Categories > Cartoons > Daria > Tigresses

Have yourself a merry little Christmas. . . .

by DrT 0 reviews

With football finally over, most of the students start thinking of the holidays.

Category: Daria - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Drama - Characters: Daria,Jane - Warnings: [!!] - Published: 2014-04-04 - 7186 words - Complete

Tigresses of Lawndale – 15 – Have yourself a merry little Christmas. . . .

By Dr T

With football finally over, most of the students start thinking of the holidays.


When the (largely) disappointed students returned to Lawndale High the next Monday, December 11, being knocked out of the state championship was still on many of their minds, but except for some of the players, cheerleaders, and a few other students, it was not the main school-related topic. For many, especially the females, the hot topic was the traditional winter formal dance and all its ramifications. Once called the Christmas Ball, in the politically correct era it was now usually known as the Snow Ball or Winter Ball, and was held on the Saturday before Christmas, December 23. Like the Prom in the spring, this was a formal event. In truth, the Snow Ball was a much bigger deal in some ways, as all the public high schools in the county pooled together and rented a large hall, making the Snow Ball five times larger than any one of their proms. Perhaps because of its relationship to the holiday season, there was less pressure for wild parties and sexual encounters associated with the Snow Ball than after the Prom. This pleased the girls more than the boys.

On the other hand, there was more pressure for formality at the winter dance: dinner; flowers; actual dancing; and even gifts.

That also generally pleased the girls more than the boys.

Into this holiday maelstrom, the Lawndale Review ‘act’ tryouts were almost totally ignored. It helped that Thor had put the word out to the female band and orchestra members that a number of them would be needed in any event for two of the three acts. The would-be rockers were encouraged to try out, and a few did, although for some, when they were partially let in on the format of the third act, decided not to participate. Daria had preempted a number of others who might have been interested, at least among the popular sets, by having Quinn, Jodie, Tori, and Brittany put out that the fix was in for those popular girls who also had talent (not that any were named). Other than that, however, the try-out period was completely unused, which is what Daria had planned on all along. The only other thing she had done was to ask Mr. DeMartino to act as the faculty sponsor. When she had outlined her reasons, DeMartino had eagerly agreed, curious if Daria could pull it off.

Like most others, one student was thinking hard about the Snow Ball and not at all about the Lawndale Review. This student’s thoughts, however, were darker than others’.

He would have loved to have asked his idol, his lady fair Quinn Morgendorffer, to the Ball. He knew he could pool together his resources and take her, but despite a lack of a moral center and a penchant towards violence, he had enough connection to sanity to know he stood no chance, barring the disabling of at least several dozen older males. If he could have thought of a way to do so, he would have gladly, but even his fertile and devious mind drew a complete blank on that, and he was sane enough to realize that if he couldn’t take them all out, there was no reason to risk taking out just some of the prime targets.

Short of that goal, he thought he could do two things. The first was to get his own date so he could go to the Ball himself. With luck, he might at least score one dance (always a slow dance in his mind) with Quinn. He therefore asked a tiny, shy, marginally attractive (to him; most others who noticed her at all thought she was very cute) freshman to the dance, to which she agreed.

The other thing he wanted to try to do was to get Quinn elected the Snow Queen. Because this title included all the public high schools in the county, it was far more desirable amongst the popular sets than any mere homecoming or prom queen title could be. As Lawndale and Oakwood were the two largest schools, they tended to split the title about four-fifths of the time. So, if Quinn was the most popular girl running from Lawndale, she stood a fair chance of winning.

To run, a girl merely had to be a junior or senior in a county public school that had pre-purchased a couple’s ticket. Then, each school would nominate three of those girls and their escorts. Each girl who wanted to run had to announce it and have her photo taken with her escort. The photos of those running at Lawndale would be posted on the thirteenth, with voting going from the following Monday morning through the end of school Thursday, with winners announced on the Friday morning, the twenty-second. The final voting for Snow Queen was done at the Snow Ball itself as the couples entered the venue.

When the attacker wanted information on who might be running, he was glad he did not have to just rely on eavesdropping on his usual sources; his date, although shy, was fascinated by the process and was happy (if surprised) that he was interested in listening to her gossip. Jodie might have been Quinn’s biggest rival within Lawndale, except that she had won the year before and was therefore ineligible. Despite dating the very popular Thor, Daria had quickly removed herself from consideration. Had her relationship with Quinn not improved so much over the previous seven months, Daria might have been slightly (but only slightly) tempted to run, just to aggravate her sister. Under the current situation, however she was not going to risk her growing relationship with Quinn, never mind risk the horrible possibility that she might be selected as a candidate due to Thor’s popularity.

The attacker was very glad of these facts – he had observed Daria since his successful attack on her, and had even witnessed her run-in with Feldman. He had again realized how lucky he had been to pull that attack off. He also knew that if Thor Villars (or, if he had attacked Jodie, Mike Mackenzie) came after him, he would be lucky to escape in one piece.

Even before the photos went up, he learned there would be ten girls running for the three spots. Quinn was considered the front-runner, but was not a shoo-in. Two senior cheerleaders, Brittany and Angie, would likely be Quinn’s strongest competition, followed by Sharon, the head majorette. Angie and Sharon were also in the choir and select choir, and would draw from the musicians, while Brittany’s major assets were, of course, her large assets. On the other hand, a few students would vote against Brittany because of Kevin’s bad showing in the last game. The other six were seen as unlikely. Sandi was one – the other two members of the Fashion Club were not about to get between Sandi and Quinn, who had been glaring at each other all week. A few of the more athletic girls – from the volleyball, basketball, field hockey, and/or swim teams – had also signed up. Since none of the other members of the art crowd were trying this particular year, Jane decided to run, more as a lark than anything. After the four most likely, the school odds-makers placed Jane and Sandi in the middle of the pack, with the remaining four even less likely as their mutual status on the different sports teams totally divided that vote. Still, jealousy sometimes influenced a percentage of the votes, so anything was possible. Sandi was not popular with many, but a number of girls were jealous of Quinn and might vote for Sandi to spite Quinn. Jane was hardly popular on her own, but a number of the art crowd and outsiders (if any in the latter group bothered to vote) might support her. John was very popular, and that might draw some votes for Jane as well.

While the attacker would have loved to have taken out Sandi, he feared to do so. He had gained a respect for Daria, and an attack on Jane would attract more attention from her, as he had no doubt she was still after him for the attack in September. There was no reason to consider the other four also-rans, leaving Brittany, Angie, and Sharon as possible targets. Some quick recon work (something he had decided he needed to do after learning about the cameras installed around the school) showed that Brittany’s locker was under two different camera angles (Li made certain of that every year), but that neither Angie’s nor Sharon’s would be easily seen.

Angie and Sharon were seniors, and in the same gym class. Their class that Thursday had a very intense volleyball game and Coach Morris had actually sent them to the showers early, since for once most of the class (other than Daria, who was still power walking) had worked up a good sweat. Coach Morris had come running to the showers soon after, however, when the screaming had started. Someone had slipped a powerful orange dye into the shampoo of both Angie and Sharon, and an even stronger green dye into their bottles of body wash. Neither had shampooed their hair, but both had used their body wash – their hands and faces were bright green, and there were large green splotches on inconvenient places all over them. Jane Lane and another girl had borrowed Sharon’s shampoo, however, and were nearly as colorful. Angie and Sharon would be green for several days, and have a green tinge even a week later. Jane and the other girl were even more marked, although that wore off a few days sooner. All four, to say the least, were upset. High school students being what they are, this event deflected a number of votes away from the three girls who were running. This allowed a junior dark horse named Tina Joyce, a field hockey and swim team member, to sneak in and claim a strong third place after Quinn and Brittany when the votes were finally counted.

The morning after the shower incident, however, Daria had presented herself at Ms Li’s office well before homeroom. “May I help you, Ms Morgendorffer?” Ms Li asked, curious.

“I was wondering if you could share any new information about my attacker,” Daria asked.

“Is this prompted by caution, curiosity, or revenge, Ms Morgendorffer?” Li asked, curious herself.

“It is possible that the attacks on myself and Joey, the attacks on the Blum-Deckler sisters, the note Tiffany received last month, an unsigned and somewhat slimy-mushy computer-generated card my sister found in her locker earlier this month, and the dye attacks in the showers yesterday are all discrete and separate incidents with no connections,” Daria acknowledged. “In fact, I would be surprised if they were all linked, especially Tiffany’s fall on the stairs.”

“What’s this about a card?” Li asked.

Daria pulled out the card Quinn had gotten. “When nothing obvious happened on the first Wednesday of this month, I asked around. This was the only thing out of the ordinary I or Quinn could find, and while the written part isn’t in cursive, the printing does look to me like the note Tiffany got in November.”

Ms Li looked at the hand-printed home-computer generated card, and then pulled out a file. She compared the photocopy she had of the note that was sent to Tiffany after her sister’s attack. After a few moments, she looked up. “I am, of course, no expert, but I would say you have a remarkable visual memory.” She slid the card and the photocopy over to Daria, who merely glanced at them to confirm her suspicions.

“I think, as a working supposition, we can say that at least some of these outrages have been caused by someone who is infatuated with Quinn,” Daria stated flatly. “Of course, that does not necessarily limit the field very much.”

“Expound, Ms Morgendorffer.”

“When I came back to school last August, for some reason many students thought I was becoming a threat to Quinn’s popularity. Joey, Jeffey, and Jamie have been Quinn’s puppies since she arrived. Any member of the Fashion Club could be seen as a rival, although I grant you Sandi would be a more likely target than Tiffany. The whole school has been buzzing about the Snow Ball since we came back from Thanksgiving, and since Monday I understand it’s been the major topic of conversation and speculation. Angie and Sharon were seen as two of Quinn’s main rivals for the three Lawndale spots, along with Brittany. Brittany’s locker location is out of alphabetical order, but under the direct eye of two of your security cameras. Angie’s and Sharon’s are not.”

Ms Li thought a moment. Here was a chance to use Morgendorffer’s brains for the good of the school for once. “I was up all night looking at security footage, looking at the traffic around their locker areas. I’ll excuse you from home room. Look at the files I call up for you and then look at this list of names. I see three possible students, if, as you speculate, the in-school attacks are related. Tell me what you think.”

Daria was waiting for Ms Li right after she made the announcements. “Finished, Ms Morgendorffer?”

“I suspected I was finished when I glanced at the list of names,” Daria replied, pointing at the name. “Viewing the security video just confirmed my suspicions. However, suspicion is merely that; it is not in any way proof.” Daria frowned.

“No, you can’t let on to anyone,” Li said, correctly suspecting what might be going through Daria’s mind. “If anything happens to that student, anything at all, it may be unjustified and neither of us would want to be morally or legally responsible. And, even if this is the right boy, if anything happens to him it may allow him to get off largely unpunished. I will share your opinion with security, however, and give them his schedule when I tell them my own suspicions. They will all be followed via camera and when possible shadowed in the halls. I will consult with the school lawyer on if we may also alert the police. Please do not do anything to alert him.”

Daria reluctantly nodded. Parts of her were screaming for revenge, another part was even screaming to take him out before he could turn on Quinn. “At his age, and stature, he of course has no chance with Quinn,” Daria pointed out. “At some point, should he come to believe he should have had a chance and lost it, he may lash out at her.”

Li blinked, and realized that this was not merely an expression of concern on Daria’s part, but as deadly a warning as a rattlesnake’s rattle. Should this boy injure Quinn Morgendorffer, Daria would be ruthless and perhaps unstoppable. No doubt had Jane Lane been truly injured, the boy would already be in the hospital, despite there being a lack of total proof. “Let me check something,” Li said, turning to her computer. A few moments later, she said, “While he has purchased a couple’s ticket to the Christmas Ball, he listed as his companion one of his fellow freshmen. Whatever hope or fantasy he might have, he is still at least partially grounded.”

“I’ve never been to one of these things before,” Daria pointed out. “Will you or other adults be there?”

“At least four teachers, or teachers and their spouses, attend from each school. Ms Barch, Mister O’Neill, and Ms Defoe and her husband will be attending. And now, so shall I!”

“Make certain someone checks for a bucket of pig’s blood,” Daria growled.

“At the least,” Ms Li agreed. She startled Daria with a small smile. “I assure you, Ms Morgendorffer, that bucket has been one of the first things we have looked for these past many years. So far, we have only found three.”


That night, Daria, Jane, and Jodie were sharing pizza with their boyfriends in the back room of a Pizza King located just out of town. The back room was in deference to Jane’s orange right ear and splotches of orange on her face. Stacy had dyed her orange-tinged hair back to black the night before. Still, while the dye in the shampoo had reacted strongly with Jane’s hair, it had not reacted nearly as strongly to her skin. Therefore while the orange was certainly noticeable, only someone much vainer than Jane would have considered it temporarily disfiguring. Angie and Sharon were still much more colorful, and no makeup could hide their green at this point, while Jane could have toned down her orange if she had really wanted to.

“I wish we knew who was doing this,” Jodie remarked at one point.

“I don’t know who,” Daria said, “but I think Ms Li knows who did it, if there is only one person.”

“What do you mean?” John asked.

“Well, if there is only one person doing all or at least most of this, then I’m pretty sure she either knows who it must be, or at least has it narrowed down to a few by now. The problem is, of course, they can’t know for sure it’s only one person. If different people have done these pranks and attacks, then the people they have it narrowed down to might not be guilty of any of them.”

“If you knew for sure who did it, what would you do?” Mack asked. He was always interested in how people thought, especially Daria.

“If I knew and could prove it, I’d turn it all over to the police, with copies for Mom and Ms Li,” Daria answered drily.

“And if you had no legal proof?” Mack pressed.

“I would hope I would turn my suspicions over to them anyway,” Daria said candidly. “If the same person that attacked me is the same person who tried to rape Leah, and I knew he would get away with both . . . I don’t know what I would do, but if I caught that person, knowing what they had already done, attacking another person. . . .” Daria took a deep breath. “I wouldn’t want to have to take that on myself.”

To lighten the mood, Thor asked, “So, what is it you three are up to tomorrow?”

“God help us, we’re searching for formal dresses at the Mall of the Millennium with the Fashion Club,” Jane said.

All three males made faces.

“It was going with the Fashion Club, or my mother and Mrs. Morgendorffer,” Jodie pointed out. “This was the lesser of two evils. Those two do NOT get along, and shopping with them would not be fun.”

“I wonder if there are any denim gowns,” Daria mused.

Seeing Jodie’s horrified look, Jane told her, “Daria wouldn’t buy it, but she would try one on just to shock Quinn and Company.”

“In that case, we’ll look for one in each of our sizes,” Jodie replied.


John and Thor had a community concert the next night, and so merely had time to greet Jane and Daria during the intermission. Both still looked worn and even shell-shocked from their shopping trip that afternoon, Daria even more so than Jane. Jane merely handed each teen a strip of fabric and a sheet of paper. “Quinn’s orders,” she said with a shrug. “Those strips will match the respective fitted sacks laughingly called gowns we were going to go with anyway, and those are lists of acceptable florists, who are to match any ribbons or whatevers in the flowers.”

“Nosegay, corsage, or wrist corsage?” Thor asked.

Seeing Daria was still unable to answer, Jane said, “Nosegay for Daria – her sleeves are full-length gigot and any corsage will get crushed in a slow dance between you two.” Daria flushed slightly at that. Jane turned to John. “Wrist corsage for me – mention I’ll be wearing full length gloves.”

“Yes, ‘em,” John teased.

“Anything special you two would like for boutonnieres?”

The two shook their heads and after exchanging brief hugs with their girlfriends, went back to get ready for the second half of the concert.

“Are you alright?” Jane asked her friend, concerned.

“I suppose,” Daria muttered.

“Still upset about the shoes Tiffany tried to get you to wear?” Jane teased.

“Those things should not be classified as shoes,” Daria replied disdainfully. “They should be banned torture devices.”

“They were only one inch heels!”

Considering the look that received, Jane decided to hold her peace and hope that the holiday songs in the second half of the concert would induce a little peace inside her friend, although she didn’t have high hopes.


“Come on; Ms Li assured you it would be safe here. It’s certainly been fine the last few months,” Daria coaxed.

Jane frowned. “It not really that,” she admitted. She had finished varnishing the painting, but just didn’t want to leave it for the holidays.

“Then what’s the problem?” John asked.

“The problem is, you have to admit it’s finished,” Thor pointed out. Daria thought about that and nodded.

“Huh?” John asked. He looked at Jane. “Aren’t you glad you’re done?”

“Yeah. . . .” Jane said uncertainly.

“And that’s the problem,” Thor told his friend. “Jane’s been working on this for months, usually six days a week. And now, it’s finished; there is no more. It’s both a great feeling and a totally empty feeling.”

“Inspiration can burn,” Daria said softly, the heartfelt tone drawing the others’ full attention. “You have to do something to let it out – you have to create, or risk the fire going out forever, which would be horrible. But the actual creation can be as painful as it is thrilling – some parts go better than you thought, or lead you to new insights, but other parts can frustrate the hell out of you. And then, it’s done. Anything more will ruin whatever you managed to accomplish, and yet as good as anything might be, you’re can never be a hundred percent satisfied because even if parts of it are better than you dreamed, it doesn’t match that first burst of inspiration. All you can do is to try again.”

“Creativity can almost be a drug at times,” Jane agreed. Her arm moved, as if taking in the size of the painting. “There are lots of things I want to paint, but nothing on this scale, and nothing in this detail, at least not for a while. Someday, I’ll try again, but not now. I’ll miss it, but at the same time, I’m so glad it’s over. Now, I just have to let it sit here, fully drying.”

“Turn the key over to Ms Li in the morning,” John advised. He was easily as creative in his own way as Jane or Daria, and more so than Thor, who was still seeking his voice and medium, but even the best cook/chief thought as much in terms of recreation of ideas as in new ones, not the permanency of paint or prose. “Let the people the Sloan Foundation hires come and move it and frame it. You’ll just wish you had added some unnecessary detail if you can keep coming back and peeking at it.”

Jane sighed. “You’re probably right.”

“You need a change of medium,” Daria advised.

Jane brightened. “You’re right. Come on! It’s only five o’clock on a Monday. Let’s get pizza, take it to my place, and John and Thor can strip down to their undies or less, and I can draw them in wrestling poses!”

“And what will I do?” Daria asked, as the two males were blushing too much to answer.

“You can place them in their poses.”

Daria thought about it. “Fair enough.”


Daria was feeling torn into at least three pieces that month. One part was what was left of what she thought of as ‘Old Daria’ when she was dissatisfied with that part of her persona, ‘Writer Daria’ when she wasn’t. This aspect of her was both the remnants of her old outer persona and of course included her creative side. Her sarcasm was still in full force when needed, but she had to admit she was more outgoing these days, and that only sometimes bothered her.

The next piece was ‘Schoolgirl Daria.’ She would never be the Barbie that some of the girls at Lawndale High were (or at least acted like), but at times, as she now occasionally played the part of a somewhat ‘normal’ high school teen, at least a little concerned with, if not styles of clothes, at least both looking good and the high school social scene, she felt she was doing just that: purely playing a part. Of course, it was a part her mother, sister, and many of the students at Lawndale High thought they understood, and to her surprise this role did not force her to interact with her fellow students any more than her old public persona had. In fact, by slightly fitting in, it actually meant she was less harrassed by many of her sillier fellow students. Kevin and his ilk were especially less likely to bother her, and while Brittany and her fellow pep squad members were now more likely to talk to her, only Brittany really interacted with her. Daria also found that her mother was more likely to grant her little requests than she had been. Of the three aspects of herself, this was the only one that felt contrived but she did not feel it was truly deceitful, as she was merely bringing out a few aspects of herself that she had largely long suppressed. She hoped that by the time she returned to Ashfield, this aspect of herself would fade to a degree, but would no longer have to be repressed.

Daria did not name the third aspect, as that was the sensuous side that Theo had coached from her, and which only he and Jane experienced, although John now often witnessed it. She was not ashamed of it, but while she enjoyed it immensely she knew that at its current intensity it was no more genuine than ‘Schoolgirl Daria.’ She sometimes wondered if she was turning herself into a Hentai character.

In any event, she was happy for an opportunity to bring at bit of ‘Writer Daria’ to the forefront the day before the Snow Ball, and she tracked down Jane to do so.

“Wassup?” Jane asked, looking up from a sketch. “I thought we weren’t doing anything until tomorrow afternoon?”

“I got an e-mail from Luhrman,” Daria said, trying to remain emotionless. Jane could tell, though, that she was almost bursting with excitement underneath.

Jane merely asked, “And?”

“He and Georgie are both applying to grad school out in California. If they are accepted and if we’d like to, we can take over their apartment in July.”

Jane frowned. “But. . . .”

Daria nodded, “But we will be at Ashfield until late August. And yes, it will be slightly more expensive than living in the dorms – separate dorms.”

Jane could only nod ruefully at that. “How much more expensive, and can you describe the apartment? We don’t want to go into this blind.”

“Not counting the rest of that first July, it would average out that we would each have to pay about fifteen dollars more a month in rent than it would cost us to live year ‘round in the dorms, plus we’d have to pay for electricity, which he says averages around twenty-five a month plus the telephone and, knowing us, cable. The apartment comes with one parking space, but I’d have to pay for parking on campus either way.” Jane nodded.

Daria continued, “The apartment is almost across the street from a police station, and is on a main bus line. He said it would take you about thirty minutes to get to BFAC, and me a little less to get to Raft, but then, I’d have the Beetle. He said there is a regular grocery, plus Greek, Lebanese, Indian, and Chinese groceries, all within three blocks. Both Raft and BFAC offer partial meal plans. We can eat breakfast and dinner in the apartment and eat lunches on campus.”

“Go on,” Jane encouraged. She knew Daria wouldn’t be thinking of taking the apartment if there was anything suspect about the neighborhood.

“The apartment itself is on the fourth floor in the rear. Two bedrooms, each about eleven feet by twelve. There are three small closets, a kitchenette, and a living room, eleven feet wide and about twenty-seven feet deep. He said they would either sell the furniture second hand, or give it to us.”

Jane gave Daria a searching look. “Aren’t Luhrman and Georgie a couple?”

Daria flushed slightly. “Yes. One bedroom is just that, with a king-sized bed and two dressers. The other is set up as a study – two small desks and bookshelves. If we take it as is, we wouldn’t be having guests over to spend the night. We’d have to go to any perspective boy friends’.”

“Do you anticipate that?” Jane asked frankly.

“Despite how much we care about each other, yes, I do,” Daria replied honestly.

“I want to room with you, but I don’t know about the apartment,” Jane said. “Ask again when they’re sure.”

Jane was pleased to see the shy smile on Daria’s face.


Compared to what Quinn and the others in the Fashion Club were doing to prepare for the Snow Ball, Jane and especially Daria were very low key. Neither contributed to the large scale run on manicurists and hair salons as the dance approached. Jane had trimmed both her and Daria’s hair during the week, and Jane made certain that she cleaned all the paint off from any visible area before she went to Daria’s at 3:30 to get ready. Since Quinn was long out of the house (having left at 10:00 that morning), Jake and Helen were happy to host Jane as she and Daria took turns in the shower and got ready.

John had again borrowed his mothers Mercedes for the evening, and he and Thor were expected to pick the girls up at 5:30. Both were known to be punctual. Therefore, Jane and Daria presented themselves for inspection and photos at 5:20. Jane was in a dark green satin full-length gown, high collared and covering her shoulders. Her back was mostly bare and the rest of the dress was fairly form fitting, showing that the gown was all she was wearing, although on her it look good, not cheap. She wore full-length red satin gloves with a matching hair ribbon and matching flats. She also wore a black velvet choker, clasped in the front with a white gold clasp partially covered by two cameos facing each other.

Few would look close enough to see that the cameos were of Daria and Jane – Daria had commissioned the work the previous July, and this was her Christmas present to Jane.

Daria’s gown was also green, but not not as dark a shade as Jane’s nor was it as form-fitting. Although minus any hint of a bustle, hers was very Edwardian in style, and it was embroidered with vines in various shades of green, showing more a subliminal presence. Like Jane, she was wearing black velvet around her neck, although hers was a simple ribbon. A faceted piece of quartz almost the tinge of her auburn hair covered the clasp. Daria also wore a pair of black dress boots, with no extra height to the heels.

Jake smiled at the pair as he took some photos, while Helen beamed for a moment, but then looked puzzled. “Daria, the gown is beautiful, but where did you get it?”

“I ordered the basic gown on-line. Jane and I did the alterations over the last two months, and I did the embroidery.”

“Then why did you go gown shopping?” Helen asked. “I’m impressed with what you did.”

Daria shrugged. “Quinn asked me to, and I mostly went to support Jane and Jodie.”

John and Thor were on-time, and after enduring a few more photos of the two couples plus their flowers, the two pair left, with the girls wearing nice shawls Jane had dug out of one the many cedar chests in the Lane attic.

“It’s hard to believe she’ll be gone in just a few months,” Jake said sadly.

“True,” Helen had to agree. “Still, I think she’s more emotionally prepared than I had thought she would be.”

“Sending her to that camp with Jane was probably the best thing we could have done for her,” Jake mused.

Helen winced, as she had to agree. She knew she had only agreed to the writing camp because she had not come up with a ‘better’ summer activity for her daughter. She wondered how much better off Daria would have been if she had agreed to send her to the summer camps she had so badly wanted to go as a pre-teen and early teen, rather than to Camp Grizzly. Helen remembered the old Whittier tag line, muttering, “For all sad words of tongue and pen, the saddest are these, 'It might have been.'”


Dinner was at a nice restaurant out of town on the way to Oakwood, where the dance was being held in the large ‘civic auditorium’ – all together more than 2,000 students from the area were attending. Once the two couples arrived at the dance after dinner, they found a nice table in a corner. Daria and Thor did dance, but not too much, mostly the slower numbers and a few where the Lawndale contingent amazed the students from other schools by their adaptations of ball room dancing to the mediocre rock band. Mack and Jodie stopped by the table, as did some of Thor’s friends from the orchestra, choirs, and football team, but mostly Daria was content to watch, and Thor was content to watch Daria.

Thor would have liked to have held Daria close, but while she was now very affectionate in private (which included having Jane and John nearby), she was still very reticent when in public. Thor draping an arm over the back of her chair was sitting fairly close was the nearest she had allowed to a Public Display of Affection other than singular light kisses for ‘hello’ or ‘goodbye’.

“What are you thinking?” he finally asked, taking the opportunity to whisper in Daria’s ear so she could hear him over the music playing for the Snow Queen and her Court (Quinn had placed second, and so at least got to wear a tiara). Thor liked whispering in Daria’s ear – the main reason after her innate shyness for why she didn’t allow much touching in public was that she was also hyper-sensitive. She shivered slightly with pleasure at every close whisper and did so now.

After a moment, she said, “Just wondering what’s going through the minds of all these people. I don’t know how I would structure it, but capturing the thoughts of just a fair percentage of these people in single moment could be a fascinating story, if it didn’t turn out to be a total hash.”

“True,” Thor agreed. “Some are probably just lost in the moment, and their feelings couldn’t really be described. Others are still worried about making fools of themselves in some ways, now or when the evening ends. Others’ thoughts are no doubt so libidinous that it would make Jane and John blush.”

“Those would have to be pretty extreme,” Daria replied with a slight smirk.

Thor smiled as well, but went on, “Some, like that alleged friend of Quinn’s, are probably worried about their hair or makeup or something similar. Others’ feet hurt, or are trying not to show their dates have bad breath or didn’t use enough deodorant, or used too much perfume or cologne.”

“You are just too romantic,” Daria replied teasingly.

Thor shrugged. “I doubt if many are thinking deep thoughts. I imagine a few might be wondering, or hoping, that the night’s romance would just go on and on, or praying that their relationship builds into a life time, while others are wondering how to end the night early.”

“So much for my story,” Daria mock-complained. She suddenly looked up at Thor. “Are you in love with me?”

“A little,” Thor agreed. “I know you are determined not to commit to a relationship beyond what we have, and mostly I’m okay with that.”

Daria looked down, a little ashamed to have put him on the spot. To make up for it, she decided to be honest. “I don’t think I’m in love with you,” she admitted, “but I do care for you more than I ever thought possible. Last September I would never have imagined I could care as much about you as I do. Hell, last spring I would have laughed at the idea I wouldn’t still be a virgin when I got my PhD, never mind being physically intimate with anyone.”

“Let alone two anyones, or maybe three,” Thor pointed out.

Daria flushed. “Alright, physically intimate with two anyones, with a semi-intimate voyeur added into the mix.” She looked back up at Thor. “I don’t regret that, and I doubt if I could have been this intimate with any male I have ever met, other than you. And I very much doubt if I could have been anywhere as intimate with Jane if I wasn’t so close to you.”

“Thank you.”

Daria was about to add something when she saw Jane and John returning from the ‘crowning’ of the snow queen with another couple in tow. “Looky at who I found!” Jane called out.

“Hi, Tom,” Daria said drily. “Fancy seeing you here.”

“Daria,” Tom replied. “This is Shelley DuMont, who goes to school here in Oakwood these days.”

“I knew Tom when I was at his prep school,” Shelley explained. “When Mummy went into politics she transferred me to public school.”

“Nice to meet you,” Daria replied in the toneless voice she rarely used anymore. She stood, and Thor followed. “My date, Thor.”

“Thor?” Shelley asked, her eyes bulging slightly as her neck craned back as Theo stood up. “Just Thor?”

In his deepest voice, Thor merely stated, “Thor.”

“Err, yes. . . .”

“Started on your college applications yet?” Daria asked Tom.

“Just sent the last of them in,” he replied. “I’m waiting to see if I have to do any interviews. And you?” He of course knew the answer, but had to ask anyway.

“I’m close to being accepted at Raft and a few other places nearby, but I haven’t decided which to go to. Jane just got the notice she is being considered for early acceptance at Boston Fine Arts College.” Daria then got an idea; she decided to imitate her cousin Erin at her wedding. She therefore smiled happily and took Thor’s arm. “Thor, sweetie, what was the name of that college you’re interviewing at next month?”

Still playing along, Thor grunted, “Ellis.” This would be his music audition, and, if he was accepted, he would be accepted into the university’s European Studies program. He then added, although this was still only under discussion, “Bromwell, March.” Like Daria, he had heard from Jane that the Sloanes traditionally went to Bromwell.

“I keep forgetting about Bromwell; I was asked to interview there, too. It’s such a stuffy place,” Daria said brightly. Still imitating Erin, she wrapped herself more around Thor’s arm and asked as she hugged it, “Isn’t he just marvelous?”

Tom was still in a bit of shock; he remembered Mack talking about Thor, but he had not imagined anyone this size.

“Yes, well . . . it has been . . . marvelous meeting you all,” Shelley said nervously, dragging the confused Tom away.

“That was evil,” Jane stated. “Fun, but evil.”

John looked nervous.

“No need to look like that,” Daria said in a more normal tone of voice and releasing Thor’s arm. “I doubt either of you could be prats on Tom’s level.”

“Good to know,” John replied, and then said with a sigh, “It’s almost ten thirty.”

Daria’s and Jane’s expressions both instantly turned mulish.

“Hey, now,” John said, “going to Sandi’s after party wasn’t our idea.”

“Could you pretend it was, so we can blame you?” Jane asked.

“No!” John and Thor both replied.

“I still don’t know how Quinn talked me into this,” Daria gripped.

“If I remember correctly, your Mom helped, plus you get to spend Christmas night with me, and we get to spend New Year’s Eve with these two lugs in return.”

Daria looked at Thor and then John. “And it will be worth it?”

“It will,” Thor promised.

“Yep, and if you have any doubts, you can plan it, and we promise to go along,” John added.


“I trust you, so yes,” Thor said simply. John merely nodded. Daria’s plans were always meticulous, and Jane’s recent ones had all been pleasantly sensuous and/or deviant.

“Here they come now,” Jane growled.

Sure enough, the Fashion Club, their dates, several other ‘popular’ couples, and a few freshman couples (invited because Linda was forcing Sandi to have Sam, his date, and his date’s friends over) were gathering in the distance.

Daria made a decision. “Guys, lean in. I need to tell you something before we go.”


The after party in the Griffin rec room was quiet, but Linda had supplied a large amount of food, which the guys certainly enjoyed while the girls (other than Jane and Daria) mostly talked about who had worn what and who had shown up with whom. Daria, Jane, the younger girls and of course all the guys (other than Sam) were to stay until around midnight, while most of the other girls were staying in the rec room for a slumber party.

Sandi was working to get all the guys (especially Sam) out of the rec room at 11:50. As she turned to speak to her own date, Sam ducked behind her and headed towards the punch bowl. He was about to pour something into remaining punch when he found his wrist gripped hard by Thor.

Daria went up to get Mrs. Griffin.
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