AN: I'm sorry it's taken to long to post this chapter. There's no excuse. Really. Except life getting in the way. Regardless, here is the FINAL chapter of this story. I hope you've all enjoyed it. Let me know what you think!!
Chapter 33: The Final Piece of the Puzzle
Lorelai had stayed at Oxford for the rest of the week. She and Rory worked on building their relationship back to where it once was; it was a slow process but it was working. As was normally the case, the craziness of Lorelai helped her fit in with all of Rory's friends. And all 14 of them were pleasantly surprised at the "new" version of Rory that seemed to appear after she and Lorelai made up.
"So this is what you had been talking about?" Katie asked Tristan one afternoon when they were hanging out in her dorm.
"Excuse me?" Katie's question had come out of nowhere and Tristan was lost on what exactly she was talking about. "We all weren't privy to your internal monologue."
She glared at him before answering. "About Rory. She's changed every since her mother was here; this is why you are so head over heels about her."
"I loved her even when she wasn't like this," he reminded his friend. "But this is part of why I wanted them to make up. Rory isn't herself without her mother in her life. She's wonderful either way but I know she's happier this way."
"Listen to you being all in love," Abby teased. "Before we know it you'll be picking out a ring." Tristan looked down at his hands and everyone gasped. "You have a RING?"
"Kind of. My grandmother gave it to me over Thanksgiving. She told me that even if the relationship was brand new she knew that I had been waiting for Rory since I was 16 and there was no way I would let her go. Rory's it for me, my grandmother knew that, and she handed over the engagement ring my grandfather gave her. Her original ring; so it's not too flashy, just flashy enough."
"How flashy is not too flashy?" Ella asked knowing exactly what kind of ring his grandmother would have.
"This one's almost two carats and I believe when last appraised valued at close to 1.5 million."
"Are you kidding me?" Carter's eyes widened. While he knew Tristan's family had money he never knew just how much.
"Nope. But please don't say anything to her. I'm not proposing now; the ring is in a vault in London. I don't want to freak her out."
"You'd be surprised at how un-freaked out she'd be," Ella mentioned.
"Excuse me?" Tristan looked at the girl intensely.
"I'm not saying you should go off and propose now or anything, by any means, I'm just saying that Rory's decided you're the one. If you gave her any kind of promise ring or anything like that she would love it. She doesn't expect it but she's decided on you as well."
"Thanks for telling me," Tristan said although he wasn't quite sure how that piece of information made him feel. On one hand he was happy Rory felt that way about him but on the other hand knowing she had decided on him made him nervous. What if he wasn't good enough for her?
"Stop thinking you're not good enough. This is Rory Gilmore, if you weren't good enough she wouldn't be bothering with you," Carter told his friend, knowing what he was thinking.
"Has she decided about next year?" Tim asked. The gang would part for the summer when the term was over but everyone, including Ella, was coming to back for their final year.
"She hasn't said anything to me yet," Tristan told them before looking at Ella. "Did she say anything to you?" He figured they would be living together again if Rory decided to come back to Oxford to graduate.
"She hasn't…but that's actually something we wanted to talk to you about…or should I say Carter wanted to talk to you about," Ella said slowly.
"What's going on?" Tristan looked at his friend who was looking at his girlfriend with daggers in his eyes.
"About next year…well…while rooming together has been great…" Carter was obviously nervous about telling Tristan this.
"You're moving in with Ella?" Tristan finished for him with his trademark smirk in place. "That's great! I'd want to live with Rory if she was coming back too. And if she chooses not to I'll live by myself. It'll probably be the last time I would get to for the rest of my life." Tristan stopped at the end of his sentence realizing the finality of what he was saying. Assuming that Rory didn't come back to graduate form Oxford he would live by himself until he moved back to America where they could live together. If that wasn't final then what was?
"You've got it bad," Jasper pointed out.
"Who's got it bad?" Addison asked entering the girl's room with Eli and Lucy.
"Where is everyone else?" Jasper asked, having expected the whole Michigan crew to show up as well.
"They're listening to Rory have some ridiculous conversation with Lorelai. Or at least I think it's Lorelai, I don't know who else she would talk to like that."
"Her grandmother if she really wanted to get on her nerves, which is possible depending on what Emily is up to; she's quite the schemer." And while Emily loved that Rory and Tristan were dating she was starting to plan a wedding that hadn't been formally announced and it was driving everyone crazy.
As if she knew they were talking about her, Rory entered the room a moment later with the rest of the gang and an annoyed look on her face. "No Grandma, I cannot come home any sooner then my plane ticket. I don't care if you'll buy me a new one; I'm not coming back for some ridiculous D.A.R. event!" Rory listened to her grandmother's response before sighing and continuing with her argument. "No, no and no! I don't care if the ladies miss me, they shouldn't! I was never formally inducted. I went to a few events because you asked and I'm not rearranging my plans so I can show up to some ridiculous fundraiser!" Once again Emily must be putting up a counter argument but Rory would hear none of that. "I don't care Grandma. I have finals and a life here that I need to deal with. I know that the money is going to a good cause but that doesn't mean I'm coming home early so you can parade me around in front of your friends!" Rory practically growled the last part out. "Yes Grandma, I know that being nominated as a Rhodes Scholar is impressive but that doesn't mean I'm going to become a dog and pony show for you and your friends! AH!" She screamed into the phone obviously annoyed with her grandmother. "Is Grandpa there?" She asked, knowing she'd get further in the conversation with her grandfather. "Thank you! Hi Grandpa, how are you? That's good. Yes, I know, Grandma's been trying to get me home early so she can parade me around to all of her friends. You understand? Thank you! Let's go to The Club when I get home okay? I'll rip up some grass and get the gossip while I take a steam?" The smile was wide across her face as she remembered the first time she went with her grandfather to their club. It was an experience and she still wore the hat her grandmother gave her every time she went. "Okay, I'll see you in a couple of weeks. I love you too. Thanks Grandpa!" She hung up the phone and sighed while leaning back against the couch. "My grandmother can be very frustrating!" She announced to the group.
"You've been nominated as a Rhodes Scholar?" Eli asked thinking of that piece of information above anything else.
Rory blushed. "Yes. And because of that my grandmother thinks she should parade me around to all of her friends. It's ridiculous. Thank goodness for my grandfather."
"Were you going to tell us?" Tim asked.
"That my grandmother was insane? I thought you all knew that," she teased them. "Of course I was going to say something!"
"Congratulations! That's amazing!" Tristan hugged her and kissed her soundly. "When do you find out?"
"Sometime in the middle of next year I think," she told him. "I'm fuzzy on the details. I just found out about the nomination. A letter came in the mail."
"Thanks guys. And it seems I have something else to announce as well." They all looked at her strangely and Rory laughed. "I seem to remember you all bothering me about what I was going to do come fall," she told them.
"Right! Have you made a decision?"
Tristan scoffed. "A decision? Well only if she's made about 100 pro-con lists and discussed every single line item with her mother."
"And I'll have you know that's exactly what I did! That's why the decision took so long!" They all laughed at her. "And it wasn't 100 pro-con lists it was two! So there!" She stuck her tongue out at him and he just laughed.
"So come on, don't keep us in suspense here! Where are you going next year?" Abby asked, very curious.
"Well after careful consideration I've decided my diploma should come from Oxford." Rory said it very quickly as if she expected a bad reaction.
"Really?" They were all screaming and excited, obviously happy that she would be sticking around for another year,
She nodded with a huge grin on her face. "Really, really."
"Come on! We need to celebrate!" Eli grabbed her hand and pulled her up from the table and towards the door.
"Slow down! Slow down! I don't run!"
"Blah, blah, stop giving me that, we need to celebrate!"
"Are we at least bringing the others along?" Rory asked, not knowing if they were following."
"We're right behind you Rory," Addison called out.
"Thank god! Your best friend is crazy!"
"Don't I know it!" He had matched their pace by now.
"He was sitting on the couch shocked for a moment or two but he's coming. I think he wants to celebrate privately tonight," Addison told her with a wink.
"Dirty!" Rory exclaimed, a huge smile on her face. "What are we having?" Eli shoved her on a bar stool and called over the bartender. They quickly downed two shots before the others showed up.
"Okay, enough, I'd like her not to be hung over tomorrow."
"My hero," Rory cried dramatically, causing them all to laugh.
"Well I certainly do try Mary." Tristan helped her off the barstool and over to the table where the others were congregated. "I'm glad you're coming back next year," he told her as they sat down.
Rory beamed at him. "Me too. Mom will be visiting a lot more though. And I'll have to go back to Stars Hollow more often." Money wasn't an issue for her; she knew her grandparents would work it out for her.
"I'll go with you then," he decided. "If that's okay." He realized he had just invited himself and felt bad.
"You're always welcome. I'm happy you want to come visit my crazy town."
"It made you who you are today," he told her seriously.
Rory laughed. "I'm going to take that as a compliment. "
"You're going back there this summer, aren't you?" Lucy asked.
"Yup. I'm excited!" She clapped her hands together like a little kid.
"Can we all come visit?" Lucy motioned to the group around her, the Michigan crew, who were all nodding their heads in agreement. They wanted to see the infamous Stars Hollow up close.
"Of course! There's room for you at The Dragonfly and I'll make sure it's over a festival weekend. Those are the most fun."
"We want to visit too!" Abby demanded.
"Really?" Rory didn't see them as the crowd that would want to come to some little town in America. Besides, she still didn't think they liked her that much.
"It would be fun," Tim insisted.
"I'm going to visit Ella this summer anyway," Carter told her, "you're not that far from Boston, right?"
"Right," Rory agreed. "Besides my Dad lives there so I can come up there as well."
"What about me?" Tristan said with a pout. "Everyone wants to visit Mary but no one wants to see me!"
"Oh please, wherever she is you'll be. We're not worried about seeing you."
"I see how it is." He continued to pout like a five year old.
"Do you want us to come see your house and meet your family?" Carter teased.
"No!" He said immediately. "Well everyone but my dad is okay, I don't know if I can arrange that thought. We'll see."
"I don't think I would want to meet him anyway," Belle informed him. "He scares me."
"That's his main goal in life," Tristan told them, "to scare people."
"But you can't let him," Rory told them. "Just stand up to him and watch the steam come out of his ears. It's fun!"
Tristan scoffed. "How would you know? You've yet to stand up to my father."
"Just wait my dear, just wait." She patted his cheek affectionately and everyone around them laughed. The evening was off to a terrific success.
They were on the plane back to America. Tristan had convinced Rory to let him pay for first class tickets so they were comfortable for the long flight into Boston. From there they were driving back to Connecticut; somehow convincing Lorelai not to meet them at the airport. Rory still didn't know how Tristan convinced her mother of that and really it made her sad. She loved meeting her mom at the airport and causing a scene. The plane had leveled off and Rory had her eyes closed letting herself calm down from the slight fear of flying that she had and letting herself loosen her grip on Tristan's hand. "I'm sorry," she mumbled to him.
Tristan just laughed. "Don't worry about it Mary. Now when I can't do my work properly I have a good excuse."
She glared at him. "Oh no you don't, let's not give your father another reason to dislike me, shall we?"
"Well it's a good thing I work for my grandfather isn't it Mary? This way he'll yell at me for not being stronger for my woman."
Rory laughed. "I knew I liked your grandfather."
He shook his head. "You have him wrapped around your finger and you know it."
"I know!" Rory was pleased with herself over it as well. Even if his father didn't like her at least the rest of his family did.
"There's something I want to ask you," he said seriously, breaking the teasing mood between them.
"Okay…" The sound of his voice and the abrupt change in conversation worried her.
"I don't really know how to say this. I've been thinking about it for a few weeks now but I just couldn't come up with anything. And of course I'm nervous about what you'll say but it seems that this is my last chance before the chaos of being home surrounds us. So I'm going to ask you now."
Rory stared at Tristan. She'd never heard him ramble like this before; he must have picked up a few things from her over the year. "What's going on? You're making me nervous."
"Sorry, I don't mean to, it's just that I'm nervous myself."
"Nervous about what?" She was completely lost.
"What you're going to say. How you'll answer my questions."
"Well you won't know until you ask, now will you?" She smirked at him and Tristan glared. She was getting so good at replicating his smirk that he was beginning to understand why people hated to see it cross his countenance.
"Okay, here it goes." Tristan took a deep breath and began again. "Since you'll be coming back to school at Oxford next year…and well…Ella and Carter are moving in together next year, did you know that?"
Rory nodded. "Yeah, Ella told me the night that he asked her. She was so excited. I'm so happy that they've gotten past her mother's insecurities."
"Me too." And he was. "But sine they're moving in together you don't have a roommate and well…I was hoping that I could take her place. I mean. What if...Rory, do you want to live with me next year?" He looked at her unsure of what her answer would be.
"Are you sure?" Rory stared at him, unable to believe that he actually wanted to live with her. Yes, they had discussed the future before, but never seriously. Just in a basic way assuming that they were still together, but life could be funny sometimes. Things don't always work out the way you plan them.
"Of course I am! I would love to live with you. After all, if you decided to go back to Yale we'd be living together once we graduated and I came back to America."
"We would be?" Rory asked, shocked that he had really worked this out in his head.
"Oh, um…" Tristan realized he said too much. "Well I wasn't planning for an ocean to break us up and…"
Rory grinned at him. "Don't worry Tris, I know what you're saying and yes! I would love to live with you next year. I think it'll be good for us. Our relationship will move in the direction we've been talking about." She leaned over and kissed him soundly. "If only we weren't on a plane right now."
"Really?" He raised his brows at her. "We can still do stuff you know…I've yet to become a member of the mile high club and who better to be inducted with then my very own gorgeous girlfriend."
Rory glared at him and slapped his arm. "Tristan! Seriously! Besides, wasn't there something else you wanted to ask me?" She was trying desperately to make her red cheeks calm down and her mind to stop thinking about his suggestion.
"Don't deny you're not thinking about it, you are, I can tell," he teased her. Tristan knew she'd never go for it but he loved how wired up she was about it. She liked the idea but was too shy to go through with it. It made him feel good to know she wanted him that much.
"You had another question," she prompted him wanting to get off the topic of having sex with Tristan in an airplane bathroom.
"Yes, I did." Knowing that she wanted to move in with him helped him relax over this question, of course he could have done it the other way around but it didn't work out that way for him. "Rory, will you…" He reached into his carryon bag and pulled something out. Opening the ring box he showed it to her. "Now don't get any ideas," Tristan tried to reassure her, "I'm not proposing. But I would like for everyone to know that you're taken. It's a promise ring," he explained. Rory just stared at him. "You can wear it on whatever finger you want, but I wanted to make this promise to you and…" Tristan didn't get chance to finish his sentence before Rory attached her lips to his. "Are you sure you don't want to join that club Mary? You seem to be quite frisky this afternoon."
Rory slapped him playfully, blushing at his word. "You're the perfect man, you know that?"
"I'm not perfect Mary."
"You are in my eyes," she said seriously.
"So I take it you like the ring?" He teased her.
"I'd think you were perfect even if there wasn't a ring."
"I know that babe," he smirked at her, "but what do you think of the ring?"
She looked down at the ring, noticing that it was probably a platinum band because he'd want her to have only the best no matter how much she insisted white gold was just fine with a beautiful sapphire in the center. Nothing too big or flashy but enough to make a statement to anyone looking at her hand; even by wearing it on her right hand it was a ring that shouted she was taken. "It's beautiful. I would say it's too much but you would just scoff and blow me off."
"You're right. This is nothing compared to what I wanted to get you."
"I can only imagine." Little blonde rich boys just loved to spend money—on her no doubt—and while that was certainly nice she hated when they spent money like that on her.
"So?" Tristan looked at her impatiently wanting a formal answer to his slightly informal question.
"I would be honored to wear the ring," she told him softly, a smile playing on her lips.
"Good!" Tristan grinned as he took the ring out of the box and stared at her. "What finger?" He didn't know where she'd be comfortable wearing it. After thinking it over for a moment Rory held out her right hand and wiggled her ring finger. He slid the ring on her finger and smiled at the perfect fit. "It fits," he said happily.
It didn't surprise Rory at all. After the way they had come together this year it was only natural that he would pick out a ring that fit her perfectly. With a broad smile on her face she leaned over and kissed him again. "Now about that mile high club…" And all the other passengers could hear for the rest of the flight was her laughter as Tristan sat stunned by her insinuation.