: 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.
The doctor walked into the waiting room. "Family of Daria Morgendorffer?" Five people stood up, one pushing another in a wheelchair, and a middle-aged couple came forward, their hands entwined.
"We're Jake and Helen Morgendorffer," the petite woman said. "How is Daria?"
"She's stable, for the moment," he said, and sighs of relief could be heard from all of them. "Having said that, she is still in a very serious condition. She's suffered a severe concussion, three broken ribs, one of which punctured a lung, some internal abdominal bleeding that we've got a handle on, and her knee." He took a deep breath, sighed, and continued. "Her knee is the least immediately life-threatening injury, but, at a minimum, we're looking at complete knee reconstruction. If things go wrong, there may be problems with her walking again." After the gasps had died down, he looked at them. "We're setting that whole problem aside until we can get her out of the woods with her other injuries. I'm sorry that I didn't have better news." And with that, he turned and made his way back into the bowels of the hospital.
Helen turned to the two girls who were crying in each other's arms, which was made difficult by the fact that one of them was in the wheelchair. She knelt by the girl and said, softly, "Jane, I haven't asked, because it was more important that we get Daria treated. But what happened?"
Jane kept sobbing. "She...got hurt protecting me," -sniff- "Helen. She might have been killed for me." She was about to go on, when she heard a very loud, "HAH!" She looked up to see Quinn.
"Jane, you should know better than anyone else, that Daria never does anything that she doesn't want to. You are not
to blame for what happened. She
made the choice, and when she wakes up, she'll be annoyed that you thought anything different."
"Regardless, Jane, Jen," Helen looked up at the blonde next to the wheelchair. "Tell me what happened. Now."
Jane wiped away her tears. "It started that Friday, at the School Board meeting..."
Daria, Jen, and Jane were sitting next to Helen in the bleachers of the stadium, where the meeting had been moved when it became obvious that the auditorium just wouldn't hold everyone attending, listening to Superintendent Cartwright discuss the repercussions of the sting.
"...and among the losses that we've had in our faculty have been, besides the entire Physical Education Department, Bennett in the Economics Department,..."
"Who was up to her eyeballs in it," said Jane softly.
"...Mrs. Manson, who had been discovered to be working on a falsified Psychology degree,..."
"Now there's a surprise," snarked Daria.
"...O'Neill of the Language Arts Department,"
"Who never had the nerve to stand up to Li, and is getting tossed under the bus for his troubles," said Jen.
"...Barch of Science, who wasn't implicated in this scandal, but who had been caught badly slanting grades both in favor of her female students, and against her male students..."
"And they just picked up on this now?" wondered Daria.
"I told you, Daria, a housecleaning was in order. Quiet down, please, so we can hear what else he has to say." Helen returned her attention to the Superintendent.
"...and that's most of the personnel changes that we'll be going through. To be honest, we don't have enough staff to finish out the year, and the rot is widespread enough that we can't guarantee that anybody's grades are valid.
"So what we're going to do is this. In a week, we're going to draw upon staff from other districts, and administer standardized tests in all subjects but the fine arts; in those subjects, we will have, again, other staff evaluating the work of our students. In all cases, should the test scores or independent evaluation of the work be within ten points of the previous grade, whichever is highest will stand; otherwise, the standardized test or independent evaluation will be the grade.
"To provide for those students that may have just been caught up in the system, there will be a second set of tests given two weeks before classes resume in the fall. The school grounds will be open all summer, and the District will pay any student who has made an 'A' in a class, twenty-five dollars an hour per student to tutor in that subject. If a student passes either of the tests, they will be passed on to the next year. Should they fail both, however, they will suffer the normal consequences of class failure. Are there any questions?"
And there were, but none that really concerned the girls. Daria turned to her girlfriends and said, "I think that we should sign up for these tutoring jobs, then spend the rest of our time studying for the finals."
"Why do we want these tutoring jobs?" asked Jane.
"Let's face it, nobody else is going to hire us, and no matter how they dislike us, people know that we're the best in our individual subjects. They are going to be desperate to pass, and with the district footing the bill..."
"I see your dastardly plan," said Jen, with a smile. "I wonder how many people are going to be surprised that I average an 'A' in Algebra?"
As they were walking out from the meeting, they ran into Brittany. "Ohhh!" she said as she stamped her foot when she saw them.
"And why are you unhappy, Brittany?" asked Daria.
"You - you - Oooh! We're not going to have any teams to cheer for next year!"
"Brittany, we did not make those athletes skip studying so that they could go to parties and get wasted. We did not put together the system where they were able to cheat so easily. Hell, we didn't even push this whole pile of crap. Jane wanted to stop being on the track team, and Morris was going to blackmail her to keep her on it. She just protected herself."
"And you think that Jane's more important than the Lawndale Lions?"
Daria looked at her as if she were a deeply stupid child. "Well, duh!" and the girls turned and walked away, hand in hand in hand.
The next day, Daria talked to her mother in private, in her office. "Mom, I'd like your permission to make this fake tattoo permanent." She looked down. "I know that we're young, but I really do love them." She looked up. "Add to that the fact that this doesn't have their names, and if I ever really want to make it work without them, I just have to add tattoos to either side. Mom, Trent wants to give this to Jane as her birthday present, and I'd like to do that, too." Her eyes narrowed slightly. "You do know that there are enough shops that we could go to to get this done that wouldn't care what age we are...heck, even Axl would do it, if we told him we were eighteen. I'm asking."
Helen sighed and remembered how she had reacted when the girls had shown her the fake tattoos on their forearms, Daria's in the center with Jane and Jen on either side, the three arms making a large heart with the word "love," written on it. They hadn't shrunk away from her screech at all, just gave her three big smiles as they told her they weren't real tattoos. "Do you understand, Daria, that that will still be there when you're seventy?"
"If I make it to seventy, you mean," Daria said. "Listen, Mom, on the off chance I do live that long, I can think of a lot sillier things to be written on my skin than an homage to love. Can't you?"
Helen sighed. "Oh, all right. If you use your own money, I'll give my permission. I'll want to see your care instructions when you get it, so that it will look the best it can."
Over the next week, they had to clean eggs and rotten fruit off the house almost every day, but the security guard in the car across the street said that it was never the same truck, they never stopped, and they had their license plates covered. It became a daily chore for the girls to clean the mess up.
Finally, the test day came. The standardized tests were instantly graded, and each student got his grade the moment he handed it in and the reader scanned it. Daria was unsurprised that she got all 'A's, and equally unsurprised that Kevin, among others, had failed more than one class. His, "But I'm the QB!" sounded more than once through the halls of LHS. Jane had done well in some classes(getting an 'A+' in Art, of course), and poorly in some, though she passed everything. Jen got 'B's and 'C's in everything but Algebra, where she got an 'A'.
In the end, almost all of the football squad had failed enough classes to be held back, if they didn't pass in the fall. That was better than the track squad, where all of the students not in juvenile hall had failed several tests. The girls had had a lot of "clients" for the summer, and their first week as tutors passed without incident.
Then one member of the football team, Randy Miller(who thought he looked cool because of his Van Dyke beard), asked for Jane's help as an art tutor. He said that he had a summer day job, so that they needed to meet after most people were gone for the day, at 6pm. This sounded fishy to Daria, so they all decided to come.
It wasn't a complete surprise to the girls to see most of the football team waiting for them in the art room. Randy grabbed Jane by the lapels of her jacket, said, "So you don't want to run? Good!" before smashing his foot down with all of his 300 pounds of force behind it, breaking several bones in Jane's feet. He was going to start kicking her, when Daria brought out a canister of pepper spray and hit him in the eyes, making him collapse. Seeing Mack among the players, she asked him, "Why, Mack?" then turned to Jen, and said, "Get her out of here!"
"But-" Jen said, hesitating.
"Now, Burns!" She lowered her voice. "I don't know how much longer I can hold them off!" Turning back to Mack, she said in her monotone, "Well, Mack?"
"Damn it, Daria! You've made it impossible for me to get a scholarship! I might not be failing, but I'm not going to college if I don't get an athletic scholarship. And you've just taken out any real chance of that, because any football team we field in the next year or two is going to be crap!" While he had been talking, Daria had been watching Jen from the corner of her eye, literally carrying Jane down the hallway, finally turning the corner.
Keeping the pepper spray out, she reached into her purse and pressed 911 on her phone, then said, "And now you're here in the Lawndale High School Art room, going to beat the hell out of me in retaliation?"
"Looks like it," said one of the other players, "And that pepper spray ain't going to take all of us down."
It took the first two down, until one of the players closed his eyes and grabbed her arm and took it out, while another two literally tackled her into the steel door frame, knocking her out and causing her to crumple to the floor. The field goal kicker had finished kicking her right in the knee, several times, and was beginning on her ribs, when Mack looked at her purse.
"Shit! She called 911! Let's get out of here!"
Things were fuzzy when Daria opened her eyes, though whether that was because of the pounding in her head, or just because her glasses were off, she couldn't tell. "If..this..is.. a hangover," she rasped, "I -" she didn't continue, because everyone in Lawndale that she cared about was gathered around her, hugging whatever part of her they could touch.
Someone handed her her glasses, and as they were put on, Daria saw her mother come into focus. "Daria, you gave us a scare." Helen stood, tears streaming down her face.
"Yeah," She turned her head and saw Jane, resting on crutches. "I'd officially ask that you not do that so much."
A squeeze on her hand brought her attention to Jen, who said, "Please?"
"My God, popular
people did this?" Quinn asked. "I'm so glad I didn't go too far into that."
"Yeah, popular people." Jake offered Daria a sip of water, which she gladly took. "Including Mack, which was a surprise, and not including Kevin, which was a bigger one."
"Based on Jen's and Jane's statements, and evidence left at the scene, the great majority of the football team is going to be spending the rest of their school careers as guests of the state." Helen shook her head. "You were your own best advocate, calling 911 so that hey could get there in time to save you."
"How bad is it?" asked Daria.
"We won't know until after they operate on your knee." Helen looked down. "The rest, though severe, you'll be over in a few weeks."
Daria nodded, and stroked the tattoo on her forearm. "Can I tutor from this room?"
The rest of her family cracked up.