Other Wings
A THM fanfiction

"No bird soars too high if he soars with his own wings." - William Blake

And so another class. The professor watched as they trooped out, half asleep even though it was past noon. Shoulders slumped, bags hanging off one shoulder...things really hadn't changed that much since her own student days. Granted, the stuff that their clothes (and in some cases, parts of their bodies) were completely different, but some things just didn't change; a student was a student was a student, no matter what age you lived in. They dressed like slobs, barely kept awake at all while you were talking...ah yes, student life at its very best.

Her next class wasn't for a while, and was in the auditorium next door; Jane Lane sat down at the lecturer's desk, and tried to remember what the hell had made her think that this was a good career move. She hadn't planned to become a teacher; it wasn't that long ago, after all, that she'd seriously considered not going to university at all. What could a place like BFAC teach her, she'd thought, that she couldn't find out for herself? She could make it as an artist on her own steam, thanks; no need to burden herself with student debts, when art was sure to take its toll in that regard anyway.

As she remembered this, she couldn't help but smile. That had been a mistake on her part; instead of being a stultifying place, BFAC had opened her eyes - new techniques, new materials, points of view...she'd let it flow all around and above her, and did her best to take in as much as she could. And the deeper that she went into this new world, the more there was, and the more she wanted to stay. There was so much to learn, and she was eager to try her hand at anything that was offered, so long as it was cool.

As great as all this was, it came at a price in the end. She still painted things of her own, but as she went deeper into the stores of knowledge, it became harder and harder to tell what was hers, and what was from someone else. She knew she was supposed to learn things and adapt them to her own style, but this was just ridiculous; she was becoming more and more sure that 'her' style was slipping away, becoming subsumed in the sea of other artists' theories and experiments. But she kept at her own projects; if she gave in, then what? What could she do then?

That answer had come, in time. She'd been in her third year the first time, and getting a bit desperate for cash; the money she was getting from the scholarship was pretty solid, but added up per month, it wasn't that much, and some of the things she wanted to try in art weren't cheap. The first guy to approach her had been nervous, but then as a freshman he had some right to be; by this time, she was known as someone that tried anything, and wasn't afraid to pull others in if she needed them.

After all, all he wanted was some help on his composition assignment. And thus it had begun. One tutoring session had turned into another, and then the guy was bringing his friends from class...it never got out of hand, mind, but in became a drag on her; she still wanted to soar into the world of art, show New York and places like that just what Jane Lane was made of, but...helping people was cool, too. She always got a good feeling when someone got a concept, managed to draw what he or she really wanted to create.

And so she stayed on, and got into the master's program. This was an even tougher slog than undergraduate life had been, and costlier, too, but there were compensations. For one, she still had a stable of people to tutor, which helped to supplement her income. Then, there was Daria. Jane hadn't kept in touch with that many people from the 'good old days' at LHS, but Daria had been one of them. She'd helped her along, more in a sense of moral support than anything else, kept her sane when things threatened to overwhelm her. She was the one that had urged her to try grad school: "After all, if you don't like it, you can leave with the debts you already have.", she'd said.

And then there'd been Fargas. An odd name, and an odd way of behaving, but a good guy even so. They'd met at a lecture halfway through her postgrad study, and had stuck together since; though it took them a while to move from friends to being something more, once it happened, it felt great. They had problems, true, few people didn't, but they were still together when those problems had blown over. He was going for a doctorate, and thought she should, too; he admired her ideas on art, and was always willing to read an essay of hers and comment. This made Jane draw back; she'd loved what she'd been through at university so far, but was this too far? Was this something she needed to do?

She was at a crossroads; her time as a postgrad was almost over. Two roads were open to her; take what she knew and go into the art world, where there were people her age that were already displaying works to acclaim, and risk never earning anything, and maybe even be tagged as a failure, or...teach? But who, or where? High school, like Ms. Dafoe? Or somewhere else? Could she do that?

She'd taken her time over it, and listened to Fargas, Daria, Trent, and even her mother, who managed to stay at the house in Lawndale just long enough to have a conversation with her. And she'd made her decision.

Her eyes opened as her watch beeped. It was time to get to class, and it never looked good for a teacher turned up late. She stood up, out the last of her things away, and headed for the door. She hadn't gone out into the art world, hadn't braved the corridors of secondary education, and had kept her own work very much to herself; Jane Lane, artiste extrordinare, hadn't soared. But in the end, she thought, as she shut off the lights and closed the door, she'd found another way to soar.

And perhaps it didn't really matter which way she soared, so long as she flew.


Jane stared at the screen; it wasn't quite what she'd thought she was going to write. It was as if her subconscious had taken the wheel, and she'd just gone in a different direction than she'd intended. She'd wanted her future self to seem bitter, unhappy with her choice to remain in academia, to have never struck out into the art world. She'd never be happy as just an art professor, stuck in a classroom, never experiencing the highs and lows of achievement. Her finger moved to the delete key, ready to sweep it all away, start again.

Then she re-read the last line. Her finger moved away.

"Nah", she said to herself, "Looks pretty good to me."


Author's Notes:

Nothing much; this, along with "Flight of Fancy", count as being the fastest fics I've ever written. This story was originally submitted to the "Iron Chef Challenge" by Ms. Kinnikufan, on 14/09/03. I also had one about Jodie, but my computer ate it. My thanks to everyone on the PPMB that read this and posted "Wow! That was really good!"-type messages. I'll do my best to do more stuff like this.