Untitled Document

Bouncing 'Round the Room: A Daria Fan-Fiction

By: Sam Lincoln (samlincoln@mac.com)

Disclaimer: I do not own Daria and all characters related and pertaining to the show, simple enough.

Rating: oh why not PG-13, a well-earned PG-13.

Summary: Yet another new student shows up in Lawndale, how will this alter the slippery dynamics present at everyone's favorite fictitious high school? Inquiring minds want to know.

Spoiler Warnings:. Despite what you might think, this was not written after Is it Fall Yet?, well not all of it anyway. So despite some rather Superficial comparisons in characters, plots etcthis is an entirely creative work that has nothing to do with what Eichler and Co. wroughtgee am I sounding a little too defensive yet?

Soundtrack: Phish 2000-05-22, Radio City Music Hall, more on this at the end.

"I awoke and faintly bouncing round the room the echo of whomever spoke."

Bouncing 'Round the Room

A Monday morning as unremarkable from any other greeted Daria when she awoke. The sound of running water emanating from the bathroom was enough for her to guess that Quinn had beaten her to the shower. "Well, I can get another twenty minutes of sleep at least," Daria murmured to herself as she rolled over and shut her eyes. When she reawakened the bathroom was silent so she dragged herself out of bed and braced herself in preparation of another school day.

Daria met Jane at the main entrance of the high school, "Hey."

"Hey, so, what's new with you?"

"Not much, spent last night writing that silly essay for Mr. O'Neil while Quinn was trying to explain to my parents that she needs a three-way mirror installed in her room."

"What's the big deal about that?"

"In her brand new walk-in closet?"

"Lovely, hey did you hear the news, there's going to be fresh meat for the sausage grinder called Lawndale we all know and love."

"Tom finally convinced his parents to let him transfer?" The friends walked into the school as they continued their conversation.

"Sadly no, it seems that this new kid just moved in."

Daria considered this, "And just where does this intelligence come from if I may ask?"

Jane shrugged, "I overheard some folks talking about it while I was waiting for a certain someone to show up for school." Jane punctuated the comment by staring pointedly at Daria.

"What can I say, Quinn beat me to the bathroom." She paused, "Come to think of it my mom did mention something about a possible new client yesterday, assuming we're talking about the same family here they are rich."

"Ah, another child of privilege, you can never have too many of them."

"Indeed," They stopped in front of Daria's locker, "Well, assuming Schroedinger was right the new kid is currently inhabiting two states, intolerable and annoying."

"Ms. Schroedinger I think your cat just died. Check it out."

Daria looked in the direction Jane indicated and saw an unfamiliar person walking down the hall. He was of average height and build with close cropped yet unruly brown hair. He was wearing a pair of khaki cargo pants, a slightly battered looking flannel shirt and a white t-shirt with a stylized rendering of the word "Phish." As he moved down the hall, he exchanged the sunglasses that he had been wearing in favor of a pair of wire-rimmed glasses; the sunglasses he deposited in the breast pocket of his shirt.

"Hmm," Jane mused, "Looks like Outsidersville's population just increased by one."

"We'll soon find out, it looks like the fashion police are on the case." Daria nodded in the direction of the Fashion Club who was observing the newcomer.

"Hey, mind if I ask you a question?" Daria jumped slightly at the voice behind her. She turned and found the new student standing in front of her.

"You can, but I don't guarantee any satisfaction with the answers provided."

The boy chuckled, "Fair enough, I just need some directions, where is" He fished out piece of paper from a pocket, "Ms. Li's office?"

"That's easy, down that hall to you right."

"Just follow the sounds of civil liberties being squashed or the surveillance camera wires, either works." Jane shrugged her shoulders, "So, what's your name and your story, and tells us the truth. We have ways of knowing when you lie. And you don't want to lie to us, it won't be pretty."

"I'll have to keep that in mind, but right now I'm kinda late for that appointment, so if you two don't mind?" He nodded to Daria and Jane then left. "Oh, by the way, the name's Dave, Dave Wylie."

As Dave walked down the hall Daria and Jane discussed his merits, "Hard to say really, he didn't give us much of a chance to get a bead on him."

"A riddle, wrapped in an enigma, tied up in a conundrum alright," Daria concurred. She sighed, "come on, we're going to be late for class." Daria walked off towards the classroom, Jane in tow.

"And that would be a bad thing because?"

As Daria and Jane walked past the Fashion Club, they to were discussing Dave's arrival.

"Flannel? Whatever was he thinking? This isn't Seattle, grunge is so out." Sandi disapproved of the new arrival's choice of wardrobe.

"But his pants were kind of fashionable, and he is sort of cute...in an odd retro-loser way." Quinn was mostly arguing the point to disagree with Sandi

"Quinn, grunge is not retro yet, we're still in 70's retro, and after that there is 80's retro, and then 90's retro."

"Oh Sandi, you're always so good at knowing when fashion trends will hit."

"As Fashion Club president it is my duty to stay on top of such things."

"What was up with that t-shirt he was wearing you guys? I don't recognize any label by the called Phish, ohmygosh, I'm slipping in my fashion know-how, pretty soon I won't be able to tell Hilfiger apart from Levis!"

"Calm down Stacy, there is no such thing as a Phish line of clothes." Sandi tried to calm the secretary down before she had a full-blown panic attack.

"Then what is it? And why would you wear it on a shirt?"

"I don't know, Quinn, as Vice President it is your duty to investigate this matter and report back to us. Also, find out if he is date-worthy or not, though I doubt that very much."

Quinn frowned. "Sure thing Sandi, I'll do it over lunch."

"Do you think retro would make me look fat?" Tiffany wondered aloud as the other three walked off to their respective classes.

During lunch, Daria and Jane were discussing the points of interest of the morning, since there were none the conversation drifted to Dave.

"My sources tell me that he's a senior who's bounced around from school to school, for reasons best left unsaid."

"Are these the same sources that told you that Mr. DeMartino would be gone the day he gave us that pop quiz? Or the ones that claimed Ms. Li was an android sent back to our time from the future in order to ensure that the Brave New World Order comes to pass?"

"The jury is still out on that second one I'd like to add." Jane and Daria returned to their meal.

"Hey, mind if I join you two?" The pair looked up to see Dave standing by their table, tray in hand.

"Last I checked this was still a nominally free country, so I'm not going to stop you."

Dave sat down and regarded the food on his tray, "Your invitation was about as inviting as this food."

"It's best if you don't think of it as food, that only encourages it." Jane remarked.

Dave took a bite, then grimaced, "I see, so, any other helpful hints for survival?"

"Do nothing to draw attention to yourself, and just remember it all ends sometime."

Dave considered Daria's comment, "Okay," Seeing that was he was going to get he moved on to another topic. "So, uh, you two know my name, how about yours?"

"My mother told me to never tell strangers that. It's not my fault if you slipped up and I'm under no obligation to do likewise."

"And yet you let him sit at our table and converse with us."

"Helen never said anything that excluded that." Still no names were forthcoming.

Jane took pity on Dave, "I'm Jane Lane and my cheery compadre is Daria Morgendorfer. Welcome to Lawndale."

"The city so repressed it has no statistics."

Dave regarded Daria quizzically, "Is she always like this?" He asked Jane.

"Oh, this is one of her good days, feel lucky. So, how are you adjusting to life at Lawndale?"

He shrugged, "Okay I guess, I still haven't been to a class yet, Li has me taking all these placement/aptitude tests. I think this afternoon I have to meet with aMason, Manson? Something like that."

"It's Manson, though we haven't been able to prove it, we think she gets her therapy strategy from the Manson family."

"Damn, you are sour."

"What can I say, I'm the 'misery chick' of Lawndale."

"Oh, cool."

"Cool, that's all you have to say?"

"Yeah, sure, you've got your thing going, and you seem to enjoy it, so cool."

"Oh" An awkward silence fell over the table.

"I know, can you two give me the lowdown on who's who and what's what at this place? Just so I don't make any heinous faux-pas and end up on somebody's hit list."

"Well sure, but why us?"

"Cause you're both outsiders, Jane here is probably so some kind of artistic type. Therefore, she's probably always looking just to find her next subject. Now you, Daria, get your kicks by witnessing the banality and stupidity of others so you're always keeping your eyes open around here just for your own amusement."

"Most impressive, we have a Mulder in our midst, and just how can you tell that I am the 'artistic type' Mr. Wylie?"

"The paint stains on your hands for one thing."

Jane looked down at the traces of paint on her hands, "Oh yeah, bad day. I don't think we need to ask how you deduced Daria's favorite hobby. It is obvious isn't it? So, anyway here at Lawndale you have your usual collection of jocks, pretty people and assorted riff-raff. Over there's the football team," She pointed over to a table where Kevin was entertaining his fellow teammates with a bad impersonation of Mr. DeMartino.

"Why is that guy wearing his uniform?"

"That's Kevin, he's 'the QB.' Do not try to understand his logic, madness lies that way, too many blows to the head. Moving along, over there is Jodie and Mack," Jane indicated the pair, "Jodie is Ms. Perfect and Mack's the captain of the football team, nice enough people really."

Dave looked around the rest of the cafeteria, "Are they the only minority students in the whole school?

"Unfortunately for them, pretty much yes. And they have to pay for it with overwhelming amounts of faux-sensitivity on the part of the rest of the school."

"Gotcha, I know just how to deal with that, I'll be right back." He got up and walked over to where Jodie and Mack where sitting.

"No good can come of this." Daria sighed.

"A white-boy trying to be down with the homies, nope this is trouble."

"Should we stop him?"

"Why bother, it's the only way he can learn."

Dave stopped in front of Jodie and Mack, "Hey, I'm Dave, the new guy and I just thought I'd go around and start introducing myself to people, you know, get a feel for the school dynamics and stuff and you two are?" He extended a hand to Mack.

"Michael Mackenzie, but everyone calls me Mack." He shook Dave's hand.

"Jodie Landon, Vice-President of the Student Government, you wouldn't be interested in joining any extra-curricular activities would you?" She also shook Dave's hand.

"Maybe, I'll let you know once I get a handle on my schedule. Nice meeting you two, I'll see you around." He waved and walked back over to Daria and Jane's table.

"So that's how you 'deal with minorities' eh?"

"What, treat them like everyone else? Yeah sure, what did you think I was going to try out my Ebonics with them or something?"

Jane smiled, "You know, I kind of like you, but don't think the jury isn't still out with you."

Dave chuckled, "Ok, will you let me know when a verdict is reached?"

"Sure thing, now, to continue, that island over there unto herself is Andrea, if you just let her be there won't be any bloodshed, "Dave raised his eyebrows at this comment but let Jane continue. "The troll over there hitting on the ladies is 'Upchuck.' And if you're wondering, don't ask about any of the seniors, they are a group apart and don't want to associate with those below them."

Dave scowled, "It doesn't matter, I'm not a senior."

Daria looked up from her meal in surprise, "What, but we heard," she gave Jane a sideways glance. "Er, we thought you were."

He sighed, "So did I, and I should be, but my last school was really bad, so I took a semester's worth of classes at a nearby college. So the first thing Li says to me is that college credit can't count towards a Lawndale diploma, so I'm a junior again."

"That is so typically Lawndale, who cares if you were getting a better, more useful education, it wasn't the Lawndale way so forget it."

"Are you going to do an6ything about it? I know a great place to get some really juicy photos of Ms. Li."

"That's all right, I won't fight this battle. It probably wouldn't be the best way to start things off here and hell, so I'm high school a little longer, I still have the college credit, it really doesn't matter much to me." He shrugged.

"I still say a little revenge is in order," Jane began diagramming a plot for Dave to try.

Quinn entered the cafeteria and started looking for Dave. When she saw him talking to Daria and Jane she nearly turned around and left. "Suck it up Quinn, you've got to do this or Sandi will accuse you of not living up to your duties." She squared her shoulders and resolutely walked over to the table.

Daria was the first to notice Quinn, "Oh look who's coming, this should be fun."

Dave looked up and got his first real look at Quinn, "Wow, who's the hottie?"

Before Daria could answer Quinn swept up to the table and began her interrogation. "Hi there, my name's Quinn Morgendorfer."

"Morgendorfer, you two wouldn't happen to be related would you?" Dave chuckled when Quinn tried to drown out Daria's reply. "Okay, I get it. Carry on."

Quinn glared at Daria. "Anyway, as I was saying before my cousin so rudely interrupted me. I'm Vice President of the Fashion Club and so it is my duty to welcome new students to Lawndale."

Dave leaned back in his chair, "Well, that's mighty generous of you, why don't you pull a seat and you can tell me all about this club of yours."

Daria made a disgusted face and started to leave. Jane stopped her, "Don't go yet," she whispered, "I want to see where this goes."

Quinn looked hesitant at accepting Dave's offer but finally caved in and sat in the proffered chair. "Well, okay, see the Fashion Club is dedicated to improving the fashion sense of Lawndale."

"Please, tell me, how do you accomplish this oh so worthy goal?"

Daria looked at Jane, "Is he being sarcastic?"

Jane looked at Daria in surprise, "You mean you can't tell either?"

Quinn ignored Daria and Jane's commentary, "Mostly through example, we take daily trips to Cashman's and make sure to always wear the latest fashions, that way the less fortunate can know what to wear."

"I see, well, what brings you here?"

"Like I said before silly, to welcome you to Lawndale, also to ask you a few questions." She took a pencil and piece of paper out of her pocket." "Okay, let's start with your wardrobe, what kind of shoes are those?"

Dave raised a leg and rested his foot on the table, "Vasque Clarions, a good all around hiking boot."

Quinn looked a little dubious at this statement but continued, "Now the pants are Ambercrombie khaki's right?"

He nodded, "That's what my grandmother said when she gave them to me."

Dave's flippancy was not amusing Quinn, "Well Ambercrombie is still Ambercrombie. How about that shirt, is Phish a new design label, and if so, does Cashman's carry it?"

Now it was Dave's turn to act perplexed, "Phish, design label, wha? Oh, oh, the shirt. No, no." He started to laugh. "Phish is a band I like, I got this shirt at one of their concerts and like to wear it every now and then."

Quinn frowned, "A band, ewww, I've never heard of them. That reminds me, you do know the grunge scene dies years ago."

"The grunge scene what does that" Dave fingered his flannel shirt, "Oh, my flannel, an LL Bean original. I've had it for years."

"Whatever, lets see, so far the only thing in your favor are your pants, you're not doing to well here."

"What about my Ray-Bans?" He asked pulling them out of his shirt pocket. "Don't they count for something."

"They just counter the fact that you have to wear normal glasses as well. Just a few more questions more for formality's sake than anything else. What kind of car do you drive?"

"I just got a new, fully loaded Volkswagen Beetle. Plus if I'm real good my dad occasionally lets me take his Porsche out for a spin."

"Oh," she paused, "those new Beetles are cute cars. What color is it?"

"Uh bright blue."

"Ah well, it's still a cute car, and access to a Porsche is a definite plus. What kind of job do you have and how much does it pay?"

Dave flashed Quinn a smug smile. "I'm the chief content editor for my dad's teen oriented website, 'TeenzBeetz.com.' As for how much money," he shrugged, "I have no idea, most of it is either on paper only or tied up in trust funds. All I know is that I never hit my credit limit and there's always cash available when I go to the ATM. So I'm probably a millionaire or something," he frowned, "Maybe more than that, who know, its more than I need that's for sure."

Everyone at the table stared at him in surprise. Quinn was the first to speak, "Money, big plus, do you want to go out tonight, you know, on a trial basis?"

He shrugged, "Sure, why not."

Quinn handed him a card, "Here's my address, pick me up around seven."

"Seven it is then, see you then." He rather obviously watched as she made her way over to the Fashion Club table.

"Dave, yo, earth to Dave." Jane sighed and finally got his attention by tossing a French fry at him.

"Huh, what?"

"I think Daria would like to a word with you."

"What the hell is wrong with you? Why on earth would you want to go out with Quinn? She's vapid, shallow, totally self centered"

"Cute."

"Is that that all that matters to you?"

"At this moment? Yes. Now if you'll excuse me I have an appointment with the school appointed shrink." He picked up his tray and walked out of the cafeteria, tossing the tray in the nearest trashcan as he left.

"Way to go Daria, burn your bridges before they get built."

"He's going out on a date with Quinn."

"True, and for that he will fry like a pork sausage, but he's new, so cut him some slack."

"Maybe, but somehow I just don't think any slack is deserved."

Later that night Daria tried to start on her homework, but gave up when the clock read 6:45. Sighing she went downstairs and turned on the TV.

"Meet the chef who asked the food critic over for dinnerGourmet dining, next on Sick Sad World." Daria rolled her eyes and picked up the newspaper. She could hear Jake and Helen in the kitchen, each carrying on one-sided conversations.

Shortly after seven, the doorbell rang. "I'll get it!" Jake shouted and he rushed over to open the door.

"Hi sir, I'm here for Quinn." Daria could hear Dave's voice.

"Sure thing, she's upstairs. Hey, you're new aren't you? Come on in, I'm Jake Morgendorfer." He led Dave into the living room. "Helen, Quinn's got a new one!"

"Not much gets by you does it Mr. Morgendorfer?" Dave threw a quick combination of air punches of punctuate his comment.

Jake chuckled, "You've got to get up pretty early in the morning to get anything past ole Jake Morgendorfer."

"Usually 7:30 works."

"Daria! Hello, I'm Helen Morgendorfer, so nice to meet you."

"Hi Mrs. Morgendorfer, I'm Dave Wylie."

"Wylie you say. You wouldn't happen to be related to James Wylie would you?"

"He's my father."

"Goodness Quinn certainly snapped you up in a hurry," Barely audibly she continued, "And I really have to give her something special in return."

"Oh how sweet, mother whoring daughter." Helen glared at Daria with a killer expression.

"So," Jake asked, oblivious to the interchange between his daughter and wife, "What brings your family to Lawndale?"

"My dad wanted to settle down someplace quiet and off the beaten track in the world, Lawndale fit the bill."

"You wouldn't happen to know if you father is looking for any legal advice?"

"Well, I think most of his legal work is handled by Wile-E-Co.com's legal team, but beyond that you'd have to ask him yourself."

Quinn, who had been listening on the conversation the whole time from upstairs, chose this as her moment to make her entrance. "Hi Dave! Have you met myfamily-type people?"

Dave nodded, "Yep, we were just talking about my dad." He chuckled, "Are you set to go?"

"Yep, bye mom, dad, I'll be back before 11."

"And you had better this time Quinn or there will be serious repercussions." The only reply to Helen's threat was a closed door. Just then Helen's phone rang and she walked off into the kitchen to answer it.

Jake turned to Daria; "Well he seemed nice."

"Yes, if you consider nice to be stinking rich and hormonally driven."

"Daria! That's not a nice thing to say about person who holds so much potential influence."

Daria sighed and went back to her paper.

The next day Quinn delivered her report on the date with Dave to the fashion club. "And so, in conclusion, even though he might not be the most fashion sensible person in the school, and he does not fit our common conceptions of popular, Dave Wylie does have a lot of money, and because he does, he is somewhat date-worthy. I think I'll have him take me out a couple more times just to make sure."

"Thank-you for that report Quinn. It's nice to know that when called upon the members of the Fashion Club will perform their duties in a timely fashion. Now moving along to the next item on our agenda"

Daria and Jane were having a brief conversation on their way to class, "So tell me, did Trent manage to get out of that pickle jar?"

"Amazingly enough, yes, and there wasn't even any permanent damage to the jar."

"Will wonders never cease. Oh look, there's the new kid."

"Don't you mean Dave?"

"Why should I know what his name is?"

"Beyond him telling you yesterday? No reason at all."

Dave walked past Daria and Jane, "Hey ladies."

"Hi Dave, how's it going?"

"It goes Jane. Just getting settled in with this schedule, where's Mr. DeMartino's room anyway?"

"Just follow us, that's where we're headed too."

"Cool, what's this fellow like?"

"High-strung doesn't even being to describe it." Jane provided Dave with some points for survival in the Lawndale history class.

During lunch, the threesome discussed the all-important happenings of the morning. "You know, I really thought Barch was gonna try to shove a test tube into you in a really uncomfortable place."

"You mean in the back of a Volkswagen?" Dave smiled at his own joke.

"Yeah, confronting her like that is never a good idea." Daria ignored Dave's flippancy.

"What? I just asked if we should also feel a sense of rage over the fact that the US government screwed Linus Pauling out of the discovery of DNA's structure. It only seems fair to mention that if you're going to bring up Watson and Crick's female colleague who go no credit for their findings."

"I just like the way you tried to appease her."

"Yeah," Jane threw up her arms, "Marie Curie was way smarter than Pierre, Jane Goodall is not a tramp, Laura Dern, Helen Hunt, and Jodie Foster were all very believable as scientists."

Dave pointed his fork at Jane, "Hey, it worked didn't it?"

"It would have been more effective if you had managed to name more than two actual scientists."

"What can I say, chicks aren't good at science." Jane punched him, "Ow, damn bitch go get me some pie." Daria punched him, "Okay, okay, I give up."

"Say Jane," Daria asked, "You never did tell me, how was that art exhibit you said you and Tom were going to see?"

"The exhibit, oh yeah, well, you see, we never quite made it that far."

"Oh really."

"Yeah, his car broke down."

"You don't say."

"I keep telling him that his best bet is to just load the thing up with gas, touch it off and then claim it was an accident to get the insurance money."

"Maybe you could get to do it in front of the school."

"Oh believe me I've tried, but the boy just doesn't want to commit an act of terrorism."

"Wuss."

"Don't I know it. So, we ended up just watching TV instead."

"So you replaced one intellectually stimulating activity for another, okay."

"That's about right. Oh, Dave, you should come over to my house sometime, Tom wants to meet you and I'm sure my brother Trent would too, assuming he's awake."

Dave nodded, "Well, my schedule's booked pretty solid, but I'll see what I can do."

Daria noticed Quinn walking over to their table. "Oh look, here comes the fashion princess, twice in as many days, must be a record."

"What could she want?" Jane glanced over at Dave, "Oh yeah, your date, how did that go?"

Dave shrugged, "She yammered my ear off about fashion all night at this overly expensive frog-joint, but the view was nice, if you know what I mean." Dave wiggled his eyebrows suggestively.

Daria sighed in disgust. "You know there are times when I think that Barch is on to something."

Dave's retort was cut off by Quinn's arrival, "Why hello Dave, how are you doing today?"

"Howdy Quinn, I'm getting along, and how are you this fine day?"

Quinn waved a hand dismissivley, "Oh, I can't complain, Dave, the reason I came over here," she gave Daria and Jane a dirty look, "was to see if you wanted to go out tonight."

"Well, as tempting an offer that is, I really can't accept. I'm going to the Dave Matthews Band concert over at Irvine Meadows tonight." Dave paused, seeing the downcast expression on Quinn's face, "You know, I do have an extra ticket why don't you come along?"

Quinn brightened at the offer, "Dave Matthews? Oh he's cute, I hope that play that 'Crash Into Me' song, that's my favorite."

Dave chuckled, "I'll take that as a yes?"

"Yes, of course, yes. Where are the seats?"

"Dead center, about 10 rows back, great seats. I'll pick you up about a half-hour after school, I like to be at the show as soon as possible." Quinn nodded and rushed off to go plan her outfit.

"What just happened there?" Jane asked.

"I sold out my morals and just invited a teeny-bopper 'Crash-Head' to a Dave Matthews Band concert."

"But at least the view will be good."

Dave grinned, "Oh hell yeah," He held up a hand looking for a high-five. When none were forth coming he looked around and saw Daria and Jane staring at him icily. He slowly lowered his arm. "Uh, okay, I'm going to run away now." Dave collected his lunch and dashed off.

"So, the new guy's dating your sister, any thoughts?"

"Not really, she's going with him because he's rich and he's going with her because he's male. Sounds like a match made in heaven to me. And why the hell should I care about them?"

"No reason I can think of."

"Good, then let's drop this."

"Alright."

"It's not like I'm my sister's keeper, nor really Dave's friend."

"This is true, though I feel a but coming on."

Daria sighed, "But I've got a feeling this will all end badly and I'll get stuck picking up the pieces."

"Always the pessimist, look on the bright side."

"Which is?"

"Quinn's going out with a hippie."

Daria's mouth slowly drew into a smile, "You're right, this should provide a few laughs." Daria considered her lunch briefly, "You know, of course, that we're still stuck having to face the ordinary rigors of life until those two flame out."

"True, Sick Sad World at my place tonight?"

"Wouldn't miss it."

Quinn walked through the halls of Lawndale with the rest of the Fashion Club. She was only paying minimal attention to the conversation; instead, she was planning her outfit for the concert tonight. "It is a concert, so I can't just wear anything, but then again I really don't want to make this Dave guy think I'm getting dressed up for him, cause let's face it, he is a loser, even if he is rich." She frowned, ever so slightly, "But he is sort of cute, in a loser sort of way. It's not like he's a total fashion disasterhe just doesn't dress quite right"

"Quinn, hello Quinn are you paying attention?"

"Of course I am Sandi, now what were we talking about?"

"Well, if you had been paying attention you would have known we were debating the merits of strappy or non-strappy sandals for next summer."

Quinn flinched a little at Sandi's rebuke. "Oh, definitely strappy." She glanced at Tiffany and Stacy to see if she had made the right choice.

Sandi nodded, "That's exactly what I told those two, it's good to see that at least the Vice President has some fashion sense." Quinn inwardly sighed with relief. "By the way Quinn, What was more important than our little discussion?"

"Oh, the new boy, Dave, asked if I wanted to go see tonight's Dave Matthews Band concert and I was trying to figure out what to wear."

Sandi sniffed, "The Dave Matthews Band, you do know that's a hippie band don't you? Potheads go to those shows."

"What's wrong with potheads?" Tiffany asked in her usual laconic manner.

"For one thing they're always eating fattening snack food. Plus they wear tie-died clothing all the time." The foursome shuddered.

"But Dave Matthews is too cute to be a hippie, and there's that song, 'Crash Into Me,' it's so cute, it just can't be hippie music, and that other song, 'Say Goodbye' it's just like so romantic, I just love my copy of 'Crash,' it just can't be hippie music because then I'd be a like a hippie, and I'm not a hippie, I'm popular, and if I were a hippie then I wouldn't be popular, but I am popular, so I'm not a hippie but I like the Dave Matthews Band, so"

"Enough Stacy, you've made your point, I think, Dave Matthews Band isn't quite hippie music, but it is close so Quinn, as President of the Fashion club I order you to only appreciate the fashionable songs at the concert and to ignore the more hippie elements. Also you are to go and show the unwashed hordes how to be fashionable."

"Oh, thank-you Sandi for giving me your blessing to go, like I wouldn't go if you said otherwise," she added under her breath.

Quinn rushed home once school was over to change. The half-hour seemed to fly by and before she knew it, the doorbell rang. "Oh no, he's here!" She stuck her head out the door, "Daria, mom, Dad, could somebody get that?" There was no answer, "Shoot, Daria's probably over at Jane's and Mom and Dad are still at work." She glanced at her reflection in the mirror, "Well, I guess I'm presentable." Sighing she walked downstairs and opened the door, as she expected Dave was standing there, "Uh, hi Dave."

Dave looked up and seemed startled to see Quinn at the door. "Hey Quinn, ready to go?"

"Just about, I Just need to find some shoes."

Dave glanced down and saw that her feet were indeed bare. "Why so you do, my advice is to wear something comfortable and close-toed. So your feet don't get sore and it doesn't hurt as much when you get stepped on, sneakers work great."

Quinn laughed politely, "I'll keep that in mind, why don't you come in and have a seat while I finish getting ready." Dave shrugged and entered the house. As he walked across the living room he took off his sunglasses.

Quinn looked over at Dave and noticed this, "What happened to your glasses?"

Dave tapped his face, under an eye, "Contacts, I always wear them when I got to a show."

Quinn nodded, "Okay, well, have a seat, I'll be right back."

Dave shrugged and sat down on the couch. He casually tapped his sunglasses against his leg, beating out a quiet cadence to some internal rhythm. "Damn," he thought to himself, "this is gonna take a while, why am I doing this?" He glanced up the stairs, "I hope there's something going on with her besides a pretty face or this is going to be a long night."

Quinn was sitting on her bed considering shoes, one pair was an elegant set of heels that she had been planning on wearing, and the other were her infrequently worn sneakers. She sighed and reached for the sneakers, "It's hard to be cute with a broken toe," she reasoned, Quinn skipped down the stairs to meet with Dave, "Okay, I'm set."

Dave rose from the couch, "Great, let's go shall we?" As the pair walked to Dave's car he cast a critical eye over Quinn, "I would just like to say that you are looking especially lovely this fine evening Ms. Morgendorfer."

"Oh, why thank-you Dave, I do try you know." Quinn glanced at Dave and noticed he still hadn't put his sunglasses back on, "He does have gorgeous eyes," she thought to herself. "They're so blue, and"she paused, searching for the right word, "kind I think. I've never seen anything quite like them."

"Penny for your thoughts?" Dave asked, breaking Quinn's concentration.

"Oh, I was jut thinking how you should go without your glasses more often. They break up your face too much, and they just do not go with your look."

Dave chuckled as he got in his Bug, "Oh really, and just what is my look?" He unlocked Quinn's door and she let herself in.

"Why the 'I want to be an outsider, but I also want to be popular' look."

Dave backed the car out onto the road and drove down the street, "Come again?"

Quinn sighed dramatically, "You're trying to live in two different worlds, the popular world and the brainy outsider world."

"And just how do you come to that conclusion?"

"Oh, lots of reasons, your clothes were the big tip off though."

"My clothes?"

"Yeah, see you showed up at school yesterday wearing pants from Ambercrombie and Fitch, which aren't like the ultimate height of fashion, but they also aren't wretched either, but when I asked you about them you tried to blow me off with that bit about a gift from you grandmother, like you didn't care what kind of pants you were wearing"

"Both of those statements are true I'd like to add, they were a gift, and who makes my pants really doesn't matter to me."

"If that was true then why did you wear the Ambercrombie? You were trying to give the impression that you were a 'cool' person."

"Hey, I'm a very cool person, just ask any of my friends. And besides, do hipsters these days wear Phish t-shirts?"

"No, they don't. And that's part of it. Both of your shirts convinced me what you were about." She kept talking over Dave's unvoiced question. "I'll start with your flannel, that was another attempt of your to look like a fashionable person, but a really fashionable person wouldn't wear that kind of flannel, nor one that beat up. Let me guess, you think it's like lucky or something, right?" Dave nodded sheepishly. "I thought so. Now for the Phish shirt, that threw me because I didn't know what Phish was, but it was obvious that you were like trying to show off how cool you were by declaring your allegiance to whatever Phish stood for. And when I found out what Phish was it ball became clear; you were trying to show just how cool you were by dropping the name of some obscure band."

"Okay, let's assume all that is true, and I won't say it is, where are you getting this two world's business?"

Quinn laughed, "That's the easiest part. You hang out at school with Daria and Jane and you're going on a date with me."

Dave shrugged, "So I ate lunch with your sister and her friend, big deal. So I've gone out with you, big deal. Why do these things have to be mutually exclusive, can't a guy be smart and popular?"

Quinn glared at Dave, "Who says that Daria's my sister? Did she say that? Because it's a lie, she's just my cousin, I don't even know why she lives in my house."

Dave chuckled, "Come on Quinn, only an abject idiot would fall for that story. Fact, you live in the same house, share a last name, you both call the same woman mother, and the two of you even look a little alike. It's obvious you're sisters."

Quinn blinked, "Oh, well, don't tell anyone else okay?"

Dave snorted, "Why should I? It's not like I really care, but what does it matter who your sister is?"

"It would ruin my reputation."

"Because you sister is Ms. Doom-and-Gloom? I doubt it. You've also done a bang-up job of ducking my question. Can a person be smart and popular?"

"Oh, sure they can, but there are different kinds of smart people, and you're really deep down one of the geeky, outsider types. And those people aren't cool."

Dave chuckled, "Okay then, so I'm a nerd at heart, why are you in this car with me."

"Because for a nerd you are cute, in a kind of helpless way," She thought to herself, "Because how often to you get a chance to see a concert like this? Besides you aren't a total loss, you do seem to be able to dress yourself at least competently, even if you do lack a little style."

Dave drove the car in silence, mulling over what Quinn had said, "Okay, so I'm not saying what you said is a hundred percent accurate, but I suppose it was insightfulmoderately insightful at least. So you mean to tell me you can create a full profile of a person just by their clothes?"

Quinn nodded, "Oh yeah, it's like a second nature to me."

"But what if a person who's normally a 'geek.'" He took his hands from the wheel to mime the quotation marks, "Dresses up in public like a popular person? Would that instantly make him or her popular?"

Quinn sighed, "I can tell people who are posers apart from the naturally popular, they carry themselves differently."

"So you're saying that some people are just inherently popular and others aren't."

Quinn brightened, "Exactly, just like not everyone is smart, not everyone is, or should be, popular."

Dave frowned, not sure if he wanted to concede the point yet, "But what about the arbitrary nature of popularity? What's considered popular or fashionable in one place is considered the antithesis of popularity elsewhere, or even at the same place in a different time."

Quinn gave Dave and exasperated look; "Did I say that popularity was universal? No, but the people who would be popular in one place will be popular elsewhere, the appearance might change, but charisma is charisma."

"Hmm, seems like something of a cop-out to say that a popular Zulu warrior would also be popular if he were a Caucasian teenager simply because he's popular among his warrior buddies." Dave thought about this as the miles went past. "Okay then, what if to be popular you had to do something that went against your nature?"

Quinn shrugged, "It's my nature to be popular so I don't see a problem."

Dave gave Quinn a sidelong glance, "So you'd kill somebodyno wait, bad example, let me try again. So you'd sleep with somebody you didn't like in order to stay popular?"

Quinn smiled coyly, "I'd just make abstinence popular."

For a long moment Dave managed to keep his face still, then a smile took hold and he burst out laughing, "Be careful what you with for dude," he told himself, chuckling.

Quinn looked at Dave strangely, "What was that all about?"

"Oh, back at your house I was hoping there was more to you than was on display last night. Little did I know you were not only a philosopher, but possessed a keen insight into the human psyche. I have really got to stop underestimating people."

Quinn looked somewhat putout by Dave's comment, "I suppose I'll take that as a compliment."

"By all means do since I meant it as such. Like you said, "I'm a brain at heart and I like to have intelligent conversations with people." He paused, chuckling, "And if nothing else you've given me something to think about. You've got a good head on your shoulders Quinn, don't be afraid to use it."

Quinn blushed slightly and stared at her shoes. "Why should I be?"

"To keep yourself out of your sister's shadow?"

Quinn glared at Dave; "I am not in Daria's shadow."

Dave shrugged, "I know I'd feel like I was if my sister was the smartest person in school."

"Ithat." Quinn growled.

Dave glanced over at Quinn and was surprised to see she was almost shaking with rage, her fists clenched by her side, and a far too neutral expression on her face. "Okay then, we won't. Uh" He groped around searching for a new topic of conversation. "Why don't we just listen to some music." He fiddled with the stereo and soon the sounds of the Phish song "Contact" were floating through the car.

Quinn cocked her head as she listened to the lyrics, "What is this?"

"It's Phish, the song's called Contact, I thought it was appropriate."

"Oh," She paused searching for a comment. "It'swhimsical, and kind of catchy."

"That it is, thought not totally typical Phish, at least not live Phish" He caught himself, "You really don't care to hear about that do you?"

"Why don't you just let me hear them and then I'll make up my mind."

Dave shrugged, "Fine with me, now let's see hereahh yes, I think the second night of the Radio City Music Hall stand will do nicely." He punched a few buttons on the car stereo; gradually the funky beat of "My Soul" filled the car, "All I ask is that you don't pass immediate judgement. It kind of grows on you. Should've gone with 'A Live One,' much better intro"he trailed off when he realized Quinn was staring at him. "Why don't I shut up now and listen to the music, I recommend closing your eyes and letting it wash over you."

Quinn looked at Dave strangely. "Why are you getting so worked up over this? It's just a band."

"Yeah, but, I've got a lot of myself wrapped up in these guys, so if you don't like them then it's akin to you not liking me." Dave squirmed in his seat as he discussed this personal topic.

Quinn smiled playfully, "And when did you need me to like you Dave?" Red bloomed on Dave's cheeks, "Don't worry, I'll be good for now and just listen to these hippies of yours; then I'll pass judgement on them."

Dave nodded and settled back into his seat, letting the groove sink into him, within minutes he looked absorbed by the music. Quinn shrugged and leaned back in her seat. Even if it really wasn't her kind of music, the bucket seat was comfortable. She closed her eyes and drifted off. Looking back on it Quinn was never sure if she fell asleep or not. She couldn't remember a single song, but had a recollection of hearing a loose and unhurried collection of guitar bass, keyboards and drums. She stirred from her reverie by a gentle shaking.

"Hey Quinn, we're here."

"We're here, already?" She looked around and saw they were in a large parking lot.

"Already? I've been driving for two hours. Come on, I want to get set-up and grab some food before the rest of the crows shows up. Plus there are some folks I have to meet."

Quinn groggily got out of the car and waited for Dave to join her. He was gathering a rather large amount of stuff form the back of his car. When he was finished he had two bulky bags slung over his shoulder and was holding a collapsed tripod.

"Ewww, what's all that stuff?'

"It's my taping rig." Dave replied with a big grin on his face. "This is my mic stand, and my recording equipment is in the green bag. The other bag has my laptop so I can get the tracks ready for processing as quickly as possible."

"You're going to tape the concert?" Dave nodded delightedly, "And they let you do that?"

"Oh sure, lot's of band do, so long as I don't see a profit on the venture, which I don't. Now come on, the show starts in two hours." He grabbed Quinn with his free hand and dragged her across the parking lot.

"Oh great, what have I gotten myself into now?" Quinn groaned to herself as she struggled to keep up with Dave. All around there were people college-aged and younger milling around, drinking laughing, throwing Frisbees, and just generally enjoying the gorgeous weather. Dave led her to one such gathering. There was a circle of people surrounding a tall microphone stand with a flag flying from the top. The small group seemed to recognize Dave on sight and greeted him warmly.

"Hey, it's the rich-boy. So, what expensive gee-gaw are you going to impress us with tonight?"

"Oh, nothing too fancy, I'm just going to experiment with recording strait to a hard drive."

The group nodded, "That's pretty cool."

Dave glanced over at Quinn who was trying to stay at the edge of the circle, "Hey guys, I'd like you to meet Quinn. Quinn, this is Alex, Craig, Mike, Jeff and Allen. They're also tapers."

"Um, hi." Quinn waved faintly, she was surrounded by A/V nerds.

The group murmured its collective greetings. The man Dave had identified as Jeff reached into a cooler and retrieved two bottles, "Beer?" Dave shrugged and took one, "How 'bout you, Quinn right?"

Quinn paused and looked around, noticing that everyone had a beer as well, "Oh well, when in Rome." She also took the offered bottle. She cautiously took a swig, it was good beer. "You guys don't mind that I'm under-aged?"

"Shit, Mike over there's underage and he's already on his fifth, we just won't offer you a bowl, unless you want one?"

"A bowl? Marijuana? Ewww, that makes you like eat fatty foods, and is really bad for the eyes."

"Hey Dave, where's Caitlin?" One of the group asked after looking at Quinn.

Dave scowled, "I'd rather not talk about it now." He gave the man an angry flare for bringing up the topic. Quinn took notice and resolved to find out just who this "Caitlin" was. Dave chugged the rest of his bottle and tossed the empty into a nearby bin. "Well, we'd best be going, haven't had dinner yet. It was nice seeing you guys, good luck with your tapes." Dave picked up his gear and motioned for Quinn to follow him.

"Hey dude, don't go now, we were just about to smoke a few, sure you don't want to join in?

Dave shook his head, "Ah, not tonight, I've decided to lay off a little on that stuff, new town, new start, you know how it goes."

Alex nodded, "that's cool, good taping man, don't let the Crash-head wreck your tape." The rest of the group said their good-byes.

Quinn waved to the group. "Nice meeting all of you." Dave and Quinn walked off towards the entrance of the amphitheater, Quinn sipping on her beer as they went.

Dave looked at Quinn and chuckled, "Sorry about that back there, I know they weren't exactly, 'your people' but I had to say hello, you know, for appearances sake."

"So they aren't your friends?"

"Well, yes and nowe all tape shows, and sort of hang out when we dobut I wouldn't say they're friends per se."

Quinn looked at Dave intently, "You don't have many friends do you?"

"Your intuitive nature is getting just a little too damn personal," He growled. Dave came to a sudden halt, causing Quinn to nearly walk into him.

"What's the big idea"

"No containers in the venue, finish your beer."

"Oh," Quinn drained her bottle and tossed it into a nearby recycling bin. "Ok, let's go."

They passed through security without incident. As they were walking to their seats Dave had an idea. "Say Quinn, here's a thought problem for you. If a person is popular in a certain subset of the population does that make him popular to the population as a whole?"

Quinn laughed, "you really haven't thought about this before. No, if you're the king of nerds that doesn't mean you're popular with everyone else, you're still a loser."

Dave shook his head, "Damn you all, somebody my people will be free from your oppression." Dave's stomach grumbled rather loudly, "Damn, I need food. Come on let's go grab a hot dog or something and see if the cash I laid out for this fake ID was worth it."

Meanwhile, at the Lane house, Jane was finishing up an art assignment for school while Daria casually flipped through the paper. "Anything of note in there?" Jane asked Daria.

Daria did not even look up from her paper, "Just the usual, people are worried about everything except what is really the problem."

"Isn't that always the way. Say when you're done with it could you hand me the help wanted section?"

Daria raised an eyebrow at the request, "You're not seriously looking for work are you?"

Jane shook her head, "Oh heavens no, but sometimes whenever Trent's in a major rut I read some choice want ads and that always seems to get him going."

Daria smirked, "nothing like knowing how bad your other options are to get the creative juices flowing; I hear that's what Mrs. Shakespeare did as well."

Jane chuckled as she flipped through the paper. Suddenly she stopped and folded the paper over, "Hey Daria, check this out." She handed the paper to Daria.

"Oh no, I don't need that kind of motivation." She pushed the paper away.

"I'm serious Daria, check this out. I think you'll like it."

Daria reluctantly took the paper from Jane and read the indicated ad aloud. "Wanted, one teen with his or her finger on the pulse of the teen nation to serve as content provider for teen-oriented website. Must have a passing familiarity with English, computer know-how a plus. Generous pay, including stock options. For more information contact Human Resource Department, Wyl-E-Co Internet Solutions at HR@wyl-e-co.com. Submit resumes at resume@wyl-e-co.com." Daria looked at Jane, "you've got to be kidding."

"Oh come on Daria, you'd be perfect for the job, just think of it. You, Daria Morgendorfer could become the voice of your generation. Just think of all the people you could reach with your unique message. Plus stock options go a long way towards getting the hell out of Lawndale."

"While your points are all valid, I think you miss the vital element in all of this; I'm in no way representative of today's youth. They'd take one look at me and start laughing."

"Daria, they're advertising in the Lawndale want ads, pulse of today's youth they have not."

Daria thought for a long moment, "What the hell, all I have to lose is my pride, and that withered away long ago. Let's go work on my resume over some pizza."

"Excellent idea, I'll call Tom and have him give us a ride." Jane picked up her phone.

"He got his car fixed?"

Jane hung the phone up, "Oh damn, that's right. Hang on, I'll go get Trent." She left the room, a few minutes later she returned, without Trent. "Damn, he's not around either." Jane shrugged, "Oh well, wanna watch some TV?"

Daria picked up the remote, "My thoughts exactly."

Back at the concert Dave managed to get food, and beer, for both he and Quinn. He also had been forced to buy Quinn a blue Dave Matthews Band tank-top with a feather motif on the front, and a gray T-shirt with a large, stylized butterfly on the back. They were at their seats and Dave was fussing with his recording gear. Quinn was doing her best to distance herself from the tangle of cables Dave was fighting. It didn't help that almost every minute it seemed like someone was asking Dave if he was taping and could they get a copy. Dave had, of course, foisted the transcription work to Quinn. It wasn't going too badly until she heard a familiar voice say, "Hey dude, you taping the show?" Quinn turned around and saw Jeffy.

"Oh crap, if he sees me here with Dave then everyone at school will know I went to a concert with a geek." She considered running but then calm descended on her, "Wait a minute, I can always say that I went because Dave's rich and offered me great seats which is even the truth." Reassured that her social status would remain unharmed Quinn listened to the rest of the exchange.

"Yeah, so that's my rig. If you want a copy of the show just leave your name and email address with Quinn over there." Dave nodded in Quinn's direction.

Jeffy looked at Quinn for the first time and his dim face brightened, "Hey Quinn, what are you doing here?"

Quinn laughed nervously, "Oh, Dave offered me a ticket and what kind of loser would turn down tickets to a show like this?"

Jeffy looked at Dave closer, "Say, you're the new kid at Lawndale, I'll just give you some blank tapes at school tomorrow, ok?"

Dave shrugged, "Sure, fine, whatever."

Jeffy waved to Quinn, "Bye Quinn, If I had known you were a fan I would have gotten you a ticket, is there anything you need right now?"

Quinn shook her head regally, "No, you may go back to your seat." Jeffy walked off.

Dave tracked the departing teen as he made his way through the crowd, "Friend of yours?"

Quinn shook her head, "He's one of my admirers."

"Ah, a boy-toy. I hope you don't expect me to be at your beck and call like a man servant."

"Why shouldn't you, after all I did agree to go to this concert with you."

Dave shrugged, "And for that thank-you, I hate to go to shows alone, but don't think you're doing me any great favors, I could've just as easily asked your sister, or anybody else for that matter. It don't need you to validate my existence. My question is, are you the same way?"

Quinn frowned, "And just what is that supposed to mean?"

Dave held up his hands defensively, "Forget I said anything. Let me show you my rig before the show starts." Quinn shrugged and watched as Dave removed a microphone from the retracted stand. "This is the business end of the deal, a matched pair of Neumann AK-40 cardiod microphones," he tapped the front of the microphone, "They connect to the body here," he tapped the back of the microphone, "To make the KM-140 mic, list price around 2000 dollars for the pair,. He reattached the microphone to the stand and then held up the cable running out of the mic. "This is obviously cable, specifically it's Audio Magic Excalibur II, hand crafted silver cabling, cost me nearly 800 bucks for the twenty foot pair." Quinn's eyes widened in surprise, Dave picked a silver and blue box out of his bag, "This is my preamp, it provides the power need to run the mics, it's a Lunatec V2 and also costs around 2000. From the preamp the sound goes through the A/D converter, this little beauty changes the analog signal from the mics into a digital one. I'm really happy with mine, it's an Apogee AD-1000, they stopped making them, this one cost me over 3000 dollars to get this one used. And finally we have the jewel of my collection, and Hhb PDR-1000 PortaDAT, this is the finest portable digital audio tape deck ever made, cost me an arm and a leg to get it too. Just for giggles I'm also running a digital feed to my laptop, which skips the DAT deck and lets me burn to CD without any sort of conversions." Dave saw the glazed look on Quinn's face, "Sorry for getting techie on you. I won't do it again."

"I had no idea how expensive all that stuff was."

Dave grimaced, "It's an extremely expensive addiction."

Quinn was still thinking about all the clothes she could buy with the money Dave had invested on his rig when the opening bad came on. Through the band's set, a group which Quinn had never heard of, she thought about the evening up to that point, more specifically, Dave. "he's so strange, I can tell he does care about what other people think about him, but he also tries so hard to be an outcast." She watched as he carefully adjusted something on his equipment, "And this taping business, he's like that kid in elementary school who'd always bring cookies to class so I'd like him." Quinn paused, "What a second, that's it, he is the cookie kid. Just with a very large credit cardI wonder how much stuff from Cashman's I could get out of him.: She spend the rest of the set day-dreaming about new outfits, all paid for out of Dave's bottomless pockets.

The opening band finished their set and the roadies swarmed the stage. Dave turned off his gear and got it ready for the main act. "Hey Quinn, I'm going to go get something to drink, do you want anything?"

"A diet soda please."

Dave nodded, "Gotcha, don't let anyone mess with my stuff." He walked off towards the concession stands. He stopped and walked back to his seat, "Oh, in case I'm not back when the show starts let me show you how to turn this thing on."

"But I don't know anything about those things."

"Don't worry, it's all set up, just turn the preamp, a/d, and deck on like so," he demonstrated, "then just hit the record and play buttons like so. There, you try." Quinn did, and to her surprise it worked. "See, that's easy, if you really want to go above and beyond the call of duty you could also watch the levels, those are the little bars on the DAT's display, just make sure they aren't hitting zero, that's bad. If they do, turn these knobs on the preamp down, that's really all there is. Think you can handle all that?"

Quinn shook her head, "Not really."

Dave chuckled, "Just be sure to get the recording started, I can fix the levels after the show."

"What about your laptop?"

"Oh yeah, almost forgot. It's in sleep mode right now." He thought about something for a moment, "Don't worry about it. I can splice the sources together after the show. Just don't forgot, preamp, A/D, deck, record/play. I'll be as quick as possibleDamn, one more thing, you might want these," he handed her a pair of ear plugs, "I don't like to court hearing loss and the show can be kind of loud." Quinn took the plugs and put them in her ears, they were the high quality ones that rock musicians wore.

"Thanks."

"Don't mention it." With that Dave finally went off in search of beverages.

Quinn passed the time by getting acquainted with Dave's recording equipment. She really didn't care about it, or for it, but messing up his tape would definitely not reflect well on her and might hurt her chances for another date. While she was doing this an older gentleman walked up.

"Hey there, taping the show?"

"Uh, yeah." She should've said no, but this guy was cute so she felt like she had to impress him.

"Cool, what are you running?"

Quinn paused, trying to decipher the jargon, "Um, mics."

The man laughed, "That much I figured out, what kind?"

Quinn desperately tried to remember everything Dave had told her, she glanced down and noticed that Dave had left a notebook open by his gear. On the page was the date, location and something called source, "That must be it," she thought to herself, "Uh, Neumann KM-140's, Lunatec V2, Apogee AD-1000, HHb PDR-1000 PortaDAT." She tried to be as discrete as possible as she read the list off.

"That's very impressive. Tell me, what do you think of the Neumanns, are they better than Schoeps Mk4's?"

Quinn had no idea what he was talking about, "Oh, the Neumanns are by far superior. I wouldn't be using them otherwise."

"Fair enough, here let me give you my number, give me a call and we can debate mics in full at a later date." He handed Quinn a business card. Quinn took the card and slipped it in her purse.

"Sure thing." They waved and the man walked off. "Cool, this thing might be good for something after all." She sat back in her seat with a satisfied smirk on her face. At just about that exact moment the band hit the stage. Quinn shot up and quickly turned on all the components of Dave's gear, the counter started ticking away and Quinn breathed a sigh of relief. "Thank goodness I didn't screw that up. Oh my god, he's so cute!" Quinn exclaimed when she saw Dave Matthews.

"Hey, not so loud, you'll wreck my tape." A quiet voice in the din said behind her. She turned around and saw Dave armed with a fully loaded tray of food and beverages. "Your soda madam," he handed Quinn her soda and set the tray down on his seat. "So you got the tape started, great, let me just get the computer going and we can enjoy the show." He said this mostly to himself since it was nearly impossible to be heard over the roar of the crowd. Dave made a few adjustments to his gear and flashed Quinn a thumbs up sign. Dave then motioned for Quinn to enjoy the show.

Daria was hunched over her computer, working on her resume. Tom had called Jane and the two had gone somewhere in a car borrowed from Tom's parents. Daria had enough sense to know when she was a fifth wheel and talked home after a few moments of awkward small talk. Jane made it clear that she wanted to be alone with her beau.

So Daria walked home, "So what if I'm by myself, at least my friend's happy. So I should feel happy for her'yay.' That was about as convincing as the knights in Monty Python," she sighed. "Oh great, now I'm referencing Monty Python, wonderful. But I should be happy for Janelook at me I'm happy." Her face remained impassive. "There, now suck it up Morgendorfer and go home and write that resume before the police pick you up for vagrancy." Daria walked up to her house and opened the front door. Inside she found Helen and Jake in the kitchen. Helen was unpacking a collection of Chinese food containers from a large paper bag while Jake was browsing the paper. Neither of them had noticed when Daria entered the room. "Mom, Dad, I'm home."

Jake looked up from his paper, "Oh, hey kiddo, how was your day?"

"Well, nobody suffered any permanent damage, but beyond that whatever else you hear is unsubstantiated rumor."

"That'sgreat kiddo, keep up the good work."

Daria looked at the pile of Chinese food on the table, "I see we aren't even bothering at any trappings of domesticity tonight."

Helen sighed, "Really Daria, I've had a hard day at work and Eric wants me back in an hour, we're expecting a fax from Japan and somebody has to be there to respond immediately. So it was Chinese or let your father cook."

"Point well taken, pass the lo mein." Daria picked up one of the white boxes and started to eat.

"Huh, I too can cook, who says I can't?"

"Jake, eat your dinner before it gets cold. It's your favorite."

Jake's face lit up, "Oh boy, moo goo gai pan!" He grabbed a carton and happily hummed "Moo goo gai pain," to himself.

Helen shook her head sadly, until she noticed Quinn's absence. "Daria, where's your sister?"

Daria frowned, "Do I look like Quinn's date book?"

"No, but since the two of you do go to the same school she might have mentioned something to you."

Daria sighed, "Ok, this time I do know, but this does not mean I'm responsible for her. She went to a concert over in Irvine."

"What? That's two hours from here! When she gets home she is in serious trouble. And just who did she go to this concert with?"

"Uh, Dave Wylie, the guy who was over last night."

"Oh, James Wylie's son? Well, he's a responsible enough boy, I'm sure nothing bad will happenthough I will have to remind Quinn to leave us a note."

"What? He's only been in tow for two days, and you only met him for five minutes tops yesterday, how the hell do you know if he's responsible or not?"

"Daria, language! James Wylie is a very respected member of the community, and he just put the firm on a hefty retainer to handle his local legal matters, I'm sure his son is a perfect gentleman."

"Excuse me, I'm going to go upstairs and brush up on my Marx" She looked at her food, "and Mao." She picked up the food and trudged upstairs.

"Moo goo gai pan, moo goo gai pan" Jake continued singing to himself, oblivious to the argument around him.

"Jake! Would you stop that?" Helen snapped, she angrily speared a piece of chicken with her fork and ate it distractedly.

Daria sighed and read what she had typed, "Interests: Plotting the proletariat's toppling of the bourgeoisie hegemony." She groaned and started pressing the delete key. Her conversation with her mother over dinner was still fresh in her mind, and the implications of it bothered her. "Oh to hell with it." She closed down her word processor and picked up her food carton. She poked through the remains of the lo mein, looking for any morsels. She found a mushroom and savagely speared it with her fork, tearing the soggy carton in the process. "Well this has just been a wonderful evening." She tossed the ruined carton into the trash. While chewing on the mushroom Daria glared at the fortune cookie sitting on her desk. "The way things are going it'll say I'll contract Ebola or some other hemorrhagic fever. What the hell, a cookie's a cookie, even if this one doesn't have any chocolate chips." She opened her cookie and read the fortune. "'A new love will be found unexpectedly, happy long journey. Lucky numbers 10, 28, 11, 13.' Hmm, I wonder if I got Quinn's fortune by mistake." At that moment Daria's ICQ chirped, she looked at the screen, it was a message from Tom.

"Hey Daria."

"Hey, weren't you going to do something with Jane?"

"Oh, she's here too. I was thinking about having my room re-painted so I needed some advice from an expert."

"Say hi to her for me."

"She sayshelp, help I'm being held hostage in a posh mansion, and I'm being forced to look at paint chips! Hey Daria."

"Very funny you two."

"Jane wants to know how your resume is going?"

"It'd be going better if I wasn't plotting to overthrow the corrupt bourgeoisie swine simultaneously."

"Been hitting the Marx and Engles a little too hard? Remember the key is moderation."

"It's not that, the new kid in school just whisked Quinn off to some concert and my parents aren't even remotely upset because the guy's father is a wealthy client of my mother's firm."

"Is this that guy Dave Jane was talking about?"

"The one and the same."

"From what Jane says he seems like a pretty cool guy."

"Well maybe I just take longer to warm to people, but I like to hold off on judgement until I know they aren't a total asshole."

"Seems like we've had this conversation before."

"And I was right that time too."

"But I didn't turn out to be a complete asshole now did I? I'm sure this Dave fellow is perfectly harmless. Oh crap, got to go, Jane wants to show me something, bye Daria."

"Bye Tom." Daria sighed and reopened her resume in progress, she wrote for a little while before quitting the program again, "Who am I trying to kid?" She picked up a book and lay on her bed, reading.

The concert progressed along at its own pace. Quinn squealed every time the band played a song she recognized and was silent for everything 4else. She was getting a little tired of standing but nobody seemed too inclined to sit down. Dave appeared to be enjoying himself, though it was hard to tell, he rarely applauded and never said a word. A couple of times Quinn had wanted to ask him the name of a song, but the noise in the amphitheater was just too loud. Every now and then a member of the opening band came out and performed with Matthews. This seemed to really excite the crowd, but Quinn didn't really understand what the big deal was, though the guest bass player was very good and the banjo was interesting. During one of those extended solos Quinn glanced over at Dave. He was totally entranced, eyes closed, body swaying in time with the music. The band ended its set and exited the stage. After the obligatory waiting period they returned to the stage, with the extra musicians, and launched into the encore. Quinn was startled by the sudden "Yes!" Dave shouted. The song the band was playing was a quiet one, the crowd was hushed, sensing something special. Quinn didn't know the song but was enchanted by its haunting lyricism. When the song ended they started a second. This song went on for a long time as everyone on stage lent his own spin to it, eventually the melody morphed into a completely different song. When the last notes of the song drifted away Quinn thought the concert was over.

However Matthews stepped up to the mic, "Hey ya'll they've got this rule about how long you can play herebut we just said fuck that, when you've got all these fine musicians on stage and the groove's going you've just got to keep on dancing. So like, this is the last show with Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, the fine Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, so we thought we'd send em off with a proper good-bye, this being their last stop with us and all" With that the band began another tune. It started out with an almost Middle-Eastern feel too it, then suddenly exploded into an aggressive melody. The song built to a fevered pitch and then trailed off to a lilting conclusion of Matthews and the banjo player, until that too faded away. With a final, "Ya'll take care of yourselves," the band exited the stage and the crowd roared its approval. Even Quinn was caught up in the moment as she clapped and cheered. The lights came back on and the crowd began to make its way out.

Dave was carefully dismantling his equipment in the swirling chaos around them. "Well, how'd you like it?"

"It was great, Dave Matthews was so cute, and he played all the songs I knew, Even the ones I didn't know were ok."

"If I were you I'd be feeling pretty lucky right now. This was a special concert, a couple of those songs have only been played a handful of times live, and I have it all on tape." He patted his case and grinned. "Now for the fun part, getting out of this madhouse."

Quinn surveyed the crowd, "Just stay close to me." As she walked through the crowd it parted for her, like an icebreaker in the Baring Strait. Dave chuckled to himself and bolted through the opening Quinn made. They were at Dave's car in no time.

"I don't suppose I could lash you to the roof of my car so we could try that trick on the traffic jam at the gate?"

Quinn laughed, "Oh no, it only works on crowds."

"Damn, well, we're gonna be here for a while. There's a cell phone in the glove compartment if you want to call your folks and let them know roughly when we'll be back, it'll probably be at least three hours. I'm going to hook up my deck up to the car stereo so we can take a listen to the tape and see how it came out."

"Oh damn, my parents," Quinn dug the cell phone out of its hiding place, it was a small, cutting-edge phone. "How typical," she thought, "an expensive gadget just left in a glove box." She dialed the phone and braced herself, "Hi mom, it's Quinnyes, I am, no we're in the parking lotNo! Mom! We're stuck in trafficI know, I should'vewell I was invited just today, there wasn't any time toI know, next time I promisewhen? Dave says three hoursI remember the curfew, can't I have an exception? What? Sure." She handed the phone to Dave, "My mom wants to talk to you."

Dave shrugged and took the phone, "Yes Mrs. Morgendorfer? That's right traffic snarlI will drive safely. I promise strait to your houseno problem at all Mrs. MorgendorferNice talking to you." Dave shut the phone off and tossed it back into the glove box. "It's nice that your mom cares about you."

"I guess, I just wish she'd keep her nose out of my business."

Dave smiled wistfully, "I suppose, but trust me you'll miss it."

"I doubt it. Say Dave could I get a copy of this show for my friend Stacy, she's a big fan of Dave Matthews"

"Say no more, I'll have a copy ready tomorrow. Oh come on you fucker, let me through." Dave directed this last comment to the driver who swung out in front of him. They slowly made their way out of the parking lot, Dave's ire growing by the minute. "Unbelievable, the one universal constant in life, every other driver is insane. You fuck-tart!" He hollered at another driver.

Quinn, who was used to such tirades, simply leaned back in her seat and waited, "Hey Dave, would you mind putting on that CD you were playing on the drive up?"

"The Phish concert?" Dave asked, surprised.

"Yes, it was like, very calming. It'd be great music to fall asleep to. I felt so refreshed after listening to it this afternoon."

"Uh, sure no problem. I usually spend the drive home analyzing that night's tape, but sure we can listen to Phish instead." Dave turned on the car stereo and called up the right CD.

"Thanks," Quinn shut her eyes and let the music take hold. Dave chuckled to himself and continued to curse at the traffic, though in a muted tone. By the time they were on the highway Quinn was asleep.

Dave gently nudged Quinn's shoulder, "Hey Quinn, we're back, wake up."

Quinn started, "Hmm, what? Oh great." She got out of the car, Dave followed.

"Here, I'll walk you to your door."

"Oh you don't have to do that."

"I insist, sleep deprivation makes me feel chivalrous." They walked to the door in silence.

"Dave, thanks for taking me to the concert, I really did enjoy myself."

"I'm glad. I had fun too. Hang on a sec, let me give you something." He ran back to his car and returned shortly with a CD jewel case. He opened it to reveal three CD's. "It's that Phish concert we listened to, I thought you might like having a copy."

"You shouldn't have. Are you really sure you want to give me this, don't you want it?"

"It's no problem, really. I can just make myself another copy."

"That's like so sweet, thanks."

"Hey Quinn, I was wondering, next week the opening band at the concert tonight is going to be putting on a show nearby, want to go?"

Quinn didn't really want to, but a plan quickly came to mind, "Sure, but only if you agree to get me tickets to the Backstreet Boys concert in two weeks. For me and the rest of the Fashion Club, floor seats."

Dave thought for a second, "Deal, see you tomorrow."

Quinn leaned up and gave him a quick peck on the cheek. "See you tomorrow Dave." Quinn watched as Dave walked back to his car, then drove off.

The next day Quinn was delivering her report on fashion at a Dave Matthews Band concert when Dave sauntered up. He was wearing his usual attire, though his glasses were conspicuously missing.

"Hey Quinn."

"Oh, hi Dave, we were just talking about the concert last night."

"Ah, discussing the music theory behind the chord progressions in 'Crash Into Me?'" The Fashion Club looked at him blankly. "Okay, forget I said anything." Sensing he was in trouble he groped for a safer topic, "Erm, hi, I'm Dave Wylie, I don't think we've been introduced."

"That's right, you haven't," Quinn said hastily. "Dave this is the Fashion Club. Um our president, Sandi Griffin."

"Hi there, pleasure to meet you. Tell me, is this a for-life gig, or do you have term limits?" Quinn winced at Dave's flippant remark.

Sandi's eyes narrowed, "Hello Dave, I would think a person with the amount of money you have would be, like, a little more fashionable."

Dave shrugged, an easy going smile on his face, "Oh you know, when you've got more money than God it really doesn't matter what the little people think." He smirked at Sandi, who glared at him.

Quinn coughed, "Ahem, uhm, this is Stacy Rowe, she's the secretary." Quinn just wanted to get this over with, considering the way Dave behaved towards Sandi he would alienate the entire Fashion Club in record time.

"Ahh, yes, Ms. Stacy, I have something for you." He reached into a pocket and withdrew a CD case. He handed it to Stacy. "A copy of Last night's Dave Matthews Band concert, a little bird told me you were a fan."

"oh, thank-you, this is so cool. Dave Matthews is just so adorable, I love him so much! I can't believe this, thank-you, thank-you."

"Hey, no problem, I'm just sharing the groove." Again the group looked at Dave like there was something growing out of the side of his head.

"Finally, this is Tiffany Blum-Deckler, she's out coordination specialist."

Dave nodded, "Howdy."

"Hello," Tiffany replied in her laconic fashion.

"Say, Tiffany, if you want to hang out at my place next 4.20 I've got some absolutely dank Dead to listen to, I mean some really choice Dick's Picks."

Tiffany looked at him blankly, "4.20? Dead?"

"Yeah, you know" Quinn dragged Dave away from the rest of the group. They couldn't hear what was said between the two. When Dave and Quinn returned his eyes were wide open, "I had no ideaI mean look at herehow can she not be?" he muttered to himself. "Uh, forget I said anything" he glanced at his watch, "Well, look at the time, I seem to be overstaying my welcome, so it was nice to meet the three of you, talk to you soon I hope. See you soon Quinn. Sandi, Tiffany, Stacy take care." He waved to the foursome and made a hasty exit.

"Well, he's pretty much a loser; Quinn I hope you aren't planning on going out with him again."

"Actually Sandi I agreed to go see another concert with him next week."

"What? Quinn have you lost your mind?"

"Oh no Sandi, you see if I go to the concert with him he'll get the four of us tickets to see the Backstreet Boys."

"Ah, so you're using him for his money and access, that is the true hallmark of a Fashion Club member, especially if it's for the good of the Fashion Club."

"I knew you'd see it that way Sandi."

"That boy is like a meal ticket Quinn, if you ever forget that I guarantee you that other people won't, and be more than happy to take him off your hands." Sandi let the not-so veiled threat hang in the air as she changed subjects.

After Dave's encounter with the Fashion Club he headed to his next class, along the way he ran into Daria and Jane.

"So that's why the great Paint Experiment has to go down as a failure, lack of patron support for the artist's vision."

"How dare Tom have an opinion on how his room should look."

"Yeah well don't ask for my advice if you aren't going to follow it."

"I'll keep that in mind Rasputin." Daria noticed Dave, "Why there's our resident capitalist swine."

Dave stopped short of the pair, "Ouch, comrade, I'm deeply hurt you doubt my commitment to the Revolution. Have I done something to offend tovarisch?" For the last portion of his comment Dave affected a bad Russian accent.

Jane shook her head, "Nyet." She paused, "Can we do this in English? I get confused enough when people stick to just one language, let alone two."

Dave chuckled, "Si senorita, ingles es muy bueno." Daria and Jane both regarded him coolly, "Ok, ok, that was too glib, just tell me how I've pissed you off?"

"It's your money, under normal circumstances my parents would have at least been a little mad at Quinn for that stunt last night, but because it was with you they were fine."

Dave sighed and ran a hand through his hair, "And you're upset at the obviously flawed logic. Yeah, I hear you and agree with you. Look, let me put it this way, I didn't ask to have a father who has more money than most nations and believe me, while that's great you can't imagine the price that both of use have paid," Dave's face crumbled with long remembered pain. "So, yes, I get preferential treatment because I'm rich. It sucks and it is stupid, but I'm not going to turn away a gift horse"

"Just look out for the wooden ones."

"Yeah, quite. But hey, I've got money, it provides me certain luxuries so I'm going to take advantage of them."

"Like my sister?"

"Yeah, I'll let her bleed money, tickets and other crap for the honor of being seen in public with her. Don't worry about Quinn Daria, she's using me as much as I'm using her."

"That's healthy," Daria said coolly.

Dave shrugged, "Not in a traditional sense, no. But we both understand where things stand. We've got an unspoken agreement that benefit's us both, where's the harm in that?" With that Dave ducked into O'Neill's classroom, leaving Daria and Jane in the hallway.

Jane shrugged, "He has a point."

Daria shook her head, "This will all end badly, and I'll have to clean it up, somehow."

"Yeah, yeah, yeah, can we got to class, please?"

And so life settled into a routine, of sorts. For every concert by a band like Bela Fleck and Flecktones or Widespread Panic Dave took Quinn to he either attended or provided her with tickets to see teen bands of the moment, like Christina Aguilera or 98 Degrees. For every shopping spree at Cashman's Dave financed Quinn would sit through a moe concert. Quinn ignored her other admirers simply because Dave could attend to all her needs. Despite this the two still did no interact together a great a deal at school. Even though they were considered by many to be the school's newest "power" couple, the blending of Dave's wealth and Quinn's raw popularity, they kept to themselves to a large degree. Daria naturally viewed the whole thing at a distance and with great disdain.

"It's like one of those medieval arranged marriages," She said to Jane one Day. "Marriages for diplomacies sake and not love's."

Jane frowned, "And when have you cared about Quinn's love life?"

"Never."

"Then why are we talking about this? Unless you're secretly pining for Dave. Concealing your wonton feelings for that hunk of rich, disaffected teen behind a protective wall of denial, cynicism and sarcasm."

Daria looked at Jane evenly, "You've found me out, my lust for Dave Wylie knows no bounds. Every time I see him with my sister just tears at my soul." She stopped, "And if you believe that I have a lovely bridge for sale."

"Better not be the one in Brooklyn, I already own it. Ok, so if you don't care about the participants in this little affair then why are you talking about it?"

"Because it exemplifies what is wrong with the world. If Dave wasn't a rich boy my sister wouldn't even know his name, but instead she's using him to get all the little baubles that strike her fancy. And Dave is using that fact to make himself more popular simply because he's the guy who's going out with Quinn Morgendorfer."

"Just admire the fine symbiotic nature of two parasitic relationships and let it go. They'll flameout nastily, Dave will lose his coolness and Quinn her sugar daddy, the equilibrium of nature will be restored and life will continue onwards."

"I suppose, but that doesn't mean I'm not ticked off about it."

Jane slouched in her seat, "Do tell."

Daria sighed, "Ok, I admit, the reason I'm mad is because of that job."

"Didn't get it huh?"

"No, that's just it, I have no idea either way. I haven't heard back from them. It's been almost a month. They could have at least told me 'thanks for the resume, we're sorry but we don't like you.'"

"Gee Daria, for a second there I thought you didn't even want the job."

"I didn't but you'd think that they'd at least consider me for an interview before rejecting me."

"You'd think but then again I've stopped being surprised at the stupidity of the world."

"Too trueso, what were we talking about before I started railing about Dave and Quinn?"

"You know, I've forgotten, let's go get a slice to spark our memories."

There is a school of thought that claims if you could see it, all of time would be an infinite string of branching lines. Each line and branch representing a decision and the course of events that follow. However, to the person living their life often only one of those infinite choices is apparent, and there is no way to tell the truly momentous from the mundane when they occur. Such divisions only become apparent after the fact. Such was the case one night when Dave had taken Quinn to see the band String Cheese Incident at a local club. Quinn was enjoying herself, more or less, though not because of the club or the other attendees. The room was filled with smoke, legal and illicit. Dave had, at one point, mentioned that he wore old clothes to club shows because he always walked out smelling like an ashtray. Quinn had a change of clothes in car for after the show. In addition to the smoke the audience had a particular fragrance all its own, to be blunt they stunk. Unlike the more mainstream Dave Matthews Band, String Cheese Incident attracted a wide range of aging flower children and neo hippies, a good portion of whom did not believe in personal hygiene. Quinn was relived to find Dave almost as disdainful of them as she was.

"God damn," Dave exclaimed when a particularly fragrant individual walked past. "Ok, so you don't have to smell like a rose but taking a shower once a month won't kill you."

Knowing full well that Quinn would not react will in the crowd Dave found the pair an out of the way corner of the room for them to watch the band. Thanks to the particulars of the group's taping policy he had left the majority of his recording equipment at home.

"All I need is my deck and a cable," he told Quinn. "The band supplies the rest. It's the main reason I want to see these guys."

Despite all the detractions Quinn was enjoying herself. For one thing she was on her third drink and was pleasantly buzzed, one of the first things she had gotten from Dave was a high quality id. Beyond the chemical stimulation Quinn enjoyed the music. To her surprise she found that she liked the listen to the intricately flowing jams of bands like Phish or String Cheese Incident. They were nowhere near as good as Brittany Spears or the Backstreet Boys, but in their own way Quinn appreciated them. Also, Quinn was glad Dave was there. She was totally outside her realm and his presence was comforting. At one point during the show they were jostled together; Quinn found it far more comfortable to stay where she was than to move away, so she stayed. Dave looked a little startled, but slowly wrapped an arm around Quinn's shoulder. They stayed that way for the rest of the show.

After the band's last set and encore Dave gathered up his deck and the pair drove to a nearby motel for a quick shower and a chance to change out of their smoky-apparel. Afterwards Dave drove them back to the Morgendorfer residence.

"So, you've been here a month, how do you like Lawndale?" Quinn asked, making small talk.

"Well, it certainly is a low key town." Dave paused, "It's everything my dad was looking for in a town."

Quinn frowned, "How's that?"

"Oh well, like I've said before, my dad and I moved around a lot. Lawndale's our fourth town in four years, and originally the plan was that we were going to move to a quiet place where I could spend my senior year and would be perfect for my dad to retire in. Thanks to that bitch of a principal things have changed slightly, but I guess I can endure two years of Lawndale."

"You're lucky, I've got three more years here."

"In addition to all the years you were here before I showed up."

"One year."

"One year?"

"One year."

"Really, I don't think I knew that."

"Yeah, we like moved here last year."

"From where?"

"This absolute armpit of a town in Texas."

"Texas? My father's from Texas, where about did you live?"

"Highland, and I'm so glad we don't live there anymore."

"Highland, is that anywhere near Arlen?"

"Um, yeah, why?"

"That's where my dad's from originally, Arlen."

"But, you're not, I mean I could tell that much, you don't even have a trace of a Texan accent."

"Neither do you."

"Well, I could if I wanted to," she drawled, "But this isn't Texas so why would anyone think that was cool?"

"Silly me, anyway, I've never lived in Texas so that's why I don't have an accent."

"I guess moving around kind of prevents you from picking one up."

"Oh no, the moving has all been recent, up until four years ago the family lived in Vermont."

"Then why don't you sound like that cute Matt Damon guy in 'Good Will Hunting?'"

"You mean why aren't we listening to Car Talk while I'm complaining about how Nomar and the rest of the Red Sox are doing?" He replied in the unique accent of a Bostonian," "Simple, that was a South Boston-type accent" He trailed off and sighed, "I'm being wonkish again aren't I?"

"What?"

"Wonkish, overly studiousoh never mind, short answer, what you said, it's easier to disguise an accent than having to endure the ridicule of your peers."

"You do like to use big words."

Dave laughed, "Yeah, I suppose so. Must be because I feel like if I had to learn them why not use them."

"No, don't apologize, I kind of like that, my sister talks the same way, but she's always talking down to me. I used to look up every word she called me to try and figure out how to get back at her, but now I don't bother, she can't help the way she is, so I think the best way to handle the situation is to simply rise above her petty comments and jabs."

Dave laughed, "Oh man Quinn, you're the only person I know who can say stuff like that. You're worldview is just so unique. Most people would say that Daria is an incredibly deep person who makes truthful, incisive comments about life, and isn't blinded by the sheen from popular culture."

"And most people don't live with Daria on a daily basis. Every question, simple request, even civil attempts at starting a conversation are met with some snide, smug, sarcastic remark. Like 'Daria, please pass the salt.' 'I would, but given the fact that the entire universe is going to implode, and before that the sun is going to expand and consume the earth, and before that an asteroid will hit that will wipe out all life on earth, and before that mankind is going to destroy itself either by nuclear holocaust or environmental disaster I really don't feel like it.' She goes out of her way to be depressed, miserable and a total grouch to be around. Why should people like her if she doesn't like them?"

"Isn't that the point? Daria knows enough to understand that the most important person to please is yourself."

"Oh come on Dave, everyone wants people to like them, that's just human nature. You can't deny that you don't want people to like you."

"Well some people sure, but it's not like I need the whole world to love me, just a select few."

"Trust me Dave, Daria cares about her self-image and what people think of her, she just doesn't act on it."

Dave looked perplexed, "Uh, I'm confused, just what exactly are you saying?"

Quinn stared at Dave blankly, "How the hell should I know?"

"But you were the one talkingI figured you had some point."

"Well duh, my sister's a hateful shrew who delights in alienating people because she thinks she's better than us simply because she gets better grades, never thinking that some people might have other interests beyond school" Quinn trailed off.

Dave concentrated on driving the car for several minutes before finally rousing himself to speak, "Well all I have to say is consider yourself lucky you have your sister as a rival."

"What does that mean?"

"I guess it can't hurt to tell you the story, and let me preface this by saying I'm not telling you this for any sympathy, just so you know, and maybe gain a little appreciation for your family." He paused and collected himself, "Okay, so you know that my family just consists of my dad and that something cause the two of use to become nomads, well this is that story. About four years ago my family lived in Vermont, my dad was an exec with a tech firm in Boston, my mom was a local district attorney and my sister and I went to an area private school."

"Sister, you've never said you have a sister."

Dave nodded, "Abby, she'd be about your age I guess. Anyway it was the four of us, James, my father, my mother, her name was Laura, me and Abby. And we had a great life, we were comfortable, you know. I'd be lying if I said it was all sweetness and light in the Wylie household, but my parents were still in love, Abby and I got along, most of the time. I really didn't have any complaints...then it happened."

"It?" Quinn asked, thought she knew where this was going.

"It was a winter night, the roads were icy, the guy had too much to drink, the usual story. My mom was picking Abby up from a school function" He stopped and collected himself again, "If the police accounts are to be believed they died on impact, didn't feel anything. The bastard wasn't even scratched, and the real kick in the pants was that it wasn't even that son of a bitch's first case of vehicular homicide. I'm personally against the death penalty, but when you consider the quality of the two lives that asshole wiped out with his fucking carelessnessI would gladly exchange his wasted worthless life for theirs" He paused, "My mother was just an awesome woman, smart, funny, committed to us and her job, there's not a day that goes by when I wish I could ask her advice on something that's troubling me. And my sister, she was smarter than me, she had so much potential. She was either the next Mia Hamm, President, a Nobel Prize winner, or CEO of the richest company in the world, maybe she was going to be all of those." He stopped again to wipe tears from his face. "Sorry, always happen when I think about themafter the accident Dad quit his job and we started drifting. He founded Wyl-E-Co and it went through the roof, so now we're looking for a new home."

"Oh Dave, that's so sad. I had no idea."

"How could you? I don't like to tell people the story. I'm not looking for sympathy or understanding. I'm trying to move on and live my life as best I can without two people whom I loved dearly. Always talking about them won't help that. But just remember this, no matter how much your sister annoys you, or your parents get on your case, they love you, Daria included, and you love them too. So consider yourself lucky Quinn, you've got a complete family unit, a dysfunctional one, but a family nonetheless."

Quinn stared out her window as she thought about what Dave said, "I guess so, but that doesn't mean I'm about to start trying to get along with Daria, she's the one whose being stubborn."

"Sure, fine, whatever, just don't take your family for granted, that's all I'm saying."

"So" Quinn said, groping for a new topic. "Um, would you believe I can't think of anything to say?"

Dave chuckled, "I don't either, you know silence can be golden." Shortly thereafter Dave was navigating the streets of Lawndale. "Almost there now," He commented, Quinn simply nodded. Dave pulled his car into the Morgendorfer driveway and killed the ignition, "Well it was a pleasant evening Quinn, and I know I enjoyed the concert. Look, I know these bands really aren't your kind of music, but I hope you at least aren't totally bored or anything."

Quinn shook her head, "No, I had fun too Dave." The two sat in silence for a moment. "Hey Dave, why don't you come in for something to drink, it was hot in that club and I know I'm parched, besides I'm sure you could use a rest form all that driving."

Dave stifled a yawn, "Yeah, that sounds nice." The two walked into the house.

Quinn led Dave into the kitchen and got a bottle of water from the refrigerator, "Here you go."

"Thanks," Dave opened the bottle and started to drink it on the spot.

Quinn got her own bottle from the refrigerator. "Why don't we drink these out in the living room, it'll be more comfortable and we can watch TV."

Dave nodded and staggered in to the living room where he collapsed on the sofa and grabbed the remote. Quinn followed him out and sat down nearby. Dave randomly flipped through the channels until he stumbled across a special on MTV. "Hey cool, it's one of those video retrospectives." They watched the TV in silence for a while, "You know, I was born too late."

"Hmm?" Quinn asked, sleepily.

Dave waved at the TV which was playing a clip from some alternative band. "That's the music I identify with, the new stuff coming out now," He shuddered. "Sure, I was alive when grunge was big, but I didn't really notice it, I was barely ten for crying out loud. I guess I'm just the last Gen-X'er, or something" He trailed off.

"You know, I can see that. That was like the first thing I thought when I saw you."

"What was that?"

"That you were like some reject from some lame Nirvana cover band."

Dave laughed, "It's funny you should say that, Phish has actually covered Nirvana tunes."

"See, I was right."

"All except for the lame part, and I've never actually tried to join Phish so I can't be a Phish reject"

"You laugh more than most of the brainy/loser types I know."

"And just how many do you know?"

"Um, Daria, her friend Jane andyou know, those are the only two I know."

"Then how can you make such a broad claim about geeks everywhere based on your dealings with two pessimists?"

"Oh, I can."

Dave chuckled, "That's what makes you special Quinn, I don't always agree with them, but you've got your convictions and you stick to them, in your own way." Dave yawned, one of those full-body yawns that threaten to break a person in two. "I really should be going, plus I doubt your parents would be too happy to see me at this hour."

"Don't worry about that, they're gone for the weekend on some sort of retreat."

"That's good," Dave tried to stand up, and failed, "Because right now I'm too tired to move." Dave turned his attention back to the television. As he watched he found it harder and harder to keep his eyes open. Eventually he fell asleep with the sounds of Semisonic playing softy in the background.

"Hey Dave, I just wanted to tell you I did have a great time tonight, and I think you're a great guy and I've had a lot of fun this past month." Quinn looked over at Dave and saw that he was already asleep. She shrugged, leaned back on the couch and drifted off as well.

Several hours later Daria came downstairs in search of a drink. She found the TV still on, casting a flickering light over the entire room. She looked over at the couch and say Dave and Quinn. Over the course of the night Quinn ended up using Dave as a pillow and Dave draped an arm over Quinn; they looked happy in their slumber. Daria looked at the pair and was almost touched.

"I wonder if I should wake them up?" She thought to herself, "Nah, it's not my place." Daria got her drink and went back to bed, after turning off the TV.

The next morning was awakened by the sunlight streaming into the room. He started a little at the unfamiliar surroundings and from the weight of Quinn on him, but settled back when he remembered where he was. He looked at Quinn with a mixture of tenderness and sadness on his face. Moving gently, so as not to wake her, he disengaged himself from Quinn's sleeping form. Then, with even more care he picked her up and carried her to her room. Dave placed her on her bed, and tracked down a message pad. After he found one he wrote Quinn a brief message, which he left by her bed. Taking one last look at Quinn Dave let himself out of her room and made his way to the door.

On his way out he ran into Daria, who was getting up for the day. "Well, look who it is, get a good night's sleep last night?"

Dave blushed, "It's not quite what you think"

"Relax, I saw the two of you downstairs."

"Oh, we were both pretty beat after the concert. Anyway I'll see you at school next week" He paused, "Hey Daria, want to go grab some breakfast? I know a great place to get coffee and a cruller."

"Iguess," Daria replied slowly. "Why?"

"I need to talk to someone about something, and Quinn is the wrong Morgendorfer at the moment."

"Sure, let me get dressed first."

Dave nodded, "I'll be at my car."

Daria sighed and got dressed as quickly as possible. When she walked out of her house she saw Dave leaning against he car, eyes close. "So are we getting coffee or do I get tot watch you meditate all morning?"

Dave's eyes snapped open, "Coffee, definitely coffee." He unlocked the car and started the ignition.

"You aren't one of those psycho, hell-bent for leather drivers are you?" Daria asked as Dave swung the car out of the driveway.

"Not until I have my coffee."

"Okayum, what's this all about then?"

"Not until I have my coffee."

Daria sighed, "Oh, ha-ha coffee addict humor, very funny. Now tell what's up or I'm jumping out of the car."

"That wasn't humor, look, this is something that's going to require me to be at least functional level to allow me to" he paused, searching for the right word, "say what I want, see, I can't even talk right."

"Alright, it can waituh, read any good books lately?"

"I'm trying to fight my way through 'On War' at the moment."

"Planning a military takeover of Lawndale?"

"Nah, I could do that without Clausewitz's help." He shrugged, "I dunno, I'm reading it more to say I have than any burning desire to learn anything."

"I find that Clausewitz looses something in the translation."

"So you know German?"

"Uh, no, that's just what you're supposed to say in these sorts of situations."

"Daria, when have you been a person who does what you're supposed to?"

"Most of the time. You don't know me very well."

"I guess not." Dave drove up to the coffee shop and pulled into a parking spot. "We're here, if I may state the obvious."

The two teens entered the shop. Dave selected a booth in a corner, " I'll go up and place our orders, what do you want?"

"Large coffee, black, nothing fancy."

"Okay, I'll be right back." Dave walked over to the counter. Daria took the opportunity to examine the shop. It was a typical coffeehouse in the Starbucks vein. There was plenty of space for people to talk, study, or sleep. A neon sign in the door proclaimed the shop was open twenty four hours and several of the patrons looked like they were taking full advantage of those hours.

"Ah, the coffee shop, haven to the pseudo-intellectual, caffeine junkie, and overworked student." Daria thought to herself as she took in the scene.

Dave returned carrying two very large mugs of coffee and a plate full of doughnuts balanced on one of the mugs. "One large, black coffee for you madam." Daria took the uncovered cup from Dave.

"Thanks," Daria took a sip of her coffee and made a face. "Yikes, this is strong."

Dave drank from his cup and winced as well, "Yeah isn't it great? Let's you know you're alive, the only way to wake up in the morning."

"I think I'll stick to my alarm clock. Okay, you have your coffee, talk."

Dave took a bite out of a doughnut, "Where to begin, as I'm sure you guessed this has to do with me and Quinn"

"That much I did know, since I've been saying you two were going to train wreck."

"Yeah, yeah that remains to be seen. Basically like I told you before the two of us had an agreement Quinn goes to stuff I like if I bankroll her, and that worked out great for me because that was all I wanted. Going out with Quinn gave me some measure of popularity and really Quinn's demands were chump change." Dave shrugged, I mean it was only money. So we had a great system going."

"Since you're using the past tense I'll assume something went wrong."

Dave sipped his coffee before continuing, "The problem is that I've found myself actually enjoying Quinn's company. It turns out you and your sister are cut from similar cloth after all; it's just that Quinn's using her powers for evil, as it wereand no, I'm not saying that Quinn is some latent intellectual, or an idiot savant, she's just real perceptive, and can get a really good read on a person, sometimes, not to mention she can do spot on mimicry of people." He stopped and examined the remaining coffee in his mug. "See what I mean? I'm even validating her to you."

"And you don't think Quinn feels the same way?" Daria wanted to finish this conversation as quickly as possible and get on with her day. Quinn's love life really didn't interest her.

"I have no idea, and that's not the problem at hand."

"Well what is then?"

"Caitlyn Martin."

"Who?"

"Caitlyn Martin."

"Who's Caitlyn Martin?"

"Caitlyn Martin was the love of my life at my old town. Last I knew she still was, sort of" He stopped and sighed, "Let me try this again. Okay last year I went to a lousy school, but I did meet this great person, Caitlyn. We hung out a lot, went to concerts, that sort of thing. Eventually we pretty much fell in love and saw each other constantly. I mean we were inseparable. Kate is an amazing young woman, smart beautiful, the whole package" his voice took on a dreamy quality, "she has the most amazing silky blonde hair, and these blue eyes you can just loose yourself in"

Daria sighed, "Okay, enough, I get the idea, can you please get on with it before I vomit."

"Oh, sorry, well the year came and went and my dad said we had to move again, for tax reasons mostly, also because the town was a hole, and Kate and I never really broke off our thing, so I guess we're still and itemtechnically, sort of"

"What does that mean?"

"In all honestly I haven't heard from her since May, when I left. The two of us didn't part of the best of terms, but we didn't really break up."

"So you're unsure about what your growing feelings for Quinn mean in contrast to this other, older relationship."

Dave nodded, "Something like that, yes."

"I'm not really an expert of this matter, but it seems to me that if you haven't been in contact with this girl for four months then maybe you should stop holding a torch for her."

"I suppose, but Christ, give up Caitlyn for Quinn? That isn't a fair deal."

"And here I thought Quinn had hidden depths."

"She does, but Caitlyn was somebody special, we had one of those unique bond type things."

"Pardon me for asking, but what's the problem? If Caitlyn is so wondrous drop Quinn like a bad habit and rekindle the old flame."

Dave once again stared into his cup, "I'm not sure I want to do that either." He said softly.

Silence hung over the booth for a long while, finally Daria spoke. "I'll admit I haven't exactly been your most ardent supporter since you moved to Lawndale; mainly because I didn't know you, and after this little chat I can't say my opinion of you has improved. I think your choice is obvious, pick somebody. If you don't and just keep sitting on the proverbial fence then you're going to end up in serious trouble. Beyond that I think the boat has sailed with this other girl, so as much as it pains me to say it, I think you're stuck with Quinn, may god have mercy on your soul."

Dave sighed, "Yeah, I suppose, thought it really is hard to give up on Caitlyn just like that, maybe I should get in touch with her and see where things stand before"

"Absolutely not." Daria said forcefully. "Quinn would never stand for it, with her she's never second best and if you even remotely suggest that she'd send you packing in a heartbeat. I know my sister well enough to guarantee you that."

Dave grimaced, "That does sound like Quinn." He drained his cup, "You set to go?"

Daria shrugged, "I suppose, what are you going to do?"

"Well, I'm going to take you home and then see if Quinn's up."

"Have you reached a decision?"

Dave smiled sadly, "Nope, but I did leave her a note saying I'd be back to say goodbye, I mean what kind of an ass whole I be if I didn't?"

Daria smirked, "In any other situation I'd say you were an ok guy Dave."

Dave smiled, "And now?"

"Alright you're still an acceptable person, even if you're two-timing my sister," She paused. "Come to think of it, that's your most redeeming quality."

Dave sighed as he held open the door for Daria, "Your sister isn't that bad Daria."

Daria shrugged, "I know, but she doesn't make it easy to live with her."

Dave laughed, "She says the same thing about you."

Daria smirked, "I guess we are more alike than I thought." Dave laughed and unlocked the car.

To Be Continued.