Disclaimer: Daria and associated characters are owned by MTV. This is fan fiction written for entertainment only. No money or other negotiable currency or goods have been exchanged.
Original characters and plot copyright Richard J. Lobinske. 2004.
This is the eighteenth story in the Falling into College series.
"Well guys, what do you think?" Quinn Morgendorffer asked her friends, Stacy Rowe, Tiffany Blum-Deckler, and Sandi Griffin. The young red-head stood before them in a pale blue prom gown. Perfectly cut and expertly fitted.
Stacy's hands went to her cheeks. "Quinn! That is so perfect!"
Tiffany looked intently for a second. "Yeah…perfect."
Sandi carefully walked around Quinn. "I must say, that is an excellent choice of gown, almost as good as mine."
Quinn smiled in pleasure. "Thanks, guys." She moved in front of a three-panel mirror and spun before it.
Stacy looked again at the dress. "That is so beautiful. But, how can you afford something like this? My parents would have a fit."
"I've got a plan, don't worry."
Tiffany said, "But…won't they notice?"
Quinn smiled. "My Dad will be too distracted."
Sandi put her hands on her hips. "Quinn, don't you think you should share such valuable techniques for getting major purchases past our parents."
Quinn got a little nervous. "Um…Sandi. This is kind of a one-use plan. It wouldn't work for any of you."
Sandi continued, "Why don't you let us be the judge of that."
"It requires an older sister…off to college."
"Are you using that…?" Sandi stopped, and started again. "You mean your sister would actually help you with something like this?"
"Um. No. She doesn't know."
Sandi raised an eyebrow. "Ahh. You've got some dirt on her."
"Yeah, kind of. By the way, who's taking you to the prom, Sandi?"
Sandi stood proud. "I'm making a careful appraisal of the applicants, and expect to complete it by Tuesday. You?"
"I don't know, yet." Quinn looked at the other two girls. "What about you?"
Stacy smiled. "I'm going with Joey."
Tiffany tilted her head. "I'm going with Jeffy."
Stacy looked questioningly, "Quinn, I'm surprised they didn't ask you."
"Well, I…guess they really wanted to go with each of you. Have fun." I hope I can find somebody.
Quinn quietly opened the front door of her home. Her move toward the stairs was stopped by her father's voice. "Quinn! How's it going?" Jake crossed the distance between the sofa and the front door quickly.
Quinn smiled at him sweetly. "Hi, Daddy. I had a nice afternoon with my friends and I'm going upstairs to study for tomorrow's history test."
"Good for you. Hey, that looks like a garment bag. Pick up something special for the prom next Saturday?"
"Yeah, Daddy. My prom dress. I need to get it hung on a rack soon. Don't want any unsightly wrinkles."
"Sure." As Quinn began to ascend the stairs, Jake asked, "Quinn, didn't I let you have my gold card this morning?"
Quinn turned. "Yeah, that's right." Quinn removed the card from her purse and handed it to Jake. "Thanks."
Before she began to move, Jake asked, "Uh, did you buy it on my card?"
Quinn turned and smiled. "Daddy, did Daria call while I was gone?"
"No, were you expecting a call?"
"Well, kind of - a little girl talk."
"Oh, sure. Now about that…"
Quinn partially turned away and spoke in a mutter carefully measured to just be heard by Jake. "I mean, I would expect her to talk to her own sister about the first time she slept with a boy…" Even if it was completely innocent and nothing happened between them.
"Oops. Sorry Daddy. I need to stop talking to myself like that."
Jake grasped the railing. "Daria…slept…Gahhhh! I need to call…"
"Daddy, she's having finals this week, maybe you should wait..."
"But…No, I need to find out now."
"Daddy, do you want to upset her before her big tests?"
"Affect her grades…You want her to keep that four-point-oh average, don't you?"
"Oh…um…yeah. Better not upset her. I better wait until the end of the week."
Quinn rapidly moved up the stairs and secured the door to her room. She gave herself a small grin as she hung up her gown. "That is going to be one interesting conversation between Dad and Daria." She removed her history books and began to prepare to study. "Only Demartino would give us a test on Monday morning." Quinn's lips formed a grim smile. "I probably shouldn't do tricks like that to Daria, but she can handle it. But, she will make me pay for it." Quinn sat at her desk and began to review notes. A small photo of Daria caught her eye. Quinn folded her arms on the desk, rested her weight on them and addressed the photo. "How do you get so lucky?"
Quinn nervously noted the banner in the hallway in front of the main office of Lawndale High.
Senior Prom 2000
"The Future Is Ours"
Saturday, May 6
A loud crowd was formed under the banner, intent upon the office door. Quinn approached a blond-haired boy. "Jamie, what's going on?"
He turned. "Hi, Quinn. A bunch of police went into the office a few minutes ago."
"But, they took Ms Li's computers already, what are they after this time?"
"I don't know. This grading mess is a bummer. The whole football team had to take a bunch of extra tests. I hope I passed, I don't want to go to summer school."
"I'm sure you'll do fine, Jamie."
"You remembered my name!"
"It's been a lot easier when you're not part of a crowd."
"Going to the prom with anyone?"
Quinn felt a touch sadder. "So, you got over my sister?"
Jamie looked down at that comment. "I guess it was silly. All because I saw that picture in your house last summer."
Quinn placed a hand on his shoulder. "Don't be hard on yourself. She is very pretty when she allows it to be seen. It just shows you have good taste."
A movement in the crowd broke the conversation. Two uniformed police officers were escorting a handcuffed Ms. Li out of the office. A man in a grey suit followed. Li's face was red in fury. "You'll pay for this! This…this is outrageous! I'm going to have the badge of each one of you! I didn't give you permission to be on school property!"
After school that day, Quinn sat across the kitchen table from Kevin Thompson. She was putting away books while Kevin began to clear empty soda cans. Quinn looked at Kevin with a bit of compassion. "I heard that some of the football players are blaming you for Ms. Li's arrest and Coach Gibson's firing."
"I guess I am to blame."
"Uh…cause, I played along all the time."
"So did all those other players. That makes them just as guilty."
"You and your father made a mistake by going along, but you were just the one that got caught in the middle when a teacher decided to say no."
"Hey, you kind of sounded like Daria there."
Quinn shook her head and rested it on her palm. "I did, didn't I?"
Quinn looked at him. "Say, you don't seem to be excited about the prom."
Kevin shrugged. "Why? I'm not going."
Quinn was surprised. "I didn't think people were holding this mess against you like that."
"Nahh. Not that. Who wants to go with a twenty year-old loser?"
"You haven't asked anyone?"
"Nope. Like I said, why bother?"
Quinn was silent.
"At least I went last year with Britt."
Quinn gave him a sour look. "Anyway, good luck with Mr. O'Neill's quiz tomorrow. See you on Wednesday."
Helen Morgendorffer held the cordless telephone as she spoke to Quinn and Jake, who were sitting in the living room. "I was thinking about calling Daria to see how her finals are going. Anyone else want to talk?"
Quinn saw a slight twitch in the copy of the Lawndale Sun-Herald that Jake was reading. She leaned over the back of the sofa. "Mo-om. You know how Daria gets if you interrupt her studying. Why don't we just wait until they're done before calling? That way we can also make plans for car shopping next week."
"But, I'm sure she will like hearing a friendly voice during this time."
Quinn raised an eyebrow. "And you think she will consider us friendly voices?"
Quinn raised her hands, palms up. "Mom, she has Jane, Karen, and that boyfriend of hers in Boston. She'll be fine."
"Oh, maybe you're right. But I will call her on Friday."
"Sure." Hopefully they won't make me change plans the day before prom…but I don't find a date, it won't matter.
Claire Defoe stared at the microphone. "I wish I had Jane here to fill in my class instead of that substitute." She keyed the switch on the microphone. "Good morning, everybody. This is Claire Defoe, the Acting Principal. As most of you are aware, Ms. Li was placed under arrest yesterday…"
She remembered the day before.
In the lounge, various teachers were busily discussing Li's arrest and the fallout it could have among the faculty. Many had either voluntarily, or through coercion, participated in the grade fixing. Superintendent Cartwright walked in and asked everyone but Claire to leave. He turned to her. "Ms. Defoe. The grading scandal appears to have run rather deep in this school. As far as can be determined by the last few years' grades, you've been one of the few not participating."
"Yes, Mr. Cartwright. I was not aware of it."
"Among the teachers not implicated in this scandal, you have the highest seniority and no disciplinary actions. Therefore, I'm naming you as Acting Principal until the end of the school year. We should be able to hire a new principal over the summer. Mind you, if you do a good job this next month, an application for permanent status will be warmly received by the school board."
Claire was shocked. "Me?"
"Yes, Ms. Defoe. You're our best option. You have the seniority and a clean record. Both are critically needed, now."
"What about Anthony Demartino?"
"He has too many disciplinary actions against him. Plus that little stay in the Brookside Rest Home a couple years ago."
"Oh, yeah. What about Janet Barch?"
"Do you really want every male on this campus castrated?"
"She is a little strident. What about Timothy O'Neill?"
"His…involvement with Ms. Barch would mean her reassignment to avoid any nepotism…and, I can't get any other school to take her."
"She handled the books during the Ultra Cola incident last year. We've begun investigating that incident a little deeper now, too."
Claire looked down in defeat. "When do I start?"
"Tomorrow. We'll bring in a substitute to cover your classes for the rest of the year."
Sandi sat up straight at the lunch table, with Stacy, Tiffany and Quinn. "After very careful consideration, I have made my decision. I will be attending the prom with Robert."
All three looked at Sandi with incredulous stares.
Sandi added, "He is a fine and upstanding gentleman; we will make an exemplary looking couple."
Stacy said, "Well, he is always so polite."
"He does look good," Tiffany added.
"I think he will make a wonderful date for you, Sandi." You'd so die if I reminded you I once set him up with my sister.
Sandi looked sidelong at Quinn. "Well, have you decided on a date yet?"
"Quinn. The prom is in only four days."
"I know. I'm just having a difficult time deciding."
"It sounds more like you can't find one."
Stacy interjected. "Sandi, there's no reason to say things like that."
"Stacy…" Sandi glared.
Stacy flinched, but recovered. "Sandi, please. I'm sure Quinn will have a date for the prom."
Sandi backed down in surprise. "Just a thought."
Tiffany looked at Stacy, and smiled.
Charlene Thompson was preparing to drive Quinn home from her Wednesday tutoring session with her son. The two teens were talking as they walked to the car.
Kevin said, "People are saying you don't have a date for the prom."
Quinn tossed her hair to one side. "You know how school rumors are."
"Whew. I was worried there."
Quinn gave him a small smile.
Kevin asked, "So, who are you going with?"
"Well…um…I know it's late, but…I'm still comparing offers."
"Oh, yeah. Good night, Quinn."
Quinn got into the passenger side of Charlene's gold sedan. As they began the drive to the Morgendorffer home, Charlene looked at Quinn. "You're not fooling me. You don't have a date for the prom and you don't have any waiting offers."
Quinn gave her a weak smile and sadly said, "No."
"You could go with Kevin."
"He said he wasn't interested in the prom. He went last year with Brittany."
The car came to a stop at a traffic light; Charlene turned her torso to face Quinn. "He's lonely. He went from Big-Man-On-Campus to outcast. He doesn't want to admit how lonely he's been. Outside of you coming over for tutoring, he doesn't see anybody."
"Mrs. Thompson, I know you're trying to help. But, I think that dating Kevin will make tutoring difficult."
"Quinn, I've realized that you two won't make a good couple like that. But, a prom is not a lifetime. Think about it?"
Quinn nodded. "Okay."
Quinn sat at her kiosk in the Children's Department of Cashman's. "Two days to go, and no date. Well, that dress is going to do me a lot of good." She watched parents deal with their children, some with patience and others with annoyance. Between ringing up customers, she thought back on how her dating life had changed so much in the last year. She had gone from a having date or three every night…to not one in the last month. The hypothetical 'biggest' date of high school was approaching. It was looking like she would spend the evening studying instead of attending, just like she had much of the last few months. Daria, I am becoming like you. Quinn smiled. Daria, even if you don't have any ideas, talking with you always seems to help. I'll call you when I get home tonight.
Karen Myerson, Daria's roommate, answered the phone. "Hello."
"Hey, Karen. Is Daria around?"
"Well…um she is. But she isn't talking to anyone right now."
"This is Quinn…her sister," Quinn peevishly responded.
"I know. She isn't talking to anybody, including me or Jane."
Quinn became instantly concerned. "She's not talking to either of you?"
"No. Quinn…" Karen dropped her voice and cupped her hand over the mouthpiece to muffle it further. She looked to the other end of the room, where Daria was hunched over at her desk, writing with the silver fountain pen she preferred for her diary. Quietly, Karen said, "She and Michael broke up Monday. Something more happened today, I haven't been able to get a word out of her."
"I wish I were kidding."
"Any idea of what happened?"
"He got accepted to an overseas college. The rest gets long, it may be best to wait. I would rather Daria gave you the details, when she's ready."
Quinn felt her stomach churn. "She must be…crap; she doesn't take being hurt well. Despite all her outer toughness, when she's really hurt…" Quinn remembered getting her gown past her father. "Oh, my God! Oh, my God!"
"I know. She really is taking this hard."
"No, something else. Damn. Karen, do not, under any circumstances, allow my father to talk to her until I say the coast is clear."
Cautious, Karen asked, "Why?"
"Trust me on this; don't let him talk to her."
Probing, "What did you do?"
"I…wanted to distract Daddy from how much my prom gown cost…"
"I said…that I heard she and Michael slept together at Jane's birthday party."
"So did Derek and I. It…you left out a few important details, didn't you?"
"Um…yeah. That's why it was a distraction. I didn't know…"
"Okay, I understand. I'll make sure he doesn't talk to her. You had better get the full story to him as soon as possible. I don't want to be in your shoes if Daria finds out."
"I don't either. I'm sorry, I didn't know."
"You couldn't. But, you better cover yourself fast."
"Are you three still coming to Lawndale next week?"
"As far as I know. Though, unless we can get Daria to talk, apartment hunting is going to be difficult."
"Please, you and Jane keep an eye on her."
"Quinn, did you need your sister for something?"
"A little advice, but…it's nothing."
"I'll give it a shot, if you don't mind."
A few minutes later, Quinn steeled herself and dialed the phone again.
Kevin answered, "Hello."
"Hi. It's Quinn."
"Hey, what's up?"
"Would you like to go to the prom?"
Quinn walked down the stairs, gown in one hand, and receipt in the other. To the observer, she had all the looks of someone approaching their execution. Jake was watching a baseball game on television, Helen reading a stack of papers from her briefcase. Quinn stepped in front. "Mom, Dad, I…need to tell you something."
Helen looked up. "Oh, is that your prom dress? Can we see it?"
Jake said, "Hey, I thought you picked that up Sunday?"
Helen rolled her eyes and looked at Jake. "Where would you get such an idea?"
Quinn came forward one step. "Mom…he's right. I bought this Sunday."
Helen looked between the two. "Oh." She turned to Jake. "I'm sorry."
Quinn handed Jake the receipt. "Daddy, I spent…more than I planned on."
Jake looked at the paper, sputtered, "Gack!" and recoiled back.
Helen looked over. "Oh, my. Quinn, that is…a lot more than you planned on."
Quinn looked down. "I know. I'm going to pay the rest from my car money."
"That's very mature of you, Quinn. It makes both of us proud." Helen smiled.
Quinn moved closer to Jake. "Daddy, what I said about Daria; that was only to distract you."
Helen narrowed her eyes at Quinn. "What's this?"
Quinn explained the prank she pulled on Jake to get the receipt past him Sunday, and that the incident between Daria and Michael was innocent.
Helen shook her head. "I swear, with you two getting along better, these pranks seem to be getting worse. Oh, well, no harm done." She gave Quinn a skin-rending stare. "This time."
Helen and Jake conferred for a minute, after which, Helen said, "Quinn, since you have agreed to pay back the excess and you came forward with this, we are going to let things stand."
Quinn gave them a thankful smile. "Okay." She turned and went back upstairs. "I want to get my dress hung back up."
Helen looked up the stairs at Quinn, and then quietly followed. She knocked on Quinn's door and opened it. "Quinn?"
Quinn looked over from her closet. "Yes?"
"What's happened with your sister?"
Quinn's voice cracked a little. "Why would you ask that?"
Helen walked over in front of Quinn. "Because you would not own up to something like that, except to protect Daria."
Quinn leaned against the edge of the closet door. "She broke up with Michael."
"According to Karen, she's…well…she's not talking to anyone…even her or Jane."
Helen took Quinn's hands. "Thanks for looking out for your sister. She certainly doesn't need one of your father's…rants…at a time like this."
Quinn muttered. "I still feel bad about doing it."
Helen raised one eyebrow. "Good, don't do it again."
"What about Daria?"
"She's with her friends. Karen and Jane will keep an eye on her. And, I'll call tomorrow."
Quinn grabbed Kevin in the hallway immediately after school. "We're leaving. We have to find you a tuxedo, and…I've got one day to teach you how to properly behave at something like this."
Quinn pulled him toward his jeep. "First thing, you will have the top and the doors on that thing tomorrow. My hair and gown will not be exposed to the wind. Is that clear?"
"Good. Second. You will…" Quinn looked at him with ice-cold eyes, "…under no circumstances call me 'babe'."
"Good. Third. You will learn how to have a nice evening with a lady, without making out."
"Or you will die trying."
Helen greeted Quinn as she came down the stairs Saturday morning. "I talked to Daria last night. She's hoping to be here on Monday; Karen's brother will be driving everyone."
"How's she doing?"
"She could be better. But, she wants you to have fun tonight."
"Did she really say that?"
"After…a little motherly prodding."
Helen held up a hand. "Quinn, your concern is touching. But, this is a special day for you. You should enjoy it. Daria will understand."
"She never went to her prom."
"True, but she and Tom did have a nice evening together…on their terms. You can show your concern by being supportive when she gets home."
"You brought your dress down, aren't you getting ready a little early?"
"Mom, I only have the rest of today to teach Kevin not to behave…poorly. I'm going to get dressed over there. Mrs. Thompson said it would be fine."
"Sure, Sweetie. Have a fun prom."
Quinn's face twisted in pain as Kevin stepped on her toes once again. He frowned at himself. "Sorry."
Quinn had an odd vision cross through her mind. Eliza Doolittle teaching a clumsy Professor Higgins to dance in My Fair Lady. "Kevin, let's try again. This time, I'll lead."
"Can't we slow dance like everyone else?"
"Over your dead body."
Clinging to Kevin's arm, Quinn untangled her feet from the jeep and eased them onto the ground. She got up and blew the hair out of her eyes. "Kevin, allow the lady to pull herself up out of the car; don't pull her out of the car."
"Palm up, that's right." Quinn placed her hand on Kevin's. She flinched as he gripped her hand a little too tight. "Not so hard. That's better."
Kevin looked at her with puppy eyes.
Quinn motioned for him to walk. "Now forward…slow down…more…my legs are not as long as yours…slow…" She kicked the back of his leg. "…down."
"When you escort a lady, you stay beside her."
Kevin rubbed his calf. "Um…yeah. I get that now."
Kevin rolled the jeep to a stop in the high school parking lot. He hopped out and jogged around to the passenger door, opening it. Quinn stepped out, braced herself against his offered hand, and gave him a smile.
Kevin had one of his goofy grins. "Hey, Quinn. Did I get it right this time?"
Quinn nodded. "Yes, you did."
"All ri…" Kevin stopped himself.
Quinn slightly shook her head. "Very good."
Kevin grinned again.
The two made a striking pair as they approached the gymnasium; Quinn in her professionally tailored gown, Kevin in an excellently fitted tuxedo. Finding one at such a late date had been difficult, probably impossible for someone without Quinn's fashion connections in Lawndale.
Sandi, Tiffany, and Stacy in exquisite gowns and their dates, Robert, Joey and Jeffy in tuxedos, stood near the entrance. Sandi gasped as she saw the two enter. Quinn's gown clearly topped hers. "Quinn! You're here with…"
Quinn smiled graciously. "Yes, I am."
Tiffany said, "Kevin…he's cute."
Stacy looked a little surprised. "Wow. I didn't expect that."
Quinn continued her smile. "I do like to surprise, don't I?"
Stacy smiled at that. "Yes, you do."
Jeffy and Joey nodded at Kevin, who smiled in return. "Hey, guys." Robert glowered at Kevin.
Giving Kevin a raised eyebrow and slight nod toward the inside of the gym, Quinn placed her hand in his extended one, and they entered the prom with controlled poise, if uncertain on his part. She whispered to Kevin. "Just like we practiced. Wonderful."
Nearing the refreshments, Quinn asked, "Kevin, please…could you get me a small soda with a slice of lemon?"
"Sure thing, b…" Kevin caught his tongue. "Yes, I will." He moved to the stand and selected a drink and found a slice of lemon from a plate near the iced tea. Quickly, he brought it back and offered it. "Quinn."
She smiled. "Thank you." She linked her arm with his and the two of them began to mingle among their fellow students.
Ms. Defoe walked up onto the small stage and the microphone stand.
Sandi looked on in semi-horrified fascination. "Oh…my. That dress has got to be at least ten years out of style."
Tiffany looked up. "It is so eighties…but…it looks good on her."
Sandi glared at Tiffany. "How can…"
Stacy also looked. "You know guys, Tiffany's right. On Ms. Defoe, that does look good."
Sandi crossed her arms and looked again. "I guess. That style does work for somebody like…her."
The microphone gave a short squeak when Ms. Defoe touched it. "Hello, everybody." She looked at a sheet of paper. "I'm happy to announce that the Prom Queen and King are…Ms. Rhiannon Jenkins and Mr. John Windham."
Quinn nodded her head, smiled and clapped. Jodie Landon's student government protégé and her boyfriend. What a surprise.
General applause greeted the two as they climbed to the stage. Rhiannon had long blond hair that flowed across the back of a crimson gown. He escort, John, was modestly handsome with medium length black hair. They accepted their crowns and moved to the center stage to dance.
As the slow music started, Quinn carefully placed Kevin's hand on her waist. "Remember, it stays right there." Quinn took his other hand and began to lead Kevin in a careful, slow waltz. She quietly told him, "Don't worry, nobody will really notice I'm leading." While the crowd moved in slightly groping dance poses, the two of them waltzing stood out as an island of elegance in a sea of the mundane.
Arm linked with Kevin's, Quinn slowly walked to the jeep as the prom broke up. She could hear Sandi grumbling. "Really…another student government geek as Prom Queen. It's rigged I tell you…"
Robert said, "Yes, Ma'am."
"Don't call me that!"
Stacy giggled as she walked by next to Joey. "You can be so funny."
Tiffany went past with Jeffy's arm low around her waist. She was saying, "Your hand…not there…"
Quinn stepped out of the jeep and held Kevin's hand. She also held a small bag in her other hand, containing her clothes from earlier in the day and a folded garment bag. "Kevin, you have been a very nice date tonight. Thank you."
"Um…you've been really a cool date, too."
"I should be heading inside." Quinn gave him a light kiss on the cheek. "Goodnight, Kevin."
"Thanks." Kevin looked off in the distance for a moment, and then said, "Quinn. Really, thanks. I learned a lot from this. I'm not going to forget it."
Quinn turned to face him with a tired smile. "Neither am I."
Thanks to commentary from: Kristen Bealer, gearhead, Mike Nassour, Isa Yo-Jo, Milo, drmike, Decelaraptor, Sleepless, Lawndale Stalker, Mahna Mahna, Staren, ipswichfan, The Angst Guy, Greystar, DJ, MrMagnum, and Isa Yo-Jo at ppmb.
Thanks to Ipswichfan, Deref, Mike Nassour, Mr. Orange, and Cheshire Cat for beta reading and further comments.
Revised February 2005