Author's note: happens right after Season Three's "Lane Miserables".

My night with Trent Lane

Daria shut the door before her cheeks became a darker shade of red. The overwhelming feeling of embarrassment made her lower her gaze as she made her way to her bedroom, brushing aside the opportunity to inject a sardonic comment to something her sister Quinn was saying at the moment. It was imperative to reach her room unscathed, undetected, unquestioned.

"Daria?"

Damn, almost there.

Her mother advanced towards her with that look that could only mean 'there's something we need to talk about'. Oh, how she hated that look.

"Yes?" The girl replied. Keep it cool and this will be over before the next millennium, she thought.

Her mother smiled to her, her train of thought seemingly lost.

"So, the Lanes left?" she attempted to make small talk.

Daria saw through her attempt as easily as through the hole where a glass panel would be placed if a window was to be added to a wall.

"For the moment, yes, but I hope it won't be an inconvenience for you to see Jane here in the future, you know, she being my best friend and all."

"Very funny, Daria," her mother replied, smiling, but clearly not finding the comment exceedingly amusing. "What about Trent?"

What about him?

"What about him?"

"Will I be seeing him around in the future?"

Tricky question. One tiny side of Daria wanted to say I wish!, but the other one, the one that could foresee every implication of embarrassment and awkwardness and more importantly, the one that knew better than to entertain any fantastic hope of actually 'seeing him around in the future', was fully aware it was crucial to answer "No," or "I don't think so", or …

"I don't know, will you be following Mystik Spiral around when they go on tour?"

Helen knew she had, once more, got acquainted with the thick concrete barrier her daughter put between them to hide her actual thoughts and emotions.

"Right," replied her mother, "I just wanted to tell you to weigh your options carefully. It might not do to choose under the influence of a strong emotion, you know."

Daria could not fully see what her mother was getting at, which was odd for her.

"What is that supposed to mean?"

And she was angry, for some reason she could not fathom either.

"Nothing, darling-"

You hesitate, mom. What are you trying to say?

"… I just wanted to say that, as the smart young woman you are becoming…"

Flattery will get you nowhere, out with it!

"… you will have some tough choices to make, and it is better to think them through for a while before… making them, you know."

I might be biased because of my own thoughts, but are you trying to hint to me that Trent is not a 'good option'?

Daria knew fully that asking for additional explanation would lead them both to have a 'conversation', which she was desirous to avoid at all costs.

"Alright, I'll… have that in mind."

Escaping to her room had never been so imperative.

[o][o][o]

Why, hello ceiling.

Daria lay still on her bed, contemplating the stretch of ceiling between the lamp and the spot farthest at the back that her eyes could reach. Not that it made any difference to the ceiling, or to her; her mind was far away in thoughts that had nothing to do with roofs.

"Too bad you're not a few years older, huh? I could take you out."

Those words repeated over and over in Daria's mind in that broken, rough voice that made her suddenly feel very achingly self-aware; for the sake of pleasant remembrance, she had edited out the 'ha-ha-cough' that came right after Trent's carelessly-thrown-around words.

Why, oh, why am I not a few years older?

Silence.

Then again, if I were a few years older, would I go out with him?

Her mother's words burst forward and made her suddenly annoyed.

What does she know of choices? I bet she's more acquainted with how many times her assistant goes to the bathroom than with how many boyfriends Quinn's had so far.

But there was something more, something nagging that kept bringing forward those words. It took her a while to realize that, annoying as her mother's meaning might have been, there was some truth to it.

So alright, Trent probably needs a little more structure in his life, more goals… any goals…

She blushed. It made her embarrassed even to think of Trent. To go over everything she knew about him made her stomach flutter and swirl like that one time she rode a rollercoaster in Disneyland. Luckily for her this time, Quinn's half-digested hot dog did not end up accessorizing her shirt and shoes.

If only…

But even the 'if only's' were painful to ponder about. There was no hope, not even a tiny one, of him ever really noticing her, even in the bizarre and decidedly impossible event that he should pick up the pieces of his life and give them a clear meaning, a direction, other than 'where the wind might take him'; she was too young, heartbreakingly juvenile, immature, adolescent, to be exciting in him even the slightest romantic interest. "Too bad you're not a few years older, huh? I could take you out." In such a sentence, a whole universe of meaning was concealed: he had noticed her, he liked her enough, and if only – if only! - she was not 'little Janey's' classmate and best friend, he could probably think of her as a potential date.

Daria turned around in her bed and sighed, facing the wall. One more nail to the coffin of her self-confidence; not only was she an outcast, alienated by her thoughts and opinions and almost friendless, she was too young to attract the guy she liked.

Welcome to my life: keep your entrails in at all times and enjoy the wretched ride.

[o][o][o]

"Daria, so glad you're here!"

"You look suspiciously alert this morning," Daria replied to Jane, as she led the way upstairs instead of following her out to another miserable day at high school, "did you go to bed at all?"

"Sleep is for losers, I come from a higher plane of existence," Jane replied, opening the door to Trent's room. Daria had been vaguely aware of some thumping noises coming from the upper floor, but did not connect them to his room.

What she saw made her frown, take her glasses out, rub her eyes, put them back on and frown again.

"Janey, is that you?" came Trent's voice from somewhere behind the upturned bed. There were piles of clothes and boxes lying around, as if some attempt at organizing had been going on for a while. "Pass me the vacuum, would you?"

Jane turned to Daria with all the blue-eyed wideness she was capable of.

Daria looked back, mirroring her expression. Jane nudged her with a look, but Daria was not sure to what exactly. She asked her with a shoulder motion, but only received a stern lip-frown-with-narrowed-eyes reply.

"Uh, Trent?" she said, hesitant.

"Who's there? Oh, hey Daria," Trent's head came up from behind the bed, a dust bunny tangled on his raven-black hair.

"Are you feeling well?" she asked, for lack of something else to say.

"Sure, you?" he asked, smiling. Daria felt herself melting slowly.

"I'm fine," she managed to reply, overcoming the sudden hotness on her cheeks.

Jane rolled her eyes and walked forward.

"Trent, we don't have a vacuum, remember? Mom used the motor to cool down her pottery and I used the rest for an art piece."

"Really? When?" he asked, scratching his head and catching the dust bunny.

"Like, three years ago," came Jane reply, in a slightly impatient tone. "And seeing how you don't seem to notice anything weird with this whole scene, I'll ask it out of you plain and simple: what the hell are you doing?"

Trent gave her a confused look, and sighed. He walked around the bed and set it down, dust clouds flying up as it banged the floor.

"I am cleaning up my room," he replied at last, moving two boxes full of things that could have been hand-picked at any dumpster in the city.

"And why would that be?" Jane pressed on.

"You got me thinking," he said simply, picking some other stuff that defied classification and tossing it on a corner.

"I what?" Jane asked, with a small shriek.

"About Monique and everything," he said, seemingly unaware of her astonishment. "I mean, why? Why would I go back to her every time, you know?"

"Go on," Jane said, cautiously. She felt that anything following such a statement would be of the utmost importance, for some reason.

"That's it," Trent replied, putting a pile of clothes on top of his bed.

Or not.

"And you're cleaning your room," Jane ventured after a few seconds of silence, "because I made you think?"

"Yeah," he replied, satisfied with his answer.

Jane aimed a helpless look at Daria.

Daria shrugged back.

"Well? Aren't you going to say anything?" Jane went as far as to actually prompt Daria to speak.

But Daria was at a loss for what to say. She did not see anything wrong with him wanting to clean his room. A little out-of-character, maybe, but nothing wrong in essence.

"Trent," Daria said, finally finding something to offer, "if it's not too much an intrusion on your privacy (she blushed; Jane scowled), would you mind telling us why would you go back to Monique every time?"

Damn, damn, damn! Why did I have to ask that?

Daria felt suddenly naked. It was as if everything in her mind and heart had been laid bare on that question, made out of the clean, transparent intention of clearing things up for Jane, and not as a sort of would-be lover's curiosity on the beloved's romantic decisions, which is how it would undoubtedly end up looking. But luckily for her, Trent caught nothing, and she could easily ignore Jane's pointed look.

"It was comfortable," he replied, stopping his activity. "I knew her, she knew me, we had some fun together, and I was too lazy to start a relationship with somebody else, but it wasn't taking any of us anywhere."

"I see," Daria replied, not seeing it. She could understand how he might have reached that conclusion, but its relation to his cleaning his room was still confusing to her. Before she had time to aim a helpless look at Jane, though, Trent went on.

"Just like the rest of my life. Nothing is taking me, or the band, anywhere. Lazing around all day, getting a gig or two a month, pretending to rehearse songs that have barely any work on them… no wonder why we don't get more gigs…"

Those words were very painful to hear for both Jane and Daria. As two people who held strong affections for him, it was sad to hear him speak so badly about something they had thought made him happy.

"But… you guys are good," Jane said, dropping the righteous anger act for a moment, "so what if you don't get more gigs? Those people don't see your talent, that's all."

Trent smiled.

"No, Janey, it's not only that. You have to admit we haven't worked as hard as we could, and that maybe, if we'd put a little bit more effort, we might have gotten better results."

"But-"

"Hold on," Daria interrupted Jane, "does this mean you're not going to play anymore?"

"Aaaah!" Jane's terrified scream startled them both.

"No," Trent replied, "I'm not gonna stop playing, or leaving the band, or anything like that."

"Great," Daria said, without thinking it too much.

Trent and Jane looked at her. She blushed and hastily grumbled something containing the words 'good' and 'what you really want', though it was too hushed to be fully understood.

"We were getting too comfortable to make an effort," he added, after a few seconds, "and that stalled us more than anything else. But no more," he said, "you're seeing the end of Mystik Spiral and the birth of… of…"

He checked his arm for clues.

"I had this really cool new name for the band, but I guess I forgot to write it down. I thought I had, but…"

"You mean," Jane said, "you're finally changing the name of the band? What do the other members think about it?"

"Haven't told them yet," Trent replied, "but we're having a meeting today to discuss it; hope I can remember what I thought of until then…"

"Would that new name be, perchance, 'Wayward Whirlwind'?" Daria asked.

Trent gave her a look of surprise.

"Yes! That was it! How did you know?"

Daria pointed at a stretch of wall previously covered by the bed, where glittery letters spelled 'Wayward Whirlwind' in lurid green.

"Hey, is that my 'Shocking Green' paint tube on your night stand?"

[o][o][o]

"I don't believe this," Jane said as they walked down the halls of Lawndale high, ignoring a couple of yellow-blue-dressed teenagers making out like it was the end of the world, "today he went as far as to shave. Shave, Daria, shave!"

"I'm guessing he doesn't do that very often," Daria replied evenly.

"And you know what else? He said he was going to get his hair cut, can you imagine?"

"I can imagine," Daria replied, trying not to picture Trent with a new, tidy haircut and managing, for once, to keep her emotions in check, "what I can't do is believe it."

"Me neither," Jane said, moving aside to avoid being pushed by the Fashion Club and their daily stroll across the halls. "I'm worried."

"Why? So your brother decided to give some structure to his life, what's to worry about?"

The words were out of Daria's mouth before she could think them through.

"Excuse me?" Jane asked, with half-mock indignation. "The word structure is forbidden in the Lane household, and just in case, the words direction and purpose are pending future examination. Besides," she added, in a more serious tone, "if I know my brother, and almost seventeen years of living next door to him say I might have a good shot at it, he's just overreacting to whatever it is I made him think of; it'll be a few days of trying the way of the organized, and then back to his regular unschedule-ness."

"Then why are you worried?"

Jane shrugged. "I don't know, I guess I don't want him to suffer."

Daria gave her a look of suspicion. "Looks to me like he's not the one suffering here…"

Jane looked back. "What do you mean?"

"Other than the fact that he's probably making all this noise in the mornings," Daria said calmly, "he's probably deviating from the image you have of him, which is a lot similar to yourself, and the fact that he's older and seemingly taking responsibilities might make you feel you will have to walk that path some time in the future, too, and that can't be comfortable to think about."

"Wha- I- me? What does that have to do with m- oh, you just said it."

"Well?"

Jane bit a lip and remained silent all the way to Mr DeMartino's class.

[o][o][o]

"Daria, it's for you!"

Quinn burst into Daria's room as she picked up the phone.

"Make it quick, I'm expecting a very important call from this ultra-popular, ultra-cute guy from this other school you probably haven't heard about and-"

Daria slammed the door shut on Quinn's face and answered the phone.

"Hello?"

"Daria?"

Commencing meltdown.

"Trent?"

"Hi…"

"Uh, hi."

Silence.

"Uh… is there anything I can do for you?" Daria said, unable to endure the awkwardness anymore.

"Oh, right, yeah, uh…"

"Yes?"

"I was wondering…"

Silence.

"Yes?"

"… could you come over?"

The phrase took two long seconds to register its full meaning in Daria's brain, but when it did, it sent a red signal of chaos to her body. Her knees actually felt weaker for an instant before she collected herself and managed a decent reply.

"Why?"

Maybe not so decent, but that's the best she could do for the moment.

"Uh…"

"I mean," she realized what she had just said, "I can come over, no problem, but… is everything okay?"

"Yeah, everything's fine," Trent replied, "I just need you to… well, I'll tell you when you get here, okay?"

"Okay, I'm coming in a while," Daria replied.

After hanging up, Daria looked at herself.

What should I wear? Should I change into something more…God what am I thinking of?

She shook her head and headed out.

[o][o][o]

Trent's room looked like anything except his room. The bed was made, there were no clothes lying around, or shoes, or fruit skins, or anything organic decomposing slowly in a corner. The floor seemed vacuumed, against all odds, and there was even a faint smell of freshly laundered clothes lingering in the air. His guitar rested at the side of a desk Daria had never noticed before, just next to some music sheets laying on top of it. Even the apparent mess of recent composition they were in did not clash with the un-messiness of the pleasant surroundings.

"Well?"

Daria had just one word. "Wow."

"Do you like it?" He asked.

Of course she liked it. But there was something eerie, something unsettling about seeing a space so chaotic before turning into the orderly, inhabitable space she was looking at.

"Trent, you do realize you're gonna have to clean it over and over again, right?"

Trent smiled. "As odd as this might sound, I have cleaned my room before, but I really can't remember when. I'm trying to fix this image in my mind, to have something to go back to when it gets messy again. So, do you like it?"

Again with the same question. The honest answer would have been 'of course I like it, you silly, now shut up and kiss me', but Daria did not feel equal to express such feelings at the moment. And there was also the subject of Trent's sudden personality makeover which, Jane had a point there, was a little worrying.

"If what you mean is to ask me if you did a good job, then yes, it's not just good, it's a great job. But the real question here is, do you like it?"

Trent frowned a little, but shook it off and leant against the threshold, fully facing Daria.

"I'll admit it's difficult to get used to, but it was necessary. And I need to learn to like it, I guess."

Daria really wanted to say something along the lines of 'there was nothing wrong with the way your room was before; it was a reflection of your free spirit and creative personality', but she had just noticed how tidy Trent was himself: he had shaved, as threatened, and his clothes were clean and without any wholes. His hair was slightly shorter, but looked clean and shiny, and he had even used cologne, apparently. That too well-known weakness on the knees made itself present in Daria's legs, and she had to turn away to regain composure again.

"So, how did the band take the name-changing?" Daria said, to avoid thinking too much of how good Trent looked when a minimum of personal hygiene was involved.

"They liked the new name," he replied, walking in and sitting on his bed. "At least, that's what their nods and grunts seemed to mean."

"Good," Daria replied, walking slowly into the room to avoid the awkwardness of yelling from the corridor. She did not dare sit beside him, though; it was too much for her nerves.

Oh, my poor nerves, Mr Lane, you seem not to regard them!

Daria shook her head.

"What?" Trent asked, looking at her.

"Nothing," Daria blushed, and looked away. Her eyes fell on the music sheets. "Writing something new?"

"No," Trent got up and walked to the desk, "I mean, yeah, but it's a work in progress, a lot to arrange, you know."

Daria was surprised. Trent had never been so guarded about his work; he usually sang out loud portions of it regardless of their lack of work and even of their being finished at all. But he did not seem to want to let her see this one, for some strange reason.

"You arrange them?" she asked without really thinking.

Trent laughed heartily, making her blush.

"You know Daria, nobody makes me laugh like you," he said, shaking his head.

Daria blushed some more for good measure.

"Well, I try," she said, trying to conceal her emotion.

[o][o][o]

'Wayward Whirlpool', formerly known as 'Mystik Spiral', indeed sounded a lot better than they had before, at least to Daria's musically untrained ears.

"These black trees on my line of vision,

They distract me from my current mission,

I will cut them all into oblivion…"

"Disturbing forest!

Disturbing forest!

Disturbing forest!"

Maybe not that much better.

"Trent's been working on a secret song," Jane told Daria when the band finished the show and let the club-goers sink into the melancholic tunes of taped background music, "he wouldn't let me see it and hide the music sheets whenever I'm around."

"Yeah, I noticed," Daria replied, slurping her soda.

Jane shot her a look, but did not say anything. Daria ignored her.

"I would really like to take a peek at it," Jane added, "but I guess it's just because he doesn't want me to. Oh well."

"Yeah," Daria said, not sure of what to add.

"Easy there, Miss Smart Mouth, not all of us can keep up with your wit and charming comments!" Jane said, noticing her friend's dejected spirits.

"I guess I am kind of gloomy tonight," Daria replied.

"Anything troubling your joyful mind, Miss Morgendorffer?"

"Nothing," was Daria's automatic response, but she soon noticed it kind of contradicted her previous comment. "I mean, this whole thing with…" she mumbled something.

"I didn't get that," Jane said, getting closer.

"Come on, don't make me say it again…"

"Say what again? Seriously, I didn't catch it the first time."

Daria sighed. Okay, I started, I better spit it out.

"Trent worries me," she said.

"Oh-ho!"

"Shut up."

"I mean," Jane tried to suppress a grin, "what exactly worries you about him?"

Jane's failed attempt at concealing a smug smile almost discouraged Daria from speaking.

"Look at this place," she said waving around, "it's a lot better than the dumps he used to play in, and even the state of him, and the rest of the band…"

"Yeah, they look particularly tidy tonight," Jane admitted. "But, wasn't it you the one that told me that it was good for him to get some structure?"

"Yeah, I know," Daria replied, "aren't you worried anymore?"

"I'm taking the Zen approach to it," Jane said, "and not giving a crap. What will be, will be, and if he suddenly decides to drop the guitar and join the corporate world, I'll buy him a bottle of Milk of Magnesia and a boxful of aspirins and get on with my life. Though I might drop by mistake one or twenty arsenic pills among the aspirins, I don't know."

Daria smiled. "So you think it's just a phase, after all?"

"Yeah, I think that's it," Jane replied, shrugging.

"Hi girls," Trent approached them, smiling widely. Daria felt faintly and leaned discreetly on the bar.

"Hi Mr Sunshine," Jane replied, "how did it go?"

"It was great," Trent replied, "it's the first time Jesse doesn't mix an F major with an F sharp, and Nick's solo is getting better."

Daria and Jane took his word for it.

"So Daria," Trent said, "what did you think of the last song?"

Daria was startled to be addressed like that, and so was Jane.

"Well," she said, trying not to blush and, at the same time, remember which exactly was the last song, "it touched upon interesting subjects, but the meaning was a bit obscure. The rhythm was catchy, though."

On hindsight, Daria realized that her opinion could probably refer any of the songs they've sung that night, but Trent did not seem to notice.

"Did you like it?" he asked.

Did I like it? As in, 'your opinion counts'?

"Uh, yeah, it was cool," she replied, blushing.

"Cool," he said, smiling.

"Excuse me if I interrupt the lovers' talk," Jane said, "but Jesse is going mad over there trying to call your attention, Trent."

Daria and Trent turned to Jane with surprised looks, with the small difference that his looked more on the amused side, while hers was decidedly terrified.

"Sorry, I'll be right back," he said and left them.

"What did you do that for?" Daria asked, angrily.

"What? Were my eyes, ears and general level of intelligence deceiving me?" Jane replied.

"I don't know what you mean, please explain yourself," Daria said, folding her arms across her chest.

"Sure I will," Jane replied, "but first of all, tell me, Daria, did you like the last song?"

Daria scowled. "Look, I don't know why Trent asked me that, OK? It's not like I've done anything to call his attention…"

Jane swept her with a disbelieving look.

"I don't know, Morgendorffer," she said, "anything could be hiding under that cool, impenetrable exterior of yours, and I don't want to take any risks with it; I might end up asking you for your opinion on my paintings…"

"Shut up," Daria said, looking away.

But seriously, why did he ask me that? Me, of all people…

[o][o][o]

"They might be dead and covered with cheap bijoux, but that doesn't mean they can't love! Pet Rock-mance, next, on 'Sick, Sad World'!"

"Sure you don't want a burrito?"

"No, thanks."

Daria sat nervously on the edge of Trent's bed. She was anxious, her neck and cheeks felt so hot she felt she could have powered a small city with them, and only when she shifted her weight to cross her leg did she notice her shoulders were tight.

"So," she asked, to relieve the pressure, "where is Jane again?"

"She got out… somewhere," he replied, but then caught himself. "I should really remember these things, should I? I mean, her, being my little sister and all…"

"Yeah," Daria replied, but also caught herself, "I mean, I'm pretty sure she can take care of herself, but it wouldn't hurt to know, if only to inform her friends when they ask…"

Her mind focused on the words 'little sister'. If Jane, as tall as she was, looked little to Trent, then how would she, with her sad five-feet-two, look?

"Yeah, I don't doubt it," he said, "she's no longer a little kid, now, is she?"

Then again…

"No, she's not," Daria replied, nor am I, she thought. "You said you wanted to show me something," Daria added, after a few seconds of embarrassing, TV-filled silence.

"Yes, I do," Trent replied, turning off the TV. He was about to throw the remnants and wrapper of the burrito he was eating under his bed, but thought it better and flung them over to a trash can besides his desk. He then got up and grabbed his guitar.

"It's still a work in progress," he said, sitting next to Daria, "but I'd like to know what you think."

What?

Trent played a few chords that sounded little like the hard, violent songs he usually sang with his band. The rhythm and melody was a little more reflective and serene.

"Standing in the middle of a line,

I see the rainy clouds just fine,

But what I'll find beyond this time,

It's just as dark as my black eyes…"

Your beautiful, deep black eyes…

Daria blushed, and suddenly found her nails very interesting. Trent went on, without noticing anything.

"And at my back, my failure speaks out loud,

And my mistakes just slap my silent mouth,

It's like my time has suddenly worn out,

Another chance, again to try it out."

It wasn't half bad. If Daria had had the full command of her cognitive functions, she could have suggested some improvement here and there, but she was too caught up in the softly sung tunes of an almost-ballad to be rational.

"This line of life, it grows so long,

It hides my rights, it shows my wrongs,

But at some point, I did find hope,

And so, for you, I wrote this song."

Oh my… crap!

"That's right, for you, I wrote this song,

It's just for you, my secret song."

Daria blushed to a purplish shade of red and lowered her eyes. It was too much, too good to be true, and yet, it was happening right in front of her very eyes. Could this be? Had Trent just wrote a song for her?

"So," he asked, hesitant, "what do you think?"

Daria had no words. Even if she could have regained the use of her vocal cords and brain, and form a coherent sentence, whatever might have come out would have been too telling to just say it.

"Look," Trent added, noticing her marked silence, "I mean to say that, you inspired me, Daria, you…"

Words were failing him, too, apparently. He turned to face her.

"When I was at your home," he said, "and saw how your parents were these methodical, corporate types, no offense…"

Daria mumbled something that seemed appropriate to the occasion.

"… and met your sister and all her… mundane concerns, again, no offense, and saw how you could be this cool, interesting girl even with such influences, my fear for structure just went away…"

Daria frowned and tried to say something, though what exactly, not even she knew. But Trent did not let her speak, to her relief.

"And I've noticed how you're really smart, and are probably among the top of your class, and thought you'll probably achieve all these great things in your life without having to submit to the system, and I figured none of these came easy to you, and that you probably read a lot and studied and made an effort… and I want that, too, you know…"

Trent got up and laid the guitar carefully besides his desk. He then turned to face Daria.

"I want Mys- I mean, 'Wayward Whirlwind' to be big, to be known, I want to make musical history, or at least," he smiled one of those wickedly sexy smiles that made her stomach feel like made of jelly, "get a decent recording contract. That'd be nice for a start."

Daria felt she had to say something.

"That's all… nice…"

She could not get it any more interesting than that. She cursed her melting brain for being so… melty.

Trent's smile looked slightly sad.

"I know I don't look like much right now," he added, looking down, "but I'm really trying, and I…"

What exactly are you trying to say, Trent?

"… I wanted you to know that."

Again, what are you trying to say? You're not telling me…

Daria's brain suddenly provided her with the full meaning of his words, his hesitation, his having written a song for her… and the expression of her face must have been priceless, because Trent's face suddenly became all care and concern.

"I'm sorry if this is too much," he said, holding out his hands, "I didn't mean to scare you."

Too late, pal.

"No, I-" Daria said, or more specifically, stuttered, "...you didn't scare me…"

… much

"... I'm just… overwhelmed… I didn't expect…"

I've been around like, forever, and you just now dump on me this truckload of feelings and… good God, you have hopes!

"I'm sorry," he said, kneeling down in front of her, "I guess I should have warned you…"

No warning would have been enough, believe me.

"It's fine, I'm just…"

Just what?

Trent smiled. "That day, when I left your house, I was convinced you were too young for me to date, but the more I thought of it, the more it became clear that that wasn't it…"

"No?" Daria's brain managed to turn itself back on to be interested enough in this new concept.

"No," Trent replied, "it wasn't that."

Silence. Trent seemed to have gotten lost in his thoughts again.

Well?

"Then…" she had to add, "what was it?"

"Oh, right," he snapped back, "it was…" he looked down, seemingly embarrassed. Daria had never seen him look embarrassed before, and it made a big impression on her.

"… you were too good for me to date," he finally said. "Too right, too… high, and I didn't wanna spoil your… purity… with my way of life. I didn't wanna bring you down and tie you to my… mediocrity…"

I'm not so pure! I mean… yeah, I see how you might have gotten that impression…

Daria wanted to tell him he was not mediocre, but that would have been lying, and he deserved better than that. At this point, he probably deserved the truth, and she felt she was duty-bound to tell him.

"I didn't know you thought so highly of me," she said with a soft voice, "I thought… I was the one who could never be anything to you; you are this talented artist, with a band and a life full of freedom and creativity, and I'm just a highschooler, a boring suburban teen with high grades and low self-esteem-"

He silenced her with a finger to her lips. Daria felt an electric discharge at the touch, but it was probably because his room was carpeted. Nevertheless, it felt magical. He took her softly by the shoulders and stood up, making her stand as well. Daria discovered that the height difference was not so big, but it did hurt her neck slightly to be looking up at his face.

"Daria," he said, his eyes full of emotion, "you are the best thing that's ever happened to me…"

Hold on, isn't this exactly like…

Daria could not move or speak. She knew what was coming; she had been wishing it and dreading it at the same time.

A faint beep could be heard at the distance.

Trent's face edged ever-so-slowly towards hers, his eyes closed, and the scent of cologne making her dizzy. Daria leaned closer to him, afraid of spoiling the moment, but at the same time, full of unbounded emotion and joy.

The faint beep grew less faint.

This is it, this is the moment of truth.

Trent's lips finally reached hers, and they spread a powerful warm sensation to her whole body; she pressed herself to him and felt the delicate caress of his breathing…

That beep in the distance was definitely coming closer…

Daria had her eyes closed, but still, she felt everything going blurry, and Trent's body growing lighter and lighter among her hands; she had been holding him around the waist…

"Daria…"

Damn, it must be Jane, coming back from wherever it was she went to…and that damn beep, ruining the best moment of my life!

Beep-beep-beep…

Trent was gone, but he had left her with the sensations of having actually kissed him and held him close, and Daria slowly realized she was actually lying on her back… somewhere…

"Daria, wake up!"

Right. Figures.

Daria heard steps coming near her and after a few seconds, the incessant and annoying beep stopped.

She opened her eyes.

Ah, it's you, ceiling.

"Next time," Quinn's annoyingly high-pitched voice reached her ears like a spear through her brain, "I'll smash your alarm clock with a hammer if you don't stop it at the first beep."

"Please do. I want to see you break a nail."

Daria had regained enough conscience to make a jab good enough to send Quinn fuming out her room, but it did not compensate her for what she had just lost.

The best dream of her life.

So, I'm 'little Janey's' best friend again, and I bet Trent's still the same laidback, careless Trent I've learned to know and love.

This thought made her blush slightly, but it also brought a smile to her face.

Everything's back to normal, then; my life sucks as much as yesterday.

Daria sat up and fished her glasses out from under the pillow. She had fallen asleep with her clothes on, and had probably slept through the afternoon and night.

It's just as well; my dream Trent was getting creepier by the second.

She knew she was lying to herself, but what choice did she have?