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. 2009.
This is a post-Falling into College story set after Daria's first semester of graduate school at Williamstown University.
Sitting on a window sill, Bump looked through a window of the Williamstown, Virginia apartment at the world outside. The small, shared lawn of the duplex was dusted with snow, and she felt alone. It had been four months since her humans had moved here, and while she appreciated their devotion, she missed the Chosen One's friends.
The Chosen One and her mate, Searcher in Earth, were away much more than when they had lived in their last apartment. Because they were away so often, Bump was left alone in the apartment, with only a couple of windows to look through, and no other cats in sight.
Worse, the apartment still had the lingering odor of the previous tenant's dog. But, in the last week, things had improved. The humans were home more often -, though they were distracted, often holding long conversations with their small talk boxes.
Her sensitive ears picked up familiar voices and she watched the sidewalk; moments later, her humans came into view. Searcher in Earth was dragging some large, green object, and the Chosen one carried two bags.
Bump leapt down and ran to the door to await them. Outside, she heard the Chosen One say, "I can't believe I let you talk me into this. We had agreed to skip things to save a little money."
"Come on, Daria," Searcher in Earth said. "We didn't spend that much. The tree was only five bucks since it's Christmas Eve - and they guy wanted to sell the last of his inventory before shipping it off for mulch after tomorrow."
"Yes, dear," she said.
"And we got some good deals at the thrift store for decorations," Searcher in Earth continued. "Never underestimate the good stuff people will get rid of to buy 'better' stuff."
The conversation meant little to Bump; her slender form tensed as she crouched, preparing to sprint out of the door when it opened.
"Dammit," Daria said as Bump ran by her legs and out onto the snow-covered lawn.
Michael said, "What?"
"Bump got out."
"That's odd," he said.
Daria hurried in and stepped to the side, "Hurry."
"Oh, okay," he said, rushing through the door carrying the tree.
The Chosen One set the bags down and went back outside to find Bump racing around the yard like a kitten. "What are you doing?" she asked the cat.
"Breow meor marow." Getting out and stretching.
Bump ran some more, bounced off the perimeter fence and then ran over to the Chosen One before stopping. "Reowor meo wroaw." Glad you're home.
The Chosen One picked Bump up and held the cat close. "You need to be careful. The drivers around here are almost as crazy as the ones in Boston. Now, let's get out of this cold weather."
Bump nuzzled against the Chosen One's neck and purred.
Searcher in Earth was crouched under the tree, one hand holding the trunk and the other fiddling with the anchor bolts on the stand. "How does it look now?" he said.
"Just a bit more," the Chosen One said.
Searcher in Earth nudged the tree a little more and said, "How's that?"
"Finally," he said, tightening the anchors.
Curious, Bump sniffed around. The pine scent was wonderful to her;a reminder of days long gone.
The Chosen One knelt and scratched Bump's head. "I bet that smells a lot better than the fake tree you saw at Mom and Dad's when you were a kitten."
At first hesitant, Bump sniffed the tree once more before jumping up onto the trunk. Feeling her claws sink in and the roughness of the bark on her paws brought back more memories:
Memories of chasing and being chased by her brother and sister through the trees and shrubs on the grounds of Boston Fine Arts College.
"Bump!" Michael said.
"What did you expect her to do, ignore it?" Daria said.
"I suppose not. Why don't we take a break while she checks the tree out? Hot chocolate?"
"Sounds good," Daria said, rising and going to their compact stereo. "Music?"
Bump climbed around the tree and thoroughly investigated every limb while her humans enjoyed their drinks and watched. However, Bump's enjoyment waned as she kept remembering her lost family. By the time the humans had finished their drinks, Bump had abandoned the tree and gone to her favorite window spot to sit and think.
Michael said, "It looks like she's gotten it out of her system."
"For now," Daria said. "But we can get the decorations up before she decides to help again."
Late in the evening, bright lights glowed on the tree, and shiny spheres hung from its branches. Below the tree were colorful boxes with tempting ribbons and bows. Tempting, the cat thought in passing, but the memories still filled Bump's mind.
The Chosen One came to Bump, and softly stroked the fur on her back. "You've been quiet all night. Are you feeling okay?"
"Merow." Fine, was her unconvincing response.
"I picked up salmon and tuna for you tomorrow."
The Chosen One yawned. "I hope you feel better in the morning."
"Good night." The Chosen one turned off the lights in the room.
Before going back to her bed, she stopped at the tree and reached for the light cord. She then smiled and said, "Oh, why not?" before rising and going to bed, leaving the tree lights on.
After several minutes, the rustle and whispered voices of the humans faded and was replaced by Searcher in Earth's light snore. In a jump that looked more like a sinuous, controlled fall, Bump left the window and crossed the room to the tree. She sniffed around the packages and rubbed them a bit. The fragrance of pine under the tree pushed away the lingering odor of dog.
Bump curled up between two presents and let the scent wash over her.
She dreamt of kittens playing among the branches…
When they came out in the morning, Michael nudged Daria as he looked into the living room. "It looks like we picked up an extra present overnight."
Daria saw her cat, and where she had fallen asleep. "She decided to give us the best thing she could - herself."
"Never argue with cat logic."
Going to the tree, Daria said, "Of course not. It's the superior form of logic, if only we mere humans could understand."
Gentle, Daria picked Bump up and cradled her in her arms. "Merry Christmas."
Bump awoke to the pleasant feel of the Chosen One's embrace, and began to purr. Searcher in Earth was also there and started to scratch the spot behind her ear that felt so good.
The Chosen One said, "Thank you for the gift, Bump."
Bump purred more, and nuzzled the Chosen One under the chin. After a night of joyous memories of her first family, it felt good to make memories with her second.
Thanks to Brother Grimace for beta reading.