CHAPTER VIII

"YOO HOO! SIS!"

"Agh!" Quinn woke up with a fright. Her head was throbbing. The sunlight pouring through her bedroom window hurt her eyes. "Oh, the humanity…" she said, as she rubbed her eyes.

"Oh, gee. Did I wake you?" asked Daria, when her sister glared up at her. "I guess that means you haven't been murdered. Well, that's good."

"Daria, what do you want?" asked Quinn, not yet ready to deal with her sister's dry humor.

"You've got a phone call," replied Daria. "It's Jamie. He couldn't reach you on your cell and wanted to make sure you were feeling alright this morning after last night's rager." She handed Quinn the phone, who covered the speaker side in a hurry.

"Oh, gawd, what do Mom and Dad know?" asked Quinn. "Did they see me? Tell me I didn't do anything stupid in front of them."

"Define 'stupid.'"

"Daria!" Quinn hissed, looking beyond her sister to make sure their mother wasn't coming in to lecture her about responsibility.

"Relax. I think you're in the clear. The ungodly hour you got in was just late enough that Mom and Dad didn't wait up for you," Daria assured. "Besides, Mom was busy most of the night with her case files, and Dad went to bed after his third martini after taking a stroll down 'Memory Road.'"

"I don't know whether to be relieved or concerned about Dad's heart... " muttered Quinn. "Anyway, I've left Jamie waiting long enough. I'll meet you downstairs for coffee in a little bit."

"Don't forget about the eggs and crispy bacon," Daria taunted, chuckling when Quinn's face dropped and turned a light shade of green. Daria waved behind her, closed the door, and put on the Keurig.

When Quinn's bout of nausea passed, she answered the phone. "Jamie? Hi, sorry to keep you waiting so long. How are you?"

"I'm pretty good," answered Jamie. "How are you feeling? I got worried when you didn't answer your cell."

"That is so sweet, Jamie," Quinn replied. "I'm sorry to have worried you though. Despite Daria's attempt, I'm alright. Was I really out of it when we got back home?"

"Nah, nothing you couldn't handle," assured Jamie. "Joey was the worst, as usual. He kept hugging me and Jeffy, and telling us how much he loved our 'bromance'… Quinn, what's a bromance? Do I need to break up with Joey? 'Cause he's not my type, and I wouldn't want to hurt him. He's been such a good friend over the years."

Quinn laughed lightly and explained, "No, Jamie, you don't have anything to worry about. He just means that he appreciates your friendship, so it sounds like the bromance is mutual."

"Oh," Jamie replied. "That's cool. I-I think…"

"It is, don't worry," Quinn said with a smile. "Although, now that you mention it, you, Joey, and Jeffy would make a great couple," she teased. "Or is it a triple?"

"Quinn, c'mon," said Jamie. "Be serious."

"Oh, but I am," she continued, smirking. "It'd bring a whole new meaning to Alpha Tri Alpha."

"Oh, you're bad," laughed Jamie. "I don't know whose influence to blame more: Sandi's or your sister's."

"Oh, definitely Daria's. If Sandi were here, she probably would have said something like, 'Gee, Quinn, I hope you aren't suggesting that the guys completely give up on dating. Some of us would still like to have someone to drive us to parties."

"That sounded just like her," replied a startled Jamie. "But, uh, Quinn, that's not really how you girls think of us, right?"

"No, of course not, Jamie! I would never try to imply that. I'm sorry."

"It's alright," Jamie replied.

"I mean, you guys are some of the greatest friends I've ever had," continued Quinn. "You three and the girls were the greatest things about moving to Lawndale. I don't know what I would have done without you."

"Oh," replied Jamie, sounding crestfallen. "Well, that's nice, I guess."

"Well, of course it is," Quinn replied, slightly worried. "Why wouldn't it be?"

"Quinn, when you think of me, do you still think of me with Joey and Jeffy? Or, do you just think of me?" asked Jamie with hesitation.

"Well, you guys were inseparable for so long…"

"I see," Jamie replied. A heavy pause hung between them.

"Jamie, did I say something wrong?" asked Quinn with worry.

"No, you didn't. I'm just being stupid," said Jamie with a chuckle that stabbed Quinn in the heart.

"Jamie, you're not-"

"Hey, uh, Quinn, I gotta go."

"Okay… Are we still on to study tomorrow? Stacy wanted to join us by the way. She's thinking about transferring into our program, and I offered to help her out."

"Yeah, of course," replied Jamie. "I'll pick you and Stacy up after work. See you tomorrow, Quinn. Bye." The phone clicked.

Quinn hung up the cordless and plopped down to her bed. She wrapped her arms around a throw pillow and turned to her side to check her phone, which was charging on her nightstand. She had a voicemail and a text from Jamie. She listened first to his voicemail of him checking in on her, as he always did after a night out to make sure she was okay and asking her to call him back so he wouldn't worry. The message he had sent was a picture of the two of them cheek to cheek, Jamie's strong arms hugging Quinn from behind with her hands on his. She hugged her pillow tighter. Her breath caught in her throat. She stared at the picture for a long time and saved it to her phone, hoping that the next time she looked at it the weight in her chest wouldn't hurt so much.