Disclaimer: Daria and associated characters are owned by MTV. This is fan fiction written for entertainment only. No money or other negotiable currency or goods have been exchanged.
Original characters and plot copyright Richard J. Lobinske, 2004.
This is the third story in the Falling into College series.
Lindy and the Knight
Jane slowly walked down the stairs from her room. The late morning sun shown in through the windows to illuminate the maroon shirt and black shorts she'd slept in. After navigating to the kitchen, she located the coffee, and dumped a crudely measured amount into a filter, which was unceremoniously dropped into the coffee maker basket. She filled the carafe from the sink and poured its contents into the back, ignoring the spillage. With the carafe back in place, she punched the "on" button and wandered to the living room to wait.
"Trent played McGrundy's last night. I wonder what kind of crap he dropped in the living room, this time." Jane wondered aloud as she entered the room.
A blonde woman, hair pulled into a loose pony tail, early twenties, was asleep on the sofa under a loose sheet. Her head was cradled on arms sleeved in denim. Sock-covered feet protruded from under the sheet, the hem of blue jeans visible also. A pair of low, brown boots was on the floor nearby.
"Trent. Another one?"
Jane opened Trent's door and carefully moved her right hand, holding a full cup of coffee, into the room. She sipped from a cup held in her left.
"Hey! Trent. Wake up."
"Dammit! Wake your sorry butt up!"
"So you can tell me who the hell that blonde is."
"The girl you left on the sofa last night, great way to treat your date."
Trent rolled off the bed and fell, face first, onto the floor. Pushing himself up, he turned to face Jane. "She wasn't my date."
"So what's she doing here?"
Trent started to get off the floor. "We found her passed out by the Tank."
"Why didn't you take her home?"
Sorting through a pile of clothes, he extracted a pair of pants. "Didn't have an ID."
"Nobody there knew who she was?"
Pulling his pants on, Trent stumbled toward the proffered coffee. "Somebody said her name was Lynn or something like that."
"Might be a student at Lawndale State."
"So, nobody knew where she was staying."
Jane handed the cup to her brother. "Okay, you did the right thing bringing her here. No telling what could have happened to her, passed-out around that bar."
Trent sipped from the cup. "Hope she was just drunk. Cops busted someone for rohipnol last night."
"Well, she seemed to be breathing okay when I was down there. I hope she doesn't get sick on us."
"I think she did last night on the way here."
"Please tell me you brought her home in the Tank."
"Uh. No. We came home in my rig."
Jane's shoulders slumped. "Did you at least get her head out a window?"
"Damn. Trent, get that coffee down and keep an eye on her. I've already got a big glass of water and some aspirin ready for her on the kitchen table. I have to drive that car too, you know. I'm going to start getting it cleaned out."
"Argh!" Jane stomped downstairs and out of the house.
"Four months. Just four more months." Jane complained as she squatted next to the passenger door of the Plymouth. An open bag of cat litter was on the seat, and a wet/dry shop vac was just behind her.
Jane pushed the brush into the bucket of disinfectant, pulled it out, and went back to scrubbing the floor of the car.
"I should just tear all this out and put in a drain plug. It would make cleaning this thing out a hell of a lot easier."
The sound of a car pulling into the driveway got Jane's attention. She looked up to see a familiar blue Lexus. A worried-looking Quinn emerged and rushed up to Jane.
"Jane, is your brother home?"
Jane thought to herself, Quinn asking about my brother. This is too weird. Don't I at least get to chase the white rabbit?
Standing up, she faced Quinn. "He's here, but not quite ready for normal human interactions."
"Whatever. Look, was his band playing at McGrundy's Pub last night?"
Jane raised an eyebrow in concern. "Yes. What's going on?"
"A friend of mine didn't get home from there last night. We were supposed to get together for some shopping today. When she didn't show up, I called her apartment. Her roommate said she went out to McGrundy's and never came home. I was just over there and her car was still in the parking lot. A guy cleaning up said the band found somebody passed out by their van."
Quinn hesitated, lowered her voice, and continued. "She, um, sometimes has a kind of drinking problem. I hope Trent knows what happened to her."
"Does your friend have blonde hair, wears in a pony tail?"
Quinn jumped. "Yes!"
"Is her name Lynn or something like that?"
"Lindy. Do you know if she's okay?"
Jane wiped her hands on an old towel she pulled off the car roof. "Follow me."
They entered Casa Lane to find Lindy awake, her legs curled under her, leaning against Trent. Trent held one arm protectively over her shoulders. Lindy nursed the glass of water that Jane had set out earlier.
Lindy squinted through pale blue eyes that were not yet focusing properly. "Quinn?"
"Yes. I was so worried."
"Why? Oh, wait a minute. We're going shopping today. What time is it?"
Quinn whispered, "Lindy, did you have too much to drink last night?"
"Guess I did. I'm sorry."
"Please be careful."
"I will. Have you met Trent? She leaned her head against his chest. "He's the gentle knight that rescued me last night."
Quinn had a mental image of Trent leaving the Morgendorffer home with Monique, almost two years before. Daria was watching from the hall window, almost in tears. "We've met."
Trent and Jane watched Quinn drive Lindy away in the Lexus. Jane snickered and put her hand on Trent's shoulder.
"There you go, having another one fall for you."
"Hey! She was upset when she woke up."
"And you just helped her to calm down."
"Tried to make her comfortable."
"Trent, you make all women feel comfortable. That's why they like you so much." Jane turned way and muttered, quietly, "All but one, that is."
"What was that?"
"Never mind. Since you're not on drunk watch, help me finish cleaning the car."
"Just let this remind you to be careful. From what Quinn said, she might have a drinking problem."
"Well, why don't we see? She does seem to be a nice girl."
Once the car was out of the driveway, Lindy turned to Quinn.
"Don't worry about stopping at the hospital to get me checked; I know nothing happened."
Quinn nearly panicked. "How can you be sure? There's at least an hour you can't account for!"
Lindy pulled a plastic-wrapped tampon from her jacket pocket. "Rapists normally don't replace these. All the ones I had on me are accounted for."
Quinn giggled. "So that's why you didn't want to tell Trent why you were so certain."
"Didn't want to embarrass him, or gross him out. Otherwise, I would be beating on you to get to the hospital five minutes ago."
"Okay, Lindy. I know Trent's cute, and a nice guy, but be careful around him."
"Why should I be careful? I've never had somebody watch out for me like that."
"I don't want you getting hurt."
"I can't see him hurting a fly."
"That's the scary part. He might never realize he did it."
"Okay. What's the deal? You clearly don't trust him. Tell me."
"I don't want to go into details. But, I've never seen my sister so hurt in my life."
Quinn entered the Morgendorffer home with a single shopping bag. Worry lined her face as she closed the door. She called toward the living room. "Dad, I'm home."
"Hey, there. You're home early. You and your friend buy out the stores?" Jake asked from the sofa.
"She ran late and didn't feel well, so we didn't get much shopping done."
"Too bad. Hope your friend feels better soon."
"Yeah, so do I. I'll be in my room."
Quinn went upstairs and walked down the hall. She stopped by Daria's old room and peeked in. The dusty, plywood floor was littered with construction debris. New window casements had been installed to eliminate the bars. The walls were covered in half-finished drywall. Quinn closed the door and went into her room. She tossed the bag toward her closet and picked up the telephone. Checking the number taped to her mirror, she quickly dialed.
Karen reached over to pick up the ringing wall phone. Textbooks and notebooks were scattered around where she sat on her bed.
"Yes, Quinn. I suppose you want to talk to your sister."
Karen covered the mouthpiece. "You hear that?"
Daria was at the computer on her desk. She saved the word processor file she was working on, rose, and walked toward her roommate. "I heard."
She took the phone and dropped down onto her bed. "Thanks."
"Hey, Quinn. Mom blow a fuse?"
"No. Can I talk to you about someone other than them?"
"I suppose, but I don't see where I can help with the old fashion crowd."
"You remember my friend from Governor's Park, Lindy?"
Daria wrinkled her forehead slightly. "That was the one you were worried about drinking?"
"That's her. I think she's getting worse."
"She passed out at McGrundy's last night."
"Pretty embarrassing, having to get her friends to haul her butt home. I already see that as a regular occurrence with some of the girls on the floor."
"Um. She was by herself. Her friends had left."
"Oh. That's bad. Did anything happen to her?"
"One of the band members took her home and kept an eye on her. She's okay."
"So Trent brought home another stray, and it was your friend."
"How'd you know it was Trent?"
"Mystic Spiral normally plays there on Friday nights, been doing that for quite a while now. Nick wouldn't be able to take her home, long story. Max would leave her in the Tank; he doesn't trust anybody inside his place. Jesse, well, he easily gets distracted. Trent has the good sense, and the ethics, to take somebody in.
"How do you do that?"
"Never mind. Look, do you have any ideas on how to help her?"
"They say that somebody like that won't really get help until they realize they need it. You mentioned before that she would quit for a week when she was worried. So, she suspects, but isn't admitting it. Try asking her to quit for a month. If she has a real problem, she probably won't be able to stay away from it that long. If she does, then I don't think she has a drinking problem, just a common sense problem."
"Thanks, I'll try that." Quinn hesitated, then said with concern, "She likes Trent."
"That's not surprising."
"You're not upset?"
"Why would I be? Oh. Quinn, I've been over that for almost two years. It's fine.
"Are you sure?"
"I remember how hurt you looked when he went out with that freaky goth girl. I don't want him to hurt Lindy."
Daria sighed. The memory was still painful. "Yes, I was hurt, but I've had time to get over it. That was also a very different situation. Trent's a good guy. He won't try to hurt her."
Still suspicious, Quinn said, "Okay. But I'm still going to keep an eye on him."
"Probably not a bad idea. He can forget things on occasion."
"You're welcome, Sis." Daria smiled. "I hope you can help your friend. Just be careful yourself that you don't get pulled into something you're not prepared for."
"I will. Good bye."
Karen set down her chemistry book. "Trent? Old boyfriend?
Daria blushed slightly. "Not quite."
"You still like him?"
"He's my best friend's older brother. I've kind of adopted him as mine, too."
"That reminds me. Hope you don't mind my asking. I've noticed you haven't been out on any dates. Got a boyfriend back home?"
"No. Not since last spring. Before you ask, I just haven't had the time or interest since I got here."
"Oh. I was just curious. With how pretty you are, I was kind of worried about you having so many it would be disruptive."
Daria felt very uneasy at the compliment. "Umm. Yeah. I'm a real knockout. Anyway, you don't have to worry about me having too many boyfriends, that's Quinn's department. I found that one at a time was enough."
"Hmm. Okay." Karen watched Daria out of the corner of her eye as she brought her chemistry book back up, thinking, God. What happened to her?
Jane settled into the chair behind the instructor's desk and looked out over the Monday afternoon study hall. One of the joys of being a Teaching Assistant, study hall monitor. Quinn and her friends were clustered at one table. Sandi was reading Waif. Interestingly, Stacy was reading Car and Driver.
That's odd. Jane thought.
Odder still, Tiffany was reading what looked like a textbook. Quinn sat next to her, occasionally making comments or pointing to something in the book.
Jane stared at the blank page of her sketchbook and pondered. Trent hooking up with some girl from a gig is nothing new…Lindy seems nice enough, but might be an alcoholic…He doesn't need to deal with another one of those.
Jane began a sketch of Quinn, leaning toward Tiffany.
What is it with Quinn?...She's being very protective of Lindy and suspicious of Trent…If this goes to pieces, and Quinn decides to blame it on Trent, I don't want to see him targeted by that Morgendorffer revenge streak.
She sketched a while longer, and then sighed.
I need to talk to her…Ugh.
"Joey! Not now, I'm busy." Quinn barked at the black haired boy seated at the adjacent table.
Jane grinned. Putting on a firm voice, Jane said, "Ms. Morgendorffer. Come up here please."
Quinn gave Jane a surprised look, and then shot a dirty one at Joey. She marched to the front of Jane's desk.
Jane placed both hands on the desk, rose, and leaned forward, right in front of Quinn. She quietly said, "React like I'm chewing you out."
Quinn nodded unevenly.
"You're worried about Lindy, I'm concerned about Trent. We need to figure out what's going on here."
Quinn hesitantly nodded.
"Good. I'll stop by your house after school."
Quinn cringed, but nodded.
Jane said, at a room-level voice, "Okay, now please return to your seat." She looked straight at Joey. "You! No more of that either."
Quinn sat at the kitchen table, nervously awaiting the doorbell. The ringing brought her to her feet and she ran to the door. She opened it and quickly pulled Jane inside.
"You know I can't let anybody see you here."
"Fraternizing with faculty members. I know. It's not that long since high school."
Quinn directed Jane upstairs. "My room."
Jane was unsettled to see the dust and drywall scraps near the door to Daria's old room. "Good thing it's closed."
Quinn dropped two pillows on the carpet and sat down on one. "Okay, let's talk."
Jane sat a little awkwardly, not being used to sitting down that far while wearing a skirt. "I'll start. I'm concerned about your animosity toward Trent. I know you two never really hit it off well, but you almost seemed pissed at him."
"Trent hurt my sister real bad. I don't want him to hurt Lindy."
"When you two stayed here because your family freaked out, Trent paraded that trashy …thing…in front of the house. I learned what a broken heart looks like; I saw it in Daria that night."
"Quinn, he didn't know how Daria felt. She never told him."
Quinn yelled, "Bullcrap! I can't believe Trent is that stupid. Everybody knew how Daria felt about him. She didn't have to tell him."
"Trent can be oblivious at times."
"That bad? She got a rash for a while when he was around. She could hardly speak. She was always blushing. She couldn't take her eyes off him. Tad Gupty could have figured it out."
Jane's confidence in her argument fell. "Umm. Well, yeah. He didn't know she was watching. He thought Daria and I were talking."
"So? Why did he have whatshername come over here?"
"I think she invited herself."
"Even if you're right and he didn't know, he hurt her. He's either very cruel, or very thoughtless."
Jane's voice was quiet. "You're right. He's not cruel. But I guess he doesn't realize what he does sometimes. However, I know Daria doesn't hold any hard feelings against him for that. You need to try to do the same."
Quinn slumped back some. "Daria has always been a much better person than I was. I have a harder time letting go of things like this. I'll try. Why are you so worried about Lindy? She's really nice."
"You said she had a drinking problem. Trent, um, has had some bad experiences with that."
"Trent tends to try to keep helping far too late. He's been hurt that way before."
"Okay. I can see you're worried too."
"And to be honest, I don't like cleaning vomit out of the car."
"When I stopped by Saturday, you were cleaning up after Lindy, weren't you?"
Jane rocked back and forth in thought for a few seconds, before speaking. "They're both adults: we can't really stop them from seeing each other. Why don't we stay in contact over this, and give them an unknown line of communication. If Lindy tells you that Trent is being stupid, you can let me know, and I will light a fire under his butt to straighten up. If Lindy starts to get weird, I can let you know and you can give her some hints. If things start to go south, maybe we can reduce the damage."
"Sounds like you want to help them get together."
"I want to avoid people getting hurt. This is a case where we need to be there for those we care about. Agreed?"
Jane jogged down the steps to the basement, two and three at a time. Trent was lost in his own mind as he played guitar. Jane beelined to the amp and yanked the guitar cord out.
Trent jumped and looked toward Jane. "Hey! What are you doing? I was in the middle of a good riff."
Jane's voice was strained and she was little winded by the run from the Morgendorffers. "I don't care. We're going to talk."
Trent set the guitar on its stand. "Okay. If it's about the food, I'll buy some more to make up what the band ate."
"The hell with that!" Jane stared directly into Trent's eyes. "Do you remember when we stayed over at Daria's, during the last Lane home invasion?"
"Tell me, exactly. What did you know about Daria's feelings for you?"
"What brought this on?"
Trent shuffled, but couldn't break eye contact with his sister. "I knew she had a crush on me."
"And you did nothing but waltz off with Monique?"
"Jane. It's…more complicated than that."
"You knew, and avoided her? How stupid are you?"
Trent's frustration allowed him to break away. "Jane, how stupid are you?"
"She was seventeen. It wouldn't have worked out."
"Couldn't you have tried?"
"That would've hurt her a hell of a lot more. I couldn't do that."
"I never meant to hurt her that night, I still feel bad about that. But, in the long run, what I did was the right thing."
"That doesn't mean that we don't care for each other. We've talked this out. She's like another little sister for me, and she feels the same."
Jane limply sat down on an amp. "Was I so wrong to want you two together?"
"Not entirely. Your intentions were good."
"So, I should start a paving company?"
Trent put his arm around her and pulled her up. "You're a Lane. You let your heart get ahead of your brain."
"So that's it."
"Come on. I'll buy you a slice."
Quinn looked across the food court booth at Lindy. Half-eaten salads were in front of them.
"Friday night scared you, didn't it?"
"Yes. When I woke up in a strange house, I was terrified."
"That'd do it for me, too."
"I was lucky that Trent is the one who found me, and kept an eye on me."
"Lindy, I'm worried also. You once told me you would quit drinking for a week to prove you can."
"I'm doing that now. I haven't had a drink since I woke up Saturday."
"Will you try something for me?"
"Instead of a week, could you stop for a month? To show you can."
"It means that much to you?"
"Of course. You're my friend."
"I'll do it, only because you're the first friend to be this concerned about me. Everyone else just laughs it off. After the other night, I've gotten worried."
"Don't forget, you have people to help, including Trent."
"You're not worried about him anymore?"
"I'm still concerned. But, I have to accept your judgment. In a way, you can also rely on Jane."
"I don't know; she seemed pretty cold toward me."
"If helping you is good for her brother, she will."
"Come on in; set that down on the table." Lindy directed Trent toward her kitchen.
He carried the takeout from Good Times Chinese to the table and started to separate the orders.
Lindy brought over two glasses of ice water and sat down. "Thanks for picking up dinner."
"No problem." Trent sat after he finished his task.
"Trent, your sister's right to be concerned about my drinking. Quinn's concerned, and so am I. I'm going to try to not drink anything for a month. Will you help me?"
Trent reached across the table and took her hand. "I'll be there. Don't worry."
"Thanks. Quinn will also be there for me, and she seems to think that Jane will too, if only for you."
"Jane's a bit protective."
"Isn't that usually the other way around, the big brother is protective of the little sister?"
"I guess it works both ways. Jane's been the one who's held things together around here for the last several years."
Lindy smiled. "I kind of got that impression."
The two quietly ate for a while. Lindy took a deep breath, closed her eyes, and breathed out.
"Quinn was worried about me seeing you. Tell me, what happened between you and Daria?"
Trent looked at her with great sadness in his eyes. "Have you ever been in the situation, no matter how you felt about somebody, that you could only hurt them in the long run?"
Jane signed the painting with a hint of sadness. The composition was dark, the silhouette of a man sat on a hilltop, overlooking a shadowed, forested landscape. The sky was overcast, with a single bright star showing through clouds on the horizon, where the man was looking.
"Dammit. I hate it when you're right about things like this."
Quinn watched her date's car drive away. As she walked to the front door of her home, she realized that there'd been absolutely nothing memorable, or interesting, about the evening. Two people out on a date, each considering the other arm candy, and more interested in being seen than in learning about the other. She thought about Lindy with Trent that night. Quinn sat on the front doorstep and rested her chin on her hands.
"I've been out on a nice, safe date, with no possibility of going anywhere. Lindy, you're out with a man that hurt Daria more than I ever want to know, but has shown how he can care and be trusted. Which of us has taken the bigger risk?"
Trent drove down the darkened streets. The early morning stillness helped to calm him. He wondered what had come over him that evening. He'd told Lindy things he had barely told himself. He'd never told his sister, and probably never would. He'd told Daria part, but not everything. Trent thought back to when he almost said too much to Daria, the day after he broke up with Monique:
Too bad you're not a few years older, huh? I could take you out."
The chorus of a Blue Öyster Cult song, filtered into his thoughts.
Well, I'll wrap myself in cities I travel
I'll wrap myself in dreams
I'll wrap myself in solitude
But I wish I could wrap myself
He hoped he'd done the right thing.
Lindy sat at her kitchen table, the events of the evening unfolding in her mind. The craving for a drink pushed from the back of her thoughts. The situation with Trent was proving to be more complicated than she anticipated. The craving pushed harder and Lindy walked to the far cupboard. She thought more about what he said and what it meant. The craving moved her hand behind the canned goods to the hidden bottle. Lindy pulled it out and stared at it for several minutes. With a shaking hand, she turned the cap and tossed it into the trash. She gulped and took a deep breath. A tear rolled down her cheek as she tipped the bottle, and poured the contents down the sink.
"If he can do that for what is right, I can do this for what is right."
Lane Miserables By Anne D. Bernstein
In Thee By A. Lanier - copyright Sony Music
My appreciation to: Kristen Bealer, Mahna Mahna, Steven Galloway, Between_the_Lines, Roger E. Moore, Isa Yo-Jo, Parker-man, Hiergargo, Ranger Thorne, and Decelaraptor at PPMB for advice and support.
Thanks to Kristen Bealer and Robert Nowall for beta reading and detailed suggestions.