First of all, letís get the legal stuff out of the way. I didnít think up these characters, I gently borrowed them from MTV. Thanks. Iím not making money off of this, nor do I ever intend to.

Iíd like to give a shout out to Michelle Klein-Hass. We had a similar idea for using the song Gloria (by Them) and changing it to Daria. She had it two years before I did, and in strict honor code adherence I give her props. Also a wink ;-) and a nod.

Now our story:

Dariaís Wedding

 

Chapter 1

Beware of Enterprises Requiring New Clothes.

 

And so it was, that on a cold, windy day, Daria found herself running for her plane, complete with her dress bag. Not just any dress bag, but one that contained, what was obviously a wedding dress. People smiled at her, like they were sharing a secret. Brian ran on ahead, complete with the suit bag, containing his tuxedo. She caught up with him at the podium and they were able to confirm their seats together. As they hustled onto the plane, and into their seats, they got a big welcome. The stewardess made a huge deal of carefully storing the wedding clothes in the First Class closet. Brian was enjoying the attention, but Daria hated to have the spotlight on her and was trying to bury herself in her book as the plane taxied out onto the runway. As usual, fog delayed takeoffs, so they were more than an hour late in getting off of the ground. During that time the stewardess made small talk with Brian about the wedding, she tried to include Daria, but finding a most unwilling participant in that conversation, turned to the groom, who was more than happy to supply all of the pertinent details. Daria was not unfriendly; at least she didnít mean to be. It was just so embarrassing to discuss her personal business with perfect strangers. Brian didnít have any issues on that front; he loved to talk about their upcoming wedding to anyone and everyone who expressed an interest. At times Daria thought he was a bit too into the wedding. When they registered at Gumps, much against Dariaís better judgement, Brian selected crystal, china and silver patterns with an interest that made her uneasy.

"Do you want to get some engraved stationary for our thank you notes?" Daria asked sarcastically.

"Gosh, I almost forgot, do you think we should get some with our different monograms, or a Ďhouseí stationary." Brian asked, his brow furrowed with concern.

It was in these moments that Daria realized how much she loved him. He really cared. Most of the guys she knew could eat off of paper plates for the rest of their lives, but Brian was domesticated. He liked to make dinner, with a veggie and a salad. He liked to eat it off of stoneware with matching flatware. He picked a nice wine to go with the meal and they drank it out of the proper stemware. Brian wasnít prissy; he just liked a nice life. Daria wanted a nice life, but didnít have the vaguest notion about what one was, so she decided to marry into it.

For a long time, Daria thought a nice life meant a good day at work. Work was good. She was a marketing manager for a high tech firm, she enjoyed her job and the people were bright and fun to be around. Occasionally things would get out of hand and she would get bonked in the head when they played "cube volleyball," but in all, the environment was congenial. It was a well known, but never discussed fact that Daria was writing a monthly humor column, for a business magazine, that skewered Corporate America. Biting the hand that fed her, so to speak.

It was at some disaster of a networking event that her old high school classmate, Jodie, introduced Daria to Brian. Jodie had practically begged Daria to come out with her that evening, and it was only because Daria thought she could get a good story out of it, that she showed up at all. Throughout the evening Daria was approached by recruiters. They would thrust their cards into her hand and ask her what she did for a living. She was having fun with one particularly persistent guy who wouldnít take no for an answer.

"Since winning the Nobel Prize for physics two years ago, Iíve been doing pretty well for myself. But you know how it is, youíve got to keep your irons in the fire." Daria told the man earnestly.

"Oh yes, I have to agree, it costs you nothing to find out what youíre worth in the marketplace. Do you happen to have a copy of your resume with you?" He asked hopefully.

"Um, I think I have one right here. Oh darn, thatís my dry cleaning receipt, could I give it to you on this cocktail napkin?"

Just as she was turning to get a napkin, she saw Brian and Jodie standing behind her. Brian was laughing and Jodie just looked at Daria, exasperated.

"Youíll have to excuse her," Jodie addressed the confused recruiter, "she hasnít eaten anything all day, it makes her lightheaded." He walked off to force his card on a group of Systems Administrators.

"Thatís what happens when you leave me alone, I have to amuse myself somehow." Daria said by way of an explanation.

"Why canít you just get them to buy you really expensive cocktails? Itís harmless, and no one gets hurt." Brian asked her as he placed his order with the bartender. "Can I offer you a really expensive cocktail?"

"I have a 7:30 conference call tomorrow morning. Expensive cocktails impair my ability to pay attention to Marketing Vice Presidents early in the morning. I could be tempted to have a club soda with lime however."

"How about a really expensive club soda with lime?" Brian offered.

Daria and Brian liked each other immediately. Daria found him charming, and he understood her jokes. Brian liked Dariaís "go to Hell" attitude, most women he knew were so desperate for a boyfriend that they tried too hard.

No one in San Francisco is a native, Brian OíNeill was no exception, his family was in Chicago. He was the oldest of six children; the youngest was just three years old at the time. He came to the Bay Area to attend Law School at Stanford. This is where he met Jodie. They were both recruited into the same large corporation after graduation. Jodie was trying to draft Daria to head up their marketing department and had brought Brian along, mostly just to add another voice to her arguments, she was the last person to believe that Brian and Daria would have been a love connection.

At first it was strange to see them as a couple. Daria was petite, with long, full auburn hair; she seemed to be shy and rarely sought attention in a crowd. If she had any vanity regarding her appearance, she would have been stunning, but she favored simple clothing, unadorned hair and minimal make-up, so she was merely pretty. Brian on the other hand was tall and fair, with a very outgoing personality. Women had been chasing him since he was in grade school, but instead of making him conceited, it made him discriminating. When they were alone together they were absorbed in their conversations. They fascinated each other. Brian could talk to Daria for hours about anything, and every outgoing person loves to talk for hours. When they were with friends, Brian would be the center of attention, while Daria would stand back and observe. At the end of the evening they would go off in the night, laughing about all the silly things that had happened at the party.

For a while they were in a competition for "Most Amusing Date." They would take turns trying to think of ways to top the previous date. Brian gave Daria a walking tour of Dashiell Hamettís San Francisco. Daria countered with a road trip to ride the roller coaster on the Santa Cruz Boardwalk. Brian drove them into the Sierras for an afternoon of sledding down a snow-covered hill on garbage can lids. Daria took Brian to the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose. Daria was declared the winner when Mystik Spiral played San Francisco, the backstage passes would have clinched it, but it was the band letting Brian sit in with the tambourine that made her Ďwinner for life.í

It was on a "Most Picturesque Vista" date that Daria and Brian found themselves in Capitola. There was a lovely grassy knoll overlooking the Pacific. It was a summer evening, but typically cold, so they were in jeans and sweatshirts under a blanket watching the surf in the moonlight. It was so perfect and peaceful that they were lost in thought and hadnít spoken for nearly an hour. Daria suddenly realized that she was in love with Brian and wanted to be with him for the rest of her life. She had never wondered how Brian felt, never worried about whether or not he would call or when she would see him. Over time he had become a fixed part of her life, like her family or her work or her friends. It had been four years since they had met, and it had been the best time she had ever had. Holidays with his large family, vacations with her family, company picnics, Christmas parties, a run to the emergency room when he cut his hand slicing an onion. Suddenly she looked up at him, she had never seen him as her husband until now. She was astonished to see him looking back at her, seeing her as his wife.

Brian had been thinking about asking Daria to marry him for a while, but although he knew she cared about him, he was never sure that she was in love with him. Looking into her face that night, he knew, and kicked himself for being foolish enough to wait so long.

Their engagement was source of delight to everyone who knew them. His family was thrilled, his little sisters were excited about being bridesmaids. Dariaís parents were delirious. Helen immediately began making plans for the wedding and Jake was insufferable at the golf course telling everyone who would listen about his future son-in law

Daria flew down to Los Angeles to tell Jane and Quinn the news in person. Jane, Trent and Quinn were driving to LAX to pick up Daria, knowing only that she had big news.

Quinn was working with Mystik Spiral to update their look. The band had been successful for quite a while, but all of a sudden they were huge. They were being awarded an MTV Video Vanguard award at the Video Music Awards, VH1 was in the process of putting together a Behind the Music and their newest album was being released just in time for Christmas. Jane and Quinn had been working together for three weeks, and although Jane had respect for Quinnís talent as a stylist, it irked her to even have to deal with the issue. But it takes more than the music to make it in the industry, so she had resigned herself to it as a necessary evil. Trent wanted no part of the whole "style-thing" and allowed himself to be dressed like a fashion doll under protest. Quinn was yammering on about leather and the enduring images of rock stars that wear it.

"Okay, thereís Jim Morrison and his pants, he also really knew what he was doing with that concha belt. Elvis of course, he was very hot in his leathers. Iím not talking about anything seventies tacky, Trent. Iím telling you that you could be a legend in leather." Quinn was trying to wheedle, but Trent was immune.

"What about PETA?" Trent was clearly grasping at straws, he certainly wasnít worried about animal rights when it came to hamburgers.

"Wearing animalís outsides is okay if you eat their insides." Quinn was having none of it.

Jane was laughing and driving like a crazy woman, they were already late picking up Daria because Quinn insisted on stopping at Rexall "for just a minute." "You guys, quit arguing, Iím sure Trent could be HOT in something other than leather, and Iím sure that he will be happy to get rid of those faded, holey jeans. You guys have to learn to compromise."

Quinn was not a compromising person, especially when she had a vision. "Trent, will you do me the favor of at least trying the pants on, I promise, if you hate them, weíll do something else." She was facing him in the back seat, having called shotgun when they started their journey from Janeís house.

Trent knew he was sunk, Quinn knew her stuff, he knew that once he got the clothes on, that he would have to admit that she was right. He just wanted her to work for it. "Okay, but no shine, if they shine, I walk."

"Fair enough. Now, letís discuss footwear." Trent groaned, Quinn could keep this up all night.

Jane felt like she had to break it up. "So who did you spot at Rexall?" It was a well known fact that if a person wanted to see someone famous in LA, all they had to do was hang out at the Rexall at Beverly and La Cienega. Celebrity sightings were one of the things that Jane and Trent enjoyed about LA, the more mundane the better.

Quinn brightened up at this topic. "Well that girl that does ĎGood Morning LAí but she hardly counts."

"Well, only to ten." Jane quipped. Quinn gave her a look and continued.

"Drew Barrymore, sheís in town to do the Tonight Show. She has a cute look, but she needs to refine it. I saw her looking at hairbrushes. We spoke for a minute, I told her to get the Mason-Pearson. Itís a great brush and I think that if she got into a brushing routine, that her hair would really benefit. She put it in her basket. I hate to tell you guys this but she was considering a really bad shampoo. I gave her the card of my favorite trichologist, some stuff you just shouldnít mess with. I think she was grateful."

The sick thing was that she probably was. Quinn had a reputation for being unerring in her fashion and style sense. She didnít just make someone trendy, she brought out their best qualities and made them quintessentially hip. (This abysmal pun was used in exactly 50% of all of the articles that were either written about Quinn or in which she was sited as being the catalyst for yet another trend.) Newcomers sought her out so that they could stand out in a town full of Ďbeautiful people." Show business veterans insisted that she approve their every outfit. Designers courted her shamelessly. Consequently, Quinn had become one of the most influential people in Hollywood. If she worked with you, you must be someone worth knowing. Getting on her list of clients was better than being represented by CAA.

Jane screeched up to the curb where Daria was waiting outside of baggage claim. Trent put Dariaís suitcase in the trunk. Quinn got out and hugged her sister. Daria and Trent got into the back seat and they roared off.

"Daria, I was just telling Trent that he should wear leather. Donít you think he would be cute in leather?"

Quinn explained, bringing her sister up to speed on the conversation.

"Yes, we want your opinion on Trentís outfits." Jane was exacerbating Trentís pissy mood.

"Daria has better things to think about than how my ass looks in leather pants." Trent was seriously cranky.

"I donít know about that, it could be a topic worthy of consideration." Daria joked. "Show me your ass so we can make a proper comparison.

"Et Tu Daria?" Trent sulked.

Jane laughed. "Give it up Trent, if you didnít have talent, you could be an ass model. Even Daria sees that."

"So youíre saying that I donít have ass appreciation as a rule?" Daria said it as if her feelings were hurt, but she had a big smile on her face.

"Daria, I thought I could count on you to stick up for me." Trent was rallying for support, but finding none, slouched down in the back seat. "Turn up the radio."

Jane addressed Trent. "No way, radio is crap. My CD player is messed up. Something got jammed in there so the only disk I can play is Roxy Musicís Avalon. Sorry, but Iím not seducing any of you, so no tunes until I get it fixed."

Trent wanted the attention off of him. "So Janey, who were you seducing?"

All the heads in the car turned to Jane. "Wouldnít you like to know?"

"Weíre waiting." Daria was happy to turn the tables on her friend for a change.

Jane became uncharacteristically quiet. She mumbled something about the Fifth Amendment. Quinn seized the opportunity to discuss Trentís outfits again. She was going for a leather beatnik look for the whole band and she talked about it all the way to Janeís house.

They headed up into the Canyon to Janeís house. Trent had a house somewhere up there as well, but Daria had never seen it. The roads were steep and Daria was more than a little concerned about Janeís driving them in the dark. Quinn and Jane were talking about their plans for the Video Music Awards, debating whether or not it should be professionally choreographed. When they got to the house, Jane put on a pot of coffee and they sat out on the deck waiting for it to brew.

Janeís house was a split-level cabin, typical of the type of houses that were built in the 1970ís. The house was situated on a heavily wooded lot. Daria always felt like she was away at camp when she visited. Jane had a studio where the dining room would have been and it contained her art projects. There was a partially finished wooded sculpture, some canvases, paints, a worktable and other impedimenta of her occupation. Her living room was comfortable, with a large sectional sofa, a huge entertainment center featuring a very large television. Janeís completed artwork hung on the walls, along side of that of artists that she admired. The back deck was built around the pool but large trees made it feel secluded and private. Jane loved to sit outside in the evening, so the furniture was comfortable, they all sat around, with Trent strumming one of his acoustic guitars while the women talked.

"Okay Daria, whatís this news you have for us?" Jane asked.

" I canít believe that Iím saying this, it sounds so corny, but weíre engaged." Daria was smiling. Quinn squealed and Jane expressed her congratulations, but seemed to be holding back. Jane looked at her brother, but could not detect any emotion in his face, except for genuine happiness for Daria.

"Way to go Daria, you and Brian are getting married. Thatís cool." Trent went in to get coffee for everyone.

Quinn had just started to wind herself up about the wedding, she had a million ideas and wanted to talk about them right then and there.

Daria and Brian decided to get married in January, right after New Yearís. To please Helen, they agreed to be married in Lawndale. Brianís family thought it was a great idea, and couldnít wait to see the place where Daria grew up. Daria didnít bother to tell them that she had only spent 4 years there and in fact, had called Northern California her home for a much longer time than any other place she had lived.

Quinn went on and on about wedding plans, not even asking if Daria wanted her help. "Oh my God, Daria, we have to start getting your dress made right away! We also have to get someone to design the suits for the guys, and bridesmaids dresses, how many attendants are you going to have? We have TONS to do in just four months." Daria was secretly relieved, she didnít have a clue where to begin getting her wedding attire and having the best stylist on both coasts dropping her famous clients to help out was welcome.

Jane and Quinn asked all kinds of questions, while Trent sat on edge of the conversation, playing his guitar. It got really late, Quinn dragged herself away at about 2:30 AM and only her 8:00 AM Tae-Bo class could get her home and in bed with such a momentous project ahead of her.

Jane and Daria were starting to go in to get ready for bed. Trent was still picking a tune out on his guitar, so they left him on the deck. Jane got a throw from the sofa and tucked it around him and showed Daria to her room. Jane sat on Dariaís bed while she unpacked.

Jane was arranging the pillows absently, even though she knew that Daria always traveled with her own pillow.

"So Daria, you and Brian are tying the knot, getting hitched, jumping the broom. I guess it must be true love." Jane said trying to sound happy.

Daria blushed. "You know, I always rejected the idea of Ďa one true loveí I always thought that I might find someone who didnít get on my nerves and we would just hang out together. Iím pretty much the last person I would have thought would even admit that there could be Ďtrue loveí but here I am."

"Aw, thatís sweet." Jane said with real feeling. "Heís the one huh?

Daria threw her pillow on the bed and came of the closet in her nightshirt. "You know, he makes me feel, happy."

Jane looked at her with a smile. "Happy, well thereís not much more than that is there?"

"Not for me, thatís my limit. If thereís anything beyond happy, I donít think I have the strength to endure it."

Jane got up from the bed so Daria could get in.

"If you get cold in the night, thereís a quilt at the end of the bed. See you in the morning." Jane turned out the light and closed the door. She quietly went back into the living room, Trent was still on the deck, strumming. She didnít want to interrupt him, but it was getting cold. "Hey bro, you staying tonight?"

"Yeah, why not?" Trent said.

"You want to come in with the other pets? Itís starting to rain a bit."

Trent came into the house, he went upstairs to what was apparently "his" room. Jane turned out the lights, closed the doors and windows before going up to bed.

Jane lay in her bed, trying to fall asleep. She could faintly hear Trent playing in the room across the hall, but that wasnít keeping her awake. Her thoughts kept swirling in her head. Daria was happily contemplating her marriage and as her best friend, Jane couldnít help but be happy for her as well. So why did she still want Daria and Trent to be together? A million years ago Daria had a crush on Trent, and somehow in Janeís mind, they had become star-crossed lovers. The two of them had a special kind of relationship, they loved each other, it wasnít like siblings, it wasnít like lovers, it was hard to qualify. Jane couldnít pin down why she felt uneasy, she liked Brian, and she especially liked Brian and Daria as a couple. Brian brought out Dariaís fun side. In fact, Jane was jealous because Daria was clearly more relaxed with Brian, than with any one else, Jane included. What about Trent? He had never once said or done anything that could be construed as romantic interest in Daria. So what was it, why was Jane uneasy? It had to be Trent. He had this façade of being laid back. When he was young he was often mistaken for furniture. He slept so much that at times Jane thought that he might be narcoleptic. This tranquil surface hid the intensity that lurked within. What if he had the feelings that Jane suspected he had for Daria? Anyone else would be hurt, angry and sad, but Trent would remain Ďcasual,í even as his world crumbled, he would be the same sweet, quiet guy he always was. Whatever he was feeling would come out in his music. So in actuality it was Trentís guitar keeping Jane awake, she was listening for evidence of a broken heart.

Quinn came back the next day and insisted on taking Daria to a designer to discuss her dress. Daria hadnít wanted to deal with it, but Quinn had a vision for her wedding that hinged on meeting with a very pleasant woman who measured Dariaís every dimension. The thing began to snowball from that point. The wedding party was determined to be huge, which Daria hated but everyone else loved. The groom had two brothers, his frat buddies and Trent (Dariaís suggestion.) Dariaís attendants were Quinn, Jane, Jodie and Brianís three sisters. Daria was concerned that with that many people in the wedding, that it didnít leave anyone to watch the ceremony. After 300 guests had confirmed for the ceremony and reception, Daria realized that she was getting married in a crowd and decided that resistance was futile so she tried to enjoy it. Quinn was brilliant, she and Helen and Brianís mom, Laura, planned every detail, including Brian and Daria enough for them to believe that it was still their wedding.

Brian and Daria were consulted in San Francisco as plans were being executed in Lawndale. It was the weekly conference call that made Daria believe that the moon shot wasnít as organized as her nuptials. Considering the short time frame, everything came together perfectly. Daria had her last fitting two weeks before the wedding. They express mailed the dress to her, with a recommendation for a local seamstress for the fine adjustments. It wasnít until she had the gown on at the seamstressís studio that Daria realized that she was a bride. Getting married was one thing, being a bride was something else. She was alone in the dressing room, when the seamstress came in and saw her in the dress. Daria was gorgeous, even with no makeup and her hair in a ponytail, she looked unbelievable in the dress."

"Dios Mio!" the seamstress exclaimed, "Hija, your husband is a lucky man, what a beautiful bride!"

Daria was in tears, it was beautiful, she was beautiful, and she was in love and getting married. Daria broke down and sobbed. The seamstress was prepared with tissues and made soothing noises until Daria calmed down.

The dress was so well made that there were no alterations necessary. The seamstress steamed the dress, and packed it into a dress bag so that it would be perfect when Daria got to Lawndale.

Daria was thinking about everything that had lead them to this plane ride, back to her home in Lawndale. The plane was making the final approach, as they landed the stewardesses made an announcement about Daria and Brianís wedding and everyone on the plane applauded. The other passengers wished them well as they got off the plane, each with their outfit in hand.

Jake and Helen met them at the airport. They claimed the rest of their luggage and headed back to the Morgendorffer house. Helen was filling everyone in on the latest developments, a slight change in the third tier of the wedding cake, inconsiderate family members who RSVPíd at the last minute. It was happy chatter and Daria held Brianís hand in the back seat while she tried to think of a way to make this happiness last forever.

Chapter Two

Look Homeward Angel

Daria and Brian were to stay in separate places until the wedding. Daria and Quinn were staying with Helen and Jake, in their old rooms. Brian and his whole family were staying at Le Grand Hotel. Most of the events and the wedding itself were taking place there, so it made sense from a logistical standpoint.

Everyone was coming in for the wedding over the course of the next couple of days. Jane and Trent were already in town, staying at their folkís house. As usual, only they were in the house, Amanda, their mother was studying pottery in Hagi, Japan, and their father was photographing Yosemite, in homage to Ansel Adams.

The plans for that evening were that Jake and Helen were hosting Brianís parents, Laura and Mike at the country club for dinner. The young people were on their own. This group consisted of Brian, Daria, Trent, Quinn, Jane, Jodie, Brianís two brothers, Ian and Sean, and his old frat buddies from Notre Dame, Dylan and Patrick. They were all meeting up at Pizza King and going on to The Zen from there.

Brian was dropped off at the hotel, he and Daria tried not to make a scene before he went in without her. During their long courtship, they had maintained separate residences. Brian owned a small house in the Sunset District, so it was Daria that had given up her rent controlled apartment. She did this reluctantly, since the occupancy rate in San Francisco was at 100%. In her mind, this was more symbolically their marriage than the actual ceremony. Daria had moved into Ďtheirí house two weeks before. She had only just started to get used to sharing space with him on a permanent basis, so she was miserable thinking about being apart from him so quickly. He wasnít thrilled about it either. But Helen had insisted on the arrangement, wanting one last opportunity to have her girls together, like it used to be. As if that had been a barrel of monkeys.

When they got to the house, Quinn was there, on the phone with the catering department at the hotel, straightening out an hors d'oeuvre crisis. She brightened up and waved at Daria, while stridently speaking into the phone, "Okay, so you arenít able to do scallops on the seafood platter, can you substitute mussels? Fine, that will have to do, but they have to be the green lipped New Zealand mussels, not those ordinary black ones." She was rolling her eyes and holding up her finger indicating that she would be off the phone in just one minute. "Great, I knew we could work it out Robert. No problem, things happen. See you tomorrow." She hung up. "Thank God, Iím sure that no one is going to care one way or another, but you canít let these guys screw around with you, or they walk all over you." She came over and hugged Daria. "Iím so glad youíre here, Mom is making me crazy, now we can share."

Daria hugged back. "Well, we all knew what we were signing on for. Iím glad youíre here too. Thanks for handling the fish thing."

Jake took Dariaís bag up to her room. Helen fussed in the kitchen, putting on a pot of coffee and setting out some cheese and crackers. Quinn and Daria sat in the living room, they had been on the phone with each other every night for over a month, what with one thing or another, but it had been two months since they had seen each other, so they wanted to catch up.

"Iím using the two weeks I had from last year, and the two weeks I have for this year. So Iím off for a whole month. Let me tell you, after moving and doing this wedding, all I want to do is sit on a beach for a week. The only work I want to do is move the umbrella in relation to the sun, and send my cabana boy for another frosty cold drink. So what are your plans after you pull this off?" Daria asked.

"Well, I have the Academy Awards in April, so we have to start on that now. Cannes is in May, but I just handle that as spill over. Once thatís over, Iím doing the collections in Paris. Then Iím off to London after that. Itís exhausting, but itís not like itís really work. I think Iím going to Rhode Island in June, to see a friend of mine whoís a guest lecturer. Iíll just hang out and do some sitting on the beach myself, recharge a bit." Quinn had graduated from Rhode Island School of Design and she kept in touch with some of her classmates, going back once a year, to speak to the current students and visit with whomever was in town at that time.

"Damn, when did you find time to help with this? I owe you big."

"Daria please, all Iíve ever wanted was to make you over, itís been fun for me." Quinn was leafing through a bridal magazine while sipping her coffee.

"Yeah, but you get paid to do this, I hate to think what youíd charge Kate Winslet for similar services." Daria spread cheese on a cracker and munched.

"You donít want to know. But youíre family. You do all kinds of stuff for me. You set up my database, designed my billing system, hired my assistant and helped me establish what I do as a business. Iíd say weíre more than even."

"Sounds like communism, from each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs." Daria observed.

Quinn scrunched up her face. "Communism? Arenít those the people who only wear combat boots?

"No, thatís me and Jane. Trying to piss you off." The two sisters laughed as Helen entered the room.

"Now thatís a familiar sound, how nice to hear it again." Helen sat down with her coffee.

Daria looked at her and then at Quinn. "Amnesia?"

Quinn looked back. "Wishful thinking."

They talked throughout the afternoon, mostly about the wedding and related events. Daria was already exhausted and although she wanted to be married to Brian, she wasnít looking forward to the wedding. To her it represented a necessary evil. A lifetime of happiness, in exchange for one lousy evening. At least she would see some friends that she hadnít seen for a while, and that was always a plus.

Quinn and Daria arrived at the Pizza King a bit late. Brian, Ian, Sean, Dylan and Patrick were all sitting at a large table. They were working on a pitcher of beer. Sean was only 20, but no one was giving him a hard time. It looked like a meeting of the Sons of Ireland. Jane and Trent came in behind the girls.

"Damn, did you ever see so many Irish guys in one place. Outside of the St. Patrickís day parade?" Jane asked.

Daria laughed. "Yeah, Thanksgiving at Brianís Motherís house. Itís a regular stereotype."

They all sat down at the table. Brian had taken the liberty of ordering, so the pizza was served soon after everyone arrived. Ian and Sean were entranced with Quinn and were competing for her attention. Everyone was laughing and talking, they were a raucous party. Some kids in the place had recognized Trent and he spoke with them for a minute, and autographed a placemat for one of them.

"So whoís playing at the club?" Brian asked.

This was Trentís department, so he took the liberty of answering. "Well, The Tots go on at 10:00, they do kind of a retro-ska thing. The band is pretty good, they have a horn section."

"Sounds like fun, will there be dancing?" Brian asked.

"Whatever. Itís not that organized." Trent said, folding two slices together and taking a huge bite.

They all caravaned over to the club, arriving at about 11:00. The band was still setting up. Causing Jane and Daria to make many derisive comments, primarily cracking on Mystik Spiralís inability to start a gig on time. The club was playing some tunes, waiting until the band was ready to go on. As a group, they were conspicuous.

"Daria, are you aware that except for you, me and Trent, that everyone else looks like they stepped out of the Landís End catalog?" Jane scream-whispered at Daria.

"Yeah, itís the reverse of how I feel when I spend Christmas at their house." Daria screamed back. "This time they get to stand out."

The music suddenly stopped as the band stepped onto the stage. The crowed cheered and applauded as the band swung into their first song. It was a cover of Tears of a Clown. It was almost exactly like "The English Beatís" version, and it got the crowd dancing. Jane, Daria and Trent hung out at the back of the club, while the preppies took over the dance floor. They couldnít fault them for having fun, that was the whole point of going out, but it was amusing to see them mixed with a grungier element than they were used to. During the break some of the band members came over to talk with Trent about making it big.

"You know, I donít know too much about making it big. I did it, but Iím still not sure how I did it. I guess the only advice I have is make the best music you can." Trent talked a bit more with them and then they left to do their second set.

Jane had heard the exchange. "Trent, what was up with that?"

"What do you want me to tell them? That unless they start to write their own stuff, theyíll always be the house band at some dump in the suburbs. There was a time that we werenít ready to hear it. Look theyíre having fun. They sound great. Maybe thatís enough for them." Trent sipped his beer and leaned against the wall.

Jane considered this. He was right, they were a party band. The odds were that they would be together for a couple of years. The kids that were in college now, would graduate, and get jobs. The rest would either get together with different bands, or just drop music completely. Music for them was an alternative to some other job, not a way of life.

Daria brought her out of her thought. "Oh my God. Theyíre gatoring."

And sure enough, they were. Dariaís fiancée and his closest friends were on the floor writhing.

Jane laughed. Daria hid her head in her hands.

"Takes balls to look that stupid." Trent smiled.

That about summed up the evening.

 

Chapter 3

Beware of Geeks Bearing Gifts

It was weird to be in her bedroom in Lawndale. It wasnít even her bedroom. After she went away to school, Helen had completely re-decorated the room. The walls were ragged blue and the bed was simply dressed with a matlisse coverlet. White furniture and blue and white floral arrangements completed the look. The place looked like it came directly out of a magazine layout, but it was surprisingly homey. When Daria looked at the clock, she was shocked to see that it was almost 10:00 AM. She never slept that late, it disoriented her. Coffee was brewing, so she decided to go downstairs and get some.

Quinn was on the phone in the living room, counseling one of her clients, and helping her get an outfit together for a night of clubbing in New York. "Okay, so youíve got boots, good. Thatís your foundation, weíre going to work our way up from there." Daria knew that Quinn would be dealing with that for a while.

Helen was sitting at the kitchen table, reading the paper. "Good morning sweetie, want some coffee?"

Daria nodded, and walked over to the pot to pour a cup. She wasnít yet able to hold an intelligent conversation. The two of them sat and sipped until Daria was capable of speaking.

"So Daria, what were you planning to wear to the shower this afternoon?" Helen asked. "Itís going to be at the tea room at Le Grand Hotel, so it should be a nice outfit."

Daria knew what her mother meant by nice, it was something that would look ridiculous on her. Jodie was hosting the shower, and if Jodie and Helen got together in it, it would be one overblown affair. Daria was in such a quandary about what to wear that she consulted Quinn before she left home.

"Well, the traditional outfit would be a twin set, with pearls and a mid-calf length, floaty skirt." Quinn held the phone away from her ear so as not to have her eardrum pierced by Dariaís howl. "Well, I know that you arenít traditional, I just wanted you to know what the baseline was. We can work it out." It took a while, but Quinn was able to come up with something that was suitable and comfortable. Daria decided on a steel-blue turtleneck, black tweed skirt and black tights. Daria picked out the footwear, a demi-boot with a wicked heel. The heel didnít bother Daria, she had taken to high heels when she joined the corporate world, so she was perfectly happy with the outfit. Helen had to admit that her daughter was a hot number, that boot really did something for her. It wasnít bridal shower attire to her mind, but she learned to pick her battles, so she let it go.

The shower was slated to start at one, so they headed over to the hotel. Their table was all set up, Jodie was talking with Jane and of all people Brittany. Dariaís whole face was a question mark, but Brittany was always nice to her, so she went over to say hi.

Brittany looked great. She hadnít lost any of her pep. "Daria! How are you?" Brittany leaned over and gave Daria a crushing hug. "Itís so good to see you! So youíre getting married? I canít wait to meet the groom!"

Jane helped out with an explanation. "Daria, can you believe it? I ran into Brittany yesterday at the mall. We got to talking, and well, here she is."

Jane looked uncomfortable, but Daria was really happy to see her. "Wow, itís been a long time. You donít seem to have changed at all."

"Thanks! You look great too!" Brittany, as usual, missed the irony. They spent some time becoming reacquainted while waiting for the other guests to arrive. Brittany had done pretty well for herself, considering that she was voted Most Likely to Party Hardy, when she was in high school. She had attended the University of Florida (Go Gators!) on a cheerleading scholarship. She graduated with a degree in Physical Education and Nutrition. After graduation, she was recruited into a sales position with a nutritional supplement firm. She was now a sales manager, putting both her professional experience and her cheerleading abilities to good use. "So you see, I get to do all of the stuff Iím good at, isnít that GREAT?"

Jane actually was impressed. "So Brittany, whatever happened with you and Kevin?"

"Oh, that was really sad. Kevin got a scholarship to play football at University of West Virginia." Brittany said this like he was sentenced to life in Leavenworth.

"Whatís so terrible about that, thatís a pretty good football school." Jane asked

"Well, it is if youíre on the first string. Kevin was pretty big stuff here in Lawndale, but he didnít really have what it takes to succeed in a college football program and he sure didnít have what it takes to do well in college. He ended up dropping out and joining his Dad in his contracting business. Theyíre putting up that new office park on the edge of town."

"Is that why you guys broke up?"

"You know how it is, you go to different schools, you end up in different places, the next thing you know, youíre dating other people. It happens. I sure hope I wouldnít end up with the same guy I liked in high school. That would mean I hadnít moved on at all!"

Jane considered this, even Brittany had realized that what she wanted at 18 wasnít necessarily what she would want in her thirties. Jane felt guilty about wishing that Daria still wanted Trent after all this time.

Daria was greeting the party guests as they arrived. All the presents were piled on a table behind Daria. She was feeling very conspicuous, especially since most of the other guests were dressed in the traditional Bridal Shower attire. Of the 30 guests, 25 of them were wearing twin-sets. The exceptions were Daria, Jane, Quinn, Aunt Amy and Kirsten. Jane was charged with taking the pictures and as usual was a real pain in the ass. She was making everyone group up for all kinds of shots.

Daria was afraid that she would be a wallflower at her own party. She felt out of place at social functions, so she covered up her discomfort with a series of comments about the people or the place. Her friends took it for what it was, and took extra pains to make her feel comfortable. Other people would just think she was negative or wasnít enjoying herself. At this party, people came up to her and seemed genuinely interested in her life and her plans. Daria had never been the guest of honor, and if it was as much fun as this was, she wanted to do it more often.

After a chi-chi lunch (Daria and Jane made plans to go for pizza afterwards) it was time to open the presents. Oddly enough, Daria had been at enough of these events, to know that someone would be taking down her every word, presumably to read it back after the presents were opened, as the dialog of her wedding night. Jodie was standing by with the pad, ostensibly writing down the gift and the giver for Dariaís thank you notes.

Kirsten, Brianís youngest sister loved Daria and wanted to help, so Daria put her to work on ripping open the wrapping paper. The ribbons Daria wanted to handle herself. (The old wives tale about the number of broken ribbons equaling the number of children completely freaked her out.) Kirsten was charming. After Daria had carefully removed the ribbon and handed it to Jane, (for the making of the rehearsal bouquet) she gave the box to Kirsten. Kirsten had started to very carefully open the package, but Daria wanted this part of the day to speed right along, so she encouraged the little girl to "rip into it." Jane took a series of photos of the two of them. Daria was sweet with Kirsten, and the subsequent pictures were prominently displayed on Brianís desk at work.

Daria had forgotten what they had registered for, so the first gift, from her Aunt Rita, a crystal vase, was a complete surprise. Kirsten admired it enthusiastically and Daria, remembering Jodieís task smiled and said, "What a lovely vase. Thank you Aunt Rita!" She got up and gave her a hug. Helen smiled with relief at how gracious her daughter was, considering that Daria usually hated everything and although she didnít want to be unkind, her face would register obvious displeasure. Daria and Kirsten motored through the presents and with each one, Daria would make a pleasant remark, but would avoid statements that could be construed as having a sexual undertone if read out of context. Jane, fully aware of what she was doing, was starting to giggle as Daria racked her brain to come up with suitable comments for the increasingly silly gifts that she was receiving from her girlfriends.

"Brittany, you got me silk underwear, this color should compliment my skin tone nicely. Thank you!"

"I got black, because that used to be your favorite color." Brittany chirped. "Itís also really sexy!"

Jodie was becoming frustrated. Daria had navigated silver tea services, scented bath beads, a fung-shui fountain, a set of romantic DVDís, a garden sculpture and all kinds of place settings of her linens, stemware and breakfast china (Brian had selected Wedgewoodís Strawberry Pattern. Daria wasnít even aware that they had registered for two different china patterns.) With every gift Daria had managed to convey her gratitude, without saying anything that sounded the least bit sexual.

There was only one gift left and the box was huge. Kirsten was the most excited about this gift, being young enough to believe that the big box had the best present in it. Jane kept steering her away from it, until all of the other gifts had been opened. Daria was excited too, the size of the box seemed to suggest that she was getting an original Jane Lane painting, something that she truly wanted for her house. There was tons of ribbon on the box, and after navigating 29 other presents and not breaking one ribbon, this one broke into 5 pieces.

Daria looked at Jane, "Gee Lane, subtle. Five?"

Jane shrugged her shoulders, "Itís a nice number, there are five kids in my family."

"There are six in mine!" Kirsten piped up

"Yes, honey, there are a lot of kids in your family too." Daria and Kirsten got to work tearing the wrapping off of the box. They took the lid off and had to dig through tons of tissue to get to a very small box at the bottom. Daria was trying not to look disappointed about not getting a painting, she was curious as to what might be in the little box. Daria got the top off and inside was a set of keys.

"Jane, how nice, keys." Daria thought a moment, maybe it was art after all, a small key sculpture. She was trying to determine if that were the case before saying anything else. "Do I display these on a pedestal?"

"Well you could, but it wouldnít get you very far." Jane could tell that Daria was perplexed. The other guests had stopped chatting and eating cake to see what the last present was. It was then that Daria noticed that they were car keys.

"Jane, these are car keys." Daria observed, in her calm, but threatening tone.

"Well, not exactly car keys, mini-van keys."

"Why did you give me mini-van keys?" Daria still didnít get it.

"You know, five kids." Jane helped.

Then Daria got it. "You got us a mini-van!?!" She didnít know if she was more horrified that the gift was so expensive, or that it was a mini-van.

Jane was embarrassed, all the ladies at the lunch were staring at her. "Do you like it?"

"Is it black?" Daria asked, aware that she might have sounded ungrateful.

"Naturally. With a skull on it."

"The Tank lives." Daria smiled and the two friends hugged.

 

Chapter 4

A Road to Nowhere

Daria was starting to get edgy. She hadnít had any time alone in days. Every time she sat down to read or watch TV, someone was pulling her away, asking her to give her attention to a wedding detail, or to chat with an aunt or to meet one of Brianís relatives, of which there must have been 200.

They were supposed to be at an intimate dinner with 22 immediate family members. Daria met Brian at the hotel a half-hour early. Thankfully, he was alone in the room.

"Daria, youíre early! Great, letís fool around." He had just come out of the shower and he was wearing the complimentary robe and a smile.

Daria smiled. "No way groom-boy, weíre blowing this pop stand. Put on your warmest clothes, I stole my motherís Jeep, Iím kidnapping you."

"Embarking on a life of crime?" Brian was laughing, he would have kept on laughing if Daria hadnít started rummaging through his drawers looking for the clothes she wanted him to wear. "Daria, our families expect us at dinner." Brian took social obligations seriously, and he was scandalized at the notion that they would blow off a family dinner.

"Brian, you know I love your folks, and I love mine too, but Iíve had enough! Itís no big deal to you, you grew up with a whole hoard of people all around you, twenty-four/seven, but Iím not used to it. I canít take any more people being delighted with me. Itís wearing me to a thread. Please, letís just go for a ride, a really long, quiet ride alone. I miss you, I miss my quiet life. I donít want to be the center of attention any more." Daria was acting like a petulant child. Brian thought about it for a nanosecond until his protective instincts kicked in.

"Okay, hand me those jeans." He dressed quickly.

They stopped at his brotherís room on the way out. Ian was combing his hair as he answered the door. "Dude, can you cover for us? Weíre bailing on dinner, Daria wants some time alone, and I could use a break too."

Ian was sympathetic, but he didnít want to be the one to break the news to the gathering clans. "Brian, no sweat, but could you guys at least show up for dessert or something, these guys will eat me alive."

"Iím not making any promises, but if we can, we will." He and Daria made their escape.

They headed for the open road. It was a dark, cold night, but it was clear and there wasnít any ice or snow on the roads. Brian drove, while Daria sat in the passenger seat. It was perfectly quiet in the car. Daria was beginning to relax. She reached for Brianís hand, which was resting on the center console. They held hands without speaking for almost an hour.

"Love me?" Daria asked

"More today than yesterday." Brian said earnestly, "But not as much as tomorrow."

Daria laughed and squeezed his hand. "You are so stupid." She kissed his hand and held it close to her heart. "God, I love you." Daria loved that she could be corny and mushy with Brian. She just said what she felt, she didnít have to guard it or think about it or edit it. That was the ultimate freedom, to admit the love you have for someone and know that they feel the same right back. "Do you want me to tell you more?"

Brian was smiling, he loved how comfortable she was around him. When he first met her, he thought she was like that all the time. When he found out that most of her friends considered her wound tighter than a spring, he couldnít understand it. As he got to know her, he discovered that she had spent years saving all of this love and affection for someone who could return it, someone who wanted it and someone who would treasure it. She was saving it for him. It was one of the things about her that made her irresistible.

"Daria, sweetie, lover, my little conch shell. Tell me your secrets." Brian loved it when she was in this mood, because he could be mushy and corny too. Now he didnít care at all about the dinner, this was really what getting married was about, not a family reunion. "Come on, you know you have them."

Daria did have something that she wanted to tell him. She wanted to tell him about Trent. "You know that I love Trent." She announced.

Brian laughed. "Of course, so do I if it comes down to it. I wish I had his sex appeal."

Daria laughed too, "Yeah, can you imagine being sixteen and having to deal with it?"

"How did you ever maintain a 4.0 grade point in high school with that kind of distraction?"

"I studied a lot. At Janeís house." They both howled with laughter. All of the tension and the anxiety from earlier in the evening had evaporated.

Brian got serious for a minute. "You know Trent loves you too."

"Well, yeah, like a sister." Daria was sure she was on solid ground with that statement.

"I donít think so. More like a muse. Heís got one of those courtly love things going on. He worships you from afar. Or from up close. Heís got you up on a pedestal, big-time." Brian always had such interesting insights.

"Do you really think so?" Daria was fascinated. "Boy, if you told me that 15 years ago, what I wouldnít have done with that information!"

"Like what?" Brian was intrigued, he was hoping to see another side to Daria, something he hadnít suspected.

"I would haveÖ" Daria was thinking seriously about what she would have done, if she knew then what she knew now. "Made his hotel reservations, loaned him money, put him and the band up at my house and helped him with lyrics. God, how boring is that? I wouldnít have changed a thing."

They drove for another two hours, stopping for a quick bite before heading back to the hotel. They were both in a much better frame of mind when they got back. They were holding hands and walking through the lobby when they saw everyone clustered around one of the large fireplaces.

Jake was the first to spot them. "Hey, Brian, Daria, you made it. See I knew theyíd show up!" Jake kissed Daria on the forehead as he shoved over to make room for her on the mammoth sofa.

"So what are you guys drinking?" Brian was curious, everyone had a steaming hot mug of something.

"Itís called a ĎGirl-Scout cookieí itís hot chocolate and mint" Quinn explained. All of the OíNeill kids were trying to sit next to Quinn. Kirsten had fallen asleep in her motherís lap, but Courtney and Chelsea were seated on either side of her. Ian and Sean were both standing behind her, leaning over the back of the sofa to get her attention. "The guy in the bar will bring you guys one."

It was a nice end to the day, the whole family zoned out, sipping warm drinks on a cold winterís evening.


Chapter 5

Iím With the Band

At the time it seemed like a good idea to do the Behind the Music taping in Lawndale. The crew was coming anyway, to see the roots of Mystik Spiral. Jane thought that since they would be in Lawndale for Dariaís wedding, that they might as well combine both events. They were using the studio at the local public access station. They sat on a cheesy couch, with a black background behind it. The set reminded Jane of a million green rooms, in a million dives all over the West Coast. All it needed was malnourished groupies, bad Chinese food and a stray cat to make it complete.

Asking Daria to come along was an afterthought. Jane had stopped by that morning to talk to Helen about the rehearsal dinner. Helen was telling Jane about her plans for the day, they included a luncheon with her sisters and an afternoon of shopping for last minute items, naturally Daria would be coming with her. Jane excused herself and went up to Dariaís room.

"Daria, wake up, Iím here to rescue you." She pulled open the curtains to let in what little sunlight there was, shine in.

"Huh?" Daria was always disoriented in the morning. "What are you talking about?"

"Your Mom has planned a fun filled day with your Aunts. It includes shopping. Iím here to take you away from that." Jane explained as she pulled out some clothes for Daria.

"Oh Shit, I canít deal with that, youíve got to hide me." Daria was panicked.

"Okay, Iíve got it under control." Jane threw an outfit at Daria, as she ran into the bathroom for a quick shower. 15 minutes later, Daria and Jane were on their way to the studio.

After what seemed like hours, Jane and Trent were finally ready to begin filming. Daria settled into an armchair on the sidelines. Trent and Jane were talking about Mystik Spiralís early days. Daria smiled as she relived those memories. Trent was typically quiet while Jane described Mystik Spiralís rock and roll story.

"The guys used to play the funkiest places. High School parties, brew pubs, biker bars, whatever. There would be stoners out in the crowd with lighters yelling "FREEBIRD," completely clueless. Daria and I would go to all the local gigs, mostly to get out of the house. It was good for the band because we had ambiguous status, we were with the band, but no one knew exactly how, so we probably saved the guys from years of painful antibiotic injections."

Trent spoke up "Now Janey, thatís not true, those girls can be persistent if they want to be. We didnít have an interest."

"Trent, please. Twenty-year old guys? Trust me, you can thank Daria and me for chasing off the groupies."

"Give us some credit. I will admit that you girls set a good example. We could hardly go with some skank who just wanted bragging rights when you girls were around."

"You are such a romantic." Jane rolled her eyes.

"Not that we didnít get laid plenty on the road." Trent smiled.

It was the kind of stuff that "Behind the Music" was famous for. The interview continued as Daria drifted back in time. She was back in her apartment in Berkeley. She had really lucked out with her housing. Janeís mom had a friend who owned a pottery studio/store that she ran out of a rustic shake house in the Berkeley hills. The upstairs apartment was a lovely open space, it was one room with very high ceilings. The small kitchen to one side was all in white, a closet along the far wall supported a sleeping loft. A skylight allowed sun to pour into the white space. Windows on the distant wall faced trees and the street below. It was the perfect place, and only a short bus ride away from campus. Daria would occasionally help out in the store on the weekends, during busy periods, and her landlady, Lisa often gave her gifts of her pots, which Daria arranged around her home. Daria wasnít much into decorating her apartment, a large bookcase and some pillows thrown around the floor comprised her decor. There was something about an uncluttered habitat that appealed to her sensibilities.

Jane had come up from UC Santa Cruz one weekend when Mysitik Spiral was playing the Mabuhay Gardens in San Francisco. The Mabuhay used to be a Filipino restaurant that had been turned into an alternative band showcase. There were three thatch-covered bars and a few tables and chairs around the place, but it was primarily a large open dance floor that flaunted the Fire Marshalís maximum occupancy limits. Jane and Daria helped the band set up and hung out until the end of the night. They were one of four acts, so it was very early in the morning before they got back to Dariaís. Trent brought up his acoustic guitar and played a bit while Jane and Daria went up to the loft to sleep. The guys rolled out their sleeping bags and talked about the gig, what they did well, what could be improved, but after a while the only sound was Trentís guitar. Daria fell asleep dreaming of clouds.

It was very late in the morning when Daria woke up. She was acutely aware that coffee must be made. Jane stumbled blindly behind her down the stairs. They got a clear view of the living room where the guys apparently slept where they dropped. Daria looked between Jane and the band, "Get the salt, I think weíve got them all."

Jane surveyed the landscape of sleeping musicians, "I hate it when they leave trails like that."

Once the coffee was ready, they sipped it in the kitchen and talked about the previous night.

"Jane, is it me or are they really starting to sound good? I mean, up till now itís been a bit of a goof, but last night they sounded like a real band. It was scary in a way."

Jane drained her mug and got up to refill it. "Theyíve really been working hard, their new material seems to have, I donít know, transcended the basement. Theyíre serious about being professional. By the way, thanks for the help youíve been giving Trent with the lyrics, it makes a world of difference."

Daria blushed, she didnít think he would have mentioned it to Jane. "Itís nice to see the band mature, but Iíll miss some of the old stuff like "From the Futon." That would never be played on MTV."

"And thatís the point." Jane paused to sip, "There were some record industry people in the audience last night, so Iím thinking itís now or never. Either they sign a deal or they have to decide what they want to be when they grow up."

Daria sighed. "Why is it that if a guyís in a band when heís twenty, heís cool and interesting, but let that same guy plug away at it for a few years and he starts to get creepy and pathetic. Itís not fair."

"What are you going to do? Thatís the way it is. Do you see yourself in your thirties, maybe with kids, working all day and coming home to a guy who is still sleeping until the banks are open in Hawaii?

Daria deliberately decided to misunderstand her. "When you put it that way it sounds disturbing. Iím just thinking that the difference between pathetic and successful should be talent, not the size of the record deal."

Jane glanced over at the sleeping musicians. "So youíre saying that as long as the music is good, that you donít have a problem?"

Daria suspiciously checked to see that Trent was still asleep. "Itís nothing to do with me. I see your point, I just hate to see someone with vision and talent stop doing the thing they love, especially in the name of becoming a grown-up."

"Ah, Peter Pan syndrome strikes again. Daria, the band canít go to Never-Never land. If they want to be musicians, and they do, they have to get a record deal, otherwise itís LA Woman at the Ramada after a day of hanging dry wall."

Daria made a face, "I hope you have a plan."

"What do you think of this? In a nutshell: One of the record companies has approached the band. We cut some demoís, get some local play, a West Coast tour of every dive between Tijuana and Vancouver, hot clubs in New York start to play the disk, we make a video, itís played on MTV and about 12 months later they either drop from exhaustion or theyíre an overnight success."

"So thatís what youíre doing for your summer vacation?" Daria began clearing the dishes and put on another pot of coffee for the guys. "Powdered donuts work for these guys right?"

Jane looked up through her hair, "Yup, breakfast of champions, if you donít mind serving it at 2:00 in the afternoon."

"At least the banks are open in Hawaii."

Everything went pretty much according to Janeís plan. She dropped out of school three semesters shy of her degree to work with the band. The guys handled the music part of the deal while Jane managed, molded and babysat the band. Daria put them up at her house whenever they hit the Bay Area and helped out with back office issues whenever they came up. Daria was the ghost in the machine. She never directly contributed, but she influenced the band in subtle ways. She helped with lyrics, loaned money for the demo tapes and maintained the web site. Later when the band was big, Daria provided the view from the real world. She was often the familiar face in the crowd that kept the band centered. On Mystik Spiralís Best Bar Band in the World album, a collection of popular covers (including LA Woman,) they changed Themís Gloria to Daria. It went to number three that summer. Jane put Daria in the video. She held a drink and looked bored as screaming girls tried to jump on stage with the band. Daria was under the impression that she would blend into the crowd, but when the video was released, only she and Trent were in color, everyone else was in black and white. The point was hard to miss. Throngs of strangers going crazy while Trent was singing his heart out to a woman he couldnít reach. At the time Daria cursed Jane, and chalked it up to yet another on of her attempts to get the two of them together. Neither Trent nor Daria ever said anything about it to each other, so nothing came of it, much to Janeís frustration. Daria spent that summer denying that she was the chick in the video

While Mystik Spiralís music and lyrics were good, it was Janeís videos that really catapulted the band to their current level of success. The fact that Trent and Jesse became heartthrobs didnít hurt either. Trent threatened to quit if he ever appeared in Tiger Beat or 16 magazine, so it was a good thing that he appealed to an older demographic, that and gay men. Trent often said that he preferred being adored by gay men to young girls, at least it put him in better company. No matter how big the band got, they always worked out their new material in the small clubs where they started, sometimes under the name of Helpful Corn. This helped them stay close to their raw "basement" sound (as Rolling Stone called it,) and away from the corporate "factory" feel of a band that has hit it big. Mystik Spiral always stayed true to their sound and vision, which is why after ten years they were interesting enough to merit a VH1 Behind the Music.

Trent and Jane were telling the story about the time that Daria and Quinn had come to bail them out of jail, and while they told it well enough, something was missing. The director stopped the film while they worked it out. It was determined that they needed Dariaís perspective, and sarcasm, to really make it interesting. She was snapped out of her reverie when she saw that all eyes were on her.

"Well Daria, what do you say? Feel like tasting some immortality?" Jane asked.

"Hell no. Iím not famous and I donít want to be." Daria replied, getting up and gathering up her stuff, giving the impression that she was about to bolt.

Trent went after her and grabbed her arm to stop her. "Daria, itís cool, if you donít want to, donít, but please donít go, we need you here."

"Trent, this is your gig, Iím going to take offÖ" It was a good effort, but Daria found herself being lead to the sofa, while the grips got a light on her. Before she knew it, the three of them were reliving their youth. Trent held her hand to keep her steady. They went on for hours, Jesse, Max and Nick showed up and they reminisced about gigs, road trips and all the great times they had.

At the end of the filming, Daria was drained, she felt the same way she did after she lost her virginity, thrilled and terrified. She had a nasty headache, so she caught a ride home with Max. Trent and Jane stayed a bit later than everyone else, to preview the tape and to give some guidance for how to edit it.

Trent was talking with Jane and the segment producer. The producer was a bit confused about why the band held so much stock in Daria. Jane and Trent were used to this kind of reaction, most of the people they knew in the music business, never had real friends and couldnít understand why anyone would bother with people if they werenít in the business. Jane was explaining why she and Daria were so close.

"Daria is my best friend. Sheís the kind of person who would not only drive 200 miles to help you with a flat tire, but she would buy you pancakes after. You know how there are people who can make any situation funny at the time, and fun in retrospect? Daria is one of those people. The oddest thing about her is that she has no idea how funny she is, so if you donít expect it, you can get completely blindsided."

The producer looked confused for a minute. "So sheís comic relief?"

Trent tried to explain. "No man, you donít laugh at her, you laugh with her. Thereís more to her than that, lotís more, sheís deep, really deep. I always thought that she would have been a hell of a songwriter if she put her mind to it. I always get her to help me with lyrics, although Iím not allowed to call after midnight or before sunrise anymore. Iíll bet thereís a box in her house somewhere that could keep us in platinum records through the next decade."

Chapter 6

Nothing Cheese Fries Canít Cure

It was about eight oíclock when they finally wrapped up taping. Trent went to get ready for Brianís bachelor party and Jane went to see Daria. When Jane showed up, Daria was upstairs with a wet towel over her eyes, physically sick at the thought of being on television.

"Hey Daria, not feeling so well?" Jane observed from the doorway.

"What did I do?" Daria moaned "Oh God, I wonít be able to go back to work."

"Would that be such a bad thing?" Jane sat on the edge of the bed.

Daria sat up. "Of course! Can you imagine? Iíll have people 5 deep at my desk, singing that stupid song, waiving lighters in my face and asking me for introductions to Trent. You know how VH1 is, theyíll run that thing forever, four times a week. Iíll never live it down."

"Thatís not what I mean, would it be so terrible to leave your day-job?"

"MY DAY JOB? Jane, Iím not an artist or a musician or anything like that, I donít have a day job. I have a job, job."

Jane looked at her with sympathy, which pissed Daria off. "Daria, you know what I mean, please donít tell me that marketing is your calling, I deal with marketing people all day long and they are not what you call kindred spirits, more like evil spirits.

"Thanks Jane, now I feel just great." Daria put the towel back on her eyes.

"All Iím saying is that you arenít meant for this corporate crap. You have talent that you arenít using. Think about what we used to talk about when we were in school. We were going to live in Europe, you were going to write, and I was going to do my art. We had a plan, we had dreams, what happened?"

"I donít know what youíre moaning about, you do your art, Iíve seen your dining room. I know for a fact that youíve been to Europe, I saw the movie. As for me, I live in the real world, a place that is strangely far removed from Los Angeles. In the real world, we work at jobs, get regular pay-checks and if weíre really lucky our health benefit choices donít include an HMO." Daria said this as if she meant it to be definitive, but she sounded depressed when she heard it out loud.

"Are you really doing what you want to do?" Janeís deep blue eyes penetrated Dariaís through the towel. She reached over and lifted it up to look Daria in the face. "Come on, tell Auntie Jane."

"Okay, Iíll admit it, I can do my job with both hands tied behind my back. Iím bored out of my mind, but why should I leave? The moneyís good, I have real health insurance and Iím home by five-thirty every night. Not everyone is talented and driven enough to get where you and Trent are. I guess I fit into that category." Daria was not indulging in self-pity, she was her usual realistic self.

"Now, donít you feel better? You know, of course, that you are talented enough. Drive, we need to work on. Admit something else while youíre at it. You love the idea of being part of the band, youíre really "The Fifth Spiral."

Daria laughed. "Jane, youíre "The Fifth Spiral," at the most Iím "The Seventh Spiral," right after Cameron, the roadie.

"No, Iíd definitely put you before Cameron. Well come on six. Get something on and comb your hair, you look like you could use some cheese fries. And while weíre eating, maybe we can figure out what instrument you play."

As Daria was getting dressed, she was thinking. Maybe with all the other changes in her life, there were a few more yet to come.

Chapter 7

Boys Night Out

Ian and Sean were sitting on Brianís bed, waiting for him to get out of the bathroom. Sean was getting impatient. It was his first bachelor party and he was anxious to get to it. Brian was dreading it. He loved his brothers and his frat brothers if it came to that, but he couldnít imagine what kind of debauchery they had planned, and he just wasnít in the mood.

He remembered when his friends got married. It was funny at first, dragging the groom to some seedy "gentlemenís club" to see dancers. Now that he was older, and wiser, it just didnít sound like a good time. But, it was a tradition, a stupid tradition and the sooner they went, the sooner he could come home and go to bed.

Trent, being the hometown boy, was to provide the transportation as well as arrange the entertainment. Patrick and Dylan knocked on the door, holding a bottle of Jack Daniels. Brian poked his head out of the door and saw the bottle. He closed the door and leaned his head against it. "Shit," he thought. "I donít want to get drunk and I donít want to see some stranger naked. I wonder what Dariaís doing. Anything would be better than this. This sucks. Okay, get it together. Itís only one night. The last time Iíll have to do this too. Thank God." He opened the door, and gave them a Roman salute. "We who are about to die, salute you."

The guys hooted and hollered. At ten, they went downstairs to wait for Trent. He was already there with a big limousine. He was thinking about where the Hell to take these guys. He was talking with the driver about some spots, but he just wasnít into watching a silicone-enhanced bimbo shake her tits in his face. It was going to be a long night. He saw the group advancing toward him; the guys were passing a bottle between them. How did Jane and Daria talk him into this? What a drag.

Sean had been looking forward to the evening with great anticipation. He was a Mystik Spiral fan, so hanging out with Trent was his wet dream. The other guys had no problem passing the bottle to him, so that was cool. On top of everything he was going to his first tittie bar.

They all piled into the car and the driver took them to the best strip club in Lawndale, which isnít saying much. Between the limo and Trent, the bouncers had no problems letting in the whole party without checking IDís. They guys ordered drinks, Trent and Brian were sticking to beer. The show was starting, as Van Halenís Hot for Teacher blasted over the speakers. A woman came on stage in what was supposed to be an outfit a teacher would wear, a white blouse, that was way too tight, a black skirt that was slit way too high and improbably high stiletto heels. She began to dance to the music, but it looked like she was trying to remember her moves, rather than grooving to the music, so instead of being sexy, she just looked pained. Ian and Sean were enthusiastic in their appreciation. Patrick and Dylan were critiquing her performance, offering tips for improvement. They apparently had standards for their strippers. Trent and Brian both got up and went outside for a breath of air.

"Hey Dino, how they treating you here?" Trent asked the bouncer.

"Pretty good man, payís okay, hours suck, but at least I get home to see my kids before they go off to school, so thatís good." Dino replied. He was a hulk, with a shaved head and muscles on top of muscles. "Whoís your buddy?" He extended his hand to Brian.

"Brian OíNeill. Howís it going?" Brian shook the manís hand.

"Canít complain. Hey, you related to Mr. OíNeill at the high school?"

"Yeah, I think so. Heís on the guest list at any rate." He looked to Trent for help.

"Touchy feely English teacher." Trent helped.

"Oh yeah, my Dadís cousin. Small world isnít it?" Brian said. He wondered if Daria knew Cousin Tim. Heíd have to ask her.

Trent felt that some explanation was in order. "Brianís marrying Daria this weekend."

Dino was impressed. "Dude! Wicked! Daria was always cool with me. Sheís good people. If you donít mind my asking, howíd you guys hook up? She never put up with shit from guys as a rule."

Brian laughed. "Well for one thing, I never gave her any shit."

Dino laughed and slapped Brian on the back, making him stumble. "Youíre alright man!" Trent laughed and coughed at the same time.

"Way to go man. Wow, Daria getting married. She was pretty hot in those boots. She still have those?" Dino inquired.

Brian had to think. "Dariaís got lots of boots. I personally hauled a big box of boots into the house a couple of weeks ago. Any pair in particular?"

Again Trent had to help out. "Daria and Jane used to wear these killer Doc Martins."

Dino nodded in agreement. "Yeah, they were hot. Trent, is Jane in town too?"

"Yup, one of the bridesmaids."

"Shit, what I wouldnít give to see that." Dino said wistfully.

Brian was starting to get into this. "Well Dude, you should come to the wedding. Itís at Le Grand Hotel on Saturday at 8:00. Sit down dinner. Bring the wife."

"No shit?" Dino said, like he won the lottery.

"No shit. Weíd love to have you. I know Daria would." Brian was feeling magnanimous.

"Hey, Iíll check with Tina to see what weíve got going. We may just stop by."

"Great." Brian was excited. He was dying to know how Dino and Daria knew each other; it sounded like there was some history.

The guys hung out for over an hour, catching up; talking over old times and in general killing time until they could go home. Just then the door opened and Ian, Patrick and Dylan were trying to hold up Sean. Who had apparently imbibed too freely. He looked awful. Dino sprung into action.

"Hey, get that dude to the curb, heís gonna hurl." Just as they did, he did. Trent and Brian just looked at each other. Perfect end to a perfect evening.

"My Mom is going to kill me." Brian moaned. Sean was in bad shape. When they were reasonably sure that he could travel, they piled him into the car, rolled down all the windows and headed for the nearest diner.

They pulled into a place that looked like it was erected in the fifties. It had a space age theme to it and a giant coffee cup on the sign outside. There was a large booth available in the back, and they managed to get to it. The guys, with the exception of Trent and Brian, were all pretty drunk, so they didnít want to be where everyone could see them. The waitress hustled over with coffee. "Iím guessing you all are going to be needing eggs, right? What else?" They gave their orders, such as they were and they sat there, looking and feeling pathetic. Suddenly a familiar face peered at them from over the booth.

"Nero? Caligula?" It was Daria.

Jane walked up to the table. "You guys look like youíve been having a good time."

Trent was embarrassed. Brian was embarrassed. Dylan was horny. "Janey, címer, Iíve got somethiní for ya."

"Iíll just bet you do." Jane laughed. "Trent you throw a depraved little fete. Maybe I can jump out of the cake later."

Daria came around and sat next to Brian. "So honey, were the boobs pretty?"

Sean felt that he needed to answer that. "Daria, you shouldíve seen, they were HUGE." He nodded his head up and down and held his cupped hands out in front of him for emphasis.

"Oh how nice. Iím glad." She was amused. They were a sad looking lot.

Brian took her hand and squeezed it. "Hey hon, we ran into a friend of yours. Dino."

Daria raised an eyebrow, a neat trick she had wanted to try. "Oh, how is he?"

"Big." Brian answered.

"Aw, did the big man scare Brian? Poor Baby." She kissed him on the cheek.

"Hell yes! By the way, how come he knows you?" Brian asked pointedly

"I lost my virginity to him." Daria deadpanned.

Trent and Jane laughed and Brian looked dismayed. "But heís HUGE."

Sean heard his cue, "Yeah, HUGE."

"Shut up Sean!" Brian was trying to conceptualize how it was possible that his Daria could have been with Dino.

"Brian, Iím kidding. God, how much did you drink?" Daria looked into his eyes.

Brian was visibly relieved. Trent and Jane were really laughing now. "Thatís the sad part. One beer."

"Damn, what a light-weight. Have another one so I can take advantage of you."

 

 

 

Chapter 8

Practice Makes Perfect

Brian and his brothers Ian and Sean were roaming the halls of the hotel. They were supposed to be in the ballroom for the rehearsal, but for some reason, they were having a problem finding it. Brian, very conscientious about being prompt was starting to stress out. There was a judge waiting for them, and as a lawyer, he took that very seriously. There were 3 levels, and they had looked on levels 1 and 2. They were now heading for the mezzanine. The bellboys were staring at them, but the guys wouldnít ask for directions. Brian was almost ready to hyperventilate, when he saw Jane and Trent standing out side the ballroom.

Jane was holding the "bouquet" that she had made at Dariaís shower. She had enhanced it, gluing various fetish type items onto it, including 5 little pink babies. There was also a black Hot Wheels van, a small plastic guitar, a ball point pen and a kitchen magnet that looked like pizza. Everything Jane touched was turned into an artistic statement.

Jane saw them running up. "Hey guys, whatís the hurry?"

"Arenít we late?"

"Yeah, but they arenít even near ready in there. Iíd send those guys in though, theyíre trying to figure out who walks down the aisle with whom." Jane prided herself on being grammatically correct. "Hang with us."

Brian didnít need to be asked twice. "So why arenít you in there."

Trent looked pained. "Helen. I love her man, sheís the responsible Mom I never had, but damn, she can be bossy."

"Weíd be smoking out here. If we smoked." Jane said, "What other acts of obvious vagrancy could we be performing?"

"Doo-wop group? Graffiti? Pitching pennies?" Brian offered

Trent laughed and coughed. "Youíre alright."

Brian flushed a bit. Daria poked her head out of the ballroom door. "Okay guys, we need you."

They all filed in and as Trent had said, Helen was orchestrating everything. "Trent, here you are! Good. Okay hereís how itís going to go. Quinn and Ian, Jane and Sean, Jodie and Patrick, Courtney and Kyle, Chelsea and Dylan and Kirsten and Trent."

Kirsten jumped up and down and Courtney looked very put out. Chelsea was nursing a small crush on Dylan, so she was perfectly happy.

Trent didnít mind walking the little girl down the aisle. If the picture ended up in People, at least it wouldnít be with some kind of innuendo associated with it.

Jane gave the bouquet to Daria as everyone was lining up to do the run through. "Jane, you donít quit do you. I get everything else, whatís with the pen?

"Oh, I donít know, maybe thatís your instrument." Jane said as she took Seanís arm.

They ran through the procedure of walking down the aisle, lining up on opposite sides paying close attention to pace and smiling. Daria stood in the back of the room, trying to catch Brianís eye, but he was too focused on the rehearsal. Now it was time for Daria and Jake to walk to the front of the room. There wasnít any music, but in her mind she heard Kate Bushís Sensual World, and an enigmatic smile played on her lips as she walked towards Brian, holding her ribbon bouquet.

Judge Hardy went through the mechanics of the ceremony. Jake and Helen stood together, both had tears in their eyes. Laura and Mike beamed like it was Christmas. It didnít take long. Everyone cheered when the Judge pronounced them "almost husband and wife." They all witnessed as Daria and Brian practiced their very first married kiss.

Daria and Brian were arguing about the intensity of the kiss on their way up to dinner. For convenience they had decided to stay at the hotel, although Daria was sure that everyone was dying to get out of there.

Brian took Daria and dipped her dramatically, and gave her a very long and passionate kiss. "Now thatís the kind of thing I had in mind for the first kiss of our marriage."

Daria considered for a moment. She reached up, she had to stand on tiptoe to reach him, and pulled him down to her. He obliged as she kissed him softly and chastely, but with surprising passion. "Thatís what I had in mind."

Brian laughed. "I think we need to try a few more, Iím certain weíll get it right before tomorrow.

During dinner, everyone stopped by to speak to Bride and Groom. Brianís grandmother Elizabeth sat next to Daria and told her about her wedding day. Daria had met Elizabeth many times before at various holidays, and loved to hear stories about her life, she had been calling her Gram since they were first introduced. Daria was captivated, listening to her story of being married, just as her husband was sent off to fight in World War II. Daria admired her strength, and wondered how she would feel if Brian were going off to fight, wondered how she would handle it if she lost him. The thought dismayed her and tears came to her eyes.

"Oh honey, I didnít mean to upset you." Elizabeth patted her hand to comfort her.

"Oh Gram, itís not that, Iím just being silly, I scared myself." Daria wiped her eyes with a linen hanky Quinn had given her. Elizabeth laughed.

Trent and Brian were hanging out together. It was a deep and serious conversation and Daria was burning with curiosity to know what they were talking about. They were each drinking pints of Guinness, every now and then Sean would come up and Brian would nonchalantly hand him his glass.

Ian was sitting with Quinn and Jane, he wanted to know everything about all the famous people that they knew, and they were indulging him with stories about his favorite movie stars and musicians.

Daria went to talk with her Aunt Amy. "Hey, are you having fun yet?"

"Oh yeah, I canít get enough of my family." Amy was smiling, but she was pretty much just enduring the party. Daria knew the feeling well.

"Well, Iím glad youíre here." Daria gave her a hug. "I donít know about you, but I really like Brianís family. You should check them out. Theyíre all pretty great, but your best bet is Elizabeth. Kirsten runs a close second, if you donít mind telling stories."

"Thanks for the tip." Amy went to look for Elizabeth, but turned back to Daria. "Is that the reason youíre marring him?"

"One of them. One of many." Daria smiled a dazzling smile and went over to Brian and Trent to get in on the conversation.

"Oh no, she got stung by a bee, on top of everything else? Poor baby." Brian was saying as Daria came up.

"Trent, you are not telling that road trip story are you?" Daria said sternly as she intruded into their tete-a-tete.

"Honey, I was pumping him for information. I wanted to know what you were like when you were sixteen." Brian explained.

"Yeah Daria, Brian didnít know any of this stuff. Donít you guys talk?" Trent said, trying to get a rise out of Daria.

"Yes we talk. I believe that I told you that story on our second date." Daria answered. None too piqued to be accused of holding back.

"Did you? I guess I wasnít paying attention. Distracted as I was." Brian responded, trying to be as charming as possible.

"How were you distracted?" Trent asked

"You know. Daria." Brian explained, sort of.

Trent thought about it for a minute. "Oh yeah." He realized their glasses were empty. He took Brianís glass. "Refill?"

"Sure" Trent went to the bar for another round. Brian realized he was in hot water.

"What the hell was that? You made him think that I was sleeping with you right off." Dariaís eyes were flashing, she was really angry.

"Calm down. Iím sure he didnít think that, and I certainly didnít imply it. All I was saying was that you were so great, and that I was so overwhelmed by you, that I was distracted." He kissed her on the top of her head. "I know Trent knew what I meant. No one in their right mind would think that you were a push-over."

Daria realized that she overreacted. "Sorry, youíre right. I guess Iím just sensitive when it comes to him. Heís really down tonight. I wonder why?"

"How can you tell? He seems the same as he always is." Brian asked.

"After a while you learn to pick up on his moods. I wonder whatís on his mind." Daria watched him waiting to get the bartenderís attention.

"No big mystery there Daria. Heís bugged about us getting married."

"Oh come on, thatís a bit of a leap. Whereíd you get that? Did he say anything?"

"No, he didnít have to. Weíre guys, we understand each other without saying the words. Heís losing you in a way. Things wonít be the same once weíre married, and heís bumming about that." Brian said authoritatively.

Daria looked at him. "If you say so. You know, I havenít had a real conversation with Trent in a while. I wonder what heís thinking."

All night long, Daria and Brian were chatting with the people closest to them. Catching up with the folks they didnít see all that often, and comparing notes with those they did. Toasts were made, and rather than being tacky, they were all sentimental and nice. Trent proposed a toast to the Bride and Groom in which he treated them to some lyrics he was working on for a song in progress. The party broke up early, giving everyone, but especially the wedding party, an opportunity for a good nightís sleep.

It was a wonderful evening. If Daria had ever felt unloved or isolated, it was all erased and forgotten now. There were hugs and kisses as everyone left to go back to their rooms, or as in the case with most of the wedding party, the hotel bar. Brian left with his parents and sisters, after stealing a moment alone with his bride.

He kissed her softly and looked into her eyes. "Are you going to be okay without me tonight? I miss you terribly."

"Iíll cry into my pillow all night" Daria replied, with Scarlett OíHaraís accent.

"See that you do." They embraced for a moment longer.

"Fiddle dee-dee." Daria said as he left with his folks.

The last people there were Helen, Jake, Trent and Daria.

"Daria, itís time to go home and get our beauty sleep. Weíve got a big day ahead of us tomorrow. Good night Trent." Helen kissed him on the cheek.

"Iíll be happy to bring Daria home later, Iíd like to talk with her." Trent offered "We havenít had any time together in a while."

Helen looked skeptical, she always thought of Trent as dangerous, in a heartbreaking kind of way.

"You know, last night with old friends." Trent explained.

"Mom, Iíll be fine, Iím not tired anyway." She hugged Helen and kissed Jake good night and went out into the cold night with Trent.

They walked around to the pool. The trees were decorated with white Christmas lights that were reflected in the water. Trent pulled two lounge chairs together and they reclined on them, in their coats, looking at the sky.

"Daria, weíve been friends for half our lives." Trent started. He seemed to want to say something, but couldnít get it out.

"Yeah, itís been great. I get to live a wild rock and roll life through you vicariously. Do you live a quiet, boring life vicariously through me?" Daria realized that she must have struck a nerve because Trent pulled closer to her, holding her hand.

"More than that I hope. Is that what you really want for yourself?" Trent had been working this out in his head for a while, but he didnít know where it would lead or where he wanted it to lead.

Daria became thoughtful for a moment. Her emotions had been on overload for weeks. Compared with her normal detached calm, she was on the edge of hysterical. She wanted to laugh and cry, and all of this feeling exhausted her.

"What Iíve always wanted for myself was to be comfortable. I donít have a risk taking nature. I realize that I have the potential to be and do all kinds of things, but they are out of my comfort zone. Itís not fear, itís not that Iím afraid of doing things, itís just that Iíd rather do the easy thing. The hard thing requires effort, and why should I, if the reward doesnít justify the risk?" Daria explained.

"Like the time we wanted you to be our road manager instead of going into that management program?"

"Sort of, Iím sure I could have done the job. But the thing is, I wanted to be in that management program and I didnít want to be a road manager. You and Jane are the artists, Iím the practical one, remember? When I was younger my biggest fear was that I could end up bourgeois like Jake and Helen, but now that Iíve got fifteen years worth of perspective, itís not so bad. Iíve done my bohemian phase, my corporate phase, my living large in the big city phase, after tomorrow, Iím ready to do something else. I havenít decided if it includes children, or a career change or what, but Iím not going to be the same person. Hell, Iím not the same person I was two hours ago. Entropy, ainít it a bitch." Daria shivered.

"Are you cold?" Trent asked.

"No, its nice out here, I just got a feeling of propelling through the universe with no brakes."

Trent was silent for a moment, he inhaled and slowly began speaking. "Did you ever think that you and I missed something along the line? Some chance that we blew?"

Daria thought about it. She couldnít pretend that she didnít know what he was talking about. "When I was sixteen I was happy just to be in the same room with you. I had such a crush on you, I still do. I always thought that if I lived in a parallel universe, that you and I would have been together. We have such different priorities in this universe that I donít think that we could have met on any plane. Do I think we could fall in love? I just donít know. "

Trent considered for a moment. "I always thought that if we did get together that we could have had a mythical love. Burning across the ages. But how does a rock and roll musician ignite a flaming passion in a marketing executive?"

"Thatís just it, Iím not sure that could ever have happened. We both would have had to be different people, maybe if you were a corporate lawyer you could have figured it out. Maybe if I had been a road manger or a bass player or a producer you would know exactly how to light that fire, but as it is, weíre stuck with the tools we have and they donít do the job." Daria put her head on his shoulder, it seemed the right gesture.

Trent scooted in closer, he liked being close to her like this. "So is this a tragedy?"

"I guess itís all in your perspective. In my universe, Iím marrying my soul mate, but I see you in your universe and you seem so sad, so I guess I have mixed emotions about it. To be honest, I have so many emotions going on right now, it doesnít surprise me in the least that they are mixed. How do you feel?"

Trent put his arm around her, and kissed her cheek. "Youíre right, Iím sad for me, when I look at you I see a couple of things. I know that you are with a guy who really loves and respects you, so Iím happy for you, I love you and I want you to be happy. I also see a genius turning her back on her talent. Daria, whatever you decide to do after tomorrow, promise me youíll go back to writing. Not just the funny stuff for the magazine, but all your beautiful poetry too."

Dariaís eyes were full of tears, there were years of "what could have been" combined with her very happy "what is" and it was confusing. "All I know Trent is that everything happens, the way it happens, for a reason. I havenít stopped writing, I couldnít do that anymore than I could stop breathing. I just donít have a need to share it with the world. I will share it with you, if thatís what you want. I trust you to be a gentle critic."

"Do you share your poetry with Brian?" Trent asked.

"Yes. At first it was really hard, you have to trust someone with your life to share your most private thoughts with him. Even though I love Brian, I still have parts of myself that Iím not ready to share with him, let alone anyone else."

"What did he think?"

"Well, some of it made him cry, some stuff he doesnít get at all. Do I think he appreciates it like you would? No." Daria admitted "But thatís not important to me. He has other qualities, things I didnít even know I needed that more than make up for it."

Trent had tears running down his face. He couldnít comprehend how much courage it took to share her words with someone, that she knew wouldnít understand her. He understood her, he loved her, but it wasnít meant to be. "Daria, somewhere I must have totally fucked up. We could have been together for years, if only I hadnítÖ"

Daria couldnít stand to see Trent in such distress, they were both crying and hugging each other. Daria was able to speak first. "Trent, itís nothing you did, or didnít do. If we were supposed to be together, it would have happened. Has it occurred to you that over the years we have been in completely different places in our lives? There was a time that the only thing that you loved was your music. What would have happened to that if you had channeled that love to me? And if I loved you back, then what? Would your music have been as good? Would you have had the dedication to concentrate on the band? What if we were together, and you were sitting here tonight wondering if you could have been a rich and famous musician if only we hadnít gotten together? Who knows? You canít second-guess your life. I know that youíre sad now, but you have to believe that youíll be happy again. Iím not leaving you, we can still love each other, we just canít be lovers."

Some time went by and Trent wanted to follow up her thought. "Was there ever a time when you wanted us to be lovers?"

"Why am I the one playing true confessions here? You go first." Daria said, in a playful way, trying to take some weight off of the situation.

Trent had to think about it, when did he start to have romantic feelings about Daria? "And I thought I was asking the hard questions. Well, thereís been chemistry between us as long as Iíve known you. When you and Janey first started hanging out together, it wasnít cool because of the age issue."

"Trent, I donít believe for a minute that you gave me a thought when I was in high school."

"But we hung out all the time, and between Janeís not so subtle hints, and your awkwardness, it wasnít hard to figure out that you had a thing for me."

Daria blushed with the memory of it. "Okay, so weíve figured out when I wanted to be with you, we still havenít covered when it was that you wanted to be with me."

Trent was concentrating. "When you and Jane left to go to school I missed you both so much. I wrote a bunch of depressing songs about it. I guess I started thinking about it then."

"Why didnít you say anything? Was that when you started calling me about lyrics? To be honest, I was kind of expecting you to make a move, if thatís the direction that we were going to take. Why didnít you?"

"I guess there was always something going on with the band. We played one-nighters, every night for almost three years. I didnít really have time for a social life; I was so focused on the band. When I did see you, you were with someone, or just getting over someone, it just never seemed like the right time."

"Yeah, I wasnít really in a heavy relationship phase at that time in my life, and I always imagined that weíd have a heavy relationship."

"So, this isnít tragic, itís just seriously bad timing?" Trent still had tears on his face, he was rubbing at them with the sleeve of his coat.

"Oh yeah, really terrible. Until now, you werenít ready. I was ready years ago. But even if we had gotten together, whoís to say weíd still be together? Maybe there is a fundamental problem with us as a couple. Just because we want something, doesnít mean itís good for us."

Trent laughed and coughed a little, his voice was choked with tears. "I feel like the butt of a cosmic joke."

"The mysteries of the space-time continuum as applied to human relationships. Maybe weíre supposed to be together in the next life." Daria hugged him again wishing she could somehow make him feel better.

They were quiet for a long time. The wind rustled in the trees and the lights played across the water in the pool. It was starting to get cold and it was well past midnight. Trent got up and helped Daria to her feet. Daria fished in her pocket for her hanky, she wiped her eyes and reached up to wipe Trentís. They both sighed heavily.

Trent got his keys out to take her to her parentís house. "Well, your Mom is going to think I kidnapped you. I better get you home."

Daria thought for a second. "Iíll call her, I think Iím going up to Brianís room tonight. I need to be with him, Iíve had a big day." She kissed him goodbye, and ruffled his hair up. "You look fifteen years younger. See you tomorrow."

Trent waited until she got into the hotel before he left to head back to his house. All the way home he was thinking about what she said. He wasnít second-guessing his life, but he was definitely wondering where he wanted it to go from here.

Daria went up to Brianís room. She could hear voices, so she knew he was up. She knocked on the door and Ian answered. "Hey, itís Daria! Isnít it bad luck for the groom to see the bride on their wedding day?"

Daria smiled, "No silly, otherwise how else would they get married?"

The guys were just wrapping up their evening. Daria took the opportunity to splash cool water on her face, and call home to let them know she was staying with Brian.

Ian and Sean left. Brian hugged Daria. "Sweetie, youíre freezing, come here let me warm you up."

"Iím already warmer than you know."

Chapter Nine

He Ainít Heavy, Heís My Brother

When Trent got home, Jane was in the living room watching television. He looked like Hell. Jane turned off the TV and sat up on the sofa to give him room to sit down.

"Hey Trent, whatís the matter?"

"Had a talk with Daria." He answered, not trusting himself to give a long explanation.

"Wow, sounds serious. It didnít go well I take it?"

"Depends on how you look at it. Sheís really got her head on straight, Iím a fucking mess, but no news there."

"Sounds like some talk, what was the subject?" Jane had her suspicions, but she was curious to know what was said.

"You know."

"Yeah. Well it took you long enough, what were you expecting?" Jane was gentle, and didnít say it like a recrimination.

"I didnít really have an expectation. I just thought there was a bunch of stuff that has been unsaid for too long, so I said it." Trentís eyes teared up again, so he tried to master it.

"Thatís rough. I guess she didnít respond like you wanted." Jane put her arm around her brother to comfort him.

"No, thatís just it, I knew that it was too late." Trent sighed.

"Well, at any rate you said it, do you feel better about it?"

"At least Iím not walking around thinking that if only I had said something, it could have been different." What Daria had said bothered Trent, and he wanted to know what Jane thought about it. "Janey, do you think that Daria and I would have been good together?"

Jane chose her words carefully. "Well, I always thought you guys should have given it a chance, but neither of you would cooperate with me. At first I thought that you were just oblivious, but as time went on, I figured out that it was Daria. I know she cares about you, Iíd bet that she even loves you, but I think she was afraid of having a relationship with you."

"Afraid? Why would you think that?" Trent was surprised, it didnít correspond at all with what Daria said.

"Well, not afraid of getting hurt, or of rejection or anything like that. Sheís pretty complex, but simple in other ways, especially in relationships. She has expectations and I think that she knew that you wouldnít have been what she expected. Sometimes itís easier to live with the image of something than the actuality of it. I think that the relationship she had in her mind was better than anything that could have happened in real life. If you want some perspective, I think that the relationship you have with Daria in your mind is better than it would have been in real life too." Jane gave him a squeeze.

"I wish I could believe that." He felt a loss, worse than the hurt of a break up or the grief of a death. "I feel like I totally screwed up. Totally."

"Yeah, I hear you." Jane didnít know what to say, she felt the same way.

 

Chapter Nine

The Big Day

 

Daria and Brian slept soundly in each otherís arms, waking after a restful nightís sleep. They ordered breakfast and sat in bed with their toast and coffee.

"Do you realize that this is our wedding day? I feel like I have to remember every little detail. What kind of jam did you just put on your toast? Daria asked.

"Boysenberry, I also have cream, not milk, in my coffee. Write that down." Brian responded, spearing a strawberry and offering it to Daria on the end of his fork. She bit into it slowly. "Very Tess of the DíUrbervilles, come here, kiss me."

They kissed, feeling very silly and giddy. The phone rang and Daria answered it. It was Jane.

"Hey, Iím here with these Irish guys, they said that you were up there. How do you feel, are you nervous?"

"Iím great, Brianís great, weíre just finishing breakfast, I think weíre just going to lounge around here and see what the day brings." Daria responded, pouring the champagne she found in the mini-bar into her orange juice.

"As if. By the way I have to warn you that your Mom and Quinn are on their way up, with all your gear. I also believe that you have a full day of restful and relaxing spa services on your agenda." Daria could hear the guys in the background calling to Jane to eat her waffles. "Iíve got to take care of something here."

"Okay, thanks for the heads up. By the way, howís Trent?" Daria was sharing the mimosa with Brian.

"He was asleep when I left the house this morning. Why? Did he say something last night?" Janeís interest was suddenly not on her breakfast.

"Nothing much, it was just late and I wanted to make sure he got home alright. Iíll see you later."

Daria and Brian were sitting in bed, talking about the rehearsal, they were making a good natured bet about which of them was going to blow their lines when there was a pounding at the door.

"Daria, Brian, weíre here!" Helen sang out.

"Weíll be there in a minute, weíre having sex." Brian responded.

"Oh you are NOT! Now come on we have a million things to do."

"Weíre naked." Daria called through the door.

"Daria, quit fooling around, get your ass out of bed and open this door."

"Well, since you put it like that." Daria and Brian were both wearing their complimentary robes.

Helen and Quinn were standing at the door with one of the bellboyís carts, loaded with all of their wedding paraphernalia.

"Weíve got to get going, we have a full day of appointments to get you looking beautifulÖ" Helen stopped, because Daria was beautiful. She was blooming and happy and pretty. "Oh my God, Daria, you look radiant!"

Brian piped up, with the remote in his hand trying to find cartoons to watch on TV, "Well, of course she is, sheís a bride."

Quinn peeked around the overloaded cart to look at Daria. "Daria, you look great! I canít wait to get you all dressed up! You are going to be the most beautiful bride ever!"

Daria, instead of being embarrassed with the attention, was enjoying it. "Thanks guys, I can now glide through the halls of this fine establishment, in my bathrobe, confidant in my appearance. Call the papers and prepare my milk bath!"

The women left to organize their day while Brian went back to bed to watch Scooby-doo.

The time seemed to fly for Daria that day. She was wrapped in seaweed, rubbed with salt, massaged with scented oil and in general pampered. Helen, Quinn, Jodie and Jane were also enjoying their various spa treatments. They were all together getting manicures and pedicures, and they were indulging in girl talk, giggling and laughing.

Quinn was telling the manicurist what color each woman was to have. "The bride, my sister, should have a French Manicure, and I think a light gold color on her toes. Iíll have that nude color on both my finger and toe nails. My mother will look good with this mauve. Jodie, I think that you should have that pretty copper color. Iíll let Jane decide for herself, since I can trust her to pick the right color."

"Iím growing claws, Jungle Red." Jane joked, quoting an old movie. In the end she decided just to have her nails buffed, she wasnít really a nail polish kind of girl.

They had ordered lunch in. Jane and Daria shared cheese fries while Quinn, Helen and Jodie ate goat cheese salads.

When all the polish was dry, it was about 2:00 in the afternoon. They went back to the suite, after making sure the hairdressers and make up artists were confirmed to come up at 5:00.

In the suite, Quinn double checked everything and left to go to her room for a nap. Jane and Jodie decided to look up the groomsmen in the bar. Helen sat with Daria for a moment, pausing to consider the step her daughter was about to take.

"Sweetie, are you nervous about anything?" Helen asked, giving Daria an opening.

"I scared to death of my wedding night." Daria joked.

"Daria, please, you know what I mean."

"Okay, truth?" Helen nodded while Daria continued. "Iíve never been so sure about anything in my life. Youíve known Brian almost as long as I have, you know what kind of man he is. I know that no matter what life gives us, good or bad, that heís my partner. Heís going to be there for me and Iím going to be there for him."

"I know that you both are mature adults, and that youíve considered everything carefully, but marriage is a huge undertaking, it doesnít always go smoothly. Your Father, God love him, drives me out of my mind sometimes, but heís one of the best men I know. I just hope you are as happy as we are."

"Well, if we arenít it wonít be because we didnít work at it."

They hugged as Helen left to go to her room. Daria drew herself a bath in the large garden tub and soaked until she felt sleepy enough for a nap.

Daria woke up just as everyone was arriving to get ready. They had all decided to dress together, it was Quinnís idea, a throw back to her Fashion Club days, when the selection of outfits, make-up and hair styles comprised the best part of a big night on the town.

Jane and Jodie arrived with a magnum of champagne and they were all drinking liberally as the hairdressers began styling their hair.

Dariaís thick hair was set on dozens of small and large hot rollers, some piggybacked on each other. They generated so much heat that she had to have ice applied to her neck to keep her from passing out.

Jodie told the story about how Brian and Daria met. "So there we are coming up behind her and sheís having this weird conversation with this guy about her resume. I guess that when Brian laid his eyes on her, he was gone, they were inseparable from that point on."

"Yes Jodie, it was my dazzling beauty that captured Brianís heart." Daria joked back with her. "Iím sure that I wasnít the only name on his dance card. I think that when we first met, he was still seeing that other girl, what was her name? You know. The chiropractor. Elaine."

"Yeah Daria, he dumped her that night when he got home. Once he met you, that was it. Girls all over San Francisco cried as the last attractive, straight man was snatched up." Jodie drank the last of her champagne and waived her glass to be refilled. Quinn did the honors. "To this day I donít think heís had another spinal adjustment."

"Just as well, I like my men maladjusted."

Quinn was talking with the hairdressers, "You know, I always see these girls who get their make up done hours before the ceremony and they have to run around doing their errands, with an elaborate hair-do, full make-up and a freaking veil. ĎOh, I just need to pop into Wal-Mart for cotton balls.í Whatís up with that? Surely someone else could go get whatever it is that these girls are forgetting. Remember that, never be the girl with the veil." Everyone laughed, thinking about the poor disorganized bride.

It was fun. Quinn supervised the make-up application for everyone. Daria wanted her make-up done last. Quinn was very helpful. "Donít pile it on, first of all, she has great skin, so leave the trowel in the box, secondly, sheíll freak if itís too intense, and trust me, you donít want to go there!"

Finally the faces were painted and the hair was arranged. All that remained was getting into the clothes. The champagne was long gone and the women were laughing. Quinn was the first one dressed, predictably she looked great in the bridesmaidís dress. The basic design was simple; it was short, slightly above the knee, with long, straight sleeves. The cut of the dress depended upon the wearer. Jodieís accentuated her bust with a sweetheart neckline. Janeís was sophisticated with a jewel neckline; it flattered her slender build, and accentuated her long legs. Quinn was able to show off her delicate collarbones in a square neck. The fabric was crushed velvet that moved and flowed with the wearer. The deep russet color complimented each woman. The brilliance of the dresses that Quinn had selected for the bridal party was that each personís best features were accentuated. The dresses were comfortable, not just in fit, but in design. Each woman knew that she was the hottest number in the room, with the exception of the bride of course.

Helen had decided on an elegant brocade dress suit, she looked so beautiful that throughout the night people would talk about how scandalously young she must have been when she gave birth to Daria.

Daria was the last to dress. Having seen herself in the dress, she knew that she was about to make an entrance. The women were chattering and admiring each other as Daria stepped out of the dressing room. There was an audible gasp and a moment of silence.

"Daria, you look gorgeous!" Quinn exclaimed

Jane felt the need to elaborate. "No really, you look amazing. And itís not the dress."

"You guys, of course itís the dress, but I love what Iím hearing." Daria was flushed with excitement. "We have pictures in just a few minutes, I hope the girls get here soon so we can go."

Just then there was a knock at the door and Laura showed up with Brianís sisters, Courtney, Chelsea and Kirsten. Courtney had a modest version of the bridesmaidís dress, but she wore it with flat shoes. Chelsea and Kirstenís dresses were of the same fabric, but were more appropriate for children. They were adorable in their dresses, with their blond hair up with elaborate hair ribbons.

"Oh my gosh! Daria, you are the most beautiful lady in the world, even prettier than Barbie!" Kirsten, the youngest exclaimed. "Isnít Brian going to be happy? Mama, look at Daria."

Courtney, as usual, for a fifteen year-old, was embarrassed for her little sister. "Kirsten, Daria looks pretty all the time."

Kirsten wouldnít let it go. "I know that, but sheís the BRIDE." The little girlís emphasis on the word made everyone laugh.

Laura had tears in her eyes. "Honey you look lovely." She hugged and kissed her daughter-in-law.

Daria was serene. She looked beautiful, her attendants did her credit and she was on her way to marry the man of her dreams.

Brian and Daria had arranged to have a private moment together, before the formal photographs were taken. The ballroom had been set up for the wedding, so everyone went in there, and the photographer started with the other group shots. Daria and Brian stood outside the door and admired each other. Brianís tux was not the usual rental, but an elegant and trendy suit that was worthy of a movie star. They couldnít take their eyes off of each other. Brian had always thought that Daria was pretty, once he began to be in love with her, he never really thought about her appearance, but in her wedding dress, she was stunning. It was fitted to her figure, the color and fabric were unusual for a wedding dress, but it made her skin glow. It was a renaissance style gown, with an empire waist and sleeves that puffed at her upper arms, but tapered down tightly to her wrists, and then draped over her fingers. The penne velvet allowed the dress to move fluidly, and instead of being white, it was a pale gold color, which reflected well off of her ivory skin and was a perfect background for her Titian hair. Her hair was in a curly cascade down her back, the veil was a very sheer fabric and it was interwoven with flowers. She was a vision. Brian had a feeling of déjà vu, a faint glimmer of recognition, like he had dreamed of her this way. They admired each other until Jake had to be dispatched to come get them.

"Come on you two, canít start without you." Jake held out his arm for Daria. "Kiddo, you look so happy." He started to tear up, but he held it together.

The photographer was very good, he made the most of the hour before the ceremony. They got all the shots they needed for the album, so they would all be able to go directly to the reception.

Everyone moved into the anteroom as the guest began to arrive. The ushers seated everyone and the wedding started only fifteen minutes late. To everyoneís surprise, Trent was on time, dressed appropriately and ready to do his job.

At last the ceremony was ready to begin. The bridesmaids and groomsmen proceeded down the aisle. It was time for her grand entrance. Daria and Jake were waiting outside the door. They were both trying not to cry. "Well Daria, baby, itís time. Just remember, I canít really give you away, all I can do is introduce you to your husband."

"Dad, you know I love you, but if you say anything else, Iím going to ruin my mascara, and I havenít got a clue how to fix it, so letís just do this." She smiled lovingly at him and they entered the ballroom.

The traditional music began to play and everyone stood to see the bride. Daria caused a sensation. There wasnít an anniversary that followed that Daria didnít call Quinn to thank her for making her the most beautiful woman in the world for her wedding day.

Jake handed Daria to Brian, and took his seat next to Helen, who was weeping very prettily into a lace handkerchief. The judge read the service and Brian and Daria both lost their bets because neither of them goofed up during the ceremony.

Chapter 11

The End, Or the Beginning?

Daria was sitting in the living room on the sofa, in her red silk dragon robe that she got in Chinatown. It wasnít even six oíclock yet and it was already dark outside. Daria shivered and debated whether to turn up the heat. Considering her outfit, she boosted the heat. She looked out of the bay window, to see if she could see Brian driving up the street. His present was sitting on the coffee table, and dinner was about to be delivered by Feng Yen. Finally, she saw his car pulling into the driveway. She smiled to herself and waited for him to come through the door.

Brian was carrying his computer bag with him as he came in through the front door. Daria was drawing the curtains.

"Hey, Iím glad youíre home!" Daria said as they kissed hello. Brian gave her a pat on the ass and went to change out of his suit. "I got Chinese for dinner, hope thatís okay." Daria shouted down the hall to their bedroom.

Brian emerged a couple minutes later, wearing his sweats and a beat up Stanford T-shirt. "Did you get pot stickers?"

"Yes, and they had long beans. Considering the occasion, we will be dining on lobster tonight." Daria informed him. She set the coffee table with the blue and white oriental print plates that she bought at Cost Plus when she got her first apartment.

"Honey, we could use the china, after all it is a special occasion." Brian observed.

"Oh, but I like to eat Chinese food off of my Chinese dinnerware." Daria asserted. "Besides, I can put these in the dishwasher."

The doorbell rang and Brian paid the delivery guy for their dinner. They busied themselves with filling their plates. Daria had just finished brewing a pot of jasmine tea, which she poured into their cups. "Hon, weíve got beer if you want."

"No thanks, this tea is fine." Brian pulled a small box out from his computer case and set it on the table next to the present that she had for him.

"Okay, now we agreed, we watch the video while we eat and presents afterward, right?" Daria kissed his cheek and simultaneously reached for a dumpling.

Daria hit play on the VCR and their wedding video started. It had arrived the previous day, but they wanted to make an occasion out of watching it.

The tape started out, with a Sick Sad World intro. "Was it true love or uranium in the water? The blushing bride and the glowing groom, next on Sick Sad World!" The music started, it was some acoustical stuff that Trent had composed. Then there were the typical photographs of Daria and Brian through the years. Baby pictures, school photos, family album stuff. Then there was a videotaped portion. An animated bit that Daria and Jane had done for a multi-media project at Lawndale High. Some early Mystik Spiral gigs where the camera was on Daria, looking lovelorn at Trent. Brian laughed and Daria swore revenge on Jane. Brian as Curly in his high school production of Oklahoma! Daria laughed and Brian swore revenge on his mother. Then the wedding started. The bridesmaids and the groomsmen. Kirsten and Trent, the both of them looking adorable. Jane giving the videographer a wink. Daria and her father walking down the aisle. Brian and Daria pledging their love, for all time. Their first married kiss, which was a compromise between Brianís dramatic dip and Dariaís simpler version. Then there were the little snippets from the wedding guests. These were taken later in the evening, after quite a lot of champagne had flowed.

Jane: "Hey Daria and Brian, congratulations and best wishes. First comes love, then comes marriage, and then comes the baby in the baby carriage. You guys are starting on that right away, right? Cheers!" Ian came up and took her out on the dance floor.

Quinn: "Hi Brian and Daria, you were the cutest couple ever! Daria, keep waxing your eyebrows."

"Thatís what she wanted to say to commemorate our wedding day?" Daria shook her head.

Brian took off Dariaís glasses, "Hey the brows do look nice."

"When sheís right, sheís right."

Sean: "Brian, dude, you did okay with Daria, sheís awesome. Thanks for not narcing me out with Mom about the bachelor party."

Laura and Mike: (Laura does all the talking.) "Daria and Brian, we wish you a happy marriage filled with love and children. We love you both so much."

Brian looked at Daria, "Subtle."

"But sweet." Daria kissed him; he tasted salty from the dumplings. "Yum. Get me another one of those."

Jake: "Daria honey, you found a guy whoís worthy of you. Nothing but the best for you kiddo." It was at this point that he got choked up. "Take care of her Brian, sheís special."

Brian toasted Jake with his teacup, "Donít I know it Jake."

Helen: "Brian, I know that I can trust you to be a good husband to Daria, God knows she took long enough to make it official. Now if we could just find someone for Quinn."

"Not that she has an agenda." Daria laughed. "Poor Quinn."

Dylan and Patrick: "Hey Buddy! Woo-hoo! Youíre married now, the old ball and chain. Weíre still footloose and fancy free." They then each chugged a mug of beer.

Daria looked at Brian. "These are your best friends?"

"Well, they were the best friends I could get at the time."

Jodie: "I just want to say that it was my privilege to bring you two together. I wish you much happiness in the years to come."

"Trust Jodie to keep it clean." Brian cracked.

"Well, they could be selling this on the Internet for all we know." Daria said.

"Yeah this and our honeymoon tape, buy one, get one free." Brian was laughing as Daria hit him with a pillow.

Dino: "Brian, youíre a real stand up guy, but Iím going to be straight with you. Daria is a special friend of mine and if you donít make her the happiest woman in the world, Iíll break your legs. Nothing personal."

Brian sat up. "Shit, is he serious? Daria, what is the deal with you and this guy?"

"Donít be so paranoid, I took a thorn out of his paw, weíve been friends ever since."

Mystic Spiral: (Singing) Going to the chapel and weíre gonna get marriedÖ

Aunt Amy: "Daria and Brian, I wish you the road less traveled, take some chances, donít grow old together, age together. I love you guys."

Brian nodded his approval. "Sheís pretty sharp, I like her."

"Me too, sheís the only reason that I never suspected that I was adopted."

There was the standard footage of Daria and Brianís first dance together (to Brown Eyed Girl by Van Morrison.) Daria and Jake dancing together. Cutting the cake. Throwing the bouquet. Daria was standing on a chair as the single women gathered around to catch it. Jane and Quinn were hanging back; they werenít even going to try. Suddenly, as the flowers were airborne, Helen came up behind Quinn and gave her a shove. It put her directly in the path of the bouquet, which she subsequently caught. Helen walked away as if she were the most innocent person in the world.

"How on Earth did I miss that? That is the funniest thing Iíve ever seen in my life!" Daria was helpless with laughter.

After another ten minutes of dancing, drinking and eating, it appeared that the end of the video had arrived. Brian and Daria kissed. There was some static and then there was something else. It looked like this was added on afterwards. It was Trent with his acoustic, singing. "You saw me crying in the chapelÖ"

Daria looked for the remote to turn it off, but Brian stopped her. "Honey, donít, itís beautiful."

"I think youíre missing the point, please turn it off." Brian clicked the remote and the local news came on.

Daria got up to clear the dishes. Brian followed her into the kitchen with the leftovers. They were quiet as they cleaned up. Daria put on some coffee and took a miniature wedding cake into the living room.

Brian and Daria sat on the sofa. Brian held her in his arms and stroked her hair. "So what was that all about?"

Daria sighed. "I donít know."

"I think you do." Brian said softly

"Itís between Trent and me." Daria said into Brianís chest.

"So I was right? Poor guy." Brian thought about his friend Trent and he ached for him.

"You were right. Thereís something else. Iíve been saving it, but I guess now is as good a time as any." Daria got up and went into the den and came back with a notebook. She opened it and showed Brian. It was full of lyrics for songs she was writing with Trent. Brian gently took it and started to read. Daria went into the kitchen for the coffee. She stayed in there for a while, just thinking. When she came back out, Brian was still reading, he was absorbed in it. "So, what do you think?"

He was overwhelmed. As much as he thought he knew her, she always had one more layer for him to discover. "Daria, this is amazing. When are the guys going to record it?"

"Not until they get back from the tour. Trent asked me to be in the studio when they did it. I donít know if I want to. Itís too personal, how can I sit there and watch them sing my life, and Trentís life too for that matter?"

"Youíre not chicken are you?" Brian asked. As long as he had known her he had thought of her as fearless, but now he could see that when it came to this, she was scared.

"Why wouldnít I be?" She looked at him in a way that went right through him.

"Because itís unbelievable. Daria, where is this coming from? Why are you so reluctant to share this with the world?" Brian was mystified. His wife was so gifted and yet she was totally insecure about it.

"It comes so easily, how could it be good? Everything in my life comes easily, how can I value something that just showed up on the page one day?" Daria was in tears, she was close to the bone on this.

"Look, I donít understand the creative process. All I know is that these are beautiful songs, they are going to be immortal. How many people can say that they had a hand in something that is going to last forever?"

Daria wrestled with his words. It was always easier for her to be sarcastic, to deflect both the bad and the good. It was hard for her to accept praise, especially from people she respected and admired. "If you have that much faith in me, then it must be true." She acquiesced

"Well, have a little faith in yourself. You know what I think? I think itís time for you to do this full time." Brian leafed through the notebook. In addition to the songs, there were four months worth of magazine column ideas, and three book treatments.

"You want me to quit my job?" Daria was incredulous.

"No, I want you to do what you love. You should write. Itís just a different job. If you want a safety net, take a sabbatical, youíve been eligible for one for years now." Brian was doing his advocate thing, he was wasted as a corporate attorney, he could have been a brilliant trial lawyer.

"Do you really think I should?" Daria sat down on the sofa, she had just been given permission to do the thing she most wanted to do and she was lightheaded.

"YES! I get to do what I love every day. The minute I start to phone it in, Iím out of there. I want you to feel the same way I feel. You should wake up every morning and know that you can take the whole world on. When was the last time you felt that way about your job?" Brian knelt at her feet and stared up into her face.

"Never." Daria mumbled.

Brian sighed. "Then why are you fighting me on this? If you donít love your work, why do it?"

"I donít know, inertia?" Daria had decided. Brian, Jane and Trent were right. Hell, John Lennon was right, ĎLife is what happens when youíre making other plans.í What was so great about her job? "You know what, that sounds pathetic. Tomorrow, Iím applying for a sabbatical. Might as well keep the health benefits if we can, right?"

"You are such a practical rebel." Brian laughed and reached over for the cake. "You know, I was too intimidated to smash cake in your face at our wedding, but I think I can summon the nerve in our living room."

Daria backed away from him and stood on the sofa. "Oh yeah, well Iíve got something to show you, and you damn well better be too intimidated now." She shrugged off the robe and stood there in the black teddy that Brittany had given her at her shower.

"Ooh, is that my present?" Brian asked, gawking at his wife.

"Put the cake down like a good boy and Iíll give you your present." Daria waited until he pushed the cake back onto the coffee table. She sat back down and handed him her parcel. He gave her his present as well.

Brian opened the wrapping carefully, and it revealed an autographed first addition of Dashiell Hammettís, The Maltese Falcon. "You give good presents." He said quietly as he turned the book over in his hands, savoring the heft of it. "Iíd love to read it, but I have something else pressing right now, do you mind if I wait until later?"

Daria considered for a minute, smiling. "Iíll overlook it this time, but you better make good use of the time."

"Donít worry, I will. Now open yours."

Daria carefully undid the wrapping on her present. It was a Mont Blanc pen. "Oh Brian, itís beautiful. Iíve always wanted one, how did you know?"

"An artist always has an affinity for her tools. Write good stuff with it."

Daria had never felt so understood. "Count on it, but, right now I have a pressing Ďengagement,í you donít mind if I wait until later do you?"

"Not in the least." Brian said with equanimity "Now come here, Iíve got something else for you."

"Now thatís what I like, a really generous husband." Daria laughed as her husband kissed her.

 

The End (finally)