fandom: SyFy's Alice
summary: written for the new_wonderland quarterly challenge; What if Hatter recognized the ring Alice wore—and what if visiting Dodo at the Great Library wasn’t his plan at all? When you play both sides of the court, you have an in with either. It just depends on which side you choose to take.
disclaimer: the characters in this story are the property of SyFy and Nick Willing and are only used for fan related purposes.
He stopped right on the ledge, pausing at the top of the ladder that would lead to what was considered the ground of Wonderland (but wasn’t). The door to his back office had barely been shut when Hatter turned around and reached for the handle again. He told the girl—that Alice—to stay put; he noticed the fearful way she looked over and was satisfied that she wouldn’t go on ahead. She didn’t flinch, he was surprised, and she didn’t say a word. But she followed his lead and simply paused.
He offered some lame excuse that he’d forgotten something in the room and, too wary to believe him but desperate enough for his help not to question him, Alice nodded so he left her alone. Slipping back into the sanctuary of his Tea House, Hatter dropped his smarmy grin, his confident and well-meaning air as easily as he assumed it when Ratty dragged her in. Suddenly he was careful again, determined, composed. He dropped the act because, with the appearance of an admittedly pretty girl in a very wet dress, everything had changed.
Well, not everything.
Knowing he had precious little time before her fear gave way to a stubbornness he all too easily detected, Hatter headed straight to the white table kept to the side of his glass desk. There was a drawer, one drawer in the center, and he yanked it out. Papers, old hat bands, profit reports, IOU’s for a particularly fine vintage of Desire… it was cluttered, it was cramped but Hatter kept looking. He rifled through the messy contents, grinning sneakily when his hands closed on the cool, sleek cylindrical object he’d been searching for.
It looked like a pen but it beeped when he turned it on; you wouldn’t find any ink inside but a mixture of magic and wires and all sorts of something called science that Hatter couldn’t be bothered to understand. But you didn’t need to understand the communicator to use it—you just needed to be one of the queen’s associates in order to have one in the first place.
And Hatter, for the amount the Queen of Hearts paid him to keep an eye on the Resistance, was certain to means to communicate with the ruler of Wonderland. How else could he make his reports… or tell her when an oyster freshly escaped from Scarab came stumbling into his tea shop?
“I have a message for her majesty,” he said curtly, barely waiting for the usual responses from some nameless Suit on the other end when his call was answered. “For my usual cut,” he continued, his greedy eyes already lit up with prospect of the Queen of Hearts’ idea of gratitude, “I’ll return the Stone of Wonderland to her.”
There was some squawking and denial and cries that it couldn’t be so, Agent White had brought the ring back himself, but Hatter didn’t have time for explanations. Every second he spent with the handheld was a second he wasn’t keeping a close eye on the Stone of Wonderland and the unlucky oyster that wore it so brazenly on her finger. A touch impatiently, Hatter cut him off with a quick, “That fool doesn’t have it, some oyster does. Yes, it’s safe.” He listened again before adding, “I’ll bring the girl now. For a fair price,” he added again, just so that point wouldn’t get lost in translation.
The threats were all the same, the threat of what the queen would do if Hatter was lying—Off with his head! hung ominously in the air—but the rogue Hatter batted them aside with a flippant wave of his hand. “Tell her majesty I will personally see to it that the Stone is powering the Looking Glass before anyone notices it’s even been turned off.”
He made a point not to tell the Suit on the other end how he knew that the Looking Glass was shut down. He had his spies, and what good would they be if the Queen of Hearts knew all about them? In Wonderland, no one knew better than Hatter that it always served to keep an ace or two up your sleeve.
Besides, so long as the Looking Glass was working, that was all that mattered to him. The way he saw it, more oysters meant more emotions being, well, drained which, in turn, meant more tea. More tea meant more business in the Tea House which, quite nicely, meant more money in Hatter’s pocket.
Maybe he was being a bit of a cad, lying to the girl the way he did and promising her help when all he wanted was the ring, but that was Wonderland for you. Like he told that Alice, it wasn’t the place the children’s stories made it out to be anymore.