Disclaimer: Daria and associated characters are owned by MTV. This is fan fiction written for entertainment only. No money or other negotiable currency or goods have been exchanged.
This story occurs during season two.
Spelling It Out
(Exterior shot of Lawndale High School. Cut to inside Mr. O'Neill's Sophomore English classroom. Daria and Jodie are standing in front of the class with Mr. O'Neill between them. Most of the class is bored and several students are asleep)
Mr. O'Neill: Okay, Jodie. Rhetorical.
Jodie: Rhetorical. R-H-E-T-O-R-I-C-A-L. Rhetorical.
Mr. O'Neill: Excellent. Daria. Annoyance.
Daria (bored): Annoyance. A-N-N-O-Y-A-N-C-E. Annoyance.
(Jane snickers and leans over toward Mack)
Jane (whispers): Talk about a gimme.
Mack (whispers): For both of them.
Mr. O'Neill: Excellent, Daria. Jodie. Belligerence.
Jodie: Belligerence. B-E-L-L-I-G-E-R-E-N-C-E. Belligerence.
Mr. O'Neill: Wonderful. Daria. Malfeasance.
Daria: Malfeasance. M-A-L-F-E-A-S-A-N-C-E. Malfeasance.
Mack (whispers): Ten?
Jane (whispers): Deal.
Mr. O'Neill: Um, good, Daria. Jodie. Senescence.
Jodie: Senescence. S-E-N-E-S-E-N-C-E. Senescence.
Mr. O'Neill: Oh dear, I'm sorry Jodie. You left out the 'c' in the middle of the word.
Jodie (frowns slightly): Shoot.
Mr. O'Neill: Now Daria, if you get this word, you're the winner. Existential.
(Mack looks at Jane, and then takes his wallet out of a pocket and removes a ten-dollar bill)
Daria: Existential. E-X-I-S-T-E-N-T-I-A-L. Existential.
(Mr. O'Neill claps his hands)
Mr. O'Neill: Congratulations, Daria. You're the class winner and will go on to the school spelling bee this Friday.
Daria: I'll try to contain my excitement.
Mr. O'Neill: And the winner there will get to go to the regional spelling bee, and maybe even on to state.
Daria: Be still, oh my beating heart.
(LHS corridor in front of Daria's locker. While she's exchanging books, Jane enters. Jane holds her hands out toward Daria and wiggles her fingers while humming the The Twilight Zone theme)
Jane: Ooooh, the lure of success. It starts as a simple spelling bee and you say that you can quit at any time. But soon, you're a cutthroat word warrior ready to slash any opponent who crosses verbs with you.
Daria: It wasn't a big deal. I better know how to spell if I want to be a writer.
Jane: Now you can display your amazing spelling ability for all to see.
Daria: I am not putting my spelling on display like Quinn prancing in a fashion show.
Jane: So you claim. But once you feel the heady rush of victory at the school spelling bee and go on to state…
Daria: I'll just forget to show up Friday. End of story and no trip.
(Jodie and Mack enter)
Daria: Um, thanks.
Jodie (looks sidelong at Mack): I bet you'll have no trouble winning the school bee and going on to regional.
Daria: If you want to lose your money, sure.
Jodie: Oh, Daria. You'll win easily.
Daria: I'm not going.
Jodie: Come on, Daria. The school's actually rewarding something involving the use of a brain.
Daria: I won't be some pawn for Ms. Li's further honor and glory.
Jodie: Please? If Mack's going to lose ten dollars, can you at least make it worth it?
(Jane sees Daria's confused look)
Jane: I bet Mack that you'd win.
Daria: You'll have to get your money's worth in some other way, Jodie.
(LHS cafeteria. Quinn, Sandi, Stacy and Tiffany are seated at a table eating lunch)
Sandi: Ugh. I can't believe that Mr. O'Neill making us stand up and spell words.
Tiffany: I know. There should be a law.
Stacy: I thought it was kinda fun.
(Sandi glares at Stacy)
Sandi: I must be hearing things, Stacy. I thought I heard you say that something as unfashionably geeky as a spelling bee was fun.
Stacy (rattled): Um, I, uh, no Sandi.
Sandi: Good. We wouldn't want you associating with something like that.
Sandi: I mean, I bet even that girl that lives with Quinn would win one of those things. Right?
(Quinn realizes just how likely that could happen if Daria tries. The rest of the Fashion Club looks at her, awaiting an answer)
Quinn: We have her in a twelve-step program.
(Mrs. Bennett's Economics class. The chalk board features crude drawings of bushel baskets, stacked bullion, an oil well, and she's finishing a pig)
Mrs. Bennett: And that's how the term "pork bellies" came into use.
Daria: Yeah, because "pork heads" sound too much like the people running the markets.
(Cut to the classroom intercom speaker)
Ms. Li (VO): Attention students! The last class of the day on Friday will be canceled.
(Cheers from several students in the class)
Ms. Li (VO): For the school spelling bee.
(Groans from the same students. Daria frowns)
Ms. Li (VO): To be held in the auditorium. Attendance of the spelling bee is not mandatory.
(Students cheer again. Daria has a faint smile)
Ms. Li (VO): However, for those not going to the spelling bee, attendance at a pep rally in the gymnasium is mandatory.
(Students cheer louder. Daria groans and drops her face onto the desk)
(Exterior shot of Lane house. Cut to Jane's room, where Daria is prostrate on the bed watching television while Jane is next to the easel, stretching canvas over a frame. On the television, a man in a lab coat is applying a splint to a tarantula)
SSW Announcer: What do you do with a limping spider? Call the bug veterinarian! Coming up, on Sick, Sad World!
Daria: I wonder how much it would cost a beekeeper to release a hive in the auditorium?
Jane: They all might dive-bomb Mrs. Bennett's floral perfume, but I don't think that'll stop things.
Daria: Yeah, you're right. You'd think that after all this time, bees would be tired of having their name associated with these things.
(Jane staples one canvas edge and then rests the staple gun on it, grinning as she thinks of something amusing)
Jane: I get it now; you don't want to be called the LHS Spelling Queen Bee.
Daria (groans): You really should be flogged for that.
Jane: Aww, I wanted to see you wear a little yellow and black striped suit and tiara.
Jane: Why don't you just take a dive? Botch spelling the first word and get it over with.
Daria: I, I can't.
Jane: Why not?
Daria: Would you believe it if I missed the first word?
Jane: Oh yeah, good point.
Daria: Besides, you know spelling is one of the things I get picky about.
Daria: Plus, uh., it's hard to explain.
Jane: You have a reputation to uphold.
Daria (embarrassed): Yes.
Jane: So, you need something that will get you out, and not look like you didn't know how to spell a word. Why don't you just swap a couple letters with each other? I do that enough when writing essays for Mr. O'Neill.
Daria: I thought your last essay was a wordless cartoon strip.
Jane: Even I can't get away with that all the time.
Daria: I still don't think that'll work.
(Jane raises a finger and waves it)
Jane: I got it, nerves.
Jane: Yeah. You know, stage fright. Act all nervous and jittery. Get worse as things go on. Then, you can make a "mistake" and nobody will be the wiser.
Daria: Hmm. That might work.
(Exterior shot of Morgendorffer home, cut to Daria's room. She's lying on the bed, reading, when there's a knock at the door)
Daria: Please have your passport and visa ready for inspection.
Quinn: Ha ha. Mom hasn't let me have any of the credit cards in the last couple weeks.
Daria: What do you want, Quinn?
Quinn: You know how when you do something, it can cause problems for other people?
Daria: What did you do? Just tell me; the sooner you get it out, the sooner we can deal with it.
Quinn: Actually…it's about tomorrow. If you win, you know…
Daria: Ah, the dreaded association with geekdom. Don't worry Quinn, I won't win.
Quinn: You won't?
Quinn (surprised): You're going to the pep rally instead?
Daria: I'd chew my leg off before going to a pep rally.
Quinn: Eww. Then, what?
Daria: The less you know, the better.
Quinn: Um, okay.
Daria: Anything else?
Daria: Then I suggest you leave before Mom starts to think that we're getting along.
Quinn: God, we wouldn't want that. Bye.
(LHS Auditorium. Daria and about a dozen other students are lined up on stage, while only a small number of students are scattered among the seats, with Jane seated on the front row with Jodie. Ms. Li and Mr. O'Neill stand at a podium)
Ms. Li: Welcome, students, to the Lawndale High Spelling Bee. I'm sure we're all in for a treat today as these fine young people demonstrate their prowess for the honor and glory of Lawndale High. Now, Mr. O'Neill will start the competition. May the best spell win!
Mr. O'Neill: Thank you, Ms. Li. It's an honor to be on stage with such wonderfully gifted students of the English language. The rules are the same as in class. You may ask for the word to be repeated, for the definition, or for the word to be used in a sentence. Any questions? Good, we can begin.
(Montage of various students spelling, some smiling in success, and others frowning in failure. Daria is shown several times and fidgets more and more each time. Eventually, only four students are left, including Daria)
Daria (VO): Getting close, better make this the last round I spell correctly and throw the next.
Mr. O'Neill: Daria, your next word is esophagus.
Daria (faux nervous): Um, uh. E…esophagus. E-S-O-P-H-A-G-U-S. Esophagus.
Mr. O'Neill: Correct. Dawn, yours is lenticular.
Dawn: Lenticular. L-E-N-T-I-C-U-L-E-A-R. Lenticular.
Mr. O'Neill: Oh, I'm sorry.
(Dawn steps down from the stage)
Mr. O'Neill: Jennifer, your turn. Deictic.
Jennifer: Can I have a definition, please?
Mr. O'Neill: Directly proving by argument.
Jennifer (pauses): Deictic. D-I-E-C-T-I-C. Deictic.
Mr. O'Neill (shakes head): Close, but not correct.
(Jennifer silently exits. Daria begins to shuffle her feet out of real nervousness.)
Mr. O'Neill: Okay, Dewey. Redolence.
Dewey: Redolence. R-E-D-O-L-A-N-C-E. Redolence.
Mr. O'Neill: Sorry, Dewey, that's not it. So, that means our champion is Daria Morgendorffer! Congratulations, Daria!
Daria: Ah, crap.
(LHS corridor. Daria is walking with her head down while Jane runs to catch up)
Jane: Yo, Daria!
Jane: What happened? I thought you were going to bow out.
Daria: I was, in the next round. I didn't think the other three would flop at once.
Daria: Although seeing Ms. Li turn purple was almost worth it.
Jane: Where are those yearbook photographers when you need them?
(Mack and Jodie enter from the opposite direction)
Jodie: Congratulations. I'm glad you changed your mind.
Daria: I didn't; my timing was off.
Mack: I hate it when that happens.
Jodie: You mean you accidentally won the spelling bee?
Daria: I prefer, "Inadvertently failed to lose."
Jane: Daria, you know you can't help it. You're a compulsive speller.
Daria: That's not helping.
Jodie: You're Lawndale's representative to regional.
Daria: Unless I can find a way out of it.
Jodie: If you can't, would it be too much to ask for you to really try? Just this time? Please?
Daria: I'll try my best…to find a way not to go.
(Morgendorffer kitchen. The entire family is seated at the table for dinner)
Helen: Anything interesting happen at school today?
Quinn: Well, Sandi wore the most completely cute new shoes. Stacy discovered this brand of scrunchies that are to die for. They're mail-order only, but miles ahead of anything else. And, oh my God, during the pep rally today, Joey, Jeffy and, and, JJ, I think, got an air conditioner and pointed it at me through the whole thing. I mean, the gym gets so hot when everyone's in it.
Helen: That's nice. What about you, Daria?
Daria: Nothing really interesting. Class, lunch, more class. The usual.
Helen: Did you go to the pep rally?
Quinn: Daddy, can I have some money for new shoes?
Jake: New shoes?
Helen: Oh, Daria. Don't you have any school spirit?
Daria: No. And if I did, I'd have it exorcised.
Quinn: Just one pair. Please?
Jake: Weird. It seems like we've had this same conversation before.
Quinn: It must be that "day ya view" stuff. Trust me, Daddy. We have not talked about buying these shoes before.
(Helen and Daria look over at Jake and roll their eyes in unison)
(Upstairs hallway. Quinn stops Daria)
Quinn: Thanks for not saying anything about the, you know. Mom would've gone on about how I should take an interest and blah, blah, blah.
Daria: Quinn, I think you should know something. I didn't mean to, but I won.
Quinn (annoyed): What? Just couldn't resist, could you?
Daria: It's a long story. If I can come up with something, I won't go to the regional. But if Mom finds out, I'm stuck.
Quinn (grins): It's gonna cost you.
Daria: No, it won't. If Mom finds out, she'll make it a "family event" and you'll have less chance of getting out of it than one of Ms. Li's compulsory assemblies.
(Pizza place. Daria and Jane are seated at a booth, sharing a pizza)
Daria: After class Monday, I'll tell Mr. O'Neill that I'm sorry, but I have to go to Leeville to help my cousin. I'll spend the weekend at home and nobody will be the wiser.
Jane: Sounds good. But, what if he asks Quinn if she's going?
Daria: I don't think Mr. O'Neill's figured out that we're related. Besides, do you think that Quinn's going to admit that we are?
Jane: Sounds like you've got things covered.
Daria: But, I have the nagging feeling that I've missed something.
Jane: Aw, you're just being paranoid.
Daria: Just because I'm paranoid, it doesn't mean that the universe isn't out to get me.
(Kevin and Brittany enter)
Kevin: Hey Daria, I didn't see you at the pep rally yesterday.
Daria: I'm in awe of your astute observational skills.
Jane: She wasn't there.
Brittany: But, it was a mandatory pep rally!
Daria: Did you see Ms. Li there?
Daria: We were in a secret meeting.
Brittany (surprisingly dubious): Secret meeting?
Jane (ticks off points with her fingers): One: mandatory pep rally. Two: Daria and Ms. Li missed the pep rally. Three: Daria and Ms. Li had to be someplace. Five: Since they weren't at the pep rally, they had to be together.
Brittany: Oh, yeah. That makes sense.
Daria: Shh. Don't let anyone else know.
Kevin: Know what?
Daria: Don't worry about it.
Kevin: Okay! Come on, babe. Let's get some pizza.
(Kevin and Brittany exit)
Daria: Like I said, the universe is out to get me.
(Mr. O'Neill's classroom. He and Daria are standing at the front desk)
Mr. O'Neill: Daria, I'm so glad you wanted to stop by after class. I talked to your mother today.
Daria: You talked to my mother? During the day? While she's at the office?
Mr. O'Neill: Well, first I talked to your mother's secretary, Marianne. The poor dear, she sounds stressed. I hope she's not having trouble with her home life. When people bring their home problems to work, it can be so difficult on their coworkers.
Daria: Um, yeah. Sure.
Mr. O'Neill: Anyway, after I left a message, your mother called me back. I had to leave my Freshman English class to answer the phone.
Daria: The class that Quinn and her friends are in?
Mr. O'Neill: Yes! Do you know her?
Mr. O'Neill: It's kind of funny, but she has the same last name as you.
Daria: You don't say.
Mr. O'Neill: Honest. Now, where was I? Yes, I had to go to the office to talk to your mother.
Daria: She waited that long?
Mr. O'Neill: Um, no. She hung up and I had to call her. That poor Marianne seemed even more nervous.
Daria: She's tough. What did you and my mom talk about?
Mr. O'Neill: Oh, the regional spelling bee.
Daria (closes her eyes): I was afraid of that.
Mr. O'Neill: It was rather odd, but she swore that she didn't remember you telling her about it. If you don't mind my asking, does Alzheimer's Disease run in your mother's family?
Daria: Mom has a lot on her mind. You know, career woman and mother.
Mr. O'Neill: Yes, yes. I hadn't thought of that. She must be so very busy. But, she said she'd be happy to drive us to the spelling bee next Saturday.
Daria: The school travel budget a little tight this year?
Mr. O'Neill: A tad. The repairs to the football bus after the last game cost a lot more than we anticipated.
Daria: Wait, you said, "us"?
Mr. O'Neill: I'll be going, since I'm the Lawndale faculty sponsor.
(Morgendorffer living room. Helen is impatiently waiting with arms folded as Daria enters the house)
Daria: Hi, Mom. You're home early.
Helen: Let me guess, you forgot to mention the spelling bee? Even though I directly asked you if anything interesting had happened at school.
Daria: Well, you asked if anything interesting…
Daria: I didn't want to make a big fuss about it.
Helen: This will look very good at college admissions time, so it is something to make a fuss about.
Daria (sighs): Okay. But, can you give me a little dignity and not make a big family thing of it? After all, do you really want to share a car with Dad and Mr. O'Neill…all the way to Middlebury? With Quinn?
(Helen face shows dread at the prospect)
(LHS cafeteria. Daria and Jane are eating lunch)
Jane: So, the momster found out about the trip.
Daria: And decided to make it "special mother/daughter bonding time".
Jane: With Mr. O'Neill in the car? That sounds kind of sick.
Daria: At least I was able to extract a trip to Middelbury's Books by the Ton as compensation.
Jane: That's a nice bribe.
Daria: It better be, if Mom wants my cooperation.
(Morgendorffer kitchen. Helen and Daria are seated at the table, eating breakfast)
Helen: So, we need to meet that Mr. O'Neill at school in about an hour. Plenty of time for us to catch up a bit over breakfast.
Daria: Well Mom, I'm in tenth grade.
Helen: That's not what I meant. Like, are there any…
(Helen's cell phone rings and she picks it up from the table to answer it)
Helen: Hello? Hi, Eric. What's going on this early on Saturday? What? What? WHAT? That's…I'll be there in fifteen minutes. (she turns off the phone) Dammit! I have to run in to the office and I'll probably be there all day.
Daria: Aw, shucks. I guess we'll have to skip the day's festivities.
Helen: You're not getting out of it that easily, you're still going. Sweetie, I really wanted to be there for you. Tell you what, since I can't make it, I'll loan you one of my credit cards for the trip to Books by the Ton I promised. Now, we just need to find some transportation.
Daria: You are not sentencing me to share a car with Dad and Mr. O'Neill? Your platinum card isn't worth that much.
Helen: Don't be silly, your father's already at his "Golf Power Breakfast".
Daria: Please, not the Guptys.
Helen: That's a…oops, they're hosting a "Happy Preteen" seminar today.
Daria: It's looking like…
Helen: I know. Jane's brother can drive you.
Helen: I'll also see if Jane wants to come along , since I won't be there.
(Helen hits a speed-dial button on the phone. It takes a while for Helen to get an answer, and she begins to show worry. Cut to exterior of Lane house. Trent crawls out of the Tank carrying a guitar case and goes into the house. Cut to the kitchen as he staggers in blurry-eyed and notices the phone. After a couple rings, he answers)
Helen: Hi Trent, this is Helen Morgendorffer.
Trent: Hey, Mrs. Morgendorffer. I haven't seen them yet, but I'll call up to Janey's room for Daria.
(Split screen of Helen and Trent)
Helen: Daria's here.
Trent: Oh, then what does Janey need?
Helen: Jane should be over there.
Trent: Um…I'm confused.
Helen: I need a favor. Can you please drive Daria over to Middlebury for a spelling bee? I was planning on it, but something came up at the last minute. I'll cover your gas and lunch. Daria will have my credit card.
Trent: Hmm. Gas and lunch? I'm in.
Helen: Oh, and please let Jane know she's welcome to tag along. I'll pay for her lunch, too.
Trent: Sure. Be there in a bit.
(Cut back to Morgendorffer kitchen. Helen disconnects phone)
Helen: Trent says he'll be here soon.
Daria: Trent was awake?
Daria: Just my luck.
(Trent's blue car. He is driving while Daria and Jane are in the back seat. They drive past a sign that says "Welcome to Middlebury")
Jane: I just thought of something; weren't you supposed to have a faculty sponsor come along?
Daria: I knew we forgot somebody.
Jane: Planning on forgetting to appear at the bee?
Daria: Actually…no. I'm going.
Jane: Did I hear you right?
Daria: I'm going.
Jane: Okay, I heard you right. Now, who are you? The Daria I know would jump at the chance to get away.
(Daria holds up Helen's credit card)
Daria: You also know that once I've been bribed, I stay bribed.
Jane: You and your ethical standards.
Daria: Just protecting my future income potential.
Jane: So, is Mr. O'Neill's absence going to cause a problem?
Daria: Not for me.
(Cut to the car parking in a lot outside Middlebury High School. Daria, Jane and Trent get out and start walking inside)
Jane (whispered to Daria): You're doing pretty good, considering how long you've been in the car with my brother. You've been talking normally; you haven't blushed or turned clumsy. Wow.
Daria: I've been concentrating on the spelling bee.
Trent: Oh, yeah. Hey Daria, your spelling stuff is cool. Good luck.
(Daria slightly stumbles and her previous calm demeanor melts away as she develops a slight blush)
Jane: Guess I spoke too soon.
(Inside Middlebury High auditorium. Daria is among a group of students seated on the stage. To one side is a judge standing behind a podium. This time, Daria looks genuinely nervous. The audience is filled with parents and other supporters of the students, some holding up signs. Jane and Trent are seated together about 3/4 of the way back)
Judge: Welcome students, faculty and family to the Middlebury Regional Spelling Bee. If everyone will please be seated, we can begin.
(The crowd starts to settle down)
Judge: Thank you, now we can begin.
(Montage of students standing at a microphone to spell their words. Some are successful and return to their seats, while others fail and step down from the stage to join the audience. Cut to Jane and Trent in audience)
Jane: Boy, is this taking a while. (She stands and steps past Trent) I can't hold it any longer, be back in a bit. I hope Daria's turn doesn't come while I'm gone.
Trent: Don't get lost.
(Jane walks out toward the restroom, and sighs as she joins the line waiting to get in. Cut back to the stage and it's Daria's turn)
Judge: Miss Daria Morgendorffer. Your word is: trend.
Daria: Trend. T-R-E-N-T...
(One hand goes up to her mouth in surprise and Daria blushes)
Judge: I'm sorry, Miss Morgendorffer. Better luck next year.
(As Daria exits the stage, she looks out at the audience, where Trent is asleep and Jane's seat is empty. Looking relieved, she steps down and walks out. Jane walks in from the opposite direction and they meet near Trent)
Jane: Did I miss something?
Daria: I didn't take any chances this time.
Jane: Ah, so that was your evil plan.
Daria: Now that I've made my appearance, let's get out of here.
Jane: You wanna wake up Trent?
Daria: I despise you.
(Exterior of Morgendorffer home. Trent's car stops and Daria gets out, carrying a large bag. She waves and the car drives off as Daria walks inside. Cut to the living room, where Helen is seated at a sofa, sorting through her open briefcase on the coffee table)
Daria: Hi Mom, I'm home.
Helen: Daria, how'd the spelling bee go?
Daria (shrugs): I didn't win. I, uh, got a little nervous.
Helen: That's okay, honey. You went and you tried. That's what's important.
Daria: Thanks, Mom. (She sets a bag labeled "Books by the Ton" on the first step of the stairs and then walks over to Helen, taking out the credit card and receipts)
Daria: I suppose you'll want these admitted into evidence.
Helen: Just set them down on the table, I'll get to them later. (She smiles at Daria) I'm proud of you.
Daria: Um, thanks, Mom. I'll be upstairs.
(Daria leaves Helen, picks up her bag and goes upstairs to her room. She places the bag next to her bed and flops down on it)
Daria: I can't believe it, I spelled "Trent". At least nobody I know actually heard me.
(Cut to Lane living room. Trent is half-reclining on the sofa and strumming on his acoustic guitar. Abruptly, he stops and cocks his head. He looks confused for moment and scratches the back of his neck. Just as suddenly, he shakes his head and goes back to strumming the guitar)
Thanks to Louise Lobinske, Kristen Bealer, Ipswichfan and Mr. Orange for beta reading.