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

NOTE: This story is the next in the Unseen Phenomena Series, it takes place approximately six months after "Strange Bonds."

If I Could Tell You

Amongst countless doors lining either side of the hallway, one of many that composed the college campus. A single door opens releasing a multitude of students of varying ages from their last class of the semester. Finals were over, for some this was a time of happiness. For others the class had not gone so well, and for still others it was simply a relief just to have the class done and over with so that they could put the past several months behind them and continue on to the holidays which were now only a matter of a few days away. Hidden between the bodies of the other students leaving the classroom, Daria exits the class with her backpack slung over one shoulder and heads off to her left, the most direct route to the exit leading to the student parking lot where her car was parked. She didn't walk quickly, Daria knew she would be out of there soon so there was no need to rush. Soon she would be able to rest her heavy pack on the passenger seat of her car and lean back in the drivers seat as she drove home for a month of freedom. Hopefully the time would not pass too quickly, there was a lot she wanted to savor during this years holidays. For once Daria was actually looking forward to being home for Christmas, a lot had happened since she had left high school a little more than two years ago, which as she thought made her smile. In the regrettable loss of a sibling, Daria had gained much. She had gained new friends who in great respect went to tremendous lengths to aid her in her grief. She had rid herself of those in the employment of Lawndale High, who had meant to control her if only to mold her into the image of what they had believed to be the model student, a mindless automaton willing to listen to whatever psychobabble they had to spew in her direction. In ridding herself of that hell, she moved on to a higher plane, one of legitimate education that could feed USEFUL information into her mind, regardless of how expensive. And last but not in any way least, she had found someone even though she had not sought to find anyone who could be close to her. Strange as it would seem, this person who had appeared in her life seemingly by accident, almost literally if you took into consideration the circumstances it occurred under, had earned her trust emotionally. A rare thing to grant the opposite sex given that anyone else of that gender had proven that they had not even been worth the words "get lost, asshole." Daria chuckled to herself as she attempted to count just how many times she had harshly said those very words to any guy who dared to make a pass at her. She looked up towards the upcoming doorway to see a dark haired man standing in the center of the hallway while leaning heavily on a cane. Daria recognized him immediately, she found herself without even realizing it at first picking up the pace at which she walked to close the distance quickly.

Daria: (as she approached the man) Duncan... What are you doing here?

Duncan: You know me, lass. I hate sitting around the house.

Daria: (smirks) So you came to see me? Duncan, I would have been home in an hour or so. And you KNOW the doctor doesn't want you on that leg for long periods of time until you get your next X-rays done.

Duncan: Hey, I haven't been on it for very long at all. Maybe... about an hour or so.

Daria: You've been standing here waiting for me? Duncan, there's a student lounge just around the corner. You could have sat there and waited for me to get out of class.

Duncan: Like I said, I was restless.

Daria: So restless that you had to get out of the house and come all this way JUST to see someone who within a short period of time would gladly have come to see YOU.

Duncan: Well, in my defense. My mother was hovering.

Daria: (smirks) Hovering?

Duncan: Aye, every five minutes or so she would come back from whatever she was doing around the house and ask me if I needed anything and remind me to stay off this bum leg of mine. I couldn't bloody stand it any more, I had to get out of there when she wasn't looking and the best thing I could think of to do was to come see you. We don't get enough time together, you know that...

Daria: You mean what with our waiting until either of our families are nowhere to be found to be ourselves?

Duncan: Aye, Although I must admit. It's kind of fun keeping this sort of thing from my sister, when I pry about her relationship with Trent all she can fire back with is "Why don't you go find somebody for yourself so you can stop worrying about what I'm doing." And of coarse no matter where this is said it always catches my mothers attention who then starts her own inquisition on the matter.

Daria: (smirks) That'll teach her not to withhold information.

Duncan: Aye, good thing we don't do things like that. (Winks) (Daria laughs and starts walking toward the parking lot at a much slower pace than before so to allow Duncan to keep up)

Daria: Hey Duncan, I've got a question for you.

Duncan: What's that?

Daria: Have you ever tried to actually say the word "yes" as apposed to "aye"

Duncan: What the hell brought that up?

Daria: Nothing really, I just noticed that I've never heard you use the word "Yes"

Duncan: The latter word just has always come natural to me, I guess.

Daria: (smiles) But have you actually TRIED to use the word?

Duncan: (rolls his eyes) Yes... (Accent makes it unrecognizable)

Daria: (scowls) What?

Duncan: Yes. (Same problem)

Daria: (raises an eyebrow) Sssss? What are you a snake?

Duncan: (irritated) I said YES. (Still the same problem)

Daria: (trying to make it out) Yies?

Duncan: Bloody hell, never mind. You're doing that on purpose.

Daria: (slightly hurt) NO! No, I'm not. I really can't understand what you're trying to say. You're accent makes it that difficult.

Duncan: (sighs) Well, now you know why I use the word "aye".

Daria: Ok, my curiosity is satisfied then. I'm sorry if I made you mad.

Duncan: (smiles) No... you didn't. (Wraps his arm around her and draws her close) So anyway, we'll leave your car here until we get back. We can take my truck.

Daria: Excuse me? Where are we going?

Duncan: (looks at her in thought) Oh hell, I didn't even ask you yet. I'm sorry love, where's my head. I wanted to shop for something and I was wondering if you help me find what I'm looking for.

Daria: You want ME to help you shop for something? Duncan, you know I'm no good at picking things out for other people.

Duncan: (smiles) I wouldn't worry about it too much, I'm sure the person will like whatever you pick out.

Daria: (looks at him for a long moment) You really want me to do this don't you?

Duncan: Aye.

Daria: (smiles evilly) Let me hear you say yes, again.

Duncan: (points his finger at her jokingly) Hey, don't push it.

Daria: (snaps her fingers) Damn! (The two of them walk to where Duncan's truck is and stop short as Daria looks the truck over) What the... Duncan, what did you do to your truck?

Duncan: (pretends not to know what she's talking about) What?

Daria: You changed the lenses on that light bar you've got on the roof. You're a volunteer, isn't it illegal for you to have red lights on your truck?

Duncan: (smiles) I was wondering if you'd notice. That's a bit of a surprise I've got for you, I'm not a volunteer any more.

Daria: What? What did you do... change professions?

Duncan: Not quite, they've hired me as a career. As soon as I'm ready to go back, I'll be getting paid for what I do. Hence the change from blue to red lights, I've even got a siren and wig wags hooked up under the hood.

Daria: (looks worried as they both climb into the truck and drive away) All the bells and whistles are hooked up all ready huh?

Duncan: (looks at her face) What's wrong, lass?

Daria: I worry about you, Duncan. I know that's a lot to say for two people who have only been together for six months. But, you were hurt pretty bad the last time. What if that happened again, or worse the next time.

Duncan: (looks at her briefly before turning his attention back to the road) Daria... You know how I feel about you. I'd never do anything to hurt you, you have to know that.

Daria: I know, but I also can't help how I feel. I get this weird little knot in my stomach whenever you leave that pager on and a call comes over it.

Duncan: (sighs) Daria... this is what I love to do. It's not just some stupid hobby, this is a job that I truly love to do. Would you really want me to stick myself with a job that I'd detest?

Daria: Well... millions of other Americans do it every day.

Duncan: (looks at her again) Daria... ?

Daria: (gives in) No, I guess not. Just... give me your word that you'll always be careful.

Duncan: I think I can do that, I learned my lesson the last time. (Reaches down and rubs his left leg before spying the store he had wanted to travel to) Ah, here we go. I almost missed the place.

Daria: (gawks) International jeweler's? This place is top of the line, just who the hell are you shopping for?

Duncan: Somebody special, do you still want to help me?

Daria: (slightly suspicious that he may have met someone else) I told you I would, didn't I?

Duncan: (smiles) Aye lass, you did. (Duncan pulls into a parking spot and they both head into the building) So how do you know this place?

Daria: My sister used to shop here every time she had some social event to go to.

Duncan: You're sister, the one who passed away a while back right?

Daria: That would be her.

Duncan: You never really told me about her, what was her name.

Daria: Quinn. (Duncan does a double take and wears an astonished expression for just a brief moment) ... What?

Duncan: (snaps out of it) Huh... ? Oh, nothing. (Smiles) I met somebody named Quinn. (1) (Daria looks slightly hurt as she thinks her original suspicion is confirmed) Eh, it's no big deal. Off to the matters at hand. (They both browse around the store for the longest time before someone comes over to help them)

Saleswoman: Can I help you?

Duncan: Aye, you might at that. What can you show us in the way of a woman's pendant?

Saleswoman: (looks Duncan over as if to say "yea right, like you can afford anything HERE") Ah, those are right over here. (After looking everything over Duncan finally looks at Daria and asks her opinion. Daria, still with her suspicion doesn't want to grant another woman something really nice so she points to the most pathetic thing on display)

Daria: I think whoever this is for would like that one. (Just by the tone of her voice Duncan can tell what's going through her mind and realizes he's got her hooked)

Duncan: (looks at Daria with interest) What are you kidding? She's too damned beautiful to wear something THAT ugly. (Daria starts to tear up at the mention of this)

Daria: (VO) Don't cry, don't run. Don't let him know your hurt, just dump him when you get back to your car.

Duncan: (looks around and spots an elegant heart shaped sapphire pendant encrusted with a full carat of densely fitted small diamonds attached to a 24 karat white gold neck chain) (points) That will work right there.

Saleswoman: (trying to prevent her time from being wasted) Sir... that's a very expensive item and it's already been set aside for someone. Perhaps something else...

Duncan: (cuts her off irritation) Bloody woman, do you work here or what? (Hands her a small piece of paper with a series of order numbers on it)

Saleswoman: (flustered) Um... yes, of coarse. (Fumbles with the keys to the case and then takes it out to let Duncan look at it)

Duncan: (looks at in his palm and then hands it back to the saleswoman) Aye, and she's worth every cent. Ring it up.

Saleswoman: (confident that he will back off when he hears the price after she rings it up) How will this be paid for, sir?

Duncan: (Reaches into his jacket pocket and pulls out a small wad of hundred dollar bills) Cash of coarse.

Saleswoman: (says as little as possible to avoid further embarrassment) Um... just bring it back every six months so we can inspect an clean it and it will be insured against any accidental loss or damage for as long as you own it. (Looks at Duncan as she waits for him to say something) Would... you like me to wrap it for you?

Duncan: No, the recipient has already seen it. (Duncan takes his change, the receipt, and the pendant from the woman. He then turns to brush Daria's hair aside and places it about her neck) I was right, it still doesn't do you justice.

Daria: (stands there speechless for the longest time before acting as if she were hyperventilating) I... I can't be in here, I have to get some air. (Daria runs out of the store)

Saleswoman: Is she all right?

Duncan: Eh, she will be. (Walks as quickly after her as his bad leg will allow)

(Cut to just outside the store)

(Daria is seen at the truck trying not to cry)

Duncan: (Comes walking up and rubs his left leg when he comes to a stop) Oh god, I've definitely been standing for too long. Daria, what's wrong? Why are you acting like this?

Daria: (scowls) Why the hell did you do that? (Holds the pendant in her hand and then lets it drop back against her chest) There's not a chance in hell that this was affordable.

Duncan: (looks confused) Because you're the most wonderful woman I know.

Daria: How much did you pay for this?????? Duncan, we've been together for only six MONTHS.

Duncan: (still looks confused) Daria, I know I can't do things like this very often... at all, but for gods sake your worth it.

Daria: Duncan, that's not the point. I'm not a materialistic person, I don't need you to spend large amounts of money on me. I don't need you to buy me jewelry, I usually don't even WEAR the stuff. I... I don't deserve this.

Duncan: (Smiles) I know your not like that, I never thought you were. But since we got together I've been looking for a way to say to you in a single expression how I feel about you without compromising your integrity. (Smirks evilly so she catches his drift)

Daria: (Daria wipes her eyes and cracks a weak smile to let him know she understands) And I thank you for that, I seriously don't think I'm ready. But I still don't think I deserve this.

Duncan: (smiles knowingly) Why?

Daria: (looks down and mumbles) I ... thought you had met someone else and that you were buying it for her.

Duncan: (smiles) You didn't mumble low enough, lass. You actually thought I would drop you for another woman?

Daria: (looks slightly embarrassed) It's happened to me once before.

Duncan: Daria, I dropped hints on PURPOSE so you wouldn't figure out what I was up too. I wanted it to remain a surprise. For god's sake, Daria. You could have the playmate of the year dance in front of me buck naked and I wouldn't turn my eyes from you.

Daria: (wipes her eyes again) NOW, your just trying to make me feel better. We've been together for six months, you couldn't possibly be that enamored with me.

Duncan: To me you look that good, and besides. Physical beauty isn't everything. (Points to his temples) This matters more than anything else.

Daria: But...

Duncan: If it matters that much to you then consider it an early Christmas gift, I just couldn't wait to give it to you. That's all.

Daria: You're not... going to do this kind of thing often are you?

Duncan: I wish I could. But at the moment I can only afford to do this once.

Daria: (wipes her brow) That's a relief, I was worried that you were going to bankrupt yourself. (Daria looks at Duncan for the longest time before saying anything) You... really see me that way? After only six months?

Duncan: I knew I felt that way the moment you told me you'd only THINK about dating me.

Daria: You knew you felt that way just from THAT? Are you nuts or something, everybody else has to wait years before figuring something like that out.

Duncan: (laughs) I think quickly. (Reaches out and pulls the pendant away from her jacket so Daria can get a better look at it) I had it special ordered, it just happened to serve the illusion better that we didn't get the salesperson I originally spoke with. The whole thing is symbolic, look. The stone is in the shape of a heart, the meaning of that is obvious. I chose a sapphire because the color represents great depth, like that of the ocean and the cluster of diamonds represents something indestructible. (Stares at Daria) Enough said... You want to get something to eat?

Daria: You mean your not broke yet? (Duncan smiles and leans forward to kiss her)

(Fade to a restaurant nearby)

Daria: You know, after the money you just spent I would have settled for pizza or something. Where DID you get the money anyway.

Duncan: (smirks) You know that bank over in the next state that got robbed last week?

Daria: (laughs) I hope you at least killed the guards for their uniforms.

Duncan: Nah, I hated the color. (Beat) I've got some money locked away in cd's and one of them happened to open recently, it was left to me when my grandmother died. Maria has got the same thing.

Daria: Thank you, that in no way says enough, but thank you. (Thinks) You know, when everybody at home see's this they're going to know we're togther.

Duncan: Aye, I know. But it'll be better in the long run if we break the news.

Daria: At least I won't have to start coming up with reasons why I'm too busy to hang out with her from time to time. I would hate for Jane to think I was blowing her off, I'd never do that to her.

Duncan: Worse comes to worse, the relationship questions will turn away from my sister and point at me for a while.

Daria: (shares a laugh with Duncan) Maria will LOVE that. And I STILL want to know what you paid for this.

Duncan: Daria... you're not supposed to know how much a gift costs.

Daria: Duncan... humor me. This isn't something you find in just any jewelry store, how much did you pay for this?

Duncan: Enough...

Daria: (scowls) ... Duncan??

Duncan: (sighs) You do know how to take the fun out of things, don't you?

Daria: Hey, I'm famous for it. Just ask anybody I went to highschool with. Now let's hear it.

Duncan: Nine bills and some change. (Daria gawks)

Daria: (Stares in disbelief) Are you insane????? You spent THAT much money on ME?

Duncan: Aye, I did.

Daria: (shakes her head and smirks) I guess this means that, since when people see this pendant they're going to know I'm involved with someone anyway, I'll have to invite you over for Christmas.

Duncan: Well, since my family is away for the holidays, that should be a real treat hanging out with you and your nutty parents. I won't have to spend the holidays alone after all.

Daria: They're not taking you with them? Where are they going anyway?

Duncan: They left to head home to Falkirk this morning and no. I didn't go with them, I pitched a B.S. story about my leg still killing me, frankly if I had headed home I'd be stuck on a farm helping my uncle tend a flock of sheep and when I'm not doing that I'll be pinched by an incontinent old aunt who thinks that I'm perpetually fifteen years old.

Daria: (chuckles) Maria must LOVE that.

Duncan: Aye, she does too. Maria, loves my uncles sheep. They have a lot of texture to their wool and they've always been rather affectionate towards her.

Daria: She doesn't take the sheep to the edge of a cliff so they'll push back harder does she?

Duncan: (looks confused until he finally catches the joke) OH ... no, not last time I checked she's not into that sort of thing. But she IS into the fact that Trent went with them.

Daria: (raises an eyebrow) Trent... , went with your family... to Scotland... for the holidays? (Smiles evilly) Does HE know about the tending sheep part?

Duncan: (Smiles in the same manner) Nope, he hasn't heard a whisper. It'll be great when he finally comes home, he should have some stories to tell.

Daria; I can't wait to hear them. It's kind of funny though, I haven't heard a thing about it before now. Even from you.

Duncan: Must have slipped my mind, I'm not an elephant you know.

Daria: No, you're much better looking.

(Cut to Daria's apartment that evening)

Daria: (fishing through the refrigerator for something microwave-able) So Trent went overseas with Maria's family for Christmas, huh?

Jane: Yea, I couldn't believe it. Now what am I supposed to do for the holidays?

Daria: You've got me on that one, My mom badgered me until I gave in and agreed to spend Christmas with her and my dad. And what do you mean what are you going to do? Don't your parents at least make sure they're home to spend Christmas with you?

Jane: Sure they do, but can you actually imagine being stuck in the house while my mom runs to the local convenience store to get some sort of food stuffs that could possibly masquerade as a Christmas dinner? You have to remember, Daria. No one in my family really believes in stocking the refrigerator.

Daria: Yea, I noticed that about your family. I always thought it was a laziness thing, or a lack of financial backing by fault of your parents. What did you always do in the past?

Jane: Well typically, the plan was that Trent and I would always head down to the Zon and I would watch the band practice. None of them ever spent the entire day with their families anyway. And then after four or five hours we would come home and spend the evening eating a so called Christmas dinner bought straight from the local corner store or the nearest convenient Chinese restaurant.

Daria: Let me guess, your hoping I'll ask you to crash over for a slightly more realistic dinner after your parents are done with theirs?

Jane: Well... SINCE you've asked.

Daria: And of COARSE you didn't want to be one to invite yourself over.

Jane: (folds her arms across her chest) Of coarse not, far be it for me to impose on my best friend. (Makes a gesture with her hand as if to imply the question anyway)

Daria: Relax, Jane. You're in, I just have to announce it to my mom. These days with Quinn gone, she wants as many people over to share the holidays as she can get. I think that deep down she's afraid of someday ending up alone with no one to care about her.

Jane: Your kidding, right? Helen, your mother and feared lawyer, is afraid of being alone?

Daria: (walks over to the answering machine to check for messages and sure enough there is a brand new message from Helen asking Daria to be sure to drop by the house on Christmas and if she wanted to she could bring her "friend") Think I'm kidding now?

Jane: Wow, and you hadn't even checked the machine before that. You must be turning psychic on me.

Daria: Not likely, I simply know my own family backward and front... and sideways... and by any other dimensional feature you can think of.

Jane; So... I'm assuming that message was a subtle invitation directed towards me.

Daria: And your assumption would be correct, but don't jump out of your seat if there are a few "surprises."

Jane: (rubs her hands together like a little kid) Surprises? Ooh, I like surprises. What kind are we talking about?

Daria: Don't push, you'll find out when we get there. Now give me few hours, I'm about to call my mom back only to allow myself to be talked to death.

Jane: Since when were you into slow and painful suicides?

Daria: Actually, I think my wish for that ended about six months ago. It was the strangest thing, I woke up one morning and noticed that all of the screwed up things about the world were actually funny.

Jane: Why Daria, have you kicked the SSW addiction?

Daria: Never, there will always be time in my life to watch Sick Sad World. It fuels the soul for cynics around the globe. I couldn't possibly give up on such a fruitful cause. (Points her thumb in the direction of her room) Now give me a minute to use the phone in my room and I'll be right with you.

Jane; Don't take too long now Daria, you've been too busy to hang out with me for weeks now. I'm starting to get a little lonely over at my house.

Daria: Hey, college is time consuming. What do you want from me?

Jane: Come on Daria, I've been going to college for just as long as you have. The only way you could have so little time to come home and hang with your friends on the weekends is if you had some sort of social life. And last time I checked, Daria Morgendorffer, you didn't have much of one. Unless of coarse, your hiding something from your old friend Jane. (Waits for a response) So... are you?

Daria: (glances at Jane with a dismissing look) You have an over active imagination as usual, Jane. Where's YOUR social life as long as we're on the subject?

Jane: Oh I gave up on that a while ago, for some strange reason the only guys I seem to attract are backstabbing jerks and other women who say I give off gay vibes. (Shrugs) Who knew? But... I figure if there's a guy out there for me then we'll just have to run into each other by accident. It's that simple.

Daria: (pulls her glasses forward and stares down her nose at Jane) Be careful what you ask for Jane, fate has a funny sense of humor these days.

Jane: Since when did you start believing in fate?

Daria: I don't, but who says fate can't believe in me?

Jane: Interesting point, amiga. Now hurry up and make your phone call, so we can get back to our meaningless existence. Besides, I 'm starving and I intend to raid your fridge while your back is turned.

Daria: Yea, yea... keep your shorts on.

Jane: (Pulls the waist line of her pants away from her body to take a peek as Daria walks away) Grey boxers, I'll be damned my shorts are still there. (Shrugs) I guess the underpants Gnomes haven't been seen in the neighborhood lately. (Looks about to see that Daria has already left the room) Damn, I wasted a perfectly good joke in an empty room. (Shakes her head and then turns to walk into the kitchen to open the fridge) Oh look, a stocked refrigerator. Now there's something you don't see everyday. (Starts pulling out some cold cuts)

(Cut to Daria's room)

(Helen's voice can be heard in the background as Daria holds the earpiece away from her ear)

Daria: Yea mom, I already told you I would be over for dinner.

Helen: Oh Daria, I'm so glad to hear that. You haven't stopped in more than twice since you left home and that was to pick up a few things you had forgotten to take with you. I got the feeling that you'd been avoiding us or something.

Daria: (V.O.) Gee, I can't imagine where you could POSSIBLY get a feeling like THAT from? (Out loud) No, of coarse I haven't been avoiding you. I've just been really busy lately, that's all. Even Jane hasn't seen me all that much.

Helen: Well, no matter. I'm just glad to hear that your coming over, your father has missed you.

Daria: He's not acting like I died too is he?

Helen: (sternly) That's NOT funny, Daria. Your father just has his own ways of missing someone, and if Jake wants to stare at pictures of you and think of all of your accomplishments then so be it.

Daria: WHAT accomplishments? All I did is survive high school and manage to pick a halfway decent college to put myself through.

Helen: Daria, must you be so negative? You were accepted to almost every college you applied to, if that's not a significant accomplishment then I don't know what is.

Daria: (V.O.) Putting the world under my absolute control and executing all the idiots one at a time for my own personal amusement? (Out loud) Gee mom, you've got me on that one. But why don't you and dad save all the "you've accomplished a lot" speeches for when I actually graduate college and maybe get myself somewhere in life. In the meantime, just accept me for who I am now and be grateful I'm around to be appreciated at all, or at least that I'm coming over for Christmas.

Helen: (sighs) All right, Daria. If it means that much to you I'll lay off the proud parent talk for now. (Beat) Have you asked your friend Jane if she'll be joining us for dinner?

Daria: Yes, I asked Jane if she would join us for dinner.

Helen: (hopefully) And?

Daria: And what? She accepted, what did you think she was going to do? Trent went to Scotland with his girlfriend and she's going to be stuck at home with her parents. For her that's just as good as spending Christmas all by herself.

Helen; Trent went overseas? You never told me about that?

Daria: (V.O.) That's because I just found out myself. (Out loud) Really, I could have sworn I mentioned it to you. It's not like you to forget something like that, mom. (Smirks) They say the mind is the first to go at your age, maybe you should get yourself checked out or something.

Helen: Daria, what do you mean at my age. I'm not that old YET.

Daria: I dunno, mom. I was starting to see some gray hairs the last time I saw you. That sounds like old age creeping in to me.

Helen: (turns to look herself over in a mirror) Daria, honestly I don't know where you come up with these things. (Sighs) Listen, I've got to go. I'll see you and your friend for Christmas dinner then?

Daria: Yea, we'll be there. Oh... and before you hang up. I may be bringing one other friend with me for dinner.

Helen: Daria, did you actually make a friend at college? I KNEW you could be more social if you really put some effort into it, way to go sweetie.

Daria: Mom, I didn't make any new friends at college. Well, none that I would want to know where I lived at least.

Helen: (oblivious) That's fabulous sweetie, We'll see you all Sunday then. OH, and there's one more thing. Jodie Landon called here looking for you, I thought about giving her your new phone number but I wasn't sure if you would want me giving it out. Instead I took her phone number and told her I would pass it along when I talked to you.

Daria: Thanks mom, let me get a pen and paper. (Grabs the necessary items and scribbles down the number before hanging up the phone) (Daria comes out of her bedroom to see Jane in Daria's recliner munching on some chips) Ah, I see you've made yourself at home. Can I get you my slippers as well as long as your taking over my apartment?

Jane: Oh, no need to bother. I'm perfectly comfortable as it is. (Smiles as she see's that Daria is irritated by this) Oh chill, I'll move and don't worry about crumbs. I can be a very tidy person when my life is on the line... as I feel it is now.

Daria: Good, as long as you know.

Jane: So did you talk to your mom or what?

Daria: (rolls her eyes) No, I sat there and played with myself on my bed while you pigged out on my recliner.

Jane: Well, at least you enjoyed yourself. At any rate, given that your still breathing I can see that you weren't talked to death by your mother. So I guess all is well then?

Daria: Oh yea, she can't wait to see us. I guess she just likes the idea of having a full house again.

Jane: At least for one day out of the year. It creates the illusion that she's actually still useful.

Daria: All I know is that as long as she's happy, she leaves me alone. And then all can be right with the world.

Jane: Sounds like a cool deal to me.

Daria: Yea, and there's something else too. Jodie decided to drop my mom a line while looking for me.

Jane: No kidding, what did she want?

Daria: You've got me, but it should be nothing short of interesting to find out. I managed to get her phone number. (Proceeds to the phone in the living room and dials the number Helen provided. After a short time Jodie picks up on the other end)

Jodie: Hello?

Daria: Hey Jodie, my mom said that you called.

Jodie: Oh hey, Daria. Yea, I wanted to get your mailing address.

Daria: Let me guess, your planning some sort of high school reunion a couple of years ahead of time.

Jodie: Not quite, Daria. I wanted to send you a wedding invitation.

Daria: (surprised) You're getting married?

Jane: (in the background) What... somebodies getting married?

Jodie: Yea... next October. I haven't sent any of the invitations out yet though, I wanted to wait until I had every bodies addresses so that when I finally sent them out they would all be received at about the same time.

Daria: That way everyone responds at about the same time thus cutting down on the hassle of having to constantly amend the guest list. Jodie, you should go into business as a professional event planner.

Jane: (in the background) She hasn't started planning her own funeral yet has she?

Jodie: What was that?

Daria: Don't mind Jane, she gouged herself on chips earlier so I doubt if she's in her right mind.

Jane: (in the background) HEY!! (Jodie can be heard laughing over the phone)

Jodie: Tell her I said Hi for me when you get off the phone.

Daria: No problem, so I assume your getting hitched to Mac?

Jodie: Yea... surprise, surprise... huh?

Daria: Actually it is, the two of you barely saw each other as it was. When did you find the time to plan a wedding?

Jane: (in the background) Hey, what about the proposal? I want to hear how the big goof ball got down on one knee? Did he try to hike the ring or what?

Jodie: Tell Jane I'll tell her all about it when I get the chance, Right now I can't really talk for that long. Mac and I are heading over to his parents for the holidays and it's going to be a bit of a drive from where we are.

Daria: No problem, I can relate. Just make sure that you include your return address on the envelope so I can keep in touch with you.

Jodie: No problem. (Daria dictates her address to Jodie over the phone and then says goodbye before hanging up)

Jane: So Jodie's getting married to somebody?

Daria: Yea, to Mac sometime next October.

Jane: Who would have thought. (Shakes her head) Jodie getting married. I thought her parents would have worked her to death with extra curricular activities before she would have a chance to do something with her life.

Daria: Yea, tell me about it (Moves to walk past Jane into the kitchen when she steps on some chips Jane had spilled on the floor) . Oh for gods sake Jane, can't you at least be neat in somebody else's apartment?

Jane: Hey, I can't help it if my messes follow me. Now don't worry, show me where you keep your vacuum and I'll take care of it.

Daria: It's in the hall closet. (Daria bends down to pick up the larger pieces from the floor when the pendant Duncan had given her slips out from her shirt collar and lays suspended by the neck chain in full view of Jane)

Jane: WHOA!! Just who did you kill to get your hands on THAT little trinket.

Daria: (tries to play it off) What little trinket?

Jane: Now, now, don't try to hide from this one. (Jane walks closer as Daria straightens up and places the pendant in her hand to look at it) Damn, you MUST have a social life that I didn't know about because it sure looks like your involved with SOMEBODY. Hell it looks like a fortune was spent on this little baby. (Turns it over to see some words engraved) "From across the sea and forever yours", what the hell does that mean?

Daria: Hey, maybe it means that I'm in love with myself. Did you ever think of that?

Jane: Never crossed my mind for a second, Daria. You have many faults, But narcissism isn't one of them. Now who's the guy, and why the HELL have I not heard a damned thing about him?

Daria: Jane, look at me. Do you HONESTLY think that I would ever be able to find a guy who could live up to my standards?

Jane: You tell me, aren't you the one who once said that you didn't HAVE standards?

Daria: Dammit, I was wondering when that would come back around to bite me in the ass.

Jane: (throws her arms up) I THOUGHT were the kind of friends who could tell each other anything, Daria. Wait, let me guess. You're afraid that the same thing will happen between me and this guy that happened between you and Tom, am I right?

Daria: Not in the slightest. (Sighs and decides to make a concession as it's obvious that Jane is prepared to keep Daria up all night until she gets it out of her) I just didn't feel like putting up with your infernal matchmaking attempts.

Jane: Aha, so there IS a guy.

Daria: Yes Jane, you've figured out my secret. There's a guy... congratulations. You must have worked very hard to crack that case Mr. Holmes.

Jane: I can't believe this, my own friend has been holding out on me. So who is he and from whom did you steal him from? Hey, is this the mystery guy you were telling me about a while back?

Daria: HEY, you know Tom deciding to pursue me wasn't my idea. And I'd appreciate it if you wouldn't rub a past mistake as stupid as that one in my face.

Jane: ok... ok, I'm sorry. So who's the guy already, I'm dying to know.

Daria: You know if you keep pushing like this, dying just might be what you'll be doing.

Jane: (folds her arms across her chest in defiance) Hey, I'll take the risk. Do I at least know him?

Daria; You'll find out on Christmas, he's coming to dinner with us.

Jane: I have to wait THAT long? For gods sake, Daria. At least tell me how long you've been seeing the guy.

Daria: (rolls her eyes and sighs) All right, fine. I'll grant you that one piece of information. We've been together for six months.

Jane: Six MONTHS!!? You've had a boyfriend for six months and I haven't heard so much as a whisper? I don't believe this... I'm so pissed at you, Daria.

Daria: (looks amused) For what, trying to avoid having to watch you go through your yenta phase again?

Jane: Hey, that was only for your own good you know. I just wanted to make sure you found a little fun in your life.

Daria: By trying to hook me up with every guy I found even remotely interesting? No thank you, if I followed your advice I probably would have hooked up with every two bit slacker with his own band this side of the Mississippi.

Jane: Oh come on Daria, I'm not THAT bad.

Daria; Wanna bet?

Jane: (studies Daria for a long moment and realizes that it's probably true) (sighs) All right... Fine... but come Christmas I want ALL the details. Got that?

Daria: All will be revealed my friend. Maybe if your lucky I'll make it real easy for you to spot him by shoving him under the Christmas tree with a big bow stuck on his head.

Jane: (picks a chip up off the floor, smirks and chucks it at Daria) Keeping your sex life from me... shame on you Daria. (Daria looks repulsed at the mere mention that she might be sexually active as the scene faces to black)

(Cut to Jodie's apartment that same evening at almost the same time)

(Mac comes out of the bathroom looking for his good shoes)

Mac: Hey Jodie, have you seen my shoes?

Jodie: (Still standing near the phone) I think they're underneath the bed where you kicked them the last time you wore them.

Mac: (studies her for a moment) Are you ok, you sound bothered by something.

Jodie: (Walks toward him and wraps her arms about his neck to draw him close) Eh, it depends on how you look at it. I guess I just feel a little weird about not telling anyone that we've eloped.

Mac: I know, but we won't have to worry about that for to much longer. We eloped for a very good reason, it relived a lot of pressure from both our parents by living life the way WE want to.. We got to get married when We wanted the WAY we wanted to without having to bow to anyone else's whim., that's what we wanted., a small wedding on our own terms. This whole big traditional wedding we're planning is just so everyone else can have their thrill in helping to plan it without being slighted. As far as anyone else know's, we just happen to go to the same college which is why we're seen together so much.

Jodie: I know, I just feel weird about not telling Daria the truth. She's always been good at keeping things to herself.

Mac: I know she has, but even someone who's good at keeping a secret slips up once in a while. If everyone somehow found out that we eloped without inviting a soul, we'd have people pissed off at us for the rest of our lives.

Josie: I guess you're right, at least she'll be there at the formal wedding. I'm thinking about asking her to be my maid of honor.

Mac: (Laughs) I don't know, you told me how uncomfortable she looked when she was fitted for a bridesmaids dress. Think how she'll feel if she's the maid of honor?

Jodie: I'm sure she'll get over it. She's one of my best friends. (Gives Mac a kiss) Now go find your shoes before we're late.

(Fade into early Christmas morning about eight o'clock)

(Daria is seen lying down on the couch in Duncan's living room as Duncan briskly walks past her without a shirt on)

Duncan: So Jane noticed the pendant and figured us out did she? Well we knew it was going to happen.

Daria: All Jane knows is that I've had a boyfriend for the past six months who happened to buy me an expensive piece of jewelry. You wouldn't believe how hard she tried to dig for more information.

Duncan: I'm certain I would. (Walks past her again) Now where the hell did I put that new shirt I set out last night?

Daria: She thinks we're sexually active.

Duncan: (stops in his tracks and looks at Daria from where he is) Bloody hell, Daria. You didn't start feeding ideas into her head did you?

Daria: Of coarse not, she comes up with those ideas all on her own. But it is rather fun torturing her with a lack of information. There are so few things in this world that are as fulfilling as that. (Thinks for a moment) It doesn't bother you does it?

Duncan: (looks at her strangely) Does what bother me?

Daria; That we're not active... in that way.

Duncan: (smirks) I'm in no rush, Daria. Believe it or not, I'm just as innocent in that area as you are. So it's difficult to feel the need to have something I've never experienced in the first place.

Daria; You're kidding? Not even a kiss?

Duncan; (Laughs) I'm not THAT innocent, I've kissed a few girls here and there. I've had girl friends throughout my adolescence, granted none of those relationships were for very long. They wanted a relationship for all the wrong reasons so I was forced to enforce my principals and toss them to the wind.

Daria; Reasons such as?

Duncan: You know them as well as I do, Daria. Just to enhance their social status, or to prove to their peers that they are attractive and popular and can get cute guys, that sort of thing.

Daria: They have women like that in Scotland?

Duncan: A few, no where near like over here though. I can't stand most of the women over here, they all talk to much and care only about themselves.

Daria: And what about me?

Duncan: (finds his shirt and throws it on) Need you ask, Daria? I sought YOU out, that should pretty much tell you everything.

Daria; Well, you didn't really seek me out so to speak. We sort of just ... crossed paths.

Duncan: (sits down next to her on the couch) Well, however you want to look at it. I'm just happy that we did.

Daria: (pauses to think before changing the subject) So, are you ready to meet the folks?

Duncan: As long as they don't augment the questioning with Chinese water torture then I should be fine. I'm used to such questions, I would get them all the time from my mother whenever there was the slightest hint that I might have a girlfriend.

Daria; So I guess the fact that your parents are over seas works to our advantage then, huh?

Duncan: Until they come home, yes. After that it's open season on us.

Daria; We'd better stock up on decoys then, I don't want to get shot down on the first line of questioning now do I.

Duncan: Better bring chaff and flares instead, when my mom starts firing away with the questions she can be so to the point you'd think she had a laser designator. (reverts to the previous subject) Well, it's comforting to know that you're not bothered by it either.

Daria; You mean being questioned by your mother, or are we talking about the other thing again.

Duncan: The other thing.

Daria; (sighs) Well... in all honesty I'm perfectly comfortable with remaining abstinent.

Duncan: (pretends to wipe his brow) Well, that's a load off my...

Daria; (cuts him off and turns to look at Duncan indirectly) But... I do find myself wondering about fooling around once in a while. Like I admitted to Jane once, even I have hormones. I hate to admit it, but It's become increasingly harder to deny them as of late. (Looks at Duncan who is hanging on her words) Don't get your hopes up, I just said I thought about it once in a while. I didn't imply that I was ready to jump in the shower with you or anything.

Duncan; Wouldn't think of it, lass. (Daria smiles as Duncan starts to walk away toward the kitchen and the thought of Trent and Maria sitting on Jane's bed after Trent had been asked to move his hand, popped into her mind prompting an awkward request) (2)

Daria: (awkward tone in her voice) But before you go to feed your face... I was wondering if you could do something for me.

Duncan: (turns to face her) Anything, Name it.

Daria: (blushing) I can't help but be curious... about us, I mean we've never even talked about what's beyond kissing and well... I was curious to know what it's like to be touched... like that.

Duncan: (caught off guard and clears his throat) Um... how do you mean?

Daria: (looks him in the eyes) I... want you to touch me. Um... nothing frisky, just... keep it above the waist.

Duncan: (uneasy) Are you sure about that? I mean...

Daria: No not really... but I'd at least like to say that I tried something like that before returning to my right mind .

Duncan: Just like that? (Duncan shakes his head) NO! (walks up, pulls her up from the couch and wraps Daria in his arms and turns her around so her head rests against his shoulder) I don't think I could ever just handle you like that, I respect you far too much. But as far as general fooling around is concerned... then your wish is my command, lass. In fact, I was afraid you'd NEVER ask. (Smiles evilly And gives her a kiss at the base of each side of her neck)

Daria: Mmm... I think I think your proposition is much more comfortable than mine. Thanks for letting me out of it. (Daria smiles as he kisses her neck and Duncan changes the subject to further take her mind off her previous suggestion) So I wonder how Trent's doing with my family? (Daria Chuckles at this thought as they both fall back onto the couch with Daria landing in Duncan's lap)

(The scene blurs and comes back into focus on a small farm just outside of Falkirk Scotland. It is late in the afternoon here as that part of the world is several hours ahead of the US. Maria is seen standing next to a wide and slowly moving brook at the edge of a field full of tall grasses that have long since turned brown from the weather. Cheyenne, since Maria let go of the leash and gave instructions for her to mind the sheep in the field, has been running non stop around the field occasionally barking at an animal that had wandered where it wasn't supposed to. The dog still returns to Maria's side every ten minutes or so to mind her primary duties. After a long while, Trent comes stumbling though the tall grass in search of Maria)

Trent: Oh MAN, how can you manage to find your way through this stuff? It's hard enough for a person who can see.

Maria: (turns in the direction of Trent's voice and laughs) Oh Trent, this was my favorite spot when I was a kid. I used to wander away from my parents whenever they brought me over to visit my uncle, I know the way by heart tall grass or no. And if you're standing where I think you are then about ten paces to your left there's a narrow trail that leads all the way back up to the house.

Trent: You have to be kidding... you know this place THAT well? You left when you were five, I thought you said.

Maria: I did, Trent. But you can't possibly believe that my family doesn't return every now and again to visit.

Trent: No, I guess not. (Walks over to where she indicated and sure enough there is a trail. It's not as clearly defined as Maria had made it out to be but never the less, it was there.) I don't believe this, all that time I was walking blindly through the grass and there was a trail right near by.

Maria: Hey, it's no big deal. At least now you know how to find your way back. But as long as your down here, wish me a Merry Christmas and give me a big squeeze. (Holds her arms out for a hug)

Trent: Hmm, Gotta hear the accent first. (Maria drops her arms as if to say "again?") You know I love it when you talk like that.

Maria: (smiles and speaks in her native accent) C'mere an give me a hug before my parents get ye' all nackard tonight at dinner.

Trent: (walks forward an gives her a stiff hug as well as a long passionate kiss) Now that's the good stuff. (Trent is surprised when Maria pushes him so that he falls on his back and even more so when she finds her way to him and straddles his lap)

Maria: So tell me, as long as your pinned. What do you think of the farm?

Trent: It's cool, I can't say that I could really get used to the idea of being woken up by a crowing rooster in the morning or being asked to haul hay and feed out to the animals each morning and night. But having a job has actually allowed me to get used to being up in the morning, so it wasn't all THAT bad. I just wouldn't want to do it for a living. (Thinks for a moment) Hey Maria... Has your family said anything about me? You know, if they like me or not.

Maria: Trent, my parents love you, You know that.

Trent: I know, but what about your other relatives?

Maria: My uncle Nigel... he hasn't really said anything except that you and I together are bound to eat us all out of house and home before long. And my Aunt Grace... I don't know. She's almost impossible to get a read on. One minute you could swear she's got it in for you and the next she'll turn around and do something really sweet for you.

Trent: Yea, that sort of dawned on me this morning at breakfast when she asked if I'd slept with you yet. I never thought I could turn that shade of red.

Maria: (bursts out laughing) Yea, I'm pretty sure she did that on purpose too. It's a good thing you finally told her no, or she would have actually begun to wonder. Especially since they let us sleep in the same room because of a lack of space... and heat in the barn.

Trent: That would have sucked... no heat.

Maria: So you wouldn't have minded sleeping in the loft would you?

Trent: I've woke up in worse places, it wouldn't be such a big deal if didn't get so cold at night here.

Maria: It's winter, Trent. What do you want?

Trent: (Smiles and sits up with Maria still in his lap) I want YOU. (Gives her a kiss)

Maria: And if you play your cards right, you'll have me. Just not right now, it's Christmas and we're at my uncles house. Just be patient and things will come about eventually.

Trent: I can live with that. (Maria rolls off of him and lies flat on her back)

Maria: I love listening to the brook, sometimes it almost sounds like it's speaking to me.

Trent: (smiles jokingly) Are you sure that isn't the little Leprechauns in the woods or something?

Maria: That's Ireland you twit. We're in Scotland, we're famous for having rain most of the year and having the loch ness monster show up in the pond behind your house.

Trent: Oh yea, I get the two countries mixed up once in a while. (Pauses and looks at Maria) So... do you think that we'll ever end up together?

Maria: You're not going to propose to me out her in the field are you?

Trent: Oh... no, no, that's not what I was getting at. I didn't mean to mislead you.

Maria: Relax Trent, it was a joke. But it IS a nice thought.

Trent: I meant, do you think we'll eventually end up together.

Maria: (doesn't answer for several minutes) I'd like to think so, but hopefully we've both got a long life ahead of us so I wouldn't put any rush into it. It warms my heart to know you're thinking about me in that way though. It really does, Trent. (Rolls on her side to face Trent and draws him close for another long kiss)

(A call is heard from somewhere in the field from maria's father)

Michael Macleod: Maria... Trent. Supper'll be ready soon, hurry up and join the clan around the table.

Maria: (loudly) We'll be there, dad. (To Trent) I guess we'd better head in then.

Trent: I guess so, we still need to eat them all out of house and home. (Maria laughs and then calls Cheyenne to her side and takes the leash just before they both walk back to the house.)

Maria: I wonder if Aunt Grace is making haggis.

Trent: What the hell is haggis?

Maria: (smirks) You don't want to know. It's an acquired taste so if it gets shoved onto your plate then just eat it without asking questions. You can always puke it up later if you don't like it.

Trent: Whoa, sounds like a bad night at the pub. (Smiles) Who's bringing the stale beer?

Maria; Don't be an ass, Trent. Scots NEVER let good beer go stale. (They continue their trek back up to the house)

(Cut to the Morgendorffer Household around Christmas evening the in the western hemisphere. Jake is busy singing to himself while standing on a ladder while adding a few extra ornaments to the top of the tree, and Helen is busy in the kitchen making an attempt to cook Christmas dinner. The scene pulls back to the outside of the house as Daria and Duncan pull up to the curb in Duncan's truck. They both get out and stand next to each other in the driveway facing the house. If one listened closely enough, one could swear that the standoff theme to "the good, the bad, and the ugly" could be heard on the wind)

Daria: (turns to look at Duncan) Well... what do you think?

Duncan: (leans on his cane for a moment) Well, there's no sense in putting off the inevitable. I'd probably have to meet them sooner or later. It's better to get it over and done with now.

Daria; Are you sure, there's still time to run if you want to.

Duncan: And leave you standing all alone on Christmas, (shakes his head) Not a bloody chance in the pit of hades. But just in case they torture us with chit chat, did you bring any suicide pills?

Daria; Sorry, the pharmacy couldn't fill the prescription in time.

Duncan: (smirks) Bloody overpaid alchemists, they can never do anything on time can they?

Daria: No problem, worse comes to worse we'll just have to take my parents out first.

Duncan: Aye, I can live with that. Let's go then. (They both walk up the driveway together and ring the door bell in preparation to enter hell)

(From inside the house Helen can be heard ranting at Jake to be careful not to knock the tree over. After a moment the screech of a deadbolt is heard and the door opens to reveal Helen in a colorful Christmas outfit complete with a santa hat with her name written in sparkles)

Helen: Oh sweetie, it's so good to see you after so long.

Daria: Oh my god, mom what the hell are you wearing? Have you been trying to re-live the sixties again?

Helen: Oh Daria, I'm just trying to get into the spirit of things that's all. (Looks at Duncan) And who's this?

Daria: Um ... mom, I told you I was bringing another friend, remember?

Helen: Of coarse I remember, my mind is still as sharp as it ever was regardless of what games you may play with me over the phone. I was looking for something in the way of a NAME?

Duncan: (responds before Daria does) Mrs. Morgendorffer... I'm Duncan Macleod. (Shakes hands with Helen)

Helen: (Allows them to walk in the door past her and then closes it behind them) Duncan... it's nice to meet you. So how do you two know each other?

Daria: (reluctantly) Mom... Duncan's my significant other.

Helen: Significant other... , OH sweetie. You've got a boyfriend?

Daria: (looks nauseated) Yea... I guess you could call him that.

Jake: (still up on the ladder turns suddenly) What... Daria's met a guy? (Jake's sudden turn shifts the balance of the ladder and after wobbling a few times sends him falling into the tree and bringing it crashing to the floor along with him sending ornaments sprawling across the floor)

Helen: (turns to watch the commotion and pinches her sinuses) Oh Jake... for gods sake.

Jake: Dammit, Why can't they make these things more stable. How are you supposed to add all the decorations if you can't reach the top without tipping the damned thing over! Dammit again!

Daria: (turns to Duncan) Hey, maybe this won't be so bad after all.

Duncan: I have to admit, it's gotten off to an interesting start so far.

Helen: Jake, just pick the tree up later. Daria's brought someone over for dinner. (Turns to Duncan and laughs nervously) Don't mind him, he's... almost harmless. (Jake gets up and dusts himself off before coming over to meet Duncan)

Jake: Jake Morgendorffer, my man. How's it hanging?

Duncan: My man? (Looks at Daria) I'm his man now? (Looks back at Jake) That's funny, since you're married I had you pegged as straight.

Jake: (laughs nervously) Oh... of coarse I am, I was just trying to be friendly there. You know how it is, that old male bonding stuff. (Doing a poor job at being convincing)

Duncan: Aye, male bonding stuff, right.

Jake: (looks at him funny) eye... what about my eye? Helen... is my eye all blood shot again? You know how I get when I'm stressed out.

Daria: Dad, he didn't say a damned thing about your eye. He said "aye"

Jake: That's what I said, he mentioned something about my eye. So what is it, Duncan. It's not all bulgy and bloody shot or something gross is it?

Daria: Dammit dad, he didn't say a god damned thing about your eye. That's his way of saying yes.

Jake: OH... well then why doesn't he just say yes?

Duncan: Oh bloody hell, let's not get started on THAT subject again.

Daria: Dad, It's easier to understand him if he doesn't, just trust me on that okay.

Jake: But... (Helen cuts him off)

Helen: Jake, just let it be before you go off on another one of your rants. You KNOW what the doctor said.

Jake: Lousy Doctor, watch your heart he says. Don't eat fatty food he says, don't let yourself get too excited he says. Dammit, why doesn't he just let me live my own life the way I want to, or better yet. Why doesn't HE live it for me if he's that concerned.

Helen: (sighs) Never mind. (Turns to Daria and Duncan) So... can I take your coats, or get you something to eat. I was just preparing some hors' devoirs in the kitchen, maybe you'd like to try them?

Daria: (whispers to Duncan) Be warned, the most my mom ever cooked when I lived here was frozen lasagne.

Duncan: (in an equally hushed tone) Don't worry lass, if it moves I'll grab the pick axe out of the utility box in the truck and deal with it by my own means.

Daria: It must be great to be a firefighter, you get to carry such interesting tools in your truck.

Duncan: Aye, it should prove especially interesting if I'm unable to tolerate your parents.

Daria: Hey, I just want you to know I'll be behind you all the way and I didn't see a thing.

Duncan: That'll be comforting. (They entered the kitchen to have Helen show them what she had been preparing.)

Helen: So, what do you think. Shrimp cocktails, some vegetables and dip I made myself. And a few others, I forget what they are supposed to be called but I'm SURE they'll be delicious.

Daria; Well, at least she kept it simple. How's the turkey coming mom?

Helen: Slowly, but it'll get there. These things take time to cook you know.

Duncan: (walks over and flicks on the oven light to take a peek at the bird in question and then at the gauges on top of the oven) I think I'm going to be needed in here if dinner is to be salvaged. Do you want to give me a hand?

Daria: Oh no, I couldn't even bake cookies if my life depended on it. But if you like I'll walk around the kitchen occasionally and sample what you've got. (Winks)

Duncan: Deal. (Turns to Helen) Mrs. Morgendorffer, I know a bit about cooking. Would you mind a hand?

Helen: Oh well I... (thinks for a moment and decides it's better than nothing) Oh... um, I guess. Where did you learn to cook?

Duncan: My mom taught me all kinds of different ways around the kitchen, with the two of us together we'll be having dinner in no time. (Daria leans over and mumbles to him)

Daria: Do you honestly think you can salvage this?

Duncan: No worries lass, I hope you don't mind.

Daria: (smiles) Not at all, I can't wait to see what you come up with. (Gives Duncan a kiss on the cheek and walks into the other room to check on Jake)

(Duncan starts going through all the cupboards in search of various food stuffs while Helen tries to work in questions about his relationship with Daria)

(Daria walks into the living room on her way up to check out her old room only to see Jake trying to set the tree back up. As he attempts to tighten the screws on the tree stand he loses his grip on the tree and it tumbles back over on top of him. Daria chuckles as she watches Jake yell and curse at this fallen symbol of Christmas and she walks up the stairs shaking her head at this pathetic excuse for a man she had come to know as dad. Daria walked through the door to the room she had once known as her padded domicile only to see that the padding on the walls had since been removed. The room hadn't really been remodeled, it had just been cleaned up. The old Tv that had been attached to the ceiling had been removed along with the remains of the bars that had once lined the frames of the rooms two windows. In as much as the room was no longer her fortress of solitude, she still remembered it as home. In a way Daria almost wished she still lived here, while her family was intolerable and she was always surrounded by egotistical idiots, it was a familiar surrounding to her and as much as she hated to admit it to herself, this room was where many of her adolescent memories resided. It was almost like a journey into the past as her mind started to drift passing scenes of events and people long gone or who have simply continued on with life and simply weren't the same people as they once were. Daria smiled at this, at least when she was alone and there wasn't anyone around to remind her of the pain associated with those memories, it was actually sort of nice to stand there and reflect on her screwed up family and her demented but still interesting friends. Daria was momentarily startled out her daydream by a set of large hands accompanied by the smell of various foods wrapping themselves about her waist.)

Duncan: Hello love, you've been up here for a good while now. Is everything alright with you?

Daria: (Calms as she realizes who it is and allows Duncan to hold her tightly from behind) (inhales) Mmm, you smell good.

Duncan: Teaching your mother how to cook can do that to a man. I think your mom may be a little mad at me though.

Daria: You've gotten on her bad side already? What did you do to accomplish that little milestone?

Duncan: I kicked her out of her own kitchen. I'm sorry to say it but that woman can't cook worth a damn and she was getting in the way more than anything else. So I told her to go do something useful.

Daria: Whoa! And she let you live. Or at the very least she didn't try to file a lawsuit to collect for emotional damages.

Duncan: I don't think it would have worked if she had, the courts probably would have agreed with my side of things after tasting her cooking.

Daria: She was messing up dinner that badly huh?

Duncan: (starts counting on his fingers) The oven was set to low, the dip wasn't mixed right and she had some other sort of concoction simmering fit to burn on the stove just to name a few of the problems. I think we may need to call in a HAZMAT team later onto dispose of it all safely. Hell, I could go on forever with what was wrong in that kitchen.

Daria: I guess we all just narrowly avoided food poisoning then.

Duncan: Aye, it would seem that way.

Daria: I'm sure she'll get over it. So if things are going better in the kitchen, then what are you doing in here?

Duncan: Well, I'm done for the moment. I just have to wait a bit before I can baste the turkey, which gives me some time to spend with you in private.

Daria: (smiles warmly as Duncan still holding her from behind rests his chin on her shoulder right up against her cheek) It's funny, it doesn't even feel weird.

Duncan: What doesn't?

Daria: Letting you get this close. Before this morning the closest I'd ever let you get was a kiss and maybe a hug. What's happened to us since then to make me so comfortable around you?

Duncan: Hey, sometimes a little fooling around can tear down an emotional wall better than C-4. (Pauses) So... I didn't over step my bounds at all this morning I take it. Um... I know you just wanted to know what one thing was like for a brief moment and we sort of went past that.

Daria: (blushes heavily) Um... it's ok, I found my bra. It was stuffed between one of the couch cushions.

Duncan: (blushes just as heavily) Aye, well... that's not exactly what I was getting at but that's good to know.

Daria: It felt good... letting go and putting my hangups on the back burner for the moment, I mean. (Pauses) I still want to take things slowly... but giving the engine a little gas once in a while is Ok too, I guess. (Turns in his arms to face him and then pulls the pendant out from under her shirt to let it hang against her chest in full view.) Thank you for my gift, you really... REALLY didn't need to spend that much money on me. But thank you.

Duncan: (kisses her on the neck and then the lips) I did it because I love you. (Daria's mouth hangs open as she searches for the words with which she could utter an appropriate response when suddenly someone standing at the entrance to the rom clears her throat and raps her knuckles against the door)

Jane: (leaning against the door frame) Am I interrupting something here? (Duncan turns around putting his weight on his bad leg and stumbles to the floor)

Duncan: Ow... damn! (Climbs back to his feet) Dammit woman, don't you knock before entering a room?

Jane: (smirks) I did.

Daria: Well next time knock from down the hallway so we know you're coming.

Duncan: (decides to make a discrete exit to save face from that fact that he and Daria are caught in the act so to speak) Um... I'll just go see if Helen is trying to sneak back into the kitchen. (Grabs his cane and walks out of the room and down the hall)

Jane: (shakes her head and smiles evilly after he leaves) Duncan Macleod... I can't believe it. All this time the two of you have been hooking up right under my nose and I was none the wiser. .

Daria; We have NOT been hooking up right under your nose. That's too disgusting for my taste, we'd prefer behind your back. It's cleaner and it gives us more privacy. (Pauses while she studies Jane) So how long were you there?

Jane: Long enough to hear that you misplaced your bra this morning. (Daria turns beet red in embarrassment) Don't worry, I'll keep it to myself. Your reputation with everyone else will remain intact so long as I live.

Daria: I guess that means I can't threaten to kill you anymore.

Jane: Nope.

Daria: I'll have to threaten extreme torture from here on out then. (Jane laughs) So are you still pissed at me?

Jane: I think I'm more jealous than pissed, at least you've found yourself a decent guy. Who do I have?

Daria: What happened to the lone artist thing you had going?

Jane: I think it went the way of the doe-do when Tom left me for you. I suddenly felt like there was an empty space. But no matter, I'll soon fill that space with something or other, Just you watch. (Smiles) So getting back to the misplaced undergarment, How far did you let him get?

Daria: It was a personal moment, Jane. I'm not ABOUT to boast about it.

Jane: Wanna bet? (holds her arms high above her head in proclamation) Let the prying begin!! (Closes the door behind her after coming further into the room)

(Cut to Inside the home of Maria's uncle's home in Scotland)

(It is close to midnight here, everyone has since retired to their rooms after a gouging dinner and a whole lot of alcohol. Trent lies on his stomach in bed as Maria comes through the bedroom door from the bathroom.)

Maria: (feels around to her side for a familiar piece of furniture as a reference to her location) Trent, are you still awake?

Trent: (turns over and mumbles before belching from a full stomach) Mmph... yea, I'm awake.

Maria: Bet you never thought I could drink you under the table, huh?

Trent: Oh man, don't you ever get hangovers?

Maria: (finds her way to the bed and climbs in) Of coarse I do, But... if you had taken that little pill I gave you, you wouldn't have this problem.

Trent: What was that thing anyway?

Maria: An herbal supplement, it minimizes the effects of alcohol on the system. I take one whenever I come over here to visit for the holidays. I hate getting drunk, you know that.

Trent: Ugh... yea I know. I don't mind it myself but... oh man.

Maria; Still drunk huh?

Trent: A little.

Maria: (rolls over on him and straddles his lap) So lets see just how honest you get when your drunk.

Trent: (rubs his face) Honest??

Maria: (explores his face with her fingers and then gives him a kiss) Yea, Jane told me ALL about that. Jane told me how you have real problem hiding the truth when your judgement is impaired.

Trent: But... I'm not THAT drunk... anymore, I think.

Maria: That's even better, I don't want you passing out on me.

Trent: ok... (rubs his face again) What did you want to do?

Maria: (smiles evilly) Ask you some personal questions.

Trent: Oh no... no, don't do that. Come on... not the (hic) personal stuff. What if I say stuff that you don't like.

Maria: Oh I wouldn't worry about that, the worse that could happen is we just go to sleep tonight.

Trent: And... if you like the answers?

Maria: (runs her hands up the inside of his shirt) Everyone is out cold from drinking, so... we'll just see what happens. Maybe you'll get an extra gift this Christmas.

Trent: Do we have to do this? I hate tests, I never did that well on them in school.

Maria; Don't worry, this is a different kind of test. We'll start with the simple questions... ready?

Trent: (grunts) Ugh... man.

Maria: (smiles) Good, first things first, open wide. (She finds his mouth and drops a couple of breath mints in) That should help us along. First Question... What did you REALLY mean when you asked if I thought we'd end up together? (Trent just stares into space for several moments using every effort to think of a response)

(cut back to the Morgendorffer's shortly after dinner that same evening. Daria has since returned to her old room to search for anything she may have left behind when she moved while Jane and Duncan are helping with the dishes. After rifling through the closet for almost half an hour Daria comes upon a dusty old shoe box sitting on the top shelf that Daria used to keep old correspondence from pen pals across the globe.)

Daria: I'd have sworn that I'd thrown this away. (She opens the box to find that all of the old letters are there dating back to the eighties. Daria began to look through the letters individually noting that she hadn't written to some of these people in years. Daria couldn't help but wonder what had caused them to lose touch, there were just so many reasons, to many to count in fact. She continued to go through the letters until she came to a plane white envelope at the bottom of the box. The only thing written on the envelope were the words "To Daria". (3) After a moment of hard thought Daria came to the realization that this was the insignificant little envelope she had found on the couch underneath her on the day of Quinn's funeral.) Oh my god... I'd forgotten all about this thing. (She opened it for the first time since that day, the envelope tore as the glue had been undisturbed since it was sealed. Daria pulled out a single piece of paper with an all to familiar handwriting on it. Daria read to herself in the low light provided by a small lamp in the corner. It read as follows " Dear Daria, I'm sorry we couldn't talk long but I was told that time was limited and there were still things to do. I can't tell you what it's like to know that it could be what seems like forever before we'll be able to talk again. And I know that this is a stretch but I imagine it's only a matter of time before someone even as shallow as I had been is missed. I can only offer you the assurance that I will be around somewhere, and that if you ever feel the need to know that I am not really gone... just look for me in an open window." And the letter was signed Quinn. Daria stood in disbelief) I can't believe I never read that, GOD she sucked at writing. (The last part of the letter caught Daria's attention for a moment as it sparked the memory of something vague that had occurred just last year. Daria thought of the night she drove around town, and saw the mental image of herself looking out her bedroom window at her car after she had come back from the bathroom and found it mysteriously halfway open. The memory then flashed to when she had woke up at Duncan's the next morning only to find the same phenomenon just before Jane showed up at the door. Daria Quickly put two and two together to come to a startling realization) Oh my god... I've been set up! (Daria hears Duncan's voice behind her)

Duncan: Hey Lass... who's been set up?

Daria: (quickly crumples the letter) Oh... uh... nothing. I was just thinking of when I lived here and I'd glad I've managed to get myself set up in my own place.

Duncan: (doesn't quite wash with him but he let's it go none the less) Aye well, at any rate. The dishes are all done and Jane is keeping your parents entertained with some story about her brother living in a tent for six months. Frankly, I couldn't stand it so I came to find you. I didn't want you to get lonely.

Daria; (smiles) Really?

Duncan: Well, there's that and the fact that I didn't feel like being questioned anymore. I could see it in your mothers eyes that she was building towards another line of questioning and justifiable homicide was beginning to become an option.

Daria: Sorry, I should have warned you, my mom's a lawyer. She chews people up and spits them out for a living.

Duncan: I noticed, I can feel the bite marks on me Arse as it is. (Daria snickers at his pronunciation of the word) So, was I right? Would you like company, or should I just go back downstairs and bore myself to death with your parents.

Daria: Oh no, by all means stay here. Let Jane continue to keep them entertained. The worse thing that could happen is we'll come downstairs and find them tied up and covered in Christmas theme paints.

Duncan: Ohh, I love it when you talk dirty. (Turns her around and wraps his arms about her)

Daria: Well, at any rate it's official. Everybody knows we're together and the questions will be coming for along time to come.

Duncan: So your parents saw the pendant then?

Daria: Oh yea, they read the inscription on the back, slobbered all over it and the whole nine yards. They won't let me tuck it back under my shirt, as far as they're concerned it has to be in full view at all times.

Duncan: Well, don't worry. That's not what's important, but if it matters all that much to you there's very little else that can go wrong tonight. I mean dinner was saved, your family is happy, your happy, and Jane's been fed and we've grown closer in the past couple of days than we have in the past few moths . Though I have to admit, there's not much that can be said for your fathers attempt to save the tree, but stuff happens right?

Daria; Yea, I guess it's not so bad. At least we'll get to go home afterward.

Duncan: Aye, I'm just not looking forward to going back to an empty house.

Daria: No one said you had to... just don't get any ideas. You've had enough fun for one day.

Duncan: No worries lass. (Turn her around and plants a passionate kiss on her lips only to be blinded from the side by a brilliant flash)

Jane: (standing in the doorway) Alright! Caught in the act, what goes around comes around, eh Daria?

Duncan: (walks over to the door and slams it shut in Jane's face only to hear her give a yelp after the door rams into her nose) Damned woman, can't you read the invisible sign? It reads "room occupied, do not disturb"

Daria; Guess we nee to make the sign bigger.

Duncan: Aye, we'll just borrow Jane's paints when she's not torturing us with her art. (Daria laughs just before Duncan draws her close for another kiss and the scene fades to black)

The End...

Footnotes :

1. A reference to "Strange Bonds", Duncan met Quinn in a semi dream while unconscious in the hospital after being injured on the job.

2. Reference to "Strange Bonds", in the beginning of the story Jane was doing a painting of Trent and Maria when Jane noticed that Trent just happened to have his hand on one of Maria's breasts, which she didn't seem to mind all that much. They're a very openly affectionate couple.

3. A reference to "All Good Things", After Quinn's final talk with Daria in the middle of the night, Daria wakes up on the couch in the morning to find an envelope placed under her where she would be certain to find it. Unfortunately she never opened it before now.