Disclaimer: I don't own Psych, nor any of the places, things, characters, or ideas therein. Those things belong to USA Network and Steve Franks. Alice in Wonderland belongs to Lewis Carroll, Disney, and Tim Burton. I am writing this fic for entertainment purposes only, not monetary gain, and since it's a fic -- I don't own it. Any of it. I'm only hoping for a couple of reviews, honest…
Summary: Perhaps she was losing her mind, but she was very sure she just saw Gus throw a teacup at her -- and was that Shawn in a top hat? Fluffy Shules craziness to celebrate my 100th fic.
Warnings: Fluff, hilarity, and a little craziness
Dedication: To every last single one of the amazing people who have read my stories, reviewed them, favorited them, put them on their story alert lists, and added me to their favorite author/author alert lists. I appreciate you all so very much, and could never have reached 100 stories without all of you. So this is dedicated to all of my current readers, and to those who are to come. Thank you all, and I hope you enjoy this piece! It's going to be a wild but fun ride… -wink-
Author's Note: My twin sister jewel of athos requested/challenged me to write a Delightfully Mad Tea Party, Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland style, for her. And thus this fic was born! And since I'm writing this fic for my twin, and I'm combining things that I adore, Alice in Wonderland and Psych (not to mention Shules and Alice/Hatter) into one fic, I decided to make this my 100th fic posted here. It's a little crazy, a lot funny (I hope), and I hope you all enjoy it! Here's to another 100 fics, eh? ~fyd
A Delightfully Mad Tea Party
The last thing Juliet recalled was falling, falling, down into blackness so thick she couldn't even make out the shape of the walls she was bouncing into as she fell. Other things were falling with her too, she realized slowly, because she could feel them bouncing off her body as she tumbled head-over-heels.
Where was she? And, more importantly, where was she going?
So suddenly it nearly blinded her, a bright light appeared at the end of the long space she was falling -- up? Sure enough, somehow during her tumble she had reversed trajectory, and was now going up instead of down.
I didn't even know it was possible to fall up, Juliet thought. I wonder what's up there…?
The thought had no sooner crossed her mind when she found out. She flopped out of a hole at the base of a tree like a half-dead fish, her fingers scrabbling for purchase so she could drag herself the rest of the way out. No way did she want to fall down or up that dreadful hole again!
She managed to get her feet under her, and pushed herself into a standing position. She took only a moment to knock the dirt off her dress (hadn't she been wearing pants before?), before looking up and around.
The riot of color nearly knocked her off her feet. Everything was unnaturally, vibrantly fluorescent, so much so it almost made her sick to look at it for a moment. But once her eyes adjusted, she started to think it wasn't so bad, maybe. Just -- different.
Lifting her skirts so they wouldn't impede her (bare) feet, she started off. Since she was there, she'd might as well investigate. She certainly wasn't going to go back down (up?) the hole she'd arrived through; so it seemed appropriate, therefore, to try find another way out of this crazy place.
What she didn't realize at the time was that she hadn't even seen crazy yet…
All manner of creatures buzzed around her as she walked along. Some of them looked like oversize dragonflies, others like living rocking horses with wings. Juliet knew she had to be in a dream, or perhaps a nightmare, but whatever made her have such a strange one?
Juliet wandered along, looking around for anyone even remotely human looking as she investigated this strange place in which she found herself. Surely there was someone around who could direct her back to reality…
Then, in the distance, she heard what sounded like a phonograph, of all things, playing a scratchy but recognizable old-time tune. Juliet hesitated only a moment before heading in that direction, deciding that where there was music, there had to be people. And people were the next best thing to an exit from this place.
For a brief moment, she wished she had her gun. Then she shook off the feeling, smiling wryly since that sounded like something her partner, Carlton Lassiter, would have said.
Shaking off her momentary levity, she continued on toward the music, which was getting progressively louder the closer in proximity she got to it. She started having to force herself to keep moving forward as a sudden nervousness overtook her. What was the matter with her?
It's just a dream, she told herself firmly. Dreams can be weird, but they can never hurt you.
At last the trees in the forest she'd been trudging through for the past few minutes (or was it hours?) thinned, and she reached a little clearing. But it was nothing like she expected.
In the background was a big windmill type building, but it was in horrible disrepair, the blades broken and dangling like floppy bunny ears. The vacant windows stared at her like eyes, unsettling her greatly. She looked away almost immediately, toward what seemed to be the focus of the clearing.
Three tables of different sizes lined up in front of the broken-down windmill, with at least a dozen chairs lining it on either side. The white tablecloth looked like it had not been cleaned in a good while, and there were so many mismatched tea sets atop it Juliet could not count them all.
At the head of the table, in a faded but ornate chair, sat a figure who was obviously snoozing, face hidden by the brim of his top hat. A few chairs down from his left, another figure sat, deftly rearranging the tea things directly in front of him.
She must have made some sort of involuntary sound of surprise, for the person sitting at the head of the table lifted his head, looking quite depressed as he peered in her direction.
Juliet stopped a few feet from the opposite end of the table in shock, her mouth falling open in surprised recognition.
Inhumanly green eyes brightened visibly as the droopy, faded tie at his throat suddenly fluffed out and gained color. Grinning widely, he leaped from his seat and onto the table, taking the most direct route towards her, scattering tea things. The other figure, whom Juliet also recognized, snatched a couple of teapots out of the way and scolded loudly, "Hey, watch where you're going!"
The first ignored the second, stepping from the edge of the table to a low stool, then to the ground. Juliet took an involuntary step back as he stopped right in front of her, his wide eyes focused with obvious rapture on her face. "It's you!" he declared.
"I -- pardon?" She blinked in surprise.
"It's not her!" the other grumped. "She's late for tea!"
The green-eyed one in front of her snatched her shoulders and pulled her down into a crouch as a tea pot (thankfully empty) soared over their heads and smashed against a tree. As he pulled them upright again, he grinned and said, "It's absolutely you, Juliet. I'd know you anywhere!"
Knocking his hands away, she said, "Shawn, what are you talking about?" Because, despite his strange appearance, there was no doubt in her mind that the man standing before her was Shawn Spencer.
His gaze turned puzzled, and he tipped his head to the side. "Who?" he asked curiously. "I'm known as the Hatter. The Mad Hatter."
"He is!" agreed the man still sitting at the table.
Juliet leaned around not-Shawn to look. "Gus!"
Somehow, someway, Shawn had figured out a way to play a very elaborate joke on her, and had managed to drag Gus into it, too. But she would not be deterred. "I know you are both playing with me," she declared. "You've had your fun now, so 'fess up, guys!"
This time both of them were staring at her like she'd lost her marbles, eyebrows raised in similar expressions of confusion and befuddlement. Though, Juliet thought dryly, she was the one who should be confused and befuddled. "Please?" she whispered.
Shrugging, not-Shawn (Hatter, she immediately corrected herself) snatched up her hand and pulled her after him. He took the same route going back to his seat that he had taken from it -- straight up and over the table, scattering even more tea things and delicacies in his wake. Juliet let out a rather embarrassing squeak of protest, but he ignored her as he settled her into the seat directly to his right. She saw not-Gus (who had obviously found it beneath his dignity to introduce himself, and she was a little too freaked out to ask him to do so) watch her warily out of the corner of his eye, hoarding as many tea cups, pots, and saucers as he could.
"Welcome to the Delightfully Mad Tea Party," Hatter Shawn said with an engaging grin. "I do so hope you remembered to check your sanity at the door."
Juliet blinked at him. "What door?" she inquired. As far as she remembered, she had not encountered a single door since coming to this extremely strange (and dare she say it? mad) place.
Casting a quick glance around the clearing, Hatter Shawn blinked. "Hmm. It would appear there is no door, you are quite right. We shall have to remedy that situation immediately."
Not-Gus nodded in mute agreement, pouring tea through a broken teacup into another. The action seemed to take all of his concentration.
"Oh, how horridly rude of me!" Hatter Shawn suddenly declared, making Juliet jump. "I have yet to offer you tea! We cannot have a Delightfully Mad Tea Party--" (it was here that Juliet finally noted that the inflection on the first letters of those four words were much stronger, denoting capitals) "--without Tea itself, can we?" Snatching up a teacup, he peered inside it, then picked up a pot and poured some liquid into it. With a flourish, he presented it to her, smiling winsomely. "There you go, Lady Juliet."
When are we, the Middle Ages? Swallowing back that knee-jerk response, Juliet managed a thin smile as she took the cup. "Thank you, Sh-- Hatter," she murmured half-heartedly, just remembering to catch herself at the end. Setting the saucer down on the table, she lifted the cup by its handle with her pinkie sticking out, like she'd seen the elite do it in the movies. (Despite the fact that the move seemed absolutely ridiculous, at least now she felt like she fit in, even if only a little.) She peered inside the cup as she lifted it, then nearly dropped it she was so shocked. Hot liquid splashed everywhere as she quickly set it back down. "What is that?" she demanded.
"Tea!" not-Gus declared, throwing a teacup at her. This time she remembered to duck on her own. The cup flew over her head and shattered against the side of the windmill.
She looked back down in her cup. The liquid inside vaguely resembled green tea, though it bordered more on yellow than green. "It doesn't look like tea," she muttered.
Hatter Shawn lifted the same teapot and nonchalantly poured some of the stuff into his own cup. "You'd better drink it before it get cold," he said. "It's no good cold. Though, come to think of it, what it's made from is good cold. There's nothing like a chilled pineapple." He smacked his lips slightly as he set the teapot aside and picked up his cup. Juliet idly noticed then that his fingers were bandaged and bedecked with thimbles; the fingers that didn't have such odd decorations were stained a strange yellow shade at the tips, almost the same hue as the tea.
"Wait -- this is pineapple tea?" she demanded. That explained the odd color…
"Of course it is! What were you expecting? Peach? Imagine that, tea not being pineapple. You must be completely loony." Shaking his head, not-Shawn took a great gulp from his cup. "Go on, drink it! It's good."
Picking up her cup again, Juliet tried hard not to let her face contort into an expression of disgust as she lifted it to her lips. Now that she had it that close to her nose, she could detect the scent of pineapples. Whoever heard of pineapple tea? Juice, yes. Tea, no. Muscling past her gag reflex, which had triggered at that thought, she cautiously took a sip.
It wasn't as horrible as she was expecting, really. Though it did taste quite strange, especially since it was hot instead of cold, the fruitiness did something nice to the flavor. "Not bad," she admitted.
"Not bad?!" Suddenly Hatter Shawn's eyes glowed as yellow as the tea, and he glared at her from beneath the brim of his top hat. "Not bad, she says!"
"I've never had anything like it," Juliet said quickly, hoping to calm not-Shawn's sudden mood swing. (And this proved, as if further proof was needed, that the "not" was a good addition, for the Shawn she knew was not prone to such changes in temperament.)
Eyes fading back to green, he reclined in his seat, a thoughtful expression overtaking his face. "Poor girl," he said, true pity coloring his voice. He tsk'd slightly. "Where did you grow up? It must have been a truly horrible place, not having pineapple tea."
"I grew up in Miami," Juliet said, though she had a feeling Hatter-Shawn had not been serious in his inquiry. "I live in Santa Barbara now."
"Never heard of those places. Are they near here?"
"Have a sugar cube," not-Gus offered helpfully, chucking one at her. Juliet leaned back quickly and put her hand over the mouth of her cup, thinking her tea was plenty sweet enough the way it was. Hatter Shawn, however, calmly held out his own cup so the cube would fall with a neat little splash into his own drinking vessel. "Thank you," he said, without looking at his fellow tea-taker. The former shrugged and reached for a slightly squished scone.
Juliet, momentarily derailed from her train of thought by that strange display, shook her head. Such a strange, strange place. I wish I knew why I'm here… "No, I very seriously doubt either of them are anywhere near here," she murmured. Wherever here is.
For a moment Hatter Shawn stared at her, sadness in his eyes. "A pity," he said. "I would love to see the place where such a lovely creature as you spent her childhood."
"If you could bring yourself to leave your tea for that long," another familiar voice said dryly from the opposite end of the table.
Head snapping around so quickly she almost got whiplash, Juliet stared open-mouthed at Carlton Lassiter, who was observing her with a cool, disinterested blue gaze. He appeared to have come in while she'd been focused on Hatter Shawn. "Carlton!" she gasped.
"Who?" that man inquired, one eyebrow raising.
"She appears to have made up strange names for all of us," Hatter Shawn interjected. "It's really rather endearing, if you ask me. She called me Shawn, and him Gus." He motioned to not-Gus with a bandaged thumb.
"You are Shawn!" Juliet insisted. "And he is Carlton Lassiter! You know -- Lassie!"
"For your information, my dear Juliet, I am known as Cheshire. But if you insist on calling me by a nickname, I suppose Lassie will do. Though I see no reason in it, since it has nothing to do with my name." With the same blasé disinterest, Cheshire Lassie idly ran his finger around the rim of the empty cup sitting before him.
"Pineapple tea?" not-Gus offered, holding up a chipped teapot.
"Disgusting," Cheshire Lassie said, lying his flat palm over the mouth of his cup.
"How rude!" Not-Gus immediately hurled the teapot in his hand at Lassie, who leaned aside at just the right moment to keep it from hitting or splashing on him.
Hatter Shawn's eyes were inching toward yellow again. "If you don't like the tea," he growled, "then don't come to the Tea Party!"
Lassie sighed in a long-suffering way. "But I do so love your company," he said sarcastically. "Where else can I find a Hatter and a Hare so mad?"
Hare? Juliet stared at Gus, who didn't in the least resemble a hare. But at least she had something else to call him besides not-Gus now. Though Hare Gus did sound a bit strange… "Carlton, I have no clue how these two managed to drag you into their scheme, but could you please show me how to get out of this crazy place?"
Cheshire Lassie raised an eyebrow at her again. "I'm afraid you'll have to find your own way out," he replied. "Each person finds their own way in, so thus must find their own way out."
"How did you find your way here?" she asked.
He grinned. "That is for me to know, and you to find out." With a little wave of his fingers, he vanished in a puff of grey smoke.
"Good riddance," Hatter Shawn muttered. "That man drives me crazy." He paused and seemed to think about his words. "Not that I'm not already. But you know what I mean." Before Juliet could reply, he spun to Hare Gus. "No, rather, you know what I mean."
The latter nodded enthusiastically, stirring a sugar cube into his cup of pineapple tea. It was his fifth since Juliet had arrived, and she was pretty sure he hadn't taken even a sip of his tea yet. Come to think of it, it might be a good thing that he hadn't… Then, without warning, he suddenly picked up a cup and chucked it at Hatter Shawn.
Juliet instinctively ducked, though it wasn't even aimed at her.
Without looking up from his plate or even blinking, Hatter Shawn caught the cup and threw it back. Hare Gus snatched it out of the air and threw it back, and this continued on for a few minutes, though the two of them added other things in, too, like scones and even spoons.
After a while the two abandoned their game, allowing things to clatter to the table where they would. Juliet clapped her hands over her ears and winced at the sounds.
"So," Hatter Shawn said, calmly buttering a scone (pineapple flavored, no doubt) as if the past few minutes hadn't just happened, "why is it you are in such a hurry to leave, eh?" His eyes flicked up to hers knowingly. "Not having fun?"
She hesitated. She didn't want to lie, but she didn't want to hurt his feelings either. "I have a very important job where I come from," she settled on at last. "And I need to get back to it." That was the truth, at least. Just not all of it.
"What is it you do?" he asked interestedly, abandoning his uneaten scone.
"I'm a police officer," Juliet replied. She had to smother the urge to add you know that to the end. She was beginning to wonder if he really did…
"Ah, a keeper of the peace. Out with the bad and in with the good, so to speak." Hatter Shawn nodded sagely. "A very noble line of work indeed."
"What do you do?" Juliet asked in kind.
"I make hats, of course." He motioned to his own with a spoon. "I haven't made one in a while, though. I've been so busy waiting for you to come, I haven't dared leave the tea table long enough to work."
There it was again, the implication that she had been expected here, despite the fact that she had no idea how she'd gotten there, and had had no desire to do so in the first place. "You were waiting for me? Why?" Juliet demanded.
Hatter Shawn looked surprised. "Because you're Juliet, that's why," he said. "Everyone who comes here has something to learn. Obviously you did, too."
Juliet slumped in her seat a bit. "And have I learned what I'm supposed to?"
Those perceptive green eyes stared unblinkingly at her. "I don't know. Have you?" With his free hand he tossed the teacup next to him at Hare Gus, who caught it and poured some fresh tea into it before adding sugar cubes to it.
Juliet looked away. "You remind me of someone I know," she said. "He's a psychic."
Hatter Shawn grinned. "Sounds like a good person. I like to think I'm inclined toward the supernatural myself," he said, tapping his temple with his index finger, which was tipped with a shiny silver thimble. "How else do you suppose I knew you were coming, hmm?"
"You are Shawn!" she said, leaping to her feet.
He stared up at her, nonplussed. "I suggest you sit down again," he said conversationally. "Before--"
With an insulted shout, Hare Gus threw a scone at her. Juliet ducked to the side, feeling a few crumbs dribble onto her shoulder as it whipped past.
Sighing, Hatter Shawn shrugged. "Don't say I didn't warn you." Gently seizing her wrist, he tugged on her arm until she sat again. "Now then, call me whatever you like, but we're here for a Tea Party, and it seems to me this is less and less like a Party all the time." Reaching out, he picked up her cup and tossed it aside. "Cold and nasty," he said with a sniff. "You need fresh. Here, have a scone." He held out one toward her as he hunted the table for a clean, unbroken teacup, which Hare Gus happily provided by throwing it at Juliet's head. Dropping the scone into Juliet's reluctantly outstretched hand, he reversed course and caught it before it hit her in the face.
Juliet nibbled on the scone (sure enough, it was pineapple flavored) as Hatter Shawn poured her more tea. "Really, that's not necessary," she said. "I'm not thirsty. Or hungry, really…"
Plunking the cup down in front of her, he replied, "Just in case, then." He returned to his own cup and scone, a smile on his lips. "You know, it's a pity you've come all this way only to not enjoy the Tea Party we've thrown in your honor…"
Smothering the urge to put her hands over her face, Juliet leaned forward to capture his attention again. "I don't know why you think I'm something special. I just -- came here, not of my own free will. And I'd like to return home, I really would. I mean no offense to you, or Hare Gus--"
"Just Hare!" that gentleman requested tartly.
"--or Hare," Juliet corrected herself. "But I really, really must be getting back home."
Sighing, Hatter Shawn bowed his head so his hat concealed his face again. "So be it," he said softly. "Someone who finds no joy in Delightfully Mad Tea Parties doesn't really belong here, anyway." His tone was not accusatory, rather disappointed, bordering on full-blown depression.
Juliet felt a twinge of regret in her heart. Standing cautiously, just in case Hare Gus decided to throw another teacup at her, she leaned over to press a gentle kiss to Hatter Shawn's cheek. "It is not that I don't enjoy your company, or your Tea Party," she replied. "Though I would like to stay here and continue having fun, I have duties to attend to."
Hatter Shawn looked up at her with a flicker of hope in his eyes. "That means you're not all work and no play," he said satisfactorily, and smiled. "You've learned your lesson." Standing, he snagged her hand and bowed to kiss the back of it. Straightening, he smiled. "You may return to your duties, but know we shall always be here, if you desire some fun, and, as always, a Delightfully Mad Tea Party." Leaning forward, he responded in kind to her kiss, brushing his lips across her cheek with the slightest pressure. "Goodbye, Lady Juliet."
Behind Hatter Shawn, Hare Gus waved with an impish smile, for once not looking inclined to throw something at her. She returned the gesture, realizing she was smiling back.
And then the world about her faded into a grey mist, slowly darkening until she was falling up again…!
"Ahhh!" Juliet sat up with a startled shout, her hair tousled, pajamas and bedcovers tangled around her.
Next to her, the bed shifted as Shawn sat up, his eyes almost as wide as hers. "What's wrong?" he demanded.
Running her hand through her hair, Juliet stared at her husband, drinking in his normal features. No strangely colored eyes, no discolored, bandaged, thimble-covered fingers, no top hat… "Shawn!" she squealed, throwing herself at him. Wrapping her arms around his shoulders in a strangling hug, she buried her face against his neck.
"The last time I checked, that was my name," he said dryly, gently patting her back. "That must have been some dream."
"It was!" she blurted. "I fell down a hole, and you were there -- you were wearing a top hat, of all things! But you weren't you! And Gus was there, and Carlton was there, but they weren't themselves, either! And there was this tea party, and everything there was so crazy…" She drew back, looking at him again just to make sure he was normal, and she was back at home, in her own bed, again.
Shawn was looking at her with raised eyebrows. "Very strange dream," he agreed. Leaning forward, he pressed a kiss to her forehead and then scrambled out of bed. "I'll go get you something to drink."
"Tea," Juliet requested. Pineapple though it had been, the tea in her dream had made her thirsty for some normal-tasting tea.
"Sure," Shawn said, pausing at the door to look back at her. "Pineapple tea it is."
And, just for a second, Juliet was sure she saw his eyes sparkle an inhumanly fluorescent green…
Thanks for reading, and I really hope you enjoyed this story!