This fan fiction and associated stories were written for entertainment purposes only.

No money or other negotiable currency or goods have been exchanged.

Daria and associated characters are owned by MTV with all appropriate rights reserved.

Original characters and plot/dialogue are mine :)

Enjoy the show...

Chapter 2 - The Uninvited

Alex, Daria and Quinn walked at a moderate pace down Glendale Lane on their way to school.

'Ugh, why did Dad have to go to work early,' thought Quinn as she sidestepped to avoid a small bit of unidentifiable trash on the sidewalk.

"Will you two stop following me," whined Quinn as she stopped and turned to face her older brother and sister.

"Hate to break it to you Pip, but we go to the same school," responded Alex.

Before the Morgendorffer siblings could argue any further, a trio of their fellow students interrupted them. The three boys jogged up and, after taking a moment to catch their breath, turned to Quinn. The new arrivals either completely ignored or were simply oblivious to Daria and Alex.

"Hey, Quinn, can I carry your books," said the dark haired boy Alex recognized as Jeff, enthusiastically.

"Hey, Quinn, can I carry your... pencil," said the short brown haired Joey, trying to take Quinn's attention away from Jeffy.

Lagging slightly behind the other two, the blond with swept back hair caught up.

"Hey, Quinn, can I carry your, uh, um..." the boy he knew to be Jamie stumbled, not seeing anything else to carry for the girl. "Got anything else?"

Quinn rummaged through her pockets.

"I've got a hair scrunchy," said Quinn as she handed the bright pink hair restraint to the over-eager boy.

"Great!" Jamie exclaimed as he began to enthusiastically stretch and relax the scrunchy. He smiled at the small ring of neon pink cloth covered elastic as if it were the most interesting thing in the world.

"Ah, to be young and easily amused,"' mused Alex with a smirk as he crossed to the other side of the road and began to walk on towards school.

"Careful," warned Daria sarcastically. "That scrunchy might be loaded."

"Huh?" asked Jamie as one of his fingers slipped, causing the stretched device to fly free from his grasp and smack him right between the eyes.

With a satisfied smirk at the fulfillment of her warning, she walked past her younger sister and the enamored trio to join her brother on the other side of the street.

Once on the opposite sidewalk from their sister and her entourage, Alex and Daria continued their own trek towards Lawndale High.

"I'm starting to think we should take up Jane's offer to walk to school with us," commented Daria.

"That would be cool," replied Alex. "At least we would have someone interesting to talk to each morning."

"And we can get an extra 20 minutes each day to plan our take over of the town," added Daria.

"Insert maniacal laughter here," remarked Alex with a grin.

Claire Defoe stood up from her desk in the large open room that served as her art class. She stopped for a moment to secure her long curly red hair in a loose ponytail behind her and glanced back at the black board.


The word loomed in the center of the board in large white chalk letters. She turned back to the class and began to float from student to student, examining their progress on her current paused behind the one student, her favorite student, who never failed to impress her with every assignment.

The teacher watched as Jane reloaded her paintbrush and began bringing out definition to the face that took up the majority of her easel. The large smiling woman's face seemed to look directly at the viewer. Framed on each side of the face, two small chubby hands (slightly larger in scale) that reached upwards towards the face, but not touching it. The face loomed large and slightly distorted, especially in comparison to the more distant, smaller elements in the background.

Jane had managed to perfectly execute the impression that the smiling woman was looking down at the viewer. However, it wasn't the precision that impressed the older artist turned teacher most. What most impressed her was the amount of feeling the girl's paintings portrayed. The depth of emotion that was always present in each of the younger artist's works always managed to awe the older woman. Jane's current work was no exception, as the happiness displayed by the painted woman's smiling face virtually radiated from the canvas before her.

'Something in the eyes,' mused Ms. Defoe internally before commenting aloud. "Excellent work Jane. Your painting practically pulls me into it."

Ms. Defoe was rewarded with a glowing smile from the dark-haired girl who turned back to her painting. She continued to watch Jane add a few more highlights to the face's features before her attention was pulled elsewhere.

"Perspective is hard," stated a high-pitched squeaky voice.

The statement broke the art teacher from her appreciative reverie. Recognizing the distinctively squeaky voice, Ms. Defoe directed her attention to the small table directly behind her. Daria Morgendorffer and the source of the complaint were sharing that table. The teacher took note of the busty, blond cheerleader who was scrubbing her paper coarsely with the severely depleted eraser of her pencil.

"Perspective is really hard," Brittany Taylor repeated as she twirled one of her long ponytails around her finger.

"Especially when you don't have one," remarked Jane quietly to herself.

With a sigh, Clair Defoe stepped away from Jane's easel and moved towards the obviously befuddled young blond.

'Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach.'

The old adage ran through Alex's mind once more as he exited the class held by Mr. Johansen. Alex grew less content to submit to the hour's instruction by the so-called teacher and "musical coordinator" for Lawndale High. Alex had assumed the title 'Instrumental Musical Performance and Appreciation' would be little more than an overly inflated description of an activity more commonly labeled "Orchestra" or "Band".

Unfortunately, he discovered quickly that Lawndale's attempt at musical instruction courses fell far short of the even his cynically low expectations. While several of his fellow musically inclined classmates were far above what most would consider average in their musical abilities, the problem was their instructor.

'The man wouldn't know harmony if it bit him on the ass,' continued Alex mentally as he reached his locker and began exchanging books from it and his backpack.

Daria and Jane rounded the corner and spotted Alex immediately.

"Yo," greeted Jane as Daria began working on the combination lock to the locker next to her brother's.

"Hey," replied Alex shortly.

"Tough day in the salt mines I take it," remarked Daria, having sensed her brothers frustration.

"The usual," sighed Alex. "I am growing exceedingly weary of our so-called music teacher's lack of anything resembling musical ability."

"Old 'Dead Ear' getting to you, eh?" inquired Jane as she leaned casually against the lockers beside Daria.

"I think an actual deaf person would be an improvement at this point," remarked Alex dryly.

"I don't know why I even bring this to class," he continued, indicating his violin case as he slid it into his locker. "We hardly ever get to play anything during class."

"From what I've heard when you guys do get to play, that's probably for the best," remarked Daria closed her locker and the three began to make their way further down the hall.

"Yeah, I made the mistake of going to a school recital once," commented Jane. "I'd rather listen to my brother's band practice for 12 hours straight."

"The problem isn't that he's actually tone deaf," remarked Alex. "It's that he doesn't have the ability to coordinate more than three or four people."

"What do you mean?" asked Daria.

Alex furrowed his brow for a moment before continuing, "It's like when Dad tries to cook a multi-dish meal."

Daria smiled at the reference and understood immediately what her brother was saying.

"Gotcha," she remarked. "Give him something relatively simple with a limited number of elements..."

"... like a string quartet or similar small group setting, and he's golden. But give him a full band to arrange..." continued Alex.

"...and he gets overwhelmed..." added Daria.

"...then none of the individual portions turn out right... " the boy picked up.

"...and the whole thing falls through," his sister finished.

Jane turned her head back and forth from one twin to the other said, "You know, you two are down right scary when you get all 'Village of the Damned' on me."

"But if you know what the problem is why not just talk to him about it?" she continued.

"I would, but every time I try, he starts rattling on about his time on the New York Symphony," responded Alex. "Then his eyes get all glassy and he starts taking his mental trip in the Way Back Machine."

"You could always just take art with us Lex," suggested Daria.

"Believe me, I've considered it," responded Alex with a sigh. "Dealing with that man daily is enough to make me not want to play any more."

Jane shuddered at the thought of what it would be like if Ms. Defoe were as challenged artistically as Johansen was musically.

"I'd lose it..." she thought aloud.

"What?" asked Daria with a glance to her friend.

"Nothing, just thinking out loud," responded Jane.

"When the voices tell you to kill, remember to start with the teachers," deadpanned Daria.

"I'll probably just keep ignoring them," remarked Jane. "Killing sprees require too much effort."

"Speaking of too much effort, here comes Lawndale's resident overachiever now," commented Daria.

Jane and Alex turned to see an attractive African American couple approach. The girl's long black hair was done up in numerous neat braids that fell to just below her shoulders. The ends of her muscular male companion's shorter dreadlocks bounced slightly at shaven sides of his head with each step. Jodie Landon and Michael 'Mack' MacKenzie smiled as they approached the group.

"Mack," greeted Alex with a slight head nod and smile to the dark skinned boy.

"Madam President," Alex continued with another small smile towards Jodie.

"Hey, Alex," responded Jodie. "You know it's not too late to change your mind. The Student Council still needs a Treasurer."

"Thank you, no," replied the auburn headed boy. "That would require me to actually get involved in the inner workings of the Educational Machine."

"Too bad," Jodie said. "The offer is still open to you too, Daria."

"I have enough problems with the political jockeying of Lawndale without being a jockey myself," remarked Daria.

"Well you are the right height for the job," teased Jane drawing chuckles from Mack and Jodie and a smirk from Alex.

Daria narrowed her eyes at Jane and flatly replied, "I hate you."

"So what's up, guys?" inquired Mack.

"Not much," responded Jane. "Young Alexander here was just relaying his appreciation for Mr. Johansen's musical expertise."

"Or lack thereof," intoned Daria, drawing a chuckle from Mack.

"I understand completely," said Jodie. "My parents had me in the band for most of my freshman year."

"How'd you manage to escape?" asked Alex with a raised eyebrow.

"After the first school performance of the year, they decided that it wasn't 'an effective use of my time and talents'," she answered with a light smile of her own.

"In other words, the performance was so horrible that your folks pulled you out of it, and the class, to ensure that the Landon name wouldn't be associated with the auditory nightmare that is the Lawndale Performing Band," stated Alex.

"Got it in one," said Mack.

"Hate to break it up, but class is about to start and I don't want to be late to Home Ec," interjected Jane. "Come on Mack. Ready for an hour of domestic enlightenment?"

"Damn well rounded educational curriculum requirements," swore Mack jokingly.

Mack leaned in and gave Jodie a peck on the cheek before walking to join Jane.

"Catch you after practice, hon?" he asked.

"Sorry, Mack," replied Jodie with a sad look. "I've got a Student Council meeting and an organizational meeting for the school paper."

'It's always something,' thought Mack with a sigh, having halted his departure to make the inquiry.

"Guess we'll have time at Brittany's party," he stated with a small smile.

'At least she'll get a little time to de-stress this weekend,' Mack mentally added.

The sad expression on Jodie's face quickly erased the smile from his face.

"Oh, Mack, I'm sorry," began Jodie. "My community service project was moved up to this weekend. I'm going to be busy for the next two weeks."

"It's ok," said Mack with a resigned sigh as he walked past Alex and Daria.

"Later kids," said Jane as she and Mack resumed their walk towards their shared class.

Alex and Daria lounged in Jane's room as the room's owner flicked her paintbrush across a rather colorful canvas. A few stray droplets of paint splashed against the uncut and obviously unmeasured rolls of crimson fabric that served as the room's window drapes.

"Then she actually said 'But Daria ... we're in a building'," remarked Jane, mimicking Brittany's squeaky voice as she reloaded her paintbrush and resumed using it to launch paint towards the canvas.

"I still can't figure out why you kept trying to explain it to her," she continued.

"What can I say? I'm a glutton for punishment," responded Daria dryly.

"How did that girl get past the 1st grade?" asked Alex with a chuckle as he skimmed through one of Jane's old sketchbooks.

"Probably something to do with her bra having more material than the average 1st grader's wardrobe," commented Daria as she flipped through channels on the television.

"Speaking of which," said Alex. "These are really good. You never struck me as the life drawing type."

"Yeah, I did those last summer." Responded Jane as she tapped her brush into a blob of reddish paint.

The appreciative wolf whistle that escaped Alex's pursed lips prompted his sister to rise from her spot in front of the TV. She stood behind her brother as he flipped through the various pages filled with partial body sketches of female nudes.

"That class wasn't held on the moon by any chance was it?" inquired Daria as Alex flipped to a page taken up entirely by an extremely detailed pencil drawing of a well-endowed woman, reclining on a bench.

"Those should not be that ... perky in that position," commented Alex as he turned the sketchbook sideways and tilted his head slightly.

Daria casually removed the book from her brother's hands and began to step to the other side of the room.

"Hey!" complained Alex.

"You'll go blind," teased Daria with a smirk at her brother as she laid the sketchbook on a nearby shelf before returning to her spot in front of the television.

"Just kill a guys fun why don'cha," said Alex with a smirk of his own as he wiggled his glasses on his nose.

"Anyway," said Daria, as she rolled her eyes at Alex's comment. "Brittany invited me to her party, to show her appreciation for helping with the perspective drawing."

"No kidding?" asked Jane who paused in her painting and turned her head towards the other girl. "Are you going?"

"Sure. And after that, I think I'll swallow glass," responded Daria. "Why? Do you want to go?"

"Not really," said Jane. "I'd much rather stay home and listen to my brother practice the opening to 'Come as You Are'. Although I could probably get some good sketches there."

"Sketches would be good..." added Alex as he began to flip through another of Jane's sketchbooks. "But photos would be better."

"You may be onto something there," mused Jane.

'I think some of Dad's old gear is still lying around here somewhere,' She added mentally. 'I should get used to handling real camera equiment instead of just the usual disposables.'

"Well, I'm sure there'll be plenty of people posing either way," Daria said. "If you want to go, just make believe you're me."

"Yeah, all us freaks look alike when you're popular," remarked Alex.

Jane carefully removed Daria's glasses and held them up to her face.

"Hi, I'm Daria... Go to hell," Jane intoned in a flat monotone.

Alex grinned at Jane's purposefully poor imitation of his sister. Daria sat on the bed squinting at the other girl.

"It won't work," said Jane in her normal voice. "My face is too expressive."

"And your butt's too big," retorted Daria with a smirk as she snatched her glasses back from Jane.

A noise form the opposite side of the room drew both girls' attention. Daria and Jane turned to see Alex chuckling at his sister's comment. Jane's icy glare prompted the boy to cough and bury his nose in the sketchbook he had been perusing.

"You could always pretend to be him," Daria said pointing to her brother. "Brittany invited him too."

"And exactly how did I get dragged into this," asked Alex raising an eyebrow to his sister.

"Brittany told me I could bring 'That guy you're always hanging out with as your date'," replied Daria.

"Seriously, what is it with everyone thinking we're a couple instead of brother and sister," asked Alex.

"Like you said," interjected Jane. "All the freaks look alike when you're popular."

"Right. So what was your excuse?" asked Daria with a smirk.

'What to wear? What to wear,' thought Quinn as she stood before the mirror hanging from the door of her expansive closet. She held up dress after dress trying to determine which would be best for the occasion.

"Sheer, semi-sheer, or opaque," Quinn mused out loud as she held a series of skirts up to her waist.

"Textured!" she exclaimed as she tossed the other three skirts into the growing pile of clothes next to her closet door.

Daria took a moment to take in the decor of her little sister's room. Her gaze slowly appraised the canopy bed. Its lacy and ruffled pastel pink bedding mostly obscured by the army of stuffed animals neatly arranged on it. The large window behind the bed bore pastel pink drapes that matched the bedding. The white walls were decorated with poster-sized reproductions of covers from Elle, Vogue, Waif, and other fashion magazines. Daria also restrained a distasteful comment at the plethora of boy band posters and memorabilia that was also displayed. The slate gray office surplus desk that occupied her own room was a far cry from the fashionable carved white wooden desk that occupied the far corner of Quinn's room. Daria rolled her eyes slightly at the large mirror that was mounted onto the desk and shifted her attention back to her sister and the growing pile of discarded clothes.

"Isn't one of you enough?" came Daria's voice from the door.

The older girl smirked as she mentally formed images of Quinn with shifting skin tones matching the patterns of clothing her younger sister had been deciding between. Quinn turned to see Daria leaning against her doorway with her half smile gracing her lips.

'Why is she always so darn smug?' Quinn asked herself as a scowl fell over her face.

"Go away, I'm concentrating," said Quinn in her haughtiest voice. "I'm invited to a party Saturday night and I have to choose the perfect outfit."

She turned back to her reflection in the full length mirror attached to her closet door and raised her nose into the air as she held dresses in front of her body.

"Countdown: T-minus 72 hours to go," commented Daria entering her little sister's room fully. "Might this party be at Brittany's house?"

"Yes, and might you go away now," said Quinn as she bent over to pick up a top that might match the skirt she had decided on.

Halfway down, she stopped then straightened back up without retrieving the article she was reaching for. Daria could almost see the light bulb turn on over her sister's head and her subdued smile shifted slightly to a full-blown smirk.

"Hey... how do you know about it?" asked Quinn suspiciously.

"I'm invited, too..." said Daria unenthusiastically with smirk firmly in place. "But I haven't decided if I'll go."

"You can't go! You'll ruin everything!" yelled Quinn.

'She's just going to spend the entire night doing everything she can to embarrass me in front of everyone,' thought Quinn.

"You know, Mom is always saying I should broaden my social horizons," said Daria as her hand came up to rest on her chin and a feigned contemplative look replaced the smirk.

"Mom! Dad! Daria is ruining my life again!" whined Quinn angrily as she stormed out of her room and almost ran headlong into Alex as he reached the top of the stairs.

"Whoa there," said Alex as he caught Quinn by the shoulders. "Where's the fire?"

"Can't you and Daria, like go watch some French movie or something this Friday?" asked Quinn angrily.

"Sorry, no can do," Alex said to Quinn having caught the last portion of his sisters' loud argument. "She's making me go too."

Quinn's eyes grew wide. She pushed Alex aside and stormed down the stairs yelling, "Mooooom!!"

Alex checked his watch for the third time that sunny Friday morning. He glanced at his sister beside him on the front stoop of the Lane home.

"If she doesn't come out soon, we're going to be late for school," he stated.

"Maybe she was abducted by aliens last night, and they forgot to bring her back," Daria commented.

"Doubtful," responded Alex. "I'd give them an hour tops before they realized their error."

Alex raised his hand, about to knock on the door again, when the front door slid slowly open. Neither twin could contain their surprise as a sleepy-eyed and generally haggard looking Jane stood before them. She was obviously dressed for school. However, the zombie-like expression on her face told both Alex and Daria that she was far from awake.

The semi-conscious Jane issued an unintelligible grunt and wandered away from the open doorway, further into the house. Alex looked to his sister with an inquisitive expression. Daria replied with a shrugging of shoulders and entered the house.

Alex similarly stepped across the threshold and gently closed the door behind him. The sound of drawers and rattling of metal from their right drew their attention. They wandered through the small living room and its threadbare couch to see Jane standing at the counter of the moderately sized kitchen. Each Morgendorffer took a chair at the round Formica topped table and watched their friend's movements.

Jane shuffled jerkily around the kitchen with her eyes half closed. She moved from cabinet to cabinet, removing items and set them down on the table before filling a chipped coffee mug with hot water from the sink. The twins took note of the items Jane had placed on the table: a can of instant coffee, a box of powdered non-dairy creamer, a jar of strawberry jam and a small glass bowl of sugar. Jane returned from the sink with the lightly steaming cup and plopped down heavily into the empty chair on the opposite side from Daria and Alex.

Without a word she dug a large spoon into the can of coffee and shoved the small pile of black-brown dust directly into her mouth. She then did similarly with the non-dairy creamer and sugar in turn. At that point Jane brought the lightly steaming cup to her puckered lips and took a large swig of the hot liquid. After shaking her head violently with distended jaws, the girl swallowed audibly.

The results were almost immediate, as Jane's eyes went from half-mast to wide open.

"Yowza!" she exclaimed as she slammed her hand down on the table with a loud thump.

Alex and Daria stared open-mouthed at their friend as she then stood up and began preparing what appeared to be a conventional serving of coffee from the gathered products.

"What... in the name... of Juan Valdez... was that all about?" asked a bemused Alex.

"We Lane's aren't exactly morning people," Jane replied with a grin as she stood and made her way to the other side of the kitchen.

"So you still coming with us to Brittany's party?" asked Daria as she recovered from her friend's displayed morning routine.

"If you two can stomach going, I figure it's the least I can do," said Jane between sips as she slid two slices of bread into a battered toaster. "What kind of friend would I be if I let you two walk into the lion's den alone?"

"The kind of friend with nothing to do and no one else to hang out with on a Friday night," remarked Daria with a half smile.

"Curse you and your logical brain," quipped Jane, as she smacked the side of the smoking toaster causing the now stiff darkened bread to slowly rose from the device.

"Besides," she began as she pulled the slices out of the toaster and brought them back to the table to be liberally coated with strawberry jam. "Someone has to be there to photograph the slaughter when you two snap."

Alex, Daria and Jane sat in the front bench seat of a battered blue Plymouth Satellite. The car meandered down the quiet streetlight illuminated road.

Jane sat next to the window and moved her right arm in a wavelike motion against the wind as the car traveled down the quiet suburban street. The wind lightly grabbed her eye level bangs on occasion as she bobbed her head to the heavy rock music that poured from the car's interior speakers. Alex sat with his arms crossed, sandwiched tightly between Jane and his sister.

"So what's the game plan?" asked Jane as she continued to bob her head in time with the song.

"Find a comfy section of wall with a good vantage point and observe the gathered stupidity of our classmates," replied Alex. "Naturally taking every opportunity to help any humiliating moments reach their fullest potential."

"Simple... effective... with a minimal requirement for effort on our part," pondered Jane aloud. "My favorite kind of plan."

"We're going to be in an unsupervised venue with the cream of the mindless crop," remarked Alex with a half smile. "I doubt we'll even have to get directly involved."

"Ten bucks says someone spikes the punch bowl," stated Jane with a grin.

"You're on," remarked Alex as his half smile widened into a grin of his own.

Daria was only partially listening to the interchange between Jane and her brother. Instead, her attention remained primarily on the vehicle's other occupant. She cut her eyes nervously to the car's driver, seated uncomfortably close beside her.

Trent Lane slunk casually in the driver's section of the car's bench front seat. He ran his left hand through his short, curly, black hair. The hand descended to scratch his face just below the small triangle of hair that adorned his chin. His right hand rested lightly on the leather-clad steering wheel. The set of silver rings on his right hand clinked against the steering wheel and each other in time with the chords of the guitar that resounded through the song blaring inside the vehicle.

Daria couldn't help but notice the black tribal armband tattoo that wrapped around his wiry bicep. She noticed the bottom edge of another tattoo as it peeked from under the short-sleeved green shirt the man seated beside her wore. She almost smirked at the fact that both Lane siblings seemed to have an affinity for multiple ear piercings.

"Thanks for the ride, Trent," said Jane as the song on the radio ended with a fade out.

"No problem," answered Trent in a deep, almost sultry slow voice. "I needed a break anyway. I've been practicing for ten hours straight."

"Daria," Jane stated as she noticed her female friend's nervous expression. "Would you say sleeping with a guitar in your hands counts as practicing?"

"Depends on whether you drop it or not," chimed Alex from between the girls.

Trent gave a brief laugh punctuated by a short coughing fit, as he pulled the car to the edge of the sidewalk. The small gatehouse that marked the gated community Brittany lived in could be seen about twenty feet behind them.

"I'll let you off here," intoned Trent. "I have a problem dealing with authority."

"Sure you don't want to crash, bro?" inquired Jane as she batted her long eyelashes at her older brother.

"A high school party," he stated inquisitively. "Don't you think I'm a little mature for that?"

Jane shrugged and slid out of the car. Alex pulled himself out of the car and proceeded to stretch out his cramped legs before helping Daria exit the vehicle. Trent leaned over and pulled the passenger door closed with a loud clank.

"Don't do anything I wouldn't do," said Trent with a smile to his sister.

"That's a pretty short list there," retorted Jane.

"Later kids," the elder Lane called as the Satellite slowly began to pull away, its engine purring loudly in the night.

Alex and Jane gave short waves towards the car as Daria stood looking down at her boots.

"Bye," muttered Daria in a voice almost too soft to hear after the car had already pulled away.

"Nice conversational skills," teased Jane with a wide grin.

"I hate you," retorted Daria with a scowl.

The trio approached the guard station and was stopped by the middle-aged man wearing a poorly fitting security uniform. Alex restrained a chuckle as he noticed the fact that the uniform included a badge emblazoned with Lawndale Security Force.

"Can I help you?" the guard asked as he looked over the three teens.

"We're here for Brittany Taylor's party," replied Daria flatly.

"Names?" the guard asked curtly as he reached just inside the guardhouse's door and withdrew a clipboard.

"Daria Morgendorffer," stated Daria as she crossed her arms.

"Alexander Morgendorffer," stated Alex as he pushed his hands into the pockets of his green army jacket.

The guard flipped through a few pages and made two successive marks on the sheet.

"Okay, and you? What's your name?" he asked Jane curtly.

"Tiffany," replied Jane drawing sidelong glances from the Morgendorffer twins.

"There's gotta be one," she said to her companions in a hushed voice.

The guard again flipped through several sheets on the list and turned back to Jane.

"Tiffany Hodge, Tiffany Duke, Tiffany Fairchild or Tiffany Blum-Deckler?" he asked.

"Uh... Tiffany Duke," replied Jane hesitantly.

"Strike! You're out," the guard exclaimed with a smug smile. "I made that one up."

'Crap,' thought Jane as a dejected look fell over her face.

"Oh... she's not on the guest list. Umm... she's..." stumbled Daria as she tried to come up with some plausible excuse.

"She's my date," blurted Alex.

The comment caused both girls to turn and stare at him.

"And your name is Tiffany Duke, huh," said the guard with a skeptical expression painted across his face.

"What a coincidence," Jane said as she looped her arm with Alex's and draped herself over him from the side.

The Taylor home bristled with the buzz of dozens of teenagers. Youths of varying ages milled about and circulated around the large living room. The decor of the room and adjoining foyer could only be described as Early African Jungle. An assortment of mounted and stuffed African animal heads adorned the walls along with canvas maps of the continent. Other youth's milled and danced in the family and dining rooms on the opposing side of the foyer.

Quinn leaned against the large doorway that connected the dining room to the larger living room. Jamie, Joey and Jeffy crowded closely to her and hung on every inane word she uttered.

"So I said, 'Just because people are cliquey and snotty is no reason not to like them.'" stated Quinn.

The three boys nodded and voiced noncommittal announcements of feigned agreement to Quinn. Quinn sighed.

'Is it too much to ask for an actual conversation,' she thought to herself.

"I could use a snack," announced Quinn.

The three boys practically fell over each other as they ran to various points of the room to retrieve refreshments for the object of their shared affection.

Joey returned quickly holding a tall glass of ice cube laden lemonade.

"Here, I-I-I got you a drink," stuttered the eager boy as he practically shoved the glass into Quinn's hands.

Quinn looked at the offered beverage and scowled.

"This ice isn't crushed," complained Quinn.

"I'll go crush some," responded Joey with a dejected look.

"You know, Jeffy still sleeps with a teddy bear," he whispered as he turned and wandered across the dining room to get a new drink for Quinn.

Jeffy approached holding a large bowl of bite-sized pretzels. Quinn cast a quick glance to the table on the other end of the room confirmed the boy had simply brought her the bowl from the snack table. Jeffy extended to bowl towards Quinn and smiled widely.

Quinn crossed her arms, frowned then stated, "These aren't twisty."

Jeffy looked down at the bowl confused and said, "I'll go twist some."

As he turned back towards the snack table he leaned in near Quinn and whispered, "You know, Jamie's really a sloppy kisser."

"I heard it from a girl!" he exclaimed defensively in response to the startled and questioning look that graced Quinn's face.

Without another word, Jeffy turned and practically ran to the other side of the room.

Jamie approached passing the retreating Jeffy. He held out a single round snack cracker to Quinn and flashed his best smile.

"I like square crackers," Quinn started in a frustrated tone as she put her fists on her hips.

Jamie, thought for a moment and then proceeded to bite the rounded edges from the cracker.

"Here," he said extending the half eaten but now square cracker to the girl again. "You know Joey was with a..."

"Ugh, gross!" interrupted Quinn with obvious anger and frustration painted on her face.

'Why do I even bother?' the redhead asked herself as she stormed out of the den towards the foyer with her long red hair trailing behind her.

Joey and Jeffy returned to the doorway holding their assigned refreshments and stood beside Jamie. They peered around and turned to Jamie.

"Where's Quinn?" they asked in unison.

Alex, Daria and Jane stood before the large front door of the Taylor house. Daria reached up to ring the doorbell but let her extended finger hover over the button. She turned to Jane and her brother and asked, "You really want to do this?"

"You know, just because people are cliquey and snotty is no reason not to like them," said Jane with a grin.

"No, but it's a good reason to hate them," added Alex as he casually peeled Jane's arms from his own and stuffed his hands into their comfortable place in his jacket pockets.

A brief pout played across Jane's face for a moment before it was replaced with her usual jovial expression.

"Chin up, nose up," Jane stated in a haughty voice. She raised her chin to her normal eye level and looked down the bridge of her nose. "Let's go."

Daria's Mona Lisa smile played across her face for a moment and she pushed the button for the doorbell. The door swung open smoothly and the sounds of indecipherable music and a multitude of loud conversations poured from the open doorway. Brittany stood in the open space, still wearing her gold trimmed blue cheerleader's uniform.

"Daria, you're here! I'm so glad," chirped Brittany as she almost bounced in place at each word. "Now we're even!"

"Hey Brittany," replied Daria flatly.

"This is my brother, Alex," she continued hooking her thumb at the boy.

"This is Jane," said Daria shifting her hand towards Jane. "She wasn't invited, but she's good in art."

"But I have you for that," piped Brittany.

"Hmm ... what do you know about geometry?" asked the cheerleader as her face shifted to an almost thoughtful expression.

Alex sighed and grasped Jane's hand.

"She's my date," he said for the second time that evening, which prompted Jane to once again drape her self on his arm.

Brittany perked up and exclaimed "Wow! Come on in!"

Quinn walked to the edge of the living room and was about to step into the foyer when she heard the familiar sound of her sister's flat voice.

'Crap why did they actually have to show up?' Quinn asked herself as she ducked down behind the large ceramic tiger statue that stood beside the ornate staircase in the middle of the foyer. She peeked over the tiger's shoulder and saw Alex, Daria and Jane chatting with Brittany at the front door.

'And they brought that weird artsy girl with them,' she added mentally, noticing Jane.

'Interesting,' Quinn thought as she took note of the way Jane was practically wrapped around her brother's arm.

"There are drinks and snacks in the dining room," said Brittany as she extended her arms towards the open room just to the right of the foyer. Her Vannah White style pose drew a choked chuckle from Jane and caused a stifled smirk to play at the edges of Alex's lips.

"Alex, daaaahling," intoned Jane, emphasizing the last word. "Be a dear and fetch us some drinks."

Alex rolled his eyes and made his way to the refreshment table leaving the three girls standing at the door. Brittany smiled wandered off to continue her hostess duties.

"So," said Jane as she turned to Daria. "Ready to mingle?"

"Oh yeah," replied Daria flatly as she and the other girl headed into the dining room. "I'm a mingling machine."

Upon their departure, Quinn took the opportunity to vacate her hiding place. She made a beeline for the large family room to the left of the foyer, where she saw the other members of the Fashion Club conversing.

Daria and Jane walked through the crowd of their classmates and joined Alex at the long cloth-covered table. They examined the spread of snack chips, dips, chicken drummettes and assorted finger sandwiches neatly arranged around the large crystal punchbowl. The bowl was filled with ice cubes and what appeared to be lemonade.

"Look, two kinds of chips!" said Daria in a forced enthusiastic version of her voice as she examined the large bowl of mixed potato and tortilla chips.

"Flat or ridgy? You make the call," said Jane dramatically. "Alex what are your thoughts on the matter?"

The girls turned to see Alex standing behind them with a plate piled high with drummettes and finger sandwiches. He paused mid bite, his mouth full of chicken salad and mumbled a barely discernible, "What?"

"Mr. Morgendorffer," said someone behind Alex in a formal but cordial tone.

He swallowed the mouthful of food and turned to determine who had called his name. Seeing the grinning face of his friend pulled one corner of his lips into a half smile similar to one of his sister's. He set his still laden plate of food on the table beside him and turned to fully face the newcomer.

"Mr. Ruttheimer," replied Alex in a formal but cordial tone of his own as he extended his hand to the redhead freckled boy who now stood before him.

Charles Ruttheimer, III grasped the extended hand in a friendly shake.

"You're one of the last people I expected to see here Alex," replied the boy laughingly.

"You and I both Charles," remarked Alex with a smirk. "How did you manage to get punished with an invitation?"

"Oh, I just worked my irresistible magic on our fair hostess and she couldn't refuse my charms," stated Charles confidently.

"So you bribed her, and her sense of pity and charity took over," Alex reasoned jokingly.

"OK, OK," conceded Charles. "I dissected her frog in biology. There. Happy?"

"I'd probably be happier if I were anywhere but here," commented Alex.

Charles noticed Daria looking at her brother questioningly. He glanced at Jane who was staring at Alex with an expression that could not be described as anything other than disbelief.

"My dear friend," began Charles. "How could you be unhappy when you are accompanied by two such visions of loveliness as this."

"Ruttheimer... Charles Ruttheimer... The Third," said the boy as he held his hand out towards Daria.

Jane gave a small snort at the introduction. Daria simply continued to look at Charles with a bored and very disinterested expression while also ignoring the extended hand.

"Save the smooth talk buddy," remarked Alex with a chuckle.

"This is my sister Daria," he advised with a flat-palmed dramatic hand gesture.

Charles withdrew his neglected hand and continued to flash a toothy grin.

"I've seen you with her in AP Algebra," he commented indicating Daria. "However, I haven't had the pleasure."

"Something tells me, that statement applies to a large percentage of your social life," quipped Daria.

Alex chuckled and continued, "And this is Jane."

"Oh, I am familiar with Lawndale's resident artiste extraordinaire," interjected Charles, adding French laden emphasis to the title he bestowed to Jane. "How does this marvelous evening find you Ms. Lane?"

"It was finding me just fine until you got here, Upchuck," snarked Jane.

Sandi, Tiffany and Stacy stood in the middle of the Taylor's large family room. Sandi was currently having a conversation with a slimly built blond. Stacy gave little waves at the various teens that passed the group. Tiffany stood and quietly stared around the room. Quinn stormed into the room looking decidedly angry as she joined the rest of the Fashion Club.

"Why is it so hard for boys to get something as basic as a simple refreshment request right?" she asked aloud.

"Gee, Quinn," began Sandi. "I'm sorry your dates have been so horrible. Perhaps you should have thought of that before booking three for the party. Maybe restraining yourself to a single escort for the evening would have been prudent."

'Serves her right for trying to show up the rest of us by snagging three of the football team,' Sandi added mentally as a self-righteous smirk began to form on her face.

"Oh, I wouldn't say they've been horrible," remarked Quinn.

Quinn immediately saw that Sandi was attempting to turn the situation into something that could be used to make her look good at Quinn's expense.

"They are just a little ... uncoordinated," replied Quinn. "They've got a lot of potential. They just need someone to get them organized. And naaaaaturally you can't expect them to instantly know my personal preferences on the first date. I mean, they'd have to be psychic or something. No, it will probably take a few more dates to whip them into acceptable shape. It's not like I'm as popular or datable as you, Sandi. I have to make up in quantity what the rest of you have in quality."

Quinn finished her statement with a casual wave of her hand and a dramatic sigh.

"Well, before we were interrupted," replied Sandi in an obvious attempt to change the subject. "Tori was explaining the changes in the popularity scale of Lawndale."

Dawn hid a grin at how well Quinn had just played Sandi without leaving Sandi a way to turn it back around against the redhead.

"Where was I? Ah yes. Now, she used to be very popular," continued Tori, pointing at a petite brunette with an overly thin nose. "But then there was that unfortunate nose job."

The girls gave a collective shiver.

"Now, Those four aren't popular at all," said remarked Tori in a snobbish voice. "I don't know what they're doing here. Maybe some kind of exchange program."

The last comment caught the waning attention of both Tiffany and Stacy. They, as did Quinn and Sandi, turned to see Alex, Daria, Jane and Upchuck standing together in the Dining Room.

"But ... what's with that girl ... with the glasses?" asked Tiffany slowly. "Her face ... looks weird. All ... the same ... color.

Stacy squinted a bit as she examined Daria standing with the others.

"It's almost like ..." began Stacy.

"She's not wearing makeup," finished Tori.

Sandi scowled a bit deeper than normally at the realization.

"Is that a new look or something?" she asked.

"Dear God, I hope not," said the blond with a shiver.

"Didn't Joey say that he saw Quinn walking to school with them, or something?" asked Stacy.

'Crap!' thought Quinn.

"Well Quinn, would you care to explain your behavior?" inquired Sandi.

'I could say that they are my cousins,' Quinn thought. 'No, they'd never buy that. Well Tiffany would, but Sandi's too sharp for something like that.'

Quinn's panicked expression quickly evened into a pained and sad visage.

"I didn't have a choice," whined Quinn. "She's my sister."

The admission drew a collective gasp from the other four girls.

"My dad's car was in the shop and he and Mom made me walk to school with them," continued Quinn as she forced her lip to quiver

She shifted her voice to a strained almost tearful tone and continued, "You don't know what it's like being forced to live with someone so ... unfashionable."

"Whoa Quinn ... you're sooo strong," droned Tiffany.

The comment drew a stare from Sandi who was almost reveling in Quinn's admission.

"Yeah, Quinn," added Stacy. "I mean having to live with people that unpopular and unfashionable must be really hard."

'This is perfect,' thought Quinn.

"And that the guy with them ... is my brother," stated Quinn dramatically.

"Ugh," remarked Sandi as she immediately noticed Alex's ever-present army jacket. "Doesn't he know that camouflage is like, so out of season?"

"They're brains. You can't expect a brain to understand current fashion trends," remarked Quinn.

"Unfashionable and brains?" asked Sandi with a disgusted expression.

Tori put a comforting arm around Quinn and said, "Oh, Quinn, it must be terrible for you."

"Well," began Sandi. "Under the circumstances, I believe this situation can be overlooked. Unfortunately, we can't pick our family. I, too, know the humiliation of being burdened with unfashionable siblings."

Quinn regained her composure and made a show of brushing her cheeks.

"Thanks you guys," she said, with a small smile.

"Ah, but where are my manners?" asked Charles as he bowed dramatically to Daria and Jane.

"Probably in the Witness Protection Program with your common sense," stated Daria flatly drawing a chuckle from her brother and friend.

"Since you've had the misfortune of being escorted by this odious character..." continued Charles with a grin and a nod to Alex. "I'll be your social director for the evening. Would you ladies like a tour of the house? It's free."

"Do you accept tips?" asked Daria.

Charles raised an eyebrow and replied, "Of course."

"Ditch the bangs," quipped Daria to Jane and Alex's mutual amusement.

Charles grinned even wider at the not so veiled insult and purred, "Feisty."

He then draped an arm over the shoulders of both girls and wiggled his eyebrows. Both girls shrugged the boy's arms off as Alex laughed aloud at his friend's antics.

"Come on, Romeo," chided Alex. "Give us the nickel tour."

As Alex and Upchuck began heading towards the stairs, Jane turned to Daria with a questioning look and asked, "Alex actually likes Upchuck?"

"Well considering we've had to settle for hanging with you, our social standards have fallen pretty low," teased Daria with a half smile as she began to walk after the boys.

Jane shrugged her shoulders and jogged to catch her retreating friends.

Charles led the other three expertly but casually through each section of the home, providing brochure-like descriptions regarding the architecture and decor. The group meandered around the upstairs rooms and breezed quickly through the familiar downstairs rooms. They lingered briefly around the moderately sized swimming pool and obviously unfinished Jacuzzi taking up a significant portion of the home's backyard. Eventually, their journey brought the group back to the main foyer. Charles continued to lead them to the far end of the room and stopped before a wide door beside the large staircase.

"And this..." stated Charles indicating. "Is the make-out room."

The last comment was made with an exaggerated hip thrust that drew yet another smirk from Alex and a pair of eye rolls from Daria and Jane.

"Confidentially, it's really the laundry room," said Charles continued in a hushed voice.

The boy knocked on the door a few times and yelled, "Hey! Don't lean on the buttons!"

"Can it, Upchuck, or I'll break your face!" came a muffled and threatening male voice from the other side of the closed door. A feminine giggle accompanied the warning as the four turned and walked back to the loitering groups of classmates in the front portion of the house.

"And that ends our tour of Case de Taylor. Thank you for flying the Ruttheimer Express. Ask me later about how to collect your frequent traveler credits," stated Charles with a wiggle of eyebrows towards Daria and Jane.

"I'm more interested in your refund policy?" asked Daria.

"Yeah, I'd like to get the last 10 minutes of my life back," added Jane.

"Fair maidens," cheesed Charles as he draped an arm around Daria and Jane's shoulders. "You wound me."

"Not yet," stated Daria with a scowl. "But that will quickly change if you don't take your arm off of me... right... now!"

Jane made no comment, but graced Upchuck with an icy glare.

"My friend," commented Alex with a grin and a shake of his head. "I think you better head out before more than your ego gets bruised."

"Sage counsel indeed," replied Charles as he quickly withdrew his arms from Daria and Jane.

"Mr. Morgendorffer," stated Charles in the same manner he had greeted the boy.

"Mr. Ruttheimer," responded Alex in similar fashion with a nod of his head.

The three watched the redhead boy disappear into the crowd.

"Now I know why they call him Upchuck," commented Daria. "More than a few seconds of exposure to him will make you want to vomit."

"He's really not a bad guy once you get to know him," responded Alex.

"Kind of like how mold isn't all bad because we got penicillin from it," snarked Daria.

Unlike most of his classmates, Alex found Charles' honesty and bluntness refreshing. Granted, those traits were wrapped in the, sometimes grating, poor man's James Bond persona. However, that was the trait that endeared Charles to Alex and opened the way for the two to become fast friends. Despite the numerous insults and rejections Alex had witnessed his friend be subjected to, nothing ever got Charles down. More importantly, in Alex's eyes, Charles never went out of his way to conform to someone else's perception of who and what he should be. Charles was unapologetically and unadulteratedly, Charles. He was always true to himself no matter what life, or the dysfunctional residents of Lawndale, threw at him.

"Actually he got the name after trying to ask Sandi Griffin out in junior high," commented Jane.

"Do I even want to know?" asked Alex with a raised eyebrow.

"He was even more annoying back then, if you can believe that," she replied before continuing.

"They were at the school carnival and she and the fashion drones had just come off of the Tilt-O-Whirl," informed Jane with a grin. "He walks up and gives one of his sleaze ball lines. Sandi turns seven shades of green... "

"She didn't..." began Alex with a wince.

"Oh yeah. All over his shirt and shoes. He ran home crying and covered in used pizza and diet soda," confirmed Jane. "And hence, Upchuck was born."

"Too bad there isn't a course for projectile vomiting," commented Daria. "Might come in handy for our next encounter."

"I'm gonna grab a drink," stated Jane as the trio entered the map and wicker bedecked living room. "You kids want anything?"

"I could use a refill," replied Daria looking at her almost empty cup.

Alex gave a small shake of his head but said nothing.

Jane took Daria's cup in her free hand and began to weave her way through the crowded foyer towards the dining room. Alex raised his glasses to rest above his eyebrows as he began to rub a spot between his eyes. Daria noticed the grimace on her brother's face and touched his shoulder.

"You OK, Lex?" Daria asked with a concerned tone.

"Headache," replied Alex shortly.

"Apparently even men are not immune to the Upchuck Affect," quipped Daria.

"No, it's just too noisy in here. I'm gonna find somewhere quiet to clear my head," Alex stated as he lowered his glasses back onto his nose.

"Want me to come with?" asked Daria, a worried expression clear on her face.

"Nah," answered Alex with a wave of his hand. "You enjoy the party and take notes for me."

With a small smile for his sister, the boy walked towards the stairwell and out of Daria's line of sight. Just then, Jane returned from her trip to the refreshment table and came to a stop beside Daria. She extended one of the cups she held to Daria and looked around.

"Where'd Alex go?" she asked.

"He had a headache," replied Daria as she took the offered drink. "He went to find a quiet place to clear his head."

"Fat chance of that here," said Jane as she began sipping from her own drink.

Lowering her cup, Jane noticed that she and Daria were being watched by a young man in matching blue shirt and pants and another in a green shirt and khaki pants standing across the dining room.

'I wonder what their deal is,' she thought to herself while examining the two.

"Those guys are looking at us," Jane softly spoke to her friend.

Daria looked up and followed her friend's line of sight and saw the two boys. Having caught the attention of both girls, the young men began to make their way across the room towards Daria and Jane.

"Don't they know we're from two different worlds? Regular and popular?" asked Daria sarcastically.

"The one in the green shirt is kinda cute..." mused Jane as she gulped down the remaining contents of her cup.

She glanced at Daria and noticed the look of disbelief painted on her bespectacled face and quickly added, "In a head-too-big-for-his-body kind of way... What?"

"Hey," stated the boy in blue as he and his friend came to a stop before the girls. "Partying hard or hardly partying?"

"Hardly interested," stated Daria curtly.

"So..." began the boy in green. "Where've you girls been all our lives?"

'Wow,' mused Jane with a smile. 'Last time I heard that line was when my Dad told the story about how he met Mom.'

"Waiting here for you," replied Daria as her typically semi-monotone voice shifted to a true monotone. "We were born in this room. We grew up in this room, and we thought we would die here... alone. But now you've arrived, and our lives can truly begin."

Jane winced at the verbal venom Daria was loosing on their would be suitors.

"She likes you," stated the blue clothed boy to his green clad companion.

The response drew a deeper scowl from Daria.

'Cute, but not too bright,' added Jane mentally as a small chuckle escaped her lips.

"How about you buy me a drink," she said to the Khaki wearing youth, drawing another scowl from Daria.

'Dammit Jane! Don't leave me alone here,' thought Daria angrily.

Jane leaned over and whispered, "Hey he's cute and interested. Sue me. You should try to have some fun, chica."

"But the drinks are free," answered the boy, drawing Jane's attention away from Daria.

Jane stepped beside the boy, looped her arm with his and said, "Don't ruin the moment by talking."

The two walked out of the living room and began heading towards the dinning room. The boy in green gave his buddy thumbs up and turned back to Daria.

After a few minutes of silence from Daria, the young man flashed a wide smile at her and asked, "So... what are you into?"

"Not you," responded Daria curtly as she brought her cup to her lips, turned her back and walked away, leaving the blue clad boy standing there open-mouthed.

Quinn stood in the den with a false smile expertly painted on her face. She barely registered what Sandi was saying. She had lost track of Alex and Daria and her eyes kept darting around the room on the lookout for either or both of her siblings. Joey, Jeffy, and Jamie enter the room and all laid eyes on Quinn. They hurriedly made their way through the crowd to join her.

"Quinn! I'm glad we found you," stated Joey.

"We were looking all over," added Jeffy.

"I looked the hardest," interjected Jamie in his usual attempt to out do the other two.

The trio's boisterous interruption of her story caused Sandi Griffin to scowl.

Before she could acknowledge her trio of admirers, Quinn spotted her sister looking directly at her and casually walking in her direction.

'Crap!' she swore internally.

"Uh, I gotta go to the bathroom," the red head stated aloud as she began moving away from the boys and the members of the Fashion Club.

Joey perked up and asked, "You need some help?"

Jeffy elbowed Joey to the side and piped, "I'll go with you."

"It's the bathroom!" exclaimed Quinn with a shocked look on her face.

She turned and moved quickly to the middle of the room, meeting Daria half way.

Daria gave a small smirk as she saw Quinn hurriedly approach and let out a loud, "Hi, sis!"

Quinn paled a bit at the loud greeting. She grabbed Daria's arm and began to pull her out of the large family room.

"You... Me... Bathroom... Now!" stated Quinn shortly.

"That's good Quinn," snarked Daria as she and her sister reached the bathroom door. "Pretty soon you'll be able to form complete sentences."

Quinn pushed Daria through the door and locked it after following.

"Aren't you a little out of place here?" asked Quinn hotly.

"Well it is a bit too purple for my tastes," deadpanned Daria as she looked around at the exceedingly purple decorated bathroom and picked up a bar of lavender colored soap from beside the sink. "Although the lilac scent is actually rather relaxing."

"Just once can we be in the same place without you going out of your way to embarrass and humiliate me?" whined Quinn with her hands on her hips.

"Sorry, Quinn. But I am legally obligated to take advantage of every potentially humiliating and psychologically scarring situation that arises," replied Daria with her half smile. "It's in the International Older Sibling Accords."

"Speaking of older siblings," commented Quinn. "Where is Alex?"

Daria's smile faded as she stated, "He had a headache and went to look for a quiet place to 'clear his head'."

"What about that arty chick you were hanging with," inquired Quinn. "Joan, or was it Jean?"

"Jane," began Daria, emphasizing her friend's correct name. "... left me and is somewhere here with some guy. They are probably comparing tonsil sizes right now."

Quinn noticed the unsuccessful attempt of her older sister to mask her hurt with sarcasm. The younger girl lost much of her initial anger at the observation and decided not to make the quip perched on the tip of her tongue.

"If it's any consolation, I'm only pestering you as a last resort," continued Daria. "Before Jane and Lex decided to ditch me for greener pastures we were almost having fun. Now I have to amuse myself and naturally you came to mind as the most amusing thing here."

"Look," started Quinn. "What will it take for you to leave me and my friends alone for the rest of the night?"

"Twenty," stated Daria.

"Five," replied Quinn.

"Fifteen," haggled Daria.

Quinn reached into her pocket and pulled out her last two five-dollar bills. She held them out and said, "All I've got is ten."

"Well, I have been saving up for a pair of snappy orthopedic shoes," remarked Daria as she took the cash with her free hand. "Pleasure doing business with you."

"Why don't you look for Alex," offered Quinn. "Looks like he's not the only one who could use a little head clearing."

At that comment Quinn gave a small smile to Daria and exited the bathroom.

'Wait a minute,' thought Daria. 'Was Quinn just trying to be nice to me?'

"Must be the lilac soap fumes," she mused aloud as she trod out of the bathroom, pocketing the cash and the bar of scented soap.

Alex leaned casually against the rail of the second floor veranda. He looked out over the Taylor's back yard. While the interior of the home had been filled with a cacophony of pop music and loudly talking teens, the moonlit veranda was a much more serene location. Only a light muffled buzz of conversation carried out to this point and the music was almost inaudible.

Alex let out another long sigh, relieved to be somewhere in which he could actually hear himself think. The sounds of the party increased for a moment. The hushed click of the veranda door closing that followed the party noise returning to its previously muffled levels drew his attention. He glanced over his shoulder and saw his twin standing in front of the door. Daria's arms were crossed in front of her and her half smile graced her lips.

"I'd offer a penny for your thoughts but considering how much free range space they have I think their value is a little more than one cent," she teased as she walked over to the rail and stood beside her brother.

"Sorry I ditched on you," said Alex. "But I was going to go all Scanners if I didn't get somewhere less noisy."

"I understand," said Daria. "I wouldn't be bugging you now but I made a deal to leave Quinn alone for the rest of the evening."

"Where's Jane?" Alex asked.

"Studying for a career as an orthodontist," remarked Daria flatly.

Alex raised an eyebrow and looked questioningly at his sister.

She rolled her eyes and explained, "Some guys were hitting on us after you left and she decided to go off somewhere to make out with one of them."

"I see," said Alex as he looked back out over the back yard.

A few moments of silence passed between the two.

"So, was the other guy a good kisser?" inquired Alex with a smile on his face.

Daria looked up at her brother with a wide-eyed and disgusted look on her face.

"That bad huh?" continued Alex chuckling.

"As if," remarked Daria playfully punching her brother's arm.

She leaned over a bit, her head rested against Alex's shoulder. Neither said another word as they looked up at the sky and enjoyed the silence.

"Quinn, I don't care if your family is full of brains. I would never hold it against you," said Jamie smoothly as he slid a hand into the small of Quinn's back.

'That was almost sweet,' thought Quinn as a glimmer of a smile began to form on her face.

"So, you want to go in the laundry room?" the boy continued.

'Almost,' came Quinn's mental addition accompanied with an eye roll.

"Hands off, Jamie," grumped Joey as he slapped Jamie's hand away from the redhead girl. "Quinn, you may come from a nerdy family but that makes your popularity, like, even more amazing. Now, why don't we ditch these two losers?"

"Take a hike, Joey," chimed Jeffy as he shouldered Joey aside to stand before Quinn. "Quinn, if you were my girlfriend, we could ignore your sister together. Now will you go steady with me? At least for a couple of hours?"

The three fumed at each other for several long moments without a word. Quinn glanced at the faces of her three would be suitors and slowly backed away from them. Then, in the blink of an eye, the three J's were all over each other. Punches, shoves and kicks flew from the boys as they vented their frustrations upon each other.

"And you two wonder why everyone thinks you a couple instead of brother and sister," came Jane's voice.

The twins turned to see Jane walk through the veranda doors. Jane stepped up and leaned her back against the veranda rail beside Daria.

Daria looked at the other girl and asked, "What happened to 'Bobby Bighead'?"

"I wasn't really interested," said Jane unconvincingly.

"Too bad," commented Daria as she reached out and peeled a static adhered sock from Jane's jacketed shoulder. "Is this yours?"

Alex let out a subdued chuckle and Jane hung her head in defeat.

"Okay, fine," grumped Jane as she stared daggers at Daria. "He thought my head was a lollipop. Are we ready to go?

"I was ready to go before we got here," responded the still half-smiling Daria.

"Amen to that," added Alex as he stuffed his hands into his jacket pockets.

"Motion seconded," stated Daria. "Motion carried. This meeting is adjourned"

The three walked through the veranda door and approached the top of the staircase. A loud crash resonated from below. The music suddenly stopped and the sounds of a struggle were clearly audible. As the three looked down towards the foyer, the sight of Jamie, Jeffy and Joey pushing, shoving and otherwise trying to pummel each other caused the three outcasts to glance at each other.

"Then again you might be able to convince me to stay a bit longer," quipped Daria.

"I think the party just got interesting," commented Alex with a smile.

"Oh, this is gonna be good," stated Jane with a grin as she fished her camera from the pocket of her black jacket.

Alex, Daria and Jane walked cautiously down the stairs and into the dining room, where the fracas was occurring. Mack strode over to join the twins and Jane.

"Hey Mack," greeted Alex without even looking up from the three boys struggling on the floor.

"Hey," replied Mack.

"Do I even want to know what started this?" asked Jane as he watched the boys fight.

"Oh I have a theory or two on that," commented Daria as she glanced towards the Fashion Club and saw the silly smug smile on Quinn's face.

"As amusing as this is, shouldn't someone break this up?" asked Alex as he glanced over at Mack.

Mack's shoulders dropped as he mumbled, "Damned sense of responsibility."

He and Alex cautiously approached the three fighting boys who had somehow worked their way into the foyer and were fighting in front of the laundry room. Joey swung a punch that was ducked by Jeffy, but managed to connect with Jamie's face. Jamie dropped to a sitting position holding his jaw. The other two continued fighting each other as Alex moved over to the sitting brawler.

"Come on man," stated Alex as he helped pull Jamie to his feet. "Let's get you somewhere out of the line of fire."

The still stunned Jamie did not recognize that Alex was not one of the other two J's. He forcefully shook off Alex's hands, planted his shoulder into Alex's stomach and violently drove his perceived attacker into and through the laundry room door. Alex slammed painfully into the washing machine.

"Ouch," moaned Alex as he clutched his stomach and slid down into a sitting position in the small room.

Jamie's head clipped the laundry room door as he plowed Alex through it, and he lay on the foyer floor dazed.

"OH NO!!" shouted Brittany.

"OK, that's enough you two," chastised Mack as he shoved himself between the battling Joey and Jeffy, separating them by an arms length.

The two boys each grabbed a shoulder of the larger football player and shoved him backwards. Mack fell backwards, arms flailing ... directly into Jane, who had moved before the broken laundry room door to check on Alex. Mack thumped forcefully into the girl, causing her to stumble forward and trip over the fallen door. Alex managed to get to his feet long enough to get knocked off of them again by the flailing Jane. She fell unceremoniously onto Alex who reflexively wrapped his arms around the girl as they both fell backwards to the floor with a painful thump.

"Ouch again," complained Alex.

"You OK?" asked Jane.

The two began to chuckle but were brought out of their moment of levity by a voice behind them.

"Say cheese."

Alex and Jane, still sprawled over each other, turned their heads to the now open doorway. They saw Daria standing there with a small disposable camera held to her eye. The moment the two looked up, their vision was filled with the camera's flash and the bespectacled girl's smirk.

"Come on you two," teased Daria as she reached out a hand to Jane. "You can finish making out after the Neanderthal Triplets finish pummeling each other into goo."

"Hey!!" exclaimed Jane and Alex in unison before they took note of their visually compromising positions and began to blush brightly.

Jane accepted Daria's hand and regained her footing. She retrieved her own camera from Daria and turned to help Alex to his feet.

"That is definitely the last time I try to be a Good Samaritan," stated Alex as he rubbed his sore stomach and exited the now doorless laundry room.

"Amen to that," came Mack's voice.

The trio turned and noticed the dark-skinned boy as he stood from his own fallen position.

Another extremely loud crash drew the four back to the dining room where two of the three J's were still slugging it out.

Joey and Jeffy traded punches from standing positions and were steadily moving their fight back into the dining room. Jamie slowly gathered himself from his prone position and shook his head in an attempt to clear it. His eyes locked on the other two brawlers and he charged across the foyer towards the other two competitors. He leaped and flying tackled Jeffy from behind, causing both of them to slam brutally into Joey. The momentum of the tackle caused the three to land heavily on the food and beverage-laden table, spilling chips, dip and cups of lemonade on the floor. The impact also served to launch the half full punch bowl into the air.

Time seemed to slow down as the non-combatants watched the glass bowl arc through the air. Just as the bowl began its downward travel, Kevin dove and slid across the carpet with arms outstretched. He caught the bowl inches from the floor. However, its contents continued their course, spilling over the lip of the bowl and showered Quinn's legs, shoes as well as the surrounding carpet with a torrent of ice-laden lemonade.

Quinn stood stock still with a shocked expression. She slowly looked down and saw that her jeans from the knee down and her shoes were much darker than they should have been. She felt the cold liquid squish between her toes and along the bottom of her feet as she shifted her weight from one foot to the other. The brief silence was broken by the clicks of Jane and Daria's cameras. The flashes broke Quinn out of her shocked state.

"Oh, no! These shoes are suede!" she yelled.

'Ouch,' thought Alex with a visible wince. 'Those were $100 shoes.'

The redhead looked up at her three battling dates, scowled and stormed out of the room, leaving wet footprints in her wake.

Kevin righted himself, holding the now empty punch bowl and walked across the dining room to stand beside Brittany.

"Nice catch Kevin," commented Mack as he casually approached Brittany and Kevin's position.

"Alright!" exclaimed Kevin with his goofy grin.

With that shout, as he had so many times before after being congratulated on a nice catch, the quarterback raised the object he was holding and brought it down at his feet in celebration. Unfortunately his ill-developed mind had forgotten that he held a glass punch bowl and not a football.

Jane knew exactly what was going to happen and reflexively brought the camera up. She managed to capture several high speed shots of the bowl as it impacted the lacquered divider separating the dining room from the foyer. The bowl shattered loudly and spectacularly into several large sections and hundreds of smaller glass fragments.

"Kevy!!" came Brittany's high-pitched scream as she and the others near Kevin jumped back to avoid the shower of sharp glass fragments.

She then stalked back over and glared at Kevin with hands balled into fists on her hips.

His girlfriend's angry use of his name brought Kevin back to reality. He looked down at the remains of the glass bowl, and then up at the fuming cheerleader.

He then gave his befuddled grin, shrugged his padded shoulders and said, "Oops."

Alex, Daria and Jane stood on the bottom of the front porch and watched the police cars withdraw from the circular driveway of the Taylor home. Their departure heralded a mass Exodus of their classmates and other less identifiable teens.

"So, have fun?" inquired Jane with a small smile.

"Well, I didn't talk to a whole bunch of new people, we got to see Quinn want to throw herself down a well, watched three jocks beat each other to a bloody pulp, you and Alex got to spend some quality time in the 'Make Out' room ..." began Daria.

"Hey!" exclaimed Alex and Jane in unison.

Daria smiled and continued, "...and I'm going home with a bonus sock, a bar of scented soap and some lovely blackmail material."

At the last comment, Daria waved her disposable camera in the air before pocketing it again and said, "All in all, a great night."

"Remind me to never go to another party held by the popular kids," whispered Alex to Jane.

"Deal," replied Jane with a grin and a wink to Alex.

"Don't make me get the hose you two," teased Daria.

Quinn walked through the home's open front door and caught sight of her siblings and Jane.

"Can I get a ride with you guys," came Quinn's voice from behind the three.

Daria and Alex turned to see their sister hesitantly approaching their group.

"You show up with three dates and have to bum a ride with us?" asked Alex with a raised eyebrow.

"Yeah, what happened to your fan club?" asked Daria dryly.

Quinn gave a small sigh and crossed her arms in front of her chest.

"The cops called their parents and now they have to get home immediately, no stops. So I'm stuck. It was kind of... what's that thing, when stuff turns out funny?" responded Quinn as she paused, searching for the right word. "Moronic."

"I believe the word you're looking for is Ironic," remarked Alex, putting emphasis on the first syllable.

"She was right the first time," responded Daria with a half smile. "Although, even if we wanted to, we couldn't give you a ride."

"Jane's brother dropped us off and was supposed to pick us up again," added Alex.

"Even if Trent actually managed to wake up in time to get us, the party wasn't supposed to end for another two hours," stated Jane.

"So it looks like we are all in the same boat little sister," remarked Alex as he patted Quinn on the top of her head.

"From the sound of Quinn's shoes, I think she could us a boat right about now," stated Daria as she noted the amusing squish her sister's shoes made with each movement of her feet.

Quinn would have normally rebuffed her brother for mussing her well-tended hair. However, performing her usual political gymnastics with Sandi, her Oscar winning performance for the attending queens of popularity, and the humiliation of being deluged by the flying punch bowl had drained any energy the petite redhead would have normally vented at her older siblings.

'Ugh, I just wanna go home,' complained Quinn mentally as she leaned against her brother.

"You want to call Mom and Dad?" asked the girl aloud, albeit in a hushed and tired voice.

"And shift the balance of power?" asked Daria with a single raised eyebrow.

"I guess we're walking then," stated Alex.

Quinn looked down at her still damp legs and feet, and then whined, "But my shoes are all squishy."

The wounded puppy look on Quinn's face caused Alex to refrain from voicing the multitude of jokes running through his head. All four took notice of the yellow Volvo stop before them. Charles rolled down the window and hung an arm on the ledge.

"Hey Alex," greeted the boy. "You and your entourage of beauties in need of assistance?"

"I don't mind the walk," commented Alex looking to his female accompaniment.

He noticed Quinn sadly looking at her shoes, and almost let slip a chuckle as he heard a faint squish from the dejected girl's sodden shoes.

"But who are we to turn down a free ride?" finished Alex. "Shotgun."

Charles slid out of his car and opened the rear door of his car.

"It is a pleasure to be a knight in shining armor for such lovely maidens in distress," cheesed Charles with a deep and overly dramatic bow to Daria, Jane and Quinn.

"Can we just take the armor and ditch the knight?" asked Daria flatly, prompting a grin from Jane and a small unnoticed smile from Quinn.

"By the way, you owe me ten bucks," said Jane as she walked past Alex towards the open rear door.

As Daria and Jane slid into the back seat of the vehicle, with the younger sister sandwiched between the older girls. Once all three girls were seated, Charles closed the back door and took the drivers seat again.

Alex quickly circled the car and slid into the front passenger's seat. He closed the door carefully and turned to face the girls in the back.

"I don't think what happened qualifies," remarked Alex.

Upchuck gave a questioning look to his friend and asked, "What are you two talking about?"

"Jane bet me that someone would slip alcohol into the lemonade tonight," replied Alex with a sigh.

Daria smirked and interjected, "Actually, I believe her exact words were, 'Ten bucks says someone spikes the punch bowl.' "

Upchuck was silent for a moment. A confused expression played briefly on his face, before his brow unfurrowed and he began laughing heartily.

"Technically, the beauteous Ms. Lane would be within her rights to expect payment... given the specific terms of the wager," Charles stated as he recovered from his boisterous laughter.

"Damn legal technicalities," grumped Alex as he fished a ten from his wallet and handed it back to the dark haired artist.

"Oh don't be like that Alex," soothed Jane. "Admit it. It was funny."

"You wouldn't think it was so funny if your shoes were full of lemonade," commented Quinn.

"You could always stop by my place and dry them off," sleazed Upchuck with a wink in his rear view mirror.

"Stuff a sock in it, Upchuck," stated Quinn as she crossed her arms scowled from the back seat.

"Rrrrrr, Feis..." began Charles.

His comment turned into an unintelligible mumble as Quinn snatched the sock protruding from Daria's jacket pocket, reached up from her spot in the center rear seat and shoved the footwear into Charles' mouth.

The remaining drive was punctuated by chuckles from Alex and Jane. Daria simply crossed her arms and let the half smile that played at her lips slip into a full smile. That smile stayed in place for the entire ride home.


Once again thanks to Natalia173 for agreeing to Beta for me.

I tried not to lean so heavily on canon for this chapter as I did in chapter 1. Naturally there are some scenes and conversations/dialogue/interactions that are just too good to omit. So I tried to simply flesh them out a bit more without gutting the heart of what they added.

I look forward to comments, criticism and reviews. They help me stay on track with the actual chapter I am supposed to be working on :)

Some dialog and general story concept from: The Invitation by Anne D. Bernstein

Original Episode transcripts available at Outpost Daria.