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GG Fic: Sometimes You Do 5/40

A/N:  And now it's time for Rory's big night out.  What are the chances that it goes just like she wants?  I'm very grateful for the reviews--and that I haven't bored people completely yet.  Granted, it's only chapter five, so I have plenty of more chances to lose you all :)  I am especially thrilled by those of you who are taking the time to review every chapter--it's totally make the fact that I spent over a year on this fic worthwhile.  All other notes in part one!  Previous parts here.

CHAPTER FIVE

He was right where she thought he'd be.  Sitting in the town square, in one of those little benches they installed, the kind that she and Dean had spent so many nights on, sharing ice cream, sharing kisses, sharing lives.

It was different now, though.  He looked different.  Older.  Maybe sadder.  Maybe wiser.  Just...different.  Like something had changed in him that she couldn’t quite figure out, not yet.  But something she definitely wanted to learn.  Dean had never been a man of mystery, and, Rory had to admit, it was strangely alluring to think of something about him that wasn’t plainly obvious.

Yet, still, somehow, this whole scene, this whole feeling--it was the same.  The same people milling around.  The same smell of fresh clean air that she'd missed so much while away.  The same street lights glowing, the same shops and restaurants, the same stars twinkling overhead.

Rory didn't totally believe in fate, but she had to believe that there something special about tonight.  Just like there was something special about today, about being back, about all of it.  Like there was a reason she turned Logan down all those years ago, a reason she quit her job in such a tizzy, a reason she'd driven a U-Haul all the way across the country to get back to her roots.

It was her second coming out.  The reinvention of herself.  All of it was leading to this and she was just excited.  All the same things--new again.  How it all worked together, she couldn't be sure yet, but she was sure that it was going to be fantastic.

She was nearly in front of Dean before he saw her--it seemed his eyes had been everywhere be on her.  So much so that he jumped a little when she said, "Hey there."

He blinked, startled, and straightened, pushing himself to his feet almost out of instinct.  "Hey," he said, and she could feel his eyes roving up and down her body, almost in surprise.  "You look good."

She smiled.  There was a time when it would have made her blush, but she couldn't help but think that maybe, this time, he was right.  "Thanks," she replied, letting her eyes sweep over him.  "You look good, too."

She was right, too.  Tall and lean and, though he’d always been prone to slightly trendy attire, there was something just offbeat enough about the collared polo to really do him every kind of of favor.  The wash on the jeans was perfect for him, and the cut did everything to accentuate just how long his legs were.  And that only began to hint at the bulk that lurked beneath his polo.  It was almost preppy, but not quite.  Moderately fashionable, but understated.  Not like Logan.  Not like Jess.  Not even like the Dean of her youth.

But good, nonetheless. 

"So," he said, shoving his hands in his pockets.  "How'd your first day go?"

Her eyes brightened.  He remembered.  Of course he remembered.  He always did.  "Good," she said.  "I think my first article will be a total success.  Unlike anything the town has ever seen before."

He laughed a little.  "Somehow, I don't doubt that," he said.  "I just hope the town is ready for the news by Lorelai Gilmore."

Rory tossed her head proudly.  "Ready or not, here I come," she said.  "I think this place is ready for a change."

Dean just raised his eyebrows.  "You have been gone a long time."

"So have you, from what I've heard," she said.

His shrug was noncommittal.  "Just college," he said.  "I was home in the summer."

"Just college," she said.  "Just college?  College is an amazing step for you."

He looked at her, a little confused, a little uncertain--and hurt.  "Yeah, well, I guess I'm just full of surprises."

"I just meant that it's amazing you finally went," she said, hoping to reassure him.  "That's very noble.  Respectable.  I told you back then that most people who delay going just never go.  So, it really says something about you that you made it after all."

She was trying hard to be uplifting, to be complimentary, but even she was aware of the inescapable condescension in her voice.

"You know, just ignore me," she said finally.  "As you can see, I still haven't become more articulate in my years away."

At that, he did smile.  "And you call yourself a journalist."

"Well, that is the beauty of the written word," she said.  "There's always the power to change it.  I seem to have this small issue with speaking, though.  As in, there is no filter between my brain and my mouth."

He nodded with mock seriousness.  "I seem to remember that."

Her grin widened.  "So where would you like to go to dinner?  The sky's the limit."

"Oh, such options," Dean said.  "Luke's is always a good choice."

"I was thinking someplace I didn't visit on a daily basis.  You know, just for variety's sake."

"Fair enough," he said.  "Have you been to Sweet Aroma's yet?  Only a few years old and they overcook their meat, but their pasta's pretty good.  It's where Jojo's used to be before it went belly up."

First of all, Jojo's was gone?  She'd been gone too long.  She knew life had to go on without her--she was that self centered to actually believe the world revolved around her.  And still, the idea of it--the idea of Stars Hollow without her--was just...weird.  Surreal.  This was her town.  These were her streets.  This was her Dean.  All of it, her domain, and yet she was half fumbling around like a tourist trying to find the road out of town.  

Second of all, Dean knew all about it.  Dean knew everything.  Dean was Dean was Dean was Dean and why did she feel so utterly out of the loop when this was Dean?  She hadn’t flailed around Dean since they’d first started dating, when she’d been a star struck school girl amazed a boy would notice her at all.

Fumbling and flailing--at least her failure was full of alliteration. 

But seriously.  She needed to stay together.  Stay composed.  Tonight was going to go well.  She was resolved on that much, even if Jojo’s was gone and Dean was giving her butterflies in the stomach.

For once in her life, the words stayed in her head, and she offered him a smile instead.  "Great.”

He gave her an appraising look, questioning just for a moment, before he took her at her word and smiled back.

As they fell into step with one another, Rory felt the flush of heat on her cheek as she remember what this felt like, what Dean felt like, what Rory and Dean felt like, and wondered why of all the places, he wanted something new when she was more than content to stick with what worked.

-o-

It was like heaven, like walking on cloud nine, like having her cake and eating it, too, like any and every cliche of perfection and happiness she could think of.

Dinner was delicious, much better than she remembered for a Stars Hollow delicacy.  The atmosphere was serene, like the stuff of movies.  And Dean's company was--Dean's company was so much more than she'd remembered.  Dean had always been fun and he'd always tried so hard to converse on the topics that mattered to her--but now, there was a innate way about him.  Like he knew exactly what he was talking about.  Like he could match her, not just wit for wit, but tidbit of knowledge for tidbit of knowledge, philosophy for philosophy.  He'd grown up quite nicely and she hadn't realized it until then.  And she liked it.  She liked it a lot.

It wasn't just Dean that she liked, either.  It was catching up.  It was feeling at home again.  After four years away, of trying to find her place in the world, it felt good to come back to something so snug and easy to fit into.  Like a breath of fresh air.

She was fond of her cliches tonight. 

But it was such a stereotypical night on every level.  Part of that was pure happenstance, she was sure--the weather, the cordial atmosphere around town--but part of it was just Dean.  The way he'd always been so much the gentleman.  From the first time he'd talked to her, to the way he'd first kissed her, to the way he'd always opened the door for her and put a gentle (yet massive) arm around her shoulder.

Logan had been keen on that kind of thing, too, but she had to admit, it seemed kind of rote from him.  Part of his training.  With Dean--well, with Dean it felt like something special because most random guys who liked cars weren't innate gentlemen.  And she'd met his father.  It wasn't exactly an inherited trait.

It was hard to believed there'd been a time in her life when this had been the norm.  Friday night movies, dinners out on Saturdays, Dean, with his floppy hair, wearing one of the two nice shirts he owned.

To his defense, he had clearly diversified his wardrobe in the years since then, and it made her feel all the more excited to be there.

Besides, he could still make her laugh.  A lot.  Which she did.  A lot.  Perhaps a bit more “giddy school girl” than she normally liked to project, but the magic of the night was upon her, and for the first time since being home, it felt like she'd never left.

She'd ordered pasta and he'd ordered a burger and he was watching her with rapt attention. 

"It was good, though," she tried to explain.  "Living on my own was sort of liberating.  I mean, I'd been away from home before and all, but having my own place, my own space.  I liked living with Paris throughout college, but you know, it was Paris.  I never really knew I had a decorating style until I had the chance to buy my own stuff."  She did not feel compelled to mention Logan.  Not now.  Maybe not ever.

He was nodding.  "I think you'd have a very eclectic style.  Based on books as decoration."

She raised an eyebrow.  "Books as decoration?"


"Sure," he said.  "I'm seeing large mahogany book cases, filled with tattered paperbacks and a coffee table strewn with stacks."

The way he said it almost made her want to salivate.  "I wish!" she said.  "Mahogany book cases would be lovely, however, expensive.  Journalists don't get paid that well."

He looked skeptical.  "Not even ones at the Detroit Free Press?"

The way he said it made her blush.  "I was only a staff reporter."

"Still," he said.  "You needed mahogany book cases.  Where else would you put your collection?"

"Wal-Mart has a lovely selection."

"Of particle board!" he exclaimed.  "Don't tell me you had particle board for your books!"

She shrugged meagerly.  "As you said, I do have many."

"That's a crime," he said with a shake of his head.  "You deserve built ins--wood stain of your choice, but a wall full of book.  Floor to ceiling.  Better yet, a library.  Complete with a run-down chair that you can curl up in and have it seated right by the window."

It was like he knew her.  Which, of course he did.  They had dated, after all, and it wasn't a mystery that he'd been sort of completely in love with her.  Still, it made her warm inside to think about, to hear him speak, to know how well he still knew her.  "Only in my dream house," she said.  "Not my cramped loft.  Literally, only two rooms, and that's a stretch, since the bathroom door hardly ever latched."

Dean laughed.  "How you suffered for your art," he said.

"Well, that is the sign of a true enthusiast," she said. "Which, I'm sure you know.  Why else would you willingly get under a car for hours on end?"

"The fantastic view, of course," Dean said, not missing a beat.  "That and the grease everywhere.  Makes quite a fashion statement.  And saves on moisturizer for my hair but ups the need for shampoo so that’s kind of a wash.  Literally."

"All those years at college, and that is what you pick up on?" Rory asked.  "I should have gone into engineering.  Sounds far less complicated than journalism and literature any day of the week."

With a scoff, Dean shifted in his seat, amused.  "You think that's all there is to engineering?"

"Playing with cars, learning how to make grease look attractive."

Dean smirked.  "Never mind the advanced levels of math and physics required," he said.  "You can imagine that was a long four years.  I never was very good at math, but there I was taking advanced Calculus.  I had to study my butt off that semester to make it through."

Rory had to admit, she was impressed.  She had told Dean often that he could achieve more, and she had always encouraged him to reach for something higher, but in a way she guessed she'd never really expected an engineering degree at UConn.  This was, after all, the same kid who had sat uncomfortably at her grandfather's dinner table saying that he didn't know what he wanted to do.  And tinkering with cars, no matter how good he had been, was a far cry from completing a full-on engineering degree.

"What?" Dean asked, a little uncomfortable, and it finally dawned on Rory that she'd been staring in a not-so-subtle manner.

"Nothing," she said quickly, looking down and picking up her water.  "I'm just impressed, that's all."

"Yeah, who'd a thought, right?  Dean Forester actually did something with his life."

Rory could not help but wince.  "Dean, I didn't mean--"

He shrugged.  "It's okay," he said.  "That's what everyone thinks.  That's the thing with doing something unexpected.  Everyone acts all surprised that you could do it in the first place, which just makes you wonder how much they believed in you to begin with."

There was an undeniable undercurrent of melancholy in his voice, and his eyes were cast downward, almost wistfully.  She couldn't help but feel guilt.  "Well, either way," she said, forcing a smile to her face.  "I'm glad you went for it.  Just for yourself.  That's the way it should be.  More people would be happy if we all just did what we really wanted."

Dean looked up at her.  "You've never had a problem with that," he said.

It wasn't quite supportive, but it wasn't quite mean, so Rory pressed her lips together in a smile.  "So, how did you end up back here?" she asked.

He ducked his head a little.  "I'm sure you've heard the story. You have been back a full two days."

"Well I heard the basics," she said.  "About your dad.  I'm sorry.  How is he?"

Dean shrugged a little, still not looking up at her.  "He's hanging in there," Dean said.  "They haven't released him from the cardiac unit just yet--they think he may need another surgery to get back up to par, but he's doing better than he was."  Dean smiled wryly.  "He's with it enough to grill me about the store.  So, I have to make sure it's in tip top condition."

"You're working at the store and the mechanic shop?"

His smile turned shy at that.  "That's mostly for me," he said, looking up at her through the veil of his bangs.  "I miss working on cars, you know?  After four years of immersing myself in it, it just didn't seem right not to.  Plus, money is tight at home.  I needed a little more to help cover the basic expenses."

There was such duty, such responsibility in that, that Rory felt weighed down just by listening.  "That must be so hard," she said.  "How long do you think you'll have to stay?"

"Hard to say," he said.  "At least until my dad's able to run the store full-time.  Even then, maybe a bit longer.  My mom's had to take some time off work to help take care of my dad.  And the medical bills...well, insurance hasn't been as great as we'd hoped.  We'll just see."

"But what about what you want?  I mean, aren't there other places you want to apply?"  It was an innocent question, a very Rory question, but the minute she asked it, she saw the tension tighten in Dean's expression.

The fear for his family, the joy of working with cars--all vanished.  "No point in thinking about that now," he said. 

She wanted to push for more, to ask more questions, but she recognized that look.  That hurt look, that regretful look, the one a heartbeat away from shutting down.  He'd given it to her before, almost always when it came to facing his own plans for the future.  The way he looked when he first asked about if they'd make it in college.  The way he looked when her grandfather told him that he wasn't good enough.  The way he'd look when Rory had disapproved of his marriage.  The way he looked when Rory let him walk away that last night.

And it occurred to her that maybe Dean Forester wasn't as totally impenetrable as she thought.  That he was riddled with just as many doubts, if not more, than everyone else.

So she smiled.  "So how's Clara?"

If her blatant attempt to lighten the mood with a friendlier subject was obvious, he didn't let on.  She could only be grateful that, in addition to being sweet and attractive and funny, he was also practically obscenely polite most of the time.

Sitting there, watching him eat, seeing the dimples coming and going on his cheeks with the soft haze of perfection about her, she couldn't help but think that she was sixteen again, that this was their first date, that she was unbelievably, nearly unnaturally lucky.

-o-

He walked her home.

She'd expected it, of course, but had been surprised that she nearly had to cajole him into doing it.

It seemed that while he was the same friendly, polite, well-mannered and good-humored Dean, he was also, now, a little shy.  Odd, yes, but workable, she figured.  Maybe she was underestimating the effect that the years had had on him.  Because it had been, well, years.

Still, surely he could feel it.  How right it seemed.  How it was like they'd never even been apart, like there'd been no Jess, no Lindsay, no Logan, no anybody.

He didn't hold her hand, but they walked side by side, Rory trying desperately to keep her hand movements to a minimum.  She didn't need to spoil the evening with her own insanity, though she doubted that Dean would mind.  Dean never had, but she couldn't take that risk.  And just because she felt sixteen, didn't mean she should act that way.  She at least had to make attempt to match Dean's level of maturity.

He asked her about the paper, about her little apartment back in Detroit.  He asked about how it felt to be successful, what she wanted to do next.  He let her talk, like he always had, listening while she rambled about freedom and challenges and this vague sense of greatness she still couldn't quite place.

In fact, she talked so much that she was almost surprised when they arrived at her house.  Almost surprised.  Definitely disappointed.

He lingered at the sidewalk, clearly hesitant to go farther.  So she lingered, too, turning toward him with a smile.  "So," she said.  "That was fun.  A good time.  Catching up.  Getting to know you again."

His look was hesitant, but he smiled.  "Yeah," he agreed.  "I'm glad things are going so well for you."

"And you," she replied quickly.  "I mean, it's so crazy all the time that's past and we both end up back here.  Just like before.  It's almost like we're both the new kids again and there's all this new stuff to figure out."

"Rory, you're hardly the new kid," he said.  "I don't think the town ever got over you leaving."

She rolled her eyes.  "Well, Stars Hollow does seem to be sorely lacking in the news department.  And it doesn't seem like the Gilmores are for doing things under the radar.  Perfect combination for drama, if you think about it, and yet everyone seems to win."

His laugh was light.  "Well, some things will never change.  Stars Hollow and Gilmores included."

She watched him speak, the way his jaw moved, the way his hair settled on his head.  "And some things do," she said, a little awed in spite of her supreme effort to be utterly mature and perhaps demure if she could pull if off.  She couldn’t.  "Like you.  I still can't believe it."

"Really, Rory, people grow up and go to college all the time."

"I know," she said quickly, her aspirations for demure seeming comical now.  "I do.  I just remember how excited I was to hear about it.  And it's just so great to be able to sit here with you now and listen to you talk about it.  Or stand here.  I just always imagined this for you and there you are.  More than I could have thought."

"Yeah, well, I guess I'm just full of surprises," he told her softly.

There was a pause, a pregnant one, laden with desire and unspoken words.  There it was again, screaming out at her--that chemistry, that unstoppable feeling of how right it was, how much she wanted, how much was there for the taking.

He was looking at her, looking down into her face, his eyes roaming hers, her nose, her mouth.

Her palms started sweating.  How long had it been?  When had she been on her last date?  When was the last time a guy made her heart race like that?

But it never came.  His lips never descended, his fingers never went through her hair.  Instead, he smiled again, that sad smile from before.  "I should go," he said.  "Have a good night."

"Yeah," she replied, breathily.  "Have a good night."

She didn't move, hardly breathe, as he turned away from her and headed down the street.

Next

Comments

Posted by: sidura (sidura)
Posted at: July 16th, 2009 07:47 pm (UTC)
Dean from GG

Yeah they didn't kiss!!! Because that would be wrong.

Rory should be careful because if she doesn't realise that certain people have moved on with their lives and she keeps making statements like the ones she did in this chapter she is in danger of becoming her Grandmother.

Also can you please have her mother have words with her about basically sitting there with a check list to see how the man in front of her measures up with teenager he was as well comparing him with Logan and Jess.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: July 17th, 2009 03:51 pm (UTC)
dean and rory

Rory will not have an easy time of things in this fic, that much I will promise :)

Also, Lorelai is still Rory's mother first and foremost, but we'll see her soft spot for Dean become even clearer as the fic evolves.

Posted by: sidura (sidura)
Posted at: July 19th, 2009 05:47 pm (UTC)
Dean from GG

Sorry - it is just seeing how you have everyone so in character I can see it taking a lot for Rory to get the kick up the backside she needs while Dean comes a cropper in the mean time.

Posted by: Dani (pinkphoenix1985)
Posted at: July 16th, 2009 09:44 pm (UTC)

GO DEAN! YAY!!

you really get Rory and sadly, she still has got ALOT of work to do because selfish came to mind while reading this part

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: July 17th, 2009 03:52 pm (UTC)
I love you

She is selfish. Sometime I worry I write her TOO selfishly, but that's just how she seems to me. I still like her, but I think I could like her a whole lot more if she could just get over that part of herself and return to her sweet nature that we saw most prominently in S1.

Thanks!

Posted by: Dani (pinkphoenix1985)
Posted at: July 18th, 2009 03:08 pm (UTC)

I thought that she was okay in S1 but then I realized that they made her get worse and worse as the seasons came and went. At first I thought that Loreli was bad but Rory blows her out of the water. I mean Loreli comes across as a teenager while Rory seems more grown up but then she has these selfish aspects that drive me up the wall!

I still love GG but now I understand and accept that it's a prime time soap opera which is cool.

Posted by: ChristianGateFan (cgf_kat)
Posted at: July 17th, 2009 03:36 am (UTC)
pic#89712014

I half expected there to be some kind of blowout, and half expected it to go something like this--civil, even nice, but no Dean falling head-over-heels, and definately nothing intimate. I'll say again that I 'hope' it works out for them in the end, but at this stage it makes sense that it went like this. You know Rory very well, as wella as, of course, the Dean you've created. I must say that I like him too. ;) Smart, no longer too over-eager, but still kind. He still needs to work on that self-confidence, but I have a feeling this story is going to do a lot of that for him. :)

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: July 17th, 2009 03:53 pm (UTC)
cute dean first time

Heh, I don't think it's too much of a spoiler to say that there will be various blowouts to come between various characters.

And this is Dean as I always saw him, though Rory's antics screwed him up pretty good. I really need to believe this is who he grew up to be, because he was such an awesome kid.

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