A/N: Wow. I think this is the most personal story I've ever written. It's not quite over yet, either.

The movie is 2001's 'Ghost World,' starring Thora Birch and Scarlett Johansen, which I don't own. The 'I'll try to try' quote is from Bart on The Simpsons; same deal there.

Part IV: Don't Ask Me How This Stuff Works

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It was another morning in Lawndale-and for the first time, it was a good one for Duane Mason.

He didn't think his mother looked strange when she knocked on the door to check if he was awake. He didn't stare at his father over the cereal and wonder if he was really his dad.

He DID walk into Lawndale High and wonder if it was a bad dream. But, so did most of the students here.

"Mornin' Jodie," he waved to the Student Council President. "Sick of your life yet?"

"Only about ten years ago," she smirked. "Hi, Duane."

"Kevin! How ya doin'? Are your new pads in the mail yet?" he called to the quarterback.

"Um...no?"

"Well, it smells that way from here. Ha ha!" Duane continued down the hall to where Jane Lane was staring with surprise and mild amusement.

"The Lonely Ranger, talking to us? To what do we owe the honor?"

He winked. "With girls like you around? The honor is mine. See you, Jane." She made a sound that could have been a chuckle as he passed on. Being distracted by his excellent mood, Duane failed to realize that wherever Jane was, there must also be...

Daria. There she was blocking his path, her face as glum and suspicious as ever.

He forced the smile to remain on his face. "Um...morning, Daria. How's-"

"Duane," she said warily. "By any chance, was my sister's body taken over by a pod person last night?"

"Yup," he grinned without missing a beat. "Soon we'll take over the whole city. Resistance is futile."

She stared him down for what felt like an eternity, then gave an almost imperceptible nod. "That's what I was afraid of. Um...I will deny this under questioning, but you may tell this pod person I said she's not such a bad kid. See you."

She didn't change expression, but her steps seemed lighter as she walked away.

Duane didn't expect to learn much here today, and as usual the morning classes met his low expectations. But he walked into History with a spring in his step.

"Why, Mistah MASON. Does my good EYE deceive me, or are you actually looking forward to LEARNING SOMETHING in my class?" Mr. DeMartino vibrated.

"That depends. Are you ready for all your questions to be answered correctly for a change?" he replied. "Just one suggestion: don't call on Kevin."

An uppity, oddly accented voice spoke up behind him. "Gee, STACY. Is your inappropriate enthusiasm now rubbing off on innocent students?"

Stacy just laughed. "Oh, no way, Sandi! It must be your good mood!"

"Oh. Um...thank you."

Things were going to be a little better now, Duane thought. He could swear to it. His one reason for staying here had begotten many. Instead of looking back he had something to look forward to, now and every day-and he hoped that Quinn would, too.

He sat down at his desk and waited for the door to open.

THE END

I don't do this stuff just for kicks. Yeah, it IS fun, and a few of my stories are pure comedy. But with most of them, I'm throwing a little piece of myself out there, and hoping someone cares. Walt Whitman once wrote this poem called 'A Noiseless Patient Spider,' where this spider was just endlessly spinning threads and casting them out into space, waiting for one of them to catch somewhere. He compared the spider to his own soul; feeling alone, trying all his life to connect with somebody. Something. And that's exactly how I feel. Every one of my stories is a thread, a part of me. I try to touch people with my writing because I'm afraid to do it in person. I'm 27 years old, but I still have a lot of uncertainty about myself because I'm afraid to find out what the real answers are. At the end of the day, there are few things about me that I'm sure of. But I like 'Daria', and I love Quinn Morgendorffer.