posted on 4-Jan-2003 1:00:26 AM by DMartinez
So I'm not so good with the teleplay-like format that other Daria ficwriters use but I hope breaking it up this way will help in keeping with the format of the show.

Author: DMartinez
Email: shockerdm⊕icqmail.com
Disclaimer: Characters portrayed belong to MTV. No infringement intended.
Rating: NC-17
Summary: Tragedy befalls the Morgendorffers and Daria has trouble dealing. (Trying to write it post-high school)
Notes: *Italics indicate thought and/or voice-over. * Indicate person thinking and/or voice-over. Location/Location indicates telephone conversations or travel.

Hard to Heart


*Daria. Lane Residence, Trent's room.

Every breath she inhaled was tinged with the scent of sweat and that earthy smell she had come to associate with Trent. He took a step forward and a crate toppled them to the side, smashing her back into the wall. *That actually kind of hurt. The remainder of their clothes were removed as quickly as they could manage. Her panties tore as he ripped them off. *That too. Gripping her legs, he stepped forward and thrust with a grunt. *And especially that. Daria cried out in surprise at the invasion. Trent bent his head into the crook of her neck and whispered things that she couldn't quite hear, but they were only meant to soothe and that they did. A tattoo on his back rippled as he moved within her body slowly. Daria squeezed her eyes shut as the pain subsided, her glasses were slipping down her nose as the sweat poured down her face. She clung to him for dear life as every thrust jarred her against the wall, making a soft thud every time. *That was never comfortable. Trent sucked on the soft skin along her shoulder and hiked her leg up over his hip. He stepped away from the wall and tried to move to the bed without disrupting anything but ended up tripping over the fallen crate and falling onto her on the bed. *That actually felt better than it looked. There his rhythm rocked the mattress into the shelf that served as his headboard, knocking it into the wall. As if sensing a scream was about to rip itself from her lungs, Trent captured her mouth.

Sound of record scratching. *Needless to say, there's a story that led up to this animal-like rutting between Trent and I. I've been blackmailed into sharing the event. I would have told the story anyway but my version would have probably avoided the mating ritual. It all started when I came home for summer vacation.

Act I Scene I
May 16, 2002. Wednesday morning.


*Daria, ^Helen. Morgendorffer Residence, Kitchen.

"Morning." Helen Morgendorffer sang out as she entered the kitchen for her morning cup of coffee and a frozen waffle. Daria barely raised an eyebrow in acknowledgement, chewing her cereal as slow as possible was taking up her morning brain power. Two semesters at college had reduced her mind to freshman-standard mush. Quinn focused on her new issue of Waif so hard that no one and nothing existed but the scatterings of scant bright cloth that would make the scene within the next few days. Summer break was coming up this next week and she had to have the right bathing suits for the right parties. Jake was so involved in his paper that his tie dipped into his coffee cup and he never noticed. Helen glared at her family. ^Selfish, oblivious children… single-minded husband… I have to do everything. I have to initiate everything. I can't even be appreciated at home. Taking her breakfast with her, Helen rushed out the door for work, barely managing to let people know where she was going, if they bothered to pay attention.

Daria took a deep breath and let it out slowly. *Yes, blood returning to brain. Knowledge slowly seeping into the mind where it will become useful ammunition, with which to confuse other people. Words. Concepts. Good. Very good. "Where'd mom go?"

"I don't think she's come downstairs yet, kiddo." Jake set aside his paper and then listened as a car sped out of the driveway. "Huh. Maybe she's gone to work already. What's up, Daria?"

"Nothing." She rubbed at her face and tried to wake up. She hadn't felt this tired since right before finals. *This must be the Morgendorffer madness making its presence known. Soon I will wake up and find myself middle-aged and trapped in a career I hate because I slept-walked through college, the condition having finally fully set in.

"Bye Daddy! I'm off to school." Quinn leapt from her chair. "Can I have some money for lunch?" Jake opened his wallet and a sudden blur emptied it before Quinn vanished. *She's getting better at that. I need to learn her secret… unless, of course, I have to trek up the mountain of Wudan and flirt with one of the masters. "Thanks Daddy!"

Jake put the empty wallet away before he stood. "Um, what are your plans for today, kiddo?"

"An interview for Waif." Daria cocked an eyebrow at him. "They want to know how I manage to juggle my studies, my successful career as an exotic dancer, and my real career in military intelligence."

"Really?" His eyebrows shot up and then furrowed. ^Jake! Can't you tell when someone makes a joke? "oh. Good one, sweetie."

"I was going to relax for today. I'll think about getting a job tomorrow." She sagged at the table. *Getting a job in Lawndale sucks. "I need to give my brain time to recover from finals."

"Good plan, kiddo. Don't push yourself too hard. Then you'll stress yourself out, do things that seem right at the time but ultimately stress you out even more and before you know it, you've burned yourself out and landed yourself in a profession you can't hack with people you can't stand… all because your old man kept pushing and pushing—"

"Dad! You're late for work."

"Oh yeah! Later, kiddo!"

*That was close. Daria sighed in the silence of her house. "Whoo."

Scene II
May 16, 2002. Wednesday afternoon.


*Daria, ^Trent. Lane/Morgendorffer Residence, Trent's room/Daria's room.

Ring. Ring. Ring. Quack-quack. Quack-quack. Quack-quack. Trent picked his head up off the bed and reached for the phone. ^Too far. Can't reach. Damn, I got it. "'Lo?"

"Trent?" That was the last voice she expected to hear when she dialed the Lane home… then again she shouldn't have been surprised that he was home.

"Daria?" ^Whoa. Flashback. He tried to force his eyes open but they just weren't working. ^Am I dreaming?

"Is Jane home yet?"

"Um…" ^Janey? Home? Isn't she at college in Boston?

"When was the last time you left your room?"

"What's today?" ^Friday? Damn eyes won't open.

"Wednesday."

"Um…"

*Just like I remembered. At least Trent hasn't changed much. "Can you tell her that I called when she does get home?"

"Sure. Hold on a second." Trent felt around until he found his pen. Blinking at his hand, he tried to find a clean spot to write the message. ^Dad's in Madrid. Penny's in Guatemala… Janey's coming home from school. Right. There's a spot. Daariia caalledd-- "Home from college?"

"For the summer."

"That's cool. You're… like educated, now." ^That doesn't sound right.

"At least that's what they told me before the brain washing session…"

He let out a laugh, quickly followed by a cough. Those late nights screaming into the microphone were affecting his voice more than ever. "Good one."

"I gotta go. When do you expect Jane to get in?"

"Don't know. She hasn't called in a day or two but I’m sure she'll be home eventually."

*Typical. "Later Trent."

"Later."

Daria hung up the phone and groaned. "Where are you Jane?"

Scene III
May 16, 2002. Wednesday afternoon.


Law offices of Vitale, Davis, Horowitz, Riordan, Schrecter & Schrecter, Helen's office.

Helen glared at her assistant when she stopped her rants about the day's errands. Marianne held the phone receiver in her hand, looking a little nervous about interrupting. "What is it?"

"Your sister, Mrs. Morgendorffer. It sounds urgent."

"Fine, I'll take it." Helen took the phone and put it to her ear. Her weary voice greeted her sister. "Yes, Rita, what is it?"

"You must be psychic."

"Amy?" Helen took a seat.

"I need a favor."

"A favor?"

TBC

[ edited 5 time(s), last at 20-Jan-2003 3:09:21 PM ]
posted on 4-Jan-2003 12:01:58 PM by DMartinez
Glad to see I'll have an audience here. It is complete but I'm taking my time getting it out. '-)
posted on 5-Jan-2003 2:13:12 PM by DMartinez
Act II Scene I
May 16, 2002. Wednesday afternoon.


Morgendorffer Residence, Living Room.

Daria entered the living room to find her mother home and reading something. "Mom? Did I zone out? Is it the apocalypse already?"

"Huh?" Helen blinked at her.

"It's two o'clock and you're home, and to my knowledge you haven't accepted a synthetic attachment to your brain and thus are not working."

"Oh. Oh right." Helen patted the couch. "I got a call from your Aunt Amy today. She's not doing so well."

"Is she sick?" Daria remained standing despite her mother's constant efforts to get her to sit.

"Yes, she is." She raised the pamphlet. Living with Leukemia.

Daria sank onto the couch. "How serious is it?"

"Well…" Helen took a deep breath and shifted her eyes to the pamphlet clenched in her hand. "At the moment… she's fine… if that's what the doctors call fine. Amy assured me that there was nothing to worry about for the immediate future but you know how Amy is, always…" She took a look at how stricken her daughter was and immediately ceased criticizing her sister's ways. "I think you know how Amy can be. I picked this up on my way home. I've made appointments for the three of us girls to go see the doctor tomorrow. Dr. Phillips, I think. Wasn't he the doctor you saw a while back?"

"What?" Daria's eyes bugged out of her head.

"As it turns out, my sister is a touch anemic and scheduled blood transfusions could go a long way to keeping her health up. I'm pulling Quinn out of school tomorrow and the three of us can be tested for compatibility." Helen's eyes dropped to her lap once more, only this time there were tears in them. "Though I don't suppose my blood would do anyone any good. If only I hadn't been so wild in my youth."

"Mom, I'm sure--"

"Rita and Erin are getting tested as well. If Amy continues to… then we won't tire out one member of the family so easily." Helen kept talking. "I'm going to go lie down. If Eric calls, tell him I'll call him back. I've deferred five of my cases to Sheryl." She rose to her feet and disappeared up the stairs. Daria could only stare at the coffee table in shock.

Scene II
May 17, 2002. Thursday morning.


*Daria, ^Jane. BFAC/Morgendorffer Residence, Jane's Dorm/Daria's Room.

Jane held the phone to her ear as she set the painting aside to dry. The phone rang five times before someone picked up. "Wow. Did Quinn die or something?"

"Hi Jane." Daria mumbled.

"You sound so glad to hear from me. Trent told me you called the house looking for me, yesterday. Any reason for that?" A sly smirk crossed her face as she watched for Daria's answer.

Daria slid her eyes around the room. Jane sounded too cheery to be burdened with sorrowful knowledge… at the moment. *I can't tell her this over the phone anyway. "I was bored… and the thought of dragging Trent into the land of the living before his normally scheduled stirring had appealing merits."

Jane chuckled and wiped her hands on a dirty cloth. "I'll make sure he knows that you've gotten him back for the fan club comment last year."

"Make sure you do." *Great… now, I'll have some sort of weird hang-up based off something Jane actually said.

"So, how in the world is it that the phone had to even ring before anyone answered?" ^I thought that phone was surgically attached to Quinn's ear.

"Family stuff." Daria mumbled. "Are you still at school?"

^Change of subject noted. "Yep. Emergency homework assignment from Hell. Professor Morgan refused to accept my term paper in the form of a painting that captured the points of the paper and so much more."

"Isn't Professor Morgan your English professor?"

"Good point." Jane shrugged. "I had to spin out a yarn at his request. He was willing to let me have two more days to get it in. Reasonable considering I technically had three weeks to get it done in the first place. I spent today painting."

"Good time management."

"It is. Ralph Murphy from down the hall is finishing up the paper as we speak. You remember him, right?"

"Ew. What'd you have to do for him?" *There's something about Ralph that always reminds me of Upchuck. Maybe because, to this day, they are the only two guys who take liberties with their words around me and assume I would ever want them to do anything to me.

"I gave him a pair of your panties."

"Jane!" *Which ones? "Which ones?"

"The ones with the bows on the corners that you refused to wear and tried to hide in my craft box."

"Jane!" *A gag gift gone awry. Sexy underwear is not for people who don't like to be touched.

"If your underwear is the price I have to pay for my term paper, then I'm willing to pay it. Too bad you never wore them, it might have gotten me an A paper instead of his patented B paper." Jane coughed suddenly. ^One more chance to get to that family stuff before she clams up forever. "So, home to stay for the first time since last fall. How's it feel?"

"Strange but the oh-so-familiar Morgendorffer traits remain. I think my mom was close to losing it yesterday morning. She left without saying goodbye… Who knows? Maybe she did. I don't think any of us were paying attention."

"Helen will make it. She's a tough cookie. Which reminds me, where did I leave those cookies?"

"I took them. I needed something to eat on the bus ride home. Sorry."

"You know… having you know where my dorm is wasn't such a good idea after all. Not even my cookies are safe from you." Jane sighed. "You keeping the room in the fall?"

"I don't want to think about it but probably. Hopefully my new roommate won't be a bulimic head case. That's why there was never food in our room." Daria griped. *There's nothing more disgusting than watching your roommate binge then suddenly rush to the bathroom to purge. At least I didn't have to listen to it. "She informed me that she would not be sharing a room with me in the future. I said 'good riddance.' If I thought living with Quinn was bad…"

"Crap. Phone card running low. I'll be home on—"

The dial tone rang in Daria's ear as she sat up in bed. "Jane? Dammit." *I hate phone cards.

"Daria! Come downstairs please!" Helen called up the stairs.

Scene III
May 17, 2002. Thursday afternoon.


*Daria. Cedars of Lawndale Hospital.

Daria watched the tech examine her arms. He held her hands and stretched her arms and examined the insides of her forearms. *What the hell are you looking for? A map? He looked up at her. "This is going to hurt."

"Why does it have to hurt?" Eyes narrowed at him.

"Because you've got bad veins." The tech told her. "Your sister's veins were visible. I didn't have problems with hers." *Figures that even her veins would be cuter than mine. More glares. "I'm just telling you that you're going to be a hard stick. We're only going to take a little." He held up two tubes. "These almost full. How are you with the sight of blood?"

"Yours or mine?"

"Funny girl." He nodded and picked up a needle. He poised the tube on the end and went to work. "Squeeze the ball." He furrowed his brow. "Stop."

The needle punctured her skin and she had to wince. "Ow."

"Told you." He shrugged and watched blood fill the tube. He popped the tube out and pushed the other in. When that was filled, he popped it out and then removed the needle. "Wasn't so bad."

"If you're a vampire."

He stared at her for a moment. "Do me a huge favor. Don't ever go into medicine. You have horrible bedside manner."

"Yours is questionable, as well." Daria closed her elbow over the gauze he had placed over the withdrawal site. "Can I leave now?"

"Wait fifteen minutes, eat your cookie. If you feel dizzy when you sit up, stay seated and call for someone."

"You took hardly any blood. How is that going to affect me in any significant way?"

"You'd be surprised. It happens sometimes. It's just a precaution."

"Right. So, in other words, if I stand and pass out, you'll be able to say that you warned me."

"Something like that."

*Great.

Scene IV
May 17, 2002. Thursday afternoon.


*Daria, ^Trent. Lane/Morgendorffer Residence, Trent's Car/Living Room.

Daria found herself on the Lane doorstep before she could remember if she should have called first. She really needed Jane. She took a seat on the front step and buried her face in her hands. Her head was near to exploding. She needed Jane. After who knew how long she had sat there, the door opened and someone hesitated before taking a seat next to her. She recognized the manly smell and wanted to die. *My life is a huge joke, isn't it? Go on. Tell me I'm a loser. She should have just stayed home. There was a good long silence before they spoke. "Janey's not here."

"I figured… after I got here." Daria mumbled, not bothering to look up.

"I was heading out. You need a ride home?"

"Thanks."

Trent got up and waited until Daria gathered her wits about her. "I hope you don't mind but the car hasn't been doing so well. We need to give it a push."

"I don't have to push it from behind and then run to jump in, do I?"

"I hope not. I just push it from the open door and then jump in. Less work." Trent reached in and put the keys in the ignition. He and Daria pushed the car steadily into the street before he reached back in and turned the key. It hummed so they both jumped in and the second his foot hit the gas, the car roared to life. The ride was silent for two blocks. "Looking good, Daria. I guess college agrees with you."

"Guess it does." Daria shrugged.

"Did you do something?"

"What?"

"Different. You look different." Trent shrugged. "Maybe it's just been a long time since I've seen you but you look different… older and wiser maybe. Maybe cause I didn't see you when you came down for Christmas break."

"Maybe." Daria shrugged again. *Wow, he was coherent last Christmas. "Things got busy and then Jane was getting ready to leave for Boston and all. I don't think you were actually here when I did come over."

Trent nodded and cocked an eyebrow. ^Whoa. Something's wrong. "Janey said it'd be a few days before she came home. Something about puke and a term paper, maybe a painting."

"You mean Ralph's finishing her term paper and she's finishing a painting?"

"Could be it." Trent nodded as he pulled onto her street. "Janey just doesn't seem clear to me these days. Must be all that college learning." ^A smile? Good comeback?

*It must be earlier than usual. Wisely choosing not to comment on his comment, Daria cleared her throat. "When did she say it would be a few days? Today? Yesterday?"

"Don't remember." He shook his head. "I forgot to write it down." He looked at his hands. He squinted at one. "See, I remembered to write down that you called for her."

"She called me back this morning but her phone card ran out before I could find out when she'd be coming back." Daria sighed heavily and put her hand on the door handle as he pulled to a stop. For some reason, she couldn't make herself open the door. ^That's weird.

"Hey Daria?" Trent fixed his eyes on the steering wheel.

When he didn't continue, she prompted him. "Yeah?"

"You know that you and I are, like… friends, right?" His eyes rose to hers. For the millionth time she wondered where those grey eyes had come from if both his parents had blue eyes. "We're cool and everything, right?"

"Yeah." *Strangest… and longest conversation we've ever had.

"So, like… if you ever need something… I'd try to get it for you." His head leaned forward as if to stress his point.

"Thanks. I appreciate it." The level of intensity in the car was just enough to make her open the door. *There, that's more familiar. "Thanks for the ride."

"No problem. Any time." Just then, the engine cut out. Daria motioned for him to turn the ignition. "Thanks Daria."

"Hey. The friend thing works both ways, right?"

"Right." ^Least she seems better.

Daria pushed from her door. After a few yards, the car sputtered to life. With a quick wave, she shut the door and made her way back to her house. She knew that her life had intensified when she saw the old car sitting out front. The second she opened the front door, she could hear her Aunt Amy commenting on the décor of the living room. "It's just so… normal."

"I suppose."

*That was it? Mom, she's attacking your choice of decorations. Helen left her answer as such, which went a long way to saying how she was feeling about the whole situation. Daria sighed and entered the room. Amy gave her a nod and a wink. "So, I'm just in the neighborhood. I thought I'd stop in and say hi."

"You've got an awfully big neighborhood." Daria commented and sat across from the Barksdale sisters. "A postcard would have been easier."

"Daria, please." Helen scolded half-heartedly. "You're being rude."

"No, it's okay. At least some one has remained sane and unchanged by my news." Amy offered Daria a smile. "Which rust bucket did I hear drop you off? It sounded like it needed CPR."

"Not CPR. Just a good swift kick in the ass." Daria managed a smirk.

"That old Caddy finally fall apart on Tom?"

*Ugh. Note to self: Call Aunt Amy more often with updates on my non-love life. "I wouldn't know. We broke up last spring."

"Oh?" Her eyebrows shot up but quickly recovered.

*And I thought the explanations were over. "He went to Bromwell and I went to Raft. I decided that the moment I got bored with our situation, it would be best to part. No need to go off to separate colleges on a bad note… although… I surprised quite a few people by ending it first." Daria smiled sadly.

"Good to know that women still get things right from time to time." Amy looked to Helen. "I don't suppose you weighed in on this."

"Actually, by the time I knew anything about it, I was considering what wallpaper to put in her room." Helen shook her head.

"I'm grateful that you left it alone, thank you." Daria cleared her throat and relaxed a little. She waited and waited in silence. They were trying to see who could wait the longest to bring up her ride once more. *Damn Barksdale blood. They're all like bloodhounds for gossip.

"So, who did drop you off?" Helen asked, eyebrow raised. She lost.

"A friend." Daria smirked.

"Jane's not back from school. She called while you were gone, today. I might add that you had us worried when you got out of the car and kept walking passed the house." Helen pressed.

"I confess. It was Marcello, my Italian lover. We met in the bushes around the corner." Daria paused and suddenly her mother rolled her eyes. "What?"

"Daria. If you really wanted to keep it to yourself, at least pick a name you haven't used with her yet. It's the little inconsistencies that will get you caught." Amy butted in gracefully. "I read your story when your mom faxed me a copy. It was really good."

"Dammit, now I'll have to convince Marcello to change his name."

"Daria." Helen sighed heavily. She was obviously wearying of the game.

"Mom."

"Oh for heaven's…" Helen took a deep breath and seemed to be giving herself a pep talk.

Daria had to do it. No one else was bringing it up but they were all thinking about it. "So, Aunt Amy, how are you feeling?"

"A little tired but that's to be expected after a long drive."

"Any meds yet?"

"For the CLL, no, not yet. Iron for the anemia. I'm nowhere near death yet. Doctor Covingen says that blood transfusions will go a long way to preserving my current health. I told him that receiving Barksdale blood could only set me back a few decades evolution-wise but I think he thought I was joking… until he and I spoke to Dr. Phillips. I believe he's met your mother." Amy met her sister's look with one of her own. "I only meant it in the best possible way."

"Daria? Who brought you home?" The elder Barksdale tried to shift the attention back to her oldest daughter.

"Trent, Mom."

"Trent." Helen pondered the name a while. It seemed familiar.

"Jane Lane's brother, Helen." Amy winked at her niece, who did not seem to appreciate the gesture.

"Oh. I remember Trent. The boy with the unusual lifestyle and the girlfriend who could start a fire with all the metal hooked into her body." Helen grimaced.

"Monique and Trent broke up nearly two years ago, Mom." Daria sighed. "I'm going to my room. Feel free to discuss my attitude while I'm gone."

TBC
posted on 8-Jan-2003 2:06:12 PM by DMartinez
Act III Scene I
May 19, 2002. Saturday afternoon.


*Daria. Cedars of Lawndale Hospital, Dr. Phillip's office.

Daria had shrugged when they asked her to join them at Dr. Phillips's office for the results of the blood tests. She admired Aunt Amy's strength as she sat, poised and collected, and waited for confirmation that she could have family blood and not search for a stranger or receive random blood each transfusion. From the look of things, you'd think it was Helen Morgendorffer waiting to find out her fate for the near future and not Amy Barksdale. Jake sat out in the waiting room, the driver for the women. He had managed to keep his road rage to a minimum for the duration of the trip. His overall silence spoke volumes to his elder daughter.

Dr. Phillips explained that due to genetic variations, of course, that not every family member would be eligible for blood donation but it was good that so many had stepped forward to agree to it. It made things simpler for Amy. Then speaking mainly to Helen, he gave her the thumbs up for she and Quinn to give blood. Erin had been cleared too, found out over the phone by Amy that morning. The three of them could arrange a schedule of 'when's and 'where's, the hospitals would handle transfers and deliveries.

Then Dr. Phillips had asked the older women to leave the room, much to theirs and Daria's confusion. Daria sat still as he explained as simply as he could why she shouldn't donate. "Why didn't you say one way or another?"

"Daria, I know you're an intelligent young woman. I'm not going to mince words." Dr. Phillips took a breath and picked up a pen and a piece of paper from a stack nearby. He looked over it briefly before finding a clean sheet of paper for his notes. "I just noticed a few things when the results of your blood work came back. I have a few questions. Do you mind?"

"Does it matter?" Daria crossed her arms but moved to a seat closer to his desk. "Shoot."

"These are just a few routine questions… to rule out my thoughts."

"Which you still haven't shared with me."

"In due time. Have you had many recent fevers?"

"As in more than my usual… possibly. I haven't really kept track." Daria sat back uneasily. *I was sick a few times this year. I'm not normally… am I?

"Fatigue?"

"Well, I guess." *I've been tired, sure… but finals.

"I noticed you have a few bruises on your arms and legs." Dr. Phillips held his pen poised. "Accidents or an overzealous boyfriend… taken which ever way makes you most comfortable."

"No boyfriend, which discounts the overzealous option, violent or… over-amorous. I am a bit of a klutz though." Daria thought it over and shrugged out of her jacket for the second time in her visit. She looked over the small bruises on her arms. *Did I walk into something and don't remember? "I can't say I remember getting these. They don't hurt much."

"Moving on. Headaches?"

"Well, yeah. Maybe two or three a week. Sometimes one or two a day, but that was during finals." *Finals would give anyone frequent headaches, right? It's normal to have more than one headache a week, right?

"Nose bleeds?"

"Had one on the way home on the bus." *Altitude. Motion-sickness. Riding on buses was never the same after that fieldtrip sophomore year.

"Uh-huh. Having any trouble concentrating? Maybe getting to sleep."

"Well… yeah." *I'm human. I think I have a conscience.

"Your periods. Are they any heavier than usual?"

"Well, now that you mention it, yeah… but I skipped the last one." *Stress?

"Uh-huh. Bone pain?"

"Not so much but I've got a high pain tolerance… I do have a younger sister."

"You seem a little pale. Are you always this pale?"

"I think so."

Dr. Phillips took a breath to allow them both to collect their thoughts. "It could all be nothing but your run of the mill anemia. Nothing to be overly concerned about."

"Then why are you so concerned?" Daria couldn't help but strike out at the bearer of potentially bad news. "If it's nothing, why feel the need to speak to me? Why feel the need to send my family out of the room?"

"I sent them out because I remember your mother very well and I'd just thought I'd let you know that I want to order some extra tests on you. I need to take more blood samples. Seeing as this could possibly be genetic… I would, personally, like to rule out CLL in you and, medically, anything else that could possibly be wrong." Dr. Phillips remained calm throughout and that made her mad. "I overheard your mother asking you if you were tired… why you looked so pale. It only adds to my concerns. What do you say?"

"I think you're supposed to ask me before you do any tests and you're just trying to cover your butt since you already arranged to take blood and order more tests." She stared at him but he didn't flinch. *Damn medical training. I bet there's a course in stoicism in medical school.

"Do you disapprove? I could always call and cancel them. Nothing's set in stone yet." After a moment of serious thought, Daria didn't let her guard down or answer him. "I'm just going to assume that you answered everything truthfully. That you weren't trying to spare your mother and aunt any details when you talked to the aide the other day."

"It's accurate and truthful."

"Good. With any luck, we'll order the tests for nothing."

"Can we not tell my mother that we talked about this? She'll freak out and you'll have her screaming down your throat until those tests and many others are done and the results come back." Daria sighed heavily and wasn't surprised when he nodded emphatically to her suggestion and ultimately the delay she didn't have the courage to make just yet. She could tell he knew she was going to make one. "I've done my own research. If it could be CLL, it could be CML. It could also be ALL or AML. If I had to pick one… I'd go with CLL."

"Understandable… and smart to do research and not panic about it. You are prone to strange biological incidences though." The doctor reminded her of the bizarre anxiety rash she had experienced a couple of years before. "Instead of hoping for CLL, we'll pray for anemia. That's an easy thing to control with diet and vitamins."

"I'm a college student."

"Vitamins then."

"Don't call me. I'll call you." Daria rose from the chair and slipped her jacket back on. "I'll make an appointment for a physical. If we rush this, I have explaining to do and neither of us wants that." *There delay made, and logical reasoning behind it… so why do I feel I should do it now?

Scene II
May 19, 2002. Saturday Evening.


Morgendorffer Residence, Kitchen.

Daria had endured the car ride bravely. Helen only asked once what the doctor had to say to her. Daria had told her that she was carrying the second coming and could not give blood vital to the growth and development of the Christ child. Upon stern scolding and inquiry, she finally told them that the doctor had simply wanted to know if her anxiety rash had returned. It seemed to satisfy Helen's curiosity but Amy had seen right through the whole story and had wisely chosen to stay quiet about it.

Quinn, being uncharacteristically quiet during dinner, was the one to break the silence in Daria's mind. Jake was concerned whether or not his new experiment had turned out okay. Given his hesitance to speak at all, Daria suspected he had more on his mind than homemade spinach lasagna. Helen and Amy had fought twice, signaling that Helen was finally relaxing. Daria had managed to bring a book to the table and had pretended to read it. Quinn cleared her throat twice. "Aunt Amy, does it hurt?"

There had been a lull in conversation but that was the last thing anyone had wanted to talk about. Amy shrugged and continued to eat. "Not so much. Sometimes my bones hurt but it usually goes away after while. I'm usually too tired to care though."

"Oh." Quinn nodded to her plate. She took a breath and looked to the adults. "A geek at school told me that sometimes it's genetic." All the blood rushed from Daria's face, the second the words had been uttered. She blinked in shock at Quinn for a full minute. "Does that mean that you could get it, Mom? Or that me or Daria could?"

It was more intelligence than Quinn was used to exhibiting and yet it made Daria feel old and tired. Amy had been the brave one. "It's really unlikely, Quinn. They caught me really early and it'll make it easier to gauge how I'm doing as it progresses. I could go on for years without feeling more than fatigue and looking pale, being careful how I bruise and taking iron pills."

Before Helen could contribute, Daria opened her mouth. "Quinn, yes. It is possible that we carry inside us whatever Aunt Amy does that made her develop leukemia. We know this especially since we have similar blood types and the genetics are definitely there. Do you have to worry about it? No, not right this second. If you had it, the doctor would have told you something about the blood samples you gave and the two of you would be in the same boat. Is it possible for you develop it later on? Yes, entirely. Will you? Only time will tell. Knowing you and your eternal narcissism, you'll know before the doctors do based off your skin color, worry about bruising… and possibly by losing whatever appetite you do have. There's no point dwelling on it if the only thing you have to worry about is staying away from alcohol and drugs so that you can continue to be a blood donor."

"Well, that was blunt but true." Helen gave Daria a look. Quinn looked satisfied with the answer and not a bit talked down to.

"Blunt is good. I like it a lot better than when the doctors try and pretend that everything is okay even when it won't be. It's refreshing." Amy managed a sly smile.

"If I didn't personally know better, I'd say Daria was born to the wrong Barksdale." Helen rolled her eyes but then turned to look on her eldest daughter. "She inherited dad's hair like you did."

"What I'd like to know is how she keeps it straight like that. I've got a slight wave that drove me crazy on my vacation in Hawaii."

"That's from mother. Daria managed to miss that particular gene, although Quinn did get it. I believe she uses her hair dryer to straighten it… or was it a flat iron?"

"You know, I usually hate when people do this to me but I recall thinking one afternoon that Tom and Daria would make adorable children."

"I was thinking the same thing when she finally brought that boy around."

"Tom? Did he and Daria get back together?"

"Jake, no. We were just saying that our grandchildren from them would have been beautiful."

"And rich."

"Oh, Jake."

Daria slowly tuned them all out and escaped without ingesting too much of her father's cooking. When no one was looking, she snuck out the front door.

Scene III
May 19, 2002. Saturday Evening.


*Daria, ^Trent. Lane Residence/Zen.

Trent stared at the back of Daria's head for the second time in less than a week. ^Whoa. Déjà vu. Just as he had three days before, he sat on the front step next to her. "The pavement's not exactly comfortable."

"Nope."

"Seems to me that calling first would save you a trip." He pointed out while trying to take in her profile. Her hair fell over her face blocking his view. That's when it hit him. ^Cool. "You let your hair grow out."

"What?" Daria looked up, confused.

"I finally figured out what was different. Your hair is longer than it used to be."

"Yeah." Daria thought about it and nodded. "I don't really think about my hair too often. Mom was always the one who made sure it got at least trimmed every few months."

"Looks good."

"Thanks." They sat for a while longer before Trent coughed. *I am so pathetic… and selfish from the look of things. "If you were going somewhere, don't mind me. I'm just trying to stay out of the house until I get a job and have an excuse to leave during the day."

"Not really. I was going to check out this band playing our old gig at Zen. I've been debating ever since I woke up. I wouldn't mind seeing them but I'm never sure about listening to young bands. They just don't have the dedication or creativity to pull off an entertaining act."

"Don't let me keep you. My knees and I were having a fine time staring at each other."

"Let's go. Least when you get home you can wash off a stamp that said you weren't sitting on the porch of an empty house all night." Trent got to his feet. "You don't have a curfew, do you?"

"It hasn't been discussed since I've been home."

"Then we're in the clear. We can always get Max out of the house if no curfew was specified. If it sucks overly much, we'll split early."

"Fine." Daria stayed as silent as possible through much of the ride. Then, she couldn't take it anymore. "How is the Spiral?"

"Taking things one step at a time. In three weeks we'll have recorded our first demo." Trent slid his eyes over to look at her. "We didn't sell out. The guy really wants to hear us play in a studio. He thinks the sound will be cleaner and void of… distraction. He says we have presence but thinks we should change the name."

"Cool."

"He's also promoting the band we're gonna see tonight. If I like the band, I'll take the guy seriously."

"Understandable."

"We can't play with the reputation of the Spiral without examining the ramifications of taking a step into the corporate world."

"So long as you don't actually take a risk and make it." *Oops. Daria let the comment slip before she thought about it. Trent only cocked an eyebrow and continued the drive in silence. The Zen was packed with its usual horde of unwashed miscreants and repeat offenders. Trent found a free piece of wall and leaned against it. Daria stood slightly away from him but not near to any other people either. That was her first mistake. The guy came out of nowhere and before he could say anything, she beat him to it, shouting her answer to be heard over the music. "No, I don't know you. Yes, I'm very happy where I am. No, I wouldn't like a drink. No, I don't want to see your car or listen to a demo tape in your car. I'm not looking for someone and if I was, he wouldn't be you. If you ask me for my sign, I'll give you sign language in the form of an extended middle finger. Thank you." *Idiot.

The guy just stared at her for a minute. He backed up after a heavy arm settled over her shoulders. Shouting, "Sorry, didn't know you were Trent's girl."

Daria waited until the guy had wandered off before turning her head to look at Trent expectantly. He shrugged but kept his arm where it was, bending to be heard. "You don't need losers like that."

"I can take care of myself. I was doing just fine confusing him on my own."

"Just the same. Sometimes the creeps don't take no for an answer."

Daria permitted it for a while before she found her loop-hole. "Won't this keep the girls from hitting on you?"

"Good point." The arm dropped from her shoulder. He thumbed himself to the bar. "Want something?"

"Soda."

Cocking an eyebrow but not saying anything, Trent disappeared into the crowd to hunt down the bar. Daria, bored out of her mind, leaned on the wall and observed the masses. Rockers, pseudo-trendy-wannabes, a few preps… and Tom. *Dammit! Shrinking against the wall, she wanted to hide. This was not the day to see the ex-boyfriend. Suddenly, the wall of Trent had appeared, back first.

At first she was going to remind him that she was there but then she heard Tom's voice after a song ended. "… Hanging out, looking for familiar faces… you know, the usual."

"Oh yeah?"

"Seen Daria or Jane?" Frozen, she waited while the guys talked.

"Naw. I know Janey's still at school."

"Daria?"

"Don't know. I haven't talked to her in a while."

"It'd be nice to find her and catch up."

"Yeah. It would." Then their conversation was lost when the band started up again. Daria stayed very still until Trent turned around. He handed her a drink and shrugged at her head jerk to Tom's retreating figure. "Didn't think you'd want to talk to him."

"Thanks." Daria sipped her drink and looked up at her tall friend. "You've been really nice to me and I was a jerk earlier."

^Daria? A jerk? His brow knit together as he thought about it. "No."

"What I said in the car… I didn't actually mean to say it. I was upset and it slipped out."

"You mean about taking a risk? You're right. We should. These guys suck but if we're good, it'll be that much better… for us and for Lyle… so long as we take the plunge, right?" He leaned against the wall next to her. "Rage Against the Machine uses the machine to get their message out. I guess they haven't sold out."

"Not in the way that counts."

"Right. Everyone's gotta take a risk sometime, huh?" Trent took a few swallows of his beer and cleared his throat. "We can leave whenever you want. Jesse and Max never showed and these guys really suck."

"Would you mind stopping somewhere to eat? I didn't really eat dinner."

Trent chugged his beer and set it on a nearby table. "No problem. Does your dad still make that awesome spaghetti?"

"I don't know. He tried something new tonight and dinner conversation didn't lead to hunger. It was best avoided." Daria set her barely touched drink down. "I'll even buy you something. Tomorrow I get a job."

TBC
posted on 13-Jan-2003 11:53:57 AM by DMartinez
Act IV Scene I
May 20, 2002. Sunday Morning


*Daria. Morgendorffer Residence, Kitchen.

Helen and Amy were stirring their coffees over their respective sections of the newspaper when Daria made it down the stairs. Helen gave her a look while she gathered her own cup of coffee and pilfered the want ads from Amy. After five full minutes of silence, Helen gave up. "Jane called while you were out last night. She seemed awfully surprised that you were gone."

*Damn friends. Daria just continued to pore over the paper. "Did she leave a message?"

"Just that she'd be staying longer than she thought, a week or so. She'll call back when she gets a chance. Oh and Mr. O'Neill heard you were in town and has a position or two that he thinks you'd be perfect for. He called last night as well." Helen laid down her paper and waited. Daria looked up and then at Aunt Amy and back. "Oh, for heaven's sake. Daria, is something wrong? You haven't made a crack at me being home on a Saturday afternoon."

"It's afternoon?" Daria wiped her hand over her face, making obvious the stamp on the back of her hand.

"It seems that you've slept in after a night out on the town." Amy winked at her before returning to the safety of her paper.

"I recall what that stamp means, young lady." Helen narrowed her eyes. "Where were you? I locked the house at midnight… and I never heard you come in."

"I was selling my body on the streets of Babylon." Daria quipped. "At a fair price, too. I'll have my loans paid off in no time, not to mention the next five years of college."

"You may be used to keeping odd hours at that dorm of yours but the rules of this house still stand."

"I'll keep that in mind. I just hope my tricks understand. I'll have to discount their fee for rushing. There goes my college payment plan."

"Daria, be serious."

Annoyed, Daria took a breath and started in. "First off, you never told me that the old house rules, such as my old eleven o'clock curfew, still applied, so I did nothing wrong. Second, I've never kept odd hours, home or otherwise so I've done nothing wrong. Third, last night I did nothing but be supportive of a friend's career oriented endeavors and, therefore, did nothing wrong. Fourth, it's unlikely to happen again because I've fulfilled my friendship quota for the summer… or at least the week. Fifth, you're over-reacting again. Last, I was home at twelve-thirty and Aunt Amy let me in through the back door around one when she got up to get a drink of water." She sipped her coffee and shook her head. "It's wrong of you to assume that any kind of wild life you had in college is going to apply to me. Save the strength and energy for when Quinn moves out. It'll be easier on all of us."

"Daria, I worry about you. First that tattooed heathen brings you home after you run off and don't tell anyone where you went, then you stay out late after running off and not telling anyone. What am I to think?"

"That I do have friends and sometimes I spend time with them. I didn't know that Jane would be staying out of town and I needed to talk to her. She wasn't home and Trent wanted company to check out a band. He and I went to the club, checked the band out, left and then got something to eat before he brought me home." Daria narrowed her eyes at her mother. "I apologize for making you worry and not leaving a note to let you know that I had left at all. If it had been Quinn, I could see the foundation for your worry but this is me. You have nothing to worry about. Trent used to give me hives, one of two reasons I'm safe in his company."

"Is that the new term for it?" Amy asked from behind her paper.

"I'm serious, Aunt Amy. I used to have anxiety-induced hives and horrible red rashes whenever the situation arose where I would have to spend any amount of time in a close proximity to Trent. Seeing as how I've not thought of him in a manner deserving the hives since before I dated Tom… I think it's safe to put in him in the harmless pile of men that is so small that it would take more than an Englishman to turn into a mountain." Daria rose from the table. "I'm going to get ready for an interview I missed this morning."

Helen looked to her sister with wide eyes. Amy shrugged. "She's exaggerating."

"She just confided in us." Helen whispered. "Something's wrong." At her sister's astonishment, she continued. "I was waiting for a sarcastic quip about Trent. Usually she would have said that he dropped her off before going to collect on her tricks or before resuming his normally scheduled night of drunken incoherence or debauchery."

"That actually does sound more like Daria." Amy nodded and cast a worried glance toward the doorway Daria had disappeared through.

Scene II
May 22, 2002. Tuesday Morning.


*Daria. Herrin Residence.

*Looks like Hansel and Gretel's witch moved into the neighborhood. All it needs is that coating of sugar. Daria raised an eyebrow at the place but went ahead and knocked on the door. It was all a horrible mistake. It was just her luck that she took up Mr. O'Neill on that possible job only to have the first day be so soon. How she agreed to summer tutor was beyond her but at least she'd have money and something to keep her mind off her upcoming physical.

The woman who answered the door clenched at her collar and glanced around Daria as if there were people hiding behind her. "Are you Ms. Daria Morgendorffer?"

"Yes. You must be Mrs. Herrin."

"Yes. Good. You may come in then. My grandchildren have been waiting for their new teacher all day." *Huh? It's ten in the morning. The older woman looked her over with an accusing eye. "You're a little younger than I would like. Wear a longer skirt tomorrow, that one is almost indecent."

"Um…" *My skirt? Indecent?

"I hope they're not too far behind." Mrs. Herrin let her into a room and shut the door firmly behind her. Daria had to squint to make out two beds and two figures in the room.

Suddenly the curtains were opened, revealing a set of teenage twin boys. They actually looked to be her age. "You're younger than the last two."

"Um…"

"Vic, Vance." The one standing near the window introduced himself and his sleeping brother. "The crazy old bat that answered the door was our grandmother." Vic crossed to sit at a desk. He cocked his head toward his brother's hospital bed. "He's sleeping now but he'll be awake sooner or later."

"What's--- um?" Daria shook her head and took a seat in an extra chair. "I was given next to no information on what or why or who?"

"Right." Vic nodded. "Grandmother." He rolled his eyes. "This is the deal. I'm home from Africa, where my parents are. I'm behind. I should have graduated last year. Vance is sick. He's got cancer, that why he's behind. You have to catch us up."

"In one summer?"

"That's usually the deal. I missed two years this go around. I'm usually only in the States during the summer. Vance is here when he's too weak to rough it." Vic cleared his throat and pointed to a shelf of books. "We've read everyone of those and I believe that they are all high school required."

"I'm a glorified babysitter, aren't I?" Daria shook her head. *Smooth sailing, hopefully.

"Pretty much only, if you were a skirt that short again, you'll give Grandmother a heart attack." Beat. "Not that I'd mind. Might spice things up a little around here."

"You didn’t miss much at Lawndale High." She looked the books over. Varied subjects and all. "I guess I'll get a requirements sheet from my supervisor and we'll work something out."

"That's what I was hoping you'd say." Vic nodded.

"Hey. Is that the new tutor?" A weak voice spoke up. "Hey, I'm Vance. Leave the books and the assignments. They'll get done."

"GED?"

"Home school diploma… I think."

"Okay. I'll see what I can do." Daria shook her head but cast a long look at the frail figure in the bed. Obviously the boy was very ill and Daria was curious, but she couldn't make herself ask what he had.

Vance looked her over with bleary eyes and hissed when he came to her skirt. "Grandmother let you in wearing that?"

Scene III
May 29, 2002. Tuesday Afternoon.


*Daria. Morgendorffer Residence/Virginia, Daria's Room/Payphone.

After a week of tutoring the Herrin boys and borrowing Quinn's longer skirts (an event that Quinn marked on her calendar of amazing days right next to the invention of a very specific shade of plum), Daria was losing her mind. Jane still wasn't home. The Herrin boys did their work without much gripe, with much male speak, and only asked necessary questions about the outside world, leaving her to read and reflect most of the time. She hadn't dared stopped by the Lane home. Trent was the opposite of Jane and likely to give her advice she'd use, despite the obvious strain it would put on his mind… and hers. The way he had taken her unexpected and rude words to heart disturbed her. Then he had thrown them back at her. *Damn friends.

Turning Dr. Phillips' card in her hand, she reached for the phone. It rang in her hand. "Eep!" She took a breath and answered it. "Hello?"

"Mi amiga! You're home!" Jane's voice called over the line. "Sorry I haven't called but there are events that prohibited my coming home or calling you."

"Yeah. Mom said you called last Friday night."

"I did." Jane was silent for a moment. "And you were out with Trent apparently."

"Um…" *Dammit! Damn Trent and his big mouth. "It was an accident?"

"Right! It's funny how you going out with guys always happens like that."

"Yes, your sarcasm is a puddle on my floor."

"I want to know."

"I didn't know you weren't home until I got there. He wanted some friendly company while he checked out some band."

"And?"

"And what? We checked out the band, got some food. I was in bed by 1:15."

"Damn."

"Where are you?"

"Oh. Right. I'm in Virginia."

"What?"

"Yes. Ralph had a paying job for me but it was in Virginia. I finish up my duty this week and I fork over 20% to the sleaze ball. I'm in Lawndale by Friday after next. Seems when he found out that you had only handled the panties once or twice without even trying them on, they were no longer as valuable." Jane sighed into the phone. "But I finish up Friday after next and we drive to Middleton. I'll need you or Trent to come pick me up there."

"Probably Trent. I've got a job."

"Yikes."

"A job set up by Mr. O'Neill."

"Dear God, are you okay?"

"I'm fine. They're halfway cool guys."

"Not kids? Guys? Do tell. Are they available? Jailbait?"

*Why am I not surprised? "Guys. Our age. With a grandmother who thinks that my knees are indecent. I've lowered myself to borrowing Quinn's long skirts. She doesn't need them because she's wearing bikinis." Daria grumbled. "Their parents are missionaries or something in Africa. In the summer they come home to catch up on their American studies. One twin is bedridden with a cancer they have yet to tell me about and the other is behind because he got stuck with his parents last summer. They're trying to get a GED."

"Wow. So you've got a lot to do?"

"No. They're smart guys, pretty much up on everything and more but it's the tests they need completed. All I have to do is show up with the assignment sheets, pretend to care when they take tests… which they're honest about by the way, and take everything to Mr. O'Neill at the end of the day. I get a lot of reading done."

"Impressive. You're getting paid to read books. Perfect."

"It gets my mother off my back. Although she's been more than interested in my personal life since last week."

"She heard Trent drop you off?"

*Damn intuition and deductive reasoning! "Good guess."

"Hey, it's why I'm your friend." Pause. "Although, Trent might have mentioned that you and he are now blood brothers or something."

"Funny." Daria paused a moment and flipped over Dr. Phillips card. "Listen, we… I need to talk to you when you get into town, so keep me updated on your impending escape from Ralph."

"What's up?"

"I'd rather not talk about it on the phone. It's kind of the reason I've popped up at your house, subconsciously knowing you wouldn't be there." Daria cleared her throat to add incentive. "If you don't hurry, I'll spill to someone else. Aunt Amy… my mother."

"Got it, chica." Jane hesitated a moment. "Your Aunt Amy is in town?"

"Yeah."

"Okay."

"She's been here since the weekend after I came home."

"Yipes. Are she and Helen at each other's Barksdale throats yet?"

"No. They're getting along for the moment… which is why you should try and hurry."

"Daria? Are you okay?"

"Yeah." *That didn't sound convincing, even to me. "I'll still be here when you get here. Later." Daria hung up the phone and stared at the card. *Gotta take a risk sometime. She dialed the number and shut her eyes. "Yes, this is Daria Morgendorffer for Dr. Phillips. He's been expecting me for a physical appointment… No, I'm calling to make one… Yes… No, not in a hurry… Yes, that's fine."


Scene IV
June 4, 2002. Monday Afternoon.


*Daria. Herrin Residence, Twin's Room.

Daria looked up from her book to find Vance looking at her… again. "What?"

"Didn't I see you at the hospital, Saturday?"

"Vance." Vic shook his head and returned to his work.

"I was there." Daria admitted.

"Dr. Phillips is a cool doctor. Did you know he handed off your chart to Dr. Valilis?" Vic nodded to her puzzled expression. "Dr. Valilis is my doctor."

"Oh." She nodded.

"You knew?"

"Kind of. I'm being tested for leukemia."

"Sucks." He nodded.

That's when she realized she had their full attention. Vic had stopped working, eyes narrowed. "Is that why they sent you to work with us?"

"Who? No one knows about this except me and my doctor and we're not even sure that's what's wrong with me." Daria narrowed her eyes at him until he backed off. She sighed. "I don't want to talk about it."

"Understandable." Vance nodded. "He doesn't let me talk about it. I think he's just scared that because our DNA is identical that he'll get sick too."

Daria nodded and returned to her book. The wait was going to drive her crazy.

Scene V
June 6, 2002. Wednesday Afternoon.


Daria raised her book to cover her face. Helen had had about enough of her sister's antics and it was finally showing. "You're going to Cancun next summer?"

"Why does that bother you?"

"It doesn't bother me that you want to go. It bothers me that something could happen to you and you're in Cancun and the rest of the family wouldn't know if it did. What if you suddenly get ill?"

"Helen, I can't live the rest of my life like I'm glass. To think I came down here because you were the one sister I figured would understand me. Next year, next month, next week, tomorrow could be my last day. I want to do the things I want to do. I've always done that."

"I know. We've called your house and no one answered for a week, then we find out that you've been in Florida or Hawaii. We were worried sick about you and you were on a beach with a Mai-tai."

"Don't be silly. I hate Mai-tais."

"Don’t get cute."

"When have I ever been cute?"

"Amy, seriously. You think you can still flit from place to place without a moment's consideration for anyone else."

"I've been feeling this way for a while now. A good while and I've never felt the need to be different. Do you think I've suddenly had a personality change since I discovered I was sick?"

Daria sank lower on the couch. She heard Quinn enter the living room and hover just out of sight from the kitchen. One look at Quinn's heartbreaking face with tears in her eyes and Daria could barely hold it in herself. Daria held the book up higher and tried not to cry.

"You should! It's more important now than ever that you take care of yourself and rely on your family a little more… or just at all in your case."

"I've never relied on anyone and I won't start."

"You should. You have family and you pretend that we don't exist. Daria looks up to you and I wonder what kind of example you set. Maybe that's where she thinks it's okay to pretend she doesn't have anyone but herself."

"You're one to talk. She really feels she doesn't have anyone. No one understands her. The kid tries to get your approval and because she's always great you just nod and keep on working—" That was the last straw, Daria bolted from the house.

TBC
posted on 18-Jan-2003 11:54:24 AM by DMartinez
Act V Scene I
June 6, 2002. Wednesday Evening.


*Daria, ^Trent. Lane Residence, Living Room.

Trent opened the door to find a red-eyed Daria. ^Not good. Without a word, he stepped aside to let her in. He waited for her to take a seat. He wisely chose not to comment on the red eyes and tear tracks. "What's up?"

"I was thinking I could cash in that friend thing right about now." Daria sank onto the couch and curled her legs up under her. "I know guys aren't especially known for their comforting skills but I don't want to bother my aunt or my mom with this right now."

"It's cool. Lay it on me." Trent watched her and she was silent for a good long while. "You wanted to talk to Janey about this, huh?"

"Yeah, but it's not really a female thing or anything like that." Daria squeezed her eyes shut. *I should really wait for Jane but I can't hold it in anymore. "My aunt is sick. She has cancer and it's not fatal or anything at this moment but… She could die. If when she starts her medication… if the treatments don't work and she doesn't go into remission, she could die. It just… it gets me thinking about my immediate death a lot. The thing that frightens me most is that there are things I haven't done yet, as cliché as that might sound. I have expectations for myself that I haven't reached yet. I'm waiting for some guy upstate to read my DNA and tell me that for now I'll at least have the chance to do them. That if I am sick, that I might not respond to treatment and death is inevitable and much closer than I'd like to think.

"If that wasn't enough, the things plaguing me aren't even about the book I want to write anymore. It's about the fact that I'm 19 and I haven't lived. It's not about sky-diving or bungee jumping or anything stupid like that. I'm just saying that I've kissed exactly one guy and he didn't get past second base on any of our dates. It seems shallow, especially to me, but for some odd reason, especially lately, dying a virgin doesn't appeal to me. I've been walking around for close to two weeks with these thoughts in my head and it's driving me insane."

"Whoa. That's a load." Trent sat next to her, arm slung on the back of the couch. "I could see you dying a virgin though. It would make a statement to all those people who stupidly give themselves away to the first warm body available without thinking of the consequences..."

"Why do you see me dying a virgin?" Daria sat up, irritated and slightly offended. "It's not like I don't get offers."

"I'm sure you do. Like that guy at the club. Marcus hit on you but, like, he's not good enough. Maybe even though you are hot and all, the fact that you're you makes me think that no guy on the planet could be, like, good enough." His eyes wandered to his hand sitting on his knee. "Like, I worry about her and all but Janey can take care of herself because she's a Lane. You're, like, a rare breed of Morgendorffer. Like, if you ever thought a guy was good enough, that guy might, like, take advantage of your vulnerability."

"Me? Vulnerable." Daria swallowed thickly. Jane had told her once that Trent was oblivious to everything but suddenly that didn't seem right.

"The outward appearance of people is always a… façade or whatever. I do it. You called me on it. I look like a no-good slacker to everyone, and they think I am. So when I do stuff, people are, like, surprised and it strokes my ego a little. If I was outwardly ambitious with my music, I might get screwed over by someone hiding their snake-like real face.

"You're, like, this really cool smart chick. You tell Janey that you don't need anyone but I think you do and if you admit it, you'll show your real face. I know why you broke up with Tom." Trent cleared his throat before she could protest. "You wanted to avoid the pain when he called to tell you he met someone at his college or a cool girl that his parents introduced him to. You figured you'd do it before the risk got too high, before you were to involved to get uninvolved." Trent looked at her, only to find her gaze on her knees and her real face showing. "That's why you don't let guys get to know you. If you like the way they make you feel, and they leave, then you'll get hurt… or else I'm sure you'd have kissed more guys than Tom by now."

Daria looked up at him, tears brimming in her eyes but not falling. "Watch it, Trent. I think your real face is showing."

"Probably, but real friends are allowed to see the real face without the apocalypse, I think anyway. Jesse has never exploded or burst into flame or anything." Trent shrugged nonchalantly. "Then again, I doubt if he knows the difference. He wears his real face all the time." They sat in silence for a while before Trent sat up. "My turn. You get to hear the unfiltered lyrics."

Scene II
June 6, 2002. Wednesday Evening.


*Daria, ^Trent. Lane Residence, Trent's room.

Daria sat on the edge of the bed while Trent picked a few songs out on the guitar. "It takes a moment before anything comes to me. We could be here all night." ^This isn't weird at all. "Make yourself at home."

"So long as I'm not in the house with Mom and Amy. I think my mom is wearing down. I expect an explosion any day now." Daria pulled off her boots and tried to get comfortable but the long skirt prevented relaxed movement. *Damn fashion-forward clothing. In the ensuing silence, her thoughts started to drift back to everything that was wrong.

"Pretty girl, pretty girl, with her eyes on the ground. Pretty girl, pretty girl, what's she finally found?" Trent had his eyes closed and his fingers poised over the strings. "Pretty girl, pretty girl, what's this all about? Pretty girl, pretty girl, all that misery and doubt."

When he looked to her, his eyes were open literally and figuratively. Daria felt something tug at her insides when she realized he was trying to make sure she wouldn't laugh at him for exposing himself this way. She just nodded. "Yeah."

"Cool." He nodded and shut his eyes again. "Weary girl, weary girl, pain and destruction. Weary girl, weary girl, she can't even function." He strummed out a few chords, experimenting with the sound and the words he already had before he was satisfied and moved on. "Weary girl, weary girl, if only we had known. Weary girl, weary girl, your cover was blown." Furrowed brow and a shaking of the head. He fiddled with the strings and sat for a good twenty minutes just strumming the chords and clearing his throat. "Sorry girl, sorry girl. What have you done? Sorry girl, sorry girl, make it undone. Sorry girl, sorry girl, it wasn't your fault. Sorry girl, sorry girl, it's locked in the vault."

"Kinda morbid and needs a little work… but I think like it." Daria nodded.

"It needs a chorus or something. That's one for the notebook." Trent glanced around. "Man, I'll be right back. I left it in the car." He cleared his throat suddenly as he stood. Daria realized that he wasn't used to sharing the kind of songs that went into the notebook. Remembering the kind of stuff that was in there, she understood that while it didn't make sense to her, it meant something to him.

Daria shrugged out of her jacket, she stood up to stretch. Trent had all kinds of things tacked to the walls. She stopped in front of a mirror and stared at her reflection. After a moment, she took her glasses off. Her vision blurred and she could barely make out her own features. She felt Trent walk up behind her after many long moments of reflection, literally and figuratively. "Hey, Daria, since when do you wear long skirts?"

"It's for the job I got from Mr. O'Neill. My student's grandmother was scandalized by the other one."

"Too bad. You got killer legs…" ^Like your mom, she's got hot legs, too. Trent reached around and grabbed her glasses. ^That's not right. "Your face looks… wrong without these."

"Thanks?" *Compliment or insult? Her eyes narrowed at the blur that was his reflection.

"Like, your glasses are you. If, like, you got contacts, it would shift the balance and the world would explode."

"Now you're being a dork." When she turned, he was smirking. He put them back on her nose. "At least you're not one of the horde who thinks I should get contacts."

"Looked good when you tried it but I think I was too immature to appreciate Daria as a concept." Trent coughed slightly, shaking his head.

"Oh yeah?" Daria shook her head with a small smile.

Trent ran his eyes over her from head to toe. "Too bad not everyone can experience Daria the way it was meant to be experienced." Daria couldn't stop the smile from erupting across her face. Then it happened. Daria had warm lips on hers. When it was over, she kept her eyes closed. *Trent kissed me. He finally kissed me. Why don't I feel something… more? Forehead furrowing in confusion. "That's two."

"What?" Her eyes popped open.

"And the second guy you kissed was older and much cooler than the first." For some reason, that made Daria laugh. Trent lifted an eyebrow. ^Maybe I'm losing my touch. "Never got that reaction before."

"No." Daria shook her head and tried to stop. "Sorry, strange thoughts wandered into my mind when you kissed me. Figures that I'd have to be dying for you to kiss me."

"Not cool, Daria." He heard the door open downstairs and two more shut. He reached over and snapped on the stereo. When he turned back to Daria, she was suddenly solemn again. "Real face."

"Yeah, I was hiding again." Daria shook her head. "I should go."

"Not until you let it out."

"I can't."

"Express."

"My form of expression is words and I can't."

"Then find another outlet." Trent bent to look her in the eye. "Use me. Hit me if you want. Doesn't it make you mad? That you can't control it? That it dictates your life? That it--"

*Stop it! Stop reminding me! Stop making me think about it! If I wanted to talk about it, I could have stayed home! Daria couldn't take it anymore, she had to make him shut up. She pulled him down and laid one on him. Surprising them both, Daria deepened it and then it was too late to stop because his mouth tasted so good and he was kissing her back. Driven to banish the overwhelming self-pity, she sought out the warmth of his body, pulling herself up against him. The heated flush quickly filled her face, fueling the urge to kiss away the whole situation. Trent's hands slid around her waist, pulling her closer to him as he returned the kiss. His face knocked her glasses askew but neither made any move to remove them. The longer the kiss went on, the more urgent it became. Daria pulled her mouth away to gasp for air. She almost had time to gather her wits until his hand slipped up her shirt and caught her nipple at a spot that took her breath away. *Ah! … ah...

Arching into his hand, Daria pressed her cheek against his neck. He maneuvered around her bra and cupped the full weight of a curve that was never allowed to make its presence known before. His mouth kissed up and down the side of her throat. His hands caressed her, releasing her from her confinements. She had to let him go when he pulled her shirt over her head and reached to pull off his own. There was only one second where their eyes met and Daria had one last chance to get out of following through but there was no way it wasn't going to happen. She initiated the answering kiss and all fires blazed again. Breathing became a secondary function until it was no longer possible to ignore it.

A cool draft swept up her legs when he fought to get his hands beneath the long skirt. Heat traveled up her legs as his hands sought out every inch of flesh that could be found beneath the whispering fabric. Her hands swept over his back feeling every muscle that had laid hidden under those T-shirts all this time. His hips shifted against her thigh, making her achingly aware of the happenings in his groin. The knowledge that filtered in her brain associated with the common connotations of those happenings made her groan.

Any thoughts were muted the second his callused fingers found their way to the edges of her underwear. A wry grin spread across her face suddenly. *And Jane said I'd never wear these. Trent's mouth slanted over hers as his fingers worked themselves beneath the slick fabric to the burning flesh beneath. Her breath caught in her throat at his slight rubbing between the folds of her feminine parts. Traitorous knees buckled beneath her and he had to yank his arm up to catch her. Forced to breath, Daria turned her head and allowed herself to taste the stubble-ridden skin of Trent's cheek. Trent slid his hand away from her folds and gripped her hip to hold her closer.

Every breath she inhaled was tinged with the scent of sweat and that earthy smell she had come to associate with Trent. He took a step forward and a crate toppled them to the side, smashing her back into the wall. *Ow. The remainder of their clothes were removed as quickly as they could manage. Her panties tore as he ripped them off. *Ow. Gripping her legs, he stepped forward and thrust with a grunt. *Eep! Ow! Daria cried out in surprise at the invasion. Trent bent his head into the crook of her neck and whispered things that she couldn't quite hear, but the words were only meant to soothe and that they did. A tattoo on his back rippled as he moved within her body slowly. Daria squeezed her eyes shut as the pain subsided, her glasses slipped down her nose as the sweat poured down her face. She clung to him for dear life as every thrust jarred her against the wall, making a soft thud every time. *Damn! This isn't going to work. Trent sucked on the soft skin along her shoulder and hiked her leg up over his hip. He stepped away from the wall and tried to move to the bed without disrupting anything but ended up tripping over the fallen crate and falling onto her on the bed. *Eep! There his rhythm rocked the mattress into the shelf that served as his headboard, knocking it into the wall. As if sensing a scream was about to rip itself from her lungs, Trent captured her mouth.

Gripping his back, she froze when his hand was suddenly where their bodies met, rubbing where he had before, and she had no air to breathe. Her middle burned, her body stiffened and shook, and then relaxed. Then his mouth was gone and all the air rushed into her lungs, leaving her panting until her body was jerked upward several times in succession ending in a burning in her middle. Trent's grunts, broken and deep, puffed against her ear. His body lay still over hers, pressed tightly between her legs as if he were waiting for something before he dared to move. Heavy breaths fell on her ear and deep breaths moved his chest against her chest before he managed to roll off of her. It was the strangest feeling when he slipped from within her body. *Empty.

She didn't have long to ponder any feeling or thought. Her mind, weary from constant thought and sleepless nights, shut down. Her body, hot and cooling suddenly, was tired and forbade movement. Her only option was sleep. The first restful sleep she'd had in a couple of weeks.

Scene III
June 7, 2002. Thursday Morning.


*Daria. Lane Residence, Trent's room.

Daria woke slowly in the early morning. The arm draped over her waist caught her attention first and then with the recognition of its owner, came the events of the night before. When she shifted her legs, pain shot through her thighs and crotch. *Damn hymen. Peering over her shoulder, Trent's sleeping face half appeared above the pillow through crooked glass frames. *Damn friend's hot brother. Carefully, she eased herself out of Trent's grasp and off the bed to search for her clothes, righting her glasses and rubbing at her sore nose. She only glanced at the black panties and their torn ribbons before pulling her skirt into place. If they had to die, it was a brave death. Tiptoeing out of the room with her boots in hand, she just prayed that the Lane elders also kept loose schedules and would not be stirring as she exited the house. In not allowing herself to look back, she missed Trent sitting up in bed.

Scene IV
June 7, 2002. Thursday Morning.


Morgendorffer Residence, Bathroom/Kitchen.

Daria waited until she was home before she allowed regrets to enter her mind. Her main concern to shower and then get to work. Under the spray of the shower, she let tears fall down her face. All she had done was confuse herself. When she had returned from school, Trent had barely been male to her. Now, he could be so much more. There were too many things that could come of this and none of them were good. At least it would be a good eight hours before Trent would be awake enough to realize what had happened.

The breakfast table was as tense as she suspected it would be with the yelling that had gone on the night before. But, of course, she since had violated the house rules, it was all aimed at her. Helen was quick to jump on her. "What time did you come in, Daria?"

"Late." Was the only answer she'd give.

"Daria. We tried to have some trust in you but staying out all night is not acceptable." Jake vented, finally having an outlet for everything he hadn't been able to express since his sister-in-law's arrival. "Your mother and I were up nearly half the night wondering if something happened to you. There are murderers and rapists, drunk drivers and druggies… and carnies, Daria."

"Daria, where in the hell were you? We were up wondering if you were in a ditch somewhere." Helen crossed her arms, chiming in with her husband to get a reaction out of their daughter.

"I was out selling my body and my soul. The latter of which, goes for a much higher price these days." Daria shrugged and dumped her coffee in the sink. "I'm going to the Herrin's early. They have a test today."

"Daria, we're not finished here." Jake slammed down his cup of coffee, spilling it on the newspaper.

"Let her go. She's got work." Amy butt in.

"Stay out of this, Amy." Helen barked.

Daria tuned them out as she made her way out the door as quietly as possible, Quinn offered some rare sympathy with a five from her pocket. "For food or whatever. You look pale and you don't eat here, so I figured you could pick up a salad or something somewhere." Daria stopped to give her sister a look but Quinn shrugged again. "Dr. Phillips called last night. He said he would be getting the results sometime tomorrow. I'm not telling those hyenas or whatever anything."

"Thanks." Daria nodded finally and rushed out the door.

Scene V
June 7, 2002. Thursday.


*Daria, ^Trent, #Jane. Herrin Residence/Lawndale High/Pizza Parlor, Twin's Bedroom/Trent's car.

The walk to the Herrin's seemed especially long. Maybe because she was dragging her feet. The twin were in a rare mood when she got there, turned out they had put a spider in their grandmother's morning tea and she had locked herself in her bedroom for the day. Vance seemed to be feeling well. They finished the tests in no time and then Daria had to walk to the school and turn in the tests. One day. That kept running through her head all day. One more day.

She nearly leapt out of her skin as she was leaving school grounds when the familiar blue and rusted car pulled up behind her. *Not good. Not good. This is way too soon. Maybe he could leave and find me in twenty years. She was going to ignore it until a familiar and long awaited voice called loudly out the window. "Morgendorffer! Too good to ride in this beast?"

"Jane?" Daria spun around. Trent was driving but Jane was hanging out the passenger window.

"Come on. Let's go get some pizza and trade war stories. Trent is buying." Jane winked. Daria shot a glance to Trent, who shrugged and looked out his window in the other direction. "Come on."

"I guess." Daria reluctantly climbed into the front seat next to Jane. Jane sat straighter when the tension in the car built steadily and very quietly.

#Whoa. Something happened here. Jane cleared her throat uneasily. "So, I got off for good behavior last night. I found one of your socks in my laundry bag and he paid $40 bucks for it. Unfortunately, my bus ticket was rather expensive, the hotel in Middleton was about as much as I had left and I had to wait forever for Trent to come pick me up this morning. It was weird, I'd swear he was alert at eight o'clock this morning."

*Dammit! Daria stiffened and Trent's grip on the steering wheel tightened. ^Not good. Now she'll be all freaked out… more than she already is. He slid his eyes carefully to his sister. "I told you. I didn't get much sleep last night. I just went ahead and stayed up."

#Oh ho! This is great! "Where were you last night?" Jane nudged Daria.

"Out." *Drop it. Drop it. Please drop it.

"Come on. I'm not your mom. Where were you?"

"Out." Daria answered more forcefully though she refused to lift her eyes.

"Janey." Trent spoke up suddenly. "I think I'm going to go look at something on the next block first." He pulled over to let them out and dug money out of his pocket. "I'll be back for sure to pick you up."

"Come on, Trent. I haven't seen you since New Year's." Jane found the money in her hand and suddenly her brother whispering in her ear.

"Janey, Daria needs to talk to you. She's not going to do that in front of me. Just go. Maybe we'll hang later tonight or something."

"Trent." She protested.

"I'll see you guys later." He pulled onto the street without another glance at the duo.

Daria walked in a daze from the street to the counter to a table. Jane had her eyes narrowed at her the whole time. Jane watched Daria pick at her pizza. "What the hell is going on? What does Trent know that he's not saying?" Arms crossed, she waited and waited. "Daria! You sounded like you wanted to talk the last time I talked to you and now you're a clam." #Just a little nudge in the right direction with the right information. You'll sing like a bird. "You're worse than Trent. Mom heard him with some girl last night and apparently he's been a wasp ever since."

*Witness? No. No air. Need, must have air. Daria choked on her air and had to grip the table while she forced air into her lungs. "Your mom what?"

Jane's jaw dropped open. #Score? "I talked to my mom this morning before I talked to Trent. She said that Trent and his date made a lot of noise last night. She intends to have words with him about respecting her meditation time. I haven't been home yet but she said the girl left early this morning. It'll embarrass the hell out of him but eventually she'll tell my dad and Dad will talk to him… and that will be classic." Daria's eyes were fixed on her plate, she should have known better than to stay silent. #Ha! Caught! "Daria! You horn-dog! That's why you and Trent are so icy to each other. What exactly happened while you were waiting for me to show up?"

"It's a long story." Daria sighed. "I'll catch you up to everything that Trent knows." Jane alternately chewed her pizza and fought tears for her friend as she listened to the events of summer vacation thus far. Four slices later, they were silent. "That's that."

"You're leaving out the Trent parts but I'll get them out of one of you, eventually." Jane sighed. "You going to tell your family about the tests?"

"Quinn kinda knows. She talked to Dr. Phillips when he called last night. I'm just trying to keep from imploding." Daria sipped at her coke and nearly spit it out when she saw Trent leaning on the doorframe, peering in the restaurant at them.

"Okay. You're really going to have to tell me what's going on with you and Trent. I can keep speculating and it only gets raunchier the longer you let me ponder it."

"The only way you get any of that is if Trent tells you, because I have no control over what comes out of his mouth." She saw Jane's stern face and sighed heavily. *Damn friends. "Trent and I opened up to each other and considered ourselves to be friends and I probably screwed that up for good." Daria shook her head. "I should probably apologize or something… Jane?"

"What?"

"Would you mind hanging with me tomorrow to wait for the call. I don't think I want to be alone or with my mother when I get the call."

"Sure. I'm sure it's nothing though."

"You did take my possibly dying rather well." Eyes narrowed at her friend who looked away, revealing the shine still clinging to her eyes.

"If you die, I'm putting in a bid for your totally kick ass room." Jane shrugged. "Besides, I don't think a deadly disease has the nerve to take up residence in your body."

"Thanks." Daria managed her first smile of the day.

"Mr. O'Neill have a heart attack when you agreed to the job?" Jane jerked her head to the table so that Trent would get the hint that they were done 'discussing' things. "I would imagine a nice head popping like in that movie about the Vampires where that guy shoots that girl Vamp and her head just scatters in seven directions in a gory mess of blood and brains."

"I wish. It would spare tortured students in the future." Daria shrugged and scooted down against the wall when Trent moved to sit. He picked at a slice before deciding he wanted to eat it. "He was overjoyed though. He almost cried and he did hug me until I told him that it felt weird, especially since one of my professors was in trouble for coming on to the students."

"Then he apologized profusely and offered to buy you a soda to make up for it, then changed his mind and offered you a ride, then changed his mind and gave you money to buy lunch." Jane cocked an eyebrow at her friend.

"Mr. O'Neill?" Trent asked, sounding sleepy. ^Man, I'm tired.

"Yeah. He thinks college suits me and that an open environment like college was all I needed to climb out of my shell." Daria rolled her eyes. *Right. Only problem is that the people in college are the same ones that went to high school. "He compliments my change in attire everyday. He thinks I'm growing as a person."

"I did notice the strangely long and oddly trendy skirt. I tried not to notice but I figured your mother burned the old ones in protest of your lifestyle." Jane laughed and sipped her soda.

"Apparently my legs are quite hot. People like the short skirt better." Daria shrugged and Trent smirked at her, and for once she didn't blush. Jane raised an eyebrow and her cup and then vanished from the table. After she was sure Jane was out of earshot, she took a breath. *Here goes nothing. "I didn't tell her about last night."

"She'll find out."

"How?"

"Janey has her ways." Trent shook her head. ^Morning-after talk. "You left real early this morning."

"Yeah, work."

"It's cool." Trent turned slightly to her and studied her stiff posture. "It doesn't have to be awkward, Daria."

"I feel weird."

"It happens. It changes things and maybe I liked them they way they were and maybe I hope it doesn't change the friend thing." Trent furrowed his brow as he thought about his words. "I understand what last night was about even if you don't."

"I don't?"

"Last night wasn't about you or me or anything to do with anyone's feelings about each other. Last night was a way for you to get all that crap off your chest. Surprised the hell out of me that you wanted to do it that way but I guess it was better than me having to deal with bruises if you had chosen to beat the hell out of me." He smirked at her. "Though the scratches on my back do hurt a bit."

"Oh."

"One question."

"What?"

"Did it work?"

"Yeah, I guess."

"Was it worth it?" At her confusion, he had to think again about his words. "Losing it."

Daria managed a blush. "I suppose it wasn't what I had planned for the first time but I don't think I ever really planned it. I do lean a great deal toward realism. Though, I'm glad it wasn't random or with someone I thought I was in love with. I trust you a lot more than I ever did Tom, proven to me that I could when you didn't let him see me at the Zen. I really did not feel like talking to him."

"Glad I could be of service. I think you're cool and all but I don't think I'm at a stage in my life where I'm mature enough to experience Daria on that intense a level for extensive amounts of time, which is what you deserve." Trent nodded. They had finished just in time because Jane plopped down with her refill. "Who's Ralph?"

"Careful, Trent, your face is showing." Daria smirked at him.

"Right. Never mind, Janey."

"No, no private jokes. I was gone five minutes." Jane sighed. "I guess it's to be expected when the two of you have such knowledge of each other to wake Mom from her meditative state."

"Did you know Tom is still hung up on Daria?" Trent smirked when Jane's head whipped around to look at Daria.

"He got bored with me but you break his heart and he pines for a year?" Jane noted Daria's confused face.

"Trent, what exactly did you and Tom talk about?" Daria pressed carefully.

"Why was Trent talking to Tom? What the hell is going on?" Jane threw her hands up in the air. "Has the whole world gone mad?"

^Let them chew on that for a while. Trent only smirked at them as he polished off their pizza.

TBC
posted on 18-Jan-2003 10:36:35 PM by DMartinez
Just thought I'd drop an appreciative thanks for your comments. Cancer, any kind, is hard to deal with when it's your parents or relatives or brothers and sisters. I'm still not sure what's scariest, someone who has some form of cancer and hasn't come to terms with it or someone who could potentially have it and acts out to prove they are alive. To always wonder is horrifying. To know could be just as much if not more.

Thanks again for reading.
posted on 20-Jan-2003 3:04:25 PM by DMartinez
Act VI Scene I
June 8, 2002. Friday Morning.


Morgendorffer Residence, Front Door/Daria's Room

Jane and Trent showed up on the Morgendorffer doorstep early in the morning. Jane with a smirk and Trent with cloudy, droopy eyes. Quinn let them in, a little less perky than usual. Even her clothes reflected a change in attitude, though it was seven in the morning and she was already dressed, so she couldn't have changed too much. She motioned them inside. "Daria told me to wake her up but to tell the truth, she could use the sleep. Her eyes have these awful bags and she's pale, well, paler than usual anyway."

"So… should we leave?" Jane tilted her head at the confusing young girl. It was too early for expected things to not be as expected.

"I'm on a mission. Daria… is, like, my sister and stuff. I'm just trying to prevent a Morgendorffer feud like the Barksdale feud. As weird as Daria is, if we ever end up fighting all the time like them, I'll kill myself." Quinn pulled a phone out of her pocket. "I'm going to answer the phone all day. When Dr. Phillips calls, I'll let you guys know."

"Whoa. You're like, being nice. Is this the right house? Are there pods in the attic?" Jane quipped and Trent raised an appreciative eyebrow.

"We don't have an attic." Quinn leaned in and whispered. "Aunt Amy is still here and Mom is insane. I'm trying to keep the fighting to a minimum. Mom will automatically blame Aunt Amy if Daria is sick."

"That doesn't make sense." Trent shook his head.

"It's my mom." Quinn rolled her eyes. "Hurry up and go upstairs before anyone knows you're here. I'll try to sneak food up. Today is not going to be pretty." Quinn followed them up, making sure they didn't wake anyone. "Is Daria… I mean… she like, didn't tell me but I think I can guess for myself. I am, like, her sister and all."

Trent turned to Quinn and shrugged. She started to go but he stopped her after Jane had disappeared into the room. "Hey Quinn, Daria's tough. Even if she is, like, sick and stuff, she'll be cool. Daria's always cool."

"Huh." Quinn shook her head. "I guess. I guess she's like Aunt Amy. If it were me, I'd be freaking out but Aunt Amy is so cool. She invited me to go with her to Cancun next year because we're not all that close." She quieted a little. "I think maybe Daria would do the same thing."

"Like I said, Daria's always cool." Trent followed Jane into the room. "That almost makes you cool."

"Uh. Hey." Quinn stomped her foot.

Jane looked down on her sleeping friend. "Aw. Did she look like that when she fell asleep in your bed?" Trent just sat down and turned on the TV low. "You can both cut the act. I have a Polaroid."

"Huh?"

"Oh yeah. I have documented the scene of the crime and recorded evidence." Jane pulled a picture out. "I believe these are part of a three piece set I gave Daria for Christmas. One pair is in Ralph's possession, one pair was used in a project for my art class. The third appear to be torn in two on your bedroom floor."

"Wonder how that happened?"

"Indeed."

"Oh my god." Daria mumbled. "I thought I told Quinn to wake me up if I overslept."

"You did. She seemed very concerned about your complexion and thought you needed your beauty sleep." Jane threw her a little wave. "I was just showing Trent my blackmail."

"Blackmail?"

"I told you that Janey would find out." Trent turned his head to look at Daria. "She has evidence, now."

"Later." Jane promised and sat at Daria's feet. "Your sister has lost it. She's being nice. I thought the whole house had been taken over by aliens."

"Oh no, that couldn't happen twice in one month. That happened last week when my mother was nice and understanding with her baby sister." Daria tugged at her hair but it stuck straight up. "I'm gonna shower. I'll be back."

Scene II
June 8, 2002. Friday Morning.


Morgendorffer Residence, Bathroom.

Daria crept out of the shower only to be blindsided by Amy, who was calmly sipping her coffee in the hallway. "Morning, my favorite niece."

"Oh, um. Morning, Aunt Amy." Daria swept her wet hair out of her face and offered a slight smile.

"We haven't really talked much this trip." Amy sighed heavily. "It's probably a lot to take in. I know that if any of my mother's sisters had been nearly as cool as I believe myself to be in your eyes, I would have nearly died to find out she was going to have a 'must be used by date' on her existence."

Daria had to relent. That part probably bothered her the most. That time line that stated one could die any time within a time frame and if they didn't, it was borrowed time. "It is a lot to take in. I did nearly die when I found out. I'm still taking it in."

"I went to one of those support groups. Awful depressing. Seems hope is good but too much hope is bad. Everyone wants to beat it but everyone has this urge to realize that there is such a thing as borrowed time." She shrugged. "Humans are strange animals."

"Some of which should be put down or set free."

"Shall we retire to your room for our chat? Your mother might kill me if I tried to influence you in any way. Quinn and I had a nice chat the other day." Amy shrugged. "I don't have that big an influence on you, do I?" She furrowed her brow slightly. "It would kill your mother but I like to think you've ended up this way by choice, not imitation."

"Oh, it's by choice alright, especially if you went to Highland or Lawndale. Um… My room is a little full." Daria backed up into the bathroom and pulled her Aunt with her. She stayed quiet a while before she finally took the plunge. "How much does it really bother you?"

"A lot." Amy nodded and sipped her coffee.

"Isn't it scary?"

"I grew up with the Barksdales."

"Really."

"It can be debilitating some mornings. Which is why I decided to come visit. If I knew I had to see your mother everyday, I couldn't lie in bed all day and feel sorry for myself. In a way, it was to prove to my sister that I am still me… and maybe to prove to myself that I'm still me. This idea that maybe I influence you, that's been making it easier and harder to get up in the morning, mostly easier. If I can be strong through this, one of you kids will pick up on it. Good influence and… no hiding." The elder woman set her coffee down. "Isn't that why you took that job? So you could avoid the family stuff?"

"Not exactly. I needed to keep busy but it doesn't keep me all that busy and…" Daria cursed to herself then out loud. "Dammit. The doctor is calling today with the results of my blood tests. He was really worried about me when he saw me and my anemic blood."

"Oh, I see. That is what this is all about. The avoiding everyone especially me." Amy set her cup down, eyes on it.

"Yeah. It's nothing really. It isn't."

"I don't think so. I think it is something. As much as I am one for bottling stuff up, I hope you are talking to someone."

"I did. I am. I did something stupid." Daria winced at the look of interest. It must be something that happened to Barksdale women at the slightest hint of something teenage and embarrassing.

"Pierce something?"

"Not since the last one healed over." She hoped that sounded like a joke. No need to retell that story.

"Tattoo?"

"Don't let Trent hear you mention tattoos. He'll pick something out. I think he's been trying to mark me since I was sixteen."

"You slept with a guy you shouldn't have?"

"Pretty much." Daria narrowed her eyes. "How did you know?"

"I don't sleep well these days. I saw you come in yesterday morning. I recognize the signs of young fornication. The hair, the rumpled clothes, the absent panty-line."

"There could be a million reasons that I came home looking like that… at seven in the morning."

"Not for you. Not to insult you but I think I know you pretty well. The way you came in. The amount of hot water I got for my shower and your absence yesterday… it had to be something big. Unless you've chosen to date women, it'd have to be a guy."

"I can't say I've given up that much hope in the male species but… it wasn't…"

"What you expected? It never is. Ever. Unless you master every technique in the Kama Sutra and have learned to play your body like a flute, there's no hope for meeting expectations until you're… (shudder) married or good as." Amy shook off the shiver. "But then, I believe, the expectations are rather low."

"I feel really bad and Trent is so calm and casual about it, which is really like him but I feel bad for taking advantage." Then she thought about what she had said. It didn't sound right but that's the way she felt, especially after the whole scene they had made about being friends. "He thinks I was expressing my anger."

"Were you?"

"I just wanted him to stop goading me." Daria sighed. "He kept pushing me to express myself. To use him like a punching bag or something. I'm not a violent person but he said I needed to let it out. He just kept pushing and pushing and I needed him to shut up."

"And he did. Do you like him?"

"I used to have this huge, anxiety-inducing, crush on him but since before I started dating Tom… I haven't really looked at him like that." Daria crossed her arms and leaned on the sink. "I'm still female and recognize that he is male and actually pretty hot but while the actual pictures haven't faded from my mind, the former connotation has and it's still really awkward for me and it's not for him."

"Are you sure?"

"Trent is… a good six years older, he's more experienced and casual than I am. He just kind of let it run off his back. I can't do that. It happened and I have to confront that it happened."

"So you haven't talked at all?"

"Yes, we have and that's the thing. It seemed like enough at the time."

"It was your first time." Amy nodded knowingly. "Bartholomew Gregory." She rolled her eyes. "My first. I can't ever forget him. It was awkward and sticky and not pleasant. Sure, at the time I figured it was great but I thought it would be better. He was my lab partner in college. I don't think we spoke to each other much after the semester ended. To this day, I feel he owes me something… maybe my virginity back."

Daria shrugged. "I mean, I'm kinda glad it's over with and that it was Trent and not some random guy that I'm never going to see again. It just…"

"Changes everything."

"And neither of us wants that."

"Then don't let it. Trent might be the older and wiser person but guess what? I can guarantee you that he has not found the secret of life and is still trying to figure out which way the tide is going."

"I guess." Daria sighed. "When we agreed that we were actually friends… I figured I'd get the brother I never had…"

"And now, there's no way he could ever be your brother."

"Right."

"Well, go slow. Don't be afraid. Trent sounds like a cool guy."

"Yeah, he is."

Scene III
June 8, 2002. Friday Morning.


Morgendorffer Residence, Daria's Room.

Jane and Trent had stretched out on Daria's bed while she was in the shower. Jane noted that for once when presented with a bed, Trent was not going to sleep. "Trent."

"Hmm."

"I'm scared for her." Jane whispered.

"Me too, Janey." Trent nodded and folded Daria's pillow under his chin. "I might be more scared than she is."

"Don't think so." Jane shook her head.

"I think I am. If Daria is sick, it changes a lot for me, Jane." Trent's use of her given name and not his own little nickname got her attention. "I've always thought of Daria as a friend, Jane. Whenever me or you need help, she's there. My chick coolness meter used to be set by Monique and ever since she and I split for good, Daria is the cool meter. The thought that Daria would never be there, that's up there with losing you or Mom."

"Trent?" Jane whispered. "Do you love Daria?"

"Sure." He shrugged. "You love her, too. I can't say it's love-love, but it's love. I know you keep picking on me and Daria like we'll spill our guts and admit some sappy notion of storybook love but that's not what it is. That's not what happened." He rolled over to really look at his sister. "That's probably never going to happen… and unless Wind suddenly catches her eye, Daria isn't going to be your sister."

"Trent, this scares me. I read that stupid pamphlet of Daria's. It's all generalizations, percentages and crap but if in ten measly years Daria isn't there to meet my kids, I'll lose it."

"You know, it could be nothing."

"We're concentrating on the negative until we get that damn doctor on the phone and he says it's all cool."

"I know. Even if she is sick, though. It's not necessarily over. I read that thing too and if the treatments work, she could… you know… go into remission." Trent nodded and sat up when Daria walked in. "Avoid the parents?"

"But not my aunt. She's joining in the conspiracy to keep my mother out of this until we know." She pulled a brush through her hair quickly and motioned to the bed. "Room for me up there?"

"Sure." Trent scooted to the end and dragged a pillow onto his lap. "It's okay for the real faces in here."

"Yeah." Daria nodded and curled up between them, her head on the pillow in his lap. Jane slumped in the corner with the other pillow. All was silent, including the TV, for a long while. "This bites."

"It does." Jane agreed.

"Yep." Trent nodded, his hand coming to rest on Daria's shoulder, squeezing reassuringly.

"Why does blood have to dictate my life?" Daria buried her face in the pillow and wanted to cry but even now, knowing she could, she couldn't.

"That's it." Trent announced. "I won't let you have it."

"Don't think it works that way, Trent." Jane snorted.

"I just won't have it. In a few years, I expect to meet the guy that thinks he's ready to experience Daria in all its intensity. Then I am going to be the best uncle to little Darias. You know, better to them than I am to Summer's kids." Trent gripped Daria's shoulder firmly. "It's not going to touch you."

"Thanks." Daria whispered.

"Okay, since when is Daria an it?" Jane scoffed. "One of you has to talk to me. No secrets. It's really not fair when I had little choice in the matter. You two have these secrets and carnal knowledge, which by the way I don't want, and I'm in the dark because I have no clue what either of you is talking about."

"It's okay. You get it. You just don't know that you do." Trent winked at his sister. "If everyone knew how cool Daria was, it would ruin everything. There wouldn't be anyone to make fun of and making Daria's sister turn bright red would be nearly impossible."

"I knew you liked making her mad." Jane laughed finally.

The room went quiet when they heard the knock. Daria had to clear her throat before her voice was ready for use. "Who is it?"

"Daria, sweetie? Quinn told us that you aren't feeling well today. Are you okay?"

"Fine. I'm just tired."

"Ok… but if you aren't feeling better by this afternoon, I'll call Dr. Phillips and we'll make an appointment. Your Aunt Amy tells me that your job isn't as challenging as one might think."

"Dammit." She whispered under her breath. "It's not necessary."

"Daria?"

"Yeah, Mom?"

"Can I come in?"

"I'd rather you didn't."

"I thought I heard a boy in there. Is it Tom?"

Simultaneous groans emitted from the bed. "No, Mom. If Tom is anywhere around, I wouldn't want him in the garbage much less my room. Go away."

"Fine."

"Go try and wrestle the phone away from Quinn." Daria suggested before she rested her head again. They listened to her click down the hall and collectively let out a breath. "Jane, I can explain. You, I can't."

"Understandable. Your mom doesn't like me." Trent shrugged. "I'm used to it."

"Yes, she does and that's the problem." Daria sighed. "She just thinks you're wasting your potential." The phone rang and no one moved. When Quinn shrieked loudly from down the hall, they knew they were safe. "Guess the fashion club has a crisis."

"I wonder if it's to decide who gets the brain for a date." Jane thought about it. "Stacey? I think she really needs it."

"No, it's to decide who gets the date and someone else will have to take the brain. It really is a burden for the four of them to share a brain and a half."

"Aren't you giving them a whole brain's worth of credit there?"

"No. Sandi always keeps half a brain. She's manipulative. Quinn's got at least half of one at all times or else she'd never keep up. It's that other 50 to 25% of a brain that gets traded around."

"Good one." Trent nodded appreciatively. "Hey Daria. I think I'm actually going to finish That Girl soon."

"Is that the one you started writing the other night?"

"Yeah. Don't know if I'll ever let the band play it though. I still need to write it down. You'll have to help me remember what I've got so far."

"Hey!" Jane smacked them both. "I'm out of the loop. This isn't fair. I have proof. If someone doesn't tell me something… I'll march down to Helen and tell her my raunchy speculations."

"You wouldn't." Daria narrowed her eyes and sat up.

"I'm going to talk to Quinn." Trent announced. "I'm not ready to be present for this talk."

Daria sighed and when Trent was gone, took a breath and leapt into her story. Toward the end of her tale, Aunt Amy wandered in with a tray of food. "Thank me, I had to distract your father with a story about a squirrel in the garbage, which got him out of the house and then your mother ran outside really fast. That was probably a good thing because then a tall and ruggedly handsome-looking fellow wandered into the kitchen." She set the food on the bed. "Daria, I approve."

"You told your aunt before you told me?" Jane threw a Chee-To at Daria.

"She cornered me in the bathroom." Daria threw it back.

"Ah, is that why that boy looked so uncomfortable?" Amy rose to her feet. "I'll let you girls finish talking. I'm going to see if I can't find more buttons to push."

TBC
posted on 20-Jan-2003 3:06:20 PM by DMartinez
Scene IV
June 8, 2002. Friday Morning.


Morgendorffer Residence, Daria's Room.

The three of them had fallen asleep in a tangled heap on the bed when Quinn yelled up the stairs that the phone had rung. Surprisingly, Trent was the first to come to and when he found out who was on the line, he woke Daria up. Jane sat up when all the movement began. Daria jerked awake when she recognized Dr. Phillips's voice. "Hello? Yes. I'm here. I'm sitting and everything and I have people with me and… yes, I'll let you talk."

Daria sat up with one hand on the phone, the other clenching Trent's pant leg. Lane hands held onto her as if to keep her steady and firmly on the bed while she listened. When she hung up the phone, she buried her face in her hands and wept silently. Trent swept her into his arms and rocked her gently, not offering any words that he couldn't back up. Jane leaned against the two of them.

The door burst open and Quinn stood waiting, ready to burst into tears when she saw Daria crying. "What? What happened? What did the doctor say?"

"Doctor?" Helen's voice drifted into the room. "Daria?"

Then Amy from somewhere unseen. "Was it bad news?"

"Bad news?" Jake's voice wandered in.

"I don't know. No one has said anything yet." Quinn returned her gaze to the trio huddled on the bed. "Well?"

"We don't know yet either." Trent answered them.

"Is that a boy?" Helen's voice rose. "After she told me..."

"Yo, Mrs. M." Trent called out. "Can you give us a minute?"

"Well I—"

"Put a sock in it, Helen." Amy yanked her out of the room. "I'll explain it all to you later."

The door was pulled shut. Daria couldn't stop crying. She tried. She tried to talk but she just let it all out. Then she started laughing. Finally, after several long moments, she was able to sit up and face the Lane siblings. "I'm not sick. I'm just a malnourished, overworked, over stressed college kid ending a rigorous study schedule."

"What?" Jane couldn't contain herself and hugged Daria. "That's awesome!"

"Yeah, that's cool." Trent nodded. "Told you."

"Time to face the music." Daria got to her feet and opened the door.

TBC
posted on 20-Jan-2003 3:08:47 PM by DMartinez
Act VII, Scene I
July 3, 2002.


Lane Residence, Jane's room.

Jane dabbed paint onto her canvas with her finger. "Ralph's aunt didn't like the skeletons and decaying carcasses. He had to eat some of his percentage to get more supplies. I drew her a nice southwest scene. A bull skull was her only concession because she read a book with lots of pictures and cattle do indeed die in the desert, leaving their icky remains behind."

"Wow." Daria nodded. "Sounds great."

"Problem was, I also slept in that house. The fumes made me a little loopy. I can't be sure but I may have made out with their neighbors 16 year old son. Geek."

"Didn't think that would be a problem for you." Daria glanced at her friend and found a scowl on the normally pleasant features.

"It usually isn't. You remember that weird delivery guy? The one that had been abducted by aliens? We spent an evening being educated on the matter while eating pizza in the kitchen?"

"Yeah. That kid was a special kind of geek."

"Ralph's aunt's neighbor's kid could have been Pizza boy's love child with the aliens that abducted him."

Daria had to smirk at that. "How do you know you're not carrying a love child?"

"How do you know that you're not?" Jane countered. She pointed a paint-covered finger towards the doorway. "You and my brother forget that I frequently go through the trash looking for potential art."

"Jane." Daria groaned and flopped her head, nose first, into the pillow.

"I can see it now. Trent makes an honest woman of you, sells out to support you and his child, inadvertently going pop-rock, leaving you with plenty of time to choose a career while the bucks roll in." Jane had clasped her hands together and now had a hard time pulling them apart to spread some of the mess on her canvas.

Daria sat up and glared at her friend. "First off, if I keep pushing Trent, he'll never sell out. Second, I got my period. Third, Trent was very relieved by that tidbit. He was so relieved, I was almost insulted. That is not happening again."

"A girl can dream, can't she?" Jane sheepishly shied away from her friend.

"Trent!" Daria yelled out. "I'm going to kill your sister!"

"Cool." Came the reply as Trent passed the room and kept walking.

"Ow! Ow! Ow." Beat. "Ow, Dammit!"

"It's too bad. I liked that sister." Trent shook his head as he descended the stairs.

Scene II
July 8, 2002.


Morgendorffer/Barksdale Residence, Daria's Room/Amy's kitchen.

"Mom won't let me forget that I closed her out. Dad hugs me when he gets home from work everyday. He's still afraid to talk to me though."

"Understandable. Your father really is a fragile man. I admire his inner-strength though. It's a miracle to me that any man could put up with your mother for a week much less twenty-some odd years."

"She's not so bad. When Dad thought he was having another heart-attack, she nearly fell to pieces on me. Apologized for guilt-tripping me, for my childhood neglect and over-attention to Quinn. Of course, two days later I was just her ungrateful daughter again." Daria crossed out a few words in Trent's notebook and filled in some new ones.

"She feels a little betrayed that nearly everyone knew but her."

"I know but…"

"But nothing. Your deal, yours to tell." Amy stirred the pot on her stove. "I met someone."

"When does he become Mr. Barksdale?"

"When he gets a real job. He's amusing for now. If he doesn't show me more depth within a month, he gets the axe."

"You're just using him for the sex."

"Don't know yet."

"Ew."

"Yeah. I know." Silence kept the line for a while. "How's the budding friendship?"

"Better. Trent and I are writing a song together. He started it… that night. It was okay. I liked it acoustic. I told him never to play it on his electric. He said it would be the song he played after he made it and did either MTV Unplugged or was so far beyond his prime and did VH1 Storytellers."

"A man with a plan. I like."

"Yeah. He's got lots of plans. I'm rewriting some of the lines. It should be a good song when it's done."

"How are things really?"

"Awkward when we're alone. He asked me to go with him a couple of weeks ago. His band recorded a demo. Little Sister will be their first single… assuming the local rock station plays it. Who knew that his birthday present to Jane when she turned 16 would launch their career."

"So you think it will?"

"So long as they keep the quality up, sure."

"How are things really?"

"Damn you. Like I said, we have awkward moments but only when we try to speak. We have… comfortable silences. Jane doesn't help matters. Trent told me once, in one of those awkward conversations, that Jane still has hope that I'll be a Lane someday… sadly that was confirmed by me just a few days ago." Daria sighed. "I bit the bullet and talked to Tom finally. Seems he misses my friendship, my quick wit, and brutal honesty. Seems that the people who have gravitated toward him at Bromwell did so because of his last name."

"Friends?"

"Yeah. I decided that if Trent and I could be friends, then it would be no problem for Tom and I to be on civil terms." Silence. "How are you feeling?"

"Good. Good. I have the feeling that I'll be feeling good for a long while."

"Me too."

"Liar."

"You lied first."

"I know. Bad habit. I'll talk to you next month."

"Sure. Let me know if the future Mr. Barksdale ever develops more depth."

"Will do. Let me know when you fall for Wind."

"Funny."

"I know. Bye."

"Bye."

The End