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Chapter 6 - Weekday Wrap-up: Part One
(Note to the reader: The last four closing chapters will deal with the rest of the week the Morgendorffers, Jane, and the Fashion Club are staying at the Appleton estate. Each day will be addressed until their departure. Heh--makes you wonder if I wrote this story kind of backwards, huh? Anyway, I'll warn you: these four chapters (which are so large, I will divide into parts) will be very long closing chapters, with some days "longer" than others, and if either gets too long for you to finish reading [You're a brave soul if you can], I suggest you use each day as a bookmark to stop at each point of the chapters. Chapter Six will cover Monday and Tuesday. Chapter Seven will cover Wednesday. Chapter Eight will cover Thursday. Chapter Nine's will be Friday, and an eensy bit of Saturday. Now, on with the story.)
(Scene is in Darren's home office, very early Monday morning)
The wall clock read "4:30" as Darren sat back rocking quietly in the chair at his desk, his forehead wrinkled in a deep furrow as he listened to Quinn talk. Outside, a heavy rain permeated the mansion's grounds, nevertheless still sounding like a peaceful, yet also gentle drumming on the roof from inside. A weary-looking Quinn was sitting across from him, speaking in a semi-concerned tone of voice. Both were still in their nightclothes.
QUINN: --And she was up again early this morning, bro, in the home theater, just like the morning before, like you told me on the side last night. (Yawns:) It's a good thing I, like, set my alarm clock for 3:00, and got up to see if she was up myself, (adds under her breath, narrows eyes, looks away for an instant:) even though I risked getting unfashionably-looking baggy eyes. (Darren gives a tiny smirk as Quinn goes back in her perky regular voice:) I came in and saw her watching Love Story. (Shrugs, pauses:) You might be right in thinking she could be up because of what happened at that warehouse, Darren. She saw me out of the corner of her eye, and looked at me a little surprised, 'cause it was obvious she wasn't expectin' me, and everything. I, like, made up a story about not bein' able to sleep because I was so excited about our meeting with Candi Gunwald tomorrow. (Pauses, narrows eyes:) She said it was a "coincidence" 'cause she was doing that, too. I decided to sit down beside her and watch the rest of the movie with her so she wouldn't get suspicious, or anything. (Gives another yawn:) It's been about 10 minutes since we saw it, and then after I made sure Sandi went back to her room, I came to your room and woke you up, and we came in here to talk in private, and everything.
DARREN: And I really appreciate you doing that, Quinn, both with keeping an eye on Sandi, and waking me up to tell me. You didn't have to get up that early to check on Sandi, you know.
QUINN: (After a moment:) Yeah--yeah, I did. Sandi and I are getting along better than ever before, and I don't wanna see anything bad happen to her, like I told you in that media room place. (Pauses:) At first, it kinda freaked me out that she wasn't acting like she used to, like a--a--uhhh--(looks up, tries to get out the words)
DARREN: (Eyebrow cocked, smirk, playful tone:) --Oh, you mean something like what happened at that Haven place at the time, a conniving b--
QUINN: (Wide-eyed, gasps:) --DARREN! (Sighs while Darren snickers:) Look, it just--it just wasn't her in our er, "healthy competitions" for the good of the Fashion Club, you know. (Pauses, points to herself:) I'll admit I did some conniptions between us, too. (Darren stifles a chuckle at Quinn's little misnomer, says nothing) Anyway, I'll keep an eye out on her like we agreed upon, okay?
DARREN: (Smiles:) Okay, sis. (Gets an annoyed look:) I heard from Elenor that Mrs. Griffin called early last night, by which I'm assuming she wanted to ask about why Sandi said that I wasn't her daughter's boyfriend yesterday, more than likely after the media asked Mrs. Griffin about it in Baltimore while she and her family were at that marketing convention. (Cocks a surprised eyebrow:) Elenor told me Sandi didn't want to talk to her?
QUINN: (Looks off for a second:) Um, yeah, Darren, that's what me and the Fashion Club heard by chance in Sandi's room when Elenor called her over that intercom thingy. She asked Elenor to tell Mrs. Griffin that she had gone to bed, and everything. (Pauses:) You know, if I didn't know better, I'd think that Sandi sounded a little desperate when she asked Elenor that. (Darren narrows his eyes) Stacy, Tiffany, and I looked at each other, and asked Sandi what was up, but she played it off, saying she wanted to concentrate on the intern meeting, and that she'd talk to her mom later. We didn't say anything more about it. (Pauses, ponders:) I think Sandi's dreading talking to her mom.
DARREN: (After a moment, sighs:) Look, sooner or later, Sandi's going to have to stand up to her mother, and confirm what she said. I plan to ask her parents, particularly Mr. Griffin first if I can, about the way she's been behaving anyway later this week, maybe sooner, after maybe speaking to Sandi about it first, I haven't decided that yet. If she didn't want to speak to me about not being able to sleep then, there's no guarantee she'll volunteer to tell me anytime soon. (Pauses, frowns:) If Mrs. Griffin tries to take her own initiative and speak to me about Sandi's statement, I'll delightfully confirm to her that what Sandi said was true. (Realizes:) Maybe that'll help take the pressure off her daughter as well. (Quinn shrugs, then Darren changes the subject, gives her a coy expression) Ready for Candi tomorrow?
QUINN: (Smirks:) Oh, yeah, bro, I'll be ready, along with everyone else in the Fashion Club. After I get some more beauty sleep, me and the others are gonna go over that fashion designer book of Sandi's, and quiz each other. It'll take most of the day, so we're gonna stay outta sight, probably in Sandi's room, or mine. (Pauses, looks hopeful:) Do you think the servants can serve us in either place? I know mom said I couldn't eat in my room by myself 'cause she doesn't wanna see me (finger quotes, slight sneer in her voice:) "spoiled", and stuff, but if the Fashion Club's in my room, even she couldn't say anything against that, right?
DARREN: (Chuckles:) I don't see how Helen could, Quinn. Of course the staff could serve you and your friends there. (Grins:) I'll run "end-around" for you in case Helen objects. (Quinn smirks, then after a moment, Darren changes the subject:) Did you meet uncle Jim yet? I know it was pretty late when he came in, and I thought you might've gone to bed before you could've.
QUINN: Yeah, I met him just before I did, in the hallway outside of my room. I was on my way to speak to Stacy about um, (tiny smirk:) something really "important" we, er, I had to take care of tomorrow morning before we all go to Circa. (Rolls her eyes, glances at her right arm, then rubs it:) He, like, almost shook my arm off. (Darren snickers)
DARREN: Sorry about that, Quinn. My uncle sometimes can--(pauses:) get a little "excited" about meeting new people, particularly the ones I know. (Thought v.o.: Though he didn't feel that way about Edward.) He's really looked forward to meeting you all.
QUINN: (Giggles, waves her hand dismissively:) Oh, it's okay, bro. (Cocks an eyebrow, shrugs:) He seems like a really nice guy, though he could use a new wardrobe, judging by that awful jacket he was wearing last night, ew. Maybe we can give him a few pointers on how to dress later this week, or something. (Pauses as Darren rolls his eyes briefly:) Um, you'll still be coming along with us when we go to Circa, right, and we'll be able to ride in the helicopter there?
DARREN: (Grins:) Relax, sis. I promised I'd ride with you all there, and it'll be by the helicopter, (adds, hesitates:) though if it's still raining by tomorrow, I don't think we'll be able to go except by limo. (Quinn gets a disheartened look, which causes Darren to add quickly:) But the weather's supposed to be fine by then, at least that's what the Forecast Channel says. According to plan, we'll land on the roof of Circa, which has a helipad, and after you guys meet Candi, we'll go to grab a bite to eat at Cherie's, that "fancy" French restaurant you all were talking about, then we're off to Cashman's of Park Avenue. We'll return to Circa, and then travel back to the mansion by the helicopter again. (Quinn shuts her eyes slowly, gets a dreamy look briefly as she anticipates this) While you guys are speaking to Candi, I'm going to take care of some personal business, but I'll be back before you finish with her, I promise.
QUINN: (Genuine smile:) Thanks, bro. (Excited look, squeals:) I can't wait! (Hesitates, then grows quiet:) Um, Darren? Speaking of Sandi not being able to sleep, have you--
DARREN: (Picks up on what she says, adds quickly:) --Ah, well, actually I had that same nightmare about the study several hours ago (Quinn looks alarmed, and he quickly adds), but I woke out of it when it got started, which really is good, according to my doctor, and after getting some warm milk to calm myself, I went right back to sleep until you woke me. Usually, I couldn't seem to wake up from that nightmare when I began dreaming it, which Dr. Quinn attributed to the guilt I felt by punishing myself by actually going through with all of it. Like not dreaming about it yesterday morning, this is the first time that's happened since I came back. I'm calling the doctor later today and tell him about it, or at the least, leave him a message on his answering machine, since he didn't return my call from yesterday about my not having the nightmare. He's probably still out of town on his vacation.
QUINN: (Estatic:) Wow, that's great, Darren! (Looks up to ponder, adds:) Hmmm--isn't it kinda weird how your doctor's last name is "Quinn", the same as my first name?
DARREN: (Shrugs:) Really? That never occurred to me until you pointed it out just now. (Pauses, gets a thoughtful look:) Hm, now that you've mentioned it, I suppose it is quite a coincidence.
QUINN: Maybe soon, thanks to that Dr. Quinn guy, you can finally go into that study place without getting uncomfortable, huh? (Yawns yet again)
DARREN: (Pauses:) Well, actually, I, ah, went in there yesterday morning, and nothing happened.
QUINN: (Gasps:) Really? What made you go in there?
DARREN: (Ponders, decides not to say anything to Quinn about him and Jane finding Daria and him carrying her out:) Well, uh, I was trying to just face up to my fears like my doctor told me, Quinn. I didn't feel anything "bad" in there. I think it also had something to do with my not having that nightmare for the first time since I came back home. I just stayed in the study for a few minutes, or so, then I came out with no ill after-effects.
QUINN: (Excited:) Wow, that's even better, bro! (Pauses:) Speaking of yesterday, I wanna ask you another question that's been bothering me since then, an' everything: When was that picture of you carrying Daria taken? (Darren looks wide-eyed for the briefest of instances as Quinn narrows her eyes:) From what I could tell in the short time I had it, (frowns briefly, bitter undertone:) before Daria snatched it from me in th' limo, it looked like it was in the mansion's hallway, near the stairs, like, at night, or something or another. (Cocks an eyebrow:) Since we've been, like, here a day or two, it had to have been sometime yesterday or late Saturday, right?
DARREN: (Looking uneasy:) Er, well, Quinn--(sighs, knows he's boxed in, and doesn't want to lie:) look, I'll level with you, but only if you promise to keep this to yourself, and to not tell Daria or anyone else, okay?
QUINN: (Ponders:) Weeell--okay!
As Darren was re-telling his story, outside his office door, Sandi had been listening in on their conversation, and now had started to quietly slip away back to her room. Like, I had better not risk staying here, because they might suddenly come out, or one of the servants who stayed overnight might see me here. Besides, I can ask Quinn about that picture of Darren carrying Darlene, I mean, Daria later, since I saw Daria pull it out of Quinn's purse in the limo, without arousing suspicion.
Sandi had waited until she thought Quinn had gone from her bedroom after both came back from the theater, then, on a hunch, discreetly followed Quinn to Darren's bedroom, which puzzled her for the moment at Quinn seeing him at this incredibly early hour, which in turn made her follow both of them to Darren's office.
Sandi earlier had been stunned to suddenly see Quinn of all people in the home movie theater, but then remembered the conversation she overheard Darren had had about her with his birth family and Jane about keeping an eye on the way she was behaving, especially through Quinn. Sandi had to play it cool when Quinn came up, full well knowing why she was really there, and berated herself for forgetting to stay in her room when she got up from yet another blood-spattered nightmare about Darren, and perhaps watching the TV instead. For the briefest moment after spotting Quinn's concerned look, and knowing that she actually did care about her well-being, Sandi had considered telling Quinn then and there about the reason she couldn't sleep, but backed off at the last second due to her lack of resolve. They'd think I was crazy, or something, or another. I mean I know Darren's not nuts in seeing a shrink or two, even Mrs. Morgendorffer after she thought that her baby was dead, but I'm different. I have a reputation to uphold--right?
Shaking her head, Sandi quickly changed her thoughts to her mother. Quinn was right. Sandi was desperate in asking Elenor to give her mom an excuse that she had already gone to bed. Darren was also right. Sooner or later, Sandi would have to speak to her mom, and either way, it wasn't going to be a pleasant conversation, but then she took in mind Darren's assurance to Quinn about confirming Sandi's statement to the media that she wasn't Darren's boyfriend if her mother asked him about it. That in itself would provide the perfect cover, at least she hoped. She gave herself a quick sigh of relief at this, but then another thought hit her just as fast: Darren would ask her parents, particularly her father first if he could, about her odd behavior as of late. What would she say when Darren would ask her directly about it after he talked to her parents? She was able to blow him off a few days back when he first inquired, but it would be different after he spoke with her parents. What, if anything, could Sandi say to him? To her parents?
One thing was for certain, though: At least for today and most of tomorrow, she'd ask the staff to not allow her mother to speak to her when of if she'd call, preferring to concentrate on meeting Candi Gunwald, and perhaps start her fashion designer career. The last thing she needed was her mother's distracting and demanding questions to upset and rattle her. She began to formulate an excuse or two to inform the staff as she went into her room to get some more "beauty sleep".
(Scene is in the dining room, a few hours later)
Edward was eating at the table with Millie sitting beside him wordlessly, both still in their nightclothes. As they ate a scumptious breakfast of strawberry-topped crepes suzette, eggs, bacon, waffles, and muffins, they watched curiously across the table at Helen and Jake, who sat eating as well also in their nightclothes, with Helen excitedly talking to a bored-looking Jake about them both meeting Leonard Potter this morning. Outside, the rain, after letting up for awhile, had started to come down hard again. As he ate his crepes suzette, Edward was subtlely taking a mental note of Helen's talk, particularly about Potter, privately hoping for any additional information for his "Employer".
HELEN: --Oh, and we'll be going to an upscale restaurant called Montoni's for lunch, Jake! It'll be wonderful discussing Appleton's corporate law cases with him! (Thought v.o.: And to get some more contacts for the firm. I had plenty of them at that Appleton Foundation brunch yesterday. [Sighs mentally:] The things I do as an equal partner after Eric's little "encouragement call" yesterday on the helicopter...)
JAKE: (While resting his head in his hand, left elbow on the table, picks at his poached eggs, whiny tone:) Awww, Helen! Why do I hafta go with you? (Helen glares at him, but he doesn't see her while he's now focused on his eggs, takes a bite with mouth full:) I mean, I wanna play some more goooolf! That lawyering stuff is your specialty, not mine, darn it!
HELEN: (Rolls her eyes, motions her head at the wall-lined windows on the far wall opposite of them:) Golf, in that monsoon? The Forecast Channel said on our bedroom TV this morning that it's going to rain all day today, remember? Playing today is out of the question! Leonard wanted to meet both of us, and we're going! (Sighs:) Besides, don't forget you can also play golf tomorrow.
JAKE: (Still down, but brightens just a little:) Hey, yeah, I guess I can! (Grins at Edward:) Hey, "Eddie", do ya wanna play with me again tomorrow morning, fella? (Edward turns slightly pale, looks alarmed as Jake returns to sounding down:) I'd ask my son, but he's gonna be out with Quinn and her little friends tomorrow most of the day, then with Daria on Wednesday, and Jane on Thursday, though we're still gonna go to Yankee Stadium for a game on early Thursday afternoon. (Sighs:) If I'm lucky, maybe I'll have some more time with him on Friday--(pauses, frowns, as Helen cocks an eyebrow at him:) aw, crap, damn it! He's gonna spend some damn time with you, right, honey?
HELEN: (In a cool tone, sarcastic, crosses her arms:) How nice of you to remember that our son will spend some "damn" time with his birth mother, Jakey.
JAKE: (Falling all over himself, arms wide:) Aw, honey, I didn't mean it in that way, honest! (Helen rolls her eyes at him, then returns to her eating as Jake, desperately searching for a way to change the subject, goes back to Edward:) Uh, ah, what about it, "Eddie"? Can ya come with me tomorrow?
EDWARD: (Thought v.o.: Oh, dear Lord, no!) (Looks uneasy:) Well, er, I'm not quite sure if I'll be able to Jake, I think I have some, ah, minor business to attend to--
VOICE: (From the side, cuts in:) --I'll go with you, Jake, if you'll have me! (Everyone looks the direction of the voice)
A smiling Jim came into the dining room, still dressed in his robe and nightclothes. As he made eye contact with Edward, his smile diminished a bit. Edward caught on to this, and narrowed his eyes slightly. Millie and Helen also noticed the facial reactions of both men, with Millie giving a slight eye-roll of disgust. Jake, of course, was oblivious, getting a huge grin on his face.
JIM: Good morning, everyone! I happen to love golf, too, Jake! In fact, I brought my clubs as well! (Smirks at Millie:) I'm surprised Mill didn't tell you about my game while we were married. I was quite the hustler in my younger days, and still am now! (Edward cocks an eyebrow at this, glances at Millie, who shakes her head slowly with her eyes closed, and Helen gives her a brief look of sympathy)
JAKE: (Awed tone of voice as Jim sits down beside him:) Wow! Really?
JIM: Yep. I cleaned out the pockets of many a man who dared to step out on a golf course with your's truly and had the audacity to bet against me! Want me to tell you about my golfing escapades? (Jake gets an eager look on his face, nods quickly) Where do I begin? Oh yeah, it was the spring of '82 at Inverness, and there was this blowhard who--
MILLIE: (Cuts him off, mock-exasperated, chuckles:) --Jim, not that story again! You must've told it a thousand times already! (Edward gives her a slightly pained "But I haven't heard it from you." look)
JIM: (Playful smug tone:) Yeah, I have, but Jake here hasn't heard of it--(notices Edward staring at Millie, subtle sneering tone:) and from the looks of it, neither has your beau here. (Edward narrows his eyes at Jim, who turns to Claude as he's just entered the room:) Ask Henri to give me the works on breakfast, Claude. I'm starving. (Claude nods to Jim and leaves to the kitchen, and Jim returns his attention to Edward in a sneering tone:) You play golf, Edward?
EDWARD: (Smug tone himself:) Yes, I do, old boy. As a matter of fact--
JAKE: (Jumps in, excited, cuts him off:) --Yeah, you bet he can! Why, just yesterday, he played with me and my son, and came in second, and everything!
HELEN: (Gives an apologetic glance at Edward:) Um, Jake, I think Edward can speak for hi--
JIM: (Suddenly gets an "interested" look on his face, rests his head in both of his hands, puts both elbows on the table, and leans forward:) --Oh, did he now? Do tell!
JAKE: Okay, big guy, I will! (Narrows eyes:) It was like this: There we were on the sixth hole, and Eddie's ball was, like, 250 yards from the hole near the woods--
Helen and Millie gave each other dismal looks, then began to finish eating, while Edward sat back in his chair, crossed his arms, and gave Jake an mildly-annoyed look. Jim, for his part, was having the time of his life, both with Jake "being" Edward, and of seeing Edward's frustrated look. Anything to make that stuck-up so-called British "gentleman" look bad in front of Mill helps me to no end...
(Scene changes to upstairs, at the same time)
Dressed in their jogging clothes, Darren and Jane came out of Darren's workout room, located a few doors down from Darren's bedroom, wiping sweat from their faces with white towels provided for them by Elenor earlier. Fiona walked by and greeted them, and vice-versa, then she went into Jane's room to get Jane's dirty clothes, and change her bedsheets. In the meantime, Darren and Jane had stopped in the hallway, and were speaking.
JANE: (Breathing heavily:) Whew! I can't believe that treadmill's odometer said we did five miles! It didn't seem like that much at all!
DARREN: (Ditto, smirks:) Well, treadmills are supposed to simulate jogging or speedwalking, Jane, and I think we got a pretty good workout from it, considering that we can't go outside in the rain. I'm kind of surprised you've never been on one before.
JANE: (Shrugs:) Nah, I prefer the good, old-fashioned version of the real thing, Darren. I think it has more to do with the physical aspects of it all. Makes me feel like I actually did the jogging, as opposed to feeling like I've been standing in one place, and not doing anything--
DARIA: (Coming up from behind them out of her room dressed in her "Mark Twain" nightclothes and bedroom slippers, smirks:) --Unlike your usual standing in one place while painting and/or sculpturing?
DARREN: (Smiles:) Good morning, sis. Sleep well last night?
DARIA: (Small smile:) Good morning, bro, and yeah, I did. (Pauses:) It was far better than in the study. 'Morning, Jane.
JANE: (Gives her a mock-warning glare, grins, waves her off:) Never you mind that now, amiga. Our pleasant little morning exchanges can wait until later. (Pauses:) Just what are you implying, my dear, dear Daria?
DARIA: (Cocks an eyebrow, slight smile, not quite Mona Lisa:) Implying? You're the one who said that you and Darren's little simulated workout was all done in one place. I merely added that you usually did the same thing with your art. Hence, it shouldn't be any big deal for you to stand in one place while you're doing something. You generally did that in your room when I've been in there.
JANE: (Smirks:) Hah! That's what I call my "standard" way of doing art, amiga! (Daria and Darren look at each other, puzzled) There have been other times when I've moved all over the place to paint, like that time I painted that mural of blood-thirsty vampires on the ceiling of Summer's old room a couple of months back, remember? (Darren cocks an inqusitive eyebrow at Jane, who smirks) Sorry, Darren. Her room was full of stuff we used for extra storage while you visited our house, and you couldn't get in there to see what I did. I'll show you it next time you come, okay? (Turns back to Daria:) I was laid up on my back on a scaffold for a week, amiga, like Michaelangelo was when he did his Fresco paintings! Heck, take painting our house for example--
DARIA: --You guys actually painted the Lane homestead? (Pauses:) Including Trent? When was all this last done, 1988? (Darren snickers)
JANE: (Gives Daria a droll look:) 1993, but that doesn't matter at this very moment in time. The point is, I couldn't very well stay in one place to paint a single wall now, could I?
DARIA: (Shrugs:) I dunno, that depends. Were you and especially Trent awake and moving simultaneously when you guys started? (Darren laughs while Jane smirks)
DARREN: But how could painting your house be considered an art, Jane?
JANE: (Rolls her eyes playfully:) Darren, everything that's worth painting is considered to be some form of art, you should know that. (Winks at Daria:) Take what Daria and me did to Quinn's face yesterday in your soon-to-be-painted meditation room for instance--
DARREN: (Shakes his head slowly, small smile:) --On that room again, I see. You're not going to let it go, are you?
JANE: (Gives him a coy look:) Uh-uh. Those walls need to be spruced up, I say. I have many, many ideas goin' through my head--
DARIA: --And I'm damn sure that these "ideas" you have floating around in that noggin of your's are a sight to behold, Jane. While you're thinking them up, I'm going downstairs to consume Henri's food, then get to that study for some more serious reading. Care to come along, guys?
JANE: (Starts walking along with Darren, following Daria:) To the dining room? Sure. As for that study place, you can have it all to yourself, amiga. I'm going to Darren's studio to do some serious painting. I wanted to go outside on the grounds and do some of the landscape, but thanks to the weather, that pretty much looks like it's a wash out. (Daria rolls her eyes subtlely at Jane's pun) What are you gonna do today, Darren?
Darren was about to respond when Claude met them at the top of the stairs, holding a cellphone.
CLAUDE: Good morning, Master Darren, Mi--er, Daria and Jane (both girls smirk, glance at each other). Pardon me for interrupting your conversation, Master Darren, but Master Leonard is on the phone, and he wishes to speak to you. He claims it is quite an urgent matter concerning the company. (Hands phone to Darren)
DARREN: (Gets a slightly worried look on his face:) Good morning, and thanks, Claude. Urgent at the company, huh? I hope he's not so busy at work over it, he won't be able to meet Helen and Jake today. (Clicks phone on while Claude gives a curt nod, then goes back down the grand stairs while Daria and Jane stay and wait beside Darren:) Hello, Leonard, and good morning. What's going on? Claude told me something was wrong at the company--?
LEONARD: Good morning, Darren, and you can most certainly say that it is. I've just been in a tele-screen conference call over it with Constance, who had to take a last-minute trip to Chigago yesterday and help out on a legal snag that developed over our purchase of that property near Chicago's Lakefront, you know, the one that eventually will be the new home of our Midwest branch? She won't return to New York City until tomorrow morning. She wants to know if you can come down to the office as soon as possible for a two-way tele-screen conference call, if you can, say about an-hour and a half, or so. (Pauses as Darren's visage takes on a brief frown of perplexity, while Daria and Jane notice it, and look at each other curiously. Leonard gives a sighing sound:) I'm really sorry to tear you away from your family and friends, Darren, but you did want to be informed when or if something serious came up about the conglomerate's inner workings, and believe you me, this qualifies. I wouldn't've dared called you if it wasn't so important. I just found out about it an hour ago, and Constance was immediately informed, as well as the FBI. (Darren cocks a very high eyebrow at this) It's just that serious. I'd discuss it over the phone, but it's so sensitive--
DARREN: --No, no, it's okay, Leonard, I understand completely. I know you and Constance wouldn't have contacted me just on a whim, and like you said, I did ask you guys to do that. I'll be there as soon as possible, though I'll have to ride to the city by car, since I can't take the helicopter due to the rain. (Pauses as Daria and Jane glance at each other again:) Does this mean you won't be able to meet my birth parents today?
LEONARD: Actually, I still can. Bring them with you when you come down here. Perhaps they can sit with us when we all talk? (Darren's left eye narrows in surprise) I'd be interested to see what Helen Morgendorffer has to say legally on this, since she does corporate law, too. We can go to the restaurant afterwards. Despite the seriousness of this, the meeting shouldn't take too long.
DARREN: (Uncertain look and tone:) Well, I don't know about letting Helen in on this, Leonard. She is on vacation--
DARIA: (Nods subtlely, turns to Jane, whispers while Darren continues to speak in the background:) Definitely a work-related matter if they want my mom there, whatever it's about.
JANE: (Same tone, smirks:) Yep. We both know Helen would jump through hoops to get some work done on a vacation, amiga.
DARIA: (Sighs:) It's what she eats, breathes, and drinks. Take it away, and she'll curl up in a ball and die, the same with my dad to a lesser extent, though he showed some good sense when he got us the hell out of Lawndale by getting the cops to drag mom and you to that check-out counter. (Pauses, suddenly pulls pen and pad from behind her, writes:) Note to self: Since mom and dad will be so busy with their jobs that they won't notice us again when we get back home, lock Quinn up in the garage for a week, and keep all make-up, fashions, and boys away from her. (Pauses:) See if she'll curl up in a ball and die. (Jane snickers as Daria puts both back behind her)
Darren finished talking, and clicked off the cellphone. He turned to both girls and looked at them sheepishly.
DARREN: You heard, right?
JANE: (Glances at Daria, and vice-versa:) Well, we heard something about you having to suddenly drop everything here and tear down to your company to check something serious out, and Helen somehow or another is invited to come along with you to sit in. What's going on?
DARREN: (Begins walking downstairs with the two:) I'm not sure, Leonard didn't want to tell me over the phone. I'm going to talk to him and to Constance via tele-screen, since she's out of town, and won't be back until tomorrow. I told him I'd get there as soon as possible, and I'd bring Helen and Jake with me. We'll all go out afterwards. (Pauses, contrite tone:) I'm sorry, you two, looks like I'll be going out from here most of today.
DARIA: Hey, it's okay, Darren. We'll still have the rest of the week to get together. Wednesday's still on with me and you, you know.
JANE: Yeah, (shrugs as she adds an afterthought:) besides, who knows? Maybe you might be able to use the time to spend with Helen and Jake in the Big Apple, and not have to go with 'em out later in the week, or something. (Darren stops at the bottom of the stairs with them, and gets a wide-eyed look of inspiration on his face, smirking, which causes Daria and Jane to look at him strangely)
Darren suddenly ran up to a surprised Jane, firmly gripped her shoulders, and kissed her on the mouth. Daria cocked an eyebrow in curiousity, while Jane began to swoon with her eyes closed, and mouth still puckered.
DARREN: Jane, that's an excellent idea! I'll just kill two birds with one stone, squeezing both of them in at one time in the city! Of course, since it's raining, we'll have to stay inside while we're out, but that's no biggie! I'll just make a few calls to arrange some things on the way to Appleton Tower to get the ball rolling, and--(spots Elenor coming into the foyer:) oh, Elenor, are Helen and Jake up yet?
ELENOR: Yes, Master Darren, they're in the dining room eating breakfast with Mistress Millie, Masters Jim and Edward, and--(Darren rushes by her excitedly into the dining room) oh, my!
DARIA: (Looking after him, deadpan tone:) And thus, the category five storm Hurricane Darren blows by, determined to engage these so-called mighty twin parental maritime vessels, the USS Jake and the USS Helen Morgendorffer in the middle of the Atlantic. Jane, what do you--(sees Jane still swooning with her eyes closed, sighs, smirks:) addendum: That same hurricane has apparently left catastrophic damage on the Isle of Lane. Excuse us, Elenor. (Takes the still-swooning Jane by the hand, pulls her gently along, while an amused Elenor shakes her head slowly, then follows them both into the dining room)
(Scene is on a black limo driving down a heavy rain-soaked highway a little later)
Inside the rear of the limo, Darren was talking on the car's phone while Helen and Jake were sitting across from him excitedly discussing their last-second surprise sightseeing tour of some of New York City's tourist spots following the meeting with Constance and Leonard. All were dressed in their casual summer clothing, with their rain gear in the next seat over in the middle of the limo.
Helen had immediately and delightedly jumped at Darren's hesitant offer to her about attending the meeting per Leonard Potter's request (at no surprise to Daria, of course). She was so excited, she even suggested that the time that she and Jake would spend together today with their son could be considered as her personal Friday time with him, and that Friday itself would be a "Family Get Together Time", that they all could do something together before Saturday's scheduled departure time. Needless to say, Darren was surprised initially by Helen's idea, but insisted that he wanted to make up the personal time he'd spend with her later when she visited again, which Helen agreed upon.
Jake was estatic to have his son at his side at the last second, thus making his once-thought-of boring meeting with Potter seem like a distant memory now. He then noticed the special mini-refrigerator in the seat beside him, opened it, and pulled out a chilled bottle of water. Jake unscrewed it, and began to greedily guzzle it down, spilling a bit of the water down the front of his shirt. Helen stopped her conversation long enough to glare at the way Jake drank the water.
HELEN: Jake! That water's not going anywhere! Slow down!
JAKE: (Wipes his mouth with his arm sloppily:) Aw, Helen! I was thirsty! (Motions head to the rain pounding on the car:) With all that water falling outside, why do ya have to wonder about the water falling down my shirt here on the inside? (Helen rolls her eyes)
HELEN: (Sighs:) Jake, all I'm saying is that you don't have to rush yourself! (Gets into a softer tone:) Take your time, dear. We're on vacation, remember?
JAKE: (After a moment:) Well, yeah, I guess you're right, Helen, I am pushin' it, aren't I? (Falls back into the seat, sighs:) Just sit back, relax, and let the driver do the drivin', and think about being with our son!
HELEN: (Smiles:) Exactly, dear. (Looks out the window:) My, but the rain does keep coming down, doesn't it? (Pauses, takes a pensive look at Darren, who continues to talk on the phone, turns to Jake, quieter tone:) Sort of like that night, well, in the warehouse--
JAKE: (Sits back up slightly concerned, cuts her off gently:) --Uh, honey, that's over and done with, now. Darren's here with us, safe and sound. Why bring it up again?
HELEN: I'm sorry, Jakey. It's just that when I see rain now, it sometimes makes me think a little on that night, and what could've happened. (Holds Jake's hand in a reassuring manner, small smile:) You're right, dear. I shouldn't let what happened that night worry me anymore.
JAKE: (Swings his fist:) Yeah, that's the ticket, honey! (Narrows eyes, looks in space:) There's no damn way we're gonna let a little rain ruin time with our son, no siree, bob, not like my Old Man, (pauses, trembles more and more in rage:) or even that hard-ass bastard Corporal Ellenbogan, both of who made me walk through some crappy mud in the middle of a summer storm on two stinkin' occasions! First, my dad when I was ten at three o'clock in the lousy morning, (mocking tone:) "To toughen me up and make me a man!", he said, and the next time, the corporal when I was 19 at Buxton during one of my platoon's all-night marches, (pauses, realizes, frowns, shakes fist, looks up:) also at three in the morning, dammit! It sucked, I tell, you, it suuuuucked!
HELEN: (Loud, exasperated sigh, looks uncomfortably at her now hang-dogged, wide-eyed son across from her, who by now has paused speaking on the phone to listen to Jake's rants. Helen pats Jake gently on the leg, through her teeth:) Jake, get a grip! We're on our way to our son's business, then on to New York City, remember? The corporal is far away, and your father "Mad Dog" can't hurt you anymore because he's dead!
JAKE: (Comes out of his rage:) Huh? Oh, uh, sorry, sweetheart! (Looks around, sits up, pauses, then whines:) Boy, I'm bored just sitting in here! Why didn't I keep the camcorder with me in here instead of leaving it in the trunk? When in the hell are we gonna get to that apple dumpling place? I wish we could've rode on the damn helicopter there, (gets into a sneering tone:) but ohhhh nooo, the lousy crappy rain put a freakin' stop to that, didn't it? (Suddenly grins comically at Darren, waves while Helen glares at her husband:) Ooops! Yeah, I'm suppose to enjoy myself, right! Hiya, son! (Looks out of the window, then begins to sit back again and nap in the back seat, immediately falling into a sleeping and snoring state while Helen rolls her eyes, then gets a magazine she brought with her about the legal profession called Judgement, begins reading it)
Darren blinked at his birth father in amazement for an instant while still on the phone. And just think--I'm related to him. I half-wonder now if Daria or Quinn were adopted, like me. He chuckled to himself for a moment at that thought, and was shaken out of his stupor by the shouts of the voice on the other end.
VOICE: Darren? Darren?! Hey, you there? HELLO?!
DARREN: Eh? Oh, uh, yeah, Curtis, sorry. I was, uh, "listening" to Jake. What were we talking about again?
CURTIS: (Sighs:) About my not being able to come over to the mansion today because I had to go to Eastward and get my class problems settled for the fall, and I'll probably be there most of the day, remember?
DARREN: Oh, that's right. (Pauses:) Well, maybe you'll come tomorrow sometime? I don't know when I'll be back with Quinn and her friends, but I can call you, and--
CURTIS: (Pauses, hesitates:) --Uh, I have some bad news on that front, bud. My uncle, aunt, and cousins just suddenly appeared on our doorstep last night while they were out on their cross-country vacation, and my parents want me and the sisters to spend some "quality" time with them while they mooch off of us for a few days, and believe me when I say my aunt and uncle are moochers, while their children are just monsters. Sort of like National Lampoon's Summer Vacation--the first one. (Darren winces) I tried to slip out by using my scheduling problems at Eastward by saying I'd have to go back and forth there over the rest of the week to straighten it out, but my folks wouldn't let me off the hook, saying I could make the time to spend with them. (Pauses:) Of course, it didn't help that my new professor called yesterday on the answering machine, heard unfortunately by my dad, and said that he could work me into his class, and it would take only today to do it. (Darren shakes his head slowly) I don't think I'll be able to come there until Friday, at the least.
DARREN: (After a pause, sighs:) Damn. I'm sorry, Curtis. Well, this is a coincidence, albeit a lousy one in your case, when it comes to visiting uncles. My uncle Jim arrived last night.
CURTIS: He actually was able to come, eh? (Snickers:) How did he take to Edward being there?
DARREN: What else? Not good. The tension was too thick to cut, even with a chainsaw. I explained the "situation" about my uncle and Edward to Daria and Jane in my bedroom last night when they cornered me and asked. Needless to say, Daria and Jane were fasinated by the potential for blood.
CURTIS: Ooh, ooh! My kind of women!
DARREN: (Gentle rebuking tone, smirks:) Lena's going to be jealous if she hears you say that. Anyway, I came in the dining room this morning with Jane and Daria, and Edward and uncle Jim were glaring at each other, with aunt Millie looking between the two nervously. (Takes a quick glance over at Jake, who's still sleeping, and at Helen, who's still reading her magazine, lowers voice:) I thought I even heard Daria tell Jane about taking side bets with each other over when the fight would take place.
CURTIS: Really, now? If they do, be sure to tell them I want in! (Darren rolls his eyes) (Curtis gives a chuckling sound:) Heard from my sisters that you had a bit of a run-in with that bastard Rory at Reynaldo's yesterday, and it was also all over the tube last night. I thought about calling you, but I figured you needed the time to talk to your family about that ass, (pauses, voice takes on a low, dangerous tone, which makes Darren narrow his eyes in mild concern:) and it was a damn good thing for him that he didn't try to put any of his "moves" on my sisters, otherwise-- (pauses, changes tone of voice:) sorry for the way I sounded just now, natural reflex. His family got back a week early, huh?
DARREN: (Sighs:) Yeah, and you don't have to apologize, you know. I was hoping Jane, my sisters, and Quinn's friends would miss meeting him until later, but, alas, my luck ran out. However, I didn't tell them about what Rory did that made me so angry at him--Krystal did.
CURTIS: Yeah, heard that from my sisters, too. (Snorting sound:) Talk about your family loyalty, huh?
DARREN: Krystal and her family have to live with what he did, and I'm beginning to believe she couldn't care less if anything bad happens to Rory, especially since he's showed no remorse with what he did, and hasn't changed at all. It's a tragic situation, really. Here, I have two sisters I've just met, and Krystal and Rory have been together since birth, and they make Daria and Quinn look like they've been best friends for years. I called Krystal very late in my bedroom last night after Jane and Daria left, and thanked her for convincing Rory not to press charges, and for telling the story to Jane, Daria, Quinn, and the others. I apologized to her for attacking her brother, but she totally blew it off, and said that she understood my reaction perfectly, saying Rory deserved whatever he got. (Pauses:) Even Jane, my family, and Quinn's friends understood what and why I did what what I did after they were told the story. By all accounts, I should be in jail right now. I came straight home and calmed myself down by meditation. (Shudders:) If Jane and Quinn didn't shout at me and shook me out of my rage at Rory--(pauses:) I--didn't like the way I reacted to him, even if he did deserve it.
CURTIS: (Snorting sound:) Yeah, right, as if anyone around here would side with Rory. The guy's a jerk, period. As for your anger, it was natural in this case. (Repeats himself for emphasis:) It-was-natural-in-this-case. You gotta remember that Rory seems to know how to push your buttons, Darren, and you can't let him get to you.
DARREN: Yeah, yeah, you're right. (Looks out of the window, low tone of voice:) Still, it sort of scared me to lose it like that yesterday. I thought I was supposed to be past getting really angry, thanks to my martial arts training and meditations. My sensei would be disappointed in me right now.(Thought v.o.: And my parents definitely would've been.)
CURTIS: (Exasperated sigh:) There you go with that "Zen" thing again. Darren, even the calmest, most peaceful person in the universe can get PO'd. Heck, even Gandhi and the Rev. Martin Luthor King Jr. were PO'd when they talked about using peaceful resistance for change. (Darren snorts, which Curtis picks up on:) No, seriously. Look at King's speech in The March on Washington, for example. It was powerful, moving, and peaceful, but it still had anger and outrage in it at the current civil rights situation. It had to fire up people to get things done, right?
DARREN: Maybe some anger is justified, okay, but like you said, I let Rory push the wrong buttons in me. There was no excuse for what I did at all.
CURTIS: (Smacks his mouth in frustration:) Man, you're way too hard on yourself, you know. (Pauses:) Look, I'll leave you to your folks. Tell Helen and Jake I said hello, and have a good time today. See you.
DARREN: Take it easy, Curtis, and I hope you survive until Friday. (Clicks off phone, to Helen:) Okay, that's that, Curtis says hello. I just received some bad news from him: He won't be able to come to the mansion until Friday. He has some relatives who just come in at the last second.
HELEN: (Looks up from her magazine:) Oh, I'm sorry, sweetie. Well, we can see Curtis then. (Smirks:) You know how it is when relatives come to town, these things happen.DARREN: (Smirks back:) Hold it right there. In your case, it was planned. Poor ol' Curtis didn't have a choice in the matter. (Helen chuckles while Darren glances out of limo's window at the rain, notices the traffic is piled up in both lanes:) Looks like we've almost slowed down to a crawl, even here on the highway. I hope there's not an accident down the road due to the rain.
HELEN: (Puts aside her magazine, particularly because of Jake's annoying light snoring coming from beside her, sighs:) I hope not either, sweetie. (Cocks an eyebrow:) From what you've told us, that meeting seemed very important. Surely you don't think Constance will start it without our being there, do you?
DARREN: (Chuckles:) No, I think she'll understand if we're a little late, Helen. In the meantime, I think maybe we can pass the time with a chat while we're waiting for the traffic to clear up. (Pauses:) I want to thank you and Jake again for what you did in making my aunt Millie a part of the family. I can't tell you how much that really meant to me.
HELEN: (Smiles:) After everything that's happened, it was the least we could do, Darren. I like Millie, and I just know your sisters will like her, too. Quinn was estatic last night when she heard, and Daria was, um, (searches for words:) excited, too.
DARREN: (Smirks:) Oh, Daria was climbing the walls with glee when she heard. (Helen gives him a mock-admonishing look, but chuckles) Seriously, I agree that the new arrangement will be good for everyone involved.
HELEN: The same offer will go for your uncle Jim, son. (Takes a quick look at Jake lightly snoring:) Er, I think another masculine presence in the family will help your sisters.
DARREN: (Gives Helen a bit of a strange look, smiles:) I'm sure he'll love that, Helen.
HELEN: (Smiles back:) Good. (Looks out of the window, sighs:) I'm sooo relieved that Sandi Griffin finally said that you weren't her boyfriend, son. It takes one hell of a load off of my mind, dear.
DARREN: (Nods:) Yeah, so am I, on both counts. After talking it over with Jane, I privately thanked Sandi early evening yesterday for that. I could see that she looked kind of, well, down when I did.
HELEN: (Snorts:) Well, why wouldn't she, sweetie? She had an opportunity to have some of your wealth, and when she saw that you didn't fall for her "vamp" act, she decided to give it up. I was going to speak to Sandi about it, but Quinn practically begged me not to, saying that she wanted to "handle" Sandi personally. I guess whatever Quinn did worked. (Darren cocks an eyebrow as Helen smirks:) I wonder what poor, poor Linda will do now that her daughter's ticket to "Big Money" has gone up in flames?
DARREN: (Pauses:) Uh, I think Sandi really did like me, Helen. (Helen's eyebrows raise in surprise) I could tell after what happened in the warehouse that night, the way her eyes were. (Shudders:) They were, uh--longing for me. Believe me, I developed a "sixth sense" over this when it comes to women. You were there, you saw her tears when she saw me laying there on the floor. (Helen ponders this, frowns briefly) Besides, do you really think Sandi would do what she did, knowing her mom won't be pleased?
HELEN: (Stares at Darren in deep thought:) Hmm, I suppose you have a point, Darren. (Frowns:) Well, if Sandi needs any assistance in dealing with Linda and her tirades, I'll definitely offer my services.
DARREN: (Smirks:) You and me both, Helen. I told Quinn this morning if Sandi has any trouble from her mom over this, to call me. I'll gladly help her.
HELEN: (Surprised look:) You spoke to Quinn this morning? Usually, she has to have her "beauty sleep", not getting up until at least 10:00 a.m. on weekday mornings during the summer.
DARREN: (Chuckles:) Well, very early this morning, she did. I'll tell you more about it later.
HELEN: (Pauses, gives her son an odd expression:) Um, alright, son. (Changes subject:) Millie told me that she'll want to get to know Daria, Quinn, and Jane this week. (Pauses, then goes on:) I spoke to her some about Jane's family on our way to White Plains yesterday. (Darren's eyebrows raise up, then he snickers at the thought as Helen smirks) Needless to say, she was, shall we say--overwhelmed by what she heard. I believe Millie will probably want to talk to Jane sometime today at the mansion. (Glances out the limo's window at the even harder falling rain:) Heaven knows it's the perfect day and time to do just that...
(Scene is at the Appleton mansion, Darren's art studio, precisely at the same time)
Jane was working on a painting (no, not the one she planned with Darren holding Daria, at least not yet), when suddenly there was a knock on the door. She wiped her hands with a cloth, then went over and opened the door to see a smirking Millie. Jane cocked her eyebrow in surprise.
MILLIE: (As she walks by Jane with a purposeful stride that subtlely says, "Ready or not, I'm coming in.":) Hello, Jane. I was hoping we could take the time to talk and get to know one another better and about your family. I could also get to see some of your artwork. (Pauses, raises an eyebrow:) Is this a good time?
JANE: (Thought v.o., mental sigh: Actually, no, but then again, there is no good time. Me and my family, she said? Oy. I'm dead.) (Gets a brave look on her face, faux smile and chuckle:) Why, suuure, Millie! Anytime's a good time!
MILLIE: (Sighs:) At ease, Jane, I won't bite. (Smirks again, pauses as Jane gets a sheepish smile on her face:) At least not until you let your guard down. (Pauses, then grins at Jane's raised eyebrow response to this:) So how about doing just that? Helen told me some things about your family when I drilled her yesterday, but don't worry--I have no intention of judging you by them. Now, let's talk. If you're willing, I'll order Fiona to bring us some coffee while we do so.
Jane now developed a wide-eyed look for an instant at Millie's news about already knowing some things about her family, then Jane broke out in a relieved smirk, and nodded. Both women sat down at some bar stools that were located in a corner of Darren's studio and began to converse after Millie ordered the coffee over the intercom.
(Scene goes back to the limo, the same time)
DARREN: (Grins:) Poor, poor Jane. (Changes subject, grows serious:) Speaking of the perfect day and time, I might as well run two things by you guys now, and I want Jake to be awake to hear what I'm about to say. (Reaches across and nudges Jake gently on his leg:) Uh, Jake?
JAKE: (Comes out of his snoring:) Huh? Whatzat? Are we there yet, mommy?
HELEN: (Sighs while Darren tries not to laugh:) No, Jake, we're still in the limo on our way there. Our son wants to tell us something.
JAKE: (Becomes more alert:) Oh? Sure, Big Guy! What's on your mind? You can talk to me, and I'll be right there for my son--(narrows eyes, looks off into space:) not like my Old Man, who was always off and away from every damn body, especially me--
HELEN: (Scowls:) JAKE!
JAKE: (Quickly changes:) Sorry, honey! Go ahead, son!
DARREN: (After a moment:) Uh, okay. (Takes a deep breath:) I'd like to offer to pay for all of Daria and Quinn's college education, tuition, books, everything. (Helen and Jake glance at each other with hang-dogged, stunned looks, while Darren grins, delighted at their expressions:) You two wouldn't have to worry about paying for any of their schooling, only about visiting them, though in Daria's case, it would be with me and Jane at the mansion. When I told aunt Millie about it several days ago, she thought it was a great idea.
HELEN: (Struggles to get out the words:) D-Darren--s-son, Jake and I couldn't possibly ask you to do that for us--
JAKE: (Ditto:) Y-Yeah, I-I mean, isn't it too expensive for you? (Helen and Darren stare at Jake incredulously, then it hits Jake:) Oh, ah, yeah, I guess you could afford that, right?
DARREN: (Cocks an eyebrow at Helen and Jake:) Yeah, I could, Jake. (Pauses:) Aren't we all a family, now? What's the problem?
HELEN: (Uneasy laugh, glances at Jake:) O-Oh, nothing, Darren! It's just that, uh, well--
JAKE: We, uh, just don't wanna put you out, or anything, son!
DARREN: (Narrows eyes, looks between the two:) Put me "out"? I don't understand.
HELEN: It's just, um--(sighs:) look, Darren, Jake and I have had a long talk about this before we came up here in case something like this ever came up, and we don't think it would be right to ask you to pay for all of Daria's and Quinn's education, particularly since we can afford it now, what, with me as an equal partner at my law firm, and Jake's consulting business doing so well--
JAKE: (Jumps in:) --Yeah! It's like we're taking advantage of you, son! You've done so much for us, it just wouldn't be right! (Helen nods in agreement, while Darren rolls his eyes)
DARREN: (Holds his arms wide:) That's crazy! You two aren't doing any such thing! (Pauses, forms a look of realization, sits back in the seat, crosses arms:) Ohhh, I get it now. (Helen and Jake glance at each other, baffled) Are you two saying that you think you're too good for my money?
HELEN & JAKE: (Frantically waving their hands, falling all over themselves:) Nononono, son! You've got it all wrong, Big Guy! We don't--
DARREN: (Still with his arms crossed, frowns now:) --Do I have it all wrong? (Goes on before either Helen or Jake can say anything, snorts, shakes his head slowly:) You know, in a way, it's ironic: When I first laid eyes on you all and didn't say who I was, it was partially out of my idiotic fears, thanks to my uncle, that you all would possibly try to take advantage of me and my wealth. Now, it seems like you guys are terrified by it.
HELEN: (Frowning herself, now:) Damn it, Darren, that's ridiculous! We're not "afraid" of your money! We have plenty of our own now, like I said! Besides, we came up here to visit you, and have accepted staying in your mansion, and all of its comforts! It's just that we don't--(pauses:) well, we don't want your charity! (It's Jake's turn to nod in agreement now)
Darren stared at Helen incredulously as if she had grew a second head in front of him, gritted his teeth in frustration for a moment, then suddenly stunned and startled his birth parents by slamming his hand on the side of his seat, doing it so hard, that the front dark window, which had separated them all from the driver along with the middle seat, rolled down behind Darren, revealing Tina, dressed in her standard bodyguard uniform, chauffeuring the limo. She had insisted on driving them all herself to Appleton Towers after coming to the mansion for work and of hearing Darren's announcement on taking his birth parents to the business meeting and subsequent tour of the Big Apple, concerned about any potential paparazzi that could approach Darren and ask any questions about his confrontation with Rory yesterday. She glanced at them through her interior rearview mirror, concerned.
TINA: Darren, hey, you guys alright back there? I thought I heard a sound--
DARREN: (Glaring at Helen and Jake, through clenched teeth:) --We're fine, Tina. Nothing for you to worry about. (Tina hesitates for a moment, hearing the edge in Darren's voice, then pushes a button that rolls the dark window back up, and Darren narrows his eyes:) How dare you? (Pauses as both continue to stare at him, speechless:) You do know what the word "charity" means, don't you? It means "love in demonstration". Are you both saying to me that you don't want my love by my offering to do this?
HELEN: (Wide-eyed with Jake:) No, of course not, son! That's preposterous! (Pauses:) Your love is very important to us, don't ever doubt that!
JAKE: (Nodding in agreement:) Yeah!
DARREN: Then I don't see what the problem is. You give Daria and Quinn money when they need things, am I right? (Helen and Jake look at each other wordlessly) All I'm trying to do is make it easier on you two financially when it comes to their college education because I have the means to do so. (Holds up hand to stop Helen, who's about to speak:) Look, please hear me out before you say something else. The money I have to me represents an extension of my deceased (adopted) parents. It was a part of them, a legacy that they left me. What good is it if I don't use it for something good, certainly for my new family? You went to the Appleton Foundation meeting yesterday, Helen. You saw what it was for, to help others, in this case, those who can't help themselves. (Helen takes on a thoughtful expression) Now, obviously Daria and Quinn aren't as needy as people in the Sudan or Ethiopia, but I want to do my part for them as their brother. I think--(pauses:) no, I know I have that right to do this. (Gets in a quiet tone:) Please let me do this for them--(pauses:) and for the both of you.
Helen glazed into what appeared to her to be the pleading eyes of her son, and she held back a quiet sob. Oh Lord, what in the hell are we doing? Darren wants to help us financially with his sister's educations, and Jake and I won't let him? And after all those times I railed against mother about helping Rita and Erin financially, but not me and my family, and Darren does by far and away have the means to do that! Well, if he wants to help us, then--
Helen couldn't finish her thoughts as a sobbing Jake suddenly moved in front of her, startling her in the process, and reached out, hugged, and pulled over an equally-startled and rattled Darren around his head and neck, rocking Darren in his arms, all the while sitting beside him.
JAKE: (Between sobs:) My son! Oh, my son! You only wanna help me and your mom out with your sisters 'cause you love them, too! (Looks at Helen, pleading, as Darren struggles to get free while gasping for breath:) Oh God, Helen, if Darren wants to help us out, why can't we let him?! Why can't we leeeet him?!
HELEN: (Rolls her eyes, sighs:) Oh for the love of--Jake, I agree with you! (Jake forms a delightful look on his face while Darren continues to struggle) If Darren wants to help, then we'll let him!
JAKE: YAHOO! (Looks down at his now-turning blue son:) Didja hear what she said, son? You can help us by payin' for all of Daria and Quinn's college educations! We're gonna let you! Isn't that great?!
DARREN: (Gasping between words:) Oh--yeah--just--peachy--Jake! Could--you--let--me--go--now--(pauses:) please?
HELEN: (Alarmed:) Jake, you're choking him! Let go!
JAKE: Huh? (Looks down at his son with a confused expression, then quickly releases him:) Ooops, sorry about that, Big Guy! Just got a little excited there, that's all! (Moves back over beside Helen)
DARREN: (While taking deep breaths and rubbing his neck, gives Jake a quick, strange look:) No--problem--Jake. (Begins to speak normally:) Thanks, you two. I really appreciate you allowing me doing this for my sisters. (Hesitates:) Er, look, I'm sorry for behaving like that just now--
HELEN: (Cuts him off, reaches over and pats him on his knee, quiet tone, smiles:) --It's alright, Darren. Jake and I should've known that you just wanted to take the educational financial burden off of us. (Looks away, tries not to cry, and Jake puts his arm around her as Darren gives a small smile, then Helen struggles to speak as she turns back to him with tears in her eyes:) We--we just don't know how to thank you for this, son--
DARREN: (Grins:) --Like I said, you and Jake will have to make time from your busy work schedules and visit Daria and Quinn while they go to college. That's the price I require. Now, as for that other thing I want to speak to you both about, it, too, is about money, and yes, it concerns my sisters again. (Takes another deep breath:) Since you've both agreed to accept my paying for all of Daria and Quinn's college educations, I wanted to know what you'd think about my giving Daria and Quinn a stipend of some sort. (Helen and Jake become wide-eyed, and Darren sees this, adds quickly:) You'd decide how much they'd get and how often, of course, at least while they still live under your roof. I didn't want to go behind your backs and tell Daria and (thought v.o.: Particularly) Quinn about this without your knowing.
HELEN: (Speechless:) Oh, Darren, I mean, paying for both of your sister's educations is one thing, but we couldn't possibly--
JAKE: (Jumps in, grabs a startled Helen by the shoulders:) --How much do ya think we should allow Darren to give 'em, Helen? (Narrows eyes:) You know Quinn requires a hell of a lot more moolah than Daria, and--
HELEN: (Glares at him in disbelief, then dislodges herself from him as Darren chuckles:) --JAKE!
JAKE: (Whiny:) Aw, c'moooon, honey! Our son wants to take off as much of the financial burden from us as he can! If he wants to give his sisters some money every now and then, then what's the damn problem? He wants to do it for their college stuff, why not this? Hell, he can afford that too, you know! (Helen shuts her eyes slowly in exasperation, sighs)
DARREN: Look, you don't have to answer me right now, just promise me that you'll think about it, and tell me what you've decided before you go back to Lawndale, okay? I won't say anything to anyone--(pauses:) even to Jane, I promise. This is just between us.
HELEN: (Ponders, smiles:) Very well, Darren. Jake and I will talk about it--
JAKE: (Crosses his arms, rolls his eyes at Helen, looks out of limo's window:) --I know already what I've decided, honey! (Glances back at Helen, then suddenly sticks out his tongue:) NYYAH! (Looks out of limo window again, and Darren tries not to laugh out loud)
HELEN: (Clenches her teeth, frowns:) Jaaaake-- (narrows eyes at Darren:) Er, Quinn didn't have something to with this, did she? (Darren's eyebrows shoot up, surprised) She didn't say anything on the side to you about needing some money for some clothes, because if she did--
DARREN: (Puts up his hands, laughs:) --No, no, Helen! I can assure you, this was all my idea! No one, not even my aunt Millie or Curtis knows about it. You and Jake are the first people to hear of this.
HELEN: (Relieved sigh:) That's good, sweetie because-- (suddenly there's a muffled ringing sound in Helen's purse) oh, it's my cell phone, probably Eric! Excuse me, you two--(reaches in her purse)
JAKE: (Frowns, clenches his fist:) Dammit, Helen! Why in the hell couldn't you have left that damn phone back at the mansion? Do ya gotta always be at that Eric guy's beck and call? We're on vacation, remember? (Gets into a mocking voice of Helen, pretends he's holding a cell phone--see "Psycho Therapy":) Oh, Eric, is that yooou? Do you need for me to blow your nose? (Darren watches the scene, mildly bemused)
HELEN: (Glares dangerously at Jake:) Zip it, Jake. (Jake rests his head in his left hand, puts elbow on limo's door rest, looks out, bored) This won't take too long. (Clicks on phone, and that falsetto voice kicks in:) Hellooo? (Pauses, raised eyebrows:) You're not Eric. (Pauses:) This is Helen Morgendorffer. (Pauses:) You want Jake Morgendorffer? (Jake looks over at Helen) Yes, he's here. Who's this? (Pauses:) Calvin Hopkins? (Jake groans, slaps his forehead) How did you get my--(pauses:) my boss gave it to you after you couldn't reach my husband's cell phone number, and you called where I worked to get my cell phone number because you needed to get in touch with my husband really badly, I see. (Frowns at Jake, who looks sheepish:) Yes, he's here with me and my son--(pauses, flinches at the muffled shout of delight from the other end, then in a flat tone and look:) yes, that Darren Appleton. (Pauses:) You want to speak to Darren now? But what about my husband, didn't you wish to speak to hi--(pauses, then frowns, voice is becoming annoyed:) look, Mr. Hopkins, my son really doesn't know you, and--
Darren sighed, and suddenly surprised Helen by reaching over and gently taking her cell phone away from her.
DARREN: It's okay, Helen, I'll speak to him. (Puts phone to ear, firm voice:) Mr. Hopkins? (Pauses:) Yes, it's Darren Appleton. (Pauses, flat tone and look similiar to Helen's:) Yes, the Darren Appleton. (Pauses, cocks an eyebrow at Jake:) Land project, you say? (Pauses:) Oh, and you, Andrew Landon and a Steve Taylor are there in your office as well waiting to hear from Jake? I see. (Pauses:) Why, ah, yes, Jake was--er, just telling me about it, in fact. Housing and golf links, eh? In the Midwest? (Jake sighs as Darren continues to listen politely) You want to add casinos, too? I understand. (Pauses, nods:) You'll need some capital to get started, of course. Tell you what: I'm interested, but there are some demands from me that you and your associates will have to agree upon. First: You're going to have to get rid of the casino and gambling part. Those "elements", shall we say, attract certain criminal undesirables that I'd sooner not allow within a million mile radius of us. Besides, I have more than enough money to suit me, and I don't need to take someone else's hard-earned cash on their faint hopes that they'll strike it rich while we all line our own pockets. (Looks over at Jake, smirks:) Second: You'll have to allow Jake Morgendorffer to oversee everything. (Jake looks stunned as Darren pauses to hear a strangled gasp from the other end:) Yes, you heard me, my birth father Jake. (Cocks an eyebrow:) Do you have a problem with that? (Pauses as there are several frantic shouts of "Nonono!" from the other end:) Good, I figured that you or the others wouldn't. (Narrows eyes, in a direct tone:) Finally, the third thing: Do not call up here again for any reason while Jake's on vacation. You or anyone else who's with you on this land deal does, and the deal's off. My birth father's here to relax, and he doesn't need to be distracted by anything from your end, do I make myself clear? (Pauses as there are several frantic shouts of "Yesyesyes!" from the other end, and Jake looks touched, while Helen chuckles:) Very good, Mr. Hopkins. Jake will get together with you on how much capital you all will need when he gets back to Lawndale, and he'll call me. (Pauses:) It was a pleasure doing business with you, too. Goodbye. (Clicks off phone, hands it back to Helen)
JAKE: (Very proud look, swings his fist:) Wow, son! That was great! You sure showed some real business acumen there!
HELEN: (Impressed:) Yes, son, you sounded like quite the businessman. (Pauses:) Your, um, parent's influence, I assume?
DARREN: Well, yes, and thanks for the compliments. They took me many times with them while they worked when I was out of school for a break or during the summer. My parents decided I could learn the various operations of our business only by being there firsthand. I remember often as a child, I sat quietly in the corner of a room in a board of directors meeting, and watched my dad and mom deal with everyone else there, and at my mom's separate meetings at Circa. (Pauses, shrugs:) Er, between playing with my toys, of course. (Helen chuckles, and Jake gets that goofy grin on his face) As I got older, and my parents continued to emphasize the importance of my understanding what running a business meant, I paid more attention, then my dad gave me summer clerkroom jobs at Appleton, even making sure that I received no special treatment, and I had to work as hard as everybody else. Even on the homefront, my parents even made me clean my own room, and gave me a modest weekly allowance. I learned a lot from all that, I can tell you.
JAKE: (Suddenly slaps his fist, which startles Helen and Darren:) DAMMIT! Why didn't we do something like that with Daria and Quinn, honey? Who knows, Daria could've been a lawyer like you, and Quinn a consultant like her ol' dad, (pauses, realizes:) or maaaybe the other way around! (Sighs, gets a dreamy look off in space:) My daughter Daria a consultant...
HELEN: (Shakes her head slowly, pats Jake gently on his shoulder:) Honey, at the time, we were so much into our jobs, (for an instant, Helen gets a depressed look at this, but quickly rids herself of it:) I don't think we could've made the time to be with them like we should've. Besides, from an early age, Daria exhibited the signs of being a writer. (Shudders:) Remember those "Melody Powers" stories she started to write when she was only six? (Darren's eyebrows raise in amazement as Jake nods in agreement) And Quinn began to want to get into fashions at an early age when she kept slipping into our bedroom in Highland, wearing my dresses and shoes, and making her cute little "fashion statements" about them! (Laughs:) The poor baby-sitter was run ragged every time she went in there to get her, and to prepare her for a bath! (Jake grins and Darren chuckles)
JAKE: (Starting to laugh:) Yeah, and remember when Daria kept locking herself in her bedroom when the sitter tried to get her to take a bath with her sister? Boy, did we have to pay that sitter a pretty penny a lot of times to put up with that, huh?
HELEN: (Giggling:) Oh my, yes! I think we gave her so much money, she had enough saved for a good used car--
JAKE: (Still laughing:) --Hell, don't you mean college? (Both of them laugh even harder as Darren watches them quietly with a slight, wistful smile) B-Boy, those were the days, huh, Helen?
HELEN: D-Definitely, Jake! I sometimes wonder how in the world we survived what those two did, and--(notices Darren, realizes what her and Jake's stroll down memory lane must be doing to him, turns pale, and it even hits Jake, who stops laughing:) oh, dear Lord, son, we didn't mean to--
DARREN: (Cuts her off, smirks:) --Tell me about how you all lived all those years ago while I was up here? (Pauses:) Why not? It's something we're all used to anyway by now, isn't it? What's wrong with my knowing about this?
JAKE: We--we just didn't want to give the impression we were leaving you out Big Guy, that's all.
DARREN: (Rolls his eyes:) Pleeease. (Puts index finger and thumb close together:) I'll admit I felt a little left out when I heard you two going on like that, but then again, feeling like that now is pointless. What's done is done, and we have to all go on, we can't change what's happened. (Grins:) Besides, I want to get as much dirt on my sisters as I possibly can. (Rubs his hands eagerly together as Helen and Jake laugh:) Gimmie the juicy stuff.
Helen's cell phone rang yet again, breaking the humourous moment, and she gave a loud sigh.
HELEN: Unless Jake's associates have decided to not buy that land, I'm assuming this is Eric. Excuse me. (Clicks on phone, gets into the falsetto voice:) Hellooo? (Pauses:) Eric? How are you? (Pauses:) I'm fine. You? (Pauses:) Good. I'm riding in a limo with my husband and son, Darren, and we're-- (Pauses, gets yet again into a flat-eyed look and tone, sighs:) yes, that Darren Appleton. (Darren and Jake look at each other while Helen becomes wide-eyed, glances at Darren) You want to speak to Darren? Well, uh, Eric, that is--(Darren sighs, motions for her to hand him the phone) um, here he is. (Gives Darren the phone)
DARREN: (In same firm, business-like tone:) Mr. Schrecter? Darren Appleton. (Pauses:) Alright, Eric it is, then. You can call me Darren. (Pauses as he listens, cocks an eyebrow at Helen:) You were wondering if Helen had asked me if your firm could handle any local legal business matters on my behalf if or when they come up down there? As a matter of fact, we were talking about that just now. (Helen smirks, gives Darren an "Are you kidding?" look) I have no problem with that-- (A "YES!" sound and cheers are heard on the other end, then Darren adds:) provided that all of my legal matters go through my birth mother Helen, and only her. I'll accept no one else. (Helen gets a stunned look on her face as Darren pauses:) You've no problem with that at all, having talked to Helen about it already? (Pauses, smiles slowly:) Excellent. Oh, and one more thing, Eric-- (gets into a serious tone:) please do not call up here for any reason while Helen is here. (Unlike Jake, a panicked Helen tries to reach for the phone, but a smirking Darren turns himself and the phone away from her, while Jake chuckles, which causes Helen to glare at him, and he quickly clams up) I want my birth mother to have a good time while she's here, and not to be distracted by anything that goes on down there. (Takes a tone that implies bad consequences if he does:) I'd be very annoyed if you did, and it might give me some "second thoughts" on our new arrangement, if you know what I mean. Could you please ask Helen not to worry, and to not bother calling your firm, and to just have a good time with her family? (Helen gasps at this, drops mouth as Darren pauses:) You will? Wonderful! (Hands Helen phone, smiles:) Here you go, Helen. Eric wants to speak to you. (Sighing, Helen reluctantly takes the phone from Darren)
HELEN: Eric? Helen. (Pauses:) You don't want me to call you while I'm on vacation, and don't worry about anything going on down there at the firm, and you won't call me up here? (Sarcastic, droll tone:) What a surprise. (Glares for a moment at Darren, but then gives him a small smile, pauses:) You simply want me to have a good time? (Sighs:) I think I can do that, I suppose. We'll talk when I get back. (Pauses:) Goodbye. (Clicks off phone, cocks an eyebrow:) Well, looks like I'll just have to worry about vacationing, thanks to you, son. (Pauses, then adds as Darren smirks:) And thank you for letting me handle your affairs in Lawndale. (Hesitates:) I was going to mention this to you, but to be honest with you, I didn't know how to go about it.
DARREN: (Intrigued:) Oh, why?
HELEN: (Red-faced:) Well--
JAKE: (Adding his two bits worth, jumps in:) --And I wanna thank you on that land deal thing, son. (Helen glares at Jake for interrupting her) It's sorta similar to the college education and stipend things, right, honey? We didn't want to take advantage of your fame and fortune by, uh, (pauses, looks pained for an instant:) usingyournametoadvanceourcareersandallthat.
DARREN: (Sighs, shakes his head:) Look, I can't "escape" who I am, now. As far as I'm concerned, I don't see either of you as "using" me, similar to Jane's knowing me that's made her artwork supposedly hot. Both of you are good in what you do like Jane anyway, so that's no big deal. Just as long as you don't lose sight of what's important to you in your life, it's okay, really. I don't mind you guys "riding" on my name to be successful.
HELEN: (Gets a relieved look, smiles:) Thank you, Darren. (Pauses, hesitates:) I told Daria something like that just before we came up here, though to be honest with you, I wasn't quite sure if I believed it myself. It's good to hear your endorsement.
JAKE: (Stunned:) Wow, Helen, I had the same fears and stuff about saying something like that to our son, too! (Gives thumbs up to Darren:) Yeah, Big Guy, thanks!
DARREN: (Smiles, sits back:) You're both welcome. Glad I could help. I figured I could trust you both to do what you do best on my behalf. (The limo begins to move faster, and Darren looks out the limo's window:) Looks like we're moving again and the rain's let up some. Hopefully, we'll be at Appleton Tower in less than an hour to meet Leonard and Constance at that meeting.
JAKE: (Snaps fingers:) Hey, oh yeah! Speaking of that "Leonard" fella, I was wondering: (Narrows eyes:) Is he any relation to that "Harry Potter" guy? (Helen and Darren glance at each other uneasily)
(Scene changes to the mansion, an hour later)
Daria, now dressed in her regular attire, exited from the study to go upstairs when she saw the back of a seemingly very familiar young man who had just went past the study and was walking down the hallway. She frowned in perplexity, then shouted moderately after the man.
DARIA: Darren? (The man keeps walking, and Daria shouts again, this time a bit louder:) Hey, Darren? (The man stops and turns around while Daria comes up to him) What's going on? Wait, don't tell me--mom forgot her cell phone and you guys had to come back and get it before she threatened to hijack the limo, right? (Stops as she comes up to the now-smirking young man, narrows her eyes:) Wait a minute, you're not my brother--(pauses:) unless you've gone behind my back and have gotten a mild form of plastic surgery suddenly in a few hours without our gentically-shared parents knowing somehow while simultaneously riding with them in the limo. (Thought v.o.: Though in dad's case, I fear I can actually see that happening.)
The young man cocked an amused eyebrow over Daria's remarks, then chucked.
MAN: Nope, this is my real face. Unfortunately, I'm not Darren, though I wouldn't mind having his money. (Extends hand, which Daria takes and shakes:) Just call me Sam. I'm part of the staff here, or rather, I was. I'm assuming with that witty remark, you must be Daria Morgendorffer. I was told about you.
DARIA: (Thought v.o.: Rats! Can't catch anybody off-guard up here with my witticisms! Darren's done a damn thorough job in "preparing" them all.) You assume correctly, Sam. (Hesitates:) Um, you know, this is gonna sound stupid, but from far away--
SAM: (Grins:) --I looked like Darren Appleton? Then I've succeeded in what I was supposed to do, even without my make-up, like me and some other actors have always done for several years for the Appletons.
DARIA: (Cocks an eyebrow:) Uh, excuse me, but what in the hell are you talking about? "Actors"? "Make-up"?
SAM: Darren didn't tell you? (Daria looks at him like he's crazy) Well, I guess he obviously didn't yet. You see, me and four other guys are actors that the Appletons employed because we looked like Darren. We, or rather, I, have been doing this since I was about ten years old, the others since Darren was eleven years old.
DARIA: (Narrows eyes:) Since you were ten years old? (Frowns, confused:) Hold it, I don't get it. Why would the Appletons hire you to--(pauses, realizes:) wait a second, does this all have something to do with keeping Darren out of the "spotlight"?
SAM: (Nods head in the affirmative:) Uh-huh, you're beginning to understand now. You see, the Appletons hired an acting firm to spot someone who had a similar physical appearance to their son. At the time, the firm called for "An auburn-haired boy for a special role". I had aspirations to be a child actor, and my parents thought it was for a movie or commercial role, so they sent me to "audition", or so I thought. Turns out I was chosen over several hundred other boys to be a decoy for the Appleton's son, to lure the media away from putting the, as you say, "spotlight" on him, to protect his privacy. At first, my parents thought this was some of joke, but after my folks were showed the annual fee the Appletons were offering, and promises that I wouldn't be noticed in my private life while not pretending to be Darren because I'd be disguised in make-up while I was, let's just say they immediately jumped at the idea. My job, along with the other look-a-likes, was simple: Before the "real" Darren would travel around in public, we'd go with his parents, while Darren would then be secretly wisked by the press via the mansion's security. In the meantime, the media were trying to take pictures of me or of the others, all the while not spotting Darren. (Chuckles:) I've lost count on how many times we've done this stuff.
DARIA: (After a moment:) Hm--clever. You and your "duplicates" would rotate taking turns in subbing for my bro?
SAM: Yeah, something like that, though at times there were as many as three of us at really big social events. (Chuckles:) We usually confused the hell out of the paparazzi.
DARIA: Did you or the others know Darren pretty well personally?
SAM: (Shrugs:) Actually, no, for obvious reasons, not wanting the press on the off-chance to spot us both together, and ruining the "secret". I didn't even know the other kid actors. We occasionally ran across each other at the mansion when we were given our "assignments", but we didn't get together for the same reasons. Like I said, without our make-up and stuff, we were just "regular" kids who could go out anytime and do all of the stuff we wanted, though we were sworn to secrecy when we did. Can't complain, though, since all that money I and the other guys got more than paid for my college education, a new car, acting school, and some stuff for my folks. (Sighs while Daria cocks an intrigued eyebrow at this:) Now that Darren's officially out in the public now, we're not needed anymore.
DARIA: Ah, that's what you meant by "was" part of the staff.
SAM: Yep. I was here to pick up my last paycheck and say goodbye to Darren, but I just found out he went out with his par--I mean, birth parents. Maybe I'll catch him sometime later this year. This is my last day free before I go to college on the West coast, and I wanted to see him before then.
DARIA: Sorry. I don't think he and my folks will be back until tonight.
SAM: Yeah, I was told by the security people here that he was gone. (Starts to walk away:) Well, it was nice to meet his sister, at least. See you.
DARIA: (Watches after him:) Yeah, you too, 'bye. (Thought v.o.: Well, that would explain a hell of a lot by how Darren stayed away from the press people and didn't get on any pics when Jane and I tried to look for any of him at the local library. Too bad I couldn't have any duplicate Darias to deal with Quinn while we were growing up when I didn't want to, though I would have had a grand damn time with confusing mom. Dad, well, dad--) (Sighs, walks down the hall and up the grand stairs)
The young man known as Sam walked into the foyer and to the front door as Tiffany and Stacy, minus the still-sleeping Quinn and Sandi, and dressed in their summer "skort" clothing, came in from the dining room, presumably having eaten brunch. The two stopped and stared at him. Sam stopped as well and glanced at them just as Elenor came in to open the door for him to leave.
SAM: (Smiles:) Thanks, Elenor. (As he's leaving, suddenly winks at the two:) Hiya, cuties! (Stacy and Tiffany stare at him wide-eyed and with their mouths open in shock, then glance at each other)
TIFFANY: Hey, did I...hear him right...?
STACY: (Hyperventilating:) OHMYGODOHMYGODOHMYGOD! T-That he j-just c-called us his "cuties"?! D-Does this mean that it's over with Jane? Ohhh nooo, she's gonna come after us because he said that! AAAAH! (Suddenly takes off running upstairs with Tiffany before a surprised Elenor can say anything)
ELENOR: (Stares after the two, shakes head with eyes closed:) I missed something here, I'm sure of it. What, I don't know as of yet. (Goes after the two)
(Scene changes to upstairs, a minute earlier)
As Daria proceeded to her room, she suddenly spotted Jane and Millie coming out of Darren's art studio into the hallway, and laughing. Smirking, she went over to them.
DARIA: Getting quite chummy, I see--?
JANE: (Surprised:) Daria? (Becomes sheepish:) Umm, Millie and I were just getting better acquainted, and we were talking about my folks. (Pauses, smirks:) Taking a break from the book "monastery"?
DARIA: (Deadpan, smirks:) My "silence" should confirm your suspicions, Jane. (Pauses:) Seriously though, yeah. I'm just gonna get a quick nap in my room before I resume my reading. Might as well not strain my eyes--
JANE: (Grins, cuts her off:) --Or find yourself falling asleep again in the study, amiga? (Millie looks at the two curiously, while Daria gives a slight glare at Jane)
MILLIE: (Cocks an eyebrow:) You fell asleep in the study, Daria? (Pauses:) When was this?
DARIA: (After a moment:) Um, well, Saturday night, Millie. (Quickly adds as she looks uneasily at Jane:) It was no biggie. Darren and Jane found me in there, and uh, "helped" me up to my room. (Jane supresses a giggle) I didn't want to fall asleep in there again.
MILLIE: (Raised eyebrows, concerned look:) Darren and Jane found you in there? I didn't hear anything from him on this! How did he react to being in there?
JANE: (Quickly adds to reassure Millie:) It's okay, Millie, really. (Now in a mock-melodramatic tone:) He braved going in there with me, worried only about his little sister, and why she wasn't in her bed at that time of hour. (Daria rolls her eyes) As he told you and us, he was really excited about not having any nightmares in the study for the first time since he came back from Lawndale, and wanted to tell me and Daria first. When he checked Daria's room, she wasn't there, and we guessed she was in the study, having been there all night, which she was.
MILLIE: (Nods:) I understand, Jane. (Turns to Daria:) It's very wise for you to take a break then, dear. (Pauses, ponders:) Oh, and by the way, after your little nap and before you go back into the study, could you stop by my room to talk? I'd like to get to know you and Quinn a bit better now that we're all family. (Jane gives a pale-looking Daria a quick, wicked grin that implies, "Your turn.")
DARIA: Um, sure, Millie, no problem. I'll see you in an hour-and-a-half, or so--?
MILLIE: (Pats Daria on the shoulder, smiles:) Fine, Daria. Now, I'm going to see if your sister's awake so I can get to know her, too. (Leaves)
DARIA: (Looks after her, deadpan:) Oh joy, this should be fun. I can't wait to be dissected by her.
JANE: Actually, Millie's pretty cool--(notices Daria's cocked eyebrow:) really--(adds:) er, for an adult, that is.
DARIA: Yeah, obviously she is to you. You guys seemed to be having a ball when I came up. (Pauses:) You really told her about your "normal" family?
JANE: (Shrugs, insistent tone:) Hey, she wanted to know, and I really wanted to get in good terms with her because of Darren! (Narrows eyes:) I thought for the tiiiiniest moment in fibbing to her about them because I was kinda scared she'd be put off, but I decided to come clean--(adds:) that, and the fact Helen had told Millie some things my mom had told your mom already anyway about the "Wondering Lanes". Hell, I didn't want to be caught in a possible lie that could make things worse.
DARIA: (Ponders:) Makes sense. (Pauses:) So, you told her about Summer and her runaway kids?
JANE: (Flat tone:) Yep.
DARIA: Penny and her various lousy Central American business decisions that drove her to bankruptcy and beyond?
JANE: (Flat tone:) Uh-huh.
DARIA: Wind and his "rousing" success when it came to marriage?
JANE: (Flat tone:) You know it.
DARIA: (Pauses:) Trent--well, I can't say really about his slackness, since he and Mystick Spiral are doing a bit better on that tour, but--
JANE: (Flat tone:) --Told her all about him before his recent good fortune, yeppers, (pauses:) every freakin' bit of it.
DARIA: (An impressed look:) Vincent and Amanda?
JANE: (Smirks:) Battin' a thousand, m'dear. All of the Lane dirt was poured out of the bag right before her eyes. She told me she was impressed how I didn't hold anything back from her, and I how I turned out despite my family's, er, "troubles", and said she saw no problem with me being with her nephew. (Pauses, slight smile:) Gotta admit it, Daria: That made me feel really good what she said. She didn't pre-judge me, or anything, either by my looks, or my family.
DARIA: (After a moment, adds her own slight smile:) Yeah, I guess it would make you feel on top of the world, wouldn't it? I suppose it won't be so bad, then. (Looks past Jane:) Don't look now, but two of the fashion and boy-obsessed quadruplets are heading this way. (Jane turns around, looks in the same direction) Say, is it just me, or do they look kind of agitated for some reason?
JANE: It's not just you, Daria, I see it, too. (Sighs:) I suppose this was bound to happen, though I'm surprised it took it this long to do so: Stacy and Tiffany have finally gone off the deep end because some of the semi-tight clothing they wore suddenly became very constrictive around their bodies, and cut off the blood circulation to their brains, thus causing them to behave like this. (Pauses:) I call it the "Skintight Blight".
DARIA: (Deadpan:) Odd, I thought that already happened a few years back with their thinking capacity for knowledge other than fashions and boys, like schoolwork, and life in general.
JANE: (Smirks:) It did. This is the second and final part of the "Skintight Blight". The end result is what you see coming up in front of you. (Daria smirks as Stacy and Tiffany come up, wide-eyed, and breathless) May we help you two--(adds:) if we can, that is?
TIFFANY: Yeah, we didn't...know that Darren...was going to...do that!
JANE: (Cocks an eyebrow, glances at Daria:) Do? Darren? And what exactly did he do?
STACY: (Starting to really hyperventilate:) He--he--AAAAH! (Turns around, blasts past Elenor, who's coming in the opposite direction behind them having followed, spinning her around so fast, it almost knocks her down)
TIFFANY: (After a moment:) Uhhh, we didn't...do anything, Jane...really. Darren did it...all. We didn't...encourage him...(suddenly rushes off, following Stacy, and does the same thing to Elenor, who staggers around dizzily)
Daria and Jane stared after the two for an instant with blank expressions.
DARIA: Well. (Pauses:) That certainly cleared just about everything up.
JANE: Ooooh yeah. (Pauses:) What say we help Elenor over there, and stop her from spinning like a top, and maybe she can help clarify it to the point of us actually understanding it?
DARIA: Sounds reasonable.
Both young women went over to the dizzy Elenor, steadying her.
ELENOR: Oh, dear. Thank you Daria, Jane. (Blinks:) The hallway is still spinning before my eyes!
DARIA: Then you're in good company. My life flashes before my eyes everytime I go to bed at night. (Pauses:) I find myself hoping I never get up in the morning anymore, and what do you know, I still do. (Jane chuckles, and after a moment, so does Elenor) Any idea as to what and why Stacy and Tiffany were babbling about like morons just now--
JANE: (Smirks:) --Anymore than they usually do?
ELENOR: (Cocks an eyebrow at Jane:) I don't know, you two. One moment both girls were coming out of the dining room, then as I let a man named Sam out to leave, he notices them, calls them both "cuties", and--(stops as a look of realization forms on her face, then she begins to giggle, putting her hand over her mouth:) o-oh dear, surely they didn't t-think he was--
DARIA: (Slowly smirks in realization as well:) --Had to be that, Elenor. They probably thought Sam, or rather Darren, was coming onto them.
JANE: (Utterly confused look, cuts her eyes between the two rapidly:) Ooookay, lemme get this straight: Who in the hell is this "Sam" guy, what in the hell does he have to do with Darren, and why in the hell did Stacy and Tiffany think that Darren, or "Sam", or "Darren", or Sam, or whoever the hell CAME ONTO THEM JUST NOW?! (Grabs her head, shuts her eyes, through clenched teeth:) SOMEBODY BETTER START DOIN' SOME TALKIN', AND DO IT THE HELL RIGHT NOW! (Elenor looks at Jane uneasily)
DARIA: (Sighs, pats Jane gently on her right shoulder:) Calm down, my fellow maniac. All will be revealed.
JANE: (Suddenly perfectly calm, flat tone:) Okay. (Pauses:) You may speak, amiga...
(Scene changes to downstairs, the same time)
Dressed in his regular clothing, Edward came out of the media room with his hand in his pocket (having just removed the electronic bug from in there out of fear that one of the servants might've discovered it while cleaning), and promptly saw a stoic-looking Jim, ditto in his own clothing, staring at him with his arms crossed, leaning against the wall opposite of him. Edward frowned, puzzled for a brief moment, then smirked as he slowly took his hand out.
EDWARD: Hello, Jim, old boy. May I help you?
JIM: (Cocks an eyebrow, sneers:) I dunno, "old chap", perhaps you can. (Pauses:) Mind telling me what you were doing in the media room this time of the day?
EDWARD: (Cooly:) Perhaps I will, provided you tell me why you were out here in the first place.
JIM: (Sneers:) Sure, why not? I was bored out of my skull since I didn't feel like bowling or playing any games in the gameroom, and it's raining so hard outside I couldn't go out onto the grounds, so I decided to wonder around the mansion, (motions head:) and happened to see you just walking in there.
EDWARD: (Stares at Jim for a moment, thought v.o.: Better not use the same excuse I did when that "Daria" and "Jane" saw me come out of here before.:) (Shrugs:) Not that it's any of your concern, and that it shouldn't be a great surprise to you, but I was putting a movie back into the video library. I watched it in my room late last night.
JIM: (Thought v.o.: Damn! I didn't get a good look at him when he walked in the media room! Wished I could've known if he had a tape!) Really? (Pauses:) Even after you all saw Close Encounters of the Third Kind?
EDWARD: For your information, I already had the tape in my room for a few days, and had just finished watching it, so it's another movie. (Narrows eyes:) Why? You're thinking of watching it, too?
JIM: (Snorts, rolls his eyes:) Please. I doubt I'd have the same "exquisite" taste in movies as you do--
EDWARD: (Droll look, tone:) --Yes, I'm sure your favorite movies consist of mindless American violence with subpar acting dialogue, and scantily-clad, mindless blonde bimbos with one of those idiotic grins dominating their plastic surgery makeover-created faces, am I correct?
JIM: (Deep frown, uncrosses his arms, walks up face-to-face to a cool-looking Edward:) With all due respect, "Edward", how could you possibly know what movies I like or don't like, (pauses:) you don't know me at all--
EDWARD: (Still in the droll tone, cuts him off:) --Other than the fact that you're a very jealous man who's still pining for his ex-wife, a woman who's trying to move on with her life, but that you won't let her?
JIM: (Becomes red with rage:) Why you stuck-up British bastard! (Pauses:) Yeah, you're damn right I still care for her, and I think you're a big phony--
VOICE: (From the side:) --WHAT IS GOING ON HERE?!
Both men looked in the direction of the shout, and witnessed a very deep-scowling Millie, who had her hands on her hips, obviously looking none too pleased. Beside her was a wide-eyed Quinn, now clothed in a pink "skort" outfit. Having risen from her (over)sleeping and just changed, she had been surprised by Millie's sudden visit to her room, and was about to ask if Millie could come by later, but Millie had promised that it would be just some "small talk" for them to get to know each other better, and that they could do so over lunch. Quinn had missed meeting Sandi, Stacy and Tiffany for lunch in her room because of her late rising, thus pushing the final "fashion-prep" meeting back a tad. Fiona had informed Quinn just before Millie's visit that Sandi was still sleeping and had wished not to be disturbed, and that Tiffany and Stacy had already ate brunch in the dining room. Out of options, Quinn had reluctantly agreed to come along with Millie.
Edward and Jim looked at each other and glared, but said nothing. Millie sighed, exasperated, then motioned to Quinn.
MILLIE: Uh, Quinn, could you go on ahead into the dining room? I'll be there soon. We'll continue to get to know each other better then, and you'll have more than enough time to go to your "fashion prep-up" with your friends, okay?
QUINN: (After a moment, looks between them all:) Um, okay, Aunt Millie. Hi, Edward, Jim.
EDWARD & JIM: Good afternoon, my dear Quinn. (Edward gives a smile and a curt nod of his head) Top of the day to you, Quinn! (Jim grins and waves his hand, and both watch Quinn leave around the corner of the hallway)
MILLIE: (Now looking between Jim and Edward, frowning:) Well? I'm waiting for an explanation, you two!
EDWARD: Why don't you ask your ex-husband, Millie? He's the one who started this rather ridiculous exchange!
JIM: (Snorts:) I caught "Mr. Debonair" here walking into and coming out of the media room, suspiciously to me. He claims to have taken a movie in there, having watched it reeeeal late last night, and returning it this morning.
EDWARD: (Mock surprise:) Oh, dear me--(smirks:) I suppose "suspiciously" implies here, Millie, that your ex-husband believes that I came sneaking out of the media room, which seems ridiculous and backwards, since I'm out here in the hallway with all of you in full view. (Grins to Jim's scowl:) My apologies for sneaking out here in front of you, Jim. I'll try to make my presence known to you next time by slipping around without making a sound, alright, old boy?
MILLIE: (Cuts Jim's protest off, sighs:) That's enough, Edward. (Pauses, cocks an eyebrow:) Do you have any proof Edward was "up" to something, Jim?
JIM: (Rolls his eyes:) No, of course not, but-- (looking foolish now:) well--it's--just--he--seemed--(Edward shows a small smirk, while Millie stares at Jim stoically) look, Mill, I just--
MILLIE: (Through clenched teeth:) Enough, Jim. (Takes a deep breath, turns to Edward:) Edward, would you leave us alone to talk?
EDWARD: (After looking between the two:) Of course, Millie. I'll be up in my room making some overseas business calls. (Suddenly leans over and kisses her on the mouth, taking his time, while Jim is barely able to keep his anger at the scene in check, instead turning red again in rage) I'll see you later, luv. (Begins to leave)
JIM: (Glares, sneers:) Hey, Edward. (Millie gives Jim a warning glare)
EDWARD: (Sighs, turns around:) Yes, Jim?
JIM: I'm curious: What movie did you take back into the media room? I mean, since you don't think my taste in movies couldn't possibly measure up to your's, I wanted to know what kind of "so-called" taste you had, (adds:) since you think our movies are so inferior to your British ones.
EDWARD: (After a long pause, snorts, shrugs:) A fitting movie for our situation, old sport: Apocalypse Now. Marlon Brando and Martin Sheen were quite the actors. Not bad--(pauses:) for Yanks. (Leaves around the corner as Jim frowns)
JIM: (Thought v.o.: Sheesh! That isn't mindless violence?)
Millie watched Edward leave, then turned back to Jim, who sighed, and put up his hands. Claude was about to appear in the hallway, but sensed immediately that the two wanted to be alone, and he turned and left. On the other end of the hallway, and out of sight, Edward had paused to listen to the conversation, narrowing his eyes, all the while looking around quickly for anyone who might've come up.
JIM: Now Mill, I--
MILLIE: (Cuts him off, through clenched teeth, dangerous tone:) --Be quiet, Jim, just be quiet and listen very carefully: If you cause another scene like that again, you're leaving the mansion, no questions asked, do you understand? (Puts her hand up to stop him:) I said to be quiet. (Hesitates, pointedly stares at him:) I'll make something else clear to you: I do not, I repeat, do not love you anymore. Anything I felt for you is way past over and done with, do you understand? (Pauses:) You may have had the impression from me that I did still because we had become friends, but make no mistake--it's over with. Finished. (Jim appears to want to say something, but Millie's voice raises a bit, cutting him off) I'll not stand here and allow you to humiliate Edward, embarass our nephew, and the Morgendorffers and Jane, not to mention Quinn's friends, by your idiotic attempts at trying to break me and Edward up because you still may have (finger quotes:) "feelings" for me! (Pauses, calms down:) I want us to remain friends, Jim, I really do, but you've got to understand that I have Edward in my life now, and I'm happy. (Pauses:) You need to get on with your life, too. (Jim gets a heartbroken look at this, and Millie's tone grows quieter:) Now, promise me that you'll stop harassing Edward.
JIM: (Arms spread wide:) But--
MILLIE: (Cuts him off, very nasty look:) Jiiiim--
JIM: (Sighs:) Okay, okay! I'll try to be nicer to "Eddie", and cause no trouble! I'm sorry for the way I acted. (Pauses to see Millie cross her arms and give him a very stern glare:) Really, I'm sorry! (Pauses, hopeful look:) Satisfied?
MILLIE: (Sends him a stern look:) I'm counting on you keeping your word, Jim--(pauses, smirks:) though if you really want to make it up to me, you'll apologize to Edward. (Jim rolls his eyes as Millie cocks a knowing eyebrow at him:) I thought not. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to the dining room to be with my niece, then I'll see if Edward wants to go out somewhere tonight, because if he doesn't, I know I'll want to. (Leaves in Edward's direction. Edward, chuckling and relieved at Jim's embarassment, goes before Millie comes)
JIM: (Stares after Millie with a pained look, thought v.o.: This is not over, Edward, "old boy", not by a long damn shot. [Develops a slow smirk, stares at the media room door as Claude, now seeing that the coast is clear, comes down the hallway, and nods to Jim, who waves hello in response:] Think I have a hankerin' to watch some old war movies, one in particular...) (Goes into the media room)
(Scene changes to the Appleton Towers, the boardroom, the same time)
After having made the usual introductions with several excited employees and a quick tour of the lower floors of Appleton Tower, Darren, Helen, and Jake were now sitting around a large, black-marble rectangular table with Leonard Potter and his secretary, and a video monitor that had the image of Constance Waters on it. Darren suddenly got up out of his seat in shock, and went to the rain-soaked wall-windows that still presented a blurry, but albeit panoramic view of Manhattan's skyscrapers. He leaned on it by his hands with his arms stretched out, looking down, as if he had a great weight placed upon him. Having just heard what Constance and Leonard had told him, one could understand his reaction. He turned slowly to the group, slack-jawed, shaking his head slowly.
DARREN: I can't--I can't believe that $50 million dollars was embezzled from the company without somebody noticing it until now!
CONSTANCE: It apparently happened over a 10-month period right up to the killing of your (adopted) parents, Darren. Once our accountants discovered the discrepancies in the company's budgets, they contacted Leonard, and he contacted me, and I contacted the FBI. They're investigating what happened to the accounts, which are overseas ones.
HELEN: (Cocks an eyebrow:) I assume it was a gradual draining through carefully-crafted means, without anyone noticing in the accounting department?
LEONARD: (Rolls eyes:) And how, Helen. "Dummy" company projects and budgets created for overseas endeavors, hence the overseas accounts. (Pauses:) All signed by Benny Lodell, and ultimately approved by William Appleton. Sam Norwood wasn't involved in it, primarily because he came over after William and Benny replaced me. It's assumed that any real accounts were diverted into the "dummy" ones under false names, more than likely in Swiss banking accounts. No one, not even Arthur Sr., questioned the transactions because, well--(hesitates)
DARREN: (While sitting back down, frowns, cuts him off, bitter tone:) --Because those two bastards were considered to be trustworthy enough at the time not to be suspected of anything, you don't have to sugarcoat it, Leonard. This was a part of their damn plan in case something went wrong in murdering my (adopted) parents, and they had to get out of Dodge as soon as possible. They'd have carte blanche to live like kings overseas, and thumb their noses at everyone here--
CONSTANCE: (Ressuring tone:) --Which we don't have to worry about anymore, Darren. William's dead, and Benny Lodell's in prison along with Sam Norwood, which means no one can use them now. (Pauses:) We've already contacted the warden at the Maryland State Penitentiary to speak to Benny about getting as much of our money back as possible. (Darren narrows his eyes at this, and after another pause, Constance adds:) Benny wants to make a deal of some sort to get less time in prison in exchange for telling us where our money is overseas. (In a sarcastic tone, sneer:) We told him we weren't the district attorney or the state attorney general, and that he'd have to take it up with them.
DARREN: (Leans back in his chair with a stoic look:) If it were up to me, I'd let that S.O.B. rot in prison and even allow the money to "rot" in the accounts, too. (Sighs, glances at the monitor:) But I'm assuming you want to get it back?
CONSTANCE: (Shrugs:) Hey, $50 million bucks isn't exactly chump change to us, Darren, (adds, smirks:) even to you. (Darren chuckles) Still, maybe the FBI can locate it, and Benny can serve his entire 35-year sentence in prison, 32 with good behavior. (Pauses, adds:) Oh yes, and I'd like to ask that mum's the word on this, okay? The FBI is trying to keep this under wraps, so in case there's a chance someone other than William and Benny who knew about the money won't know that we're on to them.
HELEN: I won't say anything, Constance. (Pauses, looks at Jake:) Jake?
JAKE: (Goofy grin, "zipping motion" on his mouth:) I'm not talkin', honey!
DARREN: (Pauses, thought v.o.: No need to inform aunt Millie or the others about this at the moment. I'll tell them all later.) Sure, Constance, no problem. (Smirks:) And in the meantime, perhaps Benny can get to make some "new" friends there, too. He'll have plenty of time to do that, you know.
HELEN: (Surprised look, gasps, chuckles with Leonard and the secretary:) Darren!
JAKE: (Even he picks up on Darren's implied meaning as well, shudders:) EWWW! Son, that's--just--EWWW! (Everyone laughs)
DARREN: (Grins:) Sorry. I blame Jane and Daria for that. Their influence is beginning to rub off on me.
HELEN: (Smirks, cocks a coy eyebrow:) Should I be worried about that, son?
DARREN: (Chuckles:) I don't know. We'll see how I am at the end of this week, and go from there. (Helen snickers, while Jake obliviously grins while looking between the two, and Leonard cocks an eybrow with the secretary)
LEONARD: We'll keep on top of this for you, Darren, and let you know if the FBI has found anything immediately. (Constance gives a curt nod of agreement on the monitor)
DARREN: Good, I appreciate it, you two. (Looks at monitor:) How's the meeting in Chicago going, Constance?
CONSTANCE: We're just about there, Darren. A deal should be finished by late tonight, then I'll fly back in New York by Tuesday morning, and I'll rest. (Cocks an eyebrow:) The "deal" is still on to meet your sister Wednesday, I assume--?
DARREN: But of course. Daria will be there so you can thank her personally.
HELEN: (Beams with pride:) I still can't believe Daria was involved with convincing my son in choosing you to run this company.
JAKE: (Ditto, swings his fist:) Yeah, damn straight! My little Kiddo!
CONSTANCE: (Chuckles:) According to Darren, if it were up to your daughter, she'd deny it to her grave. (From the left side of her monitor, a woman appears onscreen and whispers something in her ear, then leaves) Oh, thank you, Kara. The meeting's about to start here. I'll see you and Daria Wednesday, Darren. Leonard, you tomorrow afternoon. It was wonderful to "meet" you two as well, Helen, Jake.
HELEN & JAKE: (Smiling:) The same here, Constance. Yeah, you too!
DARREN: Constance, before you sign off, try to come by the mansion this week before my folks leave, so you can meet my other sister Quinn and her friends, and my girlfriend Jane, too. I tried to get Jane to come along with me and Daria Wednesday, but she said she needed to work on some art and to put some finish touches on preparing her portfolio for her meeting with this "Tess Donovan" person Friday.
CONSTANCE: It's okay, Darren, I understand about your girlfriend. (Sad smile:) I'll try to meet them all and you at your home, really, but I can't completely guarantee it. I'm so swamped now, I'm lucky enough to just have the time to meet you and Daria then. (Pauses:) Take care. (Monitor goes off)
HELEN: Oh my, but Constance is very busy, isn't she? (Pauses:) Why doesn't she just delegate some of her work to others?
DARREN: (Grins, looks at Helen pointedly:) My, but that sounds familiar. (Jake smirks a bit, then chuckles while Leonard forms a curious look at the three. Helen frowns at Darren, perplexed, then realizes what he's saying, and she rolls her eyes, snorts)
HELEN: Darren, I think my situation is a little different than Constance's. I mean, she's the head of a multi-billion dollar conglomerate with 110,000 employees, while I'm just a now-equal partner at my law firm with my secretary Marianne, and perhaps another secretary in the future, working for me. My work couldn't possibly compare to her's.
DARREN: Helen, work is work, trust me on this. Both of my (adopted) parents made strict time limits as to when business was conducted, and when it wasn't. They made time for themselves to relax, (pauses:) and for me. No one called our home after 10:00 p.m. on weeknights, save for a catastrophic company situation, and not at all during the weekend. (Helen and Jake look surprised) Usually, they had people who were smart enough to take care of our company's business. Now, in Constance's case, she's still settling in as Chairwoman and CEO of Appleton and is consolidating her power base, if you will. Hopefully, she'll settle down, and will begin delegating more. (Pauses, sighs:) If she doesn't, I'll try to say something on the side to her about it. I don't want to see her burnout anytime soon. My point is, if my (adopted) parents could make the time to spend with me, why can't you two with Daria and Quinn while they're at college?
JAKE: (Grows quiet, ponders:) Ya know Big Guy, I generally do everything around my business myself. (Pauses, brightens:) Maybe I should get a secretary to help out around the ol' office, since I can afford one now, and have more time to do other stuff, like catch up on my golf game!
HELEN: (Sighs, hesitates:) I--might ask Eric to get another secretary to assist Marianne. God knows that she does as much work as I do there. I promise that I'll think about it, son.
DARREN: Fair enough. Leonard, are you ready to go to Montoni's?
LEONARD: (Rises out of his chair with everyone else, shuffles papers, puts them in his briefcase:) Yes, I am. I'm sorry to say I won't be able to go with you all to see some of the city after Montoni's. Have to finish a legal document on the Dennard account before it's presented next week, Darren.(Gives briefcase to secretary:) Please put this in my office will you, Diane?
DIANE: Yes, sir. (Leaves)
DARREN: I understand, Leonard. (Snaps his fingers:) Ah! Before we go, is my new office on the top floor done yet? (Helen and Jake look at each other curiously, and Darren smirks at them) I wanted to surprise you two.
LEONARD: (Sighs:) No, I'm sorry to say the redecoration of William's old office won't be finished until Wednesday at the earliest, Darren, at least that's what the interior decorator told me. (Darren gets a mildly disappointed look) Perhaps you'll be able to show your sister Daria the end result by then--?
JAKE: (Wide-eyed, proud look:) Wow! My son has his own office space! (Suddenly hugs a surprised Darren, sobs, while Leonard looks at Jake strangely, and Helen sighs yet again, exasperated:) My son is gonna be a businessman!
DARREN: (Struggles, tries to breathe yet again:) Oh--yes--now--if--only--I--can--live--to--get--that--far--to--be--a--good--businessman--(Leonard tries not to chuckle out loud, while Darren gives him a mock glare of disapproval)
HELEN: (Frowns, embarassed in front of Leonard:) JAKE! (Jake lets go, but still has his arm around Darren's shoulder, grinning ridiculously) You're having an office here, son? I must admit that this is a bit of a surprise. I thought you turned all of Appleton's operations over to Constance.
DARREN: I did, but that still doesn't excuse me from learning everything about Appleton, and being "close to the action" when I'm not at Eastward and studying. I am the majority stockholder on the Board of Directors, you know, and the future Chairman and CEO of Appleton, (adds:) though that's waaaay in the future, of which I've assured Constance in private over the phone, and will do so again face-to-face with her on Wednesday. She doesn't have to worry about me "looking over her shoulder", (frowns:) unlike my "dear" uncle William. I'm in no hurry to sit in the hotseat, and business school awaits after Eastward, as well as several more years of observing the way Appleton operates. Constance didn't want the office space because it used to be William's, and suffice it to say, she wasn't a fan of his, and being there, she told me, would've given her the creeps. I had no problem with taking it, even though it's the office of the man who planned and directed the murders my (adopted) parents. In a way, it's ironic: I'll soon have the office of my uncle William, who wanted to be rid of me and have it all to himself. (Small chuckle:) Jane and Daria will love this.
HELEN: (Takes Darren's arm, smiles:) We'll look at it another time, dear. (Looks at watch:) Oh, we better be on our way, we have a busy day ahead in the city. (Leaves the boardroom with the others)
(Various scenes in and around New York City with Helen, Jake, and Darren then occur, with one taking place inside of Gracie Mansion, where Helen enthusiastically takes pictures with her camera, and Jake with his camcorder, while Darren talks with a cartooned version of Mayor Rudy Guliani in the background as Tina and several other people, presumably the mayor's aids and own security personnel, watch them. Another scene shows Jake laughing and dancing on a sidewalk outside in Times Square with an umbrella, then suddenly grabbing a reluctant Helen from the side. He begins to dance with her while the rain is heavily coming down. After a moment, Helen loosens up and joins him, beginning to laugh as well. Wide-eyed citizens, carrying their own umbrellas, walk by and eye them as if they're out of their gourds. Darren stands beside the limo not far from them, holding his umbrella, shaking his head slowly and chuckling at the sight. Tina, sitting at the wheel, looks around uneasily, clearly embarassed, then slowly sinks out of sight behind the wheel. Yet another scene shows Jake wildly pulling his now-weary son through the rain into the Statue of Liberty, and Helen running to catch up with them. A tired-looking Tina drags herself after the trio. An additional scene now shows Jake and Helen eating a slice of pizza in a restaurant near Rockefeller Center as the rain continues outside, joking and laughing. Darren and Tina sit across from them at the table, appearing very tired, but saying nothing, smiling kindly. Tina then tries to slip from the booth, but a smirking Darren gently grabs her arm, and shakes his head, mouthing, "Oh, no you don't", then grins. Tina rolls her eyes at him, then sighs. The final scene shows the limo, by now full of shopping bags from the tour, quickly pulling off from South Street Seaport and away from a group of rain-soaked reporters who had discovered that the quartet had been out and about. It is now dark. In the limo's rear, Helen and Jake are whooping it up, while Darren is laid back in the seat across from them, exhausted. In the front, Tina takes a quick glance up and mutters a prayer of some sort to herself, mouthing, "Dear God, make it end soon, please!")
(Scene is back at the mansion, an hour later, in Quinn's room. It is now late evening, with Quinn's alarm clock reading "11:00", and the rain, which had been falling all day outside at a moderate to heavy pace, is now lightly coming down.)
Quinn and the rest of the Fashion Club were eating dinner and going over the final preparations for their meeting tomorrow with Candi Gunwald. All sat cross-legged on the floor in their PJ's and had glasses of diet soda beside them, with Quinn dining on an antipasto salad, Sandi on a "cherry cherry" salad, Tiffany on an applesauce pineapple salad, and Stacy on a broccoli salad. Earlier, Juanita and Laflita, who had to work some extra hours at their father's business and couldn't come, called to wish the four luck, and promised to come by on Wednesday.
Quinn, who was also reading the fashion designer book Sandi had brought with her, looked at her watch, sighed, and sat back against the foot of her bed, exhausted with a worn-out look. Stacy and Tiffany looked tired as well. They had been relieved after being informed by Elenor that Darren had not made a pass at them, but secretly crushed that the "cute guy Sam" wasn't coming back anytime soon. Sandi appeared wide-awake.
QUINN: Guys, I don't know about you, but I'm like, pooped. If we don't know all th' possible fashion questions Candi will ask us tomorrow, we never will. (Pushes her mostly-eaten salad, on a tray like the others, away, drinks soda) Maybe we should turn in, and everything, so we can get some sleep, and be wide-awake for tomorrow--? (Thought v.o.: And get back at Daria and Jane for what they did to my face before we leave. Turnabout's rainy play, I always say, or is that "fair"? [Glances at the water running down the window from outside:] But it's still raining outside! Oh, who cares?)
TIFFANY & STACY: Yeeeah. That sounds like a good idea, Quinn.
SANDI: (It's clear that she doesn't want to sleep, but she sees the others are almost ready to collapse on the floor, nods her head curtly:) Very well, perhaps you are correct, Quinn. We wouldn't want any unfashionable baggy eyes like that disasterous moment when we suddenly met Joey, Jeffrey, and Jakata while staying at Quinn's house over the weekend a few months ago. (Thought v.o.: That and the fact if I have another nightmare about Darren, at least I'd have enough time to calm myself down, and get some extra sleep--I hope.)(Note to reader: See the episode "Of Human Bonding" for the "disasterous moment" the F.C. had with the Three J's.)
QUINN: (Smiles:) Thanks, Sandi. (Pauses:) Um, we can leave a little early, right? Darren said he could be ready at 7:00, and when he called here a few hours ago, he told me the helicopter could be here as early as 7:15, which I said would be perfect, since he also told me that Candi comes in th' office really early anyway. He said he'd skip a day of, ew, jogging with Jane after I asked him to so he'd be ready to go with us. (Adds quickly, small, uneasy chuckle:) I mean, the sooner we meet Candi, the sooner we can go to Cashman's of Park Avenue and have the rest of the day to ourselves, right?
Sandi barely narrowed her eyes. It was obvious to her that Quinn seemed like she was up to something, but she couldn't figure out what. In the past, Sandi would suspect it would be against her, but the two had gotten along swimmingly since before they all arrived at Darren's. Time and Darren's near-death had toned down her paranoia about Quinn taking over the top F.C. spot a great deal since, also. Sandi shrugged, thinking whatever it was, it had nothing to do with her, and it was Quinn's business. I'm not caring what Quinn is doing. I really am changing.
SANDI: Er, an excellent suggestion, Quinn. The sooner we can get to Cashman's on Park Avenue, the better. I suggest we set our clocks to rise at 5:30 a.m. (Tiffany gasps, while Quinn smirks and steals a glance at an nervous-looking Stacy, who returns Quinn's look with a weak smile of her own, then all get up off the floor) We will have more than enough time to set our hairstyles with the assistance of the mansion's staff, and to smooth out the wrinkles in our power suits. Good night, everyone. (Leaves with Tiffany while Stacy looks nervously at Quinn, stays behind)
For a brief moment at Sandi's mentioning of the power suits, Quinn sighed wistfully. She had planned to purchase a new one at Reynaldo's with the money she had saved, since she couldn't get the time to purchase one from Cashman's of Park Avenue, but couldn't because of Darren's scuffle with Rory at Reynaldo's. Quinn would have to make due with what to her was a "fashionably obsolete" white one, though in actual age, it was only several months old. When she mentioned during their meeting that she only had it to wear to Circa, the Fashion Club, particularly Sandi, sympathetically supported her because of what happened yesterday, which at first privately stunned her, but then she remembered what changes the F.C. had been going through the past few days, and felt relieved.
Still, Quinn felt a bit "behind" fashion-wise when she compared her power suit to the others. White is so like a wedding. Oh well, I'll have to make do. Maybe I can finally get that new one at Cashman's of Park Avenue, and my brother can "help" me? He does kinda owe me a little for what happened at Reynaldo's. Maybe I can "hint" around at it after we meet Candi tomorrow. Now, how can I do it without mom thinking I conned it from him--? Quinn absentmindingly looked at Stacy, who was nervously flipping through the fashion designer book and simultaneously looking at Quinn out of the corner of her eye. Quinn then remembered the "talk" she wanted to continue to have with Stacy, sauntering over to her, and smirking. Stacy grew wide eyed.
Sandi and Tiffany walked into the hallway, and both were met by a worried-looking Fiona. Immediately Sandi sighed, knowing exactly what Fiona was going to say. Tiffany glanced at Sandi for an instant, offering a sympathetic look (for even she knew what the conversation was going to be about), then went into her room.
SANDI: (Annoyed tone, mild frown:) It's my mother again, right? This is the third time today!
FIONA: (Nodding her head:) I'm afraid so, Miss Sandi. She's holding on the phone. I tried to tell her once again that you were unavailable, but she vehemently insists that you become, how shall I phrase it, "available", and speak to her immediately. (Adds:) She says that if you don't come to the phone, she'll come up here on the next flight first thing in the morning, since her meeting in Baltimore ends by then, and drag you back to Lawndale for "further discussion". (Sandi turns pale)
SANDI: (Resigned tone:) I'll answer it in my room, Fiona. (Pauses, hesitates:) Like, um, thank you and everything for doing what I asked.
FIONA: (Curtsys, small smile:) You're welcome, Miss Sandi. (Turns to Quinn's room, knocks while Sandi drags herself to her room:) Miss Quinn? I'm here to take the trays downstairs!
There was a brief exchange of muffled voices, then Quinn opened the door with a syrupy smile.
QUINN: Like, could you come back in a few minutes, Fiona? I'm talking some, um, private things with Stacy.
FIONA: (After a moment:) Very well, Miss Quinn, I'll be down the hall clearing the dishes in Mi--Jane's room. I'll be back in 10 minutes. (Sighs, smiles:) Elenor, Claude, and the rest of the staff have the night off. Henri just left. My price of being the newest member of the staff, I'm afraid.
QUINN: (Gives her a quick, sympathetic smile:) Sure, Fiona. (Cocks an eyebrow, pauses:) Uh, Daria and Jane ate in their rooms, too?
FIONA: Well, Daria and Jane both ate in Jane's room, a pizza Henri prepared for them. (Frowns to remember:) They were watching something on Jane's TV called a "Mini-Sick, Sad, World Marathon". (Quinn forms a small frown of disgust, shudders) It's going to last until 3 in the morning. Both said that they won't be up until noon, at the latest. They informed me not to come in to get their dirty laundry until then, and I'll inform the rest of the staff when they come in tomorrow.
QUINN: (Thought v.o., small smirk: Perfect!) Okay then, I'll be done in 10 minutes. (Fiona curtsys, then leaves as Quinn shuts the door)
Quinn turned to see a near-terrified Stacy. Quinn sighed, and went over to her, squeezing her shoulder to reassure her.
QUINN: Stacy, it'll be alright, really! You can't back out now! (Sees her words aren't still reaching Stacy, adds:) Look, if we're caught, I'll take the full blame, okay? Daria an' Jane will be after me!
STACY: (Frantic:) Oh, Quinn! I couldn't let you take full responsibility if something goes wrong! It's not right!
QUINN: (Rolls her eyes:) Staaacy! It's no problem! I've taken a lot of stuff from my sister and Jane before, and this'll be no different. All I'm doing is paying them back for what they did to my face yesterday, an' show them that Quinn Morgendorffer is no one to be truffled with, and more importantly, it'll teach Daria what she and Jane's missin' with the way they look now! (Narrows eyes:) Look, I need you for this. I'd ask Sandi to help, but you know how it is with her and Jane, and I don't wanna like, make the situation worse between those two, or something. As for Tiffany, (searches for words:) she'd uh, well, would kinda take her time with what we're gonna do, and time is like, the essence of everything, or whatever. (Holds Stacy's hands, looks her dead in the eye:) Please say that you'll help me. I can't do this alone.
After a moment, Stacy sighed, then responded.
STACY: Well, what Daria and Jane did was mean to you, and it's not that big of a deal if it works. (Closes her eyes as if in pain for an instant, in a very small, timid voice:) Okay, I'll do it.
QUINN: (Estatic, hugs Stacy:) Oh, thanks, Stacy! (Crosses her arms, begins to pace:) Okay, we got our "equipment", right?
STACY: (Looks up, ponders:) Ummm, right, and it's all smudge and waterproof, like you wanted.
QUINN: Good. (Pauses, smiles:) Look, to make you feel a little bit better about doing this, I have a surprise I waited until now to tell you. Call it "insurance" in case my sis or Jane try to get back at us (smirks as Stacy cocks her head to stare at Quinn inquistively:): My dad said we could use his camcorder after he finishes using it on their tour of New York City with my mom and Darren. (Stacy gasps in shock) He'll leave it outside my door with a new blank tape just before he goes to bed, and everything. We'll set our alarms for 4:30 a.m., and will meet in my room five minutes after that, then go to Daria and Jane's rooms. We'll start with Daria first, then Jane. I'll do all the work, while you'll stand there an' give me the tools I'll need while holding th' camcorder--don't worry, it's a small and light one you can hold with one hand. This'll sorta be like a surgeon in an operating room--(notices Stacy getting worried again, sighs, adds quickly:) and stop fretting, okay? Like I told you, Daria and Jane are deep sleepers, I heard them talking about it once in Daria's room at my house when I, um, "overheard". Besides, Fiona just told me that both of them are watchin' a marathon of that "Sick, Sucky, World" show they like, and it won't end 'till 3 a.m. They'll be waaay under, trust me. (Thought v.o.: Though I know I'm taking a big chance on Daria. She did wake up when Darren carried her. Still, I remembered how I could sneak in her room while she slept when we were little, and borrowed her books to balance on my head when I pretended to be a model.)
STACY: (Hesitates:) O-Okay, Quinn. (Goes to the door:) I'll see you here around 4:30 or so. Goodnight. (Opens door, leaves)
QUINN: 'Night, Stacy. (Shuts door behind her, smirks, thought v.o.: Wait 'till you see what we're gonna do to you an' Jane, sis.) (Goes back, sits on her bed, looks through the fashion designer book while waiting for Fiona to return)
(Scene changes to Sandi's room, the same time)
SANDI: (On the phone:) But motherrr--
LINDA: (Angered tone:) --No buts, young lady! I want you to seek out the press tomorrow, and tell them you were mistaken, is that clear? (Pauses:) Say that you meant you thought Darren didn't like you at the time, but after you two talked, the matter was resolved, and you two are an item again now!
SANDI: (Trying to keep calm, but an edge of desperation creeps in her voice:) Mother, can't this wait? I have a fashion designer intern meeting with Candi Gunwald tomorrow at Circa, and I need to concentrate on that first! Please let me at least do that!
LINDA: (Snorting sound:) You, Sandi? A "fashion designer" meeting? Where did all of this suddenly come from? I mean, I know you're president of the Fashion Club, but do you really want to do that now after Darren is your boyfriend again?
SANDI: (Frowns at her mother's easy dismissal of her future career aspirations, but shoves it aside:) Mother, the Fashion Club have been preparing most of the day for our meeting, (adds quickly:) which is why I couldn't speak to you then, because I was sooo busy. (Pauses, emphatic tone:) I need to be well-rested and worry-free for the preparations! (Hesitates:) I'll, um, speak to the media after the meeting and tell them everything, I promise! (Gets an idea, smirks:) Besides, Darren's adopted mother was a fashion designer too, you know. What better way of getting in good with Darren than by being a fashion designer like her also? Think of it as, say, a memorial to her. That would, um, melt his heart, and everything.
There was a long pause from the other end. To Sandi, apparently her mother was pondering everything she just said. Sandi crossed her fingers, hoping furiously.
LINDA: Very well, Sandi. (Sandi sighs in relief) Your idea is an excellent one, if not brilliant. It can bode well for the future wife of America's most eligible bachelor to know that business part of his company as well. (Pauses, dismissive tone:) Though your grades would obviously hurt you otherwise from getting a job at Circa if you and Darren weren't together, (Sandi glares at the phone, clenches her teeth) being his wife automatically gets you the top designer job in a few years, tops, if not immediately when you kick this "Gunwald" woman out, and take over.
SANDI: (Cool, sarcastic tone:) It's like, nice to know you have so much confidence in my abilities, motherrr.
LINDA: (Smug tone, not getting it:) And why shouldn't I, Sandi? You're my daughter! By tomorrow, you'll have Darren eating right out of your hands! (Tom Griffin's voice is heard over the phone asking to speak to Sandi, and Linda speaks off, but it's just loud enough for Sandi to hear) She can't come to the phone right now, dear. Sandi just told me she has a very important meeting tomorrow for some sort of "designer intern" thing, or something, (Sandi rolls her eyes) and she also needs her beauty sleep. (Pauses:) In fact, I actually woke her, and now I fear she'll have trouble going back to sleep. (Sandi stares at the phone in stunned disbelief at her mother's lie) You can talk to her tomorrow night from Lawndale. Besides, these hotel phone bills are high enough already as it is. (Pauses, shouts:) Sam! Chris! Stop pestering that bellhop and get to your rooms right now, and into your beds! (Linda speaks in the phone again:) Goodnight, Sandi, do what I told you, and we'll have the world on a string by tomorrow night. (Hangs up before Sandi can respond)
Sandi dropped her head, exasperated. She slammed the phone down on the receiver, and fell face-first on the bed, trying to hold back tears.
SANDI: (Thought v.o.: Damn you, motherrr, I have enough on my mind as it is! I hope Darren can get you off my back after I tell him what you said. I--) (There's a knock on Sandi's door, and she looks up from her bed, annoyed tone:) Like, who is it?! I'm trying to sleep!
VOICE: (To the door, muffled:) With the light on? (Sandi glances up at the ceiling lamp/fan light, groans)
SECOND VOICE: (Deadpan, to the first voice, also muffled:) I've heard of day-sleepers, since your brother Trent's one, but this brings the term "light sleeper" to a whole new level, don't you think, Jane? (Sandi rolls her eyes at the banter and gets off the bed to go over to the door)
JANE: Oh, most assuredly, amiga. (Pauses:) Do you think she's afraid of the "boogeyman"? (Sandi opens the door with an annoyed look, sees Daria and Jane, with Daria in her Mark Twain pullover, and Jane in her standard tee-shirt and shorts, which is covered by a black bedrobe. Jane smirks while Daria has her "expressionless expression" on in full force:) Howdy!
SANDI: Like, what do you two want?
DARIA: And a hello to you too, Sandi.
JANE: (Cocks an eyebrow, pauses:) Um, you okay, Sandi? You look like you've been--
SANDI: (Cuts her off, adament tone while wiping her eyes:) --That's none of your concern, Jean, I mean, Jane! Why are you and--(narrows her eyes, perplexed, stares at Daria:)--and--
DARIA: (Sighs, thought v.o.: And here I thought we had made so much progress on the plane and in the limo with my name.) (In a flat tone:) --It's DeAnne. (Jane smirks)
SANDI: --Um, DeAnne doing here? I was about to go to bed! (Haughty tone:) I do have a fashion meeting tomorrow morning, you know, and--
JANE: --Yeah, yeah, we know you and your fellow clothing companions have an appointment with "fashion destiny", but I, or rather we, came down here between long-winding commercials during our TV viewing to thank you for what you said to that reporter yesterday about Darren and you, and setting the record straight once and for all. (Looks over at Daria, who smirks:) Uh, I appreciate it. (Pauses:) Really.
SANDI: (After a long moment, surprised:) Um, don't mention it. It was obviously the right thing to do, since Darren likes you--(pauses, lower tone, looks away for an instant:) and not me, so I hope you'll finally believe once and for all that I have no desire to go after Darren anymore, and that we can all, like, get along, or whatever while we're here, okay?
JANE: (After giving Sandi a brief look of sympathy with Daria:) Fair enough. I--(pauses:) believe you. Truce. (Shakes hands tepidly with Sandi)
SANDI: (Contrite look, small smile:) Truce. (Suddenly speaks in her rancid tone again, quickly covers herself:) What are you doing here, DeAnne? (Daria shakes her head slowly, while Jane surpresses a giggle)
DARIA: (Looking uneasy:) Basically as um, moral support for Jane having the chutzpah to do this-- (notices Jane's mock-admonishing glare, sighs:) and to also thank you for telling the truth. You certainly impressed me with what you did. (Pauses, cocks an eyebrow:) Has your mom called to lower the boom on you yet--?
Sandi hesitated, bit her lower lip as if she wanted to speak, then remained silent. Daria and Jane cut their eyes at each other.
JANE: (Nods in the affirmative:) Your mom got to call you tonight, huh?
SANDI: (After a moment:) Um, well, yes. You both might as well know, since it'll be out all over by sometime tomorrow, anyway. She told me to tell the media that I was--(hesitates:) mistaken about yesterday. (Jane frowns)
JANE: (Slaps her right fist against her left palm:) That's it! I've had everything and then some up to here with your mom, Sandi! I heard that she's staying somewhere at a hotel in Baltimore for a convention, am I right? Gimme the freakin' hotel number, and I'll tell her where to stick it--
SANDI: (Wide-eyed, puts up her hands:) --Wait! Like, that won't solve anything! You two don't like each other anyway, and all that it'll do is collapse into some sort of dumb shouting match, or something, right? Let me speak to Darren tomorrow while he's out with us, and he'll speak to my mom once and for all when we get back from New York City, then! I'm sure he can end this himself!
JANE: (Pauses in mid-rant:) Uh, well--(looks over at Daria:) what d'you think, "DeAnne"?
DARIA: (Glares at Jane for a brief instant, thought v.o.: Sandi's using her noggin in this particular situation. Hell's not just frozen over, it's damn frigid, and won't be thawed out for a billion years.) Hmm. Okay, sure. I don't think one more day will make any difference, Jane.
JANE: (Ponders:) Well, okay. (Frowns:) But if Darren can't convince your mom to cut the crap--(stops herself, sighs, puts her hand over her forehead:) I'm going back to my room. (Grins:) Coming, "DeAnne"?
DARIA: Sure, "Jean". (Sandi gives Daria an odd look, and Jane chuckles) Uh, good luck on your little fashion-speak tomorrow, Sandi. (Leaves)
JANE: Yeah, tear a pants leg, or something. (Follows Daria)
SANDI: (Stares after them:) Um, like, thanks--(pauses:) I think. (Shuts door)
JANE: (Smirks, holds out her hand while they're walking:) Pay up, pard.
DARIA: (Reaches into her pullover pocket, pulls out $10, which she gives to Jane:) I don't mind losing this one bet to you, (smirks:) for the first time ever, I might add. (Jane rolls her eyes playfully as she pockets the money) You actually thanked and made peace with Sandi, and she admitted that Linda Griffin called to put the screws to her ass about Darren.
JANE: Well, I figured I might as well should've, amiga. Like you, I was impressed by what Sandi did. (Pauses:) Do you think Linda will finally listen to Darren? He told me that he tried to tell her before over the phone that he and Sandi weren't together, and this was after he had been interviewed several times about it and told them he was with me!
DARIA: Yeah, I know, but this is the first time Sandi herself acknowledged there was nothing between her and Darren to the media hordes. Besides, I can feel Big Bro becoming PO'd more and more by Linda's "boyfriend" claims while being up here. It wouldn't surprise me if he had it out with her once and for all over this if she calls to speak to him.
JANE: (Pauses, cocks an eyebrow:) Like he "had it out" with that jerk Rory yesterday?
DARIA: (Sighs:) To be honest with you, I don't wanna think about that anymore. Yeah, it scared the hell out of me how Darren reacted, but after hearing all this about Rory, particularly from his sister Krystal of all people, I understood why perfectly, and we both told Darren as much. I hate to say it, but Rory kinda makes Upchuck look like a saint.
JANE: A saint who's just fallen, at the least. (Frowns:) Whereas that ass Rory has apparently hit a home run many a time with his "conquests", Upchuck is still trying to "buy" a ticket to get in the ballpark--
DARIA: (Smirks:) --Even after offering exorbitant fees to buy the ticket, no girl wants to "sell" him one. (Jane chuckles as Daria looks at her watch:) We've still got another few minutes before the standard 15-minute commercial break is over. (Pauses:) Hmm, Darren, mom and dad aren't back yet. They haven't called in for several hours. (Brief frown of concern:) I wonder if everything's all right--?
JANE: (Mocking tone:) Awww, does Daria miss her parents and big 'ol brother?
DARIA: No, but Darren's gonna miss his lil' ol' girlfriend when I get through with her. (Playfully begins to move towards a drawing back and smirking Jane, when both come upon the grand stairs, happen to look down, and see an excited Helen and a camcorder-welding Jake, both also rife with shopping bags, and a very worn-out Darren and Tina come from the direction of the garage into the foyer, both carrying even more shopping bags. Daria and Jane go down the stairs to greet them. Fiona spots the scene, and comes down with her tray full of the F.C.'s dirty dishes.)
FIONA: Let me put this in the kitchen, Master Darren, and I'll come back and--
DARREN: (Weary sound, motions:) --No, no, Fiona, Tina and I have everything. Just go on with what you're doing, and go home. Thanks. (Fiona hesitates, curtsys, then leaves)
TINA: (Weary as well:) I'll take my stuff upstairs and put it in Helen and Jake's room, then go out the back way to my car. (Hesitates:) Uh, do you need anything else, Darren? (Thought v.o.: Please say no after that hellish tour.)
DARREN: (Knowing smirk:) No, Tina, you take off as well. Thanks for coming with us. (Relieved, Tina goes slowly up the stairs with her share of bags)
HELEN: (Hugs her son:) That was a wonderful tour of New York City, Darren! Jake and I had a fantastic time!
DARREN: (Sighs:) Glad you enjoyed it, Helen. At least we didn't have to worry about any paparazzi harassing us with Tina around, that and the scorching schedule we followed. (Kisses Jane, who's come up to him:) Hey, Jane, Daria.
DARIA: Hey, Darren. Mom, Dad.
JANE: Hey, Darren. Looks like you guys painted the town red, (pauses, eyes the bags:) and from the looks of it, every other damn color as well!
DARREN: (Tired smile, sarcastic tone:) A variable color scheme, you might say, and you ought to know. (Jane gives him a sympathetic grin, pats him gently on the back, and Daria smiles quietly at him)
JAKE: (Thumbs up:) YEAH! That was the best tour of any place I ever had! (Looks up, shakes fist:) How'd you like that, Old Man?! I went out on a bona fide, 100% tour, the type of tour you never took me or mom on, you old bastard, save for those (sneers:) "Sunday country drives", the type of rides that lasted only 30 minutes, and yielded nothing more than those stupid quick little stops at those stupid little knick-knack nab stores to get some of that damn, flat-tasting soda pop and hard-ass oatmeal cookies, and that was all primarily for you! The only thing you left for me and mom was a small swig of soda out of the same damn bottle, and a few crumbs of oatmeal cookies! (Everyone stares at Jake for a long moment in silence, to which Jake responds sheepishly:) Well, maybe the crumbs tasted okay...
DARIA: (Deadpan:) Like I always say, we should cherish our precious memories, Dad, and never let them go until the day we die. (Darren chuckles, and Jane snickers)
HELEN: (Admonishing look:) That's enough, Daria. (Smiles, sighs:) I loved the attractions we visited, and thanks to the rain, we didn't have to wait long at any of them! I adored the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, Ellis Island, The Statue of Liberty, Gracie Mansion, the Botanical Garden, Hamilton Grange--
JAKE: (Taking over, smiles and sighs as well:) --Radio City Music Hall, definitely Times Square, the South Street Seaport, Rockefeller Center--(pats camcorder, grins:) got it all right here on the ol' camcorder, too!
JANE: (Surprised with Daria:) You guys had the time to visit all of those places? (Pauses:) How long on average did you stay at each?
HELEN: Oh, a little less than 45 minutes to an hour, Jane, with me adding Gracie Mansion, the Botanical Garden, and Hamilton Grange at the last second--
DARIA: (Cuts in:) --Talk about your whirlwind day. You guys must've spun around more than a young George W. at Happy Hour--
JAKE: (Grins:) --And I added South Street Seaport and Times Square, too! We got a whole lot of souvenirs! Look, Daria! (Eagerly reaches into the "Statue of Liberty" bag, pulls out a miniature plastic white Lady Liberty, hands it to Daria, who stares at it) For you!
DARIA: (Very flat deadpan:) Gee, thanks, Dad. (Pauses:) My day is now complete.
JAKE: (Oblivious of course, thumbs up:) Glad to finish it off, Kiddo! (Helen sighs, while Darren and Jane chuckle)
HELEN: (Takes a quick glance at Darren:) Oh, and Daria--? Jake and I want to speak to you and Quinn tomorrow about something, (pauses:) actually about two "somethings" of a personal nature. (Darren now gets a look of realization, which neither Daria or Jane notice, though Daria cocks an inquisitve eyebrow at Helen) I know Quinn and her friends are going to be with Darren, but will you be here all day?
DARIA: (Pauses, then adds, deadpan:) My itinerary for then doesn't call for taking any last-second safaris of the surrounding forests here on the mansion's grounds, so I'd have to sayyyy--yes.
HELEN: (Rolls her eyes, exasperated at her daughter's response:) Fine, dear. After your sister comes back with Darren and her friends, we'll all talk--
DARREN: --I'll be sure to tell Quinn that you two would want to speak to her while we're out, Helen.
HELEN: (Grateful smile:) Thank you, son. (Takes Jake by the arm:) Come on, Jakey, let's go to bed. As excited as I am, I still want to try to get some sleep so I can go into Maness tomorrow with Millie as planned. I don't want her to be too bright-eyed and bushy-tailed while I'm dragging around--
JAKE: (Whiny:) Awww, honeeey--
FIONA: (Comes into the foyer from the kitchen:) --I think she'll probably will be just as tired as you think you might be, Miss Helen.
HELEN: (Stops with Jake just as they're about to go up the stairs:) Why, what do you mean, Fiona?
FIONA: Mistress Millie and Master Edward haven't returned from their date yet since they left here mid-afternoon, and when Mistress Millie called a few hours ago, she, um, "implied" that they both might not return until tomorrow morning. They went upstate to some private hideaway, she didn't say where. (Helen looks a bit surprised, and Darren cocks an eyebrow, while Jane and Daria give each other inquistive glances)
JAKE: (Grins:) Hey, they must be havin' as much of a good time as we did!
JANE: (In a low voice to Daria and Darren, smirks:) Probably in more ways than one, I'd say. (Daria shakes her head slowly at Jane, while Darren looks at Jane, red-faced)
DARIA: (In the same low voice:) I wonder if mom will now ask about Jim's whereabouts. Ten bucks says she will, Jane.
JANE: Heh--why not? I'm on a roll, pard. You're on. (Darren chuckles to himself, amused at this exchange)
HELEN: Oh, I--see. (Pauses:) Um, have you seen Jim? Has he gone to bed, or something? (Jane rolls her eyes, reaches into her pocket, and pulls out the $10 she just won from Daria, slipping it to her, while Daria smirks in triumph, and Darren grins)
DARIA: Easy come, easy go, Jane. (Jane gives her a mock death-stare) Cheer up. Maybe we'll see a brawl between Edward and Jim soon, and you'll be able to get your money back.
JANE: Remember, my money's on Edward. (Darren shakes his head slowly, chuckles)
DARIA: (Playful sarcastic response:) Oh, you're just saying that because he kissed us on the back of our hands outside of the media room a few days ago, though if you'll remember, Jim did compliment Darren on you being his girlfriend. (Darren, having already been informed of the "meeting", shakes his head, smirks slightly) I, on the other hand, no pun intended, mind you, am not biased. (Jane rolls her eyes) I bet on Jim, of course. He looks like he can handle himself. (Cuts eyes over to Darren:) Bro--?
DARREN: Oh, no, you don't. Even if I knew what he could do, I wouldn't say anything, so there. Just leave me out of this.
JANE: (Grins:) You wimp.
DARREN: (Ditto:) Sicks and stones, Jane, sticks and stones.
DARIA: (Deadpan, slight smile:) Don't tempt me. If it wasn't raining, I'd go outside and get some just to use on you, Darren. (Darren and Jane chuckle)
DARREN: Excuses, excuses, sis.
JANE: (Motions her head, playful sneer:) Get him. He's repeating himself.
DARIA: (While taking a quick look around:) Obviously an echo, Jane. In a place as big as this, I can see why. (Pauses:) It's an interior version of the Grand Canyon. (Darren laughs)
In the meantime, Fiona briefly had pondered Helen's question, then responded.
FIONA: Actually, I haven't, Miss Helen, not since I saw him in the video library this afternoon while I was cleaning. I believe he was searching for a movie. Henri told me he came into the kitchen for a quick snack, but then he went back to the media room, and no one's seen him since. (Looks at her watch:) Oh, I'd better get home. Goodnight, everyone, see you all in the morning. Miss Quinn and her friends asked if we could help them prepare for their meeting with Miss Gunwald tomorrow, and I voluteered to come in then to help Elenor with them. (Leaves as everyone says "goodnight" to her)
DARREN: (Shrugs, turns to the others, voice back to regular tone:) Well, on a day like this, I can understand why uncle Jim would want to see one. He's probably in bed by now--(looks at his watch:) right where I should be. If I want to be ready to go with Quinn and her friends tomorrow, I'd better hit the sack.
HELEN: You do that, son. Goodnight, everyone. (Pulls Jake upstairs with her left arm, holding bags with her right one)
JAKE: Yeah, goodnight, guys! (As they head up the grand stairs:) Oh, and Helen? Could you make sure I don't forget to leave my camcorder with Quinn outside her room along with our other spare new tape cassette? She told me she wanted to tape something important tomorrow, and she's gonna get up real early to get ready with her little friends, and didn't wanna wake us up to get the camcorder. I suppose she's asleep with the others, dreamin' big fashion ideas! Guess they wanna do some taping of that "Corleone" fashion place, huh?
HELEN: (Sighs:) "Circa", Jakey, it's "Circa"... (both vanish up the stairs)
JANE: (As she and Daria begin to go up the stairs with Darren:) Have fun with "Quinny" and her friends, Darren.
DARIA: Yeah, and one piece of advice, bro: If you get bored by their endless chattering on the way to Circa, drown them out by envisioning each member of the Fashion Club as obese, acme-faced, and unpopular, with horrible hairdos. (Pauses as Darren laughs, and Jane smirks:) Does wonders for me if or when I'm caught around them without a book.
DARREN: I'll keep that in mind, sis, though I think it won't be all that bad. (Stops with a slight look of disappointment:) Oh, and enjoy watching that "Sick, Sad World" Marathon, you two. If it wasn't for, well, you know--
JANE: --(Smiles, waves him off:) Sheesh, stop sounding so guilty, willya? Go on and spend that time with your other sister and her friends--(pauses:) and take yer lumps like a man. (Darren chuckles)
DARIA: Jane's right, Darren. It's the duty of every sibling family member to spend time with each other and suffer, get used to it. You can tell us what happened--(smirks:) if you survive.
DARREN: (Nods:) Go on, yuck it up, you two. I'll make sure to ask you both after I get back tomorrow about your little "get-togethers" with aunt Millie today. (Both girls look surprised, and Darren grins, points at them:) Got you. Aunt Millie called us while she was out with Edward, and told me she got to speak to you two and Quinn. Can't wait to hear about your little conversations. (Pauses:) Think I'll start with Quinn tomorrow. (As he's leaving them, smirks with a sneer in his tone:) G'night.
DARIA: (Smirks, calls after him:) Goodnight, bro. Oh, and after you ask us about our little "get-togethers" with Millie, Jane and I will be sure to ask you about your little "Darren Duplicates" you kind of forgot to tell us about--(Jane smirks while Darren stops outside his bedroom door, looks surprised)
JANE: (Points at him:) Got you. (Chuckles as she leaves with Daria)
DARREN: (Sighs, small smile, thought v.o.: Serves me right for trying to get in the last word with those two.) (Goes in his bedroom)
Daria and Jane entered Jane's bedroom just as the Sick, Sad World logo appeared on the screen. They sat on Jane's bed, and Jane turned off the mute button.
JANE: Ah, we made it just in time, Daria.
TV ANNOUNCER: --Now, back to the "Sick, Sad World Marathon". Our next segment is about the feces-wearing couple!
JANE: (Grins:) Yeah! I've been waiting to see this ep again! (Notices Daria's silence:) Hey, something wrong, pard?
DARIA: (Shakes out of her reverie:) Huh? Oh, sorry, Jane. I was just wondering about what my mom was meaning concerning this "talk" she and dad wanted to have with Quinn and me tomorrow.
JANE: (Ponders, shrugs:) Hm. Well, your mom didn't look angry or anything when she requested you and Quinn's presence, sooo--I wouldn't worry too much about it. (Pauses, smirks:) You don't think it's about what was done to Quinn's face, do you? We were just having a little fun at her expense, you know.
DARIA: (Quick smirk:) Nahhh. I don't think it's about Quinn. You were right when you said my mom wasn't PO'd when she asked, and after her and my dad's "exciting" tour of the Big Apple, I seriously doubt that she even remembers our "fun". No, it's something else--
JANE: (Waves her off:) --Well, whatever it is, you'll find out tomorrow. Now, let's settle in for some serious viewing, amiga!
DARIA: (Shrugs:) Yeah, I guess it can wait. (While viewing TV screen, narrows eyes in disgust:) As many times as I've seen that guy reach in and take his turd from his toilet, even I have to say it's still a sick sight to behold.
JANE: (Smirks:) Why do you think they call it Sick, Sad World? (Pauses:) Just be thankful we haven't seen him eat his own turd--now that would've sickened even me. (Daria gives Jane a mild look of disgust, then watches the TV screen again)
(Scene changes to the downstairs, at the same instant)
Jim appeared in the foyer from the hallway that led to the media room. He checked his watch, and gawked in shock for an instant, for it was very late. He had been in the video library for almost the entire day, checking virtually every DVD and VHS tape to the point of exhaustion, looking for the movie Apocalypse Now, and, having his suspicions confirmed, not finding it. After making sure Millie and Edward were still gone (much to his consternation, of course), Jim had just tried to sneak into Edward's bedroom to find something on him, but the door was locked, adding even more suspicion. Certainly, Jim knew better than to ask any of the servants if he could get in there, for it would've raised their suspicions of what he was up to. Frustrated, he narrowed his eyes, deep in thought, nodding.
JIM: (Thought v.o.: Uh-huh. What other little surprises are you hiding, "Edward", if that is your real name? I'd tell Mill and Darren about the movie you "claimed" to have seen, but you'd probably make up something else to cover your tracks, and Mill's so blind in her love for you, she'd just as soon kick me out, though I know Darren would oppose that, and I wouldn't want to be the cause of any possible friction between them. Besides, I still love her--no, better not think about that now. I need to get absolute proof that Edward's a fake, but how? What to do, what to do...) (Goes upstairs to his bedroom. The mansion's automatic motion light detector system kicks in, shutting off the lights in the hallways, save for the nightlights)
(Scene is now in an Appleton helicopter over New York City, the next morning)
Darren, wearing a "hip" Armani casual camel-colored suit with a sand colored shirt and tie, sat beside Quinn. Both were sitting directly across from the rest of the Fashion Club. Quinn was dressed to kill in her ("old") power suit like her Fashion Club companions, complete with designer hairdos and matching purses and shoes that complemented their clothes: Quinn, in her white one, Sandi, with her teal one, Tiffany, with her ivory (off-white) one, and Stacy, with her royal blue one. The breath-takingly aerial view of the Big Apple's skyscrapers lay below them in the now crisp and clear sky-blue morning sky.
Earlier, an excited Quinn had almost practically dragged Darren out of his bed and had rushed him into getting ready to go with them all, and he had barely enough time to eat Henri's egg-and-ham omelet before she once again pulled him out to the waiting helicopter, which had its rotor blades turned off because of the Fashion Club's fears that the breeze from the whirling blades would mess up their hairstyles. As Quinn pulled him, Darren had caught a glance at Tina, who was coming up to the mansion in her car. He smirked briefly, then teasingly mouthed to her, "Come on", to which Tina gave him a short, playful glare and smirk, rolling her eyes, and looking away from him. Darren chuckled at this as Quinn had quite literally pushed him into the helicopter.
Having still been tired from his tornado-paced tour of New York City with Helen and Jake yesterday, Darren had made a new, personal discovery: That the news his proud-looking, giggling and chattering "baby" sister had just broken to him was the equivalent of a bottle of Valium, strong black coffee, and a jackhammer all rolled up into one. Now wide-awake, he stared at Quinn in disbelief, slack-jawed, as Stacy began to giggle as well, and Sandi and Tiffany looked between their companions, stunned. He now understood why his "baby" sister wanted to get away so fast and early from the mansion--she didn't possibly want to get caught by Jake and Helen (and Daria and Jane, for that matter), for the incredible thing she had done to her sister and Jane, apparently with Stacy's help.
DARREN: (Searches for words:) You--and--Stacy--did--WHAT to Daria and Jane again?
QUINN: (Still giggling:) You heard me, Darren! We--we--(now loses control, bends over from laughing so hard)
STACY: (Ditto:) --We (snorts:) MADE THEM OVER IN THEIR SLEEP! (Does the same as Quinn as she loses it, too)
QUINN: (Struggling to regain control of her laughter:) And--and--it's--like--they--they--just--laid there, an' let me! They were--were--soooo tired from that "Sad Sack" Marathon or whatever, they didn't wake up at all! It was awesome! (Giggles out of control again)
STACY: (Ditto again:) And--and--it was so fun! We--we went to--to Daria's room first. (Calms down:) I held the "tool bag" of smudgeproof make-up and Mr. Morgendorffer's camcorder while Quinn carefully applied the make-up on her sister's face, and even heavy red lipstick, too. It was, like, touch and go there for an instant, because we didn't know what was gonna happen, and we didn't know if she was sleeping on her back, side, or face down. It was a good thing that we found Daria on her back. (Quinn nods, smirks) The camcorder I had shined just enough light on Daria's face, though it was a low light that wasn't too bright that could wake her up, but enough to see what we were doing, and what we had done. Daria frowned in her sleep and moved a little bit when Quinn brushed her face with rouge, but then stopped. It took about ten minutes, tops. (Giggles:) Darren, when you'll see Daria on the tape, you won't even recognize her! She was almost beautiful!
QUINN: (Wicked grin:) Why shouldn't she be, Stacy? I gave Daria the works. We then went to Jane's room. We didn't have any problem with her at all. She was laid out on her back like Daria had been, lightly snoring, and I went to work on her, too. Jane was easier to do than Daria, since she already wears lipstick, and some of it was still on, so (quiet giggle:) I concentrated heavily on her eyelids, applying thick eyelash liner, then lightly added rouge on her cheeks. Bro, you'd flip when you'll see her face, 'cause she didn't look like herself at all! (Smirks:) She looked better.
SANDI: (Cuts in before a frowning Darren can say something, cocks a cool eyebrow, in a haughty tone:) Why were Tiffany and I not informed of this, Quh--inn? (Tiffany nods in agreement)
QUINN: (Pauses, hesitates:) Well, Sandi, um, Stacy and I wanted to surprise you guys, (reaches into her purse, pulls out the tape cassette, a small VHS-C one, smirks:) and I, like, think after you see this, you'll be satisfied with the results. Bro, they do have a VCR that can play VHS-C tapes and a TV at Circa, am I right?
DARREN: (Eyes Quinn's tape warily:) Well, I'm sure they do to view taped fashion shows, Quinn, probably in Candi's office, but--
SANDI: (After a pause, then slowly smirks with Tiffany as Quinn places the tape back in her purse, cuts Darren off:) --Very well, Quinn. We'll see if you and Stacy have improved the looks of Darren's sister and girlfriend. (In a matter-of-fact tone:) After all, given what happened to your face, according to our charter, you do have the right for fashion makeover revenge. (Darren stares at Sandi in stunned disbelief as Tiffany nods in agreement) Perhaps if the facial transformation is good enough, they'll go for a new wardrobe. (Pauses, realizes, cocks an eyebrow, tries to keep her voice steady:) Of course, when those two will find out what you and Stacy have done, you'll inform them that Tiffany and I had absolutely nothing to do with this, correct? (After a moment, a now-pale and serious-looking Tiffany nods in agreement)
QUINN: (Waves her away:) Oh, relaaax, Sandi, Tiffany! I told Stacy I'll take full responsibility, and stuff! (Adds, grins while Stacy smiles, relaxed, knowing she's off the hook:) In fact, I left them a note in my room, "explaining" everything.
SANDI: (Small sigh of relief:) Good.
DARREN: (Sighs, shakes his head:) Now, wait a sec, do you realize Jane and Daria won't like--
QUINN: (Giggles while cutting him off, hooks her arm with his:) --Daaaaaren! I'm just getting Daria an' Jane back for what they did to my face Sunday! (Pauses, mild scowl:) Do you think what they did was right?DARREN: (Rolls his eyes:) No, of course not, Quinn, but--
QUINN: (Still scowling, some bitterness in her voice:) --But nothing, bro! When I came upstairs with that lipstick on my face, I felt humiliated, especially when I ran into the Fashion Club in the hallway!
STACY: (Reaches over, pats Quinn's shoulder gently:) It's okay, Quinn! We didn't laugh when we saw you, remember?
TIFFANY: Yeah, Quinn...we were angry...instead.
SANDI: Yes, we were, but still, in the event the next time something like this occurs, please inform us beforehand so we can assist you in your "fashion vengeance", all right, Quinn? (Darren slaps his forehead gently, shuts his eyes, exasperated, shakes his head slowly)
QUINN: (Smiles:) Okay, Sandi. (Looks out the helicopter's window, becomes excited:) Oh, is that Circa? We're coming down to it, and everything, and two people are waiting for us, too! (The others save for Darren look out and become excited as well)
The helicopter landed gently on the roof of the 6-story Circa building, a sleek, modern-designed brick and glass one that had a large, round domed skylight at its top. It was also located beside a "matching" 4-story brick parking deck. Once again, out of fear their hair would be tussled around, the Fashion Club waited until the 'copter's rotor blades finally stopped to get out with Darren. A thin, tall, short-haired African-American woman dressed in a lemon-colored summer short-sleeved power suit, and another woman, a long-haired brunette in an orange and white-colored striped sleeveless dress walked over to them. The woman in the orange dress swooned for a moment when she saw Darren, but was gently elbowed by the other woman, who gave her a mildly admonishing look and smirk.
DARREN: (Smiles, shakes hands first with the woman in the lemon-colored dress:) Hello, Cherice. Hope we're not too early.
CHERICE: (Smiles:) You're kidding, right, Darren? You know Candi gets up at the crack of dawn most days--(adds:) along with us.
DARREN: (Smirks:) Yeah, I know, I was just pulling your leg. (Turns to the other woman, smiles:) Hello, I don't think I've seen you before here--(extends hand)
WOMAN: (Giggles, shakes Darren's hand:) --No, you haven't, Mr. Appleton. I'm Jenna Springs, Cherice's new assistant. I just started working here last week. This is a real honor, sir--
DARREN: (Chuckles, puts up hand:) --Please, Jenna, just call me Darren. "Mr. Appleton" sounds a tad too formal, the same for the "sir" part. My security might call me that, but you don't have to--(pauses, smirks:) though once in awhile, I suppose it'll be alright to soothe my ego. (Cherice rolls her eyes playfully at him, crosses her arms, while the others laugh)
JENNA: (Blushes:) Oh, um, of course, Darren. Sorry.
DARREN: No harm done. (Turns to the Fashion Club, extends right arm, motions at each:) Cherice, Jenna, this is my sister, Quinn Morgendorffer, and her friends, Sandi Griffin, Tiffany Blum-deckler, and Stacy Rowe. Quinn, Sandi, Tiffany, Stacy, this is Cherice Banks, second-in-command of Circa Fashions, and you've met, uh, Jenna, her assistant.
QUINN: (Awed while shaking hands with Cherice:) Like, wow! We've seen your picture in Waif, and everything, Ms. Banks!
CHERICE: (Smiles:) It's actually "Mrs.", Quinn. I've been married for two years. You and your friends can just call me Cherice. (Smirks, pauses:) And I've seen your face on TV, and everything, too. (Quinn giggles)
SANDI: (Haughty tone, though she shows her nervousness as well, shakes Cherice's hand daintily:) As president of our Fashion Club, let me say it is an honor to meet you. I hope we will measure up to your company's standard of excellence in the fashion designer intern field. (Narrows eyes, smirks with the other F.C. members:) We will not fail you in our test.
CHERICE: (Stares at Sandi strangely for a second with Jenna and Darren, who snickers briefly:) Uhhh, riiight, I'm sure you and your friends won't, er, Sandi.
TIFFANY: (While stepping up to shakes Cherice's hand:) Hi...I hope the color I'm wearing...won't make me look...too fat in front...of Candi Gunwald...when we meet her. (Pauses as Cherice and Jenna give her a baffled look, while Quinn and Sandi roll their eyes, and Stacy develops a wide-eyed look while glancing at herself) I want to...make a good impression.
CHERICE: (After a moment:) Ah, I don't think Candi will, er, notice, Tiffany. (Turns to Stacy, shakes her hand:) Hello, Stacy. Welcome to Circa.
STACY: (Suddenly nervous because she's becoming intimidated, weak smile:) H-Hello, Cherice. I-I'm p-pleased t-to m-meet you. (Looks over herself again:) Oh, um, do I look nice, too? (Adds quickly:) I-I mean for Candi Gunwald, that is. (Sandi gives an alarmed "uh-oh" look)
CHERICE: (Shakes her head, chuckles:) Uh, yes, Stacy, you do, like your friend Tiffany here. Candi's in her office taking care of some business, but we can all go in anyway. Follow me. (Enters the glass roof door, followed by the others)
Sandi slowed a bit as they walked down the roof's stairs, and nudged Quinn's shoulder gently with her right hand while motioning her head and eyes subtly as well, deliberately not attracting anyone else's attention. Quinn caught on to what Sandi was doing, and slowed her pace a bit to walk beside her. Tiffany and Stacy didn't notice, for they continued to follow Darren, Cherice, and Jenna. Quinn leaned over to listen to Sandi. Both were in a whispering mode.
SANDI: (Concerned look:) Quinn, I'm like, starting to worry about Tiffany and Stacy. They're beginning to get a little nervous.
QUINN: (Shrugs:) Well, Sandi, I'm kinda nervous, too. I mean, we're gonna meet the Candi Gunwald.
SANDI: (Shakes her head:) No, not that kind of nervous. I have that myself. What I mean, is that they're looking like they're losing their confidence, and whatever. The last thing we need is for those two to lose it in front of Candi. It might affect the way she perceives us.
QUINN: (Chuckles, rolls her eyes playfully:) Saaaandi! Relax! It'll be okay, trust me!
SANDI: (Mildly glaring at Quinn, in her old, bitter haughty tone of voice:) That's easy for you to say, Quh--inn. (Quinn cocks a surprised eyebrow) You've like, basically got it made because no matter what happens, you're a fashion designer intern, here. We, on the other hand, have to sweat it out!
QUINN: (Now gives a small glare of her own:) Now, Sandi, that's like, not sooo fair! I mean, I haveta prove myself, too! You heard what my brother said: Candi won't take any slackers, an' I'm assuming that includes me, too. Darren's told me he's had to work just as hard at Appleton like everyone else, an' he didn't get by on his family's name. (Adds:) Um, if I didn't think you guys could do the job, I wouldn't have said anything to Darren about her giving you guys a shot, you know that.
Both girls entered behind the others into a glass-enclosed hallway that led to a large and open glass-enclosed office area that was laced with large picture posters of superstar models in all varieties of fashionable attire for all seasons on the walls. There were various employees who were already working at a fervent pace, with some people talking to various fashion models at their desks, and others talking on phones. When they all saw Darren and Cherice coming in, some of the female employees, particularly the models, swooned briefly at Darren, who seemed to try and not notice the women's flirtatious smiles as he waved hello to everyone, smiling slightly. Many of the male employees did a little double-take and whistled low in approval when they saw the Fashion Club come in, particularly at Quinn and Sandi. Stacy and Tiffany (in Tiffany's case, as well as one could tell) were awed while looking around the area, whereas Sandi and Quinn were so into their conversation, they didn't notice either the area, or the male employee's mild infatuation.
SANDI: (After a moment, sighs, then becomes contrite:) I--you're right, Quinn. I'm--(pauses:) sorry I snapped at you. I guess I'm just more than a little nervous, which is definitely unfashionable. (Quinn gives her a small smile of assurance as Sandi forms a determined look on her face) Now, let's show Candi what we're made of, shall we? (Quinn nods curtly, also forms a look of determination)
DARREN: (From up ahead, after first allowing the others to go into an oak double-door at the far end of the office area on, shouts to Quinn and Sandi, smiles:) Step it up, you two! We're all waiting!
Quinn stuck her tounge out playfully at Darren as she came into Candi's office, while Sandi sheepishly smirked at him. Quinn and Sandi entered the office, and their mouths dropped in awe, which matched the already-awed looks of Tiffany and Stacy.
The walls of Candi's gigantic office were of gray and white-colored marble, the same for the floors. The ceiling was high, with a large, round skylight in the middle of the office, the same skylight that they all saw from the top when the helicopter landed. There were more picture posters of famous models that lined the walls, along with a large framed picture of Lucille Appleton. A huge picture window faced Central Park behind Candi's large, computor-themed oak work desk. In front of the desk, there were two long black sofas that were located perpendicular to it, with a small, matching coffee table in between. On the coffee table, there was a serving set of tea and biscuits. In the far right corner of the office, several marble stairs led down to an open 8-foot by 10-foot pit about three feet below the level of the rest of the office that housed a clothing dummy, a tripod camera, a large TV and a VCR, and a comfortable-looking, padded, long red work bench along with several folded materials of cloth, some of which were silk, and other materials of rayon, cotton, and polyester. Cherice and Jenna quietly motioned to everyone to sit down on the sofas, then did so themselves. Quinn sat beside her brother with Sandi on one side, while Tiffany, Stacy, Cherice, and Jenna sat on the other sofa. Jenna motioned if anyone wanted tea, with Stacy and Quinn taking up her offer.
The chair behind Candi's desk, which had been faced toward the picture window and away from everyone, suddenly swiveled around to reveal a scowling Candi Gunwald, who was talking on her cell phone in an impatient tone. For an instant, the Fashion Club were caught off-guard, frightened, their recently built self-confidence wavering, then Quinn and Sandi quickly composed themselves, remembering their little discussion, and not wanting to "scare" Tiffany and Stacy. Darren, Cherice and Jenna stared at the Fashion Club, perplexed a bit by their reactions, having knowing how Candi Gunwald was. Darren chuckled a bit to himself, mildly amused, then gently and subtly slipped his hand in his sister's to reassure her, showing a small smile. Quinn looked up at her brother and returned the same smile, taking a deep breath, and relaxing.
Sandi saw the scene out of the corner of her eye, and sighed wistfully, thinking about how Quinn seemed closer to her brother, a brother she had only just began to know for barely two months, as opposed to her own brothers, Sam and Chris, whom she knew all of her life. With those two, it's always hitting and teasing. Is that what having brothers is all about? Oh well, at least I did sleep well last night. Guess it was because of worrying about this, and not Darren for a change. Changing her thoughts, Sandi stared over at Candi Gunwald, primarily to "size" her up. Candi had long, silver-colored hair that flowed behind the padded shoulders of her short-sleeved, creme-colored business suit, and her surprisingly youthful-looking, but agitated face had a small amount of make-up on it, effectively hiding any hint of wrinkles so well, Sandi briefly wondered if she had had a facelift. Candi's eyes were of a hazel-black color, seemingly cold and piercing to her. Sandi narrowed her eyes and listened to the currently angered head of Circa along with everyone else.
CANDI: (Frowns:) Look, Howard, I don't want to hear any damn excuses about why the silk shipment is late! You promised it would be here today, and it's not! Circa is not going to pay the full shipment price, do you understand? (Shuffles papers at her desk, picks one up to read it:) The contract here specifically states that for everyday you guys miss your deadline, we pay 10% less for the shipment! (Pauses, smirks:) I see you have your's in front of you, too, hmm? Well then, I'm assuming you're reading what I'm reading as well, pal, so you'd better have that silk here as soon as possible, or we'll be getting it for almost free! (Pauses, grins:) Ahh, that's more like it! I'll be expecting it tomorrow, then! Goodbye! (Clicks her phone off, slams it down on the desk:) Damn stupid idiots! (Takes a deep breath, then gets up out of her chair along with everyone else, goes around her desk to meet them all:) Sorry for the outburst, everyone. Our new line of the "Shadowphrye Silk Collection" won't come until tomorrow, and I was letting the shipper know what was what. (Hugs Darren, smiles:) Hello, Darren. It's good to see you're finally getting out and about from the mansion since you've come back. I heard you and your birth parents took a quick tour of some of New York City's sights yesterday.
DARREN: (Smiles, thought v.o.: "Quick" is an understatement.:) Hello, Candi, and yes, we did. Me and my birth parents had a great time.
CANDI: That's wonderful, Darren, I hope to meet them soon. (Looks past him to the F.C., narrows her eyes slightly, slight predatory-like smirk that makes the F.C., particularly Tiffany and Stacy, feel nervous again:) And this must be your sister Quinn and her friends as well--?
Darren made the customary introductions, to which the Fashion Club, especially Quinn and Sandi, who showered Candi with praise and admiration of her working designs. Candi, while showing the Fashion Club around her office, all the time appeared nonplused at the gushing, more than likely having heard all of this before from other young fashion designer wanna-bees, but saying nothing, at least occasionally trying to appear interested in what they were saying, nodding at times.
Jenna soon left them all to go back to her work, and Cherice, after informing Candi about some documents for her to sign, and of being asked by Candi not to be disturbed for the rest of the morning, said goodbye to everyone, and left the office as well. Candi smiled sweetly, then motioned to the Fashion Club to sit back down on the sofas to finish their tea and biscuits while gently pulling Darren to the side a distance away after he had hugged his sister and wished her friends well. Quinn and Sandi watched the the pair intently while Tiffany and Stacy munched on their biscuits and tried to appear cool while observing as well, but failing miserably.
STACY: (Nervous tone:) W-What do you think they're talking about, you guys? (Drinks tea)
SANDI: (Rolls her eyes, sighs, cuts her eyes over:) Perhaps about something personal between them, Stacy, but even in the case it's about us, I'm sure Darren's putting in a good word for the Fashion Club, so, like, relax, all right? (Stacy nods weakly in agreement)
QUINN: (Small smile, assuring tone while also cutting her eyes at Stacy:) It'll be alright, Stacy, you'll see.
TIFFANY: (Pauses, mild scowl as she watches Darren and Candi, in deep thought:) I wonder...will I look fat...if Candi sees...me nervous?
Quinn stared at Tiffany in disbelief along with the rest of the Fashion Club for an instant, then subtly leaned over to Sandi, whispering in her ear as Stacy assured Tiffany that she wouldn't look fat.
QUINN: (Uneasy chuckle:) Um, Sandi--? I've been thinking--maybe we should worry a little about Tiffany and Stacy...? (Sandi gives a small smirk, then shrugs at Quinn)
Candi crossed her arms at Darren and stood back for a moment, as if she were sizing him up, giving him a serious look.
CANDI: (In a low voice:) How are you doing, Darren--(adds, cocks an eyebrow:) I mean, really doing?
DARREN: (Also speaking in a low tone, shrugs:) I'm--doing okay, Candi. Having my family and girlfriend visiting has really helped me to cope. (Thought v.o.: In more ways than one. I didn't have that nightmare again last night.)
CANDI: (Slight smile:) Good. (Pauses:) If you ever want to talk, that is, about your mother, you can call me anytime, okay?
DARREN: (Small smile:) Yeah, I know, Candi, and thanks.
CANDI: (Returns the smile:) You're welcome. (Changes subject, in a very serious voice, narrows eyes:) I won't go easy on them, you know, not even your sister, even though she's basically gotten the intern job. The others are going to have to show me something.
DARREN: (Nods to acknowledge her knowingly:) Yeah, I know, Candi, but I wouldn't underestimate any of them, if I were you. (Adds:) Look, I really appreciate your doing this--
CANDI: (Quickly, but gently cuts him off, pointedly stares at him:) --Just as I appreciate your not "forcing" me to accept the others as intern material, (adds:) even though you easily could've....
DARREN: You'd know I'd never consider doing that, and neither would Constance, I suspect. I told my sister as much when she asked me to give her friends a shot. Mom ran Circa in her own way and it's done beyond well, so I don't see any problem with Constance allowing you to so the same.
CANDI: (After a moment, sighs:) I'm--sorry, Darren, you're right. In fact, I spoke to Constance right after she took over the reins, and she gave me carte blanche to do what I wanted to with Circa. (Frowns:) Unlike your uncle William, who scrutinized everything I did, and nothing I did seemed to please him. (Rolls her eyes while Darren nods in understanding:) I still can't forget that damn meeting right after he became Chairman when he dismissed my-- (shakes her head:) never mind that, it's all water under the bridge. I didn't mean to sound so snappy. (Pauses, smirks:) I could recall a long time ago, when there was another young woman just graduating from college, who was given a "shot", too, by your mother. (Darren chuckles as Candi pauses, raises eyebrow:) Still, that doesn't mean--
DARREN: (Grins:) --That you won't go easy on them, you told me already. When do you want me to come back?
CANDI: (Glances back at the F.C. for an instant:) Hmm--try an hour-and-a-half, (pauses:) no, better make it two hours.
DARREN: (Looks at his watch:) Then I'll be back around, say, 12:30 this afternoon, okay? I have to take care of some personal business, anyway. After I return, I'll take them all to lunch, then to Cashman's. (Reaches into coat pocket, pulls out thin cell phone, punches some buttons:) Hello, John? Darren. Is the limo ready? I'm leaving Circa for a few hours. (Pauses:) You're already waiting for me downstairs at the parking deck? (Pauses:) Excellent, I'm on my way. (Clicks off, places cell phone back into coat pocket:) I'm out of here, Candi, they're all yours.
CANDI: See you in a few, Darren. (Watches him leave, then turns toward the F.C., walks over to them)
Quinn and Sandi took one more glance at each other, then readied themselves as Candi sat down at her desk wordlessly with a slight smirk. Tiffany and Stacy swallowed hard, and tried to look confident.
CANDI: (After scribbling something down on a pad, stops, leans over her desk with a laser-eye stare:) Well, ladies--we can finally get started. (Pauses, cocks an eyebrow:) So you all want to be a fashion designer intern, do you?...
(Scene changes to the mansion, a little later)
Elenor, holding a clothes basket, knocked gently on Daria's bedroom door.
ELENOR: Daria? Hello? It's Elenor! May I come in? You and Jane wished to be awakened by noon, and it's that time! I also need to get your dirty laundry!
There was a pause, then Daria responded.
DARIA: (From behind the door, muffled and sounding tired:) Hmmm? (Pauses:) Oh, the damn clock reads 12:00 p.m., that's right. (Pauses:) Stupid clock. (Elenor chuckles) Sure, c'mon in, Elenor. (Elenor opens the door, sees Daria's head partially covered by the bedsheet she's laying under, but still speaking) I had the strangest dream last night. It felt like someone was operating on my face, and a light was shining on it. Isn't that kind of weird? (Begins to sit up)
ELENOR: (While gathering up Daria's familiar clothing on the floor, kind smile, not looking at Daria as of yet:) Yes, that is a bit strange, Daria. Do you think there's some reason for--(happens to now glance in Daria's direction, becomes wide-eyed, drops her mouth and laundry basket out of shock:) OH, MY!
Daria, now sitting up in her bed, raised her eyebrows at Elenor, then smirked, mildly amused and baffled at the maid's reaction. Daria did not know that her now cosmetically made-up face looked stunning, with just the right amount of peach-creme rouge, eyeliner, and lipstick. Daria's auburn-colored dishelved hair only added more to her look, causing her to appear even more stunning. In fact, Daria looked almost like a professional model. One could say Quinn had done a masterful job.
DARIA: (Deadpan, sarcastic tone, gets out of her bed:) Now, now, Elenor, it's just Daria. (Pauses as Elenor still is drop-jawed:) Um, you know, the same Daria you've seen these past three days, having just risen out of her bed?
ELENOR: (Recovers, hesitates, then slowly points to Daria's dresser mirror:) Uh, well, Daria, I wouldn't exactly say that right about now--
DARIA: (Confused frown, retrieves her glasses from her nightstand, puts them on, turns her head to the mirror:) Huh? What do you me--
(The scene shifts to outside of the mansion at that very moment. A second later, there is a bloodcurdling scream that is heard. [Note to reader: Think of the same type of scream made by Daria when she first tried on contacts in the episode "Through A Lens Darkly".] Birds in the surrounding forest suddenly are startled, flying out of their trees. A chipmunk nearby on the edge of the forest suddenly looks around in terror, then dives underground in its hole. Fish in the nearby lake splash on the surface of the water for an instant. Some of the mansion's security who had been talking in a group outside about 500 feet from the front of the mansion, develop panicked looks on their faces, glancing around nervously, having pulled their guns. Tina, having also been there, quickly motions to them all to check around the grounds, save for two men she takes with her to check inside.)
Daria's mouth had dropped in stunned disbelief as she continued to stare at the mirror when Jane suddenly rushed in from her bedroom, undoubtedly because of Daria's scream, having just jumped out of her bed. In addition to wearing her usual sleeping garb, her hair was also disheveled, but her face was stunning in appearance as well, with eyeliner that didn't look too heavily applied, but just enough to bring out the look of beauty around her eyes, and also giving her face a soft, curved look. The rosy, pink rouge she was wearing helped round it out. She stopped beside the still-stunned Elenor, stared at Daria in disbelief for a moment, then broke out into a slow grin, which actually enhanced her own beauty even moreso. Elenor had recovered just enough to cut her eyes over to Jane, then her mouth dropped again in shock.
JANE: (Teasing tone in mock-surprise and delight, not noticing Elenor's expression:) Why, Daria, you've broken out of your cocoon, and have become a beautiful butterfly! (Smirks as Daria frowns:) Finally decided to give in to the "Light Side"? (Chuckles:) Preparing for a sudden photo-shoot I didn't know about?
Daria then smirked slowly, and wordlessly pointed to her dresser mirror. Jane frowned at her for an instant, perplexed, then glanced over at it.
(Scene cuts to downstairs as Tina and a guard barrel into the foyer, guns drawn. Simultaneously, Fiona and Claude emerge from the direction of the kitchen, and two other servants, another maid and butler who shall remain nameless, come in from another direction. There is yet another blood-curdling scream, this time Jane's.)
CLAUDE: (Alarmed, looks up stairs:) Good Lord! Did those screams come from upstairs?
FIONA: (Ditto:) Yes, I think they did, Claude! What's going on?!
TINA: (Dead-serious tone, scowls:) All of you, stay here! We'll check it out! C'mon, you two! (Rushes upstairs with both men)
(Scene is back in Daria's room. Elenor has just recovered enough to begin to gather up the clothes she had spilled on the floor back into her basket as Daria and Jane stare at each other.)
DARIA: (Smirks, same tone as what Jane had when she first saw Daria:) Why, Jane, you've broken out of your cocoon, and have become a beautiful butterfly! (Jane gives Daria a very deep scowl) Finally deciding to give in to the "Light Side"? Preparing for a sudden photo-shoot I didn't know about?
JANE: (Flat tone:) Ho-ho, Daria, most damn amusing, nice echo-effect there in this "interior Grand Canyon". (Pauses, slight frown:) I'll kill Quinn. She's dead meat, along with the other members of her little crew. (Speaks through her clenched teeth:) I can't believe I actually made up with Sandi last night! She must've worked with Quinn to set us up somehow!
Daria began to open her mouth when Tina and the two men suddenly filled the space in Daria's room, looking around, wide-eyed, and guns drawn. Elenor stared at them expressionessly, the same as Daria and Jane. Tina stared back at the three for a moment foolishly, then lowered her gun with the other men, who then stared at Daria and Jane, dropped jaws and all.
TINA: (Comes up to Daria and Jane as Elenor leaves to go to Jane's room:) What's going on? We heard some screams up here. Is everyone alright?
DARIA: Jane and I are fine, Tina, everything's okay, here. (Pauses:) Too bad I can't say the same for Quinn and her friends when they get back, though.
TINA: (Frowns, confused:) Huh? What do you--(cocks an eyebrow, now notices:) uh, excuse me for asking, but what happened to you two?
JANE: (Deadpan:) We were ambushed in our sleep, Tina.
TINA: (After a moment, frowns, perplexed:) I--see. (Tries not to snicker:) Um, I guess I can see why you two would scream like that, based on the way you now look. (Pauses, cuts her eyes over to the two still hang-dogged faced security men, smirks:) Shut those flaps, you two, and go and tell everyone downstairs that it was a false alarm. Move it. (After another moment, both men finally, but reluctantly, leave the bedroom)
DARIA: (Sighs:) At least it wasn't lipstick Quinn had put on our faces--
JANE: (Frowns:) --Nope, just on your mouth, and the eyeliner on me. (Begins to rub her face rapidly:) I can't believe this crap was put on my face without me knowing it! Why in the hell didn't I--we--wake up when they started this? (Daria shrugs) We were that much under after seeing the Sick, Sad World marathon? (Looks at the palm of her hand:) Dammit, it's hardly coming off! What did they put on our face, Daria?
DARIA: (After doing the same thing as Jane, looks at her hand palm as well:) Hmm--it appears to be some sort of smudgeproof make-up. (Pauses:) As much I hate to admit it, my sis and her cohorts got us good, Jane.
TINA: Ah, some sort of a practical joke, eh? (Pauses:) How do you know it was your sister, Daria?
DARIA: Couldn't be anybody else. You see, we were waiting for Darren to come out of his meditation on Sunday after what happened at Reynaldo's. Quinn, who was with us, had fallen asleep against a wall in his meditation room, and Jane and I decided to have a little fun at her expense. In my case, I was, uh, paying her back for something she had done to me earlier that day. We carefully and quietly marked her face with lipstick. Needless to say, my sister was not pleased when she woke up, vowing revenge. I never would've thought she'd come up with this plan all by herself--
JANE: (Still rubbing her face:) --She didn't. Sandi probably helped plan it out, and Stacy and Tiffany jumped in as well. We'll see how they like having "facials". (As she's leaving room:) I'm gonna wash this mess off my face, Daria, then we'll plot our revenge. (After a moment, from out in the hallway:) Don't ask, Fiona, Claude. Just--don't--ask. (Slam is heard from Jane's bedroom door)
TINA: (Winces:) Ergh. Something tells me I should feel sorry for them. (Smirks at Daria:) Just promise me that you'll keep the blood spilled to an absolute minimum, okay?
DARIA: (Deadpan:) I'm afraid I can't guarantee that, Tina, though I will promise that we'll keep the expected screams from the Fashion Club to an absolute minimum. (Tina laughs as she leaves the bedroom, and Daria goes into her bathroom to wash her face)
FIONA: (Comes in as Claude walks by behind her down the hallway:) Um, Daria--?
DARIA: (Walks out of bathroom while wiping her face with wet bathcloth, voice muffled, sighs:) If it's about my face, I'll plead the fifth like Jane for now, Fiona.
FIONA: Well, actually, your mother wanted me to tell you that she and Mistress Millie have gone into Maness to browse about an hour ago, and to meet some of the village's residents. They won't be back until this afternoon. Your father, Master Jim, and Master Edward have gone golfing, and also won't be back until then. (Daria looks over her washcloth that's halfway down her face, cocks an eyebrow in surprise)
DARIA: (Removes cloth from her face, which reveals the make-up now removed somewhat:) Now, that's a bit of a shocker, Fiona. I was under the impression that Jim and Edward, (pauses:) um, well--
FIONA: (Nods:) --Yes, Daria, even the staff thought they couldn't stand one another, but from what I heard from Claude, Master Edward just suddenly wanted to go along with your father and Master Jim. I wonder what changed his mind? (Daria ponders this, shrugs, then continues to wipe her face)
DARIA: I don't know, Fiona. Maybe Edward wanted to see Jim be tortured by my dad like he was while they were out on the course Sunday. (Finishes wiping her face while Fiona giggles, reaches into her pullover pocket, puts glasses back on) Um, when did Edward and Millie come in, (adds quickly while giving Fiona her washcloth:) you know, just out of curiousity?
FIONA: (Takes Daria's washcloth:) Very early this morning, Daria.(Pauses while Daria gives a slight smirk of suspicion:) Did you want anything to eat for lunch? Henri could prepare you something.
DARIA: Nah. Later. Right now, Jane and I have something to take care of first. We'll have some sort of snack afterwards. Excuse me. (Abruptly leaves a briefly baffled Fiona behind)
The moment Daria walked out of her bedroom, Jane came out from her's, also with her face back to its "normal" appearance.
JANE: (Grins:) Ready to plot how to get back at 'em, Daria?
DARIA: (While walking towards the east wing with Jane:) Uh-huh. (Pauses, glances up for an instant:) How's this: I was thinking we could throw some of the Fashion Club's clothes into the lake, starting with my dear sister's.
JANE: (Rubs her hands together eagerly, wicked smirk:) I like, I like! I thought about doing their faces in ghoulish green skin while they slept with some paint dye that wouldn't come off for days, but this is cool, too. (Pauses, cocks an eyebrow:) Only their most expensive stuff, right?
DARIA: But of course, though from the way Quinn buys her fashion crap only from Cashman's, everything she has may be construed as "expensive", the same for her friends. (Pauses, smirks:) Best to throw all of their stuff in the lake, just to be on the safe side. (Pauses, cocks an eyebrow, while Jane gives another wicked smirk:) Of course, this could backfire because Quinn will then pester mom and dad for some new replacement clothing from Cashman's, (starts to slow down as she's realizing something:) and Darren will more than likely offer to buy her the new stuff himself, and the Fashion Club as well, and then all of them will have new, expensive wardrobes, (frowns:) courtesy of my brother, while I'll be punished for not being a "good sport". (Stops with Jane in front of Quinn's door, holds arms open:) Whoa. Hold it. I don't think we can throw everybody's stuff in the lake at all, Jane.
JANE: (After a moment, realization hits:) Hm. Damn, you're right. Through my justifiable rage, I didn't take that into consideration. We'd be responsible for the Fashion Club getting a whole damn batch of new stuff. (Pauses:) Back to the facial paint-dye idea?
DARIA: (Shrugs:) For Sandi, Tiffany, and Stacy, yes. For Quinn, I'm sticking with throwing some of her clothes into the lake, at least. (Opens Quinn's bedroom door)
JANE: (While she's following Daria in, puzzled look:) Huh? Didn't you just say--
DARIA: (Looking back over her shoulder while walking over to Quinn's closet door:) --That I wasn't gonna throw everybody's stuff in, Jane. Besides, it'll be just a few of what we'd think would be the most inexpensive--(notices an envelope with "Daria and Jane" written on it, and it's taped to Quinn's closet door:) hello.
JANE: (Cocked eyebrow:) Well, how do you like that? The little minx expected us. (Daria opens the envelope, and Jane looks over her shoulder:) What does it say?
The letter read:
Dear Daria and Jane:
Your reading this letter probably means that you've discovered what I've done to you two, and you're probably thinking about doing something to my clothes or whatever to get back at me. Before you do, I want you to understand that in case you two think any of the other members of the Fashion Club had anything to do with it, they didn't. I am the only one who came up with the plan and did it, so if you guys want to come after me, fine, but leave them alone, okay? Of course, if you actually do try to do something, Daria, I might as well warn you that I used our dad's camcorder to record the way you guys looked right after I "fixed" your faces, which I have to say improved your looks a lot--a whole lot. If you come back after me in any way, Daria, I will show the tape, which I took with me, to mom and dad, and who knows how they'll react, sis--maybe mom will pin a medal on me, and she'll make you go out, and buy a all-new wardrobe, or something! Since I couldn't use that picture of Darren carrying you, I guess I'll have to settle with the tape I now have instead, huh? ;D
Or maaaybe, better yet, I'll threaten to show the tape to your new boyfriend, Tom Sloane. Yeah, that Tom Sloane. I know all about him, sis. Surprised? Heck, it was easy to see that you liked him, and everything. I saw you guys around town occasionally while I was out before we came up here, and stuff, but I didn't say anything, slipping off with my, um, "followers" before you two noticed us. Maybe he'll get a kick out of seeing it. By the way, I am happy for you, he seems like a nice guy. It's about time you got a boyfriend, because I was thinking you'd never get one, with the way you dress, but after Jane got Darren, I guess anything's possible. Don't worry--this isn't sucking up.
As for you, Jane, I can't really do anything to you, other than maybe threaten to show my bro how you look with all that make-up on your face if you come after me, or if Daria does. After he got off the floor from being stunned by your look, he could, like, convince you to get a new wardrobe, too, and stuff. I think you were going in the right direction when you accepted my old compact, so why stop there? The Fashion Club could offer to make you over while you're up here, at least while Darren takes you out Thursday. Think about it.
Anyway, I was just getting you guys back for messing up my face on Sunday, you know. Do you have any idea of how I felt when I looked into that mirror? My looks are everything to me, you know that! Well, now that you've looked in your mirrors, maybe you two now know how it is to look different. See you guys soon.
DARIA: Well, I'll be damned. It appears that my younger sister is getting smarter--(pauses:) too damned smarter. I don't which is scarier, Quinn coming up with all of this herself, or her knowing about Tom without me suspecting it.
Jane snatched the note from Daria, reading it yet again, this time with a glare, then suddenly crumpled it, and threw it into Quinn's waste basket beside her computor desk.
JANE: (Snarls, through clenched teeth:) That--little--scheming--conniving--
DARIA: (After a moment, sighs:) --Yeah, I have to give it to her, too. (Jane cocks an eyebrow, then deflates, nods in agreement) Quinn thought this out down to the nitty-gritty. In a way, I'm actually impressed that she came up with this rather intricate plan. It's something even I would be hard-pressed to match, scheme-wise.
JANE: Um-hm. Gotta say I'm impressed, too. She's got us in quite a rut, there, amiga--for the moment, anyway. (Pauses:) You believe she did all the make-up stuff and recording it alone, then?
DARIA: (Smirks:) Of course not, Jane. There's no way in hell Quinn could've held my dad's camcorder and worked on our faces while we blissfully snoozed, it's impossible. She wrote that she did quite a job on us--(pauses:) which I admit from after looking in my mirror that she did, so it sure as hell to me wasn't a half-assed look.
JANE: Um, out of curiousity, who do you think helped her? (Mild frown:) My money's on Sandi.
DARIA: (After a moment, ponders:) Hmm, now after I consider it, I really don't think it was her, Jane. Remember, we came to her last night. She seemed sincere after our talk, and she's been nicer since she's been up here. I don't think she knew what was up, unless it was after the fact.
JANE: (Cocks an eyebrow:) Tiffany?
DARIA & JANE: (After staring at each other for an instant, then smirk:) Naaaaaaaah!
DARIA: That leaves Stacy, who more than likely was manipulated by Quinn. (Pauses, frowns briefly:) Still, it kinda surprises me that she'd go along with this. Of all the Fashion Club gang, she seemed the nicest to us. Guess when you're in Fashion La-la land, you do what the Fashion La-las do.
JANE: (Shrugs, nods head:) Maybe we can slip around and ask her why she became one, then. (Narrows her eyes:) There's no damn way that Quinn's gonna get off scott free from this blatent act of stupidity, Daria, no matter how brilliant it was, and even with that tape she's holding over our heads.
DARIA: I concur with you completely, Jane. We'll plot out how to get back at her, somehow. Maybe we'll start after we feed at the trough in the dining room.
JANE: (Now walking out with Daria from Quinn's bedroom:) Works for me. (Pauses, smirks:) Oh yeah, by the way, reading that letter has just made me remember something: Whatever happened to that picture I took of you and Darren?
DARIA: (Smirks back:) In a place you'll never find this time, Jane, I can promise you that. (Pauses:) Still gonna paint that "touching" scene?
JANE: (Points at her head, grins:) Yep, the memory's still up here, pard.
DARIA: (Rolls her eyes:) Damn cerebral brain cells. (Jane snickers as the two go downstairs)
(Scene changes to the rear of a limo, midtown Manhatten, the same time)
Darren was now on his way back to Circa after conducting his "personal" business, a visit to his deceased uncle's old Park Avenue apartment, donating almost all of William's memorabilia, particularly William's collection of Renior and Rembrant paintings, which he gave to the Guggenheim Museum, one of the places where he planned to take Jane on Thursday. Millie had refused to conduct the deed out of her bitter disgust at her brother and what he had done, asking Darren to do so instead. Darren had no problem with carrying out the effort, deciding to wait until the monthly $20,000 rental lease had run out. For a brief moment, he considered keeping the spectacular-looking apartment for himself when he came to work at Appleton Tower, remembering just how much in demand for such a choice spot in Manhatten was. In the end, Darren decided that he didn't want it because it held too many painful memories. Having his office is one thing, but having that apartment is something else. Staying in those rooms would give even me the creeps. Besides, living at the mansion provides me with more privacy. Darren sighed in understanding when he was told by the manager that the apartment was snapped up by someone else in waiting, a famous actress, when Darren decided not to renew the lease.
Darren glanced over at the worn-looking, glass-encased baseball beside him in the seat. Of William's signed baseball collection, Darren had only chosen to keep the Lou Gehrig one, giving away everything else of value to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. The ball was a personal momento from his (adopted) dad via Darren's grandfather, by which Arthur Sr. had actually sold it some thirty years ago to a collector, only to have William buy it back twenty years later from the same collector. Arthur Sr. repeatedly lamented to everyone and to Darren (when Darren was a child) that he regretted selling it, and that he wished he could buy it back to give to his son. Darren recalled how his (adopted) father went back to the collector to purchase it, but it had already been sold, and that the collector was sworn to secrecy as to the identity of the purchaser. It wasn't until after William had died that he found out from the now-aging collector that William himself had bought it, and had paid the collector extra not to tell anyone, particularly Arthur Sr., that William himself had brought it. Uncle William must've been told by dad how much that ball had meant to him, getting it from granddad, and William then went straight to that collector, and bought the ball out of pure spite. We didn't even see it when we visited uncle William's apartment. My God, something like this was one of the things that helped fuel uncle William's hatred for dad--?
Darren closed his eyes slowly, blocking out the surging hate he was feeling once again for William. Darren didn't want to go there, not anymore. After Rory and Reynaldo's, Darren wanted nothing to do with that part of him. His uncle couldn't hurt him or anyone else, now. Sighing and opening his eyes, he turned his attention to addressing another pressing problem. Reaching into his coat pocket, he got his cell phone. He punched some numbers, and it began to ring.
(Scene changes to a nice-looking hotel room, a minute earlier)
Tom Griffin was finishing packing his suitcase on the king-sized bed, while his wife Linda was in the bathroom, taking a shower. He sighed in relief that the marketing convention was over, and that he and his family could finally leave Baltimore, and go back to nearby Lawndale so he could resume his CPA job. In retrospect, Tom couldn't understand why he and his sons had come in the first place, since the city was so near to Lawndale. After all, this was his wife's convention, not his, she could've come herself. Wait, that's silly, of course you know. Her TV station had offered to pay for all of us to come, Tom. While Linda was attending the all-day meetings, he had taken his sons to see two Baltimore Oriole home games at Camden Yards, visited the National Aquarium (where he had to do some quick explaining as to why Sam and Chris had tried to throw some popcorn and hot dogs to the killer whales at the show), and the famous Inner Harbor area. He then paused for a moment, and frowned to himself. No, who am I kidding? What do you really think, you wimp? She made you attend. You don't have a backbone in your body. She's holding that moment over you, a stupid thing that you did a long time ago, and she won't ever let you forget it. Tom sighed yet again and slumped as he shut his suitcase, knowing this reason was more right than anything else.
Tom turned his thoughts to his daughter, Sandi. He hoped she was having a good time while staying at Darren's. He had wanted to speak to her last night, but Linda had cut him off from her, saying something about a "fashion intern meeting" at that Circa place Sandi had to attend this morning. Tom smiled slowly. His daughter was finally showing some initiative about her future, and he was secretly delighted. He paused for a moment, wondering what had made Sandi suddenly want to get into gear. For the longest time, he had feared that she wouldn't amount to much of anything at all, especially since Linda had drilled into her head that being popular at school and marrying a rich person after she left was the key to power, money and thusly success, even though Linda herself had worked, admittedly hard, to reach her goals. Why couldn't she have encouraged Sandi to do the same thing? Why couldn't I have encouraged Sandi to do something in her life?
He wondered about the events in that warehouse that night, and his daughter's behavior since. Could that have had something to do with it? Tom also wondered about overhearing Sandi tell her mother about having some nightmares the day before she left to go to the Appleton estate. Maybe seeing Darren Appleton almost dying shook her to the core so much, Sandi decided that life was too short, and she took the bull by the horns. Good for her.
Tom frowned, becoming increasingly frustrated with Linda's recent actions concerning her daughter and Darren Appleton. He thought about Linda's conversation last night with Sandi, with Linda pressuring her daughter to tell the press today that Sandi had made a "mistake" when she said that Darren wasn't her boyfriend on Sunday. Couldn't Linda see that Darren wasn't interested at all in Sandi? Tom had tried to stand up for his daughter on the way to the airport, and had paid the price for his "defiance".
After a brief pause, it suddenly occurred to him that the last-second inclusion of Sam and Chris by Linda for them to come here was a result of that "defiance", and that she full well knew he would have his hands full with their sons, while she was relaxing, and enjoying the "perks" of the meetings during the off-hours. You are truly a schemer, Linda, aren't you?
He was shaken out of his thoughts by the hotel phone ringing on the end table beside his bed. Tom was about to answer it, when he heard the shower in the bathroom turn off.
LINDA: (From behind the door, muffled:) Tom, if that's room service, tell them we'll be ready to leave in an hour, and that the luggage will be on our bed! Sam and Chris will have their's ready in a half-hour!
TOM: (Sighs, raises voice:) Yes, dear! (Picks up phone on fourth ring:) Hello?
VOICE: Hello. Is this the Griffin's hotel room?
TOM: Yes, it is. Is this room service?
VOICE: No, it's not. (Pauses, hopeful tone:) Is this Mr. Griffin? Hello, this is Darren Appleton. I'm glad I was able to locate where you were after checking around Baltimore's area hotels.
TOM: (Brightens:) Darren? (Pauses, glances at the bathroom door, lowers voice:) Hello, and yes it is me. (A relieved sigh is heard from the other end) Ah, this is quite a surprise. Is everything okay? There's nothing wrong with Sandi, is it? I know her mother called up there last night, and Sandi spoke with her.
DARREN: She did? I didn't hear anything from Sandi on that this morning. (Pauses:) Uh, may I assume that the phone call was about, ah, you know, Sandi's comments over me this past Sunday to the media?
TOM: (Hesitates, then scowls as he looks timidly at the still-closed bathroom door:) Yes, I'm afraid it was, Darren. (Sighs:) Since Sandi hasn't told you about their talk yet, you haven't heard about Linda wanting Sandi to retract the statement. In fact, Linda, er, ordered Sandi to do it by today, expecting Sandi to call in the media herself. (Adds reluctantly:) In fact, Linda's just had an interview with the local TV station here, stating that Sandi will have something to say today.
There was a very long pause on the other end. Tom anticipated an angry response, but much to his surprise, Darren spoke in a calm tone, almost too calm, it seemed to Tom.
DARREN: I--understand, Mr. Griffin. (Pauses:) It seems that your wife simply isn't getting the message, here. Now when I consider what you've told me, I shouldn't have been too shocked to hear how'd she respond.
TOM: (After a moment, hesitates:) Uh, Darren--? Are you, ah, alright? You don't seem, well, too upset--
DARREN: (Cooly cuts him off:) --Oh, I'm quite alright, Mr. Griffin. I think I have no choice now other than to personally address this problem in a most--direct manner. (Pauses:) Well, since Mrs. Griffin is expecting some sort of statement about me and Sandi today, she'll get it--(adds:) just not from Sandi.
TOM: (Realization is dawning on him:) I--see. Sooo, I assume you'll address the media today on you and Sandi?
DARREN: (Dark tone:) Oh yes, I will, and after today, the issue of your daughter and me will not come up again--ever.
TOM: (Alarmed look:) What--what do you plan to say, Darren? As much as I want my wife to drop this, I, well--
DARREN: (Pauses, senses the fear in Mr. Griffin's voice, lightens up a tad tone-wise:) --Don't worry, Mr. Griffin, it won't be anything horrible, I can assure you, but it will be firm and to the point, and designed to "scare" your wife off once and for all. (Pauses:) When will you and your family be leaving Baltimore?
TOM: (Looks at his watch:) Uh, we're supposed to be checked out in an hour. We're driving back to Lawndale. (Pauses:) Why?
DARREN: Perfect. Listen carefully--I'm going to arrange a quick little news conference in the lobby of Circa in forty minutes. Tell your wife that Sandi just called you, and will say something about "us" there, and for your wife to watch for Sandi on your hotel room TV. I know World News Network has round-the-clock updates every half-hour, and I also know they'll provide a live feed to the nation via the local stations up here, so I'd advise that you view that channel for the news conference. (Pauses:) Will you do that for me, please?
TOM: Yes, I can do that, Darren.
DARREN: Good. Now, one more thing: It's interesting that you asked me if there was anything wrong with Sandi when I first called you, because that's what I wanted to ask you about. My sister Quinn and I have seen her up almost every night and into the morning since she arrived at my family's estate, not being able to sleep. (Tom narrows his eyes) We think it might have something to do with what happened at the warehouse the night I was--(pauses:) uh, shot. Do you know if she's been up at your home?
TOM: (Glances at the bathroom door uneasily again:) I know she told her mother about having some nightmares just before we sent her up to where you were, but I only happened to hear the tail end of that conversation, and I didn't know what is was all about. My wife seemed to dismiss Sandi's concerns when she did talk to her, and told me it was no big deal when I asked her about them. (Adds, somewhat nervously:) Do you think this is something serious, and Sandi's holding something back? She's been--different since what happened in that warehouse, I can tell.
DARREN: Could be serious, Mr. Griffin. I asked Sandi here if she had any psychological after-effects, and she insisted that she didn't to me, though after seeing her up in the mornings, and hearing your story, I'm more convinced than ever that something's wrong. I mean, all of my family and Jane even admitted that they had some after-effects of what happened, though they're basically over that night. In fact, if Sandi had said that she had a problem dealing with what happened, I'd be relieved more than anything. To deny anything, however, is even worse. (Tom gets a worried look on his face) Look, I'll confide this to you: I'm seeing a psychologist secretly, and it's really helping me. Don't take this wrong, sir, but perhaps you might want to look into doing something like that for your daughter, if nothing else, to help her sleep better at night. I'm offering to pay for any and all possible treatments to help her.
TOM: (Taken aback:) I--don't know what to say, Darren. Thank you for that offer.
DARREN: It's the least I can do, Mr. Griffin. I owe your daughter that much for that night.
TOM: You don't have to blame yourself, son--
DARREN: (Chuckles:) --I've been told that several times already by my girlfriend and family, believe me. Still, I have to clean up the damage I've done. Just get in touch when you're ready to talk, ok?
TOM: (Smiles:) We'll make it a point to do just that, Darren, after we speak to Sandi when she returns. (Pauses, adds, smirks:) You're sure your not tired of your girlfriend Jane Lane at all, yet? (Grins:) Sandi's still available to announce for real that you and her can be a couple.
DARREN: (Laughs:) I'm certain, Mr. Griffin, but thanks, anyway. Remember to tell your wife about that quick press conference.
TOM: I will. Tell my daughter I said hello.
DARREN: Will do. Goodbye. (Hangs up)
Linda suddenly exited the bathroom, her hair wrapped up in a towel, and dressed in a bathrobe. Tom placed the phone back on the receiver.
LINDA: (Cocks an eyebrow:) Just finished? Was that room service?
TOM: (Takes a deep breath, sits on the bed:) Actually dear, it was Sandi--
(Scene is back in Darren's limo)
Darren punched some more numbers in his cell phone, smirking.
DARREN: (In a looser, more "casual" tone of voice:) Hello, WNYC-TV? (Pauses:) Got a hot tip about Darren Appleton for you guys. (Pauses, frowns, rolls eyes:) Yeah, that Darren Appleton, and this is no joke, okay? (Pauses:) Who am I? Look, if you don't want that tip, then I'll contact some rival TV--(pauses, grins:) ah, that's better. Here's the deal: I heard that Appleton guy's gonna be in the lobby of Circa in less than an hour, and that Sandi Griffin girl's with him and his sister and her friends. Maybe you can get the "dirt", if any, on what's going on with those two, if you know what I mean? (Pauses:) Why am I doing this, and what's my motivation? (Shrugs:) Guess I just like to make big news, or something, ciao. (Clicks off phone. Glances at watch, sighs, clicks cell phone back on, punches some more numbers)
(Scene changes back to the mansion, the same time)
Claude was dusting the desk in Darren's home office when the speakerphone that was stationed on it rang. Claude cocked an inquisitve eyebrow for an instant, and answered it tepidly.
CLAUDE: Hello, Appleton estate. (Pauses, narrows eyes:) To whom am I speaking to?
VOICE: Claude? Hey, it's Darren. I wondered if anyone would be in my home office when I used this line. I must've caught you cleaning in there.
CLAUDE: (Takes a big sigh of relief, smiles:) Hello, Master Darren, and yes, you did, sir. I wondered who was calling this private line, since all of the estate's incoming calls are supposed to be screened by security unless the outside party uses our bedroom's individual call numbers.
DARREN: I didn't want to take up too much time in calling through security, Claude. I'm returning from taking care of some personal business, and I'm on my way back to Circa Fashions to pick up my sister and her friends, and I'm in a bit of a rush. (Pauses:) Ah, are Daria and Jane up yet?
CLAUDE: Yes, they are, sir. I believe they're downstairs in the dining room still feasting on Henri's--(forms a look of mild disgust, then adds in an equally disgusted tone:) ugh, cheeseburgers. (Darren is heard chuckling on the other end)
DARREN: Now, now, Claude. Henri makes some killer cheeseburgers, and I like them, too. They're the all-American food, so be patriotic, and like it. (Claude smirks, playfully rolls his eyes) I wanted to speak to both of them through the speakerphone at the same time. Could you call them up?
CLAUDE: At once, Master Darren, hold on please. (Pushes hold button, hits intercom button that's connected to the dining room:) Mi--er, I mean, Daria and Jane? Are you both still in the dining room?
JANE: (From over the speaker after a moment, mouth full:) Yo, Claude!
DARIA: (Ditto:) Yeah, we are. (Pauses:) If you're playing a game of hide and seek, then this is a hell of a way for you to locate us. Next time, we're gonna do you the same way. (Jane snickers in the background)
CLAUDE: (Can't help but give a small laugh at this:) No, Daria, I'm afraid this is not a game. Master Darren is on the speakerphone up here in his office, and he wishes to speak to the both of you. If you wish, I can arrange for your food to be carried up here on a tray.
JANE: Nah, I'm finished. (Pauses:) Daria?
DARIA: Same thing, my burger's vanished. We're on our way, Claude, thanks.
CLAUDE: Very good, Daria, Jane. I'll inform Master Darren. (Releases hold button on speakerphone:) Master Darren, they're on their way.
DARREN: Okay, Claude, thanks.
CLAUDE: (Pauses, hesitates, then adds:) Er, pardon me for saying, sir, but something--odd happened to your sister and girlfriend this morning--(adds quickly:) nothing too serious, mind you, sir, but--
DARREN: (Chuckling sound:) --I know all about it, Claude, and that's what I want to talk to them about. Maybe I can help head off a possible World War III. (Claude frowns at the speakerphone briefly in confusion, but says nothing)
A minute or two later, Daria and Jane, still dressed in their nightclothing, entered Darren's home office. Claude nodded to them curtly, and left. Both girls walked over to the speakerphone on Darren's desk.
JANE: (Grins, leans over to the speakerphone:) Heya, "Darry"! (Smirks:) Driven insane yet by the Fashion Club?
DARREN: (Chuckles:) Hey, Jane. Nope, sorry to disappoint you, but not yet. (Pauses:) Hey, sis.
DARIA: Hey, Darren. You sound a little garbled. You're calling from the rear of the limo?
DARREN: That I am. I'm slowly making my way to Circa through midtown Manhatten. I'm only ten minutes from it. Quinn and the rest of the Fashion Club should be almost finished with Candi Gunwald right now. We're going to lunch, then to Cashman's world headquarters.
JANE: (Small frown:) Funny you should use the name "Quinn", and the words "finished", and "lunch", Darren--
DARIA: --Yeah, it's the perfect way to describe what we're going to do to her: Finish eating Quinn for lunch when she returns.
DARREN: (Sighs:) Obviously you two know what she's done, eh?
JANE: Uh-huh, how could we not after seeing our fa--(realizes:) hey, how'd you know?
DARREN: How else? Quinn told us all during the helicopter ride to Circa.
DARIA: (Annoyed tone:) And I'll just bet she was laughing her ass off when she told you all this, right?
DARREN: (Pauses:) Uhhh, well, I suppose she found some sort of amusement in it, yes.
JANE: Well, Daria and I will have our own sort of amusement with Quinn soon.
DARIA: Count on it.
DARREN: (After a moment:) You two know that Quinn made a video of your faces, don't you? She has it with her at Circa, and plans to show it to the Fashion Club.
JANE: Yeah, yeah, we knew by that damn note she left us in her room--
DARIA: --And Jane and I will peel it from her dead fingers after we kill her. (Jane smirks) We won't let her hold that over our heads. (Pauses:) Of course, we're still trying to formulate how to do it...
JANE: (Rolls her eyes, holds out her arms:) Hell, let's just go with my idea, Daria, no need to get so fancy, here. (Pauses:) Run up to the damn helicopter when they get back, pull her out, wrestle her to the ground, and snatch it from her!
DARIA: (After a moment, looks up:) Hmm, painful. (Pauses:) For Quinn that is, but effective. (Pauses:) I like it.
DARREN: Er, I guess there's no way I can dissuade you guys from doing this at all? (Daria and Jane stare at the speakerphone as if it's gone crazy)
JANE: Daria? Do my ears deceive me? Did I just hear my boyfriend and your brother defend Quinn?
DARIA: (Frowns:) Either that, or Rod Serling just made a quick appearance, and we didn't notice it. (Pauses:) Darren, have you gone loco?
DARREN: Whoa, hold on, who says I'm defending Quinn? What she did to you two was just as bad, I don't deny that, certainly. I simply don't want an ugly situation beginning to brew, with a game of "One-Upsmanship", culminating into something possibly nasty happening in the end. Besides, you guys did mess up her face first--
JANE: (Annoyed:) --Which gives her the right to retaliate against us, Darren? We were having a little fun at Quinn's expense--
DARIA: --And don't forget, it was all because of Quinn sticking her tiny little pore-infested nose where it didn't belong when she snatched that picture of you and me from my bedroom.
DARREN: And that gives you the right to retaliate against Quinn like that? (Daria and Jane look at each other) Sis, you got the picture back from Quinn, you know. Perhaps if you wouldn't have done anything more, Quinn would've just left it at that. (Daria rolls her eyes) And, Jane, I'm curious as to why you helped out on Quinn's face. It's not as if Quinn had done anything against you on Sunday, right?
JANE: (Pauses, shrugs:) Well, um, no, but you know, Daria's my buddy, and we stick together, and all that jazz--
DARREN: (Chuckling sound:) --Not to mention that you wanted that picture for yourself to paint from, right? (Daria narrows an eye suspiciously at an now-uncomfortable Jane, then smirks) Daria just beat you to it.
JANE: (Glares at the speakerphone:) Umm, don't change the subject, you! The fact of the matter is, Quinn did an unspeakable act of vandalism on our faces, and we can't let her use that tape against us later! (Shakes fist, looks up mock-determinely:) We must have our revenge, do you hear? Revenge!
DARIA: Down, girl. Okay, bro, in your opinion, and to be fair, what do you want do about this? Pat Quinn on the back and say, "There, there, don't do it again.", or something?
DARREN: (Playful sneering tone:) Oh, heavens, no, Daria, nothing so radical as that. (Pauses:) How about if I ask Quinn to give me the tape in return for your promises that you or Jane won't go after her when she returns today? (Pauses:) Please? For me?
DARIA: (Sighs, thought v.o.: If it were anyone else asking this, Darren--:) Well, providing that she gives it to you, and if Quinn throws in a sincere apology to us--
DARREN: (Cuts her off:) --I'll be able to persuade her, don't worry-- (thought v.o.: You hope.)
JANE: (Rubs her jaw in thought:) --I dunno, Daria, maybe if Darren can sweeten the pot a wee tinnny bit more--? (Brightens, develops a sinister smirk:) How about if you allow me to paint that mural in your meditation room, Darren? (An audible groan is heard on the speakerphone) Awww c'mooon! Those walls in that room need all the help they can get! I promise it'll be something to match that meditational thing that you do!
DARREN: Why didn't I see this coming? (Long pause:) Well, since it's to help provide the peace around here, then (sighs:) okay. (Jane breaks out into a big grin) Goodbye, my so-called "drab-looking" walls. (Snorts, in a defeatist tone:) I'm sure Curtis will be estatic about this, the same for everybody else around here. My sensei will probably frown on it, but what the hey?
JANE: Ah, relax, Darren, it'll be cool, I'm sure your sensei will love what I plan to do, hell, he'll end up thanking me, you'll see.
DARIA: (Deadpan:) Just don't paint it with a pink sky, cute little white bunnies jumping around in the bright green meadow, and flowers with trees. (Darren's chuckle comes across the speakerphone, and Jane makes a disgusted look) Quinn might check it out by chance, and never leave that room again. (Pauses:) On second thought--
JANE: (Shudders:) --Dooon't go there, Daria. You might destroy my artistic integrity by me just thinking about doing that. (Slaps hands together:) Well, if there's nothing else, I'm gonna get started with a sketch of what I wanna paint on that wall, then go outside and do some actual painting. Have a good time with Quinn and her minions--(begins to leave Darren's office)
DARREN: --Actually, there is one more thing, Jane, Daria. (Jane stops) Before you guys go about your day, check out a TV in about 20 minutes on the World News Network channel. (Daria and Jane look at each other, smirk) I don't want to spoil the surprise.
DARIA: Hm, sounds interesting. This "surprise" wouldn't be by any chance about Linda Griffin, would it?
DARREN: (Stunned tone of voice:) What? How did--
JANE: (Grins:) --We stopped by Sandi's room last night to thank her for admitting to the media that she and you weren't an item, and she came clean and told us Linda had pressured her into making some sort of stupid statement today, saying it wasn't true. I guess Sandi got together with you at Circa, and you guys decided to make some sort of joint statement in response, or something.
DARREN: You're partially correct, Jane, but Sandi hasn't said anything to me about that, at least not yet.
DARIA: (Surprised with Jane:) Come again? How did you know?
JANE: Yeah, who told you?
DARREN: Heh--I'll explain later, you two. Right now, I don't have the time to get into it. See you later. (Clicks off phone before either girl can say anything)
JANE: (Hands on her hips, mock-scowl:) Well, how do you like that? We thought we had one on "Darry", and he gets one on us, instead! What a sneaky thing to do!
DARIA: (Deadpan, small smile:) Well, what do you expect, Jane? He's my brother, and after Quinn's sneaky little stunt this morning, it runs in the family, for "sneaky" is in our blood. (Jane chuckles) C'mon, we'll watch Linda's being spilled in my room. (Jane smirks wickedly as she leaves with Daria)
(Scene changes to Circa's office area, a few minutes later)
Darren came into the nearly-empty office area (mostly everyone were at lunch), and, after speaking to Candi's secretary, went quietly into the Circa Fashion head's office, slowly opening one of the double doors.
He was greeted by the sight of the Fashion Club and Candi, sitting in chairs that surrounded Candi's TV, watching it and chatting incessantly, so much so, they hadn't noticed him as of yet. Darren, assuming they were watching a video tape about fashion styles, smiled, and quietly and good-naturedly came up behind them to see what was on.
His mouth dropped in stunned disbelief as he saw Daria's made-over face being shown on the screen, then even moreso as Jane's followed. Both his girlfriend and sister were stunningly beautiful on screen, with their peacefully sleeping forms enhancing their looks even more, especially by the camcorder's soft white light that delicately lined their faces. Darren could only stare at the screen, shaking his head slowly, mesmerized.
Quinn, sitting at the outside edge, happened to see her brother out of the corner of her eye. She smirked slightly at his reaction, but said nothing. Candi also looked out of the corner of her eye, and responded first after turning off the VCR, leaving a snowy TV screen.
CANDI: Ah, hello, Darren. We didn't see you there. (The others look at Candi, then at the still-enchanted Darren, and get up with her out of their seats) How long have you been there?
DARREN: (Shaken out of his "trance":) Eh? Oh, uh, hi, Candi, everyone. Only about a minute. Your secretary Bunny told me to come and slip right on in since you were expecting me. (Pauses, glances at Quinn, motions head at TV while Stacy retrieves the tape, and gives it to Quinn:) Sooo, that's the tape of Daria and Jane that you and Stacy took this morning, eh, sis? (Hesitates, takes a deep breath:) I, well--wow...
QUINN: (Giggles:) Aren't Daria and Jane really pretty, bro? After seein' the tape for the first time, I gotta say it was even better than I thought it was, (adds quickly:) and Stacy, your taping of their faces was super! The light really brought out their glow!
TIFFANY: (Smiles at Stacy:) Yeah, the light...didn't make their faces...look fat at all... (Candi gives Tiffany a strange look, but says nothing)
STACY: (Blushes, delighted at Quinn's and Tiffany's praises:) Gee, thanks, guys!
SANDI: (Nods in agreement, though secretly she's mildly jealous, not because of Quinn's apparent makeover talent, but of Jane's [and a little of Daria's] georgeous looks, and how Jane's affected Darren:) Yes, I must say, Quinn, you have displayed a telling talent, here. Good work. Stacy, your steady camerawork also must be cited as well in the Fashion Club's records. Give yourself a fashionably pink star along with Quinn for a job well done.
QUINN: (Grins:) Wow, a fashionably pink star? That's like, a high honor in the Fashion Club! Thanks, Sandi!
STACY: (Estatic, giggles:) Yeah, thanks, Sandi! Once I got the light adjusted to, like, the right brightness and everything, it was a snap!
CANDI: Darren, I have to say that your sister Daria and girlfriend Jane simply looked marvelous! (Smirks:) Perhaps they might want to try out as models? (Darren gets a wide-eyed look, while Quinn looks stunned along with the F.C.)
DARREN: Are--are you serious, Candi? (Pauses:) Daria and Jane?
CANDI: Why not, Darren? They seem to have "The Look" for modeling--
DARREN: --Uh, Candi, I think I can safely say that Jane and Daria would not want to be anywhere near a modeling studio. (Pointed look:) Trust me on that--
QUINN: (Scornful chuckle:) Yeah, that's for sure! I mean, me and the rest of the Fashion Club are waaay more prettier than those two are! Heck, they barely pass! (The rest of the F.C. nod, while Darren serves an admonitory scowl at Quinn, who catches it, and lightens up, uneasy chuckle:) Well, um, we're at least a little prettier than my sister. (Shrugs:) Jane passes as, uh, "decent"--
DARREN: (Changes subject before he grows angrier with Quinn:) --Moving right along, what were the results of the fashion designer intern meeting? (Pauses, cocks an eyebrow:) Candi?
CANDI: Actually, Darren, I was about to tell them right after viewing the tape. You timed your coming back perfectly. (Turns to the F.C., narrows her eyes, and crosses her arms, looks as if she's sizing the F.C. up:) Well, I certainly was impressed with their rather intricate knowledge of fashions and designs, along with what certain materials and colors that could be worn during each season of the year, and what styles and colors look good on certain model's bodies. (Pauses as she reads the proud-looking and anticipating faces of the F.C., sighs:) However, Quinn and Sandi stood out (narrows her index and thumb fingers together, smiles:) juuust a tiny bit more than Tiffany and Stacy, and I want to meet them again the next time they visit up here.
Tiffany and Stacy looked devestated then stared down at the floor at the news, with Stacy looking as if she wanted to cry, while Sandi's mouth dropped in stunned disbelief and delight. She put her hand on her chest to keep herself from fainting. Quinn went over to Tiffany and Stacy and patted them on the back gently, comforting them. After a moment of getting over her rush, Sandi followed suit. Candi stole a glance at Darren, smirked briefly, then continued.
CANDI: However--that doesn't mean you two are out of the running as fashion designer interns, at least not completely. (Tiffany and Stacy look up at Candi hopefully along with the others) I am known to give young "eager beavers" such as yourselves another chance. In January, Circa will conduct intern designer seminars here for young people from all over the country. Improve your high school grades by taking more challenging classes, ladies, and contact me. We'll talk some more then.
STACY: (Deliriously excited, so much so, she runs over and hugs Candi tightly, while Quinn and Darren smile:) Oh, thankyouthankyouthankyouthankyou, Candi! I promise to improve my grades, and I'll read up even more on the fashion designer field, you'll see!
TIFFANY: (Slowly grins:) Yeah...thanks, Candi...what she said...goes for me, too...
CANDI: (Chuckles, peels Stacy off of her:) You're both welcome. (Turns to Quinn and Sandi, brief frown:) That doesn't let you two off the hook, though. What I told them goes double for you.
SANDI: Like, don't worry, Candi. The Fashion Club has already addressed improving our grades for our future careers.
QUINN: Yeah, I'm gonna get a tutor for this fall to improve my grades, and everything.
CANDI: (Pauses, considers:) Good, but I still want to arrange for monthly progress reports from your high school from all of you. (Narrows her eyes:) Nothing will be taken for granted when you're working for me, do you all understand? (The F.C. nod their heads in understanding) Good.
In the meantime, Darren went over to his sister and hugged her, while Sandi stood by the side, and watched quietly.
DARREN: (Grins:) Congratulations, sis. It looks like you've gotten your foot in the door. I'm sure Helen, Jake, and Daria will be happy for you.
QUINN: (Doubts her sister will be as enthused as her parents, especially with what happened this morning, but holds her tounge for Darren's sake:) Thanks, Darren. I can't wait to tell them. (Suddenly whispers in his ear:) And thank you again for helping me get this job--brother. It really, really, really means a whole lot to me, and stuff. I'm so happy you came into my life. (Kisses him lightly on the cheek, and Darren turns red for a brief moment)
SANDI: (Hesitates, then comes over to Darren:) Like, um, thanks again, too, Darren. I really appreciate it. (Takes a deep breath, then suddenly hugs him for a brief instant, backs away quickly, red-faced)
DARREN: (Awkwardly:) Uh, you're welcome, Sandi. (Adds:) I'm sure your parents will be happy to hear about this, huh? (Thought v.o.: Well, at least your dad will, I suppose. Your mother doesn't seem to care, at least that was the impression I got from your father.)
SANDI: (In an unenthusiastic tone, looks away:) Er, yes, I'm sure they'll be, like, very happy. (Adds quickly:) Uh, Darren? There's something else I wanted to speak about to you later today-- (Darren looks at Sandi knowingly, while Quinn cocks an inquisitive eyebrow)
DARREN: (Thought v.o.: Ah, here it comes about her mother's--)
The next moment, Candi's secretary Bunny buzzed the speakercom on Candi's desk, interrupting Darren's thoughts. She spoke in an agitated tone.
BUNNY: Candi--? Sorry to bother you, but security reports that there's quite a commotion in the lobby downstairs, a large gathering of the media! Cherice has gone down to find out what's going on! (Darren smirks, while Sandi turns pale)
CANDI: (Frowns:) Damn! I'm sorry, Darren. I guess the media just won't leave you or the others alone, will they? Don't worry. I'll arrange for you all to leave via the back entrance to the parking deck by--
DARREN: (Cuts her off:) --That won't be nessessary, Candi. (Glances at Sandi, who cocks an eyebrow at him, inquisitive:) I asked for them to come. (The others look stunned)
QUINN: B-But why, Darren? (Pauses, smirks slowly, as if she's realizing something:) Oooooh, I get it! You wanted to let them know about our starting out in th' fashion designer field, huh? What a great surprise! (Darren stares at Quinn like she's lost her mind) Gee, that's so sweet of you, bro! (Rushes toward and out the door before Darren can speak:) C'mon, guys, let's talk to the press and tell them our good news! We'll do a quick touch-up on the way down in the elevator! (Stacy and Tiffany look at each other for an instant, then follow Quinn out while reaching in their purses for combs and brushes, while Sandi and Candi stay in the office with Darren)
CANDI: (Cocks an eyebrow, turns:) Darren, at the risk of jumping to conclusions, why did you really call the media here? Surely it wasn't because of--
SANDI: (Narrows her eyes, speaks before Darren can respond:) --You know, don't you, Darren?
DARREN: (Thought v.o.: About Mrs. Griffin pressuring you to tell the media today about us officially being an "item" again? Yes. As for your possibly needing a psychologist because of your nightmares, I'll let your parents speak to you about that.) (Nods, small smile, soft tone of reassurance:) Yes, I, er, spoke to your dad on my way back here. Don't worry, Sandi, I'll speak for us both, it'll be alright, I promise. Candi, I'll give you a quick lowdown what this is all about on our way down. (Leaves the office with the others)
(Scene changes to a bar at the Maness Golf Links pub)
Jake, Edward, and Jim sat at a table drinking beer, though Edward's beer had barely been touched, while the other two had gone through three mugs. Jim was smirking at a glaring and tired Edward, while Jake was talking and laughing. There were a few other patrons in the place, with a TV suspended up in the corner above the bar.
Edward, though he had finished in front of Jake by ten shots, had come in second to Jim four shots back, which had surprised him somewhat because of his tired state of being. He had planned to sleep in today after coming in very early this morning with Millie, but once again, his "Employer" wanted him to go along, this time demanding it, particularly after Edward had informed him of Jim's suspicions about Edward yesterday to Millie. Despite Edward's assurances that Jim knew nothing, his "Employer" wanted Edward to keep a careful eye on Jim, to see if he knew "anything out of the ordinary about Edward", and to contact him immediately if Jim did.
Edward also had told his "Employer" what he had heard in the dining room Monday of Darren's sudden decision to go with Helen and Jake yesterday to the city to meet Constance and Leonard, causing Edward's "Employer" to become quite agitated because of not knowing what it was about, much to Edward's befuddled chagrin. Edward had approached Jake privately on the side while they all were golfing to "innocently" inquire what had happened, but much to his surprise, Jake politely said no, explaining that he had promised his wife and son that he wouldn't "blab" out anything, making a "zipping motion" on his mouth, and crossing his arms in comical defiance.
Before Edward could try to subtly pry any additional info from Jake, Jim had suddenly come up and began to constantly hang around, all the while giving tall tales about the shots he could hit with what irons--and then actually going out and doing it. This was on top of his so-called "playful" nagging questions about him and Millie, such as where they first met, and what he saw in her, and her in him, but doing it in a "pacifying" way so that Millie wouldn't be upset with him. To make matters even worse, Edward had to also tolerate Jim's bragging over having a "superior game" over him all throughout. Edward did have some satisfaction in "good-naturedly" giving Jim some "details" about the date he and Millie had together last night, enjoying the seething look on Jim's face. He glanced over at Jake talking (to Edward, at least) his customary gibberish. At least that idiot didn't act like a bloody buffoon this time on the course.
JAKE: (In a slightly slurred tone, he's a bit drunk:) --And I broke 90 today! 90! (Suddenly pounds on the table, which startles the brooding Edward and the other few golfers and bartender, while Jim laughs out loud:) That was ten shots better than on Sunday! Ha! Ol' Jakey's makin' strides now, eh, guys?!
JIM: (In a clearer tone, not so drunk:) Oh, yeah, Jake, ten shots better, huh? (Gives him a high-five:) You are the man! Soon, you'll be even bet-- (Edward rolls his eyes, which Jim notices, and he frowns:) What's your problem, "Eddie"? (Pauses, smirks, then sneers:) Aww, are you still mad because I had a better game than you today? Why can't you be a good sport about it? Hell, Jake here finished 14 in back of me, and he's as happy as can be! Loosen up! (Thought v.o.: So maybe I can get something out of you.) (Reaches over and slaps Edward on the shoulder, causing Edward to lurch forward and almost knock over his beer)
EDWARD: (Glares:) Now see here, you--
JAKE: (Cuts him off suddenly, points at a TV mounted up in a corner over the bar, which causes Jim and Edward to look as well:) --Hey, isn't that my son on th' TV? (Proud look, hiccups:) That'z my boy, you know!
JIM: (Stares, then grins:) Why, so it is! Isn't that Quinn and that "Fashion Gang" behind him? (Hollers:) Hey, barkeep, turn up the sound! (The barkeep obeys, though it's clear he's mildly annoyed by the behavior of the two)
Edward took on a serious look, narrowing his eyes. Jim cocked a brief eyebrow at this, wondering why he'd be so interested in what Darren would be saying. He focused back on the image of Darren on the screen while watching Edward's reaction out of the corner of his eye.
DARREN: (Grinning at a sad-looking Quinn:) It's okay, sis, you and the rest of the Fashion Club can tell the media later about your, er, good fortune. (Turns to the horde:) Well, this is a--surprise. (Quinn cocks a surprised eyebrow with the F.C., but none of them say anything) I didn't expect you guys to be here, but it's just as well, for I'm glad you all are. (Motions to Sandi off-screen, and she reluctantly comes up beside him as cameras whirr fantically. Darren then develops a serious scowl:) I'd like to put to rest once and for all the rumors about Sandi Griffin and me by her mother, Linda Griffin--
(Scene changes to a small, open-air cafe called "Sean's" in "downtown" Maness, a minute earlier)
Helen and Millie had already met several prominent members of the community who had enthusiastically welcomed Helen with open arms in the courthouse, which privately had surprised Millie, since she had wondered if the people she had known for years would be so accepting of her nephew's birth family while still mourning her brother and sister-in-law. She needn't had worried, for they had given Helen a welcoming gift, a large basket of wrapped fresh fruit, which delighted Helen, and began to pepper her with curious, but friendly questions, such as how she and her husband Jake felt about seeing their son for the first time, what her daughters were like, how Daria and Quinn felt about having a newly-discovered big brother, and her and Jake's jobs.
Helen patiently answered all their questions, and asked a few of her own, such as about how long they knew Darren's (adopted) parents, and of the history and layout of the village of Maness. Helen was told about the importance of the Colonial-era village during the Revolutionary War, when George Washington occasionally used the area as a rest stop for him and his troops, yes, the "George Washington slept here" story, but in this case, it was true. The village remarkably hadn't changed much from those Colonial times, with its Georgian-era built shops, incredibly clean sidewalks, and gas-lighted streetlamps. In essence, Maness presented a laid-back, small-town atmosphere. To Helen, this village was delightfully relaxing and quiet. Even Lawndale, tiny suburb as it was, looked to her like a bustling city compared to Maness. However, it was also noted that this was the slowest time of the day to her by Millie, who added that most of Maness' residents were either working, or taking a final vacation at the Hamptons for the summer. The result was almost the appearance of a ghost village, with little to almost no one out on the hot sunlight-drenched streets.
Both women were sitting at one of six umbrella-covered tables on the sidewalk of the only (and apparently empty) cafe in the village, drinking iced tea, and deep into discussion about Helen's "Family Time" idea for Friday, when the owner of the cafe, a man by the name of Sean, who was a tall, but powerfully-built man with a receeding hairline, suddenly came outside on the sidewalk from his store, looking excited, and still wearing his white work smock-apron. Millie, who frequented Sean's, and knew the owner well, cocked an amused eyebrow.
SEAN: (Breathless:) Millie, Mrs. Morgendorffer--
MILLIE: Why, Sean, what's wrong? Calm down!
HELEN: (Chuckles:) Please, Sean, call me Helen--
SEAN: (Smiles, takes a deep breath:) --Sorry, Helen. Millie, I didn't mean to interrupt your conversation with Helen. Since it was so slow today, I decided to turn on my portable TV on the counter inside to see the news, and I happened to come upon Darren talking, and it's on live! (Helen and Millie look at each other for a moment, then rise out of their seats, and quickly follow Sean into his store)
The three gathered around Sean's TV, where they saw the image of Darren onscreen, with Sandi Griffin standing beside him. Helen formed a troubled frown of her own at her son's frown, while Millie stared stoically.
DARREN: --Like to put to rest once and for all the rumors about me and Sandi Griffin by her mother, Linda Griffin. As you all know, speculation has been rampant about Ms. Griffin and me since what happened at the warehouse that terrible night about a month ago in the town of Lawndale, where my birth family resides, despite the fact that I've already--
(Scene changes to the McKinna residence, the same time, in their living room)
Krystal sat back on the sofa, eyeing Darren on the TV with an intense gaze, while Rory leaned against a wall watching also with his arms crossed, looking bored, even feigning a yawn. She gave him a warning glare to shut up, and he snorted, looking away disdainfully. Krystal had paid an operative close to the goings on in the local media to keep an eye out for any news about Darren and his birth family, and to let her know immediately if any breaking news came about. It had indeed paid off by her having been informed by the operative about Darren's sudden news conference today. Krystal narrowed an eye in perplexity at seeing Sandi Griffin standing beside Darren for a moment, but she quickly suspected he was about to "clear the air" once and for all about him and the Griffin daughter, and one Linda Griffin was about to get her's. Based on what she was hearing, she had guessed correctly.
DARREN: --Where my birth family resides, despite the fact that I've already told you all time and time again that Jane Lane is my true girlfriend, and Ms. Griffin here herself has said on Sunday that Jane Lane is my girlfriend as well--
(Scene changes to Daria's room, the same time)
Daria and Jane smirked at each other at this, then continued to watch Darren.
(Scene changes to downstairs, the same time)
In the media room, the servants and some of the security watched Darren on the large TV as well, having slipped in after Elenor had told them (via Daria and Jane), interested.
(Scene changes to the Griffin's hotel room, the same time)
Tom Griffin viewed the TV with Darren's face on it nervously while sitting beside their hotel bed in a chair, stealing occasional glances at his wife out of the corner of his eye. Sam and Chris were quiet and still for once (after a stern warning from their mother, who wanted no noise from the two), watching the TV from a corner of the room. They became excited when their sister's face came on, but quickly shut up when their mother scowled at them.
Linda Griffin, who had expected to find her daughter speaking about her and Darren and "setting the record straight" on Sandi's "mistake" on Sunday, instead saw what appeared to her to be an angry and annoyed future son-in-law, and she frowned, confused, particularly at what she was hearing. Did that Lane girl do something to him?
DARREN: --Ms. Griffin here herself said on Sunday that Jane Lane is my girlfriend as well, (pauses:) but for some reason, this isn't registering with her mother. I've just heard from a reliable source that Mrs. Griffin has told a local TV station in Baltimore this morning that Sandi Griffin was "mistaken" about saying I wasn't her boyfriend. Well, I've tried and tried to be nice about this, but enough's enough. I want to categorically deny here once and for all that Sandi Griffin is my girlfriend, and that she is being manipulated, embarassed and humiliated by her mother, a conniving, self-serving woman who's only interested in getting her hands on my wealth through her daughter, (Linda turns pale in shock, while her husband watches her reaction quietly, but then shows a tiny smirk on his face. Sam and Chris view the the TV with dropped mouths), and who appearently doesn't care one iota about how this is affecting Sandi Griffin, a young woman who's simply trying to earn her place with my sister and her friends here at Circa as a fashion designer intern. If I hear one more comment from Linda Griffin about me and Sandi Griffin "supposedly being together" to you all, (puts up index finger, warning scowl, clenched teeth:) just one more, I'll sue her and file charges of harassment so fast aginst her--
(Scene changes to Sean's, the same time)
Helen and Millie developed wide smirks, then gave each other high-fives while saying:
HELEN & MILLIE: YES!
(Scene changes to the Maness Golf links pub, the same time)
JAKE: (Raises his mug to the TV:) GIVE 'ER HELL, SON, THAT'Z A BOY! (Hiccups, burps, then falls face-first on the table, spills the remainder of his beer on the floor)
JIM: (Grins, pats Jake on the back:) Hah! Put that witch in her place, Darren! I'm proud of you, too!
EDWARD: (Cocks an eyebrow, thought v.o.: Whoopie bloody doo, no real news here--)
(Scene changes to the McKinna's again, the same time)
RORY: (Shakes his head slowly:) Oh, that poor, poor, woman. (Pauses:) Well, now she is. (Grins, looks at his sister:) Get it, sis?
KRYSTAL: (Rolls her eyes:) Yeah, yeah, I get it, brother, now shut the hell up so I can finish listening, okay? (Rory shrugs, continues to watch TV)
(Scene changes back to the media room in the Appleton mansion)
The staff cheered wildly, with Elenor and Claude doing a little victory jig.
(Scene changes to Daria's room again, the same time)
DARIA: (Thought v.o., small smile: Way to go, bro. Get this crap over once and for all.)
JANE: (Pumps her fist, wicked smirk:) BOOYA! Suck on that, Linda Griffin!
(Scene changes back to the Griffin's hotel room, still at the same moment in time)
Linda Griffin stared at the TV, transfixed, pale, and stunned, with her mouth dropped like her son's were, still not believing what she was hearing. The record about her daughter and Darren was being set "straight", all right, just not the one she thought.
DARREN: --It'll make her head spin. (Pauses:) I mean it. (Looks directly in the slowing closing in camera ahead of him, which happens to be the one that's showing him on the Griffin's TV, cold tone:) Leave me alone, Mrs. Griffin. Leave your daughter alone. Let her have a good time up here with her friends. (Turns back to the media:) Thank you all for coming, that's all I have to say. (Shouting questions from the members of the media immediately commence, such as Darren's "fight" with Rory, and about Jane, but Darren ignores them all, and leaves with his sister and the rest of the F.C. through a side door that connects to the parking deck, and presumably to the waiting limo for them all. After a tense moment, Tom rises slowly up out of his seat, and clicks off the TV. Linda still has the same stunned expression, and has not moved.)
TOM: (Turns to his sons, calm tone:) Boys, I want you to go back to your room, and wait there for the bellhop to get your suitcases. Your mom and I will come over to get you. (Pauses, cocks an eyebrow:) Don't harass him this time, okay? (Sam and Chris glance at each other for an instant, then nod reluctantly after looking at their stunned mother once more, then leave)
Tom watched his sons leave, and turned his attention to the seemingly catatonic Linda, and sighed. You only have yourself to blame for all of this, Linda. I tried to warn you, but you just didn't listen. He went over to her, stared in morbid fasination for an instant, then waved his hand in front of her pale face.
TOM: Linda? Honey? (Pauses:) Linda?
Before he could say another word, the phone by their bed rang. Tom paused, then answered it. In the meantime, Linda had not so much as flinched, remaining as still as a mannequin with her stunned look.
TOM: Hello? (Pauses:) Right, the local TV station my wife spoke to this morning, uh-huh. (Pauses:) Yes, we saw Darren Appleton on TV just now. (Pauses:) No, we have no comment on what he said, at least not right now, perhaps later, thanks. (Quickly hangs up phone:) We'd better leave before more of the media ca-- (a thud is heard from behind him, and Tom quickly turns to his wife:) eh?
Linda Griffin had fainted on the floor.
(Scene changes to the McKinna's)
Krystal clicked off the big screen TV, then narrowed her eyes, deep in thought. After a moment, a smirking Rory came over and sat down beside her, staring. Krystal noticed him out of the corner of her eye, and turned her attention to him. She frowned for an instant, then smirked slowly.
KRYSTAL: Don't you have something to do, brother, dear, oh, like distributing drugs to your lackeys, or something?
RORY: (Becomes wide-eyed and pale, looks around wildly:) Shhh! Do you want the servants to hear you, or something?
KRYSTAL: (Smacks her mouth:) Oh, relax, you idiot. Ann and Bob-what's-his-name have gone shopping, remember? (Rory breathes a sigh of relief) As for our parents, they're out raking in the moolah, as usual.
RORY: Yeah, I remember now, but still, you gotta be careful saying stuff like that around here, sis. If our folks found out--
KRYSTAL: --They won't--(grins:) unless I tell them your little "side-venture", and since I can keep holding that little blackmail over your pea-brain, (Rory frowns) you have no worries. (Gets up:) Now, leave me alone.
RORY: (Gets up as well, shakes his finger slowly:) Ah-ah-ah, Krystal, not until you tell me why you haven't barged over to the Appleton place so far this week. Tomorrow's Wednesday, you know.KRYSTAL: (Looks at him pointedly:) Do tell. (Shrugs:) I don't want to appear too eager to look like I'm going after Darren, and I want to get to know his birth family first--(adds:) and Jane Lane. It's going to take quite a while to do that, even after the Morgendorffers and Jane Lane leave, especially after what I just saw on the tube. Darren's really hooked on Jane Lane. The worst thing I could do is tip my hand by barging over there, and making goo-goo eyes at him. I'll probably go to the Appleton's tomorrow sometime.
RORY: Shrewd. (Looks at his watch:) Well, I gotta go myself. Have a lot of things to do today, things like checking out my good looks, checking out the babes--(starts to leave)
KRYSTAL: (Smirks, sneers:) --Checking out your "supplies"-- (Rory glares at her, then leaves, and Krystal chuckles, then leaves the living room herself)
(Scene changes to an exclusive French restaurant called "Cherie's", a while later)
Darren, Quinn, and the rest of the Fashion Club, save for Sandi, who was using Darren's cell phone at the moment to check on her parents, sat at a table, the "best in the house", feasting on French cusine, such as ovres vin frites, vichyssaise, fromage, and duck a l'orange.
When they first had came in, several of the (real) French-speaking male waiters had fallen all over themselves to serve a delighted Quinn (and the other members of the Fashion Club), while some of the female waitresses (ditto with the language) did Darren the same, much to the chagrin of the other patrons, who felt ignored, though most of them did steal curious looks at the group. Only after Darren had kindly asked the servers to treat him and his sister and companions like everyone else (much to the mild annoyance of the Fashion Club), did they leave. After a very brief period of time, one waiter and waitress returned to wait on them, having explained that they won the "hat raffle" on who would do so. Darren shook his head slowly, exasperated, while the Fashion Club grinned, flattered that they could be "won" in such a way.
The Fashion Club had asked Darren what place he'd recommend for lunch, and he chose Cherie's in the heart of Manhatten because he figured his sister and her friends would like it, thinking it similar to their favorite eating spot in Lawndale, Chez Pierre, and that it was only a block from their next destination, Cashman's of Park Avenue. Ironically, this also happened to be his late uncle William's favorite eating spot. Darren mentally rolled his eyes at yet another thing fomerly of his uncle's that he was using. For a moment, he shuddered at this: Am I more like my uncle than I think I am? Do I like what he likes? He quickly buried that thought, and turned his attention to Sandi, who gave him back his cell phone.
DARREN: (Mildly concerned with the other F.C. members:) Sandi, how's your mom?
SANDI: (Sounding actually relieved, for her:) She's like, okay, Darren. She didn't have to go to the hospital, or anything, and all she needed was to rest, at least that's what the hotel doctor told them. My father said that they and my brothers immediately left Baltimore, not talking to any reporters, and have just come back to Lawndale, where he put my mother to bed.
QUINN: (Sighs:) That's a relief, Sandi, I'm glad she's gonna be okay.
TIFFANY: Yeah...a relief...she's okay.
STACY: (Suddenly startles Sandi by hugging her fiercely, hysteric, which draws some stares:) Oh, God, Sandi, I'm sooo glad your mom will be okay, too!
SANDI: (Gently but firmly pushes Stacy off of her, red-faced, while Darren chuckles to himself at this:) Staaacy! Will you like, relax? I told you that she's fine, all right?
STACY: (Quickly contrite, looks down:) Um, sorry, Sandi.
DARREN: (After a moment, gets serious:) Uh, Sandi, I want to apologize for what happened to your mother because of what I said. I didn't think she'd react like this--
SANDI: (Puts her hand up, cuts him off:) No, like, it's okay, Darren, really. My father and I agreed that my mother needed to understand what she was doing was wrong, and, unfortunately, it took this to do it. It's not your fault that she reacted like she did. I'm sure that after the shock wears off, she'll recover. (Changes subject, grins:) My father said that he was proud that I was accepted as a fashion design intern at Circa. He'll tell my mother once she's--recovered.
DARREN: (Smiles:) That's great, Sandi. Hopefully, your acceptance will act as some sort of consolation prize to your mother, and make her feel better. (Sandi nods, though it's a reluctant one)
TIFFANY: (Looking in her compact's mirror:) I think...my face needs...to be powdered...guys.
SANDI: (Narrows her eyes at Tiffany while examining her face:) Hmmm, now that you've mentioned it, I think you do, Tiffany. Perhaps a little extra rouge on your face will bring out your cheeks more.
STACY: (Panics, reaches into her bag, and looks into her compact's mirror:) OHMYGOSH! I think I need to redo my face, too!
QUINN: (Now looking into her's as well:) Yeah, me too. It was probably due to the stress we were under with Candi. Our little quick make-up jobs on our way downstairs to the lobby barely held out under the media's fashbulbs, and stuff. (Darren gives a mild eyeroll) We might as well look our best when we get to Cashman's. Let's go to the restrooms and redo our faces. (Starts to get up from the table with the others:) Darren, we'll be ba--
DARREN: (Puts up hand:) Uh, Quinn--? Before you go with the others, could I speak to you, please--(glances at the F.C.:) alone?
QUINN: Um, of course, Darren. (Turns to the F.C.:) I'll catch up with you guys, okay?
SANDI: (Pauses, looks between Quinn and Darren:) Um, like, sure, Quinn. (Leaves with the others)
QUINN: (Sits back down slowly at the table:) What's going on, Darren? What didja want to talk to me about?
DARREN: (Raises an eyebrow:) I'm sure you know, sis. (Pauses:) I'd like to ask about that tape you have of Daria and Jane in their "makeover modes". I wanted you to know that I spoke to them over the phone before I came back to get you all, and they're not pleased at what you did to them.
QUINN: (Snorts:) Well, duh, bro! I, like, didn't expect them to thank me, or anything! Why do you think I'm keeping the tape? If they try an' do something to get back at me, I can show mom and dad how Daria looks!
DARREN: (Sighs:) Quinn, Jane and Daria promised me that if I got the tape from you, they wouldn't seek revenge--(hesitates:) that and the fact that I, er, promised that you'd apologize to them for what you did.
QUINN: (Eyes wide open, mouth drops:) WHAT??!! ME APOLOGIZE??!! (The patrons look at them, and Quinn immediately lowers her voice after looking around, embarassed:) I mean, why should I apologize? They were the ones who started all of this with what they did to my face--
DARREN: --Only after you entered Daria's room, and took her picture of her and me--
QUINN: (Crosses her arms, defiant:) --Only after they entered my room, and took my swimsuit for Daria, without even asking me! What about that, huh?
DARREN: (Pauses:) Okay, I didn't know that. Still, it seems--childish to continue this. Why not just let this go?
QUINN: (Long pause, then forms a slow, crafty smirk on her face, which makes Darren look at her uneasily:) Weeelll, I'll be willing to, like, give the tape up, and I'll apologize, provided they apologize as well for comin' into my room, iiiiiif--
DARREN: (Narrows eyes:) ---Iiiiiiif--?
QUINN: (Rests head in her hands, and puts her elbows on table, gives Darren her "cute" look:) Iiiiiif you buy me a new power suit at Cashman's!
DARREN: (Drops head:) I knew there was a catch.
QUINN: (Giggles, slides over and pats him on his arm gently:) Oh, c'mon, Darren! I think that's like, a fair trade, and stuff!
DARREN: A fair trade? (Pauses:) And what about your telling Helen and Jake that you wouldn't try to get anything from me while you're up here?
QUINN: (After a moment:) Well, uh, they wouldn't haveta know, you know--? (Adds quickly as Darren gives her a skeptical look:) It's not as if you'd be lying to them, okay? I mean, if they don't know, they won't ask, right? (Adds, wry look:) Besides, the way I figure it, you do kinda owe me a suit for what happened at Reynaldo's. (Darren gets a slightly guilty look on his face, and Quinn trails off, looking away:) I mean, we didn't buy anything because of well, you know--
DARREN: (Sighs, in a quiet tone:) Yeah, I remember, sis, all too well. (Pauses:) Okay Quinn, to keep the peace, I'll buy you that power suit at Cashman's.
QUINN: (Estatic:) Eee! Thanks, Darren! (Hugs him)
DARREN: Oh, lest I forget: After we come back from Cashman's, you, Daria, Helen, Jake, and I are going to talk about something important. It's a surprise. (Quinn cocks an inquisitive eyebrow)
QUINN: (Giggles:) I love surprises, especially for me! (Coy look, smirks:) You can't even give me a little hint, bro?
DARREN: (Shakes head, smirks back:) Nope, sorry, sis. You'll have to find out with Daria.
QUINN: (Mock-pout:) Oh, well, okay, I guess I can wait--(begins to rise up)
DARREN: Uh, Quinn--? (Quinn pauses) Aren't you forgetting something?
QUINN: (Frowns, perplexed for a moment:) Huh? (Gasps:) Oh, yeah! (Reaches into her purse, rummages in it for a moment, then pulls out the tape, gives it to Darren:) Here you go, Darren, and I'll apologize to Daria and Jane--after they do it to me, okay? I'll see you in a few. (Hurries off)
Darren stared at the tape for a moment, wondering if it was worth "keeping the peace" between the three girls that were beginning to have such an interesting effect on the recent part of his life. He shrugged for a brief instant, chuckled, then pocketed it as he sat back and waited for the others to return.
(Several scenes occur at the spectacular-looking Cashman's World Headquarters on Park Avenue later, where the Fashion Club, in their version of fashion "heaven", try on what seem to be an endless array of outfits in the huge store, giggling with glee as they do, with a bevy of eager salespeople to do their bidding. A female bodyguard from the Appleton security staff stands nearby, surveying the store with a serious scowl on her face, occasionally speaking in her walkie-talkie. Darren in the meantime sits patiently in a leather corner chair watching the quartet, occasionally checking his watch and yawning, or speaking on his cell phone when they're in the dressing rooms. At times, Quinn comes over to him dressed in a colorful exquisite power suit, twirls around, and asks for his opinion on how it looks on her. Darren frowns in deep thought at her attire during each interval, either shaking his head slowly in disagreement, or nodding in approval. Finally, she settles on a lavender one, and after an exchange of words with her brother, Quinn nods, smiling, and hugs him. Nearby, Sandi cocks an intrigued eyebrow, but says nothing, going back to looking at other dresses.)
(More scenes later show the other members of the Fashion Club eventually coming over to get Darren's "guy-type" opinion as well on their outfits. Tiffany shows off a very tight tan-colored summer "skort", and a wide-eyed Darren gives a quick thumbs down, then quickly looks away, privately uncomfortable. A disappointed Tiffany drags herself away to look for something else. Stacy appears next in a flowered, pink, off-the-shoulder, cute-looking summer dress. She looks at him, hopefully. Darren cocks a studious eyebrow for a moment at her attire, then gives a thumbs up, smirking. Stacy suddenly leaps in the air, estatic, which startles Darren so much, he falls out of his seat unto the floor. The bodyguard comes over with her gun drawn, looking around, but is assured by Darren that everything's fine, and she goes back to her "post". It's obvious Sandi is careful when she asks Darren's opinion about her conservative-looking blue summer short-sleeved dress. Darren, sensing this, holds up his hand to her in a reassuring manner, telling her not to worry. Sandi smiles, relieved, then twirls around to show off her dress. Darren's eyes narrow, then he gives a thumbs up, smiling. Sandi smirks in agreement, then takes her dress to one of the salespeople to purchase it. A bit later, while Darren is yet once again speaking on his cell phone, Quinn and the rest of the Fashion Club are speaking to a female model who works for Cashman's, one who tries on outfits for customers who want to buy a present for someone else. She happens to have a body similar in appearance to Jane, lithe and lean. Quinn then hands her a red tube dress, which the model takes into the dressing room to try on. A moment later, the model appears with the Fashion Club in front of Darren and spins around. Darren, thinking the dress for one of the other Fashion Club members, seriously examines her dress for a moment, nods, then gives a definite thumbs up. The Fashion Club members smirk at each other, then leave with the model. Darren stares after them all for a moment, then shrugs and drinks some tea provided for him by the salespeople at Cashman's.)
Several hours had passed, and Darren took a quick glance outside through the store windows while he read a Gentleman Monthly magazine. It was becoming dark. He closed the magazine, and rose out of his chair, walking over to Quinn, who stood off from the Fashion Club while checking out some sandals. She looked up at Darren as he came over to her.
DARREN: (Trying to sound patient:) Uh, Quinn--? (Points at watch:) It's getting late. We're expected at the mansion for that "talk" with Helen, Jake, and Daria. The security at Circa is waiting to let us in so we can go back on the helicopter from their roof, but they have families to go home to as well, you know.
QUINN: (Looks at her watch as well:) Yeah, I guess it is getting late, huh? (Smiles:) I just love being here! I don't wanna leave!
DARREN: (Chuckles to self, thought v.o.: Tell me about it.:) You can come back here when you visit again, I promise. Tell the others we're leaving and for them to gather what they're going to purchase while I call Circa and tell them we're on our way.
QUINN: Okay, bro. (Goes over the the F.C.)
Quinn came up to Sandi and the other two, who were looking at new outfits.
QUINN: Guys, Darren says it's time to go. We should start to gather our stuff, and everything. We can come back at a later time, and stuff.(Turns to a smiling salesperson, motions to the stack of clothes beside her:) Could you like, please bag our stuff so we can purchase it?
SALESWOMAN: (Smiles:) At once, Quinn. (Turns to another saleswoman:) Jill, get Sara to help us pack these clothes--(leaves with her)
STACY: (Heartbroken look:) Oooooh noooo. (Looks down:) I'm going to hate to leave here.
TIFFANY: (Ditto:) Yeah...and we only scratched...the surface of...the gold mine...of fashion.
SANDI: (A bit of her old haughty tone:) Tiffannny, Staaacy, it is unfashionable to want to try and consume the entire range of fashion here in a half-day. It would be, like, gourging on too much fat-free ice cream at one time. In the end, the irony here is that the fat-free ice cream would make you fat.
TIFFANY: (Shudders:) Eating too much...fat-free ice cream...ewww.
QUINN: (Thoughtful:) Yeah, too much of a good thing is bad for you--
STACY: (Brightens:) Oh, I get it! We should, like, savour it, right? Like tasting a fancy wine, or something, and swigging it around in the mouth before swallowing it?
SANDI: (Curt nod, smirks:) Precisely, Stacy.
QUINN: (Sighs:) You know, after being here, I don't think our Lawndale Cashman's is gonna quite measure up to this place, 'cause of the size, and the clothing choices. It'll look--bland now.
TIFFANY & STACY: (Looking depressed:) Yeeah. Yeah!
SANDI: (After a moment, sighs:) Yes, I concur, Quinn. However, we must keep a brave front in the face of such a--(pauses, forms a disgusted look:) minuscule amount of styles in Lawndale. (Ponders:) Perhaps we can suggest to the staff here to send the Lawndale store more fashions so that our less-fortunate classmates can experience our good fortune.
QUINN: (Gasps:) That's a great idea, Sandi! We can, like, call the manager of Cashman's here later about this, and everything! (Sighs:) Too bad we wore her out so much, she had to leave for her home earlier. When do you think we should call her?
TIFFANY: Maybe...sometime tomorrow...?
STACY: (Frantically writing down Sandi's idea on her notepad:) New--styles--here--and--at--Lawndale--(giggles:) got it!
SANDI: Tomorrow is a good idea, Tiffany. Our influence here can only enhance the fashion choices for our fellow Lawndalians. (Pauses, bows head with others, shuts eyes, quiet tone:) We have done well. (Darren gives them a strange stare for an instant while he speaks on his cell phone, thinking they're praying)
(Scene changes to the mansion, later)
The helicopter carrying the Fashion Club and Darren landed on the Appleton estate's helipad just as the twilight of the summer evening had arrived. Like this morning, everyone waited until the 'copter's blades stopped before they all got out. Elenor, Claude, Fiona, and another butler and maid went out to meet them and retrieve the Fashion Club's packages. Daria, Jane, and Helen came out a moment later. A worn-looking Darren smiled when he saw them, particularly at Jane, relieved. He pecked Jane on the mouth, and held her around her waist. Quinn quietly slipped over next to the other Fashion Club members, winked at them and smirked, passing a medium-sized package marked "Jane" she had kept with her separately from the other Cashman's packages to Sandi, who gave a curt nod and a smirk of her own while taking it. Stacy held her mouth and giggled, while Tiffany simply showed her usual vacant smile. After speaking a few words to the Fashion Club, Quinn went over to her brother and the others, while the rest of the Fashion Club went onto the mansion. She came upon them in mid-conversation.
DARREN: --And all in all, we had a lot of fun, Helen, (to Daria and Jane's skeptical smirks:) really. (Starts walking back to the mansion with the others, holding Jane's hand)
HELEN: That's wonderful, dear. Quinn, did you have a good time at Cashman's?
DARIA: (Before Quinn can respond, looking past her at the large amount of packages the servants are taking into the mansion:) From the looks of the grand fashion package caravan over there, I'd say she and her friends had quite a blast--(gives Quinn a slight scowl:) in more ways than one, I'd suspect. (Quinn glares at Daria, while Jane smirks, Darren rolls his eyes, and Helen cocks an inquisitive eyebrow at the "caravan", then at Quinn)
QUINN: (Erupts:) Now just hold on a freakin' minute, Daria! I got that suit with my own money! If you're infer--infer--saying that Darren brought something for me--
DARIA: (Cuts her off, innocent tone, smirks:) --Nah. Just pulling your leg, sis. I know you gave your word to our folks that you wouldn't try to get anything off of our brother while we're here, so I believe you. (Quinn forms a look of astonishment, then chuckles nervously. Jane, however, smirks a little more at Quinn's uncomfortable look)
JANE: Yeah, lighten up, Quinn. Daria can crack a good joke now and then, you know.
DARIA: (Deadpan:) Either that, or a skull. (Pauses:) Hmm--Quinn, may I borrow yours for a moment? (Darren chuckles as Quinn rolls her eyes)
HELEN: (Admonishing glare:) Daria!
QUINN: (Sneers:) Ho-ho, sis. (Smiles, changes subject:) Anyway, Mom, I got a radical power suit at Cashman's! Wait 'till you see it--
HELEN: --It'll have to wait, dear. Your father, brother, and I wish to speak to you and Daria about a very important matter.
DARREN: (Frowns, perplexed:) Say, where is Jake and everybody else, for that matter? I thought he, my aunt, uncle Jim, and Edward would be out here with you guys.
HELEN: (Looks a bit uncomfortable:) Well, your father was, um, a bit under the weather when he came from his golf outing with Jim and Edward, and he's just recovered enough to join us after he gets--(looks for words:) refreshed--
DARIA: Translation: Dad was soused when he came back with Jim and Edward, and they put him to bed to sleep it off--
HELEN: (Warning glare:) Dariaaa--
DARIA: (Oblivious:) --and he just rose out of bed as you guys got here, rushing into the can to rid his body of the excessive toxins from his many beers through urination.
QUINN: (Shudders:) EWWWWWWW! (Jane chuckles, and Darren laughs)
HELEN: That'll be enough, Daria! (Brightens up to Darren:) Your aunt and Edward went out again. As for Jim, he's been up in his room since he came back. He said he had to make some personal business phone calls, but he seemed sad for some reason, too. (Sighs:) I suppose I know why--
DARREN: --Uncle Jim's just going to have to accept Millie and Edward being together, Helen. The sooner he does, the better it'll be for him. At least we haven't seen any fireworks between him and Edward over aunt Millie--
QUINN: Well, um, I kinda saw those two looking like they were in an argument the other day while I was with Millie, and we were goin' to lunch. (Everyone stops and looks at Quinn) I could, like, sense that there was some heavy stuff going on, and everything. Aunt Millie sent me away so she could talk to them alone. (Adds as they presume walking:) I thought about listening in--
HELEN: (Frowns:) --Quinn!
QUINN: (Rolls her eyes:) --But I didn't, okay? I asked aunt Millie if anything was wrong when she came into the dining room, but she said everything was straightened out, though she looked really mad, and stuff.
JANE: (Whispers to Daria as Darren casually listens in while Helen and Quinn are allowed to go on ahead:) Damn, we could've had the blood spilled then and there, amiga.
DARIA: (Ditto with the whisper:) With Millie there front and center, Jane? Gimmie a break. Turst me, if there's fisticuffs, it'll be when no one's around.
JANE: Than how will we know who won the bet?
DARIA: Simple. (Pauses:) Whoever survives will be the last one standing.
DARREN: (Getting in on this while whispering himself, grins, shakes head slowly:) Deranged. That's all I can say about you two. Deranged.
JANE: (Smirks:) And this is a surprise, how--? You were the one who provided us with our own padded rooms, remember?
DARREN: (As they enter the mansion through a side entrance and hallway:) That's right, blame it on me, why don't you?
DARIA: We just did. (Darren chuckles) Um, what did you do with the tape you got from Quinn?
DARREN: It's in my pocket, sis. Don't worry, like I told you on the cell phone when I called from Cashman's, I'll take care of it later. I promise you, Helen and Jake will never see this tape. (Hesitates:) Er, you know, you two didn't have to play that game of chicken back there with Quinn when we got off of the helicopter. She said she'd apologize to you two for what happened with the tape later--
JANE: (Scowls:) --Only after we'd apologize for borrowing her stupid little swimsuit. (Snorts:) Sheesh, she's got a whole freaking wardrobe to go through. I didn't think she'd miss that one outfit--
DARIA: (Deadpan, sarcastic:) --Even after she saw it on me at the pool, too. Wow. (Pauses:) It would be kinda hard to miss it on my body. (Jane mock-glares at her, and Darren smirks)
Helen and Quinn stopped at the doors to the media room as the others came up behind them. Suddenly, a grinning Jake appeared from inside, startling them. He was dressed in his housecoat and pajamas, and holding an icepack on his head.
JAKE: Hiya, Quinn, Darren! (Winces, holds icepack tighter to his head:) OWWW! Damn hangover! Hey, how was the trip to that Cicada place?
QUINN: (Rolls her eyes as Darren laughs:) Da--aad! It's Circa, and we had a great time! I'll tell you and mom about it later, okay? (Exasperated sigh:) Could we please hurry up and get this talk over with? I wanna get with the Fashion Club so we can talk about our new stuff we bought! (Brushes past Jake, goes into media room, and Helen follows, then Jake)
DARIA: (Sighs:) Nice to see my sister has her priorities set straight--
JANE: (Sneers:) --Yeah, the "old" Quinn would've brushed you guys off, heading to her friends instead. (Pauses:) Now, it's listening to you guys as fast as possible, then brushing you off to get to her friends. Anyhoo, that's my cue to skidoo. (Pecks Darren on the mouth, smirks:) Stop by my room, and I'll tell you about my day, "Darry". (Leaves, but stops, adds:) Oh, and don't even think about going in your meditation room anytime soon. (Darren cocks an eyebrow) I've got most of my art supplies in there, and I'm just beginning to paint what I want in there. I want it to be a surprise. Later. (Leaves)
DARREN: Okay, Jane. (Turns to Daria as they go into the media room:) Do you--
DARIA: --Nope. She hasn't let anyone in that room all day, including me. (Relieved look:) At least I don't have to worry about Jane turning her attention to her other-you-know-what--(Darren begins to shut the door behind her)
JANE: (Looks from around a corner down the hall, shouts as he shuts the door, which makes him stop:) --Oh, and I haven't forgotten about that "other" painting, if that's what you're thinking about, amiga! I'll be working on that tomorrow, too! (Grins wickedly, then leaves)
DARIA: (Stares after Jane as Darren grins at his sister:) Damn. (Darren laughs, shuts door)
(Scene is in Sandi's bedroom, a little later)
Surrounded by opened packages of Cashman's fashions, on Sandi's bed and on the floor, Tiffany and Stacy sat on her bed looking awed at Quinn, who stood in the middle of the room with a dreamy look on her face, grinning and speaking, excited. Sandi, however, had an unreadable expression as she listened to Quinn while sitting in her dresser chair with her arms crossed.
QUINN: --And it's great! Not only is my bro gonna be paying for my college education, but Darren's gonna be givin' me some money, too, like, once a month, and everything, (pauses:) with my mom an' dad's permission. (Frowns:) They all called it a "stipend". Anyway, I'll be getting $600 a month, and it'll go up to $700 a month next year, like Daria's. (Rolls eyes:) My mom is makin' me put at least a $100 from each monthly payment into a savings account, though, so actually, I'm getting $500 a month. Still, that's a whole lot more than what I had in an allowance before, and on top of the fashion intern job I'll have at Circa, it'll be even more money! (Pauses, realizes, gasps:) Why, I'd even be able to save up for a new car, if I wanted to! (Laughs giddily)
(Note to reader: According to the 'Daria Database', Quinn was given $40 total from Helen and Jake, while Daria was given $50 total from her parents. Since they were "Weekly Discretionary Incomes", that makes a grand total of $160 monthly for Quinn, and $200 monthly for Daria.)
STACY: (Estatic, of course:) WOW! You can buy almost a whole new wardrobe of fashions, Quinn, and never have to worry about getting money from your parents again! You've got it made!
TIFFANY: (Actually looks excited as well:) Yeah...all because of your brother's...money. (Quinn gets a slightly uncomfortable look on her face at Tiffany's remark, which Sandi picks up on)
SANDI: (Smirks:) Congratulations, Quinn, like Stacy said, you've got it made financially with Darren in your life, now. (Pauses as Quinn looks at her uneasily:) We've had quite a day, haven't we, with the tape of you and Stacy of getting your sister and Jane, both of us getting the intern jobs, the press conference that once and for all settled the "boyfriend" thing, our eating at that incredibly expensive and fancy Cherie's place, shopping at Cashman's, (dramatic pause:) oh, and of Darren buying you that power suit there! (Quinn turns pale, while Tiffany and Stacy exchange looks)
STACY: Huh? I thought you said you brought that power suit, Quinn.
QUINN: (Uneasy chuckle:) Um, well, maybe I kinda exaggerated at that a little bit, guys. (Pauses:) Okay, so Darren did buy me that power suit. (Cocks an eyebrow at Sandi:) How, uh, how did you know that, Sandi? (Pauses:) Did Darren tell you?
SANDI: No, he didn't. I, like, overheard you two talking at Cashman's, and he asked if the power suit you now have was the one you wanted, and you said yes. He said he'd buy it. (Pauses:) The question is, why would you lie to us about buying the dress, Quinn? What could possibly be your motive for doing so?
Quinn swallowed hard, looked between the three, and in "typical" Quinn fashion (no pun intended on the "fashion" part), relented.
QUINN: Okay, all right, I'll tell! (Looks at Stacy, sighs:) Darren asked me for that tape we took of Daria and Jane's "makeovers" from this morning, and I told him I'd do it, but for a price, which would be him buying my power suit. I gave him the tape while you guys were in the restroom at Cherie's.
SANDI: (Narrows eyes:) I see. (Pauses:) And this was after you told us just before we arrived here that you weren't interested in getting anything from Darren, am I correct?
QUINN: (Mildly frantic:) But this is different, Sandi! I mean, what Daria and Jane did to my face was terrible, and you did say it was for "fashion vengeance", and stuff, agreeing with me! You even said that me and Stacy did a great job!
SANDI: (Stands up, points:) All of that is true, but this was before I knew you had acquired that power suit by fashionably unethical means. (Tiffany and Stacy give Sandi a strange look)
QUINN: (Pauses:) W-What do you mean by that, Sandi? We have guys buy stuff for us all the time, including clothes. Comparing that to this, I don't see what the big deal is.
TIFFANY: (Gets up with Stacy:) It doesn't seem...to be that...much of a...big deal, either...Sandi.
STACY: Yeah, we've done that all of the time to our dates. (Sandi drops an eyebrow at Stacy, who cringes:) Eep!
SANDI: Yes, but this is different, you two. Darren has treated us all with nothing but kindness and respect since we have arrived. We have, in fact, lived like queens here, and he has helped us get into our future careers, where otherwise we wouldn't have had much of a chance. (The others form thoughtful looks) For Quinn to have taken advantage of her brother, on top of getting this "stipend", is, for lack of a better term, (long pause:) shameful.
QUINN: (Stunned, wide-eyed:) B-But--
TIFFANY: --I guess it's...not right...now when I...think about it...Quinn.
STACY: --And your brother is a really nice guy, and even though seeing Daria and Jane looking normal on that tape was fun--(adds timidly, looks at Quinn uneasily:) maybe you've kinda gone a little too far, Quinn--?
SANDI: (Cool look, crosses her arms:) Quh--inn, do you think keeping that power suit is right, even though you now have more than enough money to have brought it yourself? Do you think that's fair to Darren?
QUINN: (After a moment, looks down:) I--I guess not, Sandi, when you put it that way. (Pauses, looks up:) What do you guys think I should do? (Sighs, goes over to Sandi's bed, gets her power suit:) Give it back? The dress is sooo pretty... (the other F.C. members look at each other)
(Scene changes to Jane's room, the same time)
Daria was sitting beside Darren on Jane's bed, while Jane sat in her turned-around computer chair. Daria was speaking.
DARIA: --And I decided to leave the mansion and go outside on the grounds while I took a book with me after Jane barricaded herself in your meditation room, bro. I found an isolated spot near the Northwest corner of the estate.
JANE: (Smirks:) As opposed to the so-called commotion in the mansion's study? Don't tell me you suddenly wanted to commune with nature, Daria? (Darren grins)
DARIA: Funny. Actually, Claude asked if he could give the study a thorough dusting, and it would take awhile. He said if I wanted to stay, it was all right, but since I didn't want to start sneezing my valuable brains out, I said no, and left. I thought about going to my room to read, but seeing as I haven't been outside much since we got here, I opted for the serenity of the woods, i.e. Walden. The only thing I heard all day was bird calls and squirrel sounds. (Pauses:) Um, it was really peaceful there. I might go there again before we leave.
DARREN: The estate's Northwest corner is the most isolated part of the grounds. No surprise you didn't see anyone else. (Pauses, cocks an eyebrow:) Eh, sis, that part of the grounds is also the furthest area away from the mansion. How did you get there?
DARIA: (Shrugs:) Eh, I walked there mostly, though a security guy met me on the path, and drove me the rest of the way in a golf cart. I managed to catch another ride in one on my way back.
DARREN: Well, why not ride a horse there and back the next time? (Daria cocks an eyebrow) You know we have stables here, right?
DARIA: (Ponders, then small smile:) Hm. I haven't ridden a horse in a while, but like a bike, it'll come back to me. Maybe I'll do that on Thursday, or when we come back.
JANE: Hey, I know how to ride a horsy, too, (pauses:) or at least I did at the carnival rides when I was small. Maybe I'll take a quick ride between art breaks, or something, as well as escaping from being around Quinn and her fashion stormtroopers. I'll have time to myself while you two are gone to Eastward and Appleton tomorrow.
DARREN: Speaking of which, what time will you be ready, sis?
DARIA: Eh, taking into account the jog you and Jane will do, and breakfast, maybe 9:00?
DARREN: 9:00 a.m. it is, then. I'll call Constance tomorrow on our way there, the same for Pierpoint. (Looks at watch, gets up, kisses Jane:) It's getting late. I'm going to whip up a snack. You two want anything?
JANE: (Pats stomach:) Not me. I'm still full from eating that kick-ass spaghetti-and-meatballs meal Henri made tonight.
DARIA: Ditto. (Pauses:) Oh yeah, I meant to tell you that Henri left some in the fridge, in case you or the fashion clubbers wanted any.
DARREN: (Goes over to the door:) Thanks, sis, I'll eat that, go to my office to check for any e-mails, then go to bed. Goodnight, Jane, Daria. Jane, do you still want to get up at 5:30 for our jog, or later?
JANE: (Looks up, ponders:) Aaaah, better make it 6:00. I wanna sleep in a little later. G'night.
DARIA: Goodnight, bro. (Darren leaves, then Daria slumps and sighs)
JANE: (Cocks an eyebrow:) Hey, you okay, Daria?
DARIA: Yeah--I guess.
JANE: (Clearly not convinced, sarcastic tone:) Wow, you certainly gave yourself a confident answer there. (Daria gives Jane a mild eyeroll) What's up?
DARIA: (After a moment:) My personal payroll, I suppose, the same for the entire financial security of my future college education, both of when I consider it, shouldn't have come as much of a surprise.
JANE: And this bad, how--?
DARIA: (Pauses:) It's not bad, just that it's my brother who's giving me his money now. (Looks down:) I feel like I'm taking Darren's moolah just because I'm his sister, and he's not getting anything in return.
JANE: (Looks at Daria as if she's lost her mind, raises up out of her seat:) Daria, that's just plain nuts! You, and Quinn, and for that matter, Helen and Jake, are giving him something in return: You guys are giving him another family, his birth family. There's nothing wrong with him wanting to give you some of his wealth, is there?
DARIA: (Looks away, unsure:) Well, I don't want him to think that I--(long pause, in a very low voice, so low, Jane leans over to listen to her with narrowed eyes) love him for his money. (Jane rolls her eyes, which causes Daria to slightly scowl:) Look, Jane, most of my life, I'd come to expect things to go bad somewhere down the road, such is my cynical nature. Now, things seem to be going far better than I ever hoped they would be--(pauses, gets red-faced:) with, um, Darren, then Tom coming into my life--(pauses, adds:) along with you. (Jane gives her a small smile) It seems as if my life is becoming perfect--almost too perfect.
JANE: (Smirks:) Why, Daria, is that optimism creeping in?
DARIA: (Deadpan:) If it is, then I'd better get my damn baseball bat and beat it back. (Jane snickers)
JANE: Seriously, Daria, if this really bothering you, maybe you should speak to your brother while you guys are out tomorrow, you know, to clear the air?
DARIA: (Thoughtful look:) I think I will do that, Jane, thanks. (Gets up:) I'll see you tomorrow morning. Goodnight.
JANE: G'night, Daria. (Thought v.o., shakes head slowly: Geez, is that girl scared of optimism, or what?)
(Scene shifts to Darren's office, a bit later)
Darren came into his office, and sat down at his desk with a tray of Henri's scumptious spaghetti dinner, just microwaved, with a soda and garlic bread. He turned on his computer's monitor, and got online. Almost immediately, a "You've got mail" came over the screen. Darren clicked on the e-mail, and smiled.
DARREN: (To self:) Ah, Woo, you've gotten the info on Ms. Li. (Punches buttons:) Let's see what--
Suddenly, there was a knock on the door, which distracted Darren for an instant.
DARREN: Come in. (Jim, dressed in his robe and pajamas, suddenly enters) Hey, Uncle Jim, couldn't sleep?
JIM: (Comes over, sighs, slumps in chair across from Darren's desk:) Well, yes, I guess you can say that, though I could ask you the same thing, Darren.
DARREN: (Looks back at his computer:) I was just getting a late-night snack, checking my e-mails, and then go off to bed. I have a busy day tomorrow with my sister, Daria.
JIM: Oh yeah, Helen told me you two are going to go to Eastward so she can meet that Pierpoint fellow, then to Appleton to meet Constance.
DARREN: (Turns on his fax machine, which begins to print out Woo's info:) Yes. (Pauses, turns back to Jim, cocks an eyebrow:) Uh, so how's everything, Uncle?
JIM: (Shrugs:) Oh, everything's okay with me, Darren. I'm having a good time here with your birth family, particularly Jake. He's a fun fellow to be around. We had a great time on the course today, and plan to go out tomorrow, too.
DARREN: (Chuckles:) Yeah, you can't ever have a dull moment with Jake. (Pauses:) How about Edward?
JIM: (After a brief moment, it's obvious that he's faking his enthusiasm because he's talking through clenched teeth, and tightly clutching the armrests of the chair he's sitting in:) Yeah, Edward's a terrific guy, too. (Pauses:) Mill's a lucky gal, isn't she?
DARREN: (Sits back, sighs:) Uncle Jim, I hate to say this, but--
JIM: (Holds up his hand:) --Go no further, nephew, I know she likes Edward, and there's nothing I can do about it. She made that abundantly clear to me the other day when she was with Edward. (Looks down:) I'll admit it's killing me, but I'll have to accept it. (Looks back up at Darren:) Mill being happy is the only thing I want, you have to believe that.
DARREN: (Small smile, gentle tone:) I know, Uncle Jim. I'm glad you're trying to handle this in the right way. (Looks at the fax machine, which has stopped:) Ah, Woo's info has finished. (Jim cocks an eyebrow, sits up)
JIM: Woo? You mean, Gerald Woo, that detective who found your birth parents, and helped stop my former brother-in-law? The one who has a reputation for getting results in a hurry?
DARREN: (Reading over the info:) Yes, that's the one. He's on permanent retainer, now. I asked him to get some information on my sister's and girlfriend's high school principal, Angela Li.
JIM: Why in the world would you want to do that, Darren?
DARREN: (While still reading:) Ms. Li's asking me for some money for her high school through Daria. I was told by Jane and Daria that Li has, how shall I put it, unorthodox methods of using school funds for Lawndale High. I agreed to talk to Li about funding, but I want to know how she deals so I'll be prepared. (Pauses, gasps, becomes wide-eyed as Jim gets up, comes around, and looks over his shoulder:) A plan for mines to be activated on Lawndale High's grounds during school hours to keep students from wondering off campus? You've got to be kidding! (Pauses:) Another plan to use lasers on class-cutting students via motion activation sensors in the hallways? (Flips through some more pages:) And the list goes on and on--
JIM: (Now wide-eyed himself:) An orbiting satellite surveillance system? (Pauses:) What in the hell kind of school is that Li woman running, anyway?
DARREN: (Narrows eyes:) I don't know, Uncle Jim, but based on what I'm reading here, Ms. Li is going to have a lot of explaining to do when I meet her. There's no damn way she's going to get any money from me if she puts any of these plans into motion.
JIM: Good thinking, nephew. That woman is a damn tyrant, it seems! (Pauses, gets a wry look:) Say, uh, I didn't want to alarm you or Mill by telling you this until now, but I've been having some problems with money disappearing from my business lately. (Darren looks surprised) I think it may be an inside job, I can't be too sure. Because of the thefts, our overall elevator profit margin's been down.
DARREN: Uncle Jim, I--I'm sorry, I don't know what to say. (Pulls out checkbook from drawer:) How much do you need to help your business?
JIM: (Taken aback:) Eh? Oh, no, that's okay, Darren. It's really kind of you to do that, but I'm hinting at asking you if you could "loan" me that Woo guy to get to the bottom of this. I'll pay him myself.
DARREN: Well, I can't speak for Woo, but I'll give you his number. If there's anyone who can find out the goings on in your business, it's him, if he's available. (Takes out Woo's business card from a stack of them in desk drawer, gives one to Jim:) Here you go, Uncle.
JIM: (Looks at card, smirks:) Ahhh, thank you very much, Darren. I think I'll be able to sleep much better tonight. I'll get to bed now, goodnight.(Starts to leave)
DARREN: (While eating his food:) Goodnight, Uncle Jim.
JIM: (Stops at door, turns around:) Oh, and Darren--?
DARREN: (Stops eating his food:) Yes, Uncle Jim?
JIM: (Pauses:) Could you, ah, not say anything to your aunt Millie about this? I don't want to worry her until I'm sure I know what's what. (Shrugs:) You know--
DARREN: (After a moment:) Sure, Uncle Jim. I won't say anything.
JIM: (Grins:) Thank you, Darren. (Opens door, sees Quinn in her robe and pink bunny jammies, who's about to knock:) Oh, sorry, Quinn!
QUINN: (Perky:) That's okay, Uncle Jim! (Jim goes by, and Quinn comes in:) Um, hi, bro.
DARREN: (Stops eating, wipes mouth:) Hi, sis. What's up?
QUINN: (Comes over, sits down in front of Darren's desk:) I was trying to find you, so I checked by Jane's room when Elenor told me you were in there before Elenor left for the night. When I knocked, and Jane opened the door, you weren't in there, so I, um, took the moment to apologize to Jane for the taping, and she quickly accepted it, th' same for her apologizing to me for my face and swimsuit, (brief frown:) though it took her a long time to getting around to actually doing it. (Darren smirks as Quinn scowls deeply) Jane then lied to me, telling me you were now in Daria's room. I went across to there, and when I knocked, Daria opened it, and I saw you weren't in there, either. I took the opportunity to apologize to her about the taping, and after she gives me a stupid lecture about takin' advantage of you when I gave up the tape to you for my power suit, she quickly gave her apology for my face and swimsuit, then slammed the door in my face after tellin' me you had gone to get something to eat, and going to your office. After I checked the kitchen, I came here.
DARREN: Sooo, what's going on, sis?
QUINN: (Red-faced, then reaches into her robe, pulls out some money, puts it on Darren's desk:) Um, here.
DARREN: (Looks at money:) Uh, what's this, Quinn?
QUINN: (Rolls eyes:) What does it look like, bro?
DARREN: (Smirks:) Money?
QUINN: (Smacks her mouth:) Well, of course it's money! (Pauses, quiet tone:) It's for the power suit. (Darren's mouth drops) I wanna--wanna pay you for it. I mean, well, since you're payin' me that "stipend" thing, I figured I could buy my own stuff now.
DARREN: (Tries to formulate the words through his shock:) Quinn--I--I don't know what to say. I mean, you don't have to do this. The dress is your's--
QUINN: (Uneasy chuckle:) Y-Yeah, but I'd kinda feel better about it if you took the money, okay? It's some of my own money mom an' dad made me save. It's the $300 the power suit costs.
DARREN: (Shakes head slowly:) Quinn, I couldn't possibly--
QUINN: (Red-faced:) WOULD YOU JUST TAKE TH' FREAKIN' MONEY, BRO?! (Darren jumps back, and Quinn quickly changes her tune, in a very quiet voice:) Please?
After a moment, Darren slowly put his hand on the money, and pulled it to him, pocketing it. Quinn gave a relieved smile, then rose out of her chair, and went over to the door, opening it.
QUINN: (In a whisper:) Thanks, bro. G'night. (Leaves, closes door)
Darren stared after her for a moment, dumbfounded, then he slowly gave a smile of gratitude for his youngest sister's remarkable act. He then rose up slowly from his desk, taking the tray of food with him to his room. Darren spotted the tape that had the "madeover" Daria and Jane on his dresser. He put the tray beside the tape, and picked up the tape, turning on the light, and going into his huge walk-in closet, his vast array of clothing hanging on every wall, with plenty of shelving for more.
Darren pushed a button in the closet, and a wall with some bare shelves suddenly opened, revealing a computerized home safe. This was one of two of this type in the mansion, with the other being in his birth parent's walk-in closet. After pushing some buttons, the safe opened up.
Inside was some bonds, money, the tape labeled "Truth" that revealed Darren was actually adopted by his parents--and the picture of Darren holding Daria in his arms. Darren put the "madeover" tape into the safe, closed it, punched some buttons to shut the walls back, then turned off the light, and went out.Go to Chapter 7