somewhere between the napping

---------------------------------------------- standard disclaimer applies. ----------------------------------------------

Daria emerged from her bedroom feeling surprisingly well rested. After showering and donning her typical attire, she came downstairs, hoping that her parents had already left for work. With any luck, Quinn would be gone shopping and she could spend the rest of the morning in peace. There was definitely something to be said for summer vacation. She had just sat down with her coffee and begun to peruse the newspaper when she heard a whine from elsewhere in the house.

"Mo-oom!"

Daria waited.

"Mo-oooom!"

She took a sip of coffee.

"Mo-oooooom!"

Her coffee needed sugar.

"Mo- oh," Quinn said, entering the kitchen. "Where's Mom?"

"Considering it's almost ten o'clock on a Tuesday morning, I'm assuming she's at work. But feel free to keep calling for her; I'm sure stretching the corners of your mouth repeatedly won't cause premature wrinkles around those perfect lips of yours."

Quinn gasped, and grabbed a mirror out of a drawer to check her face. Eventually she decided there was no immediate crisis and faced Daria. "Hey, you know that guy you like?"

"No. My own feelings go unannounced to me the majority of the time. Perhaps you could inform me who has captured my stone cold heart."

Quinn groaned. "That Trent guy. I know you guys are dating, or whatever."

"So?"

"He has a car right?"

"Yes. And the answer is no."

"Daaaria! I haven't even asked you anything yet!"

"Is that supposed to change my answer?"

"But I really need to go to the mall, like right now; Cashman's is having a huge mid-summer sale and I really HAVE to be there but Mom's not here to drive me and it's too far to walk, and the fashion club is already there and if I don't get there soon Sandi will get all the really cute outfits before me and then I won't be able to wear them because you just *can't* wear the same thing as someone else and everyone I've called is gone and no one can drive me." She stopped to see Daria looking at her, knowingly. "And I'll pay you."

"Fifty."

"Twenty."

"Forty-five."

"Thirty and I'll give you Dad's gold card when I'm done with it."

"Deal." She paused. "Actually, I better call Trent first. He could be doing something." Daria smiled inwardly. Trent, doing something? She was positive she would wake him up, but usually as long as she offered him food it wouldn't be a problem- not much had changed since they had been together.

"Fine. Here's the phone."

"Why thank you, dear. . . sister," Daria said as she dialed, making Quinn cringe.

After about five rings, Trent managed to find the phone without opening his eyes. "Mmm?"

"Hi Trent. Sleep good?"

"Daria?" He still sounded very asleep. "Whera. . .time?"

"It's very early, Trent." She had gotten over the guilt of waking him up. "But if you can drag yourself out of bed and drive over here, we can make some easy money and pick up lunch."

"emrmhgmm. . . ." Trent didn't want to get up, but the idea of food sounded good. "Food?"

"Yes. As much food as you want. Be here in twenty minutes." She could hear him clumsily trying to get out of bed. "Is Jane there?" She covered the earpiece and addressed her sister, "You have half an hour, princess."

"Yeah," Trent said.

She could hear him call for Jane as Quinn hurried out of the room. Jane picked up the other phone and hollered at Trent to drop his.

"Yo."

"Glad to see someone's awake."

"Fresh as a daisy. A cold, wet daisy with a broken water heater."

"So dewy petal, what's on your agenda today?"

"My, my. Aren't we chipper?" Jane paused, "Actually, not much. Seth's visiting family, so I was just planning on painting a bit and loafing around the house. Looking for a partner in crime?"

"Only if the price is right. And it is. Quinn's paying me to get Trent to drive her to the mall, and I'm paying Trent with food. You in?"

"Do I get food, too?"

"Only if you can prove your worth to me in juggling skills."

"Yes! I've been looking for a new venue to display my amazing talents."

"He's supposed to be here in twenty minutes."

"Gotcha."

"Bye."

************************************************************************

When they reached the mall, Quinn jumped quickly out of the car. "Byee! I'll get someone else to drive me home."

"What about the Gold card?"

"I'll leave it at Cashmans' service desk, you can pick it up there."

"Fine with me." She watched, amused, as Quinn bounced into the mall, obviously happy to be away from Trent's less-than-perfect car and its un- cool occupants.

Jane and Daria emerged from the car and Trent followed, slowly.

"As much as I dread leaving you two alone together," Jane smirked, "they're having a big sale on art supplies at the other end of the mall. I'll meet you guys for lunch in the food court around 12:30?"

"Sounds good."

Even though Trent was functioning, he wasn't really awake enough for quick verbal responses. When Jane walked away from them he looked down at Daria. "Uh. . . . food?" His head itched.

"Come on, caveman." Daria reached out for his hand and half-dragged him into the mall while he scratched his head and yawned. After she had found him a strong cup of coffee and a couple of scones they sat down on a bench and watched the trendy crowd scuttle off to different shopping opportunities.

As he finished the last of the coffee and strange breakfast cookies, he began to finally feel awake. Daria was sitting next to him, mesmerized by the people walking by. He put his arm around her and she turned to look at him. "So. Why are we here?"

"No particular reason. Quinn needed a ride, and paid us thirty bucks. Plus I get my dad's Gold card later on. So how do you want to spend your payment for waking up so early?"

"Hmm." Trent stood up. "Come on, let's look around." Daria followed him and they wandered around the mall. Surveying a couple of odd little shops, Indian boutiques and whatnot, they eventually ended up in front of the GAP. "Let's go in," Trent said, giving a half-smile to Daria.

"'GAP' isn't really my thing, Trent."

"You think it's mine?"

"So why do you want to go in?"

He grinned at her and dragged her into the store behind him. The greeting clerk gave them a strange look before 'welcoming' them into the store.

"Again, Trent. . . why am I in the land of the domesticated teenagers?"

"Come on, its almost fun to look at preppy clothes and how much they spend on a 'crew-cut ribbed jersey'," he said, picking up a shirt from the table in front of them. "You wanna try on outfits?"

Daria stared at him with one eyebrow raised. "You sure you aren't Quinn in disguise?"

He picked up a dark green miniskirt and looked at her. "Please?"

Damn him. She would never be caught dead in here if it weren't for Trent. He still had that effect on her. Anything he wanted, she would just go along with, willingly. Ugh. "One outfit. One."

Trent's eyes lit up and he grinned. "Okay. You can pick one out for me, too."

"Great," she deadpanned as he ran off towards another stack of clothes. "Does underwear count as an outfit?" she asked herself, blushing slightly. God. She was so pathetic. But Trent was already perusing the tables full of clothing on the girls side of the store, so she headed over to the men's side. Nothing looked like 'Trent,' but she guessed that was probably the point. She wanted to get this done with as quick as possible, so she grabbed a long-sleeved black collared shirt and some black dress slacks, then headed to the dressing rooms where Trent was waiting for her. He grinned and handed her the outfit.

Trent picked up the stuff from Daria and headed into a changing room next to her. The pants were a little loose, but he didn't mind, and the shirt was pretty snug. It had been a while since he'd worn all black. It suited him. Well at least he thought so. He knocked on the wall to his right. "Hey, you done yet?"

"Gimme a sec, you didn't pick the easiest sizes to get into, did you?"

Trent grinned, glad she couldn't see his expression. He hadn't been lying when he told her his eyes where shut when he gave her that massage; any chance to see Daria in something form fitting was not to be missed.

Daria looked at herself in the mirror. The green miniskirt was barely long enough for her to walk around without exposing herself, and the black top was 'skimpy' to say the least. It was a halter top- one that looked completely ludicrous with a bra so she'd removed it hesitantly. The 'shirt' had to be 100 percent lycra, and came down to just over her bellybutton, and since the skirt was 'super low cut' she had about 5 inches of stomach showing. She looked ridiculous. "Trent. This is stupid."

"Come on, Daria- just lemme see- it can't be that bad."

Just then Daria heard familiar voices enter the store.

"Eww, periwinkle is soooo not in this season. Especially with that stripe."

"Yeaaaaaah. Iiiiiicky."

She knew there was a reason she didn't come in these stores, and the fashion club was four of them.

"Come on, Daria!"

"Fine. Open your door and I'm coming in there. The fashion club is here."

She peeked out her own door and dashed into the next room over when she thought the coast was clear. Daria quickly closed the door behind her before turning to look at Trent. She forgot about her self-consciousness when she saw him. Whether Quinn would think so or not, black was definitely his color. It seemed to make his eyes jump out at her, his hair looked blacker, and his eyebrows, too. He looked, well, sexy. It wasn't till she noticed his eyes weren't staring back into hers that she blushed.

Trent gaped at Daria. It wasn't that she was some gorgeous sex- goddess, he just wasn't prepared for what she would look like without her baggy clothes. She was slender, and though it wasn't much- she went in and out in the appropriate places. And she wasn't wearing a bra. He had obviously thought of that when he picked the shirt out, but he didn't really think she would take off her bra to model it for him. He was staring at her chest when she spoke, ashamedly jerking his attention back to her face.

"You look. . . good," she stammered at him.

"So do you."

"I'm not buying it."

"I still like it."

Trent grinned. Daria felt her insides go all mushy. "How does he do that?" she thought as the feeling intensified when he stepped closer to her and put his hands around her waist. Her skin tingled where his fingers brushed against it. She just stared into his eyes, unable to move until he kissed her. They kissed for a moment, then Daria pulled away. "What is it with us and small, confined spaces?"

"I dunno. But I like it," Trent said and kissed her again, pulling her closer to him. He had just started to move his lips down to her neck when they heard a familiar voice.

"Just a minute, Sandi, I want to try on this halter top."

"Yeaaaah, and this miniskirt is soooooo cuuuuute. . ."

Quinn only had one thing to try on, and Tiffany had taken the last empty room, so she quickly darted into the one of the rooms that hadn't been cleaned of the previous occupants clothes yet. She locked the door and paused a moment to admire herself in the mirror before taking off her pink t-shirt and putting on the light blue halter-top. She grimaced and undid the top so she could take off her bra. She needed to see the full effect. After admiring herself in the top some more, she finally decided she had to have it. When she reached down to pick up her shirt, she noticed the boots in the corner. Those looked like Daria's ugly boots. And that looked like her unflattering green jacket. And her black pleated skirt. And that yucky orange shirt. She listened, trying to hear anything that would tell her Daria was here. "Tiffany?" she asked as she put her shirt back on and checked her hair.

"I'm dooone. We're goooing to Aambeercroombiee and Fiitch, Quiinn."

"Okay, I'll be there in a minute." After she heard Tiffany leave, she exited the dressing room and quickly scanned the store in search of her sister, half expecting her to be running around naked and shouting poetry at everyone- whatever would be the most embarrassing and detrimental to her own popularity. Daria was nowhere in sight.

"Daria?" Quinn asked. There was no response. But she had to be here, no one else would have an outfit that ugly. She began to call out in the dressing rooms again. "Daaria? Where are you? I know you're here." But why? Why would Daria go to the GAP? That was so, almost cool of her, and Quinn knew Daria would never do anything cool. It was against her morals or something. "C'mon, Daria. I know you're here. Where are you?"

Daria was banging her head against Trent's chest. "Why, why, why?" Was she doomed to relive this scene until she was mortified beyond belief? With every member of her family finding her in some sort of stall with Trent?

Trent just laughed and ran his hands through her hair. "She's in here, uh, Daria's sister," he said and opened the door of the dressing room. Daria stepped away from him and glared.

Quinn found the open dressing room and gawked at the sight in front of her. Daria was wearing the miniskirt Tiffany had tried on, and the halter-top she was about to buy. "Daria! You look. . . . cute! Except for your face and hair and stuff. And those ugly glasses." But that wasn't really what caught her attention. She'd only ever seen Trent in his ratty clothes, but now he was in a well-fitting black shirt, with the top buttons undone. She said it without thinking, "Trent, you look. . . hot." She blushed slightly, realizing what she had just said as Trent raised an eyebrow at her in disbelief. Quinn turned on her sister. "What are you doing here? This store is for *cool* people."

"I've been asking myself the same question."

"We just thought we'd try your life on for a few minutes," Trent said.

"Well, you should just, stick to your own kind or something. You aren't going to stay in those clothes, are you?" Quinn was actually more nervous than angry- if Daria looked this cute, then would she become popular? Eww, popular Daria, she didn't think she could handle that. Popular Trent, however, might not be such a bad thing. . . She was beginning to become jealous of her sister's boyfriend.

"No. I'm not. Now leave."

Quinn left. It was better to not think of such things as 'popular Daria.' It just made her head all cloudy and angry and confused.

Daria looked up at Trent. "I'm changing now. Let's leave."

Trent looked her up and down once more in the outfit, wishing he could get her to buy it- but he knew it would never happen. "Okay."

************************************************************************

Jane caught up with them as they waited in line at the Burger King. "So, what did you two do today?"

"You know, molested small animals and chased down old people, the usual." Daria eyed the large bag Jane was holding. "You got quite a stash."

"Like I said, big sale. So now what are we doing?"

Trent looked at his sister. "Food."

"My ever perceptive brother, thanks for the heads-up. I meant after. You guys ready to blow this popsicle stand, or is there more you wanna see?"

"Well, we still haven't spent our thirty bucks from Quinn, and I still need to pick up the Gold card from Cashman's."

"Uh, why don't you give me my wake-up money and you go get your Gold card. I saw something in the window of that music store that I wanted to get," Trent said, still studying the menu above their heads.

"Which music store?"

"I dunno. It was around here somewhere."

Daria turned to Jane, "Mind like a steel trap."

They got their food and sat down to eat. Jane began pulling things out of her bag and explaining her artistic ideas while they ate. As soon as they finished, Daria handed Trent his thirty bucks and she and Jane went to Cashman's to pick up the card her sister had left for her. After buying some CD's and the new speakers she had been meaning to get for her computer, they wandered out into the parking lot where Trent was waiting for him. Daria noticed immediately that the bag he was carrying had nothing to do with music.

Trent grinned as his sister and Daria sauntered towards the car. Daria was glaring at him as soon as she caught sight of the bag in his right hand.

"Why?" she asked, not amused.

"Let's just call it wishful thinking."

Daria wordlessly got into the passenger seat and the Lanes followed her.

"So what's in the bag that's got Daria so hot and bothered, bro?" Jane asked, leaning forward between the front seats.

Daria saw Trent grinning from the other driver's seat. "Something you'll never see," she snapped.

When they got home, Jane grabbed the bag from Trent and dug out the clothes. "Ooh, sexy vixen!" she said, holding it up in front of her in silly poses. "Lemme see it on you, Daria! Puh-leease! I know Trent wouldn't mind seeing it, either. . ." Jane grinned and pretended to make 'sexy' faces.

"I hope you fall into that pool of acid I left in the bathroom."

"Only for you."

Daria had had enough. "Just drop it Jane, I'm not putting it on, not ever." She sighed and looked at Trent. "It was a waste of money."

"Whatever." He grinned then looked at her and then to Janey. "So what now?"

"I dunno. I still want to do some painting." Jane looked back into her own bag, eyeing the new loot she'd gotten.

"How 'bout you, hot stuff?" Trent couldn't help from smiling. It was kinda fun to make Daria angry, he could see why his sister enjoyed it so much.

Daria blushed and glared simultaneously at him before answering. "My afternoon is open, as long as it doesn't involve what's in that bag."

"Right-o. Call me if you guys get anymore food, eh?" Jane smiled at them and headed up the stairs, excited about a new painting that was sorting itself out in her head.

Trent looked at Daria, who still looked somewhat 'hot and bothered' as Janey had put it. "So. . . what *do* you want to do?"

"Um, doesn't really matter to me. I could go for some TV, but that's only if you can't think of anything better."

"Not really. I had thought about practicing, but that's about it."

"Well, let's do that. I like hearing you play." She wasn't lying. He sounded a lot better alone than with the band, and now she had free staring privileges.

"Okay. I'm gonna go down and bring my guitar up here, the light's better."

Daria nodded and sat down on the couch.

Trent came up and sat on the other end of the couch and played through songs in his notebook. For a while Daria just watched him blissfully. It was still amazing to her that this person that she had lusted after for so long was no longer out of reach. All those things she used imagine doing- the conversations, them just spontaneously kissing each other, that feeling of being loved and cared for- were no longer illusions. It was amazing. She was still in awe, almost afraid she would wake up at any moment to find it had all been a dream. Trent had stopped playing. "Hey Trent?"

"Yeah?"

"You're for real, right?"

Trent gave her a questioning look, "Uh, I guess so."

"Okay, thanks."

Trent looked at the smile on Daria's face, then smiled to himself and continued playing. He really liked Daria. That emotional thing still held true. It felt like Daria was his sister. . . but a sister that it was okay to be attracted to. He kinda got turned on now whenever he made her blush. Now that he noticed the blushing, the slight power he had over her dominating intellect was exhilarating. They were so comfortable around each other, too. He felt better when she was around; it was almost like she gave off this good aura of confidence and stability or something. He could tell that she trusted him, to a higher degree than anyone else did. And she really cared about him. If anything happened to him, it would affect Daria as much as it would Janey, if not more.

He set down his guitar and turned on the TV, then lay down on the couch, putting his head on Daria's lap and handing her the remote.

There wasn't much on, so she just put in quietly on a news channel. Trent had closed his eyes; it wouldn't be long before he was asleep. Daria ran her fingers through his hair, and over his face. She smiled when he sighed. Trent turned on his side, facing away from her and she continued to massage his scalp and neck.

"How do you do that?" he mumbled.

"Do what?"

"I don't. . . It just feels so good."

Daria bent over and kissed his temple. "Your welcome." She leaned back against the couch and closed her eyes, content to feel Trent through her fingertips.

Jane came downstairs, hungry for a mid-afternoon snack, only to find both Trent and Daria passed out on the couch. She stood above them and said loudly, "My, my, Morgendorffer. My brother seems to be wearing off on you."

Daria jerked awake. "Hey, Jane."

"Hey yourself."

"What time is it?"

"About 2:30. I was gonna scrounge around for some food, you want anything?"

"No, I'm good." She looked back down at Trent, who was still dozing, and began to stroke his hair.

Jane smiled from the kitchen. Daria was so obviously happy. She may seem to have the same deadpan expression as always, and the same grim outlook on life, but to someone who knew her as well as Jane did, the change was obvious. She thought about sitting on the couch to eat and interrupting them, but her painting was calling, and lord knows, she'd spent enough time with Seth lately to allow some leniency for Daria. "Should I come back down and wake you up later?"

"No, we're getting up," mumbled Trent from the other side of the couch. He sat up slowly and looked at Daria as Jane headed up the stairs. "Hey, Daria."

"Hey, Trent."

He leaned in and kissed her slowly, his tongue barely creeping into her mouth. After a minute he pulled away. "Hey, let's go downstairs. Don't want another awkward run-in with Janey. . ."

"Yeah," she said, and followed him downstairs to the basement. It still seemed weird to be going down to the basement for the explicit reason of making-out. "But," she supposed, "I guess this is what normal teenagers have been doing for the past four years." They sat down on the couch. Daria never started anything, it just seemed too out of place. But Trent didn't seem to mind being the initiator. He reached over and gently pulled her glasses off. They kissed for a while, not going any further- just content to be together. Daria slowly pulled away and leaned her head against the couch, replacing her glasses so she could look at Trent. He leaned over, too, so their heads were even.

"Is there supposed to be more?" she asked.

"What do you mean?"

"It's just, so nice like this- is there something missing that's supposed to complicate things?"

"Oh," he chuckled, "No. I don't think so." He looked at Daria. "You wanna go for a walk?"

"Sure. Getting out sounds good."

They exited the Lane home and walked down the street in no particular direction.

"So. What are you doing after the summer?"

Daria was wondering if that question would ever be asked. She was dreading it, knowing what her reply would be and what that would mean to their relationship. "Well, I'm going to college- Raft- in late August."

"Oh." Trent knew she was going away to college, but had harbored some hope that maybe it would be the Lawndale Community College, or at least the State University. But really he knew that wouldn't happen. Daria was to smart for either of those places. "Do you know what you're going to study?"

"Not really. I'm definitely leaning towards English, but I could go in a lot of different directions."

"That's cool. Keeping doors open is a good thing."

"Yeah," she said, unsure whether to broach the subject of his future. "What about you?"

"Huh?"

"How come you never went to college?"

"Oh. I dunno really. Mom and Dad weren't around to make me go, and after four years of high school I didn't really want four more." He paused, in thought. "After that, I just got tangled up in Mystik Spiral stuff, and college seemed like so much work."

"Do you want to go to college?"

"I don't know. Eventually."

"Trent, you're almost 23. I know that's not very old, but if you keep thinking 'eventually,' you'll end up as some old geezer sitting in a class full of 18 year old freshmen."

"I know," he said, staring at the sidewalk in front of him. "It's just a lot of paperwork. And I don't know where to go, or what to study."

"That's a rather common problem."

He dragged his feet against the ground as they walked; "Yeah?"

"Yeah." Daria felt silly, and didn't want to push him into anything, but thoughts were racing through her mind. She had no idea Trent had ever even wanted to go to college. She asked the next question with caution. "Would you want to go to college this year? If I helped you with the paperwork and stuff?"

"Um," Trent knew this question was coming. Truth be told, he was kinda ready to get out of Lawndale. He was also scared shitless of what that would mean. He'd basically been doing nothing, just slacking off for the past five years, and going to college would mean he'd have to actually do work. Hell, he might even have to get a job. Maybe not. Perhaps he could squeeze some money out of his parents-if he could find them- Janey had managed it. And if Daria was willing to help him, then maybe it wouldn't be so bad. He also knew if he left it up to himself it would probably never happen. "I guess so."

"Really?"

"Yeah. I've sat in this hole of a town for long enough. I love the band, man, but even rock stars have college diplomas nowadays. Plus I don't think Mystik Spiral's really gonna make it." He looked a little dejected. He had felt that way for a while, but admitting it aloud hurt somehow. "And the college band scene is pretty good, especially around Boston." Trying to find the bright side of things had got his mind thinking. . .

The mention of Boston had not escaped Daria's notice. He wanted to go to school near her. Maybe this wasn't the end. She certainly hoped not. "Do you have a college in mind?"

"No. I don't figure I could really get in most places. Maybe the state school."

"What were your grades like in high school?"

"About the same as Janey's, I think."

"Grades aren't everything, and I could help you with the entrance essays. . ."

"Essays???"

"Yeah. It's standard to have to write at least two for every college you apply to."

"Aww, man. Essays are hard."

"Not for me, and I'm helping."

Trent smiled at Daria. He definitely would never do this on his own. They walked on in silence, and headed towards Dega Street.

"What about the band?"

"Huh? Oh. Jesse'll be bummed, but it won't be that big of a deal. Both Nick and Max seem like they've been pulling away lately; family stuff and whatnot."

"Oh!" Daria was a bit surprised. Mystik Spiral had always been the only thing Trent cared about. She was amazed he was so willing to leave it. She took his hand and they walked on, talking of other things.

***********************************************************************

Jane welcomed her brother back in the house. It was always easier to welcome someone when they came bearing gifts; this time it was the other half of the pizza he and Daria had failed to finish. "Daria head home?" she asked.

"Yeah. You hungry?" Jane was eyeing that pizza box like she'd been locked in a box for that past three years, no food but the sliced meat that was slid under the door. Trent smiled at his little sister; she had apparently inherited his appetite.

Jane lunged for the pizza box, and when she had successfully stolen it from a permanently half-conscious Trent sat down at the table and began to chow down. Trent joined her and they finished off the last piece before ten minutes had passed. Licking pizza sauce from her fingers, Jane eyed her brother, "So, lover-boy, how goes it with you and my best friend?"

Trent slouched back in his chair, happy and full. "Good."

"C'mon, I want details."

"You can get details from Daria. But I did want to ask you about it."

"About what?"

"Us. You're okay with us, right? I meant to ask you a long time ago, but it just kinda slipped my mind."

"Like so many things do." Jane smirked at him. "But no, I'm totally cool with it. As long as you're careful with her. Daria's a lot more fragile than she acts."

"I know it."

Jane gave him a look halfway between surprise and confusion, but he just shrugged her off.

"Anyway. You're going to college this fall, right?"

"That came out of nowhere, but yes. Boston Fine Arts College- mom and dad have already sent them a check."

"That's cool." He took a breath. "Daria's kinda talking me into going to college."

Jane's mouth dropped. "You? College?" She closed her mouth when Trent's brow furrowed.

"I'm not dumb, Janey."

"I know you're not. But. . . I just. . . I never thought you would go to college. It just never seemed to be your 'style'."

"I know," he said, his mind wandering back to all the work college would mean, "but Daria said she'd help. And I need to get out of Lawndale before I start rotting here."

"Couldn't have put it better myself." Jane was genuinely happy. She loved her brother a lot, and she'd always kinda worried about him wasting his life away in this pit of a town. "I'm really glad you and Daria finally hooked up. Everything's turning out so hunkey dorey."

Trent just stared blankly at her. "Hunkey dorey?"

"Everything's going so well with everybody. We're all finally getting out of Lawndale, I've got Seth, you've got Daria. . . Daria finally gets the love of her life," Jane took this opportunity to grin, "I've never seen her as happy as she's been the last couple of weeks." Her grin faded. "Makes me wonder when disaster's going to strike," she said in an overly- ominous voice.

Trent stood up. "Don't worry, Janey, it won't. Not if I can help it." He picked up the empty pizza box and put it in the trash. "I'm gonna go practice."

"Night, bro," Janey replied, and they both went there separate ways.

************************************************************************

After five weeks of practicing, napping, eating, and spending a lot of his free time with Daria filling out forms and writing essays, Trent still felt good about the whole 'college' idea. It hadn't been as hard as he thought. And Daria seemed really excited to have him applying to schools so near to hers. It had him excited, too. He really didn't want to lose her. So far, she was the best thing that had happened to him. Even though he was leaving the band, it felt like his life was finally going somewhere. He and Daria were lying side by side on their backs in his bedroom when she reminded him of that.

"Are you sure?"

"Yes, Daria. I'm sure. Why don't you believe me?"

"It's just, I. . . you've spent the past three years I've known you sleeping. . ."

"I know. It's time to move on."

She stuck her hand up in the air, looking at her fingers. "Why did you do it?"

His hand went up next to hers. "Do what?" Daria was losing him.

"Live like you've been living- the sleeping and stuff."

Oh. They brought their hands back down. That's what she meant. . . his overly-casual laid-back style. . . "Apart from the fact that I really like sleeping," he grinned, "I guess I did it because I could." He paused and turned on his side so he was looking at her. "You're only young for so long, and then people really expect you to do something. It was like the last chance I had to really be irresponsible, so why would I waste it? It was fun, but I have to move on now. . . and I'm okay with that."

Daria just stared back at him. There was logic behind the narcolepsy. The longer she knew Trent, the more she liked him. At first she was afraid that after they started going out his dead beat approach to life would wear down her affections for him, but it hadn't. Now she practically admired him for it. She admired him even more for having the sense of mind to see a bigger picture and want to get on with his life, too. She rolled on her side, facing him, and closed the distance between her mouth and his, yet again overcome with the sensations that rushed through her whenever they kissed. She pulled away and ran her fingers through his hair as they talked.

"Hey, not to get mushy on you or anything- but do you usually celebrate anniversaries?" she asked.

"Uh, I dunno. Depends, I guess. Are we having an anniversary?"

"Well, according to Quinn- our two month anniversary is this Thursday."

"How would your sister know?"

"The teeny-bopper apparently has a built in relationship clock; came as a free gift with her biological one."

Trent smiled, "I see. Do you want to do something?"

"If you can get Janey out of the house."

Trent raised his eyebrows.

"Not that. I just don't want to risk any of her 'witty' comments."

"Right."

"So get her out of the house, and I'll plan an evening, k?"

Daria obviously had something in mind. Trent was curious, but decided surprises were usually better, so he didn't ask.

************************************************************************

When Thursday arrived, Daria wasn't sure she was ready. For a moment she had even contemplated letting Quinn put makeup on her, but decided against it. She didn't need to stoop to that level. She eventually decided her efforts were enough. It was a 'two months,' not a ruby wedding anniversary. Daria thought of her plan with content as she walked to Trent's house, a large basket under one arm. She knocked on the door and Trent opened it. Daria melted, again. He had apparently found the one nice outfit he had in his closet and donned it, just for her. It was black.

Trent eyed the gigantic basket under Daria's right arm, and his eyebrow rose. She came in and set the basket on the table.

"Hey, does that thing work?" Daria pointed to the fireplace.

"Uh, I think so."

"Well, go to it, fire boy. I'm not the only one doing work here tonight." And with that she ran upstairs and ducked into the bathroom. She peered out from behind the door, and as soon as she saw he had gone outside to see if they had any firewood, she ran quickly into Trent's room. She knew he had that bag with those stupid clothes in it somewhere. She checked in the closet, under the bed, under miscellaneous piles of clothes. . . couldn't find it anywhere. She turned and circled the room, trying to think of where it might be. About ready to head downstairs and check the basement, a piece of plastic caught her eye. It was wedged between the wall and the bed. Aha. She quickly pried it out of its predicament and ran to the bathroom to change.

The skirt was unbelievably wrinkled. So was the top for that matter, but it was so tight you couldn't really tell. She looked at herself in the mirror, wondering why Trent thought this was attractive. But he did, so it was good enough for her. It was the least she could do. She had actually been happy for the past two months, and it was all because of him- so if her wearing this silly outfit would make him happy, then she would do it. She put in her little-used contacts, because if they did make-out, which was likely, she would like to be able to actually see him.

Daria headed downstairs and didn't announce her presence to Trent, who wasn't having much luck with the fire starting business. It wasn't until she started to unpack the basket on the floor behind him that he turned around. His eyes went wide at the sight, then he grinned maniacally.

"I thought you said you'd never wear it."

She looked at him, expressionless. "I know. If you tell Jane, I'll make your life a living hell. Much worse than that pitiful fire you've cooked up."

"It's not that bad." They both looked as the one flame he had managed to get started burned out, leaving the logs cold and untouched. Trent turned back to Daria and shrugged. "I guess I'll go try and find some lighter fluid."

As he started to get up, Daria pushed him back down and stood up. "You're a sad excuse for a pyro." She walked to the kitchen and grabbed a handful of paper napkins, then came back. "Were there any smaller sticks out there?"

"Uh, I don't know. I didn't really look." Daria gave him a 'you're hopeless' look and pulled him outside. "The woodpile's over there." She picked out some split chunks of wood and hurried back inside, letting him follow her. As she began to set up the kindling and napkins he just watched. "Wow. I never figured you for the woodsman. Woman. . . Campy."

"Yeah, well, my mom made me take an outdoor survival class one time, and try as I might, I couldn't seem to help from letting the experience rub off on me." It was finally all set. "Matches?"

"Uh, here," he said, handing her the matches. Daria was covered in goosebumps, and she had little splinters of wood on her shirt and in her hair. She had done it though, there in the Lane fireplace were the sturdy beginnings of an actual fire. Daria turned and looked at Trent. She wasn't wearing her glasses, either, he noticed.

As Daria stared into the eyes of her boyfriend- "God, 'boyfriend,'" she thought, "I still can't believe that *Trent* is my actual boyfriend," -she didn't know what exactly to do next. According to her loose plan they should unpack the basket and have dinner, but something about the way he was looking back at her made her want to turn off her brain completely and jump him right then and there. "Jump him?" she thought, "My god, Jane's rubbing off on me." Instead she turned the corners of her mouth up into a tiny smile and moved closer to Trent to start unpacking the basket.

When Daria began unpacking the basket next to him, Trent's eyes were torn between the food set before him, Daria's face, and her body in that outfit.

"Oh! Does your oven work?"

"Uh, yeah, I think so. But it probably hasn't been used in a while."

Daria went to the kitchen and put a pan of cold biscuits in the oven to heat them up. When she came back, Trent had finished unpacking and was grinning at her.

"This is great. Thanks."

"Yeah. It's not very 'romantic.'"

"That's okay, it's more 'us.'"

They looked at the array of food before them. There were a couple of tuna fish sandwiches, two pears, chips, pudding, pasta salad, deviled eggs, four cokes, and two slices of chocolate cake. To the side of all this there was a small baggie with chopped vegetables. Trent picked it up and looked at Daria.

"Quinn decided she wanted to help. And there are biscuits in the oven so we can have something warm."

Trent smiled back appreciatively. Daria shrugged.

"You seem to respond well to food."

Trent stood up and held Daria's shoulders. "I seem to respond well to you." He hugged her and said, "This is really nice. You didn't just do something generic."

Daria blushed. "Uh, you're welcome."

By now the fire was crackling loudly. They sat down on the carpet and began eating.

"So how come you decided we should celebrate?" Trent asked, trying not to get tuna fish all over himself.

"You don't think that our two month anniversary is the pinnacle of our pitiful lives so far? If we didn't celebrate it, we might risk turning into one of those laid-back couples who totally doesn't care about their appearance or fitting their relationship into the confines of a modern cosmopolitan pairing."

Trent laughed through his sandwich. "Yea, wouldn't want to risk that one."

Daria lay down on her side and continued on her pear. "I just thought it'd be fun. I like hanging out with you. And this is. . . different . . . There's a fire."

"And you're wearing a miniskirt."

"Don't remind me or I'll change back. This thing isn't very comfortable."

"Sorry. I do appreciate it, though."

"Anything for you," she said, sarcastically. In her head she knew it wasn't sarcastic.

"Gee, thanks."

They sat and ate for a while in silence, just looking blissfully at each other and reflecting on how good things were going until they were rudely interrupted by the alarm on the oven. Daria ran to the kitchen and grabbed the biscuits, then came back and lay beside Trent on her back, putting the warm pan on her stomach and handing him one.

"I made them. So if they taste like cardboard, we can attribute my cooking skills to my father."

Trent took a bite. "Not bad, Daria." He put his arm around her so her head was leaning on his shoulder. They did the silence thing some more, quietly munching on biscuits, trying not to get crumbs all over themselves. Eventually Trent shifted in his position.

"I gotta go get something."

Daria lifted her head and watched him leave. She shuffled off her heavy boots and warmed her feet up next to the fire. He came back down and sat beside her, then handed her a book wrapped in newspaper.

"Here."

"You didn't have to get me a present."

"It's used anyway."

Daria smiled at him, then unwrapped her book. It was an old copy of 'The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.'

"This is great, Trent, thanks," she said in earnest.

"All the books you read are so serious, I thought maybe you could use one a little more. . . light-hearted. And I thought it was pretty funny."

"I'm sure I'll like it."

She turned so she could lay down facing the fire, with her upper body propped up on her elbows, then opened the book. Trent followed suit.

Daria was about to start reading aloud when she felt a light kiss on her shoulder. She turned her head to look at him as he kissed down her arm, lifting it up when he got to her elbow- forcing her to shift her weight. She felt vaguely like Morticia Addams, but decided not to comment on it or compare Trent to Gomez- at least he was muttering in French. When he reached her palm he kissed it, then rolled over onto his back, just holding her hand in his and looking at her funny.

"What?"

Trent just looked at her, afraid to say what he was thinking. "You've gotten so beautiful since we started going out." He knew it didn't really make sense, but it was the best he could come up with.

"Huh?" Daria looked at him, unsure how to take that. Was she 'less beautiful' before? She didn't feel any different.

Trent sighed and closed his eyes for a moment, then opened them and held the side of Daria's face with his hand, caressing it with his thumb. "You know how the longer you know someone, their appearance changes with your opinion of them?"

"Kinda, I guess."

Her face was reflecting all the colors of the fire, and she had little crumbs from her biscuit around the corners of her lips. He gently brushed them away as he spoke. "Well, before. . . us. . . I didn't really look at you as anything special. Not that you weren't, that's just not how I saw things then."

"It's okay. Go on." She re-centered her weight on both elbows and crossed her legs up in the air behind her. Daria stared back into Trent's eyes, the large pools of blackness that could make her blush even still, as he grasped for words.

"And now, that I know you so much better- I think every part of you is beautiful beyond belief." Daria turned her head down so he couldn't see her face. He brought it back up with his hand as she looked at the floor, at the wall, anywhere but at his face. "I mean it. Every part of you is beautiful. Because it's part of you, and you're a beautiful person." He paused, trying to think of the best way to put this next part. "Like, you may not have 'deep, sensuous eyes with huge lashes, pools of fire that turn stormy with your mood', but they *are* beautiful, so beautiful. . .because they're part of you." That still didn't come out as romantic as he had wanted it to. He couldn't seem to make his words come out right. So he just pulled himself up and kissed both of her eyelids.

Daria lost it. Almost. That floodgate holding that had held back all her emotions since she was five was dangerously close to breaking. So she just collapsed on the floor, not willing to look at Trent- knowing for sure if she did she wouldn't be able to keep her cool. She felt his arm on her back.

"Daria?" He sounded worried. "Are you okay? I'm sorry, I didn't mean it like that."

She just shook. "No, its good," was all she could manage to say. After a minute or two, she had control of herself again. Her head lifted and her eyes met Trent's, who's looked concerned and afraid. "You're the only one I know who can do that."

"Do what?"

"Knock my stoicism out of the ballpark. It doesn't even stand a chance when you're close by." She paused, unsure of whether to go on. "I. . . I don't emote much. I can't handle it. And I've never felt as strongly about anyone or anything as I do about you. . . so when you. . . do something like that, I just-"

"Something like what?"

"Telling me I'm beautiful. I can't take that stuff. It threatens all the psychological defenses I've built up for myself."

"Oh." He grinned at her. "I don't think I can stop. I could show you instead, if that makes you feel any less awkward," he said as he slowly picked up her arm and put her fingertips on his lips, sliding her index finger into his mouth.

Daria's eyebrows went up and her eyes went wide. Trent was sucking on her finger. She wasn't sure whether to be turned on or grossed out. "Uh," she slowly pulled her hand back and wiped it on the carpet, "why don't you show me some other way. That's just strange. . . especially 'cuz we just ate biscuits."

Trent stopped, then couldn't help from laughing. It released a lot of tension, and he just lay on the floor laughing at himself and everything for a while. He stopped when he felt Daria's hand on his chest, undoing the top button of his shirt. He raised his head to look at her, but she refused to meet his eyes. So he sat up on his elbows and watched, amazed, as Daria unbuttoned his shirt. Her hand ran all over his front, pressing down firmly, following different contours on his chest. Finally he couldn't take it anymore and sat up, pulling her up, too.

Daria sat up on her knees, still unwilling to look Trent in the eyes. She focused her concentration on his lips instead. Her mouth barely had time to form an "oooh" as he threw off his shirt completely and embraced her, kissing her passionately. It was a good thing he was holding on to her, or she would have fallen over with the force he came at her with. Soon she was engrossed in their hormonal activities, and could only shudder and breathe heavily when Trent kissed down her neck and chest- farther than he ever had before, thanks to the low neck-line of the silly shirt she was wearing.

Trent ran his tongue under the edges of Daria's top, delighting in the way she trembled under his touch. He pulled away and sat down on his butt, silently asking her to sit on his lap. She started to comply, then stopped.

"Damned skirt." There was no way she could sit in that position without cutting off circulation to her legs.

Trent raised one eyebrow at her in a way that could only mean one thing.

Daria stared back at him for a minute. "Oh fine. But don't get any ideas."

Trent watched in amazement, getting more aroused by the second, as Daria stood up and slowly stripped off her skirt. Some part of him knew that no one else had ever seen her like this, or been able to reach her this way. No one else saw this side of Daria, not even Janey, and he cherished that. He didn't think she'd ever opened up to anyone like she did to him. He may not be inexperienced, but she was- and that she trusted him so much was amazing. Prizing that information, he took care to no and do anything that would hurt her or frighten her. Trent had a chance to make her sexual exploration enjoyable, and he was all for that.

Daria's cheeks blushed furiously in embarrassment and shame, causing her to hide her face in her hands for a moment before she could gain her composure again. She took a couple of deep breaths, telling herself over and over that this was okay. A part of her felt dirty and 'smutty,' curse the word, for doing this. Luckily, a bigger part of her rational mind was reminding her that world was a liberal place now; starchy behavioral standards and unrealistic moral values were no longer in place- there was no reason for her to pretend she was some Jackie-O teen prude. There was no harm in what she was doing, in fact it was natural. She cared for Trent, Trent cared for her, and they were physically attracted to each other. Why shouldn't they show it in a physical way? And she trusted him to not go farther than she wanted to go. Besides, they were now both consenting adults. She didn't see any real reason why she shouldn't go with it. Her hormones obviously agreed with this conclusion.

Daria breathed in one last deep breath, then uncovered her face, looked at Trent, and smiled. She lowered herself so she was sitting directly in front of him, her legs curled around his back. He waited patiently, just staring back at her, until she took his face in her hands, and pulled it to meet her own in a kiss. She wrapped her arms around his neck and continued exploring his mouth with her tongue when she felt his hands start smoothing up her legs from her knees, then up her sides. She could feel a heat and nervousness growing inside her as his hands slid up over her chest.

Trent traced her collar bone with his fingertips, the slowly brushed his hands down her front again, lightly following the contours of her breasts as they went down. He felt her back arch forward towards him, and slid his hands around her, pulling her closer to him. Her kisses were improving, often distracting him from the caresses he wanted to placed on her unmasked body. He pulled his mouth away from hers, planting kisses up her jawline until he was placing open-mouthed kisses on the area directly behind her ear.

Daria sighed, and she could feel the corners of his mouth turn up as it made its way down her neck. Unsure of what to do with her hands, she ran them up into Trent's hair. She almost envied guys in that sense. . . their hands were always busy. Unless she wanted to go after his pants, she could only pull his hair and rub his back. "Oh well," she thought, "his loss." She wasn't really all that concerned- and couldn't give it much more thought as her attention was being diverted to the sensations rushing through her. Trent kissing the tip of her breast through the thin fabric had destroyed any theoretical contemplation.

Then he stopped. "Uh, let's go upstairs. I'm not sure when Janey will be home."

"Okay," she said, running her hands up and down his chest, and slightly underneath the edge of his pants, "the whole making-out in front of the fire thing was getting too cliché anyway."

They both managed to get up, and surveyed the mess they had made of the living room, deciding to leave the food out- positive Jane would eat it when she got home. Daria did remember to pick up her skirt, though, not wanting her best friends insinuating comments to dominate their conversation for the next two weeks. She turned and looked at Trent.

"Okay, ready."

He came and crouched in front of her. She took the hint and she clamored onto his back and hung on to his neck so he could give her a piggyback ride up to his bedroom.

************************************************************************

Both clad only in white underwear, Daria lay halfway on top of Trent, eyes closed, feeling his chest move up and down with every breath he took. His hand felt nice- comforting- as it smoothed over her hair and down her bare skin.

"What was wrong earlier, when you hid your face in you hands?"

Daria sighed out onto his chest. "Nothing. Just overcoming my inhibitions."

"About me?"

"No, just about our actions in general."

"Why should you have inhibitions?"

"Easy for you to say. I'm the girl," she paused, "I feel like if I willingly give into my own physical impulses, it's wrong or dirty or something. I just had to take a moment to remind myself that that wasn't true, and that I didn't need to conform to those minds of thinking."

Trent squeezed her into him. "You shouldn't ever feel ashamed about that. Physical connection is part of who we are. Everybody wants to be touched, to be held. Without that, we wouldn't be human."

"So deep, Trent."

He smiled. "Yeah, it happens sometimes. Somewhere between the napping, theories and beliefs kinda work their way in."