: All recognizable characters are owned by Glenn Eichler and MTV; no infringement is intended, and no money is being made. Also, close paraphrasing and some verbatim use from various episodes, again, no infringement intended.A/N
: For the sake of this fic, I'm saying that Lawndale High works a bit more like colleges than most high schools when it comes to winter break, and finishes their semester around December 7th-10th or so, and resumes the Monday after New Year's Day. Just clarifying. Separately, this is where everything has pretty much changed enough to be completely off the tracks. Looking through the next two seasons, besides IIFY?
, I can see one or maybe two subplots (not episodes) that might still happen in this AU. Besides that, it's all new. However, looking back, I believe that I've held true to my original premise. Scary how things snowball, isn't it?
walked out the doors of Lawndale High with smiles on their faces. "Man, I am so
glad to be done with this semester!" said Jen, running her fingers through her waist-long blonde hair.
"Oh, come on, this semester had something for everyone," Jane said. "New teachers, a new principal, new love for Jodie -"
"New assault and battery for me, new attempted murder on U-Charles..." Daria finished for her fiancé.
"Oh, and a new steady boyfriend for Quinn," said Jen. "I can go with what you're saying, Jane. But I'm still glad to be done. Especially since the Spiral's going to be doing a lot more gigs in the break. Did I tell you we sold out our second printing?"
"Oh, once or twice," said Jane.
"Or a hundred or two hundred," snarked Daria. She then raised Jen's hand, that she had been holding, and kissed it. "Seriously, we're proud of you." They had reached the SUV, and they all spent a few moments getting inside. Once they were headed out of the school lot, Daria spoke up again. "So when do you guys celebrate Christmas?"
Jen grinned. "You mean opening presents and stuff? We always did that on Christmas Eve, Dad said that he'd rather get some sleep than get woke up every hour by us asking, 'Is it Christmas yet?' I think he still lost some sleep because we were playing with our toys."
"We usually open presents on Christmas Day. Mom and Dad wanted Quinn to believe in Santa Claus as long as possible, but the last few years, she's been milking it."
Daria and Jen both waited for Jane to speak up. When she didn't, Jen opened her mouth, but Daria caught her eye and shook her head slightly. "So, Mom has asked me to drag you two into our tree trimming Saturday morning. Anything holding either of you back?"
Jane just shook her head, but Jen smiled and spoke up. "Nope. In fact, why don't we do my place after? Dad has a fake tree, but we really haven't put it up much since Mom - well, in a few years."
"We'll be there, Jen," Daria said as they turned into the Morgendorffer driveway.
When they had put away their bags and Jane had gone to the study room to work on a painting, Jen turned to Daria. "Why did you shush me in the car? All I was going to do was ask Jane what her family did for Christmas."
"That's what I thought you were going to do," agreed Daria. "The problem with that is that she didn't want to talk about it, which means that the subject isn't filled with happiness for her. I think we should talk with Trent about it, but off the top of my head, maybe the Wandering Lanes tended to still be wandering at Christmas? It does us no good to hurt her by dragging it out of her, though."
"I didn't think about that, but you're right. Anyway, what are you getting her?"
"I haven't decided yet. I'll probably get her two big gifts, one regular, and one from my writing."
"That's cool! and it gives me an idea..." Jen grinned.
Trent looked up when Daria and Jen came down the steps to the basement. For Daria, the place had completely changed since she had seen it last. Gone were all the bare walls and exposed joists, in their place was new equipment and soundproofing. "Very nice, Trent," she said.
"Thanks, Daria, but this is here because of what you said." He raised his eyebrow and gave a small frown. "You almost never show up here, Daria. Is there something wrong?"
"Um, that's kinda what we'd like you to tell us." She blushed slightly and looked down.
"Yeah, T-man. We were talking about Christmas stuff earlier, and Jane didn't act normal. She didn't join in, like she normally does. It was like -"
"She was withdrawn inside herself," Daria finished. "Is there something that we should know?"
Trent sat down on an amp and supported his chin with his fist. He sighed. "Yeah, there's something you need to know.
"See, Jane believed in Santa Claus a lot longer than most kids. It's kinda weird, but the fact that Mom and Dad were gone actually made her believe it more, not less. They'd send presents to me, and I'd put them under the tree, and they'd be there Christmas morning - and she knew that I didn't have enough to buy them for her. So she argued - a lot - with her classmates about it, and asked them to explain how she got them.
"This went on for a few years, but finally, when she was twelve, something happened. Mom and Dad forgot, there were problems with shipping, something else, I don't know. But her presents didn't show up until almost New Year's." He coughed. "It was horrible. She came down the stairs as usual, and there was nothing but my presents - art supplies - under the tree. It broke my heart - she just stood there, sobbing asking if she'd been too naughty that year." He took a breath and let it out.
"Oh my God," Jen whispered.
"It gets worse." Trent paused for a moment. "When the presents finally got there, almost a week late, she took one look at them, and she shut herself in her bedroom for almost the next week. She even missed the first day back to school. When she came out, she had painted about four pictures, all about Santa Claus dying in different gory ways. She kept that up in art class until some kids bullied her into not painting for a few months; and the next year, when I put the tree up, she asked me to take it down, because she didn't want to participate in a lie.
"Anyway, ever since, she hasn't been real enthusiastic with anything to do with Christmas."
The next day, Daria and Jane walked through the doorway into Cranberry Commons. "I wanted to thank you again, baby, for being my pack mule today," Daria said.
"Well, since you're buying lunch..." Jane snarked. They walked, hand in hand, and were almost to their destination, a store filled with Christmas decorations, when they came face-to-face with Sandi, Tiffany, and Brooke.
"Oh, look," sneered Sandi. "It's the dyke and her artgeek girlfriend." She put her finger to her lips and looked at the store that they had almost arrived at. "Isn't she the girl that was so naive that she still believed in Santa Claus when she was twelve?
and after that Christmas, painted all those ugly pictures of Santa Claus? and -" She was stopped by Daria's hand in front of her face.
"Pardon me," Daria said, as she turned to her fiancé, saw the tears streaking down her chin, gently kissed her lips, and said, quietly, "Would you wait for me in the store, honey?" Once Jane had left, she turned back to Sandi. "Sandi," she said, looking directly into the girl's eyes - and there was no way to misinterpret Daria's visage as being pleasant, "You have some kind of problem with Quinn. I don't know why, as she hasn't interacted with you in any meaningful way for almost a year, but you do. I'm not happy about that, but unless she asks for help, my sister can fight her own battles. But lately, you've been involving me and mine in this. That had better stop, right now. We've done nothing against you, and if you continue on, we will act in ways that assure that you won't be happy. Do you understand?"
Sandi stuck her nose in the air. "Like I'm going to take orders from a cripple." She saw Daria's eyebrow rise. "Like we couldn't wipe the floor with you, and none of your 'friends,' are around."
Sandi was surprised when Daria smiled brightly. "Oh, please." Daria shook her head. "Then come on. Do it. If you think you can, I'm sure it'd hurt Quinn if I got hurt." She threw her cane towards the Christmas store. "There, now I don't have a stick to defend myself when you take me on, three-to-one. Oh, I forgot," she said as she hopped in a circle. She turned her head. "Now you don't have to look at my face." She waited a few moments, then hopped over to her cane, picked it up, turned around and walked up to them, leaning on her cane.
In her monotone she said, "Now I believe that if you have an ounce of brainpower, that you will take orders from this cripple. As I said before, unless she asks for help, I'm not getting involved . But this is the last free shot you get at me or mine. Capisce?" They nodded and turned away.
After they left, Daria walked into the store and suddenly collected an armful of sobbing Jane. "There, there," she murmured as she rubbed circles on Jane's back. When the sobs had subsided a bit, she pulled out her cellphone. "Jen? It's Daria. I think we definitely have a case SC on our hands. Ready on your end?" She listened, then replied, "Be there in about twenty. Love you." She closed her cell and put it away. "C'mon, Jane, let's head to the car."
"But- what about the decorations?"
Daria turned Jane and looked straight into her eyes. "You are far more important than any decorations." She softly kissed Jane, then turned toward the exit. "So let's get moving."
Jane was a bit shocked when they pulled up to a church. After they parked, Daria turned to her. "Jane, you know that I'm agnostic. I don't know whether there's anyone 'up there,' or not, and I'm highly skeptical of whether anyone else does, either. But I want to get you the best information on what's hurting you."
With that, they got out of the SUV, and were met at the door by Jen, who led them to a conference room. They sat down, Daria and Jen on either side of Jane. After a couple of minutes, a man in his thirties, dressed in clerical garb, came in and offered his hand. "I'm John Sullivan," he said. "Jennifer's a regular here, and I remember Daria, but I don't think we've met, Miss...?"
"Jane Lane," she said. She'd managed to clear up the tear tracks and puffiness from her face, and she even managed a smile. "I'm not sure why my girlfriends dragged me down here..."
"According to Jennifer, it has something to do with belief in Santa Claus?"
Jane blushed and started to get up. "I don't want to waste your time, with something so inconsequential, and me not even a Christian.."
"Relax. Sit down, Jane." The pastor smiled at her. "The most important questions are those of belief and faith, and Christ himself spent his time with sinners and tax collectors. So tell me about this."
Jane squeezed both of her fiancés' hands, and began. "Well, I believed in Santa a long while after my friends at the time called it horsehockey. You see..."
" -and so I decided that I wasn't going to participate in a lie, so we didn't have Christmas any more."
"And you blamed Santa Claus for not being real?" Reverend Sullivan asked, gently.
"Yes! No! I don't know." Jane ran her fingers through her hair. "If I couldn't depend on him, why go to all the trouble?"
"Perhaps because, to do what he does for us, it doesn't really matter if he's real, in most senses, or not?" Reverend Sullivan smiled. "I can tell you that there is someone that could have been the model for Santa Claus. He was the Catholic Saint Nicolas, and among other things, he, somewhat anonymously, gave three bags of gold so that three young girls could go free. Their day for him is on December the sixth. But I suspect that that's not really what you're looking for in an answer, is it?" He smiled. "Well, if you can get comfortable, and put up with me in lecture mode, I may be able to give you one.
"To start off, I know a lot of people reject Christmas and its related days because they say it's impossible for us to know Christ's birthday after so long, and with records being lost along the way. While I don't quite agree with them, I will admit that no one has come up with a definitive date for His birth. But the thing is, that's not really a problem. Christmas isn't the anniversary of Christ's birth, it's the celebration of it Christmas - Christ's Mass, to the Catholics. You could celebrate it during the summer, and it would have just as much chance of being His birthday. So why do we celebrate it in December?
"It's actually something kind of odd, that I was given to study in seminary. Many different religions celebrate something very similar at that time of year. You can call it Christmas, or Hanukkah, or Yuletide, or simply the Solstice, but it's the time where, in spite of the fact that the worst of times and conditions seem to be upon us, that love, whether of our God or each other, reaches forth and conquers hate. I would say, myself, that Santa Claus is an amalgamation of these ideas, simplified so that children can understand - and believe."
Daria picked up Jane's hand and kissed it. "Like I told you in the car, I don't know who is running things up there. But I do know that Christmas is all about love and including, and that's why I work with my family to put it together very year."
Jen picked up her other hand and kissed it. "We don't want you to feel forced, or uncomfortable, honey. If you don't want to participate with us, we won't be unhappy at all or love you one bit less. But we would be very happy if you joined us."
"Aw, hell," Jane said. "Where's that decoration store?"
Helen came through the door with a big bag of Clusterburgers in one hand, and her briefcase in the other. Today had been one of the thankfully much fewer times that she had been called in on a weekend, and she had had to leave the tree-trimming to the girls. "Girls! Lunch is here!"
"We're in here, Mom!" she heard from the living room, and as she passed through the entryway, she smelt candles burning, and heard Christmas music playing softly. When she turned to her left, everything was covered in tinsel and lights.
"Girls, that looks lovely!" she said, as she sat down on the sofa and offered up her burgers to her offspring. "You got that all done this morning?"
"Having all three of us working on it helped a lot, even if Quinn was over at Stacy's helping their family trim their tree." Seeing Helen narrow her eyes, she added, "No worries about that, Mom. I think three was the most this place could handle."
"So what are you going to do with the rest of the day?" Helen asked as she stretched out on the couch.
"Same thing, but at Dad's house," said Jen. "We haven't had a good Christmas setup in -" her smile dimmed for a moment. "Well, in too long."
When Frank Burns entered his house after spending the day hunting, he was bemused for a few moments, then it clicked. "Jennifer!" he called. Within a few moments, bells jingled and his daughter and her girlfriends were in front of him. "Sweetheart, why has the house been taken over by a tinsel demon?"
He was happy to see her smile widely. "We decided that it wasn't going to be just the bare fake tree this year, Daddy." Jen hugged her girls from their sides. "I decided that I was going to remind you these next few weeks how much I loved you, and Jane and Daria helped. We're even going to take the decorations down, afterwards."
Daria smiled, herself. "And if you don't mind, we'd really like to join Jen here on Christmas Eve with you all."
"I think that we can manage that," Frank said. "Ken, Gordon, and Doyle have all said that they were going to be here. I told them that you might be spending Christmas with friends, but I'm sure that they'll be glad to see you, honey."
"Great!" said Jane.
Christmas Eve was winding down, and there were only a few gifts left to be given. Jen took one from her bag and handed it to her father.
"Well, thank you, honey!" he said, then quickly tore the wrapping off and opened the box. "That's very nice...Oh, my God." And all they could see was Frank Burns bending over, bawling his eyes out as he hugged Jennifer.
"What was that?" Ken Burns asked Daria in a low voice.
"She got him a pocketwatch, and found the last picture taken of Frank and Louise, and had it put in the facing."
"That'd do it," he nodded. "Listen, we don't know exactly what it is that you three have going, and we pretty much don't care, as long as Jen's happy. But if you two hurt her, well, you'll have four men with guns who know how to use them looking for you."
Daria looked him in the eye and nodded. "Clear."
Christmas morning in the Morgendorffer household had one firm rule. No matter how soon Santa came, anyone downstairs or out of their room before seven a.m. would lose one gift per minute early. Needless to say, one application of this rule had ensured that the place was silent until seven a.m., and bedlam after. In practice, it allowed the adults time to get showered and dressed before dealing with presents, and on this Christmas, it allowed Trent and Tom time to show up for the festivities.
Both came in bearing gifts, but strangely enough, it was Daria, rather than Quinn, who drew Tom aside. Once they were a bit separated from the others on the driveway, she said, "Listen, Tom, I know you haven't known Quinn long, but she's got a bit of trouble called Sandi Griffin." She went on to describe the situation as it stood. "And she hasn't told you because she thinks that she can handle it. In fact, she might be able to, and I hope she does. I hope that I'm just seeing a long range shadow. But maybe I'm not."
His eyes were hard. "What do you need me to do?"
Daria gave her Mona Lisa smile. "Well, I was thinking of..." and she went on to describe her plan. By the end of it, Tom was grinning widely.
"Count me in."
Once everyone was inside and had hot chocolate in their hands, the gift giving commenced. There were many nice ones, including original paintings by Jane for her fiancés. But the two best of the morning were both for Jane. The first was the latest Mac computer, with a very large stylus and drawing pad, with promised help setting up, from Daria and Jen. Jane hugged her girls tight.
The other was a CD, from Trent, Daria, Jen, and the band. When she got it, Jane looked at it, bemused. "Well, put it in the player, Jane," urged Daria. Jane did so, sticking out her tongue at Daria in the process. What came out, causing Jane to sob uncontrollably, was:
Jen- You'd think that people would have had enough of silly love songs.
But I look around me and I see it isn't so.
Some people wanna fill the world with silly love songs.
And what's wrong with that?
I'd like to know, cause here I go again...
Trent -I love you, I love you,
Daria - I love you, I love you,
I can't explain the feelings plain to me, say can't you see?
Ah, she gave me more, she gave it all to me
Now can't you see,
What's wrong with that
I need to know, cause here I go again...
Jen - I love you, I love you
Jen & Daria - Love doesn't come in a minute,
Sometimes it doesn't come at all
I only know that when I'm in it
It isn't silly, no, it isn't silly, love isn't silly at all.
Jen, Daria, & Trent - How can I tell you about my loved one?
How can I tell you about my loved one?
How can I tell you about my loved one?
(I love you)
How can I tell you about my loved one?
(I love you)
"Silly Love Songs" is Paul McCartney's intellectual property, not mine. No infringement intended.