----- Flashback – Halloween Night
Xander was dancing in the streets. He had walked away from a ghost girl with distinctive red hair. She had tried to call him back, unfortunately something was making the most interesting music and he couldn’t do anything, but dance in time to the tune playing.
His top hat had a pair of trailing tails of dusty rusty red and grey ribbons. The grey to match his coat, red to match his pants and his brown shirt match the top hat. He had a waist-coat to match all colours that he was currently wearing and there was a lovely thick fake gold chain linked to his pockets, providing the illusion that he had a pocket watch. He was also in black canvas high-top sneakers, made for skate-boarders.
He was flipping the hat, twisting it in his hands and rolling it up and down his arms to another flip then a twist back onto his head, as a grey-white dormouse ran around the brim of the hat without any issues or fear of falling. She squeaked her pleasure at the ride and was surprised to find that she was no longer in ‘Underland’ (...i...), but she was still sporting a bright red waist-coat like long tunic, with a long hatpin for a sword attached to her belt.
Xander liked the “Fudderwhack
” (...ii...) dance and was surprisingly good at it. He was better at it because his body was younger than the Mad Hatter that knew this particular dance. Plus he had always been a natural ‘Snoopy
’ dancer of the Snoopy Dance of joy and happiness. He moved through the streets shuffling his feet, jumping and somersaulting past the ooglies that roamed.
He didn’t even encounter them in battle, as his absent-minded level of alertness raised the prey sense in the brains of the devils and demons romping around. They didn’t even want to challenge him because they felt that things would not turn out in their favour.
“Besides,” he said to the dormouse in an accented tone. “They’re too short to be a bother.”
“Too right,” she replied. “I’d still give’ em what for if’n they give me the evil eye.” She swung her sword through a couple of steps and thrusting forward as though stabbing something. They she looked around and suddenly felt a need for tea. “Check the time, my friend, is’t tea time yet? All this runnin’ ‘bout has given me the thirst.”
“Time, time,” Xander cackled, calling a darker personality to the fore. “It’s time for something. It’s always time for something.” He pulled out the fake gold chain watch fob, empty of a watch. “Oh dear me,” he said in another voice and tone (...iii...). “Thith will not do.”
He looked around and saw that there was a shop nearby that was still open. The Hatter called upon the memories of the teen and found that this particular shop and owner might have a reason to be open this late. He walked over to the store, walked in and called out, “Halloo!”
“Be right with you,” a gravelly voice called from the back.
The owner was apparently there, but the Hatter took the time to look around to see the shop’s offerings. He was leaning over a display of pocket watches and frowning. “Is there something wrong with the selection?”
“Yea and nay,” the Hatter replied offhandedly. He looked up and saw the man addressing him was not quite human. The teen Hatter shrugged and didn’t care as long as the demon didn’t attack him. “Nay, because you have an excellent collection and yea because none are what I’m looking for, don’t you have anything bigger? I’m looking for something about the size of my hand or mayhap slightly larger.”
The owner of the shop frowned and said, “Not much call for something larger. Humans like things compact and much smaller. I do have the parts to make several of different sizes in the back, but it would take about a week to create.”
The Hatter frowned and then grinned, “A deal my fine being? I can make my own, but only need the tools and parts, which you have. It would take less time for me to do that, than to commission you for such a task.”
The owner paused think about it. Then he asked because everyone knew who the ones were that were helping the blond fireball. “Aren’t you one of the Slayer’s...”
“No, no, no, no, no, my good sir,” the Hatter said. “Spell or something called to me... So... well perhaps this body is who you think it is, but I’m not who I think I am at the moment. However we are still in need of a decent time piece, can you assist us there?”
The owner looked and noticed a high number of smaller demons running about the street, but his species was a kind of demon that could sense that something unnatural or something supernatural was using the power of the Hellmouth.
“I think it will best to close up for the rest of the night,” he said turning off the lights to the store’s entrance, shutting the door and locking them in, while locking the other things out.
He looked at the teenager’s eager face and then decided, “Come with me. You can make your own, but you come back in the morning to pay for the parts. If you’ve no funds, you’ll work for me to pay them off, agreed?”
The Hatter paused to consult the others internally and said, (...It’s fair...)
(...But what about the boy?...) Another Hatter personality asked. (...He’d be stuck for it, even if you’re
the one building it...)
(...That doethn’t matter becauthe we need
something to tell uth the time...) A third said with a very pronounced lisp of Ths instead of SSs. This one was anxious because without a watch he was feeling like his mind was more cracked than usual. He was the first to have noticed the watch-less fob.
(...I’ll deal with it when the time comes...) The teenager told them, sitting back and watching the multiple Hatters in his mind. (...Do what you need to do to live and survive this night. I’ll figure out how to pay the shop owner, besides I think I’d like to have the watch that you’re planning to make. I get to keep it after the night is over anyway...)
“Agreed,” the Hatter said to the shop owner after the internal debate was over. “He’ll be back the day after tomorrow. Now lead me to your tools.” He was rubbing his hands together in anticipation of creating something entirely new.
The shop owner wrote a note to the boy telling him the particulars as the Hatter sat at the workbench with several boxes of wheels and cogs, watch faces and springs surrounding him. There were several casings, but the Hatter knew just which one he needed.
The demon owner of the shop looked on and watched in amazement.
The possessed human took several cogs and dropped them directly into the casing. He took a few screws and springs, connecting this section and that together with the cogs. There were a couple of heated internal debates about this watch, which was taking form rather quickly.
The casing was about four and a half inches wide in diameter. The wind up knob at the top was plain, but there were several other knobs that the boy added. The owner of the shop couldn’t figure out what they would be used for.
The whole process took about fifteen to twenty minutes. The tightening of a couple of screws and the finished product was sitting on a small riser. The Hatter wound up the watch and then waited.
The owner of the store was about to interrupt, however the watch began to chime the time of the hour with the sound of an old handheld gong, quite a unique tone. He looked to one of the clocks on his walls and found that the watch was chiming right on time. His own clocks never sounded in his workshop, but they did ring in the main store section.
The boy’s grin was something else. His eyes glowed in a happy greenish light and suddenly the boy made a couple of minor adjustments before the whole thing was complete. Soon the watch was attached to the empty fob chain and stored away correctly in the waist-coat pocket.
“I thank you,” the Hatter said with bow. “Now we’ll know when the right time is tea time.”
“You’re welcome,” the owner said. “Put this in a pocket for the young man.”
The Hatter nodded and pocketed the slip paper that was addressed to the teenager in the Hatter costume. He was out of the shop with a hop and skip. He did a flip, walking on his hands for a block or two until his watch chimed with another chime. This time it was the whistling sound of a tea kettle announcing its boiling point. He rolled up to a standing position. He pulled out his watch and showed it to his brim rider.
“Would you look at the time,” he said. “It’th time for tea.” He looked around for a moment and then said, “Ah, that’th the perrfect place for tea.” He jumped to the top of a stop sign and sat on it with one leg dangling down and the other crossing his knee.
“You are very limber tonight,” the dormouse observed. “Lovely balance too,” she said holding out a small porcelain thimble.
The Hatter waved his hand one way and then another way. His other rolled out a small saucer and then he poured his tea from an invisible pot, while the cup grew from the saucer. The tea came out dark with an earthy sent. “It’th been a long time thinthe I’ve had thith blend,” he said, inhaling deeply. “It’th too thobering, but I think...”
“You,” a voice called up from under the Hatter. It came from somewhere on the street.
The Hatter looked from side to side. He looked up and then tilted his head backwards until he was looking down at the pavement behind him. From there he looked side to side, searching for the speaker. His balance was amazing, but the person looking for him didn’t care at the moment.
“Down here,” the voice said and then instructed the Hatter to look in the one direction he hadn’t looked in. “Moron, check In front of you.”
The Hatter snapped forward quickly and said, “Oh there you are. Were you looking for me my good man?”
“Yeah,” the man said vamping out. His eyes turned to a burning yellow, his face shifting to his demonic aspect. “My Mistress sent me to fetch you.”
“Ah my good man,” the Hatter said. “Are you quite certain that you’ve certainly found the certain person you need to find? Remember you must be certain you have the right person.”
The vampire’s eye widened at that statement. He jumped up and grabbed the Hatter’s ankle to pull him down, but the Hatter flowed with the pull and pushed off the sign, doing a flip in the air, never once spilling his tea. “Easy there my good man,” the Hatter said. “You only had to say that you’ve found the certain person you’re looking for and that that person was me.”
The vampire snorted and said, “My mistress will like you.” The Hatter motioned the vampire to lead the way, but the creature took hold of his arm by the elbow, in order to stop the costumed teenager from escaping. “She said that she needed the watchmaker that was ‘stopped
’ and drinking tea. I saw you make that watch and you were drinking tea.”
The Hatter shrugged and continued to drink his tea, but he looked into the bottom of his cup and said, “Dirty.” He tossed the dirty cup and saucer over his shoulder. The vampire watched with a stunned expression as the cup crashed against the wall.
“Don’t worry,” the Hatter said cheerfully. “I’ve another cup at hand.”
The vampire watched as the Hatter took off his hat, turned it upside down and reached inside it all the way up to his other elbow, as his first was still in the unrelenting grip of the vampire. The Hatter pulled out a different cup full of tea and saucer with a dainty little cucumber sandwiches on the side. The vampire kept guiding the Hatter as his mistress was very explicit and his un-life would be forfeit if he didn’t bring this kid back with him.
“My good man,” the Hatter said his eyes turning a blanch white with a dark rim of black and small pin-point pupils (...iv...). “There is something that I’ve been meaning to ask you.” The vampire was back in his human aspect and raised an eyebrow in question. “How come your ticker has no toc?”
“What the hell are you talking about?” This vampire was only a minion, but when one of his masters told him to do something he did it. He didn’t want to wind up dead, but this teen was driving him batty with the way he was talking and with the freaky eyes.
“You know,” the Hatter said. This particular one was the Hatter that was most obsessed with cogs, wheels, tics and tocs. He pointed to his own chest and said, “This is a ticking ticker complete with tics and tocs, but yours has no tocs.”
“I’m not alive,” the vampire said, walking into the secret hideout of his master and mistress. “Don’t need one…” He called out, “Mistress, I’ve brought the watchmaker as requested.”
“So you have,” a melodious voice said. “Leave us.”
The Hatter’s watched chimed and the tone was to the chorus tune of ‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves, did gyre and gimble in the wabe; All mimsy were the borogroves, And the mome raths outgrabe
’. (...v...) He pulled it out to look at it.
’ it said on one of the hands, in the blue-purple colour of worry that matched the ever changing Hatter’s eyes.
“Quite right,” he muttered, putting it away. He turned in time to look into the dark eyes of a lady. Knowing just how to act among the courts of Underland, he pulled all his not inconsiderable load of manners and bowed, saying, “My Lady you have summoned this lowly Hatter.”
“Hatter?” Drusilla asked, stepping forward for a better look. “You are my Dark Kitten, please look at me.” He straightened up to look at her just like she commanded. “Oh my, the Stars were right, changing people, changing sight! I hope my Spikey is able to do away with that Slayer wench.” She coughed into a handkerchief.
“My lady you are not well,” the Hatter said. “Please do sit down.”
“My Dark Kitten,” she said looking at him. “Too many… You have too many…” She allowed him to guide her to what was known as a fainting couch back in the older days.
“Oh dear, oh dear,” the Hatter said looking into her eyes, his own slipping into a calculating white. “Your ticker is not tocing and a few of your cogs have slipped.”
He was taking her blood pressure even though there was nothing to measure. He was looking at her and seeing something else. “Dear Lady, I believe that you are in need of my services.”
“Daddy’s blood would help,” she said softly. “The Stars have said so.”
The Hatter nodded and then said, “There are few things that I can do to fix your immediate illness, but some of the slipped cogs have been running on another gear for far too long and that... I cannot fix.”
“Turk,” she called out. “I thought I told you to bring me the watchmaker.”
“Mistress,” said the vampire that brought Xander to her. “He was in the watchmakers shop and made the watch that he is currently wearing. He was also on top of a STOP sign when I caught up to him and drinking tea.”
“Tea,” she said perking up. “Is it tea time?”
“Not yet,” the Hatter said. “Do you have a preference?”
“Can you make a good blood tea?” She asked with a vicious grin.
“Fruity or would you prefer A positive
with a dash of O negative
,” the Hatter asked without even batting an eyelash. He was grinning madly at her and said, “If I make you the latter, you’ll have to forgive me if I don’t partake of it.”
“Of course,” she said. “I had you brought here to fix…”
“With your permission, my Lady,” Xander said. “I can fix a few things, but time is time and it’s a running away from us quite fast.”
“Do it,” Drusilla said with resolve, she so wanted to surprise her Spikey. She had immense faith on what the Stars told her and they never led her wrong before.
The Hatter took his hat off of his head, he leaned over it facing its dark depths and shouted, “Oh, Cheshire Cat…there’s nothing interesting here, so I suggest you stay where you are.”
In the contrariness of all creatures known to belong to in the family of cats, the Cheshire Cat did the opposite and appeared in front of them with a creepy smoky grin, literally from ear to ear.
“Now why would I do that,” the Cheshire Cat said. “The Queen of Hearts is cuffed to the Knave who tries to kill her (...vi...) in many varying ways. It’s the same thing day in day out. So Hatter…”
Huge slitted dark blue eyes looked at the Hatter in such a close range that the Hatter suspected that the cat’s last meal might have contained fish. “Oooh,” the cat said twisting his head upside down, leaving his body as it was right side up. “What have we here?”
“A conundrum,” the Hatter said pulling out a large old fashioned syringe with two loops at the side of a plunger. “The blood of the father, but not father… will heal the made childe,” he pointed to Drusilla and continued on saying, “His daughter has slipped cogs that need to be partially fixed… but to find him…” The Hatter shrugged. “Time is running away again, but maybe we can catch him with your help before he’s completely disappeared. You know he never listens to me.”
The Cheshire Cat floated up and around the room. He focussed on an old time picture that was made of tin-type on a plate of metal and asked, “Which is it?”
The Hatter answered, “The dark haired man.”
The cat and Drusilla looked at him surprised, so he said, “It’s in the memories. We’ll be having tea upon your return. Tap the back of Daddy’s
head. One third of spinal fluids which are necessary and the rest in blood and that will contain the base needed for the Lady’s cure.”
“I choose,” the cat said and disappeared in a vapour taking the syringe with him.
Drusilla was worried a bit about this. Cats were notoriously unpredictable creatures, this was one of the reasons she called Xander a kitten, because he never followed the normal convention. The Stars told her that and there was something about him that she liked because of it. However trusting a creature known as a Cheshire Cat, she had to ask, “Do you trust him?”
“Of course I trust this
one,” the Hatter said his eyes turning more yellowish-red of irritation. “He lost his head for me once (...vii...). He’s as trustworthy as any cat.” Their conversation was interrupted by the whistling of a teapot. He pulled out his watch, clicking the dial to turn off the sound and said, “Tea time.”
“Yea,” she said clapping her hands excitedly. “Of course, it’s time for tea. We have a nice set up over there.” She pointed to a corner with a small table and a tea service of silver and china.
“Perfect,” the Hatter said, settling in the corner with three battered porcelain dolls. He held the chair for the Lady and then to his own seat. “Blood tea?”
“If you please,” she said with a giggle, watching him pull out a handkerchief, snap it in the air and then spreading it on the table. It expanded to fit and contained within the kerchief were three pots of tea and two plates of dainty type sandwiches and dainty cakes. They overlaid the existing setup without disturbing it.
The mad vampire’s dark eyes widened at the spread. “It has been years since...”
“My dear lady,” the Hatter said. “You don’t look a day over one and twenty. Here for you,” he poured out a very thick reddish fluid that smelled of human blood to her.
Drusilla took a sip of it and said, “Perfect temperature.”
“It’s a gift,” he said with a half-mad grin. “These are for your girls,” he said pouring out a coloured water tea made just for the dolls. The water wouldn’t stain or soil their fine dresses should the cups spill over accidentally.
Drusilla grinned at his thoughtfulness. “You my Mad Kitten are a wonder.” Her eyes were sparking as though she had regained some of her lost strength. It would be fleeting until the cure came with the cat. “How long have you known the ...”
“Cheshire Cat,” the Hatter finished for her. “Long enough, through adventures enough too,” he said remembering a time when an impish little girl appeared in Underland calling it Wonderland (...viii...). “Crazy child fell through a hole and came back out telling the tale you know so well.”
Drusilla smiled a toothy grin, knowing that the Stars could not risk the Dark Kitten’s turning at this time, but maybe... She lost her smile when she let out another hacking cough.
“She really doesn’t sound well,” the Cat replied dropping the syringe into the Hatter’s lap. He chose not to become visible at this point in time. “The Father was pretty fun to poke at, so I’m going back to bother him and a couple of the others that he surrounded himself with. Cute cat-girl nearby, she shrieks every time smile at her. Don’t know why that bothers anyone?” He showed his ear to ear grin, all sharp and pointed teeth with no body attached.
The Hatter just looked at the cat and said, “I don’t understand that either. You look normal to me. Have fun!”
“Oh you know me,” the Cat said and disappeared from the area.
Xander the Hatter picked up the syringe tapped it a couple of times and then pulled out a couple of vials that appeared to exist in his pockets at the moment. “Hmm,” he thought about the emotions that they contained, Calm, Health, Safe & Euphoric
(...Leftovers from my Wonderland...) One of the quieter Hatters said. (...They’re the last of it for now, but don’t worry... we will always get more...)
(...What’s really going on with you? You’re barely as vocal as the others who’ve taken over...) Xander asked. (...You were pretty cool in the movie, I mean I’d love to have your right hook, you know. I wonder if it’s strong enough to knock out a vampire in full vamp-mode?...)
(...Hey I can tap a Jabberwocky in the jaw and still live to tell the tale...) The young cocky Hatter told him with a grin. (...Although it did sting my hand at the time when I hit it and that was because it had spines on its face, but the arm is as strong as the strongest steel and better too...)
Xander could see it, as the other Hatters stayed away from the guy’s right arm because they could sense that it was different. Although it was not an explained difference, but any difference that could possibly help him out in order to survive tonight would not be turned down.
Meanwhile the Hatter currently in charge of the cure mixed the emotions with the rest in the syringe. “Two parts Calm
, one part Euphoric
, four part Safe
and a magical thirteen parts Health
,” he muttered as he mixed the contents by shaking the now full syringe. “That should do it for you. A small poke into the non-tocing ticker, two thirds full and one third separated in equal parts to your lungs.”
“Now,” she said.
“Let’s get you comfy,” the Hatter Xander said. He led her back to the fainting couch and once she was settled, laid out pretty, he looked into her eyes. She nodded. “You’ll sleep for a while, three days should do it.”
“Turk,” she said. “Tell my Spikey, if I find you didn’t...” She let hang there for the vampire to imagine all sorts of miserable torture. “He’s not to hurt my Mad Kitten either because of it, none of you have permission to harm. Tell him and tell the others, understand.”
“Yes Mistress,” the awkward vampire said.
She looked at Xander and nodded. Unfortunately the spell was gonging and the time was running out. However as Xander was being pushed to the front of the consciousness, he never panicked.
He didn’t want to make any mistakes and accidently killing Drusilla was too of one to even consider fouling this up. He was not in a secure location either and he knew that he would need to escape, as soon as he could.
He plunged the needle and filled her heart and lungs as per the Hatter’s instructions coming from the back of his mind. Once he was done, he stood up and sighed. “Remember, three days,” he said to the hovering vampire. “She needs the three days of sleep and she will be sleeping for all of them, no matter what.”
“Yes sir,” the vampire named Turk said.
“Now that my work here is done,” Xander said rubbing his hands on pants. “Lead me out of here.”
“This way,” the vampire said, leading the teenager out of the building. “Don’t tell the Slayer where we live.”
“Look,” Xander said. “I’m just going to forget all of this for the three days. All bets are off after that. Not sporting, you know, kicking someone when their down.”
“Good,” the vampire said. He hauled Xander over his shoulder and ran off with him. He took him back to the Stop that he found him at and set him down. “This is where I’ll leave you.”
Xander rubbed his stomach from where the shoulder dug in, but there had been nothing he could do about that mode of travel. It was faster. Still he had to protest, “I could have found my out by myself.”
“Until the Mistresses word you were not in a secure place,” the vampire said. “Thank you for healing her.”
“Don’t thank me for that,” Xander said. “You may live to regret it because from what I heard about her, she’s very bad news and worse when she’s not ill.”
“Whatever,” the vampire said, taking off in order to warn the others and to tell his Master about the Mad Kitten and the Mistress’ cure.
Xander headed off in another direction, going into town to seek out the children and get them all safely home. Most had made their way back, but some had been lost. He even took care of the ones that Willow and Buffy were responsible for.
He never noticed that a pair of vampire yellow eyes were watching him and contemplating his pain for leaving his scent all around his Princess’s chambers.
(...i...) Underland – a term from Tim Burton’s version of Alice, 2010.
(...ii...) “Fudderwhack” - specific to Tim Burton’s version of Alice, 2010.
(...iii...) Lisping Hatter - specific to Disney’s “Alice in Wonderland” circa 1951.
(...iv...) Imagery of eyes based on American McGee’s Alice and the computer version of the Hatter, 2000.
(...v...) Tim Burton’s version of Alice, 2010.
(...vi...) Queen of Hearts cuffed to the Knave of Hearts - specific to Tim Burton’s version of Alice, 2010.
(...vii...) Tim Burton’s version of Alice, 2010.
(...viii...) Tim Burton’s version of Alice, 2010.