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. Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) lyrics by Annie Lennox and David A. Stewart.
This is a sequel to Falling Into College.
United States Air Force Lieutenant General Paula Trainer and her wife, Sammi Rudolph, reclined on separate sofas while alternating opening packages. With both of them in their ninth month of pregnancy, they took their time.
Sammi said, "I remember that from high school. It seems so long ago."
Paula chuckled. "It was. When this song was on the charts, I was a new lieutenant in the Air Force."
"Overachiever," Sammi teased. "You live to be a first."
"Oh yeah, I love the newspapers declaring that I'm the first general to take maternity leave. It makes me feel special."
"I think you are."
Sammi read the card on a gift she was opening. "Speaking of romantics, this one is from Daria and Michael." Seeing what was inside, she said, "Oh, they're stretching the definition of paper anniversary. It's a stack of real calfskin vellum, maybe a dozen sheets."
"We need to remember their anniversary later this month; I believe it's their tenth."
Sammi set aside the gift and used a smartphone to check her calendar. "You're right, ten years on the 26th."
"Look at us. Already one year since our little wedding."
Paula rolled her eyes. "Little? Amy damn well made sure to make up for all the effort I put into hers and you egged her on every step of the way."
"As if you didn't enjoy Amy's husband Reese flying us to New York in that rickety old WWII bomber."
"Fifi was by no means rickety and let's be honest it was an excuse for Reese and Lyle to get behind the yokes of a classic."
"You still enjoyed it."
"Yes, I enjoyed it, though I'm afraid to think about how much Reese had to donate to get permission to fly her."
"I think he said enough to pay for an entire touring season."
"Which brings me back to you saying that our wedding was little."
Wearing a floppy hat, old t-shirt, cut-off shorts and flip-flops, Michael Fulton smiled at remembering his wife saying that he had 'gone native' while living in Florida. Returning from a trip to the store, he parked his blue sedan in the driveway next to his wife's newer model, green hybrid. He picked up a handled bag marked with the Viva Florida 500 logo and jogged through the summer heat to get inside.
"I'm home," he called while going to the kitchen.
Daria joined him to help unpack the bag. "Thanks," she said, giving him a kiss on the cheek.
"I was getting hungry anyway, but I'll take it," he said, giving her a kiss in return.
After Daria pulled a few items from the refrigerator, all the necessary ingredients for a Sunday brunch of bacon, mushroom and Swiss burgers were assembled on the counter.
Forming burger patties, Michael said, "Do we have a clue yet?"
"Clue about what?" Daria said, though she suspected.
"What we're going to do for our anniversary? It's only 24 days away."
"No. Between me getting rooked into taking over as an academic journal editor and you being neck-deep in the 500th anniversary of the state's discovery, when have either of us had time to think?"
"We have this morning?"
"Oh hell, why not?" Daria said, though Michael could tell by her voice the sarcasm was playful.
"It's really too late to plan a return trip to Paris."
"I'll skip the hassle of international travel this time around."
"Okay, domestic it is. We could copy Karen and Derek's tenth and go to Key West."
"You know that was Karen indulging his Parrothead affliction. Otherwise, it's beach entertainment and we have that all around us."
"True. The Atlantis display opens at the Kennedy Space Center."
"You know me and crowds."
"Good point. Hey, how about a museum crawl of the Smithsonian? Doing that was always a good break during grad school."
"Hmm, that has possibilities."
"We could bug your Aunt Amy and I'm sure your folks would like to see us."
"Okay, deal. It's your turn to book the travel."
Seated in her office at Tennyson University, Dr. Amy Barksdale-Wyatt leaned back in her chair as she spoke on the telephone. "So tell me, Paula, how is the whole 'getting it over for both of you at once' idea holding up?"
"It's been a challenge, but I think it worked barely. On the plus side, we could share and understand our mutual problems since each of us was feeling it ourselves. On the down side, I don't know if the double bitchiness makes up for halving the total time of bitchiness."
"I still can't believe that you are doing this for me."
"Once I get through all this, we'll call it even for how much you egged on Sammi over the wedding."
"Okay, we have a deal," Amy said. "How are you two doing?"
"Counting the days until we are due and hoping we don't run late."
"Don't you forget that you can call me or Reese at any time and I mean any time. If we can't get to you immediately, one of the girls can drive over."
"Either of them behind the wheel should scare us into labor, especially after you let that overgrown good old boy Daniel St. John teach them."
"They are well-trained to handle any emergency situation," Amy said.
"As well as any kind of stunt from a Hal Needham movie."
Amy grinned. "Yes, and they can do them safely."
"Oh, and I heard from Daria she and Michael will be in town for their anniversary. I'm sure that they will want to see you."
"If we haven't delivered by then, sure. Do you have any more details?"
"They're arriving on Saturday and leaving on Friday. To quote Daria, 'We want to get the hell out of Dodge before the Fourth of July crowd arrives.'"
"Still a smart woman."
Carrying a shared laptop computer while Michael brought their carryon luggage, Daria searched through the crowd at Dulles International Airport until she saw her father's graying temples. "There they are," she said.
Jake spotted them and waved. "Over here!"
With the expected jostling and bumping of getting through a thick crowd, Daria and Michael finally reached Jake and Helen.
Her hair also showing a streak of gray, Helen pulled Daria into a hug. "Sweetie."
Jake shook Michael's hand. "How are you doing, my man?"
"Good, Jake. How about you?"
"Starting to feel my age a bit," he joked.
"You're looking good, Jake."
"He is," Helen said, winking at her husband.
Daria muttered, "You two have gotten worse since Quinn and I moved out."
Helen whispered back, "Thank you, Sweetie."
"So, where are we going to eat? I'm starving," Michael asked.
Daria gently laughed and said, "Could you imagine the high school me eating at a place like this?"
The four of them were seated in a fine restaurant between Washington D.C. and the airport. Helen smiled back. "It's certainly no Chez Pierre."
"Snooty bunch of " Jake mumbled, then stopped, looking up with a grin. "It's fun to drive by and see Bubba Q's Whole Hog Pigout in the building."
"That sounds so much classier," Daria said.
Helen said, "And a temptation to your father."
"Hey, I've been good," he said in defense. "I only eat there once per month."
"Yes, you have, dear, and I appreciate it."
Michael said, "Are you looking forward to retiring next month?"
She nodded. "I will miss working with lawyers from across the state, but I'm ready. Don't think that I'm going to be slowing down, though. Retirement means that I'll have more time to devote to what's important."
"Like spending time out at Quinn's playing with little Jacob?" Daria asked.
"Of course. Now, don't tell me that you don't enjoy seeing your nephew."
"Yes, and I enjoy handing him back to Quinn, too."
"What about your sister, Gina?" Helen asked. "Any children on the way?"
"She and Ashton are still getting their feet on the ground, but probably sometime in the next couple of years," Michael said. "I know she's looking forward to it. So is Mom."
"Mom is keeping busy, but with the poor economy in Detroit, Dad's work has been hit or miss, mostly surveying foreclosures and short sales."
"They're determined to make it. Detroit is their home and they're going to stay put to help it back up."
"Good for them," Jake said.
Daria said, "On the subject of staying put, are you still looking at selling your house?"
"Yes, we are," Helen said. "You and Quinn had to make life difficult by moving to opposite sides of the country."
"When have we ever made things easy for you?" Daria said.
"Just about never."
Having just left the Hirshhorn Museum, Michael plopped down next to Daria on one of the many benches linking the National Mall. "How about some lunch?" he asked.
"Sounds good to me," Daria said. "Is it your turn to find something or mine?"
"Yours. I found that waffle house for breakfast."
"Yeah, and my arteries are still complaining about the slug of cholesterol I ate."
"It was bad, but it was good."
Daria smirked. "It was," she said, activating her smartphone to start searching. When her browser loaded, she noticed the news headline. "Wow, I'm sure Paula and Sammi will have something to talk about when we see them tomorrow."
Daria showed him the phone. The news headline read, "Defense of Marriage Act Repealed."
"'Wow' is a good word for it."
Daria looked down the Mall. "I wonder how many heads are exploding around town."
Michael cupped a hand over one ear and pretended to listen. "Hey, it sounds like popcorn."
"Mentioning popcorn made me even hungrier." Daria tapped the restaurant finder app. "Hmm, how about The Downtown DC Diner?"
"Not sure if there's enough alliteration. What's in its favor?"
"The app says, 'Classic diner meals that have been a lunchtime favorite of DC residents and workers for the last twenty years.' If they've made it twenty years without the health department closing them down, they must be doing something right."
"Like bribing the inspectors?"
"That's something. Well?"
"Sure. We'll eat like real bureaucrats."
"That's the spirit."
Looking out of the hotel window while speaking on the phone, Daria said, "We decided to skip going out to a fancy restaurant and called up room service instead."
At home in California's Napa Valley, Quinn said, "It's your anniversary. How could you skip a good restaurant and order oh. Sheesh, Daria. You two are as bad as Mom and Dad."
"Now, now. Michael and I do not have matching horse and jockey costumes."
"I'm not the one who dropped by to see Mom and Dad without calling ahead."
"I was scarred for life."
"At least they just hadn't gotten around to putting the costumes away. They could have been wearing them."
"Do you want to know what kind of costumes we do have?"
"Never tell me that. Ever. Do you understand?"
Daria chuckled. "Yep, I've still got it."
"I know how to press your buttons. Now, how is little Jacob?"
Quinn perked up. "He's getting into everything he can. Never underestimate the energy of a toddler. I can barely keep up with him."
"Sounds like my freshman students."
"You know you like it."
"I get through to a couple of them a year."
"You were hooked from the first day you filled in for Mr. O'Neill."
"You're not too far off," Daria said. "That gave me the idea for the double major."
"So Ms. Li really did do something that had a positive effect on you."
"I can assure you it was strictly unintentional."
Quinn quickly said, "Um, Daria, I need to run. Jacob is about to make a mess."
"Go get him," Daria said. "Thanks for the call."
"Have fun and happy anniversary. Bye."
Michael walked over. "How is your sister?"
"The usual. She's a happy mom." Daria looked toward the room service tray. "There is a bottle of champagne that we haven't opened yet."
Michael smiled. "That can be corrected."
Seated beside Daria on a sofa, Michael chuckled and said, "I'm picturing you, Amy and that poor Canadian Mountie knee-deep in spilled guacamole."
Daria said, "I'm worried that someone had stockpiled that much guacamole in Canada."
Paula said, "You have to understand, it was the eighties."
Sammi said, "Paula, dear, that doesn't explain much."
Paula replied, "As much as it explains shoulder pads on women's clothing."
Michael said to Daria, "No doubt that they're Amy's friends, and our kind of people."
Paula said, "Michael, I heard that you learned to SCUBA dive."
"Part of the job," he said. "The Spanish, the British, the French, and the Confederates all of them lost ships off the Florida coast. As a State Archeologist, I get to oversee the excavations. You can't do that from shore or on the deck of a boat."
"Don't let him fool you," Daria said. "It was an excuse to learn how to play with new toys."
"Are you going to join him?" Paula asked.
"I'm good watching from a beach chair under an umbrella while holding a nice, cold drink."
Sammi said, "That sounds like Amy."
"Genetics," Michael said.
Uneasily standing, Sammi said, "Excuse me."
Everyone nodded as Sammi made her way to the bathroom.
Daria said, "So, I'm sure that you're pleased about yesterday's DOMA ruling."
Paula nodded. "One more important step. Given time, it should mean that military spouses will receive full dependents' benefits. Given more time, even the state restrictions will be addressed."
"I hope so," Michael said. "Though I'm afraid that there's going to be a fight."
"You can bet on that," Paula said.
The bathroom door cracked open and Sammi said, "Excuse me."
"What is it, dear?" Paula said.
"I'm afraid that we may have to impose on Daria and Michael. My water just broke."
Daria and Michael looked at each other and she said, "You called it."
Standing, Paula said, "Did you two bet on one or the other of us going into labor today?"
"With our track record, how could we not?" Daria said.
Paula smiled and shook her head. "Of course. Do you mind?"
"Not at all," Daria said. "I'll get our rental car and meet you at the front door."
Michael said, "Point me to what needs to be carried. I still have a reasonably strong back."
"Thank you," Paula said. Going to her partner, she added, "You're in good hands."
While Daria drove, Paula stayed with Sammi in the back seat. "You're doing fine," Paula said.
"I don't feel fine," Sammi replied.
Seated in the passenger seat, Michael held his phone to his ear. "Sorry that we're going to miss dinner, Reese, but I'm sure that you understand."
He listened and said, "Tomorrow then, and I'll let them know. Bye."
Daria said, "Sounds like we're good."
"Rescheduled for tomorrow and they send their best wishes to Sammi."
Paula's eyes widened and she said, "Daria, I hope you purchased insurance on this rental."
"I just made a mess back here and Michael, could you please call Reese back and tell them that I'm joining Sammi?"
"Oh, my," he said.
Daria looked around at the traffic she was working through. "No pressure."
Amy rushed across the waiting room to Daria and Michael. "How are they doing?"
Daria said, "Last word was that everything was going smoothly. Don't ask me how they did it, but the staff moved two beds into one delivery room so that they could be together."
Reese said, "They said that they wanted to experience everything together and it looks like they're getting their wish."
Amy said, "Reese!"
"It's true. Anyone else would have sympathy pains. Paula has real labor. Always the overachiever."
"You're not helping."
Reese put his arm around Amy. "I know you're nervous, just trying a little levity here."
She leaned against him. "Okay, that's helping."
Michael said, "Since we're probably going to be here a while, why don't we get some dinner? You know, to keep up our energy."
Daria said, "Thinking with your stomach, as usual, but you have a point. Amy?"
She nodded. "Make sure that the nurses know."
"I'll take care of it," Michael said, getting up and going to the nurse station.
"So much for having you over to our place for dinner," Reese said. "I think the next few months are going to be very busy for us. Make that, years."
Watching his wife pace back and forth in the family waiting area, Reese leaned over and whispered to Daria, "Amy is not known for her patience."
Daria whispered back, "Yeah, but I think I can cut her some slack this time. You seem awfully calm."
"I've been through this before when the girls were born. I'll also let you in on a fighter pilot's trick we hide our nervousness well."
"So, do you have to kill me now?"
"Nah, you'll just have the NSA following you for the rest of your life."
"That'll be a boring assignment for them."
Using a brass-tipped cane, an elderly gentleman with close-cropped, silver hair entered the room and said, "If you try, you can make any assignment interesting."
Reese rose and shook the man's hand. "Capt. Trainor."
"Any word on my granddaughter and her lovely wife?" Lincoln Trainor asked.
"Last news was good, but still waiting, sir," Reese said. "Have a seat?"
"Thank you, I will. These old bones aren't what they used to be." At the seat next to Daria that Reese had just vacated, he said, "May I?"
"Sure," Daria said. "Nice to meet you again, Mr. Trainor."
"Please call me Lin," he said. "Forgive me if I don't remember your name. I met so many people at the wedding."
"Daria, and this is my husband, Michael. We were visiting Paula and Sammi when they went into labor."
Michael offered his hand. "Good to see you again."
"And you," Lin said, shaking his hand. After sitting, he turned and said, "My dear Amy, how are you holding up?"
"I'm a nervous wreck," Amy said.
"Paula will be fine. She's a tough girl and if I remember correctly, this was her idea."
"She's doing it for me and I agreed to it. Therefore, I'm entitled to be a nervous wreck."
"I won't argue any further."
"You know me well enough."
"I should hope so by now."
Daria said, "You don't seem to be too nervous."
Reese said, "What did I tell you about pilots?"
Lin shrugged. "Guilty. Paula had to get the bug from somewhere."
Michael said, "Air Force?"
Lin smiled and shook his head. "Army Air Force."
Reese pointed at him and said, "You're talking to history. Capt. Trainor is a Tuskegee Airman."
"Wow," Michael said.
"I always wanted to fly and General Davis gave us a chance. I flew bomber escort thirty-nine missions over Germany in Forty-Five. Almost didn't make it back from my last one."
"Go on, Lin," Reese said. "You know you want to tell the story."
"Weather delayed the mission start and so it was late in the day as we flew back. After we traded off escort duty, we searched for targets of opportunity on the ground as we flew home. A pair of Me-262s jumped us from out of the low sun and crippled my leader's plane. I rolled in behind one of the Stormbirds and knocked out an engine as it tried to line my leader up for a kill, sending him down. The other turned around and came at me head-on, I suppose thinking to take out the undamaged plane before finishing off the cripple. I rolled clear and forced him into a tight dogfight. By the time we were done, he was riding the silk while I was barely in the air. I'd lost a chunk of my rudder, a couple of feet off my left wingtip and my hydraulics were gone. I had to belly-in to Ramatelli and spent the rest of the war on the ground waiting for a replacement.
"I always felt something kept me alive that day. Maybe it was so that I could see Paula and Sammi walk down the aisle. I don't know, but I like to think so. After all, isn't that why we were fighting?"
"As noble of a reason as any," Daria said.
"It's amazing the history that can be in the same room with you and not know it," Michael said. "Daria's grandfather was one of the Chosen Few in Korea."
Lin said, "Really? We had it easy compared to them."
Daria nodded. "I found some audio recordings of him when I was an undergrad. It scarred my grandfather and...let's say the experience wasn't as positive for him."
"I'm sorry, Daria."
A nurse entered and said, "Party for Ms. Rudolph?"
"Yes," Michael answered.
"I'm happy to tell you that she delivered a healthy son." The nurse checked a note card. "David Lincoln Rudolph-Trainor."
"That's a mouthful," Michael said.
Reese said, "Congratulations, Lin."
"Thanks. Miss, what about my granddaughter, Paula?"
The nurse sighed. "She's having a more difficult delivery."
Amy talked on her phone, saying, "Sorry Rita, no change since the last time you called. Paula's still in labor. No, they haven't said anything to us about a C-section; they're still trying for a regular delivery. Sammi and little David are in the room with her, so Paula has some on-hand support. We're hanging together in the waiting room. I'll keep you and Helen updated as I know more. Goodbye, and thanks."
Lin said, "This is taking almost as long as when Paula's father was born."
Michael held up a magazine. "At least they have better reading material than the place where our friend Karen had her daughter." Responding to the odd looks, he added, "Hey, I can only talk about what I know and I have no experience with childbirth besides waiting outside as a friend."
Amy said, "Michael, you and Daria really don't have to stay."
"We drove them here," Daria said. "I think we have a vested interest in how this turns out. Besides, I can help out. I'll call Mom with the latest update if you need a break."
"Oh, thank you," Amy said, very relieved.
Reese put his arm around her. "Come on, why don't we sit down for a little while. I think you're wearing through the linoleum."
She rested her head on his shoulder. "If you insist."
Daria dialed her phone and waited. Finally hearing a pickup, she said, "Hi, Mom. I'm calling with the latest update on Paula, which is basically no change."
Michael yawned and checked his watch. "After midnight."
His arm around Amy, Reese held his finger up to his lips and silently mouthed, "She's asleep."
Michael nodded in reply. Daria had nodded off in the chair next to him while Lin sat to the other side, reading a magazine.
A new nurse entered the room. "Party for Trainor?"
Lin motioned for quiet while pointing to the sleeping women. "News?" he whispered.
"Ms. Trainor and Ms. Rudolph have agreed to a Caesarean section delivery for Ms. Trainor to avoid further risk to mother and child. She is being prepared for surgery and we will keep you informed as we have more information."
His face showing concern, Reese whispered, "Thank you."
After the nurse left, Michael whispered, "You're not hiding it as well."
"The threat level just went up. Now, excuse me." Reese nudged his wife. "Amy. Amy."
"Hmm?" Amy's eyes blinked open. "News?"
"Paula is being prepped for a C-section."
Amy hugged him close. "Dammit."
"It's been almost two hours," Amy said. "I never should have agreed to Paula's suggestion."
Lin said, "Don't be hard on yourself, Amy. This was something she wanted to do for her best friend."
"I could have said no. She would be fine now if I had. No, instead I had to let my selfishness take over. I already have two wonderful daughters, but no, I had to insist on a biological daughter. And because of that, my best friend is in danger."
"Paula will be fine," Lin said. "I know my little girl."
"It shouldn't take this long."
"It will take as long as it needs to take," Lin said.
"You're far more patient that I am."
Lin gently said, "With a granddaughter like Paula, I had to be."
The same nurse that had informed them of the procedure entered the room. "Mr. and Mrs. Wyatt?"
Amy anxiously said, "Yes?"
Smiling, she said, "Would you like to see your daughter?"
Amy jumped up. "They're okay?"
"Both are doing fine."
"Ms. Trainor said that you have chosen a name for her?"
Rising, Reese said, "Yes, we have."
"Follow me, please." To the others, she said, "You will be able to see them at family viewing, down the hall and the first door on the left."
Lin waved through the viewing window and, looking weak, Paula smiled and waved back at him. Seated beside her, Amy sat, gently holding an infant in her arms. The joy and love on her face were unmistakable.
Not wanting to disturb Amy or Paula, Reese went over to the window and pressed the microphone button. "Say hello to Hope Celeste Wyatt."
Daria smiled and said, "Hope, how appropriate."
Michael said, "I'm surprised that Amy didn't want to honor Paula in naming her."
Reese said, "Oh, she did, but Paula wouldn't stand for it."
"That's my granddaughter," Lin said.
"But her son's middle name is yours."
Lin smiled. "Still my granddaughter."
Reese then waved his hand toward Sammi and her son in the bed next to Paula. She held the child to her breast with one arm while holding Paula's hand with the other. Seeing the attention, Sammi released Paula's hand long enough to wave and smile at the visitors.
Daria yawned widely and shook her head. "Sorry, folks."
"It is late," Reese said. "Why don't you and Michael go back to your hotel? We can handle things from here." After listening to Amy for a second, he said, "And everyone says thank you for all you've done."
Daria nodded and waved. "You're welcome. With all of this, I think we're going to postpone our next trip to see Karen and Derek until after their baby is born."
"We seem to have a knack for drawing kids out, don't we," Michael said.
Daria groaned. "On that note, good night, everyone."
"You set that one up," Michael said. "Good night, and happy birthdays."
Back at their hotel, Daria cuddled against Michael as they lay on the bed. "That was a unique way to finish off our vacation again. Im glad that Amy, Paula and Sammi are happy."
"They looked happy," he said. "Why do I sense that this has you thinking?"
"You know me."
"What Paula was willing to do for her friend, and how grateful Amy was for the gesture."
"You're just as loyal to your friends."
"I don't think that I would carry a child for one."
"But you'll do almost anything else for them, just like they'll do almost anything for you. Look at everything you've already done for each other."
"You know what?"
Daria kissed him. "Or I could look at what you've done for me."
"The feeling's mutual," Michael said, followed by a yawn.
"It's late. Why don't we get some sleep?"
"Sounds good. Mind a bit of music?"
Michael turned on the clock radio and turned off the light.
Daria snuggled closer. "Good night."
As they drifted off to sleep, the radio played.
July October 2013
Thanks to Louise Lobinske and Kristen Bealer for beta reading.