DISCLAIMER: I do not own and am not affiliated with Gilmore Girls, the cast of Gilmore Girls, or the WB in any way. No (c) infringement is intended.
SUMMARY: A shooting at Chilton leads to changes for everyone.
PAIRING: Tristan/Rory, Luke/Lorelai
NOTES: My second Gilmore Girls fic, though the first I've released to the public. Please note that I have no knowledge of anything remotely medical besides that which I've learned from television. Comments would be most appreciated. Also, this was totally unbeta'd. Meaning it could have been better, but I didn't take the time to search out a beta (my usual one doesn't watch Gilmore Girls) and discuss and rewrite. This is all the first-and-only draft.
TIME FRAME: This takes place sometime after "Double Date." Luke's already almost asked Lorelai out, but it hasn't truly happened yet.
Written: January 20, 2001
To Be Alive
by Jill Dannay
The warm, sticky liquid on her fingers woke her up more than the weight on her legs. Dazed by the pounding in her head, it took several moments for Rory to realize what the sticky liquid was--blood. The weight on her legs took her more time to figure out, but eventually she remembered that Tristan had been in the room with her when--
Rory screamed as the memories rushed back at her--the loud sounds down the hall from the library, where she and Tristan had been arguing. The realization that the sounds were those of gunshots. Both of them looking for somewhere to hide as the door burst open and a gun was pointed at them.
The pain as she hit her head on the ground when Tristan tackled her. His moan of agony as he slipped into unconsciousness. The way the room spun and blurred when she tried to lift her head. The terror that filled her as she felt the blood pool beneath them from Tristan's wound as she followed him into blackness.
Terror from her realization that Tristan was going to die for her.
two hours earlier
"...There will be two parts to this project. For the first, you must research and write a paper on one Utopian society. This should be a lengthy, in-depth report on all aspects of the society. For the second part, you must plan a Utopian society of your own. This I leave to your sense of creativity."
Rory leaned forward as she listened to her history teacher outline the project, excitement welling up inside her. This was the type of thing she excelled at.
"You will each be paired with a partner for this assignment. I suggest you get together with your partner and begin your planning as soon as possible."
Rory closed her eyes, some of her excitement fading. Please not Tristan or Paris, please not Tristan or Paris...
"...Mister Dugray and Miss Gilmore..."
Rory wasn't surprised when Tristan cornered her after class, his trademark smirk crossing his lips. "So, Mary--"
"--It looks like we'll be working together."
"Not much, hopefully," Rory muttered under her breath. Tristan ignored her, if he heard the words at all.
"What's your free block?" he asked her.
"Third," Rory answered reluctantly. Tristan smirked again.
"That's mine, too. I'll meet you in the library, Mary." Without waiting for her answer he turned and walked away.
"It's Rory!" Rory called after him.
Fifty minutes later Rory stepped into Chilton's library. As little as she was looking forward to the prospect of working with Tristan, she did love the library, and since Tristan hadn't yet arrived she took a few moments to wander around.
She felt Tristan's breath on her neck and whirled, pinning him with a cold stare even before he opened his mouth. To her surprise, Tristan didn't make a rude comment, instead dropping his things next to a table and pulling out his notebook and a pen. Rory sat down across from him and waited for him to speak. "I thought we could do the Shakers," she suggested when he didn't.
Tristan nodded. "That's fine," he agreed. Rory tensed, her mind immediately flicking to a list of reasons Tristan could have for not being totally obnoxious to her. Tristan didn't seem to notice the odd look she shot him. "The report will be easy," he said. "We can do most of that individually and then compare notes. I thought we could get started on some of the things for our utopia. Location, government, defenses, stuff like that."
Rory blinked. This was not the Tristan she knew. Not willing to question him and have him become obnoxious again, however, she just nodded and pulled out her own notebook.
"What kind of an idea is that?"
"Not everyone is going to be perfect, Mary. Someone, at some time, is going to break a rule. We need a prison."
"Prison in Utopia?" Rory answered in disbelief, ignoring the "Mary" for the moment.
"Well, what are we going to do, drown the lawbreakers? Murder would be so much better, after all," Tristan snapped back.
"Why don't we just send them away?"
"I don't know. Another island! Who cares, as long as they don't come back?"
"You want to exile them now?"
"I don't want them contaminating the rest of my people!" Rory exploded.
"Our people!" Tristan shouted back.
Both of them froze as they heard sharp, loud sounds from down the hall. "What was that?" Rory demanded quietly.
"I don't know," Tristan answered. He moved towards the door but stopped when they heard the sounds again.
"Oh my god," Rory breathed as they heard faint screaming as the gunshots cracked through the air. "Oh my god."
"Quick, find somewhere to hide," Tristan ordered, his eyes already darting around the library. The librarian had gone to the headmaster's office almost fifteen minutes before so they couldn't ask her what to do. Rory spun around, desperately searching for somewhere they could escape to. She saw rows and rows of bookshelves, but nowhere safe from someone with a gun.
"Oh my god," she repeated again as the library door opened and she found herself staring down a gun in the hand of a boy she didn't recognize.
I'm going to die, Rory thought wildly. He's going to shoot me and I'm going to die.
She watched with an eerie sense of calm as the boy's hand tightened around the gun, his finger pressing in on the trigger, then gasped as she was hit by the weight of Tristan's body as he tackled her to the ground. A sharp pain exploded in her head in tandem with the sharp bang of the gunshot. She vaguely heard Tristan cry out and felt something warm soak through her shirt. She heard a moan above her and realized that Tristan had been shot as the library faded to nothing.
"Coffee?" Luke asked, already reaching for the pot.
"You have to ask?" Lorelai asked in answer. She took a deep breath, inhaling the coffee scent. "Mmmm."
"You're sick," Luke told her.
"I know," she answered. "Turn on the radio, I want to hear some music."
"It'll bother the customers."
"I'm the only one here," Lorelai answered, reaching over and grabbing the small radio. She flicked it on and winced at the static. Quickly she tuned it to her favorite station and grinned as she was rewarded with instant music. Luke ha-rumphed lightly but didn't move to stop her, instead cleaning the rest of the counter as Lorelai drank her coffee and hummed to the song.
They both started when the music was cut off. "This is a special announcement," the voice over the radio told them. "About twenty minutes ago, gunshots were fired at Chilton Preporatory Academy." Lorelai gasped. Luke touched her arm to steady her. The voice on the radio continued neutrally. "The shooters have been taken into custody and students are being evacuated as I speak. As of now no details on the identity of the shooters or their reasons for the shooting are available, nor is a list of any injuries. Chilton's administration asks that parents remain calm. Do not, under any circumstances, try to go to Chilton to pick up your child. You will be called if that is necessary...."
"Oh my god."
Luke flipped the "open" sign over to "closed," then helped Lorelai to a booth and sat down next to her. "Do you have your cell phone?" he asked her gently. She nodded, repeating the "oh my god" mantra under her breath. Luke hesitated for a moment, then slipped his arms around her. She melted against him, trembling.
"Nobody's calling," Lorelai whispered a while later. "That's good, right? If they don't need me to pick her up, she's fine. She's okay."
Lorelai's cell phone rang, loud in the quiet of Luke's.
"She's alive," Lorelai said as she sat in the passenger seat of Luke's truck. "She's alive."
"She's tough," Luke said. "And stubborn. She'll be okay."
"Okay," Lorelai managed. She was still trembling when she ran into the hospital and demanded to see her daughter. The nurse tried to calm her down without success, finally agreeing to bring Lorelai in to see Rory.
The second Lorelai saw Rory she burst into tears. There was a bandage on Rory's forehead, but she was breathing and conscious. "Mom?" Rory asked, her own eyes filling with tears. "Mom, where's Tristan? Is he okay?"
"Tristan?" Lorelai demanded, near hysterics. "Tristan?! You've got a concussion, you could have died, and you're asking me about--"
"He took the bullet for me."
When she was released Rory refused to go home. Lorelai finally agreed to stay at the hospital with her, on the condition that Rory rest as much as possible until they received news on Tristan's condition. Luke decided to stay to help however he could. This meant keeping Lorelai as calm as possible and letting Rory use him as a pillow. Not that he minded.
He and Rory watched as Lorelai dealt with Emily and Richard when they burst in and demanded to see their granddaughter. Lorelai assured them that Rory would be fine but was resting now. She promised to bring Rory by as soon as she felt up to it and managed to get her parents out of the hospital in record time. Luke marvelled at the change in her. As soon as she had found out that Rory would be fine she had gone back to being capable and relatively sane.
When Dean arrived, Rory had Lorelai tell him she would call him as soon as she felt more like herself. Dean, though unhappy, finally agreed to wait for her call. Lorelai and Luke, though surprised Rory didn't want to see Dean, didn't comment on it.
When Tristan's parents arrived, Rory ignored her mother's orders to rest and got up to speak with them. Lorelai sat down next to Luke to give her daughter and the Dugrays some semblance of privacy. "Wonder what they're talking about," Luke said a few minutes later. Lorelai nodded her agreement then rested her head on his shoulder.
"Mr. and Mrs. Dugray?" Rory asked shyly. They stared at her for a moment. Neither spoke, so Rory continued hesitantly. "My name is Rory Gilmore. Is there... is there any news on Tristan?"
"Rory," Tristan's mother said softly. "Tristan spoke of you." Rory blinked in surprise but didn't ask about it.
"He's still in surgery," Tristan's father said, answering Rory's question. "We won't know anything for a while yet." Rory nodded as Tristan's father fell silent.
"He took the bullet for me," Rory admitted. "Do you mind if I wait with you?" Once more the Dugrays stared at her for a long moment.
"No," Mrs. Dugray said finally. "We don't mind."
Finally a doctor stepped up to them. "Mr. and Mrs. Dugray? I'm Doctor Philps. I operated on your son."
"How is he?" Rory asked before she could stop herself.
The doctor glanced at her in surprise, then turned back to the Dugrays. "He came through the surgery all right. We almost lost him once, but he pulled through."
"Will he recover?" Tristan's father asked.
"He's not out of danger," the doctor said, doing his best to evade the question. "The next couple of days are key."
two days later
The Dugrays were gracious about letting Rory stay at the hospital with them when she could. One of them was always at Tristan's bedside, but finally they asked her to sit with him for a time while they got some food and talked with the doctors.
"Hey, Tristan. It's me, Rory," Rory said softly. "Your parents will be back soon. They just went to get some food and talk to the doctor. They didn't want to leave you alone, though, so they let me in here. I... I don't really know what to say, Tristan. Just... you saved my life. That means I owe you. So wake up and you can collect." There was silence except for the beeping of the various machines Tristan was hooked up to. "Please wake up," Rory whispered.
the next day
"Rory!" Lorelai yelled. "Phone!" Lorelai handed the phone to Rory when she came down the stairs. "It's Tristan's mother," she whispered.
"Hello?" Rory asked, her voice a strange combination of hope and dread. "He is? ...He did? ...When? ...Okay. ...He's asking for me? ...I'll be right there. Thanks, bye." Rory hung up the phone and lifted her gaze to meet Lorelai's. "He's asking for me."
The words were faint, the voice weak, but Rory heard them clearly. "What?" she asked, baffled.
"I'm collecting," Tristan explained weakly, his eyes focusing on her. "That's what I want. A kiss."
Tristan nodded slightly.
"You don't even call me by my real name, how can you want a kiss?"
Rory blinked. "Oh."
Rory blinked again. "Okay." She leaned over, intending to give Tristan a quick peck on the cheek, but before she knew what she was doing she was pressing her lips to his. Finally she pulled back. "Oh," she managed. Tristan quirked a smile at her--a real smile, not his trademark smirk.
"Thank you," he whispered, fighting his eyelids as they tried to drop.
"You're welcome," Rory whispered back. "Go to sleep."
"Don't leave me," Tristan murmured as his eyes closed.
"I've been waiting for you to call me."
"I'm sorry. I've been busy."
"Look," Dean said, tilting her head up until their eyes met, "I know you feel like you owe him for saving your life. But you don't have to be at the hospital every second of every day--"
"I kissed him."
Dean stared at her. "Oh."
"I told him I owed him, so when he woke up he told me he was collecting, and that to collect he wanted a kiss. I was going to just sort of brush his cheek, but then... I kissed him. On the lips." Rory looked up into Dean's eyes. "I'm sorry, Dean."
"Yeah. Yeah, so am I."
two weeks later
Rory knocked twice on the front door of the Dugray mansion. Though she had been a frequent visitor to Tristan while he was in the hospital, she had never seen his house before, much less been inside it. Nonetheless, Tristan had called her and asked if she minded coming over to keep him company for a while.
She was let into the house and led upstairs to Tristan's room, where he was propped up in bed with a book. Les Miserables, Rory noticed. A favorite of hers.
As she entered the room Tristan looked up. "Hi," he said.
"Hi," Rory answered, glancing around. The room was large and very neat, almost impersonal. There was a television and vcr and a number of books spread around, but there were no pictures or little trinkets, like there were in Rory's room and spread around her house. "That's a good book," she said to start the conversation.
"Yeah, it's my favorite," Tristan admitted. "Rory, I want to tell you something."
"I was glad I got assigned to work with you on our history project," he said earnestly. "I've never cared who I've been paired with before, but I when I heard our names together... I felt something. Rory... I'm falling in love with you."
Rory stared at him for a moment, then opened her mouth to speak. Tristan cut her off. "No, I know, I'm a jerk and you hate me. But I thought you should know."
"I don't kiss people I hate. Not once, and certainly not twice," she said, leaning forward to press her lips to his.
"You have to ask?"
Luke reached around and placed a steaming cup of coffee in front of Lorelai. "I saw you heading this way," he explained. "How's Rory?"
"Good. She's with Tristan."
"Does Dean know about that?" Luke asked.
Lorelai shrugged. "Doesn't matter. Rory broke up with him."
"Yeah. Now she's got a thing for Tristan."
"Go out with me Friday night?"
"Pick you up at seven?"
"Okay." Luke and Lorelai stared at each other for a moment, then Lorelai leaned forward and kissed him.
"Thank you," Lorelai told him sincerely. She stood, swallowed the last of her coffee, then headed for the Inn, a bright smile on her face. Her daughter was safe, probably getting kisses from Tristan, the sun was shining, and she had a date with Luke on Friday night.
It was a good day to be alive.