After years of stalking, the countless photos, the endless attempts to get her alone, the sprained leg, it was time. Approaching the green coated goddess before her, she had to pause and swallow the sudden lump she felt. Here she was, in all her stoic glory, alone, as her friend had gone to get the sodas.
Just as she was about to touch Daria's shoulder, she looked up and spotted Jodie Landon approaching with her boyfriend, Michael. Biting back a curse she lowered her hand and walked away; if it wasn't Jane, it was someone else. Why couldn't she just have two minutes alone to talk with Daria? Why did that girl make her heart flutter every time she spoke? Why was she running away, yet again? Looking up, she saw her friends Andrea and Shaggy waiting with concerned looks on their faces. They would support her after her latest failure, they always did.
Sitting down, Jen refused to meet either set of eyes trying to search for hers. It wasn't that she was upset, but just that she knew that they'd be heartbroken from the sadness within them. Casting a short glance at Jodie talking with Daria, Jennifer cringed inside, thinking back to when she had first met Daria.
She had sat at the back of the self esteem class again; she was on her fourth trip through. The psychologist thought that her shyness was based on her lack of self esteem, and her parents didn't care enough to protest the judgment, so she went, and used it as a study hall. She was working on a problem from her math assignment when she heard a dry voice speak out saying simply, "Excuse me. I have a question."
She had looked up and given a small smile. Mr. O'Neill never answered questions in this class, he didn't know what any of it meant. She thought of talking to the girl after class, when Jane leaned forward and talked to her. Jennifer had sighed inwardly, knowing that her chance to be a friend with the new girl had passed.
Returning to the present, she wasn't surprised in the least to find her cheeks wet with tears that dripped down into her pizza. It always happened when she thought about what could have been if she had been a little braver at any point in her life. Andrea had finally convinced her to leave that class and hang out with her and Shaggy, the two of them had become her first real friends, and, over time, nearly siblings. She trusted them with everything, especially when she came out.
Now when they wanted to help her the most, when she needed them the most, was the time that she rued ever making friends with them. It killed her inside knowing that they were hurting just because she was. She tried to keep an upbeat attitude about it, but she didn't know if she could continue it. It just seemed to get harder every time she failed to talk to Daria, but she kept trying.
Andrea leaned over and hugged Jennifer to her, turning her slightly so that her tears rolled down Andrea's shirt instead of onto her pizza. This was a familiar position for the pair; soon Shaggy would reach over and rub her shoulder. There he was, right on time, showing his support as best he could.
Wiping her eyes and pulling away from Andrea, Jennifer thought back to a couple weeks after Daria had moved in, when she got her first chance to show Daria her support.
It had been in woodshop, Jennifer had taken the workbench across the center aisle from Daria, when Kevin had barged in and started shouting some nonsense about him and Brittany. Daria was sawing something when he had started, but at the end, when he had asked to get together, she had it turned off. Then she delivered the devastating, "It might ruin our friendship," line that left Kevin stunned. After Daria left, Jennifer had called Kevin a geek, but he brushed it off as no big deal. How could being rejected by Daria like that not be a big deal? Was he really that brain-dead?
Jennifer returned to the present just in time to hear Andrea asking her a question.
"Hey Jen, you want to go?" Andrea asked softly while nodding to the door.
With a nod, Jennifer stood up, and flanked by Shaggy and Andrea, she walked out into the sunny day outside. The sun felt good to her, it reminded her of her grandmother. She had always enjoyed gardening on days like this. Jen would often help her in the garden, weeding, planting, watering; it was great fun for the pair to work together. She still longed for her grandmother, even five years after her death.
Stopping at the light, Jen looked to her two friends and gave them both a small smile, trying to show them that she'd be alright. If only she felt as certain of that fact as she was trying to reassure her friends to be. Right now all she wanted to do was go home and curl up in her room, or bake something. Baking always helped her feel better, maybe it was the comforting smells, maybe it was the smiles on the faces of those that ate her creations, or maybe it was testing out new recipes; but something in that combination always helped her feel better.
Shaggy tapped her shoulder and waved to her as he split off to head for his house. She waved back with a small smile on her face. He was a great friend, even if he would create some of the weirdest devices she'd ever seen. Turning back homeward, she felt Andrea's hand pat her shoulder, causing her to look over at the Goth.
"Jennifer... I know you don't want to hear this, but you're a good friend, and... You have to stop torturing yourself over Daria," Andrea said with a concerned look on her face. "I know you're shy, but sometime soon you're going to have to face her. It may mean talking to her in front of others."
Jennifer frowned and turned away, looking out over the street for a moment before sighing and shaking her head slowly.
"Jen... I know you don't like talking in front of others, especially since you and Jane stopped being friends. But you can never be with her if you don't say anything," Andrea said softly as she hugged her friend close.
Jennifer hugged Andrea back, tears stinging her eyes again. Andrea was right though, if she didn't stop being such a coward, she would never have a chance of being happy with Daria. Wiping her eyes on her sleeve, she pulled away from Andrea and gave her a smile, before running towards her home, leaving the Goth standing there with a frown.
"Damn that Daria, why can't she see how much Jen cares? And damn that Jane too, it's her fault Jen's like this..." Andrea mumbled as she watched her best friend run off.
Andrea grimaced as she turned away thinking about how Jennifer changed from the bright outgoing girl when they were younger, to the shy, church mouse that she had grown into lately. It was the summer Jen had moved away from next to Jane's house, that must have been when Jane crushed her. After all those letters Jen had sent, no reply, all those unanswered phone calls... Andrea sighed as she found her fists clenching again, if it wasn't for a promise to Jen, Andrea would have pounded the snot out of Jane, and dragged Daria down on her knees before Jennifer. How dare they hurt her friend like that, how dare they...
Jennifer entered her home silently. She knew she was alone again, her mom was probably still at the office helping her boss, Helen, work on legal briefs and such, probably wouldn't be home until late. As for her dad, last letter she got from him put his whereabouts somewhere north of Alaska, studying whale migration. She loved them both dearly, but sometimes she longed to have a normal family. Walking through the living room, she found a picture of her older sister and smiled faintly. She had always been there for her, but now she had her own life to worry about. College had been good for Miranda; after all, that's where she met her husband and business partner, Mark.
Jennifer sighed and entered the kitchen quietly as she set the picture back on the stand it resided on. Looking around what she called her domain, Jennifer smiled and pulled her apron off of the pin by the doorway. She felt like making some cookies tonight, her basket of them looked to be running low anyhow. Pulling out the flour she wondered if Daria would like her baking. Jennifer smiled and closed her eyes picturing what it might be like to live with Daria.
Jennifer stood in her kitchen, rolling some dough flat with a wooden rolling pin, when suddenly, green clad arms wrapped about her waist, causing a smile to spread on her face. "Hello beautiful," a voice whispered as she felt lips tickle her neck, "what're you making?"
Jennifer rested her hands on Daria's gently while leaning her head back, enjoying the kisses Daria was placing on her neck. Softly she cooed, letting her lover know how much she enjoyed it. Slowly she turned around and smiled at the bespectacled face of the one who possessed her heart. Gently she removed Daria's glasses and leaned in to kiss her gently on the lips.
Jennifer spat out the flour she had accidentally kissed, and with a rueful glare at the traitorous bag, she let out a sigh. It always seemed to end up like that, she'd dream about something, and end up kissing her pillow or the flour bag. Sighing, Jennifer once again started working on making the cookies, focusing on that, and trying to avoid kissing more flour.