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 forty-third John Lane story

Richard Lobinske

We're On A Mission

John enjoyed the cool air over his skin as he ran along the park pathway. Autumn was a good time to run. The air felt cleaner and fresher and the heat of summer had passed, allowing him to enjoy the sights along the way.

On this day, though, he had more on his mind as he neared the lone pay phone. He stopped and took a few seconds to catch his breath before fishing a slip of paper and a quarter from the small pocket of his sweat pants.

After dropping the quarter in the slot, John dialed the number and waited for half a dozen rings. A girl answered the phone, saying, "Hello."

"Hi," John said. "Can I speak with Tom?"

Elsie Sloane didn't bother to cover the microphone when she yelled, "Hey, Tom! Some guy on the phone for you."

After several seconds, Tom picked up, saying, "Hello?"

"Hi, Tom. It's John Lane."

"Uh, hi," Tom said, curious about the call. "What's going on?"

"I was hoping to catch a ride from you this Saturday."

"I guess, but don't you have a car?"

"I don't trust it to go very far."

"I see," Tom said. "It's not the Pinto, but my car's still a rusty piece of junk."

"But it's a more reliable rusty piece of junk than my car."

"That's kind of sad, when you think about it. Why do you need a ride?"

"Daria's turning eighteen and I want to find a good present for her."

"Quinn mentioned that it was coming up. However, I'm still confused about why you need my car. How far do you want to drive?"

"Washington D.C."

Tom whistled. "What's there?"

"A little antique book store that we saw while avoiding the prom last spring. I'm guessing I might be able to score a cool first edition or something."

"Looking online probably would've been easier."

"And where would I have it delivered? My brother's place?"

"Good point."

"Look, I'll cover for gas and a pizza for lunch."

"It'll give me an excuse to skip Mom's pre-Thanksgiving house decorating frenzy. I'm in."

"Thanks, I owe you one."

"You're welcome and I'm sure I'll need a favor some time or another. When should I pick you up on Saturday?"

"Hmm," John said. "I'll meet you in front of the pizza place at eight. I'm trying to keep this trip secret."

"But won't your absence during most of the day be noticed?"

"Yeah, but I've got a plan."

"Okay," Tom said. "I'll see you at eight on Saturday."

"Thanks, man."


John hung up the phone and started back toward home at a fast jog with a smile on his face.

After dinner, John held back in the kitchen as Helen put dishes in the dishwasher. Keeping his voice low, he said, "Can you do a favor for me on Saturday?"

Immediately catching the tone, Helen said just as quietly, "What kind of favor?"

"Keep Daria busy through the afternoon while I shop for her birthday present."

"How do you propose that I keep her busy?"

"A day of mother/daughter bonding? Daria will buy it. Especially if you include Quinn."

Helen nodded, but said, "What about Jake?"

"Give him a big bowl of air-popped popcorn with an uninterrupted day of college football on television and he'll never know we were gone."

Helen warmly smirked. "You've put some thought into this."

"Um, yeah. I figure it'll mean a lot to Daria."

"It will, John. It will."

John waited until Daria was taking a shower before knocking on the door to Quinn's room. She quickly opened the door and said, "Make it quick. I'm trying to coordinate the latest nail polish colors with my lipstick collection and I've only gotten as far as 'Evening Rose.'"

"I need you to help your mother distract Daria for most of the day Saturday while I try to find a birthday present."

"Distract Daria for almost an entire day? How?"

"Helen will come up with some kind of bonding experience and, after the usual haggling, you'll agree and team up with her to get Daria to settle on a price for the day."

"And what, exactly, will you be doing?"

"I'm going to an antique book store in D.C."

"Your car will never make it and Daria will notice in a heartbeat if you take Dad's."

"Tom is going to give me a ride."


"He's escaping some Sloane family bonding."

"So let me get this straight. You want me and Mom to keep Daria busy all day Saturday while Tom Sloane gives you a ride to Washington D.C to pick up some moldy, old book for Daria so that you can surprise her on her birthday."

"Pretty much."

It was Quinn's turn to smirk. "I'm in."

Arms folded, Daria faced her mother and sister. "You want me to do what?"

"It's a day spa," Quinn said. "How can you object to sitting around and being pampered all day?"

"Why should I interrupt a good day of reading to get a pedicure or to have some strange sludge smeared over my face?"

Helen held an open pamphlet in front of Daria. "There are plenty of other things to do at the spa that won't require you to skip your reading."

"Such as?"

"A nice, relaxing foot massage," Helen replied.

Quinn said, "Or aromatherapy. You sit back and relax while they fill the room with different aromas." Anticipating Daria's objection, she added, "You don't have to believe it, just enjoy the wonderful scents."

Daria's eyes went from one to the other and accepted her fate. "A hundred."

"Fifty," Helen countered.


Quinn said, "Oh, just cut to the chase and say seventy-five."

Helen said, "Deal."

Daria sighed and agreed. "Deal. But if they try to get me to drink some kind of algae extract or anything like that, it'll be an extra twenty."

Helen made a face and said, "Agreed."

Standing in the doorway to John's room Saturday morning, Daria grumbled, "Lucky bastard."

He walked over to her, said, "Very lucky," and kissed the side of her neck.

"That's not what I meant. I have to endure an entire day of mother/daughter bonding and you get to stay at home, ignoring Dad while he watches football."

"I'm still very lucky," he said.

"I know where you sleep and where the knives are kept," she warned.

"Um, you got seventy-five dollars out of the deal?"

"I should've held out for more. As much as I like a foot massage, I can't get one that lasts all day."

"There has to be some place that you can find to hide and read."

"Right here, at home," Daria said.

"Let's try to look at this strategically."

"You, plan strategically?"

He shrugged. "Hey, it's worth a try."

"Okay, go ahead."

"Not only are you getting seventy-five dollars, you're getting bonding credit with your mom. Credit you can use later when you remind her of what you had to endure."

"If I didn't know better, I'd think that you're being awfully supportive of this misadventure."

"I'm trying to make the best out of the situation. It's what we Lanes do."

Daria sighed and said, "You're still going to owe me when I get back. If I have to suffer, someone's going to pay."

John smirked inwardly and said, "I'll see what I can come up with to appease you."

"Appeasement is acceptable. A small country will suffice."

Jake was seated on the sofa, reading the day's televised football schedule, when John came down the stairs to leave. "Hey, John. What's up?"

"I'm going for a run. With everyone else gone, I'll have a chance for a long one."

"Oh," Jake said, disappointed.

John leaned against the door. "Hey, you'll have the house to yourself all day with nobody asking you to keep it down."

Jake yelled, "Oh, yeah!"

"That's the spirit. Enjoy," John said, opening the door and stepping out.

"Don't worry, I will!"

John started down the sidewalk at an easy trot. He glanced back at the house and said, "Everyone needs a real chance to cut loose before they can unwind. Have fun, Jake."

The short jog to the pizza place was uneventful and John found Tom already waiting. He stopped next to the car and tapped on the window. "Morning."

Nursing a large cup of takeout coffee, Tom cracked the window open and said, "Why did I agree to do this?"

John went round to the other side and got in. "Escaping from your family, remember?"

"This early? Not really, but I seem to remember something about pizza."

"All bow before the universal bribe."

Tom took a sip of coffee and started the car. "Are you sure about where we're going?"

"Positive. Just in case, I have their card and a map of D.C."

Tom backed the car out of the parking space and pulled out onto the street. "We're not going to Chicago, I've got half a tank of gas, neither of us smoke, it's broad daylight and we're not wearing sunglasses."

"So let's not hit anything," John said.

From the back seat of her mother's SUV, Daria looked at the Lawndale Day Spa and said, "Nothing but the finest faux Mediterranean architecture, I see."

Quinn glanced back. "It's all going to be worth it, Daria. Trust me."

"You and Mom shanghaied me to a day of beauty torture, so from your point of view, I'm sure it's worth it."

Helen said, "Daria, your sister's right. You will think it's worth it...if you give things a chance. Like I've given you a few chances."

Daria sighed, nodded and opened the car door. "I'll try to enjoy myself, but I really want to relax. Nothing else."

"I'm sure that the staff will be accommodating," Helen said. She followed that with a muttered, "They'd better. I'm paying them enough."

Helen led her daughters inside and, at the front desk, said, "Helen, Daria and Quinn Morgendorffer."

The perky and perfectly made-up clerk checked the guest book and said, "I have your reservation right here. Follow me, please, and welcome to the Lawndale Day Spa."

"Good, for a minute there, I was afraid that this was the Stepford Day Spa."

The clerk either missed or ignored Daria's comment. "We offer the finest array of spa services. Massage, skin care, yoga, relaxation therapy, aromatherapy, manicures, pedicures, hair styling..."

"I just thought of something," Daria said. "We're going to be here all day. Do you have a snack bar or something for lunch?"

"Oh, of course," the clerk said. "Our Green Leaf restaurant serves the finest organic meals, including plenty of vegetarian and vegan options."

"Any chance for pizza?"

"Oh, Daria," Quinn said. "Try a little variety for a change, will you?"

The clerk smiled and said, "They feature a personal pizza on a whole-grain crust with heirloom tomato sauce with fresh herbs, natural, low-fat cheese and pepperoni made from free-range, grass fed beef."

Daria nodded and said, "Pizza with a conscience."

They reached a hallway with a series of close-set doors. The clerk handed each a key card and said, "Helen, you may change in room 14; Daria, in room 15; and Quinn, you'll be in room 16."

"Change?" Daria said.

Quinn replied, "Of course, silly. You don't think you're going around all day in those boots, do you?"

"Let's get the humiliation over with," Daria said while unlocking the door to her changing room.

After Daria closed the door, the clerk said to Helen, "Is there anything we should be aware of?"

Helen said, "Daria's a little nervous. This is her first time. She'll be fine once she settles down."

Quinn opened her door and said as she entered, "As long as nobody tries to take her book away."

"Book?" the clerk said.

"She likes to read," Helen said. "So she'll be doing things that allow her to do that at the same time."

The clerk smiled. "Oh, in that case, we have just the regimen for her."

Driving along the interstate, Tom yawned and said, "Could they possibly make these roads any more boring?"

John said, "It'll get much more interesting once we hit the beltway, but don't worry. We can hit some public parking and take the subway the rest of the way."

"So, we're not driving directly to the store?"

"Not unless you like trying to drive through gridlock populated by insane drivers."

"Taking the subway is starting to sound better."

"Plus, the bookstore is only a couple of blocks from a station. You'd spend more time trying to find a parking space than we'll spend on the subway."

"You've got this all planned out. Quinn mentioned that Daria was spending the day at a spa with her and their mother. How did you pull that off?"

"Manipulation, bribery and groveling. Oh, and I may need to score the deed to a small country."

Tom said, "Take one over, it's a lot cheaper."

"Family history?"

"I can neither confirm nor deny."

"Wait, Quinn mentioned the day spa to you?"

"Yeah, when we talked on the phone last night."

John said, "If you don't mind my asking, what is the deal between you two?"

"Deal? There's no deal, we're friends. We tried the dating thing and it didn't work."

"Really? Quinn has gone out with you more than anyone else since you two met."

"Well, yeah. We go out together, but we haven't been going out, if you get my meaning."

"So, if you're not going out, why are you always going out?"

"It's comfortable."


"There's none of the stress you get when going out on a date."

"Um, okay."

"Really. John, Quinn and I are very different people. But since we don't have any of the usual expectations, we can relax around each other. It's...refreshingly different. It's been almost a year since we met and we haven't kissed. That should tell you something."

"I guess I can see your point."


John turned to watch the scenery. "A year, huh? If you haven't noticed, Quinn likes anniversaries."

"I'm not into that corny stuff."

John shrugged. "Just making an observation."

Luxuriantly resting on a recliner, Daria read while a trim woman massaged her feet and lower legs. The masseuse said, "You have nice muscle tone in your calves. Do you do anything special?"

"Besides walk to school?" Daria said, looking down from her book. "No."

"Do you normally wear boots?"


"That explains it. A lot of women would like to have your calves."

"Um, thanks."

The masseuse said while standing up, "I'm done. I hope you enjoyed your massage."

"Actually, I did. Thanks for not talking too much and letting me read."

The woman smiled and said, "Simply giving the customer what they want."

"What's next?" Daria asked.

The masseuse checked Daria's schedule and said, "Aromatherapy. Don't worry, you don't have to believe it does anything except smell nice. Most people like to meditate, but a lot also read."

Daria reluctantly closed her book, rose and put her slippers on. "Doesn't sound too bad."

Gazing at the densely packed shelves of books and narrow aisles between them, Tom said, "Wow. You could probably find Moses' laundry list in this place."

"Stone tablets are in the back room," John said as he started searching the stacks.

"I could almost believe you in this place. No wonder you wanted to make the trip. I could spend all day here."

"Nothing's stopping you from spending as much as you want," John said. "Hmm, where to begin? Philosophy? History? Classical fiction?"

Already looking himself, Tom said, "Why don't you just browse and see what strikes you?"

"Sounds like a Lane plan. I'll do it."

Daria closed her book and asked the therapist, "What is that aroma?"

The petite woman said, "Cypress."

"As in the tree?"

"Certainly. Cypress produces a very aromatic wood."

"I like it."

"I was hoping you would."

"Thanks." Daria reopened her book and settled down in the easy chair to continue reading.

Tom looked at the tall stack of books that John had accumulated and said, "Are you buying all of those?"

"No, trying to decide among them."

Tom read the title of one book and said, "Nietzsche in the original German?"

"You have to admit that it's different."

"Does Daria read German?"

"No, but it seems like a cool idea. What have you found?"

Tom held up a couple of books. "Oh, some older stuff I've been curious about, like a nice copy of The Inferno with the original on one page and the translation on the facing page."

"So, Hell is best read in Italian?"

"Maybe, but I can't read Italian."


Quinn looked down on her snoozing sister and smirked with great amusement. She carefully poked Daria's nose with her finger and said, "Wake up."

"Mmm?" Daria mumbled.

"Wake up, time for lunch."

Daria opened her eyes and saw Quinn. "Oh, sorry. I must've fallen asleep."

"No, you did fall asleep. From the look of it, I'd say you're enjoying yourself."

"It's been tolerable."

"Come on, Daria. Admit it."

"Admit what?"

"That you're enjoying yourself."

"I've enjoyed reading my book."

"Through your eyelids? Not unless you're channeling John's brother."

Daria said, "You've been listening to Mystik Spiral?"

"Don't try to change the subject, Daria. You're enjoying yourself here." Quinn sniffed and said, "Mmmm...cypress. We can buy some essential oil on the way out if you like."

Daria closed her still open book and stood up. "You said that it was time for lunch. Let's go, I'm hungry."

"Sure, Daria," Quinn said. "Follow me. Mom's waiting and I'm sure she'll want to hear all about you being so relaxed you fell asleep."

"Cool, that looks good," John said while removing a book from the shelf. He scanned the title page and print information before saying, "Jackpot."

Tom looked over at John and said, "Black Beauty?"

John held up the near-mint condition book and said, "Daria has a really well-worn copy on her bookshelf and it's her oldest favorite. A first edition is way out of my price range, but I figure that a 1900 edition will be a great surprise."

"That's a, uh, nice gesture. Do you do something like this every year?"

"No, that's what's going to be so fun."


"Most birthdays and stuff we've done have been low-key. Daria likes it that way. But this time, I wanted to do something special and surprise her."

"What do you get out of it?"

"It'll make her happy."


"Besides, the look on her face will be worth it."

"Hmm," Tom said, going back to browsing the shelf. "Do you mind if I look for a while longer?"

"Sure, why not? Looking for anything in particular?"

Tom shrugged. "I think that I'll know it when I see it."

Quinn looked across the table at Daria and said, "With everything on the menu, you ordered the pizza."

Daria took a bite, chewed and swallowed before saying, "I like pizza, and this is very good pizza."

Helen said, "Even if it's good for you?"

"I'm ignoring that detail," Daria replied, taking another bite.

"Like you're ignoring the fact that you're enjoying yourself today?" Helen said.

Daria squirmed in her seat, bringing a smile to Quinn, who said, "She is."

"This place doesn't suck," Daria said.

Helen said, "That's great praise, coming from you."

Daria set her slice of pizza on the plate and said, "Okay, okay. I'm having a good time. I expected to be pummeled with beauty advice delivered with a hard sell. Instead, the staff have been very polite and understanding that I want to read my book."

"A lot of women in high-profile positions that are used to playing hard ball come here to relax and not to be reminded of what things are like out there." Helen sighed and said, "I wish I hadn't waited so long."

"Well, I hope you don't wait to bring us back," Quinn said. "Today has been fantastic. I started off with a pedicure to absolutely die for, then a high-precision, organically herbal exfoliation cream treatment, a micromoisturizing facial, eyebrow waxing and then the best manicure of my life."

"What did they do? Put you on the express train?"

"It's all about scheduling, Daria. It's all about scheduling."

Feeling pretty good, Helen said, "It took over sixteen years, but it was worth it."

"What was worth it?" Quinn said.

"Finding something both of my daughters could agree upon...other than trying to extort money out of me."

Daria said, "Dammit, busted."

"We promise never to do it again," Quinn said.

Helen said, "That's okay...it's been worth it."

"Go! Go! Go!" Jake was shouting at the television and jumping around when John made it home.

When he started up the stairs, John said, "I'm home."

Jake spun and said, "Hey, John. How was your run?"

"It was good. How's the game?"

"The Middleton Mud Daubers are kicking ass!"

"Who are they playing?"

"The South Central Florida Tangerines!"

"Cool. Do you think they have a shot at a bowl this year?"

"They still have a wildcard shot at the Zucchini Bowl."

"Hey, then good luck. I'm going to grab a shower and stuff."

"Okay, John," Jake said, going back to the game. "Go Mud Daubers!"

"Dad, what's going on?" Daria asked when she entered the house and found Jake dancing on the sofa.

"We won, kiddo!"


"The Mud Daubers!"

Helen followed Daria and said, "That's nice, honey. Now, can you please stop jumping up and down on the sofa like a five-year old?"

"Oh, um, sure, honey," he said, stepping down. "How was your day?"

"All in all," Helen said, "a success. Where's John?"

"He's upstairs taking a shower after a run."

"He was getting ready to run this morning when we left," Daria said. "Was he gone all day?"

Jake said, "I guess so. Long run?"

Daria shook her head and started up the stairs. "Only if you're running a marathon."

Helen and Quinn exchanged glances. Quinn shrugged and mouthed, "We tried."

Daria stopped at John's room and saw that he was in there, freshly dressed and with damp hair. "Hey. Heard you were out running all day."

"Nah," he said. "More like escaping Jake and a day of Mud Dauber football. I ran, had some pizza and generally bummed around. How bad was the day of mother/daughter bonding?"

"I survived," Daria said. "I'm going to get changed myself. See you downstairs for dinner."


Daria went to her room and closed the door. "Hmm."

"I forgot something," John said as he and Daria were about to get into the car for school Monday. "I'll be right back."

"Don't take too long; we're cutting it close as it is," Daria said.

John ran back inside and found Helen still in the kitchen. "Hey, I wanted to say, 'Thanks,' for keeping Daria busy."

"Oh, it was my pleasure," Helen said. "We had a good time, no matter how much Daria is trying to play it down."

"Well then, cool." John said, grabbing an intentionally left textbook from the counter. "I love it when a plan comes together."

After watching him run back out, Helen gently laughed and said, "Jake, you had to get him hooked on that old TV show."

After school, Daria pointed to a restroom down a side corridor and told John, "I'll catch up with you at the Lowdown workroom."

"I'll be there," John said, continuing on his way while Daria walked toward the side corridor.

There, Daria found Quinn at her locker, taking out books for that evening's homework. "Hey, Quinn."

Quinn half-turned and said, "Hi, Daria. Aren't you supposed to be at the paper?"

"I'm on my way, but I wanted to catch you for a minute."

"What are you up to?"

"Saying, 'Thank you.'"


"For helping Mom keep me busy while John was out shopping Saturday."

"You know?"

"I guessed, but now I know."

Quinn stamped her foot. "Daria, you're no fun. John went to a lot of effort."

"That's why I'm not going to say a thing to him, but I still wanted to thank you and Mom."

"Okay, now I'm getting confused."

"Do you remember when I figured out that Santa Claus didn't exist because his handwriting was the same as Mom's?"

"Yeah, you said to keep quiet to keep the presents coming," Quinn said, a little surprised and disappointed. "I didn't think you were like that with John."

"What else did I say?"

"Oh, um, because it makes Mom and Dad happy to keep doing it?"

"Exactly. John went to a lot of work to cover his tracks and I don't want to spoil it for him."

"Okay, Daria," Quinn said. "I'll keep quiet."


"You're getting soft on me."

Daria tapped her boot against a locker. "These can still kick your ass."

Quinn closed her locker and turned to walk away while jokingly saying, "Feel the sisterly love."

On the evening of Daria's birthday, John had joined the Morgendorffers around the kitchen table and the cake that Helen had purchased on her way home from work. "Happy 18th Birthday, Daria" was written on chocolate cake with green icing and several green flowers were set in one corner. After the others had completed a rendition of the birthday song, complete with Jake's over exuberance, Daria said, "At least that wasn't as creepy sounding as Mr. DeMartino singing the first line during class today. If I ever find out who spilled the beans about my birthday to the faculty, they will die a very slow, painful and creative death."

John held back a laugh when he saw Quinn barely roll her eyes. He said, "You have to admit that what Ms. Ruiz did was fun."

"Yeah, and now everyone wants one of her 'Get Out Of Class Free' cards."

"What was that?" Helen said.

"It's a fancy library pass," Daria said.

"Oh," Helen said.

Quinn said, "God, Daria. Even the teachers get geeky around you."

"It's all part of her charm," John said.

Helen said, "Okay, John. Why don't you start things off with the presents?"

"Um, me?"

"I'm sure you have something special," she said.

John went over to the counter and returned with a wrapped package. "Happy birthday."

Daria unwrapped the gift and stopped for a moment as she read the title on the leather-bound book. "It's wonderful. How did you find it?"

"With a little help from your Mom and sister, as well as Tom."


"Wheels. You don't think I found that in Lawndale, do you?"

Playing along, Daria said, "So that's what you were up to Saturday, you little sneak."

"I'll take that as a compliment."

She quickly kissed his cheek and said, "It was."

Helen gave Daria an envelope, saying, "Happy birthday, sweetie."

"A gift certificate to the day spa?" Daria said upon opening it.

Helen winked and said, "I'm sure you'll enjoy it even more when you don't have to put up with your mother."

"Thanks, Mom."

Daria next took a small package from Quinn. "An oil candle and cypress essential oil," she said. "Thanks."

"I didn't think you'd have a problem with it," Quinn said. "And you know where to get more."

Jake was the last, feeling a little out of place. "Here you go, kiddo."

Daria took the gift bag and pulled the loose tissue paper away from the top. "A wooden book holder. Wow, thanks."

"You know, so your hands can be free for writing and stuff."

"I think I can put it to use, Dad."

Later, Daria had set her new book on the stand and her room was filled with the soft aroma of cypress. When John came in, she went to him, put her arms around his shoulders and gave him a long kiss. "Thank you, so much. I can't believe you found an antique copy."

"It took a little effort."

"And recruiting Mom and Quinn must've been a challenge."

"Not as hard as you think. Maybe they're starting to like me."


"Well, how does it feel to be an adult?"

"I'm still in high school, so I don't really feel like an adult. Maybe when I go away to college, I can start feeling like one."

Still holding Daria, John said, "You know, we really need to start figuring out what we're going to do after graduation."

"Yeah, finding colleges, getting accepted, the whole bit."

John softly said, "I was thinking more about us and what we're going to do."

Daria whispered back, "Oh."

A couple nights later outside of the Griffin home, Quinn got into Tom's car and said, "Thanks for the ride, Tom."

"I live for rescuing you from another round of indoctrination from Chairman Sandi's Little Pink Book."

Quinn giggled and said, "Oh, she's not really that bad. Most of the time."

Driving away, Tom said, "I'm kind of curious. You're old enough to drive. Why don't you have a car?"

"Mom has this thing about parents buying cars for their children."

"Okay, I know that feeling."

"And since I'm going to be spending the whole rest of my life working after I get out of school, why get a job now just for a car?"

"That makes sense." Tom reached to the back seat and brought forward a wrapped package.

"What's this?" Quinn said.

"I'm not really great on dates, but it's been about a year since we first met. I thought I'd pick something up for you."

"An anniversary present. How thoughtful, Tom," Quinn said, neatly opening the wrapping by peeling away the tape without damaging the paper. Inside was a large book. Quinn gasped when she read the title. "Rane's Complete History of Fashion!" she exclaimed. "Oh, my God! How did you find it? Nobody in the entire Fashion Club has been able to get a hold of it!"

Tom rolled to a stop at a stop sign. "Same place John picked up Daria's gift. Enjoy it."

Impulsively, Quinn leaned over and kissed Tom. They looked at each other for a moment in surprise and then kissed again.

When the driver in the car behind them honked his horn, they moved apart and Tom pulled away from the intersection.

Quinn said, "Tom, I, um, enjoyed it."

He replied, "Me, too."

Thanks to Kristen Bealer, Ipswichfan and Mr. Orange for beta reading. October 2009