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. 2005.
This is the twenty-sixth story in the Falling into College series.
Boston Baked Band
The women's dressing room at the Raft Theater was built to handle far more than the four student actresses, one makeup artist, and one costume mistress currently occupying it. Survey of Theater class's summer play, Henry V, was scheduled to begin a Sunday afternoon full dress rehearsal in less than an hour.
Three women were already in costumes and applying makeup. Wendy Anderson was a pale brunette dressed in the simple, functional peasant wear of Nell Quickly. Sandy Devers had blond hair set into two long braids and wore a pale blue gown for her role as Alice. One older, non-traditional student, Janice Tolen, was in the elaborate costume of Queen Isabel.
The tall, blond-haired costume mistress, Isabelle, finished fastening the back of the gown worn by the fourth actress. She said, "Okay, turn around."
She stepped back and examined Daria Morgendorffer, who was dressed in a quartered blue and yellow cotehardie. She crossed her arms in satisfaction and said, "Damn, I love it when a costume comes together properly. I told Professor Paine that this would be best for your build."
Daria turned and looked at the full length mirror in the dressing room. The gown closely fit her from the hips up to the scooped neck. The form-fitted sleeves were held closed with a series of silver buttons from just below the elbow to the wrist. A white cloth band went around each bicep, and a strip fell to a point just at wrist level. Just below a girdle of silver roundels set low on her hips, the skirt flared out smoothly. My God, is that me?
The careful cut and close fit of the garment showed off her slender, petite shape in a way that Daria wasn't used to.
Sandy looked over from her makeup chair. "Wow, Daria. You look gorgeous in that."
Wendy set down an eyebrow pencil and gave a brief wolf-whistle. "Damn, girl. If I didn't know you had a boyfriend, I'd ask you out."
Daria felt a strong pang of her old anxiety about looking too attractive. She closed her eyes, took a deep breath, and slowly released. Okay, that's better.
Daria opened them just in time to avoid a thrown wad of tissue from Wendy, who followed by saying, "You vixen! Don't tease me like that."
Daria suddenly blushed to realize what her deep breathing must have looked like. "Um...sorry."
Wendy went back to applying her makeup and continued talking. "Oh, well. If you got it, flaunt it. I bet that guy of yours would steal a plane to see you do that. I certainly wouldn't mind an encore performance."
Janice said in a motherly voice, "Wendy, you're just awful. Daria, you look very pretty."
Isabelle brushed her hands together. "Can I sew, or what?"
Toni waved at Daria. "Okay, precious. Now that your ego's got its rocks off, get over here so we can get you in some makeup."
Daria inwardly sighed and sat in front of the intensely dark-skinned makeup artist. Toni removed Daria's glasses and studied her face. "You've got nice skin, and such tiny pores. What do you use on it?"
"You don't normally wear make-up, do you?"
"Don't see a need."
"Whatever. Personally, I think you would look great with a faint blush, but what do I know?"
"I probably would, but that would require effort."
Toni applied the base pancake with deft strokes of a sponge. "You're not going to need that much. Accent your cheeks, a little color to your lips, and lighten your eye sockets so you don't look like a zombie."
"That would be a turnoff for Harry, wouldn't it?"
"Be careful when you put your glasses back on, until you're ready to get out of makeup. You might smudge the makeup on your nose and cheeks. Plus, you don't want to clean make-up off of them. I can touch things up if needed."
"I'll leave them off. No offense, but the less time I spend under the sponge, the better."
Professor Paine stood several rows back in the auditorium and spoke to the cast and crew assembled on stage. "Okay, remember people, patience. The tech dress went super yesterday, so we're going for a full performance tonight. If everything goes the way it should, we'll take tomorrow off for a little R and R before the last two dress rehearsals on Tuesday and Wednesday. Reviewers on Wednesday night, and opening on Thursday. Places, everyone."
The assembled students began to disperse to their respective start positions. Professor Paine said, "Oh, one more thing. I'll have a special treat for the cast party."
Daria and Sandy walked offstage to the green room, with Sandy helping to make sure Daria didn't walk into anything. Inside, Daria sat down stiffly on a sofa and struggled to adjust the waist of her costume.
Sandy sat with her legs folded under her. "You okay?"
Frowning, Daria said, "I had to suck in my stomach to fit. It's a little uncomfortable."
"Price you pay."
Sandy laughed. "You crack me up at times. You are hands down the cutest girl in the cast, and you haven't once tried to show off about it. That's so cool."
Sandy picked up a magazine and started leafing through it. "The bummer about small parts is the waiting."
Daria pulled a textbook from her backpack on the floor next to the sofa. "Gives me time to study, anyway." She carefully adjusted the book position to compensate for her lack of glasses.
Sandy sat beside Daria and shook her head. "God, you are such a bookworm."
"Hey, this play has been eating up so much of my evenings the last two weeks, I don't have a choice. Between work and class, I'm booked almost solid during the day."
"You are coming to the cast party, aren't you?"
"Yes, I promised I would. I'm dragging along my roommate, Jane, and her friend, CC. Hopefully to deflect some of the male hormones."
Sandy held her hands prayer-like. "Thank you. As much as I've enjoyed being the only available female in the cast, enough is enough."
"I noticed some of your turndowns were getting a little brutal."
"Be glad you have a boyfriend built like a bulldozer."
Daria slightly averted her gaze.
Sandy craned her head toward Daria. Narrowing her eyes, she said in mild annoyance, "He's not. You little..."
Daria looked back, slightly embarrassed. "I'm sorry, but it seemed to be the best way to get these guys to quit hitting on me. Fear seemed to work best." She looked toward the stage. "For most of them."
"You could have told them you were a lesbian, like Wendy."
"Maybe you hadn't noticed, but some have still been hitting on her."
"Hmmm. You're right, and they usually ask if she has a friend to join in. But, she does have some good put downs to use. And, I almost died when Janice slapped Arnie."
Daria shook her head and motioned to some of the male cast members milling around the green room. "Don't any of them have women in their lives?"
"Some of them, probably. I bet most are looking for some hot backstage romance with one of those wild theater trash chicks."
"Then, it looks like they're just SOL, aren't they."
Sandy blushed and smiled. "Well, not all of them."
After rehearsal, Daria pulled a note from under her car window. After a brief look, crumpled it and tossed it into a nearby trash can.
She shook her head in disgust and went home to the apartment she shared with Jane Lane. There, she found a message from Jane that she'd gone for a run with someone from Boston College. "Jane, you are turning into the boy magnet, aren't you?"
Daria went into the kitchen to fix dinner. Partway through frying some chicken breast strips, the phone rang and she answered, "Hello."
Trent Lane said, "Hey, Daria. How're you doing?"
"Pretty good. Jane's not in right now; what do you need me to tell her?"
"The band will be in Boston for a gig, next Sunday."
"Sunday? Isn't that a little unusual?"
"Yeah, but a gig's a gig."
"True. Let me guess: you need a place to crash."
"Well, it wouldn't hurt. This one isn't paying as much cash as the last."
Daria thought of all four members of Mystik Spiral trying to sleep in George, the big, black SUV Trent had recently purchased after the demise of Max's old unreliable van, the Tank. "Yes, you can stay here. I'll warn Jane."
"So, where are you playing?"
"A cast party for the Raft Theater department. I'm sure I can get all of you in with us."
"Did you say cast party?"
"Yeah. Get this; they threw in free tickets to the show to make up for some of the pay."
Dressed in an old blue shirt and white shorts, Daria watched television in their sparsely appointed living room. In addition to the original set of folding camp chairs, Daria had added a folding lounge chair, which she currently occupied. A plate with her dinner was balanced on her lap and a can of Ultra Cola was in the cup holder in the right arm of the chair.
From the TV came, "How did simulated insects get away and infect an entire university's network? Computer bugs, the next generation. Next, on Sick, Sad World."
Jane entered, wiping sweat from her face with a small towel. "How was rehearsal?"
Daria looked over her shoulder. "Good. We have tomorrow off."
"Trent called. The band will be playing at the cast party, next Sunday."
"Let me guess: they'll be staying here."
"Do you really want to expose the streets of Boston to them?"
"It wouldn't be a pretty sight."
"How was your running partner?"
"Eh, he turned out to be a sprinter. No endurance."
"That really could be taken in a number of ways."
"Like it was intended."
Showered and fed, Jane removed the cover from her current project, a large portrait of Daria's cousin, Erin, and her husband, Brian. Daria stood to the side with her arms folded. "I'm still wondering what Grandma Tess is up to with this."
Jane chewed on the end of a brush while mentally working up a color mix for Erin's hair. "Daria, I'll let you worry about the conspiracies. This commission is covering my rent and tuition for the semester."
Daria nodded. "Which I'm well aware of, since you can afford for us to evenly split the rent instead of me covering two-thirds. That's what bothers me. Grandma is putting a lot of money into this--not that you aren't earning it--and those two don't exactly have the most stable marriage."
"Daria, I know you get concerned about these things, but I don't want to look too close. This is a real windfall for me. I'm able to put away a lot of my pay from the Children's Hospital for fall." Jane exhaled and looked at her friend. "This is the first time in my life I've had some financial security. I don't want to risk anything."
"Jane, I'm not asking you to risk anything. I'm just worried about you getting hit by some of the shrapnel when whatever happens, happens."
"Speaking of shrapnel, I just thought of something. Are your parents coming up to see the show? Having them share the place with the band could be weird."
Jane looked in surprise. "I know it's a long drive, but..." Jane pursed her lips and glared. "You haven't said a word to them, have you?"
After leaning back against the window sill and bracing her hands against it, Daria said, "I did tell them. This time, I wanted them to see it. Lately, Mom has really been pushing herself harder than usual and can't make it. But, the department will be taping the show, so I'm going to send them a copy."
"I'm really surprised Helen doesn't want to see you."
"She does, but has been working extra to take off the week before Quinn leaves for college. Adding a twelve-hour round trip to her weekend would be too much."
"What's up her bonnet? Wasn't she enough of a workaholic?"
"She's been with the firm for almost four years. She was promised a fast track review for partnership and expects it any time now. Finally being a partner means a lot to her. I can see that."
"What about Jake?"
"I don't think Dad wants to be here without Mom."
"She put in a request for two consecutive days off so she can come up on one day to see the show, stay overnight, and go home the next. She's waiting to see which days were scheduled at her job."
"At least somebody gets to see you."
"Yeah. Wait, I thought you were coming?"
"Cool, I rate as somebody now."
"Gotcha. You sending a copy to Michael?"
Daria smiled. "Yes."
"I'll have to make sure I get some good photos of you. Don't forget, Jodie also wants some."
"Jane, I will get even with both of you."
Tired after a long day of work, class and the final dress rehearsal, Daria kicked off her boots into a corner of her room and started her computer. While it booted up, she pulled a burger, fries and soda from a bag and started to eat. She checked her email and said, "Good."
Cashman's scheduled my days off for Sunday and Monday, so I will see the matinee. I hope I can get to your place by noon, if I can read that map you sent. Hey, I'll be in town for the cast party, can you get me an invite?
"This ought to be interesting."
While Daria was reading more emails, Jane poked her head in the room. "Hey, you do still exist."
Daria spun the swivel chair to face Jane. "So it's claimed, though I'm still waiting for confirmation. At least rehearsals are over."
"Nervous about opening tomorrow?"
"Some. I haven't done any real performance on stage since I took dance lessons in Texas. I fell during the last recital."
"Hey, you'll do fine. You did your graduation speech and the honor society speech at Quinn's graduation without too much problem."
"Yeah, but I also wasn't trying to act, or wear clothes as, um, complimentary."
"Yeah, I can't wait to see you in a sexy dress."
"It's not sexy."
"Daria, I looked up how those dresses fit, and I bet you look good."
Daria said, "Even I have to admit, I do."
Jane suppressed a smart comment and simply nodded.
Daria said, "I never would've been able to do this last fall, with the problems I had. But now, I'm almost okay with it."
"You'll do fine. You haven't freaked out yet."
"Yet. The last problem is a leading man who keeps hitting on me, and that I have to kiss on stage."
"Why do I have a feeling he's going to discover your boots at the cast party?"
The next morning, Daria went down the external staircase to grab the newspaper delivered to the vicinity of the bottom step. Uncharacteristically, she kept it closed as she ascended the stairs. She sat at the table and looked at her cereal and coffee. After eating and drinking some, she unrolled the paper and removed the Arts and Entertainment section. A quick scan located the theater reviews, and the one she was after.
Raft University's production of Henry V provides a reasonably pleasant theater experience for the admission price. It's competently produced, if not immensely inspired. The student performances are pretty much a mixed bag. From the scenery-chomping, over-the-top antics of Reginald Newiston as the Dauphin, to the commanding and sure performance of Len Ernst as King Henry.
Daria scanned lightly through much of the review until she reached:
Possibly to make up for how outnumbered they are by the men, the actresses gave enjoyable performances. Wendy Anderson's Quickly was a joy to watch. Alice, played by Sandy Devers, was a properly attentive lady-in-waiting, with an impish, playful side. Darla Morgedorfer's understated Katherine was regal and endearing, and few could doubt why she would be King Harry's 'capital demand'.
"Damn, my name isn't that difficult to spell."
"Says you," Jane grumbled as she leaned against the door frame to the hallway.
"Keep it up, and I'll show you the Moon shining."
"That could be a popular trick at the party, making moonshine come out of..."
"Ugh. Don't finish that thought."
Jane staggered into the kitchen and returned with a large mug of coffee. After a wide yawn, she said, "Hmm. Is that your review?"
Daria handed Jane the section of the paper. "What I was complaining about. Kind of lukewarm."
After reading, Jane folded the top of the paper down and smirked. "Regal and endearing. Damn girl, you can act, if they believe that."
Outside the backstage door, Daria stopped Jane. "Remember, you're here taking personal photos for me. The university PR drones are paranoid about unauthorized imagery. So, at least look like it."
Jane did a quick check on her camera. "No problem. I'm your personal photo hack."
Daria opened the door and motioned Jane in. "Welcome to the unwashed crotch of theater."
"Gee, don't make it sound too glamorous."
Inside the green room, Daria introduced Jane around to several of the cast and crew before saying, "Have a seat. I need to go get into costume and makeup."
"I wanted to watch."
Daria slowly shook her head. "Be back in a little while. I'm sure you can find somebody to amuse you."
After getting into costume, Daria returned to find Jane missing from the green room. Walking carefully without her glasses, she went out into the still-lit backstage. "Ugh. Where did she wander off?"
Daria rubbed the tight fabric around her waist. How do some women do this on a regular basis? A click caught her attention and she turned to see a Jane-like blur lowering a camera.
Jane wolf-whistled at Daria. "The jury's in Kid: you look great."
With rolled eyes, Daria said, "Thanks. No flash?"
Jane patted the camera and said, "High speed film and wide aperture. No need. Jodie's going to love that shot."
"Then, she's going to really love the coronet for my last scene."
"After all the 'princess' comments we made about Quinn, you're the one to get the headwear first."
Daria looked out past the stage toward the sound of gathering people. "I'll admit that this would be a good time for contacts."
Jane's lips curled into a grin. "Did I hear right?"
"Don't get your hopes up. The cost doesn't justify the short-term use."
"So instead, you're going to stumble around half-blind on stage?"
"We've had plenty of practice; my blocking is memorized. I'll be okay as long as the scenery doesn't get moved around. Offstage, the stage manager marked the main trail to stage right with glow tape, and is making sure I have a guide."
"Not that bad. CC was right. Not having your glasses on helps. Between that and the stage lighting, I can't see the audience at all."
"You're taking performing advice from CC? She'll love hearing that."
"Don't you think you should find a seat?"
Jane grinned. "Yeah, make sure I get one in the front row."
Sandy looked at Daria and whispered, "This is it."
The stage manager motioned a countdown with his fingers and pointed at them to cue their entrance.
They both moved up to a walk and began. When projected for the stage, Daria's uniform intonation gave the effect of a carefully enunciated, cultured voice when she said, "Alice, tu as ete en Angleterre, et tu parles bien le langage."
And Sandy replied with a respectful, but playful, "Un peu, madame."
"Je te prie, m'enseignez: il faut que j'apprenne a parler. Comment appelez-vous la main en Anglois?"
"La main? Elle est appelee de hand."
"De hand. Et les doigts?"
"Les doigts? Ma foi, j'oublie les doigts; mais je me souviendrai. Les doigts? Je pense qu'ils sont appeles de fingres; oui, de fingres."
For the last act, Daria appeared with a small brass coronet on her head. The act began with both kings and sizable entourages on stage. Daria spent the first part looking like she was watching the proceedings and exchanging whispered comments with Alice.
In time, Len, the tall, brown-haired actor playing King Henry, said, "Yet leave our cousin Katharine here with us: she is our capital demand, comprised within the fore-rank of our articles."
Janice said as Isabel, "She hath good leave."
Everyone except Daria, Len and Sandy exited the stage.
Len grasped both Daria's hands. "Fair Katharine, and most fair, Will you vouchsafe to teach a soldier terms such as will enter at a lady's ear and plead his love-suit to her gentle heart?"
Daria replied, "Your majesty shall mock at me; I cannot speak your England."
"O fair Katharine, if you will love me soundly with your French heart, I will be glad to hear you confess it brokenly with your English tongue. Do you like me, Kate?"
"Pardonnez-moi, I cannot tell vat is 'like me.'"
"An angel is like you, Kate, and you are like an angel."
"Que dit-il? Que je suis semblable a les anges?"
Sandy moved closer to Len and said, "Oui, vraiment, sauf votre grace, ainsi dit-il."
Len moved Daria's hands up. "I said so, dear Katharine; and I must not blush to affirm it."
To that, Daria said, "O bon Dieu! les langues des hommes sont pleines de tromperies."
Len turned slightly to give appearance of looking at Alice. "What says she, fair one? That the tongues of men are full of deceits?"
Sandy half-smiled and nodded. "Oui, dat de tongues of de mans is be full of deceits: dat is de princess."
Jane met Daria in the green room. "Hey, not bad."
"You look even better with a crown."
"That thing is so uncomfortable. No wonder queens get cranky," Daria said, rubbing her forehead.
Len walked up with his arm around a young woman with medium brown hair that hung to just above her knees. "Great show, Daria. Hey, this is my girlfriend, Mandy. Mandy, this is Daria."
Mandy slightly tightened her grip on Len and said, "Hi."
Daria nodded to her. "Hey."
Len said, "A bunch of us are going out to a club to celebrate opening. Want to come?"
Daria shook her head. "I'm kind of beat. It's almost eleven and I have to go to work in the morning."
"Too bad." He and Mandy turned and left. As they walked away, he half turned and gave Daria a wink. Mandy gave him a disgruntled look.
Jane poked Daria's arm lightly. "Still the party gal, huh? I can also see how unimpressed you are with King Charming."
Continuing to walk to her car, Daria wearily said, "Jane, I'm not kidding. I'm tired and I want to go to sleep. I've seen these people more in the last couple weeks than I've seen you."
"And we all know your compulsive need to meet new people."
Daria yawned widely as she reached her car. "Damn, I am tired."
"I'm okay, want me to drive?"
Daria held her keys out to Jane. "Actually, I wouldn't mind. Thanks."
The landlady answered Daria's ring of the doorbell Saturday morning. "Miss Morgendorffer, is there a problem?"
"No, Mrs. Lyndon. I wanted to let you know we're going to have some guests this weekend. Jane's brother, Trent, and his band will arrive today and stay until Monday morning, and my sister, Quinn, will get here Sunday and also leave Monday."
"Band? You're not planning a party up there, are you?"
"No. They'll be playing somewhere else."
"It's going to be crowded."
"The guys will stay in the living room; Quinn will use Karen's room."
"Okay. Thanks for letting me know. Have them park to the side of the driveway."
"I'll make sure they know."
"One more show. One more show with that sleazebag," Daria grumbled as she drove home after the Saturday night show. She was confused as she drove down the driveway that curved around the house toward the old carriage house that Mrs. Lyndon used as a garage. No sign of George, or any other band vehicle, was in evidence. She parked and went upstairs, a little concerned.
Inside, Jane was watching television and turned to say, "Ola. How's the grand dame of the theater doing tonight?"
"I'm fine, but where's Trent?"
"Oh, Lindy called a couple hours ago. They got a late start when Nick's ex left Ariel with him for the afternoon."
"No, Nick thought he said something to everyone, but forgot."
"Are you sure Nick's the one that forgot?"
"Well, nobody told Lindy, the one who tried to work up the schedule for them."
Sighing, Daria said, "I guess we wait."
Daria woke up in the lounge chair and rubbed her eyes. After checking the time, she shook Jane snoozing in the adjacent chair. "Jane."
"Jane, it's almost one-thirty and they're not here yet."
"Maybe they just forgot to come up."
Both young women looked at each other and said, "No."
Daria got out of her chair. "They wouldn't..."
Jane went to the kitchen and returned with a flashlight. "We better check."
They went to the landing and Jane pointed the flashlight down at the driveway. George was parked to the side, just as they had been told. Daria rested her head on her hand. "I don't believe it."
She recovered and walked downstairs and over to the driver's door. She gave a quick rap on the window and said, "Trent! Wake up!"
Jesse rolled down the window. "Wha?"
"Jesse, wake everyone up."
Jane moved around to the other front door and shined the light into it. Sudden movement could be heard inside and the passenger window slowly came down. A bleary-eyed Trent muttered, "Officer, I thought we set the parking brake."
"Wake up, you idiot. I'm your sister, not a cop."
Trent blinked. "Whoa, is that you, Janey?"
"Could you do something?"
"Point that somewhere else?"
Several minutes later, with Jane in the lead and Daria behind to push stragglers, the band stumbled and staggered up the stairs to the apartment. Trent was explaining, "Well, we were kind of late and didn't want to wake you."
Daria pushed Max to keep him moving. "You didn't notice the lights on?"
"Oh, you were staying up for us."
"Well, yes. The idea of you crashing here was so you didn't have to sleep in the truck."
Jesse looked back toward Daria and said, "Cool," before stumbling on the top step and falling on the landing.
Jane grabbed his arm. "Get up, you oaf, the landlady's going to think you're all drunk."
All four band members successfully made it inside and Daria closed the door behind them. Jane pointed to the living room. "You guys will be in there. Drop your sleeping bags and stuff wherever you want." She pointed to the hall and said, "The bathroom is the first door to the left, all others are bedrooms and off-limits. Quinn will show up tomorrow and will use one of the bedrooms. Any questions?"
Max scratched his bald head. "Um...yeah. Quinn, that's the chick that hangs out a lot with Lindy, right?"
Jane crossed her arms. "Yes."
"What's she like, doing up here?"
Daria raised one eyebrow. "Coming up to see the show."
Max high-fived Nick. "Wow, we're getting groupies following us around to see our shows."
Jane closed her eyes in frustration. "Max, she's coming to watch her sister's play, not the band."
Max looked in confusion at Daria. "Quinn's your sister?"
"Has been all her life."
"Wow, and all this time, I thought you were an only child."
Jane looked out from the hallway at the band scattered and sprawled over the living room. "At times like this, they should've changed their names to Something, Something Explosion."
Daria worked past Jane and headed toward the kitchen. "I'll start on something easy for breakfast if you wake them. I don't think Quinn's delicate constitution could withstand seeing them like this."
"Gee, you're being all motherly toward them, making breakfast."
"I don't want them gnawing on a bunch of gummy bricks like cavemen with bones. The imagery is just too...disturbing."
"Neon Neanderthals. Got to admit, it would make a cool composition."
"Besides, Professor Paine wanted to see them before the show about the party."
"Okay, I'll wake them." Jane booted Trent on the butt. "Trent."
After a harder kick, she repeated, "Trent!"
Trent smiled and mumbled, "Hmmm. Lindy."
Jane made a queasy face. "I don't want to know." She kicked him again and rolled his hip back and forth. "Trent! Wake up!"
Trent rolled onto his back with a smile.
Jane leaned over and muttered, "Time for the big guns." She inhaled and produced a squawk very much like her sister, Penny's, parrot.
Trent leaped up in terror at the sound. "Aaa!" He frantically looked around for the offending bird.
Trent looked relieved at its absence. "Damn, I hate those dreams." He looked at his sister and said, "Hey, Janey. What's up?"
"Help me get the band awake."
"Um, sure. Then I can go down to George and get the gummy bricks."
"No gummy bricks; Daria's fixing breakfast."
"Like, food, breakfast?"
"Yes, Trent. You know, like Lindy does."
"Cool. I better get everyone awake." He walked over and kicked the bottom of Jesse's feet. "Jesse, food."
Jane looked in surprise. "I thought you had to wake him just right, or he would get all disoriented."
"You do. If you don't hit him on the bottom of the feet, he gets confused about which way gravity works."
Jane shook her head and went to the kitchen. "Only Jesse."
While the band attacked the large bowl of oatmeal and stack of toast, Daria went to the door to answer the ring. She rose up on her toes to look through the peephole, to see the top of a red-haired head.
When Daria opened the door, Quinn was holding a small travel bag and speaking into a cell phone. "No problem, Mom...She just opened the door...She's tapping her foot and waiting for me to get off the phone...Okay, bye." Quinn handed the phone to Daria. "Hi, Daria. Mom wants to talk to you real quick."
Sighing, Daria took the phone and said, "Hi, Mom."
Helen Morgendorffer asked, "Daria, is it true you're taking Quinn to a party?"
"It's the cast party. Either she comes with, or we leave her at the theater."
"Please keep an eye on her."
"Mom, she's probably been to more college parties than I have. Wait, I've been to one college party, so she has been to more than me."
"Okay, I'll try to keep her out of trouble."
"Thanks, Sweetie." Daria could hear some paper rustling and Helen mutter, "Damn, where did Marianne leave those drafts?"
"Don't work too hard. The tech crew promised to have the tape copies to us at the party; I'm sending yours home with Quinn."
"Oh, thank you, Daria. I'm looking forward to seeing it." Under her breath, but still barely audible, she said, "If I can find the damn time. Eric better appreciate this."
"Okay, Mom. I don't have much time to get Quinn settled before we have to leave. Talk to you later."
"Oh, yes. Goodbye."
Daria looked at the phone for a few moments, searching the buttons. Quinn reached over and pressed one. "There it is."
As she handed the phone back, Daria said, "When did you get a cell phone?"
"Oh, a couple weeks ago. I got a great deal."
"I'm sure you did."
"And, I was thinking about you." Quinn removed a second cell phone from her travel bag and handed it to Daria.
"Yours. If you want it. It has the same deal as mine. All you have to do is activate and set up your account information."
Daria looked at the phone.
Quinn sighed. "Daria, we'll have unlimited minutes to talk to each other. Please take it. I want to be sure I can reach you when I go to California."
Daria looked up at Quinn. "Under one condition."
Quinn looked worried. "What's that?"
"I pay you back for the phone."
"Daria, it's a...deal."
After parking her car, Daria directed Trent to park his SUV nearer the backstage loading ramp of the theater. "The cast party will be in the basement after set strike. You'll be able to set up then while everyone is busy on stage."
Quinn got out of the car and said, "Great, but what will I do?"
"Hang out with me and meet the cast."
"There are some cute guys, right?"
"Yes, Quinn. Some of them qualify as cute."
As Jesse, Max and Nick pulled themselves from George, Daria told them, "Okay, Professor Paine wanted to see you before the show to go over the setup and stuff. Come on in with Quinn and me to get that out of the way, and then you can go grab some seats."
Daria led the pack to the backstage entrance. As she opened the door, she heard Max say, "I hope they haven't jacked up the price of the popcorn like movie theaters."
Jesse said, "Yeah. Popcorn sounds cool."
Inside the green room, Daria found Professor Paine talking with Isabelle. She walked up to them and waved a hand backward. "Professor Paine, this is Mystik Spiral." She pointed to each as she said, "Trent, Jesse, Nick and Max."
He grinned and walked over, shaking each one's hand. "I enjoyed your concert in the Quad a couple months ago."
Trent nodded. "That's cool."
Professor Paine pointed back toward the loading ramp. "After the show, you can bring your gear in there; the freight elevator will take you down to the basement. Larry, our sound tech, will get with you then to patch your gear into the theater system. We've got plenty of hands to help, so striking the set should only take an hour or so."
Trent nodded again. "Sounds like a plan."
Professor Paine rested a hand on Isabelle's shoulder. "Just one more thing."
She pointed at the band. "Okay guys, line up against the wall."
Trent went, "Huh?"
She unrolled a tape measure. "I need to get some quick measurements for your costumes."
Jesse scratched his head. "What?"
Isabelle rubbed her temples. "The ones you're wearing to perform at the cast party."
Max frowned at the woman. "The Spiral doesn't perform in costumes."
Professor Paine leaned against the wall next to Isabelle. "You will if you want to get paid. Check your contract."
Trent pulled it from his pocket and unfolded it. Professor Paine pointed to the text. After reading, Trent said, "Ah...man."
Max looked at the contract. "Rena... what?"
Isabelle rolled her eyes. "Renaissance. And I've only got a couple hours to get you measured and something from the stockroom modified to fit. Give me any more crap, and I'll put itching powder in your codpiece."
Max stomped back and leaned against the wall.
Isabelle swiftly moved between them, measuring and taking notes. "I think the Elizabethans we have left over from last year's Midsummer should do the trick. The spandex tights will work for almost anyone, and the doublets will only need a little pinning or stichwork to fit."
Max leaned over toward Nick and whispered, "What's a codpiece?"
Nick whispered back, "Some kind of fish?"
"That chick's weird."
"Hold still, Daria. I'm still learning how to use this thing." Quinn pointed a digital camera at Daria.
Daria, in costume, held still for Quinn. "Isn't one enough?"
Quinn moved to a different position. "No." Double flashes indicated another shot.
"I'm glad I'm used to moving around here half-blind. Those flashes are murder."
Quinn shut the camera off and put it in her purse. "Done."
"Why is everyone taking my picture?"
"Well, I want one of my sister in her first real play. Lindy wanted one, because she wanted one. Mom and Dad, well, you know."
"Besides, you look cute."
Daria looked down and rubbed her hands against her legs. A moment later, looked up and said, "Um...thanks, Quinn."
Quinn pulled out her date book and made a note, all the while, grinning.
"I just did."
"Great. Go, find a seat."
A wave of relief washed over Daria as the cast took their final bow. The applause felt good, the run was successful, and she'd learned a lot more than expected from the class. She followed everyone offstage and to the dressing rooms.
After removing the cotehardie, she held it on the hanger. "I kind of wish I could borrow you in a month or so."
"I've got the publicity stills for my portfolio; keep it." Isabelle smiled. "It's not likely we'll find anybody to fit into it."
"But, what about...?"
"I'll take care of it."
"Don't mention it. Ever." Isabelle chuckled and went on her way. "Now to get that band in costume."
Daria laid the dress over a chair back and began to apply cold cream to her face to remove the makeup. "Yuck."
Stripped of makeup and in much more casual slacks and blouse, Daria took the dress out to her car and locked it up. She walked around front to the theater lobby to where Quinn, Jane and CC were talking. "Back to reality."
Quinn smiled. "Nice show. Much more interesting than reading it with Mr. O'Neill."
"Receiving a frontal lobotomy is more interesting than reading something with Mr. O'Neill."
Jane rubbed her hands together. "Can we help with the set strike?"
Daria pointed toward the stage. "That way. You can rip and tear to your heart's content. But, cut a flat, and the stage manager will skin you alive."
Jane said, "Warning noted," and started in that direction. CC followed her, then Daria and Quinn.
Quinn tapped Daria's shoulder. "I hope you don't expect me to participate in physical labor."
"Oh, Quinn. Perish the thought."
CC said, "You can always go down and help the band set up."
Quinn recoiled. "Eww. Have you seen what's on some of that stuff?"
"Can't be any worse than some of what I've seen at work."
"Ewww! I didn't need to know that!"
They made the rest of the way in silence. Up on stage, Daria said, "Okay, everybody. This is my roommate Jane, our friend CC, and the redhead is my sister, Quinn. You can introduce yourselves."
Assorted loud greetings fell upon the group from the actors and crew already wreaking havoc. Jane joined a broad-chested man with dark brown hair in pulling the gate of Harfleur apart.
CC joined Daria in peeling tape from the joints between wall flats. "I don't mind helping, but if I don't have to exert as much, the better."
"With my mechanical aptitude, I'm likely to hurt someone if you give me a crowbar."
"Good thing they didn't have you swinging a sword around."
"God, I could have killed somebody doing that."
Sitting back in a chair and sipping on a can of soda, Daria looked around the crowded basement. Cast and crew milled and talked, many holding their personal preference of a huge range of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages set out on a table next to the snacks. Jane was leaning against the stagehand she'd helped with the set strike. CC was talking with Wayne, the actor who played Orleans and was a male stripper.
Daria gave the two a knowing, small smile. I don't want to know what constitutes shoptalk for them. Finally, a knot of males marked Quinn's location. She's finally stopped the habit of asking boys get drinks for her. Good. You can't be too careful.
Trent and the band came downstairs in Elizabethan costumes of velvet doublets, tights, codpieces and ruffled collars. Scattered clapping broke out as they got into place.
Trent went to the microphone and said, "Hey, we're Mystik Spiral. It's cool to be back here at Raft University in Boston. We're going to start with one of our classics."
You put me on a short leash
and threw away my hydrant.
You ate up all my kibble
now my coat's no longer vibrant.
My nose is dry and chapped
but, this puppy's here to stay.
Scratch my belly baby,
every dog has his day.
Sandy sat in the seat next to Daria and balanced a small plate of chips on her lap. "Your sister sure seems to have a way with men."
"Quinn's been able to do that ever since she figured out they were different."
"Your friends also look like they're having a nice time."
"Jane always had a bit of an outgoing streak in her; she's finally getting to use it. CC, well, is CC."
"Uh oh. Mandy's on the warpath."
"I wonder what she's up to? Much to my surprise, Len hasn't made a single comment to me after the play. I was really hoping to introduce him to my boot." She looked around the crowd, and found a satisfied smile forming on her lips. "Hmm. Len's in the Quinn Pack. This should be fun."
Mandy stalked over to the cluster of young men around Quinn and quietly slipped among them. As she was recognized, men moved away from her, giving an effect like parting water.
She stopped behind Len and listened for a few seconds as he said, "So, Quinn. After I graduate, I'm planning on heading to California to try for my big break. Think I could..."
His voice was cut short by Mandy grabbing the waistline of his pants, jerking up and then back. Without releasing pressure, she pulled him away from Quinn.
Len stuttered, "M...Mandy?"
"Yeah, you lecherous bastard."
"Uh...um...I was only..."
The two were nearing Daria and Sandy. Daria reached over, took a chip off Sandy's plate, and munched on it. Sandy crossed her legs and leaned back. "This is quality theater."
Mandy spat out, "You were talking up that Daria's younger sister, and I heard you. Already making plans for California, huh?"
Mandy turned toward Daria with fury in her eyes. "You miserable Morgendorffer temptresses!" She tugged hard again before spinning and pushing him into the freight elevator.
Jane disengaged from the man she was with, saying, "Give me a minute." She went over to Daria and Sandy. "Hey, it's been a while since I've heard that term used."
Daria looked at Jane in continued amusement. "I'd almost forgotten about that comment from Brittany."
Sandy looked at Daria and Jane. "Somebody made a comment like that before?"
Jane said, "Yeah, one of our old high school cheerleaders."
Daria interjected. "She was under the delusion we were trying to take her boyfriend away. Okay, Quinn was. I was only trying to get through a science project I was assigned to with him."
Jane leaned next to Daria. "Wasn't that when Quinn's three puppies tried to hit on you?"
"Yeah, fortunately, she showed up to lead them astray...away. And she's done it for me one more time."
Sandy looked over at the reassembled mob around Quinn. "Doesn't seem to have affected her in the least."
Daria looked over. "She's in heaven. Probably hasn't had a good crowd like that in a while."
"Lawndale's a pretty small school. She went through all of the available boys."
"You're kidding. Went through them all?"
"My sister, the overachiever."
Mystik Spiral played a one-hour set. Trent wiped the sweat away with his forearm and said, "Okay. We'd like to finish with a new song for you tonight."
Love has the schedules,
For where we have to go.
Love makes the rules,
Why, we hope to know.
Daria crossed her arms and warmly smiled. "He did write a song about that."
Love set the day,
that made our eyes to see.
And put us on the way,
To where we had to be.
Jane leaned on the wall next to Daria. "You seem pleased."
"It seems to be telling you something."
Daria nodded. "That Trent found who he needed in Lindy and that I found who I needed in Michael."
"Why do I sense a conversation I wasn't around for?"
"Your psychic abilities are still intact."
"And that's all I'm going to get, right?"
Trent waved to the applause. "Thanks, we're Mystik Spiral, and we're out of here."
The band quickly started to depart the basement, all showing discomfort at wearing tights. Max grumbled, "Damn, this thing itches."
Daria said to Jane, "Look, I'm going to grab Quinn and head out. I'm beat, and want to have the apartment open when the band crawls back. That way, you can hang out as long as you want."
"I'm not staying much longer than the band. I've got my watercolor tech portfolio to turn in tomorrow, and we both have finals for the rest of the week."
Daria looked around. "At least this counted as the final for my theater class. Anyway, I'm out of here."
Daria went over to Quinn and said, "Time to go."
"Daria, we've hardly started."
"Quinn, even though I was able to get out of work tomorrow, I still have class and want to have you and the band on their way home before I leave for class. I also need to get home first to open the apartment. Before you ask, Jane will probably be distracted and not interested in giving you a ride back."
"Oh, all right." She turned to the table of men in various levels of intoxication trying to balance quarters on their noses. "I have to go, bye everyone."
Numerous shouts of, "Please, don't go," "Just a few more minutes," "I can take you home," and a few other more explicit comments came from the table.
Quinn smiled and waved at them. "Bye, thanks for the good time."
The drive to the apartment was mostly quiet. After parking her car, Daria reached into the back seat and grabbed the folded dress. Quinn looked at Daria in surprise. "You kept that?"
After going upstairs and into the apartment, Quinn started looking around the room. Daria opened her eyes marginally wider and said, "Quinn, what are you looking for?"
"Pods? Why would..." Daria looked at the dress in her hand. "Oh."
"You want to show off to a certain somebody?"
Quinn beamed with pride. "Daria, there is hope for you. You want to look good for a guy."
"I'm not a cold fish."
"But, don't expect me to wear stuff like this on any kind of regular basis."
Quinn grinned. "Perish the thought."
That brought a small smile to Daria. "Good one."
The next morning, Quinn had risen early to leave. "I've seen the band at Trent and Lindy's, they are way too scary." Daria had paid Quinn for the cell phone and she'd shown Daria how to set up the account online.
Jane blew through at a jog, with a large portfolio under one arm. "Crap, I'm running late. Good to see you, Quinn. Later." Before either sister could respond, Jane was out the door.
Quinn took the cue. "I want to get going, too. I liked the show."
"Thanks for coming, Quinn." Daria picked up a videotape from the table. "Don't forget this or Mom will kill you."
"No kidding. Bye, Sis."
"Bye. I'll see you in a couple weeks."
Later, Daria stacked dirty dishes in the sink. She looked at the wall clock and groaned before going to the door to the dining and living room. "Okay, guys. I know it's early for you, but you need to be on your way home."
Nick groused, "Daria, you're brutal."
Carrying sleeping bags, Jesse, Max and Nick found a way to lean on each other and navigate down the stairs. Trent stopped at the door. "Daria, thanks for letting us stay."
"No problem. I liked your new song."
"I had some good inspiration. Um, by the way, thanks for getting me motivated to tell Lindy, um, you know."
"No problem. I know how hard it can be."
"Tell Michael that he better behave."
"I will, and give my regards to Lindy."
"Of course. Goodbye."
"Bye; have a safe trip."
She stood on the landing and watched the band leave. Once the truck was out of sight, she went back inside and to her room. She slid a second videotape into a mailer and wrote a short note to go with it.
I hope you enjoy the show. When you get back to Boston, I have something I want you to see.
Every Dog Has His Day from Groped By An Angel by Jonathan Greenberg.
Thanks to Kristen Bealer and Ipswichfan for Beta reading.