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No Elves

by Mosca

     Subject: No Elves (multifandom)
     Date: Friday, January 17, 2003 8:55 PM

     Title: No Elves
     Author: Mosca
     Rating: PG for a little strong language
     Feedback: Dude.  E-mail me privately at mosca6@mailcity.com
     to make sure I get it.
     Distribution: Yes to list archives.  Anyone else, please ask
     so I can say yes.
     Summary: Elves are always where you least expect them.

Fandom: Five vignettes in five different ones. The West Wing, Providence, E.R., Ally McBeal, and Firefly, in that order. Should probably be archived as a crossover, where applicable.

Spoilers/Continuity: for each vignette respectively: takes place approximately yesterday; early third season; ninth season Christmas Eve (simultaneous with the end/beginning of "Hindsight"); late second season or so; after "Ariel".

Disclaimers: The West Wing is the intellectual property of John Wells Productions, Warner Brothers, and Aaron Sorkin; Providence belongs to NBC and John Masius; Constant C, Amblin Entertainment, and Warner Brothers own E.R.; David E. Kelley Productions and Fox lay claim to Ally McBeal; Fox and Mutant Enemy take the blame for Firefly; and J.R.R. Tolkien wrote Lord of the Rings. This original work of fan fiction is Copyright 2003 Mosca. This story is a labor of love, not money, so it's protected in the USA by the fair use provisions of the Copyright Act of 1976. All rights reserved. All wrongs reversed. Sponsored by Keebler.

Notes: Thanks to k and Katisha, the awesome beta women, and to The Distraction. Also to the Alternative Language Dictionaries, so Jayne could swear in authentic Chinese. This is a response to Cesperanza's Joe Dick Elf challenge: write a satirical 100-word vignette about someone who should not be an elf in any universe. All of these surpass 100 words, and some aren't all that satirical, but I say close enough.


  1. The West Wing

"Donna?"

She was moving papers. Moving them from here to there, organizing, everything in its right place because things had a way of not going to their right places when Donna was not directly responsible for them. And someday, when she grew up, maybe she would get to be the personal slave (cross that out, replace with "assistant") to someone really important, like the President. "Yes, Josh?" she said sweetly. Sometimes she said things sweetly because she liked Josh, but now it was just her job.

"I think I'm an elf."

"An elf?"

"I think I am one," Josh said.

"You're not an elf."

"How would you know?"

"I know, Josh."

"No, really, Donna, how would you know?" he said. "Honestly. Look at my pointy ears. I could be an elf."

"Josh."

"Maybe you should refer to me as Josholas from now on."

"Josh, when's the last time you had a good night's sleep?"

He glued a pensive expression onto his face. "1987."

"Fair enough. When's the last time you slept at all?"

"Three days ago."

"And how long has it been since Leo told you to take a long lunch break to collect your thoughts, and you used that long lunch break to see the new Lord of the Rings movie?"

"About four hours," he said.

"Josh?"

"Yes, Donna?"

"Go home, Josh."

"Are you sure you aren't in the service of the Dark Lord?"

"I don't have time to serve the Dark Lord," Donna said. "I'm too busy serving you."

"I'll go," Josh said. "I'll go."

"Good." She backed out the door.

"I'm still an elf," Josh said.

"Never doubted it," Donna said, shutting the door behind her.


2. Providence

Hannah's new favorite word is "elf." Or, more accurately, "ewuf," because she hasn't quite mastered "L" yet. The parenting books say that's normal for a child who's not quite two-- Hannah's not some sort of speech-deficient basket case who will need rounds of diagnostic tests and special tutors to make her a fuctioning member of society-- so "ewuf" doesn't worry Joanie much. Except that it does, because everything Hannah does both amazes and worries Joanie.

Two weeks ago, the word was "bath," or "baff" in Hannah-ese. She thought it was hilarious to point at things and say "baff," when they were clearly not, by any stretch of the imagination, baffs. Or baths, for that matter. This is how Hannah's favorite words usually work: for a week, everything is "doggie" or "puhgetti" or "Ewmo." Joanie likes to think that her sense of humor is more sophisticated than this, but to be honest, there's nothing cuter than an almost-two-year-old, pointing at Robbie and saying, "potty."

This is what worries, or surprises, or stymies Joanie about "ewuf." Nothing is an "ewuf" but Hannah herself. Syd, well-intentioned, will try to guide Hannah away from the fixation. "No, you're Hannah," she'll say, or, "No, you're a girl." Hannah shakes her head, slaps her chest with one fat hand, and says, "Ewuf."

"Oh," says Joanie. She's trying to stuff Hannah into her fall jacket. "So you're an elf, huh?"

"Yah. I ewuf." Hannah pats her jacket, right over her heart.

"All right. You're an elf."

Hannah points a tiny index finger at Joanie. "Mommy ewuf," she says. "But Mommy big ewuf."

"Someday, you'll be a big elf, too," Joanie says. She sits her little-elf daughter in the stroller, straps her in, and pushes her out onto the sidewalk. Hannah looks up at the bright-leaved trees that line their neighborhood. She has a strangely old, fond expression on her face, like she belongs up there, in them. Which she does, actually, if she's an elf.

What the hell. She'll grow out of it, anyway.


3. ER

There were nights that were bad all on their own, and then there were nights that threw omens of doom from the moment Kerry walked in. Jerry in tights was definitely a sign that things couldn't get any better. "I'm just trying to spread a little Christmas cheer," he said.

"That's not what's spreading," Kerry said, looking through the charts on the rack.

"Come on. I'm one of Santa's merry elves."

"Randi, maybe, could pass for a merry elf. She's at least got the legs for it." One of the myriad advantages of being out at work was being able to comment on Randi's legs.

"What are you saying, Dr. Weaver? I'm not allowed to be an elf because you don't want to look at my legs?"

"Nobody wants to look at your legs, Jerry," she said. "Go change. Go home if you have to, but you're not allowed back behind this desk until you're wearing something that's not nauseating." Jerry sighed and lumbered off. "And don't think you're getting paid for the time you spend changing," she called after him.

By the time Jerry returned, Kerry had pumped the stomach of a four-year-old who'd chased a poinsettia plant with a pitcher of eggnog; set the broken wrist of a ten-year-old who'd insisted on putting the angel on top of the tree; and pronounced DOA a seven-year-old who'd been wiped off the sidewalk by a drunk driver who'd fallen asleep at the wheel. Every once in a while, she needed days like this to remind her why she hadn't gone into pediatrics. It was too goddamn depressing.

She was about to hide in the lounge with a cup of coffee when Jerry returned. He modeled his new outfit for her: red and blue plaid shirt, neatly pressed blue jeans, and a red hand towel pinned to his collar. "I guess that's allowed," she said.

"Don't you want to guess what I am?"

"One of Santa's merry lumberjacks?"

"I'm Superman," Jerry said, like she should have known.

"At least you're not trying to be an elf," she sighed.

"I'll always be an elf," Jerry said, "on the inside. I don't have to try."

Kerry rolled her eyes. The phone rang, and Jerry answered it. Kerry pulled another chart out of the rack, feeling very sure that Santa should have a crack team of merry physicians who fixed all the little children who broke on Christmas Eve. For now, they'd have to settle for her.


4. Ally McBeal

It occurred to Ally that if John Cage was an elf, it would explain a lot. He didn't even look like he belonged in this world, tiny and scrunch-faced as he was. He dressed in odd, meticulous three-piece suits, including vests that you couldn't really call vests at all. They were waistcoats. His shoes were custom-made for maximum ergonomic support, and Ally had noticed that they curled up slightly at the toes. Didn't elves have curled-up toes? And besides, elves were always making shoes in fairy tales. It wasn't like John made shoes-- at least it wasn't likely that he did-- but it made sense that he would know other elves who'd found themselves stranded in the wrong world, ones who hadn't gone to law school and were therefore stuck making shoes.

Ally didn't have much trouble imagining the world of the elves. They were little and quick-minded and good at tricking people: that much, people had known for hundreds of years. John's shenanigans were legendary in the courtroom, and yet they continued to fool juries and even judges. Ally wondered if elves had some kind of subtle mental powers that caused everyday people to shout, "Please!" in unison.

In the elf world, there was always a fresh bowl. At night, they played Barry White's greatest hits on their nose whistles. John would never have to stutter or take a moment, because everything would be in place. Ally was drawn to the idea of a place so easygoing, so well organized to prevent her own stumbles and humiliations. She might enjoy the elf world, but she worried that they wouldn't let her in unless she was, herself, an elf.

If she wasn't an elf, which she clearly wasn't, then she was curious to know what she was. She wasn't a normal human being, part of this world. The problem was that most fantastical creatures were either horse-shaped or vertically challenged. Ally was lanky and tallish, and that ruled out a surprising number of possibilities. She was too good-natured to be an ogre, and besides, when she wasn't busy hating herself, she recognized that she was reasonably attractive. She could be some kind of tree spirit, maybe. But she didn't think that tree spirits were the kind of creatures who tripped over their own feet. Maybe in the elf world, the music in their heads always kept time with their gaits.

Ally hoped that John would be able to see the elf world someday. He'd be much happier there, among his own kind. She thought she might like to join him, in fact, somewhere where she, too, would be seen as something other than loony and brittle. They couldn't go there without a portal, though. There had to be a portal; there always was. Besides, without a portal, how had they gotten here in the first place? It was time to go back. It was time to get out of here and dance among the leaves.


5. Firefly

"Regal of bearing, noble of character," River said. She was talking to Simon, but she was looking right at Jayne. This weird ethereal che ji ba dan bugged Jayne more than the times when she freaked out completely and started throwing shit around or trying to stab people. It made Jayne nervous, and he knew that when he got nervous, he did stupid shit. He would probably be better off just sticking to his end of Serenity and letting River do her gau leng cho thing, but Simon had asked him to keep an eye on River in the infirmary in case she got violent while Simon ran some tests. And Jayne owed Simon about a hundred thousand favors.

"Regal of bearing, noble of character," River said again. This time, she pointed a shaky finger at Jayne and continued, "such is the race of the Elves."

"Shh," Simon said, petting River's hair. "It's not an elf. It's just Jayne."

"Hey," Jayne said. "I could be an elf! I bet you I'd make a great elf."

"You'd be an embarrassment to elvenkind," Simon said, not deigning to look Jayne in the eye. Simon was one of those people who didn't know the difference between knowing a lot of stuff and actually being intelligent. Now, Jayne had an inkling that Simon might be one of those rare people who deserved his education, but it didn't save him from being a snob. He was smart enough to save people from dying, but not smart enough to know how smart a man had to be just to survive, sometimes. And he wasn't near smart enough to think that maybe Jayne knew a thing or two about elves.

In one of the better orphanages-- better meaning enough food to halfway fill your belly and a bed to yourself-- there was a nun who'd read stories to the boys every night. She'd thought Tolkien would contribute to their moral character. Jayne had paid attention mostly because he'd liked the fight scenes, but in the back of his mind he thought it would be the most wonderful thing ever to go on a real quest for something precious. As a boy, Jayne had liked Aragorn best, but he'd held a special place in his heart for the elves. They got all the best weapons, for one thing.

"Regal of bearing," Jayne said. "Are you saying I'm regal of bearing?"

"Noble of character," River echoed.

"See? She thinks I'd make a good elf."

"Not make," River said. "Already are."

Jayne leaned back against a cabinet, grinning, and picked his teeth. His bearing was going to need some work if he wanted it to be regal. But then, according to River, it already was. He couldn't shake the hunch that if anyone knew, it was her.


Mosca
http://mosca.freeservers.com/fanfic/

     "And then you realize that instead of working on your
     goddamn novel, you've just wasted five minutes narrating a
     comic book adventure in which the world counts on you to
     save it from tiny legumes." -- Sarah Bunting, Tomato Nation

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