: All recognizable characters are owned by Glenn Eichler and MTV; no infringement is intended, and no money is being made. A/N
: I didn't use the exact numbers or the exact jackpot of the MegaMillions drawing, or even the exact date. Separately, while Maryland does not require public disclosure of winners (a point that I very much agree with), for the purposes of the story, they're going to be one of the majority of states that require disclosure of at least a winner's name and home town.
Jake Morgendorffer scratched his head as he looked around him at the hospital waiting room, where he had just gotten out from having an MRI done. He hadn't thought
that he needed an MRI, but Helen had reminded him of it just that morning, so here he was, with Helen, Daria, and her friend Jane. It had been odd, how Helen had driven out last night, and they had to pick her SUV up at Jane's this morning before Helen and Daria stopped at the bank. Jane was a good rider though, telling him all about her latest paintings and sculptures. Daria was really lucky, having such a good friend, not like little Jakey, forced to hang around with Corporal Ellenbogen...
Helen, Jane, and Daria all grouped around Jake's seat. Helen looked at the nurse and nodded, then turned back to her husband. "Jake?" she asked. He looked up and nodded. "While we're waiting on the test results, Daria, Jane and I wanted to explain what happened last night, and why I had to leave the SUV at Jane's house." Seeing the look of concern on his face, she smiled. "No, none of us are pregnant, and it's good news. Very
good news. So I want you to take it calmly, all right?"
He smiled and let out a breath. "Sure, honey. Did Daria get a full scholarship to Bromwell or something?"
"No, Dad." Daria looked down at Jake, then kneeled until their eyes were level. "Jane and I are getting married." Seeing the blood drain from his face, she started to giggle and waved her hands. "No, no, that's not it, but I got you, didn't I?"
Jake's mouth opened and closed a few times, and his face flushed. Finally, he was able to force out a reply. "I guess you did, kiddo. But what's the news?"
"Well, Dad, did you hear about the lottery drawing yesterday?"
"The one with two-thirds of a billion dollars payout, almost half a billion lump sum? Yeah. It always seems to be someone in another state that gets those big prizes. So one of you won one of the ten grand prizes?"
"Dad, we looked this morning, and one person has a ticket that matches all five numbers and the Megaball." Daria took a breath. "You're looking at her."
"Helen, isn't that a great joke?" he said, laughing while turning to his wife. "Daria just told me that she won half a billion dollars!" Her stern demeanor made his chuckles die out.
"It's not a joke, Jake. I saw the ticket last night. And it's more like three hundred million after taxes." She shook her head. "That's what we put in Daria's safe deposit box, until we can take it to Baltimore on Monday."
"But - but that means we're rich!" Jake leapt to his feet and pumped his fist in the air. "Rich, I tell you! "
He ignored Helen's admonitions to "calm down, Jake!" and shouted at the ceiling, "We've got you now, old man!" He never noticed when his short breaths turned into him crumpling to the floor, with the crash cart rushing toward him.
Daria held her mother, sobbing, in her arms, as her father was taken away for a checkup. "He's going to be all right, Mom. That's why we did this here, and you know he would have reacted almost the same wherever we did this. They got to him in seconds, so there should be no damage at all." Jane patted Helen's shoulder while she shook.
Finally Helen sighed. "I know, Daria, I just hate to see Jakey hurt like that."
Daria nodded. "I'm glad we did it here. Can you imagine that happening in front of all the reporters?"
Helen dried her eyes. "If they added to the problem, I'd have made sure that they weren't happy." She looked at Daria. "Have you thought about how to handle the press?"
"I've got a few ideas. Mind if I run through them?"
Quinn sat on the sofa and clasped her hands around her knee as she heard the SUV come up the driveway. Something was strange - Mom had agreed much too easily to her sleepover with Stacy, and something told her that they hadn't been home last night, either. As the door opened, she could see her mom helping Daddy inside, and Daria and that artgeek friend of hers following behind.
"What happened to you, Daddy?" she asked in a worried tone.
"Quinn, honey, he had a very mild heart attack while we were at the hospital having some tests done for other reasons," Helen said. "I'm glad you're here, because we need to talk."
"Are you going to be all right, Daddy?"
"I'll be just fine, princess." Jake smiled.
"I'm happy for you, Daddy." She frowned. "So can we get this over with? There's a show coming up about the search for the lottery winner. They bought the ticket in Oakwood, you know." She put her hands on her thighs. "Isn't it exciting? We may have met someone who won almost a billion dollars!"
Daria turned to Jane. "Oakwood?"
Jane shrugged sheepishly. "Trent needed to get guitar strings, and he had the car."
Daria gave a small smile. "I'm not complaining."
Quinn looked between them. "What are you two talking about?"
Daria looked at Quinn, rubbed her chin and pondered drawing it out even more. "I'd think that it would be obvious, but...Quinn, the ticket everyone's looking for? It's in a safety deposit box with my signature on it."
Quinn's eyes grew almost impossibly wide. "You're going to be a billionaire
? We're rich!" She started dancing around, her hands in the air, then suddenly turned and faced her sister, with her hands clasped on one side of her head. "Oh, Daria, have I ever told you how fashionably you dress?" she asked, fluttering her eyelashes. Everyone in the room sat back in shock, until Quinn collapsed in giggles. "Sorry," she forced out, "just...couldn't...pass up the chance."
Daria covered her face with her hands, while Jane joined Quinn in expressing her amusement. "I hate you both."
Jane snorted. "We love you, too, Dar."
"That's something that we really haven't discussed, Daria," Helen broke in. "What you want to do with all the money, and how you want to handle things. The only advice I'd give you at this point is, first, have us be ready to receive the money before we claim it, and second, take the lump sum, rather than the annuities."
"Why is that, Mom?"
"Annuities pay more over time, but that's because they are paying over time. The rule of thumb is usually take the annuities if it'll drop you into a lower tax bracket, or if you think that you can't do better than the annuities can over the time period, or if you want to get something that would cost more than one of the payments. But to be honest, none of that entered into my thinking."
Daria was intrigued. "Oh?" she said, raising an eyebrow. "And what did?"
"I know you, Daria. You're a very private person, and you want people to like or dislike you for you, not for your looks or money, or who your great-grandfather was." Daria blushed as Helen went on. "When we turn in this ticket, we're obligated by law to disclose your name and city, and we'll get through that. But why set things up where we have to expose those things twenty-six times? It's not going to make a significant difference, no matter what your goals and dreams are."
"That's kinda what I was thinking."
Helen smirked at her daughter. "Just like I told you, what, a year and a half ago? You give birth to someone, you get an urge to keep tabs on them."
"Ahem." Both Helen and Daria turned to see Quinn standing, arms akimbo, glaring at them. "This is all very touching, and movie of the week, but if you don't tell me what you're gonna do with it all, I'm going to go crazy!"
Daria pondered staying mum.