disclaimer in part 1
Another Manic Monday
by Ms Storyteller
_ _ _
IX. The Mistake
The Gilmore home
It was the last day of their assignment. Tristan had gone over to Rory’s house earlier than usual to finish the painting they had begun the night before so that Rory could see the painting and write the paper. It was about eight at night by that time, and they were almost completely finished with the painting. They were right on schedule, as Rory had already planned to have a late night writing the paper.
Rory was on her couch, lying on her side, with one hand placed on her stomach and the other rested languidly under her head on the arm of the couch. Tristan diligently focused his eyes from Rory to the canvas propped on the easel he’d brought from home, and back again.
She shifted uncomfortably on the couch, willing herself, as she had been for the past half an hour, to tell him what she had been trying to say since the night before. She coughed slightly to get his attention, but he was too engrossed in what he was doing to notice her.
She sighed deeply and coughed louder. Still, he didn’t stop painting.
Finally, she mustered a small, “Tristan?”
He looked up at her immediately. “Hmm?”
“I, umm, I just wanted to…since yesterday…I’ve wanted to…”
He gave her an expectant look. “You wanted to…stutter at me for five minutes until finally spitting out whatever ever it is you’re trying to say?”
“You’re welcome. For what?” He asked.
“For Friday, when you stayed with me. It didn’t have anything to do with you, and Dean was rude and…I was really rude to you. There was no reason for you to stay, but you did anyway, and I’m glad you did. I just…had to tell you that. Thanks.”
He placed the paintbrush back on the easel and rested his hands on his thighs. “You were upset, what was I supposed to do?”
“Leave me alone? Gone home? I gave you every reason to do either,” Rory replied honestly.
He sighed at walked over to sit next to her on the couch. “Nah, you were just upset. I can understand that. You said some stuff you didn’t mean…we all do it sometimes. It’s no big deal.”
She smiled and shook her head in disbelief. “How is it you can be a complete jerk one minute and then this sensitive guy the next?”
He shrugged. “Well, my mother’s shrink says she’s bipolar. Maybe it’s hereditary.”
“My mother is probably somewhere bordering on tripolar, so I better invest in the vaccine.”
“Right, because they have one for personality disorders,” Tristan said, his voice laced with sarcasm.
“We live in the Medicine Era, Tristan. It’s all ‘Ritalin this’ and ‘Viagra that.’ There has to be some kind of vaccine or pill I can take now to stop the disease from spreading.”
He put his hand on her knee, and inched closer to her. Rory felt the familiar butterflies begin to awaken in her stomach. They had a long nap, having last been used back in the early days of her relationship with Dean. Their little wings were rested and ready for a work out.
But it was obligatory. Once the butterflies started, the babbling was sure to follow.
Rory swallowed thickly. “I read in this medical journal a little while ago that in five years, knowledge of medicine and viruses will have increased so greatly, that it may be possible for doctors to find a cure-all for every strain of the cold virus. Not that I really need to worry, because I don’t get colds. Not usually anyway. My doctor says I have a strong immune system. There was this one time, back in grade school, though, when I got so sick I threw up all over this girl’s…oh my God, how did the conversation make it’s way around to this obscure 6th grade memory?”
“Is it actually considered a conversation if you’re the only one talking?” Tristan teased.
“I…don’t know. I could look it up,” she suggested.
Tristan placed a hand on her cheek. “Rory, I was joking.”
“Oh, right. Sorry, I don’t know what’s wrong with…”
Her sentence was cut off when Tristan placed his mouth over hers lightly. After a moment, he gently increased the pressure until he felt Rory begin to run her fingers through his hair. After several more moments, both teenagers broke apart, each taking panting breaths. Tristan began to play with the long strands of her hair, and Rory willingly leaned into his touch.
It took until they each moved in close to one another again for Rory to jump back. “Whoa, what am I doing? This isn’t right.”
Tristan looked hurt. “Thanks.”
Rory rushed to clarify. “I just mean…me…kissing you. It’s not fair to you. It would only be, just this rebound thing, to get over Dean.”
That time, it was Tristan who moved away from her. “Thanks again.”
“I don’t mean that it was…I mean…maybe it was. But it wasn’t, was it? I mean…I’m so confused.” That point was emphasized when she dropped her head into her hands.
“Don’t you like me, Rory?” He asked.
“Well, you’ve been nicer since we’ve started this project. And you paint and let your sister sleep in your bed. And you have nice hands.”
“See?” He said, “There must be something there. Some reason why you kissed me. A person doesn’t just accidentally kiss another person. There’s got to be some reason, some feeling…”
Rory stood up and crossed her arms. “Tristan, you are now, officially, the second person I’ve ever kissed, okay? This isn’t some stupid every occurrence to me. I’m not like you, I can’t just kiss anyone of the opposite gender who just happens down my path.”
Tristan jumped up off the couch also. He put his hands out in front of him, his face set in an angry scowl. “Hey! When did this become an attack on my character?”
“I didn’t mean that! I just meant that I don’t have as much experience as you do!”
“What am I now? Tristan DuGrey, Chilton pimp?”
Rory ran her fingers through her hair in frustration. “See! I knew this would get complicated. We can’t be together for long periods of time without a fight exploding. There’s no way anything could happen between us.”
“So what, your goal in life is to find some little lap dog to marry who just agrees with everything you say?” He challenged.
“No! You’re twisting all my words, Tristan! I just mean that I can’t be with someone who’s so…so…”
“So much like yourself?” He finished her sentence.
She didn’t answer him, but the flush in her face told him he was exactly right.
“Why don’t we just finish this assignment?” Rory suggested.
“No, why don’t we talk about why you’re so stubborn that you won’t admit you actually might like me?” He countered, sidestepping her attempt to change the subject.
“I’m not stubborn! I just don’t want to you turn into some mistake I made just to get over Dean.”
“Yeah, I mean…can you see my side of it for just a moment? This is totally new and scary for me.”
“So now I’m a scary mistake. Well that’s good to know,” his tone was bitter.
Rory balled her hands into fits at her sides. “That’s not what I meant. I just don’t want to do something I’ll regret, and I don’t want to mess up this new friendship between us.”
“Friendship? I don’t see any friendship. All I see is a mistake,” Tristan pointed to himself, “And a coward.” The Holy Judgment of his finger landed on her.
That stung. A lot. “Maybe we can talk about this…” she tried.
“I have to go,” he answered, picking up his easel and canvas and walking out the door.
“Oh God…” Rory whispered, her head throbbing and woozy from all the yelling.
She stumbled into her bed, and, without thinking, simply kicked off her shoes and fell asleep.
That’s how Lorelai found her when she arrived home from the inn that night, and that’s how she awoke on Monday morning. She was weary, in her clothes from the night before…and without an essay to turn in last period for Art Studio.
X. The End
Rory had insisted on going to school. Even after persuasion by her mother to “call in dead,” she knew she had to take responsibility for her own actions and face whatever consequences it came with.
Tristan, apparently, didn’t feel the same way. It was already last period, and he hadn’t been in any of the classes Rory shared with him.
Just thinking about facing Mr. Klein that day made her want to throw up. She had never, in her life, missed a homework assignment. And one that amounted to 1/3 of her grade was not a good place to start.
“All right class,” Mr. Klein began when the final bell rang, “Who would like to present their projects first?”
Suddenly, the door to the room opened, and a disheveled looking Tristan walked in carrying a painting canvas covered with a protective sheet and a backpack on his back.
Mr. Klein clasped a hand over his heart. “Why, Tristan, what good is it that I have done which has allowed God to bestow upon me the privilege of your presence?”
“Sorry I’m late, Mr. Klein,” was his easy response.
“Well, since you’re already standing up, why don’t you and your partner present your project first?” He looked down at the paper in his hands. “Rory, would you come up and join Tristan in the front?”
Rory’s ‘deer in headlights’ look seemed to be lost on Mr. Klein as well as Tristan as she struggled to stand up on shaky legs. She tried to think of a way to signal to Tristan that she hadn’t done her end of the assignment without the teacher noticing.
Tristan didn’t even look at her as she approached. Instead, he busied himself with setting the painting on the easel set up in the front.
“Tristan,” she whispered, trying to get his attention. It didn’t work.
“For our project,” Tristan started, “I painted Rory Gilmore in a way I thought best reflected the person that she really is.” With that, he gently tugged the covering off the canvas to reveal a painting that was definitely not the one they had been working on before their fight.
It was a picture of Rory sitting perpendicularly on her Lazy Boy chair, her feet dangling freely over the arm, and a small smile on her face. Resting on her stomach was the book A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway. She recognized the scene from that past Saturday when she had caught Tristan watching her stare out the window. The picture looked to have caught her in the middle of looking at Babette chase after Spice.
Rory turned to Tristan and gave him an incredulous look.
Tristan went on. “Umm, this is a reflection of everything that I’ve learned Rory is. The book represents her intelligence, the way she’s sitting shows she knows how to relax and be carefree, the smile on her face as she looks out the window an indication of her love for the town that she lives in, and the people that live around her…”
Tristan continued talking for some time explaining every aspect of the painting he had created, going into technique and brush stroke, color and shading. Rory contributed nothing to the presentation save her shocked expression.
When he finally finished talking, Mr. Klein smiled. “That was very good you two. Now, if you could give me the report.”
Rory gathered her strength. “Actually sir…”
“…I have it in my bag…” Tristan finished for her, picking up his backpack and fishing through it before pulling out the assignment, “Rory left it at my house yesterday.”
Mr. Klein took the paper and thanked them both again as they went back to their seats.
* * * * * *
When the bell rang, Rory met up with Tristan in the hall. She looked at him and could say only one word.
“I was thinking about the fight we had last night, and you were right about most of it. My pride was hurt that you didn’t fall at my feet after that kiss. I didn’t want to think that maybe it was you getting over Dean. So I yelled at you. And blew things way out of proportion. This was my way of saying I’m sorry,” he explained.
“Your apologies are very good for my grade,” Rory told him.
“Well, it was my fault the project didn’t get done, I was the one who left.”
“I don’t think you’re a pimp,” Rory told him, the shadow of a smile on her face.
Tristan laughed. “That’s good, thank you.”
They continued to walk down the hallway in silence until Tristan finally spoke. “So here’s the thing. I think you’re right about the whole rebound thing. But that maybe if we take things slowly, it won’t be so bad.”
“Slowly?” Rory asked.
“Yeah, slowly. Like, can I hold you hand?” He asked the question so timidly, Rory almost laughed.
“I guess so.”
They moved their hands to gently embrace the others.
With his other hand, Tristan snapped his fingers. “Oh! I got you a gift, it was the real reason I was late to class today.”
He pulled something out of his pocket and handed the Rory. When she saw what it was, she stopped in her tracks and gapped.
“You got me the Marilyn Monroe Pez dispenser!”
“It took a lot of finesse on my part. You’re right, Casey is very protective of it,” Tristan told her.
“How did you do this? Oh my God! This must have cost you a fortune!” She cried.
“Well let’s just say that I’ll never again be able to look at another Pez dispenser without instinctively grabbing my wallet,” he joked.
Rory’s smile was wide. “Thank you SO much, this is amazing! I think I am going to name it Tristan.”
“You’re going to name Marilyn Tristan?” He asked, slightly amused.
“Yes, as a reminder of who bought it for me.”
“That just seems wrong,” he admitted.
“You’re blonde, she’s blonde. Tomato, tomoto, I say.”
He chuckled, “Well, if you say so.”
“Can I drive you home?” Tristan asked suddenly.
Rory scoffed, “With the money this must have cost you, I’m surprised you still have a car.”
Tristan let go of her hand and wrapped his arm around her shoulder instead. “Rory, I like you,” he said, steering her body in the right direction, “But I don’t like you that much.”
* * * * * *
When they finally arrived at his car, Rory buckled her seatbelt and nestled into the seat.
Tristan put the key in and started the ignition. The radio automatically went on. The song playing was familiar to Rory.
~~I dream about a girl whose a mix of Destiny's Child
Just little touch of Madonna's wild style
With Janet Jackson's smile, throw in a body like Jennifer's
You got the star of my liquid dreams~~(Liquid Dreams sung by O-Town)
Rory turned to Tristan and said seriously, “You know, I really hate this song.”