Fates Entwined

Aftershock

"Are you okay, Daria?" asked Aunt Amy.

"I'm still a little shell shocked but otherwise still ticking," Daria nodded.

She was with her aunt now. After having told her everything, Daria felt like a big burden had been taken off her shoulders.

"I'm not sure if you should still stay at the school," Amy told her niece. "I think it's best if you stay with me."

"You know, you're probably right," Daria conceded. "Tomorrow I'll go to the office and let them know I won't be living on campus."

"Why did this teacher attack you?" asked Amy Barksdale.

"Even I don't fully know why," Daria admitted. "However, he did mention two things of interest."

"Oh?" Aunt Amy looked curious.

"He said something about needing this thing called Ambrosia," Daria told her aunt.

"Ambrosia… nectar of the Greek gods," Amy smiled coyly. "So that's how ol' Zeus could maintain his stamina with all those mortal women for so long."

"Could I use your computer?" asked Daria.

"Certainly," Aunt Amy led Daria to her office.

"Professor March also mentioned some group called the Death Apostles," Daria told her aunt. "I wonder if they're some kind of cult."

"Don't think I've ever heard of them," Amy shook her head. "They certainly can't be that Dungeons and Dragons group who meets up across the street from here."

"Let's see," Daria typed in a search for Ambrosia on more recent news articles.

"Hmm, interesting," Aunt Amy looked at the screen with her niece.

After scrolling down, Daria finally clicked on an article which looked like it would provide the most context.

"Ambrosia," read Daria. "A new drug on the streets named after the mythological food and drink of the gods… popular among both gang members and college students alike… highly addictive and leaves the user feeling drained and desperate for more afterwards…"

"Great, a hippie teacher tries to murder my niece for a quick fix," Aunt Amy frowned.

"Is nothing sacred?" Daria echoed the sentiments.

"Certainly not in higher education," Amy snarked.

"Hmm, I'm not finding as much stuff on these Death Apostles," Daria continued her internet search.

"Maybe they don't want to be found?" Aunt Amy ventured a guess.

"Hey, wait a minute," Daria clicked on a link. "Local boys stop a blood cult in Texas town… Beavis and Butt-head now seen as local heroes…"

Daria shook her head to clear it. She certainly had not expected to see Beavis and Butt-head in Highland's local news.

"Something the matter?" asked Amy.

"I found some information I needed," Daria grimaced. "But I didn't expect it to connect with my past like this."

Aunt Amy looked at the article along with the photos of Beavis and Butt-head.

"Hmm, that one with the brunette hair looks familiar," Amy noted. "What was his name again? Butterbean?"

"Butt-head actually," Daria said monotonously.

"Sounds like he has lovely parents," Aunt Amy smirked.

"I don't think it would be too far off to say they were raised by wolves," Daria shrugged. "Eat your heart out, Rudyard Kipling."

"You know, now that you mention Butt-head's name, wasn't he the one who—"

"Don't finish it, Aunt Amy," Daria looked at her aunt sternly.

"Right, leave it in the past," Amy smiled sheepishly.

oooo

"Thank goodness for online lectures," Daria said as she and Jane walked through Boston the next day. "It's almost like borrowing notes from Jodie in high school after being sick for a few days."

"I take it you've been playing bit of hooky?" asked Jane.

"Yeah, after what happened, I was a bit shaken up," Daria said honestly.

The two of them entered into a pizza joint and sat down.

"So why are you still here?" asked Jane. "Why haven't you left? It's clear there's something fishy going on in your campus."

"I don't know," Daria shrugged. "I guess it's because I want to show them, whoever they may be, that they can't break me."

"Daria, you're not dealing with Ms. Li anymore," Jane reminded her friend. "You're dealing with psychopaths, drug addicts, and possibly a homicidal cult. All of this would make for a fascinating thriller movie directed by John Carpenter but this is real life we're talking about here."

"Well, I did have help so I wasn't totally alone," Daria sighed.

"Well, what's to say some other psycho won't bump you off the next try?" Jane brought up. "It's clear you were being specifically targeted. Hey wait a minute… I know that look in your eyes!"

"What look?" Daria asked uncomfortably.

"That look when you… have a crush on a guy," Jane was surprised.

"What crush?" Daria objected. "I almost got killed by my professor. Why would I have time to focus on a crush?"

"Daria, I've known you long enough to realize these things," Jane told her friend.

"Well, I guess you're not wrong," Daria sighed.

"It's not that Eric guy, is it?" asked Jane.

"No..."

"Is it… Ted?" Jane inquired.

This time Daria had no answer.

"Wow, you really do like him now, don't you?" Jane murmured softly.

"Something like that," Daria said wistfully. "Sometimes I wonder why the two of us didn't make it any further in high school."

"Well, maybe it just wasn't the right time for you two back then," Jane suggested.

"And right now is?" Daria raised an eyebrow.

"Hey, I'll have you know some couples do fall for each other in the midst of danger in horror and thriller movies," Jane offered.

"Because nothing says 'I love you' more than a couple evading a chainsaw wielding maniac," Daria joked dryly.

"Daria?" a new voice came from out of the blue.

Daria and Jane turned around to see Eric Ravencroft standing before them. At this point it came as no surprise, given that he also frequented some of the same joints they did.

"Eric, take a seat," Jane said in a longing manner.

"I heard what happened Daria," Eric said directly. "Are you alright?"

"I'm shaken but not stirred as a certain Mi6 agent would say," Daria said, maintaining her humor in spite of everything that had happened. "At least I made it out in one piece."

"I'm surprised Professor March would do something like that," Eric frowned. "He never struck me as the violent type."

"Well, from what I told the police in the aftermath, he seemed like some kind of addict," Daria mentioned. "He was hooked to some new drug on the streets called Ambrosia."

"Ambrosia," Eric looked concerned. "That substance has been causing quite some problems lately for these college fraternities. I've made it my personal policy to expel any fraternity brother who becomes addicted to that substance."

"Too bad that policy didn't extend to teachers," remarked Daria.

"Yes, I didn't expect it to spread among faculty," sighed Eric.

"Hey, I think a lot of college professors stay in the college scene because deep down, they're still students at heart," Jane mused.

"Right, what is age but a number to the guy with the receding hairline and the dissertation on gender studies?" Daria quipped.

"So Daria, how do you feel about meeting up again this week?" Eric asked her.

"Thanks Eric," Daria said to the young man, "but I, uh…"

Jane nudged Daria a bit to get her to regain her composure.

"There's, uh, actually someone else," Daria said to Eric. "Not that I don't think you're a good guy and all."

"Eh, don't worry about it," Eric told her with a smile. "You found someone who's compatible with you. Good job, I say."

"So Eric, what's your schedule like this week?" asked Jane.

"I got time tomorrow," Eric said, deciding to take Jane up on her offer.

"I'm available first thing after four," Jane smiled.

As the two of them exchanged numbers, Daria looked out the window, watching as college students walked to and fro without a care in the world. In that moment, she wished deep down that she were in their shoes.

oooo

During the next day, Daria debated whether or not she should even attend Dr. March's class, given what had gone down between her and the professor. After all the information she had given the cops, surely they would do something about the so-called Death Apostles that Professor March had mentioned… right?

There was also another matter. In spite of Professor March's promise to give her a withdrawal from the course, he actually hadn't done so before his death. So on her online student portal, her class was still listed as a course on her schedule.

Debating whether or not she should even enter into the building, Daria stood there with her packpack slung across her shoulder. In about five minutes, class would start.

"Something the matter, miss?" a voice alerted her from behind.

Daria turned around. It was the Dean of Arts and Sciences, Mr. Candy.

"Uh, not at all," Daria lied.

"Look Miss Morgendorffer," Mr. Candy told her. "I know what happened. I've seen the police reports. It's perfectly normal to be shaken after something like this."

"Yeah, it's not every girl on campus who goes through a thriller movie," Daria nodded.

"I've examined Professor March's office," Mr. Candy told Daria. "It appeared that before his death, he was responsible for altering your exam score to make it look like you failed your midterm."

"Figures," said Daria. "I wasn't exactly dealing with advanced engineering here."

"If you want, I can restore your midterm and allow you to continue taking the course," Mr. Candy told her, "or you can drop out with a withdrawal. Either ways, it's your choice."

"Well, they say it's best to get electives out of the way as soon as possible," Daria answered. "So I may as well see it through to the end."

"You're a smart girl Daria," Mr. Candy told her. "With your attitude, you'll go far in life."

"Thanks for helping me out," Daria told him. "So who's going to be teaching that class now that Professor March isn't here anymore?"

"One of the teaching assistant graduates will be finishing the course until we're able to procure another professor," Mr. Candy confirmed.

"No pressure or anything for that teaching assistant," Daria joked.

oooo

Though she was reluctant at first, by the end of the class, Daria was just a bit more relieved. She had gotten through the course and thankfully enough, the teaching assistant in charge of the class didn't appear to be anyone she needed to watch out for.

Heading back to her room, Daria sat down, leaning back to relax.

Soon, her phone began ringing. From what she saw, it was a call from her parents. She was unsure whether or not she should even tell them about everything that happened.

"Hello?" Daria finally picked up the phone.

"Daria, how are you?" Helen's voice came through.

"Uh, just fine," Daria replied.

Mentally she cursed herself for trying to act normal with her mom. However, Daria still didn't feel like she was in the right frame of mind yet to tell her mom about how her college professor basically tried to murder her.

"Daria, I know that tone of voice," Helen said to her daughter. "Everything's not fine. Amy told me everything that happened."

"Yeah, I never thought I'd be the lead actress in a psycho thriller either," Daria said half-jokingly.

"Daria, that's not funny," her mom told her sternly.

"Right, sorry," Daria said in embarrassment.

"Listen, for the time being, I want you to concentrate on applying to other colleges," Helen Morgendorffer ordered. "And stay at your aunt's house from now until the end of the semester. I have half a mind to tell you to drop out on the spot after your professor went after you like that."

"It's okay mom," Daria tried to reassure her mother. "Ted was there to save me."

"Ted?" Helen paused on the phone. "That name sounds familiar."

"He was the first boy I more or less had a date with back in Highland, remember?" asked Daria.

"Oh right, he was that homeschooled boy!" Helen recalled.

"He's come out of his shell since then," confirmed Daria.

"Well it's a good thing then," Helen sighed. "I owe him for saving my daughter's life."

"Look mom, I'll be alright," Daria said to her mother. "I have Aunt Amy and her self-defense lessons. And Ted's also looking out for me."

"Right now there's not much we can do," Helen proclaimed. "However, once this semester is over, I want you to come home. We can focus on you finding a new college from there, one that isn't so shady."

"I'll see what I can do," sighed Daria.

"Alright Daria, I love you," Helen reminded her daughter. "Goodbye."

"Bye," Daria told her mother and turned the phone off.

Daria took a deep breath in her conflicted state. She knew deep down that it was a bad idea to stay but at the same time, she did not want to leave behind Ted or Jane.

oooo

The next day, the first thing Daria did after classes were finished was to visit Jane.

"Hey Daria," Jane opened the door to let Daria into her new apartment.

"Got a minute?"

"I got sixty minutes if you need it," Jane offered Daria a seat. "I'll be heading out on a date with Eric later on."

"Well, at least you'll have a good time," Daria remarked.

"Huh? What was that about?" Jane looked surprised.

"My mom and I had a talk," Daria told her friend. "She wants me to leave this school by the semester's end. I'll be staying with Aunt Amy for the rest of the semester."

"Well, I guess I can't blame her," Jane acknowledged Helen's concerns. "So what are your plans after this? Any other colleges you're thinking about applying to?"

"Haven't had any other colleges in mind," admitted Daria.

"Hey, how about Bromwell?" asked Jane half-jokingly. "It'll be nice to see Tom again, wouldn't it?"

"Yeah, if I ever need to rekindle an old flame, I'll put Bromwell on the list," said Daria sarcastically.

"So this is gonna be your first and only semester here, huh?"

"Pretty much," Daria sighed.

"You don't seem like you want to leave after everything that's gone down," Jane noticed.

"Well, for one thing," Daria sat back. "Running away just seems to alien to me. Back in Lawndale, I didn't drop out or back off just because Angela Li and I didn't get along. I stood my ground and stuck true to my convictions."

"You've probably heard this one before," Jane reminded her. "But there's a world of difference between Principal Li and a murderous cult who apparently appear to have some kind of backing from the professors and who knows what other officials at Raft."

"Yeah, whole different ballgame," Daria shook her head.

"So what do you want to do now?" asked Jane.

"I thought I'd give Ted a call to tell him all about what's going on," Daria took out her phone. "Have fun on your date tonight, Jane."

"Thanks Daria, and good luck with everything," Jane smiled.

oooo

"Daria?" Ted asked as he showed up at Amy Barksdale's apartment. "I got your call and you said you wanted me over."

"Yeah, I figured we'd talk," Daria smiled, opening the door.

"So what can I do you for?" asked Ted, stepping in.

"Well, I would have asked you to head out tonight," Daria replied, "but my mom basically told Aunt Amy to put me in lockdown mode right now."

"Well, that's not very fun," Ted frowned. "Well, we might as well try to do something fun. Got any video games?"

"Uh, not really," admitted Daria, realizing she had never really been a gamer.

"Well what else ya got then, Daria?" asked Ted. "Maybe some board games?"

"Sorry, Aunt Amy doesn't really keep those around either," Daria. "There is some beer and wine in the fridge. Just… don't touch the vodka. Aunt Amy's smarter than the average bear when people take her vodka… and just as cranky."

"Is this orange juice available?" asked Ted. "I think I'll just have some of this tonight."

"Help yourself," Daria nodded.

Ted poured himself a glass and drank it.

"Well, any movies available?" asked Ted.

Daria smiled, realizing that Aunt Amy did indeed have a shelf where she kept all her DVDs.

"Step this way," Daria led Ted over to the rack.

"Rocky Horror Picture Show?" Ted looked at the options available to him. "I always did want to finish this movie."

"You've seen it before?" asked Daria.

"Only about three minutes or so back when I was still living with my parents," Ted hung his head down. "I was at an uncle's house when it came on the TV. Needless to say, my folks put a stop to it real quick and I never did go back to my uncle's house…"

"Well, if you've been homeschooled for the longest time, let's just say that this movie can be a bit of a culture shock," observed Daria.

"Why don't we watch this then?" Ted took out the DVD case.

"Eh, why not?" Daria shrugged. "It's been a few years since I've seen that movie too."

"Anyways," Ted took out the DVD. "Why did your mom decide you couldn't go out anymore?"

"Well, you already know all about that professor trying to off me," Daria replied. "And now my mom wants me leaving Raft by the end of this semester…"

"Wow, I didn't expect to hear that," Ted suddenly looked like he had lost interest in watching a movie.

"I didn't either," sighed Daria, "but my mom doesn't want me becoming some kind of target."

"So what next?" asked Ted.

"I don't know," Daria sat down on the couch. "Maybe apply to a few other colleges. Running away from challenges isn't really my style though. I'm not even entirely on board with what my mom wants me to do."

"Don't want to leave?" Ted looked at her.

"Not in the least," Daria admitted. "I'd rather stand my ground, face my problems with a wry smile, and overcome every obstacle at the end of the day with a wisecrack."

"Well, it's not too late to do that," Ted said to Daria. "After all, you're no longer in high school. As far as I'm concerned, you're your own person now."

"You know something, Ted?" Daria smiled at the encouragement. "You're right."

"Hey, that's flattering and all, but nothing beats being right for the first time," Ted replied wryly.

"And what was that like?"

"I didn't have a camera on me at the time," Ted smiled. "But let's just say that the look on my parents' face was priceless when I told them 'no' for the first time."

Daria chuckled.

"So, what do you say to a night of catchup for this homeschooled kid?" Ted held the DVD in his hands.

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