This was written for the Endless Summer Nights Trory Exchange, and now that the reveal has happened, thought I'd post it here as well. I wrote one for the Summer Passions as well, but it's a bit racier than what's allowed here. I can give you the link to it if you email me, though.

Rating of your requested fic: R

Things to include:

1. Dean being abusive

2. Rory turning into a Magdalene at Chilton

3. Rory moving in with someone in Hartford

Things not to include:

1. No sappy annoying Tristan

2. No Rory going back to being a Mary.

3. No talking about Rory's 'issues'

AN: Title name is from Fuel's song, Shimmer. I own rights to neither that or GG.

I took the instructions to mean that the requestor wanted a Trory set back in high school years, so I started there. It takes place right after the Season One finale, and it leads off into my version of reality from there. Rory and Dean did get back together, and she does go to Summer School, but that's about it as far as the similarity goes. Not sure what Rory's Issues are, other than the Dean being abusive thing. Sorry if I misread those, but I hope this fulfills your summer Trory needs. . .

SPECIAL THANKS to Meg and Katherine, my two wonderful betas who did way too much for me this summer! I love you both! You rocked, especially Katherine, who let me vent my frustrations and yelled back with me! And to the requestor of this fic, who truly challenged me. Hope you enjoy this!


The heat filled every molecule around her, expanding the air, distorting the visual images around her, and made taking a deep breath difficult. Summer had hit early, humidity and skyrocketing temperatures that didn't break even in the usual cool of night. She checked her watch, and let out a long sigh. Ten past midnight. She was in store for more yelling, something she wasn't sure her head could take. Everywhere she went, more yelling.

Opening the front door slowly, as to minimize the sound in case her mother wasn't standing right there with a disapproving look on her face, she eased her way into the house. No mother standing in the entry way with a clock. A good sign, and she slipped off her shoes in order to walk barefoot down the hall into her room. She was glad to be in the air-conditioned haven of home, the moisture drying on her skin quickly, leaving gritty salt on her skin making her feel the need for a shower. She got into her room, filled with books and future dreams, where she found her mother.

Lorelai sat on the bed Indian style looking tired. She looked up at Rory, almost as if she expected her to stroll in after curfew. Which she had all week, since the day Dean had come to Chilton and they had gotten back together after she confessed her love. Now every spare minute was spent with him. This was saying a lot since it was her only free week between regular classes and summer courses that began the next Monday. She stopped cold in her doorway, waiting for her mother to speak.

But Lorelai said nothing. Rory grew more uneasy, not wanting to hear the yelling that had been occurring between them all week about how boys aren't the be all end all purpose of life, how rules in this house were put in place for her own good, blah, blah. Very un-Lorelai like. Not that Lorelai would call Rory's behavior typical lately, either.


"Rory, I'm tired. Really tired. I am so tired of yelling at you, wondering what you aren't telling me--," she started.

"Mom, I--," Rory started, feeling the walls she'd been trying to put up soften. She could tell her mother anything, after all.

"But I can't do this right now. I just can't. You're starting classes on Monday, and I think the best thing for us to do here is for you to stay with your grandparents in Hartford for the summer."

Wall hardening back in process. Rory gaped at her mother's words, sure she heard her wrong.


"You obviously don't have enough respect for me to abide by my rules. Staying at your grandparents will provide you with structure, and you'll be close to school."

"You can't be serious. What about Dean?"

"It's Hartford, not Mars."

"I can't even believe you're reacting like this!"

"What else can I do? You won't talk to me, you're upset all the time; that is when you are here at all! Pack your stuff, I'll drop you off in the morning."

"Fine," Rory bit back, in a tone she was using more and more around her mother. Lorelai stalked out of her room, leaving Rory alone. She glanced at the time. 12:15. Dean should be back home now, and telling him sooner than later would probably be better. She changed out of her tank top and shorts, wincing as she moved the shirt up over her back. Avoiding the mirror, she pulled on her coolest silk nightgown, and decided to sleep on top of the covers tonight.

Dialing the number, praying not to wake anyone else up, she waited on the line.

"Hello?" came the low, hushed voice.

"Dean, it's me."



"What's wrong?"

Like you don't know. This is your chance to end it, for good. She thought to herself.

"I—my mom's sending me to live with grandparents for the summer."

"You told her." It was more of an accusation than concern.

"No, I didn't. We're not getting along, and I have school on Monday, she thinks it's best."

"When do you leave?"

"Tomorrow, first thing. Maybe," she took a breath. "Maybe, we should not see each other while I'm gone."

"Funny, I never pegged you for a fuck and run type of girl," his tone turned angrier.

"Dean, that's not it," tears sprung to her eyes. She had written off his behavior the last week as jealousy, but now he was just being outright cruel.

"Fine, go fuck every guy at Chilton. See if I care."

She was ear to ear with a dial tone. He'd hung up, washing his hands of her, what they'd done and what he'd done to her. Tears streamed down her face as she lay down on her side to wait out her last hours at home.

The next morning, they threw Rory's bags into the Jeep and headed off towards Hartford. Emily was waiting in the doorway to the large house, eager to have her granddaughter to herself for the summer. As they pulled into the driveway, Lorelai spoke for the first time.

"You know, lots of kids spend the summers with their grandparents."

"Don't write this off as normal. You're dumping me off somewhere when you got sick me."

"Rory," Lorelai admonished. "That's not true! I hope this is a break for you, and when you come home, I hope you'll talk to me about whatever it is that's going on with you."

"Whatever," she said, hopping out of the Jeep, bags in hand. She walked up to her grandmother, and gave the best smile she could muster.

"Rory! Dear, how wonderful! Are you excited?"

"I guess so. I mean, I have school all summer, but it'll be nice to see you and Grandpa more."

"Excellent. Rosa will show you up to your room, dear."

Rory followed the maid of the week up the staircase. Emily turned to Lorelai, who had gotten out of the Jeep at a much slower pace than Rory. She hadn't slept at all last night, unable to shake the feeling of failure and sadness that this situation had caused her.

"Mom, I just want to thank you for doing this."

"Nonsense, it's our pleasure."

"Well, that's sweet, but I want to tell you something."

She hesitated, wondering if it was really Emily's business.


"It's just, Rory is having some problems. I don't know what is going on with her, but she's been breaking curfew and been really angry the last week. I just wanted you to know, she's in a weird place right now."

"Lorelai, we know how to handle children. You've obviously let her run wild for too long, and it's manifesting itself. Now, let her get settled. We'll see you Friday?"

Lorelai stood, looking at her mother in shock. Shaking her head, she mutely wandered back to the Jeep, heading back to the empty house.

The weekend was filled with parties thrown by Hartford elite. Rory had been dragged by her grandparents, and found some of the faces to include some of her classmates. She left her normal book at home, and decided to try to meet some of her classmates. She found a lot of them were going the summer classes' route as she was. She found herself in positions she had never considered before. Learning to move in social circles, having actual conversations with people she had considered enemies during the past school year. And on Sunday evening, she found herself in a large linen closet with a guy from her history class last semester, named Brian, her back up against the wall, her legs around his waist and having more fun at one of these parties than she'd ever imagined.

She wasn't sure how they ended up having sex in the linen closet of the Smith's sprawling mansion. They'd both been dragged there against their wills, as most teens there had been. She recognized him from class, said something witty to him, and they actually had a pleasant conversation. Suddenly she couldn't get the desire to kiss him out of her head. True, her mind had been drifting off to all things carnal since she and Dean had had sex the week before. Maybe it was normal, the more sex you have, the more you want.

At any rate, when he whispered for her to follow him, she gladly obeyed. After they finished and she pulled her underwear back up, he bid her a good evening and said he'd see her at school.

Monday hit, and she made it down the stairs just in time to grab a piece of toast from the overly filled spread of breakfast foods. Her grandfather was reading his daily paper, but put it down to smile at her and wish her a good day at school. Her grandmother looked disappointed that she was running so late, but Rory promised to make an earlier appearance the next morning, and rushed off to school.

Sliding into a vacant seat, she pulled out her notebook, ready to begin the marathon of note taking that she had grown accustomed to over the last nine months. She looked around, for the first time, to see who was in her World Politics course. Paris sat two rows ahead of her, notebook out and book shoved in her face.

Is that what I look like? She cringed at the thought. Paris looked sad, and lonely, despite her two best friends, Madeline and Louise, talking busily and loudly around her. The girls had been warming up to her until they found out Tristan had wanted to take her to a PJ Harvey concert. She thought immediately that she should have gone, since they were already pissed at her, and she wouldn't be in this mess with Dean—not living in Hartford and she really liked PJ Harvey. It was really human of him to find out the kind of music she liked, since he obviously knew nothing about her music.

As if on cue, Tristan walked in, smiling as usual, and joined a few guys in the back of the room. Rory craned her neck a little to see who was among the group. She saw Brian, who gave a nod to her. She gave a faint smile, remembering the night before, glad that he was happy with the events as they were. No jealousy, no commitment. Just fun. She turned around, as the teacher walked in and class began.

There was a lunch break between the second and third classes of the day, and Rory sat in the courtyard, enjoying the sun even though it was too hot. She had lost her socks and shoes and brought her skirt up higher on her legs to tan them. Her short-sleeved dress shirt was open, revealing a white tank top. It was almost bearable out there with the amended uniform. She leaned back on the bench, headphones on and sipping her ice-cold water.

Someone slipped into the seat next to her, startling her at first. She saw Tristan, his khaki shorts showing off his well-formed calf muscles, seated next to her. She removed her headphones, smiling at him.

"What are you listening to?"

"PJ Harvey," came her nonchalant response.

"Of course. So, you like the classes so far?"

"They're alright. Not too boring. I think the world politics might get nasty, with Paris and all. Lots of bickering with her and Mr. Randall."

Tristan laughed. "Yeah, she does have anger management issues, doesn't she?"

"Something like that," Rory agreed.

"You know, you might get in trouble, sitting out here like that," he looked her up and down, letting himself enjoy the look of her like this too much.

"Am I driving you crazy?" her voice lower than normal, and playful.

"I uh, just meant, if a teacher walked by," he managed.

"It's hot, Tristan. It's not like I am walking around in a g-string and pasties."

He couldn't shake the immediate image from his brain and continued the banter.

"Tell me you're wearing a g-string."

"Tristan, it's too hot for underwear," she said as calmly as she was saying the sky was blue.

He swallowed, hard, trying to decide if she were trying to make him burst through his pants. The thought that Brian hadn't been full of shit never entered his mind until now. He'd heard him say that Rory was a good fuck, but until now he just thought he was lying. Surely she wouldn't have had sex with him in some random closet. Her first time shouldn't be like that. She was different; she deserved someone who really cared about her to make the experience more meaningful than two people clawing at the other like animals. Not that that wasn't fun, too. . .

"Can I ask you something?"

"Sure," her big blue eyes stared into his. She still looked like the same innocent Rory. Long, golden brown hair swept up into a ponytail, eyes the color of brilliant sapphires. And amazingly enough, after hearing her scream how much she hated him to her perfect boyfriend; they were sitting here having a normal conversation. Well, sort of normal.

"You didn't, by any chance, go out with Brian last night did you?"

"No, I wouldn't say that," she tilted her head to the side thoughtfully.

"I didn't think so. I mean, you have a boyfriend, right?"

She bit her lip. "What did Brian say?"

"He said you were a good fuck."

She blushed a little. "Well, that was sweet of him. Return the compliment when you see him, could you?"

Tristan's mouth opened in shock. Did Rory Gilmore, the girl he teased all year about being a virginal Mary just say what he thought she said? She was supposed to be outraged, in fact he expected to be slapped. But she smiled sweetly, rebuttoned her shirt and pulled her socks and shoes back on.

"See you around, Tristan," she waved as she headed back into the main building to get to her next class.

Two weeks passed. Days filled with classes, nights with various summer cocktail parties, and homework done shoved into the midnight hours between. Rory's grandparents were thrilled at her sudden interest in her schoolmates. After the debacle that was Rory's 16th birthday party, she had seemed to do a 180 in personality, seeking out new friends and being as unseen as the other Chilton kids were at the parents' cocktail parties.

Of course, to what would be their dismay, Rory was upstairs, with a different boy each time, reaching new levels of gratification. Each party she looked around to see who had shown up, moving in the next object of attraction, flirting, and disappearing to the nearest vacant space—library, bedroom, pantry, pool house, it didn't matter. The guy didn't matter. They treated her nice, said appreciative things, and they all shared one very important trait. It was only a one-time deal. Any mentions of future at all, and she was out of there. Luckily, word traveled fast at Chilton, as if by telepathy, and this wasn't an issue.

This night, clad in a light pink sundress, she roamed around the patio area after having met the 'very dear friend' that Emily 'just had' to introduce her to tonight, and thereby had been released of her duties. She didn't see why her mother had hated this life so much, it's the simplest thing to smile politely, say the right things and be released to the most unsupervised places on earth. A teenager could find anything they were looking for at these parties. Drugs, alcohol, sex, anything and everything could be found easily. Rory was only concerned with the latter, however. And to a girl that looked like she did, long legs that went on forever, the face of an angel with hypnotic blue eyes—she had no problems at all.

She held a drink in her hand, sipping on it occasionally as she tried to cool herself off from the warm night air. She hit the edge of the cement and noticed there was a small path off towards the fenced off pool area. She looked around, seeing only familiar faces from evenings past, smiling as they were at her, and ducked her head as she headed down the darkened path. She found small lights along the path as she rounded towards the door to the gated fence. The door itself was slightly ajar, and she nudged it open lightly.

He heard someone opening the gate, and he cursed himself for not shutting it behind him. His feet dangled in the water, a drink next to him on the cement edge of the pool. He couldn't remember whose home he was at, not that it mattered much. It was just another night, just another excuse to see and be seen. He was trying to get away from them all tonight, tired of it all. He was just about to tell whoever was invading his space to get the hell out, but then he saw the flowing material, the softest of pink, land on the cement next to him. Her eyes were wide, the most beautiful blue, lit up by the moonlight. He would have smiled at her, but he just looked away.

"Mind if I join you," she said, more than asked.

"Whatever," was his only response, as she looked over the water.

"Were you waiting on someone?"

"Were you looking for someone?" he raised an eyebrow, looking directly at her now. She was close enough; she could almost taste the alcohol on his breath.

"Maybe," she said, for once, sounding unsure of herself. She hadn't meant to find him. He'd been avoiding her the last two weeks. He was seen, of course, in the hallways, from behind as he pressed the next willing victim into the row of lockers. She kept her escapades to parties, though she was now amongst the 'in crowd' in the halls and during lunch. Since they were now expected to talk, they avoided each other.

He leaned in, and she let her eyelids half close in anticipation. She could feel his lips almost touching hers.

"Then you better look somewhere else," he whispered, his tone hard.

She looked up at him in confusion, her eyes darkening. "What the hell is your problem?" she bit back.

"You don't want to go there with me, Rory, I promise you that."

"What, so you'll fuck everyone but me?"

"That's right."

"You're drunk," she accused.

His laugh was a strange mix of amusement and disgust. It made her stand up, to move away from him.

"What is your point? That I shouldn't be drinking? Or that I must be out of my mind not to want the same piece of you that you've been handing out to all the guys?" he threw his words at her, now standing in front of her.

"Go to hell, Tristan!"

He moved suddenly, her perception taking his move to point to the gate as a hostile reaction to her words. She ducked down, curling herself into a ball as she fell to her knees against the cement.

"Jesus!" he swore, seeing her movements, as he knelt down next to her, noting the red rising up from under the scratches now on her legs from the rough texture of the cement. Blood was slowly trickling out of the gashes, and down her legs, a strong contrast to the pastel pinks of her dress.

She shirked away from the touch of his hand on her shoulder, and his voice softened.

"Rory, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to scare you," his voice came out deep and concerned.

"Just, leave me alone," she pleaded, trying to hold back tears.

"Rory, what's wrong? I mean, I just wanted you to--," he tried to explain.

"Just, go, please," she urged.

"You're bleeding," he said calmly, still not touching her. His hands hovered just over her shoulders, wanting to make contact, but not wanting to cause her more stress.

She pulled her head up at little, to look down at her knees. He was right, small trickles of blood were flowing from where her knees hit the cement. She could feel the stinging and felt suddenly foolish.

"I—I should go home," she managed, looking still panicked and unsure.

"Come on, let me drive you," he offered.

"You've been drinking," she pointed out.

"Then I'll walk you, it's not that far is it?"

She shook her head numbly. He offered his arm so she could grab it and steady herself on her feet. Once standing, he grabbed his socks and shoes, throwing them hastily on before offering his arm again to her. They took the back way through the yard, to avoid strange stares from onlookers. They got out to the sidewalk, and walked in silence.

"Which house is it?" he asked as they turned onto Elm.

"It's the third house on the right."

"Do you have keys?"

"Um, no, but there should be servants still around," she looked down at her watch. "Or, I can just climb the trellis to Mom's room," she mentioned.

"Climbing might not be the best idea," he offered.

"Right," she said, looking down at her stained legs.

They stopped, right in front of the house and he looked down at her. She met his eyes briefly, and fidgeted in place.

"So, thanks, for walking me home," she offered.

"Rory," he started. He wanted to know, but they'd been so successfully avoiding contact the last two weeks. He wasn't sure why, he just knew that something was off with her. She roamed the school, acting like everything was normal, indifferent to her newfound status.

"I'll see you in school," she said, starting to turn away from him.

"Wait," he commanded, stopping her movements.

"What's going on? Why did you freak out at the pool? And since when do you sleep with any guy that comes across your path?"

"That's not fair, Tristan," she said quietly, trying to contain her composure.

"Tell me, Rory. Tell me what's going on."

"Why do you care?"

"I just do."

She looked into his eyes, trying to decipher if he was being honest or if he was just collecting more dirt to spread around Chilton like wildfire. Somewhere inside her she felt that he would not do that to her. He'd come off as a bit of a jerk at times to her, but he'd also showed true compassion at others. It was like she'd seen a sliver of his soul, in small glimpses and she was curious to see more from under the smart-ass exterior.

"Fine, but not here."

He looked around wondering where she was planning on going. He wasn't leaving until he got an explanation—she didn't seem stable at all. He hadn't been drinking that much, he could tell something was more off than he'd originally thought. Perhaps being such an ass to deter her from seeking him out hadn't been the best plan.

"Follow me, and be quiet," she ordered, and he immediately obeyed. She cut through the side yard of her grandparent's house into the backyard of the adjoining property. Her first thought was of her legs, now stinging and covered in dried blood. She reached the neighbors pool house and opened the unlocked door, moving towards the closet.

"What are you doing?"

"Getting a suit. You want one?"

"Where are we?"

"The neighbors pool. They're out of town, and told us to feel free to use their pool. Do you want a suit?" she repeated.

"Uh, sure," he said, taking the trunks from her outstretched hand.

"I'll be right back," she promised, before disappearing into the bathroom. He slipped out of his clothes, letting them fall to a pile on the ground under him. He pulled up the trunks, tying them off when just as she emerged from the bathroom in a blue bikini that looked like it'd been made for her.

She moved to the glass doors on the backside, which led out to the pool. She moved to the shallow end, stepping gingerly into the chlorinated water. She winced as the chemicals hit her raw legs, slowly letting the pain subside. She looked up to see a splash in the water, as he dove into the deep end of the pool. He was in front of her in moments, midway across the pool, standing as it wasn't deep enough to tread in.

"Okay, we're somewhere else. Now, talk," he insisted.

"Fine. I didn't mean to freak out like that—I just, I saw your hand come out so fast, and it looked like," she paused.

"Like I was going to hit you?"

She nodded. He was in shock—he'd never hit a girl. He didn't care how mad he was, or what the situation—you just don't hit girls. Ever.

"Rory, I would never--," he emphatically began.

"It's not because of you, I mean, I didn't think it was because it was you, I just," she stopped before tears could form in her eyes. She felt the stinging in her retinas, a sure sign tears were soon to form.

"Who hit you?"

"It doesn't matter. I'm not—we aren't together anymore."

"Is it someone from school?"

She shook her head. Now extremely uncomfortable, she wasn't sure why he cared. He'd been so avoidant since summer classes began. She'd thought he would have like the change in her; she now participated in his circle of friends. But instead he avoided all contact. In fact, tonight was the first time he'd even talked to her since the day after she and Brian ... .

"Tristan," she began, understanding sinking in.

"Rory, tell me who did this to you," he insisted.

"Why didn't you want to hook up earlier?" her voice wasn't teasing or accusatory, it was soft and curious.

"Rory, who hit you?" he was unwavering in his attempts of getting her to talk.

"Why does it matter?"

"Did you hit him back?"

"No!" she looked surprised.

"Then I'm going to beat the shit out of him, because someone needs to. Now who is it?"

"Tristan, it's over, it doesn't matter."

"Like hell," he countered, putting his arms around her waist so she couldn't turn away from him.

"Dean," she whispered.

"Bastard!" he yelled, and she moved her hand to his mouth to quiet him.

"When did this start?"

"He was always sort of jealous and angry. He would flip out about nothing, he thought I was with other guys all the time, when I wasn't."

"What guys?" his tone softer, but anger seething under the surface.

"Jess, he's Luke's nephew, and you," her last word was almost inaudible. She moved over to the side of the pool resting her arms up over the side. He moved so that he was beside her towards the deeper end, and also moved his arms out of the water to rest next to hers. His elbow brushed hers and she turned her head towards him, her eyes downcast.


"Yeah. I would tell him nothing was going on, but he never believed me. He never hit me, but after we got back together, he got ... angrier I guess. He started hounding me about what I'd done while we were apart. He kept saying how we needed to be completely honest with each other, or it wouldn't work. So, I told him about the night at Madeline's party."

"Shit," Tristan swore. "Rory, you," he started.

"He kept calling me names; slut, whore, then, he--," tears came down like a river as she remembered that night.

Tristan had no idea what to say to her. All he could think about was how best to kill Dean. Surely a slow death was something he deserved. Suddenly he felt her shiver next to him. Unsure whether she were crying harder or just cold due to the breeze that had come in from the south. He put an arm around her shoulder and to his surprise she turned and buried herself in his bare chest. He put his arms around her lightly, and she pulled even tighter, holding onto his shoulders as if she might drown if she let go.

"I deserved it," she choked back a sob in her efforts to speak. "He was right, I shouldn't have—,"

"Don't you dare finish that sentence."

"But, I,"

"No, Rory. There is nothing you could have done to make what he did okay."

"But I kissed you the day after I broke up with him."

"So what? I'd only been broken up with Summer for minutes before I kissed you."

"But he loved me and I just went and kissed you," she sighed, trying to unfuddle her thoughts. Every time he'd struck her, telling her how she should hurt as much as she'd hurt him, she became more convinced than she'd already been that he was right.

"Do you love him?" he controlled his voice to remain as even as he could manage. She was in his arms, and he hoped he could make her see this wasn't her fault.


"Do you love him?"

"I thought I did. I don't know," she shook her head, as if it were too full. The water lapped around her body, her hair drying in the night air as she pressed her head into his shoulder. His skin was warm, and she could feel his muscles tightening under her fingertips.

"You aren't still with him?"

"No, I broke it off when Mom sent me to stay with my grandparents."

He put his hand over her head, stroking her damp hair so it would lay flat. "I thought you were really close with your Mom."

"I am. Or was. I just couldn't tell her, I was so ashamed. She said it would be easier if I went away for the summer. I just felt so ... alone," tears came again. He could feel them hot and wet against his shoulder, hitting faster than before.

Suddenly her of-late lifestyle change seemed obvious. Everyone in her life had shut her out and pushed her away. She was thrust into his world; something that he'd had a lifetime to acclimate to. But she seemed to be cracking under the pressure.

"It's okay, I'm right here," he closed his eyes as he tightened his grip around her with the arm around her waist while the other hand held her head gently against him.

She continued to cry, letting it all out of her. She felt safe with him, in his arms, sheltered from her whole world. As he wrapped himself around her, she burrowed herself further into him, and realized she could no longer feel the barrier between their skin. Her stomach and his seemed almost fused in her mind. What she did feel was his lips on her forehead. Then on her cheek. And finally as she opened her blurry eyes, his lips brushed hers. He kissed her lightly, soothingly, and moved to allow her to rest her head on his shoulder. But she surprised him, putting her hands on his cheeks, and bringing his lips back to hers. He kissed her back immediately, his hands sliding down her body, grabbing her hips and lifting her easily through the water so she was level with him.

She felt free, like she was floating. His lips dancing across hers, and as his tongue traced her lower lip, she opened her mouth to taste him. She moved her legs up around his waist with ease, and brought her hands around to weave into his hair. She moved her lips down his neck and his head tilted back to enjoy the sensation of her teeth pulling the skin over his pulse. He shuddered as she kissed the spot she had been tugging on with her teeth.

"Rory," he half moaned.

"Hmm?" she said as she moved back to his lips.

"Hey, slow down, just a second," he said, trying to bring her legs down off of him.

She looked startled. She had stopped crying, and her face was flushed. He held on to her, though she tried to pull further away from him.

"Rory, hold on, you don't understand," his voice was demanding.

"No, I get it. I'm sorry, I misunderstood," she replied quickly, looking to the side.

"No, you didn't. You've been through a lot, and lately, I've been hearing some things that just don't seem like you," he said knowingly.

"What, now that I'm not a virgin, this game isn't one you want to play?"

"That's not fair," he warned.

"Yeah, well, Tristan, here's a newsflash—life isn't fair. Sometimes you are stuck with people that treat you like shit, and sometimes drowning your pain in other people is easier than sitting alone at home," she said pulling out of his grasp altogether.

"You're right. It is. But you're better than that," he reminded her. "I've heard those guys talk about you."

"Why are you even bringing this up? Why? God, can nothing make sense? One minute you want me, the next minute we're talking about my past sexual behaviors. What about you, Tristan, how many women have you been with?"

"Rory," he set his jaw, trying not to let her get to him. He knew she was just having a rough time, but she continued.

"No, Tristan, I'm serious. I've heard plenty of girls talk about you, and having sex in random places. Don't pretend to be any better than the others, 'cause you're not."

"Rory, I'll say this once. I'll answer all serious, sane questions. But only if you're going to do the same."

She looked at him, arms crossed and shivering. He wanted to warm her up, but thought it best to not touch her right now. Her emotions were all over the place, and his alcohol had worn off completely, leaving him feeling the cold for the first time.

She nodded and he moved to get out of the pool. She followed his lead, and he handed her a big beach towel to warm herself with. He wrapped a big blue towel around his shoulders, and they sat on poolside deck chairs facing each other.

"You first," he offered.

"How many girls have you slept with?"

"I don't know."

"I thought you were going to answer honestly," she reminded him.

"I am. I don't know how many there have been. A lot," he rubbed his face with his hand, averting her gaze. "What about you?"



"You heard me," she said, sounding embarrassed. Especially since he knew she had just started having sex a few weeks ago.

"Jesus," he swore, hating Dean for doing this to her.

"You make it sound like this isn't something I chose to do."

She sank back into her chair, almost lost in the big towel. She was this contradiction of innocence and temptress in his mind.

"I'm sorry, I just have to keep reminding myself that I'm talking to you," he stressed the last word.

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"Just that, you aren't like the type of girls I go out with normally. You're smart, and independent," he rattled off.

"So, you date dumb, clingy girls?"

"Not clingy so much as," he paused, looking for the right word.

"Easy?" she supplied.

"Well, yeah."

"Your turn again."

"Alright. Why have you been with all these guys in such a short amount of time?"

"I already told you," she said quietly.

"Because you were lonely and upset?"

She nodded. "What have they said about me?"

That sounded more like the old Rory. The girl that cared about her grades, her friends, and her family. The one that had self-respect and wanted more out of life than a good lay.

"They just, most of them said how amazing you were, and that they couldn't believe that you'd approached them. Believe it or not, you're sort of intimidating," he smirked at her.

"I'm not intimidating," she shot him a weird look.

"All I'm saying is that the girls that get hit on all the time look like they'll say yes to anyone. Girls that don't get hit on look like they know better," he informed her.

"Oh," she said. "But you hit on me all the time."

"Well, that's sort of different. I got bored of girls that said yes all the time. It was refreshing to hear you say no. Call me a sadist." His smile broadened as he spoke.

She smiled, sitting up straighter. "Well, I didn't want to be one of your conquests."

"I respect that. That's why I wanted to stop now, and why I pushed you away earlier," he explained. "Not because I don't want you."

"Oh." Her blush was back.

"And I do want to kill Dean."

She sighed. "It's over, completely."

"You have to go home sometime, and he still lives there, correct?"

"Yes, but," she started.

"Just promise me two things," he said, moving to sit on the edge of her deck chair.

"What?" she said, leaning against his shoulder again.

"One, tell your mother what happened. As much as I like the thought of you living in Hartford, you don't belong here. She can call the cops on his ass, like he deserves," he added.

"Second, let me take you out this weekend."

"Well," she said, lacing her hand through his, "If you insist."