Spoilers: Season Finale
Content: Swear Words Ahead
Disclaimer: Gilmore Girls and its characters belong to Dorothy Parker Drank Here Productions and Hofflund/Polone in association with Warner Bros. Television.
AUTHORS NOTE: I apparently cant write a short story for the life of me. Im just so verbose. Anyhow, this story is for all those people who gave me feedback (particularly the Trifectaly). I appreciate all of you. You are the reason I wrote this story. I decided to do this because like others I was upset about the finale, so Im picking up where it left off. So, now that this is my second story, dont let the feedback trail end here! Feedback is still greatly appreciated, and gives me ideas for future stories. Hows that for bait, huh? Enjoy folks!
Rory perused the newspaper, reading about the worlds latest crises and dramas. A story on page 13 made her pause.
"Crisis in Columbia again. Be prepared for a coffee price increase."
"What?! At this rate Luke will be able to afford a mansion by the time this latest economic crisis is over."
"That assumes he would buy a mansion."
"You have a point. Maybe hell just buy more expensive flannel."
"Mom." Rory threw a chiding look in her mothers direction.
"What?" Lorelai looked innocently at her daughter. "I wasnt properly thanked for my shopping spree you know. It was like I bought him a powder blue suit from the 70s as opposed to that beautiful suit that was 175% off."
"Im sure he appreciated it." Rory continued to flip through pages, turning them quietly in the morning sunlit room.
"Yeah well, a little thanks wouldnt have killed him." Lorelai pouted and played with her coffee cup.
After a small pause, Rory said "Mom, do you think I should get a job for the summer?" Rory pursed her lips as she looked at the employment section. She turned to look at her mom over the breakfast table and discovered that her mothers face had a disbelieving expression on it.
"What?" Rory asked.
"You are the only child I know who seriously considers getting a job for the summer for the reason Im sure youre thinking about. I mean, you dont need extra spending money for clothes, right?"
"And you dont have a crush on your co-worker who works at the Ice Cream Depot, right?"
Rory smiled. "You know Mom, I have this boyfriend named Dean "
Lorelai continued to stare at her daughter like shed grown three heads. Then she sighed. "So, why are you doing it?"
"Im bored." Rory shrugged as she refolded the newspaper. "Summers fun, but Lane is busy doing the stuff her mother has assigned her, and Dean has his job at Dooses, so I want to entertain myself during the day."
"Has Mrs. Kim once again signed up Lane for The Interpretive Bible?"
"Yup, six years running."
"Ugh." Lorelai shuddered. Then she tilted her head and smiled at Rory. "You know, I should still call Nurse Martin to see if she can go back and check your records. I swear that there had to be some sort of switcheroo at birth. What if youre really the daughter of a CEO somewhere? Ooo, or maybe some long lost princess who should be immersed in learning and academia. Ooo, or maybe youre an alien baby!"
"But you love me anyway." Lorelai looked triumphantly at her daughter.
"Im perverse that way." Rory leaned back in her chair. "But really, before I left school there was an add in the Chilton paper that a law office in Chilton was looking for a student to help them file and do some administrative stuff. They pay more than minimum wage, and it may be an opportunity to see what Law is really like. I would only have to go in 3 days a week."
"Sounds like a dream job." Lorelai suddenly looked sharply at Rory. "Does this mean you wont work at the Inn anymore?"
"No, not at all. Ill just juggle my schedule around a bit now. The stuff you need me for are the big events that are easy to plan around anyway." Rory crossed her arms and looked thoughtfully outside as she ran the idea around in her mind. "I think I want to try this. I could catch the bus, just like for school, and Ill be back home before dark. I really think this could work."
Lorelai looked proudly at her daughter; Rory was obviously trying to plan her future clearly and thoughtfully. "Honey, that sounds like a good idea. And if it doesnt work out, remember they dont have you chained to your desk, although I have heard kinky things about those lawyery types. Sookie told me that she once met one that she swore was doing ritualistic killings in his office. So if you see anything that looks like ceremonial daggers, flee! Flee and return home young duckling!" Lorelai raised her cup in emphasis.
"You already said that."
"I know. Im just hoping repeating it will get it across." Rory smiled lovingly at her mom. "Thanks for the words of confidence though. I wrote the phone number down in my notebook, Im going to give them a call."
Two weeks later Rory started her employment at Chilton Law Offices. On her very first day she took care with her appearance, making sure to wear something that was professional, yet not oppressive. She wore a black skirt, and burgundy blouse with her Mary Jane heels that she had worn at her birthday party. She put her hair back in her clips, and put a slight bit of lipgloss on. As she looked in the mirror, she thought she passed.
She didnt need a jacket due to the heat, so she just grabbed her bag as she stepped out of her room. She took a step into the hallway and was promptly blinded by a flash.
"Argh!" Rory flung her hands up in front of her face and hit herself in the head with her bag.
"Sorry sweetie! I wanted to catch a candid photo of you going off on your first day of work." Lorelai dangled the camera from her fingers, and walked over, smoothing down Rorys hair.
"Well, now that Im blind in both eyes, the attorneys will be glad to have me do nothing but stand around all day!" Rory rubbed her face, trying to get her eyesight to return.
"Sorry." Lorelai winced. "Come on, Ill lead you to the bus stop. Here, this is for you." Lorelai handed Rory a gaily wrapped package.
Rory looked at it suspiciously as she took it into her hands. "What is it?"
"Well, smart woman, you wont find out until you open it."
Rory slowly unwrapped the package on the way to the front door. Inside the box was a lovely simple black leather dayplanner, with a shiny new pen. "Mom, its beautiful, thank you!"
Lorelai smiled. "Youre welcome. I figured now that youre a busy working-woman youre going to need to keep track of these things. I was going to get you the one with the Powder Puff girls on the cover, but I thought nah, that may be a little too festive for Chilton Law."
Rorys first day was actually very interesting, as she roamed around the office, getting used to the setup and systems of the office. The office was relatively small, only about 15 attorneys, and several paralegals and administrative assistants. She liked it that way, because it ensured that she could get a grounds eye view of what the attorneys were doing, and could ask them about their jobs and cases easily.
The first two weeks flew by in a whirlwind as she worked, went out with Dean and Lane, and essentially enjoyed life.
It was in her third week of work, 1 month into her summer vacation, that she met a very entertaining character.
Rory was sitting cross-legged in front of the filing bookshelves reading through a civil lawsuit case. She was immersed in the vocabulary, but couldnt quite make her way through the legal jargon. She was trying to figure out exactly what all the grievances were when a shadow fell across the papers she held in her hand. She looked up to see an elderly gentleman in a very dapper designer suit looking shrewdly down at her. He still had a good head of white hair, and looked pretty good for his age, which she placed to be above 70. He leaned slightly forward on an elegant black cane, but he didnt look too stooped over, or anywhere near senile.
"Sir, can I help you?" She said from the floor. "Am I blocking any files?"
An awkward pause fell after her statement as the gentleman continued to look at her with narrowed eyes. Rory decided to repeat her question, thinking that he possibly had a hearing problem.
"Sir, can I help you?"
The man tapped his cane on the floor lightly. "I heard you the first time. Youre Rory Gilmore, arent you?"
"Yes sir, I just started three weeks ago as a file clerk. Would you like anything from here, or anything typed? Some research maybe?" Rory tried not to look hopeful as she closed the file she had been reading, and stood up, smoothing down the front of her slacks in the process.
"No, Im fine." He continued to stare at Rory as the seconds ticked by.
Rory fidgeted as she tried to place why this man was staring at her. Was she not dressed appropriately? She surreptitiously snuck a glance at her outfit, but nothing seemed out of place. Black slacks plus a nice shirt and belt, not exactly scandalous attire. Was there something wrong with her hair, nose, mouth???? She resisted the need to run for the mirror in her bag to check.
"Im sorry sir, but is there something wrong?" Rory tried asking the obvious question.
"No, nothings wrong." The man continued to lean on his cane and stare.
"Then, why exactly are you staring at me?" Rory winced and wished she could take back the impulsive words right after she said them. "Not that thats a bad thing. Staring I mean. Cats do it all the time. And, I once read this book about a man who uh stared. A lot. And he uh managed to get into a staring contest, and uh " She sighed. "You could save me here. Anytime now." She smiled. So much for remaining professional. Although, somehow she didnt think this man minded. He had a somewhat playful look about him.
The man finally smiled widely, then nodded quickly. "Hmmph. Now I see it. And I approve."
He then proceeded to walk away. Rory stared after him perplexed. What had just happened?
"I met a strange man today." Rory placed a plate on the dining room table in preparation for dinner.
"Uh-oh, thats never a great way to start off a conversation." Lorelai handed Rory some cups, but paused after handing them over. "Do you think the McDonalds cups would give Grandma a heart attack if I used them?"
"You mean the Tickle Me Elmo ones?"
"Maybe a minor stroke. I dont think tonight would be the time." Rory put classic wineglasses on the table instead. "So, about this guy."
"Does he have blue hair and 2 nose rings?"
Rory stopped midway in putting a salad bowl on the table. "What?"
"Does he have blue hair and 2 nose rings?" Lorelai repeated.
"Nooooooo. Why would he?"
Lorelai suddenly buried her face into the refrigerator and busied herself taking out the veggies for the salad. "Oh, no reason." Her muffled reply was almost lost in the bowels of the fridge.
"Im not even going to go there Mom." Rory leaned against the table. "So, back to my story. There was this really dapper man that I spoke to today at the firm."
"I love that." Lorelai interrupted Rory. "I love the way you say at the firm". Lorelai adopted a fake British accent and a lofty posture.
"Well, thats what it is And he acted like he knew me somehow, but he never said his name, he just stared. He wasnt creepy or anything, he was around 70, and dressed very nicely. My guess was that he wasnt a client because he wouldnt have been back in the files area, but he wouldnt be a practicing attorney either Ive met all of them." Rory finished setting the table and pulled out a chair to sit in.
"Hmm thats odd. Did you just try asking him what he was doing there?"
"Yeah, but he never replied, he just left." Rory shrugged. "Oh well, lets see if I see him again."
Lorelai pulled the steaming lasagna out of the oven and set it on the stovetop. "I think thats a good plan. Now, come over here and help me grate carrots for the salad. They need to be punished."
Two days later Rory ran into the gentleman again. This time she was actually filing files in the back room opposed to just reading. She slipped a file into the cabinet, and then practically jumped out of her skin when she turned around and spotted the gentleman standing a little off to her right.
"Oh! You scared me. Im sorry." Rory clutched a green folder to her side in surprise. She counted herself lucky that she hadnt dropped the paperwork all over the floor.
"Did I now? Hmmph." The gentleman sniffed almost as if filing something away in his memory somewhere.
Rory blinked perplexedly. "Sir, I dont mean to be impertinent, but do you need something from me?" She decided to get straight to the point.
He reached into the pocket of his blazer and lifted something out of it, cradling it in his hand. "In fact, young lady I do. I have a proposition for you."
Rory waited patiently for him to go on.
"I can see that you are a hard worker, and youre not a normal teenager who indulges in raucous hair and clothing, and hopefully you dont listen to that hideous sound they call music nowadays. Now, I could be wrong, you could be hiding a rebellious nature under there, but I dont think so." The gentleman lifted his black cane and probed at Rorys leg.
Rory looked incredulously at her leg and the cane tapping it. This man was definitely unique.
"So, Id like to make you an offer. From speaking to the office manager, it seems that you are only here three days out of the week. So, I would like you to help me the other two days of the week."
Rory felt her jaw drop. Lately it seemed like people were surprising her left and right. First Dean taking her back, then her grandmother agreeing to have dinner at their place, and finally this interesting proposal.
The man continued, "I do some pro bono work for non-profit organizations, and need a file clerk to help me catalog and do a minimal amount of research. Youre thinking, why a high school student? Well, you will work for an inexpensive rate, itll be a good experience for you, and I cant employ anyone else during the week during the summer. Furthermore, all the nearby college students need jobs that are several days a week. I will pay you twelve dollars an hour, which is an excellent rate, and you may have any refreshments you choose while at my home. Based on your schedule here at the firm it appears that you will be coming to my home on Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 10-4. I expect you to be prompt, and come in the same attire that you do here. Lastly, note that this will look excellent on college application essays. I refuse to take no as an answer. Can you start this week?"
Rory stared stupidly at the man in front of her, her brain still processing through the details. After a few awkward seconds, she finally managed to ask: "What kind of pro bono work? Am I really going to be able to make a difference in what you are doing?"
"Yes, in fact. Every person that helps is a big help. I only take on one case at a time since I am supposed to be retired from this place, but it keeps me occupied during my dreary days. The current case Im working on involves a local Boys and Girls Club finding asbestos in their walls, closing down their facility. The building manager has refused to pay for the repairs, stating that there is minimal risk. The Club would like the builders to take down the site and build them a new one. Asbestos cases are very prevalent in our society in recent years, and there is a considerable amount of research to be done, at no cost of course to the Club."
Rory cocked her head, listening to the man speak. What he was investigating did sound interesting, and she was intrigued to know that she could actually help in this case, doing community service in a sense.
"Ok bu " Rory wasnt able to finish her sentence as the gentleman proceeded to cut her off.
"Wonderful, I knew you would agree! Here is my card with my home address and phone number. I will see you tomorrow at 10am then. Good day." After handing her the card, the gentleman glided away, spry and agile for his age.
"but Id like to know how long you will need my help." Rory finished unheard as he walked away. She sighed and focused on the tips of her black Mary Janes in frustration. What a character!
She slowly lifted her hand and flipped over the card that was in it. And then felt her stomach lurch as she read the name on the card.
Janlan Dugrey, Esq.
Attorney At Law
A quiet but nevertheless still audible groan echoed through the file room.
Rory stared at the home that she had just walked up to, amazed at the monstrosity of it. A white columned house, it looked like it was out of Gone with the Wind, but somehow even tackier. It just screamed Im rich for anyone to hear in the vicinity. That surprised her, the place didnt seem to be inline with her image of Mr. Dugrey. The gardens were rather lovely though, bright green trees waving in the wind right next to the home, swaying slightly.
She slowly walked up the front steps, and as she raised her hand to knock on the large white door with the windows at the top, the door swung upon to expose an honest to God butler in a suit and tie in the entryway.
"Hello Miss. Mr. Dugrey is expecting you and is in the Salon." The butler opened the door wide to admit Rory.
"Umm thank you. Unfortunately I dont know the way there." Rory had a feeling that if she didnt get directions she would get lost.
"That is not a problem Miss. I shall escort you." The butler slowly started making his way down the entryway.
Rory followed in his wake, taking time to look at the décor on the way. The inside of the house was more tasteful, decorated in muted rich colors. There was a Persian carpet in the entryway, and the wood tables on the left and right accented the carpet wonderfully. She wondered if the carpet was silk, and figured from the brightness of the carpet that it was. The lovely vases and other decorations that were placed on the tables were lovely and simple, only adding to the plushness of the décor, opposed to screaming opulence.
The butler turned into the very last door on the right and headed into what for all intent and purposes was a lovely living room. With high windows letting sun into the room, and lovely rich furniture, the room looked like a Lord could easily reside in it as his day room. Nice, but not excessive, just like the rest of the house that she had seen. How could the outside of this home be so ugly, and the inside be so nice?
As her gaze flitted about the room, it finally came to rest on Mr. Dugrey standing in the center of it, patiently waiting for her gaze to fall upon him.
"Unfortunate isnt it?" He said. "The inside doesnt match the outside. My wife somehow took a liking to the building. Thankfully she hired an interior decorator that knew what they were doing instead of a nimwit that would have matched the inside of the house to the outside. God knows I could have ended up with a home that looked like it had been carpeted left to right with brocade." He shuddered at the thought.
Rory looked at him dressed in well-pressed slacks and a lovely burgundy wool cardigan. He matched the hue and effect of the room to a T. There were papers strewn all over the coffee table and sofa, and several books were open on another table near the bookshelves. Pens and highlighters were also strewn here and there, and a tea set hovered precariously near the end of the table, with a bowl of fruit waiting prettily nearby. She couldnt wait to tell her Mom about this. She would go nuts.
Rory suddenly had an insane moment and wanted to break out into song from Disneys Beauty and the Beast. She felt like she was in that scene where the Beast takes Belle to the library with the incredible amount of books. Mr. Dugrey didnt nearly have that amount of books, but he sure did have the room, even with the high ceilings.
"Are you going to just sit there in stupefaction girl, or are you going to greet me?" Mr. Dugrey tapped his cane in emphasis at the last few words.
"Oh, Im sorry." Rory started. She walked over and shook his hand in greeting. "I just love to read, and you have an amazing amount of books here. Are they all law books?"
"Good morning Mr. Dugrey. How are you doing Mr. Dugrey? Did Emily Gilmore not teach you anything?"
"Oh, you know my grandmother?" Rory walked further into the room, noting that the Butler had already left.
"Yes, your grandfather and I have done business before. They are fine people." Mr. Dugrey beckoned Rory closer to the couches surrounding the coffee table. "As to your question about whether all of these books are about law, no they are not. This is one of my favorite rooms in the house, and I enjoy being here to read. I have several classics located on the shelves, and various latest thrillers that I shove into the far reaches of the bookshelves so that the effect of my library isnt ruined. Couldnt do for people to see me reading the latest James Patterson now would it?" Mr. Dugrey winked at Rory. She blinked, shocked that he could switch from reprimanding to nice in 0-60 seconds.
"Yes, its beautiful here."
"Well, then, lets get to work, shall we? Youll have the grand tour when were done today." Mr. Dugrey ushered Rory over to a sofa, and picked up a case file. "Heres what you will need to look for and do "
Tristan walked through the front door, trying not to make too much noise in the process. He knew his grandfathers butler would have a heart attack if he followed his usual technique of simply letting the heavy door slam shut after he walked through. The thing weighed enough.
He was punctual as usual, walking down the entryway towards the den. He enjoyed these weekly meetings with his grandfather. It was a time for them to talk about life, and for him to help his grandfather out with whatever he needed.
He loved the old man. He was the one person that understood where Tristan was coming from. Why? Because they had been rather similar at this age. When his grandfather spoke to Tristan, he didnt sound like Tristans father: put out because he had to talk to his son yet again, when he could be at the golf course, or at the latest board meeting. Needless to say, relations between Tristans father and grandfather were strained at best. Tristans father thought Tristans grandfather was shameless, and Tristans grandfather thought Tristans father was a stick in the mud.
As he turned the corner into the living room he stopped and almost gasped at the sight that awaited him. Rory Gilmore. He blinked in surprise.
All the emotions that he had tried to bury these past 4 weeks suddenly came screaming back to the surface. Why was she here? And why did she have to look so good? The sun lightly played on the top of her head, giving her a slight halo where she sat. The sunlight also touched her cheeks, illuminating her baby-like face and beauty. She was chewing on the tip of a pen, frowning at the document in front of her, with an army of highlighters facing her on the table in front of her. She made a very charming picture, perched on the sofa, obviously thinking hard.
Tristan swallowed. Just when he thought that he had kicked her out of his mind, here she was again. He didnt know what he was going to do with her back in his life so soon. He had been looking forward to a summer without having to see her pretty face every day, so that maybe, just maybe, he could actually go one night without wishing that he was the one greeting her every day before she went home.
He flashed back to the conversation that he had had with his grandfather on the lovely day of the tickets. He had come back here to sulk after seeing Rory with her on-again boyfriend in the parking lot of school.
"She didnt go for the tickets." Tristan said.
"What do you mean she didnt go for the tickets? I thought you said that guy was one of Rorys favorite musicians."
"She is. Rory said no, ok? End of discussion."
"How did you ask her?"
"Dont be daft. You heard me, how did you ask her?"
"I just asked."
Mr. Dugrey narrowed his eyes at Tristan. "I dont think so."
"Ithreatenedherbytakingherbooksandnotgivingthemback." Tristan quickly rushed his words together in the hopes that his grandfather would drop the subject.
Mr. Dugrey looked at Tristan in disgust. "Lets try that over again. This time without the mumbling into the chest."
"I threatened her by taking her books and not giving them back."
Mr. Dugrey sighed. "That is not the way to a womans heart, and you know it."
"I know, granddad, I know. She just She just Flusters me. Every time I talk to her I want her to know that Im cool, you know? I dont want to be desperate, I want to wow her with, well, me." Tristan walked over to the window and rested his elbows on the sill.
"And so you act like a jerk when youre around her."
"Well, its true isnt it?"
"No!" Tristan sighed. "Yes. Shes just so different grandpa. So not Chilton."
"Is that why you like her?"
"At first. She wasnt like everyone else. But now, I realize shes more than that. Shes her own person. Which makes her that much more attractive. Shes unlike anyone Ive ever met. Shes radiant. Yeah, radiant is a good word." Tristan rubbed his forehead. "I sound like Im a lovestruck idiot."
"Well, you sound like you like her. Theres no shame in that."
Tristan snorted. "Yeah, and Ive gone absolutely nowhere. Did I mention shes back with her old boyfriend? They made out right in front of me. Right in front of me!" He went back to facing outside, leaving his stony profile for his grandfather to see. Tristans hair looked rumpled, as if a hand had been running through it in frustration the entire afternoon.
Mr. Dugrey remained silent as he watched Tristans empty stare.
"She said she hated me. I didnt expect it to hurt so bad..." Tristan embarrassedly trailed off the end of his sentence, and looked back at his grandfather. A blush crept over his cheeks as he realized how much he had just revealed. He would be upset with himself if it had been anyone but the one man before him.
"Im sorry Tristan." Mr. Dugrey sat in compassionate silence with his grandson.
"Yeah, whatever." Tristan turned away from the window suddenly. "Come on granddad, lets get out of here. I need some fresh air."
Tristan sighed he was already back in territory he hadnt wanted to cross. As his grandfather looked up to see him in the doorway, Tristan gave a slight strained smile, physically asking: "What are you doing?"
Mr. Dugrey merely smiled enigmatically in response.
Tristan inwardly groaned. This did not bode well. He took a deep breath and willed his rapidly beating heart to slow down. He eased his pose into his usual cool slouch, and slowly allowed his normal cocky smile to cross his face. When he felt his armor settle, he eased forward. Tristan Dugrey, all guns blazing.
World War Three was about to begin.
Mr. Dugrey watched as his grandson slowly strutted, and strutted was the right word, forward. He resisted the urge to yell across the room to his grandson to stop the game, and be the young man that he knew he had the potential to be. These two children were both so young. But Janlan knew Tristan was at a crossroads. He could continue to become the arrogant spoiled man his parents and so-called friends encouraged him to be, or he could take a risk and try a relationship, be it platonic or romantic, with this young woman.
Janlan let his gaze rest on Rorys lowered head. She was the one. The one that could change his grandson, encouraging him to feel instead of act, be kind instead of selfish, and open him up to things beyond sports, women and money. In the first few minutes of meeting her, Janlan knew. She was refreshing, and very, very innocent. Her innocence and idealism would help change Tristan, and was what drew Tristan to her in the first place. She would heal a part of him that he didnt know existed, at least consciously. Janlans own wife did the same, bless her soul, but he didnt get to know her until he had made several unfortunate mistakes in his own life. He didnt want Tristan to repeat his foibles. Janlan himself helped Tristan, but he knew that this young lady that Tristan wanted so badly would change him even faster than his grandfather ever could.
Janlan also knew that Rory was already in a relationship. Unfortunately, he also knew that his grandson needed her. And that was all that mattered to him. These two would have an interesting summer. He would make sure of it.
"Hey, Mary." Tristans voice echoed in the quiet room. He didnt notice the grimace his grandfather gave following his words.
Rorys head snapped up at the familiar words. "Oh no. Im suddenly hoping Im delusional and that Im hallucinating " Rory trailed off looking at Mr. Dugrey with a slightly embarrassed expression.
"Oh, dont worry my dear. I know youre quite professional, and besides, my grandson provoked you. I dont blame you."
Tristan looked at his grandfather in surprise. What was this? The lack of support from his own family member suddenly threw him off his game. He posture tensed up a bit, and his expression turned slightly sour.
"You mean, you know your grandson was a holy terror to me in my first year at Chilton?" Rory asked Mr. Dugrey.
"Oh yes. Hes spoken about you a great deal." Janlan let that last remark hang in the air a bit. And he got the desired effect he wanted. Rory looked perplexedly at Tristan, who just barely managed to erase an embarrassed look from his face before she looked over.
"Oh yeah, he knows about my undying love for you. You still owe me a birthday kiss as I recall." Tristan smugly crossed his arms in front of him.
Rory unconsciously copied his movements, also crossing her arms in front of her chest. The two teenagers faced one another, with identical stubborn expressions on their faces. Janlan leaned back in his chair, with his hands on his knees, smiling at the angry chemistry these two flung at one another. It was hidden under all of that anger, but it was there. He just hoped his grandson wouldnt fling it away.
"Okay. Ground rules. You need to understand that your grandfather has given me a cool job this summer, and Im not going to ruin it. I have the opportunity to really try something I may want to do, and I dont want you leaning over my shoulder watching me do it. Understood?" Rorys jaw jutted out further with each word.
Tristan replied, "Sure. I wouldnt want to spend my summer being a brainiac like you. Im working on my own thing with my grandfather, and Im sure you dont need to interfere."
"Why does everything need to be a battle with you?" Rory swung her hands away from where they were close to her chest. "Why do you feel the need to pick on me? Can we just be civil for just once?"
"I " Tristan leaned back from her outburst, surprise at the depth of feeling she was flinging at him heatedly. "I thought "
"You thought what Yoda?"
"I thought you understood."
"Understood what?!" Rory flung her hands into the air in frustration.
"After our talk, I thought you knew Im just teasing." Tristan looked at Rory, honestly confused.
"And after our talk I thought you understood that I hate it when you call me Mary, and when you tease me in the halls. Life is difficult enough at Chilton without you making it more miserable for me." Rory sighed, lifting her braid from behind her back and exasperatingly dropping it down again against her shoulder.
Tristan was shocked into silence for a few moments. "But I thought you liked our verbal spars."
"Verbal spars yes, you calling me names and teasing me in front of the school population, no."
Tristan looked at Rory in dismay. He forgot that she wasnt as experienced as him in high school relationships, and that she had a naiveté that precluded her from understanding why he acted like a five year old around her.
"Well, I think we can now move on, and Im majorly embarrassed that I had this discussion with you in front of your grandfather." Rory finally realized that the older gentleman had quietly been watching their argument from the armchair.
"I dont mind. The two of you clearly had things to work out. Its better that we get them out of the way now than to have them surface in the middle of working. Let me make something clear to the both of you there is work to be done here." Janlan emphasized the last bit of his sentence. For all his matchmaking, there was still a case he was defending, and he still needed intelligent help.
Rory looked at Mr. Dugrey agape. "Wait, is Tristan helping us?"
Tristan also looked at his grandfather with dawning understanding. "Granddad, you didnt " A slight blush started to work up over his cheekbones as he realized what his grandfather had done.
"Yes. I need both of you this summer. So, if the two of you could stop behaving like young children, I would appreciate it if you started working." He picked up a nearby deposition and started flipping through the pages.
"Yes, sir." Tristan unfolded himself out of his slouch and walked over to the couches, sitting on the one apart from both Rory and his grandfather. Meanwhile Rory picked up her highlighter and went back to work.
Janlan looked up and studied the two bent heads. In order to work together they had to talk, and thats what he was counting on. If they didnt well, he had a few things up his sleeve. He smiled devilishly at the portrait of his wife hanging over the fireplace across the room. Whoever thought that he would be playing matchmaker at his age?
"Im going to go get some lunch started for us." Janlan unraveled himself from the couch, picked up his cane and started walking out of the Salon.
Tristan and Rory looked up, watching him go.
"I like your grandfather." Rory said smiling.
" I like him too. Hes a great guy. You know, he used to take me on these treasure hunts in the garden. We would pretend we were archeologists or something of the equivalent." Tristan reminisced.
"Wow, thats so cool. My Mom and I would do that sometimes too. Not the garden thing, but the pretend thing. We would go out, and actually still do from time to time, to the costume store and get dressed up for no reason whatsoever except to have fun. Our favorite costumes thus far have been Lucy and Desi, although there was a bit of an argument over who got to be Lucy. Then my Mom reminded me of how many stunts shes pulled, and the argument was over. She was probably a tempestuous redhead in a past life anyway." Rory chewed on her highlighter and smiled as she thought back to that hilarious night.
Tristan watched Rory wistfully, feeling a pang at the cute expression that was on her face. She was so lovely and untouched by the world and its cynicism. His fingers ached to reach over and touch the tip of her nose, and laugh with her at her memories. He actually felt his hand twitch at his side as his feelings coursed through him. He glued his hand to his leg, mentally willing it to remain unmoving.
"Lu cy." Tristan whipped out an amazing imitation of the famous Desi Arnaz.
Rory looked at him in amazement. "Oh My God. The great Tristan Dugrey does impersonations! Do another, do another!" Rory dropped her highlighter and turned on the sofa to fully face Tristin.
"What will you pay me? I think Im owed ten cents per impersonation."
"You come cheap."
"Im easily bribable."
"Clearly." Rory reached over and picked up her messenger bag, digging to the bottom of the bag in search of change. She finally found fifty cents in nickels and dimes. One of the dimes had some sort of goo on it. Both Tristan and Rory looked at it dubiously.
"I dont think I want that dime." Tristin arched an eyebrow as he stared at it.
"Oh come on, it cant be too lethal right? Nothings growing at the bottom of my backpack."
"You didnt leave it in there long enough. It looks like it was trying to make friends with the other coins." Tristin pointed to one of the nickels that looked like it had similar clear goo on it.
"Hmm I wonder what that is." Rory twisted the coin around in her fingers. "The goo is solid, and doesnt feel squishy or anything."
"Yuck." Tristan wrinkled his nose at the coins that Rory was reaching across the coffee table to give him. He suddenly sniffed. "Does it smell like raspberry to you?"
Rory blinked. "Oh! I know what the substance is! Its my raspberry lipgloss! So thats where it went, I was looking all over for it last week. The stick must have rubbed against the coins while in my bag, and then congealed. Luckily the tube didnt explode, or it would have been goo on everything. So, now that you know its a safe goo, take the money. I want to hear more voices."
Tristin gingerly took the coins and pocketed them. He cleared his throat self-consciously. "So, little lady, seen any cowpokes lately?"
"Bond. James Bond." Tristin imitated Sean Connery with an arrogant air.
Rory rolled her eyes. "Figures."
Tristan squinted. "Go ahead, make my day."
"Clint Eastwood." Rory leaned forward, her eyes burning in excitement, work forgotten.
Tristans train of thought vanished as he caught the animated look on her face. He racked his brain for more impersonations.
"Hello Huckleberry." Tristan fake smoked a cigarette and tossed it aside as he impersonated Val Kilmer from Tombstone.
Rory shrieked. "I loved him in that movie!"
"Wheres the kaboom?" Tristan finished his impersonations in a maniacal tone of voice.
"Marvin the Martian! I loved him when I was little. I would go around saying that all the time." Rory excitedly gestured using her hands.
"Really? Me too!" Tristan leaned forward as well.
As their gazes caught the two teenagers suddenly realized at the same moment that the two of them were actually getting along. An awkward silence ensued.
Tristan ventured forward. "Rory lets call a truce. Lets start over. From the beginning." He rested his elbows on his knees.
"What does this truce entail?"
"Us being civil, and maybe even nice to one another."
"Will you uphold this truce?"
"Then were agreed." Rory stretched, opening the cricks in her back from sitting slumped over paperwork for a couple of hours. "But if I see any reneging on this truce, then be prepared for dire consequences."
Tristan smiled. It was a start. "And what would those be?"
"Well, dont forget, I know where the rest of the clear goo lives."
Two more weeks passed, heading the summer into August. The legal team continued to be hard at work reviewing paperwork from both The Club, and the building company.
Rory and Tristan actually had started a groove. As they were doing the same thing looking through tons and tons of paperwork for mentions of any building damage that could be related to asbestos, or health related problems they often had to compare notes and paperwork to make sure they were not duplicating efforts, and to log what they had found. Janlan was very pleased with their work thus far. The two stellar students were clearly very detail oriented and had no problems looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack. Their log provided him the background needed for developing his case. He would periodically look through specific documents they identified for further backup or leads.
On one afternoon Janlan sent Tristan and Rory to the law library to pick up several books that he needed for more research. Tristan had the wheels, and Rory the knowledge of where the books were via her work at Chilton Law Offices.
After successfully picking up the books Tristan and Rory headed back to Janlans home. At a stoplight Rory looked over at Tristan and was startled at the slow friendship they had started to build. Rory had discovered that Tristan was funny, kind, and wonderfully gallant. He was slowly showing her a side of himself that she didnt know existed. It was like he uncurling himself carefully with each passing day, showing her more and more of his true self. And she liked his true self. For once she didnt cringe about the thought of spending time with him, and looked forward to their stimulating conversations, instead of thinking of ways to avoid him.
Tristans thoughts were following a similar path as he felt her gaze on him. These past two weeks had only come to solidify why he liked Rory Gilmore. Their conversations werent filled by what new expensive thing their parents had bought, or what their parents wanted them to do, or gossip about school and everyone in it. He knew that he would smell her in his car for the coming days on end. That thought partially freaked him out as it reinforced how hard he had fallen for her. He just knew that she had the power to hurt him, and that scared him.
He started as he suddenly heard her voice.
"Pull over." Rory excitedly wriggled in her seat.
"Pull over. Im sure your grandfather wouldnt mind if we were 10 minutes late."
Tristan slowly eased his car over to the curb and parked in front of what looked like a childrens park, complete with swings, seesaw, slide and sand. There were about 10 children ranging from the ages of 5 to 12 playing in the sand and on the various playthings. "What, did you forget something?"
"Nope." Rory quickly opened the door and hopped out of the car. She stuck her head back through the door and said, "Are you coming slowpoke?"
Tristan looked blankly at her. "I would be coming if I had any idea what you were doing. I have a feeling that you arent telling me where were going because whatever we will be doing will scare me."
"You are brilliant kemo-sabe, and you need to get out of the car now."
Tristan made one last effort. "Granddad wanted these books soon."
"And he would get them soon if you would get out of the car." Rory leaned over and undid Tristans seat belt. At the brush of her fingers on his thigh Tristans breath caught and he got out of the car so quickly he knocked into the metal portion of the seatbelt, then tripped over his own feet, and into the car door, nearly taking himself down like a wrestler in the process.
"Very suave." Rory closed the door on her side, grinning at Tristans lack of dexterity.
"Thanks, I try." Tristan looked at the ground, embarrassed as he shut the car door and locked the doors with the remote. "Ok, so now that Ive managed to demonstrate why the Russian Ballet would never accept my application, what are we up to?" He came around the side of the car to stand next to Rory, who then started to walk.
"You wanted to be a ballerina? Wait, do they call men in ballet ballerinas? Somehow it sounds so feminine." Rory reached the lip of the park, and stopped.
"I was being facetious, and I have no idea what they call male ballerinas. Do you need some help there?" Tristan watched as Rory hopped around on one leg, trying to take off her sandals one at a time. "You look like an awkward stork."
"Thanks." Rory leaned a hand on Tristan to support herself as she used her other hand to take off her sandals.
Tristan looked at the hand she had braced on his arm, wishing that she would use him for support more often. Then it suddenly occurred to him that Rory had her shoes off.
"Were going to the park."
"Stating the obvious. Yes, were going to the park. You have been to a park before right?" Rory started off towards the swings, stopping to sift warm sand through her toes.
Tristan looked at his dress shoe clad feet and black slacks and grimaced. He noted that Rorys long skirt was trailing through the sand, and had already picked up several granules that looked like they were going to remain there for the remainder of the afternoon.
"Arent you hot?" Tristan unbuttoned one of the top buttons of his dress shirt as he trailed after Rory and gestured to the long skirt and solid tank top.
"Nope, the skirt is pretty flowy." She glanced at his still shoe clad feet and laughed. "You realize its going to take only a few seconds to have -"
"Sand in my shoes." Tristan grimaced again. "I was trying to ignore it before, but now, the shoes are coming off." He looked around for something to brace against and was rewarded when Rory stepped up and gave him her arm to lean against.
"Returning the favor." She smiled up at him, and for an instant his breath caught.
The sand felt good as he took off the shoes and socks. He also couldnt resist sifting sand through his toes to bury himself a bit deeper.
"Come on. We dont want to have to beat up five year olds in the attempt to get to the swings. There are two free." Rory swept off towards the swing set, Tristan running up behind her.
They sat side by side in the swings, and Rory instantly took a running start in order to get her swing moving. Tristan emulated her movements trying to remember when he last did what he was doing now.
"Do I know I havent done this in years?" Tristan moved his legs backwards and forwards trying to get the height that Rory already had managed.
"Apparently so, as I have you beat in the race department. Come on! Chug those legs harder!" Rory laughed as she flew further up into the sky. "This is so wonderfully cathartic, my Mom and I love coming here and just swinging for awhile it makes your problems so carefree, you know?"
"Youre really close to your Mom arent you?"
"Shes my best friend." Rory flung the words out as she passed Tristan between swings.
Tristan finally managed to get up to speed with Rory after a few more seconds of leg pumping and leaning. As he looked below and saw the delighted faces of the small kids looking up at him, and watched the sand, grass, and trees flash by he surprised himself by letting out a loud carefree laugh. This felt so right, doing this here at this time. He turned to look at Rory, smiling, and the world suddenly slowed.
Her face turned towards him, her loose brown hair flowing in the wind in his direction, tendrils and locks waving silently in the breeze. She was laughing gustily as her eyes met his, and he was struck by their vibrant color. Her skirt flew in the wind, fluttering around her toes and legs, a flash of blues and purples against the sandy ground. His heart lurched at he watched her, and he realized how happy she made him. It was at that moment he realized that Rory Gilmore wasnt going to be someone he easily got over. This wasnt a game. He didnt know what being in love felt like, but whatever this was, it had a strong hold on him.
The moment broke as she leaned back to pump herself higher, and he forgot to make any leg motion whatsoever, causing him to fall behind.
Rory flew higher in the air, wondering about the shadow that had just passed over Tristans face. She didnt want to read into the expression that she had vaguely seen. She didnt want to complicate her life. As she hit the highest point she could without fearing tip-over, she started to slow her swings, regretting having to land. She looked over at Tristan and smiled. He looked the most carefree she had ever seen him.
"You realize that I need a Polaroid camera right now?" Rory gestured at him on the swing.
"Why? Because I have sand stuck between my toes, my slacks are hideously folded up so they wont get sand in them, and my shirt is so beyond wrinkled in the heat that its not going to be saved?"
"And because somehow youve managed to get swing grease on your nose from leaning on the swing chains."
"Nope. Right down the side in a nice yellowy black mark."
Tristan groaned as his swing came to a stop. "How am I the one that managed to get dirty?"
"Probably has something to do with your graceful exit from the car." Rory giggled as her swing came to a stop.
She got up out of the swing and came towards Tristan, stopping in front of him. She licked her thumb and used it to rub at the smudge on his nose. "There. Its less conspicuous now." She looked at his poleaxed expression. "What? Friends do this to for one another. They tell one another when they have stuff stuck in their teeth, or a zipper open somewhere, or skirts stuck in pantyhose." Rory started back towards the car, picking up her discarded shoes on the way.
Tristan looked after her, skin still tingling from her touch. "The next time I wear pantyhose Ill let you check me out."
"Youre just looking for an excuse to show off your butt."
"Damn. You noticed."
Tristan picked up his shoes and jogged to catch up with Rory. "Hey, no really, thanks for this." He used his shoes to point back towards the park. "It felt good."
"See, told you it would be painless." Rory tossed her shoes into the backseat of Tristans car as he unlocked and opened the doors.
Tristan got into the drivers side of the car and turned the key in the ignition. "Back to the daily grind."
"But we love the grind."
"That we do."
Janlan Dugrey issued the necessary paperwork to try to get the case to settle at the end of the summer. Unfortunately, the company did not take him up on the offer. They were willing to settle, but not at the cost that Janlan and The Boys and Girls Club wanted. The Club did not want to go to court because that would require more funding than they had. Therefore, more work needed to be done to come up with a different settlement that appealed to both sides. Janlan asked Rory and Tristan to continue working with him, albeit only once per week now that school had started up again. They were to come over one afternoon per week after school to help further with paperwork and typing up necessary documents.
Janlan also saw the blossoming relationship between the two students, and was extraordinarily pleased. Tristan had lost the brittle edge he had previously, and he and Rory had discovered a friendship by the end of the summer, easily chatting and teasing one another. He hoped that his grandson would carry this friendship into the school year, and not regress once he was in the Chilton atmosphere and back with his old friends in the same environment as Rory.
As the school year started Tristan and Rory would greet one another in the hallways of school. Not only that, but they even occasionally had lunch with one another. They tolerated stares from Paris and her friends until Paris decided to say something one month into school.
"Consorting with the enemy?" Paris cornered Rory one day between classes.
"What are you talking about?" Rory took the necessary books out of her locker and slammed it shut.
"You and Tristan."
"Do you think about anything beyond that Paris?"
Paris blinked. "I "
"Why dont you try to spend your time thinking about more beneficial things?" Rory started to walk towards her next class.
"Youve changed him you know. For the better."
At that Rory turned around and looked at Paris. "What do you mean?"
"Hes not on his annual find a girlfriend jaunt. Every year at this time hes usually looking for a new victim. But not this year. I wonder why."
"I dont know, why dont you ask him?"
"I mean hes still his usual self hes a guy but he seems to treat women with a bit more respect." Paris nodded. "Yeah, thats it."
Rory smiled. "I think hes learned a few things this summer."
"Well, I like the change." Paris emphatically nodded at the end of her statement. She looked consideringly at Rory. "Hey do you want to be in our Bio study group?"
Rory stared at Paris. "Did you just ask me what I think you did?"
"Dont make me repeat it. You wont get the offer twice."
Rory considered for a brief moment, then said, "Ok. I think I could handle that. Thanks."
"See you in Bio."
"See you in Bio."
Will wonders never cease.
"Hey Mom? Are you around?" Rory walked in the door at about 5pm after hanging out for a few hours with Lane.
"Rory, we have a problem."
"Did you try cooking the tiramisu again? Cause you know I dont think the stove has quite recovered from that yet."
"No. Our car, the car that should be breakdown proof, has gasp, broken down. It wont start. I would call Luke or Sookie to come help me take the car to a mechanic, but both of them are working, and I want to drop off the car tonight. Im also afraid of an I told you so from Luke the dungeon master."
"I would call Dean but hes working tonight." Rory thought a bit. "Wait, Ill call Tristan."
Lorelai paused. "The Tristan?"
"The evil one himself."
"Do I get to ask what Hell is like?" Lorelai trailed after Rory on the way to the phone.
"Come on. What about being evil, can I ask about that?"
"What about if he has a pitchfork somewhere?"
Tristan finished hooking up the Gilmore car to his car, amazed that he was even here in the first place. The fact that Rory at any point had considered calling him was monumental.
He smiled as he spotted the Gilmore women standing on the back porch giggling at one another. Upon greeting Lorelai Gilmore he had realized where Rorys beauty came from her mother had it as well. Lorelai was just as brilliant and radiant as her daughter. He imagined that Rory would be similar to her mother when she became an adult, but with her very own unique twists.
"Alright, were ready to get moving. Come on into the Dugrey mobile."
"Um Tristan?" Lorelai twisted her fingers around one another. Rory suddenly looked at her mother. Tristan braced himself.
"Mom " Rory said warily.
"Whats evil like?"
In mid-October the students were putting the finishing touches on the final supporting documents for their case.
"I think were ready to go with this. And I think they will accept. Were looking good kiddos." Janlen placed the final letters into a manila envelope.
"This is so exciting!" Rory bounced on the sofa in happiness, exuding excitement.
"Yup, it is." Tristan watched Rory and smiled.
Janlan watched the interchange, and brought up the idea that he had had yesterday afternoon. "Tristan, why dont you take Rory out to the stables?"
Tristan looked at his grandfather. "Hey, actually, thats a great idea."
"Stables, you have stables?" Rory felt suddenly aware of the class difference between her and the two men in the room.
"Yes, he does. And I think youll enjoy them. How about you try riding a horse?" Tristan stood and pointed towards the exit.
"Really? Ive always wanted to try and do that. At one point when I was little I went through a horsey phase, but my Moms deathly afraid of them, thinks theyll bite off pieces of her or something of that sort."
"Were done here, so off you go." Janlan leaned over and helped Rory up.
Tristan escorted Rory outside and the two walked towards the stables hidden in the back of the manor. When they arrived Rory saw a stablehand dressing down a horse, and two additional horses behind gates.
"Horse-riding is fun, though takes a bit to get used to. So, just as a warning, be prepared for a sore butt and bruised thighs tomorrow." Tristan walked over and led one of the horses out. It was a beautiful brown, and looked like a sweet animal. "Peony is good-tempered, and shouldnt give you any problems whatsoever."
As Rory looked up at Peony she suddenly had a flash of trepidation. "Ive never done this before, can you help me out?"
"Of course." Tristan retrieved a saddle and started to prep the horse for riding. "Here let me show you first how to get the horse ready for riding."
Over the next hour Tristan showed Rory how to saddle the horse, and how to mount. She proved to have natural grace, which didnt surprise Tristan, but she also wasnt a born jockey either. By the end of the hour she could mount and sit comfortably, and could walk the horse gingerly.
"Not bad." Tristan looked up at Rory on the horse and smiled approvingly.
Rory returned the smile. "I have to tell my Mom that this really isnt as bad as it seems."
"Do you think she would come out here and ride?"
"Well, I can ask. Of course, I think it will take a lot to get her over the fear of gnashing teeth. Plus, she was never a big fan of My Little Pony."
"Ugh, who was?" Tristan grimaced. "Come on, anything that depicts horses as blue and purple with the same colored hair is just plain wrong."
"What about the Care Bears?"
"They frightened me."
"They frightened you? How so?"
"Rory, they had stuff shooting out of their stomachs, didnt that seem a bit too much like Aliens to you?"
"You had nightmares about the Care Bears didnt you?"
"I know you had to have found something frightening about them."
"Nope, its just you." Rory paused. "Ill have to remember to give you something Care Bearish for your birthday."
Tristan looked up at Rory. "Would you like to try trotting?"
"Do you think Im ready?" Rory looked dubiously at Peonys mane.
"I can help you." Tristan gnawed nervously at his lip. "Uh I can mount and we can ride together."
Rory didnt seem to notice his nervousness. "Okay."
Tristan proceeded to mount up, sitting behind Rory. As he sat on the back of the horse, she leaned forward giving him room. Peony calmly remained in the same spot, obviously used to such behavior. As Rory leaned back, Tristan stifled a sigh. He could smell her shampoo and slight perfume. He slowly reached around her to take hold of the reins, and felt his entire body groan when he discovered that she fit perfectly into his arms. Her hair teased his arms, and his chin nearly brushed the top of her head. He prayed that she couldnt hear his rapidly beating heart.
And then he took a big risk. He took the reins in his hands, and then proceeded to rest his hands on top of hers.
"Here take the reins, and Ill help guide."
Rory, unaffected by the same emotions that were running through Tristan, calmly took the reins from him. Tristan then once again covered her hands with his to be able to help her guide. He slightly kicked the horse, and felt Peony start to walk.
"Whoohoo!" Rory yelled in exhilaration as she felt the horse start to move.
Tristan smiled, trying to control his rapid heartbeat. This was so perfect. Sitting here in the cooling afternoon sun with Rory at his grandfathers. If nothing else ever happened between them he would at least have this memory. He kicked the horse into a trot and felt her exuberant cry, and tightened his hold. She fit even more firmly against him as he leaned them forward into the slight breeze. He hair whipped against him, and at one point she even turned her head slightly sideways to look at him. He himself was smiling brilliantly, and trying valiantly not to crush her in his arms.
Tristan brought the horse to a halt after a few minutes. Peony came to a bit of an abrupt stop, causing something inadvertent to happen. As Peony stopped a little too fast, Tristan ended up leaning a bit too far forward, which also pushed Rory forward. As Tristans head dipped, his lips touched intimately against the back of Rorys exposed neck.
And both teenagers froze.
Tristans pulse skyrocketed, causing him to vaguely wonder if he was going to pass out. He waited for Rory to say something, anything, and was brought back to the night of the kiss when he had also wanted to die of embarrassment. But now, just this simple fleeting touch of lips to skin had Tristan wanting more. He could still taste her.
He waited for her to speak.
Rory sat ramrod straight, unable to believe what had just happened. Not the slight brush of lips, that hadnt been Tristans fault. But the flash of electricity that had flowed through her after the intimate kiss. She could hear her pulse thudding in her ears. She could feel in excruciating detail his hands pressed against hers, holding her tight. She became suddenly aware of the fact that she wanted him to kiss her again, and that left her speechless. She had a boyfriend, what the hell was she doing?!
Tristin saw her shudder in front of him, and wondered what she was thinking. After a full minute passed without either of them saying anything, and her not running away, he decided to press his luck. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
This time, there was no mistaking his actions. He dropped one of his hands from hers, and used it to lift her hair up and over one shoulder. He felt her go still like a rabbit on a lawn. But she didnt pull away. She was wearing a boat neck top, one that exposed her neck and an expanse of shoulder.
He closed his eyes as he leaned over and pressed his lips to her exposed skin at the right of her neck. He gave her a softly caressing kiss. And felt his heart lift in anticipation.
Rorys breathing quickened as she felt his lips touch her shoulder again. Lethargically her head fell to the left, giving him more room. His arms tightened on her sides to give her more support, encouraging her to lean into him further. So she did. Her body fell against his, as she felt her muscles give out.
The kiss deepened.
Rory was brought back to her senses with a start when she heard the horse loudly whinny.
She leapt away from Tristan, and hurriedly tried to dismount.
Tristan vaguely heard the horse whinny, but then felt it when Rory pulled away. As she flung a leg over the horse, he was forced to help her down to make sure she didnt hurt herself while dismounting. He saw her panicked face as her feet hit the ground.
"Rory, wait. Please wait. Let me explain." Tristan started to get off the horse as quickly as possible.
"Theres nothing to explain. This was a mistake, just like our last kiss." Rory laughed abruptly. "How about that huh? Things happen on accident."
Tristan finally fully dismounted. "That wasnt a mistake and you know it." Anger slowly started to build. "You responded. I felt it."
"Im not dead yet." Rory nervously tried to pull her collar over the spot he had kissed.
"Please, lets talk about this. I think we can work things out." Tristan reached a hand out pleadingly to Rory.
"Why dont you ever understand that there is no we?" Rory started to backpeddle. "I have a boyfriend. I do. And hes a nice boyfriend. And he kisses me. And I like his kisses. And you shouldnt be kissing me. Especially not in a garden, where its romantic, and bubbly, and, and pretty. Argh!" Rory clutched her hands together in frustration.
"Maybe you need a new boyfriend." Tristan tried to ignore the furious rips of jealousy that threatened to turn this conversation into a full blown fight. He didnt want to think about Dean kissing Rory. She was attainable damn it. She had to be. He knew she liked the kiss.
"No. No. Im just confused, it was just the excitement of the day. Youre Chiltons Tristan Dugrey, how could I fall for you?"
Tristan rocked back on his heels, hurt coursing through his face. "Youre panicked. You feel guilty. Thats why youre saying these things."
Rory felt her heart skip a beat as his last words beat through her mind. They almost had a ring of truth to them which made her even more panicked and confused.
"Rory, please. Just think. Just think about it for one minute. Weve been doing this for months now. Flirting, getting to know one another. Can this really be that impossible?"
"But " Rory whimpered. "Im so confused...Im happy with Dean."
Tristan clenched his hand into a fist in frustration. "Maybe you could be even happier with me."
"I have to think about this. Let me think, okay?" Rory swept back her hair from her face.
Tristan felt disappointment sweep through him. If she couldnt decide now with the flavor of their magical moment still hanging in the air, then he had lost her. His stomach dived, and he felt bile rise up in his throat.
He said the word that he didnt want to say. "Okay."
"Thank you." Rory looked relieved. "Tristan, I dont want us to not speak okay? I dont want to lose this friendship."
Friendship. The nausea surfaced again. "Sure." He forced a smile to his face. "Maybe it was the moment, huh?" Something, anything to save face.
Rory sighed. "Maybe. Come on, lets go inside." She looked at him and lightly touched his arm. "Are you okay?"
"Im fine." He shook himself, and forced himself to grow a backbone. "Well talk about this when youre ready okay? No pressure."
"Thanks." Rory smiled tentatively. "So, lets go inside and try those scones your grandfather was raving about shall we? I want to see him grimace and start ranting again every single time I call a currant a raisin."
"He cant help it, he was raised in a British household."
"He turns red."
"A beautiful shade of it too."
As they started walking back to the stables with the horse Tristan tried not to look at Rorys shoulder. It was just too painful.
Rory stared at herself in the mirror. What had changed? What had happened in the past few weeks that she suddenly felt this thing for Tristan? She didnt want to put a name to it because it just scared her silly. She liked Dean, she did. But somehow, when she now thought of him she didnt get as many of those warm juicy feelings that she did before. How had this happened?
She brushed her hair over her shoulder and pulled her pajama top aside so she could look at her shoulder and neck. There it was, that lovely red mark.
"Thats a hickey!" Rory started violently as her mothers voice startled her.
"Sorry to scare you." Lorelai walked up behind Rory and pulled back her collar even further. "Thats a pretty accomplished hickey if I ever saw one. Tell me Rory, how exactly did you get a hickey in this particular spot?"
"Would you believe a raccoon jumped out of a tree and bit me?" Rory locked gazes with her mother in the mirror.
"As raccoons normally dont give you love bites, mmm no. Unless you have something horrible to tell me about you and your love of animals." Lorelai paused. "Ugh. Somehow that didnt come out right. See, theres this hickey on my daughter. And mom kind of wants to know how hickey ended up there in order to stop panicking."
Rory sighed and turned around to face her mother fully. "You dont need to worry Mom. It was innocent. Tristan gave it to me."
"Well narcolepsy boy better " Rorys words finally registered with Lorelai. "Tristan? Tristan gave it to you? The evil one? Im sorry. I feel like youre in the fast lane, and Im in a granny car with a granny who has to use a telephone book to see over the top of the steering wheel and three inch thick glasses. And youre waving bye-bye to me in the fast lane as you pass me by, and Im still stuck in the granny car cursing the I day I decided to go out with Granny to get a beaded bag."
Rory sighed. "I know, I know. Im confusing myself with this whole thing."
Lorelai sat on the bed and patted the area next to her. "Come on over and talk to Dr. Mom, not to be confused with the vengeful Dr. Laura."
Rory walked over and sat in the spot her mother had indicated, and then with a sigh leaned over and put her head in her mothers lap. Lorelai started to gently brush her daughters hair in an attempt to slowly relax her.
"Well, Tristans been really nice lately. Dont get me wrong, hes still arrogant, and slightly conceited, thats built in. But hes also been trying to be better. We even eat lunch together sometimes "
"So how did he progress from having lunch with you to planting a hickey on you?"
"Weve been getting closer as fall has passed."
"Oh working on your law case together right?"
"Yeah we see a lot of each other at Mr. Dugreys, and we get along really well. Then today, he just decided to kiss me while we were riding Peony, and everything went downhill from there!" Rory vehemently uttered the last few words.
There was a slight pause. "Whats Peony?"
"You dont want to know Mom."
"I knew it! I knew it! I knew I smelled horse on you when you came home today. And I saw how you rushed for the shower. Dont you know those things are dangerous! With their yellow teeth and frightening mouths and ability to run you over in a single bound." Lorelai shuddered. "Did I mention the teeth?"
"How can you like hippos and not like horses?" Rory asked.
"Because hippos are cute. They have pokey little eyes and fat little bodies and they look like they could be moms of the hippo world. Horses look possessed and mean."
"Well Peony was very gentle and not a problem whatsoever until she decided to stop too fast."
"See! She made an attempt to harm you. Next time, remember, gnashing teeth." Lorelai grimaced and made several faces.
"You look like a chipmunk."
"Back to the hickey story."
"Well, when the horse stopped Tristan fell forward and his lips brushed my shoulder." Rory felt a twinge of pleasure roll through her stomach as she thought back to the incident. She then mentally berated herself for the twinge and tried not to think about it.
"Unless he has vacuum lips of power that still doesnt explain the hickey."
"I froze, he froze. And then he did it again. Deliberately. And I let him." Rory paused, then said, "But Dean. Theres a Dean!"
Lorelai frowned. "You have a point there. We cant get too excited about the Tristan when theres a Dean." Her face turned serious. "Rory, what do you feel? I know its hard to identify your true feelings in all the stuff thats going on in there right now, but you wont be able to like yourself if you cant face either boy."
Rory dug her face into the pillow. "I just dont know what to do Mom. I already have a Dean, and I dont know if I want a Tristan."
"Rory, get up." Lorelai helped Rory return to a sitting position and turned her to face her. "If you want Tristan you have to be willing to take a risk. And if you want Dean, you unfortunately will have to let one boy down. Honey, you are a wonderful girl, and you want everyone to win in situations like these, but sometimes people get hurt. But sometimes thats necessary. I dont see how youre going to avoid one of those scenarios here. Unless of course you want to lead both men on, but somehow I dont think thats your style." Lorelai reached over and tucked an errant piece of hair behind Rorys ear. "Take a risk honey. I only want you to be happy."
Rory looked off into space, trying to sort through her feelings of confusion, guilt and fear. "I cant believe this is happening to me. When did I turn into such a mush?"
"Right about the time you turned fourteen I believe. I think that was when you discovered that boys were not objects of ickiness and torture, but more like objects of drool and torture. You noticed that torture part didnt change right?"
"How can you joke at a time like this?" Rory fell back onto the bed in dismay.
"Because I think you know what you want, but youre afraid to do it." Lorelai reached over and touched the red mark on Rorys shoulder. "Did you swoon?"
"Well then Princess Leia, I think its time you told Han Solo that you care."
"That doesnt happen until the second movie. And I dont want Tristan to be locked in cryogenic fluid."
"Im sure Tristan wont face the same torturous fate as Han Solo."
"But Han doesnt tell Leia that he loves her until the third movie. What if Im too late?"
Lorelai blinked. "I think I just ODed on Star Wars."
"You cant OD on Star Wars. Youre only watched it one million times."
"I thought we were never again going to discuss my crush on Luke Skywalker." Lorelai blinked. "Im sorry, where were we? I got lost in the Ewok Village."
"Leia trying out Han Solo."
"Ah, thats right. You wont know until you try honey."
"I swooned." Rory suddenly tried to blink away tears. "Im breaking up with Dean mom." Her face dissolved into tears as she clutched at her mother.
"I know honey. Im so sorry." Lorelai wrapped her arms around Rory and hugged her fiercely. She held Rory until Rory couldnt cry anymore.
Tristan didnt see Rory until the weekend was over, when they were both at school on Monday. He didnt know if he wanted to see Rory yet. He didnt feel ready. He didnt know how to act, he didnt know what to do.
So, in his fear, he did the one thing he shouldnt have. Ignored it completely.
"Hey Rory." Tristan walked up behind her and leaned against the locker next to hers. "Learn anything exciting and new from the ten books you read this weekend?"
"I didnt read anything this weekend." Rory closed the locker door and turned to face Tristan.
"What? How is that possible?" Tristan finally registered her face. "Hey, are you okay? You look tired." A frown crossed his face as he took in the tiredness around Rorys eyes and the not quite upright position in which she carried herself today.
"I just had a bad weekend. Can we start walking to class? I dont want to be late."
"Sure." A taut silence followed his remark as they started to walk towards their respective classes. "Anything I can do to help?"
Rory stopped and considered for a few moments. "Tristan "
Tristan panicked. "Look Rory, lets not talk about it okay? I just want to get on with our friendship. Its a good one, I dont want to jeopardize that. Ill see you at lunch today right?"
"Umm right." Rory watched Tristan stride away, feeling bereft. What had just happened? Had he changed his mind? She tried valiantly not to feel betrayed.
She already felt lonely.
Over the next two months Rory and Tristan didnt talk about the kiss, and slowly went back to what their relationship had been right before the incident. Although there was a slight level of strain that was palpable to the trained observer (mainly Lorelai and Janlan), the two decided to ignore it. And being as both teenagers were quite stubborn, they managed.
Tristan didnt know Rory had broken up with Dean until three weeks after their conversation, when the Chilton rumor mill finally got wind of it. Shocked, he hadnt mentioned anything to Rory.
A flicker of hope sprang up in him on that day. But he was too scared of yet another rejection to try something.
Until a fateful day near Christmas in December
"Look at the two of them." Rory said in disgust.
"They are disgusting arent they?" Tristan replied.
"Why do they keep looking over at us?"
"I dont know, but whatever it is, it cant be good."
Rory and Tristan were watching Lorelai and Janlan converse in a corner of the large living room. There was a low hum of conversations reverberating around the room from the people gathered for Janlans annual Christmas party. Rory and Tristan were huddled together as two of the very few young people in the entire room.
"Does it surprise you that they hit it off?" Tristan asked Rory.
"No, it just surprises me that they are already plotting something. It should have at least taken two hours. Im clocking them right now at 37 minutes."
Lorelai looked at Rory and Tristan conversing in the opposite corner of the room.
"What do you think theyre talking about?" She asked Janlan.
"Why do you think that?"
"Because theyre looking at us the same way were looking at them."
"Youd think they would have gotten a clue by now."
"Theyre both scared. My grandson from additional rejection, and your daughter from believing that my grandson has changed his mind."
"Youre a regular psychic, you know that?"
"When youre seventy you have to find something to fill the empty days of retirement."
"Rory loved the project."
"I loved having Rory on the project."
"Its wonderful what you do."
"Careful. You dont want to inflate any more of the Dugrey ego."
Lorelai snorted. "I thought it couldnt be inflated any further. Your familys ego is like fake boobs, theres only so far you can go before you get top heavy."
Janlan looked at Lorelai and laughed. "Ill have to remember to tell that to my son. Its not often our name gets attached to chest enhancement."
"So, how are we going to get them to talk? Princess Leia cant go without Han Solo." Lorelai leaned closer to Janlan.
Janlan looked quizzically at Lorelai.
"Long story involving crying, weeping, and cryogenic chambers. You dont want to go there." Lorelai crossed her arms over her chest. "No, really, how should we do it?"
"You dont want them to work this out on their own?"
"Do you want them to get together in the next millennium?"
"You have a point."
"Im always right."
"Maybe we should talk about the Gilmore ego."
"Were modest people, theres no need for discussion."
"Mmm-hmm." Janlan thoughtfully cast a glance in Tristans direction. "The backyard is looking quite lovely tonight. Do you think if we got them out there things would happen?"
"Is it beyond romantic out there?"
"It is indeed. Christmas lights, candles and a slight breeze."
"Ill work on Rory, you work on Tristan."
"Deal. Say, fifteen minutes."
Janlan simply walked away.
"Hmm a man of no goodbyes. I like that."
"Ror-ry." Lorelai cornered Rory at the drink table where she was picking up another bottled water.
"I want to see the horse."
Rory looked disbelievingly at her mother. "Right now?"
"Youre deathly afraid of them."
"Well, well, my horsey courage is feeling good right now, and if I dont do it right this minute, the horsey courage will vanish, and then where will I be?? I mean, you dont want me to be horrified when you choose a carriage ride as your wedding vehicle of choice, and then I wont be able to ride in it, right?" Lorelai looked pleadingly at her daughter.
Rory rolled her eyes. "All right, let me go get my cloak."
"That is a very lovely cloak isnt it?"
"I know, I need to send Mr. Dugrey a thank you card for it. I wasnt expecting a Christmas gift at all."
"I need to talk to you outside for a bit."
"Couldnt we talk upstairs?"
"I want to talk outside."
Tristan looked quizzically at his grandfather. "O kay "
The two couples met outside, greeting one another as they ran into one another on the way out.
"Well, look whos here. Mr. Dugrey." Lorelai rocked back on her heels.
"Why Ms. Gilmore, its good to see you again."
"You just spoke to her five minutes ago." Tristan raised his eyebrows at his grandfather.
"Its always polite to greet someone, I thought I taught you that." Janlan looked chidingly at his grandson.
"Mr. Dugrey, I have a law question for you. Yes, thats it, a question about law." Lorelai leaned towards the door back of the house.
"Oh, well, Im always at your service."
"You guys are pathetic." Rory just shook her head in disgust.
"Tell me about it." Tristan crossed his arms.
"What?" Janlan and Lorelai simultaneously asked, then dissolved into slightly nervous laughter.
"I think were going inside, right?" Lorelai pointed towards the door.
"We may as well." Janlan took Lorelais arm and started back towards the manor. "I dont ever want you lying on my behalf. Youre horrible at it."
"You lied when you said you liked the ham rolls."
"But I did like the rolls."
"They were very hammy. Hamlike. Essence of ham."
Tristan and Rory watched the two of them go, turning towards one another when their family members finally disappeared into the house.
"They really are transparent, arent they?" Rory started to walk deeper into the gardens.
As she turned around, she gasped. The back yard was beautiful. Absolutely beautiful. Standing wrought iron candle holders in all shades had been placed down the main path, casting flickering lights on the rocks. Shadowy hues of red, green, purple and blue danced on the ground. The candles were scented with jasmine, floating a light fragrance into the night air. The trees were strung with traditional Christmas lights, causing the edges of the garden to glow slightly. And a slight breeze caused the trees and hedges to stir and whisper. The backyard looked like it was transplanted from a castle in Europe. It looked like something out of the books that Rory loved to read.
"Its beautiful isnt it?" Tristan quietly walked up to Rorys side.
"Lets walk down the path so you can enjoy it."
Rory fell into step with Tristan as he started to walk.
After a few moments of silence Tristan saw Rory look up at him from the corner of his eye, then heard her mumble something to the effect of: "No cryogenic chambers here."
"Here, lets sit here for a bit." Tristan led Rory to a stone bench on the pathway, waiting for her to sit down, then sitting himself.
Maybe it was the atmosphere. Maybe it was the bench. Maybe it was the lights flickering against the night and the smell of jasmine in the air. Whatever it was, Rory ventured forth.
"Do you care?"
Tristan looked at Rory suddenly, fearing that he had been caught. That she had figured out that he still had feelings for her. Speechless, he didnt say anything.
"I thought so." Rory vaulted off of the bench and strode down the path.
Tristan watched the woman of his dreams get up and start to walk away.
She stopped several steps down the path.
"Of course I care."
She turned around.
"Stop being so cryptic."
"You were cryptic first."
"And Im not?"
"No, because I asked you first."
"Who went and made you Queen Mother?"
Rory just cocked her head and looked at him.
He looked back. Tristan almost closed his eyes at the picture Rory presented. A gustier breeze whipped around her, flapping the ends of her cloak and flinging back her hood. Her hair blew in the breeze, and one of her barrettes snapped open, causing her air to tangle even more in the wind. One of her hands flew up to her hair to try uselessly to keep it in place. She was like a figure out of a fantasy movie, elegantly beautiful, surrounded by candlelight and the light from the moon.
"Rory " Tristan groaned. "How could you ever think that I dont care?" He started to take deliberate steps forward. "Have you seen the way I look at you? Have you felt it when Ive lightly touched you? Dont you remember our kiss here in the garden?" Step. Step.
"But do you still care? That was one and a half months ago. At school you told me you didnt want to talk about it. What was I supposed to think?"
"That Im an idiot. An absolute idiot that cannot believe what youre trying to tell me in your own special way." Tristans heart started to speed up. Step. Step.
"And whats that?" Rory breathlessly looked up at Tristan as he finally came to a halt directly in front of her.
"This." Tristan suddenly reached out and grabbed her arms, pulling her forward. She stumbled and fell into him, placing her arms on his chest to stop her fall. Her cloak opened with her fall then closed again around them both when she came to a rest against Tristans chest. He let go of her arms and thrust his hands into her loose hair, pulling her head back in the process.
"You cant just tell me Rory?" He leaned his face even closer to hers. She licked her lips, and her gaze dropped to his lips. She leaned slightly forward, but was prevented from going further by his hands in her hair.
"Tell you what?" She finally uttered.
"What do you want?" Tristan needed to hear it.
"What do I want?"
"Mmmhmm. What do you want?"
"I cant form coherent sentences right now." Rory looked dazedly into Tristans eyes.
"You just did." Tristan suddenly smiled, teeth white against the night. "I love this affect Im having on you. Its very gratifying."
"I " She trailed off.
"Yes? No cookie until you give me my answer. What do you want?" He looked into her eyes, and suddenly realized she was going to say it. He felt his senses sharpen as her mouth formed the word that made his heart go haywire.
His lips descended on hers, locking with hers. Their first kiss was long, deep and breathless. No bodies frantically moving, no groping. Just two people trying as hard as possible to communicate to the other person how much they moved them. After the first, they indulged in a second, and after the second, a third. Then their kisses gentled, and they slowly drew apart. Rory wrapped her arms around Tristan, fully surrounding them with her long cloak, and keeping them bathed in their warmth.
"I was hoping you would say that." Tristan ran a finger along Rorys jawline.
"What would have happened if I had said a partridge in a pear tree?"
"I would have got you one."
Tristan wrapped his arms around Rory. "I want to try and make you happy."
"Well, you cant do that."
"What?" Tristan stiffened and leaned back slightly.
Rory laughed. "You moron. Its because youve already made me happy."
"Oh. Well then." Tristan adopted a cocky stance. "My work here is done."
"I sure hope not. Youd leave behind a very devastated Princess Leia."
Tristans brow furrowed. "Whats with this Star Wars obsession?"
"Long story involving crying, weeping, and cryogenic chambers. You dont want to know."
"I think youve got that right."
Tristan leaned down and kissed Rory gently. They drew slowly away from one another, hating to stop something so wonderful and new.
"I think I just got the best Christmas present ever." Tristan looked down at Rory. He couldnt believe this was happening. But here he was, and here she was. This was something not to screw up, and he was going to try his hardest to keep it right.