Paranoia Reagent

A Daria/Paranoia Agent crossover

This was written for the Crossovers Not Yet Crossedover Iron Chef, and in tribute to Satoshi Kon, who recently passed away. It is unlikely to make sense if you haven't seen his series, Paranoia Agent.


Daria paused outside the house, looking at the two cars in the driveway. Her mother's SUV being there right after school was an ominous sign. The other car was -- another bad sign -- one she didn't recognize. A moment's inspection revealed the subtle clues that marked it as a rental, and her father's favorite Maromi bobble-head was on the dash, which at least gave some direction to her speculation. She wondered idly if she still had a chance to make good use of the camera, or if she'd need to wait until they got the bill for whatever happened to the Lexus, and opened the door.

Helen was, for once, not on the phone. Sitting in the living room, with papers spread out in front of her, she looked up as the door opened. "Welcome home, Daria."

"Mom. Was there another gas leak at the courthouse? And what's with the rental?"

"Can't a mother come home early to cook dinner for her family once in a while?"

Daria sniffed at the air ostentatiously. "This must be that new molecular gastronomy thing I've heard about. All the ingredients in a carefully control, completely hermetically sealed chamber. And that doesn't explain the rental."

"Order delivery, cook dinner," Helen waved one hand in the air dismissively. "Close enough. Your father crashed his car. Don't worry, he's fine."

"He did manage to drive a rental home. Where is he?"

"In his "office"." Helen pointed to the garage. After they had cleaned it out earlier in the year, Jake had set up a desk and some things in there in case he wanted to get some work done at home without disturbing anyone. Since this included a TV and a mini fridge, this normally involved beer and football games. "He said he got an extension for that PSA he's working on, and wanted to get to work on it right away."

"An extension?"

"Because of the attack. I'm worried he hit his head harder than he let on." Most of her attention on the papers she held, she added, "Especially with that crazy excuse of his. If he'd just tell the truth about what happened he might not have a heart attack when he sees what this is going to do to the insurance rates."

"Maybe it's not a crazy story. He doesn't usually make up things unless they're about housework and let him get out of awkward conversations."

"He says he crashed because he was being chased by an elementary school kid in rollerblades waving a big, golden bat."

Daria looked at the door to the garage with a raised eyebrow. "Wow. I didn't expect dad to be up on the latest internet memes."

Helen blinked a couple times, then looked up at Daria. "What?"

"There are some stories going around online. About a pre-teen boy who wears a baseball cap, golden rollerblades, and goes around hitting people with a golden bat. He's called Bat Boy or Little Slugger or something. He's supposed to be in Tokyo, though, so unless Jesus went all juvenile delinquent on us..."

Helen put her head in her hand. "God, I hope the adjuster doesn't know about that one."

"Don't worry. It's made it all the way to Sick, Sad World." Helen groaned again. "Actually, it really happened. I did a little checking. You know that Maromi thing dad, Quinn -- and everyone else in town -- has been going crazy about? Excuse me, crazier?"

"That horrible..."

"Pink hydrocephalic dog thing, yeah. The woman who created the pup from the pits of heck got attacked by this guy. I heard there were other attacks, but until they happen to someone famous enough to get news about them translated, they'll have to stay as rumor."

"Just what I needed now. This is the most important case I've handled this year..."

Helen ignored Daria as she said, not at all sotto voice, "Just like all the other ones before it."

Helen continued, "And now he has to go get spooked by a squirrel and blame it on some fairy-tale he heard."

Daria left Helen muttering to herself and went up to her room.

The next day at school, Daria told Jane about Jake's accident.

"Wow. I didn't expect Mr. M to be that hip."

Daria shot her a short glare. "Yeah, he's real jiggy with it."

"Twenty-three skidoo!"

"Maybe you should twenty-three skidoo."

"Wait. That actually means something?" Before Daria could answer, Jane added, "Well, look what the cat coughed up."

Daria turned to see Charles making his way clumsily down the hall. His usual wide grin with a generous helping of leer was spread across his face, in spite of the crutches and the cast that engulfed one leg. Daria grimaced. The cast was covered with Maromi stickers.

"What happened, Upchuck?" Jane asked. "Hit on Mrs. Barch?"

Daria shook her head. "He only broke his leg. It's still attached."

"Ah, good point. Maybe he hit on someone while her boyfriend was around to hear it."

"A hearty greeting to two of the feistiest ladies to ever grace the halls of Lawndale High. A poor edifice that would quite simply wither into heartbroken despair if not for the presence of such lovely flowers as yourself."

Jane looked at her boots. "I have got to remember to bring my hip waders."

"I happened to overhear your earlier conversation. Imagine my surprise, and my gratification, when I realized it was about..." Here he leaned over, as best he could with the crutches, and dropped his voice to a conspiratorial whisper. "Yours truly." Returning to a more normal volume, he added, "But, surely you jest. The Chuckster would never be so crass as to openly, as you say, "hit on" a woman whose interest was already engaged elsewhere."

"Then what did happen to you?"

"Ah, lovely Daria, therein lies the tale. A tale of heroics, and romance, and dashing daring-do."

"I think the only doo related to this is runny, not dashing, which isn't quite the same thing." Jane said.

"Oh, but you will have to agree that "dashing" is being only too modest, as is typical of a true hero as myself. It all started with this poor puppy..."

Daria interrupted. "You got attacked by some kid on rollerblades with a golden bat, didn't you?"

Charles looked at her in shock. Daria and Jane shot each other a glance, then shook their heads in unison. "Other people do have internet access, you know." Daria said.

"Hey, speak for yourself. All I've got is half a rusty SpaghettiOs can and some string."

Charles looked around, then said, in a much more normal tone than he ever usually used, one devoid of any smarm or schmaltz. "You may not believe me, but it did happen."

"The kid's supposed to be in Japan, Upchuck."

"And he'd never get the bat and skates through airport security."

Charles shrugged. "Maybe it's a local copycat. I don't really care. It's the best thing that's ever happened to me."

Jane grinned. "Maybe we should try breaking bones more often, Daria."

Charles grinned, and his voice returned to normal. "You jest, or I might just take you up on that offer later. Grrr."

"I think he got hit in the head too." Daria noted.

"All I have to do is take a walk through the park. You wouldn't believe the the way the lovelies simply swarm all over me, with their "Oh, you poor darling"s. The fact that I was taking my new puppy for a walk this morning was a sheer, complete, and utter coincidence."

"Upchuck, is pity really all you want out of a relationship? Because I bet you can get that one covered, easy, without the broken bones." Jane said.

"All any Ruttheimer would ask for... is an opening." Charles grinned even wider than usual. "Now, unless you two visions of splendor would care to add your monogram to my temporary accessory, I'm afraid I must rush to class. I simply can't move about as quickly on these as I can when of sound body."

"I'm glad you left out the part about sound mind."

Daria looked at his cast. "I don't see any signatures."

Charles gave a short bow, the crutches kept him from making a very deep one. "By all means. Do consider the honor of being the first asked. And now, adieu, adieu, auf wiedersehen, adieu."

Daria and Jane watched him for a moment as he left. Jane turned to Daria and asked, "Do you think we can get this Little Slugger kid to come back and hit him a few more times?"

"If not, I bet my parents have a couple sets of roller skates in the garage."

A couple weeks later, Daria and Jane were on their way to their first class when they paused. A high pitched whine emanated from the classroom, and the pair eyed the door warily.

"Think someone mentioned Bambi to her again?" Jane asked.

"Maybe she finally found out what happened to the rest of that elephant. Of all the days to forget to bring earplugs."

"You should just let the wax build up, like I do. It forms a wonderful protective barrier."

"Years of experience with Spiral have taught you well."


They entered the room. As they had expected, Brittany was sitting at one of the desks, with her head resting on her arms, and crying at full volume. The big Maromi backpack she was wearing had giant plastic googly-eyes, which wobbled rather distressingly with each sob. Jodie stood next to her, rubbing her shoulder and making vague comforting noises punctuated with the occasional "There, there."

"Did they cancel cheerleading practice for once?" Daria asked.

This provoked a burst of high pitched babble made incomprehensible by the crying from Brittany.

"Kevin's in the hospital." Jodie translated.

Daria and Jane looked at each other. "He wasn't trying to pop a wheelie on his scooter again, was he?"

More babbling from Brittany. "He got beat up," Jodie translated, then added, "It's pretty bad. He's probably not going to get out of the hospital before graduation."

Another burst from Brittany, and Jodie added, "He'll have to repeat his senior year."

Daria snorted. "Given his grades, he probably would have had to do that anyway." Ignoring a fresh bout of crying from Brittany, she added, "This is actually probably better for him. He's got another year to graduate, and repeating a year for medical reasons will look a lot better on his transcript than for academic reasons."

Brittany paused sobbing, looked up, and squeaked. Jodie sighed, and said, "She says, 'really?'"

Daria nodded, and Brittany managed a small smile.

Jane asked Jodie, "How can you understand that."

Jodie shrugged. "Long practice."

"So how'd he get beat up? Tomcatting around?"

Brittany went back in to tears.

Jodie rolled her eyes. "He claims he was attacked by ten big guys. Ms. Li thinks it was the Oakland football team."

"She have her own forensics team out investigating?"


Daria said, "A roving gang of footballers would be a change. Everyone else is just getting attacked by Little Slugger."

"Little Slugger?" Jodie asked.

Jane answered. "Some crazed Japanese kid who's going around on rollerblades hitting people with a golden bat. He must have lots of frequent flier miles by now."

Brittany paused crying again, and looked up. Another squeak.

Jodie looked surprised. "She wants to know about the golden bat."

Daria shrugged. "Just second hand stories. It's supposed to be a bent, gold colored, metal bat."

"His rollerblades and hat are gold, too." Jane said. "I've seen fanart."

Brittany put her head back on her arms, but didn't return to crying. There was some muffled, angry muttering.

"Oh, this is rich," Jodie says. "Brittany said Kevin was saying something about a kid with a metal bat after the painkillers kicked in."

"Of course."

Daria was sitting in bed reading when the door flew open. Daria shouted, "Ghaa!" as Quinn ran through the door and jumped into a flying tackle that left Daria pinned against the bed, Quinn on top of her.

"Just because my room's padded doesn't mean this is the WWF." Daria stated angrily, before noticing that Quinn was in tears.

"You're not reading about the serial puppy kickers again, are you?" Daria asked, irritation clear in her voice.

Her voice muffled against Daria's shirt, Quinn wailed, "Stacy's deaaaaaad!"

Daria blinked in surprise and set her book aside. She patted Quinn on the back a few times and let her cry. After a while, she said, "Okay, before my shirt is completely soaked, can you tell me what happened?"

Quinn managed to calm down enough to speak, although her sentences were broken up by her sobs and the occasional deep breath. "Stacy made this birthday wish that Sandi would, like, shut up, which is, you know, totally understandable, because Sandi was so totally ruining Stacy's party..."

"Hold on. I didn't ask for the history of the Fashion Club."

Quinn ignored her. "And then Sandi lost her voice, and Stacy got all guilty, cause, you know, she's Stacy, and took Sandi some cheesecake she baked as an apology, and told her about it, which was, like, a big mistake. Sandi got mad and there was a big argument and shouting, well, writing in big letters, and Stacy panicked and ran outside. Then she screamed, and Sandi went outside to see what happened, and Stacy had, like, been hit by something, and was lying there all bloody and stuff, and now she's deaaaaaad!"

This lead in to another outburst of crying, while Daria held her and thought.

"You said Sandi ran out? You mean you weren't there when it happened?"

Quinn shook her head, smearing snot all over the front of Daria's shirt.

"How'd you hear all this?"

"Sandi's mom called..."

"Hmm. Not even she's nasty enough to pull a prank like this." Daria said, quietly, hugging Quinn. "Um... I'm sorry."

They lay there together until Quinn cried herself out. Daria finally spoke up. "No offense to your permanent diet, but I need to get up before my neck permanently takes the shape of Uri Geller's spoon collection." Daria waited, but didn't get a reply. "Quinn?"

The only answer was a faint snore.


Daria managed to shift Quinn enough to get out from under her. "This would be a great time for dad to get home. He could get you in to your own bed easily enough. Come on Talia, let's get you back to your own spinning wheel."

Daria managed to get Quinn mostly to her feet, and guided her back to her room. After getting Quinn set in her bed, she removed Quinn's shoes, and headed back to her room to change. Pausing by the door, she took a look around Quinn's room, sure that something was wrong.

"Hey. Where'd all those Maromi plushies go?"

Outside, there was a distant rumbling noise.