The Winters Of Those Gone Before…

A 'Daria' alternate-universe fan fiction by Brother Grimace

Inspired by ‘Night Of The Storm’, by LyinTamer

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Comments, questions, complaints, admonishments, salutations, death threats, presentations of requests for apprenticeship? E-mail them to: email2BG@yahoo.com.



AUTHOR’S NOTE:

Due to the nature of the subject matter, this work of fan fiction is rated NC-17.

READERS ARE STRONGLY ADVISED THAT THIS WORK OF FAN FICTION DEALS WITH DISTURBING PSYCHOLOGICAL AND SOCIAL ISSUES, AND CONTAINS DEPICIONS OF GRAPHIC SEXUAL SITUATIONS.

This work of fan fiction may not be suitable for some readers.
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Hope. It is the quintessential human delusion – simultaneously, the source of your greatest strength and your greatest weakness.’

The Architect: ‘The Matrix Reloaded’


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PART I


What am I going to do? Who can I talk to… what do I do?

It took a lot to make Helen Morgendorffer feel as though she were all alone and helpless, let alone speechless, especially with the way her life had gone in the past few months or so. But then, she thought, staring out the window in her office at Vitale, Davis, Horowitz, Riordan, Schrecter, Schrecter and Schrecter - this fit the bill. This more than fit the bill.

What can I do?

And in her mind, she went over what had happened…

+++++

After Jake Morgendorffer had, finally (Helen admitted to herself, but no one else) lost his battle to keep his inner demons chained and remain sane, things could have gone badly - even worse than they already had. The family of Mr. Ceedle, the mailman Jake killed, had every intention of suing everyone in sight, but a very thorough, although slightly rushed, investigation of the family's background found a number of things that could have caused real trouble for them. A hushed conversation with the Ceedles - and displaying an inch-thick folder labeled 'Ceedle Family' - smoothed everything over. In the spirit of conciliation, Helen also managed to find several loopholes in the family's insurance coverage and Mr. Ceedle’s government death-benefits package. After receiving a tax-free check with that many zeroes, the Ceedles were quite willing to sign a nondisclosure agreement.

The storefront lawyer the Ceedles hired, smelling blood and a chance to get his name in the news, had a huge media blitz planned. When the Ceedles settled the case, wanting no further attention, the effete, doughy poof from Georgia decided that he’d do the cable news talk-show circuit on his own and attract the public’s notice that way. Bad career move. Helen heard that he’d been gang-raped in the lock-up, where he was being held for felony possession, and he’d been quite vocally disbarred... Oh, well. Some people just couldn't take the deal and go on with their lives. They always did learn, though, and quite painfully… in the end.

Of course, a considerable amount of money changed hands. (Helen's bosses, pleased at how she'd kept the firm's name from being mentioned prominently in the coverage of Jake's case, were more than glad to pay.)

Ruth - Jake's mother - showed up. A news crew was waiting for her - the people from 'Sick, Sad World'. Helen had gotten to them first. She had a backpack with used twenties and hundreds - the international standards for 'doing business under the table'. The manila folder she held up with the ‘SSW’ logo on it was three inches thick. She also had a folder for the suddenly and incredibly cooperative news crew which was labeled ‘Morgendorffer, A. H., U.S.M.C. / Morgendorffer, R.’

Ruth left Lawndale the next day. She didn't get a chance to run the 'You ruined my baby's life' rant she always did - but in front of the television cameras and standing outside Schloss Morgendorffer like she'd planned. Shame that she couldn't stay longer, or stop by to see the girls. They missed having her around.

Amy got in touch, and wisely said little beyond 'How are you and the girls doing; need any help?' Rita appeared on her Nimbus 2001 and just had to open her mouth about how she knew that Jake would go psycho someday. She woke up about three hours later, nursing a beauty of a black eye, afraid to even speak as Erin half-escorted/half-carried her to the car, and still wobbling from the horrifyingly fast left hook Helen unloaded on her. Helen's mother ran the standard Evelyn Barksdale parenting program. She said nothing, and just sent checks for her and the girls. At least they wouldn't have to worry about college tuition now.

Then it came - the news Helen had been expecting for years.

The conference with the doctors at Golden Acres and the Lawndale County State's Attorney was freakishly short - and surprisingly painful for Helen, although she didn't show a trace of emotion to the people in the room. Not a single flinch, or sniffle, or untoward blinking at the mention of yet an even worse detail of Jake's condition…

Jacob Morgendorffer, as a person, didn't really exist… not anymore. The medication protocols to control him weren't working, he had no recognition of anyone or anything from before the incident, and he had to be restrained through chemical means after he tried to bite off a worker's ear. He no longer had any ability to functionally communicate and was now having problems moving on the right side of his body; a week after being admitted, he'd had a pair of mini-strokes. Jake was also starting to refuse food and water, and if left untended, would simply lie in the fetal position for long periods… There was general agreement that a trial was unnecessary, and Jake would be committed quietly to the long-term, secure-care section at the Adelaide Gardens Convalescent Center. The taxpayers and the powers-that-be had to get some closure, and a sense that justice had prevailed.

The conference took place on January 26; Jake had suffered another stroke the day before. A really bad one. The doctors said that Jake wouldn't live to see their wedding anniversary in June. Helen took the news without changing expressions, walked out and went to her car, drove home through the darkened, snowbank-lined streets of Lawndale, then broke down in the garage after she closed the door.

+++++

"Mrs. Morgendorffer, would you like a cup of coffee or something?"

'"Hmn? Oh, no, thank you, Marianne," Helen said, coming out of her reverie. "Just thinking over some work. I'd rather not be disturbed for an hour or two."

"Maybe you'd like something to drink? You look, well, a little flushed…"

"No, thank you. I'd just… I'd like not to be disturbed for a while."

"Yes, ma'am."

Marianne closed the door behind her, and Helen was once again lost in memory…

+++++


It was after she wiped her face dry that Helen noticed that something wasn't quite right. The Lexus was also parked in the garage; she had given it to Quinn after Jake's breakdown. She'd offered it to Daria, intending to buy Quinn her own car (she'd had several insurance policies taken out on Jake, and the return was very good), but Daria didn't want it.

Quinn was glad to have the car, and Helen frequently saw the red-in-blue blur of her daughter in the Lexus, ferrying her Fashion Club friends somewhere or other. It was one of the things that had made Helen smile recently, as it meant that at least Quinn was returning to normal. Daria still worried her, though. She wasn't tormenting Quinn as mercilessly as before, though, and that was something, and it was actually Daria's suggestion that she give the Lexus to Quinn.

But why was it here now? This was a Friday night; Quinn would NEVER stay home on a Friday night, whether rain, sleet, snow or the fires of Armageddon! Not with a car at her disposal, not with a credit card for shopping in her pocket, and certainly not with DARIA staying at home, watching that inane reality show she seemed to love with her little art friend nearby! Come to think of it, Helen thought, she hadn't seen much of Jane Lane since Jake's breakdown. Weren't she and Daria still friends? Oh, I have to find out about that - that Lane girl's probably the only thing that's kept Daria from going the same way as her father!

Speaking of going the way of her father… Daria was doing something that made Helen really wonder if she was going crazy. Daria, come to think of it, probably wasn't home watching TV after all.

Daria was dating.

The first one was a few days after that horrible thunderstorm. Helen had decided to try and have a simple dinner at home with the girls, to try and talk to them, and let them know that things would get better. Not at first, but eventually… things would get easier - it's just that everything would take a little time…

She came out of the kitchen that evening to see an auburn-haired vision coming down the stairs.

Daria was always an attractive girl, just understated, Helen always thought, and she did it to distinguish herself from Quinn. Now, as Helen gaped in awe, Daria came down slowly, like a beauty-pageant contestant… She wore an ivory jacket and slacks with a black silk blouse, what had to be designer shoes, a thin necklace adorned with two topaz teardrops, and matching earrings. Her hair was beautifully styled, with just enough makeup to make her phenomenal.

Daria no longer wore glasses.

What completed the look, however, was confidence. Daria was always withdrawn, but it was as if that was just a defense mechanism designed to keep her from getting hurt. The Daria that walked down those stairs knew that she was somebody - and no one would tell her different. The boy that came to pick her up was named Gregory, and he looked stunned by the fact that he actually got to take her out. That look on boys' faces - even the growing number of handsome, wealthy college boys - became a common sight.

Quinn took the change just as Helen would have expected: 'Oh, great. Competition.' She would at least admit that Daria was her sister now, but when the Fashion Club brought up the idea of Daria joining, she threw a temper tantrum that terrified even Sandi. The subject NEVER came up again. They actually began having civil conversations. Sometimes. Daria and Quinn, that is.

This, Helen admitted (with some shame), was the first-born child that she had dreamed about - the Daria that would shake the world with brains and beauty, and proof that she was an excellent parent. Now that it was real, it bothered Helen to no small degree - but whenever Helen brought it up, Daria just shrugged, said, "I needed a change," and then made a career of ignoring further inquiries.

The car being there bothered Helen. This wasn't right. Quinn would especially NOT hang around the house when she knew that Helen wasn't going to be there and Daria was, despite their recent reconciliation. Helen had planned to spend the day, aside from the conference about Jake, at work and not to come back until the next morning - if not to spend the weekend there... She had taken to working lots of evening and early morning hours, or just sleeping at the office, where Marianne, her assistant, had turned an empty office adjacent to Helen's into a small sleeping area.

Helen hadn't slept a single night in the bed she'd shared with Jake since his mental collapse.

Despite everything before Jake's breakdown, Marianne had remained quite loyal, even informing Helen that one of the more unsavory tabloids had tried to entice her with loads of cash for 'insider' stories of the affair. Helen was no fool, and she remembered loyalty; Marianne's younger daughter came home to announce that her entire squad had won full scholarships to cheerleading camp at Lake Wannaweep, one of the best programs in the nation. It was also the best Christmas at their home in the last ten years.

As she stepped out of the car and into sharply cooling air, Helen pulled her coat collar up close - the late January weather had been really bad this year, with unseasonably cold weather predicted to run into the next month - and the threat of dangerous blizzards or ice storms. She blew a long, thin breath out to become a geyser in the frigid air, even in the closed space of the not-quite-heated-yet garage, and reached for her briefcase when the slightly pained rumble in her stomach reminded her that she hadn't eaten all day.

Still dazed by the info from the meeting, and now being led by her stomach, Helen dropped her coat on a chair and kicked her shoes off before heading for the kitchen. She didn't even bother to turn on the lights as she crossed over to the fridge, pawing through the various covered dishes brought over by friends before letting her hand close around a particularly large chicken drumstick.

The chicken leg in one hand, a can of Ultra-Cola in the other and the door to the fridge still open behind her, Helen slouched over to the table and flopped into a chair, her resolve no longer keeping her aloft. She popped the can open and drank half the soda in one swallow, then sat back and began to gnaw almost mechanically at the drumstick, looking aimlessly into the shadows-

It was then that she noticed the sound of Quinn screaming.

+++++

Helen had first reached for her cell-phone, intending to call 911; she was afraid that Daria had snapped like Jake and was intending to finish the job he started.

The jacket pocket where her cell phone always stood ready was empty. Helen was stunned that it was gone and actually started to retrace her meanderings when a second piercing scream from Quinn ripped through the darkened house, even more agonized and frenzied than before. Helen grabbed a broom from the closet and started upstairs, scared for Quinn and a finger of fear for herself beginning to trace ice up her spine as she raced up the steps two at a time... she had some small idea what an insane Daria could think up and do.

As Helen hit the top step and began to sprint up the lightless hallway, the broom held high, a sound swept down the hall that made Helen freeze in her tracks.

She heard Quinn moan.

Helen stopped, her fear forgotten as the red, flaming bull of righteous anger roared.

Quinn was having sex.

It was a loud, deep, throaty sound that could only come from a woman; a sound that Helen was very familiar with; she could remember that sound escaping from her lips on… many occasions. Many with Jake; many more, she remembered with a touch of wistful memory, without… Lavender, as they called her back in the day, was a girl who didn't mind all that much who pleased her in bed, as long as they could…

Quinn was having good sex.

Oh, no. Not here. Not in my house. The little heifer is going to pay. I'm going to kill her. That little - ooooh! I can't BELIEVE that she got rid of Daria, brought some boy up here and decided to play 'doctor' under MY roof! Just what the HELL was she thinking?

Her face dropped any pretense of concern.

Oh, yes. THIS… IS… IT. She's FINALLY gone too far - and I hope to God that she doesn't let that 'But I was so sad, and I just really needed someone to hold me' line come out of her mouth or I will slap her halfway to Atlanta! Stupid little bimbo - you KNOW that every boy you pass on the street ALREADY wants you on your back, and if you let some young man use what happened to your father to get what he wants-!

Her complexion scarlet with rage, Helen went into stealth mode as she started again down the hall, moving quietly towards the thin fingers of light coming from the slightly askew door as she brandished the broom like a cutlass.

"GOD! Oh, God…yes, yes, yes… yes… ohhhh, do it more harder, I can, do it do it do it - YES! AAAAAAHHHHH!!! AAAAAAAAAA -"

Well, someone's going to get embarrassed beyond belief, and they'll be walking until they're old enough for a wheelchair because the Lexus is effing GONE - and when I'm done, that little punk's not going to have enough hanging down to help him pee straight!

Her teeth clenched as she reached for the door, and Helen prepared to fling it open-

"N-n-now… I can feel it," another voice huffed through Quinn's loud, pleading cries - a female voice, straining from exertion and passion, fighting to keep and yet totally out of control… - "d-do whatever you want to me, anything you want… unnngghhh - AH - Quinn... oh, Quinn… we can do this forever…"

Helen was stunned into unmoving shock by the identity of the second voice and the hungry, lustful tone it carried. Her insides seemed to twist into a tiny ball that punched a hole through her very soul…

This is not happening.

"Hhhaaaaahhh… huuughhh… ahhhh… and I can't… I - I - I - oh, God, Quinn, no… No, no, I can't, don't… ohhhh. It's almost, and you - you, you're, make m- m- me - huuuuhhhh… " The voice broke down into a grunting tremble and dropped off, suddenly drowned out by a building, frenzied series of gasps and cries that rang down the hall-

"OHHHHHHH! OHHHHHHHHHHHH!!! YOU'RE FUCKING ME! YOU'RE FUCKING ME! OH, GOD, DARIA, YOU'RE FUCKING ME! YES! YES! OHHHHH, FUCK!"

No.

No.

Maybe the one with pigtails and the big eyes that looks like Moonflower, Stacy something, definitely Sandi Griffin - I could see that she's been holding back from the first day I saw her look at Quinn oh yeah she WANTS her I remember that day when I came home instead of staying at the office and they had the bottle of champagne and I saw the way that they were looking at each other I KNOW that they probably did something or wanted to and would have if I hadn't shown up I don't care HOW many boys that Quinn's let paw on her before or since I'm probably going to see a big shaggy mound of Sandi's brown bed hair sticking out from under the covers I'm STILL going to scream bloody murder at them go get a motel room out in the boonies like I did when I was your age it's not as if you don't have your hand constantly out for money and I understand that kids experiment and I played kissing games with a couple of girls at that sleepover in high school things DO get a whole lot hotter than you'd expect and who's going to tell anyone else besides it was fun I am not going to see - Oh, God…

Seeing Daria and Quinn making love in Quinn's canopy bed was still the absolute last thing Helen could have imagined seeing as she peered through the slightly ajar door to her younger child's room. Her eyes went wide as she saw her two daughters in the low light ebbing from the ice-caked window and a small table lamp, their bodies bare and slicked with gleaming sweat, screaming and crying out to one another as they fought and thrust and ground against one another, their legs interlocked like scissors in their own sybaritic ritual of unleashed, insane, mutual pleasuring…

"Don't you stop, Daria, don't stop, don't stop - yes! OOOHHHHHH!" Quinn screamed, her firm breasts jerking as she rolled her hips, increasing the tempo and her own pleasure as she moved against Daria. "Work it, it down on me - YES! AHHHH! OH MY GOD! HARDER! DARIA! NOW! FUCK ME! GOD! DO IT!"

"Quinn… oh, Quinn-baby, it's so good… so good," Daria moaned, overcome by the way their bodies gyrated and pressed together, lost in the haze as they kept going at one another. "This… is… so… unreal! Oh, God, this is inCREDIBLE! Quinn! QUINN -"

"Shut up… fuck me…!" Quinn snarled, half her face hidden by her hair as she whipped her head forward, small droplets of sweat falling from her chin. "you… push… rub me… like - daria… oooooooooAAAAAAAAAA! HAH! AH! AH! UNNNGH!"

Helen watched through the slim space in stunned disbelief as Daria started to jerk and writhe; she saw Quinn lick her lips as she watched Daria's lower half jerk unevenly, her face twisting and eyes tightly shut as her orgasm rose up and came closer, so much closer... Daria suddenly gasped as Quinn pulled herself away from the soft, auburn-covered junction between her sister's legs, and Daria's voice slurred as she tried to lift her head. "Quinn - God, Quinn, why, I was so close, I could feel it happening, don't stop -"

Daria's body suddenly began to move like elastic; a sharp, warbling sound of surprised pleasure escaped her as Quinn gripped the bedpost to steady herself and hunched her lower body down hard, forcing her hot, silken wetness down maniacally against Daria's own and screaming as the sensations drove back into her like a railroad spike. "I love you… oh, God, Quinn, I love you," Daria moaned, her head swimming as she felt a hand reach out to caress her right breast, followed by the feel of a warm mouth closing upon it. "OH - ohhhhhhhh - please, Quinn, keep doing … t-the other one, suck it t-t-too - ohhhOHHHHHHH…" Daria shuddered as Quinn moved slightly to suckle her other breast; she tangled her fingers around flaming hair, holding her close as the feel of Quinn's tongue massaging her nipple made sparks seem to fall in showers inside her closed eyelids. "Don't - it's never been like… my God, Quinn… y-y-y…huhhugh… oh, don't ever stop…"

After several lovely moments of a soft breast quivering in her mouth, Quinn pulled away to the sound of Daria's almost pained gasp. Quinn ran her hands over Daria's thighs as she repositioned herself, pulled Daria close and began to move her hips, pushing back against Daria in an intoxicating manner that made them both start to shake and scream. The redhead dug her fingernails hard through sheets and mattress as she let herself go, her own body's nerves burning in time with the way her body rolled together with Daria's, barely aware of the barely coherent, animal grunting that echoed from the walls - or that they were her own sounds.

"Oooooooooohhhhh… oh, damn, Daria, that's - it, it's happening… "

This is a dream, Helen told herself as Quinn jerked and slid against Daria, driving her on with a feverish hunger, and Daria gasped sounds loose as she heaved and shifted in union, lifting their lower bodies slightly as she pushed back in on Quinn... This is just a absolutely horrible dream - this is a nightmare, caused by some of that drink-mix that Mook always made when he wanted to really get just all knocked-out and high. I always knew that I'd pay… Oh, yeah, you just had to sneak off and party with Mook, when a little weed and a tab of acid just didn't get the job done, and you really wanted to see the world-class weird shit that the artists and the real hard-core burners saw when they toked off the weed sprinkled with Asian powder, or the stuff from the lab-

No… it's more like watching tiny little blonde Turner, and Forbes, her redhead friend from the Pyro sorority, when we went out into the desert to 'commune' with the so-called 'tribe' that lived just outside town. They were so into each other, they didn't care when Mook and I crawled into their tent when it started to rain while they were doing it, or that I just couldn't stop watching while Mook just slept his high off… they probably didn't even notice me after a while…

With strength only hot lust could manage, Quinn reached for her sister; her hand slipped behind Daria's neck and pulled her forward, her tongue forcing its way from between marshmallow-soft lips and into Daria's mouth. Their tongues entangled eagerly as they both moaned and embraced, hands wildly running over one another, as their mouths opened wider... As Quinn released her sister, sharing another steamy kiss before they parted, they braced themselves as they slid their legs back together like scissors and began to move their bodies together in an eager, nearly frantic rolling and thrusting that drew an immediate, fevered breathing from Daria and made Quinn exhale tiny yipping sounds of delight that evolved into rolling, thundering, guttural screams …

Helen blinked and wiped her eyes, as though she actually could remove the images from her sight.

Oh, I knew that would come back to haunt me someday, that weekend out on the beach in San Francisco, when I smoked, dropped, popped and did everything I could because they passed it my way… including that girl from Sri Lanka, Padma… God, she was tall, and her skin was so dark and smooth, and Mook used us both like chew-toys that Sunday morning…

Quinn's uncontrolled bucking pummeled deep through Daria, and their bodies quaked as the bedsprings and joints squeaked in protest and the canopy swayed dangerously, as if the bed might come apart at any moment... Helen went pale as her red-haired daughter kept working herself with a hard, savage grinding against her sister, grasping and being groped, shrieking and screaming, fighting to keep the pleasure going as an orgasm exploded through Quinn in a molten billowing of ecstasy that splashed & spilled out over and again - and oh, how she was loving every single moment of it. "Do it, do - AAAAAHHHH! Hah - hah - hah -I'mcummingi'mcummingi'mcummingohpleaseOHdoitOHGodIfeelitrubitmeandI'mcummingohpleasedon'tstopdariaDARIA! DARIA! OHHHGOD! DARIAAA! AAAAAAAIIIIIIIIEEEEEEE!!!"

Helen wiped a bead of sweat from an eyelash as Daria's body began to quake again; she watched as Daria's breasts, fuller and shapelier than she'd guessed, rocked in a manner that Helen somehow couldn't turn her eyes away from… The petite, auburn-haired beauty gasped and breathed her pleasure aloud, sending her sister into a new wave of spasms as their bodies rolled and shifted out of control. As Helen watched, Daria half-fell, half-threw herself back onto the bed, eyes rolling back, weeping, spewing, gurgling out unnatural sounds of savage gratification in unison with Quinn's screams as the violent searing of her own splattering orgasm became a supernova detonation between her thighs.

"Huhhhggg - ulllllllllgggggggghhh. Ah - ah - ah ah ah ah OH. oooouuuulllllhhhh… mmmpphf. aaahhllhh! Hunh… hunh… hunh… Quinn, this - OH. OH! No! NO! NOOOOO! PLEASE! no, no, no - ooooooohh! Ohhh! OHHHH! Ohhhhhhhhh - QUINN - GUH! ooolllhhhUNNNGH! HUNH!"

Quinn's sweat-soaked mane clung to her face as her wild, eager shrieks and Daria's labored, gasping grunts became impossible to understand. Quinn grasped at her sister in an almost desperate fashion as her cries spiked higher and higher, pleasure building towards another explosion deep inside her - but Daria went suddenly, horrifically quiet… Her eyes went wide, her mouth open fully, her lips working but no sound coming forth, her hands flexing and grasping, staring intently into nothingness - and then, Daria spasmed into a second violent orgasm, bucking and writhing with no hope of control, an unearthly cry of release ripping from her she let eternity take her and push Quinn back over the edge in her grasp…

Their inescapable, mutual climax sent tearing shockwaves spiking through them both, pleasure so intense and consuming that neither realized or would have cared that they were now both shrieking out to the other at the top of their lungs - or that their mother was watching them…

Obviously, Helen thought, an evil tickle of humor worming through the state of shock her mind was mired in as she watched - maybe it was the lawyer in her talking? - they've done this before… they DO seem to be very good at it. Finally, they've learned to do something together - and apparently, they don't dislike each other as much as they used to…

Quinn flexed and stretched her model-perfect form, opening her eyes and reaching out to run her fingers along the length of Daria's legs as they lay entangled, and slowly lifted her head. "That was so… cosmic," she murmured, still aglow in the fading waves of her orgasm. "Mmmmmmmm… ohhhhh, Daria… you are so good…"

Daria, her eyes misted over, was still unable to speak. Her body twitched in slight, involuntary jerks that decreased as her breath stopped coming in short, labored puffs that made her breasts quiver and Quinn smile at the sight. "Told you I'd wear you out," she teased, and Daria lifted her head to give her a trademark glare. "Told you so.”

"Oh, shut up."

A playful giggle. "Don't have to - you're just a 'cousin.”

An exaggerated sigh of disbelief. "I thought we had finally gotten past that."

The sultry redhead looked over at the auburn-haired beauty, and they shared a gentle smile as Quinn lifted herself up, then pulled Daria into a soft, tender kiss. "Yeah, we have… but you just should admit that you can't keep up," she smiled as she cupped Daria's face in her hands, and her expression went soft as she stared deep into a pair of large, walnut-brown eyes. "Oh… you are so beautiful…"

"It runs in the family," Daria echoed, stroking Quinn's arms, then fingering her neck and face. "When I look at you, Quinn, I understand why others see you and need to write poetry… how else could they even begin to describe you, and do you justice when they try…"

"You'll be getting that, too – besides, this hot little bod you've got won't be turning people to stone anytime soon, either," Quinn replied, taking Daria's index finger slowly into her mouth, slowly moving it between her soft lips and then running her tongue about it several times. "Well, it'll make some parts seem like they've turned to stone. Everything about your body is nice… a little pale, you should get more sun, a tan never hurt anyone…"

She let Daria's hand go, then ran her own hand up Daria's leg and over her thigh. "Ummmn… a great body. I see why you're the brains in the family, though - you know that mine is better…"

A quivering of excitement quickly restarted somewhere deep within Quinn as Daria, smirking as she slowly unmeshed herself from their tangle, rolled over, pushed her back, and lifted herself on top of Quinn. "Yeah - but I'm stronger than you."

Quinn looked at her, her eyes dancing as she watched Daria's breasts sway enticingly just above her face. "So what-?"

"You're too full of yourself, and you talk too much - but I'll shut you up," Daria exhaled, leaning close and breathing in the musky scent of their lovemaking. "You smell so good, Quinn…"

Helen finally felt the cavernous hole in reality suck her in, an unending downward fall that she'd never stop by pretending or even coming to believe that she hadn't seen what was happening right in front of her…

'Oooooooooo…you can do that again…" Quinn murmured into her pillows as Daria brought her lips down on a succulent breast. "Slower… go slower, Daria… a little more... Ohhhh, yeah, like that… oh, yeah, just like that - AHHHH! MMMMMMmmmmmmmm. Yeah…" She ran her fingers through Daria's lust-strewn hair, and felt herself seeming to melt down through the bed as Daria suckled with the grace of an Olympic ice dancer. "Ummmm… feels nice…"

Daria lifted her head after several long moments of making Quinn groan and sigh. "Daria…" Quinn whispered, lifting her hand and smoothing back Daria's hair from her face. "Daria, I-" "Me, too," Daria responded, tracing a line from Quinn's cheek with her finger, then continuing down to move over her breast and around the pert, slightly thick nipple. "Me, too… I love you so much, Quinn…"

They looked deep into on another's eyes for a long time. Daria reached for Quinn, wrapping her arms around her neck and pulling her down on top of her, and the two young women shared a long, deep kiss. Their lips widened just a touch more, their tongues slid together with an easy, luxurious friction as they fondled and caressed, rolling about slowly in the bed.

Daria moaned hot and sweet into her lover's mouth, and their tongues reluctantly parted as they both found their breath once again. "Quinn…" she sighed, tears running down her cheeks as she reached out a hand and entwined their fingers. "Oh, Quinn, you're amazing… please, again…"

Quinn smiled her consent, and Daria’s body began to flutter as a tongue brushed slowly over her soft, pale flesh until it reached soft auburn down, and a wealth of moistness between surprisingly shapely legs. Daria buried her face in the smiley pillow besides her and tried to resist the volcano building within her, knowing that she would lose her fight, and gladly…

A silky intruder slid along the flawless skin of Daria's inner thigh to suckle and flick with wondrous finesse about an eager, stiffened nub hidden within warm, wet folds of flesh. The feel of Quinn's tongue inside her, against her, slammed down inside Daria’s head like a sledgehammer and blinded her to everything but her own body's demanding of pleasure, wiping everything away but her hunger, her need, for that flickering tongue…

Daria suddenly felt her hands grip down hard on the edges of the mattress, her body aroused past any hope of return. She felt a current of burning sensation take control to arch her body until she strained, and the piercing sound that escaped from Daria without warning - a primal outburst of surprise, pain and passion unleashed - hit Helen like lightning and brought her immediately back to the here and now -

Oh, my God. My God in heaven. My daughters are making love right in front of me. They're like some sort of animals, just gripping and sucking and screaming to each other as they fuck like wild beasts out in the woods -

Helen turned and walked away without looking back.

+++++

"She's really not feeling well, Mr. Schrecter - maybe now's not a good time to talk to her-"

"Nonsense! Helen's a PROFESSIONAL. She knows how to keep her personal and work-lives separated!"

Ignoring Marianne, Eric Schrecter swaggered up to the inner door of Helen's office and walked in without knocking to see Helen at the window, turning her head slightly as she saw him enter.

"Hello, Eric," Helen greeted him, brushing her thoughts to the back of her mind. "What can I do for you?"

Eric took an unconscious step back. The Helen Morgendorffer he knew and was comfortable with was never this direct - unless she had spent the day before polishing and sharpening her knives to fillet someone in a courtroom or an arbitration meeting.

Maybe I should start listening to the hired help around here, he thought, barely putting aside the look of disgust from Marianne as he closed the door behind him…

"There's a couple of things the partners want me to discuss with you," he said, taking a seat in front of Helen without asking. "First - the Ceedle situation. The partners want you to know that you've really kept their collective pasty-white rumps off the proverbial fire by the way you've handled things. They want to pass along a united 'Well done' - and they've actually ponied up for a token of their gratitude."

He took a small white box out of his jacket, placed it on Helen's desk, and pushed it across with two fingers; as Helen watched with curiosity, he removed an envelope from his inner pocket and placed it almost reverently beside the box.

"A REAL token… not just a pen, or a hundred-dollar bill. What's in the envelope… well, we've a nice company policy around here. Gifts and tokens of appreciation are fine - but cash inspires effort like nothing else."

Helen turned, and Eric succeeded in the greatest feat of self-control he'd ever attempted in his life… to that point. He managed not to dribble on himself or just stare dumbfounded as she went to her desk.

Whatever she was thinking about while she was staring out there, she can think about THAT anytime she wants as far as I'm concerned, Eric thought as oily fantasies of Helen, spread-eagled across her desk with her head jerking and hair flailing about as she screamed for him to keep going, slimed a well-worn path of vileness through his mind and out through the thin smile that somehow managed to leak out onto his face. I always did like your choice in clothes, baby girl - but I'd really love to check out that birthday suit up close. Excellent front end, and damn, you must be freezing up in here -! Eric's smile grew a touch wider as he glanced up again; the proof of Helen's arousal was plainly visible through the canary-yellow silk blouse she wore…

Helen looked from the box to Eric to the box, and with a neutral expression that further bothered Eric, opened it and lifted out the two sets of car keys that rested on a velvet cloth. One had a tag with a familiar rearing-horse emblem that she couldn't quite place, while she wasn't familiar with the emblem on the other tag… She looked up, and Eric smiled and nodded to the window.

"Look at the spaces next to your car."

Ignoring the clumsy way Eric ran his eyes over her body and tried to play it off by commenting about a painting next to her, Helen went back to the window - pulling her jacket from the chair and slipping it on as she moved - and looked out to the spot he mentioned.

"Not bad, don't you think?" Eric spoke from behind her. "The partners said 'Pick one. It's yours."

"I didn't do that much," Helen said, and she was slightly shaken out of her mood by the sight of the two cars sitting on either side of her Land Rover - a chestnut-brown Bentley convertible that matched her hair, and a candy-apple-red Ferrari. "That's… that's quite a thank you."

"No, thank you," Eric said, leaning back in the chair. "The firm was mentioned barely in passing during this - unpleasant time. You remembered that you are a representative of this firm, and cut everybody off who might have tried to use this to his or her advantage. I understand that Mrs. Griffin's back on the air now?"

"She does the five P.M. broadcast at KRCM-TV now, and she has a firm eighteen months in that spot," Helen confirmed. "After that, let the bastards fire her. If they can."

"Now that's the Helen Morgendorffer that I remember!" Eric chortled, shifting himself as Helen returned to her seat. "Now, the partners want you to know that even with your excellent work and ESPECIALLY with the way you handled the past few weeks - there's going to be a down side."

"You're passing me over for partner in favor of - whom?"

"No one becomes a partner this year," Eric said, his voice changing to match the finality of a death sentence that echoed in Helen's own words. "Not Gant, not Raeder, not Jonichiwa, not you. No one."

"And you're telling me because -?"

"Because we don't want you running off and getting scooped up by some other firm that'll hear about you and offer you a partnership a year after you come aboard, just because you didn't make partner this year," Eric informed her with uncommon bluntness. "And they will come sniffing around town for you-"

Speaking from experience, she thought quite loudly. Like you'll ever see me bent over your desk squealing for your pinky-sized prick like you do with some of the paralegals, you piece of gift-wrapped shit; if you only KNEW who’s offered me rank in their firm-

"-So if we don't make a pre-emptive strike, we'll be out of a valuable and proven asset," Eric said. "Here's the deal. Your salary just doubled. You now have a second job title - official spokesperson for the firm. You will handle all media-related matters, act as the public voice of this firm in press conferences, interviews and so forth, and you will sit in on all meetings of the partners - official and unofficial - where you will have a voice but you will not have a vote. Have your assistant prepare a listing of your clients. You will retain the most profitable one-third of them - and you will now also begin to receive a percentage of all business affairs that you are involved in. To that end, you'll also act as a special liaison to other legal entities, where you'll act as our voice in the matters of the firm. You will now be involved in the handling of the affairs of some of our larger accounts - and a number of clients who, shall we say… appreciate measured discretion in their legal affairs."

Eric sat up, and fished a cigarette out of his jacket. "Clients such as Mrs. Johannsen. She was very pleased with your work, in case no one told you, and enjoyed her Los Angeles vacation very much. Also, since you'll have many more extended stays in the office, we'll have someone come in and make that office your assistant's fixed up for you into a more comfortable living area. I trust you won't mind a satellite TV linkup and high-speed Internet access - we'll also soundproof the room for you, and get you a real bed in here. Oh, yes. You will receive a copy of the 'gold-list' Rolodex-"

Helen kept herself from gasping in surprise as he slid a very familiar set of keys across the desk to her. "-As well as your own set of keys to the retreat. Enjoy."

Helen looked at the gleaming retreat keys; she pocketed them, the envelope and the keys to the Bentley. "I need a company card," she said, holding her hand out as she stood up.

"Of course – the partners thought as much," Eric said, smiling as he stood and removed two cards from a holder in his coat - a black American Express card, and a Visa card with a shifting, colorful, fractal-style hologram on the front - and passed them over to Helen. "Use them in good health."

Helen looked at the cards, each with her name on them. American Express Black, and 'Visa Infinite' - that'll do, she thought, looking the two cards over as she walked around the desk, past Eric, and opened the door to the outer office. "Marianne, could you come in here, please?"

Marianne stood up and approached the door, a touch of fear evident on her face. "Y-yes, Mrs. Morgendorffer?"

A look of curiosity went over her face as Helen moved into her personal space - and pressed the cards into her hands. "This is what I want you to do," Helen told her, uncaring that Eric had a look of stunned curiosity on his face. " Go home. Take the next week off, with pay. Use these to take your family on a trip. Have fun. Make sure that your kids have fun.
Don't think about the expenses, and splurge. Buy gifs and the extra set of mouse ears if someone wants it. Get the good bottle of champagne for after the kids go to sleep. If ANYONE gives you even the slightest bit of static, call my cell number so I can straighten him or her out immediately. I mean that."

Eric and Marianne had identical looks of 'What the-?' on their faces as Helen went to her closet, took out her winter coat, and began to put it on. "When you get back from having fun, go and buy at least eight new outfits and eight new business suits. I don't want to see you wearing the same outfit twice in a two-week period. Oh, yes. Also get yourself four new evening gowns. You might end up at some stuffy formal dinner or ball with me. "

"Mrs. Morgendorffer - are you all right?" Marianne asked, her voice now shaking, but with concern for her… something Helen had never heard before. "You're-"

"Making sure my people have the things they need to perform," Helen interjected. 'Ample resources, positive motivation, and a boss who gets off their backs and lets them breathe. I've never told you how lucky I am to have you as an assistant, have I?"

"Mrs. Morgendorffer-"

"Get out of here. Go have some fun," Helen told her, walking past - and then stopping in the door. "One more thing. When you get back, call around to the local hunting and sporting goods stores. Ask around on what a good gun for a lady would be - comfortable, accurate, easy to learn to shoot, and powerful enough to put someone down and keep him there." She turned and looked directly at Eric. "When you get a good answer, go out and buy one."

Marianne drew a thin, mirthless smile down her face. "Revolver - nine millimeter - Smith and Wesson M940 Centennial in stainless steel. If you load it with 'Plus-P' rounds… he'll stay down."

Helen gave her a sideways glance. "You have one?"

Eric's bladder threatened to empty itself because of the way Marianne barely glanced in his direction. "I have one."
Helen wrapped her scarf around her throat. "Have a nice day, Eric.

Eric's face wore the traditional 'dog-watching-'Jeopardy' look reserved for outstanding idiots as Helen disappeared from the office. He felt the eyes of Marianne upon him, and he hurriedly made his own exit…

+++++

People got out of Helen's way as she drove the Bentley home. Quickly.

As she drove, Helen kept coming back to the images of Quinn and Daria together in the canopy bed. What bothered her most was her reaction.

Not her initial reaction. She was frightened - no, horrified, and shaken. The shock had finally given way to the fully opened vault of Helen's tightly leashed emotions and fears, and they spilled out freely…

They're sisters! This isn't 'Flowers In The Attic'! How could they DO that?

It made her angry, and it frustrated the hell out of her. What the hell happened that could have caused them to even think that - to think that way about each other, let alone actually do anything, to even consider… oh, God, they've been doing it for a while, because you DON'T have sex anything even CLOSE to the way they were going at it like they were the first time you make it with someone, I don't care what's in the books or on the porno tapes or the Spice Channel, even though the second or third time you might IF you're both paying attention and you both like to screw and take whatever you're getting, use it the way YOU like it and you're selfish as hell about getting your orgasm - they've been sleeping together for a while! They've been doing it right under my nose! How could I have missed that?

Daria's been dating - from what I've been seeing, she's been going through the young men like popcorn, and Kay Sloane HATES her for screwing her son right in their front room and NOT being embarrassed about being caught - thank GOD I hadn't decided yet how to talk to her about THAT - would they have had acted like that if I HAD burst in on them in Quinn's bedroom? How could I NOT know that my children are screwing each other hard like they were - are - and who the hell ELSE are they doing it with? Daria's friend - Jane Lane - are they bouncing around with her - and if they are, which one? Both of them - no, it can't be that bad - oh, hell, like that could make this any worse if they're both sleeping with her, or if they're all doing it together? What in the name of God made this happen? What the hell kind of horrible parent am I?

More than anything else, the reactions Helen had to what she saw that Friday night confused her, because she didn't run from speaking her mind in any situation, no matter who would get hurt in the result.

But you ARE concerned - because as soon as it gets out, and stuff like this ALWAYS gets out… well, eight out of ten times, and only when EVERYBODY concerned has something equally bad to lose…

Oh, and Helen. Let's be honest - that's not what's REALLY bothering you, is it? No… you're annoyed because it brings back some GOOOOOOOD memories, doesn't it? Makes you remember when Jake would, ah, 'help you with your stress relief'… and until the two of you moved into that little dump in Highland, how he could help you at least three or four times a night… and he had absolutely NO problems with keeping the honor of the Morgendorffers held high… but every now and then, you DID stray… well, back before you two made it legal…

I wasn't going to be one of those girls who wasn't sure where her babies came from - saw far too much of that, and could you just imagine if I had slipped out on Jake, and Daria found out that she WASN'T his? I certainly didn't need a drama like THAT playing out - even the suggestion of that would drive Daria over the edge - so I got the ring, the paper and kept it to one bed and one man only… I did the right thing, but sometimes, I'm get - I want - I get just so…

Did it make you horny, Helen? Did watching them make you want to - shag?

I was thinking lonely.

Shut up.

You shut up.

Then start being honest. You're so damned stereotypically British sometimes! Let's keep it all proud and dignified and on the up-and-up, but when doors close and your clothes hit the floor, you'd shock Caligula with what you'll do! Just say that you're horny, Helen. Just say that you miss having someone in your bed. A couple of someones. Some accessories. Snacks.

Just say that you miss being in the one place where the rules don't apply, and where it's all right to lose your mind.

Just say that you miss being able to go off somewhere and fuck like nothing else matters.

I hate you.

Well… it's a place to start.

Helen, as much as she was loath to finally admit it to herself, realized that the sight of her daughters making love had aroused her. Very aroused.

It must be simply because I haven't had sex - good sex - in a long while, she thought. The last time Jake and I were together was… God, it’s been months, I can’t even recall, and the only thing I can say about that was, well, at least he got something out of it – while it lasted. It must be because I've been sublimating it with work ever since, and then, with Jake's legal matters. It's not the girl-on-girl thing - I've seen women make love before… Yes, he knew about Erica, and yes, he didn't lose it over my - my relationship with her, but I'm just so glad Jake didn't find out about some of the other stuff I did before he arrived at Middleton - or after. I'm glad he didn't know, on the trip we took to visit Willow's folks during Spring Break, how on the last night we were there, Willow and I went down to cool off in that little swimming hole and one thing led to another… I'm so glad that he never found out that on the graduation gift-trip to Europe Mom gave me, Turner and Forbes tagged along… While he was struggling that summer to finish up his STUPID senior thesis project in marketing, we spent a month doing things that would make Hugh Hefner go blind! I still don't know if we'll ever be able to set foot in Dijon ever again, with all the seniors we made it with at that prep school… well, there were only thirty or so in the graduating class, and they learned SO fast - Hey, a bet's a bet.

Helen's mind cleared for a moment as she thought about Forbes Carlyle and Paige Turner, now a wealthy international antiques broker and a Federal appellate judge, and still together in an ultra-wealthy suburb of Denver. Paige Turner - they made it a play-on-words because of her love of reading; she went everywhere with a book in hand, turning pages and not watching where she was going… Helen smiled at the thought of the way Paige strode at high speed across campus with everyone getting out of her way, and how she met Forbes - she walked right over her as she read 'Advise and Consent', while Forbes was getting some sun on the quad with some of her sorority sisters. It always made the others in the movement laugh that Paige - ‘Serenity’ to them – had gone from being one of the most fiery, outspoken members against ‘the Establishment’ to a woman deeply, completely in love with the tall redhead who all but breathed ‘upper class’. Even so, no one ever made a single comment about how she introduced herself as ‘Paige’, barely referred to herself as ‘Serenity’ ever again, and accepted the diamond necklace and designer dress Forbes got her for Christmas with tears in her eyes…

Well - that's what love does to people. God, I miss those two - total nut boxes, both of them, but life around them was never boring… I miss all of the things we did -

Not THAT. Well, I don't miss that - well, not that so much - but the way we could just talk and hang out and be together as just friends; I'd probably still be friends with them, if Jake hadn't been so intimidated by them. It's not that they're lesbians as much as they were soul mates that made him hinky around them, because they didn't see anything wrong about themselves and didn't hear anything anyone had to say, either. He was just jealous because they were able to face things about themselves and get on with their lives.

The fact that the Carlyles have more money than most countries shut mouths, too. I loved watching the look Forbes would get when someone who'd run their mouth too much found out that she was Spaulding Carlyle's youngest child and only daughter… and Jake was too proud - too stupid! - to accept her offer to work for her father as a floor-level marketing rep. 'I've gotta do it on my own!' Moron - it's called 'networking'… 'making contacts'… 'having an actual head for business…'

I miss Turner and Forbes. I miss having real friends… I miss being able to just talk about little nothings, just being friendly, without having to worry about business, or the person talking to me sizing me up as competition, an information source, a possible lay, or as someone not worth being bothered with, unless they want to prove something. I can’t even remember the last time I enjoyed just a simple conversation with someone – or the last time I had one. I miss being frivolous – or at least having those moments – why the hell DON’T I do that anymore? I had other interests – I liked other things – why is my life only the law, Jake and my daughters? Where are my hobbies? I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong about that – my family is important to me – but somewhere along the line, I stopped doing things that were just for me… that I did just because I liked it.

Besides sex.

And I don’t even do that anymore.

Where the hell did my life go…?

The scenery started to move past at an uncomfortable rate as Helen's thoughts turned back to her own youthful escapades…

More than anything else, I am glad that he NEVER found out about Moonflower. God - she looked so much like Quinn's friend, the one with pigtails and no backbone…

I still remember Moonflower like it was yesterday - the weird clothes she showed up in, the strange perfume she wore, but it did smell nice, and that storm that hit the night she showed up - I still remember it, it was the worst storm that part of the country's ever seen, and two days before the Fourth… She was so smart – she made that professor in astrophysics look like he wanted to cry after she embarrassed him in front of those co-eds of his that he was trying to impress… How shy she was, at first, and after it was over, how I lay there in the grass and she lifted her head into the light of the full moon, and it was like she had a halo of her very own…

In a way, I’m glad that she just disappeared a few days later. We were only together once – I only knew her for seven days – but I’d have done anything she’d asked. I love Jake, and I wouldn’t give up my girls for anything – my God, I never even knew Moonflower’s real name! - but I’d have followed her anywhere.

If she had asked.

If, when she walked off through those trees, she had looked back even once at me… She stopped – she trembled, she took that deep breath, as if she was steadying her resolve, I’ll always remember the way that huge braid she wore her hair in bobbed about when she did – but she didn’t look back.

Thank you, Moonflower.

A thin smile traced across Helen’s face for an instant.

My God, but her legs were so long, and the way she could bend herself, you'd think that she DIDN'T have a backbone – Quinn's like that, although Daria's got some hips that can move like I've never seen! And the way she sucked Quinn's breast, and that kiss-! Oh, it's been so long since I've felt a mouth on me like that or had a French kiss that hot - Daria really loves using her tongue, and I bet she really knows how to work it on a stiff little clit - Moonflower could untangle a ball of yarn with hers - I bet that if I'd stayed longer, I'd have found out. By watching. Nothing else. God, how could you even insinuate anything else? They're my daughters - my children - my babies! They need help! But Quinn was really enjoying herself - they both were - and the way Quinn could wrap those legs around Daria… but the way they were just grinding down on each other, and Daria's like a machine in the sack… That's interesting, that Quinn's a screamer and Daria's a breather - oh, God, just thinking about the way they were screaming makes me feel so, so… I wonder how good it feels -

It's been so long since someone's touched me, and it actually made me want to just let go… but I can't, because someone has to be the grown-up around here… it's always been like that… Always having to be the mature one… the grown-up… the mommy… making sure that everybody walks the straight and narrow, that they're presentable - that they're everything I used to hate before I realized just how the world really does work… that someone can do what it takes just to pay the bills… Even in school, I was the one to be adult about things, and tell everyone when things were going too far.

I'm tired of being the one who carries the rulebook around. I'm tired of being the only one who actually cares what happens the next morning, after you get up and have to be a 'exemplary student', and then, a 'good, hard-working, God-fearing, law-abiding member of society' - after all, even if you play along with the game, and you actually DO get things, nobody ever gets exactly what they want… and I want… I want-

Why can't I be the one to break the rules, to be just bad, to be dirty, to cut loose and not even care - just once, why can't I let go, and be damned what happens -

And Helen's mind slipped away, into dark, unfettered fantasy…

+++++

In her mind's eye, Helen saw herself lying nude in a soft bed, her heavy breasts heaving as Daria sucked with abandon at a large, thick nipple, making her mind go hazy as she ran her fingers through Daria's hair ... Daria lifted her head to look at her with those large, dark eyes, and Helen leaned forward for a kiss, her mouth opening wide to groan pleasure into Daria as she let their tongues entangle… She ran her hands across Daria's shoulders, letting them slide down to cup those soft, wondrous breasts, grasping at them, holding them and feeling Daria's fingers, and then tongue, slide in response around the fullness of her own bosom, grasping and teasing; down her stomach and between her thighs, and she suddenly fell into fingers and currents of warmth that seemed to enshroud her, stroking her and touching her in every way that she loved, beckoning her to fall deeper into it… As she fell freely through the warmth, there was a sharp, primitive, liberating sound that came pulsing from nowhere and started to resolve all around her; as the sound began to build, she felt it rolling through her, not in sharp, clawing, consuming sensations, but as a building whisper of air that made every nerve within her body dance, a pillow holding her aloft, a cloak that enveloped her, and it seemed to carry all she was forward, ever forward, making her feel soft, and good, and alive, and free as it reached a single, wondrous point of light that seemed to merge with and expand within her until she was the light, willingly becoming and flowing outward like the first point of Creation itself …

And Helen realized that she had just climaxed.

A parade of screeching tires just behind her made Helen suddenly realize that she'd blown through her third red light - at 96 mph…

I don't even know where that came from - pun certainly intended. My God - I need some help. Something - EVERYTHING - is wrong with me. How could I even create thoughts like that in my head, let allow myself to react like that to them? Thinking of bedding Daria, and it actually made me - I need professional help. Fast.

But where can I go? Who can I talk to - who can I trust to help me?

Oh, God… I don't know…

+++++

Why is she doing this? What's happened between us that makes her think that there's something that she can't come to me with?

Jane Lane was, at the moment, a very confused young woman.

That was what really bothered her - the way Daria had basically removed her from her life. Sure, they were friends… well, maybe associates, now. Not even that, if you think about it – well, from the way Daria was acting. It was strange – no, it was scary – ‘Stepford Wives’- scary. Daria had all but stopped coming around, refused to allow Jane to come over to the Morgendorffer house - and when she saw Daria for the first time after Jake's breakdown, three weeks later, Jane honestly didn't recognize her at first.

Damn - 'Dress-up Daria', with goofy college boy action figure and 'cool car' vehicle set. What the hell happened? What the hell happened to YOU?

She tried to talk with Daria and tried to get in touch with Helen (she was working the Ceedle whitewash and didn't even return her calls), but this went nowhere FAST.

The teachers at LHS had differing reactions. Mr. O'Neill was practically walking on air whenever Daria was around, and Ms. Barch became even more vindictive and mean-spirited, as though she felt betrayed. Mr. DeMartino, generally considered the most levelheaded of the teachers, spoke and reacted no differently to Daria - but when Jane spoke to him in private, he said, "Have you ever seen 'Full Metal Jacket', Ms. Lane?"

He spoke no more about it, but from that time on, Jane always had the feeling that Mr. DeMartino was preparing for the worst…

Ms. Li, however, saw nothing wrong. Far from it, she thought she'd struck gold: "Miss Lane - apparently Miss Morgendorffer has decided to take the terrible event that has befallen her family and instead of dwelling upon it to no avail, has acted in a proactive fashion, and used it as a stepping stone to personal growth! She has taken the worst of negatives, made it into a positive, and in the process, has brought honor, and glory, to herself, her family, and… 'LAWNDALE HIGH'. She has changed herself so as to NOT make the mistakes of her father, stopped isolating herself from the rest of her peers, and instead become a benefit, a welcome addition, and a role model for the community as a whole! I have nothing but kudos for her - and I'm surprised that as her best friend, you are not supporting her wholeheartedly during this time of tragedy! For shame, Miss Lane! For shame!"

The 54 that Daria scored on the EACT College Boards the week after Jake's breakdown - she'd insisted on taking the exam - had insured that as far as Ms. Li was concerned, Daria herself could commit murder. 50 was a statistically 'perfect' score, based on the idea that everyone missed a question or two on the EACT.

Daria didn't.

Jane saw Daria a week later, at Casa Alejandro. She tagged along with Trent and the other guys from Mystic Spiral, who were getting some food and liquors as payment for a birthday party they'd played the weekend before. (The guys had balked at first, but Trent reminded them that the place served the best authentic Mexican and Spanish food in the state, and besides, there was a REALLY hot female chef there.) The guys and Jane, loaded down with boxes, were heading out the front door when Daria came in with a guy Jane thought looked familiar…

The Boys of Spiral were left speechless by Daria's appearance. She wore a powder-blue strapless gown that seemed airbrushed onto her form; the way she moved as she and her date went past left Trent speechless for the next hour and made Max walk right into a wall. Jane tried to talk to her, but Daria wasn't interested in being open… The 'I needed a change' excuse flew like a lead weight around Jane. She knew Daria all too well, and Jane could see the door behind her eyes slam shut and lock as Daria realized she was being read like the proverbial book.

The boy Daria was with, seeing his chance to score being jeopardized by Jane, whispered a few words to the Maitre'd; Jane and the others found themselves out on the sidewalk thirty seconds later. That was when she recognized the boy - he was some rich kid named Sloane, and he'd been scoping her at the Zon, but somebody spilled a Jagermeister slushie on him and he bailed…

Jane tried several times after that to catch up with Daria at home, but somehow, Daria was never there. Even at three a.m. - Daria was never at home. Quinn was - she'd run across the petite redhead more lately, for some reason - and from the few conversations that she stumbled through with Daria's sister, especially when she tried to play the 'you need a makeover TOO, Jane!' card, something was made crystal clear…

Something is totally wrong with Daria. Something major, with the capital 'M'. It's like she's got this great big secret, bigger than anything she's ever run into ever before, and if she tells anyone about it she'll be doomed, so she doesn't even tell me… also, what's going on with Quinn? She's NOT well… not by any means.

A few days after that horrible thunderstorm, we had that tornado warning just before third period. Ms. Li had everyone go into the bomb shelter - I mean, the school's sub-basement - thank God SOMETHING her paranoia came up with paid off - but I remember Quinn. I watched her hold back… and then she walked, calm and normal as you please, right into the library. She pulled a chair up right in front of the rounded wall of windows, sat down and looked out at the wall of dark storm clouds come in as if she was watching a sunset. It was as if she didn't care that a tornado could come right through and chew her up… she didn't even care.

Then, when I saw her by herself at Yogurts-Of-The-World, staring into nothing when the other Fashion Fascists popped up and Sandi started making cracks - Quinn just shut her down, as if the FC didn't mean a damn to her. The look that Sandi had when Quinn told her that she was just dreaming of popping both of her brother's cherries was PRICELESS! Especially if it's true what I've heard… as soon they're old enough to drive and flash cash, Quinn would date them both just to piss Sandi off! I noticed that Stacy Rowe didn't buy the 'tude, though… she seemed really worried about Quinn, and by the looks of things - just as worried as I am about Daria.

I don't blame her for being concerned. It's been almost five months since it all happened, and I know Quinn - well, okay, I know her well enough to know that even with the news saying that an alien invasion's a day away, her first reaction's going to be that she needs new clothes, because the shock troops might not make the cute ones with fashion sense into slaves… well, maybe just love slaves…

She's cute as a button and shifting by the day into full-fledged 'hot-chick' mode - hell, she's already there as far as the boys are concerned, but Quinn Morgendorffer was not designed with the software for contemplating the universe - oh, sorry, 'why bad things happen to good, trendy people'. Maybe gaining some intelligence, probably finding a bit of common sense, actually understanding that there's a world that doesn't care about the difference between machine-stitched and hand-stitched outfits… The only consciousness Quinn explores begins with 'fashion'. Let's face it, even a worldly Quinn is still a Quinn with 'Inflate to 60 psi' written next to the valve on the back of her head!

But she's still messed up about the whole thing about her father. Really messed up. It's like she's got something hidden within herself, like Daria's been since the breakdown - it's like they've finally got something in common, and its really horrible, and they're not about to let anybody else find out about it or not even see it, but they can stick it far away into a little box and never let it out.

Until it escapes all on its own, and that'll usually happen at the worst possible time. I knew that the Morgendorffers weren't especially close as a family, and Jake's going bonkers shook them all up, but I never dreamed that it would drive that far down into them… Daria as a fashion plate and Quinn… what's up with THAT, anyway? Quinn with deep thoughts about death… and Daria: she just doesn't come around anymore, and I want to see her - I want to help her through it, especially if it's as bad as I think it's becoming. We're friends, senorita. We're best friends. I'm here for you. There's nothing that you can't tell me, and you know that. You SHOULD know that, after all we've been through. Please, Daria - just let me in!

But I can't even say that. She always changes the subject, and the one time I pushed it, I didn't see her for a month. I didn't know that she could vanish that effectively - and that’s another thing. She's hiding things from me.

I have to find out what's going on…

I have to know - before it explodes in all of our faces.


+++++


Helen stepped into the bathroom, and a powerful surge of emotions suddenly burst free of the lockbox she'd welded them into as she took in the lingering essence of her husband.

Her husband. Almost thirty years of standing at his side, since that June day in 1975, when she wore that crown of laurel and tiny, budding pink roses and stood on the shore, looking deep into Jake's eyes and truly believing that the revolution would begin with their joining as man and woman.

But it was all a bunch of bullshit, she sighed. He couldn't be a man; he couldn't escape what his father did to him, or try to climb out of his personal abyss, or even bother to ask for help. No - he decided to just give up and coast through life. Stupid, weak, simpering bastard; even having children who needed someone worthwhile in their lives couldn't pull you out of your funk. You could have at least gone off and had an affair - that Griffin bitch certainly sniffed at your leg enough when we first came to town, didn't she?

What was it about you that just drew women to you, Jake? I guess that 'broken wing' shit actually works… it worked on me. Why couldn't you have tried to prove you're a man in the old-fashioned way, by nailing some silly young thing that doesn't know any better, so she thinks you're wonderful? Why couldn't you just fuck Linda? She looks exactly like that girl from Chicago - hey, she wanted to fuck you, too! You always DID tap into everyone's 'I need a hug' buttons - you could have been waist-deep in girls - but like everything else, you couldn't follow through. You never could get the job done.

You could have thrown yourself fully into that silly cooking kick you've always had, and said that I need to take care of the bills because you're chasing your pate-filled muse… You could have just been supportive of me. You could have just been a husband to me. You could have just been my man, and dared anyone to say anything about how you lived your life, because as long as you were here for me - here to just love me - nothing else mattered.

I was such a fool. The only reason he didn't kill Quinn was because she was the only one who didn't threaten his manhood. If Daria didn't practically live at her friend Jane's place, or if I hadn't had to fly out to Wolfman & Hart's L.A. branch to personally meet with that new bunch of mavericks and set up Mrs. Johannsen's, er, well… vacation plans out there…

I pity you, Jacob Morgendorffer. That's the way we began our relationship, when I pitied the way you looked and acted when the guys came down on you on your first day at Middleton - why in the hell did you wear your cadet uniform anyway, idiot? - and I pitied the way you looked in that bed, with a leaking brain and eyes that don't see anything in this reality, anymore. I'll take our time together, cherish the good, let the bad go, and take care of our little girls - not that they're so little anymore… The memory flashed through Helen’s head - Quinn's canopy bed squeaking in protest, Daria lowering herself down upon Quinn, the way Quinn’s scream pierced through her - and elicited a thin, dark shadow of a smile. Good thing that you didn't get to see that - probably would have caused your eyeballs to explode and blood to fountain out your left ear on the spot.

I'm letting you go, Jake. No more of your self-loathing and hatred for another man who wasted the lives of the people around him, no more grief over what could have been, no more embarrassment over the thing you were. No more playing 'mommy' for the girls AND you, no more cajoling to do better, no more sad looks when you couldn't be a man in our bed because you couldn't be one even in your own eyes, towards the end. I'm going to let go - for your soul's sake as well as my own - and so our girls can see that it's okay to move on, too.

That is my final gift to you. Vaya con dios, Jacob Morgendorffer. May you soon know the peace in death that you never found in life.

And the answer is yes. Despite everything… I did love you.

Helen noticed her image in the mirror, and angrily wiped the tear on her left cheek away. I have my career to keep on track, and our children to attend to, now… and I have no idea how to do the latter.

God… what am I going to do?

+++++

"Hey, Daria."

Daria turned from the pick-up counter of 'Mrs. Wright’s Rib Throwdown' (the new rib place in town) to see Trent Lane lean against the front entrance, smiling at her.

"Long time no see." A moment's pause, as he looked her over. "Interesting clothes."

"Hey, Trent." Daria picked up her change, ignoring the clothes remark, and noticed that he was carrying a five-gallon water carrier. "What's that for?"

"Me and the guys were heading out for some new amp cords. The Tank broke down a block over that way. I came to get water. The Wrights are cool about it."

Daria looked just behind him. "So… where's Jane?"

"She took the car. She went to get munchies for tonight."

"What's happening special tonight?"

"Nothing special. Movies on cable," he yawned. "Predator.' 'Starship Troopers'. Jane's 'cute guys who fight good on TV but get whacked five seconds into real life' double feature. Her words, not mine. There are guys who are cute, but I don't tell them that."

"You think that some guys are cute?"

"Nah. That's a girl and gay thing. Their business. Their phrase. Just passing along Jane's words."

"Oh. Okay."

"Daria. How come you don't hang with Jane like you used to?"

This made Daria raise her eyebrow. "Hmmn?"

"You and Jane just don't connect like you used to, like since before, well… you know…"
Trent actually blushed, bringing up the subject of Jake. "You just stopped… you don't come around anymore."

"I-" She stumbled through words. "I just haven't had time - with Dad and what happened, I'm trying - I just need some time to work things through, and I didn't think it would be fair to make Jane have to put up with this-"

"No. I don't think so," Trent countered, cutting her off. "The way she acts, neither does Jane. She doesn't understand the change in you - or why you shut her out of your life. She's confused, she's not happy… Daria, she's scared for you."

"Trent-"

Trent cut her off again. "A few days after your dad - well, it's like you turned a switch, and Jane wasn't important anymore. You don't talk to her, you don't come near her - not even at school, I heard, and you suddenly shut her out of the things that matter. I know that it's all bad right now, but Jane's been hurting over this because she really cares about you."

"Trent, I care about Jane, too-"

Daria looked confused as Trent looked around to see that the area was nearly empty, then moved up close to Daria. He tried to look up at her, but couldn't.

"There's a part of Jane that loves you," he said, looking down at his threadbare sneakers. "Really loves you - you know, where you run off with someone to a small farm in Idaho to raise organic foods and free-range chickens, and live with whoever you want, and the neighbors don't really care as long as you're good people who don't go around telling folks what they have to accept. And you're worth a few million bucks. That kind of love. She probably doesn't even realize it. Yet. You really need to not do this anymore, Daria."

Daria looked at him, noncommittal. "Pardon?"

"Pain makes people do things," Trent told her. "Things that they'd never do or think of if they were straight upstairs. We're animals - and when we get hurt, especially in our heads, we get crazy. We do stuff, and with people we'd never imagine."

He lifted his head, looked right into Daria's eyes - and Daria, without doubt, knew for a fact that Trent knew EXACTLY what had happened, beginning with that night of the storm, that night when she and Quinn broke all the rules, that night when she decided that, that…

-That 'the rules' are nothing more than a stockpile of bullshit, put together by people who want to stop everybody else, or at least slow them down, from what they've been doing all along. People are just no good at all. Who cares about anybody, or anything - except right here, right now, and what makes you feel good? Nothing matters anymore, don't you see? I've wasted so much time caring about what everyone else thinks, and what I think about myself, and for what? Nothing matters -

- Nothing but the only person that I've ever cared about. I won't let her come near me, ever again. What happens with Quinn and me doesn't matter, because we're already wrong inside - ever since we were born - and there's nothing we can do about it. We're doomed already. We're damned already. What does it matter if I hop into my sister's bed, and we grind and lick and suck until we're too tired to go anymore? Do you think I care about right and wrong when Quinn and I go down on each other, because every time I make her come, she drowns out the screaming in my head? When Quinn does me and I come hard - it blanks it all out. It makes me feel good for a few seconds that otherwise, I wouldn't feel anything in. When Dad went over the edge, he took everything good about Quinn and me with him. Well, I hope he's watching and blowing veins in his head and his pants, because this is all he's left us. The Morgendorffer girls - damaged goods, but we do know how to fuck.

I hate myself.

I'm nothing now - and that's why I'll never let Jane get close to me, ever again. I'm not letting her near this. You're right, Trent - she does deserve better. She deserves far better than something like me. I'd only ruin all the good that's in her.

I'd only get her dirty.

"It won't end well, Daria. You'll get hurt - far worse than you're hurting now. Quinn, too. Your mom. She's hurting so bad that it's probably messing with her head. Other people will get hurt. You'll hurt Jane. She doesn't know - I won't tell her, but she'll think it through and know. You'll hurt Jane, and that'll hurt you more. You'll lose her, Daria."

Daria opened her mouth, but Trent actually put his finger to her lips. "If I thought it would help, I'd hug you. It won't. Talk to people, Daria. Get some help. Get everything hooked back up the way they should be before it ends. Before it ends badly... worse than the first time. Your dad didn't ask for help. You still can. It doesn't have to be like that for you."

Trent looked at Daria. "Never said this before. Won't say it again. Always stayed out of Jane's business. Never did anything to cause trouble with her… or with you. Had the chance. You gave me more than one. Everybody saw that."

Daria had the good grace to blush; her belated (and unconsummated) crush on Trent had been, up until Jake's breakdown, a source of continuous embarrassment to her and a wellspring of mirth for Jane. She opened her mouth to speak, but Trent waved her silent.

"Can't let her go out like that, Daria. It's not right. You and Jane deserve to be more than a joke for Jay Leno. You owe her. Whichever way it goes, you owe her more than this."

+++++

It was better than she ever imagined it would be.

Helen loved foreplay. She loved to be touched, to feel someone run their fingers over her, to tremble at the roughness or the silkiness or the softness of their hands. She adored the way some people used their tongues; the sensations of wet and dry, of cold and warm, of firm and flexible, of a flickering across her own skin, and how just the thought of it caused her body to react, shuddering in remembrance and anticipation…

And oh, did her body remember… Her nipples rose, quivering and erect, twin morsels that felt stiffer than iron in the slight touch of warmth as Daria whispered her breath over them… She took one of Helen's breasts in hand, enjoying the feel of the soft, pliant flesh as she stroked and touched...

Helen's slim, seal-curve hips began to roll slowly with expectation as Daria positioned herself between Helen's legs, her surprisingly strong, yet slender, shapely legs that seemed to spread as if of their own mind, and Daria never let go of the ample mound that was Helen's right breast. Her eyes shone as she captured the hardness between thumb and forefinger, rolling the large, coffee-hued point between her digits and reveling in the way that Helen's lower body moved beneath her, more than ready for the teasing to end… Daria played with the erect nipple, Helen's breath catching as she reacted to the touch, and then let herself slide into rippling pleasure … Helen lifted a hand to grasp at one of Daria's plump, pale breasts, and the electricity that buzzed low across Helen's spine at her touch now burned a slow, delicious path through her as well …

Daria let her head fall forward, and Helen's sudden, surprised gasp dissolved into moans as soft and buoyant as the breast now in the young beauty's mouth… She let her head fall back, and a shuddering, throaty groan slipped from Helen as she felt Daria sucking harder, now concentrating on the nipple alone, her tongue moving about, her lips capturing and working the dark, fleshy stiffness as if it were a straw, her torso swaying and sending soft flutters through the warm, curving swell in Daria's grasp…

She began to work her lips and tongue in earnest, and then, there was no reason at all for Helen to resist, no reason to stop the bubbling feeling of release that had just begun with the sweet flowing from within her, moistening the healthy growth of chestnut-hued down between her legs and making her waiting, warmed sex ready for pleasuring… don't make me wait… I need it now, I need to have you play inside me, and send me soaring away… I can feel what it's like, almost, just for a few moments. Make me bend, make my body pull back and stretch; break me over and again. Make me bend my legs; use your tongue, make fire flow through me that won't go down, no matter how wet I am. Make me come, baby girl, make my wetness like fire, like magma, like pouring a measure of sun from my cup. Take me and make it all burn down my legs and into the sheets; let me taste my wetness on your lips, your tongue, and free me in the fire. Cut me with an orgasm, send it through all my dark places, let it bite and nip and claw all through me…

The beast within that was her orgasm struggled her against it's bindings; it suddenly halted, letting the force about it rise and build, and Helen fought to keep it back, but it was suddenly unstoppable, like a waterfall, a constant, surging, smashing, spraying cacophony of release that carried Helen off until the insanity of orgasm flows away…

But for those few moments, I'll be free

"Mrs. MORGENDORFFER! Are you, by any CHANCE, NOT feeling quite YOURSELF today?"

Helen's head shot around, and she found herself eye-to-eye with Anthony DeMartino.

"No… no, I'm fine."

"With all due respect, madam, you DON'T look fine! You look like a woman who TRULY needs to just GET AWAY and take some time for herself - and pardon me for OVERSTEPPING my BOUNDS, but as you have no tiny ankle-biting TODDLER MISCREANTS to watch over or keep in school, you certainly seem to have no pressing reasons NOT to just take time off from the VAMPIRE LORDS YOU SERVE and get the HELL AWAY FROM IT ALL!"

No, Tony, you surely don't pull any punches or say anything except what you truly feel, do you? Guess that's what I've always liked about you - the fact that you're not going to douse me in sympathy as soon as you see me walk past…

Helen had gotten VERY tired of people and the way they pussyfooted around her because of Jake.

I'm just tired of all of the traveling pity-parties that people roll out whenever people see me; 'Oh, we just heard about Jake - how are you holding up?' 'You just let us know it there's ANYTHING that we can do for you…' 'You poor dear; how can we help?' 'Don't you let this get you down - we know that you're strong, and you'll make it through this!'

And then… there was Jean-Jacques Gallande. He raised specialty beef cattle, and was the owner of a large ranch in the area. He owned land and raised beef on four continents. Not Australia. He thought the people were savages, but he did like the women… he liked all women… of course, he was VERY wrong about Australian men. They were direct… and very explicit about what they wanted… and they did it VERY well, if Aaron had been any indication at all…

Mrs. Morgendorffer… Helen. I understand that your life was one of pressure and stress, but you must admit - Jacob was of no help to you. He embarrassed you before your peers, supported your goals in no way that anyone could see, and he was… a basket case. We all knew it when we met him - and there's no way that pretend-man could take you to bed and satisfy you - properly. I will take your mind off your troubles. The firm maintains a wonderful little retreat in the area, and I will take you there. We will ski, and then, we will have dinner. I am, as you will see, skilled in the culinary arts. We will dine, drink fine wine, and dance… and then, my sweet, beautiful Helen, I will take you to my bed and make love to you as you deserve - with an intensity like living fire. We will devour the pleasure, savor every touch and embrace, my Helen… and it will be a celebration of life.

Jean-Jacques Gallande was really something else. The Frenchman actually said that to Helen with a straight face, and didn't even take offense when she slugged him over a desk. He got up, rubbed his chin, commented on Helen's left hook and the wondrous way her breasts moved when she decked him, then went off and shared a glass of a particularly fine Bordeaux with the senior partners up in the executive chambers. She actually might have considered going out for dinner with him, had he not been so, so, well, 'sure of himself' - but then again, she remembered some of the losers she'd dated before Jake… and Jake was definitely a 'minus' in the score book. A man approaching her with confidence was, sadly, a rare thing…

GOD! I hate it when people act like you're a china doll after something's happened - and the worse it is, the nicer they get! I want you to treat me like anything BUT a victim… or in the case of some of these guys, an easy mark…

No - at least THIS one isn't a suck-up or a user like the rest… Helen actually had a good deal of respect for Tony DeMartino, the Assistant Principal of LHS, and the straight-shooting way he dealt with problems. She remembered the way that 'Celebrity Deathmatch' announcer had described him when he volunteered for a 'CD'-themed charity 'dueling match' a number of years back: 'a rabid history teacher who is tired of dealing with EVERYBODY.'

Hmmn… I wonder…

"Anthony… I wonder if I could impose on you for a favor…"

Anthony brought his cup of coffee over to the table in the Cedars of Lawndale cafeteria where Helen sat. "If I may-?"

"Of course."

"How can I help you?"

"Well…" For a moment, Helen thought about how to phrase the question she wanted to ask, but then realized that he probably appreciated what she liked about him. Straight talk.

"Anthony - I've known you for just a couple of years, and not really well, but-"

"Helen, you're letting the lawyer part of you out," he told her, almost smiling as he speared a cherry tomato off the salad on his tray. "Just ask your question."

"If you don't mind - tell me about the therapy that you've been through."

"Hmmm," he mused, contemplating the tomato as he dipped it into the Italian dressing and popping it into his mouth. "You're only the third person in almost as many decades to ask that question. You mean the therapy to deal with my time in Southeast Asia, or the stuff that we have to go through for the Lawndale School District?"

"You see a therapist for your job?"

"Why the hell else would I be here? I HATE hospitals!" Anthony snarled. "I spent entirely too much time in them… and the waiting rooms I hate the MOST of all! I'm here to see the therapist only because I actually LIKE being around the UNDERAGED demons the state forces to attend until they're SIXTEEN - as though that's a MAGIC AGE for them to go off into the world and TRY to UNMIX the STIR-FRIED MESS that their lives have BECOME!"

"Tony - I just had an idea," Helen said, realizing that this was the wrong place to talk to him. "It's almost six, and I'm finished with my deposition here - I just came in to get a cup of coffee. Why don't you come with me? We can have a nice dinner, away from here-" She noticed him shudder at the mention of the hospital. "-And we can have a conversation."

A note of sudden truthfulness flowed into her voice. "I just realized that it's been a long time since I've had that - an actual conversation."

"What about your friends? Your sisters?"

"Not Rita - not for a long time - and I could talk to Amy, but I don't want to… not yet," she admitted. "She's too close to everything, and she never liked J- I'm just not ready for her, yet. There's Amanda - no. I mean, she's just not wired right for this…"

"You mean that you'd need to call in the GHOSTBUSTERS and have them use one of their SPIRIT TRAPS to bring her back into OUR REALITY long enough to actually SPEAK!" Anthony barked. "You forget that Miss LANE is one of my students, and I'VE HAD THE PLEASURE of having her mother EXTRICATE HERSELF from the TIMESHARE she has in an alternate dimension with JONATHAN LIVINGSTON SEAGULL long enough to come in for a parent-teacher CONFERENCE! It was, I ASSURE YOU, an EXPERIENCE usually unavailable to anyone not eligible to SCRIBBLE their ABC'S on the cosmic TRIP-BOARD!"

Helen laughed in spite of herself; she remembered the 'trip-boards'… small chalkboards that you weren't allowed to write on unless you had taken a tab of acid. A lot of absolutely crazed stuff, and once in a blue moon, something truly beautiful, had made its way on the trip-boards Helen had seen in her time… "You do know Amanda. So, dinner and some good conversation?"

Anthony nodded. "I am at your disposal, Mrs. Morgendorffer!"

Helen was about to rise from her chair when her cell phone rang. "Hello-?"

"Mom, it's me," Quinn's voice came over the line. "I was about to order something to eat, and I was wondering when you were coming home!"

"Quinn! Oh, I'm about to go out for dinner - you and Daria just go ahead and order whatever you want. I won't be back until at least twelve, and I'll probably just stay at the office tonight. The two of you take care - I'll see you tomorrow!"

Anthony's eyes flickered at the conversation; he hid it away, and followed Helen out of the cafeteria.

+++++

Quinn clicked off her cell phone, and turned from where she was sitting… on Jake's side of their parents' bed. Daria, her hair billowing so that it covered the left side of her face, lifted her head from Helen's pillow, where she had lain while listening to the phone conversation.

"Well, Mom's got a client dinner, and she said that she won't be back until at least twelve-"

"Which means she's probably not coming back tonight."

"Take out the 'probably'. She said that she might stay at the office, and that we should order whatever we want."

"Really…?" Daria said, reaching out to run a finger down the fabric of Quinn's smiley-face baby-T between the swell of her breasts, and smiling as she watched her sister's nipples harden beneath the thin material of the fashion bra she wore. "I order you to slip out of that outfit… it hides the best view of you."

Quinn shuddered as she felt Daria's hand slip beneath her shirt. "Daria, oh yeah… mmmmmmm…" Her eyes misted over as Daria slowly caressed her left breast. "Ohhhh, the way you put your hands on me, it makes me want - ummmm, like that, just a little harder - oh, God, Daria, just feeling you up against me makes me want it right here and now…"

Daria moved behind Quinn and slid her hands underneath the smiley-face t-shirt, beneath the flimsy bra and fondled her breasts; Quinn's mane fell across Daria's shoulder as the redhead let her head fall back, and the two shared a deep, intoxicating kiss that led into another, and another… Quinn somehow managed to find herself lying with her head near the bottom of the bed, Daria's weight atop her like a warm, comforting pressure that sent every inch of her skin fluttering with excitement, and her fingers stroking Quinn's throat and cheeks as she nibbled her left earlobe, then began to work her way downward and around her neck, making her way along a path of gentle, wet kisses. A gasp of surprise mixed with a husky grunt of animal desire as Quinn felt Daria's hand slip inside her panties - wait a moment, where are my jeans - my God, Daria, you're a fast worker, I didn't even notice you slip them off me - oh shit Daria rub me again like that PLEASE - make me shake, I know I'm almost there already -

Her eyes opened - and Quinn pulled away suddenly. "Daria - in Mom and Dad's BED?"

"I don't care," Daria replied bluntly, sitting up as she began to slowly undo the buttons on the simple black blouse she wore. Quinn licked her lips as the pale curves of Daria's breasts came into view; she saw that Daria wore the lacy, fusion-red brassiere that Quinn bought for her. "They're not here, they hadn't been using it for anything but sleeping, and she won't be back until tomorrow."

"I don't know… "

Daria moved closer, and Quinn lifted up her arms so Daria could pull her baby-t away. "Yes, you do."

"Daria… you act like you want someone to catch us," she said, her expression wary as she unfastened Daria's bra and let it fall away. "Don't you care what'll happen if Mom finds out…?"

No answer was forthcoming; Daria slid once again behind her sister to unclasp Quinn's bra, sliding her hands beneath to fondle the redhead's perfect breasts, and sharing a kiss that left them both light-headed. "God… I could live off… kisses like that until… I graduate," purred Quinn, letting Daria pull her close and feeling the warm softness of Daria's breasts pressing against her back. " I could… mmnnnn, Daria, I - ohhhhhhhhh…"

As Quinn's breathlessly tried to contain animal-like sounds of desire from slipping past her lips, Daria's tongue drew a glistening patch across the back of her right shoulder, moistening the skin, then she drew back slightly and blew her breath cold and soft across flawless, tanned flesh. The effect was immediate; a low, slow growling of a moan scraped out of Quinn, and she let her head fall back against Daria's shoulders as her lower body quivered with sudden, rolling spasms of pleasure. "Oh, God, Daria… you just don't know how much that turns me on… oh, do that again…"

A red mass of hair covered Quinn's face as she tossed her head forward, exposing her bare shoulders; Daria slowly, gently ran her fingernails across an exquisite back, just enough to make Quinn's breath flow out in shuddering gasps, and then she ran her tongue across the tiny, barely visible tracings left by her nails. A gentle exhalation from between Daria's lips caressed the perfect skin…

"Ohhhhhhhhhhhhh…"

"I don't care," Daria said, exchanging tiny nips and miniature kisses over Quinn's shoulders and the back of her neck before releasing her. "All I care about is touching you… having you touch me… and holding me... and doing everything that I can see you wanting to do to me…"

Quinn's voice came out as a hoarse rasp as Daria allowed herself to fall back into Helen's pillows. "I want to touch you…"

Daria looked up at Quinn, her eyes flaring seductively as dark flames burned within. "And it doesn't matter where…"

"It doesn't… just as long as I can…"

A delicate hand rose from the bed, and Quinn reached out, her fingertips just touching the soft, milky skin of Daria's hand. She stopped for a moment, raising her head, her gaze like fingers, stroking smooth and slow across Daria's form...

"Let me touch you, Daria. I don't care… I don't care… nothing matters… I need to feel you, so I know that something's still real."

Their fingers came together, stroking, then grasping, gripping tightly, and Daria pulled Quinn down to her… As the need to just be fought its way through their bodies in the form of burning, blinding arousal, Quinn and Daria made love, warm and grasping, hot and needing, violent and freeing, their cries of heat and release and pain all tearing together and spending itself through them time and again, and again… and as the black fire careening through them stoked itself to a crescendo, a blistering rain pelting through them both, a splintering release echoing their hollow joy, their inner horror unleashed, their animal nature set free and sated through mutual climax as their bodies heaved forward and spun as one for flashing moments of blinding, deliciously numbing bliss that dampened the screaming of their breaking, tattered souls, before they fell back into torment again.

And as Daria and Quinn took one another upon the desecrated altar of their parents' failed love, neither could notice that outside the rooms and walls now empty of joy, of hope, of life, that winter winds were picking up, making people pull their coats closer and shudder, as though something was moving, stealthy and prowling through the silent shrouds of falling snow as it searched for the scent of the unwary, the unwarned, the weakened, with the scent of their agony seeping out from wounds never to be seen. Their scent went out on the winds, and one seemed to turn, unseen, unseeing, but surely as if in response…

A cold wind.

A cold wind.

Another storm was coming.

+++++

END OF PART I
____________________________________________________________________