Failure Is A Good Thing (Part 1)
School was closed for two days due to a teacher's conference. Usually all of the students of Lawndale High look forward to any time out of school they can get. This time there was one exception. Jane paced around her bedroom. A month earlier, she and Dorian had done the deed and now she was almost two weeks late. We used protection and I'm on the pill, this can't be happening. I need to tell him ... oh **** ... I wonder how is the Daria side of him going to react. She'll probably try to get him to have a sex change. Damnit this is soo effed up. She looked down at her phone and dialed the number with shaky hands. Much to her surprise, Amy answered the phone.
"Hi Amy, did I dial the wrong number?" Jane asked.
Amy could tell that something was troubling Jane. "No Jane ... I just got back home and am waiting for my nephew to come home from his jog. Is everything okay? Do you want me to have him call you when he gets back?"
"Yes, please have him call me."
"Is something wrong?" Amy pushed.
Jane hesitated before answering. She needed someone to talk to, Amy was one of the few adults she felt comfortable being around. "Is there any one else home?"
"Quinn's upstairs but other than that I'm it. I have an idea, why don't I go over to your house and I'll leave a note for Dorian to head here when he gets home okay?" Amy already suspected what was going on, and wanted Jane to feel safe talking to her.
"I would appreciate that. Thanks Amy." Jane hung up.
Amy wrote a quick note and taped it to the front door. She drove over to Casa Lane to find a very nervous Jane waiting in the driveway. Amy followed Jane up to her room and looked around at Jane's art to give the younger woman a moment. Amy turned to face Jane, who was curled up with her arms wrapped around her knees. Sitting down next to her nephew's girlfriend, Amy placed her hands gently on Jane's shoulder. Jane leaned against Amy and began to calm down. Amy decided to break the silence.
"Okay ... I'm pretty sure I know what's wrong. You and Dorian took advantage of your weekend alone."
Jane nodded. Amy decided to continue. "Have you two done it since ...?"
"Twice. We've used protection every time and I'm on the pill."
"How late are you Jane?"
"Almost two weeks." Jane whispered.
"Have you told Dorian?"
Jane shook her head. "That's why I wanted to talk to him."
Amy nodded. "Okay, we need to get you a pregnancy test. The sooner you know, the better. Do you want me to wait until Dorian gets here to buy it?"
"No- but I don't want to take it until Dorian comes over. If you could stay here until we know either way, I would appreciate it."
"Will do. I'll be right back."
"Okay. Oh, Amy ..." Jane waited until the older woman turned around. "Thank you."
"No thanks needed. Just know that regardless of how this turns out, it's going to be alright and I'm here for the two of you." Amy walked out of Jane's room.
Dorian returned home from his run about thirty minutes later to see the note on his door. Why is Amy going to Jane's? I better head over there first. Dorian took the piece of paper and placed it in his pocket. Rounding the corner to turn onto Howard Drive, he saw Amy's car pulling into Jane's driveway. Dorian saw the door open and Amy walk in. Dorian picked up his pace and arrived at Jane's house less than two minutes later. A sense of dread came over him as his aunt answered the front door.
"Is something wrong with Jane?" Dorian asked beginning to panic.
"She's up in her room Dorian." Before Amy could finish, Dorian was running up the stairs.
He knocked lightly on her door. With his aunt standing beside him, Dorian rapped on the door a little harder. He barely heard the "Come in Dorian."
He slowly turned the knob to his girlfriend's bedroom. He looked into the room and saw Jane sitting on the bed with a box in her hand. Realizing what she was holding, all the color drained from Dorian's face.
Sitting in the main lecture hall, Mr. O'Neill was absorbing everything that Prof. Travis Bentley was saying about how educators should be teaching their students that failure is not the end of the world, but in fact it's often a stepping stone to success. As the speech continued, the other teachers from Lawndale High were going through different stages of annoyance while Mr. O'Neill's face showed excitement. He walked out of the seminar feeling recharged and motivated. He had signed up for two more seminars that day. One on redefining literature and the other on how to deal with a student who was potentially smarter than yourself.
The rest of the Lawndale High teachers did not seem to get as much out of the first day of the convention as Mr. O'Neill. Ms. Li spent most of her time looking at her watch in frustration. Mr. DeMartino and Ms. Bennett struggled to stay awake, Ms. Barch just gave up and fell asleep. Ms. Defoe paid some attention, but spent most of her time doing needlework. Mr. O'Neill was a little upset that his fellow educators weren't as enthusiastic about the convention as he was. He decided not to get upset about it though, he was enjoying it and soaking in all the information he could.
As the last seminar ended, Mr. O'Neill almost leapt out of his chair. He felt as though his role as an educator had been given new meaning. He rejoined the others in the main hall of the convention center. He couldn't wait to get back to school. He had an idea of what he wanted his next class project to be. With Professor Bentley words echoing in his ears, Mr. O'Neill decided that he would have every student in his class pick something to fail at. As he was about to tell the other teachers about his idea, an argument broke out over where they were going to eat. He decided to wait until Monday to reveal his big idea.
During dinner at the Sea N' Beef, he was still singing the praises of Prof. Bentley's speech. The other teachers from Lawndale High looked at him as though he was insane. That night, Mr. O'Neill laid down and began to wonder if he had the next Thomas Edison in his class. Making the mistake of speaking his thoughts out loud, Mr. O'Neill turned to see an angry looking Mr. DeMartino glaring at him. With the lights off, he returned to his musings. His thoughts were broken by Ms. Barch knocking on the door and whisking him away to the housekeeping closet for a little late night romance. Little did Mr. O'Neill know that a hundred miles away, two of his students were about to put his project to the test.
Dorian could see the fear etched in the pair of azure eyes that were staring at him. Amy watched as Dorian made his way over to Jane and wrapped his arms around her. Dorian closed his eyes as Daria's voice filled his head. I told you this could happen. Shut up Daria - The last thing we need is an argument between us. Jane needs both of us right now. Fine ... but we will continue this later regardless of the outcome. Dorian's opened his eyes when Amy's voice broke the silence in the room.
"Sitting here isn't going to tell you what you need to know." Amy turned to the bedroom door.
Dorian gave Jane a gentle squeeze before breaking the embrace. Standing up on shaky legs, she walked out the door with Dorian a few steps behind. As he waited outside of the bathroom, he could feel Daria trying to chime back in but refused to listen. Jane opened the door a few moments later and pulled him in. Dorian set the alarm on his watch and the wait began. Dorian and Jane sat down with their backs against the door. The silence in the room was thick and heavy. Jane placed her head on Dorian's shoulder.
"What will we do if it's positive?" Jane whispered.
"Well, we'll have to tell my parents and Trent. Then we need to have a doctor confirm it. We'll get through this together."
"I love you." Jane's voice broke.
"I love you too." Dorian replied before kissing her cheek.
The alarm on his watch began to beep. As they stood up, Dorian wrapped his arm around Jane's waist as they moved toward the counter. Their entire future rested just inches away. They looked at each other nervously for a moment then gazed down. Only one line showed on the result meter, a negative sign.
A wave of emotions crashed against Jane all at once as she collapsed into Dorian as tears of relief flowed from her eyes. Dorian held her looking up at the ceiling thanking every higher power he could think of. After several minutes, they walked back into Jane's bedroom where Amy was anxiously waiting. Jane looked over at the older woman who had in the course of that evening became a mother figure and shook her head. Amy's body reacted as though a weight had been lifted off her own shoulders. She sat down on the bed next to the two teenagers. Amy tried to lighten the mood.
"Okay ... I've always wanted to know what a coronary felt like. I was soo not looking forward to bringing you two to have a talk with Helen. Seriously though, I think you to need to lay off the after school activities for a while."
Both teenagers nodded. "Jane ... is Trent going to be home tonight?" Amy asked.
"No - he's performing in Fremont tonight."
"I don't want you here alone. Dorian, we'll swing by your house let you shower and change. Both of you can stay at my place tonight so that you can talk." Amy placed a hand on both of their shoulders. "C'mon ... let's go."
Jane packed an overnight bag while Dorian and Amy waited in the kitchen. The color had finally began to return to Dorian's face. Amy grabbed her nephew's hand and held it for a moment. She could see the pain in his eyes.
"I should have listened to Daria. She tried to stop us, stop me ... but no I let my damn hormones take over." His other hand pounded the table.
"Dorian ... I'm just as much to blame as you are. I could have said no and left that weekend." Jane's voice came from behind him.
Amy, Dorian, and Jane left Casa Lane and drove to Dorian's. Amy let Jake know that Dorian was going to be at her house that night. Once they arrived at Amy's, she and Lillian talked went upstairs to allow Dorian and Jane some privacy. Jane stretched her legs out on the couch while her back was leaning against Dorian. She lifted her head and could see the battle that was about to brew in his mind.
"I take it that Daria's not happy about what happened today." Jane said.
"Not happy doesn't begin to describe it." Dorian sighed.
Monday morning, Dorian arrived at Jane's to walk to school. Jane had spent the weekend over with Amy and Lillian. Jane worried about how quiet Dorian was as they left her house. About halfway to school, Jane decided to ask him about his mood. At first, Dorian remained silent until Jane quit walking. Turning back to her, Dorian lifted his glasses and rubbed his temples.
"I met Daria."
Jane's mouth dropped open. "What do you mean you met Daria? You actually got to see her ... but how?"
"Last night, I dreamt that I was sitting in a classroom alone. Then I heard the door open and Daria walked up and stood in front of the teacher's desk. She then proceeded to chew me out about everything from what happened between us to the fact that I'm on the football team."
"Does she want us to break up?" Jane asked nervously.
"That was the strange thing ... I asked her that exact question, but she didn't have an answer." He sighed.
Jane walked over to him and hugged him. She whispered into his ear. "Daria, I know you can hear me in there ... this was just as much my fault as his. Cut him some slack okay."
They continued on their way to school. All of the teachers seemed a little sluggish except for Mr. O'Neill. As he stood in front of his students, a sense of pending doom came over the class. They knew that the only time he was this excited during class is when he is about to assign some crazy project. As it neared the end of class, their fear was realized.
"So class, your assignment is to pick something you know you'll fail at. To prove that failing isn't the end of the world."
Dorian and Jane looked over at each other in awkward silence. They listened as Mr. O'Neill pointed to some of the students and asked what they were going to do their project about. He gave a deadline of the following Monday to pick their opportunity to fail then try to achieve it. The bell rang moments later. Dorian could hear some of the other students mumble about the project.
"So, what do you plan on failing at?" Jane asked as they walked out of the door.
"Well, I could fail to see the merit of this assignment."
"Or succeed in finding it a waste of time." Jane smirked.
As they headed to their lockers, Ms. Barch walked by. She was griping under her breath about how men are the bane of the universe. As the science teacher rounded the corner, Dorian looked over to Jane.
"I just picked what I'm going to fail at. Trying to get Ms. Barch to quit male-bashing."
"Excellent. It should take you less than five minutes to fail that one. As a matter of fact, your first chance at failing at it can be in just a matter of moments." Jane replied.
"Thanks for that vote of confidence. What about you ... any idea on what you want to fail at?" Dorian asked.
"I have an idea, but you like everyone else will have to wait until next Monday to find out what it was and the end result." Jane closed her locker and she and Dorian made their way to science class.
As Dorian and Jane entered Ms. Barch's class, he watched the teacher glare at him from her desk. As he sat down next to Mack, he drew a long breath and sighed. Might as well get that failure project out of the way today. I wonder how many sentences I will have to write on the blackboard. Jane wrote down something on a piece of paper and nudged Jodie. A collective smirk came over their faces. The bell rang and Ms. Barch moved over to her chalkboard.
"Now class, we're going to talk about the Periodic Table of Elements. Now as some of you may know, the table was written by a man so ..."
It's now or never. "Ms. Barch ... the fact that the periodic table was developed by a man means nothing," Dorian said as he braced himself for the onslaught.
Ms. Barch turned to him with flames in her eyes. "What did you just say Mr. Morgendorffer." Her voice hissed as she said the last two words.
"I said it's not Mendeleev's fault that he was born a male and was credited for creating the table. He created it to help make science easier for future generations of not only male but female scientists. Contrary to popular belief, not every male was put on this planet to destroy it."
"Perhaps you'd like to discuss that theory with Ms. Li," the science teacher growled and pointed to the door.
Dorian gathered his books and walked out the door. Upon arriving at Ms. Li's office, Dorian sat down and leaned his head against the wall. Ms. Li signaled him to enter a few minutes later. After explaining the English project and the actual conversation he had with Ms. Barch, Dorian awaited Ms. Li's reaction. She began rubbing her temples and shaking her head.
"I knew I shouldn't have signed us up for that damn seminar. Dorian ... you could have picked something else to do your project on. However, I will ask a couple of the other students who were in the room about what happened. If that was all that was said, there will be no additional punishment."
When the last bell rang, Ms. Li brought Jodie, Upchuck, and Brittany into her office. After a brief conversation, the students left. As Dorian and Jane were walking out of the school, Ms. Li approached them. The other students backed Dorian's side of the incident so he would not get detention. Ms. Li left him with a warning not to try that stunt again with Ms. Barch. Dorian nodded and then headed out of the building. On the walk to Casa Lane, Jane told Dorian about how the rest of class went. Once inside the pale yellow house, Jane pulled out a stack of papers and handed them to Dorian.
"Jodie and I wrote down every word Ms. Barch said during her lesson in case she wants to use any of it on a test to try to mess up your grade. You realize that you're in for a long rest of the year in that class right?"
"Jane ... I'm in for a long rest of my high school life in that class. So are you going to tell me what you're doing for Mr. O'Neill's project?" Dorian thought about what Jane had said earlier in the day. "You're not going to ..."
Jane shook her head violently. "Oh no ... Even I'm not that insane. Like I said, you will find out soon enough."
"If your project is to fail at not driving me crazy ... you're succeeding. You know you could put me out of my misery and try something else like being conventional."
"Right ... could you just see me now in a mid-riff and carrying a teddy bear back pack?" Jane broke into laughter.
Throughout the rest of that week, the other students in Mr. O'Neill's class attempted their own failures with some disastrous results. Brittany got kicked off the cheerleading squad until Jodie explained to others about the project. Mack had to do the same with the football team for Kevin. Dorian had spent the entire week trying to figure out what Jane's project was going to be on. It drove him crazier when she refused to see him for the entire weekend. The following Monday morning when the projects were due, Jodie walked into the school looking utterly defeated. She had failed at getting the summer off. Mack's face resembled one of a zombie with a hangover. He had spent all day Sunday trying to teach Kevin the three branches of government. Upchuck spent the day mumbling to himself.
As the students entered Mr. O'Neill's classroom, he could tell that things were not good. As the students explained what they did their projects on and their ramifications, Mr. O'Neill became more and more depressed. He winced when he heard that Ms. Barch had sent Dorian to Ms. Li's office. By the time the final two students were ready to talk about their projects, the wimpy English teacher was to the point of tears. Then, the final student made her way to the front of the class. Her blue eyes stared at the dead center of the room.
"I chose to fail at getting my whole family together and you know something ... I'm glad I failed because I remembered what happened the last time we were all in the same house. Trent and I ended living with Daria and Quinn for a few days. This project didn't teach me that failure was okay ... I already knew that for one simple reason, my brother Trent. See - Trent failed at being a wandering Lane. Where my parents failed at being good parents, Trent learned from their mistakes and helped me become the person that I am today. Think about all the times when you were little and you tried to do something you weren't supposed to and failed at it. Just think of what would have occurred if you had succeeded in sticking that penny in the wall outlet? We all have to fail in order to succeed at being well, human." While walking back to her seat, Dorian gave her a half-smile.
The bell rang a few moments later and the students began to leave the classroom. As Dorian and Jane loaded up their books, they could see that Mr. O'Neill was still very upset. They looked at each other then began to walk over to then teacher's desk. When Mr. O'Neill stared up at them, Dorian could see tears in his eyes.
"Are you okay Mr. O'Neill?" Dorian asked.
A few seconds later, Mr. O'Neill burst into tears. "I'm a failure as a teacher, as a mentor ... nay as a human being."
"Your intentions were good, and no one got hurt." Dorian said.
"You shouldn't be so hard on yourself. That's what Ms. Li's for." Jane followed.
"Look, you set yourself a task and you failed at it. That's what you asked us to do remember? Now finish the assignment ... accept that failing is okay."
Jane nodded. "See ... by failing you succeeded."
"What kind of psycho-babbly mumbo jumbo is that?" Mr. O'Neill put his hand over his mouth after the words came out. "Jane ... I'm soo sorry."
"You mean this assignment didn't damage your self esteems?"
Mr. O'Neill smiled. "Dorian ... Jane - thank you. Jane that was a great speech you made about your project. Have you ever thought about becoming a motivational speaker?"
"I don't know. Wouldn't that mean I would have to do something?" Jane smirked then looked up at the clock then at Dorian. "Ms. Barch is going to kill us well kill you if we're late."
Mr. O'Neill pulled a pad and pen from his desk and began scribbling out a note. He handed it Dorian along with two hall passes. They waved at him as they left the room and headed to the class of the bane of Dorian's existence. Seeing the flames in the science teacher's eyes, Dorian handed her the passes and the note. Her demeanor quickly changed as she read down the page.
"I will talk to Skinny - I mean Mr. O'Neill to confirm that this note is real." Ms. Barch said as she pointed to their lab tables.
When the class ended, Dorian and Jane went to their lockers. As they were walking by Mr. O'Neill's room, they could see Ms. Barch "talking" about the tardy note. Jane turned to Dorian as they both shuddered. On their walk home from school, Dorian stared at Jane. "Why didn't you want to tell me that you were trying to get your family together?"
Jane shrugged. "I just wanted to drive you a little crazy. Besides, it wasn't a wasted weekend. Trent and I hung out together and had a good time. I was right in class. He really has helped me be who I am." A smile came over Jane's face.
"Remind me to thank him for that the next time I see him." Dorian said as they approached Casa Lane.