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Chapter One; Horizontal Sports
A snowy-screened television played repeats of shock-value TV, though the couch the most shocking thing in the room. Between garbled moments of clarity, you could catch the story of the hour, whether it was small mediums at large, or an egg that laid a chicken.
"Are you being replaced at work by super-intelligent, super-amazing aliens? True stories of extra special, extra-terrestrial invasions tonight on Sick, Sad World!"
The host's voice shined with mirth, but anyone could tell he had begun to resent his job years ago. Someone had been watching it earlier, yesterday, maybe a week ago, but it droned on to the The sound drifted throughout the house, abandoned and ignored. The Lane house was, for the most part, void of life. The mould prospered, the mice played, and the remaining Lanes were creating.
They were trying to create, at least.
From inside the mess that was Trent's room, there were brushstrokes against a canvas, and the idle twang of too-old guitar strings. Very rarely would the two create in the same room, being that they were very ineffective working partners. This was probably owed to accidentally and frequently pointing out the other's issues or flaws, or complaining if the other thought too loudly. They gave it the good ol' Lawndale one-two and tried anyway.
Jane was dappling paint onto a canvas, working the brush strokes the best she could to the slow, repetitive twanging of the same guitar chords over and over again. "Could you play more than one chord? Just once? A little G, maybe, or a B?" Her eyes strayed from the canvas to Trent, receiving only a grunt for her politeness.
Trent continued through this 'creative cement block', so named because it made him feel like his brain was being crushed by the weight of it all. He had so much to express, he explained, that it stopped him from creating at all. The overwhelming ideas and wants and words made him want to sleep, and so he did.
That was why he left college, to become a full time college drop-out. What field of study he dropped out of is a mystery to the world, even Jane. Between these restorative naps, he managed a messy scrawl of lyrics and a few chords he liked.
All minors, to Jane's chagrin. And yet she lingered, enjoying what little family she had left. The rest hardly counted. She felt no more attached to them than the chimps with shared ancestors at the zoo. The chimps were kinda cute, in their own simple lives, so maybe she liked them better.
Jane felt her lips pinch into a smile as she continued to blend the paints; reds, greens, blues, a seamless variety with no express intent. It was up to the viewer to discern the meaning. That was her story, and she was sticking to it. Truthfully, she just enjoyed blending more than laying out compositions.
It was that sort of day.
When Trent was lucid enough, he would croon out lyrics as if he were on his deathbed. Jane would cast a look to him, like a relative visiting their sick uncle, trying to catch meaning from the fevered speech. Mostly it was the word 'way' rhymed with 'no way', as if that were any different. The coughs would seep into his words and his voice, which made it difficult as it always did for him to be coherent, but he pushed on.
"Okay, I got something."
"Sure you do."
Trent sneered at his sister, even if it melted just as quickly to a smile.
A presence I can't beat
Something I can't treat
At first it seemed like a replacement
Like before, the knight/night shall live in a tent(the word knight had been scrawled out, replaced with night)
All your ambitions seem hell-bent'
Trent's voice ended with a ragged edge, similar to the television downstairs. His eyes focused down on the scrappy-edged book. It bore the title 'Private', for the protection of others rather than a need to keep things actually private. He sung all the works aloud, frequently, though most songs fell on Jane's ears.
Whenever Trent would reveal his more ambitious verses to the outside world, it seemed to throw it back at him in disgust. He looked toward his sister, his eyebrows raised – it was a gesture of near-pleading, hoping she liked what he had written and composed.
"It's – interesting! Much like cubism or Furbies! A little uh, heavy handed, with the 'repent' part. A little churchy." Jane faltered. She had taken to sitting on the edge of his bed. Her arms were now slumped across her knees, eyes averted from Trent.
Her painting was abandoned, for now. It needed to dry was her excuse. Jane kept staring at her misshapen brother, with Trent rather awkwardly splayed across the floor with his guitar lying beside him. His head was resting on a sneaker and a balled up hoodie, for a lack of a pillow.
There wasn't enough room on his bed to splay out, seeing as he dumped all his dirty clothes there to force him to do the laundry. Instead he took to the floor. They seemed to be avoiding the piles of – things, intent on leaving the carefully-constructed ecosystem to function on its own.
"I know." His fingers plucked absently at the strings of his guitar. "It isn't working." His voice kept its low grumble, barely audible above the guitar strings. In all his time on Earth, he knew he was meant to create, meant to play music. He sure as hell was not going to keep a normal job or even make it to a job interview.
Anyone who knew Trent Lane thought the exact same thing. Who was he to argue with (what can only be considered) facts? So music was his only avenue, and if he just tried hard enough, if he just kept making songs, eventually one of them had to be good, right?
"One day… One way…" Trent hummed."
"This is Jane Lane to Trent Lane!" Jane scoffed. "Are you alright? Either the wall is way too interesting or you're thinking. You know what this household thinks about thinking." Her tone was serious, though her lips said otherwise.
"Thinking… Hah. Funny, Janey," he said with a small nod. Trent stood up, growing tired of the floor. Whatever was stuck under the carpet had been jabbing him in the back. A few vertebrae clicked back into position as he stretched, earning a pleased grin from Trent.
"You were thinking then." Jane prodded the air with her brush accusingly.
"I was practicing being introspective. Chicks dig it."
"Even if it was for the wrong reasons. Or the right ones, depends who you're asking." Jane laughed to herself. "I'll pack up in a bit. The fumes are making my head loopy. The bad kind of loopy." She flopped back across the pile of clothes. Trent slowly moved toward the door.
"Sure. Just don't get paint on anything."
"Cause you'd know the difference." Jane scoffed, hands tucked behind her head. While Jane unwound from painting, Trent took to kicking the piles on the floor. He figured if he shaped them, a little, it might look neater. If he got a trash bag, he might be able to clean up half of this stuff… He gave up, as it sounded an awful lot like effort.
"I'm getting pizza with Daria and," Jane paused, "you should come."
The offer of food and the pause were enough for Trent to accept without question. He needed to get out of the house, and would happily offer an out to his sister. If she needed, which she often did nowadays. He would pop the excuse that debt collectors were coming for the house was believable enough as it had happened before, but Daria was starting to catch on to his lie. All that mattered was that he got Jane away from Daria, but more importantly, he saved her from Tom.
Trent knew he didn't have to save her. He knew that. It didn't stop him from trying to help. If Jane said a thank you for his promise of company later, Trent couldn't hear it. All he saw was her hasty exit from his room. She was in her painting gear, a pair of shabby coveralls and a shirt Wind had loved.
And probably still loved, Trent smirked. Sucks for him. It what you get when you leave your crap behind.
Trent tucked his guitar in the corner, tossing a shirt over it to protect it from the dust. It was a token effort, seeing as the thing was a piece of crap already. It was his piece of crap, though. The thought kept rolling in his head, that his lyrics were sloppy. It was one of his few points of pride, and it wasn't working for him.
A pain started in his stomach, curled around his organs, warmed them, and burned them all the way up. It was something like shame but worse. Maybe he was a hack, and maybe he was going to be a Lawndale bum all his life. The sensation of overwhelming defeat was enough to make him lay down, though it could have been the paint fumes permeating the air.
Trent zoned out, laying on his mess of clothing. He was numb to the lumps of clothing, the guilt of not cleaning, the impending shitstorm that was Tom and Daria. Not that he had any opinions there, not of his own. It wasn't his place to play the blame game, no matter how much he wanted to.
All that mattered was that Tom's name was no longer spoken in the Lane household, save for when he turned up here with Daria. Jane never mentioned him, and Trent refused to say it because of how Jane dimmed at the mention.
Trent wasn't one for violence, or aggression, but it made him wish he felt otherwise.
"Get your butt into motion, Trent Vincent Lane!"
"I'm ready!" Jane used his full name? Eeesh. His parents had run out of names by the time Trent was around. Middle names, parents titles, the whole family thing. He had decided it was the closest he'd ever get to his dad. Trent elbowed his way off of his bed, resenting the idea of being upright. It wasn't natural.
"You are not ready. Put on something nice." Jane popped her head in, her eyes narrowed.
"I don't own anything nice."
Trent tossed a balled up shirt at his door. Not that it did anything but amuse himself, seeing as she had bobbed out as quickly as she appeared. And then she was back, a toothbrush poking out of her mouth at an angle.
"Yeah, fair point. Just be yourself." Jane added something about how Daria was almost there, but he hadn't the faintest idea how she'd know that. Or what she had specifically said, given the frothing from her mouth and the plastic clacking against her teeth.
Jane made her way back to the bathroom, brushing at the lingering taste of metaphorical crap. Even if she was going to go eat, she wanted to make sure no paint had gotten stuck between her teeth or something weird like that. It had happened, once. Never again.
And while Daria was supposed to be the only one coming over, Jane had the distinct feeling that Tom would be with her. Of course, this didn't bother Jane – it didn't – what did bother Jane was that she had to invite her brother along, so she wouldn't be a third wheel.
Trent was great and all, but he was her brother; the thought sounded tragic no matter how she worded it. No way could she make it sound less tragic, ever. The milieu of tragedy was so weighed against her that Jane resumed her lounging. An afternoon of painting had been a nice treat, after her history essay had punched her brain.
And there it was. The front door clicked open downstairs, and so followed the heavy footsteps. Jane remained horizontal. No one ever broke in, seeing as everyone assumed herself and Trent were the scary squatters.
"Hey." Her voice carried out the open door, welcoming Daria and guest; Daria and her escort; Daria and the jerk. Jane kept her attention directed up at the ceiling, as if that would delay the reveal. She was excited to see Daria. She was always excited to see Daria.
"I didn't realize you were practicing for Gym," Daria's voice carried, no inflection to be heard.
"I'm told horizontal sports are my specialty." A thankful little smile flickered across Jane's face before she stood up (uselessly trying to fix her hair as she did so). Daria was alone. Completely alone from what Jane could tell, unless Tom was waiting to jump out like a serial killer.
"Save your sweet talk for another dame." Daria's lips turned up to mirror Jane's, so slight a smile a gift to the other girl. "Are we still going for pizza?" Her brown lifted with a genial quip, as much as they ever moved.
Jane stood up from her bed, swaying slightly as she did so. "Gimme a second," Jane warned. "I need to just get my equilibrium, or I'll tip over. World spinning. Paints, real fumey."
"You'll be fine."
"So much sympathy. Please, I'm tearing up. Again, may be the paints - "
"You're the one decided to paint in enclosed spaces." Daria shrugged. "Which you shouldn't do. I feel like that goes without saying, like don't touch fire."
"But fire is so pretty." Jane said with a twitch to her mouth, a smile momentarily flashing. "It might not even be the paint. It could be those new lyrics Trent was singing, something about repenting."
"They were that bad, huh?" Trent leaned into view, eyes settled on Jane.
"What is this, foot-in-the-mouth day?" Jane asked pointedly, hands resting on her hips.
"No, that's only every third Tuesday. Today is poor timing day. I'm secretly the leader of a religious cult." Daria looked between the Lanes, thankful for her ability to remain so straight-faced. She seemed to have no strong response to Trent's appearance, positive or negative.
"Pizza?" Jane offered.
"If Daria doesn't mind me comin' with?" He was met with an indifferent noise from Daria, so took it as a 'whatever' – it was better than a no. He couldn't recall the last time he'd eaten, so the pizza was promising. Jane walked out after Daria, with a reluctant Trent extracting himself from the supportive doorframe.
The three of them made their way past the television. Trent turned it off, mindful of how he'd meant to do that days ago. He kept pushing it back, not thinking anything of it. It seemed stupid now, to think they'd left the television on for days, for no reason.
"Shotgun, on Daria's behalf. The front seat has a weird bit that stabs me in the back." Jane insisted on this, even if there was nothing but fluff and plush in that seat. There was no way for Daria to insist on taking the back seat without seeming eager to avoid Trent. She cast a look to Trent, which faded as quickly as it appeared.
The car took off and the silence set in. Jane lay across the backseat, her seatbelt tied around her waist in attempt at obeying the law. Trent would fidget with the radio, trying to get it work. Daria was nonexistent, as if by choice. At least Tom wasn't here. She didn't want to see Daria and Tom climb into the back seat, or hold hands, or… Bleh.
None of it.
Jane admitted to intervening wherever possible with Daria and Tom. Not directly, not overtly, but she would bring Trent with her. While he was a crutch to Jane, he also offered something of a counterpoint to Tom's uppity attitude. And Jane thought that if, maybe, Daria spoke to Trent more, or Trent imparted wisdom, or something, that Daria would realize how Jane felt.
It would save a lot of emotion and honest, and it would bring Jane back her best friend. But Trent helped Jane out. And having Trent there was a buffer, so she didn't feel like an idiot between Daria and Tom, or a third wheel. So what if she wasn't over it?
Jane sat up, elbow framed against the door. She kept a firm grip on the door handle, in case the door jiggled open. The pair in the front were doing all they could to look elsewhere, with Trent having an easier time. He was focused on the road, while Daria's attention slipped time and again to Trent. As if she knew Jane was watching, she would reset, and stare out at the houses with obvious intensity.
Or maybe bringing Trent with her served another purpose. Jane liked the idea of Daria and Trent together that tickled her fancy – a sister-in-law that didn't make her cringe for once, and her brother free of Monique forever. Jane's mind flashed to Monique, a nice enough girl in her own right, but devilish when combined with Trent. Their mutual indecision and creative drive led into some of the worst fights she'd witnessed, where passive-aggression was almost fatal.
From Jane's perspective, Trent wasn't capable of maintaining a healthy relationship with Monique. The two of them could barely remain friends, let alone a couple, for more than a few days at a time. Of course Trent was too much of a softy to tell her to leave right away, so the old bitch always seemed to work her way back into the Lane residence.
They arrived at the pizza parlor a short while later. It didn't take long before they were inside, seated and ordering a few slices. "My treat." Trent stepped towards the counter, to buy a pie for the table. Jane gave a small waggle of her eyebrow as Trent did so, her attention returning to Daria.
"Ooh la la. Usually he makes me pay. What did you do when I wasn't looking?"
"Gasp! Did you flash him or wrists? Or your ankles?" Jane set a hand against her chest, feigning disgust. "You aren't even married."
"Mm, yes. I've been working Dega street in secret. These lily whites have earned us free food." Daria flashed her wrist at Jane.
"Dirty pizza! I never. You were such a good girl when you moved here, Morgendoffer." Jane theatrically covered her eyes and sobbed. The act fell apart quickly, with the two laughing at their own bit.
Trent arrived with a pizza, curious as to what he had missed. Along with the pizza, he had been wise enough to buy drinks. The tray was expertly balanced in one hand, while the pizza was in the other. Daria looked to his hands then his face, quickly spouting a thank you. Her cheeks were tinted red from laughter and embarrassment, at having been caught laughing.
Daria bit into a slice of the margarita whilst Jane and Trent stole from the spicy bacon half of the pizza. "Don't know how you eat that and survive."
"Live fast, die young." Jane explained with a saucy mouthful. "All worth it."
Daria shook her head, wondering if the person who'd first said that ever intended on being so terribly misquoted. Her eyes trailed back to Trent every once in a while, her guilty teenage infatuation continuing to push her into stupid situations and even stupider solutions on a daily basis.
At least it was consistent.
Word Count - Original chapter was: 1456 This chapter was: 3821.
This story was first posted on a week and six years ago. I have wanted to post here on Ao3 for years, and I wanted to give this story a new life. As it's been a few years since I last touched it, I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to do both at once. I am updating this story and cross-posting it to Ao3. I have taken a copy of the original story, to upload elsewhere for those curious.
This story is an AU, from the point Tom and Daria broke up, set before 'Is It Fall Yet?' with the assumption Daria realized sooner that Jane was not okay with them dating. This work is completed (in one sense), so any and all critiques will be taken into account and put towards future works. While it was originally called 'Sinspiration', I now find the title less to my liking. I've retitled this updated version 'A New Perspective', as it better represents the story as a whole, and it is a new perspective on the story.
Additionally I am in the process of writing a novel, but have never had experience with editing or reworking stories. This is my solution to this inexperience. It's meant to be fun, but I would be happy to hear any ideas or improvements. If any specific phrasing stands out to you, or if words are misused, characterization, anything at all, I would appreciate your thoughts.
I'll be posting once a week.
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