: 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.A/N
: All the new teachers are OC. I considered basing Ms. Ruiz on the fandom character of the same name, but since I don't have a good enough feel for the character, my Belinda Ruiz, of Lawndale, late a substitute teacher, has no other connection to the character with the same last name.
The girls made their way into the English classroom, dropping into the desks they normally occupied. Daria looked up and saw a tiny Latina woman with waist-long hair standing next to the teacher's desk. "Is that...?" she asked. Jane looked up and nodded.
"That would be Ms. Ruiz. She subbed for us quite a few times before you joined us."
Jen nodded. "I think her mother got sick or something. Anyway, you have got to see her way of handling Kevin."
Jane smiled. "I caught the calling friends amigas
thing from her about a year ago." She looked as if she was about to go on, but the woman in question walked up.
"Buena manana, chicas
, she said to the three girls, then held her hand out to Daria. "Hello, I'm Belinda Ruiz, I don't think I've had you in any of my substitute classes," she said in completely unaccented English.
Daria took the hand and shook it. "Daria Morgendorffer."
"Ah, so you're the one, according to the grapevine, that got us our jobs." Her eyes narrowed slightly. "And who can magically take them away."
"I'll have to respond with a 'no,' to both of those statements, ma'am." She gestured to her right. "It was Jane, here, who helped break the case last year, and I don't think any of us saw it going as far as it did. As far as taking jobs away -" Daria sighed. "All I was doing last year was protecting both of my girlfriends's lives and integrity." Looking at Jen, Daria didn't see Ms. Ruiz's eyebrows rise momentarily. "I'd use anything I had to accomplish that, and since my mom's a lawyer, you see how it goes. I don't see either the need for doing something like that again, or how having a lawyer would help," she smirked, "so you're probably safe."
Ms. Ruiz leaned on a desk. "You're out, and with a highly non-traditional relationship, as well? Bold move."
Daria nodded. "It scares us - scares me
- sometimes. But these are my girlfriends," she paused for a moment, "and I love them, and with all due respect, anyone who's offended by that can go screw themselves." She held out her hands to each of her lovers, and they clasped hands.
"I see. I don't expect that to be a problem." Ms. Ruiz smiled. "What I do want to talk to you about are your activities in this class. I've looked over what Mr. O'Neill," and here a faint unpleasant look crossed her face, "wrote down about you, and some of the work that you've turned in. You're going to take a shot at being a professional writer, aren't you?"
Daria nodded. "Unless something comes along and shows me that I can't."
Ms. Ruiz smiled again. "Then, from what I've seen, most of this class will be essentially review for you. You will get bored. You know it, and I know it. I have a proposition for you. Instead of doing the regular assignments that everyone else will be doing, I'm going to assign you a series of writing tasks, ranging from stories, to magazine and newspaper-type articles, to poetry. If you put the effort into it - and I will be able to tell the difference - then, whatever the errors on your papers, you will get a B or an A. If you don't, then we'll drop you back in regular class, and you can be bored. Deal?"
Daria's eyes revealed her shock. "Umm - Deal." She held out her hand.
Ms. Ruiz took it. "Your first assignment is to write a story using people in your life." She frowned. "No, that's a bit open-ended." She smirked. "Let's say that it has to have a card-game in it." She turned and walked back to the front of the class as the other students wandered in.
The science classroom looked the same as it always had, periodic table on the wall, teaching aids on the side. Behind the desk sat a very large man with a long sandy-colored beard and hair in a ponytail, his eyes covered by glasses. "Morning, dudes," he said, while looking down at his notes. He looked back up. "That was supposed to be a joke, since I'm from Hawaii and everything," he said, smiling when several students chuckled. "I'm Chris Dawson. You can call me Mr. Dawson, Mr. D, or even Chris if you're feeling froggy. We are learning Science here, or I've missed the room I'm supposed to be in. I expect questions, lots of them, and the only time I don't want to hear from you is if we're doing an experiment and it's not life threatening - because, with the elements that we work with, if we don't pay attention, it might become life threatening, quickly."
"An interesting mix between surfer dude, hippy, and establishment man, wouldn't you say?" Jane whispered over to Daria.
"Yeah. I hope it's not an explosive one."
The three girls went into the gymnasium, Daria slowly on her crutches. As they made their way into the locker room, a woman slightly taller then Jane got up from where she'd been leaning on the wall. Her tan was brought into relief by her collar-length strawberry-blonde hair. "I take it you're Morgandorffer?" she asked.
"That'd be me," Daria agreed.
"Come into my office. Your girlfriends can come, too." The woman turned and led the way in.
Once the girls were settled, the woman brought her chair opposite from Daria and sat down in it. "If you haven't figured it out by now, I'm Teresa Durgin, your gym teacher. You can call me Ms. Durgin or Coach Durgin, or in this office, Terry." She looked at Daria. "I've heard that you've had reconstructive surgery, mind letting me have a look?"
Daria shrugged. "Go ahead." The coach ran her fingers over Daria's knee, poking and prodding, eliciting groans when she hit a tender spot (of which there were many). Finally, she sat back.
"It looks like someone did good work on you, Morgendorffer."
"You can call me Daria," she said in her normal monotone. "And these are my girlfriends, Jane Lane, and Jennifer Burns."
"You can call me Jen. Some people call me Burnout."
Coach Durgin's eyebrow rose. "Really? Do you...?"
"Used to. Not so much, any more."
Coach Durgin looked back at Daria. "With permission from your doctors, I think you should be able to walk unaided by the end of the school year." She put her hands on her knees. "Until then, you're going to be my assistant, hold clipboards, time and count people, things like that. You'll stand when you can, sit when you can't." She looked at the three girls. "If there is any harassment due to your being gay, I want to hear about it, right then. Also, if any of you need to talk about it - my door is open."
"Why would we need to...?" Jane asked.
"Because she's gay, too, Jane," Jen said without taking her eyes off their teacher. "A good friend of mine said that someone who is listening to you will look at your mouth when you're speaking, but if they might be...interested, they subconsciously look - lower."
"Bingo," Coach Durgin said. "Though I'd prefer that not be spread too far around. I probably wouldn't lose my job with the situation here, but you never know. Plus, it's such a cliche. Gym Teacher, you know? Anyway, time for class." They all laughed as they headed to the gym.
Their teacher for Economics was a thin, balding man. "I'm Lou Johnson. You may address me as Mr. Johnson. And while my middle initial is G, you are not to mis-pronounce my given name as Hugh." The class laughed at that. "Got that out of your systems? Good. What we're going to start with is a selection on the various types of graphs, and how we use them. I've been informed that your previous teacher was famous for her opacity in that respect." He raised the projection screen, and showed the chalkboard filled with different graphs. "You see here the Venn diagram, here the marginal value graph, here the..."
The next morning, Principal Li's voice came over the intercom. "Good morning, young people! As you may know, the school district has been going through a period of financial...distress. The City of Lawndale has offered to assist us in these dark times if we will cover several needs that they usually do. We are asking for volunteers to fill these 500 positions for approximately two weeks, so that all may benefit. Sign-up sheets will be across from the office. That is all."
Daria looked unimpressed. "Gee, another scheme to get more money, or recognition, by Li."
"Actually, it isn't, Ms. Morgendorffer." Ms Ruiz stood behind them. "My understanding is that the cupboard is bare, that we're scraping by just to get things as simple as pens and worksheets. The city can either help us out, or do the jobs that Ms. Li was talking about, but not both. If the jobs can be covered, then everyone gets what they need, and we go on. If not..." she shrugged.
"We'll see how many volunteer," Daria replied.
After class let out, Jane turned to Daria. "Why were you being a bitch to Ruiz in there?"
Daria snorted. "I was just being realistic. Nobody's going to volunteer without the threat of bodily harm - or suspensions."
"Does that mean you won't volunteer?" Jen asked, tilting her head slightly toward her lover's.
"I haven't seen anything worth volunteering for."
Jen brushed the hair from her eye and looked straight into Daria's. "Ever?" She sighed and spoke again. "Do you think that being able to go to school with the right material is a good cause?"
"Yes, Jen." Daria looked down.
"Then if Jane and I find a job that you can do, and volunteer our time, ourselves, you'll do it?"
"All right! Fine! But just for two weeks!" Daria blushed.
"How did I ever get myself into this?" Daria asked of herself as she made her way up to the Lawndale Nursing Home. She checked in with the nurses and went to the recreation room, where another nurse pointed her to an old woman sitting alone. She sat down next to the woman, said, "Hi, I'm Daria Morgendorffer," and reached in her bag for some books.
"It is a melancholy object to those, who walk through this great town, or travel in the country, when they see the streets, the roads and cabbin-doors crowded with beggars of the female sex, followed by three, four, or six children, all in rags, and importuning every passenger for an alms. These mothers instead of being able to work for their honest livelihood, are forced to employ all their time in strolling to beg sustenance for their helpless infants who, as they grow up, either turn thieves for want of work, or leave their dear native country, to fight for the Pretender in Spain, or sell themselves to the Barbadoes..."
Daria was just about to finish, when the woman paled, said, "They were talking about eating children?
", turned, and lost her lunch on the floor. The nurse rushed up and tried to help the old woman, who pointed at Daria, and said, "Babies! Eat!" then turned again, only to vomit one more time.
Daria shrugged. "I was only reading a work by a prominent churchman," she said, holding up her copy of A Modest Proposal
The nurse shook her head. "Perhaps you should come back Wednesday...with more...appropriate reading matter."
"..and that's how my first day went. So how's arts and crafts, you two?" Daria asked her lovers.
"Great! We're getting the patients to make voodoo dolls," grinned Jane.
"Well, maybe I'll bring something more mainstream Wednesday."
"Slaughterhouse Five!?" The man's face turned ashen. "Miss, I was near
Dresden when they firebombed it. I'd rather not have those memories again." He got up and walked slowly away.
The nurse came by. "Well, perhaps you can read to Mrs. Blaine. Do you have anything else to read?"
"Well, I've got my own stories." Daria said. "There are no babies eaten, or cities firebombed in them," she assured the nurse.
"All right." In a few minutes, Daria was in front of another elderly lady, who looked straight at her face when she spoke. After introducing herself, Daria began reading. "How do we prepare for the future? Melody Powers knew how she was going to prepare, as she checked the fit one more time on her tooled leather shoulder holster. She thought about all the communists she would be taking out tonight."
After a few minutes, Daria noticed that the woman didn't react to sudden noises, and always watched her mouth. Ha, Ha, Very funny, give the girl who communicates with words the deaf lady.
But she kept on reading, and tried to make sure that her lips were always visible and that she didn't read too fast.
Two hours later, they came to a stopping point, and Daria closed the book. "Well, they can't say I haven't tried." she mumbled to herself.
Mrs. Blaine put her hand on Daria's arm, right next to her tattoo, and said, "You have a lovely reading voice."