"That was nice what you said - that we make a good team," Daria said as they drove back from helping bail Jane and Mystik Spiral out of prison.
"I guess sometimes being timid works just as well as being confident," Quinn said.
"I'm not timid," Daria reassured her.
"Omigosh look, it's Travis!" Quinn shouted, sticking her head out the window and pointing.
"Seriously, do you really think I'm timid?" Daria asked.
"Yes, but it doesn't matter," Quinn said dismissively. "It's TRAVIS!" Quinn shouted the last part, attempting to get his attention.
"I'm not timid," Daria said as she pressed down on the accelerator.
"What are you doing? Daria? DARIA?" Quinn said with increased shrillity.
The car hit Travis at well over 70 MPH. The impact instantly shattered every bone in his legs and sent him flying back until he hit a power line, cracking his spine and liquefying his organs. He was dead before he hit the ground.
"Oh my GOD!" Quinn screamed at the top of her lungs. Daria merely hit the brakes, got out, went to the trunk, and pulled out two shovels.
She stopped by Quinn's door, holding one shovel on her shoulder, the other propped on the dirt next to her. "Well, are you going to stay in the car, or are you going to help me dig?"
Quinn glared at her for a moment, then got out.
Half an hour later, the car was moving again. Quinn had her arms crossed, an angry expression on her face. "Damnit, Daria, you told me you wouldn't kill anybody again!"
"Okay, now do you think I'm timid?"
It was a long, quiet ride back home.
"Students, we'll be brief. We've received some disturbing reports from this school, and we're asking for your cooperation." The nameless man from the nameless government agency was addressing the student body of Lawndale High, along with his female partner.
"Keep your eyes open. Watch for people who are different. They know who they are," she added.
"And with your help, kids, so will we."
In her seat, Quinn Morgendorffer had to resist the urge to scream out loud.
As Daria and Jane filtered out of the assembly, Quinn caught up to them, a haunted look in her eyes. "Daria! We have to talk, NOW!" she demanded, grabbing Daria's arm and hauling her away.
They slipped into a nearby broom closet, where they could speak without being overheard. "Daria, we have to turn ourselves in!"
"Turn ourselves in for what, Quinn?" Daria asked, looking down at her fingernails.
"For what! For what! Oh, I don't know, how about the time you freakin' murdered a guy the other day! And all those other people you killed!" Quinn was whispering as furiously as one could at the volume level of a whisper.
Daria put both her hands on Quinn's shoulders. "Quinn, read my lips: they're not out to get us. I always carefully plan things out so that I never leave evidence."
"Oh yeah? You couldn't have carefully planned smearing Travis across the highway!" Quinn pointed out.
Daria tut-tutted. "Didn't you think to ask why I just happened to have two shovels in the trunk?"
Quinn shook her head.
"Well, to be honest, I did kind of wing that one, didn't I? But I do keep the shovels in there to be prepared - I was a Girl Scout, after all."
"First, Daria, that's a Boy Scout motto. And second, you were never a Girl Scout."
Daria nodded, acknowledging the points. "Fair enough, sis. So, who do you want to help me commit first degree murder on next?"
Quinn balled her fists up in impotent anger. "Damnit, Daria, what part of 'no killing' don't you understand?"
"Hmm...the 'no' part."
"Ooooooh!" Quinn shouted, exasperated, and stormed out of the closet. Daria came out after, calm and stoic as always.
Jane approached. "What was that all about?"
Daria shrugged. "Oh, Quinn's upset that I killed a few people."
"Oh? Anybody I know?"
Daria shook her head. "No, not really."
"So, Quinn, tell me about Bobby Stuart."
Quinn looked over from brushing her hair to see Daria casually leaning against the door frame.
"Oh, he was some creepy computer geek who tried to go out with me. And I guess he was a stalker too, but only if you listen to Sandi."
Daria nodded. "Quinn, you do know it's very possible Bobby Stuart might have tried to hurt or kill you," she said. "You know I couldn't have that."
Quinn turned back to Daria, brushing her hair forgotten. It had been months since Daria had killed someone - Travis, the man who had stolen the bail money for Jane and Trent from them. She had since forced Daria to promise not to kill anyone (again), but always lived in fear that Daria would go back on her word - she had already done so once, after all.
"Quinn, Bobby is just like the other people I killed - Travis, Todd...the only reason I kill is to protect you. You're my sister, and your life means everything to me." Daria reached out and caressed her sister's cheek, not smiling.
"Because your life is mine to take, Quinn."
Bobby Stuart woke up, hung over. The FBI had released him after his mother bailed him out last night, and he had spent the time after release getting as drunk as possible.
He had been fired from his job at Le Grand Hotel, and the owners were filing a civil suit against him. His state-appointed lawyer had suggested that he settle out of court on that one, since had a snowball's chance in hell of winning the civil suit.
The lawyer was less optimistic on his chances of fighting the criminal suit. He faced four counts of cyberfraud and one count of stalking. The lawyer said that he might have been able to get the stalking charge dropped, if the stalkee's mother hadn't been one of the most ferocious lawyers in the state.
Bobby Stuart realized sometime last night that he had ruined his entire life over a piece of ass. He supposed he should be grateful he didn't actually sleep with her - then he would be facing statutory rape charges, and he was vaguely aware that most prison inmates tended to frown on such things.
As he sat up, he noticed with shock that Quinn sat on a chair in the corner of the room, hands in her lap. "Quinn!" he exclaimed, leaping out of bed (thankful he had fallen asleep in his clothes). "What are you doing here?"
Pain shot through his legs, and he crumpled to the floor. Behind him stood the girl's sister...Darla? A baseball bat was in her hands, the object she had just hit him in the back of the knees with.
"You tried to hurt my sister," she informed him.
"No! No, no, I didn't!" he began begging. "I just...I just wanted to sleep with her!" A gasp from Quinn's corner of the room, but Bobby didn't care, because he was fairly sure he had just wet his pants, and he was definitely sure he would much rather be in FBI custody than around the two women anymore.
Darla - no, it was Daria - kneeled down, a dull look on her face. "Was that really all you wanted?" she asked. "What if she hadn't given it to you? You would have taken it," she accused.
"No, please, no!" he pleaded, hoping to say anything that she would agree with, just so she wouldn't kill him.
"And then you would have had no choice but to kill her, to stop her from talking." She stated it as if one would state that they sky is blue.
"No! I'm no killer! MAAAA!" he cried out in fear.
Daria shook her head. "Your mother is at the bank, taking out a second mortgage on the house. Your bail was pretty expensive, you know."
Bobby noticed that Daria's knuckles were growing white with how tight they were holding the bat. She stood up, apparently getting ready to deal him another blow.
"Please don't! Anything! All my money, I'll turn myself back in, go to jail forever! You won't have to see me again! Just don't hurt me!"
Daria's eyes narrowed. "Why should I accomodate you? You certainly wouldn't have listened to my sister's pleas after you raped her."
Daria relented. "I won't hurt you, though. Because I'm better than you. Here." She dropped the bat and held out one hand, to help pull him up. He took it and - very slowly - rose up (his knees hurt like hell, but nothing seemed broken.) Finally, he stood erect. Daria looked up into his face, still holding his hand. "Now, Quinn."
Before he could react, Quinn reached around from behind and hugged him with both arms. By the time he noticed the glint in one hand, it had reached his and Daria's hand, where Daria held his hand open and forced the object Quinn held into it. Daria closed his hand around it, put her other arm around him, and hugged as well.
The pain was exquisite. The two sisters released him and his hand, and he opened the fist to reveal the handle of one of the knives from his mother's kitchen. It stuck out from between two of his ribs like a wooden post, the kind they used to hitch horses to.
The coughing hit him a moment later - after the first few, he noticed that he was coughing up blood. Everything started going dark...
Quinn stood their numbly as Bobby Stuart's coughs gradually stopped. Daria looked up from the body and smiled at Quinn - a real smile. "Congratulations, sis - your first blood." She leaned over the body and engulfed her sister in a hug.
"I would never hurt you, Quinn," Daria whispered into Quinn's ear. Quinn broke down and began to cry as she hugged Daria back.
Quinn should have looked into Daria's eyes. Murder was in her eyes.
Daria had approached the parked car wearily, knowing it to belong to Jane's boyfriend Tom.
"What are you doing here?" she asked him defensively.
"I wanted to talk to you. Your sister said you weren't home so I figured I'd wait out here."
"Do you want to come in?" Daria invited.
"No! There are girls in there rubbing stuff on each other's cheeks and making animal noises. I got kind of scared."
"That's just the opening rites of the Blushathon. At least you got out before the rhythmic chanting."
"Oh, yeah, I think I saw that on the Discovery Channel. Why don't you get in the car?"
Jane walked into her house and dropped her bookbag at the side of the door. As she walked upstairs to her room, she resolved to call Daria, as she wasn't in school that day. All had apparently been forgiven for Daria's fouling of the dye job and Jane's paranoia, but Jane wanted to make sure Daria was okay nonetheless.
"Huh," she said aloud upon entering her room. The shades were drawn and the lights were off. She reached out to flick on the switch.
"Don't turn on the lights, Jane."
"Yah!" Jane yelled, startled. "Damnit, Daria, you almost gave me a heart attack!" Jane couldn't exactly see Daria in the darkness...no, wait, she could; the indirect light from the hallway outside managed to shine off of her spectacles.
"Jane, do you trust me?" Daria's voice was curiously monotone, even for her.
"Uh...not with my hair, but otherwise yes," she joked.
"Do you believe in the adage, 'Friends help you move, real friends help you move bodies'?"
"Uh...sure..." Jane was starting to get a little nervous.
Daria stood, approached, and (VERY uncharacteristically) hugged Jane tight.
Daria whispered into Jane's ear. "Try very hard not to scream." Then, still holding Jane, she reached out and flicked the light switch on.
Tom Sloane had seen better days. He had a black eye, a bloody nose (which had dripped down and stained his shirt) and it appeared two of his fingers had been broken. He was bound to a chair that had been taken from the Lanes' kitchen.
"Daria, what the hell? What the HELL IS GOING ON?" Jane shouted.
Daria released her friend, but kept one arm around her waist, facing Tom. "Tom, why don't you tell Jane what you did last night."
Tom sighed. "I...I kissed Daria."
"You WHAT?" She walked over and slapped him, hard. He moaned; clearly, that side of his face was sensitive (or had been made sensitive...).
"I...when I first met Daria, I instantly thought she was better than you. So, instead of dumping you like a human being, I tried to seduce Daria over time, knowing that when I made my move, it would break your friendship and I wouldn't have to see you ever again." He sounded tired, defeated, like he was reading a statement prepared for him. None of that really occured to Jane then, though.
"It's true, Jane," Daria reassured her friend. "This coward thought he could make me wet with his simplest kiss." Daria scowled. "This may come as a surprise to you, young Thomas, but some people have something called 'unswavering loyalty to their friends'."
Daria walked over to the bed. "Come here, Jane," she said. "Lay down."
Jane was a little jarred at the sudden request, but complied.
"Stretch your arms up."
Jane did, and Daria produced two sets of steel handcuffs. Jane's eyes grew wide, which Daria noticed. "Do you trust me, Jane?" she asked again.
Swallowing, Jane moved her arms up to the bedposts, answering Daria.
Locking the bindings in place, Daria produced a blindfold and tied it over Jane's eyes. After that, only sounds, which she could not (or would not) identify:
A strange gurgling sound
Fabric rustling up against itself
Daria (?) slowly walking out the door, more fabric-against-fabric sound.
The distant thump-thump-THUMP-thump-THUMP-thump-THUMP-thump-thump of somebody walking down the staircase while dragging something heavy
Silence for several minutes
The thump-thump-thump-thump of feet climbing back up the stairs
The sound of boots (Daria, definitely) walking across the floor of Jane's bedroom
The creak of the springs under her as Daria mounted the mattress and straddled Jane
The scent of Daria, the soap, shampoo, and deodorant she used
The feeling of her breath on Jane's neck
"Jane, do you trust me?" Daria asked a third time.
"Yes," Jane said, hoarse, nervous.
Then, placed at her throat, something cold and sharp. A knife? It poked her.
Daria leaned in closer, lips practically touching Jane's ear. "The safeword is 'leopard'," she uttered. Jane nodded.
Jane lay on the bed, nude, panting. Daria had left half an hour ago and she was still panting at the intensity of what had just happened. She tried to lift an arm and realized she couldn't - it was still quivering like it was made out of Jello, just like the rest of her body. Even the pain from the multiple cuts Daria had inflicted had only contributed to the exquisite sensations she had experienced.
Gradually, she eventually stopped quivering and managed to plod over to her dresser. She got out a new set of underwear and clothing - looking back to the bed, the remnants of what she had worn were scattered around on the bed and the floor in tatters.
She ducked her head out into the hallway, looking out for Trent or one of his bandmates before darting into the bathroom. She needed a long, cold shower.
Daria felt pretty good as she knocked on the door to Quinn's room. She had gotten her best friend back and swatted a particularly annoying fly in a single strike. And, best of all, Jane had proved herself worthy of Daria's equal by not using the safeword at all. She knew she could fully bring Jane into the fold now. She smiled at the mere thought of what awaited the two of them...
Quinn opened the door, looking a mess. She hadn't applied any makeup or fixed up her hair ever since she had helped slay Bobby Stuart. "What, Daria?" she asked dully.
"Quinn, you wouldn't happen to know a good place to hide a body, would you?"
She put a finger on her chin, as if remembering something. Finally, she replied: "Yeah. C'est La Veal. There's a big cliff that'd be perfect."
Daria beamed. "Great! Let's go!" If Jake or Helen, their parents, had been standing at the foot of the stairs, they would have thought for a moment that it was Quinn who walked down the stairs first and Daria second, as Daria appeared so cheerful and Quinn seemed so downcast.
Jane stood at the far end of the sidewalk, eyeing the Morgendorffer house with trepidation. The friendship she had with Daria had been irrevocably altered by what had happened yesterday (Jane's cuts still stung), and Jane wanted to find out exactly what she and Daria were now. Friends? Friends with benefits? Lovers?
She gulped and walked up to the front door. There was something about Daria that also scared her as of late - what had she done with Tom? She had visited Sloane manor that morning, intent on verbally flaying Tom, but Kay (Tom's mother) informed her that Tom hadn't come home last night. It was likely Tom was just laying low after being a first-class creep, but Jane's gut still told her to step cautiously.
Jane let herself in and walked up the stairs. The door to Daria's bedroom was open, beckoning her. She walked in. Daria lay on the bed, reading a book. upon noticing Jane, however, she placed the book open, face-down, on her nightstand. "Hello, Jane," she greeted. "I expected I would see you today."
Jane sat on the bed next to Daria. "Daria, what are we?"
"Humans," Daria deadpanned.
Jane rolled her eyes. "Come on, Daria. What does last night mean...for us?"
Daria put her arm around Jane and pulled her close. "I want us to be partners, Jane." She put her free hand behind Jane's head. "I love you, Jane." Daria leaned in and captured Jane's lips in her own.
Daria and Jane turned to face the door. Quinn stood there, a gun in her hands. "I can't live with what we did to Bobby Stuart anymore."
"Calm down, Quinn, just put the gun down," Daria said calmly.
"How can I be calm, Daria? HOW? We KILLED HIM!"
"He would have hurt you, Quinn," Daria explained, still calm.
"NO HE WOULDN'T!" Quinn began crying. "I called the cops, Daria. I told them everything. Todd, Tr-Travis, Buh-Buh-Bobby, Tom..." Suddenly, she put the gun to her head and pulled the trigger.
Jane was paralyzed. Todd? Travis? Bobby? What the hell was going on? Tom?
Daria approached the body of her sister and knelt next to it. "I'm sorry, Quinn," she said to the prone form. "I told you, though, didn't I? I would never hurt you." She allowed the slightest of smiles to cross her face.
She looked to where the gun had fallen, near her hand. "I see you found Dad's gun, too." Daria picked up the gun and pointed it at Jane. "You know, Jane, just a little while before Quinn was born, I was walking around near my house, and I found a bird that had a broken wing. I realized that it would probably starve to death or something, so I did the only humane thing and snapped its neck."
"What?" Jane said, still trying to process what had happened.
"That was the first thing I ever killed. When Quinn was born, she was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. And I wanted to watch her die." She looked down at her sister again, a frown on her face. "But Quinn wouldn't play the games I wanted to play with her. She wouldn't stop crying when I killed a cat in front of her - I had to promise to give her all my desserts for a year so that she wouldn't tell mom and dad."
Daria looked back up to Jane. "I never tortured animals, mind you, or killed any healthy ones. Serial killers torture. I'm not a serial killer."
Daria stood and went over to her dresser. "And besides, it's pointless to torture an animal. You just can't derive the same amount of emotional impact from the death of an animal that you could from a human."
Jane finally started trying to rejoin the conversation. "When...when did you first kill a human?"
That made Daria pause. "The real reason we left Highland was because I had killed Todd."
Daria removed the same two sets of handcuffs she had made Jane wear yesterday and tossed them to her friend, gesturing to the bed posts. The chains of the shackles were long enough so that Jane could secure both of them herself.
"Quinn and I were coming home from hanging out with Beavis and Butt-head - those two idiots I told you about. They were playing a game of frog baseball, which I thought Quinn might like to watch. Todd pulled up next to us in his car and offered us a ride. And he wasn't talking about in his car, if you know what I mean," Daria added jokingly, as if Jane wasn't bound to the bed at gunpoint.
"Todd was a local thug who had his own gang. Nothing too serious - just some theft, drug dealing, the usual small town crime thing. We told Todd to beat it - I had met him once or twice on my own, and he usually complied. That day, though..." Daria shook her head. "I ended up getting into the car so that Quinn wouldn't have to. When we got to the place he was staying - a filthy hotel room that didn't even have sheets on the bed - I fucked him, hard and fast. It was important that I did, you see, so that a rape kit would find his genetic material inside me later. After he came, he pulled out (without even asking if I had come, the inconsiderate bastard) and went to the bathroom. I took the utility knife I usually kept for dispatching hurt animals from my clothes, snuck into the bathroom, and...neutered him." Daria smiled fondly at the memory.
"Of course, we had to move away from Highland after that. After all, I was 'so traumatized by what had happened' that I couldn't function in that environment again. And everybody within a hundred mile radius knew my name, even though legally the press wasn't supposed to name minors in a police investigation. So, we moved to Lawndale."
In the distance, Jane could hear police sirens - several of them. She only hoped they got here before Daria did something drastic.
She didn't, even as the sirens pulled up and stopped in front of the Morgendorffer residence. She took a break in her narration to shove the dresser in front of the doorway, then continued to tell Jane about Travis, Bobby Stuart, and even Tom.
"The overlaying theme I'm trying to show you, Jane, is that each and every one of these men tried to hurt someone I loved - Quinn, or, in the case of Tom, you. I loved Quinn, and I love you. But Quinn's dead. And I know that if the police get you, they'll hurt you, and I can't let that happen. So, like an injured animal, I'll put you out of your misery. And then I'll follow you."
"Oh God," Jane moaned, as Daria searched in the closet. Finally, she emerged, holding the utility knife she had told Jane about, the one she murdered Todd with. She briefly wondered how she had managed to keep it out of a police evidence locker, but didn't really feel the question was pertinent.
Daria noticed Jane had recognized the blade. "Well, a gun just feels so impersonal, you know?" Daria explained. "This adds a sense of ceremony to the occasion, I think - a closing of the circle, if you will."
There were shouts from outside the bedroom door to open up, that the police were here, but Daria paid them no heed. Daria once again straddled Jane, grabbed onto the headboard for support, leaned over her, and pressed lips to lips one last time.
Daria's eyes opened in surprise. She leaned up and pulled the knife out of her neck, causing blood to flow quite freely from her artery. Jane had seized the opportunity of the long cuffs and Daria's knife-holding hand being near, and had forced the blade into Daria's jugular.
Daria smiled. "Partners," she gasped out, coughed, then smiled again. Her teeth were crimson; blood was starting to drip out of her mouth. "Love...you..." Daria uttered, then slumped over Jane with finality.
Jane hardly heard the sound of the door being battered down as she slipped into blissful unconsciousness.
"It's always the quiet ones, isn't it?"
"Huh?" Jane asked.
A detective from Lawndale PD had come to Quiet Ivy to speak to Jane, but she had zoned out after a while.
"The quiet ones, you know, that end up to be axe murderers."
"Oh, yeah. Right."
Jane had been admitted to Quiet Ivy for "analysis" after what had happened. She was told she would probably be released in 48 hours.
The police had searched Daria's computer and found a diary file that indeed implicated her in the murder of Todd Ianuzzi, Bobby Stuart, Tom Sloane, and a John Doe found buried in a shallow grave in the desert. A lawyer from Daria's mom's law firm (not Daria's mom herself, though - she was apparently checked into the same facility) assured Jane that she wouldn't be facing murder charges of her own in light of all the evidence.
"We're here, Janey."
"Huh?" Jane found comfort in spacing out as often as possible as of late. Not thinking at all was better than thinking her best friend ever had secretly been a lunatic killer.
"Fremont, Jane. Our new home," Trent reminded her.
"Fremont," she said to herself, suddenly remembering something.
'We got a gig in Fremont, 100 miles away,' Trent had said, once upon a time.
'Everybody within a hundred mile radius knew my name,' Daria had said to her a few weeks ago.
'Jane, it is my opinion as a medical professional that you move away from Lawndale - there are too many bad memories here for you,' her doctor, Dr. Millepieds, had told her.
'Of course, we had to move away from Highland after that,' Daria had told her, just before Jane had forced the knife into Daria's neck, watching as the light in Daria's eyes flickered and died.
Jane listened as the sounds of Daria's laughter echoed through her head. And then, she smiled.
"Partners," she said to herself.
"What, Janey?" Trent asked.
Jane hugged Trent. "Let's be partners from now on, okay, Trent?"
"Uh, sure thing, Janey."
Jane knew everything would be alright from then on.
Unless someone tried to hurt anybody she loved.