Synopsis: Quinn makes an admission, Jane scores well in a test, Daria gets aggressive, and Jane also makes an admission.
Gentle reader, this is a chapter in a series. It will make much more sense if you read what has gone before, starting with "My Afternoon at Tom's". If you haven't the time or the inclination to read the whole series, you'll find "Bird on the Wire" and "Quinntessence Part 1" worthwhile background to the events that follow.
Jane had been gazing out the window for twenty minutes with all the anticipation of a child waiting for Christmas day, thoughts drifting idly through her mind. One of them concerned the speed with which her outlook on life had turned around since Quinn. The mentally-voiced monosyllable was punctuated by a heartbeat and she winced at the thought of Daria's merciless taunts if she were to find out that the Kween of Kool, Jane Lane, was feeling like one of those lovesick heroines in the bodice-rippers they sell at supermarket checkouts.
In the dark recesses of her reptile brain an ugly knot of fear crouched, waiting for the opportunity to leap out and bite.
Finally, seeing a red, pink and blue shape turned the corner and walk up the path, Jane sprinted downstairs as quietly as it's possible to sprint downstairs and stood with her hand on the doorknob, trying to control her breathing--wanting , for some unaccountable reason, to appear blasé. She threw open the door on "dong" with more enthusiasm than she'd intended, and was greeted by a smile a yard wide. All her efforts to look cool evaporated. She returned the smile with interest and hugged her redheaded girlfriend as if it had been years rather than an hour since they'd seen each other. Perhaps it was the effort of having to pass each other in the corridor or the lunchroom all day without acknowledgement. Perhaps it was a remnant of fear that it was, after all, just a dream; that their new relationship still needed regular confirmation to blow away the last dust bunnies of doubt.
She took Quinn's hand and led her up the stairs to her room.
"What's this about, DL? What did you want to show me?"
The easel which had been standing against the wall had been moved to the centre of the bedroom, the canvas it was supporting covered by a sheet. Taking Quinn by the shoulders and standing her in front of the easel, Jane commanded, "Close your eyes."
Quinn had absolutely no idea what was under the cover, but she was thrilling at Jane's obvious pleasure and did as she was told. A grin of anticipation appeared on her face as she heard the sheet being removed.
"Okay--open your eyes."
Quinn gasped. The field was dark, almost black, though, after she'd looked at it for a while, she noticed that in places it faded almost imperceptibly into dark browns, blues, reds and greens. Scattered here and there were faint smudges of light. Quinn realised she'd seen something like it before, in one of those telescope photographs that she'd gazed at in awe in one of Daria's astronomy books, surreptitiously borrowed to read in the privacy of her own room. Island universes, luminous pinpricks in the infinite.
On the left a multicoloured arc took up most of the height but only an inch or so of the width. From its centre a straight line ran horizontally across the canvas to the right-hand edge. Other lines of varying width, shape and colour snaked across the field, intersecting each other and the straight line. Some were long, some short, some appearing from the edge and quickly darting off again, some winding in long and complex curves before disappearing off an edge. Two lines emerged from an edge and came to an end.
"It's stunning," she breathed. "What do you call it?"
"World Lines: Lux Vivendi"
"Light of my life?" Her face looked as if didn't quite know how to react.
Jane looked surprised. "I didn't know you knew Latin!"
"I don't, but fashion designers use Latin all the time to sound chic, and you sort of pick things up. How about you? They don't teach Latin at Lawndale High do they?"
A little sheepishly, Jane said "I had to ask Daria to translate for me. Apparently a more literal translation is 'light of my living', but let's not split hairs."
"God Jane--it's amazing! What does it mean?"
"It's not complicated. Why don't you explain it to me? Start from the title and work from there."
Quinn smiled. "Well, I'll try. I guess that world lines are the paths traced out in time by our journey from birth to death." She pointed at the straight line. It was painted in muted tones with just an occasional bright splash where other lines intersected it. In some places it merged with the background only to reappear a little distance farther on.
"Light of my life could have at least two meanings. One of them would mean that line is your world line and that arc at the left is where you were born, where you break out of the cosmic egg, so to speak. All the other lines are the world lines of people whose lives have touched yours." She pointed at a line that ran beside the straight line. "That has to be Trent."
"You're doing well. Keep going," smiling with delight and, she had to admit, stunned surprise, at how quickly Quinn had understood what she'd tried to express.
"Those lines there--" She pointed at the two lines that ended without escaping from the canvas "--that's sad. They must represent people who died, whose world lines ended. That one's very short. He or she must have died very young."
"Uh huh. I'll tell you about them one day if you like," Jane said, a slightly distant look on her face.
"I'd like that." Quinn ointed back at the straight line. "That's sad too, Jane. The colours represent--what--emotion, excitement, experience--the colours are allegorical, right?"
"Right!" Quinn? she thought, still surprised by those hidden depths that Quinn had so expertly concealed.
Putting her arm around Jane, Quinn looked away from the canvas and up into her lover's eyes. "That’s not right, Jane. You’re intelligent, you're sensitive, you're artistic, you're incredibly talented. But you paint your life in browns and greys and dark colours?"
"It’s my painting so I get to call 'em like I see 'em." She said with a smile that didn’t fool Quinn who, hearing Jane's words, felt a sudden rush of deep sadness and regret that Jane saw her own life like that. She wondered what she could do to show Jane how wrong she was about herself. But then she thought about the way that Jane had reacted to Daria's and Tom’s relationship and realised that perhaps she was being shown something deeper, something that Jane didn't talk about. It was a moment of unexpected intimacy.
Turning back to the canvas Quinn indicated a line that flew in from top, about eight or nine inches from the right, to intersect Jane's line and continue beside it. At the intersection there was a flash of red, then it curved sharply to run parallel to the straight line. Both lines became perceptibly brighter for the remainder of their journey across the canvas. "Daria?"
From the bottom left-hand corner a brilliant pulsation ran arrow-straight to intersect the Jane line at the far right-hand edge. At the intersection, the two lines exploded in a luminous starburst. Quinn pointed at it, not saying anything, just looking up at Jane, who smiled and said "That’s the other meaning."
Quinn wiped a hand across her eyes. "It’s beautiful. It should be hung somewhere people can see it."
"I was kind of hoping that you'd hang it on your wall. It's for you." She turned and smiled at Quinn hoping to get one back, but was alarmed to see the redhead’s lip tremble. "Quinn?" she asked hesitantly, the smile disappearing from her face.
"..." Quinn opened her mouth to speak, but nothing came out. Her eyes, fixed on the painting, had pools of moisture gathering in them.
Not quite knowing how to respond, Jane haltingly extended an arm to Quinn’s shoulder. "Quinn? What’s wrong?"
One of the pools overflowed and trickled in a river down her face. Still gazing at the painting she said, haltingly, "No-one’s ever given me...anything like...this before."
"What? Come on, I’ve seen some of the stuff your toy boys have bought you--candy, flowers, jewellery--dammit, fancy meals--you’ve had more presents than Bill Gates’ baby!"
"That’s been stuff they bought for me. None of it meant anything. They were just trying to get into my pants. But this...", indicating the painting with a sweep of her arm, choking on the words. "...this is like you’ve given me a little piece of your soul."
Wrapping Quinn in her arms, Jane smiled. "How do you know I’m not just trying to get into your pants?"
Sniffing back a tear, something that was both a sob and a laugh escaped from Quinn's mouth. She stepped back out of Jane’s arms, loosened her belt, undid the top button of her jeans and unzipped them, exposing a triangle of frilly white cotton. "Well?" she croaked.
"Why, hello Trent. Quinn?" The way Helen said Quinn's name turned it into a question; that question being Has the cosmic order been disrupted? What the hell is Quinn doing with Trent, of all people? And what's under that sheet? which was actually three questions, all in one word. But then, Helen was a lawyer.
"Hi Mom." remarked Quinn nonchalantly as she held the front door open for Trent, who was lugging the sheet-covered canvas from the tank.
"Hey Mrs Morgendorffer."
"Um, what's that?" One more try couldn't hurt.
"It's a painting. Trent's helping me hang it."
"Oh, that's nice dear." Her expression completely failed to conceal her disappointment that Quinn's response, while accurate, hadn't helped at all. Helen reflected that she genuinely liked Trent. Of all the children's friends, Trent reminded her more than anyone of the people she used to hang around with at his age, although she could never quite work out whether he was permanently stoned or just exceptionally laid-back. In a way, she envied him and felt just a tiny twinge of regret that she hadn't...oh well, never mind.
Quinn threw open her bedroom door. As Trent leaned the painting against the bed, he screwed up his eyes and covered them with his hand.
"Wow. Pink. Eyeball scorch."
Quinn smirked and threw him a pair of very feminine pastel blue-framed sunglasses from her dresser. "Here. Put these on. I need your eyes functioning properly so we can hang it straight. And don't start me about that--odour--in the tank!"
As Trent put on the sunglasses he suppressed a smile, inwardly shaking his head at the suddenness of the change in their relationship. And the fact that Quinn didn't seem quite so annoying any more.
Once the painting was hanging to her satisfaction above her bed, Quinn smiled at Trent and said "Thanks. It was sweet of you to help."
Ever the diplomat, Trent smirked, "It really doesn’t go with the rest of your room."
"I'm glad you mentioned it. I've been meaning to ask you, but I haven't had the chance. I want to redecorate. I can tell that Jane doesn’t feel comfortable in here. Would you help me, Trent?" Quinn in full flight was an irresistible force to any being cursed with X and Y chromosomes (and one who wasn't).
Trent tried desperately to be the immovable object. "Um…"
"Thanks, Trent! You’re a real sweetie." She kissed him on the cheek and he blushed on cue. "Don’t tell Jane. I want to surprise her."
"I’ll select a colour scheme. Hmm, primaries. We’ll work out when we can do it."
Trent wasn't quite sure how it had happened but, as he drove home, he couldn’t help but feel like a calf that had been roped, hog-tied and branded.
"So, big brother, how did it look?"
"It didn’t go with the rest of her room."
"Mm. I don’t suppose it did. Speaking of which, I want you to do me a favour. I want to redecorate my room. I can’t help feeling that Quinn’s repainting it with her eyes every time she’s here. She wouldn’t say anything, of course, but I know what she’s thinking. How about it--pretty please?"
"Thanks. I knew you would. We can drive down to the hardware store on the weekend and get some paint. Don’t tell Quinn--I want it to be a surprise. Okay?"
"Thanks, dear brother. What would I do without you?" She kissed him on the cheek. "Now I have to go back to Chateau Morgendorffer. We’ve got a big and, I suspect, very unpleasant night ahead of us. But before I go, there is one teeny thing."
"Those sunglasses really don’t suit you."
Helen and Jake eventually settled on eight o'clock for the momentous event of the second-ever Morgendorffer family conference (the first having been called by Helen to make the announcement that they were moving to Lawndale from Highland), this time called by Quinn. As the time approached, Jane, Quinn and Daria sat on the couch in the living room. Quinn was fidgeting like a cat in a room full of rocking chairs. Jane’s eyes darted about the room, not knowing where to look as Daria polished her glasses for the third time.
"Well, Dear, I have to say I'm impressed--you haven't even mentioned credit cards. So what’s this all about?" asked Helen, looking intently at Quinn.
Quinn had been working up to her announcement all day. She’d rehearsed it over and over again, but this was it, and all came out at once.
Helen stared at Quinn. "Um, Quinn, honey, I'm not sure...I'm not sure that I understood you. It sounded as if you said that, er…" It was the first time that Daria and Quinn had ever seen their mother tongue-tied. Jake either hadn’t understood at all or his mind had finally taken a well-deserved vacation and had left an empty body sitting, staring vacantly in the general direction of the three young women seated opposite him.
Quinn blushed to the tips of her toes and looked at the floor. "I’m a lesbian. I’m in love with Jane."
"I thought that was what you said," Helen breathed. She looked, wide-eyed, at Jane. "Jane…?"
A wild-eyed look appeared on Quinn’s face as she realised where this was going. "No, Mom--no! It wasn’t like that! I...seduced Jane, not the other way around! She, she had no idea." A tear rolled down her cheek and, against all her effort of will, she started crying. Jane put her arms protectively around Quinn and looked Helen in the eye. Her look, while not defiant, clearly told Helen that the she was determined to shield Quinn from whatever may be in store as well as she could. Quinn, overcome with the effort, sobbing, put her head on her lover’s shoulder while Daria, adding her support, moved closer and added her arm to Jane’s.
Another silence, longer this time. You could almost hear the relays clicking in Helen's head. Jake's head, in contrast, was silent as the grave.
Helen stood up and walked over to where they were sitting, stood in front of the sobbing Quinn, and bent down to kiss the top of her head. Quinn looked up at Helen, surprise vying with the tears in her eyes, as Helen squatted down to be on Quinn’s level taking her younger daughter’s hand in hers.
Wiping her eyes on her hand, Quinn sat up slowly as Jane and Daria released her from their embrace.
Helen looked her younger daughter in the eye. "Honey, your father and I are going to need a little time to think about this. Can you give us...an hour? Can we all come back here in an hour?" Her voice appeared calm on the surface but, like the swimming duck, underneath, all was furious activity.
During the day Quinn had worked herself up to expect the worst--anger, yelling, even a slap across the face. She'd prepared herself for accusations, hysterics, physical violence, rejection, being thrown out of home, but not for this. She looked bewildered. "Um, sure, I guess so." she sniffed.
Helen looked at Jane. "Jane?" then at Daria. "Daria?"
"Sure," answered Jane, lost for more than that.
"If Quinn and Jane want me here," responded Daria quietly and gravely after a pause, as if she was processing the information. Of the three, Daria looked the most uncertain about what had happened.
"Helen smiled. "Thank you. And Quinn..."
"It’s okay, honey." Helen cooed, smiling a soft, compassionate smile at her daughter, then briefly turning it on Jane.
Jane smiled back at her in relief. Like Quinn, she'd been so caught up in Daria's predictions of cataclysm that she simply hadn't considered any alternative possibilities. Like Quinn, she'd considered how she'd react, how she'd protect and support Quinn as much as possible and, in the worst possible scenario, how she'd take Quinn home to Casa Lane--temporarily or not, as necessary.
While the girls had gone straight upstairs to Daria's room and Jake had left to go into the kitchen, Helen sat upright in her chair, staring vacantly ahead--a thousand miles and thirty years away.
In a few minutes Jake returned carrying two brandy snifters. He sat down beside her and put the glasses on the coffee table.
From far away, "Eric?"
"Honey, it’s me, Jake!"
She turned to look at him and her eyes slowly focussed on the present.
"Uh, sorry dear."
Jake put his arm around her and offered her a glass. She took it from him, cupped it in her hands to warm it then swirled the glass and held it to her nose, still with a far away look. "Armagnac. Nothing but the best, eh, dear?" She downed it in one swallow. Precisely on cue her cell phone rang. She looked at it with an almost puzzled expression, as if she wasn't quite sure what it was and, without any sense of urgency, picked it up off the table and removed the battery.
"Quinn." she said quietly, staring blankly into space.
"Yeah." Jake was staring at his glass, swirling it and watching the tears form on the sides and slowly trickle back down into the pool of viscous golden liquid. "Can you beat that?." He smiled. "We always assumed that it was Daria."
"It still could be, Jake. It could be both of them." looking into his eyes for a sign of disappointment and not finding one. Her distant look disappeared, the focussed Helen returning instantaneously as she turned an urgent stare on him. "We can't make the same mistake we did when Tom and Daria fell asleep in her room. That was disastrous. It did more damage to our relationship with Daria then than we’d done for a long time."
Jake was contrite, perhaps ashamed of how he'd reacted that first time. "You're right, I know. Dammit, Helen, it's hard. I knew it had to happen and I thought I was ready for it. I wasn't."
"I know. She’s my little girl too, but neither of us exactly covered ourselves with glory." She sighed, and the far away look returned. "Are we becoming our parents, Jake? Was it really so long ago...? Sometimes it seems like lifetimes, others it's as if it was just yesterday. Maybe Abbie Hoffman was right when he said 'never trust anyone over thirty.' Remember? We couldn't imagine anyone being that old. I think I understand what he meant. Damn, Jake--how would we have thought about...this...then? What would we have thought about the way we behaved towards Daria?"
"We would have said it was paranoid. We would have said it was typical, hung-up, repressive, parental bullshit."
"Is that what it was? Really? Is that the way we are? Didn't we learn anything? Was it all just self-indulgent, tree-hugging hippie crap?"
"How could we have understood then what it's like? It's not paranoid for us to love our kids, to want to protect them. Maybe it's hung-up, it's probably even repressive. I guess it's definitely bullshit. But it's normal, maybe even natural. We couldn't have understood that then. We were kids ourselves."
Another sigh. "I suppose so. But a lot of what was going on was right, Jake. It was idealistic, but it was important. I'm not going to let us do to Quinn what we did to Daria."
"Well, it's not as if she's going to get pregnant."
Despite herself, Helen smiled. "I’m glad it’s Jane. She’s smart, she’s talented, she’s funny, and if appearances are anything to go by she’s returning Quinn’s affection. But she’s just been through some very difficult times. She’s vulnerable and she’s probably confused. You know, I’m more concerned about Jane than I am about Quinn. I'm seriously concerned about STDs too. Free love was all very well for us in the sixties--in those days there was nothing going around that a dose of antibiotics wouldn't cure...well, except for pregnancy of course, and that's not an issue here. But times have changed. If there's still time we’ve got to do what we can to minimise the risk."
"You're going to talk about that stuff to Quinn and Jane? Together? She’s going to hate us for it."
"No she’s not. She’s going to be acutely embarrassed and so is Jane, but she’s not going to hate us. I don’t think either of them are. The kids will forgive us for our failings, Jake. They’ll forgive us for our mistakes and even our neglect. Daria’s already in the process of forgiving us. But they wouldn’t forgive us for hypocrisy."
"Oh. Yeah. Of course."
Up in Daria’s cell the three girls were attempting to digest what had just happened.
As soon as the door closed, Daria breathed "Once again, Daria Anne Marie Morgendorffer completely misreads the situation! I don't think I know those people at all."
Although neither Jane nor Quinn recognised it, Daria was beginning to realise that she didn't know her parents. Well--she knew them as her parents of course; how they reacted to her, to each other, to Quinn, but not what was really going on underneath. That thing about the stunt driver was one of the only nuggets of real information she had, and she didn't understand that either. Amy had dropped a few hints from time to time, but nothing had prepared her for this. It seemed so incredibly out of character. It wasn't, of course, it just seemed that way because huge pieces of the jigsaw puzzle were missing.
"Anne Marie?" Jane squeaked. "You were named after...?"
"After my father had had too much Wild Turkey I suspect."
"Daria Anne Marie! I love it! It's so sweet!" Jane gushed.
Quinn sat down heavily on the bed. Her face was red and she was clearly angry and embarrassed. Normally she would have enjoyed the interplay between Jane and her sister, but she was too wrapped up in her own feelings of discomfort to have take any notice, so she turned to what always worked in the past when things got too rough--babble, her refuge from the storm. "Ugh. That was awful. That was the most embarrassing moment of my life. I mean--I’ve never talked to Mom or Dad about anything even vaguely personal. I almost wish they’d gone ballistic. At least it’d all be over and I could have eloped with you Jane, well, I mean I could have gone to live with you and I wouldn’t have to go back down there and face whatever appalling torture they’ve got lined up for me now and what the hell do you suppose they’re talking about--God, I can’t bear think mmmmfffffff. Mmmm."
Jane immobilised Quinn’s lips with her own. "Shut up Quinn. You did very well. I was very proud of you."
Quinn looked up at her questioningly. "Really? Were you?"
"No." Jane smiled. "You went to pieces completely. But I don’t blame you. It was hard." Reluctantly, Quinn smiled back.
"Come on, you two. Stop agonising about it. You have to admit that was pretty cool." Jane was smiling. Of the three, she was the only one who felt reasonably pleased with the way things had gone.
Quinn returned to petulant mode. "Cool? You call that cool? Cool would have been ‘Oh Quinn--we don’t want to know about this. Let’s change the subject. Here--take my platinum card and run off to Cashman’s for a new wardrobe for yourself and Jane.’ Now we’ve got to go back down there for more! What horrors are we in for this time?"
"I expect it’s going to get worse before it gets better." muttered Daria, thinking more about her misreading of her parents than about Quinn's question, though Quinn didn't interpret it that way.
"Shut up, Daria. What the hell would you know?" snapped Quinn, her voice surprisingly bitter.
Daria looked shocked. Three weeks ago, right here in her bedroom, she’d told Quinn about the changes she was going through, and Quinn, for the first time ever, had told her about some changes too.
Jeez Daria, that’s amazing. It took real courage to face up to that stuff and I’m glad that you felt you could tell me about it. This wouldn’t have happened a few months ago, would it?" She’d looked at the floor. "I guess we’re both changing."
"When I was lying in bed trying to sort out what I had to do, you were part of the analysis, Quinn. I knew that you’d been changing at least as much as I have and I wondered whether you’d already been through something--parallel." It had almost been a question.
"Um, since we’re kind of playing truth or dare without the dare, I’d kind of like to tell you about some...changes that I’m going through too. If you don’t mind that is?"
"I’d be really pleased if you would."
"Well, it’s not exactly what I’d call a parallel process, Daria. It’s certainly been a change, but I don’t think it’s the same sort of change that you’ve been going through."
"What do you mean?"
Quinn had paused, uncertain of whether to continue or not. "All this is secret sister stuff, isn’t it Daria? We won’t tell anyone about what we’re talking about tonight, will we?"
For once Daria had picked up the cues. "Of course not."
"OK. Here goes. I think I’m a lesbian."
"You? I don’t believe it Quinn. You like guys--you always have. Christ--you have them running after you like...the Pied...oh fuck." Her eyes had widened at that point. She’d assumed that Quinn’s treatment of her pack of yapping lap dogs had been based on a desire for revenge but this had made just as much, no--much more, sense. "How do you know? How long have you known?"
"Months. Maybe years. There’s this girl. I can’t stop thinking about her. She’s...beautiful. I want her so badly, Daria. Sometimes I just can’t stand it." A tear had rolled down her cheek.
"Have you told her?"
"Have you told anyone?"
"No. You’re the only person. You’re the only person I can talk to, Daria."
"Um, thanks. Is it anyone I know?"
"Oh God. It’s one of those vapid friends of yours in the Fashion Club isn’t it?" She’d immediately realised what a stupid, insensitive thing that was to say at that moment. "Oh damn, Sorry Quinn, I didn’t mean that."
"It’s OK, Daria. No. It’s not one of them."
Quinn had raised her head an looked at her older sister, a depth of fear and sorrow in her eyes that Daria had never imagined in her confident, popular sister. Then she’d dropped her head again and whispered "Jane".
Daria mentally recoiled from what had happened next. It was incredible that, after the violence with which she’d reacted to Quinn’s confession, Quinn had ever spoken to her again. She said, quietly "I'm sorry Quinn. I deserved that."
Not knowing about its precursor, Jane stared at them in amazement at the sudden tone that the conversation had taken. "What the hell is this all about?" She looked angrily at Quinn, who immediately looked contrite and said "Sorry. I didn’t mean that. I’m just...I mean...this is going from bad to worse."
Looking sadly at Jane, Daria admitted "Quinn’s right. I’ve been wrong about everything so far. I’m probably wrong about this too."
"At least you're consitent. Look, you two," Jane sighed, looking back and forth between them. "I have no idea what’s going to happen but I think if we get out of this with no more than embarrassment we’ll be doing pretty well, considering that they could have killed and eaten us."
They walked back downstairs and resumed their seats. Quinn and Jane had their arms around each other in a protective huddle.
Holding the floor as usual, Helen spoke. "Quinn, Jane, there are some things I need to say that I think we’re all going to find difficult and embarrassing. You may not want Daria to be here." She looked at Daria. "Daria, do you want to leave us to this by ourselves?"
Unspoken understanding passed between Quinn and Jane. "No Mom. We’d like her to stay. Daria’s Jane’s best friend and…" quietly "apart from Jane, I think she’s my best friend too, right now."
It was hard to say who was more astounded to hear Quinn say that.
"Alright, then. Girls, this is undoubtedly as embarrassing for me as it is for you, but it needs to be asked. Have you two, er…?" She raised an eyebrow, knowing she'd be understood.
"Mu-oom!" Oh God!
Jane blushed and gently shook her head. Daria smiled inside, suddenly enjoying the elaborate joke that Jane and Quinn had played on her, understanding the newfound intimacy that it represented between the three of them, and feeling secretly pleased, though she'd never admit it to Jane or Quinn.
"I’m going to ask that you don’t, for a little while. I’m going to make appointments for you both with Doctor Ross. I’ll ask her to order a full range of tests."
"Mu-oom! Eeewww. This isn’t right!" Quinn looked mortified. She sat bolt upright looking at Helen with wide eyes, pleading.
Helen continued. "I want you to wait until those tests come back. Doctor Ross will tell you what they mean. If everything’s clear, as I’m sure it will be, then you two can make up your own minds if and when you want a physical relationship. At least you'll be able to be confident that, well, you understand, I know."
"Mu-oom -- I don’t need any tests -- I’m...I’ve never..."
Helen jumped in quickly, trying to spare Quinn as much embarrassment as she could. "That’s not the point, Quinn. We want you and Jane to be confident that everything’s...alright. This isn’t a matter of trust with your father and me. We couldn’t stop you if you wanted to go ahead, we know that. But we need to do this for you and Jane. If there’s any problem, you can talk to us or not--it’s your decision. What’s important is that you can talk to Doctor Ross and know that it’s completely confidential."
She looked at Jane and continued, affectionately. "Jane, dear, this is a heartfelt request. I hope you understand."
Jane mind was working furiously trying to understand what was going on here. In one sense it was the most surreal situation she'd ever found herself in. Okay–let’s see. I’m sitting in Daria’s living room talking to Jake and Helen about having sex with Quinn. Yep, no doubt about it. I’m hallucinating. In another sense there was some stuff happening here that was much more unbelievable. Say something damn you, Lane.
"Sure. I understand. Um, thanks."
Helen continued. "Jane, I’d like to ask you some very personal questions if I may. If you prefer we could wait until later and talk in private?"
If Quinn can do it, I can do it. "No, that’s okay Mrs Morgendorffer. No secrets, eh?" Jane thought about the time that Helen had needed her help when she'd been worried about Daria. Helen was disconnected from her daughters but, compared to Jane's mother, she was a paragon of maternal concern. Jane suddenly felt very comfortable.
An expression of pure panic appeared on Quinn’s face. She jumped up and faced her mother. "Mu-oom, please, stop. You can’t do this to me!"
"It’s OK, Quinn, please..." Jane stood up, put her arm around Quinn and pulled her back down onto the couch.
Seeing the look on Jane’s face Quinn sat back down, but she fumed.
"Thank you, Jane. And, it’s ‘Helen’, please. We shouldn’t be formal about it, should we?."
"Helen. Thanks." Jane smiled.
"Jane, you’ve had a very rough time recently. Daria’s told me about some of it--I hope you don’t feel that she was breaking a confidence. I’m sure that she didn’t tell us anything that you wouldn’t have wanted us to know. I promise that we’ll treat any information as if you were our own daughter."
"Thanks...Helen. I really appreciate the way you’ve accepted me...and...this." She sighed, looking at Quinn.
I’m making it look a damn site easier than it is, Dear thought Helen. "There are two things I’d like to ask you about. If you feel uncomfortable you can say anything you like here and then we can get together later, at a convenient time and place, in private. The first thing is this. You seem to feel the same way about Quinn as she does about you. Have you thought that this might just be a reaction to recent events? As I said, you’ve had a hard time and the attraction of someone--anyone--who offers some comfort and concern can be very strong. Do you think that you might end up regretting this quite quickly?"
"Quinn asked me the same question." A look of surprise appeared on Helen's face. Yeah--I was surprised too Jane thought. "I understand what you’re saying--drowning people grasping at straws. All I can say is that this feels right for me. I’m comfortable with it and I really feel...strongly for Quinn. I can't say what might happen tomorrow any more than anyone else can. I know that it’s not going to be easy, but I’m going to do everything I can to make it work. That’s all I can say."
"That’s a fine answer, Jane," replied Helen, the smile on her face indicating that she approved. "The second thing is a little more delicate. This isn’t actually a question and I don’t want you to respond right now, please just listen. I’m worried that you might be suffering from bouts of clinical depression. I’d like you to think about having a chat with Doctor Ross about that. If there is a clinical problem there then there are lots of ways in which it can be treated. Depression is unfortunately a very common condition and you shouldn’t feel bad or at all embarrassed about talking to someone about it. If I’m wrong, that’s fine. If I’m right, then that’s fine too, because it can be helped. Of course we’ll pay for any expenses."
The little knot of fear escaped and pounced. Jane buried her head in her hands.
Seeing Jane's desondency, Helen’s maternal instinct took over. She walked over and stood knelt down in front of Jane and hugged her. Jane put her head on Helen’s shoulder hugged her back. After a few minutes, Jane lifted her head, wiped her eyes on her hand and quietly said "Thanks".
She never did that to me thought Daria, looking on with a sense of wonder. Feeling a slight knot in the pit of her stomach, she found herself, completely unexpectedly, repressing a sense of anger at the fact that Helen seemed to be treating Jane like a...normal mother might treat a normal daughter.
Quinn was oblivious. Wrapped in her own embarrassment, she’d missed all the subtlety in all that had just happened. "Jeez," she said while crossing her arms and turning away from her parents, "you didn't give Daria this much grief when she started sleeping with Tom."
The collective gasp from Daria, Helen and Jake was nearly drowned out by Quinn's own as Jane's hand clamped down on her leg like a vise.
"Remind me again why I love you," Jane said, with a tone of bemused vexation.
"Not right here in front of them," Quinn replied indignantly, pulling her thigh free.
Helen looked at Daria with a pained expression. "We’ll deal with that later, Daria."
Helen knocked on Daria’s door. Hearing a faint voice granting entry, Helen walked in and sat on the bed, watching her daughter as she lay on her back staring at the ceiling, not saying anything, yielding to Daria the right to start the conversation.
When she did, it wasn’t exactly what Helen had hoped for.
"Did you ask Grandma’s permission before you did it with that stunt driver?" Daria’s voice was icy.
Helen blushed. "Touché Daria. I suppose I’d just hoped that you and I might have a closer relationship than my mother and I did."
"I don’t know why you should think that." snapped Daria, her face a study in bitterness.
More damage than I'd hoped Helen thought sadly as she regarded her daughter. "You're right, Daria." the older woman said, her voice tinged with regret. "I have no reason to expect any better from you than I get. I’d just hoped that, well, after our little chat that night when you and Tom fell asleep in your room that you’d at least understand that I was hoping... I mean... Honey, your father and I are both very sorry for the way we behaved then."
Daria sat up. "I talked Quinn and Jane into telling you because I thought you’d go ballistic when you found out, and it was better that you found out directly from them than by accident. I didn’t really think you’d be too shocked to find out about Tom and me--after all, it had to happen sooner or later. But I was totally wrong about Quinn and Jane." Taking a deep breath, Daria admitted, "And you. And you, dammit! I can’t understand why you were so accepting of their relationship. Nevertheless I know that I’m a damn great hypocrite for talking Quinn and Jane into telling you about their relationship while I kept quiet about Tom. If it makes you feel any better, I’m sure that I’m going to suffer for that for a long time. But why…" she swallowed, "why are you acting so much more like a mother towards Jane than you’ve ever acted towards me?"
What the hell....? thought Helen. I know we don't connect as much as I'd like us to, but we do connect, sometimes. It's not that bad, is it?
"I try, Daria. I hope that, if you think about it, you’ll remember times when we have connected. You said yourself that I hang on your every word. You don't seriously think that knowing you feel bad about this makes me feel better? Is that really what you think--that I take pleasure in your pain?"
"Yes." There was a certainty, a finality, about it that tore Helen’s heart like an obsidian blade. "I know that I saw a side of you tonight that I’ve never seen before. I know that you’ve shown more concern for Jane over the last few weeks than I ever remember you showing me. Or Quinn. I just don't understand it! Why did you react so supportively to Quinn’s and Jane’s relationship? You freaked out when you thought that Tom and I might be having sex! You never calmly suggested that we should--you know. Damn. You never invited Tom to call you Helen."
"Daria… sweetie… I treated Jane the way I did because your father and I like Jane very much--we like Tom too, of course--but more particularly because we thought that’s what you would have wanted." Gingerly, she reached out and held her daughter’s hand, desperately hoping for even a gentle squeeze in return, but not getting it. But when she looked at Daria she was amazed to see that, for the first time since she’d been five or six years old, her daughter was crying. For the first time since Daria had been five or six Helen felt a surge of maternal love for her and, instinctively, she cradled Daria in her arms.
In the minutes that passed between that moment and their next word, Helen re-lived eighteen years in agonising detail
She remembered Daria’s birth, the inexplicable emotional bond that was born the moment that she first saw the baby that had been growing inside her for the last nine months. The joy on Jake’s face; the overpowering sense of peace when she held Daria to her breast to suckle for the first time. The sleepless nights; the worry when she was sick; the frustration of raising a toddler during the "terrible twos" while coping with another baby; the first day of school; the concern that Daria wasn’t getting on with the other children and the growing understanding of just how exceptional her little girl was. Then the almost sudden change from precociously brilliant little girl to the still brilliant but withdrawn, introverted child. The growing distance between them and the black sense of loss as the bond between her and the daughter she loved so much was lost as Daria withdrew from her. It left Helen wondering whether it was her fault; but she finally accepted that, no matter how hard she tried there was nothing she could do to bring back what had been lost. The vain attempt to fill the gaping hole with personal achievement despite the absolute certainty that no amount of success would ever fill that chasm. Or the other one.
She was feeling emotions that she thought had died thirteen years ago. Now, like then, as if the intervening years hadn't passed at all, there were no words. Just the primal bond between mother and child.
And suddenly, from underneath the sobs, from somewhere inside, a little girl looked back at her from behind Daria’s eyes.
"How did it go?"
Helen seemed only vaguely aware of Jake as she changed and got ready for bed.
"Honey?" He sat up and put down his book.
"Oh. Sorry." She climbed into bed beside him, but she had a far away look. "I’ve just been speaking with someone I haven’t seen in a long time."
"What? Did someone phone?"
"No. I mean in Daria’s room."
"Someone was in Daria’s room?"
"No Jake. I mean Daria."
"But I thought you said…"
"I’m sorry dear--I’m being obtuse. We haven't understood what an extraordinary young woman we’ve bred, Jake. People used to believe that strange children were the result of fairies exchanging one of their own children for a human child. They called them changelings. We’ve outgrown those superstitions but, honestly, if I didn’t know better…"
"You’re saying that Daria’s a fairy? But I thought Quinn…"
"Jake! Please! Listen--from the time she was five or six she’s been constructing a protective barrier around herself. I’d decided that she was an intellectually brilliant but essentially emotionless person but I couldn’t have been more wrong. Oh, she’s intellectually brilliant all right, but she’s emotionally brilliant too, and I think that’s why she built that barrier. She couldn’t reconcile her intellectual understanding of reality with a little child’s need to believe that the world was essentially a good place. She could see that it wasn’t and the pain was too much, so she learned to shut off her emotions and rely solely on her intellect. It worked while she was a child, but she’s not a child any more. Tom finally broke through and forced her to make an all-or-nothing decision. She made her choice, and she’s had to come to terms with twelve or thirteen years of emotional repression in a matter of weeks. I don’t know anything about psychology but I’m willing to bet that there aren’t many people who could do what Daria’s done and stay sane. The process isn’t over. It may not be over for a long time--it’s almost as if, emotionally, Daria’s waking up, a little at a time. Tonight she let me see a part of her that I hadn’t seen since she was tiny. Oh Jake, you have no idea… how…"
Helen’s voice cracked with emotion as she tried to tell Jake about it, but she knew that he couldn’t fully understand.
Jake had simply accepted Daria for what she was and he happily adapted to the changing relationship on Daria’s terms. He loved her deeply, but it wasn’t the same thing. There was a fundamental difference between the relationship between father and daughter and mother and daughter; no less important, but not the same. Not the same at all.
But Jake could see how deeply Helen’s conversation with Daria had affected her and, in his way, he shared in her pleasure.
"You know, she was jealous of the way I’d been treating Jane?"
"But Jane’s her best friend. Isn’t it what she wanted?"
"It was what the eighteen year old wanted. The five year old wanted me all to herself."
"She was responding exactly the way that a five year old would--pure ego. She wasn’t thinking, she was just feeling--feeling hurt. She accused me of enjoying her pain. That hurt, but then I saw that look in her eyes and…" Her voice was unsteady, but then she caught he breath. "…I understood what I was dealing with."
"What did you do?"
"I hugged her."
Jake was silent, trying to understand, giving Helen time to work through the memory.
"Little children don’t respond to reason, but they respond to being hugged. I think it reassured her, gave her confidence. She started hugging me back. Oh Jake, I can’t describe what an extraordinary sensation it was. Do you know how long it’s been since Daria and I hugged like that?" It was a rhetorical question and Jake recognised it as that. Helen was distant again, re-living the experience.
"I’m sorry. I didn’t mean those things. I don’t know why I said them."
"It’s alright. I understand."
"I wish I did."
"Not everything’s amenable to deconstruction, Daria. There are some things that just resist analysis--you have to accept or reject them on their own terms."
"I guess so, but I don’t really know how to handle it."
"You’re not used to dealing with your emotions, are you?"
"Remember the talk we had that day when you came in to see me at work?"
"Yes. You were honest with me then. I know that you always tried to do your best. Dammit Mom, why was I so mean to you?"
"Well, I don't know exactly, but perhaps it's because you’ve had to confront things about yourself and about other people over the last few weeks that you haven’t had to deal with before. It’s been a long time since you’ve had to work with things on an emotional level and so you’re dealing with them from a position of emotional immaturity. Do you want to talk about it?"
"Perhaps, but do you know what I really want to talk about?"
"No, but whatever it is, it's alright with me."
"I want to talk about you."
"I went into her room intending to lecture her about not telling me the she was having sex with Tom. I’d been hoping for some mother-daughter intimacy but I got far more than I bargained for. I tried so hard, Jake, but Daria just wouldn’t let down the façade until tonight but, when she did, she let it down with a bang. In one regard we owe Tom an awful lot. He’s been better for Daria than a whole herd of psychoanalysts. I shudder to think what might have happened if she’d fallen for someone less…understanding than Tom. I don’t think many young men could deal with Daria. For that matter I don’t think many world-leading experts could. She wants to know what...what made us react the way we did...what makes us tick. I said that I'd tell everything. Not tonight, of course, but soon."
"We owe it to her. She can handle it."
"I guess so. It sounds as if they're both doing a pretty good job of working things out for themselves. A damn sight better than I did, no thanks to that bastard of a father of mine."
"Come one, Jake. We both know that that wouldn’t have been a problem if it hadn’t been for that party."
"Damn party." He smiled. "But the consequences weren't all bad, were they?"
Her eyes widened. "Jake! Don’t! Stop that! Don’t…stop…that…don’t stop that…"
"No. I refuse. I’m a virgin. I don’t have herpes or AIDS or, or any of those things. Why should I have to have tests? Why should I?" Quinn was in high-petulant mode again.
"Nookie." Jane took Quinn’s hand and guided it up under her top until it was resting on her breast. Quinn flushed, a look of surprise and anticipation on her face.
"Uh uh. Not until we’ve had the tests. If I have to do it, so do you, and that’s final." She firmly removed Quinn’s hand from under her top. It wasn’t easy.
"I prefer Demon Lover."
"You aren’t worried that there might be, um, something…wrong?"
Jane chuckled. "No."
"Then why are you so insistent?"
"Don't your understand what’s going on here? Your parents know damn well that you’re a virgin. They know that there’s nothing wrong with you--they’re protecting you, Quinn. They know squat about me. For all they know I’ve been sleeping round for years, I could have every sexually transmitted disease known to medical science!"
"Well, for all they--and you--know, I might have."
"Then why are they making me take the tests too?"
"Jeez Quinn--see the forest for the trees. They want to spare me the embarrassment! "
Quinn looked abashed. "I’ll take the tests."
Jane smiled. "Thanks. Say--your Dad’s not as dumb as he makes out, is he?"
"Of course not. It’s an act. How else would he get any attention in a house full of three women, especially if those three women were Mom, Daria and, um, me?"
She chuckled. "Yeah. But sometimes it tends to get out of control. I think he’s been doing it so long that it, you know, takes over. Sometimes I think there's something else behind it too."
On a sunny afternoon in Lawndale two girls walked out of the Lawndale Medical Centre. The shorter one was almost dancing.
"Clear. That’s so great."
"You sound as if you had doubts."
"Well, after what you said about all those diseases, and sleeping around for years, I suppose…"
"I didn’t mean it. I was just making the point that your Mom and Dad were being sensible to take precautions."
"I know, but you seemed pretty...confident."
"Why? Have you had those tests before?"
"Oh. Oh! Then…?"
"If you tell anyone I’ll kill you. I have a reputation to uphold."
These days it was impossible for Daria to walk into Tom's room without a little shiver running down her spine. Right down.
After the events of the last few days Daria was feeling a sensation that she was beginning to know as sexual tension. Her analytical side was taking some pleasure in a growing understanding of the psychological impact of sex, its capacity to act as a relief valve. It was as if the tensions were building up an explosive pressure that was screaming for release. That was nothing new, of course. What was new was how the pressure was demanding to be released, and how aggressive it was making her.
"Is anybody home?"
"When are you expecting them back?"
"Not for a while I guess. Mom and Dad are at a fundraiser for the Lawndale Fine Arts Association and they dragged Elsie along, kicking and screaming as usual. Those things usually go on for hours."
Daria turned and kissed him, starting slowly but rapidly becoming extremely passionate about it. "Clothes off. Bed. Now!"
* * *
"She..wants...us...to...come.....to......dinner......next.........Saturday..............Oh Ghoooooood Aaahhh haha"
"Wow. That was interesting. Was that an orgasm or a laugh." asked Tom when he'd caught his breath.
Daria slowly, deliciously, raised herself then lay down beside him. "Both. Sorry, I thought of something Jane said just as, um, you know."
"You’re fantasizing about Jane while we’re making love? Gee–now I really feel special."
"Well, Jane's not usually as good as you--oops."
"That’s nice. And you’re much better than Kevin."
They laughed and hugged each other None of the sense of wonder had gone out of their lovemaking, but urgent fumblings had given way to a more relaxed approach, and they'd started to learn more about each other's preferences as well as their own. It hadn't taken long for Daria to realise that she liked being on top, since it gave her almost total control. And Tom? Well, as Tom said, he liked to watch and the view was better from underneath.
"So--Dinner. Where? What's the occasion?"
"Chez Pierre. She said that she just wanted us all to go out together. I think she's feeling--I don't know--guilty perhaps."
"Guilty? From the sound of things your Mom and Dad have been overcome with a burning desire to treat you both as adults."
"I know. It's scary. Any minute now they're going to give Quinn and me the keys to the RV and the Lexus. At that point I'm calling the CIA with irrefutable evidence that aliens walk among us."
"Let me get this straight--you suspect that your parents have been replaced by space aliens. Those space aliens are supporting Quinn and Jane's lesbian relationship and our heterosexual sexual relationship. Further, they've invited us all to Chez Pierre next Friday because they feel guilty about how they've been treating you? And you want to turn them in?"
"Well, if you put it like that--hey--what are you looking at me like that for?"
"Just checking for antennae and tinges of green. Hmm. No green that I can see. I suppose hose bumps there could be concealing antennae."
Daria blushed. "Pretty small antennae--they must be for short range transmission only."
Tom leaned over and kissed her. "Daria, two things my family has taught me: quantity is no substitute for quality and good taste is never ostentatious. You, and they, are beautiful."
Damn, she thought, feeling warm all over, he really believes it. "Then it's true what they say--love does make you blind."
Tom looked around the room. "Who said that?"
"I've been wanting to ask you, Snookles, how's all this affected your relationship with Jane?"
"We don't hang out as much as we used to, but then I was feeling guilty about hanging out with you and...oh jeez-- you know all about that stuff. Now there's no guilt. We still spend time together at school and we go for the odd slice afterwards. The best thing about it is that we're less...reserved. It's not that we felt there were any secrets between us, but now...well, you can't go through what we went through without becoming...closer."
"Sounds as if it's becoming a habit. You're closer to your Mom."
"Yeah. That was weird. I suddenly felt this intense surge of jealousy about how Mom was treating Jane. It was completely illogical--she was treating Jane exactly the way I wanted her to, but it was as if I had no control over it. I said some things to her that just weren’t true at all. It was like I was deliberately trying to hurt her. It ended up in a very, um, emotional scene. She got defensive at first but then, all of a sudden, she stopped being defensive and just, well, it was just as if she understood. I don’t understand it but, you know, I actually think she did."
"It makes perfect sense to me in the light of what you’ve been going through."
"Mom said the same thing. What’s the deal--everyone seems to understand me better than I understand myself."
"I don’t think it’s that. I just think that you, well, you haven’t exactly let people get close to you until now--I mean close to you emotionally. And that includes yourself. I mean, I don't think you understand your own emotions very well yet. You might have underestimated how hard it was going to be."
"It’s all your fault you know."
"Uh huh. You started this whole thing. If you hadn’t been so damned nice I probably would have had a brief affair with a stunt driver, been permanently emotionally traumatised and run off to join a radical militant lesbian underground. I’d have had to spend the rest of my life in South America on the run, no doubt forming an international drug cartel to make ends meet. I probably would have ended up as military dictator of a small republic."
"Wow. I prevented that? I deserve a medal!"
"No, I would have enjoyed it. But you’ve probably doomed me to a life of being shackled firmly by the bonds of conventional society. And for that you must be punished."
"Yes. Stand by to be boarded."
"Whew--is that all? I thought you were going to kick me in the shins again."
"No, I--ah, what the hell, you only live once."
Daria came back a few minutes later with two fresh slices of the Pizza King's best pepperoni pizza.
"Thanks Amiga. I've missed our after-school assignations."
"Me too, but I think I'd prefer it if we used another word. 'Assignation' sounds so, well, so, um..."
"Daria!" Jane smirked. "Do I detect just the faintest hint of homophobia?"
Daria glared at her freakin' friend. "May I remind you of the fact that if it hadn't been for me you two would probably never have gotten together at all? I just don't want there to be any possibility of any...misunderstandings and I don't want to make Quinn jealous. There are plenty of people who assume that just because you and I are good friends we must be lesbians."
Jane affected shocked expression number three. "Eeewww--lesbians!"
"I don't know whether to take that as a compliment or an insult."
"What are you short of?"
"Then it was a compliment. Anyway, at least I don't have to worry that you're going to steal my girlfriend."
"It's a good thing I'm hungry or you'd be wearing this pizza."
"Now that has artistic possibilities!"
"Stop that. Last time you had creative ideas Tom ended up limping for days."
A more serious expression appeared on Daria's face. "So, um, have you been to see Doctor Ross?"
"Sure. Everything was clear."
"I meant about...the other thing."
"Oh. No. Daria, I feel great. Really. I've never felt better."
"Would you think about it, though? Please? If that ever happens again, well, I don't know how many rabbits there are in the hat."
"Okay. I promise."
That put a stop to the conversation. Daria was worried about the fact that Jane didn't seem to see any need to pursue the matter, but she didn't want to labour the point. Jane clearly was happy and Daria wasn't going to rain on her parade this time. Tomorrow could wait.
Jane answered the doorbell, again trying to control her excitement.
"Hi DL. Daria said you had something to show me? "
Jane indicated the house with a sweep of her hand.
"What? Your house?"
"My empty house. The Spiral's got a gig at the Zon and Mom's got an exhibition in Chicago. There's no-one alive but you and me."
Quinn's eyes widened and she looked up at Jane.
Jane smiled. "I haven't got a bearskin rug or a string quartet, but if a plain old bed's good enough for you I've put Handel's Fireworks Suite on the CD player. It's very erotic."
"We'll have all the bare skin we need, and we can make our own fireworks." grinned Quinn.
Just as she had that night a few weeks ago Quinn reached up, almost tentatively, and kissed her. I don't slow dance until after the fifth date. Her words came back to her. There had never been a fifth date--she'd made sure of that. If only she'd known. Perhaps I did. But she knew now. Time for that first slow dance...
Jane lay on her back. Quinn was snuggled up against her, her eyes closed, smiling, Jane’s arm around her.
"So, will you remind me now?"
"Why I love you."
Quinn sat up and looked into Jane’s eyes and recited, with feeling that took Jane’s breath away, her very favourite Elizabeth Barrett Browning sonnet.
If thou must love me, let it be for nought
Except for love's sake only. Do not say
"I love her for her smile ... her look ... her way
Of speaking gently, ... for a trick of thought
That falls in well with mine, and certes brought
A sense of pleasant ease on such a day"--
For these things in themselves, Beloved, may
Be changed, or change for thee,--and love, so wrought,
May be unwrought so. Neither love me for
Thine own dear pity's wiping my cheeks dry,--
A creature might forget to weep, who bore
Thy comfort long, and lose thy love thereby!
But love me for love's sake, that evermore
Thou may'st love on, through love's eternity.
She spoke softly, almost a whisper. "Do you love me, Jane?"
A pause. Jane rolled over onto her side, put her hand on Quinn’s shoulder and slowly ran it down her arm to her hand. She lifted Quinn’s hand to her lips, looked into her eyes, and kissed the tip of her finger.
Thanks, for all kinds of stuff, to Renfield, C. L. Basso, David Falkayn, Mike Yamiolkoski, Wyvern, Mistress Theazara, Gystex, Brother Grimace and Brandon League.
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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