"...and I don't know what I'm going to do," Quinn's piercing whine easily penetrated into the living room, where Daria vegged in front of the tube. "This is the most complicated situation ever!"
"Please," Daria threw over her shoulder. "You're going to suck it up to Sandi, and play the guys off against each other. Just like you always do. You wouldn't know complicated if it bit you on your perky little butt."
"Oooooh!" Disconnecting the cordless phone, Quinn fairly flew into the living room. "Like you know what you're talking about. Your whole life is wearing the same outfit and picking out some boring geeky book to read. Then you hang out with your one friend, and cut into popular people, who have choices to make. How hard can that be?"
"It's a little beyond you, Quinn." Daria returned, nettled. "For one thing you have to think—"
"Think! That's rich," Quinn laughed nastily. "Try actually having to do, Daria, and see how far you get."
"Oh, come on. You don't actually think your life is more complicated than mine? You get everything in the world handed to you on a silver platter."
"Handed to me?!" Quinn's doll face was painted with shock. "Daria, I get things because I reach out and take them. You just lay there waiting for the world to come to you and then act surprised when it doesn't come."
Daria's voice began to rise. "Bullshit, Quinn. Try being me for a week and see how easy you find it."
"Fine! I will!" Quinn said, as Daria blinked. "But you have to be me for a week, too." When Daria didn't respond, Quinn added, "Come on, Daria. I thought you said being me would be easy."
"I didn't say it would be easy for me," Daria finally returned. "I'd have to turn my brain off for the week."
"Excuses, excuses. Are you going to do this, or will I hold it over your head until you leave for college?"
"Fine!" Daria snapped, glaring at Quinn. "A week. We dress and act like each other for a full week, starting Monday."
The sisters' glares collapsed into uncertainty as each thought, What did I just get myself into?
What started off a normal Monday veered quickly into shocking changes. By lunch, whispers were buzzing around the school at warp speed. By the end of the day, Lawndale's gossip meter had broken from overuse.
Among the sophomores, Quinn's shocking abdication of her fashion responsibilities had led to a mad scramble to fill the Quinn-shaped hole in the popularity hierarchy. At lunch, Tori told Brooke that Sandi had put Quinn on "permanent fashion sabbatical." Brooke's eyes narrowed in thought and plots began to hatch. Dawn wondered if Quinn's sudden fall would allow the cheerleaders to overtake the Fashion Club in popularity, so it was no surprise to see her scheming with Angie and Zoe before practice. Joey, Jeffy, and Jamie had been heard to lament Quinn's fall from grace and declare that if she didn't change back, they'd leave school and become monkeys. ("Monks, you idiots," Mack quickly had set them straight and walked away shaking his head.) By the end of the day, Stacy and Tiffany just wanted Quinn back as a buffer between them and Sandi.
And all that was as nothing to the upheavals in the junior class.
"I keep telling you, it's just a stupid bet, Jane," Daria said with exasperation, an exasperation furthered by the wolf-whistle coming down the hall. "I'll be back to myself next week."
"I don't know, Daria," Jane said, mischief in her eyes. "Are you sure all this attention isn't getting to you?"
"If by 'getting to me' you mean making me homicidal, then yes." Daria sighed. "I honestly don't know how Quinn stands it. If you tell her I said that," she added, "the rest of your life will be short and painful."
Jane grinned. "Now what possible reason could I have to share intelligence with the Princess of Pleather? Besides monetary considerations, of course."
Daria made as if to raise her arm to swat Jane, but felt eyes on her. She hadn't realized at the time, but the crop top she'd chosen was a good deal shorter, and tighter, than the ones Quinn usually wore. As a result, just about any arm motion emphatically settled a question much on the minds of some of the junior boys. No, Daria Morgendorffer was not flat. in fact, now that she was unable to hide it, they were very clear that she was, not to put too fine a point on it, firmly in the other camp. Upchuck alone had asked her out seven times that day. Lowering her arm, she muttered, "I'm going to kill Quinn."
"Hey, Daria," a familiar, unwelcome voice sounded, as Kevin Thompson caught up with her. "Lookin' good." Letting his eyes roam over her, he added, "Maybe we could, you know, study together."
"I don't think so, Kevin,"
"Why not? After all, I'm the QB, and you're lookin' hot these days."
"Two reasons," Daria said with a smirk. "One: I swapped you for a rat in sophomore year, and I can't go back on a deal. Two: The person to whom I swapped you, your girlfriend Brittany—you remember Brittany, don't you?—is standing right behind you with murder in her eyes."
Kevin whirled around, right into Brittany's open handed slap. He turned and fled, and she raced down the hall after him, haranguing him at the top of her lungs.
"Gotta admit," Jane said, "That was fun."
"Not worth it," Daria grunted.
The thing Quinn noticed about her first day as Daria was how quickly she disappeared. Her morning was full of shock, question, and recriminations, culminating in the huge blowup with Sandi at lunch and her "permanent" fashion sabbatical. The afternoon was just... empty, though. No one bothered talking to her; no one even looked at her. She found it more than a little scary.
Standing, alone, at her locker at the end of the day, she overheard the voices of cheerleaders, which surprised her for a moment. The lockers of Fashion Club members were off-limits for gossip, except by and with other Fashion Club members, but she wasn't a Fashion Club member anymore.
"—why she did it?" That was Dawn's voice.
"No. Maybe she worked some voodoo, so now she's hot and Quinn isn't," Angie said, as Quinn carefully kept her back turned, but stayed in position to overhear. "Brains can do stuff like that."
"Don't be silly, Angie," Dawn returned. "Still, if Daria's going to be a major-league hottie, we've got to take her into account, brain or no brain."
"Oh, come on, Dawn," Zoe said derisively. "This is Flatty Morgendorffer. Even if she's not hooked up with Lane, why do we need to worry about her?"
"You haven't seen her, Zoe," said Angie. "Believe me. We have to worry. She might be even hotter than Quinn—" Angie stumbled, as Quinn's eyes widened in horror, "er, than Quinn was."
At this, Dawn gave a wicked smile. "I didn't say we had to worry about her. I said we had to take her into account. If we get her on the squad, we can squash the Fashion Club once and for all. Hell," she added, "if we can just shove her into Drama club, or something that makes sure she doesn't join the Fashion Club, we're golden. Everyone knows that, as far as popularity goes, Quinn was the Fashion Club." Quinn gave a small smile at this. "Without her, Sandi'll be outs with everyone in the school within two weeks."
"But what if Quinn comes back?" The worry in Zoe's voice was mirrored in Angie's face.
"If Daria stays hot, I don't think Quinn can come back." The rest of the statement was lost in the slam of a locker and a horrified scream, as Quinn ran from the hall, sudden tears pouring down her face.
Daria, having spent the school day dodging unsubtle propositions from about a third of the male students at Lawndale high and the afternoon fending off Jane's subtle barbs about her sudden popularity, was thoroughly irritated by the time should walked through the door of 1111 Glen Oaks Lane. Her mood was not helped by the ear-piercing whine that assaulted her as soon as she opened the door.
"Oh, Christ," she muttered as she entered the living room to find a heartbroken Quinn on the couch bawling in her mother's arms. "Daria," Helen said, her warning tone forestalling a sarcastic comment, "your sister says you ruined her life."
"Quinn ruined her own life, Mom," Daria said with asperity. "She stepped into this one with open eyes. Of course, so did I."
Helen looked on the verge of a response when she took in Daria's outfit. After a double-take, she said, "Just what are you wearing, young lady?"
"The sort of thing most young ladies my age wear, Mom," Daria sighed. "Now if you'll excuse me, I've had a long day. If you need me, I'll be upstairs in my room curled in the fetal position."
Helen might have followed, but a fresh outburst of wailing from Quinn kept her on the couch.
A little later, as Daria lay on her bed counting the ceiling cracks, a tremulous knock sounded on her bedroom door. Without moving, she shouted, "The retransmogrification process is not complete. It is not safe to enter this room until the pod person is fully transformed back into Daria Morgendorffer. Please come back later."
"Very funny, Daria," said Quinn, as her head appeared around the door.
"Have you come to use the transmogrifier, too? It should be ready for you in about an hour. Or two weeks."
"I want to ask you something." Quinn's expression as she came to stand by the bed intrigued Daria. It was a mix of anger, determination, and what could only be called naked fear.
After a moment's debate between finding out what was going on and shooing Quinn off with a cutting remark, she let her curiosity get the better of her. "Fire away."
"You didn't, you know, do this on purpose, did you?"
"What?!" Daria sat up, face alive with shock. "If you remember, Quinn, me dressing like you was your idea."
"But you're a brain," Quinn said nervously. "You can get people to do what you want."
"Um, Quinn?" Daria sighed. "That jacket," she pointed vaguely towards the shapeless brown mass Quinn had worn for the day, "must have cut off the circulation to your head. All I ever want is to be left alone, and it seems like I never get that. I'm not even getting it now."
"Well, maybe you've just been waiting for the right time. I mean Angie said that brains can do voodoo, and I know I've never seen you do anything like voodoo, unless you do it to get good grades without trying, but you can do that anyway, and I think you'd probably use it to get a boy, but you don't have a boyfriend, so you're not doing that, but if you get rid of me then you might get a boyfriend, so maybe you used it to be me and take my place, you know, as a popular person."
Daria slapped a hand to her forehead. "Quinn, I promise you, I have no desire to be you. Most of the time, I don't even want to look at you. And," she added, "if having a bunch of unevolved monkeys staring at your chest like it's the only food source within five miles in any direction is the way to get a boyfriend, I'll gladly die alone."
Quinn sighed with relief. "So you're not enjoying being me?"
Daria nodded. "I'm just as miserable as you are. I'm tempted to chuck this whole bet. One day was enough."
Quinn smiled. "For me too. I don't think I can take a whole week."
"Okay. We call a truce and go back to normal tomorrow?"
"Truce. Back to normal tomorrow."
Daria smiled her Mona Lisa smile. "Thank God. I don't know how you stand the attention, Quinn."
"Well, I'm strong," Quinn tossed her hair airily. "I can take that stuff. It's nothing for you to be ashamed of if you can't." She knew she'd screwed up when she saw her sister's face harden.
"Not strong enough, Miss Cries Like a Baby?" Daria snarled through gritted teeth. "The truce is over. We'll see who breaks first, Quinn. I'm betting it won't be me."
"Fine!" Quinn snapped, knowing she was in trouble but too proud to back down. "You'll be begging for your green jacket back by Friday."