Darcy and Elizabeth ran into Pemberley and upstairs to their bedroom. Darcy immediately pulled off his jeans and T-shirt, threw them into the dirty-modern-clothes pile and then pulled on a pair of breeches and a clean lawn shirt from his Regency wardrobe. He was beginning to tie on his cravat when he noticed that his wife had simply fallen limply into a chair.
"Elizabeth," she raised her eyes, "what are you doing? Come on, get dressed, we've got to be in the next story in a few minutes."
"Fitzwilliam, I'm tired."
"Elizabeth, we have to go. Please hurry. I want to see what happens next in this one."
"Fitzwilliam, do you realize what I've been through the past week? I almost drowned, I became a super-heroine for God's sake, I threw a Halloween party, I withstood insulting questions from your obnoxious uncle, I had to fend off an icky modern version of Mr. Collins wanting a life partner, why don't they use my clones for those scenes? I mean have you seen that board lately? It's too much."
"Elizabeth, we have to go, come on, please?"
"Send a clone, or let one of the minor characters do it."
"Elizabeth no one can replace you."
"Ha, the readers wouldn't even know it's not me, it's not like they can see us, and they all have a different image of us anyway. They're just reading words."
"Look Elizabeth, we really need you in the story. Just get dressed and we can go. Please, dearest, loveliest . . . "
"Will, that only works in the stories."
"Right, well, Will is not my name."
"If you don't watch it I'll call you Darce."
"I like Belle."
She glared at him, "DARCE, I need a vacation."
"Don't say what, say pardon."
"You know, a VAY-CAY-SHUN."
"Well, I'm sure one of the writers will send us somewhere soon."
"No, not IN a story, FROM the stories."
"But what would the dwiggies read?" asked Darcy, with concern.
"I don't know, the Bronte sisters?"
Darcy gasped and looked around as if worried that someone had heard, "Elizabeth!"
"I don't care what they read, as long as I am not in it."
"All right Elizabeth," he said in a conciliatory tone, "I know you're tired, I'm tired too, but can we talk about this later? If we don't hurry, these writers are going to start swarming Pemberley."
Then a brilliant thought occurred to her, "no, not a vacation."
"Good, can we go now?"
"We need a union."
"What? I mean, pardon?" spluttered Darcy.
"When was the last time you had your hearing checked?"
"Um . . . " he began, as he contracted his brow as if trying to remember.
"Which part of YOON-YUN, do you not understand?" She asked. He just stared at her blankly. "Hellooooo, are you practicing for a Hunsford visiting scene?" she asked waving her hand in front of his eyes.
"You can't be serious."
She rolled her eyes and let out an exasperated sigh, "if we had a union, those writers wouldn't be able to work us like this." With renewed energy, Elizabeth stood up and purposefully walked out of the room.
"Elizabeth, where are you going?"
She turned with a mischievous grin, "to the attic."
"The attic, why? We don't have time for this," he said following her.
He entered the attic behind her and saw her move towards a locked closet door with a sign that said, "FOR EMERGENCY USE ONLY."
"No," he gasped, "Elizabeth, you wouldn't."
She turned to him and said, "now which writer is waiting for us at present?"
"Elizabeth, being tired is not an emergency."
"Look, we need time to have a meeting and organize a union," she replied as she pulled a key off of a chain she wore around her neck. She used the key to open the closet door, revealing a pile of large black blocks. She grabbed one and heaved it to the floor and then shoved it towards him, then she grabbed another saying, "I think we need two, you carry that one."
"Elizabeth, I am not going to carry that block," he replied, as she closed and locked the closet door.
"Oh, I forgot, you're in Regency attire, call a servant," she said, replacing the key around her neck.
"No, I mean I'm not going to help you."
"Traitor!" she cried with more emotion than was warranted.
"Don't be melodramatic E-LI-ZA, save it for the stories."
"Whatever DARCE," she replied, "I don't need you anyway. I'm still in modern clothes, I've got a cell phone in my pocket and I'll call Colonel Fitzwilliam, or even better, George Wickham to help me if you won't."
Darcy turned red, "you wouldn't."
"Fine," he said, picking up the block.
They carried the blocks to the Pemberley kitchens and walked through to a locked door on the opposite end. Elizabeth took another key from around her neck and unlocked this door. They entered a room in which hundreds of teapots were steaming with various types of tea. "What is this?" asked Darcy.
"This is where they make the tea for Jane Austen's Tea Room on the DWG. Quick, sprinkle some of the Writer's Block into each pot, and don't skimp."
Darcy obeyed but shook his head and said, "I can't believe we're doing this."
"There," said Elizabeth, as she finished her work, "now we don't have to go rushing off to the next story." Then she noticed her husband's concerned look and said, "oh, don't worry, it's only temporary."
They left the room and locked the door, then Elizabeth turned to Darcy and said, "now, have Mrs. Reynolds prepare the ballroom for a meeting and I'll get all the other characters over here."
"How are you going to get them all here so quickly? Most of them are not even in Derbyshire."
"Fitzwilliam, honey, this is fiction," she replied in a half-patronizing half-frustrated tone.
Soon all the characters were assembled in the Pemberley ballroom. Mrs. Bennet was heard saying, "and there we were all ready to proceed with the next scene in the story, when suddenly the author just could not decide what to do with us, so we all just left when we got Lizzy's message."
Elizabeth winked at her husband and then called the room to order.
"My husband and I," she began, "have been discussing the possibility of starting a union."
There was a rumble of noisy chatter following this announcement.
"Quiet," she said, but no one quieted. "Excuse me," she said, but no one paid attention. Then she uttered a loud, "oy" and everyone looked at her. "That's better. Now we have been used and abused by these writers for nearly two hundred years. We have rights too and I think we should all refuse to participate in any stories until we have some demands met."
"You mean, like, go on strike?" asked Miss Darcy with a terrified look.
"Yes, that's exactly what I mean. Charlotte, will you head the committee for the strike?" Charlotte nodded her acquiescence. Considering her usual lot in life she wasn't about to argue with anything that meant a potential break from the stories. "You'll find everything you need to make signs to carry in a picket line in the next room," continued Elizabeth.
"I'll be on that committee," said Mr. Hurst a little too quickly. Then he thought for a moment and said, "wait a minute, no, I don't want to go on strike. Why do you have to do this just when I am dominating the board? I like the way things are going."
"Dominating? You wish," mumbled Darcy, "give him the lead in a couple of stories and he thinks he's God's gift to fiction. Ha, he's not even a super-hero."
"Don't help her, Lottie," continued Hurst, giving Darcy a hostile look, "I know you want a break from stories with Collins, but the stories are also the only way you ever get away from him."
"What, so I can have a go with you?" laughed Charlotte.
"I agree with Hurst," said Mr. Bennet, "I'm enjoying some of my stories immensely, I've got a new, fresh, young wife in one, and . . . what?" he turned to (the real) Mrs. Bennet who was glaring at him.
"I think it's a great idea," said Wickham, "can I head the committee on making up the list of demands?"
"Um, . . . well, . . . actually," spluttered Elizabeth.
"I just want to end up with you once in a while," continued Wickham, as he flashed his most charming smile.
"Hey," said Lydia. Then she realized that meant she could end up with someone different too, so she quieted.
"Right, me too," said Collins.
"Me three," said Colonel Fitzwilliam, grinning.
"And I want Darcy," said Miss Bingley.
"I wouldn't mind a go at him either," said Jane, and everyone gaped at her in silence while Bingley shrieked in shock.
"No, no, NO!" said Elizabeth, "we can't make demands about the storylines, but I think we should ask for some consideration, some time to ourselves."
"But what would we do?" asked Mary, "we can't do anything unless someone writes it. I mean," she paused for effect, and continued in an eerie voice as her eyes shifted, "someone is even writing this, right now."
"Um, right, thank you Mary," said Elizabeth, not a little unsettled by her sister's observation, "I hadn't exactly gotten that far in my thinking. But, er, you know, Mr. Wickham is heading that committee, so, ah, direct all your inquiries to him."
"Huh?" said Wickham, with a confused look, as several characters began to approach him with questions.
Lydia handed him a clipboard, patted his head, and sidled up to Colonel Fitzwilliam who was staring at a small black device in his hands with a puzzled expression muttering "that's odd."
"What?" asked Lydia.
He looked at her in confusion, as if only just realizing she was next to him, "don't say what, say pardon."
"Oh, never mind. My story pager hasn't gone off since I arrived here, that's all." Then he looked around the room and added, "is anyone else's broken?"
All the main characters began checking their pagers and agreeing that something must be wrong because none of them had been going off.
"I can't help you," said Mr. Stone, "I don't even carry mine," they all looked at him in surprised disgust. "Well, I'm so rarely called to be in a story. That's why I was late last time."
"Wow," said Miss Webb, "even I carry mine. I mean, you never know."
Darcy rolled his eyes, "why did you even bother inviting the minor characters?"
"I like to be thorough," replied Lizzy. "Anyway, it makes them feel important," she added in a whisper.
"Well, can anyone explain why all the pagers are broken. I mean it's been going off almost constantly for nearly two-hundred years, and I've never so much as had to change the battery," said Colonel Fitzwilliam.
"Why are you so worried? Expecting a call?" asked Bingley, waggling his eyebrows.
"Several actually," said Colonel Fitzwilliam, with a grin.
"Are you sure you don't have it on silent or something?" asked Lizzy hoping to deflect any suspicion.
"No, I haven't received any pages since before we got your message to come here."
"The pagers aren't broken," said Darcy.
"Fitzwilliam!" cried Elizabeth.
Both Darcy and Colonel Fitzwilliam said, "what?"
She sighed, "don't say what, say pardon."
Again in unison, they said, "pardon?"
"That's better. Now, I meant Fitzwilliam Darcy, known as Darcy, William, Will, or just Darce" Darcy winced at the list of names, "you know, my husband."
"Right," said the colonel.
"Elizabeth, we have to tell them," said Darcy.
"Fine," she said. "It's no big deal," she continued as she turned to the expectant crowd, "we just used some of the Writer's Block."
"WHAT??" snapped Hurst.
"Don't say what, say pardon," called the whole room in unison.
"Did the authoress just recently read BJD?" asked Mary.
"Yes, didn't you see her post in the Tea Room?" replied Kitty.
"The Poisoned Tea Room, more like," bellowed Hurst. "How could you?" he continued pathetically, "what if they forget about me again when the Writer's Block wears off?"
"They'll forget about you anyway, I'm sure," laughed Darcy.
"You have Writer's Block here?" asked Mr. Collins, with interest.
"Yes, of course, it's in the . . . "
"Elizabeth," snapped her husband. She looked at him and he was shaking his head vigorously.
"Right, never mind," she said.
"I am most seriously displeased," said Lady Catherine, "how dare you take matters into your own hands in this manner. Why was I not consulted? Have you no respect? How could you let this happen, Darcy?"
"Well, she . . . ." Darcy began to explain, but he was forestalled by his wife.
"I have the key," said Elizabeth with satisfaction.
"Insolent, foolish, headstrong girl, . . . arts and allurements . . . polluted shades . . . seriously displeased . . . ," muttered Lady Catherine.
Just then all the main characters' pagers started going off, except for Darcy's and Elizabeth's.
"Oh no," said Elizabeth, "the Writer's Block must have worn off. We're out of time, and we haven't gotten anything accomplished. In vain have I struggled . . . ."
The main characters all began shuffling out while shrugging at Elizabeth apologetically. The minor characters followed.
Darcy and Elizabeth, now alone, were surprised that they had not been summoned to the next story, and they both double-checked their pagers to confirm it.
"I guess we're not in this one," said Darcy smiling suggestively.
"I guess not," said Elizabeth, returning his smile.
They began kissing passionately and were horizontal on one of the sofas a few minutes later when they were interrupted by two loud beeping sounds.
"I need a Regency gown," yelled Elizabeth as she jumped up hurriedly.
"Let them wait," growled Darcy, pulling her back down to the sofa, "we're on strike. After all, . . . " he opened his shirt.
"Mmmm, . . . you've got on your union suit," she finished for him, just before recapturing his lips with her own.
© 2002 Copyright held by the author.