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Chapter Three

Keeping Distances

Tristan Dugrey sat back in his comfortable leather chair, the enamelled oak desk in front of him gleaming in the artificial light. Casually piling together a couple of stray papers, he purposely shuffled them into a neat bundle, carefully laying them directly in front of him, not looking up at the bright-eyed, brown haired journalist in front of him, seeming to enjoy her discomfort.

"So what did you want, Mrs…" Tristan said, emphasising the 'Mrs' part. Rory flushed slightly.

"Gilmore," she finished his sentence sharply, and a little too quickly. Tristan looked up and examined the young lady in front of her. Stunning blue eyes stared back at him, portraying no discomfort, but it was her hands that betrayed her. She had the fingers of her right hand twisted tightly around the forth finger of her left hand – so tightly that the knuckles were white.

"But I thought that you were marri- " Tristan ventured bravely, but was cut off by an emotionless reply.

"I am."

"You married another Gilmore?" Tristan's voice was cool, but underneath the carefree exterior he had an irresistible hunger of curiosity for his old Chilton friend. He wanted…no he needed…to find out everything he could about her. He was concerned; she was obviously going through a tough time.

"I kept my name." Rory said flatly.

"Lucky that," Tristan murmured, his eyes probing. Rory shrugged, feigning slight annoyance even though her heart was pulsating in her chest, giving her a seemingly perpetual thudding in her ears and throat.

Tristan cleared his own throat, and suddenly snapped into business mode. Shoving his painstakingly assembled pile of papers away absently, he clasped his hands in front of him, trying to act professional. "So what was that you wanted?"

"I just wanted to… " Rory stammered, aware of Tristan's complete attention.

"You wanted to what?"

Rory's eyes glanced at a stray piece of paper that had floated over near her. Picking it up she heard Tristan sharply inhale behind her.

"Don't touch that."

Rory looked at him in surprise. "Why not?" she asked- intrigued for the first time in weeks. For one glorious moment, she wasn't thinking about Dean. Her eyes lighted up with the curiosity that every good journalist should feel when holding a 'confidential' document in their hand.

Tristan swallowed, and Rory saw that his ears were touched with pink. First sign of thinking under pressure…she thought automatically to herself. Now here come the lies…

"Because it's my speech. You know, for my official entrance into the company." Tristan lied, confirming Rory's prediction.

"Oh, so you wont mind if I proof-read it for you?" Rory asked innocently, and set her blue eyes on the paper. Tristan sat up swiftly and snatched the paper out of Rory's hand, but not before she got a good look at the first line.

No matter how bad things seem, there is someone out there…

"You wrote that!" Rory exclaimed after a long silence.

Tristan scratched a spot on the back of his head uncomfortably. "Yeah…"

"…Which means you read what I wrote before…" Rory's tone was accusing.

"Yeah…" Tristan's voice was reduced to nothing more than a hoarse whisper.

Rory let the air hang between them for a second, and then levelled her gaze with his.

"Stay out of my office."

*

Rory, in her thin black tank top and white denim shorts, ran to the door, her wet hair wrapped in a huge bundle of towel on top of her head, and her feet making slippery imprints on the ground. The knock on the door grew more urgent, and one word echoed through Rory's mind- Dean.

Unlocking the door with shaking hands, she prayed that David was asleep already- this was one conversation that she definitely did not want her son to hear.

Rory's face issued shock and unmerciful anger, though, as she saw who was on the other side of the door. Instead of the kind, loving husband that she had been expecting, what stood in front of her was a tower of muscle topped with blonde hair. The last person she wanted to see. It was Tristan.

"What on earth are you doing here?" she asked, trying to keep the disappointment out of her voice. Why can't he just leave me alone? Rory wondered inwardly. I've just got too much going on at the moment to deal with somebody who wont mind their own business!

"I wanted to apologise for this morning. Like, it was way out of line for me to go into your office. It was really unprofessional." Tristan averted his grey-green eyes the floor, shuffling uncomfortably. Rory could tell that he didn't apologise often.

"You came all the way here just to say that?" Rory asked, opening the door a little wider. A sudden suspicion struck her. "How did you get my address anyway?"

Tristan's cheeks seemed to take on a pink glow, but he answered her obligingly. "I looked it up in the company file."

"Oh."

Like a deer caught in the headlights Tristan awaited the furious rampage that he knew was coming.

"So you came here to apologise for invading my privacy, yet in doing so you invaded it once again?" Rory snapped.

"Uh…yeah, basically." Tristan admitted, feeling his pride sink lower and lower into the ground. How come every time she talks to me it's to say something angry? He thought. Take the hint, Dugrey.

When Rory just stared at him, he added unnecessarily, "Sorry." Time to leave. He advised himself inside his head.

"So I guess I'll be going…" he said awkwardly. "Uh…nice house."

"Thanks." Rory said quietly, and Tristan looked up just in time to see Rory slam the door in his face.

"Well that was uncalled for!" he shouted at the wooden door. When he received no reply he strode as quickly as he could out of Rory's front garden, glaring at some buttercups as he passed them.

*

Rory exhaled slowly, feeling guilty about slamming the door on Tristan. It wasn't him; really, he wasn't the cause of her slamming the door. The actual cause for her slamming the door was wrapping itself around her ankles, and looking up at her with gigantic eyes.

"Who was at the door, mommy?" Little David asked. Rory smiled and picked David up off the floor, rubbing his nose against hers.

"Just someone from work, sweetie," Rory said. For some strange reason which she couldn't pinpoint, she did not want Tristan to know that she had a son.

"It wasn't daddy?" Rory's heart fell.

"No, it wasn't daddy."

David looked at his mother sadly, and gave her a cuddle. "I thought you said he was coming back soon."

"He is coming back soon, honey." Rory said, swallowing and feeling tears sting her eyes. "Come on, it's time to go back to bed."

So with David curled up in her arms, she carried him to his room, laid him down in his bed, and watched him as he slept, letting the tears fall silently.

*

Dean came home later that night. He didn't bother knocking on the door; he just slammed his way in. Cheap wooden doors were cheap to fix, anyway. As he stepped into the lounge room, he saw that his wife and son had already gone to bed. Shouldn't they be waiting up for him? Weren't they worried about him when he didn't come home? Did they even care?

It didn't seem like it.

Dean grunted, and went upstairs into his and Rory's room. He saw the silent form of his wife sleeping in their queen-sized bed alone. Hovering over her he breathed loudly, the smell of beer polluting the air. Rory stirred and awakened, turning over warily and switching on a lamp. Her blue eyes met his brown, angry ones.

Oh, he would make those innocent blue eyes pay, he thought in his drunken head. He'd make her pay for not caring. For…for…what was it again? Images flashed in his mind. Blonde hair…wrapping himself around his wife. Yes, that was it. She was cheating on him with a blonde haired man. Well, Dean would definitely make her pay.

"Dean?" Rory's soft voice cut through his thoughts. "Dean…?"

Dean turned down to face his wife. Rory caught the angry, dangerous glimpse in his eyes. He lunged at her. She tried to move away but he was just too fast. He pinned her arms down on the bed, and lay on top of her, pushing the entire weight of his body on her so that she couldn't escape. Then he started kissing her violently. She winced and tried to get away as he forced her shirt off, then started screaming, pleading for someone to help her…

But no help came.

*

David woke to the sound of his mother screaming. Drowsily getting out of his bed, he rubbed the sleep out of his eyes and toddled towards her room to check if she was okay. Walking down the hallway he saw that her bedroom door was open. He saw that she was lying on her bed, his daddy on top of her.

"Daddy!" he squealed with happiness, and ran towards his father, his arms outstretched. Dean looked up from Rory, who was now whimpering, to see his son come running at him. Using one strong arm he whacked his son on the head, once, twice, three times, until the annoying kid fell to the ground, unconscious. Ignoring Rory's screams for her son, he turned back to her and continued what he had started, not noticing the phone ringing in the background…

*

Tristan looked up at the starless sky, waiting for Rory to pick up the phone. She wasn't answering, and Tristan couldn't understand why he kept trying. She obviously didn't want him around. Well, that was fine with him. He was her boss, anyway. They had to keep their relationship professional, which meant he had to ignore the feeling in his chest every time he saw her, and that instinctive force in his brain that somehow always encouraged him to act like a moron. Finally hanging up the phone, he decided that he would just have to keep his distance from Rory Gilmore.