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GG Fic: Sometimes You Do 30/40

A/N: I had to get this up now or I wouldn't get it up until after the weekend. This means reviews have not been replied to as of yet, but I will work on it over the weekend. They are all appreciated :) There is much Dean in this chapter, so I hope you all like it.  Previous stuff here.

 

CHAPTER THIRTY

As much as she resented Nancy’s insinuations regarding Dean, that didn’t mean that Rory was oblivious to everything the woman had said. After all, she had learned in all her years here, that though gossip was clearly overblown and barely a fragment of the truth, there was still that fragment of truth that was to be reckoned with.

She just needed to delete the adjectives and she’d have the truth. Atticus Finch was a wise man.

Which meant there was something to worry about when it came to the stereo shop. Which meant there was something to worry about when it came to Dean.

She wondered what Atticus would have told Scout about how to get her ex-boyfriend to talk to her.

Though the idea of Scout having a boyfriend--

Oh, who was she kidding. He’d just say to walk around in his skin for a bit and she’d figured it out from there.

And the dumb thing was that it really was that simple. Dean was stressed, beyond stressed. He’d given up all his dreams and aspirations to come home, his father had died, his mother was a controlling whacked-out pessimist, and now Dean was saddled with a business that was his father’s dream and his family’s only income. Add in the health problems and yep. It was pretty obvious.

For once, this really wasn’t about Rory. Dean had too much to think about to worry about confessing it all. He had far too much on his plate to really recognize that he needed to take the time to relax, to vent his frustrations. Moreover, Dean was a guy and she had found, in her experience, that guys did not like to sit around and cry over a gallon of ice cream when things got too tough (which, was really to their detriment emotionally but perhaps to their benefit physically).

Dean simply didn’t have time to hang out with her like he used to. Especially if things at the shop were as sketchy as town gossip made it out to be.

So, who would know more about this? She could ask anyone and she was sure she’d rustle up something, but she needed an accurate source. Someone who Dean saw a lot and who Dean trusted--

Luke. Luke and Dean’s wheat bagel with low-fat cream cheese. Luke’s counter practically pulled information out of its visitors’ mouths and no matter how hard Luke tried to fight it, he was the ideal listener. Almost like a bartender, minus the beer, and add in the rough around the edges goodness that made Luke Luke.

Besides all that, Dean obviously trusted Luke, which was a mystery Rory still was not entirely privy to, much to her dismay and frustration.

Luke, it was.

Fortunately, the walk to Luke’s was short and the place was in a late morning lull with just a visitor or two seated at tables. Rory made her way to the counter, striving to look innocuous. That really should have been an easy feat, as Rory seemed to have a girlishness about her no matter what she did. In fact, people rarely considered her capable of scheming at all--unless that person was Paris.

“You look sketchy,” Luke said turning over a mug in front of her.

Her wiles were also apparently quite obvious the minute she tried to conceal them.

She didn’t need wiles with Luke. “So, I was wondering.”

“No,” Luke said quickly.

“I haven’t said anything.” Rory protested.

“You said enough,” Luke replied. “I caught onto the wondering ploy with April and your mother is surprisingly fond of it, too.”

“But you don’t even know what I want.”

“I know it’s something I probably don’t want to give. If you thought I’d say okay, no questions asked, you’d have no need to wonder.”

Logical, perhaps, but Rory had no time for logic. “It’s just a question.”

“No.”

“About Dean.”

That made him pause. “Dean?”

“Yes, Dean.”

“What about Dean,” Luke said. “I saw him earlier today. He came in before he went to work.”

"You talked to Dean?"

Luke just raised his eyebrows. "People do tend to do that when they come in here," he said.

"But what did he say?"

"Have you always been this nosy and I just didn't notice it before?"

"I'm serious," she said.

"So am I," he countered.

She sighed. "He won't talk to me," she said. "He's hurting and he won't tell me about it. And then I was at the Gazette’s office and Nancy was talking about the stereo shop and some kind of financial trouble, but Dean’s barely said anything. He just shuts down. I worry about him."

Luke licked his lips, seeming to compose himself. The snarky facade fell away and Rory could see the weariness in his face. "I worry about him, too."

"So, what did he tell you?" Rory prompted, jumping on Luke's sudden transparency.

"Don't you think it's Dean's place to tell you things if he wants to?"

"But I'm his friend," Rory protested. "I need to help him."

"He'll talk when he's ready," Luke told her. "He'll tell you what he needs to tell you. You can't rush that. You shouldn't."

"But he'll talk to you," Rory pointed out. "Why will he talk to you?"

"Is it so hard to believe that maybe he trusts me?"

Rory's mouth opened and quickly shut again. Yes, it was hard to believe. It was nearly impossible to fathom, to understand, and in everything she'd been through since she'd gotten back, in everything she'd learned about Dean, in everything he'd told her, he'd shown her, she still didn't get it. She still didn't totally know what happened in the years they'd been apart. She still didn't know why Luke was so invested, why her mother was so intuitive about him. Why everyone else seemed to have some inherent in with him that she'd always taken for granted.

"He cares about you a lot," Luke said finally. "There are a lot of things he wants to say to you, wants to admit to you. But maybe that's part of the problem. History isn't just a good thing. It can be a problem, too."

"But I want to help him," Rory said. She needed to. Because she was pretty sure she loved him and knowing that he was hurting hurt her, too. Knowing he was opening up to other people nearly killed her.

"Trust me when I say he's not ready yet," Luke said. "He may be talking a little bit to me, but he's nowhere near coping with this. But it's like he needs to break on his own time and we can't rush that no matter how much we want to."

First her mother, now Luke. "Since when did you become a fountain of wisdom?"

Luke's eyes narrowed in annoyance. "Since when did you become so emotionally needy?"

"Always have been," Rory said. "You've just been too closed off to notice. You liked your manly persona."

He scowled. "It's not a persona."

"You’re a teddy bear in sarcastic clothing."

"You can leave now."

"You know it's true," Rory said.

Luke just shook his head, turning back toward the kitchen. "Goodbye, Rory."

She couldn't help but grin. "Goodbye, Luke."

-o-

She had to wait for Dean to talk to her, that much was true. If she wanted to know his feelings, there was nothing she could do to force that out of him. Worse yet, there was little gossip that she could trust to really give her an accurate gauge on what stage of grief he was currently working his way through.

That didn’t mean she had no recourse, though. His emotional status may have been an enigma, but his actual status was not. Point being, the rumors about the stereo shop.

Time for her to exert her journalism prowess. And what better what to find the fact than to go straight to the source.

Timing was everything.

She had some writing to do that afternoon and she’d promised her mother to stop by the inn to help do some restaging in one of the bedrooms. Add on a dinner with her mother and by 7:30, she knew where she had to be.

Not only was she sure she’d find Dean at the store, but it was a Wednesday evening. Considering that Wednesday was a designated family night and two out of three churches hosted youth group, it was unlikely that the shop would be busy. In fact, Wednesdays were her most likely option to drag him out of work early and if she showed up at the right time, he might even let her help with stocking.

All of this was a perfect backdrop to her true purpose: figuring out if Dean’s situation was as dire as Nancy had suggested.

As expected, she found Dean in the shop, in his position behind the counter. When she went in, he was thanking a teenaged girl for her purchase. Rory passed the gum-snapper who appeared to have purchased some iPod accessories on her way to the counter.

“You allow gum in the shop?”

“Who do you think I am, Taylor?”

“I just wouldn’t think that scraping gum off the floor would be fun.”

“Why do you think Gilbert’s on staff?”

“Clever, and disturbingly dictatorial,” Rory said. “Busy night?”

Dean made a face. “You know Wednesdays are dead.”

Yes, she did. But she didn’t have to let on. “I thought maybe there had been a sudden town-side need for speakers.”

“I can wish,” he said with a sigh and Rory saw her opening.

“Aw, surely your bottom line isn’t hurting that much,” she said. “If it is, I might be able to stage some very selective robberies in order to deprive the locals of their prime stereo equipment thus necessitating a need for more.”

“You’d start up a string of B and E’s for me?”

She smiled glowingly. “Anything to help support my favorite stereo shop.”

“Well, I can’t condone something that would get you five to ten, but it might be nice to have the boost.”

“Is the shop struggling?”

He sighed. “Not really,” he said.

“Dean.” He was holding back, not telling her everything. It was probably part of that guy mentality and part of Deans newfound inability to be open about anything he was feeling.

“We’re pulling the same numbers as before,” Dean said. “But we’re broke. Not the store, but us. You know how people tell you to buy life insurance?”

“What’s life insurance?”

“Buy it,” he advised. “As much as you can. All the details that come after, they’re expensive. And there are just things to pay off and all our funds are tied up here with keeping inventory stocked and mortgage payments up.”

Well, that was what Rory had wanted to know. But now she didn’t know what to say.

“I shouldn’t even be talking about it,” he said. “You have better things to think about.”

“No, Dean,” she said quickly. “You need to talk about this stuff. I mean, you shouldn’t be dealing with it on your own.”

“Nah, I’ve got it,” he said. “I mean, I’ve run the numbers and I know what we need to keep things going. And we’re staying up with it. I had to re-negotiate some stuff at the bank, but I keep thinking if I can bump up the profits here just a little then I can ease the burden at home. You know, help Clara not have to take so many college loans.”

“And your major was engineering?”

Dean laughed a little. “I had to pick up the business stuff quick. My dad--” Dean’s voice got strangled and he swallowed hard. “My dad showed me a lot of it before he--”

The statement hung unfinished and Dean looked a little pale.

“Yeah,” Rory interjected desperately. “That’s good. I mean, it sounds like you’re doing good. With the business. You’re doing good with the business.”

He sort of looked at her, like he wasn’t sure what she was talking about.

Rory couldn’t blame him. She wasn’t sure what she was talking about either. “Do you want to get out of here?” she blurted.

His brow creased.

“I know you usually stay open later and I’m sure you have stocking everything but, I don’t know. Maybe tonight’s just a good night to blow it off.”

“Since when does Rory Gilmore blow off anything?”

“People change,” she said with a shyly provocative smile.

He seemed to consider that before he licked his lips. “Just tonight,” he agreed.

It took all her resolve to hide her surprise. “Just tonight.”

-o-

The park was beautiful. It was always lovely, of course, but it felt different tonight. Dean felt different.

Maybe it was the truth about the shop and how hard he was working. Maybe it was the rumors that didn’t give enough credit. Maybe it was all of it and none of it and a whole lot else Rory probably would never understand.

Things like parents dying and familial obligation. Things like never being good enough and worst-case scenarios.

Dean was quiet, walking next to her, so close she could feel his warmth.

They were away from the road now and the park was quiet, too. She wasn’t sure where they were going or even who was leading. Some things, she figured, were just meant to happen. And tonight, she wasn’t sure what it would bring, but tonight was one of those nights.

It was Dean who sat down, which should have been clue one to Rory. Dean never wanted to sit. Sitting was so much a waste of time, time that Dean never seemed willing to sacrifice.

But it was one of those nights.

“What a night, huh?” Rory said because apparently all that Ivy League education and speech-giving experience meant nothing when it came to passing the evening with an ex-yet-hopefully-would-be boyfriend.

“Yeah,” Dean said, rubbing his hands on his thighs. “What a night.”

“You should try to enjoy more of them,” Rory said. “We have quite a few nights here.”

“They usually follow the daytime.”

“Good to see all those long hours aren’t sapping your sense of humor.”

Dean laughed. “It’s always important to laugh,” he said. He paused, licking his lips. “I know you probably couldn’t tell now, but my family used to have family game night. My mom said it was good to bring us together. To make us laugh together.”

It was hard to imagine now, but Rory could remember an earlier time when she’d first met the Foresters. Before she’d broken Dean’s heart and helped break his marriage. She remembered family dinners, pot roast and mashed potatoes and the way that May had smiled with an air of exasperation at her husband and reminded Clara to chew before she swallowed. Those times had been very rare, too rare, and it seemed almost like a different life for her. “I’ll bet your mother was killer at charades. She’s great with facial expressions.”

“Clara always wanted to play Mall Madness.”

“Oh, a sale at the Electronics Store,” Rory recalled.

Dean was smiling, nodding, staring out across the park. “My dad liked Mouse Trap. He thought it was a good lesson in construction. Drove my mom nuts because he always talked about how we could make it better. More creative.”

And where had Rory been? When Dean had spent Friday Nights with them, killed their spiders, and changed their water bottles, where had she been? Why had she not come to game night? Why had she not known about it?

“He helped with me with your car, you know. We spent hours on it,” Dean said, and Rory felt her stomach tighten. “He always said that you must be quite a girl if you were worth all that.”

That one hurt--a lot. The car. The car she had accepted from Dean. The car she had accepted from Dean and let Jess drive and let Jess crash--

She had been so worried about Dean being angry that she hadn’t really stopped to think about why.

“He taught me all of that,” Dean was saying. “He’s the reason I could do anything with a car, anything with electronics. The college thing--I never could have done it without him. Even when my mother was so disappointed and didn’t want to talk to me--my dad, he cared. You know? He didn’t make me feel like I sucked, and--”

Dean was rambling, in a very Gilmore way, in a way that she wasn’t used to coming from him and she was trying to process that along with all her own failings and all her own longings when it happened.

Rory didn't know much about grief. She didn't even know much about pain. She didn't know what it was like to lose someone you loved, to lose them forever. Death had a permanence about it that was blessedly foreign to her.

She also didn't know much about sacrifice. So, she probably didn't know much about love. And in that moment, she realized that she still probably didn't know a lot about Dean Forester.

But she knew enough to see that he was about a heartbeat away from falling apart. Not just a little, not just for a moment, but completely. She knew it was because he'd gotten married too young, given up his dreams of a career, had his father die, and found himself stuck in a life he didn't want full of expectations he could probably never fulfill.

And he just couldn't do it.

"Dean," she said gently, moving closer. She'd done this before. Tried this comforting before. But this time was different. She was different, and he was ready.

"He's never coming back," Dean said, his voice strained. "He's never coming back and I'm never getting out. This is all I have and all I'll ever have. And I just...I don't--"

And that was it.

The tears came first, streaking down his cheeks as his body hunched over with the first sob. Then another.

As her arm went around him, supporting him, it all broke free and his cries followed one on top of another until he was shaking with it.

It scared it. It unnerved her. This wasn't a role she was used to playing.

But Dean needed her.

Her other arm encircled him, and he curled in closer to her, his face buried in her shirt.

It was awkward and uncomfortable. He was too large for this and it made her arms ache. But she didn't let go. Wouldn't let go. Not until he was done; not until Dean was ready.

As his sobs drifted into the night, she wondered why she'd never been here, never done this, wondered how she could live over a quarter of a century and still not know how to be the shoulder someone could cry on, how she could have so little compassion for the world around her. She was about success and achievements and she sometimes did good things to get there. But she had so rarely given of herself just to give.

Maybe this is what she'd been missing. Maybe this was everything she'd been missing. She couldn't win Dean back by artificial means. She needed to do the things he needed.

Stroking his head, feeling his body trembling against hers, she just hoped she could figure out what that was.

Next

 

Comments

Posted by: Dani (pinkphoenix1985)
Posted at: October 17th, 2009 07:28 pm (UTC)

I'm going to review both 29 and 30 with this post because I just read them both ;)

I'm loving to dislike Nancy- unforturnately for Rory- she needs that type of person to kick her into action.

and 30 is so poignant especially when Rory further learns how close Luke and Dean are and Rory just holding Dean as he sobs just killed me!

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: October 20th, 2009 06:45 pm (UTC)
perfect moment

I needed someone to be Rory's foil a bit, a la Paris, and Nancy fit the bill.

And I knew all along I'd have a scene where Rory comforts Dean--so it was good to get it out there :)

Thanks!

Posted by: ChristianGateFan (cgf_kat)
Posted at: October 20th, 2009 08:46 pm (UTC)
pic#89712014

Holy crap how did I miss this? There was the college visit thing Friday and then my friends came over once I was home...I just didn't catch it. Then I saw today that the new one was posted and realized it had skipped a number from the last one I'd read. :P

Anyway, to begin with I loved the conversation with Luke toward the beginning. Big teddy bear that he really is. LOL.

Aww, Rory...finally you're getting it. I love the end of this chapter. It's my favorite part so far, though I'm wondering if the beginning of the next chapter will be better. I'll find out in a couple of minutes. Finally...Dean needs this, I just hope they don't...screw it up somehow, because anything that involves Rory is in danger of being messed up....

Oh, I finally updated! Yes! A couple days ago, actually. Chapter seven is waiting on my LJ! I can't wait to hear what you think of it. :) Now off to read 31!

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: November 8th, 2009 01:21 am (UTC)
adorable dean

We're all behind! Writing Luke is always fun--all that gruffness with all the softness hiding inside. He's so great :)

And I think I reviewed your latest? I will have to check.

Posted by: ChristianGateFan (cgf_kat)
Posted at: November 8th, 2009 01:49 am (UTC)

Yep, you reviewed eight long time ago. :) Finally working on nine! I haven't had any time and already a week of NaNoWriMo is gone. I think I'm going to give that up, plan farther ahead for next year, and try again then. I'll just work on my GG story for now, which will make ya'll happy. :P Hehe lol. And in future chapters I plan to do my best to write Luke better. Ya'll are right. He's still a bit off, I think...

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