Disclaimer : I don't own Daria. I just use someone else's
intellectual property for my own fun and non-profit. But
I respect the creators of Daria, and the other property
I appropriated.

*******************

Some people said seniors "ruled the school", but Daria compared
it to being one step above the untouchables : the Fashion
Brahmin held sway over all, even in 2001-02. Jane was looking
forward to her last year in "the fountainhead of stupidity".
The other Lawndalians had one last year to make their dreams
come true before being scattered to the winds.

Quinn was now a junior and resolved to be the smartest *and*
most fashionable young woman at Lawndale High. If she couldn't
have *both*, she'd settle for "most fashionable". Sandi,
Tiffany, and Stacy stepped into their past roles like comfortable
old shoes. Daria was glad to know that some things were still
predictable. "Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose", she
reminded herself. "Quel dommage."

Meanwhile, those beneath notice -- the freshmen -- were enjoying
their first taste of sophomore freedom. Principal Angela Li,
however, was worried that there might be rumblings of discontent.

Carverville High School had closed down due to lack of funds, and
part of the Carverville Independent School District had been
folded into the Lawndale School District. Carverville's junior
high schools kept to the 7-8-9 grade schedule instead of the
5-6-7-8 associated with Lawndale Middle School. Many of the parents
with students at Carverville were sending their children to
Washington High. The result was that most of Lawndale High's
new students would be sophomores, from a completely different
school district.

All Angela Li needed were Othmar's Disciplinary Files. Principal
Othmar, in her final act before retirement, turned over her
documents to Principal Li of Lawndale. Li had a busy summer.
She had to know which oddballs to weed out before they contaminated
the glory of Lawndale High.

********************************************

"Fresh meat," muttered Jane, as she watched the chaos of freshmen
-- and sophomores -- trying to find their first class of the day
and being given misleading information. "My money's that it will
take two periods to restore order."

"Oh, ignorant one," said Daria, "you underestimate Principal Li.
I'm surprised the new kids haven't been laser tattooed by now."

"Of course, it's in our best interests to preserve disorder."

"Spoken like Mayor Daley", answered Daria.

"I mean, c'mon...we're seniors! What kind of seniors would be
be if we didn't abuse our newfound power?"

"The kind of seniors that wouldn't turn my stomach."

"Everything turns your stomach."

At that time, the Fashion Club found itself trailed by five or
six Fashion Wannabees. Brooke followed the group, a figure even
more pathetic than Stacy Rowe. Other, leaner freshman and sophomores
trailed along, with one particularly loud brunette making a number
of cutting remarks.

"You're right," said Daria. "And me, without my Maalox. So...do
we have *any* classes together this year?"

Jane looked over her card. "Hmm...Ms. Bennett in Macroeconomics.
Ms. DeFoe in Art History II. Aside from that," frowned Jane,
"nada."

"The computer gods hate me," answered Daria.

"Well, it's off to the guidance counselor," said Jane, "struggling
through Survey of World Literature isn't going to be the same
without you, Daria."

"It looks like my classes are all 'advance track'," said Daria.

"So Jodie Landon will be the only one to appreciate your rapier
wit?"

"Well," sighed Daria, "Captain's Log...Lawndale. Senior Year.
Seeing no other choice, I will have to surrender the Enterprise
immediately."

"I don't know," smiled Jane, "until I can get some of my classes
changed, others will have to bask in your company. I suggest
pepper spray. Much less expensive than mace."

"Thank you, G. Gordon Liddy." There was no more time to talk.
The bell had rang.

************************************************

"Welcome," said Mr. O'Neill, "to World Literature. You know...
we think that literature belongs to *ourselves*...but instead,
literature belongs to the *world*!"

"Or," muttered Daria, surveying the textbook, "to dead nineteenth
century European males."

"I hope that our experience will not only be an *educational* one,
but a *multicultural* one as well!"

"Why does he look at me everytime he says 'multicultural'?", asked
Jodie.

"Don't press the point," said Daria, "he undoubtedly has a lot of
guilt. Never make the teacher cry on the first day of class. It
takes all the fun out of the rest of the year."

"And I am so glad to see such fresh young faces, juniors *and*
sophomores, from Carverville High!"

"If he only knew their fresh young names," said Daria, "there would
be peace on earth and good will toward men."

Coming into class late was a young redhead, wearing a scarf and
dark glasses.

"Oh, no," said Daria. "I'm already in hell. And only ten minutes
into senior year."

"Quinn!", said Mr. O'Neill, "I'm glad you could make it!"

"Eap!", shouted Quinn. "Like, not so loudly, Mr. O'Neill! I...uh...
have a head cold! And, like, loud noises aren't good for you!"

"How can you have a head cold if your head is filled with cotton?",
said Daria.

Quinn rapidly found an empty seat, in the back, as far away from
Daria as possible.

"How did *that* happen?", said Jodie.

"I don't want to know. Except that I am now sharing a class with
Quinn. What could be worse?" For the rest of the year, she'd
be 'Quinn's cousin'. Egad.

"We will now start with a man...or perhaps, even a woman!...who
fills me with the hope and mystery of Ancient Greece...a violent,
and perhaps," said Mr. O'Neill, "even scary time. A man called....
Homer!"

"D'oh!", said Daria. It was going to be a long year.

*******************

Quinn couldn't believe it! I mean...it was true that World Literature
was being offered this year instead of American Lit...but...
shouldn't she be in the class with Sandi, and Tiffany, and Stacy?
Instead, she was in the...geek class! Major loss of popularity!!
She would tell everyone that she was taking French! That was it!
The Fashion Club would never take a class like that! She would
just have to remember to say "oui" a lot....

Mr. O'Neill continued to read from *The Iliad*. She had all of
her stuff. Lavender organizer. Fuzzy puff pencil. Tastefully
multicolored ink. She would learn, and learn...with style!

She was missing something, though, and she couldn't put her finger
on it. "Carlos," said Mr. O'Neill....

"...*ahem*. That's *Charles*, sir. Charles Ruttheimer the Third.
I merely repeat that for the benefit of the beautiful young
ladies arriving from Carverville!"

"After all," said Daria, "misery loves company."

"Ahem...yes...heh, heh...*Charles*! If you would read from the
passage at the top of Page Five...."

Charles began to read. It sounded nice, to Quinn, for once.
Upchuck's mellow tones could put her to sleep, at least. She
wondered what he was reading from. It was all Greek to her.

Reading...which implies...*a book*! Uh oh! Mr. O'Neill must have
handed out all the books earlier in class! Damn the Fall
School Issue of Waif! She just *had* to decide between taffeta
and burgundy! Could she help it if she wanted to make a good
first impression? Unlike her sister, who fell into the closet
and wandered out with the same grey rags she wore every year!
Why, oh why, was it a burden to be so cute and popular?

"Excuse me," said a young man behind Quinn. He wore glasses
and wore a woolen sweater, and looked as if he had a bad hair
day. A large, black book sat on the desk next to his copy of
the World Lit textbook. "If it would make things easier for you,
you may have my book."

"Thanks," said Quinn, offhandedly. "Like...are you popular or
something?"

"I don't think so," he said, humbly, "I merely strive to attain
knowledge in its most mundane forms. I am an unimportant seeker of
wisdom."

*A geek.* Right. "And your name?", said Quinn, only in case
the Fashion Club had to add him to their dossier.

"Linus van Pelt."

"And why are you giving *me* your book, where there must be more
popular people in the room I could borrow a book from?"

Linus looked puzzled. "I supposed it was the right thing to do."

It was a simple answer, one Quinn could find no fault in, no matter
how hard she tried. "And what's the other book?"

"Oh," smiled Linus, "my Bible."

AAAAAGGGGHHHH!! Religious geek!! Run!! "Uh," mumbled Quinn,
"thanks." She scrunched down in her seat, hoping to avoid any
future attention from Mr. van Pelt.

**************************

Class ended. Quinn was in a hurry to get out as quickly as possible.
She almost escaped until a firm, iron hand gripped her shoulder.

"Ease up, Joseph Campbell", said Daria.

"Eewwww! Like, stop touching me!!"

"I will, if you agree to a few rules."

"Like what?"

"First, you do not acknowledge my presence here in any way, shape,
or form. I'll do the same for you. Second, be quiet at all times.
There might be a few people in this room who want to learn something,
as impossible as it may seem. If you can do that, I'll try to lower
my grades enough as to not completely wreck the curve."

"Done! But you *have* to get me a new World Lit book! The one
I have is covered in *geek*!"

"Why fight off your admirers with a stick when you can bludgeon them
to death with your winning personality?"

"Shut up! Here," Quinn said, taking the book and shoving in into
Daria's hands. "Disinfect this! *You* already *have* the disease!"
With that, Quinn scampered out.

"Daria?", asked Jodie.

"Don't ask," Daria mumbled. "That was a Quinn moment. One of
several I don't look forward to."

"Well, maybe you can give the poor guy his book back."

"Does that necessitate human contact?" Jodie's only response to
Daria's quip was a steely-eyed glare.

"Oh...okay." Daria walked over to Linus's desk.

"Did I offend?", asked Linus, retrieving his book.

"No. Quinn is offensive enough for two people. I suspect you're
new here. My only advice...if you hear the words, 'Quinn', 'Stacy',
'Tiffany', or 'Sandi', run for the hills. Also, be aware of
a strange young man wearing a football uniform. The police think
he escaped from an asylum. He is considered dumb and extremely
dangerous."

"Thank you. I'm Linus van Pelt." Linus extended his hand.

"Daria Morgendorffer. You look a little young for World Lit."

"I'm on the fast academic track, it appears."

Daria noticed the Bible. "If you start trying to spread the
joys of the Unification Church, we're *not* going to get along."

"I would do no such thing. It's for my own personal use."

"Yes...your very showy and public personal use."

"All I can say is, 'a soft answer turneth away wrath'."

Daria said, "Forgive me if I don't persecute you for your religion."

"No problem," answered Linus.

"Linus! Pardon me!", said a voice from near the doorway. It was
the voice of a young man who wore his hair in a blonde crew-cut that
was the wrong match for his round head. He had an air of helplessness
about him.

"Do you know," he asked, "where I can find -- "

He was immediately hit in the face with a banana peel. Laughter
could be heard from outside the door. "Loser!", someone shouted.

"Oh dear," said Mr. O'Neill, finally turning his attention to the
outside world! "Come in!" Students from second period began
filling the classroom.

Daria remembered being hit in the face with a tomato slice years
earlier in Highland. Kids were completely cruel.

Linus pulled out a hankerchief and began rubbing the victim's face.
The victim grabbed the hankerchief, and angrily began cleaning himself
off. "The day only gets worser and worser," he said to himself.

"Tell me about it," said Daria. "Daria Morgendorffer."

"Charles Brown."

"But we call him 'Charlie Brown'," said Linus, happily. Charlie
Brown glared back at him. "Well...you rarely go by your given
name."

"Hey, blockhead!", a loud, feminine voice called from outside the
door. "You're going to be late to your history class! Doesn't
the 'Geek Club' meet *after* school? HA HA HAH HAHA HAHAH!!!"

"Crab!", shouted Linus. Linus delivered it as if it were
the ultimate insult.

"You wait till you get home, Linus! We'll settle things there!!"

The three left the room. "Who was that?", asked Daria.

"My sister, Lucy," said Linus. "She's the 'Queen of Crabs'!"

"Let's get to class," said Daria, "so we can join the wretchedly
ignored."

"That was my first goal," was all Charlie Brown had to say.

***************************************************************

"Well, Marcie, it's going to be a wonderful year at Highland! I
can't wait to get those ol' Lions roaring! There's football,
and baseball, and track, and...what else do they have, Marcie?"

"Hmmm," said the young lady standing next to Patty Clayton.
"I also think they have swimming, Sir."

"*Stop*," said Patty, looking around, "stop calling me *Sir*! I
mean, you could do it when we were kids, but if you do it around
here, they're gonna think I'm a lesbo!"

"Sorry! Uh...Patty. But...don't you have classes? Isn't this
athletic schedule a bit...rigorous?"

Patty tied her long red hair into a ponytail with a clean shoelace.
"Nah! Have you followed the career of the great Kevin Thompson?
From what I hear, Marse...if you're any good at athletics, you can
rule the school! Goodbye to the ol' 'D-minus' average from
Carverville! Yup! I can be Homecoming Queen! And...King, if I
wanna be! Wouldn't that be so *sweet*?"

"Isn't that called 'wallowing in your own ignorance'...Patty?"

"Please, Marcie! You have to have optimism! You know, if you'd get
your nose out of a book every now and then...put a little luster in
those cheeks...take the glasses off...you could have an interesting
social life!"

"Directed by *you*, Sir?"

"Stop call-- oh, forget it!" It was hopeless. "By the way, Marcie,
have you seen ol' Chuck?"

"The last time I saw him...he was practicing for the Lawndale Varsity
baseball team!"

Patty covered her eyes with her hand. "Jesus! He's gonna get killed out
there!"

"You know, Sir, Lawndale hasn't had a baseball team in twelve years...something
about liability issues...." Wistfully, Marcie thought about the future.
"He's bound to make the team...."

"My *God*!", Patty said, grabbing Marcie, "he could be *killed* out there!
Killed! C-I-L-L-E-D, killed!! Carverville was a small town! This is the
big leagues! They let guys play who wear real spikes! Metal ones!"

"You can't protect him all your life...*Patty*!" Marcie stifled a
curse. Of course Marcie knew where he played! She had followed Charles
around like a lovesick puppy all her life, and Patty always stuck
her big nose in the middle of any chances she had. For a best friend,
Patty was a cementhead. The woman literally never took "no" for an
answer! Sometimes, Marcie wished she would just...shut up. Mousy little
Marcie, she.

"Listen...ol' Chuck just needs some guidance! C'mon, Marcie! It's time
to practice our baseball skills!"

"*Our* skills?"

"You used to play, too!"

*Not because I wanted to*, Marcie told herself. Then again, maybe
Patty had a point. Patty could be oddly precognitive. Charles and a
live baseball usually added up to disaster.

***********************************

It was time for the daily Lawndale post-mortem. Jane and Daria caught up
with each other after school.

"Daria."

"*Lane.*"

"Did you survive?"

"Barely. I can hardly wait until summer gets here and I'm loosed upon an
unsuspecting world."

"Ditto. There's another athlete in DeMartino's class who's a real winner.
Her name's Patty Clayton, but they call her 'Peppermint Patty'. She
fell asleep in his class."

"That's a first."

"DeMartino woke her up, believe you me. She screamed, "True! True! The
answer is true!" Mr. D didn't know what to say after that."

"Let sleeping jocks lie."

"Anyone new on the horizon, Miss Daria?"

"Only Lawndale's first sacrifical Christian."

"Really?"

"Carries a thick bible to class and everything. Nice guy, for a
fanatic."

"So...I'm glad to see you've found Jesus," said Jane.

"I didn't know he was missing," answered Daria.

"The ransom notes will be coming out tomorrow."

"Actually, I met someone else. Someone who might be more of a dishrag than
Stacy Rowe, if such a thing is possible."

"Really? What's her name?"

"Actually, it's a he. His name is...actually, I forget what it is."

"He must have made quite an impact." Jane pointed out the car in
the Morgendorffer driveway. "Look out. Fashion bitch at 6 o'clock!"

It was Sandi Griffin's silver BMW. "I might have to shoot my way out."

"Call me if you need help. Or, if you need something to do. I'm been
put to work in Ms. Defoe's class. A little grading of art homework for
extra credit."

"Jane Lane? Volunteering to assist instructors? This is first. Stay out
here while I get my camera."

"I can use the points. Later Morgendorffer."

"Bye."

**************************************

Daria entered the Morgendorffer domicile. The smell of perfume wafted
through the air. She figured they were twenty meters away. It was
time to be out of range of the charging Fashion rhino. They smelled
fear.

"Oh, this is going to be so great!", squealed Sandi.

"Yeahhhhh," said Tiffany, "we're like...expaaaaanding!"

Before Daria could make her way to the back exit, they had entered the
kitchen. Damn. The perfume had overwhelmed her sensitive olfactory
glands, Daria told herself. Either that, or it was the scent of bullshit
in the air.

"Uh...hi! *Cousin*," said Quinn. "Are you, like, going to be in the
kitchen long?"

"I got tired of eating the paint chips from the wall in my room. I guess
those promises of bread and water aren't true, then."

"Eeeewww!! Paint chips!", said Stacy.

"Here's $10. Now go!", said Quinn, almost shouting.

"Twenty!"

"Done! Just go!" Quinn handed Daria the twenty, and Daria gave a slight
bow, then made her way outside, just like she had first planned, only
twenty dollars richer.

"Gee, Quinn," said Sandi, "it must be, like soooooo embarrassing to
have to deal with unwanted and *unfashionable* relatives. I hope
her unfashionability isn't in any way *genetic*!"

"Why...noooo, Sandi! I think she was dropped on her head when she was
a child!", said Quinn, smiling.

"Twenty dollars?", said the fifth member of the Fashion Club. "*I* think
that's a little exhorbitant! You say this is...your *cousin*. You can't
mess around with...the unfashionable! You have to keep her in line!
Just like I keep my little brother in hand!."

The other four, even Sandi, were learning that the new Ranking Member
of the Fashion Club was very loud and very outspoken. Her name was
Lucille van Pelt, a new girl from Carterville, with fashionable long
earrings and long, straight hair down to her mid-back. Her face was
an ivory-toned vision of perfection...until she opened her large mouth.

"And how do you do that, Lucy?", asked Quinn.

She spread the fingers out on her right hand. "Individually, they don't
do much of anything." Lucy then balled her hand into a fist. "But working
together...they form a weapon that is terrible to behold!"

"Luuuuu-cy! The Fashion Club strongly disapproves of violence! Particularly
against the un-fashionable!", said Sandi, strongly. Sandi was already working
on putting Lucy in her place.

"Sandi, then, I propose this simple psychological project! Without using
violence...I propose that we bring Quinn's weird cousin under Quinn's thumb."
Lucy spread out her hand. "To the Fashion Club!"

Simultaneously, every member of the club raised their spread-out fingers...
then balled them into five fists. Five fingers...working together....