(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: Jane's room. Music: Muse -- "Plug In Baby". Jane is standing at her easel, a blank canvas before her. Photographs are spread out all around her on every available surface. She's frowning at the blank canvas, a dripping paintbrush in her hand. From time to time, she looks at the pictures, makes a move towards the canvas with the paintbrush, and then shakes her head. Then she leaves the room.)

(Scene: Trent's room. Music plays on. Trent's sprawled out on his bed in his boxers, fast asleep.)

Jane: (OS) Hey, Trent? Opinion poll -- where do...?

(She barges in, sees Trent asleep, sighs and barges out again.)

(Scene: LHS cafeteria. Music plays on. Jane and Lynn are picking at rectangular slabs of umpizza [ingredients -- cardboard base, ketchup sauce and cheese substitute topping].)

Lynn: Did you do the thing yet?

Jane: What thing?

Lynn: You know -- the thing. (slight exasperation at Jane's continuing blank look) Remember, remember, the fifth of November ... then remember the event three months after.

Jane: Oh, the thing!

Lynn: Yes, that thing. So did you do the thing?

Jane: (sheepish) No. (to Lynn's accusing glare) Hey, I'm looking for a place to do the thing!

Lynn: Go out those doors, hang left, second door on the right.

Jane: But why would I want to do it in the girl's bathr... (beat) Wait. I just used a really oblique slang term, didn't I?

Lynn: With amusing accuracy. I think you meant you need a setting for the thing.

Jane: Well, it's more like I need to pick just one. I wish my muse would just settle on one lousy locale.

(AP approaches; his tray holds a slab of the umpizza as well as a container of applesauce, a side of string beans and a tuna salad sandwich.)

AP: (sitting down next to Lynn) What, like diet soda? Thought that was more Narcissa's thing.

(Jane and Lynn look at him oddly; he gives a sheepish shrug and starts spooning the applesauce on top of his pizza. Neither Jane nor Lynn can bear to watch.)

Lynn: You may not have to settle. Have you considered collage?

Jane: (snide) Thought cut and paste was more Maverick's thing.

(AP grins a little and opens up the tuna salad sandwich, scooping out the filling and putting it on top of the pizza slab.)

Lynn: At least think about it. It does mean you wouldn't have to limit yourself.

(Daria approaches from behind Jane.)

Daria: Limit yourself to what?

(Daria sits down as Jane and Lynn exchange shifty looks while AP busies himself sprinkling his string beans on top of his improvised APizza.)

Jane: (a little too fast) Random art project. No details -- if I try putting the concept in words, I could lose it. (looking at AP) Tell me you're not going to eat that thing.

(In response, AP takes a bite out of his pizza slab and chews happily. The distraction works -- Daria and Jane both watch him with morbid fascination.)

(Scene: Jane's room. Music: SAUB -- "Memories in Richter". Jane's perched on her bed, sketching madly. All around her are loose pieces of paper. She pauses over her sketch, frowning at it, when Trent pokes his head around the door.)

Trent: Coffee?

Jane: (groan) I could use it. Maybe it'll wake my muse the hell up.

(Trent raises an eyebrow at her as she chucks the sketchpad across the bed and gets up. He steps towards the bed and looks at the nearest sketch to him -- it's a sketch of Daria in her band uniform.)

Trent: What's this?

Jane: It's a part of Daria's birthday present. It's kind of a retrospective of the last year.

(Trent looks at the rest of the sketches. They are all of Daria -- in the "Job Lots" cocktail dress, kicking Upchuck in the groin; in the Reno outfit, doing her can-can number; in her "Bare Acquaintances" costume; holding up Sandi's T-shirt as Sandi herself passes by in the bumblebee sweater from "Misshapen Identity"... Then he looks at Jane.)

Trent: Daria's birthday?

Jane: In three days. Haven't memorised her vital statistics in full yet, have you, boy?

Trent: Uh ... not to the day. Thought it was Wednesday, s'all.

Jane: Nope. Monday, and if I don't get some coffee soon, this thing's never going to be ready in time. (beat) Good thing you're better prepared than I am, huh?

(Jane doesn't wait for a reply -- just rubs her eyes as she turns and walks out. Trent takes a last look at the sketches and runs his hands through his hair, looking classically frustrated.)

(Scene: Lynn's room. Music: Moby -- "Sunday [The Day Before My Birthday]". Daria's sprawled out on the bed, leafing through a maths textbook. Lynn's at her desk, bashing away at her keyboard. Every so often, she hits the "Alt-Tab" combination. After the third time Lynn does this, Daria looks up at her.)

Daria: How many windows this time?

Lynn: (glance down at her taskbar) Econ paper, Reformed's new website, playlist for next weekend's gig at the Zen, online shopping, and IRC. (beat) Speaking of the Econ paper, what'd you pick?

Daria: The greeting card industry. With particular focus on how the changing statistics on interpersonal relationships have affected the market.

Lynn: Yeah, multiple divorces play hell with relative-specific birthday cards.

Daria: I put forward the opinion that, rather than spend capital on specificity, the greeting card industry would start churning out a more general product. Maybe even give more preference to the "blank for your message" style. Until the American public's quest for convenience and its TV-reduced creativity conspires to either force the specific cards or destroy the entire industry.

Lynn: Hmm. (beat) By the way, speak now or forever hold your peace.

Daria: Excuse me?

Lynn: Your birthday. You know, online shopping reminded me of your present. And since I'm talking to AP...

Daria: If you're planning a party, I'm unplugging that thing.

Lynn: (typing as she speaks) "Party verboten". Gotcha.

Daria: Lynn, he can barely speak English. How do you expect him to deal with German?

Lynn: He's online. He can go on Babelfish. That's assuming he recognises that it is a foreign language. (beat) Does lack of desire for a party mean you have ... other plans?

Daria: No, but I'm sure Mom and Dad will want to drag me out for dinner and make a massive deal of the fact that I've finally reached voting age.

Lynn: Nothing with Trent?

Daria: I'm not exactly advertising the birthday thing to him. (to Lynn's look) You didn't have to tell AP when your birthday was.

Lynn: Of course I didn't have to. My birth date is a national holiday -- fine, not for this nation, but it does invoke an anarchist, which is too fitting to forget. He's also been a witness to ever birthday I've had since I turned seven. Not to mention he has a memory. With Trent ... he tends to need a little nudge.

Daria: Look, I don't want him to feel obligated to do anything.

Lynn: Daria, he's already obligated; he is your boyfriend. (beat) Ah, what am I worried about? Jane'll have clued him in days ago so he's probably got something up his sleeve.

Daria: You don't really think he's going to do anything about my birthday ... do you?

Lynn: I bet he's putting the finishing touches on it even as we speak.

(Off Daria's look that's a halfway point between hope and fear...)

(Scene: McGrundy's. Music: Stereophonics -- "Watch Them Fly Sundays". Trent is sitting across from Nick. Bottles of beer sit before them.)

Nick: Man, you are clueless.

Trent: Shut up, Nick. She plays this stuff real close, y'know?

Nick: And you didn't pay any attention when Jane was setting up for her birthday last year?

Trent: I'd just got my wrist broken; we had a new singer and manager ... damn, man, I just didn't have time.

Nick: Didn't have the attention span, you mean. Man, you let this go by, your relationship is gone.

Trent: No way -- Daria's not like that.

Nick: Trent, every girl's like that. They may not admit it, but each and every one of them will give you frostbite for ages if you don't at least make the effort. Only difference with Daria is that she'll do it longer ... and she'll do it better. That one could freeze you solid with just a look!

Trent: (groan) What'm I gonna do, Nick?

Nick: C'mon, you've shopped for presents before.

Trent: I never shopped for a girl before, except for Janey. And I needed Daria's help for that. And even then I didn't get her anything.

Nick: What about Monique?

Trent: All Monique ever wanted was a new piercing or tattoo. I just set up an account for her at Axl's.

Nick: (groooooooooooan) Man, you must know this chick, right? I mean, come on, you've known her for, what, two years, nearly three? And you're telling me you know squat about her?

Trent: I know she reads. But I don't know what she has. And I know she likes to write, but maybe she's the type who types a diary instead of writing one, so maybe a journal isn't a good idea. She's not really into clothes or jewellery and I'm not sure enough about the music she listens to.

Nick: So why didn't you ask Jane or Lynn to help you out? Hell, even the punk might know.

Trent: And I really wanted to admit to Daria's best friends that I did jack for her birthday.

Nick: You are such a pussy, man. (beat) Look, just think of the one thing you could do for her that she'd appreciate more than anything.

(Trent thinks for a moment, and then the look on her face says "Eureka". He gets up and heads for the door.)

Trent: Thanks man. I needed that. I'll catch up with you later.

Nick: Hey, don't do anything I wouldn't, man! (beat) And this time, go protected, huh?

(Trent turns around and glares at him before shooting out the door at something approaching warp speed.)


Domestos -- Alex, the hygiene-obsessed model from "Big Brother" who got really freaked at people peeing in the showers, is now the face of cleaning fluid. Why can't these people fade into obscurity?

Alive -- Soft drink. Two freaky-looking guys delivering insults to the target market. Is that a truly wise way of selling a product?

(Scene: Daria's room. Completely recreate our first view of Daria in "The Musical" -- her head poking out from under the blankets and her bleary look out at the world. And, as in "The Musical", she begins a monotone sing-song.)

Daria: o/` Oh me oh my, I guess today's my birthday
I'm now eighteen -- an adult, so it's said.
But before you say that things are going my way
Recall it's one year closer to my being dead. o/`
Oh, hell.

(With that, she pulls the blankets over her head.)

(Scene: Morgendorffer kitchen. Music: Weezer -- "Keep Fishin". Helen is rooting in the fridge. Jake's behind the paper. Quinn's in her cheerleading uniform, munching on a piece of toast. Enter Daria; Helen turns and smiles at her.)

Helen: Good morning, sweetie! Happy birthday!

Jake: (lowering the paper) Hey, yeah! How does it feel to be eighteen, kiddo?

Daria: It feels too old to be responding to juvenile nicknames like "sweetie" or "kiddo".

Helen: Think about where you want to go for dinner tonight -- anyplace you want.

Daria: I do know of one great little Chinese place I've always wanted to try.

Helen: Oh really? Where's that?

Daria: Beijing.

Helen: (weak laugh) There's a package for you -- it's on the table. You can open your presents from us tonight at dinner. And maybe think of somewhere in the area?

Quinn: But not Chez Pierre, okay, because ... well, not that I don't think you're allowed to go to places I go but the waiters might not really go for the whole "boots" thing -- there's kind of a dress code. Unless of course you wanted to get all dressed up and stuff, which would be great and maybe I could even help you with your makeup, kind of like an extra bit of birthday present!

Daria: Thanks, Quinn, but I'd rather not be forced into specific behavioral codes on what everyone claims is my special day.

(She steps over to the table and picks up the package on the table -- it was Fed-Exed.)

Jake: Aren't you gonna open it?

Daria: (looks at the clock) I'll take it with me -- open it in study hall.

Helen: Oh, come on, Daria -- I'm a little curious about what's in it myself.

Daria: No time. I'd rather not be late today -- it's the first time I'd be held completely accountable.

(Exit Daria. Helen and Jake look at each other.)

Helen: She could have at least been curious about her presents. At least about what we got her. She never even asked!

Quinn: Well, she probably was curious! But come on, Mom, she knew you guys wanted to surprise her and if she started really asking, you'd never have kept it secret! Now, I got Stacy to cancel cheerleading practice for today so I'll be home on time but we have to get back from dinner kinda early 'cos I've got an English paper I want to get done early -- like I have time to worry about late homework.

(Quinn drops the remnants of her toast and exits. Helen and Jake exchange another look, this one incredulous.)

(Scene: LHS street. Music: Spineshank -- "The Height of Callousness". Quinn's walking to school, far behind Daria, who we see as a vague green dot in the distance. Daira's green blot approaches a large dark blot -- a van or a pickup, we can't tell at this distance. Another humanoid blot opens the door to the back, grabs the Daria-blot and pulls her into the back of the van. Cut to Quinn -- we see her eyes go wide and scared. She breaks into a sprint towards the dark vehicular blot on the landscape but it pulls out and speeds away. Quinn, looking like she's kicking herself hard for letting it get away, keeps on running.)

(Scene: the back of the van. Music plays on. Daria is lying on her back, staring at the ceiling.)

Daria: The manhandling really wasn't necessary, you know. (beat) You picked one hell of a day for this -- my first day of responsible adulthood and I'm not even responsible for where I take myself. (beat) It might be nice to know even approximately where we're going. (beat; holds up the Fed-Ex package) Mind if I open this? (beat) I'll take that as a 'no'.

(She opens the Fed-Ex envelope, empties it onto her chest. Out fall a number of cards and another, smaller parcel, wrapped in leftover Christmas wrapping paper. She picks up the cards first, opening each one and looking inside.)

Daria: One from Warlock. One from Pagebert. One from Leopard -- classically hentai. One from Aph. One from Lorna. And one from Kes. Well. Obviously the big-F family gives something of a damn. (beat; holding up the parcel) Though obviously not enough to go shopping for wrapping paper.

(She waits for an answer. One is not forthcoming. Then she opens the parcel.)

Daria: A Palm Pilot. Just call me 21st Century Digital Girl. (beat) Could I at least sit in the front seat?

Trent: (OS) No, cos then you'd see where we're going. Now can I just drive, Daria?

Daria: No. If you're going to kidnap me, you'll just have to put up with the backseat bitching.

(Silence bar a slightly rueful sigh from Trent in the front seat. Daria settles back and reads through her birthday cards again.)

(Scene: LHS corridor. Music: Deftones -- "Fireal". Jane, Lynn, AP, Jodie and Mack are gathered in front of Daria's locker, which has been decorated with green balloons and green and orange crepe paper streamers. They look a little bit impatient.)

Jane: She's not going to have time to open anything before homeroom.

Lynn: So she opens them at lunch.

Jodie: She's not even going to have time to get to homeroom.

AP: Good for her! I never saw the point of homeroom anyway.

Mack: I guess it's silly to worry, but ... she's usually so punctual.

Jane: It's her birthday. She's allowed a vice. Hell, I'm going to take my own personal senior cut day when I turn eighteen.

Jodie: Oh, Jane, you can't do that.

Lynn: Yeah, shame on you, Jane. Where is your head?

Jane: Well, pardon me, Ms Morality.

Lynn: Morality has nothing to do with it. You want to take that cut day the day after your birthday. To recover from the celebrating.

Jane: Hmm. You make a point. But that's more of a sick day than a cut day.

(Jodie and Mack, the token straight-edgers, almost smile at that. And then Quinn runs towards them, her cheerleading uniform soaked with sweat. She bends over, almost crouching, and tries to catch her breath.)

Jodie: Quinn, are you okay? What's wrong?

Quinn: (gasping each word) Daria ... gone ... grabbed ... guy in a van...

(Off the panicked looks of the assembled friends...)

(Scene: a rural area. Music: Tonic -- "Jump Jimmy [Stronger than Mine]". The A-Tank rolls into shot and parks on the side of the road. Trent steps out of the driver's side and moves to the side of the A-Tank, opening the side door and letting Daria out. She steps out and looks around her, a little confused.)

Daria: Well. This looks like ... every other rural area I've ever driven through.

Trent: There's a cornfield over that way.

(He points off into the distance, and Daria gets it.)

Daria: Ah. I thought that oil spot looked familiar.

Trent: You going to ask why I brought you here?

Daria: At a guess, I'd say the memory factor. You're trying to be romantic.

Trent: How'm I doing?

Daria: I'm not particularly experienced in those matters, but from everything I've heard and read, I'd say you're doing reasonably well.

Trent: Well ... maybe I can take it up a level with this.

(He goes to the A-Tank and drags out a picnic hamper that's falling apart at the seams.)

Daria: Who wove that thing? Uba from Clan of the Cave Bear?

Trent: It was the best I could do on short notice. I found this thing in the attic.

Daria: So long as you didn't find the food in the attic too. Or in your fridge, for that matter.

Trent: Good luck finding food in our fridge. No, I went food shopping for the occasion.

Daria: Well, at least it means you were forced into a grocery store. Jane'll be happy that there's something edible in the house for a change. (Trent currently looks a little shamefaced.) You did get stuff for your house, right?

Trent: (blushing) I was so busy trying to figure out what you'd like, I kinda forgot.

(Daria shoots him a small smile. He smiles back and puts the hamper down on the ground, opening it and pulling out a blanket.)

(Scene: LHS cafeteria. Music: The Jesus Lizard -- "Panic in Cicero". Quinn barges into the room and approaches the table at which are seated Jane, Lynn, Jodie and Mack.)

Quinn: Did you hear anything?

Jane: No, and we don't expect to.

Quinn: Well, are you going to do something, already? She's gone and just look at all the time we're wasting! I mean, if we're going to do something, let's just do it!

Lynn: I've told you before, and I'll tell you again. There's nothing we can do about it right now. After school, we'll deal with it appropriately.

Quinn: I don't believe you.

Jodie: She's right, you know. Quinn, really, we need to be calm about this.

Quinn: Easy for you to talk about being calm -- it's not your sister...

Lynn: No, it's yours. And mine. And I know what I'm doing. So would you just trust me?


Quinn: Fine. But whatever you're gonna do, I want in.

AP: She's not gonna like you being involved, Narcissa. You know what she's like.

Jane: Well, she's not going to like any of it, but we don't have a choice anymore. (to Quinn) Meet us in the parking lot after school. We can probably find a use for some of your talents.

(Quinn raises an eyebrow at her, and Jane nods.)

Lynn: Now, aren't you supposed to be in history? Daria'd kill me if I drove you further off the rails than I already have.

(Quinn smiles a little at that and takes off. Jodie and Mack look at the others.)

Mack: So you do have a plan.

AP: Have we ever not?

Jodie: So is there any room in this plan of yours for us?

Jane: You sure you want in on this? I mean, you know how we get.

Mack: So far, we've taken everything you've ever thrown at us. Really -- you guys are our friends and so's she. We want to help any way we can.

(Jane, Lynn and AP look at Jodie, who nods confirmation.)

Jane: Okay, come on, enough of the soppy stuff. We've got some planning to do. Okay, Jodie, here's what we need from you...

(They put their heads together in a secretive little huddle.)


Impulse -- Moisturising body spray. Lesbian imagery. It's great to live in an enlightened age. Could've done without the sickeningly cute Labrador puppies, though.

Next on TLAS -- Hayley Mills eat your heart out. The look-alikes earn themselves a change of scenery the hard way in "The Twin Trade".

(Scene: the rural area. Music: Hot Water Music -- "Choked and Separated". The picnic lunch is spread out and half-devoured. Daria and Trent are sitting across the blanket from each other in companionable silence. It looks like Daria has something on her mind, and after a moment, she collects herself and voices it.)

Daria: Maybe I shouldn't be asking this, but I'm curious. When did you... Well, I normally keep my cards close to the vest on the emotional front, so... (beat) When did you figure it out?

Trent: I started thinking you might have a ... not a crush -- you're too mature for that -- I dunno, a something back when we were working that flea market stall. I kinda saw you looking at me when you thought I was asleep.

Daria: (blushing) I should probably ask when else you've feigned narcolepsy to catch people in potentially humiliating situations.

Trent: That's not what it's for. I learned how to fake being asleep when I figured out that no one at home would wake me up if they needed stuff like chores done.

Daria: So you mostly do it to evade responsibility and hard labour. It just happened to have side effects in that instance.

(Trent shrugs. Daria shrugs back and bites into a sandwich.)

Trent: So ... why didn't you ever say anything? I mean, the flea market was a long time ago.

Daria: Well, after our double-edged conversation after Jane met... (she gets stuck, backs up a little and approaches the topic at a new angle) ...after our multimedia project, I sort of figured you weren't interested and there was no point in admitting something that stood as much a chance of being reciprocated as Quinn's former crush on that blond in Boys-R-Guys.

Trent: (laugh/cough) Daria, I just didn't want to work on anything where what I did or didn't do got in the way of your grades. When I said all that stuff about "...On this", I was trying to sound you out.

Daria: What, you were hoping I'd ask if there was something else we could get together on?

Trent: Exactly.

Daria: I see. Two people pursuing a relationship, operating at cross-purposes to each other. It's gratifying to see that even Shakespearian farce is an accurate mirror of the human condition.

(The looks this time are sheepish.)

Trent: So what about you?

Daria: I honestly had no idea how you felt about me until the dance last year. (beat; shy) I found your song lyrics. Wish I could have heard it played.

Trent: Maybe now, but Daria, would you have wanted to back then? I mean, you were kinda into the punk and all...

Daria: (cold) I'm pretty sure this topic is a no-go zone, Trent.

Trent: You dated him for about six months, Daria...

Daria: And you slept with Lynn.

Trent: I thought she was you!

(Stunned pause from Daria -- this is obviously something Lynn never told her.)

Daria: I thought alcohol induced blurred vision, not colour-blindness.

Trent: At first, all I saw was the face -- your face. (beat) I think maybe I knew for a second that she wasn't ... well, I ... (sigh) Aw, hell, Daria, I was too angry to care and too drunk to remember and I wanted it to be you. (beat) Woke up that morning, still thought it had been you. But Lynn'd left a sock behind. And Jane told the band the best way to tell you and her apart -- the purple, y'know.

Daria: Yeah. I know. (beat) I guess I know now why I went for AP.

Trent: What, she'd had me kissing her so why not roll with the guy she was into?

(And yet again, Daria's sent reeling.)

Daria: Noooo... I found out AP's feelings for Lynn just before ... well, the hospital thing ... but I didn't have any idea those feelings were reciprocated until last summer. Lynn keeps things closer to the vest than I do. You mean you knew?

Trent: "Knew" might be a little strong. But with some of the lyrics and how things went on when we tried the date thing and how the punk reacted to stuff ... I just had a feeling, was all.

Daria: You're a dark horse, Trent Lane.

(Trent smiles and blushes, turning his face away from her a little.)

Trent: But then ... if it wasn't that, what was it?

Daria: Well ... even before I knew that he felt anything for Lynn, there was something. He always kept at a bit of a distance from me. There was never any chance of him pressuring me into something I wasn't ready for.

Trent: You mean like what Lynn and I did.

Daria: Yes, that too. I don't think that's something I'm going to be ready to do for awhile yet.

(That and the pointed look she gives him is not lost on Trent. He smiles and nods a little. And then something else registers.)

Trent: That too?

Daria: I also mean ... well, because he wasn't giving everything in his heart to me, there was no pressure for me to give everything in my heart to him. So that meant that I didn't have to put aside what I felt for you until I was ready. (beat) Despite stating that I wanted to be just friends... (sigh)

(There's a pause in which Daria picks at the grass, not looking at Trent.)

Trent: Daria?

Daria: In this whole situation, I took what I felt to be the safest road, even if it wasn't what I really wanted. With AP, there didn't have to be any pressures ... any emotional excesses... I could just date. Casually. (beat; slightly horror-struck) My God, Quinn and I have the one thing in common that I never thought we'd share.

Trent: So what changed your mind? About us, I mean.

Daria: The hospital. What you did for me. You showed me that emotional excess isn't the end of the world. (beat) That sometimes, emotional excess gets us through ... makes life more worthwhile than cold, cynical logic ever could.


Trent: Daria?

Daria: Yes, Trent?

Trent: Can I kiss you now?

(She pauses, giving every impression of really giving it her full consideration.)

Daria: No.

(She gives it another second to see the slight disappointment develop on Trent's face. Then she kisses him.)

(Scene: LHS parking lot. Music: Bush -- "Solutions". Lynn's leaned up against the Merc, her cellphone to her ear; Jodie's seated on the hood. AP approaches with Mack.)

Jodie: (jumping down from the hood) Hey.

Mack: Hey. So we know what we're doing?

Lynn: (into the phone) Yes, I'll hold for a few more minutes but can you at least change the music? "Greensleeves" affects me like full moons affect werewolves. (beat) No, it does not make me grow hair, but ... (beat) Thank you. (beat) Oh God, not Dusty Springfield...

AP: (to Jodie and Mack) Yeah, one of you has a car, right?

Mack: Yeah, I do. So we're on Degas Street?

Lynn: (putting her hand over the mouthpiece) No, Jane and AP are Degas Street. You two are Main. It's more your style anyway. (taking her hand off the mouthpiece) Yes, hello, this is Lynn Cullen...

(She wanders off towards the school building, talking into the phone.)

AP: Boy; and I thought the school modems had lag problems.

Jodie: We'll see you there, AP. Good luck.

(Mack and Jodie walk off down the parking lot. Lynn paces back towards the car as Quinn and Jane approach from the school.)

Lynn: Yes. (beat) No, I know, but... (beat) Well, yes, there is that... (beat) So is that a "yes"? (beat) Thank you. Sorry to have... (beat; then hits "End") Okay, that part's settled. Jane? I'll drop you and AP at your place and you borrow Trent's car. Then Degas Street.

Quinn: But where are we going?

Lynn: Your place. You'll need to pick up a few things.

(Quinn shrugs and gets into the back seat of the Merc. Jane joins her and AP takes shotgun. Lynn gets into the driver's seat and starts the car.)

(Scene: the rural area. Music: The Step Kings -- "Right is Wrong". Daria and Trent are packing up the picnic gear.)

Daria: We really should head back. I'd rather Mom not find out that I ditched school for any reason, against my will or not. Anyway, I'm supposed to be going to a birthday dinner tonight and I think I'd be lynched if I missed it. (beat) At least Jane or Lynn will have covered for me with Mr Caldwell.

(Trent's eyes go wide and he tries to hide his "I just screwed up big" expression. But Daria picks it up anyway.)

Daria: You did tell them your plans for today, didn't you? (to Trent's shamefaced look) After this summer -- and this last Christmas -- you dragged me off to the middle of nowhere and didn't give a word of warning to anyone? They're going to think the worst.

Trent: I know, Daria. I know. I just ... didn't think, is all.

Daria: We'd better find a payphone somewhere on the way back. Call Lynn and tell her to call off whatever rescue mission she's planning.

Trent: There's not a payphone for miles, Daria. And I'm not sure the one at that gas station ever got fixed after the drummer from Mad Dogs and English Muffins tore it off the wall.

Daria: Alternate plan, then. Lynn'll probably arrange a meeting at your house -- if I remember right, you're supposed to have a rehearsal tonight anyway. We go straight there, we explain the situation and you take whatever punishment they choose to dish out.

(Trent nods. They finish the packing up and haul the picnic basket into the back of the van.)

(Scene: Lane house, ext. Music: Papa Roach -- "Infest". The Merc, Trent's Plymouth and a slightly battered Ford Escort that probably belongs to Mack are parked out front. The A-Tank pulls up in front and the engine shuts off. Daria and Trent step out.)

Daria: Looks like the lynch mob has arrived.

Trent: Usually, the worst music I have to face is the opening bands at the Zen.

(They exchange worried looks and head for the door.)

(Scene: Lane living room -- focusing on the door. Music plays on. We hear the front door opening, and then Daria and Trent step into the doorway ... and freeze dead.)

Voices: (OS) Surprise!

(Pan to what Daria and Trent see -- Jane, Lynn, AP, Quinn, Jodie, Mack, Nick and Max have decorated the living room in typical party style, with the same green and orange theme that they used on her locker. Party food covers every flat surface. Back to Daria and Trent. Daria turns and looks at him.)

Trent: Daria, honestly, I had no idea.

Lynn: It was a hastily-planned, last minute affair. You denied us the pleasure of your company for present-opening at school, so despite your hatred of parties in your honour, we felt we had no choice.

Jane: Way to go, brother mine. You had the pink princess over there panicked.

Quinn: Hey, can you blame me?

Mack: Not at first, but when we got a hold of Nick this morning and found out she was probably with someone we trust...

Quinn: And I trust him? With my big sister? Come on!

Jane: So, were you two too ... busy to remember that Lynn carries a cellphone?

Daria: It's a long story involving Mad Dogs and English Muffins.

Jodie: (looking very confused) Trent, what have you been letting her do?

AP: Anyway, you're here, you're fine, it's Erudite Emerald's birthday so can she open her presents now? (to the looks) Well? I've been waiting all day to see if I did good!

Daria: Well, I really should get home. My parents are expecting me ... for... (noticing the smug looks, particularly on Lynn's face) They're not expecting me for dinner, are they.

Lynn: Somehow, the idea of her formerly socially challenged daughter having a surprise party thrown for her by several of her friends made her a little teary and very agreeable to move that birthday dinner to tomorrow.

(Daria sighs and gives a small smile. AP grins and digs a present out of the pile on the armchair.)

(Scene: Lane house, ext. Music: Dan Bern -- "One Thing Real". Daria is sitting on the front step, a can of soda in her hand, looking thoughtfully out into the twilight. Jane exits after a moment, looks at her and then sits down beside her.)

Jane: Some haul, huh?

Daria: She had to get me clothes.

Jane: Consider it revenge for the "Books by the Ton" thing. (beat) So ... have fun?

Daria: Yes and no. We had that talk.

Jane: The one where you said you don't want to do anything heavy physically yet, or the one where you finally aired out the Lynn thing and the AP thing, or the one where you asked each other why it took so long to get together in the first place?

Daria: All of the above, and then some.

Jane: Wow. Eventful birthday. (beat) So you hate the party this much?

Daria: No ... I just had some things to think out. (beat) He thought it was me, in London?

Jane: He called her your name. More than once.

(Silence as they both mull that over.)

Daria: We wasted a lot of time, didn't we? All because I was too scared to take a chance.

Jane: Well ... two choices. You can sit out here and think about how much time you wasted with Trent -- which wastes even more time. Orrrrr ... you could go back in there and make up some of that time.

Daria: (Mona Lisa smile) When did you get so smart?

Jane: What do you expect? I hang around you all the time. (beat) Happy birthday, amiga.

Daria: Thanks, Jane.

(They both stand up and go into the house, shutting the door behind them. A moment's silence, then...)




I got really badly stuck on this one -- romance has never exactly been my strong suit. Then I reread Brother Grimace's "Shipping Overnight", hoping that tapping into the Daria/Trent thing that way would help get me back on track, and it worked better than I could've hoped [and resulted in a 3 a.m. writing binge]. So this one's for Grim, whose best suggestions come when he's not making them outright.


The place to do the thing -- Hi Jill; Ben!

Cornfield -- Just in case it isn't abundantly clear, this is where the Tank first broke down in "The Road Worrier".

Mistaken identity -- That's the major place where Grim's storylines came in. "Shipping Overnight" left it open as to whether Trent actually knew who he was making love to in "Rue" and I decided to take a middle road.

Mad Dogs and English Muffins -- Come on, we never hear enough of the Spiral's stories from road trips or even hints of them.


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.