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 Thirty-Fifth story in the Falling into College series.

Richard Lobinske

A Few Important Details

Michael Fulton drove through light, blowing snow to a residential section of southern Boston. A quick look at the single yellow rose in a bud vase supported by the cup holder of his car brought a warm smile to his face. It's been one year since she made me happier than I thought possible.

"She" was Daria Morgendorffer, the bespectacled, auburn-haired young lady whom he loved and had been dating for a year.

Love. The realization had only taken a couple months after their first date, during a telephone conversation with his sister.

"Hello," Gina Fulton said into the telephone as she leaned a dining room chair back against the wall. Across the table, her best friend, Natalie, munched on a breadstick.

Michael asked, "Hey, Gina, is Dad home?"

"Nah. He and Mom went out for dinner and a movie. Don't tell me you're broke already, Goofball."

"No, I'm not broke."

"Well, then why did you call?"

"Um...I was hoping for a little advice."

"What you could you want from...?" Gina grinned. "It's a week until Valentine's Day; you want advice on what to do for that girl you like."

"Uh...well, yeah."

Natalie yelled over, "I think she's a figment of his imagination."

Gina half-covered the phone and said back, "I thought that, but my brother could never think up a name like Daria." She said Daria's name with a faux accent. " I think she's real, though I'm not sure what planet she's from."

Michael frowned slightly. "Keep it up, brat."

"But I do it so well. So, what kind of advice do you need? Being of the female persuasion, I just may be able to help."

"She's a smart nineteen-year old, not a fifteen year old with chronic brain damage. I don't think your tastes would apply."

"Oooh. Sounds like you really like her."

"Yes, I do."

"Well, how much?"

"Very much. I think she's..." He stared at his dorm wall for several seconds in surprised thought.

"You think she's what? Cute? Sexy? Lavender?"

Michael slowly refocused. "The best thing that's ever happened to me."

Gina grinned. "And?"

Daria's intelligence and honesty were the first things that came to mind as he thought of her. He pictured her soft face and long, full hair, and then her expressive, deep brown eyes and they way they always seemed to add to the meaning of what she said. He also remembered the small sarcastic, cynical remarks that often brought life's absurdities into focus. He looked directly ahead. "I love her."

"Whoa. Did I just hear you right?"

"Okay, Sis, sometimes you are good for something," Michael mused as he stopped at a traffic light. "Even if it took me almost two more months to tell her, and then I blurted it out like an idiot after that concert in the quad."

Ken belched and said, "Dude, you're grinning like a bird-fed cat."

Michael ignored his piggish roommate and flopped onto his dorm bed, thinking.
She was a little freaked, but she didn't run away. I think she wants to love me in return. I hope so.

"Hey, did you finally get to second base with this chick?" Ken interrupted his reverie. "You know, if you've only gotten that far after four months, I think you need to think about finding another girl."

"Coming from somebody with less of a social life than me, that's special."

"Hey, just because I don't follow society's norms about appearance, doesn't mean I don't know how to deal with chicks."

"That you pay fifty dollars an hour."

"Hey, a chick's a chick."

"Do you mind if I want something more?"

Ken sat up. "You're hopeless, man. Oh, well. To each his own."

When the light changed, Michael drove onward, quickly suppressing the bad memories of their temporary breakup at the beginning of summer, though he did himself allow a warm memory of the emerald and gold ring in a lockbox hidden inside his closet. I can dream.

Michael pulled into the driveway of the 150-year old house and followed it around to the back to park. Turning off the ignition, he sat back and remembered the sleepless night after she first said "I love you," while they watched Fourth of July fireworks from his father's boat.

Gazing out his window to the east, Michael thought of Daria on the flight back to Boston and how much he already missed her. "Only a month and a half. It's not that long."

He held a small photo of her in his hand, one quietly taken by Daria's friend and roommate, Jane Lane, which she'd given to him with the explanation, "She hates being photographed."

"She loves me." He looked back out the window. "How did I get so lucky?"

He spent the night sitting and staring out that window, contemplating that question until the morning sunlight shone.

The snow blew around Michael's feet as he climbed the outside stairs and rang the doorbell of the apartment. "Happy anniversary," he said as Daria opened the door.

She accepted the proffered rose and led him inside. After closing the door, she rose up on her toes and kissed him. "Happy anniversary."

Michael softly embraced her.

Daria stepped back and brushed the transferred snow off her blouse. "And it's just as cold as last year."

"Now I wish I hadn't waited a month to ask you out."

Daria placed the small flower vase on the table and said, "That would have avoided the 'cold day in Hell' claims about somebody dating me."

"Funny, but can you blame me for wishing for an extra month of being with you?"

"Still trying to strengthen the case for having your head examined?"

"Why, am I growing an extra nose again?"

Daria buttoned her heavy coat and wrapped a blue scarf with the word "Revolution" spelled out in white around her neck. She went to Michael and put her hands on his cheeks. "I have to wonder about the sanity of anyone who's put up with my bad moods and insecurity."

He kissed her. "You put up with my bumbling and cluelessness. I'd say we make a good match."

"Oh, misery loves company. That does seem to be the trademark for my relationships."

"So, let's go out there and share the misery."

After a pleasing evening of a movie at the same theater as their first date, they had returned and were in Michael's car. Daria slowly pulled away from him, endeavoring to catch her breath and holding his hand pressed against her bare side. "Okay...time to slow down."

Michael opened his eyes and nodded. "We were getting a little carried away." He moved his hand and pulled the edge of her blouse back down.

Daria leaned over and kissed him. "Michael...we need to think about this."

He very gently embraced her. "You only have to say no."

She leaned her head against his chest. "Michael, I know I can trust you, I doubt my ability to say stop."


She looked up at him. "You don't want to stop, either."

"Are you suggesting?"

"Yes, but not now. Not in your car."

"Not exactly a romantic spot or the warmest." He thought for a moment before saying, "Not that I'm not...interested, but why have you changed your mind?"

"I've...um...have kind of wanted my first time to be special. I'm becoming afraid we might...because we..."

Michael kissed her. "Lost control?"

She nodded.

He stroked her full, auburn hair. "We wouldn't be the first if we did, but I don't want that either."

"Thank you."

"What do you suggest?"

"I don't know yet."

Daria pulled the fireproof safe from under her bed and opened it, removing a leather-bound book and a small box. She took both to her computer desk and sat down. The book she opened and quickly flipped to her last diary entry. From the box she removed a silver fountain pen and scratched it on some loose printer paper to get the ink flowing. She thought for a moment and began to write.

December 3

Michael and I have been together for a year now. This anniversary, we both remembered. Does that make us an "old couple"?

Daria continued to write for a while, describing the evening up to their time in his car. She remembered the night they were snowed in after Jane's birthday party and slept next to each other on lounge chairs.

"Sometimes...crap..." Michael said, "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 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..."

"Like I haven't had similar dreams. I know Karen and Jane have been amused by hearing me when I have them. I still can't believe I wrote a story about one of them, even if I couldn't resist putting in some supernatural elements." Daria smiled remembering the dream that inspired that story. Next, she recalled that night at Jane's was the first time that Michael had touched her anyplace that could be considered intimate.

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.

Still looking at the empty page of her diary, she said, "I suppose we have been rather tame for a couple college students dating this long." She closed her eyes and slowly rocked her head back.

She and Michael sat together on one of the sofas in her parents' home. Daria looked into his green eyes and softly said, "Thank you for driving all the way here from Detroit to make up. That means a lot to me."

He kissed the tip of her nose and smiled. "I only beat you to it because I had a car and you didn't. Call it even."

Daria drew him into an embrace. "But you did it."

Softly, Michael put his arms around her and on a whim, gently drew his fingertips up along her spine.

Eyes open wide in surprise, she sharply inhaled in pleasure at the touch.

"I think you liked that," he whispered.

"And I still do." Daria began to write again.

I still can't believe some of the feelings I have for Michael when we're together. I used to look down on them, but now they feel right. I'm learning to accept that physical attraction and desire for intimacy is an aspect of being in love. But, part of me is still scared.

We came very close tonight when we got back from the movie. In some ways, things are going in parallel with what happened and didn't happen with Tom. But, in others, it is very different. Then, I was thinking we should have sex more because it was a natural progression of our relationship, but didn't really feel the desire. This time, I feel the desire. This also has me uncertain because it will mean allowing my body to have some say in what I do, instead of maintaining strict intellectual control. We decided that we will, but not any details like when or where.

Plus, there are still so many questions. I've been on the pill for six months now, so that one is answered, though I wouldn't put it past him to insist on a condom as a redundancy. At this time in our lives, I still can't disagree with that. Mostly, I think the question is, "Am I ready to let even Michael get that close to me? Will this change how we relate to each other?"

The next day at noon, Daria drove her car from the staff parking lot to the entrance of Raft University's Newton Hall to pick up her other roommate, Karen Myerson. She jogged to the car and skidded on the ice when she tried to stop, thumping into the door hard.

Karen frowned and climbed in, rubbing her hip. "Evil stuff is worse than wet clay on a tile floor."

"Still learning to walk on ice?"

"Yeah. Don't get much of it in south Georgia."

"We didn't see it in Texas, either. But a couple years in Maryland was enough."

Karen grinned. "I better get used to it for this weekend."

Daria gave her a fast glance. "What's this weekend?"

"A friend of Derek's father has a time-share at a ski-lodge in Vermont. I won't even try to replicate the convoluted history, but Derek gets to use it this weekend, and he's going to teach me how to ski."


"Yeah, knowing me, I'll probably break my neck."

"So, you'll be gone for the weekend?"

"Leave Friday and get back Sunday night."

"Just the two of you?"

"Well, that will be a nice part of the trip."

"So..." Daria looked at the steering wheel. Um, and there's more than just skiing is on the agenda?"

Karen blushed. "Uh, yeah. That, too."

Daria nervously replied, "Well...have fun. And try not to break a leg, you're not doing theater."

"New York, here I come!" Jane yelled as she entered the apartment that night.

Daria spun her desk chair around to see Jane dancing in the hall and said, "The trip to the Met we went to that Halloween party for?"

"And they bumped it up to this weekend! So I get to have fun now, instead of after finals."

"This weekend?"

"The bus leaves BFAC Friday and gets back on Sunday evening."

"You sound excited."

"Oh, yeah. I've wanted to go there for years. Anyway, you and Karen will just have to survive without me for a couple days."

"Karen's going skiing with Derek this weekend."

Jane smirked. "Ooooh. Place to yourself all weekend."

"Looks like it."

"Now's your big chance to take advantage of Michael."

Daria turned her reddening face away. "Um...okay. Big chance."

Jane giggled and went into her room. "Even more fun than teasing her about Trent."

As Daria opened the door the next evening, she heard Michael say, "Pizza!" and rush in from the cold.

She took the flat box so he could shed his Park Service jacket and said, "Thanks for picking it up for me."

"I couldn't pass up the chance to spend time in civilization."

"Bad day at work?"

"I knew people could be pigs, but today..." Michael shook his head in serious disgust. "I picked up trash off the USS Constitution. God, even there, people will leave the most amazing crap behind."

"We are a race of barbarians."

"At least I didn't find any used diapers like I have on the Freedom Trail."

"That still boggles the mind." Daria set the box on the table, where a stack of plates was already present. "Jane's out on a date and Karen will be here later. Help yourself."

He picked up a slice and ate a bite. "You sure can cook a good pizza," he added with good-natured sarcasm.

"Hey, this time of year, buying the pizza is considered the same as cooking dinner."

After picking up a slice, Daria directed him to the sofa.

They ate in silence until Michael asked, "Something wrong?"

Daria cautiously said, "Remember our talk Sunday night?"

"It would take a thirteen ton weight dropped on my head to make me forget that."

"Uh..." Daria twisted her hands together. "Karen and Jane will be gone this weekend."

"Oh." He reached over and held her hands. "So you're thinking we'll...then?"

She nodded.

"Whoa. That's...so soon.

Daria nodded.

Michael said, "Do you have anything...else in mind?"

"I don't know."

"How..." Michael stopped, swallowed, and tried again. "How about...I mean, we've never done a fancy date."


"Um, you know. Like formal clothes and a ballet or something. Just, something special."

"I've never done something like that. But, I think I'd like it."
He stroked her cheek. "And...be prepared to change our minds about...how we end the night?"

She drew him close. "In case I chicken out."

He softly held her.

"Can I cut out a little early?" Daria asked Dr. Killarny, her boss at the Raft University Press.

He looked up from his computer. "Where are you at on your assignments?"

"I finished off the Markham manuscript today and didn't want to start a new one with only twenty minutes left. So, I thought I'd see if I could leave a little early to take care of some personal business."

"If you got that mangled mess in shape, go ahead. You deserve it."


Daria closed her jacket and crossed the Quad to the Student Center and waited a few minutes outside one office for a woman with slightly graying hair to emerge.

"Carolyn? Can I have minute or two?"

Carolyn Poole, the school therapist that she'd visited before, smiled. "Daria. We can talk while I go to my car if you want."

"Works for me."

After they'd cleared the building, Carolyn asked, "What's on your mind?"

"Any advice on how to know if you're ready to be, um, intimate with someone?"

"Is this a before or after type of question?"


"Good. I like that about you, Daria. You think ahead and have a good sense."

"I know I love Michael, but I wonder if that's enough."

"And I'm sure he loves you, but you're right. Love alone isn't enough. Is he someone you plan to stay with?"

"Yes." She looked down at the pavement of the parking lot. "I hope to always be with him."

"And he with you?"

She smiled. "I know that if I told him 'yes' today, he'd be shopping for a ring tomorrow."

"You're still holding off on the idea of marriage?"

"After everything that happened last May."

"You still have that trauma associated with it." Carolyn pressed the button on her car remote and the locks opened on her white Corvette. "Daria, you have the information you need to make an informed decision. How much you love each other, and more important, how much you are committed to each other. There are no defined guides or thresholds for this. Do what you do best, be honest with yourself."

"Thanks, that helped."

Michael sat on a bench overlooking the harbor near the naval yard. Am I being selfish?

The waves splashing against the seawall provided no answer except to counterpoint the traffic noise from the downtown area behind him.

I suppose. I've thought about this for almost as long as we've been dating and a big part of me wants to. But, does that mean I shouldn't try to get us to wait? Is this only lust, or is it more?

Closing his eyes, his mind went back to the beach trip the previous summer. Quietly sighing, he could almost feel her in his embrace as they swam together. With her clad only in a swimsuit as they moved through the water, she was nearly naked, with only the thin fabric between them. He felt such closeness and happiness to be with her, he enjoyed her warmth in his arms as he helped her unsteady swimming.

He leaned back on the bench and folded his arms over his chest. I wasn't feeling lust then, just closeness and joy. Okay, maybe I'm not just being selfish. One more question.

He sat still for many minutes before telling the waves, "I'm as fully committed to her as possible. She's the only one for me. I will be hers, if she wants."

Friday, Karen looked at Daria with wide eyes. "Do I know what I'm doing?"

Daria said in return, "Derek is going to take you up the side of a snow-covered mountain. There, he will strap an almost-frictionless surface onto the bottom of each foot and push you down the slope. I'm not sure."

"That's a lot of help. The closest I've done to this has been water skis."

"Just reminding you again, don't break anything. You started out this semester in a cast; you don't need to make a habit of it."

"Trust me. That's not in the planning. Although...if Derek breaks a leg, I could have him completely under my control."

"Providing you with certain advantages."

"I'm starting to like this plan."

Daria smiled and shook her head. "Enjoy the ski trip."

"I will. You have any plans with Michael while we're gone?"

"He'll be coming over for Saturday night."

"That's nice." Karen picked up her suitcase and started for the door. "Wait." She paused and watched her roommate. "That sounded like he's staying the night."

Daria blushed. "Probably, but we're not certain...yet."

Karen nervously smiled. "I'd be a hypocrite to tell you don't do anything, and I know I don't have to tell you to take precautions."

"Karen, do you regret it?"

"Sometimes." Karen clearly felt uncomfortable about the subject. "But overall, no."

"Um, what about the waiting for marriage bit?"

Karen gave a short, anxious laugh. "When I think of how freaked I'm going to be when I get married, adding that on top would likely be too much."

"And people say I'm overly practical at times."

"You are, but that means I can't?"


Karen asked, "You're not going to discuss this with Jane, are you?"

"After the grief she gave me when the subject came up between me and Tom, no."

"Good plan. I need to get going. Bye."

"Good-bye. Have a safe trip."

Karen lifted her suitcase and headed out, stopping on the landing to look back. "Have fun, whichever way you decide."

Jane walked swiftly by carrying her round, black suitcase. "Don't wreck the place while I'm gone."

Daria looked over the back of the sofa. "Okay, only minor surface damage. Have fun at the Met."

"I hope so. What are your plans?"

"Kind of the usual, a date with Michael on Saturday."

"Well, have a good time. See you Sunday night."


"Saturday already?" Daria stared up at the ceiling over her bed and remembered making a similar statement a couple years earlier while dating Tom. After putting her glasses on, she slipped out of bed and walked to the bathroom. "Maybe just letting things happen would've been a lot easier than this drawn-out planning and waiting."

Later, still in her warm, long nightshirt, Daria sat at the table, eating a bowl of oatmeal. "No, that might have been easier up front, but..." Daria gave a short laugh and smile. "...I'm enough of a romantic to want something more. Something like that I'd regret for a long time."

Putting the dishes in the washer, Daria still felt nervous. "Maybe a voice from the past might also help."

She opened a steamer trunk and sorted through different volumes marked by year. "Mrs. Blaine, I've often found good advice by reading your life."

A couple hours later, she found an entry in the "1936" volume.

July 15

Sorry I didn't have time to write yesterday, but Mark and I were just so busy. Our wedding was delightful. I think keeping it simple was the right answer. Reverend Tyler was a bundle of laughs before we started and helped to calm my nerves. Much to my relief, I didn't trip over my dress on the way down the aisle. I don't think I've seen Dad so thrilled in my life, or that Mom would ever stop crying.

Diane caught the bouquet during the reception. Boy, did she eye Ronald afterward. He better get on the ball soon. Stu caught the garter. Maybe this means he'll find somebody this year.

Mark's car made it to Niagara Falls without a problem and we found our hotel after only getting lost for a while. The honeymoon suite is very nice, though we can only afford to stay in it for a couple days.

Yes, I was scared when we went to bed. Mark was very patient and in the end, I was very happy. I guess some people would consider me a bit naughty, but I'm looking forward to a lifetime in bed with him.

Daria closed the book and gently put it back in place before sealing the trunk. "Once again, thank you."

She pushed the trunk under her bed with a grunt. "One more thing," she said before getting her cell phone from on top of her computer desk.

After dialing and waiting for a response, she said, "Mom?"

Helen replied, "Hi, Sweetie. How are you doing?"

"I'm fine. Um, you once said you wanted me to talk to you first. Well, I wouldn't mind a little advice."

"Why, sure. What did you want to ask me about?"

Todd Baker leaned back in his desk chair and propped his feet on the desk. "Best of both worlds. Because Mom's only a few miles away, I don't have to make a bunch of travel plans to see her on the holidays. But, I get the privacy of staying in my own place and don't have to deal with the insanity of home the whole time." He laughed. "And everyone said I was nuts for staying in Boston for college."

"Hmm." Michael grunted from where he sat on the bed, staring at the dress pants still held in his hands.

"Dude, what's up with you?"

"Um...a little nervous about tonight."

"That's an understatement."

"Okay, fine, very nervous."

Todd looked at the rest of the suit and tie set out on Michael's bed. "You're really getting the good stuff out. Must be planning something special with Daria."


Todd walked over and sat next to Michael, putting an arm around his shoulder. "It's none of my business what's up, so I won't ask."

"Good, I don't feel like a answering."

"Dude, she's a class act. Make sure you treat her that way and you won't need to be worried."

Michael looked over. "Thanks."

"I haven't had this on in almost a year and a half. But, tonight's a good night." Daria gently unhooked a zippered garment bag from her closet and laid it on her bed. After opening it, she removed a black silk gown and a short, black velvet jacket embroidered with green-black roses.

"Okay, I guess I should've expected that," Daria mumbled a few minutes later as she closed up the gown. "Those freshman pounds are still hanging on. I'm glad this thing has a little extra room around the middle, or this would be embarrassing."

She opened the tiny jewelry box on her dresser and started to remove the silver necklace that she'd bought with the gown, but stopped and put it back. "You're for a different purpose." Daria picked up the malachite set gold necklace and pendant she normally wore and put it on. She followed with the jacket.

After fastening the silver buttons on it, she went to the bathroom to look in the mirror. The tailor-fitted gown still accented her petite, small frame elegantly. The malachite does look good on this. Quinn would kill to hear me say that. She smiled. Don't worry, inner cynic, I still draw the line at makeup.

After Michael rushed inside and closed the door, he stopped to look at Daria. "Wow. I saw the painting Jane did of you in this, but the reality, wow. You're so beautiful."

She put her hand around his neck and brought his head down for a kiss. "You were the first person to say that to me."

"That's something I'll never understand."

"Like they say; beauty is only skin deep and I hid the skin well."

Michael slowly shook his head. "I hate that cliché. Attractiveness is skin deep. Beauty is something from within that reaches out and touches the heart of others. That's what you have."

"Thanks," Daria said and blushed. "You're not so bad yourself."



As Michael helped her with her coat, Daria said, "You know, this is the first time I've seen The Nutcracker done by professionals instead of students."

"I've never seen it at all."


Late that evening, Michael and Daria stopped just before they went inside. He looked up at the full moon high in the cold evening sky. "That seems just right."

Daria looked up. "Appropriately romantic for this evening."

He gently embraced her. "I love you."

She reached around his waist and kissed him. "I love you." She held herself against him for several seconds. "I'm not nervous anymore."

Michael let loose the embrace, but held both her hands. "There's little something I want to do for you, while we're still under the moonlight. This may seem a bit odd, but for me, it seems appropriate." He cleared his throat and sang in a soft, slightly burred, tenor:

I've waited here for you

Under the comforter, Daria awoke on her left side with Michael spooned against her, his right arm over her waist and her hands clasped around his, holding it over her heart. I love you. She savored his gentle, caring embrace. The realization dawned that just as physically there was nothing between them, emotionally, it was the same. All of my old barriers are gone for you.

Michael was amazed at how well they seemed to fit together. I love you. The soft warmth of her skin against his brought a feeling of supreme joy. I wish I could wake up every morning like this. He also felt protective of Daria and knew he would do anything for her.

Daria turned her head and Michael could see her profile. He whispered, "Like waking next to an angel."

She opened her eyes. "That's something I don't remember being called."

Michael leaned over and, as always, felt himself fall into her beautiful, brown eyes. He lovingly kissed her. "But, perhaps you should. Good morning."

Daria rolled toward him a little more to see his crystalline green eyes better. She reached over and cupped a hand over his cheek. "Good morning in return."

He moved his hand up and caressed her forehead. "How are you doing?"

"Sore, but nothing to worry about."

"I'm still sorry. I..."

She interrupted him with a kiss. "I didn't expect it to hurt that much, either. But, it wasn't your fault." She rolled her eyes a little playfully. "I also didn't expect things to be so messy after."

Michael chuckled. "Yeah, one of the details nobody ever tells you about."

Daria very softly kissing him again and said, "You kept your promise, last night was special."

Michael said, "When my father gave me the 'birds and bees' speech, he said, 'Sex is a very pleasurable experience, that's why it's so popular. But, when it is done with true love, it will be one of the most joyous things imaginable.' Now I understand."

Daria stroked a finger along his eyebrows. "Before, I resented the idea that physical intimacy was part of a good relationship." She kissed Michael slowly. "But with you, I feel so much closer."

She completed rolling, facing him. She wrapped her arms around his shoulders and held herself against him. Michael closed his eyes and enjoyed her embrace. He reached around and delicately traced a finger along her spine. She sharply inhaled and arched her back at the sensuous touch.

Daria looked past him at her closet. "You know, there's one down side to sleeping like this."


"With the ancient insulation this place has, the rooms get pretty chilly. Eventually, we'll have to get out from under this warm blanket to get our clothes."

Michael lightly kissed her neck. "We don't have to be in a rush, do we?"

She closed her eyes and relaxed under the kisses. "No rush at all."

Helen sat in bed, hugging a pillow. She's no longer a little girl, no matter how hard I wish.

She felt mild jealousy of Daria as she remembered the impulse, excitement, and regret of her first time. Helen would never forget the sting of the stunt car driver saying, "Cool, another one. I love this job."

I'm glad she trusted me enough to talk about it first, and that she made her decision out of love.

Helen sighed and looked at Jake, asleep beside her. Memories of their first time together flooded back. They were both eighteen; he was clumsy and almost petrified. Helen gave a short laugh. At the time, she'd been glad to have a little experience. She wished now that it had been her first time, too. Daria, I envy you that.

Helen set the pillow aside and snuggled next to Jake and he instinctively put his arm around her. Helen closed her eyes and held her husband. But that's in the past. We've been loyal to each other for thirty-two years. Even in the group house, we never strayed. Thank you, Jake.

Standing on the stair landing, Daria spent several minutes looking at the driveway that Michael had just driven down. "Okay, that's one down side. It's a harder to watch him leave."

She went inside and sat on her bed, stroking her hand on the side Michael had slept on. Daria imagined several older versions of him asleep there. "I'm looking forward to a lifetime with you."

Moving stiffly, Karen worked her way inside the apartment.

Daria looked up from her dinner. "Are you okay?"

"Nobody told me that skiing used so many different muscles that I don't normally use."

"Good, it was sounding like you fell off the mountain or something."

"No such luck."

"Darn, now I'll have to drop my plans to convert your room into more closet space."

"Yeah, right. You seem in a good mood, things must have gone as planned."

Daria nodded.

Karen shook her head. "No details. I'm not Jane."

"Thank God."

Tired from the long trip, Jane went straight to her room, tossed the suitcase on top of her laundry hamper and immediately changed into sweatpants and a shirt. Coming out of her room, she noticed Daria on the sofa, a soft smile on her face as she looked out the window.

"Morgendorffer, what are you grinning..." Jane's eyes widened in surprise. "So that's why you didn't mind having the place to yourself all weekend."

Daria blushed, but didn't lose her smile.

"Come on girl, give me details!"

"We had an excellent dinner, watched The Nutcracker and came back here to spend the night together."

"And that's all I'm going to get, right?"

"Until I write my autobiography."

Jane laughed until a realization hit and she leaned back against the table. "I don't believe it! You mean that out of the three of us, I'm the last?"

Thanks to Ipswichfan for the title suggestion.

Lyrics to Everlong by the Foo Fighters.

The Revolution scarf comes from Ipswichfan's story, A Night at the Soccer Game.

Thanks to Kristen Bealer, Ipswichfan and Mr. Orange and for beta reading.

During the writing of this story, one of my long-time beta readers, Kristen Bealer, married the love of her life, Bryan. Best wishes on many happy years together.

June 2005.