COMMITTED
a Daria fanfic

by
Mike Yamiolkoski




PART THREE




INT: HELEN'S OFFICE

Helen's desk is piled with paperwork to the point that Helen herself can no longer be seen. Marianne is furiously typing at her workstation, looking more harried than usual, with dark circles under her eyes and her hair in disarray. A number of other assistants are busy working around folding tables that have been set up in the office as well.

HELEN: The thirty-first? As in, this month? (pause) Rita, don't you think that may be pushing it a little? We haven't even sent out the invitations yet. (pause) All right, fine, I don't have time to discuss it right now. (garbled complaining is heard through the phone) Rita, of course I appreciate all you're doing. I can safely say that it just wouldn't be happening without you. (pause) Look, Rita, I have to go. (pause) No, I really have to go now, Rita. (pause) We'll talk about it later!

Helen slams the phone down, causing a good portion of the paperwork on her desk to avalanche to the floor.

HELEN: Oh, for God's sake... Marianne, I'll need you to start screening my calls. If my sister calls again, tell her the building's on fire or something. If that doesn't work, you have my permission to hang up and then answer subsequent calls using plan P.

MARIANNE: (wide eyes) Really?

HELEN: Desperate times call for desperate measures. Now could someone get their butt over here and help me with this mess?

One of the paralegals hurries over to Helen's desk and begins cleaning up the paperwork. Eric Schrecter walks in at the same moment.

ERIC: Helen! Wow, look at this place! You people are really pouring the coal to it today, that's what I like to see!

HELEN: (faking happiness, not very well) Eric, hi! Listen, I think we're going to need to expand into the conference room if it's available. I don't think we can get another table in here, and I haven't seen the top of my desk all week.

ERIC: That's my go-getter! Oh, I wanted to remind you of our dinner meeting with Mr. Royce tonight. He's very anxious to meet you, after all the praises I've been singing about you.

HELEN: Oh, Eric, I'm just doing my job! (she leans over to pick up some of the paperwork)

ERIC: (momentarily distracted by Helen's cleavage) Er... of course you do. I mean, you do it very well - I mean...

HELEN: (standing up) Eric, is there something wrong?

The phone rings. Marianne picks it up.

MARIANNE: Hello, Helen Morgendorffer's office!

ERIC: Nothing! Nothing at all! I'll see you tonight, then. Don't forget, formal attire!

HELEN: (suddenly further distressed) Er... of course! I'll be ready at six!

MARIANNE: (on phone) I'm sorry, Ms. Barksdale, but Helen simply can't come to the phone right now. There's been, um, a bomb threat.

ERIC: Terrific! I'm looking forward to it.

Eric smiles in a would-be charming way that Helen completely misses, and walks out.

MARIANNE: I have to hang up now, Ms. Barksdale, but I'll be sure to tell Helen you called! (hangs up)

HELEN: Marianne, I completely forgot about the dinner meeting tonight. Do you think you could take a moment to go to my house and pick up something for me to wear? Ask Quinn to help you, she's good at that sort of thing.

MARIANNE: (sighs) Of course, Helen.

The phone rings again.

HELEN: Plan P, Marianne.

MARIANNE: (picks up phone) Hello, Pizza Prince! Can I interest you in our two-for-one special?




EXT: PARKING LOT, HELEN'S OFFICE

Marianne trots quickly through the parking lot toward her car.

MARIANNE: (mocking Helen's voice) Would you mind going to my house to pick up a dress, Marianne? Goodness, it's almost three o'clock - Marianne, be a dear and go pick up some Chinese food! Oh, and you won't mind staying late tonight to make up for lost time, will you? (grumbling) Why the hell didn't I go to nursing school like Mom said?

As Marianne reaches her car (a classic Beetle, distressed) a blue Lexus pulls up next to her.

JAKE: Marion? Is that you?

MARIANNE: (sighs) Yes.

JAKE: I'm glad I caught you! I just picked this up from the dry cleaners, could you make sure Helen gets it?

Jake gets out of the car and hands Marianne a black cocktail dress wrapped in plastic, as well as some matching shoes and a small box of accessories.

MARIANNE: Um... sure.

JAKE: Thanks! Gotta go!

Jake gets back in the car and speeds off.

MARIANNE: That was easy. (pause) Of course, Helen's not expecting me back for an hour...

Marianne smiles, and after placing the dress and other items into the back seat of her car, heads across the street to a hair salon.




INT: MORGENDORFFER HOME

Rita has transformed the living room into Wedding Central, surrounding herself with stacks of brochures and flyers, fabric swatches, and a large sample wedding cake. She has several notebooks in front of her and is scribbling in one of them.

RITA: All right then, that should just about do it for the guest list. Hmm, I'll have to recheck the seating chart for the ceremony, we won't want it to look too lopsided.

Quinn happens by.

QUINN: Aunt Rita, are you done with the phone for a while? I need to get my dates organized for the weekend.

RITA: (wistful sigh) I miss those days.

QUINN: By the way, how's the wedding coming? Perhaps I could give you a little input on bridesmaid's dresses.

RITA: Not to worry, Quinn, it's all covered. We're going with a kind of seventies-nostalgia theme. (Rita holds up a picture for Quinn to look at) What do you think?

Quinn suddenly starts coughing violently.

RITA: They'll look great with the powder blue tuxedos.

Quinn is practically hyperventilating as she stumbles into the kitchen.

RITA: While you're in there, could you bring out some pretzels or something? (to herself) What's keeping that damn pizza, anyway?

Jake bursts in.

JAKE: No time to talk, gotta get ready for dinner!

RITA: Whatever.

JAKE: Thank God I was able to move our reservations back! It's just as well, I suppose, this way the cleaners had time to do Helen's black dress.

RITA: A dress! Of course, I need to find a dress to wear. (starts looking through more catalogs) Sometimes I get so busy thinking of everyone else, I forget to think of me too... Hey, here's a nice one! And white always looks so good on me!




INT: MORGENDORFFER KITCHEN

Quinn is sitting dejectedly at the table, leaning her head on one hand.

QUINN: The sequins... dear God, the sequins...

Jake comes charging in

JAKE: Say, Quinn, have you seen your sister? I can't get this bow tie to go on straight.

QUINN: She's at that internship of hers. Daddy, would you be really upset if I wore a different dress than then other bridesmaids?

JAKE: Huh? Oh, sure, honey! (he struggles with his bow tie for a moment) Dammit!

QUINN: Here, let me. (she stands up and starts tying the tie)

JAKE: Thanks! Say Quinn, you go out to dinner a lot. Have you ever been to a place called "Chez Pierre"?

QUINN: Oh... I've been there once or twice.

JAKE: What's good on the menu?

QUINN: I always just order the most expensive thing. You can tell quite a lot about a guy based on his subtle reactions to what you order, but they get a little less subtle when you get something over thirty dollars.

JAKE: (a little taken aback) Oh...

QUINN: So naturally, you'll be at your best if you just pretend that nothing on the menu has a price next to it, and don't even look at the bill when it arrives, just hand over the plastic. Use the Platinum card. Oh, that reminds me… (Quinn pauses for a moment to extract the Platinum card from her pocket and gives it to Jake) Now where was I? Oh yeah - if you can, get the table on the west side by the fountain. It helps to drown out the noise of other diners and who wants to listen to what they have to say? Of course, I always take the chair facing the restaurant so I can compare my date to any other guys who might be there. Naturally, you'll want to be really suave and debonair to keep Mom's eye on you, so just do more listening than talking and you should be all right.

JAKE: Should I be writing this down, or -

QUINN: Don't order anything with fish in it because it'll hang on your breath for the rest of the night, and if you order wine instead of a martini or something it'll help you maintain the right attitude. A Burgundy would probably be appropriate.

JAKE: Anything in particular?

QUINN: Well, '78 was a particularly good year, the '76 is really good too if you pick the right vineyard, but for the sake of romance you'll want to go with a '75 because that's the year you were married. Sort of. (she finishes the tie) There! How's that?

Jake checks his reflection in the toaster.

JAKE: Hey, that's great! How do you know how to do that?

QUINN: It's a gift. I have an instinct for all kinds of clothes. Now, you'll remember everything I said, right? Show Mom a really good time, make her happy, make her forget about all the stuff going on around here?

JAKE: Sure thing, honey! I'll wine her, and dine her, and when we come home we'll just charge straight up the bedroom and -

QUINN: (disgusted) DA-AAD!!

JAKE: Er, watch a really good movie together. (pause) By the way, how do you know so much about wine?

QUINN: Is that the time? I'm late for my date. Have fun, Daddy!

Quinn flounces out, leaving Jake looking a little confused. After a bit, he shrugs, and sits down at the table to wait.




INT: CHEZ PIERRE

Helen arrives at the restaurant with Eric Schrecter. She's dressed in the black dress.

ERIC: You know, Helen, I think it's splendid of you to go through all this trouble to impress our client. (tugging at his collar) If I may say so, that dress looks stunning on you.

HELEN: Hm? Oh, thank you, Eric. I wish I could shake this nagging feeling that I've forgotten something.

ERIC: What's to forget? This is just an informal dinner meeting, we don't need any notes or briefs to go over. (he goes up to the Maitre'D) Good evening, I'm Eric Schrecter. We have a reservation for seven o'clock.

MAITRE'D: Very good, Monsieur. (he checks the list, notices a reservation at 6:30 for "Morgendorffer" and scratches it off the list.) We have just had a cancellation, and so your table will be ready in a few minutes.

HELEN: Dammit, I know I've forgotten something!

ERIC: Helen, Helen, there's no need to be so jumpy! Here, let me get you a glass of wine to help settle your nerves. (he motions her to a small table by the bar and pulls out her chair for her) I know it's not really my business, Helen, but does this have anything to do with what your sister was talking about the other day?

HELEN: (looks away uncomfortably) I'll be fine. It's just hard when the foundation of your marriage turns out not to be what you expected. I'd really rather not talk about it.

ERIC: (pats her hand reassuringly) Of course, Helen. You know, I'd like to think I can be a friend as well as a boss. Just let me know if you do want to talk to someone about it.

WAITER: Good evening, Monsieur, Madame. May I interest you in a glass of wine this evening?

ERIC: Two glasses of your finest Bordeaux, please.

WAITER: Of course, Monsieur.

HELEN: I appreciate the support, Eric, I really do. But for now I'd just like to concentrate on this meeting and put everything else out of my mind.

Eric smiles, a bit wolfishly.




INT: MORGENDORFFER LIVING ROOM

The living room is dark - it's obviously several hours later. Daria comes in through the front door and heads quietly into the kitchen.




INT: KITCHEN

Daria turns on the light as she enters the kitchen.

DARIA: Eep!

JAKE: Oh, hi Daria. Could you keep the noise down a little? I'm just waiting for your mother to come home so we can go out.

Daria looks at her father, still dressed in his tuxedo but with the tie loosened. A bouquet of flowers is quietly wilting on the kitchen table. He's on the phone, from which hold music can be heard quietly playing.

DARIA: Um, Dad, I think regular business hours are over.

JAKE: Oh, I know that, kiddo. But your Mom works some unusual hours.

DARIA: It's ten o'clock at night. I don't think she's at the office anymore.

JAKE: Is it that late already? Well... maybe she's working on that big case.

DARIA: Did it occur to you to try her cell phone?

JAKE: Somehow it ended up in your Aunt Rita's purse.

DARIA: (sitting down across from Jake) Dad. I think you should maybe go get some sleep.

JAKE: But... she might pick up at any moment!

DARIA: (sighs with exasperation) Suit yourself. I'm going to bed.

Daria leaves the kitchen, turning off the lights as she does. Jake continues to sit pathetically by himself in the dark, waiting on terminal hold.




INT: LIMOUSINE

Helen and Eric are sitting in a limousine opposite Mr. Royce and, presumably, his assistant.

ROYCE: Well Schrecter, it sounds like we have all our ducks in a row. It's good to see that everything I've heard about your firm is true. And Helen, I have to say that even though we got off to a rocky start, I'm absolutely convinced that you're the person I want working on this case!

HELEN: I'm just pleased for the opportunity to work with your company, Mr. Royce.

ERIC: (perhaps just a wee bit tipsy) We always get Helen involved with our biggest cases, Mr. Royce! She's the fiercest tiger you'll ever see in a courtroom. Of course, we'll be seeking to settle, but rest assured that if this does go before a judge, you'll walk away much the better for it!

ROYCE: Settle? After what I've heard tonight? Not a chance! I want you to make them an offer they'd be nuts to accept, and we'll take 'em on in court and bury the bastards! I didn't build a multi-billion dollar pharmaceutical firm from scratch by settling!

ERIC: Of course! We'll make 'em squirm, don't you even bother to worry about it.

ROYCE: Excellent! I'll tell the board of directors that the biggest thing they have to worry about is where to hold the company's forty-second anniversary celebration.

HELEN: Eep! (she jumps out of her seat, forgetting that she's in a car, and bumps her head against the ceiling, falling awkwardly back down on her butt)

ERIC: Helen! Are you all right?

HELEN: I'm... I'm fine, of course! (she turns beet red) I just... had my cell phone on vibrate, and it startled me!

The car pulls to a stop.

ROYCE: Ah, we're here. My driver can take you back to your car, Schrecter. Lookin' forward to doing business with you. Helen, it's been a pleasure.

HELEN: Er... likewise, I'm sure!

Mr. Royce and his assistant get out of the car.

Eric pushes a button on the console.

ERIC: Driver, please take us back to the restaurant. (He releases the button) Helen, what's wrong? I know you left your cell phone at home today.

HELEN: It's... nothing, really. I just need to get home as soon as I can.

ERIC: This has something to do with Jack, doesn't it?

HELEN: Who? Oh you mean... oh God, how could I do this?

ERIC: Helen, Helen, it's not your fault. These things happen.

HELEN: I can't believe I could be so selfish. What the hell is wrong with me?

ERIC: Sometimes we need to think of ourselves. Don't worry, I have a feeling that everything will turn out for the best.

HELEN: Do you really think so?

ERIC: Of course. Just go with your heart, Helen.

HELEN: (sniffles) You do understand. I can't tell you how much this means to me, Eric.

ERIC: I'm just trying to be there for you. (he looks out the window, and smiles wolfishly once again)




INT: MORGENDORFFER KITCHEN

Jake has slumped over the table, fast asleep, the phone still playing hold music in his hand. The front door is heard opening, then Helen tiptoes in quietly. She comes into the kitchen, sees Jake, and immediately looks about as guilty as it is possible for a human being to look. Sighing softly, she takes him gently by the shoulder.

HELEN: Jakey?

JAKE: Mmblgrmbl...

HELEN: Jakey, please wake up.

JAKE: Mm? (his eyes open, just a sliver)

HELEN: Jake, I am so sorry. Can you forgive me?

JAKE: Huh? (bleary) Oh, sure.

HELEN: I just... I just forgot, sweetie.

JAKE: 'sokay. (yawns) I know it's not your fault, Mommy.

HELEN: (frowns, then seems to remember she's feeling guilty) Just come up to bed, dear.

JAKE: Uh-huh.

Jake pushes himself to his feet and slouches into the living room, where he stretches out on the couch and resumes snoring.

HELEN: And I thought that's where I would be sleeping tonight.

Helen heads sorrowfully up the stairs.




Two weeks later...

INT: MORGENDORFFER LIVING ROOM

Rita has taken over the coffee table and a nearby card table with wedding brochures, and Quinn is looking through them. Rita is also pacing back and forth in a very Helen-like way while talking on the phone. Helen herself has her legal briefs spread out on the floor. Jake is sitting in a chair licking a huge stack of envelopes.

RITA: (on phone) What? What do you mean the Governor's party needs our space? Listen, buster, I was promised that room, I put down a deposit on that room, the Governor can go to the damn Motel Six!

Daria enters through the front door. No one notices.

QUINN: Ugh! I can't believe some of these dresses! Pink taffeta with parasols?? Puh-lease!

JAKE: Two hundred seventy-two... (licks envelope) Two hundred seventy-three... (licks envelope) Two hundred seventy-four... (lick) Two hundred seventy-five... (lick)

RITA: No! N, O, NO! This is America, pal, and my money's just as good as the Governor's! We had that room first!

DARIA: Ah... Home Crap Home.

HELEN: Oh, Daria, I'm so glad you're here. I need some files from the office but I can't take the time to drive down there. Could you take my car and go get the red expandable folder from the second drawer in the black filing cabinet? And for once, let's avoid the inevitable bargaining and pretend you're willing to do this out of the goodness of your heart.

DARIA: That hurts, Mom, it really does. I hoped you would know me well enough by now to know that my heart is devoid of goodness.

HELEN: The keys are in my purse. Take some money if you must, but please hurry back.

RITA: (phone) I hope you realize that the bride is a lawyer and she can sue your butts into a hole so deep you'll need a telescope to see the sky again!

DARIA: I'll do it for free, provided I can keep the car for the evening. Something tells me I just don't want to hang around here tonight.

JAKE: Two hundred ninety-nine... (lick) Three hundred! (lick) Three hundred and one... (lick) Three hundred and two...

QUINN: Oh come on, Daria, it's not that bad.

DARIA: Wait.

The doorbell rings

JAKE: I'll get it!

Daria steps aside as Jake gets the door. It's...

JAKE: Mom!

RUTH: Jakey! (she gives Jake a big hug)

DARIA: Later. (she heads out)

HELEN: (surprised/distressed) Mom! I didn't know you were coming!

RUTH: I would have been here a week ago if I'd known! Why didn't you call me sooner, Jakey?

JAKE: Well, everything was happening so fast, and I just didn't have a moment to do it! (a little whiny) There's just so much to take care of and so little time!

RUTH: Now don't you worry, son! You'll give yourself another heart attack.

RITA: (phone) Whatever, work out the details, I have to call the videographer. (she hangs up, then sees Ruth at the door) Who the hell are you?

RUTH: Well, I never!

HELEN: Rita, this is my mother-in-law, Ruth. Mom, this is my sister Rita. She's helping to plan the wedding.

RITA: Doing the whole job myself is more like it.

RUTH: Well, that's about to change. We'll start with your guest list, and then I'll want to see the menu options.

RITA: Excuse me, Ruth, but I have some experience with planning a modern wedding.

RUTH: That's Mrs. Morgendorffer to you, young lady. Back in my day we had a thing called respect.

RITA: You also had a thing called Model-T Fords, I'll bet.

RUTH: That'll be quite enough of that, Missy! Now, the first thing to do is to find some different invitations. (she plucks one out of Jake's hand mid-lick) These look like circus tickets!

RITA: You think you can just waltz in here and take over -

QUINN: (jumping up and running for the door) Daria! Wait up! DARIA!!

Tires squeal outside as the SUV drives off. Quinn looks back at the battle brewing between Ruth and Rita, her face falling into an expression of deep despair.




EXT: MALL, BEHIND CASHMAN'S

It's about 9:00 at night. Daria and Jane sit together on the bench.

DARIA: You're sure you have to work late tonight?

JANE: Believe me, if it were up to me, I'd bag work and head out with you. Unfortunately, I've gotten myself into a position where the boss pretty much expects each window to be more elaborate than the last. More props, more details, more blood, more time.

DARIA: Blood?

JANE: Anyway, the upside is that I'm getting paid overtime. That makes up for it a bit.

DARIA: Oh, come on. Don't pretend you don't love the opportunity to go artistically nuts in a public forum.

JANE: All right, you got me. But that doesn't mean I don't miss spending time with my best friend, you know.

DARIA: I feel like I'd spend time with Upchuck right now rather than go home. It was hell when my Aunt Rita was doing things alone - with my grandmother thrown in, it's hell warmed up. And I get the feeling that there's a lot more coal yet to be thrown into the furnace.

JANE: Hmm, that gives me an idea for the summer casualwear display. Look, if it's as bad as all that, why don't you crash at my place? Even with the band staying over, there's still plenty of room. You can have the cot in the bomb shelter if you like.

DARIA: Tempting, but no. It would be like admitting they've won. Besides, I probably should have my Mom's car back in the driveway before she has to go to work in the morning.

JANE: Tomorrow's Sunday.

DARIA: Like I said.

Jane's watch beeps.

JANE: Sorry. Gotta punch in and get back to it.

Daria sighs, and heads into the parking lot. Jane looks worriedly after her for a moment, then heads inside.




INT: MORGENDORFFER LIVING ROOM

It's daytime - a couple of days later. Quinn is sitting in a chair by the window with her knees pulled up to her chest, obviously miserable. Ruth and Rita are arguing over a large piece of paper on the coffee table labeled "seating chart". Jake is still licking envelopes, though they're different ones than before. Helen is on her cell phone.

RITA: Look lady, if you wanted to bring in a hundred extra guests, then maybe you should have been here three weeks ago when we started planning! I had this chart all figured out until you came along!

RUTH: Of course you did! After all, you included every second cousin you have and all of your friends back to kindergarten, then set aside two dozen seats in the back for Jakey's family. I wouldn't even have been able to see him from way back there!

RITA: So get stronger glasses!

JAKE: (sounding rather sick by now) Four hundred seventeen... (licks envelope) Four hundred eighteen... (lick) Four hundred nineteen...

HELEN: (on cell phone) Absolutely not! If that information got out it might give the D.A. a foothold on territory we just can't let him have. I suggest we get someone who we have dirt on to go down to Pharmacon and start shredding documents.

RUTH: I notice your mother's seated at the head table!

RITA: She needs me to remind her to take her medication. Some people aren't lucky enough to have their health at your age.

HELEN: (phone) Just shred everything between March and May of last year to make sure! And then burn the shreddings, we don't want another fiasco like we had two years ago when those bastards at Hamilton, Medfield, and Hamilton got hold of the trash bags.

RUTH: Now see here, Missy! I'm getting a little tired of all the age jokes! There's a lot of comments I could make about someone your age who can't even keep a steady relationship with a man for more than two months!

RITA: Oh, and I suppose you had a model marriage? From what I understand, you picked a real winner for a husband!

HELEN: (phone) Six miles of scotch tape, that's what I heard.

JAKE: Four hundred twenty-nine... (lick) Four hundred twenty-ten... (lick) Four hundred twenty-eleven... (lick) Four hundred - Dammit! I lost count! (burp) And I think I'm going to be sick!

RUTH: My husband was a decent man and a fine, upstanding citizen!

JAKE: I really feel ill...

The doorbell rings.

RITA: Oh, that'll be the florist! Quinn, could you get the door?

Quinn doesn't respond.

HELEN: (phone) All right, so we're on the same page then! And don't forget to have the computers wiped as well! On second thought, just take a hammer to the hard drives, we don't want to take any chances.

RITA: Quinn?

QUINN: Hm?

RITA: Get the door, will you! The florist is here!

QUINN: Oh, sure. (She gets to her feet, slumps across the room, and opens the door.) Come in and join the party.

TIFFANY: Party? Where?

QUINN: (shocked) Tiffany? What are you doing here?

TIFFANY: I'm here about some flowers...

QUINN: You're the florist?

TIFFANY: No, my aunt is the florist... I'm just helping out... it's kind of a summer thing my parents are making me do. So... you're having a party?

QUINN: No, it's -

TIFFANY: How come you didn't invite any of your friends? (frowns a bit) That's not very thoughtful of you, Quinn...

QUINN: You don't understand, Tiffany. See, we're in the middle of planning a wedding.

TIFFANY: Oh...

QUINN: Yeah.

TIFFANY: Don't you think we're still a little young to be getting married, Quinn?

QUINN: It's not my wedding!

TIFFANY: But, it says here that the flowers are for the (reading from a card) Baarks... Baaarkesdaale... Morg... Mor... gen... dor...

QUINN: Look Tiffany, I'll explain everything later but this isn't a good time right now okay bye!

Quinn grabs the sample bouquet and catalog and closes the door, leaving Tiffany on the step.

TIFFANY: Mor... gen... dor... fer... wedding. Morgendorffer? (pause) Wow... Quinn's getting married...




END PART THREE
(to be continued...)







DISCLAIMERS:

Daria and associated characters are the property of MTV which, in turn, is the property of Viacom. Characters are used without permission. The fact that MTV and Viacom are aware of Daria fan websites with fanfic content and choose not to take action against such sites is taken as implicit permission to use their characters in stories such as this one.

This story is Copyright 2002 by Mike Yamiolkoski and may be distributed freely only in its entirety and with the above notices intact.

Contact the author at Comments, reviews, and particularly ILLUSTRATIONS are always welcome!