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Jitters

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Title: Jitters
Fandom: Murphy Brown
Author: vegawriters
Rating: Gen
Characters: Murphy Brown
Pairing: Hints of Jake/Murphy
Timeframe: Pilot
Disclaimer: No one’s made money off of this thing for a while, and Warner Bros really needs to get on getting the episodes streaming somewhere. But, until they do, and until season 11, I’m happy to make no money myself off of this. Unless Diane English is looking for someone to write Murphy’s novel. I’ll do it, Diane. I swear.

Summary: So really, what would it matter if she drove to the store, bought a bottle of Jack, and drank until her liver gave out? She’d be one more washout. Paula and Jane and Katie would go on just fine without her.

What no one knew was that she got to work early. She had a reputation to maintain, had a story to tell. Everyone planned on her being fifteen minutes late, cranky, and needing at least one more cup of coffee. Well, that much was true. She thought she’d need less coffee when she no longer shook from lack of scotch and nicotine, but the driving need for caffeine in her system remained. It was a soothing reality. She’d stopped at her favorite coffee place and had a cup on the way in. And then took one for the road. The garage was quiet and she found a spot in the back, far from her assigned one next to the elevators, and sat, staring at the wall and watching steam rise.

What if she couldn’t do it anymore? What if the booze had been the spark? What if she’d lost everything that made her “Murphy Brown” while sitting in that room at Betty Ford? Her fingers itched for a cigarette. Her lips formed, on their own accord, the kiss she’d always made when sipping a really good scotch.

Murphy Brown.

She took a sip of coffee.

Replaced by a former Miss America (who won by default). Younger. Thinner. Not a drunk. Non-controversial. Could get into the White House if the network asked. In a month, she’d learned that the news world could get on without her. So really, what would it matter if she drove to the store, bought a bottle of Jack, and drank until her liver gave out? She’d be one more washout. Paula and Jane and Katie would go on just fine without her.

One breath. Two. Three. One breath at a time. She could do this. She could march upstairs, toss her hair over her shoulder, smile at Frank, wink at Lisa, and she’d be fine. She had a list of stories ready to research and no one expected her to land Bobby Powell on her first day back. No one expected her to be …

Murphy Brown.

What if she couldn’t go toe to toe with Kissinger anymore? What if the Secretary ignored her calls? She’d been out of the game long enough for things to move on. She’d be assigned to smaller and smaller pieces. Then the network would make some “cuts.” And she’d end up assigned to CNN’s foreign legion all over again. They’d give her a job out of pity, but her own show would be a joke? Forget Emmy winning specials. Forget 60 share interviews.

She could always quit. Track Jake down in whatever jungle he was hiding in and maybe even write a book about the revolutionary cause. Follow him around for a while. That’s what they’d fought about that last day. He’d wanted her to come with him, she’d just been offered a job she couldn’t turn down. She’d stood at the window of her tiny studio apartment and watched him walk away and now, all she wanted was to find him. Hey, baby, she’d say after they were recovering from whatever round of sex olympics they’d indulged in, how about I try it here with you for a while.

Because 20 years meant nothing changed, right?

She pressed her head back into the seat behind her, trying to find her nerves again. Blue suit, loose blouse. Not too dressy but clear-eyed professional. Sensible pumps. She’d bought a new briefcase. Hair styled to plastic perfection.

At times she missed the sixties.

NPR was droning on about the political climate and Bobby Powell. She tuned out the staid, calm voices, focusing on the letter in her lap from Linda. You’ll be fine, kid.

Two breaths. Another. Another.

Ticking ever closer to 10:00.

The garage was filling up and she couldn’t hide from everyone for much longer, so she turned the key in the Porsche, backed out of the spot, and drove to her familiar space. Her eyes lingered on the nameplate - Reserved for Murphy Brown. For how long? Who had taken that space while she’d been gone? Frank, probably. Nothing was reserved. Not really.

One breath. Two more. In and out.

She turned off the car, stepped out, grabbed her briefcase, and put on the biggest smile she could find in her energy reserves. No one had to know how terrified she was. No one needed to see the butterflies. She didn’t need a drink to get through the morning. She didn’t need a cigarette. She was here. Home with her family.

She could do this.

The routine returned. Stop at the newstand. Grab her copy of the Times and the Post. Slip them into her bag. Cross the lobby to the elevator, take a breath. Step on.

She could do this.

She held her breath until the elevators dinged open. Her eyes took in the banner, her instincts tracked the nerves. How would she be to them? Releasing her breath, she plastered a wide smile onto her face (fake it til you make it), opened her arms, and stepped onto the newsfloor.

“Hello, everyone!” She announced.

Really.

She could do this.