Alice: Bits of Hatter

A/N: This is a first attempt towards recording all the happenings in Syfy's 2009 miniseries Alice from the perspective of Hatter. It's also my first fanfic ever (eep) so be gentle dearies, but honesty is appreciated muchly, and reviews are better than pancakes. Enjoy, or hate, or glare at in a disgusted manner, whatever. Cheersio pets.

-ACP


Chapter 1:

I had been listening to music. The bidding and dirty work in the shop was being taken care of by my good friend Dormouse, who was getting ready just now to introduce some brand new Tea to my faithful customers. I was home-free and clear, having given myself a bit of time to turn from my busy work to a bit of pleasure listening. Was that too much to ask?

Apparently, as Ratty, one of my least favourtite informants, ran in the moment one of my favourite songs started. To top it off, he was babbling off his head about some escapee Oyster, which was bad enough as is if he'd brought it into my shop. But that wasn't even the best part. This Oyster's name, was Alice.

I sat up in my chair. "The Alice?" Ratty nodded fervidly and I thought for a moment. The Alice could be a very valuable player in the upcoming events. "She's looking for a person, Hatter. Hopin you can help." Ratty hinted. Interest piqued and I was decided. "Bring her in." He scurried off back into the Teashop and I turned away in my chair, hanging my headphones over the back and contemplating. Dodo would want to know about this. If The Alice was here, this could mean a breakthrough for the resistance. On the other hand, my no over-involvement policy forbade taking sides. If I sided with one, the resistance or the Hearts, fully, the other would quash me like a very squishy, very small bug. Long as I was neutral little Teashop Hatter, they left me to my lonesome. But on the other other hand, there was compensation to be had for supplying the resistance with such a delight as a legendary warrior. My mind was still turning when they walked up my garden pathway, but that was no reason to be rude. Whatever I decided, it could never hurt to have a buttered up Alice on my side. "Would you like a cup of tea?" I asked casually, not turning back to see them, still half-lost in thought.

After a short silence in which one of them shifted from foot to foot, a woman said, "No, thank you." I nodded to myself, trying to think how to go on. But the woman's voice interrupted my thoughts. "Who are you?" she asked, a slight waver in her otherwise almost convincingly fearless voice. It caught my attention, and I turned to face them. The woman was a bit on the shorter side, and fairly pretty, with blue-green eyes and very black hair. She also appeared to be sopping wet. It was a very nice look. "A friend." I answered, surprised. "I hope." I added as an afterthought, " I run the teashop." The woman was distracted by Ratty pulling a grungy red bandana off her Oyster brand. She was lucky it was on her arm. Easily concealable. "See?" he said eagerly, and the woman yanked her arm away. Jumpy.

I considered him for a moment and then decided to trust that he was telling the truth, for now. It was, after all, hard to fabricate the glow of an Oyster brand. But this woman seemed pretty average for an Oyster, if a little emboldened by her escape. "How did you break out of the Scarab?" I asked her, turning back to my desk. "What, the beetle thing?" she asked, slightly defensive. I made a noise of confirmation and she hesitated for a moment, waiting for me to turn all the way back around to face her before saying, "I used my hairpin and-''

"Fell." I finished for her. Yeah, she did look like she'd had a good dip in the Pool of Tears. She gestured to herself, saying, "As you can see, I'm drenched." I certainly could see that. Her dark hair was clumped and stringy around her pale face, which was a look that worked quite well for her, but it was her ensemble that attracted my eyes most. Her light blue dress fit her well enough on its own, but now seemed to be a second skin, coupled with a pair of clingy bloodred tights that hugged her legs, showing off their fantastic shape. All of it stuck to her in a very appealing fashion.

Ah, but she was speaking again. "This place…where- what is it?" she asked, almost impatient. As though the differences between our worlds aggravated her. Probably did. Poor lost thing. "Oh. Wonderland." I answered helpfully. Her eyebrow shot up, and she said, almost derisively, "That's a story in a kid's book." Her tone hit a sort of nerve. "Does this look like a kid's story to you?" I asked her, no change in my expression. She glanced around for a moment before replying. "No."

"It's changed a lot since then." I said, pushing off from my spot on the desk to walk across my lovely grass with a magnifying glass. The derisive tone was back, but slightly toned down. "What, so you're saying it was real?" I smiled quickly and explained. "You Oysters don't know how to find us, so- excuse me-'' Here I lifted her arm and examined her brand with the glass. "You tell yourselves that we don't exist, and quite frankly, we'd like to keep it that way." I looked at her pointedly. The last time Alice had come, the moment she'd gotten home she opened her large mouth to the first author she could find and had all her stories published widely. "Why am I an Oyster?" She glanced down at her bran and suddenly seemed to get it. "What, this?" she asked, almost panicked. "Yeah, that's not going to come off." I told her. She sighed. "Sorry." I said, grinning at her for a moment as she tried to rub it off.

When I had her attention again, I went on. "Only people from your world turn green when burnt by the light." She looked mildly horrified, but I pressed on, walking back to my desk to put the glass down. "And they call you Oysters because of the shiny little pearls that you all carry inside." I finished, moving back jauntily. She straightened again, and when she spoke she seemed to be trying her best not to sound frightened. "What do you mean, pearls?"

I'd almost forgotten Ratty was there when he interceded. "She's Alice! Tell him who you are." I closed the distance between us and circled her, saying as I went. "Wow. Really?" Ratty and I shared a grin for a moment and I clapped my hand around his shoulder, addressing the woman. "Ratty here thinks you're Alice." Ratty nodded. "Of Legend." I made it clear with my tone that now that I'd met her, I highly doubted his credibility. Said Alice looked confused. "Who?" I gave Ratty a suffering glance. "The last, uhm, the last time a girl called Alice came here from your world, she brought down the whole house of cars, oh yeah." I moved back around her so we were looking one another square in the face. "Made quite an impression." I turned back to Ratty. "Although that was 150 years ago, she can't be the same one. Oysters don't even live that long." He didn't even flinch. "I still want a good price." Of course you do. But Alice had other ideas. "Wait a minute, I am not for sale." she said indignantly, but I wasn't really listening, and silenced her by holding up a finger.

Ratty and I kept close eye contact, while I decided whether to pay him or not. Finally, I turned back to my desk, giving Alice a look before striding over to my Tea cabinet. Ratty tried to follow, but I headed him off with a, "Not on the grass." I sighed as I examined my stores. I was running somewhat low on the rarer emotions, but Ratty wasn't choosey. I picked one, looked back at a very excited Ratty, and then exchanged the bottle for a different one. "Here we are!" I announced, showing off the bottle. "Pink Nectar, filled with the thrill of human excitement. 50 Oysters were drained of every last drop of hullaballoo, so that you, Ratty, can taste what it feels like to win, just once." I approached, holding the bottle out teasingly. He reached for it, and I pulled back. "Warning. Don't take it on an empty stomach and only one tiny little drop at a time or the experience might burst your shriveled up little heart. Got it?"

"Got it."

"Good. Go." Ratty rushed off, and I was relieved to be rid of him.

I smelled my hand suspiciously, finding a rather pungent Ratty scent on them. "He really smells." I informed Alice in a pained voice. She ignored it and addressed a query of her own. "Oysters were drained? What do you mean drained?" Her expression was guarded, but stern, as though I were a naughty child doing something terribly unallowed. I looked at her for a moment, almost sympathetic. These were her fellow Oysters I was talking about, after all. But after a few seconds I had to look away. Her disgust unsettled me. So I changed the subject. "Ratty tells me you're looking for someone." I headed back to my desk. I desperately needed a drink. She jumped on the opportunity, saying eagerly, "His name is Jack Chase. He was taken by a man with a white rabbit on his lapel." She followed me as I sat with my drink, even braving my grass. She didn't smell, so I allowed it.

I couldn't say this news surprised me. I even almost expected it. But I still had to think carefully for my next words. "I see." I took a drink and then set the glass down on its saucer with a small clank. Taking a deep breath, and being careful not to look at her, I started. "The White Rabbit is an organization controlled by the suits. They travel back and forth, through the Looking Glass, and…vanish people from your world to ours." I lifted my cup for another drink, but she spoke. It was a quiet, "Why?" Lost in my thoughts, I blurted out, "To use. In the Casino." and took a sip. There was silence for a moment and then in a very potentially dangerous voice she said, "Use?" I almost choked on my tea. Of course, her dear Jack was in there. Whoops. In an attempt to salvage the situation, I said, putting my cup down and rising, "Did I say use? I- slip of the tongue. They're fine." She didn't believe me. It was written all over her face. "Ya know, they keep em…alive, and…moderately happy." Her face was impassive. "How do I get into this Casino?"

"That's the thing!" I said, smiling. "You don't. Way too dangerous. But." I moved towards her again, watching her facial expressions carefully. She had to be fed the right story the first time for this to work. "I do know some people, who know some…well… other people, if you know what I mean." It was clear on her face she didn't. I was very close to her now, close enough to see she really was quite fetching, even tied up in knots about her Nancy Boy Jack. I leaned in, saying playfully, "It's one of the privileges of running a Tea shop." She leaned away from me, and when I popped my "p", she jumped. Forget jumpy. She's a bloody spring loaded gun. I tried a grin on her, but she remained resolutely impassive.

"Lighten up." I muttered, moving away. She didn't seem to like that comment, but I'd just had a brilliant idea and couldn't be bothered with her sensitivity now. I ran back over to the clear glass wardrobe in my office, motioning for her to wait there. I opened the doors and rifled through the coats for a moment before picking my favourite; a lovely dark purple velvet jacket that I'd had for a long time. Long story. "You should wear this." I made my way back over to her, saying as I went, "It'll cover the glow, stop you from catching a cold." She looked at the jacket like it was some elaborate velvet trap.

After a moment's pause, she offered in a very rusty voice, "I have a little money. But I understand you don't use that here." Money? Oyster currency? I knew this one. "Pieces of paper!" I exclaimed excitedly, and she looked at me like the poisonous jacket and I were in cahoots. "Pointless." I mumbled, moving back behind her.

"Then why would you help me?"

I looked her over carefully from behind, where she couldn't see the appreciative look on my face and likely clock me for it. She did seem the type. And anyways, the girl was fit. Definitely in top form. I leaned in to say into her ear, "Do I need a reason to help a pretty girl in a very wet dress?" The view from behind was almost as lovely as the view in front, and if her precious Jack hadn't been the one she was trying to rescue, I might've reached the small distance and chanced getting clocked just to see if her skin was as soft as it looked. As it was, I made a valiant effort to keep my hands to myself.

Which was unnecessary as she whirled around and backed away from me, skewering me with a glare that only a woman could manage. "Oh. I see." And I did. It was like a slap to the face. All this buttering and nothin. Was she completely unbutterable? "You don't trust me." She made no move to correct me, and I crossed the last border into truly offended. "Fine." I snapped, throwing the pretty jacket onto the couch. "I am genuinely hurt. Do you know why they call me Hatter?" I asked, and her eyes flew to my head. "Because you wear a hat?" Touché. "No." I quipped, too defensive to be convincing. "Because I'm always there when they pass the hat, so to speak. Philanthropy. Generosity. I mean, you can call it what you will, but it's who I am and right now, looking at you there, there's nothing I want more than to help you find…" I trailed off, trying desperately to remember her whelp's name but failing. "Jack." she finished helpfully. "Jack! And return you both to your charming world of children's stories." I waited with bated breath.

She had to be clever. She couldn't just be gullible like everyone else. "I don't believe you." she stated frankly, but a hint of a smile played around her lips. Interesting. "I know what you're thinking. If I'm the frying pan, then that out there," I gestured to the windows, "is the fire. I'll be square with ya. I know people who like to help your kind. And if, every once in awhile, I scratch their back…"

She paused for a moment, but said, in a slightly understanding voice, "They'll scratch yours." Finally a concept she grasped. "Precisely." I said happily, smiling widely at her. "Lots of scratchin." It was her turn to examine me closely. And then, suddenly, she reached for the jacket. Funny. It would seem truth actually worked with this Oyster. While she slid the coat on, I headed over to the back of the office, where my back door stood. I yanked it open to the city outside, saying, "Do try to keep up."