Daria in 'Breaking Strain'

Drama. Rated: TV-PG for language

Short summary:

Daria has too many extracurricular activities. Stacy has too much homework. Sandi has too much competition. Someone's going to break under the strain.

Warning: This is a "character development" story in the spirit of season four episodes like "Fire!". If you don't like those, you might as well stop reading now.

The story takes place shortly after 'Is It Fall Yet?' near the beginning of Daria's senior year. It follows my previous story, Temple of Gloom, although it can be read independently.

Daria (and associated characters and locations) is copyright © 1997-2000 MTV Networks

This story is copyright © 2000 Mystik Slacker (mystik_slacker@hotmail.com) and has been written for personal enjoyment. No infringement of the above rights is intended.

Intro, with title 'Daria, in "Breaking Strain"':


Establishing shot: Exterior. Lawndale High School - Monday Morning.

Interior. Classroom.

Mr. O'Neill is handing out papers. The fashion club members sit in the rear corner, as usual. Tiffany and Stacy are next to each other; behind them are Sandi and Quinn. Stacy is looking at her paper, which bears a "D". Quinn's shows a "B". Meanwhile, Mr. O'Neill returns to the front of the class and addresses them.

O'NEILL: (falsely upbeat tone) Now, those of you who didn't do that well should still feel good about yourselves. Not everyone has the same aptitude for analyzing a work of fiction. (continues in an unhappy tone) However, if you received less than a "C" your analysis missed something important, or you failed to support it with relevant citations from the story. (beat) You really need to do better on the next assignment, or the rest of the year will be very difficult for you. If you think you need help, please see me after class.

The class bell rings, and the students get up and file out. Stacy and Quinn hang back at the door, and are separated from Sandi and Tiffany by several other students as they exit the room. Stacy sees Quinn's paper as she puts it away.

Interior. Hallway.

Quinn and Stacy walk down the hall together. Although there are other students in the hall, none are close enough to the two of them to overhear their conversation.

STACY: Gee, Quinn. You did really well on that assignment.

QUINN: (defensive) Well, you know, it's just a matter of practice. How did you do?

STACY: (sighs) Another "D". Mom's going to kill me. Mr. O'Neill said the other day that if I fail English they'll keep me back a year. (beat) I'm beginning to wish I hadn't given up on that tutor this summer.

QUINN: Yeah, it was a pain, but he really taught me how to work on problems. (beat) You know, I'm sure you could hire someone to tutor you evenings. The seniors are all looking for things to pad out their college applications, and tutoring probably counts as an extra-curricular activity.

STACY: Wow Quinn, you think of everything! Your cousin is a senior, could you ask her to tutor me?

QUINN: (wide-eyed) Uh, my cousin? But she's so... uh... so, y'know? Why not someone like Jodie?

STACY: But I don't know Jodie, I couldn't ask her! (begins to breathe rapidly) Please Quinn, I don't know any seniors. She's your cousin, and she helped me that time I was injured. I'm sure she'd help. You can ask her for me, can't you?

Quinn looks worried, afraid that Stacy is setting herself up to be disappointed.

SANDI: (off screen, from up ahead) Come on, you two, we've barely got time to touch-up our makeup before the next class. Get moving!

QUINN: (to Sandi) We're coming! (quieter, to Stacy) Okay, I'll ask her, but she'll probably say "no". She's not very helpful.

Interior. Hallway.

Daria stands in front of her open locker with Jane, switching books for the next class. Daria has a distant look, as if something is on her mind and she's not really paying attention to what she's doing.

JANE: You're looking down. Something the matter?

Daria mumbles something, not meeting Jane's eyes.

JANE: I believe conversation requires actual words.

DARIA: (still not looking at Jane) I said, nothing's the matter.

JANE: So, why don't I believe you?

DARIA: (finally looks at her) Jane, leave it, I don't want to talk about it.

JANE: Oh, it's about Tom, isn't it? (Daria nods) Sorry.

Daria sighs, closes her locker, and leans her forehead against the door.

DARIA: Yeah, me too. This sucks. How did my life get so complicated? Don't answer that. (Jane smirks, but doesn't say anything). At least it can't get any worse.

Quinn walks up furtively behind Daria, looking back over her shoulder to make sure nobody sees her approaching the two of them.

JANE: You had to tempt fate. Don't look now, fashion zombie at six-o'clock.

QUINN: Daria?

Daria, scowling, looks over her shoulder at Quinn, then turns to face her. She is still upset, and clearly has less patience with Quinn than usual.

DARIA: (to Quinn, coldly) Aren't you afraid someone will see you talking to your au pair and revoke your style license?

QUINN: (unhappy) Please Daria, I need a favor.

DARIA: (annoyed) You set up overlapping dates again, and you need me to tell one of them that you have to leave early to accept your Pulitzer prize? Go to hell.

Quinn steps up to Daria, and the two face off from about six inches apart. Quinn's hands are clenched in fists at her side and she's visibly angry. Daria isn't angry, just annoyed.

QUINN: (spitting out her words, but in a quiet voice) Oh! I knew you'd be like this! Dammit, you're so selfish!

Daria is taken aback by the outburst, and begins to get angry herself.

DARIA: (coldly, but with force) I'm selfish? I'm not the one who's an only child! How dare YOU call ME selfish!

Jane steps back from the two of them, and raises her hands defensively.

JANE: Whoa!

QUINN: (still angry, still quietly intense) I said "please", but that's not good enough for you, you just have to take advantage of the fact that I need something to be so damn superior! I told her you wouldn't be any help, but no, "Daria will help," she said. Ohh!

As Quinn ends, she clenches her hands even tighter and hunches her shoulders, as if she's barely holding herself back from physical assault.

Daria's anger drains away, and she seems more puzzled than anything else.

DARIA: (in a normal voice) Okay, we have now entered the twilight zone. (beat) What are you talking about? What do you want, anyway? And who's this "she"?

QUINN: (less angry, and speaking more calmly) Stacy! Who else? She's failing English, and she thought you'd be a good choice for a tutor. I told her you wouldn't do it, but she wouldn't listen to me!

DARIA: Let me get this straight. Stacy needs tutoring, so she asked you to ask me?

QUINN: (still annoyed) Yes!

DARIA: You want me to associate with one of your friends? One of the people you've spent the last two years trying to keep as far from me as possible? Aren't you afraid she'll find out we're related?

QUINN: (plaintive) Daria, she's failing English! She might be held back a year! This is important!

Daria takes a deep breath, visibly surprised, and taking time to think before speaking.

DARIA: (exhales) Wow. (she pauses, then speaks calmly) Okay, I'll do it.

QUINN: (ranting) See, I told her it was no use... (stops suddenly, looks shocked)

JANE and QUINN: (together, surprised) What?!?

DARIA: I said, I'd do it. You know mom's been after me to find activities for my college applications, and this should keep her off my back for a while. (beat) Besides, the irony is just too much to resist. Tell her to come over after dinner tomorrow night.

QUINN: Okay. And, uh, thanks?

DARIA: Don't mention it. Please don't mention it. Ever.

Quinn walks away, and Daria turns to Jane, who is watching her with a quizzical look.

DARIA: What?

JANE: Hormones. It must be hormones. First, you're dating, then you turn maternal.

DARIA: (glaring) Die, Lane! (beat) Dating didn't have that effect on you.

JANE: I've had more experience than you, I've built up a tolerance. (beat) Besides, I have Trent to mother. So, why are you really doing this?

DARIA: I'm not sure. The novelty of Quinn asking for a favor for someone else is part of it. And I've never done any tutoring. It seems like something I should be able to do without too much effort. (beat) Besides, Quinn is going to suffer every minute I'm with Stacy, wondering what I'm telling her.

JANE: (grins) You ARE evil. (looks off screen) Hey Jodie, Daria needs to talk to you.


Jodie is walking down the hall with a sheaf of papers under one arm. She stops and joins them.

JODIE: Hey guys, what's up?

JANE: Hey Jodie. Gotta go. I'll catch you after class, Daria.

Jane walks off.

JODIE: What did you need to talk about?

DARIA: Sorry, that was Jane trying to find a stand-in since I can't talk to her about something.

JODIE: Oh. What's up with Tom?

Daria's eyes go wide.

DARIA: (flustered) How did you... I mean, that's not... (sighs)

JODIE: It's obvious. Even though you seem to be friends again, it doesn't take a genius to guess what it is that the two of you can't talk about.

DARIA: (grins sheepishly) Yeah, I guess that would be obvious, wouldn't it?

JODIE: Yeah. (beat) If you really don't want to talk about it, that's cool. But if you need to talk, that's what friends are for. I can keep a secret. If I couldn't, the Senator I worked for this summer would have been in all the papers for months.

Daria leans back against her locker, and takes a deep breath.

DARIA: I really do need to talk to someone. I just took Quinn's head off, and for once she didn't deserve it. (beat) Okay. You and Mack have been a couple ever since I moved here. How do you do it? I can't even get through a weekend without getting mad at Tom. We had a big fight last night, and I'm still upset.

JODIE: C'mon, I need to take these papers down to the student council room. It'll be empty at this time of the day, we can talk there.

Interior. School Women's Room.

Quinn and Stacy are facing the mirror, touching up their makeup. Empty stalls are visible beyond them. Nobody else is in the room.

QUINN: So Daria said if you came over tomorrow night after dinner she'd help you with English.

STACY: (excited) Oh, thank you Quinn, that's great!

QUINN: Well, you should thank her. And you better be ready to work, her idea of helping is to make you think for yourself.

STACY: (worried) Oh, I don't know if I can do that. Whenever I try to do something on my own, Sandi says I did it wrong.

QUINN: (looks around quickly) Sandi's an idiot. Don't listen to her. She just doesn't like ideas if they aren't hers first.

STACY: Yeah, I'd noticed. At least she doesn't treat me as if I were trying to take over the fashion club every time I have a thought of my own, the way she does when you question her decisions.

QUINN: (bitterly) Yeah. That is SO much fun.

Stacy looks around, making sure the room is still empty.

STACY: (hesitantly) Why do you put up with it?

QUINN: (surprised) What do you mean? She's the president of the fashion club. She's supposed to be the one making decisions. It's in the club charter.

STACY: But you could be president of the club. You know I'd vote for you, and Tiffany, well, she'll follow whoever is talking fastest.

QUINN: It's not that simple. Sandi needs to be in charge. She'd quit if she ever lost the presidency. It's her identity.

Stacy frowns, thinking about what Quinn just said.

STACY: I guess that's true, but why do you care? I mean, she's always putting you down or going off on some power trip. She's been my friend since forever, but why do you put up with it?

QUINN: I like Sandi. Just 'cause she's a bitch sometimes doesn't change that. And the fashion club wouldn't be the same without her. She's got the best sense of style of any of us. I have a better understanding of color coordination, but she really knows style. Remember when she said animal prints were coming back, a month before Waif did the cover story?

STACY: (reluctant agreement) Yes. I guess that makes sense. I just wish she'd ease up.

QUINN: (slightly exasperated) Well, you don't have to fold up every time she looks at you. Stand up to her, just a little. I have, and I'm still alive.

STACY: Oh, I could never do that.

The class bell rings.

BOTH: We're late!

The two quickly finish, pack their makeup, and run out.

Interior. Morgendorffer Kitchen - Tuesday Breakfast.

Daria and Jake are at the table. Daria is eating pop-tarts, Jake playing listlessly with something in a bowl resembling oatmeal. Daria has a distracted expression, and a faint smile plays on her face, as if she's remembering something pleasant.

JAKE: (plaintive) I know this is good for me, but why can't it taste good?

DARIA: Because then everyone would want some.

JAKE: (looks up, smiling) Hey, a joke! You seem to be in a good mood today.

DARIA: (dryly) It's early yet.

JAKE: (doubtful) That was a joke too, right?

DARIA: No, that was cynicism. They're not exactly identical.

JAKE: Oh. Say kiddo, how was your date last night?

DARIA: (looks at him in surprise) I think Tom will pull through. (beat) With years of psychotherapy.

JAKE: Um, joke?

DARIA: Not really. He'll be fine, I just told him something he didn't want to hear. He'll get over it, and I'm really glad I was able to say it. (hands him a pop-tart) Have some sugar?

JAKE: (accepting the pop-tart) So, you had a fight, and you're happy? (beat) I don't understand. Why is being a parent so hard?

Daria stands up, picks up her pack, then stops and puts a hand on Jake's shoulder.

DARIA: (gently) Because you actually try.

Daria leaves. Jake sits there holding the half-eaten pop-tart and looking bemused.

JAKE: Boy, she really is in a good mood. That must have been some date. (a look of shock crosses his face) Oh my God! Daria! Wait!

Interior. School Hallway.

Jane and Daria are walking to class. The hallway is empty.

JANE: Why were you late? I'm usually the late one. Hot date last night?

After she speaks, Jane looks like she regrets what she just said. Daria notices her look.

DARIA: No, but I had to spend a half hour convincing my father of that. Remind me never to be happy around my parents.

JANE: I didn't think you had that problem, or I would have warned you.

MS LI: (voice over, on PA) Jodie Landon and Daria Morgendorffer, please report to the principal's office.

Jane looks at Daria, Daria shrugs.

Interior. Ms. Li's Office.

Ms. Li sits behind her desk, shuffling papers. There is a knock on the door. Ms. Li stops rearranging papers, and looks up.

MS LI: (with enthusiasm) Enter!

The door opens, and Jodie enters, followed by Daria, who closes the door behind her.

MS LI: (cordial) Ms. Landon, Ms. Morgendorffer, please be seated.

Ms. Li waves to a pair of chairs in front of her desk. Daria and Jodie sit.

MS LI: (businesslike) Congratulations. The two of you have the highest overall grade averages in the senior class. Because of this, you have been selected to represent Lawndale High in an experimental internship program the county schools are conducting with Middleton College.

DARIA: (annoyed) I don't recall volunteering for an internship.

MS LI: (mildly irritated) It's not something you volunteer for. It's a reward offered to you in recognition of your achievement. You should be thankful for this opportunity.

DARIA: (totally emotionless) Thank you for your kind offer, but I must decline. My busy social schedule prevents me from accepting this honor.

MS LI: (triumphant) Too late! Your mother already accepted on your behalf, (turns to Jodie) as did your parents. You will both report to the Halcyon Hills administrative office tomorrow morning at eight-thirty, and will be working there every Wednesday until the end of the trimester. (beat) At the end, your supervisor's evaluation will determine your grade, which will appear on your transcripts as college credit. I expect you to do your best, both for the sake of your college plans, and for the honor of LLLawnnndale High.

Cut to: wide shot of Daria and Jodie's faces.

Both look unhappy, and slightly annoyed.

Interior. Hallway.

Daria stands in front of her locker with Jane, switching books for the next class. The two have apparently been talking about Daria's internship. Daria is scowling.

JANE: Well, what do you expect from her, fair play? (imitates Ms. Li's drawl) The honor of LLLawnnndale High is too important for free will.

DARIA: Yeah, but now I've got two extracurricular activities. One was bad enough, but two?

JANE: So, tell the little zombie you changed your mind. That one was your idea, after all.

DARIA: I could do that. (beat) If I never wanted to look at myself in the mirror again.

JANE: You don't want to look at yourself in the mirror anyway. Trust me.

DARIA: Thanks Jane, you really know how to be supportive. (beat) No, I said I'd do it, so I'll do it. I have no one to blame except myself. (beat) Damn ethics.

JANE: Wouldn't know, never had any.

Interior. School Cafeteria - Lunchtime.

The cameras point of view is from behind the cafeteria counter, as the Fashion Club moves down the line adding food to their trays. Sandi leads, followed by Stacy, Quinn, and Tiffany. Tiffany is far enough behind to be out of the shot most of the time.

SANDI: (looking at sandwich plates) Are they trying to poison us? Look at all the processed meats! Those can't be good for our skin!

Sandi picks up a plate, and puts it on her tray. Stacy chooses the same kind of plate, and lifts it. Quinn is still looking over the selection.

Sandi changes her mind, and quickly puts her plate back, choosing another one. Stacy is caught with the old plate just above her tray. She looks at Sandi, then at the plate, and begins to look panicked. Sandi looks pleased.

SANDI: (starting to move her tray down the line) Are you coming Stacy, or are you just going to stand there?

Anger replaces Stacy's panicked look briefly. She looks over at Sandi, and then puts the plate (the original one) down on her tray and moves along. A flash of irritation crosses Sandi's face, although Stacy is not looking at her and doesn't see it.

STACY: Yes Sandi.

Cut to: further down the line.

The four are standing in front of the desert section. Various plates of pie, fruit cups, and Jell-O sit on the counter. Sandi picks up a slice of pie and puts it on her tray (it's something rich looking, with whipped topping). She waits, watching Stacy.

Stacy is looking at the deserts, apparently considering which she wants, rather than simply imitating Sandi. Sandy scowls, stuck with the pie until Stacy picks one up.

SANDI: Are you going to take all day? It's just desert.

QUINN: But the wrong desert can affect your skin for days, Sandi.

SANDI: (irritated) Are you suggesting that I picked the WRONG desert Quinn?

QUINN: (faux agreeable) Why no, Sandi, I'm only saying that desert is too important a decision to be made casually.

Meanwhile, Stacy picks up a fruit cup, and places it on her tray. Sandi sees this, and glares at her. Now she's stuck with the pie. Again, Stacy is not looking at her, so she does not see the look. Quinn, however, does and she looks worried.

SANDI: Well, if you've all made your decisions, can we go now?

Quinn grabs a fruit cup, and turns to follow Sandi.

Cut to: a cafeteria table, seen from one end.

The Fashion Club is finishing their meals, only desert remains. Sandi and Stacy sit on one side, with Tiffany opposite Sandi, and Quinn opposite Stacy. On their trays, we can see that Sandi and Tiffany have the pie, and Stacy and Quinn have the fruit cup. Stacy picks at her fruit, apparently without much of an appetite. Sandi hasn't touched her pie, but the others seem to be enjoying their deserts.

SANDI: (archly, to Stacy) So, is the fruit as good as you expected?

Stacy appears to have missed Sandi's real point.

SANDI: (downcast) It's fine, I'm just thinking about my English class. I'm really worried about passing.

QUINN: Don't worry, you'll do fine.

SANDI: It's not like Mr. O'Neill would really fail you. He's just trying to scare you.

Quinn looks up at Sandi, not believing what she just heard.

QUINN: I don't know, Sandy, he may act like a wimp, but he's given plenty of people F's on papers. He's still a teacher.

SANDI: (really annoyed now) Quinn Morgendorffer, are you questioning the judgment of the president of the fashion club? Perhaps you think you can do better?

QUINN: (faux conciliatory) Oh no, Sandi! I'm just saying that Stacy shouldn't take Mr. O'Neill too lightly.

Sandi looks like she's about to respond, when Tiffany holds up her half-eaten pie.

TIFFANY: Does this make me look fat?

Dumbstruck, the others look at her in disbelief. Sandi gets up, and storms off, Stacy hurrying to follow. Quinn looks at Tiffany. Tiffany looks at Quinn, and her eyebrows quirk in a way that might be a smile, although her mouth never moves. Quinn doesn't know how to respond.

SANDI: (off screen) Quinn, are you going to sit there all day?

Exterior. Morgendorffer House - Evening.

Stacy walks up to the front door. She's wearing a trench coat and a wide-brimmed hat, with sunglasses, and carrying a canvas book bag. She rings the doorbell. Helen opens the door.

HELEN: Stacy, is that you? Quinn isn't here, she had a date with Corey.

STACY: Hello Mrs. Morgendorffer, I'm actually here to see Daria.

HELEN: (incredulous) Daria?

DARIA: (off-screen) What is it?

HELEN: (doubtful) Daria, Stacy says she's here to see you.

DARIA: (off-screen) Are you planning to let her in, or do I need to move the kitchen table onto the front lawn?

Helen, surprised, pulls the door open to allow Stacy to enter.

Interior. Living Room.

Stacy stands in the doorway, with Helen off to one side, as Daria rises from the couch, where she's been watching television. Stacy takes off the glasses, hat and coat as she enters, and Helen closes the door behind her.

DARIA: We can use the kitchen table, did you bring your books?

STACY: I brought the book we're reading for English and my class notes. (her voice begins to rise) Did I forget something? I know I forgot something!

DARIA: (with a put-upon expression) No Stacy, that's fine. Come on in.

Daria and Stacy walk towards the kitchen, as the camera zooms in on Helen's face, which bears a disbelieving expression.

Interlude (a video montage with music):

Daria and Quinn facing off.

Jake eats a pop-tart as Daria puts her hand on his shoulder.

Daria and Jodi talk to Ms. Li.

Stacy walks up to the Morgendorffer house in a trench coat.

Commercial Break


Exterior. Halcyon Hills Corporate Office Park - Wednesday Morning.

Halcyon Hills is a complex of concrete and glass office buildings, of several stories each, set in carefully manicured landscapes and surrounded by parking lots full of cars. The sun glares brightly off the glass of the buildings.

Interior. Administrative Office.

Daria and Jodie are sitting at a small table with a middle-aged man in a suit. A bulletin board on the wall holds papers with titles such as "Workplace Safety Regulations" and "Interview Guidelines." Jodie is dressed more formally than she usually dresses for school, with a knee-length gray skirt and a white blouse. A small, leather briefcase is on the table next to her. Daria is dressed as usual. Her backpack sits on the floor next to her chair.

MAN: Most of our internship positions have already been filled by college students. We do have these left. (he holds out a few pages of paper) Find something you like, and then we'll get you set up.

Daria and Jodie look at the papers.

DARIA: (reading from pages) Food services technician. Sanitation engineering trainee. Window washer. Why am I not surprised these are still available?

JODIE: (also reading) Executive administrative assistant trainee. What's that, a secretary's assistant?

MAN: Basically, yes. But it's in the CEO's office of one of our tenant companies. You'd have an opportunity to observe the senior management of a company in action. According to the background information Ms. Li sent, you've had previous experience working in an office with highly confidential information. You'd be a natural fit.

JODIE: Maybe. (to Daria) Find anything interesting?

DARIA: (flipping through pages) I'm amazed at how many different euphemisms there are for "go-fer". Hmm, what's a Technical Support Assistant?

MAN: Let's see. (he reaches over and takes the paper from Daria) Oh, this one is available again. It's really a good position. Do you have any experience with computers?

DARIA: I've used them. You said it became available again, why?

MAN: (initially reluctant) Well, the staff in that group is a bit eccentric, and they don't have much patience for people who can't keep up with them. (encouraging, trying to sell the position) They've promised to be nicer this time, and from your transcripts you're sharp enough to get along with them. You'd learn some useful skills.

JODIE: (teasing) They sound like your kind of people Daria.

DARIA: Thank you for that testimonial. Just remember that you're my kind of people too. (to the man) Okay, anything beats a sanitation engineering trainee, but am I really qualified for this?

MAN: Sure, it's all on-the-job training anyway. Now, if you're okay with the admin position Jodie, we'll get the two of you ID badges and have you sign some papers, then you can report to your supervisors. Oh, and the intern program is covering your lunches, so I'll need to give you some coupons for the cafeteria on the fifth floor.

JODIE: Okay, I'll go with the admin job. (to Daria) Want to meet for lunch at the cafeteria?

DARIA: Sounds like a plan.

Interior. Large Office.

Daria, with a small white badge with her picture on it hanging from a chain around her neck, stands in the doorway of a large room. There are several desks around the edge of the room, and a large pile of cardboard boxes in the middle. Computers sit on three of the desks, and what appears to be a disassembled computer sits on another desk. A couple of desks are piled with tools, wires, and paper. Nobody appears to be in the office.

DARIA: Hello? Anyone home?

She looks around, and walks in. She looks up at the clock on the wall, which reads 9:15.

DARIA: Maybe they're on a coffee break. I guess I wait.

She sits down at an empty desk, pulls a book out of her backpack, puts her feet up on the desk, and begins to read.

Fade out and back in: on a close-up of the clock, which now reads 10:00. Pull out to show Daria still reading.

Two men enter the room, one is about thirty, tall, and overweight, the other is about 25, thin, with a narrow face, and about as short as Daria. Both are wearing jeans and t-shirts bearing illegible corporate logos. Both are carrying paper coffee cups with steam rising from them.

SMALL MAN: Someone's been sleeping in my bed!

BIG MAN: As long as she didn't eat all the porridge, it's okay.

Daria, surprised by their arrival, jumps up, dropping her book on the desk.


The small man goes to one of the computers, and sits down to work, ignoring Daria. The big man walks up to Daria.

BIG MAN: Can we help you?

DARIA: I'm Daria. I think I work here. Is this Technical Support?

BIG MAN: (holding out his hand) Hi, I'm Ben, also known as the manager of Technical Support. The antisocial ferret over there is Jerry, he's Technical Support.

Daria shakes his hand.

DARIA: Ben and...

BEN: Don't say it. Do you know how many ice cream jokes we get in a week?

Daria cracks a smile.

DARIA: Twenty-eight different flavors?

BEN and JERRY: (together) We have a winner!

BEN: Welcome to the team, I think you'll fit right in. But you need to fix your clothes. We have a dress code here.

Daria looks at his jeans and t-shirt.

DARIA: And I'm overdressed?

BEN: (smiling) Yep. Actually, you can wear whatever you like. Halcyon Hills has a dress code. We've ignored it for years. I'd recommend jeans and a shirt that you don't mind getting dusty though, we tend to visit parts of the buildings that the janitors never see.

DARIA: So, what technical thing do you -- we -- support? The guy in the Administration office was a bit vague.

BEN: I see Human Resources is being as helpful as ever. Our last intern thought we did technical writing. (beat) We keep the computer networks and telephone wiring for all of the tenant companies in Halcyon Hills working. Mostly we show people how to plug their computers into the wall jack, and give them new cables when they roll a chair over the old ones. Sometimes we actually do something technical. How much do you know about computers and networks?

DARIA: Not much. I've used them, and I helped a friend set up a webcam once. I learn fast though.

BEN: That's more experience than the last two had. (beat) Jerry, how many calls have we got?

Jerry's still sitting by the computer, as he hits a few keys, pages begin to pop out of the printer next to it.

JERRY: Only a dozen, nothing major, but building three is still flaky.

BEN: (to Jerry) You head over to building three, and I'll take the other calls. Daria, you wander around with me, and I'll show you where we keep things. When do you leave?

DARIA: I'm supposed to leave at four, but my father's actually picking me up at 5:15.

BEN: Jerry and I are here until seven or eight, unless something breaks. You're welcome to hang out here after four, or you could take a long lunch break and just work until five. Your choice. Let's go.

Ben picks up the printed pages from Jerry's computer and heads for the door, Daria follows.

Interior. Cafeteria.

Daria and Jodie sit at a table, the room looks much like the cafeteria of Lawndale High, except that the people using it are older and wearing formal business clothing.

DARIA: So that's the dynamic duo in a nutshell. They seem to start their day around ten. Ben said he'd find me something to keep me amused next week from 8:30 until then. I'm almost afraid to find out what he means by "amused".

JODIE: It doesn't sound that bad.

DARIA: No, it's not. Different, but not bad. How was your morning?

JODIE: Well, I got to make coffee for the whole office, shred some papers, and help Janet, my boss, look for a missing report in the file room. I finally found it; executives misfile things the same way politicians do. Janet and I spent most of the time talking about her kids. I gather they are remarkably intelligent for two and four years old.

DARIA: (deadpan) Oh, that sounds exciting.

JODIE: Yeah, but she's pleasant to talk to, so it's not that bad. I've worked with worse. (beat) Hey, are you sure your father's okay with chauffeuring me here? My parents' house is a bit out of the way.

DARIA: Dad's okay with it. I told him the alternative was that I'd drop him off and then pick you up.

JODIE: You didn't!

DARIA: Well, he knew I was kidding. He's gotten better at jokes lately. Seriously, he doesn't mind driving you. He and mom approve of you, and after I spent last night tutoring Stacy, they're probably considering you for sainthood.

JODIE: But I didn't have anything to do with that!

DARIA: Yeah, but they'll never believe I volunteered to do it. I don't believe it myself.

JODIE: You're not as misanthropic as you pretend to be.

DARIA: I know. I try, but I just can't seem to manage it.

JODIE: (smiles) If I thought you were serious, I'd be worried. (beat) Speaking of misanthropes, how did your date go Monday night?

DARIA: Remarkably well, considering it started with me telling him that I was still upset with the way he'd waited until he knew I liked him before breaking up with Jane.

JODIE: He took it well?

DARIA: He took it badly, but he didn't deny it. He was a bit detached after that, and I don't know if we still have a date for Saturday or not. But I'm really glad I told him. And if he does dump me, he wasn't worth my time anyway. (quieter) If I tell myself that enough, maybe I'll believe it.

JODIE: Well, if he didn't storm off in the middle of your date, I'd say that's a good sign.

DARIA: I hope so.

Exterior. Halcyon Hills - Day.

Daria and Jodie are standing on a sidewalk as Jake pulls up in the Lexus. Daria climbs in front, Jodie in the back. The camera moves to a medium shot from the hood, showing all of their faces. The car pulls away from the curb and moves out into the evening commuter traffic.

JAKE: Hi Jodie!

JODIE: Hi Mr. Morgendorffer, thanks for the ride.

JAKE: Oh, it's no bother. Hey kiddo, how was work?

DARIA: Interesting. I learned how to install a disk drive in a computer.

JAKE: Wow, on your first day?

DARIA: I also learned how to play Doom, and splattered both my co-workers over the walls with a shotgun.

JAKE: Gahh, a shotgun! (the car swerves as Jake turns to look at her)

DARIA: Relax dad, it's a computer game.

JAKE: Well, don't let your boss catch you playing games on company time.

DARIA: Dad, my boss was the one teaching me to play.

JAKE: Oh. Do they have any other openings? (Jake smiles)

Interior. Jane's Room - That evening.

Daria is sitting up on the bed, reading a book. Jane sits cross-legged on the floor, molding a foot-high amorphous lump of clay into a vaguely human shape on newspaper spread on the floor. Our viewpoint is from behind Jane, looking past her at an angle towards Daria. The view is angled down slightly to take in Jane.

JANE: You've been buried in that book for an hour, what's so interesting?

DARIA: It's an overview of how computer networks work. They're more complicated than I thought.

JANE: So, nerd-in-training, are my ears deceiving me, or are you actually enjoying the job you were forced into by Ms. Li?

DARIA: (deliberately flat voice) I never enjoy anything. You must be mistaken.

JANE: Think you can tear yourself away from your book long enough for a movie tomorrow night? Trent and Monique picked up Brazil at Lackluster today, and it doesn't have to go back until Friday.

DARIA: I can't. I'm tutoring Stacy tomorrow night after dinner.

JANE: Again? Haven't you murdered the little mouse yet?

DARIA: She's not that bad, in small doses. Why do you dislike her so much?

JANE: I don't really dislike her. I just don't see that she's worth the effort. She's been Sandi's slave since elementary school. As soon as Sandi catches on, she's just going to give up and go back to being an airhead fashion zombie again.

DARIA: You're probably right. But as long as she's willing to try, I can't give up on her. (looks at Jane) Okay?

JANE: (disappointed) Yeah, it's okay. (normal voice) I'll still be communing with my clay tomorrow anyway, I need to finish this for Ms. Defoe by Friday. How about Friday night? I don't need to return the tape until midnight.

DARIA: Friday's good. (beat) Hey, would you mind if I invited Jodie? She really needs a break from things and Mack's all tied up with football practice.

JANE: (reluctant) Um, yeah, that would be okay.

Daria marks her place in the book with a finger, and looks over at Jane.

DARIA: That was unenthusiastic, even for you. I won't invite her if you don't want me to, but why?

JANE: No, it's okay.

DARIA: C'mon Jane, don't give me that. You've shown more interest in one of DeMartino's History exams. I know you like Jodie. What's the problem?

JANE: (irritated) There's no damn problem, alright!

Daria stands up and puts the book in her pack.

DARIA: Well, if you're not going to talk to me, I'm going home.

Cut to: close-up of Jane's face. She looks stricken. She obviously doesn't want to talk, but is unwilling to see Daria leave.

JANE: Wait. (beat) I'll explain.

Cut back to: wide shot as before.

Daria stops, and just stands next to the bed. She looks at Jane without speaking. Jane looks up from her seated position on the floor.

JANE: (speaking slower than usual, as if the words are being pulled out of her) This isn't about Jodie. It's about me. Ever since I came back from the art colony, I've been hoping our friendship could go back to the way it was before. But it doesn't seem to be working that way. We used to know everything that was going on in each other's lives, but now I can't bear to talk to you about Tom, so you're talking to Jodie about him, and even beginning to be more like her with the tutoring and other stuff.

DARIA: (quietly) Talking to Jodie about Tom was your idea, remember?

Jane turns her head back towards her sculpture, so that Daria can't see her face. Neither can we. Jane begins to work on the sculpture, but her motions seem half-hearted, not her usual confident attack.

JANE: (still slowly, with increased emotion) I know, and I'm glad you have her to talk to. But that doesn't make it hurt any less that it isn't me.

DARIA: (with concern that we've seldom heard in her voice) You're still my best friend. Nothing could change that.

Jane nods her head without speaking. Daria kneels down by her, and puts her arm around Jane's shoulder. Both are facing away from the camera now, and we're looking slightly down at them.

DARIA: Jane, I understand why you don't want to listen to me talk about Tom. I don't blame you, and it doesn't change my opinion of you. I'm glad I have Jodie to talk to also, but as much as I like Jodie, I'll never have the same relationship with her that I do with you. I can't go back to being who I was last spring, even if I wanted to, and I don't. But I'm still me. (beat) So, just us Friday?

Jane stops working on the sculpture. Both are quiet for a few seconds.

JANE: (speaking more confidently, although still with emotion in her voice) No, invite Jodie. I could use another friend too.

Establishing shot: Exterior. Lawndale Mall - Friday Night.

Interior. Clothing Store.

The Fashion Club (Sandi, Quinn, Stacy and Tiffany) is browsing through racks of clothing.

SANDI: So, Stacy, what was so important last night that you couldn't make the pre-sale planning session?

Stacy gets a panicked look, glances from Sandi to Quinn, and back. Sandi doesn't appear to notice.

STACY: (speaking quickly) I had to work on my English paper for Mr. O'Neill. I didn't know we were having a meeting until... until after I'd told my mom I was working on it. She wouldn't let me leave after that.

Sandi seems skeptical, but not enough to challenge her.

SANDI: Well, it's okay this time, but don't make a habit of it. We need you to take minutes at our meetings. That's what being Secretary is all about.

STACY: (conciliatory) Yes, Sandi. But I need to pass this class, or I'm going to be held back.

SANDI: That's fine, but don't let it interfere with your fashion club duties. Or we'll need to reconsider if you ought to be a member at all.

Stacy looks terrified, but doesn't speak. Quinn looks surprised. Tiffany looks at clothes.

TIFFANY: (Holding up a blouse) Does this make me look fat?


Interior. Jane's Room - Same evening.

Daria, Jane and Jodie are sitting cross-legged on Jane's bed, with a half-eaten pizza beside them. The TV/VCR has been moved to where Jane usually works on her art, so the three can sit on the side of the bed and watch. Crashing sounds come from the TV. The camera looks over the top of the TV at the three in a wide shot. Daria grabs the remote, and presses a button, the TV sound cuts off.

DARIA: I'm thirsty, anything to drink downstairs?

JANE: I think the band left some soda in the fridge this morning. Shall we brave the pink slime?

JODIE: Pink slime? (to Daria) Is your sister here?

A faint smile crosses Daria's face, a larger one lights up Jane's.

DARIA: No, Jane's kitchen is an adventure all on it's own.

JANE: Hey, at least I have something to drink this week!

Jodie stands up.

JODIE: Well, onward into the unknown.

Interior. Lane Kitchen.

The three sit around the kitchen table, with glasses of soda.

JODIE: (trying to be polite) You have an interesting house.

JANE: It's squalor, but I like it.

JODIE: No, it's not squalor, it's lived in. In my house, the furniture is all spotless and at perfect right angles, and there's a maid who comes once a week to keep it that way. I feel like I live in a furniture showroom. This feels real. Thanks for inviting me over.

JANE: (with a grin) Flattery will get you nowhere, but don't stop. (to Daria) Why haven't we invited Jodie over before?

DARIA: Because we thought she wouldn't want to hang out with a couple of slackers?

JODIE: Well, I'm glad you invited me this time. Do it again sometime.

JANE: Got any plans for next Friday?

JODIE: I do now.

Interior. Daria's Room - Saturday.

Daria is lying on her bed, fully dressed, reading. The camera looks down from directly above her. The phone rings. She ignores it. It rings again.

DARIA: Quinn! Phone!

The phone rings two more times. Daria grimaces as she puts down her book, and picks up the phone.

DARIA: Quinn's answering service.

Split screen: showing Daria in close-up on the left, and a medium shot of Tom sitting on his couch on the other half.

TOM: Hey Daria, it's me.

Daria looks surprised.

TOM: Daria, are you still there?

DARIA: Yeah.

TOM: Are we on for tonight?

DARIA: (slightly irritated) I don't know, are we? I'd expected to hear from you before this.

TOM: Yeah, I should have called earlier. I had to think about what you said. I still don't believe I did anything wrong, but I can see why you would be upset. I'm sorry for the way it happened, but I'm not sorry for the results. Can you accept that?

DARIA: Yeah. I just wanted you to know how I felt. Not telling you made me feel like a hypocrite.

TOM: (with a slight smile) And I know how you feel about those...

DARIA: Yeah.

TOM: Ok, pick you up at seven?

DARIA: Seven it is. See you then. Bye.

TOM: Bye.

Tom hangs up, and the shot returns to a close up of Daria, with a slight smile on her face.

Interior. Classroom - Monday.

Mr. O'Neill is handling papers back to the class, who sit in the same locations as last time (Quinn and Sandi behind Stacy and Tiffany). As he hands Sandi her paper, we see a "C" on it. She quickly hides the paper in her notebook, and looks over at Quinn's paper, seeing the "B", suddenly her head jerks forward, as she sees a "C+" on Stacy's paper.

Cut to: close up of Sandi's face.

Her wide-eyed look of surprise changes to anger, then she gradually forces a calmer look. Return to a wide view of the four.

SANDI: So, Stacy, how did you do?

STACY: Eep! (quickly puts her paper in her notebook) Oh, okay.

SANDI: That's good. I'm glad you weren't shirking your fashion club duties last week for nothing.

STACY: (flustered) D... D... Duties? W... W... What duties Sandi? I didn't miss the sale!

SANDI: I'm talking about the pre-sale planning session on Thursday that you couldn't attend.

QUINN: (speaking quickly) But that wasn't a formal meeting, and Stacy told you she had to study and you said it was okay!

SANDI: I said it was okay, but it's still shirking her duties as secretary to miss a meeting, formal or informal. (to Stacy) You have to be sure you have your priorities clear.

Interior. School Hallway.

Daria and Jane are standing by their lockers.

JANE: Want to come over tonight?

DARIA: I can't. I have two papers to finish this week, and some more reading to do if I want to be ready for work Wednesday, and I'm tutoring Stacy again tomorrow and Thursday night, so I need to do most of it tonight.

JANE: (disappointed) You really are turning into Jodie.

DARIA: (unhappy) Yeah. (beat) Wednesday night's still free. I'll need a break by then. Want to do a "bad movie night" double feature?

JANE: On a school night? Helen will kill you if you get home that late!

DARIA: Her current case has her coming home late and dropping into bed like a rock. I haven't seen her since Thursday. Dad might notice, but I can deal with him.

JANE: In that case, Wednesday night sounds great. Should we invite Jodie?

DARIA: Jodie's busy Wednesdays, that's her volunteer night. Could you get the movies? I'm not going to have much time after work.

JANE: Okay, but you have to live with my selections.

DARIA: I reserve the right to kill you if you rent the Spice Girls movie.

JANE: That's fair. If I'm that far gone, have some compassion and make it quick.

DARIA: Deal.

Interlude II (a video montage with music):

Daria shakes Ben's hand.

Jodie and Daria chat in the cafeteria.

Daria and Tom talk on the phone.

Sandi speaks to a panicked Stacy.

Commercial Break


Interior. Jane's Room - Wednesday Night.

Jane and Daria are sitting cross-legged on the bed, watching the television at the foot of the bed. An empty bowl of popcorn sits between them, along with a stack of two videotape boxes. A couple of pillows are also lying on the bed. Dramatic instrumental music is playing.

Jane lifts the remote, and the music cuts off abruptly.

DARIA: Oh, that was bad.

JANE: (smiling) Yep. Aren't you sorry you let me get the movies now.

DARIA: Never again. What were you thinking?

JANE: Hey, I like Kevin Costner!

DARIA: I might like him too, if he's made any good movies. But if he has, Waterworld isn't one of them.

JANE: Well, the night wasn't a complete loss. You liked Tank Girl.

DARIA: I'll deny that if you ever tell anyone. (beat) But after this week, I needed some mindless fun. (she falls backwards to lie prone on the bed) And I've still got tomorrow to get through. Why did I ever agree to this?

JANE: That bad?

DARIA: Well, to give her credit, she's willing to work. And she is improving. She got a "C+" on last week's paper. But it's hard to teach someone when every little bit of criticism triggers a panic attack.

Daria sits up on the edge of the bed.

DARIA: I need to be getting home. Tomorrow night's going to be bad enough, without trying to get through it on five hours sleep.

JANE: You're welcome to crash in one of the unoccupied rooms. (beat) Or Trent's room, he's such a sound sleeper he'd never notice.

DARIA: (smiling, she lifts a pillow) For that, you die!

Daria hits Jane with the pillow. Jane overbalances, and falls off the far side of the bed with a crash.

JANE: (all we see of here is her feet, still on the bed) This means war!

Cut to: the hallway outside Jane's room.

We see the open door, but can't see inside. Trent is walking down the hall.

From inside Jane's room come the muffled "whaps" of pillow impacts, occasionally interrupted with crashes as the room takes collateral damage. Trent stops in the hall and looks through the door with a puzzled look on his face.

JANE: (off screen) Take that! (whap) ... and that! (whap) ... and... (loud crash)

Trent winces.

DARIA: (off screen) Jane? Are you okay?

JANE: (off screen, muffled) Yeah, I just tripped over my paints. Ugh!

DARIA: (off screen, amused) Oh Jane! (beat) Blue is not your color.

Trent smiles, and walks away down the hall.

Interior. School Women's Room - Thursday.

The fashion club is touching up their makeup, and monopolizing the sinks, preventing anyone else from using them. The camera looks past the girls towards the entrance. Various non-speaking characters wander in, look annoyed, and wander out during the scene.

TIFFANY: (slowly, with pauses for thought) I was at Junior Five... and Theresa said... there's a shipment of new clothing... arriving tomorrow... so they're having an unadvertised sale... for frequent shoppers.

STACY: Oh, wow! Two weeks in a row? That is SO wonderful!

SANDI: Yes, and we need to be better prepared this time. Brooke and Lisa beat us to the new items last week. If we let them do it again, we'll be giving up our role as fashion leaders. I'm calling an emergency strategy meeting for tonight. Quinn, it's your turn to host.

Quinn looks stricken, she glances at Stacy, then back to Sandi. It's apparent that Sandi caught the glance this time.

QUINN: Um... We can't meet at my house, Sandi, my parents have one of their therapy nights tonight. Do we really need a meeting? Couldn't we just decide now?

STACY: Uh, Sandi...

SANDI: (ignoring Stacy, she speaks in the overly polite voice she uses when feuding with Quinn) Are you saying I don't know when we need a meeting, Quinn? Perhaps you think you can plan our strategy without me?

STACY: Uh, Sandi...

QUINN: (also speaking over Stacy, in an equally polite voice) Oh no, Sandi, I would never think that! We need you. But you're here now, so why wait?

STACY: Uh, Sandi...

SANDI: (irritated, she snaps at Stacy) What IS IT Stacy?

STACY: (flinches from Sandi) Uh... my mother's making me stay home to work on my English paper again tonight. I can't come to the meeting.

SANDI: Stacy, if you're too good to associate with us, you could at least use an original excuse each time. Are you saying you no longer want to be a part of the fashion club? Is that it?

Stacy is speechless with panic, her mouth opens and closes, but no sound comes out.

QUINN: (normal voice) Sandi, that is SO unfair. Stacy needs to get her English grades up. Or we won't all be in the same class next year.

SANDI: (irritated, not pretending to be polite) Quinn, are you challenging me?

Quinn's eyes show her irritation, but she continues to speak in a normal voice.

QUINN: No, Sandi, but Stacy has a very good attendance record. (some emotion begins to show through) Just missing a few meetings isn't grounds to have her thrown out!

Sandi pauses, and looks at Quinn with a "this isn't over" look.

SANDI: Very well, I'll let it go this time. (to Stacy) But you need to do a better job of planning your homework times, and not promising your mother things in advance.

Exterior. Car - That evening.

Sandi is driving, with Tiffany beside her.

TIFFANY: (speaking slowly) Buut, didn't Quinn say she'd meet us at the Pizza place?

SANDI: Yes, and I want to know why she's trying to keep us away from her house. We'll give her a ride, and find out if her parents really are having a therapy night, or if she's up to something with Stacy.

TIFFANY: Oh. (puzzled look) But Stacy isn't coming tonight.

Sandi looks like she's about to say something, then thinks better of it.

Interior. Morgendorffer Living Room.

Throughout the scene the camera is located in the corner at the foot of the stairs, near the front door. It remains here, panning to cover the action, but the viewpoint is always a wide shot from this one location.

Daria and Stacy are studying at the coffee table tonight. Daria sits on one couch, facing the front door, and Stacy is on the other couch to her left, nearer the door. Quinn stands behind the couch looking over Stacy's shoulder.

QUINN: I'm off guys, have fun studying!

DARIA: (dryly) Oh yes, we'll be partying hard tonight.

STACY: (looks up from her book) Partying? But I need to study.

DARIA: I'm joking.

QUINN: Don't mind her Stacy, she's never serious, except about books.

STACY: (looks up at Daria) Yes, I think I'm getting used to it.

Daria looks blank.

The doorbell rings. Quinn looks to her left, towards the camera, with surprise. Daria looks up.

DARIA: Quinn, were you expecting anyone?

QUINN: (looks and sounds worried) No. I'll get it. Keep quiet.

Quinn goes to the door, and the camera pans to look out the door over her shoulder as she opens it. Quinn opens the door just enough to see Sandi and Tiffany on the front step. She holds the door so that they can't see Daria and Stacy.

QUINN: (speaking quietly) Guys! What are you doing here? We're supposed to meet at the Pizza place!

SANDI: Oh, well we thought you'd like a ride.

As Sandi speaks, she pushes past Quinn into the house. Quinn looks like she wants to stop Sandi, but isn't willing to lay hands on her to do so. Sandi sees Stacy, and looks triumphant; her suspicions have been confirmed. She heads over. Quinn looks very unhappy, and follows her, while Tiffany stops just inside the door. The camera pans to follow as Quinn walks over.

SANDI: (faux polite) Gee Stacy, this is a surprise. I thought you were working on your English paper. Instead, you're socializing with Quinn's unpopular cousin.

Stacy rises from the couch, dropping her book, and turns to face Sandi and the camera. She begins to breathe rapidly. Daria remains seated, watching the drama unfold. Quinn moves to the right, behind the couch, so she can face Sandi. Sandi's back is to the camera.

SANDI: (to Daria, not polite, working herself up to a tantrum) And you, Quinn's cousin, you're so unpopular you don't have any friends, so you need to steal mine and turn them into brains! First it was Quinn, now Stacy! I suppose you'll be taking Tiffany next?

Daria scowls, and leans forward as if she's about to stand up. But Stacy speaks first.

STACY: (still breathing hard, but now angry rather than panicked, she speaks quickly, her emotion almost outpacing her ability to speak) Leave her out of this! This isn't about her! She's tutoring me because I asked her to! Because I need her to, or I'm going to fail English! Haven't you been listening to anything I've said all week?

Startled, Sandi turns slightly, and switches her offensive to Quinn.

SANDI: Well, whatever the reason, Quinn's still been lying to us! Undercutting my leadership! As if she could be a better president than me!

Quinn looks angry, like she's finally had enough of Sandi's paranoia, and starts to speak, but Stacy's still going strong and overruns whatever she might have said. In the background, Daria smiles and sits back.

STACY: (yelling) You? It's always about you, isn't it? The rest of us don't really exist to you, do we? We're just "Sandi's followers"? You don't care what we want! Just what you think we should want!

Sandi's face, turned towards Quinn, goes blank with shock, and she turns back to face Stacy. Now we only see the back of Sandi's head.

SANDI: (defensive and upset, real emotion, not her usual facade) Stacy! That's not true! Everything I do for the fashion club is for all of us! To keep us number one! How can you say I don't care?

STACY: (still yelling) If you care, then why doesn't my failing English matter? What you care about is that you're number one! No matter what it does to the rest of us!

SANDI: (choked voice) No! I... No!

STACY: (no longer yelling, but still angry and speaking sharply) Well, I've had enough! I only stayed this long because of Quinn and Tiffany! You and I used to be friends, but I don't know you anymore! I don't like who you've turned into! It's over! I'm quitting the fashion club, and you can just go to hell! I never want to see you again, now get out of here and let me finish my English paper!

Sandi crumbles. She doesn't speak, but turns and bolts out the door past Tiffany. As she passes the camera, tears can be seen in her eyes. A door slams outside, and her car is heard speeding off.

Stacy stands in front of the couch and looks towards the door, panting as if she'd just finished a long-distance run. She brings her hands up to her mouth, as if to restrain her breath, or to take back the words she just said.

Tiffany walks slowly over to Stacy, and puts her arms around her, drawing her into a hug. Stacy leans into Tiffany's shoulder, and begins to sob quietly.

Quinn sits down sideways on the back of the couch, she too looks drained. She looks over at Tiffany and Stacy, and Tiffany looks back. Quinn seems to brace herself for the usual clueless comment.

TIFFANY: (speaking to Quinn in a normal voice, not slowly) I always thought you'd be the one to tell off Sandi, but Stacy did it. (to Stacy, gently) That was so brave!

Quinn is definitely surprised, but too emotionally drained to react, she just looks blankly at Tiffany.

QUINN: Tiffany... your voice... what?

TIFFANY: What, surprised I'm not acting like an idiot? I used to talk like this all the time, until you and Sandi started fighting over who was top dog, and Sandi started attacking Stacy every time she said anything. You're so self-absorbed you never even noticed the change.

STACY: (pulls back from Tiffany and looks up at her) But why?

TIFFANY: Because without the club, I'd have no friends. I'm not Sandi's childhood friend like you. If I did anything at all, she'd have thrown me out without a second thought. So I did nothing.

STACY: (quiet voice) That's terrible.

TIFFANY: It wasn't that bad. I got to go shopping with you guys, and I had no end of fun thinking up different ways to tweak you, like asking if things made me look fat. You always took me so seriously! (she looks over at Quinn) So, the three of us can still go to the sale tomorrow, without being a club, can't we? We're still friends?

Stacy smiles broadly and hugs Tiffany again. Quinn, although still subdued, hesitantly smiles. Still sitting on the back of the couch, she swings her legs over to the front, and steps forward to stand next to the two of them (although she doesn't join the hug).

QUINN: Of course we're still friends, and we don't need to be a club for the three of us to go shopping together.

STACY: Should we invite your sister? If she hadn't helped me, none of this would have happened.

TIFFANY: Yeah! Let's invite Daria!

Quinn looks surprised. In the background, Daria looks even more surprised.

STACY: What? You didn't think you were fooling anyone with that "cousin" nonsense, did you? (imitates Sandi's voice) Gee Quinn, who'd fall for that?

Interior. Jane's Room - Friday Night.

Daria, Jodie and Jane are sitting on the bed, watching the TV in the same position as last week (we see them, not the screen). Music plays as the movie ends. Jane picks up the remote and turns off the set.

JODIE: That was... different. (beat) But good.

DARIA: I can't believe you hadn't seen Heathers.

JODIE: Are you kidding? If my parents knew this movie existed, they'd certainly never let me rent it. It might stunt my social development or something.

JANE: Well, we can't have that.

JODIE: Too late, you've irretrievably corrupted me.

JANE: And the forces of good triumph once again.

DARIA: Are you referring to Jodie, the movie, or to the shootout at the Morgendorffer corral last night?

JANE: What, I have to choose? Why can't I be talking about all of them? I'm efficient. (beat) And speaking of the shootout, how could you destroy the fashion club and not invite me?

DARIA: I didn't destroy it. Sandi did it to herself. It's a textbook example of hubris; she took the peasants for granted, and they burned her palace down. Hmm. (pulls a notebook out of her pocket and writes a few words) I think I could use that...

JANE: Well, I hate to say it, but you were right.

DARIA: Could you say that again, after I get a tape recorder?

JANE: Don't push it, Morgendorffer.

DARIA: Well, at least I have Jodie as a witness. What was I right about, anyway?

JANE: Stacy. You believed in her. I didn't.

DARIA: The mouse certainly roared. I really didn't think she had it in her. I almost feel sorry for Sandi.

JANE: Going to tutor her next?

DARIA: Not in a million years. I said "almost". She deserved exactly what she got.

JODIE: I'm not sure even Sandi deserved that.

DARIA: You haven't watched her bully the other three for the last two years the way I have. She deserved it. I am sorry for Quinn though, I think she really likes Sandi despite everything.

JODIE: So, what's Quinn going to do without the fashion club?

DARIA: Oh, she seems a bit depressed, but nothing's really changed. She's off at a clothing sale with Stacy and Tiffany tonight. Sandi's the only loser. (beat) If you can call going to a clothing sale "winning." They even invited me. (Daria shudders)

JANE: On to more pleasant things: I don't see you reading nerd-books this week, how's the job going?

DARIA: Well, it's still interesting, but I think I'm over the initial excitement.

JANE: Good. I'm not sure I can take too much excitement. I'm still finding broken stuff from Wednesday night.

JODIE: Wednesday night? What did I miss?

Daria and Jane look panicked, briefly. Neither wants to admit to something as frivolous as a pillow fight.

JANE: A "bad movie night". Our cinematic criticism turned ugly.

DARIA: Well, if you picked up more often there'd be less to break.

JANE: (mock serious) But I'd never be able to find anything! (normal voice) So, why the fading interest? I thought you enjoyed learning new things.

DARIA: I do. I'm learning a lot, but it's all lifeless. When I read literature, I learn something about how people feel and think. When I read a technical book, I just learn about how a machine works. It's interesting, but the satisfaction of helping Stacy get a "C+" this week really overshadows it.

JODIE: (incredulous) Are you telling us you'd rather work with people than machines?

JANE: What kind of evil brainwashing have they been doing to you?

DARIA: I don't know. But I think I like it. (she smiles)

The camera freezes on Daria's face, and the credits roll.

Alter Egos displayed with the credits:

Daria as the repairman from the movie Brazil.

Stacy as an angry peasant, waving a torch.

Sandi as a western gunfighter.

A pool of pink slime with Quinn's face.

Tiffany in a lab coat, with glasses and a clipboard.

Authors Notes:

There you have it, my first serious "character development" Daria episode (maybe "TV Movie" would be a better term, it's a bit long for an episode). I tried to carry some of the fourth season themes forward in a logical progression. In particular, Daria's increasing acceptance of other people, her friendship with Jodie, and the effects of Quinn's newfound scholasticism. Let me know how it worked, or didn't.

I've wondered why Quinn put up with Sandi's bullying all these years. It could simply be a fear of being nothing without the structure of the fashion club, but I don't think Quinn's really that shallow. Conversely, Sandi, who is often depicted as being power-hungry, I can easily see as basically insecure, and needing the club and her dominance of the others simply to define herself. It's not having the power that matters to her, it's being respected because she has it that does. That's why Stacy's outburst is so devastating to her. The idea of Stacy, rather than Quinn, being the one who finally brought things to the breaking point just appealed to me. If you push people to their limits, sometimes they break in ways other than you'd expect.

Tiffany has been simply a comic foil for the others recently, but at the beginning of the series she seemed reasonably intelligent (for a fashion club zombie). I thought that having her be in the same situation as Stacy, afraid to show any individuality but taking it in another direction, just made sense.

Sandi. Poor Sandi. I feel sorry for her. Even villains often think they're doing things for good reasons. But that doesn't change how she's treated the others, although to be fair she's treated them better than Quinn treats the three J's. As Daria said, she got what she deserved. Now she has to live with the consequences, at least until my next story...

"The mouse certainly roared", is my one (and probably only, ever) literary reference. Despite the fact that Daria episodes often have one, I'm not sufficiently well read to do these as a usual event. It's a reference to Leonard Wibberley's 1954 farcical satire, The Mouse that Roared, about a small alpine duchy that declares war on the United States. It was also made into a movie starring Peter Sellers. I saw the movie in junior high, and read the books in college. Somehow, the confrontation between Sandi and Stacy made me think of it. There was a sequel, The Mouse on the Moon, about the space race. Read them both, you won't regret it.

"Twenty-eight different flavors" was the slogan of the Howard Johnson's restaurant/hotel chain (which had it's start in a depression-era ice-cream franchise) for many years, although the company dropped it to focus on being a hotel chain sometime in the seventies. It's unlikely that Daria would know the slogan, given her age, although it is something of a cultural icon (Mel Brooks parodied it in Blazing Saddles, with the old-west Howard Johnson's with "one flavor"). The actual slogan could have been phrased differently; the corporate history online doesn't give speciific wording, and my memory is from seeing a sign in childhood, so it's a bit suspect.