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Jesse's Girl

by Jill Palmer

Contrary to what the title may lead you to believe, Tom IS in this fic. It’s just a different look at things... read and see.

I did not create Daria, or any of Lawndale’s citizens, braindead though most of them are. MTV did. Post this story on your site if you so desire, but tell me where it is if I didn’t send it to you. I like to keep tabs on my personality and parts thereof.
Note re: continuity: None of “Jane’s Addition” except for parts re: the multimedia project happened for the sake of this fic. (Read: Daria and Jane did NOT go to Mystik Spiral’s gig to ask Trent about the music for their project. They asked later. The rest of it’s par for the course.) If at any point it feels like I’m just copying the ep, keep in mind that I’ve never seen it.

Daria Morgendorffer and Jane Lane were in the former’s bedroom, staring down the ceiling on a perfectly boring Friday. Rooting through Daria’s CDs on Jane’s part produced the current listening selection - “Letterbox” by They Might Be Giants.
“So, what do you want to do?” Daria asked.
“I don’t know. What do *you* want to do?” Jane shot back.
“We really *are* bored, if it’s come to that.” Daria saw the mischevous smirk forming on Jane’s face. She knew what was coming, and allowed her friend to continue, set to drop the bomb.
“Mystik Spiral’s got a gig tonight. Why don’t we go? I’m sure Trent would *love* to see you...”
“Cut it out, yenta. I got over any feelings I had for your brother over that stupid project for O’Neill.” A pause for thought, then: “Oh, what the hell. Let’s go. But if you try any yenta whatsoever, I kill.”
At McGrundy’s, the girls shared a table and a plateful of cheese fries while listening to the band. Between “Behind My Eyelids” and “Mr. Normal”, Daria siad, “I’m gonna get a soda. I’ll be back.”
“Later,” Jane replied as Daria headed off.
In line, the ‘Quinn’ side of Daria, small though it was, took hold of her for a few moments when she spotted a cute guy. Green eyes, brown hair that seemed slightly too long in the back, wearing a blue turtleneck and khakis. _I’ll have to talk to him after I get my soda,_ she thought.
So she did.
“Hey. Enjoying the band?”
“If you call getting your eardrums blasted out enjoyment, sure,” he replied. Daria could tell from the grin on his face that he was well adapted to the joys of sarcasm. This was someone she wanted to get to know better.
“I’m Daria.”
Daria looked back at the table she’d been sharing with Jane upon noticing Mystik Spiral had stopped. Sure enough, she was laughing over something with Jesse.
“I would offer you a seat,” she said to Tom, “but it seems my friend’s... tied up at the moment.”
Tom looked over at the table Daria was pointing out. “Isn’t the guy with the band?”
“Yeah,” Daria replied. “Her brother was the one singing.”
“Does she sing too?”
“Let’s put it this way. When she does, I threaten to kill her.”
“Well, she’s got to do *something* with her spare time. So do you.”
“Jane divides her spare time between running, painting or drawing, and trying to set me up with her brother.” _Which should become a thing of the past after these messages._ “I write, embarrass my younger, popular sister in front of her friends and suitors, and hang out with Jane.”
Tom smirked. “Except when she’s running?”
Daria smirked herself. “Damn straight. I’m winded well before she’s even thinking about quitting.”
“I’m getting kinda hungry. Want to go get some pizza with me?”
“Why not? I didn’t eat before I came here, and cheese fries aren’t very filling.”
Jane looked up just in time to see Daria leave the club with... a guy?!? Well, if that was hat she called “being back”, fine then.
She couldn’t help but wonder which had started the talking.
Daria raised an eyebrow and looked from Tom to the rusting heap of metal he laughingly called a car. Than back to Tom.
“I’m supposed to get *in* that thing?”
“Consider it an adventure.”
“Yeah, I’ll say,” she deadpanned. “An adventure just trying to find a seat.”
Tom grinned. “Oh, come on. It isn’t *that* bad.” He started towards the driver’s side door. “I am getting an upgrade soon. It’ll only be slightly *less* junky, but that’s an improvement in itself.”
“Oh, what the hell.” Daria sighed and opened the front passenger door. “You *were* going to Pizza King, right?”
“Of course,” he replied, starting up the car. “Only the best pizza in town.”
As the car started out of the parking lot, Daria deadpanned, “Oh my God, it moves.”
The next day, Daria was visiting Jane’s. Jane kept giving her starnge looks, and once felt Daria’s forehead with the back of her hand.
“Unhand me, Lane. What the hell are you doing?”
“Trying to make sure you’re all right,” Jane answered. “You left the club last night with a guy. You never do that.”
“But I did.”
Jane saw her theory going to pot. Flustered, she replied, “Whatever. Who was that guy, anyway?”
Daria sadistically waited until Jane had taken a drink of her Surge and was setting up a fresh canvas to reply. “Oh, just my new boyfriend.”
Jane did a beautiful spit take - all over the canvas, of course. “All right, girl,” she said, turning to Daria. “Now that you’ve chased my muse off, I demand details.”
“You would’ve wanted them anyway.” Daria smirked at her friend’s oblivion to her instant artwork and explained the proceedings of the night before.
Jane was skeptical. “You saw him while you were in line after that soda, and went over to talk to him based on that?”
“Confession time.” Daria sighed. “I do happen to share a few of Quinn’s boy-finding genes. I just don’t let them rule my life is all.”
“Oh.” Jane then launched into her best possible imitation of Daria’s ditzy sister. “Eww! Daria, why would you want to borrow my jeans? You have your own, you know.” She couldn’t continue any longer, and broke off into laughter. Daria merely smirked.
“I have a date tonight, you know,” she said thoughtfully. “Just pizza and the arcade. Why don’t you call Jesse? We could make it a double date.”
“Not a bad idea.” As Jane reached for the phone, she noticed for the first time the Surge-splattered canvas. “Cool! Instant art, just add surprise. But I can’t think of a name for it. You got one, Daria?”
Daria smirked. “As a matter of fact, I do. ‘Spit Take Number One: Daria Has a Boyfriend?’”
Jane rolled her eyes, then picked up the phone and dialed Jesse’s number.
Tom stood on the front step of the Morgendorffer residence, waiting for someone to open the door. He ran over what Daria had said about her parents and sister in his head.
A middle-aged man with brown hair, wearing a blue polo-style shirt, tan slacks, and loafers opened the door. He took one look at Tom and yelled, “Quinn! Your date is here!” in the general direction of a stairwell.
“Actually, I’m here for Daria,” Tom said.
“Daria has a date?”
The source of this reaction was a redheaded girl who looked like she was about a year younger than Daria and Tom. Her attire was a pink spaghetti-strap top with a yellow butterfly on it, a *very* short denim skirt, and pink platform sandals. _This must be Quinn,_ Tom thought, and that hypothesis was backed up by her following rant:
“How could *Daria* get a date? She’s a brain. *I’m* the cute, popular one! Why would anyone want to go out with a *brain* when they *could* be dating *me?*”
“*Excuse* me.” Tom’s patience was starting to wear thin - it was obvious to him why someone would pass up a date with Quinn if Daria was available. The last thing he wanted to do was lose his cool. “Would one of you please get Daria?”
“Oh, all right,” the redhead replied. She turned toward the stairs and yelled, “*Daria! Your date’s here!*”
“I’m right here, ‘Lungs’ Morgendorffer.”
That said, Daria came down the stairs. She was wearing the same orange shirt and boots she’d had on at the club, but was wearing camouflage pants instead of the black skirt. Her green jacket was tied around her waist.
“Those are *my* pants!” the redhead exclaimed, miffed.
“But do you ever wear them? No.”
“The defense rests their case,” Tom commented. “You all set?”
Daria smirked. “Sure am.”
When they got to the car, Tom said, “Please tell me your sister doesn’t dress like that all the time.”
“She wouldn’t get away with it,” Daria responded. “But she’s vice president of the school Fashion Club, so that just means she finds as many occasions to do so as possible.”
After picking up Jane and Jesse, they headed for Pizza King. Therein each couple sat on one side of Daria and Jane’s usual booth. All four split a pepperoni pizza. “Send Me on My Way” by Rusted Root could be heard in the background if one chose to listen carefully enough.
“How come I’ve never seen you around school?” Jane asked Tom.
“I go to the preparatory academy on the edge of town,” he explained. “Believe me, it’s not my choice.”
Daria smirked. “Not like you’d be much better off at... Laaawndale Hiiigh,” she said. “That’s how the principal says the name of the school, thank God she doesn’t make everybody say it like that. Due to her spending textbook money on hidden cameras for the restrooms and bribes for those in higher positions, we’re learning from stuff written in the 1950’s.”
“Yep. That may be a good thing in history, seeing as the print date means it doesn’t mention Vietnam. Kevin and Brittany drive the teacher crazy on their own just fine.”
“I’d hate to see him in the FC’s class,” Jane commented.
“Yeah,” Jesse agreed.
“The headmaster at my school is about the same way as your principal,” Tom said.
Daria raised an eyebrow. “Headmaster? Sounds like he’s out to control someone’s mind.”
“It gets worse.” Tom grinned. “Due to his spending about the entire school’s budget on hidden cameras for the lockers and bolts to keep the chairs in place, we’re learning from textbooks written in the 1850’s.”
Upon hearing this tidbit of information, Daria did something she rarely did.
She laughed out loud.
Jane, though she was grinning, managed to give Daria a raised eyebrow. Tom had figured out early on that this wasn’t Daria’s normal behavior, and though he’d made that up (partially) to try and get her to laugh, was genuinely surprised.
“Whoa,” Jesse said.
“Please, Jesse, hold off on your rambling tonight,” Jane snarked. “We simply don’t have time for your usual rants.” This started her and Tom laughing too, but left Jesse in the dark.
At the arcade, Daria and Tom tried out a shoot-the-aliens-and-terrorists game while Jane and Jesse played Pacman. They switched after a while, then tried some of the other available games before leaving.
After dropping Jesse off, Jane said, “God, I need to find someone else. Jesse’s nice enough, but...”
“He used four words the entire night,” Daria finished. “Hold your horses. Your personal Wesley will show up soon enough.”
Tom walked Daria up to her front door, and they talked for a while before he left.
“So, what do you want to do tomorrow?”
“Not tomorrow. That’s bad movie night. I’m not about to leave Jane out in the cold.”
“Point taken. next Saturday then.”
Daria thought for a minute. “Weird as it may sound coming from the self-appointed goddess of cynicism, I want to see Chicken Run. It sounds like an interesting movie.”
Tom grinned. “As you wish,” he replied. “I’ll look up the times and call you about it, okay?”
Tom gave her a small goodnight kiss and left. Daria watched him go, then rearranged her face so that any family members still up and about would never guess she was melting.
Once she’d changed into her sleepwear, Daria got a bright orange pen, her usual writing pen, and the notebook she smirkingly (because she didn’t laugh enough) called a diary.
She opened to the page in front she’d left blank when she first got it, and used the orange pen to draw a “splatter” shape and color it in. Uder it, she wrote, _Spit Take #2: This is a Diary?_
That deed done, Daria flipped to the first blank page to start the night’s entry.
Of which the first words were: _I think I’m in love._


-There you have it. My first fulfillment of Daria/Tom ‘shipping duties. Give my hand time to recover before expecting more. : )
-The idea for the “spit take art” was partially inspired by Crazy Nutso’s “Welcome Back Daria” (that would be the “spit take” part) and partially from my own twisted mind. Why Surge? Because it’s bright green.
-Quinn’s reaction to Daria getting a date could be expected - it’s what I think the show will use should she ever get one. “'Lungs’ Morgendorffer” is from one of Queen Jossie’s fics - I forget which.
-Yes, those camouflage pants are Quinn’s. Check the paper dolls in _The Daria Diaries._
-Personal Wesleys and “as you wish” are both Princess Bride refs.
-In case you couldn’t tell, the “spit take” Daria drew in her diary was supposed to be orange soda.
-Well, I guess now I have to write a follow-up, seeing as Jane wants a new boyfriend. ::mutters:: The things I get myself into...