Somewhere Out There

by Robin Sena

Remember, Daria rightfully remains the trademark of MTV. Got it?

Of all the things to happen to Daria, her latest happening was the worst.

To start, Brittany, who had, to Daria's surprise, revealed herself to be a qualified pilot, offered to take Daria with her on her Gulfstream Jet, which had been a birthday gift given to her from her dad, Steve, for a trip to Seattle for some seafood and a chance for fun in the city. As it turned out, the journey went out well, Daria sampling her first taste of grilled shrimp, lobster, crab and steak, then the public market center known as The Farmers Market, where fishmongers tossed fish to each other and then to the alterna music stores in downtown Seattle before finishing with a trip up (where else?) The Space Needle.

But fate had something else in store at Sea Tac Airport, when one of the staff who was supposed to refuel Brittany's Gulfstream jet was getting ready to do so, when one of the other maintenance staffers named Norton ran up, a magazine in one hand saying, "Hey, Irving, check out my new issue of Guitar magazine--the one with the article on Eric Clapton!!"

"No kiddin'?" said Irving.

"No foolin'," said Norton. From there, the two were soon engrossed with the article, so much so, that Norton had forgotten to refuel the Gulfstream, so that by the time they realised their mistake, Daria and Brittany were already long gone, having taken off for the skies.

But after piloting her jet over Washington state skies, Brittany heard on the wireless radio, "Attention, attention to all planes, there is inclement weather of storm capacity in Southern California, Nevada and vicinty; all planes must divert to Denver, Colorado and wait out the storm, repeat, all planes to divert to Denver, Colorado and wait out the storm. That is all."

"Oh, great," moaned Daria, who was on the copilot's seat next to Brittany, "and I promised Jane I'd be back in time for the Frankenstein Meets Mary Poppins marathon."

"Why not just call Jane and tell her to tape it?" said Brittany. "Once we get to Denver, I'll use my dad's card to get me and you a hotel room till the storm's over."

"Just as long as you don't max it out on any bridal suite," said Daria, using her deadpan tone.

But as fate would have it, the Gulfstream was several yards before a heavily forested section at the base of The Rocky Mountains--and that was when the plane's fuel tanks were depleted of fuel, casuing the engines to gradually conk out.

"What in the....?" said Daria.

Checking the fuel gauge, Brittany squwaked, "We've got no fuel!! We're goin' down!!"

"Abandon jet," said Daria, who got up, whilst Brittany abandoned her pilot's seat and controls. Fearing the worst, the girls gathered up their belongings, which, thankfully, were in their back packs, and strapping them to their waists, got on their parachutes, which Steve Taylor had the foresight to equip in the plane, before jumping out the door, then parachuting down in the thick of the forest, the jet on a beeline for the side of the mountain, before it crashed into the rock surface in a flaming junk pile.

Elsewhere, not too far from the remains of the Gulfstream, Daria and Brittany had safely landed, their chutes snaring on the pine tree branches, but by unstrapping from the 'chutes, they jumped down to the pine needle terrain.

"I thought I'd never be cut out for parachute jumping," said a breathless and shaken Daria.

"Me neither," said Brittany, who straightned out her bunny back pack and strapped it on her back. Then, upon seeing the flaming wreckage of her jet in a scorched heap, she burst into tears, wailing, "My dad's going to whip me for busting my plane!! WHAAAAAAAAAH!!!! WHAAAH!! WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!"

Unable to stand it, Daria did something she'd never thought she'd see the day: she vigorously slapped Brittany square in her face, shouting, "Stop it, Brittany!! Just be thankful we're in one piece!!"

Her face red and stinging from the hit, whimpering in her tears, a breathless Brittany said, "I can't understand how my plane could run out of fuel so fast!! I though the Seattle airport staff had refueled it....."

"Unless someone was negligent in refueling," said Daria. "I mean, airport staff can be human too--they make mistakes."

"It's a good thing you've got a lawyer for a mother," said Brittany, whose rage was now surging through her, her fists balled up, "because if we ever get back home, we're going to sue the airport for forgetting to refuel my Gulfstream!!"

Sensing to need to calm Brittany down, Daria spoke gently, "First things first.......we've got our cell 'phones, so we'll get in touch with our families, then get in touch with one of the forest rangers for a rescue."

But when she tried to make a call, Daria saw on her liquid crystal diode display screen a single letter R icon, indicating her cell had gone into roam mode.

"Oh, great," she said, "my cell's in roam mode which means we're far from any cell 'phone transmission sources. But then, those mountains no doubt had a hand in it. You, Brittany?"

"Same with mine," said Brittany. "All I get is a big R on my screen. What's all that mean?"

"It means," said Daria glumly, "that until we're in the right spot near any cell transmission range, we're out of communication....and judging from our surroundings, based on what we learned from DeMartino's lessons at Lawndale High, we're in the thick of an uninhabited forest section at The Rocky Mountains--put simply, we're stranded."

"OH NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" wailed Brittany, who resumed crying.

For Daria Morgendorffer, it was the worst thing that ever happened to her.

The girls were lucky, that their toiletries, belongings, bottled water and some food, along with their sundries they had bought in Seattle were in their back packs, but they had so much distance for forest to cover and on foot, it would be some time before they found any roads leading to civlisation, if not a spot outside the roaming area. In any case, Daria and Brittany were walking down a path through the trees, the former keeping an eye out for any dangers and other no-see-ums, whilst the latter, having calmed down, followed, looking all around the forest enviroment, for Brittany, having been raised in the sub urban and urban way of life in places like Lawndale, was unaccustomed to the forest, having never seen one before, entranced with what she saw. Finally, the girls came to a stop near a flat rock, which Daria checked all over and found no rattlesnakes nor any other dangers. After that, they settled down on it and took from their packs, ther food, which was some submarine sandwiches, which had been prepared by Ashley Amber Taylor, Brittany's stepmother, which Daria found were a lot better than the "Submarine Sandwiches Ala Jake."

"I had no idea your stepmother was so talented in making those sandwiches," said Daria.

"It just shows you the many efforts she can do," said Brittany, who was just finishing hers. "Only how can we get back home?"

"We just search for a path that may lead to a national park, a road that leads somewhere out thre," said Daria, "ANY PLACE that can lead to a major road and to some transport to a decent town. Better still, if can get free from the roaming area where there's a cell 'phone location, we can call for help."

"But from the looks of things," said Brittany, her eyes scanning the trees, "we 're in a big, big forest. It may take days and you know what season we're in now--it gets cold here at night."

"Good thing I bought those blankets for my parents and Quinn," said Daria, 'because we got a few days to make it out from that forest on foot--and we may have to stay a few nights here."

"Dah-RIAA!! Ewwwwww!!" squawked a fearful Brittany. "You mean risk our lives against ants, spiders, snakes, chiggers, bears, mountain lions and other no-see-ums?"

"Listen, I once stayed a night with my parents and sister once in the forest," said Daria, who had also finished her sandwich, "and I managed quite well--pity they fell victim after eating some psychotropic berries, or 'gliiter berries,' as Quinn called them."

"Easier said than done," shot back Brittany. "The only time I went out in the no so great outdoors was at Camp Coo Coo Nut, and I got stunk up by a skunk, stunk at horseback riding, had lousy food, got scared by a tarantula, stunk at arts and crafts and got chased by a mountain lion--call that fun?"

"You should hear what me and Quinn went through at Camp Grizzly," deadpanned Daria.

Night, and a cold one at that, with the tall trees funneling the equally cold howling winds that surged through The Rocky Mountains. And somewhere far from where they landed by parachute, having walked for hours on their quest, were Daria and Brittany, having found a patch of grass a few yards from a running brook. Right now, they lay wrapped up in the blankets Daria bought, but with just a single blanket apiece, that was a bit problemic, especially for Brittany who tossed, turned, and whimpered all throught the night. Finally, she wailed out, "I WANNA GO HOME!!"

Hearing that, Daria turned to the blonde and said, crisply, "OK, Britt, it's time to go to bed!! Get back to sleep, you big baby!!"

"I can't help it," wept Brittany. "It's cold and I feel so alone and scared!!"

"Listen, it's not my fault we crashed here," charged Daria, a touch of irritation in her tone. "We've got to have faith in trying to get home somehow, so be realistic."

"I don't wanna be realistic," sobbed Brittany. "I WANNA BE WITH KEVVY!!!!"

"And I want to be with Tom," said Daria glumly. "I wouldn't doubt the fact that he must be worried......alomg with Jane, my parents....even Quinn........"

They tried to get back to sleep, but try as they might, it was tough with the cold winds and with Brittany having been so used to her her own bed at home, that was no easy task. Realising that some combined effort was the solution, Daria, knowing she would regret it afterwards, called out, "Britt, get your blankets and come here."

The first thing they did, was lay down the first two blankets as a form of cushioning, then the girls laid down on that, covering themselves up with the last two blankets, adding to the insulation and their bodies huddled together, had them safe from the cold; it was when Brittany turned to Daria and said, "I feel so better now, now that we're warming up," before snuggling up close to Daria.

"Just don't say anything to ANYONE what we're doing," warned a tense Daria. "I'll be razzed for life if all of Lawndale High heard I slept with a girl, particularly you."

"So?" said Brittany. "We're the same gender, we're girls, right? So what's the big deal?"

"If Jane, Trent and Tom ever found out I slept with the head cheerleader of Lawndale High, I'd be ruined for life," said Daria.

"So controversy sells," muttered Brittany. "and women kiss on TV, big deal. It's not like we were trying to rob Fort Knox."

In reply, Daria quietly started singing to the tune of The Ballad Of Davy Crockett: "Brittany, Brittany Taylor, queen of the spoiled bimbos."

Hearing that, Brittany was livid, turning to Daria and shouting, "I am no bimbo!! You take that back right now or else!!"

"And you behave yourself," shot back Daria, "or out you go in the cold!!"

"EEP!!" squeaked a frightful Brittany. "I'll be good. 'Night, Daria."

"'Night, Brittany," said Daria, who laid back and was gradually dozing off, her oncoming slumber speeded up when Brittany started singing Brahms' Lullaby:

Lullaby and goodnight,
with roses bedight,
with lilies bedecked is baby's wee bed;
lay thee down now and rest,
may thy slumber be blest,
lay thee down now and rest,
may thy slumber be blest.

Lullaby and goodnight,
thy Mother's delight,
bright angels around
my darling shall stand;
they will guard thee from harms,
thou shalt wake in my arms,
they will guard thee from harms,
thou shalt wake in my arms........................

Despite her squeaky voice, Brittany's singing turned out to be melodious and calming, resulting in not only Daria nodding off to a peaceful sleep, but also the head cheerleader as well, safe under the blankets.......

Daria woke up to two things; the sound of kisses--and the feel of such kisses, and no wonder--upon waking up, she saw that in her sleep, Brittany had turned over and was on top of Daria, holding her close and covering her face in kisses, no doubt in a dream........that is, until Daria pulled one of Brittany's pigtails, causing the head cheerleader to yell, "OUCH!!" Then staring at Daria, she said, "You're not Kevvy!!"

"No kidding," said Daria, who got free from under Brittany and got up on her feet, saying, "I thought we'd never get through that night."

Daria had been a fan of baths then, but not of one particular bath. A bath in the near running brook she and Brittany had slept nearby. In cold water; each time she splashed in the water to wash herself clean, having been been sweating it out during the long trek through the forest.

"You know," said a shivering Daria to Brittany, "if we get found here on goverment property, we'll be arrested for indecent southern exposure."

"At least we'll be saved and back in civilisation," said Brittany, who was washing off some twigs that had embedded in her legs.

"And spend 40 years in the pen?" said Daria. "I heard prison food stinks."

"Daria, EW!!" said Brittany. "Oh, can you wash my back for me?"

"No thanks," deadpanned Daria. "I don't wanna get your bimbo germs, wash it off yourself."

"But I can't reach everywhere," whined Brittany. "I need some help."

"Then let the river wash it off for you," said Daria. "Better stiil, there's a water fall nearby that can wash that stuff off."

"Daria, please!!" begged Brittany.

"No," said an irritated Daria. "You should've brought a scrubbing back brush with you when we went on that stupid trip, just in case."

"Please?" asked Brittany.

"No," repeated Daria.

Hearing that, Brittany threw back her head as tears welled up in her eyes, and bawled loudly and as hard as she could, her face covered in tears, her forlorn wails echoing through the forest, The Rocky Mountains in the distance. And for Daria, crying was so grating on her nerves. Especially Brittany's crying with the high pitched wails and sobs as the head cheerleader blubbered patheticlly. Finally, Daria reluctantly grumbled, "Stupid girl," before coming over to the sobbing girl and using water from the brook washed throughly the surprised Brittany's back, cleaning off everything; that done, the head cherleader stopped crying and chirped, "Thanks, Daria!! Now it's my turn to wash your back."

"Someone knock me out with iocane solution," said Daria as she steeled herself and tensed as she felt the splash of cold water as Brittany washed her back, Daria shivering in the cold, if not the embarrassment.

Having dried off with the blankets, the girls dressed then packed up all and pressed on down through the forest, The Rocky Mountains and the Gulfstream's crash site getting farther and farther as the girls walked on and on through the trees, till they reached a clearing with some big rocks to the left of the clearing, where they stopped for the last of the food they brought. When they had finished, Daria took out a pair of heavily thick insulated gloves, a pair of tongs, a beaker, a rubber raquet ball and a futuristic looking silver Thermos with a handle on the side.

"What's all that for?" said Brittany.

"Remember when I went to that lab in Seattle?" said Daria. "Well, Jane told me to get some liquid nitrogen for a infared thermograph camera her sister Summer Lane loaned her, well it needed liquid nitrogen, which is what I've got here.." Donning on the gloves, she added, "Whatever you do, DON'T TOUCH A THING--that liquid nitrogen can freeze you and you'd be so brittle, you'd break like glass and I'll prove it."

Taking the raquet ball, Daria placed it in the beaker, then opened the Thermos and poured some of the cold misty liquid nitrogen in the beaker; it was foggy and bubbling as if it was boiling, the raquet ball bobbing in there. Then, using the tongs, she took it out and tossed it at the near rock............and the once rubbery bouncing ball shattered against it as if it were glass.

"Minus 451 degrees, give or take," said Daria. "Anyhow, Jane hopes to take some thermographic images of people and such for an art project. And by the by, thermographics means images of any kind of heat as in body heat."

"Art with body heat?" said Brittany. "How strange. Only which way now? There's a fork in the road."

Indeed they were ahead a yard or so two roads, one that led to the big rocks on the left side of the clearing, the other road leading to a grassy path; both were studied by Daria who said after some time, "We got quite a choice here."

"I'll check the road to the left and you can check the road to the right and then we can debate which one to take," ventured Brittany.

"Just be careful, OK?" cautioned Daria. "The last thing I want is a lawsuit from your parents."

Shrugging, Brittany took off for the left hand road which led behind the big rocks whilst Daria, using a pair of thick sticks picked up the beaker of liquid nitrogen and carefully poured its contents back in the Thermos--but no sooner had she finished, she heard from behind the rocks to the left, Brittany calling out in terror: "EEP!! HELP!! HELP!!"

"I knew it," grumbled Daria. "What now?" Picking up the Thermos, she went down the let hand path.........and froze in fear, and no wonder, because ahead of her was one scared blonde cheerleader in her Lawndale High cheerleader outfit named Brittany Taylor, up against a dead end of rocks, as if she was painted in a corner, a metre long female diamondback rattlesnake on a rock a yard or so from her, rattling her warning rattle looking like she was ready to strike the head cheerleader and inject her with her fangs, especially if Brittany tried to make any sudden moves; already the lethal serpent was gradually ratting faster, colied in the S pose, meaning she was ready to strike at any moment.

Sizing up the matter at hand, Daria had to act fast, lest the rattler strike Brittany without warning; gambling on the hope Brittany could occupy the serpent's attention, and given the fact that snakes had no hearing, she called out to Brittany, "Run for it when I give the word!!" From there, she opened the Thermos, and taking careful aim so as not to spill any of the liquid nitrogen on herself nor Brittany, said, "NOW!!" and doused the rattler with some of the minus 451 degree fluid, the deadly reptile frozen solid in brittle frost covered form, frozen in mid strike pose, her mouth open, the fangs fully bared, the icy mist rising up from the venomous serpent. Brittany, on the other hand, managed to run free just as Daria had drenched the diamondback, and ran to Daria's side.

Closing the Thermos, Daria said testily to Brittany, "Didn't I tell you to be careful? Let's scram."

Heading back to the safety of the clearing, the girls stopped for a moment to get themselves together after what they had been through, until Brittany grabbed a surprised Daria in a big hug and gave her the biggest kiss she could muster before squealing, "My heroine!! You saved me, Daria!!"

"Just save your kissy kissy smoochy smoochy mooshy mooshy stuff for Kevin, OK?" said Daria. "Come on."

After Daria stuck the Thermos and all her other belongings back in her pack and Brittany stowed her gear back in her pack, they went down the right hand fork road without incident.

Hours had passed since the rattlesnake incident, and Daria was getting disillusioned, for not only having agreed to join Brittany on a trip that went awry, but for getting stranded in a remote forest in Colorado. But worst of all, was that Daria was growing tired of Brittany because of getting lost in the forest in the first place, even missing home.......her friend Jane.........her boyfriend Tom........her parents..........and her sister Quinn. And already such problems were mounting to the point where Daria didn't feel like talking, so it was no wonder that for the many hours that the girls had their rattler run in, that Daria hardly said a word at all. In fact, by the time she and Brittany reached a ravine with rapidly running water, the head cheerleader was worried over Daria, to the point of saying, "Daria?"

No answer.

"Daria?" said a worried Brittany, who came close and looked up in her face, which had eyes that burned with frustration, hate and disgust, which petrified the blonde girl fearfully. Even so, it didn't stop the head cheerleader from saying, "What's the matter?"

No answer.

"Come on, Daria, don't be that way!!" said Brittany fearfully. "Please, talk to me!!"

A mean look on her face, Daria only swept past Brittany and walked a yard to the edge of the ravine, staring at the rapids with the white foam and crystalline green waters rushing. For a minute, she stared not saying anything, until Brittany grabbed her arm and turned Daria 'round, saying, "Talk to me!!"

"No," said Daria.

"Yes," said Brittany, her concern mounting. "Loosen up!!"

"Why should I?" said Daria coldly. "Just get away from me, you stupid nowhere bound narrow minded bimbo!!"

"What.......?!?" said Brittany breathlessly. "Please, Daria, I care for you so much. What did I do to deserve to be treated like that?"

"It's your fault you had to invite me to your stupid trip," grumbled Daria grimly. "If I had stayed at home, I never would've gotten stranded here. If you had checked with the Sea Tac airport staff to see if your jet had been refueled, we never would've gotten lost. If you hadn't been so careless to run into that rattlesnake, if you hadn't been so annoying........"

"No," said Brittany, the tears welling in her eyes, "no, it's not true!! It's human to make a mistake!! It could happen to anyone. You said so yourself. And me annoying? I can't help it if I was born that way!! And like I said, it's not my fault, it's the airport staff's fault. It was by fate that we got lost. Listen, if I had annoyed you, please forgive me for everything....................I want to be your friend."

"I don't," said Daria. "I can't keep your company. Goodby." From there, she turned away, and somehow she stepped in the wrong spot, because a section of the ledge she was standing on, came apart, and Daria lost her balance and fell over in the ravine, down into the rapids below.

Brittany saw all that and screamed in terror, "DARIA!! HANG ON!!!!!!!!!!!" then muttered, "Evel Knevel, you got nuttin' on I go!!"

Jumping down into the ravine, Brittany plummented down into the waters, then franticlly swam to keep up with Daria, who was swept down the raging rapids; Daria, rising and falling below the water's surface, her rage lost in shock and confusion, could only gulp air with each time she surfaced, trying literally to keep her head above water, fearing that it was her end for sure. An outcast that came from Highland, Texas to Lawndale, California, and now here she was in the rapids somewhere near the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, doomed to drown. And already Daria could envision what her family and friends would be reacting to her possible death: Tom and Trent agahst and devistated, Aunt Amy, Jake, Helen, Quinn, even Jane crying and mourning. At least for Lawndale, there would be one less outcast to deal with........

So many thoughts, floatsam and jetsam flooding her mind................

Brittany on the other hand, thanked her cheerleading methods which built up her leg muscles, so she had swam better and faster than Mark Spitz, eventually reaching Daria, grabbing a hold of her and swimming to the shore of the other side of the ravine, and cradling the wet Daria, shaking her gently and saying, "Daria? Daria?!? Come on, Daria, you OK?"

Shaking the cobwebs from her mind and coughing up river water, Daria weakly said, Now I wonder who's the stupid nowhere bound narrow minded........." Then without thinking of it, she screwed up her face and burst into tears, crying bitterly and howling, "I CAN'T TAKE IT NO MORE!! I WANT TO GO HOME!! I CAN'T CARRY ON!! I FEEL ASHAMED OF MYSELF!!!!!!!!"

Shifting Daria so that her head was on her shoulder, Brittany held her close, caressing the sobbing Daria's hair, crooning, "There, there..... just cry it out........." But then, the fact that the head cheerleader had forgotten to check with the airport staff if her jet had been refuled, which resulted in the Gulfstream's destruction came back to her; partly because of that memory coming back to haunt her and partly because of sympathy for Daria, Brittany was soon crying as well, her face soon covered in tears as she and Daria sobbed together.

For the next hour or so, the girls cried it out, holding onto each other.......until Brittany remembered an old French song that her step mother Ashley Amber used to sing to her when Brittany was a baby, to calm her and take away any traces of sadness; with that in mind, the head cheerleader tried to control her crying and the memories of her baby years of Ashley Amber came back to her whilst she started singing:

Quel est l'amour, vous demandez?
Le c'est quelque chose nous étions
doués avec; un cadeau d'espoir,
de rêves, de famille, de l'avenir.

Once again, her squeaky yet melodius voice was gradually calming not only her jagged edged hurt, but also that of Daria's as well, Brittany calmly singing in the same style when she took to reading to the senior citizens at the nursing home.

Quel bon est-il l'amour de toute façon?
Qu'aime-t-il fait? L'amour est pour la
famille, les amis, les gens nous avons
grandi avec; l'amour peut construire
le confort, le courage et la foi.

L'amour peut-il chasser notre
douleur de chagrins, et le conflit?
Qu'il peut, et traiter toutes inquiétudes
et craindre, et avec l'amour vient des
baisers et des étreintes et les mots gentils,
et la compassion et l'inquiétude.

Si quoi que vous faites, ne pas tournez l'amour
parce que c'est la chose la plus importante
que vous avez obtenue, avec la foi, l'espoir et
les gens qui soignent et aime vous, même quand
tous sont perdus, même dans le pire de temps.

The effect was working quite well on Brittany and Daria as the girls had stopped crying, before Brittany reprised the song in english:

What is love, you ask?
It's something we were gifted with;
a gift of hope, of dreams, of family,
of the future.

What good is love anyway?
What does love do?
Love is for family, friends, people
we grew up with; love can build
comfort, courage and faith.

Can love chase our sorrows, pain and strife?
That it can, and deal with all worries and fear,
and with love comes kisses and hugs and
kind words, and compassion and concern.

So whatever you do, don't turn love away,
because it's the most important thing you've
got, along with faith, hope and people that
care and love you, even when all is lost,
even in the worst of times.

When she had finished, Brittany looked down at Daria who resumed her Mona Lisa grin and said, "Sounded like something from the Edith Piaf songbook."

"My stepmother used to sing me that song to calm me down when I was a baby," said Brittany. "She said she first heard it during a trip to Paris."

"It worked, didn't it?" said a smirking Daria.

Thankfully there were no rattlesnakes, nor any other unplesant surprises on the shore of the ravine, so the girls camped there facing the rapids; having found some sticks, Brittany piled them together and used her bunny shaped butane lighter to get a fire started to dry their clothing. Thankful still, their back packs were made from a waterproof material. A yard from the flame, wrapped up in their blankets were Daria and Brittany.

"You know," said Daria, "we just broke the no campfires law in a goverment protected forest."

"Not if it's in a rock cove," said Brittany. "How else can we get our clothing dry?"

"Mail them by FedEx to Chernobyl," said Daria, adding, "I should be ashamed of displaying my emotions, after so many years of keeping them hidden."

"Don't be ashamed," said the head cheerleader. "It's no crime to show your feelings."

"Not if you were studying at the Vulcan Academy under the training of Spock," said Daria. "Anyhow, thanks..........for saving me."

"No worries," said a grinning Brittany, her eyes lighting up. "Remember you saved me beforehand, so I returned the favour for you. Not bad for a so called 'bimbo,' don't you think?"

"It's in the way you use it, I guess." said Daria. "So all that time, ever since we landed here, I was looking out for you, that you wouldn't do anything stupid and/or annoy me, in truth, you were looking out for me."

"What do you think?" said Brittany.

Their clothing dry, and the fire doused out, the girls laid down their blankets like they did before and huddled beneath them for protection aginst the cold night, when Daria muttered, "At least Robinson Crusoe didn't have it bad off as we did. He may have had his man Friday, but I had my girl Friday."

"Daria?" asked Brittany.

"What?" said Daria.

"I got a confession to make, something for you alone......," said Brittany, in a hesitant way. "Anyhow, when it comes to friendship, people tend to........debate on what makes a true friend. I mean, there may be a lot of Jodie Landons, Michael 'Mack' Jordans, Sandi Griffins, Jane Lanes and Stacy Rowes........but to me, there's only one Daria Morgendorffer. The day we first met, I had a feeling we would be good friends, which was one of the reasons--don't tell Kevvy that--but, that was one of the reasons I invited you and Jane to my house for that party, that and for helping me with perspective. Just because I loved Kevvy, didn't mean I couldn't love other people, you with me so far? You and Jane got that quality that makes friendship so strong, to withstand the worst of times, which is why, even when you and Jane disagree and fight on occasion, your friendship stays strong, as it is with me and you."

"Me and you?" said Daria.

"Me and you," said Brittany. "Even after you treated me poorly, even after you put me down, I still thought of you as a friend. Even after you called me a bimbo, I put my life on the line to save you from those rapids--that proves my friendship for you is stronger than any problem that comes our way. Thanks for meeting me that first time, Daria Morgendorffer, you're a true friend."

"You also forgot the time when I eschewed my glasses for contact lenes, then didn't bother to wear them, I felt so ashamed, I hid in a toilet stall," added Daria, "until you came by and cheered me up, that it didn't matter if I wore my glasses."

"Think I forgot that one, didn't you?" grinned Brittany.

"Then fill me in on something," said Daria, "if you value friendship so well, why bother to hang with shallow freaks like the fashion club? Let alone a nincompoop like Kevin Thomson?"

"Just don't tell no-one, OK?" said Brittany, "You see, me and Kevvy only see ourselves as just friends; we were paired as a couple by arrangement with Ms. Li because she believes in the old star quarterback/cheerleader stereotype, thinking it might be for the good of 'Laaaaaaawndale High.' So she picked me and Kevvy from the student list, and paired us up and we were told to act like a typical boyfriend girlfriend jock couple in love for extracirricular activity. Oh, and did I mention it was Li that had Kevvy join the Lawndale Lions, seeing as to how he'd look like the typical jock? Everything was all arranged and me and Kevvy have been like that ever since."

"So it was Li that arranged all that," said Daria, "not to mention make a QB out of Kevin. All that time you were a phony couple, and though you two acted like you two were in love, yet you two were faking it and were good platonic friends. Now THAT was a shock. But wait--I thought it was his dad, Dougie that made a football star out of him"

"Well............I guess he had a hand in it. Who knows? Just never tell anyone what I said," said Brittany.

"Your secret's safe with me," assured Daria. "'Only another thing bothers me: Was Kevin truly a real idiot, or was he just putting on a show as part of the stereotypical 'dumb jock' for Li's benefit, if not that of Lawndale High's?"

"Who knows?" said a quizzical Brittany. "He was like that the day I first met him, But given Ms. Li, and maybe Ms. Barch, it wouldn't be surprsing."

"Or for that matter, maybe even his dad made him that way. Go figure." said Daria. "Night, Britt."

"'Night, Daria," said Brittany, before she and Daria turned from each other to get some sleep..........until after a few minutes, Daria said, "Brittany?"

"What?" said Brittany.

"Can you sing a lullaby?"

"Sure," said Brittany, who complied by singing the classic tune Mockingbird; soon, she and Daria, as Jane once said, had blasted off to sleepy land.........

For Daria, that fall in the rapids, combined with Brittany's confession was a sort of wake up call in a way. True, she never would had gotten lost in the forest, but if it hadn't been for her forest experience and knowledge on how to make it past the dangers and a way out to civilisation, Brittany would had been lost till she died from starvation, a snakebite, or who knows what else worse.

By morning, the girls walked along the shoreline of the ravine which opened out onto a valley........and at last outside the forest; a dirt road led the path several kilometres, no doubt to a main motorway.

"YAY!!" cheered Brittany. "We made it!! "We're almost home!! We never would've made it if it hadn't been for you and your expertise!! If you weren't a girl, I'd kiss you!!"

"Lucky me," deadpanned Daria. "But then I couldn't have pulled through myself without your help."

"What am I saying?" said Brittany. "Who cares who I kiss? I'll kiss you anyway!!" Saying so, she, for the second time, grabbed Daria, only now she sprinkled Daria's face with big kisses.

"You know what?" said a bored Daria, "you're kiss crazy."

Having endured a round of Brittany's lip gloss coated kisses (12 kisses in number that day), Daria and Brittany walked down the dirt road......having gone a kilometre, and that was when Brittany's cell 'phone started playing the Monday Night Football theme, which was Kevin's ringtone.

"My 'phone!!" chirped Brittany. "We must be outside the roaming zone!!" Picking up the 'phone, she said, "Is that you, Kevvy?!? IT IS!!!!! IT'S ME, BRITT!!!! I MISSED YOU AND WORRIED FOR YOU!! You wouldn't believe what happened!! Me and Daria were stranded in a forest in the Rocky Mountains. No, not Rocky Balboa....and no, not Rocky the Flying Squirrel, either!! Anyhow, we're outside the forest, and if it hadn't been for Daria, I wouldn't be talking to you. Listen tell Mack, Jodie, Jane and my dad, tell them we're safe and sound, and as soon as we get to a town with an airport, tell them to get me and Daria!! Kisses!!"

Right after Brittany hung up, Daria's 'phone played Tom Jones singing It's Not Unusual, which was Tom Sloane's ring tone; picking it up, Daria said, "Tom? It's me all right, and you wouldn't believe what I've been through....having to spend three days or so with a kiss crazy crybaby bimbo head cheerleader named Brittany...well we were trapped in the forests of the Rocky Mountains, but we just crawled out from that green hell.....tell Jane, my parents and Quinn we're OK and we'll get to a town where we'll try to get back home. Oh? Jane said her dad's somewhere here? Well....... I'll try to get back to you........I see.....bless her heart.........tell Jane thanks for taping the marathon for me. Till next time."

No sooner had Daria hung up, a new voice called out, "Hey!!" Turning to where it came from, she could see it was--who else?-- Jane's dad, Vincent Lane, taking photos of the outside perimiter of the forest. "You must be Jane's friend, Daria; Jane's told me and her mother a lot 'bout you. Name's Vincent Lane, her dad, I just came out here from the motel in Aspen to take some shots of the Rocky Mountain National Park."

"Rocky Mountain National Park?" said Daria in surprise. "It's not a remote forest?"

"Far from it," said Vincent. "There's plenty of camping facilities and such scattered here. By the way, did you hear what just happened? Some of the rangers found the wreckage of a Gulfstream jet that crashed here two days ago; so far, they haven't found any survivors.

Burning with embarrassment, Daria could only turn to an equally embarrassed Brittany who said, "EEP!! Sorry, Daria........"

Sighing, Daria muttered, "Brittany Taylor, don't ever change......."

One thing was for sure.............their troubles were over.

Weeks later, at the Lane house, Jane carefully poured the liquid nitrogen in the thermograph camera, saying, "So it was a luck of the draw that my dad would be there at the right place at the right time as you and Brittany were. And all that time you two were lost in the Rocky Mountain National Park, and not a remote forest."

"We were just lucky," said Daria, "that the park rangers never saw me and Brittany in the nude when we bathed in that brook, let alone slept for two nights, nor found out who flash froze that rattlesnake, which was technically park property, nor even found out who lit that campfire near the rapids. Luckier still, was the fact your dad took me and Britt to Aspen where he was staying and we got a room, so that we could call Steve Taylor to come by in his Lear jet and after assessing the wreckage of his daugther's jet, got me and Brittany home before filing a lawsuit with Sea Tac Airport for the staff's negligence in fueling the Gulfstream, resulting in the dismissal of the staff members that forgot to refuel, along with a cash settlement of 7 billion dollars."

"Taylor justice, huh?" said Jane. "Well, the thermo cam's set, let's test it out."

Training the thermo cam on Daria. Jane switched on a video screen which showed and outline of Daria's body, with colour shades of white, orange, blue, green and red.

"Looks like we got an idea of what 98.6 degrees loks like," said Jane.

"You think so?" said Daria, before her cell 'phone played Aqua's Barbie Girl (Brittany's ring tone), so she answered it, saying, "What is it, Britt?"

"Daria!!" chirped Birttany on the other end. "Great news!! Remember when my dad sued the Seattle airport for their mistake? we got 7 billion dollars, and my dad used some of it to get me a new Gulfstream!! Let's celebrate!! "I'll fly us over to San Francisco for a fun week!!"

Hearing that, Daria shifted to her deadpan voice, saying mechanically, "Sorry, you have called Daria Morgendorffer; I just stepped out for now, but if you give me your message at the sound of the beep, I'll get back to you. Wait for the beep. BEEP!!" then hanging up.

"Guess there's more than one way to get rid of a bimbo," said Jane.

"Especially if it's the queen of the bimbos," said Daria.