Dega’s Irregulars # 1: Prelude to a Dream

By Neal C.



AUTHOR’S NOTE: This takes place during the summer between Daria’s Senior Year and her Freshman Year in college.  The Dega Street Irregular is Michelle Klein-Haas’ idea (I’m pretty sure it is anyway) and so Is Glen, the editor.  Oh yeah, Um while the Tom thing doesn’t really bother me. It ain’t my cup of tea so This is a non Tom universe.

This is my first fanfic, I will continue this series if the response is good enough.  Please tell me if you like this and critique away.  If you do please tell me at

If not, then Bite Me.

NOTICE: Daria and all characters of the Daria cast belong to Mtv Please Don’t sue me! Run Away! Run Away!

Lyrics from the Pianoman belong to Billy Joel so again Please Don’t Sue Me.  I mean no harm.




Sam stirred in his sleep.  He was in that sluggish area between waking and sleeping.  Another late night, another feel-bad morning… another day in the life of Sam Baine.  He was slightly more awake now, and was listening to the noise of the office: co-workers chatting, keyboards clicking, the office coffee maker.  Then he heard his office door   creak open.

      Glen led Daria into the office.  It appeared to be empty, but Daria heard breathing.  She stepped further into the office and was assaulted by stale cigar smoke and the pungent aroma of whiskey.

      “This is Sam’s office,” Glen stated,” I’m sorry, but he’s the one you’ll be working with.  Your mother called on really short notice.”

      Great, thought Daria.  Not only do I have to spend my summer actually doing something, I have to work for someone whose liver probably looks a lot like my cheese model.  “I’m sure I can deal with it.  If only so I don’t have to work at my English teacher’s summer camp.”  Yeah I’ll just lay on the sarcasm so thick this guy will throw me out then mom won’t want me to work with O’Neil.

      Glen Smirked,” Well we can’t have that.”  He looked around the office.  Where was Sam?  Probably passed out in an alley somewhere.  Then he noticed the shoe and lower calf sticking out from under the desk.  He tapped Daria on the shoulder and pointed, then put up his hand in a gesture for silence.  He tiptoed over to the desk and picked up Sam’s caseload, and with a flourish, slammed it down on top of the desk.  A second later a loud thump came from the underside of the desktop.

      “DAMMIT,” Sam crawled out from under his desk and stood up, he looked very, very pissed.  “What the hell was that for?!”

      “It’s eleven thirty, Sam.  Shouldn’t you be working?”  Glen smirked, then turned to Daria,” He’s usually grumpy in the morning, but he’ll work it out.” Turning back to Sam, “ Sam, I’d like you to meet your new intern, Ms. Daria Morgendorffer.”

      Great, thought Sam.  Now I have to spend my summer actually doing something.  Babysitting a teenager, hell I don’t even like kids.  Hmm, maybe if I lay on the sarcasm I can run her out.  “Morning.  I hope you’re ready to work ‘cause I sure do a lot.” He smirked pointing to the drift of papers on his desk.

      It didn’t faze Daria.  She looked at him gauging his habits.  He was in his late forties, early fifties.  He was unkempt, his clothes were rumpled and wrinkled, his hair uncombed and he hadn’t shaved in a couple days.  He was still trying to figure her out and was looking at her impassively

      Finally Sam spoke again,” Great I get to baby-sit a teenager all summer.”  He frowned, thinking.  Well the sarcasm’s not working so I guess I’ll test her.  “ Why do you want to work at the Irregular?”

      “Because I want to spend my summer in the company of interesting and intelligent writers… I’ll tell you when I find some.”  All right the game is on. I can play with you newspaper man bring it on.

      Sam raised an eyebrow, maybe this wouldn’t be so bad.  But he had to be sure.  “ Are you a writer, Daria?”

      “ If by a writer you mean can I sketch down my cognitive thoughts processes on the corpses of dead trees, then I guess I am.” Daria smirked. That’ll get him.

      Sam was unruffled, “ Are you adverse to drinking, smoking or other stupidities that I may perform while you work for me?”  If this doesn’t throw her off then she’s a keeper.

      “Not as long as you provide me with good blackmail opportunities,” If that doesn’t throw him off then I guess I’m stuck.

      Sam smirked, “ She’ll do.” He walked around the desk and offered Daria his hand.  He was surprised when she shook it, he didn’t expect her to, he wouldn’t have.  He had beaten her in a battle of wits, something he was sure didn’t happen to her very often.  He wanted to make it up.

      “Great!” Glen wiped his brow in relief, this had gone easier that he had expected it to.  “I’ll just leave you two to get better acquainted.” With that he turned and left the office, closing the door behind him.

      Daria just looked at Sam, making him uncomfortable.  She was very intelligent and also very introverted.  She didn’t like a lot of people and found it hard to trust them.  He could tell by the way she dressed, talked and acted.  He was a good judge of character and she seemed very strong-willed, and under that sarcastic shield she had a good heart.  She reminded him of himself, almost thirty years past.

         “Well,” Sam finally took it on himself to break the silence,” I guess Glen gave you the tour.  Welcome to my humble abode, you can clear off the other desk over there and take it as your own.  Before we get to work, do you have any questions?”

      Daria looked around at all the papers and books,” Umm, yeah.  What am I supposed to be doing exactly?”  She wasn’t happy that she had lost the contest.  The worst part was that they were both aware of it.  He was probably gloating to himself and resenting her so she would have to do menial coffee refilling and stupid paper shuffling all summer.  

      Sam saw the conflict arising in Daria and didn’t want her to resent him, she seemed interesting and he would like to get to know her better.  “Well, I don’t believe in having the interns do crap labor.  I can fill my own coffee cup thank you very much.” He smirked,” Interns always screw up my coffee anyway.  I guess I’ll just have you compile my notes and take dictation.” Daria frowned at this mention of grunt work, so Sam quickly continued,” I guess you’ll accompany me on assignment too.  I don’t like traveling on my own, I like to have someone interesting to talk to.  That is if you want to go and if you want to talk.” He smiled this time. Daria looked up and smirked.  She doesn’t smile much, Sam thought.

      Daria sat on the extra desk’s chair and thought about it.  Maybe this wouldn’t be so bad.  Sam reminded her of herself a lot, well except for the wild nightlife.  Although she suspected his wasn’t as wild as much as it was just depressing.  He was a loner, like her, for standing out. Being intelligent and not afraid to speak his mind.  She had read some of his social commentaries and usually agreed.  He seemed to want to be her friend and if not that then a good acquaintance.  Plus if she got to accompany him on assignment then she could get out of Lawndale this summer, with the paper comping her.  Maybe she could bring Jane.

      “And most importantly you can answer the phone and scare off the bill collectors, bookies, census bureau people and random telemarketers that call me.  It’s always fun to scare them.” He smirked and was pleased to see that Daria looked more at ease.  Nope this won’t be so bad after all.

      Daria pivoted to the second desk and started to clean it off.  Sam went over to his desk and started typing on his laptop.  Nope this won’t be so bad after all.



      At four Daria was on her way to Jane’s.  She had had a full day.  It had taken from noon until three to get Sam’s office into some semblance of order.  They had cleaned off the desks and put the books back on the shelves.  Daria had shoved the papers into the filing cabinets. She would organize them later.

      The first big surprise had been the clothes in her desk’s drawers.  Sam actually lived in his office.  Glen let him do it as part of his pay.  Sam had “borrowed” a key to the bathroom the tenants on the second floor shared.  He joked it away by saying that at least it was a short commute.

      Daria liked him.  He reminded her of Aunt Amy.  He was eccentric, spoke his own mind and didn’t let others boss him around.  But, he was also a little crass and rough around the edges.  He was a definite proponent of Gonzo Journalism.  He smoked big Churchill cigars and drank Wild Turkey.  The building didn’t have a no-smoking ordinance.  At least he was considerate enough to open the windows.

      When Daria got to Jane’s house she was surprised to see Trent awake and sitting on the front step.  He was strumming his acoustic guitar and singing softly.  Daria flushed slightly at the singing.  He didn’t notice her until she was standing right in front of him and blocking the sunlight.  Looking up he said,” Oh hey Daria.”

      “Hi Trent,”

      “Janey needed to buy some turpentine.  She told me to tell you. And not to go to sleep,” he chuckled but it turned into a coughing jag,” so I came out here to wait.  I really didn’t want to fall asleep on you.”

      Daria flushed a deep crimson because of Trent’s stated concern. “Uh… Th…Thanks.” She stammered.

      “No Problem.  Wanna come inside?”


      “Uh.  I guess you can wait in Janey’s room.  Unless you wanna listen to me practice.” Trent lifted his guitar for emphasis.  He hoped she would.  He always seemed to play better when he could gauge her reaction to what he was doing.  Or was it something else…

      Daria thought for a second.  Well she was now an intern for the city’s premier gonzo journalist.  Why not go listen to Trent.  She didn’t have anything to be afraid of, Jane was gone and couldn’t tease her.  It was time for a little spontaneity in her life.  “Sure, I’ll come listen to you Trent.”

      “Cool.” Trent looked at Daria.  He wondered what was up.  She was usually really nervous and self-conscious around him.  She was still nervous, he could tell, but not as badly as usual.  He wondered what had brought this about… then decided it was better not to wonder, and just thank providence.

      Daria followed Trent down the steps into the basement.  He set up his amps and tuned his black Hamer. He played all of Mystik Spiral’s songs, adjusting things by the way she reacted to them.  Then he played some covers.  Daria actually started chuckling when he played L.A. Woman.  This startled him, Daria never laughed.  But then he remembered the ill-fated trip to Alternapalooza, and the roadside talk they had.  They were both chuckling when Jane walked down the stairs.

      Jane looked at the scene in the basement and almost had a heart attack.  Not only was Daria down there with her brother, alone, they were both laughing.  Daria never laughed, even in front of Jane, and they were best friends.  Jane knew that if Trent could make Daria laugh then they were meant for each other.  But Jane couldn’t resist a chance to tease Daria.

      The laughter was tapering off when Jane ran in.  She ran over to Daria and put the back of her hand on Daria’s forehead.  Turning to Trent and sounding very concerned and frightened she said,” Trent!  What did you do to her?!?”

      Trent put his hands up in a whoa gesture.” I didn’t do anything.  We had a private joke. We just remembered it.” He looked at Daria who was looking very mad and very embarrassed. “Right Daria?” He tried to smile. It didn’t work.

      Daria looked directly at Jane,” Well if my humiliation is complete, I’ll head home.”  As she walked past Trent she whispered,” Sorry. I had fun.”  Trent smiled at her.  And stared as she walked up the stairs.      

      Trent turned and glared at Jane.  “What was that for, Jane?”  He wasn’t happy.  He had actually been having a good time.  The band was in a rough patch and he hadn’t had fun just playing the guitar for someone in a long time.  And it made him feel good to see Daria happy.  She didn’t get to be happy very often.

      “I was just kidding, I…” Jane trailed off under the force of Trent’s stare,” I… I’m sorry, jeez!”

      “I’m not the one you need to apologize to Jane.” Trent went back to playing his guitar, this time playing a forlorn blues riff.  It was obvious that he didn’t want to talk anymore.  He only called her “Jane” when he was upset with her.  Jane looked at him for a minute trying to think of something to say to defend herself and, failing that, turned and walked upstairs to call Daria.


      Jane Tried three times and got a busy signal each time.  Damn it Quinn this is important.  Finally on the fourth try Quinn answered the phone. 

      “Hello. Joey?  Jeffy?  Jericho?” Quinn answered

      Ugh. Not the time for bubblyness Quinn.  “Is Daria there?” Jane asked curtly

      “Ugh… Who is this?  And why would you want to talk to Daria?”

      “It’s Jane, Quinn.  Put Daria on the phone now.”

      “Oh…  DARIA!” Quinn paused. “DARIA, PHONE!”

      Jane heard Quinn now pounding on a door.

      “Daria!  Your art friend is on the phone.  Hurry up and talk, she’s tying up my line.”

      Jane heard a muffled voice.

      “Fine be that way… She says she isn’t accepting calls.  Like she gets that many.  I mean…”

      Jane set the phone in its cradle.  Well, that’s a bust… I’ll have to apologize tomorrow.  Good going Lane.


Daria woke up at eight, with the incessant buzzing of the alarm.  After cleaning up and getting dressed she walked downstairs.  She made herself breakfast, cereal and toast, then read the messages her parents and sister had left.  Helen would be late, again, Big Case, Very Important, don’t wait up.  Jake was going for a round of golf after work, new client. Quinn would be at the Cashman’s Summer Expo, Please don’t come to the mall today Daria.

      After tidying up the kitchen, Daria left the house and began to walk towards Dega Street. Sam had told her not to bother showing up until eleven.  But she didn’t sleep in too late if she could help it.  And with last night’s blow up with Jane, Daria didn’t have anything else to do.  So here she was, going to work early.

      Daria turned off towards Dega two blocks before she needed to.  She didn’t want to risk seeing Jane.  Jane was her best friend, her only friend.  But she kept pressing the… Trent issue. 

Daria liked Trent, a lot.  But he was five years older.  He was a slacker musician, with a pretty crappy band.  Where would they be in five years… Lawndale, that’s where.  Could she handle that?  It couldn’t work… Or could it?

Daria had covered a lot of ground while lost in her thoughts.  She was standing outside the old brownstone that housed The Dega Street Irregular.  She checked her watch, it was nine o’clock.  Glen didn’t show up until nine thirty.  She would have to wait.


Trent woke up to the sound of faint laughter.  He sat up on his elbows, but nobody was there.  Where had it come from?  Trent knew that laugh, he had heard it somewhere before.  It was beautiful, like music to him.  Then he had it. It was Daria.

He smiled forlornly.  He really liked Daria.  She was a good friend to Janey… and to him.  He was glad she had had fun last night.  He knew it had taken a lot of courage for her to go and listen to him play, by herself.  He wasn’t as oblivious as he let people think, he knew Daria had a crush on him.  But was there more? Could there be?

Stop it, Trent thought.  This is Daria you’re thinking of.  She’s way to good for you, stickboy.  She’s five years younger and still has more potential than you ever will.  You’d never be able to amount to her.  She couldn’t accept you, she’s so much better.  No… but she’s still my friend.  And besides, a guy can hope, right?


Sam woke up with a headache.  He sat up, this time he had fallen asleep in his chair.  Looking around he saw Daria organizing his filing cabinets.  He looked at his watch, 10:23.  What was she doing here?  He pulled a bottle of aspirin from his jacket pocket and downed a few tablets dry.

“Morning Daria,” Sam said,” What are you doing here so early?”

“I don’t like to sleep in.” Daria stated.

“Well, don’t you have any friends? A boyfriend perhaps?” Sam wiggled his eyebrows.  Daria rolled her eyes.  I knew she was antisocial.  But no friends?  That can’t be.

“Yes, I do.  But were on the outs right now.” Daria mentally steeled herself.  She didn’t want to share any more information with Sam.

“Yes? To which, friend or boyfriend?”

“Friend.  Her name is Jane.” Damn, giving out to much info.

Sam sensed that she didn’t really want to talk about it.  So he let the issue drop.  He showed her his caseload.  It was your typical week.  Some embezzlement issues at Lawndale High, the ethics of the plastic surgeons at RxPlex, New bands at The Zon.  Not much news really.

Sam took Daria to a late lunch at Cluster Burger.  Then she accompanied him to the Zon, where Sam interviewed the owner.  He needed opinions from people the new building codes would affect.

Daria sat down at a corner table to wait for Sam.  She looked around.  She didn’t like the place.  It was a wretched hive of scum and villainy.  But Trent played there.  She wondered when the next Mystik Spiral gig was.

Trent parked his Plymouth a little ways up the street from The Zon.  He was going in to confirm the gig for Friday.  He opened the door and stepped inside.  Looking around for the owner, he spotted Daria at her corner table.  Wondering why she was there, Trent decided to talk to the owner later and instead walked towards Daria.

“Hey Daria.” Trent said as he quickly sat down across from her.

Daria jumped a little and started to flush.  “EEP!” She looked at Trent and started to calm down. “Hi Trent.  You scared me.”

“Sorry, didn’t mean to do that.” Trent smiled. “ I was going to confirm our Friday gig.  Why are you here?”  Daria never went to The Zon unless Jane dragged her there.  Was Daria finally loosening up a little?  Trent hoped so, she needed to relax.

“I’m an intern at The Dega Street Irregular, I’m here with my boss.” She pointed at Sam.

“Cool, I’ve seen him around.” Nope.  Same old Daria, here on assignment.  All work and no play.  That was cool though. At least she was out at The Zon doing something.  She could be stuck in the house with nothing to do.  Then inspiration hit Trent like a shovel. “Hey Daria, you want to come to the gig tomorrow?”

“I don’t know… Maybe.” She didn’t like being in crowded places.  Especially The Zon, Too many people too close together.

“C’mon Daria, I’d like for you to come.  Besides it gets you away from your family.”  Trent shot her ‘The Look’ and she started to melt.

“Oh… Okay.”  It’s not like I have better plans.

“Cool.  First set’s at seven, tomorrow night.  Uh… If you want I can pick you up, it’s a long walk.”  Janey can ride with the band.  I need to talk to Daria.

Unknown to them, Sam had been watching.  He wondered if Trent was Daria’s boyfriend.  He certainly looked the part.  After Sam was done talking to the owner, he walked over to where Daria and Trent sat.

“Hey Daria.  Who’s your guy friend?” Sam asked

Daria turned a deep shade of red.  She was tongue-tied.  Then Trent spoke up. “I’m Trent Lane.  I’m the lead singer and guitarist for Mystik Spiral.”  He offered his hand, which Sam shook.

“I’m Sam Baine, Daria’s mentor at The Irregular.”  This is rich.  They really like each other.  Sam could tell by Daria’s color and the way Trent had saved her from answering.  But it seemed they didn’t know it, or at least hadn’t said it.

“Well I’ve got to get back to the paper.” Sam said.  Daria got up to follow him.  “Say Daria, why don’t you stay and hang out with your friend?  I can handle the rest of the stuff I need to do today.

“Uh… Thanks Sam.” Daria was feeling kind of fluttery.  Being let off to hang out with Trent.

“No Problem.  You kids have fun.”  With that Sam walked out the door.

Daria was stunned and a little scared.  She was feeling very self-conscious again.  Trent looked at her and wondered whether he should say anything.  He finally thought better of it.  They sat there in silence for a while, then Trent remembered why he came in the first place.

“Uh, Daria?  I’ve gotta talk to the owner about the gig.  I’ll be right back.” I hope she doesn’t run away.

Maybe I should run, thought Daria.  No.  Then Trent would think I don’t like him.  Damn, what do I do?  “Umm… Ok,” she answered

Trent got up to go talk to the owner.  Daria stayed, against her better judgment.  She started thinking.  Does he actually like me or is he nice to me because I’m Jane’s friend?  I’d like to be his friend, am I cool enough to be Trent’s friend?  Am I his friend?

“Hey Daria, It’s all settled.  Seven pm tomorrow.” Trent said, walking up to the table.

“Cool.”  That’s all I can think to say?!  I sound like Jesse.

Trent thought Daria looked troubled.  But he knew her well enough not to ask about it.  If she wanted to talk, she would.  But if she didn’t prying would only make her mad.

“Daria, wanna get some pizza?” Trent offered.

“Nah.  I already ate.”

“Oh… umm.” Trent couldn’t think of anything to suggest.

“Why don’t we just go to your house?" Daria said,” I need to talk to Jane eventually anyway.  And if she isn’t there I can listen to you practice some more.”  The memory brought up Daria’s giaconda smile. 

Trent smiled back. “Cool”





            The next night Daria sat on her bed, trying to read.  Her thoughts, however, kept returning to Trent and his invitation.  Why did I agree to go?  She thought.  I don’t even like The Zon, or any other social interaction for that matter.  But Trent said he’d like for me to go.  Maybe I should dress up a little?  Dress up to go to The Zon?  No.  But Trent invited me this time…

Daria glanced at her alarm clock.  Six o’clock!  Trent would be there in half an hour.  Daria jumped up and ran to her closet.  Opening the door, she frowned.  Digging through her meager wardrobe, she quickly pulled out the black shirt and acid washed jeans she had worn to Alternapalooza.  Turning, she started to walk toward the door, but her foot got caught in something.

Getting up from her fall, Daria looked down.  Upon inspection she found the culprit, it was her dog collar.  She stared at it for a moment, then an idea hit her.  What the hell, lets play dress up.  With that she picked it up and carried it to the bathroom with her clothes.

      After showering and dressing, Daria walked downstairs.  She looked around cautiously.  The last thing she wanted was a run in with her family.

      “Daria!”  Helen called, “Is that you?”

      Damn, I don’t need this.  “Yeah.”

      Helen walked in and stared wide-eyed at Daria.

      “What do you want mom?”

      “Where are you going tonight?” Helen put on her best lawyer face.

      “Well, Pigpen and I were going to knock over a liquor store, but since you found out, I’ll just have to go somewhere with Jane and Trent.”  Daria smirked.

      “Daria!” Helen scowled. “I meant, where are you going wearing a dog collar!”

      Daria’s eyes went wide.  She had forgotten all about the collar as soon as Helen had yelled.  She slowly put her hand to her neck and felt the sharp spikes of the collar.  Dammit, no way out of this one.

      “I…” Just then there was a knock at the door. “That’s my ride mom, I gotta go.” Daria turned to leave.

      “Not so fast young lady.”  Helen stared at Daria.  She wasn’t angry.  At least Daria was getting out of the house.  But She still wanted to know who Daria was leaving with. “I want to meet your date.”

      “It’s not a date mom, it’s probably Jane at the door.”  Still looking at Helen, Daria opened the door. “See.”

      Trent stood in the doorway, hand posed to knock again.  His eyes widened at the sight of the dog collar Daria was wearing.  Maybe she is loosening up.  He swallowed and said. “Hey Daria.”

      Daria turned and stared at Trent, then blushed so red that she was almost purple.  She tried to speak, but Helen cut her off.

      “Helloooo Trent.” Helen said, her voice saccharine. “Are you taking Daria out this evening?”  Trent?  Well, it could be worse.

      “Uh… Well I’m taking her to our gig tonight.  I don’t know if that’s what you would call going out for the evening?”  Helen had always seemed intimidating to Trent.  He really couldn’t think of anything else to say.

      “Okay… well you two have fun.  And be careful out there.”  At that moment the phone rang.  Helen ran into the kitchen to pick it up.

      Trent looked down at Daria.  She looked very embarrassed.  He wanted to help her but didn’t know how.  They stood in the doorway for a minute.  Finally Trent remembered what he was there for in the first place.

      “Hey, Daria.  We better go, or we’re gonna be late.”

      “And ruin your punctual reputation?” Daria said.  Then slapped her hand over her mouth and deeply blushed again.  Looking up she weakly whispered. “Sorry.”

      Trent laughed, but it degenerated into a cough. “Don’t be, you’re right.”  He smiled at her, but she was too embarrassed to smile back.

      “C’mon.” Trent held out his arm, which Daria only looked at. “Umm… I won’t bite.”

      Tentatively Daria wrapped her arm around Trent’s.  They walked to Trent’s beater Plymouth in silence.  When they got to the car Trent opened Daria’s door for her then walked around to the driver’s side.  Getting in, Trent hazarded a glance at Daria.  She was staring straight ahead.  He wondered what she was thinking.

      Helen watched as the car pulled away from the curb.  I had that same look when I first met Jake. Daria really likes Trent.   Hmm.  I wonder if he knows, I hope he doesn’t hurt her feelings.  She’d never get over it.    

Back in the car Trent was working up the nerve to talk to Daria.  He had something to say and she needed to hear it.  While he was thinking Daria noticed something was different.  Jane wasn’t in the back seat.

      “Uh… Trent?  Where’s Jane?” Daria glanced at Trent who looked like he was deep in thought. “Earth to Trent.  Where’s Jane?”

      Snapping out of it Trent glanced at her.  “Huh?  Oh, uh, she rode in the Tank with the band.”  Trent clenched his hands on the steering wheel.

      Daria was suspicious. “Oh, why?”

      “Dunno, why does she do anything?”  Maybe ‘cause I asked for some space tonight.  Or maybe ‘cause I had Jesse drag her to the van and lock her in.

      “I guess you’re right.” Daria frowned slightly.  She hadn’t expected to be alone with Trent. 

      “What’s wrong Daria?” Trent had noticed the frown.  I hope I didn’t do anything.

      “Nothing’s wrong.” Daria couldn’t think of anything else to say.

      “Oh… Um, Daria?” Daria turned to look at him. “I have something to tell you… I’ve uh, wanted to say this for a while.”

      Daria stared at Trent, eyes wide.  “What?” She whispered, barely audible.

      “Well… Uh…” But Trent saw they were outside The Zon.  He parked the Plymouth. “Umm… I’ll uh, tell you after the show.”  With that he got out of the car.  Dammit Trent.  You’ve blown It.  She won’t want to talk to you now… or ever.

      Daria got out of the car and followed him into The Zon.  Her mind was rushing a mile a minute.  What had he wanted to tell her?  Why had he just run away?  She couldn’t handle this.  She looked around for a table that was empty.  She found one in the corner, out of the lights. 

      All the better.  Now nobody will know I’m here.  Maybe I should just walk out right now.  Nah, I should stick around and see what Trent had to say.  He probably noticed my crush.  That’s it, he noticed and he wants to let me down easy.

      Daria sighed.  This was probably the worst thing that had ever happened heretofore.  I like him.  But I don’t think he could ever like me.  He likes girls like Monique.  Tall and good looking… mysterious, wild.  Not like me.

      As Daria sat in silent misery Jane watched from a barstool.  She knew better than to approach Daria while she was in one of her moods.  But, dammit, Daria looked like she needed to talk to someone.  Jane got up from the stool and headed towards Daria’s table.

      “Hey amiga.” Jane said, sitting in the chair across from Daria. “What’s eating at your soul?”

      “Huh…” Daria looked up at Jane. “Oh, hi Jane.  Nothing’s wrong really.”

      “Really?” Jane knew something was up and she was going to find out what, or die trying.

      “Nothing…” Daria looked at Jane’s concerned face. “Well… maybe something.”

      Now we’re getting somewhere. “Well, spill.  What’s up?”

      “You know I like Trent.” Daria said.  Jane nodded. “Well on the ride over he wanted to tell me something.”

      Jane smiled. “Well what did he say? Tell Me!”

      “That’s just it.  He didn’t say anything.  He lost all his articulation.  Then he pulled in and said he’d talk to me after the show.”  Daria sighed again, and looked down at the tabletop.

      “Oh…  Well maybe he has a confession to make too.” Jane smirked and wiggled her eyebrows.

      “Yeah, like how I’m a silly self-deluded little teenage girl.  How could he like me, when he has someone like Monique to hang all over him.”  Daria’s voice started to rise, ”I think he was just trying to let me down easy… because… because I’m your friend.” Daria’s voice finally broke.

      Jane was stunned into silence.  Daria had just expressed more emotion, more pure angst, in the last five minutes than she had in the last three years.

      “Whoa…” Was all Jane could say.  She moved to a chair catty-cornered to Daria.  Placing her hand on Daria’s shoulder she husked, “There, there, kid.  It’ll all turn out.  I know it.  Maybe… maybe Trent wanted to say something else, or ask you something.”

      Daria just shook her head.  She closed her eyes trying to hold back tears.  Finally she spoke, in a hoarse whisper. “I don’t think so Jane.”

      “You’ve been wrong before.”  Jane was very afraid.  If Trent drove Daria off, she probably wouldn’t speak to Jane anymore either.  Jane just couldn’t take that, not after all those friendless years.  She wouldn’t be able to be like that again, it would kill her.  But not before she inflicted suitable retribution on Trent.

      Daria looked at Jane.  Jane unknowingly had just sparked something deep inside of Daria.  Something that hadn’t awoken in years… Hope.

      “Maybe you’re right Jane.  I’ll wait until after the show to go completely crazy.”

      “Oh you’re already there Daria… Um if you don’t mind me asking… What’s with the collar?”

      “It’s to hide the alien neck implant.  Tomorrow all I’ll be able to think about is bouncy hair.” Daria smirked.

      “It’s the end of the world as we know it.” Jane smirked back, glad to see Daria in a better mood.

      “And I feel fine.  Well except for the radiation sickness.”


      Sam sat at the bar, alone.  No one sat at either side.  He didn’t mind.  He preferred his privacy when he settled down to get seriously senseless.

      “Hey, John.  Gimme a drink.” Sam pulled a crumpled bill from his pocket.

      “Its on the house Sam.” John sat the whiskey on the bar.  Sam had been a regular customer for a while.  For the life of him, John couldn’t figure out why.  Sam definitely didn’t fit The Zen’s demographic.

      Looking around Sam saw Trent enter and run to the stage.  Then he saw Daria trailing closely behind and looking lost.  Wonder what’s wrong.  Maybe I should go talk to her.

      He watched her walk around and finally sit at a dark corner table.  Worried, he started to stand when another girl approached Daria’s table. 

      That must be Jane.  Maybe I should stay back.  Sam frowned, thinking.  Then smiled sadly while he watched Jane comfort Daria.  At least she has one good friend.  He looked at the bottle.  I don’t even have that.

      He sighed and picked up the bottle to pour the first shot of the night.  His mind turned to a song.  Son can you play me a memory.  I’m not really sure how it goes.  It’s sad and It’s sweet and I knew it complete, when I wore a younger man’s clothes… Where did that come from?

      He turned his mind on the past.  While he reminisced he steadily emptied the bottle.  By the end of the last set he was dead to the world.


      “We’re Mystik Spiral.  Thank You and G’night!” Trent said into the mic. Well, that’s over.  Now I gotta talk to Daria, and this time I can’t afford to screw up.

      Trent put his guitar in it’s case and locked it up.  Turning around he looked for Jesse.

      “Hey Jess.  Can you load my guitar into the Tank?  I need to talk to someone.”

      “Sure.”  Jesse walked over and picked up Trent’s guitar case. “I’ll treat her like my very own.” Jesse said

      “Thanks man.”

      Now to find Daria.  I hope she found Janey.  I don’t know why I ran off like that, It’s not like I’m thirteen anymore.  If Janey didn’t find her, she probably ran off.

       After walking around The Zen once Trent walked over to the bar and sat down.  He slapped his head in frustration.  Then someone tapped him on the shoulder.  Startled, Trent spun around quickly.  It was Jane, and she wasn’t happy.

      “What the hell did you do to Daria?!” Jane whispered fiercely.

      “Nothing… I tried to tell her something… But I was too scared, I need to find her Janey.”

      “Well you’re lucky I found her… She was real torn up about it… She thinks you don’t like her or something.”

      “But…” This isn’t right!  I like her a lot… is Jane saying she likes me?  “I…”

      “Just… Just go talk to her Trent.  And try not to hurt her… please.  If you do…” Jane trailed off and made a slashing motion across her throat, then ran off toward the exit.

      Trent just sat there, hanging his head. “You’ve done it this time stickboy.” he muttered.

      “Done what?”

      Trent’s head snapped up. Daria?!

      “Well I’ve hurt you.  And Janey wants to kill me for it.  I didn’t mean to… Sorry, Daria.”  He put his head in his hands and rubbed his temples.

      “Yeah… uh, I forgive you?” Daria was freaked out, she had never seen Trent so despondent.  “Um… You had something you wanted to say?

      Trent looked up at her, and saw the glint in her eye.  You’d miss it if you didn’t know her, Trent thought.

      “Well… I’ve had something I wanted to say for a long time.”

      Daria’s breath caught. “What, Trent?”

      “I just didn’t know how you would react.  I’m still not sure.  I don’t want you running away and never speaking to Janey… or me, again if you don’t like what I’m about to say.  Are you sure you still want to know?”

      Daria nodded, clearly too choked up to speak.

      “I like you Daria.” Trent 

      “Well I like you to Trent… You’re my friend.” I knew it, Daria thought.  He likes me, but he can’t love me.  I’m not his type or it’s the age difference.

      Trent shook his head. “You don’t understand… I like you.  I want to be more than just friends.” Trent looked up at Daria and offered a weak smile.

      Daria was stunned.  She had liked Trent since she had met him.  But she would never have thought the feeling was mutual.  Then the reality came crashing in.  Trent likes me! Daria’s mind screamed.

      “I…I…” She tried to speak, but nothing came out.  She was feeling lightheaded all of a sudden.  Her knees buckled, and the world went black.


      When Daria came to, she was on a ratty sofa.  Trent was in an equally debauched chair across from her.  She sat up and looked around. 

      “Daria are you awake?” Trent looked up from his shoes.

      “Yeah” Daria rubbed her head. “What happened?”

      Trent got up from the chair and sat by Daria on the couch.

      “You fainted.” Trent shrugged.

      Daria started to flush.  She had fainted in front of Trent?  Well my earthly embarrassment is complete.     

“Where am I?”  She hadn’t seen this room before.  It was pretty dingy.

      “ The post-party room at The Zen.”

“Did I hit my head?”

      “Nope but I banged up my knee when I dove to catch you.” Trent smirked pointing to the new hole in his jeans.

      “You dove to catch me?” Daria said, “Well I’m glad to see chivalry is alive and well in the world today.” She smirked.

      “Yeah, but our table isn’t round. Sorry.” Trent tapped his fingers nervously, trying to pull up the strength to ask her about earlier.

      “Trent?  We need to talk.” Daria looked over to Trent, who was intensely studying his shoes. “Did you… mean what you said earlier?”

      Trent looked at Daria.  She was blushing again and he saw a sadness in her eyes. He nodded. “Every word.”

      “So… what do we do now?” Daria asked.  What am I getting myself into?  This isn’t like me, I’m actually happy.  Is that supposed to happen?

      “Well, I guess we go get some pizza with Jane and the band.” He stood up and held his hand out to Daria.  She took it and he pulled her into a standing position. 

      Daria looked up. Trent looked down.  Their eyes locked, and soon after, their lips did too.  When they broke the embrace Trent looked down and saw something akin to a blue moon.  Daria was unguardedly smiling.


      As she and Trent were walking out of The Zen, holding hands, Daria noticed Sam slumped over the bar.  She let go of Trent’s hand and walked over to Sam.  Trent followed noting the faint concern on her face.

      “Looks like he’s getting his beauty rest.” Daria said.

      “Yeah the green at the gills in the morning look is in.”

      Seeing the two standing and looking at Sam, John walked over.

      “Hey.  Do you guys know him?  I don’t wanna have to toss him in the alley again.” John frowned.  Sam was pretty cool, why did he do this to himself.

      “Yeah,” Daria said, “I know him.”  Dammit Sam.  I hope you have your keys.  Ugh… I don’t want to stick my hands in your pockets though.  “Um… Trent.  Could you look in his pockets for his keys?”

      “Sure Daria.”  Trent searched the jacket and pants pockets, no luck.  Turning to Daria he shrugged. “Sorry.”

      Daria frowned.  I don’t need this tonight.  “Ugh.  My conscience is acting up again.”

“Damn conscience.” Trent smirked

“We can’t let them just throw him in an alley.” Daria’s shoulders sagged.

      “He can stay at our house.  He seemed like an all right guy.  Besides I have band guys pass out on the floor all the time.”  And he’s making less mess than Nick and Max do.

      “Okay… Well let’s get him out of here.”  Daria threw one of his arms around her shoulder.  Trent threw the other arm around his shoulder.  And they carried him out to the Plymouth.


      After Sam was situated on the couch Daria started towards the door.

      “Hey Daria, wait.  Where are you going?” Trent put his hand on her shoulder.  She turned around and saw his lop-sided grin.

      “Uh… I think I should be getting home.  It’s almost two, I have to work tomorrow.”

      “Why don’t you stay here?”  Trent thought for a moment. “Don’t worry about work.  Your boss sure isn’t.”  He jerked a thumb at Sam, who was snoring quite loudly.  He put his arm around her waist, but pulled away when he felt her stiffen.

      “I… I don’t feel right.” She turned and looked at him. “I’m not ready for something like this.”

      Trent smiled, she had completely misunderstood him.  It was cute. “No, I mean you can stay in Janey’s room.”  I’m sure as hell not ready for anything like that either.  I don’t wanna screw this up.

      “Oh.” Daria visibly relaxed. “Ok.  When will Jane and the band be back?”

      Trent shrugged. “Max’s always hungry after a gig.  He’ll drive them around ‘till he finds an all night diner or something.”

      “Well I’d better go raid Jane’s closet.  I need something to sleep in.” Something that didn’t belong to your grandmother would be nice.

      “You can wear one of my shirts.  They ought to be big enough for a nightshirt for you.”

      Daria flushed at the thought of wearing Trent’s shirt.  “Th… Thanks Trent.”

      “Anything for you, Luv.” Luv? Where the hell did that come from?!

      Daria raised an eyebrow.  “Luv?  It’s a little early for pet names isn’t it?” She smirked

      It was Trent’s turn to blush. “Uh…” Say something Idiot!

      “It’s okay Trent… I kinda like it.”  Daria smiled

      Trent beamed back. “ Ok… Luv.”

      Daria embraced Trent and whispered to him. “You know… It feels great to be Luv’d.”