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.
This is a sequel to Falling Into College and set in June, 2012.
Looking at the empty spaces on the bathroom counter, Daria called out, "Michael, did you pack the toothbrushes?"
In the bedroom, her husband Michael double-checked a side pocket of the suitcase he was packing before saying, "Yes, dear. And the toothpaste and the floss."
Michael scanned the suitcase. "What am I missing? Of course, that's it."
While he was turned to fetch fresh socks from his dresser, a tortoiseshell cat jumped up onto the bed and, without hesitation, curled up on the clean clothes in the suitcase and started to gracefully clean herself.
Michael turned and said, "Sissy."
"Mew?" the cat innocently looked up and said.
"You can't come with us."
"No, you can't. Besides, this is checked luggage and you would hate riding in the cargo hold."
"Exactly. Now, can I finish packing?"
A meow in another part of the house caused Sissy to sprint after the sound, flinging neatly-packed clothes out of place in the process. Michael watched the cat race down the hall. "Thank you," he said, then started to pack things back into place.
Daria walked past him and said, "I'm going to present our departure offerings to the house goddesses."
In the living room, a news program was running on the TV. Daria faintly paid attention as the announcer said, "And in entertainment news tonight, we're watching New York City as things come together for this weekend's highly-anticipated wedding between fashion icon Sammi Rudolph and Air Force Major General Paula Trainer, who will be the highest profile lesbian service member to get married since Don't Ask, Don't Tell was formally repealed last September."
Daria shook her head. "Damn, Paula hates it every time they bring that up. She just wants to get married. The only high profile example she wants to be is as a good officer."
The announcer continued, "Absolutely nobody gets in or out of Gotham Hall without permission. Rumor has it that the Best Matron's husband, Reese Wyatt, has called in a few favors to assemble a security team led by Mr. Wyatt's long-time friend and flying wingman, Col. Lyle Wallister. Rumors are also circulating that Col. Wallister will soon retire from the Air National Guard to run for Congress."
Shaking her head, Daria grabbed the remote and turned off the television. "Right now, I'm glad that my first book didn't become a bestseller. The media would be crawling all over us, too."
Carrying the filled suitcase, Michael walked through the living room toward the door. "We can have the media madhouse for your second book."
"Thanks, I love you too," Daria replied.
Michael laughed as he closed the door.
Daria went to the kitchen refrigerator and took out a package of tuna. At the first sound of the wrapping being opened, both cats appeared at her feet, impatiently waiting for their treat.
"Just a moment, your highnesses. Just a moment," Daria said. She divided the tuna equally onto two plates and then set them on the floor mat beside two regular food bowls and a water bowl. "Hopefully this will placate your displeasure at our absence."
Neither cat responded as they concentrated on their meal.
Daria smiled. "Success," she said to Michael when he came back into the house.
With the cats occupied, they scanned the house for anything that they had forgotten to pack for the trip. He said, "I think we're ready."
"Until we remember something right after it is too late to turn back for it."
"One of the joys of travel: 'What will we have to buy along the way?'"
"No epi-pens this time, right?"
Michael patted his left front pocket. "Right here."
"Not like I've ever forgotten it before or anything."
Both of them went back to the cats and squatted next to them. Daria scratched Bump behind the ears while Michael rubbed the bridge of Sissy's nose.
Daria said, "Please don't trash the house while we're gone. My friend Cat will stop by tomorrow to check on you and then we'll be back sometime on Sunday."
Bump looked up. "Reroewr."
"Okay, just take some pity on your poor staff and not make too much of a mess."
Michael said, "We need to get on the road if we want to get through airport security on time."
Daria stood and said, "See you in a couple of days, you brats."
Michael also stood. "And don't worry; we will bring proper offerings when we return."
Nonchalant, Bump meowed at them and went back to her tuna.
"We've been dismissed," Daria said. "Let's go."
"Squirrel!" Sissy meowed as she jumped up onto one of the front window sills. Outside, a gray squirrel clung to an oak tree in the front yard and stared at the window, barking.
Bump jumped up to join Sissy. "Ah, it's Spaz Tail. I wonder if Bright Ears will show."
"She's on the paper-trading box."
Bump looked to the mailbox at the end of the driveway to see another squirrel perched, munching on an acorn. "I bet she's still mad about yesterday."
Sissy said, "Spaz Tail can be such an idiot."
"Oooh," Bump said. "Vine Runner just crossed the street. He's going to make a play for her."
"This is going to be good. Wait, we can see them better from the comfy chair room!" Sissy said with rising excitement before jumping to the floor and running down the hallway.
Bump hurried after and joined Sissy on the sofa back in the library that looked out onto the front yard. "Much better," she said.
"Yeah, Spaz Tail is mad. Look at how fast he's running over there," Sissy said.
"This should be a great chase scene."
Sissy's ears perked up at the muffled squirrel bark. "I don't think that's anatomically possible."
"Yes! Starting off with a tree spiral."
In the yard, the two angry squirrels chased each other up and down an oak tree, spiraling up and down and using the branches to try to gain an advantage on the other. Without a pause or hesitation, one squirrel leapt to a branch on a nearby tree and dashed toward the trunk.
Bump said, "Nice move."
The second squirrel made the jump, but had a bad landing that caused him to scramble to prevent a fall.
Sissy said, "That will cost him."
"But he still has Vine Runner on the run."
The two squirrels now chased each other on the ground, making occasional bank shots off of tree trunks for faster cornering.
Sissy said, "Good chase today."
"Best one in at least a month," Bump replied.
"They're going around back!" Sissy said as the squirrels made a break to a side yard.
The pair of cats ran out of the library and across the hall to the master bedroom. They used the king-sized bed for extra bounce to get up onto the side window. Bump looked out and said, "Keep going!"
Another bounce off of the bed brought them to the second window in the room. "There they are!" Sissy said as she looked out.
One squirrel was perched on a wrought iron outdoor table, screeching down at the second squirrel sitting upright on one of the chairs.
Bump said, "Great show today."
"Oh, that was nasty," Sissy said, reacting to the squirrel calls.
With a burst, the first squirrel leaped at the second and both were once again committed to a chase over ground, up, in and around trees and just about anything else that happened to be in their way. Meanwhile, the two cats sat and watched in rapt fascination.
Ultimately, one squirrel jumped to a power pole and made a fast exit across the street on a power line.
Sissy said, "Spaz Tail wins the day."
"For now," Bump said. "I wonder if Bright Ears waited around."
"Let's find out," Sissy said.
At a more leisurely pace, the cats returned to the living room and looked outside. All that was in the yard was a mockingbird hopping around in the grass, stopping from time to time to spread its wings and scare up insects.
"Gone," Sissy said.
Bump yawned. "Then she was still mad. After all that, I need a nap."
Sissy said, "A nap sounds good."
The cats went their separate ways, Bump to curl up on the bed in the master bedroom and Sissy to sleep on one of the computer chairs in the home office.
As she closed her eyes, Sissy said, "Good show today."
The evening passed with nothing out of the ordinary for the cats: batting around the various cat toys, such as the catnip-laced fake mice, climbing one or both of the rug-covered cat towers in the house, watching the surrounding scenery or, very importantly, taking much-needed naps.
The next day, after a late morning snack of the salmon-flavored kibble left in two bowls, Bump decided to let her curiosity wander and follow it around. Knowing that her sister's curiosity usually led them to interesting places, Sissy trailed after.
Daria's closet door was cracked open, beckoning the cat's curiosity. Bump slowly entered and looked around in the low light of the cluttered space. Along the floor were a pair of big, fuzzy slippers, some dress flats that were rarely worn, some well-worn sneakers, tall buccaneer boots and finally, a set of very old but carefully maintained lace-up boots.
Above that, various dresses, skirts, shirts, and slacks hung from hangers while boxes were stacked at one end of the closet. That stack led to the always-enticing top shelf. "Onward!" Bump exclaimed before climbing the boxes.
"Right behind you," Sissy said, happily following.
Bump squeezed along the narrow edge of the shelf, sniffing and looking around. Each tiny nook and cranny had to be investigated. Feline curiosity allowed for nothing to be overlooked.
Sissy crawled into one of the niches and looked out over the bedroom, appreciating the elevated view. The king-sized bed they generously allowed the humans to use every evening, nightstands that flanked the bed and a pair of large dressers that matched the nightstands. From here, she could see more enticing things on those dressers.
Outside, a silver Corvette pulled into the driveway and a tall woman stepped out. Prof. Catherine 'Cat' Handel sorted through keys as she walked to the front door. There, she brushed a strand of blond hair away from her eyes and unlocked the door. "I wonder what Daria's cats are up to."
The sound of the door lock overruled all curiosity in the felines. Being closer, Sissy climbed down the boxes to the floor. Once Sissy was clear, Bump jumped down to the midpoint of the stacked boxes and, in the process, caught the handle of a small shopping bag around her neck.
The contents fell away to the carpet and the sudden weight frightened Bump. "It's got me!" she yowled. As soon as she was solidly on the ground, she sprinted out of the room.
Sissy said, "What?" and turned around to see the confused mass of cat and bag going down the hallway. Realizing what had happened, she ran to watch the amusement unfold.
Cat opened the door to see Bump speeding across the living room, bag still tangled around her neck and bouncing against her side and Sissy running behind. "Oh, dear," Cat said, rushing to join the chase.
Bump turned and went into the kitchen, sideswiping the small trash can. When it fell, Cat was thankful that it had been emptied before Daria and Michael had left. Bump quickly turned around in the kitchen and sped past Cat.
"Drat," she said, spinning to follow. For a moment, it almost seemed to Cat that the meow from Sissy sounded like a laugh.
Cat chased Bump back through the living room and into the home office. As Bump made the turn around Michael's office chair, the other bag handle caught one of the casters, dragging her to a sudden stop.
"Help!" Bump meowed, now fully panicked by the perceived attack.
Cat dove and captured the cat. "Gotcha!" she said as Bump tried to wiggle free. Holding firm to Bump's midsection, she pulled the bag back over the feline's head. Letting go, she said, "There you go."
Bump ran about six feet and then turned around to hiss at the motionless bag.
"No thanks necessary," Cat said. "It's all part of the service."
Sissy entered and meowed again. Bump turned and, with another meow, leapt after her sister. They disappeared down the hallway and Cat said, "There has to be a story behind that."
Noticing the "First Coast Costumes" logo on the bag, Cat chuckled and grabbed the bag. "I bet that there is a story behind you, too."
Standing, she started to inspect the house for damage. In the kitchen, she stood the trash can back up and in the living room, roughly restacked a pile of magazines and journals that she figured had probably been on the coffee table.
Going through the rest of the house, Cat found nothing until she noticed a neatly-folded bundle of fabric on the floor near a bedroom closet. "Hmm, that looks out of place. Hopefully, I can figure out where it goes." When she picked up the bundle, Cat found that it contained a white blouse, black miniskirt, checkered tie, black belt and a black police utility vest.
The contents made Cat smirk in amusement. "Now I know what was in the bag. And I would bet that I can find a centurion's costume in your hubby's closet." She set the bundle into the bag and, taking a guess, placed it on the floor near the open closet door. "I think I'll just pretend that I didn't notice when I checked on everything."
Going back out of the room, she chuckled. "I have to admit that the look of embarrassment on Daria's face if I mention it will be priceless."
Back to the kitchen, Cat rinsed out the water bowl and refilled it from the sink. Next, she retrieved a bag of cat food from a lower cabinet. Inside the bag, she located a measuring cup and, using it, placed a precise amount of food into each bowl. "That should hold you two until your humans return tomorrow."
From somewhere unseen by Cat, Sissy appeared and attacked her bowl. Cat stepped away and, with her composure restored, Bump slowly and elegantly walked to her bowl to feed.
"I see that I have been accepted," Cat said.
Seated on the back of the sofa, Bump and Sissy watched the Corvette drive away. Bump said, "We will never talk about the bag incident again."
Sissy said, "Never, ever..."
Bump turned. "Sissy…"
The other cat jumped and ran. "It's too funny!"
Bump leapt after her sister. "I'm still bigger than you!"
With that, the chase was on. Back to the bedroom, over, around and then under the bed they went. Changing course, Sissy ran into the office where she could weave around the office chairs and desks. However, Bump cut her off and avoided the obstacles, forcing Sissy to spin around and bolt back out of the room and down the hallway to the living room.
The cats made a path over the coffee table, under the sofa and a circle around a floor lamp. As Sissy made a dash for the kitchen, Bump correctly predicted her sister's move and cut her off with a pounce.
Sissy squeaked from the impact and rolled, trying to get away. Persistent, Bump used her larger size to pin Sissy. Despite every squirm and dodge, Sissy was not able to get loose.
Bump said, "We never talk about the bag incident."
"I will not talk about the bag incident."
"Okay," Bump said, letting Sissy loose.
Sissy stood and stretched. Teasing, she then said, "But you looked fabulous wearing it!" as she darted away.
"Sissy!" Bump cried out, giving chase once again.
"Are you sure?" Sissy said.
"Patience," Bump said as she gently pawed at the edge of a kitchen cabinet door. With just the tips of her claws extended, she caught the edge of the door and it cracked open. Shifting back on three legs, Bump succeeded in opening the cabinet door.
Sissy immediately stuck her nose in and looked around. "There it is!"
Bump pushed her head in, further opening the door to reveal a small plastic bag filled with a green herb. She grabbed the bag in her mouth and pulled it out onto the floor. Sissy grasped the other end and both pulled while also clawing at the plastic. In less than a minute, the bag ripped and the contents spilled out.
Both cats stopped and inhaled deeply as the scent of catnip filled the air. It was going to be a good night.
Driven by the morning sea breeze, a few raindrops hit the window the next day, waking up Sissy from her well-earned nap. Still feeling a little dizzy, Sissy looked out and saw that the sky had turned to an ugly, dark gray. Her ears flattened as the breeze turned into a strong wind and the few drops became a steady, and then a heavy, rain.
Distant thunder made the hair on her back stand up. Sissy also backed away and dropped down to the floor to watch the window. Curious, Bump walked over. "What?"
"The sky is angry."
To emphasize Sissy's point, blue light flashed through the window and the brutal thump of the thunderclap struck less than a second later. Bump and Sissy howled and fled from the window to find cover under the bed.
Bump said, "That was close."
"Very close," Sissy said.
"I think we should stay here."
With the next crash of thunder, the cats retreated further under the bed.
"Gah!" Daria cried. She rushed inside the house with Michael right behind her as they completed the rain-soaked dash from their car.
"Who ordered this weather?" he said as he folded the umbrella they had shared.
"Not me," Daria said, going to a box of tissues so that she could clean her water-specked glasses.
Michael also grabbed a tissue to clear his glasses. "I say that we get the suitcases later."
"I'd say that you were a reasonably intelligent man."
"Why, thank you."
Daria saw the cats slowly and nonchalantly walk toward them from the bedroom. "Ah, our masters have noticed our presence."
"I can tell by their overwhelming enthusiasm." Michael said. "Like nothing at all has happened."
Bump and Sissy stopped just out of reach, forcing Daria and Michael to lean over to pet them. Daria said, "We have returned to serve you, oh house goddesses."
"But you're going to have to wait on the tuna. We left it out in the car," Michael said. "I hope you can understand."
At that moment, lightning flashed in the window and the following thunder shook the glass. Bump meowed and jumped up into Daria's arms while Sissy squeaked and glued herself to Michael's ankle.
Holding Bump, Daria said, "Don't worry, we're home."
Thanks to Louise Lobinske and Kristen Bealer for beta reading.