(Montage teaser sequence. Music: Splendora -- "You're Standing On My Neck".

Lynn at her locker, converged upon by Stacy and the other cheerleaders [huddled into a protective knot formation] on one side and Brittany [dressed in a pink skirt and white T-shirt that looks like her cheerleading uniform but isn't] on the other.

Jane surrounded by a mid-sized group of children aged six through twelve, standing in front of the Lawndale Elementary School sign. She holds up a bag -- it is full of cans of spray-paint, a few tubes of Crazy Glue and several containers of glitter. The kids grin and reach into the bag.

Daria, Jane and Lynn walking down a Lawndale street, talking. They stop and turn as they hear a noise, and then a screaming AP staggers quickly past them, being dragged by a number of dogs -- a giant Rottweiler, a German Shepherd, a Great Dane, three Corgis, a Chihuahua and a pair of sickeningly cute Lhasa Apsos.

Jake on a used car lot, talking to a dealer. He pats a black 1982 two-door Toyota Tercel that looks like a good kick might reduce it to its component parts. Jake turns, grinning, to Daria, who is standing at a slight distance from the car, arms folded. She just shakes her head in something that's on the emotional scale between despair and disgust.

Daria and Jodie in a makeshift broadcast studio, talking into a mike. Visible through the soundproof glass behind them is Caldwell, looking strangely agitated. After a moment, his expression takes on a more worried look and he jogs out.

A deserted factory. Tiffany, dressed in white, peering blankly into a birdcage. Lying at the bottom is a dead bird. Upchuck approaches from behind her, his hair slicked back, dressed in black in best post-makeover tradition. He turns her around and they kiss deeply.

A men's room. O'Neill huddled into a ball on the floor, sobbing his pathetic little heart out. Four familiar pairs of boots walk into shot and stop in front of him. Pan up to the confused-looking Daria, Jane, Lynn and AP.

Daria and Lynn, side-by-side, looking at each other and giving the traditional Mona Lisa smile. Pan in and out to change to the TLAS logo. Writing in Daria font underneath reads...


(Scene: Pizza King. Angie, Lisa and some of the other cheerleaders are sitting at a table. Music: The Saints -- "The New Centre of the Universe". A serious meeting seems in progress.)

Angie: So that's it. How're we going to tell Brittany?

Vicki: Forget that; how're we gonna tell Stacy? I mean, she's been, like, better and everything, but, y'know...

Beth: I say we just tell her. She'll deal.

Lisa: But Britt's going to freak when she...

(Enter Stacy. The cheerleaders turn and look at her, and all talk abruptly ceases. Stacy stops in her tracks under the stare, looks at each solemn face in turn, and then approaches a lot more warily. She sits down on the edge of the last vacant chair.)

Stacy: Uh ... hi, guys! You ... wanted to talk to me?

Angie: Okay, Stacy, you know basketball season's coming up. We want something fresh -- a new start for the new year, or something.

Stacy: Well, if you need routines, I guess I can do some, run them past Brittany when she comes back from LA...

Beth: Don't be such a ditz, Stace. Don't you see what we're getting at?

Stacy: (tremulous) You're firing me, aren't you. I worked so hard...

Vicki: Oh, Stacy, get with it! Like, we're not firing you!

(Stacy blinks in utter confusion)

Stacy: Y-you're not?

Vicki: Like, hardly. It's not like that.

Angie: Stacy, we want you as captain of the squad.

(As the other cheerleaders look expectantly at Stacy, she looks at them like a deer caught in headlights.)

Stacy: But ... but Brittany...

Lisa: She's ... sort of old school.

Vicki: She's, like, so C20.

Beth: She's dumb as a brick.

Lisa: At first, I didn't like the new style, Stace; y'know, it was kinda ... I dunno, rude or something. But now ... it's cool, kinda.

Lisa: And we're going to have to replace Britt anyway when she graduates...

Beth: If she does at all...

Angie: So it's better to have someone younger. If she's good.

Vicki: Anyway, we, like, voted or whatever! Made it ooo ... younin...

Beth: (rolling her eyes) Unanimous.

Vicki: Yeah, that thing! So you gotta!

Stacy: (stunned) U...u...unanimous? (beat) Squad captain? (beat) Me?

Angie: Sure. You've got what it takes. So what do you say?

(Stacy's deer-in-headlights expression, worn throughout this exchange, somehow gets worse.)

Beth: I'll tell Brittany, if you want.


Lisa: Pleeeeeeeeeease?

(Stacy looks at them a moment longer, and then...)

Stacy: (meek) Okay.

(The cheerleaders give ear-splitting high-pitched whoops of joy.)

Beth: (waving imaginary pom-poms) We picked a new captain / And she's got class / So now we'll kick the airhead / Out on her...

Stacy: NO! (when everyone looks at her in near-shock) Brittany stays on the squad. I mean, even if we hated her...

Angie: I don't!

Beth: Hold her in contempt, yes, but...

Stacy: Cheerleading's all Brittany knows. And she is good at it.

Lisa: Plus some of those new formations won't look right with one less uniform.

Beth: You think she's going to want to stay when she hears about this?

Angie: You're telling her. You convince her. Anyway, let's drop it. This is a party for our new captain!

(More joyful cheering [or maybe squealing]. Stacy pastes a nervous smile on her face and pretends to be into things, looking around her uneasily.)

(Scene: Stacy's room. Music: The Superjesus -- "Now and Then". She barges in, picks up the phone, and then hesitates. Dials three numbers. Hangs up. Looks at the phone. Picks up the phone again, dials six numbers. Hangs up. Starts to hyperventilate. Gets herself under control. Picks up the phone again in a white-knuckle grip, dials seven numbers. She waits for pick-up, gets it, and pastes on a fake smile to make the cheerful voice easier.)

Stacy: Hi, Quinn?

(Split-screen on Quinn's room. Quinn's wearing her blue jeans and a grey jacket [think Daria in "Fizz Ed" and "Sappy Anniversary"]. Her hair's a bit of a wreck and she wears no makeup. Her bags are sitting at the foot of her bed, still packed. She's pretty obviously just got home from the AFH trip. Her voice is tired, and nearly monotonous.)

Quinn: Who else?

Stacy: (taken aback by the lack of perky) Uh ... it's Stacy.

Quinn: I know. Hi.

(There is an uncomfortable silence.)

Stacy: Uh ... um ... I guess your Christmas... (long beat as she waits for Quinn to jump in; when she doesn't) ...sucked?

Quinn: That's an understatement.

Stacy: You ... don't ... want to ... uh ... talk it about it, or something?

Quinn: No.

(Repeat uncomfortable silence until Stacy can't take it anymore and goes into old-school-Stacy panic mode.)

Stacy: I'm so sorry, Quinn, but I really need your advice. I mean, they made me captain of the cheerleading squad. I mean, me!

Quinn: Congratu...

Stacy: "Congratulations"? Quinn, I can't do this! I'm a follower! I mean, what were they thinking? You saw what I was like in the Fashion...

Quinn: Stacy, hello! There is no Fashion Club anymore.

Stacy: But...

Quinn: You found out that you could, like, do something different. And you do it well. They think you're a leader, or that you could be. So lead. Try.

Stacy: But...

Quinn: And it's not like you can't ask for help, anyway. I mean, the other cheerleaders...

Stacy: But, Quinn, I...

Quinn: Look, Stacy, I can't handle this. I had a ... Family emergency and I'm not over it yet. You're still my friend and everything, but this is just so petty compared to the rest of it...

(Silence. Then a single choked sob from Quinn. Stacy gets a panicked, remorseful look.)

Stacy: Oh ... Quinn ... Quinn, I'm so sorry...

Quinn: (unconvincing) Th-that's okay, Stacy. (beat in which she collects herself) Sorry I yelled at you and stuff.

Stacy: Oh, no, no, no, it's okay, no ... I ... (brittle false brightness) Hey, what are you wearing to school tomorrow? I mean, I don't have much wardrobe choice anymore and I guess the only way I can be fashionable is through you!

Quinn: I dunno. This, I guess.

Stacy: ...Uh ... Quinn ... I don't know what 'this' is; we're on...

Quinn: Look, I gotta go.

(Quinn hangs up. Back to single screen on Stacy, who looks at the handset in confusion, shock and something that's nearly horror. She hangs up and flops heavily on the bed, face up. After a moment, she seems to be fighting a smile. She winds up grinning openly.)

Stacy: Squad captain. Me!

(She grabs a teddy bear and hugs it tight, letting out a joyful squeak.)

(Scene: LHS corridor. Music: Pearl Jam -- "Go". Kevin [peeled out of his football uniform as he will be for the rest of this series -- now wearing a LHS varsity jacket and jeans] struts in with a beaming Brittany on his arm.)

Brittany: (continuing a conversation) ...And then she took me to Rodeo Drive and we went on a big shopping spree! (sly-ish smile) You'll see some of what I got later, Kevvie...

Kevin: That's cool, Babe! Uh ... it's not one of those things with all the catches, right? Cos I remember one time...

Brittany: Oh, Kevvie, don't worry; it's real easy...

(They stop at Brittany's locker, beside which Beth is standing. As Brittany spins the combination lock's dial and opens it, she shoots Kevin a meaningful look. Kevin completely fails to take the hint. Beth clears her throat, loudly -- still nothing.)

Beth: (irritated) Hey! QB!

Kevin: (turning to her with a grin) Hey, Babe!

Brittany: (suspicious) Why are you calling her 'Babe'?

Kevin: ('oops') Uh ... I ... I gotta go! Later, babes! (to Brittany's glare) Uh...

(Rather than strain himself any further, he dashes off. Brittany levels the glare at Beth, who gives a weary sigh.)

Beth: Relax, don't worry, I wouldn't take him from you.

Brittany: Thanks. You're a friend!

Beth: No, I just think the Misery Chick got the better end of the deal on that science project deal. The brains of the combination, anyway.

Brittany: (twirling a ponytail) Huh?

Beth: (sigh) Never mind. Look, the rest of the girls had a squad meeting while you were away...

Brittany: (interrupting) You guys had a talk and everything? Kept up while I was gone? That's great!

Beth: Well, it was for Stacy, at least. (to Brittany's blank stare and hair-twirl) Look ... (*sigh*) ...We're demoting you. Stacy's captain of the squad now.

Brittany: (blink) That's not funny, Bethie.

Beth: Don't call me that. And it wasn't meant to be funny. We thought since Stacy was coming up with all these new routines anyway... (Brittany's lower lip starts to tremble) Oh, hey, look, you're still on the squad and everything, just... (Brittany starts to cry) Oh God...

(Scene: O'Neill's classroom. Music plays on. Jane and AP are sitting at the back of the room, looking a bit tired, a bit pale, and not inclined to suffer fools gladly. Brittany's slumped over her desk, still weeping. Kevin is looking at her, confused and concerned. Enter O'Neill, who goes soppy and over-concerned as only he can.)

O'Neill: Brittany? You seem upset!

Vicki: (scorn) Duh!

(Brittany says something that turns out incomprehensible through her tears and the wood of the desk.)

O'Neill: Do you need to talk to someone? (cringe) It's not... (near-whisper) ...female issues ... is it?

Vicki: It's, like, a cheerleader thing. You just wouldn't get it.

O'Neill: Oh. I see. Uh. Maybe we can just move on to the lesson. Um. (ruffles through the papers on his desk.) Right! Today I thought I'd try us out on some genre-based modern fiction. (beat) You all know what I mean by genre? (silence) Jane? Can you tell us?

Jane: Yes.

(long pause)

O'Neill: Would you, please?

Jane: No.

(O'Neill looks confused and a little frightened.)

O'Neill: O...kay, since Jane's not ... feeling up to it right now... (sigh) A genre is a type of book or movie ... for example, (shudder) horror. I thought we'd work on a subject close to you, something to hold your interest, but not too, uh, icky. Uh ... who here has read R.L. Stine's "Cheerleaders" trilogy?

(Brittany lets out an ear-splitting wail. O'Neill jumps, eeps and runs out. To Jane and AP.)

Jane: And to think I thought only we were capable of doing that to him.

AP: Hey, guess average-to-poor English has ups! (beat) So now what?

Jane: I don't know about you, but I think that level of mascara leakage deserves pictoral documentation. (With that, she pulls out a sketch pad.) I haven't seen that much black ooze floating around since the Exxon Valdez spill.

(On Jane sketching, Brittany sobbing, cut to...)


Big Brother: Sleeping around and bitchery, rich house and poor house, voting people off via texting and an animal psychic telling the viewing public what the chickens think of the housemates. Behold the future of UK reality TV.

O2: Sponsors Big Brother. Most of the adverts involve people's phones giving off bubbles. I say they've got the wrong substance -- the whole thing's a load of marsh gas.

(Scene: LHS cafeteria. Brittany is sitting at a table with Jodie, still whimpering a little.)

Jodie: Look, try to see it from their point of view. It's not that you were a bad captain.

Brittany: So then why'd they fire me? Why'd they make her captain?

Jodie: Well, you're going to... (slight pause for thought) At least, I'm pretty sure you're going to graduate at the end of the year. They probably just wanted to make the transition at an easier time.

Brittany: I don't get it.

Jodie: Well...

(Enter Kevin, sitting down next to her.)

Kevin: Hey...

Brittany: Oh, Kevvie, they fired me! Jodie said it was something about my transmission!

Kevin: Gee, Babe, it's pretty harsh when they won't let you be a cheerleader anymore just cos your car's busted.

Jodie: (exasperated) They're still letting her be a cheerleader.

Brittany: But they said...

Jodie: You said they'd replaced you as captain. You also said ... somewhere in there ... that Beth told you that you were still on the squad. So you can still cheer -- you're just not the head cheerleader anymore.

Brittany: But...

Jodie: You can still date Kevin if you're not the head cheerleader. The 'rule' is football players with cheerleaders, not quarterback and head cheerleader specifically.

Kevin: Yeah, Babe! I mean, it's better and everything if the QB's going out with the head cheerleader, but it's not, like, a rule.

Brittany: Then ... then we don't have to break up?

Kevin: Aw, Babe...

Jodie: I'll leave you two lovebirds alone.

(She picks up her tray and walks off; as Kevin and Brittany start kissing, we hear her mutter...)

Jodie: (OS) Lovebirds, dodo birds, what's the difference?

(Montage sequence. LHS gymnasium. Music: Pop Will Eat Itself -- "Fatman". Cheerleader practice -- the girls [even Brittany] are in gym shorts and T-shirts. What follows is carnage of the highest order.

The cheerleaders are set up in an arrowhead formation, with Stacy now at point. Brittany, now at the far left end, looks a little nervous. When they start, she oversteps right on the third step and falls over onto Beth, who's about to start a high-kick with the others. Off-balance, she falls over and starts the whole left wing of the formation tumbling over. Stacy, who's the last to go, looks back at Brittany, who twirls her hair and tries an apologetic, hopeful smile. Stacy stifles a sigh, forces a smile in return and gets up.

They're now in line formation, and the routine seems to be going kick-step-turn-turn-step-repeat. It's all going well ... until we get to Brittany, again on the far left. She is totally out of time with everyone else -- still turning when they're moving into step-repeat -- and drawing some irritated glances.

The cheerleaders are now huddled together apart from Stacy and Brittany. Stacy is trying to show her the speed she should be going at -- Brittany's obviously trying hard but not quite managing to keep up. The cheerleaders, watching this, huddle tighter and whisper in a rather obvious way.

The arrow routine again. It's somewhat better -- at least Brittany hasn't knocked anyone over -- but she's too far forward and the routine looks off. She's also still out of synch, still accustomed to being the pace-setter.

The line formation again. The synchronisation problem persists.

Stacy and Brittany alone again, still working on the timing. The cheerleaders huddled again -- the whispering has become more emphatic and Brittany is noticing. This is throwing her timing off even more.

Human pyramid. Stacy at the top. Brittany near the bottom. She's obviously not used to supporting this much weight -- her arms are trembling and her smile is maintained with an effort. Eventually, the smile slips and so does she. She falls flat on her face, and the entire pyramid topples. Thankfully, they are on mats for practice, so when Stacy comes down, she doesn't hit hardwood floor, but her head hits the mats just a half-inch from it. The cheerleaders pick themselves up and readjust their uniforms, trying not to look at Brittany at all. Brittany, for her part, stays seated on the ground, her lower lip trembling. While the others are checking on Stacy, she slips out without talking to anyone.

(Scene: LHS corridor. Music: Alice in Chains -- "Put You Down". Brittany at her locker, packing her over-cute bunny bag. Kevin comes up behind her, grinning.)

Kevin: Hey, Babe! How was practice?

Brittany: Terrible! I'm just not used to following people and I'm messing everything up and when we went to do the pyramid I ... oh Kevvie...

(She starts crying. Kevin doesn't entirely know what to do.)

Kevin: Uh ... Babe?

Brittany: I can't be a cheerleader anymore! They're better without me! Just because I'm a not-follower I can't even be part of the team!

Kevin: Oh, come on, Babe! It's not that bad! I mean, I wasn't all that great at basketball either when I first started but...

Brittany: But you changed sports! Kevvie, the human pyramid fell over! Stacy could've got hurt because of me! They were already talking about me, and now they're going to fire me for sure! Kevvie, what am I gonna do?

Kevin: Gee, Babe, it's not like you to give up and stuff. Maybe...

Brittany: I mean, you'd still love me if I wasn't a cheerleader, right? I mean, rules don't mean anything if people really care, right?

Kevin: Well ... Babe, I mean ... come on! I'm the QB!

Brittany: But it's basketball season!

Kevin: Yeah, but I'm still the QB! And I'm on the basketball team and I kinda have to...

Brittany: You'd really dump me just because I'm not a cheerleader anymore?

Kevin: I wouldn't want to, Babe, but rules are rules... Right?

(Enter Stacy.)

Stacy: Hey, Brittany, are you okay? You kind of left practice without...

Brittany: Of course I left practice! I can't follow you; I was awful! And then I made the pyramid fall over and you could've been hurt!

Stacy: But Brittany, I'm okay, and we can work on...

Brittany: No we can't! I don't want to be a cheerfollower; I'm a cheerleader! I mess up the routine, I knock over pyramids and the only reason my boyfriend wants me to stay on the squad is because he can't get me in the backseat if I'm not one! And his backseat isn't worth being hoo ... hue ... embarrassed!

Stacy: Brittany, come on; we can...

Brittany: You can give me my spot back!

Stacy: I ... I would if I could, but... (Suddenly, Stacy's face goes hard.) No, I guess I wouldn't, even if the other girls would be okay with it -- which they're not! Brittany, I like this job, and I'm good at it, and I can work with you for as long as we need and maybe work something out about the head cheerleader being at the front but I'm not giving up!

Brittany: Fine! Then I quit! (to Kevin) You can find someone else to wear those silly lace teddies! (turning on Stacy) And you can find someone else to do your icky old cheers!

(She throws her pom-poms into Stacy's face and stalks away. Stacy picks the pom-poms up off the floor, looking really worried, and then Kevin leans up towards her.)

Kevin: So ... Babe ... whatcha doin' tonight?

(Off Stacy's "he has to be kidding" look...)

(Scene: Pizza King. Music: Elastica -- "Human". The cheerleaders are sitting at a table, poking at cheeseless pizza and looking as thoughtful as a cheerleader can.)

Stacy: ...And then she threw her pom-poms at me and walked out!

Vicki: She didn't even, like, shower first? Ewww...

Stacy: If that wasn't weird enough, then Kevin tried to hit on me! And that was right after Brittany dumped him.

Angie: What a creep!

Lisa: Well, he is sorta popular and stuff. He, like, needs a cheerleader. You gonna say yes?

Stacy: Look, I don't even want to think about Kevin right now. What do we do about Brittany?

Beth: Say 'good riddance' and let her walk?

Vicki: You know we can't do that, Beth. We, like, need her.

Beth: No we don't. We just need to find a replacement.

Angie: But who are we going to get who knows all our moves and is athletic...

Lisa: And looks good in the uniform cos God knows we have a, like, reputation and stuff...

(And it's Stacy who sees what Beth's getting at.)

Stacy: The same person we got to do it the last time Brittany couldn't...

(Heads turn towards the booth in the back where Daria, Jane, Lynn and AP are seated. Cut to where they're sitting.)

Jane: So anyone know what's up with the pom-pom zombies? Brittany's been leaking mascara all over school.

Lynn: Sounds like trouble in the "ignorance is bliss" camp.

Daria: One of their number mentioned that Brittany got ousted from the top spot.

AP: Waitaminit. Erudite Emerald, you're all about advanced classes. When'd *you* talk to a cheerleader?

Lynn: We talked to Beth. She's in advanced English with us.

Jane: There's a cheerleader in a class you might actually learn something in. (beat) Why does that strike me as not right?

AP: More like, what're they doing getting a new head cheerleader?

Lynn: We heard something about them wanting to trade in their old head for a new one. One with brains in it.

Jane: Well, this could get interesting. I mean, Brittany isn't exactly great at taking orders.

Daria: And you speak from experience, don't you.

Jane: Please don't remind me. Every time someone does, I have to restart the "Pain and Pom-Poms" series. (beat) Hmm. A few sketches I did this morning could be the start of "Boiling Pitch in the Eyes".

Lynn: I really regret loaning you those books. That's nasty even for me.

AP: Ten bucks says she doesn't last the week.

Jane: Not interested.

Lynn: I'll take it. I bet she's already had enough.

Daria: You're not serious. Cheerleading's all Brittany knows. She'll stick it for the long haul.

Jane: You know, we're betting on some poor girl's downfall here. Isn't that kind of cruel and mercenary? (She gets looks.) Well, someone had to get it out of the way. And since I'm the only one not in on it, I don't look like a hypocrite.

Daria: And with the moral centres of us all appealed to...?

Lynn: Game on.


Airwaves: Indiana Jones-style advert where chewing this gum that practically sodomises one's nasal passages gives this man the ability to throw off a rather large boa constrictor. Does anyone else despair at the lack of subtlety on TV today?

Next on TLAS: After AFH, one question that needs answering is whether Mystik Spiral died with Jesse. And the answers are given in "And the B.A.N.D. Played On".

(Scene: LHS corridor. Music: Therapy? -- "Brainsaw". The cheerleaders are huddled together for solidarity. Stacy looks nearly green with nervousness.)

Stacy: I don't know, you guys. Couldn't someone *else* do this?

Angie: Look, Stacy, you're head cheerleader! You've, like, gotta lead and stuff!

Stacy: But she scares me!

Vicki: Yeah, no kidding! I mean, there are rumours about her, or whatever. But she's, like, what we need...

Beth: Don't worry about it, Stacy. We're all with you. Solidarity rocks.

Vicki: Soli-what?

Beth: Never mind. Let's just do it before Stacy starts hyperventilating. Her passing out on the floor is going to do nothing for our case.

(And the cheerleaders move, in their protective little knot, down the corridor to...)

(Scene: Lynn's locker. Music plays on. Lynn's unpacking her book bag into it. The cheerleaders approach; she turns to face them as they do. She takes them in -- their pristine uniforms, their nervousness, and the fact that Lisa is carrying a set of pom-poms and a shopping bag. She raises an eyebrow and that's all it takes to freeze the cheerleaders some ten feet away from her. There is some whispering from the cheerleaders and they shove Stacy forward. A short pause as the two face off.)

Lynn: Well?

Stacy: Well ... I ... (squeak)...

(The other cheerleaders look a little panicked. Lynn just keeps looking at Stacy. Angie and Maddie reach forward and pull Stacy back as Beth steps forward.)

Beth: What she's trying to say is...

Lynn: Before you say anything. No.

Beth: But you don't even know what I'm gonna...

Lynn: Stacy's about to faint, so it's obvious she's trying to tell me something she knows I won't like very much. You -- the cheerleaders -- have come with her, for obvious solidarity. Lisa is carrying pom-poms and a shopping bag that's bulging in a suspiciously uniform way. You've seen me in English class, Beth, so don't underestimate my intelligence. And it's no.

Stacy: (before she thinks) But we need you! Brittany quit yesterday and...

Lynn: Really? (smirk) Hmm. I'm twenty bucks to the good.

Stacy: What?

Lynn: Before you ask, we had nothing to do with it. We heard about the problems with the squad and just made a little wager on the outcome. I called the "already quit" block, so...

Beth: You're a cruel and ruthless little person, you know that?

Lynn: And?

Stacy: Come on, Lynn, please!

(She looks at the desperation on the faces of the cheerleaders ... and then an indignant squeak is heard from off screen. Up rushes Brittany, who is wearing a white T-shirt and short pink skirt -- almost identical to her cheerleading uniform bar the colours.)

Brittany: You're going to ask her to be a cheerleader? It's not fair! She's not even popular! She doesn't have any bouncity-bounce!

Lynn: (quick flick of the eyes to Brittany's chest) Not as much as you do, admittedly...

Stacy: Look, Brittany, you decided to quit and...

Brittany: I only quit because you took over my place, you ... you ... you back-stabbing person! And you only did that because she started all those weird icky routines! I bet she had this planned all along!

Stacy: That's silly, Brittany -- I mean, what would she get out of it?

Brittany: She'd get to be popular, and date someone who's not that skinny little AP guy, and ... and ... why are you here again, Bethie?

Beth: Don't call me that, and it looks good on college applications.

Brittany: See? She has lots of reasons to want me off the squad so she can take my place! I don't believe you're letting her do this! She's twisting you around her middle finger!

Angie: That's "little finger"...

Beth: Not for Lynn, it's not.

Stacy: So if she wants your spot on the squad so badly, Brittany, why'd she keep saying no to us today when we asked her ... and why isn't she here?

(Brittany turns around and her indignation turns to confusion as she realises that Lynn's taken the opportunity to duck the whole thing and walked away while the others were distracted. Enter Kevin, who looks at Brittany a little nervously.)

Kevin: Hey, ex-Babe! (to Stacy) Hey, Babe! Did you get my note?

Stacy: Get lost, Kevin.

(Exit the cheerleaders, leaving Kevin alone with a glaring Brittany.)

Kevin: Uh ... I ... I gotta go!

(Exit Kevin, leaving Brittany alone and looking very lost.)

(Scene: LHS cafeteria. Music: Skunk Anansie -- "All in the Name of Pity". The cheerleaders are watching the "brain table", which consists of Daria, Jane, Lynn, AP, Jodie and Mack. Lynn is trying to hide herself from the cheerleaders by sitting between Mack and AP. The rest of the table look at her.)

Mack: So Brittany's off the squad, huh? (beat; to the looks) Kevin's been asking how to get a cheerleader who's almost a brain.

Jodie: Beth?

Mack: Stacy.

Daria: "Almost a brain"?

Mack: This is Kevin. To him, spore mould is almost a brain.

Jodie: (to Lynn) And you're hiding because...

Lynn: The cheerleaders want me to take Brittany's place. And Brittany would like me to take a place under six feet of earth for orchestrating her downfall from the squad.

Jane: She thinks you were responsible?

Jodie: Brittany gets these ... ideas.

Daria: Thankfully, her short attention span means she doesn't hold onto them for very long. (beat) You weren't considering...

Lynn: (dry) Yes. Of course I was considering throwing away my relative freedom from the general drudgery of school so that I can get cheerleading on my college application, get popular and get a boyfriend who can bench-press 220 but can't count that far.

AP: You are kidding, right? (to the look) Well, it's hard to tell with you!

Jodie: Well, I can think of a way to get Brittany off your back, if you want.

Lynn: That'd be a help, thanks. But what about the rest of the squad?

Daria: ("eureka" look) Leave that to me.

(She gets odd looks from all quarters.)

(Scene: Andrew Landon's office. Music: Pitchshifter -- "As Seen On TV". Phone rings. Andrew picks up.)

Andrew: Andrew Landon.

Jodie: (OS from phone) Dad? It's Jodie.

(Split-screen between Andrew in his office and Jodie at a school payphone.)

Andrew: Jodie? What are you doing calling me at this hour?

Jodie: I have a study hall. Look, Dad, I need you to talk to Brittany's father.

Andrew: Oh, not that smug idiot! What do you want me to talk to him for?

Jodie: I need you to call in a favour from him. He's probably done you a few, right?

(Pause as Andrew comes over all sheepish.)

Andrew: What kind of favour, Jodie?

Jodie: It's not for me. It's for Brittany. And he should be happy enough to do it...

(Scene: Taylor living room. Music plays on. Brittany is sitting on the sofa, looking miserable. Enter Steve, a little sympathetic smile on his face.)

Steve: Hey, Princess! How's school?

Brittany: Terrible! They made Stacy captain of the cheerleading squad and then I had to quit the squad because I couldn't follow...

Steve: Of course you couldn't! You're a Taylor! And we Taylors are no followers!

Brittany: Oh, Daddy, what am I going to do?

(Steve sits down beside her and puts an arm around her shoulders.)

Steve: Listen, Brittany. You know what? This is the best thing that could've happened to you.

Brittany: What are you talking about, Daddy? Cheerleading's, like, all I know how to do! I mean, I won't be popular anymore and...

Steve: Nonsense! What TV star isn't popular?

Brittany: T...TV star?

Steve: Sure! Well, how about Babe of the Billboards, at least?

Brittany: Daddy, I don't get it.

Steve: Well, honey, we just started shooting for a series of sunblock ads. TV slots, billboards, magazine spreads ... and we need a new spokesmodel anyway. Someone who represents the perfect "happy teen" image. As soon as they said that, I thought of you, but you were so busy with cheerleading, I couldn't ask you to take the time. But since you're off the squad now...

Brittany: You mean it, Daddy?

Steve: Would this face lie to you, doll?

Brittany: Oh, Daddy, you're the best!

(She hugs him. His smile, while she's not looking, becomes somewhat rueful.)

(Scene: Quinn's room. Music: Ash -- "Kung Fu". Quinn's practicing Tae Kwon Do forms, partially from memory but with a little help from a book lying open on her bed. There's a knock on the door.)

Quinn: Come in!

(Enter Daria, who watches for a moment as Quinn finishes the form she's working on.)

Daria: Nice. (beat) You stay in practice?

Quinn: Sure! I mean, when I do all this stuff, I can eat anything I want! And when I go shopping, I can go all day without getting tired and carry my own bags!

Daria: (dry) The true benefits of regular exercise revealed. (beat) But in your room?

Quinn: Well, yeah! Think what it'd do to my reputation if people knew I was a ... a ... martial arts geek, or whatever!

Daria: There are ways of getting regular exercise and preserving your popularity. Even increase it.

Quinn: Daria, what are you talking about? Exercise is so ... so ... sweaty and geeky and gross!

Daria: Tell that to the cheerleading squad.

Quinn: Oh, cheerleading. Primary colours during daylight hours and wearing the same outfit as everyone else? Ew!

Daria: What happened to, "the right clothes for the right occasion"?

Quinn: Yeah, but...

Daria: And imagine being able to exercise as much as you want -- and show off almost everything you can do -- without being branded a "martial arts geek".

Quinn: (weakening) Yeah, but...

Daria: And imagine your dating status skyrocket as every guy in Lawndale realises that you're not only pretty and popular but fit and perky. Don't guys fall all over themselves for a bright smile and a well-shaped set of legs?

Quinn: (just on the edge) My legs do look even better now ... and those little skirts really show them off...

Daria: And you'll see a lot more of Stacy. You and she were actually pretty close before the Fashion Club disbanded, right?

Quinn: (musing) We-ell... (suspicious) What do you get out of this?

Daria: Me? Nothing.

Quinn: That can't be right. You don't do anything nice for me if it's not gonna help you somehow...

(There is a pause as Daria just looks at Quinn. Quinn gives up.)

Quinn: Anyway, I'll never get the routines in time! They won't have time to teach me and the first basketball game's next week!

Daria: I think I can arrange a personal tutor for you. Just be at the gym at five o'clock tomorrow if you're interested.

(With that, Daria leaves. Quinn looks after her, then at the pom-poms that still adorn her wall.)

(Scene: LHS gym. Music: Offspring -- "Smash". Quinn, dressed in her workout gear of bra top and track suit bottoms, walks into the gym, standing in the middle of the floor as she looks around a little. In her hand are the pom-poms on her wall.)

Quinn: Hello...?

Lynn: (OS) I should've guessed.

(Quinn turns towards the bleachers. Lynn, in T-shirt, track suit bottoms and "I'm about to exercise" braids, is seated there, watching her.)

Quinn: What're you doing here? I mean, I'm here to learn cheerleading stuff! (beat) Omigod ... I am here to learn cheerleading stuff, right?

Lynn: Damn straight you are.

Quinn: But why you?

(Lynn stands and moves down the bleachers towards Quinn as she speaks.)

Lynn: Because it's either you or me. I don't really want it to be the latter.

Quinn: You mean they want you? To be a CHEERLEADER?

Lynn: (bland) Badly. Which is why I want to make you better than I am. You up for that?

Quinn: Well, why didn't you just teach Brittany?

(Dead silence.)

Lynn: I'm offering you an exponential increase in popularity on a plate. Are you going to keep arguing with me, or are you going to take it?

(Off Quinn's look, fade to...)

(Scene: LHS gym, a few weeks later. Music plays on. It's crowded with fans waving Lawndale pennants. The squeak of sneakers and the repetitive *thump* of a basketball on hardwood flooring can be heard. We focus on Daria, Jane, Lynn, AP and Jodie.)

Jodie: I know why I'm here; to support Mack. What are you guys doing here again?

(Daria points. Cut to the cheerleaders -- Quinn, her hair in a ponytail, is among them, in uniform and not looking overly displeased about it. A whistle sounds; Stacy makes a gesture, and...)

Cheerleaders: We've got a rope! / We've got a tree! / Now all we need / Is a referee! Goooooo JUMP!

(Back to the gang in the bleachers. Jodie looks at Daria.)

Jodie: That was your idea of how to get Lynn out of the line of fire?

Daria: Yep.

Jodie: And who taught her the routines? (looks at Lynn, who shrugs) You spent a whole week with Quinn teaching her cheerleading moves?

Lynn: It was the lesser of two evils.

Jodie: Not for you, though, Daria.

Daria: Excuse me?

Jodie: You do realise that cheerleading practice will happen at your house sometimes, right?

(We fade out on Daria's very worried look.)



My first duty here is to tip the auctorial chapeau to all those who have done this sort of storyline before me -- most notably Kara Wild, who made Quinn a cheerleader a bit more inpermanently than I intend to. Having the idea of Brittany losing her cheerleading spot and Quinn joining the squad to play with was a bit of a godsend. So thanks, Ms Wild.

The next person to get the nod is Caira, who gave me some help with a few lines and with the music ... after I got his nose out of Strangers in Paradise, at least. Also as one of the best beta-readers I've ever had -- his facial expression and the lines he quoted in pure admiration helped me keep on track.

And of course, Ben, who helped out immensely by producing something that reduces the coding time for these fics sixty-fold, and for being there when I first started coming up with the ideas for season 5. It's taken a slightly new direction, but it never would have started without him or Leopard_Lady so they really deserve this credit.


Aside from the basics [reffing, for example, Stacy's fashion club defection in "Love Him or Leave Him", her joining the cheerleaders and Lynn's own experiences with the cheerleading squad in "Misshapen Identity" and "Banded for Life"], a couple of points.

Beth -- The curly-haired cheerleader we see slapping Upchuck in the Daria Database. For attitude, think Cordelia from "Buffy the Vampire Slayer". And, as Caira points out, some actual intelligence.

"That science project deal" -- Caira didn't understand it without having it explained, so here it is for you all. I ref "The Lab Brat".

Basketball -- Unlike the show, I kind of figured I'd go for a more realistic high school experience. Which means that there are different seasons for different sports. Football season would be over now, so basketball season it is. S6 will involve baseball. Kevin plays basketball relatively well, as seen in "Gym Dandy" and I figure Mack's tri-sport [football, basketball, baseball].

"We've got a rope!..." -- This one's for Guy Payne. He suggested it way back when I did "Banded for Life" and I was glad to find a place to use it.


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, Mara Fitzgerald, and any other character you don't recognise from any ep, on the other hand, were created and are owned by me, one Janet 'Canadibrit' Neilson, copyright 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002. Touch my characters without consulting me and it will go hard with you. All cameos used with permission, though by this point they're more characters in their own rights. 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.