An Author's Crazy Bored Ramblings- So, I wrote this forever and a day ago. Literally. This was written for the Spring 2005 Seasonal Passions Trory Exchange, for my dear, dear, dear friend and fellow Ickle Gal, the fabulous Season 4.5, my darling M. I left her hanging for ficage for like, ever and ever, even after she did an AMAZING job on writing the story I requested. But really, when you have a girl like M as a friend, you want to give her the very, very best. And so, this was late. Very late. Semi inexcusably late, but she was more than patient with me, and I was just glad that she found it worth it. So this story, is dedicated to her, because she requested it. And gave me good recs, too. Let me tell you, not being able to use a curse word in a dirty fic is harder than it looks.

Thanks to Ames for the beta, which she did so long ago, without complaint. And to J, who sat through like three versions of almost the same exact story and didn't complain. You guys all rock. And I love you.

So, enjoy all! Hopefully some of you remember this story, and if not, then you have a new read!


Things to Include
1.) Drive to spring break and car breaks down
2.) Impromptu Camping
3.) A bath under the park's sprinkler system

Things NOT to Include
1.) Cursing
2.) Chilton Setting
3.) Rory and Tristan are currently dating

Rating- NC 17

Chemistry 201

"Great." Rory sighed, getting out of the passenger side of the car. "Just great."

"Don't start Ror." Tristan said, slipping from the driver's side after popping the hood on his Cadillac Escalade. Once open, clouds of steam and smoke billowed from the front of the vehicle.

"Great." Rory groaned, slumping against her door as Tristan began to tinker with things in an attempt to see what went wrong. "Just great."

"Rory!" Tristan snapped. "Just stop!"

"Hey, I'm not the one that killed the car." Rory shot back. "I wanted to stop thirty miles ago when it started making that funny clinking noise, but NO. You had to be a guy, you couldn't listen to a woman, and you had to keep going. And now we're stuck here, in the middle of nowhere!"

"We wouldn't have been in the middle of nowhere if you hadn't had to stop to go to the bathroom every two miles. You have a bladder the size of a walnut, why in the world did you have to drink another three cups of coffee every single time we stopped at a rest stop so you could pee again?"

"I had to do something while you were off flirting with all the dimwitted bimbos that were falling all over you!" Rory batted her eyes in an overdramatic fashion. "You go to Yale? That's so interesting! I bet that means you're really, really smart." She simpered, mimicking the brain-dead girls she had witnessed falling all over her travel companion only a few hours earlier.

This wasn't supposed to be happening. They were only supposed to be sharing a ride down to Ft. Lauderdale, where their friends were already partying, living it up. Spring Break had commenced two days prior, but a sadistic chemistry professor had held all sixty-seven of her students hostage to take his impossibly hard midterm.

In January, Rory had been shocked to find Tristan Dugrey sitting next to her in Chemistry 201. It seemed like someone's idea of a cruel joke, especially when Professor Tartaglia, an evil crone of a woman, announced that the person they were sitting next to would be their lab partner for the rest of the semester.

It had been a nightmare. At least it had been in the beginning. He would still taunt her as he had in high school, and she would still shoot back fiery barbs under her breath as she had done five years ago.

But somehow, over the course of the class, she had become less annoyed at his teasing and more amused by it. And her returned jabs became less icy and increasingly friendly. It seemed like they were actually becoming friends, that is, until Tristan screwed it all up.

He didn't show up for class on the day of the big experiment, the one that was worth one-fifth of their final grade. It wasn't like him, even though they weren't the closest of confidants, she knew that he genuinely cared about his grades and doing well in the sciences especially, since he was Premed.

Rory had done her best, stumbling through the assignment, trying to do Tristan's part as well as her own. She barely finished it by the end of class and very nearly set her workstation ablaze when she tried to combine two different sets of chemicals at the same time.

In spite of the doubled workload and the strict time constraints placed on the experiment, Rory's thoughts had flicked back to Tristan too many times to count. Where was he? Was he sick? Did something happen to him? Did something happen to his grandfather? Did Janlan have another episode?

As soon as the class from hell was over, Rory had raced from the Kline Science Building to his dorm, hoping that nothing was seriously wrong. Her heart had been beating a million times a minute at the thought that he could have been seriously sick or hurt. For some reason, it made her much more upset that it probably should have. She wasn't just worried about Tristan because he was her lab partner and she needed him alive and kicking to maintain her proper place on the Dean's List, but somewhere in the past few weeks they had become friends, even if it was in some warped, completely dysfunctional way.

Upon reaching his dorm room, she pounded on the door as hard as her heart was pounding in her chest. His roommate opened the door, clearly annoyed with her constant rapping. Pushing her way past him, she stopped to survey their common room.

It looked as though a bomb had gone off in it. Either that, or a medium-sized tornado had ripped its way through: leaving the hardwood floors covered in beer cans and gin and vodka bottles, the tables and countertops laden with cups and pizza boxes, and the couch looked as though it had a person sleeping underneath its cushions.

Her eyes narrowed as the realization of why her lab partner wasn't in class hit her like a slap in the face. Ignoring the questions his roommate was asking her, Rory barged into Tristan's bedroom.

Even though she knew what she was going to find, Rory wasn't at all ready to see it. Sleeping soundly on his bed, was Tristan. The stench of alcohol permeated the suite, and two bottles of Captain Morgan sat on his night table, right next to his clock.

If Rory had been thinking clearly, she would have just turned around and left. But she wasn't thinking clearly. All the fear that she had been feeling only a few moments before dissipated, leaving her with only her anger and a tight feeling in her chest that she didn't want to identify, and she felt compelled to take action.

In a flurry of activity, fueled by the irritation and what quite possibly was hurt, she filled an ice bucket she had found lying haphazardly on the floor near her feet with ice-cold water. With great satisfaction, she hurled it at him, reveling in that tiny feeling of glee that bubbled up over her madness when he sprang to life, coughing and sputtering.

"What the-!" Tristan howled, hopping around while he wiped the water from his tired eyes. A blurry, watercolor-like image came more into focus until it became a hazy version of Rory Gilmore. "Rory? What in the name of all that is holy are you doing here?" he asked, still groggy from the previous night's activities.

"No Tristan, the real question is, what in the name of all that is holy are YOU doing here?" She bit out, pointing at his alarm clock with a shaky finger. If this current moment were happening on one of those stupid college dramadies that all the major networks peddled year after year, Rory Gilmore would have laughed. But here, at this moment, the situation was anything but funny.

A look of both recognition and horror spread across his face as he remembered that he wasn't where he was supposed to be. "Ror, I'm so sor-,"

"Save it." Rory spat out, barely able to dislodge the two simple words from her throat. "It's more than obvious that it doesn't matter to you."

"That's not true!" Tristan shot back, crossing his arms across his chest. Suddenly, Rory was aware of the fact that Tristan was standing naked before her. Turning beet red, she turned quickly, located a pair of navy boxers thrown haphazardly on top of his laundry basket, and threw them at him, only peeking slightly.

"If it mattered to you, then I wouldn't have been sitting there in class, struggling to get our experiment done! I wouldn't have nearly burned down the lab trying to do both of our parts at the same time!" She yelled, throwing her hands in the air in frustration. "And I definitely wouldn't have spent the entire time worrying about whether you were okay or not!"

Tristan closed his eyes, his head still throbbing from all the drinking he did only hours before. "I'm actually kind of surprised it took you this long." Rory continued, starting to pace back and forth. "I would have thought that you would have sold me out a long time ago. Who would have thought that you would have waited until we had one-fifth of our grade on the line to flake out on me?"

"Hey, I had a bad night. I made a bad decision or two. "Tristan's eyes were dark. As soon as she started to attack him, he immediately went on the defensive. "It's not the end of the world."

"Not to a selfish, arrogant brat like yourself, but not all of us have Daddy's money to fall back on, Tristan."

"No, some of us have Grandma and Grandpa's instead." Tristan shot back, knowing he'd stepped over the line and immediately regretting it, but he wasn't capable of stopping himself. "You aren't so different form the rest of us, Rory. You only like to think of yourself as above everyone, but in reality, you have the same privileges and airs as the rest of your peers. So don't act superior, Rory. It's not very attractive on you, and it definitely clashes with the Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm thing you've perfected over the years."

Rory jumped back as if he'd hauled off and slapped her. She didn't say a word, but the look in her eyes said it all to him. Tristan wished that he could take back his words and his actions, but it was impossible to do so. He wanted to follow her as she turned and left, to apologize and to make her understand, but his feet wouldn't move and the words were stuck in his throat, filling his chest with unexpressed regrets.

They had barely spoken in the following two weeks, and both felt the loss. There was an emptiness in both of their lives; a void that was unable to be filled by anyone but the other. But neither would back down, nor express their sorrow over their broken friendship.

Rory missed the tingly feeling she would get when his arm would accidentally brush against hers, or when they would laugh at the crazy socks that Antonia, the girl who sat directly in front of them, would choose to wear that day with her Birkenstocks. She missed studying with him and the coffee he used to bring for the both of them when they would meet before lab to divide the work evenly between them.

Tristan missed getting a rise out of her with his 'innocent' touches and skin-to-skin contact. He missed just hanging out with her and talking about nothing in particular. Mostly, he just missed her, crazy ways and coffee addiction included.

Then last week, their Chemistry class found out that the date set aside for their midterm exam on their syllabus was incorrect. It wasn't on a Monday, but a Thursday. Rory's plane to Florida was set to take off on Wednesday night, just after the supposed last test she was scheduled to take in Philosophy.

Her ticket was non-refundable. She tried to get another seat on a later plane, but every available seat had been booked months in advance as the onslaught of college campuses let their students out for two glorious weeks of freedom and fun in the sun. And everyone she knew was already well on their way to joining in on carefree days of tanning and living it up.

Everyone, that is, except Tristan.

So begrudgingly, they both agreed to travel down to Ft. Lauderdale together, each driving halfway. If anything else, this trip would most certainly be interesting.

They didn't argue for the first ten hours. But lack of sleep, combined with two temperamental people, who weren't on the best of terms in the first place, had taken its toll, and by hour fifteen they were both at each other's throats, constantly contradicting each other. What was black to Tristan was white to Rory. When she complained of needing to find a restroom, he decided to forge ahead and let her squirm for two more exits before finally stopping. When he wanted to stop and get something to eat, she wasn't hungry. And when she wanted to stop and have the clunky noise under the hood checked, he ignored her suggestion and forged on, until the car finally sputtered and stopped along the long, lonely stretch of road they were currently standing on.

"Look," Tristan sighed, scrubbing his face with his hand. "Arguing isn't getting us anywhere. And it doesn't look like we're going anywhere until morning anyway, so why don't we just call a truce and get some sleep?"

Rory considered his suggestion, ready to argue once more, but she was much too tired to formulate any other plan to debate his more than sensible one. "Okay." She agreed, smirking inwardly when a look of surprise washed over his face at her immediate acquiescence.

Walking around to the back of the Escalade, Tristan opened the hatch, pulled out two blankets, and started to walk away. "Where are you going?" Rory shouted after him, shocked that he was planning on abandoning her in the middle of a foreign state.

"I'm going to sleep under the stars." Tristan called back, pointing to a sign a few yards away from where she was standing, which read, "Rockwood Park." "I don't know about you, but I don't want to spend another second inside of that vehicle." He continued walking a few more feet before turning around once more. "You coming?"

A few twigs broke in the brush off to the side of the road a short way from where the car was parked. He didn't have to ask her twice. Rory hurried after him. After all, it was more practical to stay together. Plus, if a bear were to come along, she could let him get eaten and hurry back to the safety of the SUV.

"You are completely insane, just so you know. I really don't think that there's any hope for a nutcase like you."

"I am not a nutcase!" Rory shot back in annoyance. "And I resent the implication."

"Only a true nutcase would give me a ten-minute dissertation on why The Beach Boys are a bunch of sexist pigs just because I sang one or two bars of a song!" Tristan countered, glancing at her quickly before returning his eyes to the heavens above them.

They were each lying on the very edges of the blankets, having spread them both out to give them a little bit of extra cushioning from the hard ground below. It was a beautiful Georgia night; the moon was out and the stars were shining brightly against the blue-black sky. There was a gentle breeze that brushed over their bodies, keeping them cool in the warm spring air.

"But they are!" Rory repeated, readying herself to recite her rant once more. "Haven't you ever listened to "California Girls"? I mean really listened?"

"Yeah, I've listened to the song. Everyone born after 1965 has heard that song."
"Then I shouldn't have to explain it to you. You should already understand." Rory retorted.

"Well sorry Ror, but I don't understand."

"That's because you're a guy." He could hear her eye roll from three feet away.

"My being a guy has nothing to do with it." Tristan said calmly, trying to prevent himself from being sucked into another one of their endless debates on the merits of anything from who really deserved to be called "The Greatest American" to the social commentary and historical satire found in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

"Yes it does." Rory said. "If you were a girl, you would be able to see my point."

"No I wouldn't, because you don't have a point." He argued with her, secretly gleeful that she was even talking to him, let alone acting like they used to before their blowout.

"I do too!" Rory rolled onto her side, resting her weight on her elbow. "Think about it. They wanted each and every girl in the country to be blonde and tan and in a bikini. They didn't want anyone to be different. 'Well East Coast girls are it, I guess.' Oh, wow, that's really showing enthusiasm for the women that live on a whole side of the country. And they kind of gave compliments to all the other regions of the United States, but then came back and said 'I wish they all could be California Girls.' They wanted us all to be the same. No diversity. See? Sexist."

"Yeah, but the song was written by a guy who was most likely high at the time." Tristan debated with her. He missed this. He missed them. And even if he could only have their unique bond back for one night, he would take it.

"Still, I don't want to dye my hair or get implants or skin cancer. So no thank you, Brian Wilson, I think I'll stay an East Coast girl, even if it means that you and the Boys won't like me enough to write a song about me." Rory smiled softly, rolling onto her back again. It was nice, being there with him and not fighting. They hadn't been able to do that in so long. It was actually comforting to know that they just might still have it in them to be friends.

Rory looked over at him. Tristan was looking up, gazing at the stars. The angles of his face were outlined in the moonlight; his profile perfect, his lips full and inviting.

Full and inviting?

Where had that come from? Was she going insane? Was she having some sort of reaction from being cooped up with him for prolonged periods of time?

But Rory had to be honest with herself. Tristan was attractive. Very attractive. In fact, he was quite possibly the hottest guy she had ever laid eyes on. He had the body, the looks, and the confidence that combined into a very complete and tempting package.

Even if he did have the ability to be a huge jerk.

But then, she had sort of goaded him into it, calling him all sorts of things that she didn't even completely mean. He wasn't selfish, and even though he could be a little arrogant, he made up for it with the glimpse he gave her of the amazing heart that he had buried deep inside of him.

She had let her emotions get the better of her that day and attacked him first. And even though he had said some incredibly hurtful things, so had she. But how were they supposed to get past it and move on?

"Can I ask you a question?" Rory's attention snapped back to the man lying next to her.

"Sure."

"Why were you so desperate to go to Ft. Lauderdale?" Tristan turned to her, mimicking her position. "I mean, you hate me. So you had to really, really, really want to get to Florida in order to get into a car with me."

"Lane is there." Rory said simply with a smile. "And I don't hate you."

"Lane's the best friend in the band, right?" Tristan asked, his heart soaring at the newsflash that she didn't completely loathe being near him, because in truth, for him it was the exact opposite.

He loved the way that her creamy skin seemed to glow in the moonlight and how, even though the stars were millions of miles away, there was a sparkle akin to the fiery orbs in her deep blue eyes. But mostly, he enjoyed the simple chemistry that they shared.

They played off each other, there was no denying it. She fit well with him. Rory would argue and debate until she was blue in the face, unrelenting in her pursuit for the win. She didn't let him win easily, if she did at all. Plus, she had held his interest since he was sixteen years old, something that no other girl had managed to do for more than a few days or so.

"Yeah, I haven't seen her in almost a year." Rory's smile slipped a little. "She's been on tour since last summer, and she's been all over the place, playing with the band. Lane was supposed to come home for Christmas, but she ended up having to play a last minute gig and didn't make it back in time. So I decided that instead of waiting for her to come to me, I'd go to her."

"And she's in Ft. Lauderdale."

"Otherwise, I wouldn't be going near that place with a thirty-nine-and-a-half-foot pole."

Tristan chuckled and rolled onto his back. "You don't seem like the Spring Break type."

"I'll have you know that I've done Spring Break before." Rory moved closer to his side. "I drank, I got hung over, I sat out on the beach, I watched Bill Moyers, and I let Paris boss people around, tipping them as we went."

"Ah, the old honey pot method." Tristan smiled. "Where did Gellar end up for the break, anyway?"

"She and Doyle are heading back to his hometown to meet the parents." Rory informed him. "Paris has been hyperventilating about it for weeks."

"She'll be fine." Tristan assured her. "Paris Gellar can, if nothing else, hold her own."

"It's not her I'm worried about." Rory replied. "It's Doyle's family that I hope survives."

"They'll like her… eventually." Tristan said with a smile. "She can be bracing at first, but she does honestly love the guy, and his family will be able to see that."

"Sometimes, love isn't enough when a family is dead set against a relationship." Rory said softly, remembering the summer before, when she broke it off with Logan. She had cared for him, but his family didn't want her to be with him, and her family didn't want him to be with her. Eventually, it had become too much for the couple, and they parted ways.

He hadn't understood, of course. Logan had been more than willing to break away from his family, not being entirely close with any member other than his sister, Honor. Logan didn't grasp onto the fact that Rory wasn't quite as willing to let go of her grandparents or her mother. It had ended badly, with Logan leaving for one of his yacht trips around the world; this time taking the Bremmerfield twins along to console him.

"Thinking about Logan?" Tristan frowned knowingly. Of course she was thinking of him. He was, after all, the one who got away.

"Yeah." Rory looked up, surprised. "How'd you know?"

"It's pretty obvious. You get this funky look on your face whenever he crosses your mind." Tristan sighed, almost too softly for Rory to notice. "If he came back to you right now, would you take him back?" Wow, Tristan, great job. Where in the heck did that question come from? It wasn't at all what he had intended to say, but now that the question was out there, he was interested in the answer.

"Wow, what a question." Rory's eyes widened, and she shifted uncomfortably before lying on her back, turning away from him. "Probably not. I don't think we could have made it. Logan and I… well, we had a great time last year, and I wouldn't trade my time with him for anything in the world. But in the end, I think we would have wanted different things. So, to answer your question, no. I wouldn't take him back."

"Seriously?" Tristan was sitting upright next to her in a second, looking deeply into her eyes. For some reason, he needed to know that she was telling the truth, and not feeding him some line in hopes of making him stop questioning her.

Her eyes went wide when he brought his level with hers, staring deeply. It was as though he could see straight into her soul with his gaze. For a moment, she thought that maybe, just maybe, he wanted to kiss her, but instead, he just sort of nodded and moved back into his original spot on the left side of the blanket.

She couldn't shake the feeling of disappointment she felt. And more, Rory didn't want to. It was as though the stars above were finally aligned and she could see clearly. She could see the reason she had been so angry with him for so long. She could see why she had been so panicked at the thought of Tristan being hurt. She understood the deep betrayal that she had felt when he left her hanging to go and get drunk.

Rory was falling in love with him.

While her heart was screaming with joy that at last her brain had caught up with the feelings that had inundated her psyche since she was a teenager, her head was yelling for a different reason. No! He's not right for you. You'll want different things. It won't last. He'll leave you all alone without a word just like he did a month ago.

But what if she was mistaken about what had happened? She didn't exactly ask for too many details. She just jumped headfirst into accusations and name calling.

Tristan wasn't the type to just get smashed right before a big experiment like that. In fact, he had called her three times the Sunday before to make sure they would have everything read through and were properly prepared to start the experiment at nine o'clock on Monday morning. When it came to science, it seemed that he was even more annoyingly prepared than she was.

"Can I ask you a question?" Rory asked quickly, with these thoughts swirling around in her brain. She needed answers, and it seemed that there wasn't any better time than the present.

"I guess." Tristan answered, turning slightly to face her.

"What happened that day?"

Tristan sighed, knowing what the day in question was. He knew that they were going to have to talk about this eventually, but the knowledge of that didn't make it any easier. A big part of him wanted to roll over and not to say a word, but a smaller voice, a stronger one that he had been hearing in the back of his mind for the past few weeks, held strong, and so he began.

"Sunday evening, I went to my Grandfather's like I always do for dinner." She nodded, knowing of his weekly pilgrimage that resembled her own Friday night dinners with the Gilmores. "But that week, Grandfather wasn't alone."

He paused, pursing his lips in distaste before continuing. "My father was there."

Rory's eyes widened, pieces of the puzzle fitting together. Darian Dugrey wasn't happy that his son was planning on going into medicine. He thought it a waste of time to heal the sick, as the sick were weak. And Darian hated weak people. He hated that this son wanted to spend the rest of his life coddling the weak, becoming weak himself.

About a week prior to the incident, Rory and Tristan had been studying for a Chemistry test, and his father had called in the middle of their study session. One thing lead to another, and only moments into the phone call both were in a screaming match over his grade in Economics.

It was more than obvious to Rory that Tristan and Darian had a volatile relationship. She thanked her lucky stars that the only time that she ever fought with Lorelai over school was when she had tried to drop out, a decision that she later acknowledged was an extremely bad choice. She had returned to school in the fall, as she had intended before making the stupid decision on impulse. Thinking back now, it was almost embarrassing at how close she had come to being just another college dropout with no skills or education to fall back on, without the aid of a pro/con list or even a good night's sleep. It was a good thing she had been blessed with a parent who was always looking out for her best interests and well being. Looking at Tristan, thinking about his situation, she felt even more ashamed. He had to fight every single day to hold onto his dreams and goals, and she had very nearly given up on all of hers, turning her back on her education, as well as the morals and values that Lorelai had tried to teach her.

"Dad laced into me again," he continued, an eerie expression washing over his face. "Told me I was an idiot, that I was dragging the family name through the mud. That I didn't deserve to be a Dugrey."

Rory's jaw dropped. She opened her mouth to speak, but she couldn't find the words. "And you know what the worst part of it is?" He asked. What could possibly be worse than that? She thought to herself.

"My grandfather just sat there." Tristan said, his voice catching ever so slightly at the end. "He sat idly by while my dad tore me to shreds."

"Tristan…." It was as though he didn't hear her. He just lay there next to her, staring up into the vast night sky.

"He must agree with my father. He must think I'm nothing but a disgrace too." Tristan shut his eyes. "Why else would he let Dad go on and on like that?"

There was a lump in Rory's throat the size of a grapefruit. She tried to swallow it, to make it go away, but it was unmoving and rapidly growing to the size of a honeydew melon.

"And I just sat there." Tristan brought a hand to his temple, kneading the soft skin slightly. "I sat there like a lump and let him go on and on. Josh was having a party for March Madness when I got back. I remember grabbing that bottle of rum and wanting nothing more than to sail straight into oblivion with The Cappie by my side." Tristan looked at her for the first time since he began his story. "And then nothing until you nearly drowned me the next morning."

"Tristan, I'm so…," Rory reached out, her fingers rubbing his arm lightly. "I don't really know what to say."

"What is there to say, really?" Tristan sighed, a look of exhaustion washing over his perfect features. Whether the all-day drive or his confession caused it, Rory didn't know. "Let's try to get some sleep. We still have a lot of driving left to do tomorrow after we get the car fixed."

--&--

It was 3:42 am.

And Rory still hadn't fallen asleep.

It wasn't that the ground was uncomfortable. Actually, the lush green carpet of grass molded nicely to her figure, cushioning her body from the hard dirt just below it.

It wasn't because she wasn't tired, either. Rory hadn't slept in nearly twenty-four hours. If anything, she should be so deep in a REM cycle that a marching band with trumpets blaring would be unable to rouse her.

It wasn't because she was afraid of the dark or the possible predators that could be lurking in the shadows, waiting for the perfect moment to strike. She was strangely confident in Tristan's ability to protect her, even though only hours ago she would have bet her trust fund that he would have let whatever came upon them have her in order to procure his own safety.

It could be the guilt she was feeling that was keeping her up. After all, now that she knew the reasons behind why Tristan ditched her, it wasn't him she was angry with. How could she have just gone in on him like that, without waiting to get the facts? She hadn't let him explain anything. She felt terrible.

How could his father not see what an amazing guy Tristan was? How could he think him weak? Tristan had withstood his insults and degrading comments for twenty-one years. If anything, he was one of the strongest people that Rory knew, aside from her mother.

Why had Janlen just let Tristan twist in the wind like that? Tristan always talked about the man so reverently. They were supposed to be so close. Tristan had so much respect for his grandfather, how could he let him down so harshly?

Rory sighed, and looked over at Tristan. At least one of them was able to fall asleep. He had drifted off almost immediately after turning away from her, and it had been over two hours since then; and Rory was still up.

It occurred to her that she had never really taken the time to look at him before. She had always known that he was handsome, but as he lay there next to her with his eyes closed, she saw just how gorgeous he really was. How had she not noticed this before? How had she been able to fall for him and not even realize it?

Great, more questions. Rory thought, rolling her eyes with displeasure. This was why she couldn't fall asleep. She was unable to shut her mind off with him lying next to her looking surprisingly innocent, and yet, in a way, so tempting.

Finally, Rory had admitted to herself that she had feelings for him. It had taken her five years, but she had done it. She felt so free, as if the bars on her cage had fallen away, and yet, the knowledge of her feelings was paralyzing as well.

She couldn't admit it to him, that much Rory knew. Tristan might enjoy flirting with her and teasing her playfully, but that certainly didn't mean that he had any feelings for her beyond friendship. It was so much easier to keep her desire to hurl herself at him to herself. That way, she wouldn't run the risk of ruining what they had, and she wouldn't chance getting hurt by his rejection.

She glanced at his lips again. They were still full, and oh, so inviting, just begging for her to lean over and kiss them. But Rory couldn't do that. It was wrong.

Or was it so wrong it was right?

Rory worried her bottom lip, trying to quell the urges that were coursing through her. It would be so easy to do it. And he was asleep, after all. It wasn't as though he would ever have to know.

Emboldened by her lack of sleep and her growing desire for him, Rory crawled over to his side of the blanket until she was right next to him. There was no turning back now, not when she was so close to the prize. Slowly, Rory closed the gap, inches rapidly decreasing until….

Until she snapped out of it. What was she doing? She pulled back, feeling empty. Rory had almost kissed him, almost felt that tingling sensation that comes with kissing someone like Tristan, but her happiness was dashed by the reality of one simple fact.

He wouldn't be kissing her back.

Tristan was asleep. He wouldn't feel what she felt. He would never know it happened.

Why had she thought that this was a good idea? It must have been the sleep deprivation. Otherwise, she would never even think of doing something so forward, so presumptuous. What if he had woken up to find her hovering over him, with her mouth against his?

As if things weren't awkward enough between them. Sure, they had talked things out, but their relationship was still up in the air. Would they be able to get back on track? But then, did Rory want their relationship on the same track? Was it possible for them to have something more than a tentative friendship?

This was stupid. What was she doing? Rory slowly shrunk back, trying not to disturb Tristan as she slunk back to her own side, wanting nothing more than to just forget that this ever happened.

She was almost home free when her foot smacked into his knee. Rory held her breath for a moment, cursing under her breath when he opened his eyes slowly. Tristan looked around for a minute, trying to acclimate himself to the unfamiliar surroundings and nighttime company.

"Rory?" He yawned. "What are you doing still up?"

"I… I was just thinking." She answered lamely.

"About what?"

Rory hesitated, not knowing what to say. How exactly was she supposed to explain what had gone through her mind just moments before? How was she supposed to explain how she was feeling? How was she to explain what she wanted?

"Don't let him win." What? Where had that come from? Of all the things that she could say, should say in this situation, that was the best that Rory could come up with?

Obviously, Tristan felt the same way. His brow knitted together in confusion, his eyes searching for a better explanation. "Don't give up on becoming a doctor." She amended, hoping to make more sense.

His eyebrows rose, clearly surprised that she knew something he hadn't admitted to a single soul. "How did you know I was thinking about that?"

"I didn't know for sure. But last year, when Mitchum Huntzberger told me I couldn't hack it, I came really, really close to giving up on everything. If my mom and Luke hadn't sat me down and made me see things more clearly, I would have just given in. I would have given up on the dream I've had since childhood." Rory went on, trying to make him see what she had been so reluctant to see herself less than a year ago.

"Yeah, but you at least have people in your corner."

"So do you."

"No, I don't. My dad thinks that I'm a disgrace. My mother is so drunk most of the time that she doesn't know which school I attend, and my Grandfather—,"

"Just because your grandfather didn't say anything doesn't mean that he doesn't believe in you." Rory said firmly. "Don't put words in his mouth. He didn't say that he thought that medicine was a waste of time. He didn't say that you were bringing shame to your family."

"But—,"

"And even if he did believe it, it doesn't matter." Rory said, a finality in her voice that he was unable to ignore. "If he can't see what a great guy you are, how smart, how funny, how amazingly talented, then screw him! You don't need him. You don't need anything but yourself."

"Why do you care so much?" Tristan asked her. Her impassioned pleas for him to stay on track were surprising. It wasn't like her to be so direct, especially with him. She would roll her eyes when he talked about the things that he did on the weekends, but they never really spoke of subjects this heavy on a regular basis. So it was slightly startling to have her react this way about him. Rory was a casual friend, but she was talking to him as if she was more than that.

But then, maybe she was. It was no secret that Tristan wanted her. It had never been a secret. He had made his intentions known to her from the moment they met five years ago. And over the past few months, she had become more than just an acquaintance, or a passing crush. He genuinely cared for her. And the look in her eyes told him that maybe, just maybe, she felt the same. There was only one way to find out for sure, though. And it was risky. Tristan hoped that the benefit would outweigh the risk of losing her completely.

The moonlight hid the blush from him, but he could tell it was there, staining her cheeks from the way that her eyes cast down slightly and her voice fell a few octaves. He put her on the spot, but she spoke in a firm, quiet tone that cut through him. "Because I was in the same place that you are, and thankfully my mom wouldn't let me quit. And she was right. Because if I had given up without even trying, I would have regretted it for the rest of my life."

"Sometimes it's just easier to admit defeat and move on."

"God! Don't be stupid!" Rory yelled at him, sitting up on the blanket. "Don't just give up on everything. You've worked so hard to get to this point. If you give up now, you'll become all the things your dad thinks you are, and then you'll never be happy, you'll never get to—,"

Before Rory could finish her sentence, Tristan had pulled her to him, fusing their lips together. Whatever shock or indignation she felt was quickly stamped out by the pleasure the kiss brought. Rory gasped for breath when he finally pulled away, quickly bringing him back to her, not wanting to be separated from him for too long.

Where did he learn to kiss like this? Rory thought. Had he been this good in high school? If so, why exactly has she spent so much time fighting their obvious attraction? Everything started to go fuzzy at the edges as Tristan bit her bottom lip, scraping his teeth lightly against it.

The world and all its problems seemed to fade away when Tristan's free hand slipped beneath the hem of her tee shirt to stroke her lower back. Screw the world, Rory decided, shivering with anticipation as Tristan's other hand drew small circles into her stomach at an agonizingly slow pace. Her temperature was skyrocketing as their kiss was bumped up from a strong PG-13 to NC-17. She couldn't breathe, but she didn't care. As long as he didn't stop, she would gladly never breathe again.

His hand was inching its way north, centimeters from closing in on the objects of his desire when Rory shrieked, breaking contact with him. What is she doing? Tristan wondered, his eyes snapping to hers. She pushed up off the ground and broke off into a run, and Tristan finally understood why, getting doused with icy water as well.

Perfect, he thought to himself, getting up and chasing after her. It almost seemed like Candid Camera was going to pop out from behind a tree and announce that the trip from hell was all planned, because surely, things like this didn't really happen to people. They didn't get stranded on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere with their enemy/longtime crush and then drenched in water from a sprinkler system on a time clock just when things were starting to heat up. He didn't care though. At least this time, it didn't seem like Rory was running from him, and that mattered more to him than being wet in his clothes, his biggest pet peeve. If everything went the way he wanted, neither of them would be wearing these sopping articles for very long.

Rory had headed back to the Escalade. Shivering from her soaked clothing, she searched the back of the car for her suitcase, teeth chattering while she went to pull out dry clothing. She was just about to extract a pair of track pants from her overflowing bag when Tristan spun her around, obviously having different ideas of how she could get warm after her icy shower when he opened the door to the second seat, quickly pushing her in before following suit.

He grabbed her hands, and before she realized his intent she was sprawled across his lap and he had freed her long dark locks from the confines of her ponytail. Tristan pulled her in for a kiss, and she darted her tongue out, seeking entrance to his mouth. His hands slipped under her clammy T-shirt until they were at the edge of her bra, and she could almost feel the heat of his hands enveloping her breasts, though he had yet to touch them. She slipped her own hand beneath his T-shirt and moaned his name when his lips moved to her neck.

His hands shifted to squeeze her breasts gently through the silky material covering them. Tristan quickly unfastened her bra and pushed it aside so his hands and fingers could tease her creamy bare skin. It was far from the first time someone touched her breasts, but with Tristan everything seemed different, more passionate. "Oh God, Rory. You're so soft," he moaned in her ear. His lips came back to hers for another long kiss; more intense than any she'd ever shared with anyone previously.

Her hands were busy traveling over his body when she pulled back to look at him. She hesitated briefly, during which she realized she wanted him more than she had ever wanted anyone, even Logan. She pulled her T-shirt and bra off and flung them into the front of the car, the smack of the wet cloth hitting glass barely registering. Taking the initiative, she took his T-shirt off so it could join hers on the floor. His chest and abs made Brad Pitt's look like yesterdays news. "I love your body," she gasped.

With reverence, he traced her curves. He stared at her breasts for a few moments before finally meeting her eyes. Rory had no idea what it was about men and breasts but she was glad he didn't seem disappointed in hers. "Yours isn't so bad either. You are so damn beautiful."
Leaning forward, his mouth replaced one of his hands on her breast, gently sucking the nipple, batting it playfully with his tongue. She couldn't keep herself from crying out, and she arched her torso closer to him. The tugging sensation of his mouth on her breasts was unlike anything she had ever experienced with her other lovers. His mouth moved to her other breast, repeating his actions. The familiar tugging lower down her body doubled.

Rory could feel herself growing wet as she rocked her lower half against him. She relished the sensations going through her as Tristan responded by grinding himself against her. She felt as if her spine were composed of Jell-O as she bent back in pleasure and his lips traveled down her torso, creating a map of sorts on her skin, hitting several of her pleasure points.

She could feel herself being tugged and kissed roughly as Tristan flipped them over with Rory laying beneath him on the backseat. His hand seemed to leave a trail of fire as it traveled down to the button of her jeans, where it hesitated. Rory lifted her hips toward his hand to let him know she wanted this, and with a few hard tugs, the damp denim was removed from her body.
His hand slid underneath her panties, removing them as well. Tristan digits slid down to where he could feel how wet she really was. He used her own moisture to lubricate his fingers before moving his hand to torment the nub at her opening. Rory was unable to keep her eyes from closing, and her breath was nothing but a few ragged gasps when Tristan bent his mouth over to cover her breast. Her head lolled from side to side, and her body lifted closer to his hands. The sensations caused by his mouth and his fingers left her unable to think about anything else. Rory wasn't sure which of the overwhelming sensations to concentrate on first.

When he kissed her again she took the opportunity to unbuckle his belt and pants, dipping her hand down the front of his jeans to cup him. "What about your boxers?" she whispered in the dim dawn light.

"In a minute." She wondered why he was dawdling, but soon Rory was too lost in the sensations of his hands sliding across her smooth skin to ask any more questions. Rory's own hands were all over his body, cupping him through his boxers, squeezing his butt, tracing the muscles on his back. She heard him moan with pleasure and wondered if the sensations he experienced were as intense as her own.

"Do you trust me?" She nodded, and he kissed her again, pulling her into a sitting position against the champagne leather. Soon his hand was back between her legs and she could feel the moisture and heat swelling. Rory shivered, knowing what he was up to as Tristan's lips kissed their way down her body and he kneeled in front of her on the seat. How he managed to accomplish this feat was beyond her. The Escalade was a roomy car, but Rory hadn't realized that it would be able to comfortably fit his six-foot frame in the narrow space before her. And to think she had argued that they would have been better off taking her Prius. Rory chuckled, thinking of trying to cram Tristan into the small space of her backseat as she watched him part her legs and drew her almost off the seat. Kissing the inside of both of her thighs he placed them over his shoulders and slid his hands under her, drawing her closer.

The grin Tristan shot her could only be described as deliciously wicked before he moved forward and suddenly his mouth was on a place a better man had never been. Her body jumped from the new touch but the pleasure overtook her nerves. Rory was drowning in the sensations as he touched her with his hands his mouth…doing things to her she'd only heard of and dreamed about. Louise had told her once that Tristan was amazing at giving head. At the time, she had blushed and told her that she shouldn't say those kinds of things, especially in school.

But secretly, Rory had been curious about what it would have been like. Now she knew there were no adequate words to describe what Tristan was doing to her. Rory wondered if Louise had had this great pleasure herself, or if she had picked it up through the Chilton grapevine. Not that it mattered now, as high school had been over a long time ago. Time and experience had added a perspective to their situation that Rory wouldn't have had at the time. All those years ago, she hadn't realized what Tristan really meant, at least not until he was gone.

Back in high school, Rory probably would have been terrified by the multitude of feelings as she clutched frantically at the headrest, his hair, anything within reaching distance. Rory knew she had lost all control as wave after wave hit her, until she heard her voice screaming his name. Her body continued to shake as he soothed her and came back to sit next to her. He kissed her and pulled her tightly to him, his hands moving gently up and down her back.

When she was finally able to open her eyes, Tristan was smiling at her and simply said hi, but Rory was in no mood for pleasantries. She pushed him back onto the seat as he had done to her earlier, and climbed on top of him. Kissing him deeply, Rory's hands pushed his boxers down, freeing him from his cotton confines. He was already standing at attention, ready to go. Smirking at him, she rubbed herself against his shaft, teasing him. Seeing Tristan's eyes roll back into his head from the torture was definitely a sight she could stand to relive a few more times, she thought evilly, but decided that it would be much more pleasurable for both of them if she granted him mercy.

She slid him inside of her on the next pass over him. The feeling was indescribable. Rory hadn't been with anyone since Logan, and that had been months ago, before he left for greener pastures; ready to double his fun with the trampy twins he brought along to accompany him. She bit her lip, getting used to the feeling of being one with him, adjusting to the size of his length. Her mother always said that width was better than length, but Rory hadn't discovered that the best combination of all was to meld the two together, having the best of both worlds.

Tristan placed a hand on each of her cheeks, squeezing gently to bring her back to him. Rory had always liked being on top. She was usually more submissive, going with the flow, letting other's lead her, but behind closed doors, Rory found that she liked to call some of the shots. Slowly, she began to move, her hips gyrating in a figure eight pattern she had read about in one of those girly magazines that had things like 'Best Bathing Suit For Your Bust Size' on the front cover. Tristan groaned, and she picked up the pace, letting more and more of his length slip inside of her wet heat as her strokes grew faster.

Their eyes stayed locked the entire time. Tristan had never done that with anyone before. The fact that this intimacy didn't freak him out surprised him. It was no secret that he was not the type to stay with one person for too long, and while he was known to take many girls into his bed, this was first time in his long career as a lothario that he felt a connection like this with another person. In fact, the fact that this wasn't freaking him out was kind of freaking him out. He snapped out of this quickly when Rory swiveled her hips again.

She was near the end, Tristan could feel it. Never one to leave a partner out in the cold, he reached forward to lend a helping hand. With a few swipes at her clit, Rory's muscles contracted around him, her climax sending him over the edge as well. She fell forward, collapsing against his tanned, muscular chest, her damp hair fanning out in clumps on his skin. He moved a strand from her eyes, smiling at her. Rory smiled back and grabbed his hand. This was right around the time that Tristan usually would feel the need to bail, but with Rory, he realized, there was no place that he would rather be.

--&--

"So what happens now?"

Rory looked over at him. They were back on the road again, only another hour away from their destination. It had been a wild ride, but she didn't really want their road trip to end. His question made her nervous. They hadn't spoken much since they had sex. As soon as they had gotten dressed again, a groundskeeper had shown up to tend to the park's spring plantings. He had helped Tristan fix the Escalade, and within forty-five minutes they were back on the road.

"What do you mean?"

"Not to go all girly on you, but what are we? Friends? Bitter enemies?"

"Are those are only options?" Rory wrinkled her nose, not keen on either one.

"Well, we could always go for door number three."

"And what do you see behind door number three?" Rory asked, a small smile turning the corners of her mouth.

"I see what just happened happening a lot more."

"Do you really think we can handle that?" She bit her lip, not wanting to relive the past few weeks again any time soon.

"Well, I know I can't handle not seeing you." Tristan admitted. "And I don't want to be friends."

"Me either. But do you think we can handle being together? We couldn't even handle being friends without screaming at each other." Rory voiced her fears.

"But now all the energy we used to spend fighting will be put to much better use." Tristan smirked, a Technicolor image of Rory only hours earlier flashing across his mind.

"You mean getting an A on the Chemistry final?" Rory teased, laughing at the face he made.

"Funny."

"So you actually think we can do this?" Rory asked, getting serious again.

"Of course we can." Tristan answered confidently. "We have too much chemistry to fail."

"I'm sure Professor Tartaglia will be thrilled to hear it!" Rory quipped, slipping her hand into his free one, happily looking ahead onto the road ahead.


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