I originally wrote this for the 1,001 Deaths of Tom Sloane thread at PPMB. I got a little carried away. Since I put so much "effort" into it, I figured I might as well post it here.

Another Version of Tom Sloane's Death

Tom whistled as he walked, cocky-as-ever, eyes on the prize, totally ready for the interview. He sat in the lobby all of two seconds (though it felt like much longer) when the receptionist waved him in. "He can see you now."

"Great!" Tom smiled that damn smile, the one that always made the girls weak. He'd been named most charming among the cast in the local review of his first show, though his acting had been criticized. "Thomas Sloane has the most amazing ability to seem arrogant when portraying even the humblest of characters. His holier-than-thou nature rubbed me the wrong way almost from the start..."

Tom frowned. The recollection was still painful; he'd memorized every word. He was just starting out. He really wanted to make it in the business, but how could he if no one gave him a chance? He rubbed his sweaty palms on his khaki pants as he walked through the formidable black doors that led him to his destiny.

"Thomas Sloane?"

"Yes."

"Have a seat. Let's do a screen test," the head of the table, a bearded man, said. Tom nodded, taking the seat proffered. The mental image of an electric chair sprung to mind: his flesh melting as the watts coursed throughout his system. He shook the thought from his head with wry smile. He shouldn't let his nerves get to him. He had the talent, damn it, and that's all he had to remember.

"Sounds great." Tom cleared his throat before speaking confidently, his nervousness apparently gone. "So." His eyes were fixated on the casting table before him, his head was tilted, and his charming smile was turned on full blast. "Do you like Convertibles?"

He finished with a wink and slid his hands in his pockets as the table stared at him. The bearded man finally moved, breaking into a slow applause. The other judges followed suit. Tom released the breath he'd been holding and gave a slight bow.

"Thank you; thank you."

"You'll be perfect for the role. Your theater background has certainly paid off, Mr. Sloane."

"Errr...yeah. You can't buy experience like that, I say." Tom smirked to himself. Serves that jackass reviewer right. I got a gig on a TV show. And, why? Well, frankly, m'dear, it's because I'm that damn good. "So, what's the role? Recurring, right? That's what my manager said."

"Yes, yes, recurring. You'll be playing Jane's love interest, before you hook up with Dar---"

"Not so fast!" Those aforementioned doors stood not a chance against the ray gun that attacked them. Tom and the casting crew turned to the source of the outcry and were met with the sight of Daria and Jane, dressed in silvery garb. Alien love goddesses, Tom thought.

"What the hell do you think you're doing?" the bearded man cried, indignantly, but the girls paid him no heed.

"Hasta la vista, baby." Jane seemed a little too happy as she pushed the nozzle of an unmistakable, yet unusually designed, gun against Tom's cheek.

"Stop!" Tom shrieked, moving his head away. "What do you think you're doing? What is the meaning of all this?"

"We have to kill you." Daria shrugged, simply, providing no further explanation.

Tom and the casters exchanged confused looks. Daria sighed at the prospect of having to elaborate. Jane was the one who picked up the thread, raising her arms and waggling her fingers.

"We're from the future, booga booga booga!"

The people of the present still seemed lost.

"Damn it, Tom, you're gonna fucking die!" Jane exclaimed, aiming her gun once again at Tom's head.

"But, uh…What? I'm a huge fan of you guys' show. You're so talented." Tom was not stupid. Flattery got people far.

"We're doing this for the show, Tom. We have no other choice." Future!Daria adjusted her glasses. "All other sensible options have been exercised."

"Actually, that's not entirely true. We just saw how much you screwed the show up, so we figured, What the hell? We only get one chance to go back in time, so we might as well fry the bastard."

Tom gulped as Jane's gun got perilously closer. Daria's dry voice cut through the air.

"You've such a way with words, Jane."

"That's why you love me, amiga."

"Wait. I thought we agreed that the lesbian plot was too contrived?"

"It was contrived in the sense that it was scripted, but not in the sense that Jane needs more action. I always vote at the script meetings that Jane should get more tail."

"That's true, she does." One of the casters, a woman, muttered an aside to her neighbor.

Meanwhile, the bearded man tried to talk sense into Jane. "But, uh, Tom plays your boyfriend, Jane. Doesn't that count for anything?"

"No. It doesn't. He leaves me for Daria? Pushaw! Like that would ever happen."

"My fragile self-confidence thanks you for that ego boost."

"You're welcome, honey."

"Can you at least tell me how this came about? How do I ruin the show? Uh...wouldn't it be easier to just tell me what I did wrong? Maybe you could change the scripts?" Tom was trying now, trying to buy his time as he reached for the Swiss Army Knife he kept in his back pocket. He didn't know how much good it would do against a futuristic gun, but, damn it, he had to try.

Damn it.

"Well, it all started on a rainy spring day circa 1980. My mother's water had just broken, and she was trying to finish on this pot before she was taken to the hospital---"

"I don't think Tom was talking about when it all started for you, Jane." Daria sighed. Tom's green eyes seemed to be staring into her soul, begging for a chance, begging for forgiveness for crimes he hadn't even committed yet. "Maybe...Maybe we should just let him go."

"WHAT?"

"Things could turn out differently, Jane. You never know. Maybe this Tom isn't Evil!Tom at all. Maybe he's just...Tom."

"Damn it, Daria, do I have to kill you?" Jane swung the gun in the direction of her friend. "Someone's dying today whether you like it or not. Didn't you always say that the heart of the show was our friendship?"

"Yeah."

"Didn't you always say that that's what people liked, that we were a team?"

"Yeah, I guess." Daria averted Jane's gaze and fiddled with her glasses again.

"And didn't you always that those boots were made for walking?"

"...Yeah?"

"Well, then, I rest my case." Jane shrugged. Daria shook her head, adamantly.

"I can't condone this." Daria went over to Tom and placed her hand on his shoulder, staring him down.

"I forgive you, Tom."

"Thanks, Daria."

"It's okay." Daria smiled a geniune smile. "Everybody makes mistakes."

Tom covered his mouth as he coughed, smug when he spoke. "Well, I probably wasn't wrong, per se."

ZAP!

And Tom was gone, in his place, nothing but black dust. Daria turned to Jane, shocked.

"Oops." Jane yawned. "My finger slipped. You up for some pizza?"

Daria replied, deadpan. "Oh, darn. Just when I was about to start some emotional healing."

"Let's go," Jane said as she and Daria made their way out the door. "Pizza of the past is the panacea you seek."

"Ah, yes. Pizza from three years ago. Things have changed so much, you know..."

Daria's voice faded along with the sound of the girls' footsteps. The casters came out from underneath their table, their citadel, and exhaled, palpable tension broken.

"Well, now what are we gonna do for the next season?"

"We could get Daria together with Trent?" one of them suggested.

"BOO!" "THAT SUCKS!" "TOO OBVIOUS!" "PURSUE THE RELATIONSHIP WE'VE BEEN HINTING AT? YOU'RE CRAZY!"

The bearded man sighed. "I guess we could bring back the holidays."

END

---

Inspiration came from the poodle scene in "Monster."

'Pushaw' is a joke from the Friends fandom that's probably better left un-explained.

And I think that's all.

I'm sorry.