A Disclaimer:These characters are the property of MTV, and the intellectual property of the creators of Daria. I appreciate their indulgence in letting me build a world around them. I am doing this for love, not money, so please do not get your panties in a twist about it. Thanks.
Quack-quack! Quack-quack! Trent woke up from a sound sleep. His phone was quacking. He felt around the floor of his room. No, that was a plate. No, that was a CD case. Ok, that was the phone.
"Huh?" Trent wasn't really a morning person, or more precisely, Trent wasn't really an awake person.
"Trent?" Queried a high pitched voice, "Trent" Is that you?"
"Yeah, whozis?" Trent was trying to wake up, he recognized the voice, but he couldn't place it.
"It's Helen! Helen Morgendorffer. Did I wake you?"
"Um, s'ok." Trent replied. Why was Daria's Mom calling him, and so early in the morn…afternoon?
"Trent, I need to speak to you. I'm planning something for the girl's graduation and I need your help. Can I stop by on my way home?"
"Me? Help? Stop by?" Trent tried to put it together. He gave up. "Ok."
"Great! I'll see you in a bit, I think the girls are working on a project after school, so we won't be interrupted. Byeeee."
And just like that she was gone. Trent debated whether or not to go back to sleep, but he figured that he should straighten up the house a bit. Helen was the kind of person who might call the authorities. He went into the kitchen and made coffee. He looked around and tried to think about what needed to be done the most. Actually the place didn't look that bad. Trent wiped down the counters, loaded the dishwasher and mopped the floor. He went into the living room and tidied up in there as well. He figured that even if he was up and moving around, he should prevent his laundry from doing the same. He went to his room and gathered up all of his clothes, bed linens and towels. He never really folded anything, so it was up for grabs as to what was clean and what was dirty, so he just got it all together. He went down to the basement and threw it into the washer.
After this bout of activity, Trent sat on the sofa, listening to a CD and tried to think of how Helen Morgendorffer could need his help. Trent liked Helen. She made him feel that he had a talent he was frittering away. Helen had showed concern for him. He'd used her house as a crash pad when his own home was insufferably full of his family. Helen had also saved him during that freak hurricane last year. Helen really seemed to care about him, and Trent responded to her mothering instincts. He realized that he should shower, he didn't want her to think he didn't have good grooming habits.
Trent had been steaming for about twenty minutes when he heard a faint ringing. Damn! She was here. He stepped out of the shower and realized that every stitch of clothing he owned was in the washer. He panicked for a minute and then reached for a towel. Thank goodness it was large. He ran downstairs to get the door.
Helen was on the threshold and seemed a bit disconcerted at seeing Trent nearly naked at the front door. The first thought he had was how pretty she looked when she blushed. He was damp from the shower, and the smell of the sandalwood soap wafted up off of him. He had toweled his hair, but it was still wet and curling up all over his head.
"Sorry, I guess I didn't think you'd be here so soon." Trent gestured for her to come in.
"Oh, okay." Helen was at a loss for words. She came in and sat on the sofa.
"Can I get you some coffee?" Trent tried to play the good host.
"Sure, if it's ready." Trent went into the kitchen to get her a cup.
"How do you take it?" He called from the kitchen.
"With milk if you have it." She trilled. There was something about her voice that he liked. It had so much, inflection. He smiled as he stirred the milk into her coffee.
He brought her the mug. "Sorry about the towel, I'm doing laundry."
"Oh that's ok, I remember when Jake was your age, he was always doing stu.., I mean goofy stuff like that. Anyway, I need your help. You know that Daria and Jane are graduating next month." He nodded, and she continued. "Anyway, Jake and I thought it would be a good idea for them to take a trip to Europe during the summer. I've got it all planned, but I need to clear it with your parents, and we need to get the girls their documents. I'd like it to be a surprise, so I need your help in getting everything together."
"Wow. That's really nice. And you want me to help?" Trent was overwhelmed. Helen was expecting him to do something that required him to actually be responsible. He smiled. "I'll be happy to help, what do you need me to do?"
Helen pulled a list out of her briefcase. "I had Maryann type this up for you. Basically the toughest part is getting Jane her passport, we need her birth certificate and a photo. I can do the documents. I also need you to get in touch with your parents to make sure it's okay with them.
Trent studied the list. Helen had wisely given him a very specific timetable, so he knew exactly when everything needed to be done. "Ok, you can count on me." As he said it, he realized that it was true. It wasn't so much for Janey, although he wanted her to have this amazing opportunity; it was because Helen's faith in him meant something to him.
"Great, okay, now I'll get back with you next week. Do you have any idea where Jane's birth certificate is?"
Trent shook his head. "No."
"Was she born here in Lawndale?"
"Yes, at Cedars of Lawndale hospital."
"Great, all I need to do is get with the bureau of vital statistics for a copy. I'll find out what we need, can you forge your Mom or Dad's signature?"
She looked him straight in the eye when she asked him, he knew he couldn't lie to her. Yes'm."
"Good, if we need anything like that, you can take care of it." She got up off the sofa and he walked her to the door.
"Mrs. Morgandorffer, this is really nice of you to do this for Janey, I know she and Daria are going to have a great time."
"Oh Trent, don't think anything of it, we like you and Jane, there isn't anything we wouldn't do for you kids." With that, she was outside and walking towards her Jeep. He watched her rear end wiggle as she strode out to her vehicle. Trent stood at the door in his towel until she backed out of the driveway.
Trent was just folding the rest of his clothes when Janey came home.
"Hey Trent, what's up?" She was checking out the fridge, as if something might have miraculously appeared in there since that morning.
"Just doing some laundry."
"Okay, that explains why you're naked. Hey the house looks clean too, cool." Jane found a can of soda. "Want to share this with me?"
"Nah, I've gotta get a move on, rehearsal."
"I thought it was here tonight."
He went upstairs to put the laundry away, and to put some clothes on. Jane sat on the sofa to watch TV. About 15 minutes later Trent reappeared with what seemed to be an entire dinner service for four. He added this to the dishwasher, and since it was bulging, found some detergent and started the cycle. Jane watched bemused as her brother did his impersonation of Martha Stewart.
"What's next Trent? Going to be making homemade cookies?" Jane was being a sarcastic pain in the ass.
Jesse came over with some Chinese food, so they sat in the kitchen and ate until the rest of the band showed up.
"Oh, Janey, there's some mail for you on the counter over there, did you see that?"
Jane got up from the table to check it out. It was from the University of California, Santa Cruz. She tore into it.
"Trent! Jesse! I've been accepted!"
Trent smiled, if she only knew how great this day had been for her, but he knew he had to keep the secret. "Janey, that is so cool, that's the one you really wanted isn't it?"
"Yes, now if only…" The phone was ringing, Jane snagged it. "Hello? Yes. Yes! Me too! Ok, we need to make plans. Can I come over there? The band's here tonight. Great. See you in a few. Ok guys, gotta motor, Daria just got into Berkeley. We're going to sit around and smile at each other for a while.
"Sounds good, tell Daria I said congratulations." Trent kissed his little sister.
"Ok, will do. Later." Jane had gathered up her pack and went to go to Daria's house.
"Jesse, does Danny still have that Polaroid camera he stole from the Pak and Ship place he used to work at?"
"I need to borrow it, does he still have some of that weird film?"
"Well, could you get it and find out?"
Trent was usually patient, but he really wanted to do something special for Helen and he knew that he could score points if he could get this done for her. Jesse, as usual, was no help whatsoever.
The next day he went to Jesse's and got the camera. He was in luck. There was film in it. Trent knew that the girls would be hanging out after school at his house. He stopped on the way home and bought a couple of rolls of cookie dough. He did that every now and then, Jane liked to eat it raw, but he thought he might cook some of it up, as a joke more than anything else.
Trent figured out how to get the oven lit. He put the dough on some tin foil, since he wouldn't begin to know if they owned cookie sheets or to know where they were if they did. In a few minutes, the house smelled great, Trent associated that smell with Mom. Not his Mom, but other people's Moms. Helen's house usually smelled like lasagna, and that was a good smell too.
He had to let them cool down in the oven, since the oven mitts were in the same place the cookie sheets were. Jane and Daria came through the door.
"Are we in the right place?" Daria asked. "It smells like someone's been…cooking."
Jane was laughing. "Trent? Very funny, are there really cookies here?"
Trent was in the kitchen, stacking the cookies on a plate. He had brewed a fresh pot of coffee to go with them. They all sat around the table, eating and talking.
"So, how was school today?" Trent asked.
"You're kidding, right?" Jane responded.
"Same freak show it always is, but somehow I care less now, since I've been accepted to the school of my choice, and I'm only 3 weeks away from graduation. I can ignore it even more than I normally do." Daria answered the question. She seemed…happy. Trent wasn't used to seeing Daria happy, it looked good on her.
"We're going to be floating through these last few weeks. I personally am going to quit paying attention to my homework. I've got to save up my energies for college." Jane got up for a second mug of coffee.
"Oh, wait, I knew that there was something I wanted to do." Trent got up from the table and went to get the Polaroid. "I want to get some pictures of you guys. You know, something to remember you by."
Jane was ready to pose. "Sure, let me refresh my lipstick." She smiled and he snapped the picture. He knew he had to get Daria before the picture developed.
"Come on Daria, for me?" She seemed to melt a little and even conjured up that sweet smile that she had. He snapped it, just as Jane's was becoming visible.
"Trent, what the Hell is this?" Jane asked as she held the picture up to him. It was the picture of her face, but there were two identical images.
"Weird, that's the last time I borrow a camera from Danny. Oh look, it happened with Daria's too. Janey, go get your Polaroid. I'll dump these. He slipped them into a book that was on the table."
Janey got her camera and he took more pictures. He even got one of the two of them. They didn't look like girls anymore. They looked like girls he would date. When did that happen?
Trent sighed, his life was going to change, and he wasn't sure if it was changing for the better. He knew that these few days were the last that he would have with them. After they graduated, they would be out in the world on their own, and he knew that it would be time for him to go as well.
The plan had always been to hang out until Janey was out of high school, and then the band was going to LA to try to make it big. It was a leap. They certainly hadn't ignited their local club scene. They had a following, such as it was, but too many bands got complacent with steady gigs, and they forgot that they had a rock and roll dream. Trent wasn't going to let that happen. Besides, if they were in LA, he could check up on Jane, maybe crash with her if he needed to.
Trent had the feeling that if he could get to LA, that Mystik Spiral would be huge, he could feel it in his bones. At night, after gigs, he would lay awake visualizing all the things they would need to do. He figured that they would live in a warehouse together, it would be cheap and it would provide amusing stories later, when they were headlining.
Trent made up a story about needing to get to practice. Well, he did need to go to practice, but he was stopping by Helen's on the way. He smiled as he snatched up the two passport photos. He looked at them, Jane's was a bit silly, but Daria looked angelic. He knew Helen would love it.
He pulled up to Helen's. He rang the bell and Jake answered in his Kiss the Cook apron. "Trent, my man, how's it hanging?"
Trent smiled. How could you not like Jake? "Low and lazy. How're you doing?"
"Feeling great, got some new clients and my little girl got accepted to one of the best schools in the country." Jake was in one of his manic stages. "You staying for dinner?"
Trent never turned down a hot meal if he could help it. "Whatcha got?"
Jake's eyes lit up. He liked it when people took an interest in his cooking. "Chicken Paprikash, with egg noodles. How does that sound?"
"I don't know what it is, but it sounds great."
"It's like Stroganoff, but with chicken and paprika. Helen will be home in minute, come into the kitchen, I've got this new wine to go with it, it's Green Hungarian. Isn't that great? Hungarian wine with Hungarian Paprikash!" Jake poured him a glass.
Trent was sitting at the table talking to Jake and sipping the wine when Helen came in. She looked beautiful. She was wearing a rust colored suit that nearly matched her hair. Her pale gold skin was set off by the color. He smiled at her involuntarily.
She smiled back. "Trent, to what do we owe this visit?"
"Trent's staying for dinner, I'm making Paprikash."
"Oh Jakey, that's wonderful, I love that!" Helen kissed Jake and sat down at the table with Trent to enjoy her glass of wine.
"I've got something for you." Trent said as he produced the passport photos.
"How did you get these? I was racking my brain trying to figure out how to trick them into this. Trent, you are a lifesaver. This picture of Daria is beautiful, it's almost a shame to waste it on a passport."
Trent glowed with pride. He couldn't help himself, as Helen leaned over, he glanced down the front of her blouse, he hoped she didn't notice, but he had always admired her profile, and he wanted to get a better look.
Helen seemed oblivious to Trent's minor indiscretion, and they had a pleasant meal together. Neither Quinn, nor Daria were there, so Helen and Jake steered the conversation towards Trent. They talked about the trip for the girls, with Helen elaborating on the details, Eurail passes, youth hostels, and a small slip about a guy named Paolo in Italy. They asked Trent about his plans for the summer, and he told them a bit about the band's plans to move to LA. Instead of being negative, as he expected, both Jake and Helen were supportive, offering advice and counsel. Trent was amazed at how much fun Jake and Helen could be, when they weren't stressed-out lunatics.
Trent helped clear up the dishes and excused himself to go to practice. Helen and Jake saw him to the door and waved at him as he drove off. Ozzie and freaking Harriet, who would have thought? Trent was listening to some music in the car, but he was really reflecting on Helen. He had warm feelings for her. She made him feel special, not like some screw up slacker. He found himself thinking about how she would look naked. That's when he started to feel like a pervert.
Trent got home late from practice, he was really sleepy, he had been up for most of the day, which was unusual, but it was how his life was going to be from now on, so he needed to get used to it. He meditated a bit before getting in bed, and he said his usual affirmation before drifting off to sleep, "Please help me to write good songs, and to tell the truth in my music, even when it hurts."
Trent was dead asleep, he was dreaming about Helen. In his dream she came to him as a Fairy, she beckoned him to come to her. She floated above the floor. She wore a gauzy white robe, it was nearly transparent. In his dream, Trent got up and followed her, he didn't know where she was going, but he felt compelled to follow. He found himself on a beach; he could feel the salt spray on his face. The Helen-fairy floated toward him and kissed him lightly. He reached up so that he could kiss her back and just as he made the move to do it----"I ALWAYS KNEW I'D END UP YOUR EX-GIRLFRIEND…" Trent's stereo had suddenly turned itself on and was playing the CD in the changer at top volume. He bolted upright in bed, reaching for the volume knob. He turned it off, and just as he was getting his bearings back, he saw another vision of Helen, this time in her business suit. She was shaking her finger at him, "That is so wrong," she said to him. He felt ashamed. His heart was beating fast, what did it mean? Why was he dreaming about Helen, especially in such a sexually charged way?
He lay back down in the bed and tried to think about it, why did he react to Helen that way? Sure she was attractive, but she was nearly the same age as his Mom. He certainly could have his pick of women, and occasionally did, so it wasn't like he was sex starved. What was it?
Soon, he was able to fall back to sleep, but he had strange dreams all night, and when he woke in the morning, he was not rested, and he had a major crush on Helen.
Trent tried to distract himself, so he concentrated on clearing out everything in the house. He needed to organize his stuff and to decide what, of his few possessions he would need when they moved to California. He started with the crap under his bed. He sorted through the stuff, throwing away bag after bag of trash. An old comic, or a book or some of his earlier writing would occasionally sidetrack him. Was he really so naïve? But in the end, after a few days, he had managed to winnow his possessions to the most precious. He looked around the room, it was so clean and uncluttered and suddenly he felt a surge of creativity. It was as if an energy had been released from the disorder. Trent wrote for hours, he didn't even hear Jane when she came to the door of his room.
"Wow, what happened in here?" Jane could tell something was up.
"I've just been cleaning. I needed to organize my stuff." Trent looked up from the acoustic guitar.
"Trent what's going on, you've been acting very weird." Jane sat on the bed.
"Well, when you go off to college, I'm going to LA with the band, we have to take our shot. " Trent was very serious, and Jane knew better than to challenge him.
"Well, you certainly didn't leave yourself much." Jane looked around the now bare room, she felt sad. Trent had been her protector and her companion for most of her life, and now she was just beginning to comprehend that they were going to move away and become adults. It occurred to her that she had been selling Trent short. Jane had thought that Trent had been hanging around to avoid facing the world of work, but she now realized that he had stayed to take care of her, to be around for her. Jane was struck by a warm wave of love for her brother. She had come to understand the nature of his sacrifice for her. She hugged him.
"What's that for?" Trent asked.
"I'm going to miss you. That's all." Jane said. "You had better come to visit me in Santa Cruz."
"Bet on it, we may need to crash with you, or borrow money from you." Trent smiled, he had the same nostalgic feeling. He knew that they were together like this on borrowed time, in just a couple of weeks, their lives together would never be the same.
"Want to go get a pizza?" Jane wanted to do something with Trent, wanted to spend more, not less time with him.
"Sure. You buying?" Trent put the guitar in its stand and got up out of the bed.
"No, you are." Jane said, and she flashed him a big smile.
The days flew by. Daria and Jane were not all that caught up in their graduation. To tell the truth, neither of the girls was particularly interested in attending the ceremony, they just wanted to get it over with and move on to their new lives. Helen and Jake had planned a quiet family evening and, as it became clear that neither Amanda nor Vincent was going to return for Jane's graduation, they included Jane and Trent. They all met at the Morgendorffer's before the ceremony and they had a light dinner. Jake had thrown some pasta together. It was a warm evening, Jane and Daria sat in folding chairs on the football field, waiting for their names to be called and to get their diplomas, or reasonable facsimiles thereof. Trent sat in the stands with Jake, Helen and Quinn. He had mixed emotions, he knew that they were passing onto a new and exciting part of their lives, but he was also afraid. They were all going to be working without a net. This was for real.
They all cheered for Jane first and then Daria. After some boring speeches and presentations, it was over. There was a reception in the cafeteria, and they all hovered around. Some people were embracing each other, as though it would be the last time they would see each other, in most cases they were right. Jane and Daria were invited to some parties, but they didn't want to spend their evening that way. They all went back to the Morgendorffer's and ate some cake. It was then that Helen and Jake made their announcement about their trip to Europe.
Both Jane and Daria were dumbstruck. When they were each shown their passports, they understood how Trent had been involved. Trent was hugged and kissed, as were Helen, Jake and even Quinn. In addition to the trip they were given daypacks and travel books. The rest of the evening was spent with the girls planning their itinerary. Trent tried to sneak out, but was instead joined by Jane and Daria. Trent wanted to go for an aimless drive, and he figured that he could use the company. He could be alone with his thoughts, even if they were with him. He liked how comfortable that was. They had all changed into comfortable clothes and they headed into the mountains. They rolled down the windows and the cool spring air rolled into the car as they cruised along.
Each was lost in thought. Daria and Jane were probably thinking about their trip, and university and all the adventures that they would have. Trent was thinking about all the music that he would make, and all the songs he would write. Mostly, Trent was thinking about how this was a perfect moment in his life. He smiled as they each headed down the road.