(Music: "When I Grow Up", Garbage. That oughta get 'em back to their rightful place as the most popular band in Daria fanfic...)

(On the whole, a pleasant, clean, rather dull place, like most new office buildings, with the walls painted white and a soft corporate-blue carpet. Slowly pan across to a tall, blonde, sturdy (is that the euphemism these days?) woman who looks to be about forty-five, wearing a dark blue power suit, and holding a coffee mug. She walks over to a window and gently touches the thick, opaque white board covering it with some tenderness, as if it were a small child. The ringing of a mobile phone interrupts the scene. She pulls it out of her pocket and thumbs it on.)

WOMAN: Yes? Aleph. About time I got through. I just got a call from California. Apparently, Buffy Summers is definitely dead...

"ALEPH": (phone V/O, female voice we've heard somewhere before, interrupting) Where every trick in the occult books fail, a plain old vanilla hitman with a sniper rifle succeeds. I won't say I told you so. (pause) Wait, I just did.

WOMAN: I wouldn't mind talking to the guy about his accuracy. We just wanted her paralysed, not dead. As it is...

"ALEPH": (interrupting again) We've got at least two weeks to raise hell in any sense we want while the Watchers' Council gets the replacement out and fighting. If they even have the replacement.

WOMAN: Well yes, if that's the way you want to put it. Of course, it'd help if you actually had some idea of how you wanted to do the raising. And...

"ALEPH": Nah, destruction and torture's only fun when it's spontaneous. Don't tell me you didn't enjoy that week in San Francisco. When you weren't getting so goddamn worried about being in the same state as Buffy Summers, "Super Slayer". Who was obviously just as vulnerable to the rest to the common high-velocity lump of lead.

WOMAN: You did see the Council reports, right? Three dozen potential Slayers under guard and education? They don't even really need...

"ALEPH": I'm thinking "gift horse", "look", "mouth", Tav. The Sunnydale hunters' only real weapon is dead thanks to us, the never-coming-back kind of dead, and getting cremated within the week. Going by those reports you make such a big thing out of, the Council of Wankers don't know we exist. Ignorance is bliss. Only not for the ignorant. C'mon, steal a Learjet, get over here and kill somebody! Don't tell me you're still living on bottled blood...

"TAV": (looks down at the red "coffee" in the mug she's holding) What about it?

"ALEPH": When's the last time you reached out and drank someone?

"TAV": (calls it) Last night. (sighs) Another damn stoner. You know how crap they taste... Anyway, how are we going to find out who and where the new Slayer is?

"ALEPH": Ears to the ground. Even if the new one does lay low, someone'll always be dumb or unlucky enough to fall right into her lap.


(Music: "Destroy 2000 Years of Culture", Atari Teenage Riot. Opening.)

(This is one of those scenes where it just has to be raining hard. To the beat of the music, if possible. Jane is at her front door, looking daggers at Daria standing outside. Whatever twisted idea of a moment there was is broken when Daria shoulders her way in from fear, knocking Jane roughly out of the way, and slams the door behind her.)

JANE: (pissed off) What the hell are you--

DARIA: (desperate, pleading) Please, Jane, there's something out there trying to kill me.


JANE: (semi-rasped) What?


(Travers is again behind his desk, this time talking into a phone. In deference to the stereotype, it's black. In defiance of it, it's touch-tone.)

TRAVERS: A vampire attacked her. Was she waiting for it? Expecting it? (pause) No? So why was she... You don't know. Two more... she ran? Faster than the vampires?


(Music: "Blow the Millennium, Blow", Catatonia)

(Daria is sitting down, some kind of hot drink in her hands, still visibly shaken. Jane is sitting down across from her, having difficulty restraining herself from leaping across the table and doing something that, were this fic written by Canadibrit, would probably be done by Lynn Cullen to Upchuck. [1] In other words, violence and plenty of it.)

JANE: (cold) So, you're telling me you were attacked. By something which looked like it was out of that crappy vampire show on the WB. And fought like one too. And died like one, turning to dust. And if it wasn't for the look on your face...

DARIA: Yeah. (looks down, as if ashamed) Just... thank God this place was closer... If I'd ran any further...

JANE: Where were you? What were you doing?

DARIA: (sigh) Self-pity. You know that tiny old park by the landfill?

JANE: I jog past it every day... wait. You're not tired. (in for the kill) Since when could you run so far?

DARIA: (genuine shock) What are you talking abou-- I guess I did. I don't know.

JANE: (sarcastic, slightly bitter) Won't you make a good journalist someday. Guess you'll have to...

DARIA: Please, Jane, spare me. My life's already turning into one bad WB show, don't make it Dawson's Creek as well.

JANE: (sigh, can't hide her exasperation but tries anyway) Okay, fair enough. Total silence on that topic, and that means from you as well. So, what are you going to do?

DARIA: (resigned) No idea. Hide in my closet for the rest of my life, maybe. (her face is deadpan, her eyes suggest she's serious)

JANE: You do realize that would mean setting foot outside. With whatever was out there still out there.


DARIA: Can I borrow yours?


(He's still on the phone.)

TRAVERS: So it has to be her. No-one else is showing any aptitude whatsoever? (pause) Just our luck. Can the Hellmouth be left... oh, you already have someone there? Excellent... (pause) I think I'll handle this personally. I'll be taking an assistant -- I assume you can arrange the necessary bookings on the next... (pause) Not for a day or two? (sighs) Very well then. (pause) And to you.


(Music: "Blisterment", The Superjesus)

(Overhead shot of Daria lying down on Jane's couch, sleeping fitfully. She's having "the nightmares"... we see very quick cuts through some dark and dirty sewer, a small, dark and not so dirty underground lair, one or two different cemeteries, the power-suited vampire from earlier, a set of claws at Trent's neck, Tom and Daria duking it out, and the family assortment of evil demons and artefacts. She awakes with a start.)

JANE: (O/S) Daria?

DARIA: (bleary) I'm up, Jane!

JANE: (O/S, sardonic) Don't wanna be late!

DARIA: (quiet, to herself) No... wouldn't want that... [2] (she hauls herself off of the couch and half-staggers out of shot)


(Music continues. Daria half-staggers in, and Jane is standing near the fridge.)

JANE: I really don't know why I bother looking, with Trent in the house. There's nothing in here except Mom's leftover mushroom surprise. [3] (shudders briefly)

DARIA: Do not talk to me about that. Ever again. Do you understand me?

JANE: Whoa, OK, OK... If I'd known you were still bitter about it...

DARIA: (getting angry) Me? Bitter? What the hell--

(Interrupt this pleasant scene with a nearby phone ringing. Jane trades looks with Daria and picks it up.)

JANE: (cautious) Yo.

(Standard Daria diagonal phone split-screen. Jane on the left, Daria's mother in her kitchen on the right. Buffy fans, meet Helen Morgendorffer, brown round-cut hair, magenta power suit (this is a cartoon, 'kay?), and an aggressive demeanour, unless she's having a nice heart-to-heart with Daria [4] or trying to suck up to, well... anyone. Since she works as your classic ambulance-chasing lawyer, these two personality traits suit her well.)

HELEN: (sickly sweet) Hello, Jane, sorry for calling at this ungodly hour, but you wouldn't happen to have seen Daria, would you? I know you two have had your disagreements lately but--

JAKE: (O/S, Daria's father, think Homer Simpson in a shirt, tie and (possibly) toupee. Usual pathetically funny Jake-going-postal anger. [5])Dammit, Helen, quit beating around the bush! My kiddo could be anywhere out there and--

JANE: (hears him rant, slightly amused) Tell Jake to relax, Mrs Morgendorffer, she's right here.

HELEN: Really. May I ask why?

(Jane covers the mouthpiece, whispers to Daria)

JANE: (sharp) What do I say? It's your mom. On the warpath.

DARIA: Oh, hell... (sighs) I'll handle it. (Jane gives her the phone)Hey, Mom.

HELEN: Hello, Daria. You wouldn't care to tell me how I could see you in bed at eleven o'clock one night and not at eight the next morning?

DARIA: Erm... well... you see, Mom...


(We see Willow, laden with bags and suitcases, walk up to the door and stop, exhausted and looking like her best friend's just died. Unsurprising since that's exactly what's happened (you have read part one, haven't you?). Tara follows, similarly burdened and looking almost as miserable. Willow puts a suitcase down, and tries a key on the door. After much rattling and frustrated thumping, she shrugs her shoulders and sits down on the suitcase.)

TARA: She... changed the locks?

WILLOW: (nodding) Looks like it.

TARA: Why?

(Willow just shrugs.)


TARA: Can you get in any other way?

WILLOW: (shakes her head) Not since that whole Hansel-and-Gretel-demon, burning-at-the-stake thing last year I told you about. [6] (sigh) She said she'd be home (looks at her watch) an hour ago.

(a longer pause)

TARA: Do you want to talk about it?

(Willow looks down, gathering herself before attempting to answer, and in the oldest trick in the dodgy-fic-writing book, Willow's mother Sheila's car is heard rolling loudly up the driveway off-screen, followed by a door slamming, and her voice:)

SHEILA: (O/S) Sorry I'm so late, Willow...

(Sheila enters the shot. Daria fans, this woman is kinda like Daria's mother pre-WWIH, but without the occasional sessions of guilty "Quality Parenting". Basically, Kate Cullen could take lessons from her in being a negligent, callous workaholic.)

SHEILA: ... the flight got delayed an hour, and apparently there's another conference out near Carter County. So I bought seats on the next flight for you and Ira, but he had to postpone, I don't know what we'll do about that, and we'll go there early for the family reunion, it's all been arranged... (actually looks in her daughter's general direction, and is immediately hostile on seeing Tara) Oh. Is this Bunny? [7]

WILLOW: No. It's Tara. I told you about her, remember. (A memory comes back to Sheila with visible effect, and she tries to speak) Buffy is dead. (shorter pause, Willow stifles a sob, her mother tries to open her mouth again) Two days ago... (starts to openly cry, staggering a little before Tara catches hold of her)

(Sheila's mouth opens, and stays open. Obviously she doesn't have the most remote idea of what to say.)


(Music: "Blood Money", Primal Scream)

(It's raining again. Look, I know it's summer over there, but not from where I'm sitting (Australia in August). Anyway, it's good for the atmosphere. Two small, charter jets are seen coming in to land, one after the other, neither heavily laden. A businesswoman gets out of one, two men in familiar tweed out of the other.)


(Music continues. There's an open food and drink counter nearby, and one or two cleaners standing around. The two gentlemen enter through an outside gate, looking tired and very wet. From this angle, we can better recognise them -- it's Travers and Anderson.)

TRAVERS: Someone did have transport arranged?

ANDERSON: We... there was supposed to be a taxi waiting.

TRAVERS: For how long, exactly?

(Anderson sighs deeply... we pan across the room to the businesswoman -- "Tav" from earlier -- standing in the corner nursing a mug of (real) coffee. Looking up briefly, she sees the tweed, and face-faults. [9] She hurries out.)


(Music continues. "Tav", standing inside a locked cubicle, pulls out her mobile and dials a number.)

"TAV": Aleph. It's me. We have a problem.

"ALEPH": (sarcastic, phone V/O) Oh, hi, Aleph, sorry for calling at two-thirty AM, how's it going? What is the problem, is the Watcher's Council National Convention at the Hotel Oakwood or something?

"TAV": Could be.

"ALEPH": Excuse me?

"TAV": But probably not. Put it this way: how many Americans do you know that wear tweed on a regular basis? 'Cause I just saw a pair come in on the two-o'clock, and I doubt they're here for a holiday.

"ALEPH": Why the hell would the Watchers want to come to this hole? It's got all the vampiric activity of a salad sandwich, and that's after us showing up.

"TAV": Well, it couldn't possibly have anything to do with the new Slayer, now, could it?

"ALEPH": The last four Slayers have all been called somewhere in or near North America. The odds of the next one coming from around here are...

"TAV": (interrupting, for once) Still the same as anywhere else. Where were you in math class?

"ALEPH": Where were you in English? Narrative imperative, Tav. If you flip a coin fifty times and it comes up with fifty heads, you expect a tails, and if it's mystical, you get a tails. It's all tied up to what people naturally expect.

"TAV": That's great, Aleph. I may be getting a crossbow bolt through my heart from some idiot in tweed, but at least I'll be able to go down screaming out the laws of occult probability...

"ALEPH": You really need to work on that sarcasm. Have they noticed you?

"TAV": Do you hear me talking and think, "moron"? (brief pause) Don't answer that. I ran for the bathrooms the moment I saw the bastards. Since I'm still here talking to you...

"ALEPH": OK. You're at the CCI, right? Arrivals lounge bathrooms?

"TAV": Yeah...

"ALEPH": You haven't seen enough movies. That airport hasn't been renovated in years. Go to the window above the basins, remove and exit.


(We see a wall, with a row of high, frosted-glass windows in it. One starts to rattle, and gets pulled into what we quickly figure out is the women's toilet. Tav pulls herself out, lands awkwardly on the ground, and looks quickly from side to side in case someone saw her. Someone did -- brief cut to her POV, some maintenance type is running off, presumably to the main entrance. Tav takes off after him, and catches up before he rounds the corner. You can tell because her hands go around his chest, her fangs go around his neck, blood begins to spurt in time with the man's dying heartbeat [10] and the screen goes black because the biggest Daria site won't take any fic above PG-13. We fade back to a shot of Tav dragging the body into a conveniently nearby ditch.)


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[1] Buffy fans: Lynn Cullen is-- ah, screw it. Go here and find out for yourself. [back]

[2] Welcome to the Hellmouth, peeps. Buffy episode #1. First bedroom scene. No, not that kind, you pervs. [back]

[3] As seen in Crazy Nutso's "Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's Anti-Teen". Denial -- it's not just a river in Egypt anymore. Any Buffy fan who thinks the diehard B/A 'shippers are bad with Surprise/Innocence/Becoming/Prom etc. should check out the contortions almost all Daria fans go through to try and exorcise this one dire ep called "Depth Takes A Holiday" (as does plot, jokes that are actually funny, decent characterisation and believability). [back]

[4] As seen in most "Daria" season finales and premieres since "Write Where it Hurts", among other episodes. Not half as cheesy as it sounds, thank God. [back]

[5] I believe it was Lew who coined that term (in his semi-epic "Heroes..."). Credit where credit's due, especially if it's on Helen's platinum card. As for the toupee, there's been nothing in the show (or even fanfic) which points that way, but it wouldn't surprise me... [back]

[6] See the Buffy ep "Gingerbread". [back]

[7] Both "Bunny" and Tara are blonde and female, and given the amount of time Sheila and Ira spend with their child, it's doubtful they'd have actually seen the former, so it's an understandable mistake... if not a forgivable one. [back]

[8] A one-runway airport is seen in The Daria Diaries, and it's a fanfic convention to make it international (great for getting OH to Japan for those Sailor Moon crossovers). The exact name is based on a reply on the boards when I asked about it. The state Lawndale's in has never been named (unlike in Buffy, where Sunnydale is Santa Barbara, CA, with less zits and a populace that looks older than it is), but they're not as random about it as the Simpsons -- it's universally agreed that it's somewhere in New England. [back]

[9] Damned, damned anime fans... [back]

[10] A little detail I picked up from Canadibrit's "Run Away From Homecoming". A fanfic and an anatomy lesson all in one. Memo to Gunbunny: I know I've said this before, but you and CB have to have some kind of meeting of the brains (groan)... [back]