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-ninth John Lane story

Richard Lobinske

Leaving Summer

Home early from her date after claiming to feel ill and promising another date, Quinn dropped onto her bed and looked up at the canopy overhead. She thought of Link at the Okay To Cry Corral summer camp and the look in his eyes as she drove away for her date that afternoon. In all of her dating experience, she'd never seen such hurt. "Good one, Morgendorffer," she said, sounding very much like her mother. "You're the dating expert; why didn't you see that coming?"

Unable to answer, Quinn rolled to the side and picked up the telephone.

John and Daria sat on the sofa in his parents' cabin, each closely watching the wall and thinking about the events of earlier that evening. John looked at the ringing phone and said, "Think I should answer it?"

Daria nodded and said, "Might as well."

John lifted the handset and said, "Hello."

Quinn said, "Hey, John. Is Daria there? I hope I'm not disturbing anything."

"Yeah, she's here and no, you're not." John passed the phone to Daria and said, "It's Quinn. She sounds...off."

Daria held the phone. "Off?"

"It sounds like something is bothering her."

"And she's asking for me? I don't like this." Into the phone, she said, "Quinn?"

"Daria," Quinn said, "I think I need your help."

"You think?"

"Okay, I need your help. This would be too...weird to talk to anybody else about."

"I've had a pretty weird day myself, so go ahead."

Quinn thought for a moment. "How do I put this? Um, I, uh, have a problem with a guy that really likes me."

When she didn't hear elaboration, Daria asked, "What kind of problem?"

"Well...he saw me go on a date with someone else."

"You do that to guys all the time. What's different?"

"He...I think he was really hurt by it."

"Aren't the guys you usually date pretty thick-skinned about this stuff?"

"He's not one of the guys from school," Quinn said, then very quickly added, "he's one of the boys at camp."

"Oh," Daria said as she realized Quinn's problem. "Most of the kids there are pre-teens, right?"

"Yeah. He's twelve."

"To be honest, I'm not surprised that some boy developed a crush on you. Hold on a second." Daria held the phone toward John and said, "John, help me out here. Some twelve-year old developed a crush on Quinn and she's concerned that he was upset about seeing her head out on a date with someone."

He shrugged. "Hey, it's part of growing up. You get a crush on a girl -of course nothing ever really starts out of it, let alone has a chance to work out - you feel like the world's ending - you get over it and go on with your life. If you want my opinion, it happens to every guy sooner or later. As long as you didn't kick him to the ground in the process, he'll be fine eventually."

Daria said to Quinn, "Did you hear that?"

"Yeah, but he probably thinks I kicked him because I'm the first person in a long time that's really listened. His mom is kind of out there and his step-dad sounds really mean."

John said, "Ouch."

"Any suggestions?" Quinn said with mild desperation in her voice.

John frowned and said, "Maybe you could try to be nice and let him down the rest of the way easy? Explain to him the, um, age difference problem?"

Daria said, "Sorry, but I can't think of much more. This is really way out of my experience."

"Thanks guys, I'll try it," Quinn said. "What about you? You said something weird happened; do you want to talk about it?"

Daria said, "Quinn, I think our situation is a little out of your experience range."

"Is it about...um...are you?"

"Yes it is and no, I most definitely am not."

"Oh, thank goodness," Quinn said.

John tilted his head and said, "You know, Quinn may have given us a good answer for our situation."

"I did?"

"She did?"

"I'll explain it to you later, Daria," John said.

Quinn said, "What about me?"

"We'll explain it all to you after that," John said, "probably when we no longer live with your parents."

"You guys are getting weird," Quinn said. "Anyway, thanks for the help. I'll try it out. Bye."

"Good luck, Quinn," Daria said." Good-bye."

After hanging up the phone, Daria said, "Explain."

"We simply let Alison down easy and explain that...well, we're just not into that many people at the same time."

"Do you really think it will work?"

"I have no idea, but we can't hide here for the rest of the summer, either."

"We could try."

"How many butterfly stories can you listen to before reaching for the bug spray?"

"We'll talk to Alison tomorrow."

The apprehension that Quinn had felt all morning faded as she saw Link finally climb onto the "Okay To Cry Corral" bus and hoped that he wasn't upset. Her hope failed as he walked by, without a word or even a glance, to take the rearmost seat on the bus. He crossed his arms and stared with deliberate intensity at the back of the seat in front of him.

The other children on the bus seemed bored or even barely awake. Her fellow counselor, Mr. DeMartino, seemed more intent on steeling himself against the final counselor, Mr. O'Neill's, regular attempts at leading the campers in a sing-along. Quinn knew that the worst possible thing was happening; Link was feeling alone and everyone else on the bus would ignore him.

She quietly moved to the back of the bus and said, "Hi, Link."

He didn't answer and only turned away to look at the inner siding of the bus.


He seemed to sniffle a bit, but didn't turn and didn't make any attempt to speak.

"Come up front, Quinn," Mr. O'Neill cheerfully said. "I have a new song for us to sing today!"

She glared back at him. Jerk.

It was after lunch before John and Daria first saw Alison. She was sitting on a bench near the student cabins, pale and holding her head. She looked up at them and weakly said, "Hey, guys."

"Hey," John said.

She asked, "Did I do what I think I remember doing last night?"

"You mean kissing both of us?" Daria said.

"I was afraid of that. Damn." Alison rubbed her head in the vain hope of clearing her hangover headache.

John said, "Look, we...um, well, all of us had some wine."

"I had a lot more," Alison said.

"Okay, you had a lot more. Daria and I agree that you weren't thinking very clearly."

"Oh, I was thinking, just not with my brain."

"You didn't mean any harm and, though we were a bit weirded out, no hard feelings."

Alison laughed, but had to stop when it made her head throb. "You're letting me down easy. How cute."

Daria said, "It's not like you were a bad kisser or anything."

When Alison cocked her head toward her, Daria blushed and stammered, "Um...I mean..."

Seeing her embarrassment, John gently grasped Daria's arm and started to guide her away. He hurriedly said to Alison, "Thanks for understanding and we'll see you later."

After they left, Alison rested her face in her hand and said, "I need aspirin, I need coffee and I need time to think. In that order."

After they reached the Lane cabin, John said, "Yeah, Alison's not a bad kisser, but why the blush-a-thon?"

Daria looked at him as if she couldn't believe what he said. "Because I'm a girl."

"Oh," John replied, and then added, "Oh!"


Figuring humor was the best way to help Daria with her confusion, John said, "Hey, at least I know that if I'd been born a girl, you'd still be interested in me."

She gave him a smile and rested her cheek against his shoulder. "No ego inflation there."

"Just basking in my luck."


"Do I get points for not suggesting...?"

"My boots still say, 'I can kick you.'"

"Link, I..." Quinn tried to say as the boy pushed past her and off of the bus at the end of the day. She watched him hurry away across the parking lot and muttered, "Dammit."

"Is there a problem, Ms. Morgendorffer?" Mr. DeMartino asked, approaching from the back of the bus where he had retreated to avoid Mr. O'Neill's singing.


"Quinn, I'm not as unobservant as Mr. O'Neill," he said. "All summer, you have been the only one able to talk to Link. Yet today, he's avoided you and now you're muttering to yourself like your sister."

Depressed and dispirited, she let her shoulders drop. "I didn't mean to, but I think I hurt him."

"Please - elaborate."

"Yesterday, I found that he likes me. As in, likes, likes me."

"I see. And?"

"He saw me leave with my date yesterday. When I looked back, Link was... "

"An unfortunate situation," Mr. DeMartino said, motioning Quinn to continue off of the bus. "That from your reaction, you have not previously encountered."

Walking down the aisle and then stepping off the entry steps, Quinn said, "Yeah. Guys date me because they want to be seen with me, not because they like me."

Exiting the vehicle himself, Mr. DeMartino said, "So, now you don't know what to do."

"Yeah. I can't believe I'm asking this. Any suggestions?"

"Unfortunately, no. The damage has already been done."

"I was hoping someone would have an answer."

Speaking with an uncharacteristic openness and sadness in his voice, Mr. DeMartino said, "Life doesn't always have answers."

Helen snatched the ringing cell phone from her desk and said, "Eric, I'm right down the hall, you don't have to call my cell phone."

Holed up in her bunk with the curtain drawn, Daria said, "Mom, I'm not Eric."

"Daria? I'm very busy right now and..."

"Can we talk?"

"And...yes, we can talk," Helen said, catching the tone of her daughter's voice. "What's wrong, sweetie?"

"I kissed a girl. Well, more like a girl kissed me. And John."

"One moment," Helen said as she got up and went to the door. "Marianne, no interruptions please."

"Yes, Helen," Marianne said without looking up from transcribing courtroom notes.

Helen closed and locked the door before getting back to Daria. "Now we can have a little privacy. What happened?"

"John and I were at Alison's cabin."

"You've mentioned her. College student, right?"

"Recent graduate. Anyway, we had some wine. John and I a couple glasses and Alison, more."


"I know we shouldn't, but it was only two glasses each."

"We can deal with that later. Go ahead."

"Alison had been teasing John and me about how we haven't exactly had experience with anyone else and she decided to make a point."

"It sounds fairly harmless, as long as she didn't try anything else."

"No, Mom, nothing else. It freaked us out and we left. But the problem is...the problem is that I liked it."

Helen gently laughed.

"Mom, it's not funny."

"I'm sorry, sweetie. I was laughing at myself. Don't think you're the first girl to be curious."


"I experimented a bit in college. Nothing serious and I decided it wasn't for me. Not that I'm encouraging you to experiment, mind you."

"Of course not."

"I'm saying that you're in an unexpected situation, but it's not as unusual as you think it is. Your reaction and your curiosity are natural. Let me ask you a question."

"Go ahead."

"Has this changed your feelings about John?"


"Then all you felt was a physical response. You're off-balance because you think it might have been an emotional response."

"That makes sense"

"In that case, hold John a little closer the next time you two are together. Temptation is something everyone...everyone feels. I don't think you'll give in to it so easily."

"Thanks, Mom."

"It's what I'm here for, Daria."

"I better let you get back to work."

Helen listened to the quiet in her office for a second and said, "I can spare a few more minutes."

Alison kicked the ground as she walked. "Dammit, I never hit on straight chicks. What the hell was I thinking?" She grunted and then said, "You weren't thinking. Maybe a night out will be the smart thing to do. Give those kids some time to get their heads back on straight."

She swerved and made for the parking lot. "Maybe I can get mine screwed on at the same time."

As John walked with Daria after stopping by her cabin that evening, he said, "You look a little shell-shocked."

"I actually called Mom today about our, um situation."

"You're kidding."

"No, I'm not. It was a pretty good conversation and I think I can deal with things a little better now."

"So why the look?"

"Mom got a little carried away in reminiscing about the past and...I don't think I can ever look at a banana split the same way again."

"Can you take a message?" Quinn said from within her room.

Helen sighed and said, "I will." After writing a boy's message and phone number on a pad, she turned off the cordless phone and slowly opened Quinn's door.

Quinn was flat on her back and staring up at the canopy on her bed, looking very much like Daria staring up at the ceiling counting cracks. Helen said, "Jamie said that he has tickets for the Guys-4-Girls concert."

"Uh-huh. Thanks."

Helen leaned against the door frame and said, "Followed by a trip to the Museum of Medical Mishaps and dessert at Sweeney Todd's."

"That's nice."

Helen closed the door and said, "Okay, Quinn. You're moping around your room and you've given three boys the brush-off tonight. What's the matter?"

Quinn sat up. "I can't get anything by you, can I?"

Helen sat on the bed and said, "I've learned a few tricks over the years."

Quinn pulled her knees up to her chest and told her mother about what had happened. She expectantly looked up. "Help?"

"You didn't do anything wrong," Helen said. "Maybe you could've made things a little easier for Link if you had caught on early and tried to explain that the feeling wasn't mutual, but then again, maybe not. Be nice and don't try to force the issue. It can be hard to step back and let someone recover on their own, but it's the right thing to do."

"Voice of experience?"

"It's something useful to learn if you ever want to survive as a mother."

Link sat down on a chair as Mr. O'Neill went around his desk and took a seat on the other side. "Link, I asked you to stop by because I've noticed you seem a little bit... subdued."

Link shrugged and with disinterest said, "I was gonna say miserable, but okay."

"Growing up is kind of like being a kite, isn't it? We want to fly, but we don't really trust ourselves to cut the parental string and soar with the birds." He laughed at what he imagined was a creative metaphor.

Growing impatient, Link said, "A kite doesn't fly if you cut its string. It blows around in the wind for a while and then crashes."

"Exactly. Just the way we..."

"Just like real life. You think something great is going to happen, and then the whole thing crashes in a big, stinking pile."

"Oh, well, I..."

"What do you know? 'Cause it seems to me you spout out a lot of crap about loving ourselves, and that doesn't do any good to me trying to figure out why someone would build up my hopes and then slam them against the wall."

"Oh, well, that certainly sounds like something we can talk about..."

"I don't want to talk about it! I want to slink away and never see Quinn again." He stood and pushed his chair back. "You can't do a damn thing to help me with that, can you, 'Uncle Timothy'?"

Taken aback, Mr. O'Neill said, "Well, Link..."

"That's what I thought. You don't know what you're doing and you even suck at that," Link said as he hurried out of the room.

After the door slammed, Mr. O'Neill said, "Oh my. We seem to have a problem with Ms. Morgendorffer. I'd better call the authorities."

Still seated at his desk, Mr. O'Neill pleaded, "I really think we should call Child Protective Services."

Hands planted firmly on his desk, Ms. Li leaned forward and said, "It's a good thing I intercepted your phone call. You remember what they said would happen to you and me the last time you filed a false report, don't you?"

"But we can't take any chances."

"Exactly," Ms. Li said. "That is why I'm going to investigate this situation before I even think of allowing you to call CPS."

"Yes, Ms. Li."

"Timothy, it will be most...unfortunate for you if you get overly excited and call anyway. Do I make myself clear?"

He stared at his lap. "Yes, Ms. Li."

The sun had just risen over the treetops as John and Daria walked along one of the colony's footpaths, holding hands. John said, "Last chance; are you sure you want to do this?"

"Positive," Daria said. "We've thoroughly discussed it and came to an agreement. We have to find out. You're not getting cold feet, are you?"

"No, just wanted to be sure that we were absolutely certain."

"We are."


They stopped at the door of Alison's cabin and John knocked. After a wait and a second knock, Alison opened the door.

She was clearly just out of bed and not fully awake. "Hey guys."

"Hi," John said, as did Daria.

Covering her eyes against the sunlight, Alison said, "If you're at my front door, I guess you're not afraid to come in."

"We didn't plan on staying outside," Daria said as she stepped through the door.

Quinn was surprised to see Ms. Li waiting at the parking lot. Standing beside her, Mr. O'Neill seemed even more timid than usual while Mr. DeMartino wisely kept his distance from both of them.

"Ms. Morgendorffer," Ms. Li called out. "Come over here, please."

"Um, okay," she said and joined them.

"Young Link is waiting inside my office, so we'll adjourn to there for our little discussion," Ms. Li said.


"We'll explain once we're inside."

"I think I better call my mother," Quinn said.

"That won't be necessary," Ms. Li quickly replied. "But if it turns out to be, you will be able to call her immediately."

Completely untrusting, Quinn followed them, wondering what could possibly be going on.

"What was that all about?" Alison said, still feeling the tingle of two kisses on her lips and utter confusion in her mind.

"Returning the favor," Daria said. "It only seemed fair that since I was kissed by a girl, I should kiss a girl."

John said, "One kiss in fun deserves another in return."

"But a kiss is just a kiss," Daria said, "and it doesn't have to mean anything more."

John said, "We appreciated the thought the other night and well, we were flattered, so we decided to give the same in return."

"Making us even," Alison said, catching their intent. "Fair enough. Oh, and yes, I enjoyed the kisses in return. Now, do you mind if I get some coffee and wake up?"

Seated beside Link in front of Ms. Li's desk, Quinn screamed at Mr. O'Neill, "What?! How could you think that?"

Ms. Li covered her ears and closed her eyes in a determined effort to avoid a headache.

Mr. O'Neill sat to one side of the office desk and said, "Link was very upset and specifically mentioned your name. Sometimes young people don't know how to properly say things about certain, uh, sensitive subjects."

Link shook his head in disgust. "You moron! I was upset that Quinn went out with some other guy, not that we did anything. Sheesh, forget about pulling your head out of your butt; get it out of the damn gutter. Just because you have some freak-o fantasies with that brunette you sneak off with after camp, don't think that applies to the rest of us."

Ms. Li said, "Sneaking off with some brunette?"

While Mr. O'Neill sputtered, Quinn said, "Ms. Barch."

"Mr. O'Neill," Ms. Li firmly said, "We will have a discussion about this later...in private."

"Ms. Li, I can explain," Mr. O'Neill finally said.

"In private," Ms. Li said, leaving no doubt about who was in command between the two of them.

Speaking quickly, Quinn said, "All that happened is that Link had a crush on me and gave me some flowers and I acted like I did whenever a guy gives me flowers and then I got in the car with my date and I looked back and Link looked all hurt and stuff and I knew I messed up and I felt really bad but I never did anything like Mr. O'Neill suggested because that would be so...eww."

Ms. Li clasped her hands under her chin. "Ms. Morgendorffer, that is probably the most convincing thing I've ever heard you say."

"Oh, um, thanks."

"As a matter of fact, I don't think we need to go any further. Quinn, Link, you may go now. Mr. O'Neill, stay."

As Quinn and Link reached the door, Ms. Li added, "Tell Mr. DeMartino that Mr. O'Neill won't be joining him today."

"We will," Quinn said, then closed the door behind them.

Link glanced at Quinn and said, "Wow, he's even a bigger jerk than my step-dad."

"Yeah, but then, so was I. I should've...I don't really know what I should've done, but I wish I hadn't blown you off like I did. I'm sorry."

Link shrugged, kept his eyes forward and said, "I guess my heart had to get broken eventually."

Quinn nodded, but thought, Mine hasn't. But then, I've never felt that much for anyone, either...

Link said, "I wonder if Uncle Anthony will let us go outside if Uncle Timothy isn't around?"

"It's worth a try."

Just before stepping out of the door to the family cabin, Vincent turned and said, "Are you sure, John?"

Next to the small sofa, John nodded. "You've been here for most of the summer and it's the most I've seen of you in years. I appreciate it, but I know you need to get out on assignment again."

Vincent took a puff from his pipe and said, "I appreciate what I missed seeing you grow up. Your mother and I will drop you a line when we get to the mountains of Jamaica."

"Don't forget to score John some coffee," Daria said. "He lives on the stuff."

"I won't forget." Vincent stepped back and embraced both of them. "Daria, thank you. John's staying with your parents was the best thing to happen to him. Tell your mother that she was right."

"Um, thanks," Daria said.

He released them and said, "Good-bye...for now. I'll stop by to see you when I get a chance."

"Thanks, Dad," John replied.

"Enjoy the rest of your stay," Vincent said before leaving.

John took Daria's hand and said, "I guess we have the place to ourselves for the next week."

Wearing a smile that was actually pleasant instead of disturbing, Mr. DeMartino brought the children to a halt next to the waiting bus. "Well, campers, how was your hike?"

Link said, "Better than hitting my head against the wall."

One of the other children said, "Hooray for Uncle Anthony!" and the others joined in on a long-lasting cheer.

Surprised that she had enjoyed the hike, Quinn stood behind the campers while ignoring the heat and the sweat it caused.

Buoyed by the cheers, Mr. DeMartino said, "Thank you. From now on, we're going hiking every day!"

As the children started to climb onto the bus, Quinn said to Link, "How are you doing?"

He still refused to look at her. "Today sucked more and less than any other day."

"Is there anything I can do?"

"No." After a long pause, Link said, "But later, I don't know."

Cuddled with John under a sheet over the sofa, Daria teasingly said, "So you thought about it, huh? Did you really think you could satisfy two girls?"

He kissed her cheek and said, "I have no idea, but the thought of trying...has its ego appeal."

"You and your ego."

"You were tempted, too."

"There is something to say about someone with what you might call 'inside knowledge,' but since something else was lacking..." she gave him long, slow kiss and said, "I decided to keep what I've got."

On the last day of camp, Mr. DeMartino stood on the steps of the building with a fresh outlook on life like he hadn't experienced in years. Meanwhile, the campers milled around on the front lawn as they waited for the bus.

Quinn found Link off by himself, as usual, and said, "Hi."

"Hey," he said after a very brief glance.

"Word has it that Mr. O'Neill won't be back in class next year. A lot of Lawndale High students are going to owe you one."

"Why me? That idiot dug his own grave and jumped in with both feet."

"But you told him off and spilled the beans about Ms. Barch."

Link made a face. "I can't believe nobody knew about those two. Yuck."

"Everyone knew, but nobody said anything." Quinn also made a queasy face. "I don't think anyone wanted to think about it. I know I didn't."

Hearing a cheerful tune coming down the street, Mr. DeMartino said, "Hey campers, how would you like a treat before you leave today?"

Cries of, "Ice cream!" "Yay!" and "Cool!" came from the children as they started to move toward the approaching truck.

Mr. DeMartino stepped out in front and waved the vehicle down. His comment of, "My treat," brought even more cheers from the children.

"You want some?" Quinn asked Link.

He got up and slowly started toward the other kids. "Free food. Besides, I can't remember the last time I had ice cream. My mom only buys it by the pint and eats it straight out of the tub before I get a chance."

When they got near, Brittany's familiar, squeaky voice came from the truck. "Oh Kevvie, look, it's Mr. DeMartino."

Kevin got up from the driver's seat and went to the back section. "Hey, Mr. D. How's it going?"

Seemingly unaffected at seeing the couple, Mr. DeMartino said, "Surprisingly good, Kevin. Hello, Brittany. Take the entire class's order. I'm paying."

"You never did that for us, Mr. D," Kevin said, disappointed.

"Maybe I will next year...if everyone acts well enough to deserve a treat."


"Wow, Mr. DeMartino," Brittany said. "You seem so different."

"A summer away from the daily grind can do a man a lot of good. Speaking of summers away, weren't you two supposed to be life guards?"

"We were fired," Kevin said, "But Mack Daddy got us this job."

Quinn grinned and whispered to Mr. DeMartino, "Rumor has it that Mack took Jodie out to Chez Pierre, so he must've earned more than enough money over the summer."

"And found someone to cover a thankless job while he took the rest of the summer off," Mr. DeMartino whispered back. "A bright young man."

"Hey, Quinn," Kevin said, earning him a cautionary look from Brittany. "What are you doing here?"

"I'm a counselor," she answered. "Can I have a fat-free frozen yogurt, please?"

Brittany brought one out and said, "Can you believe that they only have one little box of these?"

After everyone had been served, Brittany rang up the total and said, "That will be $18.60, Mr. DeMartino."

Kevin took a twenty from Mr. DeMartino and opened the cash drawer. "Hmm, that'll be, uh...$28.60 back. Man, that's weird. We're almost out of change." He looked up and grinned. "Must be all those sales we've made today."

Mr. DeMartino took the money and said, "Kevin, I would say that this is what we call a 'teachable moment,' but since I'm currently not your teacher, don't worry about it."

"I won't, Mr. D."

Walking away as he put the cash back in his wallet, Mr. DeMartino said, "With this, I can swing by Shirts And Pants Outlet and pick up a real, new pair of pants."

Link looked up at Quinn and said, "Are they what I can expect to see in high school?"

Quinn rubbed her forehead and said, "If they keep that up, you might be sitting next to them."


"But there are some better parts to high school."

"You mean, like dating? I think I'll concentrate on surviving middle school first."

"I deserve that," Quinn said. "Look, I know it doesn't mean much to you now, but if you ever change your mind and need someone to talk to, give me a call."

When Link didn't reply, she added, "Or e-mail."

Link gave her a brief glance, maybe a hint of a smile, and then he turned and walked toward the bus stop.

Holding onto her portfolio, Alison leaned into the right window of John and Daria's car. "Hey guys, have a safe trip home."

"You too," Daria said from the passenger seat.

"And good luck with the galleries," John said.

"Good luck with that last year of high school. Trust me, it can be a killer."

Daria said, "Warning noted."

Alison said, "I'm not going to forget your offer...when you turn 18."

Daria's cheeks reddened at the comment, but she maintained her composure. "A promise is a promise."


"You had better remember your part: no variations on Botticelli's Birth of Venus. It seems like everyone does that."

"My word."

John said, "I should be jealous."

Alison winked at him. "Hey, it's a girl thing." She stepped back and said, "I need to hit the road, too. I'll keep in touch."

After saying good-bye, John and Daria drove away. Alison walked to her small car, humming to herself.

When John and Daria opened the door to the Morgendorffer home, Helen turned and stood facing them with her arms folded. She said, "I had a very interesting conversation with Amanda earlier today."

"Mom called here?" John said.

"Yes. She asked me to check if you had locked the door to the cabin when you left. It seems she and Vincent have been in Jamaica for the last week and you've had the cabin to yourself."

Daria said, "Before you go any farther, I slept in my assigned cabin for the entire week. In the interest of full disclosure and protecting ourselves from possible future inquiry, we did take advantage of the privacy offered at other times during the day."

Helen nodded. "I believe you. Thanks for being honest."

"It's the only thing that doesn't blow up in our faces," John said.

"Amanda also said that she made a good trade for her pottery and that she hoped the twenty-five pounds of Blue Mountain she's sending would be enough."

Jake came down the stairs and said, "Twenty-five pounds from Jamaica? It's nothing illegal, is it?"

John's eyes were wide in surprise. "No, no. Nothing illegal; it's only coffee."

After a whistle, Jake said, "Wow, that's a lot of coffee."

Daria said, "You're going to share, right?"

"It's a difficult choice, and only because I love you."

Quinn sat at the computer desk while Daria put her things away and John reclined on the bed, petting his two cats. Quinn said, "Daria, you even got a little bit of a tan over the summer. It looks good on you."

"I hadn't noticed." Daria closed her suitcase and put it into the closet. "You seem to have survived Mr. DeMartino running the camp by himself for the last week."

"He's not so bad, as long as you let him out for recess once a day."

Daria chuckled and said, "Maybe that would help the rest of the teachers."

Scratching Taylor's head and rubbing Zachary's neck, John said, "Quinn, are these cats lying as badly as I think they are?"

"I went through two lint brushes getting their fur off my clothes this summer," she said. "They've had plenty of attention, not to mention all the time they spent with Dad."

"Uh-huh," John said, looking at the cats. "You didn't try to help Jake cook, did you?"

"Only when he tried to make that trout a la crème stuff," Quinn said.

"You know, John's turned out to be a fairly passable cook," Daria said.

"I bet." Quinn smirked at the two of them. "Oh, yeah, I heard about you having a whole week together with John's parents gone. Did your practice session work out?"

"Practice session?" John said, confused.

"A practice week of being married, silly."

In almost one motion, Daria and John buried their faces in their hands while John said, "Great, and school starts Monday."

Some dialog from Is It Fall Yet? by Glenn Eichler and Peggy Nicoll

Thanks to Kristen Bealer, Ipswichfan and Mr. Orange for beta reading.

February-March 2009