Slap! The sound could be heard from across the room where Jane was standing and talking two new prospective dates at the party that she was attending. She turned to look towards where it had come from, along with everyone else and found Daria looking stunned and holding the right side of her face while Monique, the clear culprit, stood glaring angrily at the shorter woman. Jane rushed over to see what was going on.
"Monique, what gives?" Jane put herself between Daria and Monique, effectively circumventing Monique's plan to lunge for the still slightly stunned Daria.
"What gives?" Monique mimicked angrily. "I saw the little bitch kissing Trent!"
Then all eyes shifted to Daria. Daria shook her head.
"Liar!" Monique made to lunge past Jane, but Daria dodged her, Monique caught air and then the carpet while Daria made her escape through the crowd.
In the bedroom upstairs…
Daria closed the door behind her and tried to lock it, but someone managed to push their way inside before she could.
"Trent…?" Daria had been fearful that it was Monique, but as the familiar figure turned to her she realized with at relief that it was Trent. She locked the door and turned to him. Both looked a bit uncomfortable and confused.
"Are you okay?" He moved closer so that he could have a look at her face that still held the stinging vestiges and faint handprint of Monique's hand.
"Yeah…" Their eyes held, she realized that while his hand had moved, he was still holding the side of her face, just up under the jaw line; meanwhile she had brought her hand up to lightly encircle the wrist of that hand. "Monique looked really upset."
Trent ducked into the adjoining bathroom and came back with a damp cloth that he attentively dabbed at her face.
"Sorry. You have a little cut," he dabbed at it and saw her wince, "sorry."
"You didn't do it."
"I know, but…about what happened-"
Knock, knock, knock!
"Trent, open up I saw you go in there. We need to talk," Monique's voice came through the door loudly.
"I'll be down in a minute," Trent replied unwilling to subject Daria to another explosive encounter with the fiery brunette.
"Go ahead. Talk to her." Daria's voice was a soft whisper. "We'll catch up…later."
"Count on it." He went to the door and effectively wedged himself out of it without revealing that Daria was inside. As soon as Daria was certain that Trent had steered Monique away, she peered out of the door and got ready to make her escape.
"We need to talk," Tom's voice made her jump as he came into view encompassing the doorway. She sighed and retraced her steps into the room again with Tom following her. "Why?"
She blinked at his sharp tone.
"Are you even going to apologize?" Tom continued to spout in a steady succession of accusations. "I mean, how could you Daria? -And why with Trent of all people? I thought that we had something special, I really did. You and I- well we make sense. You and Trent…" he was pacing back and forth as though trying to make sense of things as he spoke. "There's just no way that it makes any sense. You two couldn't be more different. Then there's intellectually speaking. The guy has none. He'll probably be living in his parent's house still playing drummer with his high school friends in ten years. I just don't get it." He continued bemoaning how he just didn't understand how she could do something like this to him and she quietly sat watching him pace back and forth as he did so. Then, as though just realizing that she was in the room he stopped and looked at her. "Are you going to say anything?"
"You seem to have all the answers already," she quietly replied.
Tom seemed shocked.
"Why'd you do it Daria? Why'd you kiss him?"
"Tom," her voice was level as she spoke to him, "I didn't do it."
"She saw you. Why would she lie about that?"
"I don't know who she saw, but it wasn't me."
He looked at her, the skepticism clearly written on his face. She recoiled inwardly at this unexpectedness.
"You don't believe me?"
"Well it wouldn't be the first time that you kissed another girls guy."
His quip hurt her, more than that it angered her. She clutched her fists at her sides and stood from where she had been seated.
"That was with you!"
"Yeah, and Jane is supposed to be your best friend."
She wanted to slap him, but as hurtful as his words were, they were still the truth. She glared at him and left the room, slamming the door behind her.
"You were in there with her!" Monique's voice from the end of the hall brought Daria back to why she had originally been in the room in the first place.
Damn it! Why in the hell didn't Trent take her somewhere else? On second thought…
"Monique, listen-" Daria held her hands up trying to calm the already fired up brunette down. Trent blocked her path from advancing on Daria and Nick along with Max readied themselves to help.
"Listen for what!" Monique's voice was incredulous. "You to try and sell me some lie like you did to Jane? Now I'm gonna give you the ass whooping that Jane should have gave you when you did this shit to her!"
Monique tried to leap for Daria, but Trent caught her and held her at bay. "Let me go! Let me go!"
Trent put her back on her feet, but still held her off.
"Monique I told you. You've got it wrong."
"I know what I saw." She stopped struggling, but looked at Trent with unmasked hurt and anger. "Why would you do this to us- and with her?"
Trent looked down at her.
Oh, Monique…we've been on this carousel for too long…..
"I always knew that you had a thing for her, but I never thought that you were the type of guy to do something like this. Good bye Trent."
Trent and Monique looked at each other for a few moments more before Monique turned ant left. Everyone that had gathered around looked on in anticipation at Trent and Daria.
"Okay everybody shows over here," Jane's voice coerced everyone into going back to their own conversations. Max clapped Trent on the shoulder and escorted him down the stairs, while Jane nodded for Daria to join her in the bathroom. Jane watched while her friend wet a washcloth and gingerly dabbed at the little scratch. Neither said anything for a while.
"Did you talk to Tom?" Jane ventured.
"He doesn't believe anything that I say." Daria looked at Jane with her reflection. "He and I are over."
"He doesn't believe me and he had…some very…on point things to say- about some stuff."
Daria pursed her lips deciding that there was little else that she could do about the miniscule scrape.
"Monique was really mad." Daria spoke aloud.
"Not at the end. She was…resigned to something. I think that the breakup is for good this time."
"Hope Trent's okay."
"He will be." Jane studied her friend. "You and Tom-"
"He and I are done."
Kind of a relief actually… Woah, did I just think that? That's cold even for me.
"You think I'm being cold hearted don't you?"
Jane raised a brow.
"She'll be back when she cools down," Nick said to Trent while leaning against the Tank and taking a drag on his cigarette.
"No, she won't." Their goodbyes had been final and both felt relief for it. That was a certainty that he had felt in his gut.
"You okay?" Max broached.
Trent nodded and gave a shrug.
"What she said about you and the Brainiac in there-"
Trent looked at Max sharply.
Max held up his hands before him.
"We've all noticed it man. You two do have…a connection or something."
"Max," Nick's voice was a warning and all turned to see Daria and Jane approaching.
"We're about ready to head out," Jane announced unnecessarily. No one was in the partying mood anymore and things were winding down.
"Let's go then," Nick straightened and unlocked the car.
"Anyone know where Jesse got off to?" Max asked as they all piled in.
"He said he had to go earlier," Jane offered and settled in beside Daria.
"Wonder why?" Max mused aloud before cranking up and leaving for their respective destinations.
Daria had just settled into Wind's room after a shower when she heard Trent's light knock at the door.
He entered looking freshly showered himself. He sat on the edge of the bed near her, but not close enough to invade her personal space.
"Sorry again, about earlier," Daria ventured first into the conversation. "Monique- you can talk to her when she calms down. She'll understand."
He turned three quarter profile to look at her a bit.
"It's okay. I mean, I hate that she's hurt, but the whole break up had to happen."
"-but she believes something happened that didn't. Doesn't that bother you?"
"I tried to tell her the truth, but she wouldn't listen."
"But you would never do something like she's accusing you of."
He gave a partial smile then.
"How do you think she and I got together?"
Daria couldn't have been more stunned if she had tried. She opened and closed her mouth.
"I was dating her best friend and it was tanking fast. Monique was always a sympathetic ear and real supportive of my music aspirations…I realized that she got me more than her friend did and before I could break up with the friend- I was involved with Monique."
"How'd she take it when you told her?"
"I didn't tell her. She walked in on us kissing when the band was supposed to be practicing."
"Yeah, she exploded all over us. Not that I blame her. We should have been honest with her. I hate that I hurt her."
So that's why you were so empathetic towards me during the whole Tom mess…
"Anyway, sorry that you go hit…and everything."
"I'll live. Hey, if it makes you feel any better, Tom and I broke up too."
I think it does make me feel better.
Damn, why did I say that?
"You okay with that?"
"Actually I am."
"Tom get wind of what Monique was saying?"
"You told him it wasn't true…right?"
"Not that it mattered."
"I could talk to him for you…if you want."
"Nah…I could try to talk to Monique again… if you want."
"No, I'm good."
They sat in silence for a few moments.
"…about what Monique said; that whole 'me having a thing for you'…"
"I think she was kind of right." He chanced a look in her direction. She was looking directly at him. "We've always had a certain kismet- at least I've felt so. I'm not making any grand declarations or anything, but I just thought that I should acknowledge that I feel that there is something there between us…not that you feel the same."
Is he kidding?
"Of course I recognize that we're…something, but friends seems…"
"Too small," she supplied.
"Yeah. Don't get me wrong, friendship is great and never to be underestimated in its strength. It's just," he scratched the back of his neck, "when I know you're coming over verses when I know Jesse's coming over, the scenarios are completely different."
"I know what you mean."
They could no longer hold each other's gaze.
"What scenarios come to your mind?" she broached.
"One for one?"
"Well the last time, when Jane wanted you to go with her to Dega Street and you said that you needed to talk to her about something."
She nodded remembering.
"After you guys left, I started to work on some lyrics, but I kept wondering what it was you needed to talk to Jane about that was so important." Trent did a quick side glance and then looked back at his hands as he continued to speak. "I began to think that maybe something was wrong between you and Tom. I thought that perhaps you two had broken up and you wanted to tell Jane about it. Then I began to go further and think that not only did you want to tell Jane about it, but you wanted to know …about me."
Wow! I thought that he'd found out about that crush, but…That's a hell of a lot more than I imagined him to think about me.
"Say something." Trent urged after the silence was a bit long.
"Oh- sorry, I just- I didn't expect…that."
"My scenarios seem inadequate in comparison."
I'd like to. Stop it and focus.
"It's usually somewhere down the line and we're somewhere that feels safe and comfortable. Last time we were in a park just talking you reached out and touched my arm and I swear that I could feel it for real," she closed her eyes remembering in grave detail just how good that fantasy had been. "You let your hand lightly slide down so that you could hold my hand, then together we went for a walk…it was all just so lovely." She finished talking with a smile upon her lips.
Ahem, the noise came from the door where Jane stood with arms crossed looking at them both.
"I'll let you two talk," Trent made his way out of the room and Jane took his place on the bed.
"So," she slapped Daria on the knee in mock playfulness, "whatcha doing?"
"Shut up." After a moment. "How much did you hear?"
"Monique did not see me and Trent kissing."
"That's not saying that it didn't happen."
"Oh come on. Trent never kissed me. I never kissed him. We never kissed."
"Except on the cheek that time."
"Okay, but we were at Pizza King and you were dating Tom then and he was dating no one. No lines have ever been crossed between he and I."
"Perhaps not physically, but-"
"No, no, no you and no one else can do that. If that were the case any little thing can be overblown to mean something more than it does."
"I'm just messing with you. I've always found your affection for my brother cute. Knowing that he returns it just as strongly on increases the warm fuzzies-"
"Did you have a point or did you just come to harass me for amusement purposes?"
"I was just checking to make sure that you were okay- you know about the whole Tom breakup thing, but I see that you're just fine."
Daria looked at her feeling suddenly hurt.
"It's not like that Jane. I've just always been of the mindset that if it's not working, then what's the point? I don't think that I should feel bad about something that I didn't do nor should I have to continually explain myself to someone that doesn't believe me. I told the truth. Trent told the truth."
"Okay, I was joking…kind of. I didn't want you to throw away your relationship so fast just because Trent is suddenly available. I want you to be happy."
"That was a mouthful."
"I mean it. If there's something I can do-"
"It's not like it's your fault. Now, let's get some sleep. I've had a full night."
Jane nodded as she slowly went to the door.
"Good night Daria," she hesitated looking at her friend as she got under the covers and placed her glasses on the nightstand. Daria took a final look at Jane and stuck her tongue out at her. Jane laughed and shook her head as she shut the door when she left. Jane went on down the hall noting that Trent was in his room half dozing. She picked up the phone and headed on into her room.
"Hey, it's me."
"Sorry about earlier. I wish you hadn't left."
"Nick called and told me about what happened with Monique and Daria. Why didn't you tell them?"
"What, that Monique saw you and me making out? No way."
"You could have prevented two relationships from blowing up. Trent it your brother and Daria is your best friend."
"I'm well aware of both their statuses in my life and judging from everything that I saw and heard tonight, I did them a favor by keeping quiet. Besides, I wasn't quite ready to tell them about how I threw myself at you and you shot me down."
"I told you, I can't just jump into something like that with you without giving Trent some kind of heads up first…no matter how good you kiss."
Jane smiled in spite of herself.
"I'm gonna tell them, just not right now…what about us?"
"What about those guys that you were with at the party?"
"I knew Max and Nick would narc me out."
"So that was for my benefit?"
Kind of…what if you don't want this between us. They are a good back up plan.
"I want to see where we could go Jesse. Is that something that you want too?"
"Yeah, I do. I do want that, a lot. I'll talk to Trent tomorrow."
"And I'll tell them that it was us that Monique saw tomorrow."
"See you tomorrow Jane."
"See you tomorrow Jesse."
Jane hung up the phone feeling cautiously optimistic.
The next day…
Daria sat in the Lane kitchen enjoying the solitude of a Saturday morning and sipping on her coffee. She could always count on the Lanes to sleep in, thus giving her time to think.
Tom and I broke up. Trent and Monique broke up. Trent and I talked, now we have to deal with a whole new element to our….friendship? Just what the heck are we calling it anyway? Ah, who cares…we don't have to name it. Trent would say that we should just go with the flow. Maybe I can adapt that mentality… at least a little bit.
"What's that smile about?" Trent's voice only slightly surprised her. She glanced over her cup at him.
"Nothing…..I was just thinking."
Trent poured himself a cup and sat down across from her.
"Well what gets you up so early on a Saturday morning?"
"I was just wondering if maybe you'd want to go for a walk in the park today."
Her eyes shot to his smiling face immediately.
"It's just two people taking a walk to see where things go; if you want."
"I'd be delighted."
They sat having their coffee in silence, each contemplating the possibilities of the day. They met in the kitchen later to go to the park, leaving a note beside the coffee pot for the still sleeping Jane.