Rating: PG-13 (Just generally, not for all chapters.)
Spoilers: I'd better say "Season One" to be on the save side.
Pairing: R/T
Starring: Rory, Tristan
Guest Starring: Lorelai, and Coffee
Special Appearances By: Luke, Dean, Lane, Paris, Emily
Summary: Tristan ends up on crutches all because of Rory. What will she do to make it up to him.
Disclaimer: Damn you caught me. I stole them from the WB.... but I returned them without so much as a split end. They were very delightful hostages. We enjoyed countless hours of playing with my stuffed animal duck, named Penguin, while watching the Emperor´s New Groove. Cronk rocks. My shoulder angel told me to return them once I was finished. So you get them back.... but I may take them again.
Warning: May contain words that the author created herself in a coffee induced coma. She believes that they will benefit the story. If the word cannot be found in the dictionary then ask her for the meaning. (AKA. I pulled a George W.) (not intended to offend and George Bushians)

Lean on Me

by Meghan

Rory stopped the engine of her car and closed her eyes as she took deep breaths. It was the first day of her Junior year at Chilton. The summer had gone by very quickly for Rory, too quickly if you asked her. Most of her time was spent at the inn helping her mother and annoying Michel. She lifted her head and looked at the students entering Chilton´s main door. They laughed and hugged each other like all old friends do.

Rory sighed as she was reminded of how much she did not fit into this environment. She thought about that a lot over the summer. No matter how much she wanted to fit in she couldn´t. She was afraid of being sucked into the world of superficiality. she was afraid that by hanging around people who she thought were shallow that she too would become one of them. But by taking this stance she realized that she wasn´t giving anyone a chance. Rory was more terrified of being rejected than anything else, so she chose to not let her fellow students into her life.

Rory thought that she was happy with what she had already. But things change and she realized that she couldn´t go through life alienating everyone she met. She never judged a book by its cover, so she´s shouldn´t judge people by the environment in which they were raised.

Last night she decided that she was going to start over, like all of her sophomore year had been just a dream. Everyone´s slate would be wiped clean. She was going to make friends this year, if for no other reason than to save her sanity. Rory grabbed her backpack from the passenger seat and got out of her car. She exhaled quickly and smoothed out her skirt before making her way to Chilton´s entrance. She said hi to the few people you noticed her as she made her way to her locker.

Paris was already loading up her locker with various items when Rory made an appearance next to her.

“Good morning Paris.” Rory said with a smile on her face as she put in her combination. Paris looked up at her like she had three heads before turning her attention back to her stuff. Her head was half buried in her backpack before she acknowledged Rory with a gruff hello.

*At least it´s a start.*

“I trust you had a good summer.” Rory was attempting to make small talk.

“I did.... sometimes. Why are you talking to me?” Paris was looking straight into Rory´s eyes. It had hurt her to see Tristan fall all over himself to please Rory. She had been the new girl, the Mary, she wasn´t suppose to get all the attention.

“I want to be your friend.”

“After what happened at the end of last year I doubt that will happen.”

“Nothing happened Paris. I don´t know why Tristan told you that I was going out with him, but I wasn´t then and I´m not now. I´m sorry if that hurt you, I never meant for you to get hurt. I just want to set out past differences aside and become your friend.” Paris eyed Rory critically. She had heard many things about Rory over the summer through the country club grapevine. She slowly held out her hand to Rory.

“To making a new beginning?” Rory grabbed Paris´ hand and smiled as she shook it.

“To making new beginnings.”

“So Rory.... how was your summer?”

“It was ok.”

“I heard you got back together with that guy.” Paris revealed the knowledge that she actually knew Rory and Tristan weren´t an item. This took Rory by surprise.

“I did.”

“Did? As in past tense?” Rory dropped her head slightly as Paris touched upon a subject that she wished she could have avoided.

“Well we broke up a few weeks ago.”

“I´m sorry.” Paris felt genuine sympathy for Rory´s situation.

“It´s ok. Things ended amicably. We´re still friends. Things just weren´t the same between us. So we decided it before someone was seriously hurt.” Rory was telling the partial truth. Things between Dean and herself had been different from the first time they were together.

The first few weeks of their second try at a relationship had been blissful to say the least. But then things became awkward. Rory had put up a wall and wasn´t letting Dean in. something was again holding her back from sharing in Dean´s love. It was that she was afraid of love anymore, but something else was holding her back. Rory could still not figure out what it was. Rory was the one who ended the relationship this time. Dean had seen it coming, so it was to hard on him, though they thought of losing her did hurt. They decided to remain friends, though things were still strained at the moment.

The two girls continued to talk about their summers to kill time before they had to head to their classes. It was in the middle of their discussion about Missile Defense Shield that they heard a loud bang on the locker behind Paris.

Rory leaned out over Paris´ shoulder so that she could see what had caused the noise. She groaned to herself when she Tristan in a liplock with yet another one of his many makeout partners. He had the girl pressed between himself and the locker, with his hands on either side of her head. She looked him up and down, surprising herself that she was blatantly checking Tristan out. She groaned out load this time. Paris heard.

“Wha.. what is it?” Rory merely motioned for Paris to turn around. Paris jumped back slightly at the sit of the lip dueling duo. Rory was the first to speak.

“Enjoying yourself Mr. DuGray?” Tristan´s lips slowly came off the girl´s and he turned his head so that he could see Rory. Her head was tipped to one side as she looked questioningly at him. In his eyes she had never seemed more beautiful. He smirked before replying.

“Immensely... care to join in?” Rory smiled.

“Sorry. Three´s a crowd.” Tristan´s eyebrows raised in shock at her innuendo. Last year a comment like that would have never made it out of Rory´s mouth, and his offer would have made her turn a delightful shade of pink. Tristan smirked once more time before turning back to the blonde he had pressed against the locker. He gave her a quick kiss before whispering something in her ear that made her giggle. She kissed him on the nose and then flounced down the hall way. As soon as she was gone Tristan turned his attention back to Rory. He finally noticed Paris standing there. Her jaw locked in a sneer.

“Morning Paris.”

“Morning Tristan.” Paris scowled. It was to early for her to be seeing Tristan and his antics with the opposite sex.

“How are we today Rory?” She placed her hands on her hips and beamed a smile at him.

“Delightful. Perfectly delightful.”

Things were changing.


PART TWO

It was the end of the day and Rory was exhausted. Chilton didn´t believe that students should get summer amnesia. There was no class introductions or leeway. They dove right in. Piling on the homework and projects. Rory dragged her feet as she walked to her locker.

*Coffee and a nice hot bubble bath.... while reading that Tolstoy. That´s my plan... ain´t no one getting in the way.*

Once at her locker she leaned her head against the cool metal. Students rushed around her, chatting as they went. The sound was all garbled together as she tried to calm herself. Her day had actually not gone all that bad. She attempted to make a least some emotional contact with her fellow students. She ended up having three classes with Paris, but she couldn´t decide whether that would help or hurt her budding friendship with the girl. She also had a few classes with Tristan, but for some reason that didn´t bother all that much.

Rory slowly pulled away from the locker and sighed in relief that her first day had not been disastrous. She opened her locker and began switching her books around, figuring out what would go and what would stay. Paris pulled up beside her.

“Hey Rory.” Paris had an actual smile on her face.

“Hi Paris. Good day?”

“The best.” Paris smiled dreamily as she remembered lunch.

“I´ll bet.” Rory hid her grin. She had witnessed quite an interesting scene earlier that day. Paris had been kind enough to invite Rory to her lunch table. Somewhere in the middle of her salad, a guy from the history class that she and Paris shared plopped right down at the table. Rory had no idea who he was. Paris introduced him as Robert. Robert had bid her a quick hello before turning his complete attention to Paris. He spoke to her and Rory had no idea what he said, but when he left Paris was in a full blush and had a beaming smile on her face.

“So what did Robert say to you?” Rory peeked out at Paris from behind her locker door.

“Oh nothing...hey, do you still want a column at the Franklin.”

“Yeah. I´d love one.”

“Good because one of my reporters pulled out. We´ll talk about the details later.” Paris shut her locker and was walking down the hall before she was stopped by Rory´s voice.

“Thanks Paris.”

“No problem.”

“I´m glad that we´re starting over.”

“Me too.” With that Paris turned around and walked down the hall. Unbeknownst to them Tristan had seen the entire conversation. He pushed away from the lockers and walked towards Rory. She shut her locker door, a book tucked underneath her arm. She began to walk down the hall, unzipping her backpack as she went. Tristan finally caught up to her and grabbed the book out of her hands just as she was about to put it in her bag.

“Give it back!” Rory grabbed for it but Tristan yanked it out of her reach.

“Good afternoon to you to Rory.” Rory threw her back over her shoulder and placed her hands on her hips scowling at Tristan.

“Good afternoon.” Her voice came out forced. “Now can I have my book back.”

“No.”

“And to think I was trying to give you a second chance.” She lunged for the book again but Tristan pulled it behind his back.

“You were?” Tristan tipped his head the side, a smirk dancing upon his lips.

“Yes.” Rory lunged for the book again, but Tristan backed up.

“Well thank you Mary.”

“Well you´re wasting that second chance with the way your acting right now, so I would change that attitude if I were you.” Rory´s attention was completely focused on a way to lunge and grab the book from Tristan´s hands.

“I see. Let me ask you something. Why are you giving me this second chance?” Rory lunged again but Tristan dodged her advance with ease.

“Because I believe in the good of man kind.” She grabbed for the book and whined when her pulled it away again. “No one is totally heartless..... but your beginning to make me rethink my philosophy.”

“Be careful Mary. You wouldn´t want the mind of yours to burn out.”

“Funny Tristan. I´m rolling on the floor over your remark.”

“I´d like to see you rolling on the floor.” He wiggled his eyebrows suggestively. Rory sneered at him before jumping for the book again. They had been traveling down the hall the entire time, and now were standing at the top of the stairs. “If you wanted to jump me all you had to do was ask.” Tristan held his hands up and twirled around. Rory eyed the book in his outstretched arm. A twinkle in her eye.

She saw her opportunity when he turned to face her again. He had let his guard down and Rory saw his vulnerability. She lunged for the book. He was shocked at her move and was caught off guard, and off balance. She ripped the book from his hands but at the same time cause him to lean backwards. She smiled triumphantly when the book was back in her possession, but the smile quickly faded when she saw him loose what little balance he had and tumble down the stairs.


PART THREE

Rory watched in shock as Tristan bumped and twirled all the way down the stairs. Thumps echoed against the walls in the hall with each step he hit. Rory´s mouth was on the floor by the time Tristan landed in a heap at the bottom of the stairs, an odd popping sound vibrating through the room. Rory heard giggles and smirks from the other students who had seen the entire scene unfold.

She ignored them as she stared down at Tristan´s limp form. She was about reach out to him and see if he was ok when a groan escaped his lips. He slowly opened his eyes to see Rory leaning over him.

“Don´t touch me.” He swatted her hand away as he slowly sat up.

“Fine.” She crossed her arms. “I was just trying to see if you were ok. You deserved it anyway. You were being a jerk.”

“Thanks.” Tristan braced himself as he tried to stand up, but something felt wrong. Pain shot through his body and he collapsed onto the ground again with a loud moan.

“Baby. Bruise your ego?” Tristan´s eyes bored into hers.

“Not only that... but I don´t think my knee is normally that swollen.” Tristan and Rory´s eyes darted down to his right knee that was clearly swelling underneath his pants. Rory immediately dropped to her knees and began to slowly massage the swollen area. Her touch sent waves of pleasure coursing through Tristan´s body, they almost covered the pain. His breathing became erratic as Rory´s touch overwhelmed him.

“If I had known that all I had to do was hurt my knee for you to play doctor, I would have fallen a long time ago.” Rory didn´t say a word but just glared at him, shooting daggers with her eyes. Tristan let out an ouch when she hit a tender spot. She muttered an apology. Tense minutes passed as Rory continued to massage his knee. Tristan just stared at her hunched form. Her dark fell in front of her delicate face. Tristan was about to reach out and brush a strand behind her ear when her entrancing voice broke his spell.

“Do you think you can walk?” He withdrew his hand quickly and regained his cocky composure.

“Hmmm.... let me think...my knee has apparently swelled to the size of a friggin grapefruit, and I have pain overwhelming my body... I really don´t think that I can walk.”

“Fine.. with that attitude I´ll just leave you here, alone...” The halls had since cleared of students, “....on the floor to find your own way out.” Rory stood up and grabbed her bag and was heading out the door.

“Wait.” Rory stopped at Tristan´s plea, but did not turn around. “I´m sorry.” She turned back to him quickly a huge smile on her face.

“That´s more like it. Here, let me help you.” She bent down and but his right arm around her neck. The contact of his skin to hers sent shocks through her. She ignored them but was having trouble focusing on anything other than his breathing, and his sweet scent.

They slowly stood up and Tristan leaned all of his wait on Rory. She walked very slowly and cautiously down the hall as Tristan limped beside her. When he almost fell again she but her arm around his lower back pulling him closer. Tristan drew in a quick breath as he felt her grab him. He tilted his head towards hers, their lips only inches apart.

Rory stopped walking when she felt Tristan staring at her.

“What?”

*Damn... she caught me.*

“Nothing.” He turned his attention back to the door. They ever so slowly made their way to her car. “Your car?”

“Well.... I don´t know your car. What you have me do, make you walk to the hospital.” She opened the door for Tristan. He braced himself against the seat and was about to push himself up into the seat. Suddenly he found Rory crushed to his chest. His heart skip a beat when he felt her hands on him. Someone in there haste to get home had pushed Rory into him. His arms instinctively went around her pulling her closer to him.

Her crystalline blue eyes stared deep into his, rattling him to the core. His heart skipped another beat. Rory´s breath caught in her chest. Neither one made a move to back away from the other. Tristan´s hands moved up into Rory´s loose hair and began slowly run through the soft strands. Rory´s eyes closed as she enjoyed his touch. Tristan took this as a sign of approval. He began lowering his lips to hers. Rory was shaken from her serene mood when she felt his warm breath upon his lips.

*Rory! What the hell are you doing?*

She jerked away from him. Tristan hid his disappointment as she walked around to the driver´s side of the car. He lifted himself in with his strong arms and gently began rubbing his throbbing knee.

“You ok?” Rory asked as she saw his face grimace.

“Just peachy.” Tristan placed an overly fake smile on his face. But the pain was more from the lack of Rory being in his arms, than from the pain in his knee.


PART FOUR

Rory slammed the breaks in front of the entrance to the ER. Tristan winced in pain as his knee slammed against the side of the door when Rory jerked the car to a stop. She didn´t notice his reaction as she climbed out of the car leaving the door wide open.

“Stay right there.” She screamed at him as she ran through the doors.

“No problem.” He called out to her, before saying to himself, “Where am I gonna go anyway?” Tristan stared through the doors awaiting the moment when Rory would return with an entourage of medical practitioners.

Meanwhile inside the hospital Rory was looking around for someone to help her. She walked up to what appeared to be a nurse. The lady´s back was facing Rory when she finally spoke up.

“Excuse me. Can you help me?” The nurse slowly turned around and Rory took a few steps back when she saw that the “nurse” was really a man with a beard in a costume.

“Sure what do you need?” His voice was low and gruff as he openly eyed Rory.

“Nevermind. I´m fine.” Rory turned on her heel and dashed down the hall until she skidded into someone in a lab coat. She almost barreled him over but her caught her by the shoulders and kept them up right.

“Woah there. Slow down. Where are you in a hurry to?” The man looked at Rory´s hunched form as she tried to catch her breath.

“I....need...help.” She sputtered out while gasping between breaths. She stood up and tried to speak but she was still more than little freaked out about the nurse dude. “My.... fri... Tristan... knee.. oww.”

“Woah, woah. Calm down, breath and tell me what you need.” Rory took a deep breath and was about to dive into her story when she heard a voice behind her.

“She wanted help for me.. but I´m fine.” Tristan was in a wheelchair being pushed by a guy a scrubs. Tristan gave Rory a little wave before he was wheeled into a room. She stood dumb founded for a moment before turning back to the doctor.

“I´m good for now. Thank you.” She turned around and peeked her head into Tristan´s room. The same guy who had been pushing his wheelchair was now handing Tristan a hospital gown. Rory stepped into the room, Tristan´s back was still turned to her as he took of his jacket. He was leaning against the hospital bed for support. She let out a small cough just as he was about to take off his shirt.

“Rory... I never knew that you were into voyeurism.” Tristan wiggled his eyebrows at her.

“It´s not to late for me to take out that other knee, so I´d keep your mouth shut.”

“As you wish my dear.”

“Oh give it a break. Your ‘charm,´ as you like to call it has no effect on me.”

“That may be so,” Tristan shrugged off his shirt and was disappointed when Rory didn´t react to the site of bare skin, “but I like to think it does none the less.”

Though she showed no visible reaction to Tristan´s bare chest, Rory was a bit surprised that she felt her heart beat a little harder.

*Hormones. Got to be the hormones. What normal girl wouldn´t get a bit jumpy when there´s a bare chested person of the male persuasion in close proximity. Definitely hormones.* “Rory. I´m taking off my pants now. You´re welcome to stay. But I have feeling that would not be you. So did you want something? Other than me of course.” He smirked again.

“No I don´t want you. I actually wanted to know if you wanted me to call your parents.” Tristan groaned when she mentioned his parents and muttered something under his breath that she couldn´t make out.

“What was that?”

“Oh... nothing.” Tristan slipped his shoes off and tried to find a way to get on the bed without hurting his knee even more. Rory saw his look of concentration and walked over to him. She offered him her arm to lean so it was easier for him to scoot onto the bed. He looked at her oddly for a second.

“What? My arm... offering to help.... take it.” Tristan scrunched his eyebrows one more time before finally letting her help him into bed. “So. Do you want me to call your parents or not?” Tristan leaned back against the pillows that were propped up.

“Sure.” He gave Rory his number and she left the room in search of a pay phone. Suddenly a thought came to her mind.

*MY CAR!*

She dashed outside to find her car still in the spot she left it. Rory let out a sigh of relief. She quickly parked the vehicle and headed back inside. Rory found a phone in the waiting area and dialed Tristan´s number. It rang a few times and Rory was about to hang up when the answering machine picked up.

“Hello. You have reached the DuGray resident. We are unable to come to the phone. Please leave a message after the tone. Thank you.”

Rory waited for the beep and left a brief message informing Tristan´s parents of his whereabouts before dialing her own mother. Lorelai picked up on the second ring.

“Independence Inn. Lorelai speaking how may I be of service?”

“Mom.”

“Rory honey. How are you?”

“In the hospital.”

“What!?!” Lorelai´s voice was filled with worry. “What happened? Are you all right? What happened? Rory darling everything will be fine.” Lorelai began spazzing.

“Mom. I´m fine.” Lorelai stopped her ranting.

“Oh.” She took a deep breath. “Then why are you in the hospital?”

“Long story. Just come to the Hartford ER and I´ll explain everything.”

“Ok on my way baby. You´re sure that you´re ok?”

“I´m fine mom.”

“Ok, see you in a jiff.” They hung up and Rory went back to Tristan´s room. He was flipping through the channels on the TV and was now underneath the blankets on the bed.

“You feeling any better?” Rory asked as she sat down in a chair across the room from him.”

“I´d feel better if they had ESPN.” Tristan angrily turned off the TV “You get a hold of my folks?”

“No.”

“Figures.” Tristan shrugged. The room was silent for a few minutes before Rory´s voice broke through.

“I´m sorry Tristan.”

“For what?”

“What do you think?” Rory´s eyes were full of annoyance. She regained her composure as she looked down at her feet.

“Rory I...” Tristan´s statement was cut off when the doctor entered the room.

“Well Mr. DuGray, you will be needing surgery.” The doctor stood over Tristan´s bed, chart in hand. Tristan let out a groan at the new information. “I don´t yet know how you did it, but you ripped quite a few ligaments in that knee of yours. How did you do it?”

“Stairs.” He looked at Rory and caught her eyes. “I fell down the stairs.”

“Must have been a nasty fall. We´ll talk more when your parents get here, have you contacted them yet?”

“I called them.” Rory´s meek voice spoke up from her chair. “There was no...” Before Rory could finish her statement Tristan interrupted her.

“They´re on there way.”

“Ok then. We´ll talk when they arrive.” The doctor closed the door behind after they left. The room was silent once again. And again it was Rory who broke the silence.

“Tristan I really am sorry. I´ll pay for the surgery.” Tristan looked at her in surprise at the last sentence.

“You´ll do no such thing Mary.”

“Just tell me how I can make it up to you?” Rory regretted that statement as soon as the words left her mouth. She could just see the gears in Tristan´s head churning out a plan.


PART FIVE

Tristan let out a small chuckle as an idea came to his mind. Rory took a step back when she saw the evil glimmer in his eyes.

“Ummm.... Tristan. You´re beginning to scare me.” Tristan let out a full fledge laugh with sent Rory stumbling back into a chair. Tristan stopped laughing for a moment, took one look at her befuddled expression and broke into laughter again. “Oh boy, I knew I should have kept my mouth shut.” Tristan finally settled down and took some deep breaths before calmly speaking to Rory.

“You want to make it up to me?” Rory nodded her head yes, afraid of what she may be getting herself into. “Well seeing as I´m already in bed and you....” Rory glared at him because she knew which direction this was heading in. He saw her expression and stopped. “....or not. I was just kidding Rory. Sheesh. Now my real idea is that since I´m going to be handicapped for awhile, I think that you should help me out a bit.” Rory look at him questioningly.

“What do you mean.?” She resettled herself in her chair to appear a bit more dignified.

“Well knee surgery means that I´m going to be on crutches for a bit, meaning I won´t have any free hands...” He wiggled his eyebrows suggestively, “...to do...things....” Rory´s mouth dropped in shock at what he was hinting.

“You jerk. How dare you think that....”

“...like carry my books and such.” Rory shut up. “So, you could give me a hand until I´ve fully recuperated.”

“I don´t know...” Rory chewed on one of her fingernails while she thought Tristan´s plan over.

“You did cause my pain Rory, the least you could do is to compensate for the damages.” Rory knew that there had to be something else. She glared at him while she tried to figure the ulterior motive behind his plan.

“How do I know you won´t just turn me into your slave?” Rory stood up and began to pace the room. “How do I know that you won´t turn this into another ‘treat Rory like crap´ situation?”

“You´ll just have to trust me.” Tristan´s head followed Rory back and forth as she crossed the room over and over again. He was hypnotized by the pensive look on her face, and the glow she gave off.

“Trust you?!?” Rory let out a snort. “Right.... I´m not stupid Tristan.”

“I never said you were.”

“So why do you expect me to trust you?” Rory stopped pacing and placed her hands on her hips and look Tristan straight in the eye. “You´ve never given me reason to before.”

“Well... you said you were giving me a second chance.” Tristan crossed his arms defiantly and stared back at her deep blue eyes that were burning a hole into his soul.

“I´m beginning to rescind that decision.” She resumed her pacing.

“Ok. What if I guarantee that I won´t use this situation to torture you?”

“Being around you is torture enough.” Tristan winced at her harsh words and Rory saw his reaction. “Sorry... I didn´t mean that.”

“Yes you did. But I deserved it.” Tristan paused. “So... are we in agreement?”

“Will you shake on it.” Tristan nodded and stuck out his hand in a peace offering. Rory slowly walked up to him, but eyes his hand suspiciously.

“It doesn´t bite. Deal?” Rory took his outstretched hand and shook it firmly. Rory felt a shock travel up her arm when their hands made contact, but she shrugged it off as static electricity.

“Deal.”

“Are you sure you didn´t need my help?” Rory jumped when she heard the voice of the “nurse” she ran into earlier. She turned to find him being guided to the bed next to Tristan´s.

“No... I´m fine.” Rory backed away to the other side of Tristan´s bed, attempting to hide from the man who was now being place in restraints in bed. Tristan hid his amused smile.

“How do you know him?” Tristan whispered to Rory as she hid behind him.

“We had a little run in while you were in the car. How did you get in here anyways?” Tristan laughed when all thoughts of the “nurse-man” where washed from her face.

“Well funny thing is all I had to do was call out to the interns who were playing basketball and ask for help.” Rory´s face contorted in a confused mass of wrinkles.

“What interns, I don´t remember seeing any interns.” Rory took a seat in a chair that was next to Tristan´s bed.

“Perhaps that was because you were too busy telling me to stay put to notice them.” Rory was about to respond when the door to the room opened once more.

“Rory! You are all right, you weren´t lying to me.” Lorelai ran to Rory and swept her up into a death-grip of a hug. “Why aren´t you saying anything?”

“Because you´re cutting off my air-supply.”

“Oh, silly me.” Lorelai released Rory and looked over at Tristan. “Who are you? Who´s he?”

“Tristan DuGray.” Lorelai´s purse dropped to the ground and her eyes blazed anger as she slowly crept her way to Tristan.


PART SIX

Rory bit her bottom lip as she thought about how to stop her mother from strangling the life out of Tristan. She watched as Lorelai stopped next to his bed and stared him in the eye. She leaned forward, closing the space between her and Tristan. Lorelai´s hand slowly reached out. Tristan attempted to back away, he saw fire in Lorelai´s eyes and was on the verge of screaming out.

“Hello. My name is Lorelai Gilmore.” Lorelai grabbed one of Tristan´s hand and shook it, but he was too much in shock to respond. “Rory is my daughter, and if you terrorize her once more this hand of mine will be wringing your pretty-little-rich-boy neck.” Tristan closed his eyes and let out a sigh of relief. Lorelai saw this and look at him sternly. “Don´t get to comfortable yet. I´m not as forgiving as Rory is bible-boy.”

“Bible-boy?” Tristan had a genuine look of confusion on his face.

“Don´t play coy with me young man. I know about the Mary thing. Rory tells me many things about you.”

“Oh she does, does she.” Tristan eyed Rory. Lorelai grabbed his chin and turned his face towards her. Tristan became petrified once again.

“You will not to that again mister. Is that understood?” Tristan nodded his head that was still in Lorelai´s grasp. Rory hid a chuckle. The site of Tristan, helpless under her mother´s glare, was almost to much for her to take. “As for your past conduct, I´m willing to forgive you.... if you apologize to Rory.” Lorelai crossed her arms and waited for those sweet words to come out of Tristan´s mouth.

“I´m sorry Rory.” Tristan was looking straight at her, and even though he was forced to do it, his apology had come from the heart, and he meant every word of it. Somehow Rory sensed this. She gave Tristan a small smile.

“Thank you. But don´t do it again, or you´ll get more than some torn ligaments.”

“Good, now that we´re done with that...” Lorelai pulled the chair next to Tristan´s bed closer and took a seat. “...tell me how you came to be in this precarious position, and why my daughter didn´t use this situation to her advantage and torture you on the spot.” Lorelai sucked in a deep breath after babbling that all out in one try.

*Now I know where Rory gets it.*

“I took an unexpected trip down the stairs.” Tristan gave Rory a knowing look and Rory, on her part, just blushed. “Let´s just say it is one vacation that I´d like to not repeat.” Lorelai nodded her head thoughtfully, having been totally oblivious to the hidden meaning that was shared between he two teenagers.

“A sense of humor... I like that. But it still doesn´t make-up for anything. How did this little fall occur?” Rory winced, she did not want her mother to learn this early that she had caused it, but Rory was saved. The door to the room barged open and two people sauntered in, followed my two arguing doctors. Rory and Lorelai had no idea who they were, but Tristan groaned when he recognized his parents. Tristan´s mother immediately ran up to him.

“Tristan baby, are you all right?”

“Yeah mom, I´m in a hospital and I need surgery. I´m perfect.” Rory winced as she heard the bitter cynicism dripping from Tristan´s voice. Tristan´s mother continued to speak to him, ignoring the two other females in the room. Lorelai wouldn´t stand for it. She cleared her throat to gain Mrs. DuGray´s attention. Her head spun away from Tristan and fell onto Lorelai.

“Who are you?”

“Lorelai Gilmore.” They shook hands. “My daughter brought Tristan to the hospital. We were just waiting for you to arrive and now that your here I guess we´ll be leaving.” Tristan´s head jerked out of the clouds as soon as he heard it. Lorelai and Rory began to leave the room.

*She can´t go yet!*

“Wait.” Tristan´s voice stopped the two Gilmores in their tracks. His call was filled with desperation. “I need to talk to Rory about something.” Rory had a confused look on her face, but judging by the look on Tristan´s face, he did not want to be left alone.

“Ok. We´ll stay. We´re just going to run down to the cafeteria to get some coffee.” Lorelai motioned to the door. “Mr. and Mrs. DuGray... would you like anything?” Tristan´s parents politely declined. The girls exited the room and left Tristan to deal with his parents and two arguing doctors. Tristan buried his head in his hands and sighed.


PART SEVEN

“What do you mean he has to have surgery?!?” Tristan´s father yelled at the doctors. There loud conversation droned on, but Tristan ignored it all.

His parents were nice people, but they just didn´t know how to be parents. He knew that they loved him and would do anything for him, but they just didn´t know how to show him the love that he needed.

They gave him every material thing he had ever wanted. His parents thought that the more they gave him, they happier he´d be. But with ever new CD or game cartridge or piece of sport equipment that they bought him they more he just wished that they would sit down and talk to him. Not the stiff conversations they had at dinner every night, but a simple conversation where everyone had fun.

His parents had a happy marriage, but they never really saw each other. Both were busy with their respective careers and when they did see each other no one wanted to cause an argument so any topic that may spark one was avoided. This included everything from the color of the living room walls to what college Tristan would go to.

For the most part his parents let him do whatever he wanted. He didn´t have a curfew and was given free reign on the credit card and cars. They just expected him to check in every now and then. They set no ground rules for their son, afraid that he might see this as them trying to hamper on his lifestyle, thus causing a painful argument which disturb the peace.

What Tristan really wanted was a relationship with his parents that allowed for conversations about school and swimming and movies and things of that sort. An open relationship where he could show how much he truly loved his parents, and they could show how much they loved him.

His family was like the British monarchy. An air of superiority must be upheld. They must not show any signs of weakness. And surely, to his parents, hugging their son in public showed that they were softies, and in turn weak. No one could see them cry or argue or show any emotion other than that of strength. In essence an stiff upper lip.

Tristan knew he was lucky that his parents did love each other. Unlike some of his other friends who had to put up with parents who only stayed together to avoid scandal and public humiliation. He came home to a house that was not at war, but still held it´s own coldness. Showing no emotions in public was one thing, but having it carry over into their home was another. Tristan longed to be hugged and soothed. Not only physically, but emotionally as well.

Tristan looked out the window of his room. His parents intentions were good, but he wanted more than they could give. They grew up in an environment where love was a foreign feeling, and even though they had tried to overcome their upbringing, a sense of distance was still felt. Tristan saw Lorelai and Rory coming down the hall towards the room. He watched as they laughed and talked to each other like there was no one else in the world that they needed to be happy, as long as they had each other. And that sentiment was probably true.

Tristan saw how Rory´s eyes lighted up as her mother regaled her with a story that would surely become a cherished memory. Tristan had asked Rory to stay for no other reason than the fact that, by just looking at her, he felt a warmth radiating through him. A warmth and love, that even with each glare he received, he longed for. The warmth that he had been lacking for sixteen years, until she came into his life.

The moment he had first laid eyes on her beautiful face he knew she was different. She was surrounded by cold and manipulative people, and she was a ray of sunshine in the permanent thunderstorm that was Chilton. He knew that some of his classmates, though they could be kind, were social climbers. They would find anyway the could to gain social status and monetary value. He was sick of the shallowness, but he had known nothing else, and went along with it.

Her entrance into his life had given him a chance to change. He wanted to let her in, but it was difficult for him. Tristan never entered a relationship, friendly or otherwise, that he could not run. He was afraid of Rory because she would do what she wanted, and not what others dictated her to do. Tristan was cautious when it came to Rory, because he was afraid of being rejected, fearful of being hurt.

Yet, even with the pain she could cause him, he still went after her. He admitted to himself that he was going about it the wrong way, but he still held that lingering fear that if he gave in too much, and she did crush his heart, then he would never be able to recover.

The truth was the Tristan wanted more than anything to let Rory in. She intrigued him like no one else ever had. Other students from backgrounds similar to hers had been let into Chilton before, but they had always been sucked into some group at the school that brainwashed them into thinking popularity was power. Rory had resisted all of that. He saw that she would rather be the outcast of the school than become a puppet for others exploit for themselves, and he admired her for it.

Tristan let out a loud sigh when he saw Lorelai and Rory hug outside his room. They weren´t afraid to show their affection for one another. He wanted their relationship with his parents. Tristan´s mothered looked at her son and saw the distant look in his eyes.

“Tristan, sweetheart. Are you ok?” Tristan´s eyes followed Rory when she entered the room, a smile playing upon his lips.

“I´ll be fine mom. I´ll be fine.”


PART EIGHT

Rory halted the car in her spot and stared over at the person sitting next to her. No words were passed between the two, but more was said in her glare than could be expressed in words. The passenger made no move to exit the vehicle, they just sat their and smirked back at her. Rory let out a huff and climbed out of the car and walked over to the passenger side of the car. They still made no move to exit. Rory grabbed to door handle and swung it open. Her passenger smiled.

“Not only can I not believe that you are making me pick you up everyday, but now you want me to open the door for you.” Rory crossed her arms and stuck out her hip defiantly. She stared at the occupant of the car. Tristan.

“What would you have me do? Walk? You know I can´t drive?” He gingerly lifted his leg, which was now encased in a cast out of the car, followed by a pair of crutches.

“There is such a thing as public transportation.” Rory grabbed her backpack out of the back seat and threw it over her shoulder.

“Yes, but do I look like the public transportation type to you?” Tristan turned as best he could on crutches, attempting to look suave. Rory had to hold in a laugh. To her Tristan looked like a penguin with motor control problems.

“No you don´t look like that type. Public transportation is too good for you now that I think about it.” Tristan feigned pain.

“That hurt Rory really. Watch your mouth or tomorrow you may not get coffee like you did today.” Tristan use a crutch to point at the cup in her hand. “You´ll just have to use me as your caffeine jolt.” Rory shook her head in disdain.

“You are too much to handle.”

“That´s what I´ve been told.” Rory glared at him.

“I don´t know what´s going to be worst. Having to cater to your whims, or having to deal with that enormous ego.”

“I´m sure you´ll be able to deal.” Rory shook her head back and forth at Tristan´s comment. She grabbed his bag from the car and slammed the door shut. Tristan resituated himself on the crutches and they made their way towards Chilton´s main entrance. As they entered the halls Rory´s thoughts drifted back to when she had re-entered Tristan´s hospital room.

She had seen the desperate look on his face and decided to keep him entertained with random conversation while his parents talked with the doctors. Surprisingly she had a genuine good time with Tristan. When he wasn´t trying to be the king of the world he was actually a decent guy. Rory was confused about why he acted like a jerk one moment, and was a total sweetheart the next. The theory of male PMS was the only thing that came to her mind.

She had gone home that night and laid awake in bed for hours. Thinking about that day. About the accident. About... Tristan. It was weird. She had offered him a second chance, and he still acted like a jerk... and yet now, she willing to let him try again.

Rory shook the thoughts from her mind and they walked into the building. Tristan halted at the bottom of the stairs. It had been two days since he had fallen down them and now he had to go up them again. Tristan´s mind flashed back to yesterday. Rory had come to the hospital before school to see him before his surgery.

*Why did she do that?*

She had come back after school to keep him company while the anesthesia wore off. He wasn´t sure if he was dreaming at first when he opened his eyes and saw her beautiful face staring at him. Her blue eyes seemed to be entranced with his features, just like he was with her. He had whispered her name and she had simply brushed his hair back. They sat in silence for an hour until he decided that he was awake enough to put together a coherent sentence. Just like the day before they had talked about the most random of topics. She had gone home when his parents came to take him home, but his thoughts remained on her.

“Tristan?” Rory´s voice carried him away from his daydream. She was waving her hand in front of his face. “Did the anesthesia not wear off?” Tristan shook his head in attempt to bring himself back to the present.

“No... I think they used the heavy duty stuff.” Rory laughed. Tristan loved her laugh. It was so full of spirit. The way her mouth curled at the corners, her eyes dancing with light. They began to make their way up the stairs. Students stared at the pair. Rory and Tristan... together... it was normal. Tristan took his time and Rory had her hand on his back in case he began to lean backwards. Tristan was becoming light headed from her touch.

He sighed in relief. Not only were the stairs over, but Rory removed her hand. Any longer and he would have said hell to the crutches and wrapped his arms around her. They were stopped at his locker when Paris walked by. Rory was sure she was going to get screamed at. Paris was not one to be happy when Tristan and her were together. But to her surprise Paris didn´t even seem to notice.

“Morning Rory. How are you doing Tristan?” His head was buried in his locker and he handed a book to Rory so she could but it in his bag.

“Fine. I´ve got myself some help.” His hand pointed to Rory.

“That´s nice of her.” Paris´ voice was genuinely happy, not a hint of sarcasm. Rory was bewildered as to way Paris was so nonchalant. Her question was answered when Robert stepped up behind Paris.

“Hey Paris. We still on for lunch?” Paris´ eyes snapped to Robert and she smiled widely.

“You bet.”

“Great! Walk you to class?” Robert offered his arm.

“Sure.” She took it and waved to Rory as she walked away. Tristan had closed his locker during the whole scene. His brow was furrowed with wrinkles as he tried to figure out what had just happened.

“What just happened here? Did Paris just....” His words trailed off as he thought.

“That was Robert. Methinks Paris has found someone.” Tristan hid a laugh when he saw Rory wiggle her eyebrows.

“Methinks your right. Got your stuff?” Rory nodded. “Good. Let´s get to class.”

They took their seats in first period English and directed their attention to the teacher. She was writing something on the board, but her body obstructed what it was. The entire class groaned when she moved.

“That´s right class. Test on Shakespeare´s plays next Friday.” Tristan looked over at Rory who was making a note of something. Her hand brushed back a loose strand of hair. A smile slowly crept up on Tristan´s lips as he plotted.


PART NINE

“Mom! I´m home.” Rory shut the front and made her way to her room. Lorelai came out from the kitchen. ever present coffee mug in hand. She kissed Rory on the forehead.

“Hey honey. Where were you?” Rory tossed her bookbag on her bed before grabbing a cup of coffee herself. She took a seat at the kitchen table.

“Mrs. Kim let Lane out of her solitary confinement and we went to Luke´s for some coffee.”

“Without ME!” Lorelai stated over dramatically as she flopped down in a chair. Rory stared at her mother over the brim of her cup. Lorelai´s bottom lip was beginning to creep foreword in a pout. “Are you gonna make it up to me?”

“Mom.” Lorelai´s lip scooted forward a bit more.

“Pwease.” She made her lip tremble a little.

“Mom. Don´t give that look.” Lorelai sniffled and her lip trembled even more. “Fine, I´ll take you to Luke´s later tonight if you just stop with the face.” Rory looked away in disgust. The pout on Lorelai´s face was immediately replaced with a massive grin.

“So honey.... how was school?”

“School was school.” Lorelai crossed her arms at her daughter´s answer.

“You gonna give me more than that?”

“Wasn´t planning on it.” Rory took one last sip of her coffee and placed the empty mug in the sink before heading towards the leaving room. Lorelai watched her daughter leave and then hurriedly went after her.

“Why not? Did Tristan do something to you. Because I swear if he did I could find some interesting things to do with that coffee grinder that we have.” Rory glared at her mother.

“It wasn´t Tristan.”

“Or there were those hot dog tongs that could be used to....´

“It wasn´t Tristan.”

“But I´m now getting a vision that involves a ten gallon drum with a small whole in the top, and a whole lot of Vaseline....” Lorelai giggled to herself at the thought.

“MOM!” Lorelai shook her head to free her mind.

“What?”

“It wasn´t Tristan.”

“Oh! Well in that case..... what´s wrong?” Lorelai sat down on the sofa next to Rory and threw her arm around her daughter, pulling her close. Rory raised an eyebrow at her mother.

“Nothing is wrong. Is it so hard to believe that I didn´t have a bad day at Chilton?”

“Well...ummm... Yes.” Rory glared at her mother before she wiggled out of her mother´s grasp, and began pacing the room. Lorelai´s head followed Rory back and forth. Rory was biting her bottom lip and every now and then would brush her hand through her hair. “Ok, I believe you when you say nothing is wrong with Chilton, but something is wrong, or you wouldn´t be pacing like this. So spill it girl.” Rory stopped for a brief second before she resumed pacing.

“Well you see the thing is..... I´m having these... how do I put it... there´s this guy.... well no... ok yes....” Rory was having trouble putting her thoughts into complete and understandable sentences. “Have you ever... no.... ummm... Feelings... guy... not a normal experience.”

“Rory. Take a deep breath and spit it out. I´m feeling like I´m watching Wimbledon as I watch you pace. My neck can´t take the strain.” Rory took a deep breath and started again.

“I´m having these weird feelings....” Rory was unable to finish her thought because the phone rang. After a quick search they found the phone underneath a sofa cushion. Rory grabbed the phone before her mother could, and answered.

“Hello.”

“Hey.” Rory froze when she recognized the voice. Her eyes stared off into space. Lorelai cocked an eyebrow at the surprised expression on Rory´s face.

“To what do I owe the pleasure of this call?” Rory plopped down on the sofa with a huff.

“So my call is a pleasure, I´ll make sure to do this more often.” Rory rolled her eyes. “I know you just rolled your eyes.”

“I did not.” Tristan´s voice was full of cockiness.

“Yes you did. I made a comment that would make you roll your eyes, so I know that you did.”

“I did not.” Rory bit on her bottom lip.

“Whatever. I didn´t call to argue with you about eye rolling.”

“Then why did you call?” Lorelai was very confused at her daughter´s actions. Hearing only one side of the conversation wasn´t helping either. It was time´s like these that she wished they had another phone.

“You know our English test....”

“Yeah.” Rory nodded as if Tristan could see her.

“Well I was wondering if you wanted to study together?”

“Do you not recall me saying that studying was a solitary activity.” Lorelai sat down next to Rory and put her ear up to the back of the phone, in an attempt to hear better. Rory backed away.

“I have selective hearing.”

“So I´ve noticed.” Rory pushed her mother away from the phone. Lorelai fell off the couch in the process.

“Well.... my parents are going to be gone on Saturday and I´m going to need help around the house, so I figured we could study as well.”

“Don´t you have a Jeeves to help you out?”

“A Jeeves?”

“A butler, manservant, handmaid... whatever you want to call him.”

“No. We´re rich, not into servitude.”

“I see.”

“Is that a yes?”

“Did that sound like a yes?” Rory swatted away her mother´s hand when she made a grab for the phone. Lorelai returned to a some what normal seated position on the couch.

“Great. See you Saturday.” Tristan hung up before Rory had a chance to argue. Rory look at the phone dumbfoundly when the dial tone rang in her ear.

“What was that all about?” Lorelai bounced up and down on the sofa. A reaction from an anxiousness to figure out this mystery, and an overdose of caffeine.

“Well you know those feelings I was talking about..... they just go weirder.”


PART TEN

Rory´s hand was poised to knock on the door, but she slowly pulled away. She ran her hand through her hair and sighed loudly. Her feet had minds of their own as they carried her back and forth across the entrance way.

*What are you so nervous about? It´s just Tristan..... it´s just.... Tristan. You´ve been with him all week, and though while he was still a completely jackass at times... he was nicer. The Mary´s were few and far between. He even gave you some genuine smiles. It´s just Tristan, Rory. He won´t kill you and being with him won´t kill you. You´ve actually enjoyed the time you´ve spent with him. Calm down. It´s just Tristan for God sakes. Why are you like this. It´s not like you have a crush on him.*

Rory stopped dead in her tracks when that last thought went through her mind. She took a deep breath to resettle her nerves, it didn´t help much.

*Crush? On Tristan? Not possible. There was only that one time. That single, solitary, unwanted, meaningless kiss. You were upset over Dean. He was there. He´s not even that cute... ok that was a lie. He´s extremely cute. Wait. Mental slap, get back online Rory. Kiss.... Bad. You were weak at that moment, You were trying to cheer him up, ok not in that way, but still. It meant nothing, nothing at all. Not a thing...... Then why am I rationalizing it?*

Rory let out an exasperated groan and her hands gripped the sides of her head like a vice. Her breathing which had been shallow and quick paced began to slowly return to normal. Her hands released the death grip that they had on her head, and she slowly began to massage her temples to relief that tension that was ever increasing.

*Just knock on the damn door and get it over with. Just do it Rory!*

Rory walked to the front door. Staring at it for along second before she knocked loudly. She could hear taps on the floor inside. Her breath quickened when the handle turned, but she had to keep from gasping when she saw Tristan standing before her. Her eyes were wide as she took him in.

He was wearing a short-sleeved, light blue button down shirt that highlighted his eyes. The buttons were recklessly undone to show a white wife-beater that clung to his chest like a second skin. It gave Rory just a hint of flesh that made her yearn to see more. Her eyes slowly shifted southward. He was wearing tan cargo pants that hung low on his hips giving Rory a glimpse of his red polka dotted boxers. Her eyes drifted upward again to meet Tristan´s face. His eyes sparkled in amusement. His lips were hiding a smile that he surely wanted to giver her for openly checking him out, but he couldn´t say anything because he was doing the same thing.

Tristan knew it was Rory at the door, but he hadn´t prepared himself for her breathtaking beauty. His gaze was drawn directly to her strikingly blue eyes, that still gave him chills everytime he looked at them. When he noticed her eyes float across him it sent waves of sparks jolting through his body. His eyes drifted on their own over her figure. She was wearing a red T-shirt that clung to her in all the right places. Her dark blue jean shorts hugged her hips, and were low enough to allow a thin strip of skin to be seen the shorts and shirt. His hand was itching to reach out a caress her stomach. He dragged his eyes away from her stomach and they landed on her long and shapely legs, that didn´t do much to calm him down. She was wearing sneakers and white socks and right there and then he had the urge to give her a foot massage. His eyes drifted up to hers. When the both met no words were passed. The situation grew tense and Tristan had to literally hit himself to get his mouth to say something.

“Come in.”

“Huh.” Rory looked around to see that she was still outside. “Oh right.” Rory stepped into the foyer, a sheepish grin on her face. Tristan showed her to the living room and she dropped her bag on one to three white couchs. ”So.....” Rory began. “Where do we start?”

“Well....” Tristan dropped his crutches on the floor. He flopped on his back onto the soft cushions of one of the open couches. “I know you.... you´ll want coffee.... my parents left some brewing in the kitchen. Then we.... “ Tristan stopped when he noticed that Rory had dashed out of room. A few moments later he saw her walking down the hall, steaming coffee mug in hand

“As you were saying.” She leaned against the entrance way, her position showing a bit more skin on her stomach. Rory took a sip from her mug. Tristan had to stifle a groan when Rory licked a drop of coffee off the rim. His mind was on hormone overload.

“Well... I figured we could break out the books and see why this Willy Shakespeare guy is so important.”

“Let´s!” Rory collapsed on the couch. She sat her coffee down and retrieved her study materials from her bag and they set to work.

Two hours later they were still at it. Grilling each other on plays and characters, themes and settings, and anything else they could think of. They were sitting on opposite ends of the same couch, staring each other down.

“Name the play that this line comes from: A poor player who struts and frets his hour upon the stage.”

“Macbeth.”

“Oh brave new world that has such people in it.” Tristan faked a yawn.

“The Tempest... come on Rory.” Tristan leaned forward, he was now within touching distance. “Hit me with a hard one.” He wiggled his eyes suggestively. Rory snorted and covered her smile with her notebook, but she was still able to peer over the edge and see Tristan´s face. His eyes were dancing with light.

“Ok.... Good pilgrim, you do wrong your hand too much, which mannerly devotion shows in this; For saints have hands that pilgrim´s hands do touch, and palm to palm is holy palmers´ kiss.” Rory finished the last part by memory as she stared into Tristan´s intense gaze.

“Have not saint´s lips, and holy palmer´s too?” Tristan was inching closer to Rory.

“Ay, pilgrim, lips that they must use in prayer.” Rory fought to catch her breath as Tristan grew nearer. His hand reached out and pushed down the notebook that was blocking her face.

“O, then, dear saint, let lips do what hands do...” Tristan´s last words came out in a breathy tone as he leaned into Rory. She was frozen in a trance and did not flinch when Tristan´s hand caressed the side of her cheek. She leaned into his touch reveling in the warmth it provided. Rory felt Tristan´s warm breath on her lips and she wanted to lean in and finish off the job. A growl suddenly echoed through the silent room.

*Rory! What the hell are you doing?*

Rory jerked back a tad from Tristan and tried to suppress a giggle. But it turned into a full fledge laugh before long. Tristan leaned back into the couch in defeat. Rory made her way to the kitchen.

“Where are you going?”

“I´m going to get something to make that stomach of your happy.” She disappeared from the room and Tristan let out a load groan as his hands pushed back his hair.

“That is the last time I skip breakfast.” Tristan sat in the living room alone for a few minutes. He heard clatters and the sound of running water coming from kitchen. Above all the usual kitchen noise he heard a soft humming drift this way. The notes carried him off the couch. He picked up his crutches and hobbled his way to the kitchen. When Tristan arrived he was rewarded with the sight of Rory on her tiptoes looking through the cabinets for something. He enjoyed the vision of her slightly bobbing to the tune she was humming for a few moments.

“What are you looking for?” Rory let out a small shriek.

“TRISTAN!” She yelled at him at him playfully before returning to her search.

“I always knew that I´d have you screaming out my name one day.” Rory stopped to glare at him

“Need I remind you that you are still an invalid. One who couldn´t escape very quickly.” Instead of backing away Tristan inched closer.

“Who says I would want to escape?” He inched foreword even closer. Quickly closing the gap between Rory and himself.

“Ummm...”

“Because right now that is the last thing on my mind.” His hand brushed a piece of hair over Rory´s shoulders before his hand traveled slowly up her neck. Rory´s breath caught in her throat when his thumb ran over her bottom lip. His eyes traveled from her trembling lips to her eyes. They held a mix of emotions, from confusion to anger to need. It was the need that he was playing on. Both of his hands were now cupping her cheeks which long ago had turned a delightful shade of red. Rory´s eyes had yet to leave his.

“Tristan?” Rory´s voice was hushed and quivering. It was right now that he was glad he had crutches because they were the only thing holding him up when his legs turned to jello at that moment. Rory was stalling and the spoon in her hand kept on tapping his leg. Her breath came in short gasps, and this only encouraged Tristan more. He leaned in, but that damn spoon suddenly made an appearance in front of his face. “So that water is taking a long time to boil....”

Her voice was nervous as she stepped away from his embrace. Tristan stared at the floor. She obviously was into what was going on, but Tristan decided to play along. “Yeah it is. Water does that sometime.”

For the rest of the afternoon they slipped into studying and playful banter. Tristan tried to bring up the subject of their “feelings” towards one another, but Rory always changed the subject. Rory glanced at her watch around 4p.m. and decided that was time for her to pack up. Tristan hobbled along side her to the door. She was already outside when she turned back to Tristan.

“Why did you ask me here today? You didn´t need my help at all.” Tristan looked at her confused face, and decided to tell the truth, even if she didn´t believe him.

“I didn´t want to go two whole days without seeing you.”

“Oh.” Rory brushed back a loose strand of hair. “Ok then. See you Monday.” Tristan leaned on the door as he watched her leave, obviously pondering what he had just said.


PART ELEVEN

“Would you hurry up Tristan. You´re being such a slow poke.” Rory got behind Tristan and began pushing him down the hall.

“Hey, I´m on crutches here.” Tristan stated.

“I´ve seen you break the land speed record on those things.” Rory stopped pushing and walked beside Tristan instead. “You aren´t afraid of the hospital are you?”

“No.... I´m not afraid of the hospital.” Tristan looked straight ahead. “Especially with all those nurses in those cute uniforms.” He smirked as he turned to Rory and was rewarded with a glare and a smack on the back of his head.

“You are such a guy.”

“Thank you. Glad that you noticed.” Rory rolled her eyes as they approached the check-in counter. “Hi. Tristan DuGray here to see Dr. Foster.” Tristan looked at Rory out of the corner of her eye.

“Rory. I have an injured knee, I can speak for myself, my mouth doesn´t need to be operated on.” He grabbed the forms from the nurse and began filling them out.

“Good thing, because I don´t think your tongue could go a week without wrestling.”

“I´ve resisted the urge for much longer than that.”

“Oh really? Enlighten me with a memory of an extended period of time that you went with out kissing anyone.” Tristan handed back the forms and racked his memory.

“I didn´t kiss anyone this summer.” Tristan´s voice was shaky. Rory gave him a look of disbelief as they sat down in the waiting area. He stammered to cover his lie. “Well, no kisses that actually meant anything.”

“So you use girls.... kiss them.... and it doesn´t mean anything? How do you sleep at night?” Rory´s tone went from slightly amused to dejected in mere seconds.

“On my right side. Usually in boxers.”

*Boxers.... that´s it.....mmmmm....wait Rory get back on track here.*

“Tristan, I know I speak for most women when I say that right now you are a disgrace to the human race. You play with people´s emotions and lead them on, and then drop them when you´ve had your fill.”

“Wait a minute don´t make me out to be the bad guy. Those girls know exactly what they are getting into.”

“Do they? Because most of them are probably thinking ‘I´m going to be the one he changes for.´ And then when you don´t they are crushed. Have you ever once felt anything for a girl beyond how good she was in bed?” Tristan stared wide eyed at Rory. His mouth dropped open as he tried to find the words to tell her exactly what he felt for her. How much he needed her. How much more he loved her every time she smiled or laughed. How much he wanted to be the one she thought of. How much he loved her. Rory stared at him, annoyed look on her face, demanding an answer.

“Rory I....”

“Mr. DuGray the doctor will see you now.” A nurse called to the pair from a door that led to the examination rooms.

*Saved!*

Tristan got up out of the chair as quickly as humanly possible. He grabbed his crutches and made his way towards the nurse. He stopped suddenly when he noticed that Rory was not behind him. He turned to face her.

“You coming?” His head jerked towards the door.

“I wasn´t planning on it.”

“Why not?”

“Well seeing your face right now makes me think of some inventive ways of using a pair of tweezers and duck tape.” Tristan visibly recoiled as a mental image popped into his head. “But.... if I get to me alone with you in a room.... then maybe those tongue depressors could be used in new ways.”

“I´m beginning to rethink my offer.” Tristan´s lips slowly climbed into his trademark smirk. “But I also like the idea of being alone with you in a room.... that has a bed.”

“That´s an examining table.” Rory smacked him as a blush slowly creeped up her cheeks.

“Bed.... table... what´s the difference.” Tristan wiggled his eyebrows. The nurse showed them to the room and handed Tristan a gown.

“I´ll wait outside.” Rory made a beeline for the door, but Tristan´s stern voice stopped her.

“No you won´t.”

“Tristan I don´t think that I...”

“You see this curtain here?” Tristan wiggled the fabric, as Rory nodded. “Look at what it does.” With one quick jerk the curtain flew along it´s track and split the room in half. Rory took a seat in a chair in the corner of the room, thinking of anything to keep her mind off the fact that Tristan was undressing mere feet from her. All attempts to clear her mind of him were dashed when she saw his shirt hit the ground. He leaned down to pick it up. Rory saw his toned arm and strong hand pick it up again and toss it in her direction. She caught it before it hit her in the face. Tristan winked at her from underneath the curtain.

“Naughty Rory. Having bad thoughts about me?” Rory did not answer, she clung to the shirt. It smelled of him. That added to her already overridden senses. She almost exploded when she heard the distinct sounds of a belt being unfastened. She fought to swallow when she saw his pants hit the floor. She closed her eyes, but it didn´t help much. She could smell his shirt, it was still warm. She could hear his breathing, and the sounds of him struggling to get the gown on. The last thing she needed was for him to ask her to tie it closed.

“Rory. I need your help.” The curtain swung open again. “I can´t get this last thing tied, could you do it for me?” Rory groaned. She missed the evil twinkle in Tristan´s eyes as she walked up to him.

“Which one it is?” He hands shook slightly.

“The top one.” Rory walked behind Tristan and grabbed the two strings. Tristan didn´t miss her fumbling hands. Rory worked as quickly as she could, but she was reveling in the warmth that he radiated. She about gave up when he took a deep breath and his broad shoulders lifted up and back down. Her hands were shaking so hard that the bow came undone.

“What´s taking you so long?” Tristan´s voice was deep and full of yearning, it almost sent Rory over the edge.

“It´s just a slippery little bugger.” Tristan felt Rory´s hand brush against his back. They both gasped at the contact that sent shivers to their toes. Rory struggled to regain her composure. How could show go from despising him one minute, to wanting to floor him the next. She quickly finished the bow and took her seat. Tristan lifted himself onto the bed and Rory saw just how sculpted his arms really were.

“Rory...”

“Tristan...” They both started at the same time. Tristan motioned for Rory to go, but the doctor came in before she had a chance to say anything. She noticed that Tristan scooted away from him, and it amused her. They check-up went normally and Tristan was looking very relieved until a nurse came in carrying a covered tray. His face went white.

“I don´t need a shot do I?” Tristan was shaking and Rory couldn´t help but giggle. He shot her an unamused glare.

“Big shot DuGray is afraid of needles. This is priceless.” Rory about fell out of her chair.

“They hurt, what do you want me to say. ‘Oh I love needles. It´s so fun to have long pointy things invade your body. I really love it when the liquid inside burns. It´s fun fun fun.´” The nurse held up the needle and Tristan leaned away. Rory got up out of her seat and walked to his side. She took his hand in his and gave it a gentle squeeze.

“Would it help if you had someone to comfort you?” Tristan just nodded his head. Any thoughts of the needle had disappeared when she touched him. Rory was like morphine at the moment. The nurse injected the shot and Tristan winced slightly, but his eyes never moved from Rory´s face.

“Done.” The nurse trashed the needle and left the room.

“There now that wasn´t so bad.” Rory squeezed his hand again. Tristan pouted.

“It still hurt.” Rory´s next moved surprised him. She leaned down to the spot where he was given the shot, and placed a gentle kiss on the skin there. Her lips barely grazed his arm, but he barely restrained himself from crushing his lips to hers.

“There... that´s better.” Rory slipped her hand out of his and tossed him his shirt. “Now get dressed so we can go study.” Tristan simply nodded as Rory closed the curtain. She slumped into her chair and stared at his silhouette.

*What the hell did I just do?*


PART TWELVE

“Come on Tristan concentrate. The test is tomorrow, you shouldn´t be pre-occupied with things.” They had been studying in the Stars Hollow Library for over an hour and Tristan had become restless. Somehow he ended up in the position he was now, Rory still couldn´t quite figure out how that had happened. He was sitting, well not really sitting, in a reclining chair. His casted was thrown over the armrest, his other leg was dangling over the top of the chair. His head was hanging off the front of the chair as he stared at Rory upside down. And somehow he had gotten a hold of goldfish that he was randomly hitting her with.

“Rory you know this information like the back of your own hand, there is no way that you are going to fail.” He flicked a goldfish at her, but she threw it back. Instead of letting it hit him he caught it with his mouth. The smirk appeared on his face.

“You are impossible. Where did you get those things anyways?” He flicked one more at her, it stuck in her hair. Rory glared at him before brushing it out.

“One must keep something to snack on in their bag. I for one have a thing for goldfish, thus the reason as to why I have access to them.” Tristan began humming the goldfish theme song and received another glare from Rory. His head bopped back and forth as he smiled at her.

“I beginning to think their is some form of illegal drug baked into those things.”

“What makes you say that?” He threw another goldfish at her, she caught it and popped it into her mouth.

“Oh I don´t know... maybe it´s the fact that you are sitting, I use that word loosely, in an odd position, and haven´t answered a single question without making it sound like your seeing the Queen of England.” She tipped her head to the side and stared down at him.

“Rory, my darling. You need not worry. These crackers have nothing laced in them. I´m merely enjoying everything wonderful that life has to offer. I need no drugs to see the beauty that is in front of me.” His eyes danced across her face and she blushed at his gaze. Rory cleared her throat when his eyes rested on her lips.

“So... umm....” Rory was unnerved by the look on Tristan´s face. It was the look that made her knees weak. His features softened. His eyes sparkled with light as the stared into hers. A smile played upon his lips. Rory let out a soft groan when his tongue ran along his bottom lip.

*Cold shower Rory, think very, very.* Tristan smiled at her. *VERY cold shower.*

Tristan slowly righted himself in his chair. His one leg came off the back and meet his other on the armrest. He but his arms behind his head and leaned back to look at Rory more closely. The window behind her sent the sunlight cascading into her, setting off a halo of light around her. She saw Tristan´s gaze and dropped her head down to study something on the table. He laughed to himself. She was biting her bottom lip, he noticed that she did that whenever she was thinking or embarrassed. Her hand unconsciously brushed a piece of hair behind her ear. Tristan thought she looked extremely kissable at that moment. She glanced up at him quickly but returned to studying the table when she saw that he was still looking at her.

She shook her head as if trying to rid herself of his gaze. Rory was trying to not look at Tristan, but it was difficult. Every now and then she would lift her eyes but she still saw him staring at her. With each glance she studied him a bit longer. The way he was casually situated in the chair. Chilton coat tossed on the floor, shirt unbuttoned and the sleeves rolled up. It was hard for her concentrate because she could still smell that shirt, she could still smell.... him.

“Rory.” No answer. “Rory?” Tristan got up out of his seat and hobbled his way to her, she still didn´t move or acknowledge his presence. He waved his hand in front of her face and she still didn´t move. She was off in dream land. Tristan took a seat beside her and brushed a strand of hair away from her ear. No movement. Tristan leaned his lips into her ear.

“What are you dreaming about?” Rory jumped away from him when his breath tickled her ear and sent shockwaves through her entire body. She swatted him away.

“Don´t sneak up on me like that.” A blush slowly creeped up her cheeks. Tristan´s hand reached out and lifted her chin so that she was staring right into his eyes. Her mouth tried to form words, but her voice didn´t back them out. With every passing second she grew weaker and weaker. His touch warming her all over.

“Rory, we need to talk about some things.” His thumb ran across her bottom lip. He was sick and tired of her pulling away. He knew that she felt something for him, or else she wouldn´t be trembling everytime he touched her. They way she studied him gave him even more hints. There was no more hurtful tone behind her bantering. Granted she had bitched him out in the hospital, but he deserved that. But what gave her away the most was the way she didn´t pull away until the last moment. He ran his thumb over he bottom lip one more time before it returned to her chin. He leaned in, but once again she pulled away just before his lips touched hers.

“Coffee? We can talk over coffee.” She grabbed her bag and was out the door before he could say anything.

“And once again she pulls away.” Tristan let out a frustrated groan before grabbing his things and following her out the door. They walked in silence as the made there way to where ever Rory was leading them. She opened the door to Luke´s an began to walk in, but was halted by Tristan´s voice.

“Rory, this is a hardware store.” He pointed up at the sign.

“No Tristan, this is Luke´s.” She opened the door wider so that he could see the inside of the diner.

“Oh.” He followed her in and they sat down at the counter. Luke walked up to Rory and smiled at her, but his smiled disappeared when he saw Tristan.

“Who are you?” Tristan trembled under the older man´s glare.

“Tristan DuGray sir.” Luke turned back to Rory.

“You let the evil one into my diner?” Rory´s shrug was the only answer he got. Tristan turned to face Rory.

“Evil one? I see my not so decent reputation precedes me.”

“Two coffees Luke.” Rory´s fingers drummed on the counter as Luke went to get the coffee. Luke set the cups in front of them, and Rory immediately took a long drink from hers. Luke noticed the crutches leaning against the counter.

“How did you get on those things?” Luke stared Tristan down.

“Rory put me there.” Luke beamed a smile at Rory before ruffling her hair.

“Good job. An incapacitated evil being. I like that idea.” Luke pondered the thought before going to help another customer. Tristan stared at Rory questioningly over the rim of his cup.

“Evil one? You care to explain that to me?” He set the cup down and leaned against the counter.

“Not really.”

“Please, I´m just yearning to hear how this name came about.” Rory didn´t get a chance to answer because Lorelai pranced into the diner. She took a seat next to Rory.

“He baby....” Noticing Tristan. “Bible-boy.” Lorelai and Rory lapsed into their normal conversation and Tristan was feeling extremely isolated. He picked up his crutches, threw enough cash on the counter to cover his coffee, along with Rory´s, and then left the diner. Rory noticed him leave, a look of disappointment on his face. Lorelai nodded her head in understanding. Rory jumped off the stool and followed him out the door. She saw him leaning against the outside wall of the diner. She walked up to him, but didn´t say anything.

Tristan new she was standing there, but it was a few minutes before he spoke. “Can you take me home now?”

“Sure.” They got into the car for a silent trip back to Hartford. No words were passed, but they understood each other completely.


PART THIRTEEN

Rory tapped her pen on her desk top unconsciously. She stared blankly at the paper on her desk. She had studied for a long time for this test, and yet she still drew a blank. She could hear the clock over the blackboard mocking her. It was ticking down the seconds, getting louder each time. Rory let out a frustrated groan.

Tristan heard her and look at her out of the corner of his eye. Noticing her tapping pen he reached out and placed his hand on hers. She stopped, and her eyes slid up his arm and over to his eyes. He gave her a look that said ‘Calm down.´ Rory closed her eyes and took a deep breath. Tristan squeezed her hand reassuringly, before quickly pulling it away when he saw the teacher turning towards them. They both returned to their tests. Rory´s attention span lasted long enough for her to answer all of 10 questions.

Her eyes slowly drifted back to Tristan. She studied his profile for a minute. His eyes attention was focused wholly on his test. Every now and then his tongue would come out a run across his bottom lip. Every time he did this Rory felt her heart beat a bit faster. Her eyes drifted from his profile to his hand. His strong handed gripped the pencil like it was a delicate ballerina as it drifted across the page. Tristan´s head began to turn towards her and she quickly shifted her gaze back to the test.

*Why is it that everytime he looks at me I feel all warm? Why do I get butterflies? Why do I not want him to stop? The only time this has happened before was with Dean, and that was so long ago. It´s only Tristan. The guy who made your life misery.... but you looked forward to it. Why is he having this affect on you?*

Rory struggled to recall her knowledge of William Shakespeare.

*Or Willy... as Tristan called him.* Groan. *Again with the Tristan. Get your mind off the man. Yes he´s hot.... oh god is he hot... but he´s not all that. You shouldn´t fail a test because can´t get your mind off of him.*

Tristan had glanced over at Rory when she had groaned. He knew she was having trouble concentrating, but he didn´t know why. Her pencil tapped on her desk causing a racket that was beginning to annoy several people. He noticed that she busy biting a finger on her left hand. Rory´s legs were bouncing up and down in frustration. He would have placed his hand on her knee to stop her were they not in the middle of a test. He saw her answer a few questions before letting out a deep sigh.

Rory glanced Tristan´s way and noticed that he was looking at her. She immediately turned back to her test and answered a few questions as a blush slowly creeped up her neck to her cheeks. Tristan hid a smirk when he saw her reaction. He finished his test and turned the paper over on his desk. He clasped his hands in front of him on the desk top and looked towards the front of the room, every now and then turning his head to catch glimpses of Rory. Rory saw that Tristan had finished her test and that made her even more frustrated.

*How can he be done? He was the one who was fooling around yesterday. Not me. Of course he isn´t fighting his feelings. Which is something that you shouldn´t be doing. Think English. Shakespeare. Sonnets. Drama. Tristan. No... concentrate. This is not a hard test, just put pencil to paper and get it done. There is no Tristan right now. He doesn´t exist. He is not sitting two feet from you. He is not done with his test. Because he does not exist. He is not staring at you. He is not.... woah... he´s staring at you!*

Rory looked over at Tristan again. His face was calm and collected and she was having a hard time pulling away. Before when she had been caught looking at him she had turned away immediately, but now.... Now there was something different him. The look on his face was something she had never seen before. When he had tried to kiss her all those times his eyes were on fire as they looked at her, Rory thought it was just the passion of the moment. But the look in his eyes now went far beyond fiery passion.

The look Tristan was giving to her was one of, dare she even think it, love. Like she was the only thing that he was seeing. Like they could have been in the middle of a hurricane, and he still wouldn´t notice. Tristan´s gaze burned into her and rocked her to the core. She couldn´t take her eyes off of him. She knew that time was running out and she had to finish the test, but none of that seemed to matter. The only thing she cared about at the moment was the way he was looking at her. She struggled to catch her breath and Tristan must have noticed because soon he was mouthing the words ‘Calm down,´ to her.

Rory closed her eyes and took a deep breath. She tipped her head away from Tristan and back to her test. She was on autopilot now. She finished the test, but the vision of Tristan´s face was the only thing she saw. The bell rang as Rory put the last period on her essay. She closed her eyes and let out a sight of relief. She sat in her seat until almost everyone was out the door. She walked up to the teachers desk and placed her test on it. By now she was the last one in the room. She started to head out the room, but a crutch came up and blocked her exit.

“Nice to know that you were waiting for me Tristan.” He peeked out from behind the doorway and hobbled into the room.

“Nice nothing. I need you to carry my backpack.” Rory gave him a look of disbelivement.

“How does carrying your backpack hamper you?”

“I just does.” Tristan said defiantly. Rory jutted her hip out and crossed her arms.

“Sure it does.” Rory said as she glared at him. Tristan searched his mind for a real reason as to why carrying his backpack would hurt his knee, but he couldn´t find one. So he did the next best thing. Made her uncomfortable by changing the subject. A smirk appeared on his lips. Rory saw the look and slowly backed away from him.

“So I noticed that you looked a little uncomfortable during the test. Something on your mind?” He inched his way towards her. Her jaw dropped.

“So... you want me to carry your backpack?” She grabbed it and walked out the door. Tristan let out a slight laugh and followed her out the door.


PART FOURTEEN

Rory opened the door to her house and practically ran to her room. She dropped her bag by the door and flopped, face down, onto the bed. She let out a loud groan that was muffled by her comforter. Her day had not gone at all like she expected. First there was her whole not-being-able-to-concentrate-on-the-test-because-you-were-thinking-about- someone´s-blue-eyes mood, and then Tristan had cornered her.

She should have known he knew something when he kept on looking at her, but no, her brain decided to be stupid and not think of the possibility that he might know she was beginning to see him in a new light. After the test all she wanted to do was try to erase the image of Tristan´s eyes burning into. But when he had cornered her in the classroom all she cared about was remaining standing.

Her knees were going weak everytime he opened his mouth and his smooth voice spoke to her. She was beginning to grow attached to him and his antics. The way he brushed back his hair, the way he licked his lips, hell, even the way he breathed was becoming addictive. They sparkle that danced in his eyes. His smile. Him, Tristan. He was getting to her, and it drove her crazy.

*Why did this have to happen? You were just suppose to help him out because you sent him flying down the stairs. You weren´t suppose to start having feelings for him.*

Rory rolled over on her bed and stared at the ceiling. Her forehead furrowed in concentration. Every feeling was so new. It was unlike anything that she had ever experienced before. The way she felt all tingly when he his skin contacted hers in even the slightest way. The way she felt like she could melt into the floor when he looked at her. And they way that she could almost loose herself in those moments when they were alone, and he was leaning in. But something told her not to do it. She felt like she would be betraying someone.

*But who? Dean? No you two split. Lorelai? Sure she calls him the evil one and bible-boy, but that´s only based on what you tell her. And even now she seems to be warming up to him. So who the hell could you be betraying?*

Rory stood up and began to pace her room. Her feet making the only noise in the entire house. She grumbled and sighed trying to figure out why she was feeling this way.

*Youself! You feel like you´d be betraying yourself. He treated you like crap. Called you Mary. All in all made your life a living hell. But even then. There was something then. Something in the way he looked at you. In the way he sounded when he spoke to you. There was something. There still is something. Dean always said that.... DEAN!*

Rory dashed out of the room and into the living room. Her eyes quickly scanned the room for the phone. Not finding she hit the locate button on the recharger. A muffled beep came from the far corner of the room. She dove into the pile of clothing and found the receiver tuck into the sleeve of a dirty shirt. She emerged from the pile, phone in hand, sock on head.

She shook her head and the piece of laundry tumbled to the floor. She pushed the first six digits of Dean´s phone number and was about to hit the seventh, but she couldn´t.

*What is he going to say when I ask him for help? With Tristan of all things. You can´t hurt him like that. He would never hurt you like that. Take that back. He did... but he didn´t want to. So maybe he´ll understand.*

Rory pushed in the last number and his phone began to ring. Five rings later she was about to hang up when someone answered.

“Hello.”

“Dean?”

“Rory?” There was audible shock in his voice. “How are you?”

“I´m fine...just dandy... everything´s great. Nothing wrong here....”

“Rory. Spit it out.” She could just see him grinning over the phone.

“I need help.”

“That wasn´t so hard. With what?” There was a long pause before Rory answered.

“I have some feelings to sort out, and I was wondering if you might be able to help me.”

“Guy problems.” Her silence confirmed his suspicions. He knew one day that she would ask for his help. He just wished it wasn´t so soon. It still hurt him to think that she wasn´t his. “Meet me at Luke´s in twenty minutes.”

“Thank you.” Rory heard the hurt tone in his voice, but was grateful that he was still helping her.

Twenty minutes later she found herself outside of the diner staring at Dean through the window. He was sitting at the counter getting a stare down from Luke and she could tell that she was uncomfortable. He glanced down at his watch and his leg bounced up and down. She took a deep breath and opened the door. The doorbell jingled as she entered, Luke and Dean turned to face her. Luke saw the look on her face and went to get her a cup of coffee. Dean´s face relaxed when he saw Luke leave.

Rory took a seat at the counter next to him and smiled when Luke placed the coffee in front of her. She took a sip, gathering what little strength she had, and turned to face Dean. He smiled at her and she relaxed a little bit.

“Thank you for coming. You had no reason to.”

“Sure I did.” Dean answered. “You needed help.” Dean noticed that Luke was staring at him once again. “Let´s go sit over there.” Rory glanced over Dean´s shoulder and saw Luke. She gave him a critical look before following Dean to the table. Neither one of them spoke. Rory decided to break the ice.

“So... how are you?” Her fingers began to tap on the table top.

“I´m fine. But we came her to solve your problem. Not talk about me.” Dean looked at her hand. “Would you stop that?” He reached out and covered her hand with his. Rory jumped back into reality and noticed Dean´s hand on hers. There was no warm feeling, like the one she got when Tristan did the same thing earlier in the day.

*Just like Tristan did. TRISTAN! He´s the reason your here. Just get this over with Rory.*

“Ok Dean. I´m just gonna spit this out. I need help.”

“Obviously.” He grinned at her but stopped when he saw her serious face.

“It´s about this emotions I´m having....”

“We established that over the phone.”

“Would you just be quiet for a minute so that I can get this out?” She saw the look of shock on his face. “Sorry.... anyways....lately I´ve been feeling something for.... Tristan... I just can´t tell what it is or what it all means.” She closed her eyes and stared at the table top. A few moments passed. Dean began to giggle and then laughed outright. Rory looked up and just stared at him. She hadn´t expected this reaction. She expected yelling and screaming and him storming out of the diner. But this, this had never even crossed her mind.

“Sorry....” He calmed down before speaking. “I knew this was coming.” Rory´s jaw dropped.

“What?”

“I knew that sooner or later you´d come to realize that I was right in saying that Tristan has a thing for you. I noticed it all summer, with that whole emotional wall thing you put up.” Rory´s jaw was still on the floor. “It began the second you turned around in the courtyard and saw Tristan walking.. excuse me.... jogging away. You started liking him even before then. Rory you love the way he banters with. I know because we never really had that. He´s grown on you, and you just don´t know how to feel about it because you´re scared.” His hand reached across the table and cupped her check. “You´re scared of being hurt again.”

“Dean I....”

“Shhh...” He put his finger to her lips. “You called me because you wanted someone to confirm that what you were feeling was indeed true. I should have told you a long time ago. Rory you have a thing for Tristan whether you like it or not. I saw it a long time ago, you just need to adjust to this idea. What you´re feeling isn´t a bad thing, it´s just new. Take your time with it.” Rory sat for a few moments before speaking.

“Thank you Dean. I think I need to go take a walk. I´ll get the coffee.” She grabbed her stuff and tossed money on the counter. She gave him a small smile before she walked out the door. Both Luke and Dean watched her go. When she was gone Luke glared at Dean. Dean held his hands in the air.

“It wasn´t me this time. I swear.”


PART FIFTEEN

Rory walked slowly through the cafeteria as she balanced Tristan´s books in her one hand, and his lunch tray in another. She almost dropped the tray when some pulled out their chair a bit too quickly. Tristan dropped one of his hands from a crutch to reach out and steady her. He grabbed a hold of her arm, and the electricity that shot through the both of them was enough to fuel a lightning storm. Tristan quickly withdrew his hand from Rory´s arm when he saw her look at it.

“You had to buy your lunch today?” Rory dodged someone´s backpack.

“We´ll you were early this morning, and I didn´t have time to pack it.” Tristan said in a matter-of-fact tone.

“Sure... sure... I see how it is.”

“And how do you see it?” Tristan´s lips were practically against her ear. His hushed tone caused a warm tingle to spread through her like a wildfire. It was difficult, but she was able to keep her composure. Even though she could just see him smirking.

“That you...” Before she could finish one of Tristan´s friends hollered at him from across the cafeteria.

“Hey DuGray... over here.” Rory was directly in front of Tristan and he poked her butt with his crutch in the direction he wanted to go.

“Hey!” Rory yelled. “Watch where you´re poking that thing.”

“Oh believe me.... I am.” Rory turned around and glared at him and his smirk.

“Neanderthal.”

“Thank you... I´ve been upgraded from pond scum.”

“You can be demoted you know.” They had reached Tristan´s table and Rory set down his books and tray. She received a few odd looks from Tristan´s friends. Feeling uncomfortable she began to walk away but Tristan put one of his crutches in front of her.

“I swear to God Tristan that as soon as you have no use for those things I´m going to beat you down with them because I´ve seen them in my face way to much.” The guys oohed at Rory before turning to look at Tristan. They may not know her, but they gave major kudos to any girl who stood up against Tristan. They looked at Tristan expecting a smartass come-back. He delivered.

“Why not right now when I´m helpless? Come on girl I´m ready.” Tristan dropped his crutches on the floor leaned back in his chair and his arms opened wide. All the guys turned and waited for Rory to speak. She knew that she had an audience, but at the moment she could have cared less. The way Tristan was leaning was very inviting. She put her hands on her hips and stared him down.

“You could never be ready for what I could give you.” The guys oohed and awed once again and Tristan´s jaw dropped. Rory had rarely been blatantly sexual with him, and now she was, in front of a ton of people none the less. Rory noticed his shock and raised her eyebrows in a questioning fashion. He quickly closed his mouth. The guys turned to Tristan and waited for his comeback. He just sat there and stared at Rory. Disbelief covered his face. One of his friends coughed to get his attention.

“Well we could find out if you just give me a chance.” Tristan grabbed her hand and pulled her towards him. Rory was caught off guard, and her hand reached out to brace herself. Thing is, it landed in the middle of Tristan´s chest. Right over his heart. Her face stopped inches from his. He was no longer kidding, but only the two of them new that. Rory could feel the steady beat of his heart underneath her palm and it made her weak in the knees, but she was not about to go down without a fight.

“Well maybe if you treated me like a human being and not something that just climbed out of the primordial ooze like you yourself just had. Then we might be able to see what you could actually handle. But this rich-white-boy-wanna-be-bad-ass-attitude ego of your has got to go, before I even think of letting you see what I could give you.”

That received a massive dose of cheers from Tristan´s friends and Rory had trouble hiding her smile. She felt Tristan´s heart beat faster against her hand. His eyes stared into hers. She had basically just laid it all on the line by saying what she did. It was an open invitation to Tristan. If he treated her right, he might actually get somewhere. Of course he had known that it was always that way, but now that she had actually said, it made him want to actually work for it like he never had before.

It had been quite a while since Rory had spoken, what were now infamous words. His friends were getting antsy for a comeback. One of them couldn´t stand out the silence.

“Tristan?” His friend´s voice jerked him back to reality.

“I could have countered that, but I had already moved on to other things in my head.” Rory pulled away from Tristan. He let out a small groan at the loss of contact that only she could hear. She stood upright in front of him, in between his spread legs, arms crossed in front of her chest.

“You´re a West Wing fan I see.” Tristan´s jaw dropped for what seemed like the hundredth time in the last five minutes.

“You watch...”

“The West Wing? Yes I do. It´s a fantastic show. And I´m sure Aaron Sorkin would be please to hear you plagiarizing his words.”

“I was not plagiarizing them, I was merely using them as a resource of information.”

“Wouldn´t that require some sort of footnote or bibliography? I didn´t hear you insert one after your usage of his statement.”

“Fine. Let´s go back up time so that I can say the comment again only to add: insert footnote. This statement was taken without permission from Aaron Sorkin, aka the screenwriting god. It was used in the eighteenth episode of the West Wing´s second season. The show was entitled ‘17 People´ and the words were spoken by the character Samuel Seaborne, who is played by the very talents Rob Lowe.... Would that have sufficed?”

“Only if you added somewhere in there that Josh is better than Sam.”

“But he´s not.”

“But he is.”

“He´s not.”

“He is and you know it.” Tristan´s friends heads were bouncing back and forth so fast between the two bantering teens that it looked like they were viewing a tennis match.

“Fine I´ll say Josh is better only if you reenact the whole Ainsley blaming the bossa nova scene.” Tristan recalled the scene in which a female character was caught dancing in a bath robe in her office. He wiggled his eyebrows at hers, reverting back to old, sex-crazed Tristan. Rory backed away from him.

“You´re impossible.” She grabbed her bag and walked out of the cafeteria. Tristan´s eyes never left her retreating form. Tristan turned to face his wide eyes friends he had no idea what to do, but one guy took care of that for him.

“Well aren´t you going after her?” The whole table waited in silence for an answer.

“Yeah. I am.” He grabbed his crutches and ran after him. His books and lunch left forgotten at the table.


PART SIXTEEN

Tristan finally made his way to the hallway after barging through a crowd of freshman. He looked both ways and didn´t see her. Thinking quickly he decided to try the library. He got there as quickly as possible and was extremely disappointed when Rory was no where to found.

“Where the hell could she be?” He ran his hand through his hair, and turned around one last time. His eyes darted to something out the window. Rory. He took off again and made his way to the courtyard hoping to catch her before she disappeared again. He skidded around the corner on his one good leg and righted himself before he could fall. He began to walk towards Rory very quickly, but his pace began to slow when he really began to take in the vision in front of him.

Rory was sitting on ‘their´ bench. Shadows from the swaying trees danced across her hunched form. She was bent at her waist, her elbows resting on her knees. Her head was covered by her hands and her entire body was softly shaking. Strands of her hair began to fall down and covered the sides of her face. Tristan leaned his crutches against the side of the bench and sat down beside her. She didn´t make a movement that acknowledged his presence.

Tristan heard her soft whimpers and it hurt him to know that he had done this. He brushed the fallen hair strands back over her shoulder before he slowly put his arm around her. She still did not acknowledge his actions. He bent his head down closer to her ear.

“I´m sorry.” It was spoken so softly that he was afraid that she had not heard him. But she had. Rory´s head jerked up. The look on her face caused his heart to shatter into a million pieces. Her eyes were red and watery, and a single tear made it´s way down her cheek.

*You made her cry DuGray! You are such a jerk. Can´t you do anything but hurt her?*

He cupped her cheek and his thumb brushed away the solitary tear. His eyes begged her for forgiveness, even though he knew he didn´t deserve it. Rory pulled away from his touch. But this time, unlike the other times, he understood her reasons. Her brain finally registered who was sitting in front of her. She bent down, picked up her backpack, and stood to try and leave, but Tristan grabbed her arm.

“Rory I´m sorry. Please don´t leave.” The pleading tone in his voice was so thick that she could almost call it pathetic. She closed her eyes and took deep breaths to try and create some feeling of comfort, but his grasp on her arm was the only thing she felt.

Tristan stared down at his hand, and then up to the back of her head. He could see her shoulders rising and falling and he wanted to rub her back to calm her down. But after everything that had just occurred, that thought even overwhelmed him.

“I understand why you want to leave, but please stay Rory. We need to talk about this. About everything.” His voice was shaky and it sounded like he was about to break down. He waited for an answer, but she wasn´t giving him one. His heart broke again. He released his grip on her arm. “I won´t make you stay if you want to go.” He dropped his head and stared at the ground. It was over. She had given him a second chance and he had ruined that gift.

Rory slowly turned back around and saw the state he was in. This wasn´t faked. He was genuinely giving up. He saw that he had hurt her one to many times, that any chance he had left with her was totally her decision. Rory would have to chose whether or not to trust him.

“Tristan did you really mean what you said?” His head lifted to face hers and she could see that he was on the verge of tears. He nodded his head yes.

“Rory, I mean it, I am so sorry.” Rory shook her had back and forth.

“No, not that part. Did you mean what you said back in the cafeteria? About me giving you a chance.” He nodded his head yes, and wiped a tear from his eye. Rory took her seat beside him. “I don´t understand. I mean I already gave you another chance, and then you stole my book.” He laughed a little.

“And look where I ended up.” He pointed to the cast. “But seriously Rory, think about it, did you ever really give me a chance?”

“Sure I did, and you still acted like a jerk.”

“I even admit that I acted like a complete ass at first, and I am so extremely sorry for that. But think back Rory, the book thing... that was banter.... childish banter, but banter non the less. And think about Saturday Rory... was I a jerk then?” She shook her head no. “See, we´ve had good times together. And what just happened in the cafeteria proves it. Sure you said that you would give me a second chance, but you never really did.”

He grabbed her hand and placed her palm over his chest. Rory closed her eyes reveled in the feeling of his strong heartbeat. “You were so afraid I´d treat you like crap again that you never let the real me in. Let me in Rory. Please. There is so much I want to learn about you. I don´t want you to be a mystery to me.” Tristan lowered his eyed to look at her down turned face, before he used his free hand to lift her chin so that his eyes met hers. “Please Rory. Can you give me another chance.... a real chance?” She nodded yes and they were silent. Tristan waited for her to say something, anything. “Say something please, the nod was nice, but I need to hear you say it.”

“Yes Tristan I can give you a real chance.”

“Good, this time I won´t waste it.” They just stared at each other. They were going somewhere new with no map and neither one of them knew how to steer them clear of the dangerous spots, but at least they were going through it together. Once chance was all she had given, and both wanted it to be the only one needed. Rory didn´t want to be hurt again, but Tristan couldn´t loose her again. The mood was becoming all to serious for Rory so she decided it was now or never to see what could happen. She pulled her hand away from Tristan´s chest and placed it back in her lap.

“Do you remember the last conversation we had on this bench?” Tristan chuckled slightly at her comment.

“How could I not? You wanted me to date Paris.” That wasn´t exactly the moment Rory had been thinking of, but she went with it.

“Paris.... right... sorry about that.”

“It´s ok, besides, she has Robert now. How did that happen anyways?” The bell rang and they both stood up. “Walk you to class.”

“I´m the one carrying your books.”

“Right! Forgot about that. We have to make a detour to the cafeteria.”

“Why?”

“Because that´s where I left them when I went to find you.” Rory laughed and they walked off towards the cafeteria. Rory began to explain they Paris/Robert situation. Tristan just watched her smile as she talked, happy that now he had a real chance, now they were on equal footing.


PART SEVENTEEN

It was Friday morning and Rory was just waiting for the day to be over. It wasn´t because she was at Chilton, in fact that was the furthest problem. It was because that morning she had to go without coffee.

Why? Because not only was Gilmore families trusty coffee maker broken, but she got up so late that she didn´t have a chance to stop at Luke´s. She had expected Tristan to have a cup for her when she picked him up, but when she got to his house, she found that he had gotten a ride from someone else.

Need less to say, that had ticked her off just a tad. And well back to the coffee. Rory going without coffee meant that people who pissed her off that day had a much higher chance of not living to see another day. She stormed down the hall towards her locker, her head concentrating on the floor directly in front of her.

She finally made it to her locker but almost collided with the warm body in front of it. Her eyes focused on the shoes first and slowly made their way up the require Chilton uniform. She new it was Tristan when she reached the top of his shirt, it was undone in that I´m-trying-to-not-be-suavely-casual kinda way. She lifted her head to stare him down.

“Woah! You trying to kill people with that look?” Tristan´s eyes were wide when he saw the irate, dare he say almost homicidal, look on her face.

“Just try me.” Tristan cleared his throat and Rory was delighted with the look of pain that crossed his face. Something in the way people looked when they were terrified that she may throttle them mad her giddy. Tristan tried to speak but the look she was giving him made his lips numb.

“Ummm.....welll....” Rory back Tristan into the lockers

“Where were you this morning?” If possibly the look of terror in eyes got even stronger.

“I was....ummm... I ..... would you stop looking at me like you want to carve my with a turkey knife.” Rory backed away slightly.

“Ohh... that´s a good idea, but what I was thinking involved a can of Crisco, a sledgehammer, a bongo drum, and a donut.”

“I really don´t want to you what you had planned do I?” Tristan had the deer-in-the-headlights look.

“No you don´t.” There was an evil look in her eyes that made Tristan want to hide in her locker. She began to back him into the lockers again and his breath caught in his throat when he felt the hard surface against his back.

“Rory you don´t really want to kill me do you? You´re to nice to do anything like that....aren´t you?” Tristan face wrinkled as he questioned Rory.

*She´s definitely got that look of homicide about her.*

“Like I said before just try me today, then we´ll see what I am really capable of.” Tristan ignored the sexual undertone to her comment and cleared his throat.

“I see someone didn´t get any coffee this morning.” Rory´s homicidal look degraded itself to a accidental death and loud groan. Her head dropped and she leaned forward, her forehead hit the center of Tristan´s chest. He was shocked by this reaction, but it confirmed his no caffeine theory. A smile grew on his face. “I bring you coffee and you attack me with that hard head of hers.”

Rory´s head immediately jerked up to meet his. She stared him down to see if what he had just said was the truth.

“Don´t kid me.... you really brought me coffee?” He held the cup up to her nose. He let her sniff it, and the look on her face could only be described as extreme desire. She grabbed the cup from his hands and took a log drink from it. After she had downed half of it she stared into the cup. “Where have you been all my life?”

“Right here.” Tristan stated, but Rory ignored his words. “Well I knew that you would want coffee and after...” He babbled on as Rory stared into the cup but finally spoke to Tristan.

“Are you still talking. Can´t you let me enjoy a moment with my java.” She finished the cup before flinging her arms around Tristan´s neck in a hug. “Thank you thank you thank you thank you. How can I make this up to you?” She missed the tell-tale signs of the beginnings of his smirk.

“Go to a movie with me on Saturday.” She withdrew her arms and backed away.

“WHAT?”

“Me. You. To mall. To see a motion picture. With popcorn. And stuff.”

“But you´re an invalid, aren´t you suppose to stay in all weekend?”

“Even an invalid needs to have fun.”

“Can´t you be a coach potato for one Saturday?”

“Sorry babe, that´s not my style.” Rory raised her eyebrow at him when he called her babe.

“That babe better have been a slip of the tongue.” Tristan grinned at her.

“I´ll slip you my tongue anytime you want.” Rory was very hot and bothered at that comment. A blush began to creek up her cheeks.

*Banter. Friendly banter. That´s all nothing else. Do not read into this. Do not recall Dean´s words. You are Rory. Stop it. Banter Banter Banter. He is not looking at you lustingly.* She looked at Tristan as he stared her down. A twinkle in his eyes. *Ok so maybe he is.*

Suddenly his lower lip edged out in a pout, and he gave her puppy dog eyes. It was a look that Rory knew she could not say no to, but she would try.

“Please accompany me to the movies on Saturday.”

“No.”

“Pwease.” Tristan used a babied tone. And that comprised with the pout did her in.

“Fine.”

“Good. You pick me up at 7.” He poked her with his crutch and steered her down the hall.

“So Tristan. You never did tell me why you weren´t home this morning.” He suddenly got real nervous.

“Well... it´s a funny story...you see the thing is.....”


PART EIGHTEEN

“... and then after he poked me with that damned crutch of his he had the gall to say the reason he wasn´t at the door that morning was because he had a dream.... about me.... and it left in a state of.... hall shall I say this.....” Rory was pacing her room as she recounted her Friday morning to Lane and Lorelai.

“Pelvical discomfortment.” Rory looked at Lane oddly as she bounced on Rory´s bed.

“I don´t think those are words... but yeah, that was basically what he said. And that he would have been too embarrassed for me to drive him in, so he hid behind the drapes.” Lorelai chuckled from the doorway and received a glare from Rory. “It´s just, after the conversation we had on Thursday, the one I told you about, I didn´t think he´d say something like that.”

“Well then, have you thought of the possibility that what he said was the truth?” Lorelai stated matter-of-factly as she examined her finger nails.

“What are you talking about?” Rory´s hands were on her hips as she questioned her mother.

“Well you told us that he looked genuine when he said that he wouldn´t mess up this time. So... you should trust the fact that he´s not lying and that he really had a dream about you that made him need to ....”

“MOTHER!”

“Well I´m just saying.” Lorelai held her hands up. Rory through a pillow at her.

“Get out of here. I need to get ready.”

“But Lane gets to stay.” Lorelai pouted as she whined.

“Because Lane isn´t ticking me off.” Rory slammed the door in her mother´s face.

“Fine.” Lorelai screamed through the door. “I´ll go... I´ll just pester you for details about this DATE WITH TRISTAN when you get home later tonight.”

“It´s not a date.”

“Uh-huh, whatever you say dear.” Rory heard Lorelai walk away from the door and over to the coffee machine. Rory glanced down at Lane who had an amused smile on her face. Rory began to bite her fingers as she paced back and forth across her floor.

“What?” Rory finally gave into Lane´s look.

“You´re nervous.” Lane´s leg was bobbing up and down against the side of the bed.

“Am not.”

“Yes you are.” Lane flopped back on the bed and stared at the ceiling.

“I am not nervous Lane.”

“Then why are you pacing and eating your fingers like some sort of cannibalistic coffee crazed creature?”

“Poetry in English today.” Rory said as she sat next to Lane on the bed.

“We had a lesson on alliteration.”

“It shows.” Lane noticed Rory trying to change the subject, but decided that she would a cruel best friend and not let her.

“Your nervous.”

“For the last time Lane I am not nervous.”

“Fingers dearie, think of the fingers before you chew them to the bone.” Rory quickly pulled her fingers away from her mouth and shoved them in the pockets of her jeans. “So... everything Dean said really got to you.” Rory´s head jerked to meet Lane´s face.

“How did you...”

“Gossip my dear. You know this town is made of a bunch of loud mouths.”

“I know but no one....”

“Miss Patty was hiding.” Lane sat up next to Rory.

“That explains it.”

“So....”

“So... what?”

“Rory.” Lane´s voice was stern as her eyes meet Rory´s in a tough ‘Tell Me Now Or Feel My Wrath´ glare.

“Yes! What Dean said did get to me.” She spit out quickly... and loudly. “Feel better now that you know. Hell I don´t know what to do. He acts like a, pardon my non-French, a jackass, and then he looks at me like a yummy pastry that he wants to eat up. His various signals get me so confused that I just want to throw myself in a convent so that the only man I have to understand has an entire book telling me how to do things.”

“Then you really would be his Mary.” Lane snickered.

“LANE!”

“Sorry, you just made it so easy. Look girl, just go with the flow. Besides, who could resist you.”

“I´m not even going to start in on that topic.”

“Good girl.” Lane patted Rory´s knee and stood up. “I must be off before my mother realizes that I really am not attending a seminar about Dick Cheney and What the Oil Industry Can Do For You.”

“Thanks for coming.”

“No problem.... I never miss seeing you freak out.”

“I was not freaking.”

“There was major freekage going on. Buh-bye.” Lane closed Rory´s bedroom door. Rory just stared at it before letting out a frustrated groan and flopping back on the bed. She had to leave soon in order to pick up Tristan, and as excited as she was about seeing him, she was still scared. Tonight she would see the real him, and that scared her. Sure he could have been the real Tristan before tonight, but she wouldn´t have seen it because she was too blinded by the past, or was in a coffee induced haze. Rory looked at the clock and noticed that it was time for her to go.

*It´s now or never.*


PART NINETEEN

Rory knocked on Tristan´s door nervously. Her hand shaking as she pulled it and stuffed both of her hands in her pockets. She rocked back and forth slightly on her heels. She started humming to clear her mind of all the un-platonic thoughts she was having about Tristan. She stared at her shoe as she rubbed it across the floor of the stone entrance way.

The car ride had been a living hell for her. Every where she looked reminded her of Tristan. Even the traffic lights seemed to sparkle like his eyes. Every song that played on the radio managed to remind her of something that had occurred between them. She almost drove the car off the side of the road when the DJ announced that the next song was dedicated to a Mary.

Tristan opened the door. He almost passed out when he saw Rory. His legs became so weak that even the crutches couldn´t support him, so he leaned against the doorway to study every part of her in. Rory must not have heard him open the door because she had yet to move.

Her soft humming slowly spun through the air to his ears and it enchanted him. Just her talking to him made him weak, but the sweet humming made him want to melt right into the floor. Her eyes were down turned and her long eyelashes hid them from his view. It made him want to turn her face right there and then just so he could see her look at him. But he held himself back and continued his perusal of her form.

He loved everything about her, from her wind blown hair to her delicate nose and painted toes. She shifted her weight to another foot and still didn´t look up. Her movement was smooth and uncalculated. Everything about here was genuine. There was not a fake bone in her body and it made Tristan wish that she were his even more.

The air suddenly became very warm around Tristan when he finally noticed what Rory was wearing. Her blue jeans hugged all the right curves. Her dark green tank top was conservative, yet teased him by showing a little bit of skin. He was desperate to run his hand across the soft skin of her neck and shoulder. He couldn´t stand it anymore. He hobbled over to her and lifted her chin with his hand. Her eyes met his in a jolt of energy.

“Tristan!” Rory finally noticed him.

“That would be me.” His hand cupped her cheek before his fingers trailed down her neck and twirled across her bare shoulder. His touch made her tingle all over and the way he was looking at her made her want to wrap herself up in him.

“How long have you been out here?” Rory´s fingers were shaking as she nervously brushed back a strand of hair. Tristan grabbed her hand and held it in his. She closed her eyes and reveled in his touch. Rory´s breath caught in her throat when the warmth slowly crawled from her hand up her arm to the rest of her body.

“Long enough to see once again how beautiful you are.” Rory opened her eyes only to have her heart pierced by the look in Tristan´s oceans of blue. They way he was staring into her shocked her so much that she couldn´t move, she couldn´t breath. All she could do was concentrate on the being in front of her that had caused her so much pain, and yet caused her so much love. Rory´s heart beat rapidly as she tried to return herself to normal.

“Let´s go.” Tristan said as he dropped her hand and made his way to the car. It killed him to have to not touch her and he just hoped that one day she would warm up to him, and give him a chance of being more than a friend. He made it into the car and Rory was still standing on the stoop in shock. He closed the door and rolled down the window. He whistled and Rory´s head whipped around to face him. “Are you coming or not?”

“Right... the movie.” She ran to the car and climbed in. “What movie are we going to see anyways?” She started the engine and backed out of the long driveway.

“It´s a surprise, but I guarantee that you´ll like it.” Tristan grinned at Rory because he knew that the waiting would be torture for her.

“As long as you don´t drag me to one of those plotless films were ok.”

“Oh.... I guarantee that you will have a good time at this film. I´ve seen it three times already and it gets better everytime.”

“It´s that good huh?”

“It´s probably one of the best movies I´ve ever seen.” Tristan looked forward with a slight chuckle. The laugh caught Rory´s attention and she turned to make a smart-ass comment, but was caught off guard by his appearance. She tried to focus on the road but every few seconds she had to glance over at Tristan to make sure what she was seeing was real.

The sun was setting in just the right way, placing Tristan in a silhouette. The light highlighted his profile in such a way that Rory thought she was dreaming. His eyes twinkled like stars in the soft light and Rory could stare into them all day. His strong hands were gently tapping his thigh to the beat of the radio. The sleeves of his shirt were rolled up just past elbows revealing his tan and muscular arms. Rory wondered about what it would feel like to have him wrap those arms around her protectively.

Rory slammed on the breaks when the traffic light ahead of her suddenly turned red. Tristan looked over at her questioningly, but Rory just shrugged off his glance. The car was suddenly quiet, even with the music playing. Rory and Tristan could hear each breath that the other took and both were experiencing a loss of sanity because of it.

After a few more turns the arrived at the ciniplex. Rory and Tristan got out of the car and began walking to the entrance.

“Do I get to find out what movie we´re seeing now?”

“Nope.” Tristan pulled out a blind fold from his back pocket and winked evilly. Rory began to slowly back away but Tristan advanced on her with each step.

“No way, not a chance... don´t even think about it.” Tristan was already right in front of her, and she would have run away but Tristan´s hand grabbed her arm before she got a chance. After that touch, she didn´t want to run. He had this magnetic force that just made her want to cling to him. Tristan wrapped the blindfold around her eyes, now she was totally dependent on him. “Is this really necessary?”

“I don´t want you to know anything until the movie starts.” Rory giggled when his fingers brushed against her neck.

“You´re evil.”

“And your loving every minute of this.” Tristan could see the blush creep up her cheeks and disappear under the makeshift blindfold. He took her hand and placed it on his shoulder. Rory gripped hard, and the feeling sent trembles down his spine. Tristan purchased the tickets and got Rory into the theatre, but he knew that he was being tossed some strange looks. Rory let out a relieved sigh when they sat down. She tried to take the blindfold off, but Tristan´s hand grabbed hers before she could.

“Not yet.”

“But... but...” Tristan had to hold himself from kissing her right there and then, her lower lip trembling as she complained.

“No buts. I wouldn´t want the demographics of the average age of person in here to give away what movie we´re seeing.”

“Now I´m scared. We better not be seeing something along the lines of ‘The Golden Girls Go Hollywood,´ or anything like that, because I swear that...” Her words were cut off when Tristan hushed her and put his finger to her lips. Rory was instantly quiet. Tristan was inches from her. Somewhere in her babbling he had thrown his arm around her, and now that hand was slowly weaving its way through her hair.

Because of her lack of sight, her other senses were on overdrive. Right now the sweet aroma that was Tristan overwhelmed. He must have showered before she picked him up because he smelled clean and fresh. His cologne only adding to his masculinity, and right now that was a very dangerous thing.

Tristan noticed the look of wanting on Rory´s face. It was something he had wanted to see since the day he first laid eyes on her. Now he was cursing the blindfold idea. Tristan wanted to see the longing in her eyes. He wanted to hear her say that she needed him, he needed to hear her say that she wanted him. He wanted to know if the vibes he was getting were real. And her soft lips on his finger were driving him insane. He was torturing himself by not moving his finger. The room went dark and Tristan didn´t notice.

“Tristan...” Rory´s voice was whispered but it still sounded clear as a bell to him.

“Yes.” His hopes were high as he waited for her to speak.

“I think the movie´s starting.”

“Oh.” Tristan leaned back into his own chair defeatedly. He removed her blindfold and turned towards the screen, happy that the darkness concealed his scowl.


PART TWENTY

Tristan was seated on an examining table in the hospital. His uninjured leg dangling over the side. He was laughing along with Rory. They had talked on the phone non-stop on Sunday, all of it about the movie, and now they were still talking about it.

“I still can´t believe that you took me to a Disney movie.”

“But it was the Emperor´s New Groove. That makes it a kick ass Disney movie.”

“That it was.” The room began quiet as Rory and Tristan just stared at each other. The both had smiles on their faces as the recalled the memories that were created between them that night. Tristan´s smile turned into a huge grin when he recalled the look on Rory´s face when the previews ended and the movie started. He had seen her jaw drop and her eyes go as wide as saucers. He had reached his finger under her chin and closed her mouth for her. She then turned to face him and smiled in a way that he had never seen. It melted his hard, and any feelings of dejection that he had felt early drifted away.

“What are you smiling at?”

“You.” Tristan had a dreamy look on his face. He was leaning forward on his arms just staring at her. Rory bit her bottom lip and lowered her eyes to the floor and pink tone slowly creeping up her cheeks. “You´re blushing Rory. Now why would you be doing that?”

“No reason.” She looked around the room. Her eyes landing on the floor, the wall, the door, any where but on Tristan. He chuckled.

“Must be a pretty good reason if your avoiding looking at me like that.” Rory´s eyes landed on his. She looked so embarrassed and Tristan decided to lighten the moment. He put on his best Yzma accent and decided to make her laugh. “How shall I do it? Aha! I know... I'll turn him into a flea. A small, harmless, little flea. Then, I'll put that flea into a box, then I´ll put that box into another box, and I´ll send that box to myself, and when it arrives...” Tristan let out a mad man´s laugh. “I'll smash it with a hammer! It's brilliant, I tell you! Genius, I say!” Rory couldn´t contain her laughter and after two seconds at trying to restrain herself she burst out laughing.

“What would the school say about THE Tristan DuGray quoting lines from a children´s movie.” Rory covered her mouth with her hand to restrain her laughter. Tristan tipped his head to the side, enjoying her in this carefree moment. His lips formed a somber expression before he answered her question.

“Do it again?” Tristan´s tone was dead serious. She laughed again and nearly fell out of the chair. When her fits of giggles subsided she resettled herself in her chair. Her eyes landed on Tristan´s face and she froze. He was looking at her like she was the most precious thing in the world, and in all honesty if she had asked him then he would have said that she was. His eyes were soft as the sparkled at her. And his lips were turned up ever so slightly at the corners. “Thank you Rory.”

“For.. for what?” Her hand brushed a piece of hair behind her ear nervously.

“For giving me a second chance a real second chance.” His voice was steady and strong and Rory wished that she could hear him speak to her with that, TRUE, confidence everyday.

“Your welcome.” She shifted in her seat under his gaze. He kept on looking at her. Her. Not behind her, not in front of her. He was looking at her. And it was beginning to unnerve her. His stare was eroding away the walls she had put up to block out his insults, and all the pain that came with them. He was just looking at her anymore, he was looking into her. Seeing her for all that she was. Body, heart and soul. And the feeling of being without that protective shell scared her. “Why are you looking at me like that.”

“Like what?” Tristan knew exactly what look she was talking about, but playing stupid was so much more entertaining.

“Like... that.” She gestured with her hand. He hid his smirk.

“I still don´t understand Rory. Could you explain it for me.” Rory stood up and paced the room, occasionally passing a glance his way. She kept on twisting her fingers about each other, and Tristan was please by the fact that she was being open with him, and not trying to hide her discomfort. If she was being like this around him, it meant that he was gaining her trust, and right now that meant more to him that anything. She was letting him into her life.

“The look you have it´s like.... it´s hard to explain... you look... I mean... there´s this feeling that.... I don´t know how to describe it.” The words came out jumbled and in one breath.

“Rory. Breathe.” He watched her stop pacing and take a deep breath. “Now calm down. Come here.” He held out his hand to her. She grabbed it without even thinking. The quaking feeling at the contact was felt by both of them. He tightened his grip on her hand and slowly pulled her towards him until she was standing in front of him. “Close your eyes Rory and tell me what you´re feeling.”

She took another deep breath before closing her eyes and shutting herself in an emotional darkness. “Tristan. The way you look at me it´s just... there are so many emotions playing in your eyes that I can´t even begin to sort them out.”

“What do you see?” He looked at her serene face his other hand brushing against her cheek in a gentle caress.

“I see hope and I see fear. I see a playfulness and innocence. I can see admiration and amusement. There´s just so many that I´m having trouble telling them apart. But there are three that stand out clear as a bell.”

“What are they?”

“I see longing and need.... and I see love. And the thing is...” She opened her eyes and looked straight into Tristan´s. “I don´t want those to stop.”

Of all the things she could have said at that moment, that was the last one that he had expected. He hand cupped her cheek and his thumb ran along her bottom lip. Rory saw his eyes darting between her eyes and her lips and she knew what he wanted, because she wanted it to. It had been building inside of her since the day he first walked into that classroom.

Her hand released Tristan´s and he was afraid that she was going to walk out on him. But she didn´t her hand traveled up his arm, and over his shoulder, before resting at the nape of his neck. Her fingers brushed against the short hairs at the back of his neck sending tingles down his spine. The door clicked open behind them.

“The doctor will be in soon.” Tristan acknowledged the nurse with a wave of his hand. He expected Rory to now pull away from him like she had always done in the past, but this time she didn´t. She continued to look at him and running her fingers through her hair. It was getting very difficult for Tristan to be this close to Rory without actually being close to her.

“Rory I have one more thing for you to do before this thing comes off.” Rory´s eyes expressed shock. She was just now telling him it was ok to move forward, and he did this.

“What do you want now?”

“This.”

He leaned forward and his lips connected with hers. She was too much in shock to move at first, but slowly she began to respond to his kiss. Her grasp around his neck tightened pulling him closer to her. Tristan´s arm went around her waist pulling Rory towards him so that she ended up putting one hand on his chest, over his beating heart. Rory let out a gasp when the contact was made. Tristan soft lips caressed hers and she tilted her head up to deepen the kiss. His one hand went into her hand and played with the soft strands.

His tongue ran across her bottom lip begging for entrance. Rory granted it to him and opened her mouth. The first time their tongues met was like a bolt of energy. Rory could feel Tristan´s heart skip a beat and it drove her insane. The hand that Tristan had in Rory´s hair moved down her back and rested at the base of her spine. A few moments later that hand went under Rory´s shirt and hid fingers slowly massage Rory´s bare flesh. Rory let out moan that was muffled by Tristan´s soft lips. The leg that had been casually brushing up against Rory hook around the tops of her legs. Crushing her even closer to him. His lips pulled away from hers, and he stared into her eyes before kissing her forehead, and then her cheek, and then each on of her eye lids.

Tristan placed a soft, but lingering kiss, on her lips before he moved his mouth to her neck. He placed delicate kisses across her neck. Each spot his lips spot felt like they were on fire. Rory was in too much of a trance to say anything. This feeling that she was having was magical. He placed on more kiss at the hollow of her neck before looking up at her again. He brushed back a piece of hair that had fallen in her face, his eyes never leaving hers. He leaned in to kiss her lips again, but she pulled away.

“I´m going to go wait in the car.” Rory rushed out the door before Tristan had a chance to recover. He just sat there on the bed staring at the door dumbfoundedly.

*What the hell?*


PART TWENTY-ONE

Tristan slammed his locker shut sending an angry echo bouncing down the halls. Rory had been avoiding him all day. He was now off the crutches and now had no reason to keep Rory by his side all day. He grabbed his stuff and stalked down the hallway, the slight limp from his knee slowing him down. He never realized how fast he was on those crutches until he had to chase Rory today without them. Of course then Rory hadn´t been avoiding him.

He stormed into the cafeteria brushing past the girls who decided to swarm him that day. Seeing that Rory was not near him at all, they thought he was a free man, and wanted to see what chances they had with him. The gossip started immediately when he didn´t even acknowledge their existence.

Tristan´s eyes scanned the cafeteria for Rory. She wasn´t at her normal table so he assumed that she was once again trying to steer clear of him. He headed over to his friends and sat down with a thump. He crossed his arms on the table and buried his head in between them.

“Tristan?” He acknowledged that question with a grunt. “All right then, you´re having a bad day.” Tristan´s head jerked up.

“Bad.... it´s not just a bad day. It is a day from hell. One of those days that drags on forever because nothing is going right and fate wants to spite you type day. A day where you wish a giant crevice would open up in the earth so that the fires of hell could take you away type day. A day where sitting through a lecture from your parents sounds fun type day. A day where....” Tristan´s voice faded out when he heard his friend Scott talking to him.

“A day where Rory´s avoiding Tristan and he´s pissed off type day.”

“How did you...” His mouth dropped open in shock.

“Oh come on DuGray, it´s not hard to tell that you have a thing for her. I mean everytime you enter a room you look for her, and won´t talk kindly to anyone until you have seen her, and given her one of those swoon worthy smirks.”

“I don´t smirk.” Tristan´s eyes scanned the cafeteria for any signs of Rory. His friends all gave him a knowing look, but he shrugged it off.

“Oh you smirk, but that´s not the topic right now.” Scott picked up his fork and started gesturing with it. “The topic is that you have a major crush, and when I say major I mean head-over-heels can´t think about anything but her crush, on Rory. For the past few weeks she´s been around you constantly and now that she´s not your going through Gilmore withdrawal, and the fact that she´s avoiding you doesn´t help. What the big question is, is why she´s avoiding you?” Scott poked Tristan in the ribs with his elbow and received a nasty glare in return. Tristan looked down at the table and mumbled into his chest.

“I kissed her.” The words came out clear to him, but not to his friends.

“What was that?” Scott leaned in close to catch whatever Tristan had to say. He mumbled again but everyone heard.

“I kissed her.” No one spoke they were too much in shock.

“You what?” Scott´s voice was high pitched and full of disbelief.

“I.... kissed..... Rory.... Gilmore.” His voice was not very loud but each word was clear and articulate. Scott began to chuckle.

“Wa... wa... wait. You mean to tell me that you locked lips with the one girl in this school who would do anything to avoid being one of your conquests? For some reason I find it hard to believe that Rory Gilmore would let you within feet of kissing distance. How did this come about?” All the guys waited expectedly for an answer.

“Well we were at the hospital and...” Tristan´s voice came to a whisper as his eyes looked passed his friends and landed on Rory. She looked up and saw him looking at her. He could see her breathing quicken as he stared at her. His friends followed his gaze and they too saw Rory.

“Go to her you moron.” Scott practically yelled in his ear. He didn´t need to be told twice. He got up from the table and walked to her as fast as his legs would carry him. Rory bolted out the cafeteria door that led outside. Tristan pushed past people who wanted to talk to him. He threw himself out the door half expecting to have to run around half the campus to find Rory, but instead he plowed right into her. He tried to apologize but she wouldn´t give him the chance.

“What are you doing?” Her voice held no emotion. No anger, no amusement, no happiness. Nothing, and that intrigued Tristan.

“I was coming out to talk to you.” He stated in a matter of fact tone.

“Obviously. I meant what are you doing in the general sense. Because after yesterday I´m a little confused over things.”

“You mean the kiss.”

“Oh that´s only half the story.” Rory walked over and sat down on ‘their´ bench. “Care to explain your actions.”

“I wanted to kiss you.” He sat down beside her, his hands nervously playing with the fabric of his jacket. Rory just stared him down waiting for more. “I wanted to kiss you.... BADLY.”

“That´s it. You kissed me because at the moment you wanted to kiss me. There was nothing else behind it?” Rory looked at the ground trying to hold back tears. She had fallen for him, and was getting hints that he liked her, and now he was crushing all of those ideas.

“I´ve wanted to kiss you so many times.” Tristan´s hand gently cupped Rory´s cheek and made her face him. “But what I want to know, is why you pulled away. Again I might add.”

“Of all the things you could have asked me at this moment, you had to pick that.” A solitary tear made it´s way down her cheek. Tristan brushed it away with hid thumb.

“Do you regret it?” His eyes burned like fire into her and Rory knew that she could be nothing but honest with him.

“The kiss? No. I don´t regret it.”

“Then I ask again, why did you pull away?” Rory´s breathing deepened as she tried to keep herself from balling her eyes out. She tried to look down at the ground, but Tristan kept her facing him. Instead of turning away she glanced down.

“Because I was scared.” Another tear made it past her eyes and down her cheek. Tristan was beginning to understand, and took a risk. He gently kissed the tear off her cheek. Rory´s breath quickened at the contact.

“Look at me Rory.” She slowly raised her eyes to face him. “What are you scared of?”

She didn´t know why but at that moment she saw something in Tristan that she had never seen before. After all that he had put her through, she now felt like she could trust him. The weeks before this moment had all been building up to a climax that was just starting. Right now everything felt right. She was with Tristan, and she was going to tell him everything.

“I was scared of the feelings that I have been having for you lately.” Tristan dropped his hand from Rory´s cheek and grabbed her hand. Placing a delicate kiss on the palm. Tingles shot up her arm.

“Go on.” Rory was having a hard time getting out what she wanted to say because Tristan was placing kisses on each one of her fingers.

“It started last year at Madeline´s party.”

“The one where you ran out on me.” He brushed back a strand of her hair.

“Yes that one.” Tristan kissed her cheek and Rory felt like she would burst from all the contact, yet lack of contact that was going on. “That kiss opened up a flood gate of emotions for me. Feelings that I had never felt before. You were acting like a jerk to me from the start, and then on that piano bench, in that one breath touch, I forgot everything.”

Tristan kissed her nose before looking her in the eyes. His stare rocking Rory to the core. “I´m glad I´m not the only one who felt the earth stop that night.” He leaned into kiss her on the lips, but she put up her hand to stop him.

“I have to get this out Tristan.” He pulled away, but was not angry with her in any fashion.

“Ok. Go ahead.”

“Then at the end of last year, you were back to being a jackass, but I still couldn´t shake the feeling that you were hiding something.” Tristan´s blue eyes just stared into her, revealing in their own why that he understood everything that she was saying. “And then the whole stair accident happened. I was so afraid that you would hate me because I had in someway hurt you. But I was also scared to trust you because of everything that happened in the past. But then you came up with that little ‘slave´ plot of yours and I went along with. I didn´t fully understand why until yesterday.” She paused to keep the tears from streaming down her face. Tristan licked his lips and waited for her to continue. “That kiss made me realize that I was falling for you. After all the time we spent together I had gotten to know the real you, and I was falling like I never had before. I pulled away because I was frightened by how strongly I felt for you. I couldn´t get close enough and I didn´t want to leave you. But I was so scared that I was in over my head. I´ve never felt like I had lost all my control over the situation until you kissed me. That contact made me loose whatever pride I was holding onto. I left you, because I was... am... falling for you. And I´m falling hard.”

Tristan didn´t say anything. He was still attempting to digest every bit of information that she had just confessed. His heart was beating so hard and so rapidly that he was sure she could hear it. He could see Rory begin to fall apart as she waited for him to respond. But he was still in shock. After everything he put her through, she like him. She like him. Rory Gilmore had fallen for Tristan DuGray. He could barely comprehend the words himself. He took a deep breath and leaned closer to Rory.

“Rory. I know I treated you horribly, and I am so sorry for that. But you hit me like nothing else ever had before. You walked into my life and turned it upside down. Every word out of your mouth was like torture for me. Because I loved hearing everything you had to say, but I thought that you would never feel anything for me. Rory, you´re not the only one who´s fallen. I have to. I did the first time I laid eyes on you. You may have been a servant to me for a few weeks, but my heart has been beating for you since the first moment I laid eyes on your beautiful face.” His hand reached up and brushed away the tears that had begun to fall down her cheeks. He licked his lips and wanted desperately to kiss her, but he wanted to be sure it was right. He waited for her.

Rory saw the look of need in his eyes as they dance across her lips and eyes. Asking for permission. Rory couldn´t wait any longer. She leaned her forehead into Tristan´s and looked him straight in the eyes.

“What are you waiting for Tristan? A written invitation. Kiss me.” Tristan smiled so broadly Rory was afraid he might pull a muscle. But any thoughts that were running through her head were silence the seconds his lips touched hers in a tender yet passionate caress. The contact wasn´t of desperation, but of support. They would guide each other through thick and thin. Neither one letting the other fall.

END

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