Disclaimer: In regards to this story, I own no one and nothing.
Chapter 1: Life Coach
Trent Lane opened his brown eyes and groggily tried to make out the world around him. Immediately he was aware that he was unaware of where he was. Most people might have found this frightening, but for someone who was at ease in most situations and could sleep anywhere, this was a normal everyday occurrence.
He groaned and wiped his eyes, trying to think about where he was. He remembered playing at the Zon the night before with Mystik Spiral. A lot of memories were stirred up and he'd been drinking heavily to forget. Looks like he forgot a little too well.
Once more he opened his eyes and a red head swam before his blurred vision. "Daria?" he asked in surprise.
"As if," the girl stated flatly as he sat up on the bed and looked at her in confusion. She had long red hair, was wearing a baby blue camisole with a white bra on underneath, and a pair of tight blue jeans. She was sitting on a chair next to a bed with a book in her lap and a nail file in her hands.
"Whoa," he mused as he worked to place how he knew her. "Daria's sister."
She raised her eyebrows in disdain at this estimation. It wasn't the fact that she was Daria's sister that annoyed her, or that he had woken up and confused her for her sister. It was the simple fact that he had never once called her by her name in the five years that she'd known him. "God, Trent, how much did you drink last night?"
He was silent as he gave that question the deep contemplation that he felt it deserved.
"Nevermind, I just decided it was hypothetical," Quinn Morgendorffer cut off his train of thought as she realized how painful waiting for an answer could be.
"Cool," he answered in a gravelly low voice. "So...Daria's sister, where am I?"
She sniffed in disbelief, not understanding in the least what her brainy older sister found so enigmatic about this guy. "You don't know?"
"I could hazard a guess considering you're here...and it looks familiar. How'd I get here?" Trent replied staring at the sister of his sister's best friend. Yeah, that's all Daria was to him. His sisters best friend. A pain stabbed him in his heart and he closed his eyes to not look at the girl that resembled her so closely.
Quinn laughed a little derisively, "well, you came stumbling up to our door at around 3:30 this morning, ringing the doorbell, banging on the door and shouting that you had to talk to Daria. Mom and dad just about f-reaked when they saw you and guessed your intentions towards their little girl. Luckily, Daria's still at Raft for another three months so you saved yourself some embarrassment there."
Trent tried to keep his face numb, but couldn't help the little raise of his eye brows at the mention of his drunken demands, or the furrow to his brow at the mention that Daria and Janey were gone for so much longer. He coughed into his hand to try and cover his emotions that he felt were dancing on his countenance for the airhead before him to see.
"Hmm, well, I better get going," Trent murmured once he subsided the coughing attack. "You know, band's got to rehearse, and I'm gonna be late...or early...whatever."
He swung his legs off the side of the bed and contemplated standing up. He contemplated walking out of the room and hoping that he didn't meet up with the elder Morgendorffer's - the parents of the two polarly opposite and yet oddly complimentary girls. Daria lived here. He could almost feel her presence in this house, suffocating him like it did at the Zon, like it did at his house, like it did everywhere. He couldn't breathe he was so surrounded by her memory. He sighed and dropped his head down, thinking about what to do from here.
"You know," the red-head commented as she watched him. "I miss my sister, too."
He looked up and over at her in surprise. "I talk to Janey all the time. Yeah, it sucks she's gone, but she's with me all the time."
"Earth to Trent, I said I missed my sister, I didn't say anything at all about your sister!" Quinn chastised him in annoyance. Really, couldn't fathom what Daria saw in him.
Trent blinked in surprise as he understood where the wheels in her head were trying to steer him to. He decided that backpedaling was the best course of action, his drunken stupor the night before seemed to have revealed more than he had intended on anyone ever seeing…ever. "Whoa, Daria's cool and all, but she's just Janey's little friend..."
"Ugh," Quinn groaned in utter disgust at the answer, standing up and picking up her book and discarded nail file. "I was going to see if I could help you out, but if you're still hung up on the age thing, then nothing will ever get settled."
She turned to leave, but paused as Trent grabbed her arm. "What do you mean, caught up on the age thing?"
Quinn turned back to face him, her hand on her right hip as she studied him critically. Well, he was about 3 platinum cards from ever dating her, but for Daria...she guessed he was cute enough. "Trent, you've known my sister since she was fifteen years old. You have had a crush on my sister since she was fifteen years old. Ba-ba-ba-ba!" she held up a hand to stifle his protests. "It's obvious, Trent, just like her crush on you was pathetically obvious. You let her grow up around you here in Lawndale, and then two years ago she and your sister packed up and moved out. You haven't been the same since. I agree that there's a big age difference between a fifteen year old and twenty-one year old, believe me I would have had my mother throwing your ass in jail so quickly if you had laid a hand on my sister during that time. The age difference between a twenty year old and a twenty six year old...it's not so big anymore, Trent. She's a big girl now."
Five years. Had it really been that long? Where had the time gone? He remembered so many times Daria being over with Janey. He used to stand outside the door and listen to their conversations on nothing. The proclamations Daria would make when she didn't think anyone other than Janey was listening amused and astounded him. Her mind was a fierce weapon should she choose to turn it on someone.
Now he stood outside the door and strained to listen to faint memories. He hadn't taken Janey moving out well, but it was really the lack of his blunt and brutal conversations with Daria that was taking its toll on Trent Lane. He couldn't like Daria like that though...she was...Daria. Beautifully, wildly, independently Daria. No one really stood a chance at catching her. She'd let you get close, she'd let you think you had a chance, and just when your fingers were about to enclose around her, she'd slip through your grasp like a moonbeam.
Quinn waited with as close to a patient expression as she could muster upon her face. When it became apparent that he was working through something, her boredom faltered, "you've never really thought about it, have you?"
"Thought about what?" he asked quietly, looking up at the girl.
"Your feelings for Daria," she answered, sitting back down and observing him further.
Trent shook his head slowly, "nope. That's off limits territory. Even without the age difference, Daria is Daria. She's the most together person that I know, even if she is a little socially awkward. I'm not going anywhere, I know it and you know it...and Daria knows it. Your sister though, the world's gonna fall before her."
"She'd like company for the ride," Quinn commented to him.
"I'm a bum, Quinn," he stated quietly.
Quinn started, more in surprise at his use of her name than anything else. "You know my name?" She asked him.
He stifled his laughter with a cough. "Glad you caught the important part of that statement."
Quinn, quickly realizing her folly, rushed to assure the man that she didn't consider him a bum, which was difficult given her true feelings on the subject. After many bumbling starts, she finally sighed and leveled with him, "look, Trent, you've done remarkably well with what you had. Yeah, you don't have a job and you don't really have goals, and you're basically a narcoleptic mess, but you're still a great guy! I mean, if I was left to look after a younger sibling right now with no real means of support, I wouldn't be in the best shape either, but that doesn't mean you're not worth Daria. She's crazy about you!"
"She was," he agreed.
"You knew?" Quinn screeched in disbelief.
He shrugged, "like you said, it was obvious. What was I supposed to do then though? She was a fifteen year old genius and I was a twenty-one year old loser. Besides, you don't think I didn't know what your mother would do to me if I even looked at her daughter?"
A frown flitted across Quinn's features as she realized how hard it must have been for Trent to know that he could have had Daria, but that age and an overprotective, lawyer mother interfered.
Deeply she studied the young man before her while he stared back with impassive eyes. He could tell the wheels in her brain were spinning somewhere involving him, he just had to sit back and wait.
"We have three months," Quinn finally stated firmly.
Confused, he raised his eyebrows, "for what?"
"To make you into someone that will knock my sister off her feet. Consider me your new life coach, Trent Lane. I will teach you manners, organization, things to talk with Daria about, everything that you will need to know in order to feel yourself good enough for her."
His brow furrowed in response to her words. "What?"
"Trent, my sister is a genius in many fields academically, but she's socially lacking. I, on the other hand, am a genius at inter-personal relationships. If you're willing, I'm willing to overhaul your entire life and restructure you into something presentable."
"Like a makeover?"
Quinn considered that, "yeah, like a life makeover. I'm not just talking wardrobe, I'm talking entire being. You'll be you, but you polished up."
He considered that, considered the river of apathy he had been floating down since he graduated high school. Mystik Spiral was all but broken up these days since he and Jesse couldn't get their act together enough to do much of anything. Max and Nick had pretty much sent through their resignation papers and were only riding out the last few concerts before they bailed altogether. His own life was going nowhere, and rather quickly at that. He had found a gray hair a few weeks ago. It had taken him several minutes of staring at himself in the mirror to come to terms with the fact that it wasn't an oddly colored blond hair poking out of his thick black locks, but rather a shiny silver strand of pigmentless death. The end was nie: he was old.
"You'll get my act together?" he asked her quietly.
"Well God knows that somebody has to!" Quinn stated sharply. She held out her hand to him. "I will do everything I can to help you get your life started."
He stared at the hand presented to him. "You think that this will get me Daria?"
She bit her lip and then quickly put her teeth away, afraid of the damage she would do to her constantly moisturized and exfoliated lips. "Look, Trent, I would like to say that this is going to completely change your life and cause Daria to swoon and fall into your arms so you two can go riding off into the sunset on a white horse with easy listening music playing in the background, but I can't guarantee that, and I think we both know how weird and wrong it would be if it played out like that. All I can say is that I think that you need this change for you and I highly recommend that you accept my offer."
"What's in it for you?" Trent questioned her.
She suppressed a sigh. She had rather hoped that he wouldn't ask why she would volunteer her time like this. Making a decision, she decided to give him the abridged answer. "I need a project to keep me occupied and I elected this would be it. It's a win/win situation."
In the back of his mind, he could hear a voice screaming at him that he was going to regret this, but he couldn't stop himself as he held his hand out and took the red-heads into his own, sealing the deal.
Thus formed the unlikeliest of alliances, and hell got just a little bit colder.