: All recognizable characters are owned by Glenn Eichler and MTV; no infringement is intended, and no money is being made. Also, close paraphrasing and some verbatim use from various episodes, again, no infringement intended.
Daria, Jen, and Jane were walking through the halls as they heard Kevin skid to a stop in front of his best friend, Michael McKenzie. "This is it, Mack Daddy! The week of weeks!"
Mack looked at Kevin, partially amused. "Too much hero worship isn't healthy, you know. And don't call me that."
Kevin kept going, non-plussed. "But the man is coming! The man! Tommy Sherman brought it home, bro! The state championship. And now, he's coming back to Lawndale."
Mack sighed. "I know all about it. Jodie's giving the speech about the new goal post, remember?"
"Oh yeah! Does she need any help with ideas for that? Like, from a quarterback's point of view."
Mack eyed Kevin. "Gee. I'll ask her... when there aren't any sharp objects around."
"Cool!" Kevin responded, obliviously.
Later, out on the high school lawn, Daria turned to Jen and Jane and asked, "What's the big deal about this football guy, anyway?"
Jane smirked. "He was quarterback three years ago when the school won the state championship. My brother knew him."
"Well, why name the goal posts after him? Why not the whole stadium?"
Jen grinned. "Goal post.
"See, his trademark was, he always wanted to run the touchdown in himself," Jane reminisced.
"A real team player."
"But he couldn't keep from waving to the crowd when he did it. They cheered, he waved, and wham! He ran right into the goal post," Jane continued.
"What an intelligent young man," Daria snarked.
"He broke his own nose twice," Jen piped in.
"Then, in the playoffs a week before the state championship, he scored the winning touchdown, and hit the goal post so hard he cracked his helmet. He was unconscious for six days. Miraculously, he woke up the night before the big game feeling great. The next day, he led the team to victory." Jane seemed unimpressed.
"Isn't it?" Jane smiled. "So now the school's bought one of those new goal posts designed to break apart rather than split your skull."
"Why only one?"
"Budget cuts," Said Jen.
"And they're naming it after good ol' Tommy Sherman." Jane winked. "And here comes the lucky Student Council member who will do the honors." Jodie walked up to the group.
"Gimme a break. Hey, Daria, I can't get past the introduction to this speech. Can I read it to you?"
Daria gave a wry grin. "Does that mean I don't have to listen to it later?"
Jodie sat down and began to read from her notes. "'Good afternoon, students, faculty, and distinguished alumni of Lawndale High. As a representative of your Student Council...' Any ideas?"
"It is my privilege today to once again send the message that learning is no substitute for winning." Daria said in her signature monotone.
Jen jumped in. "And that it's not how hard you study, it's how hard you play football
"Gosh, thanks so much. You think I like this?" asked Jodie, looking down.
"If you don't believe any of it, why give the speech?" Daria asked, genuinely interested.
"Because I'm on the Student Council. It's a job with many responsibilities, and today it's my responsibility to kiss the butt of some jerk getting a goal post named after him, but at least now I feel really good about it," Jodie said, nearly spitting out the last words.
While she had been talking, Mack had been walking up to the group. As he arrived, he looked at Jodie and said, "Hey."
Jodie got up and faced him. "Leave me alone!" she said, then stalked off.
Daria looked at Mack. "Chicks," was all she said.
He looked to the other two girls. "Yeah, chicks," they chorused.
The girls were getting books from Daria and Jane's lockers when they first saw Tommy Sherman. He had stopped in front of Brittany, who had knelt to tie her shoelaces. When she finished, she saw a pair of legs in front of her that didn't seem to stop.
"Keep going. It gets better." He dropped down a hand to help Brittany to her feet, then continued. "Hello, beautiful. I see one thing about Lawndale football has improved a lot since I was unanimously voted most valuable player: the cheerleaders."
Brittany squeaked happily. "You're Tommy Sherman!"
The aforementioned player nodded. "You know your sports," he said, taking the chance to look over her body again.
"My boyfriend's Kevin Thompson. He's quarterback of the team. He worships you!"
Tommy twitched an eyebrow at the unwanted comment. "That's great. Listen, they're putting me up at the Lawndale Manor. Why don't we head back there, order you some champagne, get horizontal, and you can find out just how big a hero I am." He leered at her.
Brittany was shocked at the apparent incomprehension of the big man. "Didn't you hear what I said? My boyfriend is your biggest fan?"
Tommy snorted. "What are you telling me? He wants to watch? I don't know..." with the last, he actually seemed intrigued by the concept. He wasn't so intrigued a moment later when Brittany slapped his face and stormed off.
Raising his voice, he called after the cheerleader. "All right, all right, he can watch. Hey, where are you going? Did someone flash the bimbo signal?"
After seeing this little vignette, Daria clenched both her fists and teeth together.
This was not the only time that the girls saw Tommy Sherman tick off people; wherever he went, he was either leering like a pervert(which he did with everything female, including once with The Fashion Club), or deeply insulting people with his arrogance(which he did with everything male, including Mr. O'Neill). Such actions did not endear him to the friends, and only the fact that Quinn seemed to be handling the attention like an adult(that is, hauling off and slapping him) stopped Daria from doing something drastic.
At the bell for the next-to-last period of the day, the girls were once again headed for their lockers, only to find Tommy Sherman leaning on them. Daria sighed. "Excuse me," she said, politely.
Tommy's eyebrows rose. "You're kidding, right? You think I'm going to talk to you?" He looked at Jane. "You, maybe. Like, four hours into a kegger." When he saw Jen, he grinned. "The kegger'd start with you."
"Only if I wanted a beer bong," Jen said.
"Perhaps after I vomit on your shoes... Nanh. Even my vomit wouldn't want to get close to you."
Daria, looking straight at Tommy, said. "I really don't want to talk to you."
He looked back, incredulously. "Yeah, right. You said, 'Excuse me.'"
She raised her eyebrows. "You're on my locker."
He stood to his full height, his face a twisted mask of bile. "Do you know who I am? Tommy Sherman?"
Daria crossed her arms. "I know the whole school's turning itself inside out because of some egotistical football player, and I've seen you insult or proposition just about everyone you come across, so my guess is that you're the football player guy. Congratulations, you must have worked very hard to become such a colossal jerk so quickly."
She was going to say more, when Jane said, "screw this," tried to duck around the player and get to her locker. She was most of the way there when his hand snaked out and caught her by the throat, and lifted her up.
As she started to struggle, Jen caught onto his hand and tried to pull him away from Jen's throat, all while he said, "Now, I had to stand and listen to you, you're going to listen to me." Daria stood in shock as he finished his sentence.
Seeing Jane's face turn purple broke the spell. Walking up to the football player, she said, "Let her go!"
Tommy seemed to find this amusing. "Why? What are you gonna do about it?" He took a breath before continuing. "You're one of those misery chi-AHH! OOOOH! AIEE!"
His attempt to armchair analyze Daria had stopped because she had, in quick succession, done four things that had caused the aforementioned noises. She had jumped, putting all her weight on the heel of her right boot, landing on his left instep. While standing on his injured foot, she had lashed out, with all her strength put in her left heel, at his right kneecap, likely breaking the patella, and certainly causing the ligaments to tear. She had then balled her fist and hit him hard in the groin. After he had collapsed (and somewhere in those few moments he had dropped Jane), she walked to the other end of her body and put light pressure on his throat.
"Make a move, mister, and that will be the last breath you ever take." She looked up to see Jen bending over Jane, who seemed to be recovering. "Jen!" she almost shouted. The girl looked up. "Go get the security officer. When you get there, I need Him, the nurse, and Ms. Li. Go!" Jen ran off. Daria looked around, and saw Jodie in the crowd of people. "Jodie!" she said loudly. Jodie managed to look up from Daria's foot to her face. "I need to borrow your cell phone." Jodie came forward and, avoiding Tommy's arms, reached out and handed it over.
Daria quickly dialed her mother's work. "Marianne?" she said into the phone. "This is Daria, I need to talk to Mom. It's an emergency."
"Mom, I've been in a fight."
"He was hurting Jane."
"I'm fine. I don't think he thought someone a third of his weight could hurt him. I could ask him, though."
"I'm keeping him from hurting me or running off until the security officer gets here. But I'm going to need you, soon."
"There was no misunderstanding. He's some kind of alumni, in his twenties, he was strangling Jane, and he had his hand on Quinn's ass earlier today, Mom."
"She slapped him silly."
"All right, I'll see you in a few minutes, Mom. Bye." She hung up and handed the phone back to Jodie just as, from three different directions, the security officer, the nurse, and Ms. Li rushed up to the scene.
The security officer spoke first, as the nurse quickly went to Jane and started to check her out. "Miss? Would you mind taking your foot off the man's neck?"
Daria looked at him and said, "Not at all, as soon as you immobilize him by some other means. He attacked my friend."
Ms. Li looked at Daria and said, her fists clenched and her face slightly flushed, "Ms Morgendorffer, what is the meaning of this? You seem to have assaulted a valued alumnus who has brought honor and glory to Laaawndale High." As the security officer handcuffed Tommy, and Daria removed her foot from his throat, she continued. "Can you give me a reason why I shouldn't expel you?" Looking around, she saw the crowd. "All right students! Everyone not directly involved with this incident, or a witness to it, you need to go to your classes!" She turned back to Daria, who had her arms crossed as she waited.
When she was sure she had Ms. Li's attention, Daria said, "I can give you reasons, but since I only want to do this once, let's wait until the," and she counted off with her fingers," police that the security officer called, ambulance that the nurse called, my Mom, and my mom's lawyer get here. Then I'll tell my side, we can take a look at the pictures of Jane's neck, and we can all watch the security footage that I know you have of this." At that point, Helen Morgendorffer, leading a person she would later introduce as James Vitale of Vitale, Davis, Horowitz, Riordan, Schrecter, Schrecter, and Schrecter, arrived.
"Don't say another word without checking with me, first, Daria," were the first words out of her mouth. Then she turned to Ms. Li, and as the Police and EMTs began to arrive to look at the crime scene and take Tommy and Jane to the hospital, respectively, she asked, "Ms. Li, why was a pervert like this allowed free rein in a school?" When Ms. Li proved too shocked to answer, she said, "Oh, come on! My daughter has said that he has spent most of today either," and her she looked up, as if she was reciting word for word, "'insulting every guy he encountered, or trying to get into the pants of every girl my age or below that he could.'" She looked down, straight at Ms. Li. "That would include my other daughter, Quinn. The fourteen-year old?" Helen looked like she was going to say more, but Mr. Vitale grabbed her shoulder.
"I think that we need to get Daria's side of the story, and see what the security tapes say," he said. "And from the looks of the police, I think that they think so, too."
Several hours later, after the security footage had been reviewed, Daria was finishing up her statement. "I was mad at him for what he'd tried to do to Quinn, but she had taken care of herself. So I was just trying to get to my locker and switch books. And I wasn't the nicest person in the world to him, but the worst thing I called him was, 'colossal jerk.'"
"Not nice, as she said, but certainly not 'fighting words,'" interjected Mr. Vitale. Ms. Li reluctantly nodded.
"And I wouldn't have done anything to him, I mean, he outweighs me three times over! But...he had Jane, and she wasn't breathing, and..." a tear dripped down her face. "I just remembered everything I'd read or heard about fighting off a rapist." She took a breath. "Even a very skinny woman usually weighs more than eighty pounds, and that much, on an edge, hurts an instep. It only takes seven pounds of pressure to break someone's kneecap. Everyone
is sensitive in their groin. And if you have them down, weight on the throat will keep them down until help arrives." She looked around. "And that's what I did, until you all, variously, got there."
Mr. Vitale was the first to speak up. "Do we all agree that Ms Morgendorffer's story fits the security footage?" Everyone nodded, Ms. Li a bit reluctantly. "Then perhaps we can free the police to making sure that Mr. Sherman remains their guest, and Daria to a well-earned rest, while we discuss what would be an equitable settlement?" He looked at the principal. "Ms. Li, it might be best if you brought your superintendent, and the board's lawyers, in on this."
"- and the general outcome is that Tommy Sherman, whether he actually gets convicted or not, is off his team, and out of our hair for the foreseeable future." Daria took a breath. "The school board is going to pay a sizable settlement to cover their liability in letting Tommy wander about without an escort, which goes to several people. My mom, for her work in putting together this settlement, just made partner."
The rough voice rasped up from the bed. "Congrats. I know that's going to make college easier for you."
"It is. But part of that settlement went to me, and I'll be able to go to any school in the country, as long as my grades are up." She shook her head. "I never thought I'd say it, but I'm going to keep doing those cafe gigs. Having to have a new Melody Powers story every few weeks keeps me on my toes. Oh, yeah, besides having all of this medical care free, you get part of the settlement, too, unless you want to back out and get your own lawyers. Mom said you could, but that you'd have a hard time getting a settlement this good. So you're going to college, Lane." She looked down and wondered why Jane's smile looked so wistful.
"Why...Why'd you fight, Daria?" she rasped. "I know you didn't have any training. Why's you take on a guy three times your size?"
"Jane," Daria said in a voice both unwontedly serious and emotional, "If you repeat this, I will likely deny it. I saw him hurting you, and everything went off line. He was hurting you, and may have been killing you. You are the most important person in the world to me. Don't ask me how you got there, but you did. Other people are very close, Jen, Mom, Dad, Quinn, but you are...there. I would not live in a world without you." Tears fell down Daria's cheek and onto Jane's arm. "So you'd better not die, you bitch!"
Jane's grip on her hand was strong as she struggled out three important words. "Not...planning...to."