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do i dare or do i dare? [userpic]

GG Fic: Sometimes You Do 22/40

A/N: This is a chapter that anyone who reads my fic often had to know was coming. I make no apologies and am rather gleeful about it all, though it admittedly is still not very happy for our poor characters here. Thanks :) Oh I'll try to do review replies here in a bit--I know I'm slow!  Previous parts here.

 

CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO

Morning felt harsh.

Sunlight and warmth, brightness and life. So happy, cheery--all belying the fact that a few blocks toward town, a family was waking up without their father.

That Dean was waking up with a broken heart.

Worse, Dean was waking up with a broken spirit.

That was really what worried her. She’d seen him hurt before--she’d been the reason he’d been hurt before. But this was a different kind of hurt. It was even worse than seeing him in a marriage that didn’t make him happy. Even worse than seeing him realize how she was oh-so-subtly ashamed of him.

Sighing, she pulled herself out of bed and dragged herself to the kitchen. She probably needed to go into work this morning, but it didn’t seem all that important. Fortunately, being on time would be a moot point; Ned wouldn’t notice anyway.

So, it was a perfect morning to wallow a little bit. Not just for herself, but on Dean’s behalf.

She had settled at the kitchen table with a bagel when her mother came in.

“You’re not dressed,” Lorelai observed.

“Very astute of you.”

“You’re always dressed first,” her mother said before opening the fridge and rummaging for the gallon of orange juice.

“Apparently not.”

Eyes narrowed, Lorelai extracted the juice and grabbed a glass from the cabinet. “You’re messing with my head.”

“You’re drinking orange juice.”

“Because you’re not dressed.”

“You’re drinking orange juice because I’m not dressed?”

“One of us has to be the responsible one, and I guess it’s my day.”

“You’ll get coffee on the way.”

“A cup or two. Then more at work,” her mother said, sitting down opposite her. “What’s wrong?”

“Dean.”

“Ah.”

“He read the piece.”

“And?”

“He said it was good.”

"It was a good piece," her mom said. "It was your best piece."

Rory frowned, picking at her half-finished bagel. "It should have been more."

Lorelai’s voice was quiet, restrained. Measured. "What do you think it should have been?"

Sighing, Rory abandoned the bagel. "Better," she said. "I mean, how can you put a man's life into an article? How can you summarize a lifetime of dreams and achievement and just being? It's like we try to put words on the value of a person and you can never do it, you can never capture just what that person means to others. It's a farce and everyone says it was so beautiful and people turn out for the funeral and they cry and say how great he was but they don't get it. No one gets it. Maybe we shouldn't write obituaries at all."

"Honey," her mom ventured. "This isn't about Randy Forester."

She looked hesitantly up at her mother. "Then what is it about?"

Her mother smiled. "It's about Dean."

Rory's chest tightened. "Dean?"

"It's about what it means to Dean," her mom explained. "Not just your obituary, but his father's death. You know how much it hurts him. You see it. You see everything it means to him, about how he wants to be there for his family, about how he looks out for them, and you worry about him. You don't want to write a better obituary, honey, you want to give Dean more than that."

Rory flushed, tears burning behind her eyes. Her mother had an annoying habit of being right, of knowing her better than she knew herself.

"You can't force this kind of thing," Lorelai continued. "Trust me, I've tried. And I've got the screwed up relationships to show for it. I mean, you're looking at the woman who barely had communication with her parents for years on end. The one who seems incapable of walking down the aisle and when she does--don’t even get me started. Things aren’t like we want them to be. Not like they are on TV or in movies or whatever. It's just reality, you know? Like the screwed up way communication works--by not doing it half the time. Half-conversations. Forced smiles. Unfinished thoughts. That's the way it is. For two people to be in tandem--well, if you ever get there, honey, let me know. And never walk away. Until then...until then we do the next best thing."

Rory chewed her bottom lip, fingers tracing her napkin. "And what's the next best thing?"

"We write the best damn obituaries we can and try to put ourselves in someone else's shoes and hope it pays off."

"And if it doesn't?"

Her mother shrugged, picking up her own bagel. "Then at least we learned something about the other person," she said. "And, Rory, you do know how much that obituary meant, don't you?"

"To Dean?"

"To everyone," she said. "There's good writing and then there's being a good person. You managed to do both."

Ducking her head, Rory sighed. "And what's that worth?"

"Well, let's just say if someone had to write your obituary, they'd come up with a lot of good things to say."

Rory looked at her mother. "That's supposed to make me feel better?"

"What? It's a compliment."

"You're thinking about my obituary?"

Lorelai rolled her eyes. "You're missing the point."

"I need to start locking my bedroom door, don't I?"

"I can get in through the window."

"Isn't that illegal?"

"In my own house?"

Rory scowled. She could be an adult--sure. But that didn't mean she always had to be. "And you wonder why you never manage to walk down the aisle and make it stick. You're too busy penning your own obituary to worry about your vows."

"And you think I'm morbid."

Picking up her bagel, Rory took a small bite. "Well, they say the apple never falls far from the tree."

"They also say that mother knows best."

Rory shook her head with a roll of her eyes. "And what do they know anyway?"

"Well, they think you should go talk to Dean."

This made Rory pause, mid-chew. "And why do they think that?"

"They think that perhaps what Dean needs more than anything is a friend."

"Again, I ask, what are they basing this on?"

"On the fact that Dean's father just died. On the fact that he just had every single family responsibility dumped on him. On the fact that this is a load that no one should ever have to bear, much less when you're twenty-seven and had every chance in the world to make yourself happy and suddenly you have to turn you back on it."

"Well, they--"

"Rory," her mother interjected.

"What?"

"Enough with them. This is about you. And Dean. You and Dean."

"I tried," she said. "I've talked to him. He doesn't want to talk."

"Rory," her mother said, leveling her with a knowing stare. "Dean is a guy. Guys never want to talk. Guys never want to touch emotions with a ten foot pole even in the best if circumstances. Well, outside of like sports or something, anyway. Then they can get all giddy and excited and slap each other in the butt and it's all gravy. But in all other areas of life, emotions and talking is something they just can’t conceptualize. Doesn't mean they don't need it."

These were things Rory knew, even the sports part. What she didn't know was how that applied to her. "And what am I going to do about it?"

"Be the best friend you can be," Lorelai said. "Go to him, talk to him, try to get him to do things. Basically coerce him into talking without him even knowing it. Use your womanly virtues to trick and manipulate. We're not girls for nothing."

"Trick and manipulate?"

Her mother shrugged. "It's all for a good cause."

"Very Machiavellian of you."

"Eh, I'm more of an it's better to be loved by my many subjects type."

"I'll keep that in mind."

"Yeah, well, keep it in mind as you go talk to Dean."

“Yes, I’m sure your anti-Machiavellian ways will be quite useful when I talk to him,” Rory said. “I’m not sure how, but you know. I’ll figure it out.”

“There you go,” her mother said. “Now go! Do your thing!”

Rory rolled her eyes and pushed herself to her feet. “Going, going,” she said. “But you know, if you want me to love you, you may want to be less demanding.”

“Well, if you can’t woo them, you demand their love.”

“Then would it really be love?”

“Do you know what happens to rebellious subjects?”

“They’re subjected to long talks about nothing?”

“Exactly.”

Rory smiled. “I’m going.”

And she was gone before her mother could reply.

-o-

Machiavelli had known that life was usually business before pleasure. It wasn’t fun, of course, but that Machiavelli certainly understood the way life was.

Besides, she needed some time. There was so much to say to Dean, so much to talk about, and she needed to gather herself, to really think about it before she went spouting off and saying something utterly stupid and ruining it all. She didn’t have the best track record, after all.

Too bad she wasn’t coming up with anything. She knew she wanted to tell Dean how sorry she was--not like everyone else, but how deeply and truly she ached for him. Because it was hard seeing him in pain.

It was hard because Rory was pretty sure she loved him.

She loved him.

She loved him and she wanted better for him. She wanted him to be happy, she wanted him to get a job working with cars, not just part-time, but as a career. She wanted him to go places and to do things and she didn’t know how to tell him.

By the time the evening rolled around, she realized that there was only one way to say it: that was just to say it.

Rather simplistic in the end, but she’d spent too much time beating around the bush. It was time to lay it all out on the table, take that risk, and see what happened.

She was sure Machiavelli would approve.

By the time she’d reached that realization, it was dark and she knew the shop was closed. Which was better. Then, there’d be no customers, no coworkers. Just Dean.

The door was still unlocked and though main lights were off, she could easily see Dean bathed in the light behind the counter.

Taking a deep breath, she went inside.

He glanced up briefly before burying himself back in his work. “Hi,” he said.

“Hi,” she replied, easing herself up to the counter. “Hard at work, I see.”

“There’s always something,” Dean murmured. “I’ve got to get the numbers down for the next shipment and we’ve got a mortgage payment coming up so I have to make sure the right funds are transferred.”

“Sounds very business-like.”

“That’s the idea.”

He sounded tired. He sounded bad. He looked bad. She licked her lips, hedging carefully. “Maybe you need a break,” she suggested.

“There’s hardly time.”

“You can make time.”

Dean sighed, rubbing his hand over his face. “Look, Rory, I know what you’re trying to do--”

“No, you don’t,” she said.

He looked up at her, confused. “What?”

“I mean, I don’t think you know what I’m trying to do.”

“I don’t?”

“No. I mean. I just want you to take a break, go out with me--”

“I don’t have time tonight,” he said. “I’ve got be sure we’ve got enough liquid assets--”

“I’m pretty sure the liquid assets can wait,” Rory cajoled. “Come on, the night is beautiful and--”

“The night’s always beautiful,” he sighed. “And this can’t wait.”

“There will always be work--”

“Exactly,” Dean interjected harshly. He gathered a measured breath. “I just need to do this, okay?”

“You’re working yourself too hard,” Rory said, feeling her own frustrations rise. There were things they needed to do, things she needed to say, and he wasn’t making this easier for her. He wasn’t making it easier for either of them.

“I’m doing what I have to do.”

“No, you’re being ridiculous.”

He looked up, his brow creased and his eyes flashed with hurt, which gave way to a defensiveness that Rory recognized. “I’m being ridiculous?”

“No, I mean--you just need to take a break, okay?”

"Rory, what do you want from me?" Dean demanded, his voice strained, more tired than angry. He rubbed his chest, wincing a little. "What do you think I can do for you?"

"You can live your life," Rory shot back. "Live it for you. Live up to your potential. Dean, you went to school after all that time, you did what most people will never do, and you did it so well. You can't have worked so hard for a new future to settle for this."

Hurt flashed in his eyes. "This, Rory, is all I can do."

"You need to stop keeping yourself in a box," she said. "I know you can do better. Dean, you graduated with high distinction in your class. You had some of the most prestigious internships you could possibly have. And I know you turned down job opportunities at some of the best car companies in the country . You can do more, so I don't know why you're tying yourself to a place you don't even want to be."

"Because it's not about what I want!" he exploded at her. "There are a million things I want, but what about what my family needs? What about them, huh? What about my dad who put his entire life into this place? What about my mom who practically had to quit her job trying to nurse him back to health? What about the mortgage on the house? The car payments? The funeral expenses? What about keeping my family afloat? What about Clara's college plans? What about all of that, Rory? Am I supposed to say, oh, too bad, tough luck? Well, I can't do that. This is my family. They come first. They have to, because if I don't put them first, then who will?"

His speech stunned her, shocked her. Things she'd known, on some level, things that everyone had to know. But not things she'd thought about--not like that. Because the world didn't depend on her like that. Her family didn't need her to be anyone but herself. It had never occurred to her how much of a privilege that was. "Dean--"

"No, Rory," he said, turning away. "I can't do this with you anymore. I can't sit here and pretend like we can make something work out, like I even want it. Because all you do to me, all you do is confuse me. Get my hopes up, make me feel like other things could happen, just to let me down. You and I, we were never compatible. It was all just teenage love, pipe dreams, and I can't afford that risk now. Okay? I can't."

"Dean," she tried again, trailing after him, putting a hand on his arm. "Please."

He turned toward her now, his eyes shining. "Please what, Rory? Please stay? Please make you happy? Please be your boyfriend when you need one and please don't cry when you need to move on? Please be more so I might be good enough for you for a little bit? Well, I'm sorry, Rory. I may always love you, but you don't need me. My family does. I need to--I need to--"

He had gone pale and Rory suddenly noticed a fine sweat breaking out on his forehead.

"Dean?" she asked, a little tentative now, her concern mounting.

He gasped, stumbling a little bit, catching himself with one hand on the counter while the other went to his chest.

"Dean, are you okay?" she asked again, more urgently now, moving closer to him.

Eyes squeezed shut, he seemed to be trying to pull himself together. "I...I...hurts...God, Rory...," he tried to say between gasps.

The color had drained from his face now and his eyes were wide and panicked as he seemed to stagger forward more.

"Whoa," Rory said, putting a hand out to catch him. "Do you think maybe we should sit down? You know, try to--"

He blinked rapidly, his breathing taking on a grating tone. "I just can't do it anymore," he heaved and then, without any more warning, his eyes rolled up in his head and his knees buckled as he pitched forward, crumbling to the ground with a ferocity that Rory could not keep up with.

It was all she could do to slow his descent, throwing herself in front of him as his heavy body slumped down against her. She couldn't stop it--she didn't have the time or the physical presence--but she did cushion him before he hit the ground with a muted thud. Her arms protested with the load, but she only carried it briefly until she found herself flat on her bottom, Dean limp in front of her.

She supposed she should feel grateful that he passed out there; of all the places he could have passed out in the store, next to the counter was really probably ideal. Because if Dean had gone down in the aisles, there would have been too much Dean in too little space, and worse, Dean probably would have hit a lot more than Rory on the way down.

But it wasn't like this was good on any level. Because Dean had just passed out in front of her and was currently sprawled, face down on the floor.

"Dean?" she asked, her own panic fully going now. "Dean?"

Her fingers hovered above his head, trying to look more clearly into his face, which was partially obscured by his hair. She loved his hair, she really did, but it was getting shaggy, in need of a cut, and that wouldn't have been such a big deal if she hadn't been desperately trying to figure out if he was okay. If he was even still alive for that matter. Because he'd just passed out face-first in the stereo shop that was now apparently his and Rory didn't know what to do.

Yale educated, real world experienced, and she didn't know what to do. Because she was a journalist, not a doctor, not a nurse, and quite frankly, journalists didn't deal with people passing out on a daily basis, especially not would-be boyfriends who were completely screwed up by the fact that his father just died due to a genetic heart condition.

Genetic heart condition.

It couldn't...

Could it?

Her breath caught in her throat as she smoothed his hair back. "Dean?" she called. "Dean!"

There was a twitching. Twitching was good, right? Twitching was better than stillness because to twitch, one had to be alive, therefore if Dean were twitching, Dean had to be alive and that was a good thing.

"Dean?" she tried again, leaning closer now. "Sweetie, wake up."

He twitched again, his face contorted into a grimace as he stirred.

In fact, he was more than stirring, he was trying to push himself up. That grimace was still there, marring his features, and his eyes were scrunched tight against a pain Rory couldn't place.

"Dean? Are you okay?"

He managed to prop himself up, halting with gasping breaths, before he rolled himself over into a semi-sitting position. She sidled in closer, positioning herself partly behind him and she was scared when he sagged against her, seeming not to know he was doing it. "Rory?" he finally asked, but his voice was small, garbled--not at all right.

"You passed out," she said stupidly because she couldn't think of anything else to say. After all, what should she say? It didn't seem appropriate to start talking to him about the relative quality of truth and responsibility because that kind of thing really required two coherent parties, or one coherent party and one Gilmore and she was pretty sure that Dean was short up on the coherent part.

Sure, his eyes were open now, blinking lazily as he tried to move. Where or why, she wasn't sure, but maybe his machismo was kicking back in.

Then he groaned again, his hand going again to his chest, rubbing it with a consistency that suddenly freaked Rory out.

"You know what?" she said. "I'm going to call for help. Okay? We'll get an ambulance with paramedics and they'll know what to do and it will be just fine, okay?"

She hadn't been really talking to him so much as talking about him or near him. Because, really, did semi-conscious people get a vote in things like this?

Apparently, Dean thought they did. "No," he gasped, his other hand grasping at her leg. "No hospital. Not this time."

This time? As opposed to all the other times he went to the hospital?

"Not this summer," he said again, muttering more now, like his awareness was waning yet again.

It didn't even matter what that meant because he was growing heavy in her arms again and he was rubbing his chest and his father had just died from a genetic heart problem and there was no way she was going to take this chance.

"Easy," she said, as soothingly as she could, though she doubted she was successful. She didn't have a bad voice, but a comforting one, definitely not. With her free hand, she groped blindly for her bag. "Just don't worry about it, okay?"

Her fingers closed around the strap just as Dean fidgeted a little again, nearly jarring himself from her grip, which wouldn't take much if she thought about it as Dean was a human version of a Sasquatch and she was just Rory Gilmore.

"Rory?" he asked. He sounded young and confused and Rory felt her own chest tighten.

Digging one handed through her bag, her fingers brushed plastic and she pulled out the phone, flipping it open. "Yeah," she said, trying to sound calm because she wasn't going to be calm at this point, but she didn't figure panicking would really help Dean no matter what reasons he had for passing out and twitching.

He seemed to be waiting until her eyes found his and they were full and wet. "I'm sorry," he said, and a tear slipped from one of his eyes, trailing down his cheek. "I'm so, so sorry."

Just like that, she couldn't breathe and she thought she might pass out on the floor right next to Dean. Because Dean was lying there, limp and twitching, and practically saying goodbye.

"Hey," she said. "What's to be sorry for? It's not like you wanted to take that nosedive to the floor and I know that, so I'm not going to be--Dean--Dean!"

But he was drifting off, his eyelids closing so slowly that it hurt, and the moment they shut, the tension left his body and Rory nearly dropped him again.

"Dean!" she called, desperately now, because she needed Dean. She loved Dean. And she wasn't going to sit here and just watch him die.

Her fingers were shaking and her eyes were blurred with tears, but she managed to dial those three numbers all the same.

Next

 

Comments

Posted by: ChristianGateFan (cgf_kat)
Posted at: September 18th, 2009 08:19 pm (UTC)
pic#89712014

Oh god. Oh crap, oh CRAP.

I'm just like you so I knew you'd do something to him because that just you, which I love, but anyway I didn't think it'd be THIS. It's so much better than some new random accident though and I LOVE it but I'm actually scared for him now! I mean unfortunately it makes sense, what with the genetic thing and how much he was working too hard and stressing himself out and all, but now, yes, I'm actually a little scared. Even if they figure-it-out what would happen then? If he's already put that much strain on himself that this happened then what about his health later? Or am I reading too much into this? Oh god poor, poor Dean and OH MY GOD HE'S 27 AND HE JUST HAD A HEART ATTACK!

*hyperventilates and passes out* No, no, need to stay consious and go fionish my own new chapter.

Anyway, loved this! Most amazing chapter yet! Of course. ;)

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: September 22nd, 2009 03:17 am (UTC)
sorry donna reed

I AM SO MEAN.

Hee. I adore your angst. I should be posting tomorrow.

Thanks!

Posted by: sidura (sidura)
Posted at: September 18th, 2009 08:45 pm (UTC)
Dean from GG

First you almost electrocute him, then you run him down then sendintheclowns has him almost loosing his head during that softball game, but a heartattack due to a genetic condition???

Please just let it be stress as that is just too scary!!!

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: September 22nd, 2009 03:17 am (UTC)
first last always

I am quite cruel the boy...I rule nothing out :)

Thanks!

Posted by: sendintheclowns (sendintheklowns)
Posted at: September 19th, 2009 01:00 am (UTC)
too little

*cackles with glee* You are evil. That's a compliment.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: September 22nd, 2009 03:19 am (UTC)
the cute one

Hee! BEHOLD MY WRATH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

(might as well embrace it, right?)

Posted by: Dani (pinkphoenix1985)
Posted at: September 19th, 2009 08:36 am (UTC)

limp!DEAN!! YAY!!!

OK- I'm totally nuts but I love the LIMP!

and it's good for Rory to see this- to know that not everything is so perfect, etc

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: September 22nd, 2009 03:20 am (UTC)
the way we were

Hey, remember who you are talking to. No one loves the limp like I do, so I get it :)

Thanks!

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