Cycle of Life
Author’s Note: A fairly short story, at least in comparison to April 10, 1997 and The Sum of Their Parts. It is not a one-parter, though.
Disclaimer: The Buffy characters were created by Joss Whedon, the Daria ones by Glenn Eichler, and the original ones -- Dr. Lynette Vaughn, Cameron Kim, and Willard Jay Harbaugh -- by me.so roll out the head of faye tucker
yeah well never you mind what they say
well you may be reborn
but it's all just for scorn
and that's what you'll take to the grave
that's what you'll take to the grave
-- The Indigo Girls, Faye Tucker
X X X X X
“Are you sure?” Dr. Lynette Vaughn asked.
“I’m sure,” Daria Faith Morgendorffer said.
“I could go with you.”
Angel said, “Any of us could go with you.” Cameron Kim echoed the sentiment.
“Look. It ain’t as though I don’t appreciate the offers. But Doc, you have patients, and Angel, you have a nest of Burchells’ dealing drugs to take care of. You can do without me for a few days. And Cameron: Again, thank you. But I think my trip would be better if I weren’t constantly dodging Wolfram & Hart assassins. Call me crazy. But I’ve already dealt with one gauntlet.” Over a month after Cameron had resigned, Wolfram & Hart still wasn’t taking it well.
Lilah Morgan, at least according to Angel, had laughed herself silly at Cameron’s method of getting out of her lifetime contract. From everything Angel could determine, she actually had nothing to do with the attempts on Cameron’s life.
She hadn’t done anything to prevent them, either. Gavin Park, who’d always gotten along with Cameron about as well as PETA and McDonald’s, was directing their efforts at revenge, and directing them with a shit-eating grin on his face.
Their top priority, at the moment, was getting the attacks to stop. More than once Angel had encouraged the shapeshifter to get the hell out of Dodge, but she’d declined, saying that A, she was better-protected here than she was almost anywhere else, and B, she had a job to do, and she wasn’t going to let Wolfram & Hart’s lack of respect for contracts drive her off.
“Nice of you to offer,” Daria said, just in case she’d hurt Cameron’s feelings. “Really. I appreciate it. But this is something I have to do myself.”
“And how were you planning to get to Livingston, Texas?” Angel asked.
“While you weren’t looking, I went and got myself a driver’s license.”
“Daria,” Angel said reproachfully.
“Right. I got a forged one. I went to the DMV, took the written and the road tests, passed with flying colors, and then said, ‘Hey, no thanks. I’d rather pick one up from Fat Tony.’ I appreciate your assessment of my moral compass.”
“I didn’t mean –“
“Yeah, you did. But I’m not taking it personally. I’m still trying to figure me out sometimes. Occasionally I feel very much like Daria Morgendorffer, and then there’s those times I’m all Faith, all the time. I can hardly blame you for not having a handle on me when it’s a handle I lack myself. Just remember. Faith was reformed, more or less, and Daria was never more than mischievous. It’s not likely I’m going to be worse than the combination.”
Apologetically, Angel said, “Point taken. You’re right.” Then he said, “Still. Slayers and cars.”
“What about Slayers and cars?” Doc Vaughn asked.
“They don’t go well together, from all I’ve heard. Buffy still hasn’t passed her driver’s test, and at one point Giles mentioned to me that none of the other Slayers were able to learn. Some of them did try.”
“Interesting,” Daria said. “Still, I’d like to point out the ass you’re making out of you and me.”
“Huh?” Angel said.
“Assume,” Cameron Kim said. “What’s the assumption?’
“That I’ll be driving a car.”
X X X X X
She’d showed them the motorcycle – Angel had to look from the Hyperion lobby, it being daylight. He wasn’t desperate enough for a look at the bike that he was willing to burst into flames.
Too bad, because it was a kickass bike. Safe and fast. She felt like she could do 0-60 in nanoseconds.
Still, while Daria loved getting the thing out on the open road, and part of her just wanted to see how fast she could go, she very carefully went with the flow of traffic. She wasn’t going to waste her money on speeding tickets.
She pulled to a stop somewhere on the outskirts of Tucson, Arizona, and checked into a Holiday Inn.
Then she went out to explore the nightlife.
Not clubbing; she didn’t do that. Seemed that while she was looser than the old Daria, she was a damn sight tighter than Faith. Willing to socialize, sure. Willing to go out and be seen occasionally, no problem. Going out just for the sake of getting guys worked up to want to do something she wasn’t going to do anymore, no. Daria Faith Morgendorffer was going to wait until she was ready.
And that level of intimacy was going to be hard to reach. When there were exactly four people in her life she felt even close to that level of closeness with, and three of them were women (and she was as straight as a bowling alley), and the fourth was Angel (and their shared moment, back in Sunnydale, would never be brought up again; too many people could be hurt.)
No, this was the other kind of night life. The kind that sucked blood and frequently looked as though it dressed on the strict instructions of Anne Rice and Laurell K. Hamilton. Daria’d once enjoyed Hamilton; she’d never liked Rice. Her opinion was, if she wanted to read porn, she’d read porn. She didn’t need to read porn pretending to be something else.
She found three vampires. Her fights with them were so perfunctory as not to be worth recounting. She’d gone out a bit on her own, both while B was training her, and once she got back to LA. She’d also helped Angel Investigations a few times. Basically, she was now confident in her Slaying abilities.
Satisfied that she’d made nights in Tucson marginally safer, Daria went back to the hotel and called Doc Vaughn. “Are you doing okay?”
“I only broke two legs,” Daria said. Then, smiling faintly, she said, “Fortunately, they were all on other people.” The line was from Charles Schulz. If you must steal, steal from the best.
“Yeah, Doc. I’m safe. And don’t think I didn’t appreciate you being willing to come along on the trip. But this is something I have to do by myself.”
“I thought you’d already come to terms with it,” Doc Vaughn said.
“I have,” Daria said. “Call it closure; call it making sure things go full circle. Besides, it’ll give me an opportunity to stop off at Highland. Call me sentimental. I think I should visit my parents’ and sister’s graves at least once.”
“I think even you’ll be forgiven that sentiment,” Doc Vaughn. “So tomorrow you stop off in Highland, and then the next day you’ll be in Livingston.”
“And that night, Willard Jay Harbaugh gets executed. And I’ll watch the man who killed Jake, Helen, and Quinn Morgendorffer die.”