by Gystex


This story contains adult themes and explicit descriptions of sexual activity.  Discretion is advised.

Chapter Six:  Friends and Lovers


"Oh, hi, Sandi!"

"Today? Sandi, you know how busy today is going to be, what with hair care, makeovers, last-minute arrangements. There's no guys to take care of the menial stuff this time. Are you sure it can't wait until tonight?"


"All right, I don't mind an early lunch. Where should we meet?"

"Degas Street??"

"Well, if you say so. I'll see you in an hour."

"I love you too…"

Quinn hung up the phone.

"Ahem," came a voice from behind her.

"Eep!" squeaked Quinn. She turned and saw Daria standing in her doorway. "God, Daria, are you trying to give me a heart attack or something??"

"Just a friendly word of advice," Daria said. "If you're trying to keep this little affair with you and Sandi a secret, close your door when you talk to her on the phone."

"Get lost, Daria!"

"Fine." Daria turned to go. She did, however, cast a parting shot over her shoulder. "Just realize that, sooner or later, no matter how careful you are, odds are Mom and Dad will find out. When they do, you'll probably want it to be because you tell them, not because they overhear you professing your undying love to Sandi over the phone."

Quinn was about to get angry, then realized Daria had a point. She had an annoying way of having points. In any event, Quinn had less than forty minutes to get out of the house, and that was barely enough time for even minimalist hair and makeup – which was, after all, the plan anyway. She was going to professionals today, for Homecoming, and it was best to walk in with a clean canvas.

Uh-oh. Quinn suddenly realized that she would need a ride to Degas Street, and Daria was the only source of wheels handy. "Daria, wait!"


"Thanks for the ride, Daria," Quinn said grudgingly.

"I was heading this way anyhow."

"Wait a minute! How come I had to pay you ten dollars, then?"

"That was for your company."

"Funny. God, what's with all the traffic?"

"Homecoming parade, I guess," Daria said. "Although after last year, I'm surprised they're doing it again. Why aren't you and your little friends involved?"

"You said it yourself. After last year?" Quinn shuddered at the still-fresh memory of all that had gone horribly wrong on that float.

"Mm. Well, maybe Jane will get some good pictures of Homecoming Carnage this time."

It took about five seconds for Quinn to reach an odd conclusion from that statement. "Wait a minute. If you're not meeting Jane at Degas Street, and Tom didn't pick you up from home, why are you going?"

"Umm… that's not your concern."

Quinn smirked. Daria was definitely trying to hide something. "Out with it, Daria. What are you up to?"

Daria grumbled. "I'm… going to Homecoming, and I need a dress."

"You are?" Quinn asked, stunned. "When did this happen?"

"Last night, Tom asked me if I'd be interested in going, seeing as it was my senior year. At first I didn't want to go, but Jane talked me into it. Something about how Tom and I had more or less started our relationship at last year's Homecoming, and this would be like coming full circle. In the end, I couldn't resist the irony."

"Daria… can I just say that you have really weird reasons for doing things?"

"Well, there's also the fact that Mystic Spiral is playing the dance, and Jane's going for moral support, and I need to go to support her. Besides, somehow I doubt my circumstances are the most unusual out of the two of us."

Quinn blushed. "Umm… Daria, you don't think I'm weird or anything, do you?"

Daria looked straight ahead. "Ordinarily I say yes out of sheer force of habit, but I'm afraid you'd take me seriously." She paused for a moment. "The thing is, I've never seen you so genuinely happy, and I've certainly never imagined that Sandi could turn such a one-eighty in her personality. The fact is, the two of you are perfect for each other. It's obvious, you're in love." The last word sounded as though Daria were desperately trying to keep the bitterness out of her voice.

"What are you so upset about?" Quinn asked. "I mean, you have Tom."

"This isn't about me," Daria said through clenched teeth.

Sometimes, Quinn knew when to quit. This was one of those times. "Look, Daria, do you have your dress picked out already, or are you still shopping for it?"

"I'm going basic black, minimal and to the point," Daria said, obviously relieved at the change in topic, even if it was to fashion.

"Daria, there are hundreds of different black dresses! Why don't you let me help you pick one out? I have to meet Sandi for lunch, but I should have about an hour in between that and my hair appointment to help you."

"Forget it, Quinn."

"Daria. Fact: I know more about shopping for clothes that you'd ever want to. If you're going to do this, don't you want to do it right? I mean, you're not the type to do things halfway."

Daria thought for a moment. "All right. Since it couldn't possibly last longer than an hour, I'll accept."

Quinn smiled. "Can I have my ten dollars back, then?"

Daria graciously handed it over.


Sandi waited at a table in the small café at the west end of Degas Street. It was the sort of place that had a few sandwiches and burgers on the menu, which was a laminated sheet of typewritten paper. The tables were molded plastic and the salad bar didn't go much further than lettuce and tomatoes. All in all, it was the last place someone from the fashion club might go, which was exactly why Sandi had picked it. What she had to talk about, she didn't want overheard by anyone who knew her.

She looked up as a familiar red SUV caught the corner of her eye. It pulled up to the curb and dropped Quinn off. Sandi caught a brief glimpse of Daria at the wheel before it moved on.

Quinn saw Sandi through the window right away, and noticed her unusual outfit of dark glasses and a black beret. Sandi was obviously making an effort not to be recognized. Quinn slipped inside, came quietly up to the table and sat down.

"Hi, Sandi," she said quietly but brightly.

"Hello Quinn," Sandi said, smiling. "Sorry to drag you out here like this. If I had looked more carefully at the menu, I'd have picked somewhere else. Do you know, they don't even have low-fat salad dressing?"

"What is the world coming to?" asked Quinn.

Sandi sipped at her diet soda, then looked Quinn in the eye. "Um, Quinn, I know we're both really busy today… but I wanted to make sure about something."

"Yes, Sandi?"

"Are we planning on… coming out tonight?"

Quinn sat back for a moment. The question hadn't been completely unexpected, but Quinn didn't have an answer for it either.

Sandi misinterpreted Quinn's silence. "Don't worry, Quinn, I'm not going to get all upset if you say you don't want to. That was really selfish of me before."

"Oh Sandi, don't worry about it. It's in the past, and I think we're better for having gotten it out of the way." She gave Sandi's hand a brief squeeze.

Sandi smiled again. "It's just that… I was imagining how great it could be if this were like a real Homecoming date, where we toast our love at dinner, dance the night away, get our picture taken together… and make it a night to remember."

Quinn sighed. "Sandi, you know that even if we did go public with this, it wouldn't be that easy."

"I know… I just thought, even one kiss on the dance floor might be worth it."

"What do you want to do?" Quinn asked.

Sandi looked into her lap. "I don't know," she said. "I don't have the courage to decide this for myself." She chuckled, and looked back up at Quinn. "Two weeks ago, I could never have admitted something like that to you."

"A lot has changed, Sandi. And the really great thing is, I got what I originally wanted. I have you as the best, closest friend I ever could have imagined."

"I love you, Quinn," Sandi whispered.

"And I love you," Quinn whispered back. "But I don't know if we've reached the point where we can do more than whisper that to each other."

Sandi looked thoughtfully out the window for a moment, then back at Quinn. "Quinn, don't take this the wrong way, but you're smarter than I am."

Quinn smiled. There were still a few things Sandi needed to learn about her if she thought that wasn't a compliment.

Sandi continued, "Whatever you decide, that's what we'll do. If you want to keep it a secret, then we will. If you want to tell everyone, we'll do that."

Quinn sat up and leaned slightly over the table toward Sandi. "Kiss me, Sandi."

"What?" Sandi said, looking frantically around.

"Ignore them," Quinn said. "They're strangers. They don't even know us. If we're even going to consider this, I think we need to try it here first. Kiss me."

Sandi swallowed hard, and nodded. She leaned across the table toward Quinn, and softly kissed her lips. They held the kiss for about two seconds, then let go. Sandi was actually shivering, and Quinn looked flushed.

"Well?" Quinn asked, when she could get past the lump in her throat.

Sandi glanced around as discretely as she could. No one seemed to be so much as looking at them. The waiter approaching their table must have seen, but nothing in his demeanor suggested that he was in any way put out. "I'd say we got away with it," Sandi said, her breath coming out in a rush.

"We've taken an important step, I think," Quinn said. "Now, we have an even harder decision to make."

"What's that?" Sandi asked.

"What are we going to find on this menu that's fit for eating?"


There had been an additional observer of Quinn and Sandi's first public kiss that they had not been aware of. Daria had been surprised to see it, but no more so than she was to have found herself watching her sister and Sandi in the first place. She hadn't known what she was looking for, but the kiss definitely put an end to her surveillance. Daria suddenly felt acutely like an intruder.

Sighing to herself, she wandered a little further down the street to where she could get a falafel and a newspaper, to keep her occupied until Quinn finished lunch with her girlfriend.


Daria was waiting for Quinn as she emerged from the café. She and Sandi were laughing together as they did, and hugged tightly before going their separate ways. Daria got the idea that some very intimate words must have been whispered to each other in that moment of closeness.

She sighed. All her life, she had fought the urge to be envious of her sister. There was plenty that one would think she might be jealous about. Quinn was slimmer, more obviously attractive, had a more outgoing personality, a more active social life. Daria had countered that by deliberately ignoring those traits in herself, which to be honest matched her inborn preferences just fine for the most part. But now Quinn was coming into her own. She was actually interested in learning now – and Daria didn't begrudge her that, she knew that Quinn still had a long way to go if she ever wanted to match Daria intellectually. As far as the social life was concerned, Daria had always valued her one or two true friends far more than Quinn's army of acquaintances. Finally, there was Tom. Daria had never expected that she would be the first out of the two of them to find a serious, deep relationship.

Except now Quinn had that. And it seemed far more intimate, far more compatible, and far more passionate than Daria and Tom could ever hope for. And now, Daria was jealous. She was jealous of the one person she swore she'd never, ever let herself feel that way about.

"Hey, Daria!" Quinn called from across the street. "You ready?"

Daria smiled slightly. For Quinn to acknowledge her so publicly was another thing she never would have thought possible. She felt a sudden, unexpected impulse to try to genuinely bond with Quinn this afternoon. For just a moment, Daria actually considered talking to Quinn about how she felt.

It was a fleeting moment, though. Daria's natural defensive walls quickly re-asserted themselves, and she crushed her feelings down, hiding behind her stoic mask. "Let's get this over with," she said, and crossed the street to meet Quinn.


"How about this one?"

"Daria, if you're not going to take this seriously, we may as well go home."

Daria frowned and returned the dress to the rack. She had seen nothing wrong with it. "Quinn, you know I don't care about trendy, I just want something that works well enough to wear for the evening."

"No-no-no, you're thinking about this all wrong. Some girls, like me or Sandi or Tiffany or Stacy can wear trendy, fashionable stuff and look great in it. You need something more… um…"

"Dull? Concealing? Morbid?"

"Classic. You need a timeless outfit, one that you could just as easily have worn ten years ago or ten years from now. Kind of like the red pump or the diamond earring, something that never goes out of style."

"Uh-huh. And what leads you to this conclusion?"

"Two things. One, you would look lousy in current trends. And two, you'll probably not be doing this again for a very, very long time. We'd better make this outfit last."

Daria had to admit Quinn had a point. "So, what do I do?" she asked, conceding authority.

"All right," Quinn said, actually rubbing her hands. "Let's get started."


Half an hour later, Daria staggered into the dressing room with about twenty different black dresses. Quinn had assured her that they would probably only need to have her try the first five, but it was best to be on the safe side. Daria had tried to point out that the rules only allowed her to take six outfits into the dressing room, but Quinn had flashed her Fashion Club ID at the attendant and that had taken care of it.

Daria found herself in a dressing room considerably larger than she had expected (Fashion Club privileges, no doubt). It had a large three-way mirror on one wall and full-length floor-to-ceiling mirrors on two other walls, a padded bench, and several cedar hangars for her own clothes. Being the cautious sort, Daria checked to make certain the mirrors were up against proper walls instead of video cameras, then shuffled her clothes off.

She caught a glimpse of herself in the three-way mirror, and couldn't help but check herself out a bit. She had grown up a little since her cousin's wedding and the whole bridesmaid nightmare. Her hips were a bit more defined, partly because her waist seemed to have trimmed down a bit. That probably had more to do with the fact that she had less money for pizza lately than anything else. Her breasts seemed larger and fuller than her inner image of herself seemed to agree with. Sure, she was no Brittany (thank God) but her figure did show a definite curve.

Her legs seemed surprisingly toned. Daria never took her boots off except to shower or sleep, and since she didn't have a full-length mirror at home, she never got a good look at her own legs. With her jacket and skirt off, they seemed longer and slimmer. Daria figured that just walking around in those heavy boots probably gave her legs a bit of a workout.

She smiled. Like it or not, she was more attractive than she had realized. She wondered for a moment what Quinn would think, considering how her preferences lay.

Ew, she thought. That's just wrong.

Shaking herself out of her self-examination, Daria reached for the first dress on the pile and started to pull it on.


"That one," Quinn said. "That's the one."

"You've got to be kidding me," Daria replied. "Come on, it's too short."

"Daria, that skirt you always wear is shorter than this dress. You're just not used to seeing your legs without those combat boots. We're definitely going to have to get you some shoes, you know."

"One thing at a time. I can't wear this. Look, it's sheer across the belly. My navel is showing."

"If you got it, flaunt it!" Quinn said.

"I don't got it, Quinn."

"Daria, you do got it. Come on, you're my sister, which means you have an inherent attractiveness."

"Thanks, Quinn, but I just don't think it works. It's too tight, it's got this weird neckline, and… it just isn't right!"

Quinn sighed. "Come with me, Daria." She dragged her sister into the dressing room.

"Now," Quinn said once they got inside. "We're alone. Take the dress off." She started to remove her shirt.

Daria's eyes went wide. "Um, Quinn, I'm fully accepting your new lifestyle and all, but I'm your sister."


Daria winced. "Well, at least we're on the same page there."

Quinn shuddered, then recovered herself. "Okay. We're just going to ignore that whole horrible concept and move on. Here, put this on." She tossed her pink baby tee over to Daria.

"Quinn, what exactly are you trying to prove here?"

"Just do it! I'm risking being late for my hair appointment, you know!"

Daria shrugged, and squeezed into the t-shirt.

"Now, take these jeans, and put those on too."

"Where did you get these?"

"I figured you might need some convincing, so I grabbed them while you were changing. They're your size, just put them on."

Daria did so.

"Okay. Now, take a look in the mirror. What do you see?"

Daria looked. "I see the dreadful possibilities that might have been had my genetic code been just a little different."

"No, Daria. I mean, does the outfit work on you, or not?"

"Not a chance in Hell."

"Why not? I mean, it did before, remember?"

"What?" Daria said, startled.

"You know," Quinn said. "Back when I was going through my ‘deep' phase, you dressed like me to shock me out of it. The thing is, you really did look great. Why don't you now?"

"Look, I was deliberately trying to be you at the time. I did the whole makeup and hair thing, I did the pose, I walked the walk."

"Precisely," Quinn smiled. "Daria, you can't treat a formal dress like a T-shirt and combat boots. You need hair, makeup, accessories, but more important, you need the right attitude. These dresses are designed for attractive people, which you are one, even if you don't know it. But if you don't feel beautiful, it'll just never work."

Daria looked at herself in the mirror again. She shrugged. "Okay. I'll try it."

"Atta girl!" Quinn caught her shirt as Daria tossed it to her.

"Hey, Quinn?" Daria asked as they finished dressing.


"I can't believe I'm going to ask this, but… do you think that hair salon of yours could squeeze me in?"

Quinn positively grinned. "Sister, we're going to make you a star."


Tiffany loved flowers.

They were beautiful, delicate, slim, and wonderfully aromatic, everything she herself wanted to be. When she wasn't clothes shopping with the rest of the club, she could often spend long, happy hours in her aunt's floral greenhouse, just walking amongst the flowers, or sometimes helping to arrange them for customers. She had a talent for that. It was a lot like putting together the perfect outfit, really.

Sandi had suggested that she take care of flowers for the club since there were no guys to do it, but in truth, Tiffany far preferred it that way anyway. Guys just didn't know anything about flowers, how they should look in a bouquet or a corsage, what kind should go with what outfit, or really anything at all. It took a woman's touch, really.

She had decided that the best thing to do was to go with white roses all around, so that the club as a whole would have that symbol of unity for the evening. She selected four perfect white roses, each with its own character that would set off their outfits. Sandi's had a hint of green, Quinn's a touch of blue, her own a streak of violet, and for Stacy, she chose pure white with no blemish whatsoever. That seemed fitting for Stacy, beyond the fact that it coordinated well with her black dress. Stacy had always seemed to have a certain pure and innocent quality about her, and her flower reflected that.

Tiffany held the flower under her nose and enjoyed its scent while she thought about the night before, when she and Stacy had come so close to sharing a kiss. Tiffany hadn't given much thought to kissing another girl before the whole thing with Sandi and Quinn, but she couldn't get it out of her mind now. It was what Stacy had told her after the meeting, that it was like a kiss from a flower. That was something Tiffany yearned to experience. Tiffany smiled, and gently kissed the rose she would give to Stacy before settling down to arranging it into her corsage.


Sandi arrived back home in the nick of time. The phone was ringing even as she unlocked the door and launched herself across the room for it. "Hello?" she said, trying not to sound out of breath.

"Oh, hello, Sandi. This is Linda."

Sandi frowned. "Yes, mother?"

"I just wanted to let you know that I'll be home very late tomorrow night, and I expect that you won't be throwing any wild parties while I'm gone."

"Mother, it's Homecoming night, I won't even be here!" It was just like her mother to forget something important like that.

"Oh, so you found a date?"

Sandi rolled her eyes. "No, Mother, I told you that I'm going with the club. We're not taking boys."

"I'll bet Quinn will have a date there, just to show you up. It would be so like her, the little tramp."

Sandi felt the blood rush to her face. "Mother, I'm going to say this once. Don't you ever talk about Quinn that way again!" She slammed the phone down hard and ignored it when it started ringing again.

Sandi stomped up the stairs to her room. Once there, she took her shoe off and hurled it at her mother's picture on the dresser, breaking the glass and knocking it to the floor. Seething with anger, she threw herself on her bed and pounded the pillow a couple of times, until the rage subsided enough for her to realize how silly she must look. There wasn't even anyone watching, but even when alone, Sandi found it hard to loosen up.

Except when she was alone with Quinn.

She sighed as she thought about what she had just done. It wasn't long ago that she might have agreed with her mother's statement, out of sheer frustration. Ever since she and Quinn had begun their new relationship, Sandi hadn't even seen her mother for more than two minutes at a time, maybe ten minutes total. Naturally, Linda would have no idea how much things had changed.

Sandi sighed, rolled over to the phone, and dialed her mother's cell number. It was busy. Sandi waited for the voicemail prompt and left a message.

"Hello mother, it's me. I'm… sorry I got angry and hung up on you like that. Quinn and I have, er, reached a new understanding, and we've become really close friends over the past two weeks. It just made me angry to hear someone say that about her. We can talk when you get home. I… I love you, Mom."

Sandi hung up the phone, fully aware that she had just said something that her mother hadn't heard from her in years. She also knew that somehow, some way, she would have to tell her mother the whole truth. Not now, of course, but she wanted to do it as soon as Quinn felt ready.

Sandi smiled. In a sense, Helen and Linda might be in-laws some day. That was probably about the most frightening picture either one of them might dream up. Truth be told, Sandi looked up to Helen in a way she didn't do for her own mother. Both were career women, both were climbing the corporate ladder and chipping away at the glass ceiling. But Helen was doing it by working her butt off and learning the ropes, while Linda did it by properly applied office politics and manipulation of people. It was easy to see who was the one to admire, just as it was all too easy to see their reflections in Quinn and Sandi. That wiped the smile off Sandi's face.

With an effort, she forced herself out of bed and banished that line of thought from her mind. It was something she would need to consider later, but today she had no time for this kind of introspection. She had taken care of her obligations to the other girls for the evening, and now it was time to get herself ready for the dance.


Stacy was on cloud nine.

She had just stepped out of her hair appointment, and had cleverly made sure that her dress and accessories would be waiting for her to change into right away. When she came out of the salon, she was ready for a night on the town. Even that wasn't the best part, though.

The best part was (and here Stacy permitted herself a rare pat on the back) that she had arranged for the limousine to pick her up right in front of the salon. She felt the eyes on her as she strolled across the sidewalk to the open door of the long, white, full-stretch limo, her door graciously held open by the chauffer, who was a really cute guy to boot. Trying to looks as though this were the sort of thing she did every day, she slipped gracefully through the door and reclined on the large, luxurious back seat. She felt like absolute royalty.

The car started so smoothly that Stacy could hardly tell they were moving. She pressed the call button and gave the chauffer directions to Tiffany's house, even though he already had them. It just seemed like the thing to do, to tell him where to drive her.

Stacy felt like a child in a candy store. She opened all the little compartments, fiddled with the buttons, channel-surfed on the TV just for fun, and finally uncovered a chilled champagne bottle. What the hell, she thought, and popped the cork. She tossed down a full glass with a toast to life. This was luxury, this was paradise, and although she dearly loved her friends, she was glad for this brief time when it was hers alone.

Feeling the slight buzz of champagne tickle her head, she sat back into the soft upholstery with a long, deep sigh of contentment.


"Tiffany! You look so great!"

"Thanks, Stacy… you look great too…" Tiffany slid into the car and gave Stacy a brief hug – not enough to mess up her outfit or anything, of course. "This is a really nice car, Stacy…"

"-Hic!- Thanks, Tiffany. Here, have some champagne or whatever."

Tiffany looked oddly at Stacy. "Stacy, are you, um…"

"Drunk? Nah." Stacy held up two fingers. "I only had one." She checked her fingers. "I mean, three. No, that can't be right either… ooh, I'm just no good at math!"

Tiffany shrugged. "Oh well… Here's your flower, Stacy."

"Oh, Tiffany, it's so beautiful… thank you…" Stacy leaned over and kissed Tiffany on the cheek. Then she stayed there, cuddled onto Tiffany's shoulder. "I love you, Tiffany, I really do. You're so… smooshy."

"Um… Okay." Tiffany decided that the best course of action would be to just wait until they got to Quinn's house before saying anything else. She took a sip of the champagne Stacy had given her, and perked an eyebrow with interest.


"All right, Daria. Take a look."

Daria summoned her courage and turned to look in Quinn's mirror. She blinked, and looked again. "Holy good gravy."

Quinn sighed happily. "My big sister's all grown up."

"I look like… like… what the hell do I look like?"

"You look like you, Daria. The you that nobody's ever seen before. And maybe they'll never see her again, but for tonight, you are hot."

The doorbell rang.

"That's Tom, I guess." Daria turned to leave.

"Wait, Daria!" Quinn shouted. "You're not just going to go down and meet him, are you? I mean, you have to make him wait!"

"Quinn, if he waits, he'll have to talk to Dad."

Quinn thought about that. "We can bend the rules just this once. Go get him, gorgeous."

Daria paused at the doorway. "Quinn… um, thanks."

Quinn smiled. "I love you, sis."

Daria's face attained an expression that Quinn had never seen before in her entire life. Her eyes misted, and not just because of the contacts. Her cheeks flushed with a faint red glow. Her lower lip actually quivered.

Then Daria seemed to regain control. "God, don't make me sick or something," she muttered, and left.

Quinn wasn't fooled. She choked back her own tears, unwilling to spoil her mascara, and went back to her mirror to apply a few finishing touches.


Tom had never felt so nervous about a date in his life. He tugged at the bow tie around his neck that had suddenly become way too tight.

It wasn't that he was worried that he might say or do the wrong thing, or that he wouldn't be well-received by Daria's friends – who did exist beyond Jane, despite Daria's assurances to the contrary. It was more because Daria and Homecoming seemed like something along the lines of Nitro and Glycerin. There was absolutely no telling what might happen.

That, of course, was what made it so exciting.

He buzzed the bell again, and Jake answered the door.

Tom sighed inwardly, and put on his best responsible-young-man face. "Hello, Mr. Morgendorffer. I'm here for Daria."

"Tom, my man, come in!" Jake enthusiastically pumped Tom's hand and led him into the house. "Daaaria, your date is here!"

Tom glanced up at the top of the stairs – and felt his heart jump into his throat. There was an absolute vision of loveliness up there. Her hair caught his attention first; it was twisted into a simple and utterly becoming style that wound down onto one shoulder, copying the line of the dress which hugged her body tightly to show off a figure that even Tom had only guessed at. Her lips were ruby red, her eyes touched up gently to show their natural upsweep at either side. Her legs seemed to go on forever. And to top it off, she actually smiled just a little.

"Oh, hi!" Jake said. "You must be one of Quinn's friends. Can you tell her sister Daria that her date is here?"

"It's me, Dad."

Jake's jaw hit the floor.

Tom recovered as quickly as he could. He stepped up to offer Daria his hand. "You look really nice tonight, Daria," he said. That was kind of like saying that the Sahara in August was a trifle warm, but Tom knew that Daria would only be put off by flowery compliments, even if they were all true.

"Thanks, Tom," she said, holding the smile. "Nice tux."

"Yeah, well, all my cargo pants are in the wash. Here, this is for you." He pinned a red rose to her shoulder strap.

"D-D-Daria?" Jake stammered.

"Yeah, Dad, it's me. But I turn back into a pumpkin at midnight, so we have to get going. Later." She dragged Tom out the door.

"What's the hurry?" Tom asked once they were outside.

"I didn't want to give him the chance to go for a camera," Daria said. "Um, Tom… do you think I'm overdoing it?"

"Well, you're definitely going to shake people up. Seriously though, what's wrong with doing something a little out of character every once in a while?"

"Tell that to my sister."

"Huh? What's she been up to lately?"

Daria smiled. "I'll tell you in the car. You'll never believe it."

They got into the car – Tom's mother's Jaguar, Daria noticed – and left for the restaurant. As they pulled out, a long white limousine pulled in. The chauffer got out, walked briskly up to the front door, and knocked.

Jake answered. "That was Daria," he said, still trying to recover.

"Excuse me, sir?"

"Oh! I mean, what can I do for you?"

"I'm here for Quinn Morgendorffer. I'm driving her and her friends tonight."

Jake saw the limousine parked out in front of his house. "Wow! And to think I had to take a bus to my Homecoming dance! My father wouldn't let me use the car, lousy untrusting bastard!"

"Indeed, sir," the chauffer said, smiling benignly.

"Hi Dad! Bye Dad!" Quinn kissed her father on the cheek and left as quickly as possible.

"Oh! Uh, bye Quinn, have a good time!" Jake went inside, looked around to see if anyone was watching, and turned on mud wrestling.

Quinn let the driver open the door, and stepped into the car. "Hi guys! she said.

"Quinnie!!" squealed Stacy. She tried to stand up and go hug Quinn, but bumped her head on the low ceiling and then fell onto the floorboards when the limo pulled away from the curb. Tiffany obviously thought this was the funniest thing she'd ever seen, and cracked up laughing.

"Um… guys, are you all right?" Quinn asked.

Stacy was likewise hysterical. Neither of them could answer.

Quinn glanced around and noticed the empty champagne bottle. "Did you guys just finish that bottle by yourselves?" she asked, astonished.

"Shtacy drank most of it…" slurred Tiffany, her voice not quite as rapid and clear as usual.

"Oh, come off it, you sponge, you drank two glasses and then chugged most of the rest of it right before we got here."

"That was you, Stacy," Tiffany said.

"I mean there, where we were." Stacy hadn't heard Tiffany. "At Quinn's house. You know, where her cousin lives. What was I saying?"

Quinn smiled and shook her head. "Stacy, you're hammered."

"And loving it!!" Stacy yelled, tossing back her head and cackling. "I've spent my whole life timid, and now I feel like I can do or say anything in the world, and it's great to be alive!!"

"Okay, Stacy, just try not to do anything you'll regret…" Quinn was happy for Stacy in a way, but also a bit worried. At least she had possessed the good sense to do this among friends instead of on a date with a guy. Besides, once she got some food in her, it would kill the buzz a bit.

Stacy decided to try and get back up into her seat, and slipped off again as the car pulled to a stop in front of Sandi's house. Judging by Tiffany's reaction, it was even funnier the second time than the first.

"Where are we? Is this Sandi's house?" Stacy pulled herself up to the window and looked eagerly out. "Yes! Marcel's going to get her! Hey Tiffany, do we have another bottle anywhere? Sandi and Quinn haven't had any bubbly yet!"

Quinn smirked. The bubbly had featured rather prominently into a recent, fairly important turning point in her life. "Oh, don't worry about it Stacy, I'm perfectly fine."

"Here she comes…" said Tiffany, pointing slightly to the left and down from where Sandi actually was. "Wow, she looks so pretty…"

"Careful Tiffany, Quinn might get jealous!"

Before Quinn could think of anything to say to that, the door opened and Sandi got in. "Hey, ladies. Ready for a night to remember?"

"Wow! That'll be great!!" enthused Stacy.

"Assuming she remembers any of it," Quinn muttered.

Sandi looked critically at Stacy. "Stacy? Are you drunk?"

"Yup!" she said happily.

"Tiffany's a little tipsy too," Quinn added.

Sandi looked for a moment like she might get angry, then shrugged her shoulder. "Oh, what the hell. We're doing this to have fun, Stacy and Tiffany just started the party a little early."

"Oh… I almost forgot… here's your flowers." Tiffany held out a pair of clear plastic boxes with unsteady hands, which Quinn and Sandi managed to grab after the second try. "Quinn, you get the blue one, and Sandi gets the green one… you know, so it matches…"

Quinn noticed she had the green one, and started to switch boxes.

Stacy stopped her. "No, silly, you're supposed to pin them on each other! I mean, are you dating tonight or not?"

Sandi and Quinn shrugged, and put the flowers on each other's shoulder straps. It was actually kind of romantic, in a way.

Tiffany looked back and forth at Sandi and Quinn for a while.

"What?" Sandi asked finally.

"Aren't you guys going to kiss, or something?" Tiffany asked.

Quinn and Sandi looked at each other. This was going to be a long night.


As the limousine pulled up in front of the restaurant, Sandi got everyone's attention. It was a little difficult pulling Stacy away from the window, where she was waving at everyone they passed, but finally they managed.

"All right then," Sandi said. "Quinn's made reservations for us, and we're ten minutes early. Stacy, Tiffany, I don't mind that you're a little, er…"

"Plastered?" offered Stacy.

"Exactly. The thing is, we really don't want to get kicked out for that, it'll put a total bummer on the evening."

"We'll be good," Tiffany promised.

"Just try to concentrate on balance," Quinn said. "We'll get you to our table and everything, and once you've got some appetizers in you, most of the buzz should go away."

Stacy pouted. "I don't want it to go away! I feel so happy, I could just burst!"

"Stacy… ew…" Tiffany said.

"Stacy, I promise we'll have refreshments after the dance," Sandi reassured her. "Just for now, try not to embarrass anyone, especially yourself. Hair check!" Sandi whipped out a compact mirror, and the other girls followed suit. Stacy whipped hers right through the moonroof.

"Oops," she giggled.

"Never mind, Stacy, I'll check your hair," offered Quinn.

"Oh, thank you Quinn," Stacy said. "You're so nice all the time, no wonder Sandi likes you so much."

Quinn raised an eyebrow. "Um, sure, Stacy."

Sandi frowned a bit, but said nothing.


Stacy managed to get all the way to the table with a minimum of fuss. Once there, she sat down a little hard and would have fallen if Tiffany hadn't grabbed onto her arm and pulled her upright.

"Careful, Stacy…" she advised.

"I'm fine, don't worry about it. Hey, make sure Sandi and Quinn are next to each other so they can play footsie under the table!" The last part was whispered, but a bit loudly.

"Shut up, Stacy!" Sandi hissed. She was really starting to get peeved.

"Don't have a cow, Sandi," Stacy said. "I mean, no one heard or anything."

"Stacy…" Sandi began, her face getting red.

"Oh, was I talking out of turn again?" Stacy asked innocently. "God forbid poor Stacy should ever do that. I mean, the club bylaws specifically forbid Stacy from ever speaking her mind." She deliberately hid behind a menu.

"Um, Stacy, what's wrong?" Tiffany asked.

"Can't talk," Stacy replied. "Sandi didn't give permission."

There was a very uncomfortable silence around the table. Sandi looked as angry as she'd ever been, Quinn seemed more distressed than anything else, Tiffany was just confused, and Stacy refused to show her face to the rest of the table at all.


"Bon stasera, signorinas. Welcome to Copazano's. May I take your drink orders?"

"Ask Sandi," Stacy muttered just barely loud enough to hear.

"I'll have a diet cola with a twist of lemon," Quinn said quickly.

""I'd like… the same," Tiffany said.

"Me as well," Sandi said, glaring across the table at Stacy.

Stacy didn't say anything.

"And for you, signorina?" the waiter asked Stacy after a bit.

"Guess I'd better have the same thing as well," Stacy said. "Fashion Club solidarity, and all."

"Of course," said the waiter, not missing a beat. "One moment, and I'll be back with your drinks and bread."

"No butter," Stacy insisted. "We wouldn't want to get fat."

The waiter nodded curtly and was away.

"Stacy, would you care to explain yourself?" Sandi asked tightly. "Your behavior is simply atrocious."

"What's the matter, Sandi?" Stacy asked, putting her menu down and looking Sandi in the eye. "Don't like who I am with a few inhibitions lowered? You probably prefer the little groveling Stacy who does whatever you say and hangs on your every word, desperate to please. Well, not to worry, I'm sure she'll be back as soon as the champagne wears off. Then you can go on being you, and I'll just sit there and take it like a good little doormat." She raised her menu again.

Sandi stood up, her face an emotionless mask. "Excuse me," she said, and walked quickly away.

Quinn got up to follow.

"Don't do anything I wouldn't do," Stacy suggested.

Quinn ripped Stacy's menu out of her hands and looked her in the eyes. "Bitch," she whispered, and hurried after Sandi.

Stacy was absolutely shocked. "T-Tiffany? Did Quinn just say what I thought she said?"

Tiffany started to say something, then looked intently into her water glass. "These, um, ice cubes are so… sparkly," she observed.

Stacy hung her head, and tried desperately not to cry. She almost succeeded.


Quinn caught up to Sandi on the veranda that overlooked the city. "Sandi?" she asked.

"Go away," Sandi said.

Quinn ignored her and stood next to her at the railing. "Sandi, you know that was the liquor talking, not Stacy."

"She hates me," Sandi said softly. "She really does. And the worst part is, in a couple of hours she's probably going to break down and tearfully beg my forgiveness, but I'll know deep down that she meant every word she just said."

Quinn laid a hand on her shoulder. "Sandi, I said something fairly similar to you a couple of weeks ago, and we got over it pretty well," she said. "We wouldn't be where we are now if we hadn't aired those bad feelings."

"It's different with Stacy," Sandi insisted. "You said all that because you wanted to be closer friends. Stacy doesn't want to be closer, she hates me. She probably always has. She just couldn't say it to my face until now." Sandi's tears dropped over the railing. "Have I really been so awful to all of you, Quinn? Have I been such a horrible person?"

"Don't take all this on yourself, Sandi," Quinn said. "You have a… forceful personality. Stacy is more passive, it's in her nature. The thing is, the two of you assumed your natural roles, but over time it got to the point where Stacy didn't feel like she had anything of her own to say anymore. And tonight, she got drunk, and all the negative feelings she's had bottled up just came out."

"And what about Tiffany?" Sandi asked. "How much does she despise me without letting on? For that matter, what are you hiding?"

Quinn sighed. "I can't speak for anyone else. But I'll tell you this. In the time that I've known you, I've seen you get more and more protective of yourself and your power in the club. You've been a big fish in a little pond, and you've tried to control as much as you can. Tiffany doesn't seem to mind, so there's no conflict. I step out of line from time to time, but you let it slide, partly because if the two of us ever went head to head, you might lose, and that scares you. But if Stacy ever says anything against your opinion, you know you can enforce your will. You might not have even noticed you were doing it. But every time you do, her resentment builds just a little bit more, and she has no release. Until tonight.

"And yes, I'll be honest with you, I thought for a while that you were a controlling and selfish bitch," Quinn continued. Sandi gave her a hurt look. "Come on, Sandi, you knew it was true. You probably even took some pride in it. And it'll probably do you some good someday, I mean, when you need to break through the glass ceiling, you'll have a sledgehammer to do it with. But here's what else I know about you. You're strong and passionate. You might feel the need to put people in their place every once in a while, but you'd never really hurt someone, not deliberately. Deep down, you want what's best for all of us. And I love you with all my heart, Sandi."

Sandi turned to Quinn, and, oblivious to who might be around and might see them, embraced and kissed her. Quinn returned the kiss with no sense of shame, no self-consciousness. If anyone had been looking in their direction, they never noticed.


Stacy felt like dirt. It wasn't the first time, but this time seemed like a record low. She just wanted to crawl under the table and die.

Tiffany had eventually excused herself and gone, presumably, to the ladies room. Quinn had gone after Sandi. Stacy sat there and felt alone and miserable, watching the ice melt in the other girl's drinks. She wondered if they would come back for her. She wondered if maybe she should just call a cab and go home. Her head was still swimming slightly, but it hurt now. Her throat had a lump in it that just wouldn't go away. She wanted to go off somewhere and cry for hours, but she couldn't leave the table. She didn't want her friends to come back and wonder what had happened to her.

"Hey Stacy."

Stacy looked up. Tiffany was back.

"Hi," she mumbled.

"Um… Quinn wanted me to tell you that her and Sandi are going to eat dinner out on the patio. Then they're going to take a cab to the dance, or something."

"You might as well take the limousine," Stacy said. "I'm going home."

"Quinn said you might say that. She said that if you tried, she would get the waiters to throw a burlap sack over you and drag you to the dance for your own good."

In spite of herself, Stacy smiled. "So… they're not mad at me?" she asked hopefully.

"I wouldn't go that far," Tiffany said.

Stacy's face fell.

"But, we all need to talk this out, not just let it sit there."

Stacy nodded without looking up.

Tiffany sighed. "I never know what to say at times like this."

Stacy reached out to her. "Just… don't leave me alone, please."

Tiffany took Stacy's hand, and the two of them just sat there together.


"Hey, we're Mystic Spiral. Welcome to the Lawndale High School Junior Prom!"

Trent ripped out a chord that shook the gym, completely drowning out anyone who might have tried to tell him that it was Homecoming.

Jane stood and watched with an amused look on her face. The Spiral probably had their talents, though she had yet to see any of them. Whatever they were, playing dance music for them modern teenage crowd was not one of them. The students milled around, uncertain of what to do with themselves while Trent and company launched into "Paingasm". Jane figured that the Spiral probably had about ten minutes tops before Ms. Li booted them off the stage and replaced them with a boombox. Unfortunately, that was more than enough time for them to get almost all the way through "Ice Box Woman".

Out of the corner of her eye, Jane caught sight of Quinn and Sandi entering the gym. She smirked a bit – this was part of the reason she was here. If they were going to pick a night to come out in front of everyone, this was probably it, and Jane wouldn't miss a scene like that for the world. Idly, she wondered where the rest of the club was – Daria had said they would all be arriving together.

Speaking of whom, where the hell was Daria, anyway? She had promised to be here. It was getting harder and harder to get her to participate since she'd gotten over Trent. Jane scanned the crowd. There was Kevin, still in his football uniform, sitting by himself in one corner with a look of rejection and despair on his face. Translation: the Lions had lost, Kevin wouldn't shut up about it, and Brittany had stormed off in a huff. The rest of the team was pretty much following his example, except for Mack, who had been elected Homecoming King for the fourth year running. He and Jodie, who naturally was Queen, were sticking close together as usual.

Quinn's former fan club was bothering the new exchange student, who obviously hated them. Jane knew just enough French to know that what words she had directed at them during the course of the evening were not flirtatious ones. There was the usual gang of wallflowers, most of whom Jane recognized from previous self-esteem classes. Upchuck and his frilly, gaudy tuxedo were hanging out by the punchbowl, picking up the ladies. Jane gave it about five minutes before he got the bowl turned over his head. At least this year he'd been smart enough to choose a tuxedo that was the same color as the punch.

Jane did a double take as her eye caught a familiar face. No doubt about it, that was Tom waiting by the restrooms. Daria had to be in there. Jane started to make her way across the crowded floor, where some students were trying their best to dance to completely undanceable music.

Halfway across the floor, Jane caught sight of someone else. Stacy and Tiffany had just arrived. Jane had found it impossible lately to ignore the Fashion Club the way she used to, particularly Stacy. It only made sense. All the same, she would have simply moved on until she noticed the look on Stacy's face. She looked worried and nervous, which was nothing unusual, but Jane was getting a bad vibe from her. It was almost as though she were ready to break down any second. Jane hesitated a moment, then changed course and made her way over toward Stacy.


"Do you see them? Stacy asked.

Tiffany looked around the crowd. "No, I don't think so… but they should be here by now…"

"Oh God, what have I done?" Stacy asked, not for the first time that night. "I can't face them now, I just can't!"

Tiffany shrugged. "Maybe we should leave, then…"

"But then I'd have to see them tomorrow! And the next day!!"

Tiffany did what she always did when she was at a complete loss for words or actions. She stood still and said nothing.

"Hey, ladies," said a familiar voice.

Stacy looked around. Jane was standing right next to her. "Eep!" she said.

"And eep to you as well," Jane replied. "Hello, Tiffany."

"Hi Daria," Tiffany replied.

"No, I'm the other one."

"Oh. Hi Jane."

"At least you remembered. Hey Stacy, can we talk?"

Stacy looked at Jane and said, "I… I… I… I… I…"

Jane didn't have time for this. She grabbed Stacy's arm and dragged her outside. Tiffany watched them leave, almost sure that she should do something.


Daria returned from the restroom. She had to admit, the new look she had for the night had one significant advantage, which was that none of the more moronic students recognized her. Those who had went on about how wonderful she looked, whereupon Daria would say something sarcastic, and they would go away. It was annoying, but amusing at the same time. She found Tom right where she had left him.

"What did I miss?" Daria asked.

"Well, they haven't kicked the band out yet, Upchuck hasn't been humiliated yet, and Jane was coming over, but instead she grabbed this girl by the arm and dragged her outside. I think it was one of your sister's friends."

Daria frowned. "I wonder… was she the Asian girl, the one Quinn's been dating, or the other one?"

"The other one."

"I'd better go check this out," said Daria. She thought quickly, and realized that it might be best if Tom didn't see what she suspected might be going on out there. "Um… do you mind staying here?"

"Sure. I think that French girl over there is about to go ballistic. Wouldn't want to miss that."

"I expect a full report." She kissed Tom briefly, and then started to make her way through the thick crowd to get out.


Jane got Stacy around the corner of the gym and behind a bush.

"Um… Jane, I'm really not that kind of girl…" Stacy whispered, obviously petrified.

"Relax, Stacy, I didn't take you out here to seduce you or anything."

Stacy still looked scared.

Jane sighed. "I just want to know if, well, if everything is all right."

Stacy relaxed a bit, but wouldn't meet Jane's eyes. "Why wouldn't it be?" she asked.

"Because you're jumpier than a frog on speed, that's why. You look scared to death and ready to cry your eyes out at the same time. I just wanted to know what was wrong."

Stacy said nothing.

Jane shrugged. "Suit yourself," she said, and started to leave.

"Jane, wait!" Stacy called.


Stacy sat down on the foundation of the gym. "Is it okay if I talk to you for a bit?"

Jane smiled. "That's why I forced you out here."

Stacy sighed. "I did something really wrong, and I don't know what to do."

"Like what? Did you mix fall and spring fashions?"

"Please, give me some credit. No, I… I told off Sandi."

Jane's eyes went wide. "You did? You, the shyest mouse that Lawndale has ever known, stood up to the Thunderbitch? What were you on?"

"Two-thirds of a bottle of champagne."

Jane shook her head. "Well, I'll be damned."

"I said such horrible things to her!" Stacy wailed. "And then she got up and walked away, and Quinn called me a bitch and went after her, and Tiffany doesn't know what I should do!"

"Well," Jane said as she sat down next to Stacy, "From what I can tell, she had it coming to her. She does treat you pretty badly."

"That's the worst part," Stacy sobbed. "I'm really sorry I said all those things, but the truth is, I meant them all. But I don't really hate Sandi, I just wish she wasn't so awful all the time!"

"All the time? It seems to me that lately, she's changed a lot, and for the better."

"I know," Stacy said. "But there's years before that that she just walked all over me. I'm just so…"

Jane waited for a bit. "You're angry with her."

"Yes!" Stacy agreed.

"But your problem is you."

Stacy looked at Jane. "What?"

"She walks all over you because you let her do it," Jane explained. "If you had asserted yourself from moment one, Sandi wouldn't have kept it up all this time. After years of that, anyone would have blown their top. The thing is, what do you intend to do now?"

"I don't know!!"

"Well, you have some choices. The easiest thing to do would be to go and humbly beg forgiveness and take all the blame upon yourself. Then you're right back where you started."

Stacy shook her head. "I can't do that."

"That's good," Jane said. "If you had done that, I'd say there's no hope for you. But there is something else you can do."

Stacy looked up. "What?"

"Before I say anything else, tell me this: Do you really, truly think Sandi is a desirable friend? Do you think that under her callous exterior is someone you want to be around? Do you think you can take her with all her flaws, because in the end her presence will make your life better? To put it in the simplest possible terms… Do you like her?"

Stacy sat lost in thought.

"I'll let you ponder that for a while," Jane said. "In the end, if you decide it's worth it to you, all you need to do is tell her what you feel, without the booze to muddle it. And this time, tell her all that you feel, not just what you're angry about. Make sure she does the same. Then forgive each other, and maybe, you'll find a friend you never knew you had."

Stacy nodded. Jane started to walk away.

"Jane?" Stacy asked.


"Thank you." She suddenly grabbed Jane and hugged her tightly.

Jane stiffened for a moment, then returned the hug. "My pleasure," she said.

They separated for a moment, and caught each other's eyes. Knowing that such a moment would likely never come again, they brought their lips together for a soft, tender kiss.

They were alone, and mostly hidden by the bushes around them. Someone would probably have to be deliberately searching to have found them there.

Someone did.

Her eyes went wide with surprise, but she said nothing, just watching the moment Jane and Stacy shared together, the way they both seemed swept away by the sudden passion of a single kiss. It seemed so very beautiful, so very intimate.

When Jane finally left to go back inside, the quiet observer had already gone.


Tiffany found Quinn and Sandi by one of the refreshment tables, sipping punch. She got there just a dripping wet Upchuck left to go freshen up.

"Hi guys…" she said.

"Oh hi, Tiffany," Quinn said happily, giving her a little hug. She held it just long enough to whisper in her ear, "Where's Stacy?"

"Outside," Tiffany replied.

Sandi didn't notice the exchange. She was watching the crowd with a slight scowl on her face.

Tiffany went up to her and offered a hug, which Sandi grudgingly accepted. "Hi Tiffany," she mumbled.

"Hey Sandi," Tiffany said. "Stacy's really sorry and stuff. She feels really bad."

"Mm-hm," Sandi said.

"We got here together, but then that Jane girl grabbed her and dragged her outside," Tiffany added.

Sandi shrugged. "Maybe she'll treat Stacy better than I did." A careful listener might have noticed the slight tremble that made its way through Sandi's tough-as-nails tone.

Quinn was too taken aback by Tiffany's last statement to notice. "She went outside with Jane? When was this?"

"When we got here. I little bit ago."

"Sandi, I'll be right back," Quinn said. She ran off into the crowd.

Quinn felt a little bad about leaving Sandi in the dust like that, but she was worried about what was happening. If Stacy decided on her own that she was better off without her former friends, that was one thing, but she didn't want Jane seducing her away. She mentally kicked herself for setting the two of them up. Maybe it was even some of Jane's self-confidence rubbing off on her that made Stacy act up in the first place.

Quinn couldn't see very well above the crowd. She lost sight of the front door, and finally made use of the lines on the gym floor to guide her out of the dancing mob. Fate decreed that the line also led her to Daria.

"Daria! Have you seen your friend Jane?"

"Yeah, I sure did," Daria mumbled. Her mind seemed occupied.

"Where? Was Stacy with her?"

"I'd have to say… yes," Daria replied. "Excuse me, I'm trying to find Tom." Daria wandered off.

From where she was, Quinn could see the front door. Jane was there, and she was alone. Quinn breathed a sigh of relief, but she still had to know where Stacy was. If she decided to leave the dance, there was no telling if the club would ever recover. And it was about more than the club; it was about her best friends being ripped apart, all because two weeks ago she'd gotten it into her head to try to pull them closer. If she and Sandi hadn't gotten together, they'd be here tonight with dates instead of each other, and Stacy wouldn't have gotten drunk and lashed out at Sandi, and none of this conflict would have ever happened.

She finally caught up with Jane at the restrooms. "Jane!" she shouted.

Jane turned. "Quinn? What the hell do you want?"

"Where's Stacy?" Quinn asked when they got close enough to talk instead of yell.

"She's outside, she's perfectly fine. Jane's eyes softened. "She's really upset, though. I hope I helped her."

"What did you do?"

Jane shrugged. "I just told her what I thought was best for her. She's got a choice to make now, and I felt like I owed her some help in making it. What can I say, she's kind of got a special place in my heart, now."

Quinn looked Jane in the eye. "You're not trying to take her away from us, are you?"

Jane returned the look. "What she chooses is just that, her choice. But off the record, I hope she does pick the Fashion Club over me. I said my heart goes out to her. My head still finds her annoying after a very short while. But don't tell her I said that, you know how tenderhearted she is."

Quinn smiled. She knew that Jane really did have Stacy's best interests at heart. "Seriously, where can I find her?"

"Around the building, past the fire hose hookup, behind the big bush. Unless she's gone somewhere else."

"Thanks, Jane," Quinn said, and ran back to get Sandi.


Stacy hadn't moved from the spot behind the bush. She was watching the moon come up behind the trees, trying so hard to think, not knowing what to do. This was so important. She could, at this point, walk away from the Fashion Club, from her friends, from all the tangled feelings she'd had not only over the past couple of weeks, but for the past ten years. Or, she could stand her ground. She just didn't know if she had it in her to do either one.

"Stacy?" came the voice.

Stacy looked up. It was Sandi.

"Sandi," she said evenly.

Sandi indicated the ledge where Stacy sat. "Can I sit down?" she asked.

Stacy shrugged.

The two of them sat together in silence for a moment.

"Did you really mean all that you said before?" Sandi finally asked. There was no emotion in her voice, it was just a question.

Stacy felt her stomach churn. There was no one there to give her the answer. She would have to face this one on her own. Finally, she nodded her head. "Yes," she said.

"Oh," Sandi replied. She got up to leave.

"Don't go, Sandi," Stacy whispered. "Please don't go."

"Why not?" Sandi said. "You obviously hate me. You seem to have every reason to. You'd be better off without me."

"Is that what you think?" Stacy asked.

"Why shouldn't I think it?" Sandi replied. "You seem to."

"Oh, Sandi," Stacy said. "It's not like that. Will you let me explain? Please?"

Sandi turned and sat back down.

"I don't hate you, Sandi," she said. "I was just really angry with you. You know, because I felt like I never got to say my own opinion or anything. That your way always had to be right."

"Why didn't you ever say anything before?" Sandi asked.

"Don't you see?" Stacy said. "I couldn't. That was the way things were. I didn't know how to say to you that I didn't like following you all the time. I wasn't strong enough. And to tell you the truth, I didn't mind so much before… um…"

"Before what?"

"Before Quinn. Do you remember how it used to be, with just the three of us? The way we'd hang out together, and have slumber parties, and watch the fashion shows on TV? I mean, you were always in charge, but it was fun, because we could still talk about other stuff and not have to worry about the club."

Sandi looked thoughtful.

"But then Quinn came along," Stacy said, "and I'm not saying it's her fault, but all of a sudden it was like you were threatened by her. And so everything became about the club, so you could always be President, and you could always make the rules. Ever since then, I feel like I've slowly lost my friend Sandi. And I know you've changed now, and I know that you're not trying to out-popular Quinn anymore, but… there's still two years of resentment that I couldn't just forget…"

Sandi was crying now. She looked over at Stacy with tears in her eyes. "Stacy, I didn't know…"

"It's my fault too," Stacy admitted. "I let you get away with it. I could have stood up for myself, like Quinn does, but I was afraid of losing you. I guess I never realized that I was losing you anyway, and losing myself in the bargain."

Sandi sniffled a bit. "So, what do we do now?" she asked.

Stacy swallowed hard. This was it. The choice Jane had talked about was here. She could walk away, or stay with Sandi and work things out.

In the end, there was really only one choice to make. "We forgive each other," Stacy said. She stood up, and offered Sandi a hug.

It was gratefully accepted.


About forty feet away, behind a parked car, Quinn and Tiffany smiled and hugged as well.


With the Spiral finally replaced by a boombox, the party was in full swing. The Fashion Club made their grand re-entrance from the photographer's station, where they had taken a group shot. Bananarama's "Venus" was pumping through Mystic Spiral's amps as they took the dance floor. For the first time in as long as she could remember, Quinn cut loose and danced without regard to her hairstyle, not caring if she got sweaty.

She caught a glimpse of Stacy cutting up the floor a few feet away. Quinn was amazed – that girl had some rhythm! She was spinning around like a top, her dress flaring out around her, moving like the floor was on fire beneath her feet. There was even a circle opening up around her, as those next to her caught a glimpse and realized this was someone to watch.

Quinn finally backed away herself, pulling Tiffany and Sandi with her. By now, there was an opening at least twenty feet across, with Stacy in the middle putting on a show like no one would have believed her capable of. As the music reached a climax, her hair slipped from its complex up-do and waved wildly around her face, making her finish all the more kinetic. She finally ended up in a full split that would have made Brittany jealous, her arms extended over her head, her hair thrown to cascade down her back.

The crowd erupted in cheers.

Stacy's eyes snapped open, and she looked around in shock. She hadn't even realized the attention being paid to her. The horror in her eyes slowly melted and turned to pride as she soaked in the adoration of her classmates. She stood and took a bow, as her friends rushed in and led her off the floor.

"Well," Daria said to Jane. "Now I've seen everything."


"How did you do that?" Quinn asked when they got out of the crowd. They had to duck under the bleachers to get sufficiently out of the noise to talk.

"That was incredible, Stacy!" Sandi added.

"Really amazing," Tiffany agreed.

Stacy still hadn't been able to catch her breath. "Give me a second," she wheezed.

"Wow," she said when she was finally able to talk. "I don't know what came over me!"

"Have you been holding out on us?" Sandi asked. "Where did you learn to dance like that?"

"Well, you know back in fifth grade when you wanted us to start doing aerobics?" Stacy asked. "We stopped doing it after a week, because we got all sweaty. Only, I never really stopped. I just got bored with it, so I started dancing to the records instead. I've been doing that for an hour twice a week ever since. I never realized I was getting good at it."

"Good?" Quinn said. "You were an absolute fireball!"

The four of them sat under the bleachers cooling off for a bit. "God, I'm thirsty," Stacy said.

"Let's go get some punch," Tiffany suggested. "We'll be right back." She left with Stacy.

Quinn and Sandi watched them leave. "So, everything's cool now?" Quinn asked.

"Better," Sandi said. "I haven't felt like this in years. I feel like I've been alone for so long, and now I'm surrounded by people I love."

Quinn noticed that the music had shifted gears. "True Colors" was playing across the suddenly quiet gym. She looked around – they were all alone under the bleachers.

"Dance with me, Sandi?" she asked, standing up and extending a hand.

Sandi smiled. "I'd love to, Quinn."

They embraced and began circling to the music. Quinn felt Sandi's head come down on her shoulder, and she smiled and held her closer. As the song went on, the rest of the world faded away.

"So don't be afraid… to let it show. True colors… true colors… are beautiful, like the rainbow…"

As the song drew to a close, Sandi looked into Quinn's eyes, and saw her own feelings there. They drew as close as they could, and kissed long and deep as the last note faded away to silence. Sandi felt a tear trickle down her cheek as she felt another hopeless dream come true. She would have been content if that moment had lasted forever.


Daria had allowed Tom to coax her out on the dance floor, but she insisted upon being off in the corner. As it happened, this gave her a full view of the underside of the bleachers, and the sole occupants within. The look on Quinn's face was like one she'd never seen, that of a girl hopelessly in love. She drooped inside as she realized that, while she had feelings for Tom, they were never and could never be so powerful.

"Tom?" she asked.

"Yes, Daria?"

"Let's get a little closer to the dance floor. I decided I don't mind people seeing me."

Tom readily agreed. Daria took a last look at the happy couple hidden from everyone else's view, and followed.


Despite much coaxing from her friends, Stacy insisted that she didn't want to put in another appearance on the dance floor. In the end, the girls left the dance early and were back in the limousine together by eleven o'clock.

"So, where are we going?" Quinn asked.

"First, a toast," Sandi insisted. She pulled the back seat down to access a space behind, from where she withdrew a champagne bottle in an insulated bag. "At least Stacy didn't find this one," she said.

"Um, Sandi, maybe I shouldn't," Stacy said.

"Don't worry about it, Stacy," Sandi assured her. "What's past is past. Besides, if I'm going to properly seduce Quinn tonight, she needs to be a little tipsy."

"Sandi!" admonished Quinn with a smile. "Not in front of the straight girls!"

Stacy blinked. "Oh, didn't you hear? Tiffany is my date tonight."

"Yeah…" said Tiffany. "But, we haven't really kissed yet."

"It's our first date, after all," Stacy pointed out. "Fashion Club bylaws specifically forbid kissing on the first date."

"Don't the rules change for girls, though?" Quinn asked.

Sandi shrugged. "All in favor?" she asked.

Four hands went up.

"Motion is carried," Sandi said with a nod. "Kissing other girls on a first date is hereby not only permitted, but encouraged." She leaned over and took a taste of Quinn's lips.

"Get a room, guys!" Stacy giggled.

"We're getting to that," Sandi said. "First, a toast." She passed the flutes around and topped each one off. Then, she raised her glass. "To the Fashion Club – and more than that, to the most wonderful friends I could ever have."

Glasses clinked, and champagne disappeared. It wasn't easy to do a group hug in the back seat of a moving car, but they managed somehow.


The limousine pulled up to the front doors of the Oceanside Inn.

"What are we doing here?" asked Stacy as they stepped out.

"The owner of this place owes my mother a few favors," Sandi said. "I just got on the phone with him, said that I was Linda, and a half hour later had the penthouse suite reserved. Let's go live the good life, ladies."

Linking arms, the girls strode through the front doors, ready to party.


Stacy ran out onto the deck once they were inside. "Wow, look at this! You can see the ocean from here!"

Tiffany was in one of the two bedrooms. "Vibrating bed. Cool…"

Quinn ran in next to her. "And mirrors on the ceiling!"

Sandi called Stacy inside and led them over to the closet. "I arranged to have some changes of clothes for us here, as well as all the appropriate hair and makeup necessities. We wouldn't want to leave tomorrow without proper wardrobe, would we?"

"Oh Sandi, you're so smart!" Stacy said.

"And that's not the best part," Sandi said, leading them back outside. She pushed a switch on the wall, and part of the deck slid away, revealing a steaming hot tub. "Anyone care for a dip?" she asked.

"Oh God, that would be great! You have no idea how sweaty I am after all that dancing!"

Tiffany, Quinn, and Sandi looked at each other for a moment, then back at Stacy. "Stacy," they said in unison, "Eeewww!"


"So I was thinking," Sandi said, sipping on her frozen strawberry daiquiri, "what the Fashion Club needs is some more direction. What would you guys say to, perhaps designing some outfits and such from scratch."

"That is a really good idea, Sandi," Tiffany said, laying aside her blue margarita. "We could do some drawings, and make some patterns, and have our own clothing line."

"As long as we didn't make use of third-world sweatshop labor," Quinn pointed out as she took another swallow from her fuzzy navel. "I mean, we wouldn't want other people sweating on her clothes."

"This is going to be so much fun!" Stacy squealed, finishing off a sex-on-the-beach. "I've always wanted to make our own fashions! And then, maybe we can put together a fashion show or a photo shoot or something. I mean, we're going to need portfolios and all."

Sandi put down the rest of her drink and stood up. The water cascaded off her body as she stretched her arms into the wind. One of the things she had forgotten was swimsuits, but it had been agreed upon all around that they didn't really need them. "I'm going to turn on some music," Sandi said.

"That's not all you're turning on," whispered Quinn as her eyes locked on Sandi's hardening nipples.

Tiffany was the only one who heard it, and she giggled quietly.

As Sandi left the tub, Quinn stood up as well. "Wait, Sandi, I'll come with you," she said.

"I wonder what they're up to?" Stacy asked innocently. She reached over and turned off the jets, so they would be able to hear the music better. As she did, her hand brushed Tiffany's shoulder.

"Stacy?" said Tiffany.

"Mm?" Stacy had to stand up a bit to reach the jet valve, and her breasts came out of the water next to Tiffany's face. Stacy didn't notice, but Tiffany certainly did.

"Umm…" Tiffany fought through her alcohol buzz and the sudden distraction of Stacy's body to form her next words. "Do you remember last night, how you were saying that you wanted our first kiss to be something special?"

Stacy turned to look at Tiffany, her eyes wide.

"Well, I was thinking, we've had an incredible night, and we're in this hot tub under the stars, with the ocean in the background…" Just then, the high tone of a saxophone emerged from the speakers on the deck. "And we have beautiful music. I don't think a moment can get more special than this…"

Stacy slid back into the tub close to Tiffany. "Would you ask me?"

Tiffany reached up a hand and stroked Stacy's hair. "Stacy, will you kiss me?"

In response, Stacy put her arms around Tiffany's body and lowered her lips to those of her beautiful friend.

Tiffany almost gasped aloud at the first touch. Stacy's lips were wet from the steam of the Jacuzzi, and wonderfully soft and yielding. She slid closer and felt her naked legs brush Stacy's below the surface, where they slid together in the warm, bubbling water. Tiffany dared to open her lips slightly and Stacy did the same, but it was yet another moment before they let their tongues touch and then caress one another through their kiss.

She felt Stacy growing bolder with each passing moment, turning Tiffany to face her directly and then pulling her close so their wet, naked bodies touched. Tiffany felt the pleasant round firmness of Stacy's breasts press into her, and the feeling was unlike any she's ever known. Her hands slipped beneath the surface of the water to feel Stacy's body, which was wonderfully smooth and warm to the touch.

Stacy broke the kiss not by pulling away, but by moving her lips down to caress Tiffany's neck. Tiffany had never intended for this to go farther than a simple kiss, but now she didn't ever want Stacy to stop. She remembered how it had felt to touch herself and to reach that moment of ecstasy, and she was desperate to share it with someone. Someone like Stacy.

Stacy felt Tiffany's young, slim body tense beneath her kisses. Like her friend, she had thought that all she wanted was a kiss, but she couldn't stop once she'd had a taste of those lips. Some part of her noticed that Quinn and Sandi had come back and had slipped back into the hot tub together, to make love alongside their beautiful friends. Now I understand, thought Stacy. I know what they felt, I feel it myself and it's so wonderful…


Quinn had come back onto the deck first, and was surprised to say the least to see her friends kissing hotly together, oblivious to everything else.

Sandi came out a moment later, and was about to say something when Quinn put a gentle hand over her lips. Then she also saw what was going on in the hot tub, and just stood and watched in amazement. She had never actually seen two other women kiss before, in real life, and the sight made her blood run hot with desire.

Quinn smiled at her, and beckoned with one finger as she tiptoed back to the hot tub. Together, they slid into the water and embraced as lovers, mimicking the actions of Stacy and Tiffany a few feet away. Separated only by water, it was inevitable that they might touch, and in moments Quinn felt a foot slide along her ankle that couldn't have been Sandi's. By the gasp she heard from the other side, it had to have been Tiffany. She smiled through the kiss, and went back to devoting her full attention to Sandi.

Sandi had sat up a little higher in the water, letting her breasts emerge. Once again, the cool breeze hardened her nipples at once. Quinn lowered her lips to Sandi's breast and sucked gently, pulling the little cherry stone into her mouth. She felt it soften for a moment from the sudden warmth, then harden again with excitement. Once again she felt another foot brush her leg, and this time it lingered a moment. Quinn didn't even know who it was, and the thought thrilled her.

A glance to the side showed her that Stacy had followed Quinn's lead; she had fastened her lips to Tiffany's firm nipple and was sucking it gently, playing her tongue around it and drawing it into her mouth. Quinn realized that it was Stacy's foot she felt beneath the water, and she reached down with one hand to tickle her. Stacy jumped for a moment, startled, then peeked over at Quinn and gave her a wink and a smile, then went back to pleasuring Tiffany.

Quinn felt Sandi's hand traveling down her body, pausing briefly to touch her breasts beneath the water before continuing down between her legs. Quinn wanted to feel Sandi's touch, and encouraged her by spreading her legs slightly. In doing so, she also slid her leg against Stacy's, her foot traveling up Stacy's smooth thigh. From across the tub Quinn heard Stacy moan with pleasure at the touch.

Quinn sneaked a glance up at Sandi and saw that she was watching her friends with unguarded lust, getting hotter and hotter at the sight of their lovemaking. She wondered if Sandi had ever fantasized about a moment like this, all of her friends naked together and making each other hot. She knew that Sandi had been a little bothered by the idea of Quinn and Stacy kissing, but tonight, with all their inhibitions down, they might try making love together. Surely Sandi must have seen Quinn's outstretched leg across Stacy's thigh, and it didn't seem to bother her. On the contrary, she was hotter and more turned on that Quinn had ever seen her.

Sandi's roaming hand was nearly on Quinn's clit, and she knew that she would lose control when Sandi touched her. She had to make her move now if at all. Hooking her foot around Stacy's leg, she gently tugged to show that she wanted Stacy to join them. At the same time, she bit down carefully on Sandi's nipple, making her throw back her head and moan with pleasure. Sandi didn't see Quinn reach out and beckon her friends over with one finger.

Stacy and Tiffany looked at each other, smiled, and kissed. Then they slid around the tub so that they were on either side of Sandi, pressing their bodies against hers.

"What are you doing?" Sandi whispered, breaking the silence for the first time.

"Come on, lover," Quinn whispered back. "I know this had to be one of your fantasies. Don't you want to feel all of us making love to you?"

"Let me kiss you, Sandi," Stacy begged. "I want so badly to feel your lips on me…"

"We all want you, Sandi," Tiffany said huskily. Her long, whispered tone sounded intensely erotic in a way that none of them had even noticed before. For Sandi, it was all she needed. She reached out and kissed Tiffany first, then Quinn, and finally Stacy, sucking on her lower lip as she withdrew.

Stacy immediately buried her face into Sandi's neck, while Tiffany began licking at her breasts, occasionally drawing a nipple into her mouth for a quick, hard suck. Quinn just sat back for a moment to enjoy the show, rubbing her own breasts and between her legs to satisfy her own needs.

Sandi was obviously in heaven. Her hands roamed all over Stacy and Tiffany's naked skin, her breath came in gasps and moans as they gave her pleasure. Quinn tired of her role as a bystander and approached her lover once more. She smiled as a thought came to her, and, taking several deep breaths, ducked below the water's surface.

Quickly she dove between Sandi's legs, spread her knees apart, and pressed her tongue to Sandi's clit. The effect was immediate and electric, as Sandi's whole body stiffened at the unexpected contact. Quinn knew she could only hold her breath for half a minute at the outside, so she gave Sandi as much pleasure as she could in that time, sealing her lips onto Sandi's sex and sucking softly even as her tongue flicked on Sandi's tender bud.

It was an unbearably short time before she had to go up for breath. Her hand replaced her lips as Quinn rose to the surface, quickly gulped in as much air as she could hold, and dove again. This time, she brought her lips right up to Sandi's pussy and blew a steady stream of bubbles across her clit. By the tensing in her legs, Sandi enjoyed that almost as much. Quinn noticed this time that Stacy and Tiffany were straddling each of Sandi's thighs, rocking their hips back and forth to satisfy their own needs. After another breath of air, Quinn not only returned her attentions to Sandi, but to her other friends as well, sliding her hands up between their legs and rubbing in time with their own motions.

Sandi was rolling her hips into Quinn's face now, desperate for release. Quinn rose to the surface one last time, and saw that Stacy and Tiffany had each taken a nipple into their mouths and were licking and sucking with enthusiasm. One last time she plunged beneath the surface, and immediately pulled Sandi's swollen clit into her mouth. Over the roar of the bubbles, she could hear Sandi cry out in ecstasy as she climaxed. Quinn stayed under as long as she could, prolonging the moment, until she came to the surface with a gasp.

She felt warm arms around her at once, and Stacy and Tiffany pulled her into their mutual embrace. Wet lips caressed her own, and a hot tongue ran up the side of her neck. Quinn kissed each of her friends in turn, savoring the different feel to each. Sandi liked it firm and deep, Tiffany seemed to prefer more tickling with her tongue, and Stacy simply couldn't get enough no matter how she got it. Quinn relished the idea that Stacy had finally gotten to kiss her after all, and far from objecting, Sandi was obviously intensely turned on by it. That, and the vigorous breast massage that Tiffany was giving her.

It wasn't long before Quinn began to feel lightheaded from the combined effect of the hot tub, the alcohol, and powerful lust. She sensed that the other girls were being affected as well, and so decided to make the first move. Leaning over to kiss Sandi one more time, she stood up and motioned for the others to follow her out of the tub and back inside.


Once inside, there didn't seem to be words adequate to express the feelings they all had. In silence, they each selected a towel and dried off. Quinn, being the first one dry, started up the fireplace and reclined on the sofa to wait for her friends. Soon they were all there, looking nervously at each other, still not speaking. There had seemed little point in putting on nightclothes to sleep in.

Oddly, it was Tiffany who found her voice first. "What now?" she asked.

Sandi sat up a bit more. "This certainly changes things between us," she said. "I mean, I never expected anything like this to happen, not in my wildest dreams."

Stacy just nodded. She still couldn't speak.

Quinn sighed. "I suppose this might never happen again. I mean, I doubt we'll ever be drunk enough, or happen to get naked together, or just feel crazy enough to do it."

Stacy nodded again. "I… I'll cherish the memory," she whispered.

Sandi looked at her. "Really?" she asked. "No shame, no guilt?"

Stacy shook her head. "I loved being intimate with you all," she said. "It was… exhilarating."

Quinn smiled. "It was pretty amazing, wasn't it?" she asked.

Tiffany nodded. "I've never felt anything like it."

Sandi smiled as well, but only halfway. "I hope we all feel the same way in the morning," she said. "In the meantime, let me just say that when I first kissed Quinn two weeks ago, this is not what I had in mind as the ultimate goal."

Giggling erupted from all around.

"Still," Sandi continued. "I'd do it again."

"Me too," Tiffany agreed.

"Definitely," Quinn said.

Stacy stood up. "Well, what are we waiting for?" she asked. "If this might never happen again after tonight, I want tonight to go on until we collapse in each other's arms. What do all of you think?"

The other three girls looked at Stacy, then at each other. "Why not?" Tiffany said. She stood up and put her arms around Stacy, kissing her softly on the lips. Stacy pulled her closer, deepening the kiss and letting her hands travel down Tiffany's back to her firm, round bottom. For a moment they remained in a standing embrace, then slowly kneeled and then sat on the soft, plush carpet.

"What are you two waiting for?" Stacy asked, smiling.

Quinn stood up and went to take Sandi's hand. Together, they joined their lovely friends by the fire.


Quinn stretched and sighed as the sun peeked through the window and caught her eyes. Her hand touched soft, yielding flesh in one direction. She glanced over and saw Sandi's sleeping form, stirring slightly at Quinn's touch at her breast.

Suddenly Quinn was fully awake. She remembered the euphoria of the previous night like a dream she'd just awakened from, undeniable but seemingly so unreal. She remembered the four of them making love by the fire, feeling all those warm, soft hands on her body, reaching out to give and receive pleasure always to find a willing lover. She remembered how she had reveled in the glorious feeling of each of them caressing her, kissing her, making her climax again and again, until at last she was ready to drop from exhaustion. She and Sandi had gone to their room at that point, leaving Stacy and Tiffany to love one another to sleep.

Quinn slid carefully out of bed and crept out to the main room. There was no sign of the previous night's revelry. Could she, in fact, have dreamed it all?

There was only one way to be sure. She tiptoed over to Stacy and Tiffany's room and peeked through the partly opened door. Her two friends were sleeping there, curled up in each other's arms in a lover's embrace.

Quinn smiled, and silently made her way back to her bed. She was still terribly tired, and Sandi's warm arms were waiting for her.


Sandi drove them home that afternoon. They talked about who was at the dance, how well their dresses were received, how much they looked forward to getting the picture, and in fact everything under the sun besides how they had spent the night.

Sandi pulled up in front of Tiffany's house, who happened to be first. Tiffany started to get out of the car, when Sandi stopped her with a touch on the shoulder.

"Yes, Sandi?" Tiffany asked.

Sandi opened her hand out to her friends. "No regrets?" she asked.

Quinn took her hand, followed immediately by Stacy and Tiffany.

Sandi smiled widely. "You are, all of you, the best friends I could ever have," she said.


"Whatever went on last night," Daria said, "Quinn was on cloud nine when she got home. She actually sang in the shower. Then she just went to bed."

"We'll probably never know," said Jane as she put the final touch on her painting. It was a picture of Daria in her Homecoming dress, on the deck of the Titanic. The sunken wreck of the Titanic. "So, how did things go with Tom?"

"Eh, the usual. We went out for some late-night cheese fries, and called it a night."

"Boy, you guys really know how to paint the town red."

"So where did you go, Miss Nightlife?"

"Out with the band. We went to some dive and I listened to them prattle on all night."

Daria sighed. "Don't ever tell her I said this, or I will disembowel you, but sometimes I'm actually envious of Quinn."

"She and her friends do seem to know how to have fun lately." Jane stood back and eyed her painting critically. "Looks good. You want it?"



Daria looked at the floor for a moment, then straight into her friend's eyes. "Will you kiss me, Jane?"

The End


Daria and associated characters are owned by MTV, which is owned by Viacom, and are used here without permission.  I am using said characters in a parody per my rights under the first amendment.

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