(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: Lynn's room. It's predominantly dark, but uncharacteristic snoring is heard. Scuffling from the outside world is heard, and then the sound of the window being dragged all the way up. The curtains are yanked open to reveal a lump of blankets and no visible human features. Jane crawls into the room, followed shortly by Daria. They both look at the snoring lump of bedding with some puzzlement. Then the CD player starts playing Marcy Playground's "Sex and Candy". Lynn's head peeks out of the bedding and squints at the new arrivals. The snoring continues.)

Lynn: What the hell are you doing here?

Daria: I thought I'd give you a ride to school for a change.

Lynn: (nervous) Look, just give me five minutes to get decent...

Jane: Come on, Lynn; we've seen you in sleepwear a hundred times by now and changed with you for gym for nearly two years; we've seen all there is to...

(The lump of blankets shifts and, with a long, drawn-out snort, the other figure rolls over and with the shifting of the covers, two things are revealed -- Lynn from the breasts up, wearing the purple satin Christmas present she received in AFH [one shoulder strap is askew and hanging somewhere in the region of her biceps] and AP, naked from the waist up, creating the noise. Daria and Jane both look at Lynn, who blushes miserably. Jane opens her smirking mouth to say something and Daria, smiling, claps a hand over her mouth.)

Daria: We'll just leave you alone. To ... get presentable.

(With that, she drags a protesting Jane out of the room. Lynn, still blushing, pulls the covers back up over herself and AP. Then her hand reaches out and grabs for her glasses on the bedside table.)

(Scene: Cullen kitchen. Music plays on. Jane is brewing coffee. Daria comes out of the pantry empty-handed.)

Jane: Did you really think you were going to find anything in there?

Daria: Well, if I had, I would have had the proof I needed that on the way here this morning, I blinked and missed the sign announcing this as the Twilight Zone.

Jane: What, the loved-up couple in the depression nest? Come on, Daria; you had to at least figure they were having...

Daria: Relations, yes. I knew they had had relations. After Michigan. But I thought that was adrenaline ... and being glad to be alive, and to see each other alive. But ... Lynn's usually so ... untouchable. Particularly after...

Jane: (dismissing "after" with a wave of her hand) So she's finally getting back to normal. Tell me why that's such a bad thing.

(Daria looks set to tell Jane exactly why that's such a bad thing -- possibly in a very loud voice and with several expletives -- but is stopped short by the appearance of Lynn, fully dressed and still looking somewhat sheepish, but also in a hurry. She bears a laptop under one arm and has her mobile phone in her hand.)

Daria: There's no breakfast, but Jane made...

Lynn: ...Dishwater, I know, I can nearly smell it -- not strong enough -- there's Jolt in the car -- someone wake AP -- I gotta go -- later!

(And she's out the door. Daria and Jane look at each other.)

Daria: It's a bad thing because it puts her off guard. She used to be ready for anything.

Jane: (pouring coffee) The Mafia-mania's over, and we live in the most boring suburb this side of anywhere. What's gonna happen? (picking up a mug) Now c'mon, amiga -- we got given a mission. I'll bring the coffee; you bring the ice water.

(With a smirk, Jane exits. Daria sighs and heads for the fridge.)

(Scene: Carter County International Airport arrivals area -- specifically, the car rental booths. Music: Ben Folds Five -- "Kate" [with all due irony -- just read the lyrics if you don't believe me]. Balding, overweight, Coke-bottle glasses-wearing Avis desk clerk [name tag says "Randall"] looks up to see Kate Cullen; her hair's shorter, she wears an olive green blouse and black slacks, and the expression on her face is normally found on someone who's stepped in something filthy. Randall leers anyway.)

Randall: Well hello, miss! Can I help you?

Kate: (looking at him like he's pond life) I hate this town.

Randall: Well, this town is lucky to have a beauty such as yourself in its...

(Kate grabs him by the collar and pulls him forward until they're nose-to-nose. He looks like he doesn't believe his luck until he notices the furious eyes and "weird shade of maroon".)

Kate: Now listen to me, you sleazy, snivelling sack of pig fat. I came to this benighted corner of the country direct from Moscow. My seatmate was a vodka-drunk businessman who seems to think that cologne is an adequate replacement for hygiene and who decided that I was in need of joining the Mile High Club. I broke two nails responding to his proposition and he's lucky to still have his face. Now all I want is a car and directions to a decent hotel. Now can you give me that, or do I have to open your skull and carve out the section of your brain that comes up with your pickup lines with the few nails I have left?

(Randall swallows nervously and checks his computer.)

Randall: I have one Honda Civic left -- and as for hotels, what's the area?

Kate: Lawndale.

Randall: Well, there's a Holiday Inn out by Halcyon Hills and a Ramada near the Rx Plex...

Kate: I really hate this town. (long beat) The keys? To the Honda?

Randall: So which of those two fine establishments will have the pleasure of your custom?

Kate: What business is it of yours?

Randall: You'll be taking our property out on the road, so we're entitled to get information on a need to know basis, and believe me, I need to know. Perhaps we can discuss it over ... lunch?

(Kate's eyes narrow.)

(Scene: Budget counter. Music plays on. Kate is standing there taking a set of keys from a horse-faced young woman who looks unaccountably frightened. She stalks off past the Avis counter, where we see Randall -- his shirt has been pulled up over his head, his tie tightened so that it seals off the collar. Randall, his arms stuck up over his head, is peering out from a gap between two buttons in abject terror.)

Randall: (muffled) That woman needs therapy.

(Scene: LHS corridor. Music: Lostprophets -- "Shinobi vs. Dragon Ninja". Daria at her locker. Jane leaning against the lockers nearby.)

Jane: I still don't see why you wouldn't let me drive it.

Daria: The fact that you couldn't even manipulate the door handle when I picked you up spoke volumes about your ability to manipulate a steering wheel.

(Enter AP.)

AP: Any of you know 'bout surgery?

Jane: That question scares me from anyone, but from you...

Daria: Why do you want to know?

AP: Cos I want that off Purple Peril's ear.

(He points down the hall. Lynn is striding purposefully down the corridor, talking into her cellphone.)

Lynn: No, that's not a price, that's a joke. (beat; waves as she passes her friends) I've seen your premises; I've heard better acoustics in wind tunnels...

(She vanishes down the corridor. The gang exchange a look -- confusion.)

AP: Maybe we get together after school? Ask her what's up with this?

Jane: They've got rehearsal at my place after school. We could meet up there. Daria? You in on this?

Daria: I think Mom said something about coming home early. That poodle parlour case is finally closed and I think she said something about dinner.

Jane: Well, you were the one worried about her being off that tripwire she's been walking for the last year. Cry "study date" and ask her about it, whydontcha?

(Bell rings. Daria shuts her locker and they go their separate ways -- Jane seems to be taking the whole thing in stride and Daria looks like she's trying to gear herself up for the confrontation ahead, but AP looks very, very worried.)

(Scene: Morgendorffer house, ext. Music: The Smiths -- "Bigmouth Strikes Again". Jake opens the door and sees Kate standing there. The look on her face when she sees who answered explains where Lynn got that sly smirk ... well, where else. Jake, for his own part, just looks confused.)

Kate: You'd be Jake Morgendorffer.

Jake: Yes... (beat) Are you here to see Helen?

Kate: Not exactly. I'm Jerome Smythe's ex-wife.

Jake: ("Now what the hell am I supposed to say to that?") Oh. Uh. Hi?

Kate: I start to see why she went to someone else.

Jake: What do you want, anyway? Your daughter's not staying here ... well, not anymore...

Kate: Actually, you could call this a mission of mercy. There are a few things I felt you should know about your daughter.

Jake: (a little bewildered) If you mean Daria, she's not my daughter. Well, not technically. Y'see, there was this whole affair about eighteen years ago ... well, you'd know all about that, right?

Kate: And ... this doesn't bother you.

Jake: It was eighteen years ago, lady. I may not be able to let go of my intense hatred of my father and I may not be able to let go of the fact that I went through years of living hell in that military school he sent me to so he wouldn't have to even try to be a father to me...

Kate: Is there a point to this crap?

Jake: At the end of the whole thing, she came back to me. And she's given me eighteen good years and more. So I think I can at least let go of her giving some poor oppressed guy a break from someone like you.

Kate: (gobsmacked) "Poor oppressed guy"? You have no idea what Jerome Smythe is, do you?

Jake: (now very bewildered) Don't you mean, "was"? (to the loud blink that comment engenders) Well, Daria told me he died or something. About three months ago. So it wouldn't be "Jerome Smythe is", it'd be "Jerome Smythe was" ... right?

(Kate just stares at him; she had planned to use what information she had to break him -- and consequently Helen -- and he beat her to it without even knowing it. Her mouth opens and closes a few times, and then she turns around and starts to leave ... just in time to see Helen's SUV pull up. She clambers out of the car, talking on her cellphone and not even noticing the woman gawking at her.)

Helen: (into the phone; forced casual) Well, that's fine, sweetie... (beat) No, really, Daria; I'm working normal days until my next big case and there'll be plenty of time for family dinners. (beat) Just call if you're going to be later than ten. Bye.

(She turns the phone off and looks up ... directly into Kate's face. They freeze, looking at each other.)

Kate: So your lover's dead. Must be a mercy for the husband.

(Then Kate just walks away. Helen turns to Jake, looking stunned and horrified, like she's just been slapped; he just holds his arms out to her. She staggers to him and lets him hug her.)


Celebrity Big Brother -- I'm not a celebrity. Will you please get me out of here anyway?

Lord of the Rings for PS2 -- But ... I suck at video games. I don't want to see Saruman win...

(Scene: Jane's room. Music: N*E*R*D -- "Rock Star". AP's logged onto Jane's computer and is poking around online. Daria puts down the phone and turns to watch Jane, who is doing exotic things with pipe cleaners, silver wire, Life Savers and AOL CDs.)

Jane: (sort of distant) Your skill in the faeces tauri department continues to amaze me, Morgendorffer.

Daria: (ignoring that) I guess there's no need to ask what you'll be doing with your Spring Break.

Jane: What, this little thing? This is just the beginning. All in the art world will tremble before the might of my creations!

(She punctuates this with an evil cackle that would sound more appropriate from an evil overlord bent on world domination. Daria looks at her with a sort of fond scorn; Jane gives an almost sheepish smirk and goes back to her art project.)

AP: I dunno. Part of me wants to do what I normally do on school vacations...

Daria: Read "Snow Crash" for the fifty-eighth time and try to figure out a way to goggle into the Net?

AP: I gave up "Snow Crash" right around the time my girlfriend's dad turned into Uncle frikkin' Enzo. But I guess you're close. Just ... I dunno how Purple Peril'd take it. Y'know, girlfriend with drivable thing, all that time off ... y'gotta figure she's gonna wanna ... y'know...

Jane: I believe the words you're groping for are "do stuff".

AP: (indignant) I was gonna try thinking of something more speffic. (to the looks) What?

Daria: Spe-cif-ic.

AP: Yeah, whatever.

(Reeeeeeeally heavy power chords literally shake the house on its foundations. All three kids cover their ears.)

Jane: (over the noise) I guess we all know what Lynn's doing for Spring Break too!

(Scene: Lane basement. Music plays on ... well, what you can hear of it. Max is back at his drum kit and they're bashing through something unbelievably heavy and reminiscent of a Korn tribute to Iced Earth. Lynn, meanwhile, is going through various bits of paper; the overall image is of Satan's PA. Daria, Jane and AP clop down the stairs and look at the scenario.)

Jane: Uh ... guys?

(Too much noise and no one's really listening. Daria takes Lynn and shakes her by the shoulder. Instead of jumping, or damaging Daria, as she might have done a few months previous, she looks up with a short start and gives her a crooked sort of smile. Then she reaches down to her feet and produces an air horn, which she triggers. The guys stop.)

Trent: (grin) Hey, Daria. Janey. Punk.

Daria: (reluctant smile) Hey, Trent. Lynn, what are you doing?

Lynn: Business.

Daria, Jane, AP: (panic) Business?

Max: She's got us a studio! We're gonna have an album!

Nick: We still haven't got a name for the label or anything, but Lungs over there says we've got time...

Jane: Waitwaitwait, whoa. Studio? Album? Label?

Trent: We were gonna ask you to do the cover art, Janey. Could look good when you want to do it for the real pros.

Max: Hey, we are real pros, man!

Daria: Isn't putting out an album a little...

Lynn: Precipitate? Overambitious?

Daria: Stupid.

Trent: (a little hurt) I thought you had faith in the band, Daria.

Daria: (oh, crap) It's not that. It's just ... she... (She shuts up under the looks she's getting.) I think I need to get home. I'll talk to you later.

(With that, she heads up the stairs. Jane exchanges a look with AP and follows her out. AP, reading the look he got, changes the subject.)

AP: So any funky-punky goodness to this? I mean, all with the metal's cool but...

Lynn: Hey, can we give him a shot of "Bastard Does New York"?

(AP looks terribly confused but settles down to listen as Lynn drops her paperwork and takes the mic.)

(Scene: Lane kitchen. Music plays on. Daria is heading for the door and is stopped by Jane.)

Jane: Whoa whoa whoa. I'm used to this kind of crap from her. When you start acting psycho...

Daria: I am not acting psycho.

Jane: You ran down the band. You've been defending them for years...

Daria: I am not running down the...

Jane: And now that they have a decent sound going and want to make an album and maybe move out to San Fran so they can keep it going...

Daria: Jane, listen, I am not running down the...

Jane: And maybe your boyfriend and my brother can finally get the thing he's always dreamed of and you of all people...

Daria: JANE! (when she finally stops) I am not running down the band. I think they can do it; that's the problem. (sighs at the look she's getting) Never mind. Just ... never mind. I'm going home.

Jane: (as Daria leaves) You want to go home. (the door slams) This can't get any weirder.

(Scene: LHS parking lot. Music: Murderdolls -- "Let's Go To War". It's dusk, and DeMartino is heading to his car. As he does, Kate's rental Honda pulls up and she steps out, stalking towards the school.)

DeMartino: Excuse me, ma'am. The school is closed for the evening.

Kate: Well, perhaps you can help me. My name's Kate Cullen. I'm Lynn's mother.

DeMartino: Ah, yes. Your reputation precedes you.

Kate: I wonder if you understand the situation your student's in. Are you aware that she's currently living alone? And that she's not exactly the quiet student with a bad attitude that she seems to be?

DeMartino: I believe, Ms Cullen, that no one has ever been under any illusions that your daughter is even remotely quiet.

Kate: Are you deliberately being obtuse?

DeMartino: Ms Cullen, I only teach the students ... or at least make an attempt. Whatever else they may turn their hands to in their copious free time is their business.

Kate: Never mind legality?

DeMartino: Ms Cullen, I am their history teacher. I leave the parenting to those who spawned the little miscreants. (beat) And I must say that you did a particularly interesting job in that regard.

Kate: What the hell do you know about it?

DeMartino: In an official capacity, I know nothing about it except what my eyes tell me.

Kate: Why are you defending her?

DeMartino: A better question, Ms Cullen, would be why you are trying to destroy her reputation at this miserable excuse for an edifice of higher learning.

Kate: Frankly, I don't see how it's any of your business, you bug-eyed freak. But if you're that interested, she's made a nice life for herself here, so she practically reveres the scumbag who sired her. If I pull it apart, she has to come crawling back to a real life.

DeMartino: The words that come to mind, Ms Cullen, are "too little, too late. Perhaps your profession blinded you to your other duties in life when your daughter was malleable. As of now ... you reap what you sow.

(Kate stands there and gawks at him in the manner of a landed fish. Then she turns and stalks away.)

(Scene: LHS cafeteria. Music: Magazine -- "Shot by Both Sides". Lynn's frowning at a stack of papers. AP seems engrossed in a History textbook, of all things. Jane's doing some quick and dirty sketches. She shows one to Lynn, who gives a sort of noncommital one-shoulder shrug. Jane looks at her sketch, frowns at it and flips the page over, starting again. Daria, sitting at the far end of the table, is watching them. Then she looks at AP.)

Daria: (to Jane) And you think I'm acting weird.

Jane: So he's studying. So what?

Daria: He's studying History like it's something he enjoys. (reaching for the book) AP, are you...?

(She grabs the book away and sees another hidden underneath it. That one is titled "Better Sex Through Chemistry". AP blinks, blushes and slams it shut, hiding it away. Daria stares at him, as does Jane. Lynn, engrossed in her paperwork, doesn't seem to notice. Jane opens her mouth, closes it, opens it again.)

Jane: Behold the power of Rohypnol?

Daria: I'm not hungry anymore.

(She gets up and walks off across the cafeteria until she spies Jodie, reading up on the pros and cons of the Algarve. Daria takes a seat across from her.)

Daria: Where's Mack?

Jodie: Some kind of last-minute basketball practice. What are you doing here? Don't you usually...?

Daria: I need to talk to someone. And they aren't ... they aren't someone for this.

Jodie: (finally noticing the look that's on Daria's face) Are you okay?

Daria: No. Not really, no. But I seem to be the only one that isn't.

(To Jodie's odd look, fade to...)

(Scene: a hotel room. Music plays on. Kate is sitting on the bed, looking extremely pissed off. She chews her lower lip thoughtfully for a moment. Then she pulls out her address book and flips to M. We see, in handwriting that's very much like Lynn's, "McIntyre, F; 324 Boothroyd Avenue." She gives a little grin.)

(Scene: Pizza King. Music: Default -- "Sick and Tired". Daria and Jodie are sharing a booth. Jodie is watching Daria with sympathy but also confusion.)

Jodie: From what you've told me, it sounds like Lynn's getting herself back together again. I thought that was what you wanted.

Daria: I do ... but I think she's taking it too far.

Jodie: What do you mean?

Daria: Well ... she's relying on it all too much. It gives her too much security.

Jodie: Is there such a thing?

Daria: For her ... for us, there is. Jodie, she loves AP and it's nice to see them together, but what if something drags them apart? It doesn't have to be ... well, what we went through over Christmas. What if he gets hit by a bus, or God forbid finds another girl while he's at MIT?

Jodie: (raised eyebrow) We're talking about AP here, Daria.

Daria: (waving that away) And then there's a band. Travelling the country -- maybe the world -- and standing in the middle of a spotlight, practically begging for a sniper to put a bullet through her.

Jodie: Don't you think she knows all this? She's known about it longer than you have.

Daria: That's just it -- she doesn't seem to know. And that doesn't strike me as right. Because ... well, if she doesn't notice any of that ... well, what else isn't she going to notice?

(Jodie watches Daria slump down in her seat, looking miserable. Jodie seems to consider this carefully.)

Jodie: Have you talked to her about it?

Daria: How can I? She's actually happy. Do I have the right to wreck it for her the way...

(Daria stops, biting her lip. Jodie gently finishes it up.)

Jodie: ...The way she wrecked it for you? (Daria lowers her eyes.) Look, I know you. If you're worried enough about ulterior motives to come up with something like that, Daria, then you haven't got any ulterior motives.

Daria: I don't even know how to broach the subject. Every time I try to talk it over with Jane or AP, they just shut me down. If they can be content with letting things stay the way they are, why can't I?

Jodie: Because you're too observant -- and too smart -- to play the denial game. And you know they'll listen if they think you're this upset. (looking closely at Daria) But they don't think you're this upset, do they.

Daria: Well...

Jodie: Would it help if I paved the way for you? Tried to broach the subject with her, see how she reacts? (Daria just gives a sheepish smile in return.) And once again, girl, you owe me.

(Daria gives a half-shrug, looking better than she has since this started.)

(Scene: Cullen living room. Music plays on. Lynn's sitting on the back of the sofa; the coffee table, sofa and floor are littered with pieces of paper. She's digging through piles of them. The first two she crumples and tosses into an armchair in the corner. The third she frowns at and tears into tiny little pieces, throwing them around her like confetti. Then she finds a pile she evidently likes because she grabs a staple gun and starts attaching them to the walls. Then the doorbell rings.)

Lynn: (grumble) Somebody better be dead.

(She jumps off the sofa, leaves the room and comes back a moment later with Jodie at her heels.)

Jodie: (looking around the disarray of the room) Uh, sorry to interrupt. I ... wanted to ask a few questions about Europe. You've been, right?

Lynn: London, Cardiff, Paris, Venice, Athens and, according to the photos, Amsterdam. But that's not why you're here. You wouldn't have that "please don't hurt me" look on your face if you just wanted to turn me into a walking tour book. (thoughtful beat) Well, it wouldn't be as strong, anyway.

Jodie: Well, actually ... you seem better lately. Sorry for asking, but what's up with that?

Lynn: (shrug) I got told that I should take the opportunity to behave like a normal teenage girl. This is as close to it as I can come, so... (suspicious look) You have a problem with this?

Jodie: (eep) No! No, I don't have a problem with it!

(Lynn looks at Jodie for a moment. Jodie squirms.)


Capital One -- Marauding hordes of barbarians representing one's compounding interest. How subtle.

Next on TLAS -- Local TV channel tries to capitalise on the success of a certain reality TV show? "Oh, Brother".

(Scene: DeMartino's classroom. Daria seated next to Jodie in the front row. AP seated next to Lynn a row back. Daria is scowling at Jodie, who is now squirming even more.)

Daria: Not a word about it?

Jodie: I broached the subject, okay, but she had a point. Why doesn't she have the right to be a normal teenage girl?

Daria: Of course she has the right. It's just maybe not the best idea to completely forget just how dysfunctional her family is. Or was. Or I don't know.

Jodie: Anyone who wants to talk to her about this in detail has to be convinced that you're in the right here, Daria. And I'm sorry, but I'm not. At least the idea's out there now -- she's not stupid, you know. (beat as Daria sort-of sulks) I'm sorry. I did my best.

Daria: (grumbling) Well, we needed a sisterly bonding session anyway. I'll grab her after school.

(AP seems to have caught most of this, scowls. Lynn, who's still eye-deep in lyric sheets, hasn't noticed. The bell goes.)

DeMartino: Ms Cullen. Would you kindly see me after school this afternoon?

(Lynn half-nods on her way out.)

(Scene: LHS ext. The Aston Martin is parked next to the Merc. AP's waiting between the two cars as Daria walks up.)

Daria: Where's Lynn?

AP: Still in with the Cyclops. Dunno what-all they've got to talk about...

Daria: Maybe something to do with her study of lyric sheets instead of the second world war. You going to wait for her?

AP: Nah. I was waiting for you. Wanna give me a lift home?

Daria: Well, I was waiting for Lynn...

AP: I know. That's why I want you to give me a lift home. 'Kay?

(He's not great with words but his expression speaks volumes. Daria nods towards her car, but reluctantly.)

(Scene: McIntyre house, ext. Music: Tori Amos -- "Bliss". The Aston Martin pulls up in front of it and Daria and AP get out.)

AP: You can come in if you want...

Daria: Thanks, but I really just want to get home.

AP: C'mon, Erudite Emerald. You got something on your mind and even if I don't like it much, I wanna know about it cos it's about Purple Peril. (when Daria says nothing) Kes turned around and took all that away. And I gotta tell ya, I trust her. So why're you tweeking?

Daria: Because ... I don't know. I just ... she's too ... off guard. Like she feels she's earned this and so nothing could ever take it away from her.

AP: She has earned it! We all did!

Daria: You know life doesn't work that way. Happiness isn't a right. Hell, it's barely a privilege. And things can always happen to spoil it. And with her track record...

Fred: (OS) ANDREW!

AP: Awjeez; I gotta go. Look, just ... think hard before you say stuff. It could hurt worse than it helps.

(AP turns to the house and walks in. Daria looks at the door after it shuts behind him thoughtfully.)

(Scene: McIntyre living room. Music plays on. Fred is glaring down at his son, who's glaring back up at him, equally angry.)

AP: So Jezebel turned up here. So what? You think I just asked her to come over here and bug Mom? I mean, it's not like it'd have bugged Mom anyway!

Fred: Don't you be disrespectful about your mother!

AP: I'm not! It was your big fat stupid idea to keep her with the stinking pills!

Fred: Look, that Cullen witch was apparently here about that bookish little freak you insist on going out with, so don't you say it had nothing to do with you! For God's sake, why don't you just own up?

AP: What?!?

Fred: Just for once -- just once -- I want to see you stand up and face things like a man instead of hiding behind that little bookish freak of a tomboy who always lands trouble at our doorstep!

AP: (that's it; he's gone) Yeah; stand up, huh? You wanna hear about standing up? I shot a guy to keep that "bookish little freak" you keep bitching about alive, so don't you talk to me about standing up cos I don't just stand around and shout people down; I do something!

(Silence. AP's breathing heavily and looks like he realises exactly what he said but isn't remotely sorry for it. Fred's looking at his son as if he's just exploded in a rain of rainbow-coloured cabbits. After a moment, AP thumps up the stairs. Fred stands staring at the spot AP vacated as if AP were still there to stare at.)

(Scene: AP's room. Music plays on. AP's stuffing clothes into his rucksack, grumbling under his breath. Carol stands in the doorway and watches him in her usual vacant manner.)

Carol: Andrew? Where are you going?


(He finishes with his meagre wardrobe and starts stuffing other things into the bag -- his laptop, a few CDs, anything he can immediately get hold of.)

Carol: Listen ... Andrew ... don't worry about being in trouble. I think you've been in trouble for a long time and your father never made you leave...

(He shoulders the pack, staggers under its weight, and then heads for the door. Except Carol stands there blocking it, looking more confused than usual.)

AP: (hugging her while guiding her out of the way) Love ya, Mom.

(She stands there blankly as he leaves.)

(Scene: Lynn's room. Music: Placebo -- "Slave to the Wage". Hold on the window; we hear mumbling, getting louder.)

AP: Stupid stupid stupid ... HEY-HO, PURPLE PERIL! I GOTTA TALK TO...

(He pokes his head over the windowsill and shuts up abruptly. Pan out to the room -- it's devoid of human life. The wardrobe door is open, as are a couple of the drawers in the dresser, and clothes are strewn across the room. There are some very large gaps in the CD rack and bookshelf. In short, the place looks like a bomb went off ... or like someone packed in as much of a hurry as AP did himself. There's an envelope propped against the computer screen with "Maverick" written on it in Lynn's handwriting. AP clambers through the window and snags it, tearing it open.)

(Scene: the Quarry. Music plays on. Lynn is on foot; she's in jeans, a black T-shirt and sneakers. Her bag's over her shoulder and her hair is hidden under a baseball cap. She isn't wearing her glasses, and at a glance, she's unrecognisable. A beat-up yellow VW Beetle approaches; Lynn sticks her thumb out. The car stops, and Lynn gets in. It drives off.)

(Scene: Lane front hall. Music: Machine Gun Fellatio -- "The Girl of My Dreams is Giving Me Nightmares". Someone's hammering hard on the front door. Trent staggers to the door and opens it; AP's standing there, white as a ghost [except the freckles; they look darker], wearing his backpack and trembling under its weight.)

Trent: Whoa.

AP: Help...

(Trent grabs the backpack and helps AP out of it. Jane comes to the door and sees Trent drop the bag on the floor and lead AP in.)

Jane: What the hell...

AP: Parents ... Dad, really ... stupid with the yelling and I told him and I didn't mean to and then I had to go and I was gonna stay at Purple Peril's but ... she's...

(He pulls the badly-folded note out of his pocket and hands it to Jane. She unfolds and reads.)

Jane: "Mom's here. I'm on vacation." (beat; and she's gone nearly as pale as AP) Oh God...

AP: See, that's with the Dad-thing and... Oh, call Erudite Emerald, couldja? I don't got the stupid words!

(Scene: the same, some time later. Music: Papa Roach -- "Decompression Period". Daria's there, seated in an armchair. AP's huddled in a miserable little ball on the sofa. Jane and Trent stand behind the sofa.)

Daria: I suppose saying "I told you so" would be really unhelpful right about now. The problem is that it's all I can seem to think. (beat) What mode of transport did she take?

AP: Dunno. Amethyst's still in the garage and the Merc ... well... (to the looks) Keys in the ignition. Note for Jezebel stuck to the steering wheel. Explosive charge wired to it. Anyone starts that thing's going to be blown to whereever's after. (beat) We gotta find her!

Jane: Guys, no.

Daria/AP: What?

Trent: Sometimes, y'gotta get away. Like our family does. Let her have some time.

Jane: She'll be back. She's just got to normal out. Guys, between AP stressing over her holding onto the whole Mafia thing and Daria stressing over her dropping the whole Mafia thing so totally, and then with that mother of hers coming back, is it any wonder she needs to get out of Lawndale?

Daria: But where's she going to go? Lawndale's the only safety zone we know about.

Trent: There've gotta be other places, Daria. Little towns, other cities. Smythes and Merritts can't be everywhere.

Daria: Want to bet? (sigh) Then what happens if she doesn't come back?

Trent: We'll hear. We'll know. Y'know what they say, Daria -- you love something, you gotta let it go.

Daria: (grumble) Except didn't Jane say something once about tearing off its precious little wings?

Trent: (to change the subject) You stayin', punk?

AP: Guess, if it's cool. I mean, guess I could crash at Purple Peril's but she'd call here not there and I kinda wanna be somewhere she'd call. (beat) Is it cool?

Jane: Sure. It's gonna be reverse "Three's Company" around here, but hell, we could use some laughs right around now, no matter how cheap.

Daria: There's still a week of school left. What are we going to tell people?

Jane: She's a legal adult and a black blotch on the school's conduct records. You think Caldwell's going to do anything but celebrate when he finds out she's gone?

Daria: It's not him I'm thinking of.

(Scene: teacher's lounge. Music: Pitchshifter -- "A Better Lie". DeMartino is standing by himself near the door, looking thoughtful. O'Neill is sitting at the table, that soppy preoccupied "let's do some good -- but how?" expression plastered on his face. Barch, Defoe and Bennett look a little stunned. Caldwell, standing in the middle of the room, doesn't look much better.)

Caldwell: I didn't think that heartless little girl o' steel was capable of mourning.

O'Neill: Now, Mr Caldwell, that's hardly fair. I-I've seen Lynn Cullen's work and ... well, she is capable of a depth of feeling that...

Caldwell: Stuff a sock in it, Timothy. Now I see why she didn't tell anyone about it; if I thought I'd have to deal with your new-age rambling on top of bereavement, I'd...

Barch: You heartless chauvinist dirtbag! Leave my Timmy alone!

Caldwell: Look, I only told you this so you'd know that the Cullen girl won't be in class. (glaring at Barch) Call it compassionate leave.

(DeMartino slips out of the room, unnoticed.)

(Scene: corridor. Music plays on. Daria, Jane and AP have obviously been listening at the door, and they step back as it opens and DeMartino steps out. As the trio huddle on the other side of the corridor, pretending to converse, DeMartino approaches them.)

DeMartino: I'm curious. Just how much of that little farce in there was accurate?

(They hesitate, but flag in the face of his "don't give me any crap" expression.)

AP: It was mostly right.

(DeMartino looks at them a moment longer, then shrugs and leaves them to it.)

Jane: Well, they bought it. (shooting a nasty look in the direction DeMartino took) Most of them, anyway.

Daria: Adults will believe just about anything about the so-called fragile mental state of a teenager.

AP: So we made with the butt-covering and I got a roof. What now? We let the Franchise know?

Daria: Already done.

(They wait for elaboration. They don't get it.)

Jane: Well, let's not go nuts until after Spring Break. Give her some time to ... I dunno, do whatever.

AP: Y'gotta say it like that? And what'm I gonna do over Break with her out there doing ... whatever?

Daria: I'm sure you'll think of something.

(He glares at her and walks off. Daria and Jane exchange looks.)



Thea_Zara, or sh33pie, or whatever she wants to be called, was the first one to beta read this thing, so it's down to her that it's going out. Thank or blame her.


Randall -- Concept borrowed wholesale from "Strangers in Paradise" -- this guy has turned up in a video rental shop, a cab firm and a airport reservations desk. I came up with "Randall" because ... well, think of the short form.

Snow Crash -- Brief note: Uncle Enzo runs the CosaNostra Mafia franchise in that novel.

Better Sex Through Chemistry -- Yes, this book exists. Scary what you can find in Camden.

Lynn in Europe -- Growing Cynical lives. Honestly, I know its completion is one of the signs for Armageddon in some people's minds, but I'm actually working on it. That's part of 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.