A/N: I know that there are a lot of Hatter POV stories out there. But I've recently watched the show and was rather taken with Hatter so I wanted to give it a go. This is also my attempt to fight the wicked case of writer's block I've been having. Like some of the others, I will be adding a few scenes, a bit of back story, and a few helpful explanations for things that were a bit unclear in the show. I will not be using any of the stuff I read from other people, all of it is my own interpretation of Hatter's voice and his thoughts. If it looks like I've taken something from someone else, odds are I didn't read their story. I've only read two Hatter POVs so far, and I'm steering clear of their original ideas. (Although, as would happen, some of his thought patterns are similar in every story.) Still, I wanted to do this character justice and hopefully, bring a differnt angle/new information to this. Most of the dialogue is taken from the show, except for the bits I added, as word for word as I could manage. Hope you enjoy, this is really fun to write and reviews are appreciated but not necessary.
Disclaimer: I guess I need to mention I don't own the dialogue, since I did sort of steal it all from the show, but there is no profit here, just fun. I love SyFy for making this, if only for Hatter's sake. I can give or take Alice to be honest. I would have jumped him long before their kiss at the end. She was crazy not to. ^_^
That's enough out of me, on with the story.
The Unidentified Tea
Would You Like a Cup of Tea?
"She's who now?" Hatter sat behind his desk, fingertips pressed together. He had, of course, heard Ratty the first time, but it was the sort of name that one doubled checked.
"Alice. Said so herself. Looking for some guy, I don't know. Thought of you." Ratty grinned, all black teeth showing and Hatter thought he could see the odor rise in a putrid green cloud from whatever rot the man had been feasting. Well, Ratty was convinced that much was apparent. Didn't occur to the simple man that it could be any other Alice but The Alice.
Hatter set his hands on the arms of his chair. "Very well. Bring her in."
Nodding and bobbing, Ratty trotted off. Now, Hatter found himself preparing for the exchange. The Alice or an Alice, he knew Ratty wouldn't mistake gender and that called for a specific type of performance. Oysters, as far as he knew of them, liked the theatrics and he was all too willing to please. No one could say that Hatter lacked showmanship. In fact, he believed that to be the soul of business. Yes, you had to have a grasp of economics and trade, prices and even a little politics, but you really got things done when you made the sale.
Appealing to the fact that this poor oyster was a woman, he went for aloof with a splash of charm. He jumped into a white chair, differentiated from the others by the fact that it swiveled, and let himself spin a few times before coming to a halt. "God, I love that." He smiled and then he thought he heard the door and quickly set his back to the doorway. A quick adjust of his hat and then he crossed one leg over the other. Now he was ready. He heard Ratty enter, or smelled more like, and waited just the right amount of…
"Would you like a cup of tea?" He grinned. Ah, perfect. He sensed them stop and knew he'd raised the right amount of curiosity, the mystery would pull her in. It worked all the time, or most. Wonderlanders were harder to charm. Their emotions never quite in the right spot for his particular style of performance. So he reveled in the few times he had a truly appreciative audience.
"No, thank you. Who are you?" Ah, alert this one. Sometimes he'd get the scraps the Suits've already mussed up with their chemicals and what have you. This oyster sounded fully aware. Even better.
He spun the chair. "A friend. I hope." The oyster looked wary, clearly not impressed or in the mood for buttering. But, butter he would if he had any hope of a smooth transaction. So far, his actual plans were still in the air. They depended on the little interview he was about to conduct. He'd assess and make his move from there. As it was, he was quick to note that she was very, very dripping wet. Raven hair all clumped and stringy, but not at all unpleasantly. That blue dress, darker in the areas it was still truly soaked, was not unflattering. "I run the Tea Shoppe." He added as Ratty began to untie an awful bandana from the oyster's arm. Not exactly subtle, but was enough to get her to Hatter without flashing the whole of Wonderland the fact that she was an oyster. He stood now and walked toward his desk. "How did you break out of the Scarab?" He turned and sat on the edge of the desk top.
"What the beetle thing?" Obviously she wouldn't know its proper name. "I used my hairpin and I…"
"Fell." He finished. That much he deduced from her still soaking dress.
"As you can see, I'm drenched."
Oh, I can see that perfectly. Lovely and drenched. His eyes traveled down and then up without remorse.
"Look, this place," apparently, she wanted to continue talking, "Where-what is it?"
He removed his eyes from the delightfully clingy fabric at her hips. The devilish smirk falling flat as he moved on from the oyster's state of elevated water content. "Oh. Wonderland."
Her eyes told him she thought he might be joking. Oh, but that was a big mistake. "But that's a story in a kid's book."
Sweetheart, if you go 'round thinking of this as a child's play fun, you ain't gonna be in the game for very long. It was more than necessary for her to get rid of that notion real quick. "Does this look like a kid's story to you?" His voice was serious, bit ominous. Sure, it was the more flashy approach, but the show was all necessary for this business to work. He watched her question herself. She glanced at the walls and surely was remembering the state of things outside, the Scarab, and whoever had got her into it in the first place. There were no fairy tales here, or happy endings or any of that nonsense. Just plain old nonsense, the kind that gave you nightmares or got you killed or drove you mad. Unless you knew how to process or were, in fact, already mad. And as for him, well, everyone was just a bit mad in Wonderland.
"No." She said and he could see that she understood. Good for her.
"It's changed a lot since then." He strolled in her direction, swiping a magnifying glass from the desk.
"So you're saying that it was real?"
"You oysters don't know how to find us so—" he reached for her arm, "—excuse me," and examined the burn with the glass. Genuine. Oo, and soft. "You tell yourself that we don't exist and quite frankly, we'd like to keep it that way."
She jerked her arm away, "Why am I an oyster? This?" She motioned to the burn. The oyster seemed antsy. Obviously, she'd been through a lot and he wasn't helping her situation. Probably had loads of questions she'd like to ask, but really, she'd just learn as she went. Much easier that way.
"That's not gonna come off." He grinned and she huffed. "Sorry." He offered, but he wasn't. Hatter knew he could be a cheeky little bastard when he wanted. In his defense, she did look particularly put off and there truly was nothing he could do to erase the burn. It was, he considered, amusing. Then she looked up and he stopped smiling. Such pretty blue eyes giving off such a serious glare. This one, although clever and pretty, was fairly wound up. "Only people from your world turn green when burned by the light. It's the Suits way of branding their catch and they call you oysters," he returned the magnifying glass, talking over his shoulder. "because of the shiny little pearls that you all carry inside."
"What do you mean pearls?" Her voice dropped, like she feared he might mine for one right there. Cut her open and start digging for treasure. But that wasn't his job, the mining.
"She's Alice." Ratty put in, anxious to get his pay. "Tell him who you are."
"Wow." Hatter acknowledged, but he knew now that this was not The Alice. How could she be? She'd be ancient by now. He kept his face even, best not to crack a smile and make the rat any more anxious. "Really?" Hatter began to circle her, looking up and down like he was validating Ratty's claim. "Oooo." He laughed, unable to maintain a straight face. He stopped next to Ratty, still grinning. Ratty was not laughing. He lost the grin and set an arm around his informant. "Ratty here, thinks you're Alice…of legend."
Clearly confused, she waited for more and when nothing came asked, "Who?" Most definitely not Alice of legend. Poor Ratty, he'd been so excited.
Hatter slid his arm off Ratty, "The last time, um…" Good lord, that jacket was caked in grease. Was it even black by nature or did the grime just build up and paint it that horrid color? Hatter grimaced at his tainted fingers before getting back on track. "The last time a girl called Alice came here from your world she brought down the whole house of cards, oh yeah." He had circled behind her again, now face to face. He let the words fall slowly, weighty, and stared into her eyes. "Made quite an impression." Alice didn't look convinced, but met his stare with a confused tilt to her eyebrows. "Although, it was a hundred and fifty years ago." He pulled his eyes from her face and spoke to Ratty who still had no idea that this oyster was just an oyster. "It can't be the same girl. Oysters don't even live that long."
"I still want a good price." Ratty said. But he wouldn't be getting a thing if Hatter didn't think he could turn a profit on this deal. Lucky for Ratty, his little appraisal of the oyster had led to the discovery of a ring. Pretty expensive looking piece of merch, looked old and had couple good sized rocks on it. Hatter knew he'd be taking her to Dodo, auction that ring for her safety and then leave her in the resistance's hands and out of his hair. All he had to do was get her there and give Ratty one of his numerous Teas. Not a bad day's work, if he did say so himself.
"Wait a minute, I am not for sale." The oyster argued, clearly offended. Hatter held up a finger. He'd deal with her once Ratty was gone. The man did tend to darken the presentation and Hatter didn't need another voice to confuse the oyster even more.
Hatter regarded the man, thinking of the payment. It needed to be worth the time to move Alice and the price of the ring, enough to make the deal worth it for Hatter. He sent a grin toward Alice when he turned to retrieve a Tea from his private stores. Tea is what Ratty wanted. And Tea Hatter had in ready supply. "Not on the grass." He warned when he sensed Ratty follow. All of the city was decaying around him, he'd not have Ratty's smelly boots mussing up his beautiful grass. One of the few pieces of green left in the city walls.
Hatter reached his cupboard. "Right." He sighed, still trying to pick the right one to give. With indecisive fingers he selected the blue bottle of Peace. Then he turned to Ratty and shook his head. No. A man like Ratty didn't need Peace. Hatter picked up the pink bottle. Yes, that one would do. One of the easiest to make, and thereby cheapest, and something a rat would certainly need. Must be his unbirthday, Hatter thought as he swirled the bottle, since nearly every day was. He'd be robbing Ratty blind with this deal. Like switching a rock for a fresh loaf of bread and jam. Thankfully, Ratty couldn't tell the difference between a rock and tree, so the unfairness was safe.
"Here we are." Hatter held the bottle in front of him, showing it off. "Mmm." Ratty had the eagerness of someone who had no true idea what they were getting, but knew they wanted it. Alice looked downright mystified. "Pink nectar." He began, strolling closer, bottle raised. "Filled with the thrill of human excitement." Ratty was beside himself, poor thing didn't know what to do. Sell. Sell. Sell. "Fifty oysters were drained of every last drop of hullaballoo so that you, Ratty, can," he blinked and savored the words, bottle aloft and followed by Ratty's greedy eyes, "taste what it feels like to win. Just. Once." Ratty grabbed for the bottle. Sometimes, Hatter, you do your job too well.
Hatter lifted the bottle away, now giving the disclaimer to keep his conscious clear and obey laws and blah blah. "Warning. Don't take it on an empty stomach and only one tiny little drop at a time otherwise the experience might burst your shriveled up little heart. Got it?"
Ratty skittered away happily, his prize clutched to his chest.
Hatter brought up his hand where it had brushed Ratty's in the exchange and sniffed. The scent lingered, oh beautiful. "He really smells." He commented.
"Oysters were drained?" Eek. So she caught that. Not his best choice of words when in front of an oyster, but he'd been swept up in his delivery. Well, this could get nasty. Best to tread careful. "What do you mean drained?" The oyster, justifiably, seemed disturbed by this.
"Ratty tells me you're looking for someone." He diverted smoothly as he headed back toward his desk.
"His name is Jack Chase." Alice replied, going along with the obvious change of topic. Hatter grabbed the cup of tea he had made before Ratty had come in and spoiled his quiet evening. "He was taken by a man with a white rabbit on his lapel."
The cup halted in mid-air. "I see." Hatter raised it to his lips again, "Mm." He took a small sip. Poor little oyster. If she knew what it meant that the White Rabbit had got him. He'd be in the Casino for sure, probably already hooked up and draining as they sat their chatting. Not that Hatter'd be telling her that right then. Besides, there was a fair chance he'd not been hooked up yet. That he was simply drugged out of his brain and waiting all snug like in a holding cell somewhere. Not unhappy, but not exactly with his consent.
"The White Rabbit," he explained, rather somberly, "is an organization controlled by the suits. They travel back and forth through the Looking Glass and…vanish people from your world to ours."
"Why?" She asked.
He once again halted before he took a sip from his tea cup. "To use. In the Casino." He got another heavenly sip. Somehow, he knew that cup of tea would be cold before he could finish. Shame. Waste, that was.
Uh, bad choice of phrase. Not his most shining moment, but that tea had been so good he'd forgotten himself trying to savor the taste of it. The freshness. The heat. He set the little saucer down. Undoubtedly, it'd be ice before he got another. "Did I say used?" Diffuse and deny. "I don't…slip of the tongue. They're fine." He was standing now, trying to assure her. "And they're kept…moderately happy." No lies, they were kept happy. And excited. And impassioned. And calmed. And all those other delicious emotions the public so craved to experience. Alice, however, did not need to know that.
"How do I get to this Casino?"
"That's the thing," his smile went deadpan, "you don't. Way too dangerous. But," and now the wheels turned, "I know some people who know some, well, other people, if you know what I mean." He stalked closer, driving the words. She still looked wary. He broke her personal space and she leaned her head back as he leaned in. "One of the advantages of owning a Tea Shoppe." He popped the 'p' and fetched an amused smile. The oyster didn't seem to find this funny, but stared rather impatiently and he frowned. "Lighten up." When he thought her tightly wound, he hadn't realized she'd be turning coal to diamonds. Honestly, so her world has been ripped out from under her, not like she's the only oyster with problems. Actually, she was probably the luckiest oyster currently inhabiting Wonderland. So, that was something. Not that she'd have any idea about her real situation to make that realization, but still.
He backed away from her seriously unamused look and held up a finger, brightening when he'd had the brilliant idea of how to hide her brand. "Ta-da!" He opened the glass doors to his coat rack. "You should wear this." He selected a dark coat, one of the few he had that was meant for women. You never know when a woman might end up in your office and need a change of clothes. He returned to her, pinching the shoulders of the jacket in his fingers. "It'll cover the glow and stop you from catching a cold." He held it in front of her, but she didn't seem at all grateful though she had to be freezing.
"I have a little money." She began, the look of a woman who felt she understood her situation and resigned to it. It was a bit defeatist and a lot of a downer. "But I understand you don't use that here."
Ah, she meant the thing Ratty showed him. Flat, green, big ugly mug right in the middle. "Pieces of paper?" He smiled. "Pointless."
Hatter walked behind her, ready to help her with the coat. "Then why would you help me?"
So, an oyster who knew what questions to ask. Had he answered honestly he felt she'd not react favorably. So, he glanced at her darkly, knowing that there was one truth that she probably wouldn't doubt. "Do I need a reason to help a pretty girl in a very wet dress?" And no he did not and yes she was.
Alice spun around quickly, eyeing him.
Now came the part where he acted affronted. It was best to play it up like she was hurting his feelings with that look, puts the guilt on her and makes her doubt her reasonable suspicions. Not that he was out to hurt her. Far from it. Help was what he wanted to do and if he got something out of it, where was the harm?
"Oh. I see. You don't trust me." He played offended, like her distrust put him off. "Fine." He threw the coat over the arm of the sofa. "I am genuinely hurt. Do you know why they call me 'Hatter'?"
Alice paused and then offered an answer. "Because you wear a hat?"
Point taken. He did always wear a hat. "No." He declared. "Because I'm always there when they pass the hat, so to speak." He stalked around her, making her spin. "Philanthropy. Generosity." He stopped behind his swivel chair. "I mean you call it what you will it's who I am. And right now, looking at you there, there's nothing I want more than to help you find…" Shit. Name…Jeff…John…he waited for her to fill him in.
"Jack." She supplied.
"Jack." He repeated. "And return you both to your charming world of children's stories."
The oyster leveled him with her eyes, showing she not only didn't believe him, but found his attempt to sway her humorous. The gall. "I don't believe you." She spoke, but he had already determined that from those frosty eyes and tiny almost smirk.
"I know what you're thinking." He continued. "If I'm the frying pan then that out there…is the fire." He watched her little smirk waver. "I'll be square with you, I know people who like to help your kind. And if every once in awhile I scratch their back…" Now she was listening.
"They'll scratch yours." She finished, understanding.
"Precisely. Lot of scratchin'." He grinned and she set her mouth into a thin line, lifted her chin, and then grabbed the coat. A smug smile played on his lips as he listened to her snatch up the coat. And that's how it's done. All that business with payment and the fact that she'd have to give up that ring to get what she wanted, that'd come later. No need to complicate things when they were finally rolling. Best bring that up when they'd gotten to know each other a bit better. When he could determine her reaction better.
He strolled over to the back door and swung it open. "Do try to keep up."
A/N: And that is the first chapter. I know that this is long for just one scene, but I've a bad habit of long winded writing. I went with the idea, that though he found her pretty and everything, she was just another oyster to him at first. He was just doing business. He doesn't fall for her until later. Hope it was enjoyable. ^_^ Thank you for reading.