A Family Deal
by Dennis

"Okay," said Jake, "I'm going play a game of hearts with my beautiful wife and my two great kids."

"Hearts?" Daria said. "Poker or nothing."

Helen nodded. "It's a waste of time if you're not playing for money."

Quinn pouted. "I can't believe you're making me stay home on a Saturday night to play cards with you. It's not like I'm Daria and don't have any place to be."

"Now Quinn," Helen said, "we don't get to do things as a family very often." A sudden blizzard of cards stopped her train of thought. "Give me those," she snapped at a sheepish Jake, who had managed to turn the comparatively simple act of shuffling cards into an impromptu game of 52 pick-up.

While Jake handed over the few cards he had left, Daria gathered those that had ended up on the the floor. When she had them all, Helen handed her the remaining cards and she began to shuffle them expertly.

"Here's the rules," said Helen. "Tournament style Texas Hold-Em, $50 buy in, winner takes all." She reached under the table and took out a case of casino quality poker chips. As she divided the chips, she continued. "Blinds go up every 15 minutes until someone falls out of the game, then every 10 minutes after. No splits at the end. Any questions?"

Jake sheepishly raised a hand. "How much are the blue ones worth?"

"Jake!" Helen barked. "Just pay attention!"

Daria, who had made a perfect gambler's rose while Helen was takling, gave Quinn a nasty look. "I think you're in trouble, sis. There are numbers involved and no cute guys to explain the rules to you."

"Mom," Quin said. "Daria's ruining my life again!"

"Enough, Quinn," Helen said. "Let's get the game started."

Jake, of course, was out before the blinds moved up even once, leaving Daria, Quinn, and Helen to settle in to a serious game—well, a game that got serious after they got Jake free from the chair he got tangled up in while trying to rise from the table.

Quinn was surprisingly good, and managed to keep mostly even with Daira and Helen for another 20 minutes. She came acropper with a pair of Queens in the hole. An Ace Queen Jack flop pot her in a bad position, but she was sure the cute cards wouldn't let her down, so she went all in. Daria, holding Ten King, saw Quinn's bet and cleaned her out when the last two cards turned out to be a Three and a Eight.

Quinn flounced off, muttering complaints about Daria ruining her life and cute cards letting her down, leaving Daria and Helen wo-mano e wo-mano for the two C-notes. Helen had her piercing lawyer stare and an intimindating manner, but Daria had her icy demeanor and unparalleled observational skills.

She'd already noticed that Helen's table patter grew specific and critical when bluffing, so when Helen started talking about Daria's lack of a social life and possible lesbianism with three hearts on the table, Daria knew what was coming.

"All in," Helen said, pushing a mound of chips into the middle of the table.

"Call," Daria said, grinning an evil grin. "Game over."

Helen's King of Hearts and Jack of Spades were no help with five numbered cards on the table, leaving Daria to take the game with, of all things, a pair of Eights.

"Nice try, Mom," she said, taking the two hundred and leaving the cleanup. "This goes in the Montana Cabin fund."

Helen, left to gather up the chip and cards, could only sigh. "How does she do that?"

Author's Note: Written for the 2010 March Madness Finals. midnightstorm's challenge was: Okay, both of you have so far battled it out with angst, love, etc, etc, etc. For the final challenge, since this is a Daria fanfic tournament, both of you have to write a parody of the cliches in any type of fanfiction convention. Drama, SciFi, Fantasy... I'm positive there's enough for you guys to dig into.

I used cliche versions of each character: hypercompetent Daria, cuteness-obsessed Quinn, hard-charging lawyer Helen, and utter incompetent Jake.

Disclaimer: Daria and all characters are copyright MTV 1997–2002. I own nothing and am merely along for the ride.