"There's no way that this is decaf".
"Well, er, no. It's, um, half-caf".
"Stacy, you know what caffeine does to my face".
Sandi easily foisted the coffee cup back on her unsuspecting friend, her already bad mood effectively made even worse. She fondly thought back to the crisp, beautiful beaches of Maui and wished that she was still there enjoying her summer vacation instead of back in Fielding hell. There was nothing she hated more than Fielding, even if she hid her disdain fairly well. The school itself was alright, nothing to write home about in her opinion, but passable. She maintained solid C's in all of her classes, though her GPA was boosted considerably thanks to the fact that the Griffin family had been high-paying donors for years. She coasted by academically but her social standing flourished. If there was a popularity award, she would've won it ten times over. She knew everything there was to know about anyone important and she used that to her advantage. People knew to stay on her good side unless they wanted to know exactly what it felt like to be knocked from the top of the totem pole. She didn't like to play dirty but she would do what she needed to keep herself safe. It was exhausting having to keep up appearances and, sometimes, she wished that she didn't have to. Her life would've been so much easier if she didn't have to keep tabs on one hundred different situations at once.
"How was the trip?"
"Amazing", she said with a sigh, "Sorry I didn't call. Reception was awful".
It wasn't a complete lie but it wasn't the whole truth either. While reception was spotty in some areas, she had plenty of opportunities to give Stacy a call. Truth be told, she didn't want to be bothered with her anxious and whiny counterpart. She knew that any conversation would devolve into the shorter brunette crying about something that had gone wrong and Sandi would have to play therapist for an hour. They may have been best friends but it was frustrating and even she needed a break.
The two week vacation to Hawaii was something that she'd been anticipating for the whole year and it didn't disappoint. Her parents were using the island getaway as an attempt to fix their failing marriage, which went about as swimmingly as Sandi thought it would. They fought constantly and she would've ripped her hair out if she had to be stuck with them the whole time. Her two excuses for brothers, Sam and Chris, were thankfully shuttled off to summer camp which left her the whole trip (mostly) to herself. There was no shortage of sights to see or people to meet. There was enough eye candy around to keep her busy and without the annoyance of having to stick to any commitment. She went out on plenty of dates and never with the same guy twice. The journey home was a sobering one but she had to get back to reality sometime.
"It's okay. I figured you were busy", they came to a door and Stacy stopped, unable to open it with her hands full, "Uh, can you-"
Sandi rolled her eyes before holding the door open for her, "You know you can trash that".
"Huh?", she glanced at the cup in her hands, "Oh...right".
She hated to hurt Stacy's feelings but her good intentions didn't always translate well. She didn't mean to come across as harsh but it was simply the way she was. Growing up in a house with Linda Griffin made it impossible not to be. Her mother was a force to be reckoned with; a shark in a designer pantsuit. She was a lawyer by day and a 'devoted mother' by night. At least, according to what she told the book club every Saturday. As far as Sandi was concerned, she was more of a tyrant than a mother but -unfortunately - she was stuck with her. Her father wasn't much better. He was about as close to a wet dishrag as a person could get and so utterly boring that she dreaded spending even five minutes alone with him. She long since stopped wondering what it was that he actually did, deciding that it didn't really matter. It was because of her mom's side of the family that they were as loaded as they were and it was because of her mom that things stayed that way. As much as she couldn't stand her, she was a smart businesswoman.
She quickly made her way down the hall towards the science wing and one of few bathrooms with decent lighting. Thankfully, it was deserted and she was able to work on her makeup in peace. Stacy stood off to the side, close enough for conversation but far enough away that she wouldn't intrude. That was Stacy; always polite. When they first met, Sandi found her good-nature sickening. She was almost too nice and, at first, Sandi thought she was trying to kiss-ass. It didn't take long before she understood that Stacy's sweetness came from her fear of making people hate her. She was mousy and quiet whereas Sandi was commanding and outspoken and the two of them naturally found a balance. Sandi made sure that Stacy got into all of the best parties and met all the right people and, in turn, Stacy watched her back. It worked out well and Sandi couldn't have asked for a better partner-in-crime.
"So, what happened with you and whats-his-face?"
"Yeah, him", Sandi expertly applied mascara while she waited for Stacy to say something, "Well?"
She shrugged in an attempt to seem nonchalant but the look on her face was anything but. Sandi could tell immediately that things had gone south and it was clearly a sore subject. She knew this would happen, even before summer break. Stacy didn't have the greatest track record when it came to boys and, no matter how hard Sandi tried to teach her, she simply couldn't get past a cute smile.
"We decided to see what happened, you know. Since we're starting our freshman year and all".
"Right", she slid her makeup back into her bag before sliding it over her shoulder, "It's better to keep yourself available. Scope out the market".
"Trust me, Stacy, there are plenty of guys out there that would die for a chance to take us out. Older guys, better guys".
Sandi was a firm believer in never letting yourself get tied down. It was pointless to get into a relationship that would end in a few months. Her philosophy was to have as much fun as possible while she could. No way she wanted to end up miserable like her parents.
"Look, I'll talk to you at lunch after you're done moping".
"I wasn't! I'm not!".
Sandi shook her head before leaving the bathroom and continuing in the direction of her first class of the day.
Quinn managed to rush into her English class mere seconds before the late bell rang. Fielding was like a giant maze and looking at the school map did nothing to help her. She spent most of the morning wandering around aimlessly until someone decided to lend her a helping hand. A girl with neatly done braids and a polite smile was kind enough to point her in the direction of class before hurrying off elsewhere. Quinn wished that she'd gotten her name, if only so she'd have someone to go to when she got lost again. She briefly scanned the class, finding that there was only one empty desk left near the back of the room. It wasn't the best seat but she had no other options. She quickly went to sit down, hoping that her near tardiness wouldn't reflect badly on her. She couldn't care less about her grades but her reputation meant everything. She couldn't afford to start off on the wrong foot.
She was actually having a great time at St. Elizabeth's before Daria had to go and ruin everything. It was a small school compared to most but the people were ten times better. She had no problem cementing herself among a group of girls who became her closest friends. It may have been a Catholic school but she quickly learned appearances could be deceiving. She attended her fair share of parties but she always made sure to keep herself out of trouble. Both her parents and her teachers thought she was a great student. Or, at least, close enough to. Of course, Daria screwed that up. Sometimes Quinn wondered what her problem was. She was supposed to be the 'smart one' and yet she seemed unable to follow the simple rules: 1) Don't do anything stupid and 2) if you DID do something stupid, DON'T get caught. After Daria got herself expelled, they both had to suffer the consequences. She wasn't happy about having to move a million miles away but, unlike her sister, she knew how to suck it up. There was no use complaining about it; you just had to adapt.
"I love your hair".
She looked to her left, seeing a girl with wavy chestnut hair and an almost perfect golden tan. She was watching her carefully, a slight smile on her face. She looked like the kind of person that Quinn could see herself hanging out with but it was much too early to tell. Quinn knew enough about people to understand that this was a test and she had to tread lightly.
"Thanks. Those are cute earrings".
"Oh these? Old birthday gift. I always used to wish I was a redhead".
"I'm the only one in my family".
"Lucky. You're not from around here, are you?"
She shook her head, "No...I'm from Texas".
"Ouch. You have my condolences", she smiled, "I'm Sandi, by the way. Sandi Griffin".
"Quinn Morgendorffer. I guess you've been going here awhile".
"Almost my whole life. It's not so bad. Once you know who to avoid. I'd be willing to show you around, if you want".
Quinn was silently thanking the heavens. She definitely needed all the help that she could get and Sandi seemed like she knew her stuff. She couldn't seem overeager, that would just make her look desperate, but she knew how to play the game.
"Oh, you don't have to do that".
"It's no problem", she lowered her voice, "I wouldn't want you to get in with the...wrong people".
That was the last thing that she wanted too. She knew how to play her cards right but that didn't mean she was opposed to having a leg up on the competition. If she made the right friends early on, she'd be set.
"Of course. Thanks, Sandi, I appreciate it".
"Like I said, it's no problem".
Before either of them could say more, in walked their teacher. He was a small, nervous looking man with a smile that was way too big. He stood at the front of the room for awhile, as if he'd forgotten what he was supposed to be doing.
"Good morning class! I'm Mr. O'Neill, your new English teacher!"
Headmaster Daniels' office was every bit as stuffy and boring as Daria thought that it would be. Several diplomas and awards lined the walls, detailing an impressive history of academic work. She would've taken the time to actually analyze them if not for her current situation. She drummed her fingers against the arm of the uncomfortable chair that she was seated in, wanting nothing more than to get to class. She was tired of hearing the same spiel from everyone; her parents and teachers alike. She knew that she messed up. She didn't need to hear it rehashed over and over again. She already agreed to toe the line, keep her nose clean, blah blah blah. How could she be expected to have a 'normal' adjustment when everyone was hellbent on dredging up the past?
"Ms. Morgendorffer, how are you?"
"You have quite the student record", he said while idly thumbing through her file, "Almost a 4.0 GPA, very impressive".
"That's me: the overachiever".
The comment was either unheard or purposely ignored as he continued to flip through pages.
"Unfortunately, your disciplinary record is another story", he glanced up at her, disappointment written all over his face, "Tell me, Ms. Morgendorffer, what do you want out of your education?"
A free ticket to the university of my choosing; preferably far far away from here, "I don't know how to answer that".
"I mean, what is it that drives you to excel? You're clearly a very bright young woman. Why put so much effort into your schoolwork only to turn around and ruin it?"
But, officer, I swear it wasn't mine, "Um...poor judgment?"
"Now, I promised that we were going to start you off on a clean slate and I plan to keep to that agreement. However, I need to know that you're going to make the most of your Fielding experience. Do we have a deal?"
"I don't have much of a choice, do I?"
"You always have a choice, Ms. Morgendorffer. You're free to go".
She spared him one last look before exiting the office. She didn't like being questioned normally, even more so when she didn't have the right answers. She knew what he wanted to hear but that wasn't the same as being honest. Truthfully, she got bored. She found it difficult to be this picture perfect person that everyone expected. She was her own person, not some poster child for whatever agenda they wanted to force onto her. She didn't want to be the perfect daughter or the perfect student. She only wanted to be herself. It was something that not many people seemed to understand and she didn't have the time to explain.
She was just about to head out into the hall when someone came walking through the door, blocking her escape. The guy in question looked like he'd just rolled straight out of bed, even if the dark circles under his eyes hinted at many sleepless nights. He had a short crop of messy black hair and a wrinkled uniform that had clearly seen better days. Despite his disheveled appearance...he was pretty damn cute. He had that dark and brooding look about him, one that she was always a sucker for, even if she could tell that it wasn't practiced or intentional. Anyone that was actually trying would've been much more precise. He was about to take a step forward when he stumbled to a halt, clearly not expecting anyone to be right on the other side of the door. He stared at her with eyes so dark brown that they were almost black and she stared right back. She kept telling herself to go but willing her feet to listen was another challenge. It was an awkward moment, with neither making a move to get out of the other's way. After what felt like an eternity, he was the one to finally break the ice.
"Sorry. Should've been paying attention".
"That makes two of us".
"Guess we'll call it even then", he said breezily, a questioning look on his face, "Have we met before?"
"I don't think-"
"Mr. Lane, nice of you to finally arrive".
Headmaster Daniels was standing near the receptionist's desk, the agitation in his voice a clear indicator that he'd been expecting him for some time.
"I think that's my cue. I'll see you around..."
"Daria. See you around".
Once he turned away, she was finally able to regain control of her senses. She left the room as quickly as she could without drawing attention to herself, rushing down the hall towards the cafeteria. This was exactly what she didn't want to happen. She was no stranger to crushes but they never ended well. No matter how hard she tried to keep herself out of trouble, it seemed to always find her. She learned a long time ago that most girls saw her as public enemy #1 which meant she was walking around with a target on her back. She hated the fact that she was always seen as the bad guy, no matter what, but she seemed to be the only one. Quinn was always telling her that it 'came with the territory'. "It's not our fault that we're pretty and popular and we shouldn't have to feel bad for it! Remember, Daria, you can have anything you want if you put your mind to it. Just do what I do". From that point, she always stopped listening. Despite her looks and what people thought about her, she wasn't so self-assured. Life wasn't 'magically' easy for her. She tried to put the entire thing out of her head as she made it to the lunch room, not wanting to ruin the rest of her day.
"Daria, there you are! I was just talking about you!"
The overly cheerful sound of Quinn's voice was enough to toss that thought out the window. She barely had time to register what was happening before Quinn was at her side, easily steering her in the direction of a table that was already occupied by two girls.
"Nevermind that, I have to introduce you to my new friends".
Not a chance in hell. Daria quickly looked around for any sort of exit, quickly spotting the dark-haired girl from earlier that morning. While she hadn't made the best first impression, she was recognizable and that was enough for right now. She tugged her arm away from Quinn's grasp before gesturing towards the opposite end of the lunch room.
"Oh, there's exactly who I was looking for".
She left before Quinn could start to argue, knowing that the only reason Quinn wanted her around was to earn herself a few more popularity points. If her new friends saw that she had an attractive older sister, she'd have some sort of increased credibility. It was an annoying game that she always liked to play and Daria chose not to have any parts in it. It was one of the main reasons that the two of them butted heads. She would never be popular because she didn't care and that pissed Quinn off. She hurried to sit down across from a girl that she knew nothing about, hoping that she didn't place herself in an even worse situation.