(Opening 'teaser' montage. Music: "You're Standing On My Neck" – Splendora.

Daria and Lynn sit side by side in Ms Li's office, looking warily at each other.

LHS science lab. AP standing with Stacy behind a lab table. AP looks at a beaker simmering over a Bunsen burner on the table, then at an empty test tube in Stacy's hand, then ducks under the table. A moment later, he grabs Stacy by the front of the shirt and pulls her down as the glassware on the table blows up.

The woods somewhere. Daria and Lynn are sitting around a campfire. Lynn holds up a hand and they both take on a tense, listening posture.

LHS gymnasium. Jane is in gym clothes, waving her arms in a 'pass it here' gesture. Seconds later, a basketball flies into shot, hitting her in the face hard enough to knock her over.

LHS corridor. Daria is wearing a slinky black dress and looking miserable and resigned. Upchuck leers something at her; Daria raises an eyebrow, gets an 'oh what the hell' look and then kicks him in the groin.

LHS auditorium – stage. Lynn is onstage, holding a knife to her throat and yelling something at Mack, who looks extremely taken aback. Cut to the seats, where O'Neill looks ecstatic and Daria, Jane and AP look impressed.

Morgendorffer corridor. Jake stands in the doorway of Quinn's room, looking sad and horrified. Quinn, talking on the phone, looks at him scornfully and slams the door in his face.

Zen backstage area. Nick and Casey Wright from the Back Alley Name-Droppers are involved in a fistfight. Trent gestures to Jesse, who walks up to the two of them and knocks their heads together; both combatants drop.

Trent's Plymouth. Daria, Jane and AP staring out the passenger side windows. Facial expressions are confusion, disbelief and anger respectively.

Daria and Lynn side-by-side again, smirking slightly. As the original montage sequence, the camera pulls in and then out again to reveal two interlocking circles; one contains the Daria logo and the other contains a corresponding 'Lynn' version. Writing in Daria font reads, "Daria in…)


A Daria Fan Fiction [TLAS 3:07]

(Scene: the bar, exterior. Music: "Nehalem" – Everclear. It is a grubby place; scarred woodwork and graffiti are prominent. Lynn's Mercedes is parked outside, looking somewhat out of place. It's still daylight, just about, but all seems quiet until…)

Lynn: (OS) Oh, CRAP, I'm late!

(Scene: the bar, interior. Music plays on. Lynn is stuffing a knife down the side of one boot, throwing books into her bag, generally making hectic leaving preparations.)

Rust: (OS) You gotta give this crap up, Cullen. You haven't got the time...1

(She pauses just long enough to glare at him.)

Lynn: Telling me how to live my life is not your job, Rust. Don't overstep yourself.

(Short pause.)

Rust: (OS) Tomorrow. Same time.

(Lynn doesn't dignify that with a reply; just shoulders her bag and exits at a not-quite-run.)

(Scene: Lane basement. Music plays on. Trent is tuning his guitar in an absent sort of way, as if his mind is elsewhere. Jesse is plucking away at his bass. Nick is poking at the inside of an amp and Max is trying to learn how to twirl a drumstick between his fingers – and failing.)

Nick: Man, what did you DO to this thing? I mean, it was a nice try putting it back together again, but the wiring's all bass-ackwards!

Trent: Don't talk to me. Talk to Lynn.2

Jesse: Can't. She's not here yet.

Max: She's never late! I mean … what, you think she met a guy or something? I mean, girls don't talk about stuff like that to guys. It's a thing.

Jesse: Maybe she's losing interest. Y'know. In the band.

(Trent, Nick and Max all look at him. He shrugs. They go back to what they were doing.)

Nick: We can't let that happen, man. I mean, we'd fall apart now. We've built all the new songs around her singing!

Trent: I don't think she's losing interest. She wouldn't just back off without saying anything. And anyway, I think it's a little early to say anything's wrong. She's been late ONCE. (beat) Go easy on her, Nick. She was in the hospital not long ago. That's bound to mess her up.3

Nick: All the same … maybe we should come up with something to pull her back in a hundred percent. Something that we can ALL sink our teeth into. Just plain gigging's getting old.

Max: (chuckle) I guess touring London spoiled us, man.4

(The door opens and Lynn careens down the stairs, looking flustered.)

Lynn: Sorry. There was a hold-up.

Trent: It's okay. We ready to start?

Lynn: Yeah; just give me a second to catch my breath.

Nick: (overly casual) Hey, Lynn … you're still into the band, right?

Lynn: Excuse me?

Trent: (warning) Nick…

Nick: It's just … you're late. It's not like you.

Lynn: Nick, if I wasn't interested in singing for Mystik Spiral, the first thing I would do is tell you all where to stick it. Please stop jumping to asinine conclusions just because, for the first time I can recall, I'm fifteen minutes late for a rehearsal. (beat) Now are we starting or not?

(They look at her and decide it would be dangerous to continue. Nick picks up his bass; Max gets a firm grip of his sticks.)

Trent: What's for warm-up? Cover or original?

Jesse: Cover. (beat) Alice in Chains?

Lynn: Metallica.

Max: "Of Wolf and Man"?

Nick: "Sad But True"!

Lynn: Hit it, gentlemen!

(And they slam into the opening riffs. They are much improved since "Blind Audition".)

(Scene: Lynn's room. Music: "Inside" – Stiltskin. Lynn is sprawled out on her bed, reading "A Snitch In Time – The Informant's Market" and making extensive notes on a pad next to her. Daria is logged onto Lynn's computer. She looks up at Lynn, a suspicious, 'I will beat answers out of you if I must' expression on her face.5)

Daria: Lynn…

Lynn: (lost in study) Hmm?

(Phone rings. Daria sighs with exasperation. Lynn isn't moving to pick it up so Daria does.)

Daria: Cullen residence.

Nick: (from phone; overexcited) Hey, Lynn! We got GREAT news! We…

Daria: NO, Nick. This is DARIA. Hang on.6 (holds out the phone) Nick Campbell. On speed, apparently.

(Lynn raises an eyebrow and takes the phone.)

Lynn: Cullen. (beat) Yes. (beat) Whoa, whoa, whoa; slow down. (beat) No, LITTLE slower than that, Nick. (pause) Okaaay… (pause) I see. (beat) Well, yeah; it sounds interesting. (beat) I TOLD you, I AM still interested. If this is the only reason… (beat) Okay, okay, okay. Yes, I'm happy, go on and sign us up. (beat) I will do my utmost to be on time. Adios. (hangs up) God, you're late ONCE and they hold it against you for the rest of your miserable life.

Daria: Satisfy my curiosity. What was he babbling about?

Lynn: A Battle of the Bands.

Daria: They actually HAVE those?

Lynn: Apparently. Max tripped over it. (beat) Well, actually, according to Nick, he tripped over a paving slab and fell face-first onto a flyer stuck to the sidewalk with a wad of chewing gum.

Daria: He gave you all that detail?

Lynn: The only person who can talk faster than Nick when he's excited is AP when he's scared out of his mind.7 Anyway, Nick called everyone from the nearest bar and so he's signing us up and we're up in two days. (looks at watch) Which means that I have to be at rehearsal NOW. Sorry to kick you off the machine, but…

Daria: It's okay. (logging off; thought VO) At least I know where you're going to BE this time…

(Scene: Pizza King. Music: "The Return of the White Paws" – Rude Club. Daria and Jane on one side of the booth, AP alone on the other.)

AP: Battle of the BANDS? I thought that only happened in teenybopper sitcoms!

Jane: And Lawndale is sort of teenybopper sitcom-ville. So are we surprised?

AP: (mulling this over) Point, I guess. (beat) Sheesh. This is getting stupid. I mean, no WONDER Purple Peril's never around after school anymore. Band rehearsal, homework, writing … if it wasn't for the damn play, I wouldn't see her after school at ALL.

Daria: (a bit sheepish) Yeah, I guess she IS taking a lot on.

Jane: Problem, Daria?

Daria: I just… (sigh) I'm just a suspicious idiot, don't mind me.

AP: (stubborn) Well, I for one don't blame you for being suspicious. I mean, fine, the crossbow. Deadly, yeah, but high reload time lowers the body count. Knives? Well, you can only use it once at long range but if you've got more than one… (to their looks; sigh) Oh, fine, spoil my fun. The one thing I can talk about without screwing up the language and you won't let me.8

(And a short, wispy little Goth-chick we almost recognises barges through the door. AP looks over and his eyes go wide. He ducks under the table. Daria and Jane just stare at the spot where he had been sitting.)

Daria: (peering under the table) AP?

AP: (from under table) Keep it DOWN! She doesn't like me very much!

Jane: Y'know … she looks like how you described…

AP: Mara Fitzgerald, yeah, I know, now will you pretend I'm not here? (beat; panicked) Oh crap…

(He grabs Daria by the front of the shirt and yanks her under the table as well, an instant before Mara looks their way. Daria stares at him.)

Daria: What the hell…?

AP: She's not gonna wait the five/ten seconds it takes to tell you and Purple Peril apart, trust me! So if you don't want to eat your own nose in a few seconds, sit down … and shut up!

(The Goth has found who she's looking for in the booth next to the gangs' – a very tall, very pale guy with very blue hair. She sits across from him, and they are both soon joined by a stocky blond guy who the really observant will remember as Casey Wright.9)

Casey: (nearly unintelligible grunt) Mara. Guy.

Guy: So what's the verdict? Do we have any real competition?

Mara: Ironically, yes. Mystik freakin' Spiral, of all people!

Guy: (chuckle) You're kidding. I saw them once; the guy does birthday ballads to his SISTER!10 That's DEATH! (brief cut to Jane's ill-suppressed snarl) If he's fronting…

Mara: That's just it; he's not. They got a new singer awhile back. Didn't get a name, but apparently she kicks.

Guy: Well … that's only one real worry out of a heat of twelve. What the hell? (looks at pizza) God-damn! What do they do, pour grease on afterwards or what? C'mon. Let's hit the Tower.

(Exeunt Oakwood band-types. Daria clambers out from under the table, followed by a wide-eyed AP.)

Jane: Sounds like Lynn's gonna meet up with some old friends this week.

AP: Eee.

Daria: Maybe we should warn her what she's up against. Forewarned is forearmed, after all.

AP: Eee.

Jane: Wouldn't be more fun to let her be surprised?

AP: Eee.

Daria: She hasn't been taking to surprises very well lately and if you say "Eee" one more time, AP, it will go hard with you.

(AP claps a hand over his mouth. Daria and Jane just look at him, then ponder.)

END ACT 1 – ADVERTS [Lead-in: Mara's entrance]

Haagen-Dazs: Do people really DO this with ice cream? I note they never show the cleanup that tends to be necessary afterwards … Heh, not that I would know…

Twiglets: A Twiglet is an ugly-looking Marmite-flavoured wheat thing. This guy wanders around train stations in a Twiglet costume acting like an idiot. The things they do for TV.

(Scene: the bar. Music: "Sad But True" – Metallica. Lynn comes in, drops her bag on a pool table and stands, hands on hips, all arrogance.)

Lynn: I know, I know.

Rust: (OS) Shall we get you on time management courses? Or just get you to give up that stupid band?

Lynn: You sound like my mother.11

Rust: (OS) Ow. From you, that's a killing insult. (beat) I'm serious, Cullen.

Lynn: So am I. But anyway, that's not the point. People are starting to get suspicious, Rust. You're going to have to let up or let them find out.


Rust: (OS; sigh) You're good. You're DAMN good.

Lynn: (smirk) Good genetics and expert tutelage will do that.

Rust: (OS) Flattery will get you … a step-up in the weaponry stakes.

(Lynn quirks an interested eyebrow.)

(Scene: LHS corridor. Music plays on. Lynn at her locker, looking a little weary. She rubs at one of her ears as AP approaches in a panic; Daria and Jane tail along behind, looking amused. Lynn catches sight of AP out of the corner of her eye as he approaches and gives a nod of acknowledgement, and then AP grabs her by the lapels and pulls her forwards until they're almost nose to nose.)

AP: (speed-rant) The Back Alley Name-Droppers are your competition for the Battle of the Bands – Mara and Casey and Goat-boy and they're gonna be SO pissed when they find out you joined another band… (beat; sniff; normal speed) Um … Purple Peril? Why do you reek of gunpowder?

Lynn: (made somewhat nervous by the grabbing and the sudden interrogation) Um … trying to get some pyro effects going for the band. Didn't work – I'm lucky to still have my eyebrows.

(Daria looks utterly disbelieving. Even Jane looks doubtful. AP, however, looks a bit hurt.)

AP: YOU? But you don't DO that kind of thing! You couldn't ask me for help?

Lynn: You're busy enough with play lines. (beat) Um … disengage tractor beam? (AP looks down at his hands, then up into Lynn's face. Then he lets go and turns away very quickly, blushing maroon.) Now what's this about Mara and Casey?

AP: (calming down) Oh. Yeah. Um … they crashed Pizza King.

Jane: (amused) You should have seen him. His eyes went so big he looked like an Anime character! Then he dragged Daria under the table by the bra! (noting very brief depressed look on Lynn's face) Um…

AP: (to Jane) Shut up, Art-Smart Scarlet! There's HISTORY here! (beat; to Lynn) They don't know you're leading Neo-Grunge Earache yet. When Mara finds out…

Lynn: (grim) I can handle Mara. (Daria raises a suspicious eyebrow) What about Goat-boy?

AP: You remember that really tall kid who failed about two grades because he kept filling in answers on tests with really graphic ways that the teacher grading it should screw goats?

Lynn: (ignoring Daria and Jane's "What the HELL?" looks) Ah, yes, Guy Mann.

AP: Turns out he sings.

Lynn: (derisive noise) What about, screwing goats?

AP: Maybe. Dunno. But Mara's gonna…

Lynn: I told you … Mara is not a threat.

(Something in her tone stops even AP's whittering. All three of them stare at her. She stares back.)

Daria: ('let's move on from this before someone dies') Why exactly is Mara a threat to you? (to Lynn's glare) Or rather, why would she be if she was going to be?

Lynn: Well, she was pretty pissed off about the way the Back Alley Name-Droppers broke up. She never really forgave me for dropping out, no matter how little choice I had in the matter. And when AP dropped out with me…

AP: (nervous) She tried to get me back in as drummer, first week of school this year. I turned her down. She threatened to make me into Techno Weasel chow mein. I still said no. Then I got expelled and...12 (beat; to Lynn) But at least *I* didn't join another band!

Lynn: Will you stop worrying? (beat) And don't tell the others. They seem to think I'm thinking of leaving Mystik Spiral; if they find out I'm rendezvousing with my old band… (shrug)

Daria: Um … won't they figure that out on their own?

Lynn: Sure. (smirk) But think how it'll reassure them when they realise that, rather than being invited to rejoin, I'm trying to keep Mara from clawing my eyes out of their sockets.

(The other three look at her. Lynn just smirks.)

(Scene: Zen backstage area. Music: "Silver" - Moist. Trent and Jesse are tuning their guitars. Nick is pacing, looking at his watch every few seconds. Max is still trying to perfect his drumstick-twirl. He still fumbles and drops it after three seconds or less. Enter Casey, dressed in black and looking severe in a security-beast sort of way. Behind him are Guy [tight black leather jeans, black fishnet tank top; laughable on a guy shaped like a toast rack on a stick] and Mara [very short black velvet dress with too much lace trim]. Mara eyes Jesse with interest.)

Mara: You're even finer up close, leather boy.

Jesse: (blink) Huh?

Guy: And thick as a brick wall, too. You're out of his league, Mara – he's just townie-scum.

Trent: Who're you?

Guy: We're the Back Alley Name Droppers. Live with it.

Nick: From Oakwood, right? You'd be the Nympho-Goth and the bass-grunt. (to Guy) Who're YOU supposed to be; Stick-man?

(Casey, man of few words, decks Nick across the jaw. Nick nearly falls over, then regains his balance and thumps Casey in the stomach, following up with an uppercut to the nose. Casey doubles over briefly and then hits Nick in the shoulder. Trent makes a gesture to Jesse, who walks over to them, grabs both bassists by the back of the head and bashes their heads together. Nick and Casey, already a little dazed, drop.)

Trent: What the hell is wrong with you two?

Mara: Where the hell does he get off calling me that? I mean, what the hell does he know about me?

Lynn: (OS) He's heard stories.

(Pan to Lynn, leaning casually in the doorway. She is wearing a pair of black calf-length New Rock motorcycle boots that make her normal combat boots look tame, a short black leather skirt and a Lycra off-the-shoulder top with silver flame designs running up the arms topped with a vest/Basque thing with metal plating. The overall impression is body armour as created by an enthusiastic sci-fi movie costume designer. Her eyes are hidden behind prescription sunglasses. Brief cut to the rest of the group. Without exception, everyone else in the room is stunned.)

Mara: Lynn?

Lynn: Nympho-Goth. Hey. (walks into the room)

Mara: What the hell are you… (ping!) YOU'RE their new singer?

Trent: You got a problem with that?

Guy: (recovering enough to sneer) Huh. I'm just havin' a problem seeing how I worried about competition from YOU.

Lynn: You haven't HEARD me yet, Goat-boy.

Mara: Yeah, but *I* have! (stepping up to Lynn so that they're nose to chin) You little… (struggles for words) Damn, there aren't any good enough swearwords!

Lynn: You're not trying hard enough.

Mara: (angry sputter) Where's your sense of LOYALTY?

Lynn: Where's your sense of perspective?

(Daria, Jane and AP appear in the doorway. Nick and Casey are picking themselves up off the floor, glaring daggers at each other. Lynn and Mara are facing off; Mara going purple with fury but Lynn just looking down on her in all senses of the word. Trent is scowling at Guy, who still wears his sneer, and Max is watching the scene, cowed. Jesse, as usual, is impassive.)

AP: Eee.

Mara: (turning on him; easier target) You little geek-ball!

(Lynn grabs Mara by the collar and yanks her forward and up; Mara's now on tiptoe and looking straight into Lynn's sunglasses. Her face goes from rage-purple to fear-grey.)

Lynn: He is NOT your competition. Deal. With. Me.

Trent: (stepping to her side) You mean US, Lynn.

Nick: (stepping to Lynn's other side) Yeah.

(Jesse, saying nothing, just stands next to Nick in an imposing way.)

Max: (stands with Trent; safety in numbers) Yeah! You go up against the Spiral, man, we're gonna take you DOWN!13

Lynn: Max. We're going to be adult about this. What's past is past. If Nympho-Goth here wants to hold a grudge, let her. We're going to let the judges make the call now. (lets Mara go) Now go find somewhere else to be.

Guy: (maintaining sneer with an effort) We've gotta go get ready, anyway. And we'd rather not warm up with YOU around; give too much away. (beat) Where the hell is Joe?

(Mara and Guy exit with as much dignity as they can muster. Casey hangs back, hands stuffed in his pockets.)

Casey: (nearly unintelligible grunt) Hey Lynn; AP.

(And he shuffles out. Daria, Jane and AP enter the room proper. Brief pause, then…)

Max: Hey, Lynn, you look DAMN hot!14

(AP glares. Lynn waves the comment away and AP looks marginally happier. She turns to Trent and spreads her arms in a 'how do I look?' gesture. AP glares again.)

Trent: It suits. (beat) How long have you known they were our competition? (jerks a thumb in the direction the new BAND went.)

Lynn: Maybe 18 hours.

Trent: Okay. How good are they?

Lynn: (see-saw hand motion) Eh.

Trent: Can we take 'em?

(Lynn gives a slow, smug smirk, which spreads across the entire band. Cut to Daria, Jane and AP, who exchange a look.)

AP: I have a feeling we're in for a show…

(Scene: Zen stage. The guy from "Café Disaffecto" is doing his 'Can't stand your…' song. Pan to Daria, Jane and AP, who are sitting at their table. AP is staring at the stage in disbelief.)

AP: (slowly) I didn't think ANYONE could be that bad.

Daria: (nearly sympathetic) Sorry. We've heard this guy before. I guess acclimatisation mutes the horror.

Jane: But you'd think he'd have written some new material by now…

(The guy smashes his guitar. There is a mild cheer from the more anarchistic or inebriated in the crowd. Guy with guitar bounds around the stage until he is forcibly removed by security beasts, at which point the crowd cheers enthusiastically. MC steps onstage.)

MC: That was … do we really care who that was?

Crowd: NO!

MC: Well, we've fed him to the Beasts anyway. (beat) Next band up for sacrifice are the Back Alley Name-Droppers … Sex Pistols covers, probably… (brief cut to AP, who drops his head on the table15) Judges… (gesture to the side of the room, where a panel of three – Punk Bloke, Goth Chick and Hair Rock Reject – sit and wave their drinks at the crowd) you'll hear them play one cover, one original. Marks out of ten. And on we go!

(Lights up onstage. Joe McKeon is on drums, looking extremely out of place. Mara's at her keyboard, hands poised. Casey is slightly slouched over his bass and Guy stands tall at the front with a battered guitar. Without preamble, they thrash into a very impressive version of Korn's "A.D.I.D.A.S". Cut to Daria, Jane and AP, who look shocked.)

Jane: MY brother's going to try to beat THAT?

AP: Purple Peril's gonna be spitting NAILS!

(Daria, recovering herself, gets up out of her chair and walks off.)

Jane: Where is she going?

(AP shrugs, not taking his eyes off the stage.)

END ACT 2 – ADVERTS [Lead-in: Jesse banging Nick and Casey's heads together]

Charlie's Angels: A movie based on the old TV series. At first I wasn't sure if it was a trailer for a movie so bad there were NO decent clips to show or a Revlon ad. Either way…

Next in The Look-Alike Series: To keep the school production of "Romeo and Juliet" on track, Daria and Lynn are at the mercy of Charles Ruttheimer III in "Job Lots".

(Scene: backstage. Trent, Jesse, Nick and Max are standing in the wings, looking nervous. Daria slips past without them noticing and looks around for Lynn. She is nowhere to be found, but the fire door is open a crack, propped open by a block of wood. Daria looks at it, then goes out.)

(Scene: Zen parking lot. Music: "A Stroke of Luck" - Garbage. Daria carefully wedges the door open with the hunk of wood and looks around. She sees a pair of intimidating boots sticking out over the rear passenger side door of Lynn's Mercedes and walks over. She sits on the trunk, not looking at Lynn.)

Daria: They're not bad.

Lynn: (OS) Thanks. I needed to hear that.

Daria: You're better.


Lynn: (OS) I don't need to be made feel better.

Daria: The one you called 'Goat-boy' has no stage presence. They don't present a united front onstage and it works against them. (beat) It'll work against you too, if you don't go out there and rally the troops. (Silence) They're pretty shaken up, Lynn. They remember all too well the days when they were getting booed off the stage playing "Ice Box Woman" at McGrundy's for twenty bucks each. And they're still afraid they're going to wind up playing Doors covers at brewpubs.16 You're the one with the confidence.

Lynn: (OS) Even if it's only an outward show?

Daria: Even then; it makes them feel better, and their confidence can inspire yours. (beat; meaningful) You don't have to stand alone.

(Lynn sits up and looks at Daria for a moment.)

Lynn: You're not just talking about this, are you.

Daria: No. I'm not.

(Lynn considers Daria for a long moment, then opens her mouth to speak…)

AP: (OS) Hey ho, Purple Peril!

(Daria and Lynn turn to face AP, who's approaching at speed.)

Daria: (under her breath) Damnit, AP…

AP: Um … maybe you should go talk to Sir Naps-a-lot, Purple Peril. He looks SERIOUSLY freaked. So do the rest of 'em.

Lynn: (small Mona Lisa smile) Yeah. I guess I'd better. SOMEONE in there had better have some confidence.

(Lynn opens the door of the Merc, steps out, shuts the door behind her and walks off. AP grins at Daria, who glares at him.)

AP: So she's okay? (to her look) What? (Daria makes a frustrated gesture with her hands, biting back possible replies.) WHAT?

Daria: (resigned sigh) Never mind. The moment came once; it'll come again.

(Daria walks off. AP looks after her, completely at sea.)

AP: What'd I SAY? What'd I DO? Erudite EMERALD…

(He runs off after her.)

(Scene: Zen stage. The Back Alley Name-Droppers are leaving the stage to a great chorus of cheers and applause. The MC steps back up on stage.)

MC: Well, the Back Alley Name-Droppers walk away with 27 points! Maybe I was wrong about the Sex Pistols covers!

(The crowd cheers assent. Daria sits back down next to Jane, seething inwardly.)

Jane: What's wrong with YOU?

Daria: (grim mutter) The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

(Jane looks at Daria dubiously.)

MC: And maybe we'll be wrong about this one too! Next up for the slaughter is Mystik Spiral! Who sound like they play DOORS covers at brewpubs!

(Hyena-like laughter from the crowd. AP sits down on the other side of Jane from Daria and looks at her.)

AP: Tell me what I did!

Daria: (waving a hand at him) Shut up; they're about to start.

(Cut to backstage. Trent, Jesse, Nick and Max are looking out at the MC onstage. They still look nervous.)

Guy: (OS) Feeling a little less confident, townie-scum?

(The Spiral members turn to see Guy and Mara looking impossibly smug. Joe and Casey, on the other hand, look a bit less enthusiastic about band-baiting.)

Guy: You don't have to go out there, you know.

Lynn: (OS) What's the matter, Goat-boy? Afraid of a little competition?

(Lynn brushes past them and joins her bandmates.)

Trent: You okay?

Lynn: Never better. (beat) Now let's go impress some people.

(And they step out onto the stage.)

Lynn: (OS) Hey. We're Mystik Spiral. And if you don't like it … straight down the river Styx with you.

(Applause; Mystik Spiral rips into Skunk Anansie's "It Takes Blood and Guts to Be This Cool [But I'm Still Just a Cliché]". Crowd goes decidedly nuts. Guy looks green. Mara looks extremely pissed off. Casey and Joe share smug little smirks at their bandmates' expense.)

(Cut to where Daria, Jane and AP are watching events unfold. Daria looks smug. Jane looks surprised. AP is grinning like an idiot.)

Daria: Worried about your brother dealing with the competition NOW, Jane?

Jane: Guess not.

AP: Now it's THEIR turn to spit nails. (grin somehow widens) Take THAT, Nympho-Goth!

(Scene: the same, some time later. Music: "The Lost Art of Keeping a Secret" - Queens of the Stone Age. Daria looks a little disappointed. Jane looks livid. AP has his head in his hands. It's very quiet.)

Daria: A tie.

Jane: Well, that makes it almost okay that they didn't get first place.

AP: (anguished wail) But they SUCKED!

Jane: Sucking is in the eye of the beholder, AP. The judges loved it.

AP: (face in hands; frustrated scream) Marilyn Manson-wannabe SCUMBUCKETS!

Daria: Well, you have to admit, they put on a show.

Jane: Do you think they'll ever be able to clean the fake blood off the stage?

Daria: I'm more interested in how they intend to get that Chihuahua out of the rafters.

(In the silence that follows this, we hear dim, panicked barking. Lynn approaches.)

Jane: How's everyone taking it?

Lynn: (shrug) They're ecstatic. (beat) Well, they've never had the guts to sign up for anything like this before, so tying for second is a really big deal. And of course, even with only half of the grand offered to the runners up, they're walking away a hundred bucks in pocket.

Daria: And you?

Lynn: Eh. You know me. Calm, cool, and collected. Would have liked first, but given the show Lizard Gizzard put on… (a Doppler-effect whimper and a thump; collective wince from the gang) …I don't think I'm surprised.

AP: (face still in hands; lamenting wail) But they SUCKED! They couldn't sing worth CRAP! I don't think that guy was even holding his BASS the right way up!

Lynn: (Mona Lisa smile) Thanks for the vote of confidence, AP.

AP: (still face in hands) Don't mention it.

Lynn: I'm … gonna go help the guys pack up.

Jane: I'll go with you.

(Jane gets up and they both exit. Daria looks closely at AP.)

Daria: She's gone.

(AP looks up slowly, revealing a maroon blush.)

AP: So what DID I do wrong?

Daria: I came this close (presses thumb and forefinger together) to getting her to spill what's been bothering her lately. The sleepless nights. The weaponry. The unexplained absences. And the weirdness about Jerome. (slams fist into table) So damn close, and you interrupted.


AP: Okay … any idea how to kick yourself in the ass? Because I think I need to learn to do that.

(Scene: Zen backstage. Music plays on. Jane is walking alongside Lynn, who still wears the Mona Lisa smile.)

Jane: Quite the silver-tongued devil, young Andrew, eh?

Lynn: (sees where this is going; heads it off) Like your former young Thomas?

Jane: (taken aback) What do you know about HIM?

Lynn: Only that you don't want him mentioned any more than I want my unrequited feelings for AP mentioned.17 To ANYONE. EVER.

Jane: But… But what if he…

Lynn: I'm not hearing this, because you're not saying it, because we're not having this conversation. Nor will we. Are we on the same page?

Jane: (cheated) Fine. (beat) But you play dirty. I mean, I have some very good reasons not to want to talk about Tom!

Lynn: And they're no more my business than my relationships are yours.

(Lynn drifts past a very stunned Jane.)

Jane: You … you're not even going to ASK? (beat) You ARE acting weird!

(Scene: Zen parking lot. Music: "Even the Losers" - Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Lynn comes out of the fire door lugging a pair of cymbals and a snare drum. She spots Joe and Guy loading amps into a small battered white thing that probably began life as an ice-cream truck. Casey spots Lynn and shuffles over. Mara sees him go and follows him.)

Lynn: (hefting snare drum into the Tank) You were good.

Casey: (mutter) You too.

Mara: (grudging) Yeah.

(Pause. Lynn tucks the cymbals into the Tank and turns to face them.)

Casey: (almost intelligible mutter) What the hell'd they wanna do that to a dog for?

Mara: (small grin) They sucked, didn't they?

Lynn: Oh yeah. Musically, anyway. Welcome to the 21st Century, where shock and style is more valued than substance.

(That seems to have sealed it.)

Mara: Still dating the geek-ball?18

Lynn: Nope.

Mara: (shrug) Whatever.

Guy: (OS) What are you hangin' around with HER for? C'MON! We've got a PARTY to get to!

Mara: (to Guy; yelling) Yeah, yeah, whatever! (beat; to Lynn) See you around.

(Casey nods. Lynn doesn't say anything, just shuts the back of the Tank and around it towards the passenger side door. Mara and Casey share a look and walk off.)

Lynn: (approaching Trent, who's leaning out the window) Hey, we ripped it up. You guys were great.

Trent: (grin) Couldn't have done it without you, Lynn. We're gonna have a party at my place to celebrate. You're coming, right? (when Lynn hesitates) Lynn…

Lynn: Trent, I've got some stuff to do…

Trent: Look, you put the effort in, same as the rest of us. You gotta celebrate with us on this.

Lynn: (hesitant) Well … (Mona Lisa smile) Okay. I'll meet you there.

(Trent grins and the Tank pulls out. Lynn heads for the Mercedes, pulls her jacket out of the backseat and digs out her mobile phone. She hits a speed-dial button, puts the phone to her ear, waits…)

Lynn: Rust? Cullen. (beat) I'm not supposed to say on a mobile phone. (beat) Thank you. I'm going to have to skip tonight's session. (beat) Well, tied for second, actually, but I'm expected to celebrate. They're going to ask questions if I refuse. (beat) Well, I would have skipped without your blessing, but I thank you for it anyway. Later.

(She switches the mobile off, hops into the driver's seat and stows the phone in the glove compartment. She puts the key in the ignition and starts the car. Then she just sits behind the wheel for a moment. Then…)

Lynn: (calm musing) All in all … a great night.19

(She puts the pedal to the metal and the Mercedes roars out of the parking lot at high speed.)



1] We meet "Rust" in "Sister, Sister" and we see the bar for the first time in "An Irony of Errors". They meet, he attacks her, she throws knives at things…[Back]

2] Another "An Irony of Errors" reference. Lynn took the amp apart and promised to put it back together again … with the caveat that she couldn't swear she'd get it in working order. [Back]

3] From "Liaisons" through half of "Sister, Sister", to be exact. [Back]

4] Mystik Spiral did the Camden grunge bar circuit in "Rue Britannia". And this is where we get the first hints of Lynn's former rock-band affiliations. [Back]

5] Daria's bound to want answers from Lynn, given her new-found half-sister's behaviour since "Sister, Sister". [Back]

6] They've been mistaken for one another in person often enough. Why not over the phone? [Back]

7] AP first demonstrated this aspect of his personality in "Misshapen Identity", when Lynn donned Quinn-wear and reminded him of her "if I ever go postal, I'll do it wearing Hilfiger and listening to the Spice Girls" pledge [which we first hear in "Trick or Trent"]. [Back]

8] The crossbow first makes an appearance in "Many are Culled"; you'll see its origins in the nearly-finished "Growing Cynical". The knife-thing started in "Admission: Impossible". [Back]

9] Here's as good a place as any for the explanation. Mara Fitzgerald and Casey Wright were the other two members of the Back Alley Name Droppers, Lynn's old band. See "Rock Banned" [chapter 5 of "Growing Cynical"] for details. [Back]

10] And something gleaned from an actual ep; "Pierce Me", the favourite of Shippers all over the community. [Back]

11] As you'll recall from "Protest March" [chapter 4 of "Growing Cynical"], Lynn's creation of a rock band did not thrill Kate Cullen much. Then again, nothing about Lynn seems to. [Back]

12] As stated in "And Then There Were Four…" AP's emancipation from Oakwood was the result of his expulsion for making a teacher go 'semi-postal'. [Back]

13] This, as I recall, is Max's line in "Speedtrapped". He seemed to feel his point was proven by the breaking of a frozen cake. [Back]

14] Max seems to have gained a new appreciation for Lynn since "Blind Audition", and more so in "Misshapen Identity", when she got the tattoo. "Shame she thinks he's a moron", as AP says... [Back]

15] AP came up with the Back Alley Name-Droppers name. I didn't realise while writing "Blind Audition" what the initials were, so Austin came up with the story that AP INTENDED this. [Back]

16] One of Trent's greatest fears, if you believe "The Road Worrier". [Back]

17] Jane states this quite clearly in "Lady and the Tank". [Back]

18] Mara and Casey would have been among those who thought Lynn and AP were dating. According to "Relation-slips", they started 'pretending to date' when they were 13, maintaining the fiction until Lynn left Oakwood. [Back]

19] Daria's final statement in "The Invitation". Seems fitting, given that she's improved a townie band to the point where they can tie for second in a close-running Battle of the Bands, unmake an enemy and earn herself a night off… [Back]


Daria Morgendorffer et al are the creations of Glenn Eichler and Susie Lewis Lynn but are owned by MTV, a Viacom company, copyright 1997, 2000. [Apparently, this is possible by 'work for hire', a concept that eludes me.] Lynn Cullen and AP McIntyre, on the other hand, were created and are owned by me, one Janet 'Canadibrit' Neilson, copyright 1999, 2000. Touch my characters without consulting me and it will go hard with you. This is a "substantially transformative" derivative work, apparently [what a highfalutin way to say fanfic], and is protected by the Supreme Court's decision in re Campbell v. Acuff Rose Music, so keep the copyright notice where it is and don't post it for money. If you do so without my permission and that of MTV Networks, I WILL pull a Lynn Cullen on you. And then I'll call lawyers.

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