Text ©2003 Roger E. Moore (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Daria and associated characters are ©2003 MTV Networks
Feedback (good, bad, indifferent, just want to bother me, whatever) is appreciated. Please write to: email@example.com
Synopsis: A dystopian Mary Sue crossover Daria metafic ficlet that should not have been written.
Author’s Notes: This was written as an entry in Erin M.’s February 2003 Iron Chef contest to “write a brief crossover ficlet between ‘Daria’ and a TV show, movie, book, comic book, what have you that by and large, you believe can’t or shouldn’t be done.” This was a very tempting contest, and this story was one of the results. It is assumed that the reader is familiar with the major characters of the “Daria” TV show, so explanations of who is who are not needed.
Acknowledgements: Thanks to Erin M. for the contest that spawned this, and RedlegRick for several important corrections. 8)
Bethany woke up, her head spinning like a top in a cloud. “Oh,” she gasped. “Oh, wha—wha’ happ’n’?”
“About time,” said a familiar voice. “Thought she was gonna stay out for good. No fun there.”
“Dumb as the rest,” said another familiar voice. “Maybe dumber. Hard to believe.”
That voice. The voice was someone . . .
Daria? The cartoo—
Bethany blinked and tried to focus her eyes. Rocks. Lots of rocks lay right by her face. She was on her side, on the rocky ground under an open sky.
“Fix her up,” said Daria.
Someone put a dark gray boot next to Bethany’s face and jerked her up to her rubbery feet with enormously strong hands. The hands shoved Bethany back against a pole that dug into her back, then reached around and tied her hands behind her. She tried to fight back, her arms flopping weakly against a tall, thin, hard-muscled body that stank of cigarettes, old sweat, and alcohol.
“Stop it,” warned a gravelly, feminine voice by her ear, “or you’ll tick me off.”
“Then she’ll tick you off,” said the Daria voice, distant and amused. “Way off.”
“Don’t rush me,” said the voice by Bethany’s ear.
Bethany focused on the face before her.
Coal-black bangs. Teardrop face. Eyes as clear and blue as a winter sky. She had a stale cigarette odor on her breath and in her hair.
“Jane?” Bethany murmured. “Jane Lane?”
“Not as dumb as she looks,” said Jane. Her silken black bangs swung over her eyes. Her face was a wolf’s, pressing its muzzle against fallen prey, whetting its appetite.
“Where am I?”
“Talkative,” said Jane with a grin. Her hand came up out of nowhere.
The ringing in Bethany’s ears soon passed. She sobbed and coughed until the pain faded and she could talk again.
Her arms hurt and wouldn’t move. They were tied behind her. Her legs were tied, too. The pole pressed into her back and held her upright.
“We do owe you an explanation,” said Daria.
Bethany focused her gaze through her tears. Daria stood about twenty feet away, her left arm across her stomach, right elbow resting in her left palm, a cigarette in her right fingers, drifting smoke. She looked at Bethany through her oversized glasses, her eyes like dark pools.
“You were writing a story, Bethany, or whatever your real name is,” Daria said. “It was a Mary Sue fanfic. You know what those are. You put yourself into your own Daria story so you could be our very best friend, because you like us so much. But you got tired and didn’t finish it, so you went to bed, and now you’re in your own story, inside your dreams. You’re in your own Mary Sue story in the body of your character, just like you wanted. Isn’t that special?” She took a long drag on her cigarette.
“What?” cried Bethany.
“I take back that part about her not being as dumb as she looks,” said Jane.
“What are you doing?”
Daria took the cigarette from her mouth, slowly exhaling a cloud of smoke. “Helping you with your writing career, Bethany. Your story really sucked, but we’re making your fondest wish come true anyway.”
Bethany fought against her bonds. It was useless and hurt a lot.
“You wanted to meet us, didn’t you?” asked Jane, putting something in her mouth and chewing on it. She had a large gray backpack on.
“You know what?” Bethany gasped. “I am a writer, that’s right, but . . . but my name’s not really Bethany! I swear it!
A moment of silence passed.
“It’s not, huh?” said Daria, unimpressed.
“No, really! You know what? This will sound crazy, really crazy, but I’m not even a girl, really! I’m not! I’m—”
“You’re a guy, right?” said Jane, chewing gum. A brown beer bottle hung from the fingers of her right hand. “You’re a guy. A guy fanfic writer, in the body of the character you created to be our special friend.”
“Doesn’t that get confusing?” Daria asked, deadpan. “Which restroom do you use in the high school?”
“Wha—yeah! Yeah, that’s funny. That’s pretty good! Isn’t it crazy? I’m . . . How did you . . . I don’t remember my real name. I can’t remember my name, but yeah, I’m a guy, and I write stories. I’m from the real world! Not your world, but the real one! I’m not a girl, honest! I just . . . I was writing this, and . . . I can’t believe this, that this is all happening, you know.”
“Do tell,” said Daria. She took a quick drag on her cigarette, paused, then exhaled the smoke through her nose like a dragon. She watched Bethany with narrow eyes.
“I’ll tell you about it, the real world!” cried Bethany. “You won’t believe it! See, you’re in a cartoon—you’re not real, and I am!”
“I’m a cartoon,” said Daria, but she looked quite real suddenly, standing there with a cigarette in her hand. Bethany could see every strand of her auburn-brown hair, every detail of her green-and-black clothing.
And Bethany could taste the blood in her mouth now, too.
“But I’m real!” Bethany shouted. “You’re a cartoon, and I’m real! I am!”
There was a little silence.
“You don’t know how many times I’ve heard that, Bethany,” said Daria in a tired voice. “You have no idea how many times I’ve heard that very . . . same . . . thing.”
“This can’t be happening!”
“Oh, it’s happening,” said Daria. She looked down to scuff her right boot in the dust. “I’m afraid we already know the difference between reality and not-reality, given my comments about this being a dream, you see? We’re more than cartoons, Jane and I. We’re sort of . . . out there in timeless space, floating around in the void, you know, disembodied intellects, but we’re very aware of fanfic. We know all about the fanfic people write about us, and sometimes—a lot of the time, really—we see fanfic that catches us wrong, and we just feel the need to step and help people out with the way they write stories. Altruism, that’s all it is. You know what altruism means, right?”
“Daria’s good with stories,” said Jane. She raised the beer bottle and drank deeply from it.
“See,” said Daria, waving her cigarette to make the point, “you were writing a Mary Sue, a really sucky one, and maybe I should be grateful that it wasn’t porn or a lame ‘shipper or out of character or whatever. I don’t like them, either. Still, it sucked. You need to broaden your horizons. The kind of story you’re in right now, for example. It’s called a crossover.”
“A crossover?” Bethany stared at her. “A fanfic crossover?”
“That’s it,” said Daria, nodding. “This is a crossover.” She put the cigarette between her lips and took a long drag, eyeing Bethany all the while.
“It’s a fun crossover,” said Jane. The wolf look was back in her face. Her gaze ran slowly up and down Bethany’s figure from face to toes, mostly wandering the areas in between. “It’s cool.”
“Let me tell this,” said Daria, not looking at Jane.
“Let me. You take too long.”
“Screw you if you don’t like it.”
“You and your promises,” Jane muttered.
“I’ll give you a hundred if you let me tell this.”
Jane sighed, looking Bethany over. “Sure,” she said finally. “A hundred smackeroos. You got it.”
“A hundred,” agreed Daria. Her eyes were on Bethany, but she wasn’t seeing Bethany anymore. “A crossover,” she said to the air behind Bethany. “This is a dystopian Mary Sue crossover Daria ficlet that should never be written. Maybe it’s a metafic, too. Yeah, a dystopian Mary Sue crossover Daria metafic ficlet. Metaficlet, maybe. Got that? See, that was quick.”
“That should never be written.” Jane grinned, chewing her gum. “You forgot that part.” Her ice-blue eyes glittered.
Something inside Bethany’s head snapped.
“I can’t believe you’re doing this!” Bethany shouted. “You not supposed to be—this isn’t—this is just totally ridiculous! It’s just a bunch of bullcrap! You’re not Daria and Jane! This isn’t Lawndale! It’s not real, it isn’t real at all!”
Daria grinned at Bethany now. Jane’s own grin was fading, her eyes cold and growing colder.
“I am Daria,” said Daria calmly. “Daria Morgendorffer. And this is Jane Lane. We really are who we are. And this is Lawndale. We’re in the abandoned quarry outside town, where we brought you after we slipped you that funny little drink when we were at the pizza parlor. You’re really here. You can even smell my cigarette, can’t you?”
“You are not Daria and Jane!” Bethany screamed. “I can’t smell anything! Nothing! This is a dream, just a stupid dream, and I want to wake up!”
“You can’t wake up until you remember your name,” said Daria. “But we took your name before you got here. Took it and hid it away.” She shrugged. “Bummer, huh?”
“Wake up!” Bethany screamed. “Please, wake up!”
“We got a rag to stuff in her mouth?” asked Jane, looking around the rocks.
“Let her talk,” said Daria. “Him talk. Whatever.” She took a last pull on her cigarette, then leaned down and crushed it out on a rock. “You got the tools?”
“If you’ve got the time,” said Jane. She carefully set her beer bottle among the rocks near her feet, then shrugged off her backpack and set it on the ground, unzipping it.
“If this is a crossover,” Bethany shouted, toeing hysteria, “which is the most stupid dumbass idea I can possibly imagine, the stupidest most idiotic thing I’ve ever heard of, then what kind of book or movie or other crap are we crossed with? What is it?”
Jane glanced at Daria, then shrugged and looked inside the backpack, rummaging around for something.
“What are we crossed with?” Daria said. “Our little metaficlet? We’re crossed with the ‘dee ess em four are’.”
Breathing heavily, Bethany looked from Daria to Jane and back. “The what? What is that?”
Jane pulled two small cardboard boxes from the backpack. The small boxes had orange covers. Jane set one box down and opened the other, peering inside. Metal clinked on metal within.
“It’s an abbreviation,” said Daria. “Dee ess em hyphen Roman numeral four hyphen are. DSM-IV-R. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, version four, revised.”
Bethany stared at Daria, who coolly stared back. “What in the hell is that?” Bethany yelled. “What are you talking about? What in the hell is a DSR-whatever the hell that is?”
“Potty mouth,” said Jane. “I ought to slap you until your pea brain falls out.” She put down the orange box and reached inside the backpack again.
“Diagnostic and Statistical Manual,” said Daria. “It’s the main reference that psychiatrists use to diagnose their patients. That’s what we’re crossed over with in your dreams, Mister Guy Fanfic Writer in a Schoolgirl’s Body.”
Bethany stared for a moment longer—then broke into a high-pitched laugh. This was too, too funny now, much too funny to be real. “A psychiatrist’s manual? I’m in a crossover in a . . .”
Jane’s hand came out of the gray backpack with a large black .357 Magnum.
The laugh died.
“Sucks to be you,” Daria said softly, looking at Bethany. She glanced at Jane. “Did you bring mine, too?”
“Yeah,” said Jane, opening up the pistol to look into chambers of the cylinder. “Even cleaned it for you. Thought we could alternate, you me you me etcetera.”
“Okay,” said Bethany with a dry mouth. Her eyes were fixed on the gun that Jane held. “Okay, okay, no problem. I apologize. You win. I’m really sorry I said what I said. That was stupid, and I didn’t mean it. I’m serious, okay? I—I didn’t mean it.”
Jane reached for the beer bottle beside her, took a short drink from it, and set it down again. Her fingers went back to loading coppery bullets into the black cylinder.
“I said I’m sorry! I’ll stop writing fanfic, if that’s what you want. I promise. No more. It’s stupid anyway. Let’s be friends and let this go.”
“‘Let’s be friends’,” said Daria. “I like that.”
“I like friends,” said Jane. She snapped the cylinder shut and looked the pistol over. “They’re fun.”
“Wait for me,” said Daria. Jane handed her the other pistol, a silver-plated .45 Colt.
“Use both hands, okay?” said Jane. “You almost shot my freaking block off last time.”
“Do I make you nervous?” Daria ejected the magazine from the handle and looked inside. “Hollow points. Thanks.”
Jane grinned. “Anything for you, amiga.”
Daria jammed the magazine back into the pistol and clicked off the safety. “You first.”
Jane’s grin deepened. She stood erect, her arms loose, chewing her gum, looking back at Daria.
“Jane and I are Conduct Disorders right now,” said Daria to Bethany. “When we turn eighteen, we’ll be Antisocial Personality Disorders, just like the DSM-IV-R says. Sociopaths, you would say. My kind of crossover.”
“We all need our own special goals to aspire to,” said Jane. She sounded as if she was quoting.
“That’s O’Neill,” said Daria. “Feed the ego, split the infinitive.”
“I’ll do anything you want!” said Bethany, looking from one to the other. “Anything! I swear I will, I swear it! Anything at all!”
Daria tried to stifle a smile. Jane giggled.
“Scream for us,” said Daria.
Jane turned. The pistol came up so fast in her hands, there was no time to—
Original: 2/19/03; revised 8/4/03