Disclaimer: I do not own the characters from Gilmore Girls; they belong to WB and Amy Sherman-Palladino. I'm just borrowing them for a little while. However, the original characters that appear in the story belong to me. Some of the names (of places and people) I use in the story are from Ayn Rand's "The Fountainhead" (which is a fabulous book). However, they are merely names and do not reflect the characters in Rand's book; I'm using those names because I like them. :) No copyright infringement is intended.
Author's note on STR: Thank you for all the great reviews. :D Just so you know, I will not be writing a sequel to it. It's a closed book; I'm not gonna torture those two anymore in a sequel. Instead, I've decided to torture their adult selves in this story. Heh.
I know nothing about architecture or the New York Times so I'll be taking liberties and a lot of it will be fiction. I'll try to be as accurate as I can but sometimes, there's not much useful information online. The same goes for New York; I haven't been there so all I know comes in the form of travel guides and stuff I can find out online. Updates to this story may not be that frequent but I will try my best. :D
As always, feedback is welcome and very much appreciated. Enjoy the story! :D
Author's note:I couldn't stay away; my fingers were itching to type. So here I am, with a new story. This one's a future fic; so, if the characters seem a little off-character, there'll usually be an explanation for it. Until the explanation comes, just go with it. Heh.
It Had To Be You
01 : It's a Dog-Eat-Dog World
As she placed her glasses back on, the silence around her suddenly grew thicker as her mind finally registered how late it was. A quick glance at the clock on her desk affirmed her suspicions; it was already 2 in the morning. Her eyes moved to the blinking cursor on her computer screen which seemed to be taunting her. Quickly, she skimmed through the words she had written and hit 'Save' before logging off. She gathered all her material, stuffed it into her messenger bag and grabbed the now-empty thermos, that had been full of coffee, sitting on her desk before shuffling away.
Two minutes later, the office was drenched in darkness.
With the tv remote control by her side, a cup of coffee on the table in front of her and her cat on her lap, Rory settled comfortably on the couch. The moment she had entered her apartment, she threw off her heels and wiggled out of her crinkled pants and blouse, opting instead for her well-worn flannel pajamas which had pink elephants on it. As she made herself a tuna sandwich, she saw the blinking light on her answering machine but chose to ignore it, knowing that it would either be her mother, her grandmother or her editor... or worse, all three. So she feigned ignorance, easing her guilty conscience by telling herself that she would check in with her family tomorrow. No, she corrected herself, later today.
She lightly stroked the soft fur of her cat, a white Persian named Jimmy, as she idly flipped channels. When she encountered nothing but info-mercials, she switched off the tv and reached for the remote of her stereo system. Seconds later, the soothing sounds of Jewel filled the room as Rory mouthed the lyrics in time to the song. Smiling sleepily, she closed her eyes.
Moments later, she was asleep.
The blonde head of his secretary, Erica Waltman, peeked in. "Mr DuGrey?"
"What is it, Erica?" he asked, leaning back against his leather-upholstered chair.
"Mr Chase would like to see you."
Tristan bit back a groan. "Did he say why?"
"No, but he did say that it's important."
He nodded briskly. "All right."
When the door clicked shut behind Erica, he grabbed his jacket that was strewn over the back of his chair and left.
When it finally arrived at the 28th floor, Rory pushed past everyone else and rushed out, not caring that she had stepped on some toes. As she pushed open the glass door that read 'New York Times' in big, bold letters, she slowed down to catch her breath. The morning sounds of the office that she had worked in ever since she graduated from Columbia hit her; the sound of typing, the sound of hurried footsteps and muffled yells... and someone calling her name.
Her eyes searched for the owner of the voice and she finally registered the waving arms of her colleague and friend, Samantha Lee.
"Rory," she said, hurriedly, "Edward's looking for you. You're supposed to be-"
"I know, I know," Rory answered, nodding quickly. "I was supposed to meet him at 8. I overslept."
Samantha gave her friend an assessing look, taking in the hastily-tied ponytail, the dark rims around Rory's eyes and her tired smile. "You stayed in late again, didn't you?" she asked, her tone accusing.
Rory sighed. "Sam, you know I-"
Samantha waved her hand dismissively. "Yeah yeah, I've heard it all before, Rory." She smiled to take the sting off her words. "Now," she pushed Rory lightly, "you better go see Edward before he blows an artery."
Rolling her eyes, she picked up her folder before scurrying away.
Nicholas Chase leaned forward in his chair, his eyes examining his friend's somewhat dishevelled appearance; the tousled hair, the tie that was askew, topped off the frown that threatened to turn into a scowl.
"Did you have lunch?"
He ignored the question just as he had ignored his hunger pangs earlier that afternoon. "Is this a social call, Nick?" Tristan asked, his voice dripping with sarcasm. "Time is money. Tell me what you want."
Nick let out an indolent grin. "You know, you shouldn't talk to your boss that way."
Tristan tsked and smirked. "Well, maybe if I hadn't been witness to all the embarrassing moments in my boss' life, I wouldn't."
Nick waved his hand dismissively. "Embarrassing moments? I don't-"
Tristan's lips quirked into a grin. "Do you really need me to remind you of that time at Harry's when you said-"
Nick quickly interrupted, not wanting to rehash what had happened. "Yeah yeah yeah. Okay," he admitted, "that was embarrassing." His self-conscious smile suddenly vanished and a somber light came into his eyes. "Tristan-"
"I know, I know," he cut in. "I'm working too hard. Blah blah blah. I'm feeling perfectly fine, Nick."
"When was the last time you actually went home before midnight?" Nick asked, trying to make his point.
Tristan shrugged in response. "I just really want to get this contract, Nick. And I'm gonna do all I can to get it."
"And we will get the contract. We're the best architectural firm in the state, Tristan. And we've got you designing the building."
Tristan laughed. "Trying to butter me up, Chase?"
"As though your ego needs any soothing," Nick scoffed. "But really, the contract is in the bag. Ease up a little, DuGrey."
"Nick-" he protested.
"Tristan," he said, his voice firm. "Ease up. Or else I'll make you take a break."
There was a few moments of silence as the two long-time friends eyed each other. Finally Tristan reluctantly nodded his agreement. "Okay, I'll ease up."
Sighing, Rory took a sip of her iced lemon tea before speaking. "He approved the article."
"Wow," Samantha smiled brightly. "That's great." She saw that her smile was not mirrored which surprised her since Rory had been so eager to write the story. "What's wrong?"
"He wants me to take a break," Rory mumbled in a dull voice.
"You lucky dog!"
"Sam, I don't want a break. I don't need a break. I just want to finish this feature and keep on working."
Samantha reached over, lightly patting her friend's hand. "Rory," she began, slowly, "You've been working non-stop for the past few months. You've been working all hours of the day and running yourself ragged." She gave an encouraging smile. "I think you deserve a break."
"Rory," she protested, giving Rory a quelling look. "You need to slow down. Ever since-"
Rory held her hand up and shook her head vehemently. "No, don't bring that up."
Samantha sighed at the stubbornness that Rory was displaying. "Okay. I just think that-"
"Sam, just don't."
"At least think about it," Samantha said cajolingly.
A few seconds of silence between them passed before Rory hesitantly gave in. "I'll think about it."
'God, I'm getting boring,' he mused, as he eased his Escalade in his allotted spot in the basement parking lot of his apartment building.
When he entered his apartment minutes later, for a second, he almost wished that he had gone to Harry's. The desolate silence that enveloped his apartment, he refused to refer of it as "home" because he didn't think of it as such, was suffocating and eerie.
Not bothering to turn on the lights, he made his way to the leather couch; stumbling and losing his footing a few times in the near darkness. As he comfortably situated himself, he blindly searched for the remote control of his stereo, desperately needing some noise to fill the deafening silence. When the relaxing sounds of Miles Davis emptied the room of the nothingness that had pervaded the air, he sighed in relief.
Tristan closed his eyes; pulling off his tie completely and throwing it in the direction in which he had discarded his jacket earlier. Still not feeling completely at ease, he unbuttoned his shirt and pulled it out of his pants.
After a few minutes, Tristan gave in to his feeling of restlessness. Standing up, he pulled off his shirt and stretched luxuriously, groaning when he felt his muscles protest. He flicked on a light switch, illuminating the large room in bright light. Then he reached for his briefcase and took out the blueprints that he had been working at all day.
He didn't fall asleep until 3 in the morning.
Turning around at the sound of her name, she waited as Samantha caught up to her. "What is it?"
As Samantha tried to catch her breath, she held up her left hand, bringing the day's issue of the newspaper to Rory's attention. She smiled, displaying the dimple in her left cheek, and said, "It's a great article."
Rory smiled her thanks and took the paper from her friend's hand, her eyes scanning the page and finding her name at the byline. Inwardly, she was doing her happy dance, a weird mixture of the macarena, bouncing and pumping her fists in the air; even though she had been writing for so long, seeing her name in a byline never ceased to make her want to squeal with girlish happiness.
"Is that the last one in the series?" Samantha asked, as the two moved aside so that people could pass the crowded hallway leading to the copy room.
Rory shook her head. "No, there's one more. That one will be on the new children's hospital that's being built."
"The Francon Pediatric Center?"
"Yeah, that one."
Samantha frowned. "I think the building was stopped."
"What?" was Rory's cry of outrage. "I was just talking to Mr. Francon yesterday."
Samantha flipped the pages of the paper until she found what she wanted. Pointing out the article to her friend, she answered, "Well, it seems like one of the investors pulled out the funding so the project is on hold."
"But- but..." Rory sputtered, not believing her eyes. "That hospital needs to be built," she said firmly. "They'll be offering free treatment to the kids at the Wynand Orphanage. And-"
Samantha laid a hand on Rory's shoulder and sighed. "I know, Rory. But there isn't anything we can do about it." She saw that determined , stubborn tilt of her friend's chin and knew that Rory was far from giving up.
"Oh no, we can do something."
The beeping sound made him look up. Without taking his eyes off the blueprints in front of him, he pressed the appropriate button and said distractedly, "Yes, Erica?"
"Mr Roark is here to see you, sir. He's in Meeting Room 1 with his associates," came his secretary's voice over the intercom.
"All right. I'll be right there."
Giving the blueprints one last look, he concluded that this was the best that he could do. After rolling them up, he put them under his arm and strode to the door, ready to make his presentation.
"Rory," Edward Reynolds said wearily. "We can't do anything about it."
Rory crossed her arms, a defiant look in her steely gaze. "Yes, we can. Edward, we can-"
Edward shook his head, not willing to be swayed. "The Francon project is not our responsibility. With Mr Francon's connections, he'll easily enough find another investor."
"Not when it's widely known that his business is floundering," Rory countered. "Their stocks fell again and they're in danger of a takeover by-"
"Rory," Edward said, his tone unyielding. "It's not in our hands."
"Edward," she replied, imitating her boss's tone. "That hospital needs to be built."
He smiled wryly. "Even if we were to do anything Miss Gilmore, you would not be involved in it. As of now, you're officially on a one-week hiatus. A paid holiday, if you would."
Rory's expression was fiercely dissenting. "You can't do that. I'm not going on holiday."
Edward stood up, turning his back on his star reporter. He looked down at the busy streets some twenty floors below, marvelling at the seemingly endless flow of people and vehicles. New York in December was cold, dreary and bleak and he was offering his one of his top reporters a break, a respite from all this but she was declining.
He had been watching her closely over the past months; seeing her potential when she first came to work for the paper some two years ago, noticing her drive, determination and passion for her work and for life, slowly seeing the light in her eyes dim and watching her bury herself in her work. He knew that she would go far; with her talent and her exemplary work ethics, she was one of the best. But he didn't want her life to be her work; after over 20 years in the business, he knew the sacrifices of immersing oneself in work and pushing aside the things, and people, that really matter. He wouldn't let the bright young woman in front of him do that.
Not turning around, he said, "I didn't say if you're willing to go on leave. I'm saying you will go on leave. Take a break, Rory. You've earned it."
Her words of protest came fast. "Edward, I-"
He turned around and sat back down on his chair, suddenly feeling the weariness of his 48 years of life. "Rory," he softened his tone a little, "I'll tell you now that you're one of the best. You know it, I know it. But at the rate you're working, you're gonna burn out." His eyes caught hers as he tried to persuade her. "Take a break. The Francon story will be here when you come back."
The slump of Rory's shoulders was indication enough that she had given in. "I don't like it, Edward" she said, but she smiled slightly.
"Go see your family, Gilmore," Edward laughed. He added warningly, "And I don't wanna hear from you until next week."
Rory smiled. "Yes, sir."
Tristan smiled over the rim of his glass, enjoying the burn of the whisky as it slid down his throat. "Did you expect any less, Chase?"
Nick leaned his hip against the side of his mahogany desk and grinned. "Of course not."
"So, what's next?" Tristan asked casually as he poured himself another glass. "Who's our next client?"
"The Toohey account."
"The one for the office building?" When Nick nodded, he went on. "So, when should I start?" There was a pause and Tristan looked up from his drink to see an uncomfortable look on his friend's face. "What's wrong?"
"Well... you see," Nick began, unsure on how to break the news to him. "You haven't been assigned to work on it."
Tristan's shrug was nonchalant. "You're giving it to Bradley?" he asked, referring to one of the other architects working in the firm.
"Don't you want to know why it wasn't assigned o you?"
Something was definitely up, Tristan thought as he saw Nick tapping his fingers against his desk, a sure sign of his anxiety. "Okay, I'll bite: why wasn't I assigned to it?"
"You're on leave for the next week," Nick said quickly, his words a jumble that Tristan couldn't catch.
"What did you say?"
Nick sighed. "It was decided that you'll be on leave for the next week. Since you're worked so hard on the Roark account."
"Bullshit, Chase," Tristan spat out, easily seeing through his friend's half-truth.
"That's part of the reason," Nick answered and paused, trying to phrase what he wanted to say correctly. "And the other half is that... I'm worried about you. I think you should take a little break. You know, regroup and then come back."
"I'm perfectly grouped, Nick... I don't need any regrouping," he said, making quote marks as he uttered the last word.
The office with glass windows that showed off the breath-taking Manhattan skyline was drenched in tension. "Your mother called me the other day."
Tristan groaned as he plopped down on the leather couch in the room. He threw an arm up over his eyes and mumbled, "This whole take-a-break thing is about that?"
"She worried about you."
Tristan let out a short bark of laughter that was heavily tinged with bitterness. "You know better than to say something like that, Chase. She's not worried about me. She's worried about the DuGrey heir."
Nick cast his friend a quick look and stifled a sigh when he saw his tensed form. "Whatever it is Tristan, you need a break." Hesitantly, he added, "And you should pay your family a visit." When he saw that Tristan was about to retort, he hastily said, "At least go back for Nat."
Tristan drew his arm away and sat up, giving his friend a dirty look. "That's a low blow, even for you, Chase."
Nick shrugged but Tristan saw the unrepentant curl of his lips. "Natalie doesn't deserve to be there alone, Tristan."
After a few moments of consideration, he had to agree with Nick. "Fine."