Fates Entwined

Learning Curve

"Hey Ted," Daria stepped into the gym.

One of her classes that day had been canceled due to the instructor getting the flu. She decided she would go to the gymnasium a little earlier due to that.

Ted was practicing archery with a foam target stationed back towards the wall. He held in his hand a wooden crossbow. Judging from the number of times the bullseye was struck, it looked like Ted had been quite proficient.

"Hey Daria," Ted stopped what he was doing.

"So, uh, what're you up to?" asked Daria.

"Just archery practice," Ted said calmly as he took aim again.

This time, the arrow flew just under the red bullseye.

"Remember back when we first met how I said I learned sword fighting from medieval manuscripts?" Ted asked.

"I remember," Daria replied, recalling how he had beaten up to three guys in a virtual reality game.

"Well, I taught myself how to shoot using a crossbow from those same manuscripts," Ted told her.

"Interesting," Daria noted. "Gonna use that crossbow for a siege?"

"If the situation calls for it," Ted turned around. "You wanna give this a try?"

Daria looked at Ted in surprise. She had never even held a weapon before and the closest thing she had to a weapon back in her Highland High days had been her witty repertoire.

"Um, guess I could give it a try," Daria conceded, realizing she didn't have too much hobbies going on at the moment besides writing, hanging out with Jane, and doing the self-defense class with Aunt Amy.

"Hold it close to your face like this," Ted got next to Daria to steady her aim with the crossbow.

Daria blushed as Ted held her hands.

"Now take aim and fire," Ted told her.

Daria aimed at the foam target and pressed down on the trigger. The arrow sailed through the air and hit the blue circle just outside the white circle which surrounded the red center.

"Not bad for a first try," Ted complimented. "You could get really good at this, Daria!"

"Thanks Ted," Daria smiled.

Ted looked down at his clock.

"Looks like we've got at least fifteen minutes to go before Miss Barksdale's class starts," Ted confirmed. "Want to give this a few more tries?"

"I'd like that Ted," Daria smiled. "I'd like that."

oooo

Highland.

"Ahahahaha!" Len Greenberg laughed as he sauntered outside the Maxi-mart store with Beavis and Butt-head.

"Uh, huh huh huh!"

"Heh heh heh heh heh!"

"Oh man, you guys are cool!" Len told the pair. "Butt-head, did you see the look on that Maxi-mart owner's face when you slapped Beavis on the back just as he was sipping that slurpee and Beavis spit all that slurpee ice into the store owner's face? Priceless!"

"Yeah, that was cool," Beavis agreed. "Heh heh heh!"

"Yeah, that Maxi-mart dude may not ever let us in again," said Butt-head. "Uh, huh huh huh huh huh!"

"Yeah, that dude deserved it!" Beavis agreed. "Before we turned eighteen, that fartknocker would never let us look at Playboy in the magazine section!"

"Let's show this douchebag what it means to cross us," Len took out three spray paint cans, tossing two to Beavis and Butt-head.

Len took the initiative, spray painting "Maxi-mart sucks!" on the side of the wall.

"Uh huh huh huh!" Butt-head chuckled, spray-painting a giant phallic symbol into the wall.

"Heh heh heh!" Beavis laughed. "Fire! Fire!"

After repeatedly writing "fire" across the wall, Beavis finally settled down as Len stopped what he was doing to address the pair.

"You know guys," Len told the duo. "Acts of vandalism and hooliganism are fun and all, but are you dudes ready to take it to the next level?"

"You mean we can play in that band finally?" Beavis grew excited again. "What was the name again?"

"I think it was the Dick Assburgers, huh huh huh!" laughed Butt-head.

"Wait, I think they were called the Dillweed Apes," Beavis chuckled. "Heh heh heh!"

A flash of anger seemed to cross Len Greenberg's face but he quickly hid it.

"Guys, guys," Len told the two. "We are the Death Apostles."

"Uh, oh yeah," Butt-head finally remembered.

"Tomorrow night we're going to be having an important party," Len said to the two. "Think of it as an initiation rite to see if you have what it takes."

"Whoa, that's cool!" Beavis exclaimed. "Will there be chicks?"

"As a matter of fact, there will," Len smiled. "There's going to be a specific chick there for you guys."

"We're gonna score!" Beavis looked at Butt-head excitedly. "We're finally gonna score!"

"So, uh, just show up and we'll score?" asked Butt-head.

"Absolutely," Len took out a piece of paper and wrote down the address. "This girl will really be looking forward to you."

"This rules," Butt-head took the piece of paper.

"Hope to see you there," Len smiled and walked off.

"Beavis, the age of innocence has come to an end," Butt-head said to his companion excitedly.

oooo

"So how'd your day go?" asked Jane.

Both Jane and Daria sat inside of Daria's dorm room.

"Learned how to use a crossbow," Daria mentioned casually.

"Nice," Jane's eyes widened. "Traverse any dungeons yet?"

"Not so far," confirmed Daria. "But you'll be the first to know if I level up."

"So meet up with that Eric guy yet?" asked Jane.

"No, but I did make plans to hang out with Ted tomorrow," Daria told her.

"Ted?" Jane was surprised. "Dating two guys at once, huh? Daria, I didn't know you had it in you!"

"C'mon, it's not like that," insisted Daria. "Both seem like decent guys in their own right. I'd just like to get to know them both as friends first."

"And once you've gotten to know them both, who gets first-class treatment after that?" Jane asked humorously.

"Whoever has the most winning personality," Daria chuckled.

"Say, how's your family been doing lately?" asked Jane out of curiosity.

Before Daria could answer, her laptop indicated to her that she had just received a video chat invitation.

"Daria!" Quinn's cheerful face popped up on the screen.

"Speak of the Devil," Jane muttered.

"Hey Quinn," Daria faced her laptop.

"Hello Daria, is everything going well for you?" asked her sister.

"I'm etching out a living on ramen noodles and fraternal hazing," Daria answered sardonically.

"I thought I'd shoot you a message to let you know that I'm finally going steady with someone," Quinn said excitedly.

"Um, that's great I guess," Daria tilted her head. "Well, maybe not so great for those three guys always following you around. You're not going out with Joey, Jeffy, or Jamie, are you?"

"No Daria, I've found a man who completes me in every way," Quinn smiled. "Come say hi, Kenneth!"

A handsome blonde man who looked to be around eighteen or so appeared on the computer screen next to Quinn. He wore a blue suit which complemented his own blue eyes.

"Hi, name's Kenneth Malone," the young man smiled at Daria. "Quinn's told me so much about you."

"Did she tell you about the body parts I'm hiding in the fridge?" Daria joked.

"Daria!" Quinn exclaimed.

"Sorry, couldn't help myself," Daria smiled.

"So when do you come back?" asked Quinn.

"Beginning of December when winter break starts," Daria confirmed. "How's senior year?"

"Well, being in the same grade as Kevin Thompson is going to take some getting used to," admitted Quinn.

"Oh yeah, that's right," recalled Daria. "Kevin had to repeat the year. At least Lawndale High can look forward to one more year of football victory."

"Well Daria, I just thought I'd give you a call to see how you were doing," Quinn said cheerfully. "I hope to see you when you get back."

Quinn reached for something on the monitor, apparently to try to turn the video chat off. However, it didn't seem to have any effect.

"Oh Kenneth," Quinn wrapped her arms around her new boyfriend.

Immediately the two of them began to make out, much to Daria and Jane's horror.

"Uh, Quinn," Daria told her sister. "Video chat's still on."

A sudden wave of embarrassment washed over Quinn as she realized she hadn't turned off the chat.

"Having fun, you two?" Jane asked humorously.

"Whoops!" Quinn cried out. "See ya! Bye!"

Fumbling her hands across the screen, Quinn pressed down on the off button to shut off the video chat for good.

"What was that about?" Jane asked bemusedly.

"When you have Quinn as a sister, she just has to show off her new toys," Daria shook her head. "I guess that's what I get for kicking over her Barbie dolls with my Megazord when we were in elementary school."

oooo

Eric Ravencroft sat in his room upstairs with a laptop on his legs and a wineglass in his hand.

He looked down at his phone, contemplating when would be the right time to call Daria. The girl certainly intrigued him with her intelligence and wit, that much was certain.

Looking down at his screen again, Eric noticed that he had a video chat message from a colleague from another State.

"Hello Len," Eric replied, sipping his wineglass.

Len Greenberg's face popped up on the screen.

"How goes the recruitment process?" asked Eric.

"I've found two new perfect recruits," Len grinned. "They'll do anything I ask."

"Ugh, you're not recruiting more delinquents, are you?" Eric asked in disgust.

"Well, they are repeating their senior year of high school," admitted Len.

The look on Eric's face told Len all he needed to know.

"Hey, I know what you're thinking and you can back off with the condescending attitude!" Len snarled. "You live in Boston so you got a large pool of college-educated students to pick from! Me on the other hand? I'm in a little rustbelt town in Texas so I have to take what I can get!"

"Look, just make sure they're reliable before you fully initiate them into the Death Apostles," sighed Eric.

"You can count on me!" Len smiled. "These two fools actually think they're joining a band!"

"What are the names of these new recruits anyways?" asked Eric out of curiosity.

"Beavis and Butt-head," answered Len.

A look of bewilderment and disgust crossed Eric's face. Just what kind of names were those?

"In any case I must sign off," Eric took a sip from his glass. "Just keep doing what you're doing."

"Will do," conceded Len.

Logging off the chat, Eric shook his head.

Turning off his laptop, Eric looked down at his cell phone once again. Without hesitation, he dialed Daria's number this time.

oooo

"Hey," Daria waved as she took a seat at the local pizza place.

"Hi Daria," Eric smiled. "Glad we could meet."

"So what's been going on?" Daria asked curiously.

"Right now I'm concerned for a colleague of mine who lives out of State," admitted Eric Ravencroft. "His hiring policies are most lacking. The kind of ruffians and delinquents he takes under his wing for his business will surely come back to bite him one day."

"So, his hiring policy is to not hire anyone who looks like they might've passed the ninth grade?" asked Daria.

"Hahaha! As a matter of fact, yes," laughed Eric.

"Well, he's got his work cut out for him," Daria smirked. "Where is this guy anyways?"

"Oh, some town in Texas somewhere," Eric said dismissively. "I believe it's called Highland."

"Really now?" Daria raised an eyebrow. "That's where I'm from."

"You're from Texas?" asked Eric almost in disbelief.

"I'm sure I can find my lasso and cowgirl boots back in my parents' home if you ever want to see them," Daria joked.

Eric looked at Daria in pleasant surprise. She was certainly unlike the stereotypical Texan he had always thought of. And while he did have a Texas associate in Len Greenberg who didn't really have a southern draw, Eric still didn't consider his Texas contact to be the most sophisticated person around. The only other Texan he knew was the Dean of Arts and Sciences, Mr. Candy, but that was another can of worms altogether…

"So what made you leave Texas to come all the way to the East Coast?" asked Eric.

"It happened when my parents got new careers in this town in the Mid-Atlantic called Lawndale," admitted Daria. "And the rest, they say, is history."

"Anything you miss about Highland?" asked Eric.

"Not the tap water," Daria quipped.

Soon enough, the waitress brought the pizza over. Both Daria and Eric picked up their respective slices.

"Well, I think you'll find Boston to be quite an enjoyable stay," Eric promised her.

"I look forward to all the parallel parking," Daria saluted with a glass of water.

"One other thing you should know about Boston," Eric told her. "Old money. There's plenty of those types around. Not that I'm totally complaining. I also happen to be from one of those families."

"I've familiarized myself with them in high school," Daria acknowledged. "My ex-boyfriend in high school came from one of those families."

"Then it looks like you know all about us rich snobs," smiled Eric.

"I thought I did," Daria smiled back. "Then college happened."

"College is all about finding yourself," Eric told her. "Something tells me you're going to shape up just fine here."

"You're not doing too shabby yourself," Daria replied. "I mean, managing a fraternity and a religious organization is quite the feat of multi-tasking."

Eric looked down at his cell phone after it buzzed. He had just received a text message from Graham over an important matter.

"My apologies, I just got an important message," Eric said to Daria. "I'm afraid I have to go."

"Polo time already at the country club?" Daria joked.

Eric chuckled. Daria certainly had a biting sense of humor.

"I'll take half of this pizza to go, please," Eric told a nearby waitress.

"Whatever it is, I'm sure it's important," said Daria. "Good luck."

"Thanks Daria," Eric got up. "You're an intelligent young woman who has a lot to look forward to. Don't ever change yourself for anyone else."

"Thanks Eric," Daria nodded graciously.

"Let's meet up again next week," Eric suggested.

"I'd like that," Daria agreed. "Just give me a call."

As soon as the waitress handed Eric his box, Eric took the pizza and left, giving a friendly wave to Daria in the process. Daria smiled as he walked out. Perhaps college would be more fun than she thought.