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Chapter 3-Arrival

(Scene is at the Appleton estate, a few hours earlier)

Darren came in from jogging, coming into the foyer after Elenor had let him in and giving him a towel, as their usual routine. While wiping his face, he was surprised to see his aunt Millie dressed in her nightgown and waiting nearby, smiling widely. Darren cocked a curious eyebrow.

DARREN: Hey, Aunt Millie, good morning. (Smirks:) You've got quite a "Cheshire Cat" smile there on your face. What's up?

MILLIE: (Walks up to Darren, hugs him tightly:) Oh, Darren, I have a wonderful surprise for you in the study! Go in there and find out what it is!

Darren frowned at his aunt, perplexed for a moment, then looked over at Elenor, who now had the same smile on her face.

ELENOR: She's right, Master Darren! You absolutely must see this to believe it!

DARREN: (Looks uneasily between the two:) Uhhh, sure, Aunt Millie, Elenor, okay. The study, you say? (Millie and Elenor nod eagerly, and Darren goes in that direction)

Darren paused for an instant at the doors to the study when he got to them, wondering briefly why his aunt and Elenor had seemed so happy. The looks on their faces concerned him for some reason he couldn't quite place. He shrugged off the thought, then opened the doors and walked into the study to see his "surprise".

In the middle of the huge, partially shadowed, and book-filled room, two large easy chairs, both located just within the inner edge of the shadowed part nearest the light, were turned away from Darren. He could see the tops of two heads, but couldn't quite tell who the people were. He narrowed his eyes, and walked up to the chairs slowly, not understanding why he was beginning to feel a sense of dread for some reason.

DARREN: (Unsure voice:) Hello--? My name's Darren Appleton. My aunt Millie told me something about a "surprise"? Do you two know what this all about, (pauses:) and who are you, for that matter?

VOICE: (From the right chair, male and eerily calm:) Indeed we do know what it's about, Darren, and we'll tell you who we are.

Slowly, both of the figures, the other one a female, rose out of their chairs, and came around them into the light. Darren turned pale with a horrified look when he saw their faces, backing up, and slowly shook his head in denial, struggling to keep his voice and breath under control, but failing miserably. It couldn't be them, it's impossible.

DARREN: M-Mom? D-Dad? N-No, it can't be! B-Both of you are dead! I-I--attended your funeral!

ARTHUR: (Gives a strange, cold smile:) Why, how can that be, Darren? Your mother and I are fine, as you can plainly see!

LUCILLE: (Ditto with the smile, holds her arms out:) Aren't you happy to see that we're here, son? Come over and give your mother a great, big hug! (Starts to walk towards him)

Darren couldn't believe his eyes. Both of his parents, here and alive! It was a miracle! How could that be? For a moment, stunned and delighted, Darren shoved the question into the back of his mind and decided not to care, going forward to embrace his mother, smiling and laughing, even finding himself about to cry in joy. It wasn't until he saw her face appear as a skull for a mere instant, did he stop, his eyes slowly narrowing in a horrible realization. He then developed a terrified look on his visage, and backed away frantically, wide-eyed.

DARREN: K-KEEP AWAY FROM ME! S-STAY B-BACK! (Turns away from them, tries to leave, frowns, confused, looks up and down the wall:) Wh-What happened to the door? Where did it go?! (Turns back quickly to them)

VOICE FROM THE SIDE: (In the shadows:) Now, is that any way to treat your mother, my boy? Why don't you want to lovingly go to her? (Male figure comes out into the light)

DARREN: (Really wide-eyed now:) UNCLE WILL?! B-But--

WILLIAM: (Same smile as the others:) --I'm "dead", too? (Gives a ghoulish laugh, also the same as the others:) Oh, where do you come up with these fantastic stories, Darren? As you can obviously see, I'm alive like your parents are!

DARREN: N-No! I-I killed you, Uncle Will! I had to stop you from killing my sister Daria and my girlfriend Jane! Y-You can't be here like my parents, in fact, you killed my parents! (Arthur and Lucille look at William, shocked, and vice-versa, and all start cackling at Darren with that ghoulish-sounding laugh yet again)

WILLIAM: (Tries to talk through his laughing:) T-There you go again, Darren! Y-You continue to amuse me! (Gets in a quiet tone after getting his laughing under control, serious:) And yet, we all are here. (Smirks:) Explain that. (Arthur and Lucille nod their heads in agreement)

DARREN: (Stunned, looks around at each of them:) I-I--

ANOTHER VOICE FROM THE SIDE: (Softer, more quiet, feminine:) Who's "Jane"?

DARREN: (Looks at the direction where the voice comes from, mouth agape, and trembling:) Oh, God, on top of everybody else, not you, anyone but you--

Stephanie Reardon, dressed in a modest, white, short-sleeved dress and blue shoes, stepped quietly out of the shadows, tears streaming down her face.

STEPHANIE: (A bit louder, now angrier:) I-said-who's-Jane?! I thought I was your girlfriend, Darren--(pauses:) no, in fact, I thought I was your soon-to-be-fiancee!

DARREN: (Swallows hard, walks reluctantly towards her:) B-But, Jane became my girlfriend after you died, Stephanie! It's the truth! I thought you were gone forever!

STEPHANIE: (Snorts, crosses her arms in disgust, scowls:) And yet you didn't waste any time in finding this "Jane" girl after you "thought" that I died, did you? I always knew you didn't love me, Darren!

DARREN: (Wide-eyed:) No Stephanie, I honestly thought you were dead like my parents and--

LUCILLE: (Cries while being consoled by her husband, who's come up beside her:) --There he goes with that "dead" thing again! Why can't you see we're here with you, son, alive!?

ARTHUR: (Scowls:) Now look at what you've done, Darren! You've upset your mother with all of this "death" talk! Apologize to her this instant!

DARREN: (Softly:) M-Mom, I-I'm sorr--

WILLIAM: (Snickers in a wicked variation of the "Pilsbury Doughboy"-type of chuckle while crossing his arms and leans against a wall:) --Uh-ohhh! First your parents, then Stephanieeee! Looks like there's trouble in paaaradiiiiise!

DARREN: (Furious, turns on him:) YOU shut up, Uncle Will! (Turns back to his parents, points at his uncle:) Mom, Dad, he's--he's scheming to take over the conglomerate and to kill you--

STEPHANIE: (Sneers, hands on her hips:) --Oh, so now you're saying we're all alive, Darren?! That your uncle is going to kill your parents? I wish you'd make up your damn mind! (Darren gets a hurt look on his face)

WILLIAM: (Twirls his index finger at the side of his head, wicked smirk:) Tsk, tsk. Coo-coo. Your son's gone off of the deep end, Arthur, Lucille. (Darren glares at him) Darren, I've been the Chairman of Appleton Industries for years, now, you know that. Your "Da-da" and "Ma-ma" have been retired for a long while. Why, pray tell, would I want to "scheme" to kill your dear parents over something I already have? (Darren now looks stunned)

ARTHUR: (Grins ghoulishly:) He's right, son. Your mother and I are lying back, and enjoying the benefits of retirement! (Takes a deep, relaxing breath, beats chest:) God, it's exhilarating to be rid of that work "crap"!

LUCILLE: (Leans against Arthur, contented smile, sighs:) You tell him, dear, it's so wonderful! We both have time to really enjoy the good things in life, with all of the vacations, and the like! William's done such a magnificent job as the Chairman! (William gets a smug look on his face)

DARREN: (Searches for words:) What about Constance? Isn't she--?

WILLIAM: (Shakes his head slowly:) --Darren, Darren, Darren. Constance has been dead for several months, or at least that's what we presume to be the case. She simply vanished, and her body was never found, and before you ask, the same thing happened to Leonard! It was a horrible, terrible tragedy of coincidence! (Faux shock look while Darren stares at him, dumbfounded:) It was a shock to all of us! (Pauses, looks at Darren as if Darren's stupid:) Don't tell me you forgot that, too? Perhaps those are the "dead" people you speak of, my boy?

STEPHANIE: (Smirks at William:) You know Darren--he's getting so forgetful nowadays. (Goes up to Darren, twirls her finger lightly in his chest, which makes him flinch a little, seductive tone:) Trust me, Darren, William's been the man at Appleton Industries. Your parents have even said he's been better at running the business than they ever were! (Arthur and Lucille nod in eager agreement) Besides, Constance and Leonard were dead weight, anyhow. They were always crimping William's style. It's best that they stay dead and buried. (Darren looks at Stephanie incredulously) Now, enough about all of this--(puts her arms around his neck, lusty, smug look, draws closer to him in a husky whisper:) I'm willing to forgive you for cheating on me with this "Jane" girl. Kiss me--

Stephanie's lips almost touched a tempted Darren's, but after a moment, he suddenly and violently snatched her arms down, and backed away from her with a frown that bordered on disgust.

DARREN: (Stoic, cold tone:) No, Stephanie. You always had liked Leonard and Constance, and now you don't? (Pause:) I don't know you anymore, excuse me. (Walks by her, Stephanie looks after him, shocked)

Darren went over to William, coming up to him face-to-face.

DARREN: (Scowls, in a low voice:) I can't figure out yet what you've done to turn my parents and Stephanie against me, and what you did to Leonard and Constance, you bastard, but--

WILLIAM: (Adds another wicked smirk:) --What I did? You're the one who's upset them all, Darren, what, with all of this "death" talk, and not remembering about me being Chairman, and what happened to (mocking tone:) poor, poor Leonard and Constance. (Smug-sounding chuckle, similar to that wicked laugh of the "Pilsbury Doughboy" again:) You're the one who stabbed your fiancee in the back by betraying her with this "Jane" girl--

DARREN: (Grabs William's coat lapels, shoves him away, and he falls to the floor:) --BE QUIET! I didn't do any such thing! None of this is happening, do you hear?! (Turns slowly around, looks between everyone:) You-are-all-DEAD! Gone! I have to get on with my life! I have a another family to go to--

LUCILLE: (Raised eyebrows:) --"Another" family? But son, we're your family. What other family are you talking about?

DARREN: The Morgendorffers, Mother! They're my other family!

WILLIAM: (Snorts while getting up and brushing himself off:) Those "commoners"? Darren, you can't be serious! You don't belong with them, you belong with us! Right, everyone? (The others nod eagerly)

DARREN: (Narrows his eyes, quiet tone:) But you're all dead, Uncle Will. How can I "belong" with any of you now?

WILLIAM: (Glances at the others, rolls his eyes, quick sigh:) Why, it's simple, my boy. We have the perfect way on how you'll truly "belong" with us. (Gets in an excited voice, laughs:) Okay, everybody, you know what to do! (Suddenly pulls out a shotgun from behind him out of nowhere with the others, cocks it, Darren's eyes grow very big) Goodbyeeee, "nephew"!

DARREN: (Backs up, holds up his hands:) W-Wait! Stop! Why are you all doing this? (They all start to close in on him with their weapons drawn) S-Stephanie? Mom? Dad?

STEPHANIE: (Sweet, ghoulish smile and tone of voice:) Why, we're giving you want you truly want most, Darren--the chance to experience death like us, to be with us--(face now turns into a skull like the others:) forever.

LUCILLE: I'm sorry it's come to this, son. Your father and I will continue to love you, always remember that.

ARTHUR: That's right, Darren. At least we'll be together in the afterlife, alive and well.

WILLIAM: (Grins wickedly, takes careful aim:) Quit gabbin' and start firin'! I get his head damn it, remember that! (The shotguns go off, and Darren screams)


Darren shot up out of his bed, sweating, and wide-eyed, patting himself for bullet wounds, knowing full well that they weren't there. That same damn dream. He looked around, and immediately squinted his eyes, shielding them with his hands, for the early morning rays of the sun had shone through the large picture windows of his huge master bedroom, one of eight in the mansion's two sleeping wings, and another one he had moved into in the mansion's west wing, away from the old one in the east wing he had lived in his entire life before that hellish night, the night that his uncle called him, and had lied about Darren's parents being killed in a plane "accident".

Darren had decided to move to this room when he returned from Lawndale because his old room contained too many memories of his life that hit too close to home. He remembered the times as a little boy when his mother and father had come into his room and read him bedtime stories, of them playing "tickling" games with him, or of his being in there when he was punished for doing something wrong, and of Elenor or Claude coming in, and of sneaking him dinner when he wasn't allowed to get any as part of the punishment, risking their jobs in the process--or so Darren had thought at the time. He found out years later from Claude that his then-feeling-guilty parents were quietly sneaking food in his room through either Elenor or Claude, and neither parent knew that the other one was doing it! Ah, the joys of having double portions of dinner and dessert. It eventually became something of a ritual for the servants to secretly bet on which parent would give in first, or at least that's what Elenor had told him.

He chuckled at the wonderful childhood memories for a moment, then slowly stopped smiling. Darren narrowed his eyes, and looked at his hands, which he brought up to his face. They were trembling again, just like his entire body was. Darren frowned, deep in thought.

He knew what the nightmare had meant, of course, having previously talked with his now-vacationing psychologist Dr. Mike Quinn, who, after consulting with two other psychologists in the same field, an Aaron and a Barry Adelman (yes, both were brothers), had Darren's diagnosis as post-trumatic stress syndrome, or, as Dr. Quinn had put it so eloquently to Darren in their closed sessions in the mansion's study, a "delayed reaction" to what had happened to him over the past few months, or of "catching up" with him. It was, say, similar to what some Vietman War veterans had gone through after coming back home from fighting and enduring the horrors of that war, in some cases, not remembering what happened to them until years later, resulting in some violent reactions when they did. Darren thought about his (adopted) father--he certainly didn't exhibit any symptoms when he came back from there, even though he rarely talked about what had happened. Dr. Quinn explained to Darren that Darren had deeply repressed his memories of all of the things that had happened to him these past few months, so much so, that they all came back at one time in his subconscious, ergo, through his dreams. The nightmare had first started the same day he had come back from Lawndale, which had woke him up in the middle of the night screaming like a madman, and had his aunt and the entire mansion up and about in a frenzy, trying to help him out. Compared to the first time, and thanks to the help of Dr. Quinn, Darren's reaction to the nightmare this time was very tame, and would get tamer as time passed (according to Dr. Quinn), and Darren's ability to deal directly with what happened to him would be easier. Darren supposed that the old saying was true: Time does heal all wounds--or so he hoped.

At first, Darren had tried to resist his aunt's urgings to see a psychologist, but when she had become so worried about the state of his sanity, following a similar reaction to the same dream the very next night, she insisted that Darren see one. He finally, but reluctantly, relented. Of course, Darren had the old stereotypical fear about being labeled as "crazy" if anyone, especially the media, found out that he was seeing one, but Dr. Quinn assured him that their sessions in the mansion would be kept a secret, even passing himself off as a "New business consultant by the name of Mike" when he came by to the servants, security, and the rest of the staff. Darren, after keeping to himself around the mansion (save for an annoying interview once in awhile with someone in the media) decided that he couldn't keep the secret anymore, and told Curtis on the side. Much to his surprise, which it shouldn't have been, when he thought more about it, Curtis was very supportive, in fact expressing amazement that his friend didn't fall apart sooner, and that seeing a "shrink" was the "in" thing to do these days, anyway. Darren smirked slightly at this thought. Good ol' Curtis--what would've I done without your "overwhelming and understanding" support? With the exception of his aunt and Curtis, no one else knew he was seeing a psychologist, not even Elenor and Claude, though sometime in the future, he'd tell them, too. No need to let those two worry about him, and possibly have them so upset, that they could accidently slip it out to the other servants somehow, then have it leaked to the media.

Darren sighed, and rose out of bed, slipping on his bedroom shoes and robe over his pajamas. He would have to inform his birth family and Jane of seeing the doctor to help him get through his personal troubles, something with which he didn't have a problem with at all, since he promised to himself and them that he'd never lie to his birth family and Jane on anything ever again. Darren had decided to wait until they came up to the mansion to tell them of the sessions because they couldn't do anything to help him with this that the psychologist wasn't doing himself, and that it would've worried them all needlessly, like Elenor and Claude. Naturally, he figured his birth family would support him, but he hesitated at how Jane would react to the news: Would she understand without thinking he was "crazy"? Darren shook his head quickly to rid himself of that thought. Of course she would--wouldn't she?

Darren was then suddenly hit all at once with the obvious--Jane and his birth family and Quinn's friends were coming this morning! Determined to not to allow himself to become depressed now of all times because of the nightmare, Darren put the thought out of his mind, and concentrated on the task at hand--welcoming Jane and his birth family, and Quinn's friends over. He chose not to jog today, rather to simply overlook any last-minute preparations in the mansion that may have been missed for some reason. Breaking out in a big grin to express his delight, he practically rushed out in the hallway, running into Fiona, a young, pretty, petite, and hard-working brunette who had been a maid in the mansion for about five months. She had been chosen by Lucille Appleton after consultation with Elenor, who was the head maid, just before the tragedies at the mansion had began. Several white bedsheets and pillowcases Fiona had in her arms fell onto the hallway's sky-blue colored carpeted floor, making it look like a contrasting mosaic of colors, like white clouds against the sky in the day. Darren stopped to help her pick them up.

DARREN: Ooops! Sorry, Fiona! I didn't see you there! My bad!

FIONA: (Blushes slightly, smiles:) It's all right, Master Darren! One can't blame you for being so excited this morning! (Sees him getting the sheets, becomes alarmed:) Oh, you shouldn't do that, sir! That's my job to get this up--

DARREN: (Chuckles:) --Which you wouldn't be doing in the first place if I had been watching where I was going. Besides, I've done my own housework before, and I like it. (Cocks an eyebrow:) In fact, I'm surprised Elenor hadn't told you about that yet during all the time you've been here. (Smirks down at the sheets he's holding:) Uh, were these for my birth family, Jane, and Quinn's friends--?

FIONA: For your sister Quinn's friends, Master Darren. They were for Miss Stacy and Miss Tiffany, to go in their bedrooms. (Darren gives the bed accessories back to her) Thank you, sir. I'll get some more clean pillowcases and sheets.

DARREN: (As he walks down the hallway:) Very good, Fiona. I'm going downstairs to eat breakfast. If you see Elenor before I do, could you please tell her that I'm not going to jog this morning? There are just too many last-minute things for me to take care of. See you later. (Leaves, goes down the grand stairs)

FIONA: Yes, Master Darren, I will.

Blushing, Fiona sighed dreamily after Darren while standing in the middle of the hallway, staring in the direction he left. She had to admit: Darren was very handsome, and she secretly had a mild crush on him, not enough to be a serious one, but just enough to admire him from afar. Darren had been very kind to her in the time she had been working here, even through his horrible, personal grieving these past few months, especially with his recent "hermit-type" of behavior around the mansion (save for that suspicious "Mike" fellow who kept coming around to discuss some "private" business with Darren in the study), though she could understand how he was after finding out what really happened to his parents, and what that monster William Appleton had done to them.

She frowned in disgust at a memory of an incident during a party at the mansion William had while Darren was seeing his birth family and Millie was on vacation in Europe. As she went to the kitchen to get some refreshments, a drunken William had tried to come on to her, pulling her off to a darkened part of the mansion (Fiona had been too stunned to say anything), and away from any prying eyes to a secluded hallway. William then proceeded to kiss her on the neck. She could smell the scotch on his breath while she struggled to pry herself from William's grip and wondering hands. Finally, just as she had worked up enough courage to scream, one of the servants walked by, and William immediately released her out of fear of being discovered, but not before warning her that if she said anything, and that it would be her word against his, and she more than likely would be fired. Fiona shuddered at the vicious and threatening tone William had used on her, so much so, that she had confided in telling no one since. When she heard that William had died, she couldn't help but to feel relieved. However, when she found out it was Darren who had done the deed to save his sister and this "Jane" girl while nearly dying himself, she privately cursed William for still ruining everyone's lives, even in death.

Fiona found herself privately and ever-so-mildly jealous of this "Jane", whom Darren had gone on about since he had come back from that "Lawndale" place, the same for his birth family. She was curious as to know what Jane was actually like, and wanted to meet the girl who had made Darren seem to forget about Stephanie Reardon. Of course, she also had heard of Darren's "other" girlfriend, "Sandi Griffin", but Fiona chuckled at this: Darren had told her himself that it was only a rumor, and he had expressed annoyance over Mrs. Griffin's claims to the media and everyone else that it was something more.

Fiona's dream-like state was interrupted by Elenor, who had come up from behind, and had tapped Fiona gently on her right shoulder.

ELENOR: (Eyebrow cocked, slight smirk:) Earth to Fiona! Ahem!

FIONA: Oh, Elenor! I didn't see you there!

ELENOR: (Sighs:) Obviously. Why are you holding those balled-up bedsheets and pillowcases like that in your arms? (Coy, mock-admonishing tone:) Surely I thought you knew they were supposed to be folded neatly and cleanly?

FIONA: (Sheepish look, slight smirk:) Um, sorry, Elenor. Master Darren accidently ran into me in the hallway as I coming by his room, and I dropped the pillowcases and bedsheets that were to go in Miss Stacy's and Miss Tiffany's bedrooms. I tried to keep him from helping me, but--

ELENOR: (Chuckles:) --It didn't do any good, eh? (Shakes her head slowly:) Fiona, I thought I told you that Master Darren likes to do a lot of things himself around here. It's what Master Arthur and Mistress Lucille instilled in him while he grew up.

FIONA: (Gasps, realizes, puts her hand up to her mouth:) Oh, you did, didn't you? I forgot, and--

ELENOR: (Smiles, shakes her head slowly:) --Never mind, child, never mind. It's all right. Take those to the laundry room and get some clean ones from the linen closet, oh, and be sure that all of the guest rooms are full of the proper toiletries, would you?

FIONA: (Quick curtsy:) Yes, ma'am. (Realizes:) Oh, that's right! Master Darren told me he won't be jogging this morning, so you don't have to have his towel ready for him! (Leaves)

ELENOR: Thank you for telling me, Fiona.

Elenor watched Fiona go down the hallway and out of sight to the linen closet, and shook her head slowly, chuckling. Poor child--she's a bit taken by him, isn't she? Elenor then went about her business, humming a tune.


Darren came into the dining room, and immediately saw his aunt Millie and Edward White. Both were dressed in their nightclothes, and conversing quietly while sitting at the breakfast-filled dining table. They were leaning beside one another, whispering into each other's ears, giggling like a young couple in love. Edward looked like the "classic" British gentleman, tall, lean, and aristocratic in air, with silver-grey hair and a matching trimmed mustache and beard. To Darren (and to Curtis, after first seeing Edward himself, following Darren's initial observation), Edward looked exactly like an older version of the fictional character Dr. Benton Quest from the cartoon Jonny Quest. Darren quietly sat down at the table as Millie and Edward continued to talk. Claude came in from the kitchen and began to serve Darren, who watched them wordlessly while eating. Millie finally noticed her nephew after about a minute, the same for Edward.

MILLIE: Darren? Good morning! When did you come down here?

DARREN: Good morning, Auntie, and it's been just a minute or two. (Smirks:) I didn't want to disturb your little "talk" with Edward, here. Good morning, Edward.

EDWARD: (Yes, he has the British accent:) Good morning, Darren, old chap. I trust you slept well? (Sips some coffee)

DARREN: (Takes a quick, knowing glance at Millie, who gives him the same look:) Uh, yeah, I did, Edward. (Adds while eating some toast:) So, I was informed that you came back last night, which surprised me a little, since you left us just over a week ago. How was the trip from England?

EDWARD: The flight here was a bit rough due to some air turbulence, old boy, but as you can see, I came through quite alright. When your aunt told me over the phone a few days ago about your birth family and girlfriend coming this morning, I simply had to meet them for myself after I wrapped up a business meeting in Zurich. (Adds quickly:) Oh, and of course, I came to see your aunt again. (Millie smiles)

DARREN: (While partially unrolling a newspaper taken from a holder beside the table, one of several in it, to which he then immediately sets aside the paper while he eats some eggs, coy tone, grins:) Of course. You couldn't live without her, eh? Can't say that I can blame you!

MILLIE: (Mock glare, turns red:) Darren! (Edward chuckles, then Millie narrows her eyes at Darren's paper, sees the upside-down name:) Hm, the Lawndale-Sun Herald? Where the Morgendorffers and Jane Lane live? How long have you subscribed to that?

DARREN: Would you believe just this morning, courtesy of an expensive special courier service? I wanted to keep abreast of what's going on down there news-wise, for rather obvious reasons. Also, Jake and Daria can have a little "piece" of their home while reading the paper up here. They read it every morning while I lived with them there. I'll have extra copies for them each day they're here so they won't have to share it.

MILLIE: (Grows quiet, sighs:) I suppose that makes some sense, nephew. (Changes tone, brightens up:) Well, I'm assuming you're quite nervous and excited about this morning, Darren! Today's the big day!

DARREN: Definitely, Auntie. (Fully unrolls paper while looking at his aunt:) As you obviously know, I've been on pins and needles this past week to see Jane and my birth family again. I've heard it's been a insane few weeks for them all concerning the attention they've gotten because of me, though Helen's told me that they're handling it okay, and she and Jake have been doing well in their careers because of it, the same with Jane and her artwork, which makes me feel a little less guilty for putting them all in the "spotlight". (Sighs:) Still, it's a relief they can quietly slip out of Lawndale this morning without any--(looks down at the headline, eyes slowly widen while he reads the article:) any-- (voice fades, rolls eyes:) oh, no.

MILLIE: (Looks at Edward, who does the same to Millie, perplexed:) Darren? What's wrong? Did something happen to your birth family or Jane? (Darren clenches his teeth, passes over the paper to her wordlessly, then ruthlessly stabs his fork into the sausage patties on his plate, shoves one in his mouth) (Millie then reads the paper with Edward:) Oh, dear--(looks up at Darren:) how--?

DARREN: (Frowns:) It doesn't matter how the media found out, Auntie --(narrows eyes, adds:) though it wouldn't surprise me if that "Linda Griffin" didn't have a hand in all of this! What really makes me PO'd is those vultures won't leave Jane and my family alone, at least for a little while! Me, I can take the attention, but them? I mean, what more can they say about me that hasn't already been said? (Pauses, realizes, cocks an eyebrow, thought v.o.: "DeAnne"...?)

Millie cocked an inquisitive eyebrow at her nephew's use of the word "family" without the word "birth" proceeding it, the first time she could recall hearing him say so. Edward caught her look briefly, then spoke, shaking her out of her thoughts.

EDWARD: If I may make a suggestion, Darren dear fellow, perhaps you should call your birth family to check up on them, and to see if they need anything, possibly to warn them? I mean, it's more than likely that they already know about the news, but still--?

DARREN: (Stares at Edward for a second, shrugs:) Why not, Edward? That's the best idea I've heard all morning. (Reaches for the cell phone sitting on a serving table beside the dining one:) It wouldn't hurt to see what's up. (Dials number, listens, frowns:) Eh? The operator says the phone's out of order! (Clicks cell phone off:) People are probably trying to call them right now!

MILLIE: It's possible, Darren--the telephone lines could be jammed. At least we don't have to worry about that happening to us, since we can screen our calls.

DARREN: (Quiet tone:) Yeah. (Brightens up:) I'll call Jane. She got a private line recently, so the press couldn't pester her. She can check on them for me.(Dials)


(Scene changes to Casa de Lane)

The phone in Jane's room rang about ten times, but no one answered it, for Jane was in the shower at the time, singing a twisted (and horrible-sounding) version of "Old Macdonald Had A Farm", with the Lawndale High teachers as the farm animals.

(Note to reader: Listen to Jane sing to Tom that song in "Jane's Addition", and you'll know what I mean. Ugh!)


(Scene goes back to the Appleton estate)

DARREN: (Frowns, perplexed:) No answer--? (Clicks off the phone, narrows eyes, looks off into space) You don't think anything's happened to her, do you?

MILLIE: (In an assuring tone, chuckles:) Maybe she's in the shower, Darren, relax. She'll use the call-back feature, and will return your message.

DARREN: (Quick, slightly sheephish smile:) Unlikely, Auntie. Jane decided to forgo getting that with the private line because she wanted "absolute silence" while she worked on her art, the same for not getting an answering machine. We made out a time schedule for when we'd call each other. (Sighs, gets up from the table:) I think I just lost my appetite. I hope they'll all be able to escape that crowd to get here in one piece. I'll call on the plane to check on them later. I'm going to meditate, take a shower, change, and then make a final "final" check around the mansion. Aunt Millie, could you make sure to see to Curtis and his sisters when they come in, please?

MILLIE: Of course I will, Darren. (Watches him leave with a weary look, sighs:) I wonder when the circus will end, Edward?

EDWARD: (Resigned tone of voice:) I suppose when the "viewing audience" tires of the "performers", Millie. (Pats her hand reassuredly:) I wouldn't worry too much about it, old girl, with what Darren's been through, I'm sure he'll get through this as well. Right now, I'm worried more about you than Darren.

MILLIE: (Cocks an eyebrow:) You're worried about me? What do you mean, Edward?

EDWARD: I mean, I saw how you reacted to Darren when he said the Morgendorffers were his family, (pauses:) minus the "birth" part, don't deny it.

MILLIE: (Smirks:) Can't hide anything from you, can I? (After a moment, sighs, looks down:) All right. Fine. I reacted a little negatively to what he said, I'll admit it. Darren's becoming attached to the Morgendorffers, no question about it, and I should be happy for him, but--(voice fades, looks off)

EDWARD: (Squeezes her shoulder, comforting tone:) --Millllie. He's not going to forget you with them visiting here, you know that.

MILLIE: (Rolls her eyes:) Edward, please, I don't have to be told that. I'm just--just having a hard time sharing him with his birth--(hesitates:) his family. You could say that I'm feeling a bit selfish when it comes to Darren being with them, even a little jealous. (Grows very quiet:) He--he's become more and more of like a son to me, especially with Arthur and Lucille gone, now. (Frowns:) Why in the hell didn't I have any children when I had the chance? (Edward holds her close)

EDWARD: (Matches her quiet tone, to her ear:) You told me you didn't want to be "tied down" with them when we first met in England, remember?

MILLIE: Yes, I remember--and it was a stupid mistake. I mean, Jim may have had a good point when he wanted some children while we were married, and I--(Edward now frowns, takes his arm from around her) what?

EDWARD: You're going to speak about your ex again, aren't you? Millie, you told me you once hated Jim! You speak as if you now miss being with him!

MILLIE: (Shocked tone:) What?! (Pauses:) Yes, once I did hate him, but that was a long time ago! We're good friends, now, I told you that already. He may come here to meet Darren's family and Jane--and possibly you. (Cocked eyebrow:) Don't tell me you feel threatened by my ex-husband?

EDWARD: (Holds up his hands, uneasy chuckle:) No, no, of course not! It's just that I'm feeling a little selfish now, and I'd want you to talk about me and you a little, not Edward and the children you could've had with (shudders:) him. (Drinks some more coffee)

MILLIE: (Gets a coy look, wicked smirk, faux-delighted shock:) Awww, Edward--are--are you telling me that you'd want to have a child with me?

A wide-eyed Edward instantly did a classic spit take just as Claude walked into the dining room, promptly showering the butler in a narrow stream of said beverage. Millie stared at Claude in absolute shock for a nanosecond, then began to roar with laughter, doing it so hard, she held her stomach, turned red, and fell out of her seat unto the floor, pointing at Edward, who glared at her for a second as he wiped his mouth with a napkin, then he started to laugh just as hard as well, sitting down beside Millie on the floor, and holding her. Claude looked down at the coffee stain that now ruined his usually perfect-looking butler's uniform and then at the two, shrugged for a moment, then he laughed. Millie and Edward pointed at him, laughing all the harder. Henri the chef came out of the kitchen after hearing the commotion, looked strangely at the laughing trio for a moment, then backed slowly into the kitchen, all the while keeping a careful eye on them.

HENRI: (Thought v.o.: Zey are lunatics, all of zem. Zat is all I can say--lunatics.)


(Scene changes to an isolated, empty, small room located on the first floor of the west wing of the mansion, a little later)

Darren, now dressed in a white gi, sat cross-legged in the middle of the room on a bare hardwood floor with his eyes closed and arms laid on both of his sides, breathing in and out very slowly. His face had a very peaceful look to it. Whenever he had finished his martial arts exercises in this room, or when he was agitated or angry, as was in this case concerning the news over the "secret" of his birth family's and Jane's pending visit getting out, he would meditate to relax and calm down here (Darren had quietly done some meditation while he stayed with his birth family late at night in their guest room.). Recently, he had found himself doing this more often than not, thanks to the nightmares. When he had told Dr. Quinn of the occasional meditations, the doctor had encouraged Darren to do even more of them per day to relax himself whenever he felt he had to. Given his recent habit of hanging around the mansion, he had plenty of time to do just that.

Besides being empty and small, the room, formerly a storage area for the family's winter clothing, had walls that looked dull because of them being a dank-looking color of gray, and bare. Compared to the rest of the mansion's voluptuous surroundings, this room appeared to be completely out of place, seemingly belonging in a shantytown of some sort.

Darren had been so deep in meditation, he looked almost asleep. He slowly opened his eyes, quietly coming out of the peace of his world to find Curtis sitting on the floor opposite of him, leaning back on a wall, staring right at him and chuckling quietly. Curtis had been reading a book on his engineering major while he had waited for Darren to come out of his deep state. Darren rolled his eyes.

DARREN: How long have you been there?

CURTIS: (Grins:) Long enough to hear you snoring, say about 15 minutes. (Darren gives him a mock-disdainful look) You looked sooo peaceful there, I just couldn't stand the thought of disturbing you. Too excited to sleep last night, so you're trying to sneak in some "Z's" this morning before the big event? You could've just stayed in bed, you know, then rushed around to get ready at the last second before they came.

DARREN: (Snorts, then sneers:) Ho-ho, you made several funnies there, "Chris Rock", (stretches out his arms dramatically:) and the Comic View crowd roars at his hilarity. (Curtis smirks) Actually, I was upset over what I read in my family's local hometown paper this morning, you know, the Lawndale Sun-Herald, what I'm now subscribing to, in addition to the other newspapers I get?

(Note to reader: "Comic View" is an African-American improv show on the Black Entertainment Network, or BET for short. It's seen on most weeknights.)

CURTIS: (Frowns slightly:) Yeah, Millie told me when I came over. Damn leeches. Look, don't sweat it, it'll blow over.

DARREN: (Gets up with Curtis:) I'm not, and I know. (Pauses, realizes:) Say, do you know how long I've been here?

CURTIS: (Looks at his watch:) Well, I think about an hour. Elenor said you were in there about 45 minutes when I came along.

DARREN: (Raised eyebrows:) One hour?! Usually, I meditate for about 30 minutes on average. I'd better get going. (Walks out of the room with Curtis) Where are your sisters? Didn't they come here with you?

CURTIS: (Quick sigh, in a tone that's achingly familiar:) Don't worry, they'll be here before your birth family and Jane do. Juanita didn't like what outfit she was wearing, so she wanted to change into something else. Laflita took note of this "momentous" incident, and did the same thing. (Darren laughs) And so the sibling competition continues between those two. They tried to get me to judge who was gonna be dressed better, but I got out of there as fast as my feet would carry me.

DARREN: I feel for you, I really do. You've got two Quinns to my one.

CURTIS: (Smirks:) Want to swap, or even take one off of my hands?

DARREN: (Ditto:) Nope--I'm satisfied with mine, thank you very much.

CURTIS: (Snaps his fingers:) Rats. Hey, maybe I can dump at least one on your sister Daria, or even Jane. What do you think?

DARREN: (Chuckles:) I think you don't live beyond today if you tried that little stunt with those two. Be happy with having Juanita and Laflita around Quinn and her friends this week, and leave it at that.

CURTIS: Yeah, I guess I'll have to take that as a "consolation" prize, for now. (Changes tone:) I see "Dr. Quest" has returned, sooner than planned. Your aunt was pretty happy this morning. (Adds after a moment, cocked eyebrow:) Maybe she won't be as uh, uncomfortable with your birth family here with him present?

DARREN: (Shrugs:) I--suppose, though I really wished Edward wouldn't have come here this particular week of all weeks. I wanted to spend some time with my family without him being here, if you know what I mean.

CURTIS: Well, I'm sure most of Edward's time will be spent with Millie anyway, hence the (finger quote:) "distraction" factor. (Smiles while Darren chuckles:) She's really taken a liking to him, hasn't she?

DARREN: Umm-hmm, though I wonder how my uncle Jim will react if he's able to come here this week. From what I remembered, those two were actually getting a little chummy for a while before my parents were killed--my uncle and aunt Millie, that is. I found out when I came back from Lawndale that he had called the mansion several times.

CURTIS: (Raised eyebrows:) No kidding? (Darren shakes his head slowly in agreement) Huh. I guess he's still carrying a torch for her, am I right?

DARREN: (Quiet tone:) He never stopped loving her, Curtis. I think he still does. He was not pleased when he heard she was seeing Edward, at least that what Elenor told me when I came back.

CURTIS: (Whistles:) Uh-oh. Do you think there could be trouble on the horizon if your uncle comes in and sees your aunt and Edward together, (pauses:) and more importantly, do both men have their life insurance policies paid up?

DARREN: (Puts up his hands:) I'd rather not go there right now. I have to concentrate on the upcoming visit.

CURTIS: You should've concentrated on repairing that room you were just in, bud. I still can't figure out why you don't fix it up a little, at least. Get some paint or wallpaper--

DARREN: (Sighs:) Curtis, I've told you and everyone else this dozens of times: That is my meditation room, and nothing more or less. It has to have the look of humility, or at least that's what my sensei said. If the room looked "fresh and clean" like the rest of the mansion, I'd lose my "train of thought". In order to become one with my inner self, I need to get as humble as possible, as low in myself as possible. That room is perfect for me because it's out and away from the active part of the mansion.

CURTIS: (Thought v.o.: Thank God for that.) (Skeptical tone:) Uh-huh. Well, you've definitely reached the "lowest" depths by being in that so-called "room". (Frowns slightly, sneering tone:) It would've been the perfect place to hide your artwork from Jane, since you seem so set on not wanting to show any of it to her. (Adds seriously while Darren narrows his eyes:) Your work's really very good, you know. You should be proud to show it to her and your birth family. You don't have to be ashamed, man. Jane won't look down on it like you seem to think she will.

DARREN: (Pauses, then adds:) I'm not saying that Jane or my family will put down my artwork, Curtis. Painting's just a hobby to me, that's all, and that Jane and the others might make a big deal when they see some of my pieces. Compared to her work, mine's look like a kindergartener did it. (Curtis rolls his eyes) Look, maybe she won't ask about it. (Curtis now looks at Darren incredulously)

CURTIS: Are you out of your alleged mind? Of course she'll ask for it! She's an artist! In fact, I wouldn't be surprised that one of the first things Jane will do when she gets here with the others is ask to see your stuff right off. (Grins wickedly:) I hope she does. Heck, I'll volunteer to show her where your work is.

DARREN: (Smirks:) You do, and I'll make like--like--(pauses, looks up for a moment then back down at Curtis, shrugs:) "Hong Kong Phooey", and I'll chop you to pieces, jack. (Curtis returns his own smirk, rolls his eyes, snorts)

CURTIS: Oh, please. If you're referring to that mid-seventies Hanna-Barbera cartoon about a talking dog with the voice of Scatman Cruthers, that could change into a no-talent, all-joke, kung-fu super-hero from a no-talent, all-joke, janitor that worked in a no-talent, all-joke police station with a no-talent, all-joke, fat, out-of-shape police sargent and a no-talent, all-joke, "I'm-in-a-perpetual-fantasy-about-Hong-Kong-Phooey-being-my-boytoy" female police communications switchboard operator, you must be joking. (Now speaks with conviction:) I mean, if it wasn't for the cat that saved Hong Kong Phooey all those times Phooey (chuckles, finger quote:) "fought" the criminals, Phooey wouldn't even be there! In fact, the cat was my favorite character on that cartoon! He should've been the hero, not Phooey! (Darren simply stares at Curtis for a long moment, stunned, mouth agape)

DARREN: (Nods faux-seriously, knowingly:) You've been looking at the Cartoon Network a little too long again, haven't you? You really should cut back on that, it's hazardous to your growth maturation.

CURTIS: (Grins:) You're one to talk. You pointed out that Edward looked like "Dr. Quest". Are you sure you haven't been sneaking a few peeks yourself before you watch that Sick, Sad, World show that you've hooked me on?

Laughing, Darren was about to give a retort to Curtis when Fiona met them in the hallway, holding a cell phone.

FIONA: Master Darren? Excuse me, but there's a call for you. Hello, Master Curtis. (Gives phone to Darren)

CURTIS: Hey, Fiona.

DARREN: Thanks, Fiona. (Covers speaker part, cocks an eyebrow:) Who is it? The media wanting to know about my family and Jane's visit? If it is--

FIONA: --No sir, it's a "Tom Sloane". (Darren gets a look of surprise, and Curtis cocks his eyebrow at Darren's reaction) He said it was very important that he talk to you, adding that you'd want to speak to him when I told you his name. (Pauses:) I thought about having the call screened, but Mr. Sloane seemed so sure that he knew you. Did I do the right thing, Master Darren?

DARREN: Yes, you did, Fiona, and thank you. That'll be all.

FIONA: Very good, sir. Master Curtis. (Leaves)

CURTIS: (Looks after Fiona:) Whoa. You know, if it wasn't for Lena, I might've seriously considered--(changes tone:) ahhh, who's "Tom Sloane"?

DARREN: A possible boyfriend to my sister Daria. He was supposed to tell her and Jane something that he and I had discussed while I was in the hospital in Lawndale. I guess he's wanting to tell me her and Jane's reaction to what he said to me. Hang on. (Uncovers phone:) Hey, Tom, this is a surprise! How'd you get my private phone number?

TOM: Hey, Darren. I hope I didn't wake you up, or anything. I'm calling from my car. I just left the airport after seeing your family and Jane off. I got your number from my dad's business contacts via the stock market.

DARREN: No, I was already up. Your dad's part of Grey, Sloane, and Paige, the stockbroker firm, am I right? My (adopted) dad spoke of them once, as I recall. Said they did good work. He thought about getting them to buy some stocks in a company for him once.

(Note to reader: Tom's dad's stockbroker firm's name was first mentioned in "Is It Fall Yet?", which didn't--oh, you know that already, never mind!)

TOM: Yes, and my dad spoke glowingly about your company's uncanny ability to invest and diversify in stock tradings and holdings. (Adds:) I'm sorry our dads never had the chance to meet each other.

DARREN: (Quietly:) Yeah, so am I. (Thought v.o.: Though your dad will probably be meeting my birth dad, not only over Daria, but me over my "business connections" as well.) (Changes tone:) So, what's up?

TOM: (Hesitates:) Uh, well--you remember our little "talk" at the hospital?

DARREN: How can I forget about that? I'm assuming that's what this is all about. (Narrows eyes slightly:) Don't tell me Daria and Jane didn't take what you told them well right off? I realize it may take a little time for them to understand at first, which is obvious, but when they get up here, I'll--

TOM: (Sighs, cuts him off:) --That's just the point, Darren. I--(long pause:) didn't get the time to tell Daria or Jane about our talk. (Darren drops his head suddenly in disappointment, grimaces) Both left with the others before I could say anything. Sorry. I wanted to tell Daria this morning at the airport, really!

DARREN: (Looks up, glares at the ceiling, through clenched teeth:) You didn't get the ti--Tom, you had several weeks to say something to Daria and/or Jane about this since I left! You told me you'd tell them what we talked about! (Curtis looks slightly taken aback at Darren's tone of voice)

TOM: (Apologetic tone:) I know I should've went straight to Daria or Jane after we spoke in the hospital that day, but I found out my parents wanted to take me and my sister out to our cove for my family's usual "forced togetherness" vacation to be with my great aunt Mildred when I got back home, one which I had to take, unlike the one I took while you had been in Lawndale because my parents had suddenly moved this one up. I decided to use the time to gather my thoughts to tell Daria, but when I came back, I saw Daria, and--(lowers voice:) she, well, looked really, really happy to see me when I came in the Pizza King and saw her sitting in a booth looking a little miserable, primarily because she was trying to "escape" her mom's "bonding time", and of not seeing Jane as much as she wanted. (Darren gives a quiet, thoughtful look) In Jane's case, as you know, she was so busy with her artwork, well, I didn't want to distract her. (Sighs:) Damn it, I just lost myself when I was with Daria, and kept putting it off. I couldn't bring myself to do it.

DARREN: (After a moment, lowers voice:) Yeah, yeah, I can see where you're coming from, Tom. Feelings for a girl have a tendency to do that to a guy. Look, I'm sorry for snapping at you.

TOM: (Chuckling sound:) Don't be. You had every right to do that. I'm a first-class idiot. (Adds after a moment:) I'm sure Daria and probably Jane will ask you if you know something. I think Daria suspectedsomething was going on between you and me in that hospital room.

DARREN: Well, what's done is done, and it can't be changed now. I'll tell them what we talked about when my family and Jane gets up here. It's okay--really.

TOM: (Resigned tone:) I'll--I'll call up there in a few days, (adds with an uneasy chuckle:) unless Daria or even Jane calls me to vent their anger.

DARREN: Tom, I'm sure that after I explain about our talk, they'll go easy on you. (After a moment:) Oh, before you go, you say you're calling from your car--?

TOM: (Pauses:) Uhh--yeees. What about it?

DARREN: Ah, don't take this the wrong way, but I'm kind of concerned about Daria riding in, er, well--

TOM: (Chuckling sound:) --Say no more. I've gotten another car. It used to be my grandmother's. Apparently, in the middle of the night while I slept, the same night before we went on vacation, my parents had my beloved Pinto towed away. It's quite a step up in the automotive evolutionary chain. I am now the proud owner of a slightly less rusting, early 1980's version of a Jaguar XJ-6, courtesy of those same parents.

DARREN: (Sighing, relieved tone:) Ah, I see. Well, I guess they wanted something a bit more--mmm--better for you to drive--?

TOM: (Sounding sarcastic:) If you call forcing me to conform to their standards of "better", i.e., something that practically screams "Wealth!", then how, pray tell, can I possibly argue against that?

DARREN: (Cocks an eyebrow, inquisitive:) Pardon me for inquiring, Tom, but why do I get this feeling that you feel a bit uncomfortable with your family's money? (Curtis looks at Darren knowingly a bit, smirks) Forgive me, but I have to know.

TOM: (After a moment:) I think I see where you're going with this, Darren. Well, I don't want people to treat me differently because my family is wealthy. I want to establish my own identity, and not be a "Preppie-Boy", the Fielding prep academy I go to notwithstanding, who acts like a spoiled, rich brat. I hate that image, hell, I loathe it with a passion. It's why I drove the Pinto. I could be incognito, be a so-called "commoner" among the good citizens of Lawndale, without the "status symbol" perception. Daria respects me because of that, and so does Jane. More importantly, I respect myself. (Pauses:) You have the same fears of being "caught up" in your wealth as I do, am I correct? Do people treat you differently because of your money?

DARREN: (Rolls his eyes:) Ooooh yeah. (Looks over at Curtis, smirks, pauses:) Well, not everyone. I basically leave most of my financial matters to my private lawyer and a slew of accountants under him when I can, though I have to meet them all at least twice a month concerning my finances. As for running the business, I have someone to handle that, too.

TOM: Yeah, I heard about that. Daria told me you gave her the credit for choosing this "Constance Waters". I couldn't be too sure, but I think Daria was really proud that you did that.

DARREN: (Chuckles:) As well as she should be, Tom. I've had people in my family's company tell me that it was a brilliant move, as if I came up with the idea of my own accord. I've promptly deflected the credit to my sister, whom Constance is eager to meet.

TOM: Ha! That'll be an interesting meeting. Daria's not used to being thrusted into the limelight.

DARREN: Don't I know it. Speaking of which, I had to practically beg Jane to show off her artwork when the reporters came snooping around about me to her, and it paid off. She used to be someone who hated to have her picture taken, and now she's a (finger quote:) "famous" artist.

TOM: (Laughs:) Jane is a natural in front of the camera. She just didn't know about her "hidden talents". (Adds after a moment, small chuckle:) Of course, I didn't know about mine, either. (Darren frowns, perplexed) Ask Jane about what I meant later at your leisure. She'll know what I'm talking about.

(Note to reader: For both Jane's hatred of cameras, and of Tom's little "hidden talents" crack, check out the episode "Psycho Therapy")

DARREN: Heh--I'll make a mental note of that. (Looks at Curtis, who's holding up his wrist and pointing at his watch:) Hey, I've got to get ready, okay, Tom? Thanks for uh, "warning" me about Daria and Jane not knowing yet about our "talk".

TOM: (Now sounding a little subdued:) Yeah, sure. Goodbye.

DARREN: Take it easy. (Clicks off phone:) I'd better get showered and dressed right away. Jane and my family just got in the air, and are on their way. I'll call on the plane during mid-flight. (Starts to walk to his room, along with Curtis)

CURTIS: Yeah, you'd better--hey! What in the hell was that "talk" about with this "Tom Sloane" guy? I caught a couple of things you two said on the phone, but--

DARREN: (Sighs:) --C'mon, and I'll explain on the way to my room, Curtis, but promise me that you won't say anything to Jane or Daria before I do, okay? (Curtis nods) You see...


(Scene changes to the jet, now at cruising altitude, the present time)

Jake sat in a seat in the front of the jet while wearing earphones and watching the jet's TV, away from Helen, who was sitting now on the opposite side. He had been alienated by her anger at him over the cell phone "battery-emptying incident", and of Jake's "ordering" of her being manhandled by the police to get through the crowd while back at the airport, according to Helen, "Like a common crook." Jake timidly looked at the jet's TV, alternating between watching it, and to his wife, who ignored him while she was talking on the jet's phone, presumably to her law firm. On the TV was ESPN SportsCenter. Jake sighed in defeat while he glanced over at Helen, and went back to watching the TV. He then looked down at the breakfast plate the stewardess had fixed for them all on his table, shrugged, then gobbled down the salivating-looking dish of crisp bacon and scrambled eggs, strawberry and whipped-cream covered pancakes, and orange juice and coffee.

Jake suddenly looked back over at Helen yet once again, this time with a frown on his face, having a personal realization in his mind. Damn it, I sure as hell didn't do anything wrong by getting rid of those batteries in the cell phones at home, and I only wanted to get us all away as fast as possible from my annoying "partners", and the damn media out of Lawndale! Well, I'm sick of being treated like crap by Helen over all of this! I'm gonna have a good time at my son's place, and if Helen doesn't wanta forgive me, then that's her problem! Jake suddenly shoved a piece of bacon in his mouth, and narrowed his eyes at the TV intently in an attempt to give the impression that he was focused on it, and nothing else (particularly of allowing Helen to see how upset he was), grunting in an exaggerated way as he chewed and swallowed the food.


Helen glared over at Jake occasionally while he was looking at the jet's TV (and not noticing her), and went back to talking on the jet's phone to the firm. She had turned down the stewardess' offer of breakfast, out of wanting to call the firm, and of being too upset over her husband's "stupidity", to eat. Eric had not tried to call her while he had been out of town according to Marriane, who was working overtime hours on a Saturday. After all, Eric had done it many times in the past, and Helen had half-heartedly expected him to contact her again over the weekend. I guess he's giving me more leeway because I'm an equal partner now. Even though she had promised Quinn (and herself) that she'd not think about her job while seeing Darren, Helen wanted to "keep on top of things" at the law firm out of sheer habit. It was simply what she did best, she told herself, and she knew it. Helen shuddered for a moment--was she experiencing job withdrawal symptoms by not being called upon by Eric? She immediately shook off that thought and glared over at Jake again, clicking off the plane's phone. The absolute nerve of Jake to do that with the phones at our home, then getting the police to drag me around like a sack of--calm down, Helen. Don't let him unnerve you on your trip to see your son. Just think about Darren, and how you'll be happy to see him. I only wished he'd call me "Mother"...hmm--I wonder if I should call Darren and tell him we're on our way? The poor dear--he might've tried to call us this morning, and couldn't reach us! She looked at the phone for a moment, then decided to wait. For all Helen knew, Darren was probably getting last-minute things ready for them, and her call could distract him. She immediately remembered the newspaper subscription snafu (something else she could attribute to Jake), then dialed the Lawndale Sun-Herald to ask the paper to stop sending it to their home while they were vacationing.


Daria and Jane were eating a breakfast that was similar to Jake's. Daria was glancing at her book and eating, all the while taking quick, worried peeks at her Partner-In-Crime, who had managed to calm down a little over the provocatively-dressed Sandi Griffin, much to Daria's relief. Daria wanted Jane to mellow a bit before talking to Sandi, primarily because out of a stupid sense of sympathy for "Queen Sandi" for some sort of inane reason. Daria wondered about Tom's kiss at the airport, something which gave her some oddly pleasant chills down her spine when she thought about that moment. Did that "soften" me up a bit, the same for my "agreement" with Ms. Li to speak with Darren over getting something for "Laaaawndale High" after she practically begged? Must've been. In the past, I would've likely been tempted to egg Jane to lay one out on Sandi, but now--aw, hell...

Daria quickly went back over the events of the past 20 minutes in her mind: The jet had just reached cruising altitude, and a furious Jane was about to unbuckle her seatbelt to go over to "inquire" to Sandi over her choice of attire, when the stewardess Morgan suddenly came over and asked both girls if they had eaten breakfast yet, a fancy, last-second, pleasant surprise that her brother had arranged for them all on the flight. Daria quickly used the opportunity to persuade Jane to "consume nourishment" before confronting Sandi, explaining that "Last meals are always given to the condemned, so why not allow Sandi to have hers?" Despite her anger at Sandi, Daria really didn't want a possible donnybrook to break out on the plane on the way to Darren's--What if the insuing brawl somehow or another caused the plane to crash? I'd never be able to see Darren's library--oh, and I'd guess we'd all be dead, too. Silly, forgetful me. The ploy seemed to work, for a famished Jane decided to eat. Still, during the meal, Jane took some very long glares at Sandi, who, after sneaking some highly timid glances of her own over at the scowling Jane, turned quickly to her food, and sunk into her book further while listening to the constant chatter of her Fashion Club cohorts, occasionally looking over her book to see Jane, who took yet another glare at her. To Daria, the situation Sandi was in almost seemed to be not only surreal in nature, but comical as well: Sandi's attempting to look nonchalant in front of the Fashion Club (not wanting to appear to be "unfashionably out of control for the president"), combined with her fear of Jane's "wrath". Daria considered this in a brief, amusing manner as Jane turned her attention to Daria while wolfing down a piece of toast.

JANE: (While her mouth's full:) Oh, hell, yeah. Soon, amiga, very soon, Sandi Griffin and I shall "engage" in some "lively conversation", yes, indeedy. Oh, just you wait until I'm finished eating. I wonder what her headstone will read after I'm done with her? (Looks up for a moment, in thought, then looks back down at Daria, smirks wickedly:) Ah, here's what it should read: "Here's lies what once was the 'Head Bitch'--now, she's buried in a ditch". What do you think?

Daria saw that Jane was still quite upset, and decided to try another ploy to temper her best friend's anger. She sighed, and gently put down her book on the table. Jane cocked an eyebrow, curious.

DARIA: I think it's "edgy". Look, before you smash Sandi into cosmic dust, I want to talk to you about my "talk" with Ms. Li. I think you'll be delighted to know what came of it.

JANE: (Whining:) Awww--can't it wait 'till Sandi's gone into that "Great Styling Salon in the Ground"?

DARIA: (Shakes her head slowly:) No can do, Lane. This is something that just can't wait. Hear me out, okay? (Jane mock-pouts, and crosses her arms to listen intently, which makes Daria slightly more relieved, for she sees Jane is at least a little less angry now:) Thank you. Now, here's the deal: Ms. Li has agreed to allow us to have free reign at Lawndale High, that is, we get to pick and choose what, if any, "activities" we "participate" in during the year. In return, I'll talk to my brother about donating some moolah to the school.

JANE: (Now definitely interested in this:) Wha-ho! No foolin'? (Daria shakes her head while smirking) And all of this if Darren contributes some money to the school! This-is-GREAT! No more idiotic "volunteering", and--(narrows her eyes:) waaaaait a minute. (Hesitates:) Uh, you know, Daria, as happy as I am to hear that you and me wouldn't have to go and do any school stuff for our senior year, my crappy "Inner Voice" is making me feel guilty for some damn sort of reason. I mean, it doesn't seem fair that you and I have a "Get Out of Jail Free Card", but our other fellow students don't! As much as I'd like to see some folks get their's at our school, it's just, well--

DARIA: (Mona Lisa smile:) --I figured you'd feel a little uneasy about that like I did when Li made the offer (Jane gives Daria a sheepish look). (Pauses:) Jane, I don't don't think you quite understood me. When I said "we" or "us", I meant "we" or "us" as in the entire school body, not just you and me. (Jane's mouth drops, while Daria makes a mildly disgusting look, shutters:) Uh, do you mind closing your trap? Somehow, the sight of chewed bacon, eggs, and toast in one's opened mouth has a sickening effect on me, you understand. (Jane shuts her mouth) Thank you again.

JANE: (Still reeling:) I--I--can't--believe this! Ol' Li actually agreed to allowing the students to choose to participate in school activities? On their own? (Pauses, realizes:) Uh, what if nobody wants to really volunteer, amiga? (Faux-sad look, gasps:) Who--who's gonna bake the cookies and pies and wash the cars to raise funds to get that new orbiting surveillance satellite that's specially designed to scan our beloved Laaaawndale High?

DARIA: (Deadpan:) I guess Ms. Li's counting on Darren bankrolling the school well into the 22th century. (Jane snickers) Seriously, though, I think they'll be more than enough volunteers to carry on any school activities that'll come down the pike. Hell, remember that Jodie's there. Her legendary persuading skills will see the day through. (Drinks some orange juice)

JANE: Ain't that the truth. (Frowns:) Say, was Tom there with you when Ms. Li was making this pitch?

DARIA: Yeah. So?

JANE: So, I'm wondering why she didn't just go to him and ask for some dough? The Sloanes are drowning in the green, the same for those Van Reefs. Why Darren?

DARIA: (While munching on some pancakes:) Why not my bro, Jane? I think when Ms. Li compares Tom's family's wealth to Darren's, one can say that my brother's wealth makes the Sloanes and Van Reefs look like paupers. Ms. Li sees Darren as the "answer" to all her money worries. The Sloanes and Van Reefs to her are passe in terms of some serious money. In the past, they could've been the object of her ass-kissing, but now, it looks like Darren's gonna be the one to have his kissed by her. (Jane gets a very lustful look on her face) Get that damn mind out of the bordello, Lane.

JANE: (Grins:) The hell I will, Morgendorffer. I can see me doing that to Darren, and--hey! Does this also mean that Li will be kissing our asses this year, too, in addition to our not having to do anymore school activities? I could conceivably walk up to Coach Morris, punch her lights out, and get the hell away with it without Li doing nothing whatsoever to me?

DARIA: (Smirks:) Oh, I suppose anything's possible. If Li does plan on kissing my ass, I'll plan to stock up on plenty of those cans of Van Camp's pork and beans. I want her to get the full effect of my posterior's gaseous releases in all of its glory. I'll make sure that she won't be allowed to have a gas mask on if or when she commences to smooching my "hinny".

JANE: (Laughs, lifts her cup of coffee to toast Daria:) That's the "Twisted Lil' Cruller" that I know so well! (Pauses, grows quiet, looks over at Sandi, gets a reflective look on her face:) Ah, hell--now you've done it, Daria. I don't feel like going over there to throttle Sandi anymore, since I'm in too good a mood now over hearing this. (Daria releases a quiet, relieved sigh, then Jane smirks) I'll just have to wait until we're at Darren's to skew her. They'll be plenty of room to drag her carcass around. (Daria puts her hand up to her forehead, exasperated, then rests her elbow on the table, which causes Jane to cock an amused eyebrow) What?


Quinn and the Fashion Club were eating their breakfast that consisted of fruits, fat-free cereal, and whole-wheat muffins with what Quinn called "those tiny, cute little packs of low-fat margarine." They drank skim milk and bottled water, with a small glass of orange juice on the side. Stacy had once again been allowed to actually dominate the fashion-inspired conversation, this time about meeting Darren's friend's two sisters, Juanita and Laflita, and of "non-bulky, yet fashionable winter clothing". Stacy was having the time of her life, possibly the first time she did so around them all with her chattering, save for her constant droning about her (many) boyfriends. Tiffany simply nodded at Stacy's talking in agreement, only occasionally interjecting her "witty" (and slow) commentary about the latest styles in leg warmers for the winter. Quinn simply added a few fashion tidbits of her own to Stacy's and Tiffany's in between.

In reality, Quinn preferred to keep an eye privately on the behavior of Sandi, who, after casually waving off Stacy's attempts at getting Sandi's "permission" to discuss the previously mentioned articles of clothing (the permission "given" to Stacy by Sandi), had gone back to reading her book on fashion designers. However, Quinn noticed that Sandi kept looking over quietly in a nervous way in Jane's direction. Quinn glanced over at Jane, and took a strong note that Jane looked like she was ready to kill Sandi over the way Sandi was dressed "for" Darren. It appeared to Quinn that Jane hadn't calmed down at all since the flight had taken off. Quinn took a deep breath in relief when the stewardess had offered breakfast to them all at this point, for she could've sworn that she thought she saw Jane about to leap up and come over to where she and her friends were, but Daria had said something to her, and Jane stopped in her tracks. Though she and Daria had their sibling differences, Quinn had to admit that her cou--er, sister could just about quel--no, wait, diffu--no, stop any situation from turning really bad. You gotta bone up on studying to use better words, Quinn. I'm glad mom's gonna get me a tutor during school this fall. Quinn's thoughts were suddenly interrupted by Sandi, who spoke in her haughty voice as usual, but this time had a touch of nervousness in it, or so it seemed to Quinn.

SANDI: (Suddenly closes her book, which cuts Stacy off:) As president of the Fashion Club, I hearby call a fashion emergency.

STACY: (Starts to panic:) Oh, no! (Looks down at her clothes, what she wore in "Mart of Darkness", and before you ask, dear reader, Tiffany is also wearing the same clothing as in "Mart of Darkness". Only Sandi isn't.) I knew I shouldn't have worn this on the jet! It wrongly clashes with the jet's interior colors! Oh, what am I going to do?!

SANDI: (Rolls her eyes:) Staaacy! Starting to panic over the wrong color scheme on a plane during the flight is not fashionable! (Stacy becomes sheepish, quiets down) I'm, like, talking about something else, heeere!

TIFFANY: Sandi, is it because...you're going to...throw up because of...the plane ride, and...ruin your Gicadi? I think there's...a vomit bag in this seat...(reaches into the side pouch of her seat, pulls out a vomit bag)

SANDI: (Frowns at Tiffany:) Like, I told you, Tiffany, I don't get airsick! (Pauses:) Where did you get such an idea like that, anyway?

TIFFANY: (Confused--as if one could tell:) But, Quinn said...

QUINN: (Jumps in quickly, uneasy laugh:) Never mind that, Tiffany! Um, what's the "fashion emergency" about, Sandi?

SANDI: Well, I was uh, "observing" Jane Lane over there with Quinn's sister, DeAnne--I mean, Daria, and after some soul-searching, I hereby decided to declare that someone should set Jane straight on her fashion sense before she meets (pauses:) Darren. After all, since he is obviously now a well-known person of extraordinary wealth and thusly I assume similar fashion tastes, our fashion rules demand that Jane Lane should also reflect this since she is his (another pause:) girlfriend. I shall speak to her myself and take her to task for her improper attire. (Starts to get out of her seat)

QUINN: (Stunned, thought v.o.: Her "improper attire"? Ohmygosh, is Sandi serious about--she's like, going into the den of the squirrel--or is that lion?) Sandi, wait! (Sandi looks at her) Are--are you sure you wanna do this yourself? I mean, I can--

SANDI: (Cocks an eyebrow, cuts her off:) --Like, are you saying that I don't know how to tell the fashionably-ignorant how they should dress, Quh--inn? Perhaps I should allow you to become president of the Fashion Club, since I obviously can't seem to do so to you?

QUINN: (Slightly frantic, tries to play her off:) N-No, Sannndi! Of course you can do it! Um, I didn't want you to strain yourself, when you have sooo many other people who can talk to Jane!

Sandi stared hard at Quinn for a long moment with her eyes narrowed, her facial expression seeming to say, "I have to do this". Tiffany and Stacy looked at the two, then at each other. Quinn looked at Sandi in slow realization. She wants to talk to Jane privately. This is her way of doing it. Quinn then relented.

QUINN: Oh, uh, sure, Sandi. You're right, of course. (Sandi gives a curt nod, but Quinn also sees her give an ever-so-quick look that says, "thanks", then she makes her way over to Daria and Jane)

TIFFANY: I hope she...also talks to your...sister Quinn about her... glasses. They make her look...so fat...(Quinn and Stacy look at Tiffany like she's out of it--how can they tell the difference?)


Daria looked up from her book and saw Sandi coming over to them. It became all too clear to Daria that Sandi wanted Jane to kill her as quickly as possible, and get it over with. Oh well, I tried to keep Sandi alive as long as I could. Daria, you've done your yearly good deed. Jane, who was casually reading the newspaper Daria had brought with her, caught her look, saw Sandi, and began to frown again. Sandi came up to both girls, clearly trying to portray an air of bravado, which didn't impress Daria and Jane one bit, of course. Sandi took a quick, deep, breath, and spoke.

SANDI: (In as contrite a tone as you can imagine her to be in:) Like, ummm, Daria? May I speak with Jane, please--alone? It is of the upmost importance.

DARIA: (Starts to get up after staring up at Sandi for a moment:) I'll choose to do this because you've just impressed the hell out of me, Sandi. First, you said the "Magic Word". Second, you actually got my name right the first time. Third, you did the first two in a hell of a nice way, not that it'll do you any good, mind you, and fourth, you've come front and center to take your punishment like a woman. (Sandi frowns while Jane smirks) Jane, try and leave the bones, would you? I need a new collection in my room. (Sees Helen, deadpan:) I think I'll pay a call on my mom. She looks like she needs me to cheer her down some more. Ciao. (Leaves)

Jane motioned Sandi to sit down in Daria's spot across from her, which Sandi did, reluctantly.

JANE: (Stoic tone:) Okay, here's the deal: Have you made out your last will and testament, yet? If not, I have a pen on me, and you can write it out on this napkin, here. (Pushes one on the table toward her:) You have five minutes. They won't say that I wasn't a fair person after I'm arrested for killing you.

SANDI: (Cool tone:) Is that, like, supposed to be funny? If so, I'm not laughing, Jane.

JANE: (Scowls:) And do you think I'm busting a gut, here? (Narrows her eyes, gets straight to the point:) Why in the hell are you dressed like a whore, Sandi?

SANDI: (Through clenched teeth, indignant, red-faced:) A whor--hey! Like, this wasn't my idea! It was my mother's! I didn't want to dress like this, honest! I didn't even want to co--(stops herself, looks away)

Jane cocked a very arched eyebrow. Did she hear Sandi right?

JANE: (Suspiciously looks at Sandi, leans over, almost in a whisper:) Are you saying you didn't want to come with us, Sandi? Tell me you're joking.

SANDI: (Dead-serious look:) No, I'm not. (Jane looks at her, stunned) I tried to get out of coming, I really did, but my mother insisted that I go. (Frowns, crosses her arms:) I know you don't believe me, and to tell you the truth, I really don't care if you don't either way. I know you may think that I'm still pining for Darren--(Jane gives her a "duh" look) but, since I had to come, I've decided to turn my trip into a positive experience--

JANE: (Smirks:) --Oh, I'm "positive" you'll want to "experience" something all right--getting your claws into Darren.

SANDI: (Clenches her teeth in frustration, then holds up her book she brought with her:) Ooooh, look, you--you--art geek! This is what I'm talking about! (Jane cooly looks at the book) I'm going to learn how to be a fashion designer! I'll be, like, too busy to be around Darren! The Fashion Club has to meet Ms. Gunwald, and see Circa, and stuff!

JANE: (Snorts:) Riiiiight. Yeah, I'll bet you'll be "busy". Busy the moment you're alone with him, you'll make your move!

SANDI: (Narrows her eyes, under her breath:) You stupid-- (talks in a normal tone:) didn't I tell you my mother arranged all of this, Jane? (Jane ponders this) I know you can't stand her, and I know she, like, feels the same about you! I've been avoiding the press, and stuff, right? You know this?

JANE: (Slightly softer tone:) Yeah, yeah--Daria told me what the deal was with you telling them to "Go to hell" and everything, something even she had to admit was pretty gutsy for you--

SANDI: (Makes a face:) "Guts"? Ewwww! (Jane rolls her eyes, shakes her head slowly) And you also must remember about what happened that night in the-- (voice grows lower, looks away:) in the warehouse--(Jane now looks at Sandi quietly)

JANE: (After a moment, low voice:) Um, how can I forget that, and what you did? (Pauses, then gets a slightly shrewd look:) Okay, Sandi, I'll believe you on one condition--that you look me in the eye and tell me that you're really over Darren--period.

Sandi stared at Jane, wide-eyed for a second, then looked off for a moment, as if she were deep in thought. Jane cocked an intrigued eyebrow, privately moved by the incredible fact that Sandi Griffin could actually even consider thinking about something other than fashion. Sandi then spoke in a calm tone, sounding even determined.

SANDI: No. I'm not over Darren, Jane. Satisfied? (Jane says nothing, so Sandi continues) I still like him, but he seems to just like you, much to my disappointment. I've decided to accept this, and concentrate on getting his assistance on getting into the intern program at Circa like he's doing with Quinn. If you wish to beat me up, then that is something that I'm--(long pause:) willing to allow if it will put your mind at ease, though I certainly do not wish for you to do so, for the bruises on my face from your pummeling will prohibit me from using certain make-up techniques on my face. (Pauses as Jane ponders:) The choice is yours. (Sandi crosses her fingers under the table)

Jane now merely stared at Sandi in stunned silence, stumped by her admission over still liking Darren, and of willing to have her ass kicked by Jane. Jane then waved her hand at Sandi dismissively.

JANE: Ahhh, git. Scam. Vamoose. (Sandi stares at her, perplexed, Jane smacks her mouth, exasperated) Go on, girl, you're free to leave. I'm not gonna pound you.

SANDI: (Stunned, relieved inside:) You're--you're not going to--

JANE: --I said I wouldn't, capeesh? Other than being reminded and of seeing the crap your mom's doing, your admitting that you still were attracted to Darren clinched it for me. If you had said you weren't, then--(changes tone quickly, narrows eyes:) anyway, I still have the right to keep an eye on you while we're staying there, got it? Oh, and make sure you get some decent clothes to wear for the rest of the stay, okay?

SANDI: (Shrugs, slides out of her seat:) Like, don't worry. I have some "decent" clothes I secretly packed with me, unknown to my mother. (Pauses, smirks:) Oh, and Jane--?

JANE: (Looks at Sandi warily:) Yeah?

SANDI: (Haughty look:) I am flattered that you'd consider me to be a romantic threat to you and Darren's relationship. (Jane rolls her eyes) Obviously, I don't blame you for seeing me in that context because of my beauty, for it's happened several times before with me and other girls and their boyfriends, which resulted in me taking the boys. (Adds while Jane gives her a faux "No kidding?" look:) The difference here is that Darren is a genuinely nice person. I--wouldn't want to hurt him. (Jane's mouth drops, while Sandi cocks an eyebrow) He saw something in me. I think he believes that I can be anything I want to be. No guy's ever treated me so nicely before, with so much respect. (Frowns:) Not like my mo--(cuts herself off:) ahem. Anyway, I will ask you for one favor, Jane--

JANE: Will you, now? And this "favor" is--?

SANDI: (Makes a disgusted face:) Like, see if you can brush your teeth, or something. Having bits of food in your mouth when kissing your boyfriend is like, sooo unsanitary, and is considered to be unfashionable! (Shutters:) EWWW! (Leaves)

Jane watched Sandi go back over to her fashion friends, then shook her head slowly, smirking.

JANE: (Thought v.o.: Hell, the "Ice Queen" is thawing. Gotta give her credit for bravery.)(Frowns, another thought v.o.: Damn it, I gotta brush my teeth before I see Darren! Good thing I have a new toothbrush in my coat pocket that Trent didn't find. Geez--when Daria, then Sandi see the inside of my mouth and agree, something has gotta be done!) (Gets up, pulls out her toothbrush, goes to the lavatory in the plane's rear)


Sandi came back over to the Fashion Club and sat down beside Quinn, who had been watching the two talk while Stacy had resumed her chattering, and now had a very relieved look on her face because Sandi had "survived".

SANDI: (Haughty tone:) I think I set that Jane straight on her "fashion sense". (Glances at Quinn pointedly:) She, like, understands now. (Reads her book)

QUINN: (Smirks:) That's great, Sandi!

STACY: (Estatic:) Yeah! Maybe we can, like, get her to wear something different for (sighs dreamily:) Darren. I can see Jane in a tube dress--(adds quickly to Quinn, remembers the events we saw in the episode "Gifted":) um, right, Quinn? They are back, now--?

QUINN: (Rolls her eyes:) Yeah, Stacy, Waif says they're back in style for this month, and--

STACY: (Cuts her off, squeezes herself in delight:) --EEEE! I'm right about a fashion suggestion! I'm soooo happy! (Sandi looks up from her book and glares at her to "shut up", which Stacy does, making her voice grow lower:) Eep! Oh, uh, sorry, Sandi. (Looks away)

TIFFANY: I was thinking...we should see if...we could fit Jane...with something that won't...make her look...so fat...? (Quinn, Stacy, and even Sandi look at Tiffany, each privately wondering if she's really on something)


Daria had sat down across from her mother, who was still talking to the Lawndale Sun-Herald with an furious look and tone of voice. Daria decided to read her book while waiting for Helen to finish, which she did a few minutes later. She clicked off the phone angrily, and looked over at Daria, sighing, causing Daria to look up from her book.

HELEN: Those numbskulls at the Sun-Herald told me that I had to give a 72 hour notice before they could stop the paper from coming to our home. (Sneers:) "Standard policy", they said. Fortunately, when I twisted the screws to their asses, they came around to my point of view-- (frowns:) something that I wouldn't have had to have done if Jake had called them a few days ago.

DARIA: When their asses were "twisted" with your "screws", did they scream in agony? If so, why didn't I hear anything from their end of the line?

HELEN: (Cool look:) Very funny, Daria. Seriously, though, I think your father can sometimes do the dumbest things-- the paper, the cell-phone batteries, my being dragged into the terminal at the airport--

DARIA: (Thought v.o.: You "think" he "sometimes" can, Mom? How quaint.) --Look, Mom, in dad's defense, you gotta remember that he's very excited to see Darren again, like we all are. So he's even more goofier than usual this morning--whoopie-damn-doo. Maybe you should cut him some slack, and make up with him before we get to Darren's. I don't think it'll do Darren any good to see you guys snipe at one another while we're staying there, and not enjoying yourselves. (Motions over without looking at Jake, who now has dozed off in his seat, slumped back, with the TV still going and his earphones on:) I mean, look at him. He--(pauses when she sees him asleep:) he, um, needs you. (Thought v.o.: Perhaps for a pillow?)

Helen stared at her daughter for a brief moment and sighed. Sometimes, it amazed her how Daria could seem to be way beyond her years in maturity.

HELEN: (Small smile:) Very well, Daria. You're right. I'll talk to your father before we land, and we'll work this out. I wouldn't want your brother to be worried or upset, and it is our vacation. Now, I've also been re-thinking my position on that book-filled study at Darren's that you want to be in--(Daria cocks an eyebrow) I've decided to allow you to spend some time in there while we're at the mansion.

DARIA: How kind of you to reconsider, Mom. There goes my fiendishly diabolical plan to sneak in that study in the middle of the night to get some quick reading in. You've ruined all of my careful scheming, and made me waste all that time for nothing. I'll have to rip up my blueprints, now. Damn, you're good. (Helen rolls her eyes) May I ask what catastrophic event happened to make you change your mind?

HELEN: Two events, actually--the first was my allowing Quinn to get a new "power suit" for when she and her friends meet this Ms. Gunwald--

DARIA: (Jumps in:) --You held out on Quinn's incessant whining to get some new clothes after you laid down the law only just yesterday, and told her she wasn't going to get anything as punishment for seeing those boys. It's a new record of holding out from Quinn's demands for you, Mom. You should pat yourself on the back.

HELEN: (Frowns:) That's enough out of you, young lady. Don't make me regret changing my mind. (Now smirks:) The other reason was your seeing Tom. (Daria's eyes grow big) I thought that would get your attention.

DARIA: (For once, caught off guard:) Uh--what exactly do you mean about Tom, Mom? He's just--

HELEN: (Still smirks, she has Daria on the defensive, a rare thing, and is not going to let her off the hook:) --A "friend", Daria? Please. I wasn't going to say anything, but I saw you two at the "Mr. Fun Time's" arcade, one of your little "hangouts" I believe, talking to each other and playing games while looking to spend some time with you about a week ago. (Daria now looks red-faced) The way you two were talking to each other, I could see that you enjoyed Tom's company, and he your's. I decided not to disturb your little "get-together", and left. (Smiles:) There's also the matter of what happened at the airport with the way Jane looked after you and Tom had apparently done something. I suspected something was up. If it is what I think it is, I figured that seeing someone like Tom would get you over and away from that anti-social "shell" you've been in, and so I believed I could award you by letting you into Darren's study, though I still want you to go off at least one day out and about from his mansion. (Narrows her eyes:) Are you seeing Tom, sweetie?

DARIA: (Thought v.o.: Quinn will die a slow, painful death for her betrayal over the arcade after she promised she wouldn't tell Mom, after my little "bribe" [Mom must've given her more to find out], the same for Jane with her "telling expression".) (Sighs:) Fine. Okay. You'll find out later anyway, so I might as well get it out front and center. (Pauses:) Tom and I--kissed each other before you and dad came up, and Jane saw it. (Another long pause, Helen grins, estatic look:) Yeah, we're attracted to one another. (Helen now looks delighted, gasps) Now, don't go and get sappy on me, Mom.

HELEN: (Looks as if she's about to cry, reaches over the table, holds Daria's hand, which makes her daughter squirm, and look around quickly:) O-Oh, Daria, that's wonderful! My little girl's growing up!

DARIA: (Uncomfortable, thought v.o.: More like throwing up over this "lovey-dovey" tripe.:) Yeah, um, okay, fine. I am humiliated beyond belief, Mom. Could you just get over your gushing quick, and we go on about our business, please?

HELEN: (Wipes away a tiny stray tear:) All right, Daria, I won't "embarass" you anymore. I'm just so happy for you. I'm sure your father will be happy as well, the same for Quinn and Darren. (Daria puts her hand on her forehead, exasperated, which Helen takes note of:) Look, dear, if you want to tell your sister and brother yourself, then I won't say anything to them, but as you yourself said, they'll find out about it eventually. I do, however, plan to tell your father.

DARIA: (Under her breath:) Yeahwellokaythanks.

HELEN: (Takes a deep breath, changes tone:) Fine, sweetie. (Looks at where Daria and Jane sat:) I saw that Sandi Griffin went over to talk to Jane while I was on the phone, and you came over here. (Frowns:) I was planning on speaking to Sandi about why she was dressed that way, (under her breath:) more than likely, Linda having something to do with it, I'm sure, to entice Darren to her daughter, (resumes normal tone:) but Jane beat me to it.

DARIA: (Looks back at where she and Jane sat like Helen, then at the Fashion Club:) It's a wonder that Jane didn't beat Sandi into it--the floor, that is. I was so into my book, I didn't notice they had finished their little discussion. There was no screaming, and Sandi's face looks bruise and blood-free, so I'm guessing everything's turned out alright (thought v.o.: unless Jane's decided to let Sandi sweat it out.). I don't see Jane, so I'm assuming that she's using the john--(pauses:) unless she somehow or another jumped out of the jet without us noticing. I wouldn't put anything past Jane, you know.

HELEN: (Frowns again, ignoring Daria's comment:) It had better be "alright" with Jane and Sandi. I like Jane, and I'd hate for Sandi to try and come between her and your brother. The thought of Sandi being a possible daughter-in-law would be (shudders:) terrifying.

DARIA: (Starts to get up:) You and me both, Mom, and I can say Quinn would need to be rehabilitated by a mental institution if that ever happened. (Adds:) Like she needs to be now. (Helen glares at her for an instant) I'll talk to Jane, and find out what transpired. (Sees a "just-refreshed" Jane coming out of the jet's lavatory in the rear) Oh, there she is. Looks like they'll be no skydiving today. Maybe I can persuade Quinn and her buddies to take up the slack. (Leaves as Helen shakes her head slowly)

Helen then looked over again at the now-snoring Jake, got up, and went over to talk to him. She turned off the TV, sat across from him, and gently nudged his arm. Jake awoke to the face of a softly smiling Helen, and after a moment of frowning at her gentle smile in confusion, began to get a big grin on his face. Jake took off his earphones, and listened to his wife's apologies.


(The scene changes to the Appleton estate, in the front, about an hour later)

Earlier, Darren had called the jet in mid-flight to check on Jane, his birth family, and Quinn's friends, finding out that everything was fine. Relieved, he then turned his attention to the scrambling staff of the mansion, making sure everything was as perfect as possible for the arrival. He was standing in the foyer talking to Curtis, having just found out via his cell phone that the jet had landed at the Maness airport, and that they were all on their way via the two limos he had sent them. Darren was nervously about to go out in the courtyard to await their arrival, when Juanita and Laflita came in noisily from the family room, giggling. They wore two different ensembles of "skorts" and sandals, with Juanita wearing a white one, and Laflita a lime one. (Note to reader: Envision two cartoon versions that look similar to a younger Tia and Tamera Mowry of the TV series "Sister, Sister", and you have Juanita and Laflita Watley. That's right--they're twins.) Curtis rolled his eyes when he saw his sisters, while Darren smirked at his friend's predicament.

JUANITA: (Sounding like the actress/singer Brandi:) Darren, has your sister Quinn and her friends come yet?

CURTIS: (Annoyed, jumps in before Darren can say something:) Do you see them here, yet, Juanita? (Pauses:) And Darren does have his family and his girlfriend Jane coming, too! This is the fourth time you two have asked in the past 15 minutes!

JUANITA: (Frowns:) Yo, what's your problem, bro? I was just asking!

LAFLITA: (Ditto with the frown and her sounding like Brandi:) Yeah, like, why don't you chill out? Besides, Juanita was asking Darren, not you!

DARREN: (Now speaks before Curtis says something:) They're on their way, and will be here in a few minutes. (Juanita and Laflita look at each other, get very excited) We're going out into the courtyard to receive them now, and-- (both girls suddenly rush out the front door, leaving it open) you-can-join-us--?

CURTIS: (Through clenched teeth while walking out into the courtyard with Darren:) Yeah, I just loooove having two annoying twin sisters, Darren, love it to death. (Darren snickers, which Curtis notices) Oh, you think that's funny, huh? We'll see what happens when you have your two sisters worry you into an early grave.

DARREN: C'mon, Curtis, both of your sisters are just eager to see Quinn and her friends. After all, they seem to have more in common with each other than with Jane, Daria and my birth parents. It's only natural that Juanita and Laflita would gravitate towards Quinn and her "Fashion Club" friends--

CURTIS: (Surly:) --And I'll be happy when those two "gravitate" away from me for awhile. (Changes tone, notices:) Looks like the gang's all here--it's just about showtime.


Darren and Curtis walked out into the bright, late-morning light in front of the mansion via the flower-covered circular courtyard, where they saw Millie and Edward arm-in-arm, waiting beside Laflita and Juanita. Beside them, Claude and two other butlers were standing and talking casually. Elenor, Fiona, and another maid were doing the same. Across from them, Henri the chef and five other men, presumably the lawn gardeners, talked. Off to the side, a burly, serious-looking woman, (think of an older version of the wrestler Chyna from the WWF) dressed in a coat and tie, and wearing sunglasses, was talking on a walkie-talkie. This was Tina Rollins, head of the mansion's security team, which numbered about 12 men and 5 women. She was very well-respected around the grounds security-wise, having been a former Secret Service agent, one of the few women who had been on the President's "A" team security detail, which protected him wherever he went outside the White House. She had tired of the stress of protecting the Chief Executive, and of the pay, which did not justify to her the "glamourous" side of her job. She had decided to take early retirement. However, she became interested in a job at the Appleton estate when an opening had been made for a new head of security, with far better pay, and considerably lower stress. That had been four years ago, and she never regretted it since. Tina had considered it to be a challenge to re-do the security measures on the grounds, and she also had been instrumental at keeping the media at bay during the recent tragedies around the mansion.

It galled her to the core when that "ass" (to her) William Appleton, who she couldn't stand personally (no one on the mansion's staff could, of course), had done such a despicable act in plotting the killing of his own brother and sister-in-law, and even more so, almost killing Darren Appleton in this "Lawndale" place. She had been "out of position" when she heard of the killings of Darren's parents, having been out West on the Appleton's ranch in New Mexico, checking out security arrangements. Tina promptly rushed out to Colorado to find out exactly what happened, only to be called back out to the ranch by the frigid William Appleton, who told her that "You couldn't do anything, anyway." He almost didn't allow her to come to the Appleton's funeral, but a last-second intervention by a miffed Darren and Lucille, who didn't know she wasn't allowed to come by William, got her there. Tina had never tried to develop a personal relationship with the people she protected, but the kindness of both of the Appletons, their son, and Lucille Appleton softened her a tad. Just a tad, mind you. Besides knowing several forms of martial arts (she had practiced with Darren numerous times, laying him out on the mat, save for once when he got in a "lucky" kick), she had a don't-mess-with-me-attitude that gave her plenty of leeway. Darren obviously thought of her highly, and she him, something very rare for her, primarily because of the martial arts sessions. Both were on a first-name basis as a result of the sessions, and Tina was the only one of the mansion's staff who called Darren "Darren", as opposed to "Master Darren". In a way, Tina saw Darren as something of a protege, as well as her employer. Darren saw Tina as something akin to a very mild version of a sensi, though it was not the sensi that he had taken his martial arts lessons from.

On the other hand, Tina didn't quite think of Curtis in that context, and the feeling in return was more than mutual. Curtis felt Tina was too serious when it came to doing her job, almost something like the Gestapo, he told Darren once on the side. It all began the first time Tina and Curtis met, when Curtis came to the mansion one day to see Darren. It was Tina's first day, and she saw Curtis when he came up to the gate, pushing it aside after somehow (to her, at least) punching in the security code pad's buttons. Tina, who had rode up to the gate in a golf cart, got off and confronted him, wanting to see his "credentials" before he could come in. Curtis immediately replied that he had been here many times, hence his knowing the estate's private code, and he didn't need any "credentials" to get in. He simply walked by her, to which he promptly found himself flat-out on his back. It was only through Darren and his father's attempts at calming an angry Curtis' claims of racism that kept him from seriously considering filing a lawsuit aginst her. Tina was just as adamant, insisting that Curtis ignored her when he attempted to walk by her because she was doing her job. She maintained that if he had simply waited for her to call up to the mansion to check, all would've been fine. Since then, the two had at best a strained relationship (despite Darren's attempts at making peace between the two), with the only thing keeping the two civil to one another was by Darren.

Recently, however, both decided to try and curve their animosity for the time being because of what Darren had been, and was going through. There was no need to add to his woes, and to his anxiety over his family and girlfirend visiting. Darren and Curtis came up to Tina.

DARREN: How's everything, Tina?

TINA: (In a tone that matches her appearance:) It's fine so far, Darren. Security reports they'll be here in ten minutes. When the jet landed, there was a crowd from the media waiting there for them at the airport. Fortunately, we had the limos waiting to take them all directly from the plane, along with their belongings, though I think your sister Quinn tried to talk to the media, but your mo--er, birth mother Helen Morgendorffer stopped her. There are some reporters waiting outside the gates. We'll let your birth family, Quinn's friends, and Jane Lane in the moment the limos get to the gates. Too bad we can't stop the media from taking pictures, huh?

DARREN: (Shrugs:) I guess. (Sighs:) Good work, Tina.

CURTIS: (Smirks:) Yeah, good work, Xena. (Tina mildly scowls at him through her sunglasses, while Darren looks at him, exasperated) Sorry. Force of habit.

TINA: (Smirks herself now:) It's okay, Curtis. At least we don't have to worry about any of those reporters trying to get in now, like when some tried to infiltrate the staff and attempted to find out where Darren was when he was seeing his birth family. (Adds:) After I put one out on his (exaggerates the word:) back, they didn't try that again. (Curtis scowls this time while Darren looks at Tina evenly:) Ooops. Sorry. Force of habit. (Darren simply looks between the two for a moment wordlessly, shakes his head slowly, then goes back to the rest of the staff. Curtis and Tina stare at each other for an instant more stoically, then Curtis follows Darren, and Tina walks off in the opposite direction while talking on her walkie-talkie again.)


(Scene changes to the first of two limos, about five miles from the Appleton mansion)

Daria, Jane, Helen, and Jake sat in the rear of the long luxurious limo, with Daria and Jane sitting in the very rear seat, which was separated by a compartment from the "front" rear seat, where Helen and Jake sat. Jane was putting lipstick on while looking at a compact, which Daria, who was finishing her book, cocked an eyebrow to.

DARIA: Where in the hell did you get that, Jane?

JANE: (While puckering her lips in the compact:) Eh? What? This? Would you believe Quinn? She used to use it, but claimed that she wore it out, and got a new one. I saw it, asked for it, and she gave it to me. (Daria stares at her some more, and Jane shrugs) So I liked the "worn" look of it, so what?

DARIA: Aren't you afraid of possible "shallow" germs contaminating you?

JANE: (Finishes with the compact, which she puts in her coat pocket:) Nah. This compact's "germs" are long gone, amiga. It's barren, now. (Faux looks off into space, in a stoic tone:) Cold, dead, abandoned--

DARIA: --I get the point. I guess you're preparing for a little lip-lock, huh?

JANE: (Smirks:) Damn straight. I'm gonna rock Darren's world!

DARIA: (Looks prudish, and out of the window, slightly red-faced:) If that's the case, then stop it, I want to get off.

JANE: (In her "Delores" tone:) Sure ya do, kid. (Grins:) Did you rock Tom's world with your little lip-lock, or did he your's?

DARIA: (Now very red-faced at the memory:) Um, I uh, was kind of worried more about my little plot of land than the world, Jane--

JANE: (Chuckles, mock tone:) Uh-huh--well, did he turn up the earth on your little "plot" of land, dear?

DARIA: (Slight smile:) Well, it was--(pauses:) nice. Really nice.

JANE: (Quiet tone now:) That's great, Daria. Tom's a really good guy. I'm glad you guys got together. I know I shouldn't bring back up what happened with you know, (hesitates:) the hair-dye stuff and everything, but when I go back on it now, I really acted like a complete jerk. (Daria's about to say something, but Jane cuts her off:) No, wait, lemme finish, okay? I'm sorry, amiga. Really damn sorry for thinking you and Tom could make out, and you having some sort of attraction to him then, even though I reeeeally believed a tiny something was there. (Daria looks uncomfortable now) I mean, I have a great guy now in your brother, and I want you to be happy like I am.

DARIA: (After a moment:) Jane, I--look, there's something I want to talk to you about immediately once we get settled in at Darren's, okay?

JANE: (Looks at Daria evenly:) Does this have something to do with what you and Tom "almost" did a certain night you came from my house? You know, about your "conscience"? If it does, then it's cool, really. You don't have to--

DARIA: (Looks miserable now--think how she looked when she wanted to talk to Helen in "Partner's Complaint":) Jane, please. I have to do this. Just bear with me on this, okay?

JANE: Uh, sure, okay.


In the "front" rear seat Jake and Helen sat, drinking some champagne provided for them by Darren. Jake had his arm around Helen, grinning. Helen had her head on his shoulder, looking out the window quietly.

JAKE: (Excited:) We're just about there, honey! (Chugs down his champagne)

HELEN: (Sighs:) Yes, we're just about there, Jakey.

JAKE: (Now concerned:) Huh? What's wrong, honey? (Becomes worried:) Geez, I said I was sorry for those cops mishandling you and--

HELEN: (Rolls her eyes:) --No, no, that's not it, Jakey. I was--I was wondering if Darren really needed us for anything. I mean, our son's a multi-billionaire! He can buy anything he needs! What can we possibly do for him? We barely know him! Where in the hell can we start with him?

JAKE: (After a moment:) Well, uh, maybe that's just the point, Helen. (Helen looks at Jake thoughtfully) This visit is to really get to know our son, and his friends, and his thoughts, and his dreams. If he didn't need us in some fashion, I doubt we'd even be here at all.

Helen gave a small smile to her husband, then leaned over and kissed him.

JAKE: WOW! What was that for, honey? Did I do something right?

HELEN: (Tries not to cry:) Yes, honey, you did--you restored my slightly wavering reason in wanting to see our son. I now remember why we're here. Thank you.

JAKE: (Delighted:) Gosh, you're welcome, honey! (Looks up, shakes fist:) How'd you like that, Old Man?! Ol' Jakey did something right for a change! HAH!


In the second limo, the Fashion Club sat, chatting about the visit. Sandi continued to read her fashion designer book, while Quinn had seized control of the conversation, excited.

QUINN: --Oooh, and I heard that the Cashman's on Park Avenue is sooo huge! I can't wait to lose myself in there!

STACY: (Giggles:) Yeah! It's got a gigantic shoe section, too! I'm gonna buy me a million pairs of those "Pantamine" loafers! They're so cute!

TIFFANY: But will you have...enough money to get...that many shoes, Stacy...?

QUINN: (Chuckles:) Oh, she was just exaggerating, Tiffany. Nobody can afford to buy that many pairs of shoes.

STACY: Well, uh, when you think about it, Quinn, Darren can. (Everybody looks at Stacy, even Sandi) Eep!

QUINN: (After a moment, rolls her eyes:) Oh, Stacy, I'd never pester my brother to buy me anything, no matter how rich he is. I don't think of him as some sort of (frowns:) "bank", like Daria seems to think, and stuff.

SANDI: (Cocks a knowing eyebrow, smirks, sarcastic:) Of course you won't, Quinn. I mean, you never did that with any of your rich dates, am I right? (Quinn looks uncomfortable) Why should your rich brother be any different? (Goes back to her book)

STACY: (Confused look:) But, didn't Quinn make Skyler buy her that silk--(Quinn glares at her) eep again! Sorry!

QUINN: (Quick sigh:) Okay, fine! Yeah, I got some stuff from some guys, but Darren's my bro, and that's it, nothing more! Now, can we drop the freakin' subject, okay?! (Crosses her arms, pouts)

SANDI: (Smirks while reading:) Whatever you say, Quinn. The subject is closed. Right, everyone?

STACY: (Falls all over herself:) Oh, most definitely, Sandi. Right, Tiffany?

TIFFANY: Riiiight.

QUINN: (Curtly:) Good. (Looks out the window, gives a quiet sigh)


The two limos came up to the gates, and several reporters came up to them, surrounding both of the limos while shouting questions, and talking pictures. The estate's security and local sheriffs and police came up and held them back while the gates slowly opened, then both limos drove in. Daria looked out on her side of the limo and at the distant mansion, which sat on a freshly cut hill of deep green grass surrounded by what must have been several hundred trees and flowers.

Then there was the mansion itself. The TV and magazines she had watched and read about it did it no justice in person. It was magnificent and huge in appearance, like a French chateau. It consisted of two stories of a grey-colored brick mostly, and was built in a U-shape. The pitch of the roof was of a mansard design over the entire structure, and almost a charcoal-colored black. Daria looked over at Jane, who could only look at the sight on her side of the limo with her mouth agape. Daria smirked. At least she's got a clean mouth to do that now.


Darren took a deep breath as the limos came into the red brick-covered courtyard, with Curtis giving him a final, reassuring pat on the back, then Darren stepped forward, while the staff suddenly stood rigidly and beside each other, like they were expecting a general to come by to inspect his troops. The limos stopped, and the two chauffers got out of each one, opening the doors. Immediately, Helen got out before anyone, and rushed over to hug her son, almost sobbing.

HELEN: Oh, son! It's so good to see you again!

DARREN: (Grins:) It's good to see you too--Helen. (Helen says nothing, though she feels slightly disappointed, continues to hug her son as Jake comes up, and Helen releases him)

JAKE: (Hugs his son in an iron-like grip, sobs:) MY SON! MY ONLY SON! How ya doin', Big Guy?

DARREN: (Tries to breathe and talk at the same time, laughs:) I'm--doing--okay--Jake. Can--you--ease--up--a--bit--please? (Jake releases him, laughing, and Darren takes a deep breath:) Thanks.

His reprieve lasted only briefly as an excited Quinn ran over, and had him in her iron grip.

QUINN: (Leans her head on his chest:) DARREN!

DARREN: (Smiles:) Ah, my baby sister!

DARIA: (Deadpan:) I have her pacifier in here, somewhere...(pretends to reach into her pockets while the mansion's staff snickers)

DARREN: How are you doing, sis?

QUINN: (Giggles:) I'm fine, bro--

DARIA: (Leans over, whispers to Elenor and Fiona:) We give her the customary 3 a.m. feedings, but I absolutely draw the line at diaper changes. (Elenor and Fiona try to control their laughter by covering their mouths, while Helen, who catches the tail end of Daria's crack, frowns at her, annoyed)

HELEN: Daria, why don't you greet your brother?

DARIA: (Slightly red-faced:) Um, he hasn't finished with baby Quinn yet, Mom. Maybe I'll do so after he gives her a lollipop. (Claude tries to hold it in, but he can't, and laughs out loud with Henri and Curtis)

HELEN: (Slightly embarassed, through clenched teeth:) Daaaria--

Darren took the initiative, releasing Quinn, and going up to his other sister, grinning.

DARREN: (Quietly:) Hey, sis.

DARIA: (Small smile:) Bro. (Quickly gives him a fast hug, and releases him. Darren chuckles for a moment, but decides not to press the issue anymore--at least for now)

DARREN: (Begins to turn around:) Where's Ja--MMMFF!

Jane had Darren in a very deep smooch, with her arms under his, and had pulled his head down to hers. After a second, he put his arms around her back, and returned the kiss in kind. To a smirking Daria, it almost looked like the same kiss Jane had given to him that night in the Zen. She wondered how Tom would react to something like that briefly, then put it out of her mind--for now. Helen and Jake looked at the scene red-faced, and slightly embarassed. Millie looked at it wide-eyed, while Edward gave an awed expression. Curtis smirked, secretly wishing he could be kissing his girlfriend Lena like that. Sandi watched the scene for a second, then looked quietly away, red-faced. Quinn, after gagging for an instant, noticed her, and felt sympathy for Sandi. Stacy just watched it dreamily, wishing some guy could kiss her like that. Tiffany just stared at the scene in her stony state, while Fiona sighed quietly, seeing any hopes she may have had dashed. Elenor gave a shocked look, shaking her head slowly with her fingers lightly on her mouth. Henri merely nodded his head slowly and smirked, remembering the times he and an old girlfriend were in Paris at one time long ago. Tina came up, observed for a moment, shrugged, then went back to her walkie-talkie, walking away. Laflita and Juanita giggled, then went over to the Fashion Club.

After about a minute, the two finally came up for "air". Jane smirked wickedly.

JANE: How was that for a welcoming "gift", Darren?

DARREN: (Tries to catch his breath:) Oh--it--was--great, Jane, yes, very--great. (Looks around dizzily:) Who are you people?

CURTIS: (Comes up, smirks:) Why, I'm the Tooth Fairy, and you're my assistant, Cavity. (Daria and Jane smirk at this)

DARREN: (Still in a slight daze:) Hello, Cavity. (Jane grins while Daria rolls her eyes)

DARIA: (Shakes hands with him:) You must be Curtis. Hello.

CURTIS: Yeah, hey, you're the Daria Morgendorffer. (Looks at Jane, shakes her hand:) And you're the Jane Lane.

JANE: Howdy, Curtis. We're the real deal, alright. (Gasps:) Don't tell me that the duplicate Daria and Jane tried to slip in here and claim they were the real ones? Damn cloning machine--damn, damn, DAMN cloning machine! I should've known those scientists wouldn't stop with the sheep! (Curtis laughs)

DARIA: (Deadpan:) The sheep were only the beginning, Jane. Soon, we'll conquer the world with our cloning techniques.

DARREN: (Now out of his daze:) Eh? Oh, er, yes, I should introduce you all to everyone else here--

DARIA: (Looks off in that general direction:) --Too late, bro. While you were off in la-la land, that initiative's been taken.


Helen and Jake had walked over to meet Millie and Edward.

HELEN: (In her falsetto voice while shaking Millie's hand:) Hellooo, Millie. It's good to see you again.

MILLIE: (Sounding slightly subdued:) Hello, Helen, and likewise, though I hope it'll be far better than the last time I met you in Lawndale following, (voice lowers:) you know--

HELEN: (Understanding tone:) --Yes, of course, Millie. I certainly expect that it'll be much better this go-around, and we'll be able to talk about my son. (Millie smiles weakly)

JAKE: Hey there, Millie! (Looks around while shaking her hand:) Wow! This place is huge! (Clicks his mouth, winks:) I bet if a fella got lost out there in the woods, you'd have a hell of a time gettin' him back, am I right?

MILLIE: (Looks uneasy while Edward chuckles, and Helen covers her forehead, embarassed:) Um, yes, Jake, I suppose one could get lost out there if they went off the trails. (Quickly pushes Edward forward, and he shakes Helen and Jake's hands:) Ah, this is my beau, Edward White. He came in last night from Europe, wanting to meet you all.

JAKE: Gosh, he did? Hey there, Edward! Ya play any golf?

EDWARD: Yes, actually, I do a little--

JAKE: --Good! Me and Darren are gonna play some tomorrow morning! You wanna come with us?

HELEN: Jake, perhaps Edward doesn't want to--

JAKE: (Frowns:) --C'mon, honey! I'm on a damn vacation, and if Edward here can play golf, then he should have the right to come with us! How about it, "Eddie"?

EDWARD: Well, only if Darren wants me to--

JAKE: (Waves him off:) --Naaah! Darren'll love it! It's a date, then! 7:00 a.m. tomorrow morning, bright and early, okay?

EDWARD: (After a quick glance at Millie:) Very well, old chum. It's a um, "date".

JAKE: (Delighted:) ALRIGHT! (Narrows eyes:) Hey, your accent sounds kinda familiar. It wouldn't be Canadian, would it? (Helen rolls her eyes, while Millie giggles quietly to herself, and Edward merely stares at Jake, flabbergasted)


The Fashion Club were becoming familiar with Juanita and Laflita.

SANDI: (Haughty voice, in a drone, as if she has done this before, and she probably has:) I am Sandi Griffin, president of the Fashion Club of Lawndale High school. As the official spokesperson for our group of fashion experts, let me say that it is an honor to be here with you to exchange fashion ideas and friendship. (Looks at the way both girls are dressed:) Obviously, you two know your fashion sense of dressing. Most impressive. In closing, I would also wish to say that I hope this is the start of a fashion-inspired relationship that will flourish for years to come.

Juanita and Laflita cocked strange eyebrows at Sandi, and looked at each other for a moment.

LAFLITA: Uhhh, sure, oookay. I'm Laflita Watley, and this is my twin sister, Juanita.

JUANITA: What's up?

QUINN: Hey, I'm Quinn Morgendorffer, the vice-president.

STACY: (Chipper tone:) Hi! I'm Stacy Rowe, the secretary! Oooh, you both look so cuuuute dressed like that! Where can I get those "skort" outfits?

LAFLITA: (Looks uneasily at Juanita and vice-versa:) Well, ahh, we got them from Cashman's of Park Avenue, and--

STACY: (Wildly excited:) EEEE! (Juanita and Laflita flinch) You went to the Park Avenue world headquarters of Cashman's?! OhmyGodOhmyGodOh-my-GOD! (Juanita and Laflita stare at Stacy, slightly nervous)

TIFFANY: I'm Tiffany Blum-deckler the...treasurer. You two look...exactly alike. You wouldn't be twins, ...would you?

JUANITA: ("Duh" expression, while Quinn and Sandi roll their eyes:) Yeah, I think we are, Tiffany. Twins kind of look alike most of the time.

TIFFANY: Oh...yeah...

SANDI: Ahem. Do you have a fashion club at your high school, Juanita?

LAFLITA: I'm Laflita. You can tell me from Juanita by the lime "skort" I'm wearing, and no, we don't. We were hoping you guys could help us put one together at the school we go to, the Orbison Academy.

QUINN: (Gasps:) Where my brother went? I wonder why he didn't say so while he stayed with us? You poor girls!

SANDI: Don't worry, you've come to the right people to help you get started. By the time we're finished, you'll have the top fashion teen group in your area. In fact, it will be the envy of them all! When do you wish to get started?

JUANITA: Would tomorrow be too soon?

SANDI: (Smirks:) Tomorrow will be perfect. (They all shake hands again)


Darren took Curtis, followed by Daria and Jane, over to meet Helen and Jake, who were still talking to Millie and Edward.

DARREN: Curtis, these are my birth parents, Helen and Jake Morgendorffer. Helen, Jake, this is my best friend, Curtis Watley.

CURTIS: (Shakes hands with Helen and Jake:) Pleased to finally meet you two. Darren's told me how wonderful you guys were to him while he stayed with you. It's a pleasure.

HELEN: (Smiles:) And it's a pleasure to meet you, too, Curtis. Darren's told us about you, as well. How long have you two known each other?

CURTIS: About five years, Mrs. Morgendorffer.

HELEN: Please, call me Helen. (Though v.o., mental, resigned sigh: My son does, so why not you?)

CURTIS: Sure, uh, Helen.

JAKE: (Wildly puts up his hand, which makes Curtis flinch:) Curtis, my man! You can call me "Jake"! (Slaps his hand with Curtis', tries miserably to do a "cool handshake", with his tongue out:) What's aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhuuup? (Curtis looks totally dumbfounded, wide-eyed, while Helen closes her eyes, looks down, exasperated. Darren, Millie, and Edward try and hold back their laughter [along with the mansion's staff, who are watching], and Daria and Jane smirk at each other)

CURTIS: (While trying to untangle his fingers from Jake's:) Uh, okay, Jake.

JAKE: Do you play golf, Curtis? Me, Darren, and Edward are gonna go out on the links tomorrow mornin'! (Darren cocks a slight, surprised eyebrow, which only Millie and Daria notice) How about it? We'll play a foursome!

CURTIS: (Now rubs his fingers:) I've played a little, but I'm going to be pretty busy tomorrow. Maybe some other time, Jake.

DARREN: Uh, let me introduce you all to the mansion's staff. (Takes them all to the servants, while the F.C. comes up from behind the Morgendorffers:) This is our head maid, Elenor.

ELENOR: (Curtsys with Fiona and the other maid:) Hello. We're honored to finally meet you all.

DARIA: (Whispers to Jane:) Poor, deluded, women. They don't know what they're in for. (Jane snickers)

DARREN: (Who's standing by Daria, overhears, smirks, whispers back:) Oh, yes, they do know, all of them. In fact, I made sure of that. You won't catch them off-guard. (Daria and Jane snap their fingers in mock frustration, mouth "damn", Darren chuckles while turning to Claude, normal voice:) This is our head butler, Claude.

CLAUDE: (Bows with the other two butlers:) Charmed.

DARREN: This is Henri, our chef. If you want anything to eat, he's the fellow to go to.

HENRI: (Bows:) Hallo. Eet ees a pleasure to meet you.

QUINN: (Comes up, awed:) Are you a real French chef?

HENRI: (Smiles:) Oui, madmoiselle Quinn.

DARIA: (Deadpan:) And just think, sis, he has a real French accent too--(sneers:) unlike the waiters at Chez Pierre. (Quinn glares at her, while Darren remembers his "date" with Quinn there, and what happened, gives a slight smirk)

SANDI: (Whispers to Stacy:) What is Dariah--I mean, Daria talking about? Chez Pierre has real French waiters--(pauses, frowns:) don't they?

STACY: (Panicking, whispers back:) S-Sure they d-do, Sandi! T-They've got to have them!

TIFFANY: (Ditto, if one can tell:) Yeah, we'd know...if it wasn't, right?

SANDI: (Curt nod:) Of course we'd know, Tiffany. (Adds:) Still, perhaps we should investigate this matter to make absolutely sure when we return to Lawndale. It would be distressing to find out if the impossible had occurred, for it would be most unfashionable to go to a place that was not authentic. Stacy, make a note of this. (Stacy gets out her pad from her mini-purse, begins to write frantically)

Darren introduced the other members of the staff save for Tina, who had gone elsewhere on the grounds. Millie began to lead everyone into the mansion for a tour, while the servants went back to their duties. Darren caught a glance of Sandi just as they went into the foyer, and went over to her. Jane, following Daria into the family room, saw the scene, and stopped, watching carefully. Daria looked behind her, followed Jane's view, and stopped as well.

DARREN: (Smiles:) Hello, Sandi. How are you doing? I didn't get to meet you and the rest of the Fashion Club when you came in.

SANDI: (Red-faced, slight smile:) Um, uh, hi, Darren. I'm--fine. I guess, like, they'll be plenty of time for you to talk to Tiffany and Stacy, while we're here, huh? (Sees Jane, in a hurried tone:) Er, I'd better catch up to the others. See you later. (Leaves quickly into the family room)

Darren looked after her for a moment with a slight frown, perplexed. Jane came up to him with Daria, and hooked her arm with his.

DARREN: Did Sandi appear alright to you two? She seemed to have a--strained out look somewhat.

DARIA: (Gives Jane a quick smirk, speaks before she can:) At least Darren's eyes weren't "strained out", huh, Jane? (Jane rolls her eyes)

DARREN: (Confused look:) Huh? What're you talking about, Daria?

JANE: (Smirks:) Daria's just being a wise-ass, Darren--as usual. She's having PMS problems. (Daria glares at her while Darren looks between the two, slightly red-faced) We'll tell you about it later. (Brightens tone quickly, mock tone:) Now, how about that tour, dearie?

DARREN: (After a moment:) Uhh, suure. (Starts walking into the family room with the two:) Wait'll you two see your bedrooms. I guarantee you'll adore them.

DARIA: As long as it's in the wing opposite of Quinn and her fashion posse, it's fine by me. (Small smile:) Oh, and I want to get to that book-filled study as soon as possible. Keats awaits for my viewing pleasure.

JANE: (Grins:) Yeah, and you can show me your artwork! (Darren grows pale) I can't wait to see it!

Curtis, who had been waiting just inside the family room for them with the others, overheard Jane's remark, and chuckled. Darren saw him, and mock-glared.

DARREN: Not--one--word--Curtis. Not--one--word.

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