Disclaimer: Daria and associated characters are owned by MTV. Calvin and Hobbes are owned by Bill Watterson. This is fan fiction written for entertainment only. No money or other negotiable currency or goods have been exchanged. Portions appeared earlier in the ficlet, "Only a Study Session."
Checking the address on a slip of paper, Raft sophomore Daria Morgendorffer looked up at the brownstone building. "This looks like the place."
Double-checking the pepper spray in her pocket, she thought, He seems nice enough, but you can't be too careful.
After she went inside and upstairs, she rang the doorbell next to one apartment door.
After a few seconds, a cheerful, blond-haired young man opened the door and said, "Hi, Daria. Come on in. Thanks for coming over for the study session. You're the first one here."
Stepping inside, she said looked around and said, "It's a...place."
He shrugged. "Guilty of having a bachelor apartment. But don't worry, I bleached the table so that it would be safe for studying."
Something caught Daria's eye and she turned to look at the well-worn, stuffed tiger sitting on a shelf next to the television. "You don't normally see stuffed animals in guy apartments."
"I've had him since I was a kid and having him around reminds me of a simpler time in my life. Daria, meet Hobbes. Hobbes, meet Daria," Calvin said.
The size of a large Maine Coon cat, the striped feline stretched with great vigor and then jumped over to the sofa to look over the back at his human. "The first girl to show up was cute. Are you going to see her some more?" Hobbes asked.
Scooping empty soda cans and chip bags into a plastic bag, Calvin said, "As long as you don't scare her off."
"Moi?" the tiger said. "Oh, she might be afraid of the fearsome reputation we tigers have. You can assure the young lady that I will not consider her a suitable candidate for dinner."
"More like assure her that you're not just a figment of my imagination."
Hobbes shook his head. "I am nobody's figment."
"You know that and I know that. But..."
"People think that you're doing something creepy when I move around the room and they don't see you move me."
Hobbes said, "All she has to do is believe."
"You remember the last time that happened."
"I thought Susie could handle it, sorry."
Calvin sighed. "It wasn't your fault."
Sprawled on the near-antique sofa purchased at a thrift store, Jane Lane turned to face the apartment door as her roommate entered. "How did the study session go?"
"It was," Daria said, closing the door, "about as exciting as you can imagine a Western Civ study session to be."
"You really need to be careful about that wild and wanton lifestyle of yours, Daria."
After a burp, Daria said, "Yeah, all those chili-cheese corn chips are going to be the death of me."
"You didn't save any for me?"
"Sorry, Calvin ate the last of them."
Jane sat up and wrapped her arms around her knees. "You were at his place, right?"
"Yes, what about it?"
"You went to a guy's apartment. Come on, Daria. It's progress."
"I was there for a study session."
"Yeah, but you wouldn't have set foot in his place if you didn't feel safe about it."
"I was there with four other students."
"Yeah, yeah, okay."
Daria nodded. "Thank you."
"But, it's a start."
"Why do you persist in being so interested in my love life?"
Jane shrugged. "Everyone needs a hobby."
"Why can't you just collect beer cans like other college students?"
"Because getting you out on a date is a lot more entertaining."
Daria turned to go to her room. "Tell me again why I talked you into applying to BFAC?"
"Because you couldn't live without me?"
Daria poked her head back out from her room. "Keep it up and I'll be willing to put it to the test."
When he arrived home, Calvin closed the door and pumped his fist into the air. "Yes!"
Disdainfully looking up from his interrupted nap, Hobbes said, "Was that outburst necessary? I'm trying to sleep."
Calvin slapped a roll of paper against his hand. "I got an 'A' on my Western Civ exam. Springing for a case of soda and a few bags of chips really paid off."
"That, and actually studying."
"How do you think I got into Raft in the first place?"
"Now you're going to have to call your dad to say that he was right about starting a study group."
Calvin went to the fridge and started to sort through the takeout menus stuck to the door with magnets. "It's a small price to pay for his continued financial support."
In only a pair of leaps, Hobbes was in the kitchen. "Does this mean that you'll have the study group over again?"
"Probably. Why?" Calvin glanced at Hobbes for an answer and then said, "Oh, that."
"Hey, everybody needs a hobby!"
Outside the lecture hall, Daria gave a half-shrug and said, "Sure, Calvin. I thought the last session went well. Count me in."
"Wednesday at seven?"
"Okay. I'll even bring a bag of chips. I ate enough of yours last time that I feel I need to even the score."
"Cool, thanks," Calvin said.
"So, Daria was the first person you asked to the study session," Hobbes said, humor dripping from his voice.
Rummaging the refrigerator, Calvin said, "She was the first one I ran into."
"All of you are in the same class."
"But she was the first one."
"By chance or by choice?"
Calvin glared at Hobbes, but didn't answer.
"I thought so."
Jane could not resist making air quotes with her fingers as she said, "So, you've been invited to another 'study session' with this Calvin guy."
"It is us and four others – and don't even let your mind go into that gutter." Daria replied.
"So it's an 'us' now," Jane teased.
Daria turned to face Jane. "You're the one who desperately needs to get laid. How well did ten o'clock, move-in day go?"
"We don't talk about that."
"Then let's call it even."
"Not so fast," Jane said. "What about that little toy you picked up at the boutique behind Sorority Row at Raft?"
"At least it doesn't have 'Hello Kitty' on the side…"
"That was a gag gift…"
When Daria lifted her eyebrow, Jane said, "Okay, why don't we just agree that we both need to get laid, okay?"
"I'll settle for agreeing not to talk about it."
Seated on her bed and using the cell phone that her mother insisted on giving her upon leaving for Raft, Daria talked to her sister. "I need to go to my study session," Daria said. "Good night, Quinn."
"Is it at that Calvin guy's place again?"
"Quinn, you are getting almost as bad as Jane."
"I'm only looking out for my big sister," Quinn said from her dorm room across the country. "You haven't had a real date since you broke up with Tom Sloane."
"I've been busy," Daria said.
"Everyone is busy in college, but they still find time to date. You're trying to avoid it."
"What if I am?"
"It means that you're still trying to hide. Dates don't have to be a big thing. Just get out and have some fun. Relax and relieve some tension."
"I'll think about it."
"Do that. You might find that you like it."
Crammed around the small coffee table covered with soda cans, chips, dip, and textbooks and seated on a sofa, a kitchen chair, a beanbag chair and even the floor, the six students argued.
"It's not like he was an unbiased source," Daria said.
A young man with dark hair said, "Yeah, but he's what we've got."
"Not entirely," Calvin said. "The archeology doesn't agree with his accounts. It's best to call it disputed, Todd."
Todd frowned. "Okay, okay. Disputed it is."
"Next?" Daria said.
Calvin checked his class notes. "The Roman-Jewish War."
"No controversy there," Daria said.
Calvin said, "Yeah, but that's what keeps these things from being as dull as dirt."
"You've got a point, there," Daria said.
Holding back a burp from all of the soda he had consumed, Calvin held the door as Daria was about to leave. "Glad you could make it," he said.
"Me, too, and thanks for the backup a few times back there. Todd gets a little pushy."
"I think he has a few compensation issues."
Daria briefly laughed and said, "Good one."
Across the room and behind Daria, Calvin could see Hobbes sitting up and making "go ahead" motions with the forepaws.
When he rolled his eyes, Daria said, "Was that aimed at me?"
"Oh, no, no. Not you," Calvin quickly said. "It was a stray thought that reminded me of someone being very, very pushy."
"I wouldn't know anything about pushy people," Daria said, "other than being surrounded by them."
Hobbes started to strut back and forth on the sofa back like a chicken.
"Okay, okay," Calvin whispered to himself. Speaking up, he said, "Um, Daria…"
After a long pause, she said, "Yes?"
"You are normally not this inarticulate."
Hurriedly, he said, "I'm trying to ask you out."
Daria let the words settle in. After all of the teasing from Quinn and Jane, she had to face the real prospect. It should have bothered her, but strangely, it didn't. Instead, she said, "What do you have in mind?"
"Food. Movie. I guess. The usual?"
"Considering the lack of dating experience in college, I'm not too sure what the usual is, but I think I can consume food and watch a movie."
"Great!" Calvin noticed that Hobbes was now dancing.
"Oh, um, how about Friday? I have to work after class, so, um, maybe seven?"
Still a little wary, Daria said, "Okay. I'll meet you here."
With a brief smile, she said, "Deal."
Hobbes' fist pump told Calvin that he'd done the right thing.
Jane looked at Daria putting on her coat, then at the calendar, and then back to Daria. "It's a Friday night and you're going out. Who are you and what have you done with Daria?"
"Okay, I'm going out," Daria said. "Haven't you been encouraging me to do that?"
"Yeah, and Daria has consistently refused. That's why I'm asking who are you and what have you done with my friend?"
Daria sighed. "I have a date with Calvin."
"Calvin? The study group guy?"
"Yes, the study group guy."
"I told you he was into you."
"Yes, yes. You win, okay?"
"Hopefully, you'll win, too. If, you know what I mean."
"Ack, you're incorrigible."
"See, I'm doing a good job."
"So what are you doing tonight?"
"Terrify Boston. You know, the usual."
"Well, have fun."
"You too. And Daria…"
"I mean it. I hope you have a good time."
"I was beginning to wonder if you would show up for your date," Hobbes said as Calvin dashed in and closed the door.
"Bite me," Calvin said, quickly ditching his jacket. "We were down three people today because of the flu and I had to work late."
"Even I know better than to bite the hand that feeds me. So, what are you going to do?"
"Get ready as fast as I can." Calvin looked at the clock. "Which, is not going to be fast enough. Okay, need to stall. Ah, drinks."
Hobbes watched as Calvin made sure that a pair of drinking glasses was clean and on the table.
Calvin looked through his pantry cupboard. "You finished off the last bag of chips, didn't you?"
"Sorry," Hobbes said. "I was a little peckish at about three o'clock. Speaking of being peckish…"
"You can fend for yourself when I leave – which is what you do anyway. Oh, well, I'll have to settle for just putting out something to drink."
The doorbell rang and Hobbes gleefully said, "That's her!"
"Dammit." Calvin rushed to the door to let Daria in. As she entered, he said, "I am so sorry. I had to work late and just got home a few minutes ago. Do you mind waiting while I grab a quick shower and change of clothes?"
Aware of the slight funk that surrounded the young man, Daria said, "I can wait."
"I have some soda in the fridge and fresh glasses on the table."
"I can help myself and you can get started."
"Thanks!" Calvin said as he darted away.
Amused, Daria shook her head and went to the kitchen. The refrigerator was rather bare, as she expected, and if not completely clean, it wasn't disgusting. She selected a soda, poured it into one of the glasses and went to sofa to have a seat while waiting.
"Hi, Hobbes," she said to the stuffed animal on the sofa arm as she sat down. After taking a long drink, Daria closed her eyes and leaned back to rest. "I've had a long day myself."
Without thinking, she placed one hand on the tiger as she drifted off.
Sometime later, Daria became aware of purring. I didn't know Calvin had a cat she thought. She opened her eyes and saw her hand resting on a miniature tiger.
As her eyes widened, Hobbes yawned and said, "Please continue."
"Please continue. You have a soft touch."
"A tiger. Don't worry, I'm quite civilized. Much more civilized than Calvin, in fact. But, don't worry, he's learning nicely."
Staring, Daria said, "When I closed my eyes, you were a stuffed animal."
"Well, okay, yes."
Daria looked into the glass. "What was in the glass?"
"Nothing more than a little stray lint. Calvin made sure it was clean. For you."
"Clean, huh? I'm hallucinating and you're telling me that there wasn't anything in the glass?" Daria shook her head. "Why am I asking my hallucination?"
Indignant, Hobbes stood up. "I am not a hallucination!"
"Oh, crap." Daria and Hobbes turned to see Calvin stepping out of his room.
"What did you put in that glass?" Daria said.
"Nothing," Calvin said.
"Then why am I hallucinating a miniature tiger next to me?"
"Hobbes isn't a hallucination. He's – complicated."
"Complicated?" Daria said.
"I kind of prefer deep or multifaceted myself," Hobbes said.
"You're not helping," Calvin said. He walked over and sat next to Daria, who warily watched him.
Daria pinched herself. "Okay, I can feel that. My perceptions are not otherwise altered. My vision is fine, hearing normal, no unusual smells."
"This is real," Calvin said. "Hobbes is real. The only difference is that only those that he allows to see can see him – and then, only if they have the capacity to believe that he is real. You obviously have that capacity."
"This is too strange."
"Believe me, I know. I've lived with this for almost thirteen years."
"Okay, assuming that you are right. Who else has seen Hobbes as he really is?"
"Only a girl I grew up with and dated in high school. She…didn't handle it well and we broke up."
"I'm not certain I'm handling this very well," Daria said.
"Let me try," Hobbes said, crawling onto Daria's lap and purring. "I'm as real as you are. I'm just different."
Daria could feel the weight of the cat, along with the soft fur and the rattle of his purr. "Okay, for now, I'm going to accept that you are real. Why me?"
Hobbes shrugged. "I like you. Calvin likes you."
Calvin gave her a sheepish grin.
"So, what now?" Daria said.
Hobbes hopped onto the sofa back and leaned back onto his haunches. "Go out on your date. I expect a full report on your return."
Calvin said, "Sounds like a plan. Daria?"
"At this point, why not?" she replied.
When she and Calvin returned to his apartment, Daria hesitated before entering. After a deep breath, she took the last step.
Hobbes bounced over and excitedly said, "You came back! You came back!"
Daria looked down at the tiger. "Yes, I'm back and, okay, you're real. There was nothing in the soda glass."
"Of course I'm real!"
"You have to admit that believing you exist is – complicated."
Hobbes proudly raised himself up and said, "I'm a complicated kind of tiger."
Calvin closed the door. "Are you okay with this?"
Daria nodded. "You know, I am."
Calvin said, "Wow. Um, cool. Thanks."
"You're really okay with this?"
"I am. And you know what?" Daria leaned against Calvin and gave him a light kiss. "I'm relieved to be."
Later that evening, Daria opened the door to her apartment and as she let Calvin and Hobbes inside said, "Jane, I think I may have finally found someone who understands."
Seated on the sofa, a well-worn plush doll brushed her black hair away from blue eyes as she came to life.
Thanks to Louise Lobinske for beta reading.