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

Note : This story is the next in the Unseen Phenomenon Series,... it takes place at roughly the same time as "The Empty Hourglass."


(It was late in the afternoon as Daria peered out the window over the vast field of tall grass out side. The horizon glowed with a deep orange as the sun disappeared from view... it was likely already night over in the states. Daria sighed as a cyclic pulse rang in her ear from the receiver of the phone indicating that no one on the other end had picked up. After the tenth ring, Daria was all set to surrender to the fact that the recipient of her call was unavailable... again. To Daria's surprise someone finally picked up and transmitted a voice into the telephone wire that was instantly transmitted over seas allowing the long awaited conversation to finally take place.)

Jane: Road Kill Café, you kill it we grill it.

Daria: Yea... can I get a cat burger with extra tire marks... hold the fur. And do you deliver...?

Jane: (Laughs at hearing the voice of her long time friend) Hey Daria,... how's your vacation in Scotland? Duncan isn't keeping you up by playing the bagpipes again, is he?

Daria: No... I forbade him from playing those in the house a long time ago. No matter HOW good he is at it.

Jane: He's that good huh?

Daria: Take it this way... as long as I'm not getting ready for bed at the time and nobodies pet is nearby to sing along, then I'll actually stick around to listen.

Jane: And when you're trying to sleep?

Daria: It sounds like that cat I ordered when you first picked up the phone.

Jane: Whoa,... does he wear a kilt when he plays?

Daria: Oh hell no... he's a good looking guy but he's not THAT good looking. Besides... Maria looks better in one.

Jane: Let me guess... you walked in on Trent and Maria once didn't you?

Daria: And so what if I did? I don't think they heard me... and I've been purposely trying to block the memory.

Jane: My my, Daria. You don't still have affections for my brother do you? Find yourself thinking of him in the buff from time to time do you?

Daria: HELL no... I block the memory because Maria's long legs in that skirt wannabe was a turn on. And THAT scares me...

Jane: Scots don't traditionally wear anything under there do they?

Daria: Nope.

Jane: You saw more than just her legs didn't you...

Daria: Yup...

Jane: You're right... keep blocking that memory. We want to keep you on the straight and level.

Daria: Thanks for the support.

Jane: Hey... it's what I'm here for. So what else is new now that you've managed to catch me at home.

Daria: Not a whole lot really... the kids are having a ball playing hide and seek in a field of tall grass. And I 've been trying to get you on the phone all week long. Where the hell have you been?

Jane: Hey... I've been busy.

Daria: You and Tim went down to the Florida keys again didn't you?

Jane: It's one of the perks of having our own plane...

Daria: And money...

Jane: Hey... we sent some your way at your wedding.

Daria: That's not what I was trying to get at..but thank you. Incidentally... we've had no need to touch any of it yet.

Jane: Cool deal... but is that out of pride or are you actually saving it for an emergency?

Daria: As per instruction, Jane. (Jane laughs) Besides... I like watching the interest compound as the money sits in the bank.

Jane: Yea, a cool mill does tend to do that quickly. (Beat) ... Sorry I didn't tell you that I was going away,... it was sort of a spur of the moment thing. You understand..right?

Daria: I guess I don't really have a choice. By chance does this have anything to do with the um... problem?

Jane: (in a slightly depressed tone of voice) Yea... the traditional remedies just aren't working.

Daria: (sighs) Are you sure the problem is with you and not HIM?

Jane: (chuckles nervously) Um... yea... pretty sure. The doc says I'm defective... but he still says we've got a shot at it if we really try. So Tim and I have been trying to get away a lot... give ourselves plenty of chances to um... correct the problem.

Daria: Jane... are you SURE you want kids anyway? I mean... they ARE a handful.

Jane: Yea... I can see how much yours are driving you to the brink of insanity. But you hide the stress well in the form of contentedness.

Daria: Alright... I get the point. I haven't been spending enough time with you and you feel left out.

Jane: See what I mean, even when you talk to ME you sound like a good mother. Which means even when you're not with your kids you're thinking about them. Anything that can make somebody like YOU think about somebody else constantly can't be ALL bad. (Sighs) But as it stands I may not be able to have one.

Daria: (scowls) What do you mean "somebody like me"?

Jane: Nothing... I just mean. Well... you don't take to being around people easily, that's all.

Daria: (sighs heavily and drops it) You know... if you really want a kid that badly then there's always adoption.

Jane: (pauses for a moment in thought before answering) Nah... that's not for me. If you get an older kid then it's incredibly hard not to get a problem child to say nothing about getting the kid to acknowledge you as it's new mother. And even if you got a newborn... there's always the chance of a legal battle involving the birth mother. That happens more and more frequently these days you know.

Daria: You've been watching too much court Tv... sometimes you've just got to take your chances.

Jane: You're absolutely right, Daria. Want to donate an egg to me? (A long awkward pause ensues) Daria... it was a joke. I was kidding with you.

Daria: You sure about that?

Jane: Pretty sure... I'm afraid the kid would turn out to be something like your father. Personality traits ARE genetic you know.(Daria tries to keep herself from laughing as she imagines Jake as he is now in the body of a toddler)

Daria: Can't say I blame you there. (Jane laughs nervously as she wasn't quite sure if Daria was going to take that personally or not) Has the doctor suggested trying fertility drugs?

Jane: (scoffs) Please... do you have any idea what happens to people who take fertility drugs?

Daria: Yea... they end up on sick sad world after giving birth to quints. Haven't you always wanted to get on Tv?

Jane: Mtv maybe... but not as the sick and pathetic. I've always seen myself as creating an instructional video for the newly budding artist. You know... for those people who are too lazy to leave the home and take a class.

Daria: Like the ones who eventually gain so much weight that they can't leave the bed and have to have the walls of their home cut out so they can leave for treatment?

Jane: Especially THOSE people... they'd be my captive audience. (Daria laughs. In the background Jane can hear Ariel come into the house slamming the front door behind her so that Nicodemus can't follow as closely behind)

Ariel: (in the background) Mommy... lookit. Grasshopper... (Ariel yelps as the insect jumps out of her hand and Nicodemus who has now made his way into the house attempts to stomp it flat) No... mommy he's going to hurt it.

Daria: (sighs) You don't by chance want mine do you? (Jane bursts out laughing)

Jane: I'll let you go... it sounds like you've got your hands full.

Daria: No... but I will in a minute. Later...

Jane: Later... (Both Daria and Jane hang up and Daria turns to look at her two children who have turned their attention from the bug to wrestling with each other. The bug has in the meantime taken the opportunity to escape to somewhere else in the house)

Daria: (VO) You know... I really should stop this. (Beat) But as long as they're not breaking anything... (Out loud) Ariel... go for the body! The body...!! (VO) Hell... this beats pro wrestling AND I save a few bucks in the process. (Daria continues to look on at the kids as Duncan enters the room from another part of the house to see what the commotion is about)

(The scene fades to an hour later... Daria is once again talking to Jane on the phone.)

Jane: So the little monsters were beating the hell out of each other over a grasshopper?

Daria: Yea... go figure. And the worst part was that I actually found it all amusing.

Jane: The grasshopper or them beating the crap out of each other?

Daria: It reminded me of Quinn when she was that age.

Jane: Here we go... down memory lane again.

Daria: Oh shut up,... It's not like I'd be able to enjoy them if she were alive you know. She'd make sure it was well known that I beat her up for being attractive and popular.

Jane: And WAS that the reason... dare I ask?

Daria: Of coarse not... it was because she was there. What other reason did I need? (Beat) And of coarse there was the little thing about the web page software.

Jane: Naturally. You see... these are the things I'm missing out on.

Daria: You want to be a parent so you can watch your kids beat and torment the living hell out of each other?

Jane: Beats out daytime Tv doesn't it?

Daria: I wouldn't know... I never watched that crap. Somehow I just can't see myself getting caught up in the fictitious lives of a bunch of people on Tv who do nothing but sleep with each other and plot to destroy one another through paranoid delusions.

Jane: Yea... you're right. Real life is NOTHING like that.

Daria: (Reverts to the topic discussed on the previous phone conversation) Are you sure you don't want to try your doctors suggestion?

Jane: (gawks on her end of the phone) Well you certainly have something on your mind tonight... afraid I might actually take you up on that offer involving your kids?

Daria: No... it's just that if you want them that bad then it might be a good idea to explore every possibility.

Jane: Eh,... I'd prefer to do things the old fashioned way. You say the drugs are for fertility NOW... but what about in the future. What if I became addicted... I'd be spitting out kids like a rabbit. Before you know it the world would be full of Jane Ravens carbon copy's.

Daria: At least you could be sure that world would be a much more artistic place.

Jane: Maybe so, Daria. But why don't you give me some of your advice instead of fertility drugs... how did you and Duncan manage it so easily? (Daria looks off in thought for a moment as she reflects on events past.)

Daria: I wouldn't exactly say any of it was easy. (Daria looks about her to see if either of the kids were in earshot) It was a plain and simple accident.

Jane: I find that hard to believe considering how careful you and Duncan always were. (The scene blurs as Daria begins to explain just how everything started and comes back into focus seven years ago in Daria and Duncan's bedroom. The electricity is out due to a violent storm that had just recently passed through the area downing a few trees in the process. One of which happened to take a utility pole out with it along with the power. Inside the bedroom a lighted flashlight sits on a night stand next to the bed casting shadows in motion as the subjects of them move about on the bed accompanied by sounds of passion. )

Duncan: (Still in the midst of the activity, chuckles to himself as Daria moves about to assume the dominant position on top of him) Who says you can't have fun in the dark?

Daria: Probably anybody who's ever been afraid of it. (Lets out a grunt as she resumes with Duncan picking up the intensity a bit)

Duncan: If you don't mind my asking lass... what brought this on all of a sudden. (Daria bites her lip before responding as she continues)

Daria: Duncan, are you deliberately trying to kill the mood by asking such a dumb question?

Duncan: Not at all, love. I've just never known you to be this spontaneous about this sort of thing.

Daria: Who knows... maybe this whole thing about being in the dark made me feel vulnerable and the only way I could feel safe was to be close to you.

Duncan: (smirks) You ate those oysters I had in the fridge didn't you?

Daria: The whole damned bowl... they taste incredible in white marinara sauce. Bastard... if I'd known they had the same effect on women I never would have eaten... as many.

Duncan: So what it comes down to is that you're just simply horny?

Daria: (pants and rears her head back for a moment) By George I think he's got it.

Duncan: (looks awkwardly up at the silhouette of Daria's face created by the flashlight) So maybe we should wait until we're doing it for the right reasons?

Daria: Not until I get off,... almost there.

Duncan: Isn't that supposed to me MY line? (Daria leans far forward and squeezes his hips with her thighs and then seemingly collapses onto Duncan's chest with what sounded like a sigh of relief)

Daria: Ah... I feel better. Note to self... no more oysters before bed. (She rolls off of Duncan as if preparing for sleep) So... would you rather I do the womanly thing and talk for an hour about my feelings or should I just take after your example on previous occasions and just go right to sleep?

Duncan: I dunna do that...

Daria: On three occasions you've done that... all things considering it's not a bad track record at all. But you know us women,... we remember every bad thing you've ever done and hold it over your head for all eternity.

Duncan: Aye... I should have remembered that one. (Daria turns over to rest face down on the pillow as Duncan moves to dispose of the used protection) Uh oh... (Even in the dark you can see the whites of one of Daria eye's as it springs open wide)

Daria: Wait... what's uh oh?

Duncan: I think the thing broke.

Daria: What the hell does that mean,... you think the thing broke...?

Duncan: (pauses for a moment as he reaches for the flashlight to aid him) I KNOW the thing broke...

Daria: (rubs her face with her hands and utters a loud series of expletives while Duncan is disposing of the evidence) This is my fault I should have taken it easy...

Dunacan: Don't be hard on yourself, lass. I was the one wearing it... I should have realized earlier.

Daria: You're right... this is all your fault.

Duncan: (scowls) Hey... I thought we were supporting each other here!!

Daria: We are... but you were dumb enough to accept all the blame so I'm being supportive by agreeing with you. (Duncan mutters a few expletives of his own as the scene blurs and comes back in on the present with Jane now laughing her head off over the phone)

Jane: You became trapped in parenthood because you were too rough in bed for the device to handle. Oh my god that's rich... I should try that. I bet I'd be more successful having an accident than I have been with planned parenthood. (Daria is about to tell Jane off when Nicodemus comes walking into the kitchen to get himself some water and Daria is forced to edit herself )

Daria: Oh go fuuuuuuuuiiiiiiiiiind yourself something else to laugh at, Jane. (Jane stops laughing as she tries to figure out if Daria had just lost her mind or not. )

Jane: The kids just walked into the room?

Daria: How'd you know?

Jane: Because for the first time that I've heard of in your life,... you sounded like a complete retard.

Daria: (scowls) Just wait until Nick leaves the room my dear comrade, and THEN we shall mince words. Oh yes,... we shall.

Jane: (trying not to laugh) "Angels and ministers of grace... defend us." (Hamlet act 1 scene 4) (The scene fades out as Nick finally carries his glass into the other room and Jane and Daria take off the gloves as they exchange witty sarcasms that have been the hallmark of their friendship for years)

(Cut to the western hemisphere... it is mid-afternoon here on the same day given that the US is several hours behind Europe. The scene changes from the horizon just above Lawndale to inside the Morgendorffer home. Jake is seen in the kitchen popping several aspirin in the hopes that it will dull the pain of a persistent headache he's been experiencing. Helen having heard the aspirin bottle being opened for the third time today decided to leave her legal briefs at the couch in order to come investigate)

Helen: (upon entering the kitchen and spying Jake) Jake... that's the third time today. How long have you had this headache?

Jake: About two days now... it just doesn't want to go away.

Helen: Well don't you think it's about time you called the doctor if it's been going on this long?

Jake: (not wanting to listen to Helen go off on one of her rants, he forfeits the argument) Oh all right... I'll call in the morning. Are you happy now?

Helen: For gods sake Jake... if you don't watch out for your health then... You WILL...? (Stunned at the surprising ease of her victory without so much as a single reference to Jake's childhood or his father) Oh uh... I'm glad to hear it Jakie. (Decides to retreat back to her paperwork given that Jake's concession has taken the wind out of the argument she was prepared to present on the ten score reasons why Jake should get checked out. While back on the couch Helen finds herself carrying on a conversation with herself as to why after so many years of acting like a child when it came to such matters, Jake would all of a sudden give up the fight and do the adult thing by looking after his own health for once. In the background the phone begins to ring. Helen thinks nothing of it as after settling down to her paperwork. she's really not in the mood to answer the phone and talk to some solicitor.) Damn them... they'll call at ANY hour these days. Have they no decency in them at all? (Helen pauses in remorse as the voice of Daria's daughter Ariel comes over the answering machine and begins to leave a message directed towards her grandfather.) Damn!! (Helen bolts from her seat hoping to catch the child before she finished her message and hung up, but she picked up the phone only in time to hear the click of the receiver on the other end.) Good one Morgendorffer... you've mistaken your granddaughter for an annoying telemarketer. How dumb can you get...? (beat) Don't answer that, Morgendorffer. (Looks about) And who the hell am I talking too? (Sighs heavily as she looks through the caller ID so that she can return the child's phone call)

(On the other end Ariel chatted away excitedly as she told of her vacation in this other country that according to her was named after a brand of paper towel. Helen chuckled to herself for a good while at that one because if you thought about it... it did sound that way. After a long winded talk with her granddaughter... Daria decided to take over the conversation for a while sending Ariel off to play in the next room.)

Daria: Hey mom... I see Ariel's managed to master the telephone.

Helen: She's female sweetie... that's one of the FIRST things we master is the telephone.

Daria: Funny... I don't recall even using it until I was old enough to cancel a meeting with one of my teachers for you. (Helen laughs nervously)

Helen: Yes well... you weren't much of a conversationalist back then.

Daria: Like I am now...? And don't even start with that you're more well adjusted crap... I still answer the phone with hello... who are you... what do you want... goodbye.

Helen: I swear you and your husband are the same person some times... you have exactly the same attitude when it comes to talking to people.

Daria: (chuckles) I'll take that as a compliment then. (Beat) So how's dad doing?

Helen: Surprisingly well considering...

Daria: That could mean any one of a million things, mom. Care to be more specific?

Helen: Well... I asked him to go to the doctor and he didn't even put up a fight. He just agreed to go.

Daria: Wait... dad hasn't been feeling well? His heart isn't acting up again is it?

Helen: Oh no,... he's just had a persistent headache for a couple of days.

Daria: (impersonates Swartzeneggar from "Kindergarten Cop" ) It's NOT a tumor...

Helen: Excuse me...?

Daria: Oh nothing... just reassuring myself.

Helen: I see... well for your sake I hope you're right. Because if you've just jinxed your father...

Daria: (rolls her eyes in contempt) Oh give me a break mom... you don't believe in that do you?

Helen: I'm a lawyer sweetie... I believe in whatever the facts support.

Daria: Uh huh... I'm not even going to touch that one.

Helen: You'd be better off... well I've got to go. I have some paper work to get back to.

Daria: Workaholic to the end, eh mom? (Helen just laughs as she says goodnight and hangs up. Daria smirks as she takes a moment to stare at the phone, that had to be one of the first times she actually enjoyed talking to her mother over the telephone. As she could recall, all of the other times in the past when she had talked to Helen on the phone it was because Helen had been worried about something or other and was calling to check up on her. Daria pulls her attention away from her fascination with telecommunications and heads upstairs to go to bed. Later that night, after climbing underneath the warm covers and turning out the lights, Daria strangely finds herself restless and unable to sleep. As a result she tossed and turned until she came to the realization that her tossing was keeping Duncan awake, which usually meant that her tossing right next to him was putting him in the mood.) (VO) I might as well expend some energy as long as I'm up... who knows. It might even tire me out enough to go to sleep. Besides... it's only a matter of time before Duncan checks to see if I'm awake enough for sex anyway. (Daria turns towards Duncan and gives him a peck on the cheek, sure enough just as Daria had predicted, he was awake... and he got the message.)

(Cut to thirty minutes later... Daria and Duncan had just finished with their extra curricular activities and Daria now being exhausted from a very intense round of flat out sex, as opposed to the normal routine of love making, lie on top of Duncan resting against his chest with him still inside of her. Daria in her state of half sleep never noticed the bedroom door creek open allowing a sliver of light from the hallway to intrude upon the room. A shadowy form moved cautiously towards the bed as if the boogy man could jump out of any corner at any given time. Daria barely felt the edge of the bed dip down as weight was added to it followed by the rustling of covers that were covering Daria and her husbund. Daria felt the heart of both herself and Duncan stop at the same time when Ariel's voice pierced the darkness that filled the room)

Ariel: I couldn't sleep mommy... I'm wanna stay with you and dad tonight. (Beat) What are you and daddy doing...? (Neither Daria nor Duncan spoke for at least a minute as they search for some plausible line of B.S. they would be able to feed the child to get her to leave the room long enough for them to do a flight of the bumble bee in search of their sleep wear.)

Duncan: ... Um... We were...

Daria: Playing a game.

Ariel: (enthusiastically) Can I play...?

Daria/ Duncan: NO!!

Daria: Ariel... can you stand outside for a few minutes? Daddy and I need to decide who won the game.

Ariel: Then I can stay with you tonight?

Duncan: Aye lass... then you can stay with us.

Ariel: Okay... (Gets out of bed and scampers into the hallway. Daria and Duncan jump out of bed fumbling in the dark in search of their clothing)

Duncan: I can't believe we forgot to lock the bloody door.

Daria: We can't lock the door... when she came to open it and saw it was locked she'd get scared. That's just the way she is...

Duncan: You think she saw anything...?

Daria: (rolls her eyes in the dark) She must have seen SOMETHING... otherwise she wouldn't have asked what we were doing.

Duncan: Dammit... I blame myself. We should have finished up sooner.

Daria: Oh be quiet... don't rush anything. It's as much my fault as it is yours. Just give me a minute to grill her on what she thought she saw. (Daria finishes dressing and heads out into the hallway) Hey honey... how come you can't sleep?

Ariel: Granpa said he had to leave.

Daria: (scowls) (VO) What the hell does THAT mean...? (Out loud) I don't understand... what do you mean by "granpa said he had to leave"?

Ariel: I had a dream about him...

Daria: And...?

Ariel: Granpa said he had to go somewhere. Where does granpa have to go?

Daria: (looking slightly perplexed that her child would have such a strange dream) (VO) What the hell are you asking ME for... it was YOUR dream. (Out loud) Ariel... granpa isn't going anywhere. He's back at home just where we left him. And when we go home you'll see him again. Okay...?

Ariel: Promise...? (rocks back and forth uneasily) Cause he came in my room and said he had to go and that he would miss me. I don't want granpa to go...

Daria: I promise, grandpop isn't going anywhere but mentally insane. (Beat) Now um... about the game your father and I were playing...

Ariel: Were you playing doctor...? (Daria feels her heart jump into her throat at the notion that her seven years old daughter might have an idea as to what her parents were up to in the bedroom)

Daria: Excuse me?

Ariel: My teacher at school sometimes plays that game with the school nurse in her office... they forget to lock the door too sometimes. Is that the game you and daddy were playing.

Daria: (scowls for a moment and then suppresses her anger before Ariel comes to the misconception that she's angry at her) No... daddy and I were playing a different game. But it's just for grownups... you're not allowed to play this game until you're much older. Okay...?

Ariel: (looks down at her feet) Okay... that game looks complicated anyway. People make too many funny noises when they play it.

Daria: (cautiously) Ariel... when you saw your teacher. Did he or she do anything to you or ask you to play?

Ariel: Nope... I don't think I got seen. They were busy so I just got my band aid and left... I had a booboo on my arm from the playground and it had blood. (Beat) Are you gonna open up a can of whoop ass on my teacher and the nurse when we get home?

Daria: (sighs deeply in relief and then scowls) Ariel... you have two choices. Either you stop using that A- word or you stop watching Tv altogether.

Ariel: (looks down at her feet) Okay... (Daria smiles knowing all too well which one Ariel chose)

Daria: And yes... I am. A very very large KEG. (Beat) Ariel... that was a very mature thing you did by leaving the room. I'm proud of you for using good judgement... but you should have told somebody sooner about what they were doing, okay?

Ariel: ... Okay. (looks up at her mother with intrigue) Can I stay with you and daddy now?

Daria: Yes... you can stay with us. (Picks Ariel up and carries her into the room)

(The scene cuts to about eight o'clock back in the US, Helen opens her still heavy eyes to find that she is alone in bed this morning.)

Helen: (VO) Oh for gods sake, Jake must have gotten up for a midnight snack and fallen asleep on the couch again. God... I hate it when he does that. (Helen tosses the covers off herself in an effort to bring herself further into consciousness. In attempt to keep the spice in their relationship, Helen had decided to try to peak Jake's interest by coming to bed wearing nothing but a pair of panties. While not exactly the body of a twenty year old, Helen has still managed to keep herself in reasonably good shape. Something she notices for herself as she passes the mirror in search of her robe. Helen stops in front of the mirror pushes her full breasts up against her body and then watches as they flop back down against her chest.) At least they're not sagging TOO much... (Helen finds her robe and heads down the stairs to find Jake. Upon reaching the bottom of the stairs Helen looks about to find that the couch is undisturbed) He's never been on the couch... where could he be? (In a slightly louder tone of voice) Jake...? (louder) Jake where the HELL are you hiding at? (Disgusted) Oh... I swear Jake. If you went out on a drive to the store at this time of the morning JUST to get yourself a sandwich you could have made here at home... As if we don't have any food in the house. (Helen walks into the kitchen and to her amazement finds Jake with his head down on the table and a cold plate of lasagna out in front of him) (VO) Now there's a first... (Out loud) Jake, for gods sake get up. You're going to hurt your back if you stay like that. Honestly... you're the only person your age who could possibly be comfortable with falling asleep at the kitchen table. (Helen shakes Jake's shoulder but he doesn't stir. A loud rustle of Jakes red striped pajamas is heard as Helen shakes him harder) Come on Jake... you can't stay here all day. Get up...! (She shakes him again and his head just turns to the side somewhat. Helen moves to smack his cheek only to discover that he is cool to the touch. A feeling of panic begins to flood Helen's mind as she places her finger against Jake's neck to check his pulse. Her lips begin to tremble as reality sets in... her knee's weaken and she sinks into the chair next to Jake) Oh god Jakie... no. NO... (Helen begins to sob uncontrollably, her tears soaking a napkin that Jake had placed on the table in preparation of his midnight snack. In a fit of despair Helen wraps her arms about Jake's body in a desperate attempt to hold on to her life as she knew it. But it was long for naught... Jake had been dead for several hours now. )

(The scene cuts to Scotland. It is mid morning of the same day... Duncan has long since gotten out of bed along with Ariel and is downstairs cooking breakfast for everybody. Daria heads down the stairs as everyone else is finishing breakfast, the kids come bustling past her into the living room to watch the morning Tv programs. Upon entering the kitchen Duncan sets a plate down at the table for Daria, which she eagerly sits down to eat. After a few bites, Daria turns to face Duncan)

Daria: Ariel came to me saying she had a strange dream last night...

Duncan: (turns from the stove to face Daria) Aye...? Was this while you were "grilling her?"

Daria: Don't be a jerk, Duncan. And yes... along with other things she told me which I will pass on to you at a more appropriate time.

Duncan: What the bloody hell does THAT mean?

Daria: It means that when we get back to the states I will need you to help me kill various members of the faculty at Oak Ridge Elementary. (Duncan is about to request more information when Daria cuts him off) But like I said... I'll grant full disclosure later on when the kids are out of the house. (Duncan concedes and allows Daria to continue)

Duncan: So you were saying about Ariel...? (In the background the kids can be heard arguing with each other until finally they direct their attention towards the parents to intervene)

Ariel: Mommy... Nick's changing the channel on me. Make him put it back...

Nicodemus: That show is stupid... it's got guys in skirts.

Daria: (rolls her eyes in disgust) You know... I don't recall ever giving my parents this much trouble regarding Tv.

Duncan: Let me guess... you didn't have much interest in the thing, period...?

Daria: I had my nose buried in a book most of the time. And because of it I was able to ignore the world around me for as long as I possibly good. By the time I took my nose out of the books I had gotten my first menstrual cycle and I noticed that I was growing boobs.

Duncan: Hopefully one of the books you read was on biology so you could be spared "the talk".

Daria: I did... but it didn't help. My dad tried to give it to me anyway... several times over the years in fact. To date he's never completed it successfully.

Duncan: And still... you're as well adjusted as you are. How do you do it...?

Daria: I'm just biding my time until I know the correct way to take out a rectory full of pedophile priests. I figure as long as I have pent up sexual frustration... I might as well vent it in a way that would benefit society.

Duncan: Just make sure you get it all on video. I want to be able to sell the movie rights while you're in prison.

Daria: Just make sure I get my cut... or I'll send my bitch after you. (Duncan laughs as another call goes out from the kids in the next room. Daria groans as she gets up to investigate)

Duncan: Kids... can't live with em'. Can't sell em' either... (Duncan walks over to the kitchen table after Daria has left the room and picks up the newspaper to read it.)

(While Daria is in the living room mediating the dispute by shutting the Tv of all together and making the kids talk to each other instead, the phone is heard ringing several times in the kitchen. Daria feels the urge to say something to Duncan after it rings for the fifth time but then it stops and she assumes that her husband, if he knew what was good for him, got the phone. About ten minutes later Duncan pokes his head through the kitchen door with a sullen look on his face)

Duncan: Love...?

Daria: Last name Hewitt... what do you want?

Duncan: Can I see you in the kitchen for a minute...?

Daria: It can't wait...?

Duncan: No love... I need to talk to you. (Daria scowls as it has never been like Duncan to make demands of her. She turns to look at him and just by his eyes she can tell that something is wrong, compelling her to comply with his request. The scene changes to inside the kitchen approximately ten minutes later. Daria sits in a chair at the kitchen table with a look of complete astoundment)

Daria: I can't believe it... why did my mother tell YOU and not me?

Duncan: I dunno love... maybe she couldn't face you at the moment. She was pretty broken up about it.

Daria: (Scowls) Well of COARSE she's broken up about it... I'M broken up about it! I just can't believe it... with no warning what so ever? Did she say how it happened, ,... was it his heart again?

Duncan: She didn't say... she just found him this morning in the kitchen. The coroner was there as she spoke to me so it might be some time before we know. (Daria places her face in her hands as she tries to grasp the situation)

Daria: How am I going to face Ariel...?

Duncan: The best we can... I doubt she even knows what death is.

Daria: NO... I mean I made a promise to her last night. She had a bad dream about my dad leaving and I promised her that he wasn't going to go anywhere.

Duncan: Oh boy... talk about your bad timing. Do you want back up when you go to talk to her?

Daria: I'm not even sure HOW to talk to her. I've never broken a promise to her in my life.

Duncan: You had no way of knowing... you can't beat yourself up for that. Nobody knows the mind of death...

Daria: (looking from the corner of her eyes) If you only knew... (The scene fades as Duncan stares at Daria with a look of confusion)

(Cut to a day later... Duncan after spending hours on the phone wit the airline has convinced them to bump their return flight home up to that day and the family is preparing to leave for home. Ariel as well as Nicodemus have been badgering their parents all morning long as to why they have to leave for home so early, and every time Daria finds herself having to avoid giving them an answer with parental nonsense. Something she herself hated when she was a child knowing full well that "Because I said so" was merely a reason not to give an actual answer.)

Duncan: (As Daria deposits her suitcase near the front door, Duncan approaches her) We have to tell them, Daria. It will be so much harder on them if you just spring it on them as your father is being lowered into a deep hole in the ground.

Daria: (wipes a tear from the corner of her eye) I know,... but I can only imagine how their going to take it.

Duncan: Kids will take it as they take losing anything. They'll kick and scream and cry until they fall asleep. But what concerns me more at the moment is... how are YOU taking all of this.

Daria: (sighs and pauses in thought before replying) I've weathered death before...

Duncan: Aye... but you've never had to explain it to a couple of seven year old children. And at least they'll express themselves though sadness. I've yet to see you shed one bloody tear...

Daria: (smirks weakly) One's never enough for you, is it?

Duncan: (places a hand on Daria's shoulder as a gesture of support) Daria...?

Daria: Look... I'm fine. I just deal with things differently than most people. The way I look at it... death is just like a vacation. Sooner or later you'll meet up with everybody again..right?

Duncan: I hope so... hell would be boring without you. Besides... I'll need somebody to plan my coup for me. (Daria chuckles very lightly before sighing and heading into the kitchen to talk to the kids and get it over with. While she is in the kitchen the doorbell rings and Duncan moves to answer it,... standing at the door is a tall man with long brown hair tied back into a ponytail. He is dressed in Khaki's from shoulder to ankle with exception of black boots and a floor length black over coat)

Duncan: Aye... what can I do you for?

Man: About a grand and a bottle of Kentucky whisky if you've got it. But be gentle for gods sake... (He smirks as Duncan is taken completely off guard by his comment)

Duncan: (crosses his arms about his chest presenting himself as a very formidable and forbidding roadblock in front of his home) Who are you and who the hell sent you?

Man: Not hell... that's for certain. (Beat) I apologize for disturbing you sir... I'm an express messenger with a letter for a Mrs. Daria Macleod. Are you her...? (he smirks as Duncan expresses irritation) Sorry... I mean is she at home?

Duncan: Bloody yanks... what are you doing working over here?

Man: Yanks...? (bites his tongue to avoid speaking exactly what's on his mind) Well sir... us "Yanks" are sort of like a rash. We spread all over just to irritate you in every way possible.

Duncan: Aye... and you do a good job at it too.

Man: Thank you sir. But I'm afraid business must intervene... is Mrs. Macleod at home?

Duncan: Aye... but your timing couldn't be worse. She's unavailable at the moment.

Man: I'm sorry to hear that, are you her husband? (Duncan nods) That's fine sir... if you'll sign for her them I'll be on my way. (He hands Duncan a clipboard and he signs. As he does so... Duncan looks the man up and down)

Duncan: So how do you like this job?

Man: (smirks) What can I say... it's death.

Duncan: Aye... I hear you. The boss is a slave driver is he?

Man: Not at all... he's pretty cool. Get's a little pissed at people around here for various reasons but he's still got a lot of patience.

Duncan: That's rare. (The man hands Duncan an envelope and he turns to walk away as Duncan is closing the door.)

Man: (stops in his tracks but does not turn) Oh and Duncan... Quinn says hi. (Duncan swings the door back open to inquire how the man knew his name since he had merely signed the name Macleod... but the man is nowhere to be seen. As if he had vanished into thin air. Duncan closed the door warily and puts the letter in Daria's carry on where she'll be sure to find it. He planned to inform her just as soon as she was done with the kids.)

(Cut to about an hour later... Ariel has run out of the kitchen calling Daria a fibber the whole way up the stairs to her room. Nicodemus is still sitting in the kitchen trying to absorb the situation between sobs. Daria comes walking out of the kitchen seeking consolation of her own from Duncan)

Daria: I feel like I've destroyed their worlds. Ariel thinks I lied to her when I told her that my dad wasn't going anywhere. I should never have promised her...

Duncan: It's not your fault lass... she'll understand that in time.

Daria: (sighs and looks up into Duncan's eyes) Promise...?

Duncan: I'm afraid I've already learned from your mistakes, love. (Daria smirks and punches him in the shoulder) Listen, before I forget. There was a messenger at the door with a letter for you while you were in the kitchen... I put it in your carry on.

Daria: A messenger... who was it from?

Duncan: I didn't look... I was just glad the guy left. He gave me the creeps for some reason.

Daria: He gave YOU the creeps? Why, what did he look like?

Duncan: He was dressed oddly for a messenger, but nothing weird or menacing... tall guy, long hair, Khaki's, and a black trench coat. He just gave me the creeps for some reason. (Daria stares at him with a peculiar look ) What... you act like I just stared death itself in the face.

(Cut to Scotland international airport later that day, Daria is busy talking on the payphone to Jane)

Jane: So you're on your way home then?

Daria: Yea... we're at the airport now. Our plane is scheduled to leave in an hour, so we should arrive in the states roughly about seven thirty. And that's if there are no delays.

Jane: Here's hoping... you just make sure you make it here safe and sound. Ever since that whole 9-11 thing I've been completely turned off about flying commercially. Yup... me and Tim just sick to the old seaplane to do our traveling. It's a very versatile aircraft. If we planned the route right we could make it all the way to Europe with only one stop for gas.

Daria: Want the keys to the house here for your next conception attempt? (Beat) Jane...? (Daria yanks the receiver away from her ear as an air horn blast comes through loud and clear) Ow god... I'm deaf. (Beat) What the hell was THAT for?

Jane: Just felt the urge to be an asshole, that's all. And if we decide to go then I'll take you up on that offer... thanks.

Daria: (rubs her ear) Don't mention it. I'll see you at the airport.

Jane: Later... (Hangs up and Daria turns to walk back to her family only to find Duncan searching through all of his pockets)

Daria: Why don't I like the sight of this?

Duncan: Because I think my pocket got picked... that's why. I can't find our tickets...

Daria: (pinches her sinuses) Duncan... I've got enough stress right now. You DID have them with you when we arrived at the airport didn't you? You didn't forget them at the house?

Duncan: I forgot NOTHING... I had them on me the whole time.

Daria: Hey... you don't need to get pissy at me.

Duncan: (sighs) It had to be that lady I bumped into on my way out of the bathroom... bloody pick pockets.

Daria: What lady... what did she look like?

Duncan: I bumped into some woman outside of the bathroom... I didn't get a good look... maybe a few inches taller than you. She wore this cobalt blue vest that wasn't zipped all the way.

Daria: (crosses her arms) You didn't get a good look but you remember a vest? Were you admiring the vest or her chest, Duncan?

Duncan: (scowls) It wasn't like that!! The thing just sticks out in my mind is all...

Daria: (glares) The thing that sticks out of your pants is more like it. (Shakes her head) You men are always thinking with the wrong head... you can't even tell when you've had your pocket picked. My fathers viewing is tomorrow... what the hell are we supposed to do now? (Sighs) Oh crap... wait. How much money was in your wallet?

Duncan: That's the WEIRD thing,... it wasn't taken.

Daria: Let me get this straight... a pick pocket took our plane tickets but not our money? This world gets weirder and weirder every day... I just can't stand it. What the hell are we going to do?

Duncan: Calm down, we'll talk to the airport police. Maybe we can work something out with the airline after we file a report.

Daria: (getting frustrated) Duncan... read my damned lips. My father has died... I don't care about a report... I don't care about a refund. I just want to go home so I can at least have the dignity of paying my respects to my dad and family. Now go get us tickets on the next flight as long as we still have our money or there's going to be ANOTHER death in the family. (Without a word Duncan flusters and heads off toward the ticket counter. Daria meanwhile takes the kids over to a bench and has a seat near a Tv.)

Ariel: Mommy... are you going to make daddy go away like granpa did? (Daria looks at her daughter as if she'd just done the most horrible thing imaginable to her)

Daria: No... I'm just upset is all. I'd never wish your father to go away. Well... in this case only as far as the ticket counter. But that's not the same thing.

Ariel: Will dad ever go away...?

Daria: We all will someday... we talked about that this morning.

Ariel: Why...?

Daria: I don't know off hand... that's just the way things are I guess.

Ariel: Why...?

Daria: I don't know Ariel... mommy just isn't that smart.

Ariel; Why...?

Daria: (getting irritated) Because Barney the purple freggin dinosaur said so... okay?

Ariel: Barney makes people die...? (Daria stops to think of how there might actually be a truth in that. Though he may actually only contribute to the suicide rate being so high)

Daria: Yes... yes he does. Barney is evil and you must never watch him again.

Ariel: Does Barney know where granpa went?

Daria: (sighs as she knows this could go on for hours) No honey... Barney just drives adults to suicide. He doesn't know anything at all.

Ariel: I wanna go find granpa...

Daria: You can't Ariel... hopefully not for a very long time.

Ariel: Why...?

Daria: (pinches her sinuses) Ariel,... please don't start that again. Mommy has a huge headache.

Ariel: Did Barney give it to you?

Daria: (Pauses in thought) Yes... yes he did.

Ariel: Why...? (Daria just drops her head in her palms and for the first time since that morning, she starts to cry. The scene cuts to about an hour later when Duncan comes back to break the bad news.)

Duncan: (As he sits down on the bench waking his dozing wife) I'm sorry love... but the best they could do was to put us on standby for a flight in the morning. (Daria opens her eyes and straightens her glasses)

Daria: Why did he have to die NOW, Duncan? (Duncan kisses her forehead)

Duncan: I dunno love. It was just his time I guess.

Daria: (Sighs in understanding) I guess even a bargain has a time limit. I just hope my dad got everything he wanted out of it... (Duncan stares at her for a moment as he tries to figure out just what the hell she's talking about. In the background a plane can be seen through the window taxiing out to the runway)

Duncan: (sighs) Look... I think that was supposed to be our plane.

Daria: (rubs her eyes as she's still half asleep) God... this day can't get any worse. (Ariel comes running over from a nearby trash can)

Ariel: Mommy... lookit what I've got!! (She holds in her hands a set of what appears to be airline tickets. Waving them in front of her parents as if she'd found gold. Duncan takes them from Ariel and looks them over several times with astonishment)

Duncan: Where did you find these?

Ariel: A lady asked me to give them to you.

Daria; What lady? (Ariel points to just beyond the trash can)

Ariel: THAT lady... (Ariel looks to where she has just pointed but the mystery person is gone) She WAS there... honest.

Duncan: (turns to his wife) Daria... these are our airline tickets.

Daria: (sighs) What good are they to us now? The plane has left...

Duncan: We missed the flight... maybe we can get a refund. (Daria sighs as she turns her attention to the airplane which can still be seen as it powers up it's engines on the runway and begins to accelerate. )

Daria: I guess... (The family watches the plane speed down the runway almost to the point of takeoff. Puffs of white smoke emerge from the front tires of the aircraft which can commonly be associated with touchdown of the tires. Except the plane tilted to the left and then leveled out a fraction of a second before sparks where seen on the pavement and the nose of the aircraft crumpled to the ground with the rear of the airplane still being supported by the remaining undercarriage as it slid down the runway. A few second later the airframe itself failed at the mid section causing that to collapse and the rear section of the aircraft to peel off to the side with that section erupting in flames as it rolled away sending pieces of wing and other shrapnel flying in all directions and leaving a trail of flames and debris behind it. Daria covered the eyes of her children as she herself watched in horror at what was unfolding. People could be seen being strewn from the aircraft as the two sections traveled their separate ways... some of them still on fire. People from all directions crowd the windows and call out in despair in fear for their loved ones who may have been on the plane. The airwaves are crowded with cell phone calls almost instantly, and just as quickly all of the nearby payphones become occupied making a call home to the states impossible. Daria and her family could do little more at the time than to look on with horror as rescue vehicles appear on the scene. The scene fades out.)

(The scene fades back in.. .. The scene is that of a hotel room several hours into the evening. The children are sitting quietly on the floor near the tv set... it is not on, and they do not talk to each other. Duncan is nearby in the bathroom leaning on the sink counter and staring at his own reflection in the mirror... his eyes seem weary as the stress of the day has taken it's toll on him. Concern for his family is evident in his face as he muses over what could have been... if not for chance, what WOULD have been.)

Duncan: (muttering to himself) But were alive...

(The scene cuts to the main room... Daria is sitting on the bed with the phone stuck to her ear as she attempts relentlessly to call the states. Daria dials a series of numbers yet probably for the umpteenth time that evening and for the first time since the airport Daria jumps. Only this time it is because instead of a "we are experiencing unusually high call traffic" recording, the phone actually begins to ring)

Daria: I don't believe it... (Duncan calls from the bathroom inquiring as to what is going on. In the receiver against Daria's ear, the phone continues to ring until finally a well known scratchy voice answers.)

Jane: Hola...?

Daria: Jane... thank GOD!!

Jane: DARIA... I could say the same thing? Why the hell didn't you call sooner? Everybody over here has been going out of their minds since they heard what happened to your plane. CNN is saying they found no survivors... and your mom has been soaking the pillow on her bed ever since. Why the HELL haven't you called if you're okay? And what the hell happened... not that I'm saying you not being on the plane is a bad thing. I'm happy as all hell to hear your voice. Is your family okay?

Daria: We're all fine... the phone lines have just been jammed is all.

Jane: So what happened?

Daria: We never got on the plane... Our tickets got picked from Duncan's pocket and we missed the flight.

Jane: What flight... from what I heard the plane never got off the ground. They're saying that the front tires blew out in quick succession and after dragging on the ground the nose gear collapsed. They've been repeating footage from the Airport tower camera's all day.

Daria: You were worried?

Jane: Well DUH... I thought my best friend and her entire family suffered a fiery and insufferable death. I soaked MY pillow... but you'll keep that to yourself now won't you?

Daria: Perhaps...

Jane: Yea,... yea... Tim is gassing up the plane as we speak. He figures if we make a stop in Nova Scotia before crossing the Atlantic then we should have gas to spare.

Daria: (scowls) How'd you know what I was going to ask?

Jane: Daria please... After what you've just been through. I wouldn't trust the airlines to take me home either. Fortunately... Tim is so meticulous about his plane that if he even THINKS a system could malfunction, he swaps it out. Hold on... (Tim is heard in the background over the phone) Tim's back... he says we'll be on our way in about an hour. Meet us down by the marina on the south shore... peer four at ten. (Beat) We should make it by morning... so get some sleep.

Daria: Speaking of sleep... when is he going to get any?

Jane: We'll be there for a good while before you come to meet us. We'll catch some Z's and some gas in the mean time. (Sighs) And don't worry... your mother made sure the funeral director was cooperative. The viewing has been pushed back a day... just so she can try to get a grip on things. But if I were you... I'd make her the next person on your call list. I'm pretty sure she could use some GOOD news about now. The fact that you're all ALIVE would be a good example.

Daria: (Breathes heavily into the phone) Yea... if I can get through to her.

Jane: I'll let you go then... later.

Daria: Later... (She hangs up and stares at her children lying on the floor beyond the foot of the bed. They still appear traumatized as normally they would have inquired as to who was on the phone the moment she started to dial. But they hel their tongues until now)

Nick: Mom... was that aunt Jane? (Daria nods yes) Cool... I'm gonna make sure dad didn't cut himself shaving or something.

Daria: If you want to have a heart to heart with you father,... why don't you just say so? (Nick says nothing but gets up to head into the bathroom. Once he has left that part of the room, Ariel speaks up.)

Ariel: (Gets up off the floor and flops herself down on the bed in front of Daria) Mom...? (Daria perks her head up in response) I'm sorry for calling you a fibber... you didn't know about the man.

Daria: (scowls) What man...?

Ariel: The one in my dream... he brought granpa to say goodbye.

Daria: You didn't tell me this... what did he look like?

Ariel: I dunno... he wouldn't show himself. Just stayed where it was shadowy and let granpa talk to me.

Daria: Did the man talk at all?

Ariel: Uh huh... said I shouldn't be scared `cause I'd get to see granpa again someday. He was nice... and funny. Made jokes about granpa that made me laugh.

Daria: If all this happened... why did you think I lied to you?

Ariel: `cause you've always known if stuff was just a bad dream... I didn't want it to be true. (Beat) ... Also said that if I told you that it should just be between us `cause people would think I was weird in the head or something.

Daria: He's probably got a point. (Sighs) Are you okay,... I mean with granpa dying? (Ariel shakes her head veimently)

Ariel: But I'll get okay. Gotta cry some more... `motions feel like a knot down here. (Gestures toward her stomach. )

Daria: You're pretty smart to know all that at your age.

Ariel: I get it from you... gonna get smart from school some day and do... something. I think... (Daria chuckles and encourages her daughter to climb under the covers for bed)

Daria: I've got to call my mom before we go to sleep though.

Ariel: Will she be sad?

Daria: She's got a lot of reason to be... but at the same time she'll also be happy for us. It'll just be hard for her to show it. Now come on to bed. (Ariel shakes her head drawing a scowl from her mother) What do you mean no?

Ariel: If I come to bed with you, that means I'll be between dad and you all night.

Daria: (raises an eyebrow) Yea...?

Ariel: I saw dad had oranges and gatorade for snack earlier. (Daria yanks the top sheet of the bed along with one of the pillows and begins to make a spot for them on the floor) Whatcha doing?

Daria: If your father ate THAT stuff then I don't want to be in bed with him either.

Ariel: What about Nick?

Daria: Don't worry about him... that's how guys bond. They stink each other out of bed at night. (Ariel laughs and climbs under the sheet with Daria)

(The scene fades out and comes back in at the airport. All of the rescue vehicles have left the scene... but floodlights remain to light the area for the officials on scene who are attempting to gather all of the information they can about the crash.. The scene pulls way back to inside the airport, at the terminal the plane had departed from. Even at this time of night people bustle about trying to catch their flights since the rest of the airport is still open for business. A man wearing khaki's and a black trench coat is seen staring out the terminal window at the wreck at the far end of that particular runway, and although several guards and national guardsman pass through the area... he goes unnoticed by anyone. The man is soon joined by a woman wearing jeans and a lavender sweat shirt,... she has slung over her shoulder what looks like a high power tranquilizer gun with a scope on it)

Woman: Hey Paul... I heard about today. Sounds like you were pretty busy, huh?

Paul: Pretty... half of them are still in the waiting room. (The woman nods)

Woman: I also heard from one of our guardians that you pulled a family off the list at the last second. You going soft on the job?

Paul: (crosses his arms and scowls) Are you cupids always this nosy?

Woman: I really wish you wouldn't call me by my office, Paul.

Paul: (sighs) Sorry, Vicky. (She nods in acknowledgment) And no,... I'm not going soft. I can do the job just fine... I just have some issues that needed to be dealt with first.

Vicky: Like?

Paul: Issues... okay?

Vicky: Okay... so why did you pull them off? You pull a boner and schedule them wrong or something?

Paul: Did you shoot me by accident?

Vicky: Excuse you?

Paul: Don't mess with me, Vicky. Did you accidentally shoot me with one of your darts?

Vicky: Of coarse not... and even if I did they wouldn't work on you. Just on the living... why? (Paul just sighs heavily) Okay... is it safe to say that your questions have something to do with today? (Paul just nods) Okay... so what's the common denominator. It's got to be that Daria,..right? You've been hanging around her over the past few years. (Paul just nods)

Paul: I had to collect her father recently... I told the guy that he couldn't say goodbye to his wife. But then I turned around and let him say goodbye to his granddaughter personally while only letting him give his daughter a letter... that I delivered myself.

Vicky: Have you LOST it?

Paul: Not yet... but almost I think. She's a good kid, the granddaughter... I cut up on the grandfather to make her laugh. And then to take her mind off things... I showed her what she'd look like when she was an adult.

Vicky: MAN... is this not like you. (Feels his forehead)

Paul: And then... I realized that I was allowing myself to get too close. So instead of escorting Jake to see his daughter I just hand delivered the letter to her husband so that I could maintain a distance.

Vicky: You act like you've never had a friend before. (Jokingly) Or are you afraid that you might care about your job hurting somebody for once? (Paul doesn't reply and after a minute it all begins to sink in) You DO care about her... don't you. (Paul doesn't reply) Oh CRAP... you care about her THAT way. (Paul still doesn't reply) When did this happen?

Paul: I don't know... I only just realized it when she and her family were getting ready to board the plane.

Vicky: What are you going to do?

Paul: Nothing,... if I did something it could unravel her entire family. I pulled them off the plane to buy some time to think about the situation.

Vicky: But...

Paul: (glares) I do NOT destroy people's lives for my own benefit... no matter what my personal feelings are. I just know that I wasn't prepared to have to confront her feeling the way I do.

Vicky: So what now?

Paul: Her family remains the same... but I've suspended Daria's expiration date until I can figure this mess out. I pulled strings for her father... if she asks, I did the same for her out of friendship. Until I set a new date the choice is hers... if she decides before I have a chance to sort things out then I'll have Simon collect her.

Vicky: You'll have to confront her eventually... you know that. She'll decide sooner or later...

Paul: I know. But she doesn't ever need to know... I think if I can just watch her be happy from a distance then I'll be okay.

Vicky: (looks on at him solemnly) You're a good man to be able to give up someone you care about just for the sake of their happiness. You know that... right?

Paul: I'm not sure of WHAT I know right now.

Vicky: Mind if I ask a question?

Paul: (smirks) Shoot...

Vicky: What's it feel like? (Paul turns and scowls at her) What... just because I dish it out doesn't mean I 've experienced it for myself. I think you're the first among us to experience THAT kind. So what's it like...?

Paul: Heart wrenching... (Smirks) Got something to numb it up so I don't do something stupid?

Vicky: You... do something stupid? For a GIRL? Never... (Paul scowls again) Oh you party pooper... Hang on. (She pulls something resembling a hypospray out of her pocket) The darts don't work on US so it's debatable whether this will... but if it does then it should reduce the feeling by about eighty percent. I just hope I don't get in trouble for it... I'm only supposed to use it in case I ever DO miss my target. (She sticks him with it and he closes his eyes for a moment)

Paul: Speaking of which... I noticed you lost the bow and arrows. What's with the increased firepower?

Vicky: More accurate... longer range... and best of all. It makes me feel like a sniper... since I don't have to get in close I can take my time with the target.

Paul: (rubs his neck) Interesting... listen thanks for your help. Um... this conversation stays between us, right?

Vicky: Relax and go check on the waiting room... you've got a lot of work to catch up on. (With that she turns to walk away fading from view as she goes. Paul smiles for a moment and then sighs before walking off himself)

(The scene cuts to the next morning... Daria and her family are seen greeting Jane and Tim at the docks before boarding the plane for home. It would be a long trip and there was a lot to do in a short time. But if things went smoothly enough they would all be home in time to make the funeral. Since that one time with her daughter... Daria had yet to feel the urge to cry since. Things were strange with her family... and yet they gave her confidence. Helen would do enough crying for the both of them over the family's loss... and over the avoidance of a tragedy that could very well have cost Helen her own sanity. At least that's the way she saw it.

The End...

Comments and suggestions are always welcome.
I May be contacted at wildgoose81@hotmail.com