Notes: Thanks for the suggestion for this chapter, and a later one – won't say how much later – to Icy Metal and Frost Blue Roses (formerly "Metal Frost"). If you haven't heard of this very funny author, want a few laughs, or simply have nothing better to do on a very boring day, I would STRONGLY recommend their story Alice vs. the Mad Hatter.
Now, with that said...
Chapter 5: Alice, Alice...
The Mad Hatter's eyes shone with panic.
Alice – and it was ABSOLUTELY THE Alice – was coming to visit...and he was the size of a rat.
Instantly, he ran up to Mally, and grabbed her by the shoulders.
Mallymkun blinked, stunned silent for a moment.
"...You're asking me for help?"
"Please! I can't let anybody else see me like this...and especially not...not HER!"
Mally sighed, relenting, and rolled her eyes.
"The blue teapot beside Thackery's seat. I think it's empty."
Tarrant nodded, and, quick as a flash, scrambled into the teapot...
The dormouse heard a faint PLOP, and smirked.
"Of course, I could be wrong..."
The white rodent looked up with a slight glare at the blonde young woman who was approaching.
"Hello there, Alice," she greeted, unenthusiastically.
"Hello, Mally," Alice replied with a smile; she was used the dormouse's temperament by now. "Where are the Hare and the Hatter?"
"The Hare left a short time before you got here."
Mally frowned; she didn't mind the Champion referring to her...the, the, THE Hatter as "Hatter" (everyone did), but when the girl...the girl who left him TWICE...called Tarrant "Tarrant," she felt like she'd bitten into a rotten grape.
Mally tried to think up a good lie.
Not much success greeted her.
"Is something wrong?" Alice asked, coming closer, concerned.
"No! He...he left with the Hare."
"Oh," said Alice, simply. Her face was blank; something told the dormouse she didn't buy it.
There was a pause.
"Mind if I sit down?"
Mally shrugged. Alice smiled, and sat down...
Right where Thackery usually sat.
Mally stared, her cup halfway up to her lips.
"Do you think the March Hare will mind if I borrow his seat?"
Mally blinked, and smirked slightly.
"As long as you're out of it before he gets back? No. The HARE won't mind...not him..."
She grinned as a short, soft curse echoed from inside the blue teapot.
"Did you hear something?" Alice asked, looking around.
"No," Mally said, shaking her head and taking a sip of her tea.
Alice eyed her curiously, and shrugged, taking a piece of bread and butter.
"So...where did the Hatter and Hare go?"
"No idea," said Mally, half-honestly; she didn't know where Thackery had gone to get the toy bed.
She gulped, hard, as Alice reached for a very certain teapot...
"I...I think that teapot's empty," she piped up.
Alice looked at her.
"Are you sure?"
Alice reached for a different one.
The dormouse sighed softly with relief.
The relief didn't last long, as – for the THIRD BLASTED TIME – the Cheshire Cat popped up, wrapped around Alice's shoulders. The girl smiled, not wholly surprised.
"Hello, Chess," she said.
"What does that mean?"
"It means 'good day,'" the cat explained.
"It isn't a good day with YOU around," snarled Mally. "How many times today do I need to tell you to leave?!"
"As many as it takes; clearly, this last time wasn't enough. Quite honestly, though, I didn't just come back to irritate you..."
The cat then turned back to Alice, moving smoothly off her shoulders and smiling at her as he floated before her.
"I came because I noticed Alice on her way over here. Notice anything...different about me, Alice, dear?"
"I do. And I'm not going to save you if Tarrant tries to get you for stealing his hat...again."
"Ah, but this time I didn't steal it."
"No, you blackmailed him for it," snapped Mally.
The cat shrugged.
"Blackmailed, borrowed, got in on loan...take your pick."
The dormouse just glared at him.
"You know, I'm not going to save you, either," she growled. "I might even help him."
"Mally! You wound me..."
The cat smirked, saying nothing.
Mally turned quickly to Alice, then sighed to herself, turning her gaze down as she took a drink of her tea.
Why can't I keep my mouth shut...?
"You mean...you don't know?" the cat purred, eyes wide, grin even wider.
"No...know what? What's going on?"
The cat's whiskers twitched excitedly.
His voice, however, remained calm.
"Nothing, really...I'll tell you later, Alice, love."
The cat then drifted downward...
And picked up the blue teapot.
"In the meantime...shall I pour you a fresh cup of tea?"
Mally glared daggers at him.
Oh, please, no, Chess...not now...
Alice eyed him curiously.
"Mally said that one was empty."
"Really?" Chess said, eyes even wider now. He placed an ear against the pot and shook it slightly.
"Hmm...I hear tea sloshing around. Doesn't seem empty to me."
Here he turned towards Mally, smiling oh-so-innocently.
"You REALLY should keep up with your inventory, dormousey."
Mally's face was bright red, her eyes narrowed, her whiskers twitching.
"I'm going to break every bone in your body, Chessur. Every. Single. Bone," she warned.
The cat paused, as if considering this.
"Hmm...honestly, with the exception of 'in my sleep, settling what I didn't know was a poisonous fish,' I can't think of a more interesting way to die."
He turned back to Alice.
Alice, by this point, didn't seem to know which way was up.
"Ah...I already have a full cup," she said, quietly.
The cat's grin dipped, slightly, then expanded again.
"Well, in that case, I'll just get myself a cup!"
Before Mally could stop him, he had grabbed an empty cup and, settling into a chair, began to pour...
A loud splash interrupted him.
The cat reached into his half-filled cup and plucked a very small, tea-soaked figure out, before placing gently on the table before Alice, and continued pouring, as if nothing had happened.
Alice gaped at the Mad Hatter, the size of a mouse and gasping for breath, dressed in a green suit and sopping wet with tea.
He looked up at Mally with blood-red eyes.
"Empty, eh?" he snarled.
The dormouse gulped, and shrank back slightly; even she couldn't look him in the eye when he was THAT angry...
The Hatter looked up, speechless, at Alice, who just stared back. Both looked stunned.
There was a long, and rather awkward, silence...
Which was interrupted by a sharp yowl from the Cheshire Cat as Mally leapt at him and stabbed his paw with her pin-sword.
"What was THAT for?" he growled, licking his paw, eyes narrowed angrily.
"Oh, you know BLOODY WELL what THAT was for!" she sqeaked, enraged, slicing the air with her blade. "Now, GO AWAY! And, for the love of TREACLE, do NOT come back!LEAVE! SCAT! SHOO!"
Chessur hissed, indignant, and vanished...hopefully not to return for the rest of the day.
The dormouse stood for a moment, seething, and sheathed her weapon.
She turned back, smiling apologetically at the Hatter.
"I'm not very good at my job, am I?"
"So far, no."
"Wh-what happened to you?" Alice asked, leaning forward; her eyes were glazed, her mouth wide open. A cruel person might have said she looked dumb. We shall simply say she looked "dumbfounded."
"Ask her," hissed the Hatter, whipping his arm in Mally's direction, as he stood up and tried to shake himself off.
Alice turned toward the dormouse, who sighed (again).
"I had too much sugar this morning; I wanted to play a trick on the Hare. So, I found some pishsalver, and put in one of the teacups...and...well...Hatter took the wrong cup..."
"I...I see," Alice said, a smile twitching at the corner of her lips; clearly, she was trying not to laugh. She turned back to the Mad Hatter.
"So...what now?" she said, coughing to suppress a giggle.
"Firstly, I'm gonna fix mehself a new suit..."
Mally smirked to herself.
"Then, I'm gonna figure out th' best way te murder a dormoose..."
"You may certainly try," Mally said, coolly.
At that moment, a loud whistle echoed over the clearing.
"Och!" called Thackery, bounding over to the table. "Hatter! I got yer bed!"
Alice could no longer contain it; she laughed so hard, she fell out of her seat.