Jane had decided, oh, five or six seconds before, exactly what she wasn't going to do to the swelteringly beautiful woman standing in front of her:

I'm not going to take this paint brush, turn it over in my hand and plunge it directly into her black heart, sending her off to the hell of the hundreds of vampires turned into dust by Buffy Summers over seven seasons of kick-ass TV - well, okay, five, because the last two were so-so - gotta admit, though, it made my heart jump into my throat when Willow slaughtered the fawn for the potion to bring Buffy back -

Alright - say it with me, everybody - FOCUS! Focus on the bitch who's just begging for the right to get a taste of my left...

'YOU actually dated Thomas? My God... I thought his taste was all in his navel.' The tall redhead with the born-to-slink figure gave Jane yet another stare of absolute disbelief. 'It seems that it's actually a half-turn around and several inches down. I suppose that you do perform on all fours, yes?'

'For your information, Beth-'

'That's 'Bethany'.

'That's your problem, not mine.'

Jane was a good eight inches smaller than the other woman, yet Bethany Chambers-Cullen flinched and stepped back as Jane bore in on her, acutely aware of the crowd that had silently coalesced about them in the W. J. Dakken Memorial Stone Gardens, one of the larger exhibit areas at Boston Fine Arts College. 'You see, your problem is that you can't see any man wanting to be around a woman unless she's sleeping with him. That's your problem and that's sad, because, honey, what you've got won't keep any man for too long if that's all you're offering - especially when it gets compared to the younger models, or a man like Tom's doing the comparing.'

Bethany wilted; Jane had struck a visible nerve. 'When Tom and I first met, he saw something different in me-'

'Maybe him and a friend at the same time,' Bethany spewed acidly.

'See? All you know is sex.' Jane shook her head sadly. 'Let me spell it out for you. Tom liked me as a person. I liked him as a person. It just didn't work out for us as a couple, and although I don't exactly consider him a friend, he is a good man. He's intelligent, adventurous, playful, he's able to appreciate other people for what they are and what they're into... basically, he's a great guy!'

'Oh, so you're over him?'

Wasn't that hard - unlike you, I was never under him.' I can't believe that I actually scored a kill on this bitch with a line from 'Friends'!

'But that's your problem in the first place; in or out of bed, you know that you ARE beneath him. You're just mad that I'm not.'

Jane turned and started away. 'In any sense of the word.'

The crowd parted respectfully to let Jane pass, and Daria, closing a copy of 'The Sewing Circle', rose from an outcropping of red marble to walk aside her. 'So, how much of that did you actually mean?'

'All of it,' Jane said airily. 'He's a great guy - just not for either of us. People have to learn to move on with things, and see the good in what's happened in the past. If you don't, you'll be trapped there forever.'

'Since when did you become so philosophical?'

'Always have been, D. How else could I have stayed friends with someone as bitchy as you?'

'So, now I know where my bottle of milk went to last night... want an emery board to sharpen up those claws a little more?'

The two young women shared a trademark smirk as they stepped through the large, stylish wooden doors into the brisk crispness of the late Boston afternoon, their faces luminous in the cinnammon- and burnt-orange that was the fading sun just above the horizon. 'You know, having a family that's so wealthy that we can all have serious issues and walk around like it also takes the edge off being played by a guy, no matter how nice he is...'

A light just went off in Daria's eyes. 'No. Tell me that you aren't the one that-'

'Ask me no questions, and I'll not tell your dress size.'

'You did! You actually did it!'

'Look, Ana already wanted to go out with Penny and Penny didn't have any problems with that once she saw Ana in that peasant blouse - I was just able to get something out of it myself.'

'You got a Columbian drug lord to threaten Tom about coming onto his daughter by having your sister agree to go out with his sister, and scared him so badly that afterward, he didn't go near a single girl during his entire freshman year at Bromwell,' Daria mused, smiling as they started across the campus. Now that's a rich girl's revenge. If we had that kind of cash, Quinn would do that twice a week.'

'Hey, sometimes you have to do something stupid to finally let go, and 'Voodoo.com' shut down before I could get their help,' Jane laughed, 'and if Quinn knew the type of money that greases the wheels of the Lane gravy train, she'd probably have never left the me alone. She'd have pestered me until I let her give me a makeover or had her killed,' Jane sighed. 'She just never quits, does she?'

'Yeah, about my sister...'

'Daria, I thought you were past that!'

'No, I'm not thinking of you having her sharing a queen-size with Luca Brasi; I'm just wondering about something else.'

Jane raised an eyebrow. 'And that is...?'

'Well, now that you're actually over young master Thomas, I'm wondering about your next romantic obsession,' Daria observed, her face in a textbook deadpan expression. 'You do have a habit of hooking up with the most unexpected types in the most unexpected ways -coughcoughBobbyBigheadcoughcough - and somehow, you've made a habit of always bringing up my sister in conversation recently.'

'I think your common sense is floating off on that 'Raft' you're on.'

'Weak pun - proof that you're zoning in on a target. Say, that day Quinn grabbed you out of my room for something about colors or whatever; you never told me what she wanted.'

'No, I didn't,' Jane said, and her sudden smile seemed to make everything looking in her general direction feel breezy and light. 'However, food loosens my tongue. Feeling homesick for Pizza King?'

'Oh, you found it!' Daria exclaimed, her eyes lighting up. 'Lords of 'Za?'

'Lords of 'Za', ' Jane agreed. 'First pie's on me.'




A 'Daria: Iron Chef challenge' fanfiction by Brother Grimace


16 January 2004