Open Windows 2: Folk and Foolishness.

 

As a side effect of her previous actions, Daria finds herself attending the latest Sloane family social event, in this case an English Caleigh, if that wasn’t enough she also is having trouble dealing with Jane’s new relationship status.

 

Note: A Caleigh also known as a Ceilidh is the English equivalent of a ‘barn dance’ or other similar events only using English folk music and such.

 

Legal stuff: Daria is Copyright of Viacom/MTV/whoever, as are all Daria cast, original characters and such not as much, you know the rest by now.

…………

 

“Daria? …Daria?  DARIA, PHONE!”

 

“Wuh?”  Daria awoke from her slumber by the unmistakeable sound of her sister at the door.  As she fumbled around for her glasses she saw the clock stating it to be 9am,

 

“How can anyone be so awake at this time on a Saturday?  Oughta be a law.”  Daria muttered as she crossed her room, as she opened the door she saw her sister stood outside, arms crossed and looking vexed.

 

“God Daria how can anyone sleep so late on a Saturday?  There oughta be a law.”  Quinn shook her head and began to head back to her room, “anyway, I can’t believe I’m saying this but your Boyfriend is on the phone.”  She then added with an amused edge, “You may want to get there quick, I doubt he can handle Mom grilling him for much longer….”

 

As Quinn watched Daria move downstairs at an above average pace she grinned, “Welcome to my world sis.”

 

…………

 

“…Anyway Tom I just wanted to be sure you and Daria wouldn’t…”

 

“Mom put your hands in the air and step away from the phone.”  Daria muttered as she approached her mother and held out her hand for the phone.

 

“Ah Daria…” Helen said, “What Tom?  Yes that was her…yes I suppose I can hand you over to her…” Helen uneasily handed the phone to her daughter.

 

“Hey Tom what did…excuse me for a second,” Daria looked away from the phone, “Do you mind?”

 

“Oh.”  Helen looked around before exiting sheepishly.

 

“Ok she’s gone, you can speak freely, so what should I thank you for waking me up for today?”

 

“Well,” Tom replied after finally recovering from Helen’s interrogation, “Actually Daria I phoned to remind you that my parent’s next social function is still tomorrow evening.”

 

“Ugh thanks for reminding me, I’d almost gotten to think that all of the last week was a happy nightmare,”

 

“No such luck, you still sure you want to go?  I mean I’ll understand if you change your mind.”

 

“Thanks but the way things have been going lately something tells me it would be safer to just go for it, if I backed out now it would just leave me open for something worse.  My Mom’s been subtly dropping hints about some camp reunion or whatever.”

 

“Ah the lesser of two evils I see.”  Tom replied, “least I know you’re not going soft on me here.”

 

“Hey if anything it will give me a break from Jane and Clovis…I swear ever since those two got together they’ve been inseparable…not to mention insufferable.”

 

“Well you should have a break for at least some of today, me and him are meeting another friend, if you want I can try and drop some hints to him.”

 

“Would that make a difference?”

 

“No, but at least it makes me look good, although I can try and see if I can make sure he doesn’t say anything that will make you faint again.”

 

“Ah,” Daria said as she put her face in a hand, “You heard about that huh?”

 

“How could I not?  Although he is unsure as to why it happened.”

 

“Tom what do you expect?  I went over there only to find out my best friend is in a …physical relationship” She strained to actually say the last part, “With a man who has endless charisma and stamina but no common sense, not to mention a body Bruce Lee would envy…and God help us all if they where to breed.”

 

As Daria continued her conversation she was unaware that her younger sister had come downstairs, only to stand still, mouth hanging over in shock at the piece of gossip her sister had unwittingly dropped, now she had only 2 words in her mind.

 

“Cell-phone.”

 

…………

 

“So she’s still coming to the thing then?”

 

“Yup, I decided not to mention your parents are the ones involved in setting the whole thing up, given recent events I figured it was for the best, hope you don’t mind Clovis?”

 

“Nah course not mate, why spoil the surprise.”  Clovis tiled his head to one side and looked thoughtful, “Although I do hope she’s recovered from her fainting spell by tomorrow.”

 

“Clovis…oh forget it, yeah I’m sure she’ll be fine.”

 

“Good, good.  Although you’ve neglected to mention the actual organisers and benefactors of this little happening for whatever reasons, I trust you have had the sense to actually explain what the event shall actually be?”

 

“You just want to see if I can say the name of the damn thing don’t you?”  Tom said with a smirk, “Yes I told her it was an ‘English Caleigh’ …and then assured her I wasn’t clearing my throat.  She was a little reluctant about the thought of dancing but I told her she wasn’t required to actually do anything.”

 

Clovis turned around and looked at Tom with a questioning expression (yet still managing to walk backwards at the same speed) “Be honest, you just don’t want to look a prat yourself on the dance floor, yes?”

 

“Oh look we’re here!”  Tom said as he looked at the house several feet away.

 

“Coward.”  Clovis replied with a smirk as he approached the door and raised his hand to knock, only for Tom to stop him.

 

“Perhaps its best if I knock?  Remember the last thing Wasabi did before he was subdued was open fire at you…speaking of which how the hell did you dodge that?”

 

“Good point, and that’s easy, Wasabi’s left eye always looks in the direction he’s about to shoot a good half a second before he pulls the trigger.”

 

“Really?”

 

“No but it’s a lot more impressive than dumb luck,” Clovis replied as he shrugged, “I do have a reputation to uphold you know.”

 

“One that for some reason you think you should keep…” Tom replied but was stopped from continuing as the door opened.

 

The two stopped talking and looked at the wiry, grey clad, young man of Asian descent who now stood in the doorway with what looked like a cigarette in his mouth.  However what held the focus of Tom and Clovis was the mess of bright green hair that was upon his head like an explosion in an astro-turf factory.

 

“…Are you two gonna come in or are you just gonna keep staring at me on my driveway?”

 

…………

 

“I’m telling you Stacy that’s what I heard…I know what is the world coming to when the unpopular people are dating guys like that? …I dunno maybe there’s something in the water at Fielding?”

 

Quinn looked up from her phone as Daria walked in, “Gotta go Stacy, fashion emergency…yeah she just walked in, talk to you later.”

 

Daria quizzically raised an eyebrow at her sister before turning to look at her mother who now held her phone to her ear.

 

“No Eric I don’t think we can help him sue this person, the client did specify hands and didn’t mention anything about the use of feet…”

 

“How long has she…” Daria gestured to her mother with a slightly worried expression,

 

“Since before I came in,” Quinn said as she rolled her eyes, “I was here first, so wait your turn.”

 

“You want her credit cards again?”

 

“What’s it to you?”  Quinn replied, a smirk on her face, “You want to borrow them yourself?  Heck if you can get her off the phone you’re welcome to it.”

 

Daria stood silent for several seconds before her face showed faint traces of an evil grin, “Your on, let me borrow your phone…relax I wont break it and you can clean it off afterwards.”

 

Quinn slowly handed the phone to Daria, watching her sister with curiosity as she quickly dialled a number.

 

“One second Eric I have a call on the other line.”  Helen said as she pressed the button, “Hello?”

 

“Hi Mom could you turn to your right?”

 

Helen looked at the phone confused before following the request and looking to her right, to find Daria stood there with Quinn’s cell phone.

 

“Can I speak to you for a second?”

 

“Alright Sweetie but can you make it quick?”

 

“I just need to borrow a credit card to go clothes shopping…are you ok?”

 

Helen sat looking at Daria in confusion before looking at Quinn sat nearby and then back, “I’m sorry I thought I was …never mind, do you mind if I ask what you need them for?”

 

“To wear, what else?”  Daria said blankly.  “Look I’m going out to something with Tom tomorrow…relax he got the tickets for free, and although he said its casual wear I’d rather have something other than my usual outfit to wear to it…”

 

“Daria that’s very…”

 

“So that way, if his mother throws her drink at me and calls me dirt I’ll not have to worry about what to wear to school the next day.”

 

“Very like you.”  Helen said with a sigh, “I suppose it’s a start, here, just keep the amount under 3 digits.”  She added as she gave a sharp look at Quinn.

 

“Thank You.”  Daria said as she took the cards from her mother who returned to the phone conversation almost immediately.

 

“Learn from the best sis.”  Daria said as she pocketed the credit card and left the kitchen, leaving a stunned sister behind, Quinn sat silent for several seconds before taking her phone and dialling again.

 

“Stacy…I’m Scared.”

 

…………

 

“So… how was your summer?”  Tom asked with a hint of trepidation,

 

“Eh not too bad I guess, the doctors where very friendly…if somewhat scared of me.”  Wasabi replied, as he lit another cigarette, “I suppose given the state I was admitted I can understand that.”

 

“Yeah speaking of,” Clovis said as he looked around the room, “Did they ever figure out what exactly made your brain go kaput?”

 

“Yeah.”  Wasabi replied as he looked dead straight at Clovis, “They think I have some form of hyper vigilance or whatever.”

 

“Huh, wonder what brought that on?”

 

“Oh I couldn’t even begin to guess.”  Wasabi replied sarcastically.

 

“By the way Wasabi, since when did you smoke?”  Tom asked, hoping to avoid the conversation taking the direction he was afraid…mainly as he couldn’t help but look at the gun that was idly discarded on the coffee table.

 

“Oh these?”  Wasabi replied as he held up the small white stick in his hand, “these are just placebos, the good doctors came up with the idea of getting me to smoke them while hiding my meds in them.”  He gave a shrug, “In the end they lowered the amount till they where empty but I wound up hooked to them, transference or whatever, means I don’t need to shoot things…much.”

 

“How…reassuring.”  Tom said, trying not to look at the open window too often.

 

“So what about you Clovis?  Get up to much in Hong Kong?  I trust you didn’t start any blood feuds or such?”

 

“Its funny you should mention that…” Clovis replied, before proceeding to regale his companions with the tales of his adventures & misadventures in Hong Kong.

 

“Wait a sec…” Wasabi said while coughing on his smoke, “Did you just say you did what I think you did, not to mention with-and-or to whom I think you said you did?”

 

“Wuh?”  Was the response of Clovis.

 

Rolling his eyes Tom answered for his friend, “As hard to believe it Wasabi, yeah you’re thinking the right thoughts, seems Clovis had an …encounter with Jia Li Lan, his masters daughter.

 

“WHAT!  Clovis she was 18 when you first joined that school!”  Wasabi yelled, his smoke dropping from his lips.

 

“So she’s a year or two older than me.”  Clovis replied with a shrug.

 

“CLOVIS YOU WHERE 13 WHEN YOU JOINED!”

 

“Oh yeah…can’t see why her father was so angry, I mean it can’t have been the first time for her in that case.”  Clovis paused and looked thoughtful; “In retrospect it might have been telling him that which made him so angry.”

 

Wasabi put his head in his hands and was heard to mutter, “I spend my Summer committed while he…proof indeed that something is out to ruin my life.” Wasabi then looked to Tom.

 

“And what about you?  I suppose your summer was a magical adventure of happiness and rainbows or something?”

 

Tom looked at his two friends, before responding,

 

“Actually…”

 

…………

 

On the other side of the world, roughly 12 hours ahead of the three young men discussing their summers, in an airport in Hong Kong, the young woman stood at the desk for Sky-Taxi budget airlines cursed her luck being given the red-eye shift.

 

As she contemplated getting another cup of coffee she saw a man who looked in to be in his early 20’s enter the near deserted foyer and approach the desk.

 

“Can I help you…sir?”  The woman asked hesitantly, the man looked like a local and was dressed like the sort of heavy metal fan only found in 80’s music videos, the Mohawk and the fact his eye seemed to twitch every few seconds didn’t help.

 

“Yesss” the man replied, as he looked around, “Could you tell me the next flight out to America, more specifically the Maryland area?”

 

The woman quickly started typing at her computer, “the quickest way there would be to fly to Baltimore and change to Middlebury airport, then it shouldn’t be too hard to commute to wherever you need.  The flight leaves in a few hours.”

 

“Perfect.”  The young man replied before dropping a handful of bills onto the counter, “I’ll take a one way ticket, whatever class I can afford.”

 

“Oookay.”  The woman sorted through the money and handed him his change back, “Would you like to check in your baggage now?”

 

“I suppose.”  The man replied with a shrug and held up a large Double-bass case, “just this, I like to travel light.”

 

“You don’t look much like a classical musician.”  The woman replied as she looked at the case,

 

“I have my own style of playing.”  He replied as he placed it onto the weigh-in station, where the machine registered the case as weighing barely under the maximum amount.

 

“Heavy Metal.”  He said dryly.

 

“Uh-Huh…” The woman decided that the less she knew the better, “Well I’ll just need to your passport and you can be off Mr…”

 

“Call me Din Yin…it means Rodent, ‘Crazy Rodent.’  Goodbye.” The man said as he took the ticket and walked off swiftly.

 

“…Enjoy your trip?”  The woman said, determined to never have to deal with the red-eye shift again.

 

…………

 

Daria paused from her browsing of the clothing available on the racks of the store, letting out an exasperated sigh she spoke out loud,

 

“You’re lousy at stealth Quinn, you may as well come out.”

 

“Oooh.”  Quinn fumed as she stood up from behind the rack of sweaters she had chosen to hide behind, “How did you know?”

 

“Well I had my suspicions which I had confirmed when I saw you trying to follow me into that comic book store…just couldn’t bring yourself to cross the threshold into enemy territory huh?”

 

“So what, you only went in to find out if I was following you or not?”

 

“Uh…yeah that’s right.”  Daria replied swiftly.

 

“Then what’s in the bag?”

 

“You say nothing and I’ll say nothing about you drinking that non-diet soda in the food court.”  Daria replied while she tried to hide the bag.

 

“Dammit you have a deal…but I swear I only had it because they had no diet and I needed to get the taste of the smell of geek out of my mouth…” Quinn hurriedly replied before trailing off, obviously unsure of what she had actually just said.

 

“Whatever,” Daria replied before returning to her browsing, “So what’s with the stalker act?  Couldn’t bear to see the credit cards fall into someone else’s hands?”

 

“Well that and I had to make sure you used this newfound power responsibly” Quinn replied with a shrug, “I mean here you are, Mom’s credit cards at your disposal, and yet you choose a DISCOUNT clothing store for crying out loud!”

 

“Quinn if you wish to follow me, then the price you pay is that you may venture into some strange and terrifying new lands.”  Daria replied dryly, “Now make yourself useful and hand me that green blouse.”

 

…………

 

“Hey Clove, sorry I’m late.”  Jane said as she dropped into a seat at pizza king.

 

“Ah not a problem Janey, only been here for a bit myself, got a bit waylaid.”  Clovis shrugged, “Who would have thought that some people are actually a lot more fun after they’ve been committed?”

 

“…I’ll take your word for it.”  Jane replied with a grin, “by the way, did you notice several people looking at you as you came in?”

 

“No more than usual I suppose, although I guess the manner of the looks in question where performed with a different purpose than the usual eyeballing.”

 

“Uh-Huh,” Jane said before her eyes caught a glance of the people entering through the door, “Oh crap, I just recognised the look I was getting from a bunch of girls.  It’s the same as the look guys give to HIM when he enters with HER.”  She nodded towards the couple entering.

 

“What the Silicone-Sally and the …gentleman in the padding?”

 

“Yup Kevin and Brittany that’s the ones.  Someone must have been spreading gossip about us and…oh great they’ve spotted us.”

 

…………

 

“Wow Kevvie look!”  Brittany exclaimed, “Angie was telling the truth, Jane does have a new boyfriend!”

 

“So what babe?” Kevin replied, not really understand what the conversation had to do with him.

 

“But Kevvie…look at him, from what I hear he has a body like Bruce Lee!”

 

“Yeah, but I bet he ain’t a QB…like Me.”

 

“Yeah, and I bet for him It ain’t padding.”  Brittany muttered under her breath.

 

…………

 

“Clovis I have to go to school with these people, please try not to do any permanent damage to them.”  Jane whispered as she saw the two approach.

 

“Hey dude.”  Kevin said, trying to sound friendly while at the same time giving off an aura not unlike a gorilla that senses a rival.  “You must be Jane’s new boyfriend then, huh?”

 

“Greeting I…” Clovis began to introduce himself but was cut off from Kevin interrupting, “I’m Kevin, everyone calls me the QB because…well…because I’m the QB.”

 

“Good for you old chap.”  Clovis said in a dry, deadpan voice,

 

“Oh my God your British!”  Brittany squealed in surprise, “Oh Hello, I’m Brittany,” The cheerleader said in a flirtatious voice as she leaned over the table, “now how did a hunk like you meet up Jane here?”

 

“Oh it’s a long story.”  Clovis said, raising an eyebrow at the surprisingly forward manner of the (quite forward anyway) cheerleader, “pardon me Miss, but would you mind heaving your bosom to somewhere else?”

 

“Hey!”  Kevin said, raising his voice, “That’s my girlfriend you’re talking to.”

 

“I don’t wish to cause offence, I was merely stating that this lady’s …attributes, despite the fact that I’m sure they are very nice, are not amongst the toppings I requested for this pizza.”  Clovis replied matter-of-factly, while Jane had her face in her hands to hide the laughter.

 

“OH THAT’S IT…” Kevin Shouted as he raised his fist to strike Clovis…only to stop when he learned that in the time it took for him to raise his arm, Clovis was already in front of him, a fist mere millimetres away from his forehead.

 

“Hh-Hm.”  Clovis laughed as Kevin froze with fear; Clovis lowered his fist and patted Kevin on the shoulder with a grin.  “If I was you I wouldn’t try that again.”  He added before sitting back down next to Jane.

 

“Wow I’m impressed you actually stopped that punch,” Jane said as she slid an arm around Clovis’s shoulder, “Although I guess a good scare is all…” she stopped as Kevin finally unfroze, lunged at Clovis, and promptly passed out unconscious on the floor.

 

“KEVVIE!”

 

Clovis simply leaned back in his seat and grinned, “Ah good ol’ ‘Wu Bao-Fei’s Nerve Punch’ oh sure it may not be the strongest of the ‘Sevenfold Starshine’ Techniques but its bloody well one of my favourites.”

 

…………

 

“Two!  You had our mothers credit cards at your disposal and you only bought two items of clothing!”  Quinn shook her head in frustration, “Next you’ll be telling me you paid for everything else with your own money…” she stopped when she realised what she had said.

 

Daria stopped at the door and turned to look at her sister, “Quinn two things.  First of all it’s no fun if you just tell me that sort of blackmail material.  Secondly, I don’t believe in buying more than I need so can you just let it go?”

 

“It’s the principal of the thing, I mean all you bought was a blouse and a long skirt, I’m sure you could have afforded that yourself anyway.”

 

“True but why waste my own money on something I’m probably only going to wear once or twice?”  Daria replied before continuing, “Besides the skirt was an object of necessity.”

 

“OK now you’ve lost me, how is a skirt a necessity?  You ALWAYS wear a skirt,”

 

“Yes but the skirts I normally wear are somewhat shorter than the one I’ve bought.”

 

“I know, even in the winter and everything, sometimes I wonder if you even have any feeling in your legs.  So what makes a long skirt such a necessity?”

 

“Ever tried dancing in one of these?”  Daria replied as she held out the side of the skirt, “Somehow I doubt it would endear me to the Sloane’s if I was to wind up performing what the members of the ‘Lawndale High Cheerleaders’ refer to as a ‘Oakwood Friendly Greeting’ if you can understand that?”

 

“I see your point.”  Quinn replied about to ask how her sister knew about the obscure terms used by the cheerleaders before something else came to her attention, “Wait a minute…you intend to dance?”

 

“I’ve said too much.”  Daria said hurriedly before entering the house.

 

…………

 

Back at the Pizza King, Mack & Jodie entered to find an unusual sight.

 

“Hi Brittney…Err, Why is Kevin passed out on the floor?”  Jodie enquired as she saw her friend sat at the table with a faraway look in her eye while her boyfriend lay unconscious at her feet.

 

“Huh?”

 

“You two get into a fight or something?”

 

“No just Kevvie…if you could call it a fight, he got mad at Jane’s new boyfriend and…well see for yourself,” Brittney gestured at her unconscious beau, “The whole thing lasted less than 5 seconds…it was magnificent!”

 

“Should I worry that I can’t seem to find myself surprised at this?”  Mack asked while he prodded Kevin’s passed out form with his foot.

 

“I don’t know, I’ve been hearing rumours about this boyfriend,” Jodie replied, “And given that look on Brittney’s face I don’t think this is the last time Kevin is going to wind up like that.”

 

“Amazing, I’ve never met the guy but I like him already.”

 

…………

 

“Quinn just drop it,”

 

“C’mon Daria admit it, this entire thing with going to this dance is just you trying to live out some strange ‘Jane Austen’ fantasy isn’t it?”

 

“I’m warning you….” Daria said, her eyes narrowing “I can make life very difficult for you.”

 

“As opposed to what you do now?”  Quinn replied before grabbing the phone just as it started to ring, “Hello? …Oh, just a second,” she held the phone out to Daria, “Its for you, Mr Darcy wants to speak to you.”  She added with a smirk.

 

“You’ll rue the day,” Daria muttered at her sister before taking the phone, “Hi.”

 

“Hey, how are things?”

 

“Oh the usual.”

 

“That bad huh?”

 

“Just the younger sister being her usual self, anyhow to what do I owe the pleasure of this call?”

 

“Just checking if you’re still on for tomorrow or if you’ve had a sudden change of the mind I should know about so I can cancel the limo.“

 

“It seems I’ve yet to come to my senses so yes I’ll still be going tomorrow.”  Daria replied while glaring at Quinn who was making mock swooning actions besides her.

 

Well ok, but I want it in writing that I gave you every opportunity to back out of this thing so I cannot be held accountable for anything that happens, ok?”

 

“Sure whatever you want.  Just please come and pick me up as soon as you can tomorrow” Daria replied, trying to ignore Quinn’s overly theatrical sighs of ‘Oh Mr Darcy’

 

“Please?”  She added, almost pleadingly while cursing the day her sister’s brain finally woke up.

 

…………

 

Later that night Jane Lane was idly surfing the channels of the TV in her room, wondering if it was possible to actually physically die from boredom.

 

After the earlier excitement at the pizza place she had decided she needed some downtime, however after several hours of sleep she awoke and realised not only was she wide-awake but that also she was bored out of her skull.

 

She decided it was too late to phone Daria since she had made arrangements to see her the next day anyways before sleep set in, although she did consider calling Clove a call, even if just to see what would happen.

 

As she dialled his cell-phone number she began to hear a distinct tune that she instantly recognised as Clovis’s ring-tone, she cursed the forgetful psycho-toy for leaving his phone over AGAIN.

 

At that point she turned round to find Clovis sat on the ledge of the open window, a package under one arm and his phone held to his ear with his usual grin.

 

“You rang?”

 

Jane stared at him in silence for a few moments before speaking, “H-how did you get here so fast?”

 

“Well truth be told I has already halfway up the drainpipe by the time it started ringing,” He replied as he hopped off of the ledge into the room, as he stretched his arms out he continued speaking, “had been doing a little intensive training for a few hours and then found out a certain package had arrived for me.”

 

He held out the aforementioned box out to Jane who saw it was already opened, “Go right ahead and have a little look-see.”

 

Jane raised an eyebrow as she put her hand into the box, hoping it wasn’t some sort of fancy bladed weapon inside.  She was slightly disappointed to find it contained half a dozen VHS tapes, she was a might perturbed by the title written on it marker pen:

 

“Dagger Lane…” she began to speak nervously, “Clove…did you stab one of my relatives and videotape it?”

 

Clovis lowered his shades to show his expression of bemusement, “I do so hate to disappoint you Janey my dear but I am afraid at the moment I have yet to do such a thing.” He held up one of the tapes, “Hh-Hm, what I hold here is the complete run of ‘Jian Xiang’ roughly translated as ‘Dagger Lane’ which happens to be one of the greatest TV shows ever produced.”

 

“Oh.”  Jane replied somewhat baffled, “Now Clove…when you say ‘the greatest’ do you mean it in the same way you defined that movie you gave to Daria that time?  You know, the one with the one armed guy and the blind dude with a killer lampshade?”

 

“Naturally.”  Clovis replied as if there couldn’t be any other answer.

 

“I’ll get the popcorn.”

 

…………

 

Later on, after the credits had rolled Jane lay on her bed, a bowl of popcorn resting in her lap and a look of perplexed awe on her face.

 

“Wow…just wow…do you actually understand the plot of this series so far?”

 

“Yup” Clovis replied as he took a deep breath, “here we go:  the drunken blind beggar stealing wine is really a woman in disguise searching for her lost love.  The fat guy is planning to blow up the train tracks while a train full of millionaires passes, also the new sheriff is a former notorious killer who has gone straight and is investigating a local nobleman’s son for trying to ravish his fiancé, meanwhile another famous killer has moved into the local inn while a mysterious masked outlaw named Iron Fox has been robbing the houses of corrupt officials.  The bit with the adventurer who stopped the giant clockwork horse is actually a work of fiction being written by a scholar who has based characters in his work off of his associates, the monkey kung fu master has been tricked into thinking he slept with neighbours wife while drunk and been crippled for it, the businessman’s son is trying to get out of an arranged marriage with the daughter of his Fathers Japanese business partner, the white-haired general is secretly plotting with the Russians, the thugs attacked the fishing guy because they think he has the lost ‘Scrolls of the Masters’ which disappeared along with the 8 grand masters, and as for the Ninja, well he and his wife seem to be coming to China for a mysterious purpose.  That about sums it all up so far.”

 

“Oh, of course its so simple.”

 

“So you want to watch the second episode?”

 

…………

 

Two episodes, 7 secret agendas, 4 deceptions, 1 case of cross-dressing, and 2 monkeys later both Jane and Clovis had fallen asleep.

 

Deciding that she couldn’t handle anymore before her head exploded, Jane had insisted on doing something else, which led to numerous activities including: channel surfing, painting, and at one point arguing over who would win between Jackie Chan and Vincent Van Gogh.

 

Eventually the two of them succumbed to the call of the Sandman and wound up asleep, which is exactly how they where when Trent found them.

 

Having arrived home late/early at/in the night/morning from Jesse’s where the group had spent many fruitless hours arguing over whether or not they could find a rhyme for Orange, meaning Trent was not in the best of moods.

 

Seeing a half-naked guy asleep in his sister’s bed made him decide to take out some of his frustration by scaring the crap out of Jane’s new boyfriend.  However when he grabbed the guy’s shoulder to wake him he was more than a little surprised when the man sat bolt upright and grabbed Trent’s arm and neck, all without actually waking up!

 

“Bad Move Vincey!”  Clovis was heard to murmur in his sleep.

 

He may have said more but Trent was unsure of this on account of his sudden departure out of the open window.

 

Never had he been more eternally gratefully towards his father for never getting round to disposing of that old mattress that needed throwing out.

 

…………

 

Tom Sloane found himself rudely awakened by a tennis ball rebounding off of his forehead, as he jolted upright with a start he saw his sister stood in his doorway, the fact she was in her tennis clothes indicated she was the likely culprit for waking him up.

 

“You know sis, most people just knock.”  He muttered while rubbing his head.

 

“Yeah but who wants to be just like everyone else?”  She replied with a smirk while swinging her racket in one hand.

 

Tom rolled his eyes, Elsie had an annoying habit of bouncing tennis balls off of people after tennis practice, he figured he could scold her for it but since it was one of the few times she wasn’t acting completely jaded or cynical he decided against it

 

He was just glad to see her smiling for a change…even if it was only due to the fact she was irritating him.  But then that was what younger siblings where for,

 

“So how do you think the game will go?”  He asked as he threw the ball back to his sister, who caught it before responding,

 

“Eh I’m sure I will be fine, given that I’m gonna kick their asses.”

 

“Attagirl.  So you found a way out of tonight’s ‘event’ yet or do you need a suitable excuse?”

 

Elsie stopped and looked at Tom, a grin on her face before she spoke, “You just don’t want me to see you make a fool of yourself in front of Darla right?”

 

“It’s Daria and yeah pretty much.”

 

“Usual price applies.”  She replied, holding out a hand.

 

Tom sighed and reached over the side of the bed, grabbing his school bag that was resting on the floor, he opened it up and removed the book he had bought the previous day.

 

“Its ‘Paradise in Prague’ Volume 3, take it or leave it.”

 

Elsie’s eyes lit up as she snatched the bodice-ripper from her brother’s hand, “Done and Done!”

 

“Elsie you are a strange and peculiar young woman.”

 

“True.  I’ll arrange to eat somewhere ‘common’ and then complain of illness, that’ll get Mom and Dad to leave me with the house to myself while you avoid the humiliation of me witnessing you making a fool of yourself, everyone wins.”

 

…………

 

Daria was the first to arrive at the pizza place, meaning she chose a booth near to the entrance so Jane could spot her with ease, after 5 minutes or so she brightened up when she saw Jane enter, although this was short-lived when she saw that Clovis was with her.

 

“Hey Daria.”

 

“Hello.  What’s HE doing here?”

 

“Oh I found him asleep on my floor for some reason, I didn’t want to leave him there since Trent was acting kinda nervous around him, hope you don’t mind?”

 

“Oh not at all, by all means sit down.  Although I’m a little worried you’ve begun picking up strays in your own room now.”

 

Clovis seemed un-phased by Daria’s comment and sat down with his usual grin, although Jane remained standing, a hard-to-judge expression on her face before she spoke.

 

“Hey I gotta use the bathroom you two order whatever and I’ll be back in a bit.”

 

As Jane walked away Daria looked across the table at Clovis with a blank face, deciding that not showing any emotion should have the desired effect of unsettling him, instead of showing any such signs he merely leaned forward, resting his chin on his fist and smiled at Daria.

 

“So tell me,” Clovis spoke in a friendly tone, “Are you always such a bitch or am I getting special treatment?”

 

“W-what did you just say?”  Daria stuttered, obviously thrown by Clovis’s question.

 

“It’s a perfectly reasonable question.”  Clovis replied, his expression not changing from the friendly smile, “do you act like a bitch in front of Jane anytime she brings a guy round or is it just me?”

 

“Excuse me?”  Daria replied, trying to keep her emotions in check, “How dare you say something like that…”

 

“So it’s ok for you to openly insult me?” Clovis responded, his tone still staying friendly, much to Daria’s growing annoyance.  “Insulting me in front of my girlfriend, who also happens to be your best friend I might add, but oh the Lord forbid I should ever respond to such a thing.”  Clovis sighed and shook his head, “The sad part of this sorry scene Daria my dear, is that really the one who is hurt the most out of all this is Jane…”

 

“Oh that’s it.”  Daria threw up her hands in frustration, “If you think some unpredictable, irrational, and insane meat-head whose first response to everything seems to be to punch it” she glared at Clovis as she began to stand up “Is going to give me a lecture on how not to hurt Jane then you are sorely mistaken…”

 

“Oh you Bloody think so?”  Clovis replied sharply, the smile finally vanishing and his face becoming sterner, “I’d sit down if I was you.  After all I don’t think you’d want to upset Jane when she gets back and finds you gone would you?  Especially after she spent so long taking a deep breath so as not to slap you in the face yes?”

 

Daria slowly returned to her seat, “What do you mean by that?”

 

“First of all allow me to address some of your allegations, I will confess that at times I can indeed be unpredictable and indeed even irrational at the best of times, and I will be the first to admit that I’ve no doubt got more than a couple of wires crossed up here” he tapped the side of his head before shrugging, “But hey that’s who I am and I accept it.  But the final one…meat-head I believe is something I take umbrage with.”

 

Clovis lowered his shades so that his eyes met with Daria’s, “I do indeed have a brain which I must say is rather sharp, I wouldn’t dream of calling myself a genius but I know I’m smart enough to notice things.”

 

“And what would these things be?”  Daria enquired, genuinely intrigued by now.

 

“Well obviously the first thing I’ve noticed is that people fail to look past some of my more noticeable quirks and remember that under all this I am still a person.”  He paused just long enough to let that linger before resuming, “The second thing I’ve noticed is that Jane tends to hide it when someone she cares for hurts her because she doesn’t want to say anything to hurt them.”  He began to push his shades back into place, “And thirdly I noticed that you clearly didn’t like me and where unaware of how obvious this was.”

 

“Well then why didn’t you just say something instead of insulting me back?”

 

“Would you really have been willing to listen to ‘some unpredictable, irrational, and insane meat-head’? and be honest here.”  Clovis replied with his usual smirk returning.

 

“Point taken…wait a minute” Daria looked at Clovis suspiciously “you mean you only got me mad and then scared me so you could draw my attention to this?”

 

“Well look at it from my point of view, I had 3 options, I could do nothing and hope it wouldn’t lead to harming a friendship, or I could see if I could draw your attention to it.“

 

“And the third option?”

 

“Hh-Hm, that’s the easy one, knock you unconscious.  Aren’t you glad I chose option 2?”

 

…………

 

“Hmm this place looks ‘common’ enough to freak out the ‘rents.”  Elsie thought to herself as she entered the pizza king, “after all Tom recommended it and he seems to be the family expert on this sort of thing.”

 

As she looked around she saw something that took her by surprise.  Sat at one of the booths was her brother’s weird friend and he appeared to be with Tom’s girlfriend.  Last time she checked, making moves on your friend’s girl was considered very bad form and usually led to retribution.  It is entirely possible that her only just finishing her latest book caused this train of thought.

 

She reached into her bag for a tennis ball and prepared to administer some retribution, she was aware that Clovis had a reputation for casual violence but she also knew his statement that he “never hit women…below a certain age.”

 

She gripped the tennis ball and was just ready to let it fly true when someone bumped into her, causing the ball to go slightly to the left of its intended target, heading instead at Daria.

 

Elsie swiftly decided it was a good time to leave.

 

…………

 

When Daria saw; out the corner of her eye; the fuzzy green ball come hurtling at her she instinctively flinched.  She felt something like a very strong gust of wind blowing into her face but no actual impact that should be felt from the ball.

 

Daria hesitantly opened her eyes to see a clenched fist holding the tennis ball mere millimetres away from her face, the hand was Clovis’s who had managed to grab the ball out of midair moments before it would have hit, it was currently being held by a seemingly iron grip that had crushed it.

 

“Bloody Elsie and her Bloody Balls.”  Clovis muttered as he lowered the ball, “your boyfriends sister has a nasty habit of trying to bounce one of these things off of me bonce, oh and my apologies about the glasses.”

 

As Daria wondered what he meant she then noticed a crack that was starting to form in her left lens, as she looked at Clovis’s hand holding the mangled tennis ball she realised what the gust had been caused by.

 

“Eep!”

 

“Sorry I took so long amigos I…” Jane stopped in her tracks as she returned and looked at her friend in shock, “Daria what the hell happened to your glasses?”

 

“Oh some joker threw a tennis ball at someone and it rebounded at us,” Daria quickly spoke up before Clovis was able to, “Clovis was able to catch it but it did clip my glasses a tiny bit which caused the crack, its nothing to worry about though.  I suppose I should thank your boyfriend for stopping it.”

 

Jane looked at Daria in confusion for several seconds before finally speaking up, “Ok 2 questions, first of all who are you and where is Daria?  And secondly Clove just how hard have you hit her?”

 

“I’m as puzzled as you are Janey my dear, I suppose I just managed to charm her with my wit.” Clovis replied, while winking at Daria over his shades.  “Anyway we couldn’t come to an agreement over the pizza so the decision falls to you.”

 

…………

 

After finally finishing the pizza Daria rose from her seat, saying her goodbyes to Jane and to Clovis much to Jane’s surprise.  She had decided she may not have fully accepted him at the moment but after his little ‘rescue’ earlier he at least earned some civility.

 

As Daria left something occurred to her, her glasses used polycarbonate lenses which where very hard to crack.  The fact Clovis had managed it without actually physically touching them was something she really didn’t want to dwell on.

 

…………

 

After getting back home from the Pizza King, Daria headed to her room to change clothes, as she looked in the mirror she sighed at her damaged glasses.

 

“I suppose this is the part where I have to go without glasses to the gathering, only for all of the rich people to see how beautiful I am without them and it to all end happily ever after?”  She spoke out loud as she looked in the mirror.

 

“Not if I can help it.”  She added as she opened her nightstand drawer and removed her spare pair of glasses.

 

After getting changed Daria decided to read as a means of killing time, grabbing a book at random from the shelf she sat down and lost herself in the pages.

 

…………

 

After an unknown amount of time had passed, Daria’s room door opened and Quinn entered, “GOD Daria!”  She began in the usual irritated tone, “Tom has been downstairs for the last five minutes!  What can you be…”  She stopped when she saw Daria, more particularly she stopped when she saw the book, or to be even more precise, the name of the writer, “I KNEW IT!”

 

Daria sighed as she marked her page and stood up, “Quinn if the next sentence to come from your lips includes the words Jane, Austen, and Fantasy, then I will not be held responsible for my actions.”

 

Quinn wisely decided not to say anything, merely smirking at Daria as she left, Daria headed downstairs after shaking her head.  She headed downstairs to find Tom waiting, seemingly on his cell-phone, once he saw her he hung up immediately.

 

“Hi.  You look good.”

 

“Thanks…isn’t whoever your where talking to going to be annoyed?”

 

“Not really, I only held the phone up to my ear to avoid another interrogation by your mother.”

 

“The boy learns.”  Daria replied as they headed out to his car,

 

…………

 

The drive to the event passed without incident, upon arrival at the ‘Winged Tree’ country club the couple entered without trouble,

 

“Mr Sloane, Ma’am.”  The doorman gave a nod as the couple entered.

 

“You know I have a name.”  Daria muttered, “And it’s not an abbreviation of mammary.”

 

"True but in Joe's defence he hasn't met you before.”  Tom replied dryly, “and as long as I've known him clairvoyance isn't one of his talents."

 

“He could have asked.”  Daria replied slightly annoyed and a tiny bit hurt

 

“Please don’t take it personally Daria, he never asks the name of people I know, after all I do have some oddly named friends, tell you what when we get a chance I’ll introduce you.”

 

Daria was about to make a sarcastic response when something caught her eye causing her to stop moving.

 

“So tell me Tom.”  Daria spoke, eerily calm, “When did you plan on telling me HE would be here?”

 

Tom followed Daria’s gaze until he saw Clovis standing out amongst a group of people.  Before speaking he took a deep breath and shrugged his shoulders in a slightly exaggerated manner.

 

“Well Daria I figured you would find out and then kill me sooner or later, and since I’d rather enjoy your pleasurable company for as long as possible I opted for ‘later’ as opposed to ‘sooner.’”

 

“Hmm,” She turned to look at Tom, “I suppose Flattery does get you everywhere, alright since I haven’t had a chance to dance yet I suppose I can give you a stay of execution,” Daria replied, “I’ll decide your punishment later.”  She added with a slight smirk.

 

“You kinky little devil, you.”  Said a voice from behind her that possessed a certain distinct British accent that made her wince in embarrassment.

 

“Wow Tom what’s your secret, she never said anything like that to me.”  Came another, much more familiar voice.

 

Daria slowly turned around to see behind her not just Clovis, but Jane also, both grinning in amusement.

 

“I also didn’t mention he’d be here since I didn’t want to ruin the surprise of Jane also being here.”  Tom added.

 

…………

 

“Well mate you seem to have gotten out of that situation…as usual.”

 

“It’s a gift,” Tom replied before glancing at the instrument case in Clovis’s hand, “And I see you found a way out of dancing yourself have you?”

 

Clovis looked at the violin case and shrugged, “Dad needed a spare hand for some of the music and I agreed,  you want I should get them to play something of the tender starry-eyed variety for you two lovebirds to slow dance to?”

 

“You know how much it scares me that I can never tell if you’re joking or not?”  Tom replied with a leery glance at Clovis.

 

“Oh unclench yourself I’m just having a laugh.”  Clovis said as he rolled his eyes, “I know you have your whole issues with romance and all that jazz.”

 

“I don’t have issues I’m just not interested in all that sappy…Clovis you’ve got that look in your eye again.”

 

“Ah relax its nothing”  Clovis said with a grin before looking around, “Well I think I’ll go mingle.”

 

“You just saw somebody who you once kicked in the head and want to see them cringe don’t you?”

 

“What can I say?  I am like the wolf, I smell their fear and I love it.”

 

…………

 

Jane stopped waving to get Clovis’s attention when she saw him approach, “What took you?”  She said jokingly, “and why is Tom looking around nervously?”

 

“your guess is as good as mine.”  Clovis replied before glancing around, “Where’s Daria gone?”

 

“Oh she went to get a drink and then try and reclaim her boyfriend from you, I figured I’d save her some time by getting you over here.”

 

“Fair enough I guess, although from the looks of things I may have to dash off when the dancing starts and get with the rest of the band.”  Clovis lowered his shades and looked at Jane, “You sure you don’t mind that?  I mean I can slip out for a bit if you want to dance.”

 

“That’s sweet Clove but don’t worry about it, I’d rather not get my toes stomped by a bunch of tipsy socialites.  Besides,” Jane added with an evil smirk, “I’m looking forward to watching Daria slow-dance, think of the amount of fun I can make of that closet romantic after that.”

 

“Closet romantic…HER?”

 

“Oh hell yes.”  Jane replied, shaking her head in disbelief, “Daria may act like the ice-queen most of the time but deep down she’s a hopeless romantic…a big one.”

 

“Hh-Hm, that a fact?”

 

“Hard to believe isn’t it…Clovis you’ve got that look in your eye again.”

 

“I’ve been hearing that a lot lately.”  He replied as he spotted Daria returning with a drink, “How would like to do your best friend a favour?”

 

…………

 

“Clovis?  What are you doing?”  What’s going on?”  Tom looked over his shoulder as his friend casually grabbed the back of his sweater and practically dragged him across the room,

 

“Doing you a favour, thank me later, also here’s some advice, rethink the ol’ romance policy, and take an interest.”  Clovis then spun Tom around and with “Now dance monkey dance!”  Being his final instruction he half pushed half threw Tom in the direction of Daria…

 

“Jane what are you doing?”  Daria asked in confusion as Jane snatched her drink from her hand, she didn’t have time for an answer as Tom seemed to appear from nowhere and swept her away.

 

“Hi.”  A slightly flustered Tom spoke, “You want to dance?”

 

“I’d love to.”  Daria replied

 

…………

 

“Clove there’s something I don’t get.”

 

“Oho?”  Clovis replied with what Jane had learned was his usual answer when he wanted someone to continue.

 

“Well I thought you guys always made fun of Tom’s dancing?”

 

“That we do indeed, yes.”

 

“But…Tom’s a very good dancer.”

 

“Yeah I know…that’s why we make fun of him.”

 

“Huh?”

 

Clovis shook his head and sighed “Janey my dear you just don’t understand men.  Still they did look like they where enjoying the dancing.”

 

“True but I do think you killed the moment when you started playing that Black Sabbath song after the romantic slow dance tune.”

 

“Hey don’t knock ‘The Wizard’” Clovis spoke defiantly, “Besides I couldn’t resist, how often would I get a chance like that?”

 

“I’m more surprised at how many people liked it.”  Jane replied, “Still I suppose it isn’t as metal when played by a folk band.”

 

“True indeed.”  Clovis said, he then paused for several seconds, as if in thought. “Oh boy.”

 

“What?”

 

“Do you think I should have told those two that its customary to only dance together for more than 3 dances if you’re rather emotionally involved?”

 

The two remained silent for a bit before both giving the same response.

 

“NAHHH.”

 

…………

 

“Wretched Airline delays.”  Cursed the mohawked figure as he walked out of the airport, he flagged down a passing taxi and stowed his Double-Bass case in the back before getting into the passenger seat.

 

“Where ya headin’?”  The cab driver asked as he looked at his unusual passenger warily.

 

“Lawndale, I have; how you say; unfinished business there.”

 

The End.  Or at the very least, To Be Continued.