At the Lake Cabin

Tom sighed with pleasure as he felt the cool water in between his toes, it had been hot all day and in the light of the setting sun, a break from the heat was a blessed relief.

He turned his head and saw Daria smiling at him as she kicked her feet in the water next to him, and he asked, "What are you looking at?"

Daria's smile seemed to grow as she replied teasingly, "Oh... nothing..."

Silence reigned for a moment until they both laughed and Daria scooted closer to him on the dock and he put an arm around her waist and sighed with pleasure again as Daria rested her head on his shoulder and they just enjoyed each other's company quietly as they stared at the sunset.

Tom began thinking to himself about the long hard road that had been taken to reach this point, even after the breakup they had continued to talk, and for Tom at least his heart had never fully left.

"Even at Bromwell I couldn't quite bring myself to date other women," he thought to himself, "They just weren't... Daria."

What had kept him sane were the phone calls, Daria was away at Raft in Boston but without Jane she had found herself staring down the gun barrel of a party animal roommate without a thought in her head except to get into a lightweight sorority.

He did remind himself that they had both made friends at their respective colleges, and with irritation he was reminded that Daria had dated someone briefly at Raft, some guy named Michael but it hadn't worked out.

"Thank god." Tom thought gladly as he leaned over and smelled Daria's strawberry scented hair and fell in love with her all over again.

Then during fall break, they had both been in Lawndale and had agreed to meet for a pizza for old times' sake and...

"We reconnected," Tom remembered as he watched the symphony of color as the sun began its final decent, "And I learned that she never got over me either."

With Jane out of town helping Trent and the guys with their first attempt at touring, there hadn't been the level of awkwardness that had accompanied them during their high school romance, and on their last night together during Fall Break.

"We made love." Tom remembered with pleasure and blood stirring in his groin and kissed Daria on the top of her head and she leaned up and kissed his neck and asked what that was for.

"Just because." Tom answered out loud and they both laughed as if they had been like this forever.

It certainly felt that way.

Even after going back to Bromwell and Raft, they had kept dating even over such long distances, meeting each chance that they got until the start of the new semester when Tom managed to do something he had thought would be impossible.

"I talked Dad into letting me transfer to Raft." Tom thought to himself, glad that his sister and mother had taken his side and worked on his father until he had relented.

His biggest fear had been Jane's reaction, but when she moved to Boston for BFAC, she just shrugged her shoulders and told them that they had her blessing.

"Even when me and Daria first dated she hadn't gotten over the Kiss." Tom thought to himself with shame, wishing that he had handled the situation better.

He had matured since then.

The months had flown by like magic and before they knew it, Freshman year was under their belts and now it was their first summer together.

Tom glanced at the rustic cabin in the distance, it was a retreat from the retreat, a place where he had often gone when stuck at the Cove when his relatives became truly unbearable.

Now it was the place he had brought Daria to escape both their families, a space of their own for a week or so, he had heard Quinn joking with her friends that it was their 'trial marriage'.

"Maybe it is," Tom conceded to himself with thoughts of a ring he had bought and had in his luggage, intending to pop the question to the woman at his side during a romantic walk in the woods, "And I'll have to thank Elsie for that idea."

Traditional romance didn't come easy to him, but then again that wasn't really Daria's thing per se but she did have a romantic heart and for her he was willing to learn.

As the last light of the day vanished, he leaned over and softly kissed her inviting lips and relished her body heat.

Not having to verbalize either of their desires, they stood up together and walked barefoot towards the cabin and the nice, soft bed that awaited them.

A pair of boots, a pair of shoes, and two sets of socks forgotten on the wooden dock the only testament that they had even been there at all.