It was yet another perfectly ordinary day. Daria and Jane were walking home; bright sunlight fell cheerfully around them.

"So, Mr. O'Neill was pleased to announce that my essay had gotten the highest grade of all his classes. As if anyone cared," Daria concluded.

"You lead such a fascinating life once I leave for the bathroom, Miss Morgendorffer," Jane grinned, raising an eyebrow.

"Well, I'm such an exciting person," Daria replied. Jane looked at her for a moment and said nothing.

"So … you talked to Trent last night," she began slyly.

"Yes. You and Tom were right there. What's the big deal?"

"Well, he stayed with you for a couple minutes. What did he say?"

Daria rolled her eyes.

"He said he was sorry again. That's all," she said, perhaps a little more defensively than she intended.

"Please, Daria. You don't smile like a loon after Trent just *talks* to you. That stopped after the first two months of our friendship," Jane replied shortly.

"He kissed my cheek, all right," Daria burst out hotly, blushing furiously.

"And the truth is finally revealed," Jane muttered. Daria glared at her.

"Hey, at least you're a step closer to Trent," Jane added encouragingly. Daria sighed and looked away.

"Unless you don't *want* to be a step closer to Trent," Jane spoke slowly and musingly, studying her friend intently.

"That's not it," Daria replied quickly, "but we'll have to continue this later. I think someone's looking for you."

A rusty car pulled up, the brakes screeching creakily as it halted beside them.

"Hey, Jane. Hi, Daria," Tom called through the open window.

"Hi, Tom," Daria said, feeling a little jealous at the way Tom smiled at Jane and the easy way Jane leaned over and kissed his cheek.

Tom and Jane drove off. Daria watched them for a moment before continuing on to her house.

Quinn was sitting on the couch, moaning about something. Daria closed the door and tried to sneak quietly up the stairs. The younger girl furiously turned off the TV
and flung the remote across the room.

"Just because you've watched Gone with the Wind sixteen times doesn't mean the ending's ever going to change," Daria said, before she could stop herself.

Quinn whirled on the couch, her long red hair trailing behind her. Her eyes narrowed as she studied her sister.

"Cashman's is closing!" she cried, throwing her hands into the air. "*Now* where are we supposed to shop for decent clothes?"

"Um … somewhere else?" Daria suggested, slowly beginning her ascent of the staircase. It was the wrong answer, apparently, for Quinn let out a high wail and buried
her face in her hands. Daria rolled her eyes and made her way to her room.
The next day dawned cold and cloudy. Quinn marveled at breakfast how quickly the weather changed.

"That's nice, dear," Helen murmured, pulling her ringing cell phone out of her purse. "Hello … oh, Eric, I don't care how much she wants him to settle for … of
*course* I have the paperwork … oh *honestly* …" Helen Morgendorffer's irritated voice drifted out of the kitchen and out the front door.

"Bye, Mom," Daria said softly, watching the front door close. She shifted her backpack on her shoulder and stepped outside.

It was bitterly cold and Daria shivered. She was walking alone this morning; Jane was getting a ride from Tom.

"What's so great about Tom?" Daria muttered, shoving her hands into the pockets of her green jacket and hurrying onto school.

About halfway down her block, Daria heard a car pull up beside her. She turned, pushing stray strands of dark red hair behind her ear.

"Hey, Daria."

"Trent!" she failed to keep her surprise hidden and hoped she did a better job hiding her excitement. "What are you doing here?"

"I was just, you know, in the neighborhood," Trent shrugged. "Come on. I'll drive you to school. It's too cold to walk."

"Um … thanks," Daria said, climbing into the passenger seat.

"Don't mention it. I still feel really bad about not getting the music done for you," Trent replied.

"Really, Trent, it's no big deal. Jane didn't fail; she won't have to take the class over again," Daria protested.

"I just don't like letting you down," Trent replied, turning his head and smiling at her. Daria could think of no reply.

"I knew Tom was picking up Janey. You would have had to walk in this by yourself," Trent added, waving a hand at the clouds.

"You didn't have to … but I'm glad you did," Daria said.

"I'm glad, too. I really like you, Daria. You're not like other girls."

*And if you're really honest with yourself, you'll find you're really madly in love with me*, Daria thought.

"Um." was what she said aloud.

"Even if you're Janey's friend best friend, you're my friend, too. Max once said that your greatest friends you could count on one hand and still have fingers left over."
Trent paused. "Or something like that."

"Thanks, Trent. I like you, too," Daria said, feeling a little disappointed. Trent glanced at her and sighed inwardly. He wanted to say more, but he'd never been very
good at talking to people about real things.

After that, they fell into silence and Trent drove on.

"Trent?" Daria asked after a moment. He glanced at her. "Well … what do you think about Tom?"

Trent frowned and looked thoughtful for a minute.

"I suppose he's all right. He seems nice," he answered at last. "It's like I told you last night, they're not that bad together."

"Yeah," Daria sighed.

"Why do you ask, anyway?" Trent turned a corner and Daria looked out the window, away from him.

"I don't really want to talk about it," she answered.

"I went through the same thing when I was in high school. Jesse had a girlfriend (I don't remember her name anymore) and he spent all his time with her, instead of
with me and the rest of the band. I felt left out, you know. Rejected by my own best friend. So, I understand what you're going through with Janey," Trent said after a

"Really?" Daria looked back at Trent curiously. "What happened?"

"I made friends with her," Trent replied simply, shrugging his shoulders, "We got along fine after that."


"If you ever want to talk, you can talk to me, you know. You're something special, Daria," Trent told her.

She was grateful he was looking at the road and not her. She was sure she'd gone a brilliant shade of red.

They pulled up in front of the school at last.

"Here you go." Trent squinted a little at the bright red building. Daria picked up her backpack and then paused with one hand on the door handle.

"Listen, Trent, thanks for everything. You've really, um, helped," she said. Trent smiled a little and nodded. Impulsively, Daria leaned over and kissed his cheek. Trent looked surprised and Daria felt herself blush again.

"I … I'm sorry," she mumbled.

"It's all right, Daria," he replied, raising an eyebrow. She glanced at him, looking surprisingly shy. He leaned over and kissed her on the lips.

"I'm glad you did that. What are you doing this weekend?"

She gaped at him, soundlessly, and his question spiraled off, unanswered.

"Why did you kiss me?" she finally asked when her voice came back to her. She was even more surprised (if that was even possible at this point) to see him blush a

"I don't know. It must have been caused by this funny feeling in my stomach," Trent answered after a moment.

"I think that's called attraction," Daria said. Trent appeared to think this over.

"That would made sense. You are attractive," he said. "I'm sorry I scared you."

"It's all right." She hesitated for an instant. "Jane's going bowling with Tom Saturday night. I'm not doing anything then."

"I'll pick you up at six. We'll find something to do."

Daria nodded and pushed open the door. Trent watched her go. She waved, as he pulled away and grinned.
"There you are! I waited for you outside of the school. It doesn't take us *that* long to walk, does it?"

Daria was at her locker, exchanging her books. She looked up to see Jane approaching.

"I didn't walk. Trent drove me," she informed the other girl. Jane's eyes widened and she leaned against the locker next to Daria's, folding her arms across her chest.

"Trent was up that early? Be prepared to Armageddon, Daria." Jane warned.

"He said he knew you were getting a ride from Tom and he didn't want me to walk alone in this weather."

"That's not all that happened. I know my brother." Jane raised an eyebrow.

"Let's just say I'll be busy six o'clock Saturday night," Daria replied, closing her locker and facing Jane.

"Mrs. Daria Lane. Instead of a photographer, can I paint your wedding portrait?" Jane asked.

"Right," Daria answered, as both girls turned to go. The Fashion Club walked by just then.

"Cashman's … is … closing?" Tiffany asked, speaking in her irritatingly slow manner.

"Where are we going to shop now?" Stacy cried.

"As *president* of the Fashion Club, I declare an *emergency* meeting after *school*," Sandi stated.

"Well, this girl was telling me we should just shop somewhere else," Quinn said. Sandi blinked.

"*Well*? Why *don't* we?" she demanded, facing the Fashion Club and putting her hands on her hips.

Tiffany and Stacy looked at each other.

"Like … why didn't … *we* … think … of that?" Tiffany looked at Quinn.

"I won't answer that," Daria said quietly. Jane smirked.

"That girl must be *really* popular to know so much about this kind of thing!" Stacy exclaimed.

"What *school* does this girl *go* to?" Sandi asked.

"Um …" Quinn hesitated as the Fashion Club disappeared around a corner.

"So, when are you going to tell me about this double life of yours, Morgendorffer?" Jane asked, grinning and raising an eyebrow again.

"When hell freezes over." She paused. "Kevin's going to come around the corner, screaming that hell's frozen any minute, isn't he?"

"With your luck? Of course," Jane answered. Daria walked away quickly.

"Then I'll have to get to first period before that happens."

"Hey, sister-in-law! Wait up!" Jane called and hurried after her friend.