Busted Stuff

Busted Stuff

By: Sam Lincoln (samlincoln@mac.com)

Disclaimer: I do not own Daria and all characters related and pertaining to said show, simple enough. Busted Stuff is copyright Colden Grey, lyrics reprinted without permission.

Rating: PG

Summary: What happens when one amp breaks? Plenty.

Spoilers: Set pre-Fire so anything up to that.

Soundtrack: Dave Matthews Band, 8-23-2000, Hershey Stadium, tasty Schoeps Mk4v source of a nice DMB Summer 2000 gig. As always email for a B&P and it's yours.

Busted Stuff

"A rolling stone gathers no moss, just leaves a trail of busted stuff."

Trent strolled down to his basement practice room. Along the way he casually glanced around the house, "Hmmm, no Janey, must be a school day," he mused to himself. "Yeah, Must be a school day/I hope it's not Wednesday/Cause then it'd be Hump Day/And my baby left me on Monday. Hmm, not bad," he thought. "Just needs some guitar..." He plugged a guitar into his aging amp. The young musician was so wrapped up in his new song that he failed to notice the puff of smoke the amp emitted when he turned it on.

"Now let's see, why not B-minor for this on." Trent strummed a chord on his guitar experimentally. The amp shook a little and gave off more smoke. Satisfied with the result Trent turned up the volume on the amp and launched into his latest musical effort. The result was spectacular, though not in an intentional way. The amp joined the choir invisible in a most dramatic fashion. Smoke and flames billowed from the top of the amp while the front and rear panels shot off. Trent fumbled around looking for the fire extinguisher. He found it and hastily sprayed the burning amplifier. The fire was extinguished and Trent was left with a room full of smoke, and the ruins of his amp.

"Whoa, bummer." He thought for a moment, "Damnit, we've got a gig tonight." Trent sighed and tried to reassemble his amp. The task quickly proved to be too difficult.

"Oh hell, I've got to take it to Doug, he can fix it." Trent looked at the amp, then at the stairs, "Hmm, better wait for Janey to come home to give me a hand." Trent walked back up to his room to wait, the smoke in the basement was bad for his voice.

Over at Lawndale High an exploding amp would probably have been a welcome diversion for Quinn. She was, at the moment, enduring another of Mr. DeMartino's lectures.

"Why do we have to listen to all this stuff that happened in the past?" She thought to herself, "I mean, it's already happened, it's not there's anything we can do about it." She watched disinterested, as DeMartino upbraided one of her classmates for not having the correct answer.

"I'm sorry Timmy, but contrary to popular belief, Leonardo was not a mutant turtle! I suppose I should feel sorry for you, since you obviously lack any ability to separate fantasy from reality, but frankly at this point my only concern is that you don't get my order mixed up at McDonalds! Which is obviously where you future lies!" Mercifully for the class the bell rang before DeMartino could light into any additional students.

As Quinn walked out of the room DeMartino stopped her, "Ms. Morgendorffer, could I have a word with you?"

Quinn stopped, "Uh, sure?"

"Thank you for fitting me into your busy schedule of academic non-participation. I just wanted to bring to your attention how poorly you are doing in this class," Quinn shrugged. DeMartino continued, "Normally this would not concern me, if you want to waste your academic career that's fine by me. However, thanks to a new policy this year, I'm required to inform students when their failure is imminent. In fact if you don't get an A on your research paper then you will fail this class. So I suggest you start researching."

"But isn't there anything else I could do, for extra credit or something?"

"Please forgive me if I fail to see how you plan on passing the course if you don't complete the basic requirements. Your paper is due tomorrow, good luck." DeMartino started to chuckle to himself.

Quinn sighed and walked out of the classroom. "Well this is just great." She thought to herself. "How am I going to get an A on this stupid history paper?' She paused, "I know, I'll just have Daria write it for me," Quinn sighed, "It will cost me that dress I wanted to buy, but I'll manage...somehow." Quinn walked to her next class, trying to figure out how to convince her sister to do her work, or at least how much it was going to cost her this time.

Jane dropped her backpack in the middle of her living room. Tom was coming by soon and she wanted to jot down a few ideas before he showed up. As Jane walked up to her room she noticed the house was unusually quiet.

"Hmm," she mused, "Trent's car is still here so he's not out with the band, but he normally is awake by now. I wonder what he's up to?"

Her question was answered when Trent wandered into her room. "Hey Janey, what'cha doing?"

"Hey Trent, nothing much, why?"

Trent shrugged, "My amp blew up on me today."

"Well, that explains the silence, but what does it have to do with me?"

"I need someone to help me get it fixed."

"Trent, no. I won't, I've got stuff planned, Tom and I..."

"Are going to do what? Janey, all you and Tom ever do is hang out and watch TV."

"Like you're more ambitious in your social outings."

"Hey I'm not saying you two are doing anything wrong, but can't it wait for another day? Janey, this is important. The band's got a gig tonight so we have to leave like right now if we want to make it back in time."

"What do you mean? The music store's not ten minutes from here."

Trent shook his head, "No we have to take the amp to Doug Boade over at Boade Hi-Fi, near Fremont."

Jane raised an eyebrow, "Why so far away?"

"Because his amps have that special kick my music demands. It's like there's another setting on the dial."

Jane cocked an eyebrow, "Okay, that was a little too Spinal Tap for me."

Trent laughed spasmodically, "Good one Janey, Seriously, Doug does good work, plus he's cheap."

Jane sighed, "And none of the other guys can help you out?"

Trent shook his head, "No, they're all busy with other stuff."

"Alright, alright, I'll help you out, but this is the last time, you hear me." Jane shook her first at Trent.

"Uh, why?"

"I don't know, it just seemed like the right thing to say. Come on, let's get this done." The siblings went to drag Trent's amp out to his car. "Damn Trent, how much does this thing weigh?" Jane asked between breaths.

"Not as much as Jesse's." Trent grunted. After much work they managed to squeeze the bulky piece of electronics into the back of Trent's car.

"Hang on a second Trent, I want to leave Tom a note."

"Good idea, that way he won't think you've been kidnapped or something."

"Or something yeah. I'll be right back." Jane dashed off into the house. She returned a short while later with a piece of paper and a roll of duct tape. The paper was attached to the front door with a strip of the tape.

Jane got into the car. "All set?" Trent asked.

Jane nodded, "Yeah, let's get this over with." Trent started the car and they drove off.

Not quite a half-hour later Tom drove up to the Lane house. He got out of his car and walked up to the front door, whistling as he went. He tried to open the door, but found it locked. He frowned, then noticed the note Jane had left for him.

"Oh hell," he exclaimed, tearing the note off the door. He trudged back to his car and tried to start it. The engine caught, rattled, then was silent. "Damnit!" Tom shouted, pounding on the steering wheel. Tom sighed, got back out of the car and started walking to Daria's house.

Quinn had just arrived home herself when the doorbell rang. She had ducked out of the daily Fashion Club meeting early in order to catch Daria before she went anywhere.

"Daria, I need to ask you for a..." She began before the doorbell cut her off.

"Could you get that Quinn, you're closer." Daria called out from the kitchen.

"Quinn sighed in frustration, opened the door, and found Tom standing there. "Who're you?" Quinn asked.

"Uh, hi, I'm Tom, is Daria around?"

"I don't know why you'd want to see her, but yeah she is. Daria!" Quinn shouted, "There's somebody here to see you." Quinn walked off into the kitchen leaving a slightly bewildered Tom standing on the front stoop.

Daria arrived shortly thereafter and stopped short when she saw who was standing there, "Tom? What are you doing here?"

"It's a long story, can I come in?"

"What? Oh, sure, of course." Daria led Tom into the living room and they sat down. She took the couch; he took the futon. "So, what's your tale of woe?"

"Ok, Jane and I were supposed to get together at her house. Only when I show up she's not there. Instead there's this note saying that she had to go to Fremont with Trent for something, and that she won't be back for awhile."

"I'm sure Jane has a perfectly good reason."

Tom held up a hand, "That's not all, when I got back to my car to leave I tried to start it and the engine died. So now I need to call the garage to tow that hunk away and try to fix whatever's wrong with it this time."

"And you need to use my phone?" Daria asked, filling in the blanks.

Tom nodded, "I need to use your phone, if you would be so kind."

Daria shrugged, "Sure, doesn't bother me any. Come on, we can use the phone in my room."

"So that was your sister?" Tom asked, trying to make conversation as they walked up to Daria's room.

"Yep, that was Quinn...um sorry about having to wait outside; if it doesn't involve her Quinn doesn't even know it exists, and that includes people."

Tom chuckled, "That's ok, sometimes encountering the self-centered can be educational, in a how not to behave sort of way."

Daria shrugged, "In moderation sure, but try living with the Queen of the Shallow End and see how you like it."

Tom chuckled again, "That's quite all right, I have a hard enough time dealing with my sister as it is. I don't need any more problems."

"I didn't know you had a sister."

Tom nodded, "Yeah, Elsie, she's about your sister's age."

"Major pain in the ass?"

"Isn't that the definition of a littler sister?" Tom replied easily.

Daria smirked, "Just don't tell Jane that, I don't think she's understand."

"You're probably right," Tom said sagely, "people in her position never do."

"What the hell is that supposed to mean?" Daria asked as her eyes narrowed threateningly.

"Nothing, nothing," Tom stammered. "Just that you're right when you say that Jane, as a younger sibling, wouldn't see the humor of the joke."

"Right," Daria said, unconvinced, "Why are you really here Tom?" She asked suddenly.

"My car broke down and I need to call the garage for a tow." Tom replied, bewildered, "Why else would I be here?"

"I don't know but you sure as hell aren't making many phone calls."

"And you haven't shown me where it is." Daria looked around, they were standing outside the door to her room. "Oh, right, come on in." She mumbled as she opened the door.

"Nice room," Tom commented, "Very much in keeping with your style."

"And what does that mean?" Daria demanded

"Just that it's the kind of room designed to tweak people's noses, something you like to do. And what is up with you?"


"Yeah, you. Ever since I got here you've been acting all weird around me. I thought we'd reached a truce."

Daria shrugged, "That's what I thought too, and then you show up, bad mouthing my best friend. So excuse me if I seem a little bent out of shape. Here's the phone."

Tom took it, but did not place a call, "Hold on, there's a difference between being a good friend and being blind to a person's faults. I mean when Jane..." He caught himself before finished his sentence.

"Jane what?" Daria said darkly.

"Um, never mind, I'll just be making that phone call and be heading home." Tom said hastily.

Daria hung the phone up on Tom. "Tom, tell me, Jane what?"

Tom expelled a large sigh, "Ok, right after the two of us started going out Jane would occasionally, never very often, express her frustration over how closed minded you were towards our going out. It was really once or twice, not a big deal."

"Once or twice eh?" Daria asked, eyebrow arched.

"Ok, ok, it was every time we went out until the two of you patched things up."

Daria thought about this for a moment, then shrugged, "I guess I can't get too worked up over this little revelation, I was a bit dense about the whole thing."

Tom simply nodded, he figured Daria wouldn't be interested in hearing the actual phrases Jane had used during her diatribes, "Cold, intractable bitch," was the most polite of the epithets Jane had hurled at her erstwhile friend.

Daria sighed, breaking Tom's train of thought. "You're point is well taken, I forgive you and promise to play nice. So long as you aren't secretly planning to screw Jane in an uncomfortable place or something equally nefarious."

"Ye gods no," Tom said, making a face. "That's the first I've ever heard of such a plan. Besides, I don't even own a Volkswagen."

Daria smirked, "Good, because you wouldn't like the consequences."

"You'd take out whatever was left over from when Jane was done with me after Trent worked me over?"

"Assuming he could stay awake that long, yes."

Tom chuckled, "then consider myself warned. Now if you don't mind I need to place a phone call." Tom dialed the number of a local mechanic. Daria could hear Tom say, "It's me, not there, not there, yeah, that's the place. Ok, yeah just take it away and work your magic. Will you let me know when it's ready? Great, thanks." Tom hung the phone up.

"Let's see if I can guess." Daria said, "Your house, Fielding, and Jane's house?" Tom nodded grimly. "Your car breaks down that much?"

"Yes, I'm on a first name basis with the mechanics."

"Why don't you get a new car?"

Tom shrugged, "I don't know, I just like it. It's fun to drive when it works, and it's got a lot of character."

"More character than body it seems," Daria said dryly.

"That it does," Tom said chuckling ruefully. "But it still gets me from here to there and back, most of the time, and it's become sort of a challenge, how much longer will the car hold out."

Daria shook her head, "Plus it pisses off your parents, right?"

Tom nodded, "Yeah, that too."

"So, how long until they pick it up?" Daria asked. Before Tom could reply Quinn came barging into the room.

"Daria I need you to do me a favor..."

"Quinn," Daria said in annoyance. "Can't you see I have company?"

Quinn looked over at Tom. "Oh, you're still here. Who are you and what does a boy want with Daria?"

"Quinn, this is Jane's boyfriend, Tom. He's a friend, his car broke down, he's using the phone to call a tow truck."

"Oh, "Quinn wrinkled her nose, "He must be a loser then, I've never seen him at school, not to mention that he goes out with Jane, eww." She shuddered slightly.

Daria frowned, "That's because he goes to Fielding Quinn. Now please leave me before you make a further ass of yourself."

"But you haven't agreed to help me."

"How could I agree to something if I don't know what it is? Besides the answer is no."

"Daria!" Quinn whined, "You have to help me. If I don't get an A on my next history paper I'll fail history!"

"Why should I care? You obviously don't."

"Because retards aren't popular, and if I fail DeMartino's class I'll be a retard." Quinn said, like it was the most obvious thing in the world.

"Try telling that to..." Daria sighed, "Never mind, it's not worth the effort to debate the point. Bye Quinn."

"But I'll pay you, how ever much you want," Quinn pleaded.

"Sorry Quinn, I'd love to help you defraud the school system but Tom asked for my help sooner."

"Oh come on Daria, I'm your sister, and he's just your friend's boyfriend."

"Exactly," Daria said as she pushed Quinn out of the room. "Have a nice day." She started to shut the door.

Quinn jammed her foot in the door, keeping it open. "Please Daria, I'm desperate."

Daria sighed, "Ok, look, why don't you go ask Dave Wylie for help, pretty good at history."

"Dave?" Quinn said, aghast, "I can't ask him for help."

"It's Dave or fail, your choice." Daria shut the door in Quinn's face and jammed a chair against the door to keep Quinn out. She turned to face Tom. "I'm really sorry about all that."

Tom shrugged, "That's ok, it's so rare to see a person so totally lacking in social grace out in the wild that when you do it's a moment to be savored."

Daria smirked, "Yeah, I get to savor it everyday, lucky me."

Tom chucked, "Well, what do we do now that you've so craftily barricaded us in your room?"

Daria looked over at the door and blushed when she realized what she had done, "Um, Quinn will probably be gone in a short while."

Tom laughed, "That's ok, I wasn't planning on going anywhere special anyway. So, read any good books lately?" The two sat down and began to discuss literature.

Quinn paced furiously in her room. "How dare Daria do that to me?" Quinn thought to herself, "I'm her sister, she has to help me, it's like a law or something." She kicked one of the pillows on the floor, "And now I have to go ask Dave for help. That arrogant, rich jerk Dave. I'd almost rather ask Upchuck for help." She stopped when she realized what she had just thought. "Ewwwwww!" She shouted. "Forget that, Dave will be fine. I just think he's a jerk. You can do this Morgendorffer, you have to pass." She kept repeating this to herself as she left the house and started walking to the Wylie residence. She was till saying her mantra when she pushed the intercom button at the gate.

"Y'ello, This is Jimmy." A jovial voice said.

"Uh, hi, is ah, Dave in?" Quinn asked.

"Yeah, one sec, let me see if I can go find the boy. You can wait for him in the house, front door's unlocked." The gate swung open and Quinn walked up to the house. Sure enough, the front door was unlocked and Quinn let herself in. She stood in the large entryway, fidgeting nervously until she heard a door open.

"Quinn? What are you doing here?" Dave Wylie asked as he walked up to her.

Quinn swallowed nervously, "Um, Dave, I need your help with my history paper. Will you help me? I'll pay you."

"Quinn, you're offering to pay me?"

"Oh yeah, that is pretty silly isn't it?" Quinn said, laughing nervously. "Will you help me anyway? Daria already said no and told me to see you."

Dave looked thoughtful for a moment, then he shrugged, "What the hell I've got nothing better to do. Sure, I'll help you out."

Quinn smiled brightly, "Great, I'll pick it up before school tomorrow then." She turned to leave.

Dave caught her by the arm, "Wait a minute, where do you think you're going?"

"Home, you're going to write my paper aren't you?"

Dave shook his head, "'Fraid not I said I'd help you write it, not that I'd write it for you. Come on we've got work to do."

A horrified expression appeared on Quinn's face. "But, but..."

"It's this or nothing."

Quinn sighed in defeat, "Ok, ok, we'll do it your way." She let herself be lead away by Dave, a crestfallen expression on her face.

Jane stared out the window of Trent's care as he drove them to Boade Hi-Fi. She sighed, "This is a mistake."

"What do you mean? Do you think we should've taken the left that that fork?" Trent asked, turning his head to look at Jane.

"No, it's not that...I meant standing up Tom like this."

"Janey, it was an emergency, and you did leave him a note. He's a good guy, he'll understand."

"Yeah, but lately I've gotten the feeling that he's growing a little bit impatient with artistic flights of fancy."

"Then maybe the art needs to come after your relationship."

"But that goes against everything I know, haven't Mom and Dad always told us that the art always comes first?"

Trent smirked, "And when have Mom and Dad been right about anything?"

Jane scowled, "Damn, that's a good point." She sighed, "But I'm not sure I can do it."

"Then I guess you have to ask yourself, how important is your relationship with Tom?"

Jane didn't answer, instead she just looked out the window. Trent grunted and refocused his attention on the road.

Back at the Morgendorffer house Daria and Tom were sitting in the living room, chatting to kill time.

"So, what's it like going to a private school?" Daria asked.

"Probably a lot like public school, except everyone wears the same clothes."

"Quinn's worst nightmare," Daria said dryly.

"I'm sure, I'm not too thrilled about it either, but what can you do?" He shrugged.

"You could not go."

Tom shook his head, "That's not an option. Parental expectations you know."

"Not really but ok."

"Yeah, I have to go to the right prep school so I can keep the old family name in good esteem."

"I'm sure Jane has some interesting things to say about that," Daria said without thinking.

Tom's face tightened, "Well I have some interesting things to say about her family situation as well."

"Oh hell Tom, I didn't mean to bring that up."

"That's ok."

"And I really don't want to hear what you're about to say."

"Daria, who else am I going to talk to?"

"I don't care, I just want to be left out of this. Getting involved would only get me burned."

"I appreciate that, but I just want to say this, you don't have to listen. I think Jane's great, but she's starting to drive me nuts with all of her 'following the muse' crap. I respect her desire to be an artist, but she takes it too far at times."

Daria's eyes narrowed, "What does that mean?"

"Just that some times I'd like it if she stopped playing at being an artist and just be my girlfriend, just for a little while at least."

"Playing at being an artist? Tom that's who she is, if you can't handle that then you shouldn't be going out with her, because she's not going to change."

"She's seventeen who knows what they want to be when they're seventeen?"

"Jane does, she's never wanted to be anything but an artist and you'll never be able to separate your girlfriend from the artist because there is not a distinction between the two."

Tom sighed, "Yeah, I supposed you're right." He looked at a nearby clock, "Well, the tow truck's probably picked up my car by now. I should get going." He stood up, "Thanks for letting me use your phone."

"You're welcome."

"This was a fun afternoon, car trouble notwithstanding, we should do it again sometime."

"Yeah, sure." Daria replied flatly.

"Wow your enthusiasm just bowls me over." Tom said, chuckling.

"What can I say, I'm just giddy with anticipation." Daria walked Tom to the door. "Bye Tom."

Tom waved, "Bye Daria. See you later." He walked down the path to the sidewalk and turned for home.

Daria watched as Tom walked down the sidewalk. She sighed, then shut the door and got started on her homework. "I wonder if I did the right thing just then," She pondered.

Quinn was having very similar thoughts as Dave rummaged through the shelves of the Wylie library.

"Let's see, European history, any specific era?" Dave asked.


"Your class, is it focused on any particular portion of European history, or the whole thing?"

Quinn shrugged, "I don't know, all of it I guess. Why does it matter?"

"Well you'd look pretty silly turning in a paper on the Norman Conquest if your class was about the German Reformation." Quinn stared at him blankly, "Okay, never mind."

"This is just DeMartino's class, I doubt he cares about what we write about, if he even bothers to read the paper."

"This is true," Dave mused, "I guess the question becomes what do you want to write about?"

"I still don't see why I have to be here," Quinn groused, "You could have finished this already if you weren't trying to get me to work with you."

Dave looked over at Quinn, "Because, this way you might actually learn something instead of just flouncing your way through a rough spot."

"But what if I don't want to learn anything?"

"Then just do what I say and let that be that. If you don't want to be an active participant that's your deal, but I don't want to help you cheat." He shrugged, "I'm not a big fan of cheating." He returned to the bookshelf, "Wait a second, this might just fit the bill." He took a book off of the shelf, "Tell me what you think about this." Dave opened the book up and showed it to Quinn.

Quinn shrugged, "Big deal, it's some guy wearing funny old clothes."

"Ok, sure, but what do those clothes say?"

"That he has no sense of style, ick."

"Let me try to put this a different way, what do you clothes say about you?"

"My clothes?" Quinn asked, Dave nodded. "Well they say that I'm fashionable, popular, and cute."

"Right, now how about a person wearing a hand-tailored Armani suit?"

"That they're rich?" Quinn said tentatively.

"Right again, now why?"

Quinn shrugged, "Because that's what's fashionable, and they cost a lot so only rich people can wear them."

"Yes, now don't fashions change?"

"Well d'uh."

"So, isn't it possible that this was fashionable back when this guy was alive?"

Quinn frowned, "I guess, but still, eww."

"I agree, it doesn't look too comfortable," Dave said, chuckling, "But don't we wear a lot of uncomfortable clothes in the name of fashion as well?"

"Well yeah, sure."

"So knowing this is what was considered fashionable tell me what do you see?" Dave handed the book to Quinn.

Quinn took the book and stared at the picture for a while longer. "It's someone who wants to appear important." She declared.

"Okay," Dave said, a satisfied smirk on his face, "Why do you say that?"

"By the clothes, they might look awful, but they're high quality material, at lot of silk in there."

"How can you tell that by looking at a picture?" Dave asked, surprised.

"By the way the fabric drapes, that's silk alright," Quinn said, confidently.

Dave nodded, impressed, "Anything else?"

"Well d'uh, all the jewelry. And the fur lining on that cloak, very expensive."

"What about the colors?"

Quinn cocked her head, "What about them? They're nice I guess, but a little too much. You don't want to overpower people with too much color you know. It, like dominates everything and keeps people from seeing how cute your clothes are."

"I have to stop forgetting you devote a full 99% of your brain to fashion," Dave said in amazement "So, how does it feel to come up with the topic of your paper?"

"What?" Quinn exclaimed, "But we were talking about clothes."

"Clothes aren't history?" Dave asked innocently.

"I thought you were going to write about a war or something."

"Enh, it's been done, trust me, if we write this paper you'll have you're a for sure."

Quinn looked dubious, "I don't know, it seems too easy."

"Hey clothing is an important part of history. Didn't you once tell me that you could read a person by their clothes?"

"But what does that have to do with history?" Quinn asked, frowning.

Dave sighed, "There's more to history than battles and 'great men.' The small things like what people wore, or ate are just as important as who was the king of what."


"Because that tells us how regular people thought back then, not the great philosophers, but normal people like you or me, and that is the thesis of your paper."

"Oh...don't you want to write that down?"

"Nah, the room's got a built in recording system, everything we've said is on tape; my dad likes to be able to record ideas the moment they come to him."

Quinn looked around the room, trying to spot the microphones. "Oh that's great, he doesn't like have any cameras in the room, does he?"

"Uh no, why?" Dave asked, frowning.

"Oh, no reason." Quinn said lightly.

"Ok, well, why don't we get started on the next picture ok?" Dave turned the page to another portrait.

"Hey Janey, we're here." Trent said.

"Huh?" Jane asked, startled.

"You weren't sleeping were you?" Trent asked, slyly.

"No, I was...thinking."

"About Tom?"

"Of course about Tom!" Jane snapped, "What the hell else would I be thinking about?"

"Well, there's that leak in the roof. It's starting to get pretty bad."

"Really?" I'll call somebody tomorrow to fix it," Jane commented as they got out of the car.

"Don't worry about it. I've got it taken care of...oof!" Trent gasped as he pulled the ruined amp out of the back of his car.

"You do, do you?" Jane asked as she tried to maintain her grip on the amp.

"Cool, a palindrome," Trent chuckled. "I met a guy at the last gig who said he'd fix the roof for free."

"Like I said, I'm calling a roofer tomorrow," Jane replied acidly.

They wrangled the amp into the store. The interior of Boade Hi-Fi was a jumble of audio-visual equipment of all types. Trent gaped at the rows of guitars and mammoth amps.

"If I had a couple of those Mystik Spiral would be huge." Trent said confidently.

"Yeah, in the extermination business," Jane snickered.

"That's no fair, those rats died of natural causes."

"Trent! What'd you do to that amp this time?" A voice said from across the room. Jane couldn't see the source of the voice from where she was standing.

"B-minor Doug, can you fix it?"

"I can fix anything, bring it on back here." The siblings carried the amp into the workroom. After Jane set the amp down on a workbench she got her first, good look at Doug Boade. The adjective that best fit the man was stringy. His thin face was accentuated by the scraggly beard and ponytail he sported. He wore a tattered Grateful Dead T-shirt and a tired pair of blue jeans.

"Just your typical friend of the Lane family," Jane thought to herself.

"Man Trent, you really knocked the stuffing out of it this time," Doug said, analytically.

"I guess it'd been acting up for a while, I just thought the smoke was from our fog machine."

"Trent," Jane said patiently, "you don't have a fog machine."

"Oh yeah, I knew I was forgetting something."

"Who's the lady with the sharp tongue?" Doug asked.

"Oh, this is my sister, Jane. Janey, meet Doug Boade."

"Hey now, good to meet you," Doug said pleasantly.

"Charmed," Jane replied.

Doug returned his attention to the amp. "So, can you fix it man?" Trent asked as Doug poked the innards of the amp.

"Sure, I can fix it, the only question is time. When do you need it ready by?"

"Tonight, we've got a gig."

Doug shook his head, "No can do Trent, you're looking at a week's repair time at best, probably longer. You've blown most of the tubes n here and replacements are hard to come by."

"Aw man, I guess we could do an acoustic show tonight," Trent said, downcast.

"Actually I've got a proposal for you. This is a rare amp, pretty valuable too. I'd be willing to give you a brand new, top of the line model for this thing."

"I don't know, I like the sound of this one..."

"Throw in a practice amp and you've got a deal," Jane interjected. She and Doug shook hands.

"Aww Janey, why'd you do that?''

"Two reasons. One, so you can practice without endangering the house, and two, so we don't have to lug that damn thing around anymore. The new one will be smaller, right?"

Doug nodded, "Sure will be, now let's go find you a new amp." Doug led the pair out to the showroom floor. Trent look back longingly at his old amp.

"Dave can we please stop looking at these pictures? If I look at one more picture of some overweight guy wearing tights I'll scream," Quinn complained. Dave had set up a slide projector and was using that to display even more portraits for Quinn to analyze.

"Well, I guess we better stop then huh." Dave said with a smile, "So, what do you think the central theme was?"

Quinn shrugged, "They wore fancy clothes to impress people?"

"Exactly," Dave said, snapping his fingers. "Now all that's left is to type this paper. Come on, we can do that in my room." He pushed a button on a recessed panel and withdrew a small cassette.

"And how long will that take?"

"Oh no long at all, we just have to translate what you said into something that would pass muster as a paper."

"But Dave, it's almost dinner time."

"It is?" Dave asked, perplexed. He looked at his watch, "Oh, well I guess to some it might be."

"What's that supposed to mean?"

Dave shrugged, "Since it's just my dad and I we don't eat meals at any regular time, or together, he's usually off doing something related to the business so meals are usually on a catch as can basis." He paused, "Okay, dinner's are really just ask the chef for whatever you want whenever you want it, but the other way sounds more dysfunctional."

"Really, he makes whatever you ask for?" Quinn asked.

Dave nodded, "Pretty much, though he is getting a little upset at my dad asking for hot dogs all the time."

"Does he have a foreign accent?"

Dave shook his head, "Not unless you count New York as a foreign country." Dave led Quinn through the large house towards the kitchen.

"Hey Dave, why are you doing all this for me anyway?"

"What I can't just be acting out of the goodness of my heart?"

"Well no, you have to be getting something out of this."

"You really don't believe in charity do you?" Dave thought for a second, "No wait, don't answer that. I don't think I want to know the answer."

Quinn frowned, "You mean your dad doesn't pay you to do stuff?"

"Sure, it's called my allowance, but beyond that he asks, I do, usually. You know, that explains a lot."


"The way you act, every thing is business with you. Let me guess, normally you pay Daria to write your papers."

"Yeah, so?"

Dave shook his head, "Never mind it's none of my business."

"What the hell is that?" Quinn demanded, "You start to criticize me and my family and then just stop and say never mind. Come on, what were you going to say?"

Dave sighed, "I was going to say it's no wonder you're a shallow clothes horse bitch, your family life has programmed you that way. All solutions in life can be found if you buy the right thing."

Quinn's knuckles whitened as she clenched her fists. "Oh fine for the rich boy to say that."

Dave shrugged, "There's plenty of things that money can't buy, believe me on that one." A flicker of suppressed sadness played across Dave's face. He shook his head, "Look, forget I said anything, let's get some dinner and finish your paper." He started walking back down the hall.

"But you still haven't answered my question, why are you helping me?"

Dave turned and faced Quinn, an impish smile on his face, "Why for the karma of course. The way I see if, walking you through writing an A paper will get me enough good karma points to overcome any bad karma that might come my way for quite some time. Besides, I like impossible tasks, and getting you an A on this paper is as impossible as they get."

"You bastard!" Quinn shrieked, and punched him on the arm. Dave started running when he saw Quinn ready another blow and the two teens chased each other around the mansion.

Trent swung the car into the Lane driveway and killed the engine. "Thanks for helping me out Janey, it means a lot to me. You know, what with Tom and all."

Jane smiled weakly, "Hey don't mention it, you are my only brother."

"Uh, no I'm not." Trent said, confused.

"You're not? Oh damn, right, you're not. Well you're my eldest brother..."

"Wrong again Janey."

"Oh damn, well you're my favorite brother, how's that?"

Trent smiled, "Sounds cool to me."

"Need a hand with any of this stuff?" Jane nodded at the backseat filled with audio gear they had talked Doug out of in exchange for Trent's old amp.

"Nah, I can handle it, you go call Tom. Besides, I have to go if I want to be at the gig on time."

"Who are you and what have you done with my brother?"

"Janey, I wish you'd stop saying that every time I say I want to be on time for something, it's very distracting."

"Oh, sorry. Have a good show," she said, waving goodbye.

"See you later tonight." Trent restarted his car and drove away.

Jane walked up to the front door, she noticed that the note she left was missing. "Either Tom came by or somebody else knows that I wasn't home and cleaned us out." She opened the door and walked into the house. "Well, everything is still here, must have been Tom." She found the phone in the clutter and dialed the Sloane's number.

"Hello, Sloane residence," Tom's mother said in greeting.

"Hi Mrs. Sloane, it's Jane, is Tom there?"

"Why hello Jane, so nice to hear from you. Hold on a moment, let me see if I can find Tom."

Jane heard a click and the strains of a Mozart piano concerto came wafting out of the phone. "It figures the Sloanes have Muzak for their home phones," she thought.

The music suddenly stopped and the voice of Tom's mother came back on the line, "Jane, Tom told me to tell you that he'd be right over."

"But I just wanted to talk to him," Jane said desperately.

"He seemed to think otherwise, you know how boys are."

"Yeah," Jane replied dubiously.

"The two of you aren't doing anything are you shouldn't be?"

"What? No, no, we're not Mrs. Sloane," Jane said, distracted by other thoughts.

"That's good to hear."

"A pleasure talking to you Mrs. Sloane."

"Yes it was Jane, don't be a stranger."

"I won't."

"Oh, and Jane if anything happens that might hurt Tom's future standing you won't like what happens to you." Ice crept into Kay Sloane's cheery voice.

"I'll definitely keep that firmly in mind," Jane said darkly.

"So good to hear from you. Bye Jane."

"Bye Mrs. Sloane." Jane hung the phone up. "Well, it's not everyday the chairwoman of the local Amnesty International chapter threatens your life." She shrugged, she knew the Sloanes didn't necessarily like her, but she didn't necessarily like them, so it was a wash. Jane sat down on the couch and waited for Tom to show up. "I wonder why Tom wanted to come here. I just wanted to talk on the phone." She frowned, "This can't be a good thing." She paused again, "And it's really bad that a girlfriend isn't happy that her boyfriend is coming over to see her." Jane hugged her knees to her chest as she tried to fine the answers to the nagging questions flying about inside her head. She was so lost in thought that she failed to hear the sound of a car pulling up to the house, or the knock on the door.

Tom knocked on the door again; he had come over to Jane's house as quickly as he could. Which was pretty fast since he'd borrowed one of his dad's cars. There was still no reply so he tried the door and found it open. He cautiously stuck his head inside. "Hello? Jane, you here?" He asked tentatively.

"...Jane, you here?" Tom's voice cut through Jane's thoughts causing her to look up.

"Hey Tom, I'm here, come on in." She stood up and walked over to Tom. They did not kiss.

"Hey Jane..." Tom began to say.

"Look Tom," Jane interrupted, "I'm really sorry about this afternoon, but it really was an emergency. Trent's amp blew up and he needed my help getting it replaced. I'm sorry we couldn't wait for you, but Trent has a show tonight so time was an issue too. So, uh, I'm basically pretty sorry."

Tom smiled sadly, "You can say that again. Jane, I don't have a problem with you helping your brother out, what kind of an ass would that make me if I did?" Jane smirked, "But I do have a problem with the fact that sometimes I'm secondary to whatever's grabbed your attention at that moment, gummy bear sculptures, astronomical photography, and whatever else the current flavor of the month is in art."

"So you expect me to drop all my other interests to just be your girlfriend?" Jane asked angrily.

"No, I'm not saying that. I'm just wondering if you can set aside your artistic persona for a little while every now and then."

"My artist persona?" Jane yelled. "I am an artist, get over it."

"No, you're a teenage girl looking for some sort of identity because her absentee parents have left her with nothing but a slightly crumbling house and a brother who has less drive than a two cylinder engine!"

"Tom..." Jane started to say, then she paused. "Get out," she said quietly.


"Get out."

"Get out?"

"Yes, go, scram, get lost, vamoose, you're not wanted around here, go home, don't come back."

Tom frowned, "Do you mean that?"

"For now. So you'd better get your ass out that door before I start swinging."

Tom backed towards the door, "Jane, I..."

"You didn't mean it. Yeah I know. But I also know this. I am an artist. I've always been an artist, and I always will be an artist. If you have problem with that then you shouldn't be going out with me."

Tom stood in the door, "I know that Jane, but I also know that unless you're willing to bend a little then you shouldn't be going out with me, or anyone else for that matter."

"Didn't I tell you to leave?" Jane growled.

"Are you really sure you mean that?" Tom asked, concerned.

"For right now yes. I'm not in the mood to have this conversation with you."

Tom's face hardened, "Fine, if you're going to be stubborn I'll go." Tom turned and walked out the door.

"Hey Tom," Jane called out.

"Yeah?" Tom asked, without turning around.

"If you, uh, come by tomorrow I'd probably be in the mood to talk."

"That's nice, I'm not sure I'll be, but we'll see." Tom exited the house before Jane could reply.

Jane dropped back onto the couch, "Aw hell, that went great."

Daria looked up from the book she was reading and glanced at the clock. "I wonder if Jane's home yet?" Daria thought to herself as she reached for the phone. She got a pickup after the fifth ring.

"Hello Lane residence," Jane said.

"Hi Jane."

"Hey Daria, to what do I owe the pleasure?" Jane said with mock cheerfulness.

"Nothing really, just wanted to call and see what you were up to..." Daria paused, "Uh Jane, Tom came by this afternoon."

"Trent's amp blew out on him, we had to take it to a specialist."

"Oh, well that explains that."

"Why did Tom go to your house?"

"His car died on him, he had to call the garage."

"That explains why I didn't hear him drive up..."

"So you've talked to Tom?"

Jane sighed, "Yeah, we had a pretty good dustup too."

"But everything is ok now, right?"

"Not exactly."

"So you two broke up?"

"Not exactly."

"Then where exactly are you?" Daria could almost hear Jane's shrug.

"I dunno, we were both pretty pissed off at each other."

"I want no part in any of this. Let me just say that up front."

"Gee, what support, nice to know you're there for me buddy."

Daria sighed, "Damn, you're right. Ok, against my better judgement, why are you two pissed off at each other?"

"Let' see, Tom's mad at me for not being his girlfriend and I'm mad at Tom for trying to force me into being something other than what I am."

"You mean you're not his girlfriend?" Daria asked plainly.

"Damn right I'm...ah hell, that came out wrong didn't it?"

"I believe your Freudian slip is showing."

"Oh sure, laugh it up. So I misspoke, doesn't change the fact that he can't expect me to stop being me, even if that might inconvenience him."

"While I hate to break up this rant I'm not sure if that's what Tom wants."

"How do you know that? Did he tell you that?" Jane groused.

Daria sighed, "Why did you two start going out?"

"Uh, because, I don't know."

"Could it be in part because you were a free-spirited artist type?"

"I guess so," Jane said in a mollified voice.

"And isn't it true that you've blown off things the two of you have planned because of so-called, art emergencies?"

"Damnit Daria, you don't have to draw me a diagram!" Jane snapped.

"Sorry, but subtlety wasn't working."

"When did you try to be subtle?"

"Never, it's not really my strong suit."

Jane chuckled, "Ok, you're right I was an ass. But Tom had no right to...do something, help me out here."

"Take his problems with you to me?"

"Yeah, there we go. That bastard, who does he think he is?"

"Though it's not like you didn't talk to Trent about it while you were on the road with him."

"We did no such...yeah, you're right. How'd you know?"

"Lucky guess, plus I know you have to keep talking in order to keep Trent awake."

Jane chuckled, "It figures, you do spend enough time staring at Trent."

"I can hang up this phone very easily Jane," Daria warned.

"So you can give me grief about Tom, but I can't tease you with Trent, and I do mean tease with every connotation of the word, that's fair."

"Who said life was fair?"

"Not me, that's for sure."

"Good, the sooner you accept that the sooner you can begin plotting your revenge on the world."

"Way ahead of you there chica. My hit list gets updated daily."

"Suppose we should be worried about wiretaps?"

"Nah. Give em something to sweat over." The two fell silent, enjoying their momentary burst of levity.

"So what are you going to do about Tom?" Daria asked, turning serious again.

"What about him? We'll talk tomorrow I expect and if we can talk things out, good. If not, then we won't." Jane replied in a matter of fact fashion.

"Oh," was Daria's only reply.

"Why do you ask? Have designs on my boyfriend?" Jane asked mockingly.

"Of course not, I'm passionately in love with Trent but I'm afraid to act on those emotions, remember." Daria said recited, as if by rote.

Jane smirked, "You said it, not me, and don't think I won't bring it up at some later date."

"In that case, just for the record, and any recording devices, I, Daria Morgendorffer, do not have any 'designs' on Jane Lane's boyfriend, her brother, or Jane Lane herself, for good measure."

"I'm crushed, you don't want to get in my pants?"

"Not even if you're not in them Jane, sorry to disappoint."

"I'll have to find someway to carry on, I suppose." Jane sighed dramatically.

"I'm hanging up now before this conversation gets any stranger."

"Bye Daria."

"Bye Jane, talk to you tomorrow," The line went dead and Jane hung up the phone.

Dave handed Quinn a stack of paper, "There you go, one paper on the fashions of the Renaissance Italy and what it meant."

Quinn gingerly took the paper, "Will it get me an A?"

Dave shrugged, "It's the best we could do short of getting a time machine and having a most excellent adventure through time."

"That's not exactly encouraging," Quinn said, frowning.

Dave laughed, "Don't worry, like you said, it's juat DeMartino." They walked to the door, "Huh, it's gotten pretty dark out, want a ride home?"

Quinn nodded, "That would be great."

"Come on, the garage is this way." Dave led Quinn back through the house until they entered the Wylie's spacious garage.

"Wow, you have a lot of cars," Quinn said, staring at the collection. Dave shifted nervously on his feet.

"Yeah, Dad's a bit of a collector." He appraised a key rack then selected a key ring, "Let's take the Z-3." He pushed a button on an intercom, "Hey Dad, I'm taking the Bondmobile to drive Quinn home." He turned to Quinn and smiled, "Come on, it's a warm night, we can drive with the top down." He opened the door of the Beemer for Quinn.

"Ok, but don't go too fast, I don't want to get wind hair." Quinn said as she slid into the seat and buckled the seat belt.

Dave got into the car and pushed the button for the garage door. He looked over at Quinn and smiled mischievously. "Fast is such a relative term." Dave started the car and raced the engine.

Quinn looked at Dave, worried. "Dave, what are you...Eeeeee!" Quinn shrieked as Dave gunned the accelerator and the car shot out of the garage and down the drive.

"What's the fun of a fast car if you don't put it through its paces?" Dave asked over the growl of the engine. Quinn didn't bother replying.

Daria was lying on her bed reading a book when she heard a car come screeching to a halt outside the house. "Dad's already home, I wonder who this is?" Daria went downstairs to investigate. She looked out the bay window and saw Quinn getting out of an expensive convertible driven by Dave Wylie.

"Uh Dave, thanks a lot for writing my paper and all." Quinn said.

"Hey now, don't sell yourself short, you put in a lot of work on that paper too."

"But you did all the typing and stuff," Quinn protested.

"I just typed what you said. The important part, the ideas, were all your doing," Dave said nonchalantly.

"You're just trying to make me feel like I had a part in it," Quinn said, blushing faintly.

Dave shook his head, "No I'm not, it's your paper, enjoy it."

"If you say so...still I wouldn't have done this if it wasn't for you..." She paused, reached over and kissed Dave on the cheek, "Thanks again Dave."

Dave was a little taken aback by Quinn's actions, "Err, well, you're welcome." He replied, flustered. "See you tomorrow Quinn," He stammered as his face started to turn beet red.

Quinn smiled, pleased that she had burst Dave's bubble of self-assuredness. "Yeah, see you tomorrow."

Dave floundered with the clutch for a moment before getting the convertible in gear and driving off. Quinn walked into the house where Daria met her.

Daria was leaning casually against the entry into the dining room when Quinn walked through the door. "So, you actually got Dave to write that paper for you. I'm curious, what's his price?"

"Dave helped me with my paper just because he's a nice guy," Quinn sniffed.

"Oh come on, you can tell me Quinn, what did you pay him to write it?"

"Really Daria, are you so cynical that you can't accept that some people might actually act out of charity and not for money?" Quinn said dramatically, "And besides, Dave didn't 'write my paper.' I came up with the ideas; he just did the typing. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to call Stacy." Quinn defiantly strode past her sister and up to her bedroom.

Daria watched Quinn go then shook her head in disbelief, "I don't know what they put in the water over at Dave's house, but it's good. Quinn's having delusions of academic grandeur, although she does live in her own little world most of the time anyway." Daria looked around and noticed she was by herself, "And I guess I've been drinking the same stuff since I'm talking to myself." Daria shrugged, walked back up to her room, and went back to her reading. "This has been one weird day." She thought.

Tom leaned against his dad's car and stared out at the night sky. He hadn't felt like going home, so he drove to an out of the way place he liked to go from time to time. He took a pull from the battle of water he was holding. His first impulse after leaving Jane's had been to get drunk, but that would've cause more problems then it was worth.

"Besides," he thought, "getting drunk over a girl is so trite. I'm better off with the water." Tom sighed again as his thoughts turned back to his central dilemma, Jane. "What the hell am I going to do?" He asked himself, "Do I even want to try and fix things with Jane?" He started at the bottle. "Oh to hell with it." He finished off the bottle and drove home. He parked the car in the garage and crept into the house. His mother had let him use his father's car on the condition that he go straight to Jane's house and back, trips through Lawndale were not part of that agreement. He was pretty sure that his mother had a committee meeting of some sort and his father was definitely away on a business trip, but it never hurt to be careful.

No parents accosted him as he made his way into his room. He had just flopped onto his bed when the door to his room opened and he heard his sister say, "Well, well, look who's finally showed up, what happened to 'I'm just going to Jane's.' anyway?"

"How do you know I wasn't just there?"

Elsie shrugged, "I don't, but then again neither do Mom and Dad, especially Dad since you were driving his car."

"Elsie..." Tom said in a threatening voice. "I'm in no mood to play games with you right now so just go away."

Elsie stood her ground, "Hey no way, I caught you big brother, you know the rules pay up."

"Elsie!" Tom shouted. "Get out!"

The expression on Elsie's face quickly shifted from triumphant to concerned, "Hey Tom, what's wrong?"

Tom shrugged, "I think Jane and I are going to break up, if we haven't already."

"Whoa," Elsie said as she sat down next to Tom, "What happened?"

"Oh, she went off somewhere with her brother this afternoon, even though the two of us had already agreed to hang out this afternoon."

"Tom, the two of you do that everyday, BFD."

"Yeah, but it's more than that."

"Ok, what's the reason this time?" Elsie asked, exasperated.

"This time? What's that supposed to mean?"

"Just what it sounds like. Every time you go out with someone it's the same story. You meet the person, go out with her, mostly to tweak Mom and Dad. Then after a while you get bored so you concoct some BS excuse to break up and then repeat the process."

"Oh wait, I think I see where this is going. Let me guess I've got a fear of commitment, right? Tom said sarcastically.

Elsie looked at Tom disdainfully, "No, sheesh Tom, you watch too many movies. I mean you go out with a girl until you get bored. Then you're too afraid to just break up, so you latch onto some BS little irritant as your big reason."

"Admit it Elsie, you were going to say fear of commitment."

Elsie shoved her brother playfully, "I was not, asshole."

"Tut, tut, language sis."

"Yeah, yeah. Now, what's this underlying reason for breaking up with Jane?"

Tom sighed, "This is going to sound stupid, but because I think Jane cares more about her 'art' than she does for me."

Elsie pondered this for a moment, "You're right that does sound pretty stupid." She paused, "And pretty reasonable too."

"Oooo, a paradox, care to explain."

"Well, on the one hand it's pretty dumb of you to think that Jane would stop being Jane just because it inconveniences you, but on the other hand, if Jane really does care about you then she'll find more time to fit you into her schedule, as it were."

Tom nodded, "Yep, that pretty much sums it up."

"Hey Tom, I've got a question for you." Elsie asked Tom suddenly.

"Sure, what is it?"

"Do you and Jane still have fun together?"

Tom shrugged, "Sure, why?"

"And seriously, have you ever thought that Jane is the great love of you life?"

Tom thought for a moment, "Well..."

"It's ok to say no."

Tom continued to think then slowly shook his head, "No, I suppose not. Guess there's not much point to the two of us going out anymore huh?"

Elsie swatted Tom on the arm, "You idiot, You missed my point. You have fun when you're with Jane so why change things? It's not a crime to date someone you aren't madly in love with, and you should know that."

"Well, ok sure."

"Then why are you two breaking up? If she's not some big love for you why do you have to be her primary passion? Keep going out as long as the two of you are still enjoying each other's company. When that stops being the case then breakup. Right now you're just being silly."

Tom laughed, "Since when did my little sister become such a guru on the affairs of the heart?"

"Since my big brother started whining to me about how much his girlfriends suck. It's pretty much been all on the job experience since then."

"Yeah, that would make you an expert wouldn't it?" He laughed again, "Ok, thanks Elsie, I'll think about what you had to say. And who knows, I'll see what Jane has to say and go from there."

Elsie stood up, "Sounds good to me. Goodnight Tom."

"Night Elsie, see you tomorrow."

The next day Dave ran into Daria during lunch.

"Hey sorry about that Daria," Dave said, offering a hand to help her up. "Wasn't looking where I was going I guess. You know, lost in a remembered groove or something."

Daria rubbed her now sore rear, "Uh, yeah sure. Why do I feel like I was just an unwilling participant in some grand cosmic joke?"

Dave shrugged, "I got no dukes about that."

"You've 'got no dukes?' What the hell is that?"

"I'm experimenting with new slang, it sucked?"

"Big time."

Damn, there goes my big catch phrase," Dave said, shrugging.

"Dave, the day you start making sense to me I'm getting my head examined."

Dave laughed, "Hey, like I said, I'm sorry. Look, let me buy you lunch, or something."

"Forget it, apology accepted, I don't want to have you add a school lunch to your already heavy conscience."

"Oh come on, you don't think having a father worth several billion on paper doesn't have its advantages."

"You've got some sort of special chef or something?"

"No, nothing quite that dramatic I'm afraid," Dave said chuckling.

"Then what is this big advantage when it comes to school lunch?"

Dave paused for a moment, "Damn, I forgot..." Daria sighed and turned away. "No wait, I remember now, unlimited munchies from the snack bar." He took out his wallet.

"Ok, now you've got yourself a deal."

Soon Daria and Dave were sitting at a table with a large pile of snack food between them.

"You know this is bad for us," Daria said.

"Consider the alternative."


"Where's Jane?"

"Working on a project for art." Daria munched on her Snickers bar for a moment, "So...did Quinn really do any work on that paper?"

"That's an impertinent question."

"Let's just say it would be a first if she did."

Dave shrugged, "Well, it's true. Everything I wrote down she thought up...mostly."

"How's that?"

"She came up with the underlying truth of the paper. I just prettied up the words, tweaked the grammar, stuff like that."

"Oh really."

"Yeah, hey, your sister is more than capable if you pick the right topic."

"What did you charge for your assistance."

"Man, you're nosy."

Daria shrugged, "I'm just curious. I suggested that Quinn ask you for help mostly because I figured she wouldn't, or you would say no. I never thought that the two of you would actually work together. So, what did you pay her?"

"You're just like your sister, did you know that? Neither one of you believe in the concepts of charity and altruism."

"I believe in those things...at least when they work to my benefit."

Dave sighed, "Yeah, whatever. But to answer your question, Quinn didn't pay me anything, I was just being a nice guy."

While Daria was forming her reply the Fashion Club walked past.

"Gee Quinn, that certainly was a large paper you turned in today." Sandi said with as much disdain as she could manage.

"Oh that," Quinn said dismissively. "I just had Dave Wylie write it for me."

"Oh really, and what did you agree to do in return? I hope you didn't agree to go out on a date with him. There's no situation dire enough to require going out with a geek, even if he is rich."

Quinn laughed nervously, "Oh no, nothing like that. He just seemed to want me to hang around while he wrote it. You know geeks, they'll do whatever someone as cute as me wants them to."

"Quinn, that was like, so smart of you. I know I'd never think of something that clever. I'd just try to write the paper myself and fail miserably."

"That's so nice of you to say Stacy," Quinn replied happily.

"So what you're saying Quinn is that you're like the cutest girl in school because you got some geek to write your paper for you?" Sandi sniffed.

"Oh no Sandi, what I meant was..." The rest of conversation faded as the quartet walked away.

"As you were saying?" Daria asked.

Dave looked at the soda can halfway raised to his mouth. He set it down and started at a spot on the table for a moment. An expression of anger, and betrayal, flashed across his face, but when he looked up his face had settled back into a neutral expression. "Well what can I say, Quinn obviously sees things in a different light." He shrugged and stood up. "Enjoy the candy Daria." He sauntered off.

Daria stared at her candy bar, then set it on the table. "Damn, I lost my appetite." She stood up to leave, then hurriedly put the remaining junk food in her backpack. "It is Dad's night to cook after all," She reasoned to herself.

Later that day, after school, Jane was pacing in her living room. She knew what, or more appropriately who, was coming and she didn't quite know how she was going to deal with that. Sure enough, it wasn't long before she heard a knock upon the door.

"Here we go," Jane said to herself. "Come on in Tom."

The door opened and Tom's head appeared, "Hey Jane, how'd you know it was me?"

"I told Daria to steer clear this afternoon and Trent's off with the band, it was a pretty safe guess."

"Uh yeah, I suppose so...can I come in?"

"What? Oh, sure, sure, I won't bite your head off."

"Well that's a relief," Tom said as he shut the door behind him. They stood, facing each other for several long moments.

"So, what brings you here Master Thomas?" Jane finally asked.

"I wanted to talk to you about last night." Tom said simply.

"Yeah, last night," Jane replied hesitantly.

"Look Jane, I understand you're some big artistic spirit and I don't want you to stop being that just on my behalf. But I also do reserve the right to feel a little put out when I think you're putting the art ahead of me."

"Are you really that serious about us Tom?" He did not reply, "I thought so."

"We have fun together, right?" Tom asked.

"What? Sure we have fun."

"That's all I really want, someone fun to hang out with. All that other stuff..." he shrugged, "That's just normal human jealousy type stuff. I'm sorry I was a tool yesterday. I'll try to do better in the future."

"So you don't want to break up with me?"

Tom shook his head, "Nah."

"Well then, I, uh, well I'm sorry I was an ass yesterday as well. And in the future I'll try to be a little better at giving you a heads up when the old muse comes a calling." They hugged, then kissed. After a short time Tom began to pull away.

"Where are you going? We've got make-up making out to do."

"Yeah, well, I er, I've got this paper due tomorrow and I haven't really gotten started on it. Can we raincheck on the make up? Say tomorrow?"

"Oh...yeah, sure, that's for the best anyway cause I've got this...thing I have to finish. Really important, that thing."

"Right, see you tomorrow then?"

"Yeah, sure, tomorrow," Jane watched as Tom walked to his dad's car. She closed the door and went upstairs before he drove off. She stood in front of her easel and sighed, then started painting.

Tom looked on as Jane shut the door behind her. He sighed, got in his father's car and drove home.

"So are you two back to normal?" Daria asked when Jane called later that evening.

"Yeah, I guess," Jane said, sighing.

"Well that sounds like a ringing endorsement," Daria replied.

"It's not like we're going to break up or something, and I think we reached an understanding on the whole art issue, it's just..." Jane trailed off.

"Just what?"

"Forget it, you don't want to hear me talk about this."

"Jane, you're my friend, of course I do."

"Ok then, Tom and I are great, wonderful, never been better. Now I'll see you tomorrow at school ok?"

"Wouldn't miss it...well I'll be there at least."

"Later Daria."

"Bye Jane." The two friends hung up. Daria sat back in the couch and tried to reflect on the past two days. "I wonder if this is how the people in soap operas feel?" She pondered.

Just then her mother came walking through the living room, talking on her cell phone. "Yes Eric, I quite agree, that offer is ridiculously too low," she noticed Daria sitting on the couch. "Oh, there you are Daria, come on, dinner's ready. No Eric, I wasn't talking to you, I was speaking with my daughter, no the other one...yes that one." A sour expression crossed Helen's face. "Now Eric, I have to go, family dinner you know..." A pause, "Oh really, you went there to eat...Mmmhmmm, I'll call you back as soon as I'm finished here. Right, bye Eric." She turned off the phone and walked into the kitchen, Daria followed. "Jake, what are we having for dinner sweetie?"

Jake looked up from the stockpot he was stirring. "My world famous Whatchagot Stew! Here, have a taste." He offered a spoonful to Helen, who dutifully took a sip.

Her reaction was immediate, "Gah! It burns!" In her haste to get a drink Helen lost her grip on her cell phone, which gracefully spun in the air and landed in the stewpot with a soft plop. The phone sputtered and sparked before sinking to the bottom of the pot. The family watched in silent disbelief.

"I'll, err, go order a pizza," Jane said meekly and slunk off.

"Dammit!" Helen bellowed and stormed out of the kitchen.

Daria just leaned back against the counter and smirked, "It's good to know that no matter how strange life gets I can always count on my home life to provide amusement."

The End.

Busted Stuff (Lyrics from 7.3.2000 Three Rivers show, since this is an unreleased song they are subject to change)

Not enough
Never too much
Woman look just like love
A rolling stone
Gathers no moss
But leave a trail of busted stuff
I know she's gonna leave my broken heart behind her
I take what she's given up
I know she's gonna leave my broken heart behind
I take what she's given up
Sweet sugar lips
Pushed from the hips
You know you look just like love
Without a care
She floats above
She got me down here looking up
I know she's gonna leave my broken heart behind her
I take what she's given up
I know she's gonna leave my broken heart behind
She the one, she the one, she the one for me
When she moves
She moves so cool
She got me feeling just like a fool
But inside
Is where the devil hides
The woman look just like love
I know she's gonna leave my broken heart behind her
I take what she's given up
I know she's gonna leave my broken heart behind her
I take what she's given up
I know she's gonna leave my broken heart behind her
She the one, she the one, she the one for me
I know she's gonna leave my broken heart behind
You're the one, you're the one, you're the one for me (repeated)

Author's Notes:

Source Info: There, finally it's done. This story has had one of the most torturous developments of anything I've written. I came up with the idea at some point in time shortly after July 5th, 2000, which was the first time I'd heard the song Busted Stuff. I was struck by the lyric about a trail of busted stuff. I thought it'd make for a great running theme in a story, Now obviously I came up with this plot before the end of Season 4 so the plot was a little different. The main difference was that Tom, Jane, and Daria were going to go buy Tom a new clunker at Happy Herb's. However Season Four ended, the movie was shown, and I still hadn't started Busted Stuff. I felt moved by the events that closed the season out so I changed some things around and settled on the plot line as it occurred in the story. That's the main story behind "Busted Stuff." It's the shorted thing I've written so far in the Daria genre, but each story is as long as it needs to be. I also feel that this is the most episodic of my works, as well as a touch experimental. I played around with perspective a little and I hope the cuts are too jarring.

Dave and Quinn's Excellent Adventure: I know what you're saying, "But Sam, we know Quinn's got a brain, besides, didn't we see this in IIFY?" My only answer is, yes on both counts. However, this is one element of Busted Stuff I settled on long before I even heard of IIFY. I took pains to not work too far outside the pre-IIFY Quinn's parameters and I hope that shows. I chose history for the class because that was my major in college, and the paper topic because I'd just finished reading a book on the subject, "Worldly Goods" by Lisa Jardine. By the way, free No-Prize to the person who spots the pop culture reference that permeates the entire storyline.

Truckin': Doug Boade is my own little homage to a real person, Doug "Taper God" Oade. Doug Oade runs Oade Brothers Hi-Fi and has provided many wonderful tools for tapers, including the Oade cable, quite possibly one of the most indispensable accessories for any taper who owns a Sony DAT deck. He also runs a messageboard on his website that is a terrific resource for anyone interested in taping.

The End My Friend: Yeah, that concluding scene doesn't quite fit with what came before it, but it was part of my initial plotting and I wanted to include it, if for no other reason that to show something else "busting." Plus, I know that if you drop a cell phone in stew the results won't be as impressive; chalk it up to dramatic license.

What's Next?: This is my last story set in Season 4, all two of them. The rest are going to be set in Season 5 and beyond, though not necessarily tracking exactly with the events that will come in that season. I've still got a whole bunch of things in development. Probably the next thing I'll have done is either Chalkdust Torture, Prince Caspian, The Song that Jane Likes, or what I've tentatively titled, The Stone, though who knows what exactly will fall out when I next get out my pen, but if I had to make a bet I'd say expect Chalkdust Torture to be my next.

Well, that's all for Busted Stuff. I hope everyone enjoys it. I'm happy with the piece and I had fun writing it, and that's what's important in the long run, I guess.

-sam 2/16/2001