Disclaimer: Daria and associated characters are owned by MTV. This is fan fiction written for entertainment only. No money or other negotiable currency or goods have been exchanged.

This story is based on the Roentgen's idea of a fanfic that uses "Hope High School", an alternative school for behavior-problem students, mentioned in Beavis and Butthead.

Richard Lobinske

Saving Hope

Jake Morgendorffer drove his blue sedan through the streets of his new hometown of Lawndale. Along the way, he mused about how pleasant the fresh greens were compared to the drab browns of his last hometown, Highland. Jake was also sure that his two daughters, in the car with him, felt the same.

His youngest, Quinn, sat in the back seat, brushing her long, red hair and inspecting her immaculately applied makeup. His eldest sat in the front, carefully watching the scenery go by. Daria looked almost boyish with her close-cropped auburn hair and slim build.

Daria suddenly bent forward and massaged one closed eye with a finger tip. After a couple blinks, she opened it again and muttered, "Damn contacts."

"You okay, kiddo?" Jake asked.

"Fine, just a contact trying to slip out" Daria answered.

Unbidden, her mind raced back almost a year to her first day at Hope High, Highland's "Alternative Discipline School".

Still dazed by the blur of events that led to her sentencing to the school, she passed through the barbed-wire topped fence and into the front door. She was halfway to the main office to report in when an older student stepped in her way. He towered almost a foot above her and was over twice her weight. He cracked his knuckles and said, "Huh, new meat. Give me all your cash."

Stunned, Daria could only think to ask, "What?"

"A tough girl. I don't think so." The guy grabbed Daria's hair and pulled her head back. Next, he snatched the glasses from her face and with one hand, snapped off both side bows before breaking the main frame apart over his middle finger. Dropping the fragments to the floor, he grunted, "Money. Now."

Jake said, "Are you excited about the new school?"

Daria turned, looking faintly surprised. "Huh? Oh, yeah. But then, anything's better than Hope."

Quinn put her compact into a small purse, saying, "Yeah, and nobody's gonna call you 'The Girl with the Gun' anymore."

"Heh-heh, look what Todd told me to keep for a while," the dim-witted boy known as Beavis said to his equally dim-witted friend Butthead while pointing a revolver at a door across the hall.

Butthead took the pistol and pointed it down the hall, saying, "Cool."

"Give me that, buttmunch. Todd wanted me to keep it." Beavis pulled the gun away, also pointing it down the hall. He pulled the trigger twice, letting the hammer fall with a click onto empty chambers. "To keep it safe."

Wincing in fear at the damage the two could unknowingly do, Daria walked up to them.

"Heh-heh, Daria," Beavis said. "You know what they say, guns are for fun."

She said, "Have you fixed your lockers yet?"

Butthead laughed and said, "She said fixed."

"Remember?" Daria said, ignoring the comment. "Principal McVickers cut the locks off when you left the cow pies in them?"

"Uh…yeah. So, where are we gonna put this during class?" Beavis said.

Daria carefully laid her hand on top of the pistol, closing her fingers over the cylinder and pointing the barrel at a trash can. "Tell you what. I'll find someplace safe for it. Now please, give it to me before somebody gets hurt."

"Yeah, before I drill a hole in somebody. That would be cool," Beavis said and let go of the revolver. "Later, Diarrhea."

Butthead said, "Yeah, keep it safe or something, or Todd's gonna kick our asses."

Carefully holding the pistol as she grabbed it, with barrel pointed down, Daria sighed and walked toward the office to turn the weapon in. Just after turning a corner, the school's police resource officer shouted "Freeze!"

"Let's hope that the school doesn't rely on a bunch of brainless 'zero tolerance' policies," Daria said. "Or that maybe the principal will actually look at evidence before convicting someone."

"Don't worry," Jake said. "Your mother and I understand and we checked the school out thoroughly."

Leaning forward on both hands, Helen raged at the school discipline board, "What do you mean, your hands are tied? Daria didn't do anything!"

One of the board members said, "She was caught on school property with a loaded firearm in her possession. That's an automatic expulsion from regular school and mandatory attendance to alternative class."

Helen fumed more, "She took the gun from those two delinquents you tolerate on a daily basis and was taking it to the office!"

"The school resource officer claims she held the gun in a threatening manner."

"But the police investigation cleared her because her fingerprints weren't on the grip, only the cylinder. All she did was take the gun away from a couple morons and try to turn it in."

"That doesn't matter. She was in possession of the handgun. Our zero tolerance policy takes the decision out of our hands. Daria will attend Hope High for the remainder of ninth grade."

"But those two imbeciles that actually brought the gun to school aren't going?"

"They were not in possession of the gun."

"Their fingerprints were all over the grip! So were the finger prints of a Mr. Todd Ianuzzi, a locally known petty criminal. By their own statements, those boys were 'holding' the weapon for Mr. Ianuzzi."

"But, we don't know if they handled the gun on school property."

"I thought those two boys were the dumbest things in town. I was wrong, you are!"

Jake continued the conversation. "They don't have metal detectors, either! Don't need them."

Daria reached down and patted the heavy leather combat boots that her black denim pants were tucked into. "That'll be a switch, not having to take off my boots every morning to get past security. Not that those detectors did a whole lot of good."

Out of habit, she felt the kydex plastic plates stitched into the forearms of her scarred, leather jacket.

"Come on, ya skank, or I'll cutcha up even more 'n last time," the dusky blonde said, cornering Daria in a restroom stall.

"Sorry, you're not my type," Daria said while carefully watching the box cutter in the other girl's hand.

"If ya think a teach'll walk in ta save ya 'gain, you're crazy."

"I'm not as slow as the other inmates around here," Daria said, slowly sliding her feet into a stable stance.

"Fine, I'll cut ya for the fun of it."

The hours of practice for Mr. Buzzcut's karate class paid off as Daria's left arm smoothly, quickly rose and swept to the side, catching the cutting edge of the blade on the newly installed armor plate to knock the box cutter from the girl's hand. Following in the same motion, Daria's right fist connected with the blonde's jaw, forcing her to stumble back and fall against the opposite wall in a daze.

Daria stepped out of the stall and kicked the box cutter into a coverless floor drain. She said, "I suppose you can reclaim that when they check the screens at the end of the month."

"After all you've been through, Daria," Jake said. "I know that it'll be hard to make friends. But, I hope you'll try."

Daria nodded and slowly said, "I'll try."

The blond girl cracked her knuckles and said, "Whatcha care? I ain't goin' to try to roll you again."

Balancing a sandwich and a carton of milk on a disposable, cardboard tray, Daria said, "Because the next person to stop you may not be as restrained. The administration doesn't do a good job of protecting us or really stopping anything. As long as we're contained from the 'normal' students, they seem to be happy."


"Look at this lunch. They don't even hand out plastic utensils because they know students will make shivs out of them. Therefore, all we get is food that doesn't need spoons or forks. Someday, somebody isn't going to be content with stopping you. They'll want to make an example. Call me silly, but I really don't want that."

Near the student drop-off circle, Jake stopped the car and looked at his children's new school. The neatly clipped grass and clean buildings were a big change. "Almost there, kids. What do you think?"

Quinn peered over the seat and said, "A lot better than that prison look of Highland. Oops, sorry, Daria."

Daria shrugged. "No problem; Highland did look like a prison. Hope looked like a gulag, without the charm. The only thing uglier was what it tried to make people."

Daria sat against the restroom wall with her knees drawn up to her chest and bloody hands folded together over them. She watched the paramedic cover the dusky blonde with a sheet. Her partner squatted and helped Daria to her feet and with one arm around her shoulders, led her outside.

In the hallway, he said, "We got word that the girl that did it is in custody. Don't be hard on yourself. You did everything humanly possible to save her."

Daria looked down at the hands that had vainly tried to stop the girl's bleeding. "I wasn't able to convince her to stop those shakedowns."

Quinn moved her hand to Daria's shoulder. "I'm glad you were able to hold on. I don't know if I could've."

Daria patted Quinn's hand. "I learned to keep the one thing that the school tried most to destroy: hope."

The grim face of the principal looked briefly at the remains of Daria's glasses and said, "Miss Morgendorffer, getting into a fight your first morning is not the way to start things."

Taken aback after being robbed minutes before, Daria started to explain, "I didn't start…"

"Quiet! I'm not interested in your lame excuses. You're here for a gun violation, so I already know that you're violence-prone. Don't even try lie to me about not starting things. I know better. Now, get to class and keep your snotty nose clean…if you know what's good for you."


A large police officer stepped in front of the principal, stopping him. "Please, sir. No further."

"I must talk to Miss Morgendorffer," the principal said, expecting to be let past.

"Who are you, sir?"

"I'm the principal of this school and that is one of my students. I must speak to her."

"No, sir. The young lady has requested that her mother, who is also acting as her counsel, be present. Until that time, nobody speaks with her."

"I'm not just anybody…"

"No, you're the principal of this school." The officer looked at the wire fence surrounding the buildings. "And, I'd like to speak with you about a few things…"


The judge pushed his bifocals up after reading his statement and looked up at the opposing lawyers. "After reviewing the primary facts in this case, I'm granting the plaintiff's motion for a summary judgment. It boggles the mind that this county's school board would uphold punishing a student for potentially preventing a tragedy. Since it is likely that the minors that brought the weapon in question to Highland High would've continued to play with it, I expect that they would've discharged one or both of the rounds remaining in the cylinder. Furthermore, based on the conditions the state Board of Education cited when they ordered Hope High School closed, I expect that you're not going to pretend ignorance of the situation. I'm finding for the plaintiffs for the full amount asked. In my opinion, this is a bargain that I strongly suggest that the defense not appeal. I'm sure a jury would award far more." He rapped his gavel and said, "Case closed."

Behind their table, Helen joyfully hugged a stunned-looking Daria. "Soon, we'll be a long way away from here."

Jake started the car and pulled forward to the drop-off zone. "Here we are. Enjoy your new school and I hope you find new friends."

"I hope so, too," Daria quietly said.

"Thanks. Bye, Daddy," Quinn said as she exited the car. A girl with brown hair smiled at the new arrival and said, "Cool look. What's your name?"

"Quinn Morgendorffer."

"Neat." The two girls fell into step as they headed toward the front entrance of the school. "Where'd you find that blouse?"

Daria shook her head and smiled. "Looks like she won't have any problems. See you later, Dad."

"Bye, kiddo," Jake said moments before Daria closed the door.

A boy with brown hair and green eyes stepped up to Daria as Jake drove away. He said in a deadpan voice, "You have my deepest sympathies."

Daria looked at him. "Excuse me?"

"I assume the redhead's your sister?"


"She just left with my sister, probably to spend the day talking haute couture."

"That's Quinn's forte."

"And that's Elsie's. But somehow, I think it's not yours."

Daria spread her arms wide. "You think?"

The boy enjoyed a friendly laugh. "You're going to make a fine impression around here." He then offered his hand. "Oh, by the way. I'm Tom Sloane. Welcome to Fielding Prep."

Thanks to Kristen Bealer, Ipswichfan and Mr. Orange for beta reading.

August, 2006.