This piece contains subject matter that may make some people uncomfortable. If you are easily disturbed or offended by the actions of fictional characters, read no further!
Jane was cut off by the loud slam of Daria's locker door. Daria didn't even spare her a glance before turning and stalking off towards class. Jane's shoulders slumped as she watched her best friend walk away. She had expected a reaction like this from Daria ; she had lied to her, after all. The reason Jane had lied was that she was afraid of a reaction worse than this one, but she knew it was still wrong. She valued her relationship with Daria, and knew that if there was any hope of salvaging that relationship, she had to be honest with her friend. The real problem was getting Daria to give her the chance to be honest.
Jane sighed, and walked slowly to class.
In fact, Daria had calmed down a lot since the previous night. An accidental encounter with Tom at the Zen had revealed some surprising facts. What was most surprising was that Jane was supposed to be on a date with Tom at the time. Some verbal prodding had produced a startling confession from Tom : he and Jane had broken up again weeks ago. The reason they had broken up this time was because Jane had started seeing someone else. Tom refused to say more on the subject and excused himself quickly afterwards. Daria had been absolutely livid at Jane for such a betrayal. It was a wonder she made the drive home safely, and it was not until this morning that she was able to put things into any kind of perspective.
She was still mad at Jane for lying to her, but she had to admit to herself that Jane's reason for doing so was probably valid. Daria had given Jane an undue amount of crap when she started dating Tom. She wasn't sure how she would have reacted if Jane had told her that she had stopped seeing Tom, just to tell her that she had started seeing someone else. For that matter, Daria knew it was none of her business who Jane chose to spend time with.
She still couldn't figure out who Jane could be seeing that she felt the need to hide it from her. The only names she could come up with were Kevin Thompson and Upchuck. Both of those were too disturbing to consciously think about. She also admitted to herself that she was the tiniest bit jealous that Jane seemed to have her choice of boys, while Daria only had the occasional daydream.
But Jane had lied, so Daria felt justified in giving her friend the silent treatment as long as it suited her to do so. If Daria hadn't been genuinely hurt, she probably would have found Jane's attempts at communication enormously amusing. Jane tried to talk to her at every opportunity, but Daria studiously ignored her. Jane passed her notes in every class they shared, which Daria quite pointedly did not read. Lunch was trickier, bit she was able to slip into a restroom without Jane seeing and hid out in one of the stalls until the following period.
Finally, in their last class together, Jane came in after Daria and "accidentally" bumped into Daria's desk, sending her books tumbling to the floor. Jane casually picked up the books and placed them respectfully back on Daria's desk, and then took her own seat. When Daria looked at her textbook, she realized that Jane had switched it with her own. Scrawled across the cover in black magic marker read "I Know You Spoke To Tom Last Night. I Want To Explain. Can I Come Over This Afternoon?"
Daria had to give Jane points for such a cunning bit of sleight-of-hand. She thought it over briefly, but knew that she was going to give. She would let Jane roast over the coals for a bit longer, and knew that whatever grief she was going to give Jane about her boyfriend-du-jour would be entirely justified. She was also very curious about why Jane chose to make it such a big secret in the first place. Before class was over, she turned to look at Jane, met her eyes, and gave a small nod.
Jane was visibly relieved, and gave a trepidatious smile back at Daria. Daria felt a little bad. Jane had obviously been very worried about what her answer would be. Whatever Jane had done, and maybe she had a good reason for lying, Daria hated to see her friend unhappy.
When the final bell rang, Jane met Daria at their lockers. "I've got a few things to take care of, then I'll come by your house," she said quickly, before dashing off. Daria was starting to get a little worried. Jane seemed relieved that Daria was now acknowledging her presence, but she seemed more agitated than Daria had ever seen her before. Whatever the circumstances behind Jane's secrecy, this was going to be big.
Overwhelmed by curiosity, Daria decided to follow Jane. She didn't feel right about it, but realized she may be able to get a glimpse of Jane and her boyfriend together. The chance for a preview like that she couldn't pass up.
Keeping a discreet distance, she followed Jane through the school's hallways. Rounding a corner, she pulled back quickly, as Jane had arrived at her destination : Mr. O'Neill's classroom. Jane was talking to the teacher, fortunately with her back still to Daria.
Daria mentally kicked herself. Jane must just be checking on a homework assignment or something. While she was still berating herself, Mr. O'Neill looked over Jane's shoulder and stared straight at Daria, a nervous frown on his face. Embarrassed at getting caught spying, Daria quickly turned around, raced down the hall and left the school.
Daria walked straight home, lost in thought. Fortunately, she was the first one home and was able to enjoy the peace of having the house all to herself. She grabbed a soda and decided to read on the living room couch until Jane arrived, or until a family member got home and she was forced to retreat to her room. Her peace was short-lived, as Quinn came home a half-hour later, took one look at Daria sitting on the couch and headed straight for the phone.
Daria was adept at tuning her sister out, but her concentration was too shaky today to put up with Quinn and Tolstoy at the same time. She got up to head upstairs to her cell when the doorbell rang. Daria opened it up to find Jane standing there as promised. "Hey, Daria. Can I come in?"
Jane was looking more worried than before. Daria wanted to set Jane's mind at ease, figuring that whatever story she was about to be told would come out that much faster if Jane was relaxed. Of course, she was still miffed, so she didn't feel all that charitable either. "Sure, come on in. The interrogation chamber awaits."
Daria led Jane up to her room. Daria sat on her bed and Jane sat on the edge at the end to face her. Jane was looking around nervously, not meeting Daria's eyes. Now that the moment of truth had come, she apparently had cold feet.
"So, why don't we begin with the name of this mysterious boyfriend of yours." Daria prompted.
"Well," Jane began, "let me say a few things first."
"Let me start." Daria interrupted. "I know it's none of my business who you go out with. I'm just hurt that you felt you had to hide it from me."
"If it means anything, it's not just you we're hiding it from." Jane replied. "I'm sorry we didn't tell you earlier, and that I lied to you. It's just that, well, it's a tough thing to tell anyone, and we know you're not going to react well."
Daria was a little annoyed at being sized up as so emotionally fragile. "Look, I know I gave you a lot of crap about Tom-"
"Daria." Jane said, taking her turn to interrupt. "It's not because of the way you reacted over Tom that we felt we couldn't tell you." Jane hung her head, not even making an attempt to look at Daria now.
"Who's 'we' anyway? You have yet to name this guy who's entered your life." Daria was getting frustrated with Jane, and was trying to puzzle out her friend's reticence. "Is it someone I know?"
"Yeah, it's someone you know," Jane agreed, still not meeting Daria's eyes.
Before Daria could pursue the matter further, Quinn entered the room. Without knocking, as usual. "Daria?"
"Beat it, Quinn!" Daria interrupted, before her sister could begin to state whatever insipid request she had barged in to make.
"No, it's okay," Jane said, turning to look at Quinn, "she can stay."
Daria was taken completely by surprise at what happened next.
Quinn walked over to the bed, sat down across Jane's lap, and put her arms around Jane to hug her. Jane also threw her arms around Quinn, and returned the hug in earnest.
Daria tried to take this all in. Jane finally met her eyes, and was holding Quinn in her lap with a forlorn frown on her face. Quinn was also looking at Daria, her head leaning against Jane's, and wore a small, worried frown of her own.
The two of them just sat there, looking at her. She couldn't figure it out at first. Slowly, the horror of it all dawned on her. Jane was dating Quinn! Her best friend was having a relationship with her worst nightmare.
Jane finally shrugged, and took a deep breath. "I'm sorry, Daria. We're in love." The corners of her mouth turned up in a slight smile as she turned back to look at Quinn.
Daria heard the words, but was still overwhelmed by the situation. She found herself swimming in a sea of raw emotions, none of which she liked. "Get out." she whispered.
"What?" Jane asked.
"Get out. The two of you." Daria stood up and walked over to the door. "Get out, now!" Daria held the door open, and motioned that they should walk out as fast as possible. They had obviously been prepared for a negative reaction, and departed quickly. Daria couldn't slam the door quickly enough.
She stood there for quite a while, leaning her forehead against the closed door. She tried to get her thoughts in order, so that she could think this out logically. She knew she didn't have a hope of succeeding.
Daria spent the rest of the afternoon in her room. Most of the time she lay on her bed, staring at the cracks in the ceiling. The rest of the time she lay there with her eyes squeezed shut, trying to force the image of Jane and Quinn out of her mind. When she did this, she would draw her legs away from where the two had been sitting.
Her mind was running in several directions at once. She felt betrayed by Jane. Who had started going out. Behind her back. With her sister. Whom they both despised. Because she was shallow. And arrogant. And narcissistic.
But Jane said they were in love. Jane couldn't despise Quinn if she loved her. But how could she love her? Quinn was shallow, arrogant and narcissistic. Jane despised those qualities as much as she did.
Maybe it was a joke. Yes, an elaborate, bad joke at Daria's expense. If it was a joke, then none of this was real. But no, if it was a joke, Quinn would never have gone along with it, or it wouldn't have worked. Because Quinn was shallow, arrogant and narcissistic.
And they were both girls! They're supposed to be attracted to boys. They both had dated several boys, for as long as she knew them. That's how she knew Quinn was shallow, arrogant and narcissistic. So what did that make Jane?
Eventually, there was a light rap on the door. "Dinner." Quinn said through the door.
Daria had no choice but to go down to the kitchen and join her family for dinner. She was surprised that Quinn was still there. Daria initially thought that Quinn was demonstrating a lot of nerve to face her so soon, when she could easily have left the house on a date or a fashion crisis of some kind. With the furtive glances Quinn kept shooting towards her, Daria quickly changed her thinking.
Quinn must be there because she couldn't afford to leave. She had to stay in case Daria chose to say something to their parents. Normally, Daria would enjoy watching Quinn squirm in this position. Unfortunately, she was still faced with too many conflicting emotions to know how she should handle the situation.
"You're being unusually quiet today, Quinn. How was your day?" Helen asked.
"Um, y'know, stuff happened." Quinn replied distractedly, staring straight at Daria.
Helen frowned, noticing where Quinn was looking. She turned her attention to her older daughter. "Daria, how was your day?"
Daria stared straight back at Quinn. "Um, y'know, stuff happened." She replied.
Helen looked from one daughter to another. "Is there something we should know?" She asked, a little worriedly.
Daria noticed Quinn suddenly jerk up with tension. This was the moment, she knew, that Quinn had been dreading. With just a few words to their parents, Daria could wreak utter havoc in her sister's life. She could take the internal chaos that she had been dealing with, and externalize it all on her sister. "Nothing comes to mind." Daria finally said.
Soon after that, fortunately, Jake accidentally speared his necktie with his fork and wound up upending his plate onto the floor. Amidst his ridiculous histrionics, Daria was able to excuse herself and escape back upstairs.
Before she could enter her room and close the door, she heard Quinn behind her. "Daria?" she asked softly.
"What, Quinn?" Daria spat out, turning quickly to face her sister.
Quinn shrank back from her sister a little before continuing. "Um, a-are you going to say anything to Mom and Dad?"
Daria looked at her sister, who had always managed to make Daria's life a living hell. Her little sister, who was currently an inch taller than she was. Her pretty little sister, who right now seemed particularly alone and pathetic. "I don't know, Quinn. Right now, I don't know what to say. To anyone." Ever again, she added to herself. With that, she turned, walked back into her room and closed the door.
Daria sat straight up in bed, covered in sweat. She had kept having nightmares all night, and she woke up panting several times. This time, though, the incessant drone of her alarm clock greeted her ears.
She was exhausted, both physically and mentally. She went through her morning routine without really being awake. She trudged to school in a sleeping march, and didn't come to full consciousness until she reached her locker.
"Is it worth asking if we're on for pizza this afternoon?" came Jane's voice, shocking her to full wakefulness.
"Eep!" Daria exclaimed. She hadn't noticed Jane was there at all. She was so surprised, she could feel her heart hammering in her chest.
"It's okay, Daria. I know you'll need some time to sort this out. I'll talk to you later, okay?" Jane turned and walked off before Daria could reply.
"Um, okay," Daria said weakly to Jane's retreating back.
Daria walked into the girls' bathroom to splash some water on her face. She didn't notice Jodie walk up to her at the sink.
"So are you and Jane fighting again?" Jodie asked, walking up to Daria.
Daria was startled, but hid it by putting her glasses back on. "What makes you say that?" she asked, in her most innocent manner.
"Oh come on, Daria. Everyone saw how you two were acting yesterday. And you look as bad today as she did yesterday. Is there anything I can do?"
"You can mind your own business," Daria said, getting annoyed.
"I'm sorry, I was just wondering if you needed any help. I didn't mean to pry," Jodie said, turning to the mirror. "Of course, I was minding my own business when I found out you were pierced, so maybe that's the way to go."
"You're pierced, Daria?" came Brittany's squeaky voice from behind them.
"Oops," Jodie said, sending a look of apology to Daria.
Brittany walked up and made a pointed observation of Daria's ears and then her face. "So... where are you pierced?"
"I'm not pierced, Brittany," Daria said, shooting daggers from her eyes at Jodie.
"Then why did Jodie say you are?"
"Come on, Daria, show her your navel ring. It is pretty cool."
"You got your bellybutton pierced? That sounds cute! Let me see," Brittany pleaded.
Daria obligingly flipped up her shirt and jacket to expose her unadorned stomach region. The piercing Jodie had seen had closed up the next day, after Daria had removed the navel ring due to itchiness. Now, there wasn't even a dimple to mark the spot it had once occupied.
"Hey, you said she was pierced, Jodie," Brittany said indignantly.
Daria flipped her clothes back down and backed away. "I guess you don't know everything about someone just because of what you may have seen in the past," she said to Jodie before turning and walking out the door.
The rest of the day passed uneventfully for the most part. Jane seemed serious about giving Daria time to work things out. When Daria went to her locker, Jane would wait patiently at the end of the hall until she was finished, before going to her own. In class, Jane made no attempts at conversation. She wasn't ignoring Daria, exactly, but apparently was just giving Daria an opportunity to make the first move.
There were several times where Daria almost did talk to Jane, but her nerve invariably failed her at the last second. There were a hundred questions she wanted to ask Jane, and she didn't know where to begin. She had to admit to herself that she was a little afraid of what the answers would be.
The final bell finally came, and Daria trudged home, alone. When she got home, she went straight to her room to lay down and think. Unfortunately, her thoughts ran in circles and she was unable to come up with a solution to calm her conflicted emotions. After an hour or so, she let out a large sigh of frustration. Her thoughts had led her to one inescapable conclusion : she couldn't deal with this on her own.
When Helen came home, Daria was sitting at the kitchen table lost in thought. "Hello, sweetie," Helen said, as she went to the fridge to pull out a frozen lasagna.
Daria let out a loud sigh. Helen picked up on it immediately and walked over to the table. "Is there anything wrong, Daria?"
"I'm trying to resolve a problem I have," Daria said.
"What sort of problem?" Helen asked, sitting down.
"Two people I know shared a secret with me that they had been sharing with each other. It's one of those big secrets that can affect everything about your life and perceptions. I'm having a harder time dealing with the fact that they were sharing the secret with each other than with the secret itself, since as far as I can tell the only thing they have in common is the secret." Daria slumped in her chair, doubting Helen would actually be able to decipher her statements, much less offer any sound advice.
"Well," Helen said after a moment, "that sounds like a complicated problem. Tell you what. Maybe you can help me with something first."
"Okay," Daria said slowly. She was a little surprised by the change of subject. Helen usually grabbed a problem by the horns and rode it into submission.
Helen leaned towards Daria and asked quietly, "Do you know who Quinn's girlfriend is?"
Daria was utterly unprepared for the question. She sat there, thunderstruck, for several moments. "You... know about Quinn?" she was finally able to say.
"Oh, yes," Helen said, sitting back. "Your sister told me how she felt some time ago. She promised to tell me the moment she found a girlfriend, which she did, but she's been very reluctant about telling me her name."
Daria had a hard time understanding her mother's lackadaisical attitude. "Quinn's gay, and you're okay with that?"
"Well, I'm not wild about it, Daria, but it's her life. What, did you expect me to slap her and chase her out of the house?"
"I don't know- Hey, how come you're telling me this? Aren't you betraying her confidence?"
"I saw the way you were acting yesterday. It was obvious there was something going on between you two. It wasn't hard to figure out what it must be about."
"In other words, Quinn told you I found out?"
"Right after she got back from her date the other night, yes."
"But if you already knew, why was she worried that I'd talk to you about it?"
"Are you sure it was my reaction that she was concerned about?"
That gave Daria pause for thought. "Why would she be so concerned about what I'd do? I mean, if it was just her, I could expect her to think I 'd blackmail her or something, but she knows I'd never do anything to... that other person."
"So you do know who she's seeing," Helen said excitedly. "Can you tell me?"
"I don't think I should. After I found out, they told me it wasn't just me they were hiding their relationship from. I guess they've got a good reason for that."
"Well, I can respect you for not betraying their confidence. You would tell me if Quinn was seeing someone who was... wrong for her, wouldn't you?"
"Mom, right now I don't know if Quinn is right for Quinn. It's pretty overwhelming. I mean, I always thought I was open-minded, but..."
"But you didn't expect something like this to hit so close to home?"
"I guess. How did you handle it when she first told you?"
"Well, of course I was very shocked. At first, I thought it was just a wild story she had made up in order to be allowed to date more boys," Helen smiled wanly, "and I admit I still cling to that hope a little."
"Are you afraid that I might be... that way?"
Helen reached over and took Daria's hand. "Daria, I would love it if both of my daughters found a nice boy to go steady with and eventually marry. But I wouldn't want either of you to pretend to be someone you're not."
Daria looked into her mother's eyes. "I think I need to go talk to... um, I'm going over Jane's," she said, getting up and walking out of the kitchen.
Helen sat at the table for a few more minutes. "Hmmm, so she's dating Jane. That's so nice, I like Jane," she murmured.
Daria walked over to the Lane residence. Her thoughts were still reeling, but she was finally able to start bringing them under control. Jane would still be out running, but she figured she could wait at the Lane household until she got back. She knocked on the front door with more than a little trepidation.
Trent answered the door. "Hey, Daria, come on in," he said.
"Hey, Trent," Daria said as she walked inside. Once she entered the living room, she stood there awkwardly. She had hoped he was home so she could talk to him, but now she didn't know how to bring up the subject.
"So," Trent said slowly, "Janey said she told you, right?"
"Um, I guess that depends on what she told you she told me."
"About her being gay, I mean."
"Well that was direct. Yeah, she told me."
"How are you handling it?"
"How does it matter how I handle it? It's her prob- I mean, she has to deal with the hard part."
"Yeah, but you're her best friend and all, I know she cares what you think."
"If we're such good friends, how come she couldn't tell me about this before?"
"Huh. I guess you better ask her that."
"Yeah, I guess I should," Daria agreed, glancing towards the door.
"So, do you want to go up to her room or should I call her down here?"
"She's home? I thought she'd still be out running."
Trent looked at the clock. "No, she's usually home by now these days."
Daria walked up the stairs and knocked lightly on Jane's door.
After a moment, the door opened partway. Jane stood there, a look of surprise on her face, holding a paintbrush and palette in one hand. "Well, I didn't think you'd be over quite this soon."
"Apparently not," Daria said, nudging the door open the rest of the way.
Quinn stood in the center of the room, not far from Jane's easel. Her arms were outstretched, as if she was preparing for an Olympic high-dive. She was swathed in various pieces of paint-splattered fabric. In several places, it was hard to tell where the paint and fabric ended and Quinn began.
"Your after-school run?" Daria asked Jane, nodding towards Quinn.
Jane responded with a small smile and a nod.
Daria looked at Quinn. "Your Fashion Club meeting?" she asked her sister, nodding towards Jane.
Quinn gave a small smile and a nod of her own.
"Well, that answers the question of when you were finding time to see each other. Only a million more to go."
"Come in, Daria," Jane said, "let's talk."
Daria entered the room. Glancing at Quinn, she said, "Actually, I'd kind of like to talk in private."
"Considering the circumstances, I think anything we say can be shared with everyone here." Jane set her palette down and sat on the bed. "Oh, you can put your arms down, Quinn," she added.
Quinn brought her arms down and started rubbing them with her hands. She kept standing where she was, fixing Daria with a nervous, worried look.
"I don't know," Daria said, "this is a lot to take in."
"Well how do you think we feel, Daria? This hasn't been exactly easy on us, you know," Jane said, a little defensively.
"Look, I can handle the fact that you're gay."
"Uh-huh," Jane said, raising an eyebrow.
"And I can handle the fact that you're gay," Daria said, turning to look at Quinn.
Quinn just gave a slight smile in response.
Daria turned back to Jane. "But you are dating my sister. How am I supposed to handle that?"
"Well, I don't know Daria," Jane said indignantly, "you're just going to have to face the fact that I love Quinn."
"So what am I, chopped liver?" Daria practically shouted. She immediately covered her mouth with her hands, shocked at the emotional question that escaped her lips.
Jane and Quinn were equally shocked at Daria's outburst. After a moment, Jane turned to look at Quinn. "Uh, I've got the textures and colors down, Quinn, why don't you go shower off?"
"Okay,..." Quinn said, taking a nervous step towards the bed.
Jane got up and intercepted her. "Go on, it'll be okay," she said, squeezing Quinn's hand and giving her a peck on the cheek.
Once Quinn had scooted out of the room, Jane resumed her place on the bed. "Come here, Daria. Sit down," she said, patting the spot on the bed next to her.
Daria had stayed standing where she was, red-faced. At Jane's prompting, she slowly sat down next to her. Unable to look her friend in the eye, Daria kept her gaze firmly fixed on the floor.
"You know, I still want you to be my best friend, Daria. That hasn't changed. Um, do you still want me as a best friend?"
"Yes," Daria replied quietly, without looking up.
"Can I kiss you, Daria?" Jane asked, leaning forward.
"What?" Daria asked, surprised. Jane had closed her eyes and brought her lips into a light pucker. As she leaned in closer, Daria found herself backing away, apprehensive of what her friend was doing.
Jane opened her eyes and leaned back. "You see? A part of me does want to kiss you, but even more, I want to kiss someone who wants to be kissed. What would have happened if I'd fallen in love with you and tried that?"
"Um, I would have let you down gently?" Daria said feebly.
"Look, it doesn't matter. I wouldn't expect you to do anything but be yourself. And that's what I'm doing. This is who I am now."
"I get that," Daria said, looking Jane in the eye again, "I really do. It's just, why..."
"Why Quinn?" Jane asked knowingly.
"Well," Jane said, mulling it over, " I guess you can blame Quinn for that."
"Let me give you a little background, first. I only just recently realized I was a lesbian. I know I made out with some boys and I dated Tom, but I wasn't... satisfied, I guess. There was something that just wasn't there, and I didn't realize what it was. I guess I was pursuing boys because I thought it was the only option."
"So when did you realize there were other... options?"
"Not right away. The first time, I guess, was when I stayed at your house for a few days when my whole family was in town. Remember when Quinn came in and dragged me to her room to ask my opinion on her make-up?"
"Well, after I gave her my opinion, she kissed me. Out of 'gratitude'," Jane said, using her fingers to make the quote marks.
"'Gratitude'," Daria repeated, mimicking the quote marks.
"I really didn't think much of it at the time," Jane said with a shrug, "but it turns out she contrived the whole thing just to get me alone."
"Wait a second. You were alone with her before then. What about the time she spent the night over here? You were ready to shove her out of a moving car by the time we got back."
"Of course I was. She chattered nonsense almost nonstop the entire time she was over here."
"So, I talk when I'm nervous," Quinn said entering the room. She had a large towel wrapped around her, and one wrapped around her hair.
"And when you're calm. And when you're happy. And when you're sad," Daria said automatically.
Quinn walked over to stand next to Jane, who put a protective arm around her waist. "Those were less than ideal circumstances, Daria," Jane admonished.
"Yeah, I mean, I wanted to find a way to be alone with your art fri- I mean, Jane, but not like that, after that stuff with Sandi, Tiffany, and Stacy and all," Quinn said.
"Speaking of your Fashion Club cronies, what about them?"
"Um, they're... not-" Quinn began.
"Never mind," said Daria, cutting her off, "I suddenly got a picture in my head worse than you and Jane together."
"I'll try to take that as a compliment," Jane said.
"So how did you two finally get together?" Daria asked, finding herself genuinely, if not morbidly, curious at this point.
"That's sort of funny," Jane began, "One day, I was out running and there was Quinn on the corner in a brand-new running outfit."
Quinn rolled her eyes in embarrassment.
"She tried to talk to me and tell me how she had just taken up running herself," Jane continued, "but I completely blew her off. I figured she was just trying to get dating tips for some jock or something. Anyway, every so often I'd see her out there, usually the same spot, like she was waiting for me. And, yeah, turns out she was. Eventually, she started running with me, although at first I'd usually ditch her pretty early on."
"I notice you never mentioned a new running partner, either," Daria said flatly.
"Like I said, at first, I didn't think much of it. Besides, your sister is never the most popular topic of conversation with you, anyway."
"Point taken. Continue," Daria said.
"Well, one day she managed to keep up with me the whole way. I was impressed enough to invite her in for some water, and then she asked me if I wanted a foot massage, and, well, one thing led to another."
"Wait. You're admitting she seduced you?" Daria asked, almost incredulously.
"Daria, if nothing could have happened, nothing would have happened. I admit I was surprised at first, but more by the fact that I found I was... responding, than to what she was actually doing."
"So you responded, and that equals love?"
"Not right away, but we kept seeing each other, and..." Jane shrugged, "here we are."
"Yeah. Here we are," Daria said impassively.
"Look Daria, you and I are friends. Good friends-"
Daria put her face back in her hands. "Oh, great. A 'let's-just-be-friends' speech."
"Look it's not that I don't think you're pretty or anything, it's just that you never seemed, y'know, attracted to women."
"Ch'yuh," Daria said, holding her palms out at both of them.
"Well, let's just say Quinn has more of the qualities I'm looking for in a girlfriend."
"Such as, she likes to kiss girls."
That brought Daria up short. "Okay, Quinn," she said focusing her attention on her sister, "let's talk about that. If you've known for so long that you like girls, what was with all the boys?"
"Geez, Daria, there's lots of reasons for that," Quinn began. "I mean, I like being popular, and that means dating boys. I may not want to do any, y'know, stuff with them, but I like going out on dates and to parties, and having boys do things for me, and I guess that part's sort of wrong, but they seem to like it, plus I figured I wouldn't meet any girls just by sitting around the house, but I guess I was sorta wrong about that because I wouldn't have noticed Jane if you hadn't brought her over our place."
Daria looked back at Jane. "I still can't believe you're having sex with someone so shallow."
"Number one," Jane said, "I think if you give her a chance and stop judging her by your own standards, you'll find that most of her so-called shallowness is just a front to keep the world at bay. Let me know if that sounds familiar, by the way. Number two, we aren't having sex."
"What? But aren't- I mean, you're... Don't lesb-" Daria cut herself off. She was sputtering, and realizing that most of the images she had been torturing herself with might not have a basis in reality.
"Well, come on, Daria," Quinn said, "just because we're dating doesn't automatically mean we're having sex. I mean, we've cuddled a little. Okay, we've cuddled a lot, but we haven't done anything that anyone would consider sex. Aside from everything else, we are both minors still, so maybe we should wait anyway. And it's not like we don't want to have sex, but we want to wait for sometime special-"
"Rule One, Quinn," Jane cut in.
Quinn immediately clammed up and looked down at the floor. Daria, for the umpteenth time that day, was stunned.
"What was that?" Daria asked Jane, indicating the now silent Quinn.
"Quinn," Jane said, "tell Daria Rule One."
"Quinn doesn't talk," Quinn said, mock-petulantly.
"How?" Daria asked, full of curiosity.
"Well, nervous or not, she does like to go on, doesn't she? Early on, I decided that if our relationship was going to have a chance, we needed to institute some ground rules. That was the first one I set down."
"Does she have some rules for you?"
"How many involve pastels?"
"I don't know if I can get used to this," Daria said, shaking her head.
"Here, I picked up some pamphlets on gay teen issues," Jane said, indicating a small pile on the floor, "I got them from Mr. O'Neill yesterday. Some of them offer some pretty good advice on how to deal with this."
"So that's what you were talking to Mr. O'Neill about."
"Yeah, I told him they were for a friend, but for some reason, he sort of assumed it was my friend who was gay, and, well, I didn't really correct him," Jane said sheepishly.
"Great. So now the faculty of Lawndale High thinks I'm gay."
"Now that I think about it, he did mention something about winning a bet."
"I suppose it doesn't matter, since it seems I'm going to be spending the rest of my school years in my room with nothing to do anyway."
"We can still hang out, Daria. Now that you know, the three of us can do stuff together," Jane said, cheerfully.
"Jane, one of the reasons I hang out with you is to get away from my family, including my sister."
"Quinn won't be around all the time. She still has the Fashion Club and other popular person stuff. And when she is around, I think I can do quite a lot to suppress her more annoying qualities," Jane smiled up at Quinn, who returned the smile broadly.
"I still don't know..."
"Daria, you and I are used to being outcasts," Jane said turning back to Daria, "Quinn is risking everything if people find out about us. Can't you give it a try? For my sake, at least?"
"I guess. There is one more thing, though."
"Does this mean Tom is available?"
Quinn gasped. "You like a boy, Daria? That's great! You'll need a new outfit and hairstyle. I can give you a makeover if you want and-"
"Rule One, Quinn," Daria said quickly. Quinn instantly shut up.
Jane threw Daria a satisfied smirk. She stood and grabbed up her brush and palette and walked over to the easel. Using her brush, she pointed Quinn back to the spot where she had been modeling before. Quinn walked over and resumed her former pose.
Daria watched Jane paint for a minute, and then picked up a pamphlet off the floor. She moved to her usual reading position on the bed. "You know," she murmured, "I may get used to this after all."
There you go. My second foray into the Daria fan fiction community. Please send me feedback at Renfield@meerkatmeade.com.
Disclaimer: Daria and all related characters were created by Glenn Eichler and Susie Lewis and are trademarks of MTV Networks, Inc., a division of VIACOM international, Inc. All rights reserved by trademark holders U. S. National and International Law and Convention.
"Kiss Until" is a work of fiction produced solely for fun, and is not meant to be distributed for profit. It may be distributed to Daria fans everywhere, provided the author's name and e-mail address are left intact.