©2003 Roger E. Moore (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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Synopsis: It was hot, and little Jane Lane was tired and bored and had nothing to do, when a White Rabbit wearing a waistcoat ran past her, and—
Author’s Notes: This story went through my mind in one form or the other for about six months before it was set down. It is a crossover, a sequel to two other stories, and a shipper tale, all at once. It is assumed that the reader is familiar with the major characters of the “Daria” TV show, so explanations of who is who are not needed. In the original version of this story, Summer Lane was the older sister watching little Jane, but later research showed that sister Penny (twelve years Jane’s senior) was a far better choice.
If anyone is curious, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland appears online in its entirety (with Tenniel artwork) at: http://www.cs.cmu.edu/People/rgs/alice-table.html
Acknowledgements: My thanks go out to Brandon League, who caught an error when the rough draft was posted to PPMB. Brandon, you da MAN! And thanks to everyone else for the encouragement. Just for the record, though, despite what everyone on PPMB said, I am not a shipper. This is just a story. Just because I write a shipper story does not make me a shipper. To repeat, I am not a shipper, so there.
Jane Lane, seven years old, was very tired of being babysat by her sister in the backyard and of having nothing to do. Once or twice, she peeked into the book that her red-haired older sister, Penny, was reading, but it had no pictures in it, and that annoyed Jane so much she said, “What good is a book with no pictures in it?”
“Hell if I know,” grumbled Penny, lying on her back in the lawn chair. She adjusted her sunglasses. “I have to read this garbage for my English Lit final so I can graduate, and it’s about to put me to sleep. Go play in the gazebo, okay?”
So Jane considered in her own mind (as best she could, for the hot day was making her very sleepy and a little stupid) whether it would be worth the trouble of connecting up the garden hose and spraying Penny with it, because Penny had been ignoring her all day while the rest of the family was out, when suddenly a White Rabbit with pink eyes and a plaid waistcoat ran past her on its hind legs.
Jane saw the rabbit and even with the sun as hot as it was on this day, she was not so stupid as to not know who this particular rabbit was. Her brother Trent had read the book to her, twice, and Jane knew all the illustrations by heart. The plot to give Penny a well-deserved soaking was forgotten in an instant.
The White Rabbit had barely gotten past her before Jane launched herself into an all-out sprint, determined that she would catch this rabbit before it got to the large rabbit-hole under the gazebo, toward which the rabbit was heading. Jane was faster than any other kid in her first-grade class at Lawndale Elementary, a handy talent for evading bullies and irritated older siblings. This rabbit would get a chase it would remember.
The White Rabbit had stopped for a moment and was in the process of taking a pocket watch from its waistcoat, murmuring “Oh dear! Oh dear!” to itself, when it caught a glimpse in the corner of its vision of Jane coming for it. Panicked near to madness, it dropped its watch, umbrella, gloves, fan, and pocket watch, then ran like wildfire on its back legs for the gazebo, panting in tiny breaths and gasping, “Oh! Oh! Oh!” as it glanced over its shoulder at her with an enormous pink eye. It ran like the wild wind, but it was too slow and got started too late.
Jane dived forward and wrapped her arms around the White Rabbit’s warm, furry waist (curiously, the rabbit was now as large as Jane was), and they tumbled end over end in the long grass past the gazebo and the rabbit-hole there. The White Rabbit struggled and kicked and tried to pull Jane’s interlocked hands from around its middle, but she had him good and she laughed aloud as they rolled to a stop under the brilliant sun.
“Gotcha!” Jane shrieked, flat on her back with the White Rabbit held tight to her chest. “You’re mine!”
“The Queen!” cried the kicking White Rabbit with a quavering English accent. “She’ll have my head if I fail to show for badminton today!”
“Tough noogies! I caught you, and you’re mine now!”
“Please, I must see the Queen! She’ll be in a terrible fury if I’m not on time!”
“Then give me a wish!” Jane cried. She could not say then how she knew that the White Rabbit was at all able to grant wishes, since the book had never mentioned that, but she said it anyway as she sensed it was just the thing she could get away with saying.
“A wish?” cried the rabbit, and it struggled so hard that it almost escaped, but Jane held on and the rabbit finally howled in desperation, “A wish it is!” and the White Rabbit exploded into a supernova of blinding light, and Jane jerked herself upright in bed, wide awake in the darkness and her lungs working like she’d finished a 10K marathon.
Several confused moments passed before she realized where she really was. After that, she carefully lay down again, trying to slow her breathing back to normal. The dream had been so real that she thought she could feel the White Rabbit’s short fur against her face and arms, and smell his rabbit scent with a strange touch of men’s cologne. Jane put a hand to her damp forehead, remembering it all. She then took a deep, ragged breath and realized she was thirsty. It must have come from dreaming about the heat and the sudden run. How odd, what an odd thing to happen. And ironic—that, too.
She carefully sat up in bed again, moonlight falling through the window to her left. Her eyes picked out her surroundings. Yes, she was in her own bedroom in the big apartment in Boston, not in her bedroom back in Lawndale. She was in college, not first grade. Jane sighed in resignation and threw off the covers, carefully easing her legs over the side of the bed. Her leg bones had a dull, familiar ache that warned of changing weather. Rain coming, probably—it was May, after all.
Grimacing, Jane slowly rubbed her hands down her once athletic limbs, loosening tense muscles and comforting old injuries. Experienced fingers ran over the misshapen kneecaps, one of them artificial, and over uncountable scars from her thighs to the soles of her feet. She leaned forward and her hands slid down the twisted outline of her shins, over dents and valleys where either the drunk driver who struck her or the surgeons who fought to save her had opened the skin. The places where the steel pins held her shattered bones together throbbed especially. She would not get back to sleep for hours.
Ironic, she thought, that she would come up with that particular vision. Only in dreamland would she catch the White Rabbit now. Jane gently stroked her right calf downward and recalled the peculiar evening at a Boston museum’s recent wine-and-cheese party, when Daria had a little too much champagne and confessed to Jane with a solemn face that she, Daria Morgendorffer, had once met the Cheshire Cat, which had predicted that she would one day meet Jane. Jane rolled her eyes at the memory. When sober again, Daria of course claimed not to remember the incident and refused to speak of it. Her story had probably triggered this dream, Jane decided. She did not even think about the wish. It was pointless.
The massage done, she reached for her elbow crutches against the nightstand and gingerly hauled herself to her feet. It took only moments to fit the tops of the crutches to her lower biceps and grip the handles in her fists. That done, she crossed the carpeted floor as quietly as she could, turned the doorknob, and went out into the dark, cool silence. Praying she wouldn’t trip over anything, she headed for the kitchen to get a glass of microwaved milk. Perhaps she could draw in her sketchpad until she was too sleepy to care that her legs hurt.
As she passed Trent’s room, however, she heard voices from behind the door. The walls in this apartment were thin, and the doors very light. She stopped, recognizing the speakers at once. They were whispering, but Jane’s hearing was better than good.
“Daria?” said the voice that stopped her.
After a pause, she heard Trent say, “I was thinking.”
An amused snort followed. “Good for you.”
“No. I mean, about us.”
Someone moved, and a bed creaked. “Oh. What?”
Trent was taking his time with this. “You and Janey have a year left before you graduate.”
Daria got tired of waiting for him to add another sentence. “And then I get into the doctoral program, yes. We talked about this.”
“Right.” A pause. “I want to stay in Boston with you.”
A pause now from Daria. “Oh. I didn’t know what you were planning to do.”
“I talked with the manager the other day, and he wanted to make me the assistant manager at the music store. I didn’t know if that was what I wanted, you know, joining the machine, but I can still get in some practice time with the guys, write my music when no one’s in the shop, and the pay’s pretty good.”
“Why didn’t you tell me this before?”
“I . . . I had to think about it.” The bed creaked and blankets rustled. “I want to stay here with you. Janey was thinking she might try to get in at that place in New York, so she wouldn’t be too far, you know.”
“Well . . . too far for what?”
“From us.” A pause. “She’d still be here for the wedding.”
Dead silence from the room. Jane felt an electric shock run through every part of her body as she stood outside the door, frozen in disbelief.
“Trent, what wedding?”
“Oh. Sorry. I want to marry you.”
Jane forgot to breathe. She let go of one crutch and raised a hand to cover her mouth. Make it happen, she prayed, make it happen, please, make it happen, make it—
Someone rolled over in bed. “You what?” said Daria clearly, in a normal voice.
“Shhh!” said Trent, just as loudly. “I want to marry you. I want us to be married. I love you.”
No one spoke for almost five seconds.
“Are you serious?”
“Um . . . is that a no?”
“No, it’s not a no! Are you serious?”
“Uh, yeah. I am. Wait.” The bed creaked. “Wait a sec.”
“What are you doing?”
“I put it in the drawer here.”
“Can you turn the light on?” A drawer opened.
“What are you doing? You need a light?”
“Wait, here it is. Yeah, this is it. Here.”
“Trent . . . ouch. That was my ear.”
“Don’t drop it.”
“You should have told me that before you gave it to me. Just a moment, I’ll get the light.”
After some fumbling, there was a faint click and yellow light spilled from under Trent’s door into the hall.
“There it is, by your butt. I got it.”
“Is this a ring?”
Even from the hall, Jane could hear Daria gasp and cry out, “Ahhh! Oh, my God!”
“Shhh! Janey’s asleep!”
“Oh, my God! Trent, where did you get this?”
“Does that mean you, uh, like it, or you—”
“Oh! Oh, God!”
“Uh, I, uh, you know, I thought you could wear that, if . . . you know, if you—”
Sudden movement on the bed cut off Trent’s words. After considerable bed-creaking, Daria’s voice came out loud and clear. “You really want this? You’re sure this is what you want? With me? You and me?”
“Uh . . . yeah.”
“Do you have any idea of how long I’ve waited for you to do this?”
“Uh . . . um . . . I, uh . . . I—”
“Forget it.” More movement on the bed was audible. Some of the sounds, but not all of them, were kissing.
Jane was suddenly aware that she was eavesdropping. It was hardly the first time, with both Daria and Trent living with her after accident, but this time she sensed she should move on to the kitchen and warm her milk—except that she was no longer thirsty.
And her legs had stopped hurting, no trace of pain in them at all, for a few sacred moments. It was a wish come true. It was a . . . it was . . .
“Uh,” gasped Trent, “uh, you, uh, want me to, uh, turn out the—”
“Leave it on.” The level of movement and bed-creaking picked up.
Jane covered her face with her hands and wept. She did all she could not to make a sound, to keep the moment and the magic alive. In the air around her was the scent of rabbit fur mixed with a strange cologne, and inside her mind it was summer and she could run like the wind.
Original: 3/9/03; revised 8/4/03
Daria/Alice in Wonderland crossover (especially the first three paragraphs of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Chapter One)
Sequel to both “If You Only Walk Long Enough” and “April Is the Cruelest Month”
Shipper (Daria/Trent), future (college)