CHAPTER IX

"A couple of best friends sharing shots… of gunfire! Vice Presidential Gunplay next on 'Sick, Sad World!'"

Jane clicked off the TV, when she heard a knock on the door. "Yo!" she called, allowing Trent into her room. Jane raised her brow quizzically, when she saw a pair of pants in his left hand. "Should I ask? Better yet, should you tell? I'm seeing more than should be seen."

"I'll say!" chirped Penny's bird, which was perched on her shoulder as she passed through the hallway to her room.

"I was looking for the iron," Trent explained. "I'm getting ready for my date with Daria."

"Your date's not for another four hours,"said Jane skeptically, as she walked over to her closet. "Here, I was using it for an art project."

"Thanks," he replied, taking the item, knowing better than to ask questions. "I just wanted to make sure I wasn't late."

"Daria's known you for years, she knows what you're like," said Jane, "and she still likes you for it."

"Yeah," said Trent, his body drooped in his usual slouch. "I never understood why though." The iron and trousers in his hands fell to his sides. "I don't even understand why she agreed to go out with me now."

"Oh, even the brooding, intellectual youth loves an older musician," said Jane, raising an eyebrow. "But, Trent, if you wanted Daria to be a groupie, writing her a vague, non-descript song about how she doesn't know that her perfect imperfections make her beautiful and perfect to you probably would have been easier."

"Come on, Janey. Be serious," said Trent. "This is Daria we're talking about." He turned his gaze away from his sister. "She deserves better than that."

Jane cocked an eyebrow in surprise. She stared in silence at her older brother losing his cool in front of her for the first time in many years. She furrowed her brow and turned to follow his gaze until finally he locked eyes with her again. His eyes widened slightly then softened. "Then let yourself become somebody who could deserve her." Trent gasped lowly, almost inaudibly. Jane walked back over to her bed and pretended not to hear as she turned the TV back on. "Trent, you know you have my support in this. I would personally love for things to work out between you and Daria. You're my brother, and she's my best friend. I couldn't ask for a more perfect combination, even if that technically means being related to Quinn and to Aunt Rita…" Jane muttered, ignoring Trent's stutters of confusion. "But if things don't happen to work out, I'm glad you two are finally going to know without having to tiptoe around the age difference this time." Trent hoped the light of the TV cancelled out the flush burning his cheeks. "Yeah," said Jane, "I knew about all of that, and don't pretend like you didn't know that I saw right through both of you. The thing is, part of seeing through Daria at that time meant knowing that there were walls she wouldn't let even me through." She turned to look at her brother. "Whatever happens, Trent, just don't give her a reason to put those walls back up."

"I wouldn't do anything to deliberately hurt her, Janey," he replied.

"I know you wouldn't, Trent. And that's the kind of thing she deserves." Jane's smile was sad but encouraging. "But, Trent, do yourself a favor and find out what you deserve, too," she said, pointing towards her brother. "There's no need to talk about yourself like you do, and I'm sure Daria would agree with me.

Just then Wind flew into Jane's room, also without pants on. "Jane! Trent! Thank goodness you're here!" he said on the verge of tears. "You gotta help me! Denise came home early and caught me with Mrs. Pinciotti from that swingers club we're in, and now she thinks I'm cheating on her and locked me out of the house!"

"You came here all the way from your house dressed like that?" asked Trent.

"You gotta help me!"

"Doesn't anybody in this town wear pants anymore?" lamented Jane, turning back to the TV.