Disclaimer: Daria and associated characters are owned by MTV. This is fan fiction written for entertainment only. No money or other negotiable currency or goods have been exchanged.
This is the Sixth First Summer story and occurs during the summer between seasons 2 and 3.
It's Not All Bad
(Precious Tikes Day Care Center. Quinn has her hair pulled back into a bun that's held in place by a scrunchie. She looks to be on her last nerve. She's carrying a crying baby in one arm and is holding the hand of a toddler with the other, coaxing her across a room crowded with playing children)
Denise - I don't wanna!
Quinn - Yes, you do. You want to be a big girl, right Denise?
Denise - No!
Quinn - Oh, sure you do.
Denise - No!
Quinn - Well, then, I want you to.
Denise - So?
(The crying baby screams loudly into Quinn's ear)
Quinn (soothing, to baby) - Shh. Shh. It's okay.
(They reach the bathroom and Quinn releases Denise's hand to open the door)
Quinn - Here we are.
Denise - No! I'll fall in!
Quinn - No, you won't.
Denise - Promise?
Quinn - I promise.
(Denise goes into the bathroom and closes the door. The baby is a little quieter and Quinn leans against the wall to relax)
Quinn - Ahh.
Susie (VO) - Miss Morgendorffer! Calvin's hitting me!
(Quinn wearily stands straight and looks over to where a blond-haired boy is wrestling with a stuffed tiger and occasionally hitting a brunette girl with it)
Quinn - Calvin! Leave Susie alone!
Calvin - What!? I'm trying to hold Hobbes back!
Quinn - Don't make me call Animal Control, or they'll take him to the pound.
(Calvin protectively wraps his arms around the stuffed animal)
Calvin - The pound? (he whispers to the stuffed animal) You better behave.
(Quinn goes back to the bathroom door)
Quinn - Are you all right in there?
(The sound of a splash comes from the bathroom)
(Morgendorffer kitchen. Jake, Quinn and Daria are seated at the table reading as Helen brings over a tray of lasagna and serves it. Quinn sets her magazine down)
Quinn - Mom, is there any way I can sue the parents of some of those brats?
Daria - Are they sending those poor kids to daycare with last month's fashions again? Call Family Services.
Quinn - Ha-ha.
Helen - Why would you want to sue them?
Quinn - Gawd, some of them are little monsters.
Helen - Unless a child is doing something legally wrong, you can't sue the parents just because the child does something you don't agree with. (under her breath) Thank God.
Quinn - But some of them are spoiled little brats.
Daria - Not like anyone else we know.
(Helen raises one eyebrow and glances at Daria)
Helen - Or any two?
Daria - I stepped right into that one, didn't I?
Helen - That's what we in the legal profession call "a gift horse."
Daria - Speaking of which, you still owe me a pony.
(Jane's bedroom. She and Daria are seated on the bed, watching television. There is an image of patties frying on a flat griddle, followed by someone with a large net sweeping up a swarm of small flies along a lakeshore)
SSW Announcer - No beef for your burgers? No problem! Kungu cakes: the ground-insect alternative! Next, on Sick, Sad World!
Jane - I don't think even Jesse would eat that.
Daria - But, that might be what's in the meatloaf at the Lawndale High cafeteria.
Jane (shakes head) - Can't be. Those things probably have nutritional value. The meatloaf's never been accused of that.
Daria - Hmm, good point.
Jane - So, how's the "constructive summer activity" going?
Daria - Fairly slow. Ms. Levin's been tied up working with my mother on a big corporate merger and I've just had a few small background searches to do. Spending half my time lately just 'Net surfing.
Jane - So Quinn's on the losing end of the deal this summer?
Daria - Oh, yeah. I have a feeling that this summer is going to be a foolproof, long-term contraceptive for her.
(Trent opens the door)
Trent - Jane, we got any munchies in the house? Oh, hey Daria.
Daria - Um, hi Trent.
Jane - You vacuum cleaners ate it all yesterday.
Trent - Ah, man. You want to run out to get some?
(Jane picks up an empty Cluster Burger bag)
Jane - Sorry, Daria paid off a bet and brought food over for me tonight. (she grins at Daria) Next time, I'll try double or nothing so she can feed you, too.
Trent - Cool, thanks Daria.
Daria - Um, yeah, sure.
Trent - Later.
Jane - So, what can we bet on now? Whether you'll need contraceptives?
Daria - Maybe, how far you'll fly when I throw you out the window?
(Julie Levin's public relations office. Daria is at her workstation, viewing the Sick, Sad World website and filling out an online form for story ideas, typing, "Is it possible to have a negative IQ? The Hideous Horrors of Highland!")
Daria (VO) - Those two should've been on the premier episode.
(Julie enters and sees Daria's monitor. She puts a hand over her mouth to hide a chuckle before speaking)
Julie - Daria.
Daria (slightly embarrassed) - Hi, Ms. Levin.
Julie - Relax, I didn't see a thing.
(Julie intentionally turns her back to allow Daria time to close the browser)
Daria - What's up?
Julie - I have an assignment for you. We picked up a new client that's been hit with a strategic lawsuit. I need some good background research on both the client and the plaintiff.
Daria - It'll give me something to do.
Julie - And give you a chance to put your fertile mind to good use. I'm still working closely with Helen on the Top Consumer/Short Circuit merger, so you'll have to do more than research on this one. But don't worry; I'll still keep you away from the cameras.
Daria - And there was much rejoicing.
(Julie places a folder on Daria's desk and opens it)
Julie - You might actually like this case. It's local, and looks like a David and Goliath situation.
Daria - So, are we going to be pounded into the ground by a giant or have rocks bounced off our heads?
Julie (laughs) - Pounded into the ground. Well, they'll try.
Daria (under breath) - Maybe I should borrow a helmet.
(Daria's bedroom. She's lying flat on the bed and staring at the ceiling)
Daria - One more little company to try and make look good. Yeah, Mom, I've really been out seeing the best side of people.
(Quinn knocks at the door)
Daria - Please have your ticket and passport ready before boarding.
(Quinn enters, looks around and fights back a sigh)
Daria - My room still not up to your standards of grace and beauty?
Quinn - Uh, well, I wouldn't want to live here.
Daria - You don't live here, so what do you want?
Quinn - Daria, do you want to trade summer jobs?
(Daria sits up)
Daria - Now why would I want to do that?
Quinn - Because you hate doing public relations, and I know I'd be so good at it.
Daria - You want me to watch a bunch of screaming, leaking kids? No thanks.
Quinn - Please?
Daria - No. One night of babysitting with the Guptys was bad enough. I can't imagine a roomful of them for the rest of the summer. Just the thought gives me nightmares.
Quinn - They're not all bad. I think you'd like Susie. She reminds me of you at that age.
Daria - Still not interested. Besides, I don't think we'd ever get the switch past Mom. She'd kind of notice if you started showing up down the hall from her office instead of me.
Quinn - Oh, yeah.
Daria - Besides, we all know how much you like doing library research, which is what I'm doing now.
Quinn - You mean like for a school report?
Daria - Exactly like a school report.
Quinn - Ewwww, gross! You win. I don't want to trade with you.
(Daria softly smiles)
(Pizza place. Daria and Jane are at a booth sharing a pie)
Daria - Superday Greeting Cards is suing them for a copyright infringement. But at the same time, they made a "friendly" buyout offer to them. Ms. Levin is neck-deep in another case, so I'm stuck with handling most of the public relations for this one by myself. They don't pay me enough.
Jane - I thought they didn't pay you.
Daria - Like I said.
Jane (hopeful) - It says something that they trust you with it?
Daria - But are too cheap to pay me.
Jane - What did you say the company's name was again?
Daria - Alverson Printing.
Jane - You know, they've been around for a long time, and they used to do more than wedding invitations and custom greeting cards.
Daria - Oh?
Jane - I think my folks still have some old protest booklets they printed up.
Daria - Hmm. So they may have been socially responsible in the past. (shrugs) That's something to start with.
Jane - Hey, at least it beats watching oil paint dry.
Daria - Are you still grumbling about that?
Jane - Sheesh, the stuff takes forever. The wait is hell on the creative spirit.
Daria - Well, I'm sure you'll learn to endure. Many great artists overcame that glaring flaw in the medium.
Jane - Well, yeah, but that's because they do silly things like plan their works.
Daria - Imagine that.
(Jane tosses a napkin at Daria)
Jane - Heathen.
(Alfred Joyce Kilmer Public Library. Daria is at a microfilm reader going through back issues of the Lawndale Sun-Herald)
Daria (yawns) - There's got to be something here somewhere.
(She scans through the rest of the reel and then replaces it with a fresh one, which she begins scanning quickly. This fades to a montage of Daria in various poses at the reader that ends with her sitting up straight)
Daria - This might be something. (reads and nods) Great, that's a start. Let's hope the printer is working right today.
(Daria presses a button on an adjacent control box. Moments later, a printer attached to the film reader and a microfiche reader sputters and starts)
Daria - Someone must've made an offering to the printer gods today.
(Second montage of Daria going through microfilms and microfiches, with occasional printing. Finally she takes the stack of printouts to the front desk. A petite elderly lady with a thin crown of white hair and gold-framed glasses waits behind the desk)
Mrs. Barrington - Good afternoon, Daria. Find what you were looking for?
(Daria places the printouts on the desk and digs some change from her jacket pocket, counting it out and putting it on the pages)
Daria - I think so. Seventeen copies. I'll need a receipt; it's for my internship.
(Mrs. Barrington counts the money and puts it into a small cash drawer)
Mrs. Barrington - Eight-five cents. Just a moment.
(She fills out a receipt by hand and gives it to Daria)
Mrs. Barrington - There you are. (she notices the pages) Oh, some of the old Alverson Printing ads. Would you like to see some of their old booklets?
(Daria's eyes widen in slight surprise)
Daria - You have some?
Mrs. Barrington - Of course, silly. What kind of local library would we be if we didn't carry copies of things printed locally?
Daria - About average?
Mrs. Barrington (chuckles) - You're probably right. Follow me. They're right over here.
(Julie Levin's office. There is a stack of small pamphlets and booklets on the work surface of Daria's desk, along with the printed copies. She's reading one of the pamphlets)
Daria - Poetry, short stories, political tracts...these guys would print anything back then. If you paid them enough.
(She puts the pamphlet down and picks up a small book. After reading a couple pages, she wrinkles her nose and puts it back down)
Daria - No wonder some of these had to pay to publish.
(Julie enters and looks at the stack on Daria's desk)
Julie - Turn you loose in a library and heaven only knows what you'll bring back.
Daria - It helps to know the librarian.
Julie - How did you check so many books out?
Daria - Like I said, it helps to know the librarian. I take care of books and I get a little extra leeway on how many I can check out.
Julie - Find anything good?
Daria - Alverson has a long local history going back to the fifties and good local relations.
Julie - We can use that.
Daria - I found one thing I think Mr. Horowitz will want. The Easter Bunny design they're being sued over appears in a newspaper ad from Seventy-four.
Julie - That should help. Although we know the suit is a sham that Superday will lose. They want to lose so that they can appeal and drag out the process. The longer Alverson fights, the more of a financial drain it will be and the more likely they'll accept the buyout. That's why a strong PR campaign is needed to get Superday to back off before things go too far.
Daria - I'm a little confused. You want to end the suit early to keep Alverson from paying too many lawyer's fees?
Julie (smiles) - Enlightened self-interest. It's bad for business to charge a client into bankruptcy, and good for business to keep a small company afloat against a larger one.
Daria - So what I'm doing is pretty important.
Julie - I'd be outsourcing this if I didn't have you to rely on.
Daria - Um, thanks. I think.
Julie - I know you've been bothered by some of the...gray areas we've had to work in. You'll appreciate that this one isn't that hazy. You can do some good and quietly keep in the background, like you prefer.
Daria - Damn, you're awfully perceptive.
Julie - I'm good at reading people. Rather convenient in my line of work.
(Daria digs through some computer printouts and holds up a couple of printed web pages)
Daria - Didn't take long to find out that Superday has used the same tactic before to buy up small card shops and replace them with one of their outlets.
Julie - Looks like you have a handle on things. I'll need to have a good press release in my hands by Thursday for editing, so I can get it out on Friday. (grins) Let Superday stew over the weekend.
(Julie goes to her desk. Daria goes back to studying the printed material with an understated smile)
(Morgendorffer living room. Daria's sitting on a sofa and has the coffee table covered with reference materials. She writes in a notebook, thinks, and sets it down. After a quick search, she picks up a copy of a newspaper article and reads. Jake approaches the sofa from the front door. Over the sofa back, he can only see the top of Daria's head and the paper-covered coffee table beyond. Light from a window glaring on Daria's hair makes it appear lighter and more like Helen's)
Jake (whispers and grins) - Helen, I've got you this time.
(He sneaks up and leans over to nibble "Helen's" neck)
Jake - Honey, do you think...Gah!
(Daria recoils from Jake and he stumbles away in confusion)
Daria - Ahh!
Jake - I...I...thought you were Helen.
Daria - I should hope you didn't think it was me.
Jake - Nobody but Helen would cover the table with...Oh no!
Daria - Oh, no...what?
Jake (agitated) - Aw, man. I thought they were urban legends.
Daria - What are you talking about?
Jake - Acid flashbacks! I must be having one!
Daria - Dad, admittedly, me covering the table with work is rather odd, but you're not having an acid flashback.
Jake (panicked) - How can you be so certain?!
Daria - Wouldn't having a flashback mean that you've tried acid? You never did that, did you?
Jake - Oh! Oh, um, yeah, that's right. Never tried acid. Nope, not a chance. Never let anyone talk you into it, Daria. Even if they promise...never mind.
Daria - I'll make certain.
Jake - Good. So, uh, Daria, what are you doing?
Daria (slightly uncomfortable) - I...well, brought some work home from the office.
(Jake's eyes widen)
Daria - Dad, it's okay. Only a temporary aberration and things will be back to normal soon.
Jake - Are you sure?
Daria - Trust me, I'll never bring work home and spread it on the table again.
(Corridor of law firm. Daria is waiting as a small group of reporters file out of the conference room and exit. Julie is the last to leave and joins Daria)
Julie - You can be a rabble-rouser when you want to. That press release has the reporters hungry for more on the story.
Daria - Are you certain it's that and not that they're all heading for lunch now?
Julie - Trust me, I've watched reporters circling an all-you-can-eat buffet and circling a story. This is the latter.
Daria - Speaking of lunch, Mom's in one of her bonding moods.
Julie - Say no more. I'll see you when you're released. And again, thanks. That was a good press release you wrote. Are you certain you don't...
Daria - I have a reputation to uphold.
Julie (smirks) - That's right. And we all know how important reputation is for a teen.
Daria - Thank you for respecting that.
(Small restaurant. Daria and Helen are seated at a table for two. Helen is eating a salad and Daria has a large burger)
Helen - Julie says that she's impressed with your writing. I'm proud of you.
Daria - It has been a challenge to keep the sarcasm under control. Unlike what I normally write for Mr. O'Neill.
Helen - See? You've learned something. Aren't you glad you've had this experience?
Daria - I'd still rather spend the summer vegging in front of the TV with Jane.
Helen - Oh, Daria. I know you couldn't keep it up all summer. You'd eventually write something and Jane would start painting. But, I know you'd give the loafing your best shot.
Daria - What can I say? We're compulsive creators.
Helen - And pizza addicts.
Daria - Everything in life goes better with pizza.
(Helen looks down at her salad and sighs)
Helen - Enjoy it while you can.
(Morgendorffer kitchen. Daria and Jake are reading the newspaper. Daria has the local news section instead of her usual arts section. Their faces remain hidden behind the papers as they talk)
Jake - Up a little early today, eh Kiddo?
Daria - Or stayed up all night.
Jake - I remember staying up all night...standing guard duty at military school. Like anyone would want to break into that place!
Daria - Dad...
Jake - Lousy, stinking...!
Daria - Dad, could you drive me some place today?
Jake - What? Sure kiddo! Um, it's not that far, is it?
Daria - No.
Jake - Okay!
Daria - Thanks.
(Alverson Printing. It is a Main Street storefront that looks like the lettering was done in the 50's and then touched up as needed. Daria and Jake walk along the sidewalk to the entrance)
Jake - Here?
Daria - This is it.
(Jake looks perplexed as they enter. The interior is mostly functional, with numerous printed samples on display along the walls and counter. These include greeting cards, invitations, thank-you cards, business cards and restaurant menus. A fortyish man with receding hair is behind the counter talking with a customer and several others mill around)
Jake - Daria, are you sure?
Daria - Yes, Dad. I just wanted to look around.
Customer 1 (to shopkeeper) - I couldn't believe it when I read the paper this morning. You can buy their crap at the mall or Food Lord. It's not like you're keeping them from selling.
Shopkeeper - Classic business trick to get a local monopoly.
Customer 1 - I won't buy anything from them.
Shopkeeper - Thanks. I hope enough people feel that way to make a difference.
Customer 1 - You know, that newspaper article had an e-mail address to send comments to. Think that will help?
Shopkeeper - It wouldn't hurt. From what I've been told, the TV stations also showed the e-mail when the stories ran last night.
Customer 1 - Great! Maybe that will get more people motivated.
Shopkeeper - We're going to try to fight them. My dad started this place and I want to keep it going. A print shop that only gives you a selection of canned designs you add text to doesn't deserve the name "custom printing."
(A second customer joins them)
Customer 2 - Like using my daughter's drawing on her wedding invitations. We got a lot of good comments from that. I'm going to call a bunch of the guests about what those slimeballs are doing.
Shopkeeper - Thank you.
Customer 2 - How did the paper and the TV stations find out about what was going on?
Shopkeeper - I did something I never thought I'd do. I hired a lawyer and they contacted the press.
(Daria selects a box of blank greeting cards that feature an embossed image of Diogenes on the front. She goes to the counter and places the box on the counter)
Daria - Excuse me.
Shopkeeper - Yes, ma'am. Will that be all for you today?
Daria - This is it.
Shopkeeper - Very good. That's one of my favorite designs. (rings up sale on cash register) Eight dollars and fifty-six cents, please.
(Daria hands over the cash and the shopkeeper bags the card box, places the receipt in the bag and hands Daria the bag and change)
Shopkeeper - Have a nice day.
Daria - Thanks. I think I will, now.
(Precious Tikes Day Care Center. Tired, Quinn rests on a low chair with her head resting on the wall behind. The nearby bathroom door opens and Denise exits)
Denise - All done.
Quinn (eyes closed) - Great.
Denise - All by myself. (she hugs Quinn) Thanks, Miss Morgendorffer!
(Quinn opens her eyes, smiles and returns the hug)
(Julie Levin's office. She and Daria are working at their respective desks when Eric enters)
Eric - Julie, congratulations!
Julie - About what?
Eric - Superday Greeting Cards dropped their suit against Alverson Printing. That was one great PR punch you hit 'em with.
Julie - Thank you, Eric. But...
(Daria discreetly shakes her head "no")
Eric - No "buts" about it. You did a great job. Alverson Printing picked up a lot of new business and it looks like we might, too. Word on the street is that we look out for the little guy. You can't buy good press like that...you have to earn it! Anyway, gotta run.
(Eric exits. Julie folds her arms and looks across the room at Daria)
Julie - That was mostly your work. I know you didn't want recognition, but with how well it turned out, I don't understand why. It has to be something more than retaining an aloof reputation.
Daria - This whole internship was Mom's idea. If she found out about how much of the project was my work, she'd try to nudge me into PR or something practical like that. No offense, Ms. Levin, but I'm not ready to commit to something yet. I want to write. Stories, novels, whatever. I might not sell any and have to find other work. I'll face that later. For now, I want to hold onto my dreams.
(Pizza place. Daria and Jane are at a booth with a slice each)
Jane - So your transition to the dark side is complete.
Daria - No, that will only happen if I become Jodie's apprentice.
Jane - Ah, but now I can tempt you. A word to Jodie and... (she smirks)
Daria - Who would believe you? Outside of "research assistance," my name doesn't appear anywhere on the project. Officially, it's all Julie's work.
Jane - You covered your tracks. (raises cup in toast) To clandestine good works.
Daria (she gently smiles) - Besides, when only a few know, it feels a little nicer.
Calvin and Hobbes are copyrighted by Bill Watterson. Happy twentieth birthday to my favorite six-year-old and his tiger.
Mrs. Barrington also appears in The Angst Guy's Forgotten But Not Gone.
Thanks to Louise Lobinske, Kristen Bealer, Ipswichfan and Mr. Orange for beta reading.