Oh my god. I'm so sorry. My beta's been really busy and sick… and I've been waiting two months or so for this. I actually forgot about it. I stopped reading GG fics because all of the good ones got abandoned, and the rest seemed to be just recycled ideas that didn't entertain me anymore. Sorry. This is actually the last chapter. There will be a epilouge when I feel like writing it. More like if, but I promised I would. So, um, yeah. The long awaited end of Nightmare.

Chapter 20: Waking From The Nightmare

Rory kept a watchful eye all day, waiting to see if Damien would ever reappear. By lunchtime, there was still no sign of him. Cautiously, she broached the subject with the collected group in the library: the girls.

"Hey, uh, has, has anyone seen Damien since this morning?" She edged.

In a very short, clipped voice, Maddie rather uncharacteristically replied, "No." With a certain air of hurt and betrayal in her voice she looked at Rory as if the girl had just declared war against her. "Why do you care? He doesn't deserve anyone caring about him." She was almost snarling.

"I know that. I just… the look in his eyes… after you chewed him out. He looked utterly… lost. I was just worried about another human being." Rory grew defensive in the end. "I know he doesn't deserve it, but I can't help it."

The silence was broken, when Louise, barely whispered, "He used to be our friend." Damien and Louise had gotten to be quite close during the whole 'Ken & Madeline Saga'. Both were often ignored or ditched by the two. Louise fell for him, while Damien was too hung up on losing his best friend to realize that he could have the same thing and still have Ken around.

"Well he's not anymore." Maddie replied forcefully. Louise looked up with tears in her eyes and stared hard at Maddie, yet neither spoke and neither backed down. Finally Paris stepped in.

"Rory's right. He's still a person, regardless of how we feel about him. Maybe Rory and I should go check on him after school." She said decisively, not giving anyone a chance to protest.

Though Maddie seemed upset at having lost the battle, she could see Paris wasn't thrilled at seeing Damien, but knew it was the right thing to do. Just because he was a self-centered, selfish, ass didn't mean they were.

"So, biology today? Brutal." Rory whistled out, effectively changing the subject.

-

-

After school the girls showed up at Damien's house, with Louise in tow. She'd demanded to go with them. The door to his house was slightly ajar, as if it'd been closed in a hurry. The girls were weary of entering, perhaps he'd been robbed? Pushing the door open quietly, and headed in. "Damien?" Louise called out, while the other two smacked her in the arm. She ignored them and pushed forward through the house, heading up the long staircase. She headed into his room and then she screamed.

Lying on his floor, next to his bed, a needle in hand, was Damien.

Louise couldn't move. Her scream was the last sound she'd made for the last 15 minutes. An ambulance would be there any second, Rory and Paris were moving around her getting done what needed, but she couldn't move. She finally blinked as paramedics began to place his body on the stretcher they'd brought up.

"Damien-" She whispered reaching for his hand. "Can I- can I go with him?" She asked the EMT. He shrugged in response.

Paris pulled her to the side for a moment. "Do you think that's a good idea, Lou?"

"Let her Paris. I'd do the same if it was Tristan. She needs to be with him." Rory said softly, as her heart broke for Louise.

"How do you…?" Louise began asking, but Rory shook her head. "Go!" She demanded softly.

As Paris and Rory made their way downstairs, they saw Louise climb into the ambulance just before it pulled off.

"How do you know?" Paris asked.

Rory smirked, "We talked. We were friends, despite everything. He needs her. He just hasn't realized it yet."

"God." Paris moaned slightly. "You're all pairing off before my eyes."

Nudging her as they reached the car, Rory smiled, "Well, there's always Finn…"

"Die Gilmore." Rory stuck her tongue out in childish response.

-

-

"Tristan!" Rory growled into her cell phone. A nurse kept shooting her dirty looks, but she didn't want to go outside. Paris took Louise to the cafeteria to get something to drink and a snack. Anything to preoccupy the girl. She didn't want the doctor to come out and no one be there. "I don't care if you hate him, or Ken's mad at him, or Madeline wants to kill him, or Finn is too drunk to drive your lazy asses!" She hissed. "You and Damien are even. I know he can never make up for killing your mother, but he's done a hell of a job trying. Maddie should be here for Louise, who is a basket case right now. And it may not be their faults, but Ken and Maddie are the reason he's here. I'd be surprised if this was the first time he's tried to kill himself. Whether intentional or not. He has enough guilt. What he needs are friends! I thought you were more decent than this. Love you." She hung up the phone not waiting for a reply. She was done arguing with him. If they were all going to be immature, than so be it.

"Excuse me, are you here for Damien?" An older woman asked Rory gently, now that she was off the phone.

Slightly startled, Rory turned. "Uhm, yes. I am. Who are you?"

"I'm Damien's aunt. Or great-aunt. His grandparents are away on business, they asked me to come until they could get back." Mrs. Vita replied.

"Oh." Rory hadn't much of a clue what to say. "Well, all we know right now is that he probably overdosed on… I actually don't know what he overdosed on."

Sitting down, and beckoning Rory to do the same, Mrs. Vita asked, "Are you the one who found him?"

Rory shrugged. "Sort of. We went to check on him. He disappeared during school and I was worried. Louise is the one that actually found him in his room, with me and Paris not to far behind."

"Well, bless you for being worried. Thank you. I'm glad he's finally got friends again." Rory smiled faintly at the woman, unsure of what to say once more.

Time passed, and before long, a body dropped itself into the seat next to her, wrapped its arm around her, but said nothing. Rory knew it was Tristan, and she knew better than to gloat that he was here or she was right. She saw Maddie and Ken holding hands as they sat across from them.

"Thank you." Rory said quietly, not wanting to make a big deal.

Tristan kissed her head. "He was here when I needed him to be. I wouldn't have you or my brother if not for him. I still don't forgive him for what happened, but I'm willing to live with him."

"If he lives." Rory's voice wavered as the gravity suddenly hit her that once again, one of her friends might be dying.

Tristan sucked in a deep breath. "He will." He said confidently. Silently to himself, he added, 'He has to.'

-

-

When Louise and Paris came back, Louise was cold and distant to Maddie and Ken, but eventually succumbed into Maddie's apologizing and forgiving arms.

The doctor who oversaw Tristan when he was brought in happened to be the same one who treated Damien.

"I'd like to say it's nice to see you kids again, but its not." He cracked a small smile at them. "Your friend will be fine. He needs to rest while we wean the drugs out of his system. The heroine he used was laced with something else. You kids need to stay away from drugs, please." The doctor was pleading with them, though many relieved faces sat in the room, ignoring his lecturing.

"May we see him?" Paris asked, surprise most people. The doctor nodded.

Damien was sitting up when the kids entered the room. He was shocked to see all of them. "Who found me?" He asked.

"We did." Paris answered gesturing to the 'we'. She smacked his arm. "You ever do something stupid like this again and I won't call the ambulance when I find your ass."

"Friends fight, Damien." Madeline said softly. "We don't hate you. We just… you really need help. You've cost all of us a lot. But… we're willing to make amends if you tell us the truth about everything and never keep secrets from us again."

"Or try to break people up." Ken threw in.

"We?" Damien asked, assuming she meant Ken and herself.

Tristan sighed from behind Rory. "We." He confirmed. Rory beamed up at him, grateful.

Now that everyone was done yelling at him, Rory ran over to him. She hugged him tightly. "No more drugs. No more lies. We want our friend back." He nodded and smiled, hugging her back. Slowly but surely, everyone, even Paris, hugged or shook hands with him except for Louise. She'd been sitting in the corner since they entered just staring at him, unable to shake the image of him lying on the floor or in the ambulance from her mind.

Noticing, Rory shooed everyone out of the room, leaving the two alone.

"Lou. Come here." She numbly walked to him, sinking down on the edge of his bed.

She had tears in her eyes and it broke his heart. "I'm sorry." She said laughing off her spell. "I don't know what's wrong with me."

"It's alright. I should be the one saying sorry." Damien said softly.

"Why?" She said shocked, looking him in the eyes.

He sighed. "I pushed you away and pushed you out of my mind. I wanted to forget about you. I knew I lost you once I was sent to juvie."

She cupped his face, forcing him to look at her. "You never lost me, Dame."

"I didn't?" He said showing his own shock.

She shook her head no, "Nope."

"So the whole time I've been back…" He started.

Cutting him off she answered his question, "I've been waiting. You were so caught up on Mad and Ken, that you never noticed how I felt about you."

"And when I came back I wanted to forget you because I thought I'd never get you back." He laughed. "God am I an idiot." Sighing he asked, "Why couldn't I see what was in front of me the whole time? None of this would have happened if I had!"

"Don't worry about it, now. We're all starting over. Even you and me." To emphasize her point, Louise stuck out her hand. "Hi. I'm Louise. I'm Maddie's best friend. Looks like you got ditched, too."

Laughing at her, he replied, "Damien." Though he remembered this conversation, he opted to change it. "And I don't see it as getting ditched, I see it as getting a chance to talk to you." Louise smiled at him.

"Knock knock." Rory said poking her head in and knocking on the door. "Time to go, Louise. Bye, Damien. We'll be back tomorrow." She closed the door letting them say goodbye. Louise emerged a few moments later, looking happily dazed.

-

-

Rory and Tristan entered his apartment alone. Ken was staying with Madeline tonight. Rory felt like she was practically living with him now. She didn't really ask permission so much as she simply told her mother where she was. Lorelai didn't seem to mind too much either.

"Where's your dad?" She asked softly, noting that his door was open and the apartment was quiet.

"He's been staying with Terri. He's worried about her. They've always been pretty close." He started pulling off his shirt and wife beater as she unbuttoned her Chilton blouse.

"That's good. She should have someone staying with her with Charles not there." Tristan tossed her a t-shirt while pulling out a pair of sleep pants. She took off her bra and slipped the shirt on as he discarded his boxers, sliding into the pants.

It wasn't until Rory pulled back the covers for them and climbed into bed that Tristan realized something. "We're doing it at night now, too." he smirked as she smiled.

"Well, if you don't like sleeping with me…" Rory attempted to climb out of bed, before Tristan caught her and pulled her back against him.

"Nonsense. I love sleeping with you. You chase away my nightmares." He whispered, nuzzling her hair.

"Corny, much?" She smiled sweetly at him as they lay down.

Looking at her with pure sincerity in his words, he said, "Seriously. I don't know how I would've made it through all of this without you."

"Just think someday you can make it up to me." He grinned down at her.

"I promise." He whispered into her hair as she fell asleep, with him not too far behind.

-

-

Waking up the next day was like waking up from a nightmare. Where you've never been more grateful to be awake, and to embrace the day. To realize your fears are behind you and no longer affecting you. Everyone moved on with there lives from that morning on. The nightmare had finally ended.