Disclaimer: Daria and associated characters are owned by MTV. This is fan fiction written for entertainment only. No money or other negotiable currency or goods have been exchanged.
This is the forty-ninth John Lane story
"Welcome to Raft," Daria read from the cover letter of the thick envelope that had arrived in the day's mail.
"Cool," John said, sitting on the sofa next to her and flipping through the rest of the mail. "Did you see anything from BFAC?"
"Not yet," Daria said.
John gave her a hug and said, "Well, congratulations. That's one down."
"One to go," she said, hugging him in return.
"It feels weird that we're almost done with high school."
"Feels like we've been at it forever."
"I wonder if we're going to be saying that in four years when we're getting ready to graduate from college."
Daria smirked and said, "Assuming we don't take the usual path of five or six years for a degree."
"Even if she finally considers me family, I don't think your grandmother will pay for us to stay that long."
"Hmm, good point."
Curious, John said, "So, what's in the goodie packet?"
Daria pulled the remaining items from the envelope. "Let's see. Course catalog. Student housing guide. Instructions for online registration. Raft code of conduct. New student coupons to local businesses. And a guide to fraternities and sororities."
"Hmm, that about covers everything. You'd think that they had practice at this or something."
"You think?" Daria asked.
Helen came down the stairs and said, "Anything interesting in the mail?"
"I've been accepted at Raft," Daria said.
"Congratulations, sweetie." Helen glanced around and whispered, "Raft is much better than Middleton."
"You don't have to whisper," Daria said. "Dad's upstairs."
"But we still haven't heard from BFAC yet," John said.
"Patience, John," Helen said. "I'm sure you'll get the good news any day now."
"I hope it's good news."
"You're a talented young artist with a lot to offer them."
"Except stellar grades. Granted, they're a lot better than my straight C average as a freshman, but..."
"You have a well-rounded high school experience that will make the difference."
"Whether I wanted it or not."
Helen winked and said, "Sometimes, we have to be dragged kicking and screaming into doing what's best for us."
"That sounds like you're trying to talk to us about experience again," John said.
Helen shrugged. "Feel free to interpret that as you wish. I'll go start on dinner. And again, congratulations, Daria."
After Helen went to the kitchen, John said, "Are you rubbing off on her or..."
"Don't go there," Daria warned.
Before school the next morning, John waved to Jodie and Mack in the hallway. "Hey, guys."
The couple turned and walked over to John and Daria. "Hey," Jodie said.
Excited, John said, "Daria got into Raft."
Mack said, "That's great. I got into Vance – with a scholarship. I'll be damned, but it looks like that student teaching during the strike put me over the top."
Daria said, "At least you found one silver lining out of that nightmare."
John said, "Jodie, have you heard anything?"
Nervous, Jodie said, "I've been accepted by Turner...and Crestmore."
"Whoa, cool," John said. "Those are great choices."
Daria said, "Congratulations, Jodie, but you seem reluctant about something."
"I really want to go to Turner, but my parents have been pushing Crestmore so much, I don't know."
John said, "But don't they know how much you want to go to Turner?"
Mack, said, "Jodie, have you gotten around to telling them about Turner?"
"Ah," Daria said. "Now we see the conflict."
Jodie said, "John, what about you?"
"Nothing, yet." He shrugged. "What do you expect from a school full of artists? Efficiency?"
Daria quietly said to Mack, "Nice deflection."
"She's good at it," Mack said.
"Besides," John said. "I'm sure it takes the admissions committee a while to argue over applicant portfolios. 'This is great.' 'No, it sucks.' You know, that kind of thing."
"Hang in there," Jodie said.
"I am, but my toe is getting really tired."
Leaving the locker room after gym class, John said, "That sucks about Jodie's parents."
Walking alongside, Mack said, "Tell me about it. Jodie's been worried about how to tell them for weeks. Every time she tries, it just doesn't work. I'm starting to think about talking to Mr. Landon myself. Maybe drive to his office before school or something."
"Won't you be late for school?"
Mack shook his head. "According to Jodie, he's usually in his office by seven every morning. I'll have plenty of time."
"Good luck, Mack."
"I'm not ready to do that, yet. Mr. Landon can be kind of scary and walking into his office first thing in the morning to tell him his daughter wants to go to another college is daunting, to say the least."
"Hey, I could forge a rejection letter from Crestmore."
Not sure if he wanted an answer, Mack said, "What do you know about forgery?"
"Let's just say that it was a useful survival skill when I lived with my original parents."
John said, "Old history. So, do you think it will work?"
"Until Jodie's parents call the admissions office and demand to talk to someone in charge about why their daughter wasn't accepted."
Mack said, "But thanks for the offer. If we ever need something like that in the future..."
"You know how to contact me," John said.
On the other side of the gymnasium, Daria said to Jodie, "After hearing Quinn's boyfriend talk about applying to Bromwell, my mom started to hint at that. I'd hate to think of what she'd be like if I'd applied and been accepted there on top of Raft."
"How did you get out of applying?"
"Played the 'John and I being in the same town' card."
"Damn, I can't pull that one off."
"Any idea of how you're going to tell them?"
"Not yet. Every time I try, I chicken out and talk about something else. I suck. I can stand up and talk to the entire school without a problem, but can't tell my parents where I want to go to college."
"Have you considered a simple fait accompli?"
"Acknowledge the Turner acceptance, turn down the one from Crestmore, and then tell your parents."
"Daria, they would hear the detonation in Washington, D.C., and raise the national threat level to DEFCON 1."
"Okay, not a good option."
Jodie nodded. "No, not a good option."
"This really sucks."
"Tell me about it, Daria," Jodie said. "And I still don't know what to do."
John opened the front door and said, "Oh, hi, Tom."
As he was let in, Tom said, "Hi, John. How are things going?"
"College. Daria got into Raft and I'm still waiting to hear from BFAC. Seems like almost everyone we know has an answer except me." John noticed Tom start to look away and said, "You, too?"
Tom shrugged. "Getting accepted by Bromwell wasn't a big surprise. What with the family legacy and my uncle giving them a wing and all, I would need to do something like snort cocaine off the registrar's desk through a dollar bill to be rejected. The offense being that I used a single instead of a proper hundred dollar bill."
"Money has its privileges."
"At times." Tom checked his watch. "I didn't think I was late."
John said, "Quinn's upstairs putting on her face."
"I don't think anybody spends as much time putting on makeup to make her face look like she's not wearing makeup and doesn't need it."
Not certain if he fully followed, John said, "That's Quinn," figuring it was safe.
Coming down the stairs, Quinn said, "Hi, Tom. Hope you haven't been waiting long."
"No. Just having a quick word with John."
"Don't worry; I haven't talked his ear off," John said. "Have fun."
"We will," Quinn said. "I insist on it."
Arm in arm with Quinn, Tom said, "I always oblige."
After closing the door, John smirked and said, "Boy do they deserve each other."
Daria quietly came down the stairs and said, "Shoot me if I ever start to act like that."
"Eh, they're kind of cute."
"In a nauseating kind of way."
"Speaking of nauseating, Tom got into Bromwell. Not that the actual getting in was nauseating, just hearing about it."
"You should hear from BFAC soon enough." Daria studied him and then said, "You did give them this address and not your old one, right?"
"Yes, I gave the right address. I even wrote it neatly, too."
"Like you said before, they are probably arguing over portfolios and lost track of the time."
"I hope you're right. Otherwise, I'll hate trying to live in your dorm closet."
"I don't think my future roommate would care for that, either."
Leading a pack of cheerleaders down the hallway, Brittany spotted John and Daria. With a joyful squeak, she ran over to them. "All of us got in!"
"Got in to what?" Daria said, wondering if it was a wise move to even ask.
"Great Prairie State!"
"Congratulations?" John said. "Why there?"
"We're going to be on the squad!"
Daria said, "All of you?"
"Yes! Isn't it exciting? We're going to be Wheatwhackers."
"I'm sure you're as excited as the wheat," Daria said.
"I know," Brittany said. "They even grow it right on campus."
John said, "I don't want to know what college students do with a ready supply of wheat."
"I suspect that it is varied and mostly disturbing," Daria said.
Brittany tilted her head. "What's wrong with wheat?"
"Nothing, nothing," Daria said. "Brittany, I think you made the right choice."
Head down on the cafeteria table, John grumbled, "Even Brittany has heard about her application."
Daria said, "She's proud to be cheering for the Wheatwhackers."
Also seated at the table, Mack said, "I know you don't follow football, but they have a competitive team every year."
"So that is a big break for her?" Daria said.
"How do you know so much about college cheerleading?" Daria asked.
Jodie said, "Brittany asked us to help her and the rest of the squad with their applications."
"Saved by your girlfriend," Daria said.
"I wonder if it's too late to apply to Lawndale State," John said.
"Be patient, John," Jodie said. "You're not the only one who hasn't heard from their college yet."
"Kevin?" Jodie said, knowing how weak that sounded.
"Now that gives me confidence."
Coming to John's rescue, Daria said, "Jodie, any progress on telling your parents about Turner?"
Mack said, "You need to tell them before they start looking for an apartment for you."
Daria said, "You're not going to stay in a dorm?"
Jodie said, "Crestmore doesn't require it and Mom said, 'After what happened to me, Jodie's going to stay in a dorm over my dead body.' She meant it."
"Lucky you," Daria said. "Raft requires freshmen to stay on campus. I guess they don't want us to get lost in the big city. What about Turner?"
"They don't require it, either. That's another up side to Turner; the rent isn't anywhere near as high."
Daria said, "That sounds like a good talking point."
Jodie shook her head. "According to my dad, money is no object when it comes to my education. He'll pay the higher rent in a heartbeat so he can brag about me going to Crestmore."
"I'm still willing to talk to him," Mack said.
Jodie shook her head. "Thanks, but no. I've got to do this myself. Eventually."
"Hey, Trent," John said, stopping by his brother's apartment after school.
Seated on an old sofa and scratching a black mixed-breed dog behind the ears, Trent said, "Hey, Johnny. Come on in."
The dog barked and wagged his tail at seeing the visitor. John squatted down and patted him. "I see Damien's doing well."
"I wrote a jingle for Lawndale Meat Market and they're giving me a year's supply of dog bones for him."
"Getting the good stuff, I see."
"What's up?" Trent asked.
John sat down and said, "Worried about college."
"Gonna be weird without you in town."
"If I go."
"Huh? I thought you were going to art school."
"I haven't heard anything, yet."
John said, "Almost everyone I know has heard one way or the other."
"Maybe they fell asleep."
"Only you would think of that as a likely excuse."
"It's a gift."
"Any wise brotherly advice?"
"Eyes on the prize. Eyes on the prize."
"They haven't said no, so it ain't over yet."
"Okay, Trent. Thanks," John said, oddly feeling better.
Standing at the front door of the Landon house facing Mack, Jodie said, "I need to do this myself. But, if I don't do it tonight, you have my permission to try tomorrow. Agreed?"
Mack said, "Agreed."
"Don't you find it odd that we're starting to make deals like John and Daria?"
"No, just disturbing. I hope that we're rubbing off on them the same way."
Mack rubbed his forearm and looked at it. "I think we would've noticed."
Mack kissed Jodie. "Good luck."
"I'm going to need it. I'll call you later with all the gory details."
Inside the house, Jodie found her parents in the den, both reading. Her stomach twisted and she felt like the blood was draining from her face. Neither parent looked up from their magazines while Jodie fought her internal battle.
After taking a step back, she whispered, "No," and stepped forward to the center of the room. "Mom, Dad, we need to talk about something."
"Yes, dear?" her mother said.
"We're listening," her father said, his nose still firmly in his magazine.
Jodie's resolve started to fade again and she wished she was anywhere but there. Her mother turning a page renewed her determination. "In addition to Crestmore, I applied to Turner and I've been accepted."
Michelle said, "Why would you do that?"
"I suppose it doesn't hurt to mention that you were also accepted there before going to Crestmore," Andrew said.
"I want to go to Turner instead of Crestmore."
Both of her parents lowered their magazines. Andrew said, "Why would you do that?"
"So I don't have to be the perfect little African-American girl on display all the time."
"I'm sorry, Jodie," Michelle said, "but that's life. You need to get used to it."
"Think of all of the contacts you'll make at Crestmore. Their alumni are running this country."
"Yeah, and most of them already know each other from their country clubs and are only interested in people like me for what they can use me for. I want to go to Turner. The way you went. The way grandma went."
Andrew said, "We didn't have a choice, Jodie."
"And you are not giving me one!" she angrily said. Her temper had finally risen to the top. "Think about it, Dad. You are treating me exactly the way you were treated. Exactly!"
Andrew and Michelle both stood still without speaking.
Jodie said, "I am asking you to give me what you always said you wanted for me – the ability to choose the life I wish to lead without being told that I can't."
Andrew and Michelle continued to stand there.
"I choose to go to Turner."
Michelle glanced at Andrew and then brought her attention back to Jodie. "You're right. We all should be able to make choices for ourselves without being told that you can't."
Sensing the undercurrent to Michelle's comment, Andrew immediately capitulated and said, "If you are that determined to go to Turner, we're behind you."
Suddenly calmer, Jodie said, "Thank you."
Over lunch at the school cafeteria, Daria said, "So the great Turner-Crestmore controversy is over and you were successful."
Jodie said, "I guess there are times when getting pissed off is the answer."
"Note to self," Mack said. "Don't piss off Jodie."
"Don't piss your girlfriend off is always a good plan," John said.
Jodie smirked and said to Daria, "They train well, don't they?"
"It's amazing what you can do with a rolled-up newspaper," Daria said.
Mack said, "Are we going to let them talk about us like that?"
"Yes," John said.
Mack nodded. "I thought so."
"Now we need one more college success. You're next, John," Jodie said.
John frowned. "I'm beginning to think that they lost my application."
"At least that means they haven't consciously rejected you," Jodie said.
"Not that it would do me any good," John said.
"Until Mom got a hold of them," Daria said. "Why do you think she made us keep copies of everything?"
"Force of habit?"
"Well, yes, and with good reason."
"You people won't even let me sit here in my paranoia, will you?"
"Not when we can have so much fun at your expense," Mack said.
Going through the mail when they got home, Daria found a letter and said, "Small and thin – not good."
"What was that?" John said, walking up behind her.
"Hey, that looks like it's from BFAC."
"It is," Daria said, sounding wary.
John took the letter and held it, remembering Daria's packet. "Ooh."
Daria said, "It might be best to get it over with right away."
John nodded, closed his eyes and ripped the envelope open. After a moment, he unfolded it and read.
He stumbled back and sat down on one of the sofas. Daria immediately sat down and put her arm around him. "I'm so sorry. Look, we'll figure something out. We still have a little time."
John smiled. "I got in."
He read, "Welcome to Boston Fine Arts College. Your welcome packet, new student guide and registration information will arrive in the following weeks. All of the faculty here at BFAC look forward to meeting you."
Daria took the letter and read it herself. "Those bastards."
"Sending you something that looks like everyone else's rejection letters."
Daria leaned over and kissed him. "You got in. We're going to Boston."
"You're right. We're going to Boston – together." John put his arms around Daria and drew her into a long kiss.
Arriving home, Quinn opened the front door and saw them. "Come on, guys, show a little dignity, will you? Go up to one of your rooms. Sheesh."
Leaving gym class, Mack said, "I told you not to worry."
John said, "No, you didn't. You and everyone else were having great amusement at my paranoia and fear."
"Maybe a little bit."
"At least you and Daria will be in the same town. The shuttle between Vance and Turner is going to be tricky."
Daria and Jodie joined them with Jodie saying, "But we'll manage. We don't have a choice."
Daria said, "Tell your dad to use the money he'll be saving on rent to get you a private jet."
"I don't think he's going to be saving that much money...but it might save enough for semi-regular plane tickets."
Overwhelmingly excited, Kevin ran up to them. "I gotta thank you."
"Okay," John said. "For what?"
"Tutoring. I'm going to college."
"You got into college?" John said.
"I'm going to be the QB!"
Mack said, "Of course, you are."
Daria asked, "Where?"
"East Chesapeake College. I'm going to be an Oystershucker!"
John said, "We're happy for you."
Thanks to Kristen Bealer and Ipswichfan for beta reading.
March - April 2011