Disclaimer: Daria and all related characters are the property of MTV

Note: The next in the Unseen Phenomena Series. (AKA the UPS series) This story takes place approximately six months after "Burnt Out"

By the Twilight

(The scene opens on the inside of a dark apartment one Saturday afternoon. The shades are drawn, none of the lights are turned on, and the only ambient noise is the hum of the refrigerator in the kitchen. That soothing quiet is soon disturbed by what sounds like the pounding of someone's fist on the front door. The pounding comes in a series of three's, with absolutely no result until the eighth set when someone finally stirs from the bedroom at the far side of the apartment. The person stumbles in attempt to place a pair of glasses on her face just before opening the door.)

Daria: (opens the front door and squints until her eyes come into focus upon the frame of a dark haired woman wearing a t-shirt and a pair of jogging shorts.) Somebody had better be dead.....

Jane: Well no, not yet. But I can correct that if you like, I think I saw the mail man somewhere around the corner. He should make an easy enough target, I think.

Daria: Oh, it's just you. And here I was ready to fend off a homicidal maniac.

Jane: (smirks) Sorry to disappoint you there, friend.

Daria: No problem, it's just as well anyway. (Daria steps aside to allow Jane to walk into the apartment) So what brings you to my extremely humble abode?

Jane: Nothing really, it's just that since you got this place last fall you haven't once invited me over to show it off.

Daria: (Walks into the kitchen with Jane close behind and begins to brew a pot of coffee) What's to show off? This is the kitchen, you've already walked through the living room and my bed room is around the corner there.

Jane: (turns to look about the apartment) Oh come on, Daria. You make this place sound so small, for an apartment it's actually kind of spacious if you ask me.

Daria: No one did, but thanks just the same.

Jane: Anytime. So when's the house warming party?

Daria: (looks confused) Jane, it's July. I've been here since I started college last fall, it's getting a bit late for any kind of house warming party isn't it?

Jane: Hey, it's never to late to have a party where only the people you like will actually show up.

Daria: So you're looking forward to a two person house warming party are you?

Jane: Hmm...I guess it would be rather small at that wouldn't it. Oh well, it was a thought at least.

Daria: (Has a seat at the kitchen table) Yea,... so what's new? How's art college?

Jane: School is decent, I did well last semester. There was this one professor who was pretty cool, he never bothered with any self congratulatory yap about his own accomplishments as an artist. He seemed to be genuinely interested in what we were working on, and what we hoped to get out of the coarse.

Daria: A teacher who gives a damn, now there's a first.

Jane: Yea, tell me about it. And as for what's new,......Trent got a job.

Daria: (does a double take) Huh, ....whoa, ....what?????

Jane: (laughs) Now that'll wake you up in the morning, huh?

Daria: (rubs her neck with her hand) Yea, and I think I pulled a muscle in the process. (Pauses for a second) I must be hearing things, I thought for a moment that you said Trent got a job.

Jane: No, you heard correctly. Trent, ....my older sibling, the person everyone thought would sleep his life away has actually moved his ass into gear and got himself a job. And not a crappy burger joint job mind you, a decent one.

Daria: (faux panic) Oh my god, this is one of the seven signs of the apocalypse isn't it? How many are left until prophesy is fulfilled?

Jane: We should be so lucky. But believe it or not, he actually got a career minded job.

Daria: So don't keep me on the edge of my heavy eyelids here, Jane. What has the boy chosen to do with his life?

Jane: He's working in the sound booth at a recording studio just outside of town.

Daria: (opens her eyes wide) A professional recording studio actually hired your narcoleptic brother?

Jane : Well semi professional anyway. It's one of those places geared up to allow the underdogs a chance to record their stuff. Thirty bucks an hour for studio time, not to bad as I understand it. And since Trent works there now, he and the band get to use the studio a couple of hours each weekend for free.

Daria: Aha, so he hasn't given up on the band after all.

Jane: (smirks) Oh hell no, that's still his dream. But it wasn't his motivating force.

Daria: So what did it take to get your brother out of bed and into the work force?

Jane: That's the best part, ...get this. He wanted to show Maria that he can be responsible and actually set some goals in life.

Daria: (displays a look of serious disbelief) Oh god, they're really starting to get serious aren't they? Trent didn't try to pop the question or something did he?

Jane: (bursts out laughing) I seriously doubt that, neither one of them is in any way prepared for such a leap.

Daria: (sighs) Thank god, I thought I felt a heart attack coming on.

Jane: Why Daria, are you still holding on to that old crush of yours?

Daria: (scowls) Has hell frozen over yet? Get over it, Jane. You're scheming backfired years ago. Trent has hooked up with the scot and there's nothing you can do about it.

Jane: The times will change, crushes will fade, but sarcasm will survive, eh Daria?

Daria: You should stick that on a movie poster somewhere.

Jane: I'll give it some thought.

Daria: (rubs her eyes and takes a sip of her coffee) So is Trent at work today or what?

Jane: Take a look at your calendar and then ask me that.

Daria: (frowns and walks over to the refrigerator to look at the calendar on the door) It's July fourth, ....oh I guess he wouldn't be, would he.

Jane: Nope, and that brings me to another question. What are you doing today?

Daria: Oh wait, that was one of the questions on "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" last night too.

Jane: So what was the answer?

Daria: I don't know, I hate that show so I turned it off.

Jane: (laughs) And you wonder why your not rolling in money yet.

Daria: I already know why,... since I moved out I don't have as many chances to extort money out of my parents as I used to.

Jane: Oh well, the money well was bound to dry up sooner or later.

Daria: Yea, I guess so.

Jane: So anyway, like I was saying. What are you doing today?

Daria: Well I WAS planning to sleep the day away, but that evil plot was foiled when somebody came pounding on my front door.

Jane: Just call me the anti-sandman. So what's the deal already?

Daria: I was serious, there is no deal. I planned to enjoy the holiday by sleeping it away and wake up sometime tomorrow when everyone has ceased playing with explosives.

Jane: Oh Daria, since when are you one to pass up watching some dumb ass blowing his own hand off just for the sake of a two hundred year old holiday.

Daria: Oh when you put it like that I can only wonder what I was thinking when I was in dreamland.

Jane: Yea, me too. So it's the fourth of July and you Daria Morgendorffer have absolutely nothing to do.

Daria; Yea, hence the term "summer vacation". It means that for the entire length of the summer solstice one does as little as possible until the vacation ends.

Jane: Oh come Daria, you can't stay holed up in your apartment for the whole summer. It's the fourth of July and there is a fireworks display going off tonight. Do you really want to miss the chance to see a bunch of explosives handlers blow themselves up? (Daria smirks) Yea, I knew you'd like that idea. You never could pass up watching bedlam and mayhem unfold themselves into a full fledged disaster.

Daria: Okay, I admit it. Are you happy now?

Jane: Not yet I'm not. Maria and I are going to the fireworks display tonight and we intend to drag you along with us.

Daria: You're going with Maria? How are you going to pry her away from Trent?

Jane: Oh that shouldn't be a problem, The Tank is busted and Trent along with the rest of the band are going to spend the next couple of days ripping the thing apart in a futile attempt to repair the un-repairable.

Daria: (chuckles) How un-repairable are we talking here?

Jane: Are you kidding, the tank threw a rod AND broke the timing chain while they were driving. The only way in hell that they are going to resurrect that thing is if they drop in an entirely new engine, .....or nail the thing to a cross in hopes of a miracle.

Daria: And either way they don't have the money or the know how to pull it off.

Jane: That's the way I see it, yea. But regardless of how fruitless their efforts re going to be, those guys are going to be neck deep in the tanks bowels for the next day or so.

Daria: Well, at least they won't be anywhere near the fireworks where they could hurt themselves.

Jane: (laughs) I bet they could find a way to make that happen too. So you're coming tonight then?

Daria: Do I really have choice?

Jane: Not unless you design yourself some cement shoes to hold you here, no.

Daria: (sighs) You know, with friends like you. Who needs to be afraid of the mob? (Jane laughs)

Jane: Alright then, you're there. Now all we need to do is drag the scot away from my brothers side and we're set for tonight.

Daria: If Trent is going to be working on the tank all day long, I thought you said dragging Maria away from your brother wasn't going to be a problem?

Jane: I said it SHOULDN'T, Trent hasn't started working on the tank yet so if we don't drag her away then they are going to be lip locked all day long and Trent will never get anywhere with that rusted out shit box of his. You should have seen it, she was over early this morning in his room.

Daria: You've got to be kidding? She didn't spend the night did she?

Jane: Oh hell no, are you kidding? I doubt she's let him get passed second base. Don't let the dirty mind fool you, she's in no way an easy girl.

Daria: You're defending her?

Jane: Let's just say I've seen her smack him around whenever his hand starts to wander. And what's worse is that Trent seems to like it.

Daria: Trent likes it a little rough, I never would have thought.....

Jane: (looks a little disgusted) Yea, me too. Anyway she was over modeling something for him, and then she made HIM try it on.

Daria: (smiles evilly) This should be good for a laugh, what was it?

Jane: Try to picture my brother wearing a blue kilt with black stripes. (Daria just stares open mouthed)

Daria: Trent's bare legs, .....Eww

Jane: I don't know, I think he looked better in it then she did. It gave him that whole Braveheart effect.

Daria: If you say so, Jane.

Jane: I do say so, now lets get going before your mind starts to generate an image on that last statement of mine.

Daria: It's too late for that, I think I'm going to be scarred for life now.

Jane: Oh well in that case I guess my job is done, so lets go anyway then.

Daria: I don't suppose you could let me get dressed before we head out the door?

Jane; Well, I figured since you had gone out driving in your underwear once before, that you really wouldn't mind doing it again. (1)

Daria: Of all the people I had to tell about that, it had to be the one who would actually remember.

Jane: Well in my defense, you didn't really have much of a choice. I showed up at Duncan's house that morning and to my surprise YOU answered the door in your boxer shorts. Now who's fault was THAT?

Daria: (long moment of silence) ....... Shut up. (Daria gets up and heads to her room to get dressed)

(Cut to the Lane household later that morning)

(Trent, Jesse, Nick, and Max are seen outside working on the tank. There are parts of the engine littering the ground along with a pan of engine oil that looks dirtier than crude itself. Maria is sitting on the nearby curb with her canine companion Cheyenne at her side as always. Maria wears a large smile as occasional swears can be heard from the group working on the tank as they proceed to take the engine apart. Daria and Jane pull up in Daria's new cavalier and approach Maria shortly after they exit the vehicle)

Jane: Hey.. hey, it's the kilt lady.

Maria: (smiles and turns in Jane's general direction) Yea, I thought that was you peeking through the doorway this morning.

Jane: (looks surprised) You knew I was there?

Maria: I heard you coming a mile away, nobody has footsteps like yours Jane.

Jane: Do tell, what do they sound like?

Maria: Now if I told you THAT, you might try to change the way you walk and I'd have to figure out what you sound like all over again.

Jane: Damn, I never would have thought my own feet would be the ones to betray me first.

Daria: Sorry to interrupt your fascinating conversation about foot noises here but what are you doing sitting on the curb, Maria?

Maria: (Turns towards Daria) I'm listening to the guys scrape themselves up while trying to bail water from this sinking ship here. So far, Trent has scraped his middle knuckle three times in a row, and dropped a wrench down into the engine where he can't reach it. Jesse, covered half his face in oil when he drained the engine, and Max keeps going on about how big a criminalie he's going to be when they get the tank all fixed up and running like a high performance sports car. All in all, this is better than listening to stand up comedy.

Daria: You can tell all of that just by listening to them work?

Maria: Yea, there's that and the fact that they give away some clues as to their actions while they're swearing up a storm. Saying things like, "oh god, my hair is soaked in oil" tends to describe the situation rather nicely. (A bang is heard from underneath the tank and Jesse can be heard saying some sort of gibberish, Jane and Daria simply look at each other with smirks on their faces)

Jane: I can see how this would be enjoyable for you, but is there any chance we can tear you away from this past time of past times so you might join us in our days activities?

Maria: What days activities? I thought the fireworks weren't until later.

Jane: They aren't, but we have to pass the rest of the day somehow. Simply sitting here listening to these guys isn't going to cut it for too much longer. You could end up with piles from sitting on that curb for gods sake.

Maria: What the hell are piles?

Daria: I'm not sure, all I know is they make your butt hurt if you sit in one spot for too long.

Maria: (gets up from the curb) Guess I'd better move then, thanks for the info. So what are we up to then?

Daria: We'll figure it out when we get there, for now lets just get in the car.

Maria: (to Jane) Is she in a bad mood or something?

Jane: Don't mind Daria, I woke her up out of a sound sleep and the coffee hasn't had a chance to kick in yet.

Maria: That'll do it every time. Okay then, Daria where's your car?

Daria: (Takes Maria by the arm) Here, I'll lead you. (The group walks to Daria's car and before long are on the road)

Jane: (while riding with the window open, Cheyenne as usual has shoved her head past Jane who is riding shotgun and stuck it outside the window to let her ears flap in the wind) Hey Maria, I don't suppose you could pull your dog back. I'm afraid the wind will blow globs of dog slobber back into my face.

Maria: Hey, it's your fault for riding with the window open instead of using the AC. She'll sit down without a fuss if you roll the window up, you'll see.

Jane: (rolls the window up slowly so the dog can get her head out of the way and sure enough the dog quickly takes the hint and sits down in the back seat.) Ok Daria, hit the AC. (Daria turns the air conditioning on low and the interior of the car cools off quickly.)

Daria: Maria, aren't you going to ask why we didn't put the AC on in the first place?

Maria: Hey I figured you were all just used to riding in the tank so much that it didn't even occur to you that this car had AC.

Jane: (looks at Daria) She's good, ...Maria you should go into psychiatry or something.

Maria: Nah, it's not my thing. I just know you guys well enough to recognize the obvious.

Daria: Oh no, Jane. We've become obvious.

Jane: Doesn't that happen right before old age? I mean look at your parents.

Daria: (pretends to shiver) That does it, now I'm scared. (Jane Laughs)

Maria: Well I m glad to see your bad mood has worn off there, Daria. I was afraid you were still mad about the ticket or something.

Daria: (amused) The ticket...?

Jane: (turns around in her seat to look at Maria) What about... "the ticket?"

Maria: It was back when Daria wrecked her car, remember the deer? (2)

Jane: (thinks for a long moment) I remember when Duncan brought the both of you into the pizza king and Daria bitching about having the gear shift to your brothers truck riding between her legs.

Maria: Close enough, While Daria and I were at the shore that Day we killed the deer, the parking meter Daria's car was parked in front of ran out of time and she got a parking ticket.

Jane: (shakes her head) Oh Daria, what have I told you about parking meters and the evil they represent.

Daria: Can it, Jane. There were no other places to park.

Jane: Sounds like a conspiracy Sick Sad World should investigate, don't you think?

Daria: Hey, if you feel like writing the letter then go right ahead. I won't mind watching it. And as far as the parking meter, That wasn't your fault. We just got delayed, that's all.

Maria: As long as your cool with it.

Jane: Is there something you two forgot to tell me about that day?

Daria: You'll never know will you?

Jane; (crosses her arms in frustration) Damn you both, I will get it out of you eventually. Oh yes, ...I will.

Maria: Hey Daria, have we figured out where we're going yet?

Daria: Yea, the Chinese place on the other side of town. They don't celebrate American holidays so they're pretty much one of the few places that will be open today.

Maria: So......we're just going to hang out at a Chinese restaurant for the rest of the day?

Daria: Hey, it's either that or we could hang out and watch Jane's brother cut himself up while working on the tank.

Jane: I don't know about that Daria, he might ask us to help.

Daria: Hmm. You're right, bad idea. Besides it's almost four anyway, the day will be over with soon enough.

Maria; Why don't we just get take out then and we can head back to Daria's place. At least there we can turn on the tube and find something interesting to do.

Jane: By George, I think the scot has come up with a bright idea. Now she can check out your apartment and then we will ALL have seen it.

Daria: Thus eliminating your idea for a house warming party, huh Jane?

Jane: Oh yea, dammit I hate it when I do that to myself.

Daria: It's a plan then.

Maria; (Does a gesture with her hand) Engage! (Daria and Jane just shake their heads as Daria drives on)

(Cut to Daria's apartment about an hour later as the group comes in the front door carrying several bags of Chinese take out. Cheyenne leads Maria quickly past the others and to the nearest table to set her bag down on)

Daria: Hey Maria, I get the strangest feeling that your dog is hungry.

Maria: You noticed that too, huh?

Daria: Well, the fact that she was trying to get you to put the food down was my first clue.

Maria: (Scratches her dog behind the ears) Be still, girl. You'll be fed soon. (Cheyenne gives a cheerful bark and moves to nuzzle against Maria's leg.) Where's the kitchen, Daria?

Daria: Turn to your two o'clock and walk forward about fifteen paces. There shouldn't be anything in your way.

Maria: Cool. (Lets go of Cheyenne's leash, turns in the direction indicated by Daria and begins to make her way to the kitchen)

Jane: (Turns a nearby lamp on and looks about the room) This place even looks nice in low light, Daria.

Daria: Yea, it's good for writing and all night studying.

Jane: I'm guessing you haven't had any interesting young college men over here to keep you company, huh?

Daria: I can most definitely go with a no on that one. So don't even start with me, I'd had enough of your match making during high school.

Jane: I can't help it, that's what I do best. Besides, at least one of us should be able to hook up with a decent guy.

Daria: And Tom?

Jane: Tom was a mistake and a half, Daria. We both know that.

Daria: Yea, at least when he went after me I was smart enough to dump him after two weeks.

Jane: I'm proud of you for that too, Daria. It took me a whole year to figure out that he wasn't good for me.

Maria: (calls from the kitchen) Who's Tom?

Daria: Oh nobody.

Jane: Yea, just a past mistake.

Maria: (senses a slight degree of pain in Jane's voice and Decides not pry) Um...ok. (Beat) Hey , are we going to eat here or what?

Daria: I was wondering when she would mention eating.

Maria: (from the kitchen) I heard that, and I can't help it. I'm standing right here next to the table. having to inhale the scent of this Chinese food here and I can't touch it until you guys bring in the rest of the stuff.

Daria: (to Jane) Wow, she must really be starving.

Jane: I guess so, I didn't see her eating anything this morning so she may not have eaten at all today. Come to think of it I think she's lost weight since this morning, either that or her boobs just make it seem that way.

Maria: (from the kitchen) HEY!!

Daria: (smiles) Damn she has good ears.

Jane: Yea, I guess we should get in there before she sends the hound to come get us. Remember what that dog did to that nut who killed your sister?

Daria: (Frowns) You had to bring that back up didn't you?

Jane: Aw hell, ....I'm sorry.

Daria: (sighs) It's cool. (Walks into the kitchen with Jane a few steps behind)

(Daria and Jane sit down at the table in the kitchen along with Maria and begin to consume the food they had all brought back.)

Jane: Hey Daria, as long as we were at the Chinese place we should have shown Maria that portal to Holiday Island.

Maria: (Stops eating) What, portal to where?

Daria: Nothing, it was all a bad nightmare brought on by bad Chinese food as far as I'm concerned.

Jane: (smirks) Like the stuff your about to eat?

Daria: (scowls) I hate you Jane.

Maria: Daria had a bad dream? What the hell are you guys talking about?

Jane: Daria and I shared some sort of psycho-tropic hallucination about spirits that embodied the American holidays and all went to high school on this island through a portal in the back of that Chinese place we went to today.

Maria: (stops eating for a moment while she decides to push her food away or not) Ah the hell with it, it sounds like a cool ass ride the two of you had.

Jane: Oh yea, especially when cupid jacked Daria's parents up with something that made them act all lovey dovey on each other.

Maria: That's not in this food too, is it?

Daria: Oh no, we took all of that out and saved it for ourselves. If anybody is going to have the power to control peoples love lives then it might as well be somebody who doesn't have one.

Jane: Incriminating yourself are you Daria?

Daria: I might as well, I seem destined to spend life alone anyway. Most of the guys on this planet are jerks and the ones who aren't are taken.

Jane: (smirks) Like Trent, eh Daria?

Daria: No, he falls into one of those in- between places. Which explains how He and Maria managed to find each other.

Jane: And what in-between place would that be?

Daria: Think about it, Trent is a narcoleptic musician with a really far fetched dream, and Maria.....Forgive me, no insult is intended, but you're a blind Scottish tree with a figure and an appetite that would make a super model jealous.

Maria: (not sure if she should be insulted or not) Um......thanks, I guess.

Daria: You two fit into the whole opposites attract space like matching pieces to a jigsaw puzzle.

Maria: (thinks for a long moment) Daria, ....are you jealous of me?

Daria: No! No, .....I'm not jealous. I'm just depressed that all the good guys are taken.

Jane: Well, don't feel so bad Daria. At least you're not in that boat alone.

Daria; Look, can we stop talking about this please.

Maria: Okay, enough about me and Trent. (Thinks of something Duncan had said to her once before and smiles before deciding to change the subject) So what happened on the last SSW episode.

Jane: (Looks at Daria and shrugs) Oh you would have loved it, there was this old lady who had her house built to look like a giant shoe. It was the most pathetic thing you've ever seen.....

(After a few moments of Jane talking, Daria joins in and the subject goes on until later in the evening.)

(Daria, Jane, Maria, And Cheyenne leave Daria's apartment at about eight that evening, after changing the subject and talking about other people's pathetic lives for a while seems to have lifted Daria's spirits for the mean time. They arrived at the Lawndale memorial ball park and after a long exhausting search Daria manages to beat some old guy out of a parking space by blitzing across the parking lot, sliding into the space and jamming on the brakes just in time to avoid hitting the car in front of her.)

Maria: (After exiting the car) Daria, I don't know what in the hell you just did but you should drive for Nascar or something.

Jane: Strangely enough, I was just thinking the very same thing. How about it, amiga?

Daria: No thanks, I'll stick to beating old people out of a parking space if you don't mind.

Jane: Suit yourself then. Off to the fireworks!

Maria: So how far of a walk is it anyway?

Daria: (looks to where the crowds of people are piling into the park) You would have to ask that.

Jane: Oh come on Daria, it's not that far. We just have a hoard of people to push past.

Daria: I don't suppose there's any chance we could just watch from here, is there.

Jane: Oh sure, we'd see all the of the colorful explosions but what if one goes off on the ground, would you really be able to live with yourself if you missed that?

Daria: (grumbles) Start walking, Jane.

Jane: (smiles) Oh I love you too, honey.

Maria: Whoa, is there anything I need to know about with you two?

Jane: (Gives Maria a pat on the ass) Oh nothing you need to be concerned about. (Looks at Daria as she tries not to burst out laughing)

Maria: Forward Cheyenne, quickly if you don't mind. I don't want our friend here to get any ideas. (Jane bursts out laughing)

Jane: Oh relax, Maria. We're just pulling your chain a bit.

Maria: I'll just keep my distance just the same if you don't mind.

Jane: Suit yourself. (The group begins their trek towards the field and as they arrive at their destination Jane speaks again) Did anybody bring a blanket to sit on?

Daria: You want to sit on the grass?

Jane: Well you didn't actually think there was a chance in hell we would be able to find a spot in the bleachers with all of these people around. This place is packed for gods sake, the fact that you had to beat some old guy out of a parking spot almost a block away from the field should have been a rather significant illustration.

Daria: I noticed the people problem thank you very much. I just shouldn't have worn this skirt, if I keep my legs crossed for too long I start to cut the circulation off in my legs.

Jane: Whoa, sounds like a personal problem.

Daria: Does everything have to be a sexual joke to you?

Maria: No, actually that's me you're thinking of. (Daria rolls her eyes)

Jane: I'll tell you what, let's see if we can find a spot on the grass towards the front, that way if you can't keep your legs closed then there won't be anybody to look back and see your undies.

Daria: (scowls) I can keep my legs flat on the ground you know. I just should have worn something else. Now drop it and find us a spot.

Jane: (impersonates Dr. Frankenstein's helper Egor.) Yes master, ...yes master. (The group moves as far forward as they can and make a place for themselves on the grass)

Maria: (looks at her braille watch) Hey we've still got twenty minutes yet. Jeez, you'd think the way people were fighting to get in here, that the thing was going to start any second.

Daria: Hey, compared to the Christmas rush this is a walk in the park so don't complain.

Maria: Granted, pushing through a crowd at Christmas time is down right unsafe.

Daria: (gets up and brushes herself off) I'll be back in a minute.

Maria: Daria, we just got here. Where are you off to already?

Daria: I'm going to go use the bathroom. I'll be back, so don't start to miss me just yet.

Jane; Aw Damn, and I was going to get a head start on my worrying too.

Daria; Aw, you sweet thing you. It'll be a shame when we have to put you to sleep, I just wanted you to know that.

Jane: (cringes) Oh, that was just cold Daria. I could see frost forming on your words.

Daria: (smirks) I'll be back in a few. (Daria walks off past the emergency equipment and toward the bleachers)

Maria: Are you two like this when I'm not around or is this something you do just to make me feel special?

Jane; Oh no, we're like this all the time. I'll bet when Daria was born, her first thought when she saw the doctor was, "I don't remember inviting you to this." (Maria Laughs) So as long as Daria's gone, tell me all the stuff you and Trent are up to when I'm not around. I need to keep my facts straight when I'm torturing Daria with this information.

(Cut to Daria walking back from the bathroom several minutes later)

Daria: God I hate sitting on the grass, Dammit now my legs itch. (Scratches at her left leg)

(As Daria is walking past the emergency vehicles on her way back to the grass to meet up with Jane and Maria, she hears a familiar voice call over to her.)

Voice: Hey Lassie....

Daria: (turns to look in the direction of the voice to see Duncan sitting on the large front bumper of a pumper fire engine) You again? Is it me or are you everywhere at the same time now?

Duncan: (looks confused as she walks closer to him) I don't understand....

Daria: I seem to run into you everywhere now. Are you following me or something?

Duncan: What are you talking about? I'm supposed to be here, I'm part of the response crew tonight. (Looks at her as if she hasn't understood yet) I'm a firefighter, it's my bloody job remember. Besides, it's been at least a couple of weeks since we've run into each other.

Daria: (thinks for a moment) Ok, I may have exaggerated a little. I tried to make it into a long time no see joke but it didn't quite come out the way I originally wanted.

Duncan: No problem, happens to me all the time.

Daria: And stop calling me Lassie, what am I your pet or something?

Duncan: Sorry lass....er, Daria. It's sort of a natural reflex I guess.

Daria: Comes with being a scot huh?

Duncan: As sure as you loose your luggage every time you fly. (Daria chuckles) So where is my sister and your friend Jane? I talked to Trent earlier and he said they were coming here with you.

Daria: They're here, we found a spot over on the grass. I just came by this was to use the bathroom.

Duncan: I'm not keeping you am I?

Daria: No, it's all taken care of.

Duncan: That's good to hear, nothing like tying a knot in the pisser while some daft nutball yaps his mouth off.

Daria: (raises an eyebrow) A knot in the pisser?

Duncan: (looks embarrassed) Oh bloody hell, I'm sorry lass....er, Daria. I should mind my tongue a bit, I guess.

Daria: (tries not to laugh) To be honest, when you try to visualize that statement it's actually pretty funny.

Duncan: I'm glad that you don't see me as a vulgar slob then.

Daria: Hey now, I didn't go THAT far. You're not a slob, and as far as vulgarity. I can put up with a small amount. Just don't start spitting it out left and right.

Duncan: Guess I'd better get the crazy glue then just to be safe.

Daria: (crosses her arms) You want to glue your lips shut? (smirks) Want some help with that? I love to watch people abuse themselves for the sake of preserving my innocence.

Duncan: I'll pass if you don't mind, I get the feeling you'd enjoy it just a tad to much.

Daria: (snaps her fingers) Damn.

Duncan: (gives the bumper a pat) Have a seat, you'll get a better view here if somebody accidentally sets himself on fire or something.

Daria: Um...I can't really. Jane and Maria are sitting on the grass waiting for me. Besides, I don't think they allow the general public this close to the fire equipment.

Duncan: (shrugs) If anybody asks, you're part of the crew. My buddies will vouch for you.

Daria: Uh huh, right. They'd do that for a complete stranger?

Duncan: No, they'd do it because you're a friend of mine. (Looks to see that Daria is not convinced, so he calls back to those at the rear of the truck) Hey guys.... (They stop what they are doing to look at Duncan) If anybody asks, Daria is with us tonight. (They all respond in their own way but none the less they indicated that they understand) (turns to Daria) Told you.

Daria: (pinches her sinuses) Not much for talking are they.

Duncan: They talk when it matters, that's what counts. (Gestures to the bumper her is sitting on) Have a seat Lassi....er, lass,...er, Daria.

Daria: (smirks) You're going to bite your tongue off if you keep trying to correct yourself like that.

Duncan: Aye, just make sure you know where my camera is when I do it, Who am I to miss my own sick pathetic moments in life.

Daria; Will do.

Duncan: So you'll stay and talk with me then?

Daria: (Gestures back to the grass where Jane and Maria are waiting and then pauses undecidedly before letting out a loud sigh) Um.........yea, I guess I could hang with you for a few minutes. It'll give my legs a chance to stop itching.

Duncan: I noticed that, I'm guessing they cut the grass a little too short this week. Damned stuff is like green sandpaper.

Daria: Yea, I couldn't help but notice the texture myself. Hence, the itchy legs.

Duncan: (gets up off the bumper and proceeds to a storage bin on the side of the truck to pull out a med kit) I think I've got something to handle that. (Pulls out a one time use packet and tears it open) Here, stick one of your legs out.

Daria: (Backs of a step) I'll pass thank you. I don't need some guys hands all over my legs.

Duncan: (looks slightly insulted) I'm not going to molest you or anything lass...., er Daria. (Holds up the packet) It's just aloe, it'll stop the itching so you don't end up scratching your legs to bits. But if I make you feel that uncomfortable then here. (Tosses the packet to her) Apply it yourself.

Daria: (looks slightly embarrassed at having reacted so harshly and waits several long moments before applying the aloe to her legs and then finally speaking) Um......., thanks.

Duncan: Aye, no problem. (Moves to sit back on the bumper at the front of the truck)

Daria: (pauses while in thought then decides to go out on a limb. She walks to the front of the truck and sits down beside him) The abbreviated version will do.

Duncan: (turns to look at her) Huh?

Daria: Lass, ......instead of lassie. It just sounds like your referring to me as if I were a dog.

Duncan: Ah, ....decided that seeing me bite my tongue off in effort to correct myself would just be a little so gruesome for you, eh.

Daria:(chuckles) Well yea, that and I'm afraid I would have to pick it up for you and carry it to the hospital so it could be reattached. That's just a little too nasty for my taste. (Duncan laughs) (pause) Um..., I'm sorry about biting your head off back there. I'm just used to being surrounded by jerks who would rather put their slimy hands all over woman just to say that they've had her.

Duncan: Water over the dam, lass. It was a perfectly understandable response. My sister had a similar problem back in eighth grade.

Daria: Do tell?

Duncan: Oh yea, there was this one kid, he liked to take advantage of the fact that she was blind by bumping into her on purpose so he could cop a feel. Bloody bastard probably couldn't get a date if he courted a chicken.

Daria: Eww.....

Duncan: So where was I, oh yea. She finally got tired of it and took care of the problem.

Daria: That's it, you're just going to leave the story at that? What did she do to the guy?

Duncan: (smirks) Just seeing if you were interested in hearing the rest that's all. Anyway, the kid was obvious. She could hear him coming, always cracking his knuckles, he was. So Maria brought in a stun gun she got from my mothers closet and when the kid was close enough to be certain it was him, ...ZAP. The kid woke up four hours later and for all I know was receiving FM stations through his braces.

Daria: (grins from ear to ear) Now THAT would have been a picture worth saving.

Duncan: Bloody shame though, Maria got suspended for a month for bringing a weapon to school.

Daria: You mean being CAUGHT with one, you'd find a weapon on almost every kid if they actually took the time to search them all.

Duncan: And you?

Daria: (points to one of her temples) My mind was my weapon, it was the best kind you could possibly have.

Duncan: I'd drink to that one if I HAD a drink.

Daria: Can't help you there, I only just getting ready to turn nineteen myself. But I'll take it as a complement anyway.

Duncan: You're only eighteen? You act so much more mature than that.

Daria: (surprised by this, blushes slightly) Eh well, what can I say. I had to grow up fast mentally to protect myself from countless mindless morons who continually attacked my sanity. So, ...you know my age. How about yourself?

Duncan: (chuckles) It's funny, typically it's death if you ask a woman's age. But it never seems to mean as much to ask for a guys.

Daria: Hey now, don't avoid the question. If you're that shy about it then just stomp your foot once for each year.

Duncan: That won't be necessary, I just turned twenty two myself.

Daria: Funny, I pictured you as older myself.

Duncan: (smirks) Must be the job, being so close to heat all the time dries out the skin.

Daria: (covers her ears at the sound of a test rocket going up and exploding) OW! Do they have to be so loud?

Duncan: (looks as a small flag drifts out of the sky from where the rocket exploded) They're checking for wind direction, you haven't even heard the first of the really loud ones yet.

Daria: Wonderful, I hope you have aspirin handy.

Duncan: Aye, we usually have some floating around somewhere. (Thinks for a moment and sighs) Well, I guess you've been keeping you're friends waiting long enough. You'll be going I imagine.

Daria: (gets up and prepares to leave only to pause and sit back down) Uh, ....I don't have to leave just yet. I doubt they've even noticed how long I've been gone.

Duncan: Are you sure about that? I don't want Jane and Maria to think you blew them off.

Daria: Eh, you have a point. But I did complain about my legs itching from the grass, they'll probably figure I found a spot in the bleachers and come looking for me any time now.

Duncan: Good point, it's better to stay in one spot so they can find you easier. (Daria laughs)

(Cut to the grass at the end of the field)

(Maria is lying flat on the grass as Jane sits with legs crossed while stroking Cheyenne's fur and occasionally scratching the dog behind the ears)

Jane: So does this dog EVER leave your side, even to use the bathroom?

Maria: Unless we're at home or I instruct her to do so, then no. If she needs to go or something then she gives me some sort of cue so I can let go and she can do her business. To be honest, she's the best dog I've ever had.

Jane: So Cheyenne isn't you're first then?

Maria: No, I've had two others. Scarlet, my first dog was okay as a seeing eye dog. But she wasn't fixed and when she went into heat she just went wherever the male dogs where regardless of where I needed to go. That dog met an unfortunate end when I let go of the leash this one time. She made a mad dash across the street to meet up with this other dog and got nailed by a car.

Jane: Bummer. It just goes to show you that you should never leave your best friend as a whole person if they are going to lead you around.

Maria: (chuckles) Note to self, spay or neuter all of my friends. Thanks for the tip, Jane. I'll keep it in mind the next time you and I are near a hospital.

Jane: (looks slightly worried) Hey now, lets limit that suggestion to the animal kingdom. I'd rather not wake up to find any unfamiliar scars on me or that a choice orifice has been sewn shut.

Maria: (cringes) You have no idea how nasty an image that just generated, Jane. Don't do that again.

Jane: Hey, I aim to please. (Looks at her hand to notice a hangnail and moves to bite at it)

Maria: (perks her head up) Has anyone ever told you that biting your nails is a bad habit?

Jane: (looks at Maria strangely) Nobody's hearing is THAT good. Are you sure you're blind behind those glasses? (Reaches over and removes Maria's dark glasses to show two dilated hazel orbs that on occasion moved about at random. After seeing this Jane replaces Maria's glasses with a slight look of disgust) Oh yea, you're blind alright.

Maria: You really needed proof?

Jane: No, ....I uh, ....just find it so hard to believe that YOU can hear a person biting their nails from a distance away, and yet OTHER people could have an elephant break wind in their faces and they would be oblivious to it.

Maria: Hey, no sight remember? My other senses had to compensate somehow.

Jane: Yea, I guess. (Looks at her watch) Hey, I wonder where Daria went off to. She should have been back a while ago.

Maria: She went to go use the bathroom or something didn't she?

Jane: Yea, but the line for the porcelain god couldn't possibly have been THAT long.

Maria: I imagine not, where did she have to go to get to the can?

Jane: Outside the fence and down past the fire trucks, why?

Maria: (smiles) There's your answer right there. She's been intercepted.

Jane: Intercepted? You make it sound like she was on some sort of covert op or something. It was just nature calling for gods sake.

Maria: She had to walk past the trucks, Jane. Which means my brother probably saw her and decided to talk to her. I didn't tell you he'd be here?

Jane: Can't say that you did.

Maria: Must have accidentally left that part out I guess. Eh well, Don't get your underwear in a bunch, she'll be back sooner or later.

Jane: (looks at the smirk on Maria's face) What are you smiling about? (Studies Maria for a moment) Oh god, ...are you setting your brother up? (Grins evilly) Why you sneaky.....

Maria; (changes the subject) So anyway, where were we? Oh yea, we were talking about my past dogs.

Jane: (looks at Maria with a snide expression and then decides to turn the tables) Eh, that's enough about the dogs. All that talk about getting people fixed sort of gave me a sour stomach over it. Let's talk about you, ....my brother, ....and that kilt. And don't spare the details missy, I want to hear the nitty gritty.

Maria: Daria was right, you ARE a voyure. (Jane grins evilly at the mention of this).

(Cut back to Daria and Duncan about half an hour later. The fist volley of rockets has begun to go up)

Duncan: It makes you think doesn't it? All of those rockets bursting into the air and exploding into oblivion.

Daria: It makes me think alright, about all of those migrant workers the fireworks company employs who probably lost a hand or finger putting those things together in lieu of "minor accidents".

Duncan: Well, at least those body parts weren't lost in vain. They make for a righteous show if you ask me. Just so long as those aforementioned parts don't start raining down on us, that is.

Daria: (smiles) Yea, I can see how that would put a tremendous damper on the evening. (The area lights up as another rocket explodes sending a loud boom beating against everyone's ear drums) Ugh, this is giving me a headache already. (Leans over to use his shoulder as a pillow) Do you mind if I borrow this?

Duncan: (almost does a double take at this little surprise) (vo) Well this is a switch. (Out loud) Aye, I guess. It's not very soft, lass. But it's yours if you want to use it.

Daria: (looks up at Duncan's expression) Don't flatter yourself, I just have a headache and I'm not ready to take an aspirin just yet.

Duncan: No worries, lass. (Daria leans back against his shoulder and closes her eyes occasionally jerking at the sound of an exploding rocket and believe it or not eventually fell asleep)

(Daria woke up about two hours later to the hum of a diesel engine and occasionally being blinded by the headlights of an oncoming car)

Daria: (sits up in the back seat of the fire engine cab) What the....?

Duncan: (sitting next to her) Ah you're awake. You were dead to the world there for a while, didn't you get any sleep last night?

Daria: (looks about, confused) Where the hell am I?

Duncan: In the truck, we're on our way back to the station.

Daria: What the hell am I doing in the truck? I was supposed to meet up with Jane and Maria. Oh god, are they still at the field?

Duncan: Relax lass, they're fine. They came to find you after the show was done but you were dead asleep. We didn't have the heart to wake you so Jane fished through your pockets for your keys and took Maria home in your car. I put you in the truck so you could sleep, I figured if you weren't up and about by the time we got to the station I'd wake you and take you home.

Daria: (annoyed) And how exactly would you have taken me home if Jane has my keys?

Duncan: (reaches into his back pocket and pulls out a thick key) This the key to your door is it? (Daria quickly grabs it from his hand)

Daria: I'll be taking that back now if you don't mind. I Don't need to wake up to any more surprises.

Duncan: I don't mind at all, oh by the way. Jane says she'll drop your car off in the morning.

Daria: (shakes her head) Jane behind the wheel of MY car, what is the world coming to? She had better get that car back to me in one piece, that thing is less than a year old.

Duncan: As long as she doesn't let my sister drive, things should go well I think.

Daria: Here's hoping.

(The truck slows down as it prepares to pull into the station)

Duncan: We're here already? What a short ride, it seemed longer on the way down. (After several moments the truck backs into the garage and everybody piles out and begins to lock away any loose equipment then everybody leaves to their own vehicles and heads home)

(Cut to Daria's apartment as Duncan walks her to the door)

Daria: You didn't have to walk me to the door you know.

Duncan: Why not, it's the honorable thing last time I checked. Besides, I wanted to prove that not all of us guys are jerks.

Daria: Yea, ...you're not so bad Duncan.

Duncan: Ah, enough of the mush lass. You're going to make me blush or something.

Daria: (smiles) Now what damage could that possibly do to a guy?

Duncan: Imagine a guys ego as a balloon going down like the Hindenburg. (Daria bursts out laughing)

Daria: Leave it to me to cause an emotional catastrophe. (Waits a moment) You CAN leave now you know, I'm safely to my door. (Beat) Or is there something else?

Duncan: Depends on how you look at it, I was just reflecting on how we seem to keep running into each other.

Daria: (fishing for more info) And...?

Duncan: I thought that maybe we should just schedule our random meetings. Put some order to things, you know?

Daria: (looks at him unenthusiastically) Are you.....asking me out, ....or something?

Duncan: Well, if you want to be cut and dry about it. Aye...

Daria: (looks at him with a slightly repulsed expression which slowly morphs into a slight smile) That has GOT to be the weakest request for a date I've ever heard. (Duncan looks down slightly expecting to be turned down) But,... it's also the most sincere I've heard. (Daria takes a step forward and gives Duncan a very light kiss on the cheek) I'll give it some thought and let you know.

(Daria turns to unlock her door and soon disappears behind it leaving a confused Duncan on the steps)

Duncan: I'll be waiting then..... (He turns and slowly walks back to his pickup truck)

The end........................

Footnotes :

1.) A reference to "Shadowed Wings", where Daria during a bout of insomnia drove about in middle of the night without noticing she was still wearing some of her bedclothes.

2.) Reference to "Issues" Where Daria got a parking ticket at the shore shortly before hitting a deer with her car on the way home. Also the segment of this series where Daria first meets Maria's brother Duncan.

Feedback is always appreciated, I may be reached at wildgoose81@hotmail.com