Chapter 4: Partner's Compromise
Dorian's first few days back were a stressful nightmare but as the week ended, he seemed to be settling back into a normal routine. His mood was greatly improved over that weekend by his parents and Jane. On Saturday, Jake took him computer and television shopping. This was followed by a bad movie marathon at Jane's house all day Sunday. Even with Helen calling every couple of hours, it was the first time since the change that Dorian felt relaxed. The two exchanged witty banter while watching some of the worst films ever put on video. Trent even joined them for one movie before heading to the basement for practice. Dorian left around ten thirty, shortly after Jane had fallen asleep leaning against him.
When he got home, Dorian quickly got ready for bed. He couldn't fall asleep. He stared at the ceiling, recounting the day's events. A faint smile came across his face when he thought about Jane. I wonder if she is thinking of me right now. Wait.. what am I saying? I know that I told her I would be willing to try to date her, but am I actually starting to have feelings for her? I want her, well both of us, to be happy. We need to talk tomorrow. Dorian tossed and turned the rest of the night.
The next morning, Dorian arrived at Jane's house early bearing the gift of coffee. He knocked a couple of times before Jane groggily answered the door. When she saw him there, she grabbed the cup out of his hand. She invited him in before running upstairs to get ready for school. About fifteen minutes later, she was back downstairs looking far more alert than before. She offered Dorian a Pop Tart but he refused. Then she looked at her clock and then back at him. She did this several times with a confused look on her face.
"You do realize that we don't have to leave for school for another twenty minutes."
"Yeah.. I know. Sorry I woke you up early."
"It's okay. I figure you are just getting your revenge for me falling asleep on you yet again. At least this time you didn't have to carry me to bed." She chuckled.
"I had no clue that my shoulder made such a good pillow. Umm Jane..can I ask you a question?"
"As long as it's not about driving Mystik Spiral anywhere cause the answer to that would be no.. then ask away."
"Are you well.. happy? I mean with the whole me/you trying to date thing?"
Jane sat down next to him and held his hand. She could feel the nervous energy in it. "Yeah.. I am. Sure, we both have some issues to work through but everyone does when they start a relationship. Why.. are you having second thoughts?"
Dorian shook his head. "No."
"Good. Cause I would hate to have to break in a bad movie companion. I just wish --" Jane stopped.
Dorian tilted his head in confusion. "What?"
"I would like to see you acknowledge us as a couple in public. The only time you have put your arm around me outside of our houses was at Pizza King. You don't even hold me hand at school." Jane lowered her head.
"I'm sorry. I'll work on it. You have to remember.. this is my first attempt at a relationship. Just don't expect us to have a major make out session in the hallway at school. I refuse to act like Kevin and Brittany in any way."
Jane laughed. "Agreed."
Dorian and Jane headed to school. Throughout that week, Dorian and Jane started holding hands more and walking closer together. Quinn would walk past them and smirk. She even gave Jane a thumbs up. By Friday, Dorian was feeling more comfortable about the situation. Then came Mrs. Bennett's Economics class. On her board was written the words "Real Life Economics Project."
"Class..this is going to be very exciting. We are going to set aside our books and experience some real life economics - renting an apartment, applying for a credit card,opening a retirement account. Of course I don't expect you to actually rent an apartment or what have you. You'll just go through as much of the process as you can and report back on your experiences. Now.. I want you to go ahead and pick partners then come up and draw which project you will be doing from the bowl on my desk."
Jodie ended up pairing with Brittany. Brittany had gotten in a huge argument with Kevin earlier that day. They drew starting up a small business. Mrs. Bennett wrote down who were paired and their topic. Mack and Kevin were next. They picked purchasing a car. Andrea and Jennifer followed and picked renting an apartment. Dorian and Jane decided to go up next. Dorian sighed as he reached into the bowl. Come on credit card application. He handed the slip of paper to Jane without reading it. She opened it and cringed.
Budgeting A Wedding
"Is that just the wedding or wedding and reception?" Jane asked.
"Just the wedding but if you wanted extra credit, budget for both." Mrs. Bennett replied.
After everyone else had selected their partners and assignments, Mrs. Bennett walked in front of her desk. "Reports and presentations are due not next Monday but the following Monday."
As school ended, Jodie and Mack approached Dorian. Dorian was staring at the tiny slip of paper from Mrs. Bennett's class. Jodie shook her head as she pointed at the Dorian's hand.
"Congratulations on getting the one project that none of us wanted." Jodie smirked.
"Gee thanks. Good luck with your projects. Mack, twenty bucks says Kevin actually ends up buying a car." Dorian replied.
"I would say you're on but we are talking about Kevin." Everyone laughed.
Dorian turned around and saw Jane and Quinn approaching. He waved goodbye to Jodie and Mack. Dorian watched as it appeared that Jane was having an intense discussion with his sister. Quinn looked up at Dorian and giggled. Jane must have told her about the project. Great... why couldn't I have let Jane draw out of that damn bowl.
"So big brother.. when's the big day?"
"A day after I kill you and bury you in that damn bridesmaid dress." Dorian growled.
"Oh come on.. Quinn's offering to help us. I say we take advantage of it."
"What no fashion club meetings this weekend?" Dorian replied in mock shock.
"Sandi is going out of town with her mother. I'm booked solid on Saturday. I wasn't looking forward to my date tonight so I can pencil you two in."
"Well let's work on it at your house. The Spiral's practicing tonight for their gig tomorrow."
They arrived at the Morgendorffer residence and ordered a pizza. Quinn ran upstairs and returned with a myriad of magazines. Dorian went into his room and brought back a couple of packs of note cards and extra pencils. Jane and Quinn were sitting at the kitchen table. Dorian took a couple of cans of soda out of the fridge before joining them. Jane asked him if they could budget both the wedding and reception. Her grade in that class was okay.. but an A on this project would give her a big boost. He agreed. That was all Quinn needed to hear.
"Okay..first thing you need to do is make a list of things you will need for just the wedding. First you need to pick a number of guests. There's the invitations, flowers, bridal gown and tuxedo, and the rings of course. Then you will need to find a place for the ceremony, someone to perform the ceremony, a musician, a photographer and you can't forget the license."
"What if you just wanted to go to the courthouse to get married?" Dorian asked. The question was met with Jane and Quinn rolling eyes. "What.. it is a legitimate option."
"Are you telling me that when you were Daria that was the kind of wedding you wanted?" Jane asked.
"Let's just say that Erin's wedding left a lasting bad impression on me." Dorian sighed. "Are you saying that Jane Lane wants a traditional wedding?"
"I wouldn't go that far but I want some kind of ceremony so that all the single guys out there can mourn the fact that Jane Lane is no longer available."
"Ok.. so we need to add the cost of a psychiatrist."
"To work on your delusions of grandeur issues." Dorian smirked. "I think we need to figure out what kind of ceremony we want before we go pricing anything else. We need to find a way to compromise."
"Well.. the easiest would be your option but I don't see Mrs. Bennett giving us a good grade on that..not to mention no chance at extra credit." Jane put a little emphasis on the last two words.
"Jane has a point Dorian." Quinn said as she pulled the last of the cheese off of her pizza slice.
A few moments later, Helen walked into the kitchen. She sees the three of them with a bunch of magazines opened to wedding gowns. She looks at some of the notes Dorian has made. Her eyes began to narrow.
"Dorian..Jane... why are there wedding magazines everywhere?"
"We have to budget a wedding for our Economics class project." Jane replied.
"I see. You know Dorian.. you could always call Rita. I'm sure she can tell you what mother spent on the wedding down to the penny."
"I will do that as a last resort. Besides, I don't she would give me that information. She'll probably think you put me up to it."
"Good point. Okay.. well I'll let you get back to work." Helen stepped out of the kitchen. She listened to how animated Jane and Quinn were becoming while looking at bridal gowns. I know Dorian and Jane aren't really serious, but this project better not put any ideas in either of their's head.
Dorian and Jane spent most of Saturday online looking up prices for everything from the license fee to reception hall prices. Dorian could feel his head begin to pound. By the end of that afternoon, they were halfway done with the project. Quinn had convinced Jane the night before that the best way to get prices on dresses was to go to a shop. Dorian had protested but lost the argument. So Monday after school, Dorian, Jane and Quinn headed down to Dega Street. They stopped shop that had screwed up the bridesmaid dress he had worn when he was Daria. He waited outside while Jane and Quinn went inside. When they left the building several minutes later, Jane was visibly angry. The associate they were talking to basically ignored Quinn and Jane once she found out that Jane was only in there for the project. They headed a few more blocks down until they spotted a tiny bridal shop with the words GRAND OPENING painted on the window. Quinn looked at some of their displayed dresses and steered Dorian and Jane into the front door. A woman in her late twenties appeared from the back when the door bell chimed.
Once inside, Quinn split from Dorian and Jane and started looking at the dresses. After introductions, Dorian and Jane explained the project. Kristen led Dorian and Jane to a couple of couches that were set up in a corner. The three sat down. Kristen listened as Jane told to her what occurred at the other shop. Kristen shook her head in disgust.
"That happens a lot at older stores. They think their name alone will get them the patrons, regardless of how poorly they may treat their customers. Sadly, sometimes they are right. Noone likes their feelings to be hurt. Planning a wedding is stressful enough, the last thing you need to deal with on top of that is rude salespeople. Trust me, I know." Kristen pointed to the ring on her finger.
"When did you get married?" Jane asked.
"In March." Kristen began to tell Dorian and Jane about her wedding. She and her husband and their families all had different ideas on how the wanted the ceremony to be like. Then, she talked about how she was treated by different caterers and florists and dressmakers. When Jane asked why Kristen didn't make her own dress, her response was simple and truthful. You are your own worst customer. Kristen let out a small laugh.
"We almost decided not to get married at all."
"What made you change your mind?"
"Ben and I finally remembered that this was our wedding. We decided to compromise..forgo all the fuss and have fun instead." Kristen stood up and walked behind the counter.
She returned holding a picture. She handed it to Dorian. He and Jane looked at it and started laughing. It was Kristen and Ben dressed in werewolf costumes having the time of their lives.
"We are both horror movie buffs and had heard about a hotel in Las Vegas that specialized in costume weddings. So we called a our families and a few friends and had the time of our lives. Two weeks after we got home, we threw a big party for everyone who couldn't attend. I took the money we saved from not having a big wedding and used it to put a down payment on this building."
Jane studied the picture. "I could make that into a portrait."
"Really? I have always wanted a painting of it to hang up here at the shop."
"Not a problem. I'll need a couple of days, but can have it up here by the end of the week."
The conversation between the three was broken by Quinn's whistle. Dorian and Jane looked up and saw the off-white bridal gown and smoky light grey tuxedo in Quinn's hands. Jane jumped up and walked around the dress. Quinn stopped her and held the dress up in front of her. The effect on Dorian was instant. She would look beautiful in that dress. I don't believe I just thought that. Yet, I can't take my eyes off of her. Quinn made Dorian stand up and lifted the tux. Kristen nodded.
"You have a great sense of fashion. I created both of those at the same time. There is a tux to match every dress in this shop. How would you like a job?"
Quinn's eyes brightened. "Really? I could only work on the weekends though."
"Come back later on this week and we'll talk. Oh and for your project, the dress is $900 and the tux is $750. However, because it's our grand opening, everything is a third off. So, that would make the dress $600 and the tux $500. Just for the fun of it, would you like to try them on?"
Before Jane could answer, Quinn was rushing her into the dressing room. Kristen pointed to the men's dressing room in the other corner of the store. Dorian reluctantly grabbed the tux. As he was getting dressed, he stared at himself in the mirror. I am soo going to kill Quinn. Several minutes later, he exited the dressing room. The tux was a little loose but it wasn't noticeable. Kristen helped him button the cufflinks and fixed his collar. Dorian heard Quinn clear her throat from behind him. Dorian turned around and saw Jane. He could feel his mouth begin to dry. The dress looked better on her than he could ever imagine. He could feel the blush coming over his face. Jane's face held the biggest smile Dorian had ever seen. He walked over to where Jane was standing.
"You look amazing." Dorian whispered.
"So do you handsome." Jane smirked.
Kristen ran behind the counter and grabbed her camera. She snapped a picture of Dorian and Jane staring into each other's eyes. Both had a slight hint of red on their faces. After a couple of minutes, Dorian and Jane headed back into the dressing rooms. They came back out in their regular attire. Kristen handed Jane the picture she had taken. Jane and Dorian looked at the photograph in awe.
"The picture is yours, but I want a portrait of that to hang on the wall as well. You two are a cute couple."
"Thank you. I'll have the paintings ready for you by the end of the week."
"The thanks is all mine. Let me know how you do with your project."
Dorian, Jane and Quinn waved at Kristen as they left the shop. Dorian and Jane stared at the picture of themselves as they headed home. Quinn watched them and giggled. After they were in their respective houses, neither Dorian nor Jane could focus on their work. That night, both of them stared at their ceilings, and wondered if someday the photo would become a reality.
Dorian and Jane finished gathering their project data on Tuesday. They decided to finish their note cards after enjoying a slice at Pizza King. When they arrived, Jodie was rubbing Mack's back as he buried his face in his hands. Jodie offered Dorian and Jane the other half of their booth. Mack looked up at them.
"I would ask how your project is going but I have a strange feeling I already know the answer." Jane said before taking her first bite.
"Dari.. oops sorry Dorian..remember what we joked about at the end of school on Friday?" Mack asked.
Dorian nodded his head. A few minutes later his eyes enlarged. "Don't tell me he actually tried to buy a car."
"Try nothing... they sold him a car. I attempted to talk him out of it, but he wouldn't listen to me. His parents are at the dealership right now trying to return the car."
"When did this happen?" Jane asked.
"Yesterday. How is your project coming along?"
"We finished getting the last of the prices about an hour ago. Now all we have left is to write everything out on our presentation cards." Dorian replied between bites. "How is yours and Brittany's project coming along Jodie?"
Jodie gave a slight laugh. "Better than Mack's. Although a couple of the loan officers really upset me when all they did was stare at Brittany's chest rather than listen to our proposal. Then the few that paid attention to our proposal only did so after I mentioned who my dad was. Brittany is really trying to help with the project. She's even agreed to ditch the cheerleader uniform for a more business like outfit. She hopes that will help keep the loan officers focused. Also, if we both dress to look a little older.. more professional it might help the situation."
"I hope that approach works for you. We better head out. See you tomorrow." Jane led Dorian out of the booth.
Quinn went Kristen's shop after school. Kristen handed her a bunch of paperwork. Quinn ran out the door smiling. She arrived home right as her mother was pulling into the driveway. Quinn showed Helen the job application and all the forms Kristen had given her. When asked about why Kristen had offered her a job, Quinn relayed the events from the day before. Helen's face tightened when Quinn told her about Dorian and Jane trying on the tux and dress. Quinn tried to reassure Helen that Dorian was very reluctant and that Jane had to pushed into the dressing room. Helen gave a stiffened nod at the statement. When Dorian and Jane walked into the room, they could tell Helen was not happy.
"You tried on a tux and a wedding dress yesterday?" Helen asked in her lawyer voice.
"Yes, the shop that we went to for price quotes let us try them on. We weren't going to but the next thing I know, Quinn is dragging Jane to the dressing room. We were in them for less than ten minutes and no..we didn't put a down payment on them. The only money that will be exchanging hands will be when the shop owner pays Jane for a painting that Jane is doing." Dorian pointed in Jane's direction.
"I see. What kind of painting are you doing for the shop Jane?"
"Kristen wants a portrait done of her wedding photo. I've never painted a werewolf before so it should be fun." Jane smirked.
"Werewolf?" Helen's voice expressed her disbelief.
Dorian and Jane nodded. "Yeah... Kristen had one of those theme weddings in Las Vegas. So she and her husband were wearing werewolf costumes. Now, if this line of questioning is over, Jane and I have a project to finish. All that is left is getting our note cards ready and adding up the totals." Dorian said as he and Jane headed to his room.
"Leave your door open. I'll bring you up some snacks later." Helen called out to them.
About two hours later, Dorian and Jane came downstairs shaking their heads. They turned on "Sick, Sad World". Helen walked up to them.
"I take it you are done with the project."
"Yes and all I can say is that weddings even small ones are expensive." Dorian mumbled.
"How many guests did you budget for?" Helen asked
"Fifty and the totals were still in the several thousands." Jane sighed.
"Six thousand, three hundred dollars to be exact. Heck the dress, tux and reception hall alone were half of that." Dorian replied.
"I think Kristen and Ben had the right idea. I mean we got stressed out and we weren't even planning a real wedding. From what she said, they had a fun and relaxed wedding." Jane turned to Dorian.
"True but she only had a fun wedding after she and her husband almost drove themselves insane planning a regular wedding." Dorian rebuttal.
"You have a point but cost wise it was a good choice." Jane returned the banter.
Helen raised one of her eyebrows. "You found this out how?"
"We asked her where she had her wedding at and looked up the price online. For the ceremony and a three night stay in the honeymoon suite it was seventeen hundred. If you add in the flight cost and what they spent on the party a couple of weeks later, the whole thing comes out to around three thousand and a courthouse wedding with a party afterwards came out to a little over seven hundred dollars."
"Looks like you two did a lot of research for just a project." Helen glared at the two of them.
"This project is worth a third of our grade for the quarter. Dorian might not need a good grade on this, but I do Mrs. M. I would like to see something other than a C on my report card for any class other than art." Jane's head lowered slightly.
"Let me guess... you already have an A in that class." Helen let a slight smile come over her face. "I think your teacher will appreciate the hard work you put into it." Helen left the room.
After watching television for an hour, Jane went home. Jake was downstairs watching a basketball game. Helen was in bed reading a brief when she heard a knock on her door. Dorian slowly walked in the room.
"Mom, I know this whole wedding project thing weirded you out. If it's any consolation, it did the same to me."
"Dar...Dorian.. how do you feel about Jane?"
"I like her. I have always liked her. I'm still trying to handle the fact that I see her as more than a best friend now. Having said that though, we have decided to really take our time with this whole dating thing. I mean the most we have done is hold hands and occasionally I will put my arm around her."
"Has she pushed for anything more?" Helen looked Dorian straight in the eye.
"No." Dorian answered in a strong tone that told Helen he was telling the truth.
Dorian watched Jane as she recreated the 8x10 photo in front of her onto the canvas. A couple of hours later, Jane stepped back. Dorian stood up and looked at the painting. She had made great improvements to the background of the wedding picture. A huge smile came over his face. She set it down to let the paint dry. She would work on the second one on Thursday and drop both off at Kristen's shop on Friday. Dorian looked at the clock and sighed. He gave her a quick hug before heading home.
On Friday, Dorian arrived at Jane's to help her deliver the paintings. He had yet to see the second portrait. When he did, he couldn't take his eyes off of it. Jane had taken the photo of the two of them in the tux and gown and aged them by about five years. He gently ran his fingers across the work of art. She came up beside him. He put his arm around her.
"Do you like it?" She whispered.
"It's beautiful Jane. I think Kristen is going to love both of them." He gave her a gentle squeeze before breaking the embrace to pick up the paintings.
They made it to the shop an hour before closing. Quinn saw them walking up the sidewalk. She had started working there that afternoon. Kristen was with a customer when she watched Quinn head to the door. Quinn held the door while Dorian carried the two canvases inside. When Quinn saw the paintings, she gasped in amazement. Jane and Dorian waited patiently while Kristen finished getting the measurements of the woman she was working with. As the customer left, she looked at the two paintings. When she asked Dorian who painted the portraits, he smiled and pointed to Jane. The customer asked Jane for her phone number. Jane wrote it down on a piece of paper as she grinned.
After the customer left, Kristen came over and looked at the paintings. She was extremely pleased at how well a job Jane had done. Kristen was very impressed at the changes Jane had made to her wedding photo. Kristen studied the portrait of Jane and Dorian carefully. Jane explained the age increase. Kristen agreed that it would not be appropriate to have a picture of two teenagers dressed for a wedding. Dorian gave Kristen a hand hanging up the two art works. Kristen went over to her register and pulled out two hundred dollars and handed them Jane. Jane at first refused, then settled on one hundred dollars. Kristen asked if she could have Jane's phone number in case some of her other clients wanted it. Jane jotted it down. Kristen took it and put it under her register. Kristen thanked Jane again. Before Jane left, Kristen asked her to come by in a couple of weeks to help her make a window display. Jane agreed as she and Dorian left to celebrate. Quinn and Kristen waved Dorian and Jane goodbye.
Dorian and Jane walked over to Pizza King. A much calmer Mack and Jodie showed up moments after they did. They decided to sit together. Dorian went to pay but Jane smacked his hand. This caused Mack and Jodie to give a slight laugh. Jane explained to them about the work she had done. Jodie asked where the shop was so that she could go see the paintings. After grabbing their drinks, they sat down and waited for their orders.
Jane asked, "So, Mack.. was Kevin able to return the car?"
"Yeah..his parents almost got arrested at the lot but they finally got the dealership to agree to take it back."
"That's good," Jane turned to Jodie. "How did your last round of loan meetings go?"
"Much better then the first. Brittany and I wore business suits and changed our hairstyles. The loan officers treated us much differently because we looked like we were in our mid-twenties. I didn't even have to mention my dad's name to the last two."
"Job well done," Dorian added as the pizzas were being sat down on the table.
Monday came and Dorian and Jane listened to Jodie and Brittany's presentation. They had done a great job at describing all of the problems they had encountered. Mrs. Bennett listened with interest.
"Before visiting banks to apply for a loan, we realized that we would have to have all our numbers in order. We also tried to anticipate the banker's questions and be ready with detailed answers." Jodie turned to Brittany.
Brittany looked down at the carefully worded note card. "Although what actually got us the loan had some to do with all that preparation, it was being flexible enough to tailor our approach to what would make the bank officers comfortable about lending us money."
After the presentation, Dorian gave Jodie a thumbs up as she took her seat in front of Jane. Then Kevin and Mack stood up. Kevin looked very distraught. This ought to be good. As Mack talked, Kevin got more and more upset.
"..and in conclusion, this project taught us many valuable lessons about financial transactions in the real world," Mack looked around the room.
"Yeah.. like never leave a cash down payment," Kevin said as he burst into tears. "Oh Gosh.. don't let them see me like this. The next thing anyone knew, Kevin was running out of the room.
Mack watched in confusion as Kevin left the classroom. "Umm.. thank you very much."
Mrs. Bennett took a quick glance at her door before allowing Mack to sit down. Jodie gave him a sympathetic pat on the back. He just sat and shook his head.
"Now Dorian and Jane will talk about budgeting a wedding."
Dorian and Jane stood up and headed to the front of the class.
"When we first started to work on this project, Jane and I had different views on what kind of wedding to budget. She wanted to budget a traditional wedding while I wanted to budget a courthouse wedding."
"After a brief argument, we met in the middle and budgeted a simple wedding with fifty guests. Dorian and I then started getting prices for everything from flowers to reception menu. Even though the we weren't planning a real wedding, the whole experience proved to be a very stressful experience." Jane went on to describe the incident at the first bridal shop.
A couple of minutes later, Dorian closed the presentation. "I think the one thing we will take with us from this project is that when planning a wedding you have to be willing to compromise. It's not just her day or his day.. it's your day together. So plan something you will both enjoy."
Dorian and Jane sat down. Jodie and Mack turned around and gave them slight grins. After school, Dorian went home and changed to go for a jog. He stopped by Jane's to see if she wanted to join him. Trent informed him that Jane was not home. He shrugged and headed off. He took his usual route. When he turned down Dega Street, he remembered that Kristen had wanted to know how the project went. He started to jog in the direction of her shop. As he was about to go in but stopped when he saw Jane talking to Kristen and Jodie. They were staring at the picture of Jane and himself. He could have sworn he saw Kristen mouth the words I hope someday you two make it happen