Burned Out

Chapter 10: The Hoosegow

Jennifer smiled at Daria so carefully closing the car door, so as to not wake her parents. "See you at school on Monday," the blonde said with a grin.

Daria held up a finger in front of her mouth as she shushed her friend. "Shh! Yeah, I'll see you tomorrow," she whispered.

Shaking her head as she turned back to her sister, Jennifer said, "Try not to backfire. I'd hate to see all her effort at sneaking be for nothing."

"Pfft. Oh, ye of little faith," Samantha said, blowing a raspberry. "I'll have you know that I had Lisa tune up Mr. Muscles just last month." The engine purred throatily as she eased away from the house, but failed to make any appreciable noise. Samantha stuck out her tongue at her younger sister and gunned the engine when they had reached the end of the block.

"Lisa's still agreeing to that deal? She truly is an exemplar of inertia."

"Hey, it's a good deal for her, too," Samantha said defensively. "She keeps Mr. Muscles running, in return, she'll never have to chip in for gas, and I'll take her wherever she needs to go so long as I'm not working or chauffeuring family."

Jennifer shrugged. "Well, it's between the two of you, I guess. You all coming to the roller-hockey game this year?"

Samantha grinned at her sister. "As if I'd miss it. Monique's going to bow out, though; says she and Trent are going out that night. Hopefully, it won't affect our rehearsal the following night."

"So their schedules finally lined up? Is there a planetary conjunction, as well?"

Samantha barked out a hearty laugh. "You'd think with Trent's... less than ideal employment status, he'd be a little more accommodating to Mo, but he insists his band practice more, now that he has free time."

Jennifer rolled her eyes. "I'd call into question the value of their practicing, but glass houses, and all that."

"I'd say good on you for even recognizing the glass house, but you have to admit that the Harpies and Spiral aren't even in the same ballpark," Samantha replied. She leaned over and stage whispered to her, "But you didn't hear that from me."

Jennifer grinned back. "Yeah, don't want Aello to hear that."

Samantha's grin widened as she drove them home.

(\ /)

( . .)

*(")(")

"So instead of saying, 'Don't come home so late,' now they've created some elaborate punishment system," Daria said as she retrieved her books from her locker.

Jennifer arched an eyebrow at her. "Sounds vaguely inquisition-ish. Should I ready a stake for you and Quinn?"

Daria shook her head. "More like Family Court, but the end result will be much the same, I imagine."

"Jurisprudence? Yikes."

"Technically, it's due process," Daria replied. "Jurisprudence is the science or philosophy of law, rather than its actual execution."

Checking to make sure she had the correct book for her next few classes, Jennifer asked, "Do you think they're even going to pretend to be impartial, or will this be a kangaroo court?"

Daria closed her locker and spun the combination dial. "Given that these are my parents we're talking about, and it's one of their rules I somehow 'broke' before it even existed, what do you think?"

Jennifer smirked. "So, you want to stop by the pet store on the way home and see if they sell marsupial kibble?"

They were interrupted as Jodie walked up to them, clipboard in hand like a mall survey-taker. "Hey, you guys wanna buy tickets for the faculty-DJ roller hockey game?"

Daria looked at her as if she had just asked if they wanted to steep in a tub of mustard. "Are you kidding?"

Jennifer grinned, however. "We'll take five." She looked at Jodie's her face, unasked question plain. "Two for us, and three for my sister, and band mates."

Daria looked at her friend as if she had just upped the ante to rolling around in month-old dead skunk. "What? You're gonna pay to watch teachers skate around with DJs? Classic rock DJs?"

Jodie shook her head with a smile. "You weren't here last year, Daria. Mr. DeMartino was body checked by 'Rock and Roll Randy', and suffered a heart attack right there on the gym floor. He had to have an emergency angioplasty. He almost died."

Jennifer picked up the thread and clenched her hand into a fist dramatically. "But the DeMartinos are made of sterner stuff. He not only recovered enough for his doctor to okay his playing, but he's been training for this very night. This will be his revenge and redemption all in one. I've heard him muttering about how he's going to take down He-who-spins-the-disks."

With a confused expression, Daria asked, "He-who- What are you saying?"

"You know how there are people who go to car races on the chance that they might see a crash?" Jodie asked.

Needing no more prompting, Daria pulled out a ten dollar bill. "I'm in."

(\ /)

( . .)

*(")(")

Jennifer walked into her house, dropping her backpack by the coffee table. "I'm home," she shouted to no one in particular.

Her mother poked her head out of the kitchen and smiled at her youngest-born. "Welcome home, Sweetie. How was school?"

"Slow news day, Mom?"

Kimberly smirked and flicked a dough-covered hand at her, spraying the girl with flecks of dough. "Cute. Just for that, no seconds on the pot pie I'm making for dinner."

The blonde paused as she entered the kitchen and pouted at her mother, her one visible eye getting dewy with tears. "You wouldn't deny your growing daughter a badly needed nutritious meal, would you?"

Samantha walked in from the garage, carrying a plastic grocery bag. "I dunno, Mom. Looks like she's done enough growing for the year, to me."

"Nobody pulled your string, Peanut Gallery," Jennifer said, sticking out her tongue.

"Sounds like she doesn't want any cookies for dessert, either," the white-haired woman said as she pulled out a clear plastic container of chocolate chip cookies from the bakery.

Jennifer fell to her knees and latched onto her mother around the waist. "Mo~ooom! Sam's being mean to me!"

Samantha flicked the top of her head. "Tattletale."

Kimberly shook her head at their antics. "Keep it up, and there'll be two girls in this house going to bed with no dessert!"

"No need to deny yourself, Mom. Your figure's still pretty rockin'," Samantha replied. She looked down at Jennifer and asked, "So, are they selling the tickets, yet? We've already cleared our calendar for that night."

Putting a doughy finger to her chin, Kimberly mused, "I wonder if I should have the chief send a reporter this year. I'd hate to miss something like last year, and have to rely on second-hand accounts."

"Definitely," both daughters said in unison.

(\ /)

( . .)

*(")(")

Samantha leaned on the counter as she waited for her slice of pizza, making idle talk with her sister. "So, any chance of a reprieve from the Justice?"

Jennifer shook her head. "You know how they say that Tin Pot Dictators are very protective of their authority? Well, imagine if their authority extended only as far as an actual tin pot, but are made to believe that it's an actual country."

Samantha rolled her eyes. "Guess the others are going to be happy-" Her eyes got wide and her already pale complexion went sheet-white as she brought a hand up to cover her mouth.

"What's that supposed to mean?" Jennifer asked, her eyes narrowing.

"Look," Samantha pleaded, "They're just been real happy to have you around more this past week. Ever since you met Daria, you've sacrificing some band time to spend with her- not that we blame you! We think it's great that you've expanded your circle of friends, even by one, but you've been spending a lot of your free time with her. The girls all think of you as their own surrogate little sister, and they've noticed how much of your time is split between us and her. We just... miss you," she finished lamely.

Jennifer sighed. "I guess I can see that. Just make sure that they don't look too happy when you tell them. Daria's my friend, after all. I feel bad abandoning her to Mo's living room and crappy stolen cable TV so I can practice in the garage. Even if she says she doesn't mind it, I feel bad about it."

Samantha nodded, and served up the slice of pizza she had ordered. "Message received, Sis."

Picking up her slice, Jennifer walked over to an empty booth and sat down. She was about to bite into it, when she heard Kevin's voice behind her.

"Then she said her parents are trying to change her generic makeup or something!"

Jennifer shook her head and was again about to bite down when Brittany's helium-like voice cut through the din.

"They really should. I hate that generic makeup. It gives me hives!"

Not for the first time, Jennifer wondered if Brittany was faking a low IQ so as to not be labeled a brain, or if she really was that dumb. She had to keep a "C" average to remain on the cheerleader squad, after all, and there was only so much she could copy from Angie or the other squad mates.

"But it's so freaky, babe, I mean, she's weird enough as it is," Kevin replied.

Jennifer had heard enough. Appetite completely gone, she angrily stood and stalked out of the restaurant, leaving the pizza slice behind. Brittany gasped as she finally noticed her, and smacked Kevin on the arm.

"Ow! Hey, what was that for?"

(\ /)

( . .)

*(")(")

Once again, O'Neill's class had degenerated into a free-for-all he liked to call "Self-Study". Dodging a paper airplane thrown by that artsy girl in the corner that rarely spoke to anyone, Jennifer said, "Really, Daria? A harmonica? I thought you'd be above such clich├ęs."

The auburn haired girl shook her head, dislodging another paper airplane stuck there. "I think it's extra powerful in this case, though. When my dad was in Buxton Ridge, he said his harmonica was his only real friend."

"Ah. Playing to the audience," Jennifer said and nodded sagely.

"Literally and figuratively, in this case," Daria replied with a barely visible smirk.

(\ /)

( . .)

*(")(")

Jennifer was surprised when Jodie sat down to enjoy lunch together on the grass outside the cafeteria, but was an expert at hiding her real emotions, at least from those with whom she only casually associated. The mystery ended when the black girl finally got around to what she really wanted.

"Kevin's all weirded out. He says her parents have come up with some sick punishment that gives her hives."

Jennifer's normally bland expression soured a little, causing Jodie to rear back a little in surprise. "Kevin can go soak his head, for all I care." Her expression returned to neutral as she expounded. "As for Daria's punishment, it's not really as horrific as you might think. Mainly, they're just sitting around, getting on each other's nerves. Personally, I doubt they'll make it the whole month. Already, the elder Morgendorffers are showing the strain, and Quinn isn't much better off. I have it on good authority that she's actually considering reading. For fun."

Jodie picked at the grass, letting the plucked blades fly free in the wind. "Still..."

Rolling her eyes, Jennifer gritted her teeth. She was really hoping to avoid having to do this, but it appeared she had no choice. "Look, if it will stop you from calling CPS on them, I'll take you over and you can see for yourself, okay?"

Jodie gave her a shy smile.

(\ /)

( . .)

*(")(")

As they left the school grounds, Jodie remarked, "I just don't understand why we couldn't ask Mr. Morgendorffer for a lift while he was here. I mean, we are going to the same destination, after all."

Jennifer rolled her eyes again. How can such a smart girl be so dumb? "Three reasons. First of all, she's been put on restriction. Now, I know you've probably never done anything to warrant such a punishment from your parents, so I'll explain. That means that she isn't allowed to associate with friends or classmates outside of school or approved and supervised study sessions." She ignored the irked look Jodie gave her and continued on. "Secondly, asking him for a ride would mean having to tell him why we need one in the first place, defeating the purpose of a surprise visit. Thirdly, this gives them a chance to get into their routine activities, and catch them with their defenses down, when we ring the doorbell."

They continued their walk in silence for a few minutes, until Jodie said, "You're a lot cattier without Daria around."

Jennifer sighed and her shoulders slumped. "Sorry. I've just missed hanging out with my best and only friend; at least in my age group. Add to that all the rumors going around about me and her, and top it off with me overhearing Kevin call Daria 'weird' and 'freaky', and I tend to get a little... bellicose."

Jodie actually appeared contrite. "No, I'm sorry. I didn't even think how this might be affecting you. While I can't help time go by faster, I can help with the other two things, at least. I'll talk to Brittany about Kevin, and if I hear any... rumors about you and Daria, I'll do what I can to squash them, though I honestly have to say that I haven't heard any, myself."

The corners of Jennifer's mouth turned up just a little. "Thanks, Jodie. I'm sure Daria would appreciate it."

"Two things you should know, however," Jodie replied. "I kinda doubt Kevin was being malicious. That's just how he sees anyone who doesn't worship at the goalpost. Anyone who would rather read than watch a good football game may as well be from another planet to him. I can't even remember how many times he called me 'that weird, brainy black chick' before Mack finally got him to stop. Second, it just so happens that I have in fact, been put on restriction before. Getting a 'B' in geometry might not be so bad for the average student, but in my parent's house, it earned me three weeks of personal tutoring from my uncle, who's a math professor at Brown, not to mention having to work at my mom's firm for a month in lieu of my normal free time activities."

Jennifer grimaced. "Ouch. Indignation withdrawn."

Jodie shrugged. "It's fine. No way you could have known. I don't exactly advertise it. Anyway, 'bellicose'? If anything, meeting Daria has been good for your vocabulary," she said with a smile.

Jennifer shrugged and blushed. "Yeah, she tends to have that effect." They finally arrived at Daria's house, and could hear muffled voices from inside. She rang the doorbell and waited for a reply. They could just barely make out Helen saying that Jake could not revoke Daria's restriction just because he was losing, before the door opened. Peering around Daria, they could see Helen and Jake sitting on the floor around the coffee table, where a Monopoly board was set up.

Daria blinked at them a moment before Jennifer said, "See? She's fine."

Jodie actually sounded a bit disappointed as she said, "I guess so."

"Although her clothes could be concealing electrode burns," Jennifer mused.

Daria finally asked, "What are you talking about?"

Jennifer answered, "Apparently, there have been some rumors going around about your parents torturing you and Quinn."

"It's been Hell in there," Daria replied. "Monopoly. Scrabble. Pictionary. I didn't even know we had a Pictionary set."

"Any idea when they'll finally break?" Jennifer asked.

Daria squared her shoulders and looked grim and determined. "Who cares? I'm done."

Jodie looked shocked as she asked, "You mean..."

With a nod, Daria said, "That's right. I'm bustin' out."

(\ /)

( . .)

*(")(")

Jennifer sat at her desk, scribbling out nonsense with one hand while the other held the phone, in the vain hopes that some decent lyrics would resolve themselves from the jumble. So far, it was proving to be as useless as she had thought it would be. "So, what's the plan?"

"I made a tape of my harmonica music, I can climb down the lattice in under three minutes, and I know exactly how often the neighborhood security guy drives by."

"So, will you be going for the standard spy outfit, or will you be going full ninja tonight?" Jennifer asked with a smirk. She wrote down, "Ninja Spy" before crossing it out just as quickly.

Daria's amusement came through loud and clear as she replied, "Cute." There was a pause as she said, "Hold on. Got another call."

There was another, lengthier pause before she came back. "Jenn?"

"Hanging on your every word," she said.

There was another slight pause. "Ugh. Stupid call waiting. Hang on."

Yet another lengthy pause stalled the conversation until Daria returned again. "Jenn?"

"Still here."

"New plan. Come over and pick me up. I'll be at the front door."

Jennifer's smile returned in full force. "Let me guess; they both had to work late tonight."

"I'm more upset at myself for not predicting it, than for it happening at all," Daria snarked.

(\ /)

( . .)

*(")(")

Daria and four of the five Harpies walked into the gymnasium, with the game already in progress.

"Think anything has happened, yet?" Daria asked as they took their seats.

"Nah. The ambulance is still in the parking lot," Samantha answered.

"Plus, there's no blood on the floor," Lisa added.

Jennifer shook her head. "Optimists; the lot of you."

Sylvie pointed towards the floor where the action was, her bountiful assets contained by a T-shirt two sizes too small drawing the eye of many a male (and a few females) in the room. "Look! There he is!"

Mr. DeMartino was in the middle of a scrimmage for the puck with almost a dozen other players from both sides. Slowly, the players all backed off to form a perimeter around Mr. DeMartino and Rock and Roll Randy, who were circling one another.

"Looks like we were just in time," Jennifer said to Daria, not taking her eyes off of the action. Daria just nodded and leaned forward in her seat.

"Go, Mr. D!" Samantha shouted.

The action came to head, as Mr. DeMartino managed to steal the puck from under Randy's nose and skate off towards the goal. However, it wasn't meant to be, as Randy came up from behind and slashed at his knee with his stick. The teacher went down, clutching his wounded knee, while the deejay continued towards the goal, whooping for joy.

Immediately, the Harpies rose as one, booing the foul. Their negative reaction wasn't the only one, as Ms. Barch stormed the "field" and put Randy into a headlock.

As more students and faculty rushed out to join in the fun, Jennifer turned to Daria. "Best time I've ever spent in school."

Daria turned to her, subtle smile firmly in place. "Sure beats Monopoly."

(\ /)

( . .)

*(")(")

Jennifer swallowed the bite of pizza before saying, "So you convinced them that their punishment was more trouble for them, than it was for you?"

Daria wiped her hand on a napkin and nodded. "Essentially. I would go further to say that I was just too boring to punish, but I'm not quite that self-deprecating." Kevin walked up to their table, paper plate of pizza in hand and stared at Daria. "Kevin, I already told you, my parents did not conduct experiments on me."

Kevin waved her off as if he already knew that. "I know, I know. But seriously, now tell me the truth."

Daria heaved a great sigh. "All right. I had a magnetic device implanted in my head."

Pumping his free arm, he replied, "I knew it! What does it do?"

With her signature deadpan expression, Daria answered, "It attracts gullible boys."

"Cool," Kevin said with a nod. "Is it working?"

"It's working right now."

Kevin grinned at her stupidly for a moment before he caught on to what she had said. "Whoa! Dude! That is very uncool."

As the indignant boy walked off, Daria remarked, "There is no sadder sight in the world than a football player trying to think."

"Einstein?" Jennifer asked.

Daria smirked a little as she said, "I believe it was Jefferson."

A/N: I find it a bit ironic that the strongest parts of the story seem to be the new stuff I've added, and the weakest is the old dialogue I'm retreading. Maybe it's the familiarity breeding contempt?