Disclaimer: Daria and associated characters are owned by MTV. This is fan fiction written for entertainment only. No money or other negotiable currency or goods have been exchanged.

This was written for Round 1 of the The Angst Guy/The Bug Guy challenge. Basically organized by the denizens of PPMB to annoy and amuse the two of us.

The challenge: write a short (between 1,000 and 2,000 words) fic about Mystik Spiral post-IICY? Here's the catch: You must write it in the style of your opponent.

Richard Lobinske

While My Guitar Gently Bleeds

The miles of interstate cruised gracefully by as Trent Lane, lead singer and guitarist for the up and coming band, Mystik Spiral, drove the group's trusty van, "The Tank," to their first gig in Boston. The cracked-open window let in a bit of the brisk November air to keep him feeling refreshed. The voice of James Brown came to his mind as he drove, singing I Feel Good.

Trent looked at the band's bass guitarist, Jesse, in the passenger seat, staring out the window in thought. In the mirror, he could see the band's drummer, Max, and keyboardist, Nick, in the back seat of the van, deep in a serious discussion about balancing the percussion with the keyboard on one of the songs. The band had been transformed from the disaster they had been six months earlier. Now, they were clean, well-dressed, and working together like a team. Trent grinned. I don't feel good...I feel great!

Like the band, the van was also in top shape: new engine, new paint job, real interior, and secure cargo hooks to keep the gear from sliding around. Together, the van and the band were rebuilt, restored, and ready to roll.

The transformation had started the summer before. Trent's younger sister, Jane, had been accepted to Boston Fine Arts College for mid-year enrollment. He knew that with the last responsible person in the Lane household leaving, his days as a slacker musician were numbered. He would be on his own for the first time in his life. The thought terrified him.

Jane had found a couple of jobs and was putting in fifty- to sixty-hour weeks in a desperate attempt to save money for college. Without her around to remind him, things had gone downhill. He rarely made it to band practice. He missed gigs, he sometimes forgot to eat, and he found he was increasingly alone.

One night, Jesse, Nick and Max cornered him in the basement and gave him an ultimatum. Either start making at least his old level of effort to practice and show up for gigs, or he was out of the band.

At first, he'd angrily told them to get the hell out of his house and to stick their demands somewhere. However, as he sat alone in the large, silent house that night, Trent realized that they were almost right. He didn't need to get back to his old ways. He needed to do better than before. He needed to grow the hell up and act like a real musician.

Feeling a surge of vitality, he called them the next morning with a promise to do better. A promise that he not only kept, but got them to join. They practiced eight hours a day. They polished their look; they wrote new material and mercilessly tossed out a lot of the old songs. The effort was worth it. They started getting calls for more, and better-paying, gigs. They bought better clothes, they fixed The Tank, they bought up-to-date audio performance equipment.

While the band was working and improving, a small idea had crept back into Trent's mind. An idea he'd pushed back years before, because he was such a useless slacker. At times, he wondered how he could have been so foolish to let something like that go, just so he could get a little extra sleep.

The band arrived in Boston safely and began to set up. Another thing nice about the new gigs, the professional nightclubs had stage hands to help with setup, and had equipment to plug into that wasn't outdated in 1972.

By early evening, the band was warmed up and Trent was ready to begin. He looked out from the stage at the packed crowd. Packed crowd. Man, does that sound good. But tonight, it's all about one person.

Trent scanned found the one person in the crowd he was looking for. The petite, auburn-haired girl...no...young woman...was seated toward the back, away from the speakers. Trent remembered fondly how her round glasses framed the most expressive and alluring brown eyes he'd ever seen. Trent could see that college had been good to her. Instead of the old, concealing green jacket, she had on a shapely sweater with a medium length black skirt, black stockings, and boots. She looked more alive and less shy than the person who had left Lawndale only a couple months earlier.

Trent kept an eye on her through the entire set. Three years. Three long years I've waited. Now's the time. I'm going somewhere, I've cleaned up, and I'm a man she can be interested in.

He paused and took a breath. "For our last song, I'm going to debut something I wrote for the most wonderful woman in my universe. I've waited a long time to sing this."

Trent and the band launched into a soft, soulful love song of incredible beauty and subtlety. All but the coldest hearts that heard it were touched; they all knew the great love he had for the woman of his dreams. When he was finished, the crowd rose to their feet in applause.

As the band was breaking down the gear with the help of the stage crew, Trent watched for the young woman, Daria Morgendorffer. Finally, she got through the crowd to the stage. Trent dropped down to sit on the edge so he could talk to her. "Hey, Daria. Glad you could make it."

She gave him one of her Mona Lisa smiles and his heart melted. "Trent, how could I miss it? The Spiral's first concert in Boston. You sounded great. Much better than you did last summer. Jane tells me you've been seriously practicing. It shows."

"Well, with Janey coming up here to Boston soon, I figured I needed to finally make a real life for myself. Plus, I also had another reason to be inspired to be a better man."

"Well, you succeeded. I am really impressed. Trent, did you write that last song?"

Shyly smiling, Trent said, "Yes."

"That has to be your best work yet. It was very touching. She must be your other inspiration." Daria leaned against the stage next to him.

Trent felt a powerful urge just to reach over and hold her hand. To feel the gentle warmth that he knew she kept inside.

Laughing softly, she said, "If you had sung that song two years ago, I would have sworn it was about me." She laughed again. "Isn't that funny? Back then I had the most embarrassing crush on you."

Trent smiled. Watching that crush and not doing anything was the hardest thing I've done in my life. I wasn't worthy of you then. Now, I hope I am.

"You were too oblivious to notice. But, it kind of feels good to get that out now." She looked at her watch. "Trent, I'm sorry, I can't stay long. My date's waiting for me in the lobby."

Date? The word felt like a kick to his ribs. "Jane hasn't mentioned anything about you dating anyone."

"That's because I haven't told her. You know how she gets. But now she'll know, so I'll have to put up with endless questions." Daria waved and walked away. "That was a great concert. It's been really nice seeing you, take care. Please say 'hi' to Jane for me when you get home. I can't wait for her to get up here."

After a short distance, Daria turned and sincerely said, "It sounds like you found somebody really special. I hope she enjoys that song when you get a chance to play it for her."

Dumbstruck, Trent watched her leave. Slowly, he could feel fragments of his shattered heart dropping away. When you get a chance to play it for her.

"Mr. Lane? Mr. Lane?"

Trent started and looked at the new voice. It came from a man in his early forties wearing a tailor-fit casual suit, holding out his hand. "Mr. Lane. I'm from Tony Records. You sent us a demo CD of your band's work and I thought I'd come by to hear you in a concert. That last song is a blockbuster. I've been around long enough to know that it will go to gold, minimum. You make that song your first recording, and I'll sign you right now."

Trent looked past him at the door, just in time to see Daria pass out of view, gazing into the eyes of a handsome young man who had an arm around her waist.

The last fragments of his heart fell away. "Sorry, mister. But, that song will never be sung again."

Thanks to my wife Louise for beta reading.

April 2005