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GG Fic: Sometimes You Do 29/40

A/N: Okay, so this isn't the most exciting chapter of the bunch but it's an important one for Rory's thought processes as she sort of figures out what she's trying to do with her life. We're reaching the home stretch here :) Thank you!  Previous parts here.

 

CHAPTER TWENTY-NINE

Life was really all about balance, she figured. It had taken her some years to figure that out--after all, her youth had been spent in varying degrees of intensity. It seemed like whatever Rory did, she really did. There were no casual commitments for her--just full on insanity at every turn, whether that be school or family or friends.

It was hard to say, really, if that was the cause of her own personal neurosis or if it was her neurotic ways that led her to indulge in such a lifestyle. But the years living in Detroit had taught her a little something about peace and quiet--apparently a lack of a social life could do that for someone. And while it had been a bit lonely at times, it had also been oddly refreshing. To have quiet. It gave her time and space to think, which, considering the speed at which her thoughts cycled through her head, was really a good thing.

It also made her talk to her house plants. Well, house plant. Okay, her cactus, because she killed everything else. She almost bought a goldfish, but she didn't want to be cruel to the thing. Her mother’s success with Paul Anka notwithstanding, it was not a chance she would take in her bachelorette lifestyle.

The point was, in the end, that simplicity had its time and place in her life. Detroit may have been a bustling city, but somehow it was far more peaceful for her than Stars Hollow ever could be. Because what Detroit had in sheer number of people, Stars Hollow had in the purely eccentric. Turned out that eccentricities made for more insanity than plain people did.

Which was why when her mother was utterly ambiguous and when Dean was so hard to pin down, she needed something a little less climactic in her life.

Thank God for the Stars Hollow Gazette.

The low-key production, the mismatched and unprofessional staff, Ned's Hawaiian shirts and laments about his reporters--they were so reassuringly predictable that she'd really come to relish it.

So, after another night of confusion with Dean, she was more than eager to show up at work the next morning.

She got there in time to see Lyman chewing his pen cap, leaned back in a desk chair. Nancy was sitting opposite of him, looking at him blandly over a cup of coffee.

"Ask Rory," Lyman said as Rory approached. "She'll tell you."

"Ask Rory what?" she said, taking another seat.

"About the stereo shop," Lyman said. "Nancy here seems to think they're going under."

Rory's brow creased. So much for easing the pressure of her mind. Did everything in this town suddenly relate to Dean? "Going under?"

Nancy just rolled her eyes. "You're such a moron, Chuck," she said. "It doesn't take investigative reporting to figure out that they're in trouble. Small town shops never make much profit, anyway, especially not one as specialized as a stereo shop. And given the cost it takes to bury someone these days, you just have to figure."

Nancy just had to figure. She just had to figure what? What did she know about the stereo shop? What did she know about burying people? What did she know about anything? The surge of defensiveness that swelled in Rory was so unpredictable that she barely knew what to do with it. "Right, so you're just going to sit there and drink your coffee and figure away some family's well-being?"

Lyman paled a little bit, clearly a bit sheepish that he'd brought up the topic with Rory at all. But Nancy was not so easily put upon. She smiled mirthlessly. "Honey, I'm not figuring much of anything. I was merely making an observation. I know the Forester kid's your boyfriend and all, but that building's a prime location. Better space than this one. We'd be nuts not to be interested in their status."

Something clenched in Rory's chest. "Great, so the family suffers the loss of their father and you're sitting here thinking about their building? What about the people? And why do you think Dean's my boyfriend?"

This time Nancy laughed outright. "Oh, honey, it's so obvious."

At that point, Rory wasn't sure what was offending her more. Nancy's typically sanctimonious attitude, the negative and cold speculation regarding the stereo shop, or the fact that somehow it was obvious that Dean was her boyfriend. Because that attitude was nauseating from someone as ill-qualified as Nancy. Plus, the Foresters had already lost too much to be faced with that, and if it was so obvious, why couldn't Dean see it?

And who was Nancy to make such assumptions anyway?

Lyman was already backing away as discreetly as he could. He could see the outburst coming even before Rory herself seemed to realize that she was about to let it out. 


Nancy, for her oblivious part, had turned back to her paper.

"Obvious?" Rory asked. "It's obvious?"

Nancy just looked up at her, face scrunched with impatience. "The way you follow after him," she said dismissively.

"The way I follow after him," Rory repeated. "Did you figure that out with your extensive investigative reporting skills?"

The humor left Nancy's face. "No, all I had to do was open my eyes."

Maybe it was what she said. Maybe it was how she said it.

Rory didn't know. Rory didn't care.

All she knew was that Nancy Benton had been allowed to speak far too freely for far too long. And all she cared about was shutting her up once and for all. "Well, maybe you should look a little harder then and realize that two people who like to spend time together don't always end up dating, even if they want to. Maybe you'd realize that relationship are more complicated than they are in the fourth grade, which is pretty much where your mindset is clearly at with your petty comments and complete lack of sensitivity to other people. It's really rather remarkable that someone who fancies themselves to be a reporter like yourself has really missed some of the most obvious stuff around. Like the fact that no one likes you. Like the fact that this journalistic experience you tout was twenty years ago for a barely regional station and you didn't even last very long. Or the fact that you couldn't write your way out of a paper bag, which is why people like what I write far more than what you write. It's not because I'm new and young and flashy. It's because I know what I'm doing. Something you can't say with a straight face about your writing or your ability to judge people and perceive reality."

Nancy's face had turned stony, red and then pale and then just plain frigid. "You really are the self-indulged little tart they say you are," she said. "You think you own this town and have the audacity to still act like you have no idea what the hell anyone is talking about. If you're not dating that Forester boy, it's not for your lack of trying. It's because he's just not interested. And really, who can blame him? But it's better off, in the long run. With his failing business and your meager earnings here, you wouldn't have much of a life, would you?"

Insulting her was one thing. It was a verbal tete-a-tete, so really, she deserved such degradation, even if Nancy was completely wrong. Rory's own pride wasn’t so strong not to recognize when someone else's was flaring in protest. Didn't mean she liked it or agreed with it, but it was within the bounds of fair play.

Insulting Dean Forester, on the other, was not. Not by her. Not by his mother. Not by little old ladies who could be considered for sainthood.

Which was why Nancy Benton was going to get it.

Rory wasn't quite sure what she was going to do, but she was pretty sure it was going to involve biting and hair pulling, and Lyman could have his fantasies of a cat-fight fulfilled right before his very eyes.

"You...you self-righteous has-been!" Rory exploded. "You have no right!"

And just as she was about to lunge, something stopped her. Not her conscience, because that was pretty well out the window by that point. Not Lyman, who, to his credit, looked more horrified than actually amused at the moment. Nancy, in her past-prime glory, was just staring at her, more or less stunned.

No, it was Ned.

Hawaiian shirt sporting Ned. Her boss, which she sometimes could conveniently forget as he so rarely acted like it.

A quick arm around her waist and he was pulling her back. "Come on, now," he was saying. "You're better than this."

Rory noted, as she was squirming to get free, that he hadn't included Nancy in that statement.

Rory also noted, with much more satisfaction, that Nancy had pushed her chair back as far as it would go and looked more than a little alarmed. Apparently, an irate Rory was a force to be reckoned with.

"She's crazy!" Nancy exclaimed. "How can you let people like this work here? Pretty unprofessional, even for you."

Rory lunged again, knowing full well she'd never get anywhere and that Nancy would never know just how lucky she was for that little fact.

Ned's grip held firm. "I'm going to deal with you later," Ned said. "Professionalism comes second to common courtesies, in case you've forgotten."

At least Nancy had the decency to look marginally chagrined.

"Lyman, make sure Nancy doesn't do anything stupid, okay?" Ned asked.

Lyman, sitting uncertainly on the fringe of the action, just raised his eyebrows. "What, like be a human being for once?"

"I don't need you in on it, too," Ned grumbled. Then he loosened his grip on Rory. "We need to talk."

Rory was still too angry to protest and now too frustrated to resist. She let Ned drag her backwards, her eyes never leaving Nancy's pinched face.

She was halfway in the room when she realized that Ned hadn't actually taken them to his office, like she might have suspected. Rather, he'd opted for the dark room, a rarely-used area these days with digital technology being what it was. They all served as staff photographers when the need warranted, though in truth, that was Ned's true passion, and he was the only one who even developed film in there at all.

The room showed the lack of use, too. Not to mention Ned's less than stellar housekeeping skills. It was dark and dank, as most dark rooms were, and it was coated with grime in most areas, littered with old negatives and chemicals.

It occurred to Rory that this was an odd choice for a discussion, even the bawling out she suspected she was about to get. Perhaps he didn't want to humiliate her in front of them. A fact for which she wasn't sure whether to be grateful or insulted.

Ned flicked on the light and chewed his finger nervously. "Rory, you can't go off like that," he said.

Rory's shoulders slumped. Losing control was one thing--being berated for it was another. Maybe if she hadn't been so justified, she'd feel different. She was not above taking the blame for her actions--her little incident with a boat that was not her own had made that abundantly clear to her. But this--this was different. She would have much rather taken a swing at Nancy, so really, Ned should be thankful she'd settled for a verbal barrage on the wench. "She had it coming," Rory said simply.

Ned ran a hand through his hair and sighed. "I'm sure she did," he said. Then he laughed a little. "God, that woman's a Nazi sometimes. "It's people like her that make me wish I'd never gotten into journalism to begin with."

"She can't even write well," Rory muttered.

"She's got an old school style," Ned said. "She never got the memo that the inverted pyramid wasn't the only way to go. Even Dewey at least knows how to modify it for a meatier ending."

It wasn't so much that Ned was insulting Nancy that caught Rory off guard. It was the fact that Ned had just used a full-on journalistic term. Not a complicated one, true, but she'd pegged Ned for someone without any shred of real training. Any Joe off the street could buy a press and print a paper--it didn't require a degree, and a town like Stars Hollow would never demand one.

Ned was watching her, carefully, and then he grinned. "You’re surprised that I even know that, aren't you?"

Her anger forgotten, she blushed.

He just grinned back at her. "Yeah, that's what most people think," he said. "Small towns are full of small town people and small town people may be sweet and all, but we aren't known for our academic know-how. My journalism degree didn't come from the Ivy League, you got me there, but UConn really isn't all that bad."

No, it wasn't really all that bad. In fact, it was pretty good. A lot more than she'd expected.

Ned was watching her. “Yeah, yeah,” he said with a grin. “Who would have thought, right? With the paper I run, it’s hard to tell if there’s any journalistic integrity when you’re covering the social happenings.”

Rory felt herself blush. “It’s not like that.”

He just shook his head, still grinning. “It’s okay,” he said. “I know what you must think and no one can blame you on that one. This is Stars Hollow, though, so really, trying to have a successful paper without a social page just doesn’t cut it. I put the subscription count a little higher than my journalistic principles. It won’t win me a Pulitzer, but it’s paid the bills.”

“I just,” Rory tried to explain. “Don’t you sometimes regret it? You know, sort of settling for something less than what you know you’re capable of?”

“Who says I’m capable of anything? Better yet,” Ned said with a knowing gleam in his eyes. “Who says that this is settling at all?”

“You write about who had lunch with who at Al’s Pancake House,” Rory said. “I just sort of figured.”

“Well, then, why are you working here at all?” Ned countered. “A girl like you, no matter why you left your last job, I know you could have done more than this.”

“I needed some time at home,” Rory explained quickly. “Some time to get to know myself, to figure out what I really wanted in life.”

“So, you had your reasons,” he said. “Even if they don’t always make the most ‘sense’ to everyone around you.”

The parallel was not lost on her.

"People aren't always what you think," Ned said. "Like you. I thought you'd be good for business. You can't lose by employing the town's golden girl. But you--you've got heart, Rory. You don't just want to make money, you don't just want to do a job. You care. About everything. The way you can write about this town--it's remarkable. Everything you cover, there's a reason you're so much better at it than anyone else here."

She cocked her head. "And why's that?"

"Because you care about this town," he said. "You learned the most basic lesson a journalist really should learn. That we don't cover events. It's not really even about the news. It's about the people. That's why you're doing your best writing here. You may be covering the most insignificant events of your career, but you're telling stories that people care about."

And really, what was she supposed to say to that? Thank you? You’re nuts? Because the old guy wasn’t nuts--well, he was nuts, his tacky shirts and doughnuts, but he wasn’t nuts about that. He was right about that in a way that Rory had never considered. The simple fact that people write what they know, they write what they know best, and that Rory hadn’t had this much fun writing articles since the initial thrill she got back at Chilton. No, no calls to the governor, no nationwide scandals to report, but the ins and outs of Stars Hollow.

Her stepping stone.

She smiled a little. “Is that why you’re here?”

"Me?" he said. "I just want to pay off my little house and stay at home with my wife. I've been in this business too long. Worked with too many Nancys and had to print too many social blurbs. People think Miss Patty knows what's what around here, but I'm telling you, if you want to know about the latest gossip around town? I'm the go-to guy, and I've spent enough time in everyone else's business. Now. You think you can go back out there without causing a fit?”

Rory nodded with an air of resignation. “If she can play nice, I can, too.”

“I know we all have our causes worth fighting for, but was that one really worth it?”

The disparaging comment about Dean and his family was fresh in her mind. She’d heard Dean be insulted before, that much was true, and it’d been hard then, but if she was honest with herself, it had been hard more in the way it reflected on her. She hadn’t wanted her grandparents to insult Dean because she wanted them to think she had good taste in boys. She had liked Dean so much in those days, not so much because she had a deep understanding and respect of who he was, but she liked how having a boyfriend made her look.

But now--now there had been so much time and heartache and so much triumph. Now, she was offended on Dean’s behalf.

“Yes,” she said with a nod. “It was definitely worth it.”

Ned just shook his head. “Damn kids and their damn gumption,” he muttered. “I’m too old for this. My journalism degree is too old for this.”

At that, Rory couldn’t help but grin. “I’ll buy you a doughnut and it’ll be all good.”

“Bear claws?”

“And jelly filled. I’ll make it a dozen.”

“I knew I didn’t make a mistake hiring you.”

And Rory knew it, too.

Next

 

Comments

Posted by: ChristianGateFan (cgf_kat)
Posted at: October 13th, 2009 08:43 pm (UTC)
pic#89712014

Liking your Rory even more now. She mnay still have a little ways to go, but she's getting a lot of things and I love her for it. I really liked this chapter. :)

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: October 20th, 2009 06:41 pm (UTC)
adorable dean

She's growing up--I like her better too :)

Thanks!

Posted by: sidura (sidura)
Posted at: October 15th, 2009 05:04 pm (UTC)
Dean from GG

Yeah, even though this isn't a long chapter I really enjoyed it. Getting into a fight because she got offended on someone else's behalf let alone with someone like Nancy is something the Rory of old would never have done.

And Ned - I love Ned, please say there is more Ned in this!

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: October 20th, 2009 06:42 pm (UTC)
cute dean first time

LOL, I'm glad you liked Ned. I can't remember how much more of him there is, but I want to say there's at least a little more, but I make no promises.

Thanks!

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