Everyone knows no one makes money from fanfic.
Don't flame me if you don't "get it". It's a waste of everyone's time.
Quinn breezed into the Morgendorffer home, back from her date. Catching sight of Daria watching TV in the living room, she frowned.
"You're not that skinny, Quinn." Daria deadpanned when her sister stood directly between her and Sick, Sad World.
Quinn gritted her teeth against the insult, she put her hands on her hips and stayed put. "Look, Daria, what you said in front of Scott was completely uncalled for."
Daria continued to stare at Quinn's midsection as though she could still see her show, infuriating her sister further.
"Aren't you going to apologize?" Quinn demanded.
Daria sat, completely expressionless.
"Ooooo!" Quinn stamped her foot and marched off to her room. Daria allowed herself a tiny smile.
It had just been some offhand remark about Quinn's kindergarten penchant for paste, brought on by a comment her date had mumbled about the quality/quantity ratio at all the restaurants Quinn liked. She'd just been trying to help the boy out. After all, if Quinn would eat paste, how refined could her sensibilities be?
Later that night, reading in bed, Daria wondered if she'd gone too far. Quinn had seemed really embarrassed. Reminding herself how many times Quinn had publicly humiliated her, or openly denied they were sisters, her old anger settled in and she convinced herself it was no more than she deserved.
"I wish she knew what it was like to be me." Daria said aloud to no one in particular.
"That can be arranged."
Daria sat up like a shot. Who had said that? She looked around the room, wondering if she'd been watching too much Sick, Sad World again. Maybe an eight-hour marathon was too much. Maybe dad's chili was too much. Maybe the combination was too much. Maybe I'm talking to myself too much. I'll stop now.
She'd just convinced herself it was only her imagination and settled back to read when she heard the voice again.
"Do you really want her to know what it would be like for her to be like you?"
"Huh?" Daria blinked. Great, I'm confused by the voices in my head. That is not a good sign.
"Whoever said I was in your head?"
Daria scooted back on her bed into the wall and almost laughed. Well, at least it's already padded.
There was a woman in the room. A long white dress flowed along her form, long blonde hair trailed down her back and there was a slight glow to her. "See? Not in your head."
I've gone insane.
"Oh no, Daria. You're not crazy." The woman laughed.
Daria's first thought was Quinn's recent obsession with guardian angels. "Are you Quinn's…guardian angel?"
The woman stared at her for a second then burst into laughter. "Aaahahahahaha…Quinn's…ahahahaha…Quinn's guardian angel. Hoo. Yeah."
"I'll take that as a no."
"Whoo, sorry. Private joke." The woman looked at Daria. "She does have one though. And he will probably be along presently, so if we could hurry this up, that'd be great."
The woman ignored her surprise, tapping her foot impatiently. "So did you really want her to know what it would be like if she felt like you? Like I said, it can be arranged."
Daria was immediately on her guard. "What do you mean?"
"You want Quinn to understand what it feels like to be you. I can do that." She gave Daria a 'duh' kind of look. "There are only so many ways I can word this."
Daria was skeptical, not only because she was conversing with a strange woman who had appeared out of nowhere in her room, but because for some reason, she knew the woman was capable of doing what she said.
"What, are you my guardian angel or something?" Daria asked, only half-sarcastically.
"Or something." The woman smiled.
This has got to be a dream. Well then, I may as well go for it. "Yeah, sure. I'd like for Quinn to know what it feels like to be me for a little while." She stopped suddenly. "This doesn't involve switching bodies or anything does it?"
"Oh, no, nothing so Disney as that. In fact, this won't have any affect on you at all. Just Quinn." Something in her expression flickered for a second, but it happened too fast for Daria to figure out what it was.
"You're not going to hurt her or anything, are you?" Even though Daria had a good deal of what she thought was well-deserved resentment against her sister, she still didn't want someone else (especially a who-knows-what) causing her pain.
The woman looked affronted. "No, I'm not going to hurt her."
Daria frowned. "Sounds too good to be true. What do I have to give up in payment? Everything I own? My firstborn? My soul?" She was only half kidding.
"Not a thing."
"You don't want anything in return?" Daria asked.
"No, I'm not asking you for anything in return," the woman repeated. "So do you want to do this or what? Like I said, time's a factor here."
Daria thought for a moment. Quinn would finally understand what it was like to be her. Maybe Quinn'll be more understanding. Maybe we'll find some common ground. Maybe we'll actually start to be friends. Maybe I'm still talking to myself too much.
"So do I have to sign a contract or something? Secret handshake? Exchange insurance information?"
"Nope, that was all I needed."
But the woman was gone. Daria stared at the place she had been standing, wondering if it had been a dream or a hallucination brought on by habenero peppers. What did I just agree to? She picked up her book again, trying to ignore the sudden chill she felt.
The woman stood in Quinn's darkened room, the only light the glow from the computer screen, watching as Quinn typed away at her laptop. Sitting at her vanity, nail polishes and makeup pushed aside, Quinn would type a few sentences, pause, read, delete and continue on. The woman watched this process for several moments, obviously unseen by the girl.
Moving to stand behind her, the woman peered over Quinn's shoulder to read what she was writing. She was smiling to herself when she felt another presence in the room. She continued reading, unfazed.
"It's a bit much, don't you think?"
The woman turned to see a dark-haired man, dressed in faded jeans and a grey t-shirt, standing in the center of the room. He raised an eyebrow and crossed his arms.
"For Little Miss Don't-Judge-Me-By-My-Looks? I think not." The woman's sarcastic smile turned to a mock pout as she looked down at her white gown. "You don't like it." The man's expression did not change.
The white gown turned jet black, thigh-high slits along the sides, revealing knee-high spike heeled black boots. The woman tipped her head to the side. "More to your taste?"
"Do you think this is some kind of game?" The man glared at her.
The gown turned back to white and the boots disappeared as the woman smiled sweetly. "Game? Not at all! A game has teams. Winners and losers. Points. That kind of thing. This is hardly a game."
Quinn continued to type, read, delete, and continue on, completely unaware of the two people arguing right behind her. Type. Read. Delete. Continue.
"This isn't a joke!"
The woman smiled at his frustration. "I never said it was a joke, either. A joke is more like: What do you get when-"
She stopped when the man invaded her personal space in one large, angry step. "Enough."
She took a step back. "Oh, all right. Spoilsport." She turned back to Quinn, still busy at the computer and waved her hand dismissively. "You have something to say?"
"What do you think you're doing?" he demanded to know.
Not turning from Quinn's writing, she answered dismissively, "If you didn't know, you wouldn't be here."
"You can't do this," he said sharply.
Type. Read. Delete. Continue.
"Looks to me like I can." She didn't turn around.
The man's expression continued to darken. "She didn't agree to this and you know it."
"Like I said, if she didn't agree, I wouldn't be here. Are you finished yet?" she asked impatiently, thought it wasn't clear if she was talking to him or Quinn.
"She doesn't know-"
The woman shot a fiery look over her shoulder. "Then she should have asked!" Her angry hiss softened as she turned back to Quinn and continued, "I would have told her."
"She still wouldn't have understood," he said coldly.
Type. Read. Delete. Continue.
The woman shrugged one shoulder. "Then she needs to learn how to ask the right kind of questions."
This whole process was useless, he knew. He held no power here, but he still had to try.
"You told her you weren't going to hurt Quinn," he accused.
"I'm not," she countered. She stood up straight and put one hand over her heart. "I promise I won't lay a finger on her."
"I know what you're doing. She will always be Quinn. You told Daria you could make her understand what it feels like to be her, but it was a lie! Quinn will always be Quinn." He was grasping at straws and he knew she knew it.
"Well, duh. But she can still feel what Daria feels." Her voice became a touch haughty. "I never lie."
"You deliberately misled her! There is no way for Quinn to…" To what? Understand Daria? Grasp the complexity of her mind? See the world the way she does? She can't because she will always be Quinn.
"It's not my fault she assumed too much. One more useful lesson learned."
He'd had enough. The man grabbed the woman by the shoulder and whirled her around to face him. "They are not toys for you to play with!"
The woman's eyes widened in surprise. "Not…of course they are!"
There was real fury in his eyes now. His fingers dug into her shoulders. She didn't seem to notice. "They. Are. Not. Your playthings." Each word came out harder and colder than the last.
The woman blinked as a slow smile crept across her face. He wanted to shake it off her. Not that it would make a difference, he had lost before he'd even gotten there. Releasing her with a small shove of disgust, he walked to stand behind Quinn.
Type. Read. Delete. Continue.
He read. They were Daria's emotions, but what he read were Quinn's reactions. Quinn's words.
Lightly touching Quinn's hair, he whispered, "I'm sorry." It was all he could do.
Delete. Type. Read. Continue.
He disappeared. The woman looked at the place he had been.
"No, you're not."
Dear Mom, Dad, and Daria,
This is probably a shock to you but it shouldn't be. If you had ever listened, had ever taken the time to learn anything about me, you would have seen it coming. But you were all too involved in your own lives. To you I was popular, cute, and a bubble head. On the outside maybe I was. Still, I can't believe you never saw, never realized how much I got away with. Or what it meant. Mom- three boys a night? That never fazed you? Dad- hundreds, no thousands, of dollars on credit and not a word? And Daria- you noticed, you saw, and yet you said nothing, just let quiet resentment build and got your revenge in small petty ways. That hurt the most. You knew it was all a cry for attention, real attention, not like the fake attention all those boys gave me to try to get in my pants. But you didn't care. None of you cared. None of you understood. I finally realized no one ever would.
I'm not sorry.
Daria sat up like a shot, her heart racing. Judging by the light, it was early morning. It had all felt so real, the bizarre conversation with the being, seeing Quinn's note. Daria remembered the time Quinn was seven and tried to run away. Not that she got much further than the Miller's shed three doors down and had come running back home after she saw that possum when the sun started to set. Well, at least I know where my subconscious got that one from. Well, 'I'm running away!' scribbled on construction paper wasn't quite as eloquent, but close enough. That other part, though. What the hell was that?
"That's it, no more of dad's chili before bed. Or ever." She swung her legs over the side of the bed and reached for her glasses on the nightstand. "That had to be the weirdest damn dream I've ever had."
Glancing around her familiar room, there was nothing out of the ordinary that would indicate it had been anything more. She felt a sudden chill again, but realized it was only the central air clicking on. Shaking her head at her own silliness, she shuffled toward the bathroom.
Her hand on the bathroom door, she glanced down the hall toward Quinn's room. The dream nagged at her. It wouldn't hurt just to check...
Daria nudged Quinn's door open, letting a shaft of light into the room. She paused when she saw Quinn asleep at her vanity. Jeeze, I guess the nail polish fumes finally did get to be too much.
"Quinn? Maybe you should get in bed," Daria said, though she braved the wrath of a groggy Quinn by speaking.
Quinn didn't answer. Daria noticed one of the nail polishes had spilled. She walked over to right it, but stopped, her blood turning to ice when she spotted a note taped to the mirror.
"QUINN! WAKE UP! WAKE UP NOW!"
Daria reached for her sister's shoulder to shake her awake but stopped in horror when she saw her sister's reflection in the mirror.
She felt like you, Daria. Unloved, misunderstood, unseen for what she really was.
It was the barest whisper in her mind. She could only stare in horrified silence at what her deepest, darkest thoughts had done to her sister. Oh God, it was real. The doubts and hurts that pricked Daria's soul had made her determined to become strong and rise above those who caused them, but they had crushed her sister's weaker spirit into nothingness. Her slashed face and wrists made the girl unrecognizable. Even her familiar carrot-top hair had been drenched a much darker shade.
"You said she had a guardian angel! Why didn't he stop this? Why did you do this?"
You asked me to.
Daria shook her head in denial. this wasn't happening. She hadn't agreed to this. "You said you wouldn't hurt her!" She didn't know if she screamed it out loud or only in her mind. Faint laughter rang in her ears as Daria saw light glint off the blade in her sister's hand.
It wasn't until her parents burst though the door, screaming at the sight of Quinn that Daria realized the maniacal high-pitched laughter was her own.