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GG Fic: Sometimes You Do 15/40

A/N:  Alright--another chapter.  We're still meandering along, but Rory's starting to think forward a bit more.  Shall we see what she's coming up with?  What's she's seeing to leave out?  Thanks!  Previous parts here.

CHAPTER FIFTEEN

The drive from Hartford to Stars Hollow was thirty minutes, but it really never seemed like it.  Sometimes, a half hour could be an eternity.  A relative lifetime of insufferable waiting.  For things like acceptance letters to come back, for job interviews to give a call back, for that fresh pot of coffee to finish brewing.

But the drive home after Friday nights?  Nine times out of ten, it flew.  Because after a dinner with the grandparents, Rory’s mother was always in fine form.

Tonight was no exception.

Or maybe it was an exception because her mother was exceptionally talkative.

Which was really saying something.

“And even after all this time, all these years,” her mother was saying, “I don’t understand why rich people like to eat things like pheasant.  It’s like, they think just because normal people don’t eat it, that somehow it makes them richer or something.”

“But we had chicken tonight,” Rory said.

“Yeah, tonight,” her mother scoffed.  “But you could tell just by watching them that they wanted something else.  Like pheasant.  Or eel.  I’d bet they’d like eel.”

“Grandpa loved the chicken,” Rory said.  “He even said it was the best chicken he’d had in ages.”

“Yeah, because all he’s been eating is eel lately.”

“How did we get started on this?”

“You mean we don’t always just talk about pheasant?”

“I thought we were talking about eel.”

“What conversation are you following?”

“None, apparently, because I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

“Figures,” her mother said.  “You’re out of practice.”

“No, you’ve just gotten more insane.”

Her mother laughed, a short bark.  “Like that’s even possible!”

“I’m not sure living alone is very good for you,” Rory observed, because there was something frighteningly disturbing about that to her.  And for the first time, she really considered it.  Lorelai Gilmore, alone in the house.  The mornings without someone to wrangle out of bed.  The afternoons with no one to rehash the oddities of the neighbors with.  The nights with no one to coerce into doing her laundry.

Yes, there was Luke and Sookie and Babette and every other person in town, but they had been the Gilmore girls, plural, and while Rory had also been alone, there’d been no one there to think about who she used to be.  There’d been no point of reference.

Her mother did not have that luxury.

Her mother surely had a daily word quota, so many things she just needed to say in a day to keep herself sane.  And without Rory, who did she say them to?  Where did they go?

It was then that Rory realized her mother was watching her, staring as best she could while still maneuvering the car along the road.  “It’s so good to have you back.”

“But you and Grandma and Grandpa seem to get along so well these days,” Rory said even if she knew that wasn’t what it was about.  That wasn’t it, and she knew it, but sometimes she said stupid things because she didn’t know quite what else to say.

Lorelai shrugged, her eyes on the road.  “It’s not so much about them,” she said.

Rory felt sort of like a child, like she was still sixteen and didn’t quite understand how mothers and daughters couldn’t get along.  Sure, she was a college grad, yes, she had lived in the real world.  But there were still some things children needed to just ask.  “Then what is it about?”

At that, her mother turned to her, smiling.  “Honey, it’s about you.  I don’t think you realize just how much we’ve missed you.  All of us.  Of course you’re still my daughter wherever you are, and you’ll always be my right hand girl, but the whole thing, the whole family dynamic just isn’t the same without you.  And that’s not to say that I’m not thrilled you’ve been off and away and discovering yourself, but it’s really good to have you home.”

There was so much nice about that statement, so much true.  Rory smiled back.  “Yeah,” she said.  “Well, it’s good to be home.”

-o-

Since she'd told her grandparents about her numerous job musings, she figured she probably should start thinking about them more seriously.  Because, no, she was not truly thinking of settling in Stars Hollow forever.  She was far too experienced, just like everyone thought she was, to stay satisfied with the social news in the Gazette.  This was a layover, a part time distraction, and if Rory was anything, it was driven.  It was time to start thinking about her future again.

Which was why the first thing she did when she got home was power up her laptop and start looking for jobs.

Unfortunately, typing in really good reporting jobs didn't exactly get her very far.

She sighed.  She needed to be serious.  Find real jobs.  Not openings at knock-offs of the National Enquirer (though, she had to admit, the position of Lead Investigative Reporter did sound intriguing, though the description included "tracking celebrities, following up on mysterious happenings, and maintaining an open mind."  Good legal coverage and medical insurance encouraged.).

It was pointless anyway.  She couldn't venture out into the job market without a clearer sense of what she really wanted, not just what she didn't.

But she needed to talk about it.  She could make checklists and pro/con lists, but it all lacked a fundamental element of purpose.  When Rory had made up her mind to go to Yale, she had been fine in her pursuit of it by herself because she knew exactly what it was that was required of her.  She'd made it through school on that same principle.

Right now, she needed a goal.  That was all.  A little goal, a lofty goal, a goal goal, and then she'd be able to start applying herself in the right directions, rallying the appropriate tidbits for her resume.

But for a goal...well, that was work entirely in and of itself.  And hard work.  Picking a goal wasn't like picking out clothes in the morning, which admittedly, she often had problems with.  Picking a goal wasn't like choosing between vanilla and chocolate, because really, she could just order both and be done with it. Picking a goal was deciding her future, the next chapter in her life, and there was no way she could do this without talking to someone.

Normally, she would turn to Paris.  Maybe Lane.  Maybe even her mother.

But not tonight.  They were all so busy and they just didn't seem to get her anymore, not like...

She knew exactly who she wanted to call.  Even if she had no idea why, she knew she wanted to.

And why not?  They were friends, weren't they?  Friends talked on the phone.  That was a friendly thing to do.  Call each other up, say hey, what's happening and get advice?  That was why Paris and Lane were her old fallbacks anyway.

So, why not?

She had her phone out and had dialed the number before she let herself think twice about it.  It was oddly liberating.  She didn't usually do impulsive things.  She might talk impulsively, but she planned obsessively.  About everything.  Because that was what she did to control her life, control her outcome, so to do something so impetuous felt good.

Until he answered and her throat tightened.  "Hi, Dean," she said, trying to sound like she wasn't some stalker.

"Rory?" his voice asked.  "Is that you?"

"Yeah," she said, relieved that he recognized her at least.  That was a step in the right direction.  "How are you?"

"I'm fine," he said slowly.  "How are you?"

"Me?  Oh, I'm good.  A little hyper, but that usually happens at this time of night.  I think it's been three hours without coffee, so I'm probably going into withdrawal."

Impetuous?  More like stupid.  How could she forget the last time she was seriously impetuous with Dean?  She'd ended up sleeping with him while he was still married.  Impetuous behavior was dangerous!  She wished she'd simply hung up.  It would have make things easier.

"Uh, yeah," he said.  There was a pause and Rory listened to him breathing.  "Did you need something?"

Rory jumped a little, glad that he wasn't here to see her jittering like a junky.  "Need something?" she asked.  "Why would I need something?"

"Because it's nearly eleven on a Friday night and you're calling me."

"Oh!" she said.  "Right!  I was hoping to talk to you."

"Okay."  He seemed to be waiting.  "About?"

She had no idea why her mind wasn't functioning or why she had regressed fifteen years in her social skills.  She laughed nervously.  "I had wine at dinner," she said.  "I think maybe it was a mistake."

"Are you sure you're okay?" Dean asked, and there was such genuine concern in his voice that Rory felt guilty.

"Yes, yes," she said quickly, forcing herself to calm, to even out her voice.  "I swear, sometimes I'm just so weird.  But I'm fine, really.  I just needed someone to bounce ideas off of."

"For an article?" Dean asked.  "Because I think your Mom would be better for that."

"No, not an article," Rory said, though that was a good guess.  This was why she'd called Dean.  This was why impetuous wasn't always bad.  "About my job."

"You're already unhappy?"  And he didn't sound critical, but concerned, which was another thing she'd missed about Dean.  He was always so attentive to her needs, always there whenever she'd needed someone to cry to.

"No," she said.  "I mean, not really.  It's good for now.  But I'm trying think about the future."

"Ah, yes," he said, and she could practically hear him smiling.  "You and your planning for the future.  I can't imagine you're content without something to shoot for."

"Exactly," Rory said, picking up her pencil and twiddling it.  "But I'm having trouble figuring out where I want to look."

"What are you considering?"

"Well, I thought long and hard about life with a carnival.  I thought it'd be really different, you know, with lots of different experiences.  I could do it as research for a book.  I'm sure that I'd get great stories, because really, think about it.  Carnival performers.  The real story behind what it's like to put yourself on display.  Not to mention answering the question of whether or not clowns are creepy as real people or not."

"Compelling," Dean said.  "But perhaps a little hard to maintain.  Unless you have a secret talent for tight rope walking."

"Really?  I was thinking maybe of passing myself off as a knife thrower," she said.  "They say that's all just an act anyway."

"You with knives?  I'm not sure anybody in the place would survive long enough to give you an interview."

"That might be problematic."

"So, what else?" Dean prompted.

"I've thought about doing something good for the world, you know," she said.  "Something to help humanity out."

"Very noble," Dean said.  "Wouldn't pay well, though."

"Well, I'm not sure the point would be the pay," she said.  "But things like Green Peace, like international care organizations."

"I can see you doing that," he said thoughtfully.  "But in research mode.  I mean, you'd help people and I think you'd be a hit with little kids who don't speak your language, but you'd write about it, I think."

That was certainly an idea, and certainly one that carried weight.  "Maybe not as compelling as the lives of carnival workers."

"But far more important."

"I think that'd be more likely," she said.  "I'm not sure I could get hired at an international news agency."

"Why not?" Dean asked.  "You have the background--Yale, Detroit Free Press."

"And the Stars Hollow Gazette."

"Naturally, the most impressive of the bunch."

"I'm sure conquering the Recipe Corner is a rare and distinguished feat."

"If they read snippets of your portfolio, I'm sure they'd at least entertain an interview," Dean told her.

That was a lovely idea.  Her dream, actually.  But she'd almost been afraid to give voice to it, to believe it.  "Really?"

"Completely," Dean said.  "But you know, you'll never know until you get your stuff together.  And if I know anything about you, I know how well you prepare and organize."

Rory grimaced a little.  "You did suffer through some of the worst phases."

"Hey, you were going places," Dean said.  "You couldn't let me stand in your way."

He didn't sound hurt, but the way he said it, Rory could sense hurt anyway.  Like he'd always come in second in their time together.  Second or third or fourth or whatever.  She didn't like to think about it because she didn't like to think about how it was true.  "It wasn't like that."

"I didn't mean it like that," Dean said.  "I just me, you're a girl who knows what she wants.  And any guy who is with you just needs to be there for you and support you.  No matter what.  That's just the way it works when it comes to dating someone like you."

She wanted to hear some malice, some hint of malcontent in his voice, but there was nothing.  Just honesty.  Maybe regret.  "You were always so good at that."

He laughed a little.  "Yeah," he said.  "Well."

And Rory heard but not good enough.

"Look, it's late," he said.  "You feel better yet?"

"Yeah," she replied.  "I think that helped.  Really.  Thanks."

"Anytime," he said.  "No point in having big ears if they don't work as a good sounding board."

"You don't have big ears!" Rory said.  "You have very nice ears."

"You clearly don't remember my ears well."

"Is that why you've taken to wearing a mop on your head?"

"A mop?" Dean asked.  "You wound me!"

"I never said it was a bad looking mop.  I mean, not all mops are unattractive.  As far as mops go, yours is one of the best."

"And you think that's going to make me feel better?"

Rory doodled with her pencil on a scrap of paper.  "Maybe a little?" she said, hopefully.  "I mean, it's not like I'm going to go around calling you Mop-Boy."

Dean just groaned.  "Then why do I get the sense that the next time I see you, that's exactly what I'll be called?"

"Hey, I wouldn't call you that," Rory said.  "My mother would, though."

"You're going to tell your mother?"

"Like I have to!" Rory exclaimed, sketching an outline of a guy.  She built up his muscles and colored lots of dark hair wildly over his head.  "Anyone just looking at you can see it."

"I'm going to hang up now," Dean announced, and though the words were serious, the tone was easy. 

"Well, thanks again," she said.  "Mop-boy."

"Right," he said.  "Anytime you have a dilemma, Mop-boy is here to help."

She was grinning when he finally hung up.  Looking at her phone, she looked at the flashing number, the little display that said DEAN across it.

Disconnecting the call on her end, she bit her lip, still unable to control her smile as she put her phone away.

-o-

Walking down the street may have seemed like the simplest thing in the world, but this was Stars Hollow.  Stars Hollow, for all of its simple ways, didn’t really seem to understand simple.  As in, a trip down the street was hardly ever just a trip down the street.

There was always some mischief to be had.  Some kind of bizarre commotion.

She just wasn’t used to being at the center of it.  Yes, she knew she was something of a golden girl around here.  That had always been the case, though she had never really thought about it a ton.  It had always seemed vaguely possible to her that everyone was treated this way in Stars Hollow.

Funny how Dean had taught her otherwise.  Their first breakup had found him as the town scapegoat, suffering outrageous accusations and even a physical attack from a well-intentioned Luke.

Dean really had been eye-opening for her.  In so many ways.  First boyfriend kind of ways.  First love kind of ways.  First realization that she was a desirable commodity kind of ways.

She may have taken all of that for granted, just like she’d taken him for granted, but she’d never really assumed a role as a celebrity.  So, when the two little girls were whispering and following her, she sort of thought maybe she had something stuck to her back.  A sign maybe, something that said, “Do not feed the journalist” or “Will work for caffeine” or something equally odd and immature that her mother could think up.

It was funny to her, when she remembered, that one of the first things Dean had noticed about her was her extreme concentration.  He’d loved it about her, which was really kind of funny, but also pretty flattering.  Dean had known her so well even before he’d said hello to her and she’d never really realized just how astute his observations had been.

It took her probably half a block to really realize she was being followed at all and another block to get the sense that the whispers were probably about her. 

It was only another half block before she broke down and turned around.  “Can I help you two with something?”

The girls stopped cold, their faces freezing and eyes going wide.

“I mean, you are following and whispering about me, aren’t you?  I know I’m pretty oblivious but I’m not quite that  unaware of things when there isn’t a book or a computer or at least a really good hour of CSPAN involved.”

“You’re Rory Gilmore, right?” the girl asked.  “Lorelai Gilmore?  The third one, though, not the first or the second, though no one here’s met the first.”

Well, she hadn’t expected that.  “Uh, sure,” Rory said.  “That’s me.”

The girl smacked her friend’s arm.  “See, I told you,” she hissed knowingly.  She turned earnest eyes up at Rory.  “I told her it was you.”

“Why would you tell her it’s me?” Rory asked, still not quite putting two and two together.  She did not know these girls, she did not recognize these girls, and she was really hoping that her mishap with the U-Haul was old news by now and that even if it wasn’t, that it wasn’t quite pathetic enough to make it around the grade school gossip scene.

“You’re the voice of Stars Hollow,” the girl said proudly.  “My mom loves your stuff.  Reads it every day.  So do I.  I especially liked your article on the pet fair downtown.”

They’d read her article.  They were stalking her down the street.  She had gone from golden girl to celebrity.  If it hadn’t been so perplexing, she may have laughed.

But it was perplexing.  It didn’t quite compute.

“My mother says that I could grow up to be just like you someday,” the girl said.  “I’ve been practicing my writing.

That was flattering, it really was, and it sort of felt good to hear.  Good and weird and just so very misplaced.  Didn’t these girls realize that she didn’t have a clue what she was doing?  That she’d rode in on a broken down U-Haul truck after sort of getting fired in a matter of principle from her last job? 

Apparently not.  No reason to burst their bubble.  Rory didn’t really want to discuss that anyway.  She’d take their hero worship over their pity any day of the week, even if both may have been utterly misplaced.  “Well, I’m sure you’re doing very well,” Rory offered.  “I was always writing growing up.”

The girl beamed.  “I’m going to tell my mom I talked you!” she said.  “Bye!”

Then she tugged on her friend’s arm and they took off together down the street, scurrying and giggling the way that little girls should and Rory wondered if she’d ever been like that.  Carefree.  Girly.  She seemed to have missed that part of her childhood in between her incessant reading and hanging out with Lane, who only plotted to be normal in subterfuge.

She didn’t mind that.  She couldn’t regret it.  Just like she couldn’t regret being home, being here.  And maybe it’d always been like this.  Maybe she’d always had the admiration of all of Stars Hollow; she’d just never really seen it before.  Never really noticed it until it was a little girl gushing to her on the street.

This was who Rory Gilmore was.  Or who she appeared to be.  The girl who went to Chilton and Yale and got a job at a real newspaper and a real town and she wondered when there would be more than that.

That, however, was a question she could only tackle after caffeine.  And sugar.  And lots of both.

Next

Comments

Posted by: ChristianGateFan (cgf_kat)
Posted at: August 25th, 2009 09:52 pm (UTC)
pic#89712014

Yay, Dean being playful and sarcastic with Rory! I've been waiting for that. I hope it progresses from there, and I hope Rory figures out she needs to grow up instead of just taking its return for granted.

That last scene was interesting, too. I suppose Rory 'would' be something of a celebrity in Stars Hollow by that time. That's definately a concept to think about.

Still loving this! can't wait for more! Thanks!

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: August 28th, 2009 07:50 pm (UTC)
adorable dean

I do love Dean's banter with Rory. He's so good at it. Better than certain other males in Rory's life...

And Rory's celebrity is a stark contrast to how she STILL can't have Dean. It's all very deliberate just to drive her nuts :)

Thanks!

Posted by: Dani (pinkphoenix1985)
Posted at: August 26th, 2009 07:06 pm (UTC)

great! I loved the conversation between Dean and Rory- it just shows how Dean has already grown up especially when he states that 'what she's getting restless already?'

I really love how you've made the characters except for Rory mature beyond what was shown on the show! I know that eventually Rory will too but I love how you've written it- it's like everyone but Rory is in on a secret or something ;)

and yes- I guess that Rory is a celebrity in Stars Hallow

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: August 28th, 2009 07:51 pm (UTC)
dean/rory never let go

Dean really has grown up--a lot harder and faster than Rory. For as many mistakes as he made, he didn't have anyone to fall back on like Rory did. When Rory screwed up, her family bailed her out and made it go away as best as possible. When Dean screwed up, he just had to own up to it and move on.

I like the notion that everyone else has grown up--but Rory is still stuck back in her youth in terms of Stars Hollow. It just works for me :)

Thanks!

Posted by: Dani (pinkphoenix1985)
Posted at: August 30th, 2009 06:15 pm (UTC)

Exactly! I didn't like it at the end of S5 when Rory gets bailed out by her grandparents when she stole a boat...

I love that notion and it grounds the story very nicely

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