Daria wakes up to coffee fumes and the sound of Jane gleefully butchering a Siouxsie and the Banshees song in the shower. She tries to go back to sleep, an endeavor briefly made easier when Jane stops singing but ultimately foiled when she comes out of the bathroom and flings a towel at Daria's head.
"Rise and shine, cupcake. The road awaits!"
"Ugh." Daria throws the towel onto the floor, noticing in the process that Jane has yet to put on clothes. She reaches for her glasses, the better to admire the view. "Why are you so disgustingly awake?"
"The miracle of caffeine. C'mon, get up. I want to get an early start."
"Fine." Daria reluctantly crawls out from under the blankets. "But only because you're naked."
Jane sets about applying deodorant, clothing, and lipstick while Daria helps herself to the coffee. "If I didn't know better, I'd swear you were actually excited about going back to Lawndale."
"Why shouldn't I be? I got out. Its gaping maw holds no terror for me anymore. Therefore, I can go back without fear and taunt it to my heart's content."
"And you intend to do so by telling everyone about our...thing."
"Okay, fine. Relationship. Happy?"
"That makes one of us."
"Oh, come on. Tell me you aren't looking forward to blowing our former classmates' tiny minds with the knowledge that all that time, they were sharing breathing space with a couple of bona fide queers."
"We won't be the first. What about Drama Club Steve?"
"He doesn't count. That came as a surprise to no one."
"Anyway, I don't think you've thought this through. How do we deal with the fallout?"
"We don't have to! That's the beauty of it. We go, we tell them, we watch the chaos unfold, and then we ride off into the sunset the minute it ceases to be entertaining. I see virtually no downside."
"Well, for one thing, there's the fact that I'll still have to deal with my family after all this."
"That would be the case anyway, unless you were planning on just...not telling them, which I thought we agreed was a bad idea."
"The greater of two evils, yes."
"So while we're in town for that, why not have some fun with it?"
"Have I ever told you that your sense of the word 'fun' is deeply warped?"
"Hey, at least I have one."
It's not that they haven't told anyone yet. Daria has been keeping Aunt Amy posted on the whole situation since the early days of panic and self-doubt and gut-wrenching anxiety--what Jane charmingly refers to as "gayngst"--and she confided in Tom the first time he called her after she and Jane had cemented their no-longer-platonic status, because why the hell not.
("So throughout that whole debacle, I was just a conduit for your sublimated desire for each other?"
"Something along those lines."
"That's really fucked up but also kind of hot at the same time.")
But the vast majority of their loved ones are still unaware, and Jane has been making discontented noises about that for the past few months. Daria agrees that they can't keep it a secret forever--and it's not even that she wants to, or that she's ashamed or anything, but she has deep reservations about this whole mass-coming-out notion. If she had her way, she'd take things a bit more slowly, but the sad fact is that she has difficulty saying no to Jane about much of anything these days.
All that aside, Daria at least has to admit that it's nice to be rolling into Lawndale with a specific purpose in mind. She doesn't think she could live with herself if she were going back there just for the sake of it.
First stop: Casa Lane. Trent is sort of their practice run--they know he's too laid back to make a big deal of it, so the pressure is low.
They find him lounging against the kitchen counter, phone in hand. "Yeah. Uh-huh. Listen, I'm not saying it's a bad idea, but do you even know how to play the mandolin?" He looks up, registering their presence with a twitch of the eyebrows. "Jesse, we'll have to finish this later. Janey's back."
Trent hangs up the phone and envelops Jane in a hug with no preamble. "Aw, man. You don't know how glad I am to see you." He lets go of her. "You too, Daria. Before you guys left, I don't think I realized how bad most of my friends are at that whole intelligent conversation thing."
Jane yawns and pulls up a chair. "We're running on not enough sleep and a just-barely-adequate amount of coffee, so don't expect anything too scintillating just yet."
Daria sits down next to Jane, and Trent settles in across from them. "How's the sellout life?"
"Surprisingly unprofitable. Daria, on the other hand, is an honest-to-God published author now."
"Really? Hey, congratulations."
Daria shrugs. "Just a couple of stories in the campus literary magazine. Nothing special, really."
"Gotta start somewhere, right?"
"I'm sure that's what you tell yourself every time the Spiral plays another bar mitzvah."
"Janey. You know damn well we stopped doing those."
"Only because word got around and parents stopped booking you."
"You write one little song about the trauma of inconvenient erections and it haunts you for the rest of your career. I thought thirteen-year-old boys would relate to that stuff, man. Anyway. What else is new with you two?"
"As it just so happens, we have an important piece of news to deliver." Jane scoots her chair closer to Daria's and slings an arm around her shoulders. "Meet my new lesbian lover."
Daria cringes inwardly. Jane has an unfortunate fixation with that particular two-word phrase.
Trent's eyebrows go up. "Whoa. Really?"
"For once, I'm not joking."
"Huh. Well." Trent's expression settles back into its usual impassivity. "It's about damn time."
Daria and Jane blink at him, nonplussed.
"I was wondering when you'd figure it out. I wrote a song for you and everything."
Yes, because your lyrics are usually so illuminating, Daria carefully does not say.
Jane shakes her head. "Uh-uh. You don't get to play the all-knowing relationship guru. Daria tells me you talked her into going after Tom."
"All I said was that he was into her. I never said they should actually go out. At least, not explicitly."
"Whatever. Just try not to mix the signals so much next time you decided to meddle in other people's love lives."
"So you're...not surprised at all?" Daria has to wonder, in retrospect, just how obvious they were.
Trent shrugs. "Well. You know. Big family and everything. I figured one of us had to be gay. Although my money was always on Wind."
"He's been married to three women," Jane points out.
"I thought he was just really slow on the uptake." He laughs, coughs. "Besides. What about all those guys you dated?"
Jane waves a hand dismissively. "Misguided youthful experimentation." Daria can't help smiling a little at that.
"Good thing you were there to set her on the right track, huh, Daria?"
"Um. It was kind of mutual."
Jane stands up. "And on that note, I'm gonna go get my stuff out of the car."
"Need a hand?"
"Nah, it's just the one suitcase. You kids sit tight, I'll be back in a few."
As soon as they hear the front door close, Trent turns to Daria with an uncharacteristically earnest look on his face. "Good. Now we can talk."
"Is this the part where you tell me that if I hurt her, you'll break my neck?"
"Why would I say anything like that?" He smirks briefly. "Besides, I'm not sure I could take you in a fight." Laugh. Cough. "Seriously though, Daria. I'm really glad you two are together."
"I'm pretty pleased with the situation myself."
"I just didn't like the thought of Janey being alone out there." Trent leans forward and places a hand on Daria's arm. "I want you to promise me that you'll take care of her."
"I seem to recall you once telling me that Jane could take care of herself."
"Did I? I guess that's true. I just mean...you know. In case she can't."
"Right. Um...I promise."
"Cool." He straightens up and looks a bit more relaxed. "Heh. I always did feel like you were a part of the family."
Apparently, despite Daria's ridiculous adolescent crush on Trent being long dead and buried, he still has the ability to make her blush like an idiot and forget how to speak.
"You don't have to say anything." Daria closes her mouth gratefully. It's just as well; she was on the verge of making a tasteless joke about how if she were really a part of the family, she'd be off sketching lighthouses in Norway or something. Mercifully, Jane comes back in, drawing attention away from her continued speechlessness.
"So." Jane leans in the kitchen doorframe, arms folded and hip cocked. "Pizza?"
"So what are we supposed to do?" Daria asks as they park outside the pizza place, where an impromptu Lawndale High reunion seems to be already underway. "Stand on a table and announce it to the room?"
"I figure we can just tell one person and let the hallowed Lawndale rumor mill do the rest."
"Who are we going to tell?"
"We'll decide when the time comes."
"I thought the time was pretty much now."
"Daria, relax. We don't need a battle plan."
"I'd feel much better if we had one."
"Yeah? I think you're just stalling." Jane proceeds to exit the car and forcibly yank Daria out of the passenger side door.
As they line up to buy slices, Daria nervously scans the room. Just at first glance, she spots at least half a dozen people she knows personally and twice as many whom she recognizes in passing. She's still fretting over how they'll break the news to everybody when a familiar, smarm-laden voice assails them from mere yards away.
"Why, hello, ladies. Long time no see. Do my eyes deceive me, or have you grown even lovelier during our separation?"
Maybe it's a brilliant flash of inspiration. Maybe it's just a knee-jerk reaction to being repulsively hit on again after so many blissfully Upchuck-free months. Whatever the cause, the effect is this: Daria grabs Jane around the waist and kisses her. Full on the lips. In front of everyone.
The room goes quiet. Upchuck stares, wide eyed and slack jawed, before retreating to a table in the corner. As Daria and Jane's lips separate, the startled silence gives way to awed whispers.
Jane leans back, looking ruffled but pleasantly surprised. "Wow. Where the hell did that come from?"
"I'm...actually not sure."
"I mean, damn. Just when I think I've thoroughly plumbed your hidden depths."
"That may be the worst euphemism I've ever heard for--"
"Now now, Daria, there are minors present." Jane reaches for a napkin. "Here, hold still, you've got red on you." She wipes a smear of lipstick from the corner of Daria's mouth. The guy behind the counter asks if they're going to order food, or what.
Slices and sodas procured, they head for a booth. No sooner have they settled in than Quinn comes storming over. "Okay, I don't know what that was all about, but I will give you twenty dollars to never do that in public ever again, I don't care if you were just doing it to get rid of Upchuck--"
"--because that was disgusting and my reputation does not need that kind of damage--what did you just say?"
"We weren't," Daria repeats, "just getting rid of Upchuck."
Quinn stares for a moment, then reaches into her purse. "Okay fine, thirty. Each."
"Much as I would love to accept your money, nothing you can do or say will stop me from expressing affection for my girlfriend in whatever manner I choose, wherever and whenever the hell I feel like it." Daria forces herself to keep her eyes on Quinn and ignore whatever Jane's face is doing right now. Let it never be said that shitty peripheral vision has not occasionally worked in her favor.
"You're...actually being serious, aren't you?"
"Your powers of perception never cease to amaze me."
"You guys are a--a thing?"
Jane mumbles around her soda straw, "Now where have I heard that before?"
"You mean--all those times she slept over--?" An inexpressively beautiful look of dawning horror sweeps across Quinn's features, but all good things must come to an end.
"Relax. Nothing happened until we were safely across state lines."
"Oh. Well, thank God for that, anyway."
"Are we done here?"
"For the moment." Quinn starts to walk away, then pauses. "Um, Daria? I won't tell Mom and Dad if you don't want me to."
"I don't, but only because it would spoil the surprise."
"You're telling them?!"
"Oh God. Will you hold it against me if I decide to have dinner in my room or on the other side of town or something?"
"Not in the least."
"Okay then. Well, time to go run damage control."
As Quinn returns to the entity formerly known as the Fashion Club ("God, Sandi, is my sister's personal life really that interesting? What is this, the McCartney Era?") Jane smirks and raises an eyebrow. "So, what was that part about--"
"Yes, I meant it, and no, I don't want to talk about it."
"Very well. But I reserve the right to throw it in your face the next time you get all weird about PDA."
"If you must."
They eat in companionable silence for a while. Daria suspects Jane is playing footsie under the table just to fuck with her, but she lets it slide.
"Oh my gosh, you guys, I just heard! Congratulations!"
"...Hello, Jodie. Nice to see you too. College is going wonderfully, thanks for asking."
"I'm sorry, Daria, I just got excited. I mean, I couldn't imagine more of a perfect couple."
Jane says, "By which she means each of us is the only person on earth who could conceivably tolerate a relationship with the other for any significant length of time."
Jodie ignores her and continues to enthuse. "I just wish you'd come out sooner. I could've started a gay-straight alliance like I wanted. Although it probably still would've been just you two and Drama Club Steve."
"Jodie. Think about who you're talking to."
She sighs. "Right. You're allergic to extracurriculars."
"Hell, we wouldn't put up with the curriculars if we didn't have to," Jane replies.
"Even in college?"
"The subject matter may be more to our liking," Daria says, "but they're still making us get up early and sit in plastic chairs for hours on end."
Jodie smiles ruefully. "Well, I guess it's good to know some things never change."
"The rigidity of institutionalized schooling?"
"I meant your cynicism."
They chat for a bit longer--playing catch-up, trading good-natured mockery--until Jodie says she'd better get back to Mack, congratulates them again, and leaves. Jane nudges Daria's shin under the table. "Admit it. This could be going a lot worse."
"I think it's about to."
"Look over your shoulder."
Jane looks. "Oh boy. Now the fun starts."
The uniform is Great Prairie State orange and indigo instead of Lawndale blue and gold, but the blonde pigtails, blow-up-doll face, and huge tracts of land are very much the same. Kevin trails behind Brittany in civilian clothes, his graduation having apparently come at last.
"Daria, Jane, I just want you to know that I don't care what people are saying about you--I still think you're normal," Brittany squeaks. "For you, I mean."
Daria and Jane stare levelly at each other.
"You wanna tell her, or should I?"
"Oh, go on, Daria. You have such a way with words."
"But you're better at avoiding the polysyllabic ones."
"Can't argue with that." Jane turns. "Brittany. Rumors? True. Us? Gay."
"Eep! You mean--you and--really--with each other?"
"Would you like to buy a verb?" Daria asks.
"Um. I have to go now." Brittany strides briskly away. Kevin starts to follow her, but then turns back and leans furtively towards them.
"So, you guys are, like...lesbians?" he asks in a near-whisper.
"Give the man a cigar."
"Clearly the benefits of a Lawndale education aren't lost on this one." Kevin continues to wait patiently for an answer. Daria sighs. "Yes, Kevin. 'Lesbians' is indeed the correct term."
"We also would have accepted 'dykes,' 'Sapphites,' 'bulldaggers,' 'carpet munchers'--" Daria cuts Jane off with a gentle but well-placed kick.
Kevin's face breaks into a wide grin. "Cool."
"Come on, Kevvy!" Kevin retreats in the direction of Brittany's siren squeal, stealing a backward glance at Daria and Jane as he does so.
"You know, I'm not actually sure 'Sapphites' is a word."
Jane shrugs. "Doesn't matter. He'll never remember it."
"No, but why do I get the feeling he's going to follow us around for the next few days expecting an impromptu reenactment of his favorite porn videos?"
"Forget that. What do we do when Upchuck gets over the initial trauma and propositions us for a threesome?"
"I'd say we should get the hell out of here before that happens, but the sooner we leave, the sooner I have to face my parents."
"Right, that. Are you sure you don't want me there for moral support?"
"Yes and no. Ultimately, I think it'll just be simpler if I do it alone."
"Well, I'll leave it up to your judgement, since they're your parents and all. Just be sure to call me afterwards and let me know how it went."
"Fine, but I already know what's going to happen. My mom will try to talk me into the idea that it's 'just a phase,' and my dad will flip the hell out. The only question is whether it'll be a freakout of the homophobic variety or the overzealously supportive, rainbow-flag-waving kind."
"Neither of your parents ever struck me as the homophobic type."
"Not when it comes to other people, maybe, but when it's their own flesh and blood, who knows?"
"Hey." Jane reaches over and takes her hand. "Deep breaths. Everything's gonna be okay."
"I'm fine, dammit."
"No, you're quietly working yourself into a nervous frenzy while pretending to be fine. Don't think I can't tell the difference."
"Oh, all right. I may possibly be somewhat apprehensive about this."
Jane pats her hand. "There, there. Let it all out."
"But I guess there's no sense in putting it off."
"All right then." Jane stands up and collects their empty cups and plates. "Shall we?"
The house is empty when Jane drops Daria off, both of her parents still at work. The smell of the place hits her in a wave the instant she walks through the door. It's weird; before living away from it, she wasn't even aware that this place had a smell, but now it's an almost tangible presence, carrying with it a throat-tightening sting of nostalgia and a reminder that as much irritation, boredom, and outright misery she's been through in this house, she still thinks of it as home.
She mounts the stairs to her old room and is mildly surprised to discover that her mother hasn't taken her absence as an opportunity to redecorate. Everything is as she left it, save for the few posters and things she took with her to Boston last year. She settles down on the bed and pulls her copy of Ulysses out of her bag, but her mind is elsewhere, and she gives up and sets it aside once she realizes she's just read the same sentence five times in a row. TV doesn't provide much of a distraction either, but it kills time and provides background noise, if nothing else. Finally, as the rays slanting through the window give way to the cooler light of evening, she hears a car pulling into the driveway.
Helen drops her briefcase and comes running the moment Daria comes down the stairs. "Daria! I had no idea you were coming back today!"
Daria finds herself suddenly wrapped in a perfumed hug. She bears the onslaught of parental affection with relatively good humor. "Surprise."
Helen pulls back and studies her daughter. "Am I imagining things, or have you gotten taller?"
"I don't know. It might just be the new boots."
Helen smiles wryly. "Will you be staying until fall? You probably noticed we haven't rented out your room yet."
"I'm registered for a couple of summer classes and I told my boss at the library that I'd stay on at least until August, so I kind of have to go back at the end of the week."
"Well, I wouldn't want you to break your commitments." Her disappointment is left unspoken, which sort of makes it worse.
Daria follows her into the kitchen. "Just the usual tonight?"
"I'm sorry, sweetie, but your father is working late. If we'd known you were coming...."
"No big deal. Believe it or not, I kind of missed it. The dining hall lasagna just isn't the same."
Jake gets home right around the time dinner comes out of the oven and is predictably cheery upon noticing Daria's return. "Hey, kiddo! Wasn't expecting you back so soon! Boy, you look great! College life treating you well, eh?" Quinn isn't far behind and, contrary to what she said at the pizza place, sits down to dinner with the rest of them.
Daria spends the next half hour fielding her parents' questions about her classes ("The required first-year composition course is basically high school English all over again, but the fiction writers' workshop isn't half bad once you get past the pretentious pseudo-philosophers and the activist types who think everything has to be about politics") and her job ("Pretty much an ideal situation--all I have to do is shelve books and not talk to people") and Quinn's questions about her social life ("I know nothing of these frat parties of which you speak. My circle of friends is more the sit-around-and-make-fun-of-bad-movies type") before Helen asks about her living arrangements now that she's moved out of the dorm, and Daria sees an all-too-perfect opportunity to bring up what she's come here to discuss. "Jane and I are subletting an apartment for the summer, and we're looking for a place to rent in the fall."
"Are you sure that's wise?" Helen asks. "You know, everything I've read on the subject says you shouldn't live with your best friend."
"Um, yeah. About that." This is it. Now or never. "We're sort of...not just friends. Anymore."
Her parents drop their forks and stare at her. Quinn stands up abruptly. "Ohh-kay, homework time." She flashes Daria a look that roughly translates to Best of luck, but you're on your own and retreats upstairs.
"Daria?" Helen asks softly. "What are you saying?"
"That Jane and I are, um." Daria is never quite sure what to call it. Dating sounds too frivolous, partners sounds too solemn, girlfriends sounds too much like the name of a sitcom. Lovers, of course, is right out. "A couple."
Her father is the first to break the silence that follows. "Well, hey, why didn't you invite her--"
"Jake." Helen glares. Jake looks down at his plate, abashed. "Daria? How long has this been going on?"
"Since Jane moved to Boston at the beginning of winter semester."
"So...five months? Don't you think you might be rushing things, moving in together so soon?"
"You may call it rushing; I call it making up for lost time. We went through literally years of bullshit before we even realized we were into each other--"
"--and then she was doing the mid-year enrollment thing, so it was months before we could actually be together," Daria finishes, barreling right over her mother's admonition. Now that she's got the important part out, she finds she doesn't care what else she says. The damage is done, if there is any.
"I'm only asking if you're sure you want to jump into a serious relationship at your age. In a few years, you might wish you'd left your options open."
"Options?" Daria says. "Do people really choose who they fall in love with? Did you, for that matter?"
Helen regards her seriously for a moment. "You love her?"
This is not quite the response Daria was expecting. Nevertheless, the answer is already on her tongue.
Helen smiles. "Well then." And she stands up and starts clearing away the dishes.
Daria remains sitting at the table, slightly dumbfounded. "That's it?"
"I can't argue with that, sweetie. Or with the fact that you seem a lot happier than you did a year ago. Would I be correct in assuming that this is at least partly due to Jane?"
"Well, some of it is just the effect of living somewhere other than Lawndale. But most of it is Jane, yes."
"Be sure to tell her how grateful I am. Better yet, ask her to dinner tomorrow so I can tell her myself."
"Um, okay." Daria gets up and goes to stand by the counter, the better to carry on the conversation while her mom loads the dishwasher.
"Though I can't say I'm not just a little bit concerned for how this might turn out. Going from friends to...something more...can really complicate things."
Daria has thought about this a lot, having been over it with Aunt Amy, and her answer is the same now as it was then. "Oddly enough, Mom? Complicated is the one thing it hasn't been. In fact, I think it was more so before."
"How do you mean?"
"Well, to pick an example completely at random, now she's a lot less likely to date a guy who puts the moves on me, tell me it's okay if I date him, and then get upset when I do."
"We still have our fair share of arguments, but they're resolved a lot quicker because we say what we feel straight off and don't waste time with passive-agressive mind games. Other than that, it's more or less the same as when we were best friends." Except for the sex, but her mother doesn't need to hear about that. "At least for the moment, I don't see that there's much to worry about."
"I never thought I'd see the day when you were more optimistic than I was about anything."
Daria realizes her father has been unusually silent throughout this discussion and, upon looking, sees that it's because he's left the room. Figures he'd get uncomfortable and sneak off. At least there wasn't any screaming.
"All it comes down to, Daria, is that I'm glad you've found someone who makes you happy. Regardless of gender, or anything else."
Helen gives her a kiss on the forehead. "I'm going upstairs to catch up on some paperwork. If I don't come down before you go to bed, I'll see you in the morning."
Daria goes out into the living room and sits alone on the couch for a few hours, watching TV and mulling things over. She considers calling Jane for her promised update, but things still feel unfinished, considering she's barely heard a word from--
"Hey, kiddo. You still awake?"
"That, or my dreams have gotten really banal." She turns around. "Hi, Dad."
Her father is coming down the stairs carrying what appears to be a very old shoebox. "Can I show you something?"
Jake sits down next to her, opens the box, and takes out a black-and-white photograph. "This is your great-aunt Sophie. My dad's sister. I don't think I ever told you about her--she passed away before you were born."
The picture shows a woman with short-cropped hair, a square jaw, and a gruff expression that reminds Daria of every photo she's seen of the dear departed Mad Dog. This one seems different, though--simultaneously defiant and withdrawn.
"I barely knew about her myself when I was a kid," Jake continues. "He liked to pretend she didn't exist. He was...well, I've told you about him, Daria. He wasn't what you'd call open minded." He chuckles mirthlessly. "Hell, it was the fifties. Nobody was."
"Did you ever get to meet her?"
"No. I overheard my mom and dad arguing about it once when I was twelve--apparently she'd been sending them letters for years, asking them to let me come and visit. She didn't care about seeing my dad anymore--for, y'know, obvious reasons--but once she found out she had a nephew, I think she saw an opportunity to sort of make up for not having kids of her own. Anyway, my mom wanted to let me go see her, but my dad...." Jake sighs. "He said I was turning out queer enough without running off to New York to live with a couple of degenerates."
He takes another photograph out of the box. "See, she lived in the East Village with her...special friend."
This photograph shows the same woman, only now she looks marginally happier--if somewhat uncomfortable at having her picture taken--and she's standing next to a shorter, slimmer woman with bobbed hair and a lipsticked grin.
"I have no idea who that woman was. I don't even know her name. My dad destroyed most of my aunt's letters--at some point she started writing just to me and not him, but by that time I was off at military school and the letters never got to me. I only know because my mom was able to save a couple of them." Jake indicates a few yellowed pieces of paper and a Statue of Liberty postcard lying at the bottom of the box.
"Your mother and I found this box in your grandma's attic when we were helping her pack up to move into the assisted living facility. I'd...I'd like you to have it."
Daria finds herself too choked up to speak, thinks What the hell, and gives her father a hug in lieu of words.
Jake pats her back and lets her hold onto him for a moment, standing up when she lets go. "I'd better get to bed. Ask Jane what she'd like for dinner tomorrow, okay?" Daria nods, still at a loss. "Goodnight, kiddo."
"Daria! I was starting to worry. So what happened? Are you disowned?"
"Actually, it went surprisingly well. You're invited to dinner tomorrow."
"See, what'd I tell you? Nothing to worry about."
"Yeah, yeah, you were right, I was wrong...very wrong, actually. It was radically different from what I expected. I'll tell you all about it tomorrow."
"Okay." Jane pauses. "Um, Daria?"
"I just want to say...thanks for going through with all this. I know I kind of pushed you into it."
"No, I don't blame you at all. You don't deserve to be passed off as my roommate for the next five years."
"Is that really what you would've done?"
"No. Maybe. I don't know, probably not, but I was intimidated as hell, so who knows how long I would've stalled. I should probably thank you for making me do this."
"No need. That's what I'm here for."
"Thanks for that, too."
"That's sort of the point of this whole couple thing, Daria. Neither of us is in this alone."
"I know." Daria sighs and stares out her bedroom window. "Listen, as long as we're being sentimental here...is it weird that I sort of miss you? Even though we just saw each other this afternoon?"
"No, I know what you mean. It's one thing when we're on separate campuses...."
"But when you're within walking distance and I can't be with you...."
"Think you could talk your mom into letting you spend tomorrow night at my place?"
"She'll probably freak out and assume it's because we want to have sex. But screw it, I'm a legal adult and there's not much she can do."
"Are you saying we're not going to have sex?"
"When did I say that?"
"Okay, good, because we're totally going to do it in every vacant bedroom in the house. Twice."
"My, aren't we sexually frustrated this evening."
"You have no idea. Just the sound of your voice--"
"My voice? Are you serious?"
"Look, I don't know, it's some kind of weird Pavlovian thing....I don't suppose I could talk you into phone sex?"
"I don't even know how many drugs I'd have to be on to agree to that."
"I figured as much. Guess I'll have to settle for garden-variety masturbation, then."
"Garden-variety? You mean, like, with a cucumber?"
"Ha. Actually, a cucumber doesn't sound half bad, but even if there were any produce in our fridge, I wouldn't trust it."
"A wise decision. And on that note, I should probably get some sleep."
"Yeah, me too. I'll see you tomorrow."
"I love you."
"...I love you too."
The words still feel strange on Daria's lips, but she's determined to keep saying them until they don't anymore. They happen to be the truth, after all.