Iron Chef: Age Trade: Little Sister

By Cap

In response to an Iron Chef Challenge on the PPMB



            Daria shut the door behind her and irritably kicked off her sodden flats. She impaled her drenched jacket on the coat tree. Neither jacket nor shoes were designed to withstand wet weather yet she had to trudge two miles through a rain storm because her father forgot to pick her up at the library and a busy signal was the only reply to all of her calls to home. To add insult to injury, the rain ceased as soon as she reached her home's walkway.


            Cold, wet, and angry, she stomped across the living room leaving

damp footprints in her wake.


"Quinn," Daria began. Quinn ignored her, her attention fixed on her own



"Yes, Donny, I know I promised you a date," Quinn cooed into the telephone. "But every day for the next month is all ready taken. Yes, even breakfasts."


"Quinn," Daria said more forcefully.


"Shoo, Munchkin," Quinn said flicking her hand at her younger sister. "Can't you see I'm on the phone?"


"Did you remember to take your herpes medicine today?" Daria yelled before storming to the kitchen. Quinn flung a couch pillow at her but missed.


Grumbling to herself, Daria jerked open the refrigerator. She grabbed a bottle of soda and slammed the door shut.


"So the princess has herpes, eh?"


Daria whirled around in surprise. A lean brunette in a red jacket and grey

v-neck tee shirt sat at the kitchen table. A sketchpad, pencils, and a pen were

scattered before her. A black vinyl artist's portfolio with several more

sketchpads peeking out of the open top sat on the chair beside her. Daria had

seen the girl in the halls of Lawndale High School. She did not know what her

name was but she knew that she was not part of Quinn's usual set. What was she doing here?


Daria gave her head a small quick negative waggle. "No, she doesn't. I was just angry. I'd been trying to call home for a ride but I couldn't get through."


The girl snorted. "Yeah, tell me about it. We're supposed to be partners on this idiotic project that O'Neil pulled out of his ass but she hasn't got off the

phone since I've been here."


Daria awarded her a small commiserate smile. "Has she offered you anything to eat or drink?"


"My choice of diet soda, fat-free popcorn, and carrot sticks."


"I prefer my poison undiluted," Daria said wiggling the bottle of decidedly not diet soda back and forth.


"Yeah, me, too. I'll take a glass of that, if you don't mind. What's your name?"


Daria poured two glasses. She carefully recapped the bottle and returned it to the refrigerator before answering. "I'm Daria," she finally said in a soft, mild

voice as she politely sat the glass before their guest.


"Thanks," she said expansively. "Jane Lane, artiste extraordinaire, here."


Daria took a sip of her soda but did not reply.  You are a quiet one, aren't

you, Jane thought. Well with Miss Popularity Plus as an older sister, likely you

haven't gotten a word in edgewise in years.


"Sorry, I took so long," Quinn said breezing into the kitchen. "She hasn't been bothering you, I hope," she added when she caught sight of Daria.


"No, actually..." Jane began with the telephone rang again.


"Who can that be now?" Quinn said bounding out of the kitchen.


"Hey, we got to..." Jane called out but Quinn was already gone. She glanced over to Daria.


The smaller girl shook her head. "Forget it. Just do your part of the project."


"But it's a team effort," Jane complained. "It's a multimedia project.

Everything has to fit together. My part is meaningless without her part."


Daria stared at her for several long moments before jerking her head toward the door. "C'mon. Grab your stuff and follow me."


"Where?" Jane asked shoving her pads and drawing instruments into her case.


"My room," She replied exiting the kitchen.


Juggling her burden and her glass of soda, Jane trailed after the younger teen. She started to tell Quinn where she was going but the redhead, yammering on the telephone, did not notice her. With as much of a shrug as she could manage with her arms full, Jane started up the staircase. Daria was waiting for her at the top.


"My room's at the end of the hall," Daria said pointing Jane to the front of the house. "I'll be there in a moment. I need to dry off first."


"Sure," Jane said as a partially open door captured her attention. Beyond it, she spied a bed with a robin's-egg blue canopy and matching bedclothes. Stuffed animals and wall posters featuring various boy bands fought for attention. 


"Quinn's room?" Jane asked.


"Of course," replied Daria blandly before disappearing into the bathroom. "I couldn't sleep in something like that."


Jane walked down to Daria's room. She stopped just inside the door. She had no preconceptions but was never the less surprised by the décor, surprised and pleased although it did not mesh to own personal predilection. Unlike Quinn's teenybopper mishmash, everything in Daria's room matched. All of the furniture, the computer desk, the bureau, the vanity, the pencil post bed, was in the stark simplicity of the Shaker style. The hardwood-tiled floor was barren of any throw rugs. Heavy white drapes enclosed four windows set in walls painted a

light green. Two low bookshelves guarded the desk while three prints from the

Hudson Valley School hung on the wall above them. Another print from the same

school adorned an adjacent wall.  In a corner, two flutes, one silver-plated

concert and one wooden keyless, rested on a stand laden with sheet music.


Daria, still sipping her soda, walked in a few minutes later wearing an

oversized pink bathrobe and a pair of fuzzy house slippers with kitten faces on

them. "These are Quinn's," She quickly said. "I am not a closet Hello Kitty



"Of course not," replied Jane from where she was sitting on the edge of the bed. "Everything here screams My Little Pony."


Daria smiled slightly as she sat down at her desk and spun around.


"I like your room," Jane said gesturing with one hand. "Did you decorate it



"Yes," Daria bashfully said. "I had to in self-defense. Left up to Mom it would have either been Happy Bunny Land or Typical American Teen Girl, 1957."


Jane laughed. "You did a great job. You made some interesting choices."


"Thank you," Daria replied. "I'd like to have left it as it was when we moved in but Mom wouldn't let me."




"It was cool," Daria said. "Barred windows, padded walls, and a television

bolted up in the corner there. Apparently, the previous owners kept a mentally

unbalanced relative in here."


"And your Mom didn't go for that look?" Jane asked in mock surprise. "Shame on her. Some people have no taste."


Daria smiled ruefully. "I thought it the perfect metaphor for my life. I should

have put up more of an argument but I was so grateful to her for getting us out

of Highland that I felt that it was little enough that I could do in return."




"Highland, Texas," Daria finished. "Out in the middle of nowhere. It's a

violent, dirty city devoid of any redeeming qualities that's been slowly dying

for a hundred years but no one there seems to realize that fact."


"Highland, Texas," Jane repeated. "Wasn't it featured on Sick, Sad World once?"


Daria nodded the small smile disappearing from her lips. "They found traces of uranium in the drinking water. From the mutants that I knew there, I suspect that it was a lot more then just trace amounts."


"You're okay, aren't you?" asked Jane in sudden concern.


"Yes," Daria said. "Mom and Dad always insisted on bottled water. Part of their hippie paranoia about the man, I guess. Anyway, what's this project about?"


"What? Oh, the project," Jane said. "It's a multimedia presentation containing words, music, and a visual element. I was going to do the pictures while your sister was supposed to do the words. I thought that I'd get my brother to supply some music. So far, I haven't gotten any cooperation from either of them."


"I understood multimedia presentation," Daria said slowly. "What I asked was what's it about? What's the subject? What are you trying to accomplish? Do you have a particular message or aim?"


"I'm aiming to pass English," joked Jane.


Daria gave her a flinty glare.


"Nothing's been decided yet," Jane clarified. "It's just another dumb ass

assignment that O'Neil dreamed up. I don't really give a damn what we do just as

long as something gets done and I get a passing grade. Besides what do you care? "


"Composition is far from Quinn's strong suit but it is mine. Eventually, she's going to panic and bribe me to do the assignment for her." Daria explained.  "It would help if I knew what is needed and I don't trust her to know what that is

with any assurance."


"Oh, I see," said Jane understanding.  "Basically, we're just going to create a short original film."




"That's what I'd like to do," Jane confirmed. "I took a community education

course over the summer at Lawndale State and learned to use some of the new

animation software. If I supply everything else, I can use LSU's computers to

put together something. I just need a story to work with. I'm not good with



"How long?"


"Let's say two minutes of film," said Jane. "Nothing really major but something that won't endanger my 'C' average in English."


Daria nodded slowly.  "That's easy enough. All I need to know is what you want the film to be about."


"Oh, I don't know," Jane mused as her gaze wandered. She spotted on the opposite wall Thomas Cole's The Past, which featured a joust. "How about something with knights in armor. I remember some of the software having medieval scenery in it." 


"Knights in armor and two minutes," Daria reiterated. "Not a problem. Quinn will be bothering you in a couple of days about how her end of the project is done and when are you going to be delivering on your part."


Jane chuckled. "Does she make you do a lot of her home work?"


"She doesn't make me do any of it," Daria retorted sharply. "However, for some financial considerations, I do aid her occasionally."


"In other words, you'll be paying cash for a new car when you turn sixteen," said Jane


"Not a new one," Daria replied with a grin. 


"Are you any good with those?" asked Jane nodding her head toward the flutes on the music stand.


"I'm second flute in the Lawndale Youth Orchestra," said Daria. "Why?"


"Quinn might be bribing you for some medieval music in a few days," Jane

answered. "My brother's lollygagging for some reason."


Daria leaned back and pulled a cd from a pigeonhole in the desk. She extended it to Jane. "It's a two-disc set," she said. "It has about fifty songs on it from fourteenth through seventeenth century Florence. You can probably find something you can use."


"Hey, thanks," Jane said flipping the case over. The cover art showed a

doublet-wearing courtier playing a lute. "I'm sure this'll work and I won't have

to keep pestering Trent."


"Some of the music will be anachronistic with armored knights but I doubt if too many will notice," Daria replied. 


"Notice?" Jane laughed. "How many of our classmates even know what anachronistic means, Amiga?"




"It means friend."


"I know that," Daria said. "You can't grow up where I did without becoming

semi-fluent in the Tex-Mex form of Spanish. I simply wasn't expecting it is



"Hey, I was starting to think that I wasn't going to pass this stupid thing but

thanks to you, I think I just might now," Jane replied gathering her things. "That definitely puts you in the amiga column."


"Well, mi nuevo amiga, I'll get started," Daria said. "If you would when you get downstairs, throw a scene then storm out. That should get Quinn up here post haste."


"Ah, a little performance art to spice up the afternoon," said Jane grabbing he gear.  "No problemo. Thanks, Daria. I'll see you around."






Two week later, Jane slid up to Daria as the younger teen was shutting her locker.  "Hey, Amiga," she said happily. "I owe you big time."


"O'Neil liked the multimedia project, I take it," Daria replied.


"Liked it? He loved it," exclaimed Jane. "A plus! I can cruise the rest of the

semester. Having the winning knight to be a woman floored him. He went on and on about female actualization and empowerment and a bunch of other psychobabble crap."  


"Did Quinn like being drawn as a knight?" Daria asked.


Jane hooted. "She ate it up especially with all of the boys fawning over her



"Did any of them fawn over the artist responsible?" asked Daria impishly.


Jane snorted inelegantly. "Of course not but what the hell, I've got a

boyfriend. Speaking of which, what are you doing Friday night?"


"No plans," replied Daria. "What did you have in mind?"


"I thought maybe we could hang out," Jane answered. "Grab a burger or something. Catch a movie or listen to my brother's band down at the Zon."


"Thank you," Daria replied slowly. "But me tagging along with you and your boyfriend would be awkward for everyone."


"Yeah it would," acknowledged Jane chuckling. "But he's out of town this

weekend. It'll be just a girl's night out. What do you say?"


Daria hesitated then shrugged. "Sure," she replied with a small smile. "It

sounds like fun."


"Great," Jane exclaimed. "Hey, if you don't have band practice or something after school, let's hit the Pizza King. My treat."


"Yeah, okay," replied Daria. "I'll meet you out front."


"Fantastic," Jane said merrily. "See ya then."


Daria watched her bounce happily down the hall. She was a strange girl; a far cry from her few friends in the orchestra yet Daria found herself oddly regretting that she had not met Jane sooner after her move to Lawndale. 


"C'est la vie," She lamented to herself as she turned toward her next class.