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They’re sitting waiting for “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” to begin at the theatre. Mr Tarrant begins to count the heads of his students. One is missing. He sighs, scouring the faces, many of whom are looking back at him, giggles hidden under smiles and sideward glances. His eyes glint in the golden light of the auditorium. Then the lights dim to a shadowy grey indicating the show is about to start. Mr Tarrant sighs again, and shuffles sideways past the students practically glued to his side. He whispers to Miss Mallymkun, the other teacher on this trip, that they are missing a student. She watches him regretfully as he leaves the room into a wash of yellow light.

After a moment his eyes adjust to the brightness of the bar beyond the auditorium door and he walks forwards a few paces to a plush chair. He sits, counting the students in his mind. Of course, he already knows how is missing. Alice Kingsleigh. The sixth form retake. The ‘quiet’ blonde. The girl who always sits at the back of his class and drifts through the window of reality into her imagination; he often catches her eyes on him with a burgundy blush on her cheek. He remembers hearing the teachers bicker about her in the staff room once, her vocalised opinions and random questions disturbing their classes. He has never experienced this; in fact, he has barely heard her talk at all in class. Instead of dwelling on this, Mr Tarrant’s cat eyes wander the room. No signs of the girl. He stands and wanders to the bar, asking if they have seen a blonde girl with curly hair. Yes. She had gone into the toilet just after everyone had gone into the auditorium. Ah! Thank you very much.

He walks over to the toilet and knocks on the door. Nothing. He hesitantly pushes open the door, of course, it is a female toilet. Alice? No. Alice Kingsleigh? Nope. Have you lost a student? A young theatre assistant. Yes I have I’m afraid, would you mind if I go in and check? (Flattery never fails) I hope it’s not too forward of me to say, but, your eyes are beautiful. Oh. She blushes. Thank you. My pleasure. Of course you can, but do come out if anyone else goes in. Thank you. No problem. Inside. There are three cubicles, all of which are empty. Mr Tarrant examines each one, then the two sinks and two mirrors. Nothing. Then, something. He notices a golden curl on the floor. He picks it up and his ginger brow furrows. It must be one of Alice’s. He then looks at the toilets again, but this time compares them to each other. The one farthest away from the door is different. It has a button tucked behind the toilet on the floor.

He locks the cubicle door behind him and kneels on the floor to look at it better. He sees another golden hair. Alice. He holds a pale, tea stained finger to the button. He presses it.

-+-

Alice was early to form as usual. She sat on her usual seat at the back with Lewis Carroll’s book in front of her. She loved it because her name is Alice, and she too is curious. Her hazel eyes read over the words with haste and ease that only comes from reading a book over and over. She was excited because she had heard they were making a theatre version of the book, which might tour to their local city next year. Alice had barely been into the city, and was exceptionally excited.

But before then they were getting a new tutor, and Alice was not looking forward to that. She had heard rumours that he was mean and creepy; she had enough creepy people in her class. Hamish had enough creep to last a lifetime. Instead of counting her woes, she turned her thoughts back to the words in front of her. Although she didn’t admit it, she had a crush on the Mad Hatter. She didn’t know why, but there was something about his crazed tea parties that appealed to the pale youth.

On the verge of drifting into another fantasy, Beth walked in with her parasite Stayne.
“If it isn’t Alice reading her crappy book” The abnormally large headed girl sneered, leaning across the desk in front of Alice’s. Stayne, the dark haired and abnormally skinny lad stood next to Alice’s desk and whipped the book from under her, holding it up and out of her reach.
“Stayne give it back!” Alice demanded, remaining seated. Her dark hollowed eyes locked onto Stayne, Moments later he caved in and thrust the book back onto her desk. Although he’d never admit it, he had a crush on Alice.
“Stayne!” Beth yelped, “Why did you do that?”
“Because he’s not a villain like you.” Came another voice from the door. Mirana. Clad in her usual ditsy white dress she came swooping in the room, exceptionally elegant for a sixth former.
“Ugh, you.” Beth said. “What do you want?”
“I am in your class, let’s not pretend otherwise.” Mirana turned to Alice. “How was your holiday?” Alice smiled. She and Mirana had been good friends since her and Beth had moved to their town and school. Mirana had defended her whenever she found herself in trouble- which was often.
“Wonderful thank you. I didn’t have to deal with any annoying people.” She threw a glance at Beth who haughtily turned her head away. “Have you seen Nivens?” Mirana shook her head.
“He’s going to be late as usual! Someone should buy him a pocket watch!”
“Yeah I might!” Alice laughed. She imagined her short friend scampering around with a pocket watch, it would be most amusing!

During Mirana’s and Alice’s discussion the rest of the class (besides Nivens) had entered and were waiting for class to begin. At precisely 9am their new form teacher came in the room. Alice’s eyes glanced up from their book and froze. He had a bounce in his walk and a wide smile on his face.

He cheerfully went to his desk and wrote his name on the top of the board: Mr Tarrant.

-+-

Mr Tarrant presses the button. Nothing happens. He sits back onto his heels, disappointed. He glances around the cubicle. There are no other clues to Alice’s whereabouts in here. He stands, unlocks the door and stands in the room for a little while longer. Then a lady comes in. Oh! I’m so sorry Madam, I was just looking for a student of mine, allow me to leave. Oh, okay. He wanders back into the bar area. The bartender calls over. No luck then? No. Weird. Weird indeed.

Mr Tarrant walks over to the staircase that leads down away from the bar. He trots down the stairs, his usual bounce in his feet. He surveys the area. There is a rather eccentric looking man behind the reception desk wearing a full blue suit and smoking from a vapour pen. His eyes follow Mr Tarrant as he wanders around the room. Who are you? Sorry? Whoo are yoou? Oh, Mr Tarrant, I’m looking for one of my students, have you seen her? Alice? Aye! She went outside. Oh; which way did she go? Whichever way she wanted to. But, did you see? I can only see what I saw. And what was that? That she went left. Ta. Mr Tarrant? Aye. Mind you don’t lose your head. Sorry? But he doesn’t reply. Instead Mr Tarrant turns away, pulls his duffel coat collar up and wanders into the night. Left? Left it is.

-+-

“Who’s that?” Niven’s asked. Although they had been in class for a week, Niven’s had missed form everyday, so still hadn’t had the pleasure of meeting their new tutor.
“That’s our new tutor, Mr Tarrant.” Alice said, her warm eyes following the tall fire haired man crossing the playground. His bright orange hair was dishevelled and curling out beneath a small plain black top hat. His hair contrasted his suit spectacularly which was black and grey; plain black fitted trousers, deep grey shirt which was rolled up just below his elbows, a black waistcoat with a thin pocket watch chain, a jacket that was hooked on his finger over his shoulder and a plain black bow tie. He had piercing cheek bones and deeply set luminous green eyes. They gleamed like polished gems.
“Really? He looks… weird…” Nivens remarked, his buck teeth perched on his lower lip.

He frowned when Mr Tarrant glanced over and smiled. Nivens didn’t notice the wink that followed.

Alice did.

“I think he looks… cool. I like his hat.” She replied, not once removing her eyes from him. They slipped across his back and down to his ass, admiring the curve. “He’s Scottish too you know?” Nivens nodded, but his face grimaced.
“Oh aye that’s grand!” Nivens made a poor attempt of a Scottish accent. Alice hit his shoulder, but chuckled. “Ow! What was that for?”
“Your awful impression! Oh delightful, look, here comes the disease ridden.” Alice nodded across the expanse of concrete to Beth and Stayne who were approaching with their usual regal faces and poses. Nivens lent back, putting his hands on Alice’s back and pushing her in front.
“And what do you want?” Beth tilted her head to the side in response to Alice's question, pouted and shrugged. She then viciously signaled to Alice with her crazy eyes and eyebrows: Stayne nodded and approached Alice, standing up at full length. Alice frowned, eyes looking his lanky form up and down.
“NOW!” Beth shrieked. Stayne grabbed Nivens from behind Alice just as Alice stumbled back from the startling volume of the order. Alice fell right onto the floor, landing with a firm thump on her little blue dress.
“Ow!”
“Hahahahahaha!” Beth laughed, high pitched and squeaky. Stayne in this time was holding Nivens up by his collar making fun at the way Niven’s little legs dangled. Unfortunately for Alice, Mr Tarrant popped his head around the door and saw a Tarzan-esque Alice hurdling forward into Stayne and Beth simultaneously knocking all four of them onto the concrete whilst yelling “AAHHH!”

“What’s a going on here then?” Wide, rather shocked eyes frowned onto the group staggering up from the floor. Beth (obviously) was the first to talk.
“Alice Kingsleigh. Her! She just attacked us!” Beth’s small finger was pointing (and indeed poking) Alice’s face. Nivens was about to stage a protest when Alice said:
“Yes! I did. I admit it. I should have a detention Sir.” All three of them looked at her in amazement. Mr Tarrant nodded.
“Aye lass. It would seem you should. After school, my classroom. Don’t be late.” Mr Tarrant returned to his classroom. Beth turned to Alice, gawping.
“What did you do that for?” Alice turned to her with a blank expression.
“Don’t you worry. I’ll make you pay for this.” Alice then took Niven’s arm and walked with him across the playground to their next class. 
“Why did you do that? You could’ve got them in trouble.” Alice smiled.
“I have plenty of time to get them in trouble. But I don’t have plenty of time for him.” Nivens gasped. Then he shook his head.
“I don’t get it.”
“Mr Tarrant. Detention is perfect.”

Well, perhaps it wasn’t so unfortunate for Alice after all.

-+-

It is a clear night. Mr Tarrant has no idea where to begin. He has only come up to the city a few times so doesn’t know his way around very well. He begins by walking straight down the road. The concrete is dotted with circles of various shades of white, grey, pinks and blues of chewing gum. He pulls a ‘tea flavoured’ chewing gum out of his coat pocket. He didn’t previously know ‘tea chewing gum’ is a thing until he went to that school. Or more specifically, taught that form. Or more specifically, taught Alice. (Although, there are many things he didn't know before he met Alice.)

He pops one in his mouth and begins chewing. His Dr Marten clad feet tap on the concrete and of course it begins to bloody rain. The rain streaks merrily across the star dusted sky whilst the moon halos the expanse of darkness. He sighs, pausing to admire the openness. He likes it. But he also likes the theatre, so begins half walking, half jogging again so he can find Alice quicker. Closed shops are all he can see on this road, so he begins to glace down the side roads that web through the city.

One such path catches his eyes. It is lit by fluorescent gleams of light from signs reading “rabbit hole”, “tulgey-w”, “marmoreal”, “crims” and “wonderland”.

Of course, Mr Tarrant knows these are night clubs. He sighs and continues his way down the dim road, telling himself Alice is a school child. Shortly along the road, Mr Tarrant stops himself. A student, yes. But a child? No. She is 19. A sixth form retake. She couldn’t concentrate long enough to complete a year in one year. Being 19, she may well be in the nightclub.

How convenient. He quite fancies a drink.

-+-

Alice walked to the door. She took a deep breath and walked in. The room was empty. She sighed, frowning. She then took her usual seat at the back, pulled out her book and began reading. Shortly after a voice that was not deep and not Scottish said:
“This isn’t a book club.” She glanced up to see a small lady with an arched eye brow, a short white pixie hair cut with dark roots and large brown eyes, verging on black. Miss Mallymkun. “I don’t think Mr Tarrant would approve of you using this time for leisure when you have clearly done something wrong!” Her speech was quick and seemed to Alice to resemble a mouse scampering across the floor.
“I’m sorry Miss. What would you prefer for me to do?” Miss Mallymkun lowered the risen eye brow but then arched the other one. Alice couldn’t help but chuckle inwardly at that curious thing.
“Use your imagination!” She snapped. She then left the room. Alice sighed, closing her book and let her eyes gaze around Mr Tarrant’s room. Of course, he was a textiles teacher, so the whole room was a catalyst of different colour and fabric. Alice stood up and walked to one of the walls, opposite the door. It was completely covered in stripes of various fabrics and materials; lace, fluffy materials, course material, soft materials and velvet. Not one of the strips was the same colour as another. It was quite mad.

Alice ran her hand over the walls, her fingers touching and feeling. On the fluffy strip her fingers lingered, rubbing into the fabric. She smiled. One strip was almost black, with pink, yellow and white circles or ‘blobs’ on them. They almost looked like liquorish. One had roses on them, and, are those faces in the middle of the roses?
“Alice!”

Alice turned around with a start. Mr Tarrant was in the doorway, face blank and unreadable.
“Sorry Sir” Alice awkwardly glanced at him, but her eyes couldn’t linger on him. He looked at her coolly.
“Why are you here?” Alice frowned, hands beginning to fiddle uncomfortably.
“S-sorry Sir?” She stuttered. Get a grip Alice. She had to repeat herself as her voice came out brokenly quiet. The second time she said it it seemed to be too loud for the small-ish classroom. At this point Mr Tarrant moved, walking across to his desk. He pulled a chair up to it and gestured for Alice to sit on it. He then sat on the other side of the desk, leaning forward, his arms resting on the wooden surface. Alice sat: posture pristine and hands clasped in her lap. She glanced from him to the pot of pens on his desk, then to her hands.
“What happened earlier on?” She bit the inside of her cheek. His voice was bloody gorgeous…
“Um… I don’ know what came over me.”
“You could’ve seriously injured somebody, including your friend.”
“I know. I’m sorry.” There was a pause. Alice, whose eyes had remained on her lap rose to look at Mr Tarrant. His cat eyes were on her face. Assessing. She shifted on her seat and looked back at her lap. Her bottom lip slipped inside her mouth and her top row of teeth bit down on it.
“You know. I saw the whole thing.” Alice looked up, too slow to cover the confusion and shock in her eyes with a nonchalant expression. “You were just defending your friend. Why did you take the blame?”
“I…” Wanted a detention with you “Beth has been through some bad times, I thought I’d let her have a chance.” Her voice was small. He smiled.
“Aye.” Alice glanced up and smiled.
“What should I do Sir?”
“With Beth?”
“No. Erm, now.”
“Well, you can leave." Alice didn't look particularly impressed. "Or I could give you a job?” Alice nodded, a little too enthusiastically. “Aye. You can start with neatening that fabric, they’re very wonky as I put them up in a hurry. Then I’ll decide what you can do afterwards.” Alice stood up hastily and almost skipped to the fabrics. She looked at them for a while, before turning back to her teacher.
“Shall I take them down? I mean, to straighten them.”
“Whatever you want Alice.” Alice Alice Alice Alice in that tone of voice; with that accent with that mouth and those eyes.
“Righto.” Alice carefully took down each strip of fabric, and slowly began pinning them back on neatly. When she was about half way through Mr Tarrant said:
“What’s your favourite subject Alice?” Alice was so focused on her thoughts (or fantasies…) that the question almost made her stumble off the chair she was standing on to reach the higher pieces. She hoped he hadn’t noticed.
“Erm…” Alice remained pinning the fabrics onto the wall, but she smiled to herself that he was embarking on conversation. “Business.” She heard him make a surprised sound from behind.
“Really? I wouldn’t have guessed that.”
“Oh… What would you have guessed?”
“Considering I don’t know you yet, English. You seem to like reading.” Alice stopped mid pinning. Don’t know you yet, noticed her reading. That meant he had looked at her- “You okay?” Once again he bought her out of her thoughts.
“Yes sorry.” She finished that pin. It was the last one. Alice stepped down off the seat and looked at her handiwork. It was certainly neater.
“It looks great!” Alice turned to her left, and standing right next to her was Mr Tarrant. She hadn’t even noticed him moving. She smiled, fingers drumming against each other.
“Thanks.”
“You better go. It’s starting to get dark.”
“Oh it’s alright. I’m older than the others anyway.”
“Oh yeah?” She noticed the way he lifted an eye brow and was there a hint on flirtation in that smile? Don’t be silly.
“Yeah I had to um. Retake the year. Um…” Mr Tarrant chuckled.
“So did I, it’s fine. I’ll see you tomorrow.” Alice looked at him dumbfounded for a moment, but then remembered today was only Monday.
“Yes! Bye.” Alice picked up her bag and walked off, focusing too much on making her walking impressive that she almost stumbled down the stairs.
“Alice?” Alice turned sharply, eyes wide and eager. She glanced at Mr Tarrant’s hands. Clasped in them was her book. Oh. She smiled and moved forward to take the book, but at that moment he opened it and flicked to one of the pages. She knew the page upside down.

The Tea Party.

“I always thought the Mad Hatter and Alice should get together. Don’t you?” Alice looked at him, disbelieving her ears. His hat was stylishly crooked. At length she said
“Yeah…” He smiled at the page then looked at Alice, winked and handed her the book. She turned and made it out of sight without falling over. When she had rounded a corner she clasped her book to her chest, lent against the wall and exhaled a trembling breath she hadn’t realised she had been holding.

She was going to become a very troublesome student.

-+-

Mr Tarrant looks through the coloured glass into the closest club: rabbit hole. Judging from the practically nude ‘bunnies’ strutting around, beckoning drooling men over to them, this is a club that perhaps Alice would not find herself in. He figures she would find herself in a classic club, with actual dancing, not body rolling and grinding on unsubtly hard dicks. Mr Tarrant watches one such bunny for a moment though, not admitting to himself that he would very much like to go in there and experience this type of dancing on his...

He gasps as she notices at him through the window. She wears a blue bikini top and a darker blue thong, white stockings and matching glittery blue killer heels. Her ass is pert and although her breasts are relatively small her body is gorgeous. He can’t help but notice the belly button piercing too; a little red heart charm hangs from it. She winks, curling her finger at him and biting down on her lip, tilting her head to the side. He smiles a quick and somewhat intimidated smile before shaking his head. She pulls a sad face, but shrugs and turns away quickly, flicking her golden curls over her shoulder.

Mr Tarrant clears his throat. After a short while he turns up the road and wanders to the next club: tulgey-w. He guesses from the heavy metal screaming out of the blackened windows, skulls and weird looking trees on the wall around the door: it is a pretty dark place to find oneself in. Although Alice is a fascinating person, he presumes she wouldn’t have gone into the pits of that club. You could do nothing but get lost in a place like that. Mr Tarrant starts to continue to the next club when a grinning man appears in front of him. Mr Tarrant smiles awkwardly and walks around the fellow. He glances back as he continues to the next club, but the man is still grinning at him. Weird.

He stands in front of the next club: marmoreal. Like before, he glances in through the window and is shocked to see that it is completely white. His eyes adjust to the lighting inside, hands either side of his face to block any reflection, face against the glass. Then he notices the poles. Nope.

He pulls back and walks to the next club: crims. Judging from the women lurking by the entrance, with red and black corsets on and steam punk layered skirts, this alternate place isn’t Alice’s style. Unless Mr Tarrant doesn’t know her like he thinks he does…

The last club is the more likely one where he seeks his wayward student: wonderland. He nods to the bouncer by the door and wanders inside. He enters into a narrow corridor, with black and white checkered tiles and poster covered walls. A hole in the wall is labelled with ‘cloak room’. There is a lady perching forwards onto the ledge, her tattooed breasts squeezed together and pushed up. He smiles as he passes, but the smile doesn’t reach his eyes. He continues into the first club room, which is booming with classic crap club music. He grimaces, his bright eyes glancing anxiously around.

It is obviously dark but red, green, blue, purple, yellow, orange and pink lights flash like lightening strikes around the expanse; so for a few colour filled seconds he can make out peoples faces close to him and silhouettes of others at a distance. He notices some blondes by the bar across the dance floor, so he weaves through the dancing people to the other side. He orders a drink (or shouts his order to the bar tender as he leans right onto the bar so he can hear him) and then looks sideways at the girls. Not Alice. He takes his drink and turns, leaning on the bar and looking out. Across the floor, in a flash of blue light he sees a blonde walking into the next room.

Hastily he stands up straight and follows her. He hesitates as he approaches the doorway; it leads to stairs that spiral down a stair case out of sight. Perhaps this wasn’t the place he thought it was… It is then that he notices the sign above the doorway that reads ‘underland’. Curious, Mr Tarrant walks back to the entrance to the flashing lights room. That sign reads ‘over land’. Mr Tarrant goes back to the doorway and peers down into the darkness.

Sighing he begins walking down the steps, hands running along the wall as he spirals down into the darkness.

-+-

“Alice? Alice? ALICE?”
“Nivens don’t shout at me!”
“Well then listen!”
“What?” Niven’s struck the pen out of Alice’s hand and made it clatter onto the school playground. Alice scolded but didn’t go to pick it up. Niven’s looked dully at the little top hats lining Alice’s work book and glanced up at Alice disapprovingly. Alice shrugged. “What?”
“You know what.”
“Oh common, let’s not pretend that you haven’t checked out his booty.” Niven’s started to respond but apparently stopped himself. He then shot Alice an unimpressed look. It had been 5 weeks since Mr Tarrant had moved to their school, and Alice hadn’t made as much progress as she would like. She hadn’t even gotten into another detention. It was a shame really. “How’s that guy from that school you were talking to?”

Niven’s blushed, scolding mouth curving into a bashful smile. About three months ago Niven’s had finally excepted he was homosexual, and having been struggling for years with the complications of sexuality, to finally realise the truth was a welcome thing. It didn’t take long for him to get an almost boyfriend. (They were a couple, they just didn't admit it) They were adorable! 
“I’m not here to talk about him.” Alice playfully punched his shoulder, aware his almost boyfriend prompted blush was still on his cheeks. But she didn’t push it.
“Alright what do you want nerd?” Niven’s gestured with his head to Mr Tarrant’s room. Alice grinned but then sighed.
“I have not made much progress as I would like, I should have seen him naked by now!” Niven’s pulled a disturbed face, Alice chuckled.
“Nah I’m kidding.”
“Good!”
“…Not…”
“Alice!”
“Oh stop it I know I know. Common let’s go to class.” Niven’s frowned.
“But… the bell hasn’t gone yet.”
“I know. Common!” Alice grabbed her little friends arm and began to drag him across the gravel to Mr Tarrant’s room.
“Oh of course. We have textiles.” Alice beamed.
“Yes we do!”

Alice spent the entire lesson staring at the lines of Mr Tarrant’s face (if he was facing the class) or his back; the tight fitting shirt lined his shoulder blades and the curve of his spine. Her eyes often lingered on his ass, which was snugly fitted into his slender trousers. He had nice thighs too Alice noticed. At one point (where Alice was lost in thought, her eyes attached onto Mr Tarrant’s behind) Mr Tarrant turned around and caught Alice still looking at his nether regions. When she glanced up, his eyes were on her, and a harsh blush rose on her cheeks. Nivens, who sat a row in-front to Alice’s right turned round sharply to facially scold her. Alice gave him a look and went back to her task… wait… what was her task?

The bell went moments later and everyone filed out of the room. Niven’s gestured for her to follow as she sloowllyy gathered up her things, but Mr Tarrant called over to her.
“You haven’t finished have you Alice?” Alice shook her head, sitting heavily back onto her chair. “You know what that means?” Alice nodded her head, looking at the piece of material in front of her. “Good, so get it finished now please.” She almost couldn’t conceal her smile. Nivens bid her adieu and wandered off (almost walking into a wall, he wasn’t the most coordinated fellow). Mr Tarrant began wiping the board clean. Alice watched. After that he turned around and shook his head at Alice. “Why didn’t you do any during class?” Alice took three long seconds to admit:
“I was distracted, sorry” and she sighed with relief when he asked:
“A lot going on at home?” Alice nodded, pasting on a sincere facial expression. He nodded solemnly, apologised but reiterated that the task must be finished. She nodded. He then sat behind his desk and began working; Alice listened to the tap tap tap of his fingers on the keyboard. Oh to be a key on that keyboard that I might touch his... (Modern Shakespeare quotes? Utter madness!)

After a few moments, Alice realised that she didn’t have any idea what she was supposed to be doing.
“Sir?” Mr Tarrant glanced up, forehead creased and eyes oh those eyes. “What am I…?” She glanced awkwardly at the fabric on the desk in front of her. Mr Tarrant chuckled as he stood up and sauntered over to her desk. He then stood just behind Alice, leaning over her right shoulder so he could demonstrate. At this proximity, Alice was doomed to have no chance of concentration. He had this smell and she could feel his breath on her neck…
“…Does that make sense?”

Crap. “You weren’t listening were you?” She could feel his eyes on her. So close…
“Sorry, it’s just…”
“It’s okay. Do you, do you want to talk about it?” He paused, eyes worried. “What’s going on at home?” Mr Tarrant moved to her side and crouched on the floor next to her. Alice looked from the fabric to the man and back to the fabric. She shook her head, trying to look sad. He then put his hand on her shoulder and squeezed it gently before telling her to go back home if she wanted to. He then walked back to his desk. He paused.
“But, I’m here marking until about 6 if you want to hang around…” Alice glanced up from the piece of fabric to Mr Tarrant, who was facing away from her.
“Yeah um, thank you.” Mr Tarrant turned around and sat back at his desk. He smiled at her. She looked back at the fabric, willing the blush to not burn right down to her breasts…

Alice stayed with him for 2 and a half hours. Although they didn’t talk much, Alice became increasingly comfortable with his presence (although the blush hadn’t budged yet). At the end, when he gathered his things and they walked out together, he hesitated by his car. Alice’s heart practically pounded through her chest. But in the end he just bid her a good night, and a safe journey home. She smiled, slightly disappointed yet pleased with her progress.

There was always tomorrow.

-+-

Mr Tarrant walks down into the basement. It is darker than upstairs, and the flashing lights are only red. It’s like a combination of all the clubs he has passed outside. He gulped, wide panicking eyes latching onto various couples becoming rather intimate in various places of the room. It was a medium sized space, bigger than upstairs but with alcoves in the wall. In some of these alcoves there are seats, but in others there were women dancing behind jail styled bars. The rest of the space was a dance floor- where, like the rabbit hole, people weren’t really dancing- and a large bar across the room, with bar stools lining it.

Mr Tarrant shuffles uncomfortably where he stands, willing himself to cross the dance floor to get a drink. A necessary drink considering this room and this smell and oh! There she is. The blonde haired girl he remembers from upstairs. She’s got her back to him, chatting to somebody near the bar. He moves forwards, muttering ‘sorry’ as he passes people until he makes it to the bar. He orders a drink. Downs it. Then another. Downs it. His head is buzzing. Orders another, sips it.

He looks around the room again, then cautiously moves his eyes to the blonde. She is looking at him. It isn’t Alice. It’s the blonde bunny from rabbit hole…

Mr Tarrant has to do a double take, but judging from the wiry smile she’s giving him, she knows exactly who he is. She strolls over to him, then, as she grins at his pathetic attempt to shuffle away from her, she brushes her fingers against his hair to expose his ear. She then leans into it and whispers something. He pulls away from her uneasily, but her other hand moves and presses firmly against his chest. She repeats what she said into his ear again. He gulps. His eyes move to glance over her body uncomfortably but curiously. She says something else then pulls back, takes a hold of his hand and begins to lead him to a doorway next to the bar.

He stops, looking regretfully behind to the exit. She tugs at his hand again though, and smiles. It seems like a genuine smile, and so Mr Tarrant lets himself be led through the doorway. It leads to a dark corridor which, like a hotel room, as many doors along the side. As his eyes look along and past the girl leading him, he notices the corridor seems to shrink as it goes along, the white a black chequered floor seemingly swimming. He raises his eyebrows up to stretch up his eyes, trying to make the area seem less strange, but it does nothing. She then stops outside a door. She turns to him. The key’s in my bra. Mr Tarrant’s eyes automatically lower to her cleavage, and sure enough a key is tucked there.

She tilts her head back slightly, eyes narrowing on him. Open the door then. No I-. Take the key and open the door. He clears his throat and then slowly lifts his hands to carefully remove the key from her bra without touching anything else. After doing this he puts the key in the door and opens it. It is dark inside, but as he hesitantly walks inside his eyes adjust and he can make out a bed in the middle of the room. There is also a chair against the wall on the other side, but nothing else. The wallpaper is shabby and the carpet is worn. As the blonde enters, she flicks a switch which gives the room a faint blue hue. She then closes the door and locks it behind her.

Mr Tarrant stands awkwardly in the room, facing away from her. What’s your name? Um, Mr Tarrant. Oh, a mister are you? I’m a teacher. Oh, so, you want me to be a student? No! She laughs. I think that actually a yes, what’s my name? Mr Tarrant eyes the door. He should leave. He should be looking for the real Alice. She could be in danger. But then he finds himself telling her the name of his student:

Alice.

The blonde walks to him and begins massaging his shoulder. Mr Tarrant relaxes into the touch. It’s been years since he’s been touched tenderly. I need to go. How old is Alice? 19. What does she sound like? Like, like a child. Mr Tarrant closes his eyes and sighs against the touch, her hands moving down to massage his lower back. Like this? Her voice has changed, it is childish but self-assured. She sounds like Alice. Yes, just like that. And she’s blonde? Yes. You teach her? I’m her form tutor. Have you ever touched her? No! Do you want to? Mr Tarrant jolted away from her touch, turning to face her. He looks angry. He looks angry at her but also angry at herself. The blonde doesn’t seem bothered. I’m going to go now. Mr Tarrant? He stops, hands inches away from unlocking the door.

Can you put the key back where you found it? She still sounds like Alice... He stands motionless for a while, not wanting to look at the girl. He walks back to her, her deep brown eyes are focusing on his face. He steadies his breath then lifts his hand to put the key back. Just as he’s slotting it into her bra she clasps his hand and pushes it against her, so that it engulfs the small breast. She then squeezes his hand a few times whilst tilting her head back and arching against the touch. Mr Tarrant. She groans. He attempts to pull his hand back. Please Sir, don’t you want to touch your Alice? His eyes open wide with shock but he manages to get his hand out of hers and turn to the door. Or maybe you want your Alice to touch you, then you’re not doing anything wrong, you would just have to sit there.

Her voice is still Alice’s. Then he feels hands on his shoulders, gently pulling him backwards and turning him towards the chair across the room. He allows himself to be sat down and the blonde kneels in front of him. She doesn’t look much older than Alice, and there is a startling resemblance between them. I need to go. Her hands begin to rub up and down his thighs. Mr Tarrant shuffles on his chair, eyes darting from her blonde locks to the door.

He should go, find the real Alice, she needs him- but his thoughts are cut off from palms and fingers rubbing against his limp dick. He closes his eyes, inadvertently tilting his head back and releasing breaths that progressively get heavier. Say my name Sir. Shit she sounds so like Alice. Say my name Sir. No. Say my name Sir or I’ll stop. He hates himself as he’s getting hard from her rubbing. Alice Alice Alice Alice Alice Alice Alice. Please say my name Mr Tarrant, I want you. The rubbing gets firmer as his dick pushes against his trousers. His face is flushing and the heat progressively building is beginning to cut off all logical thought.

He can then feel fingers tugging out his shirt from being tucked in his trouser, and reaching under his shirt to rub against his nipples. He groans, body naturally moving against the touch. Say my name Sir, please. Her voice for fucks sake.

 

Alice.

 

He sighs as the name finally spills out of his mouth.

 

Then everything changes.

 

It’s Alice touching him. He opens his eyes and watches the blonde now beginning to unbutton his trousers; she glances up at him, a silent ask for him to lift his ass off the seat so she can pull his trousers and boxers down. Her face is now Alice. He stares at her, disbelieving what’s happening to him. Alice takes his length in her hands and slowly rubs up and down. Fuck Alice. Yes, what do you want me to do Sir?
Don’t stop.
Don’t stop Alice.

Chapter Text

Dam. Noun. 

a barrier constructed to hold back water and raise its level, forming a reservoir used to generate electricity or as a water supply.
example, "the dam burst after torrential rain"

-+-

When did this change from a childish crush?

-+-

“Don’t stop Alice!”

Sports day. Alice thought it would be a great idea to do long distance running. There were many reasons for her to do this. Firstly, she was able to train on the field which was right behind Mr Tarrant’s class room, so she could sneak a glance (or stare) at him as she jogged past. Secondly, if he saw her training then he might come out and watch her, which would be perfect. Thirdly, it would prove she was a rounded human being, who could exercise, engage in logical and intellectual conversation as well as being fun loving. Although she had been staying after school ‘working’ in his classroom for months now, she hadn’t felt like she had proved this… at all. Fourthly, he had suggested it. But fifthly, it would improve her fitness and hopefully make her more desirable.

So much time had passed since she started hanging around his classroom after school. He had started at the beginning of the school year, a muggy September day, and now May was upon them, and Alice was disappointed at the amount of progress she had made. Sure, they chatted easily, laughed often and even had a few seconds of leg touching (if he perched on the desk and her leg happened to fall to the side where his legs were, and it would linger momentarily before he would move away and sit at his desk). But other than that though, nothing else had been achieved physically. Well, there was that time when his dear friend had been taken into a mental institution, and she had attempted to comfort him, putting her hand on his arm.  She hadn’t left it there for long though for fear her sweaty palm would leave a mark.

He had recently told her that each piece of fabric reminded him of different people. Last week he had bought a new one, with gorgeous blue hues and paint splattered hearts. She had asked who that one reminded him of. He had simply winked and tapped the side of his nose. He simultaneously infuriated her and completely consumed her.

He was within every thought of hers, every daydream and every dream. Niven’s didn’t try to stop her from talking about him anymore. Instead he used her infatuation to get his way. ‘I’ll tell Mr Tarrant you did that.’ ‘I’ll tell Mr Tarrant you did this.’ Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. 

But at this moment in time, as Niven’s screamed at her from across the field, when Alice panted around the track, sweaty and tired, it didn’t seem like a good idea at all. Mainly because Mr Tarrant wasn’t even there, he was on a school trip, and she hadn’t slept at all last night, so was knackered. Why she hadn’t slept she wouldn’t admit to anyone. It did however have something to do with Mr Tarrant, her pillow and her fingers…

Alice tried to refocus on the present; she would need to win so that she could proudly tell Mr Tarrant about her achievements. On second thoughts though, if she lost she could become so distressed and upset he would comfort her. Both had their down falls and their perks.

Alice was out in front, beating the other students running around. Beth had already stopped in a strop and had sulked away into the changing room. She glanced behind her, to see how much distance she had between herself and the others. Stayne was gaining on her, now only a few meters behind. But, as Alice glanced around, she noticed a class crossing the field to stand where the other spectators were. They were led by a certain hatted teacher. Alice, in her shock and excitement had to do a double take (and maybe a second and third) which caused her to lose her footing and fall over. With a cry of “bollocks” she was on the floor. Stayne, grinning like a Chesire, took the opportunity and dramatically pranced over her with his long limbs. The spectators ‘ooohheed’ and ‘aahhhhed’ as Alice glanced up, eyes narrowed in determination despite a blush shimmering on her cheeks. She hoisted herself up and began to sprint. She knew, with the distance still left, that it would be very unlikely she could maintain this pace. But she did it anyway.

The spectators began clapping as she approached Stayne, her brow furrowed furiously. He glanced back and gasped at the careering girl approaching him, so he upped his pace too. Out the corner of her eye she could see Mr Tarrant (the finish line was by the spectators) which only propelled her further.

The finishing line. Just as Stayne thought he was making it past the line Alice forced herself out in front, beating him by an inch. Alice however, didn’t stop running. Instead she slowed down, but proceeded to jog out of sight of everyone (much to their confusion), where she doubled over and threw up. Nivens followed her round the corner, but on seeing her puking pulled a face and turned his back on her, instead keeping a look out. After Alice has finished, she and Nivens walked back to the track.
“Well, you showed him!”
“Didn’t I! Plus he looks so good today.”
Niven’s gasped. “You thought Stayne looked good?!”
“What? No! Tarrant.” Alice whispered, signalling to the group of students now wandering off the field, following their teacher.
“Oooh, I didn’t notice him.”
“Nope, you wouldn’t.”

When they reached the remaining spectators, Mr Thackery (their psychotic head master) presented her with a medal, and pitifully patted a sulking Stayne. Alice ad Niven’s then went off to the changing rooms, where Alice had a quick shower and changed back into her dress.

-+-

Mr Tarrant grunts and clasps onto Alice’s breast, using the other arm to keep himself from crushing her. She is beneath him, head tilting backwards and body laying out like excess material from hat making. As if he is sewing; pulling the thread in and out and in and out, so Mr Tarrant rolls his hips forwards and backwards and in and out of Alice. His clothes are discarded on the floor, and her dress is ruched around her waist. He groans and shudders as he comes, arms giving way and dropping him onto the bed. He quickly rolls sideways though, so not to hurt Alice. As he relaxes from coming, he puts an arm around her to pull her into a hug, but is taken aback when she yanks her body away and stands instead. You’re screwed up. Mr Tarrant sits up, confused. He looks at Alice, her blonde hair dishevelled. So that’s what her sex hair looks like. He watches her get dressed, tying up the bikini top. You are disgusting. Why are you saying that? Seriously!? Um, yes… You’re honestly asking me why? Mr Tarrant has no idea.

But then, as if regaining consciousness from a drunken stupor he remembers this isn’t Alice. You are seriously screwed up, you need help.

Mr Tarrant stares at her dumbfounded.

She puts on the rest of her outfit and her heels.

Mr Tarrant goes to speak, but what can one say in response? He had completely become consumed by the fantasy that he was fucking his student.

Shit.

What does this mean?

I only take cash.

What does this make him?

Oi, are you listening?

Mr Tarrant groans again, but not from pleasure. He is swiftly slapped from his self pity by a firm hand across his cheek. Mr Tarrant sir are you going to pay me? Once again, Mr Tarrant is taken aback, but then zones in on his situation. He just had sex with a prostitute. He leans forward off the bed and grabs his trousers, pulling his wallet from the pocket. He then hands his wallet to her, leaning forward onto his knees and covering his eyes. The wallet is then thrown at him and the door held open. He sighs, quickly dressing himself and walking out. He emerges through into ‘underland’ and it seems to him that all eyes are narrow onto his debauched body. He lowers his head and walks hastily outside.

-+-

“Well done you, I thought Stayne had you for a moment there!” Mr Tarrant said, leaning unknowingly coolly and sexily against the white board, chewing the end of his pen with a smirk. Alice, who had only just walked in for her daily after school ‘session’ flushed and grinned. She went wordlessly to her usual seat, which was no longer at the back but was at the front. She got out her homework which was set earlier in maths. He remained where he was, waiting for her reply. Something he’d learnt is that she had a reply for everything.
“Stayne could never have me.” There it was. Mr Tarrant chuckled, and sat at his desk, leaning forward onto the wood.
“No I don’t believe he could.”
She looked at him, joining his chuckle. They held each others eyes for what would be an uncomfortable amount of time if they weren’t so well acquainted by now. Alice realised, they had come a long way. His eyes glinted. They had a definite shine behind them, as if fairy lights were strung along the inside of his skull, illuminating through his sockets and shining out to her. It reminded her briefly of that book with the green light… what was that again?
She looked away first, still smiling. She rearranged the papers on her desk. She looked back up though; her smile like a passing shadow on her face. He was still looking at her, not smiling now though. He had never appeared so intense, so focused. Alice’s mind dropped every single thought it had at that moment, and was somehow once again completely reclaimed by Tarrant. Why was he looking at her?

As if from a daze he blinked and looked away. He went on his computer and didn’t glance at her again. Alice, utterly confused, remained watching him until she almost believed she had hallucinated him staring at her.

When she left that day, ten minutes earlier than usual, he didn’t even look up when he said goodbye to her.

-+-

His eyes look out across an expanse of grass. Even in the big city they have parks. Across the field he sees shadows moving through the randomly scattered trees. Silhouettes against the suspended moon. Two figures. For some reason his eyes don’t let him look away from the figures. Reluctantly he walks across the grass and approaches them.

As he gets closer his anxiety grows, and he finds his feet begin to hasten. He hastens into a run. He sprints. When he reaches the couple he careers into the man and rugby tackles him onto the ground. The girl shrieks, her golden curls dishevelled and blowing back in the breeze. Mr Tarrant pulls up and plants his fists a few times into the mans face. Before he can plant anymore he is roughly pulled back by a small but firm hand. Mr Tarrant looks up at the blonde. Confusion is written across his face moments before an adrenalized fist is planted in his face and a foot kicked into his groin. He leans forward, groaning.

By this time the man has vaguely recovered and is wobbly finding his footing again. Like the blonde, his foot finds his way into Mr Tarrant, but curves under his body, finding the tender stomach. Stop I’m sorry, I thought you were someone else. Another kick. Yeah well I aint, my names Banderson, so you can rot in hell freak! At this, Banderson pulls out a pocket knife and makes a firm cut across Mr Tarrants arm. Mr Tarrant squeals, grasping his arm. They leave.

Mr Tarrant rolls onto his back, gasping to regain his breath again.

Then, a peculiar face appears above him.

The same man from the clubs earlier on.

The grinning guy.

Tarrant notices he has a waxed, curled moustache which flicks out like cat whiskers. He grins over Mr Tarrant, huge eyes scanning over his body.

It looks like you ran afoul of something with wicked claws, what did that to you? Bander who, the bander… Mr Banderson!? The man looks almost excited at the name. Well, I’d better have a look. The man is then kneeling behind Mr Tarrant and is pulling his coat off to look at the wound. Mr Tarrant shifts away slightly, alarmed at how the man was there a second ago but is now here… The thought is cut off though by his pain which seems to pulse through him all at once. What are you doing? It needs to be purified by someone with evaporating skills, or it will fester and putrefy. Evaporating skills? The pain again. Mr Tarrant lifts his hand to his head, he must have been knocked out when he was beaten and be dreaming…

I’d rather you didn’t. I’ll be fine as soon as I wake up. At least let me bind it for you? But the odd fellow was already wrapping the cut in a piece of cloth which conveniently matches Mr Tarrant’s outfit. What are you looking for? Mr Tarrant shakes his head. Alice. The Alice? Mr Tarrant looks around confusedly at the man but he has gone. Mr Tarrant, eyes wide and hand unashamedly trembling stands and hastily walks back across the grass. 

This night is not going well.

-+-

Alice goes into the classroom, but was surprised and incredibly disappointed to see it empty. Mr Tarrant was in earlier, where could he be now?

She wandered to her normal seat, but on her way over her curious eye couldn’t help but wander to his desk… and his top locked drawer. Through her months spent there she knew where the key was, but also knew he never opened it when anyone was around. Beginning to shake with anticipation she found the key and put it into the lock. A small metallic sound and it opened. She pulled the drawer open to reveal a small notepad. That was all. She frowned, somewhat disappointed. The notepad was unassuming, with ‘notepad’ written in an array of colours over the front. She glanced briefly around the room before grabbing it in her small hands, perching on his desk and opening it up. She flicked past the first few pages, which were nothing of interest. But then, about half way through the book of random notes the handwriting changed, it became more frantic and messy. The first entry like that read:
‘“Did you think she’d come back to you?
Did you think that she would want to see you again?
Did you honestly think she could love you? ”’
Alice frowned, who could he be talking about?
She flicked to the next page, which had little hearts and top hat doodles all over the pages. Written randomly and messily across the pages were words and phrases like ‘Well, you have been away for so long, and I have missed you dearly’. Although it made her confused, none of this effected Alice greatly. Although the thought did cross her mind that his doodles were a lot like hers. She was even about to put it down and leave for home when… Right  near the back of the book, hidden amongst empty pages, was this:
‘And you’ve been leaning over me in my imagination: 
Your small pale hands free from their little blue gloves… 
Your small pale body free from your little blue dress… 
Your blonde curls water falling over your collar bone with little purple bruises…’

Alice gasped as she read the last line, her own golden hair starting to get damp from the sweat beading along her forehead and gathering underneath her mane. This and the look he gave her the other day-

The door opened. Startled she stood, dropping the book onto the floor. Mr Tarrant’s eyes glanced at the book and then up to her, her face showing her guilt. For a second he seemed afraid, but that is hastily covered and for weeks after that event Alice wonders if she’d imagined that too. At that moment though, he silently picked up the book and returned it into its drawer, locked it and put the key into his breast pocket. He then held open the door in a silent invitation to leave. She nodded, lowered her head and walked out.

What was going on?

-+-

Mr Tarrant clasps his face in his hands. Fascinatingly, his arm doesn’t hurt. He tries not to think about what that creep must have somehow slipped him while he was unconscious. Instead he refocuses on his mission, finding his wayward student. If he’s completely honest with himself though, he doesn’t blame her for disappearing. All the things that have been happening recently, like the Beth incident, couldn’t be making life easy for her. He would be lying too, if he said he hadn’t noticed her grades slipping lower and lower too. 

He wanders back onto the main street and looks up and down the road. Bugger all. He pulls his coat closer to him, determined to find Alice and make amends. He has been a complete prick recently, and he knows it. He passes dark windows, closed shops. Just as he begins to think all little bits of hope are abandoning him, a light further down the road catches his eye.

-+-

Alice hadn’t been able to concentrate. Not since the notepad incident. Her grades are going down. Mr Tarrant glances carefully at her across the room. She’s vacant, not sniggering with Nivens as usual. In fact, Nivens, who is surprisingly observant for a seemingly dim-witted boy, shrugs at his teacher, acknowledging the unusual behaviour but not its source.

That incident was last month now, and she hadn’t been to his room after school since. It was lonely now, too quiet. He knew he needed to talk to her, reassure her that the writing in the book wasn’t about her.

But he was a terrible liar.

Alice forced her eyes to remain on the empty spaces in front of her, forced herself to finish the line of stitching so he had absolutely no excuse for keeping her back. The bell rang. Alice was the first to slide back her chair and stuff her material into her bag. Nivens eyed her, horrified at the pace. He didn’t stop her though as she walked briskly from the room and out onto the courtyard. She walked purposefully to the school exit.

“Alice wait!”

Beth.

Alice stopped, groaning to herself.
“What do you want Beth?”
“You and your boyfriend have an argument?” Alice knew instantly who she was referring to. She wasn’t thick. She had heard the others comment on how she was always in his room after school, always caught looking at him. It started as a joke, but now some of them were becoming malicious, and it was causing Alice to spiral deeper into the fire of wild hair and emerald smoke. Recently they would stick fake love letters to her locker, signed with a little doodle of a top hat. They would watch her read it, see the hope shimmering like boiling water in her eyes. The boiling water would abruptly stop though when she heard hysterical laughter round the corner. She really thought it was from him!! She would shred the note and leave the pieces scattered on the floor. She told Nivens and he said she should tell him, it was bullying. She refused, instead writing a brooding poem.

What?!”
“Your boyfriend, Mister Tar-raant.” Alice rolled her eyes, turned and carried on walking away. “You get back here bitch!” Alice waved her middle finger behind her back. “Stop!!” Alice cringed, even for Beth that was high pitched. She turned to look exasperatedly at Beth.
“Can’t you just leave me alone? I’m having a crap day.”
“Ooh hunny.” Beth cooed, little feet fast approaching Alice. Alice stood her ground though, anticipating what would come out of that royal stuck up filths mouth- “You sexually frustrated because you couldn’t get his fucking dick up?”

Alice’s jaw dropped, eyes narrowed on Beth.
“Excuse me?!”
“You not getting any from him?” Beth revelled in this moment, as she knew she had hit a nerve. She intended to sever it.

“Probably because he’s too busy sticking his large, pulsing cock in my mouth.”

If Alice had ever been angry before, it was nothing compared to that moment. That moment when Alice had an image of her Mr Tarrant open and exposed to Beth. Panting. Coming. Groaning a name which wasn’t Alice.

Alice took a step forward and threw an incredibly aimed punch directly into that pretty little mouth. Beth stumbled backwards, hand clasping up to her mouth. She looked genuinely scared. Too bloody right.

“You talk about Mr Tarrant that way again and I will personally fuck your mouth with a carving knife!”

 

Silence.

 

Beth stared at her, eyes so incredibly wide Alice thought they must fall out of her skull.
Alice stared back, equally if not more horrified that she had said such a ghastly thing.

 

Beth turned abruptly and began running away.
Alice began to follow her, calling her back, screaming ‘sorry’ across the concreted entrance/exit to their school. She stopped though, breathing heavy.

She stood there for a long while, as if she had been suddenly immersed in a dark fog. Shit, did she really like Mr Tarrant that much? Did she love him? What had these months done to her?

She didn’t know.

Instead of figuring it out though she turned and headed towards his classroom. She rubbed her fists subconsciously, still contained within her head. As she approached the room she stopped. He was looking at her out the window.

She gasped, blinked a few time and turned away, heading back towards the exit. What am I doing? She was all at once perplexed and walked away in a daze.

“Alice?!” She turned to see Mr Tarrant at his door, looking concernedly at her. She paused before turning to face him.
“Yeah?”
“I saw Beth follow you out, you okay?”
“Did you see what happened!” Alice asked too quickly. He hesitated.
“No. I didn’t. Should I have?” She shook her head. He nodded thoughtfully. “Come in Alice.” She glanced at him, unsure, but she did walk up past him into his room. She didn’t look at him though. She went straight to her chair and sat.

The room was so silent.

 “Alice?”
Alice’s eyes shuffled around the table in front of her, counting the cracks on the table. One two three four five…
“Alice!?” She glanced up. He was standing, hands hung awkwardly at his side, not knowing what they were meant to be doing. His face was concerned, mouth opening and closing like a fish trying to figure out how to breath, or, not breath.
“Yes Sir.”
“What’s going on?”
“I don’t understand Sir.”
“Well, you haven’t been coming to my class after school. And what just happened outside?”
Alice shrugged. Oh my life is this what love is? I feel like I’m sinking and that my vagina is going to explode simultaneously.
He sighed. He then looked awkwardly around the room for a time before sitting himself down behind the desk. He watched her though. Not again.

At length he said,
“You can leave if you want Alice.”

She looked at him. She looked away. She made no attempt to leave.
He stopped looking at her and turned his attention to his computer.

After a time Alice said,
“They tease me. Well, Nivens says bully. But. I don’t. I don’t really know.”
She avoided looking at him, but when she did he looked frightened and worried. He didn’t say anything though. “I punched Beth in the face. She’ll probably just tell you anyway.” Alice was looking him dead pan in the face. He somehow looked different to her now… “She’s not nice. She had it coming. I should go.” She stood, gathered her stuff and was heading to the door when

“The notepad. I hope it hasn’t changed anything.” She turned to him. He looked almost pleading. All at once she didn’t see him as a teacher (as teachers don’t have emotions and feelings) but just as a man who was quite obviously embarrassed and concerned. Who cared.

She just shrugged though, gave a small smile and continued to the door.
“Alice?” She stopped again, turning back around. “I won’t tell anyone. About Beth.”
Alice smiled again. She lifted her hand and rubbed her eyes. Another pause.

She eyed the fabric on the wall. A smile crept across her face. She put her bag on the nearest table to her and headed over to the fabrics. They were still pinned the same way she had done it all that time ago. It felt like years ago, but also yesterday.
“Who’s this one again?” She pointed to a beige fabric which had browns patches on it. Mr Tarrant peered over, before coming to stand by her. He leaned back against a table, eyes scanning over the wall. He chuckled.
“Miss.” He mockingly coughed “Mallymkun.” She laughed, it wasn’t the nicest fabric. “No that’s not fair! I like the fabric, don’t get me wrong. But like brown, sometimes she can be a bit… tiresome. Moody. You know?” Alice was too busy giggling to herself, thinking of what face Miss Mallymkun would be pulling right  now if she could hear what Mr Tarrant was saying about her. “Why are you laughing?!” She just laughed more though. The table he was leaning on was the same one behind her, so she stepped back and sat on it, caught in the ridiculous giggles which, like diseases, were infectious.

He nudged her playfully, in a futile attempt to stop her from laughing. She nudged him back, and this continued until she finally, with tears on her cheeks and face red from lack of breathing, managed to compose herself. She sighed, eyes looking through wetness at the fabrics.
“The blue one?”
“My favourite one?”
“Yeah. Who’s that?” She looked sideways at him, a smile still on her face, he looked at it and then coolly bought those gems to look at her before moving them back to the wall.
“A special person.”
“Yeah, but who?”
He shook his head.
“Can’t say.”

Her eyes were still on him. She sucked in her lips thoughtfully. He looked back at her.

The air was still.

She then put her hand in the table space between them, and without thinking leaned in to kiss him. Inches before touching he pulled away, standing gruffly and looking angrily at her.
“Alice!” He gasped, as if it was all her fault! He looked around the room aghast. He staggered back, as if he had just been hit, not knowing where to put himself. Alice stood, hurt obvious on her face. “I’m you’re teacher!”
“I don’t care!” She snapped. “I don’t care that I’m your student. I’m 19, I’m an adult and I can make my own decisions. I can choose who I love. What I do with them. What I don’t.” She stopped. She had said it.

She had said it.

He froze too. Their eyes remained locked, like magnets. Maybe they were always doomed.

Overcome by the undeniable electricity in the room between them, she moved forward towards him which forced him to back into the chair behind his desk. She never intended to keep going until she was sitting on his lap, thighs quivering and gasping on either side of him. Her mouth, if they couldn’t have his lips, went to his jaw, moving, sucking and nibbling at his skin.
He tried to be noble, to push her away, but he’d be lying if the soft, firm hands untying his bow tie and loosening his top buttons weren’t what he wished for. He could feel himself getting hard beneath her, and she felt it too.

His hands gripped more firmly at her waist though when she started rocking against him, her lower tummy incredibly tight and grasping. He pushed her back with more force, and she pulled back from his neck, dark, dark eyed and mouth open, taking in deep breaths.
“Alice stop.”
“Don’t you want this?”
He didn’t respond.

She pushed her hand in the tight gap between them, fingers pushing down against his cock. Although he groaned, he took both her wrists in his hands and pulled them off him.

“Alice.” He breathed. She felt like she could die. “Don’t make this more difficult.”

She looked at him, anger flicking in her eyes. She slid off his lap and left.

He leant forward into his hands, leaning on his knees. His hands ran over his face.
You really screwed it up this time Tarrant.

It was the school trip in two days time.

-+-

A 24hour café. It looks awful, paint peeling off ghastly plastered walls. Filthy gingham table cloths. Waiters with more stains than clean patches on their aprons. A floor which looks like it hasn’t been washed since the stone ages. Creepy, lonely, sad old men with rings of grey hair around bald patches. They eye up the only girl in there; a pretty blonde with her puffy red eyes- staring at a book in front of her.

Mr Tarrant notices though, that although she is indeed looking at the book, she is not reading it, but instead writing calm then frantic notes across the words and around the edges. She then seems to calm and resume writing and reading, before scribbling angrily at the book. She even drops the pen, covers her face with her hands and almost looks like she’s going to rip her curls out. Monetarily, she drops her hands, tilts her head back slightly and takes a deep breath. She looks exhausted. She lowers her head then, shakes it, picks up her mug, holds it in her hands, sips it every now and again and stares at a crack on the opposite side of the room.

Mr Tarrant sighs. He doesn’t go into the café though, instead remains at the window looking in, deciding what he should do next. Before he can decide she has glanced over to the window and has seen him. She gasps. He looks awful.

She quickly gathers her things and goes out to him. He steps back, but she moves forward. What happened to you? His hair is even more wild than usual, an untamed wild, his face is bruised, arm clearly bleeding and is slightly hunched over as if he has a cramp. Oh um. What happened to you?

You happened, I guess.

-+-

Alright class! Miss Mallymkun. Nobody listened. Class!! A few obedient students hushed, but most of them continued their bickering. They had been on the coach for almost an hour now, and were almost at the theatre where they would see the long awaited “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”
Class please! Mr Tarrant only had to ask them once and he had everyone’s attention. He just had that kind of aura. One would listen to him, even if his Scottish gibberish sometimes made absolutely no sense what so ever. They looked at him, all eager. Except one. He had to force his eyes away from his prize student. The student who only 2 days ago had ravished his neck and was the reason he secured his coat so high around his neck. Was the reason he felt like he was permanently panicking and he was sure, causing him high blood pressure.

Beth had never mentioned anything though, which did help his situation.

The bus finally stopped.

Then, into the theatre. A few had noticed Alice’s silent slip away from the crowd. It wasn’t meticulous planning, just walking like you know where it is you’re going to. Truth is, she didn’t know. But that was okay. She just knew, it was the end of term and she couldn’t be watching that play. At least, not with him.

So, they sat waiting for “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” to begin. The few who saw Alice leave knew Mr Tarrant would notice as soon as he did his head count that she was missing. Sure enough, his eyes glinting in the auditorium, he whispered something to Miss Mallymkun. And then he left into a wash of yellow light.

Those students never saw him again.

-+-

“So I ruined you?”
“No, you couldn’t ruin me Alice.” She just stared at him. She had no idea what to say. She was so tired. She hadn’t been sleeping, she was failing, she knew she was in big trouble now for running off, knew he would probably get into lots of trouble, knew she couldn’t, and couldn’t fail this year again. Tears were welling in her eyes again though. He took a sharp intake of breath, but didn’t move to comfort her. She just sobbed, eyes flicking from him to the concrete.
“Have you ever…” She stuttered. “Ever been in love?” She looked at him almost pleadingly. Fuck she hated this. She had to seek strength in the over powering feelings she had never had before, or else she would go mad. She had never truly cared for anything, only her father. But now, now the world was a tree and she was skipping from branch to branch, climbing higher and higher, never looking down. She had never thought about falling. He nodded his head. She continued to look at him. He held her eyes. “You ruined me.” She sobbed. He was blurry behind the waterfall over her eyes. She blinked them down, lifting her hand to wipe her face.
In silence they looked at each other. A soundless dam had built between them. Alice had thought she had broken it the other day but she realised now, that here, in this random street with no one else to witness but the sados in the café, that the dam was still there. Her water was pushing from her side, and his was pushing from the other. They were both torrential raining. She hadn’t noticed it before, but now she saw, he had been battling since that first detention. Although those emerald eyes are so steady, he could never conceal the underlying worry, not if she really looked hard at them. The underlying fear concealed in the gems nestled there. The fear of falling in love with a student. And now she was looking at them. Looking at them and wondering when this had changed from a childish teacher crush to somebody who she could drown on. Would drown on. Willingly.

“Come back with me.”
She hadn’t even realised she’d said anything. It was only his startled face, his hasty look at his watch and his glancing up and down the street which informed her. “Mums away and, well, you know about dad. Please. Just this once.” He looked at her. He wanted to. She knew that. He knew that. However he also knew he couldn’t be with her, not like she wanted long term. Oh he would love to. But he couldn’t. They were worlds apart, even if throughout this year their worlds had touched.

“Okay.” He said, reaching out his hand. She took it.

-+-

Their dams broke.

Hours passed.

Being with her in real life was nothing like the bunny from earlier.

Being with him in real life was nothing like her fantasies.

Being together was nothing like they would ever have again.
And they knew it.

-+-

The sun begins to streak in through the window. Alice yawns, blinking awake to a pair of emeralds. She smiles, but it is edged in sadness. He kisses her. Not like last night, but slowly, cupping her face and wordlessly telling her that she is the Alice to his Hatter. She thinks back to what he had said once: “I always thought the Mad Hatter and Alice should get together. Don’t you?”

They lay there in silence for a while, before Mr Tarrant gets up and begins getting ready. She watches him, unmoving. When he is fully dressed she whispers:

“You could stay.”

Mr Tarrant turns to look at her. There is still a tiny glimmer of child like hope in her eyes. She tries a smile, but they both know the outcome of this. He moves over to the bed, sits and takes her hand. He closes his eyes and places a kiss onto her knuckles.

“What an idea.

What a mad, crazy, wonderful idea…

But I can’t.”

Alice nods. He then leans foreword, kisses her forehead, then, without another word, leaves.

-+-

At school their last week, they have a supply teacher. Piece by piece the fabrics are removed from the wall. She notices though, as she watches the fabrics being removed by a sorrowful Miss Mallymkun that the blue fabric is missing. Alice has to turn away for fear of crying again, but the thought plays on her mind all day. Niven’s gives her space in the days that follow, not asking what happened that night although he knows something did.

The end of term comes. She is the last to leave his classroom, still clinging onto him. Nivens waits for her at the bench. When she eventually comes out, they don’t say a word but wander to their homes.

When her 20th birthday comes, she goes down stairs to find a parcel already at her door. She brings in the box and opens it. Inside is a bunch of little flowers. They are wrapped in fabric.

Sewn onto the back of the fabric is ‘10/6’.

She looks at the present, expecting tears to drown her eyes again. But they don’t. She just smiles.

The little flowers were blue with little yellow circles in their centre.

Forget – me – not.
This was goodbye, at least until their threads crossed again. She hoped they would.

She pulls off the fabric and holds it to her lips.
It’s blue with paint splattered hearts.

His favourite. Oh how she had hoped it was her.

The Hatters favourite fabric.

 

-+-

 

The emerald is a sacred stone.
It was thought to preserve love.
It has long been the symbol of hope.