II:

Rory couldn't believe what she was hearing—she was in shock.

"We're going out on a date..." she repeated a few times. Are we breaking up? Is this it? Impossible! Rory's thoughts were drowning Dean's voice in her head. She wanted to hug him, tell him how much she loved him; but his face looked so serious. Dean was convinced they were over.

She looked back – the party had come out to look for her. She was a little drunk. She looked back at Dean. Rory didn't understand what was going on, only that it didn't feel good. Take me home, Dean. Hold me. Go on this date with me. "You look good," he said. And she took it. She took it and stayed behind as he got in his truck, and he drove away. She sobered up by the minute, as reality smacked her across the face – watching Dean as he drove away from her (from them) barely registered. Logan's arms wrapped themselves around her. She was a mess of tears as she was led back into the house by what seemed a thousand people. How humiliating.

Inside, Logan sat on the big, fancy sofa while handing her another drink.

"I don't want to drink anymore!" Rory proclaimed loudly.

"Honey, if there ever was a time to have one more drink, this it is." Logan sat next to her and told her a thousand stories that didn't make sense to Rory, but that she would have laughed at under any other circumstances. Logan didn't know Rory very well, but he was sad at her sadness. None of the girls he knows are so sensitive; this special creature is, and he's sad for her. Another partygoer gave Rory something to eat, but she would've thrown up all over herself had she taken even a small bite. For ten minutes Rory didn't stop crying. Her blue eyes, it was raining inside them.

Sober now she realized Dean was still gone. Ignoring the party, Rory walked up the stairs to look for her purse. She found it on top of the newly made bed. She opened it, looked for her cellphone, and dialed Dean's number. There was no answer. Rory decided this couldn't be the end of them as she dialed for a cab. Downstairs everyone waited for the host to start laughing and making jokes again. Rory splashed cold water on her face then ran down the stairs without looking at anyone.

"Rory, wait!" Logan yelled.

"Tell my grandma and grandpa I'll call them later," Rory said to Logan as she gave him a sad smile and hopped on a cab.

Dean threw his bags on the floor and ran to the window where he found Rory struggling to hold on.

"Rory, what are you doing?" he said while grabbing one of her arms. He kept pulling until he got a hold of her. Embracing her whole body, he finally got her over. "Are you okay?" he asked.

"No," she said, answering a million questions that had nothing to do with what he was asking.

"Are you hurt?" he asked while checking her arms and briefly lifting her skirt to see if she had scraped her knees.

"No."

"Come here, sit down. Are you sure you're okay?" He helped her to the bed and went back to stand by the window.

"Yes."

"Rory..." He didn't know what to do.

"Dean..." Rory looked for the perfect words. She needed perfection and everything else she could muster to make him understand how she felt. "I really wanted to go on that date," Rory said sweetly.

"I really wanted to take you," he said softly.

"That party wasn't my idea. Just that—look… Sometimes it's easier not to make a stand every single time my grandparents come up with a crazy idea. That'd be exhausting! I'm exhausted already thinking about it."

"I don't want you to choose between me and your life anymore, Rory."

"That doesn't make any sense. You're a part of my life and you know it."

"Yeah, and life changed. You went to college; I got married. I ruined everything. But you had a plan. I'm so proud of all you're doing right now, Rory. But when I look at myself, there's nothing to be proud of…"

"Dean, I've been there. I had to get used to Yale, to being away, to not having my mom with me all the time, to failing. I almost didn't make it. You know this, you saw me crying – I was a mess. Somehow, though, somehow I made it, in no small part thanks to you. We're not always going to proud of ourselves, Dean, but there has to be a way to deal with life..."

"There are a million reasons why we shouldn't be together."

"Yeah? Care to share? You're smart, Dean! You're young! You can start over right now. I can help you! Let me help you!"

Dean laughed thinking about the many times she had said those same words to him.

"I should've listened to you. When I told you I was getting married, I should've listened to you."

Rory sighed.

"Listen to me now!" she said.

"I'm so tired, Rory. I'm so tired of making so many mistakes. I don't know what the hell happened to me. I don't even recognize myself...I hurt people! I hurt Lindsay, her family... I don't know what I'm doing anymore," Dean said, holding back tears.

"It's my fault, too. You can feel guilty and we both should... But you also have to move on." Rory stood up, held his hands between hers. "I know you, Dean. You noticed me when I was a shadow to everyone else but my mom and Lane. You changed me, you got me out of my room. You showed me a part of life that only existed in movies for me. Now it's my turn."

Dean smiled.

"Seems like another me and another you. It's all gone, Rory. It's not so easy now, is it?"

"It's not. It was never supposed to be easy."

"I bet, though, it wasn't meant to be this terrible, either."

"Well, there has to be a balance in the world or the Hellmouth will open again…" she smiled up at him, "…we screwed up so bad."

Dean and Rory hugged like they hadn't in years. She hugged Dean tighter, noticing how the years had made him taller and bigger than he was when they met. The two twinkled-eyed teenagers they once were, all grown up.

"You're not going to let me go, are you?" Dean said with a tiny smile.

Rory pulled away from him so she could look at his face. "You're going to miss that plane," Rory said while leading him over to the bed. "We both are."

They were torn up, sleepy, and tired. Both of them too tired to get into comfortable sleeping clothes, way too tired to think about tomorrow. Falling asleep in what they were wearing, holding hands, excited and nervous about the future.

"I love you, Dean. I always, always have," Rory said, her eyes closing little by little. Dean answered by kissing the back of her head with sweet reverence. "Me too," he whispered. And neither of them could imagine that night ending any other way.

The End