Reflections in the Hood of a Car


By: Angelinhel


Summary: Tom reflects on his role in "the triangle" after all is said and done.

Legal: I don’t own anything, so don’t bother.




I like to fix things.

My secret shame. It would never do for my elitist family to find out I'm a low-class grease monkey at heart. Not that I think mechanics are low-class, but that's another story. They wonder why I keep that POS car.

Mom and Elsie think I'm looking for a girl who'll love me for me, and not my money. That car is somehow the catalyst for that. Romantic foolishness, and a footnote at best. Dad? Doubt he's even given a thought to it.

Honestly? There is a never-ending amount of things to fix, repair and tweak in that hunk of twisted metal and leather that somehow passes for a vehicle. I poke around and pretend to understand the manuals until I have to have it towed in and fixed properly. I know they laugh at me, but I don't care. Though it's a hopeless goal, keeping that thing running (using that term loosely) makes me feel useful. Very little else does, these days.

What a cliché, rich kid is emotionally unfulfilled, looks to blue-collar activities for satisfaction. Slumming. I hate that word. Better that than "rich kid does drugs and steals stuff." That's Elsie's department, anyway.

It's a good distraction. Somehow my mind stays blank when I'm pretending I know anything about the mess of hoses and metal dealies under the hood. Or using duct tape to hold the frame together. Hours pass without thinking about Elsie or Bromwell or the years of cold emotionless corporate ass- kissing that I know I can't escape.

Or Jane.


How did that all go so horribly wrong? I'm disgusted I even ask myself that. Because I'm a spoiled rich boy who expects everything to go his way. After all my protests to the contrary, it's true, and I've finally admitted it to myself, though a bit more than a day late and a dollar short.

I liked Jane. I did. Suffering from the rich kid's disease, ennui (did I actually use that word? I have been at Fielding too long.), she was refreshing. While her "art" wasn't exactly chalked up to be the next big thing in New York, her passion for it certainly was contagious, at least at first. And her odd mix of self-confidence and low self-esteem was endlessly fascinating. But her art always came first, and spoiled, desperate-for- attention Tom couldn't handle that.

Then there was Daria. She hated me on sight. I couldn't blame her, though I did. Not many friends in her life (no wonder, but let's not be bitter) and here comes some guy to take her best (and only) friend away. Selfish, I thought, that jealousy. I envy it now. I don't think any of my friends would miss me that much. Come to think of it, they didn't.

Jane was seized by her muse more and more often, leaving me to stare at her paint-splattered ceiling like some mental patient locked in a Rorschach nightmare. I still think that blue splotch looks like Nixon. Daria gradually became tepid toward me and we found out we had things in common. Finally, someone I could discuss literature and philosophy with, who didn't just spit back notes from class. Daria understood it. She was refreshing. Again with feeling refreshed. I should've just had a lemonade. Or a cold shower. We had a meaningful, intellectual relationship.

Therein lies the mistake. Relationship. With Jane off consorting with her muse, poor lonely Tom sought companionship elsewhere. Who more convenient than her best friend? And Daria was a challenge, what an ego boost to be the one and only to crack that armor. Sure she had a thing for Trent, but a crush wasn't the same as making out in your best friend's boyfriend's car.

I admit it. That first kiss was purely selfish. Jane wasn't responding anymore and I was bored. I just wanted to see if I could get Daria to do it. I wasn't even sure I liked her romantically. Screw up an unusually special friendship because you're bored. Way to go, Tom. And Daria had to go blabbing to Jane, damn morals. If she had waited until we had broken, it would have ended the same and the fireworks wouldn't have been nearly as spectacular.

Then we dated. Dated! With Jane right there. I still can't believe Daria would do that to Jane. No, I can. Poor, naïve Daria, she honestly didn't know how much it hurt her. Of course, I took full advantage of that fact to keep seeing her. Tom always gets what he wants. But now I have neither.

Ah, well. It wouldn't have worked out. Jane is.well, Jane. She needs someone who'll put up with that artist temperament and the long bouts of being ignored. I'm sure she'll be quite popular in college. Daria needs to grow up. For all her "maturity" and cynicism, she doesn't know jack about how the real world works. That Bromwell thing really got her. Wake up Daria, you can have all the precious morals and ethics you want but at the end of the day, it's either give in, compromise (if you're lucky) or you get eaten.

Is that really why I wanted to see Daria in the first place? Because I knew she was missing a big part of the picture and I could lead her to the truth? I do like to fix things. Hero Tom saving lonely cynical girls from the illusions they've created. What a balm for my poor disparaging spirit. Better lay off the antifreeze, Tom, you're getting delusional. Or kidney failure is setting in. Whichever.

Yes, I made mistakes, horrible mistakes. Selfish, unforgivable mistakes. But in the end, Jane and Daria are a little wiser and better friends. Pat on the back, Tom, you taught them both a bit about life and strengthened their relationship even more. Just keep telling yourself that, you bastard.

Yeah, I do like to fix things, but like all little boys, I like to break things, too.