Dye! Dye! My Darling
Original screenplay by
"Dye! Dye! My Darling" was the final episode of Daria season 4. It was preceded by "Fire!" which foreshadowed some of the major events of this story, and is followed by "Is It Fall Yet?". All dialogue in the following noveliation was taken directly from Glenn's screenplay, but some of the action and all the "thoughts" are my own additions.
The tiger, with the inborn instinct of a predator who knows he is being watched, sat as still as a rock on a windless day. Only his eyes moved, the slow, calculated blink of the cat.
Jane stood with a similar statutory aspect. She returned the blink, imagining herself from the tiger's eyes, becoming one with the tiger - or as one as she could become with the bars in the way. If only I could get close to one in the wild, she thought. That's what's needed here. Of course, I'd probably finish the experience as breakfast. Forget the bars. Forget the zoo. I am the tiger. His eyes are mine... his claws are mine... his stripes color my hair... the Lady, or the Tiger...
Good enough. She had captured the right feeling. She would be able to slip into it again when needed.
"Okay?" asked Trent from just over her shoulder.
* * * * *
On the way home, Jane was fairly satisfied that she had everything worked out. "Thanks for the company, Trent," she said to her brother.
"Hey, no problem," Trent said easily. "But why didn't you ask Tom? Or Daria?"
Jane frowned slightly. There were a number of reasons she could give, but to tell the whole story would open up a can of worms she didn't really want to face at the moment. Besides, there was a good reason that was also true, which was that dividing her time between Daria and Tom had left Trent with a really unfairly small piece of the pie. "You and I never go for rides anymore," she said. "We need to go for more rides."
"Mm," Trent responded eloquently. "Why'd you need to see the tiger again?"
Again. Like she'd given him any reason in the first place. "I told you, it's a surprise. You'll find out when everyone else does."
The car was silent for a moment.
"What do you mean, 'mm'?" Jane asked suddenly.
"I didn't say 'mm',"
"Yes you did -"
"No I didn't."
Jane looked straight ahead. "Mm..."
* * * * *
The next morning, just as an exhausted Jane Lane was dropping into bed with her latest masterpiece completed, a flurry of activity completely unknown to her took place a few blocks down the street. Helen Morgendorffer flew into her kitchen in a total frenzy. Those who knew Helen would have instantly recognized her flagrant disregard for the pre-dawn hush as standard operating procedure for the workaholic attorney, but this went slightly beyond even her usual behavior.
"Sorry, can't stop for breakfast," she announced as she charged about the room and went for the refrigerator for a triple-caffeinated "Blast-Me" cola. "Must get my files together before the seven AM. I'm sorry, this is the biggest case I've ever had!!"
Steeling herself for the inevitable backlash from her family, Helen glared at the kitchen table - to find it empty.
"Oh," she said self-consciously, checking her watch. "It's five in the morning. Why would anyone be up?" She paused for reflection. "Now who am I talking to? Get it together, Morgendorffer!"
Grabbing her briefcase, Helen left the house with the full knowledge that she'd only be seeing the sun through her office window that day.
* * * * *
At the far more civilized hour of three in the afternoon, Daria Morgendorffer rang the bell at the Lane residence. She was more than a little curious about Jane's phone call, promising a big surprise and also giving notice that Tom would also be there. Daria felt a little uncomfortable about that. After all of Trent's talk about how "guys can always tell when another guy is into someone" she was beginning to wonder whether that strange warmth she had started to feel when Tom walked into the room might not be an indication of... something. But it was best not to dwell on such thoughts.
Surprisingly, Trent answered the door. He usually wasn't awake at that time of day. Come to think of it, any time of day stood at best a fifty-fifty chance of finding Trent out of bed. "Hey, Daria," he greeted her.
"Hey, Trent," Daria said in return. It was a relief to be able to be around Trent without those irritating hormones flipping her out the way they used to. Sure, he was still a "cute guy", to use Quinn's terminology, but that was all.
"Janey's upstairs with Tom," Trent as he stepped aside to let her in.
"Thanks." Daria headed up the stairs to Jane's room, following the sound of rock music through her mostly closed door.
She knocked twice. "Hello?"
There was no answer. Jane must be sitting too close to the stereo. Daria pushed the door open gently, to find that Jane was in fact standing rather close to the stereo, and even closer to Tom - close enough, in fact, to be leaving lipstick marks on his face.
"Oh!" Daria said, unable to think of anything else.
"Oops," said Tom as he pulled away from Jane. He didn't seem embarrassed.
"Oy," Jane muttered. She didn't seem embarrassed either, just a little peeved at having been interrupted. She killed the music, which left the room in a rather uncomfortable silence.
"Sorry about that," Daria said lamely. It was odd how she'd never actually seen Jane and Tom kiss until that moment. Of course they did it, they probably did a few other things too - but that was another thing that was best not to dwell upon.
Jane shrugged it off. "No biggie. You had to learn about kissing sometime."
Daria frowned inwardly, though her outward expression didn't change. That remark had hit a little to close to the bone.
Tom's voice interrupted her thoughts. "I saw Jane's latest work, and I just got carried away by the talent."
Daria's head was suddenly filled with a very definite image of Tom reading one of her stories and getting similarly carried away. In the same instant, she ejected the thought forcefully from her mind and silently admonished herself for having had it in the first place.
Jane was turning her easel around. "Ta-da!" she announced proudly.
Daria blinked. It was a self-portrait, rather more realistically done than most of Jane's work. Her face emerged from a surround of green foliage, angular and catlike, with her brows lowered in a predatory glare and her lip curled just slightly in a disdainful sneer. The most remarkable feature in the picture, however, was her hair. It was tiger-striped, blonde on black. Truth be told, it was interesting, but Daria wasn't sure whether she liked what she saw. That look was just a little too angry and menacing, and seemed personally directed at her. Of course, it wasn't, but she couldn't shake the feeling.
"Um, very nice," she temporized. "Or is it a cry for help?"
"I'd have to go with... both," Tom offered.
"Don't you get it?" Jane asked. "The Lady... or the Tiger? Now you don't have to choose!"
"Does this mean you'll be ordering the pizza with entrails?" Daria asked.
"This is going to be my new look," Jane said. "And you're assisting in the procedure."
Daria frowned slightly. This did not bode well.
* * * * *
Later that evening, Daria found herself doing something she never imagined she'd be doing upon awakening that morning. She was looking at hair-coloring products in the drugstore. How can there be so many? she wondered. How many different blondes could possibly exist?
Jane read off the first few boxes. "Golden Heather Blonde, Dewy Cornfield Blonde, April Wheat Blonde... I just want to bleach my hair, not start a freaking farm!"
"Well, I'm looking for 'Blonde as a Bat' but so far no luck." Daria wondered for the eighteenth time why Jane was so keen on having her help in particular. She had awful visions in her head about Jane's hair dropping out in clumps, leaving only sickly pale green tufts behind in a blistering scalp. While it sounded like something Jane would be keen to put on canvas, Daria didn't think she'd want it to be a self-portrait. "I bet for twenty bucks and a bag of doughnuts that girl behind the counter would come over to your house and help you with this."
Jane rolled her eyes. "You know, Daria, not everyone in the world conducts themselves by the same ruthlessly mercenary principles as you and your family"
"That's why I threw in the donuts. Give the deal a personal touch."
"And if you tell me one more time that you don't want to do this," Jane said, raising a box threateningly, "I'll hit you over the head with this bottle of Peaceful Sunrise Blonde."
"You know I have no aptitude for this sort of thing," Daria insisted. "Dyeing hair, painting toenails -"
"Look, Daria, this is the kind of activity that teen girls do together to cement their friendships. Don't you want to cement our friendship?"
I wasn't aware we needed it, Daria thought as she looked at the frighteningly fake-looking hair model on the box of Snowy White Blonde that Jane had just passed to her. "I'd probably do better with actual cement."
Jane placed her hands on her hips. "Methinks thou doth protesteth too much."
"Come on, why don't you want to help me, really?"
What's she getting at? Daria thought with no little concern. Jane was acting very oddly over the whole thing, and Daria was beginning to wonder why. "I just told you: I'm afraid I'll screw it up."
"H'okay... you're worried about making me look bad."
"What's the matter with you?" Daria asked peevishly. There were implications in Jane's tone that she didn't like one bit.
"Nothing's the matter with me," Jane replied with faux levity. "Just grateful for your concern, that's all."
"Look," Daria said with a frown, "I'll help you do your damn hair, okay? Just pick a blonde and let's go with it, all right?"
"Now you're talking!" Jane said with enthusiasm, totally oblivious to Daria's irritation. She took a close look at yet another box. "Autumn Barley Blonde? I'm going to have to get me a tractor."
* * * * *
An hour later, Daria felt her head begin to swim with the fumes rising from the Flaxen Sunflower Blonde they had eventually ended up with. She was amazed that the noxious goo wasn't actively corroding its way through the bowl. Even with the extra-strength dual-ply kitchen gloves she had on, she hesitated to touch it with her hands. More to the point, she felt more and more apprehensive about actually applying the stuff to her best friend's hair. There was no way this would possibly work out all right in the end.
"This stuff stinks," Daria observed as the odor threatened to totally overwhelm the usual mildewy tang of the Lane kitchen. "Why can't they just mix it before they put it in the bottle?"
Jane shrugged slightly. "Because the vapors would build up and it would explode."
"Oh. Well, that sounds like something I'd want seeping into my scalp."
"Come on, Daria, get going," Jane said impatiently. "'We have nothing to fear but fear itself.'"
"I'm sure F.D.R. had teen girl hairstyles in mind when he made that speech." Daria considered the dire consequences of what was to take place and decided to try one last time to talk Jane out of it. It meant playing a card she'd really wanted to use only as an absolute last resort - and even then, it might be better avoided. "You know," she said with some hesitation, "one phone call and I could have my sister over here with her little fashion fiends to do this job the way it should be done."
Jane lifted an imaginary phone to her ear. "Hello, Quinn? It's me, Daria. Can you help me make my friend look pretty?"
So much for the last resort. "All right, you bitch. What do I do?"
"Let's see," Jane said, putting her fingers together, "this is very complicated. Identify and isolate a target tress, immobilize, then initiate application."
"Grab a hunk of hair and start painting!"
Daria grabbed a hunk of hair, took a deep breath (instantly regretting it as the toxic vapors seeped hideously into her lungs) and started painting.
"What do you think?" Jane asked, watching out of the corner of her eye. "It's not so hard."
"Don't move. Don't even talk. The slightest tremor of your head could be disastrous." Daria bit off the statement that it would very likely be disastrous anyway.
"Oh, come on, it's just hair," Jane insisted.
"That's what Samson said." Daria took a second lock, having no idea if it was the right one to do next, and continued striping. There was something else she wanted to talk about, now that Jane was very definitely in a position where she couldn't walk away. "What did you mean before?"
"What do you mean, what did I mean?"
"All that hinting around about the dire reasons I didn't want to help you with this."
"Dire. 'Cause you're dyeing my hair. I get it."
"Still waiting." There was no way Daria was going to let Jane just back away from this one.
"Oh, hell, I didn't mean anything," Jane said lightly. I just thought it was odd that you were so resistant to making me look even cooler than I already do. I thought, you know, maybe you were a little jealous of me and Tom and you felt like you had to -"
"Just a teensy little bit," Jane clarified, "and it's okay. Believe me, I'm sure if I were in your position -"
"What position? What are you talking about?" Daria felt her temper seriously being to rise. "How can you accuse me of being jealous of you and Tom?"
"Hey, are we doing the hair here or not?"
Daria resumed striping, somehow even less in the mood for it that she'd been before.
"I just mean the way you're always 'accidentally' barging in on us and just happening to find yourself alone with him." Jane completely missed Daria's vicious scowl at these words. "I know you don't mean anything by it, so don't worry about it."
"Don't worry about it?! You accuse me of having some kind of designs on your boyfriend and you tell me don't worry about it?"
"Hair!" Jane barked.
Daria took a good fistful and tugged it straight with perhaps a bit more energy than was strictly required for the operation.
"Ow!" Jane yelped.
"Sorry," Daria said. She wasn't.
"Maybe we'd better talk about this later," Jane said, apparently sensing that she'd crossed a line that perhaps she shouldn't have - or perhaps she was becoming aware that pissing off someone who held a gallon of peroxide in such close proximity to her hair wasn't such a good idea.
"There's nothing to talk about," Daria insisted. "You're delusional."
"Oh, well, in that case I can just talk to myself about it."
Daria finished the job with even more distaste than she had ever imagined. She was beginning to seriously not care whether Jane would suffer permanent chemical burns on her scalp.
* * * * *
"Thomas Jefferson. Philosopher. Inventor. President... and keeper of one saucy journal! The Declaration of In My Pants, tonight, on Sick-Sad-World!"
Daria faced her favorite TV program with a rigidly stony expression, deliberately not looking at the showercap-topped Jane Lane sitting next to her on the sofa. Her anger had boiled down into a hard little knot just below her stomach, enough to give her a bit of indigestion and keep her in a foul mood. It would have been easy enough to lose if she just let it go away, but for the moment Daria wanted to feel angry. As long as she could concentrate on how out-of-line Jane had been to accuse her of petty jealousy, she could ignore the annoying fact that on some level, Jane was right.
"So, that wasn't so difficult, was it?" Jane asked.
"Which part?" Daria responded. "The hair coloring or the accusation of betrayal?"
Jane sighed with exasperation. "Oh, Daria, look, forget it. I imagined the whole thing."
"That's right," Daria said, the knot in her gut twisting a bit.
"Okay!" Jane exclaimed as if everything was now all right. "Now, on to more important stuff."
Jane pulled the shower cap off and revealed the results of Daria's work. She looked like a tiger, all right - a tiger that had just undergone a few major rounds of intensive chemotherapy. Far from the fierce and wild image from her painting, Jane's hair had achieved a look that one ordinarily only sees in NASA photos of volcanically active moons. It was ragged, blotchy, and irregular. It wasn't actually falling out, but it might have been a kindness if it did.
"Am I striped yet?" Jane asked nonchalantly.
The knot in Daria's stomach had vanished and been replaced by a cluster of wriggling snakes. "Um..." she said, desperately trying to maintain an outward calm, "no, not quite yet."
"Is anything happening up there?" Jane tried to look upwards at her own hair.
Daria was struck by a sudden and very urgent need to be very far away. "Uh, you know, I think I should probably get home..."
"Aw, come on," Jane said, making her way to the mirror. "Don't you want to stick around for the fun?"
"Come on, Daria, you must want to see - AAAH!" Jane caught the first look at her wretched hair in the mirror. "What did you do to me??"
"I told you I was no good at this!"
"Can't you paint a lousy stripe??"
"I don't... I..." Daria actually trembled. She knew it was going to turn out bad, and she knew Jane probably wouldn't like it, but she hadn't been prepared for actual rage. Surely Jane must have realized it wasn't going to work! What else had Daria been protesting about all that time? She tried to gather her thoughts, but didn't get the chance.
"You did this on purpose!" Jane shouted, fists clenched in fury. "To take Tom away from me!"
"What??" Daria asked, utterly stunned. She could hardly believe what she was hearing.
"Get out of here, Daria," Jane ordered in a voice that was suddenly dangerously low.
"Let me fix it!" Daria offered without thinking. She had no idea what would fix it.
"I don't know!" Daria felt close to tears for the first time since she'd hit her teen years.
"Just... get... OUT!"
Daria turned and walked slowly and sadly from the house, holding the moisture in her eyes through sheer force of will. How the hell had this happened?
Jane stewed in her own anger. She may not have had the hair for it, but she certainly felt like she could emulate a tiger in just about every other way at the moment, most particularly running down something and violently ripping its belly open. At least Trent had been able to drive her back to the drugstore for a bottle of black dye - she didn't trust herself behind the wheel of a car at the moment. And she had been able to hide pretty much all of her hair under the cap she'd dug out of her dad's closet.
"Look, you're going to have to go into the drugstore and get the dye," she told Trent as they cruised down the street. "Just get anything black. And nothing named after a crop, okay?"
"Sure," Trent said easily. "Don't worry. It'll be cool."
"I could kill Daria."
"Whoa," Trent exclaimed. "Why?"
"I'm telling you, she wanted to screw up my hair," Jane seethed. "Anyone with the least bit of painting experience couldn't possibly do that bad a job by accident."
"I didn't know she paints," Trent said quietly.
"Huh?" Jane said. "Oh, she doesn't."
"Then why did she think she could do your hair?"
Jane started to feel a slight sinking in her stomach. "Well... she didn't." Jane thought back a bit on the events of the day. Hadn't Daria in fact been doing everything in her power to talk Jane out of it? Hadn't she in turn pulled out all the stops to see to it that Daria had no real choice? "Actually, I kind of made her..."
"Why'd you do that?" Trent asked.
Jane fell silent. Her rage had melted away, replaced by a strong sense of shame and guilt. She glanced over at Trent, who obviously wasn't actually waiting for an answer. Good thing, too, because Jane really didn't have one.
* * * * *
Daria decided to show up at Jane's house the next morning to walk to school together, perhaps work through this latest crisis, but only silence answered the ring of the doorbell. When Jane failed to appear in their first class, Daria tried the phone, and was met with similar results.
She felt miserable. Obviously this was about more than hair - it had already occurred to Daria that it would be a simple matter for Jane to obtain some black dye and fix the job, and so Jane must have figured it out as well. The fact that she wasn't answering her door or her phone must have meant she was still peeved. Daria couldn't figure out what the hell she'd done wrong. All right, if she was going to go ahead and be brutally honest with herself, she found Tom attractive. And okay, she had thought about what it might be like to kiss him. She had tried to hide those feelings even from herself, but there was always a chance that Jane had somehow picked up on it and was genuinely worried. She would just have to hide them better, that was all. But what difference did it make if Jane wouldn't even come out of the house?
For that matter, what guarantee did Daria have that Jane was even there? It wasn't impossible to imagine that she might have dashed off somewhere and wouldn't come back until she was good and ready. No, that was stupid. It wasn't like there was any permanent damage done. Surely Jane would see that.
But then, where the hell was she?
"Hey, Daria," came a familiar voice from behind her. It was Jodie Landon. "Where's Jane?"
"Mm, I don't know, maybe sick or something," Daria mumbled. She didn't dare look in Jodie's direction, knowing from experience that even minor lies tended to show on her face like a neon sign.
"Really? That's too bad. She had some big surprise she was going to unveil today. She kept talking about the lady or the tiger."
Daria's mood sank a trifle lower. She hadn't realized that Jane had already told people about her "new look". Obviously, she'd expected it to work. Obviously, Daria had let her down. "Um... the tiger turned out to be more of a penguin with eczema."
"What?" Jodie asked, confused.
"All right then," said another familiar but far more irritating voice. Daria glanced over her shoulder, and realized that her continuing streak of poor luck had resulted in her now crossing paths with her sister and the Fashion Fiends. Sandi Griffin consulted her notebook as the club listened intently. "Our ongoing evaluation of new blushes continues this afternoon at Quinn's house with a roundtable discussion of blush strategy and philosophy."
"I love philosophy..." Tiffany drawled.
"It's so good of you to have us over for this, Quinn!" Stacy enthused.
Oh God, no, Daria thought. She had forgotten all about the blush-a-thon. Quinn had warned her to stay away, ostensibly out of concern for Daria's lack of interest, but of course mostly to keep up the charade about Daria not actually being related to her in any way.
"Well, you know what I tell myself," Quinn said in her annoyingly perky voice. "'Quinn, if not you, who? If not now, when?'"
"If not leave, puke," Daria concluded. If nothing else, this gave her an excuse to not talk to Jodie anymore. Not that there was much wrong with Jodie, she just didn't want to talk to anyone. Well, even that wasn't strictly true; she wanted to talk to someone, and sort out all the weirdness in her head. But someone wasn't Jodie.
"When you talk to Jane, tell her I hope she feels better," Jodie said as Daria shuffled off.
"You mean if I talk to her." Daria realized she'd just said too much, if Jodie's suddenly questioning look meant anything. But it was too late to take it back, so she simply continued down the hall toward O'Neill's class.
* * * * *
"Look, our entire strategy depends on you analyzing those printouts before the weekend," Helen barked into the phone, unable to believe how obtuse paralegals could be sometimes. Couldn't anyone besides herself understand that this was the biggest and most important case the firm had ever had? "I don't care if your mother's getting married!" she shouted in response the the little twerp's latest excuse. "I don't care if your mother's getting executed! Do you understand?!"
The other line rang, and Marianne dutifully snatched it up on the first ring. The last seven phone calls had only served to put Helen in a progressively worse mood, and Marianne didn't want to think about what else might be in store, but there was certainly no way she could just let the voicemail get it. "Hello?" she asked, a bit of panic in her voice.
"Um, Marianne? This is Daria Morgendorffer. Is my mother available?"
Marianne sighed inwardly with relief. Jake or Quinn, either one of those might have been disastrous. Daria, on the other hand, recognized logic.
"What?" Helen said, still ranting at the other line. "That's not a nice thing to say about an eighty-year-old?"
"Um, Daria, is it very important?" Marianne asked, hoping against hope that it wasn't. "This isn't a great time..."
"Well, if your mother's 80, what the hell is she doing dragging some poor bastard to the altar?! Ugh!!"
"Um, no," Daria said, clearly having caught the tone of her mother's voice in the background, if not the words. "I'll call back. Thanks."
Daria hung up the phone. She'd tried to call Jane as soon as she'd gotten home, but again there had been no answer. She wasn't sure exactly what had made her call her mother next, or for that matter, what she might have said had Helen actually been available. "Hi Mom. No, there's no emergency, it's just that Jane's upset with me and I hoped you could help." The words sounded absolutely pathetic in her head. Daria was suddenly glad that she hadn't gotten through.
But there was still the essential problem, and suddenly Daria felt a genuine touch of fear. Suppose, despite the fact that it sounded melodramatic, that there really was something wrong with Jane? Really wrong? Daria wondered for a moment if she should just head over and access her friend's house through the back door with the busted lock, but that ran the risk of starting another fight, an even worse one. Before she did that, she'd try something less drastic.
She dialed Tom's number, wondering idly when she had committed it to memory. It rang twice before Tom picked up.
"Hello?" he asked.
"Tom?" Daria said. She felt that strange warmth again, and pointedly ignored it. The guy has a nice voice, Daria thought. So the hell what? Elton John has a nice voice too, that doesn't mean I'm attracted to him in any way.
"Daria? To what do I owe the pleasure?"
Daria could hear the smile in his voice. He had a cute smile. She was really beginning to despise her stupid adolescent hormonal reactions. "Have you heard from Jane?" she asked, determined to keep the conversation on the business at hand. Hide her feelings. It was what she was best at.
"Sort of," Tom said, the smile dropping from his voice like a rock. "Why?"
"It's about that striping job..." Daria said.
"Yeah. I really, um... kind of botched it big-time, and she didn't come to school, and she's not answering the phone, so I just wanted to make sure she's all right."
"Well, she was all right enough to call me late last night," Tom replied, "yelling stuff I didn't understand and making freaky accusations."
"Oh..." Daria said, feeling the guilt rise again.
"I'm really getting tired of this, Daria, you know? It's like we talked about at the parade."
If there was one thing that Daria definitely didn't want to think about, it was the Homecoming parade. She didn't need to be reminded of the first time she'd looked at Tom and realized.. well, realized him at all, really. "I think I'm going to go over there and see how she's doing," she said quickly.
"Oh. Oh, yeah. Good idea."
"Yeah. Gotta go. Bye." Daria hung up before she could say anything else that was completely inarticulate and asinine.
Meanwhile, Tom listened to the dial tone, lost in his own thoughts. "Bye," he said softly.
* * * * *
Upon arrival at Jane's house, Daria toyed briefly with the idea of simply breaking in, but decided to give Jane a last chance at answering the door herself. She rang the bell.
After a moment, Jane answered. Daria inwardly sighed with relief. Her hair looked completely normal, none the worse for wear. Perhaps a shade darker than it had been, but not so anyone would notice.
"I figured you'd turn up sooner or later," Jane said.
Daria decided not to mention the two previous times she'd rung the bell or the four phone calls she'd made that day. "Hey," she said simply. "Your hair looks okay."
"Yeah, I dyed it back" Jane replied with a small shrug. "I'll pass for human."
"I'm really sorry," Daria said, though that somehow didn't sound quite right, as she didn't think she deserved all the blame. "I warned you," she added. No, now it sounded like she was trying to make Jane take all the blame. "That doesn't make it any better," she clarified. "I'm sorry. I feel kind of awkward."
"Really?" Jane replied with a raised eyebrow. "I hadn't noticed."
They headed into the living room, where Daria noticed the cloying scent of hair dye still lingering in the air. It made her feel slightly sick, but that was something she could ignore. "So if you look okay, then why didn't you come to school? Why didn't you answer the phone?"
"To be honest," Jane replied, "I've been feeling kind of overwhelmed lately, and after the hair thing and all, I figured I'd give myself a mental health day."
"Overwhelmed?" Daria echoed. "Why?"
"Why do you think?"
"I don't know." Daria sat on the couch. "I didn't screw your hair up on purpose. I would never do that."
"Yeah, I know."
Daria felt a bit of welcome relief. She was glad Jane believed her on that point, anyway. Maybe they could just get past it and life could go on.
"What about that other thing I said?" Jane asked.
"What thing?" Daria didn't feel like talking it out anymore, she just wanted things to be as they were. She was ready to forgive, forget, move on. "Um, you were just upset."
"What about it, Daria?"
"What?" I've already forgiven you, she thought. She looked closer at Jane's eyes, and saw she wasn't looking for forgiveness. She was looking for answers. Then the penny dropped. "Tom? Me, try to take Tom away from you? Are you crazy?"
"Okay, maybe not trying to steal him or anything. But what's going on with you two?"
"What do you mean? Nothing!" Daria couldn't believe this was happening. Arguing over boys was something Quinn did with her friends, it wasn't something that came between her and Jane! Of course, the fact was that she did feel a certain attraction to Tom, but that was perfectly normal and nothing for Jane to be upset about. Tom was a cute guy, well-read, intelligent, mannerly, charming - Daria stopped that line of thought before it went any further. "I mean, okay, I don't hate him so much anymore, but that's not exactly an affair to remember."
"So you don't want to go out with him?"
"Of course not," Daria said with conviction. Of course she didn't. She didn't "go out" with guys, that just wasn't her thing. And any attraction she felt for Tom was irrelevant, because it was buried deep down and that was where it was going to stay.
"And you've never... made out or anything?"
"Come on!" Daria exclaimed. This was getting a little ridiculous!
"I know! I'm sorry!"
Daria faced Jane directly. "Can you picture me making out with anyone?" she asked. "Ever?"
Jane paused for a moment to consider that. "Can I stop short of your wedding night?" she asked lightly. Then she "Okay. Well, then, hair apology accepted! Life goes on."
"Do you want to get some more Busy Barnyard Blonde and try again?" Daria asked, hoping earnestly for a negative.
Jane looked at her with raised eyebrows. "Have you gone completely, utterly mad?"
* * * * *
The rest of the evening at Jane's was spent talking about trivial concerns, anything under the sun besides hair treatments and boyfriends. Daria felt the past few days' tension seep gradually out of her, letting them go with relief as she chatted the night away with her best friend. Eventually, Jane had pleaded tired, having not had much sleep the night before, and Daria made her way home.
Only to find Tom's car parked in front of her house.
"Hey," Tom said with a smile.
"What are you doing here?" Daria asked a little peevishly. She finally felt that everything was properly sorted out, and the last thing she needed was a reminder that it really wasn't.
"I wanted to talk to you," Tom said. "Your sister said you weren't home so I figured I'd wait out here."
"Do you want to come in?" Daria asked. She somehow didn't feel entirely comfortable being alone with Tom. Especially since that annoying warm feeling was on her again.
"No!" Tom said, feigning terror. "There are girls in there, rubbing stuff on each other's cheeks and making animal noises. I got kind of scared."
"That's just the opening rites of the Blushathon," Daria said. She'd forgotten about it. Well, she couldn't blame Tom for wanting to stay away from that. "At least you got out before the rhythmic chanting."
"Oh, yeah, I think I saw that on the Discovery Channel. Why don't you get in the car?"
No way, Daria thought. But what was there to be afraid of? She sure as hell wasn't going to do anything inappropriate, and it Tom tried anything at all she'd break his ribs. She opened the door and slipped into the passenger seat, sitting as far away as possible without making it look obvious that she was doing so. "Did you want to talk about Jane?" she asked. He'd better, she thought.
"Nope," he said.
Daria's heart pounded. She tried to make it stop, then realized that was a bad idea, and just tried to make it slow down and do its work a little more quietly. Dammit, why the hell had Tom put on that cologne? "Oh," she said in what she hoped was a normal tone of voice. "Then... what?"
"About our situation," he said vaguely.
"I don't know what you mean. We have no situation." And that's the way it's going to stay. "Leave me alone, I gotta go." Daria made for the door.
"Wait," Tom said, laying a hand briefly on her shoulder. "Why is everyone so mad at me?"
Daria ignored that her shoulder seemed to tingle where he'd touched it. "Why?" she asked incredulously. "Why? Because I moved to this town and I knew immediately I'd be a total outcast. And in the one moment of good luck I've had in my entire life, I met another outcast who I could really be friends with and not have to feel completely alone." She felt her pent-up nervous energy fueling what was really a rather unfair rant in Tom's direction, but she couldn't stop. "And then you came along and screwed the whole thing up!"
"All I did was meet a girl I thought was cool," Tom insisted, "and I went out with her for a while. We started to get bored with each other. It happens all the time. It's nobody's fault."
"Oh yeah?" Daria asked, still on a bit of a rush. "Would you still be bored with her if I weren't around?"
"Probably," Tom shrugged. "And more to the point, she'd be bored with me. It's got nothing to do with you."
"Good!" Daria said firmly. "Because I'm not interested in you, and I'd be stabbing my friend in the back if I even considered it."
"Exactly," Tom agreed. "And what kind of a jerk would that make me?"
"All right then."
Suddenly Tom's hands were on her shoulders and his lips were right in front of her. Even more suddenly, Daria moved forward to meet him, and found herself very definitely kissing him. Wow, she thought through the haze of rapidly-firing nerve endings and rushing endorphins, it's even better than I imagined...
Oh God. This was her best friend's boyfriend. And she wasn't breaking his ribs, she was kissing him back.
Daria's eyes popped open (when had she closed them?) and she got a glimpse of Tom's face, closer than she had ever seen it before, before she pulled quickly away. "Dammit!" she yelled, wishing for something solid to bash her head against. "Dammit, dammit, dammit!"
"I liked it too," Tom said quietly.
"That's not funny!"
Daria looked into his eyes. Big mistake.
She moved in on him this time, and he took her up on it. The second kiss was even better than the first. Daria let no rational thought enter her mind this time, and simply wondered at the sensation, so simple and yet so intoxicating. She even dared to slip her arms around him, and for the briefest of moments enjoyed something that she had once thought so alien to herself, a moment of intimacy with a man. She even wanted to draw him closer, feel him next to her...
Then she remembered Jane again.
Tom pulled away at the same moment she did, and they looked at each other with shocked expressions. Then they both stared out the windshield.
"That was definitely not funny," Tom said.
Daria felt a rising panic. To spend another moment in the car invited disaster of epic proportions - not that she hadn't already screwed up fairly royally. "I gotta go!" she exclaimed, and ran from the car, into her house, past the Fashion Club without hearing a word of their discussion, into her room behind a slammed door.
Her lips were still tingling an hour later.
Daria slept only in short, fitful snatches that night. The next morning found her mind in utter turmoil, her emotions jumbled in ways that she had never fathomed. All night she had been torturing herself thinking about what she'd done to Jane, the betrayal of trust, the blatant disregard for their friendship. Then she would suddenly think about how Tom felt in her arms, and that would stir her feelings all over again, and make her long for just one more kiss even though she knew how wrong it would be. The sound of birds chirping outside her window as the sun came up seemed abominable, as if they were daring to be cheerful in the face of her complete misery.
She toyed briefly with the idea of skipping school for the day. Her mother had already left for work, Daria had heard the car drive away at five-thirty. Her father was easy enough to fool if she wanted to play sick. But, in the end, that would just be postponing the inevitable. She couldn't just let this fester. One way or another, she would have to tell Jane. Even if it weren't simply the right thing to do, Daria knew there was no way she could keep this hidden. She had never been any good at lying.
She didn't want to admit it even to herself, but what she really wanted was for someone to hug her and tell her everything would be all right.
When her alarm finally sounded, Daria got out of her rumpled bed and made her way down the stairs, zombielike and numb. The emotional roller coaster of the previous night had left her almost completely drained and exhausted, but she still felt incapable of sleep. She walked trancelike into the kitchen, where her father was involved in the newspaper.
"They're going to make it illegal to shoot squirrels?" Jake ranted at the paper. "Damn it, what kind of town is this? Oh, hey, kiddo! How's it going? Still got a little stardust in your eyes, eh? You can't drown them, either?! Damn it! Oh my gosh! Let's finish this later, okay, Daria?"
Daria heard it all without listening to a word or moving a muscle. She sensed that her father had left the kitchen, but gave no outward sign. Nor did she make any indication that she noticed Quinn coming in at the same moment.
"Oh yeah, Daria?" Quinn said. "You probably want to stay away from the house this afternoon. The Fashion Club is entering the final phase of our blush evaluation and things could get heated and even if they don't, I'm just afraid you'd find the whole thing terribly tedious and I'd hate to see you bored like that. Okay? Thanks! Daria...? Did you hear me?"
Daria looked up. "Is Mom around?" she asked.
"I need to talk to Mom." The words were out before she realized the truth of them. She did need to talk to her mom. Very much.
"Good luck," Quinn said with a roll of her eyes. "She's only been working 18-hour days at that job of hers."
Dammit. Quinn was right. Well, any port in a storm... "If your best friend were going out with someone and you kissed him, would you tell her?" Daria regretted having asked before she finished saying the word "If".
"Are you crazy?" Quinn asked incredulously. "Why would I do that? God, Daria, you've got to lay off all those books before it's too late!"
Quinn left the kitchen without another word. The realization that Quinn had obviously figured Daria was speaking hypothetically didn't do anything for her mood. There was nothing for it; Daria was going to have to figure this one out on her own.
* * * * *
Jane arrived at school feeling better than she had in days. Her hair was back to normal, and she was beginning to wonder why she'd ever considered the whole striping thing in the first place. Even if it had come out right, it really wouldn't have worked for her. Maybe a navel piercing would be a better idea. She could ask Daria to go along with her as "the voice of experience". That would get her goat a bit.
Speaking of Daria, it was a little weird that she hadn't shown up to walk to school that day. Oh well, it was no big deal. She'd probably just been running late, maybe she hadn't been able to sleep well with the Fashion Club meeting going on at her house.
Jane rounded a corner, and saw Daria up ahead. She was slouching a bit, confirming Jane's suspicions that she hadn't gotten much sleep. Poor kid. "Hey!" Jane called as she got closer.
"Oh. Hi." Daria sounded completely dead.
"What's up?" Jane asked. "What's going on, how ya doin'?"
Jane started to feel a bit apprehensive. Something was definitely not right. "No walky to school today? What happened?"
Daria didn't respond. This was very weird. Daria was a person of subtle moods, and this was the equivalent of a five-alarm nervous breakdown from anyone else. Sure, Jane could appreciate that there were times when a person just needed to be alone with their thoughts, but there was a decidedly weird vibe coming off of Daria. This was no ordinary mood swing - something major was going on.
"Hey, what's up?" Jane asked with concern. "Talk to me."
"I kissed your boyfriend."
Jane stopped dead. She couldn't have heard what she thought she heard. Her mind was playing tricks on her. All that paranoia was catching up with her. Her blood was rushing in her ears, and her own voice sounded like a distant, faraway thing as she stood there, eyes wide, and croaked, "What?"
"I kissed your boyfriend," Daria said again, turning guilty eyes toward her best friend. "I kissed Tom. I didn't mean to -"
The shock hit Jane like a lead hammer in the gut. No, it couldn't be. But it was. Daria said it was true, and Daria never lied. Never. Except she had lied, she had said she wouldn't do such a thing, and Jane had believed her. She had actually written all her fears off as paranoia, and now here they were, flapping back in her face.
Her face became hot, her eyes glared like bloodied daggers. All of a sudden, Daria was the ugliest, most repellant thing she'd ever seen. Jane couldn't even find the presence of mind to slap her. She sensed the growing crowd around them only vaguely, seeing only the guilt-ridden face of her traitorous, lying, cheating, miserable friend.
She turned and ran.
"I'm sorry!" Daria called behind her. "I'm sorry!!"
* * * * *
The bastard had better be home, Jane thought as she advanced on Tom's front door, having run all the way from school. If he isn't, he's coming home to a burned-out foundation tonight, so help me...
It took all of Jane's remaining force of will not to simply kick the door in. She slapped a hand on the bell instead, and waited with clenched fists.
Then Tom answered. He looked surprised to see her, then actually had the nerve to smile at her. "Oh! Hi," he said.
"'Oh, hi,'" Jane mocked him. "Go to Hell!!"
She raised her fists and pounded him hard on the chest, driving him back into the house. Too livid to aim a punch with any real intent, she simply loosed her pent-up anger on him is a series of wild, flailing blows. "How could you?" she asked, backing off only to get a good look at his face and really let him have it if he dared to deny anything. "How could you??"
"I didn't mean to!" Tom said, holding his hands in front of him to block any further blows. "It just happened!"
"How could she??" Jane exploded.
"She didn't do anything! It was all my fault!"
"Oh, don't give me that!" Jane almost wanted him to try to defend himself, to give her a good reason to knock his teeth through the back of his head, but he just stood there taking the blame. She turned away from him, suddenly unable to even look at that face.
"She didn't want any part of this!" Tom insisted. "I screwed everything up!"
Against her will, Jane felt herself calming down - but only slightly. Slugging away at Tom had been like a pressure release valve, and her rage had settled into a tightly knotted ball of anger and hurt in her gut. And hate. She'd never really felt that way about anyone before, but she felt it now. And she felt it about two people who she'd counted as her closest friends.
"Now what?" she asked, more to the world in general than to Tom.
"I don't know," he said helplessly.
* * * * *
A few minutes later, Jane sat by Tom on the old wooded swingset in his "back yard" - if that term could be applied to the several acres of carefully landscaped green that surrounded the Sloane residence. He'd kissed her for the first time on those swings. Or rather, she'd kissed him. Now she felt like she wanted to spit the taste of that kiss out of her mouth.
"I'm a real idiot," Tom said quietly, looking at the ground. "There's no question about that."
"Who's arguing?" Jane responded. She wasn't going to let him degrade himself into a pitiable position. Whatever horrible things Tom thought of himself right now, Jane was sure she had even lower opinions of him.
"We should have just broken up, and I never should have dragged Daria into it."
"What do you mean, we should have just broken up?" Jane countered, feeling the anger rise again. If he was going to try to pin this on her in any way...
"Come on," Tom said, turning to look at Jane. "We weren't going anywhere. We were about to break up."
Jane tried to get angry at him again, but couldn't. It was true and she knew it. "Yeah," she conceded. "So now what? You going to go out with her? I guess I gotta get a new best friend." Jane felt like crying. Losing Tom she could deal with; losing Daria...
"What are you talking about?" Tom asked.
Jane looked at him as if he were stupid. "What am I going to do? Tag along on your dates? Forget it. That's too weird for me."
"Yeah," Tom conceded. "I don't know why we expected her to do it."
Jane snorted. "You're going to have just a super time dating Daria," she said, her voice dripping with sarcasm. " She loves to have fun."
"I didn't say I was going to date her. I know how antisocial she is."
"Hey, she's all right. Give her a chance." Who was he to talk about Daria that way, anyway?
"What are you talking about?" Tom asked, confused. "You want me to go out with her?"
Of course not! I mean..." Jane felt even more confused. She had never felt this way before. To hate and love someone at the same time, it was messing with her head. "I don't know," she mumbled. This was too hard. The anger had burned out, leaving behind only a terrible, terrible ache that felt like it would never go away. Betrayal.
And there was something else she had to know. "Just... look. All that time... were you going out with me just to get to her?"
"Are you crazy?"
Daria asked me that too, she thought. "I don't know. Am I?"
Tom smiled, a smile that was somehow still sweet and charming. "I really like you, Jane," he said sincerely. " ou're smart and you're funny, you have a great attitude... you do everything on your own terms. You're, like, from a cooler world."
Despite herself, Jane actually felt her spirits lift just a little bit. "I am, aren't I?" she agreed, even feeling a smile of her own threatening to creep in.
"You really are," Tom insisted.
"Too bad you're such a dork." No sense in letting him think everything was suddenly all right.
"I know," said Tom.
Dammit, Jane thought. I should have blackened his eyes when I had the chance.
* * * * *
The entire world was obviously constructed purely for the purpose of making things difficult for Helen Morgendorffer.
"Why can't I ever find anything around here?" Helen asked the walls of her office as she raved about, searching for the elusive stapler. "Do you all want me to go insane?"
As if things weren't bad enough, Marianne opened the door and peeked in. Helen had banished her from the office an hour earlier to take her calls and to her typing somewhere else, somewhere where she didn't have to listen to the continuous click-click-click of her nails on the keyboard. There was a monumental amount of work to be done, some of it held over from the night before, and there was absolutely no time for anything else.
"Helen?" she asked. "Helen?"
"What is it!" Helen shouted back. "I told you not to interrupt me for anything! I have no time to waste!"
Without saying a word, Marianne stepped aside and revealed the last person Helen would have expected to see. Her eldest daughter. And the expression on her face was one that Helen had never seen on her before. It was the look of a girl trying desperately not to cry.
And in that moment, all thoughts of work, the big case, and anything else at all went flying from Helen's mind. She simply stared in disbelief and said, "Daria?"
* * * * *
"...so that's it," Daria finished. "Of all the guys in the world to kiss, I pick the one who's going out with my best friend."
The office, of course, had been no place to talk of something that was obviously affecting Daria deeply and personally. Helen had immediately dropped everything, signed out, dared her boss with a single glare to find any objection to her doing so, and driven them both (in total silence) to a nearby restaurant, whereupon Daria had poured out her heart. It's been going on for a week, Helen thought, and I had no idea. I haven't even seen her.
"Now I don't know what's going on," Daria continued, "I have nobody to talk to about it, and that's why I came to you."
Helen's stomach sank. "Oh," she said sadly.
"I didn't mean it that way," Daria reassured her.
"Oh!" Helen said again, slightly relieved - and slightly guilty. She wasn't the one who needed reassurance at this point. Her little girl needed her mother. "Well, it's not easy being a teenager, Daria," Helen began, wondering what the best way to approach this would be. "You have all these new feelings and sensations -"
Daria interrupted. "Mom, spare me the puberty speech. I kissed my best friend's boyfriend."
"I'm sure it was just a one-time -"
Helen sighed. She wasn't doing well so far. She decided to forget the damn parenting books and just speak from her gut. "It's a lousy situation, Daria. But you didn't set out to hurt anyone."
"Neither do those bus drivers who go flying off an embankment on their way to the casino," Daria said.
"Daria, nobody got killed," Helen insisted. Here, at least, she felt on firm ground. It was a problem, of course, but there was no sense in making it even worse than it was. As a mother and a lawyer, she knew that much.
"No," Daria agreed, " but I can't imagine how I could have hurt Jane more."
It seemed to Helen that Daria was forgetting about someone. " What about Tom?" she asked.
"I'm not thinking about Tom!"
Daria sounded angry, which Helen could understand. She was obviously more angry at herself than anyone else, but she couldn't express that anger, so she threw it all in Tom's direction. That would have to be dealt with eventually, but now wasn't the time. The important thing, for now, was just to listen.
Daria sighed. "You know... I had everything more or less under control. I'm not saying it was great, but I could deal with school, I could deal with home, and now nothing's under control."
"It never is, sweetie," Helen said with the voice of experience. "We just tell ourselves otherwise so we can function."
"Who came up with that stupid arrangement?"
"It's called life."
"Life sucks," Daria said.
"Yes," Helen agreed. "Sometimes." She thought about it some more. "Often," she corrected.
"That's reassuring," Daria said.
"But it still beats the alternative." Helen smiled slightly. She could hear her daughter's true voice coming back through her pain, and welcomed it. "Honey, things will work out," she said with as much assurance as she could. "I don't know how, but they will."
"You don't know how? What kind of parental wisdom is that?"
Helen shrugged slightly. "Honest?"
Daria sighed inwardly. Helen could see her turning things over in her mind, trying to sort out her feelings. She was thinking about it now, facing it, and that was all that really mattered. Now that Daria didn't feel so helpless, Helen knew, she would be able to work it out.
"Don't you have to be getting back to that huge case of yours?" Daria asked.
"Oh, don't worry about that," Helen said with a wave of her hand. "It's completely under control."
Daria's tiny smile was the most beautiful thing Helen had seen in a long, long time.
* * * * *
Trent cruised slowly down the street, searching for Jane. He wasn't overly worried, he knew that he'd find her somewhere between Tom's house and Daria's. He had to give Tom some credit for calling him - it couldn't have been easy to do. Trent was a bit angry with him, of course, but it helped Tom's case that he was concerned enough about Jane's well-being to call Trent and tell him everything that had happened, and let him know where Jane was likely to be. It also meant something to Trent that Tom had obviously told the entire truth about the matter. He just wished things could have gone down a little differently, but what was done was done.
He found Jane walking slowly along the street right about where he would have expected her to be, and slowed his car as he pulled up alongside.
"Yo," he said, leaning out the window.
Jane showed no surprise at his suddenly being there. "Hey," she replied simply.
"Hair looks all right," Trent observed.
"Lift?" Trent offered.
"Come on," Trent insisted. " We need to go for more rides."
Jane stopped, her eyes still looking through the pavement a step or so in front of her. "Okay," she said.
Once Jane was in the car, Trent continued slowly down the street. He wasn't giving her the ride to get her there more quickly, after all. "Hey," he began, "you know, about Tom and all... it'll be okay."
"Yeah, some part of me knows that," Jane agreed. "Some part of me is actually saying that breaking up is right."
"Maybe it is." Trent knew better than anyone that sometimes breaking up was better. One couldn't date Monique for very long without knowing that.
"So how come every five minutes I feel like I'm going to throw up?"
"I don't know," Trent said. "You haven't been eating out of the refrigerator again, have you?"
Jane looked at him with a smile, and Trent knew he'd done his work. "Idiot," she teased.
"Where are we going, anyway?" asked Trent, who already had a pretty good idea.
* * * * *
When the doorbell rang, Daria knew who it was. She knew in the same way one knows that the flashing blue light in your rear-view mirror is indeed a police car, and it's meant for you. Things will work out somehow, she thought as she opened the door.
It was Jane.
"Hello," Jane said, in a tone of voice that left no illusions as to whether she was still upset.
"I'm not really hungry."
"Neither am I."
They walked into the living room together. The tension felt so thick that Daria almost had the urge to physically push it aside. "I didn't want to tell you," she said, "but I had to. It's not going to happen again. Ever." She wondered if Jane would even consider believing her.
"Tom and I broke up," Jane said, her voice more sad than angry.
"What?" Daria exclaimed. "Not because of me??"
"No, not because of you," Jane replied, though Daria wasn't entirely sure she could believe it. "So I don't care if you go out with him. 'S fine with me!"
Daria wasn't fooled for a moment. "Come on," she said. "Nobody's that well-adjusted."
"I'm sure as hell not," Jane agreed. "But 'Tom and you' makes more sense than ' Tom and me'. So you go ahead and date him, and I'll get used to going out for pizza by myself."
Daria hadn't thought it was possible to feel more guilty than she already did, but somehow her spirits sunk even lower. "I don't want you to do that," she said quietly.
"Why not? It's what you've been doing all year."
Daria felt a bit confused. " So you don't hate me?" she asked.
"Of course I hate you!" Jane exclaimed angrily. "You tell me you're gonna stay away from him and five minutes later you're making out in a car! Why did you even get in?"
"I thought we were going to talk about you!" Daria answered. Then she paused a moment, wondering if she was being totally honest. "I think that's what I thought," she corrected.
"The Lady or the Tiger," Jane mused. "You turned out to be a little of both, eh?"
Oh God, Daria thought, not the hair thing again. "I swear, I didn't -"
"I know," Jane assured her. "I don't know why I made you color my hair in the first place. Maybe I was trying to bring something to a head."
Daria didn't smile. "Hair. Head. I get it."
A silence fell between them and they sat for a moment just looking at each other. Jane's eyes didn't seem accusatory so much as just disappointed, upset that something like this could have come between them. Daria's emotions were a jumble of shame, guilt, self-loathing, and even a bit of fear.
"So... what happens now?" she asked through the thick silence.
"I was hoping you knew," Jane replied.
"Are we still friends?" Daria asked.
"Are we??" Daria asked again, the fear suddenly rising inside her. Somehow, she had never considered that this might be it. That she might lose the only real friend she ever had over a single moment of indiscretion. And in that second before Jane answered, Daria was terrified of losing someone who she suddenly realized meant more to her than anyone else she'd ever known.
"Yeah," Jane said without much conviction. "We're the kind of friends who can't stand the sight of each other."
Daria still felt scared. "Temporarily, right?"
"I hope so, Daria." Jane got up off the couch and turned to leave, her face a blank mask. "I'll see you."
Daria watched her friend go out the door, wondering if she still even had the right to consider Jane her friend. And wondering what, if anything, she could ever do to make things right again.
* * * * *
As the twilight came through her window, Daria lay on her bed, her thoughts twisting and turning around in her head as her emotions jumbled in her gut. She wondered how it had all happened, how she had gotten into this situation that she had never imagined for herself. She was Daria Morgendorffer, after all, Brain and Outcast, relentlessly honest and socially inept. She wasn't the "other woman". She wasn't the sort who kissed her best friend's boyfriend. And yet, it had happened.
And the worst of it was, Daria couldn't swear that given the same situation, she wouldn't let it happen again. As much as she tried to rationalize it away, the fact remained that Tom had stirred something in her that she had never felt before - no, even more than that, she had almost taken for granted that it didn't exist within her. It was passion. And having tasted it, Daria wasn't sure she could give it up.
Not even for Jane.
No, that wasn't right, nothing was worth jeopardizing that friendship. But then, Jane had said that it would be all right with her if they went out...
Daria ejected that thought from her mind. This was a simple matter of what was right and what was wrong, and it was wrong to go out with Tom. Of course, it wasn't as if he had even asked... but what if he did? And what if he kissed her again? Daria actually felt herself flush at the thought. Dear God, she wanted him to! In spite of everything, she wanted to feel that way again. When she thought of what it was like to have him so close, his lips on hers, his arms around her, everything else suddenly seemed so unimportant...
But was it right?
The phone rang suddenly, jarring her out of her thoughts. "Quinn!" she called, unwilling to play the secretary for one of Quinn's shallow and stupid disposable guys.
The phone rang again.
It rang again. Quinn was obviously not in a phone-answering mood, if she was there at all.
"Oh, to hell with it," Daria mumbled, and picked up the phone herself. "Hello?"
"Daria? It's Tom."
I chose to write this episode in novel format for a number of reasons. One is that it is a pivotal episode in the series, and I felt it deserved novelization treatment. Another is that there is plenty of opportunity in this story to imagine what's going on in the characters' heads, and that's half the fun of this process. I tried to temper my imagination with what is known about the characters, their histories, and their motivations.
Some things were thrown in to explain what Glenn had left unexplained. The most obvious example, and the one with which I took the most liberties, was Trent's having been informed by Tom of what had happened. He obviously knew about it, as he broaches the subject with Jane in the car before she says a word. However, he didn't hear about it from her, as he remarked on how her hair looked normal again - something he would have already done if they had talked about it. I didn't see Daria calling him up and pouring out her heart to him. Therefore, I assumed he'd heard about it from Tom, who called because he was concerned about Jane and knew that Trent would see to her well-being.
I also gave Daria a little introspective soliloquy at the end of the story. Glenn simply shows her lying on her bed, but I wanted to get into her head a bit and try to explain why she would choose to pursue a relationship with Tom in the face of losing her best friend over it. I think that this was just a case where Daria, being socially inexperienced, simply didn't know what to do and therefore took Jane at her word when she said it was okay with her if they dated. That, plus the unfamiliar feelings of attraction she felt for Tom, was enough to push her over the edge.
I intend to do further novelizations eventually - for instance, I think "Is It Fall Yet" needs tackling eventually. That's a much bigger project, of course, and we'll see how it goes.
Most thanks of course to Glenn Eichler, who created the show and wrote this particular story in the first place.
Thanks also to everyone else who makes Daria possible.
Thanks to Martin J. Pollard for posting this novelization on his website.
And thanks to my wife Rachel, who didn't beta-read this one but who supports my hobby of Daria fandom.
Daria and associated characters are the property of MTV which, in turn, is the property of Viacom. Characters are used without permission. The fact that MTV and Viacom are aware of Daria fan websites with fanfic content and choose not to take action against such sites is taken as implicit permission to use their characters in stories such as this one.
I honestly do not know the Copyright laws when it comes to re-writings of another's work, but I do grant permission for anyone to post this story online as long as they do so in its entirety with this notice intact.
Contact the author at MikeYamiolkoski@msn.com. Comments are always welcome!