GUILTY PLEASURES
A "Daria" QuickFic by Erin Mills

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Saturday morning in Lawndale. A clear bright sunny day. A great day to indulge in one's favorite hobby...whatever that may be.

***

Daria closed the door to her room after coming back from her shower. She glanced at her clock radio. 9:45. She had about an hour to get dressed, catch the bus and get over there. Good thing she had set everything up before she went to bed last night. She went into her closet and took out her black t-shirt and her only pair of jeans. She dressed, then went to her desk and took out her contact lens case. Despite the fact that she had decided to wear her glasses most of the time, Helen had insisted that she get a pair of contacts that didn't irritate her eyes so much. "For emergencies" she said.

Daria doubted that she'd be frantic enough to forget her glasses in an emergency, but she did have to admit that the contacts did come in handy from time to time. Such as these monthy excursions.

She put in the contacts, then rummaged deeper in the desk, pulling out a rubber band and a pair of sunglasses. She pulled her hair back into a ponytail, using the rubber band to secure it, then hooked the sunglasses onto her jeans pocket. She went back to the closet, knelt down, pulled back a section of carpet and pried up a floorboard. From the recess under the board, she withdrew a small box, and a red windbreaker. She put the jacket on and pocketed the box.

As she was getting ready to leave, the phone rang. Daria sighed and picked it up.

"Hello?"

"Yo," came Jane's voice over the reciever.

"Hi, Jane. What's up?"

"Just wondering if you wanted to come over, maybe go grab some pizza, catch a movie?"

"Sounds good, but I can't."

"What's up? You and Tom getting together for some 'creative exercise?'"

"Remind me to get out the honey and the fire ants later." Daria replied. "No...um, Mom's forcing me into going with her and Quinn on a 'Mother/daughter shopping day.' Which means that Quinn will max out the gold card, Mom will buy three identical suits and I end up with a plate of cheese fries for my trouble."

"Ouch. Bummer."

"Tell me about it. I should be back by two, though. Wanna get together then?"

"Sure. Godspeed to you, Indiana Morgendorffer, as you face the perils of the Temple of Pleather."

"Thanks. See ya." Daria hung up. That was close. Jane was the LAST person who she wanted to find out what she was REALLY doing today. Daria opened the door to her room, made sure the coast was clear, then dashed down the stairs and out of the house.

As she began making her way to the bus stop, she put on the sunglasses. Well, there was one disaster averted...

***

Jane hung up the phone. Well, there went this morning's plans. Was it time already for Helen's monthly bonding ritual? Jane could have sworn that it had only been a couple of weeks. Oh well...

Jane looked around. She didn't feel particularly inspired, and she had about four hours to kill before Daria would be back. Well, there was always...Nah. She had done that last week. But Daria was going to be gone, and Trent was out at some county fair gig. Well, why not?

She got up off the bed and went to the closet that didn't have the drafting table in it. She shoved aside the huge mound of clothes, revealing what looked like a small stereo with one large speaker and a dual tape deck. A cassette tape case was lying next to it. She unzipped the case, selected a tape, and popped it into the machine. She rummaged around in the laundry, and unearthed a microphone. She plugged it into the jack, and pressed play. As the music intro swelled, Jane picked up a lyric sheet and began singing:

"Hell, nobody's perfect one hundred percent No saint, no pope, no king, no president But our hunger for heroes has made us blind We seek salvation from the Cup of Humankind

But every time we hear the voice Of some new Abraham We wait too late to realize It's just another scam

Fallen Angel Fallen Angel Well, I guess you were no angel after all Fallen Angel Fallen Angel You always take us with you When you fall..."

The neighborhood cats all ran for cover.

***

Daria got off the bus at the Lawndale Mall. She checked her watch, 10:45. She had fifteen minutes to get to the store. No problem.

She made sure her ponytail was still secure and entered the mall.

***

As Daria hurried through the mall, she passed a B. Dalton. Inside, a buxom blonde was looking at the magazine rack. She was dressed in a plain blouse and pants. She also wore sunglasses and kept looking out at the mall proper from her position at the magazine rack. If anyone from the cheerleading squad spotted her...Brittany didn't even want to think about it. She just wanted to get the magazines and get back to her house where she could read them in private.

When she was sure she wouldn't be spotted, she quickly went to the clerk behind the desk.

"Can I help you?" the clerk asked.

"Um, I'm picking up a hold for Ranecia?"

"Okay." The clerk ducked behind the counter, and reappeared with a small stack of magazines. Brittany flipped through them quickly; Guns & Ammo, Soldier of Fortune, American Rifleman, and American Handgunner. The clerk scanned them in and range them up.

"$25.60, please."

Brittany forked over the cash and bolted out of the mall. If she was lucky, she could make it home with enough time to read the magazines and catch "Patton" on AMC.

***

Daria turned the corner and found what she was looking for. A storefront with a gaily colored banner stretched across it. A crowd of kids and teenagers milled around outside and inside the store. Tables were set up inside the storefront, but it didn't look like anything was happening yet. Perfect.

She checked to make sure the box was still in her jacket pocket, then began walking towards the storefront...

***

Jodie walked through the mall. Ahhhh. The mall.

Just to walk through the mall. No real need to be anywhere, no need to purchase anything. No pressure.

She smirked to herself. Thank you "Juvenile Economics Study Society." A club where young people can spend their saturdays observing the dynamics of modern business...or at least they would, if Jodie wasn't the founder, president, and sole member of the society.

But she knew her parents would never let her just go to the mall and hang out...but if it looked good on a college application, no problem. Hence, the Juvenile Economics Study Society.

She turned the corner, heading for the arcade. Today, she was going to beat that damn CarnEvil machine and blast that annoying little jester's skull into oblivion. As she headed that way, she passed by the open storefront with all the kids and teenagers milling around. Oh, it was another one of THOSE things. Jodie really couldn't see the appeal, but to each their own.

She glanced at the crown and noticed a girl in a red windbreaker and jeans at the registration table. She looked familiar. If it wasn't for the sunglasses, Jodie could've sworn that the girl looked like Daria. She chuckled softly to herself. Daria would be the LAST person involved with THAT...

But enough about that, CarnEvil awaited.

***

Daria stepped up to the registration table. The guy behind it looked up at her and smiled.

"You made it. We thought you weren't coming."

"Please," Daria said, filling out the form on the table. "If Carlisle's here, you can bet I'm going to be here. I owe him for last month."

"Well, he's waiting. Of course, you still need to get through the prelims before you can face him again."

"No problem." Daria said, as she signed "Melody Powers" at the bottom of the registration form.

"Well, aren't we confident?" came a new voice. Daria looked up to see a guy about sixteen standing behind her, a deck of cards in his hand. "We meet again, Melody. Ready for your monthly whupping?"

"We'll see about that, Carlisle." Daria replied. "This month, I'm ready for you." She withdrew the box from her pocket. It was black and had a stylised "R" on it. She shook it open and slid her own deck of cards out.

"A Rocket deck...impressive."

"And appropriate, for a snake like you." Daria finished. Carlisle chuckled.

"Well, the rookies await. The sooner we get them out of the way, the sooner we get to our match. You may be the second best player in the league, Melody, but NO ONE has ever beaten me since this game was released."

"You want to chat, or do you want to battle?" Daria said, unintimidated.

"After you." Carlisle said pseudo-chivalrously, bowing. Daria rolled her eyes and entered the storefront...

***

Later, at the Pizza King, Jane and Daria (now in her usual clothes and glasses) were finishing off their usual pie.

"I'll cover it this time." Daria said reaching into her pocket and pulling out a bill clip. The smallest bill in the wad was a fifty.

"Wow." Jane said, "You manage to con that big a bribe out of Helen for today?"

Daria mentally kicked herself. *You had to bring all the prize money, didn't you? Idiot.*

Jane's lips curled up in a smile. "Or did you manage to finally kick Carlisle's keister in this month's Lawndale League Pokemon tourney?"

Daria looked at her friend in shock. "How did you know?"

"You left your cards on your bookshelf after last month's tournament. I spotted them when I came over that night. I talked to a couple of kids in the neighborhood and found out that for the last six months a guy named Carlisle and a chick named Melody Powers have been facing off against each other in the final match..and that Carlisle always won. I didn't think anything else of it until you made up that excuse about Helen hauling you off to the mall with Quinn. She did that two weeks ago, remember?"

Daria blushed. "Oh brother..."

Jane laughed. "Relax, I'm not going to tell anyone. Hell, we all have our guilty little pleasures. What would you say if I told you Trent actually collects bottlecaps?"

Daria looked up and gave a smirk of her own. "I'd say that wasn't half as bad as being able to clear your street of cats everytime you turn on that damn karaoke machine."

Revenge was sweet.


THE END


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"Daria" and all related characters are copyright (C)2001 by MTV Networks and Viacom International. Used without permission.