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Quinn's Code (A Daria AU)

Story 2: Invite of the Geek

Lawndale, D-1337

Wednesday, October 6, 2005

Two teen sisters were walking to school in the early morning light. The younger of the two (with pixie-length red hair and wearing a 'cute' pink shirt with the logo of The Matrix emblazoned on the front and blue jeans) was walking ahead in agitation. She turned to her sister. "Stop following me, Daria!" She said. She walked on but she could tell that her misanthropic sister was still following her. "You're still following me!"

A contrast to her geeky, yet popular, sister; (with her 'manstopper' glasses, green jacket, mustard-colored t-shirt, black pleated skirt and large boots) Daria Morgendorffer shook her head, causing her long (mostly) auburn hair to blow about in the wind. "We go to the same school," she said, in a near monotone.

Quinn shook her head. "That doesn't mean we have to go along the same route!" she shouted. 'She could be walking with Jane or catching a lift with Jennifer!' she thought. She then saw three of the boys whom also went to Lawndale High approaching.

"Hey, Quinn, can I carry your books?" Joey Green asked.

"Hey, Quinn, can I carry your laptop?" Jeffy Brown asked.

"Hey, Quinn, can I carry your... uh... got anything else?" Jamie White asked.

'I could get used to this, and it has to get to Daria,' Quinn thought. She took a clip out of her hair and handed it to Jamie. "You can carry this hairclip," she said.

"Great!" Jamie said.

.1

"Careful, don't hurt yourself with that clip! Or with that laptop!" Daria said as she left the vicinity of her sister and her admirers. 'This is something I can write about,' she thought as she looked prior to crossing the street.

.2

"Is that your sister?" Jamie asked.

"It is, Jeremy," Quinn said, with a sigh.

"I'm Jamie." It seemed that no one at Lawndale High could remember his name. 'It was like that all through Middle School too!' he thought.

.3

At recess, Jamie and his friends approached their teammates Kevin Thompson (the quarterback) and Michael 'Mack' Mackenzie.

Kevin was saying "Now I remember! The party's to celebrate her parents being out of town."

"Hey, Joey, Jeffy, Jeremy."

"I'm Jamie," he said. 'What is it with people calling me Jeremy today. First Quinn and now the idiot junior-varsity QB!'

"Whatever. You going to Brittany's party?" Kevin asked.

"Uh, if we're invited," Joey said, as Quinn approached.

"You're on the team, dudes. When a cheerleader has a party, all the football players are automatically invited," Kevin said.

"It's on page six of the play book," Mack said with a sarcastic tone, whilst marveling at the sillyness of the high school social order and the rituals it entailed.

Mack's sarcasm went over the top of Kevin's head, as usual. "Really?" he asked. He turned to Quinn. "Hey, Quinn, what about you?"

"You want me to go to your girlfriend's party?" she asked.

"Sure!" Kevin said, unfazed.

"Sure," Quinn said. 'My first real party in Lawndale! I hope it doesn't get as rough as those in Highland!'

Joey, Jeffy and Jamie fell over themselves trying to ask Quinn out to the party...

.4

"...and so he invited me to Brittany's party. Is that weird or what?" Quinn asked her friends at lunch.

"You don't know Kevin. That is rather par for the course for him," Cindy Robinson said.

"It is still a bit weird though. It is not often that a new kid is invited to a cheerleader's party," Kristen Bell said.

"Well, I am curious as to how a party in Lawndale would go," Quinn admitted.

"Would you bring me with?" Kristen asked.

"I would consider it," Quinn said.

"That would be cool," Kristen said.

"It would be her first High School party," Cindy said.

"Really?" Quinn asked, incredulous.

"My first party since the summer, anyway," Kristen said. "I was invited to one or two high schooler parties in eighth grade."

"Ok," Quinn said, smiling.

"I would like to go also," Cindy said.

"I will see what I can do," Quinn said.

"You're going to ask Brittany?" Kristen asked.

"Maybe," Quinn said, thinking.

.6

Quinn approached Jennifer Burns as the latter exited her maths class. "Hi Quinn, how was today?" Jennifer asked.

"Mostly cool, but Kevin invited me to Brittany's party this weekend. That is so weird," Quinn said.

"That's strange," Jennifer said.

"Yeah," Quinn said.

"That's not what I meant," Jennifer said, with a quizzical look on her face.

"Oh?"

"I mean, Kevin invites you to Brittany's party, while Brittany invites Daria to her party."

"Why would Brittany do that? I mean, the only people that Daria likes are you and Jane," Quinn said, wondering (more at why Brittany was inviting Daria to anything more than anything else).

"Daria said that she helped Brittany with One-Point Perspective in art class, and that Brittany had invited her as a favour," Jennifer explained.

'That explains it,' Quinn thought. Something else intrigued her though. "Really?" she asked.

"Yeah," Jennifer said.

"No, I mean Brittany needed help with One Point Perspective?"

"Yeah,"

"I wonder how she got out of elementary school?" Quinn asked.

"You and me both," Jennifer said with a slight laugh.

"Anyway, there is still the fact that Kevin invited me, and now Cindy and Kristen want me to get them in too," Quinn said.

Jennifer was in thought. "You have to figure that one out yourself," she said.

"Yeah," Quinn said.

.7

In Quinn's 'hacker cave' of a room, Andrea Hecuba looked at the Javascript code on the screen as Quinn typed. "You want my opinion on what to do?" she asked.

"Of course," Quinn said, as she continued typing.

"Just sneak them in," Andrea said.

"Huh?" Quinn was confused.

"Brittany will be focused on the party. She won't notice two people whom she didn't invite," Andrea said.

"How do you know that?" Quinn asked, she knew that Brittany and Andrea didn't hang out.

"We were friends in Elementary School," Andrea said, with some bitterness; "two rough and tumble tomboys having fun."

"Rough? Brittany seems nice," Quinn commented.

"Not as rough as I was," Andrea said, with a tone of lamenting regret.

Quinn could hear the regret in Andrea's voice. "What happened?" she asked.

"A long story," Andrea said, flatly, reminding Quinn of her sister.

7 years earlier

Nine year old Andrea and Brittany, dressed in boys clothes, were playing with Lego in Brittany's bedroom. They stopped as they heard Brittany's mother, Vivian, yelling at her father, Steve.

"It is happening again!" Brittany said, twirling a finger in her short, blonde hair.

"Do you know why she is yelling at him?" Andrea asked, as she nervously ran a hand through her mid-length, dark brown hair.

"She says that he needs to be at home at night every night, or something," Brittany said. Andrea could hear the certainty that Brittany felt that her mother wasn't telling the whole truth. Brittany leaned against the bedroom door to listen. Andrea also leaned next to the door, next to her friend, to offer support if required.

They winced as they heard a door being slammed downstairs.

End of Flashback

Quinn typed slowly, waiting for Andrea to speak after saying "A long story."

A minute passed.

"Sorry," Quinn said. 'Must be rather unpleasant memories,' she thought.

Andrea snapped out of herreminiscence. "Right," she said.

"You were saying that Brittany won't notice Cindy and Kristen?" Quinn asked.

"She won't. You can just sneak them in," Andrea said.

"Ok," Quinn said, thinking.

.8

It was a usual Morgendorffer dinner. Jake was reading the paper (the Lawndale Sun-Herald), Daria was reading the book she had purchased on the life of Mozart 2 weeks previously (she was almost finished), Quinn was reading a game guide (the game in question being a RPG on the X-Box) and Helen was wondering if there would ever be any family interaction at dinner. "Did anything interesting happen at school today?" she asked.

Quinn put the game guide down. "I was invited to a party this weekend," she said.

"A party, where?" Helen asked.

"Brittany Taylor's. Actually it was her boyfriend who invited me," Quinn said.

"That's fascinating!" Helen said.

"Yeah. My first party in Lawndale!" Quinn said.

Helen turned to Daria. "Have you heard of this?" she asked.

"Brittany invited me, I haven't decided if I am going to go or not," Daria said.

"You can't go, you will embarrass me," Quinn said.

"Touché," Daria said.

"You should ground her because..." Quinn said. She groped for a reason; "her room is a mess!"

Helen looked at Quinn, knowing that her 'hacker cave' was as messy as her sister's unusual room.

"If I go down for that one, I'm taking you with me!" Daria said.

Helen sighed. Before Quinn could come up with a retort she said; "I think it's great that you two are going to be spending time together. Dad and I would be happy to drive you to the party and pick you up."

"No!" the sisters said in unison.

"There are another two days of school before then, I'll find a way to get there," Quinn said, she finished her vegitarian lasagna and left the kitchen nook.

Once Quinn was gone, Helen said; "Daria, I would like it if you would keep an eye on Quinn at this party."

Daria looked at her mother "As if!" she said.

Helen sighed. "She doesn't have to know about it, Daria!" she said.

Daria ignored her mother, as she chewed on the tasteless lagagna.

"Daria, answer me!" Helen demanded.

"I don't know what I did, but it couldn't have been that bad," Daria said.

"I just want you to keep an eye on her," Helen said.

"Is this a way of acknowledging how much more trustworthy I am?" Daria asked.

"It's my way of saying that if you don't do it, I'm sending both of you with a babysitter."

"I'll take that as a ringing declaration of parental approval," Daria said, in her customary monotone, she then finished her lasagne and left the kitchen nook.

Helen sighed.

Thursday, October 7, 2005

Daria arrived at Casa Lane. She could see Jennifer's Beetle parked behind Trent's Satellite. 'I see that Jennifer takes better care of her car than Trent does,' she thought as she passed the unusual lawn ornament. She knocked on the door. Jane answered it. "Hi, Daria, come in," she said.

.9

Jennifer had brought Jane some takeaway breakfast, as the Lane fridge and cupboards were rather empty (It seemed that Trent hardly did any grocery shopping).

"So, Brittany invited you to the party?" Jennifer asked, as she took a bite out of a muffin.

"Yeah," Daria said. "And Kevin invited Quinn, as I am sure you have heard," she continued.

"You are not thinking of going, are you?" Jane asked.

"My Mom has roped me in as a babysitter, Now I have to go," Daria said.

"Ouch," Jennifer said. 'About as bad as having to babysit my cousins in middle school," she thought.

"Bummer!" Jane exclaimed.

"I don't want to go with Quinn alone," Daria said.

"You want us to come with you?" Jennifer asked.

"Yes," Daria said.

"Someone has to ensure that you don't embarrass Quinn too much, I guess. I'll come." Jennifer said, shyly. She really did not like parties. "But how are we going to get past the guards?"

"Actually, I have some life drawings that may come in handy," Jane contributed.

"You did life drawings?" Daria asked.

"Last summer," Jane answered.

"Interesting," Jennifer said.

"There is time before school. You want to have a look?"

"Sure," Daria said.

"Your art always gives me a laugh," Jennifer said.

"Cool," Jane said, as she stood up. 'All this time, and she never told me,' she thought.

.a

Soon the 3 teens were in Jane's room, leafing through the sketchbook. "These are really good," Daria said.

"Thanks. I do have talent. It runs in the family," Jane said. Suddenly the house was shaken by loud discordant music from the basement. "Ok, most of the family," she conceded, as her brother Trent continued to rock the house at its foundations.

'Must be a new song,' Jennifer thought. She didn't recognise the (rather vague) tune.

"Ok," Daria said, she glanced at the page she had stopped at. The picture described by the lines looked unnatural. "You're really bursting out of the picture plane here," she said.

Jennifer briefly looked at the picture. Her eyes opened with with shock before she looked away. 'That's just wrong,' she thought.

"Oh, yeah. That particular model was quite bursty. I think she had her bursts done," Jane said. There was another jarring burst of rock/metal music from the basement. "Sounds like all of Mystik Spiral rather than just Trent," she mused.

Jennifer nodded in agreement.

"Mystik Spiral?" Daria asked. 'Sounds like the name for a Doors cover band, rather than whatever they are attempting to be,' she thought.

"That's Trent's band. I could introduce you to them," Jane offered.

Daria thought about it. "As much as I would like to meet your brother, we need to get to school," she said.

Jane looked at the time. "You're right. You will have to meet Trent another time," she said, wistfully.

Jennifer looked at Daria meaningfully. Daria sighed. Jane chuckled. Soon the 3 teens were on their way out of the house, on their way to school.

.b

Andrea looked at the iMac screen as Quinn's AppleScript script finished running. She sat down on the robin's-egg-blue bed, next to one of Quinn's stuffed animals. "I must admitt that I was sceptical when I saw that you listed AppleScript on your application, Quinn." she said.

"Like I would have a Mac, and not use it?" Quinn asked.

Andrea scoffed at that. "Why have a Mac at all?"

"Apple does make programs that are interesting, and their hardware designs are cute, especially the iMac, second to the iPod. Anyhow, OS X is a good operating system, especially the 'Tiger' release," Quinn said.

'Of course she would think that the iMac is cute. This room just screams 'cute'. It says 'Hackers can be cute,' Andrea thought, as she looked around the room that was half 'hacker cave' and half 'typical popular 00's teen girl. It couldn't be more different to her own room if it tried. She stood up as she looked at a Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex poster. "I suppose so," she said.

Quinn could see that Andrea was distracted, looking around her room. She wondered if it had to do with what she had said the previous day. "Are you ok?" she asked.

"I'm fine," Andrea said, flatly.

"Ok, So what is the AppleScript score?" Quinn asked. 'Even if it's abysmal, it is worth finding out,' she thought.

"B+," Andrea said as she produced a form.

Quinn took the form and placed it between the iMac and one of her desktop PCs. She saw that Andrea had filled it out. 'Of course she would,' she thought as she signed it. She handed it back to Andrea.

"You are now a full member of the Programming Club, though you can hand the form in yourself," Andrea said, handing the form back.

"Cool!" Quinn said as she placed the form in her laptop case.

"I would do it first thing," Andrea said.

"Why?"

"Best to do it that way," Andrea said, enigmatically.

"Ok," Quinn said. 'What is she up to?' she pondered, not for the first time.

.c

Friday, October 8, 2005

Before homeroom, Quinn entered the office. "Hi, how may I help you?" the receptionist asked.

"Hi, I am handing in this club membership application," Quinn said, as she handed over the Programming Club Full Membership application.

"A third club, Ms Morgendorffer? Ms. Li would be thrilled to hear that," the receptionist said.

"She would?" Quinn asked, wondering why the Principal would be interested in her student's activities.

"Yes. Less than ten percent of the the Lawndale High student body has more than two extracurricular activities."

"Why would she be worried about that?" Quinn asked, still curious.

"The Principal is of the opinion that one can never have too much school spirit." the receptionist said as she typed.

Quinn thought, that certainly jived with what she knew of the principal so far. "That makes sense, what with the way she pronounces the school's name and all."

"That's it, done. You are now a full member of the Programming Club, as well as the Computer Club and the Anime Club."

"Cool," Quinn said, as she left.

.d

At lunch, Quinn sat with Cindy. "Where's Kristen?" she asked.

Cindy looked at Quinn "I'm not sure," she said.

Just then Kristen came up to the table, carrying her lunch and talking on her cell phone. "Thanks, that's great. It's a great help." A pause, then. "You too, bro, bye," she said. She turned to Cindy and Quinn. "All settled, Keith will be able to drive us to Crewe Neck's main checkpoint tomorrow night." She said, as she sat down.

Cindy considered this "But what about afterwards?" she asked.

"We still have to figure that out," Kristen said.

"Many people will be going. It probably will be safe to walk back into Lawndale proper, right?" Quinn wondered.

"That's an option," Kristen said.

"If they're all leaving at the same time, perhaps," Cindy pointed out.

"Like that's going to be an issue," Quinn said.

"True," Kristen stated. It was likely that most of the people going would leave at the same time.

"But what about your sister? Wouldn't she want to leave early?" Cindy asked.

"Not to mention Jennifer. I know she doesn't like going to parties," Kristen said.

"Oh yeah, but Daria will likely have her own transportation lined up. She likes having contingency plans," Quinn said.

"Besides, Jennifer has a car," Cindy said.

"Oh yeah," Kristen said.

They continued their discussion about the party and their plans for it.

Saturday, October 9, 2005

Late in the afternoon, Quinn walked along the street, looking for Cindy's house. The street, located approximately halfway between Glen Oaks Lane and the Cranberry Commons Mall, was lined with many nondescript houses. She recalled the house number that Cindy had given her, and the way Cindy had described her house. 'Medium sized house, two thirds the size of mine, brown bricks, green tiles and blue curtains in the windows,' she thought.

She soon found the house, although the name BROLSMA in large letters above the name ROBINSON in smaller letters on the mailbox confused her for a moment. She shrugged and walked up the path.

Cindy answered the door. "Hi Quinn, come in," she said.

Quinn entered. "I found it relatively quickly, though the mailbox was slighly confusing," she said.

Cindy was amused. "Yeah, Brolsma is my father's surname, Robinson's my mother's," she said.

"Ok," Quinn said. 'Morgendorffer sounds cooler than Barksdale, thank goodness,' she thought.

"Kristen and Keith will be here at six, so we have some time to get ready," Cindy said. She looked at Quinn, the ubiquitous laptop case had been replaced by bag of clothes.

"Cool! Lets go see what you have to wear," Quinn said.

"I hope you're not going to go overboard?" Cindy asked, with slight concern as she led Quinn upstairs towards her bedroom.

"Depends on what you call 'overboard'," Quinn said. Cindy held back a sigh.

.e

Daria knocked on the Lane front door. A tall lanky young man answered it. "Hi, you must be Daria, Janie is waiting in the kitchen with Jennifer," he said.

"You must be Trent," Daria said, recalling Jane's description of the younger of her two older brothers.

"Yes," Trent said.

'He is handsome. Did I just think that?'

.f

Daria walked into the kitchen, blushing. Jane noticed the blush. "I see that you have met my brother," she said.

"Go to hell, Lane," Daria said, with a slight embarrassed tone "How old is he anyway?" she asked.

Jane didn't answer, but Jennifer did "21," she said.

"I'm not even 16 until next month!" Daria said.

"True," Jane admitted. Daria was quite embarrassed. She didn't expect it to be 'crush at first sight'.

"Are you ok?" Jennifer asked.

"I will be," Daria answered.

"Good," Jennifer said.

"So, how are we going to the Party?" Daria asked.

"I'm thinking that Trent can drive us to the Party," Jane said.

"Trent?" Daria asked.

"It can't be that bad," Jane said.

Jennifer held back a sigh. Instead she asked; "Why Trent?"

"Where can we leave your car?" Jane asked.

Jennifer thought for a moment. "Good point," she said.

"What about afterwards?" Daria aked.

Jane shrugged. "We can walk, the area between Crewe Neck and West Lawndale is well lit, and there is very little crime in West Lawndale," Jane said.

"Generally true," Jennifer said, agreeing with Jane.

"So we can walk, or catch a lift with one of the other partygoers," Daria stated.

"Yes, if we must," Jennifer said.

"What about Quinn?" Jane asked.

"She would be making her own arrangements," Daria stated, flatly, though Jennifer was sure that she detected a hint of hostility.

'What is it between those two?' she wondered, not for the first time.

"Ok," Jane said.

The trio continued to talk for a while before going to wake up Trent.

.g

Keith pulled his car up in front of the Brolsma/Robinson house.

"We will be ten minutes at most," Kristen said, as she got out.

"Ok," Keith said, as he turned off the engine.

Kristen went towards the house.

.h

The sound of the doorbell resounded as Cindy finished putting on a red dress that she hadn't used since the beginning of the previous summer.

"I told you that you would look great!" Quinn said.

Cindy looked at herself in the mirror yet another time. She did look great. "Thankyou, Quinn. This isn't what I call overboard," she said, and did a pirouette.

"Thanks. I do have great color-sense. You look great, Cindy. Boys will notice you," Quinn said.

"Hopefully, not the wrong sort of boys. Like the football team, or Upchuck," Cindy said.

"I don't think the latter would be there, but Joey, Jeffy and the other one aren't that bad," Quinn said.

"I wouldn't be surprised that Upchuck found a way to get invited," Cindy said.

Quinn's would be reply was interrupted by Cindy's mother announcing Kristen's arrival.

"Hi, Kristen," Quinn said.

"I see you have redecorated since I was last here," Kristen said, taking in the many new posters on the walls.

"Uh, yeah," Cindy said, embarrassed as she stepped in front of one of the many World of Warcraft posters. Quinn glanced at a Baldur's Gate II: Throne of Bhaal poster.

"That's ok, I should have visited since last year anyway. You look good in that dress, by the way," Kristen said.

"Thanks, Quinn helped me pick it out," Cindy said.

"Cool," Kristen said.

They talked for another minute before leaving to go the the party.

.i

At Casa Lane, Trent walked into the kitchen. "Are you and your friends ready to go, Janie?" he asked.

"Of course we are," Jane said.

"Do you know the way?" Daria asked quietly.

"Um, sure. Crewe Neck, right?" Trent asked.

"Yes, Trent," Jane said.

"Cool," Trent said.

"I'll move my car out of the driveway," Jennifer said.

"No need, I can drive on the lawn," Trent said.

"No, Trent, remember the last time you tried that? You almost hit the scupture, and the mailbox, and almost crashed into the house!" Jane said.

"Actually, that was Jesse," Trent said, in defense.

"Really?" Jane asked.

"Yes," Trent said.

"I'll move the car anyway. Just in case," Jennifer said.

.j

15 minutes later, the three teens got out of the ageing Plymouth close to the main Crewe Neck gate/entry.

"Are you sure that you don't want to crash?" Jane asked as she got out.

"A high school party? Please. Don't you think I'm a little mature for that?" Trent asked, prior to Daria and Jennifer getting out.

"Don't do anything I wouldn't," Trent said as he drove away.

"Bye," Daria said.

"Nice Conversational Skills," Jane said.

Jennifer rolled her eyes.

.k

They approached the guard house.

"We're here for Brittany Taylor's party." Daria asked.

"Names?" the guard asked.

"Daria Morgendorffer."

The guard checked his clipboard and nodded "Okay, and you two? What are your names?"

"Tiffany," Jane said to the guard. "There's gotta be one," she said to Daria and Jennifer in a low voice.

"Tiffany Hodge, Tiffany Duke, Tiffany Fairchild or Tiffany Blum-Deckler?" the guard asked in a matter-of-fact tone.

"Uh? Tiffany Duke?" Jane asked.

"Strike! You're out. I made that one up!" The guard said, triumphantly.

"Oh... she's not on the guest list. She's been hired to draw our portraits. She's very talented," Daria said.

"Very talented," Jennifer said, as an emphasis.

"And your name is Tiffany Duke, huh?" the guard asked.

"What a coincidence!" Jane said.

"These are some of her sketches from art class. They're very lifelike," Jennifer said, handing the sketchbook with the life drawings to the guard.

"Wow, these are pretty hot..." Soon the guard was distracted by the contents of the sketchbook. Daria, Jennifer and Jane then took the opportunity to enter Crewe Neck...

.l

5 minutes after Trent had dropped off his sister and her friends, Keith pulled up near the gatehouse. "Here you go," he said.

"Thanks!" Quinn said with enthusiasm.

"See you later, Keith," Cindy said.

"See you tomorrow, bro," Kristen said.

"See ya's," Keith said as he drove off.

They walked up to the gate house.

.m

They waited for the guard to come out, for about a minute before they were annoyed at the guard's tardiness.

"Hello? Hello? A group is waiting!" Quinn said, with impatience.

The guard looked up from the life drawing of the 'enhanced' model (the one that was 'quite bursty'). "Oh!" He said. He grabbed the clipboard as he put the notebook down. "Name?" he asked.

"Quinn Morgendorffer, plus two," Quinn said.

"We're the plus two," Cindy said, indicating herself and Kristen.

"There is no indication of a 'Plus two' here!" the guard said.

"It was a last minute change!" Quinn said, with an indignant tone.

"Ok, you can pass," the guard said.

"Thanks!" Quinn said, as she and her friends passed by.

The guard went back inside the guard house and picked up the notebook.

.n

As the two groups walked through the up-scale gated community towards the Taylor's mansion, the group of freshmen passed by the group of sophomores. As such, Quinn, Kristen and Cindy arrived at the mansion first.

.o

As she entered the house, Quinn saw that Brittany was nowhere to be seen. Instead her fellow cheerleaders Angie Zammit and Nikki Dowling were greeting the guests at the door.

"Welcome to Brittany's first party of the school year," Angie said, with a slightly bored-sounding tone.

"Where everyone has fun!" Nikki enthused.

"Right!" Kristen said. They then entered.

.p

Less than 5 minutes later, Daria, Jennifer and Jane approached the mansion.

"And you say that Brittany's father made his money as a real estate agent?" Daria asked Jennifer.

"Yes, he started out that way, and then went into property. He apparently owns many rental properties. Most of them are in East Lawndale, but there are others scattered around the county," Jennifer said.

"And you know this, how?" Jane asked.

"I pay attention to the newspapers," Jennifer said, as they reached the end of the front driveway of the mansion.

Daria tuned out Angie and Nikki's greetings as they entered.

.q

Tori Jericho was doing what she did best at parties, pointing out the popularity levels of other students. She had the rapt attention of Sandi Griffin and (the not so rapt attention of) Tiffany Blum-Deckler. "Now she's really popular, but not as popular as she is. He's medium popular, and he just bought a great car so soon he'll be getting more popular. That guy was just popular enough to be invited, but now he needs to hook up with a girl who's more popular than he is."

Daria, Jane and Jennifer found Brittany with Kevin and Mack in the front loungeroom.

"Hi, Daria, glad that you could make it," Brittany said.

"Um, yeah," Daria said.

"Interesting decorations," Jane said.

"Yeah, my father gets his paintings from a gallery downtown," Brittany said.

"That would be Gary's wouldn't it?" Jennifer asked.

"I'm not sure," Brittany said, as she twirled her hair.

"Hey, Burnout Girl, how did you, like, get in. I know that Britt didn't invite you," Kevin was about to say more, but was interupted by Jennifer.

"Kevin. How many times have I told you that I hate that name!" She exclaimed!

"Aahh!" Kevin ran off, Jennifer being angry wasn't pretty.

"Kevvy? Come back!" Brittany said as she ran off.

"Unfortunately, you're stuck with it. Just that I am stuck with Mack-Daddy," Mack said.

"I don't have to like it," Jennifer siad.

"True," Mack said.

"Now that you've scared off the hostess, will you find Quinn and ensure that she doesn't get into trouble?" Daria asked.

"What sort of trouble?" Jennifer said.

"Oh you know, boys chasing her. Ensure that she doesn't encourage them either," Daria said.

"No, Amiga. From what you have told me, I am sure that she can take care of herself. Let's go to a secluded spot and observe the party from there," Jane said.

.r

"Wait, Jennifer," Mack said as Daria and Jane went off.

Jennifer told Daria and Jane that she would catch up. "Yes, Mack?" she asked.

"I am sure that you have noticed, something, about the Morgendorffer sisters, given that you are hanging around the two of them?" Mack asked, barely above the background noise.

"Um, sure," Jennifer said, not sure where the conversation was going to head.

"Most of the time when I have heard Daria talk about her sister, and that isn't often, I have heard an undertone of hostility. Do you have any idea what that is about?" Mack asked.

Jennifer thought for a bit. "No idea. Neither of them volunteers anything. I guess that it will remain buried," she said.

"I hope so. I can't imagine feeling the same for my brothers."

"I wouldn't know, given that I am an only child. I am close to my cousins, but that is not the same thing."

"That's True," Mack said.

"I guess that we will have to wait and see," Jennifer said, by way of saying that the conversation was over.

"Yeah," Mack said.

.s

"Hey, Quinn," Joey said.

"Hey, Quinn," Jeffy said.

"Hey, Quinn," Jamie said.

"Um, guys? Could you get me and my friends a soda each?" Quinn asked.

"Sure," Jamie said.

"I'll get Quinn, and her friends a soda each!" Joey said.

"No, I'll get Quinn, Kristen and Cindy a soda each!" Jeffy said. The three boistrous jocks then left the vicinity, each trying to out-do the other.

"Did you really have to do that?" Cindy asked.

"Not really, but their competitive-ness is cute," Quinn said.

"I admit, it is intriguing," Kristen said.

.t

Then Joey returned with three sodas, with ice in a plate. "I got you three each a drink," he said.

"The ice isn't crushed," Kristen said, guessing that Quinn was about to say that.

"That doesn't matter. You know, Jeffy still sleeps with a teddy bear."

"Crushed ice would be nice," Quinn said.

"I'll go crush some," Joey said. He left, passing Jeffy whom also had three sodas. He offered the three friends some pretzels.

"These aren't twisty," Cindy said as she looked at the pretzels.

"Maybe," Jeffy said, as he thought. "You know, Jamie's a really sloppy kisser."

"What?" Kristen asked while Cindy and Quinn gave him strange looks.

"I heard it from a girl!" Jeffy retorted.

"I would like some twisty pretzels too," Quinn said, as she saw Jamie in the distance.

"I'll go twist some," Jeffy said as he hurried off.

Jamie then approached and gave them a soda each and some round crackers.

"I like square crackers," Quinn said.

Jamie proceed to chew the crackers so tha they were square.

"EEEEWWWWW!" All three friends exclaimed.

.u

Daria and Jane were waiting for Jennifer in a secluded corner. "Uh oh," Jane said as she noticed someone approaching.

"What?" Daria asked, noting her friend's tone of near alarm.

"Upchuck. The sleaze-ball of Lawndale High," Jane said, pointing to the new arrival. 'That is all she needs to know for now,' she thought.

Daria recognised him from several of her classes. She recalled that all the girls tried to sit as far away from him as they could.

Upchuck' moved in on the two loners. "Chuck Ruttheimer here. And You are?" he asked, although he knew who Jane was.

"Jane."

"Esmerelda," Daria said, thinking that to tell this creep her real name right away wouldn't be a good idea.

"A pleasure to meet you lovely ladies. I'll be your social director for the evening," Upchuck said. He gestured at the surrounding opulance. "Would you like a tour of the house? It's free." Sleaze dripped from every word.

"We have to wait for a friend," Daria said.

"A friend of the female persuasion, perhaps?" Upchuck asked.

Neither Daria nor Jane answered his question.

"Feisty!"

.v

Jennifer approached Daria and Jane with sodas and various acoutrements of food. She noticed Upchuck near them and nearly dropped the plate with shock.

She walked up to the situation slowly.

"Well, if it isn't the mysterious Ms Burns!" Upchuck said, his ultra-suave sleaziness at maximum intensity.

"Hi!" Jennifer barely let out.

"He is offering us a tour of the house," Daria said.

"Um, ok," Jennifer said. Anything would be better than staying in the main part of the party, even if it was in the presence of that sleaze-ball.

.w

Tori was continuing her popularity assessment of various party-goers. She pointed Quinn out. "She was new and cute so she became, like, popular overnight. Everyone seems to ignore the fact that she is a self proclaimed geek, like seriously!" she was about to say more about that topic, but was interuppted by Sandi.

"Tell me about it! I like, tried to tell people that geeks should not be popular! But they didn't listen!" Sandi said.

'So that was true afterall,' Tori thought. "Yeah, I heard about that. That took guts!" she said.

"Thank you. Anyway, everyone supported Quinn being popular. I even, like, offered her a vice-presidency in the Fashion Club. She turned it down!"

"Really?" Tori asked.

"Yes," Sandi said, she then had a thought. "You know, Tori, that Vice-President position is still open."

"Really?" Tori asked, while in thought.

"Yes. You can, like, help me with my plan for the destruction of that geek's popularity," Sandi said.

Tori didn't hesitate. "I'm in."

Sandi shook her hand. "Welcome to the Fashion Club, Tori Jericho."

Something about Sandi's demeanor unnerved Tori. 'What have I just gotten myself into?' she wondered.

.y

Whilst this discussion was going on Charles had began to lead the antisocial trio through the house.

"This five-bedroom house is designed in a combination of southern pseudo-plantation and late mock-Tudor styles. To your right, the quasi-Victorian breakfast nook. Straight ahead, the family den, which was inspired by the novels of Isak Dinesen."

'Good thing that he knows about said Danish writer," Jennifer thought. They walked up to the lawndry room door.

"And this... is the make-out room! Am I blushing? Confidentially, it's really the laundry room," Upchuck said, as he knocked on the door.

"Can it, Upchuck, or I'll break your face," came the reply of a member of the football team from the other side of the door.

This was followed by a fit of feminine giggling.

"As we've reached the end of our tour, I'd like to thank you for your undivided attention. Any questions?" Upchuck asked.

"How did you get invited?" Daria asked, assuming that Upchuck didn't just crash the party like Jane, Jennifer, Kristen and Cindy did.

"I dissected her frog," Upchuck said.

"That would do it," Jennifer mused.

.z

Quinn, Kristen and Cindy walked up to Brittany, whom was still looking for Kevin after the latter had run away from Jennifer.

"Hey, Brittany. Is there like, going to be any dancing. One can't have a party without dancing!" Kristen said.

Brittany thought whilst twirling her hair and looking vacant. "I didn't think of that," she said.

"Is there going to be any?" Cindy asked.

"Not sure. I will have to get Ashley-Amber's dance CDs out."

"Ashley-Amber?" Quinn asked.

"My Stepmom," Brittany said. "I'll be right back," she said.

"I guess we should have told you about that," Kristen said.

"Yeah, she could have been Brittany's older sister, or her cousin or something like that," Quinn said.

"True," Cindy said.

.10

Jennifer, Daria and Jane were still hanging around near the Laundry room, after Upchuck had left them (chasing after either Angie, Nikki or their friend Lisa).

Jane noticed some boys, one of them with his head appearing to be larger than natural proportions would allow, looking at them. She notified the other two of that fact.

"Don't they know we're from two different worlds? Regular and Popular?" Daria asked.

'Good one, Daria,' Jennifer thought with a small smile.

"The one in the green shirt is cute... In a head-too-big-for-his-body kind of way," Jane said.

Daria looked at Jane in disbelief

"I don't think so," Jennifer whispered.

"I hate you," Jane said to Daria in a non-serious way. She didn't hear what Jennifer said, but she assumed that she sided with Daria.

"Hey. Partying hard or hardly partying?" one of them asked.

'That's really bad,' Jennifer thought.

It seemed that Daria agreed with her. "Hardly Interested," she said.

"So, where have you girls been all our lives?" the one with the large head asked.

"Waiting here for you. We were born in this room, we grew up in this room, and we thought that we would die here... alone. But now you've arrived, and our lives can truly begin," Daria said, each word dripping with sarcasm.

"She likes you," the one with the large head said, as he nudged one of his friends.

'Wow. She sure can handle them,' Jennifer thought.

"Isn't that Quinn?" Jane asked, pointing.

Daria looked over. Indeed she saw Quinn, with her friends Kristen and Cindy amongst a group of ceramic tigers. She waved. "Yoo-hoo! Sis!" she shouted.

.11

"Isn't that Daria?" Kristen asked, when she noticed Daria waving and shouting.

"What is she doing?" Cindy asked.

"Ooh! Turning the embarrassment factor up to eleven!" Quinn exclaimed. 'Of course she would do something like that!' she thought.

"That would be embarrassing!" Kristen, sure that Kelly would be doing something similar if she had wanted to crash the party.

"Let's go somewhere where she can't see us," Cindy suggested.

.12

Brittany was in one of the upstairs rooms looking at Ashley-Amber's collection of 'dance' CDs.

'Songs of the Moulin Rouge. Sounds interesting,' she thought.

"Babe? What are you, like, looking for?" Kevin asked.

Brittany jumped. "Kevvy! Were you hiding in here?"

"Yeah. Burnout Girl was, like rather scary," Kevin said.

"Kevvy! If you didn't call her that to her face, she wouldn't have been 'scary'," Brittany said. She turned back to the CDs. She thought of using the example of Mack not liking to be called Mack-Daddy, but she decided to keep things simple. 'He has been calling him that for years, and still doesn't understand that he doesn't like it,' she thought.

"Oh, What were you looking for again?" Kevin asked.

"Party music," Brittany said.

"Oh," Kevin said.

"Exotic dance music. I don't think so," Brittany said. That topic didn't seem appropriate for a teen party.

"Hey Babe? What about this one?" Kevin asked, holding up a copy of Heffner's 34 Favourite Songs.

Brittany glanced at the explict image on the cover. "Kevvy! Put that back. There is nothing suitable here. I am sure that I have a copy of Oops, I Did it Again somewhere." She headed towards the door.

"Not that Spears chick, Babe!" Kevin exclaimed.

Brittany just glared at her boyfriend.

"You have any Aguilera?" Kevin asked.

"Maybe," Brittany said.

.13

After Quinn and her friends had retreated from her embarrassing calling out, Daria turned back to her friends. But Jane had gone, only Jennifer was there.

"Where's Jane?" she asked.

"She went off to the Laundry room with the big-headed dude. I think his name is Bobby," Jennifer said.

"Interesting," Daria said. 'Have fun, but not too much fun,' she thought, with a Mona Lisa smile on her face.

.14

At the gate house, the security guard had continued to pore over Jane's life drawings. Finally he couldn't stand it any longer. "I gotta take this class. I've got to find Tiffany," he said. He turned over the sketchbook and saw Jane's name written there. "I mean... Jane." 'Why did she have to lie about her name?'

He deserted his post and headed towards the Taylor's mansion.

Unfortunately, several bored Lawndale State students (and one of their High school aged friends), whom had taken to driving around Lawndale's boondocks, saw him desert the gatehouse and head deeper into the gated estate. They had heard about Brittany's party on the grapevine (mostly via MySpace) thus they decided to crash it. They drove around the lowered wooden gate, onto the lawn, and back onto the street. "Woo-hoo!"

"Party!"

They called more of their friends...

.15

Brittany came to Cindy, Quinn and Kristen in the Breakfast-nook. "I'm sorry. All I could find was recent pop music. That's just for listening to," she said.

"I guess that will have to do," Kristen said.

"Sure," Brittany said, as she put the music on.

Kristen started dancing. "This is actually a good beat," she said.

"Yeah," Cindy said. She and Quinn joined her.

.16

The now expanded Fashion Club (minus Stacy, whom hadn't been invited) looked on the trio of geeks dancing. "That is abominable!" Sandi proclaimed.

'The hide of her!' Kristen thought as she looked at Sandi "Have you done any dance lessons?" she asked.

"Well, no," Sandi admitted.

"Then you have no right to say that our dancing is abominable!" Kristen said. 'That should make her think!'

"You mean that you have?" Tori asked.

"Of course," Kristen said. She grabbed the approaching Joey and began to waltz with him. He was so shocked that it took about 15 seconds for him to respond.

"Woa, Kristen. That was unexpected," he said. There was a time when he thought Kristen was pretty, but then she went goth. 'She's still pretty, but she has nothing on Quinn,' he thought.

Jeffy and Jamie took advantage of Joey's distraction to try to dance with Quinn.

"Guys! One at a time!" Quinn exclaimed.

"I'll dance wth you, Quinn!" Jeffy said.

"No, Jeffy. I will dance with Quinn!" Jamie said.

"I said it first!" Jeffy said.

"I saw her first!" Jamie said.

"Guys!" Quinn exclaimed.

.17

Sandi couldn't stand the sight of two of the Three Js fighting over wanting to dance with the Geekendorffer. She spun around and walked off in a huff.

Tori glanced back before following her. 'Looks like the Three Js all have a crush on her. I guess that means that their popularity is going to go down if hers does,' she thought.

.18

Joey was still talking to Kristen and Jeffy and Jamie were still fighting over was going to dance with Quinn. Cindy decided to intervene. She grabbed Jamie and spun him around in a flamenco move.

"I guess you took dance lessons too?" he said.

"Yes, Johny, I did," Cindy said.

'Of course she has to get my name wrong, like everyone else,' Jamie thought. He and Cindy then danced to the beat.

.19

Angie walked into the living room with a CD. She showed it to Brittany. "I found this in one of your father's shelves in the Rec Room. This is a lot better than the music that is playing now. You just have to know where to look," she said.

"Thanks, Angie!" Brittany said. She went and changed the CDs over. The change in the mood was instantaneous.

.1a

"This music is a lot better!" Kristen said.

"Definitely! But I think I saw Upchuck somewhere!" Cindy said.

"You're probably imagining things," Kristen said, as she grooved with Joey.

"Don't sweat it, Cindy," Jamie said.

"You're right, Jared. Now lets do some groove-waltzing," Cindy said, wanting to try something new.

"Groove-waltzing?" Jamie said, momentarily overlooking Cindy getting his name wrong again.

"Yeah, a combination of a waltz and grooving, which is what Joey is doing with Kristen," Cindy said.

"Cool," Jamie said, uncertain.

"Don't worry. I'll lead," Cindy said.

Quinn looked at her friends dancing and wondered what it took to dance like that. 'I'll ask if they can teach me at some time,' she thought. Jeffy looked like he was enjoying himself though. 'It's not the dancing that matters, I guess. Its the company.' She didn't know what to think of Jeffy and his friends though. 'I am not ready for a steady boyfriend.'

.1b

Daria and Jennifer stood near one of the food tables. She turned to Tori, whom was dancing nearby and said flatly "It's the Soul Train. Beep-beep, get on board."

Jennifer quietly laughed at this.

Daria flashed a Mona Lisa smile in response to Jennifer's laugh.

.1c

The carpet around the laundry room door was covered in soap and suds. Then the door opened a crack and Jane peeped out. She saw nobody who would see her exit the room. She then slipped out and looked for Daria and Jennifer.

.1d

Jane quickly found her two friends. Jennifer was laughing. She quickly found what she was laughing at. A sock had adhered itself to her shoulder. She picked it up. "Very funny, Jennie," Jane said.

'Jennie' snatched the sock off Jane and handed it to Daria. She didn't much like being called by the diminutive but it was preferable to the name which Kevin had called her by earlier.

"What happened to Bobby Bighead?" Daria asked.

"I wasn't really interested," Jane said, with nonchlance.

Daria noticed that Jane's lipstick was smudged, and stared.

"OK, fine. He thought my head was a lollipop. Are you two ready to go?" Jane said, with some resigned irritation.

"I was ready to go before we got here. But I still need to look after Quinn," Daria said.

"I think she is taking care of herself," Jennifer said, looking at Quinn, her two friends and the Three J's dancing. Cindy and Kristen's impromptu dancing had grown more complicated, with Jamie and Joey changing between the two every twenty seconds. Jeffy looked besotted with Quinn and clearly wasn't taking notice of anything else.

Daria looked in that direction. "I guess so," she said. She lead her two friends to the door.

"Leaving already?" Nikki asked.

"Yes. We need to get home early," Jane said.

The trio left the mansion just as the gatecrashing college students pulled up outside (after they had raced around the estate a couple of times). 'looks like we have left just in time,' Daria thought. She knew that Quinn would be able to get away without any trouble. 'Its what she does best.'

.1e

The door slammed open as the college students entered the mansion.

"Come on in!" Nikki said oblivious.

They went to the living room, making loud noises over the dance music...

.1f

As the boisterous gatecrashers entered the living room, Quinn and Jeffy stopped dancing. "Um, Quinn, it looks like there is going to be some trouble here," Jeffy said.

"You're right. It's about time to leave," Quinn said. Kristen, Cindy, Joey and Jamie also stopped dancing as the gatecrashers proceeded to interrupt dance routines and conversations.

"Time to be going!" Cindy said. 'This is definitely not something I want to be involved in,' she thought.

"I agree," Kristen said. They then began to leave.

Brittany and Angie could be heard yelling at the gatecrashers in the background.

"Why did you have to crash my party!"

As they walked out of the estate, Daria, Jennifer and Jane saw a couple of police cars scream past them towards the party.

"Are you sure that Quinn will be alright?" Jennifer asked. 'I don't want to know why the police would be going there,' she thought.

"She is too savy for that," Daria said.

"So you think that she would be leaving as a result of those college aged crashers?" Jennifer asked.

"Yes," Daria said.

.1g

Quinn, her friends and the Three Js left the mansion via the back door and went towards the adjacent woods.

"Are you sure its safe?" Joey asked. 'That Metalmouth story involved some woods on the edge of town...'

"It's a gated estate, of couse it's safe!" Quinn said.

Cindy looked into the woods. She could see some of the street lights on the other side. "Let's go," she said and lead the group in.

Ten minutes later, they emerged from the woods near the gatehouse, where Daria, Jane and Jennifer were encamped. Daria and Jane were quizzing the estate residents as they arrived home from whatever activites they had attended. Jennifer was looking on with mixed amusement.

"What are they doing?" Quinn asked.

"They are asking the estate residents rather, embarrassing questions. Like old ladies their age," Jennifer explained.

"That's to be expected, I guess," Quinn said, in response. 'At least its better than what she did to those two things back in Highland,' she thought. The group sat down next to Jennifer and waited for the other two to join them.

.1h

Sandi, Tiffany and Tori slipped out of the Taylor's mansion whilst the police were talking to Brittany and Kevin.

"This party is a bust. This is a case where, like, it would be better for the parents to be at, rather than not," Sandi said.

"How are we getting home?" Tiffany asked.

"We ask someone for a lift!" Sandi said.

"There's Robert!" Tori said.

"Yes, Tori dear, ask him," Sandi said.

Tori sighed and walked up to Robert Korleski, as he approached his car.

'At least its a good car.' "Robert? Could you give me and a couple of friends a lift home?" she asked.

"Sure, Ma'am," Robert said, politely.

"Cool," Tori said, and waved Sandi and Tiffany over.

"You can sit up front, Ma'am," Robert said as Sandi and Tiffany approached.

"Thanks!" Tori said as she quickly got into the front passenger seat.

Sandi grumbled as she got in behind Robert, but otherwise said nothing. She knew she would have done the same in her place.

.1i

As people stopped entering the estate, Daria and Jane turned to the group. "What are your plans about getting home, Daria?" Cindy asked, knowing that Quinn didn't want to ask.

"We wait for someone leaving the party who is willing to take us home. Otherwise we walk," Daria said.

"I suppose," Cindy said, remembering the discussion she, Kristen and Quinn had had that afternoon. She settled down to wait.

She didn't have to wait long. Robert's car with the Fashion Club came roaring out of the estate.

"Keep driving," Sandi directed.

Robert looked at her in the rear view mirror. "Yes, Ma'am," he said, even though he felt that there was enough room for one of the other girls or for one of his team mates. 'Next time will be different,' he thought as he drove past.

"Ooh, that Sandi!" Quinn exclaimed.

"We can get the next car," Kristen said.

"Yeah, we can," Quinn said, calming down.

.1j

A few minutes later, Jodie and Mack pulled up in Mack's white Plymouth Valiant.

"Anyone need a lift?" he asked.

"Sure, Mack," Jeffy said.

"Sure, Mack," Jamie said

"Sure, Mack," Joey said.

Before any of the girls could object, the Three Js piled into the back seat.

Jodie saw that there was room in the front for another person so she her belt and moved over next to Mack. "There is room for one more."

The girls all looked at each other. Daria didn't particulary want to go with any male admirers of Quinn. Quinn thought that seeing Cindy and Kristen home would be a good idea. Jane thought that Daria needed her company. Cindy decided to wait. So did Kristen. So it was Jennifer who ended up sitting next to Jodie in Mack's car.

"Bye," she said, waving. "I'll see you tomorrow, Jane," she said as she got in.

"Just not too early," Jane said, with a smirk.

"Of course not, it will be Sunday," Jennifer said, with a small smile, before closing the door.

.1k

Mack then drove off. The Three Js continued waving out of the windows at Quinn until Mack had driven out of sight.

"There will be a few more cars, I guess," Jane said.

"There's no doubt about that," Daria said.

"We will take the next car," Quinn said.

"It would depend on who's driving," Kristen said.

"Maybe," Quinn said.

.1l

A minute later, another car came along. Upchuck wound down the passenger side window and said; "You ladies in need of a knight in shining armor?"

"Can't we just take the armor and ditch the knight?" Daria asked.

"Hey, it's a package deal, Toots!" Upchuck said.

'Like we would have taken his car and just left him here,' Quinn thought. She turned to her friends. "Let's go."

Cindy moved to get into the back seat, but Kristen objected. "Ride home with Upchuck! Really?" she said, with scorn in her voice.

"If you're worried about him finding out where you live, Kristen, you can come to my place," Quinn said.

"Would you risk having to ride home with Kevin?" Daria asked.

Kristen thought for a few moments. 'Both are very good points,' she thought. She definitely didn't want to drive home with Kevin. 'And I don't want to walk home alone.'

"You don't have to look at him," Jane said, as she sat in the front, and trying to ignore Upchuck's grin.

"You do have a point," Kristen said to Daria.

"Let's go," Daria said.

"I'm coming," Kristen said, as she got in behind Jane.

Quinn, Cindy and Daria got in the other side, with Daria behind Upchuck. "We're ready," Daria said.

Upchuck drove away from the Estate.

"Where to first?" he asked.

"1111 Glen Oaks Lane," Quinn said.

"Good street," Upchuck said. A few moments later he went back into 'tour guide mode'; "To your left, the home of the town director of public works, built on unstable landfill. To your right, a flattened squirrel. Straight ahead, the future!"

"Stuff a sock in it, Upchuck!" Daria said.

Upchuck growled his usual flirtatious growl. "Fiesty!"

'It really was a good party. That dancing was great. I don't know what to make of Jeffy though,' Quinn thought.

Contains dialogue from The Invitation by Anne D. Bernstein.

A/N

StarReader86: Kristen is the black haired Goth with the red streak.