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.

This is the thirty-second John Lane story

Richard Lobinske

Ties of Family Bondage

Coming down the stairs, John could hear Jake's excited voice say, "Look at the opportunities at the Eatertainment Conference: 'Out of this World Profits with Martian-Themed Restaurants,' 'Fountains of Income in Fondue,' or 'Tapping the Romance Market with Chocolate and Champagne.'"

John then smirked at hearing his girlfriend say, "Gastro-intestinal fun for the entire family."

When he came around the corner to enter the kitchen, John saw that Daria was seated on a stool at the kitchen counter, watching as Helen tried to work lasagna out of a glass baking pan. Quinn was seated at the kitchen table, reading an issue of Waif while Jake looked through more of his convention packet, saying, "Oh, wow! The keynote speaker is Terry Perry Barlow. He's the franchising genius that made forty million dollars off the Pizza Forest chain!"

Daria glanced over and said, "Once his badger enforcers broke up the chipmunk union."

Finally glad to get the pasta out of the pan, Helen sighed and said, "Honey, I can skip the workshops, can't I?"

Jake looked up and said, "That's the great thing about tax-deductible conferences. You can sit by the pool and relax!"

"That sounds good," Helen said. "I can't remember the last time I had a day off from work."

John asked, "And what are we going to do? Hey, will they have free food?"

"Sorry, John-O," Jake said. "Just the two of us are going."

"So we've asked Amy to stay here with you three for the weekend," Helen said. "It will be a great time for you and her to catch up."

"You mean, like a baby sitter?" Quinn asked.

"More like a chaperone," Helen replied. "Quinn, we know all of you are great kids, but your father and I simply cannot leave three teenagers unsupervised. It's not wise."

"I suppose I can live with Aunt Amy for a couple days," Daria said. "We had a lot to talk about at Erin's wedding."

"Yeah, she was kind of fun," Quinn said. "Maybe I'll cancel some of my dates for this weekend."

Nestled in John's arms while sitting on her bed, Daria relaxed against him as he kissed her neck. "I can't say that I blame Mom for inviting Amy to stay. You can be very…tempting."

John slipped one hand under Daria's shirt to caress her belly. "Like this?"

She shivered slightly with pleasure and said, "Like that."

"Well, that's because you're so tempting," he said, moving his other hand under her shirt.

Daria turned slightly and gave him a long kiss before asking, "If we were here alone, do you really think we could resist all weekend?"

He said, "It would be very…difficult."

"And yet," Daria said, burying her face against him. "Part of me is still petrified."

John held her tight. "Me, too."

"John, I love you."

"I love you, Daria."

"Someday…" she whispered.


Holding a tourist brochure, Daria sat next to her father on the sofa and said, "Dad, could you do me a favor while you're at the convention?"

"Sure, Daria. Anything."

She showed him a page of the brochure and said, "The Museum of Medical Oddities is next door to the resort. Could you stop by the gift shop and pick up a copy of their Virtual Sliced Man?"

Uncertain, he said, "Um, sure. Anything else?"

"If you're feeling generous, a skull crusher would be nice."


"They're great for opening stubborn watermelons."

Seated at one of the other sofas, Helen answered her ringing cell phone. "Hello? Hi, Eric."

After a moment, she sat up straight and said, "I thought we settled that by paying for the reconstructive surgery. They want what?"

Jake laughed nervously and said, "Good one, Kiddo. Watermelons."

"Yes, I'll be there!" Helen said and then switched her phone off. "Dammit! The plaintiffs in the Porta-Fry class action backed out of the settlement. I can't go to the conference."

Jake looked hurt and stunned. "Helen?"

She said, "I'm lead in this case and the firm's counting on me. I'm really sorry."

Jake grumbled, "Not like I can count on you for anything."

"Jake! That's…that's…

"Not fair?" he said.

"Um, no. It's not. Jake, I said I'm sorry. I know; why don't you take Daria along? It would be a great chance for some father/daughter bonding."

Daria shifted uncomfortably. "I really don't know if I want to sentence John to be alone with Amy and Quinn."

Helen snapped her fingers. "That's it! With all of her activities, we see Quinn even less than you. Quinn can go with you; how does that sound, Jakey? Get to know your little girl?"

"But Helen, I was looking forward to you in…" Jake tried to say.

"I can't go, Jake. I'll have to make it up to you later," Helen quickly snapped back before he said too much.

"Mo-om!" Quinn cried a few minutes later. "I still have dates this weekend."

Standing in the doorway of Quinn's room, Helen said, "And sometimes, family has to take precedence over dating. Honey, this will be a good time to get to know your father better. Just the two of you."

Calculating, Quinn said, "I'll need the right clothes. Something a little more business-like than usual. You know, to fit in with the crowd."

Helen fished a credit card from her purse. "Okay, but it's only one weekend. Two new sets of clothes."

"Is there a banquet?"


Quinn folded her arms. "I can't wear the same thing I've worn all day to that. Three."

"Three, but that's it."

Quinn nodded and took the card. "Deal."

Helen sighed. "Deal."

Listening from his door, John stepped back into his room, shaking his head. "Daria's getting the Virtual Sliced Man with skull crusher and Quinn's getting three new outfits. I have got to work on my extortion skills."

As Amy Barksdale entered, John opened the front door and stepped aside, saying, "Hi, Amy. Come on in."

"Hi, John. How are you treating my favorite niece?"

Defensive, he said, "Uh…okay. We're doing okay."

Seeing Jake and Quinn coming down the stairs, each with luggage, Amy said, "Helen, you must tell me your anti-aging secrets."

Quinn giggled and said, "Mom has to work this weekend. I'm going with Daddy instead."

Amy said in confusion, "So…I'm not really needed?"

Coming behind Quinn, Helen said, "Of course you are, Amy. I'm going to be working all day tomorrow. Besides, Daria's been so looking forward to seeing you again."

"Just as long as I didn't make the drive for nothing," Amy replied.

"Not at all," Helen said. "The only change is that you will be staying in Quinn's room instead of my room."

"Okay," Amy said, getting out of Jake's way as he tried to carry suitcases out to his car. She let a smirk slowly cross her lips. "So, does this mean I get to annoy you, just like old times?"

Helen nervously laughed and said, "Oh, Amy. You were never that bad."

"No, I was worse," Amy replied. "But I'll try to behave in front of your children."

Daria stepped up behind Helen. "Why should you act any different than the rest of us?"

Amy said, "Daria, I still like the way you think."

Seated on an airliner aisle seat, Jake finished off a drink and said, "What do you think of flying first class, Quinn?"

At the window seat and adjusting headphones, Quinn said, "It's nice, Daddy. It was so thoughtful of that cute ticket agent to offer it to us."

Jake said, "I've never been offered an upgrade before and it's great. Complimentary drinks, personal screens for the movie, solid arm rests." He suddenly looked frightened and grabbed the arm rests hard. "We're gonna crash."

Quinn waved him off and said, "Daddy, the pilot promised me that everything would be okay. I mean, if you can't trust a man with a chin like that, who can you trust?"

"You talked to the pilot?"

"You were telling that little old lady about Grandpa Morgendorffer and the time he had you fly to that military school with his friend."

Jake's eyes widened at the memory. "Yeah, he flew me to Buxton Ridge…after spraying half the county for mosquitoes! At treetop level!"

Quinn placed her hand on his. "Daddy, you don't need to scare the passengers like you scared that little old lady."

"Oh! Oh, sorry, Quinn."

"Why don't you read your book and I'll get us something to drink."

"Good idea." Jake took a book from his briefcase and held it up. "I Did It, Why Can't You? Terry Perry Barlow might have saved the lives of his entire ballooning crew in an ice storm by climbing up the ropes and opening the rip panel with his teeth, but I wonder how long he would've lasted with DDT Dan!"

Quinn looked behind her father to address the flight steward. "Two Shirley Temples, please."

Arms spread wide over the back of a sofa, Amy gazed over her shoulder at Helen seated at the kitchen table, pawing through briefs and talking on the phone. Then, she looked at Daria and John seated on one of the other sofas. "I see Helen's still as work obsessed as ever. But until I got tenure, I wasn't exactly one to talk."

John shrugged and said, "I can't complain; she's around more than my mom was."

Amy said, "Now that's just disturbing."

Daria asked, "So, Amy, what have you been up to since Erin's wedding?"

"Oh, the usual. Eat, sleep, poke into people's brains," she answered. "What about you?"

"Between various compulsory school functions, still trying to survive being in high school," Daria said.

"Your mother sent photos," Amy said. "I thought it was cool that you look good in purple, too."

Embarrassed, but pleased, Daria mumbled, "Thanks."

"John looked handsome, too." Amy then asked, "Are you still a couple?"

John glanced at Daria and said, "Yeah."

"Must be weird, all things considered."

"I'm a Lane," John said. "We define weird."

"Plus, you have some good points," Daria said.

Helen came in from the kitchen, holding her cell phone and saying, "Good news, they settled the Porta-Fry case and I can stay home this weekend."

"Um, Jake and Quinn have already left for the convention," John said.

"I'm sure that they'll have a good time together," Helen said, coming up behind Daria and John. "And I get a chance to bond with you two and my sister. Won't it be fun?"

Amy drew her arms in and said, "Helen, the last time we spent this much time together was when I helped you drive out to Texas fourteen years ago."

"And we survived," Helen said.


Helen sighed and said, "Amy, please."

"All right, sis," Amy said.

Helen sat down beside her sister and said, "Fourteen years? Has it really been that long?"

Riding the elevator back down to the lobby, Jake said, "This must be my lucky trip. First the upgrade for the flight, and now our room. Wow."

Quinn said, "That man at the reservation desk was so helpful after they lost the reservation."

"I can't believe how much space we have in the penthouse suite," Jake said. He looked down at his suit and asked, "Do you really think this tie works better?"

"Much better, Daddy. Trust me; I know what I'm talking about. That other tie says, 'I'm just one of the guys.' That one says that you're better than the rest of the pack."

"Just what I want to say." Jake grinned as the door opened and they stepped out. Noticing a black couple at registration, he then said, "Hey, there's Andrew and Michelle Landon."

The desk clerk was telling them, "Mr. Landon? I think I found you something. You're not sensitive to the sounds or smells of a kitchen exhaust fan, are you?"

Michelle leaned over the desk and growled, "Do I look like a maid? I want our suite!"

"I'm sorry, Mrs. Landon. Our online reservation system had some technical difficulties. All of our penthouse suites are currently occupied, along with the rest of the resort. Ma'am, that's the only room we have left. As an apology, we'll give you one night at no charge."

Andrew said, "We'll take it. But I want to speak with your manager later."

"Yes, sir, Mr. Landon."

"Andrew, Michelle, how are you?" Jake said.

Andrew turned. "Jake Morgendorffer. How have you been?"

"This must be your daughter, Quinn. It's nice to finally meet you," Michelle said, still fighting back her anger at the hotel and putting on a pleasant façade.

Quinn explained, "Mom had some last minute stuff come up at that office of hers, so I came instead. We've met the nicest, most helpful people."

Almost grinding her teeth, Michelle said, "I wish I could say the same."

Andrew slapped Jake on the shoulder and said, "Come on, let's grab a drink before the reception and let the girls have some time together."

After they left, Quinn said, "I like that red top."

"Thank you, Quinn," Michelle said.

"But have you considered how much a cute skirt would make guys turns their heads and still say, 'I'm all business.'"

"Do you really think so?"

Waiting until her mother closed the door after leaving the house, Daria asked Amy, "Is it really a good idea to send her out for supplies so you two can drink? I remember her with Aunt Rita."

Amy said, "You might have a point there. I don't know if I want her crying on my shoulder, but a nice daiquiri will help me calm down. Besides, it gets her out of the house for a few minutes so I can interrogate you in private."

Daria held up one hand and raised a finger. "Yes, we love each other."

John did the same. "Yes, we know the odds are against a teenage romance lasting."

Daria raised a second finger. "No, we're not sexually active."

John also lifted another. "Yes, we're tempted."

One more for Daria. "Yes, we have precautions, just in case."

John brought up a third finger. "No, you may not ask what we may or may not have done short of that."

A fourth finger for Daria. "No, we have not discussed marriage."

Also for John. "All other questions will be answered on a case by case basis."

Amy snickered and said, "I see you still get a few questions. I hope you don't mind a few more. Since I currently don't have a love life, I can at least live vicariously through yours."

Andrew and Jake approached Michelle and Quinn with a man with hair that Quinn recognized as having been carefully dyed to hide some gray. Andrew said, "I'd like you to meet my wife, Michelle. Honey, this is Terry Perry Barlow."

Michelle extended her hand and said, "Former Senior VP at US World."

Terry grinned and said, "Impressive company. Who you with now?"

"Actually, I'm taking a brief hiatus. We recently had a son."

Terry nudged Andrew and said, "One of the unfortunate side effects of Viagra. Ha, just kidding. Got a pair of newborns myself. Pay their mother a nice settlement, too." He then noticed Quinn and said, "Hey, who's the impressive young lady?"

Jake's eyes darkened and he said, "My daughter. My teenage daughter, Quinn."

"Oh, um, cute girl there, Jack," he said, verbally backpedaling. "I bet I can learn more from her than I can from a stack of consultant reports. Quinn, would live alligator wrestling get you into a restaurant?"

She said, "Eww! Any guy that tried to take me to a place like that would drop on my list to the level of guys that would take me to a chain restaurant. Which means; no way."

Terry rubbed his chin and said, "Hmm, maybe you're right, Andrew. Chain theme restaurants might've run their course." Putting his arm around Andrew and leading him away, asked, "Do you like ballooning?"

Michelle glanced at them and said, "Excuse me; I better keep an eye on them. Two bags of hot air talking about balloons can't be good."

Setting her empty glass on the coffee table, Amy giggled and said to Helen, "How do you explain Wilbur? I thought Mom was going to blow a gasket."

"That's exactly why," Helen explained, her voice also slightly slurred from alcohol. "He was from the wrong side of the tracks…"

"Literally," Amy said.

"But he was also fun, in a bad boy sort of way."

Amy unsteadily stood and headed for the kitchen and a refill. "And a lot more interesting than the society types Mom always wanted us to date."

Helen took a long drink and said, "Ugh. Most of them needed the two-by-four pulled out of their asses. I bet that's why you went to that concert with what's his name."

"Which concert?" Amy asked, pouring another daiquiri from the blender.

"The one where you put on all the makeup and he wore that corset."

Amy laughed loudly and said, "Oh, you mean Ray and the night we did Rocky Horror. Yeah, that was a good one, though he ended up being way too serious about the part, and he wasn't faking."

Daria made a face and whispered to John, "Are you as freaked out as I am?"

He nodded. "This might have started out as some good dirt, but it's getting scary."

Noticing, Amy covered her mouth and said, "Oops, was I embarrassing you? Things were a lot different back then."

"We can tell," Daria answered.

John turned to Helen to say something and noticed her slouched back, gently snoring. He took the glass from her limp hand and said, "I think she's had enough."

Amy looked down at her glass. "Helen never could hold her liquor. Guess I'm being a bad influence again."

"Do you think you can help us get her upstairs?" Daria asked.

When she stumbled on the way back, Amy said, "Uh, maybe that's not a good idea."

Dejected, Jake sat on a chair in the common room of the penthouse suite. "I guess I am small fry. The big boys will be off in Terry's balloon tomorrow."

Quinn said, "Oh, Daddy, you don't want to ride a balloon. They have absolutely no in-flight amenities. I mean, a wicker basket? How primitive can you get?"

"But honey, Andrew will be able to negotiate anything with Terry while they're up in the balloon, while I'm stuck on the ground, wishing like the 'fraidy-cat that I am."

Quinn sat on the chair arm and put a hand on her father's shoulder. "So you're afraid of high stuff. Big deal."

"You're not afraid," he complained.

"I'm afraid of other things."

"But I'm supposed to be a hero to my kids. I'm a zero."

"Daddy, you are a hero to me."


"You and Mom. Me and Daria and John don't have to worry about anything important, you take care of it. I can think about my clothes and my popularity while Daria can think about John and her stories and he can think about her and his pictures."

"Your mom thinks I need to know you better. Things like your hopes and dreams."

"Daddy, I don't even know my hopes and dreams from one week to the next."


"Except one thing."

Jake asked, "What's that?"

"That I can find someone the way Mom found you and Daria found John."

One on each side of Amy, John and Daria guided her to Quinn's room. John said, "Weren't they supposed to keep an eye on us?"

"Hey, kids watching the parents, you should be used to this," Daria said.

"Can't remember my Mom or Dad staggering drunk, but Trent on the other hand…uh, oh."

Daria said, "Uh, oh, what?"

John made a face and said, "I've also had to clean up after Trent."

"Let's hope we don't have to worry about that." At the door, Daria said to Amy, "Almost there."

"Oh, goody," Amy mumbled. "Will you spin the bed for me?"

John said, "I think it will do that on its own."

"Cool," Amy said as she slumped from their arms to land crossways on the bed.

Daria said, "Good night, Amy," and started to leave with John.

Amy said, "Hey Daria, need to say something."

"Go on," she told John. "I'll be out in a minute." She went to the bed and said, "Yes, Amy?"

"He…he's cute," Amy managed to say, barely looking up.

"Yeah, he is."

"You need to cut loose a little, Daria."

"Cut loose?"

"You know, have a little fub…um, fun."


Amy rolled her eyes and said, "You know, jump him," before closing them and passing out.

Daria stared at her for several seconds before making a fast retreat, closing the door on the way out.

Outside, John leaned against the wall next to Daria's door. "I guess we have the rest of the night to ourselves."

Unsettled, Daria said, "Uh, yeah. Ourselves."

"Did Amy say anything you can repeat?"

Daria took a couple seconds to decide upon an answer. "She had a suggestion on what to do tonight."

On TV, the Sick, Sad World interviewer asked, "So, why make giant, genetically engineered daddy longlegs?"

A slightly crazed man in a lab coat looked up from a microscope and let his glasses drop down into place. "Because I entered the wrong code when I ordered the specimens from Discount Entomology Supply. I didn't want them to go to waste, so…"

Daria used a remote to shut off the videotape and leaned against John. "I'm not really feeling like watching this tonight."

John kissed her forehead and said, "What would you like?"

Nervous, but with a hint of passion, Daria said, "To take Amy's advice."

John's eyes grew wide and his mouth dropped open, speechless.

"But I also wish I'd never heard her say it."

"Ah," he said, "I think I understand."

"Do you?" she asked. "Other people used to wonder if I had emotions, or if I could feel anything. Looking back, I know why they thought that. But things are different now. I have emotions. I feel. But I'm also denying my feelings while it seems like everyone else is allowed to show theirs."

"Part of being responsible?" John said, as much to convince himself as Daria.

Suddenly deciding, she pivoted on one knee, moving her other leg over his and settling onto John's lap, facing him. Daria took off her glasses, placed her hands on his cheeks and passionately kissed him. Moving slightly back while he caught his breath, she said, "Why do we always have to be the only ones responsible? Why can't we let ourselves be lost in the moment for once?"

John gently moved his hands up Daria's back as he felt his resolve melt away. The physical contact and emotional high rushed over his senses and she became the only thing in the world to him. He drew her against his chest, kissed the side of her neck and whispered, "I want to be lost, too."

"Just a second, Daddy," Quinn said as she tied the sash of her beach wrap the following morning. After putting on sandals, she opened the door and crossed the suite to her father's room, where he was standing in the door, showing off his suit.

She said, "I need to fix your tie." A couple quick steps and a few deft pulls and tugs on Jake's tie had the knot perfectly shaped and smooth.

He stepped back to look in a mirror and then said, "Thanks, Quinn."

"I'm going to be at the pool."

"Have fun," he replied. Thinking ahead, Jake added, "With Terry and Andrew out ballooning, I can swoop in and make deals while they're away."

"Go get 'em, Daddy," she said.

"Are you going to join me for the vendor luncheon?"

"Sure, I'll be there. I can't spend all day in the sun; it's bad for my skin."


Quinn followed her father out of the suite and down the elevator to the lobby, continuing to make small talk along the way. Jake grinned when the elevator door opened and numerous heads in the room turned to look. Emboldened, he never noticed that the same eyes followed Quinn as she walked to the pool, but when he started to talk to them they greeted him with a sense of awe and seemed ready to listen to anything he said.

At the pool, Quinn saw Michelle sitting on one of the lounge chairs, though not dressed for the pool. When she noticed Quinn, Michelle waved the teen over and asked, "Is your father with the rest of the boys club?"

"No," Quinn said. "He's inside."

"Lucky you. Andrew called to say that he and Terry had changed their minds and were going sailing instead."

"Boys with their toys."

"Tell me about it. They're off having fun while I get left behind to follow-up with Andrew's contacts."

"That's not fair," Quinn said.

"No, it's not!" After several seconds, Michelle looked at Quinn, calculating, and asked, "What are your plans for the day?"

"Oh, stay by the pool, have lunch with Daddy, then go to the spa this afternoon."

"You know, with taking care of Evan, I haven't had a real day off in ages. Screw Andrew's contacts. Do you mind if I join you?"


"Great. I'll be back in a few minutes. I'm going to change."

Outside the resort's spa, Jake held up one of two paper bags and asked Quinn, "Are you sure? I grabbed a doggie bag for both of us."

"I had plenty, Daddy, but thanks."

"Oh, do you mind if help myself?"

"Some of those samples were really fatty; maybe you shouldn't. Your heart," she reminded him.

"Aww, okay, Quinn."

Wearing a resort robe much like Quinn's, Michelle walked up to them and said, "Hello, Jake. Did you two enjoy the luncheon?"

"It was great!" he said. "Free samples from all the franchises that are here looking for investors. Didn't you go?"

"No, I decided to take a break, since Andrew decided to do the same. Your daughter invited me to join her at the spa."

"Isn't she thoughtful?" Jake proudly said.


Jake checked his watch and said, "Sorry, gotta go. The 'Feeding your Inner Carnivore' seminar's about to start!"

Michelle watched him hurry away and said, "Do I really want to go back to that? I wonder how hard it would be to find a woman-run company."

Leading the older woman into the spa, Quinn said, "Maybe you could just start your own."

Squinting through her glasses and feeling her way along the wall, Amy slowly made her way down the stairs. "I know Helen has coffee and aspirin somewhere." Near the bottom of the stairs, she could smell the magical drink and hope was renewed. "Ah."

Looking relaxed and happy, Daria and John sat together on a sofa with their feet propped up on the table, both drinking coffee as they watched Amy. John said, "Good afternoon. The aspirin bottle is next to the coffee pot, along with the sugar. Milk is in the fridge."

Blinking in pain from the pounding in her head, Amy said, "You're a gentleman and um, something."

"Why don't you get some coffee in you, then you can try talking," Daria suggested.

Amy grunted and made her way into the kitchen and the coffee. A minute later, she shambled into the living room and sat on the sofa opposite Daria and John. "Helen and I sure set a good example for you last night, didn't we?" she sarcastically stated.

John said, "It was amusing."

"And very educational," Daria also said.

"Oh, jeez," Amy said, rubbing her face. "That bad?"

"You and Mom had some interesting experiences when you were younger," Daria answered, teasing her aunt.

"A very different time," John piped in with more teasing.

Amy wearily gazed back. "You remember everything we said, don't you?"

Both teens nodded, slight smiles on their faces.

After time to think, Amy's face reddened in embarrassment and she asked, "Daria, when you poured me into bed, did I really tell you to, um…"


"Oh, crap. I was completely out of line. Please tell me you didn't. Wait, both of you are almost…glowing. Oh, crap, crap crap. You did."

John said, "We didn't."

"Don't try to pull my leg," Amy said in return, "you did something."

Daria took a deep breath and said, "Let's leave it at 'something' and not go into any more detail."

Waiting just inside the entrance of the hall hosting the plenary session, Quinn stood with Michelle and said, "Those guys thought I was married to…ewww!"

Michelle knowingly sighed and said, "With the number of trophy wives being paraded around here, I'm honestly not surprised some of the idiots thought that, though you'd expect them to notice the family resemblance."

Jake emerged from the milling crowd. "There you are!"

Relieved, Quinn said, "Hi, Daddy. I'm so glad you're here."

"So am I! I got the consulting contract for BG's Barbeque Brew-Hall. Real wood cooking and real ale brewed on site; it can't miss!"

Uncertain of the wisdom of taking the account, but still glad to see her father in a good mood, Quinn said, "That's nice, Daddy."

The crowd turned as a man stepped up to the podium. After a brief rumble as he adjusted the microphone, the man said. "Due to unforeseen circumstances, Terry Perry Barlow will not be able to present the Plenary Address. We regret the inconvenience and thank you for your understanding."

"Aw, man," Jake grumbled.

Soggy, and with a small strand of seaweed caught in his hair, Andrew entered the room and found Michelle. "What a jerk."

"Accident?" Michelle asked, barely hiding her amusement.

"A sudden crosswind ripped the sail, stranding us," Andrew explained. "Terry whined like a college intern for an hour until the Coast Guard pulled us back to port."

"How did you get wet?"

"He slipped getting off the boat and grabbed me. Good thing we were right next to the dock or he would've had a meltdown. I couldn't even talk the man into one decent contract. The whole day was a waste."

"I'm sorry, honey," Michelle said.

"Any luck with my contacts here?"

Michelle started leading him away, saying, "About that…"

Jake followed them and then turned his sight to the empty podium. "Wow, I guess you can't just judge a guy by his book."

"I guess not," Quinn said. She started to guide him out, saying, "Why don't we go pick up those things Daria wanted on the way to the airport?"

"Are you sure?"

"Yeah, I think I've seen enough here. I'm ready to go home."

Both still feeling the remains of their hangovers, Helen and Amy talked at Amy's car. Helen rested against the corner of the convertible's windshield and Amy sat in the driver's seat.

"We acted like a couple of fools," Helen said. "Next time you visit, we don't drink."

Amy started her car and said, "Agreed. Normally, I'll only get that drunk with my friend Paula." She turned to Daria and John, standing behind and to one side of Helen. "I normally don't embarrass myself that much."

Helen started to chuckle and then turned also. "Amy and I certainly set a fine example for you two. I don't understand it: you get any of us sisters together, and we're either fighting or drinking and acting like a couple of college girls."

"Or worse. I'm going to say goodbye before I do anything else foolish."

Helen, Daria and John said their good-byes and watched as Amy's car vanished down the road. Helen followed Daria and John into the house and paused at the foot of the stairs. "I'm going to get a little more rest before your father and Quinn return. But before I do, I want to say how proud I am of you for acting so mature when Amy and I were not. A lot of teens would've taken advantage of the situation."

Self-conscious, Daria said, "Uh, thanks, Mom."

She and John waited until they heard the bedroom door close before going to the kitchen and sitting at the table. Feeling guilty, John said, "That was awkward."

Feeling the same, Daria said. "Very."

"But it would've been worse if…" John began to say.

Daria reached across and gently rested her hands on his. "Yes, and I thank you for being so understanding."

Warmly, John smiled. "It's all right that you decided you weren't ready to go all the way."

She brought his hands up and kissed them. "It means a lot that you didn't keep trying."

"Begging and pleading would've been undignified, plus you'd have used it against me later."

Daria smiled at the joke, but said, "I'm serious, thanks. I need to feel that I can trust you like that."

"I'm glad I earned it."

Daria's cheeks turned pink with a blush. "But I enjoyed everything we actually did up to that point."

"So did I. Does this mean we have new boundaries?"

She let go of his hands and caressed his cheeks before kissing him. "Yes."

Thanks to Kristen Bealer and Ipswichfan for beta reading.

October 2007