Tie Died, My Darling

Author: Deref

Category: Romance

Synopsis: Sequel to Quinntessence Part 2. Helen finally tells Daria about how she and Jake came to meet, and some interesting facts about Helen's hippie days.

Gentle reader, this is chapter seven in a series. It will make much more sense if you read what has gone before, starting with "My Afternoon at Tom's".

Warning: This is R rated.

Now the years are rolling by me,
They are rocking easily
And I am older than I once was
And younger than I'll be,
That's not unusual.
So it isn't strange
That after changes upon changes
We are more or less the same
After changes, we are more or less the same.

- Paul Simon, The Boxer

"Hey Janey, I...oh wow! Sorry!"

Jane disconnected her lips from Quinn's and sighed. "It's okay, Trent. So now that you've interrupted us, what can I do for you?"

Quinn grinned with a mixture of guilt and amusement at Trent's embarrassment.

"Er, I was wondering if you could let me have five bucks. The tank's out of gas and we've got a gig at the Zon tonight. Nick was going to put some gas in it but he had to spend his last ten on shoelaces."

"Sorry. Old Mother Hubbard was a Wall Street tycoon compared to me. And since when did shoelaces cost ten bucks?"

"Well, he got a really fancy pair of blue suede shoes for his birthday and he said it just didn't seem right to put dollar laces on them."

"Blue suede shoes? You're kidding!"

"No. He said that he wanted them because of the inspirational value. You know--there were so many songs written about blue suede shoes that he figured they must have held some mystical significance in the fifties and sixties."

"From Nick that makes perfect sense. But I'm still broke."

"Okay, thanks anyway." Trent turned to go.

"Trent, hold on. I can give you five."

"Oh. Er, well, I don't know, Quinn. I mean I'm grateful, but..." Trent prevaricated, unsure of the protocol of taking money from his sister's girlfriend. Ever since he'd helped her home with Jane's painting he'd started to develop some respect for Quinn, perhaps even a little affection--she was Janie's girlfriend after all, but that didn't he felt comfortable borrowing money from her.

"Trent, it's a fashion emergency. I can understand that. I deal with these situations on a professional level all the time. As Vice President of the Fashion Club it's my duty to help when the dictates of fashion demand. I insist. Here--." She rummaged around in her pocket and handed him a warm ten dollar bill.

Jane grinned. "Wow. I'm impressed. I always wanted to marry into money."

"It's the Barksdale blood. Mom always said that the Barksdales knew the value of a dollar."

Trent paused, staring at Quinn. "What did you say?"

"You know--the value of a dollar. Hang onto it until the eagle grins and all that."

"No, I mean that name."


"Yeah. Who's that?"

"It was my Mom's name before she married Dad. Why?"

"Don't go away." he said, walking in what, for Trent, was a rapid pace, out of Jane's bedroom and down the stairs.

Quinn grinned at Jane. "I wasn't going anywhere."

"Good. Now--where were we?" Jane sighed, putting her arms around Quinn and resuming their lip lock.

Two minutes later Trent appeared back at the door, holding an LP record. "See, I knew that--whoa!"

"Trent, if I didn't know better I'd say that you were doing this on purpose." smirked Jane.

"Um..." It was the first time Jane could remember Trent appearing genuinely embarrassed.

"Some people have offered to pay for the privilege of watching. Where do you think Quinn gets all her money?"

"Er, I have a ten..."

Quinn laughed.

Trent handed Quinn the record. "I knew I'd heard that name before. Look."

The title was written in that swirling orange script that was so typical of the late 60s and early 70s acid rock era. Technicolor Yawn--Head Space. Below the title five hippies stood against a multicoloured background wearing an assortment of clothes that were, well, interesting.

"Don't look, Quinn. Your fashion sense may be permanently damaged." sighed Jane, her own sense of artistic style under full frontal assault.

To Jane's surprise, Quinn was blasé. "I've seen much worse. Believe me, there's not much that can shock a Fashion Club member. I mean there was this girl at the mall the other day wearing accessories that'd make--Technicolor Porn, is it--look like Brittany Spears on a bad day."

Jane smiled at her then turned to Trent. "So what's the connection?"

"Look at the track list on the back, the title track."

Quinn turned the album over and looked at the place where Trent's finger was pointing. "Oh. Wow! Head Space: E. Betts/H. Barksdale! No--it couldn't be!"

Jane took the album from Quinn's hand. "How many H. Barksdales could there be? I mean Barksdale's not a completely uncommon name, but 'H'?"

Quinn looked up from the album to Trent. "Can I borrow this?" she asked.

"I guess so. I've taped it, but be careful, it's not mine."

"Thanks. Jane, can we go?"

"Aw, just when I was beginning to enjoy myself. Okay then. Trent--how about a lift. You can come with us to talk to Quinn's Mom."



"In here, Quinn."

Quinn, Jane and Trent followed the sound of Daria's voice into the kitchen, where Helen was sitting in front of a stack of papers, ear glued to the phone. She made the "shush" sign.

Daria stood at the bench pouring a cup of coffee. She pointed at the pot then at Jane and Trent, her eyes asking if they wanted a cup. Quinn, she knew, never drank coffee, it being so bad for one's complexion. Trent and Jane, who clearly had no respect for their complexions, nodded. Daria poured two extra cups and triumphantly opened a pack of Gramma Maybelle's Home Made Old Fashioned Country Style Artificial Chocolate Chip Cookie Substitute Food Product and handed them around while Quinn glared with disdain .

"Yes, Eric, of course. No, I don't mind a bit. My family can thaw out some frozen lasagna."

Quinn cast her eyes heavenward and muttered "Celery sticks again." Snatching the record from Trent’s hand, she thrust it under Daria’s nose, pointing to the line in question. Seeing her mother’s name on the credits, Daria’s eye’s widened as she looked first at the back of her mother’s head, then back to Quinn, who simply shrugged her shoulders. Taking the record, Daria placed it on top of the pile in front of Helen.

The world stopped.

The tinny squeak of Eric Schrecter's voice could be heard from the cell phone. "Helen? Helen--are you there?" After a pause that seemed to last for hours, she spoke into the phone. "I'll call you back."

She stared down at the record cover, the colour draining from her face. After a minute, without looking up, she feebly called out "Jake?" in a voice that was too quiet for him to possibly hear.

Quinn and Daria, seeing the look on their mother's face, exchanged a concerned look. "I'll get him, Mom." said Quinn, turning to walk out. She returned a few minutes later with Jake, who looked down at the album cover and picked it up. Helen's eyes followed it.

Jake's face broke into a grin. "Wow! They recorded it!"

Helen, still visibly shaken, nodded.

Jane stared at Quinn. "My inimitable powers of deduction lead me to conclude that the H. Barksdale listed on the album is your Mom."

"Astounding, Lane." muttered Daria through a mouthful of cookie substitute that had remained there, frozen in time, since she'd put the LP down in front of her mother and noted the reaction. She swallowed with difficulty.

"Elementary my dear Morgendorffer." returned Jane, helping herself to another brown-speckled discoid from the pack.

Quinn was still looking concerned. "Mom?"

Helen looked at Quinn, regaining a little composure, though not much. "Where did you get this, Dear?"

Trent piped up. "One of the guys in the band found it at a junk, er, garage sale. Did you really write it?"

"I wrote the lyrics, yes. I didn't know they'd recorded it though. I lost touch with The Yawn after I started dating Jake. It can't have sold very well--I've never seen it. I always just assumed that the Yawn had gone the way of all bands."

Jake was still grinning. "Your mother's too modest, kids. She wrote a lot of stuff for The Yawn and it was great, believe me."

Helen blushed.

Though it was lost on Jane and Trent, Daria and Quinn recognised it was the first time they'd ever seen their mother exhibit any modesty about her achievements--if, indeed, it was modesty they were seeing. Helen didn't brag except to her sisters, and then it was more gloating than bragging, but "modest" wasn't a word that either of them would ever have used in a word association test in response to "Helen".

She looked at Jake with an expression that was hard to interpret. Perhaps surprise mixed with...something else...maybe...gratitude?

"I've got to go. Eric's asked me to do some urgent work on the Gramma Maybelle case. There's frozen lasagna in the fridge. I'm sure your father can tell you anything you want to know about this," pointing to the LP. She scooped the papers into her briefcase and beat a hasty retreat. Too hasty.

"Dad?" Quinn looked at Jake, the question plain on her face.

"Well, there's nothing much to tell. Your mother had always wanted to be a writer until her father died."

That hit Daria like a sack of rocks. Her mother? A writer?

"Once she went into pre-law, she didn't have much time for it but she used to hang out with The Yawn and when they found out what a great writer she was..." Daria was sitting down by this stage, looking at her father with what, in Daria, passed for a look of fascination. "...they hassled her to write lyrics for them." His face took on a distant expression. "She was great. I mean really good. If she hadn't decided to study law she would have been a great writer. The stuff she wrote for The Yawn was kind of her last fling I guess. Certainly not her best stuff, but pretty good." He looked at Trent. "Hey--can we play this?"


They followed him into the living room. He opened the lid of the record player and gently removed the LP from its cover, holding it gingerly between the label and the edge, inspecting it. He sighed. "It's in pretty bad condition. Scratches, fingerprints..."

"It was noisy, but it played okay on Nick's dad's record player." Trent walked over to Jake and looked at the record.

"Well, let's try it." He put it on the turntable, gently lifted the arm over the record and put the stylus down delicately on the lead-in track. The speakers crackled and popped like a bowl of Rice Crispies.

The effect of music he hadn't heard for thirty years, music that had a special significance, was palpable on his face. A combination of pride and nostalgia, a hint of barely restrained emotion.

The classic Hammond organ/Leslie speaker combination rose behind the unmistakable clarity of a Fender Telecaster playing a strong back beat over a restrained and well-controlled, but punchy, rhythm section.

"Cool!" breathed Trent.

The lyrics came, clear and strong.

Daria and Quinn looked at each other with astonishment at the hidden talent and a hidden intensity of feeling that their mother had never revealed--to them.


"Mom. Come in." Daria was sitting at her computer in her shorts and t-shirt, sending a last e-mail before she went to bed.

"How are you Sweetie?"

"Starting to recover from Gramma Maybelle's Old Fashioned Home Made Italian Style Lasagna-based Food Product. But otherwise, fine, Mom. How are you?"

"Oh, fine, just fine." Helen sat down on the bed.

"Hasn't the weather been pleasant for this time of year?"

"Alright, Daria. There's no need to be sarcastic. Perhaps this is a bad time. You're ready to go to bed."

"How can I judge whether it's a bad time or not if I don't know what it's a bad time for? Of course I hope that I know the answer to that, but humour me."

"There's no beating round the bush with you, is there, Daria? Alright then. You said that you wanted to know more about your father and me. I'm sorry I ran off this afternoon, but that conversation wasn't one I was ready to have with everyone there. But this is as good a time as any. I promised you that I'd try to help you understand. Well, I'm ready if you are."

Daria could see that Helen wasn't exactly reluctant, but that this wasn't easy for her.

"Should I make coffee?"

"That depends."


"Two things. Firstly, this could be a long one. If you're tired it might be better if we waited for another time, but it's Saturday night and you can sleep in in the morning if you want to. Secondly, if I start I'll probably finish and it's best if I warn you now that you might regret asking. I haven't done anything I'm ashamed of, Daria--well, perhaps that one small thing with the stunt driver--but hearing about the intimate details of anyone's life can be, well, uncomfortable, and I think that if that person is your mother it can be even more so. Do you think you're prepared to go the distance?"

Daria shut down the computer, got up and walked to the door.

"Where are you going?"


Five minutes later Daria was back with two cups of fresh coffee and a pack of cookie substitute. She sat back at the computer then changed her mind, got up, and lay on the bed propped up with a stack of pillows.

"You know that I was at Middleton in 1969. I was living off-campus with Coyote and Willow. We were renting a big house not too far from college. Your father tells me that he said I used to hang around with Technicolor Yawn." Helen paused, then continued, more quietly. "That was...an understatement. I used to, er, date one of them."

"Yes, of course Eric. I don't mind at all"

"Helen, you know how important this is. I wouldn't be asking if it wasn't."

"Oh yes, I know you wouldn't, Eric. Really, it's no trouble."

"Don't let me down on this, Helen."

"I won't. Eric?"

"Yes Helen?"

"Shut up and let's fuck."

"Eric? Mom--you're not talking about Erich Schrecter are you?"

"Oh, Daria, of course not."

"Phew. Er, and Mom..."

"What Dear?"

"I wish you'd be a little less, um, graphic."

"Don't be so sensitive Daria. I told you that this might be uncomfortable for you. I'm trying to recreate the situation."

Helen lay back on her bed, staring up at the ceiling, thinking. She didn't mind helping Eric out with lyrics, particularly since the band had a big gig coming up, but she was beginning to get a little miffed at being treated like a doormat. She was a good lyricist and Technicolor Yawn had made good use of some of her material, but she didn't appreciate being asked--required--to produce on demand. She was serious about her work and it was hard to write well to a band's deadlines.

Eric's keyboard work and powerful, expressive voice had been what attracted her in the first place, although Greg the bass player was really sweet--she could have fallen for Greg and it was obvious that he liked her. But Eric had won the day. After that stupid, stupid episode in which she'd lost her virginity to that moronic stunt driver Eric was a breath of fresh air; genuinely sensitive, intelligent, artistic, the exact opposite of that bozo. God--what had she been thinking? Well, that was the problem, wasn't it? She hadn't been thinking, at least not with her brain. That had always been one of Amy's taunts. "Think with your brain, Helen, not with your cunt." Too bad she hadn't listened. Not that she'd ever give Amy the satisfaction of hearing her say that. Anyway, when you've got a body like this (she often thought as she admired herself in the mirror after a shower) you had a responsibility to a) enjoy it and b) get maximum mileage out if for taunting your flat-chested, cynical, too-smart-for-her-own-good sister.

And the sex, God, the sex with Eric was just unbelievable. Truth be told, it was the sex that kept her hanging around. Eric was beginning to get on her nerves, but it was still fun and she was genuinely flattered by the treatment that the band had given her poetry. The songs sounded great and she loved hearing them performed. Since she'd decided to study law instead of English Lit she didn't have much time left for her first love, which was writing. She'd always loved the English romantic poets, particularly Keats, but she admired the way that Kipling packed so much punch into a single line, though she found his Victorian attitudes a little off-putting at times. Still, he was a product of his age. And Elizabeth Barrett Browning's sonnets, well, some of them were just beautiful. A leather-bound edition of Sonnets From the Portuguese was her prize possession. it had been a Christmas present--a very thoughtful Christmas present--from Eric last year.

But Helen was enough of a realist to know writing wasn't going to butter any parsnips, whereas law was potentially a ticket to Big Bucksville. It was even beginning to get interesting, although still, in her heart of hearts, she nurtured those dreams of writing for a living. Writing for the band was emotionally rewarding, but it hurt a little to realise that her writing career, though it had never really been born, was probably in its death throes.

"Dad said that you'd wanted to be a writer. Why didn't you tell me?"

Helen paused, thinking, before she answered. "Reluctance to admit defeat I suppose Dear. It's amazing how persistent our illusions can be, how hard it is to let them go. We cling to them beyond hope sometimes."

"Would telling me have been admitting defeat?"

"Perhaps. I'm telling you now, and part of that telling is letting go of any vestiges of the dream."

Understanding dawned, sadness in her mother's face.

"I'm a good lawyer, Daria. I use the same skills in the courtroom as I would have used as a writer. Facts and research are important but Marianne does most of the research and digs up most of the facts. In the end it's often words that make the difference."

"But why?"

"Don't take this the wrong way, Daria, please. Most writers can't support themselves from writing. Most either live very simple lives or work full time and write in their spare time. The chances of substantial success are tiny and not always totally dependant on how well you write. I didn't want to live a very simple life once I graduated and I could see far enough into the future to know that trying to write in my spare time wouldn't work. You may have noticed that I'm not the sort of person who does things by halves. I either put everything I've got into it or I don't do it at all."

"We've all noticed. But why law?"

"The chance to do some good. The chance to redress some of the things I thought were wrong. The chance to help people who were victims of the system." Sadness again. "That's how it started, or at least that's what I told myself. If I'm honest it was also the ability to make money, but in the spirit of the times I didn't admit that to myself."

"I'm sorry Mom."

"You have nothing to be sorry for, Daria. I'm satisfied with the path I've chosen. Anyway, you're a better writer than I ever was and, if you choose, you'll be a better lawyer than I'll ever be. You'll understand more as the story unfolds."

Helen sighed, took another long toke on the joint she'd rolled. She stubbed it out in the ashtray, sighed, and got out of bed to try to finish the lyrics, angry at herself for being so submissive. Yes Eric, no Eric, three goddamn bags full Eric. One of these days, instead of let's fuck, Eric it was going to be Fuck off, Eric.

There was a knock at the door, which opened a crack as Willow peeked round. "Helen?"

"What?" Then, realising that she'd snapped, "Shit, sorry Willow."

"You okay, Babe?" Willow looked concerned.

"Yes. I'm sorry, I didn't mean to lose my cool. I'm just hassled."


"Uh huh. What's up?"

Willow smiled. "I got it!"

"Got what?"

"The album. Wanna listen?"

"What? Woodstock?"


"Oh, cool!" Her face fell. "Uh, no. I promised Eric that I'd finish the song today. I'd better keep working."

"Okay. You know, I think Eric takes advantage of you."

Helen closed her eyes and bit her lip to hold back the tears. It needn't have been like this. It could have been so good. It was at first. At first it wasn't just the sex. Sometimes it still wasn't. But she could feel it slipping away, and she mourned for it.

Willow came in and folded Helen in her arms, sensing her hurt. "Sorry, Babe," she whispered.

Helen sniffed. "Thanks. I'm okay."


"Uh huh. Really."

Willow could see that it was only partly true, but she took Helen's hand and gave it a friendly squeeze, as if to say "I'm here for you." Helen's sad smile showed that she understood. Willow turned, walked out and gently closed the door behind her.

Helen sighed as she stared down at the blank sheet of paper. In a minute the strains of Joni Mitchell drifted up from downstairs. Her thoughts drifted back and forth between the music and the festival.

I came upon a child of God,
He was walking along the road
And I asked him "tell me where are you going?"
And this he told me.
I'm going down to Yasgur's farm,
Gonna join in a rock and roll band
I've got to get back to the land
And set my soul free

Rain, mud, not enough toilets, twenty mile traffic jams, drugs, busts, and half a million people getting off on the most amazing music of a generation. Love. That was what it had been about.

We are stardust, we are golden,
We are billion year old carbon,
And we got to get ourselves back to the garden.

Love, and sticking it to The Man. Dancing topless to the Dead had been a blast, mainly to enjoy the drooling of the guys around her. She smiled.

"Well, then can I walk beside you?
I have come to lose the smog,
And I feel like I'm a cog in something turning.
And maybe it's the time of year,
Yes and maybe it's the time of man.
And I don't know who I am,
But life is for learning."

That guy she'd met, what was his name? Joey? No. Jeffy? No. Jakey! That was it. He'd been cute.

We are stardust, we are golden,
Caught in the devil's bargain,
And we've got to get ourselves back to the garden.

She'd given him her phone number. That might have been a mistake. Eric was the jealous type, possessive, even. Still, Eric was looking less and less like a permanent fixture and she had to meet people, didn't she? But Eric probably didn't feel like that. Well fuck Eric. She sighed again, feeling a familiar sensation. She would, but Eric wasn't here.

Every Saturday night Willow insisted that they sit down to dinner together. It was part of her "Earth Mother" shtick. Willow--the classic Earth Mother--nurturing, wholesome, all crystals and herbs, home made bread made with stone ground unbleached flour, raw sugar, vegetarian, Ravi Shankar playing an evening raga on the stereo over dinner to help centre them and aid digestion. Helen revelled in and genuinely admired Willow's expansiveness, her openness, her--well--her--hippieness. Both Willow and Coyote had been horrified when she'd decided to study law instead of writing.

"Mmm--great soybean loaf, Willow. Pass the lentil dhal please."

"Thanks Coyote. How's yours Helen?"

"Delicious, thank you Willow. You make the best bread!"

"Well, we wouldn't want to eat that refined poison that the military-industrial complex manufactures. They remove all the nutrients from the flour and then sell them back to us as processed vitamins and minerals. And do you have any idea of how the workers their factories are exploited?"

"Well, of course. Why do you think I want to become a lawyer? I don't want to be the man, I want to stick it to the man, to use the man's rules to fight for the oppressed."

"Yeah, that's cool, Helen, but you've got real talent, man. You can open peoples' eyes, help them see the reality behind the illusion, get inside their heads, mess with their minds. You could be the next Ken Kesey. Or, or--wow--the next Tom Wolfe!"

"Oh. You're exaggerating, Willow, Anyway, my mind's made up. Well, you'll have to excuse me I'm afraid. I have to pop out for an hour. I'll do the dishes when I get back."

"Sure, Helen. Sorry you have to leave before dessert though. We're having prune and rutabaga crumble…with fresh goat's milk yoghurt!"

"Oh dear, my favourite. Save some for me if you can resist eating it all."

"We'll try, but you know how Coyote loves my prune and rutabaga crumble."

Helen hurried out the door. Half a mile down the road she turned into a store and walked up to the counter.

"Yes Ma'm, what can I do for you?" Helen enjoyed his valiant attempts to look her in the eye instead of at the view through her thin Indian cotton top. There was a streak of cruelty in Helen, though it was good-natured cruelty. It provided as much entertainment for her as it did for men.

"The usual, please."

"One hamburger with the works, fries and a Coke. Coming up."

Daria smiled. "You'd probably better leave that part out if you ever tell Quinn this story."

Helen walked back into the house, past the wind chimes that were tinkling merilly in the warm summer breeze. She noticed a copy of the latest Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers comic book on the coffee table as she walked through to the kitchen where Coyote was busy washing dishes.

"Can I have a look at the Fat Freddy's Cat cartoon when you've finished the Freak Brothers comic, Coyote?"

He looked up. "Sure. By the way, Helen, you had a phone call while you were out. I wrote it down next to the phone."

"Do you remember who it was?"

He smiled. "Yeah. It was that guy you met at the festival. Jake someone...Morganflauter, was it?"

"Oh. Thanks." Helen's face remained blank, but inside a little flutter told her that she was happier than she'd expected to be to hear that he'd called. "Here--let me finish drying up. You go and help Willow with her macramé, I can do the rest."

"Cool, Thanks man."

"Es nada." She smiled.

So, he'd called. She really hadn't expected him to but, now that he had, Helen realised that things might get a little...awkward. As she dried and stacked the dishes she thought about her options. The sensible thing, of course, would be to just ignore the call, give him the message that she wasn't interested. But that would be burning her bridges, wouldn't it? Though she was beginning to resent Eric, she wasn't a two-timer. But it wouldn't hurt to meet him for a cup of coffee, would it? Get to know him a little better? That wasn't cheating. Was it? She sighed. Perhaps the best thing to do would be to sleep on it.

The phone had been ringing for ages and Helen was just about to give up when someone answered.


"Jake? It's Helen, Helen Barksdale."

Oh, hi Helen. I was beginning to wonder if you'd call. It's good to hear from you." His voice sounded genuinely happy.

"Sorry to take so long. I got in, er, rather late last night so I thought it was better to wait until this morning before I called."

"That's cool, I'm glad you called back. So, how have you been?"

"Oh, just fine. How about you?"

"Fine. Fine too."

"That's good."

"Yeah, good."

There was an awkward pause.

"Um, so, Helen, I was wondering if you might like to go to a movie with me. Zaccharia's on at the Mandala."

"Oh, far out! I've been meaning to see that. I just love the James Gang. That guitarist, Joe Walsh, knocks me out!"

"Hey--me too! So you'll come?"

"Uh, well, Jake, it's very sweet of you, but I, um, I'm sort of, you know, in a relationship right now."


"But I do want to see Zaccharia, and, well, I guess there's no harm in catching a movie with a friend, is there?"

"Well, it's up to you."

"Yeah, I guess so. Okay then. How about tomorrow night?"

"Sure. Pick you up at 6:00?"

"Why not. Perhaps we could grab a ham--I mean a lentil burger--on the way."

"Cool. Bye."

"Bye Jake."

Well, she'd done it now, hadn't she? Oh shit.

Willow was sitting on the sofa in the lotus position when Helen came in.

"So, how was the date with Jake?"

"It wasn't a date, Willow. We just both wanted to see the same movie so we went together. And we were both hungry so we popped in for a ham, er, lentil burger on the way."

"Oh. Okay. That doesn't sound anything like a date," smirked Willow. "So what's he like?"

She smiled. "He's nice. I mean, he's not brilliant, or even terribly good looking. But he's--I don't know--genuine. We talked for ages."

"It sounds as if you got to know each other pretty well."

Helen blushed. "No, not really, but he's easy to talk to, you know, he's a good listener." Despite herself, Helen broke into a grin. "Oh alright, Willow. I had a really good time. I like him a lot."

"I hate to bring this up, Helen, but how about Eric?"

The grin disappeared "Yes. Eric." She sighed.

"So man, how was your date?"

"Okay I guess. She's really cool but she's, you know, involved with someone. I think she just thought of it as going to see the same movie and grabbing something to eat on the way. I don't think she thought of it as a date. I think she just wants to be friends."

"Aw--the old 'I just wanna be friends' routine eh? Bad scene, Jake my man."

"Yeah. She's really great you know. She wanted to be a writer, but her old man died and left her family almost penniless, and what bread they had got spent on her spoilt sister. She's been through a really heavy scene. She decided to take law--she says it's so she can fight for the oppressed, but you know, I think she doesn't want to be poor again. She lives with some friends who are vegetarians so she has to make excuses from time to time so she can sneak out to get some real food." He smiled. "And, man, she was wearing one of those flimsy Indian cotton tops without a bra. It was really hard to keep my eyes glued in."

"Cool. Sounds like you did a lot of, er, talking alright. Too bad she's already taken, man. Are you going to try again."

"I don't know. I guess I shouldn't. I mean, if she's dating someone else. It wouldn't be right, would it."

"All's fair in love and war, brother."

"Yeah, well, I don't know."

"Think it over bro. Faint heart never won fair maiden."

"Fair maiden. Yeah."

"I just assumed that the Barksdales weren't particularly wealthy."

"We were never wealthy, but until my father died we were comfortable. At least we thought we were until the bills started coming in. It was hard, Daria."

"Grandma's favouritism to Aunt Rita must have made it even harder. You'd built up certain...expectations and they'd disappeared. Seeing what money there was spent on your sister just rubbed salt into the wound?"

"You're very perceptive, Daria."

"So money became important to you and law was more likely to give it to you than writing was."

"Starving in a garret didn't appeal. We'd lived reasonably well it was a real struggle to do without. I didn't admit it at the time, but I think that played a more important part in my decision to become a lawyer than I believed at the time."

"And all that stuff about 'sticking it to the man' and 'fighting for the oppressed'--that was all just crap, right?"

"No. No, Daria. I honestly believed that I could do some good. It might surprise you, but I still believe it. Sometimes justice actually does get done and I play a small part in it. It's not all business litigation and contract work you know. And  contrary to appearances, Daria, I do believe that there are things more important than work." She looked at Daria with a sorrowful realisation. "You don't believe that, do you?"

"As hard as you make it sometimes, yes--I do. There have been moments when I've really needed you and you've put work second. Like the time I needed to talk to you about Jane and Tom. They've been rare, but they've been...luminous, Mom."

Helen smiled. "Really? Luminous?"

"Really. But one thing really puzzles me. You were smart, you were attractive. My guess is that you could have married into money if you'd wanted to but instead you chose Dad."

The smile stayed. "We're getting to that."

Helen nibbled thoughtfully on one of Willow's carob and oatmeal cookies while Willow poured another cup of jasmine tea.

"I'm going to invite him to the party on Saturday night." Helen said in the same offhand way as she might have said "I think I'll try wearing a bra for a while," or "I prefer chocolate to carob."

But Willow knew that, for Helen, it carried the weight of "I think I'll go and kill a pig," or "Nuclear war's just broken out." Helen could be the Ice Maiden when she chose to be.

"Steph's party? Wow. You're taking a walk on the wild side, babe. You know it'll get back to Eric, don't you? I mean Greg's bound the be there."

"Greg's cool. Besides, the whole scene with Eric's getting to be a drag." Helen was pouting and staring pointedly at the plate of cookies, avoiding Willow's eyes. There was a crack in the ice. Helen Barksdale Willow reflected, is not a chick to be fucked with when she's made up her mind.


There was nothing more to say.

It was a typical hippie crash pad. The lights were dim and the walls of the old apartment were covered with psychedelic posters including the obligatory multicoloured Jimi Hendrix, Aubrey Beardsley illustrations, a copy of the Desiderata and, of course, Kalil Ghibran's The Prophet:

"And a woman who held a babe against her bosom said, Speak to us of Children.

And he said: Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts,
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.

Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable."

The Grateful Dead's Anthem of the Sun was playing on the stereo and the air was thick with the cloying sweetness of hashish. People were standing around talking animatedly or just sitting and grooving. Some had vacant stares, others stupid grins.

Jake was curled on a mattress on the floor in a foetal position, whimpering. Nobody was taking any notice of him except Helen and Greg. Helen knelt beside him holding his hand, a look of deep concern on her face while Greg stood over them feeling like a spare part.

"No - Mad Dog - no - please - please." His eyes were closed tight. Behind them he was ten years old and the fearful, distorted face of his father scowled down at him out of a rippling, alien sky.

"Jake? What's wrong?"

"Mad Dog! No!"

"There are no dogs here, man, it's alright. Jake? Jake--please?"

"He's having a bad trip, Helen."

"For God's sake--I can see that Greg. What can we do?"

Greg felt more inadequate than usual. "I've heard that vitamin B can bring you down from a trip, but I don't know if it's true. I don't really know if there's anything we can do except to let him come down by himself."

"Shit. Will you help me get him back to my place?"

"Yeah. Sure. Come on, Jake, stand up man, it's cool." He bent down to help Jake to his feet.

Jake opened wild eyes, bloodshot, staring, "No--no--Mad Dog." He looked back and forth between Helen and Greg and a glimmer of recognition flickered in his gaze.

"Please Jakie--it's me, Helen, please stand up."

"We might have to carry him to the car."

"He's not unconscious Greg. Jake, please, stand up. Everything's alright. Greg's going to drive us back to my place."

"Helen-your place? Greg? God, help me man--it's Mad Dog!"

"It's cool Jake, come on man let's go to my car. Mad dogs can't get you there. We'll get away from them."

"Yeah--let's go," Jake muttered as they walked uncertainly out the door, leaving the party behind.

Willow was standing at the door when they arrived, a look of alarm crossing her face when she saw the almost feral look in Jake's eyes as Helen and Greg helped him in.

"Helen? Greg? What's going on? Who's this?"

"Um, Willow, this is Jake. He's not....himself right now."

"I'm glad. What do you mean, not himself?"

"He's having a bad trip. Some moron passed around some bad acid at the party, it's probably the same batch that went around at the festival. Jake's freaking out-he seems to think there some kind of dog after him. I couldn't leave him there. By the way, do you have any vitamin B?"

"Vitamin B? Of course? But why...?"

"Greg thinks it might help. Could you get some please, and a glass of water? Greg, would you help me get him upstairs?"

Jake slept for a couple of hours while Helen had sat next to him, gently stroking his hair while his panic subsided and he gradually drifted off to sleep. Greg had offered to stay, but she'd told him it was okay and thanked him with a friendly kiss. She was reading her beautiful leather-bound copy of Elizabeth Barrett Browning's Sonnets from the Portuguese when the door slowly opened a crack.


"Shh--Hi Coyote. Come on in."

Coyote was wearing pink flares, a bright floral shirt, platform shoes and a red bandana around his hair. In other words, nothing unusual. "How's Jake doing, babe? Willow told me what happened."

"He's asleep. He was really freaked out, I just hope that he can sleep it off. He should be down in about seven or eight hours. I'll stay with him. If he's still psychotic in the morning I'll have to get him to a doctor."

"He's a lucky guy to have someone like you looking after him. Can I bring you up something to eat?"

"No, thanks Coyote. I'll try to get some sleep too. I don't want to leave him by himself though, could you help me move the spare mattress in?"

"Yeah, sure. Are you going to be alright, Helen? I mean, what if he gets violent? It can happen, you know."

"Yeah. Thanks. I think it'll be okay, but I'll leave the door open. Are you and Willow going to be in tonight?"

"Yeah, Willow wants to finish the batch of candles she's making and I promised to help. Call if you need anything."

"Thanks Coyote."


She opened her eyes to see Jake looking down at her from the bed with bloodshot eyes.

"Jake!" She yawned. " You're awake! How do you feel?"

"Dreadful. My stomach hurts and my mouth feels like the bottom of a birdcage. I've got a weird metallic taste in my mouth and my guts hurt. Where am I--how did I get here?"

"Your at my place, Greg and I brought you here. You don't remember the party?"

"Oh--yeah--the party. I remember. Shit. It was that acid wasn't it?"

"I think so. You were completely out of it. You kept talking about mad dogs. What was that about?"

"Oh Jesus. Mad Dog." A little of the wildness flashed across his face.

"Jake--are you alright?"

He looked bewildered. "Sorry, that's never happened before."

"It must have been an acid flashback. Have you ever dropped acid before?"

"No. Shit--flashbacks--I've heard about them. Will that happen a lot?"

"I hope not. It's rare, but sometimes they can keep happening for the rest of your life."

"Oh--no!" There was a hint of panic in Jake's eyes. He was clearly terrified at the thought. "I really thought I had that bastard beaten, but it was as if it was all happening again."

"What, Jake? What's it all about?"

Daria was scowling. "Your generation are such a bunch of hypocrites. You were awash in drugs. Dammit Mom--you're telling me Dad's rants might be LSD flashbacks? And you run this phoney 'War on Drugs'? Even the President admits to taking drugs. And you expect my generation to believe you? How do you live with yourselves?"

Helen sighed. "Things are never as simple as they seem, Daria, particularly when you're young. Your father and I weren't much older than you are now when all this happened. I don't have all the answers--I never did, but yes, you're right, in many ways we are hypocrites. That's one of the reasons that we're having this little chat, isn't it?"

"Yeah--I guess so. Sorry I interrupted. But you all enjoyed those things, didn't you? The drugs, the free love, the rebellion?"

"Yes. But things were different then."

Daria's stare was more eloquent than words and it bore into Helen's eyes like a laser.

"No. No, you're right Daria." Helen sighed. "Do you know about boiling frogs?"


"They say that if you drop a frog into boiling water it'll just jump out. But if you put the frog into cold water and slowly bring it to the boil, the frog will sit there until it cooks.

Change happens almost imperceptibly. So slowly that you don't notice it. Then one day you wake up and realise that all the idealism, all the things you believed in, are gone. Peace? Hah--nuke the bastards. Love? Forget it--money talks. Back to nature? Tree-hugging hippie crap! All gone. And like the frog, you don't realise the danger until it's too late.

Willow and Coyote's visit last year made us realise that growing up wasn't necessarily all bad. They tried to hold on to their ideals by not growing up--by hanging on to the trappings and imagining that, by doing that, they could keep their ideals alive. You saw that it didn't work--it was an illusion. change is inevitable. But it's insidious too, like the water heating up around the frog.

Quinn's confession--and the way we behaved to you when we thought you'd slept with Tom--shocked us. I mean it made us realise just how important those things we'd lost were. We decided then and there that we weren't going to be hypocrites any more..." she looked sad "...at least to you two. We're both so proud of Quinn. We know how hard it was for her."

"Have you told her that?"

Sadly, "No. Not yet. "

"It's getting late. What did Dad tell you about Mad Dog."

"Mad Dog was my old man. He fancied himself as a big war hero, but the only service he saw was in the kitchen. He was a cook in the army. Can you believe it? He wanted to win a Purple Heart, but the only battle injury he ever got was a scratch from a potato peeler. He was a bitter man. By the time I came along all he wanted out of me was everything that his life had never been."

There was a distant look in Jake's eyes and a bitterness in his voice. Helen was completely absorbed his story. Her own family relationships had been toxic, but there was something about Jake's story that went beyond her own, something far darker. "Go on," she said, simply.

"He treated my mother as badly as he treated me. As far as he was concerned, he was the sergeant and we were his platoon. Dinner had to be on the table when he came home, you know the deal. Mom always stood up for him whenever I complained. She was terrified of him, but she couldn't admit it and the only way she could resolve it was to behave as if he was always right. That made it okay for her to follow his orders, to support him, and it placated him. I never saw him hit her, but I'm damn sure he did."

"Did you ever call him 'Mad Dog' to his face?"

Jake laughed bitterly. "Of course I did. He was the one who insisted that people call him Mad Dog. It wasn't a term of derision--he wore it like a badge of honour. It was pathetic." He spat the word out. "I could only understand that after he died--I was too frightened of him when I was alive. That bastard sent me off to Buxton Ridge Military Academy when I was twelve. I would have fought it harder if I'd had more guts, but he made damn sure I never developed any courage--he completely squashed any character I might ever have had. You can imagine what military school did to a twelve year old kid who was too cowed to stand up to anyone or anything. And some of the things that the older kids..." His voice trailed off, and he said quietly "I guess I don't have to paint any pictures for you."

Daria's voice trembled slightly. "Do you mean..."

"I never asked him for details, Daria."

He turned and looked straight at her, bitterness blazing in his eyes. "Do you know what he did for my fifteenth birthday?"


"He took me to a prostitute. He gave her some money and told her to 'make a man' of me."

She leaned over, took his hand and gave it a gentle squeeze of support. "What happened?"

"I couldn't...do it. Let's just say it had been a bad couple of months at Buxton. She tried everything she knew. I was disgusted--with him, with myself, with her. She eventually gave up. She took me back out to where he was waiting and gave him his money back. She said 'I might be a whore, Mad Dog, but I'm not a thief.'"

"What did he do?"

"He looked at me as if I was something that had just crawled out from under a rotten log. He didn't say anything. He didn't have to. He took me home and shipped me back to Buxton the next day. But you know, it wasn't until I was on the train to Buxton that I realised what had happened. She'd called him 'Mad Dog', but he hadn't told her is name. She knew him, Helen. The bastard had taken me to his whore."

"Do you think your mother knew?"

"I think she did. Do you want to know that most ironic part? He died six months later while he was screwing her. I only found out years later."


"When word came through that he'd died I felt free for the first time in my life. I imagined my mother dancing on his grave, but when I got home she was devastated. I couldn't understand it. He'd beaten her, he'd treated her like shit, but she was so dependant on him that she couldn't let him go. They call it battered wife syndrome these days you know, but I didn't know it then. The only thing that kept her together was pretending that she needed to look after me as if I was still a baby. In a way she did. Military school had at least given me a few basic skills but I slipped easily back into fully dependant mode when I got home. If anything, I lost ground. I never went back to Buxton Ridge after the funeral. At least Mom had the decency not to send me back there. Not that I ever told her...about the things that happened there. She just knew that I wasn't going to go back, no matter what."

"But it must have been even harder to go back to an ordinary school after that. How did you cope?"

"It was hard. Don't get me wrong--knowing that Mad Dog was rotting in his grave, and after Buxton Ridge, life in high school was tolerable. At least I wasn't...no, sorry I...the problem was that I had these intense feelings of guilt and inadequacy. I couldn't relate to the other kids so they didn't relate to me. It was hell, but I slowly came to understand that it was a hell of my own making. Well, of mine and Mad Dog's making. Finally I realised that I had to pull myself out of it or I'd be headed for the funny farm. I was really on the edge there, Helen."

"But you won?"

"Won? I've never thought of it like that. No. It's not like winning. Winning means that you can fight it and it goes away. It never goes away. But I learned to...resist it, to cope with it. Sometimes it's really hard. Sometimes it's like... like I'm drowning...like I've got to swim as hard as I can for the surface or I'll never come up."

"I can't imagine what it must be like. And the acid trip...brought it back?"

"He was standing over me. I could see his face, smell his breath..." Jake's voice trailed off again.

Helen stood up, walked over to the bed and sat down next to him, something maternal stirring in her. "I'm sorry, Jake. I feel, well, some responsibility for what happened. After all I invited you to that party. I had no idea, of course..."

He smiled at her. "It wasn't your fault, Helen. Besides, you helped me." He looked into her eyes. "I, um, you, well, you're a really cool chick. Thanks."

"You're a pretty cool guy, Jake." Before either of them realised what was happening, she'd leant over and kissed him.

Daria's eyes were moist. "So, you're saying that those rants of Dad's are his way of...fighting it? Damn." She turned to look Helen in the eye. "How did you feel--while he was telling you about it?"

"How did I feel? Exactly the way I feel now."

"Which is?"

"That your father's a hero."

"A hero...?"

"That's right. Not a day goes by in your father's life that he doesn't struggle against his past. Mad Dog wanted to be a war hero, but he was a coward and a bully. Your father overcame a childhood more dreadful than I care to think about--he overcomes it every single day--and he's never given any of us anything but unconditional love, though God knows we make it hard for him sometimes. As far as I'm concerned that makes him a hero."

Daria thought back to the trip she took with Jake to the Terry Barry Barlow convention. She'd wondered whether that had been the time to tell her Dad that he was her hero, but she'd lost the chance. She wouldn't lose it again.

"I guess I know how the story turned out, but did you break up with Eric?"

"Yes. I called and arranged for us to meet the next day."


"Helen. Good to hear from you, babe. Where have you been?"

Oh, well, you know. After the party..."

"So what happened to that guy who was freaking out? Greg said that you'd taken him home. How did you know where he lived? He didn't seem all that coherent to me."

"Um, well, yes. Actually, I took him to my home."

"Your home?"

"Yes. Well, I felt sort of responsible for him."

"What the fuck for?"

"I was the one who invited him to the party."

"You what?"

"Eric, I think we should talk."

"You said it, babe. I'm on my way."

"No, I think it might be better if we met at the coffee shop. See you there in an hour?"

"I'll be there."

Helen hung up and Lay back on her bed again, staring at the familiar patterns on the ceiling. The sound of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young drifted up from downstairs.

Stand by the stairway
You'll see something
Certain to tell you
Confusion has its cost.
Love isn't lying
It's loose in a lady who lingers
Saying she is lost
And choking on 'hello'

Had she made the right decision? What if Jake kept having those flashbacks? How would it affect him? It would be better if he stayed away from the psychotropics from now on, just in case.

She sat up and rolled herself a joint, licked the end so it wouldn't stick to her lips and lit a match, bringing it slowly up to light the twisted end of the thin doobie in her mouth. The match hovered, like Xeno's hare, never quite catching up to the tortoise, an inch from the end. She blew it out before it burnt her fingers and casually tossed it into the trash basket, followed by the joint.

"So. That's it?"

"I guess so."

"Helen, I..."

"I'm sorry Eric. It's been fun, it really has, but you know we had no future."

"Is it something I said?"

"No Eric--it's not you, it's me."

"Oh. I'll miss you, Helen."

"I'll miss you too."

Helen walked out leaving Eric looking longingly after her. She didn't turn round, but she wiped a tear from her eye as she turned the corner.

"So that was it?"

"That was it. It wasn't easy. I hated to hurt Eric. I mean I did...have feelings..."

Daria picked up the album cover and passed it to Helen. "Which one's Eric?"

Helen pointed.

The cup Daria was holding fell onto the bed spilling the remains of her coffee, now cold, on the sheet. She looked up from the photograph to her mother's face, her mouth open. Helen didn't notice. She was staring at the picture with an almost wistful expression.

"She was striking, wasn't she? She had a wonderful voice. Eric was just my pet name for her of course. Her name was Erica." She looked up to see that Daria was staring at her.

"I did warn you, didn't I."

Daria blinked, as if to clear her mind. "You...I didn't...Dammit, Mom...you didn't...need to tell me that."

"Yes, I did. Was it more than you wanted to know, Daria?"

"Yes. No. I mean...probably...I don't know. Damn."

Helen reached out and held her daughter's hand. "You wanted to understand, didn't you? You wanted to know why your father and I had changed our tune?"

"Yes, but..."

"No buts, Daria. When Quinn came out of the closet it shocked your father and me. Not because Quinn being a lesbian was shocking--how could we think that? But because it made us--me in particular I guess--realise how unbelievably hypocritical we'd...I'd been. How could I expect you to understand that unless you...understood about me?"

"So Dad knew about...Erica?"

"Of course."

"How did he take it?"

"I suppose he might have been a little jealous, but he never gave me a hard time about it. Besides, as I said, I broke up with her."

"I mean..."

"That I used to swing both ways? It was the late sixties, Daria. Free love. If it feels good do it. We weren't just making a noise about rejecting our parents' values, we really did reject them. I honestly don't think it bothered your father at all. You could ask him if you want to." She smiled. "In fact I think some men are turned on by the thought of, well, you know. "

"Um, yes. Mom--you say 'used to'..."

"I haven't looked at another man...or woman...since I met your father Daria. I told you, as far as I'm concerned he's a hero. I know I lose my temper with him from time to time but that doesn't mean anything. I lose my temper with you too, but it doesn't mean I don't love you."

"So Quinn's, um, change of heart didn't come as a complete surprise?"

"Actually, it did. You're may not like this, Daria, but we'd actually assumed that you..." There was the faintest hint of a smirk on Helen's face.


"Think about it, Daria. Until Tom arrived you'd never shown any interest in the opposite sex, you went out of your way to reject any hint of femininity, you and Jane were always together. And that intense jealousy when Jane started dating Tom--well, we assumed that you were jealous of Tom--that he was taking Jane away from you."

Daria blushed. "Um, in a sense that was true. It wasn't jealousy in the sense that you mean it, but I was jealous because he was taking Jane away. She's not just my best friend, she's my only friend." She paused, thinking, then continued as realisation dawned. "That is, she was my only friend. It seems I've gained a few recently." A surprised look appeared on Daria's face. "One I wouldn't have thought of as a friend in a million years. Jane's special though. I'll never have another friend like her."

"I'm pleased that...none of this...has affected your friendship with Jane. And it doesn't bother you that your father and I thought you were gay?"

She chuckled. "I think it would have bothered me a while ago. Not any more. I don't have any doubts about my, er, preferences now, not that I ever did. I never mentioned it, but I did have a crush on a boy for over a year. Besides, I think a lot of people probably assumed the same thing. Everyone was surprised when I started dating Tom. At first I thought it was just that they didn't think that anyone would be interested in me, but maybe it was because they assumed I was dating Jane." She smiled. "Actually, it's kind of funny when you think about it."

"I suppose so." Helen sighed. "Who you sleep with doesn't determine your sexuality you know. I'm sorry Daria."

Daria could see real regret in her mother's eyes. "There's nothing to be sorry about Mom."

"There is for me, Dear. How could I get it so wrong about you both. I mean Quinn, with her fashion obsession and her serial dating... We never thought for a moment that she might have inherited my, er, leanings but in retrospect the signs were all there. If I'd been in the least bit sensitive or observant I would have noticed."

Daria looked her mother in the eye. "Mom, I've been beating myself up for the last month because of how wrong I've been about people. Now you're beating yourself up for exactly the same reason?"

"Perhaps you're right. We should be a little easier on ourselves.".

"Perhaps we should. Anyway, would it have made any difference if you'd worked Quinn out earlier?"

Helen looked thoughtful. "No. No, I suppose not. It could have been worse, particularly if Quinn hadn't worked it out herself. Just how long had Quinn known, Daria?"

"Not long. It's really something you should discuss with her."

"Yes. You're right of course. Perhaps it might have made your father and me think a little earlier about all this, but I don't really know." She looked straight at Daria. "The important thing is that we've thought about it now." Standing up, she said "It's late, Daria. You should be asleep. We can talk more about it tomorrow if you want."

Looking down at the coffee stain Daria said "I'll need to change the sheets."

"Okay--I'll help you. But, um, Daria..."


"Trent? Jane's brother Trent?"

"Uh huh."

They smiled at each other, enjoying the unfamiliar closeness that allowed them to share the unspoken irony.

"Mom, would you mind if I told Quinn about Erica?"

Helen thought for a minute. "No. In a way it's appropriate. You've been the catalyst in these events so far and there's no reason why you shouldn't keep going. You seem to be doing a pretty good job."

Daria stood up and took the wet sheet off the bed. "I'm sorry you had to give up writing Mom."

"Who said I'd given up?"

"You mean Eric was a girl?" There was nothing more complicated than surprise in Quinn's voice.

"Uh huh. Erica." Daria handed Quinn the record cover and pointed to the blond haired hippie with the suede coyboy jacket, love beads and the red bandana.

"Oh." She spoke it quietly, absorbing it, rolling it round in her mind, letting the implications sink in. Daria gave her time.

"It makes sense in a way. I don't know if these things are hereditary, but maybe..." Quinn was thinking out loud. "It certainly explains why she didn't go ballistic." She smiled, looking at the picture. "You know, Mom had good taste. If you put Erica in a decent outfit instead of that...stuff...I could go for her myself."

"Eew, Quinn!"

"Joking, Daria, joking." In fact, she wasn't.

"You're not as fazed by this as I thought you might be."

Quinn looked surprised. "Fazed? What do you mean Daria? Shocked that Mom was--is, I guess--ambisextrous? Why should I be shocked? I'm a lesbian, and I'm not shocked by it! Are you?" There was a touch of anger in her voice.

"No. Not now. But I was."

"Oh. Yeah. Sorry. I guess I've had more time to get used to it than you have. And I guess I was little shocked first. I don't feel shocked about Mom though. Surprised, sure, but...kind of...pleased. Validated perhaps."

Daria smiled. "It's a good thing that she, um, 'swings both ways' was the way she put it. Otherwise we wouldn't be here to talk about it."

"Hmm. I don't think I swing both ways."

"Well, I guess that puts an end to my little vision of you with a brood of house apes."

Quinn smirked. "There's always artificial insemination. I'm sure that Trent would be willing to..."

"Oh God. I'll never use a turkey baster again." Seeing the look on Quinn's face, she quickly added "For basting turkeys I mean."Quinn's eyes opened even wider. "I mean for anything. I mean I don't use turkey basters...damn!"

Quinn grinned. Got you, Daria. "Anyway, it confirms a decision that I've been trying to make. I'm going public."

"Whoa. Are you sure, Quinn? Have you talked it over with Jane?"

"Not yet. I will, but my mind's made up."


To be continued though...

Lots of thanks: Renfield, C. L. Basso, David Falkayn, RedlegRick, MMan, Kara Wild, Mistress Theazara.

I don't usually go in for endnotes, but I'll make an exception this time. I've always been fascinated about how two such unlikely people ended up together, and this fic is just one of many way's it might have happened. Jake and Helen's story is only part of this fic--in the context of the Writes of Passage series, Helen's revelations are more important.

The title isn't a spelling error.

Disclaimer: All characters are copyright MTV.

Quirks: I'm an Australian, so I've used Aussie English spellings and grammar conventions. I may also have inadvertently used some Aussie idioms though I've tried to keep in culture. There are references to other fanfics in this. I hope their authors will take them for what they are -- sincere flattery.

Liked it? Hated it? Tell me: bfderef@yahoo.com.au