Tea Party

by Katsuko

Disclaimers: All copyrights belong to their respective copyright holders. Please do not steal!

It was a lose/lose situation. In one world, it could almost be classified as a catch 22, but of course Hatter wasn't from the Other Side and therefore had never heard the phrase.

What he did know was that he had no real options.

When Wonderland had started to get bad - really bad, not just the small issues that cropped up in any society - Hatter had been unwilling to pick sides at first. He was just one man, after all, and his mother had raised him to not rush into a decision without having all the facts beforehand. It was with this wisdom in mind that he watched things get progressively worse, with the Queen of Hearts banning books altogether and approving hunting expeditions to the Other Side.

He hadn't even known what she needed Other Siders for until the summons came.

Knowing better than to deny the Queen of anything, he'd gone to the House of Cards. Hatter went in with no plans to choose a side; those plans were quickly derailed. When given the choice between running one of the Queen's 'tea shops' or losing his head, Hatter went with the option that allowed him to continue having a place to hang his hat.

The tea shop was a horrible place.

Yes, Dormie was a good kid, also sucked up into the not-quite-legal business of selling specialty teas, but everything else about the shop was not of the good. It wasn't set up in the nicest of Wonderland realty, and it didn't take long for Hatter to realize that the Queen of Hearts had set him up with an illegal tea shop; the official shops were expensive and catered to the gentile members of Wonderland society, but she wanted control of everyone.

And in order to keep that control, she was willing to 'ignore' the illegal shops that she herself had set up for the dregs of society to patronize.

Hatter wasn't willing to lose his head, but he couldn't idly sit and participate in this sort of thing. He might be a little morally ambiguous, but he did know right from wrong. After a conversation with Dormie - who felt the same way regarding both the shop and his head - Hatter decided to get word to the resistance group that was slowly growing that he wanted to help.

This landed him a meeting with Dodo, and he went to the man's headquarters in hopes of escaping from his current predicament.

Unfortunately for him, that wasn't what was offered.

No, Dodo had enthused that Hatter was in the perfect position to gather information for the resistance fighters, and to pass along messages to those who had ties inside the Queen's own haven. There was no good reason to lose such a valuable resource, so instead of aiding Hatter in escaping from his unwanted duties, the cell's leader had simply given him another not-terribly-legal task to accomplish in the same exact location.

So here was Hatter, in his private office in the tea shop that he didn't even want to run, sipping at a hot cuppa and wishing that he'd added a splash or fifty of something a bit stronger. He could hear Dormie announcing the latest tea coming down the line and snorted derisively.

Innocence. There was no such thing in Wonderland anymore.

Then Ratty burst into the office with some woman he'd never set eyes on in his life, saying something about the Alice having come back.

Hatter heaved a silent sigh and set aside his cup. Hopefully this would prove for an interesting distraction from the hell he was currently living in.