Daria and related characters owned by Viacom/MTV © and ™ 2010.
Original story and original characters ©2010 ticknart.

Tom's Overkill

Story by ticknart

The heater clicked off, again. The fifth or sixth time since Tom Sloane had finally put himself to bed, even though he knew he wouldn't be sleeping. He'd spent the time just lying there, staring into the dark, and trying not to think about what had happened in Lawndale two nights before. The first two things he did just fine. The third, though, just wouldn't get out of his head.

Sighing, he rolled over onto his side, his body tired, but his mind racing, and saw Daria Morgendorffer in the bed next to him. She was asleep. How she could sleep after what they'd done, he didn't know. All he wanted to do was talk with her. Tell her everything he'd been thinking since they broke up last June. Ask her how her time at Raft had been. Tell her about his time at Bromwell. Apologize for all the stupid things he'd said and done while they were dating. Talk with her about the other night in his room.

"I think I love you," he said, hoping that short sentence could say everything, but knowing it didn't.

He watched her breathe. Her breath was gentle and occasionally punctuated with a light snore or her swallowing or a burp. He smiled. Sometimes, while they were togther, he hadn't been sure that she was totally human, but watching her sleep, watching her the only time her gaurd was down, and she was vunerable, he knew she was as human as everyone else.

"We never said that when we were together, did we?" he said to her. "I wanted to. I really did. I wasn't sure I could take it if you didn't... if you couldn't say it back to me." He paused, looking at her closed eyes. It was odd seeing her without her glasses. She didn't look any more pretty, but she looked so much softer, more open. "And I didn't want you to say it just because I said it to you. I wanted you to say it because you wanted to say it. Because you really felt it, too."

She moved, rubbed her cheek into the pillow. Some hair fell down in front of her face. He reached out to brush it back. Before his fingers touched her silky, auburn hair, she wasn't there anymore.

"Damn," he said, rolling onto his back and staring into the darkness again. "God, damnit."

He was alone in his bed. Alone in his room. Alone in his grandparents' house, even though it was full of family, Alone at the Cove. The clock showed 4:49 AM.

Tom wanted to hit something. Anything, but there was nothing to hit. And if he did, then what? He wouldn't feel any better. His hand would hurt, but his frustration with Daria would still be there.

Why did she leave without saying good-bye? Why did she even come over in the first place? Had she planned the whole thing out?

It's not like it had been Tom's idea to have sex that night. Yes, he didn't say no to it. That would have been crazy. Like really and truly insane. He'd imagined that scenario more often than he wanted to admit while lying in his dorm room at night. That didn't mean, though, that he'd ever thought it would actually happen. It wasn't his fault. It wasn't his idea.

He sat up and threw his covers back. No more lying in bed. He wasn't going to sleep. His toes seached the floor in the immediate area around the bed for clothes. First a sock, followed quickly by a t-shirt and pants. He put the shirt and pants on and continued to feel around with his toes for the other sock as he made his way toward the door. His shoes were over there and there was a good chance the other sock was somewhere between the bed and door. He found it on his shoes along with his hoodie. He picked up his shoes, opened his door, and looked out into the hallway.

The hallway wasn't bright, but the lights on the walls, shaped like candels, were still on, just dimmed down so people waking up to use the toilet weren't blinded but could still find their way down the hall to the bathroom. Tom headed for the stairs where he sat to put his socks and shoes on. As he tied his shoes, he heard voices coming from downstairs.

He stood and pulled the hoodie over his head. He didn't want to let the people talking know he was awake, so he grabbed tightly to the bannister and kept his feet as close to the edge of the stairs as he could to keep them from squeaking, a trick he and Elsie had discovered through years of sneaking downstairs to look at their presents before Christmas morning or to spy on what the grown-ups were saying while they were supposed to be in bed.

Eighteen steps later he was on the ground level in the entry way to the house. The voices were coming from the right, the sitting room. He tip-toed toward the archway separating the entry from the sitting room and looked around the corner to see who was in there.

Elsie with her "cove boyfriend" Marc Béranger. He should have known. Who else would be up this early? Elsie obviously hadn't even made it to bed, yet. At least they weren't sleeping together. If they were Tom would have to take care of business by hiring someone to beat the crap out of Marc. No one touched his sister.

He flushed. The old double standard. It was fine for him to have sex, but not his little sister, right? She had to stay pure as snow. He frowned. The simile didn't work when he thought about it. Snow was full of all the crud floating in the air. It just looked pure.

Marc said something and Elsie laughed.

"Aw, their so cute."

Tom turned his head and saw a petite red haired girl peering around the other corner of the archway. Daria's little sister. Quinn. The queen of all things shallow and petty.

"Don't you think they're cute?" she asked.

He put his finger to his lips and said, "Shhhh, keep it down."

She ignored him. "Do you remember the first time you stayed up all night talking and laughing with a girl?"

He remembered.

It was in ninth grade during an over night party. Her name was Hiroko. Her father had moved his family to the United States while he helped to restructure some business his company had bought. She was brilliant and beautiful, spoke perfect English and laughed at his stupid itchy knee joke for counting to three in Japanese. He was at the stupid party because he had to go to keep up appearances. She was there because it was supposed to help her make more friends. While the other kids were playing spin the bottle or some other inane game, he wandered the house and found her sitting in the library reading manga she'd brought herself. She read some to him, mixing the actual story with explainations of the insane backstories of the many characters. They didn't stop talking until breakfast was served the next morning and their parents arrived to take them all home. They met once more at his parents' club, but a week after that meeting her family was back in Japan and regular e-mailing wasn't something on a fourteen-year old's mind.

"It's never happened to me, you know. I mean with a guy, not a girl. Could you imagine? Me? With a girl? Jeez. Not that I'm some kind of homophile, or something. I just don't like girls that way, you know."

He stared at her trying to will her to be quiet.

She sighed, "There was this one guy, though. Someone I could talk to, well, with, really. But he wasn't interested. Imagine that, not interested in me. Still, there's this part of me that missed him after he was gone. Like there was this little door in me that he could unlock, you know. And none of the guys I've dated at school have any idea how to get a key for it. I doubt they even see the door. Weird, right?" She sighed again. "Those two, though, they've both found it."

Tom heard Marc laugh and then Elsie joined him. He smiled then nodded at Quinn. He wondered if he had ever found another person's key. There was no way to be sure. He turned and to walk across the entry to the dining room to pass through the kitchen toward the back door.

"God," said Quinn, "it really sucks envying a rich girl for something other than her credit card."

Carefully, Tom tip-toed across the floor, it squeaked almost as bad as the stairs, and he really didn't want to interrupt Elsie and Marc. He didn't want to explain what he was doing awake and he didn't think he could pretend that he hadn't been spying on them.

After passing through the dining room and kitchen, he opened the back door, hoping it wouldn't make a noise, and slipped out into the early morning.

The morning was still and clear. The air was cold. Each breath felt like his lungs were getting stabbed. But it also felt good. It felt alive. The only thing he could hear was the waves rolling in and out on the beach. The tide was low so the beach looked huge.

He let the stairs from the deck down to the beach creak. No one to disturb outside. The sound was a nice addition to the even motion of the ocean. Each step that took him away from the house brought him more into the darkness where he could see more stars.

The stars were his favorite thing about coming to the cove for Christmas. During the summer, all the houses were lit all night long and it drowned out too many of the stars. In December, only one house was lit, his grandparents', and it wasn't enough to do anything to the stars. And he enjoyed watching the stars glitter in the darkness because they were always there, night after night, year after year.

He took the final step off the stairs and onto the beach, found the big dipper and headed north.

"You never told me you love me."

Tom turned around. Jane Lane. His girlfriend before Daria. Daria's best friend. Someone he had tried to stay friends with. He hoped he was still her friend.

"I know," he said, pulling his hands into his sleeves and tucking them into the kangaroo pocket on the front of his hoodie.

Her bright red lips smirked, "Cold?"

"Sometimes," he said. "You?"

"Yeah," she said, but she wasn't. She wore her usual black t-shirt with a red button-up over it, the black shorts with black tights, and huge boots.

She looked at him. It was more than that, though, her crystal blue eyes pierced him. Whenever she looked at him like that he had been sure that she knew everything about him. She could see everything he thought. All his hopes and dream. All his fears and worries. When she first looked at him that way, it unnerved him, but the longer he knew her the more he liked it. The more he wanted her to look at him like that. It felt like he was sharing himself with her without having to say a word.

He never knew what she was thinking when she looked at him like that. Probably that he was an idiot. She probably wondered why she was with a doofus like him. The money? He hoped it wasn't the money. He'd really liked her, for a while. She was funny and interesting and opinionated, but that just wasn't enough to keep things going with her. He wished he had been the one to tell her the truth about the kiss. Things still would have ended with her angry, but at least he would have been honest with her. He couldn't fool himself, though, he never would have told her. Don't admit that you've made a mistake unless your called on it. He'd learned that from his father. It was easier to hope for forgivness then apologize for it and if the other person wasn't willing to forgive, righteous indignation was next best option.

"Walk," said Jane, turning and heading down the beach.


"It's Christmas time."


"Great sky."

"The best I know of."

They walked together for a while, not talking.

Tom bent over and picked up a piece of driftwood, twisted and gnarled but smoothed by the sea, in his sleeved hand. "Bet you could do something great with enough of these," he said, showing it to her.

"Interesting, at least."

"Did I ever say 'thank you'?" he asked, dropping the driftwood.

"For what?"

"Being my first."

She laughed.


"Never thought you had to."

"But I should have."

"Maybe," she shrugged. "Doesn't matter now, does it."

"Don't know."

"You never really loved me."


He stopped. She took a few steps before she noticed he wasn't beside her anymore and stopped.

"I tried to," he said. "I wanted to, though. Really"

"I never expected you to."

"Yeah, but it was supposed to be about our love, wasn't it?"

She laughed again, "You aren't that naïve, are you? It's hardly ever about love, boy-o." She poked toward him. "It was about warmth and pleasure and that wonderful, delerious moment where you mind goes blank and nothing matters except that one instant when you feel everything."

"La petite mort."

"Yeah, if you want to get snobby about it and leave out all the fun sweaty parts."

Tom smiled, "I'd never leave that part out."


She started walking again. He had to hurry to catch up.

"Your a lucky guy," she said. "You got bragging rights."


"You know, you got number four on the great list of non-ménage sexual encounters."

"Number four?"

"You know," she held up four fingers, "bedding best friends."

He shook his head.

"Number three," she ticked off a finger, "sisters." She frowned, "Not sure if Quinn would go for you, but you can give Penny a try, if she ever heads back this way. Or Summer, but her kids might be around and that would be awkward."

"I'm not listening."

"Two, faternal twins. And the number one on the list for centuries and counting, identical twins." She thought for a moment and said, "Your out of luck with that one, unless my mom or Helen hid a twin away, soap opera style."

"You amuse yourself, don't you."

"Someone has to amuse me." She smiled at him.

"Do you think identical cousins would work?"


"Like that old TV show. Would identical cousins get me to number one?"

"Your a sick man, Tom Sloane."

He smiled, "Only when you're here to inspire me."

Silence washed over them like the waves washing over the beach.

"Do you love her?" she asked.

"I think so," he said. He frowned. "Do you think she loves me?"


"Me either."

"You asked her?"

"I've called."

"No answer."

He shook his head. "What should I do?"

"You can always drive down and visit."

"I can see it now, I get to the house and say, 'Hi Mister and Mrs. Morgendorffer, I'm all confused about my feelings after having sex with your oldest daughter and I thought it would be a good idea to talk it out with her.' That'll go over real well." He rolled his eyes.

He looked over where she was standing, but wasn't.


Tom moved up the beach away from the ocean and sat down on the cold ground. He watched the surf move in and out. In and out. He looked up at the sky. He easily spotted Orion. Orion, always running or always hunting depending on the story. Funny thing was that no matter what was said about him, he really just stayed in the same place, the world spinning beneath him.

In the sand he drew the stars then connected them. "The great hunter," he said then drew some more, "and his vicious weiner dogs on the hunt."


He recognized that sound. "Hey, Trent," he said, "how's the farm?"

"What?" asked Jane's older brother.

"Nothing. What're you doing out here?"

"You know. Thinking," he said.

"About what?"

"Songs." He paused then sang, "Chilled deep down to the bone / I'm so lost and alone / When I'm the only one home / 'Cause I got no where to roam... Hmmm... Something like that, anyway."

"I think you need to work on the refrain."

"You're probably right."

They both looked out at the surf.

Trent hummed a little then sang, "Heart's frozen / Yeah my heart's frozen / Frozen when you're not here."

"You ever hate me?"

"For what?"

"For what I did with Jane."

"Janey's got her own life. She knows how to handle it."

"You knew we were sleeping together though, right?"

"I figured."

"And you never wanted to kill me?"

"Maybe, for a minute, but that would have made her angry at me."


"I wouldn't want that. 'Sides, she can take care of herself. She learns fast when she blows it and doesn't screw up again. Why'd you ask?"

"Saw my sister with a guy, got angry at the thought of them messing around. You know, I don't like her that much, but something in me wanted to protect her."

"You ever hear what my mom says about butterflies?"

"They're easy to smash?"

"Close enough." He hummed the tune he was working on some more.

"You ever think about Daria?"


"You know she had a crush on you."

"I knew."

"You never did anything about it."

"She was sixteen and Janey's friend." He shrugged. "Janey needed a friend more than I needed a notch on my bed post."

"You ever wish--"

"Nah. I made the right choice."

"And me?"

"You got your own choices to make. I can't make 'em for you."

Tom thought about that while Trent hummed.

When there was only the sound of the surf Tom stood and said, "Thanks, Trent."

He tucked his hands back into the kangaroo pocket and headed down the beach toward his grandparents' house. By the time he was close enough to see the stairs, the horizon over the ocean had started to turn from black to gray. Tom never understood why people liked the sunrise. It turned the mysterious dark of night to washed out gray tones, sapping the world of its colors. It took several minutes before the sun was high enough for the colors to come back and they didn't look any more spectacular than they had the day before.

On the stairs sat the young woman with big round glasses, a dark green jacket, and auburn hair.

"I love you," he told her.

"That's quite the 'hello' you have there," she said.

"And that's why I never told you before." He sat down next to her feet.

"What do you want me to say?"

"I want you to say that you love me."

"More than you want me to be honest with you?"

He sighed, stood up, and turned to face her. "Why'd you come over that night?"

"To visit with you. We're trying to be friends."

"Why'd you kiss me?"

She looked down at the stair beneath her feet and said, "I don't know."

He frowned at her.

"I really don't know," she said, looking at him again.

"How can you not know?" he asked.

She looked in his eyes for a bit before she said, "I only know what you know."

"What the hell does that mean?" he asked, feeling flustered and sitting down, hard, next to her booted feet.

"Come on, Tom, your not stupid," she said. "None of us are really here."

He turned to look up at her and said, "So, you're telling me that I'm crazy."

She smiled her little smile, "You don't need a figment of your imagination to tell you that."

He turned to look out at the brightening sky.

"It's not fair," he said.


"Everyone who was here tonight is on your side."

"Quinn's never on my side," she said.

"Maybe, but she's your sister."

"You could have talked to Elsie."

"What would she know? She barely knew you. She barely knew Jane. Hell, she barely knows me."

The was a pause before Daria, blocking his view of the surf, said, "Maybe that's why it's only us."

"I don't understand."

"You didn't exactly take me or Jane into your world."

"I thought you didn't want to be part of my stuck-up, high society, bullshit world?"

"I didn't want to be part your parents' world," she said. "You never invited me into your world."

Tom opened his mouth, ready to argue, then snapped it shut. She was right. He put himself in her world and choose to keep her away from his. He had felt comfortable there, welcomed. He always worried about what his friends from Fielding would have said and done if he'd introduced Jane or Daria to them.

"You don't even know how those guys would have reacted," she said. "Albee probably would have loved Jane while he was going through that Cure phase. I think I'd have gotten along well enough with Teri and Terry, sounds like we enjoyed some of the same books, even if they were a little more obsessive than me."

"A little?" Tom chuckled. "Those two are insanly obssessive when it comes to the classics of science fiction." He stopped then asked, "How do you know this?"

She shrugged, "I know what you know. I'm just not afraid to say it."

"You never are."

"It's a gift," she said.

"It is," he said, looking past her, out over the ocean at the sliver of the sun that just started to show. "You know, we really need to talk."

"Isn't that what we're doing now?"

He stood and said, "I mean I need to talk to you." He started walking up the stairs. "Really talk to you. The actual you." He didn't look back until he was at the door to the house. The ocean rolled in and out and the beach was clear.

Inspired by and written under the influence of "Overkill" by Colin Hay.
Title ripped off from the second season opener of Scrubs, "My Overkill," which features the song in its opening.