: Daria is owned by Glenn Eichler and other people who are not me. No infringement intended, making no money. Some lines taken verbatim from "Boxing Daria." Buffy and friends are the property of Joss Whedon, et al. No infringement intended, no money made. Also, the Buffy timeline's slid a bit back and changed so that Buffy didn't die in The Gift, and the time after that (and There’s No Place like Plrtz Glrb) syncs with Daria being 16.
Daria grabbed the covers of her bed as she heard Daddy shouting. "Dammit, Helen, that's it! How much am I supposed to take?" It had already been a bad day. The counselor lady had been asking her questions, and by the faces she made, her answers hadn't been right, and Mommy and Daddy were mad at being pulled out of work.
Mommy spoke back quickly, not quite protecting her. "Jake, this isn't about you. It's about her, having a little trouble fitting in."
"She doesn't want to fit in, damn it! Why can't you admit that?!" Daria squeezed her eyes to stop from crying. She did so
want to fit in. But all the kids wanted to play stupid games, and got mad at her when she knew the answers, and did bad things to her while she was reading...
" Jake, she's a child, she doesn't know any better!"
"That's what she wants you to believe!" A tear dripped down Daria's cheek. Daddy doesn't believe me?
"Where are you going?!" Helen said, still in the living room, as the front door, and what sounded like Daddy's car door slammed, and she could hear the engine rev as it took Daddy away.
"I made Daddy go away?" she murmured as she got her copy of Black Beauty
, turned on the light, and crawled into her box. Daddy can't go away!
The next morning, Daria took advantage of Mommy being distracted by Daddy not being there, and by Quinn acting up(like normal) to take all the money she had in her purse. When it came time to go to school, she went outside to the bus stop while Mommy took Quinn to preschool before she went to her important work. As soon as she saw Mommy's car leave, Daria ran back inside and grabbed her backpack, her copy of Black Beauty
, some clothes, and her library card. All of that packed up, she set out.
The library was easier than she had thought. She had gotten there after forty minutes of walking, but they just let her in after she showed her library card and told them that she was homeschooled, but her Mommy had some things to do today, so she was studying. She left the library with more knowledge, maps and several books about edible plants and survival tactics.
Next was the dollar store, where she got a cup and bowl, lots of rope, a compass, and a good knife, along with other things. It was just about noon. Time for her to go.
She was on the road about ten minutes when she heard a siren in the distance. If they catch me, Daddy will go away because I'm so much trouble!
As fast as she could, she dove into the tall grass beside the road and stayed still until the siren had vanished in the distance. "That was close," she said.
The sun was going down when Daria saw a thicket of trees covering a creek bed to her right. She shook her water bottle and crawled down to fill it. Once she drank from the bottle, she looked at her map - she was just past a group of buildings called Tulsita, and in another half hour she'd hit a slightly bigger group of buildings called Pettus. She sighed, pulled out the emergency blanket out of her pack, covered herself with it, and rested her head on the backpack.
Two days later, Daria stood next to a sign that proclaimed itself the Welder Wildlife Foundation Park. Mommy's money had been very useful - she had been able to go into a store or a restaurant when she got hungry. When some people asked her where her mommy was, she pointed at one of the cars. She wiped her brow at the memory. She had either gotten very lucky, or people around here were just as stupid as her classmates. She shrugged, and looked back at the sign. My home until they find me, or I'm an adult.
Ten Years Later
Daria peered over the ridge at the group of girls who had camped way too close to her cave for comfort. A short blonde girl, two tall brunettes, a redhead, a taller blonde, and a black-haired girl. Not that they seemed to be looking for her cave. Her cave had been a lifesaving find in this park. Big enough to hide her, small enough to keep her warm in the winter and cool in the summer, it was far enough away from where people normally camped that people didn't look around here out of curiosity. She could also hide the things that she "borrowed," from people there. She sighed. It had become abundantly clear in the first month that she was there that, despite the abundance of edible plants in the area, she would need some other food source if she didn't want to starve or do nothing but look for food all day. Having said that, it was also why she wasn't nude or covered in mud, and why she'd had something other than Black Beauty
to read over the last few years.
Years. Some days it disturbed her to know that she had spent more time away from her family than not, but at least, without her, they were
a family. Daddy wouldn't have left because she couldn't get along with the other children. She sniffled a bit, then her eyes narrowed. The shorter blonde had disappeared! Just as she was about to back away and go back to her cave, she heard a feminine voice behind her. "Mind telling me why you were spying on us?" She turned around and, sure enough, it was the short blonde. Well,
she thought, the blonde. You can't call her short if you're the same height!
"I - I..." she said. It was a struggle, speaking after literally years of not saying a word. She swallowed. "I wondered why you were so...close to my cave."
The girl smiled. "That's easy. Fred said that this was a great place for unwindage. Wait, your cave?" She looked at Daria, who looked at herself. Mis-matched clothes, super-skinny, shoes worn almost through, broken glasses, hair all one length, and hacked off. Yep, I'm definitely the poster girl for clothing excellence
The girl widened her eyes, then held up her finger. "Just a sec." She turned and yelled, "Scoobies!" then turned back to her. "Listen, I just called my friends, but nobody's going to do anything that you don't want." She held out her hand. "I'm Buffy."
Raising an eyebrow, she took it. "Daria."
Just as they finished shaking hands, the tall, black-haired girl said, "Wow, she's beyond ragged. What did she do, live -" and at a glare from Buffy, she stopped. "What?" she asked, then sighed and said, "Hi, I'm Cordelia."
That breaking the ice, the other girls stepped forward. "Willow."
"Howdy, I'm Fred," the last girl said with an accent that said that she was, "From around here." As she shook Daria's hand, her eyes widened, and she gathered her into a hug. "I'm so sorry!" Fred said. "We'll help you find your way. You can trust us."
Cordelia held up her hand. "Can I be the first to say, 'Huh?'"
Still hugging Daria (who, strangely enough, was making no attempt to get away), Fred replied, "She's been away a long time. I don't know if she was held, or not."
Daria looked at the ground. "I...I..." She was startled by Buffy putting her arm around her shoulders.
"I think this is a story that's better told around a campfire." She smiled at Daria. "We won't hold you, I just thought you might like a fire and things like that." Daria shrugged. It wasn't like she wasn't going to have to find a new place afterwards.
"...and so I walked down here from Highland, came into the park, and found the cave." All of the girl's mouths were open as she finished her tale.
"But how have you been able to feed yourself?" Willow asked, her arm around Tara. Daria wondered what that was about, but...not important now.
"When I went to the library in Highland, I took a book about edible plants. That, and a good bit of 'borrowing,' from tourists, kept me from starving."
Buffy turned to her, tears leaking down her cheek. "Did your dad say that he was leaving because of you?"
Daria shook her head. "But why didn't they find me? I literally left a trail a six-year old could follow."
Fred gave her a sad smile. "Sometimes there are no six year olds around," she said, quietly.
Tara turned to Buffy. "Buffy, I think we're going to have to cut our vacation short. We need to help Daria either find her family again, or get a start with us."
Buffy nodded. "That's cool. I've already got a killer tan."
Helen helped Jake take all of the things from the moving van to the room at the end of the hall, leaving the padded room empty, and Quinn in the one closest to the stairs. That worthy leaned in her doorway with her arms crossed, watching her parents trudging up the stairs. As they dropped their last loads, she seemed curious. "So what's the point?"
"Quinn," Helen said tiredly, "we've told you before. If Daria finds her way to us, she'll see that we haven't given up on her."
"Oh, come on," Quinn almost laughed. "Mom, use that lawyer brain. I really doubt that Daria's still alive. Either some animal ate her, or she ran into some pervert that she couldn't outsmart." She shook her head. "But even if she is alive, don't you think that she would have come home by now, if she wanted to?" Her smirk was wiped off her face by Jake's palm striking it. She stumbled and fell down, and he straddled her.
"Now listen, little miss popular. Daria is alive, and she'll come back to us when she is able. Is that clear?"
"Yes, Daddy," Quinn said, rubbing her cheek.
Willow was just finishing up her research, with Dawn, Tara, and Fred in the pool, when Buffy and Cordelia brought Daria into the hotel room. Willow's mouth dropped open. The broken glasses were gone, replaced, she assumed, by contacts; her face showed that makeup experts(that is, Buffy and Cordy) had been at her; her hair was styled with bangs, and hung in waves down to her bottom; she was dressed in what Buffy liked to call, "sensible fashion." The effect of it all was, if Willow hadn't already had a girl, and if Daria had been legal, well...
"I've finished the research, guys." she said, and all three girls crowded around the laptop. "First, Daria, your parents didn't want you to go. They've had, and they continue to have, a $50,000 dollar reward for your safe return. The return, however, may be a bit problematical. You see, a month ago, they moved away from Highland..."
Helen Morgendorffer wiped her brow and leaned on the kitchen sink. She was so glad that she had put some hours out of bounds to be on call for, so that she could keep looking for Daria. It gave her a little more time home, and with Jake and Quinn, too. She heard a car pull up, and, a few minutes later, a tapping on the front door. She went out and opened it.
"Thanks, honey," Jake said as he brought a box full of samples from his latest client in. She went ahead of him to open the garage door for him, as well. Once that was done, she went back to the kitchen, as was about to start working again when the doorbell rang. Wiping off her hands, she opened the door. She started to say, "Hel-" but she stopped in shock. She opened her mouth again, and still couldn't get any words out.
The girl, who had been nervously smiling, looked down, and said, "I thought you'd at least tell me to go away." She started to turn herself, when Helen grabbed her.
She turned Daria around, and while hugging her tightly, alternated between sobbing and shouting, "Jake!"