Trent Lane and the show Daria are owned by MTV/Viacom. The rest is mine, or is somehow based on a semi-obscure myth Pygmalion. Written 2000. The Di and Rob of this fic are in no way meant to resemble a Di and Robbie of the fanfic community; this just happens to be a very different, less happy Di and Rob who are totally different characters.
Since the myth this crossover is based on is far more obscure than I thought, here's the deal: this story is roughly based on the Greek/Roman myth Pygmalion. There was a musical called My Fair Lady based on it too. I challenge you to look it up and figure the story out. Call it my recommended reading program. ;) Also, this is my one and ONLY crossover and ONLY Mary Sue fic I will ever, ever write in combo. It's for fun, and I hope you have fun along with me.
The Slacker Within
Di saw the bad tidings coming from the moment Rob pulled her chair out for her at the restaurant table. She probably identified what was to come well before their final date; she noticed several weeks ago the signs that a breakup was on the horizon. Rob exhibited all classic indicators, and she was far too familiar with the patterns: the decrease in phone calls, less eye contact, more pre-emptions from both partners, and for the men that were the most attached to her, the drop-off in sex. Rob displayed ALL of these symptoms, along with a marked reluctance to end the relationship -- likely because of their history as high school classmates. He'd even bought her roses,and sent her a necklace by FedEx the previous week. He'd likely been talking himself in and out of ending the relationship for weeks.
As she opened the menu, she thought each item might as well read "breakup imminent" but evidently the menu did not need to confirm her well-developed expertise. Even though she knew herself to soon again be a dumpee, she felt a little guilty. Rob was about to be a breakup in a dynasty of breakups, a sign that Di really was doing something wrong. At least with him, their mutual angst and shared history should have dragged the relationship out into a reasonably unhealthy zone. Make it look like they'd given themselves an honorable chance by decimating each other through passive-agressive behavior like every other failing couple they knew.
Rob seated himself across from her and took a searching look at her face. Di could sense his hesitation; his uncertain expression hadn't changed since he was fourteen, no matter how he hid behind his image as a corporate lawyer. Were it not for her knowledge of Rob's childhood personality, her non-profit butt would never have hit that restaurant chair.
Di folded her menu and leaned towards Rob, sliding her glasses deliberately down her nose. She looked comically intimdating with her youthful face and her sharp eyes peering at him over the gold frames. "If you break up with me now, I'll pick up the check. If you wait until desert, you get it."
Rob froze in surprise over his menu, and Di gave him one of her slow, deliberate blinks. She knew the man never pictured the unpleasantness of the evening going so pleasantly. She savored a rare moment of catching Rob off-guard; she dated him because of his canniness, and because of her now-ancient crush on him in high school. His blond hair and brown eyes gave an illusory impression of boyish innocence, easily blown when he tore the hell out of any South American government that tried to sue his German auto client. Not handsome, but worthy, in a still distant-untouchable way. Di wished she she were capable of providing the attention Rob deserved. Something held her back, no matter what she attempted.
Rob laughed, issuing a short bark that ended Di's meditation on the man before her. "How about we break up over the main course and split the tab?" he offered. He smiled that "charm her panties off" smile that merely amused Di where normal women melted.
Di smiled back. "Deal." They shook on the agreement.
For the first half of the meal, Di thought she would escape with a light breakup, but Rob, dogged in all his endeavors, maneuvered a confrontation. Not that he would ever make a scene, but he had a disconcerting ability to offer insight into her character that Di rarely felt ready to deal with. She was the civil rights activist and local Wiccan priestess; she often gave insights and until she met Rob again she managed to avoid having any thoughts on herself or how she affected her own life. She hated Rob's sharp evaluations
of her, because even when they were only half-right, they were RIGHT.
Apropos of what Di felt was nothing, somewhere between the removal of the main course and the arrival of dessert, Rob said, "I want to tell you why."
Di tried to shrug off the conversation. "Sometimes things don't work out, and I'm a difficult woman -"
Rob cut her off with a raised eyebrow, then lifted his glass of wine. "This wine is Di R," he began, and Di knew he'd likely rehearsed this. "A striking woman with a memorable flavor and full body that enhances her distinct delightful qualities. A deepened association with this woman, however, reveals a nagging bitter undertaste that lovers of this vintage, alas, cannot ignore."
Di took a sip of her own wine and gave him her down-the-glasses stare. He was a lawyer, otherwise she would have kicked him in the shins already. Too bad she could not afford a settlement on her salary. "After a few glasses of the elixir that is Di R, the inscrutable hidden flavor rises as bile to the top of the senses and even the most ardent connoisseur must set aside his passion, for no man wants to digest that the rare find of his affections, the headiest heavenly qualities, is poisoned by her love for another man." Rob drained his glass.
Di peeked under the table, wondering if she could kick him without bruising. She recognized by a subtle patch to the knee she examined he was wearing an old suit, and considering his vanity regarding his public appearance, she guessed he'd expected her to respond to his speech violently. That patronizing prick. She almost laughed. "Who," Di asked, leaning towards him to let him take a look at the "fine vintage" he was in the process of parting with, "Am I in love with?"
Aside from Rob and people she knew on the Internet who were fellow Daria fans, her life revolved solely around work -- and the people she worked with she sure as hell would never date. The down side of working for the ACLU was that she had to work just as hard to defend the fundamentalists who would burn her at the stake as she did the peace-loving open-minded types. The former did clear a path for the latter and were responsible for her freedom, but that did not mean she ever wanted to socialize.
Rob managed to surprise her. "Trent Lane. The musician from that cartoon you watch."
Di sat back in her chair, her sharp blue eyes no longer frying Rob on his seat. She swirled her wine glass and gazed past him thoughtfully. "Huh," she said.
Di watched the TV blankly for an hour before she realized she forgot to break out a carton of Haagen-Dazs. She thought she'd be more depressed at the failure of an eight month relationship that came packaged with prior history and emotional insight. Instead, she just wanted to watch more Daria episodes. She pulled out the tape she'd made of episodes that featured Trent
and popped it in the VCR.
While the tape rolled, she thought about what Rob said before he dropped her off at her apartment that evening. "I'm sorry Di. All your other weirdness I'm used to, and kind of like now that I know you. But you're in love with a cartoon character, and while Trent Lane seems like a cool guy, he is fictional and I can't handle that." He'd kissed her on the cheek, a cool departure. Di noticed he'd also slipped a business card in her jacket pocket - she'd rolled her eyes and thrown it away. She was neither a South American country nor a German car company.
Rob was as intense as she was, often so focused on work even when he was States-side that he forgot her. She was surprised he even knew about her little obsession, and ruefully admitted their relationship had outlasted her average because of his international travel habits. He probably took longer to notice how she made a priority of her favorite show.
So she watched Daria episodes nightly. So she wrote fanfics when work didn't demand press releases due five minutes ago. So her computer screensaver, wallpaper and sound clips all circled around Trent Lane and Mystic Spiral. So she'd canceled their six month anniversary dinner to watch Is It Fall Yet, and discussed the van scene for sixteen hours with other Daria fans on the Internet, forgetting to call Rob and having no explanation when he appeared at her door the next morning.
Okay, maybe that last bit with the movie was a little pathological.
As she watched the ending of Jane's Addition, a bitter lump rose from Di's stomach. Perhaps Rob was right. She loved a man she could not possibly have, and all other romantic prospects in her life were somehow thwarted because of her subconscious desire for an ideal -- that ideal expressed in the charmingly flawed Trent Lane. Leaving the tape running, Di rolled off her couch, making no noise in her sweats and socks. She grabbed a lighter off the kitchen counter that was located next to the couch, and with a thought focused in her mind, she grabbed pink and white candles from her kitchen cabinet and headed toward her bedroom.
Di settled herself into a lotus position in front of her bedroom altar and lit the pink and white candles, then placed them neatly in two holders she kept on the low table, on either side of the conch shell she used for a focal point. She closed her eyes, took a few deep breaths, said "Hail Venus!" aloud and then began her internal monologue:
Why oh why all these romantic failures, why oh why all these lonely hours, struggles and people that just suck? She worked so hard for Pagans and non-Pagans everywhere; because of her more people of all beliefs were free to pray, speak, gather and even love how, what, where, when and whom they wished. Her work was stressful, and her own beliefs and lifestyle were challenged constantly. All she wanted was a little happiness, a reward for serving the gods and humanity as a priestess hidden in corporate clothes. All the things she did for humanity and the gods alike, and what was my reward?
The self pity rained upon her, and Di demanded of the conch shell representing Venus energy sitting quietly on her altar, "And what have you done for me lately?"
Both candle flames jumped an inch as Di completed her dangerous question. Were she not so wrapped in her own self-pity, she might have noticed on some cosmic, underlying level, a little anger, a little sarcasm. She was too far gone in wallowing to care. "Why don't you reward my work, dammit?" she demanded. "You're the Goddess, you can do anything. Give me Trent Lane!"
Through a thousand wormholes and two lefts after that last black hole, Venus and Cupid sat in a Good Time Chinese restaurant, eating chow mein and watching Di's rant through a video screen embedded in the table between them.
Venus chuckled grimly, and her son smiled his approval. "I think," she told her son, "We'll give this little priestess EXACTLY what she wants."
Cupid set down his chopsticks and stroked his taser. "I'll be standing by."
Di crawled out of bed still dressed in the sweats she wore the night before. She felt strangely groggy; the wine she drank was probably a port. She'd misjudged her capacity for alcohol more than once, and since Rob determined the content last night and they'd broken up, he probably went for a higher proof than usual to keep her a little more receptive to his bad news. The combination of wine and self-pity before her evening meditation definitely contributed to her bizarre dreams the night before. She trudged into the living room and opened the curtains behind the TV set, cringing as light filled the room. Ugh.
The TV was emitting static, and Di remembered that she'd left the tape playing when she'd done her moping trudge to her bedroom the night before. That would explain her bizarre dream; her subconscious disliked television and produced a weird-ass dream of her world becoming a cartoon dimension -- only the television remained three dimensional.
In the morning light, her apartment appeared stable, displaying all the proper angles and depth. Di took a bleary look at the clock: the number-shaped blurs appeared to read 2pm. Good thing she made no Saturday appointments in anticipation of Rob's news. She was still surprised at her lack of depression about the breakup itself, but she'd chew on that along with her cereal. Besides, her boss mentioned vacation time with Congress out of session, and she'd need to look around for a vacation spot where she would indeed be left alone. Some place with Internet access and cable, so she'd never miss an episode of Daria.
Di turned off the TV and surveyed her living room. Every item was in its proper location of chaos - the books strewn on the floor were strewn right where she wanted them, her yoga mat was in its proper crazy angle, and her checkbook and purse were in a sloppy pile near the coat closet. Something was not right, however. Something was different. Couch. Di rubbed her eyes and took a harder look. Guy on couch.
She went to her bedroom, grabbed her glasses off her nighstand and came back to the couch to peer over the edge. Guy she did not know on couch. All of Di's faculties returned at once.
"What the Hel!?" she shouted into Strange Guy's ears.
He opened one eye. "Ow," he said.
"Who are you?" she demanded.
Strange Guy opened the other eye. "Isn't it early?"
Di unceremoniously tipped him off the couch. As her common sense returned, she realized that if he was armed, he probably would have shot her by now.
Strange Guy scrambled back onto the couch. His ability to cling to the slipping pillows was impressive. "What was that for?"
"Because I don't know you and you're in my home!" Di raged.
While he clutched the couch in anticipation of Di updending him again, Strange Guy took a look around Di's now-sunny apartment. "You're right. I've never been here before." He half-smiled at her. "I'm Trent Lane, by the way. I don't think we've met."
The adrenaline in Di's body cleared her head of all the self-pity and depression chemicals that were contributing to her prior grogginess. This stranger did look like Trent Lane were he a physical person, but how was it possible that such a being would land in her apartment, right after - oh. "Haha," Di said, sounding anything but amused. "Rob is SUCH an asshole. Couldn't allow for an easy breakup, oh no. Just had to hire you to get one last nasty jab in, the prick."
The presumed Trent raised an eyebrow. "Who's Rob?"
"Who's Rob," Di mocked. "As if you don't know. Very fucking funny. Now give me back the keys to my apartment, and if you're quick, I'll pay your cab fare home."
The stranger looked down at her open palm. "Lady," he said after a patient breath, "It's early for me. And things get weird this early. But I'm pretty sure I don't know what the hell you're talking about." He pushed Di's hand down, seeming not to notice the look on her face as a spark went up her arm. "I don't know how I got here, I don't know where I am." He stood up and stretched. "But if you've got coffee and food, I'll be happy with it."
Di evaluated the man in front of her. The earrings and tattoos certainly matched that of her cartoon hero's. The deep brown eyes were as she'd imagined them on her side of reality. And the request for food was entirely in character. She pivoted, and so-called Trent followed her to the kitchen. She pulled a box of mac and cheese off her shelf, and a pot from where it hung on the wall. She handed them to the self-proclaimed Trent. "Go to town," she said, and excused herself to make a private phone call from her bedroom.
The phone rang once and Rob picked up. At least he had the decency to give himself a little mourning time, or at least to cover any results of rebounding. "Very funny," she said without preamble.
"What?" Rob was awake and confused. She'd probably pulled him away from some important brief about brakes failing.
"The guy you let into my apartment last night. Very fucking funny."
Rob sounded genuinely confused. Just as confused as he pretended to be after he'd helped her drop a vat of cockroaches on Megan Noonan (a total Quinn) in the 9th grade after she'd mocked Di for wearing the wrong brand of jeans; oh he was never present for such an incident. "I didn't let anyone in your house last night," he insisted.
"There is a guy eating macaroni and cheese in my kitchen. He claims to be Trent Lane, of all people. And you're saying you have NOTHING to do with it, after what you said last night?"
"Di, you've lost it." Rob hung up on her.
Di called anyone and everyone local who knew anything about her mini-obsession with Trent Lane. No leads. When she hashed out all the details, nothing added up: Rob, she remembered, gave her her keys back last night. Her apartment had a state-of-the-art security system, maintained heavily by her employers. Few burglars break in just to sleep on couches, and if the guy in her kitchen meant harm, he'd have done it by now. Daria was popular with a specific type of people, and that demographic was unlikely to deliberately embrace the look of ANY of the characters, though an anti-fashion revolt might prove possible.
She sat on her bed and looked over her bedroom, hoping she might see some clue from that perspective as to what the hell was going on. From where she sat, she gazed at her altar and then she finally noticed the one detail that gave her a hint what happened.
"Uh oh," she said. The conch shell, facing spiral down the night before, was facing spiral up. Di rarely moved the shell, and did not during her meditation.
According to her studies on Roman lore, if the conch shell was turned up, Cupid was present in the temple.(1)
Her meditation. Oh no. Di really had the original Trent Lane in her kitchen.
Trent, undoubtedly Trent, stood in her kitchen, eating mac and cheese. A lazy grin spread across his face. "Hey," he said. "Are you burning patchouli or something? For some reason I feel really good."(2)
Di mentally shook a fist at Cupid and Venus. I know I deserve this, she thought, but you have GOT to be kidding me!
Di tried to resist the temptation of a Trent whose motivated attraction vibes were tasered on, but she broke down when Trent began washing all the dishes in her sink. She never could resist men who did housework voluntarily.
Okay, she admitted in silent capitulation, Trent was a gift from the gods. Like Pandora.
Trent wiped his hands dry on a dish towel and went back to the couch, stretching out across the piece of furniture. "Want to have that talk now?" He tapped at the spare pillow-length remaining with his foot. He gave her the "charm her" smile, and Di melted nicely. "I'd serenade you but I don't have my guitar."
That was indeed a gift of the gods. "Do you know how you ended up here?" Di queried, hoping for some paradigm in a loophole where she could still just pay his cab fare and sign up with a therapist.
"Not a clue. Went to bed after a gig with my band, woke up here. Never happens -- I'm careful. I've got a sister to take care of an all."
She almost said "I know" but Di bit it back quickly. "No idea whatsoever?"
"None," Trent shrugged. "Last time this happened, I met a really kick-ass band."(3)
You bet they were, Di thought to herself dryly. "No idea whatsoever?"
Trent mulled for a moment. "Probably a wormhole behind a Chinese restaurant or something."
Di swore on the spot never to eat at Good Time Chinese restaurant. EVER. "And that wormhole landed on my couch?"
Trent smirked. "For a minute I did think I'd found a pile of socks I'd lost." He pushed a foot forward and tagged Di's knee.
"You'd never think a corporate type would be so messy."
Di pulled away from him. "How'd you know that?"
"High heels by the door. Cell phone and beeper on the coffee table. Laptop by your desktop computer. You're not allowed to get out of touch much."
Di looked ruefully at the table that gave away her life. "Guess the matching drapes ruled out the possibility I'm a hooker."
Trent laughed, a rich sound cut sorrowfully short by his cough. "Good one."
After a moment of silence, Trent ventured a question Di hoped to avoid. "Why'd you freak out when I said my name?"
Di paused another moment, and then asked, "Trent, do you drink?" She hoped so. She went to the kitchen and returned with a bottle of wine and a glass for herself, and a beer for Trent -- there was still a case left that she bought for Rob after they'd been dating three months.
"No, I avoid that stuff as long as my sister's in high school. I've got to set an example, you know."
Di set the beer in front of him. "You might want to make an exception."
She popped another tape into the VCR, poured herself a glass of wine and downed it, settled next to Trent and hit "play".
Trent wound up drinking three beers, eating a hidden can of Pringle's, a container of Haagen Dazs and at one point bitter baking chocolate. At the end of the six hour tape, Trent asserted: "Woah."
Di met his sidelong glance in silent agreement.
"So what do we do now?" Trent asked. "Obviously, I don't belong here." He gave Di a direct, meaningful look. "Wish I did."
Di blushed. She was going to ride this, since she no longer felt like questioning Trent's calm acceptance at finding himself in another dimension. "I wish you did, too," she admitted.
She basked for a moment, then Trent blazed her with an all-perceiving stare. "You know how I got here, don't you?"
Di sighed, letting her red hair hang across her face. "I've got a guess," she admitted.
Trent swung his legs off the couch and scooted into her space, taking her hand. "go ahead and tell me," he said. "At this point, everything is believable."
A few hours later, Trent sat beside Di in front of her bedroom altar. "So you think the goddess Venus sent me to you?" Trent was clarifying for the fourth time.
Di felt slightly accused. He'd handled the Wicca talk, something he'd already handled in a creative community, and he took a little longer to handle the witch talk -- especially the "no, I'm NOT paranormal" speech. Despite her lifetime devotion to handling such questions while defending the rights of those who wished to hang her or worse, she was feeling frustrated Trent wasn't seeing things quite her way. "You SAID you'd believe me," She unconsciously pouted.
Trent placed a reassuring hand on her knee. "I do believe you," he affirmed. "It's just a little bit more stuff than I expected." When Di failed to respond with a forgiving look, he leaned over and kissed her on the lips. Di looked into his eyes, startled at the contact. Trent repeated, "I do."
Di closed her eyes for a moment, savoring the oregano texture of Trent's kiss. She knew Trent's presence was a sign she was in trouble with her patron goddess, but like a woman starved for chocolate, she embraced Trent for another taste of his divine trouble. Trent pulled away at the end of their second kiss to look in her face. "Are you casting a spell on me?" The twinkle in his eye betrayed his deadpan.
Still, her response was automatic. "My kind of witches don't do spells like that -"
Trent chuckled, earning himself a glare that he promptly covered with another kiss. "You've told me several times that there's nothing supernatural about you," said Trent as he covered her cheeks, lips, eyelids and forehead with kisses, "But there is something magic about you."
The kisses were delicious, delivered from her deepest fantasy. But Di was one of a thousand grown-up Darias, and her ever-present rational side -- a difficulty in her work as a priestess, a salvation in her work as an activist -- asserted itself. Oh she hated herself, and her rushing endorphins hated her more. "Trent, stop."
Trent withdrew his caresses immediately, moving away from her. Di dug her nails into herself. If only more men were so responsive when the brakes were pulled! "This would be fine if we knew you could stay," she said. "But we both know you can't."
Trent rubbed the back of his neck. "You're right," he admitted. They both gazed at the altar blankly a few moment, and Trent broke the silence. "Why did you ask for me?"
Di no longer needed to gather nerve. Hours ago, she would have dreaded the question, but now, she'd been fulfilled as much as Trent was able to fulfill her. "My boyfriend dumped me yesterday because he thinks I'm in love with you. He was weirded out at sharing my emotional self with a fictional character."
Trent half-smiled. "I can see him balking at sharing you. Bet he'd be surprised at this."
"Very," Di agreed, coloring slightly at Trent's compliment.
"He's got a point, though," Trent offered after a few more moments contemplation. "I used to fixate on crushes on actresses and models and stuff when I was avoiding how I felt about my girlfriends."
Di raised her head. "You did?"
"Yeah. I even dumped one girl for awhile because I told her I had to keep myself free for models. You know musicians only dated models." Trent looked ashamed.
Di grinned. "I'm sure I'm a model of something..."
Trent laughed. "You're a model of uniqueness. I hope my sister's friend really does grow up to be like you."
Trent's comment felt weird. "Okay, feeling jealous of a cartoon character is too much for me," Di stated.
Trent winked. "We just won't talk about THAT." After a moment, he re-directed the conversation. "But you know that I'm not really right for you spell by any weird love-god or not," he pointed out. "I'm here because you're missing something big."
Di raised an eyebrow, but kept silent, not wanting to disrupt Trent's vibe. "You're doing what I used to do, and you end up missing big stuff. But I get the feeling that it's not really romantic stuff you're missing."
Di picked up the conch shell, touching it for the first time since she'd built the altar. "What am I missing?" she asked, half- rhetorically.
"Fun," said Trent. "Bet if I hadn't showed up today, you'd be on that computer reading stuff about me, or finding an excuse to be at work."
Trent, Di realized, wasn't a damn bit oblivious. Trent grasped her chin, turning her head so Di's eyes would meet his. "The guy that dumped you? Bet you good money he dumped you because he loves you."
Di barely noticed the tears streaming down her face until Trent wiped them away. "I understand that," he told her as he gathered her in his arms, "Because I love you, too."
The phone ringing woke her from her peaceful sleep. Di stretched her arm out to pick up the extension. No phone. Carpet. Waitaminnit. Di re-oriented herself about the time the answering machine picked up. She was lying in front of her altar, two pillows propped under her head. What the hell? Weird, weird dream. Then she saw the note tucked under the conch shell.
It's been fun, and I will miss you. You're a cool, cool lady. Just remember to relax. Embrace your slacker within, and everything'll all work out.
Trent Lane, she mused. My slacker within. Di tucked the note into a book she kept for special correspondence. That was weird, she thought, mentally addressing Venus and her son, but totally anti-climactic.
Venus grabbed Cupid's arm as he fingered his taser. "Not now," she advised him.
"But did you hear what she said?" Cupid was furious.
Venus gave her son a serene smile. "She's a foolish mortal. Leave her be," she said firmly.
"And if she doesn't learn?" he demanded.
"We'll send her Upchuck."
Trent Lane walked through the front door to Casa Lane, and was greeted by the sight of his sister and Daria seated on the couch.
"Where have you been?" Jane demanded. "I needed to do grocery shopping!"
Trent gave his sister a half smile. "Had a gig," he told her.
Daria chimed in on him, and he guessed Jane was worried. "The other guys in the band were looking for you. What gig did you have?"
Trent smiled down at her. He'd had quite the vision of what she could grow up to be. "A special gig," he told her.
On impulse, he hugged Jane, kissed Daria on the top of her head, and went to bed.
(1)This is complete bull. I made this up.
(2)Patchouli is known as a sexual stimulant in certain male personality types.
(3)Depth Takes a Holiday