A Daria ficlet by wyvern337

"Well, it can't be any worse than the Thai peanut sauce," said Helen. "Even though you've said this is another foreign language cookbook."

"It's okay," Jake assured her. "This time I've got a phrasebook!"

Helen didn't hear him, she was already out the door. On her way to the office, called in to work overtime on another important case. They always were important, Jake thought sourly as he cut up an onion into the stewpot.

"I'll save you some!" he called after her, preferring to at least feign optimism. "You girls are really gonna like this! I had to go to another town to get some of the an apothecary! would you have believed there were even such things anymore?" Jake continued, trying to stir up some enthusiasm among the Morgendorffer offspring.

"Maybe you could, like, save me some too, Daddy?" said Quinn, also headed for the door. "Emergency meeting of the Fashion Club."

And then she was gone, too.

"Guess it's just you and me, kiddo," said Jake.

"Mmm," replied Daria without lowering the newspaper she was reading at the kitchen table.

It just wasn't fair, thought Jake as he sifted the next-to-last of the exotic herbs he'd purchased into the stew. He liked to cook, it was something he wanted to do for -- and share with -- his family. Something he'd never gotten from his dad. Oh, his mom, sure, but never old Mad Dog! Nooo, cooking was for girls -- and sissies! Well maybe Jake Morgendorffer wants to cook for his family, dammit! If only they appreciated it!

Somewhat unusually, instead of launching into a loud ranting tirade, Jake muttered darkly into the stew as he stirred it. Darkly but softly..some of the language wouldn't be appropriate for sensitive young ears, he thought. It was a surprisingly-thorough venting for all that -- the bubbling pot of meat, vegetables and broth was told not only all of Jake Morgendorffer's frustrations and disappointments, but a surprising amount of his hopes and dreams, as well.

After a little while, he got himself under control and resumed following the recipe, going back and forth between the old leather-bound cookbook -- at least that's what he'd figured it was -- that he'd run across at the used bookstore while he was looking for a birthday present for Daria, and the phrasebook he'd bought a few days later. Well, if this turned out as well as he was hoping it would, maybe this first dish from the cookbook could be part of that present.

"You know, Dad," said Daria from behind the paper, "I have to admit this does at least smell better than your usual efforts."

"Hey, thanks, Kiddo!" said Jake. And he noticed it was true...this stuff did smell pretty good. An exotic, well, spicy scent.

"Just one more ingredient to add," he said. "It says here it's supposed says here....he looked back and forth between the cookbook an the phrasebook. "Affect the final...transmogrification? That doesn't make any sense, does it? Hey, Kiddo, what's 'transmogrify' mean, anyway?"

"To affect a transformation, usually somehow grotesque or fanciful in nature," answered Daria. "Dad, are you sure adding that last ingredient's a good idea? Maybe you should quit while you're ahead?"

Daria was right, as usual, thought Jake. This seemed so much better than his usual tries at cooking that it really would be a shame to ruin it now.

"Y'know, Kiddo, I think that'd be a good idea, he said, turning towards his daughter as he said it. What say I just let this simmer a little while and then you and me--"

Jake gesticulated as he said the last few words, and in doing so accidentally flipped the last ingredient into the stewpot. The reaction began immediately. First the smell changed -- for the worse. Both he and Daria, finally lowering he newspaper to see what was going on, wrinkled their noses in response to the change.

"Oh, great," said Jake. "I finally start to get a dish right and then I screw things up AGAIN!"

"It's okay, Dad," Daria reassured him. "It seemed to be going well up 'til that last part, so maybe if you rounded up the ingredients again and--"

Just then, the stew came to a full boil, with a vengeance: a single, unnaturally large bubble formed, rose, and burst, splattering all over the kitchen.

"GAAAAH! DAMMIT!" exclaimed Jake. "Kiddo, I'm really sorry about this. D'you think you could help me clean...uh, Daria?"

Jake suddenly noticed his daughter had gone pale as a ghost, and was staring fixedly at the stove as the newspaper slipped unnoticed from her fingers. A tiny "eep!" was the only reply she could manage.

Jake turned back towards the range-top to survey the damage. It must've been pretty severe for Daria to've...Jake's mouth fell open in shock and amazement.

The Soup Elemental reared up out of the stockpot, spread it's leathery wings, and shook itself, scattering stray droplets of broth. It fixed its gaze on Jake.

"What is thy bidding, my master?" it asked.