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.
This is the second story in the Last Summer series.
Shifts in Mood
Daria sat on her bed reading a black covered spiral notebook with "1998 Vol. 2" written in neat letters on the cover label. Beside the bed was a small fireproof lockbox holding a stack of similar notebooks and several disk copies of valuable computer files. She wore a black t shirt and blue shorts and was barefoot, having not bothered to change from the clothes she slept in. After a bad night resulting from her residual feelings for Tom, she had decided to stay in her room and deconstruct the relationship by reviewing her diaries. Daria had reached the entry she made after returning home from Jane's after the fire and stopped, thinking, at one line.
Trent told me, "Come on, Daria. I'm a musician. I'm very sensitive to shifts in mood."
He certainly hit that one right, not exactly what you would call 'oblivious' about things. she thought. Feelings about Tom were replaced by the memory of emotions she hadn't felt for well over a year. She then reached into the lockbox and brought out "1996 Vol. 3" and flipped to the entry about the trip to Alternapalooza.
"Daria if there's one thing I know about Trent, it's that he's oblivious," Jane reassured me.
She picked up "1997 Vol. 1" and read.
Right after, Jane said, "Told him to tell anyone who dropped by that I was out running. What a surprise, he forgot."
Then, I let her know. "No, he didn't."
Daria set the book down and stared up at the ceiling. "If he was able to notice that Tom and I had feelings for each other so easily, or that I was just the person to talk to Jane over the Tommy Sherman thing, why did he so completely miss my crush on him? Or did he?" she spoke as her eyes flashed wider.
Trent groped for the phone, grabbed the duck head and placed it to his ear; realized things were not quite working and maneuvered it to the proper orientation, "Hello?"
"Hey Daria, Janey's not here today, she's covering over at Gary's while he's with his kid."
"That's okay; I wanted to talk to you anyway, but not over the phone. Would you mind coming over?"
"Must be important; sure, I'll be over in a bit. Though not too quick, I just woke up, late practice."
"Or early," came the familiar refrain. "I'll have the coffee waiting for you, thanks. Bye."
"Hmm, Bye." Trent slowly shook his head as he got up and stumbled around the room for something clean to wear.
Daria had changed to her black skirt and boots, but left the same shirt on. After she let him in, Trent followed Daria to the kitchen, where two cups were already waiting. She gestured to one chair next to coffee, and sat in another by her tea. After Trent tried his coffee, Daria started, "Trent, I…um…uh…kind of need to talk to you…about something."
"Hey, its okay, you can talk to me. I haven't heard you at a loss of words like that in a long time."
Daria placed both hands flat on the table, closed her eyes and took a couple deep breaths. She opened her eyes and said, "Best to say it straight out. Did you know how much of a crush I had on you? Back when I was a sophomore." Daria felt as if a huge weight had been lifted from her just by saying that.
"Man, I was wondering if you were ever going to bring that up." Trent gently said.
"Um, yeah, I did."
I'm going have to drag this out a piece at a time, crossed Daria's mind. She took a sip of tea and said, "When did you first notice?"
"When we tried to go to Alternapalooza."
After several moments of silence, Daria prompted, "What tipped you off?"
"You hardly said anything. I knew you weren't like that from overhearing you talk with Jane." Trent rested his chin on his hand before continuing, "Sitting by the road, I felt a connection, like you actually understood me"
"I felt that too. Still is a special memory for me, despite the bump on the head, bee sting, peanut butter butt, and duct-taped glasses; it ended up being something I'm glad I did," Daria replied over her tea. "So what did you think about it?"
"It felt cool that you were interested in me. It seemed fairly harmless."
Daria added to her silent comments, Fairly harmless, sounds almost like 'Mostly Harmless'. Sure know how to make an impression.
Trent dropped his hand from his chin and looked straight at Daria, "Until."
"Until what?" Daria jerked her attention directly back to him.
"When I really noticed how pretty you were. The day we stopped by Axl's and you got pierced."
Daria blushed slightly as, Damn, I'm blushing again, slipped among her thoughts.
"Kind of scary how easy it was."
"I still can't believe I let you talk me into that."
"Running into Monique didn't help either; being in the same room with both of you really threw me off."
"I kept thinking how 16 and 21 was bad news, you hadn't dated anyone before, and how I could have taken advantage you, it really spooked me."
"I guess I really should thank you for being so thoughtful," Daria said as she began to realize what had actually happened to Trent.
"I hoped you would realize things and lose interest in me."
"Sorry I was a little too dense for that. While I'm at it, I never did thank you for steering away from the stupid nut stand after you realized I was hiding in the back."
Helen drove down Glen Oaks drive as she talked on the cell phone.
"Hi Eric, I'm almost there now…Yes, it is so fortunate that Daria suggested I keep backup disks at home…Thank you Eric; she really is a wonderful daughter…I better let you get back to work; bye now." She clicked it off sharply.
"I wouldn't even be making this trip if you hadn't gotten the entire network infected with that computer virus. Then you 'borrowed' my backup disks to use for God knows what when you ran out," Helen bitterly remarked to herself. "Although, I'm glad Daria made that suggestion. It probably saved me a month of work, and saved the firm who knows how many thousands of dollars. Not that anyone there would notice."
As she pulled into the driveway and parked beside the blue Plymouth, she thought, "Jane's here today, they must be busy with their communal creating. It's still fascinating how those two can separately create such wonderful things and carry on a completely unrelated conversation at the same time. Daria has been so good about keeping up her writing and making those submissions, I'll try to keep quiet so I don't disturb them."
Helen quietly opened the door and heard voices in the kitchen. As she gently closed it, she recognized Trent say, "You're welcome, didn't want to embarrass you."
"So how do you explain walking into my room and lying down on my bed to talk while I stood around in my nightshirt? Remember, when you and Jane were hiding out from the Lane family invasion?"
Helen's interest perked up as she moved a little closer to hear.
"Yeah, I guess there were times when I was oblivious."
"So, did Monique have something to do with that?"
"Things were going downhill and I didn't want to think about it. Talking with you always made me feel better.
It didn't occur to me that you would be embarrassed, sorry." Trent gave Daria a worried look. "Did you see me leaving with Monique?"
"To be honest, that was almost as painful as watching Tom drive away the last time I saw him," Daria quietly said.
Trent dropped his gaze, "Damn."
Daria forced herself on. "I thought you really couldn't be interested in me and felt the crush was over. Believe it or not, Quinn actually helped in her own way, though I don't know how I would have gotten through the night without Jane. When you were about to go home, I was actually feeling secure with you as a friend, when you made that comment."
"Too bad you're not a few years older, huh? I could take you out."
"It was like the floor fell out under my psyche and the crush was back."
"Please don't take this the wrong way, but that was one of the most stupid, thoughtless things I've ever said."
"So why say it?"
Trent shifted in his chair and continued, "Guess my head wasn't screwed on straight, even by my standards." He laughed and coughed a bit before going on. "There you stood, as pretty as ever to anyone with a lick of sense, brilliant, funny and caring. I was weak for a moment and said it."
"So you really did feel something toward me?"
"That's why I stayed clear of you for a while; didn't want to get your hopes up. I was also trying to figure a way out without messing things up even more."
"So why did you ask me to go to the gig in Fremont?" Daria inquired.
"Hoping we could be around each other with other people there. You know, keep anything from happening."
"Probably a good thing I didn't go with you. With my mouth, getting arrested probably would've been worse. Besides, who would Jane have called for bail?"
"Glad you drove all that way for us"
"It was an eye opening trip, to say the least. But what about that multimedia project that Jane and I asked you to write some music for?"
"Thought it would be cool to help both of you."
"I know what you said at Pizza Prince afterward, but what really happened?"
"I was trying to get the music together, but I was still worried about how you felt, so I was confused. Before I knew it, I missed your deadline. You know the rest."
"So it was your concern for me that kept you from finishing. You let both of us think you were just a slacker and took all the blame."
Trent's voice dropped to almost a whisper. "At least you finally did get over your crush, and all it cost me was a little humiliation."
Daria was also quiet. "By then, I was also starting to feel that things wouldn't work out, for about the same reasons you said they wouldn't. So when you didn't have the music ready, I was disappointed in you, but not really hurt as much as it would have earlier. I knew that there would never be anything romantic, but hoped to stay your friend." She went on a little stronger. "That, I must say, you were, only a good friend would take the blame like that. After Jane and I patched things up after last summer, you felt more like a big brother. A big brother that cares, respects, and trusts me."
"Now that you mention it, I know what you mean, kind of feels like I have twin little sisters. Wonder if I should tell Mom and Dad about the extra daughter." Trent grinned.
"I don't think Amanda or Vincent would notice, but don't even try to get me adopted by the rest of your siblings, they rate too high even on my weird-o-meter."
Trent laughed and coughed. "Good one, Daria."
"All that time, Jane and I just thought you were being clueless," Daria said with a slight smirk, which changed to a genuine smile. "While in your own way, you were being very much the gentleman." With a little admiration, Daria continued, "That must have been difficult for you; to act so detached realizing just how I felt and having Jane trying to get us together."
"Didn't matter, just the right thing to do."
"Thank you, it was the right thing, and the older me thinks that much more highly of you because of it." Daria rose from her chair, went over to Trent and gently kissed him on the cheek. "So I started out with a teenage crush on you, found a good friend, and in the end, ended up with a big brother instead."
"Kind of cool how things worked out. Guess I should get going. Think we have practice today."
Helen quickly and quietly exited the house, went back to her SUV, opened the door and waited.
"Thanks also for coming over to talk, it really meant a lot," Daria said.
"No problem. You're still one of the coolest people I know." Trent smiled, turned, and walked through the door.
Daria watched as he left and thought, Didn't solve the original problem, but it does feel good to know where things really are. I hope he does find his happiness. She cleaned up the table and headed back upstairs to her room. "Now back to deconstructing Tom, though I am feeling more like I did the right thing."
Just as he closed the house door, Helen closed hers to get his attention, said, "Hi, Trent," and walked toward him as he aimed for his car.
A thoughtful Trent looked up. "Hello Mrs. Morgendorffer."
As she reached him, she placed her hand on his shoulder to stop him and said, "I heard what was just said in there, I also want to thank you for being such a gentleman. You proved yourself to be a man of good integrity, and I am proud to consider you like a son, just as Daria is proud to feel that you're like a brother." She whispered, "Don't worry, I won't say a thing, I don't want to embarrass her either."
"Thanks Mrs. Morgendorffer. She's a special lady, felt right to treat her that way."
Helen watched as he started the car and drove away. After a couple more minutes, she walked in the front door and called up toward the stairs, "Oh Daria, I'm just stopping in for a couple minutes to get those backup disks. It's a long story, but I'm glad you talked me into making them. I Hope your having a nice day."
Quotes are from the following episodes:
Fire: by Peggy Nicoll
The Road Worrier: by Anne D. Bernstein
The Misery Chick: by Glenn Eichler
Lane Miserables: by Anne D. Bernstein
Thanks to Deceloraptor, Kristen Bealer, renfield1969 for comments and MJPollard for critical suggestions.
Rev. January 2005