CHAPTER 14

"Mom," Rory called out when her mother picked up the phone.

"Rory! I tried calling you on your cell phone," she said. "You are impossible to get a hold of!"

"We had a dinner, remember?" Rory said.

"Oh yeah, you forgot to tell me that Friday night dinners are cancelled for now. What gives?" Lorelai asked.

"Agh! I'm sorry! I forgot about that. Grandma said dinners are suspended indefinitely per Grandpa's request," Rory passed on the message.

"Well thanks, smartass. I figured that the hard way," Lorelai said.

"What do you mean?" Rory inquired.

"Lights, sirens and stretchers. That's how they celebrated. Your grandmother thought I was being rude showing up despite her request that dinners are off ," Lorelai informed Rory. "If I waited longer, maybe I was going to get a telegram, too."

"I'm sorry, mom. I should've told you sooner," Rory apologized. "So, have you seen gramps?"

"No, he's still being seen by the doctor. I went home to get some of dad's stuff. I think something fishy's going on with mom and dad... But we'll discuss that when you get here," Lorelai said.

"We should be there a little past midnight," Rory informed her.

"We'll be waiting," Lorelai said as she hung up.

The almost three hour trek was unbearable to Rory. Tristin grabbed her hand several times to calm her down. His reassuring smile calmed her down a lot.

Despite the music playing in the background, the trip was made in silence.

Rory was relieved when she saw signs guiding them to St. Francis Medical Center.

"We're almost there," Tristin said to Rory.

"Thank you," she responded back. "You know you didn't have to do this."

"I wanted to," he said.

Tristin dropped her off at the front of the Emergency doors while he went to park his vehicle. Rory's eyes scanned the seats. Seeing no one familiar, she went to the counter to ask for assistance.

"Rory?" a female voice called out.

"Lindsey?" Rory confirmed as she faced the blonde. She was walking with crutches. "What happened to you?"

"I fell from the steps and sprained my ankle badly," she explained.

"Did you break anything?" Rory asked.

"Fortunately, not. But the doctor said it will take a while for me to heal," Lindsey said.

"Have you found out anything?" Tristin asked as he came through the doors.

"No, not yet," Rory said. "I want you to meet Lindsey. Lindsey, this is Tristin."

"Hi," Tristin said waving to her. "What happened?"

"Took a spill," she said chuckling. "Are you Rory's boyfriend?" she asked.

"Are you ready to go?" a male voice from around the corner called out. Rory's heart sank to her stomach. The two other people looked towards the general direction. Dean emerged from behind the corner.

Rory noticed Tristin clam up. He stood up straight like a watchdog protecting his territory. She noticed Dean's eyes shift from her then to Tristin.

"Rory, what are you doing with this clown?" Dean asked.

"Dean," Lindsey said, "Why are you attacking him?"

"Nice to see that bag boy hasn't learned any manners from grocery school," Tristin said sarcastically.

"I'm surprised your tie hasn't strangled you yet, accountant," Dean spat back.

"Hey, quit it, you two," Rory said as she mediated between the two gentlemen.

"How do you do it, Rory?" Lindsey asked. "You get yourself a really nice looking guy and you still have my husband wrapped around your finger." Lindsey looked at her tense husband, then to Rory. "If I were you, I'd move on, Rory. Have Tristin fight your fights and leave my husband out of it."

Lindsey hobbled away. Dean looked at Tristin like he wanted to kill him. He wanted to say something but instead, walked out to catch up with his wife.

Tristin was confused. He did not know what just transpired before him.

"Rory!" a familiar voice from down the hall called after them.

"Mom!" Rory called out. She ran to her mom and gave her a hug.

"I'm glad to see you're here in one piece," Lorelai said. "How'd you get here?"

"Tristin drove me home," she said.

Lorelai let go of her daughter to notice Tristin at the corner waving at her shyly. She marched toward him and hugged him, too.

"You are the greatest," Lorelai said. "Thanks for bringing Rory home safely."

"I do my best, Ms. Gilmore," he said, taking the hug from her.

"Call me Lorelai. I fear my mom's behind me whenever you call me that," Lorelai told him.

"How's grandpa?" Rory asked.

"Well, he can talk now. He might have to get more tests to see if they need to perform surgery on him," Lorelai informed them. "Why don't you guys head down the hallway. You'll see grandma. I'll go grab us some coffee."

Taking a cue from her mother, she went down the hallway, dragging Tristin with her.

Emily Gilmore held a tissue on one hand, the other clutching her purse. She was surprised to see her granddaughter walk towards her with an elegantly dressed young man right beside her.

"Rory, you made it!" Emily said, hugging her.

"Thanks to my, uhm, date," Rory pointed out Tristin.

"Yes, you have a very handsome companion with you. And you are?" Emily asked.

"Tristin DuGrey, ma'am," Tristin introduced himself, laying a kiss on Emily's knuckles.

"Oh yes, now I remember. Janlen's grandson, right?" she clarified.

"One and only," Tristin confirmed.

"You came to my granddaughter's birthday party a couple of years back. You left an impression on Richard," she went on.

"I hope it's the good kind," Tristin hinted.

"Richard remembers names and faces and they are usually of good men," Emily informed him.

"Grandma, can we go in and see gramps?" Rory asked to end Emily's inquisition.

Emily sighed. "Yes. Your grandfather has been asking for you since he could see visitors. He said he wouldn't sleep without speaking to you."

Rory lanced her fingers through Tristin's and guided him to Richard's room. The elder Gilmore was reclined on his hospital bed.

"Rory?" he said.

"Hi Gramps! I heard that you gave everyone a scare toady," Rory bantered.

"Just got a little too excited," he said. "I'm sorry that my little ticker got you out from a fabulous party."

"Gramps, you know I will drop anything just to be by you," Rory said.

"I see you brought a bodyguard. Mister DuGray, isn't it?" Richard said.

"Tristin will be fine. Mister is left for dad and grandfather," Tristin chuckled. "How are you Mister Gilmore?"

"Better when I leave this place. They make too much of a fuss around here," Richard grumbled.

"They do that when you are one of the biggest donors," Rory said, reflecting back on what Tristin brought to light to her earlier that evening.

"Ah, Trix was the donor, not me," he said humbly. "Do you know what got me to this place, child?"

"No," Rory said.

"Your grandmother," Richard started, "and I have decided to try a trial separation."

Rory gasped. Tristin raised his eyebrow.

"Do you want me to leave?" Tristin asked.

"No, you could stay. The whole world will find out eventually," Richard calmly answered. "It's for our own good, Rory. Do you understand?"

Rory wanted to say 'no' but she nodded her head in compliance. She felt like she couldn't breathe.

"I need you to be strong for your mother and grandmother. I feel that you are the only one who could see this objectively," Richard informed her.

"Where are you going to be staying?" Rory asked grabbing her grandfather's hand.

"I'll still be in the compound. We're just going to have to meet in other ways other than Friday night dinners," Richard said.

Rory sighed and kissed her grandfather on the cheek. "When are you moving?"

"I was moving today and I think that's what got myself overworked. I don't know when I am going to get out of here but I would like it if you were around when I get home," Richard charmed his granddaughter.

"You know where you can call me when you're given you the green light," Rory said.

"That's my girl," Richard said giving Rory a squeeze. "Tristin, take care of this one. She is precious."

"I will, Mister Gilmore," Tristin promised.

Rory said goodbye to her grandfather and left him to his sleep. She and Tristin walked out of the room.

"So, is he finally asleep?" Lorelai asked as she handed her daughter and Tristin a cup of coffee.

"He's getting there," Rory said. "Are you headed home soon?"

"No, I'll be hanging around here for a few. Can I impose on you to take Rory home?" Lorelai asked Tristin as she shifter conversation between the two.

"It's my pleasure," Tristin said.

Rory hugged her grandmother.

"I will see you home in the morning," Lorelai said, hugging her daughter once more. "Don't let this guy go. I think the evil one has something going on here."

"Be good, mom," Rory chastised her mother.

Rory and Tristin walked out of the hospital in silence.

As soon as they exited through the emergency room doors, Rory started sobbing.

"Hey," Tristin started consoling her.

"I hate this place. I hate it!" Rory exclaimed emphatically.

"What do you mean?" he asked rubbing her back.

"This," she started saying, "... is all wrong. Grandpa. Lindsey and Dean. You."

"Me?" Tristin arched his eyebrow. He faced her and wiped the tears running down her cheek.

"I'm hanging on a very thin thread and I'm just waiting for it to break," she muttered between sobs.

"Don't worry. I'll be there to catch you," Tristin whispered back.

END

To be continued... All Grown Up and Nowhere to Go