disclaimer in part 1
When Snow Falls
_ _ _
Roryís lips lingered on Tristanís for only an instant, but in that instant she felt something that had begun burning in her stomach, work its way up into her chest to seize a tightly clenched fist on her emotions. As a current of electricity traveled from her lips all the way down to her toes, she had a feeling that the fist belonged to Tristan. Rory quickly took a step backwards, ramming the back of her leg into the coffee table. Stumbling, she made her way over to the couch and buried her face into a pillow. She failed to see the slow, satisfied smile that spread over Tristanís lips. When Rory pulled back from the soft, comforting cotton of the pillow, she finally allowed her eyes to flit over in his direction. The knowing smile was, of course, gone, and he appeared to be sleeping peacefully. She sighed with relief, knowing that Tristan had not been awake to witness her temporary moment of... Moment of what? Rory had never known that it was possible to feel as many emotions as she was right then. By the way her stomach was still churning fitfully, everything was far from being temporary.
She stood up from the couch, but not before shoving her fist into the pillow, leaving a slight dent in its center. How dare he sleep when she was going through all this inner turmoil? She glared at him, knowing that if he were awake he would surely have a witty remark to match each one of hers. He would also have something to say about you kissing him. Rory grabbed her blanket, wrapping it tightly around her, even though she knew that she would probably be plenty warm enough without one. She picked up the flashlight from the table and carried it over to one of the windows, sitting herself down on the carpet. She had to tame the thoughts chaotically whirling through her mind, and she couldnít do it when faced with the very person who had a habit of turning her world upside down.
Rory clicked on the flashlight, aiming it into the inky blackness of the night. All she was able to see was the light reflected back at her through the glass. She turned it off, finally gazing blankly into the gaping black hole of darkness. In the midst of the havoc in her mind, one thing stood out as clearly as the sun on a spring day. Something had definitely changed tonight. There had always been some kind of a connection flowing between herself and Tristan, and when he had opened up to her about his grandmother, things had begun to fall into place. He had trusted her enough to let her into one of the most valuable places of his heart, and that meant more to Rory than she would have ever thought possible. It had made her ache to see him in such pain, and she knew now that she never wanted anything to hurt him again. The next realization hit her like a bolt of lightening. I care about Tristan. The feeling was familiar, like it had always been there, but to actually think the words was almost surreal. This was immediately followed by a wave of pleasure that traveled down Roryís spine. She remembered how she had always had a hard time keeping a small smile off her face whenever she was around him, even when she had first started classes at Chilton.
Rory felt a twisting sensation in her gut, and at that moment knew she was also scared. Scared of not knowing. She had always been one who liked to have things planned out, hence the continuous list making. No list would work for this situation. A twinge of uncertainty spread through her chest when she realized that she had no way of knowing how Tristan felt. The name that had hung between them earlier that night, unwillingly rose again to the surface. Summer. For all she knew, he still liked her. Yet, Rory was the one who had brought up the girlís name, not Tristan. In fact, Tristan had not spoken of Summer...period. What did everything mean? Rory dropped her head in her hands, feeling like she would never have the answer to that question. Tristan was like an enigma, making her experience every possible thing at once; confusion being mainly prevalent. As Roryís heavy eyelids surrendered to sleep, she couldnít help but be slightly aware of the fact that she needed him.
The pale early morning light fell on Tristanís silent form as he stood over Rory, watching her sleep. She was laying, curled up in the fetal position, on the carpet beneath the window. He had been standing there long enough to know that the snow had long ago ceased to fall and to hear the roar of the snow plows as they cleared the roads. Tristan was in no hurry to get in his car and leave though, because everything he could ever hope for or want was right in front of his eyes.
Gently, Tristan shook Roryís shoulder so he would once again be treated to seeing those beautiful blue orbs tucked away behind her closed eyelids. She stirred, murmuring something that sounded vaguely like his name. He leaned closer, hoping she would say it again, but that was when her eyes flew open. Rory stood up sluggishly, disoriented. Her insides melted when he flashed her that trademark grin. "Morning, sleepy head. How did you end up on the floor, anyway?"
Rory rubbed the sleep from her eyes, thinking frantically of something to say. The events of the night before flooded over her, finally registering in her fatigued mind. "I couldnít sleep...so I...I..."
"So you thought you would sleep on the hard, cold floor?"
Tristan fought the urge to tell her he knew exactly why she couldnít sleep. When he had felt her soft, willing lips on his last night, it was all he could do to prevent himself from taking her into his arms and kissing her back. However, he knew that this was something Rory had to work through on her own. So, he had pretended to be asleep. Patience was a virtue, and he had to heed that old adage, no matter how difficult it would be. "It stopped snowing."
Rory simply nodded her head, apparently lost in a complicated maze of thoughts.
"The plows cleared the road."
"I could probably make it home now." Tristan took a few steps back from her, having no intentions of going home quite yet.
"How do you know when youíve found the right person for you?" Rory cursed herself silently, when she realized that she had asked the question that had been plaguing her all night out loud. Her stomach felt like it was full of rocks as she waited nervously for his reaction.
Tristanís eyes widened at her sudden inquiry, and he had to remind himself to take things slow. The kiss had obviously gotten the wheels clicking and whirring in her mind. Everything was in Roryís hands now, but that didnít mean he couldnít give her a few little pushes along the way. "Well, when you kiss that person, youíll know."
"What?" Rory turned to face him, startled. The kiss. He canít know I kissed him, can he? She searched his eyes for something, anything to clue her into what he was thinking.
Tristan shrugged nonchalantly. "I remember when my grandmother told me how she knew my grandfather was the one. She said that when he kissed her, her hands tingled."
"Oh. Have you felt that way before?" Way to be obvious, Rory.
"Yeah, I have."
"I...I guess youíve had that feeling with a lot of girls, right?"
"Just once." Tristan stepped closer to Rory and reveled in the fact that she didnít even attempt to move away. He languidly trailed his finger across her cheek and down her throat, to rest at her collarbone. He could feel her trembling beneath his touch. "Does someone make your hands tingle, Rory?"
Yes. You. Rory wanted to tell him so badly, but her mouth couldnít manage to form the words. Tristan seemed to have the ability to render her speechless. His piercing eyes explored hers intently, making her weak. "Tristan...," she managed to croak.
The opening and closing of the door, once again, caused Rory to jerk away from him. "Rory?" Lorelaiís voice called out from the hall.
"A Do Not Disturb sign would be a good addition to your front door," Tristan joked halfheartedly.
"Itís my mom." Pushing everything else aside, Rory jogged to the hallway and flung her arms around Lorelai. Pulling back, Rory took a closer look at her motherís haggard appearance. "Bad night, huh?"
Lorelai ran a hand through her hair, trying to smooth out the tangles. "You try spending the night with Sookie, Michel, and the soap suds monster. All in the same room, I might add. Iím more concerned about you though, Rory. You look all flushed. You could give Jacksonís prize tomatoes a run for their money in the color department."
"Iím okay. Tristan was with me the whole time." Rory gestured to where he stood a few feet behind them.
Lorelai eyed Tristan. "I hope he was a perfect gentleman."
Tristan met her gaze, unfazed. "Iím afraid so."
"Darn. I mean, not darn because you were a good boy, but darn because I was having fun imagining you stuffed and hanging on my wall. With little deer antlers and glassy eyes." Lorelai crooked her fingers on each side of her head to symbolize antlers.
"Well, Roryís an incredible girl, so Iím sure youíll have enough guys around here to keep the taxidermist in business." But not if I have anything to do with it. Tristan blinked in surprise when Lorelai wrapped him up into a hug.
"Thank you for taking care of her," Lorelai said in a hushed voice before releasing him.
"No problem. It was a pleasure, believe me." Tristan threw one last glance at Rory, where she was standing, wringing her hands in front of her. "I should probably be heading home." He wished that Rory would say something to stop him, but when she remained silent, he reluctantly turned to leave.
Her small, timid plea made his heart skip a beat. "Yeah?"
"You never told me what your favorite season is. You know...when we were talking about it last night. I told you mine, but you never said yours."
Thinking back on their conversation from the night before, Tristan almost laughed at the perfect opportunity she had just given him. Here was the chance to make her see exactly what and who he wanted. Rory had opened the door, and he intended to stroll right through it. She watched as he walked stealthily towards her, his gaze never wavering from hers.
"Well, you see Rory...Iíve never liked summer that much." Tristan leaned forward to whisper in her ear. "But to me, spring...spring is irresistible." He moved away from her slowly, letting his lips graze her cheek.
Rory stood there, caught under his smoldering stare, which made his eyes seem like burning blue coals of sizzling fire. It was enough to have her knees shaking like Jell-O.
Tristan casually lifted a hand in farewell. "See you in class, Rory."
Lorelaiís eyes moved back and forth between Tristanís retreating back and her daughterís dazed expression. Having heard Tristanís words, Lorelaiís brow furrowed in confusion. "Okay. First we had Narcolepsy Boy. Now we have Confusing Boy Who Talks in Code. Where is the factory that is producing these male specimens, because I think they need to be inspected." When Rory didnít respond, Lorelai looked over at her, noticing that her daughterís eyes had never strayed from Tristanís figure as he walked down the path and got in his car. She was still watching as the black glimmer of the Porsche disappeared down the road. "Rory do you know what he was talking about?"
Lorelai paused for a moment. "No answer from the peanut gallery. Donít make me find him and throw myself in front of his car until he tells me. Come on, Rory. You know, donít you?" she whined.
Roryís eyebrows raised as her mind furtively sorted through Tristanís words from last night.
"Whatís your favorite season, Rory?" Tristan asked.
"Oh, definitely spring," she answered without hesitation. "Itís such a beautiful time of the year. Everythingís new - the flowers, butterflies, baby birds learning how to fly. Thereís always something wonderful to discover."
"You know, that choice fits you, since I seem to learn something new about you every day. From now on when I think of spring, Iíll just have to associate it with you," Tristan said, his voice tinged with laughter.
A smile of complete understanding spread across Roryís face, making her eyes sparkle. The answer she had been searching for was finally in her grasp. "Yes, I do." The statement was simple, but it brought all of the emotions that had been swelling within her to a roaring crescendo. Tristanís warm, deep voice still echoed around her as if it were a reminder that everything was, indeed, real.
"Mom, remember how you told me amazing things always happen to you when snow falls?"
A dreamy expression overtook Lorelaiís features. "Yeah. My first kiss, your first steps..."
"I think it runs in the family."
Rory dodged the students in the crowded Chilton hallway as she headed towards her locker. She gripped the straps of her book bag tightly in her hands as her eyes searched for the familiar figure she had come to know so well. He was nowhere to be found in the sea of students anxious to get home on that Monday afternoon. She and Tristan had barely had time to even utter a greeting to each other, for their teachers had kept the classes busy with a colossal amount of work. Rory had tried to approach Tristan after Mr. Medinaís class, but several of his friends had quickly surrounded him, making it difficult.
When Rory reached her locker, she jerked the metal handle up and down, struggling with the obstinate door. The thing always jammed at the most inopportune times. Finally, it slammed open, clanging with the locker beside of hers. A folded up piece of notebook paper fell out of the open space, landing at her saddle shoe-clad feet. Rory picked up the paper, smoothing out the creases with her hand. The scrawled words sent her pulse throbbing in her temples.
Rory, meet me in the center of the courtyard at 3:00. Tristan
Rory took a deep breath, feeling the crimson creep up her neck and into her cheeks. Checking her watch, she realized that she only had a few minutes before she was supposed to meet Tristan. She grabbed the books she would need to take home for the night, almost dropping the heaviest one on her toe in her fumbling nervousness. She hurried down the hall and pushed open the door to the courtyard, which was completely deserted that time of day. The crisp air immediately hit her in the face, making her eyes water. She stepped carefully over the cobblestone path that had been cleared of snow that morning. The temperature had warmed up just enough to send little puddles of crystal clear water spreading out from under the massive piles of snow. Rory kept walking straight, heading toward the tall hedges that signified the center of the courtyard and the opulent fountain hidden there. She stepped around the hedges, eyes resting on the hand carved sculpture. No water flowed from the fountain now, but in the spring and fall, liquid cascaded from the top, shimmering like brand new pearls. The sun penetrated the oppressive clouds, bathing the courtyard in light and landing on the lone figure who stood with his arm braced on the top tier of the marble fountain.
Tristan was facing away from her so Rory was able to drink in his features unseen. The rays of sun almost made him seem to glow with an unearthly light. He was still wearing his Chilton blazer to protect against the chill, but his tie was undone to loop loosely around his neck. He was staring into the base of the fountain, deep in thought, and Rory shivered at the possibility that he could be thinking about her. She walked towards Tristan, stopping in front of him.
He turned to look at her, a playful smirk on his face. "Canít stay away from me, can you?"
"I know," Rory blurted out. "I mean, I know what you were talking about yesterday when you left my house."
Tristan took a step closer to her, his gaze locked on hers. "That was my intention."
Rory swallowed, knowing she had to get the words out no matter how much they refused to come. "I just thought you always liked Summer. A part of me knew that there was a connection between us, but I didnít want to acknowledge it. I was afraid."
"You donít have to be afraid anymore, Rory." Tristan idly ran his finger down her arm.
Rory rubbed her forehead with one hand, unconsciously leaning back against the fountain. "You must think Iím so foolish. It took me so long to figure everything out..."
"Trust me, youíre worth the wait. But we do have a small problem, Rory."
Tristan placed his hands on the fountain on either side of her head, blocking her in. "That kiss you gave me the other night still left my appetite insatiable."
Roryís mouth dropped open. "You were awake?"
Tristan chuckled in amusement at her incredulous expression. "Yeah, I was."
"Why didnít you tell me?"
"You had to sort things out on your own. Besides it worked, didnít it?"
Her quiet admission had his heart soaring. "We still have to do something about my problem though, Rory." He bent over her, his lips hovering millimeters from hers, teasing her. He pulled away before they could touch, his eyes twinkling. "And now that I have you right where I want you..."
Rory stared up at him, seeing the mischief in his eyes and knowing that she could play that game too. "Two words, Tristan. Miss Patty."
He groaned lightly, removing his hands from the fountain. He laughed when he saw her gloating expression. "Youíre going to hold that over my head from now on, arenít you?"
"Yes, I am."
"Youíre something else, Rory Gilmore."
"Youíll get used to it," she quipped.
"I plan to."
Impulsively, Rory threw her arms around Tristanís neck and buried her head in his shoulder, breathing in the fresh, clean scent of the soap he had used. A slight whiff of his faint cologne made her head swirl.
"Look at me, Rory." The huskiness in his voice had her eyes meeting his. "I canít kiss you if your head is stuck in my shoulder." Tristan cupped her face in his hands, his thumbs caressing her cheeks. He leaned towards her, letting his lips brush hers for a second before pulling back slightly. He searched her expressive blue eyes. "Is this okay?" Roryís nod was all the encouragement he needed. His lips met hers once again, this time initiating a lingering kiss. Tristan didnít rush anything, for he knew they had all the time in the world. A few moments later, he pulled away, grinning when he saw that her eyes were still closed. He took her hands in his, bringing his lips to her smooth skin. Her eyes opened, and she gazed in wonder at him.
"Rory, I donít know where this road will lead us, but I do know that I will never hurt you."
Rory smiled at him tenderly. "Good, because now that Iíve found you, I donít intend to let you go." She wrapped her arms around Tristanís slim waist, resting her forehead against his. In that moment, both knew that there was nowhere else they would rather be than with each other.