"Inner Demons"
A Daria fanfic by Belle Book

Daria and related characters are the property of MTV and Glenn Eichler.

A car was parked outside a big brick-red house in the town of Lawndale, USA. The car was blue, with orange upholstery inside. On the front bumper of the car, the vanity plate read, "Vo-ic". The car looked extremely beat up, with rust stains on the exterior of the car, and the vanity plate was askew as well.

Suddenly, the door of the passenger side of the car opened, and out stepped a young girl, about seventeen years old. She was about 5'2", with shoulder-length brown hair and dark eyes which were hidden behind big glasses. She wore a green jacket, a mustard-yellow shirt underneath the jacket, a skirt, and black boots. She was pretty, despite the obvious fact that she hid her natural beauty.

She closed the door hurriedly and began to hurry toward the house. The driver, a young man about seventeen or eighteen, watched her go. He was handsome, with black hair and green eyes. He was also dressed neatly, with a navy-blue shirt and grey pants. Once the girl opened the door to her house, the driver revved the engine and drove away.

The girl entered the house and walked toward the stairs. From the living room, one could hear the sounds of four girls chanting rhythmically (well, almost rhythmically -- one of the girls appeared to be a second or two behind the others). However, the girl had such a dazed look on her face that it appeared she didn't hear the chanting at all. It was just as well, for Daria Morgendoffer (that was the girl's name,) would've wanted to puke if she had heard it. Instead, she reached the stairs.

As she began to walk up the stairs, the rhythmic chanting suddenly ceased, with the one girl finishing a second behind the other three. Then one of the three girls that finished on cue said, in a very deep voice:

"This concludes the rhythmic chanting part of the Fashion Club's Blush-a-thon. Now, we will examine blush strategies. Strategy is very important when it comes to choosing what blush you plan to wear on one particular day."

By this point, however, Daria had reached the top of the stairs and was now entering her bedroom. Once inside, she closed the door, then flopped onto the bed.

For a few minutes (which seemed like a half-hour for her), she lay on her bed in a very dazed state. Finally, she said, "Note to self: never let your best friend's boyfriend talk you into getting into his car."

In that instant, guilt assailed Daria like a tidal wave.

How could she do this? After all her reassuring Jane that she had no interest in Tom, after all her efforts to calm Jane's jealousy, how could this happen to her? Where did this nightmare begin?

Daria didn't know for certain where it began. Perhaps it began when she got stuck in that Homecoming Parade, and began to hit it off with Tom. Perhaps it began after the fire in the hotel and the prospect of having to share a room with Quinn, her extremely shallow sister, drove her to spend most of the time that she wasn't at school with Jane, initially unaware that Jane was beginning to get jealous. Or maybe it really began the day before, when Daria came to Jane's house, and Trent, Jane's brother and Daria's former crush, told Daria that Jane was upstairs with Tom.

Daria remembered walking upstairs -- and finding Tom kissing Jane! She'd been so embarrassed at interrupting them.

But weren't you also wondering what it would be like to kiss Tom, even for one little moment? a voice inside her head asked at a most unwelcome time.

Daria then reminisced about seeing Jane's painting, in an effort to rid herself of the voice. Jane had drawn a painting of herself with a hairdo resembling a tiger. Jane had said, "Don't you get it? The Lady or the Tiger? Now you don't have to choose." Jane planned to have her hair dyed with smooth blond stripes, resembling a tiger's coat. That wasn't so bad, except that Jane wanted Daria to dye her hair!

Daria was extremely bad with painting, let alone dyeing someone's hair, so she kept trying to back out, but to no avail. What was worst about it was Jane's insinuations:

"You know I have no aptitude for this sort of thing. Dyeing hair, painting toenails," Daria began, reasonably.

"Look, this it the type of activity that teen girls do together to cement their friendships," Jane replied. "Don't you wanna cement our friendship?"

"I'd probably do better with actual cement," Daria replied.

"Methinks thou doth protesteth too much," Jane replied enigmatically.

"Huh?" asked Daria, confused.

"Come on, why don't you wanna help me really?" asked Jane.

"I just told you," said Daria, becoming frustrated that Jane wasn't taking no for an answer. "I'm afraid I'll screw it up."

"Okay. You're worried about making me look bad," said Jane, as she picked up another box of blonde hair dye.

"What's the matter with you?" asked Daria.

"Nothing's the matter with me," Jane said. "Just grateful for your concern, that's all."

Daria had agreed to do Jane's hair in order to avoid further arguing, but she was still nervous about the whole business, even after she actually began dyeing Jane's hair. And there was Jane's enigmatic remarks:

"What did you mean before?" asked Daria, as she continued to dye Jane's hair.

"What do you mean, 'What did I mean?'" asked Jane.

"All that hinting around about the dire reasons I didn't wanna help you with this," said Daria.

"Dire," said Jane. "Because you're dying my hair. I get it."

Daria knew that wasn't an answer. "Still waiting," she said.

"Oh hell, I didn't mean anything by it," Jane said. "I just thought it was odd that you were so resistant to making me look even cooler than I already am. I thought, you know, that maybe you were jealous of me and Tom, and you felt that you had to --"

By this point, Daria had stopped dyeing Jane's hair. Now she asked, "What?"

"Just a teensy little bit, and it's okay," said Jane. "Believe me, I'm sure if I were in your position --"

"What position? What're you talking about?" asked Daria, stunned. "How can you possibly accuse me of being jealous of you and Tom?" She wanted to reassure Jane that she had no designs on Tom.

"Hey, are we doing the hair here or not?" asked Jane. Daria thought Jane wanted to let it drop, and besides, she didn't want to argue any further and risk hurt feelings, so Daria continued dyeing Jane's hair.

Unfortunately, Jane seemed to want to vent any jealousy she had, for she said, "I just mean the way you're always 'accidentally' barging in on us, and just 'happening' to find yourself alone with him. I know you don't mean anything by it, so don't worry about it."

But Daria, who had stopped dyeing for the second time, was worried about it. She had to stop Jane's paranoia.

"Don't worry about it?' asked Daria. "You're accusing me of having some kind of designs on your boyfriend, and you tell me don't worry about it?" Her voice clearly rose while talking.

"Hair," Jane reminded, but Daria was so upset that she accidentally pulled hard on the hunk of hair that she was working on. Or was it a little bit on purpose? "Ow!" Jane cried.

"Sorry," Daria said.

"Maybe we'd better talk about this later," said Jane.

"There's nothing to talk about," said Daria, angrily. "You're delusional."

"Oh well, in that case, I can just talk to myself about it," said Jane.

The dyeing had continued, thankfully with no further accusations from Jane, and while Jane's hair was drying, they watched an announcement for the upcoming "Sick, Sad World" show that night. Jane had told Daria that it wasn't so hard after all, whereupon Daria had asked, "Which part? The haircoloring, or the accusation of betrayal?" Jane finally agreed that she imagined the whole thing, then turned her attention back to her hair, which she felt was ready. She took off the hairnet, and --

"Am I striped yet?" Jane asked.

Daria didn't know what to say to that. The stripes were jagged orange, not smooth blonde! Not that Daria was surprised -- she knew she'd make a mess of the striping job, but she didn't want Jane to see it just yet.

"Um, no, not quite yet," Daria finally said, after a minute.

"Is anything happening up there?" asked Jane. Daria decided it was time to go, before Jane found out.

"Uh, you know, I think I should probably get home," Daria said.

"Oh come on, Daria," said Jane. "Don't you wanna stick around for the fun?" she added as she stood up and began to walk toward a mirror.

"Definitely not," said Daria. Because she knew it wouldn't be any fun.

"Come on, Daria, you must wanna see," Jane began, but then she saw herself in the mirror.

"Augh! What did you do to me?" Jane cried out angrily.

"I told you I was no good at this," Daria protested.

"Can't you paint a lousy stripe?" Jane asked angrily.

Daria said, "I don't know -- I --" What could she say to calm Jane down?

Before Daria could find some way to say that Jane must've known she couldn't paint a stripe, Jane accused, "You did this on purpose! To take Tom away from me!"

Daria was flabbergasted by Jane's accusation. "What?" she asked.

"Get out, Daria," said Jane.

"Let me fix it," Daria pleaded.

"How are you going to fix it?" was Jane's reply.

"I don't know!" Daria replied, her voice rising.

"Just get out!" Jane repeated. Aware that Jane was being unreasonable, Daria left Jane's house, sad, and not knowing how to convince Jane that she didn't screw up Jane's hair on purpose.

Daria remembered not being able to go to sleep at first. For what seemed to be hours, she tossed and turned, trying to think of a good way to convince Jane that she wasn't trying to sabotage Jane's relationship with Tom by screwing up Jane's hair. Finally, she decided to wait until tomorrow to convince Jane, and then she was finally able to fall asleep.

But the next day -- today -- began all wrong. Jane didn't answer the ringing of the doorbell when Daria came over to her house to walk with her to school. Once at school, Daria tried the phone, but Jane didn't answer.

Jane still didn't answer the phone when Daria got home, so she tried to talk to her mother. Though Daria would never admit it to a soul, she needed her mom's advice. But her mom was busy with work, as usual, so Daria hung up, then called Tom. Tom did say that Jane had been all right last night, enough to call him, but the conversation had gone badly. When he said that the argument was exactly like what he'd told Daria at the parade, she decided to go to Jane's house and find out how Jane was.

Yeah, the last thing you wanted was to talk about that parade, huh? the voice said.

But before that voice could say anything else, Daria shut it up by thinking about her going to see Jane. Finally, Jane had answered the door, and Daria awkwardly apologized for the hairdo.

Jane admitted that she'd dyed her hair back to black last night, so Daria asked why Jane didn't come to school or answer the phone. Jane explained that she'd been overwhelmed lately, and after the haircoloring fiasco she'd decided to take a "mental health" day. Daria didn't know why Jane would need a "mental health day". After all, she would never screw up Jane's hair on purpose.

Jane agreed, but then brought up a subject Daria didn't want brought up -- Jane's accusations. Daria at first tried to evade the subject by saying that Jane was just upset. But Jane wouldn't let it go --

"What about it, Daria?" Jane asked.

"What?" asked Daria. Jane said nothing, but just looked at Daria, accusing Daria with her eyes alone.

"Tom? Me try to take Tom away from you?" Daria asked. "Are you crazy?"

Jane said, "Okay, maybe not trying to steal him or anything, but what's going on between you two?"

Daria asked, "What do you mean? Nothing!" But that wasn't quite right. Something had happened, since Daria no longer really hated him. "Okay, I don't hate him so much anymore, but that's not exactly an affair to remember," Daria added.

Jane then asked, "So you don't wanna go out with him?"

"Of course not," said Daria.

But Jane prodded, "And you've never -- made out with him or anything?"

That was too much for Daria's control. "Come on!" she protested.

"I know! I'm sorry!" Jane said.

"Can you picture me making out with anyone? Ever?" Daria challenged.

Jane said nothing for a moment, then asked, "Can I stop short of your wedding night?"

Much to Daria's relief, Jane accepted Daria's apology and Daria believed they'd mended their fences. But then she walked home -- and there was a all-too-familiar car outside her home.

"Hey," said Tom, smiling up at her from inside his car.

Daria couldn't believe it. "What are you doing here?" she asked.

"I wanted to talk to you," Tom explained. "Your sister said you weren't home, so I figured I'd wait out here."

Daria then asked, "Do you wanna come in?"

"No!" Tom emphatically said. "There are these girls in there -- rubbing stuff on each other's cheeks and making animal noises. I got kind of scared."

"That's just the opening rites of the Blush-a-thon," Daria said, remembering the conversation between Quinn and the rest of the fashion fiends that she'd overheard at school. "At least you got out before the rhythmic chanting."

"Oh yeah," Tom replied. "I think I saw that on the Discovery Channel." Then, "Why don't you get in the car?"

The memories shattered like glass as Daria began berating herself all over again.

She should never have let him talk her into getting into his car and talking with him! She should've said no, and went on inside. If she'd done that, she would have avoided this mess.

Why? she asked herself. Why did you let him talk you into getting into his car?

Well, there was one good reason, she now realized. Quinn and her fashion fiends were still inside, and Daria tried to have minimal contact with them, partly because Quinn didn't want her "friends" to know that she had a sister who was so unpopular, partly because Daria tried to avoid fashion like the plague.

And besides, Daria thought Tom wanted to talk about his relationship with Jane. She'd hoped that if they talked about Tom and Jane, that maybe things would return to normal, and the friendship between Daria and Jane would no longer be strained.

And you were attracted to him, as well, that stupid voice echoed inside her head.

Daria tried to think about other things, to get rid of the voice, but this time, the voice wouldn't stay silent. It kept insisting, You're attracted to Tom.

Shut up! Daria thought.

Don't hide from the truth. You're attracted to Tom. Perhaps you're even in love with him.

Now Daria was scared. Shut up! she thought, louder.

No! Listen to me! If you aren't attracted to Tom, then why did you let him kiss you? Why did you kiss him back?

Daria could feel the flood of memories of the two kisses coming. She had to stop it!

SHUT UP! she cried out internally, as she covered her head with a pillow, hoping to drown out the unwelcome voice.

The Sloane residence

Tom Sloane was glad that his parents and his sister, Elsie, were at the country club when he arrived back home. He could think about what happened without having to deal with them. Elsie would probably make one of her sarcastic comments, and he would rather deal with this situation without any sarcasm from her. And his parents would try to give him advice that probably wouldn't be of much help. Besides, he just wanted to be alone.

So he'd brooded around the house, thinking over what had happened.

He had mixed emotions about this whole situation. On the one hand, he had felt glad that Daria apparently returned his affection for her. On the other hand, he'd betrayed Jane Lane, his girlfriend, and that made him feel like a heel.

He should never have betrayed her, even if he'd acted on an impulse when he kissed Daria! He should've broken up with her before he even dragged Daria into the mess, let alone kissed her! Why hadn't he just broken up with Jane?

Because she has nobody to turn to except Trent and Daria, that's why, a very small voice said inside his head.

He sighed. The voice was right about that. He knew that Jane's sisters and her brother Wind had abandoned the house, and that Jane's parents were almost never home. In fact, he'd never even met Jane's parents.

Jane had told Tom that until she met Daria, she'd had only Trent as her confidant. If Tom had broken up with Jane and shortly afterwards began dating Daria, that would definitely cause problems. The fallout might leave Jane as she was before, and if Trent's band became famous, Jane would be completely alone. Tom didn't want to be the cause of that.

That's when Tom bumped into the back door to his house. He'd wandered toward the back door while thinking over the situation, without even knowing it.

Why not? he thought to himself. He'd often found some solace in looking up at the night sky and seeing the stars.

So Tom got a key, opened the back door, and stepped outside, locking the door behind him and placing the key in his pocket.

It was a beautiful night. Perhaps even more beautiful than the night he first met Jane and Daria.

For at least a year prior to that night, Tom had been dating girls who were of his social class. However, he became really bored with them. For one thing, none of them really had any zest for life. For another, their interests were almost completely incompatible with Tom's interests.

So, he'd decided to date a girl who was more "his" type. Then he heard of Mystik Spiral, an alternative band. As he liked that type of music (partly out of rebelliousness toward his parents), he'd decided to check it out. If there were any girls that might be interesting, all the better. So, he went to the Mystik Spiral concert, and met Jane there, then (briefly) Daria.

He'd hit off with Jane almost immediately. She was smart, funny, independent, had a great attitude, and had a neat sense of humor -- in short, she was not like any of the girls he'd ever dated before. Things hadn't gone well with Daria at first, on the other hand. Daria seemed to be very antagonistic toward him, and he couldn't figure out why. Even after he learned she was afraid he was out to take Jane's friendship away from her, he couldn't get it. His dating Jane wouldn't change her friendship with Daria, he had thought.

Then, Jane told him about Lawndale's Homecoming Parade. They'd decided to hang out together, making fun of the parade. By that time, Tom was beginning to suspect that he and Jane had less in common than he originally thought, but he was still willing to spend time with her.

Unfortunately, Tom had either misunderstood her, or else Jane had not made it clear enough where they were to meet, for when he arrived at the Pharmacy, Jane wasn't there. He waited and waited for her, until he saw Daria, with a little boy in tow, emerging from the crowd.

After discovering that Jane had been at Drugs N Stuff (thereby making it clear why he hadn't hooked up with Jane), and engaging in a little sarcastic byplay with Daria, Tom asked who the boy was. Daria introduced him as Tad, whom she'd once babysat for, and explained that they were looking for his parents. Tom asked if he could tag along. Daria didn't seem willing, but Tad said that since he and Daria were heading towards Drugs N Stuff, they could help each other, so Daria reluctantly agreed.

They had had an interesting experience when Tom suggested hopping a float, and the girls on it tried to give a makeover to Daria (three of them did, anyway). They hopped off after Tad got into an argument with one of the girls, then walked on until a man-shaped lion began hassling Daria until --

"She said, 'Beat it, Leo'!" Tom said, knocking the lion away.

"Wow!" said Daria. "That was the modern equivalent of laying down your cape over a puddle of water for me!"

"Well, I don't know you well enough to wear my cape around you --" Tom began, then he noticed that Daria was smiling.

"Wait a minute," he then said. "Was that a smile I just saw?"

"A twitch," Daria said. "More of a tic, really."

"I knew you were having fun!" Tom exclaimed. "Why try to hide it? You need to laugh out loud at the ridiculous horror of all this!"

Tom had then noticed the cheerleaders coming, and that in turn led to the best part of the whole parade, in his opinion at least.

"Wow!" Daria said, putting his feelings over seeing the destruction of a gaudy float in words.

"It's like the Hindenburg," Tom mused, watching the spectacle.

"Oh, the lack of humanity," Daria replied as a fire truck came up and put out the flames, much to his disappointment.

"This is magnificent!" Daria said. "When homecoming parades turn hellish!"

"Now aren't you glad you were here to see this?" Tom asked.

Daria, still smiling over seeing the spectacle, said, "Well, I definitely understand why you wanted to share this with Jane. Sorry you never hooked up."

Tom privately agreed, but he had to be realistic. "It's okay," he said. "By now, she'd be so busy snaping pictures, she'd forget I was even here. You know how she is."

"Yeah," Daria agreed. "I know how she is."

Tom looked at Daria, and something inside him made him say, "Thanks for getting lost in the moment with me."

Their eyes met, and Tom felt, for one brief instant, a small jolt, almost like an electric charge, before he heard Daria say, "Uh -- you're welcome," shattering the mood.

They then noticed that they had lost Tad. Eventually, they discovered that Tad had found his parents, and after discovering who the lion mascot really was, Jane found them. When a paint fight left Daria spattered with paint and Daria decided not to go have pizza, Tom and Jane left, but Tom could not help sneaking a glance back at Daria. The forlorn expression on her face haunted him the rest of the day.

Perhaps by that point the damage was done, Tom now reflected. In any case, things progressively became worse and worse between him and Jane. First, there was his dancing to some music on the TV, unaware that a video-camera which was attached to a computer had showing his rear end to anyone who was watching. That caused a big argument.

And after that, another argument developed between him and Jane. Jane had been working on one of her art sculptures, but Tom was hungry for some food. It had been several hours since he'd eaten lunch, and as he hadn't eaten much lunch, he was starving. He had found a carton of cookies, but it was empty. Then he had seen the gummy bears --

"I hate it when there's a famine and nobody tells me," said Tom, as he grabbed the bowl of gummy bears and walked off to eat as many of them as he could.

"You know Mom, she doesn't like to clutter up the kitchen with food," he heard Jane say. "Now all it needs is a little color, and voila! I'll just make the deadline for the Art Fair!"

Then, he heard her ask, "You haven't seen my art supplies, have you? I left them here in a bowl."

Uh-oh ... Tom looked at the bowl in his hand, realizing the mistake he'd made. "Oops!" he said.

"Damnit!" Jane yelled.

That had set off more arguing. Jane had accused him of carelessness in eating many of her gummy bears, indicating that he should've known that they were meant for her art project. However, Tom couldn't have known that the gummy bears weren't meant for her art project if they weren't near her art sculpture! He gently suggested to Jane that if she'd put the gummy bears near her art sculpture, he wouldn't have eaten them, as he would've realized that the gummy bears weren't being used for food. Unfortunately, Jane wasn't being reasonable, so Tom stalked out of the house.

The next day, however, he returned to apologize to her, only to learn from Trent that she went to Pay Day, the new warehouse store. Tom decided to go there, find Jane and apologize for the fight. Trent and Jesse took him there, as they both needed supplies as well, but not only didn't they find Jane at the store, but the power went out while they were there. Only after the power was restored and after Tom, Trent, and Jesse were able to get out of the store, did they finally catch up to Daria and Jane as the two were walking back to Jane's house.

The two made up then, but the arguments increased in frequency whenever Tom and Jane were around, and the more they argued, the more Tom became convinced that their relationship was dying -- and the more he began to think about Daria, despite himself.

Also, Tom realized that he and Jane had no common interests except a love of sitting in front of the TV and making fun of whatever they saw, or of making fun of anything they saw as stupid or shallow. That was brought to his attention more clearly than ever one day about a month ago, while they were trying to figure out what they should do that night --

"How about 'Screecher 2'?" Jane asked. "I heard those bloodsucking eyeballs look really cool when they burst."

"Actually, I'm kind of in a mood for a movie with a plot," Tom said, as cheap horror movies were not his style at all. That's when he got a great idea -- at least he thought it was great at the time.

"Hey, Daria left me a message about a Fellini film festival," Tom began. He intended to suggest that they go see 'La Dolce Vita' instead. Maybe Daria would also come along, but that was an afterthought. Or so he thought at the time.

"Oh yeah? You gave Daria your number?" asked Jane.

"You did," Tom reminded her. "So we could go rescue her from Mother-Daughter Bonding Day?" That was apparently one of Daria's mother's many attempts to 'get to know' her children better. Daria, however, avoided her mother like the plague, since her mom was very pushy when she tried to reach out to her daughters. Tom could empathize, but he also knew that Daria at least had a parent who cared about her daughters, unlike Jane's parents.

"Oh yeah, yeah," said Jane.

Tom leaned against the pillow on the sofa as he reminisced, "I guess she remembered the debate we got into on Fellini symbolism."

"I do, too," said Jane. "One of the best naps I ever had."

Tom said, trying to maintain his patience, "Hey, the cinema can be more than bursting eyeballs."

"The cinema?" asked Jane, in what he believed was feigned ignorance.

"Look, do you want to see 'La Dolce Vita'?" asked Tom.

"I think I'll pass," said Jane.

"Fine!" said Tom as Jane turned on the TV to an advertisement for Sick, Sad World. He barely paid attention, he was so bored.

Later that night, Trent came into the living room and the three were conversing when Jane went to answer the door, and when Jane returned --

"Hey, Daria!" Tom said. Suddenly, the night promised to be a lot more interesting.

"Hey, Tom, Trent," said Daria.

"Hey, Daria," Trent replied.

"Let me guess," said Jane.

"They made me share a room with Quinn," said Daria. By this point, Tom and Trent had learned about the fire at Daria's house, thanks to Jane's telling him earlier in the day. She'd gotten a phone call from Daria saying where she was staying.

"They tried to break you, damnit!" cried Jane.

"I'm okay," said Daria. "I got out before she applied the eyelash curler. Look, do you mind if I stay here tonight? I'm afraid if I go back, I'll make a lethal weapon out of the complimentary corkscrew."

"Um, sure, why not?" said Jane.

Before Tom knew it, he found himself suggesting they all go out for pizza, only to find out Trent not only had band practice that night, he had it at 7:00, and he was two hours late already! After Trent headed out --

"Ready?" asked Tom.

"Excuse me, did I say I wanted to go out for pizza?" asked Jane.

This floored Tom. He didn't expect Jane to act this way, and he didn't know why she was doing this.

"Um, but you do, right?" he asked.

"On second thought, you kids go,' said Daria. "I've had enough excitement already tonight, what with nearly losing my childhood home and all."

Jane then showed Daria to the room where Daria would be spending the night. Tom joined them, and remarked on the wind chimes. The room belonged to Jane's sister Penny, and the chimes were one of Penny's brainstorms. When Jane made a snide remark about her brother Wind, and Daria made an ironical statement in reply, Tom couldn't help laughing at Daria's remark, but Jane led him off before he could hear any more witty remarks.

Unfortunately, after Tom left the room, he found that he'd lost his appetite for pizza.

The rest of the night was awful. Jane kept saying unpleasant remarks about Daria, and Tom kept asking why Jane was saying such stuff about her best friend. It was only later, when Tom had a chance to go home and think about what had happened during the day, that he suddenly wondered: Is Jane acting jealous? If so, why?

Tom had thought about it, and the more he thought, the more his own words flashed back into his mind. And his actions. Including his decision to skip the pizza after being dragged out of Daria's new room by Jane.

Idiot! he'd thought. No wonder Jane's jealous! If indeed, she is jealous. You gave her every reason to believe you were considering on betraying her! Needless to say, he spent the rest of the night kicking himself.

Tom then remembered calling Jane a couple of days later so they could go out for pizza that night -- alone. He wanted to make up for the damage he was certain he'd unwittingly caused. But when he arrived at Jane's house, there were clear sounds of a drill in Jane's studio. The last thing he wanted to do was to enter into Jane's studio and interrupt her. And it might give him an opportunity to take care of some other business.

After the parade, whenever he'd seen Daria (and that wasn't very often), she'd been especially evasive. Her decision not to join him and Jane for pizza two nights before had solidified his decision to speak to Daria about this at the earliest opportunity. So, he went to Penny's former bedroom at the other end of the hall, and knocked on the door --

"Come in" he heard Daria say from inside.

Tom entered the room, ready to ask Daria about her evasiveness toward him, but when she turned around to face him, and he could see what she was reading --

"Hey, 'The Prince'," Tom said instead. "Planning on taking over a country?"

"Well, not now that you've ruined the surprise," said Daria.

"It's just as well," Tom reassured her. "You go to all the trouble of plotting a revolution, quelling the masses, and brutally killing your enemies, and what does it get you?"

"A glass coffin surrounded by tourists and necrophiliacs," said Daria. Trust Daria to say something neat.

"I knew you'd find the upside," Tom said, sharing a chuckle with Daria.

The conversation took off from there, and the time flew. Before Tom even knew it, Jane was at the door of Daria's room, wondering what kept him there for so long.

"We were discussing the Prince's influence on Lenin, Trotsky, and Ms. Li," Daria explained.

"Sorry I asked," said Jane.

"Hey, did you know Stalin had Trotsky killed with an ice-pick to the skull?" Tom said suddenly.

"Good thing they didn't put him in a glass coffin," said Daria, earning another good chuckle between the two of them -- before Tom remembered Jane.

"Anyway Tom, I'll be down the hall whenever you guys are finished with morgue chat," said Jane as she left.

"Gotta go," Tom said as he got up and went toward the door.

Yeah," he heard Daria say.

Tom had a terrible night once again. He'd had to endlessly apologize to Jane for getting so engrossed in a conversation with Daria.

They continued to see each other for a month, but Tom knew they would soon be breaking up. But since he knew about Jane's family situation, he wanted Jane to be the one to suggest they broke up. She never did, so things continued to slide downhill.

Then came Jane's artistic idea of dying her hair like a tiger's. For the first time in a long while, Tom was reminded of what he'd once seen in Jane, enough to kiss her -- before Daria walked in on them.

When Jane suggested that Daria dye Jane's hair for them, Tom noticed that Daria seemed especially reluctant. But Jane was insistent, and sent Tom away so she could persuade Daria. Tom told Jane to call him later that night, as he wanted to know how it went.

Jane agreed, but when she did call, she was so incoherent that he could hardly understand her --

"Okay," said Tom, trying to get Jane to make some sense. "Let me get this straight, since you're not making much sense. Did Daria screw up your hair?"

"As if you didn't know!" Jane screamed.

"But I don't!" protested Tom. "All I could hear clearly was something about a mess, and then something about Daria. Since you planned to have her doing her hair, I figured --"

"Stop playing the innocent!" Jane accused. "You knew all the time! Daria told you -- after you probably invited her out for pizza or to go to some arthouse flick."

Tom was dumbfounded by her accusation. "What?" he asked.

"You heard me!" Jane screamed. "When you picked her up in your car, she probably told you all about her screwing up my hair, and you had a good chuckle with her at my expense! And I thought you cared more about me than that, damnit!"

"I never called her tonight!" protested Tom. "Nor did I pick her up in my car. In fact, I haven't even seen her since I left your house!"

"Liar!" screamed Jane. "You did see her, I just know it! And no doubt you made out with her in your car after you had pizza or saw that film!"

Tom was trying desperately to keep calm. "Jane, I never made out with her. I swear it!"

But Jane didn't seem to hear him or to care, for she continued on, "Not only that, you probably went all the way with her --"

That was too much for Tom's patience. He snapped, yelling, "I've told you once, and I'm telling you again, I haven't even seen Daria, let alone made out with her, let alone gone all the way with her! I think I'd better go now and let you simmer down. Good night, Jane."

Jane had broken the connection after that, leaving Tom completely frustrated, as he later remembered while talking with Daria on the phone the following day -- today --

The phone rang, so Tom picked it up. "Hello?" he asked.

To his surprise, he heard Daria ask, "Tom?" Suddenly he felt quite good, considering his day at school -- and Jane's phone call the night before --

"Daria? To what do I owe the pleasure?" he asked.

"Have you heard from Jane?" asked Daria.

Tom's good mood vanished almost as suddenly as it came. "Sort of," he admitted. "Why?"

"It's about that striping job," said Daria, giving Tom a definite indication of why Daria had called.

"Uh-oh," said Tom. He was certain Daria had messed up the stripes.

Daria said, "Yeah. I really, um, kind of botched it big-time, and she didn't come to school, and she's not answering the phone. So I just wanted to make sure she's all right."

The last thing Tom wanted to do was mention the phone call to Daria, but he had to. "Well, she was all right enough to call me late last night, yelling stuff I didn't understand and making freaky accusations," he said.

"Oh," said Daria, sounding like she understood.

"I'm really getting tired of this, Daria, you know?" Tom confided. "It's like we talked about at the parade --"

"I think I'm gonna go over there and see how she's doing," Daria said, preventing Tom from confiding anything else. It was almost as if she was trying to evade him yet again.

"Oh," Tom said. "Oh yeah. Good idea." To tell the truth, he'd considered doing so once or twice that day, but the memory of the phone conversation the night before made him extremely reluctant to contact Jane again.

"Yeah," said Daria. "Gotta go. Bye." And with that, she hung up.

Tom suddenly felt deflated. "Bye," he said.

After a few minutes to himself, Tom decided it was time that he and Daria talked about their relationship. He'd been distracted by seeing she read "The Prince" the first time he attempted to do so, and afterwards, he'd never had the chance to talk to her, partly because she seemed to be going out of her way to avoid being around him.

So, Tom drove over to Daria's house, only to learn from her sister, Quinn, that Daria was at Jane's house. Quinn invited Tom to come inside and wait for Daria, but Tom had seen what the other girls had been doing inside, and that was enough for him.

He'd waited outside in his car until Daria returned, and when she did, he managed to talk her into getting into his car for a chat.

"Did you wanna talk about Jane?" Daria asked.

"Nope," Tom said.

"Oh," she said, her voice indicating that she wasn't too happy about that. "Then what?"

"About our situation," Tom said.

"I don't know what you mean," asked Daria. "We have no situation. Leave me alone, I gotta go."

She moved to go, but by now, Tom had realized that she must've believed he was hinting that they were attracted to each other, or else she was trying to avoid him again. While it was true that Tom was attracted to Daria, at that moment, he needed to have them get back to where they were before this whole mess intervened, so he grabbed Daria's shoulder and asked, "Wait. Why is everyone so mad at me?" What he really meant was "Why are you so mad at me?"

"Why?" Daria asked. "WHY? Because I moved to this town, and I knew immediately I'd be a total outcast. And in the one moment of good luck I've had in my entire life, I met another outcast who I could really be friends with and not have to feel completely alone. And then you came along and screwed the whole thing up."

That was blunt enough, Tom thought, but he had to explain his side of the story, even if Daria believed his arrival screwed up her friendship with Jane, especially now, with the arguing. "All I did was meet a girl I thought was cool, and I went out with her for awhile," explained Tom. "We started to get bored with each other. It happens all the time! It's nobody's fault."

"Oh yeah?" challenged Daria. "Would you still be bored with her if I wasn't around?"

Tom had to be honest with her. "Probably," he admitted. "And more to the point, she'd be bored with me. It's got nothing to do with you."

"Good," said Daria. "Because I'm not interested in you, and I'd be stabbing my friend in the back if I even considered it."

Tom had the funny feeling she was trying to deny to him and to herself that she was attracted to him. However, she also had a good point about stabbing Jane in the back if she even considered such a thing. "Exactly. And what kind of a jerk would that make me?" Tom asked, trying to lighten the mood by deprecating himself. He was very good at that.

"Exactly," said Daria.

"All right, then,"Tom replied.

"Okay," said Daria.

The next thing Tom knew, he'd turned to face Daria, grabbed her shoulders, and pulled her towards himself so he could kiss her. She didn't resist. In fact, he could almost swear she liked it.

Then she pulled away, crying out, "Damnit! Damnit, damnit, damnit!"

The reality of what he'd done had hit Tom also. He couldn't believe that he'd just kissed Daria. But he had to say, "I liked it too."

"That's not funny!" Daria protested.

"I know," Tom said, glancing over towards Daria kind of shyly.

The two looked at each other, then leaned forward to share a second kiss. This one was longer, and Tom knew Daria liked it as much as he did. When they finally ended the kiss, they looked at each other for a moment, then pulled away as Tom said, "That was definitely not funny."

"I gotta go," said Daria, and he watched her as she opened the passenger side and began to get out of the car.

Tom sighed as he reflected on all these things, running inside his head. What was he thinking when he leaned forward to kiss Daria that first time?

You weren't thinking, Tom, a voice said inside his head. You weren't thinking, period. You just acted on an impulse.

Tom had to agree that the voice was right. He had acted on an impulse. Perhaps a part of him had wanted to find out whether Daria indeed was attracted to him. If so, he'd sure found out.

More likely, however, he'd acted on a deep attraction to Daria. He'd found a lot in common with her. They both liked arthouse types of films, and they both loved to read. Jane, on the other hand, hated to read, and he knew about her taste in films.

Jane! he suddenly realized. Oh no! What am I going to do now? How am I going to tell her I kissed Daria?

That was worth a good hard thinking over.


The Morgendoffer house --

Daria sighed as she finally pulled her head out from under the pillow.

That little voice inside her head had finally been silenced. It took her a good long time to do so, for the voice kept repeating that she liked Tom, over and over again. Only when it got the message that Daria didn't want to think about it anymore did it stop.

Now the question was, What do I do now?

Daria was afraid to mention this to Jane. She knew Jane had gotten paranoid about Daria and Tom, and this was just going to convince Jane that she'd been right to be so paranoid.

But Daria couldn't hide this forever, and she desperately needed to talk to someone, to get some advice on what to do about this. But who could help her?

Quinn? No way! Quinn would be of no help, even if she wanted to help, which she probably didn't.

Her father? He wouldn't be any good either. It wasn't because he wouldn't want to help -- he would, she believed it -- but anyone asking advice from him probably was doing so at his or her own risk, as he was very clueless a lot of the time.

That left her mother. And much as Daria hated to admit it, her mother not only wanted to help, but sometimes actually was helpful, like the time Daria had to do a writing assignment. Besides, maybe her mother had had this kind of thing happen to her before. Yes, her mother would have to do.

Unfortunately, her mother's job probably would keep her out until after Daria went to bed, so asking her mother's advice tonight was not such a good idea.

So, Daria would just have to wait until tomorrow morning, and hope her mother was around to give some useful advice.


Outside the Sloane residence --

Tom kept looking up at the stars, trying to figure out exactly what would be the best thing to do.

Should he keep the kiss silent from Jane? He shook his head. It wasn't right, and it wasn't fair, either. Besides, it probably would not work in the long run -- he just might let it slip in the midst of another of his arguments with Jane.

So, he had to tell Jane about the kiss. And the sooner, the better. But how? And when?

Well, he couldn't tell Jane until after school, that he knew. They went to different schools, and he couldn't get out to see her until after school.

So he'd have to tell her either the following afternoon or that night.

Try the afternoon, that voice inside his head said. If you wait until the following night, she might find out from Daria.

In that instant, not only did he get the idea of when to tell Jane, but how to tell her.

He'd call her about a half-hour after he got home, when he was sure Jane would have gotten out of school as well. If Jane answered, he'd tell her he was coming over to her house. If Trent answered, he'd tell Trent to tell Jane the same thing.

And once he arrived, he'd ask Jane if they could go for a walk. That would give him the perfect opportunity to tell her what had happened, since Jane loved to walk.

So, now that that was settled, now all Tom had to do was to think of the best words he could possibly say -- as if saying anything could make Jane feel any better.

Tom spent the rest of his time outdoors composing the words he was going to say to Jane.


Final notes --

As Daria fans can tell, none of what Tom and Daria planned actually came out the way they wanted it to. Daria couldn't talk with her mother that morning, and blurted out the truth to Jane before Tom got the chance to tell her the truth.

Incidentally, I don't know if Tom really likes watching the stars, but I like astronomy, and I thought it would be a nice touch to work in my love of astronomy in this fic.

This is my first Daria fanfic, though it's not my first fanfic. I am best known for writing fanfics about the animated series "Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego?". I became interested in Daria after a fellow Carmen fan, Erin Mills, suggested I watch the Daria movie "Is It Fall Yet?", and that I watch the episode before that movie (which I later found out was "Dye! Dye! My Darling!"), as it helped explain the movie very well. I did, and by the end of the movie, I was hooked.

In "Dye! Dye! My Darling!", there is a time gap between the time we see Daria getting out of Tom's car and the time we next see her (after the commercial, of course). What we don't know is what happened in between that time period. "Inner Demons" is an imaginative reconstruction of what could've happened. There are flashback sequences of "Dye! Dye! My Darling!", "Fire!", "Mart of Darkness!", and "I Loathe a Parade" that show up in the fic.

Originally, I was planning to write this episode from the point of view of Daria, but after reading Professor Moriarty's fic, "What If ...?", and seeing that there were so few fics from Tom Sloane's point of view at the time, I decided to write this from the point of view of both Daria and Tom.

One final thing before I begin. I don't want the Daria/Trent "shippers" or those who want Daria to be the same as she was in the first season to blow off this fic without even reading it, since it deals with the beginning of the Daria/Tom relationship in the series. People do change, and I'm basically sticking close to the series as it has developed.

Hope you enjoyed this fic!

Belle Book

The end