The blue Lexus drove steadily towards Lawndale High School. In the driver's seat of the car, Jake Morgendorffer had directions in his lap as he checked for street names and stoplights.
"Now, this isn't Highland anymore, you two." Jake spoke to the two other passengers in the car, his two children.
"I thought there was something different today." From the backseat, Jake's daughter Daria noted briefly.
"I'm just saying, Daria." Jake regarded his daughter in the rear view mirror. "Things don't have to be the same as they were in Highland."
"Somehow I'll manage. But I can't help but miss the smell of rendered hog fat." Daria noted again, not looking at her father.
"Daria..." Jake's voice trailed off for a moment. Daria made no motions to encourage him to continue.
"We're here." Daria spoke quickly in order to quickly silence her father. He pulled up to the curb of the school.
"Daria, your mother and I just wanted to say we know a new school can be tough, and people don't always take to you from the first impression..." Jake started to say an encouraging word. Daria looked as if she was about to interrupt him, but before she could get another word in, another voice chimed in.
"Or any impression, for that matter." The third passenger, riding shotgun, quickly commented, silencing both Daria and Jake.
"Now, now." Jake replied before turning his attention back to Daria.
"I know fitting in doesn't come as easily for you as it does to others, but if you give people a chance..."
"A chance?" The third passenger replied again. "Someone would have to be starving, bleeding, and radioactive just to speak to her." The passenger unbuckled the seat belt and exited the front seat of the car.
"Fitting in doesn't come easily." Daria noted to her father once she was alone. "You mean not like it comes to him, right?" Daria's head motioned towards the exiting passenger.
"That's not what I meant, Daria." Jake sighed. "Not exactly. I'm saying that your brother makes friends so easily because he's friendly to everyone. Give it a shot, kiddo, and you'll see it works for you."
"And next, he can teach me how to gel my hair, block an interception, and give girls eating disorders. I'll contain my enthusiasm." Daria's responses were just as dry as her brother's as she exited the door to Standardized Hell, also known as High School. The first day of high school with her younger brother.
As soon as he had gotten out of the car, the third passenger straightened his posture as he regarded the scene around him. There were students of varying grades around. Some were chatting wit h each other, others were fishing in backpacks for supplies, or putting things away. But as soon as they noticed the new figure in their midst, everyone stopped what they were doing to regard the new person in their midst.
"And why wouldn't they?" He thought to himself. "This is certainly worth looking at." The passenger stood five and a half feet tall, although his growth spurt was not yet done, so there was plenty more height for him to gain. His straight hair was fiery red and cut short, with a very slight amount of hair gel giving it a slightly reflective look and the illusion of more depth. His eyes shined a radiant deep blue, and seemed to sparkle and warm an onlooker as he smiled, which happened frequently.
Late August's warm weather had the man dress in a black and silver striped T-shirt, sized small. A size medium would have been more appropriate for his height, but this smaller size had the advantage of being distinctly tighter on his body, showing off his impressive musculature. Indeed, even when the weather turned colder, he would often still be wearing short sleeves in a small sized shirt. Even though his ripped biceps, toned pecs, and rock-hard abs could still be seen in long sleeves, it just wasn't the same when fabric was blocking them.
His hips held a pair of denim shorts, that fell just above his knees. Although they hung loosely around his calves, a single look told anyone that he did not neglect the lower half of his body as some athletes tended to do; his quads and calves were quite impressive.
From his well-coiffed hair to his black sneakers, everything about the man exuded an air of confidence and handsomeness. The students of Lawndale, used to the normal and commonplace, looked in awe at the deity in their midst.
"Hey." The first worshiper spoke to him. "Are you new here?" He asked.
"Yes." The man replied, the corners of his mouth turning into a smile.
"You seem pretty cool. What's your name." Another man tried to play it cool, but his face and eyes betrayed him; he was melting in his shoes as if a glistening Baywatch babe had asked him on a date.
"Morgendorffer. Finn Morgendorffer." He replied.
"Wow, Finn, you're gorgeous." A woman with raven-black hair made her way through the crowd.
"Would you like to go for coffee after school?" She asked.
"What period is your lunch, Finn?" A dark-skinned girl quickly jumped in. "I'd love it if you sat with me."
"I can show you around the school right now." A busty blonde eagerly joined into the fray.
"Wow, you're all so nice." Finn shot another smile, and the girls' hearts all went aflutter.
"How could I possibly say no to such girls. What a fantastic way to start my first day of school." His words flowed from his mouth poetically, and the girls swallowed it all. They eagerly surrounded Finn and moved with him towards the door to the school, opening it so that Finn would not have to expend the effort.
The front entrance was now devoid of people, bar one.
"Gee, I sure hope Finn isn't lonely. What's a good big sis to do?" Daria noted sarcastically to herself as she went inside the school.
"I'd like to personally welcome all of you students to Lawndale High." All of the new students were greeted by a bespectacled portly Asian woman, who identified herself as Ms. Li, the principal of the school.
"Our school is a statement of pride for all of it's students. Between our athletics teams and academic clubs, every student here takes great pride in the contributions they make to Lawndale High." Ms. Li's voice was reverent when speaking the name of the school.
"I saw a pretty big trophy in the case when I came in. Is that a State trophy?" Finn, standing front and center in the group, asked.
"Why, yes, it is. That trophy was claimed two years ago when Lawndale High brought home the State championship in football." Ms. Li seemed very proud of the accomplishment, even though she would have had nothing to do with bringing home the trophy.
"And you, old boy, you look like you know how to handle that pigkin, huh?" Ms. Li snorted and laughed a little.
"I don't think a woman in her 50's should be calling a teenager old boy." Finn reversed, causing many of the new students to chuckle at the woman. Ms. Li seemed quite insulted by his remark.
"But, to respond your question, I know a thing or two. Our middle school won many football games all three years I played for it. I hope the people in Lawndale are as excited about it as those back in Highland."
"Do you play any other sports, Mister..." Ms. Li prodded. It seemed that the thoughts of more trophies in the case drowned out the age remark.
"I'm Finn." Finn replied. "Does this school have a boxing team?"
"We do!" Ms. Li was enthusiastic. "Many of the team graduated last year. I'm sure Coach Stevenson would be happy to meet with you. He has office hours second period, but just stop by and see him, he'll right you a pass." She commented in a low voice to Finn. The other new students starting chatting with Finn as Ms. Li lead them towards the guidance offices.
"Now students, to make sure everything is alright before you start your classes, we're going to ask you all to take a psychological assessment test." Ms. Li delivered flatly.
"What, a test?" Finn frowned. "On the first day of school?" The other students said supportive words.
"A psychological test." Daria commented. "That means it's a test for your mind. You don't have one, nothing to worry about." The other students in the crowd glared at the speaker of the offending remark.
"Hah, hah." Finn noted sarcastically. "But really, it's not graded, right?" He asked another student in the group.
"Don't worry, Finn, you'll do fine. After the test, we'll still have time to catch breakfast in the cafeteria. I think they're serving pancakes." A young girl with long brown hair replied.
"Oh, but I didn't bring extra money today." Finn said sadly. "I won't be able to, sorry, dear."
"Oh, that's no worry, I can get some for you! I'll just use the money for lunch to get two breakfasts."
"How thoughtful!" Finn smiled at her. "But you really don't have to do that. I mean, not if you don't want to. But if you do I'm really a fan of maple syrup."
"Of course." Daria replied. "She doesn't need to get the nutrition of two meals when she can bask in the glow of a star athlete before he's ever won a game." All of the other students separated from Daria and clustered around Finn.
"What a weird girl." One girl said.
"She's such a buzzkill." A guy agreed.
"She's just jealous of your good looks, Finn." The woman who invited Finn to breakfast stared only at him. "I know you're a guy and all, but if I had your features, all the men would be chasing me!"
"Oh, wow, you guys are so nice!" Finn said pleasantly. "Yeah, let's just ignore this jealous pathetic weird girl." He glared at Daria, his very own sister, as the crowd of people formed a protective bubble around him.
Daria and Finn were both seated at a table with the school psychiatrist, Mrs. Manson.
"Hello, Finn, and hello...err...Darla." She greeted the two of them.
"Daria." Daria corrected.
"You don't have to call her by name. Just call her you." Finn instructed. "So, we're not being graded on this test, right?"
"No." Mrs. Manson replied, then she held up a picture.
"Finn, tell me, what is the picture I am holding."
"They're pictures of two people talking. Hey, this is pretty easy!" Finn cheered.
"What are they doing?" Mrs. Manson asked.
"They look like they're arguing."
"What are they arguing about, Finn?"
"Well, she's mad at him because they didn't go out on the date they planned yesterday. But he reminds her that the tickets were for an 8:30 show and he showed up at 7:30 so they could get good seats, but she spent ages in the bathroom trying on different dresses and fussing over her makeup and acting like she was the only person in the world, so he bailed on her by 8 when she still didn't show up and called his friend Cassie who doesn't really like shows like that, but will do anything she's never done before, and they had a great night. Now he's telling her off because she not as hot as she thinks she is and she's a real loser for standing him up so he's just going to hit the gym with the guys then waste another night with her. And she's trying to act tough and pretend she's all strong but she knows he's right."
"Wow, such a wonderful imagination."
"He left out the part where she hangs herself after he leaves, unable to bear the world without him." Daria commented again.
"You're so depressing, Daria." Finn criticized.
"Darla, I mean, Daria, what do you see in the picture."
"I see...a pair of two black splotches." Daria commented.
"What do they look like?" Mrs. Manson asked.
"This is that test where the pictures can be anything." Daria replied briefly, not looking at Mrs. Manson or her pictures.
"No, this test is one where the picture is of two people, and you make up what they are speaking about." Mrs. Manson informed.
"That's obvious, Daria." Finn dismissed, and pulled a comb out of his pocket and started to straighten his hair.
"It still looks like that other test. Maybe it's a flock of country bats swarming over a corpse of a horse covered in cupcake frosting." Mrs. Manson winced at the comment. Finn sighed. Daria, however, smiled her first smile of the day.
Finn was eager to distance himself from Daria once the test was over. As soon as Mrs. Manson dismissed them, he was practically sprinting down the hallway.
"God, why must she be so infuriatingly annoying. Of all the rotten luck to get her as a sister." He found his assigned locker and started angrily putting spare notebooks away.
"Hey!" A male voice called over. Finn looked away from his locker to see three guys coming over to him.
"Hey, dudes!" Finn engaged pleasantly.
"You're the new guy everyone's talking about?" One of them, a dark haired kid, asked. Finn nodded.
"I heard you play ball, too." Another, a dark red haired kid with a pierced ear added. Finn nodded again.
"What's your position?" The third, a blonde with a low voice, asked.
"Which ball would that be?" Finn replied.
"Football." Red answered.
"Well, without trying out I really couldn't say what my position is, but my game as a center is great, although I've been known to dabble in the quarterback's boots." Finn shot a smile. To his surprise, all three guys let out sighs of relief.
"Good, then I'm safe." Blondie noted.
"Huh?" Finn asked.
"Dude, you're all the buzz in the school." Red stated. "If you were playing the positions we were good at, we'd be down to second string in no time! And second string is all losers."
"Oh, well, I'm sure it won't be like that. I mean, I haven't even tried out yet." Finn smiled. "You guys are on the team?"
"We're freshmen too, so no." Black Hair noted. "But tryouts are next week."
"Doesn't mean we have to wait to play." Finn noted. "We can always play a game beforehand. See each other's skill."
"That sounds great." Red noted. "My name's Jeffy Mercer."
"Joey Nelson." Black noted.
"I'm..." Blondie started to talk, but another group of people immediately came over to Finn first. A group of three women, all dressed quite fashionably, were approaching. The leader seemed to be a brunette girl with long hair, while the other two: a girl with pigtails and an Asian girl, followed behind her as if following the leader.
"You were right, Sandi!" Pigtails replied enthusiastically. "He is dreamy!"
"Totally...amazing!" The Asian girl replied in a slow tone.
"Girls!" Sandi, the leader, chastised the two before turning her attention to Finn.
"I understand that you are the new boy in town. As President of Lawndale's Fashion Club, I wanted to be the first club to formally welcome you to our school." She delivered formally.
Finn shot the three women a smile, and chuckled a little.
"My name's Finn Morgendorffer. Nice to meet you lovely ladies." At the word lovely, Pigtails seemed to swoon.
"I am Sandi Griffin." Sandi stated. "It is an absolute pleasure to see a man who is handsome and knows how to be stylish."
"Oh, you're too kind." Finn chuckled. "But you are the Fashion Club, so I might as well ask an expert's opinion on a shirt I had bought. I thought it looked good but I can't help but wonder if I chose the wrong color." The three guys stared at Finn strangely for a moment.
"Certainly, that is why we are here. Please, tell me more." Sandi agreed.
"Well, the color is wisteria." Finn noted. "Do you think that's too light? I mean, I don't want to be a ghost or anything." All three women chuckled, while the guys had cocked eyebrows.
"No, certainly not!" Sandi praised. "Wisteria is a fine color for you."
"It goes well with your eyes!" Pigtails immediately perked up.
"Although you are correct, Stacy, I would be more careful about giving your opinion on matching shirts with eyes. After all, didn't you wear that sangria blouse with your brown eyes?" Sandi noted. Stacy whimpered a bit at Sandi's tone, and looked to the ground.
"I still have nightmares of that party." The Asian girl replied. "And your hair that night. Really...inappropriate."
"Oh, I'm sorry, Tiffany." Stacy whimpered again.
"Please do not mind Stacy. She is still very new at fashion, although she takes good notes and takes direction well." Sandi addressed Finn as she handed him a folded piece of paper.
"If you ever have questions regarding fashion, it would be our distinct pleasure to aid you. Call me anytime. Perhaps I can come over to see your wisteria shirt so that we may select an appropriate pair of pants."
"Well, I likes me my camo pants, but I can't help but think it would clash" Finn chuckled, and Sandi smiled as well.
"Here's mine, too!" Stacy eagerly handed Finn a piece of paper. "I know I'm not as good as Sandi is with fashion, but I'm happy to help you."
"Likewise." The Asian girl, whom Stacy called Tiffany, handed yet another piece of paper. "My specialty...is hair." The three women walked down the hallway.
"What was that word you said? Wis-something?" Joey asked.
"Wisteria? It's a color." Finn replied.
"You know that stuff?" Blondie asked. Finn realized he still didn't say his name.
"Yeah, so?" Finn asked, making sure his tone did not sound like a dare. The three were silent for a moment.
"Anyway, it pays off. Look at that. Three girl's numbers before my first class, and all I needed to do was know a color." Finn waved the pieces of paper like a trophy. "I'll put these away for later." The other three guys were silent for a moment, then they started looking down at their shirts.
"What's the color for this?" Jeffy asked to himself.
"I thought this was just orange." Joey noted.
"Sandi's never given me her number." Blondie said with dismay.
The first day of class was a nothing. Teachers handed out books and the lesson plan, they started giving lame inspiring speeches, particularly the English teacher, a certain sappy Timothy O'Neill. Finn paid enough attention to know which class was where and who his friends were, but lessons couldn't be further from his mind. While the teacher droned endlessly on whatever it is they were discussing, Finn would busy himself with various other tasks. Some random doodles in his notebooks, flirting and flexing for the various women who chose their seats so he'd be surrounded by them. Between classes, he received many invitations to join some of the girls, but he refused them all, and instead, decided to sit with the guys from the football team he had met earlier.
"Dude, why would you want to sit with us when you've got Ashley Beaker, and Tanya Crawford all up in your space?" Blondie, who soon introduced himself as Jamie White, seemed the most perplexed by Finn's decision.
"Don't like me?" Finn dared. Jamie immediately shook his head in protest, but Finn started to laugh.
"Relax. Teasing. Anyway, that's moving way too fast. You let 'em stew a bit, then they start making the big overtures." Finn laughed. "I mean, one girl asked me for breakfast when I came in today, and I got her to buy it for me. Show a little interest on someone else for a while, and you start raking in the big bucks."
"You mean, you get girls to buy things for you?" Jeffy asked.
"And not for your birthday or anything?" Joey clarified.
"Haven't you ever done something like that for a girl?" Finn asked. "It's just in reverse."
"Dude." Jamie seemed reverent. "I wish I could get them to do that for me. What's your secret?"
"Yeah, c'mon dude, tell me your secret!" Jeffy cheered.
"Not now, not now." Finn laughed. "It's intense training. I'm talking physical conditioning, here. What other teams do you guys play for. I mean, football's only the fall, right? I mean, I'm really into boxing, and it would be nice to have a friend on all my teams."
"I fight." Joey replied. "Never thought of the boxing team, though."
"I do baseball in the spring!" Jeffy eagerly pointed out.
"Perfect!" Finn noted. "I've been looking for an excuse to bring out the glove." The guys started chatting about teams for a while, until Finn noticed a familiar face. The only familiar face he wished he could avoid. Daria was seated all alone, quietly eating while reading some strange book Finn had never heard of.
"Whose that girl?" Jamie noticed Finn's eyes looking at her. "She's a geek."
"Yeah, majorly." Finn agreed. "She just said some nasty things to me earlier today. God, she's such a loser."
"I know. I mean, look at those glasses. It's like a circus." Joey taunted.
"Probably one of those smart-ass brains who thinks they know everything. Try to hide the fact they suck at sports." Jeffy criticized.
"She's not even worth talking to. She's probably got like, weird lopsided boobs." Jamie criticized. Finn grimaced and groaned at the thought of his sister's body, but he continued laughing with his friends and chatting. He hoped that Daria would look at the source of the laughter, and see that her brother, Finn Morgandorffer, whom she always had a nasty word for, was eagerly and cheerfully surrounded by people who worshipped him, while she, like always, walked alone.
It was difficult to sort through the phone numbers once Finn got home from school. The teachers said the students would need to cover their books with paper, some gave reading assignments for the end of the week, but Finn knew that his priorities were to arrange the phone numbers he had been given in his Rolodex.
"You could just get me a cell phone, Mom." He thought. "Then you'd be free to chat up your lawerly ways and we'd never have to speak to each other." Sorting the guys was easy, it just went by last name. Girls, though, had a tier first group of numbers were for wealthy and popular girls who would be hosting the best parties and could get the best gifts. Those would be retained. The second was for cheerleaders, female athletes, and the club girls, like the three from the Fashion Club. Those would also be stationed in the Rolodex, but unlike the wealthy girls, they would probably not get his number. The third was for brains. He'd never date or even associate with brains, but academic probation prevented playing on a team and Finn had to make sure all contingencies were worked out in case that happened. Missing a game was anathema. And the last was ugly girls or ones with no redeeming features whatsoever. They were discarded to the trash, never to be remembered again.
As soon as he finished, he descended down for dinner. The rest of the family was already there as his mother, Helen Morgandorffer, removed the tray of lasagna from the oven. It was a good meal, since carbs were high-energy, but it was the only thing his family ever really ate. Helen never had time to make a proper meal since she was too busy working, while his father, who was self-employed, worked irregularly, and wasn't a good cook to boot.
"How was your first day of school, sport?" Jake eagerly put down his newspaper and smiled at Finn.
"Well, let's see. Coach Gibson put me on the varsity team pretty much as soon as I met him, boxing starts in November, and I think I'm going to choose baseball in the spring."
"That's my slugger!" Jake cheered. "What position are you going to play in football?"
"Well, I'm the center for now. That might change depending on how good the quarterback is."
"That's fantastic, dear." Helen replied. "What about clubs or academic groups? You know, the best colleges look for well-rounded extracurricular activities."
"Dad, did you find those batting cages like we talked about?" Finn ignored his mother.
"Sorry, son, I was too busy networking today. Gotta build my client base that way." Jake was genuinely apologetic.
"It's all right, dad." Finn said warmly to his father. "I'll ask Jeffy tomorrow. If you're not working Saturday, dad, maybe we can hit some balls together? And hey, we do good, maybe the owner of the place will hire you for a campaign."
"That's great!" Jake cheered.
"Finn." Helen's tone became lower, angry was she at being ignored. "What about clubs?"
"Mom, I spent all day meeting everyone and figuring out which teams to play for, I didn't have time to look into clubs. Besides, I probably won't have time with all the practices and stuff. This is varsity, Mom, varsity!"
"What about you, Daria?" Helen turned to her daughter, who was silent the entire time.
"Oh please, what could she possibly have done that was interesting." Finn criticized. "Trip and fall?" Daria scowled.
"Well, my history class is full of a bunch of idiots, and my biology class is worse." Daria replied.
"Of course. Leave it to Daria to just blast people before she talks to them." Finn dismissed.
"Daria, we're not in Highland anymore." Helen lectured. "This is a new school, so why don't you try to make a friend or two."
"Because it would require her to actually be nice to people." Finn asided.
"Finn!" Helen's eyes darted back to her son.
"I'm sure Finn will make enough needless friendships for the both of us." Daria commented.
"Needless? There's never an excuse not to be popular."
"I'm sure Chairman Mao agrees with you."
"You see!" Finn excitedly cheered, not getting the reference. "Whose Chairman Mao?" He quickly asked his father. The phone rang, and Helen excused herself to answer it.
"If it's for me, I'll take it upstairs." Finn noted, but Helen did not answer as she listened to the phone.
"Who was that?" Finn asked as she hung up. "It better not have been for me."
"You two took a psychological test at school today?"
"Hey, they weren't supposed to be graded! And it's not fair to spring surprise tests on the new kid. I mean, I'm only human!" Finn moaned.
"Finn, hush." Helen ordered. "Daria, the school psychiatrist called. It seems they've looked at your assessment."
"Finally, someone other then me notices she's insane. Ship her to the looney bin, don't take it personally if I don't come to visit." Finn was surprisingly cheerful at the idea.
"It just wouldn't be the same without you." Daria noted without a hint of emotion.
"Enough." Helen silenced the feuding siblings.
"What happened with the test, honey?" Jake asked his wife.
"It seems Daria has low self-esteem."
"Low self-esteem?" Jake puzzled after swallowing his forkful of lasagna.
"Oh, Daria, how many times must we tell you that you're special and wonderful. You never believe us, do you?" Helen started to lecture.
"Come on." Finn derided. "What's so special about her anyway?"
"Finn!" Helen was quick to criticize.
"I mean it. Seriously, she's ugly, she's not popular, she's as pleasant as a rabid..." Finn started to trail off.
"Not another word, young man!" Helen was angry.
"My poor self-esteem." Daria noted sarcastically. "And you wonder why it's low."
"I put up with all the crap you say and I did fine.. It is just you." Finn stared at Daria from across the table.
"Finn!" Helen yelled again. Jake looked like he was about to say something too, but the raised voices caused him to become meek as a kitten, and he shrunk a little in his seat and ate some more lasagna.
"What, Mom?" Finn challenged. "I'm telling the truth. You've heard how nasty she is."
"We're not dealing with Daria's attitude now, we're dealing with her self-confidence."
"I believe in myself just fine." Daria stated. "I just don't believe in others. Case in point, Finn."
"And you're just going to let her get away with saying stuff like that, aren't you?" Finn challenged his mother.
"Don't you talk back to me, young man." Helen angrily stated. "Or else I won't be held responsible for what happens to your Rolodex."
"Taking Daria's side again. What a surprise. She's has problems because she's such a loser and all of a sudden it's my fault. Ugh. Don't bother grounding me, I'm leaving." Finn angrily got up in a huff. The family heard him head upstairs to his room. Helen growled a bit, and then took a seat at the table.
"Now listen, Daria." Helen took a deep breath. "They want you to take a special class for a couple of weeks and then they'll test you again." Daria shrugged. She knew she didn't really have a choice in the matter.
"Kiddo, you know we all think you're great." Jake tried to encourage his daughter.
"Finn might disagree." Daria stated.
"Seriously, what is wrong with that boy." Helen murmured quietly, but both Daria and Jake heard her.
"Honey." Jake seemed to disapprove of his wife's statement, but one look from Helen shut him up quickly.
"Sweetie, don't worry about Finn, I'll have a talk with him after dinner." Helen stated. "But I want you to take the self-esteem course and tell us what your teacher says. After all, your self-esteem will do a lot for you when you're a professional woman in the working world." Helen started to eat her lasagna again. The meal was quiet now, as the three remaining family members quietly and neatly ate the rest of their meal.
"And to think." Daria thought. "All Finn had to do was disappear. Even he could do it."
A half hour after dinner, Helen marched up to her son's room.
"Finn!" Helen's voice was quick and terse, but not angry, as she called while knocking on the door.
"The door's open." Finn's voice sounded, but the music did not shut off. Helen opened the door to find that her son had changed into gym shorts and was doing elevated push-ups while loud music blared from his stereo. His workout routine after dinner was intense and routine. Any night he was home he performed such a ritual.
"What is it?" Finn did not stop working out. These lectures between mother and son were almost as common as his evening exercise. It was always the same thing, for the most part.
"Finn, I'm talking. There'll be time to exercise later." Helen commanded. Finn sighed, then stopped. He went over to the stereo and shut it off, and then grabbed a towel and paid attention to his mother. Helen took a seat on his bed.
"What?" Finn did not try to disguise his annoyance.
"Listen, Finn, I'm being serious here. It's not easy to work a full-time job and then come home and get a call regarding your daughter's self-esteem. Can't you try to be nicer to your sister."
"I'm nicer to her than she is to me." Finn challenged, his standard tone with his mother.
"Finn." Helen was losing her patience. "This is serious. Confidence and self-esteem is important for a girl her age."
"I guess it's not important for me then." Finn derided.
"The psychiatrist said you didn't have that problem." Helen clarified.
"Did you ask her?" Finn challenged again. He was sitting there when Helen received the call, and never did he hear his name. Helen hesitated, and realized she would not win that argument.
"So why are you here? Daria's room is down the hall. Go talk to her about her own self-esteem. She's probably just faking it anyway to torture me."
"Finn, it shouldn't be torture to be nice to your siblings." Helen tried to encourage.
"You know, Mom, you're right. I'm gonna call Aunt Rita and tell her that." Finn forced a smile on his face. Helen scowled at his use of the "R" word.
"Finn, if you plan on going to any parties at all this year, you're going to help Daria until her self-esteem gets better." Helen delivered an ultimatum.
"Fifty." Finn stated.
"Ten." Helen countered.
"Done." Helen reached into her pocket and pulled out a crisp new twenty-dollar bill. Finn took the bill eagerly and put in on his desk, his shorts not having the pockets for it.
"Fine." Finn sighed. "Now I've gotta finish my workout." He wiped the sweat from his chest before putting the stereo back on and starting on his squats.
At breakfast the next day, Finn sat at the table eating a bowl of cereal when Daria entered. It was just a little before 7, so Helen had already left for work, while Jake was still sleeping soundly, and would probably be up soon enough.
"And how's your self-esteem today?" Finn mocked his sister. Daria ignored him as she prepared some Sugar Tarts. A tense silence soon followed between the two of them as they ate or waited for breakfast, a silence that was familiar to both siblings. A silence that lasted until Finn finished his food and washed his bowl in the sink.
"Try not to bum the other kids out in depression class!" He mocked again as he headed out the door.
"Nice. Just like I said, Mom." Finn laughed to himself as he grabbed his backpack and walked to school. Once he arrived, the three guys he had met yesterday: Jamie, Joey, and Jeffy, all came over to greet him.
"Yo!" Joey smiled, eager to see him again.
"Hey, I was hoping I'd run into you guys here." Finn eagerly smiled at them. "Jeffy, you play baseball, right? Know any batting cages nearby?"
"Yeah! Why don't we head there after school today?" Jeffy offered.
"Sounds great!" Finn agreed. "And hey, since I'm asking about places nearby, know of any shooting ranges?"
"I do." Joey noted.
"This day gets better and better. What about you, Jamie, you know of anything fun?"
"I'm great at the arcade." He answered.
"Perfect." Finn chuckled. "Wow, we all have the same interests. This is going to be an awesome year, I just know it."
"You're such an awesome guy, Finn." Jamie noted. "I hope we all make varsity at tryouts tomorrow."
"I'm sure we will. Then we can bring home State our very first year here. Set the bar high." Finn was eager and jovial, eager to take his mind off of Daria and his mother, the two who always seemed to turn his days gray. Daria was just whiny, mopey, and depressing. She thought she was so great because she did well at school, but a truly smart person would know that people with gloomy attitudes like hers got gloomy attitudes in return. And she was always home after school, so that meant it was a place to avoid. Many interests, many reprieves. Many friends, many partners.
"After the cages, let's toss the pigskin around. I'm sure we'll all become varsity players, but we won't by slacking around."
"Sounds awesome!" Joey eagerly agreed as the four men walked to their homeroom.
The only downside to the first week of school was that teachers starting teaching after the first day.
History class was primarily insufferable. The teacher, a Mr. DeMartino, seemed to be an extremely tense individual who harbored an irrational dislike for everyone in the classroom.
"And so, class, which among you can tell us one of the many reasons why World War I started?" Mr. DeMartino had a strange method of talking, stressing syllables in seemingly random intervals.
"What about you, son." He pointed in the back of the room towards Joey.
"Ummm...Hitler! Hitler started it!" Joey stated.
"That was a different World War, son. In fact, I would think that even elementary school students could remember that Adolf Hitler was during the Second World War!"
"Oh yeah." Joey noted. "Sorry, I got nothing." Mr. DeMartino seemed to grumble a little.
"What about you?" He stood in front of Finn's desk, and bent down so the two were at eye level.
"Hey, no fair, I'm new here." Finn protested.
"Life's not fair, sonny boy. Now straighten up and answer the question!"
"You gotta lay off the cigarettes, your breath reeks, dude." Finn fanned his face. The other students laughed at his insult.
"Tell me something, son. You think that when you're making six figures for posing on billboards advertising Monday Night Football, you can make time to visit your history teacher, and spot him a can of Sterno since his heat was turned off?"
"Ummm...sure. I'll even sign it for you!" Finn stated cheerfully. He knew what Sterno was, but had no idea how it would relate to Mr. DeMartino.
"Son, do you know why we take history class?" Mr. DeMartino asked.
"Lousy statewide requirements?" Finn asked.
"Your correct, yet utterly inappropriate answer amuses me. I hope it will keep me warm until you bring me that can of Sterno!"
Although Finn's other classes, particularly biology with Janet Barch, were quite ulcer-inducing, Finn managed to get through the day. He had a few more phone numbers to inventory, but that could wait for now. School was over, and there were things to do. Everyone was to meet at Jeffy's house, where they'd hit a few rounds at the batting cages. There weren't enough people to play a football game with, but throwing passes and a few drills were a good way to hone skills with those problems. Then pizza. By then, it would be very late. There'd be enough time for exercise, then bed. Homework could be done in homeroom.
The entire week ran like this. Finn was avoiding the house with a passion. At least this way, his mother could not yell at him for hurting Daria's self-esteem, however pathetic that was. Daria was probably faking it, but even if she wasn't, what difference would it make. She wouldn't stop being a loser unless she changed everything about herself, how she felt about herself wouldn't change that. A loser was a loser.
But there was something different about her when Finn saw her leaving school that Thursday. She was talking with someone. Someone was actually talking to Daria, and Daria was talking back. Someone her own age. A friend. Finn had to pinch himself to make sure he was not dreaming.
The girl Daria was talking with was very tall, with black hair. She was moderately attractive, but dressed so frumpily in a garish red and black ensemble that Finn would normally never associate with her. Finn briefly considered following them. The other guys had things to do today, so he had no one to hang out with. It was too early to call a girl; dating on the first week was a sign of weakness and desperation. So Finn had little choice but to head back home. He worked out until dinner.
Finn wanted to monopolize the conversation, but that would mean speaking to his mother. There was no way that was going to happen. He tried to talk to his father about everything that happened this week: football, the range, the batting cages. Jake sucked up each and every bit of the conversation, asking various questions, being every bit the involved parent.
"That's so great, Finn." Jake praised. "You found all those things in just one week. And you've made three really great friends, and I'm sure once football starts, you'll make many more."
"And then there's the girls from the Fashion Club. I don't think I'd date them, but they know how to look good. I mean, there was this girl I saw earlier in this absolutely hideous red blouse, black skirt and thigh-high boots. I mean, total blech!" Finn casually insulted the wardrobe of the girl that he had seen talking to Daria. She'd probably know to whom he was referring; no one else could clash that badly.
"Daria, how is the self-esteem class coming?" Helen asked pleasantly.
"They told us to discover things in our past that made us feel worse about ourselves, and remove them from our lives." Daria answered. Finn thought a perfect retort to that, but he bit his tongue and let it go. He didn't want another lecture.
"Well, isn't that great." Jake replied.
"What are you going to remove?" Helen asked.
"Can we put Finn up for adoption?" Daria stated, looking directly at her brother when she said it. Finn kicked her under the table.
"Now, Daria." Helen was very mild with her, which filled Finn with rage. Every time he taunted Daria, he got yelled at for being mean, or insensitive. She was just cautioned.
"They also said to recreate scenes from our childhood which brought us great joy." Daria continued.
"That sounds inspiring. What scene were you thinking of?" Helen asked.
"That time when Finn was punched unconscious by Brick Walton and had to go to the hospital. How many stitches was it again?"
"That was a cheap shot!" Finn defended. "I could've taken him."
"Well, too bad. And I was really starting to feel my self-esteem rise earlier today." Daria dismissed.
"Oh my." Helen placed her hand to her chest.
"I'm feeling my self-esteem fall too. I mean, Daria says such mean things." Finn stated in a sarcastic tone, although he was deadly serious about his accusations toward Daria.
"That's not funny, Finn." Helen dismissed, yet again.
"Then I'm finished eating." Finn sighed and went upstairs to his room. Soon the loud music was playing again, and he had started another exercise routine.
"Daria, do you think you can follow those things the teacher told you without injuring, abandoning, or murdering your brother?" Helen asked.
"They said make us happy. Finn not being around makes me happy." Daria returned.
"Daria, you were only one year old when Finn was born. You don't remember life before he was around."
"But I know what it's like when I don't see him. Give it a try, you'll like it too."
"Daria, that's kind of harsh." Jake stated.
"I mean, Daria, you can't begrudge Finn for existing." Helen said derisively. "Perhaps if you found a friend or two, you'd be able to do more things then sit in your room."
"I did meet a friend in my self-esteem class." Daria noted.
"That's incredible!" Jake praised.
"I told you it could be done." Helen was equally as joyful.
"I suppose Finn's out twenty bucks for that bet, then." Daria commented.
"Daria." Helen shot her another glare. "Can we get back on the topic of your new friend? You said she's in the self-esteem class too. Perhaps becoming friends will help you feel better about yourselves."
"Maybe. But perhaps when you see how we can convert Finn's room into a home office, you'll consider the adoption thing." Daria smiled.
Helen sighed for a moment as she removed her earrings before heading to bed.
"What's wrong, honey?" Jake, already in bed, asked supportively. "Are you still worried about Daria?"
"It's both of them, Jake." Helen glumly admitted. Normally, she wouldn't dare admit aloud that her children stressed her. Only to her husband, who shared raising them, at least in theory, could she say something to.
"Both of them? What happened to Finn?" Jake seemed concerned.
"You try to instill values into them, and they just don't want to listen." Helen ignored his question. The problem with one child was the same problem with the other with a few proper noun changes. Neither Daria nor Finn listened to her. It was a brutal slap to the face to receive the call from the counselor about Daria's self-esteem, despite all the messages Helen had given her about taking pride in her accomplishments, and that she was special.
There had been no shortage of calls from different therapists from the different schools Daria had attended, claiming she didn't interact with the other children to some rather violent stories she had written, to her confrontations with several teachers. Although Helen was proud of her daughter's strong sense of justice, and that she was unafraid as a woman to stand up to even the toughest men, but she refused to interact and improve her social skills. She hadn't had even one friend before Daria delivered the announcement this evening, and Helen hadn't even met her yet. Who knew what kind of person she would be?
"And Finn..." Helen glumly thought of her other child. He was the most outgoing and energetic child ever since he was very young. He made friends with practically everyone in a very short period of time, and it was astonishing to see how seamlessly he blended into moving to Lawndale.
But Finn's grades were pathetic, by Helen's standards. Straight C's, at best, and he could certainly do better if he tried, which he wouldn't. He only cared about parties, the latest sports game, and his personal vanity was astounding, spending even longer then Helen herself to get ready in the morning.
Helen knew, more then anything, that siblings fought. She had two other sisters, and the fights between them were legendary, at least they were with her older sister, Rita. Even more shallow and narcissistic than Finn, Rita never worked a day in her life, clinging to rich men like a wet towel. Ever since Finn starting going through puberty and started his seductive attitude, Helen had been trying to make sure he didn't end up like Rita.
"Like I'd give the bitch the pleasure." She thought bitterly. Daria and Finn may not have fought as often, but they certainly were as bitter to each other, as Rita was to her. Despite all her desires not to, Finn was becoming the person she despised most. The fact that Finn was her son was heartbreaking.
"Honey?" Jake asked. Helen realized she had not addressed him in her thoughts.
"I think tomorrow I'll take an early day and spend time with Daria." Helen stated. Finn would have to wait; Daria's self-esteem, new friend or not, was more important than toning down his narcissism. Helen hated the idea of prioritizing between her two children, but she had to make a good impression on Eric Schrecter, her new boss, and with Daria having trouble adjusting, Finn would have to take the back burner this time. There was only so much she could do.
"I'm sorry, Finn." She privately thought the apology she would never say aloud. Concentrating on Daria's attitude and the calls from the counselors her whole life often made Helen worry that Finn might feel left out. But he had all his friends at school, and Jake's level of involvement with him was phenomenal, even if Jake couldn't handle the tougher issues due to his meekness. Even now, Helen still blushed when she had to step in the time Finn needed the talk about his first erection. But despite all that, Helen still wondered, although she didn't want to believe, if Finn ever felt abandoned by his mother.
The weekend couldn't come soon enough for Finn. Finally, enough time to do all the things he really wanted to do. He made his entire game plan during the week so that, once Friday's school day ended, he wouldn't have to be home unless he was sleeping. He didn't accept any dates, but he did ask the three girls from the Fashion Club to give him advice regarding his hair. This was a new town, Finn had informed them, and he wanted a new style. Sandi, the leader of the group, was only too happy to accept, and offered her house for the matter. She also asked him to bring his swim trunks, as she had a new hot tub installed and was eager to take it for a test run when they were finished.
Aside from that, he was meeting Tanya Crawford for coffee, which wasn't a date, Finn reasoned, as there was no food involved. Finn also planned another football game, where he planned on meeting Kevin Thompson, who was apparently the varsity quarterback, and Michael MacKenzie, who was the captain of the team. Finn reminded himself to make a good impression on the captain, who was only one grade ahead, and would probably remain in such a position barring some catastrophic injury, Heaven forbid. Between that friendship and honing his skills at the game, he'd make varsity for sure.
Finn was in a very good mood as he headed home, but it nearly evaporated when he reached the house and saw that his mother's car was in the driveway.
"It's 3. What on Earth is she doing home? Did her office burn down? No, she'd be at the courthouse with paperwork if that happened."He thought. He opened the door to find Helen seated in the living room. She stood up when she heard the door open, but she seemed almost disappointed when she learned it was her son walking through the door.
"I still exist. Sorry." Finn thought bitterly at his mother. Aside from Daria, Helen Morgandorffer was the only one who could evoke bitter thoughts from him.
"Hi, Mom. You're home early." Finn knew that whatever reason she had decided to take a rare snow day, it had nothing to do with him. Maybe she wanted to spend the day with Daria working on her self-esteem.
"Another excuse for Daria to bitch about me." He thought.
"Yes, well, it's a long story, Finn." Helen remarked.
"I'm just going to go change. I've made plans, don't wait up." Finn said while heading up the stairs.
"Don't be out too late now." Helen instructed.
"Yeah, yeah." Finn disappeared up the stairs. Finn changed and scooped up his trunks before heading back downstairs. While there, he noticed that Daria had arrived home. She was talking with Helen in the living room, and that black-and-red clad girl from the school was with her.
"So you're one of Daria's friends." Helen was animated and pleasant with the new girl, the way she always was when she met new people.
"My name's Jane." The girl replied. Her tone wasn't as flat as Daria's was, but she certainly had the flavor of a cynic.
"Oh, Finn, there you are. I didn't know you had left yet. Come here."
"I gotta run, Mom. Sandi's expecting me."
"I thought you didn't have a date tonight."
"It's not a date, it's a hair appointment." Finn noted.
"Anyway, this is Daria's friend, Jane. They met at school earlier in the week. This is Finn, Daria's younger brother." Helen introduced. The corners of Jane's mouth twitched only slightly at the introduction.
"Well, Daria and I were going to have a mother-daughter bonding day." Helen explained. Daria appeared to be vehemently against the idea.
"Oh yeah, you did mention that." Finn played along, smirking at Daria's suffering.
"Well, I'll be going then." Jane had very little manners, but she walked to the door without another word, and left the house.
"She seems nice enough." Helen commented. She and Daria started bantering a bit about Jane, but Finn had his own thoughts. Although Jane's face wasn't very expressive, she did seem to smile at Finn, which wasn't surprising. Most girls smiled when they saw someone with his looks. At least they did if they liked guys.
"Shall I break your heart, Daria?" Finn thought with an evil smile. "Your first friend choosing your brother over you? It seems fitting. You always make me suffer your indignities, try to tell them embarrassing stories about me. Time to show you who how the game is really played."
Sandi Griffin's house was a very nice little home. When Finn rang the doorbell, the door was answered by an older woman. Her mother, most likely.
"You must be Finn. Sandi mentioned she'd be having a friend over today. I'm Linda Griffin, it's nice to meet you. Come on in, let me get her." Finn noted to himself that Linda Griffin was very much like his mother. There was the same hollow words, the same posturing. Someone who was used to competition with others, and using whatever tricks were necessary to come out on top. Finn took a seat in the living room, where two young boys seemed to be engaged in a video game.
"You're doing it all wrong!" One said to the other. "You're supposed to aim for the head!" The two had light guns plugged in and appeared to be engaged in a shooter.
"You shoot like a blind old lady!" The other insulted.
"You boys both shoot like kids." Finn stopped their feuding.
"Who are you?" One of them asked.
"When you're fighting that boss, you aim for the wrists of the creature so it can't attack you." Finn instructed. The two boys quickly returned to their game following his advice, and found the strategy was working well.
"Hey, thanks!" One of the boys said. Finn chuckled to himself as the boys returned to their game.
"Ah, Finn, there you are." Sandi descended the stairs. "I hope that my brothers haven't said anything to upset you."
"Ah, not at all." Finn smiled at her. "Shall we begin? Where are Stacy and Tiffany?"
"They'll be here shortly. It seems punctuality is something I must address at the next Fashion Club meeting. Come, let us go upstairs while we wait." Sandi escorted him upstairs to her room. She was definitely taking Finn's request seriously; mirrors were set up almost like a salon.
"You've got a lot of products here." Finn noted.
"You never know when a fashion crisis will arise and need to be corrected. You seem to know your brands well. I take it you visit the spa often." Sandi asked.
"Well, I don't get like, manicures or anything. But you know something I really like, the paraffin wax."
"You're kidding, that is my favorite part of a spa date." Sandi eagerly agreed with him. "The feeling of smoothness when it is finished is worth every penny."
"Well then, I'm sure you know where the good ones are. Let me know when we're done so I can write it down. And hey, I'm sure I can introduce my father to him. He's a marketing consultant, and we can usually get a lot of great discounts from his clients."
"That is an incredible idea." Sandi agreed.
"But, business before pleasure." Finn steered the conversation. "Well, you can see how long and the style of my hair. What do you think would be a great new look going into the football season?" Finn and Sandi discussed hair for a moment, only to be interrupted by the entrance of Stacy and Tiffany.
"Oh, you're already here!" Stacy seemed remorseful.
"So nice of you two to attend. I thought I was quite clear we were to meet at 4:00." Sandi lectured.
"But Sandi, you said to meet at..." Stacy started.
"Gee, Stacy, I'm pretty sure I know what came out of my own mouth. Besides, you both know that the truly fashionable arrive early for their hair appointments. Creating art is a timely procedure." Sandi quickly silenced Stacy's outburst.
"I've thought...of a few ideas." The three girls started deliberating with Finn. Eventually, they decided to spike his hair upward.
"Fantastic!" Sandi praised.
"My best work." Tiffany stated.
"You look even more handsome, Finn." Stacy said pleasantly.
"Now, let's test out that new hot tub." Sandi stated. "Stacy, please escort Finn to the bathroom where he can change."
"Hot tub? I didn't know you installed that yet, Sandi." Stacy remarked. "I wish I had brought my bikini."
"Gee, Stacy, I would have thought my talk about the hot tub being finished on Thursday would tell you it would be ready for Friday." Sandi lectured again.
"Yeah, Stacy. It's that simple." Tiffany stated. Stacy let out another defeated whimper, and led Finn to the bathroom.
Hot tubs, pools, and other things usually meant only one thing for Finn; girls staring at him as he took his shirt off. It was one of his surefire ways to get the attention of a girl who thought she was playing hard-to-get. Sometimes, Finn even wore his shirt inside-out on purpose to school in order to change it quickly in the hallway in front of the girl he wanted to melt into butter.
"Only thing better are those shiny black boxers." He thought to himself. It was so simple to make them eat out of the palm of his hand. Finn wondered if Sandi would get her mother to obtain two certificates to the spa for a paraffin wax and massage. A free day at the spa was an effective gift.
Most of the people who showed up for the football game on Saturday were people Finn already knew. Most of them were freshmen, and Finn couldn't help but wonder if this was something the captain set up in order to see the new talent for himself before tryouts started. If it was true, then the captain must have been ingenious.
The guys started a few drills and warmed up before Jamie pointed out that the captain and the quarterback had both arrived. The quarterback was already wearing his shoulder pads and uniform, while the captain was dressed in civilian clothes.
"Hey there." Finn turned his best smile. "You must be Michael MacKenzie, the captain of the team."
"That's right. You can just call me Mack." The captain was impeccably polite.
"And I'm the QB." The quarterback stated. "I'm Kevin!" Kevin was overly enthusiastic about his position.
"I'm Finn Morgendorffer. I moved here recently." Finn introduced very formally. Mack was very polite, which meant he noticed politeness.
"Morgendorffer...that last name is familiar." Mack tilted his head and started to think a moment. That's when Finn realized that he would be in the same grade and classes as Daria. The absolute last thing he needed was that unpopular wretch ruining his chances on the football team.
"I've heard other people with that last name too. Must be common." Finn chuckled nervously. Mack cocked an eyebrow at his behavior, but did not press the issue.
"What position are you, captain?" Finn asked.
"You don't need to call me captain, this isn't an official game." Mack was extremely polite and humble, and that made Finn relax a little more. The quarterback seemed full of himself, and it would have been tough to make a good impression if the captain was as well.
"Time to show this freshman how real ball is played." Kevin cheered, and went over to the guys, who had all lined up.
"Everyone line up alphabetically by height!" Kevin stated with a shout. The freshmen all started looking at each other strangely. Mack groaned.
"Now's my chance." Finn thought.
"Um...Kevin, what difference does alphabetical make? Our last names just go on our jerseys." Finn remarked. Several of the freshmen started chuckling. Mack looked at Finn for a moment and starting pondering something
"Hope that's a good sign." Finn thought.
"Hey, what gives!" Kevin seemed upset that Finn called him out on that. "What are you, Finn, a Professor Aldert Epsteam?" Kevin mispronounced the name of the famous scientist. Mack and Finn both winced.
"I think my brain collapsed on itself a little from that one." Mack noted quietly, although Finn heard him. As the game started, Finn started to wonder whether taking the quarterback's reigns would be more beneficial for the team.
Finn wished that the weekend would have lasted forever. But, sure enough, the school week rolled around. Another boring week of stupid crap that Finn would forget the second after the test ended. If it wasn't for all his friends at the school, there'd be absolutely no reason to enjoy school. The second week of school progressed much like the first one, although the teachers started getting serious with their assignments. Finn groaned at the thought of reading Shakespeare. The "Immortal Bard" as the sappy Mr. O'Neill stated, did not justify his following with his plays.
"Maybe they were famous back then. Now it's just dry dusty words." Finn groaned as he put away his copy of Macbeth.
Football tryouts were on Thursday, but on that day, a surprise assembly was announced.
"Oh yeah, getting out of Barch's class." Finn thought to himself with glee. That science teacher seemed to dislike all of the males, but especially Finn, with a passion. There was no point in even trying in that class, Finn thought. She'd just fail him anyway. She was one of those bitter divorced women who blamed her husband and all males to distract everyone from her own pathetic failures. Any day where Barch's class was cut was fine with Finn.
Mr. O'Neill was on the stage, and he was talking about self-esteem.
"As if I need to hear that word again." Finn groaned. But, to his horror, he noticed some of the other students on the stage, and saw Daria and that friend of hers, Jane, seated on the stage. Were they going to speak?
"They better not." Finn thought.
"Who cares about this stupid assembly." Jeffy rolled his eyes. "We don't have bad self-esteem, we weren't in the class."
"They passed it in one week." Joey noted.
"It's just stupid they call an assembly for this." Jamie noted. Finn agreed. Barch's class was only slightly worse then this.
"And now." Mr O'Neill started speaking again. "Let's hear it for Daria Morgendorffer!" Mr. O'Neill applauded, the only person who actually did so, as Daria went up to the podium.
"Oh, dear God, she gonna bad mouth us all again." Finn thought.
"I just want to say that it's great to feel good about myself." Daria stated. Those were, without a doubt, the most optimistic words that ever came out of her mouth.
"Hey, that girl's last name is Morgendorffer." Joey noted.
"That's your last name, isn't it, Finn?" Jeffy asked. Finn tried to ignore the question.
"I couldn't have gained such a powerful image of myself without all of those who helped me. Most important, I'd like to thank my little brother, Finn Morgendorffer, who told me that I am great just the way I am. Where are you, little bro? Stand up and let everyone see who the real inspiration is!" Daria had a fake smile on her face as she made her speech.
"That girl is your sister?" Jamie asked. All three of Finn's best friends stared in open-gaped amazement at Finn. Other members of the crowd, recognizing Finn's name, stared to stare at him. Finn could feel himself blushing, wishing fervently he could disappear into the floorboards. He looked at Daria up on the stage, and saw the immense fake smile on her lips.
"That's it, kid gloves are off! We'll see just how you like it when I make your life a living Hell!"