Author's Note: Well guys, this is the final chapter.  I'm sorry if the ending seems abrupt.  I wasn't planning to have a drawn out fic, just a shorter simpler version of a good idea.  Which I highly recommend someone else tries, because I cannot do it justice.  Anyway, I wasn't going to update just yet, but I will in celebration of my 17th birthday.  Yay.  Happy reading everyone!

The Space Between

Chapter 5by givemebackme

Take my hand

'Cause we're walking out of here

Oh, right out of here

Love is all we need here

The Space Between

What's wrong and right

Is where you'll find me hiding, waiting for you

The Space Between

Your heart and mine

Is the space we'll fill with time

The Space Between…

"Pero, te quiero Pablo! Te quiero!"

"Oh Pablo, she only loves your money. Kick her to the curb!" To emphasize his demand, Tristan throws a piece of popcorn at the Spanish couple on the television screen. The Spanish soap opera is suddenly cut by a commercial break and Tristan sighs wearily, looking around the mess he has made of the den.

"What a waste of a Saturday," he says in exasperation, glancing at the ancient grandfather clock adjacent to his sprawled position on the coach as it gongs six times. Lying on his back he stares blankly at the sky light in the high wooden ceiling of the room. With the sun's soft rays already below the roof of the house, only a dim flickering of light comes through the high window, casting an eerie haunting effect on the walls.

Sitting alone in the slowly darkening room, Tristan silently berates himself for doing nothing but watching the Spanish channel the entire day—Spanish soap operas to be exact. Especially dramatic ones, that seemed ironically parallel to his own life. Each hour it had been the same story but with a different set of characters. There had been a love triangle, of course, and even a love rhombus in another, in which a lot of talk had been said but by the end of the episode the characters had made no progress whatsoever. And to Tristan, the story had been seemingly all too familiar.

I'm sinking in quicksand—stuck—and every time I struggle I only sink deeper, Tristan reflects to himself sadly. The blank expression on his face sets into a deep, disappointed frown as he inwardly wishes for help. For her help.

"I can't do this alone, Rory," he whispers softly, his voice full of emotion that he silently hopes will somehow reach her ears. I need her to take my hand, and pull me out of here.

Cursing under his breath, Tristan jumps to his feet, and exits the den, making his way up the stairs to his room two steps at a time. When he reaches his room he searches through his closet for his swimming suit. He slips into it, and just as he has done so many times before, gathers his towel and goggles, and makes his way back through his house and out onto his back patio. When his feet reach the cold concrete he abruptly stops, his eyes captivated by the sky.

On the far horizon, the final rays of the setting sun seep beneath the shadowed landscape, the lone orb being replaced by twinkling lights littering the dark blue sky. It seems as though with each passing second a new light appears, some brighter than others, creating a vast scenery of ancient mystery and wonder.

Tearing his eyes from the beauty before him, Tristan walks through his yard along the stone path leading to the small pavilion beside the giant pool. Tiny ripples move sporadically across the water with each touch from the cool breeze that has always signified the fall. Shivering against the delicate contact, he drops his towel on a lawn chair and slips into the shallow end of the pool. As he dips his goggles into the surrounding wetness, his skin hums with excited exhilaration, his entire body aching to flow languidly through the picturesque bath.

With an ease that tells the eye he knows what he's doing, Tristan peels away from the side of the pool, plunging into the sweet depths, relishing in the silent breathtaking universe beneath the surface. He immediately feels the tension spilling from his body, the pains of the past days washing away, cleansing his mind, body, and soul.

Breathtaking indeed, he slyly thinks to himself, pushing himself to the surface. The first breath of cool air to fill his lungs revives his body at first, but after a moment he feels a stinging sensation in his chest. Within an instant, he plunges below once again, swimming from the cruelty of reality, taking pleasure in the liquid space between himself and it.

He continues this game of hide-and-seek for an hour, until his body feels saturated to the core with chlorine. Gripping the side of the pool he inspects his wrinkled fingertips, running the bumpy edges against one another, savoring the realization that he has done something useful for himself. Just as he is about to hoist himself from the pool a shadowed figure just beyond the light of the pool catches his eye. He squints his eyes wearily.

"Who's there?" he calls, his heart thudding nervously as he lifts himself from the water into a standing position beside the pool. Rather than respond, the figure moves forward, stepping into the light. Tristan gasps.

"I needed to talk to you, Tristan." Stepping over a low bush, Rory moves onto the sidewalk and walks to him, stopping when she is close enough to see his face in the dim light. With the reflected light from the pool flickering across her face, she appears almost omnipotent, outlined by the night sky. But the supreme illusion dissolves as the hurt washed away from his swim resurfaces, stronger than ever.

"No, Rory," he says shakily, taking a step back, as if she is a danger to him.

"Tristan, wait!" she calls desperately, but he turns on his heel and begins to walk away, ignoring the pleading tone of her voice. Within an instant she is gripping his arm, forcing him to face her glistening blue eyes—the object of his downfall. He immediately looks away, suddenly angered by her presence.

"No! I am done being hurt by you," he confesses, ripping his arm from her grasp.

"Tristan, I never meant to hurt you. I'm so sorry," she explains, her voice pleading with all it has. He sets his jaw square.

"Leave, Rory. I mean it," he commands through clenched teeth. His boiling emotions cause his voice to waver a bit and she seems to take this as a sign. Setting her own jaw, she squares her shoulders, looking him confidently in the eye.

"No, Tristan, I will not leave. I can be as stubborn as you. There is no way in hell that I am leaving things between us like this," she states firmly, her tone strong, yet her eyes still gleaming with tears of pure emotion. This time, he doesn't respond, and merely steps back again.

"This entire relationship has been all backward. You're not supposed to sleep with each other before you say 'I love you'," she suddenly shouts in desperation, stopping him in his tracks. His eyes narrow dangerously and he steps back forward, lower his head to her height and looking her intensely in the eyes.

"You knew how I felt about you," he explains, his voice shaking with anger. He grabs her shoulders with strong hands, shaking her. "Dammit, Rory! You fucking knew!"

"No I didn't!" she screams, the tears spilling down her cheeks. She chokes back a sob by covering her hands over her mouth. He stares at her, shocked, his grip on her arms unconsciously loosening.

"I didn't know…n-not until it was too late," she explains through choked tears. Tristan feels his insides churning and tearing, his heart hurting from indecision. God, how he can be so hurt by her and so sad for her at the same time. He swallows, trying to remove the thick lump forming in his throat.

"What do you want from me?" he asks in a pain filled whisper. She wipes at her eyes, trying to rid of the incessant tears. Meeting his gaze, she takes a strangled breath.

"You don't get it either, do you?" she asks him quietly. When he gives her a puzzled look she continues in a small voice. "I feel for you, Tristan. Ever since the day you returned I haven't been able to stop thinking about you."

He stares at her, unblinking. Her words seem to have hit him into numbness, because his entire body suddenly grows rigged, immovable. How can she say this to me now? How?, he silently questions himself, equally awed and frustrated with her words. Removing his hands, he breaks eye contact, unable to meet her expectant gaze.

"No," he says, shaking his head in refusal as he steps away once again. "I can't do this. Not right now. Please, just go."

"Tristan, I know you're scared bu-"

"Scared?" he interrupts her angrily. "Scared doesn't even begin to describe everything that I am feeling right now."  Her expression softens.

"That's just it. All these years, why do you think I've been so defensive around you? You scare me too, Tristan. Ever since you came back I have been a head-case." She pauses, taking a step forward. "Because since that day, I've wanted to be with you so badly and I've felt helpless to do anything about it."

His heart stops right there. Slowly, he brings his hand to his chest, covering his heart with it as if he's in physical pain. He suddenly feels so overwhelmed that his eyes begin to tear up and his body starts to shake all over.

"Please, I can't take any more of this right now. Please, Rory. Just go." Her already crestfallen expression falls even more as she nods silently. Unable to watch her go, Tristan turns his back, his ears picking up the soft sound of her feet crunching against the grass as she leaves.

"And that was Dave Mathews Band with 'The Space Between'." As a commercial starts up Tristan switches off the radio, sighing. Lying back on his bed, he thinks about the song he has just heard. Though he has never been an adamant fan of Dave Mathews Band, the song seems to have touched a part of him from deep within. Especially the ending lyrics; something about the happy ending makes his spirits feel uplifted, less troubled.

Is a happy ending really possible? he ponders to himself, his interest in the topic suddenly peaked. Sitting up on his bed, he looks around his room at his expensive possessions. Every surface of every piece of furniture shines with immaculate cleanliness and organization. Any room with as well paid hired help as his would of course look this precise.

Standing, he saunters over to his desk where an assortment of schoolwork and gadgets reside. Picking up a pen, he fingers it gently, looking over the gold engraving of his last name. He snorts. Down to the very pen the DuGrey wealth exists.

Setting the pen back down, he once again looks over his room, trying to recall any happy memories it may hold. With his mind drawing a blank, he suddenly wonders if he has ever truly been happy. One would think that being surrounded by such wealth and honor that one would find some bit of contentment. Yet, as his mind mulls over his life, he continually finds something negative about every one of his experiences. With a heavy heart, he realizes that his experience with Rory, despite his efforts, will also be remembered as a bad experience of his life.

Catching his reflecting in the corner of his eye, he turns to face the body length mirror hanging on the back of his door. Looking at himself he hears the word pathetic echoing in his mind, mocking him, yet trying to tell him something that he doesn't understand. Suddenly overcome with intense frustration he throws his fist at the mirror, his knuckles landing on the reflection of his face and cracking the mirror in a zigzag design.

At the impact, an instant shock courses through his arm, rattling his bones harshly. The flesh of his knuckles suddenly screams with searing pain as glass shards rip through it, slashing open veins and muscles. Instantly retracting his hand from the mirror, he groans loudly in pain, biting down hard on his lip to keep from screaming. Cupping his bleeding hand, he stumbles to the bathroom, and runs water over his burning knuckles.

"Fuck," he yelps through gritted teeth. Grabbing the nearest towel he removes his hand from under the water and wraps the towel around it, staining it a deep crimson. Breathing heavily, he squeezes his eyes shut, trying to block out the pulsating pain running through his hand.

"So fucking stupid," he mumbles. After a couple of minutes he pulls away the towel, inspecting his shredded hand. Noticing a few miniscule shards of glass sticking from his flesh, he digs through the bathroom drawers until he finds tweezers. Gritting his teeth he plucks each piece from his hand, setting them on the counter in a bloody heap. Finally removing the last piece he stares at the damage he has done to himself, shocked. This is getting out of hand, he tells himself.

Finding his small medical kit, he wraps his hand slowly, wincing at the pain. When he is finished, he returns to the mirror, now marred with a hole, and kneels to collect the glass shards on the ground. As he picks up the pieces the voice in his head starts chanting pathetic once again. Grinding his teeth, his stomach bile boils with pure unstoppable rage. Rage directed at himself.

Tristan, you fucking idiot, he scolds himself. You're more than pathetic by this point. You're…you're…His thoughts stop as he searches for the right word. Suddenly, he realizes something.

"I'm pathetic because I've accepted things as they are," he voices out-loud. Turning, he looks to the broken mirror. "You said she was worth the fight, but in the end you accepted the pain." A lump suddenly forms in his throat and his eyes grow warm and moist. Stumbling backwards, he falls onto his bed, holding his head in his hands.

"You never truly fought for her," he whispers to himself. A sob chokes through his clenched throat as silent tears fall, wetting his hands and running down his arms. Feeling the wetness, he looks to his hands. I haven't cried in years…At this thought, a realization occurs to him.

"She is worth the fight." Wiping his eyes, Tristan grabs his car keys from his nightstand and rushes from his room. Within seconds he is starting his car and peeling out of his driveway with a dramatic screech of the tires. After several nearly illegal turns he is speeding down the long stretch of highway ahead of him.

With his previous words echoing in his mind, the cloudy confusion in his head seems to clear away. She is worth it, she is worth it…I love her. A smile appears on his lips for what feels like the first time in years.

"I love Rory Gilmore," he says out-loud, his voice filled to the brim with pure emotion. And I no longer have to be afraid…because I know I can make it work. I feel it inside of me. Right here. He brings his bandaged hand to his chest and gently places it over his heart. He leaves it resting there, driving with one hand, until the exit sign for Stars Hollow appears and he has to grip the steering wheel with both hands to keep his shaking nerves from driving him off the road.

Pulling past the now familiar "Welcome to Stars Hollow" sign, the words this is right repeat in his thoughts. When her driveway comes into view, his pounding heart begins to swell with a mixture of elation and nervousness. Parking his car, his shaking hands remove the car keys from the ignition. Staring at his bandaged hand, though, he feels his nerves begin to calm, his confidence build, his love grow even more; and he smiles.

Without a second thought he exits the car and bounds up to her front door. Taking a deep breath, he knocks on the door and waits for it to open. When he hears footsteps approaching the door from inside pounding heart skips a beat; and when the door swings open, revealing a surprised Rory in the doorway his heart nearly stops.

His eyes lock with hers and she gives him a timid smile. Standing a foot away from her, his heart beats freely, no longer stressed by the stretched limits of space and time. And as she smiles at him, he knows the space between he and Rory has at last come to its rightful place; waiting to be filled with eternal love in infinite time. He smiles back at her.

"Hi, Rory." He steps forward, taking her hand in his.

"Hi, Tristan." She brings her lips to his, filling the space between them with a simple kiss of promise.

Note: At the very beginning the Spanish phrase translates to: "But, I love you, Pablo! I love you!" (Although you probably were smart enough to figure that one out on your own…)

Happy endings are the only way to go! 

Thanks everyone so much for all the support.  You guys are great support. =)

(Ah this song is awesome, I highly recommend Kill Hannah.  Bitchin' band!)

Gilmore Girls forever!