|Through It All
Author: Jaycat PM
Set in the year 2011. Revisiting her childhood home in the sleepy little Stars Hollow, Rory Gilmore realizes that even though she has exactly what she set her life out for… it’s not what she always wanted. LL, Narco.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Drama - Rory G. & Dean F. - Chapters: 12 - Words: 24,044 - Reviews: 135 - Favs: 30 - Follows: 48 - Updated: 09-17-07 - Published: 05-06-06 - id: 2926092
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Disclaimer: All rights are owned by Amy Sherman-Palladino and the CW Television Network. I make no profit from this. I'm merely playing in their sandbox.
Recap: Rory returns home to Stars Hollow three years after not visiting. Things have definitely changed. Lorelai and Luke are married with a four year old son named Lucas, and Lucas seems to be very fond of a familiar tall, dark, and handsome ex-boyfriend of Rory's. Lucas invites Dean to spend Gilmore Movie Night with them which dredges up painful memories and Dean leaves in a hurry, ultimately resulting in crashing his truck and being hospitalized. With a broken leg the only major injury, Dean is released and must call Rory to pick him up. Rory spends the next week with Dean, both dancing around each other's feelings, until she must return to New York City.
-- A week later --
Rory really didn't want to leave. But Hurschmeyer was calling her back to report on the presidential debate and she needed to go.
Dean knew she was leaving. She'd stayed with him up until yesterday when Clara had gotten back home. They'd fallen into the old habit of things, although awkwardness did ensue at certain times. Lucas, being the adorable, playable little kid that he was, easily rid the room of tension. Lorelai brought a different dish from either Sookie or Luke when she came to pick him up every night.
They didn't talk about her leaving, and the topic of visiting - him to New York; her back to Stars Hollow - was never mentioned. Silence settled early on Rory's final night and she decided to stay at Lorelai's.
"I'll call before I leave in the morning," she had promised as she kissed Dean's forehead. They both knew she wasn't going to. "Be careful, okay?"
He had nodded, lump stuck in his throat as Rory walked out of his life for a fourth time.
- - - - -
Rory was in New York for two weeks when the knock came at the door. She frowned and glanced at the rain pounding hard against the kitchen window as she made her way to the door. She wondered who would be out to see her in a terrible storm, having not many friends who ever came over. As she pulled open the door, she gasped at the sheepish looking man standing on the other side, clothes soaked through cold to the bone with rain.
She hadn't talked to him since she'd left Stars Hollow. It made the transition out of each other's lives much easier to just cut the ties free with no frayed edges and slow drifting apart.
Rory pulled him into the apartment and shut the door behind him.
"What are you doing here?"
He shrugged and a shiver wracked his wet form.
She sighed, studying him. "Let's get you dry first."
She led him to the spare room which she used as an office of sorts. She helped him onto the futon and then left to retrieve towels and anything she owned that might fight him. She returned with a robe and caught him still sitting there in his wet clothes.
"Dean?" she asked, noticing the blank look on his face. He was thinking about something.
"I don't know," he replied, looking up at her, blank look gone.
She sent him a confusing look. Huh?
"What I'm doing here," he explained. "I don't know what I'm doing here." He shrugged, watching her come closer to help remove his clothes. "I started walking… well, hobbling, really… and the next thing I knew, I was waiting for the 9 o'clock train to New York to pull in with a ticket in my hand."
Rory nodded as she tossed his button down and tee on the floor to wash with the laundry later. She set about pulling his jeans gently over the soaked cast on his leg.
"Rore?" Dean asked quietly. "What are we doing? What does it mean?"
"That your doctor's going to kill you for getting your cast wet."
Dean sighed and Rory stopped to look up at him.
"I don't know," she said, quite seriously. She stared into his moss green eyes, trying and failing to understand the confusion running through herself.
See, Rory spent the first sixteen years of her life planning for the future. Nobody and nothing came in the way; she could do what she wanted with her life without thinking of anybody else's plans. Well, except Lorelai's. But her mother's only real wishes were for her daughter to lead a good, happy, successful life, of whatever choosing. And that alone had kept Rory on this straight track without any detours.
But then Dean came along and all these forks in the path started appearing. As her boyfriend, his future needed to be taken into consideration, as well as Jess and Logan when the time came. She was never naïve enough to believe that she'd actually be with those boys forever. The track record for marrying your high school boyfriends was rare, if not, leading down a broken and beat path of hostility later on.
Their future's and plans and opinions on such mattered, though.
And Rory wasn't good at compromising. She'd spent her whole life as Lorelai's sole child, the angel of Stars Hollow, apple of her grandparents' eyes. She never really had to share, at least not her future. She knew she'd one day want a family, but the thought of settling had never crossed her mind.
She'd thought hard about what had caused her relationships to derail. Especially her and Dean's. She had always felt safe and loved in his arms, never neglected. He paid her his full attention at all times, reading her and studying her form as though she was one of the books she got so enthralled in. His kindness and courtesy overrode his overbearing and overprotective nature, by a very long shot. He might not have had the energy or drive to do very well in book work, but he was not stupid. He was witty and fun, focused on the things he cared about. He was entirely misunderstood - always had been - which had attracted Rory to him in the first place.
So what went wrong? She had come to the conclusion long ago that they simply didn't belong together. Two different pages from different books. But with age came knowledge and she was slowly coming to understand what truly bothered her. Dean was so sweet and good to her, loved her, and she feared that. She feared the settling of a future, the weight of another's opinion on her life, a shared life and home. She was so desperately terrified of having something permanent in a life she was unsure she ever wanted in the first place.
She had never been willing to share the responsibility of a relationship with someone else. She'd come close to doing such with Logan, but than Yale was over and it was time for her to set out on a track she wasn't sure he fit on. But with Dean… she had taken and taken till there was nothing left. She had expected him to understand her articles and drive thirty minutes to see her for ten. She never thought about his work or his bills, only how he'd messed his life up by marrying a girl he didn't love who could care less if he went to college. And she was never willing to run off with Jess - take a chance - or to try and understand why he hated school so much, left so frequently.
Even though she could start to understand all this, she was terrified of acting on it, of beating it. So confusion welled up inside her till she felt ready to burst, and she had to tear her eyes away from Dean's.
"We'd better take you out of those clothes before you have pneumonia on top of a broken leg."
Dean nodded dumbly and lifted his hips enough for Rory to pull the pants all the way off. She handed him her robe, a soft black one smelling of cucumber and melon.
"I think that'll fit you. It's huge on me, so it should. At least until you get dry," Rory said, then picked up Dean's wet clothes and disappeared.
Dean sighed and tossed the robe over on the desk chair. He managed to pull himself up and get a towel around his waist before hobbling out of the room to find Rory. She was nowhere to be seen, so he took in the dimly lit living and dining area.
The apartment was kind of homey, with burgundy walls and wood flooring. The curtains that hung down the floor-to-ceiling length windows were gray with faint embroidered patterns. By the windows, there was an HDTV mounted to the wall in front of the sofa and two armchairs. Various shelves and bookcases against the walls and a round dinette served as the dining room table. Old pictures littered a few surfaces, with only a couple recent of Lucas. The sofa still felt stiff, and where there should've been a thin layer of dust from only being home a week, there was none. Pillows and blankets looked perfectly placed on the sofa and armchairs, and not a thing looked out of place.
"What are you doing?"
Dean whipped his head around, groaning when the snap could be heard.
"Ow," he moaned, reaching up with a free hand and rubbing at the back of it. He turned back to Rory, much more carefully now. "I was looking for you. That robe won't fit me, Rore."
"I don't have anything else to give you though."
"Just help me pull my boxers off and I'll be fine in this towel."
Rory hesitated, but nodded and helped pull the boxer-briefs down Dean's legs. He held onto her shoulders while she got the shorts over his cast and then off of his leg. She stood and disappeared around a corner that led to the closet with her washer and dryer and through Dean's boxer-briefs in with the rest of his clothes. She returned to the living room to find him standing, clutching the towel tightly to his waist, looking out the windows.
"Pretty view," he said, turning back to her.
"Yeah. Um… I don't think you should sleep on the futon with your leg like that, so you can have my bed and I'll just stay in the guest room, okay?"
Dean frowned. "We've been sharing a bed all week," he pointed out. Sighing, "But you can keep your bed. My leg's in plaster -- I doubt it'll know the difference between a futon and a mattress."
Now it was Rory's turn to frown. She watched as Dean started hobbling towards the guest room. She sighed. "Wait. No, you're right. It's silly if we can't share the same bed. Right?"
Dean studied her for a moment and then nodded. "Right." He followed her into her bedroom. It was rather plain, with beige walls and dull gold curtains. The windows were floor-to-ceiling in here as well. There was a big bed and a four-drawer dresser. A chair and two nightstands completed the room. "Nice," he murmured and noticed Rory blush.
"I'm not good at decorating. And I don't have the time to find the right stuff."
"Just doesn't seem like your style," Dean shrugged, sitting on the bed. He chewed on his lip and looked over at Rory. "But it's nice. Comfy and cozy. Dry," he joked.
Rory nodded and the awkward silence they'd managed to settle into the week before Rory left had returned.
"Rory, let's not do this, okay?" Dean said after a moment.
"This," Dean said, waving his hands about. "Whatever this is, let's just not. Not tonight. I'm tired and not in the mood to brood or deal with your brooding. So just turn the brain off and come to bed."
Rory frowned again, but obliged. She walked around the bed and pulled the covers back, climbing in. Dean stood and pushed the covers down before he climbed in bed, too, making sure his towel was secure. He reached to turn off the light on his side of the bed, realizing Rory had already turned hers off. He turned onto his back and looked over at her, barely seeing the outline of her side, close to the edge. Dean sighed, wishing things weren't so complicated between them, and then closed his eyes and drifted off to sleep.
- - - - -
"Dean, don't. Don't marry her. I love you, Dean. Don't you love me?" Rory asked desperately, clutching at his hand, pulling him away from the chapel.
He wanted to say something, anything, but it wouldn't come out. He turned back to the chapel, watching him and Lindsay stepping out of the church, relatives cheering, and thought 'No that's not right. I'm here! I'm not marrying Lindsay!' When he turned back to Rory, she was standing in front of her grandparents' house, a group of guys behind her, tears in her eyes.
"Dean, don't. I love you, I really do. Always. Don't you?"
Again, he tried and failed to say the words 'I love you.' He looked down, trying to compose himself and keep the tears from falling down his face. The scene was different once more when he looked up. Rory was climbing in her car in front of Lorelai's house.
"You never did love me, did you?" she asked quietly.
Again, nothing. Rory took it as an answer and slowly pulled away from Lorelai's. These scenes were really starting to affect Dean because he really didn't want to watch Rory walk out of his life countless times without being able to say something.
He kicked his feet in the dirt and turned around to see the front of the wedding chapel. He thought maybe he was going to have to watch him and Lindsay walked out of the thing again when the doors opened and a bride and groom came rushing out with friends and family behind them. Dean started walking toward them when he realized that the bride was Rory, in a silky white summer gown. He froze in his tracks and watched as she pulled away from the crowd and walked over to him.
"You have to let me go," she said.
"I can't," he said, not fully aware that his voice had returned.
"I need to be happy and so do you. I'm married now, with kids on the way and a caring husband. We need to stop playing these games. It would never work with us. You don't love me. And I don't love you."
Dean shook his head. "No, I do. I love you more than anything, Rory."
"Dean, you were a thing. Nothing more than that first boy who introduced me to dating. You were never meant to be more. I don't love you."
"Why? Why couldn't I ever be it for you?"
"Go home, Dean. Go home, and don't come back," Rory said as she turned and walked back to the wedding party.
Dean stood there, tears welled in his eyes, looking at the sky and praying that it was over. No more scenes, no more nightmares. A light sprinkle started and Dean sighed. He dropped his gaze only to watch the scene stay the same. Rory looked so happy without him and he let the tears fall, loss seeping in like the cold. "But I love you," he whispered, turning away.
God, it was cold. Why was it so cold? He turned back to the wedding only to notice it gone.
- - - - -
Dean opened his eyes to the faint light of the moon shining through the sliver of open curtains. He turned his head to the side where Rory had been when he'd fallen asleep. She wasn't there and he sighed deeply. That explained the lack of heat from her side of the bed. She had probably gone to sleep in the guest room. He closed his eyes, willing the dull ache in his leg to go away.
The door squeaked a moment later and Dean listened to Rory's footfalls on the wood floors. When she got close to him, he opened his eyes to look at her and she screamed, sloshing water down her front and nearly falling to the floor.
"Don't do that!"
"Are you alright?" Dean asked, sitting up.
"Yes," Rory said, taking a breath, "But don't do that! My mother would do that and scare the crap out of me!"
"Sorry." One beat, then, "I thought you might've gone to sleep in the guest room."
"Oh," Rory mumbled. Quietly, "Did you want me to?"
"No, I just… woke up and you were gone."
"You've got to quit doing that," Rory joked, although it fell flat. She cleared her throat and looked down at her soaking wet pajama top. "You were fidgeting in your sleep and I remembered that you don't have your painkillers, so I went to find aspirin and a glass of water. Which is now down my front."
"Will you quit apologizing? Here," she held out the aspirin pills clutched in her hand, "take these and I'll go and get you a new glass of water."
Dean took the pills, swallowing them before Rory came back with a bottle instead of a glass this time. He opened the bottle and took a gulp, making sure the pills were down, then set the bottle on the nightstand.
Rory was climbing into bed already and Dean looked over at her. She was on the edge again as the lights went out. After a moment, he whispered, "Rory?"
Either she didn't hear him or she was ignoring, because she didn't even move. Dean rolled toward her, ignoring the ache in his leg, and gently shook her shoulder. She turned over to face him.
"What's wrong?" she asked.
Dean bit his lip before replying, "I don't want you to fall out of bed. I can sleep in the guest room if you're uncomfortable sleeping with me."
"It's not that." Rory blushed. "It's just… well… I'm afraid of hitting your leg or something. I don't wanna hurt you, Dean."
Relief flooded through Dean and he sent Rory a tender smile. "You're hurting me by sleeping so close to the edge. C'mere." He laid back on his back and held his arm out for her. She cuddled up to his side, being very mindful of his hurt leg. After a moment or so, the warmth comforted her enough to rid her of her tension and she melted against his side.
"This is nice," Rory said through the dark.
They laid like that for a while until Rory broke the silence again. "I didn't call. I'm sorry."
"I knew you wouldn't call. And I'd be lying if I say I wanted you to."
"I wish we were sixteen again."
"I don't," Dean said with a snort.
Rory craned her head to look at him in the dark. "You don't?"
"No, I don't. Jess would still be a thorn in our side, wouldn't he?"
Rory suppressed a laugh and then swatted at Dean's chest. "He's like my… step brother or something."
"Ew, you dated your step brother!" Dean teased.
Rory swatted at him again.
"Okay, okay. Sorry."
"You know, I'm really sorry. For everything that ever happened between us."
Now it was Dean's turn to look at Rory. "What? Rory, it wasn't just you. I played a huge part in our relationship's troubles, too. I should've never married Lindsay."
"I shouldn't have slept with you. Or hurt you with Jess."
"Rory," he warned, knowing where she was going. "It's not--"
"--my fault. Yeah I get it. But I didn't have to be so scared. Uncertainty and fear aren't good combinations on me, if you didn't notice."
"Scared?" This was news to Dean. "What were you scared of?"
Rory shook her head and for a moment, Dean thought she'd tell him to forget about it; that she'd just clam up and refuse to explain herself. But she sniffled and the words that came out sounded unsure and broken. "This. I'm scared of this. I mean… I'm scared of what this means and what it'll make us. How we'll fit in each other's futures, or… how permanent this will be. I don't… I'm not used to settling down and taking another person's opinions on my life's goals into account. It just scares me how uncertain I am over it all."
"You mean how it's not a definitive, step-by-step plan of your life?"
"Rory… life has no definitive plan. Maybe school and work do, but life as a whole doesn't. And as for my opinions on your life's goals-- well, when have I ever not told you to reach as high as you want and if you can't, I'll hold you up higher? That's part of the reason I love you, because of the goals you have that I know you can reach. You have ambitions and that's a good thing, you know that." Dean paused, then, "As for this thing between us? Maybe it's best if we just take it slow. We don't have to be anything other than each other's company, okay?"
Rory nodded and held onto him tighter. With tears in her eyes, she whispered, "Okay."
Dean sighed and kissed the tope of her head.
Author's Note: I'm so sorry for the wait, folks. Seems I had more problems with my computer than I thought. I again want to thank any and all who are sticking with this, even if my brain's a little boggled and I'm slow with getting the chapters out. All of you are awesome, just so you know, I'll try to reply to all your reviews.