Impersonal Venus: A GTS Interlude
by Dennis

The crowd was roaring as GTS left the stage. Thursday nights at LL Wolf's weren't as big as Saturdays, but the Girls had a strong following and drew pretty big crowds. And the load-out usually took only about a half-hour, so people hung around after the show.

Daria, leaning on the bar with a Sam Adams behind her, sighed. We've got to get a demo. She understood the importance of communicating with fans, but she still had no patience for idle chitchat and preferred to have more than her personality to offer.

A guy sidled up next to her, but she paid him no mind as she tried to pick out her bandmates in the crowd. Quinn was easiest. She was near the stage, surrounded by a circle of guys, which Daria found a little worrisome. Quinn knew better than to drink around that many guys, but the potential for something bad was always there.

Jane took longer, but eventually Daria saw her at the other end of the bar, talking to a preppie who looked vaguely familiar. Curious, she abandoned her spot, and her near-empty beer, to see what was going on. Spotting her, Jane made an expansive gesture, causing three nearby people to duck. "Daria! Come on over!"

Daria rolled her eyes. "That's what I was doing." She noted as she slid in next to them that Jane's eyes were more than a little bloodshot.

"What's up?" Jane asked, oblivious to the disapproval in her friend's eyes.

"Not much," Daria said dryly. "Surprising, since it's a whole half-hour since we've seen each other."

Jane grinned, letting the sally pass. The preppy guy turned around at the sound of voices. He was tall, with sloped shoulders and the kind of oily smile and perfect hair that screamed "future politician." Jane gave him a smile, and gestured toward Daria. "Tim this is Daria. Daria, this is Tim Mathis."

Daria froze at the name, suddenly realizing why he looked so familiar. "Hello, Tim," she said coldly. "I'm surprised to see you here. Aren't frat parties and drunken sorority girls more your thing?"

"Hey, Daria," he said with a sigh. "Not as surprising as seeing you here. If I hadn't seen you on stage, there's no way I would have believed you were here, much less in a band."

"You two know each other?" Jane said, sounding puzzled.

"I've had the displeasure, yes." Daria said dryly.

"I dated her roommate from freshman year," Tim said.

"And asked me out while you were together," Daria added. "She showed up on my doorstep in sophomore year, bawling her eyes out when she finally found out how much you cheated on her."

"I'm sure you were a huge help too," Tim said, sneering. "What with empathy being your strong suit and all."

"Robin spent half of freshman year telling me she thought you were the one. Meanwhile, you were going through more girls than a seedy strip club in Vegas!"

"Well, I've changed my ways."

"Oh," Daria cocked an eyebrow, disbelief evident in her voice. "You're a one-woman man, now?"

He gave her a tight grin. "I don't lie about being faithful anymore. I already told Jane I'm not looking for anything steady."

Jane nodded, and grabbed his arm. "Yeah, Daria. We're just gonna have some fun. It's nothing serious."

Daria rolled her eyes again. "Be sure to use protection. Full body protection."

Jane's expression hardened. "Daria, I thought we were past you acting like a bitch every time I hook up."

Anger welled up at Jane's words. Daria pushed it down ruthlessly. After all, Jane is right. "It's not that you're hooking up, it's that you're hooking up with Raft's answer to Otter from Animal House."

Tim grinned and shoved out a hand to Daria. "Eric Stratton, Rush Chairman. Damn glad to meetcha." Jane chuckled. Daria didn't.

"Listen, do you need anything Daria?" Jane asked. "Cos we're going to get out of here soon."

Biting back several retorts, Daria shrugged. "Not really. You know where Sandi is?"

"Haven't seen her since we split a joint after the show," Jane said. "But I think she might have left with someone." Daria's frown deepened at that, so Jane added, "She's fine, Daria. Don't worry so much."

"It's just that I'd like to get famous before we start recruiting Yoko Onos to break us up," Daria deadpanned.

"No fear," Jane said. "I'm not looking for commitment. I'm young and wild, and I feeling having fun tonight."

"Fine. You go have fun. I'll pick up some topical ointment in the morning." Daria headed back to her beer as Jane and Tim headed for the door.

With a bit of effort, Daria found her spot. The bartender knew the Girls pretty well, and had a beer in front of her before she had time to blink. She started a swig, when a familiar voice next to her said, "Jane ditch you for a guy again?"

Turning, she almost spit her beer. There stood Tom Sloane, a little older, a little neater, but clearly and recognizably Tom. "I don't believe this," she said, shaking her head. "What the hell are you doing here?"

He laughed, "Not the greeting I expected from my second-ever girlfriend." He made a show of looking her over before adding, "Though maybe I should have."

"Sorry, Tom," she said. "It's just— Never mind. What are you doing here?"

"My frat has an exchange with Crestmore every year. They come down for a week; we go up for a week. The week's almost over, so they decided to get a head start on the partying."

"Fraternities," she muttered. "Bunch of animals."

He laughed. "I won't argue. A couple of the guys said we should come here because 'the band was really hot.' I think some of them are over there with your sister."

"Figures." She took another swig of beer. "Jane just went off with an Otter clone, but I don't think Quinn will be interested in Boon, Pinto, or Flounder."

"I hope that doesn't make me D-Day. I'd hate for my whereabouts to be unknown."

She cracked a half-smile. "I see you more as Hoover. You're looking well, Tom." He was, having somehow added an inch or two since senior year and filled out. The beer gut that many college guys picked up was noticeably absent. And he still had those dreamboat green eyes.

"Thanks," he said. "College life agrees with me. I'm learning some useful tools for the real world, and having a blast. Of course, I'm not sleeping much, but hey, I'll sleep when I'm dead, right? But you—" he trailed off. "I nearly died of shock when I saw you up on stage with Quinn and Jane. Of all the things I expected you to be doing, playing in a band was nowhere on the list." Daria's darkening expression softened when he added. "And you guys are amazing. Really! The originals were just—I mean, wow. Those are some fabulous lyrics."

"Are you flattering me, Tom?" Daria's voice was still flat, but the smile on her face invited him to flatter her some more.

"A little," he chuckled. "But only a little. You guys are really, really good."

She could feel the tension growing between them, but it was a good kind of tension. She suddenly wondered why she'd been so afraid to sleep with this man.

"And you know what else?" He leaned forward, voice a whisper. "The guys were right. The band was really, really hot."

"They were probably talking about the singer," Daria said, verbal walls going up even as the emotional ones came down.

"They were," Tom said, "but I prefer the guitarist." With that, he planted a light kiss on her lips, making her whole body tingle. "You want to get out of here?" he asked.

Oh, yes! "Let me check in with Quinn," she said. He nodded and followed as she headed for the stage. One of the guys, seeing Tom with Daria, flashed him a thumb's-up sign, which he ignored, much to Daria's relief.

"Daria!" Quinn said. "Come and meet the—" Sudden shock painted her doll face. "Oh my God! Is that Tom Sloane?"

"In the flesh," he said with a smirk. "It's good to see you, Quinn."

"Tom and I wanted to catch up on old times," Daria said. "Will you be OK getting home?"

"What about unloading?"

"Tom'll help with that." She gave him a surreptitious punch in the arm to keep him from speaking.

Quinn's sudden smile showed that she'd clearly noticed. "No problems, Daria. Go have fun."

Daria grabbed her sister's arm, and whispered a word in her ear. "Cab?"

Quinn nodded, affection now clear in her smile. "Of course," she whispered back. "Hypocrite," she added, and laughed at Daria's blush.

They left the bar arm-in-arm and headed for the van. In the act of opening the door, she paused. "If we're going to do this, we should talk. I'm not interested in a long-distance relationship, or any relationship right now."

A silent moment stretched. Did I just blow this? Tom's voice quickly dispelled her concern. "Makes sense to me. I'm not interested in a relationship either."

Her eyebrow cocked in question almost in spite of itself.

"Oh, I've dated, but just casually. I don't want to fall in love right now, and no one's persuaded me otherwise."

"Me neither," she said, as she climbed in. As she started the car, she added. "But I want you very badly right now."

"And I want you, too. So what are we waiting for?"

She laughed as she put the van in gear and headed back to her place.

In the end, Tom did help her with the load-out, but not until they'd had a hell of a lot of fun together. What with one thing and another—and another and anotherthey'd ended up blowing off classes. He finally left a little after noon, with a good-bye kiss and a promise to let her know the next time he was in town. Jane turned up a little after, the goofy smile on her face mirroring the one on Daria's. They exchanged apologies and split a pot of coffee.

Neither was surprised to hear the key in the lock or see Quinn's frame in the doorway. "You won't believe what Sandi—" she started to say, then saw the matching goopy expressions on her bandmates faces. "Ewwwwwww!" she moaned, and was gone.

It was a long time before Daria and Jane stopped laughing.

Author's note:

This one's for Brother Grimace, who asked me during the beta for "Closets Are for Hang-ups" why four hot college girls wouldn't be getting any action. There wasn't room in that story, but it's still a valid question, so here's at least part of the answer. I don't expect it will be the only part.

This interlude is actually set between the fifth and sixth GTS stories, but, of course, I haven't actually written the fifth one yet. Give me time. The title is adapted from the lyrics to "Be My Yoko Ono" by Barenaked Ladies, and the Animal House references are for fun and because I thought of Otter when I came up with the idea. The Tim/Tom thing is coincidental but effective. Tim Mathis is a shout out to the original Otter: Tim Matheson.

Disclaimer: Daria and all characters are copyright MTV 1997–2002. I own nothing and am merely along for the ride.