usual copyright disclaimer: CHANT: Characters are not mine, um-lalalalala they are property of MTV - um, lalalalala this story borrow deliberately from a scene in Is It Fall Yet, and credit/inspiration is attributed to the script writers at MTV.

Note: This strongly resembles a ficlet written by Desanera, that she posted to Paperpusher's message board. Mark Twain once called this sort of coincidence between writers "mental telegraphy." She's promised she'll back me up if there's any question. ;)

The Van Ride
by Medea42

Something happened. Trent wasn't sure where or how, but he could feel the difference in himself. The subtlety of the change almost kept him from noticing, and until Jesse pointed out that he had escaped his off/on pattern with Monique for three months did he realize that something significant transformed within himself. When Daria settled in the van next to him, he realized the source of the change.

Am I crazy? She's what - sixteen, seventeen now? As a loyal brother, he knew he should probably indicate his own disapproval of her recent behavior. Janey hurt because of her, and because of Tom. But Daria somehow affected him, now, and in retrospect he realized how he used to affect her. Part of him resented Tom because he replaced Trent's location in Daria's affections. But Trent cared enough about Daria to realize that she needed Tom, or someone like Tom, to break down her walls. He could never do it himself. Her recent ability to speak her feelings to him at all Trent considered miraculous, especially after what Jane told him about the circumstances of her breakup with Tom.

Trent reminded himself that Daria was his friend, now, too. After living in her house a few days he could never see her as just Janey's friend -- he witnessed some of the things that she otherwise hid from the world, and hid from him. He understood that she had the decency to feel bad about the fiasco that formed her relationship with Tom, and when he saw Tom with her he guessed that causing Jane some pain in the short term helped all three friends in the long run. He was a musician, and he saw the etheric transference between her and Tom - and Trent had the sensitivity to know that the heart could care less about convenience.

He could feel right now, as she sat in her typical walled silence, that Daria still hurt too. "You know, about Janey -- it'll be all right. She knows you and Tom never really meant to hurt her."

"I hope so," said Daria.

Then the muse hit, along with the mild need to punish Daria. "Betrayal...betrayal...betrayal...betrayal..." If nothing else, he managed
to create a great song, and convey some of his own feelings to Daria. The spoken word never worked as well as singing how he really felt, and though he understood that no one had bad intentions, the basic need to return pain - first and secondhand - certainly led to inspiration.

Daria mostly sat in silence, looking irritated. As Trent pulled into the driveway leading towards the colony, she spoke. "Trent...that's not helping!"

"Oh, sorry. You know - inspiration." He did not need to look at Daria's face to know her expression.

He felt a twinge of guilt for torturing her; he did care about Daria, too. "It will all work out. Even Janey said you guys make a great couple."

Daria's response shocked him. "We broke up. In a nutshell, I got freaked out by his family."

"But you were dating him, not his family!" Trent pointed out without thinking. Daria was cool, but she needed some rounding, and much as he loathed the way the opportunity happened, keeping her with Tom for awhile would give her something she desperately needed. He wanted Janey happy, but he also recognized that Daria needed to grow.

Daria grabbed her bag and walked away, leaving him to watch her hair blow in the breeze as she climbed the path to Jane's cabin. Trent smiled to himself. At least he could patch things between the two coolest girls in his world. He wrote that song for his sister because she needed her best friend , and he wrote that song for Daria, and he wrote that song for himself.

Three weeks later Trent watched from his bedroom window as Janey maneuvered Daria into the car with Tom. Good, he told himself. She needs to work it out with him, too - give something a chance. Like Jane, he saw the artist inside Daria, and like Jane, he wished to see her take risks in the name of art. Or experience. Whatever.