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.
Original characters and plot copyright Richard J. Lobinske. 2005.
This is the forty-second story in the Falling into College series.
"One of these days, we're gonna learn not to do this during finals week," Karen Myerson groused as she shook empty pizza delivery boxes down into a large plastic trash bag.
Daria Morgendorffer picked up empty two liter soda bottles and dropped them into a large, yellow recycling bin. "If we haven't after two years, what makes you think we will in the future?"
"Lightweights," Jane Lane said with a grin as she added more take-out food bags to Karen's bag. "You shoulda seen the old Mystik Spiral/Harpies get-togethers."
"It's not fair comparing professionals with amateurs," Daria said while picking up the recycle bin.
Karen stepped onto the boxes to push them further into the trash bag. "Too bad I'm gonna miss Mystik Spiral's next show, but I really want to see my new nephew."
"You're a real twisted cruller," Jane said as she wagged her finger at Karen. "If you're disappointed about missing my brother's band next week."
"I've heard worse."
"Jane and I have heard the Lawndale High Marching Band, but like I said, don't compare professionals with amateurs," Daria noted as she dropped the bin and started picking up bottles from another part of the living room.
"Try hearing a band with their, um, skill level, trying to play bluegrass. The sound's been known to cause cardiac arrhythmia in small animals."
"Ouch." Jane shivered and said, "That is scary."
After working a few more scraps into the bag, Karen tied it closed. "Still, it's cool that your brother is kind of making a living in a band."
"'Kind of' is the operative term. If Trent's gonna pull off buying Casa Lane on more than just Lindy's paycheck, he needs to do more than 'kind of' make a living," Jane replied.
"Each gig here in Boston gives them more exposure," Daria said as she hefted the bin again. "But I'm sure something a little more reliable in the paycheck department will help them out."
The next morning, Karen loaded her truck with everything to go back to Georgia. She cinched the last of the tie-down straps holding a tarp over the truck bed and said, "There, that does it. I'm going to look for a topper when I'm back home. This tarp's a pain in the ass."
Her turn to look at her roommates was interrupted by the arrival of a white sedan. A brunette stepped out and shyly approached. Erin Danielson said, "I hope you don't mind me stopping by."
"Not at all."
Daria said, "Hi, Erin."
Jane gave Erin a fast embrace. "Howya doin'?"
"Not bad. Still getting used to city life."
"Yeah, that does take a while," Karen said. "You here to see me off?"
"Yes. As a thank you."
"I didn't do that much, except maybe to keep a handle on Jane's ideas for cool apartments."
"But, you helped."
"You're welcome, then."
"Your boyfriend's not here?"
"We, um..." Karen said with a blush, "...said goodbye last night. A little more privately."
Erin asked, "Daria, Jane, what about yours?"
Daria explained, "Michael's working this morning."
"Did he get that job in the new lab he was talking about?"
Daria shook her head. "No. Competition was tough and he didn't get it. So, he'll be full-time with the Park Service over the summer."
Erin nodded. "I see. What about yours, Jane?"
"Vance has their finals next week, so Mack's busy studying."
"Are you staying here or going back to Lawndale for the summer?"
Jane pointed up to the apartment. "Here. It'll be a little less manic than back home, what with my brother getting married and then having two newlyweds traipsing around the house."
"Also working full-time?"
"Not quite. Someone here..." Jane pushed on Daria's shoulder. "...has been a bad influence and I'm adding art education as a minor. I'll go half-time to get some of the core courses and work the rest."
Erin smiled. "Yeah, Mom used to worry about how Aunt Helen was raising her daughters."
"We worried about it, too," Daria said with a knowing smile. "Speaking of your mother, how's she doing?"
"She started working as a receptionist for Mid-Virginia Christian Charities. She wasn't happy about the pay, but I convinced her it was normal for a position like that."
"How about getting used to working full-time?"
"I think she'll be griping about that for some time to come."
Daria nodded. "Any word from Grandma if the guest house was sold?"
"Not yet. It's only been on the market a month."
"I hope she gets what she wants for it. That would just about clear her credit card debt."
"Hey, folks. I've got a long honkin' drive ahead of me and I need to get going." Karen hugged her roommates and added, "Daria, Jane, try not to wreck the place while I'm gone. Remember, only Trent and Lindy are allowed to use my room when the band's in town."
Jane said, "And we'll try to keep them off the rafters."
Karen next said, "Erin, good luck."
"Have a good summer," Daria told Karen.
Jane waved her finger at Karen's arm. "Try not to break anything this time, will ya?"
"It's not on my top-ten list of things to do."
Erin nodded. "Have a safe trip, Karen."
Karen sat in her truck and started it. She stared ahead for a few moments and then said through the open window. "It just hit me. We're halfway through college already. Seems like time..."
Jane interrupted with, "Don't say it. It means we're starting to get old and I refuse to."
Karen nodded. "Okay. Take care, everyone."
With a sigh, she backed her truck up, drove down the driveway and around the house to the street.
After lunch, Daria came into the apartment sorting through the mail. Jane, sprawled on the sofa watching television, half-waved.
The television announcer said, "He once ran for vice-president, now the old vice returns for a new generation. Penguin lust! Next, when the Sick, Sad World marathon continues."
Daria stopped at the kitchen table and started dropping the envelopes into four rough stacks. "Junk...junk...forward to Karen...Jane, another overdue parking fine from BFAC..."
Jane looked over the sofa top. "It's a racket. I'll deal with it Monday."
"Brushes-to-Go flyer...credit card offer junk...Victoria's...how'd I get on that mailing list?...and my Raft registration confirmation."
Daria opened the letter and stared at it in shock for several seconds before exclaiming, "What the hell?!"
"Hmm?" Jane curiously asked.
"I'm not listed for any classes. The registrar lost my pre-registration for this semester."
"You did it online, how could..."
"It's the Raft computer network. Someone in the server room could've belched and caused a data drop. I've heard the techs say it's held together with duct tape and zip ties."
"So get online and re-register."
"Too late. I'm gonna have to wait until Monday and go through Add/Drop. And since this is saying I haven't registered for summer at all, I can't use the online Add/Drop system. I have to physically go into the registrar's office and activate my registration for summer. Plus, since I'm registering this late, I'll need to get some exemptions for classes that have already filled."
"So you go there Monday morning before work: how bad can it be?"
Daria sat down at the table and rested her head on her arms. "I wish you hadn't said that."
Grateful for the staff parking decal she had through her University Press job, Daria pulled her black sedan into a space and cut it off. She drained a travel mug of coffee and tossed it onto the passenger floorboard of the car. "Ugh. This is way too early in the morning."
Daria stacked a paperback book onto a folder containing her online registration printout and other relevant or possibly relevant papers. She climbed out of her car, locked it, and headed across the Quad to Founder's Hall and the Registrar's office. When she got there, a line was already formed outside the door.
Daria wandered to the back of the line and took her place among the already bored and frustrated students. Folder tucked under one arm, she opened her book and read while waiting. More gathered behind her in the cool morning damp. Aside from the rustle of feet and the occasional cough, the line was silent as they waited.
Amoeba-like, the gathered students sighed and shuffled forward as a cautious clerk opened the office door. Inside, only three of the six registration stations were staffed, probably because of the anticipated lighter need during the summer. The line split into three at the door, each going to a station while the remaining students continued to wait outside. A low buzz started as those at the front of the line starting explaining their plight to the staff.
As Daria anticipated, the line's advance was painfully slow. Stiff, she arched her back and rolled her shoulders back to stretch and relieve the muscles. A tall, blond haired man behind her stepped to the side a bit and watched. Daria straightened and curiously asked, "What are you looking at?"
The guy scratched his jaw and said, "Well, what you were showing. That little maneuver was hard to miss."
"I was stretching my back muscles."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"If you say so. But you still got my attention."
Irked, Daria snapped, "That I'm not interested in."
The guy shook his head in exasperation and turned away, muttering, "Damn teases."
"Jerk," Daria mumbled.
Damn, I wish I'd stopped at a bathroom before getting in line. Fighting back the discomfort, Daria finally reached one of the stations. She opened the folder to the printed copy of her online registration and said, 'Hi, I'm Daria L. Morgendorffer."
The thirtyish woman behind the counter said, "Student ID number please."
"Thank you," the clerk said as she typed the number on a keyboard. "Here you are. What's the problem?"
"I registered for summer last March with the online system." Daria pushed a paper across the counter. "I received this letter Saturday that says I'm not registered."
"That's what I'm seeing here."
Daria pushed the printout across the counter. "Here's my online confirmation."
The woman looked at the paper for a second and said, "Looks like something in the network ate it. The viruses get grumpy if you don't feed them regularly."
Daria stood without reacting to the joke.
"I see that one didn't work. I assume you want to re-register."
The clerk typed more and clicked several places with a mouse. "Everything's in. The system will update your records overnight and you can add your classes tomorrow through Add/Drop."
"Sorry, best I can do."
Sighing, Daria agreed, "Tomorrow it is."
"You better check if the classes you registered for are still open."
"I will, thanks."
Daria collected her papers and trudged out of the office. "Great, another early day tomorrow."
Carrying her lunch on a tray, Daria followed Michael to a booth and sat down across from him. The buffet restaurant was relatively empty compared to when classes were in session at Raft. Daria took her plate and glass from the tray and handed it to the red-haired man, who placed it with his and set them in the space provided on a raised divider between booths.
Daria took a long drink and felt some of the day's tension slip away. "I managed to get an override for Literary Criticism. Classroom Reading was filled, but it looks like I can get in Middle School Literature. The rest I can shuffle sections and hopefully get, providing..."
"That sounds like a big, 'providing.'"
"I can talk Dr. Findlay into letting me do a split schedule to get a Tuesday-Thursday class at three."
"Thanks. I'd almost considered just letting the whole thing drop and working full-time like you are, but I'd probably try to kill my boss before the end of summer."
"And just the thought of how much flak your sister would give you for wearing an orange jump suit completely nixes that idea."
Daria let out a brief laugh. "To top things off, I had some jerk leering at me and acting as if I'd been prancing around flirting or something. At least he had enough sense to recognize a 'not interested' and go away."
"He probably thought he was God's gift and that you couldn't resist."
"He was acting like I'd been trying to get his attention; it was creepy after the business with Upchuck."
Michael looked at his plate for a moment before saying, "You, uh...tend to forget how pretty you are. He may have been looking, because guys tend to look."
"He wasn't looking, he was ogling."
"Not everyone's very discreet. I'm surprised it hasn't happened before."
Michael sighed as he tried to figure a way out of the hole he was digging himself into. Cautious, he said, "Do you believe me when I say you're beautiful?"
"Of course I do."
"Then doesn't it make sense that others will find you attractive also?"
"Yes, it does. That still doesn't rate rude leering."
"No, it doesn't. But like I said, not everyone's very discreet."
Daria nodded her head and sunk down an inch in her seat. "I still don't like it."
"Nobody said you had to."
Following a few seconds of silence, they started their meals. A minute later, Daria leaned across the table and narrowed her eyes. "So, I take it you've been 'discreet' about your observations?"
Michael closed his eyes. "Just when I thought I'd gotten myself out of the hole."
"I don't like splitting up a work day. You lose productivity when someone has to settle in and get ready to go twice." Behind his ornate desk, Dr. Findlay sorted through Daria's notes on class schedules. "Hmm. Your Monday/Wednesday schedule has all early classes. You can work eleven to five on those days, and then a full day on Friday. That'll give you twenty hours and you only have to put up with me three days a week."
"No option here, right?"
"Sure you have an option. You don't have to work here. Cheap and Cheesy Pizza's usually hiring drivers."
"The Monday, Wednesday, Friday schedule will be fine."
Daria rose to leave. As she reached the door, Dr. Findlay said, "Good luck on clearing up the registration mess. There are some things about college that never change."
Jane looked up from her computer at Daria. "Yep, sounds like registration screw-ups suck big-time."
"They do. Not to mention the fact that you have to wait in line with your fellow students to get anything done."
"Uh-oh, sounds like another story."
"After standing in line for an hour, I stretched my back and noticed some guy staring at my chest like I was Brittany Taylor or something. Michael said that some guys just didn't get the concept of discretion, but this guy was over the top, and got bent out of shape when I told him to stop."
Jane rested an arm on the back of her chair. "You were doing what just before?"
"Stretching my back. It was stiff after getting up early and standing in line."
"Humor me. Do exactly what you did."
"What? Oh, okay, if it'll amuse you."
When Daria arched and rolled her shoulders back, Jane said, "Stop right there. Don't move."
Jane grabbed the loose full-length mirror she used for self-portraits and held it up. "Daria, take a look at yourself."
"What do you mean?" Seeing her reflection, Daria slumped forward and dropped her face onto one hand. "Oh, God."
"You're not an underdeveloped fifteen-year old any more. You need to be careful where you point those things."
"No wonder the guy thought I was flirting. Crap."
"I'm sure more than one guy noticed. Males have a radar for those things."
"I'm sorry, there's a financial hold on your account and you can't register until it's cleared. You need to take care of that at the Financial Services office and then we can try again," another clerk told Daria the following morning.
"Hold? What for?"
"I don't know; you'll have to ask at Financial Services."
"Couldn't someone have mentioned it yesterday?"
The clerk rotated her monitor some for Daria to barely see it. "If the person only looked at the main screen to see if you were registered, it wouldn't have shown up." He mouse-clicked and a second screen appeared. "Holds are shown on the Registration Activity screen."
Frustrated, Daria said, "Great. Well, I better get over there."
The clerk turned the monitor back, exited from Daria's computer file, and said, "Next."
The students in line outside Financial Services were in an even darker mood than at the Registrar. Some were visibly angry, others looked terrified of what was to come. Daria checked her watch and sighed. "I'm not even going to have time for lunch at this rate."
"I'd like to be able to buy lunch," a young man nearby grumbled. "Maybe they'll get off their asses with my financial aid today and I can."
"Uh, sorry," Daria replied, feeling a little ashamed for her complaining.
"Eh, don't worry about it. I'll go hit the Vegan Pagan free lunch line and sleep through their sermon. Probably shouldn't have bought that second keg last weekend."
"Good bet," Daria agreed and turned away.
"At last." Daria reached a bank-teller style service window. "I need to find out why I have a financial hold on my records."
The clerk took a quick drink from a coffee-stained mug and said, "Student number, please."
The man entered the number and said, "Daria Morgendorffer?"
"Yes, that's me."
He studied the monitor, scrolling through a couple screens before saying, "Ah, here it is. A one dollar fine from the library dated February 7."
"My whole registration has been tied up because of a lousy, one dollar library fine?"
"Policy. You can't register until all outstanding financial obligations have been fulfilled."
Daria tightly pinched the bridge of her nose. "Okay, let me pay it so I can get things going."
"We don't accept library fines here. You'll have to go to the library circulation desk to pay. Bring the receipt back here and we can clear the hold."
Daria looked at her watch. "I don't have time to run to the library and then stand in line here again. I have to be at work."
"If you put the receipt in the outside drop-box before four this afternoon, it'll be processed today."
"I'll barely have time but I can do that. Thanks."
Crap, crap, crap. Her mood growing fouler, Daria stomped back across the Quad to the library. Along the way, she pulled out her cell phone and dialed.
In his dorm room, Michael answered, "Hello."
"Hi, it's me."
"I was beginning to wonder."
"I'm sorry, I can't see you for lunch today. I still have two and a half trips across campus to make before work."
"Still trying to get registered. They say I have a one dollar library fine, which I don't remember getting, that has to be paid before I'm cleared. And then, I have to take proof of payment back to Financial Services before I go to work, since I won't have time during break or after."
"You've got to be kidding."
"You don't know how much I wish I was."
"Thanks. Any luck finding an apartment?"
"None. I'll try some after work today."
"Good luck, too."
"I'll need it."
"I'll see you for lunch tomorrow, okay?"
"I'll be here."
Thankful for no line, Daria went straight to the circulation desk and presented her student ID and library card. "Hi, I need to pay a fine to get a hold off my registration."
The student assistant scanned the barcode on the card and looked at her monitor. She frowned and said, "You don't have any outstanding fines."
Loud for a library, Daria exclaimed, "What?"
"You don't owe us anything."
"There's a hold on my registration because Financial Services says I have a one-dollar library fine that I haven't paid."
"Not according to this."
Several library staff members looked over.
"Sorry, but our computer says you don't owe anything. Sounds like they've screwed up again."
Daria leaned against the counter and massaged her temples. "Look, could you please print what your records show so I can take it to Financial Services?"
"Um, if you're gonna do that, you need an official copy. Just a minute." The young lady disappeared into the cluster of offices behind the desk, leaving Daria waiting.
Several minutes later, she returned with a middle-aged woman. The younger explained to Daria, "Financial Services won't take anything from us unless it's notarized."
"Ah, another detail they forgot to include," Daria said with disgust.
The student printed the record screen and the older staff member promptly impressed it with her stamp and signed. She handed it to Daria. "There you go, miss."
"Do you know if I can put this in Financial Services drop-box? Like they said I could with a paid receipt."
The notary said, "I wouldn't. They have that for payments and receipts. Anything else gets taken care of last, so it may not get passed on for a day or two."
"Of course, that would be too easy."
On the library steps, Daria looked across the Quad and thought, At least I don't have to march across that again and back today. Plus, I have a little time for lunch, even if alone.
She stopped at a hot dog cart to buy her lunch and sat on a bench outside one of the lecture halls to eat.
Another day blown on this stupidity. Hopefully I can get the hold lifted tomorrow, activate my registration and add my classes on Thursday. Dammit. I hope none of my classes close before then.
She stretched and massaged her shorts-clad legs, tired from standing or walking the entire morning. Daria had just picked up her lunch when she remembered. Oh, damn. Trent and the band's showing up tomorrow for their gig. They'll be out until oh-dark-thirty and will be loud enough to wake me when they do get in. Great.
"Nice legs, too," the blond from the previous day's encounter said. He stood on the sidewalk, weight shifted back and arms folded.
Quickly pulling her feet under the bench, Daria said, "Oh, um, hi. Look, I...was a little abrupt with you yesterday."
"You tried to snap my head off. But, who's keeping track?"
"I'm trying to apologize. I was tired and sore and I wasn't paying attention."
"So you didn't mean to make a spectacle of yourself?"
"Whatever." The man shrugged and continued on his way down the sidewalk.
Daria watched for a couple moments. Okay, still a jerk.
The Financial Services clerk said, "My screen's showing that you still haven't paid your balance. I can't remove the hold."
Daria tapped the notarized printout from the library. "I just told you. I don't have an outstanding fine, so there's nothing to pay. Here's the statement from the library saying that."
"Hmm." The clerk scanned the paper. "Looks like the library mistakenly reported you to us as having a fine. Probably mistyped or misread a student number or something. Just a minute."
"The detective work might be fascinating to you, but I only want the hold removed."
The clerk rolled his eyes, picked up a phone and dialed. "Hi. I need someone with admin privileges to clear a hold...The library again...Okay." The hung up the phone and told Daria, "A supervisor is needed to do that. Please have a seat and she'll call you."
Snapping awake from her doze, Daria said, "Morgendorffer. Yes, that's me."
A gray-haired woman stood in front of Daria. "I understand you need a hold cleared. May I see the form from the library?"
Daria shifted in her chair and located a folder. "Here." After she passed the page to the lady, Daria stiffly stood.
They went into an office behind the service desk, where the supervisor sat down and started working at her computer. Daria took a seat and checked her watch. Damn, I was out for a while.
"Gah, I wish the library would tie into our system instead of stubbornly hanging onto their old dinosaur," the woman complained as she typed and shifted between several screens.
The buck never stops around here.
"Done." The woman spun on her chair and placed the notarized form onto the platen of a small copier. "I have to keep the original for our records; I'm making you a copy for yours."
"I can register now?" Daria cautiously asked.
"As soon as you can get over there." She gave the copy to Daria. "Here you go. Have a nice day."
The woman gave Daria a quick smile and picked up a packet from her inbox. The smile disappeared. "Not another one. I'm getting too old for this."
Daria stepped out of the door and walked to the Registrar as fast as she could.
Arriving home, Daria saw a huge, black SUV parked along the driveway. "I see they made it."
Inside, the four members of Mystik Spiral were gathered around the table, assaulting a stack of pizzas. Jane and a woman wearing her blond hair in a pony tail watched them with amusement while each nibbling on a slice.
Jane waved at Daria and pointed to the kitchen. Daria followed them and said, "Hi, Lindy. How you motivated them to leave before noon is beyond me...or did they decide to stay up all night because it was easier?"
Lindy gave Daria a hug. "They stayed up and slept the whole way here, leaving me to drive that Suburban Assault Vehicle by myself." She released her and added, "I'm glad Jane had the pizzas waiting when we got here so they can stoke up for tonight."
Jane asked, "How'd the fight with the forces of evil go today?"
"Between Financial Services and the Registrar, I blew another whole morning. I'll find out tomorrow if I really can register for classes."
"Registration problems?" Lindy asked.
"Yes. Bureaucratic idiots. My registration was held for a nonexistent library fine and I've already spent three days trying to clear it up."
"You're not alone. During my first senior year, Lawndale State somehow thought I was a freshman again and wouldn't let me register for upper division classes. What a mess."
Jane nudged Lindy. "You need to show her."
"Oh, gosh!" Lindy said with a happy grin. "Just a minute."
Lindy went into the living room and returned with a worn notebook. She pulled out a photo and showed it to Daria. "This is what I picked out for bridesmaid dresses. And, Quinn found a place in Boston you can get them fitted."
The sleeveless dress was pale yellow with a lace accent around the neckline. Also printed on the page was a pair of yellow dress shoes with a low heel.
Daria said, "They look nice. And, the shoes don't have high heels."
Lindy continued, "I'm going to be shaking enough as it is; I didn't want to try to walk on heels and figured you didn't either."
Jane noticed the remaining hesitancy in Daria. "You can tolerate wearing hose for a couple hours. They're not that bad."
"I suppose it won't kill me."
"So it'll make you stronger," Jane said and smirked.
"I don't think Nietzsche had hosiery in mind when he wrote that."
Lindy placed a hand on Daria's shoulder. "That's why he always underestimated women."
Trent wandered into the kitchen and stopped. "Hey, Daria. When did you get here?"
"Hi, Trent. A few minutes ago. You were a little distracted."
He laughed and coughed. "Guess I was. Long trip, you know. Good pizza, Janey."
Jane leaned to suspiciously look past Trent into the dining area. "Is there any left?"
"Uh, no." Trent noticed the look Jane and Lindy gave him and then at Daria. "Oops."
Daria said, "I'll fix myself something quick. When do you need to be at the club to set up?"
"Jane, that place is over by MIT, isn't it?"
Jane nodded. "Yeah, Mystik Spiral's gonna play for a bunch of real techno geeks."
Daria said, "Trent, with rush hour traffic, you better leave pretty soon."
"But, it's not that far..."
Jane interrupted. "Trust us. It'll seem like it."
"Um. Okay. Better get everyone ready. Sorry about the pizza, Daria."
"It's not that big of a deal, Trent. We'll see you later."
Daria and Michael could tell the club catered to the local engineering students. The upper walls and ceiling were decorated with a bizarre array of contraptions, the product of many years of student projects. Students milled around the tables and the bar as they wended their way through to where Jane and Lindy were sitting.
"What do you think?" Jane asked.
Daria replied as she sat down, "Wow, a nerd meat market."
Lindy laughed and nodded. "No kidding. I had two guys hit on me just trying to reach the bathroom. They disappeared real fast when I said the lead singer was my fiancé."
Michael said, "It was weird the way people were watching us when we came in."
Jane shook her head. "Look at the number of guys to gals in here."
"Um, a lot more guys."
"And you showed up with a girl."
"Yeah. So what's that...oh. I get it."
Jane laughed. "You two are so clueless at times."
Jesse, Nick and Max took the stage and prepared to perform. Daria noticed that they seemed oddly nervous. "What's up? They've performed for years; why the stage fright?"
"I don't know," Lindy said. "Trent's coming over. I'll ask."
Trent, as anxious as the rest of the band, squatted next to Lindy and embraced her. "There's a recording scout here tonight. This could be our break."
Lindy kissed him and said, "I'm right here."
"Thanks, Lindy. I needed that."
Appearing restored, Trent went to join the rest of the band. Lindy closed her eyes and held the table.
Jane put a hand on hers. "You all right?"
"I'm scared of what being turned down by the scout will do to them. And, I'm just as scared of what might happen if the scout likes them."
Jane returned from the restroom with a look of shock and disgust. "That proves high intelligence doesn't prevent the use of really, really bad pick-up lines."
Daria shifted an inch closer to Michael. "I'll take your word for it. And that gives me more incentive to just hold it until we get out of here." She whispered to him, "But we'll find a place as soon as possible after that."
Jane sat back down. "Michael does seem to be making a good jerk repellent for you."
"Glad to be of service?" he said.
"I wish Mack were here." Jane sighed, said, "The hell with it," and scooted her chair next to Michael. "Daria, I'm not gonna kiss your boyfriend, but I hope you don't mind me getting within his protective circle."
Quietly, Lindy moved her chair to Jane's old place, so that all four were closely packed together facing the stage. "At least until Trent's off the stage."
Several minutes later, a group of guys walked past them, complaining among themselves.
"More like greedy bastard."
"What's he got?"
"Must have something."
"Tell me about it. He looks as geeky as you."
"Bet he's rich."
Daria told Michael, "Don't let this go to your head."
Love set the day,
that made our eyes to see.
And put us on the way,
To where we had to be.
Trent finished the song and Jesse strummed a flourish with his rhythm guitar. Trent then took a breath and said, "Thank you. We're Mystik Spiral, and we're gonna stick with that name."
The crowd cheering was favorable and the band stepped down in good spirits after their second set. They pulled another table over to join Lindy, Jane and Daria and Michael.
Max air-drummed on the table and said, "We were hot tonight. Nick, you were smokin'."
Nick beamed and said, "And your drumming set the rhythm just right."
"Best we've played," Max added.
"Yeah, we were cool," Jesse confirmed.
Trent sat last. "Good crowd."
Lindy put her arm around Trent's waist and held him close.
Max rubbed his hands together. "I hope we impressed that scout with our criminale sound."
"Yeah, we could start a whole new trend," Nick chimed in.
Jesse said, "The chicks would really dig that."
In low voice, Jane said to Daria, "They haven't changed a bit. If we don't do something, they can go on forever."
Lindy waved her arm and said, "I'm calling a waitress; figure out what you want to drink."
Daria replied to Jane, "Damn, she's good."
Trent thanked the club manager, folded the paycheck and put it into his front pocket. Deflated, he came back to the tables. "Sorry guys, the scout left half an hour ago."
"But he didn't say anything!" Max exclaimed.
Nick struck the table with his fist. "He snubbed us!"
Jesse shook his head. "That's not right."
Trent shrugged, "I guess he just wasn't interested in us."
"How could he not be?" Max shouted.
"You bungled the rhythm beat again, moron!" Nick shot at Max.
"It's because you couldn't play your way out of a wet paper bag!"
Jesse suggested, "Maybe we need to change our name."
"No, we don't!" Trent, Max and Nick chorused.
Groggy from too little sleep, Daria shuffled out of her bathroom and sniffed. "Coffee? Who made coffee this early when Karen's gone?"
"Hi, Daria." Lindy sat on one of the kitchen counters with a mug held in both hands.
"Lindy? What are you doing up?"
"I couldn't sleep."
Daria poured a cup of coffee for herself, added sugar and opened the refrigerator for some milk. "Trent took things hard last night, didn't he?"
Her coffee ready, Daria put the milk back in the refrigerator. "We knew something like this would happen eventually...but, um, it doesn't make it any easier."
"What about you? Are you disappointed the scout wasn't interested in them?"
"I'm glad you and Jane are underage and don't have any booze stashed around here." Lindy stared into her cup. "I looked."
"Well, uh..." Daria stopped, not knowing what to say.
"I'm doing better, now that I've had some coffee. I've stayed sober ever since Quinn convinced me to try, and I plan on staying that way. But the temptation will always be there."
Daria nodded slowly, still speechless.
"Mainly, I'm upset for how much it hurt Trent. As odd as you and Jane find it, I have a sense of security with Trent and where we live I never had before. I'm afraid I'd lose that if they did make it big. And in the long run, I know it wouldn't make Trent happy. Lawndale and our house is his true home."
"I had that feeling about him, too. Which reminds me; how are you going to handle the Wandering Lanes if they all show up? The last time, Trent and Jane took refuge at my parents' house."
"I'm still working on that. But, if I can deal with my mother, I can deal with them."
"Ah," Daria answered, feeling that Lindy's mother was a subject best left alone. Opening a cupboard, she asked, "Do you want something to eat?"
Lindy hopped off of the counter. "That would be a good idea. Thanks."
Daria took down two bowls and a box of cereal. "My breakfasts aren't involved like Karen's."
"Cereal's fine." Lindy patted her hip. "I want to make sure my wedding gown still fits next month."
Still tired, Daria rested her head on the table next to her sub sandwich. "I had to run down signatures for two more overrides to get into filled classes, but I made it. Four freaking days to get my summer classes. I'm glad that ordeal's over."
Michael reached across the table and stroked her hair. "You can rest now. You've beaten back the bureaucracy."
"I'd like to beat them with a stick," Daria grumbled, but also let out a soft sigh in response to Michael's touch.
"Wouldn't do much good; their hides are too thick."
Daria lifted her head just enough to look at him. "Probably the only way to live through the office politics. Survival of the fittest."
"Or should that be thickest?"
"Well, let's forget about that for now. My full-time hours start next week and I won't be able to get over here for lunch for the summer. Let's enjoy this while we can."
Arriving home the following Monday, Daria picked up the mail and started to scan through it on her way up. She stopped on the landing outside the door when she saw a letter from the university library.
"What now?" Daria asked while she tore open the letter.
May 18, 2001
Our records show that DARIA L MORGENDORFFER has been assessed a fine of $1.00 - ONE Dollars and ZERO cents - for overdue library materials. Please remit payment to the Circulation Desk as soon as possible. If payment is not made within 4 (four) weeks of the above date, the fine will be reported to the Financial Services office and a hold placed on your account until payment is made.
Raft University Library Services
Thanks to Kristen Bealer, Ipswichfan and Mr. Orange for beta reading.
December 2005-January 2006