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

LHS corridor. Daria, Jane, Lynn and AP by the lockers. As one body, they facefault and turn their heads to look at something out of shot. Lynn flicks her wrist, producing a knife, and dashes out of shot.

Football field, near the bleachers. Kevin and Brittany arguing. AP, sitting in the bleachers wearing a LHS marching band uniform and a completely disgusted expression, picks up a large pair of cymbals and smashes them together right near Kevin and Brittany's ears.

Pizza King. Quinn sitting at a table, sobbing with rage. Lynn looks at her, eyebrow raised in what is, for her, sympathy, and hands over a book. Quinn looks at the cover and stops crying as her face slowly brightens to an evil smirk.

AP's room. AP completely engrossed in a video game. Daria watches him play for a moment, disgust in her face, then starts digging through his cabinets.

LHS corridor. Mrs Bennett opens a door to reveal a broom closet in which Lynn and AP are making out; Lynn and AP break off a kiss as the door opens. They look at Bennett for a moment, then Lynn gives a wide grin and shuts the door in her face.

Morgendorffer front hallway. Jake going completely ballistic at Jerome, who is standing on the front step and looking at Jake in a manner that suggests that he's two seconds from calling the men in white coats. Then Jake takes a swing at Jerome.

The Zen. Daria, Jane, AP, Andrea, Guy, Casey and Mara at a table. Upchuck is leering at Mara, who regards him for a moment and then pulls him forward by the collar and kisses him hard, mouth open. When she lets go, Upchuck falls over in a dead faint. Jane looks extremely impressed.

Lane front door. Jane [in artist's smock and beret] and Jodie [ratty jeans, baggy T-shirt, clipboard, pencil behind her ear] open the door to find Quinn standing there wearing a seirafuku and a hopeful expression.

Biers. Someone has set it on fire; Lynn and Daria are wielding fire extinguishers that were probably new in 1931 [they contain water and you have to hand-pump them], trying to control the worst of the flames.

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 underneath in the Daria font reads, "Daria in...")

PARENTAL DISCRETION

A Daria Fan Fiction [TLAS 4:03]

(Scene: Helen's office. Music: "Becoming More Like Alfie" - Divine Comedy. Helen pacing the office among ringing phones in a more agitated manner than usual.)

Helen: Get IT support ON the phone and if they don't have a DAMN good excuse for why every internal e-mail I send winds up in some advertising agency in Helsinki...1 (A knock at the door; Helen turns sweet as she gets) Yes?

Eric: (entering) Helen, there's a gentleman at reception...

Helen: (less sweet now) Well, get one of the first floor paralegals to deal with it. I REALLY haven't got the time...

Eric: Helen, he's asking for you specifically.

Helen: (raised eyebrow) Oh? (sigh) All right, send him up.

Eric: Your star seems to be rising, Helen. We may have to make you a full partner yet. (walks out)

Helen: (muttering to herself with Daria-esque bitterness and cynicism) Except you can't fit my name on the letterhead, you manipulative Machiavellian moron...2

(She turns back to her desk and starts trying to tidy the disaster area it has become. A knock on the door; Helen looks up with her sweetest client-rear-end-kissing smile)

Helen: Helloooo... (trails off; look from sweet and helpful to pale and horrified) Oh.

(Pan to doorway. Jerome is standing in the doorway.3)

Jerome: Hello, Helen. (beat) May I...

Helen: (flustered) Uh ... I ... of course! I... (drops a pile of papers on the floor) Oh!

Jerome: (stepping a few steps into the room) You're looking well.

Helen: (making herself stop fidgeting) Uh. Thank you. I ... um, and so do you. I mean...

Jerome: It's my lifestyle. Keeps me young.

(Awkward silence)

Helen: So. (beat) What brings you to Lawndale?

Jerome: My daughter.

Helen: (a little more nervous) Which one?

Jerome: Predominantly Lynn, though I do need to have words with Daria. (to the look on Helen's face) Don't worry, Helen - Jake will ALWAYS be her father. She and I just have ... business to discuss.

(More silence, this time suspicious on Helen's part)

Helen: You're developing a habit of appearing around here when there's been trouble in the girls' lives. I'm not sure I like it.4

Jerome: Like it or not...

(He lets it hang.)

Helen: (finally breaking to fill the silence) You ... said you needed to talk to Daria. (beat) Why are you HERE?

Jerome: (slightly evasive) We-ell, the last time I was in the neighbourhood there wasn't much chance to stop for a chat. And since I have a bit more free time this trip, I thought maybe we could get together for lunch. (shrug) Talk over old times.

Helen: (raised eyebrow) Really?

Jerome: (Mona Lisa smile) No fear, Helen. I'm not going to intrude on your marriage. That's over. But you were always a scintillating conversationalist as well as... (slight blush)

Helen: (blushing more obviously) All right. Come back at about twelve-thirty and we'll...

Jerome: (mostly-teasing tone) I warn you - if you say 'do lunch' I may have to be violent. I LOATHE that saying - only slightly less so than 'have your people call MY people'.

(Helen smiles. Jerome smiles back. No romantic tension, though - just 'old friends'.)

Helen: All right. Twelve-thirty, then.

Jerome: Until then.

(Jerome makes a slight bow and exits. Helen looks after him, a very strange mixture of fondness, suspicion, worry and nostalgia on her face.)


(Scene: Lynn's room. Music: "Look To Your Orb For Warning" - Monster Magnet. Lynn sprawled out across her bed, scribbling in a notebook. After a moment, AP's face pops into the window.)

AP: Hey ho, Purple Peril!

Lynn: (not looking up) Salutations, Maverick. (beat) Got a rhyme for 'attack'?

AP: Compaq? I dunno. Why are you asking ME?5 (climbs in through the window)

Lynn: (squinting disapprovingly at her notebook) You were convenient. It seems a bit absurd to call Daria and say, "Hey, what's a decent rhyme? Thanks. Later. Bye."

(The phone rings.)

AP: (grin) Maybe that's her!

Lynn: (looking up; raised eyebrow) The world doesn't work that way. (picks up the phone) Writer's haven. Leave your sanity at the front desk for later reclamation. (beat) Oh, hey. (beat) He's WHAT?

(AP looks at her worriedly.)


(Scene: Lane basement. Music plays on. Daria and Jane are sitting on crates on the floor, listening to the male element of Mystik Spiral belt out something that, in instrumental, sounds like the product of a menage a trois between A Perfect Circle, Toad the Wet Sprocket and ballad-style Metallica. [The blend of these three that would actually WORK rather than the one that would leave you wishing you were deaf - it is possible to blend all that.] Daria is jotting something down in a notebook. Jane is sketching the band - a space in the middle of the page is blank, presumably where she'll fill Lynn in later.)

Daria: (to Jane; not looking up) Hey, you got a rhyme for 'attack'?

(A red light set into the wall lights up. The band stops playing and we can hear the doorbell finishing its ring. As the ring stops, the light goes out.)

Jane: I got it. (mutter to herself as she climbs the stairs) Saves me from having to come up with that damn rhyme, anyway...

(Jane exits. Trent sets the new guitar down and turns to Daria.)

Trent: So. (beat) What'd you think?

Daria: It's the kind of thing that probably needs lyrics for the full effect. Otherwise, though, you're really improving. (beat) Lynn must be doing good things for you.

Trent: (blink) Uh ... yeah. (beat; 'carpe diem' expression) I kinda wanted to talk to you about that. I...6

(Lynn barges down the stairs, Jane and AP hot on her heels.)

AP: The Falcon has landed.

Jane: AGAIN. AND we don't know how pissed he looks.7

(AP shoots Jane a look, and she flaps a "never mind" at him.)

Daria: (standing) ExCUSE me?

Lynn: He's ripped because we won't deal with Rust. So he's come to negotiate.

Daria: Talked to him yet?

Lynn: No, Jan called. Said something about her belief in fair warning applying across the board ... whatever that means.8 (musing) What the hell she's doing in San Francisco I don't know but... (slight headshake) Just thinking aloud. Anyway. Since I haven't seen hide nor hair of him yet he either hasn't arrived or is caught up with other things.

Daria: So what do we tell him when he DOES come asking?

Lynn: We're going to have to discuss that. (to Trent et al) Gentlemen? Sorry, but this takes precedent over rehearsal.

Trent: Are we gonna get an explanation for this?

(They look at Lynn, who gestures to AP.)

AP: Why ME?

Lynn: You're good with short and to the point. 'Dumbing things down', for lack of a better term.

AP: (slight frown) Oh. (beat; to the guys) Okay, Rust's at LHS with orders, wants to 'cover our backs'. We said no. Rust called Warlock, saying, 'I can't deal'. HE said, 'typical', called Falcon. HE said, 'typical' too. Then he hopped a plane. So now he's here and we figure he wants us to play along with the 'cover our backs' thing.9 (Silence) What part of that did you not get?

Lynn: I think that summed it up. We're about to get a telling-off by a TRUE criminale. And we need to formulate a plan of attack.

Trent: Can we help at all?

Lynn: Well, if all else fails, we tell him to arm you. (to the stares) Well, you've dealt with firearms before. I don't think anyone's stupid enough to try anything at school...

Jane: Yeah, I mean, what are they going to do, poison the cafeteria food?

Daria: Better question - would we notice the difference if they DID?

Lynn: (vaguely annoyed) ...AND at least two of us are in your company fairly regularly anyway. Four bodyguards in exchange for one. And though I nearly hate to say it, you four would be more likely to get a recommendation from the WCB than Rust...

Jesse: WCB?

Lynn: West Coast Brigade. My short form. Covers Warlock, Scar, Pagebert and, even though she wanders a lot, DJ. Warlock's the main one with a problem with Rust, to tell the truth. One of those personal things that I doubt you'd ask about unless you want a bellyful of lead. (beat; to the silence) Anyway. Strategy meeting, gang.

(Lynn tromps up the stairs, closely followed by AP. Daria and Jane shrug at each other.)

Jane: You sounded good, guys.

Daria: Yeah, but could you maybe take a break on the rehearsal for awhile?

Trent: (confused) Uh... sure.

(Daria and Jane nod at them and head upstairs. The band exchanges looks.)

Nick: Y'know ... I think I liked it better when I DIDN'T get what was up with her.

(Trent nods ruefully, obviously not thinking about the same 'her'.)

END ACT 1 - ADVERTS [Lead-in, moving S4 bumpers, Jerome standing in Helen's doorway, AP poking his head through Lynn's window, Daria standing up with a shocked look.]

A Lane in Black: Yep, you lucky fortunates. (Ooh, love the redundancy.) "I Am (NOT) Daria!", in connection with Anglo-Canadian Studios, is proud to present Jon Kilner's A Lane in Black", his latest triumph.

Beneath The Blue Suburban Skies: Reliable inside intelligence I've recently been made privy to dictates that this fic WILL be done soon (publicly stated Bootlace Threat seems to work - must make that a habit) and when it is, "IA(N)D!" has exclusive rights to its premiere. There are benefits to regular, if incomplete, updates...

ACT 2
(Scene: Morgendorffer front corridor. Music: "Englishman in New York" - Sting. Jake moves into shot to get the door and when he opens it, Jerome is standing there. Jake blinks at him - probably his resemblance to Daria and Lynn that he can't quite place yet.)

Jerome: Good day. (beat) Is Daria at home?

Jake: (now eyeing him suspiciously) She's at a friend's house. Who are you?

Jerome: (slightly evasive) Call me a ... long-lost acquaintance of hers. I'll look elsewhere. Sorry to have troubled you.

(As Jerome turns to go, something clicks for Jake and he scowls.)

Jake: Your name's not Jerome, is it?

(Jerome freezes, then turns back with a very slight sigh)

Jerome: It is, and I'm forgetting my manners. You would be Jacob. A pleasure.

(He extends a hand, which Jake looks at as if it's infested. After a bare pause, Jerome retracts it.)

Jake: What do you want with my daughter?

Jerome: (perfectly calm) Just a word. (beat) Very intelligent young lady, your daughter. Well-raised.

Jake: (not about to be charmed) I want you to stay the hell away from Daria.

Jerome: (honestly puzzled) Indeed? Why? Surely it's up to her whether she speaks to me. She's nearly eighteen, if I'm not mistaken ... more than capable of making her own judgement calls.

Jake: (snarling at this point) You've done enough damn damage to my family.

Jerome: (not quite following this) But your marriage has very nearly improved lately, if Helen has it right...

Jake: (ballistic Jake) WHEN THE *HELL* DID YOU TALK TO MY WIFE?

Jerome: ('oh dear God the man's psychotic' expression) I looked her up when I arrived; took her to lunch - as an old friend. Surely you don't object...

Jake: Damn RIGHT I object! You don't BELONG here, damnit! GAH! WEEKS it took before Helen and I could even LOOK at each other after I found out! Daria's more damn distant than EVER since YOU showed up here! If it wasn't for you...10

Jerome: (had quite enough of this) ...Daria wouldn't EXIST, Jacob.

(Jake takes a swing at Jerome. Jerome dodges, grabs a hold of Jake's arm, gets him in an arm lock and slams him up against the nearest wall.)

Jake: (muffled by wall) Let ... GO ... of me!

Jerome: (still calm) Not until you agree to stop being so bloody juvenile.

Jake: (still muffled) You bas...GAH!

(The 'gah' comes when Jerome jerks Jake's arm a little higher behind his back.)

Jerome: (conversatonal) I could break your arm quite easily, you know.

Daria: (OS) But you're not going to.

(Jerome looks over without letting go of Jake [we know the man's not stupid] and sees Daria standing in the doorway, arms folded, deadpan.)

Jerome: Hello, Daria. (beat) Would it matter to you that the first move was his?

Daria: (after a beat) It would. But let him go anyway.

(Jerome complies. Jake tries to rub some feeling back into his shoulder.)

Jake: (eager to establish dominance here) Hey there, kiddo!

Daria: (raised eyebrow) Hi Dad. Just came to pick up some things. You remember I'm staying over at Jane's tonight?

Jake: (not sure if he does but reluctant to show it) Oh, sure thing, kiddo! Just don't forget it's a school night.

Daria: No chance of that, much as I'd like to.

(Jerome stifles a smirk)

Jake: Right. (struggling; 'what would a good father say?') Have a rad time at your sleepover! (beat) It IS 'rad', right?

(Daria winces a little. Jerome is a bit less successful at hiding the smirk this time.)

Jerome: I'm not the expert on teenage jargon, but I've tended to notice a trend towards minimalism. 'Cool' seems to be the only word in their vocabularies these days.

Daria: (raised eyebrow) Even 'cool's a bit too much in this case. (beat) NEITHER of you are any good at this, so stop trying so hard.

(She walks past them and up the stairs, leaving Jake and Jerome to stare after her. We hear a door slam, and the two men look at each other. There is an awkward silence - they've BOTH been put in their place good and proper.)

Jake: Uh.

Jerome: Indeed. 'Uh' about covers it.

(More awkward silence.)


(Scene: Cullen kitchen. Someone - presumably Jane - has been at the walls with a paintbrush and the walls are now done up in a sort of mottled pattern of reds, golds and browns. Daria is sitting at the table, which has been revarnished mahogany, and Lynn is rooting through the fridge, which has been spray-painted gold.)

Daria: It's like New England fall in here. And you let Jane do this?

Lynn: (muffled by fridge) Was it a question of 'let'? You know how she gets.11 (emerging from fridge with two cans of soda and heading towards the table, kicking the fridge door closed as she passes) So how'd you get past them? It's a bitch climbing through your bedroom window. (setting soda can in front of Daria and sitting down) And that's for me, who's used to that sort of thing.

Daria: It's the sawed-off bars, I take it.

Lynn: Oooooh yeah. But I guess it was for the best that I went out through your window when your parents were home. I mean, God, imagine if your mother had seen us together and started the... (trails off, goes a bit white)12

Daria: (realises where's she's stuck, subject change with sledgehammer) Yeah, well, I'm not that agile. But it didn't matter; by the time I came downstairs they were both gone.

Lynn: (regaining composure; raised eyebrow) Together, you think?

Daria: Well, Dad wasn't in the house, so I have to assume. (beat; mild worry) Jerome wouldn't...

Lynn: No.

Daria: But the man had him in...

Lynn: (doesn't want to hear this) Trust me. If he was going to hurt Jake, Jake would be hurt already. (beat) Now. Who tells Dad what we've decided and how?

Daria: You're his daughter ... well, he's known your his daughter for longer...

Lynn: (grumble) Like THAT matters. So far he's been in town for God knows how long and he STILL has yet to look me up. (long, heavy sigh) Well, let's just see who talks to him first.

Daria: Lynn...

Lynn: (mask down again) Now. Did you actually GET that Econ diagram? I mean, I got as far as the Xs being consumers. (slight smirk) I got the impression that the Os were consumer-eating dinosaurs but I've got to be wrong.

Daria: (blink) If I'd kept that note, this wouldn't be so scary.13

Lynn: (blink of her own) Excuse me?

(Daria just sighs and leans down to the floor for her book bag. Doorbell goes. Daria and Lynn look at each other.)

Daria: Your house.

Lynn: Mmph.

(She exits with Daria a few feet behind.)


(Scene: Cullen front hallway [still destroyed - Jane obviously hasn't got this far yet]. Music: "Butterflies" - Toad the Wet Sprocket [yes, I'm on a TTWS trip right now; so kill me.] Lynn opens the door and Jerome is standing there.)

Jerome: Ah, Lynn. I... (sees the corridor) Who did this?

Lynn: (completely neutral) I did.

Jerome: (wide-eyed) Ah. I ... see.

Lynn: (stating the obvious) No you don't.

Jerome: True. But I suppose it's probably none of my affair in any case.

(Lynn looks vaguely disappointed for a split-second, then her face goes bland again.)

Lynn: You wanted something?

Jerome: A word. (looks again, sees Daria) With both of you. (beat) May I come in?

Lynn: Well, you technically hold the deed for another month or so. Legally I can't stop you.

(She steps aside and opens the door wider. Jerome looks at her, gives a very small shrug and steps inside. Lynn shuts the door.)


(Scene: Cullen living room. Music plays on. Jerome looks a bit stunned by the decor.)

Lynn: You want us to co-operate with Rust.

Daria: We're not going to.

Lynn: Rebuttal?

(Jerome now goes landed-fish.)

Jerome: Uh, I'd like to hear the reasons behind your refusal, if I may.

Daria: He's none too bright when it comes to strategy. Even after months training with Lynn he STILL couldn't anticipate her.

Lynn: He couldn't shoot his way out of a wet paper bag anyway.

Daria: We don't trust him to be able to protect us in a crunch-time situation. We'd probably spend more time watching HIM than the other way around.

Lynn: In short, he's a liability we can't afford.

Daria: Your response to that?

Jerome: (reeling at the rapid-fire reasoning) Uh. Well-reasoned. (beat) Even so, he's the best we have here. I can't spare Shooter...14

Lynn: (to Daria's quizzical look) Mark Renfield. Bartender over at Biers.

Jerome: (ignoring the interruption) And Remora ... well, he would be a far worse option, believe me.

Daria: Arm the band, then.

Lynn: Hell, arm US. We studied under Warlock - however briefly.

Daria: Tell me that our experience 'in the field' doesn't count for something.

Jerome: You know nothing about the business angle of things. Missing H is far better positioned to get the information you'd need to get you by. (Daria and Lynn exchange looks - he has a point) At least keep lines of communication open with him. He may prove himself valuable yet. And I would hope that, eventually, some of your ... latent talents would rub off on him.

Lynn: Flattery will get you nowhere.

Jerome: Strictly speaking, that was a challenge for you, not flattery.

(Daria and Lynn exchange another look.)

Daria & Lynn: (in unison) Excuse us.

(They leave the room, Jerome looking after them - he seems extremely impressed.)


(Scene: Cullen kitchen. Music plays on.)

Daria: So what do we do now? I mean, Tom's already AT Lawndale High and realistically there's no way to make him leave.

Lynn: (sounding tired) I know. And I guess if we're going to have to accept protection, it should be on our own terms. (heavy sigh) God, I'm sick of this...

Daria: Are you...

Lynn: (raising a hand) If you finish that question it will go hard with you. (beat) I'll be fine. (beat) Now if we're accepting his offer on our terms, we need to work through what the terms ARE.

(Daria looks at her with some concern. Lynn looks back - her expression indicates that she will not brook any argument here.)

END ACT 2 - ADVERTS [Lead-in, moving S4 bumpers, Jake taking a swing at Jerome, Lynn kicking the fridge door shut, Jerome going landed-fish.]

"The Project": I've received beta reading material from Paperpusher, what he calls "The Project". I've said this to him personally and I'm saying it again - sir, get that fic out for the readers - I'm instituting the Bootlace Threat.

Next in The Look-Alike Series: Principal Caldwell wants his first LHS homecoming to be special ... and as a result, certain members of our gang may be "Banded for Life".

ACT 3
(Scene: Cullen living room. Music: "Release" - Pearl Jam. Jerome has perched warily on the sofa, seeming to not want to get too comfortable. Re-enter Daria and Lynn, both with the same deadpan expressions.)

Lynn: We will refrain from treating Rust entirely like a plague rat. That's about the best we can promise.

Daria: You have to understand that we have very good reasons for disliking him. There's some history involved.

Lynn: But from the point of view of ... 'security' ... we won't let it interfere. At least at school.

Daria: But we will NOT take him into our social circle. If you want protection for us after school hours, you will have to arm us and let us handle our own affairs.

Lynn: That includes Mystik Spiral. And Narcissa - she's involved in this too, like it or not.

Daria: And the final condition is that 'Rust' stops with the recruitment drive. And so do you.

Jerome: Excuse me...

Lynn: We have lives to lead. High school to finish. We haven't got the time needed to become what you want us to be.

Jerome: Leopard managed well enough. As did Kes.

Lynn: Tell me they had social lives.

(Silence.)

Jerome: I can't promise you that. And I believe you know why. I may lose people sooner than expected. It would be ... difficult not to expect me to at least try to replace them as quickly as possible.

Daria: With US?

Jerome: I see no reason why not.

Daria: Youth, inexperience ... unwilling...

Jerome: I can't speak as regards you, Daria. You seem ... very adaptable. You possess a unique ability in our family - you can move with the current, so to speak, and get what you want with a minimum of wave-making. (turning to Lynn) You, however, are a different matter and have been since you were small. Tell me the last time you shrank at breaking a rule or tearing down any system that irritated you.15

(Lynn looks away. Daria, not liking this, takes the offense)

Daria: Have you ever thought that she could do the same to YOUR system, if she chose? (slight smirk) Maybe you should think again before taking that risk.

Jerome: (slight smile) A valiant effort. But she's too loyal for that and you know it. (back to Lynn, sensing a weakening) I know things have been ... difficult of late and I blame myself for that.

Daria: As do we.

Jerome: (slight wince) Indeed. But the fact remains that this is what you were meant for. You may not have been raised to it, but you were born to it. And I have my doubts as to whether you'd be truly happy doing anything else. In any case, the Family may come to depend on you one day in the not too distant future... (turning to Daria) And it would be helpful if she had someone at her side who's able and above all WILLING to play the game by the rules if that's the best course.

Lynn: Jane? AP?

Jerome: Ah, the one with the knives and the miniature Pagebert.16

Lynn: (mild disgust) Well, that answers MY question...

Daria: Actually, Pagebert's more articulate...

Lynn: (maintaining composure with a visible effort) Maybe it was too much to ask for you to stop pushing. But we still don't have to say yes. (looking her father straight in the eye) It's a battle of wills. It might be interesting to see who wins it.

(Daria looks between the two of them, concerned. Jerome looks sad; Lynn, adamant. There is a pause.)

Jerome: (changing subject NOW) Right, well, I think we've discussed business enough for one day. (beat) Is there any chance of my taking you both to dinner?

Daria: (*ping*) Sorry, but Jane's expecting me. You two go ahead, though.

Lynn: (shooting a slight 'look' at Daria) I can't. I have a date. (checking watch) And he should be here in five ... four ... three...

AP: (OS from upstairs) Hey ho, Purple Peril; I... (*thud*) Owwwwwww...

Lynn: (combination smirk/fond smile) Hey. He's early.

Jerome: (soft smile) I see. (beat) Well, perhaps tomorrow?

(Lynn looks reluctant ... then sees the "accept or I will hurt you" look on Daria's face.)

Lynn: (fighting to keep the reluctance out of her voice) Okay. (beat) But no damn business.

Jerome: No ... I think that will be our time to play catch-up.

(AP thumps down the stairs and pokes his head into the living room.)

AP: Hey, Purple Peril, what's with the... (sees the other occupants; freezes) Uh...

Jerome: Hello AP.

AP: (cold) Sir.

Jerome: (raised eyebrow) It's an improvement.17 (to Lynn) Six-thirty suit? (Lynn nods. Jerome nods back, stands) I'll see myself out. And thank you for taking the time to negotiate, at least.

(Jerome exits. AP watches him go, then turns to Daria and Lynn.)

AP: Okaaay... How'd it go?

Lynn: (tired sigh) Someone call Jane. I guess we'd better brief everyone before we get our lives back for awhile.

(Daria and AP share a worried glance.)


(Scene: Morgendorffer living room. Helen pacing the floor. Enter Jake, looking thoughtful but not overly drunk. Helen turns on him.)

Helen: Jake! Where have you been?

Jake: (deep in thought) Just out thinking.

Helen: Well, could you please sit down because I have something to tell you. (Jake, looking a bit confused, sits.) Now Jake, I know you probably won't like this, but ... Jerome Smythe came by my office this morning and he invited me out to lunch and it seemed silly to say no so I accepted and I had a lovely time but nothing happened and... (finally coming out of Quinn-mode and realising that Jake doesn't look the least bit surprised) How did you KNOW?

Jake: He came by to talk to Daria. (beat) I think I see what you saw in him.

Helen: Jake...

Jake: And I wonder what the hell you see in ME...

Helen: Jake, don't talk that way! (sitting next to him) You're a warm, kind, caring man. Jerome ... there's always a distance with Jerome. (turning his face to hers) Jake, PLEASE don't compare yourself to him - that's eighteen years OVER. I love YOU; please tell me you know that.

Jake: Helen ... why'd you tell me you'd been out with him? I wouldn't have...

Helen: I'm not going to lie to you anymore, Jake. In any case, it was harmless.

(Jake, heartened more by her determination to be honest with him than anything else, hugs her tight. Enter Quinn.)

Quinn: Hi Mom, Dad, I... EWWWW! I need a shower!

(With that, she dashes upstairs and we hear a door slam. Helen and Jake just hold each other, not having noticed any of that.)


(Scene: LHS cafeteria. Music: "Misery" - Green Day. Daria, Jane, Lynn and AP all seated at a table, not talking. They seem to be waiting for something. What they're waiting for becomes apparent when Tom steps over to the table, carrying a tray and looking nervous.)

Tom: (deeper meaning evident) May I join you?

(The others look at each other - expression screams 'swallowing bitter medicine'. Then Lynn gestures him towards an empty seat - the farthest one from her, one may note. Tom sits and there is a tense silence.)

Tom: Can I ask you guys a question? (simultaneous quizzical eyebrow-raising) What is up with your teachers?

Daria: Which ones?

Tom: ALL of them.

Jane: Where to start? There's so much to hate about them.18

(Lynn looks at her 'food' but doesn't say anything.)

Tom: For instance, Ms Barch. I got, "Not another damned beer-guzzling MAN!" as my welcome to class.

Daria: It could be worse.

Jane: It HAS BEEN worse.

AP: You have Purple Peril to thank for the fact that your grade in her class isn't in the toilet already.19

Lynn: (blush) Didn't do it alone...

Jane: Yeah, but it was your insidious plot that got her to drop the campaign to fail every guy that passed through her class. (to Tom and AP) You two SHOULD by rights be worshipping at the feet of the Goddess of Subversion, you know...

(She catches Daria's "Shut UP, Jane..." glare and then follows Daria's gaze to Lynn, who is poking at her food, looking pale and almost frightened.)

Tom: (sledgehammer time again) Okay, that's one mystery solved. Before I call Robert Stack, someone want to explain O'Neill?

Daria: There ARE no words to explain O'Neill. Closest I can come is "Sensitive New-Age Man".

(Tom gives Daria a grateful little smile. Daria raises an eyebrow in a "don't push your luck" sort of way.)


(Scene: Chez Pierre.20 Music: "Runaway Train" - Soul Asylum. Jerome is sitting at a table, looking at his napkin - folded into the shape of a swan. After a moment, he picks it up and starts twisting it nervously. Then he realises what he's doing and shakes it out, putting it in his lap. He then looks up ... pan to the door of the restaurant. Lynn, in the dress she wore in "None of Your Affair", steps through the door and strides over to Jerome's table in an arrogant enough way to deter the snooty maitre d'. She sits down across from Jerome.)

Jerome: Nicely punctual.

Lynn: (shrug) Did it have to be HERE?

Jerome: I heard it was the best Lawndale had to offer. And anyway, you may as well get used to it. This is the sort of lifestyle our family is accustomed to. You remember the wedding, of course.

Lynn: Been there, done that, wearing the stupid dress.

Jerome: Ah, yes, I saw the pictures.21 (beat) Lynn, I know I promised not to discuss this with you tonight, but...

Lynn: I wouldn't. (cuts her eyes to the side. Pan to a few tables over, where Sandi's practically falling out of her chair trying to listen in. Joey is looking at her like she's nuts) Whatever you say tonight would be broadcast all over school by Little Miss Demolition Derby over there.22

Jerome: Oh? How 'demolition derby'?


(Scene: Chez Pierre, ext. Music plays on. Sandi and Joey step out of the restaurant, turn right... Sandi's eyes go wide with horror.)

Sandi: AUUUUUGH!

(Pan to her little yellow convertible. Slashed tires, black anarchy symbols spray-painted along the body, hood and gas cap both popped, suggesting that serious tampering has gone on.)

Sandi: (OS) WHAT THE HELL?

(Pan to an alleyway. Lynn and Jerome, oil and paint stains on their fancy clothing, look at each other and smirk.)

Jerome: Haven't had that much fun in years. (beat) Will they catch us?

Lynn: Not a chance in hell. Remember I left a few minutes before you? (holds up a spray can) Bye bye security cameras.

Jerome: You really are my daughter, aren't you.

(Lynn cuts her eyes away.)

Lynn: (very quiet) Yeah. Yeah I am.

END


A NOTE OF THANKS

I think this one has to go out to ALL of the regulars over at #Daria+. You were all patient beyond belief while I hacked this one out through various bad moods, insanity and the rest of it. And let's give a special warm thanks to Jill 'Leopard' Friedman, without whom this fic would never have ended. But, as it's been since the start of S3, predominance in the thanks goes out to Ben 'Warlock' Yee. Thank you ever so for betaing this one [twice, yet], for pointing out the niggly bits I always miss and for beta reading the final product even when you weren't feeling well without a word of complaint about the coding errors I noticed on my own. Not to mention offering to code the thing. *hugs* [Wish I'd let you now, given the code errors I found later - thankfully not many people read the mangled version...]

ENDNOTES

1] Concept taken from a book I read last week. If you value your sanity, don't ask. [Back]

2] The typical excuse used for the fact that she's not a full partner yet. [Back]

3] As we find out in "The Parent Crap", Helen had an extramarital affair. As we find out in Liaisons, it was with Jerome Smythe. And as we finally work out for definite in "Sister, Sister", Daria's birth was a direct result of that affair. [Back]

4] Well, the last time he turned up, Ms Li had been broken out of jail and made an attempt on the lives of the Jacketeers [Liaisons]. NOW Daria's just come back from a cross-country trip with a distant air and a somewhat haunted look in her eye [see Tour of Duty for the whys and wherefores] and he turns up again. Helen's not stupid. [Back]

5] Compaq, of course, being the computer brand. And his question's more than valid, given the grip of the English language he's been displaying in his now nearly three seasons in this fic series... [Back]

6] LONG-winded explanation time. Lynn and Trent didn't really talk all that much until after "Trick or Trent", when he accidentally declared his love for Daria to her (damn look-alikeness...) So, in an attempt to be helpful, she made her own stab at yentaing, which only caused more trouble after AP's arrival ["Kiss and Tell"]. She developed a crush of her own on Trent, but that pretty well died the death after he called her 'Daria' in a moment of passion ["Rue Britannia"]. But they started getting closer in a friendly way when she joined Mystik Spiral ["Blind Audition"] and eventually, to try to forget about her feelings for AP ["Relation-slips"] she agreed to go on a date with Trent ["An Irony of Errors"]. It bombed and, after lots of dancing around the issue, Lynn finally got together with AP ["Tour of Duty"] but Daria likely still thinks that Trent has that thing for Lynn, having heard little to the contrary. Trent might want to set the record straight. [Back]

7] See the same basic line in "Tour of Duty" for the explanation. [Back]

8] It means that Kestrel, better known as Jan to those who read "Rue", thinks that people ought to be warned when her uncle Jerome is turning up at their doorstep with a bone to pick, as we see in ToD. [Back]

9] Adequate summary of "Fifth Wheel". [Back]

10] Jake found out about the affair in "Sister, Sister" - his reaction to that made Daria take off for awhile until things died down. First he turned to drink ["Admission: Impossible"] and then to work ["Job Lots"] and then he finally got some decent advice and talked to Helen about the whole thing ["None of Your Affair"] and, after some solitary bonding [that's what *they* were doing during ToD], things improved for them. [Back]

11] As we see in "Admission: Impossible", Jane has been redecorating Lynn's house after the trashing Lynn gave it in "Sister, Sister". [Back]

12] Two endnotes in one - Lynn basically tried to avoid Daria's family after her resemblance to Daria [or Daria's resemblance to her, as Lynn's the elder] made Jake faint ["A Meeting of the Brains"]. And the reason she's trailing off is that the next words out of her mouth were supposed to be 'Spanish Inquisition' and anyone who's read ToD knows why that's the LAST ref she wants to make. [Back]

13] Reference to the note found crumpled on the floor of Mrs Bennett's classroom in "The Daria Diaries", where Jane asks if Daria can make sense of the diagram and Daria replies, "Well, I think the Xs are consumers and the Os represent consumer-eating dinosaurs. But I could be wrong." The look-alike/think-alike trend is not dead. [Back]

14] I had to name the guy sometime. Biers is the bar we first see in "An Irony of Errors". Hell, it belongs to the Smythes and they're Pratchett fans; they can name it what they like. [Back]

15] See ... well, see just about everything from "Run Away From Homecoming" through "The Flack-Jacket Mafia", not to mention the independently released chapters of "Growing Cynical". [Back]

16] For those of you who haven't read "Tour of Duty" [man, you people must be BEYOND lost...], "Pagebert" is, here, synonymous with "UberGeek". [Back]

17] Anyone remember AP's reaction to Jerome in "Liaisons"? Not to mention that LOOK from "Tour of Duty"? [Thanks for reminding me of that one, Ben. But then, that look WAS your idea...] Yeah. Improvement. [Back]

18] Paraphrase of her line about school from "Arts and Crass". [Back]

19] "Run Away From Homecoming" - Lynn's little plot to blackmail Barch had two main effects - getting Mack his sports eligibility back and getting her to stop with the curve she was running against guys. [Back]

20] You know, that hopelessly posh faux-French place where Quinn used to insist all her dates took her? Just because I haven't set any scenes in the place yet doesn't mean I've forgotten it exists. [Back]

21] So you finally find out where she and Tom went in "None of Your Affair". Basically, anyway. [Back]

22] If you recall from "Mercedes Bends", Sandi's the reason that Daria wound up driving Lynn's Merc into a tree. [Back]

LEGAL BLATHER

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, AP McIntyre and Jerome Peregrine Smythe, 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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