Disclaimer: I do not own Gilmore Girls or any of the characters. Nor do I want to, Amy et. al. do a fine job with them. This is just a thought I had about something that could happen at Rory's 21st birthday party.

AN: I just made a couple changes to the formatting in order to make the story a bit easier to read.

Returning the Favour

Wandering around, Rory noted to herself how different this party was from the one Emily threw for her sixteenth birthday. No, it wasn't really different she supposed, it just felt that way. Looking around Rory couldn't help but realize how many of her grandmother's friends were now a part of her life as well. She wondered just when exactly she had started to fit in this world.

Locking eyes with her grandfather he smiled and called her over. Richard was talking to a friend and Rory surmised that he wanted to introduce them. As she approached the two men she couldn't help but notice the older man's eyes, there was just something about them that seemed so familiar.

"Rory, I'd like you to meet a friend of mine," Richard greeted her, "Rory, this is Janlan DuGrey, Janlan THIS is my granddaughter Rory." A little bell went off inside Rory's head, 'so that's how I know those eyes'.

"I've heard so many wonderful things about you Ms Gilmore. " Richard took this introduction as his cue to leave as he spotted a client wandering on the other side of the room.

"Oh please, it's Rory. And my grandfather is not altogether impartial I'm sure."

"Oh, but it's not all from Richard. On the subject of you it seems that my grandson holds a similar opinion."

"Tristan? How is he doing?" Janlan now had Rory's curiosity piqued, she hadn't thought about Tristan DuGrey in years.

"Oh, you know, he's doing well. He's matured a lost since the boy you probably remember. He's at Berkley now, I'm very proud of him…. Listen Rory, Tristan really wanted to be here himself to talk to you but he didn't have the opportunity, so he asked me to bring you this." Janlan handed Rory a beautifully wrapped box about the size of a small deck of cards. "And I had instructions to make sure I gave this to you myself so that you would know it was from him."

Rory accepted the gift with a bit of a puzzled expression. "Oh wow! Thank you, and be sure to thank Tristan for me too."

Rory, now more than just a little bit curious as to what could be so important about Tristan's gift that he asked his grandfather to see to it personally that she received it, stepped outside into the crisp fall air to open it. Carefully unwrapping the box, Rory wondered why, after all these years, did Tristan suddenly decide to contact her like this. Inside the box she found a letter wrapped around a beautiful antique compass.

----

Mary,

I suppose you are wondering why I am writing this to you. It is not out of longing, soul searching, regret, or even pity, but out of concern for you. Through the rumour mill that is Hartford society, I heard about your plunge into the world of crime, and your unwillingness to return to school. I must say that when I first heard I could not believe it. It sounded so unlike the Mary I once knew and I began to wonder what happened to her. Now, I'm not going to yell at you or berate you or even blame you for anything, I just want to help in the only way I know how. You were once a really good friend to me, you may not have realised it at the time but you showed more concern and kindness towards me than I deserved. When you saw me heading down a path that was not me, one that was getting me into a lot of trouble, you tried to help. You tried to show me that Duncan and Bowman were not good for me; sure I didn't listen to you, just as you may not listen to me. But at least you tried, and that is something I will never forget. Even after I didn't listen to you, you still tried to help me when I came to say goodbye at the play. You also told me something that I am going to reiterate to you 'Stupid!' I understand making mistakes, and I don't have to tell you how many stupid ones I've made, and you didn't even see them all. I just want you to know that what has happened was a mistake, a stupid mistake, but a mistake none the less and you don't have to let it define you or the choices you make for yourself.

Now, I know you love school, I could see it, and the drive, in your eyes. Hell we all could, why do you think Paris took so much offence to you so quickly? I feel like you needed a reminder, not a judgemental voice from the present, the world in which you live, but a gentle nudging from the past about the girl you were, still are, and will always be.

I want you to take this occasion, your birthday, to reflect upon the past year and to think about the future. This compass is my gift to you; hopefully you will be able to find your way back to yourself.

I wish you all the best,

T. DuGrey

-----

Inside the party Logan had been wandering around looking for Rory for quite some time before he spotted her sitting outside on a bench. As he got closer to her Rory looked up and Logan was surprised to find soft tears running down her cheeks. "Hey Ace" he sat down beside her, "What's wrong? I know turning 21 seems like a big deal, but really it just means you can now drink without anyone getting into a huff about it."

Rory turned to Logan, tears flowing a little harder, "Logan, What am I doing? How did I get so lost?" Crumpling into his shoulder Rory's tears turn into sobs as Logan pulls her closer, rocking her back and forth and whispering "Shhh, it'll all be okay, everything will work out just fine" over and over until Rory cried herself to sleep.