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Kitsune (2/3)
The continuation of a Daria fanfic by Rey Fox (hogg8934@uidaho.edu)


(from part 1)

Rachel giggled. Then Daria noticed Rachel smile at Trent. An icy chill ran down Daria's
spine. That smile, she thought, why did it look so...predatory? And did her canine teeth look
just a bit too sharp? Trent sped off, leaving Daria back in his dust with her worries.

"Damn it, she said out loud, "That girl just...isn't...right!"

"I know what you mean."

"What?" Daria whirled around to face this unexpected guest. She was a dyed-black-haired girl
with black clothes, black eyeliner, and a single fishnet glove over her left hand.

"I said, I know what you mean," Andrea answered calmly, "She isn't right."

CHAPTER 6: Midday Confessions

Daria stared at Andrea, unsure of where to start with how wrong this was. She wondered
briefly where she had lost control of things in her life. Then she wondered if she had ever had
control in the first place. Then she decided that it was a moot point, and came back to the
situation at hand.

"How long have been monitoring me?" blurted Daria. That seemed like a good place to start.

"Well, I was over in this area thinking to myself, and then I noticed a car pulling up, so I
was naturally curious. Then I saw that the driver wanted to talk to you, which was quite a sur-
prise, no offense, and then I sensed that you had some issues between this person, and also the
girl in the passenger seat, and then I saw the way that she looked at the driver, and I got a
flash of something quite unfamiliar when I concentrated on her, and then you cursed out loud, and
I got a feeling that you may be on the same wavelength as me. And that's it, in a nutshell."

Daria tried to gather her thoughts again, but they kept jumping away. "You...he...what the
HELL are you trying to tell me?!"

"I'm trying to tell you that the girl in question really ISN'T right, and that the driver of
that car might be on danger."

"First off, 'The Driver' has a name, Trent Lane. And 'That Girl' is Rachel Last Name
Unknown. And Second, and probably most importantly, where do you get off...saying all this?"

"It's my guilty little secret," deadpanned Andrea.

"Well you'll have fill me in on it, Andrea, I don't know you. Oh sure, we see each other
in school sometimes, I mean, I don't know how anybody could miss you with that whole Elvyra thing
going on, but the point is that I don't know you, you don't know me, and this isn't any of your
business, or at least it wasn't your business until now, and I want to know why it is all the
sudden." Daria finally took a deep breath.

"Okay, here it is, in condensed form. I may not have been told these things, but I know
them. Why? Because I SENSED them. With my mind, I suppose."

"So you're telling me that you're psychic. That's wonderful. But I gotta tell you that the
only psychics I know either run 900-number services or do staged tricks on Sick, Sad World."

Andrea weathered that remark as well as she could. "Actually, I wouldn't call it 'psychic.'
E.S.P., maybe. I'm more of an empath. Or an aura-reader, or some of that new-age garbage. I
can sense feelings and other intangible things, but I couldn't tell you what number you were
thinking of."

"Hmmm, Mrs. Li was right about those RPGs. They really ARE a bad influence. Good thing
she banned them from Lawndale High before it was TOO late.

"Daria, do you REALLY think that I go around telling people this? I could tell this was a
special case, and I thought that just MAYBE you'd be a little more open-minded."

"There's a fine line between open-mindedness and gullibility, Andrea, and I don't feel like
skating it right now."

"Well, for all I've told you, maybe you oughtta start. Here's another fascinating tidbit.
I saw quite an emotional leap in you when this Trent person pulled up. If I didn't know better,
I'd say you were attracted to him."

"WHAT?"

"Yeah, I know, I didn't think you had the capacity for that either, but apparently it's true."

At another time, Daria might have been able to lie, but this whole situation had caught her
off guard. As it was, she could only stammer, "That's...not true!"

One didn't have to have E.S.P. to tell that Daria was covering something up there. Andrea
decided that she'd push Daria a bit harder to get her to come clean. It would probably do her a
lot of good, she thought.

"It is true, Daria, you seem to have a crush going. I got to admit, he is kinda cute. Isn't
he just a bit old, though?"

This brought Daria to the breaking point. "Okay, fine. You've just found out my deepest
god damned secret. You can stop by my house later, and I'll throw you my fucking diary."

"I thought it might feel good for you to let that out."

"Well, seeing that you stole it first, I would like to have it back now, if you don't mind."

"Too bad it doesn't work like that. Anyway, I won't tell anyone else, since I don't believe
in using this talent to run the gossip mill, so don't worry. I know that this jaded exterior of
yours must be hard to keep up sometimes."

"Okay, let's not start psychoanalyzing me. I don't have time for that. Or if I DO have
time, I still lack the patience."

"Now that we've got that out of the way, I guess it won't surprise you that I could also
divine that you were quite green at Rachel."

"I think I might be getting over it. I still wouldn't mind leafing through my copy of Steal
This Book and cooking up something for her."

"Go with it, Daria," Andrea quipped, "Anyway, I then focused my mind on the people in the
car. Trent was glowing, but I suppose you could tell that."

"I dunno, he seemed kinda lethargic to be glowing."

"Yeah, I thought that, too. He was at sort of a loss for energy."

"He always is. But not quite this much."

"Hmmm. Anyway, just before they left, I focused on Rachel. She didn't seem to have quite
the same feelings for Trent as Trent did for her. And when she smiled at him, I felt a chill."

"Damn, I did, too."

"Then Trent peeled out, so I couldn't focus on her for too long. But do you know what the
feeling that I got from her was?"

"I don't know, YOU'RE the psychic."

"Hunger."

"What, she's a cannibal?"

"Not quite that type of hunger. I can't put my finger on it. And there was another thing.
From her aura, for lack of a better word. She doesn't seem human."

"What do you mean?"

"Exactly what I'm saying. I could sense...a sort of animal-like quality to her."

"Well, she does seem just a little too beautiful to be human. And that does explain some
strange things about her, though."

"Like what?"

"Like her hair. Like her eyes. Her pupils aren't round. And they reflect light, like a
cat's eyes at night."

"Are you serious?"

"Dead serious." Andrea could tell that now.

"Wow, that is weird. I think we're onto something here."

Unfortunately, the fifth period warning bell chose that moment to ring. The assorted
students on the lawn began to file in toward the building. Daria could never see that without
immediately thinking of Pavlov's dogs. She also felt the urge to go inside, for they had
conditioned her too, but there was still business to be done here.

"You know," said Daria, "I just remembered, Trent volunteered to pick up me and Jane after
school. He must really be glowing. Anyway...oh Jesus, how do I say this...you suppose you
could possibly...uh..."

"Stake her out?"

"Somthing like that..."

"Rent out my talent?"

"Well maybe not..."

"Yeah, I'll do it. This has piqued my curiosity."

"And since Trent seems to be dating some kind of cat-woman, and a near-total stranger just
told me that I have a thing for him, I think I'm ready to believe anything."

"That's the spirit."

"You sure you don't have to catch a ride?"

"I walk. And I don't have anything to do this afternoon."

"Good. Just sit on the other side of this little entry road and pretend like you're doing
homework."

"Oh boy, undercover work, this sounds fun."

"Just do it."

CHAPTER 7: The Stakeout

Naturally, Daria was unable to concentrate for the rest of the day at school. In fact, for
the first time that she could remember, she was unable to answer when Mr. DeMartino inevitably
called on her for a question about the Mexican War. Coming as it did after three unsuccessful
tries from other students, Mr. DeMartino nearly lost it. Daria thought about changing her bet in
the "When DeMartino Gets Another Heart Attack" pool she kept with Jane, but even that was
pushed out of her mind by the impending Rachel issue. The sheer ludicrosity of the whole
situation also entered Daria's mind, but she decided it was too late to turn back now. We are
now beginning our final descent into Madness, she thought, please return all tray tables to their
full upright and locked positions.

Finally the bell rang and Daria went to her locker to gather her stuff, and then went to the
front lawn to meet Jane.

"By the way, Jane, Trent stopped by during lunch to say hi."

"He did? Was, by any chance, Rachel in the car with him?"

"Yep. She's turning Trent into a nice guy. She must be stopped."

"If I ever see him in a suit and tie, then I'll get concerned."

Andrea was across the street by the Lawndale High sign, as promised. She looked up at Daria
once, and Daria gave a small head nod. Andrea went back to her studies.

A short time later, Trent finally appeared. He pulled the car over.

"Hey everybody, hop in," he said.

"Hey Trent," said Jane, "you look like you could use some sleep."

"Point well taken. Soon as I drop you all off, I'm gonna take a nice long nap."

"Okay, Trent," said Rachel, "Just remember to be up by eight so we can go to the movies."

"I'll set my alarm."

"Hey Rachel, don't you have to work today?" asked Daria.

"I have the day off, thankfully," said Rachel, "That job's a real soul-crusher. It's only
temporary, though."

"You seem to be asking a lot of questions, Daria," said Jane suspiciously, hoping that Daria
wasn't still jealous. This seemed beneath her, but Jane wasn't really sure.

"Okay, you caught me, I'm a Private Investigator, and I'm running a background check.
Admittedly, I'm not very good at it."

Rachel giggled at this. Trent said, "Cool, Daria." Then he finally put the car into first,
taxied out of the parking lot, and took off into the street. Daria hoped that Andrea had enough
time to give a better reading. After that, she wasn't sure what she would do.

****

Upon reaching home, Daria was glad to see that Quinn was for once not on the phone. Daria
snatched it, went into her room and shut the door. For extra security, she put on some music.
Quinn seemed busy organizing her vanity chest, so Daria figured that she would be preoccupied
all day, but there was still need to take precautions, so she took the downstairs phone as well.
She got out the little piece of notebook paper that she wrote Andrea's phone number on, and
dialed it in. Luckily, Andrea herself answered the phone.

"So, Kreskin, did you get any more insight into this matter?" Daria inquired.

"I think I did. It's still fuzzy, though, and I don't think it can get any clearer."

"Just tell me what you know."

"Well, to start with, she's most certainly not human. At least not in the classical sense."

"That's good news to start with. Any ideas on what she might be?" Daria peeked into the
hall to make sure Quinn wasn't listening in. There was no telling what she might imply from this
conversation.

"Well, she looks human, but that doesn't seem to be her primary form."

"What do you mean?"

"I mean that she spends most of her time in another form. That of an animal."

"An animal?"

"Yeah. A forest animal, a carnivore. Not a great man-eater, but something smaller and
quicker. Taking together all I could sense, and adding in the physical factors of her hair and
eyes, I would have to say that she is a fox."

Daria paused a monent before answering. "Andrea, that's not even REMOTELY funny."

"It's not supposed to be."

"A fox?"

"Some kind of fox-creature. I have some books on totemism and mythology. Maybe I can find
it in there."

"I dunno, this is just too weird. I mean, why would a fox or whatever become a beautiful
woman in order to seduce Trent?"

"Maybe he's just THAT cute."

"That's not funny either."

"Funny or not, we can't really do anything until I find out more. I gotta go now, bye."

"Wait-" Andrea hung up. Daria listened to the phone make it's impatient little clicks
before the dial tone came on.

"Terrific."

CHAPTER 8: Behind Her Eyes

And, inevitably, the day passed, and another took its place. At school it was the usual
boring and aggravating routine, only this time Daria was unsure of the fate of a friend. She
looked all around for Andrea, but she couldn't find her. She was just another random student,
after all, and they didn't share any classes. Well, she better show up pretty damn soon, thought
Daria, 'cause she had some 'splainin' to do. But the day ended with no sign of her.

Daria came home and tried to call Andrea, but she wasn't home. So she sat down and did
homework, but it was a slow process. At about 6:30, the phone rang, and a visibly annoyed Quinn
gave it to Daria, saying that it was "that weird art girl that you hang out with." Daria took it
from Quinn, shooed her out of the room, and said hello.

"Daria, do you think that you could come over to my place now?" asked Jane.

"Uh, no, Mom is home early tonight, and she's cooking something special. Lasagna, I think.
So naturally I got to attend. Why?"

"Oh, nothing, I wanted you to give Trent a little company."

"Boy, Jane, this is your most direct attempt yet. You must really want me and him together."

"It's not that, Daria. Trent is sick."

"He is?"

"Yeah, he's been in bed all morning, says he's too weak to get up. Looks like he really
means it, too. Plus, he's kinda pale. I think Rachel gave him mono, or something."

So that's the evil plan, Daria thought ruefully to herself. "Well, I'm sorry, maybe I'll
call you later tonight."

"That's cool. Bye."

"Bye."

Mono, hmmmmm. Daria tried to call Andrea again, but she still wasn't there.

****

"Man, this is great lasagna!" said Jake over-enthusiastically.

"Thank you, honey," said Helen, "How about you girls?"

"It's good," said both Daria and Quinn, with considerably less enthusiasm. With that, Helen
relaunched into her epic tales of her day at the firm. Jake did his obligatory smiling and nodd-
ing while busying himself with the newspaper. Daria and Quinn picked at their lasagna in silence
until the phone rang. Helen reached for the phone, and Quinn sprung into action.

"If it's Tommy, I'm not home, if it's Jason, I'm not interested in him in that way, if it's
Ryan, I don't live here anymore, and if it's Clive, Chase, or Josh, then gimme the phone!"

Helen gave her a look, and answered the phone. "Hello? Yes, but you'll have to make it
quick, we're eating dinner. Daria, it's for you."

The usual surprise at getting a call passed over Daria briefly, and then she took the phone.

"Hello?"

"Hey, this is Andrea. I'm at the library, and I've found some fascinating info. I suggest
that you see it for yourself."

"Uh, okay, could I at least finish dinner first?"

"Yeah, but hurry up. This is important."

"Yeah, okay, bye."

"Bye."

Daria pushed the phone's POWER button. "Uh, Mom? I was just reminded that I need to meet
someone at the library for a school project. Could I possibly get a ride?"

"Daria, I have some important work to get done tonight."

"More important than your daughter's educational future?"

"Well-"

"Mom, I'm the one with potential, remember? You wouldn't want to squander that, would you?"

Helen cracked. "All right, FINE, Daria, I'll give you a ride, and call me when you're ready
to go home."

"Thank you."

****

Andrea met Daria outside of the county library, which overlooked Hargrove's Woods not far
from the 9-To-5 Mart. They went inside, and Andrea led Daria to the table she was working at.

"By the way, did you read my mind to get my phone number?" asked Daria.

"Hell no, I looked it up in the phone book. How many Morgendorffers do you think there are
in this town? Besides, I already told you that my abilities don't work that way."

"Right, right. Now anyway, are you sure you couldn't just tell me about this over the phone?"

"You seem like the skeptical type."

"Well anyway, Mulder, what did you find?"

"Some confirmation of my suspicions."

Daria looked at the table, which had a number of books on Chinese and Japanese mythology
strewn about.

"Confirmation?"

"I told you before that Rachel appears to be some sort of fox/human being, right?"

"You told me that."

"Well, most of the mythology and folklore of the Far East tells of these foxes, which today
are commonly known as 'kitsune', which is a Japanese word."

"Japanese for what?"

"Fox."

"Makes sense."

"Says they transform themselves into beautiful girls or boys, in order to seduce or make
mischief with people. According to myth, these women are more seductive than any human
woman, which would explain how she reeled Trent in. Have you ever noticed any strange odors
about her?"

"Well, I used a toilet after she did. Well, actually I didn't use it, because it smelled...
skunky."

"Aha. That's one way to tell. No matter what form they take, they never lose their natural
scent. Although humans could probably only detect it through urine."

"So then, another animal, like, say, a dog, could probably smell it right away."

"You catch on fast. That's the most tried-and-true test of the kitsune. Sic the dogs on
her. Sometimes they'll scare the kitsune so badly that it will revert back to their fox form."

"Well this is all truly fascinating, but-"

"It gets weirder. Do you remember how pale and tired Trent was yeterday?"

"Yeah, in fact, Jane just called to say that he's even worse today. Says he can't even get
out of bed."

"That's really bad news. The intentions of fox-women vary, but there are some that seduce
their victims so that they can drain them of their vitality, of their...being, of their...life
force, for lack of a better word. They can do this to a succession of victims to prolong their
own existence."

"Sort of like Liz Taylor," quipped Daria.

"If Trent is in as bad a condition as you say he is, she might only need one more time with
him to finish the job and return to the forest."

By this point, Daria was becoming quite overwhelmed. "Wait, time out," she said, "this is
insane. Completely insane."

"You're telling me."

"You don't understand. What if we're just chasing a bunch of ridiculous coincidences? I
mean, a Chinese myth? What's a Chinese myth doing in America, let alone Lawndale? What's a
Chinese myth doing ANYWHERE?! It's all insane, and I don't feel like going insane until I turn 18
and can move into a shack in Montana."

Andrea looked frustrated, then offered her opinion. "Look, I honestly don't know why it's
happening here, maybe she hopped on a plane. But I can tell you two things. One, I know this is
real, I can sense it. And you'll just have to trust me, because you already know that I know a
thing or two about you that logically, I can't know. But I found out, the same way I found this
out. I wouldn't lie about ANY of this, Daria, why would I? I hardly even knew you before yester-
day. Two, you were first to notice that there was something wrong with her. How did you know?"

"Well, the hair, the smell, the eyes, mostly the eyes."

"Exactly. It wasn't all physical things, was it? A good part of it must have been behind
her eyes, right?"

"Behind her eyes?"

"Intuition, Daria. What I'm trying to say is TRUST your intuitions. Your gut feelings are
what alerted you to her true nature. Your gut feelings don't lie."

"I'm having a gut feeling right now. In fact, I think I might vomit."

"As for me, I have to use the bathroom. Be right back."

She sure knows how to make an exit, thought Daria.

****

Andrea passed the circulation desk on the way to the resrooms, and there, standing off to the
side, was her father. He was a big, intimidating man, a retired Naval officer, and his presence
got Andrea's immediate attention, as it always did.

"Come on, you've been here long enough, we've got to get to your sister's recital,"

"But Dad, I have still have important work to do!"

"You can do it afterwards, it won't be long. Besides, you promised her you'd be there."

"It must have been in one of my weaker moments," said Andrea in a Daria-esque tone.

"Either way, you're going, and you're going now," said her father firmly.

"Dad-"

"No excuses. After all, it might be good for you to see one of your family members doing
something normal."

"Please don't get into this again..." pleaded Andrea as she was led into the parking lot.

Ten minutes later, Daria checked the women's restroom. She's probably doing her makeup,
thought Daria, it must take a lot of effort to stay looking so gaunt. But when she didn't find
Andrea in there, or in any other part of the library, her annoyance turned to anger. Daria
considered calling her mother, but then remembered that Rachel's apartment complex wasn't too
far away. Gut feelings, huh? She decided to find out for herself.

TO BE CONTINUED...