Disclaimer: All recognizable characters within this story are the property of their copyright holders. I am not making any money from this story, and no infringement is intended.

Author's Note: Ok people, I'm doing this. Some of you have been waiting a LONG Mother-effing time for this story. I've been waffling about if I even want to finish it. If you followed along with my other Daria stories you know that I had lost all my work for this story at some point, and then I lost my muse. I've been writing a Buffy-based story for over a year now, but this week I've had this niggling desire to work on this story again. Since I'm almost done with the Buffy story, I figured I would go ahead and post this first chapter of this story to force myself to start working on it again. I'm still mostly focused on the last few chapters of Buffy, so the updates for this story will have a lot of time between them, but I WILL finish it.

This is the last in my Daria Series. It is the sequel to my stories "The Request" and "The Pole". I think it is possible for this story to be read as a stand-alone if you just go with everything in it, but the other two stories have a lot of background info in them. This story is going to be very different from the first two, which were written from Daria's POV mostly with a chapter here and there from Trent's POV. This one is almost completely Trent, with a few chapters from other character's POVs and a flashback or two.

WARNING: Adult themes, cursing, mentions of alcohol, drugs, and sex will be sprinkled throughout. If you are not 18 or object to such subject matter, kindly take your leave.

The Fan

Been a Long Time

December 10th, 2012, 9:30 PM

God, its days like today that make it hard to stay sober.

Why did today tempt me into an aching need to go running for the nearest drug dealer I could find? Well, it started out with the toilet on the tour bus backing up at 4:30 AM this morning. That was pleasant. Around 8:00 AM I found out that my sponsor in Narcotics Anonymous relapsed and had nearly OD'ed. Then Nick spent most of the ride yelling into a cell phone at his kid for some stunt he pulled at his school. It apparently included the details of a suspension, a $5,000 charge on Nick's credit card, and pudding. After that we found out the new guy who was driving the equipment truck got lost from our jaunt to San Francisco from Portland, so when we finally got to the venue we couldn't set up, making the crowd pissed during the wait. But the most recent problem in a long line of problems today? Crappy security at the stadium, and crappy guardrails, which led to a mass bum-rush to the stage from the agitated crowd and some fans got smooshed.

Lawsuits, great. Just what we need right now on top of the fact that our most recent album sucks.

Thankfully, no one died or had injuries serious enough to be taken to the hospital from what I'd heard so far. After yelling at our manager to get on damage control and verbally bitch-slapping the guys in charge at the stadium, I told Nick, Max, and Jesse that we better go do a meet-and-greet with the injured fans and hope that they didn't press charges.

We didn't have a giant following, we were nowhere near as big as bands like Metallica, but the fans we had were fiercely loyal and we tried to treat them well to show our appreciation. Well, most of them were loyal anyway. They were until the third "professional" album came out. That one was the first time I'd written all by myself in a long while, and it split our fans down the middle on if they liked it or not. This fourth album that had come out recently, and we were touring to promote right now, was even more divisive. None of the songs made it to the top 100 of any chart in any country. Sales were horrible, and horribly depressing.

Still, can't really complain I guess. We had a modest success with the first album, and the second one stayed in the top fifty lists for forty-six weeks. Never made it to number one though ... but we still got big enough to headline our own tour and quit our day jobs. Oh wait, probably supposed to get those first before you can quit them …

We finally got to the room with the injured fans and began talking to each of them one at a time and autographing things for them as the EMTs checked them out. Eventually, we made it to the last kid in the group, and he really caught my attention. He was so young, close to 5 years old maybe, and he didn't appear to have any parents with him. His inky black hair was cut into one of those faux-hawks I see all the time, but I noticed that one side of his head had been buzzed into some sort of swirl design. Even though he looked like a little rocker, he was wearing these big geeky glasses that instantly drew me in for some reason. Yet the thing that really popped out at me was he t-shirt that was a couple of sizes too big for him. It wasn't the size that caught my eye though, it was the fact that it was one of our first generation band shirts and this kid could not have been old enough to ever get one in person. Janey had designed and hand-painted those shirts back when she was still in high school; she had made maybe only 30 and there were probably only a few of those left in existence today.

Where in the hell did he get that shirt? I don't even have one of those. Internet auction site maybe? It still looks like new, who would have gotten one of those shirts back then and kept it this long?

"Hey kid, where did you get that shirt? It's like, really old," Jesse asked as we approached him, apparently recognizing the shirt too. He smiled up at us with this quirky little smirk as the other fans were talked to one-by-one by our legal guy and escorted out from the back room we were in.

"Actually, it's my mom's shirt. I begged to wear it for the concert and she finally caved when I threatened to call my grandma and ask her to come visit us for a week. It put the fear of god into her."

Wow, sneaky little kid.

"Cool, so your mom is an old fan then? That shirt is from the old days before we hit it big, not many people ever got one," Max added.

The kid suddenly looked a little uncomfortable and began looking anywhere but at our faces.

"Ummm, I don't know. She has a lot of your stuff so I guess she's a fan, but she makes fun of you guys. A lot," he shrugged apologetically as he said that last part, making all of us chuckle a little.

"Where is she little dude? You can't be here all on your own," Nick, the dad of the group asked, "How old are you? You gotta name?"

"I'm Hunter, I'm six, my birthday was last month, and I like long walks on the beach. With girls, FYI, so thanks for the interrogation," he laughed, "my mom's here, somewhere I guess, but once we got inside the stadium I lost her so that I could get closer to the stage. She doesn't like crowds but there's no way I was going to not get as close as I could, you know?"

"Aren't you afraid that she's worried about you? Want us to help you find her?" I asked as I crouched down to be eye-level with him.

"Naw she could probably use the break, I've been told that I'm a hell-raiser. I already told that security guard over there that I got separated from her, so he's looking for her but my money's betting that she takes off to teach me not to run off on her like that. She's cool."

I wish I had had my shit as together as he does now. He talks like a little adult; there is just no way he's only 6 years old. I swear to God something about him is familiar to me, it feels like I met this little guy before but I know I've never seen him in my life. But damn this kid is cool, quite possibly one of the coolest kids I've ever met … wait … holy crap. The glasses? The smirk? The way-too-grown-up vocab? The cutting sarcasm?

"Hey Hunter, just out of curiosity, what's your last name?"

Hunter started to reply but was suddenly cut off from a monotone voice from behind me.

"His last name is Morgendorffer, and if he wants to live long enough to ever use it again he had better give me a good answer for why he ditched me as soon as we got here."

Hunter rolled his eyes and mumbled "Sorry Mom but you know me; I just got caught up with a swell of emotions and had to go cry about it. It's not like I would EVER ditch my mother. At a rock concert. On purpose."

I wasn't listening. I had frozen the second I heard that voice, not even needing the name drop to recognize exactly who was behind me. My heart raced, and suddenly images from my past came rushing back to me of the one woman I was sure was at the root of my recent relationship problems since I had given her my heart and she had never given it back before we parted. And did I mention that she stomped all over it? Then the realization of the mom/son exchange in front of me slapped me in the face.

Oh crap, crap, crap! What do I do? I haven't seen her in forever. She has a kid? Who's the bastard that knocked up MY Daria? Is she married? Why is she here? What do I do? Be excited? Be cool and collected? Act hurt that she hasn't had any contact with me for years? Hit on her? I better do something now though, I've been still and silent too long and it will start to look weird.

Pulling myself together, I finally stood up from my kneeling position in front of Hunter. Not sure of what to expect, I slowly turned around after deciding to try out the whole "cool and calm" thing and hope for the best. It was so stupid to hope, because once I saw her we locked eyes and it was like getting caught by a tractor beam. She smiled at me with that mysterious little smirk of hers and tried to look relaxed and in control, but it didn't reach her eyes. I stood there still frozen and silent and stared into those eyes trying to find something, anything, that I couldn't get from anyone else.

"Hey Daria," I heard Max say from behind me, obviously nervous about the long silence that was stretching out from the weirdness factor that was going on. I'm glad he broke it; I sure as hell didn't have the ability to speak yet.

The other guys jumped at the chance to fill the silent void in the room and greeted her as well. She smiled warmly and broke eye contact with me as she looked to the guys standing around the room. "Hey Max, Jesse, Nick. How are you guys doing? I mean, other than living the dream and keeping your eyes on the prize?"

They all laughed and mumbled something to her in response, but I couldn't pay attention to them now as I was willing myself to do something before I became a statue stuck like this forever. Finally, she turned her gaze back to mine, looking nervous again.

"Hi Trent. It's been a long time."

She just spoke my name like we were in this room alone. How can she do that to me, make me feel that everyone disappears when we are together even though it's been so long since we've spoken. I don't care if it's weird, I need to feel her again just in case this is the last time I ever see her.

With that determination, I broke myself from my fog and hurriedly walked up to her. Wordlessly, I threw my arms around her tiny frame and pulled a surprised Daria to me in a giant hug. I lowered my face into her hair, and at first I was getting worried that she was pissed because I could feel her tense up but then I felt her whole body relax and let me pull her even closer. I nearly cried when I felt her wrap her arms around my back as she hugged me back.

After breathing in the smell of her hair, I actually managed to say something.

"Hey Daria."