Disclaimer: Daria and associated characters are owned by MTV. This is fan fiction written for entertainment only. No money or other negotiable currency or goods have been exchanged.

This is the twenty-ninth John Lane story

Richard Lobinske

The Snows of Mt Lawndale

Under a flickering streetlamp behind McGrundy's Pub, Trent tied his guitar to the roof of his former car, along with more of Mystik Spiral's band instruments. He said, "Johnny, Mrs. M sounded a little cranky on the phone."

Interrupting his attempt to figure out how the entire band was going to fit into the car, John said, "Getting calls at 11:30 at night tend to do that to her…unless they're from her boss. They don't do much for me, either."

Pulling a bungee cord tight, Max said, "I'm gonna fix the transmission and have the Tank back on the road in no time."

"You picked up all the gears, right?" Jesse asked.

"Yeah, I got all of them," Max said, also irritated.

Nick called, "Shotgun!" and hopped into the front passenger seat.

Trent moved in after him and said, "Good, you can move over."

"Man, that's not fair," Nick protested.

John sighed and opened the driver's door. "Let's get out of here; I have class tomorrow."

"There's only room for one in back," Max complained.

"I'm not letting anyone ride on the roof," John said. "Guess one of you will have to sit on the other's lap."

Max said, "We're hard core rockers; we don't sit on each other's laps."

"Then walk."

Max grumbled and said to Jesse, "Rock, paper, scissors?"

Trying to talk around Jesse's shoulder, Max asked, "Are we there yet?"

"Almost," John answered.

"Can't this thing go any faster?"

"Not with all this junk on it."

Nick said, "Junk? These are first class musical instruments."

John said, "Okay, not with all these first class musical instruments on it."

Max groaned, "Are we there yet?"

John stopped the car next to Trent's apartment behind Axl's Piercing Parlor. "Yes, we're here. You really could've walked; it's only about six blocks."

Pushing on his band mate, Max ignored John and said, "Move it, Jesse. You're killing me back here."

Opening the door and crawling out, Jesse said, "Guess it's a good thing I didn't have the chili for dinner."

Standing as he left the car, Trent said, "Yeah, Jesse. That's a good thing."

Rubbing his eyes, John said, "Let's get this stuff unloaded so I can go home."

Trent said, "Oh, yeah, Johnny, I need another favor."

Dreading the answer, John said, "What's that?"

"If the band crashes at my place, we won't have room for the gear."

Nick crawled out and started untying the load. "Yeah, we usually keep the nonessential stuff in the Tank."

"You want me to store the extra stuff until the Tank is fixed."

"Thanks, Johnny," Trent said. "I knew you'd understand."

Getting into the passenger seat the next morning, Daria said, "What's that smell?"

Pointing his thumb at the back seat, John said, "I think it's from a burned out amp."

"Uh, huh." Daria looked at the junk in the seat and asked, "By the way, did you check it for extra passengers, like rats?"

"Trust me; nothing could live in Mystik Spiral's gear. I once watched a roach run away from the mixing board."

"Don't you think that should be telling you something?"

"That their music is more dangerous than radiation?"

Daria nodded. "Therefore, leaving it in the car is like leaving a pile of reactor waste in it."

"Nah, I'm sure the reactor waste would be safer."

"How long is it going to be in here?"

John started the car and said, "Until the Tank is fixed."

"Great, that could take weeks."

Backing up the car, John said, "It's not like we carry a lot of stuff around; and hey, we put five in here last night."

"I'm not going to ask how."

Near the end of class, Mr. O'Neill excitedly picked up a sheet of paper. "Class, in my hands, I hold a piece of paper which has the potential to open up a world of positive experiences."

John said, "Mandatory boredom testing for teachers?"

Mr. O'Neill pretended not to hear and said, "A sign-up sheet for an overnight hill trek. An excellent opportunity to understand the primal struggle for survival we made it through together in The Call of the Wild."

"That was a struggle to stay awake," Daria said to John.

"I'm a Lane and staying awake is always a primal struggle," he said in return.

"Two days and a night with our fellow classmates. The primal struggle will be with ourselves to keep from strangling them."

John pondered a moment and said, "Hmm, I wonder how much we could scam out of your parents to go."

"You're learning well the ways of the Morgendorffer, young Master Lane."

"Oooh! This Titanic edition chenille gorp bag is to die for," Quinn said as she wandered out of the kitchen, reading an outfitter's supply catalog.

Helen leaned against the counter and gazed at Daria and John, still at the table eating dinner. "You two have been very quiet about this overnight field trip. Knowing that all three of you are away in safe, supervised activities would give Jake and me some valuable time together. But you knew that, didn't you?"

Both teens nodded.

Helen said, "What's your price?"

Daria said, "Fifty, each."

"Thirty," Helen replied. "And, you drive Quinn to school."

John said, "Gas, plus wear and tear on the car."

Helen frowned. "Forty, and don't forget, I have legal authority over both of you."

"Forty should do it," Daria said.

Helen turned to her husband. "Jake, pay them."

He looked up from his newspaper. "Huh?"

"Ahh! Jake, just pay them," Helen said and left the room.

Jake pulled his wallet out. "How much was I supposed to pay you?"

John and Daria looked at each other and smirked.

Wedging their packs on top of the dead band equipment, John said, "We're packing for cold weather up on a mountain and your folks are heading off to the beach. Something is wrong with this picture."

Behind him, Daria said, "Would you want them to stay someplace close to where we'll be?"

"Nah, I want to go to the beach and let them climb a mountain."

"You just want to see me in a swim suit."

"A real bonus in my book."

Struggling to carry a shoulder-slung bag, Quinn wobbled to the car. "Uh, this thing is heavy. John, can you, like, put this in the car while I get the rest?"

John looked at the bag and then looked at the open space in the car's back seat. "Quinn, we have room for you and a small bag, or we have room for that. Take your pick."

"What do you mean, you don't have room? I have two more bags of stuff."

John stepped aside. "Look for yourself."

Quinn peeked in the car and said, "Eww, what's all that junk?"

Daria said, "Stuff for Trent's band. John's keeping it while the band gets their act together…again."

Quinn said, "John, why don't you unload that stuff to make room for my bags?"

He answered, "Because I'm too lazy to unload and reload it. When the band picks it up, they can unload it."

Quinn demanded, "But what about all the stuff I bought for this trip?"

"Quinn," Daria said, "You could barely carry that bag. How do you think you'll carry three?"

Quinn innocently said, "I'm sure some boy or two or three will help me."

"We're going to be late. Quinn, pick out what you can carry and leave the rest. We need to go."

"You just don't understand!" Quinn yanked the bag off of the ground and carried it back inside, grumbling under her breath the entire time.

Once her sister was out of earshot, Daria said, "You, worried about being late to a school function?"

"Sorry, best I could do on short notice."

Several minutes later, Quinn reappeared and stomped toward Daria and John while carrying a pink backpack and an old towel. "Are you happy now?"

"We're going to spend the weekend with our classmates…" John said.

Daria completed, "…do you think we're happy?"

Quinn opened the towel and covered the band gear before getting into the back seat. "I'm going to be fashionably unprepared. Do I look happy?"

John pushed the seat back into place. "Then we're on the same page."

At school, they could hear Mr. DeMartino call, "Good morning, students. Please be so gracious as to haul your milk-fed buttocks onto the bus!"

Walking to the chartered bus with John while Quinn walked a bit to the side, Daria said, "He's in a good mood this morning."

Standing beside the bus and loading students' packs into the luggage bin, Ms. Barch snapped, "Hurry up! You don't want to be left behind!"

Daria grabbed John's shoulder and said, "Don't say it. This is way too early in the morning to hear one of her rants."

"How about if I hold off until Kevin starts to sing? If anything will stop him, it's that."

As Quinn reached the rest of the Fashion Club, Sandi said, "Oh Quinn, you had to ride here in that? What could you possibly have done to deserve such punishment?"

She replied, "I wasn't punished, I just, well, Mom and Dad went to the beach and…said that Daria and John had to give me a ride."

"If you don't want to tell us, that's fine," Sandi said. "But on to business. We need to show everyone else how you can be practical as well as fashionable on these trips. Right?"

"Oh yes, Sandi," Stacy said. "Some of these people are dressed way too practical."

Tiffany said, "Yeah, practical. It's like they forgot how to be fashionable."

Sandi dramatically sighed and said, "Our duty calls."

As the bus pulled into a parking area at the base of the mountain, Ms. Li walked down the aisle, passing out bill caps with "Lawndale High Wilderness Adventure Club" printed on the front.

Stacy held her cap and whined, "Do you know how bad my pigtails stick out when I wear a hat?"

Holding hers with the bill pinched between thumb and forefinger, Sandi disdainfully said, "This is simply unacceptable. We cannot risk catastrophic hat hair."

"How can we stand out when we look like everyone else?" Tiffany said.

The principal sternly looked at the girls. "You'll wear them if you want continued funding for the Fashion Club."

Daria said, "When did Lawndale get a 'Wilderness Adventure Club', and how did I get enrolled?"

"When you signed up for this trip, Ms. Morgendorffer. Your mother's a lawyer; you should really learn to read the fine print."

"What fine print?" Daria asked

"It was printed across the bottom after the signature lines."

"There was a line across the bottom."

Ms. Li snickered. "That was the fine print. Oh, the joys of 2 point typefaces."

John said, "Note to self: inspect all school papers with a microscope."

At the back of the bus, Ms. Li pointed to Mr. O'Neill, who was preparing a video camera. "Mr. O'Neill will record our exciting trek to the summit for Extreme Sports Mania Worldwide Inc., 'Hanging ten on the edge of the apocalypse', and the greater honor and glory of Lawndale High."

Daria said, "I smell funding."

"Let's hope we don't step in it, "John replied.

Daria looked at her hat. "I think it dropped on our heads."

Joey shoved Jamie and said, "I'll get it!"

Jeffy body-blocked Joey and said, "I will!"

Jamie rolled around the others and dove for Quinn's backpack. "I'll carry it!"

Ms. Barch stormed over to the fighting boys and grabbed Joey and Jeffy by the hair. "Stop it right now, you Neanderthals!" Aiming a foot at Jamie, she kicked him on the rump. "Or I might have to do something drastic!"

"Yes, ma'am!" "Gotcha, Ms. Barch!" "We're cool!" the boys said over each other.

Ms. Barch pushed the boys away and turned to Quinn before pointing to the backpack. "Quinn! Now pick that up and carry it like a woman!"

"Yes, Ms. Barch," Quinn said, carefully picking up her pack and slinging it over her shoulders.

Ms. Barch spun around and barked at Mr. O'Neill. "You dropped your inhaler!"

Wobbling under the weight of his backpack, camera on one shoulder and microphone boom on the other, Mr. O'Neill looked down and said, "Oh my, I wouldn't want to be on the trail without my backup."

When he reached for the inhaler, he fell over onto his face. Mr. DeMartino walked over and pulled him up while saying, "Mack, John, put a leash around Kevin and get the field supplies. Something around here needs to be in competent hands."

John said to Mack, "Did we just get a compliment from Mr. DeMartino?"

"Yeah, but we also have to keep an eye on Kevin," Mack said.

John shrugged. "No good deed goes unpunished."

Jodie whispered to Mack, "I saw that look in your eye. No, you can't use a noose on Kevin as a leash."

Wheezing and leaning against a tree, Mr. O'Neill turned and pointed the camera down the trail to film the students.

Nearing him, Tiffany said, "This hat feels so wrong. My head is hot and…eww."

"I'm going to have to redo my hair," Stacy said. "When are we going to get to that base camp place?"

Mr. DeMartino, walking back along the students' path, said, "We're at least two hours away, Ms. Rowe."

"Two hours!" she squeaked.

"I'm sure you've spent more time walking through malls."

"But we usually have a cute boy to carry our stuff," she explained.

"I can't believe I'm saying this, but Ms. Barch was right. Learn to carry your pack like a woman!" Mr. DeMartino barked and moved on.

Wheezing louder, Mr. O'Neill muttered, "Darn pollen," before pulling an inhaler from his pocket.

Walking by him, Daria said, "Inconsiderate wildflowers that insist on reproducing and not caring what other species they expose."

John said, "They could at least practice safe sex. We don't know where they've been and who knows what they're spreading around?"

A shrill bark came from high in the tree over Mr. O'Neill's head, followed by hurried scratching sounds. A moment later, two squirrels spiraled down the tree, one chasing the other and still barking loudly. They bounded off of Mr. O'Neill's head as he inhaled his medication, causing the teacher to panic and try to leap away, falling face-first on the ground.

Daria said, "Uh-oh, teacher down."

Chattering, the squirrels ran at full speed down the trail, scattering students as if they were a pair of bears instead.

Looking at the line of confusion, John said, "Killer squirrels. Gotta love 'em."

"Good thing they didn't want parent chaperons this time. Can you imagine what Dad would've done?"

"Can I include collateral damage in what I imagine?"

Calmly walking past the others, a quiet blonde, Jennifer, said, "If they can take out Dr. Doom…"

Ms. Li ran past her and stopped at Mr. O'Neill's prostrate form. "Mr. O'Neill!"

Dazed, he lifted his head and replied, "Huh?"

"Is the camera all right?"

"I'm…I'm fine. Just a little dizzy." Mr. O'Neill tried to push himself up, but slumped back to the ground.

"I didn't ask about you. Is the camera damaged? We can't get that sponsorship from Extreme Sports Mania Worldwide Inc. without good summit footage! If we don't get it, the money's coming out of your budget!"

Watching, John said, "Wow, such motherly concern."

"She carried that camcorder for nine months," Daria said.

John raised an eyebrow. "I wonder who the father was."

"I don't," was Daria's reply.

Rubbing her hands together and watching the dark clouds overhead, Daria said, "I swear it's getting colder and I don't like those clouds."

John said, "We're being led by the fearless Principal Li. What could possibly go wrong?"

"You mean, besides a spring blizzard? I hope that they packed real food in those bags."

"Yeah, I'd be really ticked off if I'd spent all this effort hauling fake food."

Behind them, Mr. DeMartino muttered, "If you call MREs real food. Hah! In my day, we had C-rations. Real food in real cans, not some paste in a pouch!"

Daria said, "A valuable experience I'm sure we'll all miss."

Looking up at the white flakes gently falling, John said, "You had to mention a spring blizzard, didn't you?"

"Hey, Mr. O'Neill wanted us to experience the The Call of the Wild, and it wouldn't be complete without a blizzard."

Ms. Li addressed the other students, most of whom had stopped and were looking up at the snow. "There's no need to talk about a blizzard; it's only a little snow. We'll reach base camp soon, anyway. Now everybody, march…fast."

Daria looked back along the line of students. "Which one do you think will be eaten first?"

Grumbling, Ms. Barch held Mr. O'Neill up while the camera recorded the students reaching the base camp bunkhouse, an aged and worn wooden structure that promised little, if any insulation and plenty of drafts. Driven by a fast wind, the snow was falling heavily and a couple of inches had already accumulated on the ground.

After Mack and Jodie, the last students, entered the cabin, Ms. Li waved Ms. Barch and Mr. O'Neill in and then entered the cabin herself.

Jodie was already crouched next to the supply bags and opening one. "Daria, can you help me hand out food and blankets?"

"Hmm, that would mean I could get my choice of meals." she said.

Looking at several MRE packs in her hands, Jodie said, "Sure, you have a choice of Beef Patty, Beef Patty, or Beef Patty."

Sighing, Daria joined Jodie and pulled two aside. "I'm a risk-taker; I'll take the Beef Patty."

Ms. Barch pushed Mr. O'Neill into the room. He staggered, turned and sat flat on the floor in front of the door while she closed it. He cried, "Ouch," and then looked around. "Are we home?"

Ms. Barch pulled him aside, muttering, "Just like a man, letting me pull all the weight."

Trying to ignore the teachers, Ms. Li said, "…44, 45. Okay, with Mr. DeMartino outside collecting firewood, everyone's here. Now students, I want everyone to line up neatly by the supplies and we'll…oh."

They were already forming into a messy line to get food from Jodie and Mylar thermal blankets from Daria.

Daria said to the students, "Genuine Y2K brand blankets, guaranteed to last until the next millennium, no matter how bad things may turn out."

Tiffany looked at her blanket and said, "This is really shiny."

Sandi took hers and said, "Is this a joke? I want a real blanket."

"No joke, "Daria said. "It's a survival blanket that reflects body heat back to you. It doesn't have to be thick."

"Uh, if you say so. But if I catch a cold, I'm blaming you."

Quinn was next in line. She discreetly looked at Sandi and rolled her eyes for Daria to see. "Thanks."

"Will this make me fat?" Tiffany asked Jodie when accepting her food.

"Can we like, get a salad?" Sandi asked.

Jodie answered, "Tiffany, it won't make you fat and no, Sandi, you don't have a choice."

Following Quinn, Stacy whispered to Daria and Jodie, "I wish I had someone to help keep me warm tonight."

"If it's any consolation," Daria said. "I'm sure Ms. Li will go to great lengths to keep couples apart. We wouldn't want any embarrassing incidents…as if anyone would try something in a room with forty other people."

Ms. Barch yelled, "Kevin, Brittany! Stop that! This is not the back seat of a car!"

Daria corrected, "Okay, as if anybody with an ounce of shame would try something."

"It's better than frozen lasagna," Daria said, dropping her plastic spoon into the empty MRE pouch. She sat cross-legged on a crude bunk with John beside her, also cross-legged. Each had a thermal blanket over their shoulders and the heater packs from their meals in the open space between their legs.

Looking at their history teacher scraping the bottom of an olive drab colored can, John said, "Mr. DeMartino seems to have enjoyed his lunch."

"I can't believe he actually had C-rations. You know, I don't think that food should ever be bought as surplus," Daria said.

"What do you think we're eating?" John said, holding up an outer box marked, "US Government Property. Not for Resale."

"Let me rephrase that. Food should never be bought as 20-year old surplus."

"Think of it as a monument to packaging."

Daria pulled the blanket tight around her body. "Why couldn't we be at the beach and Mom and Dad be up here on a mountain freezing their asses off?"

"Torture, pure and simple. The universe hates us." John complained, "Too bad we can't get near the fire."

Daria nodded to the tight cluster of students around the single fireplace. "That would mean being in close proximity to our classmates. Too close."

Ms. Li walked around the students, watching them carefully. Noticing John and Daria, she stepped over to them. "Why aren't you with your fellow classmates?"

John said, "I wanted to eat without somebody's elbow in my face."

"Okay. I just hope you two don't have any ideas about sneaking off and…doing anything you shouldn't be doing."

"Ms. Li," Daria said. "There's a blizzard outside. I don't think we're going to be sneaking anywhere."

"Where would we go? There's not even an outhouse out there," John said.

This made Daria say, "Oh, by the way. Ms. Li, thank you for finding a base camp with interior plumbing."

"Ms. Morgendorffer, I have to sit down, too."

Sitting on the floor with the other members of the Fashion Club, Quinn said, "Bored now."

Stacy said, "Maybe we can give fashion…"

Interrupting, Sandi said, "We've done that."

"What about the teachers?" Tiffany suggested.

"Tiffany, dear, some people are simply beyond help," Sandi said.

Quinn said, "I wish we had a radio or a CD player."

Overhearing as he walked by, Mr. O'Neill suddenly smiled and said, "Quinn, that's a great idea!"

"You have a CD player?"

"We don't need one."

Immediately worried, John said, "Unless somebody has a CD tray that pops out of their skull, he can only be suggesting one thing."

"One of my worst nightmares is about to come true," Daria said.

"Let's have a sing-a-long!" Mr. O'Neill said, loud enough for the entire room to hear.

In a low voice, John said, "At least it doesn't involve pink taffeta."

Around the bunk house, unenthusiastic moans and groans greeted Mr. O'Neill's suggestion.

Undaunted, he said, "Come on, it will be fun. Tell you what, I'll start."

Ms. Barch warned, "Don't even think of singing Kumbaya, or…"

He squeaked, "Eap!"

"Not a bad idea, Mr. O'Neill," Mr. DeMartino said. "We need something to keep these razor-sharp minds from being dulled by boredom."

Ms. Li warned, "Mr. DeMartino, you are still forbidden from singing Annette Funicello songs."

"That's a ban I think we all can agree on," John said.

Daria watched the snowfall outside the window and said, "Brittany singing a Britney Spears song. The blizzard is looking very good right now."

John sat with his back against the wall and sketched the others gathered around the fireplace. "Who would've thought that we'd encounter worse music than my brother's band?"

"Where are all the masked slasher serial killers when you need one?"

"You know that's only Hollywood. Life would never give us a break like that."

Daria turned, sat next to him and pulled out a notepad. "Maybe you have the right idea. I guess I could try to get some inspiration from it."

Jodie came over from the crowd and squatted in front of them. "John, your brother has a band. Think you could pitch in a little singing?"

John said, "Jodie, my brother's in a band. But not a good band, and I sing worse than he does."

"Please?" she begged. "If I hear one more brainless pop song, I might lose it."

"Which would be a lot more entertaining than a sing-a-long." Daria said.

"How about if you read what you're writing?"

The brunette read the last couple of lines that she had written. "Blood dripped from the sturdy blade, with each drop landing in a perfect line along Brandy's pristine white blouse and ending just below her collar. Wide-eyed, the blond whimpered as the tip of the knife slowly descended to the base of her throat."

"Okay, that's enough. Maybe you shouldn't do a reading tonight."

"Good thinking," John said.

In a loud voice, Ms. Li announced, "Okay students, it's time to go to sleep. As a reminder, one of your chaperones will be awake at any given time during the night, so don't get any ideas that involve putting hands into buckets of warm water."

Quinn raised her hand and said, "Ms. Li? We don't have enough bunks for everybody."

"Some of you will have to place your sleeping bags on the floor. While we're on the subject of sleeping bags," Ms. Li said, staring hard at Mr. O'Neill and Ms. Barch, "No sharing."

While Mack carried a bag filled with slips of paper, Jodie went around to the students. "A lottery seems like the fairest way of choosing who sleeps where. Each piece of paper in the bag Mack's holding will have 'bunk' or 'floor' written on it, so it's really simple."

Kevin said, "What if, like, I get a bunk and Brittany gets the floor?"

Most of the boys in the room gave him a look of, "Dude, you're on your own," while the girls watched with almost predatory delight.

Jodie slowly suggested, "What would a gentleman do in that case?"

"Um…" he said, trying to think of an answer. "Is that a trick question?"

Brittany slapped his arm. "You'd leave me on the floor?"

"There's more room down there?"

She slapped him on the face and then marched across the room in anger.

Kevin said, "Aw man, it was a trick question."

A sharp pain in his side woke Mr. DeMartino in time for him to hear Ms. Barch say, "Get up, it's your turn on watch."

He sat up and said, "Once again, Ms. Barch, I am not your ex-husband."

With her sleeping bag wrapped like a shawl, she said, "I know, but Ms. Li won't let me kick the students."

"Argh." Mr. DeMartino crawled out of his sleeping bag, muttering, "Next time, I bring the body armor."

"You'll need to keep an eye on Mack and John. They're sleeping awfully close to Jodie and Daria and could make a move at any time," Ms. Barch said to alert him.

"I would think that you'd be more concerned about Kevin and Brittany."

"She's temporarily come to her senses and exiled him to the far side of the bunkhouse."

"Okay. Well, get some sleep and I'll wake Timothy in two hours for the last watch."

Ms. Barch didn't hesitate to find a spot and zip up the sleeping bag so that only a small portion of her face was visible. Mr. DeMartino went to the fire to warm up, stirring it and adding another split log. Moonlight through the windows and the fire lit the room enough to see without straining while he started making rounds. He paused at the first window, looking out. The storm had passed and the sky was clear. The fallen snow outside was already turning into muddy slush, telling him that the trip tomorrow was going to be a slippery challenge.

Turning away, he snorted in amused contempt at Jamie, Jeffy and Joey sleeping on the floor around Quinn's bunk like circled wagons. Moving along, he heard a strange noise and tracked it to Brittany. Even her snoring squeaked. Not far away, Jodie slept on a lower bunk, looking uncharacteristically relaxed. In the bunk over hers, Mack' was lying face down with one arm hanging over the edge of the bed frame while a buzzing snore was muted by the pillow. "Oh yeah, he's a big threat," Mr. DeMartino muttered.

Walking past Jodie and Mack, he stepped over Kevin, who was sprawled on one side with his face resting on the floor beside a pillow. "Be careful about splinters, Kevin," he said.

On the floor under a window, he spied Daria and John in their sleeping bags. Though carefully separated by the minimum of one foot that Ms. Li had insisted upon, they slept facing each other and holding hands. The cynical air each carried was absent, leaving a boy and a girl peacefully at rest with their dreams.

"Yeah, they're cute," Quinn said, causing Mr. DeMartino to start.

He turned and asked, "Quinn Morgendorffer, what are you doing wandering around?"

She pointed and said, "The bathroom's that way."

"And may I inquire as to how you made it past your vigilant body guards?"

"Oh, Daria stomping by in her boots couldn't wake those guys."

"Well, hurry up with your business and get back to sleep."

Quinn nodded and hurried to the bathroom door. She stopped there and turned, saying to herself, "So you've got a soft spot after all, don't you, Mr. DeMartino," before giggling and going in.

While Mr. O'Neill followed Ms. Li with the video camera, she said, "We still have a chance to reach the summit and show everyone, especially those guys at Extreme Sports Mania Worldwide Inc., that Lawndale students have what it takes when the going gets tough."

Sliding her foot on the muddy ground, Daria said, "I don't think we're going to make good time climbing on this stuff."

"Ms. Morgendorffer. We won't let a little inconvenience get in our way. Now students, follow me!"

Chin up, Ms. Li started marching up the trail at a fast, steady pace. Before she'd gone twenty feet, her right foot slipped on the mud and Ms. Li fell forward, unsuccessfully reaching for a tree branch to stop her fall. However, the attempt did twist her in mid-air so that she landed on her backside instead of her face, so that the students could see her look of surprise as she slid down the trail, picking up speed along the way and flailing her arms to grab at anything.

Filming the entire sequence of events, Mr. O'Neill called, "Don't worry, I got everything!" as Ms. Li disappeared from sight.

Daria turned to Mr. DeMartino and motioned her hand in the direction Ms. Li had gone. "I think gravity is trying to tell us something."

He addressed the crowd, "All right, students, you heard Ms Li. Follow her!"

John said, "Five says Kevin takes him literally."

Daria, Jodie and Mack shook their heads. Daria said, "You know I don't take sucker bets," as they watched Kevin slide down the trail on his backside.

"I hope he wears a cup with his uniform, or he's going to regret the first rock or branch sticking up along the trail," John said.

Tanned and rested, Helen relaxed on one of the sofas and greeted the returning teens. "Hi, kids. How was your trip?"

Daria said, "I think I'd gave gotten more out of an entire weekend spent watching infomercials."

John grumbled, "Be glad you didn't get tapped for stretcher duty to drag Ms. Li's sorry ass off of that hill."

Quinn said, "Look at the bright side; you didn't have to carry Kevin."

John nodded. "Yeah, for once, wearing his football pads was the right thing to do. But still, that tree must've hurt."

Daria said, "He hit head first. I feel sorry for the tree."

"Hmm, good point," John said.

"Stretcher duty? Was Ms. Li hurt?" Helen asked. "Does she need a lawyer?"

John shrugged. "She slid about a quarter mile downhill in the mud. The paramedics said that there probably wasn't anything hurt, except for maybe her pride."

"Mom, don't get excited about billable hours. She only has herself to blame."

"Oh. Is there anything else I should know about?"

John said, "Blizzard."

Daria said, "Trapped in a bunkhouse."

Quinn said, "Boring."

Also tanned, Jake lazily came down the stairs. "The beach is great this time of year. We should take you kids sometime."

John, Daria and Quinn all glared at him as they passed going upstairs. He looked at Helen and asked, "Did I say something wrong?"

A couple weeks later, Daria lounged on John's bed, channel surfing while he painted. When something familiar caught her eye, she stopped and watched.

On shaky video footage, Ms. Li was shown sliding down the hill, followed by a cut to Kevin doing the same while an announcer said, "Coming up next on Extreme Sports Mania Worldwide…the Lawndale High Extreme Sports club shows us the outer edge of downhill action after the snow is gone. Mountain mud sliding! We'll talk to their team captain, Kevin Thompson and their faculty sponsor, Angela Li."

Daria shook her head and said, "Now we know for certain that it's possible for someone to have no shame."

Looking up, John said, "Only Ms. Li could make money off of falling on her ass."

Some dialog from:
Antisocial Climbers
Written by Jill Cargerman

Thanks to Kristen Bealer, Ipswichfan and Mr. Orange for beta reading.

June 2007