-------------------------------------------

You've got a friend in me
If you've got troubles, I've got 'em too
There isn't anything I wouldn't do for you
We stick together and can see it through
Cause you've got a friend in me
You've got a friend in me

-Randy Newman

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Part 6: You've Got a Friend in Me

Serena stood in the middle of the dorm room, the last of the clothes she'd thrown around being packed. Colin had interfered once again, and it was starting to piss her off. Colin never came to her rescue anymore, so why the hell did he continue going to Rory's? She hated not being the center of his universe anymore, and hated that Rory seemed to have taken that spot.

"No," she heard Nate laugh from the common room, where he'd been painting, watching her pack her stuff from the corner of his eye. "I'm pretty sure I can kick Rory out of the room for the night so we can have a poker night." She watched him nod and laugh again. "Yeah, I'll clear the paintings to make room, just bring over your poker table, and I'll get Rory to do some shopping, and make sure we have some eats… No, no, it's Paul's turn to do the beers runs."

She tuned out and tapped her fingers in her chin in thought. Nate was kicking her out, huh? "Not if I kick her out first," Serena said to herself quietly. Looked like making Rory's life miserable was back to entertaining.

XxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxX

"Where is he?" Rory asked, rushing into Cupid's Psyche and dropping her messenger bag near the bar. Tristan looked over at her slowly while Finn smirked. Rory looked at them with a frown. Tristan's look was closed off while Finn's smirk wasn't quite as full as it usually was. "He didn't leave, did he?" She asked, worried that she'd missed him.

"No," a voice coming from the office said. "I'm right here."

"Oh Colin," Rory said going over to him and hugging him. "Oh, you look like crap."

Colin snorted. "Thanks, Ror."

She touched his cheek. "I came over to thank you. She was out by the time I got out of my last class like promised. So thank you for coming to my rescue, yet again."

"Sure," Colin nodded, pulling away from her embrace and sitting at the bar next to Tristan.

Rory frowned at him and turned. "This is where you say, 'You're welcome, Rory, but don't expect me to do it again' or 'No problem, Rory, anything to get Serena out of your hair."

"Whisky," Colin said looking at Finn and avoiding Rory.

"I don't serve yet, mate, you're going to have to wait or serve yourself with the boss's permission."

Colin looked at Tristan expectantly who sighed. "Colin, man, just take it easy."

Colin nodded leaning over and grabbing the decanter of whisky from its usual position as well as a glass and took it upstairs to the higher level of the club.

"Colin," Rory whispered, trying to grab his arm, but he skirted around her and continued walking. She looked at the two men looking over at him. "What happened to him?"

Tristan hesitated. "Well, we sort of pried and he told us about Serena."

Rory sat next to Tristan at the bar as Finn leaned in. "So, he's told a lot of people about him and Serena."

Fin bit his lip before looking at Rory. "He told us everything, love."

Rory hesitated this time, looking between Tristan and Finn. "Everything?"

"From start to finish," Tristan nodded.

"So he told you, guys, what Serena made me do?" She whispered.

"You were young, Rory, it's not your fault," Tristan started.

She shook her head. "The thing that hurts most is that I was positive the baby was Colin's," she whispered. "But she didn't want to lose him if it wasn't."

Finn sighed. "Your life seems like it was hell."

Rory scoffed. "If there were anything worse than hell, that would be my life." She looked at the top story, ready to go up and talk to Colin when her cell phone rang. Taking it out of her pocket, she smiled when she saw it was Nate. "Yes?"

"Where are you?" he asked frantically.

"Uh… Cupid's, I told you before I left."

"Rory..." Nate hesitated.

"Oh god, what happened?" she asked, "Jess? Steph? Are they okay?"

"They're fine, babe," Nate said quickly. "But… An administrator came to the dorm today."

Rory frowned. "What?"

"He didn't say much, but he sort of looked around, and he lingered pretty long looking into your room."

"Who would-" she trailed off, knowing exactly just who would tip off administrators to her living with Nate. "Serena."

"She did leave pretty happy with herself. She was on the phone for a while, but I was talking to Mike about this weekend, so I really wasn't paying attention."

"I'm on my way," Rory said, "I just have to talk to Colin."

"All right, Rory, if they did find out, this is grounds for expulsion, on both our parts."

"Then it's good we have a clear record, isn't it?" She said before hanging up.

"Everything okay?" Tristan asked.

Rory shrugged. "I'm not sure. Nate thinks administrators might have been tipped off that I'm living with him. I have to go down there in a few minutes. I just need to talk to Colin for a minute." She started going, but Tristan grabbed her arm to pull her back.

"Just let him be for now, Rory, he's hurting."

"I need to talk to him."

"I'm not letting you go up there," Tristan said firmly, keeping her arm in his grasp when she tried to pull away. "He's my friend too, all you're going to do by going up there, is make him remember more, and it's just going to hurt him. Let it go, go deal with your own situation and let Colin brood."

Rory hesitated, looking up at the top layer, before nodding. "Tell him I'll be back. We need to talk."

"We can talk now," Colin said, leaning against the rail.

"Colin!" Tristan warned.

"We talk now," Colin said looking at Rory, "Or not at all." He turned away from the rail and disappeared.

Rory bit her lip, but nodded. "All right." She put Finn in charge of her phone and went up to the top balcony. She saw him sitting at the table against the wall in the darkest corner. She sat across from him and rested a hand on his arm.

"What's up with you?" She asked.

"What do you mean?"

"I mean that whenever you get Serena out of my hair, I come to thank you and every time we have the exact same conversation. You say something along the lines of 'You're welcome' and then start your pacing and your 'Serena is such a bitch' rant which is very similar to your 'Serena is such a slut' rant, both amusing in their own rights."

"I'm tired, Rory," he whispered, playing with his glass before looking at her through bloodshot brown eyes. "So tired of having to save you."

"Excuse me?" She pulled her hand away and sat up straight.

"You have no idea how much it hurts having to call your grandparents to ask them to relocate Serena or how much it hurts having to furnish those fucking apartments for her. Why? Because I'm Colin, the one that knows her best."

"Every time you do it, I thank you."

"A 'thank you' isn't enough anymore, Rory. You're used to asking me to do it, you're used to apologizing to me for having to rehash every single detail of me and Serena by doing this. And now, every time Serena comes to call, you tell me to move her, you remind me to call the grandparents and assume a thank you is enough."

"So you want me to beg?" She asked crossing her arms. "Beg you to do me favors that I know you'd do willingly?"

"The first time I did it, I did it because I felt for you, Rory," he hissed. "I did it because at that moment we both shared the pain that Serena had caused. Now you're taking advantage of me that way Serena did."

"That's not true and you know it," Rory seethed. "Just because I don't stand up to my parents or to my sister doesn't mean I won't stand up to you. I'm not some spineless worm that you can say all this crap to and expect me to take it. Not once have I taken advantage of you the way Serena did, so don't ever compare me to her!' She warned. "I've always made sure you made those calls for me willingly. I don't know the pain it causes you," she mimicked. "Trust me, your pain isn't half of what mine is."

She got up and turned, but his voice rang out through the club, causing her to pause and turn back.

"Bullshit, Rory."

"She looked at him from over her shoulder. "What?"

"Bullshit, you still protect Serena, the way you protected her when I broke up with her."

"No, I don't."

"When you found her at your dorm, you could have very well slammed the door in her face, the way she did you," Colin told her loudly, standing up.

"She said she'd tell my parents that I was living with Nate."

Colin scoffed. "Please and how would that benefit Serena, Rory? Both of you know Lorelai and Chris could care less if you were living with Nate, and could care less about you."

"Shut up." She glared, tears starting to prickle the back of her eyes. "Shut up, Colin, before you say something you're going to regret."

"Serena doesn't care about you or me!" Colin shouted. "So why do you keep going back to her!"

"Because I want her to love me!" Rory shouted, covering her mouth and causing Collin to sit up.

"Rory..." Colin said quietly.

"Leave me alone, Colin," Rory said quickly and quietly as she started walking away. "You got your reason, so just leave me alone." She went back down the stairs, and grabbed her bag and cell phone from Finn.

"Rory..." Tristan said.

She looked up and sighed. They had heard and she hated that they had. "What?" She snapped.

Tristan blinked. "Call if administration found out about you and Nate. You can crash in my guest bedroom," he said slowly, as if thinking about his words.

"Oh." She frowned, having lost her concentration and focus at the curve ball. "Right, well… I will. Call." She frowned and mentally hit her forehead, before she hurried out of the club.

Finn laughed. "Poor girl, she hates when people state the obvious and gets frustrated when they don't." Shaking his head he looked at Tristan. "Think they'll get expelled?"

Tristan shrugged. "Let's hope not. Rory and Nate don't seem to be the people who are troublemakers like we were," he said looking at Finn. "So they should just get a slap on the hand."

Finn nodded, looking over where Colin was brooding, hoping to god Tristan was right.

XxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxX

"Miss Hayden."

Rory turned just as she was putting her key in the lock and sighed. "You're from administration, aren't you?"

The man nodded. "Please follow me."

Rory nodded as she followed the man towards the dean's office. Ten minutes later she found herself sitting next to Nate in front of the dean.

"We heard that for the past two years you've been living with Mr. Harris."

Rory bit her lip and nodded. "I have. I want you to understand, sir, that we had every intention of getting the room assignments fixed when I first started here, but Nate's such a great guy that I couldn't help but befriend and want to live with him."

"While I don't doubt Mr. Harris's wonderful personality, we do have rules here and we do uphold a strict no co-ed rooming. And while we are well aware that you two aren't the only ones who are in this situation, we can't catch them all and we do take action when we have a reason to believe it's happening." He looked down at the folder in front of him. "You and Mr. Harris have an unblemished record, so I'm not expelling you both."

Rory and Nate let out a sigh of relief. "Thank you, sir," Nate said gratefully.

"But I must ask that miss Hayden move out of the dorm room upon finding a new residence. The girls dorms are full, so I'll give you a week to find an apartment, Miss Hayden. I will be checking the room myself on Friday."

Rory bit her lip but nodded. "I understand."

"Good, you may go." The dean waved his hand in dismissal as they got up and started to leave. Rory resisted the urge to ask who had ratted them out. It couldn't have been any of the guys, they all loved her like a sister and had never complained about her being there. She didn't talk to any girls but Stephanie, so she didn't have any enemies in the school that she knew about. Not being able to resist she turned.

"Dean, if I may ask, who told you I was living with Nate?"

"A…" he raised an eyebrow. "I can only assume it's a relation of yours, Serena Hayden?"

"Thank you, sir," she said between clenched teeth.

"You all right?" Nate asked, hugging her close to his side as they walked back to what was now his dorm.

"No," Rory whispered. "I'm going to kick her ass when I see her."

"Ror..."

She shook her head. "Leave it alone, Nate. Tristan offered me his guest room, so I'm just going to pack some clothes and head over there tonight."

"Come on, Ror, you've got a week."

She shook her head as he opened the door to the dorm. "I'm going, Nate. I'll be back tomorrow for the rest of my stuff. You were going to kick me out for the night anyway, right?" She asked looking up at him before going to her room. "It's poker night."

"Steph is going to wonder where you are if you don't show up."

Rory shrugged. "I have stuff to do. I'll call her later and explain."

"I'll start looking for a place, okay, babe? An apartment for the two of us?"

Rory nodded. "I'd like that." She stuffed clothes into an overnight bag. "Have fun tonight."

"You sure you don't need a ride?" Nate asked, worried about her calm demeanor.

"I'm fine, Nate. I'll call Tristan and let him know what's going on. I'll stay in the room, do homework till I go to sleep. I'll see you tomorrow in class, okay?"

Nate nodded slowly. "Okay."

"Okay." She got on her tiptoes, kissed his cheek and started on her way. She got her keys out of her pocket, unlocking the door to her car as she got in. She took out her cell phone and dialed Tristan's number, wanting to make sure it was all right to bunk down for a while before heading out.

XxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxX

"I want to thank you again, Tristan, you didn't have to do this."

"It's what friends are for, Rory," Tristan told her. "Stay as long as you want."

She raised an eyebrow as she sat on the bed. "You're going to get sick of me within the week."

"Doubt it."

She laughed. "You will. Trust me."

"I won't," Tristan assured. "Make yourself at home. I have a limited amount of food in the fridge, I haven't been out to buy food in a while. If you eat anything in particular, write it down and I'll go grab it tomorrow."

"I'm not pickey."

"I... uh… barely cook," Tristan said rubbing the back of his neck in embarrassment. "I usually just go out with Finn and Colin for a bite to eat before we open."

"I can cook," Rory laughed. "How about I go get food tomorrow and I'll cook dinner? It's the least I could do for letting you stay here. Well, that and pay half the rent."

Tristan laughed. "I don't pay rent on this place. It's part of the club, which I own."

"Well, let me pay some sort of fee, Tristan. I may have to stay till the end of the semester. Nate's parents would kill him if he left the dorms now after spending the money on board."

He shrugged. "It's fine, Rory. Like I said, stay as long as you want and need to. If you really feel the need to pay me back, then why don't you cook during the weekdays and get groceries?"

"What about utilities?"

Tristan sighed as he leaned against the door frame and stared at her. "It's all part of the club, the electricity, gas, trash and unfortunately phone, which I am seriously thinking of cutting off, are all part of Cupid's bills."

"Cable?"

"Cable is my own guilty pleasure, therefore I'll pay for it. Rory, seriously, I don't care. Get the groceries and cook, I wouldn't mind a home-cooked meal. To me that's us calling it even."

Roy laughed. "That is far from even. But I can tell you're not going to budge, so fine."

"Okay, now that that's settled, how about you come downstairs. Colin's still there."

"Is he drinking?" She asked quietly.

"We cut him off after you left earlier."

Rory nodded as she got up and followed Tristan downstairs. She noticed Colin sitting at the bar, his chin resting on his hands, looking quite glum. Rory sighed. While Colin was more held tighter than she was, he got in his moods as well, that could be a lot worse than hers. Sitting next to him, she laid her head on his.

"Hey," she whispered.

"Hey," he said equally quietly staring at the doors, while Tristan went to talk to Finn and Paris who were cleaning the bar.

"You okay?"

Colin shrugged. "Been better. I'm sorry about earlier."

"You needed to get it out. I'm sorry if I've been using you."

Colin sighed and turned his head slightly to look at her. "You haven't, Rory, I'm just so fed up with this Serena shit you know. I'm frustrated with myself at not being able to let her go."

"I get it, Colin, don't think I don't. Wanna go lie down? 'Cause you really do look like shit."

Colin laughed wearily. "Yeah, I probably do; not sleeping forty eight hours will do that. I think I'm going to head back to my place and just…"

Rory nodded. "Yeah."

"What are you doing here anyway?"

"Turns out Serena doesn't like it when the attention is on me."

"No?!" Colin said in mock surprise.

"She called administration and tipped them off about me and Nate. I got kicked out."

"Well, then my job is done," a female voice lilted through the quiet club.

Rory and Colin looked up to see Serena standing at the entrance, her large Chanel glasses covering her eyes, jeans low on her slender hips and a white ribbed tank top just barely reaching her midsection.

"Who's this slut?" Paris asked as Finn and Tristan stared at Rory's sister.

"What are you doing here, Seri?" Colin asked with a sigh as he stood up. He frowned when he saw Rory's fists clench and unclench. Whenever Serena made her appearance, Rory would usually bow her head and hide from her. Now Rory was glaring at her sister dead on.

"I wanted to make sure my little sister had a place to stay. I mean… she is homeless, is she not?"

"Just leave, Seri, you have your apartment, you've messed with Rory and me, you've done your job."

"Oh come on, Colin," Serena laughed as she walked towards them. "You can't expect me just to lie down and let all this play out. You know I like to watch my handiwork up close. Though I was a bit disappointed. I tend to forget that Rory has friends outside of her little circle. When I found out she was here, well…" Serena shrugged. "I had to do something. By the way, Rory, I had an interesting conversation with Dean today."

"You bitch!" Rory screamed, lunging towards her sister. Colin caught Rory by the waist just as Rory had gotten a handful of her sister's hair.

"Rory!" Colin yelled, holding on to her middle making Rory loosen her grip. He watched Serena actually take a step back, a hint of fear in her eyes. "You crossed the line, Serena, leave!"

"Let me go!" Rory yelled kicking up to get to her sister. "What you did could have gotten me expelled!"

Serena shrugged. "Which would have added to my amusement, just like your birthday. Sixteen, was it?"

"Let me go!!!" Rory screamed kicking even harder now, pure hatred in her eyes as she glared at her sister. "I hate you! I fucking hate you!"

"Ror, calm down!" Colin said into her ear, holding on tight. He glared at his ex. "You did what you came to do. Now leave before I have security escort you out."

Serena shrugged carelessly. "I'll just see you at Thanksgiving, sis."

Colin felt Rory tremble in rage as she glared at her sister.

"Oh, and Colin, if you need me, I'll be at Logan's. I believe you know the place well."

"Leave!" Colin yelled just as Bo made his entrance, having been called by Tristan.

Serena lifted a brow before turning on her heel and leaving. Colin tightened his hold until he was sure Serena was out of Rory's reach before letting her go.

"Rory..." Colin sighed, putting a hand on her arm.

She shrugged her arm away from his touch. "Don't touch me right now."

"Ror!"

"I'm going upstairs," she whispered shaking her head.

"Wow," Finn muttered as she disappeared.

"She's never actually psychically attacked," Colin said. "I'm usually the one fighting the battles between the two. But then again, Serena's never actually crossed the line that far before. Rory's really passive when it comes to her sister."

"She's learning to stand up for herself," Tristan told him.

Colin shrugged as he put on his jacket. "Maybe, I doubt it though. I'm off." He looked towards the door Rory had disappeared through and sighed. "She's going to be in a mood, just let her go through it, she'll be fine in a few hours. She was trembling pretty hard when I held on to her, just… don't make any sudden movements," he half joked. "I'll call later."

Tristan debated on whether to go up and see if Rory was okay or let her stew. Catching Finn's eye, he decided to head to his office and keep his ears open for any distressing sounds.

XxxxxxxxxxxX

She didn't want to pace, she sat down at the desk and opened her book for her Mythology class and closed it again. Walking to the bed she threw herself on top of it, covering her eyes with her arms, biting her lip hard.

"Don't let her get to you," she whispered, her soft voice echoing off the walls. "She's not worth it, everything worked out, everything's fine."

Her leg bounced up and down in agitation as she heard her sister's words ring through her head. "I had an interesting conversation with Dean today."

Though she knew it wasn't possible Serena had talked to her ex since the day Colin had caught them in bed together, it still hurt. She hadn't been as blind as Colin back in high school, she'd known her boyfriend was cheating on her. She knew that he was just using her to get to Serena. But for once in her life a bit of the attention was being doted on her. And she liked it.

Biting her lip, she rolled on her side and stared out the window. She'd made the stupid mistake of loving him, innocently thinking that he'd forget about her sister and love her back. Biting her lip she hugged the pillow to her body and squeezed her eyes tightly closed.

"Do you even have an ounce of remorse? Just a hint of regret?"

"No, not really."

A choked sob escaped her lips as she curled herself tighter into a ball. Wishing herself to sleep, soon enough she found herself in the midst of a dream. She was fifteen and at the elder Haydens' house.

"Oh Rory! Don't you look magnificent!" Her grandma Francine gushed hugging her tight.

Her grandparents were her only solace, the ones that actually turned their backs on her older sister and paid her the attention her parents didn't. She saw her sister glare at her as her grandparents crowded around her, leaving Serena out.

"Thanks, grandma," Rory smiled as she hugged both grandfathers and grandmothers.

"Tell me, Rory, have you decided what college to attend, I'll give Princeton a call," Straub said.

"Yale, Rory, be a bulldog," Richard teased.

"Oh gramps, you know it's Harvard all the way."

Her grandparents all gave a teasing groan of disappointment, clutching their hearts in pain, giving her a cause to laugh.

"Richard, don't be rude, get the girl a drink," Emily said handing him her champagne glass as both he and Straub went to get drinks.

"So how's school, Rory?" Francine asked, motioning her to sit down on the fancy hardback couch while her grandmothers flanked her.

"It's good," Rory smiled. "I joined the yearbook staff and the newspaper. Keeping myself busy."

"That's good. That will look wonderful on those college application, early acceptance to Yale," Emily said.

"Or Princeton," Francine inserted.

"Or Harvard," Rory said with a laugh. She looked over at the open terrace doors as Colin walked in with a boy about her age. His dark brown hair was slicked back and the suit he wore fit his six foot tall frame perfectly. "Grandma, who is that? He's new, isn't he?"

"New money," Emily said patting her knee. "His father just made a fortune when he found a coal mine on a construction site. Made millions."

"Apparently they're letting just anyone into the gated communities," Francine said. "His family invested in construction companies. They're mostly based in New York, but moved here for their son to get an education at Chilton."

"Oh," Rory bit her lip.

"His name is Dean, sweetie. Forrester. Colin's taken a liking to him, must mean he's a stand up boy," Emily said patting her knee. "Go on, I know you're dying to go to the study. Go on, get out of here."

"Thanks, grandma," Rory smiled kissing them both on cheeks before making her way across the room to her grandpa Straub's office. She flipped the switch on the mantle of the fireplace, turned on the warming fire, before grabbing the book she'd left there last night at dinner and settling down on the leather highback chair opened on the page she'd left off.

"You're… Rory Hayden, right?"

She jumped at the new male voice that echoed in the room and looked up to the six foot figure of Dean Forrester.

"Um… yes. Did you need something?" She asked awkwardly

"Just wanted to meet you. Colin's told me a lot about you."

"Col..." She cleared her throat. "Colin?"

"Yeah," he nodded. "Colin. Uh… what are you reading?"

She looked at the cover of the book in her hands and showed it to him. "The Hero with a Thousand Faces. Joseph Campbell."

"The old guy?"

She felt herself get defensive, but calmed down. "He's… inspiring."

"We watched one of his interviews in our ancient Greece class at my old school. Everyone fell asleep during it."

"It takes an acquired taste to appreciate Joseph Campbell. I've seen The Power of Myth about twenty five times, this is a part of it," she said pointing to the book.

He raised his hands in defense. "Didn't mean to offend."

"You didn't," she laughed. "I'm just a big… dork when it comes to this kind of stuff. Do you read?"

"I know how if that's what you're implying."

"Oh... I know. I mean obviously. I mean…"

"I know," he laughed. "I can see you don't get teased often."

"More than you can imagine actually," she muttered.

"I'm a sci fi person. H.G. Wells… that type of stuff. You ever read?"

"Um… I'm not much of a science fiction buff actually. Though I have read War of the Worlds."

"What'd you think?"

"Not my thing," she said wrinkling her nose.

"Uh... Colin tells me you like coffee."

"I do."

"Would you want to get some?"

"Now?"


"No, I mean... Maybe Monday, after school? I'll pick you up."

"That sounds… yes, yeah, I'd like that."

"Great," he smiled, and Rory bit her lip as his teeth shined white. He was perfect.

Tristan poked his head into the guest room, which was now Rory's room. He didn't see Rory, but he did see a ball in the middle of the bed. He didn't hear crying which was what he had been expecting, but he did hear her breathing a bit labored. Closing the door again he went to the kitchen where he left the two pizzas he had Finn pick up, grabbed the phone and dialed the number he had become very familiar with.

"Hello?"

"Hey… Nate."

"Tristan," Nate laughed. "I get more calls from you than my own mother, and my mother calls me a lot."

"Are you busy?"

Nate looked at his paint splattered canvas and shrugged. "Sort of, why?"

"Rory had a run in with Serena, and I'm thinking she's taking it really hard."

Nate sighed. "She breathing into a paper bag?"

Tristan frowned. "No."

"Oh jeez," Nate said as he put down his paints. "She in the bathroom?"

"Um no… why would she be in the bathroom?"

"Tristan, if she's not puking or breathing into a paper bag, it wasn't that bad of a run in, trust me."

"She attacked her sister."

"Oh my god, she did not!" Nate laughed.

"She did. Colin had to physically restrain her."

"Trust me, this is good, it's a major breakthrough!!" Nate kept laughing. "Oh, I wish I could have seen that bitch's face when Rory went for her."

"Nate, I think something's wrong," Tristan tried again, frustration in his voice.

Nate sighed. "You worry about Rory too much. It's not your job."

"It's not yours either," Tristan pointed out as he leaned against the counter, facing the hallway in case she came out.

"I know, and I don't look at taking care of Rory as a job. I like caring for her, she's my little sister, and she never had an older sibling to take care of her the way we do. She knows how to handle herself with certain people and doesn't take their bullshit. She's a strong girl, Tristan, you just haven't seen it yet."

Tristan smirked remembering how she'd told him right off the bat that she wasn't an easy lay. "I know she's strong," he told Nate. "I just think that something's off."

Nate sighed as he sat on the coffee table and stared at his easel with a tilted head. He'd need to mix colors soon to get the right shade of blue. "Okay, run me through it, what happened?"

Tristan shook his head. "Um... Colin and Rory were talking and Serena came in."

"What was Rory like when she came in?"

Tristan blinked. "What?"

"What was she like, was she passive? Did she stand? Stayed sitting?"

"Does it matter?"

"For Rory yes."

"She stood, stared at her sister, well, more like glared."

"Okay, that's different, she doesn't stare at people straight on, especially not her sister. What set her off?"

"Like what made her attack?"

"Yeah."

"Uh…" he ran the clips of conversation in his head. "I don't know, I heard something about her sixteenth birthday, but that was after she attacked."

"Sixteen?" Nate said standing and grabbing his jacket. "You sure she said sixteenth?"

"Yeah."

"Okay, see this is what you should have mentioned from the beginning."

"So I was right?"

"Yeah, DuGray, you were right."

"So you're coming over?"

"No, I only deal with College Rory's problems. There's a whole other team for high school Rory."

"Team?"

"Sure," he said grabbing his keys and closing his door before heading upstairs to where Jess lived with Steph unofficially. "Look. they'll be there in about ten minutes to half an hour depending on what I'm interrupting. Is she just sleeping?"

"Rory? Yeah."

"Then you don't have to look out for her. She's fine. The cavalry will be there soon bearing ice cream and movies."

Tristan frowned but nodded. "All right. You're sure?"

Nate nodded as he pounded on the door. "Yeah, half an hour tops." He pounded on the door again, only to have it slam open and revel Jess wearing only his boxers and a scowl. "Put pants on Mariano, we've got a code blue." He turned back to the phone conversation. "Make it forty five minutes." He snapped his phone shut and walked into the dorm, where Stephanie was sliding her bra back into place.

"Okay, see you can't just barge in here like that. I could have been naked," Stephanie said with a glare.

"Please," Nate scoffed. "I've seen more of you than I care to," he said throwing her her shirt

"What did you mean by code blue?" Jess asked running a hand through his hair and looking at the floor for his pants.

"Rory attacked her sister."

Both people stopped looking for the discarded clothes and stared at Nate.

"I'm sorry, I thought I just heard you say she attacked her sister?" Jess said in shock.

"I just got a call from Tristan telling me that Colin had to restrain Rory as she attacked Serena."

"Oh my god, what happened?" Stephanie asked pulling her jeans on as she stood.

"Serena got Rory kicked out of the dorm," Nate explained. "She's staying with Tristan at the club.,"

"She's staying with…" Jess shook his head. "We'll get to that in a minute, continue."

"I'm guessing Serena went to gloat, Tristan didn't hear everything, but he did hear a certain sixteen birthday party being mentioned."

"Oh fuck," Stephanie said, knowing just what it meant. "Jess."

"Yeah," Jess nodded as he went into the bedroom to grab a shirt after not finding it on the floor. "He lives above the club, right?" He yelled from his room.

"Yeah."

"Status?" Stephanie asked as she put her purse together.

"She was sleeping, no panic attacks."

"She's not sleeping," Jess said stuffing his wallet into his back pocket and grabbing his jacket as Stephanie opened the door. "She's waiting for the inevitable call from her parents."

"Grocery store first?" Stephanie asked as they left the dorm with Nate trailing after them.

"I'll drop you off first, Steph, then go myself. Someone needs to be there when that call comes."

"Then shouldn't you be the one to talk to Lorelai and Chris?"

"Lorelai and Chris hate me," Jess pointed out. "Just answer the phone and hang up. They know it's not Rory doing it."

Stephanie nodded as they left Nate at his dorm. "We'll take care of her," she promised as she started towards the car.

Jess looked at his friend and nodded towards the door. They went inside, Jess going straight for Rory's room and opening her nightstand and grabbing the three pill bottles before patting Nate's arm. "She'll be fine," he promised, shoving the medicines in his jacket pocket before leaving the dorm and following Stephanie who was already waiting by the car door.

XxxX

Tristan sat on the couch watching TV when he heard the knock on the back door. Getting up he went over to answer and found the blonde that he'd met in the club waiting outside anxiously.

"I was told to come up this way," she said.

"Yeah, it's fine," he said letting her through. "Is it only you?" He asked looking behind her.

"Jess dropped me off, he's going to go get some of the things we need." Stephanie heard the ring tune that she knew so well and looked panicked.

"What?" Tristan asked.

"Where is she?"

Tristan pointed to the bedroom where Rory was staying. Before he could ask what was happening, she was running towards the room. He watched as she leapt on the bed and grabbed the cell phone before Rory had a chance to.

"Stephanie!!" Rory said in shock as Stephanie answered and hung up with a sigh of relief.

"You did not need to answer that call."

"But…"

"No, you so do not need to talk to your mother of all people right now."

Rory stared at her best friend in shock. "You can't just hang up on my mother."

"Sure I can. She's not my mother now, is she?"

"But…"

"No buts," Stephanie said. "You've had a hard day and I'm not about to let it get any more difficult by you talking to your bitch of a mother."

Rory gasped. "My mother is not a bitch!"

"Sure she's not." Stephanie rolled her eyes. "Now, Jess is off getting ice cream and movies, and I'm here to get you mind off of certain aspects of your life."

Rory frowned. "I'm fine."

"Your red eyes tell me otherwise."

"So I cried, whatever."

"Rory, I know about what was said."

Rory looked over at the door where Tristan was watching. "I'm fine, I swear."

"Ror."

"I promise you, Steph, I'm fine."

"Would you tell me the truth if the door were closed?"

"No," Rory whispered.

Stephanie sighed as she got off the bed, "We're going to need to be left alone. When Jess gets here, tell him to knock and leave the food." She smiled before shutting the door in Tristan's face. She turned back and found Rory under the covers again. With a sigh she took off her shoes and sweater and climbed into the bed and under the covers.

"Why would she bring up Dean, Steph?" Rory whispered quietly. "I never throw Colin in her face."

"I know, sweetie," Stephanie sighed as she gathered Rory in her arms and let her cry.

XxxX

Tristan stared at the door and started back towards the living room. Before he had a chance to sit back down, a knock at the door came. He went back towards the door and opened it to find the man he'd also seen at the club waiting there.

"Jess, I'm Rory's cousin," he introduced himself.

"Tristan."

"Uh… where's Rory?"

Tristan pointed towards the room again. "Your girlfriend said to knock and leave the food outside."

Jess nodded and knocked on the door twice. "Steph, I'm coming in." Jess heard a mutter and took it as a sign to walk in. He left the door slightly open as he went towards the bed and partially uncovered the bodies in the bed.

"Hey," he said kissing the top of Rory's sobbing head. "I'm leaving your meds in your nightstand, okay? Take them as needed." He felt her nod and turned to Stephanie. "I'll leave the food by the desk. Do you want me to stay?"

"Please," Stephanie whispered. "I'll come and get you when she falls back asleep."

"Did they call?" Jess asked.

"I got here just in time," Stephanie whispered.

He kissed her forehead and left the room, closing the door behind him. He saw Tristan walking towards the living room and followed.

"I've got pizza on the counter and beer in the fridge, help yourself."

"Thanks," Jess nodded as he grabbed a beer and saw the paper plates on the counter and grabbed a slice of pizza before sitting next to Tristan on the couch. "She's a lot better by the way."

"Huh?"

"Rory, there's usually not this much drama in her life," Jess sighed. "Okay, that's a lie. There's a lot of drama in our family."

"Yours included?"

Jess shook his head as he bit into the slice of pepperoni pizza. "No, my life is pretty uneventful. Steph and I, we thrive on each other, we're pretty drama-free most of the time."

"Roll with the punches?"

Jess laughed. "Sort of. Steph and I have an odd relationship… we're step cousins."

Tristan stared at him. "What?"

Jess nodded. "Yeah, that's why Rory's parents hate us, they think it's unnatural. The way I see it, we're not actually related, so when we have kids, they're not going to come out mutants."

Tristan laughed. "So how does that work?"

"My uncle Luke adopted her. She was the daughter of one of his close friends from high school, he and his wife were killed in a car accident when Steph was five. And surprise, surprise, they left Luke the legal guardian."

"No other relatives?"

Jess shook his head. "Nope. My uncle Luke? Not a people person. He's real surly, a big grump and at times a cynic," Jess laughed. "So me at six, watching him handle this little girl? Most entertaining thing I've ever seen. It used to make Rory laugh a lot, which Luke always got a kick out of."

"When'd you find out Steph was the one for you?" Tristan asked, interested in the story.

"Uh, probably when I met her. My mom introduced us as cousins, and I refused to believe it. I grabbed her hand, told her that we were in no way related and that we were going to get married that day."

"Stephanie's reaction?"

Jess laughed. "Punched me in the eye, told me that she didn't want to get married and pushed me down. Uncle Luke got a real good laugh for that."

Tristan couldn't help but laugh either. "That sounds interesting."

"Yeah, the tables turned when we were in middle school and she started liking me," Jess told him. "Chased after me for a few good months."

"Excuse me?"

They both turned to see the blonde glaring at her boyfriend.

"I mean…"

"Jess chased after me," Stephanie said going into the kitchen without prompting and grabbing a beer for herself and a slice of pizza, before sitting in front of Jess between his legs. "I had a boyfriend at the time, really sweet guy." She heard Jess scoff and hit his leg. "He would shower me with gifts and pay me the utmost attention," she told Tristan. "But… Jess was so much hotter at thirteen, with his leather jacket and scowl, that I couldn't help but break up with the guy and get with Jess."

Jess frowned. "That's not how it worked. You came crying to me, telling me the jerk kissed someone else. I went and beat him up for you."

Stephanie laughed. "You have Rory to thank for that. She thought it would stroke your ego if you were made into the hero."

Tristan couldn't help but laugh at the look of disbelief on Jess's face.

"All these years…"

Stephanie shrugged and patted his leg. "I was going to let you keep the idea that you saved me in your head well into us growing old together, but I didn't want Tristan to get the idea of me being weak."

"I never did," Tristan said.

"Good, 'cause I'm not, and neither is Rory."

Tristan frowned. "I never thought Rory as weak. I think it takes a lot of strength to deal with someone like her sister."

"It does," Jess nodded. "It drains her though. You have her phone, right?"

Stephanie handed it to Jess. "She called again. I think you should talk to aunt Lorelai."

Jess rolled his eyes. "I'll talk to uncle Luke later."

Stephanie nodded as she finished her pizza. Hearing the rustle in the hall they all turned and saw Rory shuffling forward.

"Hey, sweetie, I thought you were asleep."

"I think I'm ready for ice cream now," Rory whispered looking away from Tristan.

Tristan stood causing Rory to back up a step. "I'll be downstairs. It's Finn's day off so I'm going to help Paris run the bar if you guys need me."

Jess nodded and stood as well as Tristan left. Stephanie stood up and wrapped her arms around Rory. "You know he's a nice guy," she whispered as Jess cleaned up the paper plates in the living room.

"Mhmm," Rory said as they sat on the bed, Rory automatically found her place laying her head on Stephanie's leg as Stephanie ran her hands through Rory's hair.

"I think you can trust him, Ror."

Rory stared at the wall. "I don't think I want to, Steph."

"Why?"

Rory shrugged. "I don't know him."

"Then get to know him." Stephanie leaned down and brushed a kiss on Rory's temple. "You have got to stop letting the past get the best of you. He's not Dean."

Rory squeezed her eyes shut. "I know."

"Then stop acting like he is. You aren't sixteen and he isn't that floppy haired jerk. I trust him."

Jess came into the room and smirked. "Well, if we're going to have some girl on girl action, I'm in."

Stephanie laughed and looked up at her boyfriend. "We're all related, Jess."

Jess laughed. "Baby, if we were related, we wouldn't have done half the things we've done."

Rory buried her head in Stephanie's leg as she laughed. "That is more than I ever wanted to know."

Jess got on the bed and kissed the top of Rory's head. "Now, I rented movies."

Rory groaned. "You let Jess get the movies!"

Stephanie laughed. "I trust that he didn't get anything inappropriate."

Jess sighed. "I guess Star Whores is out."

"Oh god," Stephanie and Rory said in unison with a laugh. Rory clutched her belly at Jess's disappointed face and couldn't help but laugh harder. She thanked god she had the friends she had, if she didn't… she didn't know how she would face the difficult situations she always found herself in.

XxxxxxxxX

AN:

I know I haven't updated this in a while. I finally figured out what was wrong so I fixed it, lol. The next chapter will have more of Rory, Jess and Stephanie's family history and how exactly it works. Dean is the bad guy in this... so sorry for all the Dean lovers. As you all know I'm not the biggest dean fan, so I happen to like making him the bad guy.

Hope you all enjoyed it. And please review!!

Kassandra