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. 2005.
This is the Fortieth story in the Falling into College series.
I Hope You Didn't Have Plans
"Mmm." Daria Morgendorffer smiled as she cuddled against Michael Fulton's bare back, one arm looping over to rest a hand just over his heart. She lightly kissed his neck and whispered, "Thanks for finding this place. I don't want spring break to end…"
"In Boston, the current conditions are clear and breezy with the temperature at thirty-six degrees. Now, back to Morning Edition," a voice blared from the clock-radio on the stand near her bed.
"Damn," she sadly said into the pillow she held instead of the one she loved. The five days and nights the two had spent at a bed and breakfast cabin in the New Hampshire hills had been idyllic. "Spring break did end."
Daria reached for her glasses next to the clock and put them on. Next, she turned off the alarm and sat up in bed. The cool air raised goose bumps on her arms as the blanket fell away, revealing a blue satin nightgown. Yawning, Daria swung her legs over the edge and dropped her feet into waiting slippers. After two attempts, she got to her feet and went to the computer desk to start up the system. Rubbing her arms to warm them, the auburn-haired woman crossed the room to her door and opened it.
The smell of fried bacon and coffee helped to open her eyes. Daria went to the edge of the apartment's main room and said toward the kitchen, "How do you keep doing this? I'm barely awake and you've already made your breakfast."
A smiling face under dark blond hair leaned out through the open kitchen door. Karen Myerson said, "Lifelong habit. Besides, I'd starve in the morning if I waited for you or Jane to wake up and make it. And you two are not rooking me into making it every day." She waved a spatula at Daria. "I'm still trying to figure out how you can boot up your computer before you even make it to the bathroom in the morning."
"Speaking of the bathroom, that, um, garment isn't still drying in there, is it?"
Karen laughed and said, "Don't worry; I put it away."
"I can't believe you bought that."
"It was more of a dare from Jane…but Derek certainly enjoyed seeing it."
"Hey, I noticed you've stopped wearing Mark Twain night shirts."
Daria lightly blushed. "Guilty." She rubbed her hand over the soft fabric. "I have gotten attached to these."
"I wonder if you'll start wearing a teddy when the temperature warms up."
"Don't push your luck." Daria stepped back toward the bathroom. "As much as I'm enjoying this conversation, there are other things demanding my attention."
Karen laughed more. "Yeah, go get that rat's nest combed out."
When Daria opened the door to leave the bathroom, Jane Lane was leaning against the wall next to it, lightly snoring.
She poked Jane and said, "Come on, road kill. Wake up."
Jane barely opened one eye. "Kill you. Bury you in bridesmaid's dress."
"That's my line."
"I'm too tired to make up my own."
Daria stepped into the hall and gently directed Jane into the bathroom. "It's all yours."
After getting dressed for the day, Daria went back out to the kitchen as Karen was cleaning up and putting her breakfast dishes in the washer. Karen slid the rack inside and closed the door. "Funny."
Daria poured a cup of coffee and asked, "What's funny?"
"How much we've changed in the last year since we both first 'slept' with our boyfriends."
Daria warmly thought of that night. "Jane's indoor beach birthday party at the BFAC dorm." Unable to travel back to Raft because of a winter storm, she and Michael had slept on lounge chairs in Jane's room. Karen and her boyfriend had a similar arrangement in an adjacent dorm room. "Those lounge chairs were not the most comfortable things to sleep on."
Karen said, "And all we did was sleep." She stood and leaned against the counter. "But also…waking up next to Derek, I liked it."
Waking up clasping Michael's hand to her breast had created an unexpected bond and was a memory Daria treasured. "I have to admit, I enjoyed waking next to Michael."
"Now, we're sleeping with them in every sense of the word."
Daria dumped a package of instant oatmeal into a bowl. "There was a time when I almost couldn't imagine a boy kissing me."
Karen began preparing sandwiches for her lunch. "And I didn't think anyone could stand me, long term. I guess we got lucky."
"I guess we did." Daria smiled. "And Jane's been lucky to hook up with Mack. Speaking of Jane, it's her birthday tomorrow. Between all that's happened lately, we haven't had a chance to plan anything."
"Why don't we surprise her tomorrow night? We can call CC and Nell and that crew and invite them over."
"Make sure we warn Mrs. Lyndon downstairs."
"Sounds like a plan."
"Cake?" Daria asked.
Karen shrugged. "I don't have time to bake one. Sounds like Deli time. You know how I can smell after work; you better pick it up."
"Yeah. Are you sure working with the zoo's vet was a step up and not in it?"
"I'm sure. I'd rather step in it from time to time than shovel it."
Michael stood in front of his open closet. A small box was in his hand and he stood with eyes closed and a slender smile on his face. A loud bump against the room door and a crash startled him out of his thoughts. He pushed the small box to the back of his closet shelf and closed the door just as the room door opened. Staggering, his roommate, Todd Baker, came in.
The tall, black man's eyes were hidden behind dark sunglasses and his clothes looked like they'd been slept in. The corner of a beach towel stuck out from his improperly closed luggage. The burned out stump of a cigar hung from his mouth as he moved to his bed. "Hey, dude," Todd mumbled moments before dropping the luggage and falling face first onto the bed.
Michael raised an eyebrow and said, "It's about time you got back. Classes start today."
"They'll just have to do without me."
"So how was Florida?"
"Too much sun, too much booze, too much music and too many women. A man can only take so much."
"It's a rough job, but somebody's got to do it."
"Yeah. How was your trip?"
"Daria and I had a good time."
"I bet you did. Anyway, I'm sleeping in today. Don't wake me until tomorrow morning." Todd almost immediately started snoring.
Michael gingerly reached down and picked up the cigar where it lay on the pillow edge. "We don't need you burning down the room."
Balancing a tray holding two burritos and drinks, plus a bowl of nachos with salsa, Michael worked through the crowd at Big Bean Burrito, one of the eateries just off the Raft campus.
"Glad you found us some seats," He said as he placed the tray down in front of Daria, who was reading the college newspaper, The Mast. "Any real news in the 'Rag Stand?'" he asked, referring to the paper's less than flattering nickname.
"The Dean of Liberal Studies suddenly resigned during spring break to take care of his chronically ill wife. An interim dean should be named today."
"Somebody different to sign off on registration overrides." Michael started to bite into his lunch. Just before, he stopped and said, "Kind of cool that he'd do that for his wife, though."
"I knew there was a reason I liked you." Daria leaned across the table and kissed him.
"Are you testing me?"
Daria tried to look almost innocent while she pulled a tape recorder from her pocket. "No…but you just won me ten bucks from someone in World Lit Two class. I'll buy the next pizza."
"Should I be flattered that you have such faith in me?"
"I'm flattered to be with someone who thinks like that."
After lunch, Daria had barely settled down at her workstation at the Raft University Press when the Editor in Chief, Dr. Killarny, entered with a large, balding man sporting a thin mustache.
Dr. Killarny said, "Everyone, your attention please."
The room quieted as the staff turned and/or stood in their cubicles to see them.
Dr. Killarny continued, "As most of you know, the Dean of Liberal Studies resigned last week. I have been named as the Interim Dean until a candidate search can be completed."
There was mixed clapping and yelling from the staff.
He motioned for silence. "I have grown to know and respect all of you. It has been a pleasure to work with everyone. Regrettably, my acceptance of the Interim Dean position means I cannot continue my duties here."
Silence filled the room, disturbed by some low, sad murmurs.
"Dr. Findlay will be my successor, starting tomorrow. Dr. Findlay has been with Raft for twenty-six years and has been editor for two major professional journals. Please give him a warm welcome."
The staff clapped, though some hesitancy was noticeable, particularly among some of the older employees.
Dr. Findlay stepped forward. "It will be a pleasure to continue my good colleague's work. I'm looking forward to a long and successful term as Editor-in-Chief."
Nearing five-thirty the next day, Daria saved the file she was proofreading and started to shut down her computer. Dr. Findlay stopped at her cubicle and said, "I hope you didn't have any plans tonight. We're a little short-handed and I need you to work until eight so we don't fall behind."
"I wouldn't mind a few extra hours, but I can't tonight. It's my roommate's birthday."
"I wasn't asking if you could work late tonight. I was telling you that your work hours are until eight o'clock."
"Dr. Findlay, I was supposed to pick up her cake on the way home."
"You can still do that."
"Young lady, don't argue."
Daria's shoulders drooped. "Yes, Dr. Findlay."
After he left the area, Daria called Michael's dorm room with her cell phone.
"Hey," Todd answered.
"Hi, Todd. Can you leave a message for Michael?"
"I have to work late tonight. Please ask him to pick up Jane's cake at Dottie's Deli and take it to my place. It'll be after eight-thirty before I get home."
"Ow, girl. What's going on?"
"We're short today and the new boss looks like he wants to make a good impression by not falling behind schedule."
"New bosses usually suck. Trying to make a name for themselves."
"Thanks for taking the message, Todd."
As soon as Daria closed the phone, Dr. Findlay said, "In the future, I would appreciate it if you limited your personal calls to break times."
When she got home, a single slice of cake remained on the table, along with half a dozen empty 2-liter soda bottles and a bowl containing a thin layer of chip crumbs. Seated around Jane in the living room were Michael, Karen, Derek, and two of Jane's friends from Boston Fine Arts College. CC's blue-dyed hair was cut shorter than the last time Daria had seen her, and Nell's arm crutches were painted high-gloss black with gold pinstripes.
Daria waved and said, "Sorry I'm late."
Jane said, "Michael said you had to work overtime. That's never happened before."
"My old boss was tapped as the temporary dean. I think the new guy wants to make a good impression. I'm sorry again, Jane."
"Hey, you couldn't help it. At least you got your other half to pick up the cake."
Michael had just reached Daria as Jane said the last. Daria hugged him and said, "Thanks."
"Any time. You sound tired."
"I just put in a six and a half hour day on top of a full day of class. I'm a bit tired, and I haven't had any chance to study tonight."
Karen said, "Hey, at least kill the cake, grab a soda and join us for a few minutes."
Daria released Michael. "I can do that."
She filled a cup from the remaining soda bottle and grabbed the entire cardboard cake tray on her way to the living room. She sat cross-legged on the floor and started to aggressively consume the cake. "Damn, I didn't even have a chance to eat dinner."
CC asked, "What was the big deal? It wasn't like you had a tour bus full of businessmen from some convention show up or something."
"I'm sure that's a sight to see," Jane said with a smirk.
"Hey, lots of fresh tippers at once, and usually trying to one-up each other on how much money they can afford to blow. The boss usually tries to get as many girls out as he can to get their money before they go somewhere else."
Daria shook her head and felt a smile come forth. "No, nothing like that. Like I said, I think my new boss is trying to make a good impression. Although, I can't see how we'd be so far behind with only a couple of people out that he'd be worried."
Again? Daria gripped the computer mouse tightly in frustration. She sighed and said, "At least that'll give me time to finish this manuscript and not have to worry about it when I come in Monday."
Dr. Findlay slapped her back. "Now, that's the spirit I like to hear."
"Um, thanks," she half-heartedly replied.
After her boss walked away, Daria looked at the computer clock. "I get a break in half an hour, guess I'll call Michael then and tell him I'm working late. I hope he's not too disappointed."
Despite the cool weather the next morning, Jane wiped sweat from her face with a sweatshirt sleeve as she rested on the apartment's landing. She looked down at her stopwatch, still set at the time she'd completed her run. "Not bad. At least I won't embarrass myself next month."
She turned to go inside and collided with the door when if failed to open. She tried the doorknob. "Locked?" She fished her key from her running pack and opened the door. The apartment was dark and silent. "Oh, Michael must've stopped by to pick her up today."
Jane went to the bathroom and started running water in the tub. "Hate having the hot water heater in the basement." She stepped out and heard a rustle from Daria's room.
Curious, she peeked in and saw Daria just crawling out of bed. Jane said, "Wow, Morgendorffer. I've been up and ran a half marathon before you're awake? Anything wrong?"
Daria shook her head to try to clear the fog. "Just tired after all the extra hours I put in at work this week on top of trying to get that term paper finished for World Lit."
"What is it with that new boss of yours? He had you working late what - three out of four days?"
"I don't know, but he's not making himself well-liked. Rumor has it a couple of the regular staff have applied for transfers to other departments. One student's already quit."
"Sounds like it might be time to start looking for something new."
"I could, maybe. I don't know. Otherwise, I still like the job. I get to read some fascinating books."
"And some pretentious crap…I've heard your complaints."
"Okay, I have to wade through the bottom of the academic food chain at times, but the good stuff makes up for it."
"So what are you going to do?"
"I'm hoping he's just playing alpha male trying to establish his dominance. Then, once he feels secure, things will settle down again."
The microwave oven beeped at Daria and she pulled out her reheated dinner the next Monday evening. "Smells good." She took the plate to the table and sat down. "Jane, Karen, can I ask a favor?"
"Sure," Karen said, lying on the sofa.
Jane said from her computer, "I owe you a couple."
"I found out today that I'm scheduled to work until eight or nine every night this week. Can I cook both dinners this weekend and have you two cover my days this week?"
Rolling over to look over the sofa back, Karen said, "I had Saturday, so it's a deal."
"Unless you want an extra helping of my 'gormet' cooking," Jane said, intentionally mispronouncing gourmet. "I'm game."
"With all your running lately, also a bit gamey."
Jane stuck her head out of the door and smiled. "Okay, some of the old sarcasm's still there. I won't start looking for pods."
Working at his computer, Todd asked Michael, "Hey man, what's been up with you lately? It's Thursday and you haven't been out with Daria since Sunday. I don't think I've seen you go this long without seeing her."
Michael looked up from the Introduction to Art History textbook he was studying. "She was scheduled to work late all week. We still manage to have lunch together."
"Ah-ha. I knew you couldn't go cold turkey this long."
"Why would I want to?"
"Okay, ya got me there. You must be getting antsy, still."
"Yeah. I was getting spoiled."
"Like that's a bad thing?"
"Hmm. No, not really. But it does make not seeing her harder."
"Any idea of how long these extra hours are gonna last for her?"
Michael shook his head. "No. But we're hoping not long."
"Thanks for dinner, Daria," Jane called as she opened the door. "Hoping I can get this new dance club to hire Mystik Spiral for a gig or two and want to check it out."
Sitting at the table, Daria said, "You're just looking for an excuse to check it out anyway."
"Okay, but if I can get a second use out of it…"
Beside Daria, Michael said, "And get your brother to visit."
"Yeah, and you never call your sister either, I bet."
"No more than Daria calls hers."
Jane laughed and stepped out. "Not touching that one. Have fun."
Daria and Michael both said, "Bye," as Jane closed the door.
She leaned against him and kissed his shoulder, "Thanks for grabbing some movies."
He slid his chair over and softly put his arm around her. "I've missed you."
"I've missed you."
"So, what are you up to tonight? Swiss art film or low-budget slasher flick?"
"Kill 'em all."
"Slasher it is."
He popped the videotape into the VCR and started the playback. Once he'd sat on the sofa, Daria curled beside him and reached around his chest.
As the movie credits started, she said, "I hope you're not disappointed, but it looks like I'll have to work extra next week, too."
He sighed, "More?"
"I'm sorry. I know it's a pain and I'm tempted to quit. But, I like the job, even if the boss is an ass at times."
"From what you've said, all of the time."
"Most." Daria yawned. "Sorry."
"And I think he forgets that you're a student with the unthinkable habit of studying."
"We should get past this rush soon and I'll go back to normal hours."
"Is it worth it? You're running yourself pretty hard."
"I still enjoy most of what I'm proofreading. I know this schedule isn't the easiest thing to deal with. I hope you understand."
"Not really. But until I do, I'll take your word for it."
"Welcome." Michael pointed to the screen. "Ooh. They're not wasting any time, that's already one quart of fake blood."
"Joe-Bob says check it out."
"I can't believe Karen got us hooked on that."
Daria and Michael faced each other over a booth table at the Buffet Raft. Daria squeezed his hand and said, "Things have been hectic, but I've gotten to where they don't seem so bad. Thanks for being here."
He smiled and squeezed her hand in return. "Since I love you, you're worth it."
"I love you." Daria checked her watch and frowned before polishing off her lunch. Hurried, she stood up, saying, "I have to get going." She leaned down and kissed Michael. "See you tomorrow."
"Yeah, tomorrow," He said as she disengaged and started out of the restaurant. Under his breath Michael added, "I wish it was tonight."
Walking with deliberate purpose, Daria was soon gone, leaving him along at the booth. Seeing a group of students hovering near the booth, Michael sighed, picked up the paper trash from the table and piled it on a tray. He'd barely moved away before they had descended upon the open booth like a flock of vultures. After stopping by a trash can to empty the tray and place it on top, Michael stepped out to the busy sidewalk.
Michael checked his watch. "Time for me to get ready for work, too."
At the signal, he crossed the street to campus and walked along the edge of the Quad to his dorm, Milton Hall. Once in his room, Michael changed into a Park Service uniform and got ready for the afternoon. A check of his alarm clock showed he had a few minutes before he had to leave.
On his desk was a framed photo of Daria. It was a semi-candid shot taken by Jane that showed Daria peacefully relaxed. "I'm worried about you," he told the image and gently picked it up. "And I miss the time we spend together."
The editorial office's windows darkened to black as the sun faded. Inside, Daria and several other student employees concentrated on their work. She was drawn into the manuscript on her monitor. Well written and concise, it wasn't simply a recycled dissertation; it was a complete revision that made the subject matter presentable and understandable to a wide audience. It was wonderful to read and she was enjoying it.
Daria jumped when she heard Dr. Findlay say, "I like how you concentrate on your work."
Recovering, she muttered, "Oh, um, thanks."
He stood behind her chair. "It's great to see such enthusiasm. Keep it up." He gave her a brief grin and walked to the next cubicle.
I hate when he does that. She looked back to the computer screen, trying to find her place. Dammit, it's a lot easier to "keep it up" when you don't come around breaking it. She looked at the computer clock. Just another hour or so.
Several minutes later, her blonde officemate leaned back and whispered, "If I didn't need the money, I'd be out of here so fast…"
Daria whispered back, "Shelly, if I didn't want the experience, I'd be right behind you."
Shelly yawned. "At least you seem to be adapting better than most of us."
"I concentrate on what I enjoy about the work and ignore the parts I don't. Though I must admit, lately, I've really had to concentrate on the parts I like…"
"And here I thought you were just brownnosing."
"Not a chance."
"That's a relief. So, you concentrate on the good stuff, eh?"
"It's helped to get me through a lot of things before. Like high school."
"I can't knock it if it works for you. Where'd you learn?"
"I can't really say. It's almost like I've always been able to."
Standing just inside the office door, Daria listened to her cell phone's voicemail. Quinn's voice said, "Hey Daria," followed by a giggle. "Must be on a date with Michael. Give me a call when you can. Bye."
Daria closed out the voicemail and entered the speed-dial for her sister's phone. After several rings, Quinn answered, "Hello."
"Hi, Quinn. Sorry I missed your call. The phone was turned off."
"I hope you had fun," Quinn said.
"I was working late," Daria said as she left the building and walked to the parking lot along a well-lit path, "and my new boss doesn't like to hear cell phones going off."
"A bit of an inconvenience, but not too bad."
"Daria, it has to be almost nine your time. Isn't your first class at like, eight in the morning?"
"Yeah, Quinn. It's been a long day, but it's not a problem."
"Gawd, you almost sounded like Mom there."
"Did you want me to call back for insults?"
"Oh, no Daria. I just hadn't heard from you lately and was worried."
"Nothing to worry about; I've just been extra busy with work."
"I should've called. I'm sorry."
"But you'll do better, right?"
Quinn was silent for a couple seconds. "Uh, okay. I'll hold you to that."
"How are you doing?"
"Good. We finished spring break here last weekend. Daria, the California beaches are so nice. And I had so much fun."
"And the attention you got in your new swimsuit didn't enter into it."
"Well…maybe a little. Hey, I got Fran to come out to the beach with me, too. It's the first time she'd been to one since her accident. She was nervous at first, but seemed to enjoy it."
"You've really taken her under your wing, haven't you?"
"She's become my closest friend."
"So much that you talked her into pledging to your sorority."
"That's right. We're planning on being roommates at the chapter house next year."
"I'm glad you have found a good friend like that." Daria neared her black sedan. "Here's my car and I don't want to talk while driving. I promise to call you later, okay?"
Daria closed the phone and slipped it into her jacket pocket. "Don't have time during the week, but I'll call her this weekend."
It took only a few moments for Daria to unlock her car, get in and lock the door back. Raft wasn't known for a lot of crime, but Daria knew it was prudent to minimize being alone at night. After she was on the road, Daria started talking to herself. "Let's see, about twenty or twenty five minutes to get home. Grab a quick bite and I should be able to get in a couple hours of studying before midnight."
Seated on her bed in a Pepperhill dormitory, Quinn closed her phone and turned to a small, dark-haired girl seated on the matching bed. Quinn said, "That was very creepy."
Fran asked, "What was creepy?"
"A couple times there…she really sounded like Mom."
Late Saturday morning, Karen was reading the latest email from her brother and laughing. "Terry, you and a digital camera are a dangerous combination. You've already sent at least thirty or forty pictures of Wayne and he isn't even a month old."
The doorbell rang and she went to the door. After checking the peephole, Karen opened it and said, "Good morning, Michael. What's all that?"
He had a bed table folded under one arm, carried two foil-covered styrofoam plates in his hands and had a small thermos hanging from a finger. "Hey, Karen. Breakfast for Daria."
Concerned, Karen said, "Please tell me you didn't cook it."
Michael stepped in and Karen closed the door behind him. He said, "Are you kidding? I don't want to poison her. I got some takeout from Hungry Colonist."
"I wanted to do something to relax her after a long week."
"You're not gonna try to talk about her hours, are you?"
He shook his head. "I know better than to go up against her stubborn streak."
"You can tell she's her mother's daughter."
"Daria would kill if she heard you say that."
"I'm hoping it will remain in confidence."
"I won't say a word."
"Meaning, you have something to hold over me."
"And I won't forget it."
He softly laughed and placed the items on the dining table. "This way, I get to spend a little more time with her that I haven't had during the week."
"You're spoiled. You know that, don't you?"
Michael nodded. "Completely. Can I grab some real dishes and heat this up?"
"Are you safe to do that?"
"I can handle a microwave oven."
"You're the one who told us about the 'ramen noodles incident.' I'm still supervising."
As Michael passed her, carrying the tray of reheated food, Karen said, "Don't forget that I'm still going to be here until Jane returns from running and gets ready to go. So keep it down."
Seeing Michael's blush, she teased, "I'll tell Daria you're cute when you do that."
He ignored the comment as much as possible and went down the hall to Daria's room, where Michael placed the tray on the floor. Quietly, he opened the door and looked inside. Semi-fetal, Daria faced the door with her head on a pillow held in her arms. In the hollow between her arms and bent knees, Daria's black cat Bump slumbered, the feline's head resting against the young woman.
Still quiet, he moved the table near the bed and went back to close the door. Bump stirred and opened one eye a slit to watch him. Michael held a finger to his lips and gave the cat a whispered, "Shh."
Warily, Bump continued to watch Michael as he kissed along Daria's jaw and up toward her ear. One of his hands reached around her and Michael drew his fingertips along Daria's back as he kissed her earlobe. She inhaled, leaned her head back and smiled. Daria opened her eyes and said, "Hi," before kissing him.
Bump scolded them with a sharp meow, stood, and stretched by strongly arching her back. Daria moved a hand over to scratch her head. A loud purr greeted the attention.
Michael said, "I think somebody's jealous."
"She's been a little neglected lately. Like somebody else I know."
"I've missed you."
Daria sat up and put on her glasses. "Trust me, you're much better company than Dr. Findlay."
Bump meowed again and planted herself on Daria's lap.
"I should hope." Michael stepped aside and lifted the table. "Breakfast?"
That produced one of the deeply warm smiles Michael cherished. "There is a reason I love you."
When she was done with breakfast, Michael placed the tray on the floor and sat down next to Daria, wrapping his arms around her. She held his arms and leaned back, resting her head on his shoulder.
"Comfortable?" He asked.
Following a kiss to her forehead, Michael said, "You're welcome to stay like this as long as you want."
Daria brought his hand up and kissed it. "How about all day?"
"Only if you insist."
She shuddered when the cell phone rang. "Dammit."
Michael looked at it, too. "We could ignore it."
Daria softly pulled his arms open. "If I deal with it now, maybe they'll go away for the rest of the day."
"If they know what's good for them." She opened the phone and answered, "Hello?"
"Hi," Quinn responded.
"Hey, Quinn. What's up?"
"Well…you said you'd call me."
"Quinn, I've been busy."
"That's what you said Wednesday."
"Well, are you busy now?"
Daria smirked. "I'm in bed with Michael. We just finished…"
"Ewwww. Daria, I don't want any details."
"So I have a couple minutes."
"Um…Daria, tell me what you think. I might've found what I'm looking for as a kind of minor…but it sounds really weird."
"Well…you know how I want to try work with people with scars and stuff so others don't freak out."
"The closest I could find was Cinematic Makeup."
"Actually, that makes sense. You will learn a lot of specialist makeup techniques. I'm sure you can also get some good background on prosthetics. Good choice."
"Thanks. I was worried after getting some really weird looks from my faculty advisor."
"I told you before, an advisor's like a diaper. All over your ass and usually full of shit."
Quinn laughed. "Well, that's the big news here. Besides work, what's up in Boston?"
"That's about it."
"And class, and studying."
"Ugh! Work and school? Has Michael at least taken you some place interesting?"
"Work and school have taken up a lot more of my time lately. We've mostly seen each other over lunch, but we're hoping to try to get out some today."
"Stop that. You're starting to sound like Mom."
"What do you mean?" Daria said with some irritation.
"Work, that's all you seem to be doing. Listening to you is like listening to Mom all those years."
"I admit I have been working more lately." She smiled at Michael and kissed him. "Though I have had some diversion."
Quinn heard the kiss. "Daria, that's even spookier. Work and sex. Hearing that…brr."
Daria gritted her teeth. "Quinn."
"It's just…you're supposed to be out living more. You know, parties and stuff. I mean, I know you have Michael, but there's supposed to be more…"
Daria snapped, "What's your problem!?"
Michael jumped at the sudden change in her voice.
Quinn stammered, "W-what?"
"What is your problem? Dammit!"
"Daria…I was just…worried you weren't having fun."
"Quinn, I don't have to follow your concept of fun! I don't have to go to parties! I'm doing what I want to do in college. I'm immersed in learning. I even get to read and learn at work. Quinn, these people are paying me to do what I like to do! Yeah, I've had to work extra and the new boss is a jerk. It's still worth it!" Daria reached over and clasped Michael's hand. "And I have somebody sweet enough to bring me breakfast this morning. I'm sure you're happy with your life. Great! Don't try to tell me how to be happy in mine!"
"Daria, I thought…"
Daria registered the surprise on Michael's face and started to calm down. She said into the phone, "You thought that you were helping."
Contrite, Quinn said, "Um, yeah. I'm sorry, but you're my sister."
That deflated the last of Daria's temper. "I'll never forget you're my sister." She took a breath and said, "You were right, college is about living more. But we don't have to go out and live the same things. We're doing new things that agree with who we are."
"Um, I guess."
"Look, you have to admit what you've essentially done is to give Fran a makeover and you want to learn how to do that for more people."
"When you put it that way…"
"Quinn, you found something good out of your old habits and you're working with them. And, you want to learn new things based on what you already like."
"Yeah. But, I know you like reading and stuff, but the hours…"
"Are less than some of the non-traditional students I know. A woman in my Intro to Special Needs Education is a single mother of three who works full time on a night shift."
"Yeah. A lot of us are amazed at her dedication." Daria sifted through her thoughts for several seconds before saying, "You were right Quinn, about me sounding like Mom."
"It really sounded weird."
"This may sound weirder, but I'm glad I picked that up from her. And be careful, it may be hiding in you somewhere, too."
"Bite your tongue, Daria."
"Don't knock it. You may find it useful, like I have, and it will help even more later. And…it's given me a little more insight about Mom."
"What do you mean?"
"I understand more of how and why she worked so hard. She overdid it, but when does Mom not overdo something?"
Quinn laughed. "Never."
"Take it a little easier on her. Part of all her work was her desire to be successful and because she loved being a lawyer, just like I love books. But, part of her work was for us."
"Um…yeah, you're right."
Jane knocked on the door and stuck her head inside the room. "Hey, kids. Karen and I are about to head out. You're now free to do whatever…wherever you want."
Daria moved the phone away from her mouth. "Thanks, Jane. See you two later."
"Later." Jane waved and closed the door.
Shocked, Quinn said, "Did Jane just walk in on you two?"
"She stuck her head in the door."
"With you two on the bed, um…"
Daria chuckled. "Oh, that. Quinn, I'd just finished eating breakfast when you called."
"No. But now that Jane and Karen are gone…"
"Okay. I get the hint. Daria, I'm sorry I got you mad."
Daria sighed. "I'm sorry I snapped at you. Let's face it; at first I didn't want to accept that I had that much of Mom in me. Quinn, thanks for being concerned."
"We're even. I'll let you two get back to…whatever you wanted to get back to. Bye, Daria."
Daria turned the cell phone off and placed it on the nightstand. She turned to Michael and said, "So, besides breakfast, did you have any plans for today?"
Thanks to Kristen Bealer, Ipswichfan and Mr. Orange for beta reading.