Daria, We Have to Talk . . .

(a.k.a. Something Didn’t Happen, Part Two)





Dammit, hurry up! Jane thought as the last period of the day dragged to a close. I’ve got better things to be doing than sitting here listening to you flap your liver lips about polynomials, Phelps!

Jane glared at the clock over her math teacher’s head, willing the last five minutes of the class to go faster. Algebra was already boring as dirt and Jane was in no frame of mind to concentrate on it.

Daria had disappeared on Jane right before lunch. She wasn’t at their usual spot on the roof and hadn’t turned up for any of the classes afterward. Jane knew this because she had not seen Daria in her homeroom, nor was she in her Advanced Placement Math class she after that. Consequently, Jane cut her Current Events class to continue the search, while dodging Mrs. Li and her security storm troopers at the same time, and began to take Lawndale High apart room by room.

Jane checked every girls restroom in the school -- nothing. She peeked into every class room she passed -- zero. Cafeteria -- zip. Gymnasium -- zilch. Nurses office -- empty. The stands around the football field -- Kevin and Brittany sucking each other’s face, but no Daria. She had just checked the auditorium, found nothing, and collided with a security guard on the way out. As she was being hustled off to math class, she asked him to keep an eye open for Daria, but was none too please with his lack luster response to her request. Jane idly wondered if she’d get detention for insulting his parentage like she had.


Well, it‘s about damn time! Jane thought as she stuffed her notebook into her back pack. She was one of the first three students to hit the classroom door, despite sitting almost all the way in the back of the room.

“Okay, first the lockers,” Jane said to herself as she threaded her way through the student traffic. “She’ll probably have to show up there at least once more. I’ll stick a note to her locker and -- Hey Jodie!!”

Up ahead, Jodie Landon started and turned around at the sound of her name.

“Hey, Jane,” Jodie replied, stopping so Jane could catch up. “Any luck finding Daria?”

“Nada,” Jane replied, sounding worried. “I turned this place upside down and I can’t find hide nor hair of her.”

“Well, if she hasn’t turned up yet, it’s a good bet that she’s left the school grounds,” Jodie said. “She seemed pretty upset. What’s wrong with her?”

“O’Neil’s eulogy assignment has sparked a replay of the Tommy Sherman thing,” Jane explained with a shake of her head. “Only worse. On top of that, she’s in the middle of a big blow up with Tom.”

“Wow. Bad?” Jodie sounded concerned

“Well, it sure as hell ain’t good,” Jane responded with a frown. “Look, I’m gonna hit our lockers. If you see her or hear from her, let me know, will you?”

“You got it,” Jodie replied as Jane jogged on ahead. “Let me know if there’s anything I can do to help.”

Jane responded with only an absent minded wave as she headed around the corner towards her and Daria’s lockers. She jogged up just as Andrea, whose locker was a couple down from Daria’s, closed her locker and started away.

“Andrea, you seen Daria?” Jane asked the retreating Goth girl.

“Not since history,” she replied as she walked off.

Dammit!” Jane banged her fist against her locker in frustration. “Daria, where the hell could you be?”

Jane quickly swapped a few books from her back pack and locker, then she started to go through the school again. She asked almost everyone she came across in the rapidly dwindling population of students if they had seen Daria, but either no one had, or no one cared. Finally, after looking for an hour, Jane gave in to the fact that Daria had ditched school altogether.

Jodie’s right, she must have gone home, Jane thought worriedly as she trudged through the corridors. I’ll go over to the Morgendorffer and make a pain of myself until they either let me talk to her or have me hauled away. And if that little snot Quinn answers the door, I’ll flatten that perky little nose of hers and then ask her where Daria’s at and --

For the second time that day, Jane collided with someone coming the other way as she was going through a door.

“Damn, must be my day to run into people,” Jane said, taking a step back and looking at the lady she had hit. “Sorry about that.”

Jane looked her up and down briefly as she stepped aside and kept walking. The woman had long blonde hair pulled back into a severe bun on the back of her head. She wore a white trench coat, white sweater with a thick turtleneck, and white slacks and boots, as well as deep blue, spectacle-type sunglasses.

“Don’t worry about it,“ the lady said. “But you’ll want to check the roof again. She‘s up there.”

“Yeah, thanks,” Jane replied absently as she kept on walking. She had already been up there, but . . . What the hell. It can’t hurt anything.

Jane started towards the stairwell again, shifting the weight of her back pack on her shoulders. Then she frowned as a thought suddenly struck her, making her come to a brief halt after a half dozen steps. Jane turned around and looked behind her, but the lady in white was nowhere to be seen..

Who the heck was that chick, anyway? Jane thought briefly before continuing on her way. Ah, who cares.

Jane pushed the door to the stairs open and started on her way up. She was an accomplished runner, and taking three flights of stairs two at a time all the way up was easy for her. As Jane topped the stairs and bounced to a stop, she took a couple of deep breaths to slow her breathing and reached for the door. She noticed that a small wedge had been stuck into one of the hinges in order to keep the door from closing. Daria had figured out how to do that after she and Jane had gotten stuck up there with Kevin and Brittany during that big wind storm some time back. That way the weight of the door held the wedge in, and it wouldn’t fall out unless someone deliberately took it out.

Why didn’t I notice that before? Daria’s got to be up here somewhere, Jane thought, mentally kicking herself.

Jane reached out and started to push the door open, and almost missed a step as someone yanked it open from the other side.

AHH!!” Daria yelped, stumbling back a couple of steps. “What the hell are you doing up here??”

“That’s a hell of a thing to say to a person who’s been tearing the Alcatraz of Lawndale apart trying to find you,” Jane said with a concerned look on her face. “I’ve been looking for you since lunchtime.”

“Jane, I’m tired, and I really don’t want to talk right now, okay?” Daria said, slipping past Jane and heading down the stairs. “Besides, I’m pretty angry with you as well for making that phone call to my mother.”

How the hell did she know about that? Jane stood there dumbfounded for a moment, blinking in the afternoon sun. She has a phone in her room, you dummy!

Jane turned and headed down the stairs and caught up to Daria just below the second floor landing. She quietly followed her out of the school, keeping her peace and trying to formulate how to talk to her Best Friend.

“Daria,” Jane said as she followed her down the sidewalk. “I’ve known you for two years now, and I know you are as stubborn as The Tank’s engine on a cold morning. I’ve seen you happy, sad, pleased, pissed, and even stoned out of your gourd on NyQuil!”

“Oh, god, don’t remind me,” Daria muttered with an embarrassed wince.

“Now, short you of tying me to a tree and shooting me, mi amiga, I am not going anywhere until I know what you’ve got going through that auburn haired head of yours,” Jane said in a tone that brooked no arguments.

Daria, however, was not in the mood. She took a deep breath and turned to tell her friend exactly what she could go and do with her self and . . .

. . . and let out a long tired sigh.

“All right, amiga,” Daria said, using Jane’s Spanish term for friend for the first time that she could remember. “You win. You can help me deal with Helen. Then there’s some stuff from the kitchen that I need to take out of my room. . .”

“Were you planning on setting up housekeeping up there for the duration of your imprisonment?” Jane asked as the two slowly walked down the street.

“Not really,” Daria replied. Unable to look at her friend, she turned her gaze to look at the pavement in the street for a moment.

“What then?” Jane asked, looking puzzled.

“Umm . . .” Daria wanted to tell her friend to go away. She wanted to tell Jane to just leave her a lone and let her work through everything and she’d call her in a couple of days. But she didn’t have the heart, or the energy. Her defenses were shattered and after the events of the past week, she didn’t have the willpower to keep a persistent adversary like her Best Friend at bay.

“Daria?” Jane asked tentatively into the ensuing silence.

“Jane, you and I have been through a lot,” Daria said quietly. “Are you sure that you want to go through this too?” She swallowed once. “You might not like some of it.”

“Why don’t you let me be the judge of that, mmm?” Jane replied.

“Okay, but don’t say I didn’t warn you,” Daria replied. “Um . . . Can I ask you something?”


“Why did you have to tell my mom about . . . well, about . . .” Daria couldn’t quite finish.

“Everything?” Jane finished for her.

“Um . . . yeah.”

“It wasn’t my first choice, that’s for sure,” Jane replied, putting her hands in her pockets and looking down at the sidewalk passing slowly beneath their feet. “But I thought it was the only shot I had left. I figured that if I could get her to understand what was going on, she’d drop the guard dog act and let me talk to you. Fat lot of good that did, she just clamped down even tighter. We really got into it there for a few minutes.”

“I didn’t hear that part,” Daria said. “I’d pulled the plug on my phone a little before that.”

“Oh,” Jane replied quietly, looking at her boots for another few paces before facing her friend. “Daria, I’m sorry. If I woulda known you were on the line too, I’d’ve kept my big mouth shut and just waited for your mom to hang up. But, you’ve gotta understand, after the way you were acting last weekend, and then the way you’ve been tearing the teachers up one side and down the other, and then there was the argument you and Jodie had on the roof, and your field goal attempt involving Upchuck’s nads, I was worried about you! Especially after your disappearing act today! I mean I’ve seen you put up walls before, but never like today!”

Jane put a hand on Daria’s shoulder and brought them both to a stop. Jane turned her so that the two girls were facing each other and looked onto Daria’s eyes. Daria looked like she didn’t have anything left -- no more willpower, no more emotion, no more . . . anything. It was as if it had all gone into putting up one last wall.

“Daria, I want to help,” Jane said quietly. “You are my Best Friend. Even if it means that you never, ever let me in again, I want to help.”

“Jane, I’m not sure that that might not be the case before we’re done,” Daria said, looking at the toes of her friend’s boots. “You’re the only who got in farther than Tom did. Then, when I heard you talking on the telephone with my mom . . .”

Daria turned and started walking again, slipping easily from Jane’s grip.

“What?” Jane asked, slipping into step with next to Daria.

“I felt betrayed, Jane,” Daria said in a quiet voice that cut deeper than any angry shout could have. “Betrayed by my Best Friend. That’s what hurt the worst. The one person that I trusted most in the world had just performed the one act that was the most damaging. My mother doesn’t understand the unique set of problems that I have to deal with, no matter what I do to try to get it through her thick head. You just gave her a whole new batch of ammunition to use on me to ‘get me out of my shell.’” Daria sighed. “Well, I tried. And look what it’s gotten me.”

Jane had to swallow a couple of times before she could reply. She’d had no idea that her conversation with Helen would have done this much damage.

“Daria, I . . .” Jane said in an almost-whisper. “I just . . . I hope you can forgive me someday.”

This time it was Daria’s turn to put her hand on Jane’s shoulder and pull them to a stop. She looked into Jane’s eyes and saw that they were shining wetly in the evening sun, tears clinging to her eyelashes before spilling down her cheeks.

“I’m sure that when I’m thinking logically again, I’ll realize that you did what you thought was right,” Daria said quietly. “And I appreciate that a lot. If I didn’t we wouldn’t be talking right now, and I would have told you to go and take a flying leap back on the roof.”

“You still could, you know,” Jane said, wiping her eyes roughly.

“I know,” Daria replied with an ever-so-slight smirk. “I still might.”

Jane looked up and saw the almost unnoticeable up-turn of one corner of Daria’s mouth. Sadly, not even her family knew her well enough to spot so subtle a change in her expression.

“But not today,” Daria finished, looking down the street. Her house was only a half a block away.

“Thank you, Daria.” Jane said with a quiet smile.

“Come on, Jane,” Daria said as the resumed walking. “Time to beard the lawyer in her den.”

“And me without my clippers,” Jane quipped sadly.


Daria and Jane walked through the front door of the Morgendorffer home as quietly as the could. Unfortunately for them, Helen had been paying close attention to the clock recently, and was on her way to Daria’s room as the two started up the stairs. They both blanched when they heard Helen’s voice

“Daria, you know you’re not permitted to have company,” Helen said darkly, fixing Jane with a glare. “Jane, I’m going to have to ask you to leave.”

“Mom, Jane and I have some things we need to discuss,’ Daria said with a sigh. “You already have a good idea what. When we’re done, you can lecture me to you’re heart’s content, if you like. But Jane and I need to talk.”

“Then you can talk on Monday,” Helen fired back hotly. “Until then - “

“Mother, please!” Daria said sharply, laying her head on the back of her hand on the end of the banister. “I am too burned out to argue about this. I am going up to my room, with Jane, and have a long conversation. When we’re done, we’ll come down and talk to you. All right?”

Helen raked both girls with her nastiest ’hardened lawyer’ glare, figuring Jane would break under it before her daughter would. True, thanks to Jane, Helen did know, at least in broad strokes, a fair amount of what had occurred over the past week. Though Daria’s face betrayed little, Jane’s was practically an open book compared to her. Helen suspected that there was a lot more to it than just being ‘burned out,’ as her daughter claimed.

“Very well,” Helen said, folding her arms in front of her. “But rest assured, young lady, we will be having a long, long talk about your behavior.”

“All right, Mom,” Daria said as they resumed climbing the stairs.

“Thanks, Mrs. Morgendorffer,” Jane said as she went.

“Don’t thank me yet,” Helen replied. “You’re not off the hook either.”

Jane didn’t give any indication that she had heard Helen’s reply, not that there was a lot she could do to her to begin with. However, she had no intention of leaving Daria in the lurch with her mother after they were through, either. Besides, Jane was planning on getting a few of her own digs in with Helen. She owed her a little payback.

“Pull up a bed,” Daria said as they entered her room and she pulled the door closed behind her.

Jane tossed her backpack at the foot of the bed and sat down on the bed above it, crossing her legs. Daria put hers on the desk chair and walked over and sat at the head of the bed, opposite Jane. She gazed into the blank screen of her television for a long moment, composing herself and mentally rehearsing how she should say what she had to say.

“When I was sitting on the roof, I was doing a lot of thinking,” Daria started slowly, turning to look at Jane. “Not so much in words, after a while, but concepts. I started thinking bout that remark that Quinn made, mostly because I didn’t want to be thinking about, well, what you did. I know Quinn’s not that dumb, despite how she acts, but she and her friends are being victimized by a culture that looks down on intelligence. It’s like, if your IQ gets beyond a certain point, you automatically go from being well liked to being barely tolerated. You look around at school, the media, the movies, they all push the same ideal: being pretty is better than being smart. Tom even implied that when I showed him that story last week, at least that‘s what it felt like.”

Jane watched her friend’s shoulders drop slowly as she spoke. She knew that Daria was never one to volunteer much where emotion was concerned, so she tried to pay as close attention as possible. Jane wasn’t sure what her friend was going to say, but she knew Daria well enough to be certain that is was coming from someplace pretty bleak, and that she wasn’t going to say it more than once.

“Do you know how hard it is to function in a world like that?” Daria asked, turning so that she was focusing Jane. “All I’d have to do is put on that stupid pink t-shirt and drop a hundred points off my IQ and I’d be . . .”

“Quinn,” Jane finished for her.

“No, worse -- I don’t know what I’d be,” Daria said with a shake of her head and a slight sniff. “I just knew that my Best Friend had thrown me to the proverbial wolves. I also knew that a young man I, amazingly enough, had come to really care about and thought had something to offer had turned out to be no better than the rest of the anti-intellectual world. I wouldn’t be able to survive in a world like that . . . And I didn’t intend to.”

“Wait a minute, I ‘m not sure I understand,” Jane said uneasily as she sat up a little, alarm bells going off in the back of her mind. “What do you mean you ‘didn’t intend to?’ “

“I didn’t intend to fight a battle that there was no ending to, so I was planning on writing my own ending. I don’t even remember consciously deciding to do it, I had just started . . . preparing.” Daria said, turning to stand up, but just sitting there with her feet off the edge of the bed with a wistful look in her eyes. “In fact, if you hadn’t come back to the roof, I probably wouldn’t be around for us to have a conversation with on Monday, like mom suggested.”

“You’re not talking just about taking O’Neill’s eulogy assignment a little too seriously, are you?” Jane asked, afraid that she already knew the answer to that one.

“No, I’m not. But it didn’t help,” Daria said, kneeling down and pulling something out form under the bed. Jane couldn’t tell what it was from where she was sitting. “In fact, it might have had something to do with my planning my own suicide.”

“You were WHAT?!?” Jane whispered, the color draining completely from her face. The pure horror of what had just been revealed to her was evident in her expression. Jane knew that everything that had gone on had gotten to Daria pretty badly, but never in a hundred million years would she have figured Daria for . . .

Daria stood up with a large, stainless-steel mixing bowl in her hands. Without setting the bowl down, Daria sat back down and placed it on the bed between her and Jane, before turning and crossing her legs so that the two friends were facing each other. Jane’s eyes were locked on the bowl, her right fist wrapped in her left hand, both held up to her mouth. She didn’t realize that she was biting her index finger.

“I don’t even remember when I grabbed this stuff,” Daria said, looking into the bowl. “I just remember going down to the kitchen one night after everyone was asleep and raiding the cupboards. I knew it was under there, I’m just a little hazy on when it got there.”

Jane leaned forward a little, praying that the bowl was empty, knowing it wasn‘t. Inside, she saw the wooden handle of some kind of knife. She reached in and, with her thumb and two fingers, picked up the utensil like it was the most foul thing on the planet. The blade on the knife wasn’t much longer than Jane’s middle finger, and the way the light caught the edge of the blade told Jane that it was surgically sharp.

“You hear about people cutting their wrists, but you can’t go too deep or you wind up cutting the tendon too,” Daria said absently as she looked into the bowl. “I bought a copy of Gray’s Anatomy a while back. There’s these veins and arteries that run the length of your forearm, and --”

“Omigod,” Jane blurted, dropping the knife back into the bowl as if the thing had suddenly twitched to life in her hand. Daria saw that the point of the blade had scratched the inside of the bowl a little. Jane covered her mouth with both hands and spoke through her fingers, looking between Daria and the bowl. “Oh my God! Y-you were gonna -- You mean you were really gonna . . .”

“Maybe I was,” Daria said, a single tear running down her right cheek. “But not anymore.”

Jane slapped the bowl off of the bed between them, sending it and the knife sailing across the room. The two items noiselessly bounced off of the padding on the wall and landed on the floor. Blessedly, the bowl landed on its rim, bounced once, and came to rest over the knife, removing it from sight.

Jane slid over and quickly snatched Daria up in a fierce hug. Daria didn’t have the strength to fight her off, and part of her didn’t really want to. Instead, she accepted the hug and embraced her friend in return.

“Oh God, Daria, if I’d have known it was getting this bad, I’d’ve done something sooner,” Jane said through a sob. “I don’t know what but I’d have done something!”

“It’s okay, Jane,” Daria said, her voice slightly muffled by Jane’s shoulder.

No it’s not!” Jane said emphatically. “I don’t know what I’d do if you’d . . . gone that way. I don’t know what I’d do if you weren’t around.”

“You’d do fine, Jane. You’re stronger than I am.”

“No, I’m not,” Jane replied. “Where do you think I get my strength from?”

In the back of Daria’s mind, a feeling of deja vu was sparked, however it was quickly quenched as, for the third time that week, tears that had been suppressed all day finally began to flow freely.

Out in the hall, Quinn walked by Daria’s room, holding a pair of brand new suede shoes in her hands. She stopped by her sister’s door when she heard something strange coming from the room behind. Quietly pushing the door open to see what was going on, she saw two Best Friends sitting on Daria’s bed, holding each other and sobbing quietly into each other’s shoulders.

Those two are weird, Quinn thought to herself as she closed the door again, unnoticed. She looked at her new shoes as she walked away. She’d have to ware them on her date tomorrow night.


Helen sat at the kitchen table, looking from the various pages of a legal file spread across the table top to one of a pair of legal pads in front of her, an ignored cup of coffee next to her. She was finding it difficult to concentrate on work that she usually found it so easy to immerse herself in. Now, her thoughts kept drifting back to Daria, and the odd turn that this week had taken.

Helen had to admit that there were times where trying to hold a conversation with Daria when she was on about something was akin to pulling teeth. Daria would usually fire the opening volley with one of her patented cynical one-liners and usually Helen would return with a little cold logic wrapped in motherly concern. They'd exchange a couple of salvos like that and, about half the time, Daria would tersely and detachedly explain what was going on. not this time, though.

Daria had never been one to handle naked emotions very well, the story that she had to write for O’Neil’s class last year was a case in point, and Helen tended to worry about that from time to time. Helen knew, thanks to Jane, about Daria’s argument with Jodie Landon concerning a speech that Jodie was uncomfortable about delivering. Daria and Jodie had gotten into a disagreement over an economics project some time ago, Helen knew, but had patched things up rather quickly afterward.

Those two would make good friends, if Jodie ever gave it a chance -- correction, if her parents ever let her, Helen thought as she took a sip of the cold coffee next to her. Now that Tom Slone . . .

Helen frowned over her cup at that thought. She had let him know in no uncertain terms that he wasn't getting through, no matter what. Then Jane had called not five minutes later and tried to talk her way past Helen. True, in the process, she had given Helen a few more details than she had before, but Helen was as unrelenting as Boulder Dam.

But, the more she thought about it, the more she began to think that she should have let Jane talk to Daria. Then there was the way Daria was acting earlier when she arrived with Jane. Something besides the fight with Tom must have happened, something on the same level . . . maybe worse? Whatever it was, it involved Jane, and Daria was not dealing with it very well. Daria dealt with things better with Jane around than with her own family, or on her own, for that matter.

There are times I wonder just exactly what kind of relationship those two have, Helen thought to herself. Better than anything I had with my sisters, that’s for sure.

Helen turned her head slightly when she heard the sounds of muffled conversation and footsteps coming down the stairs. She started to gather her files together and mentally gearing up for the encounter to come. She was placing the loose papers back into their folder when the two girls came around the corner. She was a little puzzled when she saw that Jane was carrying a large silver bowl.

“Hello, girls,” Helen said neutrally. She nodded at the bowl. “Where did you find that, Jane?”

“Uh . . . Daria’s room,” Jane replied slowly.

“I used if for popcorn a few nights ago,” Daria answered for Jane. “I just wasn’t in any big hurry to bring it back down. Sorry.”

“I don’t suppose it’s any problem, Daria,” Helen said as Jane put the bowl on the counter by the stove. “What is a problem, however, is your behavior over the last few days. Care to explain yourself?”

“Um . . . Did you have something specific in mind?” Daria and Jane asked as they both took seats.

“Actually, several things,” Helen replied, fixing Daria with her look. “Let’s start with your assault on that boy, Charles.”

“He was unfortunate enough to be in the wrong place and say the wrong thing at what could have been the worst possible time,” Daria said.

“The last thing that Upchuck will ever be known for is his tact or timing, Mrs. Morgendorffer,” Jane volunteered.

“Be that as it may, Jane, it’s still not an explanation,” Helen said.

“Well,” Daria began. “What happened before was that Jodie had come to me for some help with a speech that Ms. Li roped her into writing for this big hundred-dollar-a-plate dinner. Then she tells me that Ms. Li practically guaranteed her some kind of scholarship if she impressed the right people at the benefit. The worst of it all was that Jodie knows that the whole thing is just flat wrong -- it’s immoral, unethical, and probably illegal. Then I told her that there’d be no way I’d help her with something like that.”

“And that’s all?” Helen asked, correctly suspecting that there was more to it than that.

“Mm, more or less,” Jane said exchanging a glance with Daria.

“Yeah, more or less. Anyway,” Daria continued. ”After Jane and I left Jodie, Upchuck came up to us in the hall and made a pass at us using some slimy line about seeing his stamp collection. I was still really angry from that argument with Jodie, and when Upchuck opened his big mouth, I . . . “ Daria shrugged. “The next thing I know, he’s curled up in a ball on the floor, puking his guts out.”

“Yes, I see,” Helen said. “And that’s supposed to be a better explanation than ‘Charles has bad timing?’ “

“Well, if he’d simply not have said anything . . .” Daria said.

“Oh, Daria,” Helen said with a sad shake of her head. “As smart as you are, I’d hoped that you’d know by now that violence doesn’t solve anything. It only causes more problems down the line, as you’re finding out now, aren’t you? Daria? Jane?”

“Yes, ma’am,” Jane mumbled. Daria just nodded.

“Now, I didn’t get to be where I am by being slow on the uptake,” Helen said, looking back and forth between both young women. “This fight you’re having with Tom Slone factors into this somehow also, doesn’t it?”

Jane blanched visibly as the mention of Tom’s name. She could feel Daria close up next to her as Helen pushed the one button both girls were hoping to avoid.

Dammit dammit dammit!! Jane thought. Daria was right -- she threw Tom right into her lap at the first chance she got! Jane, you stupid bloody fool!

“I can see I’m right, the looks on your faces is proof enough of that,” Helen said, leaning forward on her elbows.

“Uh, Mrs. Morgendorffer, I know I really don’t have much of a leg to stand on but . . . “Jane started to say, but stopped when Daria put her hand on hers for a moment.

“Mom, I broke up with Tom yesterday,” Daria said quietly. “He ended up saying some things that really hurt me over the last few days. I know that you want me to talk about it, but I really don’t have the energy to deal with that subject right now. If he’s still willing to talk to me, maybe in a few days or so. But, not right now, okay?”

“All right, Daria, I won’t push. I’ll let you come to me on this one when you’re ready,” Helen said with a slight, familiar smile.

“Thanks, Mom,” Daria said tiredly, her shoulders slumping.

“As for you, Ms. Lane,” Helen said, in full “RoboLawyer” mode and fixing Jane with a harsh look.

“Aw, hell,” Jane muttered.

“There aren’t many people who’d have the audacity to do what you did,” Helen said. “I suspect that if your parents were around more often that they’d have something to say about your behavior as well.”

Actually, they’d probably be over here sitting on you right now if they knew what I know, Jane thought.

“Unfortunately, they’re not here, and I don't have the legal authority to level any kind of punishment against you for what you’ve done. However, I do have a couple of things that I’d like to say to you.” Helen took a deep breath before she went on.

“First of all, I want you to know that blatant defiance of authority will not get you anywhere in the real world. You’re damn lucky that it’s gotten you this far with me, because I was within my rights to have you physically removed. The next time something like this happens, don’t you dare even think about trying to get away with something like this again. Am I making myself clear?”

“Yes, Mrs. Morgendorffer,” Jane said quietly.

“However, should something like this happen again, I will try to be a little more open minded so it doesn’t have to go quite this far,” Helen finished, her voice softening some. “Second of all, I would like to thank you for being the kind of friend that is willing to go to those extremes for Daria. I think she’s very, very lucky to have found you when she did. Not too many people find friends like that.”

“Thanks, Mrs. M,” Jane said a little hoarsely. No one had ever said anything like that to her before. Dammit, now I can’t get back at her for that argument on the phone.

The sound of a stifled yawn drew Jane and Helen’s attention to Daria, who was covering her mouth in attempt to hide her fatigue.

“Looks like maybe we should put a bookmark in this conversation until a later date,” Helen said as she noticed how tired her daughter really was.

“I’ve just had a really long day, is all,” Daria said around the last of her yawn.

“Maybe I’d better go,” Jane said as she stood up. “You look like you could use some sleep.”

“Maybe a nap wouldn’t hurt,” Daria said as she stood up also. “I’ll walk you out.”

“Sure,” Jane said. She shot a quick glance at Helen. “Uh, if it’s all right with your Mom, call me when you get up tomorrow, okay?”

“It’s all right with me,” Helen replied. “But just remember, you’re still grounded.”

“Okay, Mom,” Daria said as they walked out of the kitchen.

“Hey, Daria,” Jane said as they walked through he living room. “I’m going to call Tom when I get home.”

“You’re not gonna --” Daria started to say, but spotted Quinn sitting on the sofa, engrossed in a magazine of some kind.

“No, I’m not,” Jane replied, following Daria’s gaze. “I’m just gonna tell him to cool his heels for a few days and that, when you’re ready, you’ll call him. Okay?”

“I can live with that,” Daria said, then a thought struck her. “Hey, what did you do with the, uh, you-know-what?”

“Don’t worry, amiga. It’s taken care of,” Jane replied as she picked up her backpack from where she had put it when they had come down. As she opened the door, she got a slight smile. “Say, do you remember that song Trent wrote last summer? You know, that one line?”

“ ‘ Till we come to bad ends, we’re Freakin’ Friends?’ “ Daria asked with her own Mona Lisa smile.

“No bad ends, Freakin’ Friend,” Jane said as she backed out the door. “Talk to you tomorrow?”

“Yes, you will,” Daria replied. “Later.”

“Adios, mi amiga.”

“Hey, Jane?” Daria asked, suddenly struck with a very weird feeling.

“Yeah?” asked, turning around.

“Do you remember that painting that you started a couple of days ago?” Daria asked. “It was about the time Tom and I had our break-up fight?”

“Uh, yeah,” Jane said, thinking for a moment. “It’s still isn’t finished yet. I’ve kind of had other things on my mind last week, y’know?”

“Could you do me a favor and finish it tonight?”

“I can try,” Jane said, looking confused. “It isn’t something that I can just turn off and on, y’know. Why?”

“I don’t know,” Daria said, looking as if she were concentrating rather intently on something. “I just had this strange feeling that, if you finish it, everything will work out okay.”

“Go to bed, mi amiga,” Jane said with a cocked eyebrow and a smirk. “You need some sleep.”

“Yeah, I do,” Daria said with another yawn. “Later.”

Quinn stole a glance behind her as Daria closed the door, then turned and trod tiredly up the stairs.

I said it before and I’ll say it again -- Those two are weird, Quinn thought as she turned the pages of her magazine. But, they’re okay.


Jane felt like the door to her house weighed a ton as she pushed it open. Today had turned out to be one of the longest days of her young life, and she fervently hoped that there weren’t too many more like this one scheduled for her future.

I can’t take many more days like this. But I couldn’t take any like . . . that, Jane thought, the last couple of hours’ conversations still painfully fresh in her mind. God, I’d never be able to handle a day like that.

“Hey, Janey,” Trent’s voice intruded from the sofa. His acoustic guitar lay on the floor and his lyric book was open on his lap. “Where ya been?

“Hey, Trent,” Jane replied, looking over at her brother. “Daria’s.”

“Long day?”

“Longer than I ever want to have again,” Jane said as she dropped to the couch beside her brother. She expertly tossed her backpack over to the foot of the stairs.

“How’s she doing? Still grounded?” Trent asked as he put the lyric book aside and picked up the guitar. Jane had kept him somewhat appraised of what was going on with Daria the last few days.

“She’s been better, I will admit, but she’s still alive,” Jane sighed, lying her head back. “At least for tonight.”

Trent strummed a couple of chords, then looked up as Jane’s words registered. “Huh? What do you mean?”

“Remember I told you that argument she and Tom had last weekend was bad?” Jane asked.

“Yeah,” Trent nodded.

“That was the tip of the iceberg. Things just went downhill from there,” Jane said, looking back up. “I just found out tonight how far downhill they went.”

“Whoa, it got worse?” Trent asked.

“Trent, it went way, way, way beyond worse,” Jane said tiredly, starting to tick things off on her fingers. “First she gets into another fight with Tom, and then into a big argument with Jodie. After that, Upchuck decided to be Upchuck and Daria lays him out with her knee, I’ll let you guess how, and gets a month’s detention for it.”

“Wow, that’s not like Daria at all,” Trent said with a worried frown.

“No shit, Einstein,” Jane said, staring off into space. Tears started to form at the corners of her eyes. “And then I had to go and make matters worse and make that dumbass phone call . . .” Jane wiped her eyes. “Dammit, Trent, I came so close to really screwing things up that I . . . that she was . . .”

“Hey, Janey, c‘mon,” Trent said, putting his guitar back on the floor and sliding over, closer to his sister. “What happened? It couldn’t have been that bad.”

“Yes, it was, Trent,” Jane sniffed, looking her brother in the eye. “Daria was going to kill herself.”

“Holy . . .” Trent whispered, completely floored.

“She’s not gonna, though,” Jane said quietly. “At least she said she’s not.”

“You think you should go back over and keep an eye on her?” Trent sounded worried.

“Nah, she said she’d call in the morning when she got up,” Jane said, wiping her eyes again. “I believe her, but . . .”

“But what?”

“Until that phone rings tomorrow morning, I’m not going to sleep worth a damn tonight.”


Tom Slone practically leapt across the living room to snatch the cordless hand set out of its base before it could ring a third time.

“Hello?” Tom tried not to gasp into the phone.

“Tom, it’s Jane.”

“Hey Jane. Any news?”

“Yeah,” Jane replied slowly, not sure where to begin. “Look, Tom, I don’t really know what I can tell you and what I can’t, here.”

“What’s going on?” Tom asked. He was getting more confused the longer this week dragged on.

“Look, Tom,” she said again. “This week’s been awfully hard on Daria, but she’s gonna be okay. Just be patient, and she’ll call you when she’s ready, okay? She wants to talk to you, but she needs some time.”

“Jane, what’s going on? What happened?” Tom asked gently, concern evident in his face and voice. “This sounds worse than just me putting my foot in my mouth. What is it?”

“That’s not for me to say, Tom,” Jane replied. “Just be patient. When Daria’s ready to tell you, she will.”

“Well, okay,” Tom replied. “This is going to take a lot more than just a first edition, isn’t it?”

Jane couldn’t help but chuckle.

“I’ll call you tomorrow. Later,” Jane said before she hung up.

“Yeah . . . Later,” Tom said to a dead handset.

Tom put the handset back on it’s base and sat down on the couch. He stared into the void of a blank television screen for a few moments before being interrupted by his sister dropping into the chair opposite the couch.

“Penny for your thoughts?” Elsie said, picking up the television listings from the coffee table.

“Mm,” Tom mumbled, not really paying attention.

“Was that Daria?” Elsie asked.

“No. Jane.”

“You and Daria are still on the outs, hmm?” Elsie asked, sarcasm creeping into her voice. “You screw something up again?”

“Mm-hmm,” Tom replied.

Tom was no fun at all when he didn’t fight back, so Elsie finally looked up from the television listings and took a good look at her brother. She couldn’t remember ever seeing him this consternated about anything before.

“Big screw up?” Elsie asked, genuinely concerned for her brother.

“Yup. I think I’m just getting an idea how big, too,” Tom said, not looking away from the TV screen. “And it’s starting to frighten me.”


Daria awoke the next morning to find that the vista of Lawndale from her bedroom window was covered by a rare blanket of fog. She wasn’t quite as well rested as she would have liked to have been, but her emotions had been running awfully high yesterday and last night. Like any other unused muscle group suddenly exercised vigorously, Daria figured that she would be emotionally tender for a day or two. A mental health day might be just what she needed now, since Friday had turned out to be completely the opposite of that.

Daria turned and picked her glasses off of the floor and put them on as she opened her closet. Instead of her usual black skirt, she pulled out the pair of black jeans that she had only worn once or twice before. She topped that of with her usual brown mustard colored t-shirt and, picking up her green jacket and Doc Martins, she slipped out of her room and headed downstairs, careful to step quietly so as not to wake the rest of the household.

Daria padded through the living room and into the kitchen, laid her jacket on the table and sat in Quinn’s usual place as she pulled on her boots. She looked up for a moment as the coffee maker came on with a gurgle at it’s preprogrammed time, then turned back to lacing up her boots.

I still have to call Jane, Daria thought as she threaded the laces through the eyelets of her left boot. She didn’t say she wanted me to call the instant I got out of bed. But still, maybe I should wait a little while. I wonder how she slept last night.

Daria topped her boot off with a regulation square knot and bow, then stood up and picked the cordless phone off of its base. She looked out of the patio doors for a moment before sliding one open and walking out. She walked a few paces out into the yard and took a slow, deep breath of the moisture rich air. She closed her eyes and held the breath for a moment as the cool air played across her face and bare arms, rising small goose bumps across her skin. The air smelled clean, like damp flowers and foliage and fresh earth.

Daria returned to the patio and sat down on the square of bricks facing out into the yard, crossing her legs in front of her. Turning on the telephone handset, she dialed Jane’s number slowly from memory. She smiled slightly to herself as the phone rang twice before someone picked up the other end.

“Yo,” Daria was surprised to hear Trent say.

“Trent?” Daria asked. “You’re up early, or late, as the case may be.”

Trent chuckled, which broke into a cough as it usually did.

“Actually, a little of both,” Trent replied. “Wasn’t able to sleep last night. First time that’s happened in a long time.”

“Yeah,” Daria said. “Jane around? She wanted me to call when I got up.”

“Yeah, she’s a sleep right now. She didn’t sleep too well last night either,” Trent said. “How’re you doing?”

“Um . . . Okay,” Daria said slowly. She wondered exactly what Jane had told him. “How are you?”

“Worried about the coolest high-schooler I know,” Trent said in a quiet, concerned way.

“Jane told you?” Daria asked, leaning her free elbow on her knee.

“A little, but she said she’d promised to keep it to herself, so I didn’t push,” Trent said. “Anyway --”

“Trent, was that the phone?” Daria heard Jane shout in the background, probably from across their house. “Is that Daria?”

“Yeah, Janey, it’s Daria,” Trent shouted back.

Daria just smiled to herself. She could imagine Jane tearing across the house, down the stairs, and into whatever room Trent was in.

“You told me you’d wake me up when she called, you fink!” Daria heard Jane snarl at Trent. Judging by the sounds, she clobbered him and grabbed the phone. “Hey, Daria.”

“Hey Jane,” Daria greeted her friend. “Remind me to exact a suitable retribution on you at a later date.”

“Hey now, I didn’t tell him everything,” Jane said petulantly. “Besides, he’s worried about you too.”

“Well, I supposed it’s okay if he knows a little,” Daria said with a sigh. “So, how’d you sleep?”

“Who says I slept? More like tossed and turned all night hoping the phone would ring this morning,” Jane said. “You?”

“All right, I guess. A couple of weird dreams, but nothing big,” Daria said, gazing through the fog and across the yard. “I’m just going to give myself a mental health day, I think.”

“Like yesterday?”

“No, not like yesterday,” Daria said wryly, straightening back up. “I just need to heal a little more, figure out what to say to Tom.”

“You gonna be okay?” Jane asked her Best Friend.

“Yeah, I’ll be fine. You gave me my catharsis, now I need my convalescence,” Daria said. “I’m just going to enjoy the fog for a while.”


“Look out your window, Lane,” Daria said with her Mona Lisa smile.

“Whoa!” Jane exclaimed after a moment. “Where’s my camera?”

“I’ll catch you tomorrow?” Daria asked.

“Damn right you will,” Jane replied. “By the way, I finished that painting.”

“I can’t wait to see it,“ Daria said. “Later, Jane,”

“Later, Daria,” Jane said.

The two Best Friends hung up their respective phones a moment later. Daria put hers in her lap while Jane, a few blocks away, tossed hers to her brother on her way to search for her Polaroid and some film.

Daria took her glasses off and placed them in her lap with the phone before rubbing the bridge of her nose with her thumb and finger. Figuring out what to say to Tom and how to say it would take most of the day. Whatever she decided, it would mean another emotionally draining day, but not remotely as bad as yesterday had been. But, there was time yet. For the present, though, she needed to concentrate on getting the rest of her own fractured psyche back together. To that end, Daria took another deep breath of the foggy air.

Behind Daria, unseen by her daughter, Helen walked in wearing her bathrobe and slippers to pour herself a cup of coffee. Turning to leave, she noticed Daria sitting on the patio just outside the open door. Helen looked on curiously for a moment, then smiled to herself as she left the kitchen as quietly as she entered.


The day continued on at a gentle, relaxed pace, something Daria was thankful for. Her father was out with a client at a brunch, while her mother was home for a rare weekend away from the office. Strangely, she didn’t ask the probing questions Daria had come to expect in situations like this, but stayed on her periphery, silently offering the kind of support that only a mother seemed to know how to. Daria found that feeling a little disconcerting, at first, but discovered that it did indeed help.

Daria had sat outside, watching the fog dissipate for about an hour or so. By the time she had decided to go back inside, the morning sun had burned off most of the fog, leaving only the hint of a haze in the air. Daria had picked her jacket off of the table, pulled it on, and had gone up to her bedroom. She had spent a fair amount of the morning working on her computer, alternating between her word processor and internet connection, when there was a knock at her door.

“We’re sorry, all our operators are busy at the moment,” Daria said, deadpan. “Please hold until after the next ice age.”

The door opened and Quinn walked in, shaking her head.

“Jeez, Daria, can’t you just say ’come in’ like everyone else?” Quinn said as she entered, glancing around. “God, I can’t believe your room st--”

“Quinn, if you value your perky little nose, please don’t finish that sentence,” Daria said with a pained expression on her face as Quinn closed the door.

“Okay, Daria, lighten up,” Quinn said, holding her hands out in front of her in a ‘stop’ motion. “I just wanted to ask you about something.”

“What would that be?” Daria said, leaning back in her chair and turning to face her sister.

“Well, normally I don’t pry into this kind of stuff, buuut . . .” Quinn started, sheepishly rubbing the back of her neck as she turned and sat on the foot of Daria’s bed. “Last night, I was walking down the hall and . . . Well, you didn’t close your door all the way and I heard something funny coming from your room and I opened the door and saw you and Jane on the bed and you were both crying and I know that you and that Tom person have been fighting and kind of all of a sudden today I realized that I haven’t ever seen you really crying like that and clobbering Upchuck like you did was cool and all but it’s just not like you either and I just wondered if you were like okay and if there was like anything that I could, like, do, you know?”

“Wow,” Daria said after couple of moments of amazement. “How the hell did you get all that out in one breath?”

“Daria, I’m serious,” Quinn said with a half amused, half irritated look.

“I know, Quinn. I‘m sorry.” Daria said. “You know that I had an argument with Jodie the day I kneed Upchuck, right?”

“Well, yeah, kind of.”

“Well, you have O’Neill’s eulogy assignment, and you remember what happened when that goal post killed Tommy Sherman?” Daria asked.

“Yeah, I remember talking to you about it,” Quinn said.

“Well, this eulogy project pretty much turned into the same thing, especially with Kevin and Brittany. The conflict with Tom didn’t help matters, and Upchuck just happened to be . . .”

“ . . .In the wrong place at the wrong time,” Quinn finished for her. “I heard you tell that to Mom last night.”

“At least I don’t have to explain it all again, then,” Daria said. “Anyway, to make a long story short, it all just sort of came to a head yesterday, and Jane helped me work through some of it.”

“You didn’t, like, tell each other you were lesbians, or something, did you?” Quinn asked slowly, a strange look on her face.

“What!? Oh, God,“ Daria moaned as she slumped in her chair and looked at the ceiling. “Don’t tell me that rumor’s making the rounds again!”

“Yep,” Quinn said resignedly. “But less and less people are believing it every time it gets out.”

“What’s the gist of it and who started it this time?” Daria asked, not moving.

“Uh, that you’re a lesbian and Jane’s actually straight and she dumped you,“ Quinn said. “I think Sandi started it this time.” She frowned in thought for a moment. “Come to think of it, I think she started it the last time, too.”

“Memo to me, maim Sandi at earliest opportunity,” Daria muttered to the ceiling.

“Tell you what, let me worry about Sandi,” Quinn offered with a slightly mischievous look. “You’ve got enough to worry about, with Tom and this dopey assignment and all.”

“Thanks, Quinn,” Daria said, sitting up. “I’m not worried about that assignment, though. I’m pretty sure I’ve blown it.”

“Why? Couldn’t think of anything to say?” Quinn asked, genuinely curious.

“No, that wasn’t the problem,” Daria said. “I actually had something that was pretty good. But, with everything that was happening last week, I just tossed it and came up with something that fit more with what was going on.”

“What did you give him?”

Daria rolled her eyes as she recalled what she had handed in.

“ ‘Everything passes. That’s what makes it endurable,’ ” Daria quoted from memory. “O’Neill’s probably going to want me to do a make up assignment on Monday.”

“Is that what you’re working on?” Quinn asked.

“No, this is something for that speech that Jodie has to make in front of Mike Tyson,” Daria replied. “I figured I should do something to apologize to her for being such a bitch when she asked me for help.”

“What about Tom?” Quinn asked.

“I honestly don’t know what I’m going to do about Tom,” Daria said with a sigh. “This is definitely not an area where I have a lot of experience.”

“In that case, do you mind a little advice?” Quinn asked, leaning back on her hands.

“Not at all.”

“Daria, when I see you with Tom, you’re happier than I’ve ever seen you. Despite that expressionless expression you always have. I can see it in your eyes.” Quinn said. “I know that it still bothers you about how you two hooked up. Some people who are supposed to be together really have to fight for it. Sometimes they might even have to fight each other for a while. But, everything I see when about you two when you’re together makes sense. You guys should keep trying.

“Did that make any sense?” Quinn asked.

“Actually, it does,” Daria said.

I guess I haven’t been giving her enough credit, she thought as another feeling of deja vu crept in.

“Well, I have to get ready for my date tonight. I’m gonna ware my new suede shoes,” Quinn said as she got up and opened the door to leave.

“Just stay clear of the laundry room,” Daria said with a smirk.

“Oh,” Quinn said, just before closing the door. “And I still can’t believe you room still looks like this!”

“ARGH! You said it anyway!” Daria yelled, slumping in her chair again, listening to Quinn’s amused laughter filter through the door, smiling to herself. Good one, Quinn.


The pavement of Lawndale’s streets passed beneath Jane’s sneaker clad feet at speed as she ran, the sounds of someone’s electric guitars in her headphones drowning out the sounds of the city. She only wished they could drown out the memories of the past couple of days. Ordinarily, running was a welcome release for her and she could readily lose herself in the rhythm of her feet on the pavement and in the cityscape passing before her eyes. Today, however, all it served to accomplish was to shake the memories of the past twenty-four hours or so to the surface. It also served to be a means to accomplish a small mission she had set for herself.

Daria’s telephone call that morning had taken an enormous weight off of her chest. Sleep had been next to impossible to come by the night before. Every time she closed her eyes and began to drift off, an image of Daria covered in her own blood clawed its way out of the depth of her mind. A couple of times, Jane had woke up bolt upright in bed and had to choke off a scream.

Finally, after Daria’s telephone call, and shooting about thirty “fog-scapes,” Jane had collapsed on the sofa for a few hours of restful slumber. She probably would have slept most of the day away, but there were other things that had to come first.

Unbidden, Jane’s mind crawled back through time to yesterday and recalled how she and Daria had spent a good portion of that afternoon -- crying on each others’ shoulders. Long, racking sobs had seized the two girls as the clung to each other. Jane had seized her Best Friend and hung on for dear life -- hers and Daria’s. Daria had grabbed onto Jane and seemed to be desperately drawing in the strength to keep going on, strength that Jane was only too happy to supply. After a long while, the two just sat and gently rocked in each others arms, one or the other of them sniffing occasionally.

“We probably ought to break this up,” Daria had said with a sniff.

“Yeah, ol’ Jake could walk in and have himself another heart attack,” Jane had replied with a weak smirk.

“Besides, Mom’s probably doing a slow burn right about now,” Daria had said as she released her friend and sat up, slipping from Jane’s grasp. “I’d better go down there and face the music.”

“I’m going with you,” Jane had immediately said.

“No, Jane. There’s little to nothing that she can do to you,” Daria had said. She pulled off her glasses and wiped her eyes. “There’s no sense in you going down there and letting my mother yell at you for something I did.”

“Daria, there’s no way in hell I’m going to let you face ‘Helen the Red’ by yourself,” Jane had said as she stood up with her hands on her hips. “Especially not after what I just found out tonight!”

“Alright,” Daria had said with a sigh. “It’s your funeral.”

“Let’s not talk about funerals for a good long while, okay?” Jane had said with a pained shudder as she picked up her pack. “Look, the worst that she can do is throw me out. It’s not like she can or take away my allowance or ground me or something.”

“I wouldn’t put it past her to try,” Daria had replied. She stood up as well. “I better take that stuff back to the kitchen.”

“No, let me get it,” Jane said quickly, stepping over to where the big silver bowl had landed.

Jane lifted the bowl up from where it had landed when she had slapped it away earlier. The knife lay on the floor, and Jane looked down at it for a long moment. Behind her, she had heard Daria walk over to her computer desk and pull a couple of tissues from their box. As Daria blew her nose, Jane picked up the knife and slipped it into one of the side pockets of her backpack. The two girls left the room a moment later.

That same knife now rode in Jane’s hip pack, wrapped in an old painting rag and tucked securely next to her CD player.

Jane’s route that afternoon had taken her past the Morgendorffer‘s, where, externally at least, nothing seemed amiss. She then proceeded along her usual route to school, where she turned west and proceeded past the Lawndale Mall. Jane followed the secondary highway that ran behind the place for about a half a mile until her destination was in sight.

The old road bridge out west of Lawndale hadn’t changed much over the last couple of years. It was a little more weather worn, and maybe missing another brick or two, but it was still pretty much as Jane remembered. Jane had come out here once before. A few months after Jane and Daria had met, Jane had a falling out with her own mother and had taken off running into the night. She had come out to this bridge and spent the night under one of it’s arches. Jane had slept through that night and most of the next day. When she had awoke, it was pouring rain. Common sense, and a lack of any actual preparation had forced her to remain in the shelter of the bridge.

When she hadn’t turned up at home that morning, Daria had rallied a major portion of the Lawndale student body in a huge search effort. Daria had remembered that Jane had told her about the bridge, and she, Trent, and Jesse had been the ones to find her.

Daria had saved her that night, and Jane couldn’t think of a more perfect place to do what she had planned.

Jane easily slowed to a stop over one of the bridges arches, below her ran a small river that Jane knew bordered on some golf course. She pulled her headphones back around her neck and stood there listening to the water’s flow beneath her as she caught her breath.

Yeah, Jane thought. This’ll be perfect.

Jane reached into her hip pack and pulled out the paint cloth and its contents. She stood there for a moment before she slowly unwrapped the pigment stained cloth from around the knife. Jane held it up loosely in her fingers, turning it so that the sunlight caught the blade. It would be a simple matter just to reach out and drop it into the rushing water below, but Jane felt that would be somewhat unsatisfying, over just a little too quickly. She looked up to the point on the horizon where the banks of the river met it and each other.

I can hit that, Jane thought, taking a step backwards and shifting her grip further back on the handle of the knife.

Jane cocked her arm behind her, took a deep breath, and, stepping forward, threw the knife for all she was worth, punctuating it with a grunt. She was able to easily follow the utensil's flight as it sailed through the air, spinning end over end, the sunlight catching the blade. Jane watched as the knife reached the top of its arc and began to drop back towards the river. If she had not been following the blade’s flight, she would have missed the small splash it made as it penetrated the surface of the water, blade first.

Jane stood there for several minutes, looking at the distant impact point as the river waters rushed over it. She felt like she should have come up with some wise crack to send after the knife, but nothing came to mind. So, simply with a nod, Jane replaced her headphones and turned and headed east. At first, it was a slow walk, but that turned into a fast walk, which became a slow jog, and then turned into a fast jog. Finally, at a slow run that she could have probably kept up for the rest of the afternoon, Jane was able to loose herself in the rhythm of her feet on the pavement.


Once she finished her project for Jodie and started her printer running, Daria turned to the somewhat more difficult subject of what to do about Tom. She didn’t really have an exact plan for this, but she needed to deal with this problem quickly, regardless of how it ended up. Quinn did have a point about one thing -- Daria was definitely not comfortable with how she and Tom had gotten together. Once she had worked past her initial mistrust and jealousy -- yes, it was hard to admit, but she had been jealous -- then they had started to get along. The rest was history.

Another valid point that Quinn had made was that Daria was indeed happy when she was with Tom. Happier than she had remembered being in quite some time, actually. She liked being happy, but she was too much the realist to allow herself to take all of that sugar, so to speak, without looking for the inevitable dose of salt that was sure to come.

Well, you didn’t see this one coming, did you? The cynical part of Daria’s mind chided.

Didn‘t see it coming at all, Daria thought. Caught the full dose, too.

So, what are you going to do about it?

Good question. Wish I had an answer.

Tennyson’s infamous quote “’Tis better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all” floated to the surface of her thoughts. Once the Tommy Sherman thing had pretty much sorted itself out, that particular quote had come up in her Language Arts class. Daria had immediately put it into more contemporary language -- emotional involvement brings pleasure and extraordinary pain, but it’s better than feeling nothing at all. At the time, she would have agreed with it, but that was a long time before she had been on both sides of the statement.

Well, I came close enough to feeling the nothing at all part, Daria thought.

Daria really had to wonder about the “loved and lost” part of that quote too. Logically she knew that she was entirely too young to be worrying about that at this early an age. It was also obvious to her that there was a very good chance that she would run into this particular dilemma a few more times as her life progressed. She could only hope that she wouldn’t handle those times as badly as she had handled this one.

But, this whole thing begs the question -- am I in love with Tom? Daria thought as she stood up and began to pace the breadth of her room. In the cold, intellectual light of logic, the answer to that one has to be “no.” However, emotions and logic are hardly on the same side all the time. But, if I’m not in love with him, how come I let him get so far inside? How come I let him into the one spot where he could do the most damage?

But you did start this whole thing didn’t you? the cynical side of her chimed in again. You showed Tom your story and expected him to tell you what you wanted to hear, that he thought it was the greatest thing since cheese fries. But since you didn’t tell him it was yours, he told you exactly what he honestly thought of it.

Daria stood there for a moment, letting the realization sink in.

Oh god, I did do that, didn’t I? Daria thought with a wince. So if this whole mess is my fault, why did that “brainiac” remark hit so hard?

Because you know he’s smarter than those ciphers that you go to school with. If any one of them had said it, you would have blown them off with barely a second thought. But, since he’s the one that said it, and you think that he’s closer to your own intellectual level, it hurt that much more. Besides, you expect it from them, not him.

Okay, there are several points there, all of which make sense, Daria thought. I guess that the same things could be said about his crack about reflections on death being right up my alley.

Something else that you would expect from anyone else at Lawndale High. But not Tom.

No, not Tom, Daria thought, lying down on her bed and gazing up at the ceiling. It really makes you think.

Isn’t that supposed to be my line?

Oh, stuff a sock in it, Daria thought with a slight scowl. The question still stands -- What do I do about Tom?

Sorry, but that’s a question for your heart. Not your head.

Using both hands, Daria pushed her glasses up on to her forehead and pinched the bridge of her nose between her index fingers, trying to stave off a headache that was slowly building. She was decidedly out of her depth when it came to dealing with this thorny subject. Some outside impartial advice on this subject was desperately needed, and there was only one person that Daria could think of that she trusted enough to go to for it.

With a tired sigh, Daria rolled out of bed and went to seek out her mother’s permission to make a long distance phone call.


A couple time zones away, Amy Barksdale was sitting cross-legged on her living room floor, her laptop computer on the coffee table in front of her, when here telephone rang. With a well practiced twist, she snagged the handset off of the end table and turned it on with her thumb.


“Hi, Aunt Amy. It’s Daria.”

“Hey, my favorite niece,” Amy said with a smile. “To what do I owe the pleasure? Thinking about getting contacts again?”

“No, I only use those when I secretly moonlight as a bartender up in Middleton,” Daria replied.

“Cool. Let me know when you’re working and I’ll swing down. I haven’t had a decent Sex On The Beach in years,” Amy replied, pushing her laptop out of the way so she could lean on the coffee table. “What’s up?”

“Umm . . . I really need some advice on something, and everyone around here is just a little to involved for an objective opinion on the subject,” Daria said slowly.

“Sounds serious. What’s going on?” Amy asked, her practiced ear picking up on the change in Daria’s tone of voice.

“Well, you remember I told you about my boyfriend Tom?” Daria asked.

“Yeah, you told me that you two got together at the beginning of last summer,” Amy replied, recalling some of the gorier details that Daria had told her about in a letter she had sent around that time. “Am I going to get to meet him one of these days?”

“Well, that’s kind of what I wanted to ask you about,” Daria started, then took a deep breath. “About a week ago, I showed him a story that I had written, but I didn’t tell him that, and asked for his opinion.”

“Let me guess, he didn’t like it, “ Amy said.

“Hated it would be a more accurate description,” Daria said. “Then I told him who had really written it and he got mad at me for playing head games.”

“Ouch,” Amy said with a wince. “Daria, that was probably . . .”

“ . . . Not the smartest thing I’ve ever done. No kidding,” Daria finished. “So, we didn’t talk to each other for a couple of days, and I finally let Jane cajole me in to calling him up and getting together with him to try to patch things up.”

“Uh huh.”

“This is where it gets a little complicated -- Mr. O'Neill, our English teacher, gave us this assignment where we have to write our own eulogy. Remember, I told you about the Tommy Sherman thing?”

“Football alum who got squashed by a goal post.”

“That’s the guy. Anyway, everyone in the class starts running to me again, this time only worse,” Daria continued. “So when I meet up with Tom, we start talking about things and stuff, and I tell him about the assignment. He made some kind of remark about reflections on death being right up my alley, something I can sink my teeth into.”

“Oh, boy,” Amy said, leaning back against her sofa. “Do you think he said it deliberately to get back at you for the story thing?”

“No, I know he didn’t. In fact, when he got there, he apologized right away for what he’d said before. He was just letting his mouth run faster than his brain again,” Daria said. “I just . . . Essentially, I told him it wasn’t going to work, said ‘goodbye’ and walked out of the pizza place.”

“I sense a ‘but’ coming in this story,” Amy said as she pulled herself up onto her sofa to ward off her legs falling asleep. “Has he tried to get in touch with you?”

“At least once that I know of. However, due to what I’ll call ‘extenuating circumstances,’ I have been grounded and mom wouldn’t put the call through. Jane tried to talk her way around mom too, but that didn’t work either,” Daria said. “I caught part of that call. Kind of wish I hadn’t.”

“Yeah, Helen’s kind of a tough nut to crack when it comes to stuff like that.”

“Tell me about it.”

“So, now that I have the background information, my clairvoyant powers tell me you want to know if you should try and make up or stay with the break-up,” Amy said. “How close am I?”

“Right on target,” Daria said.

“It sounds like Jane and Tom are pulling for the make up.”

“They are, and so is Quinn, I just found out, but . . . “ Daria said, then stopped.

“I knew there was a ‘but’ in here somewhere,” Amy said with a slight smile. “Go on, ‘but’ what?”

“Well . . .” Daria started, then stopped again. Amy frowned a little, wondering what exactly happened to her niece. “The problem is that, with Jane’s trying to fix things with mom, and Tom’s not thinking about what he’s saying, they both . . . “

“What’s the matter?” Amy asked, concern evident. She knew Daria to be decidedly more well spoken than this, so whatever happened had to be a lot more serious than Daria was letting on. “Are you okay?”

“Let’s just say I came awfully close to doing something extremely dumb, and because of it I’m rethinking a few things,” Daria slowly finished. “I’ve forgiven Jane. Misery Loves Company is almost the motto of our friendship, and she knows everything about the last week or so. But I don’t know what to do about Tom. I mean I . . .well . . .”

“You want to try and get him back, but you’re afraid of getting hurt again?” Amy asked.

“Thanks. I don’t think I could have said that,” Daria replied quietly. “Yes, I do and yes, I am.”

“What do you want to do?” Amy asked.

“That’s just it, Aunt Amy, I don’t know!” Daria said, sounding more than just a little lost. “I should be able to figure out what to do about this and act on it, but every time I think I’ve come do a decision, I start to second guess myself.”

“Oh, Daria, honey, I wish I had an answer for you. I really do,” Amy said with a sigh. She stood up and walked around the room a little as she spoke. “Using logic to make an emotional decision usually works about as well as using a flame thrower to put out a house fire. You’re not going to find the perfect guy the first time out, and you’re going to go through something like this a lot more times than not. Look at me, I’m in my forties and I still haven’t found Mr. Right yet. The only real advice that I can offer is this: Trust your feelings to guide you in the right direction, then trust your smarts to figure out how to get there. If you can’t, you’ll know it.”

“Thanks, Aunt Obi-Wan,” Daria said with a smirk that Amy could almost hear. “I’ve always had rotten judgment where stuff like this is concerned.”

“Daria,” Amy said with a genuine smile. “I have yet to encounter anyone who has good judgment where that stuff is concerned.”

“Thanks, Aunt Amy,” Daria said.

“Any time, Daria,” Amy replied. “Let me know how things work out, huh?”

“I’ll send you an e-mail with all the gory details. ‘Bye, Aunt Amy.”

“Bye, Daria. May the Force be with you.”

Amy thumbed off her telephone, and tossed it on the sofa as she walked over and sat back down. Pulling her laptop over in front of her, she closed what she had been working on and brought up her date book. Then she began clearing out the next weekend for a trip to Lawndale.

I really don’t see enough of them, Amy thought with a smirk. I owe Helen a couple of gray hairs, anyway.


“Slone residence,” Daria heard a female voice say.

“Hello. Elsie?” Daria asked.


“This is Daria Morgendorffer,” Daria said, secretly glad that Tom wasn’t the one answering the phone.

“Well, hello Daria,” Elsie said. “Long time, no see. How are you doing?”

“I have to admit I’ve been better,” Daria said. Is Tom there?”

“Yeah, he’s outside somewhere. Do you want me to try and find him for you?” Elsie asked.

“That’s okay, Elsie. Could you deliver a message for me instead?” Daria asked.

“Sure,” Elsie said. “What’s the message? Something appropriately scathing, I hope.”

“I’m afraid not,” Daria said. “Could you ask Tom to meet me at Pizza King at about six on Monday?”

“Sure thing, Daria,” Elsie said as she jotted the message down on a handy message pad. “Do you mind if I ask you something?”

“I suppose not, as long as you don’t hold me to an answer,” Daria said.

“What’s going on between you and Tom?” Elsie asked. “Did my idiot brother say or do something profoundly stupid?”

“Yes, but in retrospect, it’s nothing that I didn’t precipitate,” Daria replied sullenly. “Why? What did he say?”

“Nothing much, just something yesterday about getting an idea how badly he blew it,” Elsie replied, glancing out her living room window. “He’s been pretty closed off for the last couple of days, so he hasn’t told me much of anything.”

“Oh,” Daria said.

“I’ve never seen him this bothered about a relationship before, not even when things started to go sour with Jane,” Elsie said. “I’d say that he’s got it pretty bad for you, Daria.”

“Oh, um, thanks for letting me know,” Daria mumbled, thankful that no one could see her cheeks turn red. Thanks a heap, Elsie, that’s really going to make this easier,

“Don’t tell Tom this, but I hope everything works out,” Elsie said. She sounded like she genuinely meant it.

“Thanks, Elsie,” Daria said. “I’d better get off the phone. You’ll see that Tom gets the message?”

“Consider it done.”

“Thanks again, Elsie. Goodbye.”

“‘Bye Daria.”

Elsie hung up her phone and tore the page off of the message pad before heading out into the expansive yard in search of her brother. She found him after only a few moments, sitting on one of the swings on the old wooden swing set. He was absent mindedly kicking the ground beneath the swing with his toe, and letting himself sway slowly.

“Hey, Tom,” Elsie said as she took the vacant swing. “Penny for your thoughts?”

“I’m afraid the opening bid’s gone up to a nickel,” Tom said, not looking up.

“Greedy,” Elsie returned. “Daria called. She wanted me to give you a message.”

“She did? What did she say?” Tom asked, coming to a sudden stop and looking Elsie right in the eye.

“She wants you to meet her at Pizza King at six on Monday,” Elsie said, handing Tom the sheet from the message pad.

“Oh,” was all Tom said.

“Okay, exactly what the hell did you do this time?” Elsie asked with something between a smirk and a scowl.

“What do you mean by ‘this time?’” Tom asked. He was able to hold out under her look for about ten seconds, then broke with a sigh. “The last time we got together, we were going to make up from the argument we were having before. Then she tells me about this assignment she has in her Language Arts class where they have to write their own eulogy.”

“God, what kind of a sadist is that teacher?” Elsie commented with a wince.

“He’s a real piece of work, alright, but he’s a wet noodle, from what Daria told me,” Tom said with of a nod. “So we get to talking about this assignment and I made some kind of comment about being and nothingness and how that kind of stuff was her thing. From what Jane tells me, Daria took it to mean that I said that death and dying was her thing.”

“That’s nuts!” Elsie said.

“That’s about what I said,” Tom replied. “Do you remember all the hoo-ha about two years ago when that L.H.S football player got killed?”

“Vaguely,” Elsie replied.

“Apparently, from what Jane told me, everyone went running to Daria looking for advice on how to cope with the whole thing. Evidently, it was thought that she spent her time thinking about that particular subject,” Tom explained, then looked away with another sigh. “And without knowing I was doing it, I threw the whole thing right in her face.”

“So, what did she do?” Elsie asked.

“Got up, said ‘good-bye,’ and walked out,” Tom said.

“No no no, I mean she said she did something to precipitate it. What did she do?” Elsie asked, looking confused.

“I beg your pardon?” Tom asked, looking confused.

“When she was on the phone, I asked her if you’d done something dumb, and she said that it wasn’t anything that she didn’t precipitate,” Elsie said. “So what did she do?”

“Uh . . . She wrote a story and showed it to me saying that she found it on the internet,” Tom said slowly. “I didn’t know it was hers and I said . . .”

“That it sucked?” Elsie asked. She didn’t wait for an answer, knowing what it was. “Jeez, Tom. You are a total moron.”

All Tom did was wince.

“You know, Tom, I hate to admit it, but I like Daria,” Elsie said, standing up. “I hope you guys get back together, but you two have got to stop playing these games.”

Tom just sat there as Elsie walked off.


Sunday quietly came and Sunday quietly went. Daria called Jane again, completed her pending homework, and then lost herself in the spy world of Melody Powers. Jane slogged through her own homework, thinking all the while that it would be easier with Daria’s assistance, and then started what turned into a series of paintings. There were a couple that she couldn’t wait to show Daria.

Daria’s usual routine of going to Jane’s before taking a slightly different route to school was changed when, not more than half a block from home, Trent’s blue beater pulled up. Jane opened the passenger door and slid out, looking at Daria over the top of the car.

“Hey there, amiga,” Jane called out. “Is it just me, or are you headed in the opposite direction of glorious ‘Laawwndale Hiiiiigh.?’”

“Well, I had intended to get a certain obnoxious artist out of bed, but I suppose she can suffer,” Daria said as she walked out to Trent’s car. “You, on the other hand, appear to be inordinately chipper for this time of day.”

“Oh, what can I say? I slept unusually well last night,” Jane said with a dismissing wave. “Lift?”

“Don’t mind if I do,” Daria said as Jane got back in and slid to the middle of the front seat. Daria slid in next to her and closed the door. “So who’s idea was this?”

“Hey Daria,” Trent said as he started the car in motion.

“Hi Trent,” Daria replied.

“Actually,” Jane said in response to Daria’s question, smirking slightly. “This was Trent’s idea.”

“Really?” Daria asked. She leaned forward a little to see past Jane. “You wanted to do this?”

“Uh, yeah,” Trent said, turning a little red in the cheeks. “I just figured that you’d have had a long enough weekend and probably wouldn’t want to walk all the way to school.”

“Thanks, Trent,” Daria said, a little taken aback. “Um, that’s really sweet.”

“Mmm, you’re welcome,” Trent said with a small smile and turned a little redder.

Daria smiled to herself as well. The last time she had seen him smile like that was when she’d gotten her naval pierced on Jane’s last birthday.

“So, uh,” Jane started to say. “Not too press to hard on a potentially sore subject, but, uh, did you talk to your mom or dad yet?”

“No, I haven’t,” Daria said with a sigh, looking at the road outside.

“You really should, you know,” Jane said. “At least you should talk to your mother. You said it yourself, if they find out any other way --”

“-- They’ll have me in a wrap-around jacket in a real padded cell so fast it’ll make your head spin,” Daria finished for her friend. “At least that’ll be Dad’s first reaction. Mom tends to get pulled down too, when Dad goes off the deep end like that.”

“Oh,” was Jane’s only reply.

“I’ll talk to Mom tonight after I’m done with Tom,” Daria went on. “Once she knows, it’ll be easier to talk with Dad about it. It’d probably be better if he didn’t find out at all, though. But I fully suspect that Mom’ll tell him sooner or later.”

“How do you think Helen will react?” Jane asked.

“I’m not entirely sure, but I’ve got a couple of ideas,” Daria replied. “But it’ll be easier to handle Mom than it will be Dad when he’s in full freak-out.”

“I don’t know,” Jane said.

“Me neither, but it’s the only plan I’ve got,” Daria sighed. “Hey Jane? What did you do with the, uh . . .”

“You know the old road bridge out west of town?”

“You mean the one you spent the night under a long time ago?” Trent asked, glancing at his sister.

“That’s the one,” Jane said.

“What did you do?” Daria asked.

“Took it out there and threw it in the river,” Jane said, looking at Daria.

“Hmmm,” Daria said, looking thoughtful. “I think I see your symbolism there. I like it.”

“I thought you would,” Jane said with a half-smile, which Daria returned.

They rode in silence for a few more minutes before Trent pulled into the circle drive in front of Lawndale High’s main doors.

“Hey, Daria, come around for a second?” Trent asked as Daria opened the door and climbed out to let Jane out of the car.

“Sure, Trent,” Daria said as she walked around to the driver’s side. “What’s up?”

“Well, you know Janey told me a little about what happened and what you were gonna do,” Trent said.


“Well, she told me a little more yesterday, and, uh,” Trent said slowly, looking between Daria and the car’s instrument panel.

“Yes, Trent?” Daria said, not sure what he was trying to say.

“Uh . . .” Aw man, just say it you idiot! “I, uh . . . well, if you need anything, like to talk, or what ever, just let me--uh, let Janey and me know, okay?” Trent finally managed to say. “We’ll always be around if you need us. “ If you need me.

“Thanks, Trent. I will,” Daria said quietly, touched at what Trent was trying to say.

”Okay, love birds, break it up,” Jane said loudly. “We’ve got to get to class.”

“Yeah, we’d better,” Daria said, stepping back from the car.

“Later,” Trent said as he slowly pulled away.

“Speaking of ‘love birds,’” Daria said as she stepped back up onto the curb. “Guess what Quinn told me is going around the school rumor mill for the umpteenth time?”

“Hmm, gee, knowing Quinn, that could be anything,” Jane said with mock seriousness. “An outbreak of mono among the unpopular?”

“Nope,” Daria said as they entered the school.

“Someone claimed to have caught O’Neill and Barch in the act?” Jane asked with a smirk.

“That was Upchuck last month,” Daria replied, barely suppressing a shudder. “Not that, but you’re getting warmer.”

“Well,” Jane said, frowning in concentration. “If it’s not Barch and O’Neill, and it’s not some dread high school ailment, then what other well ground tidbit of gossip could be . . .”

Jane came to a dead stop and looked at Daria, who smirked at the look of slightly disgusted disbelief that crossed Jane features.

“Oh no,” Jane said, already knowing the answer. “Not again!”

“Afraid so, Jane,” Daria replied as they started walking again

“For crying out loud, when are these idiots going to stop believing that we’re lesbians every time someone makes the suggestion!” Jane almost growled. “Who started it this time?”

“Sandi. Quinn tells me Sandi started it the last time, too,” Daria said.

“I say we chloroform the little bitch, strip her to her skivvies, and lock her in the maintenance closet with Upchuck,” Jane said dangerously, clearly relishing the idea. “It’d be a dream come true for him.”

“I don't think that it will be necessary for us to do anything, this time,” Daria said as she spotted the Fashion Club crossing the corridor ahead of them. Unseen by Stacy, Sandi, or Tiffany, Quinn looked over in Daria’s general direction and caught her sister’s eye. The mischievous look Daria had seen Saturday returned briefly, and Quinn shot Daria a nod and a quick wink before disappearing into a classroom with the other three. “Quinn appears to already have something planned.”

“Did she tell you what she had in mind?” Jane asked as the two girls came up to their lockers.

“Nope. I kind of had other things on my mind, so I didn’t ask,” Daria said as she opened her locker. ”But I can’t wait to find out.”

“Me neither,” Jane said, then glanced at her watch. “C’mon, we don’t want to be late for Econ.”

“Yeah,” Daria said with a sigh. “Let’s get this day over with.”


Mrs. Bennett’s Economics actually went fairly smoothly, considering it was their end of section test that everyone had known about for a week. Daria was actually quite thankful for the exam, because it gave her almost a third of the period to herself, sort of. She had come to a decision over what to do about the eulogy assignment, especially considering what had gone over the weekend. She figured that he might make her come up with some extra credit assignment in order to make up the score. If he wanted to make an issue out of it, she could bury the man in extra credit assignments if she wanted to.

Once Economics was over, Daria and Jane walked towards Mr. O’Neill’s classroom.

“You ready for this?” Jane asked Daria as they walked.

“About as ready as I’ll ever be, I suppose,” Daria replied.

“Look, considering recent events and what he’s going to be asking for in there, I’ll cover for you if you’re not okay with this,” Jane said. “You just head for the library, and I’ll tell him you’ve got a stomach ache or something.”

“Jane, relax. You don’t have to worry,” Daria said. “I’m not going to go break into the dissection kits or anything, okay? You can stop acting the mother hen now.”

“Oh dear!” Jane said in her grandmotherly voice, faking a sniff. “Our little girl’s cut the apron strings and wants to go out without her old mother!”

“Oh, bite me,” Daria said as they entered the classroom.

Unfortunately, they were the first ones there.

“Oh, Daria,” O‘Neill said as the two girls came in the room. “I’m glad you’re here. Ever since Friday, I’ve been meaning to talk to you about your eulogy assignment. I’m not sure you understood what I was looking for. What you gave me, ’Everything passes, that’s what makes it endurable,’ that sounds more like an epitaph. Was there something --”

“Actually, Mr. O’Neill, I know what I gave you,” Daria interrupted as she walked over to the desk. “I’m not going to be able to complete your assignment. Events of the past week have forced me to rethink a few things and, in regards to your eulogy assignment, I’ve come to the conclusion that only the supremely arrogant write their own eulogy.”

“I see,” O’Neill said slowly. “Well, I can certainly see where that may be true. But, surely you have some aspirations as to what you would like to have said --”

“Mr. O’Neill, to be honest about it, by the very nature of the thing, I’m not going to be in much of a position to care what’s said and not said,” Daria interjected. “People are going to say what they’re going to say, and that will be that. If we’re going to have any influence on what’s to be said, it should be by the way we’ve influenced others while we’re here, not because we wrote what they’re supposed to say ourselves.”

“I’m not sure I completely understand, but I can respect your point of view,” O’Neill said. “You do realize, though, that I’m not going to be able to give you any credit for what you have handed in.”

“I understand,” Daria replied. “Actually, Mr. O’Neill, I’d like to take back what I have submitted as well.”

“I guess I can do that,” O’Neill said, handing Daria her paper back before turning to face the rest of the classroom. “Does anyone else have similar problems with their assignment?”

Daria turned her head and looked out at the sea of faces that had filled the room while she and Mr. O’Neill were talking. Evidently, most of them had heard enough of their conversation to make some kind of connection with their assignments before O’Neill spoke to them. Daria could see that Jodie, Mack, Jane, Andrea, and quite a few others that she couldn’t immediately name were seriously considering what Daria had said.

“Um, Mr. O’Neill?” Jane asked, raising her hand. “Actually, I think I want to take back my assignment too. Daria’s right. These are for other people to do for us when the time comes. Not for us to do now.”

“Mr. O’Neill,” Mack said. “I’d like my assignment back also, please. This whole thing didn’t feel right from the beginning.”

“I have to agree with Mack,” Jodie said also.

“I’d like mine back too,” Andrea said from her place near the back.

After that it was like a row of dominos falling, one student and then another. Buy the time all was said and done, almost two thirds of the class had requested their projects back. Even though he didn’t really understand it all, O’Neill returned them with no complaint. He had thought that he was challenging them into stretching their creative muscles a little with an interesting assignment.

“Well, I must say, class, I had no idea that this was going to be such a disturbing assignment,” O’Neill said as he handed back the last paper. Suddenly he brightened. “I know! Since you find writing your own eulogy so unsettling, why don’t you write someone else’s! What do you think?”

Daria just groaned and put her head in her hands.

“Are you sure that’s really such a wise idea, considering?” Mack asked with a cocked eyebrow.


Quinn’s gym class took place in the morning, only one period before lunch. This morning, for some reason, Mrs. Morris must have been in a particularly sadistic mood, and not only because she for made them run -- really run -- until they had worked up a disgusting sweat. Then she forced them to play volleyball until all the Fashion Club’s morning makeup work was totally ruined.

“Ugh. Stacy, the first item on the agenda for the next Fashion Club meeting will be determining how to avoid perspiration induced makeup problems,” Sandi said with a tired groan as the four girls entered the locker room.

“Right, Sandi,” Stacy replied.

“Good idea, Sandi,” Quinn said as she glanced in the mirror. “There has to be a way to keep his from happening. Look, an hour’s worth of work, completely ruined!”

“I know,” Tiffany drawled. “This is so wrong.”

“Hmm,” Sandi said as she began rummaging through her locker. “It seems that I have misplaced my bottle of jasmine scented body wash.”

“Oh, I’ve got some body wash,” Quinn said as she opened her locker and retrieved a fancy looking bottle. “It’s lilac, though.”

“Hmm, I guess it will do,” Sandi said with a disdaining look. “Thank you, Quinn.”

“Oh, any time, Sandi. Any time,” Quinn said with a forced smile.

“Quinn, is it true about your sister?” Tiffany slowly drawled. “You know, that she’s, like, a . . .um . . . thespian?”

“That’s ‘lesbian,’ Tiffany dear,” Sandi said, quickly hiding an evil look.

“What? Ugh, like I’d ask her about something like that,” Quinn replied with a scowl.

“Ugh, that is so, so wrong,” Tiffany said with a shake of her head. “Hey, Quinn, can I try your body wash too?”

“Oh, please, Tiffany, be my guest,” Quinn said with another forced smile.

“Thanks, Quinn,” Tiffany said slowly as she and Sandi headed for the showers.

“Enjoy!” Quinn said to the departing girls as an evil smirk crossed her lips. I know Daria and I will.


“Well, that wasn’t so bad,” Jane said to Daria as the two threaded their way through the halls. “It was pretty cool of Mr. O’Neill to give us credit for that eulogy thing, even though most of the class took theirs back.”

“Yeah, if I would have known it was that easy, I’d have done it a week ago and saved myself a lot of headaches,” Daria said.

“Hey Daria, Jane,” the two girls heard Jodie say as she came up from behind them. “How exactly did you talk Mr. O’Neill into doing that? Giving us our assignments back and then giving us the credit too?”

“I just wanted my paper back,” Daria said. “It was just too weird, even for me. The rest he did on his own.”

“Yeah, it was kind of disturbing,” Jodie said. “Speaking of disturbing, do you two know what’s going around the school?”

“We already know,” Daria said. “Quinn told me about it on Saturday.”

“Yeah, evidently Sandi started the old ‘Jane-and-Daria-are-doing-the-Big-Nasty’ rumor going through the mills again,” Jane said.

“By the way, Quinn said that the rumor is that you dumped me because you’re really straight,” Daria said in her characteristic deadpan. “Remind me to get you for that later, you bitch.”

“I’ll add it to the list, you slut,” Jane returned in her own deadpan, eliciting an eye-roll from Jodie. “Right below the public humiliation of Sandi Griffin.”

“Speaking of which, here comes the Fearsome Foursome now,” Daria said, noticing the Fashion Club coming out of the corridor that lead to the gym.

“Uh, is it just me, or do Sandi and Tiffany look a little . . .green?!” Jodie asked slowly, not quite believing her eyes.

“Oh my God, you’re right!” Jane said with a wide-eyed chuckle.

“Whoa!” Daria exclaimed.

It was true. Both Sandi’s and Tiffany’s faces, hands, arms, and legs (if Tiffany’s were any indication) were liberally covered with long, sea foam green smears. Tiffany looked vacantly embarrassed more than anything, but Sandi’s expression alternated between mortified and livid as she passed people in the hall and talked to Quinn.

“Honestly, Sandi, I had no idea that lilac body wash was going to react like that!” Quinn was saying in her best innocent-little-me voice. “There’s got to be something in the water in the gym showers or something to make it do that.”

“God, Kuh-winn,” Sandi snapped. “I would have thought that you had more sense than to blithely hand out potentially devastating beauty products to your friends like that!”

“Oh, wow, Quinn,” Stacy said, sounding worried and relieved at the same time. “Just think if you would have used it!”

“Yeah, I know!” Quinn said with a eyebrow cocked in Daria’s direction as the four walked by. She saw Daria nod, her Mona Lisa smile threatening to turn into a grin.

Really, Stacy,” Sandi shot back over her shoulder. “If that’s the way you feel, maybe you should move to name Quinn prrresident of the Fashion Club.”

“Eep! Uh, no Sandi, I --” Stacy stammered before Quinn came to her rescue.

“Oh, Sandi, you know I could never replace you!” Quinn interrupted fawningly. “Besides, you shouldn’t talk that way, stress is bad for your skin.”

“And this isn’t?”

“Sandi, don’t worry, the school nurse will have something to take care of it. You’ll see,” Quinn said.

“All I can say is she’d better!” Sandi snapped again as the four entered the nurse’s office.

“Eww!” Nurse Chase was heard to say before the door closed.

It was all Daria, Jane, and Jodie could do not to crack up as the four were walking by, but now that they were out of sight and earshot, the three friends started chuckling madly as they walked.

“Yes! Devine retribution!” Jane crowed, lifting her fists into the air. “And we didn’t even have to lift a finger!”

“Quinn said she was going to deal with Sandi, but I had no idea that it was going to be something like that!” Daria said, shaking her head. “I am definitely not giving that girl enough credit at all.”

“Oh, that was priceless, absolutely priceless!” Jodie said, wiping her eyes. “What do you suppose she used?”

“No idea,” Daria replied. “But I’m going to start keeping my shampoo under lock and key for a long time to come, that’s for sure.”

“Amen,” Jodie smiled.

“Well, I’m off to my math study hall to listen to Old Liver Lips,” Jane said as they came upon Daria and Jodie’s homeroom. “Catch you two at lunch.”

“Bye Jane.”

“Later,” Daria said as she and Jodie entered the room. “Listen, Jodie, I want to apologize for what I said up on the roof on Friday, and . . . “

“Really, Daria, it’s okay,” Jodie said as the two sat down.

“No, it’s been bugging me all weekend,” Daria said, opening her back pack. “Look, I can’t really say that I’m comfortable with working on that speech, especially where someone like you-know-who is concerned. I’m not going to sit down and actually help you write the thing, but I’m not going to leave you hanging, either.” She reached into her pack and pulled out a small stack of papers and a computer diskette. “Here’s some stuff I put together over the weekend to help you write your speech. I hope it helps.”

“Actually, Daria, you needn’t have bothered,” Jodie said as she took the materials. “It turns out that the conditions of Tyson’s parole aren’t going to allow him to come to Lawndale after all.”

“But what about the benefit?” Daria asked.

“Oh, I still have to make a speech at the benefit, but at least when I look in the mirror afterward I’ll be able to look myself in the eye,” Jodie said.

“Daria! Jodie!” Brittany squeaked as she came into the classroom just as the bell rang. “Did you guys hear what happened to Sandi and Tiffany?”

“No,” Daria said flatly.

“What happened?” Jodie asked, equally as flatly.

“They were in the showers and wound up getting a bottle of defective body wash and when they used it it started getting all foamy and before they could get it all washed off it turned them green all over and they had to go to the school nurse!” Brittany said, rapid fire. “Now the girls’ showers are all green until the janitor can get it cleaned!”

“I’m sure Pavlov has something that can get it cleaned up,” Jodie said.

“Wow, maybe Sandi and Tiffany should have went to him instead,” Brittany said, twirling a ponytail around her finger.

“I don’t think so,” Daria said. “Industrial strength solvents have a tendency to take off layers of flesh as well.”

“Wow...Hey, Tori! Did you hear what happened?” Brittany said, heading towards the back of the room.

As Jodie and Daria watched her go, both of them saw that the back of her neck and part of the back of her head were now sea foam green.

“Snxkyx!!!” Jodie tried to smother a laugh as Daria just shook her head and smiled.


As six o’clock approached, Trent’s car pulled into the Pizza King parking lot. Once again Daria and Jane shared the front seat with Trent as they drove from school to the restaurant. Neither Daria or Jane were especially surprised to see Tom’s rust stained Jag sitting in the parking lot.

“Isn’t that Tom’s car?” Trent asked the girls.

“Uh-huh. Looks like he got here ahead of us,” Jane said.

“Looks like,” Daria said, looking a little nervous.

They all sat in silence for a few long moments before Trent finally broke the silence.

“Sooo . . . “ Trent said, looking at Daria and Jane.

“Soo . . . “ Jane said, looking between Trent and Daria.

“So,” Daria said, looking at the door to the pizza place. She reached down and opened the car door.

“Daria,” Jane said, stopping her. “Are you sure you’re okay with this?”

“Good question. Only one way to find out,” Daria said after a moment, then got out of the car and closed the door.

“I’ll call you later, okay?” Daria leaned in through the window and said before walking to the door of the restaurant. She opened the door and stood there for a moment before going inside.

Trent and Jane sat there for another couple of long moments, both of them looking at the door to the restaurant.

“Hey Trent?” Jane asked.

“Yeah Janey?”

“You hungry?”

“I could stand to eat,” Trent said with a nod.

“How’s pizza sound?”

“Sounds pretty good,” Trent said as he put the car in gear and pulled into an open parking place.

A few moments earlier, Daria walked into Pizza King and looked the place over once. She spotted Tom sitting in a booth near the back. It was coincidentally the same booth that they had had their last conversation in. She walked across the room and over to the booth, noticing along the way that there was a large pizza with a couple of slices missing on the table, as well as two sodas and a big basket of bread sticks. One of the “missing” slices lay on a plate in front of Tom, un touched, while the other lay on a similar plate across the table from him, pointing at the empty bench.

“Tom,” Daria said as she walked up.

“Hi, Daria,” Tom said, looking up.

“What’s all this?” Daria asked, eyeing the spread on the table.

“I didn’t know if you’d be hungry when you got here, so I took the liberty,” Tom said, standing up as much as the booth would let him and gestured to the empty bench. “Join me?”

“Thank you,” Daria said as she slid her backpack into the bench ahead of her. She took a sip of her soda as she settled in, attempting to drown a couple of the butterflies that had suddenly become extremely active in her stomach. She took a breath and tried to say something, but found that the words just wouldn’t come.

She glanced up at Tom and saw that she was apparently in the same quandary. For a moment, Tom looked like his vocal cords had suddenly failed him in mid-syllable. They looked at each other for a moment before they let out the breaths that they had been holding and looked down to examine their respective pizza slices.

“Daria, I --” Tom said, looking up.

“Listen, Tom --” Daria said at the same time, also looking up.

The two stared at each other, then sheepishly looked back at their pizza.

“Tom, I wan--” / “Listen, Daria --”

Tom and Daria looked at each other for a second, then both of the chuckled quietly.

“I thought that kind of thing only happened on television,” Tom said, idly scratching the edge of his plate with his index finger.

“I guess the world’s been taken over by sitcom writers,” Daria said.

“Not all of it, I hope,” Tom said.

“Tom, I’m sorry,” Daria said with a sigh, looking a little misty-eyed behind her glasses. “I started this whole thing by not telling you that I had written that stupid story to begin with. I shouldn’t have done that. I don’t know what I was thinking when I did it. I still don’t know. Then there was all that eulogy assignment crap going on, and I guess I let it get to me. I overreacted.” I just hope you never find out how badly. “I didn’t mean to. Having everybody beat a path to my door just because they’re of the impression I’m preoccupied with the darker aspects just got to be too much. Then, what you said the other day was more than too much, and I think that I read something into it that you didn’t intend. I’m sorry.”

“I’m sorry too,” Tom said. He started to reach across the table and take Daria’s hand in his, but hesitated and crossed his arms in front of him, instead. “I never meant to call you a ‘misery chick,’ even in the back handed way that I did. And even if you feel you did overreact, I still should have been thinking. Jane told me about what happened with that Tommy Sherman fellow, and I never even thought that this would be turning out to be the same thing. And you were right about what you said the other day, sometimes I don’t think ahead about what I’m saying. It’s caused more than a few arguments, that’s for sure.”

“I can imagine,” Daria said.

“I could tell you stories that would turn your hair gray,” Tom said.

“I heard about a couple form Jane,” Daria said, intently examining her pizza slice. “When you ate the gummy bears that Jane was using for an art project, and something about your performance on a web cam.”

“She told you about that, huh?”

“Actually, I saw part of it, and Jane filled me in on the rest,” Daria said.

“I suppose I should have figured she would,” Tom said.

The two just sat there for long minutes, not saying anything, and just enjoying each other’s presence.

“Sooo,” Tom said slowly. “Mutual forgiveness, and whatnot?”

“Yeah, mutual forgiveness,” Daria said quietly. “I guess there’s a lot of that ‘mutual forgiveness’ stuff in these relation-date-ship things, huh?”

“Yeah, quite a bit, actually,” Tom said, reaching out again and, this time, taking Daria’s hand in his and giving it a long, gentle squeeze. They were brought back to reality when Tom‘s stomach make a quiet gurgling noise. He looked down at his abdomen and chuckled. “You hungry? These gut-wrenching conversations really take a lot out of you.”

“I am kind of hungry, now that I think about it,” Daria said with her Mona Lisa smile. “After all, you did go through all the trouble of buying.”

“Yeah, I suppose it was a bit of a challenge,” Tom said. “Picking out toppings and all.”

“Yeah, a challenge,” Daria said, as they sat for another moment, neither one of them making the first move to eat. “Pizza’s getting cold.”

“I suppose,” Tom replied.

Neither of them moved.

Watching from across the room, hidden in their own booth, Trent and Jane witnessed everything that had transpired. They had slipped in, unnoticed by their quarries as Daria had just sat down. The two were so intent on each other that they never noticed Trent getting slice for himself and Jane. Now they just sat and watched the two sitting there in their booth in the opposite corner of the pizza place, holding hands and ignoring the food around them.

“You know something, Trent,” Jane said as she picked up her slice. “Now that I look at them, those two do make a cute couple.”

“Yeah, I suppose,” Trent said, his eyes narrowing a little. “You and Tom made a cute couple too, you know.”

“Yeah, maybe,” Jane replied around a mouth full before swallowing. ”I don’t know, though. If he could talk art like he can talk books, maybe we’d still be together.”

“Maybe,” Trent said. “You ever think about it?”

“Think about what?” Jane asked, noticing that Daria and Tom had started eating their pizza.

“You and Tom getting together again?” Trent asked.

“I used to, I guess. Not so much any more though,” Jane said, then got a smirk on her face. “Have you ever thought about it?”

“About what?” Trent asked with a similar smirk. “You and Tom getting back together?”

“No, you lug-nut,” Jane said with a glance at her brother. “I mean you and Daria getting together.”

“No comment, now eat your pizza,” Trent said. He had that strange, unidentifiable little smile that Jane had seen occasionally ever since her seventeenth birthday, when Daria got her naval pierced.

Hmmm, I really gotta wonder what went on at Axl’s that day, Jane thought, giving her brother a long look. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw a bit of white, and shifted her eyes slightly, focusing on a table near the serving window, and cocked an eyebrow. A woman in a white trench-coat, white turtleneck sweater, and blue spectacle sunglasses was sitting with a man in a red jacket, with a ponytail and wrap-around sunglasses. I know that lady from someplace, I think.

The lady in white apparently saw Jane looking at her. With a half smile, she picked up her soda and saluted Jane with her glass. Jane returned the gesture, noticing that the man in the red jacket had started to salute someone in the opposite corner of the room in the same way.

Back at their table, Daria had noticed the motion of the woman in white out of the corner of her eye and turned to look. She immediately saw the man in the red jacket looking right at her.

I know that guy from someplace, but where? Daria thought as the man in the red jacket raised his glass and nodded in Daria’s direction. She raised her hand slightly and gave a little wave. She couldn’t really read lips all that well, but she could have sworn that she saw him say to the lady in white “See, I told you everything would work out.”

“Daria?” Tom asked.

“Tom, do you know that guy in the red coat sitting over there?” Daria asked, turning to look at Tom with a perplexed expression.

“What guy?” Tom asked, looking around.

“Sitting over . . . “ Daria started to say, looking around also. There was no man in a red jacket, or a woman in a white. “Huh. Guess I was imaging things.”

“Well, I don’t know about a guy in red, but there’s an artist in red sitting over there,” Tom said, and gestured at a booth across the room with his soda glass.

“I should have figured,” Daria said, turning around to see Jane and Trent in the opposite corner of the pizza place. Jane looked momentarily confused as well.

“Any idea why they’re here?” Tom asked.

“Well, uh . . . “ Daria said, getting a very far away and somewhat sad look on her face.

“Daria?” Tom asked. “What is it?”

“Let’s just say that something happened Friday night that kind of changed things between me and Jane,” Daria said, turning back to face Tom. “Jane’s been acting a little . . . protective, I guess would be the best word for it.”

“What happened?” Tom asked, curious about Daria’s change in demeanor. “Anything I should know about?”

“Nothing bad, in the end. Maybe I‘ll tell you about it someday,” Daria said. She turned back to face across the room and made a pointed ‘bye-bye’ wave to her Best Friend. Jane returned the wave, and began to herd Trent out of their booth.

“Promise?” Tom asked.

“Maybe. Maybe not,” Daria said with her Mona Lisa smile. “I believe we were having dinner?”


Tom dropped Daria off at home later that evening. After dinner, they had spent most of their time together just driving aimlessly around Lawndale, talking of books and old movies and relation-date-ships. By the time they had gotten back to Daria’s, their differences over the past week had been resolved. There was no good-night kiss this time, but Daria had held onto their hug for a lot longer than she ever had before. Tom idly wondered why, but figured that if and when Daria was ready to tell him, she would.

Daria watched Tom drive off, then turned around to head into the house. She spotted Jane sitting in the yard, her back against the small tree and her sketchbook on her knees. Daria sighed and walked over to where her Best Friend was sitting.

“You know, it’s a good thing that the neighbors are out of town for the week,” Daria said as she walked up to Jane. “How long have you been sitting out here?”

“About half an hour,” Jane said, closing her sketchbook.

“May I ask why?”

“I had a hankering to do a painting of your lawn gnome?”

“Lame excuses will get you nowhere, Lane,” Daria said. “What’s the real reason?”

“I just wanted to make sure everything turned out okay,” Jane said. “I take it that you and Young Thomas have mended the rifts in your relationship?”

“Most of them,” Daria said. “Well deal with the rest of them as the come, I guess.”

“You know your Mom’s home?” Jane said, nodding towards Helen’s SUV in the driveway.

“Yeah, I expected she would be,” Daria said, looking towards the house.

Through the windows, Daria could see her mother standing in the living room window, apparently looking for her wayward daughter. When she spotted Daria and Jane in the next yard, a frown crossed Helen’s face. She speared Daria with an angry look, she brought her watch up into view and tapped it, indicating that she was not happy with the time Daria got home.

“And it looks like ‘Helen the Red’ isn’t too happy,” Jane said.

“I didn’t figure she would be,” Daria said, not looking all that thrilled with the idea of dealing with her mother tonight.

“You want me to go in with you?” Jane asked, standing up.

“That’s okay, Jane,” Daria said. “I don’t think that you’ll be able to get away with running interference with Mom twice in one century.”

“You gonna tell her about . . ?” Jane asked, not quite able to finish the question.

“Yes, I’m going to tell her,” Daria said. “I just needed to deal with Tom first. Mom’ll understand that, I hope. Then I’ll tell her everything.”

“You’re still sure that’s a good idea?”

“Not really, but if she knows everything about what happened, then she’ll be less likely to go off the deep end when I get to the important stuff. But still,” Daria said as she removed her opened her backpack. She pulled out a small manila envelope and handed it to Jane. “My cynical nature compels me to plan for certain contingencies, however.”

“What’s this?” Jane asked, accepting the envelope.

“A couple of letters, as well as some instructions just in case my loving parents decide to have me whisked away in the middle of the night,” Daria said. “There’s a password that will get you into my diary in there, too.”

“You’re starting to scare me a little here,” Jane said as she slid the envelope into the inside of her jacket. “But don’t worry. You’re parents may be nuts, but they’re not that nuts.”

“You hope,” Daria said, looking over her shoulder at her mother again. “I’d better get in there before Mom stares a hole in the glass. See you tomorrow, Freakin’ Friend.”

“Later,” Jane said, collecting her stuff.

Daria crossed the yard and went in the front door of the house. Helen waited until the door closed behind Daria before speaking.

“You’re getting home awfully late, young lady,” Helen said in a stern tone. “You do realize that you’re still supposed to be grounded?”

“I had that detention after school for kneeing Upchuck, remember?” Daria said as she crossed over to the sofas. “Then on the way home I had to stop and help out when this girl on the street was attacked by these vampires. I didn’t have my stake with me, so I --”

“Daria, you’re supposed to be grounded,” Helen sighed. “I can’t have you traipsing off like that when you’re supposed to be getting punished. What kind of an example --”

“Mom, please,” Daria cut in. “I realize that I’m late, but if you’d care to actually hear my explanation?”

“Very well, Daria,” Helen said as she sat down next to her daughter. “I’ll listen to what you have to say.”

“The reason I’m late is because I met with Tom after I got finished with detention tonight,” Daira began. “We spent the last two hours working a few things out.”

“This is what you were talking to Amy about this weekend, weren’t you?” Helen asked.

“Yeah, it was,” Daria said. “I was trying to figure out if I should try to make up with Tom, or to just let it go. I’d tried to make up once, but then we just got into another fight when he make some comment about that eulogy assignment I had in English. That was after --”

“Wait a moment, Daria, I’m confused,” Helen said with a shake of her head. “What does all that have to do with your making up with Tom Slone?”

“Well,” Daria started to say, then stopped with a sigh. “Maybe I better start all of this at the beginning. But . . . Consider yourself warned, some of what I have to tell you is going to be pretty hard to take.”

“Okay, Daria. If you say so,” Helen said, thinking How bad could this be?

“All right then. It had all started last Saturday night,” Daria began. “I had taken one of my stories over for Tom to read, but I didn’t tell him that I was the one that had written it . . .”


Jane had started to walk away as Daria went inside, but she just couldn’t bring herself to leave without being absolutely sure that her Best Friend was going to be okay. She had walked back to her vantage point behind the neighbors tree and peered into the big picture windows from a distance. Even though she couldn’t make out much in the way of details, she could tell that Daria and her mother had taken seats on the sofa that had it’s back to the window. She decided to press her luck some, and moved closer to the window in order to see better.

She worked her way up to the hedge that separated the two lots and decided that was about as close as she could safely get. Inside the house, she could make out more details, but couldn’t make out what was being said, not that she wanted to hear it all again, having lived much of it. Daria was doing most of the talking, with her mother occasionally interrupting and seeming to ask something, which, it appeared, Daria would clarify before moving on.

Jane stood there and watched them go on like that for nearly twenty minutes. She could tell that Daria was attempting to be as dispassionate as she could manage as she told her story. Daria’s shoulders were slowly slumping as she went on, her expression telling its own story of what she went through. Helen was getting the full effect inside, whit the tone of Daria’s voice probably getting huskier as she spoke. Jane figured that Daria was going through the last chapters of her argument with Tom, Jodie‘s hitting her up for assistance with the Mike Tyson speech, Upchuck’s abortive pass at her and Jane in the corridor and the results, as well as most of the students again running to her as they had with the Tommy Sherman thing.

When Daria stopped to take off her glasses and wipe her eyes, Jane knew that she was about to launch into the last of it, the worst of it. Helen, it appeared, also caught on that something was coming that she hadn’t really expected. Jane noticed that Helen’s body language had changed as the conversation went on, and wished she were in a better position to see Helen’s expressions, so she could better judge what was going on.

As Jane watched, Daria took a visibly deep breath and slowly told the last of it.

Helen’s hands slowly went up to her mouth and she shook her head slightly, as if not believing what her daughter had said. Daria’s tears began to flow again, this time, it seemed, in concert with her mother’s. They continued to speak with each other for a while after, slowly moving closer to each other. When Daria was done, she simply wiped her eyes once more and looked up at her mother, as if waiting for the other boot to drop. Helen apparently said something to Daira, who nodded her head once to something, shook her head at something else. Daria said something, and Helen wrapped her arms around her little girl and held her close.

Jane couldn’t read lips any better than Daria could, but she knew what Daria had said, and knew that everything was going to be just fine.

“I love you too, Mom,” Daria had said.

Jane smiled as she slowly backed away from the hedge. Everything was going to be all right. Jane reached in to her jacket and pulled out her headphones, her fingers brushing the envelope that Daria had given her. Whatever Daria had in the envelope in the inside pocket of Jane’s jacket could safely stay there.

She touched the controls on her CD player, and the soft sounds of a keyboard mixed with a breathy voice singing the lyrics. Jane quietly sang along too, as she walked, celebrating her friend.


}~~ Finis ~~{


As I Lay Me Down
Sophie B Hawkins

It felt like spring time on this February morning
In the courtyard birds were singing your praise
I'm still recalling things you said to make me feel
Alright I carried them with me today now

As I lay me down to sleep
This I pray
That you will hold me dear
Though I'm far away
I'll whisper your name
Into the sky
And I will wake up happy

I wonder why
I feel so high though I am not above the sorrow
Heavy hearted 'till you call my name
And it felt like church bells or the whistle of a train
On a summer evening I'll run to meet you barefoot
Barely breathing

As I lay me down to sleep
This I pray
That you will hold me dear
Though I'm far away
I'll whisper your name
Into the sky
And I will wake up happy (oh darling)

As I lay me down to sleep
This I pray
That you will hold me dear
Though I'm far away
I'll whisper your name
Into the sky
And I will wake up happy

It's not too near for me
Like a flower I need the rain
Though it's not clear to me
Every season has its change
And I will see you
When the sun comes out again

As I lay me down to sleep
This I pray
That you will hold me dear
Though I'm far away
I'll whisper your name
Into the sky
And I will wake up happy (oh oh...)

As I lay me down to sleep
This I pray
That you will hold me dear
Though I'm far away
I'll whisper your name
Into the sky
And I will wake up happy

I wonder why (hmmm)
When the sun comes out again
When the sun comes out again
When the sun comes out again
When the sun comes out again (oooh)
When the sun comes out again
When the sun comes out again (hmmm)
(comes out comes out oooh)
And I will wake up happy
So I pray


Author’s Notes

First of all, I have to thank TerraEsperZ for sending me the wonderful feedback letter that planted the idea for this story -- if I had not gotten that letter, I would never have written this. I also have to thank Wraith, the author of “Something Happened,” the story that kicked this whole thing off. I would also like to thank my wife for putting up with my hogging the computer for nearly two months while I wrote this, and a certain special friend who has been so patient since I put another writing project on hold while I worked on this.

Once again I have referred to a couple of other very well written fanfics over the course of my story, namely “The Rain Falls Mainly on Jane Lane,” by Invisigoth Gypsy, and “Shaken Not Stirred,” by Rick Hennigan. I also borrowed an idea from Sam Lincoln, by including a song that I felt fit the closing of the story.

What was in the envelope that she gave Jane? Well, after reading the stories “Diary Dearest,” and “The Whole Truth,” I figure that Daria would have suspected that, when planning to drop a bomb of that magnitude, she’d have some idea of what the worst case scenario might be. She would also know which friends and family members would be trustworthy enough to go to prove whether Daria was indeed in need of being “whisked away in the middle of the night.” (Hmmmm.....)

And what of the Man In The Red Jacket and the Woman In White? You’d have to read my previous fic “Something Didn’t Happen” to get an inkling of who they are. And, who knows, they may show up again.

I would also like to offer up my special thanks to Ben Breeck. He has graciously accepted my requests to Beta read a couple of my works, and has offered some very helpful advice on both of them. I was not too pleased with the working title that I initially had for this story, and had asked him for his suggestions for an appropriate title. He suggested a title that he thought was the perfect title to this story. And he was right. Thank You, Ben.

Well, with that, Thank You for reading my story.


Questions? Comemnts? Even better - a route to Lawndale??

Send ‘em to Greystar@Hotmail.com

And Fan Art! I’d really love it if someone drew some fan art! Really!

Legal Drek: Daria and her cohorts are property of MTV and Viacom. “As I Lay Me Down” is also copyrighted and property of Sophie B. Hawkins and / or whatever record company she was with when it was recorded.

This story is Copyright January 26, 2003