Synopsis: Sequel to Bird on The Wire and an introduction to Part 2.
Warning: This is R rated.
Seven a.m.; Quinn slowly surfaced from deep slumber. With consciousness dawned a sense of warmth… of wonder; a mixture of tingling all over her skin, a flutter that really did feel like butterflies in her stomach.
Smiling, she remembered the feel of Jane’s skin as she lay in bed, in her bed, next to her. Only this time it wasn’t a dream like all the other times. Now it was real. Her body warm...her eyes, blue...Quinn remembered how she had looked at her from the pillow. It was just as she’d imagined it would be. She turned to look at the pillow where Jane's head had lain and saw a single, black hair. Picking it up she smiled a little more, feeling again the taste of Jane’s lips, the softness of her skin, and her smell--not the artificial scent of perfume, but the sweeter, oh infinitely sweeter, musky aroma of a warm body. She sighed, turned on her side, drew her legs up, closed her eyes and snuggled into her pillow.
She giggled when she thought about how Daria had jumped to certain--conclusions--when she’d seen Jane’s clothes on the floor next to the bed that morning. Jane had leaped on the assumption immediately and made a joke of it at Daria’s expense, suggesting that they’d… wow! It wasn’t so long ago that she’d have thought “eeewwww” at the merest suggestion. But not now. No, not now. Jane was so clever, so funny, she had a demonic sense of humour and Quinn just loved it. Chuckling as she saw the empty glass of water, Quinn decided that she wouldn’t tell Daria that Jane had upended the glass when she’d tried to put it back on the coffee table, soaking herself in the process because she had been--distracted. It would be a whole lot more fun...Quinn thought as she flashed a devilish grin...to let Daria think that...Mmmm...Her thoughts drifted in a very pleasurable direction; a wave of warmth spreading over her as she made her way towards the bathroom
As she stripped off her clothes, Quinn's thoughts again turned inward. The realisation that she liked girls more than boys hadn't dawned suddenly. Rather, it had crept up on her over a long time so that, by the time it had become impossible to ignore, it hadn't come as that much of a surprise.
Thinking back, she shook her head in amazement that she hadn't realised sooner. As early as the age of six she'd learned that the easiest and best way to make friends was to keep things simple, not to be challenging. Later people would call it shallowness but, in a six-year-old it was just being cute, making friends easily, and being fun to be around. She enjoyed company and liked being popular long before she gave any thought to boys.
By the time she had started thinking about boys (or, more accurately, when boys had started thinking about her) around the age of thirteen, she had it down to a fine art. Simplicity worked just as well on boys as they did on girls, perhaps better. At fourteen she was perfectly aware that she was attractive and knew how to make the most of it. It wasn't that she was physically attracted to boys--appearances to the contrary; she had been a very late starter in the romance stakes. But being attractive to boys had made her even more attractive to her friends, so she milked it. Besides, she enjoyed the attention.
* * *
Having awakened long before her new lover, Jane, not wanting to disturb Quinn, had quietly slipped downstairs to do some sketching. Seeing the dawn beginning to make its appearance, the raven haired artist decided that it was time to return to her own home--if for no other reason than to let her brother know everything was okay. Clutching her sketch pad as she climbed back up the stairs to Quinn’s room, Jane’s mind raced. Unlike Quinn, this was the second time that Jane had been confronted by her sexuality with unexpected suddenness.
The first time, when Alison had suggested, in anticipation of a conquest, that Jane liked girls she'd been confident in rejecting the proposition. In fact, as she contemplated her reverse painting on the cushion, Jane thought to herself that her work had been a triumph of rejection--affirming once and for all her confidence in both her sexual orientation and herself. Later she'd found herself wondering. Then, as she'd slid downhill into depression, nothing had made much sense or even mattered. No-one cared. Edvard Munch had gotten it right. I stood there, trembling with fear. And I sensed a great, infinite scream pass through nature.
* * *
Quinn adjusted the water temperature and stepped under the shower, the warm cascade lulling her back into a half sleep. She closed her eyes as she started massaging the shampoo into her hair as she let her mind drift back into a half dream, half reverie, her thoughts now wandering in the direction of haute couture. Her love for the world of fashion had come to her while she still lived in Highland. By the time she was fourteen she was already an expert and, when she'd moved to Lawndale, it had broken the ice with Sandi and the others, leading to a meteoric rise to the ranks of the Popular People.
Her thoughts floating back to the subject of her sexual orientation, she remembered the moment when she first began to suspect that something was...different...about her. It was the day that Ramonica had arrived at school in search of new modeling talent. Quinn had jumped at the chance of course. It was expected of her. Ramonica told the girls to run their hands over the bare chests of a group of volunteer studmuffins from the football team and it was clear that they'd enjoyed it. Sandi and Stacy, in fact, had been quite explicit about how much they’d enjoyed it for several days afterward. But Quinn had freaked and, making an excuse, hightailed it for the bathroom as fast as her legs could carry her. But her reason for flight wasn’t what Ramonica or her friends had thought. She remembered sitting on the toilet seat, wondering why the hell she'd been so turned off by just the thought of pawing those bare chests.
Ultimately, she put the whole thing down to her insecurity at having to put on a public display of mock lust rather than prudishness. Oh, she hadn't been revolted, it was just that she found it all silly and embarrassing. What was so great about boys’ chests anyway? If she'd wanted to slobber over them like a puppy dog she'd had plenty of opportunities.
* * *
Entering Quinn’s room, Jane’s heart jumped as she anticipated the sight of her new lover lying asleep in her bed. Seeing instead the empty, unmade bed, a disappointed look crossed her features until she heard the sound of running water. Her lips turning up into a warm smile, she shook her head in amazement as she thought on how Quinn had exploded into her life like a nova, dragging her from the ultimate dark and cold of the interstellar vacuum into the warmth of a Vermont autumn. The gentle touch of her lips had been a life buoy, grasped frantically as she was about to go under for the third time. Jane’s response had been visceral. Then a night of conversation and touches, physical and emotional, like the kiss of soft wings.
Of all people, Quinn?
That was part of the problem, wasn’t it?. Quinn cared, and Jane desperately needed someone who cared. Was that all it was? Jane thought as doubt crept into her mind. After all, Trent cared. Daria cared. It couldn't be just that, could it?
Quinn had recognised the possibility, Jane acknowledged as her eyes explored her redheaded lover’s boudoir, and had made it clear that if that was all it was, she didn't want it. She fleetingly realised how much meaning there was in that.
For an instant she entertained the possibility that she might be just one more conquest for Quinn--another name crossed out in her coral-pink day planner. But she rejected the thought as quickly as it had come.
* * *
Quinn had gone through the motions of showering on autopilot. As she towelled herself off she thought back on her brief modelling experience. She had grown to wonder whether she was just a prude. She certainly acted like one sometimes. After a night out at Chez Pierre each of her beaus in turn had made it clear that they expected a little something in return, only to come away with, at best, a peck on the cheek. Those who couldn't accept that they weren't going to get anything more didn't try again. But many of them seemed to find her even more alluring as a result so she'd killed not two, but three birds with one stone. She dined regularly on fine French cuisine; her reputation for untouchability remained intact (as did her hymen), and her popularity among both her friends and the male population of Lawndale soared. If that was what being a prude could achieve, Quinn was more than happy to be play the part.
Thinking back once again, she smiled as she remembered how a younger Stacy had gushed about the lead singer of the newest boy band. At fourteen and fifteen Quinn had affected the odd crush on boys from boy bands--it seemed the thing to do. She'd cut out the pictures and stuck them in the door of her locker, but was all for show. The thing was...while Quinn’s friends seemed to go all gooey about over ‘Boys to Guys’ or whomever, she never felt anything at all. It didn't worry her. She just didn't have those kinds of feelings.
She hadn't actually felt attracted to anyone until she was sixteen.
That was when David Sorensen came into her life. For the first time someone had believed that she had more to offer than just bouncy hair, impeccable dress sense, and perfect boobs. David had seen that she was capable of thought and, while Quinn had suspected the truth for a long time, to have someone like David--older, very smart and even cute in a nerdy sort of way (though she'd never admit that to Sandi)--was flattering. It had also provoked some of the first genuine feelings she'd ever had for someone of the opposite sex. Then David rejected her with unmasked dismissiveness, though he'd given her a kind of backhanded compliment in the process. In the process he'd awakened several things in her, most importantly a desire to exercise her mind, a desire that had led to secret explorations of poetry and literature that no one, not even Daria, knew about. New worlds had opened up that, once discovered, were infinitely more attractive than fashion (even though looking good and being in style were still important to the young redhead--she genuinely liked being well dressed in the latest fashions). She had grown to realize that there was far more to life than surface appearances. She had David to thank for that, and she'd finally decided that what she really felt for him had been gratitude, not love
With the benefit of hindsight Quinn could see that the signs had been there for a long time. The time that Mom and Dad had gone to Grove Hills overnight and left her to stay with her friends, for example. After annoying Sandi, Tracy and Tiffany so much that they’d thrown her out she’d ended up at Jane’s. That was weird. Was it possible that her subconscious had formulated the plot in advance? It was kind of scary to think that all that could have gone on in her brain without her being aware of it.
On another occasion Quinn had dragged Jane into her bedroom on the flimsy excuse of asking her artistic advice on eyeshadow. Jeez, what lame plots her subconscious cooked up. Why couldn’t it just have told her…? Oh. Perhaps that’s exactly what it had been trying to do.
But then it happened.
One hot afternoon last summer when Daria and Jane had been at home, Quinn had inadvertently gotten an eyeful of Jane's breasts as she'd bent over to pick up a book from the floor. The sensation had been strange and overpowering. She didn't understand it right away, but that night she'd fantasized about it and, to her astonishment, masturbated--twice.
While in the past, she ignored Jane, now she found that she desperately wanted to talk to her, but one of two things always happened--either she was so tongue-tied that, no matter how much she tried to speak, the words would just refuse to come out. Or the exact opposite would happen and she'd just babble endlessly about everyone and everything--just as she did that time she stayed with Jane when Daria and her parents went to Grove Hills. Quinn knew her babbling only served to drive Jane further away, but she just couldn’t help it. Besides it didn’t matter whether she didn’t say anything or said too much, she knew what Jane thought of her.
But none of that mattered to Quinn--the conclusion was inescapable. She was profoundly in love. For the first time. With a girl.
* * *
The thing was, Jane thought, Quinn was a vapid, silly, self-absorbed, shallow, fashion-obsessed, air-headed, kind, thoughtful, beautiful, loving, soft, uh oh. That wasn't going quite the way she'd expected.
Jane had to admit, Quinn had a surprising capacity for love. But was that enough? Could anything last that was just based on love? How about respect, mutual interests, intellectual stimulation, conversation? Love wasn't enough, was it?
Casting a jaded eye around Quinn's bedroom, a little voice, far away in the back of her mind, said What are you getting yourself into, Lane? It wasn't that her feelings weren't real, even strong, but part of her had felt distinctly uncomfortable in the princess's boudoir that was Quinn's bedroom. Her eyes wandering over to the pile of books supporting a mirror next to the bed, Jane approached them, curious as to their contents. Running her eyes down the spines, she frowned in dismay. On top of the stack, it’s title partly obscured by a stuffed toy cat, was Xtreme Dating. Beneath it, she read Tammy Faye, Courtney Love, and Other Examples of Eye Makeup Gone Hideously Wrong; Principles of Popularity; Imelda Marcos – A life in Shoes; and The French Restaurant Patron's Pronunciation Guide.
With a growing sense of disquiet she'd picked up Xtreme Dating and a small hardcover book had fallen out onto the floor leaving her holding the empty dust jacket.
Curious, Jane bent down, and, picking the book up, stared at the title in disbelief.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning -- Sonnets from the Portuguese.
“What in the hell?” Jane breathed, her voice reflecting both her surprise and disbelief.
At that instante Quinn walked in to see Jane gazing with rapt curiosity at one of her poetry books. Smiling in amusement as her new lover quickly put the book down, Quinn chuckled as she saw Jane’s cheeks grow crimson with embarrassment. “Uh oh. Caught."
With a guilty look on her face, Jane quickly apologized. "Um, sorry Quinn. I wasn't snooping. Actually, I was snooping. I've gotta say, I'm a teeny bit surprised. Pleasantly surprised. Or is this not what I think it is? Is there a copy of Every Girl's Guide to Bulimia hidden inside this book?"
Smiling at both her girlfriend’s joke and at her embarrassment, Quinn replied, "How long do you think I'd have lasted in the Fashion Club if I left my poetry books lying around?" Then, with a scowl, "On the other hand, how long do you think I'd have lasted without brain damage if I read nothing but this…" She held up Tina and the Tennis Pro "…drivel?" She then picked up Principles of Popularity and removed Jane Austen's Persuasion. "I like Jane Austen but I could happily be marooned on a desert island with nothing but Elizabeth Barrett Browning's sonnets. Oh," she smiled again, "and you of course."
A slightly far-off smile appeared on Quinn’s face as she recited one of the sonnets.
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday's
Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints,--I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life!--and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.
Jane's little voice had whispered, in a relieved tone, "Ahhh." She blushed again, this time from a different kind of guilt. “That’s beautiful. I guess there's a lot that we don't know about each other."
Quinn walked over to her, took the book of poetry from her girlfriend’s hands and then put it back inside Xtreme Dating on top of the stack. "You're right, Jane, I guess we do have a lot to learn about each other." She looked up into Jane's eyes as Jane's heart thumped. “But...I’ve got to finish getting ready for school...”
“Yeah...” Jane sighed. “I have to take care of some stuff at Casa Lane too before school...”
Staring at each other they slowly approached, nervously, both afraid that the scene might suddenly evaporate like a dream. Their hands touched and their nervousness evaporated like mist. They hugged, kissed, and then, reluctantly, separated and went their separate ways, Jane to Casa Lane and Quinn downstairs for breakfast.
Quinn was oblivious to Daria who, as usual, was picking at a bowl of cereal with her head buried in the newspaper. It slowly dawned on Quinn that Daria had been speaking to her.
“Earth to Quinn, come in Quinn.”
“Wha? Oh, Daria, sorry. I didn’t see you there.”
“I don’t suppose you saw Mom fly out the window on her broomstick a minute ago either. Quinn, we need to talk.”
“Mm. Sure. Talk.”
“You’ll have to wake up first. Quinn, I said you’ll have to wake up first!”
"Oh, Forget it. Come on, we have to go.”
They walked out the door together. Quinn was so distracted that she hardly noticed that they were walking to school together.
* * *
Once shed returned to her house, Jane found herself overcome by her muse. Attacking her canvas, her brushstrokes were rapid and deliberate. She hadn’t felt this inspired since, since, well...she hadn’t ever felt this inspired. Glancing at herself in the mirror, Jane looked in disbelief as she saw that, although she and Quinn had no physical similarities at all, the little smile she was smiling looked surprisingly like that of her redheaded girlfriend.
After the muse had released her Jane went for a quick run, but her feet had barely touched the ground. She could have kept running forever. By eight she'd showered, changed and scarfed a quick bowl of cereal, surprised and not a little delighted that there'd been cereal and milk and sugar in the house all at the same time. Surely the gods were smiling back at her this morning.
Bounding upstairs, she knocked on Trent’s door, and, after the third knock, smiled as she heard indistinct rumblings giving a vague indication that her brother was awake. Walking in, she sat on the bed, and, leaning over, gave him a kiss on the cheek.
Trent snorted. “Janey? What time is it?”
“About eight o’clock.”
“You mean there’s an eight o’clock in the morning now?”
“It’s a new idea. They took three hours off the afternoon and moved them to the morning. But they’ve made the year shorter to compensate.”
“Heavy. What’s up?”
“Up? Nothing’s up, dearest brother mine. Nothing at all. I just wanted to tell you I love you.”
“It’s too early for jokes, Janey..”
“Who’s joking? See you this afternoon?”
“Sure. What, around twenty-six o’clock?”
“Yep, on the thirty-twelfth of Octember.”
She kissed him again, bounded down the stairs three at a time and left for school.
Before he drifted back into dreamland, Trent wondered what the hell had happened at Daria's house to turn Jane from suicidal to, well, to this, whatever this was. It didn't matter. He had his baby sister back and, to him, that’s all that was important--explanations and details could wait.
* * *
Daria walked. Quinn floated two inches above the sidewalk.
“Quinn, please, this is serious. We need to talk.”
Quinn reluctantly descended. She blinked, thinking Gimme a break Daria. Won’t you let me enjoy this, please?
“Talk? What? What’s to talk about?”
Daria stopped, forcing Quinn to do the same. She turned to face Quinn.
“Look Quinn, you need to think about how you respond to this situation. You can’t just walk around mooing like a lovesick cow.”
Quinn raised her pinkies to the side of her head. “Mooooo.”
“Stop it, Quinn, listen to me, please.” Daria was getting agitated.
“Alright. I’m sorry. What do you mean?” Here it comes.
“Think about it, Quinn, for God’s sake. Jane and I haven’t got much time left at Lawndale High, but you’re here for another year. I just want you to think for a minute about what life at school’s going to be like if you… come out. Some people could pull it off, but you’ve cultivated a persona that’s going to set you up for a merciless attack if you start radiating lesbian waves. Think about those moronic so-called friends of yours in the Fashion Club. Do you think Sandi Griffin will say ‘Gee Quinn, it must be so embarrassing for you. I’d never tell anyone that you were a LESBIAN’? How about those jocks who’ve collectively been financing Lawndale’s French restaurant boom in the hope that, sooner or later, you’re going to let them into your pants? Do you think they’re going to say ‘Isn’t it great how Quinn’s finally found love in the arms of a woman’"?
During Daria’s lecture Quinn had hung her head, looking at the sidewalk. Now she raised it and looked Daria in the eye with a completely unexpected intensity. She thought Your turn, Sis. Her voice was quiet.
“Don’t you think I know that, Daria?”
Daria’s eyes widened.
Though her voice was quiet it had a steel backbone. “Do you think it’s easy coming to terms with the realisation that you like girls?
Do you think it’s easy loving someone and having it turned against you, making you question everything you’d ever thought about yourself? How about being told that if you try to express that love you’re going to destroy the most important relationship in your sister’s life? How about being told that the person you love would be revolted by you? How about having to hide your most powerful feelings from everyone you know -- your friends, your family, everyone? Do you think that’s easy? Love’s supposed to make you feel good, Daria, not make you hate yourself!”
Daria was stunned as the impact of Quinn’s words sunk in. Oh God, no. I’ve done it again. Shit shit shit. First Jane, now Quinn. How fucking wrong can I be about people?
Quinn’s voice became more urgent, a little less controlled -- still quiet but sharp, like a razor slicing cleanly into Daria’s newly-exposed psyche.
“I’ve been living a lie for months… no, years, Daria. Being popular Quinn, being airhead Quinn, being Fashion Club Quinn, being cute, perky Quinn, being everything that people always thought I was. Maybe I was all those things Daria--what else could I be? All I ever knew was how to be attractive and cute, but a few years and a change of--outlook--changes you, Daria. I’ve thought about what it would mean if people knew. When I should have been sleeping I thought about it, when I should have been studying I thought about it; when I was on dates with those sweaty morons I thought about it; when I was talking about what colour lipstick went with what colour shoes I thought about it, when I was eating thawed lasagna at the dinner table I thought about it. I haven’t thought about anything else for months.”
Then, more controlled, she continued sadly “Now, for the first time in months, I could think about something else. I could think that she loves me too. I mean, I think, that is I hope…” Her voice trailed away. “Anyway, I could enjoy my thoughts instead of being tortured by them. I’ve thought about it, Daria, believe me -- I’ve thought about it! I was just taking a little -- vacation. Don’t worry. I can handle it.” She turned away from Daria.
“No. No, Daria. It’s OK. Please. You couldn’t have known. You were only thinking of me. I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have been so, well, so, whatever I was just then.”
“Quinn...” Daria was holding back tears. “Quinn, I’m so damn sorry. If I’d thought about this at all I would have realised what you’d been going through. First I thought about how this might hurt Jane’s and my relationship, then I thought about how it might help her. I never thought about you, I never thought about how hard it was for you, I never thought about what you might be going through. I only saw you through my own selfish thoughts. God, Quinn, you’ve been working so hard to get close to me.”
“It’s alright, Daria. In a way you’re right. I’ve thought and I’ve thought about those things, but I haven’t been able to talk to anyone about them. I don’t know whether all that thinking’s gotten me anywhere at all. Right now you’re the only person I can talk to. Besides--if it hadn't been for you, I wouldn't have...her.”
Not for the first time (though it was still a very new experience) Daria realised that there were times when words just didn’t do it. She hugged her little sister. And her little sister hugged her back, resting her head on Daria’s shoulder, closing her eyes, thinking Mm, nice. Nothing to hide any more. I like having a big sister.
* * *
Jane and Daria walked down the corridor past the lockers as Quinn and the fashion club walked towards them, their conversation clearly audible.
“So you see, Stacy, by mixing a green top with blue shoes you’d making a strong statement. That statement would be, like, ‘I am doomed to be a fashion outcast all my life.’”
Stacy looked down at her shoes and put her fists to her mouth. “Eep! Oh my GOD!” She bent down took off her shoes and stuffed them in her handbag. “Thanks so much, Sandi! You saved me from a fate worse than… worse than… her!” Stacy exclaimed as she looked at Jane.
Shooting Stacy a look of concern, Tiffany consoled “It’s ooookaaaay Stacy. You could never look thaaaaaat unfashionable.”
Hearing here friend’s unkind words, Quinn looked apologetically at Jane, real hurt in her eyes. Seeing Quinn's distress, Jane smiled ruefully back at her indicating that it was okay and gave a quick nod towards the girls bathroom. Quinn nodded subtly in return, showing that she understood.
Turning off, Quinn called out to her friends, “I’ll catch up.” Sandi, Tiffany and Stacey walked on, Sandi saying “Your feet are really quite unfashionable, Stacy. We may have to skip class to go shoe shopping. This is, after all, a fashion emergency.”
Jane looked pleadingly at Daria, who sighed and said quietly “Yes, I’ll stand lookout.”
“Thanks Daria--I owe you. Again,” whispered Jane, grinning at her as she darted into the bathroom after Quinn.
Standing at the washbasin, Quinn’s heart leapt as she saw Jane approach. Seeing that they were alone in the bathroom, she turned on the faucet. The two lovers, revelling in their stolen moment, embraced and kissed.
Their smiles, like the Parsee Man’s, ran all around their faces two times.
Holding Jane close to her, Quinn slipped her hand down the back of Jane’s pants, grabbing a handful of warm buttock. At that moment the bathroom door slowly opened and Daria’s voice echoed off the walls as she walked in chatting to Andrea. Well, chatting at Andrea. Andrea wasn’t exactly the sort of person you could chat with, but it was enough to sound the alarm.
Jane and Quinn separated as if by magnetic repulsion. Quinn held her hands under the running faucet pretending to wash them and Jane did a passable impression of having just turned off the faucet, shaking imaginary water off her hands and taking a paper towel from the dispenser as Daria walked in followed by Andrea.
Jane walked out, followed a minute later by Quinn. Daria finished her conversation with Andrea and followed them out.
Weirder than usual, thought Andrea as she opened the stall door. Why did she come in here if she didn’t need to go, anyway?
“Thanks Daria, that was a close call.” Jane’s face was flushed.
“I’m not going to do that for you again, Jane. If you want someone to run interference for you go and talk to Kevin.”
“Now that has entertainment possibilities.”
“Kidding, kidding.” said Daria quickly.
“Seriously. If it wasn’t for the need to keep Quinn shielded, this would be the most amazing opportunity to observe our fellow homo sapiens in a confronting situation.”
“I’d appreciate it if you’d be careful about how you used the term ‘homo’.”
Jane grinned, surreptitiously enjoying her new-found ability to cause her friend discomfort. “I was speaking strictly anthropologically, of course. But think of it, Amiga. Can we afford to let this chance go by?”
Daria’s eyes widened. “I’m glad that your new, um, orientation, hasn’t changed the fact that you’re pure evil, Lane.”
“Flattery will get you everywhere.” Jane responded, batting her eyelids at Daria.
“That’s enough of that!” said Daria, a little alarm in her voice. “Actually, there’s one situation I can’t resist setting up. It’s safe, but it’ll take careful timing and we’ll have to see if Quinn’s prepared to co-operate.” They walked off down the hall, colluding.
* * *
Quinn had been uncomfortable about the plot first but, despite herself, she thought it was funny--classic Jane. What was it that Jessica Rabbit had said when that guy asked her how she’d ended up with a rabbit like Roger? Yeah -- “He makes me laugh.” Besides, it was one of those trust thingies, wasn’t it? Like when you had to close your eyes and fall backward, trusting that the person behind you would catch you? Trust. That’s what it was about. And it was kind of exciting.
Seeing Daria, Tom, and Jane already in the Pizza King, Quinn sneaked in as per their plan, taking a seat two booths back. Daria and Tom sat facing the other way, talking to Jane who was studiously avoiding looking at Quinn so that Tom wouldn’t turn to see who was behind them. Straining, she could just overhear their conversation.
“So Jane, how have you been?” asked Tom.
“That’d take too long to answer. Why don’t you ask me how I am instead?”
“OK. How are you?”
“Wonderful. Never better.”
“Great. What’s your secret?”
“Love, Tom, pure, unadulterated, passionate, all-conquering, love,” she sighed.
Quinn melted. She hoped that Jane wasn’t saying that just for dramatic effect.
“Whoa! That was a straight answer! So, a new romance eh? I’m really pleased, Jane. Who’s the lucky fellow?”
Daria raised her arm behind Tom’s back, giving Quinn her cue.
“Oh look. Here comes Quinn,” said Jane, sotto voce.
Quinn walked past Tom and Daria and sat down beside Jane. “Hi Tom, Daria, Jane.”
“Sorry to interrupt your conversation. Please, carry on.” smiled Quinn.
Tom returned his gaze to Jane and asked, conspiratorially, “So Jane, you were saying? Who’s this new flame in your life?”
Quinn and Jane inched a little closer.
“What’s up? Is it a secret?”
Quinn and Jane shuffled closer again, this time as close as they could without violating the Pauli Exclusion Principle. Jane batted her eyelids at Tom, but he didn’t react. He’d missed phases one and two, now it was time for phase three. Daria smirked.
“OK. I don’t mind. Sorry I asked. It’s none of my business.” It was spoken with Tom’s usual resigned equanimity. He lifted another warm, gooey slice of pizza to his mouth and opened it to take a bite.
Jane and Quinn looked around to see that no-one was looking and, gazing into each other’s eyes for a second, the two lovers kissed briefly but passionately..
As his eyes took in the unbelievable sight of his ex-girlfriend and current girlfriend’s younger sister engaged in a hungry lip-lock, Tom's jaw dropped, his eyes threatening to fall out of his head. The slice of pizza hanging limply in his hand, a circle of pepperoni slid languidly downhill and dropped into his lap, trailing a long tail of mozzarella.
Jane disengaged, looked at him, and batted her eyelids again.
Tom looked back and forth between Jane, Quinn and Daria. A fly buzzed lazily into his gaping mouth and, finding nothing of interest to its tiny fly mind, out again.
Putting an arm around Tom and giving him a hug, Daria teased. “Well, Thomas, haven’t you got anything to say to the happy couple?”
“Um, can I watch? OW--Daria!!” The unmistakable sound of a shin being impacted by the toe of a Doc Martens boot came from under the table.
“Quit whining--you’ll be able to walk again within a week.”
Jane and Quinn barely controlled their laughter. Jane leant towards Tom, rested her elbows on the table and put her chin in her hands. “Of course you can watch, Tom,” she purred, then, the purr turning into a growl, “but only on the proviso that Quinn and I can watch you doing it with Kevin first. Grrrrrr.”
Tom, turning a pale shade of green, put what remained of his pizza back on the plate. “I’m not hungry any more.”
Jane and Quinn lost it completely.
* * *
Tom had driven them home after the little performance at the Pizza King. He’d been a good sport about it, but he was clearly a little annoyed and his shin hurt. After Jane and Quinn got out, they sat in the front seat talking it over.
“Well, it was pretty damn mean, Daria. But I must admit, it was funny. Perhaps I could be persuaded to forgive you. The kick in the shin, on the other hand…”
“It was a compliment, Tom.”
“A kick in the shin was a compliment? I assume that an insult involves some form of amputation?”
“I’m serious” Daria said, her voice becoming grave. “Do you have any idea how important it is to keep this relationship under wraps? They’d never admit it, but they were aching to tell someone and, apart from Trent, you’re the only person they trusted enough to tell. You can’t blame Jane for wanting to take full comic advantage of the situation. Besides, I think she relished the opportunity to score off you.”
Tom grunted and massaged his shin where Daria had kicked him. He sighed. “Actually, I am flattered. It’s a serious situation for Quinn. It must be harder for her than it is for Jane. I mean Jane’s an artist, so she’s almost expected to be a lesbian, but Quinn? I’ve got to admit, that surprised me.”
“It surprised you?”
“So anyway, that little performance was all Jane’s idea, was it?”
“Well, um, it was, well, she had the initial idea. I just padded it out a little. Anyway, stop changing the subject. ‘Can I watch?’--jeez--what is it with guys, anyway? You’re all perverted.”
“What? Are you saying that you don’t want to watch me and Kevin doing it now? Here I was getting all hot and excited and now you change your mind. Women.”
Daria smirked. “Seriously, Tom. Are you really turned on by the thought of watching Jane and Quinn?”
“Um, is there a right answer to that question?”
“Of course. Now tell me what it is.”
Tom held her close and looked into her eyes. “Daria, my dove, you are the most wonderful, most alluring, most gorgeous woman I’ve ever laid eyes on. Nothing in the world could ever turn me on as much as simply being in the same room with you.” Daria melted in his arms. “Unless, of course, it was watching Quinn and Jane having sex. OW! God, Daria, that was the same shin!”
“That settles it. You’re getting shoes for Christmas. Nice, soft Nikes.”
“Figures. Slave labour.”
Before Daria got out of the car to go inside she planted a very wet kiss on Tom’s lips, not to mention a very wet tongue down his throat. After all, there was no sense in leaving him with any misunderstandings. She’d done that too often, but she was learning. As she opened the car door to get out she looked back at him and said, simply, “Saturday night,” then she closed the door and walked up the path to join Jane and Quinn without looking back.
"You look a little flushed." observed Jane with a wry grin.
"That's enough of that potty talk. My little sister might hear--oh, sorry Quinn--I didn't see you there." Daria's smirk didn't entirely hide a little smile of anticipation.
Jane gave Quinn's hand a quick squeeze the, looking at the two Morgendorffer sisters and, still not quite believing how their dynamic had changed, said "Seeya tomorow at my place." before walking off towards home.
* * *
Trent put his guitar down and got up to answer the doorbell. Squinting at the bright daylight outside he was surprised to see Daria’s annoying sister standing there.
“Hi Trent. Are Jane and Daria home yet?” asked Quinn.
“Yeah. I think so.” He turned to call upstairs. “Janey, Daria. Daria’s Sister’s here” He coughed with the effort.
Jane appeared on the landing and made her way downstairs while Daria observed from the top step.
“Trent, there’s probably something you should know.” Said Jane as Quinn walked in and stood beside her.
“Know? What?” asked Trent with his usual economy of expression.
“Well, Trent, it would seem that Quinn and I are, um, an item.”
“An item?” Trent’s left eyebrow ascended almost imperceptibly.
“Yeah. An item. You know, a couple.” Jane stood next to Quinn and put her arm around her.
“Oh.” A close observer who knew Trent well would have detected the faintest glimmer of surprise on his face. Anyone else would have said he was comatose. “I guess that means…” He paused, thinking.
“What? That you’ll have to come to terms with the fact that I’m in a lesbian relationship?”
“That I’ll shave my head and get tattooed?”
“That I’ll start going to gay pride rallies and get arrested for assaulting cops?”
“That I’ll have to stop calling her ‘Daria’s sister’ and start calling her 'Quinn.'”
Muffled laughter came from the top of the stairs. Quinn walked up to Trent and pecked him on the cheek. “Thanks Trent.” she smiled.
“Whatever, um, Quinn.” said Trent, sitting back down and picking up his guitar. They all noticed that he was blushing.
As they walked into Jane’s bedroom Quinn and Jane embraced. Looing up into Jane’s eyes, Quinn breathed “Demon lover” as Jane responded with “Light of my life.”
The sound of gagging emanated from the bed where Daria was sitting. Jane turned to her and smirked. “What’s with you, Morgendorffer? I think ‘Demon Lover’ is incredibly sexy. As for ‘light of my life’, what can I say? She is. Anyway, don’t tell me you and Tom don’t have pet names for each other? Or do you both just call each other ‘God’ at moments of extreme passion?”
“Snookles.” offered Quinn.
“Snookles?” echoed Jane, her eyes wide.
Daria scowled at Quinn. “That was a joke, Quinn, for your benefit.” but, realising that Jane had hit the nail on the head with uncanny accuracy, she quickly changed the subject. “Moving right along here. Quinn--I’m seriously worried that you’re going to maintain the charade at school. Are you sure you can do it? I mean, it was one thing while it was just a forlorn hope, but now that you and Jane have, um, consummated your relationship I think it’s going to be harder to keep up the act. I’m not pre-judging, I speak from experience.”
Jane looked at Daria in mock horror, and said in a voice redolent with innocence. “Consummated? Daria, you don’t mean… Eeewwww!” Quinn stared at the floor to hide the her smile. Jane was doing it to her again.
“Yes, Miss Innocent? You slept naked in the same bed. Don’t tell me you didn’t do--whatever it is--you--do.” Daria blushed.
“Daria. I’m shocked. My clothes were on the floor because they were wet.”
Daria’s eyes widened. “I’m sure they were.”
“I mean with water, dammit! I spilled a glass of water when Quinn kissed me. I was just a teeny bit surprised you know.”
“Really? So I could have kept that toothbrush?”
Quinn laughed and gave Jane a squeeze. “We really did spend the night talking, Daria.” It was her turn to blush. “That’s not to say that it was easy. I mean, I might have accidentally…” She looked up at Jane.
“Don’t go there, Quinn.”
“That’s not what you said when I…”
Daria interjected quickly “Soooo--back to the topic in question.”
Quinn grinned and thought It’s been a long time since I’ve scored any points off you, Sis. The smile disappeared. “I don’t know if I can keep it up. But you know, the more I think about it the more I don’t care. Sandi was getting pissed off that I was becoming a brain anyway. And, God, I don’t care what those jerks, I mean jocks, think.” She shuddered at the thought of those rough paws touching her, compared to the softness of Jane’s caresses and thought Jeez – how did I put up with that? “Anyway, lesbianism’s actually quite fashionable at the moment. It might actually do wonders for my popularity.”
Jane looked at her, real concern in her eyes. “Be careful, Quinn.”
I’m probably stronger than you think, demon lover. I’ve had to toughen up over the last few months. “Thanks. I’ll be careful.”
Daria saw her chance. “Quinn, I’ve been avoiding this, but have you thought about telling Mom and Dad?”
It was Jane’s turn to tighten her arm around Quinn.
I was wondering when you were going to get to that. “Yes.” She looked at Daria with just a hint of panic in her eyes. “I’ve been avoiding it too. I find the whole idea positively--icky. I mean I’ve never talked to Mom about anything even vaguely personal. You told me everything I needed to know about, you know, girl stuff and I suppose you got it all from books. Do you think I really have to?”
“No. But they’ll find out sooner or later. I think they’d rather hear it from you.”
Quietly “Yeah. I guess they would.”
Jane took Quinn’s hand and squeezed. “You don’t have to do it alone.”
Quinn returned the squeeze. “Thanks, but you don’t have to be there. It’s going to be awful. You don’t need to go through it.”
“I want to be there.” Jane lifted Quinn’s hand to her lips and kissed it.
Daria interjected “I’ll be there too, if you want me to be.”
“I’d like that. Thanks Sis. Um, how do you think they’ll take it?”
“I’d have to say not well. Dad will probably go into overload--you remember how he reacted when he thought I was having sex with Tom? He couldn’t say a word to me for days, and that was just on the basis of circumstantial evidence.” In the back of her mind, Daria caught herself worrying about for an instant about how they’d react when they had hard evidence. “Mom tried to be cool about it but it clearly freaked her out and she gave me a lecture that turned out to be extremely, uh, revealing and embarrassing for me. I think this is going to be an order of magnitude harder for them than thinking that their eldest daughter was having conventional heterosexual relations. I’m sorry to be so frank, but if we’re all going to be there we should be prepared.”
“Thanks Daria. That makes me feel so much better.” Said Quinn, pouting.
Jane looked at Quinn, then at Daria. “Look you two--I don’t pretend to know your folks as well as you do, but they were damn good to me when I needed help. I think they might surprise you both. They’re pretty cool.”
“I guess we’ll see,” sighed Quinn, supressing a shudder.
Extra special thanks to Renfield, C. L. Basso, K.C.S., M.Sc., David Falkayn, Mike Yamiolkoski, and Wyvern for their help, suggestions, support and criticism.
Disclaimer: All characters are copyright MTV.
Quirks: I'm an Australian, so I've used Aussie English spellings and grammar conventions. I may also have inadvertently used some Aussie idioms though I've tried to keep in culture. There are references to other fanfics in this. I hope their authors will take them for what they are -- sincere flattery.
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