A friend of Helenís sends her daughter for Helen to provide a good example. Unfortunately, since Helen has already a bonding Jake and Daria, and a flatly unsympathetic and unhelpful Quinn to deal with, the situation may turn out differently than what Helen intended it to turn out.
The story is rated pg-13 because some of the topics in it may not be for little kids.
Daria and others are property of MTV, Noggin, and related people and corporations. Any new characters are my creations. For comments please contact Bacner at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A new arrival
It all began on a typical weekday afternoon of the Morgendorffer family, with everybody back from school or work, and with the majority of them bored out of their skulls. Admittedly, Jake and Helen tried to find deliverance from such boredom in work, Daria in a Sick Sad World transmission and Quinn in a phone conversation with the latest boyfriend of the week. "No, Mathew, I agree with you. The late Tommy Sherman did look like a toad with a painful stare, but he was reputed to be cool, you know? Yeah, so what if he died for quite some timeÖno, Iím not sure that police were so wrong when they said that his death was an accidentÖ well, Mathew, Iím sorry, but Iím nowhere as paraÖ er, as suspicious and fully aware of my surroundings. Can you forgive me?"
"Gaggle me," Daria muttered, not caring about keeping her silence. When Quinn was busy chattering, she could fail to hear a swarm of wasps flying by her, or a personís last desperate cries for aid, or-
"Uh, excuse me, Mathew," Quinn said with something suspiciously like a relief, "but Iíve got another call incoming, wait a secÖ Oh mo-om!"
"What, Quinn?" Helen asked rather curtly from the living room. "Iím a bit busy."
"Thereís some woman named Jess on the phone asking for you."
"Oh?" Helen said and took the phone from Quinn. "Hello? Why, hi Jess, whatís up lately?" A pause. "Oh, I see. Yes, it is a big. No, I donít see a problem. For it is a big change, no doubt! No, Iíll have to talk to my family, but Iím sure that they wonít object too much. Do youÖ Oh, good, good-bye."
"Who was it?" Daria asked idly, finally looking away from the TV. "Besides the obvious, I mean."
Helen paused, and looked at Daria. "Tell you what, Iíll tell it to you at dinnertime," she finally said.
The dinner at Morgendorffersí house looked pretty routine, as well Ė lasagna from the microwave, a fare staple, but simple. (Especially if compared with the culinary creations of Jakeís Ė creations that only Trent on his select few visits to the Morgendorffer household was able to stomach Ė even Jane couldnít eat them.) "So," Helen spoke after a while, when the meal was nearing itsí completion, "you girls are interested in who called me earlier?"
"No, not really mom, why would I be interested in why some adult woman had decided to call youÖ unless theyíre from school, in which case I can explain everything," Quinn said quickly.
"No, I can live with the suspense, though if it was about that incident in the Zon, I can explain," Daria said placidly.
"Helen, if it was from some man with a East European accent and the name of Lazlo, I can explain," Jake said nervously.
"Hah? Say what?" Helen stared at the other three Morgendorffers. "Are you not telling me something?"
"Of course not mom, you know everything about me," Quinn said, smiling her cutest smile.
"No-no, Helen, there are no secrets from old Jakey," Jake said, looking rather relieved.
"No, mom, weíre a regular, well-interconnected American family," Daria finished calmly. "Now what are you news?"
Helen paused, re-gathering from the previous episode. "Well, my friend Jess has called earlier, and asked us to keep a look over her daughter while she was off to Western Europe Ė you know, France, Belgium, NetherlandsÖ"
"Thatís nice, honey," Jake said in his automatic pilot voice. "Girls, prepare the guest room, would you?"
"Dad, couldnít you ask Quinn to help me with the bed-sheets? Whenever I tackle them on my own, they practically seem to fly away, you know-"
"Iím not finished!" Helen snapped. "Now, Jessí daughter may have some trouble fitting-in around here. You see, sheís a lesbian-"
"What?" Quinn exploded like a sulfur vent. "A lesbian?! Great!! All those alternative minoritiesí types have the fashion sense of a colorblind person crossbred with a cockatoo parrot! My fashion popularity and reputation will be ruined once she gets here and teams-up with Daria to ruin it!" angrily, she stalked-off.
Helen looked at departing Quinn, and then transferred her gaze to Jake and Daria, who were still looking at her. "What?" she said angrily. "Sheíll be having sessions with my psychoanalyst here! After all, oneís sexual lifestyle-"
"What psychoanalyst? The one whose brother-in-law from his wifeís side smuggles various medicines with unreadable labels from Eastern Europe? You know, the Czechs, the Poles, the Slovaks?"
"Does he know any Hungarians?" Jake interrupted.
"No, heís more into Belarus type of guy, Jacob Malcoms the name, I believe. Iím talking about the analyst of course, never having met the in-law, of course."
"Jacob Malcoms?" Jake said, unexpectedly thoughtfully. "Balding, black hair, short beard, deep sideburns, big glasses?"
"Thatís the one."
"Never heard of him, never met him."
"Am I missing something here?" Helen slowly said.
"Of course not," Daria replied, while Jake suddenly developed a deep interest in the magazine that he was reading. "Iím sure that the man whom you are planning to entrust that girlís confidential information is a man of sterling character and integrity. And dad Ė thatís my journal of paleontology, you know?"
"I knew that! Er, Daria Ė whatís a placodont?"
ÖAs Helen looked upon her eldest daughter explain to her husband the basics of reptilian evolution while her youngest daughter just chatted on the phone with some friend of hers, Helen felt like banging her head on the table in some sort of mute desperation.
She didnít, of course, because it was undignified.
The next dayís afternoon found Daria on the phone for a change, and Quinn watching some sort of a fashion show. Of course, since it was Daria, the person she was talking to was Jane Lane, Dariaís best (and practically only, certainly - closest) girl friend.
"So let me get this straight," Jane was saying, "your motherís friend is sending her lesbian daughter so that your mother may help to make her into a normal straight person?"
"Thatís practically it."
"And you donít care?"
"As long as she doesnít try to hit on me Ė Iíll deal."
"Unless that girl is willing to take Quinn to Chez Pierre every other day that relationship will never work."
Jane almost coughed. "Youíre funny, Daria, thatís why youíre so dear to my heart. Oh, wait, no, Iíve gotten you confused with my latest painting. Never mind."
"I never do. So, to top things off sheíll be arriving today, practically on the hour, if nothing goes wrong. For all I know, the girl mightíve decided to fool her mom and went-off haring on some cross-country trip."
"Aw, and I so wanted to meet her!"
"You will if she comes. Sheís attending Lawndale High with us after all."
"Well, this is going to be pleasant," Jane muttered.
There was a knock on the door. "Daria! Open it!" Quinn yelled.
"Open it yourself?"
"And confront myself with a preeminent fashion donít? I donít think so!"
Daria sighed. "Princess Grace at it again?" Janeís voice spoke from the receiver.
"Yeah, got to go, talk to you later," Daria nodded, and went to open the door.
When Daria opened the door, she was confronted by an older girl (older as in "couple of months older", and under six months at that, not years). The girl had short spiky hair dyed a dark, cold shade of blue, some sort of black jeans that were inserted into black, military-looking boots, some sort of a plain toxic purple T-shirt, and a rubber overcoat dyed a muddy, or even dung, shade of brown. Over one shoulder a fully stuffed duffel bag was hanging.
"You must be the daughter of Jess?" Daria asked, raising an eyebrow.
"Yup. Is this the Morgendorffer residence?" the girl asked in return.
There was a pause, as the girl came in, and Daria closed the door.
"So whatís your name?" Daria spoke after a while, while the guest changed her footwear for something more appropriate.
"Make your own, girlfriend, for I am a girl of many names, free as the wind!"
"Mo-om!" came Quinnís yell as she came onto the scene from the living room. "The fashion donít is finally here!"
"A fashion donít?" the girl raised a eyebrow.
"Well duh!" Quinn snapped. "Whereíd you get your clothes? Thrift stores?"
"Second-hand shops, actually."
"Same thing! Mom! You wanted to speak to her?"
"At supper," Helen yelled back. "Iím sorry but Iím busy!"
"With what?" Daria yelled back instead of Quinn.
Helen peeped downstairs. "Well if you must know," she said rather acidly to Daria. "For some reason your father had talked Ė until midnight! Ė naught but about Mixosaurs, Nothosaurs, and Lystrosaurs, why they differed from placodonts, and why none of them were related to turtles!! And this morning I had to type a very important legal paper, and itís kind of hard, when all night you had nightmares about life on earth 220 millions years ago! When I realized that I was comparing the plaintiff to a T-rex in a style of a biblical apostle, I had to retype the whole damn thing, and thatís what Iím doing, so keep quiet!"
"Uh, mom, our guest is here," Daria said, after it became obvious that Helenís monologue had exhausted itself.
"Oh, well, uh, look, just settle-in in the guest room, and Iíll talk to you later this evening," Helen said and retreated back to her room.
"Iím off to the mall," Quinn flatly said, "leaving you two to bond. What is your name, anyways?"
"Make your own, for Iím free like the wind."
Quinn looked unimpressed. "God, Daria, sheís just like that slacker brother of your friend, and isnít he a loser! Well, Iím off!" and she was gone.
Daria looked at the other girl, and got looked back. "Come on, settle in, and Iíll try to explain things," Daria finally said in a weary tone.
This evening witnessed a new addition to the Morgendorffer family and their usual sunset partake of lasagna. "So how was your day?" Helen asked that new addition.
"Sick and sad," the latter replied. "Nice lasagna. Mom should have more of it, and less Chinese take-out."
Helen paused, unsure of how to handle it. "You know, tomorrow, after school, youíll be visiting your psychoanalyst," she finally said.
"And remember Ė if he hands you any prescription, make sure that it doesnít have labels with any sort of Cyrillic characters on them," Daria added. "Otherwise you might just get dysentery or diphtheria or just begin to vomit whenever you turn your head quickly."
"And if he gives you any free samples, give them to me instead," Jake suddenly said. "There are a few bastards at lunch that I would like to- oh, sorry honey, didnít mean to interrupt you!"
Helen just stared blankly, almost desperately. "Quinn, you got anything to say?"
"Yeah! She really should get a new wardrobe when she goes to school with us! This one just makes her look dorky!"
Helen just stared blankly. It wasnít fair, over all, to expect anything from her. First she had nightmares after Jakeís impromptu lecture about the Triassic. Then she had to type an important legal document while she still was sleepy. Then she had to retype it, several times, before it stopped resembling some sort of a deranged bestiary. And now she had to listen about dysentery and diphtheria?!
ÖIt was probably the last one that did it, as she left the supper table and went to sleep early. Needless to say, she didnít really have any pleasant dreams on that night.
The next day found the new girl together with Daria and Jane by the lockers. "So youíre the new arrival?" Jane asked with a genuine curiosity and warmth in her voice. "Whatís your name?"
"Make up for me, for-"
"-sheís free as the wind," Daria said. "Frankly, since yesterday, Quinn just calls her a loser and a fashion donít, I just call her Ďyouí or Ďthe windí, and dad just calls her whatever name he thinks-of at the moment and she responds."
"And Helen? I mean, she had to give her name to Li for registration, yes?"
Daria showed a vague mix of amusement and embarrassment on her face. "Iím not so sure. See, dad is trying to bond with me lately, and has started to read my scientific magazines, and lately has been sharing them with mom."
"So, have you tried to talk early in the morning after dreaming all night of fleeing from a pterosaur sick with diarrhea? Since nobody else of us wasnít yet awake at that time, of course, I wouldnít be surprised if mom gave Li the Latin name of some intestinal bacillus that dad told her last evening."
Jane half winced half smirked. "Man, I canít imagine Liís face when Helen told her something like that! Seriously though-"
"Hey, no can do! Iím a girl as free as the wind," the other girl shrugged.
"Fair enough, Iíll call you Ariel," Jane shrugged. "You know, as in the Tempest?"
Daria blinked. "I didnít know that you read Shakespeare voluntarily," she finally said.
"I didnít, but a bunch of Summerís friends have once performed it in the Zon, so I got a number of names from them, and little else."
"I can imagine just what they preformed," Daria winced. "For some reason the term impressionism comes to mind."
"That bad?" Ariel asked curiously, but at that moment their discussion was interrupted by Upchuck.
"And who is this beauty?" he asked, trying to sound nonchalant, but coming-off as his usual rasping self.
"Bugger off, creep," Ariel gave him a glare.
"Ooh, feisty!" Upchuck crooned instead.
"Iíll show you feisty!" Ariel growled and kicked Upchuck in the knee.
"Yeowch!" Upchuck yelled and began to jump on leg, acting rather like some drunken heron.
"You know," Ariel said after several minutes, when the polite applause of Daria and Jane had died down, "thatís why my lifestyle is alternative."
"Hmm," Jane said, thoughtfully. "Think youíll go out with me? I could use a relief form Upchuck myself."
"I donít know," Ariel shrugged. "If Mrs. Morgendorffer wouldnít mind-"
"She wonít," Daria shook flatly. "Just donít make too big a fuss, and mom will just back-off from you with relief and will return to working with whatever law documents sheís busy at the moment."
"You mean the ones that sheís currently keep making into some bestiaries written by some deranged zoo swabber?"
"Just what do you think youíre doing, you man?!!" came the shriek of Ms. Barch further down the corridor.
The three girls looked, only to see the aforementioned science teacher drag-off with protesting boy with more viciousness than shown by a hungry octopus that had stumbled over an absent-minded crab.
"Do I want to know?" Ariel asked.
"No, not really."
"Well, whatever things are, I think Iíll like them here!" Ariel just smirked.
It was yet another evening at the Morgendorffer household, and once again Quinn was at the phone, while the rest were occupying themselves in other fashions. Ariel, in particular, was busy dressing-up.
"And where are you off to, young lady?" Helen asked, somewhat icily. "Not to your psychoanalyst, I presume?"
"Nope. Jane has offered to show me around Lawndale," Ariel said with a suspicious-looking smirk.
"Daria," Helen began, but her eldest daughter didnít give her any support.
"No, I canít join you two tonight," she turned to Ariel. "Dad and I are having a bonding time, if you donít mind."
"Thatís right! Did you know, Helen that in the Triassic, the amphibians were like 10 feet or more in length?"
Helenís face began to resemble the face of a Christian saint that realized that her audience wouldnít convert to Christianity but rather make her a martyr instead. "Maybe, instead, Quinn can-"
"Absolutely not!" Quinn immediately reacted. "I will not be associated with this fashion donít! Iíll be kicked out of the Fashion Club faster than you can say gay."
"What if I cut-off your allowance instead?" Helen said, with narrowing eyes.
"Forget it! Without Fashion Club, I wonít have anything to spend my allowance upon! Iím not going! IímÖ adamant, yes thatís right, Iím adamant!"
Helenís gaze slid over the uncaring faces of her husband and eldest daughter and the defiant face of her youngest daughter. "Look," she tried again. "Our guest- Er, Iím sorry, I know that that sounds ridiculous, but I havenít quite got your name."
"Hey, make up your own, Iím a girl as free as the wind!"
"Now, donít be silly-"
"Sheís not silly," Quinn shrugged. "I mean, so far all I called her was a fashion donít and a loser, which she is, by the way, dad called her whatever name he could think of, and Daria just calls her hey you or the wind. Jane, though, calls her Ariel for some boyfriend of her sisterís. Donít see why you should be any different."
Helen stared. "I think my whole family is crazy," she finally said. "And, uh, Ariel, about your analyst-"
"If he tries give you any type of prescription that has instructions written in some sort of Cyrillic just refuse outright," Jake interrupted. "In fact, donít go to him at all. You never know what his numerous relations might try to have him sell to you Ė wooden dildos, perhaps! Just go and have fun with Jean instead."
"Thanks, Mr. Morgendorffer, I will!" and with a foxy smile Ariel was out of the door, vanishing in the dusk.
There was a pause, as Helen once again looked over her family. Her family blithely ignored her in return. "Whatís the matter with you?" she finally exclaimed. "I mean, the girlís got problems, and-"
"Sheís got no problems, Helen, sheís got an alternative lifestyle," Jake suddenly spoke more evenly than ever. "Remember when we were in college? You were clearly bisexual back then. Maybe still are, for all I know."
There was a pause, then Quinn half sighed half sobbed: "Oh God, weíre all freaks here!"
On the other hand, Daria just stared at mom, who was acting like some sort of a short-circuited robot, and patiently waited until she burst.
And Helen did burst. "Thatís it!" she slowly snarled. "I refuse of being the responsible one any longer! I am sick and tired of being the only one who gives a damn! IfÖ if she will blow-up and need help, Iíll give it to her Ė before shipping her off to Jess, even if the latter is in Venice or Mongolia, the bloody bitch! If she doesnít do anything that requires my help, Iíll just wait to Jess finally comes to Europe and send her off then, for I am not going to be one of those fools that help others by force and get hurt in reply. And that goes for the rest of you Ė youíll deal withÖ with her on her own! Good-night!" and Helen stomped-off.
Daria and Jake saw her off with their gazes, while Quinn just blithely considered to watch the fashion show having simply ignored Helenís earlier monologue.
All in all, it turned out to be yet another regular evening in the Morgendorffer household.