The Passion Club
NOTE: This story originally contained explicit adult content and was edited by the author. The story appears here without any further editing on the part of the webmaster or anyone else besides the original creator of the story.
If you wish to read the uncensored, NC-17 version, check out Lawndale After Dark at the following link:http://lawndale.friedmonkey.com/fanfic/gystex42.html
"Oh hi, Matthew!
"Well Matthew, that sounds like a really fun idea and all, but I don't know that I'm ready to make such an important decision yet. It is, after all, my first Junior Homecoming.
"Well, does it have a moonroof?
"Oops! That's my call waiting. Let me get back to you."
"Hello? Oh, hello Sandi.
"Tonight? Well of course I can make it!
"No, he was just a filler date, you know, in case nothing else came up.
"Yes, I know how important the meeting is, that's why I only made a filler date! What's on the agenda?
"You know, what we're going to talk about.
"Homecoming? We're not doing the whole float thing again, are we? I still can't get some of the exhaust stains out of that outfit.
"Oh no, Sandi, I would never suggest that it was your fault.
"Oops, is that my call waiting? I gotta go, Sandi, but I'll be there tonight. Bye!"
Quinn hung up the phone. There wasn't anyone on call waiting, of course, but sometimes that was the quickest way to get rid of Sandi. Besides, it gave the proper image of overwhelming popularity to suggest that she got a call from someone else every ten minutes (which wasn't actually that far from the truth).
She sighed. The problem with overwhelming popularity was that it was sometimes overwhelming. Sometimes Quinn wished she did have just a single boyfriend, someone who was perfect for her, who she could call and talk to about what she really felt way down deep. She even found herself envying her sister, of all people. Daria had a boyfriend, and not only that, but he was rich, handsome, witty, they had everything in common, and she had the satisfaction of knowing she had stolen him from someone else. Funny how Daria didn't see that one as a plus. Maybe it was because she felt bad about hurting her friend.
And there was another jealous point. Daria had such a good friend in Jane, and the closest Quinn had to that was Sandi. Not that Quinn wanted to hang around with Jane, she was too weird and she had no fashion sense and her house was just creepy, but she was envious of the friendship.
Quinn checked the clock. Ten minutes to six. She had a good hour to kill before the club meeting, which was scheduled at seven, but everyone always showed up fashionably late. Since her outfit for the evening was already decided on (pink long-sleeved tee with exposed midriff, jeans with a flare at the cuffs) there wasn't much to do but kick back and read up on Waif's Homecoming issue. She'd already read it twice, but there might be some subtleties in the fashion spread that she'd missed the first time.
Quinn loved to look over the fashion spreads, and not just because of the outfits. The models always had such expression, in their pose, their faces, their eyes. Quinn wished she could do that. Her attempts at modeling always seemed to end in disaster. But those were the people she wanted to be around and wanted to be like, beautiful women with poise and confidence. The most she could hope for right now was the Fashion Club. Really, they were fairly pathetic sometimes. Well, Stacy was pathetic pretty much all the time. And Tiffany was just clueless. Actually, Sandi was the only one even close to her own level. That was probably why they fought all the time.
Suddenly Quinn felt a rush of regret, and tears welled up in her eyes. Why did she and Sandi have to be on such awful terms? Why did they spend every moment together at each other's throats? The things they got competitive about were so petty, so meaningless. It was as if the arguing itself were more important than the topic. A sudden sob escaped her, and Quinn quickly put her hand over her mouth. It was a good thing Daria wasn't home to hear that.
Stop it, came a voice from inside her. That's the old Quinn, the child, the one who cries over things without even trying to fix them. You're a better Quinn now, you're in control of yourself. David was right when he said you were shallow and superficial. But that's not who you are anymore.
Quinn at up straighter. Tonight, she resolved. Tonight I'll square things with Sandi. After the meeting, she'll be my best friend, or my worst enemy, but I don't want both in the same person anymore.
"Take a close look, ladies. Here's where the future is."
Sandi held up a picture removed from the latest issue of Waif, the same one Quinn had been studying. The picture showed one of Quinn's favorite models, decked out in a long red gown with a slit up to the back of the knee.
Stacy thought for a moment, then said "Red?"
Sandi got that scowl on her face. If only she knew how ugly that made her, Quinn thought.
"No, Stacy!" said Sandi, exasperated. "The slit in this dress goes to just below the knee. Last month, the same model was featured in a dress where the slit reached upper-mid calf. The month before, right to the middle of the calf."
"The blue one..." Tiffany said.
Sandi waved her off as unimportant. "The thing to notice is the gradual lengthening of the slit. Each month, the slit in the side of the dress increases in length. The question is, how long will it be next month? This is what we want to reflect in the outfits we wear for Homecoming."
"Wow, Sandi!" Stacy said. "You're so perceptive!"
"I try," Sandi said faux-modestly.
Yeah, right, Quinn thought. You don't even know what Stacy just said. You just assumed it was a compliment.
Stop it!! shouted her inner voice. You're not going to do that anymore! Sandi is your friend, and you're not going to think mean things about her like that!!
"Can I see that?" Quinn asked, holding her hand out for the pictures.
"Of course," Sandi said. "Everyone should get a closer look."
Quinn studied the pictures carefully. "Hmm... It looks like the slit got four inches longer the first time, and three inches the second time. So, this time, we should find outfits that have a slit two inches longer."
Tiffany took a moment to count on her fingers. "Four... three... two... hey, I think you're right... but isn't two shorter than three? I thought we were trying to go longer."
"Don't hurt yourself, Tiffany," Sandi admonished. "But actually, in this case you're right."
"She is?" asked Quinn, wondering if Sandi was disagreeing with her for the sake of doing it, or just being dumb, or actually having a point.
"You see," Sandi said, "If we extended the slit by only two inches, the top would end up right in the middle of the kneecap, which is absolutely the wrong place for it to end up. Therefore, we must extend once again to four inches, thus clearing the knee completely and maintaining the necessity to go longer."
Oh, Sandi, you're so smart, Quinn didn't say. But she heard it in her head, and it shocked her how petty and sarcastic it sounded. Instead, she looked again at the pictures, and then up at Sandi. "You have such a good eye for style, Sandi," she said. "This is what this club is all about."
Sandi looked surprised at Quinn for a moment, seemingly unaccustomed to the tone. It was... sincere. "Um... thanks, Quinn," she said, her cheeks turning slightly pink. She smiled just a little.
Wow, thought Quinn. She's so beautiful when she smiles for real.
"All right," Sandi said. "We've covered the slit-length issue, the sequins-or-not debate, the proper degree of accessorizing, and the faux pas of little butterfly hair pins. The final consideration is... Dates."
Silence all around.
"Homecoming is still two weeks away," Sandi continued. "I suggest that we begin making our final decisions such that our dates are given one full week to obtain the outfits we select for them. Think of your date as your largest and most important accessory. If he doesn't match, it can throw off your entire ensemble. Questions?"
Stacy raised her hand.
"Do you think Brian Larson's hair has grown in enough to make him a viable date?"
"It will by Homecoming, unless he shaves it again. Make sure you make that one of you conditions of acceptance. Anything else?"
"Then I declare this meeting closed. Oh, Quinn? Could you hang around for a moment?"
"Sure, Sandi." What did I do? wondered Quinn.
Sandi busied herself by packing up the visual aids until the the other girls left. Once they did, she looked at Quinn. "Um, Quinn? That was really nice, what you said earlier."
Quinn looked down at her feet. She realized that she was as unaccustomed as Sandi was to sincere compliments. "Well... that's why you're president of the club, I guess. You really do know more about fashion than any of us."
"Um... yeah. Well, I do what I can." It seemed as though Sandi had just flipped a switch, reverting from shy and uncertain to her usual closed-off self. She returned to the visual aids and started sliding them under her bed with countless others.
"Don't do that, Sandi," Quinn said quietly.
"Hm? Don't do what, Quinn?" There was a hint of ice in her tone. She didn't even look up.
"We had a moment there. Don't just shut it off."
"I don't know what you mean. Maybe you should go now. I'll see you in school tomorrow."
Quinn sadly turned to leave, then dragged up the same inner resolve that had been moving her all day. "Sandi, please stop messing with those pictures and talk to me!"
"God, Quinn, don't have a cow!"
Quinn turned around to face Sandi squarely. "This is exactly what the problem is! Sandi, you're like my best friend in the whole world and we can't even give each other a real compliment without it being a major event! I mean, I realized today that all we ever do is fight and argue even though we pretend everything is all right all the time and I just want to be real friends, Sandi! I want to be able to talk to you about really important stuff and not just how long me dress should be and what color earrings go with your hair! And school's not going to go on forever, and we'll both be moving on and I don't want to end up going to the ten-year reunion and picking up with the same petty argument we left off on, because I really like you and I want to be friends with you, you bitch!"
Oops, Quinn thought. That last part probably wasn't a good idea.
Sandi turned away. It was a long moment before Quinn knew what was going on, until she heard a sharp little intake of breath from Sandi, and her shoulders quivered. Sandi was crying.
"S-Sandi?" said Quinn. She felt like crying too. "I'm sorry, it just slipped out, I didn't mean it..."
"But it's true," Sandi replied, her voice distorted by sobs. "I am a bitch. I don't know what you could possibly see in me."
Quinn stepped tentatively forward, and put a hand on Sandi's shoulder. "Well, I'm a bitch too," she said. "You know what they say about birds of a feather."
Sandi didn't move.
"Sandi?" Quinn asked.
Suddenly Sandi turned around and hugged her tightly. "I'm sorry, Quinn!" she wailed. "You are my best friend, and I don't want it to be this way either!"
"Oh, Sandi!" Quinn sobbed, and they cried together in earnest. It was quite a while before they were each able to stop.
Sandi broke the hug gently, leaving one arm around Quinn at they sat on the edge of her bed. "Thank God for waterproof mascara," she joked.
"So, what happens now?" Quinn asked, dabbing at her eyes.
"I guess we start trying to break some habits," Sandi said. "We need to start being really nice to each other for a change."
"Who goes first?"
"I will. Here goes... Quinn, you have... really pretty hair."
Well, duh, thought Quinn. But I suppose we have to start somewhere. "Thanks, Sandi. You have nice eyes."
Sandi blushed and smiled, the way she had before. "Thanks," she mumbled.
"And when you smile like that, you look absolutely beautiful," Quinn added.
"It's supposed to be my turn," Sandi chided.
"Hey, who says we have to take turns? We can say nice things about each other whenever we want!" She giggled, still on an emotional high from her cleansing crying session.
"Do you really think I'm beautiful?" Sandi asked, looking into Quinn's eyes.
"Of course I do, Sandi!" Quinn said. "I thought you knew that!"
"No," Sandi said. "I mean, we know better than anyone that properly applied makeup, hair done up just right, clothes in style, all that can make anyone look good. But I never knew how I looked underneath it all."
"I'll make a deal with you," Quinn said. "We'll both go take off our makeup, let our hair go, and dress in frumpy sweatshirts. Let's get a look at the real us."
"I don't know..." Sandi said.
"Friends have to trust each other, Sandi," Quinn said. "Come on. We've seen each other in the morning, how bad could it be?"
"Everyone looks bad in the morning," Sandi said. "This is, I don't know, different somehow."
Quinn got up, went over to the closet, and pulled two large hair-dye stained sweatshirts out of the back. "You stay here," she said. "I'll go use the other bathroom." She left Sandi to herself.
Quinn took her time. She started by removing every last trace of makeup, rubbing carefully with facial cleanser, hard enough to remove it all but not to leave any redness behind. The freckles emerged from behind the foundation. Her eyes lost some of their illusory depth. The only blush left to her cheeks was her own.
Then she attacked her hair. It was a bit messy, but soon her thick layers of hairspray, mousse, and gel were down the drain. She toweled her hair dry as best she could, then brushed it smooth. The natural bounce remained, as did the highlights. the bangs were brushed straight back now instead of curled just so, however.
After a few minute with nail polish remover, Quinn faced herself in the mirror with nothing to hide. She smiled a bit. It had been a while since she had really looked at herself without all the artifice, and she was happy to see that she still liked what she saw. It was amazing how much younger she looked. Quinn had long ago discovered that when she wanted to, she could easily look twenty-one. She hadn't realized that she could still look sixteen.
Sandi had to be done by now. As a final gesture to the abandonment of all unnatural aids, she slipped her bra off and stuck it in her pocket. With the sweatshirt on, she couldn't tell it wasn't there, but it was all the spirit of the thing.
She went back to Sandi's room.
The lights were out.
"Sandi?" Quinn asked.
"I'm here," Sandi said, and Quinn saw the silhouette in the door to the bathroom off Sandi's room.
"Are you done?"
"Mm-hm. Are you?"
"Turn the light on, then."
Quinn flipped the switch, and there they were.
Sandi had done the job as thoroughly as Quinn. Her hair lay stick-straight and flat, her lips seemed to have lost that remarkable fullness, and her eyes... well, more had changed about them than the lack of makeup. Quinn came closer, and then it hit her.
"Sandi, you have green eyes!"
"I wear colored contacts," Sandi said, looking down. "Green just seemed to clash with everything, so I went to brown two years ago. It was before you moved here."
"No, Sandi, they're beautiful!"
Sandi blushed, and looked back up at Quinn. "Freckles?" she giggled.
"They're cute. I like it."
Quinn noticed something else. "What's that on your cheek? Is that a natural beauty mark?"
"It's, um, a mole," Sandi said, covering it with a fingertip. "It's only a beauty mark if the rest of you is flawless."
"Don't sell yourself short, Sandi," Quinn said. She took Sandi's hand and gently lifted it away from her cheek.
Sandi looked into Quinn's eyes for a moment. Their faces were only inches apart. The moment became a little longer, and then, Sandi did something that took Quinn completely by surprise.
She kissed her.
Not a short, friendly peck – this was a real, genuine Kiss, with no mistake about the feeling behind it. This was the sort of kiss that Quinn imagined sharing with a special guy someday, the kind that makes your heart race in that moment, the kind that makes you feel like your whole body tingles with tiny sparks.
Except it was coming from Sandi. Her best friend. Another girl.
With that thought, Quinn stepped back. "I-I-I... I gotta go," she stammered.
Sandi looked as scared as Quinn felt. "Quinn, wait!" she said.
"No, I gotta go!" Quinn turned and ran from the room, ran down the stairs.
At the front door, she heard Sandi yell, "Quinn!!" one more time, and then she was gone, out the door and running back to her own house.
Quinn was a fairly good shape, but she was no sprinter. By the end of the block, she was already out of breath. It didn't help that she had started out that way, either.
She looked back behind her. Sandi wasn't following.
My God, she thought, what the hell just happened?
It was one thing to want to bond a little closer to a friend. It was another thing entirely to get a passionate kiss from her.
Quinn started walking slowly, trying to breathe, trying to get her thoughts around what Sandi had done.
And what she herself had done.
Quinn realized that she had, after an instant's hesitation, actually kissed back. She had even pulled Sandi a little closer. Only then had come the shock of reality, the pushing away. Was it possible she had actually liked it?
Well, sure, she thought. I mean, it was my first kiss. You're supposed to enjoy it.
But with her best friend? Another girl?
This probably happens all the time, she thought. Back at summer camp, some of the girls would joke about practicing on each other. Some of them probably went through with it. There's nothing wrong with that. It's the nineties, or it was a few months ago... what would you call this decade, anyway? The zeros? The turn of the millennium? Except that doesn't actually happen until next year, Daria said. I should look that up, she was probably pulling a fast one on me.
"Whoa!" she said aloud. "What the hell am I thinking about? I kissed Sandi, and I'm worried about the Y2K problem? Get a grip, Morgendorffer!"
Oops. Maybe it hadn't been such a good idea to say that aloud.
Quinn glanced around in the bushes on either side of the sidewalk. No sign of anyone. Her little confession must have gone unheard. God help her if Upchuck had been listening in, though Quinn didn't see how she could be that unlucky. Besides, Upchuck usually sat in trees on the same side of the street as the full moon, to better light his subjects. In any event, this was a fairly poor evening for eavesdropping, the wind was a little noisy, and weren't those rain clouds moving in? Good thing, too, they could use the rain, it had been dry lately.
"Ugh!" she shouted. She was doing it again! Why was she avoiding even thinking about what had just happened?
Because you enjoyed it, said her inner voice. And you don't want to admit it.
"Shut up!" she whispered harshly. "I listened to you once, and look where it got me!"
Now Quinn was talking back to voices in her head. She was starting to act like Daria.
The next day, at school, Quinn frantically loaded books into her locker after history class. Thank God DeMartino hadn't called on her today, she probably couldn't have given her name correctly.
"Eep!" Quinn dropped half her books. She turned around quickly enough to almost lose her balance in the process. "Oh, hi Stacy!" she said, a little too loudly.
Stacy jumped back half a step. "Whoa, Quinn, what's wrong? I was just wondering why we didn't see you outside the school today for coordination check."
"Oh, that? Well, I was late for class, so I just ran in and got started. You know how it is."
"Sandi seemed kind of worried about you."
"You don't say? Well, tell her I'm just fine, everything's fine. I just walked a little more slowly to school this morning, had to stop and kiss the roses – smell the roses I mean!"
Stacy looked nervous. "Um, Quinn, you're acting awfully weird."
"What do you mean, Stacy? This is how I always act. I haven't done anything out of character lately." Quinn noticed that Sandi and Tiffany were approaching over Stacy's shoulder. "Well, gotta run, don't want to be late for class again! See you later, Sandi!"
"But... I'm Stacy!" Stacy called as Quinn took off. "And, we have lunch this hour?"
"What's with her?" Tiffany drawled as she and Sandi arrived at the scene of Quinn's departure.
"I don't know," Stacy said. "She's acting really weird. Does this have something to do with the meeting last night, Sandi?"
Sandi said nothing. She looked sadly after Quinn, and walked off in the opposite direction.
"Sandi?" called Stacy. "Was it something I did?"
Quinn ran into Daria and Jane a little further down the hall.
"Daria!" she shouted.
"Check it out, Jane," Daria said. "She looks just like Quinn, only she talks to me in public."
"Daria! I need to use your key!"
"Huh? Did you lock yourself out of the house?"
"Not that key!" Quinn said. "The other key! The copy you made of the key to the roof!"
"Not so damn loud!" Jane whispered angrily.
"Fifty bucks," Daria said, producing the key.
"Here!" said Quinn, shoving her entire purse into Daria's hands. She then grabbed the key and took off.
Daria and Jane just stared after her. "What the hell was that?" Jane asked.
"She didn't even bargain," Daria replied. "Weird. Come on, let's go ransack her purse before class."
Quinn sat on the roof, desperately hoping that Kevin and Brittany would choose a different make-out spot for the day. Company was not what she needed.
On the other hand, you can't keep avoiding Sandi forever.
"Not you again! Can't you just leave me alone!"
"No. I can't."
Quinn looked up. Sandi was standing there in front of her.
"How did you get up here?" Quinn asked.
"I ran into your weird cousin and her friend. They had your purse. I asked where you went and they gave me the other key. For twenty dollars. Oh, and here's your purse back." Sandi put down the purse and sat some distance away.
There was a very, very awkward silence.
"We need to talk," Sandi said.
"Gee, what about?" Quinn said sarcastically. "Um... sorry."
Sandi shrugged. "I actually expected worse."
There was some more silence.
Quinn decided to break it. "Why did you do it?"
Sandi looked her straight in the eye. "Honestly?"
"I think we can't afford anything else right now."
Sandi took a deep breath. "Because I've always wanted to."
"What?' exclaimed Quinn.
Sandi shrugged. "It's, you know, the way I am," she said. "Statistics say it's one teenager in twenty. I'm the one. I, um, like girls."
Quinn gaped. "How long have you felt like this?" she asked.
"I always have," Sandi said. "It's not like you wake up one morning and start being gay. It's just the way I've always been, for as long as I can remember."
Quinn turned that over in her mind. "And you thought I might be too?"
"No!" Sandi said, a little too loudly. "I mean, I can't deny that maybe I hoped a little, but I never meant to... rush into things like that. It's just, there you were, and there I was, and... I had never been so close to you... and I looked into your eyes... and I couldn't help myself..."
Quinn watched the tears fall down her friend's face.
"You're so beautiful, Quinn," Sandi said. "I fell for you the first day I ever saw you. I wanted you in the club so I could be close to you in some way, but then I couldn't handle it, having you there all the time but never being able to... you know. So I pushed you away. I acted like a terrible bitch to you. I guess I hoped that I could make you quit or something. Then, last night, you got all upset with me –"
"Oh, Sandi," Quinn said, her own tears falling now.
"No, I deserved every word of it. And you made me realize how unfair I was being to you. So I decided to give friendship a try. But then, right when everything would have been perfect... I ruined it. I destroyed everything. I made you run away after all."
Quinn got up and walked over to Sandi, and sat down. "I'm sorry I did that, Sandi," she said. "It was just a real shock, that's all. I didn't know how to deal with it."
Sandi kept crying.
Quinn hesitated, then put an arm around her shoulders.
Sandi ducked away. "Please don't, Quinn," she said. "I don't think I can handle it right now."
A sudden urge took hold of Quinn, one that she needed to act on before losing her nerve. "Maybe this will help," she said. She turned Sandi toward her and kissed her full on the lips.
Sandi was surprised enough to try and pull away at first, but Quinn would have none of it. She put both arms around Sandi and pulled her close, kissing her gently but firmly enough to show that she meant it. It wasn't long before Sandi responded in kind. They stayed in their embrace for what seemed like hours, and finally broke apart.
"Oh, Quinn," Sandi whispered. "I... I never thought..."
"Shush," said Quinn. She pulled Sandi to her again, and this time, Sandi gave as good as she got, and then some. Their lips parted and Sandi tentatively flicked her tongue across Quinn's. Quinn broke the kiss just long enough to take a sharp breath and then plunged ahead, thrusting her tongue deep into Sandi's panting mouth, feeling Sandi return in kind. She also felt Sandi's fingers clench in her hair, pulling her in closer and closer, in a passionate frenzy that Quinn had never even imagined.
The bell rang.
Sandi and Quinn broke apart, startled. They had been up on the roof for almost an hour. Both of them were panting hard, sweat glistened on their faces, and their lipstick was pretty much shot.
"Wow," whispered Quinn.
"We need to get down from here," Quinn said. "We need to get into a bathroom, fix ourselves up, and pretend for the rest of the day that this never happened."
Sandi nodded again.
"And, we need to get together tonight, and talk about what we're going to do about this."
Sandi just nodded a third time. Then her eyes focused on Quinn's lips.
"Talk is cheap," Quinn said, as they fell into each other's arms again.
Quinn waited at home that evening, watching that stupid show that her sister seemed to like so much. Mom was at work, of course, and Dad was out wining and dining a potential new client. Daria was out with that friend of hers watching that godawful band play. No one was likely to be in until after ten o'clock.
No one but Sandi.
Somehow, they had managed to get off the roof and into separate bathrooms without being spotted. They couldn't go to the same one, of course, of the whole thing might have started all over again. Then the day had gone on, fortunately without incident, until Sandi had slipped her a note just before the last class. It said, "Where should we meet?"
Quinn wrote back "My place at six o'clock" and stuck it in Sandi's locker.
Then she had gone home. And went straight up to her room and had a good hard look in the mirror. "Is this what you want?" she had asked. "Is this really what you want? Because if you don't, you have to stop now. This isn't just some guy you're toying with, this is your best friend who took a chance on trusting you."
The mirror didn't have the answer.
Quinn had gone to her closet then, searching through it to find the best outfit to wear for the evening. It was a hard one. Waif had never done an issue on "A night with your lesbian friend."
Quinn hadn't even thought the word until that moment. She went back to the mirror, looked herself straight in the eye, and asked, "Are you a lesbian?"
No answer, but Quinn was satisfied. She had been able to ask the question. And sure, she liked guys. She was probably bi. Or maybe Sandi was a special case. They would work on some answers together.
Quinn had then returned to the closet with renewed vigor to select her outfit. In the end, she settled on a low-cut blue velvet top, a white skirt that was layered with sheer fabric, and blue heels to match the top. She decided that since she and Sandi had already done the "no makeup" test, she would go ahead and do her face. She chose a shade of lipstick that was a shade darker than usual, but otherwise stuck with what worked.
Standing before the mirror, her outfit hanging beside her, it suddenly occurred to Quinn that on this occasion, her lingerie might matter a little more than usual. Then it occurred to her that this was no ordinary evening, that she and Sandi could conceivably go all the way tonight. The thought made her shudder with excitement. She thought back to only a few hours before, on the roof, when she had taken the leap and let her inhibitions go. Who was to say how far things might have gone if the bell hadn't rung? Who was to say how far they might go tonight?
With that, Quinn's mind was made up. She wouldn't wear any lingerie at all, tops or bottoms. That way, even if she and Sandi spent the entire time talking, it would still be exciting to know that she had one layer less between them.
She was ready ahead of time. She was so anxious, she could hardly stand it. This was so unlike any date she'd ever been on. Too worked up to wait quietly, she nonetheless forced herself to sit on the couch and watch TV.
At two minutes before six, the doorbell rang. Quinn smiled – even Sandi wasn't going to be fashionably late for this. She got up and ran to open the door.
Sandi was there. She wore a hot, tightly-fitting green dress that set off her eyes. Her eyes, Quinn thought. She took out her contacts.
Sandi had also done her makeup, but it looked different than it usually did. Her lips were emphasized a little less, her cheeks had just a little more blush, and she had not only left her beauty mark visible but even accented it a bit. It was a Sandi that Quinn had never seen before.
"Hi, Quinn," she said, smiling. "This is for you." She held out a single deep red rose.
"It's beautiful, Sandi!" Quinn said, overjoyed somehow at such a simple gift. "Come on in, I want to put this in a vase right away. Can I get you something?"
"Just hurry back out," Sandi replied, sitting on the sofa. Quinn noticed that she had brought a bag or something, but couldn't tell what it was. More surprises, she thought. How many can I take?
Quinn collected herself in the kitchen while she cut and watered the rose. Sandi looked so hot! Quinn couldn't believe that she'd never had these urges before. She wondered how Sandi had held it in for so long.
"Quinn? Are you coming?"
"I'll be right there!" she called back. Quinn took a deep breath, then headed back into the living room.
Quinn just about jumped through the ceiling. Sandi smirked at her, and revealed a bottle of bubbly freshly uncorked. "I thought we should have something special tonight," she said.
"Where did you get that?" Quinn asked.
"Borrowed it from the wine cellar," Sandi said. "My folks have more of this stuff than they'll ever drink, they won't miss it." She poured into two slim flutes that she must have brought with her.
Quinn sat down close to Sandi, and took a glass. "What shall we drink to?" she asked playfully.
"To friends," Sandi said. "And so much more." She clinked her glass with Quinn's, then they linked arms and drank it down.
Quinn coughed just a bit. "Wow! That's so fantastic! I've never had anything like that before!"
Sandi smiled and said, "More?"
"Please," said Quinn. This was going to be a night to remember.
One empty bottle later, Quinn and Sandi were laughing together like they never had before.
"You had a minister fighting over you?"
"Uh-huh, and he kept going on about 'Love thy neighbor, Love thy children...' he was so pathetic! And then that groomsman, whoever he was, came up and got in his face, and before I knw it they were pounding at each other like... like... I don't know, what do a minister and a boy in a tuxedo look like when they're fighting?"
"Penguins in heat?" Sandi offered.
That set off another round of uncontrollable giggling. "Oh... oh God, I think I need another nip of the bubbly..." Quinn said.
"This is it." Sandi held up her half-empty glass.
"Maybe I could share?"
"Hmm... I don't know..."
"Oh, come on, Sandi!"
"Well... okay. but you have to let me hold the glass. Come in close, and close your eyes."
Quinn did so without hesitation.
"Here it comes," said Sandi.
Instead of a cold glass, however, Quinn felt warm, wet lips. They tasted of champagne, but also of something far sweeter.
"Mmmm... delicious," Quinn whispered when the kiss stopped. "Why haven't we been doing that all night?"
Sandi's giggling stopped for moment. "Well, I just... remember when you said you wanted to be my friend? I want that too. I wanted to make sure we could still be that way, even after, you know, everything else."
"So, now we know we can."
"Mm-hm. So let's see what else we can be... lover."
The word excited Quinn. She took Sandi in her arms and kissed her deeply, tickling her tongue against Sandi's. At once, she felt something cold and wet on her chest. "Eep!" she exclaimed.
"Oh no!" Quinn pouted. "That was the last of the champagne! And I got it all over your shirt!"
"I'll just have to get rid of it," said Sandi playfully. She stood up and walked slowly, deliberately around to the front of the couch.
"Want to see what you've been missing, Quinn?" she asked.
Quinn nodded, and with an effort, got up from the sofa. She took Sandi into her arms and kissed her deeply, her knees almost giving way as she felt the delicious sensation.
Sandi broke the kiss after a moment. "Upstairs, lover," she whispered.
They Quickly gathered up their discarded clothes, the glasses, and the empty bottle, and fled to Quinn's room.
The soft, gray light of dawn awoke Quinn the next morning. She felt Sandi's arm across her, and smiled. Then she began to realize the position they were in, and what would happen if they were caught. "Sandi?" she whispered.
"Sandi, wake up, we can't get caught like this!"
Sandi's eyelids fluttered open, and suddenly she was wide awake. "What time is it?" she asked
"It's five thirty AM! What are we going to do?"
"It's okay," Sandi said. "I arranged to be able to sleep over."
"But Sandi, what if someone saw us!"
Sandi raised herself on her elbow. "There's still a champagne glass in front of the door," she said, sighing with relief. "Anyone who came in would have knocked it aside."
Quinn let out a long breath. "Still, we can't stay here like this."
"Bored with me already?" Sandi teased, blowing gently in Quinn's ear.
Quinn shivered with a moment's delight. "Oh, Sandi, I could never be bored with you," she said in the patronizing tone they both knew so well.
They both giggled, and then quickly stifled the sound. The wall between Quinn's and Daria's room was awfully thin. "You stay in bed," Quinn whispered. "I'll go to the floor."
"It's your bed," Sandi said.
"But, what about your condition?"
"Oh, that," Sandi smiled. "I made that up."
"Well, one time Stacy and I slept over at Tiffany's, and I woke up in the middle of the night with my arms around Stacy. She didn't wake up, thank goodness, but from the sound of it I inspired some interesting dreams. I didn't want to take that chance again."
"Should I be jealous of Stacy, now?" Quinn asked lightly.
"Oh no, you're way cuter than Stacy." That inspired another potentially disastrous giggling fit.
"Come on," Sandi said. "Let's just borrow some of your pajamas, and we'll both stay in the bed. It's not that weird, after all. And that way, we'll be able to cuddle each other some more."
"I'd like that, Sandi."
They were soon back in bed, not quite as intimate as before, but it was better than being separated.
"I love you."
"I love you too."
Emotional turmoil. That pretty much summed it up for Quinn.
Sandi had dropped her off an hour ago, after having spent the bulk of the day shopping with Quinn. For the first time in as long as she could remember, Quinn had enjoyed the company more than the shopping. She hadn't even bought much, just two or three bags worth. Well, objectively that might be seen as a lot, but compared to what she usually brought home it was nothing.
It had been as relaxing and, at the same time, stimulating a shopping trip as she had ever been on. It was astounding the difference it made to be totally honest with someone about what looked good and what didn't, and to get that kind of advice in return. Not to mention kissing Sandi in the dressing rooms.
Quinn sighed in a way that could best be described as lovestruck. If someone had told her even a week ago what was in store for her, she probably would have screamed and run away. Who could have imagined that Sandi was in love with her? Who could have further imagined that Quinn would discover she felt the same way?
It had only been last night that they had bared one another's souls completely, embracing in ways that Quinn had never imagined. In the heat of the moment, she had known her budding feelings for Sandi were real. In the afterglow, she had felt Sandi's love and returned it wholeheartedly. And now, having spent the day together as the friends they had never been before, she knew it was still true.
The problem was everyone else in the world.
They had been honest and forthcoming with each other about everything except one detail: what to tell people about their new relationship. The subject had pointedly not come up. Quinn knew that they couldn't keep it a secret forever, though they did have the advantage that no one would think it was strange to see them together all the time. Quinn wasn't sure how people would react, especially the rest of the fashion club. Could Stacy and Tiffany handle it, knowing that Quinn and Sandi were lovers? Quinn figured that Stacy would probably scream and faint, and Tiffany would need to have it explained to her at least three times using small words. Then she might also scream and faint.
Things were suddenly very complicated.
"Quinn Morgendorffer! Stop right there!"
Quinn had gotten halfway up the stairs before Helen stopped her. "Oh, hi Mom! Don't worry, I didn't spend too much money at the mall. Wait until you see the cute little sandals I got, though. I'll be right back!"
"Not so fast, young lady! You have some explaining to do."
"Um, Mom? Can this wait?"
Helen set her feet and put on her absolutely-no-nonsense-will-be-tolerated expression. "I want to know exactly what went on here with you and Sandi last night!"
Quinn paled. She grabbed the railing for support. "L-look, Mom, I can explain..."
"Explain? What if I had to explain this to her mother? Do you know how embarrassing it could be for me?"
"You're not going to tell anyone, are you??" Quinn ran down the stairs. "You can't do this to me! I mean, Sandi trusted me and everything!"
"Oh, so this was her idea? That figures, I suppose, she does seem the type."
"Well... I suppose it was more of a mutual thing, but yeah, it was Sandi's idea first. I mean, I didn't know how to react at first, but... she was just so, well, convincing." Quinn had the impulse to assert herself a little. "Besides, I'll bet you did a little experimenting of your own when you were my age."
"That's beside the point, Quinn!" Helen had lost some of her resolve, but you had to know her to see it. Quinn knew her very well.
"Come oooon, Mom. You can't tell me you didn't try something similar with your girl friends when you were growing up. What's the big deal, anyway? I mean, it's not like you have a problem with Daria and Tom."
"What? Daria and Tom are doing this too?"
"Well, I haven't actually caught them at it, but I mean, come on, they're teenagers, they like to have fun too... then again, this is Daria we're talking about."
"Let's not change the subject, Quinn," Helen said, slipping back into Mom mode - or lawyer mode, it was hard to tell with Helen. "I'm willing to let this slide just this once. But I don't want this sort of thing going on again. Not until you're an adult. Is that clear?"
Quinn deflated. "All right, I guess..."
"Fine. Oh, and by the way, I have to say I'm impressed with your choice."
"MO-OOM!! That's just weird!"
"I mean, the first time I tried it, I didn't select nearly so fine a vintage."
Helen held a champagne cork out to Quinn. "But, I was a little more careful about cleaning up the evidence. Seriously Quinn, underage drinking is no laughing matter. Can I count on you to be more responsible in the future?"
Quinn stared at the cork, then at her Mom, and finally got what this was all about. "Um, sure, Mom. I'll make sure Sandi knows that we shouldn't drink anymore."
"All right. I think I can trust you, Quinn. But, I still think you need to stay in for the rest of the night. You can call Joey or Jeffy or Jamie and cancel."
"It's Jeremy, Mom."
"Well, whomever it is will just have to see you some other time. You should be grateful I'm letting you off with just one night of grounding."
"Oh, believe me, Mom, I know it could have been much worse." Quinn grabbed her bags and ran back up to her room. Once behind the closed door, she let out a long, cleansing breath.
After about an hour, Quinn was sure that there was no evidence to be found anywhere in her room of the previous night's goings-on. Her bed was made, her clothes were off the floor, and the champagne bottle was carefully packed away in a box in the bottom of her dresser. She wanted to save that as a keepsake.
The phone rang.
"That's for me!" she said to no one in particular. She picked it up. "Hello?"
"Oh, Jeremy, hi!"
"That's what I said."
"Oh, I'm sorry, I can't. Mom grounded me for the night. Could we take a rain check on that?" Quinn paused to think. Did she really even want to go out with any guys any more? This was a complication she hadn't thought of.
"Look, Jason, I have to go, I can't talk now."
"That's what I said. I really have to go, the, er, kitchen's on fire." She hung up.
Oh, great, she thought. The boys are just going to keep calling. What do I do? I can't stop dating, or people will know something weird is going on, but what about Sandi?
Quinn threw herself down on her bed. She would just have to think about this.
The next day at school, Quinn got out of History class and went straight for Sandi's locker. She had missed coordination check again that morning, this time because she genuinely was late for class, and didn't want Sandi to get the wrong idea.
She turned the corner and there was Sandi with the rest of the club. Quinn took a moment to drink in the sight of her friend. Ever since their night together, Sandi had changed her look in subtle ways, showing the beauty mark on her left cheek and wearing outfits to match the true green color of her eyes. She was smiling more, too. Especially when she turned and saw Quinn coming.
"Quinn! Over here!" Stacy waved to her. Quinn hurried over. "We were just talking about scheduling an emergency fashion meeting tonight, since Sandi's gone back to her original eye color. Doesn't it look so much better on her?"
"She looks beautiful," Quinn said, trying to keep the lust out of her voice. She succeeded just enough for no one to get it except Sandi, who sneaked a wink at her.
"Really pretty..." said Tiffany.
"So, when's the meeting?" asked Quinn.
"I thought we could get together at my place, around seven-thirty. Oh, and Quinn, could you show up just a little early?"
"Sure, Sandi!" Quinn realized she might have sounded a little too enthusiastic. "I mean, of course I will."
"Then it's arranged. We'll meet tonight."
"What's with your sister lately, anyway?"
Jane and Daria perched in their usual location on the school roof, just under the heating vent.
"You mean, aside from her usual shenanigans?" Daria didn't care for the direction the conversation was taking. Quinn was hardly her favorite topic.
"Well, it all started with the roof key thing. I mean, she was in an absolute panic, which made sense when I saw that Sandi was after her. But then today, she and Sandi were laughing together in the halls, and Sandi actually said hi to me and asked how I was doing before returning my key. Then Quinn thanked me for loaning it to her."
"That is weird," Daria said. "You know what else? I found a champagne cork sitting on the sofa the night before last. Sandi and Quinn must have had some slumber party. I made sure I put it where Mom would see it."
"That was mean."
"Thank you. But I figured I owed her one. I don't know for what, I just felt like I was a little behind."
"What vintage?" Jane asked.
"You'd never believe it. Dom Perignon '53"
Jane whistled. "Boy, these fashion girls don't do anything halfway, do they?"
Before she could answer, Daria was startled by the access door opening. "Oh, great," she said. "I thought Kevin and Brittany were going to the janitor's closet lately."
"Look again," Jane pointed.
Sandi and Quinn emerged from the roof door and glanced around, failing to notice Daria and Jane behind the heating vent.
"What the hell are they doing up here?" Daria whispered.
"This is our spot," Jane said angrily. "Can't the popular kids be satisfied with the rest of the school?"
Daria's reply was cut off by her mouth dropping open in shock as Quinn and Sandi threw themselves into a passionate kiss.
"That's... that's really going to mess up their makeup," Jane said.
Daria was speechless.
"You were right. That must have been some slumber party."
Daria found her voice. "That's not funny, Jane."
"Hey, just because you're the only one on the roof who's never been picked up on by a girl before...."
"How would you like to be picked up by me and dropped off the side of the roof?"
"Sshh! They're coming over here!"
Daria grabbed her pack and slid around the heating vent, keeping it between her and her sister. "This is bad," she said to Jane.
"Either we pop out and become irrevocably involved, or we stay here and witness what happens next."
"Ew. This is bad."
"So, what do we do?"
"I say we show ourselves."
"Or, we could pretend they caught us in the same act."
Daria stood up quickly. "Hi, sis," she said.
A mile and a half away, Mrs. Rosenthal looked up from feeding her cat and wondered what the scream was about.
"A hundred dollars!!"
"All right, you can have my Social Security!"
"Shut up, Quinn!" Daria fairly shouted. "I don't want your damn money!"
"I'll take it," Jane smirked.
"Jane, you're not helping. Look, Quinn, I'm not going to blackmail you. What you do with Sandi is your own business."
"Thanks, Daria," Sandi mumbled. It was hard to tell how she felt. Her face was completely blank.
"You're really not going to tell anyone?" Quinn asked hopefully.
"No one would believe us anyway," Jane pointed out.
Daria sighed. "Quinn, I've never really cared about who you were dating. I'm not going to start now. All I ask is that if you find you need advice at some point, for God's sake, go to someone besides me. I. Don't. Want. To. Know."
"I'm kind of curious, though," Jane said.
"All right, all right, you don't have to yell. Jesus, Daria, why are you taking this so seriously?"
"Can I say something?" Sandi asked.
"Since when do you ask for permission?" Jane returned.
Sandi turned to Quinn. "Let me talk to your sister and her friend alone for just a moment. I think I can straighten this out."
Quinn started to say something, but saw the look in Sandi's eyes. With a last, worried look at Daria, Quinn walked back over to the access door and sat down.
"Look, Daria, Jane," she said. "Quinn's feeling really unsure right now. I don't want her to give up on this because she's afraid of rumors."
"I wasn't going to start any," Daria said.
"I only like spreading false rumors," Jane said. "True ones aren't any fun at all."
"The thing is, I do want to, er, come out at some point. But not until Quinn's ready. We haven't even had the chance to talk about it yet. Like I said, she's really scared."
"Fair enough," Daria said. "Tell me, though, what's with your change in attitude? I mean, you're suddenly not acting like a, er..."
"Cast-iron bitch?" Sandi said, smiling a little.
"My thoughts exactly."
Sandi looked thoughtful for a moment. "Have you ever been in love?"
"Not really," said Daria.
"Never for more than five minutes at a time," said Jane.
"I'm in love with Quinn," Sandi said. "I have been since I met her. You can't imagine what it's like to have that need fulfilled after so much time of feeling like it was hopeless. It's, well, given me a reason to be happy. You see, I could handle it if Quinn didn't feel the same way... but I couldn't handle it if she were scared off before she had the chance to find out." She looked straight at Daria. "You might not believe this, but Quinn listens to you. She puts a lot of stock in what you say. I'm... begging you, don't destroy this." Sandi had tears in her eyes as she turned away and left with Quinn.
Daria watched the spot where Quinn and Sandi had disappeared for a long time. "Damn," she finally said.
"What?" Jane asked.
"She got to me," Daria said. "Dammit, she really got to me."
"Hey, there's a little speck of sentiment in my eye too. Nothing to be ashamed of."
"Come on," said Daria. "Let's get downstairs. I really need an Ultra Cola."
Quinn sat on her bed, fighting back tears. She and Sandi hadn't talked much after coming off the roof. Sandi had just said that she hoped to see Quinn at the club meeting, and then left for her next class.
The phone rang. Quinn picked it up and angrily slammed it back down on the cradle. She didn't feel like talking to any guys at the moment.
There was a knock at her door.
"Go away!" she shouted.
"That's my line," Daria said. She came into Quinn's room.
"Look, I don't know what you came in here for, but I don't care what you have to say. Save your funny little remarks for your friend Jane!"
Daria sighed. This wasn't going to be easy. "Look, Quinn... I might have been a little, well, thrown off my stride up on the roof before. I just got this mental image of you and Sandi making out in here the other night while I was trying to sleep. It's got nothing to do with the fact that she's a girl, I'd have been just as weirded out if you had a guy in here."
"Really?" Quinn wasn't convinced.
"Okay, maybe not quite as weirded out. Hey, I can tell this isn't just another date for you, you know."
"What was your first clue?" Quinn asked, her sarcasm rivaling Daria at her best.
"She called me your sister."
Quinn looked up. She hadn't expected a real response. "What?"
"She knew I was your sister, and you didn't deny it. That, at least, shows you're being totally honest with each other."
Quinn smiled a bit. "When I mentioned it, she said she already knew."
"Well, she's not that dense, you know. Look, I just wanted to let you know that I've got nothing against same-sex relationships, and if you want to pursue this with Sandi, I'm not going to spill the beans on you. I'll even run a little interference if you need me to."
Quinn smiled even more. "Really?"
"But you owe me big time for this." Daria said, smirking.
"Oh, thank you!" Quinn jumped up and hugged Daria tightly.
"Gahh! No hugs! NO HUGS!!"
Sandi waited in the living room. Her brothers were off to the video arcade, thanks to a twenty-dollar bribe and a threat of crippling injury should they return before seven thirty. She found herself glancing at the clock every half-minute, wondering when (or if) Quinn would arrive. Everything depended on, of all people, her weird sister. Sandi didn't know whether her words earlier had made things better or worse. She could only hope that somewhere, under that cold, sarcastic exterior, Daria had a heart.
The doorbell rang.
Sandi jumped off the couch and stumbled over the coffee table. She checked herself after two sprinting steps toward the door, calmed down a bit, then went to see who was there.
It was Quinn.
"You're here," Sandi said, smiling.
"Of course I am," said Quinn, her face perfectly deadpan.
Sandi lost her smile. Something didn't seem right.
Quinn came inside, closing the door behind her. "So, Sandi, what did you want to talk about?" Quinn asked.
"Well, you wanted me here early, right?"
"So, did you want to talk about dress choices for the Homecoming Dance?" Quinn asked brightly. Then she stepped very close to Sandi, put her arms around her, and whispered, "or, would you rather make hot love to me?"
"W-what?" Sandi stuttered.
Quinn smiled. "I had you going there for a second, didn't I?" she said, and kissed Sandi lightly on the lips.
Sandi burst out laughing. "Oh God, Quinn, don't do that to me!" she squealed.
"Hey, Sandi," Quinn replied. "That's what happens when you get involved with a compulsive tease." She wet her lips with her tongue and kissed Sandi again, drawing her closer.
"We have over an hour before the meeting," Sandi whispered in Quinn's ear. "Can we go up to my room?"
"Now?" asked Quinn, delicately nibbling Sandi's earlobe.
"Right now," Sandi replied. She grabbed Quinn's wrist and ran for the stairs. The two of them giggled wildly as they ran up the stairs.
"So we're settled," Sandi said. "Let's review. I'm going in green, to set off my newly revealed eye color. Floor-length gown, slit to just above the knee, small bow on the shoulder. Emeralds. Stacy?"
"Little black dress, white lacy knit sweater, pearls."
"Excellent," said Sandi. "Tiffany?"
"Dark purple strapless, slit to just above the knee... um, what's my jewelry again?"
"Stacy, do you have that is the minutes?" asked Sandi.
"Um, sure. Tiffany, you're going with gold and amethyst to match the dress, and your hair will be down."
"Sorry I forgot," Tiffany slurred.
"Don't worry about it, Tiffany," Sandi said sincerely, laying a comforting hand on her shoulder. "With all the combinations we tried out, it's easy to forget."
Tiffany and Stacy both looked at her in shock. Quinn just smiled. They weren't used to Sandi's new attitude yet, and certainly didn't know the cause.
"Quinn?" Sandi continued. "What's your outfit?"
"Baby blue dress, cut at an angle from the floor to the back of the knee. White silk scarf. Sapphires."
"Excellent. Well, that should wrap it up for the meeting."
Stacy and Tiffany got up to leave.
"Hold on," Sandi said. "Who wants to go someplace fun tonight?"
"Huh?" asked Stacy.
"That's a great idea!" Quinn gushed. "Let's go take in a movie. I hear 'My Infinite Wanderings' is really good."
Tiffany and Stacy just looked at each other.
"All my life, I've been my mother's child..."
"No one could expect you to be less. I just ask that you give me a chance."
Quinn went for another handful of unbuttered popcorn. As she did, her hand brushed Sandi's, and even though she never looked away from the screen, she felt Sandi's smile.
They held hands, hidden in the popcorn bucket, for the rest of the movie.
The two girls embraced in the candlelight, their hands delicately stroking one another as they shared a loving kiss. Quinn loved the feel of Sandi's full, sensuous lips caressing her own, and the touch of her soft fingertips as they lightly stroked her neck. Their first two encounters had been fast and furious, hotly passionate. This time, they wanted to take their time, and feel the love instead of the lust.
Sandi's tongue trailed a wet line down Quinn's neck, pausing for a kiss just below her ear. Quinn leaned slightly forward onto Sandi's waiting arms to feel her warmth –
A knock came from downstairs. Quinn heard the front door creak open, then Stacy's voice. "Sandi? Are you home?"
Panic shattered the moment. "I forgot to lock the door!" Sandi whispered. Quinn and Sandi separated and scrambled for their clothes. Someone was definitely coming up the stairs.
"Sandi? We do have a meeting tonight, don't we?"
"Crap-crap-crap-crap-crap!" Quinn stuttered as she struggled to figure out how the hell her bra had been tied in a knot.
A second voice came from the hallway. It was too low to hear clearly, but it was obviously Tiffany.
"Quinn!" Sandi hissed. Quinn turned and caught a bathrobe in the face. "Put that on, and get into a lotus flower!"
"Sandi, this is so not the time for that sort of thing!"
"Just do it!" Sandi whispered frantically. She was likewise pulling on a bathrobe, a horrid avocado green one from the back of her closet. Then she grabbed a CD from the bottom of a small stack on her dresser, slapped it into the player, and assumed the lotus flower position in the middle of the floor. Quinn caught on, and dropped next to Sandi in the same position just as Stacy knocked.
"Who is it?" asked Quinn, as the Enigma disc started playing. She noticed an incriminating pile of underwear next to the bed, and scrambled to shove it underneath.
"It's, um, Stacy and Tiffany," Stacy replied. "Uh, can we come in?"
"Sure, Stacy!" Sandi replied, tossing Quinn's pants into the closet and tying her legs back up into the appropriate position as Stacy and Tiffany came in.
They looked around at the dozens of candles, the incense burner, the various hair-care implements. Not to mention Quinn and Sandi sitting back to back in the middle of the room in threadbare bathrobes, their legs tied up in knots and their eyes closed.
"It's power yoga," Quinn explained. "Inner beauty is just as important as outer beauty. It's so important to maintain balance."
"Wow... lots of candles..." Tiffany observed.
"Um... What are you guys wearing?" Stacy asked.
Quinn opened her eyes and got a look at the bathrobe she had on. It was a horrible shade of brown, with a hole in the armpit that was fortunately facing away from the door and therefore not revealing her left breast to Stacy or Tiffany.
Sandi temporized, "We, um, felt like we needed to dissociate ourselves from fashionable concerns for the purpose of, uh..."
"Achieving a one-ness with ourselves," Quinn finished. That came from O'Neill. Quinn earnestly hoped Stacy wouldn't recognize the reference.
"Oh," Stacy said, not convinced but not bold enough to say so. "So, we do have our Thursday meeting today, right?"
"It's Wednesday, Stacy," Quinn pointed out.
"Oh... bummer..." Tiffany said.
"So, I guess we'll see you tomorrow?" Stacy asked.
"Sure," Quinn said.
"I'll um, walk you out," Sandi offered.
"No, that's okay, we know the way!" Stacy stumbled backwards out of the room and ran down the stairs.
"I guess I'll leave too," said Tiffany, seemingly oblivious to any awkwardness. She followed Stacy out of the house.
Quinn breathed a long sigh. "That was close," she said.
"Yeah," Sandi agreed. "Um, Quinn?"
"I think... maybe we should, you know, tell them."
Quinn bit her lower lip. "I... I don't know if I'm ready for that, Sandi."
"We can't keep this a secret forever, Quinn. Tiffany wouldn't notice an avalanche bearing down on her, but Stacy knows there's something going on. Are you sure you'd rather just let her think whatever paranoid thoughts she might have come up with?"
"Could they possibly be worse than the real truth?"
Quinn felt Sandi's back stiffen behind her. "Is that really how you feel? That this is the worst thing that could have happened to you?"
"No, I didn't mean that, I –"
"You're ashamed. You're ashamed of me, and of us."
"I think you should leave, Quinn. Just go."
Quinn felt tears forming. "Please Sandi, that's not what I meant at all."
"I said, get out." The tone in her voice left no room for argument.
Quinn unfolded her legs, which fortunately hadn't gone numb yet, picked up her clothes, and left. She got dressed in the hall. As she made her way down the stairs, she could hear Sandi crying in her room. Quinn hesitated for a moment at the foot of the stairs, then turned and walked out the door.
Quinn hardly slept that night.
Her mind kept playing the events of the past week over and over. Their first moments as true friends, when they managed to get past two years of bitterness and petty power struggles. The first kiss Sandi had given her, how shocking it had been. The moment on the roof of the school when Sandi had let down her barriers and told Quinn how she really felt, and how Quinn had found the same feelings in herself and responded to her. The warmth of Sandi's touch, the passion with which they made love.
Then there was the dread at the thought of being discovered. The panic when Helen seemed to have found out her secret, the absolute horror when Daria and her friend actually did. Then, Stacy walking in on them, obviously not buying their rapidly constructed cover story. And the hurt in Sandi's voice... the hurt that Quinn had caused.
Quinn had held in the tears all the way home, up to her room, and then let loose. She had cried for almost a half hour until there was just no more left. Physically, she felt relieved. The emotional hurt went on.
She didn't know what to do.
Helen checked the thermometer carefully. "Hmm... you do seem to have a temperature, Quinn. All right, I suppose you should stay home today. I'll make sure Daria picks up your assignments. Can I get you anything?"
"I'll be all right, Mom. I'm pretty tired, I think I'll sleep some more."
"Just know that you can call me at any time –" Helen's cell phone cut her off. "Hello? Yes, Eric, I'm on my way in now..." Helen left with the phone attached to her ear.
Quinn sighed. She hadn't used the fake fever trick since fourth grade, when Daria had shown her how to pump up the temperature on a clinical thermometer by rubbing the bulb briskly on denim cloth. Fortunately, Helen was too busy to sit by her bedside for three minutes.
After the front door shut for the third time that morning, Quinn thought to herself: So this is what alone feels like.
Her lips caressed Quinn's smooth flesh, leaving red kiss-marks on her body where they touched. Quinn smiled as she lay back on the soft silks and enjoyed her lover's attentions. She opened her eyes and saw the beautiful face before her, with blazing green eyes and perfectly chiseled features. She reached out to touch the beautiful woman before her...
A blinding light and a gasp from a thousand throats invaded her mind. Quinn looked and saw the room filled with people, herself and Sandi on the stage, naked for all to see. Quinn tired desperately to cover herself, but her hands were suddenly tied to the bedpost.
"Oh my God, Quinn!! What are you thinking??" Stacy squealed.
"Really, Quinn..." Tiffany added. "Lesbianism is so last season...".
"You'll just have to placed on permanent fashion sabbatical," Sandi said even as she kissed Quinn's neck.
"Wait!" Quinn shouted. "I can explain!!"
"Hey Quinn!" said Joey.
"Whoa, I didn't know you were into girls!" said Jeffy.
"I'll be a girl for you!" said Jamie, twirling to show off his pink skirt and heels.
"Daria! Help me!" Quinn screamed, pulling at the bonds that held her tied.
"It's all right, Quinn," Daria said, pulling away from Jane's tender embrace.
"Yeah," said Jane as she pulled Daria close again. "You can always hang out with us..."
Quinn awoke thrashing in sweat-dampened sheets. The panic from her nightmare faded quickly, but the real-life anguish was still there. She checked her bedside clock – it was two o'clock in the afternoon. There wasn't much point in going back to sleep.
She went to the bathroom and downed a pair of aspirin. This problem wasn't going away on its own, and she couldn't play sick forever. Sooner or later, she would have to face Sandi again. But what to say to her?
Quinn stopped by her mirror. It had only been a few days ago that she had stood in front of that same mirror, and questioned herself as to whether she should pursue this new relationship with Sandi, her best friend.
There had been no answers. There were still no answers.
If the mirror had no answers, then Quinn would have to ask someone else. And there was only one person she could go to. The one person who had pointedly asked her not to go to her for advice.
An hour later, Quinn walked into the Pizza Prince. No one noticed.
That was exactly how she wanted it. Her hair was carefully tucked under a large black baseball cap with "Barlow's Alligator House" inked across the front. Her usual pink baby tee had been replaced by an oversized plain gray sweatshirt, and Daria's (stained) spare jeans took the place of her form-fitting Levis. Large sunglasses hid her face. She glanced around, saw a number of Lawndale's finest scarfing down pizza. There was no sign of recognition from anyone, not so much as a second glance. Except from Daria.
Quinn sighed. She should have known that Daria would see through her disguise without difficulty. But she had hoped to at least reach the table where she and Jane sat, making it that much more difficult for them to leave before Quinn could talk to her sister.
Daria was indeed getting up to leave. As she and Jane walked by Quinn, she whispered, "I'll see you out back."
Quinn took a deep breath. By the tone in Daria's voice, she could tell this wasn't going to go over well.
"Let me start," Quinn said as they stood next to the absolutely icky dumpster, hidden from view to all but the most curious onlooker.
"No, I will not let you start," Daria said. "You're here because you're having trouble with your new relationship with Sandi. You don't want anyone else to know about it, and that's caused some hurt feelings. So now you've done exactly what I asked you not to do, and come to me for advice. Am I in any way wrong?"
"Um... no, that's about it."
Daria sighed. "Jane?"
Jane dug into her pocket, pulled out a ten-dollar bill, and handed it over to Daria.
"You're placing bets on me?" Quinn asked, horrified.
"I bet Jane that it would take you less than three days to come to me for advice on exactly this matter. She just lost."
"You know, Daria, it's a sad day when Jane has more faith in me than you do."
"Actually," Jane said, "I bet her it would take you less than two days."
"I don't believe this! What gives you guys the right to automatically assume that I'm going to mess this up?"
Daria said, "Quinn, you and I will both agree that you're hyper-concerned with your image. You give way too much of a damn what other people think of you to be able to make this kind of relationship work for more than a couple of days."
"But... what about Sandi? She wants to be popular just as much as I do!"
"True," Jane agreed, "But I've known Sandi for longer than you have. Deep down, she's an arrogant, self-centered, prideful bitch, no matter how she's been acting for the past couple of days. She needs to be able to show off her romantic conquests, and now she can't, partly because of the image thing, and partly because you won't let her. My guess is that she suggested, maybe not even entirely seriously, that you come out of the closet about your little love affair. You freaked, and that gave her an excuse to be mad at someone besides herself."
Quinn just stared at Jane incredulously.
"So you have two choices at this point," said Daria. "You can do nothing. You'll find it impossible to be around Sandi, and vice-versa, which means you'll quit the fashion club. You will then lose popularity, but probably not so much that you fade completely into oblivion – after all, there's always the three J's. Sandi, of course, will be fairly crushed, and will likely respond to it by being twice the bitch she was before. Her friends will leave her, and she will sink into a deep depression, eventually ending up lying in a ditch by the side of the road, clutching a bottle of paint thinner."
"Don't sugar-coat it, Daria," Jane admonished.
"What's my other choice?" Quinn asked in a small voice.
Daria shook her head. "You'll have to figure that out yourself. If you can't find the courage to do what needs to be done on your own, the relationship is doomed anyway. I don't hate you enough to help you draw this out to inevitable failure. Twenty dollars."
"What?" Quinn asked.
"Payment for services rendered." Daria held out a hand.
Quinn sighed, and fished a twenty out of her pocket.
Quinn went to school the next day. Those who knew her well would have noticed a definite change in her bearing, something that one usually didn't see on Quinn. She was doing some hard thinking.
Quinn rolled her eyes. This was the absolute last thing she needed right now. She turned around and, sure enough, there was the usual gang of idiots.
"Joey, Jeffy, Jamie," she said, nodding to each of them.
"Quinn! You got it right!" said Jamie, beside himself with happiness.
"It was a lucky guess," Joey said.
"Hey Quinn, can I carry your stuff to your locker?" Jeffy offered.
"It's only six feet away, Jeffy," Quinn pointed out. There was a definite irritation creeping into her voice.
"Can I open your locker for you?" asked Jamie.
"Can I walk you to your next class?" Joey asked.
Quinn threw her books to the ground in frustration, and spun around to face her team of admirers. "Will you guys just SHUT UP!!" she screamed.
One could almost hear the sound of a needle scratching off a record as all activity in the hallway came to a sudden halt.
"You are the most pathetic bunch I have ever encountered!" Quinn continued. "I mean, why don't you just lie down and put an apple in your mouth? Do you really think it impresses me to have you guys falling all over each other all the time? For God's sake, take a look at yourselves! You guys are MORONS!!"
"I don't understand, Quinn..." said Joey.
"Was it something I said?" asked Jamie.
"Can we make it up to you somehow?" Jeffy offered.
"ARRRGH!" Quinn shouted, throwing up her hands in despair and running away.
The three J's looked at each other for a moment.
"Someone should pick up her books," Joey pointed out.
The three of them scrambled to gather Quinn's belongings.
Stacy pulled books slowly from her locker, mentally preparing herself for her next class. She earnestly wished for the school to catch fire so she would be spared the ordeal of sitting next to Sandi. All the previous day, Sandi had been an impossible grouch. She lectured Tiffany for at least five minutes on how inappropriate her shoes were, and when Stacy had tried to say something in Tiffany's defense, Sandi had turned on her and ripped into her choice of accessories, the way her purse fell six inches too low, and how her dress made her look like an absolute cow. The meeting that night had been cancelled. Stacy had spent most of the afternoon crying, and even Tiffany hadn't missed the biting tone in Sandi's voice, or the venom in her words.
A ruckus down the hall grabbed Stacy's attention. She looked and was amazed to see Quinn hollering at Joey, Jeffy and Jamie, who stood there looking dumb and confused. The whole school, it seemed, was gathered around watching. Stacy couldn't hear the words, but Quinn finally ran off in a huff – in Stacy's direction.
Stacy looked for a place to hide. There wasn't anywhere she could get to before Quinn got to her.
Stacy swallowed hard, and prepared for the worst. "H-hi, Quinn," she stuttered as Quinn stomped by.
Quinn took absolutely no notice. She just kept going.
Stacy didn't know whether that was a good or a bad thing, but one thing she knew for sure was that there was no way she could go to class now. Shoving her books back into her locker, she ran to find a restroom where she could hide out for the rest of the hour.
Tiffany sat in class, waiting for her friends to show up. She was hoping Sandi would be in a better mood than yesterday. Just in case, though, she had made sure to wear different shoes.
Quinn came into the room, stomped over to her usual seat, and sat down.
"Hi Quinn," Tiffany said.
"Hi," Quinn said back. She didn't even look at Tiffany.
Tiffany forged ahead. "So, what's up with Sandi lately?" she asked.
"How the hell should I know?" Quinn asked.
"Hmm... I'm not sure. I guess I shouldn't have asked." Tiffany looked downcast.
"No, you shouldn't have."
Tiffany looked sadly away. Neither Sandi or Stacy showed up in class at all that day.
"Quinn wouldn't even talk to me today," Stacy said as she and Tiffany walked home.
"She wouldn't talk to me either," Tiffany said. "Well, not very much..."
"There's something going on here." Stacy stopped and sat down on the curb. "Tiffany, what are we going to do? The club is falling apart around us, it's only a week until Homecoming, and we don't even know what's going on!"
"They're really mad about something," Tiffany pointed out helpfully.
"You figure that out all on your own?" Stacy said sarcastically.
It wasn't lost on Tiffany. "Sorry," she said. She turned and started walking away.
"Tiffany, wait!" Stacy called, getting up to follow her. "I'm sorry! I'm losing all my friends and I'm scared!" She grabbed Tiffany in a desperate hug.
Tiffany hugged her back. "It'll be okay, Stacy," she said.
Stacy broke the hug and sat back down. "We need to do something," she said. "We can't go on like this. I mean, first Sandi and Quinn are all nervous about something, then Sandi starts being all nice and everything, I mean it's not like she was always mean before, but she suddenly became all sweet and everything."
"Yeah..." Tiffany agreed.
"Then it's like we're going out to movies and having fun together, and I'm thinking, this is so cool, this is what I joined a club for in the first place."
"Then they start doing yoga," Tiffany said helpfully.
"That was really weird. And then all of a sudden Sandi turns into a total thunderbitch, and Quinn's all mad about something –" She stopped suddenly. "They're doing drugs! I just know they're doing drugs!! Oh God, my friends are going to overdose and die!!" Stacy buried her face in Tiffany's shoulder and cried her eyes out.
"That is so sad..." Tiffany agreed, and started crying along with her.
Quinn lay in bed awake, counting the cracks in the ceiling.
The doorbell rang, startling her out of her aimless thoughts.
"Quinn!! It's for you!!" shouted Daria from downstairs.
"Tell him to go away!" Quinn shouted back.
"It's not a guy, Quinn!" called Daria. "It's Stacy! She wants to talk to you!"
"I don't feel like talking!"
There came a knock at her door. Quinn jumped out of bed to answer it.
"I said I don't –"
"GET HER!" shouted Stacy. Jamie and Joey threw a large bag over Quinn's head and dragged her away down the stairs.
"Sorry about this, Quinn," Jamie apologized.
"It's for your own good, Quinn," Joey added.
"DARIA!!!" screamed Quinn, her voice muffled by the sack.
"Forget it, Quinn," Daria said. "I've been well-paid, on top of the fact that this is something I've always wanted to see."
It was probably just as well that Quinn couldn't hear the sound of a Polaroid camera snap several shots before Joey and Jamie bundled her out the door.
Quinn's protests went unanswered by Stacy as she drove her for at least ten miles, most of it uphill from what she could tell. Joey and Jamie, at least, weren't in the car. Quinn was starting to regret her earlier outburst with them. She passed the time dreaming up horrible revenge against Stacy for this.
The car stopped. Quinn thought for a moment she heard Sandi's voice, and decided she must be hallucinating. Sandi wouldn't go this far, would she?
Her door was opened for her, and her seatbelt unfastened. Quinn was about to run for it when the bag was pulled off her head. She blinked with surprise when she saw Tiffany and Sandi standing before her, Sandi obviously having been recently removed from Tiffany's car and a similar bag removed from her head.
"What the hell is this all about??" Sandi screamed.
"We had to do it, Sandi," Stacy said. "I mean, your life could be at stake, not to mention your complexion!"
"We're just trying to help..." Tiffany insisted.
"What are you talking about?" Quinn asked, bewildered.
"Quinn, listen to me," Stacy said, placing her hands firmly on Quinn's shoulders. "It's never too late to quit. I know it'll be hard, but Tiffany and I are here for you." She turned around to look at Sandi. "We're here for both of you. Please, you have to stop before it's too late!"
Sandi and Quinn looked at each other. "She's lost her mind, hasn't she?" Quinn asked.
"Small things are easy to lose," Sandi growled.
"I know that's not you talking," Stacy said. "You don't really mean it, it's just the chemicals."
Quinn looked at Tiffany, Sandi, and finally Stacy. "You think we're taking drugs?" Quinn asked incredulously.
"That is, like, so bad for your skin!" Sandi protested.
"You mean, you're not?" Tiffany asked.
"Of course not! Where'd you get a silly idea like that?" Quinn demanded.
"Oh God! Now I've messed things up even more!!" Stacy dropped to the ground, trembling with shame.
Quinn sighed. "Look, guys... can Sandi and I have a moment alone?"
"I don't want a moment alone with anyone, I want to friggin' go home!" Sandi shouted.
Quinn turned pleading eyes on Sandi. "Please, Sandi? I'm begging you, don't destroy this."
Sandi's eyes went wide, then softened. "All right, Quinn," she said. "I'll give you five minutes."
Confused, but hopeful, Stacy and Tiffany watched their friends disappear into the trees off the side of the road.
Quinn and Sandi sat down on a pair of rocks.
"So," said Sandi. "Let's talk."
"Sandi," said Quinn. "I'm sorry I hurt you."
"No, it's probably for the best," Sandi said. "It would never have worked out."
"But I want it to," Quinn insisted.
"Sure, as long as no one knows about it."
"Come on, Sandi," Quinn said. "You're just as scared of going public as I am. Admit it."
"I don't know what you're talking about."
"Fine, then. Let's call Stacy and Tiffany in here, and we'll kiss in front of them."
"You heard me."
Sandi looked toward the road, with fear in her eyes. "But... what if they... I mean..."
"See, Sandi?" Quinn said. "They're our closest friends, and we can't even be truthful with them, let alone everyone else in Lawndale. Sandi, people have gotten used to seeing us a certain way. We're the popular girls, the ones who could date any guy we want – and we do date any guy we want. We're on the top of the food chain around here. But that just gives us farther to fall, and you know as well as I do what could happen if we go public with this. I'm frightened out of my wits. So are you."
Sandi hung her head. "You're right," she whispered. "I am scared. I'm scared of what our friends will think, of what everyone else will think... oh, Quinn, I'm so sorry!"
"I had no business getting so upset with you! I just... I don't know..."
Quinn smiled. "Maybe you were worried about your own image being damaged, and were looking for a way to pass the blame to someone else."
Sandi looked up, a touch of hurt in her eyes that quickly faded. "Maybe you're right," she said.
Quinn stood up and walked over to Sandi, sitting down next to her. She reached up to stroke Sandi's hair. "I love you, Sandi," she whispered. "And I'm not going to be ashamed of it anymore. If you want anyone to know about us, we can tell them. You mean more to me than my popularity."
Sandi looked into Quinn's eyes. "Oh Quinn... I love you so much..."
As they kissed, the last of their inner turmoil vanished.
Stacy looked at her watch. "They've been in there almost fifteen minutes," she wailed. "What could they be doing in there?"
Tiffany shrugged. "Maybe they're talking about what to wear to Homecoming," she suggested.
Quinn lay Sandi down beneath her in the cool grass, laying gentle kisses across her throat as she did. Sandi looked so lovely in the moonlight, her eyes shining like stars, her alabaster skin glowing radiantly. Her panting lips reached for a kiss, and Quinn gave it to her.
A sudden chill swept through Quinn and brought her back to reality. "Sandi," she whispered, breaking the kiss, "we should probably tell Stacy and Tiffany about this, not show them."
Sandi shook her head to clear her haze of lust. "You're right," she agreed, and reluctantly allowed Quinn to stand up and help her to her feet. "Let's go find them, and tell them everything will be all right."
"We should tell them something else, too," Quinn pointed out.
"Thank you," Sandi said to her friends Stacy and Tiffany, holding one of their hands in each of her own.
They had come back down the hill overlooking Lawndale and gone to Quinn's house. Her parents were out, and Daria had left as soon as the foursome arrived.
"Um... you're welcome?" Stacy said.
"I owe you guys an apology," Sandi said.
"We both do," Quinn agreed.
"Oh, don't be silly, guys," Stacy said. "I mean, we were the ones who threw burlap sacks over your heads and dragged you out into the middle of nowhere."
Quinn turned to Sandi. "Out of curiosity, who did they get to drag you out?"
"My brothers," Sandi scowled. "They threw a couple of ropes around me and popped me in the sack. Then they dragged me down the stairs and knocked my head against every one."
"I didn't even have to pay them," Tiffany pointed out. "We're really sorry about it."
"You had the best intentions," Quinn reassured her. "We have been acting a little odd lately, I'll admit that."
"Yeah... odd..." agreed Tiffany.
Stacy looked nervous. "So... what has been going on?"
Quinn looked at Sandi, who nodded slightly. "Well... this is going to take a little explaining," she began.
"You see..." said Sandi, "the thing is... I've fallen in love with someone."
"You have?" asked Tiffany.
"That's great!" Stacy squealed.
"So have I," Quinn put in.
"Wow..." said Tiffany.
Stacy looked at both of them, put two and two together, and came up with five. "You both fell for the same guy, didn't you?" she asked. "Oh, that's so sad! No wonder you've been acting so mad at each other lately!"
"That doesn't really explain the yoga, though..." Tiffany pointed out.
"We didn't fall in love with the same guy," Quinn said.
"That's for sure," Sandi agreed.
"Oh," Stacy said. "So, what's the problem?"
They both shrugged and smiled.
Stacy was confused. "What?" she asked innocently.
"Umm... Stacy..." Tiffany said, pointing at her friends' hands. They were clasped together.
The truth rolled in on Stacy like a long, slow wave coming up the beach. Her mouth moved, but didn't make the words. "You... and you... both of you?"
Quinn and Sandi nodded, and scooted closer together on the sofa to make the point.
"No way," said Stacy, her voice completely flat.
Quinn turned Sandi's face toward her own and gave her a long, slow kiss.
"Whoa..." Tiffany said.
Stacy's eyes rolled back into her head, and she collapsed on the floor.
The world spun slowly into focus around Stacy's head. Her eyes fluttered open, and she saw the concerned faces of her three best friends. Then she remembered that she had recently seen two of those faces stuck tightly together.
"Eep!" she said.
"Stacy, it's all right," Quinn tried to reassure her.
"We're still the same girls you've known for years," Sandi insisted.
"I'm still not a lesbian," Tiffany added for the sake of clarification.
"But – but – but – " Stacy stuttered.
"Come on, let us help you up," Quinn offered. Stacy took her hand and Sandi's, while Tiffany pulled a chair over for her to sit on.
Stacy looked at Quinn, then Sandi, back to Quinn, back to Sandi again. "How long has this been going on?" she asked, still bewildered.
"A week," Sandi said. "Ever since the first Homecoming meeting."
"I stayed afterwards at that meeting to tell Sandi I wanted to be closer friends," Quinn said. "I ended up with more than I bargained for."
"So... all this time, you guys have been, um..."
"The word is, 'lesbians'," Quinn offered.
"I've felt this way all my life," Sandi said with a small smile.
"I'm still a little unsure," Quinn admitted. She looked at Sandi and smiled. "But I know I love Sandi."
"We still want to be friends with you," Sandi said. She looked at Tiffany. "With both of you. I don't think we're planning to come out to anyone else yet. But we decided we wanted both of you to know, because you're our friends."
Stacy looked at both of them oddly. "So... how do you feel about me? You know, were you, um, hoping I'd be..."
"A lesbian," Tiffany offered.
"Hey, don't get me wrong, you're really cute," Sandi teased. "But my heart belongs to Quinn." She pulled Quinn close and kissed her on the cheek.
"This is going to take a lot of getting used to," Stacy decided.
"Look at it this way," Quinn said. "It means that many more guys for both of you!"
No one laughed.
"So, what'll it be?" Sandi asked Stacy. "Does the Fashion Club go on?"
Stacy stood up, looked Sandi straight in the eye... and hugged her. "I'll always be your friend, Sandi," she said. She turned to Quinn, hugged her as well. "And yours too."
Tiffany happily followed suit.
"And so, for the Homecoming dance, Quinn and I will officially be without dates." Sandi announced.
"Unofficially, on the other hand..." Quinn took Sandi's hand and gave it a gentle squeeze.
The emergency Fashion Club meeting was drawing to a close, as the foursome made up for the previously missed sessions and finalized their plans for Homecoming.
"Get a room, guys," Stacy said, smiling.
"Really..." Tiffany added.
"So, who will the two of you be taking?" Quinn asked.
Stacy and Tiffany looked at each other. "Well, we talked about it..." Stacy began.
"We decided to go without guys too," Tiffany finished.
"Fashion Club solidarity and all," Stacy explained.
Quinn looked uncertain. "Um, Stacy, that's really nice and all, but Sandi and I don't want you to stop dating guys just because we are."
"It's just this once," Stacy reassured her. "Besides, Brian Larson shaved his head again."
Sandi smiled. "So be it. I therefore declare this meeting to be closed."
Stacy and Tiffany got up to leave.
"Wait, guys!" Quinn said. "Don't you want to go out, or something?"
"Well..." Tiffany said.
"We thought you might have some catching up to do on your own," Stacy said shyly.
Quinn and Sandi looked at each other, and then back at Stacy and Tiffany. "Thanks," Sandi said.
"No problem," Stacy replied. "Just... spare us the details at the next meeting." The two of them left.
Sandi turned back to Quinn. "So, what should we do now?" she asked.
Quinn smiled, and leaned in for a kiss. "Let's light a few dozen candles... put on some mood music... and pick up where we left off."
Stacy paused outside Sandi's house and looked back. She was startled to discover Quinn and Sandi's silhouettes clearly visible on the blind in Sandi's window.
"Oh my gosh, Tiffany! Look at that!"
Tiffany turned, and saw the forms in the window. Quinn's long hair flowed behind her as she leaned her head back and let Sandi kiss her throat, and then lower, and lower still. Something that could only be a brassiere was tossed over Sandi's shoulder.
Stacy knew her friends would be mortally embarrassed if they knew she was watching, but she couldn't tear her eyes away. Then they dropped below the window frame, and a bit later, the light went out.
A sudden chill went through Stacy, though it was a warm night. "Wow," she whispered.
"We should tell them to be more careful about that," Tiffany pointed out. "I mean, if they don't want to get caught."
Stacy just stood there and stared at the darkened window.
"Stacy? Are you all right?"
"Huh? Oh, sure, I'm fine!" Stacy shook herself. "It's just... you know, I wasn't sure I believed it until now. That Sandi and Quinn are, um..."
"Yes, thank you Tiffany, I know the word."
"Then... how come you can never say it?"
"Lesbians! Lesbians-lesbians-lesbians! How's that?"
Tiffany shrugged. "Why are you getting so upset, Stacy?"
Stacy started to get more upset, then relaxed. "I'm sorry, Tiffany. I guess I just never expected this. I mean, it just seems so weird that Quinn and Sandi are a couple now. It just took me by surprise, that's all."
Tiffany looked back up at the window. "At least they're both really cute. I'd hate to see either of them dating an unattractive girl."
"I wonder what it's like," Stacy mumbled under her breath.
"What what's like?" Tiffany asked.
"Um... never mind. Come on, let's go home."
They got in Tiffany's car and left.
"I wonder what it's like?" Jane pondered as she sketched in her book, showing Quinn and Stacy making out in the lunchroom.
"What are you talking about?" Daria asked in an annoyed tone. She wasn't terribly pleased with Jane's choice of subjects for her next work, and had said so several times.
"You know, kissing another girl," Jane said. "I was just curious what it was like."
"You stay away from me," Daria warned.
Jane laughed. "Relax, Daria. I'm not trying to make a move on you here. Can't a girl be a little curious without being homosexual?"
"No, they can't. Trust me on this one."
Jane stopped drawing and looked sternly at Daria. "You know, I would have expected you to have a more open mind about this. You don't seem to have a problem with Quinn and Sandi."
"I have lots of problems with Quinn and Sandi. And Stacy, and Tiffany, and Brittany, and Kevin, and Upchuck –"
"Don't change the subject. I want you to explain your last remark."
Daria sat up, put down her book, and sighed. "It's kind of a long story. Goes back to Highland."
"All right, I love these stories!" Jane said, immediately captivated. "Does this have anything to do with those two mutant Neanderthals you used to hang out with?"
"Not really. See, I was on the newspaper staff, you knew that."
"It still amazes me that you were involved with a school activity."
"Let me finish. Anyway, they had made me the fashion editor, if you can believe that. Needless to say, I got old on that very quickly, and asked for a different position. So they put me in charge of reporting on the activities of the various clubs. They wanted me to start with cheerleading, but I wanted to do something a little more offbeat than that."
"You? Rebelling against authority and not wanting to involve yourself with cheerleading? You astound me, Daria."
"So, I decided to report on the local Gay and Lesbian Alliance. I sat in on a few of their meetings and took notes. Remind me to give Trent the lyrics to 'Lesbian Seagull' some time, I'd get a kick out of hearing the Spiral perform it."
"It was that bad?"
"Worse. So in the end, I got my story, and it went out in the Highland Howdy. Thus began three weeks of hell. People jumped to the conclusion, based on the fact that I never wore makeup, paid little attention to my wardrobe, didn't gush over the cute guys, didn't talk to the girls, and that I went to the meetings in the first place, that I had to be a lesbian. This being Highland, Texas, I was seen as a deviant and a demon-spawn, bent on corrupting others to my bizarre way of life. To make matters worse, the Gay and Lesbian club felt I was putting them in a bad light, and I was attacked by them too."
"You were actually attacked?" Jane asked, concerned.
"Mostly with words. Occasionally with substance. Someone threw a strap-on dildo tied to a brick through my bedroom window one night, that was as close as it came to physical assault. Mom was in a total outrage, of course, but she mostly blamed it on me. She figured that it was the result of my being so anti-social all the time, that naturally the other kids would get the wrong idea."
"How did Quinn take it?"
"She didn't know about most of it. She was going to a different school at the time. What she did see, she figured was just the usual harassment unpopular kids like me always got. Anyway, like I said, it only lasted for three weeks. Then we moved to Lawndale."
"Hm." said Jane.
"So you can see why I'm somewhat opposed to being mislabeled as homosexual. I don't care how others live, but I won't be persecuted for something I'm not. I have enough trouble with persecution for the things I am."
"Okay, I can see your point." Jane looked critically at her sketch of Quinn and Sandi, ripped it out of the book, and chucked it in the can.
"You don't have to do that, Jane," Daria said.
"I didn't like how it was coming out anyway."
"Coming out. Funny."
"Let's go get some pizza," Jane suggested. "You can bring Tom along and kiss him in front of people, if it makes you feel better."
"He is a good kisser, isn't he?"
"I had no complaints. Not about the way he kissed me, anyway.."
"What'd I say?"
Stacy thumbed idly through her latest issue of Waif, which she had already studied in detail in preparation for the last meeting. She couldn't get her mind off the image of Sandi and Quinn embracing. First they had kissed in front of her, to prove they were, in fact, a couple. Stacy was fairly embarrassed about how she'd reacted to that, but they really couldn't blame her, could they?
Seeing them in the window, though, had been different. The kiss for Stacy had been for show. The scene in the window had been for real. Stacy found herself imagining what it could be like to touch Sandi's body the way Quinn had, or to kiss her soft, full lips. Another chill ran through her as she imagined either or both of them kissing her.
Oh my God! she thought. I can't believe I'm sitting here thinking about this! What would Sandi think?
Actually, Sandi might be turned on by the whole thing. I was right the first time, this will definitely take some getting used to.
Stacy put the magazine aside, turned out her light, and settled under the covers. Sleep didn't come easily that night.
Stacy felt soft arms around her, and sighed with contentment. It was so nice to be held while she slept, to feel the warmth of another body next to her. A slim hand stroked her cheek, a touch that Stacy would normally have felt invasive, but it was a welcome, soft caress that made her feel wanted and loved.
She turned over in her sleep, resting her head on her unseen companion's shoulder. A warm breath touched her lips, and Stacy raised her head slightly to accept the kiss that followed. Her hands touched her lover's hair, stroking it softly as the kiss went on.
Her eyes fluttered open, and she smiled at Sandi's beautiful face before moving in for a second, deeper kiss...
Stacy woke up with a rush. Her eyes snapped open, and after a moment's disorientation, she realized where she was.
I've had that dream before, she thought. When did I have that dream before?
She stayed still in her bed, trying to grasp at the wispy tendrils of memory that she knew were there. There was no questioning that the dream had left her in a state of powerful excitement, but that was fading as the dream state slipped away and wakefulness took further hold. After a short while, Stacy gave up on trying to remember and fell back to sleep.
Her dreams for the rest of the night were... eventful.
Quinn sat on the grass just outside the lunchroom, catching up on some reading before her English class. Sandi had become a lot more tolerant of Quinn's eccentric, scholarly ways since they had gotten involved. Quinn hoped that eventually Sandi would see the wisdom in paying a little more attention to her schoolwork, but that hadn't happened yet.
Quinn looked up. Stacy was standing over her. "Hi, Stacy! What's up?"
"Um, can I talk to you for a second?"
"Sure, Stacy!" Quinn indicated a patch of thick grass where Stacy might sit without getting dirt on her jeans.
"Quinn, I've uh, been wondering something," Stacy said quietly.
Quinn cocked her head to one side. "I suppose I can guess what this might be about."
Stacy looked around to make sure no one was in earshot. "Well... How did it happen? You know, between you and Sandi."
Quinn smiled with the memory. "Well, it was after the meeting, and I was trying to tell Sandi how I wanted to be better friends with her and stop fighting all the time. And, I called her a bitch."
Stacy stared. "No kidding? Right to her face?"
Quinn nodded. "The thing is, she started crying. I told her I didn't mean it, but I suppose the truth is that I did. And she told me how sorry she was, and that she wanted to be better friends too."
"Wow," Stacy said.
"Well, we decided to start being nice to each other, and one thing led to another, and I got the idea that we should take off our makeup and stuff and see what each other looked like without it."
"So that's when she switched back to her normal eye color!" Stacy realized.
Quinn stared into space, remembering. "She's still beautiful under all of it," she said. "I still don't think she realizes how pretty she is. And I told her so, and we were standing really close, and... she kissed me."
Stacy looked around again. There was still no one watching or listening. "What did it feel like?" she whispered.
Quinn giggled. "It scared me out of my friggin' wits," she said.
Stacy giggled too, but rather nervously. "No, I mean, what did it feel like?"
Quinn's expression grew thoughtful. "It was... very soft," she said. "It felt like kissing a flower... very soft, and sweet. Even though it scared me, I wanted more. I guess that's why I eventually went back for more, and then once we got started, we couldn't stop. We went all the way the very next night."
"All the way?" Stacy whispered. "What do you mean?"
Quinn paused. "Why are you asking me all this, Stacy?"
Stacy stuttered, "I... um, that is..."
The bell rang.
"Whoops! Gotta go! Thanks, Quinn!" Stacy took off.
Quinn got up slowly, watching Stacy run away. It was only natural that Stacy would be curious about all this, but there seemed to be something else bothering her. Quinn got the idea that things were going to get more complicated before they got easier.
Jane twirled the dial on her locker with only half her mind on what she was doing. The rest of her mind was on Sandi and Quinn at the other end of the hall. Jane noticed how they were standing closer together than they used to, laughing more, casually touching hands every so often. One might have thought they were simply close friends, but the signs of something deeper were there if one knew to look for them.
She found herself continually flashing back to a night just about two months ago, which made sense, under the circumstances...
"I promise not to kick you out of bed in the morning," said Allison, her look going from probing to seductive. "Well, unless you're snoring."
"Thanks, but I –" realization seeped through Jane's wine-addled brain. "Oh, God."
"What's the matter? I'm not your type?"
"Um, Allison... I'm straight."
"Yeah, right," Allison said, shaking her head minutely. "I don't think so."
Jane was sobering up by the second. "I'm not gay."
"Where have I heard that before?" Allison asked playfully. "Wait a minute. Is this your first time with a girl? Well, no wonder you're nervous!"
Jane felt like she was getting nowhere. "Allison, read my lips. I like guys."
"And, hanging out with bisexuals in their bedrooms after they buy you dinner."
"Hey, I didn't know you were bi," Jane insisted, trying her best to keep a grip on the situation. "And the dinner thing was settling a bet."
Allison nodded. "Sure... settling a bet. I'm sorry, baby, but I never hit on straight chicks."
Jane decided to put an end to this. "Listen, you've been really nice to me and all, and I really appreciate it, but I'm not interested in women."
Allison just couldn't take a hint. "You mean you're not ready to admit it."
"I gotta go," said Jane, finally giving up. She made tracks back to her own cabin.
"Hey, you awake?"
"Huh?" Jane was startled out of her reminiscing by a familiar deadpan voice. "Oh, yeah, sorry. Just, you know, thinking."
"I know a lot of people who could profitably join you in that endeavor," Daria mused as Kevin demonstrated his tackling technique on a nearby trash can. "But this is school, and therefore not the place for original thought. Let's go have lunch on the roof."
"I'm with you," Jane said, hefting her books into her locker. She glanced one last time back in Quinn and Sandi's direction, but they were gone.
"And, then," Daria said, "Jake goes flying out the patio door and tries to tackle the squirrel with his bare hands. He spent most of the rest of the evening face-down in the backyard, screaming about the injustice of it all."
"Mm-hm," said Jane.
"Then Trent came over. We went into the basement, covered ourselves with chocolate syrup, and screwed each other's brains out."
"Sure," said Jane, absently.
Daria reached down and unlaced her boot, took it off, and whipped it hard over her head to clang loudly against the heating duct under which they both sat.
"YAAH!" Jane shouted, jumping to her feet and nailing her head on the same heating duct, producing a second, almost identical clang. "What the hell was that for?"
"If I'm being that boring, Jane, I wish you'd just tell me."
Jane rubbed her head. "I'm sorry, what were you saying?"
"Something you'd kick yourself for missing if you knew, which you won't, because I'm not going to repeat it. What the hell is on your mind?"
Jane sighed. "Remember Allison?"
Daria nodded. "I was wondering when this would come up. Considering what's going on lately, it was only a matter of time. What are you thinking about, specifically?"
Jane shrugged. "I don't know. I guess I'm thinking how I was kind of curious what it might be like to kiss another girl, and I had my chance before I even knew I was curious about it, and didn't take it."
"From what you tell me about Allison, it was probably just as well."
"Yeah, she was definitely a self-serving slut. But still, what harm would just a kiss have done?"
"You know she wouldn't have let it rest at that," Daria pointed out. "She would have pressured you further, and you would have either left anyway saddled with further complications and self-doubt, or you would have given in and would now be living with the fact that you got shamelessly used."
"True." Jane looked off into the distance. "I'm not gay, you know."
Daria shrugged. "I believe you."
"I'm just a little curious. I mean, what's life without an unusual, shocking experience here and there?"
"Maybe you should ask Quinn to indulge you."
"Oh, I'm sure she'd leap at the chance to suck face with Jane. Thanks, but no thanks. I don't need Quinn's rejection, I've seen what it does to the guys around here."
"Look, Jane. We're still in high school, here. I'm sure you'll get your opportunity in college, there are plenty of art students willing to kiss a lot stranger things than members of their own gender." She checked her watch. "Come on, let's get down. We need to go endure an hour with O'Neil."
Quinn walked home by herself, and savored the fact that her usual gang of admirers seemed to at least temporarily have gotten the hint that they weren't welcome. Her thoughts wandered between Sandi, the approaching Homecoming Dance, Sandi's beautiful eyes, the bogus assignment O'Neil had given that afternoon, Sandi's sensuous lips, going shopping for her Homecoming accessories, Sandi's hot body, and Stacy's peculiar behavior.
Well, to be fair, it was difficult to call Stacy's behavior peculiar, especially given how Quinn's own behavior had taken such a spin lately. Likely, Stacy just needed some time to adjust to new circumstances. Quinn mused that if she had discovered that, for instance, Stacy and Tiffany had been having an affair, she would need some time to get used to the idea as well.
Quinn rounded the corner on her street, and stopped short. Stacy was waiting in front of her house, but didn't see Quinn yet.
"Stacy?' Quinn called, walking faster.
Stacy looked up. "Oh! Hi, Quinn!" she said. "I was just in the neighborhood, thought I might wait for you to show up!"
"You live four miles away from here, and there's no one else in this neighborhood you might be coming to see," Quinn pointed out. "Is there something wrong, Stacy?"
Stacy started to smile and object, but saw that it would get her nowhere. "Can we go inside, Quinn?" she asked.
Once inside, Stacy asked, "Is there anyone else here?"
"Um, no," Quinn said. "Daria's goes to her friend's house on Tuesdays. What's this all about?"
"Quinn..." she began, but couldn't seem to get the words out.
"Is this about me and Sandi?" Quinn asked.
"Mmm... kind of," Stacy replied.
"Well, what is it? You can tell me, Stacy, I won't be upset."
Stacy swallowed hard. "Will you... kiss me, Quinn?"
"What??" Quinn asked. This was definitely not what she expected.
"I know, it sounds weird!" Stacy squealed. "I just can't get the idea out of my head! I mean, seeing you and Sandi together got me thinking, and I know I'm not gay or anything, but I just... want to know what it's like..."
Quinn sighed. "Stacy, sit down."
"I'm not going to attack you, Stacy. Just sit down."
She did. Quinn took a seat far enough away to hopefully set Stacy at ease a little bit. "Look, Stacy, I'm not sure what this is about, but it's not like it's that latest trend. Just because Sandi and I are, well, having sex with each other, you don't have to get involved to."
"It's not that!" Stacy objected.
"What is it, then?" Quinn asked.
Stacy hesitated again.
"Look, Stacy, you just asked me to kiss you. Trust me, everything else you're likely to say will shock me a great deal less than that. Just say what you want to say."
"Okay," Stacy said in a small voice. "The thing is... I've kissed a few guys, you know?"
"Well, it's just not ever what I expected. I thought kissing was supposed to be tender, and sweet, and nice, and all that stuff. Instead, the guys usually mash my lips against my teeth, or they try to force their tongue into my mouth when I don't really want it there, or they grab for my tushie and I have to fend them off."
Tushie? wondered Quinn.
"To make a long story short, it's no fun at all. And then I saw you and Sandi doing it..."
"And you fainted," Quinn finished.
"No," Stacy said. "After that. You guys were, um, kind of visible through Sandi's window the night after the meeting."
"We were??" Quinn panicked.
"No one else saw but me and Tiffany!" Stacy hurried to mention. "I hope you're not mad, but I watched for a little bit. It was... beautiful, Quinn. It was everything I've been missing." Stacy took a deep breath and sobbed. "I wanted to be there with you, just to know what a real, tender, loving touch could be like..."
Quinn felt like crying too, but she held it in for Stacy's sake. "It's okay, Stacy," Quinn said.
"I want to know what you know," Stacy said. "What it's like to... kiss a flower."
Quinn came a little closer, and took Stacy's hand. Stacy jumped a bit, and looked nervously into Quinn's eyes.
"Stacy," Quinn said gently. "I... I can't."
"Why not?" Stacy asked, visibly relaxing but a bit disappointed.
"It's Sandi," Quinn explained. "I mean, we never said we were going steady or anything, but I don't think it would go over well if she knew I kissed another girl. Especially someone else in the club."
"Let me tell you something. Last spring, my cous- sister, Daria, kissed her best friend's boyfriend. It almost tore them apart. I don't want that kind of thing to happen with us. Me and Sandi are just starting out here, and we need to be careful if we're going to make this last, and if we want to stay friends."
Stacy nodded again. She was crying in earnest now.
"Oh, Stacy," Quinn sobbed, and gave her a close hug. Stacy cried on Quinn's shoulder for some time.
"So, what do I do now?" Stacy asked. "I mean, do I go ask Tiffany if she wants to kiss?"
It had been almost an hour since they had first sat down. Stacy was finally all cried out, and the conversation had returned to the topic that started it.
Quinn chuckled a bit. "Maybe you could find another girl somewhere."
"But I don't want it to be just anyone," Stacy said. "I want it to be someone special. Otherwise, it'll be just like all the boys."
Quinn thought hard. "I suppose we could bring it up at the next Fashion Club meeting," she suggested.
Stacy laughed at that. "Oh God, no." She sighed heavily. "Look, thanks for everything Quinn, but I think I'll just have to wait. Maybe I'll wake up tomorrow and it will all seem like a weird idea anyway."
The front door suddenly swung open. Stacy jumped a bit, scooting a little away from Quinn on the sofa. Quinn shrugged, it was only natural Stacy should be a bit on edge.
"Hi Daria, hi Jane," Quinn said as the duo came in.
"Hey Quinn," Daria said. "Where's the rest of the fearsome foursome?"
"Oh, Stacy just wanted to talk to me about something. You know, fashion stuff."
"Well," Jane said. "We wouldn't dream of disturbing you further, then."
"You seem disturbed enough already," Daria added.
Quinn rolled her eyes. "Funny, Daria."
Daria and Jane headed up the stairs. As they did, Quinn was struck with a thought. "Hey Stacy," she whispered.
"What?" Stacy asked.
"I just had an idea. Come into the kitchen, I don't want them to overhear."
"This is going to sound weird, but hear me out," Quinn said as they settled in with a couple of mineral waters. "The other night, I got home after, um, spending time with Sandi. Jane was still here, in Daria's room. I heard my name come up, so I listened at the wall."
Quinn paused for a moment. "I guess I should tell you, Jane and Daria kind of accidentally found out about me and Sandi even before you did. They caught us in the act, so to speak."
"Whoa," Stacy replied. "How'd they take it?"
"Daria was, well, the usual Daria. Jane seemed to think it was funny. Anyway, they promised not to tell anyone. The thing is, I listened to them talking, and Jane is really curious about it all."
"You mean, Daria and Jane are –"
"Oh, God no," Quinn said quickly. "I thought so once myself, but there's no way. Daria is definitely straight, no question about it." She paused again. "Jane, on the other hand... I think she could lean either way."
Stacy saw where this was going. "Are you saying I should ask Jane to kiss me? But she's so... weird!"
Quinn shrugged. "A little, maybe," she agreed. "But I've gotten to know her pretty well. She's really nice, once you get past the outside. And she'd never kiss and tell. And, you have to admit, she's really sort of cute, in an alternative kind of way."
Stacy pondered. "But how would I do it? Just walk up to her and say, Hey Jane, I'm your friend's sister's friend, how about we lip-lock?"
"I hadn't really thought that far ahead," Quinn admitted. "If you want, I can talk to her about it. I don't have to mention your name. I'll just see if she'd be interested in the idea. Then, we'll see what we can set up."
"I don't know, Quinn..."
"You've got nothing to lose. What do you say?"
Stacy looked down at her feet, then up at Quinn. "Okay," she whispered.
"Why am I here?" asked Jane.
Quinn sat down on her pink bed and looked Jane in the eye. "I didn't really mean to, but I overheard you and Daria the other night talking about me and Sandi."
"Hey, it's something to talk about," Jane said. "And we haven't told anyone else, if that's what you're thinking. It's your life, not ours."
"I appreciate that," Quinn said. "I just thought that if you were curious about anything, maybe you could just ask me instead of wildly speculating."
Jane looked oddly at Quinn. "Why are you offering details? I don't get it."
Quinn shrugged. "I thought it would be better than you and Daria having the wrong idea, that's all."
"So, why me? Why aren't you talking to Daria?"
"Daria doesn't want to know," Quinn said. "You do."
"Fair enough," Jane said. "Except that, having it put to me so bluntly, I don't really know what to ask."
"The other night, you were wondering what it was like to kiss a girl."
Jane's eyes went wide. "Are you offering, or something?"
"Don't be silly, Jane," Quinn laughed. "You're not my type. But hey, I can be curious too, can't I? What if you did get the chance to kiss another girl? Would you take it?"
Jane thought about that. "I had the chance once before," she said. "I didn't take it then."
This was news to Quinn. "When was that?" she asked.
"Last summer at art camp. It's a long story."
"Well, that was then, this is now," Quinn said. "What would you do if you had the chance for just a kiss, nothing more?"
Jane's first impulse was to tell Quinn it was none of her damn business and head back to Daria's room. Something, she wasn't sure what, was making her stay. Maybe it was the sincerity in Quinn's voice – she wasn't used to hearing that from Quinn. "If I got another chance," Jane mused, "and it was under different circumstances, where I wasn't being overly pressured... I think I might do it."
Quinn nodded and smiled.
"She's interested," Quinn whispered to Stacy the next day by their lockers.
"In me?" Stacy asked incredulously.
"No, I didn't say anything about you or anyone specific," Quinn said. "I mean, she's interested in the idea."
"So, what now?" Stacy asked.
"I've been thinking about that," Quinn said. "Tell me, have you ever wanted your portrait painted?"
Jane opened the door. "Hey, Stacy," she said.
"Eep!" Stacy replied. "I mean, hi!"
Jane sighed. "Look, I'm not going to bite your head off or anything, I'm just going to paint your picture."
Quinn had arranged everything for this little project. That day at school, she came up to Jane (that still seemed odd, Quinn just coming up and talking to them like they were normal in her eyes) and mentioned that one of her friends wanted a portrait done. Jane was skeptical at first, but Quinn insisted that everything was on the level and had even paid in advance. In the end, Jane couldn't resist the opportunity to do her first work-for-hire.
Now that Stacy was here, however, she was starting to regret it. The girl would just not sit still.
Jane had set the easel up in the living room, where there was more space and better light, and hung up a black sheet for a background. It was to be a portrait of just her face. Stacy had done her own makeup and hair, of course. Jane began by sketching her face from several different angles, looking for the "best side".
"I can't do this if you keep shaking," Jane said. "Come on, relax for Christ's sake. We're painting a picture, not performing an organ transplant."
Stacy took several deep breaths, and failed to relax.
Jane lay down her sketchbook and approached Stacy. "Stand up!" she shouted.
Stacy leaped out of the chair as if it were spring-loaded.
"Sit down!" Jane commanded. Stacy took a seat.
"Now," Jane said. "I promise not to yell at you for the rest of the day if you can just relax and stop acting as though I'm going to yell at you. Fair enough?"
"O-okay," Stacy said. She did manage to stop quivering so badly.
"All right, then," Jane said. "Let's get on with it." She returned to her sketchbook.
By the time Jane was ready to paint, she had resigned herself to the fact that the only way to get Stacy to relax was to engage her in conversation. "So," Jane said. "Do you, um, have plans for Homecoming?"
"Huh?" Stacy asked, unprepared for small talk.
"That's what you fashion fiends do, isn't it? Sit around and prepare for big events like this?"
Stacy smiled a bit. "Actually, the four of us are all going together. No guys, just us."
Jane smirked. "Imagine, Quinn not having a date. What could possibly have caused such a wild change in the order of the universe?"
Stacy smirked as well. "Quinn's going with Sandi, as you well know."
Jane almost dropped her brush. "So you know all about it?" she asked.
"They told us a couple of days ago," Stacy said. "It sure took me by surprise."
"Tell me about it," Jane agreed. "Daria and I caught them in the act. Blew my mind."
"She told me about it," Stacy said, giggling a bit. As she did, she turned her head toward Jane and her chin dipped a bit into her leading shoulder.
"Wait right there," Jane said. "Can you focus your eyes right over there on the purple twisty sculpture?"
Stacy did so.
"Perfect," Jane said. "Just hold really still while I sketch this out on the canvas. I think we found your pose."
"So, how'd you finally get back in?" Jane asked as she touched up Stacy's portrait with red.
"Mrs. Griffin finally came downstairs to see what Sandi's brothers were laughing about. By that tie, I swear my hair was frozen solid and I had icicles hanging from my swimsuit."
Jane chuckled. "Tell me, why didn't you just get back in the hot tub?"
There was silence for a moment.
"Oh God," Stacy said. "I never thought of that."
Jane managed to put her brush down before she cracked up.
"It's not funny," Stacy said, trying to keep from laughing herself.
Jane shook herself and turned her attention back to the portrait. "Almost done... there."
"Can I come see it?" Stacy asked excitedly.
"Come on over," Jane said. "But don't touch it, it's wet."
Stacy got up, stretched three hours worth of kinks out, and hurried over to see the picture. She gasped when she saw it.
Jane had painted her in a classic renaissance style. Her eyes were shining with life, her cheeks with just a hint of rose, and her smile was sweet and innocent. She was looking slightly over her shoulder in a way that seemed to convey a certain mischievousness. It was more than Stacy could ever have hoped for.
"It's... beautiful, Jane," Stacy said. "Thank you."
"I do my best," Jane said nonchalantly, but it was obvious she was pleased as well. "I'll take it down into the bomb shelter to dry overnight, and you can have it tomorrow evening."
Stacy turned to look at Jane, and as she caught her eyes, she remembered suddenly the reason she was here. It struck her that the painting itself, had she known what it would look like, would have been more than enough reason all on its own. But it wasn't all she had come for. Her stomach suddenly tried to tie itself in a knot, and her vision went gray.
"Are you all right?" Jane asked, sensing Stacy's sudden dizziness. "Do you need to sit down, or something?"
"I... I think so," she said. Jane led her to the sofa and helped her gently into it.
Stacy desperately fought to remain calm and not hyperventilate. "Do you mind if I stay for a bit?" she asked.
"Sure," Jane said, still concerned. "Are you sure you're all right? I mean, my work doesn't usually cause this strong a reaction."
"It's not that," Stacy said. Then, worried that Jane might be offended, she hastily added, "Don't get me wrong, the painting is beautiful. I never dreamed I could look that way. You're an amazing artist."
Jane shrugged, trying to take the compliment in stride, but it had obviously moved her. "Well, I was looking for the best in you. That's not something I normally do, though."
"Maybe I should bring the rest of the club over."
Jane rolled her eyes. "Please, one of you at a time is tolerable, all at once and I'd probably open fire with a shotgun before even putting paint to paper. I will admit, though, that I've been working on one of Quinn and Sandi making out in the lunchroom."
Stacy chuckled. "God, I'd love to see that."
"The painting, or the real thing?" Jane asked with a smirk.
Stacy swallowed hard. This was it. Her chance to turn to conversation to where she wanted it to go – or where she thought she wanted it to go, at any rate. "You know, when I first saw the real thing, I actually fainted."
"You? Go on," Jane said.
The sarcasm went over Stacy's head. "Seriously, I did. It took me totally by surprise, you know? I mean who would have thought it? Quinn and Sandi?"
"If there's one thing I've learned over the past year," Jane said, "it's that I'm lousy at determining who might be gay."
"I wonder what the appeal is?" Stacy asked.
Jane shrugged. "I don't know," she said. "Maybe it's something you have to experience."
Stacy decided to go for broke. "You know, I actually asked Quinn to kiss me," she said.
Jane's eyes went wide. "No way. Did she do it?"
"No," Stacy said. "She said it was a bad idea, seeing as she was sort of dating a friend of ours."
"And she was right," Jane said with conviction. "It is a very, very bad idea to even think of kissing your best friend's significant other. Only very bad things can come of that."
"She suggested I try someone else," Stacy said.
"So, who's the lucky girl?" Jane asked. Then her smirk dropped off her face. "Oh, God. I don't believe this. I can't believe this."
"She's trying to set you up with me, isn't she?" Jane asked. "No, don't answer that, it's obvious enough. God, how could I have been so gullible?"
"What the hell were you thinking?" Jane asked angrily. "My God, you are first-class manipulators of people, aren't you? You come in here on some hidden agenda, you play me for a fool, you throw some shallow compliments about my work at me, and you think this is the best way into my pants?"
"Now just wait a minute!" Stacy shouted. "I meant it when I said I loved your painting! I meant every single word of it! And I'm not playing you for any kind of fool! You can kiss me or not, however you want it. And don't pretend for one moment that you don't want to, because you told Quinn flat out that you did! What's so wrong with me, anyway?"
"This isn't about you –" Jane started.
"This is about me! Sandi used to be my best friend, and then Quinn comes along, and every day Sandi gets to be more of a bitch until I'm almost at my limit. Then she falls in love, and who does she fall for, but Quinn again! Now she's not such a bitch anymore, but what does that matter? Can't you see I've lost my best friend – how can I compete with someone like Quinn, someone who can give her what she's always wanted?"
Jane looked Stacy over. "You were trying to get into their relationship, weren't you?" she asked. "You wanted to get between them. That's why you asked Quinn to kiss you."
"That's ridiculous," Stacy said, wiping tears from her eyes.
"I don't think it's ridiculous at all, I think it's the truth," Jane said. Her voice was much calmer now.
"I... I didn't mean to do it," Stacy said. "I wasn't thinking, I just... I want my friend Sandi back. I want things the way they used to be, before Quinn came along." Stacy sat back down on the couch. "What can I do? I can't compete with her."
Jane sat down next to her. "Don't try," she said. "Friends don't work that way."
Stacy sighed. "I really do love the painting," she said.
"Thanks. I'm sorry I doubted your word."
Stacy stood up. "I should go now," she said.
Jane stood up with her. "Aren't you forgetting something?" she asked.
Stacy shrugged. "What?" she asked.
Jane stepped close to her, and put her arms around Stacy's neck. "This," she said, and gently touched her lips to Stacy's.
Stacy inhaled sharply, and took half a step back from Jane. "What... what are you doing?"
"It's what you came for, isn't it?" asked Jane, her eyes hopeful.
Stacy looked into Jane's deep blue eyes, and saw a need there that she discovered she still felt herself. "Please... kiss me, Jane," she whispered, stepping back into Jane's embrace.
Their lips touched again, delicately, tenderly, as if testing the waters. Stacy closed her eyes and felt a wave of sensation that ran all the way through her entire body. Her arms slid around Jane's waist and pulled her closer, tightening the kiss. It felt soft, and pure, and wonderful, like fresh water to one dying of thirst.
She felt Jane's lips open slightly, inviting without compelling. She accepted the invitation and let her tongue slip into Jane's mouth, kissing her more freely and passionately than she had ever done with any of the boys. Her head swam until she thought she might faint, but Jane held her up with surprising strength. Jane's body felt toned and firm under Stacy's hands, not beefy like a football player she had dated once, but slim and athletic... and feminine.
Stacy never wanted the kiss to end. It felt rapturous, seductive, powerful, and finally overwhelming. At last, Jane drew away, and Stacy opened her eyes to see the rush she felt reflected in Jane's face. She looked incredibly beautiful to Stacy.
"Wow..." Stacy breathed.
"Umm... yeah," Jane agreed.
Stacy looked away, unable to bear the intensity of the moment any longer. "I should go now," she said.
"Probably," Jane nodded.
Stacy gathered her purse and other belongings and started for the door. She turned back just before leaving. "Jane?" she said.
"My pleasure," Jane smiled.
Then Stacy did leave, and Jane collapsed on the sofa, her breath coming out in a rush. "Wow," she said.
"So, what was it like?" Daria asked Jane as they walked to school together.
"Forget it, Morgendorffer. You pay to see the cards. You folded, remember?"
"Must have been pretty good. You have quite the swing to your step. It's enough to make a person sick."
"Let's just say that I'm seeing Stacy in a whole new light."
"So, in the end, do you think Allison was right?"
Jane paused for thought. "We'll see. I'm open to some possibilities I didn't consider before."
"Did you do it?" Quinn whispered to Stacy at her locker.
Stacy shrugged, but couldn't keep the smile off her face.
"Oh my God, you did! What was it like, Stacy?"
Stacy looked meaningfully at Quinn, and said, "Like a kiss from a flower."
Quinn sighed as she snuggled into Sandi's arms, basking in the afterglow of another wonderful session of love with her best friend.
"Quinn?" Sandi whispered.
"Do you see us, you know, lasting for a while?"
"At the moment, I could see myself right here forever."
"That's not what I meant," Sandi said, stroking Quinn's long, red hair. "I mean, I'm kind of worried that you'll feel like you're missing something, and want to go back to dating guys again."
Quinn sat up a bit, and looked into Sandi's eyes. "How far do you see this going, Sandi? I mean, do you think we'll want to stay together all the way through high school and afterwards?"
"I don't know," Sandi admitted. "Like you said, at moments like these, I want us to go on forever. But it hasn't even been two weeks yet."
"Two weeks and two years, Sandi," Quinn pointed out. "That's how long we've been friends. I think we can count that part."
Sandi smiled, and kissed Quinn lightly on the lips. "I love you so much, Quinn," she said.
"I love you too, Sandi," Quinn replied. "And where am I going to get a boyfriend who likes shopping so much, or understands the importance of good-quality nail polish, or the horror of split ends, or has such a great figure?"
Sandi laughed out loud. "Oh, God, Quinn... I never thought I could be as happy as I am with you."
Quinn smiled and rested her head on Sandi's shoulder.
Sandi stroked her hair some more, then said, "Do you think Stacy and Tiffany are really okay with this?"
Quinn shrugged. "They said they were. And actually, Stacy's probably more okay with it than you realize."
"What do you mean?"
"The other day, she asked if she could kiss me. You know, to see what it was like."
Sandi stiffened a bit. "Did you?"
"No," said Quinn. "I didn't think it would be fair to you."
Sandi still looked concerned, however. "Um, Quinn, I know we never said we were going steady, but... I feel so attached to you, it's kind of like we are."
"I did think about that," Quinn said. "We said that we loved each other. What more did we need to say?"
Sandi finally relaxed a bit. "Why do you think Stacy asked you that?"
"She was probably just curious," Quinn said. "Anyway, her curiosity did get satisfied."
"How? Did she kiss Tiffany instead?"
Quinn chuckled. "Funny, that's what she suggested at first, not really seriously. But I set her up with Jane. You know, Daria's friend."
Light dawned on Sandi. "So that's what the potrait was all about. Quinn, you little minx!"
"Stacy didn't give me all the details, but I gather it went well. She got her kiss, and she loved it."
"Think she'll want more?"
"I know I did," Quinn said. "But she and Jane aren't really compatible, you know? We need to find someone else for her."
"I think we already have," Sandi said slyly. "How about Tiffany?"
Quinn looked up at Sandi. "Tiffany? How do you know she'd go for it?"
"We don't," Sandi said. "We'll just have to find out."
It was a long time before they could bring themselves to separate, dress, and head downstairs to say goodnight.
Tiffany had spent the evening doing something she'd never done before. She was surfing the Internet.
It took a few hints from the geek running the computer lab to get her started, but it all went pretty easily after that. Tiffany wondered for a moment how they got all those screens into that little tiny computer, but figured it was kind of like TV, only slower. She rather preferred the slower pace, it gave her mind a chance to catch up.
Tiffany was looking for information on lesbians. She figured that if Sandi and Quinn were into that now, she should figure out something about it, so she wouldn't be caught short like she had when Sandi had done the club meeting about shoulder pads and Tiffany had asked if they were going to let Kevin join. But it wouldn't do to ask the school librarian for a book about lesbians. Someone might get the wrong idea.
Then Tiffany had remembered something about the Information Superhighway, and figured that sounded like a good place to get information, even if she would have to borrow her mom's car. Fortunately, it turned out that all you really needed was a computer, and once she had figured out the little roller thingy (the guy had called it a mouse, but that was icky) and learned that you click on the underlined words that say what you want to find out about. The guy had called it the World Wide Web, but that was also really icky. Spiders were gross.
After a little while, she had found something called YAHOO, which was where the guy said she should start even though Tiffany insisted that she didn't want to learn about cowboys. The next step, which Tiffany had written down so she wouldn't forget, was to type in the word "Lesbians" in the little box and see what came up.
She got over two thousand results. Tiffany sighed. This was going to take a while.
She arrowed down the list, looking for something interesting. Most of it seemed to be about clubs, which she didn't need because they were already in the Fashion Club. There were also some news articles, which didn't seem helpful because she knew Sandi and Quinn hadn't told anyone yet and it couldn't be in the news anywhere. There were a couple of entries on magazines, but that wouldn't do any good because she was using a computer, not a magazine. Maybe she was looking in the wrong place.
She tried typing "Lesbians" into the space at the top of the screen which seemed to have a bunch of weird stuff in it, lots of percent symbols and slashes and words that didn't make sense. Obviously the computer was getting confused.
The next page that came up seemed more helpful. There was a lot of small writing that was hard to read, so Tiffany ignored that. There was a big word that said ENTER, so she clicked on that one.
Her screen filled with lots of pictures.
"Whoa," she said out loud.
Except for Sandi and Quinn, she had never seen two girls kiss before, but according to the internet, it seemed to happen all the time. They were doing a lot more besides just kissing, too. Tiffany was startled to see that they were also kissing each other's bare breasts, and touching between their legs, and rubbing up against each other in all kinds of different ways. A strange sensation stirred her just a bit, and she felt a chill run through her body. She looked around – no one was watching her. Tiffany wasn't sure why she was suddenly so concerned with that, she usually liked it when people looked at her, but something told her that it would be better if no one saw what she was doing.
Tiffany couldn't help but notice that although their makeup and hair were usually done in a really cute way, they had no sense for clothes – those that had them on at all. Obviously, lesbians were the sort of girls who believed in a "less is more" approach, which was just so late eighties. Then again, Sandi had impeccable taste in clothes, and she was a lesbian. This was going to take a lot more research.
Tiffany settled in to search further. She looked over some of the underlined words at the bottom of the screen that said things about more pictures of lesbians. Tiffany preferred to look at pictures; it was easier than reading. There was one called Teenage Lesbians and she smiled because she knew she was finally on the right track.
The screen came up with a large picture of a redheaded girl and a brunette holding each other very close and staring out of the screen with an expression Tiffany had never seen before. It startled her at first because they looked for a moment like Quinn and Sandi, but that was only the hair. Still, it looked like a good place to investigate a little deeper.
She clicked on the place that said next picture. The next one came up. In this one they were kissing, and their tongues were licking together. It was a much larger, more close-up picture than the last one. Again Tiffany felt that odd stirring deep inside, and an itching at her inner thigh.
Tiffany reached out and turned off the computer, then quickly left the room. Her cheeks were flushed bright red, and she was (ew) sweating.
Tiffany stayed up late that night in her bed, looking at the ceiling and trying to get her mind around this new concept she had found. She had always thought that a "lesbian" was a girl who kissed other girls and usually had no fashion sense at all, never wore makeup, kind of like that weird girl from Quinn's house, except for the kissing thing. But from what she knew of Sandi, and what she had seen on the computer, that wasn't necessarily the case. Lesbians could also be pretty girls with good fashion sense who were really popular, and just happened to kiss other girls.
Tiffany thought about the times she had been kissed by guys. It was okay, but she did kind of wonder what all the fuss was about. Guys would usually want to kiss her goodnight at the end of a date. There were guidelines in the Fashion Club handbook about that sort of thing, like how many dates he needed to take you on and how much dinner had to cost and what kind of car he needed to have before he could kiss you. That was funny, because Quinn and Sandi had never dated before and neither of them even had a car, and they were kissing. Probably the rules were different when it came to girls.
Anyway, sometimes she would let the guys kiss her, and it would always feel kind of nice, but that was all. There was no reaction, any more then if she were kissing a lipstick blotter. The girls in the pictures were certainly having more of a reaction than that. Just thinking about it was causing the same feeling Tiffany had felt before. She tried to ignore it, but it kept coming back as she thought more and more about Sandi and Quinn, and what it might feel like to them as they kissed each other or touched each other's breasts or did any of the other things Tiffany had seen.
Tiffany shrugged – there was no one watching in her room, and no reason why not to indulge herself a little. She slipped off her nightgown, and after a moment's thought slipped out of her panties as well. The silk sheets felt wonderful on her naked skin. A sudden chill struck her, causing her to shiver all over...
When she was able to think clearly again, Tiffany saw that she had kicked all the sheets off the bed onto the floor, and that she glistened with perspiration from head to toe. Just this once, she didn't mind about that. Her heart pounded as if to want to fly out of her chest, and she gulped for air as if she had just swum up from the bottom of a deep, warm pool.
As she lay there, her breathing slowed, her racing heart quieted, and the stillness of the room settled upon her. She felt tired, ready to sleep. She sat up and reached for the sheet that lay crumpled at the foot of her bed, and as she did so, she saw her own face in the mirror. The expression she wore was unlike any she had ever seen on herself – but it was exactly like the girls in the pictures on the computer that day. So that was what they were feeling, she thought.
She curled up under the sheet, and soon was sleeping as deeply as she ever had in her life.
"Guys, for the last time, I'm not going to Homecoming with some other guy, I'm going with the rest of the Fashion Club!"
"But Quinn, I don't understand!"
"Is it because we kidnapped you the other night?"
"Stacy made us do it! She said you were going to die!!"
Quinn's patience was definitely wearing thin. Couldn't these guys take a hint? She was ready to go ahead and tell them the real reason she wasn't going to Homecoming with a guy, just to get them off her back. But that wasn't just her secret, and it probably wouldn't work anyway. "Look, guys," she said, for what she hoped would be the last time, "I'm not mad at you for dragging me out of my house in the middle of the night in a burlap sack – not that I want you to do it again."
"I didn't even have anything to do with it!" wailed Jeffy.
"Shut up, Jeffy. And before either of you other guys say anything, I want you to shut up too. I am not, will not, go to Homecoming with any of you. I am also not going with any other guy. I am going with my friends. For God's sake, find another girl to pester!"
"But, Quinn..." said Joey.
"I don't understand!" said Jeffy.
"Don't you like us anymore?" asked Jamie.
Quinn looked around at the three pathetic, sad faces around her, and made her choice. "Guys... I'm not going to date anyone for a while, anymore. And I don't want you to get me sodas, or carry my bags, or anything like that, because it's not fair to you." She went to each one of them, one at a time, and gave each a kiss on the cheek. "You've all been really nice to me. If any girl ever asks me about any of you, I'll tell her that you're terrific guys. I'm sorry, it just isn't going to work out between us." With that, Quinn showed them her back and walked away.
The three of them stood there for a moment.
"What are we going to do now?" Joey asked.
"Hmm..." Jeffy said. "There's a cute exchange student who arrived last week from France or something."
"Hey, I saw her first!" shouted Jamie.
"She'll never go for you guys, she wants me!"
The three of them argued amongst themselves on their way to the next class.
Quinn arrived early to her next class, having discovered that things actually went a lot quicker when she didn't have to divide her books between the three J's and then collect them again. She sighed. In a way, she was really going to miss those guys. It was kind of nice having them at her beck and call, even if one did have to put up with the constant bickering between them.
"Hey, Quinn!" said a bright, cheery voice next to her.
"Hey... Tiffany?" Quinn said, startled. It hadn't sounded like Tiffany.
"How's it going?" Tiffany asked. "I'm, like, reaaally doing great this morning." She began humming a happy little tune.
Quinn stared at Tiffany, uncertain of what to make of all this. "Um, Tiffany, are you feeling all right?"
"Never better," she replied. "Why, don't I look like I'm feeling all right?"
"Actually, you do look different. There's a... glow about you today. Are you wearing different makeup, or something?"
Tiffany looked surprised. "I wouldn't do that, Quinn. I mean, not without talking to the club first. Oh, hi Sandi, hi Stacy!"
Stacy and Sandi were likewise taken aback. Tiffany actually seemed... perky. Oh sure, she was still taking twice as long to say anything, but she was definitely happy.
Stacy recovered first. "Um... Hi, Tiffany. How are you doing today?"
"Oh, I'm feeling really good today... for some reason I just woke up this morning feeling as if all my favorite outfits were marked down fifty percent..."
Well, that was certainly something they could all identify with. Explanations would just have to wait until after class.
Lunch that day was taken up mostly by finalizing of plans for Homecoming. With no guys in the picture, it suddenly became necessary to arrange for things like dinner, flowers, limousine, and after-party plans by themselves.
"Now then," Sandi said. "Since Tiffany has an aunt who owns a greenhouse, she's taking care of the flowers. Stacy will arrange for the car, which we have agreed must be white so as not to clash with our outfits, right Stacy?"
"Check!" Stacy agreed. She was enjoying these meetings so much more lately, and was reminded of why they had formed the club in the first place.
"Quinn, you will be making dinner reservations for us... where was that again?"
"Copazano's," Quinn said. "It's this cute little Italian bistro, very stylish, and my Dad's doing some consulting for them or something so I can get us in on short notice."
"All right. Just remember girls, one plate of Alfredo sauce is the equivalent of eating a stick of butter."
Shudders all around.
"And I shall arrange for after-party entertainment." She glanced at Stacy and Tiffany. "And, um, don't worry about me and Quinn, we'll be, er, discreet."
"Oh, it's no big deal, Sandi!" Stacy said.
"Yeah..." Tiffany agreed.
"By the way, Tiffany –" Quinn was interrupted by the bell.
Sandi closed up the planning book and passed it off to Stacy. "All right, ladies. Remember to pick up your dresses tonight. Unfortunately, there won't be enough time for us to go together to everywhere we need to go, so keep your cell phones handy in case of an emergency. Location check?"
"Cashmans at Cranberry Commons for dress, then Diamond Girl for jewels," said Quinn.
"Trendsetters on Seventh Avenue, then Gemstones," said Stacy.
"Trendsetters on Seventh Avenue, then Ice Palace," said Tiffany.
"And my outfit is at Cashmans at the Mall of the Millennium, my jewelry is at Diamond Girl. See you all tonight at eight o'clock for final coordination check!"
Daria dodged out of the way as Kevin tore down the hall, football in hand, ready to kick some butt.
"QB, coming through!" he shouted as he passed.
"Go, Kevy, GO!!" Brittany encouraged.
"Idiot," Daria said, also by way of encouragement.
"Hey, it'll all pass soon," Jane remarked. "This school hasn't won a Homecoming game in over ten years. Everyone will be properly melancholy by next week."
"Stop trying to make me feel better. Uh-oh, fashion alert."
Jane looked up and saw the fashion foursome headed their way, talking back and forth about dresses or something. As they passed, Stacy glanced shyly at her and whispered, "hi."
Jane smiled and waved discreetly back at her.
"Oh God, I think I'm going to be ill," Daria said once the club was a safe distance away.
"You wouldn't understand, Daria," Jane said as she shook her head. "We shared something special, you know. Even if we did have to go back to our separate worlds afterward, Stacy and I had a moment together once."
Daria, for once, had nothing to say.
Trendsetters on Seventh was, at one time, the kind of place the Fashion Club avoided like a clearance rack. Ever since they had come under new ownership, however, they were living up to their name. Every dress was one of a kind, thus eliminating any possibility of duplication with another girl. Sure, they were a bit more expensive, but it was worth it.
Tiffany and Stacy stood back-to-back in the dressing room, checking themselves out in three-way mirrors and looking for the slightest flaw in their dresses.
"It's so hard to see your own back in these mirrors," Stacy complained. "What they really need is a closed-circuit TV camera pointed at your back."
"Cameras in the dressing room?" Tiffany asked.
"Ew. Good point. Well, it was a nice idea."
"So... who was that girl you said hi to?"
"Hm? What girl?"
"The one in the hall," Tiffany said. "The one in the red shirt who hangs out with Quinn's cousin."
Stacy didn't say anything, concentrating fiercely on her left shoe for some reason.
"So... how do you know her?" Tiffany pressed.
"Oh, you know, I've seen her at Quinn's house."
"But, she waved back to you, like she knew you..."
"Um... she painted my picture the other day, and it came out really good."
"Oh." Tiffany still looked doubtful.
"Really, I can show you the picture!" Stacy insisted.
"I believe you, Stacy," Tiffany said.
"So, why were you in such a good mood today?" Stacy asked.
"Oh... I just got a really good night's sleep..." Tiffany said.
"Oh," Stacy replied. She wasn't convinced either.
Boxes in hand, Stacy and Tiffany left the store.
"What time is it?" Tiffany asked.
"Um... four thirty," Stacy replied. "We've got lots of time, do you want to go get a soda?"
"Diet soda," Tiffany clarified.
"Um, Tiffany? I wasn't totally honest with you before."
"What about? You mean, my dress does make me look fat?"
"No, not that!" Stacy said hastily. "I mean, about how I know that girl... Jane."
"She really did paint my picture," Stacy said. "But... there's more to it than that."
Stacy took a deep breath. "You know all this stuff going on with Sandi and Quinn? You know, how they're... lesbians?" The last word was whispered.
"Well, I was kind of curious about it, you know?"
Tiffany nodded. "So was I. I could show you how to use the little roller thingy on the computer, if you want to find out more about it."
Stacy looked perplexed. "What are you talking about?"
"Never mind," Tiffany said. "So, you were curious?"
Stacy nodded. "So, I... asked Quinn to kiss me."
Tiffany's eyes got wide. "Did she do it?"
"No," Stacy said. "She said it wouldn't be fair to Sandi."
"Yeah," Tiffany agreed. "They are kind of going out. But, what does this have to do with that girl?"
"Well, Quinn said I should kiss someone else, so she set it up so Jane would paint my portrait for me, and, well..." Stacy smiled in a shy way and looked down at the ground.
"Whoa," Tiffany said. "Did you faint again?"
"I came close," Stacy admitted.
"So, what was it like?" she asked.
"It... took my breath away," Stacy said. "It was so different from kissing a guy, you know? I mean, it gave me the chills, but they were warm chills, not cold ones. I don't think I can explain."
"I understand," Tiffany said, thinking back to the previous night alone in her bed.
They sat in silence for a bit, sipping their diet sodas.
"So, why didn't you ask me to kiss you?" Tiffany asked.
Stacy performed a spectacular spit-take, liberally spraying the thankfully empty chair next to them with artificially sweetened carbonated beverage.
Tiffany looked at the mess disapprovingly. "Stacy... eww..."
Quinn showed up at Sandi's house first, not by accident. It was only seven-thirty when she rang the bell. The sudden rush of pounding feet made her roll her eyes. Sandi's brothers were answering the door.
The door flew open, and Sam and Chris grinned at her. "Hi, Quinn!" they said together.
"Oh, hi, guys!" Quinn gushed. "I am, like, so glad to see you!" She kissed each of them on the forehead. "You are such cute little boys, you know that?"
The boys were struck dumb. Neither of them could figure out how to react. On the one hand, Quinn had just kissed them, and on the other, she had clearly stated her opinion of them as nothing more than "little boys". They couldn't say a word.
Which was exactly how Quinn wanted it. She smirked as she flounced past the two of them up to Sandi's room.
"Come in!" Sandi said at the knock.
Quinn slipped around the door. "Is anyone else here?" she asked.
"No," Sandi whispered. "But come in quick, we're not exactly alone in the house."
"I ran into Tweedledee and Tweedledum at the door, and gave them something to think about for a bit," she said, closing the door behind her. "I'll explain that later."
"Good," said Sandi, crossing the short distance between them and pulling Quinn into a brief but intense kiss.
"I've got something for you," Quinn whispered in Sandi's ear.
"Mmm... you know we don't have time for anything kinky..."
"Not that, silly!" Quinn chuckled. She went into her shopping bag and pulled out a small jewelry box. "You still have the second piercing in your left ear, right?"
"I guess so. I haven't used it for two years, but I don't think it's closed up."
"You'll use it tomorrow night," Quinn said, coming back with a small jewelry box. "Open it."
Sandi did. She was surprised at what was inside – of course, she was expecting earrings, and that's what they were, but they were mismatched. "Quinn? Um, you've got one green one and one blue one in here."
"I know," Quinn said. She plucked the green one out and affixed it to her own left ear. "You wear the blue one," Quinn said. "Tomorrow, I'll be wearing a single emerald along with my sapphires, and you'll be wearing a single sapphire along with your emeralds. You know, so that way, we've each got one piece of the other's outfit, and it'll be kind of like we're symbolizing that we're together, and even though I don't think anyone will figure it out, we'll both know it's there."
Sandi looked at the earring in the box for a long time, her face expressionless.
"Um, Sandi?" Quinn asked. "Don't you think it's a good idea?"
A tear fell from Sandi's face into the earring box. "I think it's the most thoughtful, wonderful thing anyone's ever done for me, Quinn..." Sandi said. "Thank you so much."
Quinn's eyes brimmed with tears as well as she hugged her friend and lover tightly to her. "I love you, Sandi," she whispered.
Stacy pulled up to Sandi's house and shut off the car. She was about fifteen minutes early, and decided to wait it out in the car instead of going inside. Quinn's dad's car was parked out front, and odds were that she and Sandi were engaged in pre-meeting activities, and it would be better to wait.
She sighed. Things were better than before, what with Sandi being happy and nice instead of bitchy, and Quinn no longer engaging her in those little power struggles. The club was a better, nicer group now, and it was all because Sandi and Quinn were... dating? That wasn't quite right, but it would do. The thing was, Stacy couldn't help but feel even more left out than before. It was like Quinn and Sandi had a direct connection now outside the club, and sure, Tiffany was nice and everything, but Stacy couldn't relate to her on the same level.
A sharp tap at her window startled Stacy out of her thought. It was Tiffany.
"Where did you come from?" Stacy asked.
"I had a guy drop me off here," Tiffany said. "And I saw you were still outside, so I thought I'd wait with you... you know, if you're waiting..."
"Um, sure!" Stacy said, reaching over to open the passenger side door. She felt a little guilty that she had been thinking unflattering thoughts about Tiffany right before she showed up. She'd make up for it by being really nice.
Tiffany dropped her parcels in the back seat and slid into the car. "Do you mind if I check my makeup?" she asked, pulling down the vanity mirror.
"No problem!" Stacy said. "My car is your car!"
"I thought this was your mom's car..." Tiffany said.
"I meant... never mind."
"So... what do you think Quinn and Sandi are up to?" Tiffany asked.
"They're probably, you know, making out or something," Stacy said quickly.
"Does it make you uncomfortable?" Tiffany asked.
"Well... I just haven't gotten used to it yet, you know."
"Is it because Sandi made a pass at you once?"
Stacy looked surprised at Tiffany. "She never did that! What are you talking about?"
"It was, I don't know, three years ago," Tiffany said. "You guys were sleeping over at my place, and I woke up, and Sandi was holding you and stroking your hair and stuff..."
Stacy was stunned. "You mean... that was real? I thought I dreamed that..."
"Maybe I did... I don't know..."
Stacy was thinking rapidly. "She must have been dreaming too," she said. "She was actually coming on to me in her sleep. That's, like, so weird!"
"Yeah..." Tiffany agreed. "You're not mad or anything, are you?"
Stacy thought. "You know, I would have probably been freaked out at the time, but it doesn't seem like such a big deal now." She smiled a bit. "Actually, it's kind of nice, you know, to think that she might have been attracted to me."
"You're a really pretty girl, Stacy," Tiffany pointed out. "I mean, why wouldn't she be attracted to you?"
For the second time in less than five minutes, Stacy was floored. "Why... Thank you, Tiffany! I think that's the nicest thing anyone's ever said to me!"
"Do you think I'm pretty, Stacy?" Tiffany asked.
"Well, of course you are!"
"Then... why didn't you ask me to kiss you, instead of that Jane girl? You never answered that, you know."
Tiffany sure was having a way of throwing Stacy for a loop. "Um... I don't know, I guess I thought you might freak out or something. I didn't want you to think you were, like, the only girl in the club who didn't kiss other girls. And you told me you weren't a lesbian."
"Yeah, well... I thought lesbians were only really unpopular girls with, like, no fashion sense and stuff. I didn't know that they could also be cute and popular and everything."
"So... you are a lesbian?"
"I don't think so..." Tiffany seemed deep in thought, which was very unusual for her. "No, I don't think so... but, you know, I'd kind of like to know what it's all about, since Quinn and Sandi are so into it."
Stacy took a deep breath. "Tiffany, would you like to kiss me?"
Tiffany smiled. "Sure, Stacy... I'd like that..."
They turned to face each other. Tiffany closed her eyes and moved in closer, her lips shining wet with freshly-applied gloss. Stacy also leaned in, her whole body trembling with anticipation. Their lips touched...
And Stacy pulled away. "Wait," she said.
Tiffany looked up. The first touch had been like an electric shock, her face showed how disappointed she felt about stopping it. "What is it?" she asked.
"Not like this," Stacy said. "Not all rushed, and on the spur of the moment. I want it to be really special."
"What do you mean?" Tiffany asked, puzzled.
"Tomorrow night," Stacy insisted. "We're getting all dressed up and our hair done and everything, but we don't have dates or anything. Now we do. We're going to look beautiful for each other. Quinn and Sandi are going together, maybe we could too. I guess what I'm saying is... Tiffany, will you go to the Homecoming Dance with me?"
"I'd love to," Tiffany said, smiling.
"Oh, hi, Sandi!"
"Today? Sandi, you know how busy today is going to be, what with hair care, makeovers, last-minute arrangements. There's no guys to take care of the menial stuff this time. Are you sure it can't wait until tonight?"
"All right, I don't mind an early lunch. Where should we meet?"
"Well, if you say so. I'll see you in an hour."
"I love you too..."
Quinn hung up the phone.
"Ahem," came a voice from behind her.
"Eep!" squeaked Quinn. She turned and saw Daria standing in her doorway. "God, Daria, are you trying to give me a heart attack or something??"
"Just a friendly word of advice," Daria said. "If you're trying to keep this little affair with you and Sandi a secret, close your door when you talk to her on the phone."
"Get lost, Daria!"
"Fine." Daria turned to go. She did, however, cast a parting shot over her shoulder. "Just realize that, sooner or later, no matter how careful you are, odds are Mom and Dad will find out. When they do, you'll probably want it to be because you tell them, not because they overhear you professing your undying love to Sandi over the phone."
Quinn was about to get angry, then realized Daria had a point. She had an annoying way of having points. In any event, Quinn had less than forty minutes to get out of the house, and that was barely enough time for even minimalist hair and makeup – which was, after all, the plan anyway. She was going to professionals today, for Homecoming, and it was best to walk in with a clean canvas.
Uh-oh. Quinn suddenly realized that she would need a ride to Dega Street, and Daria was the only source of wheels handy. "Daria, wait!"
"Thanks for the ride, Daria," Quinn said grudgingly.
"I was heading this way anyhow."
"Wait a minute! How come I had to pay you ten dollars, then?"
"That was for your company."
"Funny. God, what's with all the traffic?"
"Homecoming parade, I guess," Daria said. "Although after last year, I'm surprised they're doing it again. Why aren't you and your little friends involved?"
"You said it yourself. After last year?" Quinn shuddered at the still-fresh memory of all that had gone horribly wrong on that float.
"Mm. Well, maybe Jane will get some good pictures of Homecoming Carnage this time."
It took about five seconds for Quinn to reach an odd conclusion from that statement. "Wait a minute. If you're not meeting Jane at Dega Street, and Tom didn't pick you up from home, why are you going?"
"Umm... that's not your concern."
Quinn smirked. Daria was definitely trying to hide something. "Out with it, Daria. What are you up to?"
Daria grumbled. "I'm... going to Homecoming, and I need a dress."
"You are?" Quinn asked, stunned. "When did this happen?"
"Last night, Tom asked me if I'd be interested in going, seeing as it was my senior year. At first I didn't want to go, but Jane talked me into it. Something about how Tom and I had more or less started our relationship at last year's Homecoming, and this would be like coming full circle. In the end, I couldn't resist the irony."
"Daria... can I just say that you have really weird reasons for doing things?"
"Well, there's also the fact that Mystic Spiral is playing the dance, and Jane's going for moral support, and I need to go to support her. Besides, somehow I doubt my circumstances are the most unusual out of the two of us."
Quinn blushed. "Umm... Daria, you don't think I'm weird or anything, do you?"
Daria looked straight ahead. "Ordinarily I say yes out of sheer force of habit, but I'm afraid you'd take me seriously." She paused for a moment. "The thing is, I've never seen you so genuinely happy, and I've certainly never imagined that Sandi could turn such a one-eighty in her personality. The fact is, the two of you are perfect for each other. It's obvious, you're in love." The last word sounded as though Daria were desperately trying to keep the bitterness out of her voice.
"What are you so upset about?" Quinn asked. "I mean, you have Tom."
"This isn't about me," Daria said through clenched teeth.
Sometimes, Quinn knew when to quit. This was one of those times. "Look, Daria, do you have your dress picked out already, or are you still shopping for it?"
"I'm going basic black, minimal and to the point," Daria said, obviously relieved at the change in topic, even if it was to fashion.
"Daria, there are hundreds of different black dresses! Why don't you let me help you pick one out? I have to meet Sandi for lunch, but I should have about an hour in between that and my hair appointment to help you."
"Forget it, Quinn."
"Daria. Fact: I know more about shopping for clothes that you'd ever want to. If you're going to do this, don't you want to do it right? I mean, you're not the type to do things halfway."
Daria thought for a moment. "All right. Since it couldn't possibly last longer than an hour, I'll accept."
Quinn smiled. "Can I have my ten dollars back, then?"
Daria graciously handed it over.
Sandi waited at a table in the small café at the west end of Dega Street. It was the sort of place that had a few sandwiches and burgers on the menu, which was a laminated sheet of typewritten paper. The tables were molded plastic and the salad bar didn't go much further than lettuce and tomatoes. All in all, it was the last place someone from the fashion club might go, which was exactly why Sandi had picked it. What she had to talk about, she didn't want overheard by anyone who knew her.
She looked up as a familiar red SUV caught the corner of her eye. It pulled up to the curb and dropped Quinn off. Sandi caught a brief glimpse of Daria at the wheel before it moved on.
Quinn saw Sandi through the window right away, and noticed her unusual outfit of dark glasses and a black beret. Sandi was obviously making an effort not to be recognized. Quinn slipped inside, came quietly up to the table and sat down.
"Hi, Sandi," she said quietly but brightly.
"Hello Quinn," Sandi said, smiling. "Sorry to drag you out here like this. If I had looked more carefully at the menu, I'd have picked somewhere else. Do you know, they don't even have low-fat salad dressing?"
"What is the world coming to?" asked Quinn.
Sandi sipped at her diet soda, then looked Quinn in the eye. "Um, Quinn, I know we're both really busy today... but I wanted to make sure about something."
"Are we planning on... coming out tonight?"
Quinn sat back for a moment. The question hadn't been completely unexpected, but Quinn didn't have an answer for it either.
Sandi misinterpreted Quinn's silence. "Don't worry, Quinn, I'm not going to get all upset if you say you don't want to. That was really selfish of me before."
"Oh Sandi, don't worry about it. It's in the past, and I think we're better for having gotten it out of the way." She gave Sandi's hand a brief squeeze.
Sandi smiled again. "It's just that... I was imagining how great it could be if this were like a real Homecoming date, where we toast our love at dinner, dance the night away, get our picture taken together... and make it a night to remember."
Quinn sighed. "Sandi, you know that even if we did go public with this, it wouldn't be that easy."
"I know... I just thought, even one kiss on the dance floor might be worth it."
"What do you want to do?" Quinn asked.
Sandi looked into her lap. "I don't know," she said. "I don't have the courage to decide this for myself." She chuckled, and looked back up at Quinn. "Two weeks ago, I could never have admitted something like that to you."
"A lot has changed, Sandi. And the really great thing is, I got what I originally wanted. I have you as the best, closest friend I ever could have imagined."
"I love you, Quinn," Sandi whispered.
"And I love you," Quinn whispered back. "But I don't know if we've reached the point where we can do more than whisper that to each other."
Sandi looked thoughtfully out the window for a moment, then back at Quinn. "Quinn, don't take this the wrong way, but you're smarter than I am."
Quinn smiled. There were still a few things Sandi needed to learn about her if she thought that wasn't a compliment.
Sandi continued, "Whatever you decide, that's what we'll do. If you want to keep it a secret, then we will. If you want to tell everyone, we'll do that."
Quinn sat up and leaned slightly over the table toward Sandi. "Kiss me, Sandi."
"What?" Sandi said, looking frantically around.
"Ignore them," Quinn said. "They're strangers. They don't even know us. If we're even going to consider this, I think we need to try it here first. Kiss me."
Sandi swallowed hard, and nodded. She leaned across the table toward Quinn, and softly kissed her lips. They held the kiss for about two seconds, then let go. Sandi was actually shivering, and Quinn looked flushed.
"Well?" Quinn asked, when she could get past the lump in her throat.
Sandi glanced around as discretely as she could. No one seemed to be so much as looking at them. The waiter approaching their table must have seen, but nothing in his demeanor suggested that he was in any way put out. "I'd say we got away with it," Sandi said, her breath coming out in a rush.
"We've taken an important step, I think," Quinn said. "Now, we have an even harder decision to make."
"What's that?" Sandi asked.
"What are we going to find on this menu that's fit for eating?"
There had been an additional observer of Quinn and Sandi's first public kiss that they had not been aware of. Daria had been surprised to see it, but no more so than she was to have found herself watching her sister and Sandi in the first place. She hadn't known what she was looking for, but the kiss definitely put an end to her surveillance. Daria suddenly felt acutely like an intruder.
Sighing to herself, she wandered a little further down the street to where she could get a falafel and a newspaper, to keep her occupied until Quinn finished lunch with her girlfriend.
Daria was waiting for Quinn as she emerged from the café. She and Sandi were laughing together as they did, and hugged tightly before going their separate ways. Daria got the idea that some very intimate words must have been whispered to each other in that moment of closeness.
She sighed. All her life, she had fought the urge to be envious of her sister. There was plenty that one would think she might be jealous about. Quinn was slimmer, more obviously attractive, had a more outgoing personality, a more active social life. Daria had countered that by deliberately ignoring those traits in herself, which to be honest matched her inborn preferences just fine for the most part. But now Quinn was coming into her own. She was actually interested in learning now – and Daria didn't begrudge her that, she knew that Quinn still had a long way to go if she ever wanted to match Daria intellectually. As far as the social life was concerned, Daria had always valued her one or two true friends far more than Quinn's army of acquaintances. Finally, there was Tom. Daria had never expected that she would be the first out of the two of them to find a serious, deep relationship.
Except now Quinn had that. And it seemed far more intimate, far more compatible, and far more passionate than Daria and Tom could ever hope for. And now, Daria was jealous. She was jealous of the one person she swore she'd never, ever let herself feel that way about.
"Hey, Daria!" Quinn called from across the street. "You ready?"
Daria smiled slightly. For Quinn to acknowledge her so publicly was another thing she never would have thought possible. She felt a sudden, unexpected impulse to try to genuinely bond with Quinn this afternoon. For just a moment, Daria actually considered talking to Quinn about how she felt.
It was a fleeting moment, though. Daria's natural defensive walls quickly re-asserted themselves, and she crushed her feelings down, hiding behind her stoic mask. "Let's get this over with," she said, and crossed the street to meet Quinn.
"How about this one?"
"Daria, if you're not going to take this seriously, we may as well go home."
Daria frowned and returned the dress to the rack. She had seen nothing wrong with it. "Quinn, you know I don't care about trendy, I just want something that works well enough to wear for the evening."
"No-no-no, you're thinking about this all wrong. Some girls, like me or Sandi or Tiffany or Stacy can wear trendy, fashionable stuff and look great in it. You need something more... um..."
"Dull? Concealing? Morbid?"
"Classic. You need a timeless outfit, one that you could just as easily have worn ten years ago or ten years from now. Kind of like the red pump or the diamond earring, something that never goes out of style."
"Uh-huh. And what leads you to this conclusion?"
"Two things. One, you would look lousy in current trends. And two, you'll probably not be doing this again for a very, very long time. We'd better make this outfit last."
Daria had to admit Quinn had a point. "So, what do I do?" she asked, conceding authority.
"All right," Quinn said, actually rubbing her hands. "Let's get started."
Half an hour later, Daria staggered into the dressing room with about twenty different black dresses. Quinn had assured her that they would probably only need to have her try the first five, but it was best to be on the safe side. Daria had tried to point out that the rules only allowed her to take six outfits into the dressing room, but Quinn had flashed her Fashion Club ID at the attendant and that had taken care of it.
Daria found herself in a dressing room considerably larger than she had expected (Fashion Club privileges, no doubt). It had a large three-way mirror on one wall and full-length floor-to-ceiling mirrors on two other walls, a padded bench, and several cedar hangars for her own clothes. Being the cautious sort, Daria checked to make certain the mirrors were up against proper walls instead of video cameras, then shuffled her clothes off.
She caught a glimpse of herself in the three-way mirror, and couldn't help but check herself out a bit. She had grown up a little since her cousin's wedding and the whole bridesmaid nightmare. Her hips were a bit more defined, partly because her waist seemed to have trimmed down a bit. That probably had more to do with the fact that she had less money for pizza lately than anything else. Her breasts seemed larger and fuller than her inner image of herself seemed to agree with. Sure, she was no Brittany (thank God) but her figure did show a definite curve.
Her legs seemed surprisingly toned. Daria never took her boots off except to shower or sleep, and since she didn't have a full-length mirror at home, she never got a good look at her own legs. With her jacket and skirt off, they seemed longer and slimmer. Daria figured that just walking around in those heavy boots probably gave her legs a bit of a workout.
She smiled. Like it or not, she was more attractive than she had realized. She wondered for a moment what Quinn would think, considering how her preferences lay.
Ew, she thought. That's just wrong.
Shaking herself out of her self-examination, Daria reached for the first dress on the pile and started to pull it on.
"That one," Quinn said. "That's the one."
"You've got to be kidding me," Daria replied. "Come on, it's too short."
"Daria, that skirt you always wear is shorter than this dress. You're just not used to seeing your legs without those combat boots. We're definitely going to have to get you some shoes, you know."
"One thing at a time. I can't wear this. Look, it's sheer across the belly. My navel is showing."
"If you got it, flaunt it!" Quinn said.
"I don't got it, Quinn."
"Daria, you do got it. Come on, you're my sister, which means you have an inherent attractiveness."
"Thanks, Quinn, but I just don't think it works. It's too tight, it's got this weird neckline, and... it just isn't right!"
Quinn sighed. "Come with me, Daria." She dragged her sister into the dressing room.
"Now," Quinn said once they got inside. "We're alone. Take the dress off." She started to remove her shirt.
Daria's eyes went wide. "Um, Quinn, I'm fully accepting your new lifestyle and all, but I'm your sister."
Quinn's eyes went wider. "EEEEEEEEEEEWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW!!!!"
Daria winced. "Well, at least we're on the same page there."
Quinn shuddered, then recovered herself. "Okay. We're just going to ignore that whole horrible concept and move on. Here, put this on." She tossed her pink baby tee over to Daria.
"Quinn, what exactly are you trying to prove here?"
"Just do it! I'm risking being late for my hair appointment, you know!"
Daria shrugged, and squeezed into the t-shirt.
"Now, take these jeans, and put those on too."
"Where did you get these?"
"I figured you might need some convincing, so I grabbed them while you were changing. They're your size, just put them on."
Daria did so.
"Okay. Now, take a look in the mirror. What do you see?"
Daria looked. "I see the dreadful possibilities that might have been had my genetic code been just a little different."
"No, Daria. I mean, does the outfit work on you, or not?"
"Not a chance in Hell."
"Why not? I mean, it did before, remember?"
"What?" Daria said, startled.
"You know," Quinn said. "Back when I was going through my 'deep' phase, you dressed like me to shock me out of it. The thing is, you really did look great. Why don't you now?"
"Look, I was deliberately trying to be you at the time. I did the whole makeup and hair thing, I did the pose, I walked the walk."
"Precisely," Quinn smiled. "Daria, you can't treat a formal dress like a T-shirt and combat boots. You need hair, makeup, accessories, but more important, you need the right attitude. These dresses are designed for attractive people, which you are one, even if you don't know it. But if you don't feel beautiful, it'll just never work."
Daria looked at herself in the mirror again. She shrugged. "Okay. I'll try it."
"Atta girl!" Quinn caught her shirt as Daria tossed it to her.
"Hey, Quinn?" Daria asked as they finished dressing.
"I can't believe I'm going to ask this, but... do you think that hair salon of yours could squeeze me in?"
Quinn positively grinned. "Sister, we're going to make you a star."
Tiffany loved flowers.
They were beautiful, delicate, slim, and wonderfully aromatic, everything she herself wanted to be. When she wasn't clothes shopping with the rest of the club, she could often spend long, happy hours in her aunt's floral greenhouse, just walking amongst the flowers, or sometimes helping to arrange them for customers. She had a talent for that. It was a lot like putting together the perfect outfit, really.
Sandi had suggested that she take care of flowers for the club since there were no guys to do it, but in truth, Tiffany far preferred it that way anyway. Guys just didn't know anything about flowers, how they should look in a bouquet or a corsage, what kind should go with what outfit, or really anything at all. It took a woman's touch, really.
She had decided that the best thing to do was to go with white roses all around, so that the club as a whole would have that symbol of unity for the evening. She selected four perfect white roses, each with its own character that would set off their outfits. Sandi's had a hint of green, Quinn's a touch of blue, her own a streak of violet, and for Stacy, she chose pure white with no blemish whatsoever. That seemed fitting for Stacy, beyond the fact that it coordinated well with her black dress. Stacy had always seemed to have a certain pure and innocent quality about her, and her flower reflected that.
Tiffany held the flower under her nose and enjoyed its scent while she thought about the night before, when she and Stacy had come so close to sharing a kiss. Tiffany hadn't given much thought to kissing another girl before the whole thing with Sandi and Quinn, but she couldn't get it out of her mind now. It was what Stacy had told her after the meeting, that it was like a kiss from a flower. That was something Tiffany yearned to experience. Tiffany smiled, and gently kissed the rose she would give to Stacy before settling down to arranging it into her corsage.
Sandi arrived back home in the nick of time. The phone was ringing even as she unlocked the door and launched herself across the room for it. "Hello?" she said, trying not to sound out of breath.
"Oh, hello, Sandi. This is Linda."
Sandi frowned. "Yes, mother?"
"I just wanted to let you know that I'll be home very late tomorrow night, and I expect that you won't be throwing any wild parties while I'm gone."
"Mother, it's Homecoming night, I won't even be here!" It was just like her mother to forget something important like that.
"Oh, so you found a date?"
Sandi rolled her eyes. "No, mother, I told you that I'm going with the club. We're not taking boys."
"I'll bet Quinn will have a date there, just to show you up. It would be so like her, the little tramp."
Sandi felt the blood rush to her face. "Mother, I'm going to say this once. Don't you ever talk about Quinn that way again!" She slammed the phone down hard and ignored it when it started ringing again.
Sandi stomped up the stairs to her room. Once there, she took her shoe off and hurled it at her mother's picture on the dresser, breaking the glass and knocking it to the floor. Seething with anger, she threw herself on her bed and pounded the pillow a couple of times, until the rage subsided enough for her to realize how silly she must look. There wasn't even anyone watching, but even when alone, Sandi found it hard to loosen up.
Except when she was alone with Quinn.
She sighed as she thought about what she had just done. It wasn't long ago that she might have agreed with her mother's statement, out of sheer frustration. Ever since she and Quinn had begun their new relationship, Sandi hadn't even seen her mother for more than two minutes at a time, maybe ten minutes total. Naturally, Linda would have no idea how much things had changed.
Sandi sighed, rolled over to the phone, and dialed her mother's cell number. It was busy. Sandi waited for the voicemail prompt and left a message.
"Hello mother, it's me. I'm... sorry I got angry and hung up on you like that. Quinn and I have, er, reached a new understanding, and we've become really close friends over the past two weeks. It just made me angry to hear someone say that about her. We can talk when you get home. I... I love you, Mom."
Sandi hung up the phone, fully aware that she had just said something that her mother hadn't heard from her in years. She also knew that somehow, some way, she would have to tell her mother the whole truth. Not now, of course, but she wanted to do it as soon as Quinn felt ready.
Sandi smiled. In a sense, Helen and Linda might be in-laws some day. That was probably about the most frightening picture either one of them might dream up. Truth be told, Sandi looked up to Helen in a way she didn't do for her own mother. Both were career women, both were climbing the corporate ladder and chipping away at the glass ceiling. But Helen was doing it by working her butt off and learning the ropes, while Linda did it by properly applied office politics and manipulation of people. It was easy to see who was the one to admire, just as it was all too easy to see their reflections in Quinn and Sandi. That wiped the smile off Sandi's face.
With an effort, she forced herself out of bed and banished that line of thought from her mind. It was something she would need to consider later, but today she had no time for this kind of introspection. She had taken care of her obligations to the other girls for the evening, and now it was time to get herself ready for the dance.
Stacy was on cloud nine.
She had just stepped out of her hair appointment, and had cleverly made sure that her dress and accessories would be waiting for her to change into right away. When she came out of the salon, she was ready for a night on the town. Even that wasn't the best part, though.
The best part was (and here Stacy permitted herself a rare pat on the back) that she had arranged for the limousine to pick her up right in front of the salon. She felt the eyes on her as she strolled across the sidewalk to the open door of the long, white, full-stretch limo, her door graciously held open by the chauffer, who was a really cute guy to boot. Trying to looks as though this were the sort of thing she did every day, she slipped gracefully through the door and reclined on the large, luxurious back seat. She felt like absolute royalty.
The car started so smoothly that Stacy could hardly tell they were moving. She pressed the call button and gave the chauffer directions to Tiffany's house, even though he already had them. It just seemed like the thing to do, to tell him where to drive her.
Stacy felt like a child in a candy store. She opened all the little compartments, fiddled with the buttons, channel-surfed on the TV just for fun, and finally uncovered a chilled champagne bottle. What the hell, she thought, and popped the cork. She tossed down a full glass with a toast to life. This was luxury, this was paradise, and although she dearly loved her friends, she was glad for this brief time when it was hers alone.
Feeling the slight buzz of champagne tickle her head, she sat back into the soft upholstery with a long, deep sigh of contentment.
"Tiffany! You look so great!"
"Thanks, Stacy... you look great too..." Tiffany slid into the car and gave Stacy a brief hug – not enough to mess up her outfit or anything, of course. "This is a really nice car, Stacy..."
"-Hic!- Thanks, Tiffany. Here, have some champagne or whatever."
Tiffany looked oddly at Stacy. "Stacy, are you, um..."
"Drunk? Nah." Stacy held up two fingers. "I only had one." She checked her fingers. "I mean, three. No, that can't be right either... ooh, I'm just no good at math!"
Tiffany shrugged. "Oh well... Here's your flower, Stacy."
"Oh, Tiffany, it's so beautiful... thank you..." Stacy leaned over and kissed Tiffany on the cheek. Then she stayed there, cuddled onto Tiffany's shoulder. "I love you, Tiffany, I really do. You're so... smooshy."
"Um... Okay." Tiffany decided that the best course of action would be to just wait until they got to Quinn's house before saying anything else. She took a sip of the champagne Stacy had given her, and perked an eyebrow with interest.
"All right, Daria. Take a look."
Daria summoned her courage and turned to look in Quinn's mirror. She blinked, and looked again. "Holy good gravy."
Quinn sighed happily. "My big sister's all grown up."
"I look like... like... what the hell do I look like?"
"You look like you, Daria. The you that nobody's ever seen before. And maybe they'll never see her again, but for tonight, you are hot."
The doorbell rang.
"That's Tom, I guess." Daria turned to leave.
"Wait, Daria!" Quinn shouted. "You're not just going to go down and meet him, are you? I mean, you have to make him wait!"
"Quinn, if he waits, he'll have to talk to Dad."
Quinn thought about that. "We can bend the rules just this once. Go get him, gorgeous."
Daria paused at the doorway. "Quinn... um, thanks."
Quinn smiled. "I love you, sis."
Daria's face attained an expression that Quinn had never seen before in her entire life. Her eyes misted, and not just because of the contacts. Her cheeks flushed with a faint red glow. Her lower lip actually quivered.
Then Daria seemed to regain control. "God, don't make me sick or something," she muttered, and left.
Quinn wasn't fooled. She choked back her own tears, unwilling to spoil her mascara, and went back to her mirror to apply a few finishing touches.
Tom had never felt so nervous about a date in his life. He tugged at the bow tie around his neck that had suddenly become way too tight.
It wasn't that he was worried that he might say or do the wrong thing, or that he wouldn't be well-received by Daria's friends – who did exist beyond Jane, despite Daria's assurances to the contrary. It was more because Daria and Homecoming seemed like something along the lines of Nitro and Glycerin. There was absolutely no telling what might happen.
That, of course, was what made it so exciting.
He buzzed the bell again, and Jake answered the door.
Tom sighed inwardly, and put on his best responsible-young-man face. "Hello, Mr. Morgendorffer. I'm here for Daria."
"Tom, my man, come in!" Jake enthusiastically pumped Tom's hand and led him into the house. "Daaaria, your date is here!"
Tom glanced up at the top of the stairs – and felt his heart jump into his throat. There was an absolute vision of loveliness up there. Her hair caught his attention first; it was twisted into a simple and utterly becoming style that wound down onto one shoulder, copying the line of the dress which hugged her body tightly to show off a figure that even Tom had only guessed at. Her lips were ruby red, her eyes touched up gently to show their natural upsweep at either side. Her legs seemed to go on forever. And to top it off, she actually smiled just a little.
"Oh, hi!" Jake said. "You must be one of Quinn's friends. Can you tell her sister Daria that her date is here?"
"It's me, Dad."
Jake's jaw hit the floor.
Tom recovered as quickly as he could. He stepped up to offer Daria his hand. "You look really nice tonight, Daria," he said. That was kind of like saying that the Sahara in August was a trifle warm, but Tom knew that Daria would only be put off by flowery compliments, even if they were all true.
"Thanks, Tom," she said, holding the smile. "Nice tux."
"Yeah, well, all my cargo pants are in the wash. Here, this is for you." He pinned a red rose to her shoulder strap.
"D-D-Daria?" Jake stammered.
"Yeah, Dad, it's me. But I turn back into a pumpkin at midnight, so we have to get going. Later." She dragged Tom out the door.
"What's the hurry?" Tom asked once they were outside.
"I didn't want to give him the chance to go for a camera," Daria said. "Um, Tom... do you think I'm overdoing it?"
"Well, you're definitely going to shake people up. Seriously though, what's wrong with doing something a little out of character every once in a while?"
"Tell that to my sister."
"Huh? What's she been up to lately?"
Daria smiled. "I'll tell you in the car. You'll never believe it."
They got into the car – Tom's mother's Jaguar, Daria noticed – and left for the restaurant. As they pulled out, a long white limousine pulled in. The chauffer got out, walked briskly up to the front door, and knocked.
Jake answered. "That was Daria," he said, still trying to recover.
"Excuse me, sir?"
"Oh! I mean, what can I do for you?"
"I'm here for Quinn Morgendorffer. I'm driving her and her friends tonight."
Jake saw the limousine parked out in front of his house. "Wow! And to think I had to take a bus to my Homecoming dance! My father wouldn't let me use the car, lousy untrusting bastard!"
"Indeed, sir," the chauffer said, smiling benignly.
"Hi Dad! Bye Dad!" Quinn kissed her father on the cheek and left as quickly as possible.
"Oh! Uh, bye Quinn, have a good time!" Jake went inside, looked around to see if anyone was watching, and turned on mud wrestling.
Quinn let the driver open the door, and stepped into the car. "Hi guys! she said.
"Quinnie!!" squealed Stacy. She tried to stand up and go hug Quinn, but bumped her head on the low ceiling and then fell onto the floorboards when the limo pulled away from the curb. Tiffany obviously thought this was the funniest thing she'd ever seen, and cracked up laughing.
"Um... guys, are you all right?" Quinn asked.
Stacy was likewise hysterical. Neither of them could answer.
Quinn glanced around and noticed the empty champagne bottle. "Did you guys just finish that bottle by yourselves?" she asked, astonished.
"Shtacy drank most of it..." slurred Tiffany, her voice not quite as rapid and clear as usual.
"Oh, come off it, you sponge, you drank two glasses and then chugged most of the rest of it right before we got here."
"That was you, Stacy," Tiffany said.
"I mean there, where we were." Stacy hadn't heard Tiffany. "At Quinn's house. You know, where her cousin lives. What was I saying?"
Quinn smiled and shook her head. "Stacy, you're hammered."
"And loving it!!" Stacy yelled, tossing back her head and cackling. "I've spent my whole life timid, and now I feel like I can do or say anything in the world, and it's great to be alive!!"
"Okay, Stacy, just try not to do anything you'll regret..." Quinn was happy for Stacy in a way, but also a bit worried. At least she had possessed the good sense to do this among friends instead of on a date with a guy. Besides, once she got some food in her, it would kill the buzz a bit.
Stacy decided to try and get back up into her seat, and slipped off again as the car pulled to a stop in front of Sandi's house. Judging by Tiffany's reaction, it was even funnier the second time than the first.
"Where are we? Is this Sandi's house?" Stacy pulled herself up to the window and looked eagerly out. "Yes! Marcel's going to get her! Hey Tiffany, do we have another bottle anywhere? Sandi and Quinn haven't had any bubbly yet!"
Quinn smirked. The bubbly had featured rather prominently into a recent, fairly important turning point in her life. "Oh, don't worry about it Stacy, I'm perfectly fine."
"Here she comes..." said Tiffany, pointing slightly to the left and down from where Sandi actually was. "Wow, she looks so pretty..."
"Careful Tiffany, Quinn might get jealous!"
Before Quinn could think of anything to say to that, the door opened and Sandi got in. "Hey, ladies. Ready for a night to remember?"
"Wow! That'll be great!!" enthused Stacy.
"Assuming she remembers any of it," Quinn muttered.
Sandi looked critically at Stacy. "Stacy? Are you drunk?"
"Yup!" she said happily.
"Tiffany's a little tipsy too," Quinn added.
Sandi looked for a moment like she might get angry, then shrugged her shoulder. "Oh, what the hell. We're doing this to have fun, Stacy and Tiffany just started the party a little early."
"Oh... I almost forgot... here's your flowers." Tiffany held out a pair of clear plastic boxes with unsteady hands, which Quinn and Sandi managed to grab after the second try. "Quinn, you get the blue one, and Sandi gets the green one... you know, so it matches..."
Quinn noticed she had the green one, and started to switch boxes.
Stacy stopped her. "No, silly, you're supposed to pin them on each other! I mean, are you dating tonight or not?"
Sandi and Quinn shrugged, and put the flowers on each other's shoulder straps. It was actually kind of romantic, in a way.
Tiffany looked back and forth at Sandi and Quinn for a while.
"What?" Sandi asked finally.
"Aren't you guys going to kiss, or something?" Tiffany asked.
Quinn and Sandi looked at each other. This was going to be a long night.
As the limousine pulled up in front of the restaurant, Sandi got everyone's attention. It was a little difficult pulling Stacy away from the window, where she was waving at everyone they passed, but finally they managed.
"All right then," Sandi said. "Quinn's made reservations for us, and we're ten minutes early. Stacy, Tiffany, I don't mind that you're a little, er..."
"Plastered?" offered Stacy.
"Exactly. The thing is, we really don't want to get kicked out for that, it'll put a total bummer on the evening."
"We'll be good," Tiffany promised.
"Just try to concentrate on balance," Quinn said. "We'll get you to our table and everything, and once you've got some appetizers in you, most of the buzz should go away."
Stacy pouted. "I don't want it to go away! I feel so happy, I could just burst!"
"Stacy... ew..." Tiffany said.
"Stacy, I promise we'll have refreshments after the dance," Sandi reassured her. "Just for now, try not to embarrass anyone, especially yourself. Hair check!" Sandi whipped out a compact mirror, and the other girls followed suit. Stacy whipped hers right through the moonroof.
"Oops," she giggled.
"Never mind, Stacy, I'll check your hair," offered Quinn.
"Oh, thank you Quinn," Stacy said. "You're so nice all the time, no wonder Sandi likes you so much."
Quinn raised an eyebrow. "Um, sure, Stacy."
Sandi frowned a bit, but said nothing.
Stacy managed to get all the way to the table with a minimum of fuss. Once there, she sat down a little hard and would have fallen if Tiffany hadn't grabbed onto her arm and pulled her upright.
"Careful, Stacy..." she advised.
"I'm fine, don't worry about it. Hey, make sure Sandi and Quinn are next to each other so they can play footsie under the table!" The last part was whispered, but a bit loudly.
"Shut up, Stacy!" Sandi hissed. She was really starting to get peeved.
"Don't have a cow, Sandi," Stacy said. "I mean, no one heard or anything."
"Stacy..." Sandi began, her face getting red.
"Oh, was I talking out of turn again?" Stacy asked innocently. "God forbid poor Stacy should ever do that. I mean, the club bylaws specifically forbid Stacy from ever speaking her mind." She deliberately hid behind a menu.
"Um, Stacy, what's wrong?" Tiffany asked.
"Can't talk," Stacy replied. "Sandi didn't give permission."
There was a very uncomfortable silence around the table. Sandi looked as angry as she'd ever been, Quinn seemed more distressed than anything else, Tiffany was just confused, and Stacy refused to show her face to the rest of the table at all.
"Bon stasera, signorinas. Welcome to Copazano's. May I take your drink orders?"
"Ask Sandi," Stacy muttered just barely loud enough to hear.
"I'll have a diet cola with a twist of lemon," Quinn said quickly.
""I'd like... the same," Tiffany said.
"Me as well," Sandi said, glaring across the table at Stacy.
Stacy didn't say anything.
"And for you, signorina?" the waiter asked Stacy after a bit.
"Guess I'd better have the same thing as well," Stacy said. "Fashion Club solidarity, and all."
"Of course," said the waiter, not missing a beat. "One moment, and I'll be back with your drinks and bread."
"No butter," Stacy insisted. "We wouldn't want to get fat."
The waiter nodded curtly and was away.
"Stacy, would you care to explain yourself?" Sandi asked tightly. "Your behavior is simply atrocious."
"What's the matter, Sandi?" Stacy asked, putting her menu down and looking Sandi in the eye. "Don't like who I am with a few inhibitions lowered? You probably prefer the little groveling Stacy who does whatever you say and hangs on your every word, desperate to please. Well, not to worry, I'm sure she'll be back as soon as the champagne wears off. Then you can go on being you, and I'll just sit there and take it like a good little doormat." She raised her menu again.
Sandi stood up, her face an emotionless mask. "Excuse me," she said, and walked quickly away.
Quinn got up to follow.
"Don't do anything I wouldn't do," Stacy suggested.
Quinn ripped Stacy's menu out of her hands and looked her in the eyes. "Bitch," she whispered, and hurried after Sandi.
Stacy was absolutely shocked. "T-Tiffany? Did Quinn just say what I thought she said?"
Tiffany started to say something, then looked intently into her water glass. "These, um, ice cubes are so... sparkly," she observed.
Stacy hung her head, and tried desperately not to cry. She almost succeeded.
Quinn caught up to Sandi on the veranda that overlooked the city. "Sandi?" she asked.
"Go away," Sandi said.
Quinn ignored her and stood next to her at the railing. "Sandi, you know that was the liquor talking, not Stacy."
"She hates me," Sandi said softly. "She really does. And the worst part is, in a couple of hours she's probably going to break down and tearfully beg my forgiveness, but I'll know deep down that she meant every word she just said."
Quinn laid a hand on her shoulder. "Sandi, I said something fairly similar to you a couple of weeks ago, and we got over it pretty well," she said. "We wouldn't be where we are now if we hadn't aired those bad feelings."
"It's different with Stacy," Sandi insisted. "You said all that because you wanted to be closer friends. Stacy doesn't want to be closer, she hates me. She probably always has. She just couldn't say it to my face until now." Sandi's tears dropped over the railing. "Have I really been so awful to all of you, Quinn? Have I been such a horrible person?"
"Don't take all this on yourself, Sandi," Quinn said. "You have a... forceful personality. Stacy is more passive, it's in her nature. The thing is, the two of you assumed your natural roles, but over time it got to the point where Stacy didn't feel like she had anything of her own to say anymore. And tonight, she got drunk, and all the negative feelings she's had bottled up just came out."
"And what about Tiffany?" Sandi asked. "How much does she despise me without letting on? For that matter, what are you hiding?"
Quinn sighed. "I can't speak for anyone else. But I'll tell you this. In the time that I've known you, I've seen you get more and more protective of yourself and your power in the club. You've been a big fish in a little pond, and you've tried to control as much as you can. Tiffany doesn't seem to mind, so there's no conflict. I step out of line from time to time, but you let it slide, partly because if the two of us ever went head to head, you might lose, and that scares you. But if Stacy ever says anything against your opinion, you know you can enforce your will. You might not have even noticed you were doing it. But every time you do, her resentment builds just a little bit more, and she has no release. Until tonight.
"And yes, I'll be honest with you, I thought for a while that you were a controlling and selfish bitch," Quinn continued. Sandi gave her a hurt look. "Come on, Sandi, you knew it was true. You probably even took some pride in it. And it'll probably do you some good someday, I mean, when you need to break through the glass ceiling, you'll have a sledgehammer to do it with. But here's what else I know about you. You're strong and passionate. You might feel the need to put people in their place every once in a while, but you'd never really hurt someone, not deliberately. Deep down, you want what's best for all of us. And I love you with all my heart, Sandi."
Sandi turned to Quinn, and, oblivious to who might be around and might see them, embraced and kissed her. Quinn returned the kiss with no sense of shame, no self-consciousness. If anyone had been looking in their direction, they never noticed.
Stacy felt like dirt. It wasn't the first time, but this time seemed like a record low. She just wanted to crawl under the table and die.
Tiffany had eventually excused herself and gone, presumably, to the ladies room. Quinn had gone after Sandi. Stacy sat there and felt alone and miserable, watching the ice melt in the other girl's drinks. She wondered if they would come back for her. She wondered if maybe she should just call a cab and go home. Her head was still swimming slightly, but it hurt now. Her throat had a lump in it that just wouldn't go away. She wanted to go off somewhere and cry for hours, but she couldn't leave the table. She didn't want her friends to come back and wonder what had happened to her.
Stacy looked up. Tiffany was back.
"Hi," she mumbled.
"Um... Quinn wanted me to tell you that her and Sandi are going to eat dinner out on the patio. Then they're going to take a cab to the dance, or something."
"You might as well take the limousine," Stacy said. "I'm going home."
"Quinn said you might say that. She said that if you tried, she would get the waiters to throw a burlap sack over you and drag you to the dance for your own good."
In spite of herself, Stacy smiled. "So... they're not mad at me?" she asked hopefully.
"I wouldn't go that far," Tiffany said.
Stacy's face fell.
"But, we all need to talk this out, not just let it sit there."
Stacy nodded without looking up.
Tiffany sighed. "I never know what to say at times like this."
Stacy reached out to her. "Just... don't leave me alone, please."
Tiffany took Stacy's hand, and the two of them just sat there together.
"Hey, we're Mystic Spiral. Welcome to the Lawndale High School Junior Prom!"
Trent ripped out a chord that shook the gym, completely drowning out anyone who might have tried to tell him that it was Homecoming.
Jane stood and watched with an amused look on her face. The Spiral probably had their talents, though she had yet to see any of them. Whatever they were, playing dance music for them modern teenage crowd was not one of them. The students milled around, uncertain of what to do with themselves while Trent and company launched into "Paingasm". Jane figured that the Spiral probably had about ten minutes tops before Ms. Li booted them off the stage and replaced them with a boombox. Unfortunately, that was more than enough time for them to get almost all the way through "Ice Box Woman".
Out of the corner of her eye, Jane caught sight of Quinn and Sandi entering the gym. She smirked a bit – this was part of the reason she was here. If they were going to pick a night to come out in front of everyone, this was probably it, and Jane wouldn't miss scene like that for the world. Idly, she wondered where the rest of the club was – Daria had said they would all be arriving together.
Speaking of whom, where the hell was Daria, anyway? She had promised to be here. It was getting harder and harder to get her to participate since she'd gotten over Trent. Jane scanned the crowd. There was Kevin, still in his football uniform, sitting by himself in one corner with a look of rejection and despair on his face. Translation: the Lions had lost, Kevin wouldn't shut up about it, and Brittany had stormed off in a huff. The rest of the team was pretty much following his example, except for Mack, who had been elected Homecoming King for the fourth year running. He and Jodie, who naturally was Queen, were sticking close together as usual.
Quinn's former fan club was bothering the new exchange student, who obviously hated them. Jane knew just enough French to know that what words she had directed at them during the course of the evening were not flirtatious ones. There was the usual gang of wallflowers, most of whom Jane recognized from previous self-esteem classes. Upchuck and his frilly, gaudy tuxedo were hanging out by the punchbowl, picking up the ladies. Jane gave it about five minutes before he got the bowl turned over his head. At least this year he'd been smart enough to choose a tuxedo that was the same color as the punch.
Jane did a double take as her eye caught a familiar face. No doubt about it, that was Tom waiting by the restrooms. Daria had to be in there. Jane started to make her way across the crowded floor, where some students were trying their best to dance to completely undanceable music.
Halfway across the floor, Jane caught sight of someone else. Stacy and Tiffany had just arrived. Jane had found it impossible lately to ignore the Fashion Club the way she used to, particularly Stacy. It only made sense. All the same, she would have simply moved on until she noticed the look on Stacy's face. She looked worried and nervous, which was nothing unusual, but Jane was getting a bad vibe from her. It was almost as though she were ready to break down any second. Jane hesitated a moment, then changed course and made her way over toward Stacy.
"Do you see them? Stacy asked.
Tiffany looked around the crowd. "No, I don't think so... but they should be here by now..."
"Oh God, what have I done?" Stacy asked, not for the first time that night. "I can't face them now, I just can't!"
Tiffany shrugged. "Maybe we should leave, then..."
"But then I'd have to see them tomorrow! And the next day!!"
Tiffany did what she always did when she was at a complete loss for words or actions. She stood still and said nothing.
"Hey, ladies," said a familiar voice.
Stacy looked around. Jane was standing right next to her. "Eep!" she said.
"And eep to you as well," Jane replied. "Hello, Tiffany."
"Hi Daria," Tiffany replied.
"No, I'm the other one."
"Oh. Hi Jane."
"At least you remembered. Hey Stacy, can we talk?"
Stacy looked at Jane and said, "I... I... I... I... I..."
Jane didn't have time for this. She grabbed Stacy's arm and dragged her outside. Tiffany watched them leave, almost sure that she should do something.
Daria returned from the restroom. She had to admit, the new look she had for the night had one significant advantage, which was that none of the more moronic students recognized her. Those who had went on about how wonderful she looked, whereupon Daria would say something sarcastic, and they would go away. It was annoying, but amusing at the same time. She found Tom right where she had left him.
"What did I miss?" Daria asked.
"Well, they haven't kicked the band out yet, Upchuck hasn't been humiliated yet, and Jane was coming over, but instead she grabbed this girl by the arm and dragged her outside. I think it was one of your sister's friends."
Daria frowned. "I wonder... was she the Asian girl, the one Quinn's been dating, or the other one?"
"The other one."
"I'd better go check this out," said Daria. She thought quickly, and realized that it might be best if Tom didn't see what she suspected might be going on out there. "Um... do you mind staying here?"
"Sure. I think that French girl over there is about to go ballistic. Wouldn't want to miss that."
"I expect a full report." She kissed Tom briefly, and then started to make her way through the thick crowd to get out.
Jane got Stacy around the corner of the gym and behind a bush.
"Um... Jane, I'm really not that kind of girl..." Stacy whispered, obviously petrified.
"Relax, Stacy, I didn't take you out here to seduce you or anything."
Stacy still looked scared.
Jane sighed. "I just want to know if, well, if everything is all right."
Stacy relaxed a bit, but wouldn't meet Jane's eyes. "Why wouldn't it be?" she asked.
"Because you're jumpier than a frog on speed, that's why. You look scared to death and ready to cry your eyes out at the same time. I just wanted to know what was wrong."
Stacy said nothing.
Jane shrugged. "Suit yourself," she said, and started to leave.
"Jane, wait!" Stacy called.
Stacy sat down on the foundation of the gym. "Is it okay if I talk to you for a bit?"
Jane smiled. "That's why I forcibly dragged you out here."
Stacy sighed. "I did something really wrong, and I don't know what to do."
"Like what? Did you mix fall and spring fashions?"
"Please, give me some credit. No, I... I told off Sandi."
Jane's eyes went wide. "You did? You, the shyest mouse that Lawndale has ever known, stood up to the Thunderbitch? What were you on?"
"Two-thirds of a bottle of champagne."
Jane shook her head. "Well, I'll be damned."
"I said such horrible things to her!" Stacy wailed. "And then she got up and walked away, and Quinn called me a bitch and went after her, and Tiffany doesn't know what I should do!"
"Well," Jane said as she sat down next to Stacy, "From what I can tell, she had it coming to her. She does treat you pretty badly."
"That's the worst part," Stacy sobbed. "I'm really sorry I said all those things, but the truth is, I meant them all. But I don't really hate Sandi, I just wish she wasn't so awful all the time!"
"All the time? It seems to me that lately, she's changed a lot, and for the better."
"I know," Stacy said. "But there's years before that that she just walked all over me. I'm just so..."
Jane waited for a bit. "You're angry with her."
"Yes!" Stacy agreed.
"But your problem is you."
Stacy looked at Jane. "What?"
"She walks all over you because you let her do it," Jane explained. "If you had asserted yourself from moment one, Sandi wouldn't have kept it up all this time. After years of that, anyone would have blown their top. The thing is, what do you intend to do now?"
"I don't know!!"
"Well, you have some choices. The easiest thing to do would be to go and humbly beg forgiveness and take all the blame upon yourself. Then you're right back where you started."
Stacy shook her head. "I can't do that."
"That's good," Jane said. "If you had done that, I'd say there's no hope for you. But there is something else you can do."
Stacy looked up. "What?"
"Before I say anything else, tell me this: Do you really, truly think Sandi is a desirable friend? Do you think that under her callous exterior is someone you want to be around? Do you think you can take her with all her flaws, because in the end her presence will make your life better? To put it in simplest terms... Do you like her?"
Stacy sat lost in thought.
"I'll let you ponder that for a while," Jane said. "In the end, if you decide it's worth it to you, all you need to do is tell her what you feel, without the booze to muddle it. And this time, tell her all that you feel, not just what you're angry about. Make sure she does the same. Then forgive each other, and maybe, you'll find a friend you never knew you had."
Stacy nodded. Jane started to walk away.
"Jane?" Stacy asked.
"Thank you." She suddenly grabbed Jane and hugged her tightly.
Jane stiffened for a moment, then returned the hug. "My pleasure," she said.
They separated for a moment, and caught each other's eyes. Knowing that such a moment would likely never come again, they brought their lips together for a soft, tender kiss.
They were alone, and mostly hidden by the bushes around them. Someone would probably have to be deliberately searching to have found them there.
Her eyes went wide with surprise, but she said nothing, just watching the moment Jane and Stacy shared together, the way they both seemed swept away by the sudden passion of a single kiss. It seemed so very beautiful, so very intimate.
When Jane finally left to go back inside, the quiet observer had already gone.
Tiffany found Quinn and Sandi by one of the refreshment tables, sipping punch. She got there just a dripping wet Upchuck left to go freshen up.
"Hi guys..." she said.
"Oh hi, Tiffany," Quinn said happily, giving her a little hug. She held it just long enough to whisper in her ear, "Where's Stacy?"
"Outside," Tiffany replied.
Sandi didn't notice the exchange. She was watching the crowd with a slight scowl on her face.
Tiffany went up to her and offered a hug, which Sandi grudgingly accepted. "Hi Tiffany," she mumbled.
"Hey Sandi," Tiffany said. "Stacy's really sorry and stuff. She feels really bad."
"Mm-hm," Sandi said.
"We got here together, but then that Jane girl grabbed her and dragged her outside," Tiffany added.
Sandi shrugged. "Maybe she'll treat Stacy better than I did." A careful listener might have noticed the slight tremble that made its way through Sandi's tough-as-nails tone.
Quinn was too taken aback by Tiffany's last statement to notice. "She went outside with Jane? When was this?"
"When we got here. I little bit ago."
"Sandi, I'll be right back," Quinn said. She ran off into the crowd.
Quinn felt a little bad about leaving Sandi in the dust like that, but she was worried about what was happening. If Stacy decided on her own that she was better off without her former friends, that was one thing, but she didn't want Jane seducing her away. She mentally kicked herself for setting the two of them up. Maybe it was even some of Jane's self-confidence rubbing off on her that made Stacy act up in the first place.
Quinn couldn't see very well above the crowd. She lost sight of the front door, and finally made use of the lines on the gym floor to guide her out of the dancing mob. Fate decreed that the line also led her to Daria.
"Daria! Have you seen your friend Jane?"
"Yeah, I sure did," Daria mumbled. Her mind seemed occupied.
"Where? Was Stacy with her?"
"I'd have to say... yes," Daria replied. "Excuse me, I'm trying to find Tom." Daria wandered off.
From where she was, Quinn could see the front door. Jane was there, and she was alone. Quinn breathed a sigh of relief, but she still had to know where Stacy was. If she decided to leave the dance, there was no telling if the club would ever recover. And it was about more than the club; it was about her best friends being ripped apart, all because two weeks ago she'd gotten it into her head to try to pull them closer. If she and Sandi hadn't gotten together, they'd be here tonight with dates instead of each other, and Stacy wouldn't have gotten drunk and lashed out at Sandi, and none of this conflict would have ever happened.
She finally caught up with Jane at the restrooms. "Jane!" she shouted.
Jane turned. "Quinn? What the hell do you want?"
"Where's Stacy?" Quinn asked when they got close enough to talk instead of yell.
"She's outside, she's perfectly fine. Jane's eyes softened. "She's really upset, though. I hope I helped her."
"What did you do?"
Jane shrugged. "I just told her what I thought was best for her. She's got a choice to make now, and I felt like I owed her some help in making it. What can I say, she's kind of got a special place in my heart, now."
Quinn looked Jane in the eye. "You're not trying to take her away from us, are you?"
Jane returned the look. "What she chooses is just that, her choice. But off the record, I hope she does pick the Fashion Club over me. I said my heart goes out to her. My head still finds her annoying after a very short while. But don't tell her I said that, you know how tenderhearted she is."
Quinn smiled. She knew that Jane really did have Stacy's best interests at heart. "Seriously, where can I find her?"
"Around the building, past the fire hose hookup, behind the big bush. Unless she's gone somewhere else."
"Thanks, Jane," Quinn said, and ran back to get Sandi.
Stacy hadn't moved from the spot behind the bush. She was watching the moon come up behind the trees, trying so hard to think, not knowing what to do. This was so important. She could, at this point, walk away from the Fashion Club, from her friends, from all the tangled feelings she'd had not only over the past couple of weeks, but for the past ten years. Or, she could stand her ground. She just didn't know if she had it in her to do either one.
"Stacy?" came the voice.
Stacy looked up. It was Sandi.
"Sandi," she said evenly.
Sandi indicated the ledge where Stacy sat. "Can I sit down?" she asked.
The two of them sat together in silence for a moment.
"Did you really mean all that you said before?" Sandi finally asked. There was no emotion in her voice, it was just a question.
Stacy felt her stomach churn. There was no one there to give her the answer. She would have to face this one on her own. Finally, she nodded her head. "Yes," she said.
"Oh," Sandi replied. She got up to leave.
"Don't go, Sandi," Stacy whispered. "Please don't go."
"Why not?" Sandi said. "You obviously hate me. You seem to have every reason to. You'd be better off without me."
"Is that what you think?" Stacy asked.
"Why shouldn't I think it?" Sandi replied. "You seem to."
"Oh, Sandi," Stacy said. "It's not like that. Will you let me explain? Please?"
Sandi turned and sat back down.
"I don't hate you, Sandi," she said. "I was just really angry with you. You know, because I felt like I never got to say my own opinion or anything. That your way always had to be right."
"Why didn't you ever say anything before?" Sandi asked.
"Don't you see?" Stacy said. "I couldn't. That was the way things were. I didn't know how to say to you that I didn't like following you all the time. I wasn't strong enough. And to tell you the truth, I didn't mind so much before... um..."
"Before Quinn. Do you remember how it used to be, with just the three of us? The way we'd hang out together, and have slumber parties, and watch the fashion shows on TV? I mean, you were always in charge, but it was fun, because we could still talk about other stuff and not have to worry about the club."
Sandi looked thoughtful.
"But then Quinn came along," Stacy said, "and I'm not saying it's her fault, but all of a sudden it was like you were threatened by her. And so everything became about the club, so you could always be President, and you could always make the rules. Ever since then, I feel like I've slowly lost my friend Sandi. And I know you've changed now, and I know that you're not trying to out-popular Quinn anymore, but... there's still two years of resentment that I couldn't just forget..."
Sandi was crying now. She looked over at Stacy with tears in her eyes. "Stacy, I didn't know..."
"It's my fault too," Stacy admitted. "I let you get away with it. I could have stood up for myself, like Quinn does, but I was afraid of losing you. I guess I never realized that I was losing you anyway, and losing myself in the bargain."
Sandi sniffled a bit. "So, what do we do now?" she asked.
Stacy swallowed hard. This was it. The choice Jane had talked about was here. She could walk away, or stay with Sandi and work things out.
In the end, there was really only one choice to make. "We forgive each other," Stacy said. She stood up, and offered Sandi a hug.
It was gratefully accepted.
About forty feet away, behind a parked car, Quinn and Tiffany smiled and hugged as well.
With the Spiral finally replaced by a boombox, the party was in full swing. The Fashion Club made their grand re-entrance from the photographer's station, where they had taken a group shot. Bananarama's "Venus" was pumping through Mystic Sipral's amps as they took the dance floor. For the first time in as long as she could remember, Quinn cut loose and danced without regard to her hairstyle, not caring if she got sweaty.
She caught a glimpse of Stacy cutting up the floor a few feet away. Quinn was amazed – that girl had some rhythm! She was spinning around like a top, her dress flaring out around her, moving like the floor was on fire beneath her feet. There was even a circle opening up around her, as those next to her caught a glimpse and realized this was someone to watch.
Quinn finally backed away herself, pulling Tiffany and Sandi with her. By now, there was an opening at least twenty feet across, with Stacy in the middle putting on a show like no one would have believed her capable of. As the music reached a climax, her hair slipped from its complex up-do and waved wildly around her face, making her finish all the more kinetic. She finally ended up in a full split that would have made Brittany jealous, her arms extended over her head, her hair thrown to cascade down her back.
The crowd erupted in cheers.
Stacy's eyes snapped open, and she looked around in shock. She hadn't even realized the attention being paid to her. The horror in her eyes slowly melted and turned to pride as she soaked in the adoration of her classmates. She stood and took a bow, as her friends rushed in and led her off the floor.
"Well," Daria said to Jane. "Now I've seen everything."
"How did you do that?" Quinn asked when they got out of the crowd. They had to duck under the bleachers to get sufficiently out of the noise to talk.
"That was incredible, Stacy!" Sandi added.
"Really amazing," Tiffany agreed.
Stacy still hadn't been able to catch her breath. "Give me a second," she wheezed.
"Wow," she said when she was finally able to talk. "I don't know what came over me!"
"Have you been holding out on us?" Sandi asked. "Where did you learn to dance like that?"
"Well, you know back in fifth grade when you wanted us to start doing aerobics?" Stacy asked. "We stopped doing it after a week, because we got all sweaty. Only, I never really stopped. I just got bored with it, so I started dancing to the records instead. I've been doing that for an hour twice a week ever since. I never realized I was getting good at it."
"Good?" Quinn said. "You were an absolute fireball!"
The four of them sat under the bleachers cooling off for a bit. "God, I'm thirsty," Stacy said.
"Let's go get some punch," Tiffany suggested. "We'll be right back." She left with Stacy.
Quinn and Sandi watched them leave. "So, everything's cool now?" Quinn asked.
"Better," Sandi said. "I haven't felt like this in years. I feel like I've been alone for so long, and now I'm surrounded by people I love."
Quinn noticed that the music had shifted gears. "True Colors" was playing across the suddenly quiet gym. She looked around – they were all alone under the bleachers.
"Dance with me, Sandi?" she asked, standing up and extending a hand.
Sandi smiled. "I'd love to, Quinn."
They embraced and began circling to the music. Quinn felt Sandi's head come down on her shoulder, and she smiled and held her closer. As the song went on, the rest of the world faded away.
"So don't be afraid... to let it show. True colors... true colors... are beautiful, like the rainbow..."
As the song drew to a close, Sandi looked into Quinn's eyes, and saw her own feelings there. They drew as close as they could, and kissed long and deep as the last note faded away to silence. Sandi felt a tear trickle down her cheek as she felt another hopeless dream come true. She would have been content if that moment had lasted forever.
Daria had allowed Tom to coax her out on the dance floor, but she insisted upon being off in the corner. As it happened, this gave her a full view of the underside of the bleachers, and the sole occupants within. The look on Quinn's face was like one she'd never seen, that of a girl hopelessly in love. She drooped inside as she realized that, while she had feelings for Tom, they were never and could never be so powerful.
"Tom?" she asked.
"Let's get a little closer to the dance floor. I decided I don't mind people seeing me."
Tom readily agreed. Daria took a last look at the happy couple hidden from everyone else's view, and followed.
Despite much coaxing from her friends, Stacy insisted that she didn't want to put in another appearance on the dance floor. In the end, the girls left the dance early and were back in the limousine together by eleven o'clock.
"So, where are we going?" Quinn asked.
"First, a toast," Sandi insisted. She pulled the back seat down to access a space behind, from where she withdrew a champagne bottle in an insulated bag. "At least Stacy didn't find this one," she said.
"Um, Sandi, maybe I shouldn't," Stacy said.
"Don't worry about it, Stacy," Sandi assured her. "What's past is past. Besides, if I'm going to properly seduce Quinn tonight, she needs to be a little tipsy."
"Sandi!" admonished Quinn with a smile. "Not in front of the straight girls!"
Stacy blinked. "Oh, didn't you hear? Tiffany is my date tonight."
"Yeah..." said Tiffany. "But, we haven't really kissed yet."
"It's our first date, after all," Stacy pointed out. "Fashion Club bylaws specifically forbid kissing on the first date."
"Don't the rules change for girls, though?" Quinn asked.
Sandi shrugged. "All in favor?" she asked.
Four hands went up.
"Motion is carried," Sandi said with a nod. "Kissing other girls on a first date is hereby not only permitted, but encouraged." She leaned over and took a taste of Quinn's lips.
"Get a room, guys!" Stacy giggled.
"We're getting to that," Sandi said. "First, a toast." She passed the flutes around and topped each one off. Then, she raised her glass. "To the Fashion Club – and more than that, to the most wonderful friends I could ever have."
Glasses clinked, and champagne disappeared. It wasn't easy to do a group hug in the back seat of a moving car, but they managed somehow.
The limousine pulled up to the front doors of the Oceanside Inn.
"What are we doing here?" asked Stacy as they stepped out.
"The owner of this place owes my mother a few favors," Sandi said. "I just got on the phone with him, said that I was Linda, and a half hour later had the penthouse suite reserved. Let's go live the good life, ladies."
Linking arms, the girls strode through the front doors, ready to party.
Stacy ran out onto the deck once they were inside. "Wow, look at this! You can see the ocean from here!"
Tiffany was in one of the two bedrooms. "Vibrating bed. Cool..."
Quinn ran in next to her. "And mirrors on the ceiling!"
Sandi called Stacy inside and led them over to the closet. "I arranged to have some changes of clothes for us here, as well as all the appropriate hair and makeup necessities. We wouldn't want to leave tomorrow without proper wardrobe, would we?"
"Oh Sandi, you're so smart!" Stacy said.
"And that's not the best part," Sandi said, leading them back outside. She pushed a switch on the wall, and part of the deck slid away, revealing a steaming hot tub. "Anyone care for a dip?" she asked.
"Oh God, that would be great! You have no idea how sweaty I am after all that dancing!"
Tiffany, Quinn, and Sandi looked at each other for a moment, then back at Stacy. "Stacy," they said in unison, "Eeewww!"
"So I was thinking," Sandi said, sipping on her frozen strawberry daiquiri, "what the Fashion Club needs is some more direction. What would you guys say to, perhaps designing some outfits and such from scratch."
"That is a really good idea, Sandi," Tiffany said, laying aside her blue margarita. "We could do some drawings, and make some patterns, and have our own clothing line."
"As long as we didn't make use of third-world sweatshop labor," Quinn pointed out as she took another swallow from her fuzzy navel. "I mean, we wouldn't want other people sweating on her clothes."
"This is going to be so much fun!" Stacy squealed, finishing off a sex-on-the-beach. "I've always wanted to make our own fashions! And then, maybe we can put together a fashion show or a photo shoot or something. I mean, we're going to need portfolios and all."
Sandi put down the rest of her drink and stood up. The water cascaded off her body as she stretched her arms into the wind. One of the things she had forgotten was swimsuits, but it had been agreed upon all around that they didn't really need them. "I'm going to turn on some music," Sandi said.
As Sandi left the tub, Quinn stood up as well. "Wait, Sandi, I'll come with you," she said.
"I wonder what they're up to?" Stacy asked innocently. She reached over and turned off the jets, so they would be able to hear the music better. As she did, her hand brushed Tiffany's shoulder.
"Stacy?" said Tiffany.
"Mm?" Stacy had to stand up a bit to reach the jet valve, and her breasts came out of the water next to Tiffany's face. Stacy didn't notice, but Tiffany certainly did.
"Umm..." Tiffany fought through her alcohol buzz and the sudden distraction of Stacy's body to form her next words. "Do you remember last night, how you were saying that you wanted our first kiss to be something special?"
Stacy turned to look at Tiffany, her eyes wide.
"Well, I was thinking, we've had an incredible night, and we're in this hot tub under the stars, with the ocean in the background..." Just then, the high tone of a saxophone emerged from the speakers on the deck. "And we have beautiful music. I don't think a moment can get more special than this..."
Stacy slid back into the tub close to Tiffany. "Would you ask me?"
Tiffany reached up a hand and stroked Stacy's hair. "Stacy, will you kiss me?"
In response, Stacy put her arms around Tiffany's body and lowered her lips to those of her beautiful friend.
Tiffany almost gasped aloud at the first touch. Stacy's lips were wet from the steam of the Jacuzzi, and wonderfully soft and yielding. She slid closer and felt her legs brush Stacy's below the surface. Tiffany dared to open her lips slightly and Stacy did the same, but it was yet another moment before they let their tongues touch and then caress one another through their kiss.
Stacy felt Tiffany's body tense beneath her kiss. Like her friend, she had thought that all she wanted was a kiss, but she couldn't stop once she'd had a taste of those lips. Some part of her noticed that Quinn and Sandi had come back and had slipped back into the hot tub together, to make love alongside their beautiful friends. Now I understand, thought Stacy. I know what they felt, I feel it myself and it's so wonderful...
Once back inside, there didn't seem to be words adequate to express the feelings they all had. In silence, they each selected a towel and dried off. Quinn, being the first one dry, started up the fireplace and reclined on the sofa to wait for her friends. Soon they were all there, looking nervously at each other, still not speaking. There had seemed little point in putting on nightclothes to sleep in.
Oddly, it was Tiffany who found her voice first. "What now?" she asked.
Sandi sat up a bit more. "This certainly changes things between us," she said. "I mean, I never expected anything like this to happen, not in my wildest dreams."
Stacy just nodded. She still couldn't speak.
Quinn sighed. "I suppose this might never happen again. I mean, I doubt we'll ever be drunk enough, or happen to get naked together, or just feel crazy enough to do it."
Stacy nodded again. "I... I'll cherish the memory," she whispered.
Sandi looked at her. "Really?" she asked. "No shame, no guilt?"
Stacy shook her head. "I loved being intimate with you all," she said. "It was... exhilarating."
Quinn smiled. "It was pretty amazing, wasn't it?" she asked.
Tiffany nodded. "I've never felt anything like it."
Sandi smiled as well, but only halfway. "I hope we all feel the same way in the morning," she said. "In the meantime, let me just say that when I first kissed Quinn two weeks ago, this is not what I had in mind as the ultimate goal."
Giggling erupted from all around.
"Still," Sandi continued. "I'd do it again."
"Me too," Tiffany agreed.
"Definitely," Quinn said.
Stacy stood up. "Well, what are we waiting for?" she asked. "If this might never happen again after tonight, I want tonight to go on until we collapse in each other's arms. What do all of you think?"
The other three girls looked at Stacy, then at each other. "Why not?" Tiffany said. She stood up and put her arms around Stacy, kissing her softly on the lips.
Quinn stood up and went to take Sandi's hand. Together, they joined their lovely friends by the fire.
Quinn stretched and sighed as the sun peeked through the window and caught her eyes. Her hand touched soft, yielding flesh in one direction. She glance over and saw Sandi's sleeping form, stirring slightly at Quinn's touch.
Suddenly Quinn was fully awake. She remembered the euphoria of the previous night like a dream she'd just awakened from, undeniable but seemingly so unreal. She remembered the four of them making love by the fire, feeling all those warm, soft hands on her body, reaching out to give and receive pleasure always to find a willing lover. She remembered how she had reveled in the glorious feeling of each of them caressing her, kissing her. She and Sandi had gone to their room at that point, leaving Stacy and Tiffany to love one another to sleep.
Quinn slid carefully out of bed and crept out to the main room. There was no sign of the previous night's revelry. Could she, in fact, have dreamed it all?
There was only one way to be sure. She tiptoed over to Stacy and Tiffany's room and peeked through the partly opened door. Her two friends were sleeping there, curled up in each other's arms in a lover's embrace.
Quinn smiled, and silently made her way back to her bed. She was still terribly tired, and Sandi's warm arms were waiting for her.
Sandi drove them home that afternoon. They talked about who was at the dance, how well their dresses were received, how much they looked forward to getting the picture, and n fact everything under the sun besides how they had spent the night.
Sandi pulled up in front of Tiffany's house, who happened to be first. Tiffany started to get out of the car, when Sandi stopped her with a touch on the shoulder.
"Yes, Sandi?" Tiffany asked.
Sandi opened her hand out to her friends. "No regrets?" she asked.
Quinn took her hand, followed immediately by Stacy and Tiffany.
Sandi smiled widely. "You are, all of you, the best friends I could ever have," she said.
"Whatever went on last night," Daria said, "Quinn was on cloud nine when she got home. She actually sang in the shower. Then she just went to bed."
"We'll probably never know," said Jane as she put the final touch on her painting. It was a picture of Daria in her Homecoming dress, on the deck of the Titanic. The sunken wreck of the Titanic. "So, how did things go with Tom?"
"Eh, the usual. We went out for some late-night cheese fries, and called it a night."
"Boy, you guys really know how to paint the town red."
"So where did you go, Miss Nightlife?"
"Out with the band. We went to some dive and I listened to them prattle on all night."
Daria sighed. "Don't ever tell her I said this, or I will disembowel you, but sometimes I'm actually envious of Quinn."
"She and her friends do seem to know how to have fun lately." Jane stood back and eyed her painting critically. "Looks good. You want it?"
Daria looked at the floor for a moment, then straight into her friend's eyes. "Will you kiss me, Jane?"
Daria and crew are owned by MTV. Just try and stop me from putting them in compromising situations, I'm covered by legislation to protect this kind of perversion.
All the same, I'd like to thank those at MTV who have worked so hard to bring us such fun characters that inspired this story.
For those who really want to know, this story takes place in lieu of the actual season 5 episodes. And, although I don't actually think Quinn, Stacy, Tiffany, Jane, or Daria is a lesbian, I'm pretty sure Sandi is.
I've written other, mainstream fanfic. The audience is welcome to try and figure out who I am, but I'm giving no clues and no confirmations or denials of rumor.