Too Late


A Daria Fanfic by Professor Moriarity


Legal stuff:  I make no money from this, so don’t sue me, MTV.  I’m poor, it wouldn’t be worth it anyway.


Continuity:  This ‘fic takes place after my ‘fic “Waiting,” but before “Conversation.”




            “And that should just about do it,” Jesse said, making the final adjustment to his brother Danny’s computer.

“Try and boot it up now.”


            Danny restarted the computer.  “Hey, you fixed it!  Cool!  How’d you do it?”


            Jesse shrugged.  “It wasn’t hard.  All it needed was a BIOS upgrade and some updated drivers.”


            “Cool, thanks bro!” Danny said, and immediately started a game of King’s Quest.


            Jesse looked at the clock.  It was almost time for Mystik Spiral’s gig.  He’d have to hurry or he’d be late.



            Later, at the Zen, Jesse and Max were discussing motherboards as they were setting up. 


            "Thank God for Plug'n'Play," Jesse said


"Yeah.  I was reading the installation guide for my modem, and even thinking about messing with the jumpers gave

me cold chills," Max said, and shuddered.


"Wuss," Nick said, and smirked.


"Shut up," Max replied, glaring.


            “You guys ready?” Trent asked.  Max and Nick nodded, but Jesse didn’t say anything.  “Jesse, you ready?” Trent asked again.


            “Yeah,” Jesse said distractedly.  He’d just spotted Jane in the audience, and was having trouble putting together a coherent thought.  It was a good thing he knew all the songs they were playing tonight; he could just put himself on “autopilot.” Trent strummed the opening chord to “Icebox Woman,” and Jesse let his mind wander.  Lord knew his mind wouldn’t be able to do anything else, not with Jane around.  Whenever Jesse was around Jane, his brain seemed to slow down, and he could barely put two words together.  He’d always liked Jane, ever since he first met her, but when she hit high school his liking became a full-blown attraction.  But how could he have a relationship with her, if he couldn’t even talk to her?  Jesse remembered a couple of times he’d really blown his chances. 


Like on the way to Alternapalooza….


“There's a wall up ahead maybe there must be houses behind there. Daria, you stay here with Trent, Jesse and I will find a phone and call for help. Great plans, huh?” Jane said. 


Jesse started panicking internally. ‘Ohmigod ohmigod and Jane...alone...’


Then Jane walked off, and Jesse followed her.  When they reached the wall, they found nothing behind it but a cornfield.


“Well that’s going to help us.  Great, just great,” said Jane.  She plopped down and sighed.


‘Can’t speak...must speak...’  “Maybe we should go back,” Jesse finally managed to spit out.  ‘Stupid!’ was his next thought. ‘You could have had a chance to spend more time alone with her!’


“Nah, not just yet,” Jane said casually.  Jesse’s heart started pounding and his throat went dry.


“Wh...Why not?” Jesse asked.


“I want to give Trent and Daria some time alone together.”


“Trent and Daria?”


“Yeah, I think she likes him.  Whenever she’s around him, instead of making cutting, sarcastic remarks like she usually does, Daria uses monosyllabic words. And I’ve caught her staring vacantly into space like a deer caught in headlights when he’s around,” Jane said.  Jesse could sympathize with both of those things.


“So, how are things going with you?” Jane asked.


Jesse wanted to tell her about the band’s new equipment, or the computer he’d built for his little brother.  Something intelligent, interesting, and witty.  What came out was, “Things are cool.” 


“Oh, okay.” Jane and Jesse sat in silence for a few minutes.  ‘SAY SOMETHING TO HER!!’ Jesse’s mind screamed.


“So, um, you still like art?” Jesse heard himself ask.  ‘IDIOT!’


Jane gave him a strange look.  “Last time I checked.”


“Cool.”  They sat in silence for a few more minutes before Jane stood up and said, “Let’s go.”


She and Jesse walked back to the Tank, where it looked like Trent and Daria were having a pretty intense conversation. 


“Yo,” Jane said in greeting.


“So?” asked Trent.


“There was nothing behind that wall but a cornfield. And the corn wasn't very helpful,” Jane told him.


“Helpful Corn! That's a cool name for the band,” Jesse blurted out.  He mentally smacked himself yet again.


“Even better than Mystik Spiral, huh, Daria,” Trent said.  He winked at Daria and she smiled.


Jesse was envious.  It was pretty obvious that Trent and Daria had bonded, the way he and Jane had failed to.  If only his mouth would work around her.


Jesse shook himself out of his memory just as Mystik Spiral started “Spite.”  He grinned.  The trip hadn’t been a complete waste, however, even if they had missed the concert.  The memory of Jane falling asleep against his chest was one of his most treasured memories.  Unlike the time at the flea market…


Jesse was absolutely thrilled.  Jane and Daria had volunteered to come to the flea market with him and Trent to help sell his dad’s old records.  He was so excited, he couldn’t sleep.  While Trent stayed up and continued his sound experiments, Jesse found a mirror and practiced things to say to Jane. 

            He was even more thrilled when Jane offered to go and get food with him.  This time, Trent and Daria had left first, so Jesse knew it wasn’t because Jane wanted to give those two time alone.  Could she...could she want to spend time with him?  Fortune, however, was not on his side.  Once again, his nerves and voice betrayed him.


“You see, my theory is that our primitive hunting instinct has no outlet in modern society,” Jane said as they walked along the aisles.


           What Jesse wanted to say was, “Oh, I don’t know.  I think the hunting instinct gets sublimated into the kind of seek-and-destroy sports such as football and rugby.”  What came out was, “Cool.”


            “So rather than stalking animals, we substitute it with the shopping experience. And hunt for objects,” Jane continued.


           ‘That’s a pretty interesting theory,’ Jesse thought.  What he responded was, “ Cool.”  His safe fallback word.


           “And then Jesse, while we're asleep, those objects come to life and plot their secret takeover our civilization. April 1st, 2007. That's the day they make their move!” Jane said facetiously. 


            ‘Oh, no! She thinks I’m not paying attention! Quick, say something witty and apologize!’ Jesse began to panic.  Once again, however, the words would not come.  “Cool.”


            Jesse winced as he shook off that memory.  It wasn’t something he liked to concentrate on, but whenever Jane was around, it seemed to resurface.  His fingers plucked the guitar strings without conscious guidance.  He closed his eyes, and started singing.


            “Who shot the hippies? Who locked them in a zoo? Who gagged the beatniks? Who filled their mouths with glue? Who crushed the bohos? Who turned their work to poo? Hey, Mr. Normal, it was you!” Jesse and Trent sang. 


Jesse let the music fill him, and clear his head.  He made a decision.  He’d do it.  He’d seek Jane out and talk to her.  He resolved that for once, even if it was just this once, he’d have an intelligent conversation with her.  No more having his tongue freeze and his mouth go dry.


“Hey, Mr. Normal, it was YOU!” Jesse finished the song with Trent.  He was so caught up in making plans, however, that he didn’t hear what Trent said next.  He figured, though, that he’d better say something.   


“This was the first set!” Jesse yelled with enthusiasm he didn’t feel, pumping his fist in the air. 


            “Uh, yeah,” said Trent, looking at him strangely.  Jesse wanted to kick himself.  It had obviously been the wrong thing to say.  He sighed.  He wasn’t off to a great start.  But his resolve was firm.  He was going to talk to Jane, now.  He looked for Jane at the back of the crowd….


            …And spotted her, just in time to see another guy approach and start talking to her.  Jesse felt like he’d been gut-stabbed.  Jesse watched, frozen with horror, as Jane chatted with the guy, grinning and laughing.  Then, Jane left with him.


            “Too late,” Jesse whispered to himself.  “Too late.” He closed his eyes and felt his heart shatter into a million pieces. 





Author’s Notes:  I’ve been tossing the idea around for this ‘fic since I first saw “Jane’s Addition”, the episode that this ‘fic takes place during.  The flashbacks are from “The Road Worrier” and “That Was Then, This is Dumb.” Danny, Jesse’s little brother, is first mentioned in The Daria Database.  I’d like to thank all my beta readers, especially MeScribble, Desanera, and Ben Yee.  Also, I’d like to thank my friend Kitty for writing the technobabble for this ‘fic.  Right now, I’m working on a ‘fic where Daria and Jane attend a sci-fi convention (and you won’t believe the reason), and a parody of “The Princess Bride.”  I’m also tossing around ideas for bringing Ashley J. Williams to Lawndale for Halloween, and having Daria and Jane meet Jay and Silent Bob.