Pause in the Air
Text ©2004 The Angst Guy (email@example.com)
Daria and associated characters are ©2004 MTV Networks
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Synopsis: An unexpected guest appears during Thanksgiving dinner at the Morgendorffers’ home.
Author’s Notes: This story takes place in November of the year in which the “Daria” TV movie, “Is It College Yet?” takes place. Certain fanfic assumptions about the actual relationship between Daria and Jane are employed. The reader is assumed to have a working knowledge of the major characters from the “Daria” series, so personal introductions are not given.
“You’re not eating much, sweetie,” Helen Morgendorffer said to her eldest daughter. She learned closer and inspected Daria’s weary face. “Are you feeling all right?”
Daria shrugged and poked at the piece of turkey on her plate. She swallowed and put her fork down, resting her hands in her lap. “I’m okay,” she murmured.
Jane Lane’s spoon suddenly appeared over Daria’s plate and gestured at her sweet potatoes. “You eating that?”
Daria shrugged again. Jane took that as the all clear to scoop the sweet potatoes away. “Thanks.”
“There’s more here if you want some,” Helen said, indicating a bowl. Her eyes were fixed on the mountain of food on Jane’s plate—and how rapidly Jane was putting it away.
“C’mon, Daria.” Quinn handed the bowl of stuffing in Daria’s direction. “It’s Thanksgiving. You’re supposed to eat—reasonably, of course.”
Daria looked across the table at the minuscule portions of food on Quinn’s plate. She sighed but betrayed no expression other than a tired look. Jane took the bowl instead and began to empty it.
“Yeah, kiddo!” Jake said around a mouthful of turkey. “You gotta get with the program! This is our first time together since we went to Montpelier and then you two went off to college.” He pointed to the cranberry sauce, which Jane was spooning onto her plate in a red rubbery mound. “Try this! It’s excellent!”
“Jake,” said Helen hissed, “you’re spitting food all over the table.”
“Ewww!” Quinn cupped a hand over the right side of her face to block out any view of her father.
“Montpelier really was beautiful, wasn’t it?” Helen said without enthusiasm, trying to ignore Jake.
“It was gorgeous!” Jane said. “I used up eight rolls of film. You’ve got to see the pictures later. Oh—” Jane’s fork hovered over Quinn’s plate “—do you want those beans?”
“Huh? Oh, no, I—”
“Thanks.” The beans vanished.
Helen cleared her throat and looked at Daria and Jane. “So, um, how have the two of you been since . . . the . . .”
“Since the wedding?” Jane said brightly, spearing more turkey from the serving plate. “Wedding, civil union, whatever. Wasn’t that a blast? Vermont sure is pretty in late summer.” She reached over and gave Daria’s hand a long, warm squeeze. Daria barely returned it. “We’ve been great. I can’t tell you how much we’ve appreciated your support, Mr. and Mrs. Morgendorffer. It’s meant everything to us.”
“Anytime!” Jake said with a grin, cutting up turkey and having barely heard a word Jane said.
“Um, certainly,” said Helen with a strained look. “Well, we sort of knew, a while back, that the two of you were, uh, you know, and, uh, we—”
“Is she always this cheery?” Quinn interrupted, staring at her sister. “I mean, around you.”
“Oh,” said Jane, smiling at Daria. “She’s my sunshine.”
Daria glanced up for a moment, gave a fraction of a smile back, then looked down again at her nearly empty plate. Helen rolled her eyes and sighed but said nothing. Jake, oblivious, worked his way through his turkey and gravy.
“Hey,” said Jane gently, “you need to eat. Get with the program, like your dad said.”
“Not hungry,” Daria mumbled, her voice barely audible.
“She’s not like this all the time,” Jane said to Quinn, then looked at Daria directly. “You sure you don’t want something? A little milk? Some fruit? C’mon, you have to eat something.”
Daria grimaced and shook her head slightly.
“You’ve got to,” Jane repeated.
“Is anything wrong?” Helen asked.
Daria shook her head, but she didn’t look up.
“You feeling okay?” Jane asked. She put the back of her hand to Daria’s forehead.
Daria shrugged and rubbed her mouth. “I’m okay,” she whispered.
“You’re really missing out.” Jane began cutting up more of her turkey. “This is great food.”
“At least you’re eating well,” Quinn remarked, watching Jane. “You gonna have a baby, or what?”
There was shocked moment, then Quinn and Jane both burst into hysterical laughter. Helen forced a smile a moment later, though she looked embarrassed at the same time.
Jake looked up with a puzzled grin. “What’d I miss?”
“Oh, I asked Jane if she was going to have a baby!” Quinn said, wiping her eyes. “Do you get it?”
“What?” Jake cried. “My God! Jane’s going to have a baby? How?”
“Jake!” cried Helen, mortified.
This provoked more laughter from Quinn and Jane.
“Oh, it’s not me,” said Jane, still laughing. She jerked a thumb to her right. “It’s her that’s . . .”
Jane’s laughter faded one second later as she flinched. “Oops,” she whispered.
Daria closed her eyes. Her head then descended toward her plate until her forehead and glasses softly thumped against the china. Her thick brown hair covered what was left of her turkey and sweet potatoes.
There was a pregnant pause.
Original: 01/20/03; modified 12/08/04