TITLE: Should've Been Easier By Three

AUTHOR: Faith Alana Alastair

DISCLAIMER: : I'm not Mike Judge, who had the original idea, or Glenn Eichler, or Susie Lewis Lynn either. I don't own any of these characters, (except Scott, Natasha, Caine, Jason, Dayton and Maggie.)

FANDOM: Daria

PAIRING: Daria/Jane, Daria/Lindy, Jane/Lindy, Daria/Jane/Lindy. Also Natasha/Jason(oc's) and Andrea/Scott

RATING: NC-17/M/FRAO

SUMMARY/PROMPT: It's College, Now. Daria decides it's time to live a little, now that she's in college.

SPOILERS: Everything through "Is It College, Yet?"

AUTHOR'S NOTES: I'm not sure where this came from, but after a Daria marathon, I decided to challenge myself a la NaNoWriMo, and managed it. I actually wrote the 50k+ words in this in 12 days.

FEEDBACK: God, please. I love this fic so much, tell me what you think.

DISTRIBUTION: Want...Ask...Have

WORD COUNT: 51,158

Daria sipped her coffee and grimaced. "How long have I really been sitting here?" She looked at the clock by her bed. "Five A.M. Guess I should get ready for the day."

She stood up, careful not to wake her sleeping roommate and gathered her things. Moving to the door, she turned the knob and jumped back, seeing Jane standing just outside her threshold, arm poised as if to knock. "Sorry I woke you."

"You didn't. I've been up all night writing a paper." She shouldered her bag and closed the door behind her. "You?"

"I just finished a sculpture of post-modern existentialism." She shrugged, hands in the pocket of her hoodie, falling into step with Daria almost out of habit.

"You sculpted the college experience in Play-Doh. If Lawndale High's faculty could see us now." She cracked a small smile and leaned over, bumping against Jane just a bit. "I'm pretty sure at least a couple of them would be proud."

Jane grinned. "They would, wouldn't they? So, breakfast? I'll buy you some pancakes."

Shrugging, Daria nodded. "Sounds great. I could use some coffee that's not ice cold." She walked outside, grimacing a bit at the chilly early-morning air. "I spoke to Tom last night. That's why I was up all night. I started late."

"Oh yeah? How is the smug snob? They teaching him how to drink tea with his pinky up?" She smirked to let Daria know she was kidding.

"He's fine. He called to ask my opinion on Kafka. We ended up rehashing things again. By which I mean, he asked me again was I certain, told me numerous times he could drive up to see me this weekend, and sighed heavily when I assured him I felt this was the best decision. We've only been here for a month, and I already feel like nothing's changed." She sighed, shifting her bag on her shoulder and pushing the door open to the café.

"Sounds like fun. And here I come with an insensitive request of your presence this weekend myself. How thoughtless." Jane slid into a booth opposite Daria.

"Coffee, please," Daria said to the waitress, then turned back to Jane. "I'd much rather spend the weekend with you than listen to Tom try to convince me to see things his way. What's the occasion?"

"Trent's bringing me a bag of art supplies I left at home. Plus, he thinks he'll pick up an artist chick to help him forget Monique. Again." She smiled gratefully as the waitress set down two mugs. "A stack of buttermilk pancakes, please. With extra butter and syrup."

Daria nodded. "Sounds good. With regular syrup, please." She turned to Jane, an eyebrow raised. "I'm not in the market for diabetes just yet, I thought I'd save that for Sophomore year."

"Good choice. Summer didn't go for it until she was pregnant. I think cutting off the flow of sugar and alcohol in the prime of your college experience is a much better option. Anyhow, Jesse got Mystic Spiral a gig at the coffee shop just outside the art school. It could be fun. And you could stay with me, get away from your roommate for the weekend."

"Sure, why not. I have to bring my laptop with me, though. I have a paper due on Monday." She sipped her coffee, and sighed. "Jane, I have a problem."

"Don't you always? I thought that's what the whole point was."

"What?"

"Never mind. Go on, spill. Your best friend awaits, ears open." She chuckled, and sipped her own coffee.

"I really kind of want Tom to go away. For awhile. I want to be friends with him, but... that's proving to be much harder in practice than in theory. He calls me every couple of days, constantly drops hints or mentions outright how close he is, and it's sort of becoming... well, maddening. I just need some space, but I'm kind of afraid he'll do that thing he always does where his pride gets wounded and he turns the entire conversation around on me. We're not even still together... but somehow he always acts like it, and manages to make me wonder just how I'm still in this mess." She sighed again, staring into her coffee.

"Have you tried a restraining order?" Jane asked, about to grin, but checked herself when Daria's eyes narrowed. "A joke, a joke. Look, sometimes people just aren't meant to be friends after dating."

"I know that, and if we weren't friends, I probably wouldn't be this bothered. But he wanted to stay friends, and now..."

Jane interrupted Daria. "And now you're wondering why. It's obvious, Daria. The only reason guys ever want to truly stay friends, is..."

"Don't even say it," she responded, cutting Jane off. "It's not like it ever happened before, there's no reason to assume it would now."

"I didn't really mean that, I was going to say, 'to get back together', but now that you mention it, maybe he's hoping the freedom of the college experience would... change your mind."

"Loosen me up, you mean. I hate boys." She accepted her plate with a small, "thank you," and picked up her fork.

"Well, if you're serious, there's this girl I could introduce you to..."

Daria stared at Jane. "What?"

Jane shrugged, pouring syrup on her pancakes. "I'm just saying, people experiment in college, explore new possibilities, widen their view on their own identity. If that's what you're doing, I support you completely."

Daria sat silent for a moment, her mind reeling with different courses of thought. She briefly reveled in the fact that she was sitting with the one person on Earth who wouldn't automatically construe her silence for acceptance or denial. "I suppose it wouldn't be so terrible to consider the idea... in theory of course."

Jane shrugged. "Not at all. Let it sink in, marinate for a bit in your mind. And if you find that the image doesn't fill you with a lustful passion, then you can move on." She took a bite and smiled.

Daria smiled back. "You're a good friend."