Story: Change of Scenery

Disclaimer: I own no rights to anything Gilmore Girls related. I just write for my own amusement.

Description: Set in Season One, up to P.S. I Lo…. Rory goes to her grandparents to escape all the drama that has gone on in her small town life of late. But she isn't so quick to return as she was in the show. A spin on if Rory had more of a season 6 sized emotional meltdown in Season 1. Trory.

Emily discreetly checked her watch and re-crossed her legs at the ankle. "So, you must be relieved to have finished your final exams."

Rory was far more obvious as she craned around to look back toward the front entrance of the Gilmore house. Not only was it a little unusual for her to be alone with her grandmother during a Friday night dinner, it was stranger because everyone else was running late. Even more awkward was the attempt not to discuss her impending trip, when it was all she could think about.

"Yeah, I guess you could say that."

"Do you think you did well?"

Rory looked up at her grandmother and offered a pleasant smile. "I think so. It's hard to tell with Chemistry sometimes."

"Everyone has favored subjects. We know where your strengths lie," Emily said, beaming. "What will you be taking this summer?"

Rory tried to steady her nerves. "Actually I was going to discuss that with you tonight. I just thought that more people would be here when I did."

"Have your plans changed? Did you mother finally decide to take time off and give you a proper vacation this summer?" Emily asked hopefully.

"Well, I am going to take a vacation, but Mom isn't taking time off."

Emily arched a perfectly sculpted brow. "You're going on vacation alone?"

"Not exactly," she deflected as she shifted slightly in her seat.

Emily stiffened. "Are you going to see Christopher? He's still in California, last I heard, but is he equipped for you to stay with him? Crashing on someone's couch might sound bohemian, but it's how bums live."

Rory tried to hide her smile by pressing her lips together hard. "No, Dad hasn't invited me to come out. I actually have the opportunity to go to France."

"Is this put together by the school, some sort of tour? I thought they were going to the British Isles."

"They are. I'm not going with the school."

"Hey, sorry, sorry Mom," Lorelai said as she rushed into the room, still in her coat with her purse hanging off her arm. She looked like she'd run on foot the whole way to the house, instead of merely sprinting in from her Jeep.

"Honestly, Lorelai, you're already late, you can't take one second to let the maid take your coat and purse?" Emily asked in her own exasperated way.

Lorelai looked around. "Where is Dad?"

Emily scowled. "You're late. Just because you're not the last to arrive doesn't excuse your tardiness."

"I didn't postpone dinner and I have time for a drink, ergo, I'm right on time," Lorelai corrected her mother with a triumphant smile.

"You're interrupting Rory's story and you're late. Both of which are very rude, and I'd appreciate it if you'd just get yourself situated and let Rory continue. I assume you can make your own drink?"

"Now who's being rude, Mom?" Lorelai asked, giving Rory a wink and mouthing, 'I need to talk to you.'

Rory pulled herself back to Emily, though curious as to what her mom wished to discuss and why she was so late. "Well, the thing is, Tristan invited me to go to France and stay with his family for a few weeks."

Emily didn't say anything at first, she just kept gazing at Rory evenly, as if she were expecting her to let on that she was just kidding.

"Um, so I am."

Emily turned to Lorelai, who was still shaking her martini. "You're allowing this?"

"It's not like I didn't think about it first. I made them wait two days for my final decree. That's a decade in teen-years."

"And at no time in two days of thought did you come up with a single reason that she shouldn't go traipsing off to Europe with her boyfriend? She's sixteen!"

"They aren't traipsing, they're flying first class."

"Lorelai!"

"What, Mom? I spoke with his grandfather, and any and all concerns I might have had were put to rest. Rory will be under their supervision and Tristan knows that if she doesn't come home in exactly the same condition that she left in, he'll have to answer to me."

Emily shook her head bitterly. "I knew you had lax rules, but this takes the cake."

"The Dugreys are your friends. You don't trust them to be good hosts to your granddaughter?" Lorelai posed, trying to rationalize with her mother on a level she could understand.

"Yes, Lorelai, I'm sure they'll be wonderful hosts, but they can't keep an eye on the kids every minute of every day. They have a business to run."

"We're all busy, Mom. I can't watch Rory every minute of every day, and neither can you. Luckily she doesn't require constant attention any more. Did you watch her every single second when she was here?"

Emily glanced at Rory. "She was safe while she was here."

"And I believe she'll be safe while she's in France," Lorelai countered.

Rory watched the exchange with unease, though she was immensely grateful for her mother going to bat for her. She knew it hadn't been an easy decision to come to, to let her only daughter leave the country for a significant portion of time in the company of her boyfriend, with a watchful family around or not.

Emily's scowl didn't budge. "When do you leave?"

Rory raked her teeth over her lower lip. "Monday."

"This Monday? How long will you be gone?"

"Three weeks."

Emily didn't respond, but her silent reaction was icier than any words she could have offered. After a minute, she stood up and excused herself from the room.

Lorelai leaned in to Rory. "Uh-oh. I think she's gone to get the chastity belt."

Rory frowned. "I didn't think she'd be that mad."

"Never underestimate Emily Gilmore's disappointment. It's fierce and eternal. Luckily for you, I have news that will provide a great distraction."

Rory perked up. "What is it?"

Lorelai steeled herself and put her drink on the table so she could place both hands over Rory's. "Ready?"

Rory nodded. "I think so."

"Because this is big. Big, big. Huge, actually."

"What is it?"

Richard roamed into the living room. "Hello girls. Where's Emily?"

"She disappeared. I thought maybe she was looking for you."

"She knew very well where I was. I told her I'd be late because I had a last-minute meeting with Janlen to go over his account before dinner. They should be along any minute."

Lorelai shot Rory an inquisitive look. "Tristan's coming tonight?"

Rory nodded. "Didn't I mention that?"

"Emily thought it would be a nice gesture, since the kids will be apart all summer," Richard said sympathetically.

"No wonder she was so mad," Lorelai said under her breath as the doorbell rang.

"Ah, there they are. Emily!" Richard called as he left the two girls alone to wait for everyone else.

Rory grabbed her mom's elbow. "Mom, what were you going to tell me?"

Lorelai smiled. "Max proposed."

Rory's mouth fell open. "He what?"

"Crazy, right?"

"I…," Rory began, but didn't get to finish as she found herself rising to her feet to greet her boyfriend, while Lorelai shook Janlen's hand.

"It's a shame Grace couldn't join us," Richard said to Janlen.

"She'd already planned to have dinner with her sister. She misses her when we're abroad, and since we're not sure how long we'll be this time, it was important to her to get in as much time as she could."

"I understand that. Emily cherishes the time she gets to spend with her sister when we're there."

"Where is Emily?" Janlen asked.

"Uh, she went to get something. I'll go get her," Lorelai offered, patting Rory on the shoulder as she took off.

"Everything okay?" Tristan asked Rory, under his breath.

Rory met his eyes with bewildered uncertainty. "I have no idea."

"Will you excuse us for a minute?" Tristan asked their grandfather's leading her out to the back patio and out of earshot. "What's going on?"

Rory glanced nervously back to the windows. "They're going to think we came out here to make out."

He smiled knowingly as he leaned in toward her. "I won't disappoint them, then."

She put a firm hand to his chest to hold him back. "Emily's on the warpath. There will be no making out on the premises tonight."

He frowned. "You told her?"

She nodded. "I had to. I'll be missing dinners and Mom can't keep saying I'm sick, or Emily will get worried and freak out. Also, she tends to think sick is code for pregnant, especially when the excuse is given too often for teenage girls."

"Your mom really did a number on them, didn't she?" he asked. "I mean, I get it. My dad has given everyone that's ever met him trust issues."

"Grandma thinks we need round-the-clock supervision or else we'll fall victim to every sort of evil that could stem from having hormones."

"If only she knew what kind of torment you were keeping me under," he murmured, his words softly tickling the side of her cheek.

She closed her eyes, enjoying his nearness. It'd been a long week, with its ups and downs, and she'd thought at that point they'd be in the clear to just enjoy their time together. "There's more."

"Richard wants to chat with me?" he guessed with a wary expression.

Rory alleviated that concern. "He doesn't know yet."

He tilted his head. "What is it, then?"

"Max proposed."

He seemed completely unsure what to do with that information. "Wow. Did she say yes?"

Rory wasn't expecting that question, but it occurred to her that it was one she should have asked herself. "I don't know. I would assume so."

"Did she say she was getting married or that he proposed?"

"That he proposed. Do you think she'd say no?"

"I would never guess what your mother might do. I'm just glad my grandfather was able to convince her you'd be safe coming with us."

"This night could be a disaster," she warned.

"What do we care? We're out of here on Monday."

"But I'll have to come back after three weeks. And left alone, Mom and Grandma never come together well. By the time I get back, this issue could have morphed into World War Three, unless Grandma feels better about me going with you by Monday."

"If my grandfather can make Lorelai feel comfortable with it, surely he can assuage any concerns Emily and Richard have. They know him a lot better than Lorelai does."

"Yeah. I wish I knew what exactly was going on with Mom. She was late, and then she just drops this huge news on me when we can't discuss it."

"Do you want her to marry Max?" he asked.

Rory thought about it. "I want her to be happy. And if that means marrying Max, then I'm on board. He's a great guy. And technically he's no longer my teacher, so he wasted no time in jumping that hurtle."

He ran a hand down her arm. His fingers left a warm wake down her bare skin. She looked up in his eyes and smiled. "I can't believe I get to go with you."

He returned the smile. "Believe it. It'll be just you and me for three weeks."

"And your family. Your grandfather was very clear that we'd rarely be left to our own devices," she reminded him.

"My grandfather," he began in a corrective tone, "knew what it would take for your mother to feel comfortable letting you come. It was in his best interest to do that, since having you there is what will make me happy to be there."

"He lied?" she asked in wide-eyed disbelief.

He considered her question. "He embellished."

"We can't possibly be completely alone for three weeks," she uttered in disbelief.

"It's not like we'll be on a deserted island—not that I would complain about that—but it will be very easy for us to lose quite a few hours, roaming on the grounds, enjoying a good amount of freedom."

Her heart was pounding harder than she'd ever noticed before. "And just what will we be doing in those free hours?"

His knuckles grazed her cheek with a feather-light stroke. "Whatever we want."

Her eyes closed as his thumb lingered at the outer edge of her lips. "Like drink wine and have sex?"

Her words hadn't been dreamy or excited. Instead her words had come out as alarmed and confused. "Rory?"

Her eyes opened. "I promised Mom that wasn't what this was about."

"It's not," he said assertively.

She put her hand on his and brought it down from her face. "I'm not saying we need a chaperone at every moment, but I don't like the idea of lying to my mom like that."

"Your mom will be here planning her wedding. Do you really want to rush in there and call my grandfather a liar and get stuck staying here?"

"No! I'm just trying to figure out exactly what I'm getting into."

He looked like she'd slapped him. "What you're getting into? Are you kidding me?"

"You know what I meant," she snapped.

"I do know what you meant, that's the problem. This was your idea, a fact that you keep forgetting."

"Can we not do this tonight?"

"When should we do it, when we land?"

"I want to be with you, Tristan, but I'm scared, okay? Is that what you want to hear? I'm scared."

His hand went to her hip, and he held her firmly without drawing her closer. In the dark shadows of the patio, if any of the adults was looking out at them, they'd be none the wiser that he was even touching her. "Scared of me?"

"No, not of you. Of all the unknown factors. Of what happens when we're completely alone and there's nothing to stop us from," she cut off as she put her hand to his chest, but this time she gripped his shirt and pulled him into her.

There was a knock at the patio door and then Lorelai opened it slowly to give them a second to step apart before she stuck her head out. "It's going to be a while before dinner. Mom's refusing to come out of her room, so I'm going to try to bribe her out with the promise of buying me a new wardrobe, and Dad's taken Janlen back to his den to discuss more business, so if you two get hungry, hit the kitchen and bribe the maid. It could be a while."

Rory nodded, glad that the dark of night masked her flushed features. "Okay. We're good."

Lorelai glanced from one teen to the other. "Okay."

She was gone in the next minute and Rory turned to face Tristan. "You hate me."

He kissed her forehead and sighed. "No."

"I realize this is no big deal to you," she managed, trying to bridge the gap between them.

"It is a big deal to me. I want you to be comfortable, not scared. And there's no pressure to partake in certain activities just because we're allotted all that free time together."

"But you want to," she reasoned.

He smiled, a bit sheepishly. "Yeah, I want to. I always want to. But I do have restraint, amazingly enough."

Desire overwhelmed her in a flash, but once it was embedded in her mind she felt a rush that pushed her fear into excitement. "What if I don't?"

"Don't want to?" he asked, pensively trying to read her mixed messages. Nothing about her body language suggested she wanted anything other than to be as close to him as possible. Her hand interlaced with his, and she began walking toward the path that led to the grounds behind the house.

"Don't have restraint," she corrected as she continued pulling him along willingly behind her.

His eyes widened. "Is this some sort of test? Our families are inside," he reminded her.

She glanced to the big house. "It takes Grandma forever to agree to be coaxed out of her room when she gets like this. And our grandfathers are probably drinking scotch and discussing their golf games, and won't realize what's going on until the maid tells them that we're ready to sit down to dinner."

She reached for the door to the pool house and opened it effortlessly. She didn't hit the lights, and he stepped in after her, shutting them into the semi-dark space with a quiet click. "This is kind of sudden, isn't it?"

"You said you always want to," she said, leaning up on her toes to kiss him.

He dutifully kissed her back, leaving no doubt in her mind that he'd spoken the truth earlier. Despite the fact that he never brought it up, it was clear that he was always ready for more, every time they were intimate. His body was always on some predestined path, instinctually heading toward the next peak that she hadn't realized was coming. He never seemed in a hurry, and she relished in every new sensation as they quickly became something she craved. His touch was always welcome and no matter what she was always left wanting more.

His hands caressed up her neck, threading up through her hair from the neckline. She tilted her chin up toward him as he cradled her head. Her eyes fluttered shut as his lips paused at her ear. "We can't do this now."

She reset her resolve. She kissed him again, this time making sure he got the point that she was ready. Her hands slid under his jacket, flatting out and working their way up to his shoulders until gravity took care of sliding it off his arms. She kept her eyes on his, playful but serious, as she leaned in to kiss his jaw and began to nimbly unbutton his shirt. He didn't stop her, allowing her free reign as she gained full access to his uncovered chest.

"We don't have time," he spoke again, though she detected the strain of regret.

"Does it really take that long?" she asked, putting her big blue eyes to work with a mix of innocence and desire.

A chuckle escaped his throat and he kissed her again. Her hands wound around his waist and up the back of his open shirt. He stepped her backward until her back met the wall and her pliability was a clear sign she was receptive to letting him escalate things a little too far out of control. He groaned when he pulled away from her, which wasn't as effective as she kept her hands tight on him. "I want to be able to take our time, and not be racing against the clock. I also don't have everything with me," he said pointedly.

"What else do you need?" she asked breathily.

"Protection," he said, jarring her with reality.

"Oh. You don't have anything at all?" she asked with vivid disappointment.

He fixed her with a knowing look. "I don't normally carry it around with me to dinner with my grandfather. Nothing about this evening prompted me to grab condoms."

"Right," she said, trying to regulate all the parts of her that had gotten more than a little caught up in the moment. Her whole system was working overtime.

"I appreciate the gesture, you have no idea," he began.

"Not making me feel better," she admitted, glad she hadn't taken more drastic measures.

"You were really ready to just throw down in the pool house?" he asked, the idea not helping him tamper down his desire.

"Throw down?" she inquired, partially teasing him, though instantly drawn to the idea.

He smiled. "It's a way to go," he admitted. "Not much talking, just grabbing each other and making quick work of things."

She swallowed, hard. "Yeah?"

"I don't mean that I'd be rough with you," he backed off, not wanting to frighten her. He gripped her hip again with his hand, pulling her back to him in a needful manner. "Not that it's a gentle act either."

She nodded, her bottom lip caught between her teeth. "That's okay," she managed at last.

"Rory," he breathed her name. "How much time do we have?"

"Enough," she said, crashing back against him. Her lips met his in hunger, dinner forgotten as they enjoyed the perks of being lost in their own little hiding spot.

"I'll have something, from now on," he promised as he kissed what felt like burning trail down her neck. She thrust her hips up against his in response. A curse came out with his next breath and both of his hands clamped at either side of her hips, digging in just enough to stop her.

"Too much?" she asked, surprised that she was capable of rational thought.

"Just enough," he said before he kissed her again. They stood there, lips pressed together and joined with his hands at her hips and her hands on his shoulders, steadying themselves. "Still scared?"

She offered a slight bob of her head. "In a good way, though."

"And you still want to come with me?" he checked, her earlier words still fresh in his mind.

"Possibly more than ever," she admitted.

He emitted a slow sigh. "Should we go find out if your mom's getting married?"

She put her hand over his as he had begun to close his shirt front. "You can't mention that in there. Mom won't tell Grandma yet, especially if she hasn't given Max an answer."

"Your secret safe with me, as long as you don't call out my grandfather as a liar."

She reluctantly let go of his hand so he could make himself presentable for their families. "Deal. Did he really do that just to make you happy?"

Tristan nodded. "Yep. I'm a hot commodity. My dad offered to buy me a new car if I stayed."

"Does that mean you like me more than a fancy new car?" she inquired.

He glanced up and winked at her. "For now."

"Tristan Dugrey," she scolded playfully.

"You get me going faster than any car yet made, don't worry," he soothed her.

She took the compliment, but shook her head at him. "You missed a button," she said, reaching out to automatically fix it for him.

"I'm distracted. You're standing really close and you smell really good," he said with a groan of longing.

"Excuses, excuses," she teased him with a bat of her eyes. "There. No one will know you were in the pool house half naked."

"I'll know. And you'll know. And when we're sitting across the table at dinner, and I give you a knowing wink, we'll both remember."

She poked a finger in his once-again covered chest. "Be nice."

"Hey, I'm just trying to keep your mind in the game. You have to stay in the zone, because next time I'll have all my bases covered."

"Sports metaphors aren't sexy," she informed him with a slight pout.

"You want sexy?" he asked, leaning in toward her once again. He was slow and methodical this time, each time his lips met her skin slightly more tantalizing than the last. "Can we meet tonight, after dinner?" he asked between kisses.

"I can only imagine dinner will be over before it begins," she proffered, still wanting more. "And if Mom said yes to Max, she might head out to his house. I'd need a ride home."

His eyes sparkled, even in the dim light. "I could give you a ride. Though I might need to make a quick stop to pick something up on the way."

She shook her head and put her hand to his chest, feeling his heart beating as quickly as her own. "No need. There's some at the house."

He stared into her eyes, waiting for her to back out or otherwise imply she wasn't really ready. "You're sure?"

"In the upstairs bathroom," she said, still gazing into his eyes. She saw his surprise, which had fought its way up through lust and desire and a whole host of other emotions that drove him to want to touch her.

"I mean, sure about using them."

Her answer was solid in her mind, but nonetheless her heart hammered in her chest and she had the oddest sensation of feeling her blood rush through her veins. Her whole body felt invigorated and brought to a new precipice. She was keenly aware that there was something greater, just past the feeling he had so often evoked in her. "Yes."

"In that case, we should go see if the party's breaking up early on account of your grandmother being overwrought about your impending departure with your sex-crazed boyfriend."

She nodded mutely and kissed him again, her emotions welling up inside her at the prospect of how the night might end. "I need to talk to Mom."

A thought occurred to him, and he wrapped his hand around hers. "You aren't going to tell her tonight, are you?"

She glanced down at the floor. "I'd always promised her I would, but no. I don't think so, not with everything the way it is. She's onboard with me going, and she's excited about Max, but I don't know. I want it to be about us, not about how she's going to react. I need to figure out if she's going to head to Max's, then we'll know if we have the house to ourselves."

"Okay. I'll go check on our grandfathers. I'll see you inside."

She studied him for a moment. "You aren't coming now?"

He gave her a tight smile and cleared his throat. "I need a minute. I'll be right behind you."

She blushed and nodded, kissing his cheek before leaving him alone in the pool house. She didn't look back, simply crossing the patio in a rush to get to the main house. No one was waiting in the sitting room, so she made for the stairs. She found her mother sitting in the hallway outside her old bedroom door, staring at her cell phone.

"Hey. Is Grandma still mad?"

"I think she's asleep. At any rate, she's not talking to me. Max just called."

Rory sat down next to her mother. "So, did you answer him?"

Lorelai shook her head. "I told him I had to think about it. He said he'd be patient, but that was him, suggesting I come over so we can discuss any concerns I might have."

Rory frowned. "So, you do have concerns?"

"A few. You know, where we'd live, if he puts the empty milk carton back in the fridge, acceptable levels of clean laundry, that sort of thing. All the finer points of domestic life."

"You put the empty milk carton back in the fridge all the time."

"Exactly. And if he does too, then doesn't that mean we're two of a kind? Practically made for each other?" Lorelai posed.

"Or he could put it in the recycle like a good person should, and you'd be opposites who attract," Rory offered. "A modern-day Odd Couple."

Lorelai put her hand on her daughter's knee with a little pat. "I don't want to leave you all night when you're about to leave for France in a couple of days. We should have some girl time."

"We can do that tomorrow. I'm exhausted from finals and the drama of tonight. I need to gear up for a girls' night."

Lorelai seemed cheered by the information. "It won't make me the worst mother ever? How will you get home?"

Rory pretended to think it over. "Tristan could drop me off. He drove himself over."

"Mmm," she sighed. "The boyfriend."

"He's taken me home a hundred times," Rory pointed out, trying to reaffirm her mother's already gained trust.

"True. I guess he's your top choice."

"Generally speaking," Rory nodded with a hint of a blush. It was harder than she thought, to keep the information from her mother, but obviously easy enough to accomplish.

"Okay, let's go before Mom comes out and decides her best revenge is to keep us here for five courses of food that countries who still make use of canings and beheadings serve to their prisoners."

"Deal," Rory said, standing up alongside her mother and making for the stairs. Tristan was standing in the entryway, waiting with his eyes trained on her as she descended the stairs.

"Any luck?"

Lorelai shook her head. "She's battened down for the long haul. She may never speak to us again, and for that, you have my eternal thanks."

He gave a soft chuckle. "You guys leaving then, too? Grandfather made his exit already."

Lorelai put her arm around Rory. "Yeah. Would you mind giving her a lift home? I've got an errand to run in Hartford."

Tristan kept his composure in the face of Lorelai's evasive description of her own plans and the way that it fell in line with their hastily-formed agenda. His years of practice maintaining his decorum in the face of a host of scenarios served him well.

"My pleasure. You ready?"

Rory nodded. "Yeah, my school stuff is by the door," she said, to which he turned and picked up her backpack, full of the remnants of her school year and her uniform that she'd shoved into the confines as well.

"Careful, that thing can give you a hernia," Lorelai cautioned.

"I got it," Tristan assured Lorelai as he opened the door. He looked down at Rory. "Shall we?"

Rory hesitated for a split second, switching her sights from his hopeful and waiting face to her mother's. The only guilt she felt for embarking on her journey without full disclosure to her mother was a slight twinge. It all but dissipated when Lorelai gave her a nod and a smile, and Rory took his hand. "Let's go."