SPOILER WARNING: Season One, I guess.
RATING: G/PG.
CHARACTERS: Lorelai, Babette, Rory, Tristan, and Luke
SUMMARY: An unexpected request by Tristan makes Rory think twice about the "hate" she has for him.
DISCLAIMER: I don't own the Gilmore Girls characters. Amy Sherman-Palladino, Dorothy Parker Drank Here Productions, and the WB do. No copyright infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: If you like it, please send comments, I'd love to know if I got the personalities right at all. Thanks and have fun reading! You guys are some terrific writers. Side note...this is also on my *NSYNC fan fiction website, so if you happen to go there, you'll find it both here and there. Just letting you know so if you stumble across it, you don't think it's plagarized.


Everybody Loves Duckies

by Katie
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Part 1


Somewhere, a door banged open, shoes clacked on a wooden floor, and a slightly harried voice filtered through the quiet Gilmore house.

"Okay, sugars, nobody panic now! Apricot took his escape this morning, poor dear. Who knows where he could be now?"

"I, for one," began Lorelai, "am certain that he is not in my house. And yet you seem to think otherwise." She stumbled into the living room and raised her eyebrows at Babette, who was now pawing through piles of pillows on the couch. "WOW, is it too early to be awake?" She checked the clock and nodded. "Yes, yes, it is. Babette, I can guarantee you that Apricot isn't hiding in my sofa."

"Oh, ya just never know." Babette straightened and then plopped onto the couch, sighing with exhaustion and a little bit of worry. "He likes to hide in warm places."

"Oh, well, in that case!" Lorelai grinned and pointed upstairs. "He might just be hiding in my bed. I should go check. I should check now, before his...uh...lostness gets any worse."

"Pumpkin', this is no time to be crawling back to bed. You have to help me find him! The poor little guy, all alone, shiverin', oh, I feel for him. I really do." She wrung her hands.

"Gahhhh." Lorelai groaned and headed for the kitchen. "Enough with the guilt trips. Coffee, then kitten searching. That is the way of life." She rested a hip against the counter and started the coffee maker, staring at it with unabashed love in her eyes. "This machine is my GOD. It does such wonderful things for me every morning. It should be worshiped and admired for it's laborious duties. Would you like a serving of it's yummy offerings?"

"Oh, no, darlin', but thank you. Morey and I decided to give coffee up because it made him jittery and he can be awful strange when he's jittery."

"Give coffee up!" An alarmed look spread across Lorelai's face and she patted the top of the machine, then put her hands on either side of it. "You didn't hear that. Babette just doesn't love you like I do."

The coffee machine sputtered slightly and then began to produce coffee at a slightly faster rate. Lorelai smiled and cooed down at it, then turned her smile toward Babette. "Flattery will get you anywhere in life if you know how to use it right." Her grin quickly turned to a look of confusion. "Um...why are you looking in the dishwasher? It's not a warm place. Apricot is not in the dishwasher, nor is he in the house. Which brings me to my next question. Why are you searching my house in the first place? WHICH brings me to my next question. How did you get into my house?"

"We found Apricot in the dishwasher once, maybe he likes it 'cause it's dark. I'm looking in your house because I thought maybe you might have left a window open; that maybe he climbed in to. I got in with the key you gave me a few months back."

Lorelai smiled and shook her head. "The Gilmores do not leave windows open. It's not a way of Gilmore life."

"Mom, you left the window open last night." Rory walked into the kitchen, already dressed in her Chilton uniform.

Lorelai gasped. "Say it isn't so. The Code of the Gilmore has been shattered!"

"Not even going to ask." Rory reached into the refrigerator and pulled out the orange juice. "Morning, Babette. What are you doing here?"

"Oh, we can't find Apricot and we thought maybe he might have climbed in here."

"Actually, I think I saw him crawling around in the yard." She sat at the table.

"Aww, thank you, honey. I'll see you girls later, okay? You all have a good day, now." Babette hurried back out of the house, and Lorelai turned to Rory.

"Hey. You're having orange juice. Have coffee." Lorelai smiled with pleasure as she poured almost all of the pot into an over-sized mug.

"Can't. Besides the fact that there's all of eight drops left after Hurricane Lorelai came through, I'm jittery enough as it is."

"But coffee is calming!"

"Maybe that's because you've built up an immunity to the caffeine rush."

"Ah, could be, you wise child, you. Why are you jittery?"

"Oral presentation with Paris today." Rory bent her head to take a sip of the orange juice and grimaced. "Or maybe I will have coffee."

"You're your mother's daughter." Lorelai promptly dumped half of her cup into another and placed it in front of Rory.

Rory glanced at her watch and stood up. "I guess this is going to be to go." She carefully poured it into a thermos and kissed her mother on the cheek. "I gotta go. I'll miss my bus if I don't hurry."

"Run, run!" Lorelai handed Rory's backpack to her. "Come see me after school, okay?"

There was an affirmative shouted response as Rory dashed down the street toward the bus stop. Lorelai closed the door and eyed the coffee maker again. "It's just you and me now."


~ ~ ~
"Are you ready for today?"

Rory nearly jumped as a familiar curt voice from behind startled her. "Paris, hey. Yeah. I'm ready."

"Good." And with that, Paris stalked off without so much as a backward glance.

Rory sighed and made her way to class, weaving through a throng of students, all clad in identical uniforms. After reaching her classroom, she pushed the door open and groaned aloud when she saw Tristan.

"Rory." He acknowledged her with a nod of his head and she smiled tightly back, lips pressed together in more of a grimace than a smile.

"Tristan." She walked over to her desk, set her things down, and turned to Paris, who was reading over some notes. "Hey, Paris."

"Rory." Paris recognized her presence with a nod not unlike Tristan's.

Rory rolled her eyes and turned around again to sit in her desk. "What is with people just saying my name today?"

The bell rang and the rest of the class settled down. Mr. Medina stood from his desk and smiled at them. "Morning, class. Today is oral presentation day! I can just feel the excitement pulsing through the room. It's overwhelming."

Tristan raised his hand and spoke without being called on. "I don't want to go first."

"Very good." Mr. Medina clapped his hands. "We have our first volunteer, ladies and gentlemen. Tristan, you and your partner have the floor."

Tristan and another boy climbed to their feet and lumbered reluctantly to the front of the classroom.

Rory rested her chin in the palm of her hand, propped up on her desk, and glanced at Paris. Her classmate was staring unabashedly at Tristan, her eyes shining with a hint of obsession and a definite amount of adoration.

She just couldn't resist, so she leaned over and whispered to Paris, "Hey, Paris, you're drooling."

Paris fixed her with a death glare as Tristan walked back down the aisle toward his seat, and then turned a smiling face to Tristan. "Hi, Tristan."

"Oh, hey." He raised his chin in her direction and noticed Rory rolling her eyes. "Hey, Rory."

Mr. Medina was critiquing the presentation done by Tristan and his friend, so Paris leaned toward Rory. "He said your name."

Rory nodded. "Yes, he did, and he did a good job of it, too."

"He didn't say my name. Are you sleeping with him? Is that how you get him to say your name?"

"Paris, get a grip. We're up." Rory rose out of her seat and strode to the front of the class, Paris scrambling to follow her.

After nearly ten minutes of having Paris "accidentally" step on her foot or put an elbow into her side, and having Tristan shoot her self-assured look, relief came for Rory when she finally sank back into her seat, only to find a folded note sitting on her desk. Curiously, she looked around the room and slowly unfolded the note.

Written in neat handwriting were a few lines. Rory's eyes darted toward the bottom to read the signature: Tristan. Rory furrowed her eyebrows and read over the rest of the note.

Rory,

I need your help with something. Meet me outside the main doors after school. Please come.

She turned her head to look over her shoulder. Tristan was staring straight ahead at Mr. Medina. Rory nervously bit her lip and turned back around, completely unsure of what to do.


~ ~ ~
"I'm glad you came." His voice, low and steady, surprised Rory as she stepped out of the school.

"Tristan! You...you scared me. Why are you hiding behind a bush?"

"I wasn't hiding. I was waiting."

"Behind a bush?"

A moment of silence, and then, "Okay, so maybe I was hiding."

"Why?"

"I don't know."

"Oh. Okay. So what was it that you wanted?"

"I need your help."

"With what?"

"It's my little sister's birthday tomorrow. I don't know what to get her. I thought maybe you could help me."

"Me, as opposed to the entire rest of the female student body that would probably go into shock if you actually talked to them?"

Tristan had to smile. "What wonders you do for my ego, Mary." With a look from Rory, he grimaced. "Rory. Yes. I chose you."

"But why me?"

"Look, I don't know, okay? I just thought you might be willing to put aside our differences and help me out. But whatever, maybe not. See you tomorrow."

Rory bit her lip as he began to walk away. "Tristan, wait! I'll...I'll help you."

"Really?"

"Yeah. Um...let me just call my mom at work so she knows what I'm doing."

He smirked and sat down on a bench. "Do you call your mom every time you go somewhere?"

Rory rolled her eyes and took the cell phone she and her mom shared out of her backpack. "Only when I'm going somewhere with a creep named Tristan. You know. So she'll know to look for my body in the morgue if I don't come home tonight."

"Oooh, clever," he shot back. "Did your mom help you come up with that one?"

"No...I...thought of it," she finished lamely, and huffed; then walked a few steps away to make her phone call.

He watched her with amusement. No matter how much she tried to hide it, Tristan knew he was getting under her skin...and he had to admit that it made him happy.


Part 2


Rory stared uncomfortably out the window, fidgeting each time Tristan reached for the radio dial to turn the volume up or down or to change the station. He noticed her squirming and rolled his eyes. "Rory, quit acting like I'm going to pull an axe out of my back pocket."

Rory cut her eyes sideways to glance at him. "Are you?"

"No!"

"Huh. Funny how I don't believe you."

Tristan groaned and threw one hand up. "I give up. I just do."

After nearly half an hour, they pulled into Stars Hollow and Rory put her hand on Tristan's forearm. He nearly jumped at the touch, but she pulled her hand back before he could say anything. "Tristan, stop for a minute, there's Lane."

"Lane?"

"My best friend. Just stop the car, okay?" Rory waited for the car to stop before she climbed out and dashed across the street to Lane. Tristan stayed in the car and watched her hug Lane briefly before shooting an uneasy glance toward Tristan. Lane followed her gaze and clapped a hand over her mouth. Tristan sighed and let his head fall back onto the leather interior of his car.

"Rory!" Lane tugged on Rory's hand. "Rory, you are driving with the devil!"

Rory bit her lip. "You sound like your mother, Lane."

"Oh God no!" Lane looked horrified. "I'm sorry. But you are. Do you know how many times I've smiled and patted your hand in sympathy while listening to you complain about Tristan? Many times, more times than I've been grounded."

Rory frowned and got slightly distracted. "Do I really complain that much?"

"Rory!" Lane clamped her hands down on her friend's shoulders. "Focus."

"Sorry. Lane, he asked me to help him. You do remember the problem I have with saying 'no', right? Will you come with me?"

Lane shook her head. "You know I would, but my mom caught me with an *Nsync CD and is convinced that I need to pray for three hours every day after school."

"You bought an *Nsync CD?"

Lane shrugged. "Moment of weakness. I heard some girls in the bathroom talking about how varied their new stuff was. I got curious."

"Whatever. I'll call you tonight, okay?" Rory hugged Lane again.

"Okay. Good luck!" Lane waved as Rory trudged off toward the car again and sighed as she climbed into the car. That girl is toast.

"So what do you recommend?" Tristan's voice startled Rory out of her daydreams.

"Um...I guess I'm not really sure. What does your sister like?"

"She's eight. She loves Britney Spears, animals, rainbows, teddy bears, and that fake makeup crap."

"First of all, no matter how nicely you ask or how much you beg, I refuse to buy anything that will further the commercial success of Britney Spears. However, animals, I can help with. Keep going three blocks down and then turn right and park."

Tristan did as he was told and when he had parked the car, Rory moved to get out. Tristan stopped her by putting his hand on hers and meeting her gaze head on.

"Rory, thank you for doing this."

"Okay. I mean, thank you. I mean, you're welcome." Rory was completely flustered by the way he was looking at her and the way his fingers were sliding over her own.

The corners of his mouth twitched in a half-smile at her nervous state, but he took pity on her nerves and let her hand go, allowing her to climb out of the car. They walked silently toward the toy store across the street and Tristan was swept up in the charm of the small town for a minute as he watched people stop and talk to each other on the street. He reached forward and held the door open for Rory, and they stepped inside.

"Laurie?" Rory poked her head around an aisle and walked over to the counter. "There you are."

A short middle-aged woman popped up from behind the counter and grinned at Rory, then caught sight of Tristan. "Well well well, Rory Gilmore. Who is this?"

"This is Tristan, we go to Chilton together."

"It's nice to meet you." Tristan leaned forward and shook Laurie's hand.

"I'm Laurie. So is there anything I can help you two with?"

"Actually, I think we're just looking right now. Rory is helping me pick out something for my sister's birthday."

"Okay. Just let me know if I can do anything, Rory, honey, I'll be in back." With that, she disappeared, and Tristan and Rory were left to stare around the store.

Feelings Tristan hadn't felt since he was five and in love with trucks and Mutant Ninja Turtles wrapped around him. He wandered over to a toy truck and car display and moved a car along its race track with the tip of his index finger, marveling over the simple joy he remembered.

'Tristan?"

He turned to face Rory and saw that she was holding a large brown teddy bear. Tristan walked over to her and caressed the soft fur of the bear. "It's nice...but I don't know. It doesn't seem like enough."

"Okay." Rory put the bear down and wandered away from him.

The bell over the door jangled, but both of them, absorbed in thought, ignored it- until a familiar voice, laced with a bit of envy and uncertainty, said, "Rory?"

Rory whirled and came nearly face to face with Dean. "Dean! Hi!"

"Hi." He looked past her and saw Tristan, and something in his face shifted. "You're here with him? On a date?"

"No! Dean, it's not like that! I was helping him-"

"Rory, I don't care. It doesn't matter. We're not dating anymore. You can do whatever you want."

"But I just don't want you to be mad."

"I'm not MAD!" His voice took on about three more times strength on the word 'mad' and Tristan bristled.

Walking over, Tristan planted himself between Rory and Dean and stared Dean in the face. "Who taught you to shout at a woman?"

Rory's mouth nearly dropped open. Tristan was actually defending her against an ex-boyfriend.

"I don't know. Who taught you to be a total asshole?" Dean was practically shaking.

"I suggest you leave. Rory is obviously uncomfortable with you here."

"Why the hell don't you leave?! This isn't your town, prep-boy. You don't belong here."

Tristan pushed his sleeves up and Rory nearly shrieked when Dean did the same. They were actually ready to fight over her.

"Guys! Stop!" She stepped between them and pushed them apart, then picked up the nearest object. She held it up for them to see and her brow furrowed when she realized what it was- a small yellow rubber duck. "Chill out. Come on. Look at the duckie. Everybody loves duckies, right?"

They both stared at her and she shrugged, feeling a blush creep up her cheeks. "Well, I love duckies."

Dean took one last look at the two of them and stormed out of the store. Tristan grabbed Rory's arms and pulled her out of the store. Once they were outside, she wrestled herself out of his grip. "Tristan, what are you doing? We still have to find something for your sister."

"That can wait. Right now, we need to get some coffee or tea or something. You're really pale."

In a daze, Rory let herself be pulled along the street toward Luke's. They reached the old hardware store and pushed the door open. Instantly, Luke was on his feet, staring at Tristan.

"Rory, who's that?"

"Luke, Tristan. Tristan, Luke."

"Lorelai, coffee. Coffee, Lorelai." Lorelai walked in and plopped down at the counter, then noticed who was sitting next to her. "Rory! Strange boy that I don't know who's with Rory!"

"Mom, this is Tristan. From Chilton."

"Ah, Tristan of Chilton." Lorelai gave Tristan an appraising look. "I've heard a lot about you."

"Good things, I hope?"

"Uh-uh."

"Bad things?"

"Uh-huh." Lorelai smirked and took a sip of the coffee Luke set in front of her. "You're a very bad boy. Maybe we should all just call you Boy of the Bad."

Luke raised an eyebrow and tried to slide the coffee away from her, figuring that she had had enough to drink that day already, but she slapped his hand and pulled it back. "Bad Luke." She took another sip and then looked at Tristan and Rory. "So, I know a good mom would have asked this first, but sometimes I'm not a good mom. What are you two doing here? Together, specifically?"

Rory cleared her throat. "I'm helping Tristan pick out something for his little sister's birthday. Or at least I was, until Dean tried to beat him up in the toy store."

"What?" Lorelai gasped. "Oh Rory. I'm sorry, sweetie. I don't know what to tell you about him."

"Want me to try and beat him up again?" Luke started to untie his apron, but Lorelai held out her hand to stop him.

"You stay. Fighting is bad."

They continued talking for a few minutes until Tristan glanced at his watch. "Crap. I'm late for my piano lesson. Rory, do you want me to take you home?" He swivelled to face her and Lorelai nodded up and down frantically at her.

"Um...sure. That would be good."

"Cool." They left Luke's and together, Luke and Lorelai watched them go.

"She likes him, doesn't she?" Luke grabbed a sponge and began wiping down the counter.

"Oh no. Not at all." Lorelai rolled her eyes at Luke. "Of course she does, Mr. Observant. Sheesh."

"Okay. That's it. I'm cutting you off. You get way too smart and sassy when you have too much caffeine."

"Gah!" Lorelai made a desperate attempt to regain her cup of coffee as Luke carried it away, but missed and slumped down on the counter instead. "Curses. Foiled again."



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(Late that night.)

It was too late for her to be up studying, and she knew it, but Rory couldn't help it. She already knew that she wouldn't be able to sleep, and had decided to do something productive with her time instead of just tossing and turning. Her afternoon with Tristan had been more fun than she thought it could ever be. The phone beside her rang and she grabbed it before it woke her mom.

"Hello?"

"Rory? It's Tristan. Can you open the door? I'm standing out here but I didn't want to knock or ring the bell because I didn't want to wake Lorelai up."

"Um. Okay." Rory hung up and glanced down at herself in a panic. She was dressed in a pair of dark blue silk pajama pants and a matching tank top, and her hair was messily put together in a bun with a pencil stuck through the middle. Shrugging after a minute, she realized there wasn't much she could do about her appearance, so she just let her hair down and combed her fingers through it quickly before hurrying to open the front door.

When she did, she was greeted at the sight of Tristan in a pair of checked, flannel pajama pants and a white t-shirt, hair mussed but still slightly spiky. "Hey Rory. I couldn't sleep." He spoke quietly and she stepped all of the way of the house, closing the door to a crack behind her. "I hope I didn't wake you up."

"No, it's okay. You didn't. I couldn't sleep, so I was studying."

"Oh." Tristan shifted his weight from foot to foot for a minute. "Listen, I came out here to tell you a couple of things."

"Oh? Like what?"

Before she knew it, his mouth was covering hers in an urgent kiss and she was responding just as urgently, threading her arms around his neck and letting his fingers tangle in her hair, moving smoothly along her scalp and neck. She opened her mouth wider to him and let herself go in the moment, restraining herself only when necessary. Finally, he pulled away and rested his forehead against hers. "I've been wanting to do that for a really long time, Rory."

"Oh," was all she could think to say, so she said it again. "Oh."

Tristan grinned at her dazed expression and handed her a small brown paper bag. "This is for you. I'll see you in class." He pressed his lips to hers once more and then hopped off the porch and into his waiting car. Lifting one hand, he waved at her as he drove off into the night.

Rory went back inside and closed the door before leaning against it and flicking the hall light on. She opened the paper bag and smiled when she lifted out the duck from the toy store. Attached was a very short note in Tristan's handwriting. It simply said 'Because you love duckies and because I love you. Tristan.'

Rory stroked the head of the duck thoughtfully before setting it down on the hallway table and heading upstairs.

Not only would she sleep now, but she would dream.



--end-- Hope you liked it!

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