Acceptance, Chapter Six

By scarlet (superscar)

The telephones poles flew by as Tristan's father took out his frustration on the road.

"Why do you make this harder for everyone?"

Tristan ignored him.

"You think this is going to put you on her family's good side? You're embarrassing all of us!"

"In front of who, the ER staff? Who cares?"

It was John's turn to ignore his son. "I'm not going to continue to pay a fortune for you to ruin your life at every stage."

"Right, so you said."

There was a loud screech and Tristan's stomach hurled forward while the rest of his body was held back with the seatbelt.

"Then I won't need to say this again," his father warned. "I've had it. Anything you else you do to disrupt this family, you'll be living in that car. Are we clear?"

Tristan turned back to look out the window again. If all went well, hopefully he'd have a new family to worry about. "Crystal."

XXX

"I wonder how long it will be before Emily starts planning your wedding," Lorelai broke the silence after five minutes. A Gilmore record.

"God." Rory buried her face in her hands. "This is such a nightmare."

"Only if you hate doves, cause if I know my mom? There'll be doves a plenty."

"I can't get married, that's crazy! They have to know that's crazy."

Lorelai laughed. "I doubt they'll accept that premise, but good luck trying to convince them. They still want me to marry Christopher."

"Well, that, I'd be fine with."

"Oh, I see. Now you desert me. When your child starts bugging you to marry Tristan, just remember this moment, cause you'll get no help from me!"

"Mommy, help." Rory lay her head on Lorelai's shoulder. "I don't want to marry Tristan!"

"Ohhh, you fight dirty."

XXX

Despite the slow process of pregnancy, the awareness that she could no longer hide her status with massive clothing and strategically located potted plants hit Rory suddenly.

"Mom!"

"What, what…" Lorelai came through Rory's bedroom door to find Rory at the mirror. "Oh, yeah, not a good shirt for you anymore." She went immediately to the closet.

"There aren't any more!"

"Aren't any more what?"

"Shirts! THIS is the loosest shirt I own!" Any and all putting off was finished. Miss Patty would tell anyone who didn't find out from Babette, so Luke would know. Dean would know. The tunnels were closing in around her. "Mom, what do I-"

Lorelai was already on the phone and held a hand for silence, "Yes, hi, this is Lorelai Gilmore, Rory's mom? She's not feeling well and I'm keeping her home today. Thank you, I'll let her know." She hung up. "Connie in the office hopes you'll feel better."

"But I'm not sick!"

"You're out of clothes, that's even worse. Chop chop, we're power shopping."

XXX

"What do you mean, sick?" Tristan demanded as he cornered Paris at her locker.

She was in no mood to deal with his tantrum. "I mean her mom called her out. It happens. Well, not to me."

Tristan pulled out a cell phone that definitely wasn't allowed in school. "Keep look out."

It was like sixth grade all over again, but Paris kept an eye out as she glanced through her notes for the next period.

"Rory, hey!" Tristan shifted back and forth nervously as he spoke with her. Sap. "It's Tristan. I heard you were sick, are you feeling okay? Did you need me to get you anything?"

"Maybe some breathing room?" Paris suggested.

Tristan plugged his free ear, ignoring her. "Oh. Yeah. That's great." He leaned back against the lockers, relieved. "No problem, have a good time. Oh, hey, Mary, get something tight up top…hello?" He turned to Paris, smiling. "She hung up on me."

"Epic romance." Paris shut her locker.

"Hey, can I borrow your notes for English?"

"Take your own."

"No, for Rory." He tagged after Paris as she stomped down the hallway toward her next class.

Tristan had never been one for catching hints. "If she was brain-dead enough to ask for your notes, she deserves what she gets." Paris tried to escape him.

"She didn't ask for mine, she asked for yours. Make my life easier? Pretty please?"

Paris stopped, calculating. "Why's she out?"

"Ran out of clothes, had to shop."

"Oh." Paris smiled. "Sure, she can have them."

"You're not willing to improve my life, but the clothing thing makes you feel for her?"

"Hardly. But no one skipping school to shop is going to compete with my GPA. Thanks, by the way, for knocking up the competition."

Tristan shrugged. "Glad you found silver lining."

XXX

"I can't decide which is worse."

"They're maternity clothes, Ror, nothing's winning a fashion contest."

"No, I mean with Dean."

Lorelai glanced from the blouse to the shirt. "Can't say I see him in either."

"Mom! Can you be serious? The second Babette gets wind of the waddle, he'll find out. But maybe that's better? They I can just avoid him and someone else can rip his heart out?"

"Your choice." Lorelai held a nursing bra up to her chest and grimaced.

"But you think it's cowardly. I should just call him, tell him in person and give him the opportunity to storm out. Oh, oh! OR, I could send a letter!"

"Rory-"

"I know, you're right. I'll call him."

"Ror?" Lorelai tried to get her attention. "Is that a yes or no on the skirt?"

"Oh." Rory really looked at herself in the mirror for the first time. "I don't know. Does it make me look fat?"

XXX

It was astonishing the shopping bags that could fit into a car if one knew how to pack it. "This is going to take forever to unload," Rory whined.

"Oh, I know," Lorelai suggested as they pulled into the driveway. "We can call Tristan! Load him up like a donkey. Or ass, if you prefer."

Rory smiled. "He's actually been really cool lately. Incredibly so, about the baby. I was shocked."

"Even more reason for him to help out, it'll make him feel useful." Lorelai was getting into the idea.

"Too bad he's in school like every other person my age."

"So we'd be rescuing him, is what you're saying."

"Mom, we'll be fine." She grabbed a few bags on the way out of the car, not even stopping to wonder how Lorelai had turned the argument around on her.

"Lorelai, Rory!"

Rory recognized the voice immediately and every muscle in her body tensed. Her eyes met her mothers, filled with helpless sympathy.

Slowly, she turned around, letting the shopping bags fall to the side, not bothering to block her abdomen as it would do no good. This was it.

"Hi, Miss Patty."

Shock spread across the Patty's face as she took in Rory's form, so different than it had been before. "Umm… Hi, Rory!" she forced a wide smile. "Do you have a story for me?"

And so it began.

XXX

Dean's reaction was all Rory could think about on the way to school the next day.

She'd called twice. The second time, Dean's little sister had politely informed her that Dean would get her message and that she didn't have to be "a stalker about it." Considering the amount of time Dean had spent ringing her phone off the hook when they were dating, Rory was tempted to explain this little irony to Clara, but she'd held back and waited by the phone for his call.

Until Lorelai made her to go bed, of course.

They'd planned the whole thing out perfectly. Dean would arrive. Lorelai would usher him into the kitchen, where Rory would already be seated, thereby not automatically blindsiding him with her condition. Hopefully, he would sit down as his height was more than a little intimidating and then she would be able to tell him as gently as possible. The exact wording of this exchange, she was still perfecting.

It was workable, providing she could get a hold of him before he found out from someone else.

Being that it was going on 24 hours of Miss Patty finding out, Rory was playing a dangerous game indeed.

XXX

Tristan paced in front of Paris's locker until she pushed him aside to get into it. "Finally! Is she here today?"

"Why don't you stake out her locker to find out?" Paris suggested.

"Well, let's see. Do you think this an attractive look for me?"

"The obsession or the hair?" she asked.

"I wouldn't say… What's wrong with my hair?" Tristan pushed her out of the way to look into her mirror.

"God, it's fine. She's here, okay? Go pretend to be cool."

"I'll do my best," he promised.

XXX

Rory spun her combination as she ignored Matt, her daily tormentor.

"I guess your sex life has probably really tanked since you started showing, huh, Gilmore?"

"Please," Summer interrupted him. "Getting pregnant is so amateur. Probably just couldn't figure out the condom first time out of the gate."

Rory told herself that if she just didn't respond, they'd eventually get bored. It hadn't worked for the past few months, of course, but it had to have gained cliché status for a reason.

Gathering her books, Rory tried to get past them, but Matt blocked her way.

"Oh, sorry, did you want to get through?" he asked.

XXX

Tristan could barely see Rory in the rush of passing time. Strange, considering how big she'd gotten in the last couple weeks, an observation he'd be keeping to himself.

As he got closer, he realized it was Matt and Summer blocking his view and Tristan quickened his limp to get to her.

"Hey Rory, Gennessee." Tristan didn't bother wasting his breath to greet Summer. "I've got those notes for you, Mary. Paris now owns my kidney, so I hope it's worth it."

"You only need one anyway." She smiled at him, ignoring the others. He took her hand and she clung to his fingers like a lifeline.

"Not rejecting him now that you need a step daddy, I see," Matt interjected.

"Don't be a jackass, you know nothing about our relationship," Tristan told him.

"Oh, a relationship?" Summer wouldn't be left out of the conversation, unfortunately. "How domestic."

All their implications made Tristan nauseous. Rory Gilmore made one mistake in her entire life and these evil hypocrites couldn't let it go. He had no idea what to say. Would the fact that he'd been the one to impregnate her help or hurt in their estimation? He wasn't sure, but it wasn't like they could keep it a secret forever…

"It should be," Tristan said finally. "We're having a baby in a couple months."

They had no coherent response, so Tristan walked Rory to class.

"What was that, exactly?" she whispered.

"Possibly a huge mistake," he admitted. "Guess we'll find out."

XXX

The chorus of questions when Lorelai walked into Luke's Diner was overwhelming, so she decided to get her coffee to go.

"So it's true, then?" Luke asked as he poured.

"Not my place to confirm or deny."

"Is that why they broke up? I can have a talk with him, if you want."

"It isn't and I don't." She picked up her cup. "But I appreciate the thought."

"Let me know if you need anything."

"Don't worry, we're working on the list," Lorelai agreed. "And I'm not just saying that."

Luke smiled. "I have no doubt."

XXX

It didn't take long for Louise and Madeline to corner her. Or at least, Rory didn't think it took long. Louise was more than a little hurt to be the 'last to know everything.'

"So, spill, was it really Tristan?" she asked.

"And you're together now?" Madeline followed up before Rory could answer the first question.

"Umm, yes, it was Tristan and we're...uhh... taking it slow."

"You can do that when you're gonna pop out a kid?"

"Well, the most important thing is to raise our child in a stable environment, so our relationship has to come secondary."

"Wow, Tristan agreed to that?" Madeline asked skeptically.

"We've discussed it." Or they would. Eventually. When she got up the nerve to draw attention to the weird issue of their relationship. It made them sound good, is what mattered.

"I'm not sure you guys are on the same page, Rory." Louise pointed to a TV monitor in the corner of the room where the school announcements scrolled across the bottom of the screen.

"What do you-" Rory stopped talking as she started reading. Oh, he was so dead.

XXX

"Tristan, what the hell?"

Tristan found himself yanked into the bathroom he considered the starting point of their whole relationship. When the time was right, he'd let Rory in on the emotional significance as well. But she seemed a little too pissed to appreciate it at the moment.

"I guess you saw the announcements?"

"The whole school saw the announcements!"

Perfect. Tristan flattened to look under the stall doors. The last thing they needed was a witness to this conversation. Coast clear, he jumped back to his feet.

"Tristan, we can't get married."

"Of course not," Tristan scoffed, as though the idea had never occurred to him. "That would be crazy."

At least, until they had some kind of steady cash flow.

"Oh…kay. So if you agree with me, why did I just get that lame, uninspired proposal during the afternoon announcements?"

"Time out. Are you mad that I proposed or are you mad it wasn't romantic enough, cause that'd be really good information to have."

"Tristan, god!"

"I go by both."

She punched him.

"Ow!"

"We're seventeen. There will be none of this…marriage business. It's beyond ridiculous."

"All right, shut up, I don't want to marry you!"

The way Rory's mouth dropped, it was pretty clear the statement could have been better phrased.

"No. I mean, like, now. It's crazy, we both agree that it's crazy. The proposal wasn't for you, it was for them, you know? So they'll leave you alone?" He hoped she would get that, appreciate it on some level.

Rory started laughing. Tristan started to think maybe he was missing something.

But whatever, at least she stopped hitting him.

XXX

Poor, idiotic Tristan.

Just the idea that he was actually trying to save her more hassle had her laughing a trifle hysterically on and off the whole drive home. It was pretty impressive she actually made it back to Stars Hollow.

He'd thought he was helping her, trying to carry all the responsibility on his strangely sloped shoulders. Instead, he'd was giving her mother a heart attack and her grandmother some sort of wedding-plan-o-gasm.

Hopefully Lorelai would get over it. Emily certainly wouldn't.

There really would be doves. Or wandering love swans. Ugh. Rory wanted to kill Tristan just thinking about the plumage.

How could he think things would change? Like they would respect her more somehow because he'd proposed? People weren't like that. No one at their high school cared if he made an apparently honest woman of her, did they?

The concept was horrifically outdated. Rory couldn't think of anything more idiotic than getting married and surely the rest of the student body would only shun her more in agreement?

Or would they back off with him there to defend her?

Maybe people like Matt and Summer would just leave her the hell alone when he told them too. The anger Rory had been clinging to dissipated as she re-lived his intervention, the strength in his hand when she clung to him. Just having Tristan around made life easier. It didn't really matter what people thought of their relationship.

Whatever it was, exactly.

Rory pulled into the driveway and turned off the engine, not looking forward to the rest of her night. Stupid Dean. Why couldn't he just answer the phone or call her back? Why did he have to... be sitting on her porch waiting for her.

She rolled down her window. "You were supposed to call!" she yelled.

Dean started toward the driveway and Rory's heart stopped. "No! Stay there! Stop walking!"

He halted, raising his hands in surrender. "Sure. Rory, chill. What's wrong with you?"

"You have to go into the living room." Everything could still work out. He just had to follow her directions explicitly.

"Why?"

The poor guy couldn't look more confused and Rory wanted to just answer all his questions and end the torture, but it would only make it worse. This is why there was a plan, but he refused to stick to it. "It's just better, okay? Please?"

"Oh…kay," he agreed.

Dean turned toward the house, but kept going, doing a full 360 and starting back toward Rory, whose immediate reaction was to start rolling up the window to block his view.

"I need the keys," Dean interrupted her panic, which, belatedly, seemed bit counterintuitive.

Her mom wasn't home. Of course she wasn't. He wouldn't be on the porch, he'd be in the house. The plan would be going perfectly if Lorelai was there to supervise. Instead, it was painfully bludgeoned.

Rory hurled her key chain at Dean. He couldn't have just called her back the night before and let everything work out.

"Make sure to just stare right at the TV until I tell you not to," she instructed. Like she needed him to catch a glimpse of her ungainly waddle kitchenward.

"You don't want me to see you?"

"Right," she encouraged. He finally got it. "Go!"

"So it's true, then."

What? No. She was so close and now it was going all wrong. "What's true?" she asked. Maybe he didn't know.

"The rumor you're pregnant."

The plan was destroyed. She was breaking his heart from inside the car he'd built for her. No kitchen table or easy let down.

"I'm…"

"Who's the father?"

Wow, was that a question she didn't want to answer.

"Let's go inside." Rory opened the car door. It didn't matter now if he saw for himself.

She didn't want to watch his eyes as they dropped to her belly, but she couldn't seem to look away as his skin whitened.

"How far along?" Dean asked, not waiting for the privacy of the house.

"About seven months."

It was impossible to miss the slight nod of Dean's head and twitch in his fingers as he counted back.

"The weekend after you dumped me." She cut off the math to save time, unable to resist reminding him that their separation hadn't been her idea.

"I assume you weren't, umm… that you wanted to?"

This was the second guy to ask that. Was there something inherently asexual about her? God.

"Sure, I did. I was hurt, I was drunk and it seemed like a good idea at the time."

Dean winced and Rory hated that sliver of her heart that reveled in his pain and wanted him to feel what she did.

"You wanted to hurt me?"

"No," she insisted.

It was more true than it wasn't.

She didn't know what else to say and they just stood on her driveway for awhile.

"I should go," he said finally.

"Yeah." She stepped aside to let him leave only to grab his arm as he passed. "I um, I need those keys."

"Right, keys." He placed them firmly into her hands and folded her fingers around them. "Good luck, Rory."

She didn't watch him leave.

XXX

Lorelai found her daughter sitting at the kitchen table. Usually, school books would be piled all around her, but Rory just sat there, sipping chocolate milk.

"Hey, kiddo. How was school?"

"Tristan proposed."

"Wow, is that why you started drinking without me?"

"Dean was here when I got home."

"What? But we had a plan!"

"He wrecked the plan. Slaughtered the plan."

Oh boy. Lorelai sighed. "Pass the bottle."

To Be Continued.