AN: Yes, I'm still alive haha. To any one who is still reading this story, thanks for sticking it out. I am making an honest effort to update more, I swear. As for anyone who has asked about Tristan's intentions, I guess you'll just have to see ;).


11. Hi, Stars Hollow: Small Town Charm Has Nothing On The DuGrey Charm


As I drove Rory home after our little near death experience with the hermit in the castle, a thought occurred to me. "Rory, is your mom oblivious or just ridiculously neglectful?"

"What are you on about?"

"This is like the third time you've been out all night."

"Oh. Well, my mom actually got back together with her boyfriend the day we got together. She's been sleeping over a lot, and I just tell her I'm at Lane's."

We were entering the town limits of Stars Hollow now. It was fast becoming a route I knew by habit. "Who's Lane?"

"You know, the girl who I brought to Madeline's party. My best friend."

"Mmm. I don't believe I've met this girl. Is she all lamb-like and book-reading like you?"

"Her mom's an intensely traditional Korean so she's kind of a rebel actually." Rory smiled. "You'll have to meet her sometime."

"What, the hardcore mother?"

She smacked my arm lightly. "My best friend, you doofus."

"Oh, what's this, you're getting over your phase of being embarrassed to be seen with me are you?"

"You are an eye sore, but it's only fair that Lane gets to meet the person she's been covering for the last two weeks." Rory grinned.

I chuckled. "All right, whatever you deem as the course of action."

"Great. So, turn left here."

"Rory, I know my sexiness incapacitates your ability to think, but your house is straight."

"I know. We're going to Lane's."

I stared at her, startled. "You meant you wanted us to meet now?"

"Tristan, we slept in the back of your car for five hours. It's almost ten. You can't drop me off at home without making it very clear that I wasn't coming from Lane's."

"Oh, so you saying you wanted us to meet was just your way of sneakily cajoling me into helping you keep your alibi." I turned left as she indicated.

"Okay, turn right after the stop light and pull up on the curb next to the candy shop. And maybe you have it backwards, maybe I figured having you help me keep my alibi is a convenient way to have you meet my best friend." Rory grinned.

I followed her directions and pulled the car to a stop next to a kitschy candy store. We both got out of the car, and I looked at her expectantly.

"Okay, now we walk a block that way."

I rolled my eyes. "Is it really that conspicuous to actually have me park my car in front of where we're going for once?"

"Yes." She shrugged, laughing. "Everything about you is conspicuous."

I slipped my arm around her waist and nuzzled her neck, "You can't hide the awesomeness."

Rory squirmed out of my grasp with a giggle and looked around to make sure no one was watching us. "Tristan, try to behave."

"Okay, okay. I keep forgetting your whole no-touching-in-Stars-Hollow rule." I held my hands up in apology.

"It's just a really small town and…"

"Nah. I get it. I'm not one to introduce to mom and pop." This wasn't news to me. "And that's fine by me."

"Yeah because it's such an embarrassment being a Dugrey." Rory rolled her eyes. She gestured to the alley beside us and stopped walking. "Um, so like I said, Lane's mom is really strict. So I'll just have her meet us here." She fished out her phone and told her friend to come outside. Once she hung up, she whirled around nervously, "Tristan… I forgot to mention that Lane doesn't know about…how far we've gone and I don't want to just blurt it out-"

"Worried she'll suggest a threesome?"

Rory turned red and laughed incredulously, smacking my arm just as a vaguely familiar looking Asian girl popped up around the corner.

"Hey!" Rory grinned brightly, trying to hide the fact that she was flustered by my comment. "Is my mom home yet?"

"Nope, you're in the clear for her, though it's good you came here first. Babette's taken to early morning gardening." She answered. She then turned to me with an interested grin, "So, this is Tristan-devil-spawn, I take it?"

I raised my eye brows in amusement, "Rory honestly refers to me as the devil spawn?"

"She used to." Lane said knowingly, "But I promise that her names have been more favourable lately."

"Ooh, what has the lady been saying about me?"

"Well, I'd have to agree with her telling me how cute you are."

Rory elbowed Lane in the side. "Shhh! You're killing me here. He'll tease me about this for days, you know." She sent me a warning look, somehow knowing exactly from the expression on my face that I was thinking right back to my threesome comment.

"It's okay Mary, I always knew you thought I was sexy." I laughed. I turned back to Lane and asked, "So, do I satisfy the qualifications required to be a pursuer of Rory?"

"You're definitely different than Dean." She said thoughtfully.

"Aw, thank you." I grinned. "I appreciate that."

Rory rolled her eyes. "Lane and Dean are friends, Tristan."

"Hey, no I didn't mean that in a bad or a good way, really. You're just different."

"It's all right, it's just us, you can say it- Rory upgraded." I winked.

"There actually is something I've always wanted to say," Lane answered, "She's my best friend. You break her heart and I'll break your face."

I was startled and amused by this. Wrapping an arm around Rory's shoulders, I said mock-solemnly that I'd do my best.

"No really, we'll break your face." Rory said cheerfully, patting my chest. "No matter how cute it may be."

I laughed and soon after we went our separate ways, Lane and Rory went off to hang out and I headed back to my car. It was funny, I really had never had any one tell me the break her heart/I'll break your face thing before- which was surprising given my track record I guess. Although after hearing about how the whole town blacklisted Bag Boy after he and Rory broke up, I'm pretty sure Stars Hollow would burn me at the stake if I broke the heart of their angel child.

And listen, it'd be a downright lie if I said I had never broken someone's heart, but the truth is I do honestly try to avoid that if possible. It's true that I relish being a cocky douche bag, but I don't relish causing other people pain- especially in girls who've done nothing but let themselves care about me. So, no, hurting Rory was not in my game plan. But neither was falling for her. So I guess it's either one or the other, isn't it?

I don't do serious things, okay? I've never been in a relationship that lasted more than like two months… hell, I've never really been in a real relationship period. I'm too distracted, too careless, too exuberant. I'll admit it, I'm easily bored.

And I promised her it was different this time and that wasn't a lie- I do care about Rory. I do. But I'm not the kind of guy that could care about her as much as she needs, as much as she would want me to.

I get bored and I don't want to get bored of her. What I've quickly realized is that this girl is different. She is pure. I don't want to ruin that.

I've never been the kind of person to think too far ahead, but because I truly don't want to hurt her, I'm kind of forced to think ahead.

Right now, things are so fun and so good that it feels like a dream. I just don't want to turn into the villain here. Is Rory capable of having a fling? Was I stupid to even entertain the idea?

Was I selfish to sleep with a girl like her in the first place?

A voice I had rarely from before spoke up inside of me that because she was different, maybe I could be different. Maybe I would be different. She had done things she had never thought she would before because of me. Wasn't it possible that she could have the same affect on me? Christ, it was already happening. In all my fantasies of being with her before, it had been about sex, it had been about constant sex…and occasionally I'd entertain the idea of how interesting actual dates would be but never in my delusions had I bothered to think up scenarios where I played the dutiful boyfriend. I don't know if I have it in me to be that guy.

Rory's best friend had said it herself- I am no Dean. I'm not a golden retriever. Rory says she knows that and expects nothing, but I too say that I get that she's not the hook-up type. She swore she wouldn't take us too seriously and I swore I wouldn't take us too lightly. Someone is bound to get hurt in this situation.

I pulled my car back into my garage after the drive home drained the rest of my energy. I had been getting around my whole lack of money issue in relation to gas by simply taking turns on which car I used on my outings. I recognized that this wasn't exactly a practical plan for the long run and eventually I'd just have a lot full of cars running on nearly empty, but I was banking on the hope that the drivers or other help that regularly used the cars would notice the low tank and fill them up, sending the bill to my father.

I shrugged off my coat and made a beeline for my room. A few hours of sleep in the back of a car was not a good nights rest. Lying in my bed made me think about how nice it'd be to have Rory's warmth near me again. I realized that she was right, we had never done the deed on a bed. After the first night, we had actually never fallen asleep together afterwards either. This struck me as oddly cold and I made a note to change that.

That was step one in not treating someone like a friends-with-benefits, right? Having them actually sleep over? I liked the idea of that a whole hell of a lot. I loved waking up with a girl next to me, always had. I mean, I dig the random hook up in q random place a lot too, but there was something intimate about the sleep over. I loved morning sex, I loved shower sex, I loved eating breakfast together, and I loved dropping them off afterwards. And I loved the idea of doing that all with Rory. Regularly.

God, every time I have thoughts like this I have to wonder if I'm just scared of the fact that I do give a rat's ass about her. If my thinking about the future with unease is just me running from something that's so uncharted it freaks me out. Maybe in the way girls justify a hook up as meaning more, I'm so dysfunctional and determined to be flippant that I'm trying to justify something with meaning and make it into something less.

Flopping onto my bed, I sighed and sent Rory a text letting her know that she was completely killing me.

What do you mean? :P

You know what you're doing, you vixen.

I'm in a library, so I hope you're not being dirty again :P

Hmm. I'm in bed right now ;)

Lol, go to sleep then?

Wish you were here.

Five minutes later, my phone started vibrating, indicating that she was calling me. I grinned. "Had to hear my sexy voice, huh?"

"I hate texting." She said. "It's a ridiculous waste of time. But you're obviously a ridiculously needy attention whore, so I thought I'd throw you a bone."

"Ha ha. You know, I was just thinking that we had to have a proper sleep over with you at my house sometime soon but just for that, maybe I'll just invite some porn stars instead."

"I'm sure you'll be calling out Mary regardless." Rory answered. I could hear the eye rolling.

"I am serious though. You should totally sleep here again sometime."

"Your bed is stupidly comfortable."

"Or, we could wait til your mom's out again and sleep at your place. I've never woken up in Stars Hollow."

"What, you want to?"

"I just want to wake up with you, babe." I grinned. A pleased silence was her response. I shook off my shoes and yanked off my jeans. "And just so you know, I'm stripping right now."

"How descriptive of you." She laughed.

"Isn't it though? K, I'm gonna sleep, you go read, we'll have to pencil in a day for me crashing your house for a night sometime soon."

"Okay."

I started to hang up, when Rory added, "It's nice hearing your voice, Tristan."

I laughed, "Yeah, because you haven't heard it in so long."

"Maybe I like phone calls with you."

"Do I have a sexy voice?"

"I think it'd be a chore finding something of yours that isn't." Rory chuckled.

"Mmm, I like hearing that." I grinned.

"Don't let it go to your head."

"You think I'm sexy." I teased. "Impossible to ignore sexy."

"Hey, do you snore?"

"Negative, m'am. Do you?"

"I wouldn't know."

"I'll have to make sure I fall asleep after you next time, then, cutie. Now go, shoo, you're neglecting your best friend."

"Stop texting me!" She ordered. "Or I'll have to call you again and suck up huge amounts of time."

"I dig our bantering. We're brilliantly funny, witty people."

"Go to bed, Tristan."

"That was kind of hot. Say it again." I smirked and laid down on my bed comfortably.

"Bye, Tristan."

"Ooh. Just say my name again."

She laughed and said good bye again.

"See ya Mary."

I threw my phone down to charge and fell asleep with a smile on my face.

xXx

A few nights later, Rory and I had take out on her couch as we watched some hilariously horrible Japanese horror movie. I changed into my favourite sleep clothes afterwards, which was worth it just for the look of surprise on her face.

"You're actually sleeping in something other than boxers?"

"Sleep over, right?" I shrugged. "Plus, didn't you want to save sex in a bed for something special? I figured maybe we could actually just sleep tonight. Besides, sex always knocks me right out and I want to find out if you snore or not."

"I never know what to expect with you." She smiled.

"That's the beauty of it all, isn't it? Now get into your least sexy pyjamas or I might change my mind about a night of abstinence."

"I'll try not to tempt you." She laughed.

As she settled into my chest later that night, I had to smile at how good it all felt. I had never done this before, never just slept in the same bed as a girl. It reminded me of how much I used to love hotels as a kid, sleeping in a different bed, a different place. You could see the stars filtering in through the window and I felt more at home here than I did in my own house.

God, I hope I don't fuck this up.

"So don't."

I looked down in surprise, "I didn't know I said that outloud."

"You're a good guy. And I want to say that I trust you. And I want you to trust you, too."

I smiled and kissed her forehead, watching as she closed her eyes and started to drift off into sleep. But I didn't trust myself not to ruin this. I never did do things that were good for me. I had an addiction to poisoning myself; I got a rush from it that I lived for. This girl might be what I need to change myself for the better, but I wondered if that was even possible. We were two people who were never meant to be together, and yet this didn't feel forced.

I hoped her faith in me would go further than my doubt in us.

xXx

I woke up the next day to find Rory sitting propped against the head board, reading.

I blinked groggily at her and glanced at the clock. It was only eight.

"You really are an early riser, huh?" I half groaned against the slivers of the light filtering through her blinds. I noticed that I had next to no blanket covering me. "…And you're a blanket hog."

"You just like to be sleep with as little covering you as possible, I swear." Rory shrugged, grinning. "So, do I snore?"

I thought for a second. "Nope." I kissed her forehead affectionately.

"Good." She put her book away. "Hey, so I'm starving, but I thought it would be rude to leave while you were asleep- I'm going to go pick up some food okay? Be back in ten minutes, tops."

She kissed me on the lips before slipping out from under the covers.

"Bring me back coffee?"

"Like that even had to be said." Rory laughed.

I let my head fall back to the pillow as I heard the soft click of the front door closing behind her but fought against the urge to fall asleep again. I realized this was the first time I was alone in the Gilmore house and I could explore and satisfy my curiosities. This train of thought struck me as rather obnoxious as soon as the possibility occurred to me and I felt a vague pang of disgust at myself. Never the less, I sat up and ran a hand over my face to rub the sleepiness out of it.

I peeked out the window and stumbled back quickly- my half asleep eyes had locked onto the passing gaze of a middle aged lady out watering flowers. I tripped against Rory's shelf in surprise and fell to the floor with a loud thump, cursing my clumsiness and hoping the woman thought her eyes were just playing tricks on her.

I waited a moment for the trumpeting of sirens that would signal I had been seen and discovered, but when the horde of out raged townies failed to barge through the door, I took a breath, mentally slapped myself for being a little bitch, and turned on some music quietly.

I padded over to Rory's small bathroom and took a piss before splashing some water on my face. I bent over the sink with my eyes closed and when I re-opened them, the first thing I saw in the mirror was the very same set of eyes belonging to the very same woman I had seen a few minutes earlier. It took me a fraction of a second to register what I was really seeing.

Letting out a freaked out yowl, I slammed my hand against the faucet in shock as water stung my eyes.

"AUGHHH!"

The woman screamed just as I did; there we stood in the Gilmore's tiny bathroom, staring each other down and just shrieking.

"WHO ARE YOU?"

I was thanking God that I had chosen to wear clothes to bed the night before.

"Um, m'am, I know this is a startling thing to walk in on-"

"I'M CALLING THE POLICE!"

"NO! I'm a friend of Rory's, I swear!"

At that moment, I heard Rory run in and again thanked whatever God that exists.

"Babette!" Rory blurted out, looking panic stricken. She had two coffees and a bag from Luke's diner in her hands and Babette eyed the items with a mixture of accusation and excitement.

"You know this boy?"

"Yeah, he…" Rory fumbled for some sort of explanation.

"Uh, my car battery ran out the night before when we were studying together so I slept on the couch." I quickly jumped in.

Rory sent me a thoroughly thankful look as Babette's flashing eyes went down a notch. "So you two are friends?"

"Yeah, we go to Chilton together." I said, still a bit breathless.

"I'm tutoring him and he doesn't want anyone to know so that's why we were studying here." Rory added, a little quickly.

I sent her a look that I hoped conveyed the message of shut up, I've got this.

The woman eyed us silently for a very tense moment and then broke out into a warm smile. "Ohhh, okay! I'm Babette. I don't think I caught your name, handsome."

My heart stopped ramming itself against my rib cage and I smiled my easy smile. "It's Tristan, m'am. My name's Tristan Dugrey."

"Oh look at you, all the way down from Hartford just to tune up your grades. Isn't that just so swell, Rory?"

"It is, so swell, that's what he is." Rory rambled.

I mentally winced at Rory's obvious nerves but mustered every ounce of charm I had and held out my hand to Babette. "It's very nice to meet you," I smiled.

She shook my hand enthusiastically and we made our way into the kitchen with her talking speedily about how she was out watering her gardenias when she swore she saw a pair of eyes staring back at her from Rory's room, which didn't make sense since she knew Lorelai was out and had just seen Rory walk out the front door.

Imagine her fright when she saw a strange ('And don't take that in the wrong way, sugar, by strange I mean strangely good looking, at least in Stars Hollow, not that Dean wasn't very handsome now Rory, I'm just saying it's a small town and selection is slim') boy in the bathroom, acting like he lived there.

Babette was wandering towards the living room and sensing that she was going to sit down and settle for a while, I put my hand on her back and lightly guided her towards the door instead. "I'm so sorry for worrying you, m'am."

"I thought a burgler had snuck in, or worse." She sent a significant look to Rory and winked at me. "But oh, Lorelai must like you very much Tristan to let you sleep here when she's out of town."

Oh, shit.

"Um, well, my mom, she's, um…"

"Well, the thing is, like I said, I really wasn't planning on sleeping here but my car battery died and it was so late already when it happened, or I would have called to ask her if it was all right if I could stay. But since it was so late, I thought it'd be really rude and worrisome to bother her, I mean I knew I was going to be leaving early any ways."

"Oh." Babette's grin diminished just minutely. "Well, I'll be sure to tell her what a good boy you are next time I see her, tell her not to worry one bit."

"Thank you," I forced a grin, "But really, I don't want to get Rory in trouble. I mean, it took some convincing to have her tutor me since she's so busy and everything and I don't want her mom to get mad at her or anything for not asking if I could crash.'

"Yeah, I mean, if he couldn't come over here to get tutored any more, there's really no where else we could do it and he'll fail and drop out and that would be terrible, just horribly horrible." Rory mumbled.

"And Rory doesn't like me all that much, so I'd really rather not give her another excuse to dislike me." I chuckled. "Believe me, she half wanted me to sleep in my car last night."

"True, so true." Rory nodded fervently.

"…Would you like a croissant?" I injected pleasantly.

"Oh you're such a nice boy," Babette beamed. "Don't you worry son, I won't tell a soul I saw you here. You're much too cute to be a high school drop out." She looked at Rory and stage whispered, "How could you not like him? Making him sleep in his car, honestly, I'd have him right next to me cozy in bed."

I laughed and waved cheerfully at her as she finally started walking out the door.

"See you later, Rory," Babette said, still looking at me.

"See you later, Babette." Rory tried to smile but her voice was shaking.

As soon as she closed the door, Rory slid down to the floor and covered her face. "Oh my God oh my God, OH MY GOD."

"That was fucking close." I let out a long breath and sat down next to her.

"Too close, Tristan." Her hands were shaking.

I wrapped my arms around her. "Hey, it's okay."

She started to pull away from me. "No, no it's not. My neighbour saw you in your pyjamas in my house alone, that's not okay."

I put my arm around her again, coaxingly. "Babe, it's all right. We diffused the situation." I kissed her neck.

I felt her relax slightly in my arms. "You were really good there." She admitted. "Experience, I guess?"

"Yeah, I guess." I brushed it off.

"For once, I'm glad." Rory laughed, and nestled into my chest. "God, I really hope she doesn't tell anyone."

"She said she wouldn't."

"You don't know Babette." Rory said wryly.

"Do you want me to go?" I asked after a moment of silent thinking between the two of us.

"No." She paused. "But you probably should."

We stood up and I took my breakfast to go. "I'll see you soon. Call me if you need me to charm us out of suspicion again." I grinned.

"Maybe we should just stick to hanging out at your place." Rory shook her head.

"Aw but I do love this town."

"And I'm sure this town will love you. Probably too much."

"No such thing."

We kissed each other affectionately. "Bye babe."

"Bye, devil spawn."

"Hey, I saved us in there."

"I know." Rory grinned and kissed me again. "Like I said, you're good."

"Damn right I'm good." I slipped my arms around her waist and kissed her sensually, capturing her lower lip between both of mine, sucking lightly on it until I heard the slight moan escape her. Her hands clung to my back, her fingers digging into the muscles.

"Bye Mary." I smirked.

"Devil. Spawn." She faux-glared at me, a smirk sneaking up on the corners of her lips.

I was smiling as I walked out the door, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't see Babette eyeing me from behind her flowers and I'd be lying if I said she wasn't on the phone with a gigantic grin on her face.

I'd be lying if I said I didn't see the other neighbour peeking out from behind the curtains, a phone visible in her hands as well.

I'd be lying if I said I didn't know that at that exact moment, secrecy was forever broken.

But I'd also be lying if I said I had realized just how out in the open things were about to get.