For Better or Not Too Bad
by Dennis

The middle-aged couple sat at a small table at Chez Pierre, Lawndale's finest restaurant. The corner table that they sat at was lit only by candles, creating the illusion that they were alone in the restaurant.

"We don't do this very often anymore," the man said with a touch of sadness. "Just talk, I mean."

"No, we don't," his wife responded, picking idly at her plate. "Whenever we go out, we either listen to the kids argue or hear boring speeches at some stupid fundraiser." The waiter, sensing that his continued presence would be intrusive, had brought their dinners and simply left them alone.

"Well, the kids aren't here tonight, and we don't have to deal with any fundraisers. No Lawndale Businesswoman's Alliance tonight." He smiled tenderly.

"I'm really beginning to hate them, you know." She sighed and took a sip from her drink. "It seemed like such a good idea to get involved in a group that could make a difference, maybe help break the glass ceiling. But all they want to do is to sit around listening to pompous windbags drone on about nothing and congratulate themselves on being such driven women. But look at me," she she said with a laugh, "letting them get me wound up tonight. Tonight's about you and me."

"Just the two of us." He smiled again. A night for themselves was something they needed. He took a sip from his drink, as well. "You look lovely tonight."

She knew she did. She was wearing her favorite black strapless evening gown, which accentuated her curves and showed off her legs to best effect. Her hair was up and her makeup, combined with the dim light, made her look fifteen years younger. After all these years, it still made her blush with pleasure to hear him say it, though. "Why, thank you, kind sir. And you look very handsome."

He shrugged. He still had most of his hair and most of it wasn't gray. What more could he ask for? He didn't like dressing up, but she'd asked him to wear his nicest black suit, so he did with a minimum of complaint. And it was a nice suit, so he didn't have much to complain about anyway. "Thank you, too. I know I don't say it often enough, but I'm glad we're still together."

She reached across the table and took his hand. "I am, too. And I'm sorry I'm not the best wife to you." For a moment, even in the dim light, she looked unbearably sad.

"Don't say that," he said, aching to reassure her. "You're a wonderful wife and I wouldn't change a thing about you."

With a wry smile, she said, "You wouldn't make me less bossy? Or less critical of you?"

"You know what's best for the family," he said. "And it's not like I don't deserve most of the criticism. I'm not the most ambitious man, or the best father...." He trailed off, looking down at his half-empty plate.

"That's not fair," she jumped in. "You're a fine father. You have a good job, and the kids look up to you. If anyone should be a better parent, it's me. I'm always too busy to help and the children really need their mother."

"Now you're the one that's not being fair," he said. "Even with your career, you're there for the family. We have good kids, and they try to do the right thing." With a quick smile, he added, "Most of the time."

"I know," she said, smiling in response. "We haven't done so badly. But we can do better."

He nodded. "Yes, we can." He raised his glass with his free hand. "Here's to doing better, both as parents and as husband and wife."

"To doing better," she said, clinking her glass against his. As they set their glasses down, she gave her husband a tender smile. "I love you, Tom Griffin."

"I love you too, Linda Griffin." Leaning across the table to kiss her, he realized she was right. They hadn't done badly at all.

Disclaimer: Daria and all characters are copyright MTV 1997–2002. I own nothing and am merely along for the ride.