He watched from the counter as she made her way to around the diner. She was thinner now, her young face aged, it was hard for her to conceal just how sick she was anymore. It broke his heart. He thought back to when she was younger. There wasn't a day when she wouldn't run through this place her long brown hair blowing as she ran, her laugher filling the whole room. She brought a joy to this place that was indescribable. She gave him a reason to live to run this place. He was nothing until her mother and her walked through that door all those years ago. Lorelai was the love of his life, but Rory she was his little girl. She had his heart in the palm of her hands and he knew that she was very aware of that fact at times. So, it killed him to sit and watch her get worst. Knowing that he can't do anything to make her better. All he could do was stand there and watch. "I am pretty sure that Kirk is stockpiling the Equal for home use." She said as she sat down in front of him. He tried to avoid looking into her blue eyes…that's where her pain showed the most. Anymore he all but collapses to the floor when he looks in her eyes.
"As long as he doesn't make me cut the crust off his sandwiches again I am fine with that." He replied as he looked at the counter. He knew that she could sense him pulling away from her over the past few months. It was the opposite reaction that her mother was having to the news. Lorelai barely lets the child out of her sight. He knew that was just as bad as him pulling away, but he didn't know what else to do.
"So, Jess gets in today right?" She asked as she looked up at him. He had almost forgotten that his sister was sending his nephew down here. Liz told him that Jess was having trouble in New York and maybe Luke could help straighten the boy out. Normally he would have fought it more, but he needed the help around the diner. After all who knew how long his little helper would even be able to sit here in the diner like she was at that moment. Lorelai was worried about Rory feeling like she was being replaced. Rory was an only child, a miracle that came into Lorelai's difficult time, but no matter what she was the best thing to happen to either of them. They had always spoiled her, she never had to share anything ever, but now she was going to have to share her room with some not even a real cousin that she never met before. It bugged Lorelai. Hell, it even bugged him a little. But, Rory didn't seem to care.
"Yep, his bus should be here in about an hour." He said as he looked at the clock on the back wall. "Maybe you should head home and help your mother set up for the crazy party that she is surely planning." He said as he looked up. He looked in her eyes and it was no time that he could feel a single tear running down his face.
"Why not?" Rory replied as she got up and walked towards the door. As he watched her walk out the door he wished he could do anything to fix everything. He just stood there staring at the door till the man who was sitting at the table farthest from the counter, the same one who was stockpiling the Equal call for him.
"Luke!" Kirk called as he held up his coffee mug for a refill.
"Get your own this time." Luke replied as he looked down at the counter again. Kirk was shocked by his words. It was an unwritten rule that the only people allowed behind that counter were Lorelai and Rory. Sometimes they even got hell for it and they were his family.
He looked out the window of the bus. As soon as they passed the 'Welcome to Stars Hallow' sign he knew that this place was his very own hell. He didn't understand why all the sudden Liz was worried about him. He managed to keep himself alive all these years as she worried about herself as she bounced from loser to loser, dead-end job to dead-end job. Yet, she flipped out all the sudden. So, here he was stepping off the bus in some dinky little small town. To be greeted by a man who looked like he stepped right out of a hunting fishing catalog. But, to be honest this is what he expected from what Liz said about her brother. It was no surprise to him that his Uncle Luke was there dressed in an old flannel shirt and a backwards baseball cap. However, he was surprised when he noticed the wedding ring on his finger. Liz had said something about her bother being a bachelor for life. Shows you how close those two are. "Well the house is this way." Luke finally said after their awkward greeting leading the way through what seemed to be the heart of town. It was just two years until graduation … no he still knew that he couldn't handle it.
Even the house that Luke led him to was too much. The little white house screamed American dream, perfect family. He could just already picture Luke married to one of those housewives that try to drown you with bake goods as they secretly pop pain pills at night to get through the next day. "Well this is it." Luke said as he held the door open for him. "LORE WE ARE HOME!" He called as he walked towards the kitchen. Jess didn't know what to do so he just followed him. There sitting at the kitchen table was who he assumed was Luke's wife crying her eyes out. There were tissues with blood on them sitting next to her. Luke just looked at her and then him before sitting down next to his wife. "Another nosebleed?" He asked as he wrapped an arm around her softly rubbing her back. She just looked at him and nodded.
"I told her to go lay down, but she just went ahead and left with Tristan." She added as she looked down at the table. Jess knew that he wasn't meant to hear all of this so he just walked back towards the living room. He dropped his bag by the sofa before walking over to the mantel. It was covered with pictures of a young girl who looked just like the older woman sitting in the kitchen. It must be their daughter he told himself as he picked up one to get a better look.
"That's my little Rory." He heard the woman from the kitchen say after about a minute. He just turned to look at her. She looked more together than she did in the kitchen.
"I figured." He replied as he set the picture down in its spot on the mantel.
"We have set up a cot in her room for you until Luke can make the garage into a room for you. I hope you don't mind sharing." She said as she studied him. He was about to reply when Luke came in.
"Hey I have to get back to the diner." He said as he looked at his wife, then at his nephew. "Call me when Rory gets home." He said as he hugged his wife.
"I will, don't forget Sookie and Jackson are coming for dinner tonight." She said as she let go of him.
"How could I you have reminded me every ten minutes for a week." He replied with a laugh. "Lorelai don't forget call me." He said before he walked out the door. He just sat there for a moment not wanting to speak. It was clear something was going on. He could tell from the pain that carried around Lorelai and Luke.
"Come on let me show you your room." She finally said as she smiled at him. He could tell that it was a forced smile.
She loved when things were this simple. When she didn't have to think about what was happening to her body. She was just Rory … well actually Mary when she was with Tirstan. That's what he had chosen to call her since they met because she was a little good girl, a virgin Mary. They were never really close until she got sick. He fled to her side for no reason it at all it seemed to her until he told her about his sister. She doesn't let herself think about that though in these moments. It would bring her back down to reality too much. "Let's do something crazy." She said as she smiled over at the blonde who was driving down the highway taking her back to Stars Hallow.
"You already are. Taking Political Life with Lockhart is crazy." He replied with a laugh as he looked over at her. Bringing up the schedules that they had just picked up. She should be over the moon about starting her junior year at Chilton, but with everything that was going on she couldn't allow herself to be. She was losing the importance of education more and more every day. She just wanted to do more than study.
"No something crazier." She replied as she looked out the window. "I want to go skinny dipping in the middle of the day out by Larson's Dock. I want to spray paint Taylor's grass and then blame it on Kirk just to see how many shades of red his face turns. I want to free fall off a roof while holding an umbrella. I just want to know what it's like to really live." She said as she smiled at him.
"Mar, you are living. You still have a pulse. Therefore you are living. You don't need to do anything stupid to prove that." Tristan replied sourly as he looked over at her. She just glared back at him. She thought him of all people would understand her need to be a little crazy. "Lorelai would kill me if I ever let you be that stupid." He sighed as he looked back at the road in front of him.
"I don't see why. By the time she was my age she had a baby. You can't get much stupider than that can you?" She asked him.
"Rory." He breathed. He only called her Rory when he was upset she knew that, but that didn't stop her from opening her big mouth up even more.
"Look how that turned out for her. She gave up everything. She gave up graduating high school, her dream of going to Yale…hell, she even gave up dad for me." She said as she looked at her hands down in her lap. She felt a tear make a path down her check, but she was determined not to let him see that. "And all she gets in return is pain. All I do is hurt her. She should have gotten rid of me when she had a chance." She muttered just loud enough for him to hear. He didn't say anything the rest of the drive. She wasn't sure if that made her happy or not. She wasn't sure of anything anymore.
"You know one day we might just have to go swimming down by the dock, but your clothes stay on. You would give half the men in this town a heart attack if they saw you naked. But, I never want to hear you talk about Lorelai that way again, you know she wouldn't trade you in for anything in the world." Tristan finally said as they sat there parked in front of her childhood home.
"Some days I just want it to be over already." She mumbled to him as they walked towards the front door.
He sat there on his little cot reading one of the books he brought with him on the bus. He wasn't sure what he was going to do when Liz sent the rest of his belongings. Maybe by then Luke would have made him a room in garage because there was no way you could possibly put any more stuff into the little room they stuck him in now. Not that it mattered. He was sure that everyone would be happier if he was killed by boxes. He just lost himself in a book, it was the only way to stop thinking about ways out of here. "Rory where the hell have you been!" He heard Lorelai practically yell as the front door slammed shut. He just put his book down listening to the noise out in the hall, but he couldn't make out what was being said really until Lorelai raised her voice again "Where are you going?"
"You wanted me to rest, so I am going to take a nap!" He heard a new voice yell before the young woman from the pictures came in the room slamming the door behind her.
"So, you're Rory." He said after it became clear that she didn't notice him. She just squealed as she turned around to look at him.
"Never scare me like that again." She said as she started to laugh. "It's nice to meet you Jess. I hope I won't be too much of a burden for you." She added as she sat down on her bed.
"Eh, just leave me your nap schedule and we should be fine." He replied as he got up. "Sleep tight." He said before he left the room to find Lorelai talking to another teen in the living room. He took this as his opportunity to sneak out the back door. He just needed to think.