Disclaimer: Daria and associated characters are owned by MTV. This is fan fiction written for entertainment only. No money or other negotiable currency or goods have been exchanged.
Original characters and plot copyright Richard J. Lobinske. 2004.

This is the fourteenth story in the Falling into College series.

Richard Lobinske

Can This Be Spring?

Jane Lane looked between a notebook, her checkbook, and her bank statement. She scribbled some quick math, scratched her head, and sighed. "No spring break in Daytona Beach this year. Oh, well. I knew it was a long shot." She tore the page from the notebook, wadded it, and threw it over her shoulder. It hit the rim of a trash can before dropping to the floor.

Jane's roommate, CC, looked over from her worktable. She blew her dark blue hair away from her small, oblong-framed glasses. "Looks like the WNBA isn't going to come a'courtin' for you."

Jane looked at the paper, and then at CC. "What are your great plans for spring break?"

"Stay in town. I'll be able to work full-time. One nice thing about Boston is that it doesn't empty during spring break like a college town. I can really use the extra tips."

Jane chuckled. "And the men left in town probably tip more than college students."

"You got that right."

Jane abruptly snickered and began to rapidly sketch. CC walked over to look over Jane's shoulder. "When you get that look..."

"So my Muse is a twisted little cruller."

"Hey, that looks like your friend, Daria."

"She once told me about joking to a bunch of gullible bridesmaids at her cousin's wedding that she was working the same job."

"Bet her boyfriend would like to see that picture."

"I bet he would, too."

"Speaking of boyfriends, I still need to thank her for setting you up with Al."

"I'll let her know. She still feels kind of bad that things didn't work between us."

"So it flopped. If she hadn't set you two up, you wouldn't have palmed him off on me."

"I'm sure that makes him feel so secure."

"He just chalks it up to the out-of-round wheels of fate turning...on a bent axle."

Jane scratched her temple. "That fits him so well. No wonder you two get along."

"Thanks, flattery will still get you brownie points."

"Can I have the brownies instead?"

And, I really appreciate that he doesn't get jealous of me being an exotic dancer."

"I can see where that would make some guys flaky."

"Plus some roommates. Still sorry I waited so long to tell you." CC thought of the three roommates she had gone through in the fall. One was a radical feminist who thought she was degrading myself, one kept wanting CC to get together with her and her boyfriend, and the last was paranoid that some stalker would follow her home. "Kind of got a little gun-shy."

"Don't worry. Like I can complain? We do what we need to." Jane thought of spending the previous fall as a teaching assistant at much-hated Lawndale High, and having to play nice with Principal Li.

"Anyway, back to our original subject. Since going to Daytona is out for you this year, what are your plans for next week?"

"I guess bum around here. Do some paintings, annoy Daria, and annoy you."

"Your friend's not going anywhere?"

"Nope. Said this will be the first chance she will have to play tourist in Boston."

"Oh, boy. Seeing Boston during the early mud season."

Jane grinned. "I think I may have an idea."


"Indoor beach party. We recruit Nell and Mary next door, so we don't have any fights over the bathroom. Paint some drop cloths to look like a beach, spread them in the rooms and hall. Add a few lounge chairs. Potted palms. Everyone wears swimsuits. Instant beach, without the sand in your crotch."

"I like it, count me in."

Jane scrutinized CC. "Remember, swimsuits, not G-strings."


Jane hopped up and headed through the door to the bathroom shared with the next dorm room. She passed through and knocked on the other door, waited a moment and opened it. Nell Girard looked up from her lower bunk and Mary Kelsey from her work bench.

Jane looked between the two. "You guys doing anything next week?"

Nell said, "Not much, I'm tapped. Sprang for a new airbrush last week. I'll probably play with that."

Mary shook her head. "My folks decided to use the condo next week, so my plans are screwed. Bet they did it just to keep me from using it. What'd you have in mind?"

"You two team up with CC and me for an indoor beach party sometime next week. Stage it between the rooms and the hall out front. Drop cloth sand, tacky props, swimwear, a little Caribbean music."

"Sounds like fun, and no getting my crutches stuck in the sand." Nell replied.

Mary nodded in agreement. "A spring break pity party. That might just hit the spot."

Daria Morgendorffer stood on the cold sidewalk, dubiously looking at a well-worn door. CC said this would be safe, not to worry. You don't need to have Michael with, besides, you don't really want to know yet how much he can be distracted. You can do this. Daria pushed the door open to the entry foyer. Inside, two very large men flanked the opposite door. The one to the left, with the shaved head, matched CC's description of Karl. Daria approached and looked up, realizing he was almost a foot and a half taller. "Um...Karl?"


"Uh...CC called and asked me to come by and meet her after work. Said...she would let you know."

"Hmm. Cute redhead with glasses, you must be Daria."

Daria lightly blushed in surprise. Cute? She allowed herself a brief smile at the compliment. "Oh, yes. I'm Daria."

He looked at his watch. "Follow me; she should be in the dressing room."

Staying close, she followed him along the back and side walls of the club. She kept her eyes fixed on his back and not on the rest of the club. Releasing her breath, she was relieved to find the dressing room door.

Karl spoke into a wall mounted intercom. "CC's guest is here."

The door opened slightly, Daria nodded thanks to Karl and she entered. Daria was relieved to find an almost fully-clothed CC waiting.

CC pulled on some winter overboots and said, "Thanks for coming over. I hope this place isn't too embarrassing for you."

"I would be lying if I said I was comfortable, but you said you wanted to talk about Jane's birthday."

"It was the most secure place I could think of to plot."

"Since her birthday is next Monday, I'll wager you want to sneak something into that party she's planning for Friday."

"That's right."

"I know part of her motivation for this party is to drag me to it, since I will feel obligated to attend. Turning the tables for a birthday bash would only be fair. What's your plan?"

"I would appreciate it if you can take care of the cake, and any associated supplies you may feel are...appropriate."

"Will I retain creative control?"

"You know her better than I do, I will defer to your wisdom."

"I've been waiting three years for this."

Clad in a robe after her trip to the shower, Karen Myerson entered the dorm room. She looked in surprise at her roommate, Daria, already dressed in a blue, one-piece swimsuit. "You look nice in that."

"Thanks." Daria pulled on pair of pants.

Karen removed a yellow and white one-piece swimsuit from her dresser. "Hell, I hope this thing still fits."

Daria pulled on a sweater. "Well, if it doesn't, I'm sure we can run by a mall to find a new one."

"With our two pet Y chromosomes in tow? Not a chance. I'll go by myself."

"Better hurry, the RA desk called that yours is on his way up."

Karen was still changing when a knock was heard on the door. Daria went to the door and looked through the peephole. She smiled and called through the door. "Derek, you'll have to wait until Karen's dressed."

Derek's voiced called through the door, "Ah...no peepshow?"

"Sure, and then we gouge your eyes out with a grapefruit spoon."

"Hmm. In that case, I think I'll wait."

Derek Adler unbuttoned his 1970's era army winter overcoat and leaned back against the wall. After a minute, he noticed a red-headed man in a camouflage jacket exit the elevator and walk toward him. "Hey, Michael."

Michael Fulton said, "Evening, Derek. We're waiting?"


"That's odd."

"Karen is getting dressed; I bet she ran late at work. They've been shorthanded lately with flu season in full force."


Derek chuckled slightly. "Guess there's a first time for everything."

Michael joined the laugh. "Like neither of us has been late before."

Derek moved his hand to his eyebrow in a salute. "Here's to unconventional ladies."

"And the lucky gits who date them."

The room door opened to reveal Daria and Karen dressed to face the late winter chill. Daria, holding a paper bag, turned to Karen. "Looks like they can behave unattended."

Karen looked sideways at the two young men. "We need to get each a cookie."

Derek put his arm around Karen. "Peanut butter?"

She rolled her eyes. "If you insist. Though I reserve the right to withhold it until you drop me off tonight. That is, unless you don't want me to kiss your peanut butter breath."

Derek kissed her. "Hmmm. Cookie later, definitely."

Daria took Michael's hand. "So, what kind of cookie should I find for you?"

Michael placed his free hand on her shoulder and drew her into a kiss. "Can I hold off and trade it in for forgiveness the next time I put my foot in my mouth?"

Daria returned the kiss. "I'll keep that in mind. Now, let's go down and wait for the cab. I'm not going to try to get to the bakery on the bus, and then carry it to BFAC."

Michael looked around. "Four is going to be a tight fit in a cab."

Karen looked at Daria. "You're small; you can sit in his lap."

Michael smiled. Daria looked at him, and then glared at Karen. "You're giving him ideas. Besides, I already thought of that. I called a company that uses minivans: room enough for all four, plus the cake and goodies."

With a look of mild disappointment, Michael said, "Well, then. We better get going."

Jane stood near the elevator door in a red and black two-piece bikini and suspiciously watched Daria emerging. "Okay, Missy. Just what's in that box...?"

"Your worst nightmare." Daria moved to the nearby hall in front of Jane's dorm room. Michael, Karen and Derek followed, a little wet from the late-winter storm beginning outside. Besides Jane, CC, Mary and Nell milled around with several other BFAC students that Daria didn't recognize, all dressed in swimwear. The floor was covered with muslin drop cloths, which looked like beach sand with bits of seaweed, small crabs and other assorted beach-like decorations painted on. Six lounge chairs were scattered around, several plastic potted palms, and a table covered with munchies. Daria set the box on the table. Michael set a paper bag down under the table. Daria asked, "Where do we change?"

Jane pointed to her room. "There and the bathroom, according to any modesty standards you bring with you."

The four new arrivals walked into Jane and CC's room. Daria spoke, "Okay guys, don't get any ideas, Karen and I have our swimsuits on under the street clothes." Cautiously, she began to remove her shirt.

Derek shrugged, "Looks like we all had the same idea."

Karen's suit did fit, the yellow and white pattern worked well and the low-cut back was a surprise. Derek wore cutoff cargo pants. He smiled at Karen. "Well worth the wait."

Michael stood in green shorts, staring at Daria like an inmate caught in a searchlight. When she looked uncomfortable, he shook his head. "Sorry, I..." He looked at the floor.

Daria put her hands on his waist and looked into his face. After calming herself, she said, "Like what you see?"

He nodded. Daria softly kissed him and whispered, "Thank you."

The four exited the room, and Daria went straight to the box she had left on the table. The cake within was decorated with four individual line drawings of Jane, done in an Andy Warhol style of assorted, bright colors. Daria pulled a small lighter from the paper bag and lit nineteen candles on the cake. Michael removed a small CD player from the bag. Daria turned to him and nodded, "Now."

Michael pushed the play button, starting a recording of Mystik Spiral playing the song Jane's brother, Trent, had written for her birthday a couple years earlier.

Little sister, little sister you came into my life like a twister.
What can I get you that you haven't taken?
What can I get you that hasn't been killed by corruption and greed?
What can I get you that isn't tie-dyed or like what you already have,
or plastic or not alive or so sad?

Does anybody know, does anybody know why we're here?
Does anybody know, does anybody know why we're here?
Does anybody know, does anybody know why we're here?

Daria smirked at Jane. "I thought you deserved not to hear my singing. Now blow out the stupid candles."

Jane's eyes tried to pierce Daria. "You know my opinion of birthday parties."

Daria's eyes pierced back, a slim smile on her lips. "You threw the party, besides, I can't take all the blame, I did get recruited by CC, who also came up with the cake design, and Trent made the CD."

"I'll add them to the list."

"You don't get your presents until you deal with the candles."

Jane's eyes widened and she smiled. "Presents?" She quickly blew over the candles to extinguish them.

Wearing a blue bikini with a reptile-scale print, CC approached. ""Daria, I thought you said Jane's brother liked her. That was awful."

Daria turned in time to notice CC's wink. She smirked back. "Of course it was; that's classic Mystik Spiral."

Jane laughed. "CC, why do you think I don't run screaming in fear from your horrible singing?"

A lanky young man came up behind CC and wrapped his arms around her shoulders. "Happy birthday, Jane."

Jane nodded to the newcomer. "Thanks, Al." Jane turned to face the general crowd. "Okay, it looks like my best friend, my roommate, and my slacker brother conspired to hijack my party into a birthday party." Jane shuffled her feet. "Um...thanks everyone."

Daria handed Jane a small box. Jane opened it and found a gift certificate to Axel's Piercing Parlor for one naval piercing. Daria smiled. "I figured I owed you one."

Jane raised her eyebrows. "This is getting even for spilling the beans about that to Michael, isn't it?"

"Would I do anything like that?"

"Without hesitation or a hint of remorse."

Daria produced a larger box from the bag. "You know me too well. Now the real one."

Jane accepted the much heavier box and proceeded to unwrap it. Inside was a set of small stone-cutting chisels. Jane looked up and smiled. "Cool! You can never have too many art supplies."

Daria was intrigued. She felt less stressed than she ever had in her life about wearing a revealing, for her, swimsuit. The mixture of her friends from Raft and Jane's acquaintances from BFAC were nonjudgmental and accepting. Most oddly, she was quietly glad that Michael found her appearance pleasing. Parties like this would never be her favorite pastime, but this was the most tolerable one she had ever been to.

Jane's voice could be heard from within a group of three young men. "No shit, I was there! It was a bunch of fake spears sticking out of the base like french fries from a fast food container, with a couple of paper plates stuck on the ends. He kept a straight face through the whole delivery."

A student with platinum blond hair in a pony tail down to the small of his back said, "I saw a write-up about that guy in one of the art magazines. What a goob."

Another with brown hair and mustache chimed in. "No wonder artists get such reputations for selling crap."

The last also had brown hair, but on the left side of his head. "If you can't dazzle them with your brilliance..."

Daria smiled to hear Jane joking about her stay at the Ashfield Art Colony after their junior year of high school. She's always had a hard time talking about that. Good to know that is changing. Daria walked up next to Jane and nodded at the boys. "Joey, Jeffy, Jamie. How are you doing?"

The three men gave Daria an odd look. Jane laughed loudly and went into an imitation of Daria's sister, Quinn. "Mo-om! Daria's trying to ruin my life again."

Daria gave Jane a look of surprise. "That sounded way too real."

Jane smirked. "Hey, between dealing with her an hour a day in study hall and the time we spent together making sure Trent and Lindy didn't end up a train wreck, I got a good idea of how she sounds." Jane upended a glass containing a pale green liquid and a speckling of white salt grains around the rim. "Ahh. My first illegal act as a college student, I feel better now."

"Let me know what the hangover feels like."

"Dammit, that sucks." Nell stood nearby, weight resting on one elbow crutch, the second crutch looped around her arm and a half-spilled glass in that hand. Mary rushed up to grab the glass. Nell waved her away. "I need to figure out how to maneuver at parties if I'm ever to be invited to them. But, thanks."

Mary looked down. "Oops. Didn't mean anything."

Nell shook her head and smiled. "I know. I got a little cranky about wearing half a glass. Damn drinking problem."

Mary laughed. "Let me at least go get something to clean that stuff off your leg before it gets sticky."

"Then you don't think it'll work to stick a single guy to me?"

"Leaving the conversation now." Daria picked up a soda and walked back toward her lounge chair. Michael and Derek were sitting in two nearby chairs, deep in conversation. Karen was at a fourth chair. Daria pulled hers next to Karen. "Jane's fired-up and off to the races. What are our geek boys talking about now?"

"Whether or not the Roman twenty-year army enlistments would be a good idea for a modern army."

Daria rolled her eyes. "You realize that stuff like that is the price we pay for guys that can tolerate us?"

Karen raised her soda can in a toast. "Sure beats the hell out of them talking football."

Daria returned the gesture. "Here, here."

A few minutes later, Al had joined Derek and Michael's conversation. CC leaned against the wall between Daria and Karen. "Doesn't seem to matter which part of the gene pool you grab them from, they'll find some testosterone-laced subject to blather on about."

Daria looked over the more animated conversation between the three men. "Are they still on about Roman enlistments?"

CC shook her head. "Something about Saracen damascus blades versus Japanese katanas."

Daria rubbed her temples. "I had to ask."

Karen looked at CC. "Er...changing the subject. I hope you don't mind my asking, but..."

CC shook her head. "I've gotten over that. I needed steady, good paying work with flexible hours to get through school."

Growing up an army brat, CC couldn't avoid seeing the clubs outside of bases. Using her old dance lessons, so it kind of made sense.

"Isn't it a little dangerous?"

"Where I work has a very strict hands-off policy. Daria met Karl: it is brutally enforced."

"I would die of embarrassment..."

CC chuckled. "It does require a certain mindset. Plus, I just don't let myself see the audience. That gets easier once I remove my glasses."

Daria cocked her head. "Once you remove them?"

CC smirked. "The concept is to draw the process out as you slowly removed each item. You can do some interesting things with a pair of glasses. I could show you."

Blushing, Daria said, "Um...no thanks."

"I'll leave the offer open."

Karen inquired, "How...what do your parents think about what you do?"

CC turned and looked a little more serious. "My dad's not entirely happy about it, but he accepts that I made the decision."

"What about your mom?"

CC's eyes lowered. "Um...she died nine years ago."

"Damn. Me and my big mouth, I'm sorry."

"No big, you couldn't know."

Seeking a little respite from the party, Daria went into Jane's room. Still not totally the party girl, eh Morgendorffer? She looked at the freezing rain pounding against the window, and realized she couldn't see across the street. After spotting CC's portable television, she turned it on to find a news announcer saying, "...winter storm is stronger than expected, with sustained winds of forty to fifty miles per hour and heavy, freezing rain. Emergency management officials are strongly recommending Boston residents avoid travel until the storm passes tomorrow morning. Due to hazardous road conditions, city bus service has been suspended. More updates as they become available."

Daria went out to the small crowd and spoke loudly. "Hey, we have a bit of a problem here."

Everyone turned to look at her. Daria continued. "Well, those of us that don't live at BFAC do. The storm out there has the streets closed down. We're stuck until it passes tomorrow morning."

Jane looked around, slightly unsteady. "You can use the lounge chairs. Scrounging up some sheets and blankets shouldn't be a problem. So, don't worry."

CC put her arms around Al's waist. "I don't mind sharing my bunk." Quickly, she added, "Don't worry, we won't do anything. I'm not that much of an exhibitionist."

Jane rubbed her hands together. "That makes it easy then, one pair for Daria and Michael, another for Karen and Derek. We can fit them in here, just be a little tight."

Daria scanned the room and mentally calculated the dimensions. "Only if you put the lounge chairs next to each other."

"Jane clapped a hand on Daria's shoulder. "Hey, it'll finally be your chance to sleep with Michael."

Daria shook her head at Jane's remark. "Funny. Uh, you're only going to fit two in each room. Mary, Nell, do you have a problem with guests?"

Nell shook her head. "Not as long as they don't get between me and the bathroom."

Mary shrugged. "I suppose not. If I can share a bathroom with Jane and CC, I can deal with anybody."

CC shot her a look. "Hey, we haven't violated the Clean Air Act in there."

"Just because I like my lavender body wash."

"Do you have to use it by the metric ton?"

"Hrumph. Some people just don't have any taste."

Jane leaned over and whispered to Daria and Michael. "Trust me; you want to get in there before she hits the shower."

Michael leaned over. 'Thanks for the tip."

The party dwindled as sheets, blankets and pillows were located for the five orphaned Raft students. CC ran downstairs to the vending machines, returning with five toothbrushes. By about 2 AM, the party was over and cleaned up. Daria stood next to the pair of lounge chairs, flattened like beds and shoehorned into Jane's room. Mismatched sheets and blankets were spread on each. She looked down at the black v-neck shirt and grey shorts she wore. "Thanks for letting me borrow something to sleep in, Jane."

Jane squeezed past toward her upper bunk. "Too bad I didn't bring Grandma's nightgown with."

Daria smiled as she remembered being embarrassed to be seen in it by Trent. "Yeah, too bad."

Jane did a double-take at Daria. "What?"


"You...Oh, never mind."

Daria moved close to Jane and quietly said, "Jane, are you comfortable with Michael and I here? With CC and Al here, too?"

"Why not? It's not like I'm going to get a free show out of any of you guys."

"I meant, that you will be...by yourself."

Jane smiled and shook her head. "Daria, I'm fine. I had a great time." She chuckled. "Now don't hit me, but I kind of did feel like Quinn tonight."

"Those three guys..."

"Yeah. It was nice, and great for the old ego."

Daria stared at Jane.

"Trust me, they will not turn into something like that trio of morons that plagued your sister. They each have way too big of an ego to put up with the way Quinn used to act. They like me, and want to see me as a friend. I want that, too."

"Okay, you had me worried for a second."

"Share and enjoy."

Daria sighed. "Fine, my turn."

"I caught CC earlier. Now it's your turn. Thanks for the birthday bit. Sometimes, it is good that you don't listen to your friends very well."

"When did I start?"

"Argh. Can't you take a compliment?"

"Sorry. I was happy to help with doing something for your birthday, and I'm glad you had a good time."

CC entered the room, and looked around. "To hell with it." She crawled across the chairs instead of trying to fit around the edge. Al followed behind her. They both sat on the edge of CC's lower bunk.

Michael was the last to enter. Like Al, he was still wearing the same shorts he had on earlier. Jane crawled up into her bunk. She called over, "Get the light, will you?"

Daria looked around the nearby furnishings and removed her glasses. She placed them on a dresser and carefully moved to one of the chairs. Michael turned off the light and moved to the remaining chair. He removed his glasses and started to reach for a nonexistent nightstand. "Dammit." He felt his way to the dresser and set his next to Daria's before returning.

Daria said, "If anyone even tries to start a 'Good night John-Boy' routine, they die."

Jane turned on her radio to a low volume to drown out any whispered conversations.

Daria pulled the sheet over her and looked up at the ceiling. Nervously, she was aware of Michael settling in beside her. After a moment, she felt his right hand softly rest on her stomach. She turned her head to dimly see his face maybe six inches away. Almost without thought, she moved her left hand up to her stomach to hold his.

Michael whispered, "I was hoping you wouldn't mind."

Daria's whispered response was, "Nervous about, yes. Mind, no."

"I promise to behave."

"I know you will. I...I'm...this...making a big leap of trust. I've never let somebody get this close. Letting my guard down completely to sleep."

"You've fallen asleep on my shoulder before, and when I stayed with you when you had that cold."

"That was me succumbing to fatigue and...how comfortable I feel around you. This is different."

"Because you're doing this intentionally."

"Um. Right."

"At least I'll know I didn't bore you this time."

Daria gently laughed. "Good one. Hmm. I notice a small twitch in your hand."

"Okay, so I'm nervous, too."

"I promise to behave."

"I know you will, too. It's...look, if...after I fall asleep, my hand drifts anywhere when...just move it away...please?"

"Deal. Do you move about a lot in your sleep?"

"Uh...no...not often...but..."


"Sometimes...crap..." Michael was silently relieved the darkness hid his blush. "Sometimes...I dream..."

"Dreaming is a natural consequence of REM sleep."

"I dream about you."

Feeling weird and flattered, Daria said, "Oh?"

"I...well...this is embarrassing."

"Please, don't tell me I'm wearing spandex in your dreams."


"Or black leather."

"N...no. Normal clothes, usually."

Daria released her breath. "Good." She moved closer and kissed him. A thought crossed her mind and she narrowed her eyes. "Usually?"

Michael closed his eyes in grim anticipation. Can't keep your big mouth shut. Hope you like the floor. "Can I trade in that cookie now?"

"That was only if you put your foot in..." Daria's mind began to link his words. "...my hand drifts anywhere when...I dream about you...Normal clothes, usually." Her eyes popped open wide and she felt the warmth of a deep flush on her face. "You dream about..."

Michael could feel Daria tense up immensely. "Shoot. I'm sorry. Look, I'll slide over and try to separate the chairs." He started to raise his hand. Daria lightly held it in place, and raised her right hand, placing it on his outstretched arm.

She looked directly into his eyes. "You...you don't plan on acting on these dreams any time soon?"

"N...no. But, I can't help what I dream..."

Gulping back her own nervousness, Daria shushed him. "You are an eighteen year-old male with what I presume is something like a normal libido. It..." Daria took a deep breath to calm down. "...it is logical you mind would use...me in such dreams."

Michael slowly nodded.

"I've spent my whole life avoiding being thought of as a sex object in any way."

"I know you don't want to be thought of like that...that is not...I...aw...crap."

"I will deny ever saying this. I appreciated you liking me in the swimsuit. I'm kind of...flattered...about your dreams."

Michael sighed in relief.

Daria continued with a little sternness in her voice, "But, I trust you to not act on them."

"I understand."

"Good, now please stay." She squeezed his hand.

Michael nudged forward and kissed her. "Good night."

"Good night. I hope you don't snore."

"Not that I'm aware of."

"Good, that would get you thrown on the floor."

Michael softly laughed and closed his eyes.

Jane moaned at the developing headache. She reached over and turned off the radio. Shut up you evil bastard. She slid down from the bed to the floor. CC and Al were cuddled closely together in her bed. Jane moved carefully past the chairs supporting Daria and Michael. Daria was asleep on her back, as usual. Michael on his side, with one arm draped across her, Daria's hand held over his wrist. That arm is resting a little high. If Daria were awake, she would probably freak.

Jane continued quietly past them to the bathroom. She gulped down some aspirin and a large glass of water. Returning to the room, she smiled as she passed Daria again. Happiness still looks good on you. Michael muttered something incomprehensible and smiled. Jane grinned wider and climbed into her bed. She looked down at her friend and quietly said, "I'm glad you found someone again. I hope you understand that I will be happier acting more Quinn-like for a while, enjoying light, fun dates with the guys around here. Nothing serious. I want to paint, dance and be a little irresponsible. Real life is going to be staring us in the face way too soon. I had to grow up too fast in Lawndale. I want to play, just a little while longer."

Daylight illuminated the room as Daria awoke with a start to realize that a hand was resting on her breast. Her tension lessened as she noticed her hand held the other. She turned her head to see Michael asleep beside her, his face slightly distorted by the pillow. Near his open mouth was what looked like a small spot of drool on the pillow. Nobody's perfect.

She lightly smiled and watched him for a few minutes. Gently, she removed his hand and crawled off the chair. After locating her glasses and clothes, she walked to the bathroom. "Jane, I really envy you having a bathroom next door, instead of a hundred feet down the hall."

Dressed and feeling less stiff, she navigated to the window. The view across the street was impressive: the BFAC campus glittering under a shell of ice in the morning sunlight. Traffic was moving on the streets. "Good, we can get home now." She turned and leaned back against the window and looked at the sleepers in the room. "What a difference from Lawndale and Highland. Quinn was right a year ago, I have found good friends in college."

A soft knock on the door woke up Michael. He stumbled to the door without his glasses and answered.

Karen and Derek were at the door, already dressed. Karen said, "I know it's early, but I've got to get to the zoo. We'll grab some breakfast at a pancake house on the way over to Raft. I can do a quick change and still be at work on time."

Daria folded the chairs to clear a better walkway to the door. "Is it that late already? Have a good day."

"Later, Daria, Michael."

After the door closed, Daria put her arms around Michael's neck and pulled him down for a soft kiss. "Good morning. Why don't we get you dressed so we can get going? I'm not waiting until this afternoon for Jane to wake up. We can leave her a note."

"No problem." Michael grabbed his glasses and moved to the bathroom. A few minutes later, he returned and quickly pulled his winter clothes over his shorts.

While waiting, Daria wrote out a note and left it on Jane's work desk. She then helped Michael fold the chairs and bed linens. Complete, they quietly left the room and proceeded to wait for the elevator. Michael held Daria close. "I hope you didn't have to move my hand any last night."

Daria smiled and looked up into his eyes. "Not at all, your hands didn't go anywhere I didn't want them."

Lyrics for Little Sister from Pierce Me by Neena Beber

Thanks to renfield1969, Mahna Mahna, Kristen Bealer, Mike Nassour, Isa Yo-Jo, ipswichfan, Ranger Thorne, milderbeast, Decelaraptor, and Steven Galloway of PPMB for the usual round of comments, jokes, suggestions and kicks in the rear.

Thanks to ipswichfan and Kristen Bealer for beta reading.

September 2004. After having the eyes of hurricanes Charlie, Frances and Jeanne pass within 50-90 miles of my house, I knew I just had to work a storm in somewhere.
Revised February 2005