Disclaimer: Daria and associated characters are owned by MTV. This is fan fiction written for entertainment only. No money or other negotiable currency or goods have been exchanged.
Original characters and plot copyright Richard J. Lobinske. 2004.
This is the twentieth story in the Falling into College series.
Shopping For Cars With Boys
"Oh crap!" Michael Fulton exclaimed in the middle of a conversation, startling both his girlfriend sitting next to him, Daria Morgendorffer, and her mother, Helen, seated on one of the other sofas in the Morgendorffer residence.
Daria gave him an odd look. "Is something the matter?"
His eyes were wide. "Can I use a phone for a long distance call?"
Helen pulled out her cell phone. "If it's important."
"I've got to cancel my withdrawal from Raft!" He hastily ran out to his car, locating a form on the seat. He ran back into the house as he unfolded the paper and found a number. Taking the cell phone from Helen's hand, he entered the number and waited impatiently, and then punched in more digits at the phone prompts. Finally, he said, "Yes Ma'am. Please cancel my withdrawal letter...I've had a change of plans...Completely unavoidable, yes...completely. Fulton...Michael...Steven...RaftID eight, one, zero, eight, one, one, dash, three, five, nine, one...Filed last Thursday, May four...Resume classes in the fall...Great, thank you very much...bye." Michael sunk back against the sofa and looked at his watch. "Four-fifty. Another ten minutes..."
Daria stared at him. "You..."
He looked at her. "If you had told me to go away..."
Daria softly sighed. "I don't blame you. Just, glad you didn't remember ten minutes late."
Helen said, "Michael, you must be tired, I hope you're not planning on driving back to Detroit tonight."
He turned toward her. "Um...I hadn't thought that far ahead. I was..."
"Did you even call your mother to let her know you got here?"
Helen shook her head and inwardly smiled. I haven't seen somebody this head-over-heels since I first started seeing Jake. The boy drives nine hours from Detroit to make up with Daria, and can't think of anything else. She grabbed her phone back from Michael and retrieved a planner from her briefcase. She found a number and dialed.
A woman with bright red hair pulled into a bun answered the phone at her office desk. "Factory Health and Safety Office. Samantha Fulton speaking."
"Samantha, Helen Morgendorffer. I hope you don't mind...."
"No, Helen. Let me guess, my wandering son forgot to call?"
"Yes, I was..."
"And our children are back together?"
"Excellent. It's almost five; would it be too much for him to stay at your place tonight?"
"No, Samantha. Not at..."
"Great. Thank you so much, Helen. If he wants to stay extra, I don't have a problem if it's not an inconvenience for you."
"Oh, no. He can use the guest..."
"Please remind him he does have to be back to work on Monday."
"I will; anything..."
"It's been nice talking to you, and thanks for calling. My four-thirty is finally here and I must go. Bye."
"Bye." Helen looked at the phone in shock.
Daria stared at Helen and slowly said, "I have never seen my mother go through an entire conversation and not complete a sentence."
Michael smirked and leaned against Daria, "If she's at work, my mother can outtalk a hurricane."
Daria turned back toward Michael. "That's normal?"
He bobbed his head. "Pretty much, that's why I don't like to call her at work. She calms down a lot when she gets home."
"Do you think you could have warned my Mom?"
"Would it have worked?"
Helen recovered and faced Michael. "Your mother's happy that you got here safely, and that the two of you are back together. You can stay as long as you want, just make sure you get back for work on Monday."
"Thanks Mrs. Morgendorffer. After our...problematic exit at Raft, I think a day or two would be nice."
Daria added, "I also need to get back to Boston, classes and my new job start Monday."
Michael's curiosity was piqued. "New job?"
"I didn't get a chance to tell you, I'll be editing at the University Press part-time."
"And...I get staff parking."
Daria nodded. "Yep."
Helen remembered an incident a couple months earlier, when Michael had used her assumptions...and the omission of a few details...to scare her into believing the two were having sex. In reality, it was only Michael tending to Daria while she was bedridden with a cold. Quinn had used a similar tactic a couple weeks earlier to distract Jake from the cost of her prom dress.
Helen looked at the door with mild concern. "Michael, my husband, Jake, will be home soon. That...sense of humor of yours...may not be the best idea. When I called Daria's room that one time..."
Michael smirked. "My basic sense of self-preservation tells me it is not a good idea to tell a man I just met...that his daughter was next to me in bed."
Helen mildly shook her head. "I'm more concerned about Jake. He is...excitable. Particularly after Daria's sister pulled a similar stunt last Sunday."
Daria raised one eyebrow at her mother. "Mom...what did Quinn do?"
Helen raised her hand to her mouth. "Oh, my. Now Daria, she did come clean completely on her own accord, so don't get too mad at her."
"I'm not going to get mad..."
"Quinn heard that you two went to Jane's birthday party and had to stay overnight because of an ice storm."
Daria softly squeezed Michael's hand at the memory. "We slept on lounge chairs in Jane's room." Daria's eyes narrowed. "And my dear sister also left out a few important details..."
Rubbing her temples as she thought, Daria let out a sigh. Jane talks to Trent, who talks to Lindy, who talks to Quinn. I'm going to be so glad when Quinn goes to Pepperhill next year.
"Daria, don't do anything too rash, she did tell us...after she learned about you two breaking up. She was worried about you, and didn't want your father going off."
"What did she use it as a distraction for?"
"Her prom gown."
"Was it over budget that badly?"
Jake looked up from setting the table and said in a low voice, "Are you sure leaving them alone is a good idea?"
Helen's voice was low, but firm. "Jake, they're right in the living room."
"But, two college students..."
Helen set a pan of heated lasagna down. "Even we weren't that tactless."
"Oh, all right."
"I'll go get them." Helen went to the living room, stopping for a moment to smile. Michael had fallen asleep and slumped over to the right into Daria's lap, with his head cradled in her arms like a pieta. Daria had a soft smile as she watched his face. Helen quietly moved over and whispered, "They are cute when they do that."
Daria looked up.
Helen smiled, "Dinner's ready." She turned back toward the kitchen and said with a wink, "I'll let you wake him."
After dinner, Daria took Michael upstairs to the guest bedroom. "The bathroom is next door, I'm down the hall to the left, Quinn to the right. Mom and Dad are down that way. Why don't you get your stuff while I make sure everything is set up in there?"
Michael grimaced in embarrassment and coughed. "Uh...Is there something like an S-Mart around here?"
"The mall's only about five minutes away. Forget something?"
He shuffled his feet. "Uh...everything."
Daria raised an eyebrow. "You didn't pack anything before leaving?"
He slowly nodded. "I did...but forgot to bring the suitcase with me."
"You've got a car; we'll go get you set up."
Quinn Morgendorffer was making a quick stop in the mall's drug store before heading home from her job at Cashman's. While going down an aisle, she unmistakably saw her sister and a young, red-headed man holding hands. She smiled, thinking: So that's why Mom asked me to go straight to work from school today, and moved closer to eavesdrop.
Daria sternly said, "Michael, you drove nine hours to see me and you forgot?"
Michael was slightly chastised, "I was a little preoccupied. I'm taking care of it now, no big deal."
Quinn curiously worked toward the end of the aisle.
Daria's voice was still concerned, "No big deal? What if...?"
Quinn looked around the corner and gasped to see Daria and Michael talking in front of a merchandise rack of birth control products.
Daria turned. "Quinn?"
Quinn used her innocent voice to say, "D...aria! Hi...how are you?"
"I'm actually doing quite well. Quinn, please meet Michael. Yes, he drove here from home, and yes, we made up."
"Um." Quinn extended her hand. "Hi, I've heard a lot about you."
Daria continued. "Michael, this is my sister, Quinn."
Michael shook her hand. "Hi, I've heard quite a bit about you."
Quinn drew circles on the floor with her toe. "So...what are you two doing here?"
Michael sheepishly said, "I...didn't plan my...supplies well for the trip here. We're picking up a few things."
Daria smirked. "A few? You forgot everything. Including..."
Quinn covered her ears. "I don't want details."
The pharmacist looked over the counter and held a small bag. "Mr. Fulton? It's a good thing your prescription was in the computer."
Michael stepped over, pulling out his wallet. "One of the reasons I use this chain of pharmacies, you have all the customer prescriptions linked in a central database."
Daria gave Quinn a confused look. "...His epinephrine injector."
Quinn looked at Daria. "His what?"
"He's severely allergic to wasp stings. He normally carries one to prevent anaphylactic shock if he is stung." Daria looked at Michael. "Which, he forgot."
Quinn looked relieved. "Oh..."
Daria stared at her sister. "Quinn...what did you think we were talking about?"
Michael turned back from paying the pharmacist in time to catch the end of the conversation. He noticed the rack behind Daria and chuckled.
Daria looked at him. "What?"
He pointed and she turned to follow, resulting in a soft groan and resting her head on her hand. "Quinn, quit jumping to conclusions."
Quinn giggled. "I guess I should. But, with what you said, and where you two were standing..."
Michael put an arm around Daria. "It would appear..."
Daria gave him a tired look.
He gave her a slight smile. "We're a couple and people are going to assume we do. It's a reality of life. We can't get upset every time someone does."
Daria sighed. "I suppose you're right. I just don't like it."
Michael pulled Daria a little closer and looked at Quinn. "Trust me, please. I care for your sister. If we ever do anything, I want it to be special for her. Not something that requires a last-minute run to the drug store."
Quinn narrowed her eyes at the two of them, noting their body language. With a relieved smile, she said, "I do trust you. But, if you two ever disappear to some romantic destination for the weekend..."
Michael half-grinned at Quinn and said, "Deal. Oh, we heard about your little distraction for the prom dress."
Quinn looked worried.
"And we know what you did to protect your sister. So, you're safe this time. But, any more comments to her parents, or anyone else, on this subject, and we will...," his grin broadened, "...collaborate on getting even."
The next morning, Daria and Jake sat at the kitchen table, reading their respective sections of the paper. Helen rushed in and paused as she headed for the door. "You and Michael have a nice day. If you want to look for cars, go ahead. I left all the loan and insurance information on the coffee table."
Daria looked over the edge of the paper. "Okay, Mom."
Quinn blew by like a zephyr, saying, "Gotta go. See everyone tonight when I'm done tutoring Kevin," and disappearing out the door.
Daria leaned over toward her father. "That was Quinn, right?"
Jake said, "Hmm," without lowering his paper. Daria had just started to raise her paper again when he said, "But, who was our first mystery guest?"
Daria gave him a smile. "Good one."
He folded the paper and set it down. "Old Jakey still has a little humor left in him." He picked up his breakfast plate and deposited it in the washer. "It's also time for me to head off to work. I was hoping to talk to your young fellow before I left."
"He's still asleep, Dad."
"He must be tired after that long drive. See you tonight." Jake picked up his briefcase and left.
Daria watched the door for a couple minutes. "Wow. That went surprisingly well. Maybe Dad is starting to relax a bit about Michael."
Daria picked up the phone and dialed, patiently waiting for an answer.
Eventually, Jane mumbled, "Ullo?" as she crawled from her bed, clutching the cordless phone to her ear.
"Hey, it's Daria."
Jane took a couple seconds to focus on the clock. "Do you have any idea of what time it is?"
"Yeah, I know. And normally, a little righteous indignation would be appropriate on your part."
"Later...when I have the energy. Are we still going with Trent to that auction?"
"Uh, no. Jane, that's why I'm calling, I've had a change of plans."
"Oh? What happened to 'I'm getting a car one way or the other'?"
"Um...Michael made it a moot point. He was waiting at my house when I got home yesterday."
Jane's face brightened. "You're kidding!"
"No, I'm not."
"He pulled the same crazy stunt you were planning?"
"You two deserve each other. You did make up...right?"
"Yes, we did."
"Great. Dr. Jane is prescribing a day of rest and relaxation for you."
"Why, thank you doctor."
"Seriously, I'm very happy for you."
Daria smiled. "Thanks."
Jane grinned widely. "That woke my butt up. Think I'll go share the experience with Trent. You two kids have fun."
"Just make sure Trent doesn't get all disoriented when you wake him." Daria continued to smile.
"He's not Jesse. Later."
Daria went upstairs and quietly opened the door to the guest room. Michael was asleep on his stomach, one arm folded under his pillow and head, the other stretched to the side. She carefully moved next to the bed and knelt down. For a few minutes, she watched before leaning over to give him a long, soft kiss. When his eyes opened, she smiled and said, "Good morning."
He blinked several times and gently touched her cheek with his fingers. "You...are the most beautiful sight I have even woken up to."
Daria gave him a second kiss. "I can scare up a bowl of cereal and a cup of coffee while you get dressed, how does that sound?"
Michael returned the kiss. "Wonderful. I'll see you downstairs in a few minutes."
Jake was halfway to work when every muscle in his body stiffened and he careened across two lanes of traffic. "Gaaaahhhhhhh!" He regained control of the Lexus after a second. "Daria and that college boy are going to be home alone all day...Gaaahhhhhh!" He swerved back across the same two lanes of traffic.
Several hours later, Jane spoke on the phone. "Daria, can you drag your penitent male out to drive us to Beltsville?"
"Unless you have a particularly good reason, I'm not that inclined to ask."
"Trent's at that government auction to replace the blue bomb. He ended up with two extra cars."
Daria rolled her eyes. "Only Trent would go looking for a car and end up with three."
"He needs drivers, and somebody to take the extras off his hands."
"They better not be junk. We'll be at your house in ten minutes."
"I'll be waiting."
Trent and Lindy waved to catch the three's attention. He quickly hugged Jane, and followed to Daria, to whom he whispered, "I'm glad to see you two are back together."
Daria smiled at him. Trent went to Michael and offered his hand. "Thanks for giving them a ride."
Michael shook Trent's hand. "No problem."
Trent nodded toward Lindy. "Michael, that's Lindy. Lindy, this is that Michael guy you've been hearing about."
Both gave friendly nods.
Trent waved at a five year-old, glossy black, four-door SUV with dark tinted windows, "My new wheels."
Amid murmurs of approval, Jane, Daria and Michael approached and looked closer. Michael stopped and looked at the wheels, while Daria looked a little oddly at the heavy-feeling door she had opened.
Trent went up next to Michael and pointed to a braided steel hose leading from the wheel hub to the tire valve stem. Scratching the back of his head, he said, "Can't figure those things out."
Michael looked at him oddly. "Those are air lines to keep the tire pressure up."
"Cool, I don't have to check the tires as much."
"Trent, those are for keeping the tires inflated when there's a hole in them."
Daria rolled down the window on the door she had opened, and looked in surprise at the particularly thick glass. "Trent, what kind of auction was this?"
"Well...um. I thought it was one of those DEA things. You know; confiscated cars and stuff."
Daria looked at him quizzically. "And..."
"It was some agency auction...Treasury Department, that's it."
Daria shook her head. "These are bullet-proof glass windows. From how heavy the door is, I bet it is armor plated. Self-inflating tires." Daria looked behind the back seat. "Gun racks against each of the side-back windows," She smirked, "You got an old Secret Service vehicle."
Michael stood up. "I wouldn't have thought that something like this would go out."
Daria shrugged. "Bureaucracy at work? Don't knock it."
Jane grinned widely. "Bullet-proof?" She began to laugh. "This time, you really did get a tank."
Michael placed a hand on the fender and said in a Mel Blanc imitation, "And we will call him 'George'."
Jane gave him a 'what-are-you-talking-about' look.
Trent laughed and coughed. "Good one. Not bad for fifteen hundred. I was the only bidder"
Jane's eyes lit up. "Fifteen? What a deal."
Daria moved next to Lindy. "I think that will be a bit safer than the Tank."
She smiled back. "I'm really feeling a lot better about this. Thanks for coming out."
Trent got a mischievous look. "Follow me." He led the rest around to the other side, where two black mid-size sedans were parked, each also about five years old and well maintained. Faint discoloration was visible on each door where the government property decals had been removed. "I didn't realize the auction was a package deal, these are the extras. Tell you what, five hundred each, and they're yours."
Jane's draw dropped. "What!"
"Hey, three-way split."
Jane turned to Daria. "The partners in crime with matching cars?"
Daria turned to Lindy. "I want to make sure, did you want one?"
Lindy shook her head. "I'm happy with my car. You and Jane are the ones in need."
Daria turned back to Trent. "You have a deal."
Trent and Daria symbolically shook hands. Daria cocked an eyebrow. "So...what happened to the old unreliable?"
Trent smiled. "Oh, Max bought it."
Daria and Jane began to inspect their new cars, and to discuss ways to choose who gets which one. Lindy joined them.
Trent opened the back of the SUV, motioned Michael to have a seat, and followed suit. "I heard about what happened."
"You want to chew me out?"
"Nah, I bet you've done enough of that to yourself."
"At least I discovered my foot tastes best with mesquite barbeque sauce."
Trent smiled at the comment. "I understand what you did, but I hope you realize that asking her to give up so much..."
Michael twisted his hands together. "...Was one of the worst things I could do."
"I also understand why you drove back."
"You couldn't bear to lose her."
Trent put his hand on Michael's shoulder. "You've got a good heart."
"I thought so, I'm not so sure now."
"You do, that's why you came back. Your head might have gone stupid, but your heart didn't."
"I...sometimes...I feel so strongly, I don't know what I'm doing."
"I understand falling for her, I did, too."
"I knew she had a crush on you...but..."
"I kept it quiet." He looked directly at Michael. "I would have really hurt her. Not like you, but really messed her up."
Michael gave him a confused look. "With how much you look after her?"
"It's the way I am."
"What's that mean?"
"I'm a slacker musician, who won't be in anything bigger than a local band."
"I thought you had dreams to hit the big time."
"Like those will really happen? I know when to be real. That's why Lindy is good for me."
"She understands exactly what I am, and is happy with me that way."
"Daria understands you."
"But, she would have believed in me; believed that I could do more. When I couldn't, it would have torn her apart."
Trent lightly tapped his finger on Michael's chest. "You, she can believe in and be worth her belief. That's why you're better for her."
Michael blushed. "Um..." He shrugged his shoulders when he couldn't find anything to say.
Trent levered off of the tailgate. "Better see if they've decided, so we can get the titles."
"You don't have them yet?"
"Didn't make any sense...until we knew who was getting which car."
"Hmm, okay. Daria is set up already on her parent's policy, but what about insurance for Jane?"
"They got a guy selling one-month deals."
"Just enough to get someone legally off the lot."
The caravan filled the parking spaces in front of Pizza Prince, Trent driving "George", followed by Jane, Daria, Michael, and Lindy tailing to make sure nobody straggled.
Grabbing one large pie, all five descended on a table. They quickly fell into relaxed conversation.
Jane shrugged one shoulder, "It came up heads, so I got the one with bullet hole in the floorboard."
Daria gave a small smile. "I would love to hear the story behind that little incident."
Jane shook here head. "Five hundred, I still can't believe our luck. Leave it to my big brother to once again pull my keester out of the fire."
Daria nodded. "The fun part of it is, Quinn is going to be making payments for three years on her wonderful deal, and I have cash left over from that thousand dollar CD my folks gave me for a down payment."
Lindy said, "But, she will get a nice credit history boost by keeping up with hers."
"True, I've been keeping a small balance on my credit card and paying scrupulously a little extra to build mine. Only I don't have to worry as much about coming up with my payments."
Jane tapped Daria on the shoulder. "Just to be annoying and change the subject, I talked to Claire on the phone last night."
Daria looked a little concerned. "How is Ms. Defoe holding up as acting principal at Lawndale?"
"She's managing to hang in there. It's sounding like Li was seriously loopy behind the throne."
"I mean it. Claire got a look at the real books. Do you realize that Li wasn't joking about that satellite transmission jammer?"
Michael cocked his head almost ninety degrees. "What was that?"
"No kidding. A satellite transmission jammer."
Michael still looked baffled. "What in the hell would she want with that?"
Daria smirked. "The world wonders."
Jane chuckled. "The police are also investigating how Li was released from the hospital after the Ultra Cola incident."
Lindy joined in, "Oh, yeah, the paper said that none of the staff doctors okayed her release. It was an outside doctor that did."
Daria shook her head. "So, it looks like Li might actually be crazy?"
Daria shook her head. "It always felt like that place was an asylum...run by the inmates."
Jake jumped up and rushed to the door when he heard it open. "Daria! There you are. Are you okay? I came home early to spend time with my daughter, and you weren't home."
Daria smiled. "Well, Dad. Mom did suggest we go out looking for a car." Daria opened the door wider. "What do you think?"
Daria pointed. "My car?"
"Oh. Um...the black one?"
"Yes, Dad. Would you like to take a look?"
Michael stepped aside to let them pass. "Hi, Mr. Morgendorffer."
"Oh, hi son. There was something I was going to talk to you about."
"Now son, my daughter is...Hey, nice car, Daria."
Michael covered his mouth to stifle a laugh as Jake began to inspect Daria's car. Sliding next to her, he whispered, "He's distracted easily, isn't he?"
"There are times when it has its advantages," was her whispered reply.
...In the end, you are the most important part of my life. Please write or call.
I love you,
Daria read the email Michael had sent the previous Sunday, before they had made-up and were unsuccessfully trying to communicate with each other. She continued to look at the screen in mild surprise for many seconds after closing the email program on her laptop. "Wow."
Daria tugged the hem of her nightshirt down as she responded to a knock at the door. She briefly looked down to make sure she was fully covered before opening it. Michael waited outside in a t-shirt and shorts. The both reached out and held hands before moving together for a kiss. Michael gave her hands a squeeze. "Good night." Daria rose up on her feet to kiss him a second time. "Good night." They released each other with a smile, and Daria closed her door. She turned off her computer and crawled into bed. Just as she was drifting off, she unconsciously moved the pillow and hugged it.
Just as he turned to go to the guest room, Michael heard his name whispered from the other side of the corridor. Quinn gazed out from her door, motioning for him. He shrugged and walked over. "What's up?"
"Thanks for coming for her."
"Well, it did seem to be in my best interest."
"She really missed you."
"Trust me, the feeling was mutual."
"That's...what I have been hoping." Quinn gave him a grin and disappeared behind her door.
Michael raised an eyebrow and shook his head before heading toward the guest room.
As he crossed in front of the stairs, Jake's voice rose to greet him, "Hey, my man. Wait up." Michael looked down to see Jake quickly coming up the stairs. Once there, Jake put his hand on Michael's shoulder. "Now, young man. Daria is very special..."
Michael said, "Isn't she, though. Say, what's your take on the election this year? Think it will be a close one?"
Jake's shoulder's raised in frustration and he clenched his fists. "Stinking, rotten politicians! None of them are really pulling for us working stiffs. If I could just find one..."
Michael smiled inwardly as he carefully sidestepped to his room and slipped inside.
"Thursday, I never could get the hang of Thursdays." The next morning, Michael silently listened until he heard the front door closing a third time. Carefully, he went downstairs and to the kitchen.
Daria looked over from the table, where she was finishing a bowl of cereal. "Hiding from my family?"
Michael responded with, "Discretion is the better part of valor," as he made for the coffee.
Daria poured cereal into a bowl for Michael. "You can't hide tomorrow. Mom specifically asked for you to join us for breakfast before we leave. Though, we can probably convince Quinn to make a fast exit."
"I suppose that was inevitable."
"You got it."
"So...what's on the agenda for today?" Michael asked as he sat next to Daria and kissed her cheek.
"I had been hoping to wake you up again this morning."
He smiled, "Damn, I should have stayed in bed."
"Do you mind if we spend a quiet day together? Back at Raft, we always needed to end things for one or the other of us to study or something."
Daria and Michael sat with Jake and Helen for Friday breakfast. Daria spoke over her cereal, "I wish we could stretch things through the weekend, but I really need to get stuff unpacked and put away before classes start Monday."
Michael muttered, "I understand, but don't have to like it."
Daria gave him a weak smile. "I didn't say I liked it, either."
Helen said, "It has been a pleasure having both of you here. Michael, you will always be welcome to stay in the guest room when Daria's here."
He nodded. "Thank you, Mrs. Morgendorffer."
Taking both Daria and Michael's hands, Helen continued, "I've been very impressed by how mature you two have behaved these last few days." Helen released them and clasped her hands together. "We have been far too concerned about whether you have been...intimate." Daria started to speak, but Helen cut her off. "That really is a private matter between you. Your maturity has shown that it is none of our business. We won't inquire, or listen to stories, again."
Jake looked at his wife in surprise. "Helen, that's..." He abruptly stopped with his jaw clamped down in pain as Helen slightly shifted back to her normal seated position.
Daria smiled at her mother. "That...means a lot. Thanks."
Michael looked at Jake with concern.
Daria looked back through the front door. "Mom, Dad, thanks for everything. I'll see you in a couple of weeks for Quinn's graduation. Bye now."
Her parents chorused "Good bye" came through just before she closed the door and walked over to where Michael's car was parked next to hers. She tightly pulled him into an embrace. "We better get going, long distances to travel."
Michael looked down. "Yeah, and it will be way too long before we can see each other again."
"We'll stay in touch, and I've already bought my plane tickets for July."
"These last couple days spoiled me." He gently ran his finger tips down her spine.
Daria lightly gasped and arched her back in response. "Me, too."
"I can't stand to drag things out." Michael gave her a lingering kiss and backed away holding her hands. "I love you." He paused for several seconds in anticipation before leaning forward to kiss her again. He said, "Good bye," released her hands and climbed into his car. "Please drive carefully."
Daria nodded. "I will...and I expect the same from you. Good bye."
Michael started the car and backed down the driveway. He gave a last wave to Daria and drove off. She watched him until he was out of sight, feeling emptiness inside as she looked down at her hands.
After a few moments of thought, she silently got into her car for the drive to Jane's.
Jane came out of the house wearing a set of large, dark sunglasses. When she was close enough, she tossed a set of clip-ons to Daria, who promptly dropped them. After picking them up and examining them, she looked at Jane. "Any particular reason?"
Jane took the shades from Daria, and clipped them over her glasses. "Not bad. The cars...just demand we wear dark shades. Think of the names we can use..."
Daria winced. "I'd rather not. Besides, why don't I just wear my prescription sunglasses?"
Jane shrugged one shoulder. "Oops."
"Do I get to say goodbye to Trent, or is he examining the inside of his eyelids."
"His eyelids appear to be extremely fascinating this morning. I couldn't wake him."
Daria shrugged. "Guess I'll call him later then."
Jane waved her hand toward the cars, "Shall we?"
Daria and Jane traveled back to Boston and their new apartment, the second floor of an antebellum south Boston home.
After a pleasant greeting from the landlady, Mrs. Lyndon, they ascended the stairs to their home. Jane gave a rushed grin and said, "One thing I hate about long car trips," before she made directly for the bathroom.
Daria walked to her room and opened her top dresser drawer. She removed a narrow, gold gift box and placed it on top. She took the cover off and slowly removed a gold necklace with a pendant. The delicately streaked greens of the malachite cabochon set on the pendent gave an elegant contrast to the gold. Daria opened the clasp and pulled the necklace around her neck before closing it, allowing the pendent to rest just above her breasts. She looked in the mirror and smiled for a moment, before reaching into the drawer to remove a paper-wrapped object. She went to her computer desk and unwrapped a small blue, glass vase holding a dozen tiny silk roses. She placed the roses on the shelf over the monitor.
Jane stuck her head in the room. "Hey, there you are, ready to start unpacking?"
Daria turned and nodded.
Jane looked at her watch. "Less than five minutes, I knew you wouldn't take long to get that back on. I'll say it again, happiness looks good on you."
Daria gave her friend a smile. "I feel a lot better than I did when we left last weekend."
Jane produced a quirky grin. "So, what exactly are you feeling toward him?"
"That he is...a sweet, romantic man."
"I'm very happy we are back together, even if we have to spend most of the summer apart."
"Is there anything in particular to describe how you feel?"
Daria sighed and looked down. "I know what you are trying to get me to say." Daria looked up with concern in her eyes. "I...I'm not sure. I don't know how to be sure."
Jane put an arm around Daria's shoulder. "From what I understand, you'll figure out eventually." What the rest of us already can see. "Don't worry about it."
In good spirits, they helped each other tote, unpack, sort, catalog and disperse their possessions.
In Daria's room, Jane pulled the small, hinged container from the shipping box and opened it.
"Oh...wow. You still have these lying around?"
"What?" Daria looked up from the box she was working on.
"Dr. Shar's Pre-Implant Temporary Breast Augmentations."
"Oh, those things."
"Planning on using them?"
Daria gave a single laugh. "Almost did, once."
"Whoa. You? Spill."
"Remember how I had to dress like Quinn to snap her out of that brainy poet phase?"
Daria looked down the front of her shirt. "I...um...wasn't quite...as...well developed at sixteen, but couldn't bring myself...to install them. I'm glad that just walking past Quinn's room dressed like her was enough. If anyone else would have actually seen me, I would have died."
"I bet Michael would be impressed."
Daria lunged for the box. "Don't even think it!"
The "Thursday" quote from Douglas Adam's Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
Thanks to the residents of PPMB for comments and suggestions: Kristen Bealer, Isa Yo-Jo, Lawndale Stalker, Mike Nassour, The Angst Guy, Ranger Thorne, ipswichfan, Mahna Mahna, Staren, Steven Galloway, DJ, Decelaraptor, and et alia.
Thanks to Ipswichfan, Mike Nassour, Mr. Orange, and Deref for beta reading and other commentary.
Rev. February 2005