Rating: PG-13
Pairings: R/T
Disclaimer: The WB and Amy Sherman-Pallidino own all.
Summary: 2 Jr. Gods take an interest in Tristan and Rory.

Lessons in Love

by Novi and Min

  Matchmaking 303 at Olympus High was full of activity. Aphrodite, the
professor had let them have a free day and all the Jr. gods sat around
chatting or fighting or even flirting. Cleo the daughter of Athena and Adonis
and Tripp the son of Hades and Persephone where at it again.

"You're so totally dense," Tripp said.

"And you're so moronically stupid." Cleo replied.

"Oh please where do you learn your vocabulary?"

"Oh shut up."

"Oh you're breaking my heart!"

"I'd like to break your skull."

The classroom speaker went off and the Headmaster of Olympus High Zeus came
on.

"Cleo, Tripp please report to my office... NOW." he boomed over the speaker.

They both looked at each other almost afraid. Neither of them knew what was
coming.

Cleo got up and walked out with Tripp behind her. Together they made the trip
to the office.

     Cleo and Tripp sat in the Headmaster's office waiting for Zeus. The
secretary had motioned them in and went back to filing her nails without
bothering to acknowledge them verbally.

"Any idea why we're in here?" Tripp asked Cleo.

"I dunno ... do you think he's mad that we um "borrowed" Jason's fleece for
the Phoenix's bird cage?"

"Don't worry you two, you're not in any trouble ... yet," Zeus said walking
in holding two files in his hand. "Besides the fleece prank is forgotten
since Hercules and Jason didn't mind."

Both teens relaxed visibly, breather easier.

"Now Cleo, Tripp. I'm sending the two of you on a love assignment." Zeus said
taking a seat. " If you succeed the assignment you will be full fledged God
and Goddess. if you don't you will have to start all over again with Love
101. I want you two to be partners."

"WHAT?!" both the young gods sprang out their seats.

"You cannot expect me to work with this CLOWN ... he'll totally wreck up the
assignment!" Cleo whined.

"Well, you're no better off," Tripp snapped back "Zeus, dude you can't accept
me to work with the Ice Queen ... she wouldn't know loved if it came and
slapper her."

"That's very nice but I'm sure you two will figure something out, unless of
course you'd like to start all over again and not just with Love 101 but with
all your other classes and Cleo that will ruin your GPA not to mention Tripp
it will disqualify you from the sports you participate with. DO I make myself
clear?"

"Yes, ZEUS" the teens mumbled sitting down again.

"Good, now here are your assignments... I trust you'll be wonderful." Zeus
said passing them the folders as he got up and left the two alone to look
over the folders.

*
PART TWO

     Rory walked into school and went to her locker just as the first bell
rang with a cup of coffee, her first dosage of the day, in her hand. She
hurried to her class and sat down with her notebook and pen ready just as the
bell rang. Since Ms. Charity, the teacher wasn't there yet she didn't get rid
of her coffee and enjoyed the ambrosia for a few minutes while blocking out
her classmates.

    "Hey Mary, wake up!" Tristan whispered into her ear, jolting her out of
her trance. "Don't need you falling asleep now do we."

    Just as she was about to turn around and give him a swift kick or
something the teacher walked in with two new students- a boy & a girl.
Tristan looked at the girl with interest, he wondered if she was single but
than pushed it out of his mind as he saw Rory try to hide her drink, probably
coffee, under her desk.

    "Class I'd like to introduce to you our new students Tripp Styx and Cleo
Pallo, they will be joining us for awhile," Ms. Charity said pointing out the
two empty seats next to Rory and Tristan where the new students were to sit.

    "Hey there. What's your name? Mine's Tripp incase you missed that." Tripp
introduced himself to Rory as he took the seat next to her much to Tristan's
annoyance as well as Cleo.

    "Hi, I'm Rory Gilmore." she smiled back, oblivious to Tristan seething
behind her.

    "Hi Rory, I'm Cleo." Cleo also introduced herself and hit Tripp on the
back oh his head. "Stop flirting, do you want to end this assignment before
we start?" she hissed silently to her partner.

    "Chill Ice-Queen." was the reply she got before Tripp leaned over and
asked Rory to borrow a pen.

    "OH Zeus, how am I going to work with this idiot?" Cleo questioned
herself.

    "Hey you okay?" an n unfamiliar voice asked her.

    "Huh? What?" Cleo asked surprised to see a young guy asking her.

    "I'm Tristan Du Grey... so Cleo where are you from? Do you have a
heartbroken boyfriend you left behind?" he asked flashing her his trademark
smile.

    The other assignment she thought to herself silently before turning
around and flashing him a gorgeous smile; hey she wasn't Adonis's only child
for nothing.

    "I'm from this small, no where little town called Olympia and no I didn't
leave any broken hearts behind importunely, no boyfriend." she laughed
throwing back her hair while seething inside for having to act like an
airhead but from what she learned after reading his files those where the
kinds of girls he went for.

    "Too bad for the guys in Olympia, but good for me." he smiled again
noticing Rory and that new Tripp kid stop their conversation... Tripp. What
kind of name was that?

    "Why, are you interested?" she asked giggling a bit for good measure
noticing Tripp and Rory watching. Good she thought with satisfaction that
should make Rory jealous, or at least push her in the right direction.

    "Uggh! Just what we need, another airhead throwing herself at Tristan. As
if he needed to make that ego of his any bigger." Rory thought turning around
to face the front of the class.

    "What is Zeus's name is Cleo doing? Is she *flirting* with a mortal. Did
I hear her *giggle*?" he fumed "And here she was going of about how we need
to push these two in the right direction and then she goes and throws her
self at that Trisket kid. Tristan... what kind of name is that anyhow?" he
muttered to himself silently and followed Rory's suit in facing the front of
the classroom.

*
PART THREE

    The teacher went on about something and you could see a few pens scribble
across paper. Tripp and Cleo made it look like they were taking notes, but
they weren't really.

    Tripp was making a list of things that he wanted to talk to Cleo about.
He still couldn't believe that she had been flirting with that Tristan kid;
she had finally lost her mind. Yes, She had definitely lost her mind. He knew
it.

    Cleo however was plotting ways of getting Tristan & Rory together in case
the flirting thing didn't really work out. The file she had said absolutely
nothing about her interest in Tristan and had only dated some guy named Dean
for a while.

    "Miss Pallo would you care to give us the answer?" Ms. Charity asked.

    "I'm sorry, could you repeat the question?" Cleo asked a bit embarrassed
at having missed the question.

    "Never mind, Ms. Pallo... a bit of advise though, next time try to pay
attention," she said going to some girl who had raised her hand, Paris
something.

    "Yeah Miss Pallo, pay attention." Tripp said turning around in his seat.

    "Oh shut up Tripp."

    "Aww, Cleo I'm beginning to think you don't love me anymore!" he said
dramatically turning in his seat with false hurt.

    Tristan leaned closer to Rory who was watching the new students with
interest. "I think they've got something going on. Don't you?"

    "Yeah, maybe. They're really funny. Even if they don't, it's going to be
an interesting year." she whispered back.

    "You mean it wasn't already? What, I wasn't good enough for you?" he
asked pretending to be wounded.

    "Whatever Tristan." Rory laughed quietly and turned to pay attention to
Ms. Charity. They had the AP tests coming up and Rory wanted to get the best
possible grade.

*
PART FOUR

The bell rang signaling the end of class, Tripp got up gathering his things.
"Cleo, would you like me to carry your books?" he asked

   "No, I would like you to drop dead." Cleo shot back she walked out of the
classroom schedule in hand as she searched for her next class. Tristan who
had walked out of the classroom behind her walked over to Cleo taking her
books along with her schedule. She looked up. "Hey! What was that for?" she
asked.

   "Follow me," he said.

   "But I have to get to class."

   "And that's where we are going." he said handing back her schdeule

   "Okay," she said with a smile and followed. "Yay! Witness me, the progress
girl... this assignment is gonna be a snap."

   Tripp watched the two and made a gagging noise as Rory joined him.
   
   "Hey need some help?" she asked politely while she threw out her now empty
coffee cup.

   "Yeah, I have no clue where I am going."

   "Well who do you have next?"

   "Mr. Dewy; Biology."

   "Good, that's where I'm going." Rory said cheerfully leading Tripp out.
"Do you mind stopping at my locker first?"

   "No problem...so what's this school like?" he asked following her to her
locker.

   "It's school-like. With the teachers, and the books, and the bad cafeteria
food. I haven't been here long actually... so do you and Cleo know each
other?"

   "Yeah... we went to the same school, Olympia High, and they had sort of an
foreign exchange program and both Cleo and I where picked." he said in a
practiced tone going over the story Zeus had given them.

   "Coolness... well here we are. Mr. Dewy is pretty cool. He let's us sit
where whenever so it's not like Ms. Charity where you have assigned seats."

   "Great, there those empty seats in the back so why don't we sit together
and you can tell me about the rest of my classes also." Tripp said leading
her by the elbow.

   "So what's up with you and that Tristan guy?" Tripp asked leaning back in
his seat next to Rory.

   "Nothing, he was really mean to me when I first came here but now he's on
his way to being sort of mean. What about you and Cleo?" she asked him...for
some reason she felt really comfortable talking to him even though they just
meet. He was like Lane withe same dark hair only he was a really hot guy with
blue eyes and much taller and much more in the height department also than
Lane.

   "Cleo and me? Well we're secretly having an affair that we're hiding from
our family and friends and she's pregnant with my love child." he threw back
surprised by her question.

Rory raised an eyebrow, "If you say so." she said shaking her head.

*
PART FIVE

     
        Tristan and Cleo walked into their next class together, on the other
side of the main building from where Tripp and Rory were. While Cleo went to
introduce herself to their teacher, Mr. Pierce, Tristan took his customary,
assigned seat in the back of the room. The two of them didn't notice Paris
and Louise watching them with interest.

"Who's the new girl?" Louise whispered.

"I have no idea; probably some airhead ... she's in my AP Euro and didn't
even know the answer to some simple question." Paris whispered back.

"Oh cares about brains; I don't think Tristan does at least...look alive
Paris, you might have competition" she teased.

"Competition? Don't you have to be in the running to be considered
competition? And we both know I'm not in the running. Besides, I have to
focus on Harvard and it's not like I like Tristan DuGrey anymore." Paris lied.

"Whatever you say Sunshine." Louise laughed.

"I do say! Ugh, Louise just drop it. I don't want a guy, especially not
Tristan." she hissed.

"Uh huh... keep on selling and maybe I'll start buying Sunshine, but don't
hold your breath. You want to be the future Mrs. Tristan DuGrey and there's
no way you're gonna make me change my mind about those looks you keep sending
him."

"Louise, zip it. This is me not talking or listening to anything you say, and
stop calling me Sunshine! You sound like an old Western" Paris sulked.

"Paris." Mr. Pierce called. "Please raise your hand so that Cleo knows where
to take her seat." he said indicating to the empty seat next to Paris. "Now
class I want you to take out some paper for our Pop quiz; I hope you did last
nights reading because without it you can start practicing those 'would you
like fries with that?' "

"Oh can this day get any worse? Tristan's new girlfriend is going have to sit
by me for the rest of the year and we have a pop quiz on material that I know
nothing about. Someone hates me!" Paris groaned silently as she took out
paper.

*
PART SIX

       Cleo found that the pop quiz was rather easy for her, she didn't have
to think too hard especially since Zeus gave their minds a little boost in
the academic department while they where on Earth. While finishing up the
quiz she was trying to figure out how to get Tristan and Rory together. This
was going to be hard, "I'll have to talk with Tripp during lunch" she
promised herself.

~ Lunch Time~

      Cleo entered the cafeteria and scanned the area for Tripp, when she
finally spotted him, he was with Rory and he was making her laugh. Anger
suddenly surged through her, "What the hell was he doing? If they didn't pass
this mission bye bye, they would have to start over, and she had no intention
of doing that." She knew Zeus must be on some serious crack, why else would
have he paired her up with Tripp out of all the other more saner Jr. Gods.

      Tristan came into lunch and saw Cleo at the front of the
cafeteria,"Hey" he said coming over.

      She focused her attention on him," Hi Tristan," she said with a smile.

      "Looking for someone or something?"

      "Um.I found him."

      Tristan followed her gaze," He your man?"

      "No."

      "Then?"

      Tripp and Rory where talking about something, well Tripp was talking
and Rory was cracking up. Tristan watched the two with distaste. >>

       "She your woman?" Cleo mimicked him from earlier.

       "Rory? No." he replied a with an air of hurt

    "Buuut?" Cleo prompted

       "Don't worry about ... it's nothing major. Besides she has a
boyfriend."

       "A boyfriend? What oh no oh no! Just what we need. An obstacle. This
is going to be tough with Tripp as my partner. She groaned, "Oh what did I do
to deserve this?"

       "Cleo you okay? Heeeey-loooow! Miss Cleo" Tripp waved a hand in front
of her face.

       "Huh? What Tripp where'd you come from?" she asked snapping out of her
thoughts as Tristan and Tripp stared at her as well as Rory who had joined
them as well.

       "Well if you don't know about the birds and the bees yet, then I don't
that it's my place to tell you." he joked

       "Haha, you crack me up" she threw back.

       "Well, anyways while you and where zoning out in Cleo-world we decided
to go out for lunch." Tripp said throwing an arm around her shoulders and
leading her out of the cafeteria through the parking lot exit.

Rory and Tristan watched the two leave, "I wonder how much longer till they
see we're not with them." Tristan asked her.

"Well, I wonder how much longer till the realize they got a thing for each
other." Rory replied

"I think it's gonna be a while." Tristan said a bit sarcastically

"Oh, just a little." Rory replied just as sarcastic

"Hey, you two wanna go now or eat here?" Tripp yelled to them.

"They really need to get together." Tristan said while he and Rory followed.

"Wanna push things along?" Rory asked a bit hesitantly.

"Rory Gilmore! Are you suggesting we interfere in the lives of two innocent
people who we have never met before?" Tristan asked with exaggerated shock.
"Why I am quite astound you would even think of such a thing, it's quite
evil."

"So you're in?"

"When do we start?" Tristan asked as they joined Tripp and Cleo in Tripp's
SUV.

*
PART SEVEN

*Mr. Medina's Room*

  It was finally the last class of the day and Cleo couldn't be more relieved
as she walked into her English Literature room with the bell. Her last class
had been PE; her first class without either Rory, Tristan, or even Tripp. The
only person who even looked remotely familiar in there was that Paris girl,
who kept glaring at her and looked like she wanted to bash her brains in with
her tennis racquet.

"Hey Cleo, come sit here," Rory called to her cheerfully from her seat in
front on an enthralled Tristan who was sitting next to none other than a
slouching Tripp.

"Great, the gang is all here," Tripp said as she slid into her seat, there
was no teacher in site.

"Tripp, would you believe me if I told you I actually missed you last
period?" Cleo asked, turning in her seat.

"You did?" Tripp asked suspiciously, sitting up. "Really?"

"Yeah, I really did until you opened your mouth and I remembered who you
were," she laughed.

"That was harsh, babe," he said, placing a hand over his heart.

"Any reason for the momentarily lapse of sanity that caused you to miss our
hurt friend?" Tristan broke in with a grin.

"You had PE, right? Did you get hit in the head or something?" Rory asked.

"I had PE and it was the most boringest hour of my entire life; I knew
absolutely no one in there and that Paris girl kept gripping her tennis
racquet and looking at me. Each time she swung it I swear she imagined the
ball was my head!" Cleo dramatized.

"Awww! Poor baby, don't worry we'll protect you from that mean old girl,"
Tripp said, giving her an unexpected hug from his seat behind her.

"So where's our teacher?" Cleo asked, as Tripp pulled back from her a moment
later than necessary. It felt so familiar when he put his arms around her;
this was Tripp, jock boy, one of the most popular Jr. Gods, the class clown
and flirt. So why did it feel so right when he hugged her?

Rory and Tristan exchanged a look. Before Rory could answer Cleo's question,
Mr. Medina entered the room.

"Hey all, I know how heart broken you must be to have a few minutes of peace
with me gone but fear no more, I am here," Mr. Medina joked, going to his
desk in the front of the room. "Now we have some new students, Cleo Pallo and
Tripp Styx, I doubt you guys wanna introduce yourselves in front of a class;
I'm sure you did enough of that already so just relax."

Tripp smiled, this seemed like it would be an easy class, after all, how hard
could English be? This guy seemed to be fairly easy going, which meant that
the class had to be a piece of cake. Cleo had her notebook and pen ready to
take some notes, she actually liked English Lit a little... but not too much.

The class was given a few notes on some author, and then a reading
assignment, Cleo had her book open to read, but she wasn't reading. Instead
she was thinking about how to get Tristan and Rory together, and soon. She
didn't want to spend more time with Tripp than necessary. The twinge she felt
when he hugged her was a fluke, besides how much help could Tripp be? The
idea was to get Rory and Tristan together; not have Tripp all up on Rory.

Tripp opened his book and started to read, but he wasn't fully focused on the
story in the book. How could he get Tristan and Rory together when Cleo was
always flirting with Tristan? Tripp took a piece of notebook paper and
started writing on it.

              Cleo
   Babe, how are we ever supposed to get Tristan and Rory together, if you are
always flirting with Tristan and throwing yourself at him?
                    Tripp.

He took the note and passed it up to Cleo when Mr. Medina left the classroom
for a second.

Cleo opened the note with a sigh. Ugh; couldn't he take notes on the lecture
like any normal person instead of bothering her.

"WHAT?!" she shrieked, causing the other students to look at her. Ignoring
them, she turned around and faced Tripp. "What the hell is that supposed to
mean? I am not flirting with anyone but the same can't be said for you, you
you you walking hormone!" she hissed, lowering her voice. "Can you ever think
with the head you have above your waist, you perverted, immature little...
uuurrrrgh! I'm so mad I can't think straight!" she ranted, oblivious to the
stares she was getting from Rory and Tristan who where still close enough to
hear.

"Calm down, Cleo, you're making a spectacle of yourself," Tripp whispered to
her in a cold voice. "And sweetheart, if you don't call that flirting than I
don't know what is."

"Of course you would know about flirting you... you glorified pimp!"

"Better than being a prude!"

"Bite me!"

"Say please!"

"Tripp, Cleo... no offense, but shut up!" Tristan broke in.

"Save it for later you two, class is almost over and Mr. Medina will be back
any second," Rory chimed in.

The two Jr. Gods glared at each other before turning back to their work while
Rory and Tristan exchanged looks. Tristan, after taking a page from Tripp's
notebook, wrote Rory a note and passed it to her.

Rory quickly read the note to herself, it said:

    Rory,
What was that about? They looked ready to draw blood! Think we were wrong
about setting them up?
                                        Tristan

Getting out her pen she wrote him a quick reply and passed it back.

    Tristan,
I have no clue! They looked brutal, but I think we're right about them
getting together. I'm gonna find out from Cleo what happened and I'll call
you ok? Wow, this is so wierd! Tristan DuGrey and I are playing Cupid to two
people who seem ready to like, ax-murder each other!
                                  Rory

"Well, I'm game if you are; but first let's find out if we're on the right
track," Tristan whispered to Rory after reading the note. "You have my
number, right?"

"Is it in the Chilton Student book? Cause I have that," she whispered back as
Mr. Medina walked back in.

"Yeah, but I'll give you my line and my cell," he said taking out another
sheet and jotting down the numbers in a hurry, since the bell was going to
ring.

"Great, I'll talk to you later," she said when Tristan handed her the numbers
while getting her things together as the bell rang.

"Bye Tripp, bye Cleo," she told the other two.

"She better not be getting a crush on you; stop leading her on, or our
assignment will be over before it starts," Cleo warned her partner.

"You do realize members of the opposite sex can be friendly to each other?
Without ulterior motives?" Tripp demanded. "But than I guess the Ice Queen
wouldn't know anything about being friendly without wanting something in
return."

"Whatever; just watch it Tripp... don't screw it up for me," Cleo said,
whirling out of the room without saying bye to Tripp, or a quiet Tristan who
had been watching the two talk in low voices.

"What was that about?" Tristan asked.

"Cleo throwing a temper tantrum... probably that time of the month, though
with Cleo there isn't much of a difference either way," Tripp said. "Come on,
let's get out of here."

*
PART EIGHT

     Cleo was steaming. She wanted to throttle Tripp. How could he be so
self-centered? Couldn't he ever do anything without hurting someone else in
the process? This was a serious mission... not a game, but two innocent
people's lives. Their own lives, also, if you counted the fact that they
would have to start their training all over if they flunked. She wanted to
strangle him. She got on the bus, and Rory got on and sat next to her.

"Cleo?" she asked.

Cleo looked up, "Oh hey, Rory," she said.

"What happened in there?"

"Oh... um... nothing," she mumbled, leaning her head against the window.

Tripp walked out to his car and thought about Cleo. She would give them away
if she wasn't careful. He didn't understand what was making her so mad. Too
bad he couldn't e-mail Zeus and ask him what to do about her.

"Why couldn't she be a normal girl... err, goddess, like the ones he dated;
he at least understood them. Their manipulative lies, pettiness, and back
stabbings were all part of familiar nature."

Driving to the house Zeus had obtained for them, he wondered how Cleo would
get home since she didn't have her car. Whatever; that was her problem, since
she was the one being so difficult. "I just hope she's not with Tristan."

Cleo got off a street away from the house that she and Tripp would be living
at for awhile. She walked up to the door, just as Tripp pulled up to the
driveway and got out. She galanced up at him as he came up the stairs. She
unlocked the door as Tripp came up behind her.

"Want me to get those?" he asked, pointing to her school bag and books.

"Sure, thanks," she said, wondering what was going on between them. It was
better when they where just classmates. But she let him carry her books as
she opened the door to their house on the damn mission.

"So how'd you get here?" Tripp asked, dying to know if Tristan had given her
a ride.

"I took the bus; did you know that Rory takes the bus?" she asked him,
throwing herself on one of the large chairs placed strategically around their
living room.

"She does? That could work to our advantage," he said, taking another chair.

"Yeah, that's what I was thinking," she told him, a bit absent mindedly
before they both fell into an uncomfortable silence.

"Look, I'm sorry Cleo; I guess I overreacted," Tripp finally said.

"Yeah you did, I'm not stupid Tripp. I wouldn't mess up our assignment by
flirting with some guy. Besides, I'm not that type of person who goes after
another girl's guy."

"Well, technically he's not her guy."

"Not yet; but with the two of us working together instead of against each
other they'll be together very soon," she smiled.

"So you're not mad?" Tripp asked hopefully.

"Only if you promise not to accuse me of junk like that again."

"Promise; I'm really sorry Cleo, I keep on forgetting you're not like the
girls I hang out with."

"Well first thing we do after completing our mission with flying colors is to
hook you up with a *nice* girl," she promised, getting up. "Now I have to go
and get all of this homework done and get some rest."

"Alright, later Cleo," Tripp called after her leaning into the chair with a
smile. Girls were so confusing; especially Cleo. One minute she was bitting
his head off, and the next she planning to set him up.

*
PART NINE

After a quick stop at Luke's for a cup of java goodness for herself and
Lorelai, Rory let herself into her house. "Honey, I'm home," she playfully
yelled, knowing that Lorelai was home today studying for a test.

"Oh oh oh! Did you bring presents? Did you? Did you?" her mother demanded,
coming into the room.

"Only if you've been good," Rory baited, holding out the coffee.

"I've been an angel! Now hand it over," she pleaded.

"Say please."

"Oh pretty please with a cherry on top!"

"All right; you can have it, just stop begging!" Rory said "So how's the
studying going?"

"I think I got it; I should have a B on the test. So how was school today?
Paris still planning your murder? Tristan still public enemy number 1?"

"Paris is still Paris but Tristan and I are cool for now. We have two new
students, Cleo and Tripp, and Tristan and I are thinking about setting them
up because they have this great chemistry; so we have a common goal."

"Matchmaking? Lorelai Leigh Gilmore!"

"Maaaa! What? We're not hurting anyone," Rory whined.

"Oh I am so proud of you! Butting into other people's business, especially
people who you just met! Oh you make me so proud! Give me a hug," she said,
grabbing her daughter. "This calls for a celebration; fatty, unhealthy
goodies from Lukes?"

"We always have fatty, unhealthy goodies from Lukes."

 Lorelai laughed." Oh yeah. Well, we can have some anyway then."

Rory giggled. "Okay, let's go." So mother and daughter went to celebrate. As
they were celebrating, Rory was trying to think of how to set up those two.
They definitely liked each other, you could just tell with them. She was sure
of it.

~ Next Day~

At Chilton the next day, Tripp pulled into the school parking lot and cut the
engine of his SUV. Cleo, who was in the passenger seat, hopped out of the car
just as Tristan pulled into the previously empty space next to them.

"Hey, Cleo, Tripp."

"Hi Tristan," Cleo said checking her homework, while Tripp and Cleo did the
cultured, wealthy, privileged, preppy boy handshake. (You know what I mean;
there's a different one each time!)

"What's up? How was you first night with Chilton homework?" Tristan asked as
the trio headed to the front of the school.

"I was kinda tired so I copied half off it from Cleo," Tripp yawned.

"I can't wait 'til we have the test; you're gonna bomb sooooo bad," she
laughed.

"Thanks for the vote of confidence; I always knew I could count on you to
make me feel good about myself," Tripp said sarcastically. "Tristan, dude,
how can you handle it? What they give in one night takes other schools one
month to do."

"Brainwashing," Tristan said solemnly. "They get you started off in
kindergarten; slipping in multiplication during color time and pretty soon
you're dividing before you can talk."

"Whatever; you guys are so lazy!" Cleo said good naturedly. "Oh look, there's
Rory; I'm going to go talk to someone who knows what true work and dedication
really is."
 
*
PART TEN

Tripp, Cleo, Tristan and Rory were all seated together just talking in one of
the smaller courtyards close to their first period. They were just relaxing,
enjoying the peace in their own world, even though around them the other
students were loud; well loud, at the Chilton level.

"I don't want to go class; can't we just stay out here and sleep?" Tripp
asked lazily.

"Now honey, you know you need to go to class and get your edumacation and
make me and Pa proud," Tristan joked in a high feminine voice, pinching
Tripp's cheek.

"Awww, but Maaa! None of the other kids gots to go," Tripp whined, getting
into the act.

"Now Trippy, sweetie... you know we only want you to be the best garbage
picker-uper in the world... and for that, you need to go to school and get
your edumacation," Tristan said with mock seriousity.

"Okay Ma; I'll go, but only so I can get my edumacation and make you and Pa
proud," Tripp threw back as Tristan pretended to wipe his eyes.

"Oh pumpkin, you're the best son we could ask for. Come here and give your
old Ma a hug," Tristan said, throwing his arms around Tripp's neck and
pretending to cry hysterically.

"Anything for you and Pa, Ma," Tripp joked, patting the hysterical Tristan.

"I love you, son," Tristan said, breaking the embrace and pretending to blow
his nose on Tripp's Chilton tie.

"I love you too, Ma," Tripp said, pretending to wipe his eyes on the corner
of Tristan's uniform blazer.

Cleo and Rory, who had been watching the two, exchanged a look. "I'm scared
now," they said in unison before they all cracked up.

"Ahem," Paris said, coming up to them and glaring. "Here; bring dates," she
said, throwing two flyers on their table and moving on.

"Brrr! Was it just me, or did it suddenly get colder in here?" Tripp asked,
pretending to shiver.

"Oh look, a dance!" Cleo said, grabbing one the flyers.

"A Night Under the Stars. How original," Tripp said sarcastically, looking at
the flyer as the bell rang, signaling the begining of the day.

"Alright kiddies; another stay at the salt mines starting with the wonderful
world of Ms. Charity," Tristan said while the four of them headed off to class

*
PART ELEVEN

The day went by much quicker then yesterday for Cleo and Tripp as they sat in
their now assigned seats in the last class of the day with a yet again
missing Mr. Medina.

"Where's the teacher, Mr. What's his name?" Cleo askedno one in particular.

"For such an employee of such prestigious school he sure slacks off a lot. I
do believe I'm being cheated out of my education," Tripp pretended to pout as
two girls he'd seen with the Ice-Girl; Paris, came up to them.

"Hey Tristan, Tripp," the blonde greeted, while the brunette just smiled.

"Louise, Madeline." Tristan briefly acknowledged them before putting his head
down again and resuming his nap.

"So Tripp are you going to the dance?" the brunette, Madeline, inquired this
time.

"It's a possibility." Tripp replied with a large grin.
"Will you lovely ladies be there?"

"Oh I think I'm gonna be sick," he heard Cleo mummer to Rory.

"Madeline, Louise" the Ice chick called from the otherside of the room, where
they sat, while glaring at them.

"We'll see you around," the blonde one promised, while the two headed back to
their seats.

"We'll see you around." Cleo mimicked laughingly "My, my, don't you work fast
Tripp."

"Careful Tristan looks like you're getting some serious competition." Rory
teased Tristan who was now sitting up and rubbing the sleep out his eyes.

"Huh, hey where's Mr. Medina?" he asked repeating Cleo's earlier question
while they all laughed.

"Aww you're so cute!" Cleo laughed petting his head while Tristan pretended
to glare.

"Rory the mean lady is picking on me," he whined.

"Awww, you poor thing." Rory laughed as one of the front office secretaries
entered the classroom.

"Students, I'm sorry to inform you that Mr. Medina will unable to attend
today seeing as he is seriously ill. It's is far to late in the day to get a
substitute but we trust you will behave in a cordial manner and remember you
are Chilton students," she said with distaste from being pulled away from her
work. "Now please continue with your previous
assignment."

"So, are any of you still going to the dance?" Tristan asked after the woman
left.

"Yeah, Cleo and I are going together." Tripp said, as Cleo was about to
reply.

"Excuse me?" his supposed date demanded turning around and glaring and him
with full force. If looks could kill, he'd be chilling with good ol' dad in
the Underworld right about now.

"Not now," his eyes begged while he kicked her lightly.

"Oh so you guys are dating?" Rory asked smiling.

Glaring at Tripp once more she turned to the others and forced a smile. "Oh
we're not dating; it's just that you know how I wanted to go to the dance and
since I didn't really know anyone else Tripp said he would take me."

"What about you two? Are you going?" Tripp broke in.

"No, I don't think so. My last dance here wasn't exactly a fun memory." Rory
said losing her smile.

"Why don't we all go together?" Tristan broke in. "Would you mind, since
you're not on a date," he asked.

"Sure" Cleo said while Rory at the same time said, "I don't think so."

"Oh please Rory. Please, please, please? Let me make it up to you," he
pleaded "We could even work on that thing we talked about earlier."

"Oh fine ... but only cause I want to work on our project," she said. "Now
stop begging; it's quite unbecoming," she sniffed as she'd seen her
grandmother do on many occasions.

"What project?" Cleo asked the two, glad that Rory was going to the dance; at
least they where on the right direction.

"Oh nu-nothing," Rory stuttered a bit turning bright
red just as the bell rang. "Oh look, there's the bell. I have to go, cause
I need catch my bus," she said practically running out of the room. "Bye!"

"Strange girl." Tripp said not at all meanly.

"Isn't she?" Tristan sighed smiling while Cleo raised an eyebrow. "I mean I
have to go now. Home. Cause I have some work andstuff. Later." he said
hurriedly grabbing his things.

"We sure know how to clean out a crowd." Tripp turned to a frowning Cleo.
"Now what did I do?"

"You know what. Why did you tell them we where going to the dance together?"
she demanded getting her things.

"Because what if he was going to ask you?" he groped for a good answer and
taking her books as they walked out of the classroom together.

Apparently the answer satisfied Cleo, because she wasn't frowning as much. "I
don't think he would ask me; but that was good idea."

"Yeah and the four of us going together was also a good idea." Tripp
complemented her with relief that she didn't kill him.

*
PART TWELVE

Tristan browsed through the shelves of the Hartford Barnes and Nobels
aimlessly. He was picking up a copy of "Nicholas and Alexandria" when someone
bumped into him making him drop his book.

"I'm so sorry," a familiar voice said "Are you okay?"

"I'll live," he said pulling himself eager to see who had bumped into him.
"Hey Mary ... couldn't stay away now could you?"

"Oh, it's just you," Rory said looking at him with dismay. "I thought we had
a truce."

"Oh yeah, sorry Rory," he smiled sheepishly putting his hands in his pockets.
"So what are you doing here?" he asked

"Nothing much, looking for a book; getting a drink. What about you?" she
asked picking up the book she had caused him to drop. "Nicholas and
Alexandria? Interesting reading material."

"Yeah, well I was juts looking around," he said grabbing the book from her
and putting it back while heading towards the cafe.

"It's a good book. The author took a different angle by sympathizing with
Czar Nicholas and his family," she said walking with him.

"What can I get you today?" the redhead behind the counter of the Starbucks
adjoin the book store asked the two.

"A medium caramel frapachino with extra whipped cream," Rory told the as the
waitress who attempting to flirt with an uninterested Tristan. "Tristan, what
do you want?"

"Same," he said turning towards Rory who was getting out her wallet. "I got
it this time; but next time it's your turn," he promised knowing that Rory
wasn't type of girl who leeched of guys.

"Ha, if there's a next time," she bantered while they waited for their drinks.

"Oh Rory of mine; your cruel words wound me," he said dramatically placing a
hand over his heart.

"Deal with it," she said as her heart skipped a beat at his words." So I
guess we don't need to hook Tripp and Cleo up anymore since they're going to
the dance together now I guess.

"I dunno." Tristan said taking a sip of his frapachino that the waitress
brought over.

"What do you mean by that?" Rory demanded.

"Well, Cleo said they where not dating; not even to the dance, they're just
going as friends cause Cleo wants to go and Tripp is going with her since she
doesn't know anyone else here."

"Yeah but its progress, progress that they're achieving all by themselves."
Rory pointed out.

"I know ... but what if something happens? At the dance, I mean. Like what if
they meet someone there?" Tristan asked. "That's why we have to be there and
keep an eye on them and make sure they stick together."

"I guess you're right. You know I kinda feel bad about this. We really don't
know them all that well and here we are shoving them together." Rory worried

"We're not shoving them together; pushing maybe; but not shoving. Besides,
they are so obliviously clueless to their own feelings. It's a crime really."
Tristan reassured her.

"Still I feel bad." Rory said chewing on her bottom lip.

"Well, look on the bright side," Tristan said tearing his gaze away from her
mouth.

"Which is?" Rory asked a bit exasperated.

"You get a date with me."

"I asked for the bright side, not the bad, dark, gloomy, scary, nightmarish
one," she joked

"Oh you're so mean."

"I try my bestest." she said cheekily.

"Keep on trying," he smiled; he felt ... good. Rory always did that to him.

"Oh, oh, oh! I have an idea!" Rory suddenly explained sitting up.

"What is it?" Tristan asked a bit alarmed.

"I think my mother just took over my body cause this is such a her thing but
I think I know how we can make sure Cleo and Tripp stay together," she said

"How?" Tristan asked curious himself.

"Jealously. We have to get them to like believe the other one is interested
in someone else," Rory said getting into her plan. "Like maybe you could
flirt with Cleo around Tripp?"

"Good plan but wouldn't work with me... Cleo would never fall for it; plus
she knows I'm interested in someone else," he said playing with his straw.

"Oh yeah. Summer right?" Rory said feeling a bit of jealousy though she
didn't know why.

"Summer? No way, I've been over her for a while," he said somewhat
uncomfortably. "So what's up with you and Farmer Joe? Is he going to mind
that we're going together?"

"Who Dean?" Rory asked surprised. "We broke up again; and this time we're
completely over."

"Oh. That's good," Tristan, said somewhat slowly as he processed the news.

"Yeah. Well, I have to go now Tristan. Thanks for the frapachino." Rory said
getting up.

"No problem. Do you need a ride home?"

"No thanks, I have the car," she thanked him leaving.

"Look out for the deers." he called after her, smiling as he heard her laugh.

*
PART THIRTEEN

  Rory hurriedly unlocked the door as she heard the phone ringing inside.
"Hello" she answered. It had been easy to find the phone today since Lorelia
had yet to get to it.

"Hey Rory." Lane said cheerfully.

"Lane! Hi, how are you? How was Korean Bible camp?" she asked while heading
into the kitchen.

"Korean Bible Camp-like. It figures the one time my mother would pull me out
of school would be for something as boring as that."

"Oh so you had fun than?" Rory asked sarcastically.

"Oh yes, oodles. In fact I'm going to beg my mother to sign me up for it for
the rest of my life," Lane replied equally sarcastic causing Rory to giggle.
"So how are things with you? How's life at Chilton Hell, I mean Chilton Prep."

"Pretty good actually," Rory replied truthfully.

"Really?" Lane asked astonished. "I leave for one week and this happens. Are
you sure the pod people haven't taken control of your body?"

"Pretty sure," Rory laughed. "Hey Lane, wanna go to Luke's for something to
eat? We only have pizza that looks older than me, besides I have so much to
tell you."

"Sure, just let me tell my mother I'm going to the library. I'll meet you
there in 10." Lane said.

"All right, see you then." Rory said hanging up.

*Luke's--- 15 Minutes Later*

"So what's up?" Lane asked sliding into the booth in which Rory was already
sitting in.

"What can I get you girls?" Luke asked coming up to them before Rory could
begin. "The usual?" to which both girls nodded.

"Well, guess who's going to the Chilton's Fall Ball with the Evil One?" Rory
asked.

"YOU?" Lane shrieked causing the other patrons to look up from what they
where doing and glare at the two. "You're going to a dance with Tristan
DuGrey? Public enemy number one, the bane of your existence, the same the
same guy that has trouble remembering your name, that Tristan DuGrey?" Lane
demanded in a lower tone.

"Yes, and he's public enemy number 3 now, after Paris, and the mean cafeteria
lady who does give coffee during lunch, yes, and he's learned my name now,"
Rory answered.

"Good choice, he's hott!" Lane approved as Luke brought over their food.

"Thanks Luke," both girls smiled as the older man just grunted before heading
back to the counter mumbling about painful early deaths and caffeine addicts.

"So when did this happen? I can't picture you willingly go to a dance, let
alone a Chilton dance, with former public enemy number one. So spill it,"
Lane ordered.

"Well, it all started with the two new kids, Cleo and Tripp..." Rory began as
she filled her best friend in on what's happening at Chilton over their
usuals at their favorite hang out.

"Wow ... sounds like something out of a WB drama," Lane said as Rory finished
her story.

"Doesn't it? I get to be the smart, Harvard-bound girl!" Rory joked.

"Only if I get to be the wacky best friend," Lane volley back. "I have to go
now, the library is gonna close in fifteen minutes and I should be home
before that," Lane said getting up.

"Okay. I'm should go home also," Rory said as they walked out together. "I'm
glad you're home Lane," Rory said hugging her best friend.

"I'm glad I'm home also, I missed you!" Lane said getting misty eyed.

*
PART FOURTEEN

Cleo roamed around the Hartford townhouse she and Tripp were sharing with
boredom. She had nothing to do since she had all her homework done and Tripp
was out and had taken the car with him. "I should have asked Zeus for a car
of my own," she groaned, while heading back to her room where she heard her
private phone-line going off.

"Hello?" she asked, picking up.

"Why didn't you tell me?" an impatient voice demanded through the other end.

"Hello Chastity, dear, I'm lovely, thank you for asking," she said
sarcastically as she greeted her best friend, a junior muse of fortunes. "Now
what is it that I didn't tell you?"

"How could you not tell me, your best friend in the whole wide universe, that
you have a date with TRIPP! Hottest guy at Olympus High, captain of the
football, basketball, and tennis teams!" she ranted.

"You forgot to mention that he's also class secretary, lead pitcher on the
baseball team, and was voted best smile," Cleo supplied.

"Don't get cute," Chastity chastised.

"Well, it's not a date," Cleo said while getting comfortable on her bed...
this was gonna take awhile. "Our assignments are two of the world's most
stubborn people, and the guy, Tristan, is a major flirt so Tripp was just
making sure that he didn't ask me out. No biggie."

"Suuuuure, no biggie at all. Other than the fact that you, my friend, have a
date with Tripp!" Chastity beamed through the phone.

"Chastity, for the zillionth time, it's not a date!" Cleo sighed. "Besides,
his quick thinking actually got our assignments to make a date."

"Yeah, yeah, whatever... so what are you gonna wear on your date?" Chastity
demanded, emphasizing the word "date."

"I'm not sure," Cleo sighed, giving up. "Hey, how do you know about this,
anyhow?"

"Oh, well I just happened to be in my mom's work shop and I asked to see your
fortune, and I found out that you had a date with Tripp," Chastity explained.

"You just 'happened' to be in your mother's workshop? And was your mother
there?" Cleo asked suspiciously.

"Well, no... not exactly," Chastity admitted guiltily. "So what are you going
to wear?"

"Fine, I can see you're trying to change the subject, besides I don't think I
should know all the details," Cleo gave in.

"What you don't know, won't hurt you," Chastity promised. "So what're you
gonna wear?!?"

"I have no idea. I think I'm gonna go call Rory, the female counterpart of my
assignment, and ask her to come shopping with me."

"Good idea, you go do that," her friend encouraged. "Okies Cleo, babe! I gots
to go now. Talk you later and hurry up with your assignment and get home!"

"K, bye Chastity! Stay out of trouble please!" Cleo said as her friend hung
up. "Now, where is Rory's number?" she asked herself, grabbing her address
book, finding the right page, and dialing.

After several rings, Rory picked up. "Hello?" she said. It took awhile to
find the phone since Lorelai had gotten to it earlier. Oh well, good things
do have to come to an end sometime.

"Hey Rory, it's Cleo," Cleo identified herself.

"Oh hey Cleo, what's up?" Rory asked, heading to her room.

"Well, I was just wondering if you wanted to go shopping for the dance. I'll
have the car so we can get started after school if you're not busy."
  
"Sure that would be great," Rory said with a smile. "Do you mind dropping me
off at my grandparents afterwards? I have to go there every Friday for
dinner."

"Sure, no problem," Cleo agreed easily. "I hope you can navigate us there
cause I'm absolutely clueless. I know how to get to school and home. That's
it."

"Oh sure. They live in Hartford, so it's not all that far from school. Well,
at least not as far as my house," Rory assured her.

"Great... So Rory, are you ready for your big date with Tristan?" Cleo
teased, knowing the girl knew she was only joking.

"Are you?" Rory asked back.

"I'm not going with Tristan, I'm going with Tripp remember?" Cleo laughed.

"That's not what I meant and you know it," Rory said. "So you ready?"

"I asked first," Cleo bantered.

"I asked second. Well, now that I've officially gone back to kindergarten, I
need to get off the phone. My mom's tearing apart the kitchen and I need to
go save it," Rory said, hearing Lorelai banging around in the other room.

"Let it die, painfully too! ALL kitchens are evil," Cleo laughed.

"Yeah, but ours is a nice kitchen! It's got flowers in it and chocolate and
coffee, also!"

"Oh, well, that's different! You can go save it then," Cleo permitted.
"Bye Rory, see you tomorrow."

"K, bye Cleo," Rory said while hanging up.

*
PART FIFTEEN

Rory got off the bus Friday morning and went to her locker to drop off the
clothes she planned to wear after school. She then went to the courtyard
where she knew she would find Cleo and Tripp, and maybe even Tristan, at what
they now considered "their table." Sure enough, she saw them all sitting at
the table when she entered. Cleo was flipping through a magazine while
Tristan and Tripp were playing with their Gameboy Advances.

"Hey Rory," Tripp called to her as she approached the table with a smile.

"Rory! I'm so glad you're here," Cleo said, throwing down her magazine.
"They're driving me insane," she said, pointing to the two boys who stared
back innocently.

"Who, us?" Tristan asked with wide eyes.

"Couldn't be!" Tripp finished.

"What did they do this time?" Rory asked, sitting down next to Tristan.

"Rory! How could you say that?" Tristan asked, wounded.

"Umm, it's really easy. You see, first I opened my mouth, formed the words,
and tada! Instant speakage," she smirked.

"You're mean," both boys pouted as Cleo laughed.

"So you ready to go shopping?" Cleo asked her.

"Shopping? Who's going shopping?" Tripp asked.

"We are, not that it's any of your business," Cleo told him. "Oh yeah, I'm
taking the car," she informed him, grabbing the keys out of his uniform
blazer pocket and putting them in her own.

Tripp pouted for a second and then turned to Tristan. "So Tristan, what
should I wear to the dance? My little, sexy black number?" Tripp asked in a
high voice.

"Oh girlfriend, you can't wear that dress again! It's so last season!"
Tristan responded in his best feminie voice, while Cleo and Rory groaned.

"Here we go again," Cleo sighed, remembering the previous morning.

"Ohmygosh! Trissie! I have to ask you, like, the most important question!"
Tripp turned to Tristan using his valley-girl voice.

"Like, what is it, Trippi?" Tristan asked, also using the same tone.

"What do you think I am? An autumn, or like, a summer?" Tripp demanded.

Tristan considered the question seriously while surveying Tripp," an autumn,
for sure," he said in a grave feminine voice.

"Oh my gosh! Thank you soooooo much!" Tripp riled. "I have no idea what I
would do without you," he said, grabbing Cleo's discarded magazine.

"So what do you think about this dress? Would it make my butt look too big?"
he asked Tristan.

"Girl, you are so not fat!" Tristan said looking over the dress with
interest. "I am soooo jealous! I wish I had your body, instead of all this
like, fat and like, stuff!"

"No! Ohmygosh! I'm the jealous one! You're like, sooooo gorgeous! I hate
you!!" Tripp continued

"That's it! I'm so gone," Cleo said, getting up and following an already
departing Rory.

"Nooo! Cleo I need your opinion," Tripp called after her.

"Rory! Mary! Don't leave me," Tristan also chimed in as both girls walked
faster without turning around. "I think we embarrassed them," he turned to a
laughing Tripp.

"Just a little," Tripp said, before going back to his Gameboy with Tristan
doing the same.

*
PART SIXTEEN

Cleo and Rory drove to downtown where all the best stores were. It was like
the Rodeo Drive of Hartford. Cleo parked the car in one of the parking lots
for various business buildings, and the girls walked the rest of the way.
Cleo, a seasoned shopper, drug them into each the stores.

"Let's go there," Rory said, pointing to a small boutique with a simple sign
hanging over it. It advertised the name "Luck." Though the girls had found a
lot of things, their perfect dress was still missing.

"Hello, my name is Melanie, may I help you?" a salesgirl asked them
cheerfully before they completely entered the elegant store.

"No thanks, we're just looking for now," Cleo answered politely before
practically dragging Rory to where dresses were. Both girls were a bit weary
of the sales person, due to the previous ones they had encountered during the
earlier part of their quest.

"All right, how about we both get three dresses for each other, and if one of
those isn't the ONE," Cleo emphasized, "then we pick our own, OK?" she asked
Rory who was already flipping through the dresses.

"I'm done," Rory practically sang about twenty minutes later to an also
finished Cleo.

"Me too, I wanna see every single one of those dresses, young lady," she
jokingly commanded.

"Yes, ma'am. Will do!" Rory playfully saluted as they exchanged the dresses.

They went through the clothes quickly, Rory finishing first without any of
her dresses being the one she was looking for. Cleo was on her last dress
while Rory sat down in one of the plush chairs placed around the dressing
room.

"Are you done yet?" Rory called to her.

"Almost, just give me a second," Cleo called back. "Now what do you think
about this one?" she asked, coming out.

"That's it! That's the dress!" Rory said happily as Cleo modeled the dress.

"That's one of the new designs we just got," the salesgirl, Melanie, told
them. "It's modeled after the Greek Goddess costume, but I have to admit, I
thought they were going to bomb but you seem to carry it off perfectly. And
I'm not saying this to make a sale, either," she assured them. "You look just
like a Goddess."

"You do, Cleo!" Rory agreed. "Like a princess of the Underworld, with Tripp
as your prince," she said, not realizing how close she was to the truth.

"It does look pretty good," Cleo said, closely expecting the dress. It was a
black and floor length, completely off shoulder on the right side. With her
blonde hair and light complexion, the affect was classic.

"Pretty good? It looks fantastic! We're not leaving until you buy that
dress," Rory said firmly.

"You don't have to tell me twice, but what about you?" Cleo asked, going back
to her dressing room where she changed into her regular clothes.

"I think I can help with that," Melanie appeared again, carrying in her arms
a dress. "I hope I got the size right," she said, handing Rory the dress.
"It's another one of our new designs."

"Go try it on," Cleo said, pushing Rory into the dressing room.

"Well, this was a very successful day," Rory said, coming out of her room
where Cleo and the salesgirl were waiting for her.

"You look so pretty," Cleo said, motioning Rory to twirl around, which she
did. Her dress was an ivy-jade green dress, with a square neckline that was
low-cut, yet still modest. The dress flared down at the skirt part. In other
words, a princess's dress.

"It looks lovely on you," Melanie agreed.

"Thanks," Rory smiled at them both before going back in again.

After the girls finished paying for the clothes, they did a bit more
shopping. Mostly for accessories, such as shoes. Cleo found the perfect pair,
whereas Rory had to place an order for hers to be dyed to match her dress.
They also found a little funky jewelry store where Rory found Cleo an arm
band that was the finishing touch to her outfit.

"This was a successful outing, wouldn't you say?" Cleo asked Rory as they
made their way to the Gilmore home.

"Totally, I'm surprised we found everything so soon," Rory commented.

"Yeah, but I'm not complaining," Cleo agreed slowing down as they reached
Rory's grandparents' street.

"That's me," Rory said, pointing to the house where she saw Lorelai's car
parked out front.

"Bye Rory, call me or something over the weekend," Cleo said as Rory got out
of the car with her numerous bags.

"Sure, bye Cleo," she said, heading inside where her grandparents and mother
awaited her.

*
PART SEVENTEEN

"All right everyone. Have a great time tonight andmost importantly be safe!"
Mr. Medina said as the bell rang ending the day andthe students practically
ran out of their classes with more excitement thenthey usually felt when
returning to their empty homes. "It's like a whole different school," Cleo
said as shewalked to the student parking lot with Tripp, Rory, and Tristan.

"Yeah, what's up with that?" Tripp asked turning to Tristan, as they all came
to do when Chilton threw another curve in the road just as they where getting
the deal. "Someone slipped them some human pills or what?"

"It's the day of the Fall Ball," Tristan supplied as the reached their two
cars.

"I did not know that," Tripp said in a deadpanned tone. "I thought I was
gonna dress up in the monkey suit to go bowling."

"It's just different," Tristan shrugged leaning again his car. "You'll know
when you get there. It's different from any otherChilton event."

"Yeah, my mom said the same thing," Rory said from where she was standing.

"Well, we should get going now if we wanna be ready on time," Cleo said
checking her watch.

"Okay, so we'll pick you up at Rory's then?" Tripp asked as he threw the keys
to his car to Cleo and got into Tristan's Corvette.

"See ya at 7," Rory said to the guys as Cleo started the car, she pulled out
of the school parking lot.


"So are you as excited about this dance as all the others are? And about your
date with Tristan?" Cleo added the last part for good measure; it had became
their private joke of sorts.

"It's gonna be fun, I'm glad I have friends to go with. What about you, are
you excited about your date with Tripp?" she asked.

Cleo rolled her eyes "Seriously though, what's up with you and Tristan? You
guys have been spending alot of time together."

"Yeah, well he's just trying to make up for being such a jerk when we first
met," Rory lied not wanting her to know that they where really trying to push
her and Tripp together. "What about you and Tripp?"

"What about us?" Cleo asked surprised. "We're on our way to becoming friends,
I hope it lasts when we go back home," she said the last part some with some
doubt.

"I keep on forgetting you're gonna leave," Rory frowned.

"Yeah well, let's not talk about that." Cleo said feeling down also.

"Cleo? Can I ask you a question?" Rory asked somewhat softly.

"Sure, what is it?" Cleo questioned her.

"Well, I know we haven't been friends all that long but I consider you to be
one of my closest friends, you and Tripp, hell even Tristan now. So if I
asked you something, would you answer truthfully? You know I wouldn't go and
blab it over the intercom during morning announcements," she babbled.

"Rory, spill it," Cleo ordered laughing.

"Do you like Tripp? I mean really, not as a friend or something, but
like-like," Rory rushed out. "I think you do but I want you to tell me, and
don't try to make a joke out of it please. "

Sighing Cleo pulled off the road and parked the car in an empty area. "Am I
obvious?" she asked

"Not really, it's just you've been acting differently. Both of you."


"I don't know if I like him, well yeah I do." Cleo sighed. "It's like ever
since we came here he's been so different. You can't believe how he was
before, at home. He was a major creep, and I couldn't stand him but then we
got here and he's been so sweet and funny, and I'm having so
much fun being with him. Now whenever I'm around him my heart starts to
flutter, I get all nervous and abnormally happy whenever I'm around him.
Urgh! Idon't know what's happening." she finished putting her head on the
steering wheel.

"Cleo... I think you're in love," Rory said with wide eyes, which only made
Cleo start to bang her head.

*
PART EIGHTEEN

"Mooom, that hurts!" Rory practically screamed as Lorelai curled a few
miscellaneous sections of her hair.

"No pain, no gain," Lorelai said cheerfully as she went back to the task at
hand.

"I'll get it," Lane said as the doorbell rang.

"Who could it be?" Cleo asked from where she lying down on the bed using a
facial mask.

"Anyone but my mother I hope," Lorelai answered her.

"Lorelai, why didn't you tell me that Rory was attending the Fall Ball with
Tristan DuGrey?" Emily Gilmore demanded entering her daughter's room with
Lane close at her heels.

"Speak of the devil," Lorelai mumbled under her breath as Rory giggled
softly.

"What was that Lorelai?" Emily demanded sitting down at the edge of the bed
where Cleo was.

"Uhhh, nothing. Just hello Mother," Lorelai smiled sheepishly.

"Really?" Emily said not believing her. "And who's this" she asked pointing to
Cleo who had cucumbers on her eyes therefore unable to see the gesture.

"That's Cleo, she just followed Rory home from school so we kept her."
Lorelai said as Cleo took the vegetable of her eye.

"Hello Mrs. Gilmore, I'm so pleased to meet you," she said politely smiling
as much as the mud mask allowed.

"Are you going to the dance also dear?" Emily asked her.

"Yes, Ma'am. I'm going with Rory, Tristan, and Tripp
another friend of ours from school."

"Why wasn't I told that Rory and Tristan where dating?" Emily asked her
daughter remembering her reason for being there.

"We're not dating Grandma," Rory broke in sweetly. "We're going as friends."

"So, Cleo how did you get Tripp's car scratched up?" Lorelai broke in saving
her daughter from further interrogation.

"It's not that bad ... it's just that the mailbox came out of nowhere when I
was pulling out of driveway in a hurry. Tripp was gonna make us late again so
I had to get started while he took his time as usual fixing his hair," Cleo
said defensively.

"Did he get all freaked out that his precious car got all scratched up?" Lane
asked laughing.

"Tripp? The other boy attending the dance with you?" Emily asked. "Why where
you driving his car and how could he make you late for school?"

"We're exchange students, the family we're staying with sent two kids in the
program so they agreed to host two other kids to even it out and since Tripp
and I knew we where going to be housing together we
only brought his car," Cleo said running over the story she had been using
since she came on the mission. "Well, I should go and get this gunk of my
face and start getting ready, we only have an hour left."

"I have to go also, I should have been home by now," Lane said also getting
up. "Bye everyone, Rory, take lots of pictures and call me when you get
home."

"So, Rory what are you wearing to the dance?" Emily asked her
granddaughterpleasantly.

"That's my dress over there," Rory said pointing to the closet door where
both her and Cleo's dresses where hanging.

"Which one dear?" Emily asked

"The green one Grandma,"

"It's perfect, and I have just the thing for you to wear with it," Emily said
drawing a jewelry box out of her handbag and handingit to her.

"What is it?" Rory asked holding the box.

"Well you won't know until you open it," Emily laughed

"It's beautiful," Rory said as she drew out a pearl necklace. "Thank you so
much!" she said as she hugged the older woman.

"Now, now dear. Don't mess up your hair. Besides, it's not me you should be
thanking; the necklace is no longer mine. It's your mothers, it's been passed
down to the first daughter in my family for quite a few generations and it
belongs to your mother now," she said looking an
unusually quiet Lorelai.

"Thank you Mom!" Rory said hugging her mother now. "I promise I'll bring it
back in one piece."

"Don't worry about it kid. It's yours now," Lorelai laughed.

"I'm gonna go get dressed now," Rory said grabbing her dress and heading down
to her room.

"Thanks Mom." Lorelai said looking Emily in the eye.

"Whatever was that for Lorelai? I was just passing down your heritage to Rory
as I'm sure you wished it."

*
PART NINETEEN

After about what seemed like an eternity of pictures taken by Emily and
Lorelai and even Sookie and Luke who dropped by to see their favorite Chilton
girl and friends leave for their night out the four friends walked into the
ballroom of the exclusive Hartford hotel where the dance was being held. Most
of the couples where on the floor though there were a
lot of their classmates mingling. Tripp slid his arm around Cleo's waist as
they headed in.

"What are you doing?" she asked in a stage whisper turning to him.

He grinned, "Playing my part," he whispered back. Since everyone had assigned
tables it took them awhile to find the right one, especially since they where
stopped every few minutes by people who looked their classmates, talked like
their classmates, but acted anything like their
classmates. The cold, calculating, competitive air was gone for the night.

"My, my you are delightfully trained," Cleo said amused and gleefully as the
boys pulled out the chairs for her and Rory.

"At your services madam," said Tripp bowing.

Tristan seated Rory, gently pushing her chair in when she was comfortable.

"Thank you," Rory said trying to mask the surprise in her voice.

"It's your night," Tristan said softly as he looked at her and smiled.

"You know you don't have to make it up to me anymore, right?" she asked him
quietly as Tripp and Cleo where engrossed in their usual verbal warfare.
"You've done more than enough to prove your friendship."

"I know, but I want to," Tristan said wincing as she uttered the dreaded "F"
word ... friendship. "Did I tell you how beautiful you look tonight?"

"Only about ten million times," Tripp interrupted them while Cleo punched his
arm.

"Ow! I'm sorry, jeez. Go ahead Tristan, tell Rory how beautiful she looks
again ... which she does as do you my fair violent maiden," he said turning
away from the blushing Rory to the exasperated Cleo. "It is maiden ...
right?"

"You're such a jerk," Cleo said punching him again even though she was
laughing as Louise and Madeline came up to them with their dates.

"Hey, you all came together," Madeline, noted cheerfully.

"I love your dresses," Louise said to the girls.

"Thanks" Cleo and Rory said together. "I like you dresses also," Rory said
smiling

"Well, as enthralling this discussion is going, I'm afraid I must simply
steal Cleo from you all... Oh Maiden Cleo, dance with me?" he said
dramatically as he offered her his arm.

"Maiden Cleo?" she asked taking his arm. "Sounds like something you would
name your yacht or a cruise ship."

"Oooh, you in a string bikini sunbathing, dare I say it. Topless?" Tripp
joked.

"Okay what does that have to do with anything?" Cleo asked they began dancing
to an unfamiliar song.

"Well, you said yacht or cruise ship, that equals water, and water equals
bikinis...duuuh Cleo. Obviously" he said pulling her closer.

Cleo sighed as she leaned closer to Tripp resting her head on his shoulder
noticing how perfectly they fit together, if only it would stay that way,
even at home.

"Hey, what's wrong?" Tripp asked tightening his grip on her, savoring the
moment. Who knew if he would ever get to hold her like this again? "Is it the
topless crack?"

"Huh?" Cleo asked looking up as she came out of her daze. "Tople..? Oh no. I
was just thinking."

"Oh so that's what I smelled burning?" Tripp joked as Cleo purposely stepped
on his foot.

"Ouch! Okay, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to insult your undenied brilliance Ms.
Future Valedictorian of Olympus High's class of 2003." Tripp said
dramatically. "Seriously though what's wrong?" he
asked her.

"Nothing's wrong, just drop it okay?" she snapped trying to pull out his
tightening grasp, feeling a bit flustered at how close she was to admitting
her feelings to him.

"It's not okay, look let's just go outside," Tripp sighed pushing her through
the sea of dancing students out to the balcony. "Now what's the deal?" he
asked practically pushing her on to the stone bench.

"Nothing," Cleo sulked folding her arms.

"Nothing? Then why are acting like a five year old?" He demanded leaning
against the balcony railing. "Oh Zeus! You're PMSing aren't you?" he asked a
bit terrified at the thought of a chemically imbalanced Cleo, as if the
regular version wasn't enough trouble.

"Why is it whenever a guy can't handle a girls emotions he always assumes
she's PMSing?" she demanded turning to him.

"You are, aren't you?" he asked horrified.

"No!" Cleo yelled as she felt the tears trying come out.

"Oh, I'm sorry. Don't cry Cleo." Tripp said sitting to next to her and
putting his arms around her shoulders.

"I'm not gonna cry, and if you say that again I'll make you wish you where
with your father right there and then," she said in a shaky voice.

"Cleo babe, you always do that. Nothing new," he said kissing her hair.

"Babe? Excuse me but do I look like a small pink talking farm pet to you? I
don't think so!" she said flustered as she felt his lips on her hair. "Oh my
gosh! He's kissing me hair! Why is he kissing me hair?" she thought to
herself.

"Oh pardon me Miss Cleo," he said bringing her closer. "Now tell the wise all
mighty Tripp what's wrong. Unless you want to spend the rest of the night in
the cold balcony with me."

"Okay, okay, okay Wise One! I'll tell you ... just anything but that. I can't
handle the torture," she joked.

"Oh you're hilarious. Ever though about taking your show to the road?" he
asked rolling his eyes. "Now spill it."

"Umm, it's nothing much, it's really stupid also it's just that I'm getting
frustrated about our assignment and I miss Chastity and my parents and the
pets and home. And I want to help Rory and Tristan and do beyond perfect on
our assignment but I'm gonna miss them so much when we go home," she sighed
admitting only half the story.

"Yeah, yeah that's nice, me too but what's the real deal?" Tripp asked not
all that convinced.

"What do you mean?" Cleo asked innocently. "That's all there is, I told you
it was stupid."

"Please, how stupid do I look?" he asked impatiently. "No, don't answer that.
Just tell me the real thing. For crying out loud you where gonna cry! What is
it? A guy?" he asked, his heart twisting a bit at the thought of Cleo with
another guy.

"I do not cry over guys," she huffed indignantly.

"It is a guy isn't it? Who is he, huh? Tristan? That Chad guy from drama back
home? He doesn't return your feelings? What, does the asshole think he could
do better than you? Is he gay?" he ranted angrily at the thought of *his*
Cleo being brokenhearted because some prick didn't treat her like the
Goddess, the Queen she was, like how he would. "Who the fuck is he?" he
demanded just as Cleo pulled on his jacket lapel brining him close to her and
kissed him deeply.

"You, it's always been you. I have to go." Cleo said breaking away with wide
eyes. "I don't know why I did that. I'm sorry!"

"I'm not," Tripp said bringing her closer for another kiss. "Hey, you're
serious right, you're not playing me?" he asked breaking the kiss this time.
"Cause, I like you Cleo, no more than like you, I..."

"I'm not playing with you," Cleo promised silencing him. "I love you."

"Really?" Tripp asked brightening up. "I love you too, but what took you so
long. I've been waiting for you since I hit puberty but you always had that
untouchable thing going on and you only payed any attention to me when you
where biting my head off."

"Well, I'm sorry I took so long. Be patient?" she asked kissing his right
hand, which was holding hers.

"Anything for you," he said kissing her neck. "Now about our assignment..."

"Let's go back inside and check up on them." Cleo said finishing her sentence
as they headed back to the ballroom hand in hand where their friends were
waiting.

*
PART TWENTY

"Where do you think they are?" Tristan asked Rory, as the
last of their classmates finally left them to themselves.

"I saw them heading to the balcony earlier, but it's been
like at least ten minutes by now," Rory answered him.

"Oooh, Tripp's getting some," Tristan leered, much like the
old Tristan would, as Rory balled up her napkin and aimed
for his head.

"Okay Shaq, calm down. I get the point." Tristan laughed as
he felt the napkin hit his head. "I couldn't resist."

"Couldn't resist what?" Cleo asked coming up behind him,
her face beaming with Tripp holding her hand.

"Couldn't resist telling Rory how beautiful she looked for
the ten million and one time," Tristan saved himself,
smoothly. "And where were you two crazy kids. What were
you doing out on the balcony, nothing I wouldn't I hope."

"And that is?" Rory asked him with mock politeness as
Tristan gave her a hurt look.

"Tripp is there a reason you're pulling Cleo's arm out of
her socket?" Tristan asked turning back to the other two.

"Not really, I just felt like holding my girlfriend's hand.
Is that okay Your Highness?" Tripp asked Tristan with a
grin while kissing Cleo's neck.

"So long as ... you're what?" Tristan asked as it sunk in
what Tripp had said.

"Cause-he-felt-like-holding-his-girlfriend's-hand..." Rory
repeated slowly as if speaking to a child. "It's about
time," she then whispered to Cleo.

"Sheesh, what's gotten into you Mary? What happened to that
sweet girl?" Tristan said shaking his head sadly. "Kids
today, I blame that damn MTV."

"Riiight, well Gramps Rory and I are gonna go smoke a joint
in the girls restroom now and plan our next tattoo," Cleo
said as she and Rory left the table with both boys looking
after them.

"Could you be any more obvious?" Tripp asked turning to
him.

"Excuse me?" Tristan asked tearing his eyes away from
Rory's retrieving figure.

"You and Rory, you're acting like an old married couple,"
Tripp verified.

"Who us? Excuse me Fred but aren't you the one that just
came back from the balcony with Ethel? I know it wasn't
Rory and me cause we were here the entire time. Since we're
such good friends," he said the last word with some
distaste.

"Tristan, Tristan ... how the mighty have fallen," Tripp
sighed leaning back into his chair with his hands folded
behind his head.

"What's that supposed to mean?" Tristan asked him.

"You practically turn purple every time Rory mentions the
word friendship. You want her and you think she doesn't see
as you anything more than a friend. Right?"

"I don't think it, I know it. We're the next Thelma and
Louise, Lavern and Shirley, the next...."

"Okay, okay enough Nick at Nite for you," Tripp interrupted
him. "Seriously though, Rory likes you. And not in the
platonic way, she just doesn't realize it yet. It's up to
you to get the ball rolling," he advised.

"And since when are you the expert on affairs of the
heart?" Tristan asked amused.

"Since I got an incredibly smart, hot girlfriend and you're
on your way to being best buddies with your Betty," Tripp
smirked.

"How did that happen anyhow? I bet Cleo had to do
everything and you probably just stood there like an idiot,
or worse yet, you probably said something stupid when she
told you that she actually liked your sorry self," Tristan
laughed

"No, actually I approached Cleo. I told her that the two
of us should be an "us" and she agreed with me and so we're
now an "us,"" Tripp said arrogantly.

"I believe, you really I do," Tristan said, not at all
convinced.

"Whatever, hey where are they anyhow?" Tripp questioned.
"What do girls do in the bathroom for so long?" Tripp
asked, growing impatient at the disappearance of the girls.

"They're probably in there talking about us. Cleo's most
likely telling Rory what happened on the balcony and
they're also talking to some other girls and probably also
telling them what happened on the balcony. They're also
gonna talk about what they think of the dance, what
everyone's wearing, their dates, and what kind of kisser
you are," Tristan told him in a bored tone.

"How do you know that? Did you suddenly develop ESP or
something?" Tripp inquired not believing him.

"It's like the law of nature, dogs pee in your shoes, cats
shed on your clothes, and girls hold meetings in the
bathrooms. They have couches and everything in there since
they're usually there for awhile,"

"Nuh-uh, Cleo and Rory aren't gossipers," Tripp defended
the girls, still not convinced of Tristan's accusations of
what girls were like.

"It's not gossip, it's more like sisterhood or something.
They always have to talk about things like that. It's in
all girls, that's how they're programmed."

"Are you talking about the group meetings in the girls
bathroom?" Brad, a friend of theirs from their AP Euro
class, questioned-detecting what the already started
conversation was about. Some more guys were behind him as
they all grabbed some chairs and sat down.

"Yeah, you lost your dates also huh?" Tristan asked them.

"What do they do in there?" Erik, another one their
friends, requested to know the answer to this question most
guys ask.

"Talk about us mostly," Tony, a new transfer student from one of the all boys
boarding school told him.

"So Tripp, you and Cleo? What up with that bro?" Philip
asked turning to Tripp.

"How'd you know?" Tripp asked surprised.

"Disney told me," Philip replied.

"I didn't know Cleo knew Disney," a confused trip replied
to Phillip.

Phillip took in a deep breath. "I dunno, they might not
but Tara told her and she heard it from California, who
heard from Ash who told Amber and Star, who told Misty who
told Ashley who overheard Rory and Cleo in the girls room,"
he explained in one breath.

Tripp said, "Damn, and we only came in like five minutes
ago," with a mixture of shock and amazement.

"They're girls, they work differently from us," Brad told
them solemnly.

"That's some freaky stuff," Tripp stated shaking his head.

"What is?" Cleo asked coming up behind him and kissing him
lightly.

"Nothing, just how loosened up everyone is," Tripp lied,
pulling her into his lap, since the other guys had taken
all the other seats.

"So where's Rory?" Tristan questioned Cleo, scanning the
room when she didn't return with her.

"Oh she's talking to California and Disney about
something," Cleo said smiling at Tristan knowingly.

"Oh so they're out now?" Philip's attention perked up when
he heard his girlfriend's name.

"Yeah, they're coming over here and yes Brad, Dare is with
them," Cleo told the male half of one Chilton's Golden
Couple.

"Stealing our dates Cleo?" Dare, Brad's girlfriends asked
jokingly, coming up to her longtime boyfriend.

"You can keep them," Disney, Philip's on and off
girlfriend, said kidding as she tried pulling him out of
his chair, which he gave to Rory.

"Just as soon as we show them off a bit more," California
laughed as she dragged Erik out of his chair as well.

"Hey, Rory wanna dance?" Tony asked, and much to everyone's
surprise she said yes.

"What the hell?" Tristan yelled at himself in shock as he
watched the two walk off laughing at something Tony said.

"You snooze, you loose," Tripp told him. "Now go and cut
in."

"Cleo, Tripp smile for the yearbook," a short guy with a
camera said coming up to their table and interrupting the
hushed conversation Tripp and Tristan where having. "This
is going under cutest couples."

"Do you know that like half the people here know we're
dating?" Tripp asked after the guy left, turning face to
face with his girlfriend who was still sitting in his lap
quite content.

"Only half?" she questioned, not completely kidding leaning
in for another kiss.

"Before this turns into a full fledged make out session I'm
gonna go," Tristan said getting up. "You know, I'm not sure
what's worse. You're fighting or the mushiness." Tristan
joked.

Cleo laughed, "You're just jealous."

"Nah, Tripp's not my type." Tristan threw back at her.

"Hey! What's that supposed to mean? I thought you loved
me!" Tripp said pretending to be hurt.

"You should go dance or something now" Cleo interrupted the
guys, knowing if she didn't Cleo and Tripp wouldn't have
any time to themselves.

"Hey Tristan!" Tripp called as they started to leave. "You
know what we were talking about earlier, about getting the
ball rolling? Well, you better get started before it's too
late," Tripp advised him.

"Know what? I think I will," Tristan smiled heading out to
look for Rory.

"What was that all about? Cleo asked him.

"Oh nothing much, just offering some friendly advice," Tripp
offered. "Hopefully he takes it otherwise you might never
have a chance to miss Rory or even the blockhead over there."

"Well, than my advice to you would be to dance with your
girlfriend rather than just sitting around," Cleo threw her
thoughts in and stood up.

"You know I'm always open to new suggestions, especially
ones like that." Tripp said as they also left the table.

*
PART TWENTY-ONE

Tristan scanned the room for Tony and Rory and much to his
disappointment the pair where nowhere to be found.

"Hey Tristan" Ash, one of his former girlfriends chirped
coming up to him.

"Hey Ash," he smiled "How's it going?"

"Good, you having fun?" she asked him

"Of course Madame Chairman, with your superb leadership
skills the dance committee did an awesome job, I bow to
your superiority," he said giving a mock bow.

"It's Madame Chairperson," she corrected indignantly.

"Oh, pardon me, I apologize for my idiotic mistake. Oh
please forgive me Ash, I couldn't bear it if you didn't,"
he pleaded dramatically.

"If you dance with me, I might consider it," she remarked
pretending to give the matter great thought.

"As you wish Madame Chairperson," Tristan laughed leading
her out to the dance floor, all thoughts of finding Rory
momentarily gone.

"Hey, look it's Tony and Rory," Ash said pointing out the
couple. "Don't they look cute together?" she asked a now
silent Tristan.

"Adorable," Tristan replied drolly.

"Don't tell anyone this but Tony has a huge crush on her,
we're talking monstrously gigantically huge here," Ash said
grinning as Tristan tried to pull them away from Rory and
Tony.

"Since when?" Tristan asked alarmed.

"Like forever," Ash laughed. "He's been sweating her since
his first day but he when he found out about her boyfriend
he backed off."

"Then why's he dancing with her now?" Tristan asked.

"Because her and her boyfriend broke up Silly!" Ash laughed
again. "You should know that right, since you guys are so
tight."

"Oh, yeah. I did," Tristan, replied, wondering if he was
ever going to get a chance with the girl of his dreams.

"I have an idea!" Ash squealed, ignoring how displeased
Tristan was with the eagerness to talk about some guy
trying to hook up with *his* future girlfriend.

"What?" he asked not really caring.

"You could help them get together," she told him smiling
brightly as Tristan rolled his eyes.

"Why?" Tristan asked as Ash burst into laughter again. €˜Did
I really date this girl? All she does is laugh or giggle
about the stupidest things,' he thought to himself. "Not
like Rory."

Mean while Tony and Rory where having their own
conversation.

"Look, its Ash and Tristan," Tony pointed out the couple to
Rory.

"Oh, they look like their having fun," Rory smiled even
though she felt like grinding her teeth as she saw some
girl pawing *her* boyfriend, err friend.

"Of course they are," Tony replied easily.

"What's that supposed to mean?" Rory questioned looking up
to him

"Oh, well they dated like practically for four months last
year. The longest Tristan has ever been with a girl," Tony
informed her. "I guess you didn't know since you didn't
really do the Hartford social scene."

"Yeah, I guess not" she sighed looking at the two dancing
with dismain. 'Don't worry about it, it's not like they're
gonna go out again,' she told herself silently.

"Yeah, Ash told me she was gonna try to get back together
with him," Tony continued, oblivious to Rory's discomfort.

"What?" Rory asked shocked, looking up at Tony in alarm,
who in turn was looking down at her smiling

"They are just to cute," Ash told Tristan as they danced.
"I think they might kiss."

"What?" Tristan demanded dropping all pretence of dancing
and headed over to the other two with a smiling Ash at his
heels.

"Hey, Tri...." Tony's greeting was interrupted as Tristan
pulled Rory out his arms and glared at him.

"What do you think you're doing?" he demanded glaring as he
held a confused Rory close to him oblivious to the stares
they all where getting.

"Dancing... last time I checked," Tony said confused.

"Don't bother lying, I know what you were going to do."
Tristan snarled

"Tristan, what are you doing?" Ash asked coming up to him
and Rory and putting a hand on his arm.

"Do you mind?" Rory snapped, quite uncharacteristic of her,
as she was glaring at the quickly retrived hand.

"Don't try it Tony, Rory's not available." Tristan told the
other guy.

"Since when?" Tony demanded. "Last time I checked her and
that other guy broke up."

"She's my girlfriend!" Tristan practically yelled.

"Since when?" a shocked Rory echoed her former dancing
partner.

"Well, that is if you want to... do you?" Tristan blushed
suddenly remembering whom he was holding.

"I might have to think about it," she beamed as she
pretending to give it great thought.

"Are you done thinking?" he asked her shyly.

"I guess so, I mean you do have a way of making my dances
interesting," she said leaning up to give a quick kiss
which he gladly returned.

"Hey, you didn't cry this time," he told her as they headed
away from the stares and such.

"Oh we are so bad," Ash said as Tony wrapped an arm around
her waist.

"We rock," Tony agreed kissing his longtime girlfriend.

"So would you do it again?" his best friend Brad asked
coming up to them with his girlfriend Dare.

"Hell no! I thought Tristan was gonna kill me," Tony said
shaking his head.

"Rory gave me like a major deadly glare, good thing looks
can't kill cause if they did I'd be six feet under," Ash
said pretending to shudder.

"It's a good think they didn't know you guys where dating,
otherwise that plan would have been wasted," Dare told
them.

"Good thing Tony transferred after Tristan was to busy with
Rory to notice any new people, let alone couples," Ash
smiled up at her boyfriend.

"Know what? I'm kinda bummed that Cleo and Tripp already
hooked up, it would have been fun to get them together as
well," Dare said pouting.

"Oh no, no way," Tony groaned. "I'm not doing any more
matching, EVER. It's a hazard to my health,"

"Exactly, besides Tristan has been our friend since
kindergarten so it's okay for us to get all up in his business,
but we don't know Tripp and Cleo so it would be bad for us
to meddle in their lives," Brad reprimanded his pouting
girlfriend. "Why don't you two help Paris, or someone else
we know."

"We don't do miracles," Ash said not all to nicely as they
headed to their table.

"Ash Gwenth Shilings that is so mean!" Dare laughed.

"Well it's true! She's such a bit.."

"We get the point," Tony laughed covering her mouth. "Why
do you hate her so much anyhow?"

"First of all she started it, ever since I had those four
dates with Tristan during Freshman year she's labeled me
Mary Magdalena of Chilton."

"Awe hun, don't let the mean old prude let you feel bad,
she's just jealous," Dare laughed as she stuck her tongue
out at Ash while Tony began laughing as well.

"Bro, it's not that funny," Brad said shaking his head.

"No it's just that Tristan and Rory and oh man you should
have seen her face when I told her Ash and Tristan went out
for almost four months, rather than four dates," he cracked
up again.

"Tristan DuGrey date a girl for four months? Good God, man
are you crazy?" Brad said laughing also. "She actually
believed that?"

"Well, Rory and Tristan are going to be together for much
longer that four months," Dare predicted nudging her
boyfriend with her elbow to quite him.

*
PART TWENTY-TWO
     
"Tristan slow down, and quit pulling on my arm. I prefer it
attached to the rest of me," Rory ordered as Tristan practically
dragged her to the hotel lobby for a few minutes of privacy.

"I prefer your arm and the rest of you as well," he grinned
before kissing her deeply. "Hmm, I could get used to this,"

"You're not the only one," Rory smiled leaning her head
against his shoulder, marveling at all the changes. She
broke up with her first boyfriend not to long ago, and
was now actually dating a guy she once considered the
ban of her existence.

"What are you thinking about?" Tristan asked her.

"Everything" was the simple reply she gave.

"Everything? Care to narrow it down to something?" he
joked.

"I never dreamed that I would be sitting out in the lobby
of such a fancy hotel with you after you rudely interrupted my
dance and threatened bodily damage to my innocent partner," she
confided.

"You didn't? I'll tell you a secret, even though I've
dreamed about you in many different situations I
never planned this either. It's just that when I
thought he was going to kiss you and I lost it, I just
couldn't stand to see you and Tony, especially since he
has a huge crush on you." Tristan confided a bit embarrassed. "I
know I should have expected it, and I actually prepared
before coming here but actually seeing you dance with some
guy just made me loose it."

"That's so sweet Tristan, in a strange barbaric way but
you'll have to excuse me for finding it to be a little hard to
believe," Rory raised an eyebrow.

"Why?"

"Why? Umm, maybe because you where hard on me since day
one. Always tormenting me and calling me Mary and just being really
annoying!" she told him in frustration. "Stop laughing Tristan, I'm being
serious."

"Rory, Rory, Rory. Don't you remember in kindergarten how
the guys always hit the girl they like or pulled their hair
or call them weird names?" he questioned. "Well, I guess a part
of me was still stuck in the five year old stage."

"Wait, so you're telling me that all this tike you've been
a jerk to me because you honestly like me? I kinda find that
hard to believe," Rory laughed. "Look, we can just drop it, what
was then is then and I know that was part of the act but since
we've became friends I know you're not like that so it's okay. So
long as you don't do it again."

"So is that all we are, friends?" Tristan asked

"More the friends ... much more. But can we..."

"Go slow?" Tristan finished. "As slow as you want," he
promised "Just one thing."

"What is it?" Rory asked smiling up at him in relief.

"I just want you to know that it was a game at first, but
then I started falling, noticing you and how strong you where
and nice to all of us even though we where pretty cruel at
first and I keep falling," Tristan admitted. "What about you, and dark
desires you wanna 'fess up to?"

"Ahhh, no! Not really," she giggled. "Well, I do admit I've
been seeing you in an unplatonic light lately."

"So the truth comes out!" Tristan laughed victoriously.
"Did you stay away all night thinking about me, wishing
I was there with you? You know it's every teenage guys number one fantasy,
his girlfriend and him in her room. It's true, stop laughing," he protested.

"You'll never change will you?" she asked him not all
serious. "But it's okay ... you kinda grew on me, like a
fungus but nonetheless you're my fungus now I guess."

"Aww honey, you're to sweet."

"Since we're doing the truth thing I guess I have to tell
you I was sorta jealous when I saw you and Ash, I'm she's so
beautiful and smart. The kind of girl you usually date and the Tony
told me you guys went out for four months and I know that's like
a record for you so that didn't really help matters either." Rory admitted
shyly.

"You never have anything to be jealous about, girls like
Ash where just toys to keep me busy till I met you," he told
her earnestly. "And what do you mean we went out for four months,
we didn't even have four dates!"

"But Tony said that you guys went out for four months
during Freshman year..." she trailed off.

"He probably made that up because he's practically in love
with you. Ash told
me he was planning on asking you out today." Tristan said
angrily.

"Tony? The same Tony I was dancing with?" Rory asked
incredulously. "I didn't even know his name till tonight, and let
me be the first to assure you this was the first time we've ever talked,
he's never really paid any attention to me."

"I smell a rat," Tristan frowned.

"Excuse me?" Rory asked confused.

"You know it's kinda weird that Ash asked me to dance all
of a sudden out of nowhere and how she kept on talking
about you and how much Tony likes you. It's very unlike
her to help anyone unless there's something in it for her or
she, and usually Dare her partner in crime can get a kick
out of it."

"And you where they're pet project this time?" Rory asked
not all convinced.

"I guess we where, who knows. They're probably also sulking
that they couldn't get Tripp and Cleo hooked up and Brad probably had
to tell them to not get up into other people's business."

"I dunno, I kinda find it hard to believe that they would
hook us up." Rory said still unbelievingly.

"Well, it's not for sure. Dare, who likes to mother hen all of us,
especially me. They most likely started the thing and Ash loves a
power trip so she would of course help her," Tristan filled her in.
"Oh who cares, we're together and that's all that matters," he got up
and pulling Rory with him.

"I couldn't have put it better myself, now let's go back
inside," Rory agreed.

"As you wish."

*
PART TWENTY-THREE

"Have you seen Rory or Tristan?" Cleo asked Dare and Brad
who where cuddled together. She and Tripp had been
looking for the missing duo ever since Tristan headed off
to tell Rory how he felt.

"They should be out in the lobby" Ash walked up with Tony,
both where smiling as if they where the only people in the
world.

"The lobby?" Tripp frowned. "Why would they be in the
lobby? I thought Rory was with you Tony. And weren't you
and Tristan dancing, Ash?"

"Oh yeah," Ash giggled. "That was before Tristan flipped
and did a total caveman routine and dragged Rory out."

"Oh and it had nothing to do with your little mind games?"
Brad grinned.

"Mind games? Moi?" Ash widened her eyes innocently at the
rest of her friends while Cleo and Tripp exchanged worried
looks.

"Okay what happened?" Cleo demanded, turning to the other
girl.

"I think you should wait for Tristan and Rory to get the
full scoop but I'll give you a hint. Two couples, including
yourself got hooked up today."

"Two couples? You mean Rory and Tris..." Cleo shot a
worried glance at Tripp who was also frowning.

"Got it on one," Ash interrupted. "Isn't it great? You guys
can have the same anniversary now!"

"We should go and look for them now," Tripp gave Ash his
best smile even though he felt like ringing her neck. "Who
knows what those crazy kids are doing."

"Wait, are you two together?" Cleo turned to them when she
saw how closely Tony held Ash.

"A full year on the fourteenth," Tony confirmed.

"Then why... Rory... I'm confused," Cleo frowned, her
eyebrows together in confusion. "Why where you and Rory
dancing instead? And how come we've never seen you guys
together?

"It was all part of the plan," Ash supplied helpfully. "You
know, to get them together."

"Ohhh, yeah that's good." Cleo replied faintly as Tripp
dragged her away. "Oh Zeus, what are we gonna do
now Tripp? We screwed up our assignment big time!"
she hissed as they went to find the others.

"I have no fucking clue," Tripp groaned. "What can we do
though, it's not our fault someone got the job done before us,
and it's not like we didn't try."

"We're screwed, aren't we?" Cleo turned to him. "No more sports,
valediction ship, class officers, any of the preps we have."

"Who knows, Zeus might not make us start over since the job
was done," Tripp comforted. "But you know what? I wouldn't
change any of this for anything. Not even if had to go to
kindergarten again because we got to be friends with some
great people and got the chance to know them and most
importantly, we're together."

"You're right, it worked out for the best. We might not
have gotten to be real friends with them if we had finished
earlier, and we probably wouldn't be together and...I'm glad
we are, you mean a lot to me Tripp, I'm glad I finally realized
that," Cleo leaned in to kiss him just as they both where
enwrapped in glowing white light and disappeared.

"Where are we?" Tripp looked around a large, white, airy
room filled with light that came through the huge open
windows that covered the room, clutching Cleo's hand tightly.

"Zeus," Cleo whispered faintly.

Are you okay Cleo?" Tripp shook her gently, sitting her in
one of the comfortable chairs cluttered around the room.
"What about Zeus, do you think he's mad at us? He will get
us out of here if we're in trouble, unless he put us here.
Do you think that's it? He put us here? Is that it?"

"No, no, no! Zeus, as in behind you," Cleo regained her
control forcing Tripp to twist around and see the God
lounging in a business chair behind an oak table, both had
not been there previously. "And they say blondes are slow,"
she chided placing a chaste kiss of on her shocked
boyfriends cheek who was staring at the other God, jaw
slack.

"Are we in trouble?" Cleo demanded, getting out of her
chair, which Tripp quickly sat in, and striding over to
Zeus.

"Why would you be in trouble? Did you do something that I
would disapprove off?" Zeus reclined in his chair looking
amused.

"You know what, she means," Tripp defended Cleo, getting
out of the chair and placing a comforting arm around her.

"No, I don't. I'm getting old, so maybe you could help an
old man in his dotage and explain what it is you two did
that would place you in trouble this time." Zeus rolled his
eyes and looked at the ceiling in annoyance.

"We failed our assignment," Cleo stated as if it explained.

"Really? Refresh my memory but did I say you would suffer
some dire consequences if you failed your assignment?" he
asked. "Other than not participating in any extra
curricular activities and staring all over, at a high
school level, not kindergarten, Tripp," he looked pointedly
at a flushed Tripp.

"It's not polite to eavesdrop on other people's
conversations," Cleo reprimanded primly.

"Well, I can do it to you two cause you're on an assignment
for me, so there," Zeus stuck his tongue out at her.

"That's real mature," Aphrodite shimmered into the room,
laughing at the other, elder God in the room.

"She asked for it," Zeus sulked.

"The horror!" the Goddess laughed before going over to the
junior Gods. "I hear congratulations are in order," she
leaned over hugging her students. "It's about time you two
got together."

"How'd you know?" Tripp demanded. "Was everyone spying on
us?"

"Just about," Aphrodite replied easily. "Now what's this
about failed assignments?"

"We failed our assignment," Cleo reported glumly.

"Really, you mean Tristan Jalen DuGrey and Lorelia Leigh
Gilmore are not together after all?"

"They are, but it wasn't because of us. Some mortals got
them together." Tripp informed her.

"Oh, I get it. You wanted the glory for yourself," Zeus
nodded as if he understood. "Got it."

"No! That's not it. We failed our assignment cause we
didn't get them together," Cleo frowned at the difficult
elder.

"Then what are you complaining about? Your assignment was
to make sure that they got together, where did it say you
actually had to do it yourself?" he demanded exasperated.

"WHAT?!"

"You mean you two actually thought that you actually had to
get them together yourself?" Zeus laughed. "Excuse me, but
last time I checked Eros was alive and kicking, and his magical
little golden arrows where in working order."

"They why did you pull us out, and where are we anyhow?"
Tripp waved a hand around the spacey room.

"In my office," Zeus replied. "What you don't like it? My
decorator said it was very fitting for someone of my position,
especially when I do business. Tell me the truth, cause I'm
not completely satisfied myself, I could call him back in here
and do something less window-like."

"You scared us! We thought we were in trouble," Cleo
snapped.

"That's just your guilty conscious. You most likely did
something you shouldn't have and you're projecting that
fear into this situation. You should get some closure so
you don't get so worried every time," Zeus advised helpfully.
"What? Why are all of you looking at me like that? I played golf
with Freud yesterday."

"Oh," the other three chorused, understanding now.

"You know he's pretty on target once he stops thinking
everyone is going through that whole Oedipus-complex."

"Riiight, excuse me, but can we get back to us now?" Tripp
pointed to Cleo and himself.

"Kids today, always thinking it's about them."

"Uh, this is about them," Aphrodite pointed out.

"Oh yes, so it is," Zeus brightened up. "We just wanted to
tell you that your assignment and show you the final work
if you wanted to see it."

"Final work?"

"How they got together," Zeus positioned to a large screen,
which had appeared just momentarily out of nowhere behind
me. On the screen were the recaps of the entire fiasco, which
had gotten Tristan and Rory together, including their
conversation which had gotten them together.

"That's so sweet," Cleo sighed, putting her head down on
Tripp's shoulder. "I kinda wish we had something to do with
getting them together now."

"Oh but you did, both of you," Aphrodite told her. "You
were the reason Rory gave Tristan the time of the day,
because of you befriending them they where pushed together
and she saw the real him. The two actually were planning on
getting you two together.

"Really? Oh good, now I don't feel like such a failure,"
Cleo beamed.

"Over achiever," Zeus pretended to cough as Aphrodite
glared at her father figure.

"You also admitting to Rory that you loved Tripp motivated
her to accept her true feelings for Tristan when they where
pushed out." Aphrodite finished.

"Hey, Rory knew before me? No fair!" Tripp sulked.

"They're girls, they have a secret communication network,
like talking in the bathroom to their friends rather than
actually spending time with their dates." Zeus told him

"Dude! I know right, what up with that anyhow?" Tripp
turned to him, ignoring the glare Cleo sent him as Aphrodite
grabbed Zeus by his arm and shimmeredthem out.

"Oh, by the way you guys. No one on Earth will remember you
now, the two foreign exchange students have been terminated
from all the memories of Chilton Prepatory's staff and
students, from everyone who you met, who heard about you
from a friend. Everyone. Including Rory and Tristan. I'm
sorry," Aphrodite's voice filled the room though her form
didn't.

"Oh wow, that really sucks," Tripp leaned into a chair with
Cleo next to him, dejectedly.

"I guess in a way it's good for them. They don't have to
worry about us now, or be hurt when they can't call or
write or keep in touch with us," she sighed.

*
PART TWENTY-FOUR

"Hey you," Rory threw her arms around her boyfriend kissing
him deeply.

"Well, hey back," he smiled kissing her back. "What was
that for? Not that I'm complaining but I didn't even bring
coffee.

"Nothing, I'm just in a good mood. This has been the best
four months ever." she smiled happily.

"Same here, they're almost as good as those four months Ash
and I had," Tristan teased her gently as she blushed
adorably, which she always did.

"Oh hush! Are you ever going to drop that?" she pretended
to glare.

"What can I say, I love it when you get jealous," he
laughed. "Ouch! Will you stop hitting me, I bruise easily."

"Anyways!" Rory pulled out her yearbook and waved it under
his nose. "You mister need to start signing, and I demanded
you fill up a page like I did for you."

"Yes your highness," Tristan bowed and taking her yearbook
as he sat down on a bench in the Chilton courtyard, bored
Rory grabbed his book bag and took out his yearbook
flipping to the memories page, stopping at the section
reserved for pictures taken at 'A Night Under the Stars".
The dance where she and Tristan had gotten together thanks
to their interfering friends.

Frowning she stopped to at a picture of a cute brunette guy
with a pretty blonde girl wearing one of the Greek style
dresses in black sitting on his lap. "Hey, who are they? I
haven't seen them around here," she turned the yearbook to
Tristan.

"Hmm... Yeah, I haven't seen them around and the girl is
pretty so you know one of my friends must have noticed her
at one time of the other," he looked up from where he was
filling out the page she had reserved for him in her yearbook.

"Pretty, huh?" Rory grinned.

"But not as beautiful as you," Tristan grinned back closing
the yearbook and handing it to her. "Now don't read it till
I drop you off at home."

"Aww! But I have to send Cleo a letter," Rory whined. "I
just got hers today and her Tripp got into another
disagreement."

"Another one? Those two fight over everything," Tristan
shook his head wirily as they headed to the parking lot.
"Unlike us."

"Of course! We would never, ever, ever fight," Rory
grinned. "We are in perfect harmony over everything. Like
how PJ Harvey rules and Limp Bizkit doesn't."

"Don't bring Limp into this, please not now!" Tristan
clutched his heart, pretending to be wounded. "I should
probably be getting a letter from Tripp today. His side of
the story, you know."

"Isn't it cool how our pen pals go to the same school and
are dating?" Rory put on her seat belt as Tristan pulled
out of the student parking lot, heading over to Stars
Hallow. "Whoa boy! Calm down Speed Racer!"

"It's pretty cool, and we both have the same anniversary as
well," Tristan agreed.

"Don't forget that they hooked up at a dance, the same as
us," Rory added.

"To bad they go to Olympia Prep, not Chilton."

"Whatever," Rory dismissed the facts as she always did.
"It's kinda weird though that Chilton did a pen-pal thing.
I didn't think that schools like that did that anymore.
Especially at a high school level."

"Yeah, well it's kinda a new thing for us cause no one else
ever did it before," Tristan pulled onto the intersection.
"Apparently Olympia is like a sister school for Chilton... only
in Olympia, not Hartford."

"How observant of you," Rory grinned as she turned on the
radio to hear Michelle Branch's "Everywhere" burst through
the speakers.

Turn it inside out so I can see
The part of you that's drifting over me
And when I wake you're never there
But when I sleep you're everywhere
You're everywhere

Just tell me how I got this far
Just tell me why you're here and who you are
'Cause every time I look you're never there
And every time I sleep you're always there

'Cause you're everywhere to me
And when I close my eyes it's you I see
You're everything I know that makes me believe
I'm not alone
I'm not alone

I recognize the way you make me feel
It's hard to think that you might not be real
I sense it now, the water's getting deep
I try to wash the pain away from me
Away from me

"I'm very observant," Tristan turned the volume down a bit,
"In fact I'm so observant that I'm observing that you want
a cup of your favorite poison, coffee that is, from Luke's."

"Ohh! You're good! Do you pull bunnies out of a top hat?"

"Don't make me take you straight home," Tristan, told her
sternly.

"I'll be good!" she promised innocently as they pulled up
to Luke's.

"You're perfect just the way you are," Tristan helped her
out of the car. "Don't change, anything."

"Not even my horrible coffee, a.k.a. poison addiction?"

"Not even that... but if you want to cut down, I am
so cool with that," Tristan promised.

"I love you," Rory leaned over and hugged him before
heading inside and demanding her daily dosage.

Meanwhile on Olympus, home of the Gods, Tripp and Cleo were
walking to a beach party to celebrate the end of the year.

"I got an email from Tristan," Tripp told her.

"Oh cool, what'd he say?" Cleo asked while waved to some of
her friends.

"Not much just wanted to say 'hi' I guess and know what we
were doing during our summer break.

"How are they anyhow?" Cleo pulled on his arm to make him
walk faster.

"They're good, today was their last final and school ends
for them on Thursday. You really miss them don't you?" he
asked seeing her saddened look as they sat down on one of
the blankets spread around.

"Immensely, but Zeus said we might go visit them or
something. So who knows, we might get to meet up again."

"Well until than you have your memories, so that's better
than nothing," Tripp comforted.

"How'd I get such a wonderful boyfriend?" Cleo smiled up at
him.

"You got lucky babe, you got lucky. But you know what? So
did I."

"That's so sweet, I love you," Cleo held his hand which he
held up to his own lips and kissed it.

"I love you too, now let's go for a dip." he dragged Cleo
up and headed for the water. When someone turned on the
radio to Michelle Branch.

Turn it inside out so I can see
The part of you that's drifting over me
And when I wake you're never there
But when I sleep you're everywhere
You're everywhere

Just tell me how I got this far
Just tell me why you're here and who you are
'Cause every time I look you're never there
And every time I sleep you're always there

'Cause you're everywhere to me
And when I close my eyes it's you I see
You're everything I know that makes me believe
I'm not alone
I'm not alone

I recognize the way you make me feel
It's hard to think that you might not be real
I sense it now, the water's getting deep
I try to wash the pain away from me
Away from me

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