Finn chuckled for a moment as he walked down the street to Jane's house. It had been two weeks since the family moved back into the house following the paint job. While Finn missed the hotel, he didn't miss the drives to and from there that had to be made. Finn was fine with driving, but he hated being a passenger in a car. Everyone just seemed to drive too slowly.

Finn still wasn't exactly certain why Jane had called him, and did not ask to speak to Daria once he was done with the phone. She just asked him to come over so she could show him something. It made Finn laugh: Only Jane, and perhaps Stacy, could do such things for him.

Finn knocked on the Lane door, but when no one answered he pushed his way inside. That was the rule of the Lane household: Knock and unlocked, come right in. Finn maneuvered his way towards Jane's room, and saw the door was open somewhat. Finn knocked on it, but the force of his fist pushed the door open further. Jane was inside, with Tom. The two were making out. At the sound of Finn's knock, Jane broke it off.

"Yikes!" Jane noted, but did not appear offended.

"Don't let me stop you." Finn chuckled.

"Hey, Finn, nice to see you." Tom greeted. Finn returned it.

"So anyway, Jane, what is it you wanted to show me?" Finn asked politely.

"You'll love it." Tom noted before Jane turned the canvas standing next to her around, so that the art was facing Finn.

Jane had painted a self-portrait of herself, with a background painted like jungle leaves. Jane's picture though, had one major difference from the Jane in real life. Her hair was striped her normal black with a light yellow.

"It reminds me of a tiger." Finn remarked.

"Then it was done correctly." Jane answered. "This is going to be my new look."

"New look? You mean with, like, hair dye?" Finn asked.

"That's exactly what I mean." Jane answered.

"It's quite original, Jane." Tom commented. "I'd kiss you more if Finn wasn't watching."

"Thanks for that." Finn chuckled. "I think it's great, but you know, though, dyeing your hair like that is going to be complicated. You can't even do it yourself if it was just a straight dye. That's going to take a steady hand."

"Yeah, Jane, I was thinking that." Tom agreed. "Who's going to help you do your hair?"

"Well, I think I'll just ask Daria." Jane remarked. Finn snickered.

"What?" Jane asked the quarterback.

"I mean, it's Daria, with beauty tips. I'm sorry, it's just...I mean..." Finn started to laugh uncontrollably.

"Well, you two lugs here probably wouldn't do a better job." Jane remarked.

"Ouch. Hurt my man-feelings with that one." Tom noted.

"All one of them." Finn quickly added. "Anyway, there are other people besides Daria who would do a better job."

"They test cosmetics on pigs. We could use one of those." Tom and Finn started to have playful sniping with Jane.

"Yo, padres? I still need someone to do my hair." Jane brought their game to an end.

"Okay, listen. You're talking to someone who knows everyone at Lawndale and can get that right person to do the job. Hold off on asking Daria, and leave it to Finn."

"Wow. You're taking this seriously." Tom noted.

"What's wrong with looking good?" Finn returned.

"When your parents keep telling you to wear what they want you to wear to be presentable." Tom answered. Finn had forgotten that Kay Sloane was pretty big on stuff like that.

"Yeah. Sorry. That was insensitive." Finn apologized remorsefully.

"No big deal." Tom remarked.

"No matter how many times I see it, I'm still amazed you guys make up that quickly." Jane answered.

"Hey, no one's perfect. I know Finn didn't mean anything by it." Tom answered.

"Thanks." Finn answered. "Anyway, I better get started on finding out whose gonna get that hair done. I'll make a few calls tonight, swing by after school tomorrow?"

"Perfect." Jane answered. "Later."

Finn laughed to himself as he headed on his way home. Jane wanted to dye her hair? It was certainly unusual. Jane was much like Daria in that she didn't care about appearances, she just cared a bit more. Enough to wear lipstick, at least.

Finn had already thought of the perfect hair specialist to do the job. Someone who wouldn't talk too much and make Jane want to shove something down her throat. And Tom was being very supportive about things too.

Finn still remembered that time, back at the hotel, when Daria had gone out with Tom that night Jane blew him off. While Finn still criticized Jane for her rude behavior, it had been Tom Finn had been eyeing strangely. He actually chose to do something with Daria? And Daria accepted? It seemed innocent at first: Tom had a free ticket, and needed a partner; Daria was just bored. Nothing wrong with that. Innocent fun.

But Finn's thoughts were not dispelled, but from Daria's end. Daria did not treat people with human decency. The fact that she did so with Tom was strange. Perhaps Daria actually started to wise up, but that couldn't be possible. She still treated the rest of the people at school, like Brittany and Kevin, with mocking disdain. There may not have been anything praiseworthy about those two, but they weren't malicious. They didn't deserve her insults.

Finn had wanted to talk to Tom about that night the two had when Finn was at the fashion show, but he never got the chance to. Tom was spending more time with Jane, doing that mushy romantic stuff; something Finn found odd since Tom was never the one to put on airs. And Finn would not force this issue in front of Jane. Finn had been around Jane long enough to know she freaked out a lot about stuff like this.

Finn didn't suspect anything, but he wanted to be sure. He wanted to hear it from Tom. But Finn pushed the thoughts out of his head as he made a phone call.


Jane was pacing anxiously after school the next day. Finn had told her to leave everything to him, and she believed him. And, as she started to think about it, perhaps Finn would have been the better Morgendorffer to ask. Daria had never painted anything before, and cared nothing for fashion. She might make a careless blunder. On purpose, Jane didn't think so, but the possibility was there.

While Finn styled his hair frequently, Jane had never known him to dye it. But he had his feelers out there. Jane could only eagerly await.

Finn had been on Jane's mind more and more lately. Most of it was a concern for him. A lot had happened with him in the past few months, and it was good to see that some of the advice Jane had given to him was fruitful. It made Jane feel both smart and necessary. Her report card usually dispelled notions of the former, and her own life made the latter a little less.

And Jane knew what it was that made her feel this way: Her relationship with Tom. Tom was putting a lot of effort into the relationship, but she knew there were problems. The two of them still fought a lot. Jane did like Tom, but the whole relationship thing was starting to get a little forced. Jane and Tom had never slept together, but they did more than just go to the movies together. The physical relationship wasn't bad, but when it came down to it, Tom was very cerebral, and Jane knew that she was not. Tom loved his intelligent talks about...whatever that stuff was that Jane couldn't even figure out. He could only do those with Daria.

"Daria." Jane always found herself eyeing Tom and Daria suspiciously. Tom was over at the Morgendorffer house a lot, seeing as how he was close friends with Finn, but Daria was right down the hall. Whose to say they didn't continue their talks there?

Finn had said there was nothing there, but did he really know? It wasn't as if Daria and Finn were close siblings and could share things like Jane could with Trent. Perhaps there wasn't, but Jane wasn't convinced. The not knowing was what was bothering her.

There was a knock on the door, and Jane went to answer it. Finn was standing outside, and beside him was a short Asian girl. Jane didn't know her name, but she knew she was one of the mindless Fashion Club drones.

"Hey, Jane." Finn smiled.

"Hey." Jane remarked.

"This is Tiffany." Finn gestured to the Asian girl.

"We have...a lot of work. We should...start...with a..." Tiffany started.

"Tiffany, we already know what we need. We just need you to do it."

"What are...we doing?" Tiffany asked.

"I'll show you. I like it, and I know you will to!" Finn cracked a smile and struck a manly pose. Jane blushed a little bit.

"Of course...Anything...for you...Finn." All three went inside the house.


Finn showed Tiffany the picture in Jane's room. It was easy to get Tiffany to agree to dye Jane's hair in exchange for a date. Finn reasoned that this wasn't a reversion to his former habits, as Jane was the one receiving the profit, not Finn. Plus, he was on the worse end of the deal anyway. Being around Tiffany was brain-numbing enough. To date her? Finn tried to dismiss the thought for now.

"Okay, so you see what it needs to look like." Finn instructed. Tiffany seemed puzzled as she looked at it.

"I really like it." Finn remarked, and Tiffany immediately started to move, looking at the paint Jane used as well as her own hair in order to choose the right color. She'd do anything he said, Finn chuckled to himself. Maybe there would be a way to get out of the payment after all.

"I know...what we need to do." Tiffany remarked. "I just need...to use...the bathroom...Then...we can get...the dye." Finn directed her, and Tiffany left.

"You know, I can probably get her to pay for the dye too..." Finn laughed.

"That's okay. This is my re-invention and I should front the bill. Still, that's some chick."

"Her work on hair is solid. I can't say anything else is." Finn remarked. This was Tiffany's use, and that was all Finn ever used her for. Even back when he was getting gifts, Tiffany's gifts revolved around herself. One time, she send him a large poster of herself with brown hair she had said used to hang on her wall. Of what use was that?

"What did you do to get her help?"

"The most horrific thing known to man."

"Sleep with her?" Jane's eyes widened.

"Oh God, it does get worse!" Finn had never even remotely considered the possibility of sex with Tiffany. He wasn't even sure she was a real teenaged girl. Finn just assumed she was some sort of sentient mirror who walked around admiring herself.

"No, just a date." Finn remarked. "I might need to use the old callsigns."

"You haven't used them with your mom." Jane remarked.

"I haven't needed them. You can double-check with Tom if you don't believe me." Finn answered. His mother had not called a mother-son bonding day since before the retreat.

"Things are...a lot less tense." Finn answered honestly. While part of him still really hated his mother for everything he did, Finn knew that nothing he could do would change the past, and his mother's efforts, they were earnest. Earnest enough that Finn would give things a shot. And it did seem to work out. He couldn't forgive her neglect, but if she wanted to try and make amends, Finn could allow that. She was making the effort to truly bond, and that meant just as much as the activity itself.

"I'm ready." Tiffany exited the bathroom.


Picking the hair dye was a simple enough task, and once back at Casa Lane, Tiffany started to mix the dye together. Jane sat at the table with a towel on her shoulders, Finn leaned against the wall to give the girls space.

"How's Tom?" Finn asked.

"You would know, he's your friend. We're thinking of heading out tonight." Jane answered.

"Cool. You guys spend a lot more time together." Finn answered.

"We date. Gotta spend time together dating." Jane remarked. In truth, she wasn't happy for it. It really only meant she could see how not-very-alike the two of them were. Jane wasn't outdoorsy, and she knew she wasn't book-smart. That was Tom. Finn and Tom had a very close friendship because they both loved the outdoors. Once winter ended and the weather got warmer, those two went out hiking together. They were even discussing camping over the summer.

And book-smarts? Daria had that. Daria had lots of that. And she and Tom could have these little conversations neither Jane nor Finn could follow. It was like they were speaking in a foreign language, and it made Jane wonder whether they were talking about her or not. She doubted it, but if Jane could see the tension in her relationship, Tom certainly could.

"Now...we begin...app...app...app..." Tiffany stuttered in her slow tone. It grated on Jane's nerves a lot.

"Application." Finn quickly finished.

"Thanks, Finn." Tiffany smiled at him. Puppy love, Jane chastised the girl mentally. Or puppy lust. Finn would eat an idiot like her alive. Jane would pay to see a show like that.


Tiffany started to paint Jane's hair. For all her slow speech, she certainly worked fast with the hair. Her work was methodical, and Finn couldn't help but wonder if she just carefully considered everything she said. And then he recalled his other encounters with her, and knew that it was just because her head was full of nothing.

"Heh, wonder if we could make her fly in the sky like a balloon." Finn pictured the thought in his head, but kept his mouth shut.

"All...finished!" Tiffany remarked. "I...did...it."

"Thanks, Tiffany." Finn remarked. Tiffany delicately covered Jane's head with a shower cap.

"Now, let's talk sometime next week about payment. " Finn started to walk her to the door. Anything to get her far away from him. It was easier than he thought: Tiffany would do anything Finn wanted.

Once she was gone, Finn returned to Jane.

"All right, so we keep the cap on for...how long did it say? Oh well, no matter. I'll stick around. I want to be the first to see when it's done."

The time passed rather slowly. Finn insisted Jane keep her head as still as possible. But eventually, Jane was able to get her shower cap off. Finn was quite impressed with Tiffany's work. It had gone impeccably. Jane's hair had the tiger stripes she dreamed off.

"It's fantastic!" Finn exclaimed as he shoved Jane in front of a mirror.

"Wow!" Jane was impressed. "I must insist you take that date with that Tiffany girl out of principle."

"Not dating Tiffany is another principle." Finn answered. "But we gotta show this off!"

"Huh?"

"I mean we need to go out and flaunt you."

"Well, I was planning to reveal it at school tomorrow." Jane answered.

"Don't be such a nerd. Oh...oh wait, you were going out with Tom today, weren't you. He'll like it, but I'm not going to interrupt your date. Forget I brought it up."

"I can date Tom anytime. You're right, we should get people to worship me." Jane laughed.

"We really shouldn't." Finn chuckled initially, but changed his tune rather quickly.

"Tom won't mind."

"Jane, you keep blowing him off. It's really not a good habit."

"For every night I blow off, I take another. He could use a break anyway. Come on, we need to get pizza!" Jane dragged Finn out the door.


Jane and Finn went out to Pizza Palace, and then to a dance club. Jane had never been to a dance club before, but they were certainly interesting. In small doses. Lots of people spoke to her while at the club. They thought she was a new girl. Of course, they thought that because of her hair, she was a lot wilder than she was, and Finn needed to step in once they suggested something about the backseat of a car. When the man suggested that Finn could watch, he decked the bastard.

"Quite gallant." Jane thought to herself. She and Finn danced a bit, but Jane wasn't really into dancing, and she knew she wasn't that good. It wouldn't serve for Finn to be seen with an embarrassing partner. Finn insisted it wasn't the case, but noticed she was clearly out of her element.

"Maybe I should have thought of a better thing." Finn mentioned.

"How could you know?" Jane remarked. "It's okay." There was a bit of silence as Jane drove, and as she caught Finn out of the corner of his eye, she could tell he was nervous. He was sweating, she could hear him gulping, and his breathing was shallow. Finn was a master at making people believe things when he set his mind to it, but when he wasn't, he was an open book.

Of course, what it could be was anyone's guess.

Jane pulled up to the Morgendorffer house.

"Hey, Jane. Thanks." Finn remarked. "I...I hope you had fun."

"Somewhat. Thanks for helping me celebrate my new do."

"Not many people from our school, though." Finn remarked. "Looks like that's where you'll be showing off."

"Gotta do what we gotta do." Jane chuckled. Finn laughed too. Jane could still hear his nervousness.

"I...I should get going. Lots of homework to do. Big...big!" Finn stuttered as he poured himself out of the car.

"But...but thanks. Your...your hair is lovely." Finn noted before he practically sprinted back to the door.

"What was he so nervous about?" Jane thought. She tried to dismiss it from her mind as she headed back home to Casa Lane. It was very quiet in the house when she got home. Trent must have still been asleep.

Jane headed back up to her room and started to resume work on her painting, still thinking about Finn's nervous reaction to her. It was not long after that there was a knock on the door. Jane descended the stairs, wondering if it was Finn. Perhaps he had another idea? It wasn't that late.

But it wasn't Finn. It was Tom. And he did not look pleased.


"Hey." Jane greeted her boyfriend civilly, but he was scowling at her. Every time it happened, though, Jane knew the reason why. He was angry about something.

"I...I guess I sorta blew you off, didn't I?" Jane shrugged.

"Without calling." Tom added. "I stopped by here and no one was around. I stopped by Daria's and you weren't there either."

"You went to Daria's?" Jane asked.

"To look for you. Daria hadn't seen you and Finn was out. Since your hair is done, I assume it wasn't that."

"Well, no." Jane admitted. She already knew this was going to be painful. Was she so desperate to resort to honesty?

"I went out to celebrate my hair." Jane answered.

"Wasn't that what we were going to do?" Tom remarked.

"No, we were going to the 'cinema'" Jane emphasized Tom's pronunciation. Jane only called the movie theater a "cinema" when they were going to see those foreign or symbolic movies that completely went over Jane's head.

"You weren't celebrating alone. Who were you with?" Tom asked. Although Jane was certain he already knew the answer.

"I went with Finn." Jane answered honestly. "He made sure the girl that did my hair didn't go. Probably would have killed her if she did.

"You blew me off to go out with Finn? That's not exactly something a boyfriend likes hearing." Tom scowled even further.

"Look, Tom, we did my hair, I was all excited, and we went out. Finn told me I shouldn't, but I did."

"Thanks, Jane. That makes me feel a lot better." Tom remarked sarcastically.

"Look, I'm sorry, okay. It's still light out. You wanna go get..."

"Forget it." Tom turned around and walked out the door.

"Tom!" Jane called, but he pulled into his car and drove off.

"Dammit!" Jane cursed to herself. She thought about calling, but Tom would not do something so obvious as go home. She needed to let him seethe for a while.


Tom knew where he was going: the Morgendorffer household. There were no cars in the driveway, but, considering what he knew about Helen and Jake, the parents Morgendorffer, that was not surprising. He rang the doorbell. A minute later, Finn opened the door.

"Hey, Tom!" Finn answered innocently and pleasantly. How the hell could he keep such a straight face?

"Evening. Listen, can I talk to you. In private?" Tom remarked. Finn's eyes widened, but he led him up to his room.

"What is it?" Finn asked.

"I was just over at Jane's." Tom clarified.

"From your tone, I take it this isn't about her hair." Finn answered. There was a brief silence.

"Hey, I told her not to blow you off."

"And I believe you. I know Jane, and I know you. That's a move she'd pull."

"Aren't you being...well, I guess with things as they are, I have no right to criticize." Finn shrugged. "So what brings you here?"

"I want to know something. What's the story between you and Jane?"

"Me and...there's nothing between us. We're just friends. We've never done anything short of friendly hugs."

"Is that so?" Tom remarked.

"Dude, Jane is your girlfriend. If there are two things I don't do, it's mack on another guy's girl, or stab my buddy in the back." Finn answered sincerely. Tom leaned against the wall, shut his eyes, and took a deep breath.

"Would you date Jane if I wasn't around?"

"I...No, of course not. Daria knows where I sleep." Finn protested. "What's the matter with you?"

"It's just...Jane blows me off all the time for you."

"I don't ask her to." Finn quickly countered.

"It's frustrating. So you do have never...done anything?"

"Of course not, I don't do that touchy-feely crap anyway." Finn answered.

"Okay. That's really all I needed. I'm going to head back to Jane's now. Later." Tom answered. "Thanks for putting my mind somewhat at ease." Tom excused himself soon afterwards.


Finn sighed deeply after Tom left. He had no idea things were so bad between him and Jane. He wondered if, maybe, he should talk with Jane about how she had been treating Tom. As much as he got along with Jane, she should have been better than that.

But Finn dismissed that thought. That was a private discussion he had with Tom, and he'd have to reveal it if he did. Not to mention spending private time around Jane like that made Finn a lot more nervous. He knew he was flirty with Jane. Always had been, even before Tom. But if that was making Tom uncomfortable, perhaps he'd better lay low for a while. No sense making things awkward for perhaps the best friend he ever had.

Jane wasn't in school the next day. Finn tried the pay phones, but she wasn't answering. When Daria questioned him, Finn replied that he knew nothing.

"I know you two went out last night." Daria pointed out.

"And nothing happened. She was fine when she dropped me off." Finn answered. He certainly was not about to tell her Tom's doubts. He did say he went back to Jane's after he left the house. Perhaps things did not end well? Perhaps Tom was the person Finn should have been using his change to call.

"Argue all you want, Daria, nothing happened." Finn growled at her. He stormed off before she could make a retort.


Tom had gone back to Jane's house following his conversation with Finn, but he didn't do anything there. He pulled the car a bit away and sat in the dark for a moment, silently piecing together the fragments in his relationship with Jane. He did this for a long time, and didn't reach the Sloane manor until very late. And he didn't sleep well, either.

Tom was tempted to skip school, but ultimately decided against it. Distressed though he was, it would cause an unnecessary headache later on. Tom was nothing if not careful.

After school, though, he immediately headed over to Jane's. She answered the door.

"Hey." She remarked to him.

"Jane, I think we should talk. About you. And Finn." Tom remarked.

"Do we really have to? We just argued yesterday, and I'm taking a mental health day."

"I want to know how you feel about Finn. Because you keep blowing me off for him, and I can't just believe it's just you two being friends."

"Why not?" Jane challenged. "You go out with your friends. You go out with Daria."

"I only go out with Daria after you blow me off." Tom corrected. He started to lose his composure quickly.

"And don't change the subject." Tom corrected.

"Finn and I are friends. He's done a lot for me, and never asked me for anything back. He's a good friend. That's all." Jane insisted.

"Daria's a good friend, and I don't see you blowing me off for her." Tom remarked.

"Daria's not into that stuff. I mean, we date and we don't have the same interests. Finn takes me fun places sometimes; he's the only one that will. That's all it is."

"And you have to blow me off for it?"

"Okay, so it's not all that. I...I worry about Finn sometimes. He and his mom, well, you know how bad it was. I wanted to help him out."

"You know, Jane, you can do these things without constantly blowing me off, you know. I tried to help out too."

"Jeez, Tom, it's always about you."

"No, Jane, it's about us. Although I'm not sure how long that's going to last." Tom huffed.

"What's that supposed to mean? You want to break up?"

"It's clear you're bored, and I'm sick of being a third wheel in my own relationship. We were breaking up anyway. Might as well be official." Tom delivered. Jane, to his surprise, actually seemed heartbroken. There was silence for a moment. Tom didn't know how Jane would react.

"I'm leaving." Tom broke the awkwardness.

"Wait!" Jane called.

"For what?"

"Look, I'm sorry, okay."

"You're always sorry. Then you do it again. I still like you, Jane, you're still pretty cool. But there's no point in us dating anymore." Tom turned around and walked out the door so Jane wouldn't see the heartbreak in his own face. Sometimes, the necessary things were the most painful.

It had taken longer than Tom realized when he left Jane's house. It was already close to 6. He briefly considered his next step. Perhaps he would stop over at the Morgendorffer's and inform Finn?

"No." Tom dismissed. That revelation would depress him. Tom knew Finn well enough to know that. But he knew he had to do it eventually. Tom had to drive by the house anyway. It may well have been to check on Finn.

There were no cars in the Morgendorffer driveway again, but Daria was walking home in the opposite direction. Finished reading at the library, perhaps?

"Hey!" Tom called over to her.

"Oh, hey." Daria was pleasant. Did she not know of the breakup? Of course she wouldn't; it just happened.

"What's up?" Daria asked. "You look kinda, well, gloomy.

"Well...it's a long story. If you want to hear about it, come on in." Tom offered. Daria deliberated, and then opened the passenger side.

"Short version: Jane and I broke up." Tom delivered.

"Oh!" Daria remarked with genuine surprise. "What...happened?"

"A lot of stuff. I was hoping to see your brother."

"He's at practice." Daria remarked.

"Oh. Good."

"I thought you were looking for him." Daria remarked. Tom ignored it, she wouldn't get it.

"Hey, listen, there's something I wanted to ask you about Jane..."

"Tom, it's hard enough dealing with all of Jane's freaky accusations."

"Freaky accusations?" Tom puzzled.

"About me liking you." Daria remarked. Of everything Tom expected her to say, that was not it.

"That's what she thought? I guess that explains some of her behavior."

"No, it doesn't. I don't want to date you." Daria protested, forcefully and fearfully.

"I certainly wouldn't ruin your friendship." Tom remarked.

"And you're my brother's friend. That's just too weird." Daria didn't look at Tom as she spoke. She was blushing, Tom noticed.

"No weirder than both you two being friends with Jane."

"I mean, no matter what feelings I have for you, there's nothing going to happen."

"No matter what feelings?" Tom puzzled her words.

"I mean whatever she might...dammit! You enjoy teasing me?" Daria started to get angry.

"I'm not teasing you, it's just weird."

"There's nothing between us." Daria remarked. Tom knew she was lying. She had been lying for a long time. They had a connection, common interests. Nothing he had with Jane. And she certainly couldn't keep her eyes off him when she caught him changing his clothes.

Tom started getting frustrated, and his mind started to swim. He couldn't even think straight. What should he do.

"Daria..." Tom started, but his mind was muddled. He could barely speak. He was feeling an attraction he hadn't felt before, not even with Jane.

Tom leaned forward, and kissed Daria right on the lips. She responded with full force.


The events in the car did not go further than making out. No clothes were shed, mouths stayed on the lips, and hands remained on the back of either the head or torso. Tom did not cop a feel even though he could have.

Once it ended, there was some slightly heavy breathing.

"I can't believe we just did that." Daria was surprised.

"I..." Tom stammered. For all his forwardness initiating the kiss, he turned into a nervous little boy very quickly.

"I...should go." Daria fumbled for the car door. She couldn't even get it open.

"Is this locked?" She asked

"It doesn't lock." Tom answered. Daria fumbled with the door for a minute, finally got the damn thing open, and stepped out of the car.

"I'll...I'll call you back." Daria stuttered out before practically running back to the house.


Finn was still at practice, so Daria was alone in the house, but she still retreated to the safety of her room. Once there, she shut and locked her door, even though there was absolutely no purpose to that at the moment.

"Did I...just kiss Tom Sloane? Jane's apparently now ex-boyfriend?" Daria thought. Jane had not mentioned that she had broken up with Tom. In fact, she saw the two of them together yesterday. Did that just happen recently? As in did he just break up, and then make out with her?

"Even I think that's pretty tasteless. Still, it's not like you were stopping, Morgendorffer." Daria chastised herself. She felt funny in many different ways. She had never actually made out with anyone before. She wasn't even sure she was doing it right. Tom wasn't complaining; she took that as a good sign.

Daria wasn't exactly sure how to feel. Alarmed, to be sure. Flattered, without a doubt. Surprised, both at Tom and herself. Even a little disgusted. Is that what it was like? It's not like Daria had asked the other, more sociable, members of her family that question.

"You're in such a good mood, you could throw up." Daria thought to herself. As soon as the adrenaline started to wear down, Daria realized something extremely important. She had just kissed her best friend's ex. Wasn't that taboo? Or offensive?

She needed to talk to someone about this. As if responding to her, the front door opened. But Daria could tell from the swaggering footsteps that Finn had returned from practice. He was not the person to talk to. Serial dater though he was, he certainly would take offense to this action, even if Tom completely initiated the procedure.

But subtlety could work. Subtlety was lost on Finn, so Daria reasoned. She had gotten away with it before. She went downstairs and found him at the kitchen counter making himself a sandwich. She got herself a soda, and sat down at the table. Finn took his seat opposite her, and quietly ate his makeshift dinner. This sort of silence served the family well, and Daria couldn't help but wonder if Jane and Trent were much like this while growing up. Doubtful though. Such an act required food in the house.

"Finn, do you know where Mom is?" Daria asked.

"Work." Finn answered brusquely, as he always did with her. Daria supposed she was thankful that things were this tame between them. Ever since their father's heart attack almost a year ago, Finn's hostility at the table had reached an all-time low. The two siblings shared little, and their relationship hadn't graduated beyond the mercenary relationship it had always been, but there was teasing where there was out and out hostility. In truth, Daria never thought she'd see that.

"Do you know when she'll be back?" Daria posed.

"No. Probably not until we're asleep. Marianne told me she's been a brutal taskmaster. So goes the new partner." Finn ambivalently returned to his sandwich. He would not question what Daria wanted their mother for. It mattered not to him. Sure enough, he didn't even say another word.

"Finn..." Daria started, but she hesitated. What, exactly, would she ask him. Was dating your best friend's ex a crime against society's laws? Jane didn't care for that bull, and Finn would easily piece together what happened.

"What?" He shrugged.

"What's that friend of yours on the football team?"

"I'm friends with all the football team." Finn returned.

"I mean those ones you're always around. Not Kevin or Mack." Daria delivered, Finn looked at her as if she had grown a third head.

"Okay. Well, there's Joey, Jeffy, and Jamie."

"That's them." Daria answered. "If one of them dated a girl and broke up with her, would you date her if she was good-looking and bought you all the right things?" Finn looked at her with even more surprise.

"Of course not. Jesus, Daria, what the hell kind of question is that. If any one of those guys dumped a girl, there's a reason for it. And that's reason enough to stay away."

"And what if she did the dumping?"

"Then I'd take revenge on the little bitch. You screw with one member of the team, you screw with them all. And I have a good memory. What's with the obvious questions?"

"It's...it's for a story I'm writing. I gotta go finish it." Finn's indirect condemnation was actually starting to worry Daria. While she wasn't certain she made a mistake, she wasn't exactly certain she'd come through this unscathed.


The next day was a school day, and Daria was dreading seeing Jane. She did not wait for her at her house to walk, like she normally did. Instead, Daria went to school on her own, and hung around in the hallways.

But it would truly be of no use. She and Jane had multiple classes together. Choosing them this way made class more bearable.

But Jane caught up to Daria before classes even started. She looked...positively normal.

"Hair dye?" Daria asked, trying to keep the topic not about her ex-boyfriend. The ex-boyfriend she shouldn't know about. The one that kissed her. Daria held her breath to stop from hyperventilating.

"I couldn't look at it anymore, so I dyed it back. Trent helped me." Jane answered.

"That's...too bad." Daria tried to sound sympathetic, but her mind wasn't about Jane's hair.

"Tom and I...he dumped me." Jane remarked sadly. She then looked at Daria.

"You're taking this pretty well." Jane remarked to Daria's flat expression.

"You know I don't do emotions. Court order." Daria answered. There was an awkward silence between the two of them.

"Wow, you're really sympathetic today." Jane remarked sarcastically. Daria couldn't even feed into it. Much as she wanted to.

"I know you broke up already." Daria answered. Jane's eyes widened.

"How?"

"Tom told me."

"Why the hell would Tom tell you?" Jane asked.

"He came over last night looking for Finn."

"Oh yeah, Finn was at practice. So, he didn't find Finn and he told you?"

"No. I asked him what was bothering him and then he told me. And then I kissed him." Daria admitted. The color drained from Jane's face. Her eyes widened in shock. She didn't even twitch.

"I didn't mean to." Daria noted. That wasn't a lie: She only reciprocated.

"You...kissed...Tom. My..."

"I had known you were broken up." Daria covered.

"That's some excuse!" Jane got angry. "He was my boyfriend, dammit!"

"Former boyfriend."

"When is former ever okay to date?" Jane challenged.

"Gee, I wasn't even aware he was your boyfriend."

"Excuse me?" Jane remarked.

"Come on, Jane. It's pretty clear you didn't care about him."

"Hey, watch it, Morgendorffer." Jane cautioned, but Daria continued.

"First you blow me off for Tom, and then you throw him off for Finn. Seriously, Jane. Are you aware Tom spent seventy-five bucks to get you into that art expo, and you blew him off at the last minute?"

"What does that have to do with you..."

"Everything!" Daria accused. "Look, Jane, I've always been your friend, but that doesn't mean I agree with everything you do. Tom went to great pains to treat you to something he didn't like, and you didn't even give a crap!" Jane was stunned at Daria's attack. Her eyes widened, and actually got a little misty. What, exactly did it mean? Was she surprised and hurt by the accusation, or by Daria herself?

Instead, Jane ran off. She didn't hear sobbing, and the crowd of students, drawn by the raised voices, started gossiping about what happened? Did they hear? Did they know? Now these rumors would circulate the school.

Finn had left the house earlier than Daria did, which could mean only one thing. He was skipping school today. Daria never thought anything of it before: She never had evidence of him doing it to use against him. But, for the first time, she was glad he did.


Jane drove straight over to Tom's house, only going halfway there before realizing that it was before nine, and Tom would be at school. The rest of the day passed slowly, and, when the afternoon came, and Jane knew Tom would be at home, she rang his doorbell. He answered the door, and scowled a bit when he saw her.

"What is it?" Tom was still seething, it seemed. It was rare that he would do such a thing. He must have been really hurt by all that happened. By the breakup? By what caused it, the whole blowing him off? Or was it kissing Daria?

Jane wasn't sure whether to confront him directly, go in with fists flying, or curl up in a ball around a fenced of barbed wire.

"You kissed Daria last night." Jane said as steadily as she could, trying not to let the fear in her voice show.

Tom was quite stunned by what Jane had said. She was not challenging him. It was merely a statement of fact.

"Yes." Tom admitted. What was the point of lying about it.

"I assume you'll want to come in and talk." Tom remarked. Jane shot him a look that answered in the affirmative.

Tom had no desire to handle this in the house, with his sister home. So the two went into the backyard and sat on his old swingset. He hadn't used this in years, and the thing was in quite a state of disrepair.

"I'm not proud of it." Tom admitted first. It was the truth, of course. While he wasn't actually cheating on Jane by kissing Daria, it was pretty tasteless given that things happened so quickly.

"And this was the first time it happened." Tom answered. Jane nodded as if she believed him. Did she believe him?

"But still, Tom, how long did you wait?" Jane asked.

"It was a lot of things." Tom admitted. "There was a lot on my mind. I meant what I said about you."

"That we had no business being in a relationship?" Jane remarked.

"That I actually liked you. You are cool. But..."

"You're still upset about me blowing you off." Jane admitted. In truth, she realized she had no one to blame for her relationship being over but herself. As few interests as she and Tom shared, he did make an effort. He did go see Screecher II with her.

"Yeah." Tom admitted. "You blew me off. For Finn." Tom's voice trailed off rather sadly.

"Hey, Jane, have you ever..." Tom started.

"No." Jane answered quickly. "Finn and I have never even kissed." Finn had said much the same thing.

"Tom..." Jane trailed off. What was she about to say now?

"Look, I admit, kissing Daria was pretty tactless."

"That's for damn sure." Jane was not accusatory in her tone, although she did seem very upset. About the breakup? Or about the kiss?

"We had a good run, and I had some fun. But really, it's time to move on." Tom remarked.

"Yeah. I guess I was just too scared to admit it." Jane answered. "But you know, someone's going to have to tell Finn about this." Tom's eyed widened a bit as Jane revealed this.

"Tell Finn I kissed Daria? I assume that means you want me to do it."

"If I need to, I will. But he should hear it from you." Jane remarked.

"You know that it's quite possible Finn could deliver his response to the bridge of my nose."

"Give him credit, he won't do that." Jane answered. There was silence between the two.

"And...enjoy yourself dating Daria." Jane commented somewhat sourly.

"I never said I was going to date her. She doesn't like to date, and she is Finn's sister. That would be rather awkward considering he despises her."

"You think this is bad? You should have seen them when they first moved here."

"Finn's never mentioned that to me." Tom remarked.

"I doubt he'd talk about it."

"So, Jane, I might as well ask? You do or don't hate me?"

"I'm mighty pissed off, to tell the truth. But mostly I'm just depressed. I don't hate you. I think."

"Depressed?"

"For a lot of reasons. Nothing I'm getting into. It's not like I can call you out for cheating."

"What happens now?" Jane asked after a long moment of silence.

"I wish I knew. God, I should have never kissed her."

"You know, I thought hearing that would make me feel better. It doesn't." Jane remarked. She stood up.

"I'm going to head home. I want to lay down. You should think about heading over to Finn's."

"He's got practice." Tom noted. "And I need to pick up a mouth-guard."


It cost Daria several dollars and some time to get a bus downtown. She left school not long after Jane did, the first time she had ever cut school. Would the class even notice she was gone?

Daria made her way to her mother's law firm. She had been there only three times before. She knew where the office was, but never associated with anyone there. Once inside the firm, she signed in with the receptionist, and then walked towards her mother's office. As she neared the door, Daria heard her mother ranting about her e-mail address, office stationary, and other random diatribes. The door was slightly open, and when Daria peaked, she saw there was no one in her office at all. She was talking to the space.

Daria opened the door. Her mother responded to the creaks. Her face was flushed and she looked about ready to shout at the interruption. However, her mother's voice faltered and she remarked with surprise.

"Daria?" Helen remarked. She immediately shut the door.

"What brings you here?" She asked.

"I need to talk to you." Daria's voice sounded so small it almost sounded like a plea. She never did that. She always stood up and stood strong.

Helen immediately took her daughter to a nearby restaurant called the Settlement. An appropriate name, given it's proximity to four legal offices and the courthouse. Most of their clients were lawyers.

Daria had just finished telling her the story of what happened. How Tom and Jane had broken up, and she had made out with him in his car.

"Daria, I can't say this is a situation that's pleasant to be in. In many ways."

"Thanks for that." Daria sighed.

"Daria, I'm not trying to insult you. This is not pleasant for anyone involved, least of all Jane."

"Jane?"

"Dumped by Tom for you?" Helen posed. "It's not a happy place for her."

"But Jane..."

"Listen, Daria, I can't comment on what Jane did or didn't do, but even if she did treated Tom in such a way, that doesn't make her a villain."

"I know that." Daria snapped.

"Daria, no one hear tried to hurt anyone. Jane wasn't meaning to hurt Tom, Tom wasn't kissing you for revenge, and you weren't trying to hurt Jane." Helen reassured. "No two sets of friends ever don't get on each others nerves."

"Jane and I only got on each other's nerves when Finn came into the picture."

"Daria, you disagreed with Jane about Tom. It wouldn't have mattered if it was Finn or whoever." Helen corrected. "Other people will never always agree with you."

"That's pretty lame."

"It's life, Daria." Helen answered. "And it's human nature. In all it's crazy, beautiful glory. The point is, you should really think about what you want to do with both of them. Consider both of their feelings, things will work out."

"Isn't that the pallatives people say when they get terminal cancer?"

"You wanted honest parental advice, didn't you? I say that because you won't accept anything else. Daria, you can't live an isolated life forever. I don't know how things will work out, but they will if you work hard enough at it." There was no talking for a moment as the two ordered. Helen saw no point in criticizing her daughter for clearly skipping school. This could be dealt with another time.

But another thought came to Helen's mind. She had talked to Daria about Jane, Tom, and herself. But there was one other person who would be affected by this. Finn. Tom's best friend, Jane's friend, Daria's eternal nemesis. He was bound to find out about this sooner or later. And he would react explosively. Helen may not have understood much about her son, but she understood that.

But what, exactly could she say to him. He never listened when he was mad to anyone, and she had a hard enough time talking to him at it was. He was always on the offense when it came to Daria, and anything remotely supportive was supporting her, and not supporting him. It was always good or evil with him. And Helen knew that neither word was accurate here.


"What a great practice!" Finn thought. It was truly a great segue into his upcoming birthday in a few days. This Saturday, he would turn sixteen. And things would be great. People would come out, presents would be had, everyone would enjoy themselves and be merry. Truly, that was all Finn wanted the most on this birthday. The happiness of his closest friends.

Finn was laughing as he took a shower, then headed back to his room. He needed to finish this bogus schoolwork now so that it didn't need to be done later. But that would wait, for there was a knock at the front door. Finn descended the stairs and opened the door to find Tom.

"Hey!" Finn cheered warmly. He hadn't seen Tom in a while, and it was always nice to see him alone. Tom and Jane, much as Finn hated to admit it, were under a lot of strain in the dating department. Finn had seen enough dating to know this was true.

"Can I come in?" Tom asked. He didn't respond to Finn's greeting, which was weird. He was also very serious. While Tom, as a whole, was more serious than Finn was, to be so straight-laced was odd.

"Of course, buddy." Finn escorted the man to his room.

"Is something wrong?" Finn asked innocently.

"Jane and I are over." Tom remarked. Finn's eyes widened. While, in truth, this was something he expected, he still felt bad. Finn invited Tom to take a seat. He didn't.

"Buddy..." Finn started.

"That's not what I came here to tell you." Tom interrupted. Finn's eyes widened even further. He just revealed he broke up, and that wasn't the reason he stopped by? Something even worse happened?

"What? " Finn asked, although in truth, he was a little scared to hear it.

"I came over here to talk to you about it. And...I...kissed your sister." Tom got out slowly. The gears in Finn's head shuddered to a halt.

"Why?" Finn asked. Tom didn't answer.

"You...broke up with Jane...for Daria?" Finn processed the thought. By the expression on his face, he considered the concept heresy.

"No. I didn't break up with Jane to get with Daria..." Tom started. Finn, however, was having a very difficult time thinking. His entire body was quaking in anger. His face darkened with rage.

"It's all my fault." Tom started. Finn didn't answer.

"I know you're angry."

"Damn straight!" Finn remarked. "You break up with Jane and two seconds later you're with Daria? I mean, tact aside, it's freaking Daria! I mean, what the hell were you thinking?"

"I'm not proud of what happened." Tom returned.

"Okay, you and Jane called it quits. No big deal. But seriously, Daria? Please tell me you were just experimenting or you were drunk or something remotely feasible. You can't...actually..."

"I haven't decided on what I want to do." Tom answered.

"I could understand if you kissed Stacy or someone." Finn rattled off a name Tom didn't recognize. "But Daria? The single most despicable human being in existence? Worse than Sandi and Tiffany put together? The bitch who says the time I had to get stitches was the happiest moment of her life?"

"Finn, I..." Tom started.

"Get out!" Finn ordered.

"Finn!" Tom protested.

"Tom, I am fighting every urge in my body to flatten the living hell out of you."

"Finn, I still want..."

"To be friends?" Finn interrupted. "We were friends. I looked up to you! I thought you were cool, and you were closer to me than anyone! You were the big brother I always wanted! Now I can't even look you in the eye. Get out of my house!" Tom saw the futility in trying further, at least for the moment.

"Goodbye." Tom said sadly as he walked out the door. As he exited the house, Tom sat quietly in his car, and realized what he regretted the most about kissing Daria.

Finn did not stay still long after Tom left. He was antsy, and he knew what he needed to do, he just couldn't do it yet.

He had to wait. Wait until Daria came home, wait until she was alone. Not as hard as he thought. A last-minute conference had come up for their father, and he'd be out of town for the next few days. And Mom was at work. Still there.

Daria arrived home a minute later. He waited until she got into her room, and then he exited his own room, and knocked on her door.

She answered a moment later. And Finn cursed her with all the effort he could put into his voice

"Whore!"


Daria did not respond to Finn's accusation.

"You back-stabbing bitch! I should have known you'd pull something like this!" Finn shouted.

"Get the hell out of my face!" Daria returned.

"Nothing to say?"

"Not to you. I don't need to justify myself to you."

"Please. You kiss my best friend..."

"He kissed me. I'll emphasize that for you." Daria answered.

"Oh, and I suppose it was one-sided, was it?" Finn returned. He didn't care who initiated. If she was telling the truth, she certainly reciprocated.

"No, it wasn't." Daria admitted. "What the hell do you care."

"Daria, Tom is my friend. All this bitching from you about how I'm going to steal Jane from you, and look what happens. You lock lips with Tom! My best friend!"

"This isn't about you, asshole." Daria challenged. "Who I kiss is my business, not yours."

"You do not kiss my friends. You do not stab my friends in the back."

"I've already spoken to Jane. You're not part of it."

"Like hell I'm not part of it! You kiss my best friend the second he breaks up with your best friend. Jesus, Daria, I used to wonder how you could never have friends. And now I know. You're the single worst person in existence!"

"Your insults don't mean anything to me. I'm not here for your approval."

"This isn't about approval, bitch."

"Finn, I could be Mother Theresa and you'd still blast me."

"Some morals." Finn remarked. "You walk around like you're so great, and you're so moral, and everyone else, like me, is so beneath you. No one can ever tell you you're wrong, cause you're so smart." Finn's sarcasm got stronger and stronger as he continued.

"And when you pull something that's a hundred times worse, all of a sudden, you don't have to listen when people tell you you're wrong. You don't have to explain yourself."

"I don't have to explain myself to someone like you." Daria accused. "You pulled crap like this all the time."

"I never, not even once, stabbed a friend in the back like that. I never did something so cruel to Jane. But you don't make mistakes, do you? I guess it helps when you have no one around to criticize you. Go live in your cell. The world is a lot better without you in it!" Finn stormed off, and into his room. The door clicked a second later.


"Asshole." Daria thought. She was certain Finn was seething in his room. Daria returned to her room. Finn's words cut into her more than she'd admit, and certainly not to Finn, who never had the right to criticize her after all the hell he put her through their whole lives.

She was not a whore. Tom and Jane were broken up. While she did feel bad about Jane, particularly after she had spoken to her mother, Finn still had no right to criticize.

"He's just an asshole." Daria dismissed. He'd criticize her anytime, anyplace. Finn was a creature without any ethics.

"But you don't believe that." Daria criticized herself. Jane, of all people, proved to her that this wasn't the case. After all, Jane still hung around Finn, and she wouldn't if he was a jerk. Looks aside, Jane wouldn't be distracted as long as this was.

And Finn did have his own ethics. He did that thing in Fremont, after all to get Jane's money back. He had made two hundred and fifty extra after Jane's money was returned, and Daria's own morals wouldn't allow her to keep it. She didn't earn it.

"So much for me not having morals." Daria criticized. She had morals. And she supposed he had morals too.

"I'm still better." Daria thought. What she did here was wrong, but she would make things better on her terms. She needed to be a good friend to Jane for Jane's sake. Not for Finn's.

"Where does that leave Tom?" Daria lay back in her bed, lost in thought.


When Helen arrived home, the entire house was quiet. Jake had called her about a marketing conference, but the children should have been home.

Helen wondered if Finn knew yet what had happened with Daria. Daria certainly would not tell him herself, but he was friends with both Jane and Tom. One of them might have told him.

Helen hoped that, if he did find out, he did not confront Daria with things. Neither of those two would back down from each other or admit they were wrong.

She knocked on Finn's door. His muffled response told her to come in.

Finn was seated at his desk, looking very frustrated. Helen was willing to believe it wasn't about the work he was doing.

"Good evening, Finn." Helen started calmly.

"Hello." Finn's response was casual.

"How was your day?" Helen asked.

"I just found out Tom and Jane broke up." Finn remarked. Daria had mentioned that, but did Finn know the rest.

"That's awful." Helen remarked.

"That's not the best part." Finn returned, and Helen knew the rest of it.

"I know about that." Helen stopped Finn from ranting. "Daria came to me this afternoon."

"Fantastic." Finn remarked, and Helen was worried he would get angry before she said anything. But he was silent.

"It's not a great situation to be in." Helen noted. Finn, again, had no reply. Helen was nervous.

"Have you spoken to Jane?" Helen asked.

"Huh? No. I tried to but she wasn't home." Finn answered.

"So Tom was the one that told you?" Helen continued. Finn nodded.

"I take it things did not go well between you two?"

"I don't know anymore."

"Finn, you know, we all make mistakes." Helen sat down on the bed. "I don't think Tom meant to hurt Jane with what he did." The words seemed to register, but this wasn't dealing with Daria yet. Helen wondered if maybe she should let him simmer for a few days first, but one look in her son's confused, frustrated, and angry face told her otherwise.

"And what about Daria?" Helen asked. Finn made only a low guttural growl.

"I certainly can't approve of what happened." Helen started.

"That's for damn sure." Finn spat out. "I mean, seriously, that..." Finn was probably going to use stronger language, but he stopped himself.

"But Finn, what I said is true for everyone. No one here is the villain. And that includes Daria."

"What!" Finn was incredulous. "How can she not be? She stabs her best friend in the back."

"A stupid move. Not an evil one." Helen clarified. "You know, Finn, she does feel bad about this."

"No she doesn't, she's all on her moral high horse saying she doesn't need to justify herself."

"Finn, Daria..." Helen started.

"You're on her side." Finn accused coldly, his eyes widening.

"This isn't a matter of sides, Finn." Helen started.

"I knew it. She stabs Jane in the back, and you're okay with it!"

"Finn, would me going into Daria's room and yelling at her make you feel better?" Helen asked rhetorically.

"How about not justifying everything she does. It's bad enough she thinks she's so great. You're always there feeding into it, with your whole "world is against smart girls like her" bull crap."

"I'm not justifying it. I'm just saying that it's not black and white. Daria is not just the villain here."

"Sure she is! She doesn't feel bad. Daria never feels bad. And you're not about to let her. Go coddle her and tell her she's so wonderful and turn me into the bad guy. What else is new." Finn turned around at his desk, ignoring his mother. Helen felt defeated.

"Dammit! I knew this would happen, and I did it anyway." She lamented. But she wasn't going to leave the room. She took a deep breath.

"Finn." She started.

"What?" Finn didn't look at his mother.

"How are you feeling?" She asked.

"Well, let's see, my sister proved she's more of a selfish bitch than ever before, a good friend of mine is hurting so bad and I can't reach out to her, and I may have lost the best friend I ever had. All in all, I'm freaking peachy!" Finn snapped at her.

"Can I help you, Finn?" Helen asked earnestly. "Is there anything I can do to make you feel better?"

"No." Finn replied after a period of silence. "You've done enough."

"Finn." Helen insisted.

"What?"

"I'm not on Daria's side."

"Coulda fooled me." Finn replied briefly.

"I'm not." Helen insisted. "Daria's attitude about the whole matter is certainly a problem. I am going to be having a word with her about it."

"Well jeez, if you wanted to blow up her bubble, you should have just said so from the beginning. I would have lent you a grenade."

"But Finn, you should really think more on what happened. This isn't just Daria's fault." Helen delivered her words of wisdom, and headed down the hall towards Daria's room. Finn decided against listening in. If Helen was telling the truth, then Daria would feel bad about what she did, and that was good enough. If she wasn't, Finn didn't need anymore heartache.


The next two days felt almost zombie-like for Finn. He barely ate, slept even less. Jane did not respond to his calls, nor did she come over. Tom too, was nowhere to be found, although Finn didn't call him. At least he wasn't around with Daria. What that meant, Finn did not know.

He didn't go on any dates, refused to go out with his buddies. He could barely muster the effort to work out. He could only do something stressful to take his mind off of things, lifting really heavy weights. Finn didn't like that: he preferred to have his body perfectly toned and sculpted rather than just add mass.

The entire house was empty one night as Finn sat at the table, drinking coffee that he was Irishing up. He wasn't expecting anything when he heard a knock at the door. Finn opened the door to discover someone he wasn't expecting: Trent.

"Hey, Trent." Finn remarked. He had spent very little time with Trent. Finn knew nothing about music to offer suggestions about Mystik Spiral, the only thing Trent really got into. And Trent cared about football less than Jane did.

"Hey man." Trent remarked calmly.

"If you're looking for Daria, she's not here." Finn answered.

"I wasn't looking for Daria." Trent answered. "I was just walking back from practice."

"You don't have your guitar." Finn remarked.

"They put everything in the Tank. I wasn't going to ride in there because Jessie hasn't taken a bath in two weeks." Trent sniffed the air. "Hey, is that coffee?"

"With an extra Bailey's boost." Finn remarked.

"Cool. Can I scam a mug?" Trent asked.

"I...I guess." Finn remarked. This was almost as weird as Daria kissing Tom. Most of the dialogue Finn and Tom exchanged regarded female anatomy. Finn escorted Trent into the kitchen and got out a mug.

"You want normal coffee or Irish Coffee?" Finn offered.

"Just regular, thanks. It's not decaf, is it?"

"No."

"Good. Decaf coffee is so pointless." Trent sipped his coffee.

"You heard about Janey and Tom, right?" Trent asked.

"Yeah, and the after-effects." Finn commented sourly.

"Was that you whose been calling the house?" Trent asked.

"Well, I have been calling. Don't know if they were all me. You didn't answer?"

"I never get to the phone fast enough." Trent commented, and Finn laughed inside, for he knew it was true. Trent was actually cheering him up.

"I'm surprised you're not mad at Tom."

"I don't get mad." Trent answered. "It's not good for my music. But I guess it had to happen. Janey kept blowing Tom off. To hang with you."

"I never asked her to do that." Finn protested.

"I never said that." Trent took a long sip of his coffee, and Finn felt his heart lurch in his chest.

"But it still happened. No one stopped it." Trent finished. Finn thought of a knee-jerk protest, but such things never worked on Trent. Finn's own throat started to get tight, and he nearly choked on his coffee.

"I need to get going. If you want to see Janey, just use that door that doesn't lock right. She's around. Not tonight." Trent stood up and slaggered out the door. Finn let him out. Once he was gone, Finn started to feel tired, so he headed upstairs, undressed, and lay in bed. He still couldn't sleep, but he wasn't thinking about Daria and Tom's kiss.

"I never did stop Jane from going with me when she blew off Tom." Finn admitted painfully to himself.

"It would have been so easy to say go with Tom. She insisted and I said yes. Finn, what the hell is wrong with you." Finn thought as his eyes started to mist up. He fell asleep believing that Tom dumped Jane because of him.