Tanner led Keira in and looked around the strange room they entered. The room was circular with a fireplace against the wall across from the door. Pillows of all sorts of sizes sat in one corner of the room, with a table right in the middle. To their right, looked to be just an open entertainment room, and to their left was a flight of stairs and a doorway, which through it, a kitchen could be seen. "March Hare! We're home! Auggie? Dodo? Are you in here?" Tanner called out as he walked in after Keira.
There was no answer, but there was a note in a broken teacup from the March Hare, saying that he was currently off cooking for the Red Queen, a most unfortunate thing. Where Dodo and Auggie were, Keira couldn't see. "Nice decor." she commented as she walked over towards the pillows.
Tanner looked around at the ripped wallpaper and stained floors, then chuckled and shrugged, moving to clean a window with his armsleeve. "It's home." he said softly and wiped until the weak sunlight reigned in through the rain. "Let me show you to your room."
Keira nodded and smiled. She was already planning in her head to clean up a bit, being the neat freak she was and all. Keira took her hair out from the ponytail as she followed Tanner, shaking out her long hair. "Ugh... so hard to manage... but I can't bring myself to cut it..."
Tanner laughed at her briefly, then shifted behind her after removing his own hat, leaving it on the table in the main room. His hair was straight and sleek, black like raven feathers and hung around his face limply, heavy from the rain. He moved behind her, his fingers easily moving through her hair. "Allow me." he said softly and as quickly as he'd said that, he was braiding her hair back and away from her face.
Keira blushed brightly, but smiled through it. "Thanks... I always have trouble with it. Usually my mom does this for me, because she liked the way it waves out when I wake up." she rolled her eyes. "My hair is naturally straight, and my mom hates it." she said. She could help but to add in her head, 'She used to at least... when she wasn't drinking all the time...'
"I couldn't for the life of me understand why." Tanner laughed slightly as he finished the braid and tied it off with a piece of string. "Your hair is beautiful. Your mother should appreciate you for who you are and what you have." He then released the braid and walked back around Keira to smile at her, then motioned for her to follow him. "Here... this is the guest bedroom. You may stay in here." He led her to the small bedroom in the back of the house where there was a single tiny window and a soft-looking bed. It was cleaner than other rooms in the house, and the wallpaper wasn't coming off. "No one ever comes in here."
Keira smiled and chuckled. "It's cute." she said and sat on the bed. "And as for my mom, asking her to appreciate me for me is asking a lot." she admitted as she stretched slightly.
Tanner tilted his head at her, leaning against the door frame with a small smile and shook his head. "It shouldn't have to be." he whispered and smiled. "Read some. Relax. I'll make us some dinner. If you want to bathe, the wash room is just down the hall... There should be water in the tub already, but if you need more water, just ask."
Keira nodded and smiled. "Thank you Tanner." she said sincerely.
Tanner nodded at her and stood away from the door frame, his arms still folded as he moved into the kitchen. Having guests like Keira honestly made him wonder sometimes. His name "Mad Hatter" wasn't as correct as it used to be. He wasn't so MAD at times. He grabbed an apron that was pink and frilly and had Kiss the Cook written across the chest, and pulled it on over his head, tying it around his back. He then began to cook a stew for them, something hot to eat on a cold and rainy night.
Keira took off her shoes and laid back in the bed, pulling the covers over herself. She pulled out Alice's book and started reading, hoping for an answer to everything happening so far.
After a while, the stew was finished, Tanner having made a lovely beef stew with vegetables and sliced bread, and he carried a tray of it along with a glass of cold water to the guest bedroom. He knocked a couple times lightly, then peeked in. "Are you descent? I have food." he smiled.
Keira looked up from her reading. "... I'm fine, don't worry." she chuckled. "You could've just called me down, instead of bringing me stuff." she smiled and sat up from the scrunched up position she was in before.
"Yes, well. I didn't want to interrupt your reading." Tanner said with a motion to the book. "It's a terrible thing to do." He set the tray down on the bed and smiled at her warmly. "If you need anything else, just ask." he said and ruffled his apron before turning to go again. "I'll be right downstairs."
Keira couldn't help but laugh lightly. "Okay, I will." she smiled. "And if you want to join me up here, you can." she commented. "The choice is yours." she shrugged slightly, a smile still on her face.
Hatter watched her for a second, blushing a little and smiling. "It would be an honor, my dear. But I have work of my own to do. I hope you can get comfortable on your own." he smiled and nodded with a bow of his head, moving out of the room and closing the door behind him.
Keira nodded and took a bit of stew. It was good, she had to admit to herself, surprised. With the stuff next to her, she continued reading the book, curious more about the caterpillar than anything. What she read startled her. The caterpillar was a bad guy for real? The real Alice had written that though she was blinded at first, the caterpillar's riddles were meant to make her stray from her path, and he was working for the Queen.
Keira finished up her stew and instead of being lazy, brought the empty dishes down to the kitchen. She looked around. "Auggie? Tanner?" she called out. She hadn't seen Auggie for a while and she was starting to worry. Plus, she wanted to talk to them about the caterpillar.
There was a small crash and a laugh from the next room. A few playing cards tumbled out from the doorway of the study and Auggie's voice could be heard. "Again! Again! That one was almost as tall as the last!" he laughed, clapping. He wasn't wearing his gloves, waistcoat or glasses anymore, and he was barefooted. He ran around the room, moving to grab up the playing cards and tumbled out into the hall in front of Keira, grabbing them up from the floor before he looked up at her. He smiled widely. "Keira! We're building house of cards!"
Keira smiled and chuckled lightly. "May I watch?" she asked him. Almost immediately, she forgot about the caterpillar for the time being. Such is the power of kids. She always forgot what she was doing when kids were involved.
Auggie nodded excitedly and turned, running back into the room and handing the cards to Tanner, who was in the process of juggling a handful of cards already. As Auggie tossed them into the loop, Tanner laughed. He was juggling the cards like they were weights, flipping through the air in a circle above his head, but without moving his hands, which stayed palm-up in front of him, elbows at his sides. He smiled as the loop of juggled cards got bigger and bigger, then he sent them flying towards the foundation of a new house of cards, watching them stack.
Keira sat against the western wall and watched the magical feat. She suddenly remembered what she came in for. "Tanner... tell me more about the Caterpillar. Is he still working for the Queen?" she asked in a completely serious tone. She remembered that he had gone to see the Caterpillar, and was suddenly worried and confused. Was Tanner working for the Queen as well?
"Oh, he's trying to quit." Tanner laughed, cards flying around him as they added to the foundation of the house one by one, and he looked at Keira with a smile. "Smoking that is. He asked for my help to drop the hookah." he chuckled. "I was just checking up on him. As for working for the Red Queen... he keeps me out of trouble as long as I keep him off the black path." he winked. "Why do you ask?"
"It was in Alice's book." Keira said. She had left it in the room and sighed softly, standing up. "She wrote that he worked for the Queen, and that he wasn't so great." she shrugged. "So I wanted to know." she brushed herself off.
Tanner smiled at her and nodded. "Understandable, my dear." he said and looked back at the house of cards. It was growing taller and taller by the second. And even as it seemed to touch the roof, it continued to grow. There were lifesize doorways and windows in it, one of which Auggie was eagerly running through, exploring the inside of the card house like a child in a treehouse. "Please, go inside." he smiled at Keira and nodded at the house.
"Yeah, Keira! Come inside!" Auggie said excitedly, running out and grabbing her hand before pulling her through the first doorway. As they entered the first doorway, all of the cards seemed to blend together in a molding of red, black and white. The numbers disappeared and the pathway in front of them seemed to stretch into a tunnel.
Keira stumbled forward a bit, then straightened herself out and looked around. "... this has got to be the wierdest thing I have ever seen..." she muttered. She squinted her eyes to see the end of the tunnel, but to no avail.
Slowly, as the house of cards was completed more and more, the tunnel began to light up with scenes, doorways leading to different places. At the very end of the tunnel was an open doorway with what looked like a fresh green valley and a lake, open blue skies and plenty of trees for shade, bearing fruits for snacking on. Tanner was suddenly by their sides and he grinned at them. "What a playhouse, hm?" he asked Keira and grinned as Auggie ran off for the doorway at the end of the tunnel. "Shall we?"
Keira jumped when he suddenly appeared, but chuckled. "Sure, looks like a fun time." she said, walking slowly, looking through the many different doorways. She closed her eyes as she felt the heat on her face from the sun shining bright, and it made her want a cigarette for some reason.
"It may be raining in our world... but that doesn't mean it's raining everywhere." Tanner chimed with a chuckle, stepping into the warm sun and smiling as the tall grass swayed at their legs. He watched Auggie suddenly strip out of his clothes down to his boxers and was jumping into the lake like a toddler at play, splashing around.
Keira shook her head and chuckled lightly. She didn't really like swimming so she was planning to just sit under the big tree she saw. She didn't mind, since it was cooler in the shade anyways. She sat down and watched Auggie, kind of like a mother would, but with a smile. As she pondered about Wonderland, she looked up at Tanner. "You going to go in as well?" she asked.
Tanner chuckled and shook his head. "No. Water isn't my thing." he said with a matter-of-fact look at Keira. He smiled as he watched Auggie, admiring his play as well, standing under the shade of the tree with his hands in his pockets. He tilted his head and looked up at the tree, but as he did, his hat fell off his head and landed in Keira's lap.
Keira chuckled, examining it. "You dropped this." she said with a grin. "It's got a lot of secrets in it, as what the book said." she shrugged and put it on her head with a dumb little grin. She never looked good in hats, and the ponytail didn't help at all.
Tanner looked down at her with a wide smile and he shrugged. "It does hold plenty of secrets. Sometimes it has a mind of its own." he chuckled. "But it looks good on you. You look like a ringmaster in a circus." he nodded with a wide smile. "But take it off and think of something you'd like to have, then reach inside." he said. He sat down next to her and watched her, to see if she would actually reach into the hat.
Keira furrowed her eyebrows up at him. "Legit? That's all you have to do?" she asked, taking off the hat and looking inside it. That confused her so much. How did it work out? What were the sciences? Alisa had always been the imaginative one, not Keira. She examined the outside as well, her eyebrows furrowing more.
"Yes, but be careful. You have to be specific, otherwise it'll get silly on you." Tanner laughed, moving to sit closer beside her. "Here." He took his hat back from her and put it in his lap with the rim up, then grabbed her hand. "Think of... a candy. Any candy." he whispered.
Keira blinked. "I was just going to think of my sunglasses from home... the ones I always wear..." she said and smiled. "Besides, I'm not much of a candy person." she said with a slight chuckle.
"Sunglasses? Strange name for an item... but very well. Think of that." Tanner nodded and led her hand into the hat, smiling at her. "Think hard, then feel around. You might have to dive a little... perhaps dig."
Keira chuckled. "Right." she sighed and closed her eyes, reaching in. She visualized them just sitting on her desk, where she had left them. They were bright purple and very sleek looking. It took a few minutes, but she finally felt something jump up into her hand, and she pulled it out. It wasn't her sunglasses, but her kitten Jorge. "... what the hell?!"
Tanner blinked at the kitten and tilted his head. "My goodness!" he laughed and took the kitten from her. "This means you weren't thinking so much of the sunglasses. Either that, or they aren't where you thought you left them." he said and stroked the kitten's ears. "Try again. Then we can put this little fellow back."
"Knowing him, he was trying to eat the glasses... Mom probably didn't feed him again." Keira said with a sigh. "His name is Jorge." she said, reaching back into the hat. This time, after a few more minutes, she got the glasses. "... do we have to put him back?"
Tanner smiled at Keira, looking down at Jorge and raising his eyebrows. "We don't have to." he whispered and smiled at her again, offering her the kitten. "But it would be right if we did. Think of how your mother would feel if he wasn't there."
Keira held Jorge in her arms, snorting. "She wouldn't notice. I'm the one who takes care of him." she said, putting on her glasses with a stupid grin.
Tanner shrugged and smiled. "Suit yourself. Though perhaps your mother would notice if she couldn't find him and she might feel terrible that she lost the cat that YOU have affections for. Especially if she notices that you too are missing." he said and leaned closer to her, narrowing his eyes at his own reflection in her sunglasses. He then reached forward and snatched them off her face, holding them up to the light to see better. "So these are... 'sunglasses'?"
Keira looked surprised. "Well... yeah... have you never seen them before?" she asked, confused. She put Jorge down on the grass to let him run around, but he just curled up and fell asleep, like he was before on her desk.
Tanner chuckled a little and shook his head. "No... how queer." he whispered. "I'm assuming they're some alternative creation of facial glasses, like the ones Auggie wears, but these are so... bulky compared to his." he mumbled, turning them this way and that with a frown of concentration. "And these are so... dark. How do you see out of them?"
"Try them on." Keira said. "They're meant to block the sun from hitting your eyes. It's safety stuff." she chuckled. "They're actually lighter than they look." she said.
"Safety? From what?" Tanner laughed, shaking his head. But he shrugged and slid them onto his face awkwardly, letting them sit on his ears and the bridge of his nose. He then looked at Keira and smiled. "How do I look?" he asked and chuckled. Actually with his shaggy black hair and pale complexion, he looked almost modern. Like he would fit in well with her world.
Keira gave him a thumbs up with a grin. "Quite spiffy. And it makes sure the sun's rays don't damage your eyes, goofball." she said with a light laugh. She looked to the pond to make sure Len was okay.
"Well that's no problem. If I was worried about the sun damaging my eyeballs, I'd just close my eyes!" Tanner laughed, shaking his head as he pulled off the sunglasses and offered them back to her, replacing his hat on his head now. He looked towards the pond as well and smiled as Auggie chased some fish around, and he sighed. "He really misses her."
Keira put on the glasses and blinked. "Huh?" she asked, looking to Tanner, then back to Auggie.
Tanner shrugged a little and watched Auggie still, a small frown on his face. "You can't tell just by looking at his body language... but he really misses Alice. She was the only one who gave him any sort of time of day, aside from myself. They had so many adventures together..." he whispered. "As I'm sure you'll find if you continue reading." He nodded at her book with a crooked smile, but even his smile was a little sad. "She was a wonderful person." He looked back at Auggie and sighed again.
Keira nodded. "If she was anything like Alisa, I'd believe it." she said. "Sorry I'm not what you guys expected..." she said with a hint of sadness. She felt bad about what happened to her friend, and also felt bad that Len and Aidan got stuck with her.
Tanner smiled at her a little and shook his head. "It's not your fault you ended up here, Keira. I'm sure we're not what you expected either, hm?" he asked and laughed. "Expectations are over-rated." He shrugged and scooted closer to her, wrapping an arm around her shoulders and pulling off his hat, setting it aside. "Let me ask you this: do I look like the traditional Mad Hatter from your world's books? Especially when I don't wear my hat? Am I what you expected?"
Keira smiled. "Nope. You're described as a psycho old man." she chuckled. "And you're right, expectations really are overrated." she said.
Tanner laughed and nodded in agreement, giving her a one-armed hug, nuzzling her a little. "See? Told you." he chuckled. He sighed and leaned back against the tree, lounging back rather comfortably and yawning. "I'm still a little offended that she described me as some psycho old man... After all, we were the same age when she came here." he laughed.
Keira blushed lightly. "Yeah..." she said. She sighed. "I'm just irritated with the fact that most of the stuff she wrote in the book in my world was a lie." she said. "Everyone there is fooled... hell, even Alisa was." she hugged her knees.
"It was for the good of both worlds, to be sure." Tanner nodded matter-of-factly. "If she had written every fact for what it was, our world would be in danger of people trying to take advantage of it. Just the same, people from this world would probably want to escape to yours... neither worlds would ever be the same again." he shrugged. "Besides, I don't think the girls from your world would be able to resist me." he winked, folding his hands behind his head.
Keira laughed. "You're probably right. In my world, you'd be considered very attractive... to both girls and guys." she said with a grin. "Who knows... you might've been raped by now."
Tanner blinked and tilted his head at her with a deep blush. "You think so? Hm. I don't know whether to be flattered or frightened.." he whispered and laughed with an awkward rub of his neck. "Thanks..? Although, it wouldn't be nearly as bad if I had been raped by you. But then again, it wouldn't be rape." he shrugged and winked.
Keira chuckled. "Nah, I'm not that kind of girl, though everyone else likes to think otherwise." she smiled. "No one in my world believes that I'm still a virgin." she admitted, and shrugged.
Tanner laughed and nodded in agreement. "I wouldn't have pegged you for one at first glance. But now that I've gotten to know you a little and your personality, I can definitely see it." he smiled.
Keira smiled. "That's another thing about people in my world. They judge before they think." she said with a soft sigh. "It's quite the problem." she said and stretched out.
Tanner watched her with a tilt to his head and his chin in his palm, before chuckling and nodding. "We have that same problem here too... only perhaps not as frequently." he whispered and looked back out at Len with a small frown.
"Not as extreme either, unless you count the wicked red witch." Keira smiled. "Don't worry.. I'll take her down, whether I have to light her on fire, or just take her crown." she shrugged. "Whichever seems like more fun."
"Try not to underestimate the Red Queen, Keira... she grows in power more and more every day." Tanner explained with a serious face. "And dress size." He laughed and shook his head, looking up as Auggie came running up, panting from the water and dripping from head to toe.
<--- Wonderland Mishaps 5