I'm not sorry for what I did, and made occur in this chapter. It wasn't originally planned in the beginning, but it's what I feel should have happened. I regret making every single one of you all for waiting so long for this to be finished, but as I must admit, my real life comes before anything else. Thank you for being so patient with me, and for your kind words and continuous support for this story. If you dislike this chapter, hate it even, then I'm sorry I made you wait this long.
Disclaimer: I don't own Gilmore Girls.
Somewhere in the back of his mind, he came to the realization that this wasn't right. That this wasn't at all possible. Somewhere, deep in the recesses of the thoughts that had so long been repressed, he knew that there was something wrong the moment he heard that dry sob escape her lips.
Destruction. It was the first thing that managed to claw its way through the spongy fog that blanketed his brain. He would destroy whatever –whoever- had made this girl make that noise.
Momentarily he wondered if he was the cause.
Hearing that sound again made him feel like he was reborn. Reborn into something much more adult, satisfactory even.
"Hey," he breathed, bending low to the crying girl in the corner of the library, "are you alright? What's wrong?" He felt more mature in that moment, than any other previous moment in his young life.
She held her cell phone in her delicate hands as if it was holding her to the life that was trying to slip away from her. "I need to go to the hospital." She responded, a tear dropping to her open history book, smudging the ink as it soaked in. "I have to go…" she broke off, another sob escaping her mouth.
"I can bring you." He said easily, gathering her textbooks and bag into his arms, "come on, Mary."
Another sob hit her, and he felt his heart pang solemnly in his chest. "Why are… you being so nice… to me?" she broke out slowly, as she took his hand to help her off the floor.
He gave her a sad smile, and swung her bag over his shoulder, books hooked under one arm, and the other around her shoulders, "'Cos you need it." He was silent for a moment as they continued their journey through the hallway, "And… because I've been terrible to you these past few weeks."
Silent tears cascaded freely down the apples of her cheeks and into the crevices of her lips, securing the salty tang on her tongue. "Thank you," she said so quietly, he didn't even think he had hear her correctly.
The moment Tristan's car was placed into park in the parking garage, Rory Gilmore was rushing open the door, and slamming it closed, leaving a flash of plaid as she hurried through the lot. She had to know what was wrong, what was happening. Not knowing was killing her on the inside.
"Mary, wait!" the beep of his car locking echoed through the cavernous garage.
Tristan DuGrey quickened his run to catch up with the weepy brunette. She was quick for someone so tiny.
Even though they were running at a frantic pace, their surroundings seemed to pass so slowly – ladies and gentlemen in wheel chairs with defibrillators hooked up to them gawked, nurses yelled after them telling them to slow down, visitors quickly cleared space for them to run even faster.
"Christopher Hayden!" Rory gasped as she came to a stop at the reception desk, her chest heaving, and her hands clutching the counter top like it was her only lifeline.
"One moment," came the bored receptionist, who began virtually thumbing through the patient database on the computer. "ER. Waiting room is up three floors, to the left. Have a nice day."
Pausing momentarily to stare in disbelief at her blasé attitude towards Rory, Tristan ran after her, barely making it into the same elevator. The clicking of Rory pressing the buttons repeatedly, and forcefully echoed in the tiny room, the lull of the music barely grazing their eardrums.
"Come on, come on, come on," she breathed, forcing her index finger onto the button and holding it there, "why are you taking so long? Come on!"
"Hey," Tristan said softly, grabbing Rory's wrists and holding it gently in his hand, "just breathe."
"I can't breathe Tristan! I can't! There's something wrong with my dad! And I don't know what! God could this go any slower?" She screamed, slamming her hand into the cool, scratched metal of the elevator.
Tristan momentarily frowned as Rory broke away from the hold he had on her wrists, and brought his hand, hesitantly to her shoulder. "Mary," he spoke lower this time, his grip tightening and bringing her to him, "Mary, Mary, Mary," he repeated under his breath, wrapping his arms around the tiny, hysterical brunette. He immediately felt warm tears being absorbed by the cotton of his uniform shirt, "It'll be okay. I promise it'll be okay."
Rory quaked with a sob, burying her face further into Tristan's chest, "I hope so."
The ding of the elevator brought them out of their embrace. Rory rushed from the metal box quicker than Tristan had time to realize what was now happening. In his haste to dash after her, he tripped over the metal threshold and stumbled into the wall covered in buttons just as the door was closing. Regaining his balance, he just missed his opening to stop the closure of the door and was enclosed, alone in the elevator.
"Shit!" He yelled, smashing the palm of his hand into the metal of the door. "Shit, shit, shit!"
If possible, the elevator seemed to slow its movement due to Tristan's displeasure at being left in there. Tristan decided that whenever the elevator finally reached its destination, he'd dash out and use the stairs to get to Rory and her father.
As if on cue, the elevator dinged, and the robotic doors opened like the gates of destiny.
Tristan flew out into the hospital hallway, glancing hurriedly at the floor number he was on (five) and the directions to the stairwell (left).
Rory felt like she was about to collapse.
She felt weak. She felt drained. Worst of all, she felt defeated. She hadn't made it in time.
"Rory," her mother whispered into her ear, encasing her daughter into her arms, pressing kisses upon kisses to her forehead. "I'm so sorry, baby. So sorry."
Rory breathed in her mother's scent, which furthered her distraught. She had just seen him. She had just hugged him goodbye. She had just told him not to ruin things with her mother this morning.
Vaguely, in the back of her mind, she wondered if she had picked up her index cards after she wrote her day's fact. It seemed like just after she had placed the cap on her pen, her mother had called her and asked her to catch a bus as quickly as possible to get to the hospital.
Distantly, she wondered why things happened the way they did.
"I'm here!" declared a slightly winded Tristan, "I got stuck in the elev…" he broke off as he saw Rory wrapped in her mother's arms, curling as closely as possible to the wonderfully eccentric woman who gave birth to her.
He knew. He knew at that moment that it wasn't all right –that he had spoken empty words, with a failed promise to the younger brunette in front of him.
"I got here as quickly as I could. Honestly Lorelai, you couldn't have sounded more rushed if you tried. Richard? Richard come, they're here in the waiting room." Emily Gilmore's voice brought Tristan from his reverie, and Rory to untangle herself from her mother's loving embrace.
The moment Tristan finally caught a good, long look at Rory's face, he felt a desperate need to hold her, to comfort her, to whisper promises to her that he was sure he would be able to keep.
In that lone, singular moment- Tristan DuGrey grew up.
"Mom, dad," Lorelai began, running her index fingers up her cheeks to smudged her eyeliner and mascara back onto her lower eyelids, "Christopher…" a dry sob destroyed her newly found calmness. "Christopher…."
"He died." Rory finished quietly for her mother, wrapping her arms around her torso. She avoided eye contact with her grandparents, finding solace in staring at the floor under her Mary Janes.
"Oh good Lord," Emily said disbelievingly, "Is that what your message was about Lorelai? You couldn't have said anything more than, "'Hartford Memorial- now!'?" She scolded her daughter, being it was the only thing that could make her feel better about losing a potential son-in-law, "Honestly! Richard," Emily said a bit less harshly, "Contact the lawyers and have them prepare a statement. I'll call Francine and Straub to let them know."
Richard nodded, at a loss for words, and pulled out his crisp, linen hanker-chief and handed it to his granddaughter. Hugging her closely for a moment, he kissed her on the forehead, and stepped out to retrieve a phone.
Tristan felt like he was intruding on the most private moment of Rory's, let alone her family's, life. He ruffled a hand through his flaxen hair, and took a step towards Rory.
"I'm so sorry," he said as low as he possibly could as not to startle her. "I should go." He said, taking another step closer, and running his hand over her forehead, and through the length of her soft, brunette hair, before brushing his soft lips in the middle of her forehead. "I'm sorry," he breathed again, ignoring the pang he felt high in his ribcage telling him to not over step his boundaries that had been established as of late.
Backing away, Tristan gave his condolences to Lorelai, closing his eyes against the harsh lighting of the ER waiting room. He wished that there were something he could do to ease the pain of these women.
He wanted to be told to stay so he could somehow placate this family in their time of need. He wanted to be needed.
But he knew the plea would not grace his ears.
The sunny Connecticut day was crisp. His collar was crisp. The crisp leaves crunched and moaned under his soles as he walked into the daunting cathedral that stood crisply out against the bright sky.
The ground wasn't so crisp. It was still soft, and moist enough for a funeral.
The hum in the cathedral fell unpleasantly upon his ears as he made his way towards a pew in the front. Networking, and catching up were not made for occurring at a funeral.
He slid easily onto a pew, and glanced solemnly at his mother, a short black veil covering her beautiful face. His father sat beside her, stoic and unmoving. He knew, had it not been such a sad occasion, that his father would scold him for nearly being late.
Tristan sat quietly through the priest's sermon, half-heartedly listening. His eyes were feasting upon Rory in her deep navy dress. How a girl could look so beautiful at such a tragic event in her life was beyond him.
The tears that rolled over her cheeks made his insides clench uncomfortably, and the trembling over her lower lip made him want to wrap his arms around here, and whisper things to soothe her.
How he could have ever treated this delicate woman so ludicrously was beyond his comprehension. This pain she was experiencing made him want to swear to protect her for the rest of his days.
So lost was he in his thoughts, he had hardly realized that he'd followed her with his eyes as she placed one foot in front of the other to step behind the podium. She was going to address the hundreds of mourners that had come to pay their last respects to a fallen member of their community.
Rory took a few moments to gather herself as she looked out into the crowd, salty droplets flooding her eyes and splashing over the floodgates.
"It is said that the good die young," she started slowly, her breathing unsteady, "Before this happened, I believed that that was just a song—that the good in this world were indestructible, with impenetrable forces barricading them from harm. But now, if you asked me, I'd tell you that it's true. The good die young, and my father is the only evidence you need.
"Christopher Hayden was the type of person who rarely makes an appearance in the world. He was genuine, and hotheaded, but completely, and woefully supportive. He was a guy that any person in the world would be lucky to have had as a father.
"He was dedicated to me. He was dedicated to my beautiful mother.
"He breathed a rejuvenated view into his life. He was reckless, adventurous, and loving. He wished to please, to placate, to soothe, to lead, to beat his own path through life. I consider myself lucky, blessed even, to be able to call this wonderful man my father." Rory took a long moment to compose herself. She was no longer able to look up from her wrinkle and tear stained scrap of notepaper. "My family and I thank each, and every one of you for coming here today, to offer your condolences and your support to us. It's greatly appreciated."
She slowly looked up from the shelf of her podium, and glanced amongst the audience of mourners. She was just glazing her eyes over faces randomly to make it seem like she was more composed and calm than she felt on the inside.
Until her eyes settled on his striking face, framed with flaxen hair, and she felt herself burst into a sob-all the pain, and agony of the last few days finally taking its toll on her tiny frame.
Appearances be damned, Rory stepped quickly down from the podium and returned to her seat and to her mothers thin arms embracing her.
He had never been to the Hayden mansion in the wealthiest of the Hartford suburbs, Avon. He was stricken with awe at the old Hollywood glamour that overwhelmed him as he rode in the back of his parents SUV up the twisted, and winding gated driveway.
The high, tamely growing shrubberies muffled the quiet gathering that was happening behind the stoic manor house.
Twisting his hands together, Tristan sighed glumly. Rory's words at the service had completely shattered whatever little resolve he had left to be slightly angered with her. He was unsure of how she would react to seeing him at the mourning soiree at her paternal grandparents' home. Before the day her father died, they were bitter, at each other's throats in such a juvenile way that he thought their relationship was irreparably broken.
But now that something so life shattering, altering and tragic occurred, he was above it. He no longer felt the need to torture this poor girl, whether it was because he suddenly felt like a freshly minted adult, or because she was going through a horrific phase in her life, he just wanted to help her adjust.
He stretched his legs once he stepped out of the SUV, and opened the door for his gracious mother. Closing both doors, and allowing himself a sweeping once over, he followed his parents down the declining stone pathway that wrapped around the home.
White tents swept across the plateau of the lawn, before ending in front of the guesthouse beside the pool. The gardens were manicured to the premier extremes, and the patio furniture gleamed freshly in the sunlight.
The air was still crisp, warm with a chill from the breeze that billowed the tent tops and ladies' hair. The seas of deep blues, blacks and greens almost gave a pleasant effect if not for the blanket of mourning in the atmosphere.
Tristan's slate eyes scanned the crowd , recognizing family friends, and his father's business associates, looking for the only person he wished to speak to. Nodding his head towards his parents in departure, he took the steps mildly quickly and disappeared into the crowd.
The bed was soft; the comforter fluffy and colorless like a cloud. Momentarily she thought she could live and die on this bed.
Die. Died. Dead. Deceased.
A heart-wrenching sob escaped her lips. Death. It was so final, so concrete and yet so unfathomable that she couldn't help but wait to hear the sound of his voice coaxing her out of her reverie.
Resting on her elbows she took the time to slowly take in the room she was currently hiding in. She'd never been inside her father's childhood home, nevertheless his bedroom. Briefly she wondered if she should even be inside.
Her father's parents detested her. They blamed her for all of her father's mishaps and failures.
Closing her eyes, she fought valiantly against the salty tears that just wished to be free.
Standing, she crossed to the large windows covered by ivory chiffon draperies. Pushing them aside, her eyes took in the large landscape, firstly covered by guests and tents, then by trees. Breathing heavily, she watched her breath fog the cold windowpane.
She missed her father tremendously already and it had only been a few days. A few desolate, miserable days. These were the first few moments where she had a moment to herself, to think things over, to try and come to terms with it.
Frowning, Rory glanced over her shoulder towards the door. "Come in," she murmured. Not waiting to see who entered the room, she turned her attention back to the window, allowing the drapes close partially over her.
The door snapped closed, and the carpeting muffled the sounds of footsteps as her company crossed the room. The musky smell of his cologne is what she recognized first, the tan smooth skin of his hands grasping against the window frame, the second.
"I saw you through the window," he said, answering the unasked question that hung loosely in the air.
He looked directly ahead through the window after pushing aside the chiffon, and gave a start to say something before it fluttered, and died inside his mouth. He wanted to express his condolences without sounding like a shattered record.
"How're you holding up?" he asked her softly, not once removing his sight from the scenery on the opposite side of the glass.
Instantaneously Rory felt her eyes water so much, tears threatened to once more awash her makeup-less face. She could sit solemnly, and alone and think of her father without the constant fear of crying, but once she was in the company of another soul, she couldn't help but feel the urge to weep.
Rubbing at the tears that made her eyes shine, she sniffled, and took a deep breath. "I told him not to ruin things."
Momentarily unsettled by this response, Tristan thought slowly of something appropriate to say. "Ruin what things?"
"He came back," she said quietly, "to fix things with my mom. I told him not to mess anything up…." She broke off, her fingers tracing lines through the fog her breath was making on the glass, "I didn't even tell him I loved him." She bemoaned, a fresh batch of tears cascading over her cheeks.
Tristan let out a heavy breath, and with a heavy heart, he pulled this sobbing girl into his chest, and ran his fingers through her hair in what he hoped to be a soothing, placating motion. "He knew you loved him, Mary," he said, beseeching the urge to call her his name for her, trying to bring childhood innocence into the moment. "You don't need to speak the words to let someone know you love them." He whispered lowly into her ear, continuing the stroking motion through her hair with his fingertips.
Letting out another quaking sob, she fisted the crisp fabric of his shirt underneath his navy blazer. "I know," she sighed.
Another knock, and the muffled calling of Rory's name before the door opened a peak, and Lorelai's head poked through. "There you are," she said, stepping fully into the room. "I've been looking all over for you." She politely acknowledged Tristan with a bow of her head. "How're you feeling?"
Rory pulled away from Tristan's embraced, and rubbed endlessly at the tears that just would not cease, "I'm okay," she said, not meeting her mother's eyes. "Just tired."
Smoothing her daughter's hair back from her forehead, Lorelai sighed softly, "I know sweetheart." Glancing around the bright room, a small smile graced her features, "This is the room your father made a dishonest woman of me in." She declared, a small laugh escaping her lips.
Immediately repulsed by the vision of her parents fornicating, Rory gagged, "Mom! Really?" Shaking the disgust off her, she tried to immediately forget how comfortable her father's adolescent bed was.
Wiggling her eyebrows, Lorelai was pleased that the tense, depressed atmosphere was sufficiently broken. "Why are you kids up here?"
"I just wanted to get away," Rory told her, "everyone down there just kept looking at me like I was going to break into a million tiny pieces at any moment."
"I saw her through the window."
Lorelai nodded, and threaded her fingers through her daughter's, "We should get back downstairs before Straub or Francine come looking for you."
Rory followed her mother's lead and stepped across the lush carpeting, glancing over her shoulder to meet Tristan's eyes. 'Thank you' she mouthed to him, a small smile gracing her face before she vanished from view.
-- He has a heart.
Day Ten's Fact:
· She has a way with words even in the throws of despair.
"I expect you all have completed your project," Mr. Ferris said the moment the 'bring' of the period bell silenced. The class mumbled their acquiesce, and he moved away from his desk to the front of the room. "Have you all learned about your subject in the past few days?" Nods, and mumblings of yes greeted his ears.
Charles Ferris was not an ignorant man. If anything, he was highly intelligent and observant. He had noticed from the very beginning of the school year the animosity between some of his students and others. His project was not, mostly, for the grades or the class filler; it was so his students could learn that the package that greets your eyes on the outside, is not always necessarily as the gift on the inside, a throwback to 'do not judge a book by its cover'.
"Good," he said, "then I'd like you to give your index cards to the peer you observed."
He sensed the tense, anxious environment that blanketed over his classroom almost as immediately as his words came from his mouth. Uncertainty, and fear laced the expressions on the twelfth graders faces.
Slowly, and very gradually, Rory Gilmore rose from her seat. Charles Ferris was gracious, envious of her ability to pioneer this occurrence, to even come back to school two days after her father was buried.
"Thank you, Miss Gilmore," he said, supporting her movement.
All eyes were on Rory Gilmore as she slowly stepped away from her seat. It was quiet—unnervingly quiet—so quiet one could have heard a pin drop should it occur.
She produced her cards from her pocket as she took a step, "I had Tristan," she said softly as she held her hand out in Tristan's direction, her eyes not looking anywhere but at her Mary Jane's. She felt him pull the cards from her hands, and just as she went to lower her arm, she felt another set of cards replace it.
"I had Rory," he mumbled, staring into her face, just short of bursting out and demanding she meet his eyes.
Startled, Rory did just that, before they fluttered to the cards with her name on the topmost one. "You did?"
He nodded, "I did."
Smiling softly, Rory returned to her desk, and sat down just as the hustle and noise of chairs being scraped away from other desks greeted her ears. Everyone else was talking to the people they observed, and seemingly it went in pairs. Observers' had their observants' cards.
44-30-16, she spun in her combination with practiced ease. Rory distantly thought of the index cards that were residing in her blazer pocket. She hadn't had the nerve to look through them yet. She wanted to wait until she was in the safe confines of her home, or even for a few days until she did.
"Hey," came a soft voice, as a body leaned casually against a neighboring locker. "Do you need a ride home?"
Rory glanced up, and smiled softly, "No, I don't need one," she told him, watching the corners of his mouth turn somewhat into a frown. "But I'd like one."
Smiling, Tristan nodded, and twirled his keys around his index finger, "Anything for you, Mary."