Hold on to me, love
you know I can't stay long.
All I wanted to say was I love you and I'm not afraid.
Can you hear me?
Can you feel me in your arms?

Holding my last breath
safe inside myself
are all my thoughts of you
sweet-ruptured light it ends here tonight

1

"Where the hell is my shirt?" Trent demanded, peering around his room and rubbing the back of his neck. He was late. Again. And he wasn't Jesse, wandering shirtless everywhere.

He thought he spied it under a stack of guitar magazines. He stooped and snatched it up along with something white and silky looking.

"Uh …" Trent examined the object. How had this gotten in here? He hadn't seen Monique in over a month and he wasn't exactly the promiscuous type. He had some morals, after all, no matter what people might think.

Jane walked by his door at that point, carrying an armload of pastels.

"Is this yours, Janey?" he asked after stopping her. She squinted a little at what he was holding, and her eyes widened. The box of pastels fell to the floor with a clatter.

"Oh … gee, how'd that get in there?" She gave a nervous little titter before retrieving her friend's bra from her older brother's fingers.

"I don't know," Trent replied. Janey seemed panicky and she said her thanks for finding her missing undergarment and hurried away. Curious, and feeling that eavesdropping was not entirely out of line, he followed her down the hall.

2

"Yo, Morgendorffer. Lose something?" Jane asked, sitting on the edge of her bed, ankles crossed. Daria's answer was brief, but colorfully obscene.

"Where'd you find it?" she demanded when the outburst was over.

"I didn't. Trent did." Jane raised an eyebrow into the phone.

Another string of spirited phrases. Then:

"Does he know?"

"Did you talk to Tom?" Jane countered. On the other end, Daria hesitated. She marched around in circles in her room.

"Um … not exactly."

"Not exactly?"

"We talked about sex."

"Shit, Daria, he's going to think you want to have sex with him!" Jane uncrossed her ankles and straightened up, irritated. Jesus, Daria was terrible with communication. The girl in question didn't reply; she bit her lip and glanced at her door.

"Go talk to Tom," Jane ordered. "You can't keep putting this off. I'm not going to say another word to you until you do."

Daria sighed.

"Yeah. You're right. All right. I'll talk to Tom."

"God speed, Indiana Morgendorffer," Jane said, thinking vaguely of the homecoming parade that had occurred a thousand years ago.

"I thought you weren't going to say another word?"

"Shut up."

Jane pressed the end button. The homecoming parade. That was when everything had changed between Daria and Tom. It seemed like so long ago. Things were quite different now. They'd been through a lot these past few years. Especially last summer. And now this …

Jane suddenly threw the phone onto her bed, as if she were trying to throw away those memories and the direction her current train of thought seemed to be leading her. It worked for a moment as Trent entered the room.

"Hey," he said.

"What's up?" Jane asked, glancing at the phone guiltily.

"Couldn't help but … uh … over hear what you were saying."

"Oh, that," Jane gave a dismissive wave. "That was for a new project Mr. O'Neill gave us." She uttered that shrill, nervous laugh again. "You know Mr. O'Neill."

"Oh," Trent nodded. "All right." He turned to leave.

"Wait." He looked at Jane with one eyebrow slightly higher than the other. "Since when does O'Neill assign anything to do with sex?"

"You had him years ago, he's changed a lot," Jane answered quickly. She got up and proceeded to push her brother out of her room.

"What did I find of Daria's, anyway?"

Jane felt panic stir in the pit of her stomach.

"Her pencil. You probably don't remember. Aren't you late for something?"

"Uh … yeah. I—" Jane shut the door as he began to answer.

"Couldn't she have just bought a new pencil?"

Jane let out another laugh, this one relieved, as Trent's question floated through the door.

3

"Um … Tom? I have to talk to you. It's about Friday night … I was with Jane … and Trent … and oh God, how am I going to tell him?"

Daria stood in front of her mirror. Her image only gazed at her, seeming to say "You're the one who landed yourself in the mess to begin with, Morgendorffer."

"Damn you," she told her reflection. She glanced at the doorway to find Quinn standing there.

"What are you doing?" she asked.

"Making a new friend," Daria replied.

"God, Daria." Quinn sighed heavily and turned to leave.

"Actually, I have a question for you." She couldn't believe she was doing this. Talking to Quinn always seemed to somehow make her feel worse. Was she finally going insane?

If I'm not already there, she reminded herself. That or this really *is* hell.

Quinn leaned against the doorway again, looking intrigued.

"Um … let's say I know this girl. Well, um, she accidentally got drunk over the weekend and um … cheated on her boyfriend with her friend's older brother."

"Was he cute?"

"Quinn!"

"Sorry. Was this another one of those books of yours? Because I know Jane is your only friend and the only one that would come to you with a problem like this … and seeing as how you're her only friend, too, and you don't have an older brother …"

"Never mind," Daria retorted petulantly. "It's my problem. I'll take care of it … I guess."

Quinn shrugged.

"As long as it wasn't you who did the cheating. Tom's an all right guy, Daria," she commented before shutting her sister's door.

Daria stared at the place the other girl had been standing for a long while.

*Why do I even bother?*

At last, she shifted her eyes to the phone. A sinking feeling was making itself known in the bottom of her stomach. She tried to steady herself and calm her nerves. It didn't help that much and so, with violently trembling hands, she picked up the phone and dialed Tom's number.

But as soon as she had, she hung up. Annoyed with herself, but at the same time glad she had done it, Daria managed the first three numbers before hanging up the second time. This process was repeated several more times prior to Daria telling herself she would have to get Quinn to dial the number if she was not able to do it.
Knowing that would lead to questions she was positive she couldn't answer (and if she could barely bring herself to tell Tom, how the hell was she going to explain the situation to Quinn?), Daria groaned and dialed Tom's full and completely correct phone number and pressed the talk button.

4

Tom stared at the girl sitting across from him, beyond the capability of speech. He made a sort of strangled, gargling noise intended to be Why?

Daria looked down at her hands. Tom had pulled her computer chair beside the bed and was straddling it even as he gaped at her.

"I'm sorry," she said quietly.

"I'll bet," Tom muttered.

"Tom—" Daria was startled by the coldness in his voice.

"I need some time to think," he told her coolly. She seemed on the verge of protesting, but only nodded instead. For some reason, this sent a spark of anger down Tom's spine and he whirled on her. He was usually mild-mannered and cool as could be.

Usually.

"Fine, Daria. You want an answer now, don't you? Well, here it is: it's over, all right? I'm through."

Daria blinked, unable to register Tom's tone. His words, however, hit home.

"I see. So it's all right for you to kiss me twice while dating Jane, but once the tables are turned –"

"*I* didn't *fuck* anybody," Tom broke in grimly, with an expression to match. Daria blinked, feeling as if Tom had physically slapped her.

"Not this time," she snapped before shoving his arrogant, self-righteous form out of her room and her life. She heard him stomp furiously away and leaned against the door, trying not to cry, but unable to help herself. She managed an array of obscenities through the flood, cursing Tom, herself, and even Trent for a moment.

Her window was open and through it, Daria could hear Tom offering his own phrases (and such polite things, such as "cheap nickel-plated cold-cunt bitch.") She considered sticking her head out of the window and shouting after Tom, but decided against it.

Instead, she used the open window to climb out of. She didn't want to see her parents, nor Quinn, since her sister had more likely than not heard the whole stupid fight.

She used the drainpipe for most of the way, but nearly lost her hold and dropped the last five feet. She stumbled a little, landing with little grace. She'd had none to begin with, anyway.

She had no idea where she was going, so she simply wandered around her block for a while.

It wasn't until she was seven houses away did she realize she had walked to Jane's house. She did not know exactly why; even if she would have to eventually tell her friend, she wasn't ready to do so now.

Daria sighed and stuffed her hands into the pockets of her jacket.

She turned to head home and saw a familiar, beat up blue car come to a halt in front of her.

She couldn't help but smile, even though he was one of the last people she wanted to see.

"Hey, Daria," Trent poked his head out of the window.

"Hi, Trent," she nodded at him, wondering what he was thinking.

"Janey's started a new project today. I'm sure she's told you about it. But I don't think she's that busy."

"Actually, I didn't really want to talk to Jane," Daria admitted. Trent raised an eyebrow.

"Is it about Tom?"

She nodded.

"I see why it would be awkward."

"Thanks," Daria looked away, in the direction of her home. Trent hesitated a split second before asking her if she needed to talk. Daria was surprised and pleased … but how on earth was she going to explain everything without him finding out about … that.

"Um, sure," she agreed. Trent leaned over and pushed open the passenger door. She slid into the car, a little warily.

They drove aimlessly for a long time without speaking. Just as they passed the park, however, Trent spoke.

"Actually, Daria, I sort of needed to, you know, talk to you. I keep having these … flashback, I guess, about the other night. When, you know, we went to Max's house."

Daria felt herself stiffen and she bit her lip.

"I was, um, wondering what, you know, happened that night."

"Um …" Daria turned to look out the window. Trent had a pretty good idea of what had happened Friday night, but he was hoping against hope that he was confusing fantasy with reality again. This was Daria, after all. The one girl he hoped to God he would never fuck up with … and if what he thought had happened was really what happened, then he had already started off poorly.

Daria drew in a deep breath, trying to steady her nerves.

"Trent … we had sex." She said it flatly, hurriedly. Trent blinked and looked at her.

"You're not kidding." It was not a question. She sighed shakily.

"You've never done, you know, it before, have you?" This was a question, but the answer was obvious. Daria answered anyway.

"No."

Trent looked at her.

"I'm sorry, Daria."

"Tom and I broke up. That's what I wanted to talk to Jane about."

"Because of …"

"Yeah."

"Jesus, I'm sorry," he said again. She shrugged.

"It was bound to happen sooner or later. After all, I sure as hell wasn't going to marry the guy," she answered calmly. She was surprised at how comfortable she sounded. Inside, she was in a sort of emotional turmoil. "It's not like I loved him or he loved me." She said this last bit with a touch of bitterness and did not look at Trent.

"What did he say?"

Tom wasn't anywhere on the list of Trent's favorite people. He hadn't been even when Tom was dating Jane. Daria figured repeating Tom's refined wordings would therefore land him the position of number one on Trent's shit list. With a bullet. Zing. In a way, she wanted this to happen (she took delight on Trent's anger on her behalf), but she couldn't bring herself to repeat all he had said.

"He wasn't exactly forgiving," she said at last. Trent nodded, gripping the steering wheel tightly, his lips forming a thin line.

It was growing dark. The last of the light was rapidly fading.

"You're not …" Trent frowned, not quite sure as to how to finish the question. Daria understood, however.

"No. I'm not pregnant."

"Good. I couldn't, you know, handle knowing I did that to you. You have a lot going for yourself," he told her gently. She smiled and opened her mouth. Trent released a hand from its death grip on the steering wheel and held it up.

"I'm not finished. I really do like you, Daria. You're cool, you know? A lot different from most high schoolers. You're headed somewhere in life. I don't want to think we have to get together because of what happened Friday night. I don't deserve you even if you don't want to."

He was struggling with this; Trent was not one to express his emotions or even bother to explore them. Daria smiled.

"I like you, Trent. You're a good guy. Your priorities might be all wrong. And you're dependability is below zero, but once you've realized that your teachers were right: you have the ability if you just applied yourself … you'd be all right. You wouldn't bring me down; I know that if you gave anything the same amount of effort you put into the Spiral, you could do anything.

"I'm glad Friday night happened. I'm glad it was you it happened with. I'm not upset about loosing Tom. He pulls this passive manipulation bullshit that gets old real fast. I don't know why I didn't just have sex with you sooner."

Trent appeared to process this information.

"I love you, Daria," he said at length. Daria smiled, startled, touched and pleased all at the same time. It was the first time anyone other than her parents had said that to her. And she was surprised to find that she felt the same way.

"I love you, too, Trent." Here she stopped, wavering. Then she continued. "I just think it's not the right time for us to happen."

"But we will happen, right?" He looked at her and Daria was struck again but his anxious tone and his sincerity.

"Yeah."

He grinned and, briefly taking his attention off the road, kissed her cheek.

"Good."