AN: Wow, you guys and the reviews. I'm touched and overjoyed. I'm just so glad you're loving the non-fluff. I've had a bit of a time getting myself to write this chapter—I had the idea in my head, but somehow I was blocked in how to get it down in a coherent form. This is the final chapter—always my hardest to get to write in my favorite stories—I don't like letting them go. Enjoy.

The only thing that life seemed to be teaching her was the fact that you simply don't have the luxury of time in this world. Playing it safe and holding back emotions were a thing of the past. Her love for this man drove her to keep him as close as possible, from the moment her lips touched his on the end of the dock.

Dinner was forgotten, and they made their way to the nearest hotel. Upon reaching their room, he pulled her to him, fusing his lips with hers. She clung to him in a way she'd never before. Her arms around his shoulders, holding on as he lifted her up towards him, completely lost in her.

Gone were the worries about if the other was ready for this now, or if too much had time had passed. Too much time had passed, and both knew it. Nothing should have been able to rip them apart, but life wasn't always so cut and dry. Life had dragged them down, and pulled them in separate directions, but it had also brought them here to this moment in each others' arms.

Hope springs eternal in the hearts of true love. They were proof that it revives itself, having been bloodied and beaten, no worse for the wear. If anything, their love was stronger, more intense. It gripped them in a way it never had been before. Before it was want, desire, and love fueling their exchanges. Now it was need, flesh, and blood. It was beyond them.

He leaned back out of the kiss, looking at her face fully for the first time since they were in the park. Her lips were swollen, and slightly parted. Her breathing was audible, as her lungs begged for air. Her eyes—there was so much there. He saw past, present, and future swirling together. He wanted to tell her everything he was feeling, but he saw by looking into her eyes that he didn't have to. He dipped his head again, bruising her lips again with his.

"I'm not going!" she yelled, slamming her bedroom door shut so hard it shook the wall surrounding it.

Mumbling about not needing her house to fall down on top of dealing with the terrible teens, Lorelai advanced on her room, pulling the door open with just as much force.

"God, can't you knock?"

"My house, my door, I'll do whatever I damn well please with it. What do you mean, you aren't going?"

"I'm sick," Rory glared at her mother, throwing herself down on the bed.

"Rory, this is school. This is one-half your final grade in that stupid class. This is the reason my fingers have been numb for the last week! I've made all the freaking costumes for your presentation, and now you're telling me you aren't even going to go?"

"I don't feel up to it. They can cover my part."

"You're Juliet in Romeo and Juliet. How exactly will they cover without you?"

"I don't want to talk about this now."

"What happened?"

Rory sighed, crossing her arms over her chest. "I can't see him now."


Rory nodded. They'd been dating for months now, and it'd been going really well. But that was over now. She couldn't face him, not tonight of all nights.

"What happened, I ask again, to no avail?"

"It's over, okay? It's over, and I can't go there and play Juliet to his Romeo. I can't."

Lorelai looked at her daughter, full of concern. She had to admit, she didn't like how cozy the two were all the time, and knew they were much closer than she ever really needed to know about. But she also knew they were crazy about one another, and for it to suddenly be 'over' was preposterous.

"So, you had a fight?"

"It was more than a fight."

"So, you had a stupid fight, you'll make up, it'll be better than new."

He lay her back on the bed, never breaking contact from her. He was afraid if he did, she'd slip out of his grasp. He needed her more than air at this point, to touch her to make sure they were both still alive. He heard her moan as he moved her shirt up and brushed his lips over her stomach, moving them at an agonizingly slow pace over to the curve of her hip. He sucked the skin there into his mouth, using his teeth to mark her. He remembered her body better than either of them could have expected, and he took his time reacquainting himself with her. She opened herself to him, tilting her head back as he moved further down her body.

It hadn't been a stupid fight, at least it didn't seem that way now. It had been stupid, and it had been a fight, but it was more than that. This morning she'd gone to school ready to do a little bit of last minute preparation with Tristan after school and finally get this play project for English Lit class over with. They'd no longer have Paris breathing down their necks, about this at any rate. They were the perfect Romeo and Juliet, more than believable in the parts, and the best actors of the group. It would be an easy A, and everyone would go home happy.

Unfortunately, this wasn't how her day had gone.

"I said something stupid, and he took it the wrong way. That's all."

"Sure, 'cause I believe that. What could you have said to make you not want to see him?"

Rory bit her lip, and looked up at her mother. "You don't want to know," she sighed.

It was true; while Lorelai had been mainly cool about her and Tristan's sexual relationship, it wasn't like she enjoyed hearing about it. They'd only been dating a few months when it'd begun. Rory came to her just this past summer and confided in her that they'd had sex for the first time. That they'd been safe, and it was her idea. Lorelai knew he cared for her, and that she couldn't really dictate these things. She was just glad they were being smart.

"Just take me step by step through it. It'll help, clear your mind."

"Okay. I went over there, to practice our lines one last time before our final rehearsal tonight."

"Which you're now officially late for," Lorelai reminded, to a glare from her daughter. "Sorry, continue."

"We started, and I lay down on the floor, so we could get into the 'death scene' position. He wasn't taking it seriously, which was fine, but he started kissing me, on his bedroom floor, and the door was open."

Lorelai nodded, holding in a cringe.

"I told him that we needed to get this over with, and he agreed, but soon he was over me again, and I couldn't think. I can never think when he's touching me, and I just got so frustrated at myself and at him. I told him he was suffocating me, and all he could ever think about was sex."

"He didn't like that so much?" she asked, knowingly.

"He got mad, and said that if he was suffocating me so much, I should just go and take a breather, and I accused him of only wanting to be with me for sex," she cried.

"Oh, honey," she said, seeing the guilt wave up on her daughter.

"I knew it wasn't true, but I couldn't take it back. I didn't mean to say it, it just got so out of control!"

She couldn't feel where she ended and he began, she just knew that no one had ever evoked the sensations in her body that he could. She ran her nails down over his chest, feeling the waves of pleasure sweep over her. She knew she was soon to be caught in his tidal wave, or him in hers—it never mattered.

"Mom, I can't face him now. I left, and I shouldn't have, I should have stayed, but he was so mad, and I was frustrated. How did this happen?"

"You'll talk, you'll work it out. We have to go now, or you'll fail. You can't let a boy get in the way of your education. You'll get through the scene, you'll talk to him, and you'll work it out. You two are better than this, to let something come between you like that."

Rory nodded, wiping the tears away from her face. Her mother was right; she knew in her heart that she was falling in love with him. She was terrified—to say it and to feel it. She didn't want to lose him, and now she'd driven him away. She just wanted to be back in his arms.

It was the only place she would have relief.

"Tristan," she cried, gripping his shoulders as he held onto her waist. He buried his head in her shoulder, not wanting to feel anything but her. He moved to kiss her again moments later, as they continued to hold onto each other.

"I'm scared," she breathed, and he held her head against his chest as they continued to fall back down to earth.

She ran into the school, dressed in her Elizabethan gown, her mother trailing behind her. She had to find the group, who no doubt would be livid at her for missing rehearsal.


"I'm sorry Paris, I got caught up. I'm here. I haven't missed it," she reminded her.

"You better know your lines perfectly, Gilmore, or I swear to God," she continued, but Rory paid her no attention. Her eyes found Tristan, dressed in his costume as well, leaning against the far wall.

"Do you hear me, we're on next!"

"I hear you."

"Whatever. Just answer me."


"You know your lines?"

"Yes, Paris. I know the lines," she said, moving away from her annoying friend and trying to get to Tristan. She approached him slowly, and he watched her. His features remained stoic, not giving her any visual clues to his state of mind, other than indifference.

"Tristan, I need to talk to you," she began, her voice full of remorse.

"Come on, we're on!" Paris barked, and Tristan moved to follow her. Rory sighed and followed reluctantly, not wanting to do anything but talk to him. She felt like it was now or never.

Suddenly they were on a darkened stage, and she reached out for him in the shadows. "Tristan," she whispered. "I have to talk to you."

"Are you insane? This isn't the time."

"But I have to tell you," she pleaded until the lights came up. They began their lines, an obvious tension between them that hooked the onlookers. People were instantly drawn to the scene in a way that they hadn't been in the other high school productions.

She fought tears the whole time, thinking how ironic it was that they were doing the death scene at a time like this. Here their whole relationship was hanging in the balance and they were performing the most tragic love scene of all time.

"Thus with a kiss, I die," she heard his words, and now his face hovered over hers. She opened her eyes, and she could practically hear Paris' stroke, and as soon as she saw the trepidation and concern mirrored in his eyes, she closed hers again. He took his time, barely pressing his warm lips into hers at first, and then she felt his hand on her cheek. A tear slipped out of her closed eye, rolling towards his hand. He put a hand on her waist, squeezing gently before laying his head down on her chest, as choreographed, but she felt a nuzzle that wasn't. He was holding her to him, and the lights dimmed as another tear escaped her eyes. There was a thunderous applause, and the curtain came down.

He moved to look into her eyes, nodding softly. "We were supposed to get back to each other. We weren't supposed to be apart. It all went wrong," he said.

"I know," she nodded, not wanting to look away from him.

"There were things we couldn't control, too much. I just wanted to be with you," he said honestly. "That was all I ever wanted. It's what I want now."

"I can't bear to lose you again."

He kissed her softly. He stroked her hair with one hand. "I love you. I've never stopped."

"I love you, too."

He moved up from her chest after lingering there for a moment. She opened her eyes that now glistened from the buildup of extra moisture.

"Don't cry."

"I'm sorry. I didn't mean it, any of it. I was just," she began desperately.

"Shh, it's okay. You were frustrated, and I wouldn't quit," he helped her.

"No, it's not okay, Tristan, I just got scared, I," she gulped back a sob, hating that he was seeing her like this.

He silenced her with another kiss, this one not stage-worthy. It might have gotten them expelled, in fact. His open mouth met hers, soothing her worries and overriding the harsh words they'd exchanged.

"I need you with me. I got offered the job here in Boston. I want you to come with me."

She gasped slightly, not expecting to hear him say these things. "Are you serious?"

"I can't lose you again. I want you to come with me, move up here."

"Don't you want to think about this, what you're saying," she let out a breath, wanting to make sure they weren't out of their minds making huge decisions on a whim.

Only she knew it wasn't a whim. It was their lifeline, it was the only thing they'd found to be real.

"I want us to be the ones to decide."

She nodded, knowing in this instant that this is what she wanted. To be with him, out of New York. The Inn would be sold off to Sookie and Michel, as was right. The house given to Luke, so she would always be welcomed back. Her home was where ever he was now, and in her heart, it always had been.

"You'll come?"

"I want to be with you, wherever that is," she nodded again.

She'd barely gotten the words out as his lips crashed into hers yet again.

Lessons learned the hard way are always the most valuable, immeasurable in their wealth. Time is layered; it unravels easily, but is too interwoven to be permanently undone. That what should be will, and nothing truly felt in the heart can be dismissed or denied. There is no escape from the truth of true love. Pain dwells in those who try; freedom attained only by those who allow themselves to succumb.