July 29th, 2:37 P.M.

What the hell am I doing here? And how the hell did Jane manage to con me into wearing this dress?

Here was a bright and sunny Saturday in Lawndale. I had managed by some miracle to get a couple days off from work and pulled into town late Wednesday night. Even though we haven't seen each other in two weeks, Trent was still too busy with all the preparations to take a minute to come by and see me.

I'm not sure how I feel about that.

We tried to keep things casual, or at least I tried to anyway, but things were already getting more serious that I ever really wanted way too fast. Even after our first night together and we agreed to just see where things went, it already felt like a real relationship. Trent had stayed with me most of the day, and he hinted so heavily that he wanted to stay another night that it was almost begging till I reminded him that I had classes Monday morning and he had a gig in Lawndale that night.

Even then, he called me about half an hour into his journey home. Then he called me when he got home. He called me again to say goodnight when he knew that I was most likely going to bed.

After that we called each other at least once a day, and no longer were we using the pretense of working on Spiral songs. Nearly every weekend he had come to Boston, or I had gone back to Lawndale. We tried to have regular dates, we really did. We made plans to go to movies, small local concerts, eat out, but the second we saw each other standing in our respective doorways …

Well, maybe not that exact second. We almost made it to the movie that last time. Halfway there before we pulled the car over and didn't come up for air until long after the movie theater would have closed for the night still counts as a date, right? I don't know, everything just feels like it's all happening way too fast.

I was hiding now. I just couldn't stand being around so many people I didn't know; or being around the ones that I did. I found a room upstairs in this place, a beautiful old house that was kept as historical landmark here in Lawndale and was rented out for events. Events like the wedding that was supposed to be starting any minute right outside.

"Knock knock," Jane chirped from the doorway as she entered the room.

"Go away Lane, this is a privet pity-party."

"No see, that's where you've got it all wrong. The party is downstairs and outside, where you are supposed to be right about now showing off your ability to be scathing without anyone knowing."

"I only know a handful of people out there, and the ones I know I haven't seen since …"

"Since you let them see more of you than your doctor does?"

I had refused, on the several occasions that Trent or Jane asked, to meet up with the guys or go to any Mystik Spiral concerts since the night I had stripped in front of the band. I could tell that Trent was a little hurt that I wasn't doing the adoring girlfriend thing of waiting by the stage for him, but just the thought of facing the boys made me nearly have a panic attack. I still worked on Spiral songs for the band, but I avoided any contact with anyone in the group besides Trent for the past two months.

"Which I still haven't forgiven you for entirely by the way."

"Even though it led to you and my brother finally behaving like sex-starved bunnies injected with aphrodisiacs?"

"I just can't go out there Jane. I had only recently started to get Nick's, Jesse's, and Max's respect as someone who actually existed … and now? I don't know what they think of me after that, and I'm not entirely sure that I want to know."

"Come on Daria," Jane said as she sat down on the couch next to me, "why do you even care? You've never cared what anyone has thought of you or your life before. Besides, you've been on tour with these guys. We have spent a complete calendar month living in a cramped van and an occasional shared motel room with these openly gross boys. You have seen, and smelled, things that can cause hysterical blindness in the average mind. You have nothing to be embarrassed about in front of them."

"I'm still thinking of stealing your car keys and staging the great escape back to Boston before the ceremony starts."

"Well you know what? Tough. Today isn't about you, it's about Jesse and April and us getting to make fun of their wedding in barely hushed voices. Don't hold out on me now."

Damnit, I hate it when she makes more sense than me. Good ol' Jane, always looking at the big picture.

"I don't know," I wavered, "can I at least go home and change? This dress you forced me into isn't exactly going to help with the 'I want to be taken seriously, don't think of me as a stripper' impression I should be going after."

She had come over this morning and kidnapped me after Trent left to help Jesse set up the sound system for the wedding. Separated from my clothes, the only option she gave me was to go naked or put on this dress.

Dress, ha. The paper dress they give you at the doctor's office covers more than this thing.

I wanted to kill her all over again, and I had so many reasons to with this dress. It was strapless. It had the sugary-sweet sweetheart neckline. The bodice was corset with a provocative lace up back that showed way more skin than I was comfy with. It was so tight that if I weighed five more pounds I would pop a seam. It was shorter than anything I had ever worn in my life. Oh and I forgot to mention it was in the most glaringly attention-grabbing red I had ever seen?

"What, you don't like the dress? I gave you that other option … and seeing as how the only people here that you know have already seen you naked I guess it wouldn't be such a crazy choice if you decided to go that way," she mockingly said as she looked like she was deeply considering that option.

"No, I like it fine. It just screams 'hey boys pull down your zippers and whip out a fiver, this girl's trading up from being a stripper to a whore'."

"Aw sweetie, you're at least worth a tenner, maybe even twenty bucks a lay on a good day I'm sure. So, you consider prostitution a trade up from stripping?"

"Well, you know, there's just a lot less work. Stripping involves dancing and performing. Becoming a call girl basically involves just a lot of lying down and moaning at the right intervals. Besides, who could say no to the extra spice of life that is STDs? I hear that penicillin tastes just like candy."

All of a sudden, I heard a hacking laugh/cough coming from around the doorway and my blood ran cold. Jane looked over at me and smiled apologetically before calling out to the empty doorway.

"Trent," she chastised as he came around the corner and entered the room with a smirk on his face, "how long have you been standing there listening in on our privet conversation?"

"Long enough to know that I better start coming by to see my girlfriend more often if I want to prevent her from turning to a life of hooking to get her kicks."

Crap, he used the 'g' word. I hope he didn't notice me flinch when he said it, but from the way Jane is looking at me I know that she did. Crap.

"Emily Dickenson here doesn't want to come out of the room, so I give up. I'm going to go back downstairs to grab a drink and make fun of Jesse's family. I tried my best, but maybe you know some little trick to convince her that would be inappropriate for me to try? Hopefully, wildly inappropriate?"

Before I could say anything she bolted for the other side of the room, tossed me a wink, and pulled the door shut behind her leaving Trent and me alone. Alone for the first time in two weeks.

"You know," he said as he looked at me from under his eyebrows and walked slowly closer to the couch, "they don't give penicillin orally for STDs. It's an injection."

"Oh fun, I've always wanted to be stuck with needles as a result of a sex act."

He chuckled lowly as he sat down next to me and buried his nose in my hair next to my ear.

"Kinky, Daria," he nearly whispered.

"Should I be impressed or deeply, deeply worried that you know that information by the way?"

"Let's go with neither. It's not from personal experience, but I am in a band with a bunch of horny guys who don't always think before they act Daria. I've learned things."

"You know of course that now that you've brought this up, you need to tell me who does exactly have personal experience with the business end of needle, right?"

He shook his head and sighed before pulling back and looking me in the eye.

"Can we not talk about venereal disease right now? I haven't seen you in weeks and now that I have a moment alone with you … in that dress …," he trailed off for a bit as his hand that had been on my knee slowly drifted upwards, "I'd really rather not think about that topic. It's kind of a mood killer."

"Considering the fact that your little sister is my roommate and makes her presence known before she leaves us alone, I didn't think that you found any topic to be a mood killer," I grinned at him as I stopped his hand from its attempt at going up my skirt and he pouted like a child.

"Daria, it's a wedding and I'm the best man. The best man is supposed to get lucky at weddings …"

"Yeah, with the maid of honor. I can go grab her for you if you want; her snaggletooth was really fetching and went well with that rat-looking dog that she keeps in her purse."

"So, you're actually willing to leave this room then?"

Damn him, he trapped me.

"I don't know. I don't know how I'm supposed to act around the band now, or how they are going to act around me."

"Daria, I promise you, they don't think any less of you. You're actually kinda their hero now. Did you know that they had bets going about us? Over who would be the first to make a move, when it would happen, and how it would actually happen? They all thought it would be me, and they all thought it would happen at a one of our concerts or us writing together. You blew their minds, and mine, and completely torpedoed the betting pool. Janey cleaned them out."

"So … they aren't planning on giving me a hard time?"

"Of course they are. They are guys in a band, a band that you have constantly ragged on from the first day you heard us. They now have a chance to rib on you a little bit, and they are gonna go for it. But it won't be forever, and eventually we'll all get over it. Just promise me something."

"Ok … do the guys want me to start bringing strippers to the Mysik Spiral concerts or something?"

"Hey, that might not be such a bad idea. But no, that's not it."

He stood up and held out his hand, and when I took it he started to lead me outside. To face them. To make my secret work life crash into my social life. Before I could ask what he wanted me to promise him he pinned me up against the door jamb and kissed me deeply. It wasn't the type we normally shared this time though. It was soft, gentle caresses of his lips. It was sweet instead of passionate. It was …

loving. Too fast … too fast … but damn … so good …

"Just promise me that if Max corners you later on and asks for a lap dance, you'll kick him in the balls. You're not wearing your boots, so you won't sterilize him, but I'm guessing those pointy looking things won't feel good."

"I can try it on you first if you like, just to make sure," I smiled evilly at him.

"Once again I say, kinky, but maybe later," he leered at me.

"Maybe, if you're lucky," I teased. He gazed into my face with a look that felt just like the earlier kiss, which amazed me since we weren't even touching at this point.

"Daria, I already am."


Author's Note: Ok, so this isn't exactly what I had written before as an epilog, but its pretty close. I don't think it's a good as my previous one that was lost in the catastrophic laptop crash mentioned in the last chapter, but it covered the points I had made in that chappie and I was still able to dredge up some of the lines I thought were good from my brain. In a few days I will start re-working my last story in this series called "The Fan", just because I had promised it to you guys before, but I'm not sure I like the third story's premise anymore. That might show up in the re-write. I need to sleep on it.