The first story I ever read was "April Is The Cruelest Month". To me, it's one of the best stories out there. The following story I wrote with no intentions of even saving it onto my computer. I would not be posting it, but I sent it to TAG and he asked me to. Well, needless to say I have a soft spot for penguins.http://www.theangstguy.com/fanfics/aprilcruelest.htm
Set-up: A sequel to TAG's Story: "April Is the Cruelest Month". It's the Christmas after the Colorado trip. Daria, Trent and Jane have a new roommate and a new place to live. Daria and Jane are sharing one side of a duplex while Trent and his new roommate, Jane's Aspen boytoy Darryl, occupy the other. How will the four of them celebrate their first Christmas together?
Legal Stuff: Daria is property of MTV, Viacom. The character of Darryl Wilde is property of Mr. Roger Moore.
Author note: This is my first time writing a sequel off of another writers work. "April Is the Cruelest Month" is a great story. It is advised that it should be read before reading mine. I just hope my follow-up story gives the original justice. Link below:
Trent stared out the window into an ever-graying sky. He would have to leave for work early to walk to work. His car was in the shop getting new brakes. Turning to face Daria, Trent sighed as she slept peacefully in his bed. Christmas is just a couple of days away. She needed a break between her classes, work and counseling sessions. Trent watched her chest rise and fall with each breath and smiled. I am glad you decided to stay with us rather than go home for Christmas even though your parents were disappointed, but at least they understood. She had told them of her and Trent's relationship over the summer. Leaving the bedroom, Trent showered and made himself a cup of coffee. Returning to the room fifteen minutes later, he gently kissed Daria's cheek before heading out to work.
A lot had happened since Daria and Jane's return from Colorado. Daria started going for counseling two weeks after their return. Her flashbacks were becoming less frequent, but their intensity still remained strong. Trent witnessed one bad one in May and held her until it passed. The last flashback occurred in September. Starting her senior year with a heavy course load, Daria finished her first semester with a 3.8 GPA. Jane's first semester right before Christmas break and ended up with a 3.2 GPA. Despite the solid grades she was making, Jane was still undecided about pursuing her Masters. A nearby gallery liked her work and soon she was bringing in a steady income. This allowed her to put her settlement money in savings to build interest. Much to her and everyone else's surprise, Darryl moved to Boston in June. Taking classes at Boston University, he was studying to become a physical therapist. Trent was enjoying his job as a guitar instructor and had sold a few songs he had written to some of the bands in the area.
Daria awoke around 9:30. Once she put on her clothes, Daria made Trent's bed, and headed to her and Jane's side of the duplex. Darryl met Daria in passing, talking briefly before the cold sent them indoors. Darryl had began to grow on Daria. She was happy that Jane found someone who truly cared. To him, Jane was a goddess - perfect in every way. Not wanting to admit it out loud, Daria had begun to realize that the trip to Colorado had been worth it. Feeling one of her signature half-smiles come over her, Daria began to think about changing up the living arrangements considering Daria and Darryl hardly stayed on their side of the duplex.
When Darryl moved to Boston, the group decided the apartment would not work. They found a duplex a couple of streets over from the music store Trent worked at. The rent was a little higher but with the four of them working, it wasn't a big issue. It was a one-level duplex with each half having two bedrooms and one bathroom, kitchen and living room. The porch had a ramp leading up to it allowing Jane to come and go as she pleased. Trent and Darryl lived on the left side, Jane and Daria on the right. The back porch was screened in and turned into a makeshift studio for Jane.
Jane laid in bed, eyes closed, thinking about her life as it was now. As her health improved, Jane's passion for art flourished. Her work had become more expressive and no longer fixated on the bleak and negative. Darryl had helped greatly with this for he evoked emotions in her she had never truly felt before. As for the sex, her body jolted with the thoughts running through her head. Jane's mind switched gears when she heard a door close followed by the shower starting. Several minutes later, she heard a knock on her door. She mumbled a grumpy "Enter".
"You want to go shopping with me this afternoon?"
"Sure-- I thought that we weren't exchanging gifts this year?"
"I need something for my parents.. Quinn. Trent."
"Let's head out around two. My body needs some recovery time."
"You would think all the physical therapy you've been doing, a good romp on the mattress wouldn't wear you out."
"I would hit you right now if I could get out of bed. One romp doesn't ... a couple however..."
Daria laughed through her subtle grin. "You want to see Darryl wants to join us?"
"He has to work until 11 tonight. Hey there is a Sick, Sad World marathon tonight. You and Trent want to watch it with me?"
"Looks like it will be a girls night in. Trent's having to stay late to help his boss get the store restocked and reordered."
"Works for me-- we haven't had a just us night in months. Well get out of here so I can get moving." Jane scratched the side of her head.
Daria went into the kitchen to start a pot of coffee.. more for Jane than herself. Turning on her computer, Daria began to growl and grumble. Darryl had used it for a paper and locked it after he was done. Frustration turned to inspiration as Daria realized what she getting him for a Christmas present. As Daria checked her emails, Jane emerged from the bathroom. Grabbing the mug, Jane carefully made her way to the chair next to Daria. Watching her best friend typing another short story for submission, Jane smirked. Between her job at Raft's library and her stories, Daria was building up a nice little savings fund. Like Jane, Daria's writing had changed to reflect a more introspective, personal style. Sure she flashed some of her trademark cynicism here and there, but other emotions began to show. She stunned everyone when she announced that one of her stories was going to be published as part of a romance collection. The book was due out in late January and it was already getting a buzz.
Daria may not have wanted to admit it, but Jane knew exactly why Daria's writing changed ... Trent. In the same light, Trent's song writing had greatly improved since he started seeing Daria. They had found their muses. Jane smiled as she thought about how Trent and Daria reacted when the other walked into a room. You could feel the shift in intensity and electricity in the air. Then a thought came over her : she felt the same way when Darryl was around. Waiting until Daria was at a good stopping point, Jane tapped Daria on the shoulder. The last thing Jane wanted to do was startle her amiga and possibly cause a flashback.
"You ready to leave?"
"Yeah let me save this and I will be. Do you want to drive or do you want me to?"
"I'll drive." Jane said. Daria handed her the keys.
"Do you want to bring your chair?"
"Will we have the room?"
"Yeah-- we should."
"Let's bring it to be on the safe side."
Nodding her head, Daria left to get Jane's wheelchair, which was starting to collect dust. Rolling it out of the house, Daria made her way down the ramp. Getting into the car, Jane noticed a change in Daria's gait. Being in love suits you well, my friend. Loading the chair into the backseat, Daria asked for Jane's crutches and secured them before heading to the passenger side. Staring at each other for a moment, Jane nodded as she started the car. As they drove to the shopping district near their house, Jane could sense Daria was distracted.
"So-- do you have any idea on what to get your family?"
"Dad's been wanting to expand the Morgendorffer menu so I am thinking about one of those heart healthy grills for the kitchen. Quinn is going on a three month tour of Europe next year. I'll probably get her a new digital camera. Mom's the tough one. I want to give her something special, but I am drawing a blank."
"Do you have any recent pictures of all of you?"
"Yeah-- we had a family shot made when I went home in July. Why?"
"Let me see it when we get home-- I'll turn it into a canvas painting."
"Are you sure you don't mind? I'll pay you for it of course."
Jane waved her hand in protest. "Not necessary ... I still owe you for Darryl."
"Thanks Jane - I think that would be a great gift."
"Anytime amiga. Sounds like your shopping will be quick and easy. So why did you want me to come with?"
"To spend time with you. We have both been soo busy lately. Also - I need help finding a gift for Trent." Daria mumbled the last word.
"A-ha! So the truth comes out!" Jane smirked as she parked the car.
Freemont Avenue reminded Daria and Jane of Dega Street back in Lawndale. There were several small shops and restaurants all within walking distance of each other. Daria handed Jane her crutches and started down the sidewalk. Staring at some of the store's decorations with a slight look of sadness, Daria quickly shook it off before Jane could fully notice.
Jane looked over at her best friend. "You know your gifts won't make it to them in time."
"Yeah-- I called mom about that. She told me I could wait until December 26th to mail them. That way they will be there when Quinn returns from her trip with Stacy. Considering that is also the day I get paid from Raft, I took her up on the offer."
The first shop they hit was the electronic store. Daria found a pink digital camera that screamed Quinn. Deciding that was the perfect gift for her sister, Daria grabbed it, a spare camera card, and some rechargeable batteries. While Daria paid, Jane collected the change in order to guarantee no flashback issues. The grill was a little harder to find but with a little persistence, they were successful. She also got her dad a new heart healthy cookbook. Daria was relieved that her dad was truly trying to avoid another heart attack. After bringing the gifts to the car, Jane headed to the art supply store next to the music shop Trent worked at. Making her way across the street, Daria bought wrapping paper and mailing materials. Part of her hated herself for constantly adding the totals in her head to avoid any issues. Putting everything in the car, Daria locked it before going to find Jane. Looking in the art store window, Daria spotted Jane eyeballing a pottery wheel and kiln. This surprised Daria considering Amanda was the primary Lane that worked in that medium.
"I have always wanted to reenact that cheesy scene from that movie." Jane said.
"Okay-- but if you sling clay all over the porch you're cleaning it up. Besides, reenacting that scene might get you and Darryl arrested for public obscenity."
Both of them couldn't help but laugh. Heading out the store, Daria made a mental note as they left. They decided to head to see Trent, who was finishing up giving a lesson. Looking up when he heard their voices, Trent smiled as they walked through the shop. After wishing his student a Merry Christmas, Trent asked his boss if he could go to lunch. Sitting at a tiny deli, they talked about what to cook for Christmas dinner. Daria and Trent would go out tomorrow to buy groceries. As they finished, Jane took all of the loose change out of her pocket and left it as part of the tip. Waiting until Daria and Trent were out the door, Jane placed it on the table, looked at it, and sighed. Although Daria had improved, the change thing was still causing issues and Jane wondered if it always would. Trent gave them both a quick hug before heading back to work. As they continued down the street, a jewelry shop caught Daria's attention. From the store's window, she stared at a silver chain with a black guitar dangling from it. Realizing Daria was no longer beside her, Jane turned back to her friend.
"Do you think he would like that?"
Jane looked at it with a slight grin. "Yeah- especially if that's all you are wearing."
"Funny-- no I mean for him to wear. I mean the ankh is getting old."
"I think he would like the green one beside it more."
As Daria and Jane went inside the shop, the owner smiled and greeted them. Daria stared at a couple of the guitar chains. Each chain had a different musician's guitar. The green one was a replica Hendrix. The owner let her admire the chains while he talked to Jane about her moon and stars earrings. After a couple of minutes, he turned back to Daria.
"You like that one? So does the guitar instructor at the music shop. He gives my son lessons and comes and tells me his progress."
"You mean Trent?" Jane asked.
"Yeah Trent. He's a nice guy and has really helped my son out."
"He's my brother." Jane smiled.
The shopkeeper paused and took a good look at her. "You two look a lot alike. I'm Mr. Shaw." He stuck his hand out.
"Jane - Jane Lane." She returned the gesture. Mr. Shaw then turned his attention to Daria.
"Daria-- Daria Morgendorffer." They shook hands. "How much is that one?"
"Five hundred. If it's for her brother -- I'll sell it to you for three."
"Daria - are you sure ..." Jane said.
"I'll take it." Daria pulled out her money.
Mr. Shaw boxed the chain and handed it to her. Shaking their hands one more time, he stared down at their fingers, making mental notes. They thanked him and headed out the store. He smiled at them as they walked back to their car.
Daria's face kept a half smile on it the entire walk back. It was all Jane could do to suppress the laugh that was dying to come out. Jane knew Daria loved Trent and that he felt the same. Taking the keys out of her pocket, Jane began to drive home. Turning to look at Daria, Jane became concerned when she noticed the same far away look in Daria's eyes from earlier. Jane's mind began to wonder. Daria doesn't look like she is about to have a flashback but she definitely isn't here.
"Is everything okay amiga?"
Unaware that her mind had drifted, Daria shook her head. "Yeah. Do you want to help me wrap this stuff up while we are watching the marathon tonight?"
"Sure. You can help me cover Darryl's gift."
Daria hit her forehead with her palm. "I knew I was forgetting something. I wanted to get him a new monitor so that he can use his computer again. Do you mind if we go back to the electronic store?"
"No problem. I'll hang out at the music store with Trent. That way I can call Darryl and see how his day is going."
"Thanks. Park somewhere in between that way I won't have as far to carry it."
Jane turned the vehicle around and headed back to Freemont. After they parked, Jane reentered the music store. Seeing her moment, Daria quickly went into the art supply store for the pottery wheel, kiln, and clay. Placing them in the trunk, Daria made her way to the electronic store.
Jane sat watching her brother tune some of the instruments. Stopping in mid-tune, Trent stared over at his little sister. "So does she have any idea they are coming?" he asked.
"Not a clue. They even helped with the presents cover story." Jane gave a slight chuckle.
"Cool." Even though his voice didn't express it, his mind was racing. I hope she likes my gift as much as she will yours sis. Looking out the window, Trent nudged Jane when he saw Daria approaching. Immediately, grabbing the phone, Jane called the nursing home that Darryl worked at. As she entered, Trent met her and gave her a quick kiss.
"You two have fun tonight. I'll be home around ten but I have to be here early tomorrow for a eight-thirty lesson. I'll see you tomorrow - I love you Daria. Don't let Janey give you any trouble."
"I love you too. Don't worry. If she does, I'll just send her to your side of the duplex."
Giving them a short hug, Trent watched as Daria and Jane left. While driving home, it hit Jane what had occurred at the music store - Daria admitted her feelings for Trent in public. Daria had never said that to him outside of the house before that moment, at least not when she was around them. Jane drove the rest of the way home with a childlike grin on her face. After they pulled into the driveway, Daria helped Jane out of the car. Jane offered to unload the car, but Daria refused and asked her to order a pizza and start some tea instead. Making her way up the ramp, Jane fumbled with the keys before unlocking the door to the house. Opening up one of the backdoors, Daria pulled out Jane's wheelchair and began to stack everything but Jane's gifts on top of it. Grabbing the pharmacy bag last, Daria removed a smaller bag and placed it in the inner pocket of her coat. She pushed the chair up the ramp and into the house.
"See I knew that chair would come in handy again someday." Jane laughed.
Daria placed all the soon to be gifts in a pile on the floor and began clearing off their coffee table so they could wrap while watching the television. Folding up the wheelchair, she put it back on the porch. Taking off her jacket, Daria placed it carefully on her bed. Hearing the tea kettle, she made her way into the kitchen. After pouring two cups, Daria joined her partner-in-crime on the couch. Jane was sitting with her legs stretched out. A few minutes later, Daria sat her cup down before heading to the bathroom. When her amiga returned, Jane shifted slightly so that she could place her lower legs on Daria's lap. The weight of the braces didn't bother Daria. Jane turned on the TV to watch the show that had been the source of endless conversations since their friendship began.
When the pizza arrived, Jane reached into her pocket and handed Daria the money. Sitting the pizza down, Daria went into the kitchen and grabbed a couple of plates. They would stop eating long enough to throw a sarcastic remark or two at the television. For a brief couple of hours, they were not adults, but the high-schoolers they were when they became friends years before. After the first few episodes, Daria's mood shifted. Jane sensed it, but was unsure how to approach it. The distant stare Daria had earlier that day had returned yet again.
"Daria - are you alright? Is there something you want to talk about?"
"I'm fine ... I just wish my parents were closer. Don't get me wrong - you and Trent are family too - Darryl as well. I wish that all of us were together this year." Daria's voice was melancholy.
"Do you want to go home? I mean we would understand ... "
"No! I want to be here. I love you guys-- well I love Trent. The rest of you I love in a sisterly way." Daria's half smile shined.
"As long as its a sisterly way and not a cousinly way, I'm cool. I love you too amiga. I know I don't say this often enough but thank you." Tears formed in Jane's eyes. "If it wasn't for you and Trent ... I ... I" Jane stopped herself. "Do you really see me as a part of your family?"
Daria's dumbfounded expression said it all. "Jane - I have seen you as my sister since the day we met."
Jane wiped off her face. "Me too. So ... any clue on what Trent is getting you for Christmas?"
"Nope. My luck - the same chain I just got him."
"I reitterate my previous statement on that item." Jane's evil grin shined.
Daria shot her a death stare look then rolled her eyes. Gently, Daria slid Jane's legs over so she could clean up dinner. Once everyone's gifts were wrapped and the marathon ended, Jane popped in her favorite Christmas movie, "A Christmas Story." As it began, Daria stretched lengthwise on the couch. Jane did likewise in the opposite direction. About twenty minutes into the movie, Daria was asleep. Staring up at the clock, concern fell over Jane's face. It was only 8:45, Daria never falls asleep before eleven. Grabbing her crutches, she stood up and felt the urge to make sure her best friend was okay.
Placing her hand on Daria's forehead, Jane sighed in relief. 'No fever... she must really be tired. She went into her room and grabbed some pillows and a blanket. Placing a pillow under Daria's head, Jane then took the blanket to make almost a tent like covering. Positioning her own pillow, she slid onto the couch to watch the rest of the movie. About an hour later, the phone rang. Jane answered it on the first ring so that it wouldn't wake Daria up.
"Hey Janey.. can I speak to Daria?"
"Sorry, she's asleep on the couch Trent."
"Don't wake her up. Janey, I'm worried - she fell asleep early last night too. I hope she is feeling okay."
"Well, she doesn't have a fever, maybe she's just drained. She did have a brutal exam week last week on top of working thirty hours at the stacks. On top of that, she has really been missing her family today. I'll keep an eye on her for you Trent."
"I know you will Janey. You and her are my entire world ... night Janey."
"Night Trent. Do me a favor, leave Darryl a note and tell him not to call tonight. I am going to crash here in the living room."
Trent's words had caused Jane's mind to go into overdrive as she watched her best friend sleep. Daria would tell me is she wasn't feeling well right? She has been more open since she started getting counseling. If she is like this tomorrow, I am dragging her to get checked out. Jane tried her best to get comfortable and drifted asleep around midnight.
The next morning, Daria woke up with a leg cramp. Jane's braced legs had her pinned to the couch back. Carefully curling herself into a ball, Daria rolled to swing her legs over. Checking to make sure her movements didn't wake Jane up, Daria sighed in relief. Looks like we both needed a some decent rest. Stopping by her room, she grabbed some clothes and her jacket and headed for the shower. About thirty minutes later, she started cooking breakfast. Jane, smelling the bacon and coffee, woke up. Daria seemed to be in good spirits. She must have been tired that's all.
"I hope my braces weren't the reason you got up."
"Nope. I have only been up about forty minutes or so. Sorry I fell asleep on ya. I guess I really needed a good night's rest."
"You just needed a boinking free night." Jane smirked as she looked at the clock. "Damn-- I got almost nine hours sleep."
"Guess I wasn't the only one who needed a boinking free night."
"What is on your agenda for today?"
"I have got to work on my story -I want to get it sent off before this afternoon. Then Trent and I are going grocery shopping. If there is something you want or need, write it down. After that, we will pick up Trent's car from the shop. What time is your physical therapy session?"
"One. Darryl's off today and wants to take me. I hate that he has to work Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. At least he is only working until three and is off the day after so Christmas night will at least be merry. Maybe we'll play 'kiss what part of me is under the mistletoe.'" Jane's smile widened.
Daria looked at her friend and laughed as they sat down for breakfast. After the meal was over, Jane left the living room to take a shower. There was a knock on their door. Knowing who it was, Daria let Darryl in and pointed to the bathroom. A big grin came over his face as he made his way down the hall. Grabbing her headphones, Daria finished cleaning the kitchen and headed to her computer and began typing.
Darryl entered the bathroom. Turning to him, she smiled as her finger motioned for him to join her. Not having to be told twice, he quickly got undressed. Sitting on the shower bench, Jane began kissing his neck while he undid her braces and began to slowly massage her legs. As they exchange deep kisses, she reached behind him to turn the shower on.
"May I wash your back?" He whispered.
"You can wash anything you want." Jane began kissing his neck.
"It would be my pleasure." Darryl's smile could melt an iceberg.
Daria took advantage of the unplanned boinking session. Walking out to her car, she grabbed Jane's gifts, wrapped them, and placed them in her room. Nodding with a small sense of accomplishment, Daria headed back into the living room and resumed typing. When Jane and Darryl emerged an hour later; soaked and satisfied, Daria was acting as though she never left that spot.
"Darryl and I are heading out. We'll catch you later."
"Okay. Trent and I will probably be gone by the time you get back. Any ideas on what to cook for Christmas dinner?"
"Well, it takes to long to thaw a turkey. I have been wanting to cook a pot roast for awhile."
Jane looked at her in a somewhat state of shock. "You know how to cook a roast? Why haven't you done it before now woman?"
Daria shrugged. "I don't know. Aunt Amy taught me a few years back. There's alot of things I know how to cook but never had the time. I really should try to cook more often." A look of deep thought came over Daria's face.
"Yeah you should especially if real food is involved." Jane and Darryl left.
Daria went into her room and pulled a cookbook from the shelf and flipped through some of the recipes she wanted to try. She marked Hawaiian Chicken with rice pilaf, homemade lasagna with salad and garlic bread, and a pot roast with veggies as possible dinners over the next three days. Maybe dad is rubbing off on me a little. Laughing at herself for the thought, she began to make out her grocery list.
Trent headed to the jewelry store to give Mr. Shaw an update on his son's progress. A look of disappointment came over his face when he saw the chain he had been wanting was gone. Replacing his ankh had been something he had thought about doing for almost a year now. Shrugging it off, Trent began to look at the ring case. Mr. Shaw watched him begin to scour of the selection.
"So Trent-- how is John doing?"
"Really good. He learned two new chords today that he will have to practice this week. I hate that you sold that Hendrix chain."
"Don't worry-- I can get another ordered in January. So, do you see something you like?"
"I want to buy my girlfriend the perfect ring, but I don't know what size her finger is."
Mr. Shaw thought about the auburn haired girl who had bought the chain the day before. Daria, that was her name. "Trent-size doesn't matter, we can always fit it. What matters is does the ring say what you want it to."
Nodding in understanding, Trent stared at the collection. His eyes kept going back to an emerald and diamond ring. As Mr. Shaw pulled the ring out, he saw the look in Trent's eyes.
"Compare your hand to hers. Are her fingers wider or narrower?"
"Narrower, but not by much."
Mr. Shaw studied his hand. She's probably a size nine or ten - better go with a ten. Rings need to be a little loose."
"How much is it?"
Mr. Shaw hesitated for he knew the ring cost more than Trent could afford. He also knew the purpose of the purchase. This wasn't going to be just a Christmas present. Turning to the photo of he and his wife, Mr. Shaw drew in a deep breath. She will probably kill me later for what I am about to do.
"Trent - consider it a gift. For the great job you have been doing with John. He's even getting better grades in school because he is more focused. Now before you say something.. don't argue, just take it. This is my Christmas gift to you. Carrying the ring to a special machine, he set it to size 10. There you go - if it doesn't fit ... bring it back with her and I'll take care of it."
Trent looked at Mr. Shaw speechless. As a way of showing his gratitude, Trent agreed to give John an extra lesson during the week on his day off free of charge. Realizing that his time was running short, he wished Mr. Shaw a Merry Christmas and left. His face almost couldn't hold his smile. Looking at his watch, Trent ran back to the music store and waited outside for Daria to pick him up. Stuffing the tiny box into his pocket, he kissed her cheek as she pulled up to the curb.
He was stunned to see an actual grocery list in her hands. This side of her surprised him. After loading the groceries in the back seat, they picked up his car. He placed the ring box in his glove compartment. Once they arrived home, Trent helped Daria put away the groceries before heading to his side of the duplex to shower. Arriving home from physical therapy and a walk through the park, Darryl and Jane inhaled the smell coming from the kitchen as it encircled the house. Jane opened the door to see Daria and Trent watching tv with an egg timer in front of them.
"What is for dinner?" Darryl asked.
"Hawaiian chicken with rice pilaf." Trent replied with a goofy grin.
Before anyone could reply, the kitchen timer went off. Trent set the table while Daria pulled dinner out of the oven. Everyone was stunned - they didn't think it could taste better than it smelled, but it did. Darryl and Trent agreed to clean up duty. The rest of their evening was spent watching movies. Having to be at work early the next day, Darryl and Jane headed to her room early. Daria and Trent went into her room around eleven. Holding his girlfriend as she slept, Trent thought about the two days ahead.
Christmas Eve morning, Trent crawled quietly out of Daria's bed. Jane was already up and in the living room - coffee in hand. Trent sat down beside her - both were grinning from ear to ear. Daria was still out like a light. The two siblings looked at each other with a sense of contentness.
"So - when does their flight arrive?" Jane asked.
"Noon. I'll bring them to my side first so they can unpack. Daria needs to be out and about." Trent replied.
"I'll take care of that." Jane looked at her brother who was lost in thought. "What is going on in that head of yours Trent?"
"Nothing important. I am sitting here realizing just how lucky I am. You're getting better, I have a great job, and Daria to be by my side." Trent hugged his little sister. "What about you and Darryl. Are you happy?"
"Very." Jane's smile was genuine.
The Lane siblings quit talking when they heard Daria get out of bed. Heading for the bathroom with a change of clothing in hand, Daria was oblivious to her surroundings. Jane pointed to the bathroom with an evil grin.
"No time for that if we want to pull this off Janey."
After shooting his little sister and evil look, Trent headed to his side of the duplex to shower and change. About twenty minutes later, Daria made it into the living room. Jane had poured herself a new cup of coffee and offered a mug to Daria who refused before going into the kitchen for a bowl of cereal and orange juice. With the caffeine finally hitting her system, Jane started to come up with a plan while Daria ate.
"Hey Daria.. ride with me to the video store. I want to see if they have any cheery sappy Christmas movies left. Maybe after we can grab some lunch."
"Do you think Trent would like to join us?"
"He said something about getting more sleep. So come with?"
"Sure. I wonder if they'll have 'Santa Conquers the Martians'. Twenty bucks says it's already rented." Daria stopped and closed her eyes. Her face grimaced.
Oh shit! NonononoNO! NOT TODAY! Jane's mind hit panic mode. "Daria-- amiga-- stay with me. Daria?"
Daria shook her head and slowly opened her eyes. "Sorry. I'm fine. I need to gather my thoughts for a moment."
"Are you sure?"
Daria could see the concern in Jane's eyes. "Yeah, but we have to be back here by four though. I want to cook lasagna - real lasagna - not the frozen stuff."
Jane wondered if Daria was okay. That was the closest Daria had come to having a flashback in months. Something must be weighing on her mind. Man, I hope that flight is on time. Maybe having her family around will help her mood and calm her down. Her thoughts were broken when Daria rattled the car keys.
"Come on. Time's wasting and there are bad movies to be rented." Daria smiled.
Trent waited nervously at the airport. He kept a close eye on the arrival board. The Morgendorffer's flight was running on time. Making his way to terminal 4b, he saw them at the luggage corral. After helping Jake with the suitcases, he directed them to the car. On the drive home, they talked about how Daria and Jane were doing and his job. The conversation was much more relaxing than Trent was expecting. Carrying their luggage to his side of the duplex, Trent gave them a brief tour. To give the Morgendorffers some privacy, Trent and Darryl were going to stay on Daria and Jane's couches that evening. They couldn't wait to see Daria and surprise her. After they unpacked, Trent let them into the girl's side of the duplex. Leading them to the back porch, Trent showed off Jane's art works. Hearing a car pull into the driveway, Trent looked out the window to see Darryl walking up the ramp. Following a brief introduction, Darryl ran to take a quick shower.
Staring at her watch, Jane knew they were cutting it close. A look of relief came over her face when she saw Darryl and Trent on the porch. Stopping in front of her boyfriend, Jane hugged Darryl before bringing him inside. Walking up to Daria, Trent kissed her cheek as she leaned against him.
"Daria-- I just wanted you to know it meant a lot to me and Janey that you stayed here this Christmas. I love you."
"I love you too. I just wish my mom, dad and Quinn were here. Yeah, they drive me crazy--but I miss them." Daria sighed.
Trent looked down at her. "We better go inside before Jane starts pulling out the mistletoe."
Trying to look stoic, Daria gave up and started laughing. Trent stood behind her as she opened the door. Daria's auburn eyes brightened as she entered the living room. The Morgendorffers stood up and hugged their oldest daughter. Watching the scene before him, Trent leaned against the door frame and smiled.
"Looks like your wish was granted." Trent whispered.
"Jane couldn't think of what to get you for Christmas kiddo -- so she got you us!" Jake grinned.
"You are soo hard to buy for." Jane said as Trent came up and placed his hand on his little sister's shoulder.
Taking a moment to compose herself, Daria went over and hugged Jane. "This was the best gift you could have given me. Thanks."
"Anytime amiga." Jane could feel her eyes begin to water.
"So Jane tells us that you're cooking dinner tonight. Are you sure you don't order out?" Helen asked.
"Yep, and considering I am already running behind, I better get started. Quinn - want to give me hand?"
Quinn jumped up to join her sister. The siblings talked about school while getting dinner ready. Looking over at Darryl and Jane getting grilled by Helen, Daria couldn't help but laugh. Excusing himself before Helen could get her hooks on him, Trent left to get his guitar. Soon the sounds of Christmas songs filled the air. While the lasagna was in the oven, Daria and Quinn joined the others in the living room. Daria sat in between her mom and Trent while Quinn kept shooting glances at Jane. When she could see that Daria was completely distracted, Quinn reached over and gave her a quick high five. Because the dinner table was cramped for space, Darryl, Jane, and Trent ate in the living room. Helen watched as Daria and Trent kept exchanging glances and smiled. Helen knew that Daria had been having a hard time since Jane's accident and about Trent had helped them and changed. Noticing that her mother was staring at her, Daria turned to her mom and grinned.
After dinner, everyone sat to watch "It's a Wonderful Life". Helen, Jake and Quinn would have to leave tomorrow afternoon. Helen's firm had landed a big case and Quinn was going on a ski trip with Stacy. Because of the short amount of time they had everyone decided to exchange gifts that night. Daria went into her room and got everyone's gifts and handed her parents and Quinn their presents first. Then, she gave Darryl and Jane theirs. Jane grinned evilly at Darryl when she saw the pottery wheel. Her family loved the gifts, especially the painting Jane had made from the picture Daria had given her. Daria gave everyone a copy of the romance collection her story was a part of. Quinn gave Daria a gift certificate to a chain spa that had a location nearby and a set of the complete works of William Shakespeare. Helen and Jake handed her a cashier's check for $20,000. Looking at it in astonishment, Daria stood frozen.
"We know you like the duplex, but its time you started thinking about a permanent residence. Consider this the down payment." Helen said.
As she felt the corners of her eyes water, Daria hugged them. "Thank you.. this means alot to me."
Jane looked over at Darryl. "I can't give you my gift in here. Follow me."
Curious, Darryl headed to Jane's room as she took him to a covered canvas. Slowly, he undid the sheet to reveal the nude self portrait Jane had made for him and could feel his mouth began to water. "This is beautiful. You're beautiful." He gave her a deep, passionate kiss. After a couple more kisses, They went back into the living room.
Seeing Darryl and Jane heading back into the living room, Daria turned to Trent. "I hope you like it."
Trent opened the little box and smiled. Lifting the chain up to admire the emerald guitar, he ran his fingers over it. Taking off the ankh that had encased his neck for years, he replaced it with the Hendrix chain.
"Mr. Shaw at the jewelry store said that you had been looking at it for weeks."
"Yeah ... I have been. I love it -it's perfect." Trent started rubbing the back of his neck.
Jane could sense her brother was beginning to nervous. She stared at him intensely. Shifting his vision from Daria to the floor, he could feel his stomach constricting. Steeling up his nerves, Trent took a deep breath. and reached into his pocket. Jane's eyes were full of tears before his hand was even out.
"I know we told each other that we weren't going to give each other Christmas presents. So, I was hoping you would consider this an engagement gift." Trent opened the box and lifted up the emerald and diamond ring.
"Trent -- are you..."
"Daria Morgendorffer.... will you marry me?"
Daria stared deeply into his eyes. She had wanted this moment to happen for years. Then, with her family looking on, Daria gathered her courage and whispered "Yes."
Trent slid the ring on her finger. He tilted her head and kissed her for what seemed like an eternity. Helen, Jane and Quinn burst into tears. As their lips parted, Daria embraced him. "I love you Trent."
"I love you too Daria."
Jake stood up and shook Trent's hand. "Welcome to the family Trent! You too Jane-O!" Jake was smiling from ear to ear.
"Thanks Mr. Morgendorffer. Welcome to ours as well." Jane looked over at Daria and Trent as they went up to her and gave her a hug.
"Looks like I'm going to have to trade out amiga for sis now." Jane smirked. "Congratulations. I always knew you two were meant to be." Jane was doing her best to stay composed.
Darryl looked at the three of them. Knowing it was now or never, he placed his hand on Jane's shoulder to get her attention. Daria and Trent moved back and sat beside Quinn. Jane's eyes were completly focused on him.
"If Daria and Trent don't mind ... why don't we turn it into a double ceremony." Darryl pulled out the ring his aunt Trina had made for him.
Smiling, Trent and Daria looked at him. "We don't mind at all."
"Jane -- what do you say..?"
Jane sat stunned and speechless. Trent and Daria - she could see. She never expected this..not after the accident. Her blue eyes began to blaze. as her thoughts ran wild. He wants to be with me for the rest of our lives. Colorado was well worth it - worth every minute. Jane quickly snapped back into the moment.
"Let's have a double wedding." Jane watched as Darryl placed the ring on her finger. The look of pure happiness that was on her face could not be described.
Trent gave Darryl a thumbs up. Looking at his soon to be brother-in-law, Darryl nodded. Trent liked Darryl and thought the two of them made a good couple. More importantly, he was glad to see his little sister happy, especially now. The wreck was in their past, the aftermath was still affecting the present, but the future held promise.
The group talked for a couple of hours. Wishing everyone good night, Darryl and Jane headed for her room at ten. The rest of them stayed in the living room for another hour. Daria walked her parents and Quinn to Trent's side of the duplex. They stood on the porch for a moment staring into the night sky.
"Do you truly love Trent?"
"Yes, Yes I do." Daria's half-smile gave way to a smile her family had never seen before.
"We hope that you and Trent ... and Jane and Darryl make that feeling last for the rest of your lives." Jake said, staring at a blushing Helen.
Daria's eyes told a soulful tale. "We will dad... we will."
After hugging both of their daughters, Helen and Jake went inside. Daria and Quinn stayed on the porch. The two siblings looked over at each other in silence. Placing her hands on her little sister's shoulders, Daria stared Quinn.
"I would never admit this under oath or anything, but I'm glad you came for Christmas. It's been an interesting one to say the least."
"Ain't that the truth; however, I saw this coming years ago. You just needed a reason to open up. Granted, Jane almost getting killed would not have been my first choice. Is she doing alright?"
Daria nodded. "She is doing great - her doctors are really impressed with how well she is recovering. I was just thinking, you know Quinn - you've turned out to be a pretty good sister. You're going to make a great aunt."
Quinn looked at Daria as her brain registered the words Daria had just said. When Quinn went to speak, Daria stopped her. Flashing a half smile, Daria placed a finger against Quinn's lips. Quinn just smiled, nodded, and embraced her big sister. Before letting her emotions get the best of her, Daria quickly changed the subject.
"I was not expecting Darryl to propose to Jane. They have only been dating since April if you include the trip, May if you don't. He's a great guy who treats Jane wonderfully. I'm actually glad we went on that damn ski trip."
"Jane deserves a great guy like him. She looked soo serene the rest of the evening."
"I think for the first time in her life - she is truly happy." Daria gave her sister one more quick hug. "Goodnight sis."
Daria headed back to her side of the duplex. Daria was right. Jane was truly happy. Watching Darryl sleeping next to her, she stared at the ring on her finger in awe. In one night, she got everything she wanted. Daria was going to be her sister-in-law, correction sister. She was going to marry the man of her dreams. Making a solemn promise to herself, she vowed that was going to walk down the aisle without those damn crutches. Closing her eyes, Jane grinned as she slept.
Daria woke up around eight. She looked down at Trent, who was still resting. Sliding out of bed, Daria got up and checked on Jane, who was still asleep and smiling. Daria smirked as she walked away from the room. She went ahead and showered before starting breakfast. The smell of pancakes, coffee and bacon woke up the dozing siblings. Making his way into the kitchen, Trent wrapped his arms around Daria and kissed her. Not wanting to disturb them, Jane watched the scene from the hallway entrance.
"I'll go get your parents. Their return flight is at two. I'll be right back soon-to-be Mrs. Lane." As he broke his embrace from Daria, Trent waved at his sister and left.
Jane couldn't help but laugh at the expression on Daria's face. A few minutes later, Trent reentered with Daria's family in tow. Leaving the duplex once again, Trent went ahead and loaded the Morgendorffers' luggage and gifts. Inside the kitchen, Quinn headed toward Daria. The look exchanged between the two made Jane wonder. Quinn looked at the ring and nodded. Trent had good taste. After he was finished with their belongings, Trent joined his soon to be in-laws for breakfast and wedding talk.
The time past too quickly. They wanted to be at the airport by noon for baggage check. Trent and Jane would drive Helen and Jake. Quinn asked to ride with Daria. Happy to see her daughters getting along, Helen agreed as Quinn got into the passenger seat.
"So are you going to tell mom and dad?"
"Not right now - I have to tell Trent first. Quinn, you're the first person I told. I am entrusting you with this information. I'll probably tell mom and dad on New Year's Day."
In that moment, Quinn realized just how her relationship with Daria had changed. No longer were they rivaling siblings - instead both had matured, and were friends as well as sisters. A great sense of honor came over her. She would never see Daria the way she had in the past again. Maybe if her mom and aunts saw how she and Daria had evolved, they would stop their bickering for good.
They arrived at the airport and checked everything in and ate lunch at the little restaurant inside. As their flight was being announced, Jake gave Daria a quick hug and waved goodbye to Trent and Jane. Helen gave Trent and Jane a hug and kissed Daria's cheek. Quinn congratulated all of them one last time. She and Daria exchanged half smiles before Quinn headed to the terminal. Wanting to watch their plane head down the runway, Daria kissed Trent as he headed back to the house. Standing with her partner-in-crime, Jane watched the plane roll. Arriving back to her car, Daria sat in the driver's seat and sighed. Jane reached over and squeezed Daria's shoulder. Daria's auburn eyes allowed a tear to fall. Feeling the drop run down her cheek, she quickly wiped her face.
"Thank you for - for hell everything sis."
"Sis- I like the sound of that."
As they drove, the snow started to gently fall. When they pulled up, Darryl and Trent were sitting on the porch. Going inside, Darryl grabbed Jane's wheelchair. Trent continued strumming his guitar. Once Daria parked, Darryl opened the passenger door and carefully placed Jane inside her chair. Memories of April were reflected by the expression on Jane's face. After wheeling Jane onto the porch, Darryl left for his side of the duplex and returned with four cups of hot chocolate. Daria grabbed Jane's crutches and brought them inside. Heading for her bedroom, she pulled out the one present left in her room and decided now was the time. Drawing a deep and heavy breath, Daria made her way back outside. Biting her top lip, she stood in front of Jane and Trent.
"There was one present I wanted to wait to give you until today." She handed them the wrapped box. "Just unwrap it and open it, nothing else."
Jane watched Trent carefully take off the paper and removed the lid off the box. They looked down and realized what was inside. Their eyes immediately shot back up to Daria, who blushed and nodded. Setting the box down, Trent fell to his knees and pulled Daria tightly to him. Jane sat in a state of ecstatic shock. After several minutes, Trent stood up and let Daria sit down. Trent was on one side of her, Jane on the other. They each placed a hand on Daria's abdomen. Daria placed her hands on top of theirs.
"Merry Christmas Trent." Her voice low but happy.
"Merry Christmas Aunt Janey and Uncle Darryl." Daria squeezed Jane's hand.
Those words rushed over Jane like a tidal wave. She returned Daria's gesture as she liked the way warmth of the words had engulfed her. Jane turned to her brother, who had a look of complete peace on his face. Daria's head was resting on his shoulder. He directed a glance toward Jane. The look he gave her could never be described in words. She hoped she could remember it for a painting. Then, she felt Darryl's arms gently wrap around her shoulders and neck. So this is what family feels like. The four of them sat silently and watched the falling of the pure white snow.