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.

Rory climbed under the covers and molded her body to the warm form already occupying the small space of her bed. Her cooler skin caused Tristan to stir, but instead of retracting from the jarring temperature difference, he pulled her in closer to him.

"Is this a stolen moment?" he asked quietly.

"Not a proper one. Mom had an early morning staff meeting. We're alone," she confided. "Did you sleep well?"

"Well enough. You?"

She silently shook her head. He pressed his lips against her cheek in response. She curled up into him and closed her eyes. She didn't want to sleep now that they had a clock looming over their time together. She'd stay awake the whole time if it meant she got a little more time with him.

"I want to come with you," she said softly into his chest.

He let out a breath. "Me too, but," he began. He stopped short, not wanting to give credence to anything that would serve to separate them. "It is what it is. It's not forever."

It would feel like forever. Her silence was serving as a buffer, but she knew she had to let him in on the reality of her situation sooner or later. What was best for him had to take precedence over what was best for her, at least for now. Her summer would involve her mother trying to cheer her up and letting her help plan the wedding, but all Rory would remember was how much she missed Tristan and the fact that he wouldn't be her date to the wedding or any other event. He'd be in France, safe and probably moving on. The thought made her stomach roll.

"It's just not going to be easy," she managed.

"I know. But we'll figure something out, a way to make it more bearable."

"Tristan," she began haltingly.

"We can talk later," he shushed her, before dragging his lips across hers. The movement sent shivers up her spine and down to her core. He lowered himself down over her, and she sank onto her back to accommodate the shift in position. Her hand skimmed down his chest until she found that he wore only boxers to bed. Suddenly she found herself overheating in a state of overdress.

Before she met him, she would have put reason before the basic need to touch him. She needed to know what his grandfather had said to him the night before and she needed to know where they would stand after that day. But before she heard the news that would possibly seal their fate, she wanted to be with him one more time with as much ignorance in regard to their time left together as possible. She didn't want it to feel like the last time, even if that's what it was. She wanted to get lost in him, enjoy every last achingly good second they spent in her bed. Reality would come soon enough. She just hoped her priorities were ones she'd look back on without regret.

His face was as close to hers without touching as it could be. His breath tickled the peach fuzz on her cheek. She shivered in his arms as they stilled momentarily. "Are you okay?"

She nodded and smiled, despite the rush of other emotions coursing through her. She was with him and solely due to that, she was happy. "I'm just trying to stay in the moment," she answered honestly. She knew he understood the mixed bag of emotions she was juggling at the moment. He was as mired in them as she.

"Let me help you," he offered as his body began to move against hers again. She gave a soft moan, wrapped her hands around his shoulders, and let him melt all her worries away.

-X-

Lorelai eyed Rory across the table at Luke's Diner. She chewed her last bite of burger and set it down on her plate. "Aren't you going to eat anything? Is the burger okay? I'm happy to send it back and give Luke a hard time. I haven't made smoke come out of his ears in at least a week."

Rory shook her head and pushed her plate away. "Not hungry, I guess."

Lorelai frowned and leaned forward on her elbows. "Did you talk to him about what happens after he leaves?"

Rory slumped down in her chair. "He kept changing the subject, or cutting me off and saying that things would work out. I know he's not an eternal optimist, and he was just dodging my attempts."

"Maybe he's smarter than I give him credit for and he was trying to make sure you didn't break up with him before he could leave. And it's possible that he's optimistic about you, if nothing else."

Rory recoiled in surprise. "You're rooting for him?"

"I don't know, I mean, clearly I'm not his biggest fan, but he makes you happy and he is getting a really raw deal at home. I'm not made of stone," Lorelai explained.

"I don't know what's wrong with me. I should have just ended things and let it be clear cut and simple. But every time I even thought of starting the conversation, I got this terrible pain in my stomach."

"Oh, Honey," Lorelai sighed, sad for her daughter who was clearly in the throes of heartache.

Rory looked down at her untouched plate. "You're thinking that you raised me to be smarter than this."

Lorelai shook her head. "No, I was thinking that I'm proud of you and glad that I raised a kid with such a good heart. I can't be upset at you for being in love."

Rory met her mother's eyes. "Grandma was upset at you for being in love."

Lorelai shrugged at the comparison. "That's a whole other kettle of fish. I was pregnant. Grandma was actually pleased as punch at the match before we selected that faulty condom."

"Did she know you were having sex?" Rory asked quietly.

Lorelai's eyes widened. "That's open to interpretation. I think she assumed, even though her arduous attempts at snooping didn't reveal much. I kept my tracks pretty well covered, until I started to show, anyhow."

"You didn't tell her?"

"Not until way after the fact. Even then, she just brought in a host of clergymen to try to set me straight and make sure I'd seen the error of my ways as if having a child wasn't a big enough crimp to my normal teenage hijinks."

"Thank you for not snooping, and for not freaking out when I told you. You were great last night, with him, and calming me down."

"That's my one goal in life, to not react like my mother. And I'm glad you both feel you can come to me with stuff. I want our lines of communication to remain open. When you took refuge at my parent's house, I was afraid that part of what we had might have been lost. It's okay for you to want your own stuff, and your space, but it would kill me if I thought you ever felt like you had to hide things."

Rory smiled, despite her saddened state. "I'd say I'm about as transparent as I can possibly be at this point."

"Good. So, how about we pack these burgers up and take them home? I think we need movies, and last time I asked Luke to set up a TV down here, he brought down this tiny toy-looking monitor that only projected fuzzy images in black-and-white."

Rory shook her head with a slight chuckle. "At least the man tries to cater to your whims. He should be given credit for that."

Lorelai's focus turned behind her daughter, no doubt to the counter. She seemed lost in thought. "He should indeed."

-X-

Rory took phone and door duty that evening as she and her mother curled up on the couch under blankets with a host of dessert snacks and the remote. Though both women were equally likely to be the subject of either kind of caller, Rory was acutely aware that her time on the same continent with her boyfriend was declining and there was a big part of her that was hopeful he'd make extra time to see her via an unannounced visit.

When the doorbell rang, Lorelai offered an anticipatory grin and Rory hopped off the couch and made for the door. She opened it, fully expecting to see Tristan, but instead was confronted with another Dugrey man.

"Oh, hi. Um, Tristan's not here," she said with a hint of a frown.

Janlan nodded. "I know. May I come in?"

Rory stepped back and gestured for him to enter the home. Lorelai had extracted herself from under the blankets and came into the foyer to greet their guest.

"Mr. Dugrey, nice to see you again."

"Miss Gilmore. Is it all right with you if I speak with Rory for a moment?"

Lorelai patted Rory on the shoulder. "Sure. Use the living room. Can I get you anything to drink?"

Janlan shook his head. "No thank you. I won't be long."

Rory moved in to sit on the couch as Janlan too rest on their arm chair. "Is Tristan okay? Did something else happen?"

"He's fine. Well, that's not true. He's not really been himself lately, especially since it was decided you should stay stateside during his trip."

"It wasn't my decision, it was my mother's, and I'm afraid her mind isn't easily changed," she informed him woefully.

He held up a hand. "I agree with her decision, it's the only choice she has, really. All children should have parents who look out for their best interests. Tristan hasn't had that kind of luxury in his life."

Rory nodded. "But he has you."

Janlan folded his hands in his lap. "And to that end, there will be some restructuring and things will take some time to work out, but I'm intent on seeing them through, for his sake. Forgive me if this sounds out of my reach, but he confided in me that you were thinking of ending things, to make his transition out of his current situation more clear cut."

Her mouth opened to explain herself, but she sealed her lips shut promptly and nodded for him to continue.

"I would like to ask you to let me worry about that. It's not a burden I would like to put on either of you, at least, if that was your only reason for thinking of ending the relationship."

"It was."

"I know it's hard, the situation the two of you find yourselves in. But if you can have a little patience, with him and with me, I believe we can find a resolution that avoids you breaking his heart."

"I don't want that, I just can't stand the thought of him living with his parents," she said with quiet resolve.

"I should have done something before now. There have been incidents in the past, things I let slide because I feel a man should deal with family issues on his own. My son is not doing as such and I can't stand by any further, now it falls to me."

"Does that mean… are you still leaving tomorrow?"

"Yes, our departure will remain the same. Like I said, this will take some time to sort out, but legal issues being what they are, our return will be sooner rather than later. If he wants to come back to finish out his schooling, then I'll make that happen. I just wanted to avoid any other unnecessary pain in regard to the two of you."

Rory nodded. "I understand. Thank you."

Janlan rose. "I should go."

Rory stood up to see him out. "I know your flight is tomorrow, but is there any way," she led.

He paused as the front door and smiled at her. "I'll send him around in the morning, before we head to the airport."

She smiled, relief filling her. "Thank you. Again, for everything. For looking out for him, most of all."

He gave a brief nod and then took his leave. Rory shut the door and wandered back into the kitchen, where her mother was standing at the counter, eating a popsicle and reading a magazine. She glanced up at Rory's entrance.

"Everything okay?"

Rory crossed to the freezer and pulled out a popsicle. She unwrapped it and took a small bite. "I think so."

"What did he say?"

Rory took another bite. "He didn't want me to give up on Tristan."

"I don't think that was ever in doubt," Lorelai scoffed.

"If I could have, I would have," Rory said seriously.

"I know you want to do the right thing, all the time, but the moment your heart gets involved things get complicated," Lorelai reasoned.

"It doesn't have to be that way. You and Max worked things out because you were in love, right?"

Lorelai sputtered. "You mean other than him being your teacher and us living in separate towns and the fact I have a kid to add to the mix? Yeah, it's totally uncomplicated other than that."

"But it worked out, eventually. You overcame all that."

Lorelai took a bite of her popsicle, finishing it off. "What exactly did Janlan say to you?"

Rory let the total change of subject slide. "He said that he was going to look out for Tristan because his parents aren't going to. He said that if Tristan wants to come back here to finish high school, he'll make sure that happens."

"So he's staying?"

"No, they still leave tomorrow."

"But they'll be back by the end of summer or before?"

"He didn't say."

Lorelai's eyebrows rose knowingly. "Honey, I realize he gave you hope, but if he's trying to protect Tristan, that doesn't mean he's going to do what's best for you, too."

"What does that mean?"

"That means he didn't make a promise to you, and Tristan hasn't made any promises to you. Has he?"

Rory tensed up. "What kind of promises?"

"You're young. It is not reasonable to believe that you'll be with him in two years' time, and the eventuality that you end up marrying him is slim to none."

"I really don't want to have this conversation," Rory said, throwing a road block into their chat.

"I thought you said we were fine, and that we could talk openly."

"We can, but I just got a sliver of hope about my relationship, which you said you were good with, and yet you're undercutting it the first chance you get."

"I'm not. You've been lamenting about how you don't like the fact that you're not being rational about things when it comes to him. I'm trying to help you."

"Well, it doesn't feel helpful. It feels smothering."

"You did not just say that," Lorelai said, putting her hand up. "I've been nothing but supportive, even though I had to bite my tongue about your judgment in having sex with him."

"It was my decision, not yours," she tossed back angrily.

"You let your emotions get the better of you. He's about to leave the country, God knows when he's coming back, and what if he decides life in France is better for him? You can't get your virginity back. It's gone, and for a guy that is on a plane tomorrow."

"You talk about him like I don't know him. He was there for me when I needed someone, and I will do the same for him."

"Having sex is being there for him? How did he get you to buy that line?"

Rory balled her hands into fists at her sides. "It was nothing like that. I had sex with him because I wanted to, not because he wanted to."

"Please do not try to tell me he didn't want to," Lorelai laughed harshly.

"He loves me. He's coming back from France, for me. I'm not going to stand here and let you pick on him when he's not even here to defend himself. And he shouldn't have to. He's been through enough without having to deal with the fact that you aren't ready for me to grow up."

"I just think you have no idea what you're getting yourself into, what you're signing up for. You're going to get hurt, whether he does it intentionally or not," Lorelai said, her voice pleading for her daughter to understand.

"Then I guess I'll take that risk," Rory said, heading to her room.

"Are you going to bed?" Lorelai asked as Rory started to shut her door.

"Sure. I have nothing else to say to you right now anyway," Rory said, her hurt apparent through her stony exterior.

"I have to work early. If you need anything," Lorelai began.

"I can take care of myself. Goodnight."

Rory closed the door and took a deep breath. She picked up the cordless phone from her desk and dialed quickly. "Hey. I need some fresh air. Can you come over?"

-X-

They walked along in companionable silence. It wasn't a first for them, and she hoped it wouldn't be their last. He slipped her hand into his as they continued toward a patch of trees, illuminated only by the spring moon. "We could have taken a drive."

"I like walking."

"Fair enough. Are you going to tell me what happened?"

Rory turned to assess him. He looked different in the moonlight, younger somehow. His black eye was less noticeable and he was wearing street clothes that might have made him blend in with a crowd had there been anyone else near them. Though even in his uniform, which was identical to the one all the other boys at school wore, he always stood out to her. "Your grandfather stopped by."

"When, tonight?"

She nodded. "I… thought about it a lot, you know. Ending things between us. It makes the most sense."

"Rory," he began in protest.

"I can't do it," she supplied to relieve his mind. "If I could, I would have by now. It's too late."

"Good, I'm glad we agree," he said smoothly, but quick enough to show he was ready for the conversation to wrap.

"Is it good?" she questioned just as quickly.

"Yes."

"Why won't you admit that just because it's what you want, that doesn't make it the best option?" she asked, her frustration breaching its limit.

"There's no such thing as a perfect world. The list of things I don't like about my life, the things I'd change, it might as well be part of my DNA. I've learned to live around it. I can deal with all of that. What I don't want to deal with is losing you because of any of that. That necessitates a change."

She stopped and looked around the empty space that comprised her sleepy little town at night. They were off the beaten path, but not by much. Stores had long-since closed for the evening and people were at home, either asleep or heading that way. So much was taken for granted in the safe hamlet. She knew no life was perfect, even the ones like hers that appeared that way on the surface. She once thought his only problem was boredom, long ago when she'd only really taken note of him from the periphery of her world.

"What kind of change? Your grandfather was kind of light on specifics."

"He's going to assume guardianship of me."

"But how? Will your parents even agree to that?"

He paused, lost in thought for a moment. "He has the means to convince them not to fight it."

"Money?" she asked knowingly.

"If it comes to that, but he has other tricks up his sleeve."

"Do I want to know?" she asked, her increasing concern weighing on her words.

"It doesn't matter. It's only for a few months anyhow. Then I'm eighteen and it's over."

"Will it ever be over? You're supposed to learn the family business and inherit an entire section of France!"

"It's acreage, not a province," he downplayed.

"It's your life. And it's not going to magically disappear," she said.

"But then I'll have a say, I'll have options."

A breath left her, like a hit to the chest. "I'm an option?"

He pulled her in against him. "I didn't mean it like that. Look, I know your mom doesn't want you near my family or away from her, and I know it might not be easy, but we don't have to live according to anyone else's rules once we're eighteen."

"I can't make a decision now about what I will want in two years. I have to make decisions based on what's happening now."

"So what do you want to happen now?" he pressed.

"I don't know. I don't really want to go home. You leave in the morning and my mom is just being so impossible."

"I can take you anywhere you want to go," he offered.

She held up her hand, frustrated by the way her head kept whirling with the mounting drama of every single decision she had to make. It all seemed too much, each contrasting choice, and each direction she was offered pulled her too far. Everything was tied to her future and her loyalties, and she just wanted to make a decision that wasn't a matter of life or death—be it literal or existential.

"I just want to go out with my boyfriend, without having to choose between him or my mother or what country I'm going to go to college in. I want to get ice cream and hold hands in a movie theater. I want normal, that's all," she exclaimed, all her pent-up energy coming out with her words.

He nodded and put his hand on the back of her head. He pulled her in gently, until she was resting face-first in his chest. "I get it."

She leaned back and stared up at him. "Do you?"

He bent down to kiss her softly. "Yeah."

"It isn't that I don't want ask you to take me with you, away from fighting with my mom without a thought as to what that would do to her. But I did that, you know, when I took off to my grandparents, and no matter how tense things get, it doesn't help. Running away does no good, tempting as it is," she said, ending with a smile.

"So we can't run away together, and get married in some backward state that allows sixteen year olds to make terrible decisions without parental permission?"

"I think I'll pass," she agreed amicably.

He dipped his head again, brushing his lips over her forehead. "I didn't plan to make things more complicated for you. That isn't what I wanted at all."

She looked up at him thoughtfully. "What did you want?"

"Ironically, not to screw up the shot you finally gave me."

She put her hand over his heart, which he covered with his. "Walk me home?"

He smiled at her. "I'll even give you a boost back up into your window, so you don't alert the whole neighborhood that you're sneaking back in."

Their hands remained linked as they dropped between them and they began the walk back to her house. "See? Sneaking out is a totally normal teenage thing to do."

"Trust me, I wish all I was doing was getting you into normal teenage trouble. It's kind of my specialty."

If that was her one shot at a normal date with him, it would have to be enough for now. She only hoped that she wouldn't have to wait too long to get another chance to be with him at the risk of angering her mother in favor of getting into trouble with him. He'd been worth the risk so far, and she was in way too deep to turn back now.