Clearing The Air
"Why didn't you ever ask me out?"
The question came out of nowhere. "Well...?"
"Um... ah, well... I thought-"
"No. You didn't."
Trent Lane sat on the edge of the couch in the Morgendorffer living room. He couldn't lift his eyes from his worn shoes to look at the auburn-haired woman sitting across from him.
"Well... it all worked out for the best, right?"
"You don't get that pass."
Trent had wondered why Jane had declined the invitation to ride over to Schloss Morgendorffer when Daria had called... and why his wife Lindy had also refused, saying that she needed to finish her laundry day chores, especially since Jane had brought a bundle of clothes with her when she arrived for Thanksgiving vacation from BFAC.
He wondered for a moment if they had all planned this out...
"Look, it doesn't really even matter now, right? You're with Michael, and that's a really nice ring, and I'm with Lindy. We've both moved on."
Daria brushed her hair back, and took a short breath. Silently, she counted to twenty-five before she trusted herself to speak.
"Trent. You're my friend. I care about you, and you're right – we both have moved on." She fixed him solidly in that soul-searing, trademarked glare that a host of young men throughout Lawndale had learned to avoid, and Trent felt himself instinctively drawing back, away from the young woman several inches and a good thirty to forty pounds lighter than him... drawing away as if she could cause physical harm with a glance.
"Does the word 'coward' ring a bell?"
"Hey – wait a minute-"
Trent blinked hard at the precise, clipped and yet bland tone of the woman's voice. "I'm glad that you and Lindy are together and happy. I'll never begrudge you that."
Daria leaned forward. "What pisses me off – and what we're going to talk about now, just this once, so that we can finish it off and never speak of it again – is the way you treated me. "
"What did I do to you?"
"Rather than recall Jules from Pulp Fiction and his question to that geeky kid from Career Opportunities, I'll just say this: Don't do that, Trent."
The way Trent's gaze dove for the shag carpeting confirmed that he understood her meaning. "Yeah."
Silence flowed through the room for a moment. "You did the exact same thing that Tom did, do you know that? The same thing that Michael almost did, too."
"You made choices for me. Whether they would have been good or bad choices, at least they would have been my choices to make. My memories. My experiences. You took that away from me."
"Daria, I think you're making a little too much over my not finishing up a thirty-second piece of music-"
"That you could have done in an afternoon, max. You did that just so I would be angry at you, and then we could have that little talk at Pizza King, remember?"
Trent nodded. "I've thought about that on occasion," Daria continued. "I had a little talk with Quinn one day – the day after you first met Lindy, I believe. I remember mentioning to Quinn that you have a habit of forgetting things."
"I've gotten better."
"I hope so. That's not my concern anymore, though. That's what you did when you didn't come through with that music. You did that to get me mad so I wouldn't want to think about you 'in that way', and make a clean break." She gave him another glare, this one freezing him like a jet of liquid oxygen. "You forgot that the music was for a grade – your sister's as well as mine. She needed that grade. You were thinking about how this would affect you and you alone."
"I was thinking about you-"
"When you kissed me on the cheek, I didn't show it – but I would have given anything for a two-by-four at that moment to smash your head in. If I were a female dragon, I would have roasted you alive."
"You were blowing me off. Don't put any noble aspirations behind it. You were a coward who was too afraid to show me anything even remotely what you've shown any of the girls you've dated – and it would be really easy for me to call them all 'skanks' or 'sluts', because that would free you up, wouldn't it? You didn't want to even give me a decent goodbye kiss because 'you wouldn't want to treat me like all of those other girls. I'm special, and you couldn't see treating me like that. I meant too much to you for that."
Daria took a breath. "Who the hell told you that I wanted you to put me up on a pedestal? No one. You put me there because that way and made it so that I was oh, so much more than a girl who you could date – and that way, you didn't have to try. You didn't have to try to treat me like an actual girl and not 'Daria', or try and be more than you were back then; you didn't have to have someone who looked at you in a way that would have made you feel guilty, because you knew you'd want to better yourself for her. The problem is, you didn't want to better yourself – or, rather, that you didn't want to better yourself for me."
Trent couldn't lift his gaze from the floor. "Even worse – in a way, you nearly cost me and Jane our friendship. "If we'd have had something, anything even if it had been just one little date – a movie, stale popcorn, going Dutch on pizza and you getting chased off by my Dad because he THOUGHT that you might have tried to kiss me goodnight... it would have been something that Jane and I could have shared. That way, the whole Tom thing... I won't say that it wouldn't have happened, but then... who knows? Maybe... maybe not. It also annoys that you knew so much about how Tom, Jane and I felt back then, but you couldn't tell how you turning away from me would make me feel."
Daria stood up. "I remember when Prom came around. There was this green dress I saw online, and..." Her face tightened, and Trent realized that this was the most emotion he'd ever seen in Daria in all of the time he'd known her. I thought that Jane said that she and that Tom guy didn't want to go to their Senior Prom... Oh. He didn't want to go - and she was too proud to ask...
The moment passed. "I don't appreciate it when others make choices for me that can affect my life. I'm not going to allow anyone to do that to me ever again. Do a favor for me, will you, Trent? Think of Lindy, and Jane, and any little girls you may have someday... and don't make all of their choices for them. They'll still love you... but a part of them will always resent you."
They were both quiet for a few moments; Trent took that as his cue to leave. "I don't hold a grudge, Trent... that was just something I had to... I needed to say. After you leave... the next time we see each other... this conversation never happened."
Trent nodded. He started for the door, but turned back. "Daria, I-"
"If you let the words 'I'm sorry' come from your mouth, I'll take one of my father's golf clubs and beat you until my hands go numb." She shrugged, as Trent's eyes grew wide. "Lingering feelings of anger, resentment, jealousy... and even puppy love. Guess what, Trent Lane?"
Daria fixed him with her trademark 'Mona Lisa' smile. "I am a regular girl, after all."
Trent looked at Daria for a long moment, and then walked towards her with a deliberation that Daria had never seen before from him. "Yeah. You want to be a regular woman. Okay. Let's do that."
He stopped directly in front of her. "Whatever else I've done, you don't have the right to talk down to me like that. Respect goes both ways – and even if I've done you wrong, you don't get to say things like that."
He locked eyes with her; to Daria's credit, she didn't flinch from the look of slight anger and disappointment he seared her to the floor with. "Something else. You're right – those were your choices and decisions... but you know that a lot of us don't make the right decisions, and it scars us and everyone else. You KNOW what would have happened if we'd have started something. Go on. Say it. What would have happened?"
"I don't know."
"Yes, you do.
Daria had no idea how Trent had moved so suddenly, or how everything inside her suddenly felt as though it would melt away, but her lips were pressed gently against Trent's; softly at first, then harder, more insistent, more demanding, hungrier...
She would not – could not – let go.
Trent managed to pull away, flushed and anxious, his arousal more than evident as he tried to compose himself, while Daria eased herself down upon the couch, and began to button back her opened blouse. "That's why."
This is dedicated to Voice of My, a 'Daria' writer who passed away. I read one of her shipper works where, in the forward, she says that she doesn't like D/T shipper fics, so she decided to write one. Consider this 'the last D/T shipper.'
As you can also tell, this takes place in the Falling Into College universe. I just thought that it would be a good place for Daria, even though both she and Trent have moved on and are happy, to finally clear the air on that one little issue. I always felt that Trent got away with murder (so to speak) through the episodes Lane Miserables and Jane's Addition (and that he had a lot on nerve for stepping up to talk to Daria in Fire!). If Darren Appleton or Darius Morgendorffer were around, they'd kick his ass for the way Trent played with her head and then blew her off... he knew that she had a thing for him.
That's the end of that.
30 June 2007