’s people know that I make all the hats for the noble and rich inhabitants of Wonderland. Let’s people know that I have a neutral stance on all politics.” Steve paused and flicked Billy’s hair. “It doesn’t, however tell them that I don’t care about any of it.”
“What? You don’t like making hats?”
“Nope, hate it. Hate listening to people talk about which Queen is better too.”
“So why become the Hatter? If you hate it so much.”
“Honestly? Didn’t have the choice. My uncle was the previous Hatter and after he left it was debated for a while who would follow him. All the heads were talking for three years before they chose me. So now here I am.” Steve pulled his hand away from Billy’s hair and stood up. “Come on, we’re really running out of time now.”
Billy stood and once again let himself be lead through the unknown landscape. Deep down inside he knew that this was going to be over soon. That once they reached the tower in the distance Steve would leave. They didn’t get far before he stopped again. He pulled on Steve’s arm making the other stop as well.
“Wait, before we get there and I go back to my...” Billy trailed off and stepped closer to Steve. “Can I kiss you?”
Steve’s eyes grew wide as he looked at Billy. For a moment Billy wanted to pull back. Say he didn’t mean it and keep walking. But then. But then Steve was closer than he had ever been. His arms were traveling around Billy’s shoulders. Their lips were only centimeters apart. Cautiously Billy places his own hands on Steve’s waist.
“Yes.” Steve whispered.
Billy barely heard the answer. Felt the word on his lips more than he heard it. He pressed his lips to Steve’s, squeezing tightly at his waist. The Hatter’s lips were soft and better than any girl that Billy had kissed before. He licked at the pillow like lips and felt the other shiver against him. Steve moaned as Billy licked into his mouth and tangled his hands into the blond hair. Billy held him as close as he could, swallowing down all of his moans. They only pulled away from each other’s lips when they needed to breathe.
Billy looked into Steve’s eyes and saw that they sparkled with happiness and lust. He leaned in again and kissed the corner of Steve’s mouth. Slowly he kissed down to Steve’s jaw and up to his ear. Delighted in the way Steve shivered and moaned against him.
“Didn’t I tell you the Hatter was the only one who could help?”
Billy groaned when he heard the sickly sweet voice of the cat. He looked to see its head floating in circles around them. A nasty smile plastered on its face. Steve glared at the creature as he untangled his hands from Billy’s hair.
“Get out of here Chesh, I’ll still skin you.” Steve was dark. A stark contrast to how he had been just a second ago.
“Tick tock, tick tock,” the head faded away. “Sun’s going down Hatter.”
The voice faded leaving them alone in the field. The wind danced around them, making the roses gently sway. Although Steve looked calm from the outside, Billy wasn’t sure that he really was. The brown eyes still sparked with a crazed glint. The Hatter turned away and faced the direction of the tower.
“He’s right we should go.” Steve’s voice was still dark. Like he was still talking to the cat instead of Billy.
Billy felt a pang in his chest. He didn’t want this. Didn’t want Steve’s coldness again. He wanted to return to their kiss. Wanted to live in that moment forever. He wanted to make it so the only thing he could feel, only thing he could sense, was Steve. He didn’t want this ache in his chest. Didn’t want Steve to be turned away from him. He didn’t want to be wondering what was going on in the other mans mind.
He silently followed the path that was being carved out of the roses. He didn’t want to look around at the world anymore. Didn’t want to see things he would only get a glimpse of before having to leave. Didn’t want to be amazed or confused by this world anymore.
His hand felt cold. Like it wanted to be held again. Held by Steve again. It was then Billy realized how much him and Steve had touched. How he had let Steve hold his hand for most of their walk. How close he was letting Steve get just in general. Part of him thought it should feel wrong. That Steve was basically a stranger to him. But he couldn’t rationalize it. Couldn’t logically think about how Steve made him feel. Billy knew he probably shouldn’t feel so comfortable with this man but he did. He felt safe.
He thought maybe it was because he never felt safe at home. He was always cautious. Always looking over his shoulder. He hid behind a mask. The fake persona he showed to everyone, let everyone believe was real. He never felt safe, never felt comfortable. Never felt like he could be real.
After about an hour of walking he felt something touch his arm. He looked over to see Steve walking next to him again instead of in front of him. A shy smile and blush covered the mans face. There was a poke against his hand. Billy opened his hand and let their fingers intertwined.
“Sorry,” Steve’s voice was soft. “I didn’t want... I didn’t mean to get so mad.”
Billy leaned against him as they walked. It was better walking with Steve. It made the walk seem warmer. More real in a way. He still didn’t look around at the passing landscape. It was a signal of the end.
Up ahead, maybe a mile off, stood the tower. It loomed over them, encasing them in shadow. The sun slowly dropped in the sky. Hiding itself behind the tower. There was an hour maybe two before it dropped completely. Before the world was wrapped in darkness. Even at seeing this they didn’t pick up their pace. The two men took their time walking towards the tower.
The closer they got to the tower, the quicker Billy’s heart beat. The tall black doors held the way out. His way home. He was staring at them, fixated when they were thrown open.
“What are you doing here?” A man in a black coat stood before them. “And who’s this, Hatter?”
“Billy. We’re just going to borrow your mirror. It’ll be quick.” Steve pulled Billy up the steps and to the doors.
“You were just here.”
“Shut up you recluse. That was a year ago.”
Steve pushes his way into the tower with Billy close behind. The inside of the tower was just as dark as the outside. Every wall was lined with clocks. All of them ticking at different speeds.
“You can ignore Time, he doesn’t like to make friends.” Steve said as he led them through the building. “He thinks he’s too important. Just because he can see the future. Honestly he’s really just annoying. Anyways here we are.”
In front of Billy was a mirror. It wasn’t anything special; it didn’t even have a frame. It was basically a sheet of glass. Billy was confused to how this would help until Steve placed his hand on the glass. Then Billy watched as their reflections faded away and his bedroom was in front of him.
“How much time has passed there?” Billy was scared suddenly thinking of his father.
“Not much. A couple of hours at the most. When the worlds connect yours slows down a lot.”
“If...” Billy squeezed Steve’s hand. “If I go through, when will I come back?”
Steve was quite and tried to pull away. Billy turned to face him. He needed the answer.
“Not for ten years of your time, if you’re even the one chosen again.” Steve sounded sad.
“Then I’m not fucking going. Or you’re gonna come with me.”
Steve’s eyes grew huge. He looked like some cartoon character with his big eyes and stupid hat. He was probably crazy. Very different from Billy himself. But Billy didn’t care. He didn’t want to leave this man behind. Didn’t want to live without him.
“But I... I... but.... Billy I...”
“Don’t you hate being the Hatter?”
“Yes,” Steve was looking him right in the eye.
“Do you like being with me?” Billy’s voice grew quieter as he asked. Scared of the answer.
“Yes,” Steve’s voice was firm and confident.
“Then come with me.”
Billy leaned over and kissed Steve. Loving the warm, soft lips against his own. He reached out and took hold of both of Steve’s hands. Without breaking apart their lips, Billy stepped into the mirror taking the Hatter with him.
The sun was a lot different in this world. It seemed to shine brighter and it was definitely hotter. That was one of the first things Steve noticed about this world. In a way the sunshine reminded him of Billy. Billy was bright and he ran hot.
The second thing Steve noticed was Billy was a liar. When they first stepped through the mirror, and Billy made sure his dad wasn’t around, they got lost in each other. Afterwards in Billy’s bad they realized they would have to figure out what to do for Steve. They picked some random town in what Billy called the middle of nowhere for Steve to be from. They came up with a whole life for Steve. In that moment Steve had mentioned he needed new clothes because he noticed that him and Billy dressed very different.
Steve had let Billy talk him out of changing his style. Believed when Billy said the way he dressed was cool. That people were going to love it. It only took being outside around other people for five minutes for Steve to realize Billy had lied to him.
“Are you kidding? Why would you do this to me?”
“Come on Stevie,” Billy laughed and hugged him. “It’s your signature style. You can’t loose that hat.”
After that Steve ignored Billy’s protests and got new clothes. He already acted different from everyone and didn’t understand the world. He didn’t need to stand out anymore than he already did. Billy did make him keep the top hat that marked him as the Hatter. It currently sat on a bookshelf in their shared apartment.
It had taken Steve a while to get used to this world. The first weeks were the hardest. Mainly because Billy still lived at his dads place and Steve wasn’t really living anywhere’s. The only person besides Billy that he even knew was Max. Steve had only even met her because she had barged into the room to yell at Billy. He was too scared to talk to anyone else. Terrified that if he talked people would be able to tell he wasn’t from this world.
Eventually Billy had helped Steve get a job and a place to live. Billy was the one to point out that once Steve got over his fear he was good at talking to people. Steve tried to flirt and joke but it just ended up being awkward. All the same Steve loved it and as much as people laughed, they loved to talk to him. So Billy had helped him get a job in a bookstore. Steve knew nothing about the books but he made up for it with his smile and demeanor.
Billy already had a job working on cars. Something Steve understood even less about. But with their two paychecks they soon had enough to get Steve a place. After about a month Billy moved into the apartment as well and it became theirs.
Originally Steve was scared to live with Billy. In all honesty, they still didn’t really know each other too well. It was a huge learning process for both of them. Billy had to get use to the freedom he now had. Had to get use to the fact that Steve didn’t grow up with the same strict structure he did. Steve had to get use to the fact there was no magic in this world. That he actually had to clean things up and move them himself. It was a learning process that they made it through together.
“Billy? Are you home?” Steve’s voice rang in the apartment as he walked in the door. He didn’t know if there would be an answer since he himself was coming home early.
“In here Stevie!”
Steve followed the sound of Billy’s voice into the bedroom. Coming home to someone was Steve’s favorite part of living in this world. He got to the bedroom and stopped at the doorway and stared at the picture before him.
There on the bed, laid Billy. His hair ties up on the top of his head with a few strands hanging down, blowing in the breeze from the fan beside him. He had his shirt off and the sheets pulled up around his lower half. Interview With The Vampire was held in his hands, his attention completely absorbed into the book. Without looking up Billy moved over slightly, making room for Steve on the bed.
A smile formed on Steve’s lips as he took his coat off and walked over to the bed. He crawled into the bed and laid his head on Billy’s chest. Instantly Billy’s hand came up and buried itself into Steve’s hair. He placed a kiss upon Steve’s temple before zeroing his attention back into his book. Steve wrapped an arm around him and pulled him closer. The smile on his face grew as he nuzzled into Billy’s chest and placed a kiss on his sternum.
“I love you,” Steve whispered into Billy’s chest. “I love you. I love you. I love hugging you. I love you Billy.”
“Did you need something?”
“I love you.” Was the response along with more kisses placed on Billy’s sternum. With Steve nuzzling into his chest more.
“You’re very distracting.” Billy chuckled as he placed his book down on his bedside table.
He wrapped his arms around Steve and pulled him into his lap. He loosened his grip for a moment so Steve could adjust his position. Let Steve move his head into the crook of his neck and wrap his legs around Billy’s waist. Steve kissed Billy’s neck and relaxed into his hold. Loving that he now felt like he belonged exactly where he was. He felt like he found what he was missing in Wonderland.
Can I be real?
Three or four years ago, in college, my creative writing professor told me I wasn’t really good at writing.
He said my poetry was good at certain points.
But all of my short stories, all of my fiction wasn’t.
He said they weren’t written well. They weren’t interesting.
He said he hoped I didn’t dream of being a writer because I was bad at it.
So THANK YOU to all who have read this to the end. To all who have read my other work.
Thank you for the kudos, for the comments.
I came back to writing because I fell in love with Billy’s character, with Harringrove. With this fandom. And I’m glad I did ❤️❤️