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do i dare or do i dare? [userpic]

GG Fic: Sometimes You Do 31/40

A/N: So where does Rory go from here? Some readers have speculated about stuff to come in this chapter, though I can say this was written a long time ago :) Thanks!  Earlier parts here.

 

CHAPTER THIRTY-ONE

That night, she walked him home. Not because he asked her to, because he still hadn’t said a word since it started. Instead, she had been the one to coax him up, to lead him with an arm snug around his waist.

It seemed like there should be things to say, things to make it better. Reassurances. Cliches. Something.

With all of her journalistic flair, she could think of nothing.

So they walked in silence, Rory close to him, Dean’s head dangling low enough to obscure his red-rimmed eyes.

At his porch, he stopped them, using one hand to wipe purposefully at his face, clearing away what he could of the tears and emotion. “I’m sorry,” he said finally.

“Dean, you have no reason to be sorry.”

He didn’t look at her. “This isn’t what I do,” he said.

“Hey, we all need to do it sometimes,” Rory said. “And you’ve been here for me.”

“I never meant--I mean, I never meant to burden you,” he said. “You’re a good friend, and I--”

“That’s what friends do,” she said. “It goes both ways, okay?”

She could see his brow furrowing, as if he were trying to make sense of something. “I need to get some sleep,” he said. “I have work in the morning.”

“Sleep is good,” she agreed hollowly.

He pulled away from her, still refusing to look at her. “Goodnight, Rory.”

He still sounded sad. He sounded broken. He sounded like the world was crumbling and he didn’t know what to do. He still needed. He probably didn’t need her but he still needed someone and she seemed to be the only one around who was listening to him at all.

But what could she say? What could she do? She’d been there, she’d held him, she’d comforted him and he said goodnight.

A good person would know what to say to make it better. A good person would stop him, make him talk, find some way to let him know that it was going to be okay.

Maybe Rory wasn’t a very good person.

“Goodnight, Dean,” she said, watching him climb the stairs. He didn’t look around when he closed the door behind him.

-o-

Dean didn't call.

She’d really expected him to. It would have been a very Dean thing, and she needed a Dean thing. Dean things assured her that all was right with the world. That she’d done the right thing. That she hadn’t made everything ten times worse.

A day went by, two, before she called him. It was more than she could take; the ambiguity of their relationship was daunting enough as it was, and this newfound layer was one she simply didn’t know if her sanity could abide by any longer. She was surprised to find him awkward and tentative, almost feeling her out, like they were first dating again. Only without any of the enthusiasm.

"So, how are you?" she prompted finally, wishing she'd done this face to face so she could at least see him.

"Okay," he replied, and she realized she didn't have to see him to know how much his shoulders were slouching. For such a big guy, Dean had a real talent for shrinking himself when the situation called for it. Or when his psyche seemed to deem it prudent.

"Good," she said, even though she knew it was a lie. Dean wasn't really okay, no more okay than she was, and she wasn't okay.

A pause lingered. "Look," he said. "Rory. About the other night."

"It was nothing," she interjected quickly, almost desperately, though she wasn't sure who she was trying to protect.

"No, I mean, I just wanted to thank you."

Now that one made her pause. No, it downright floored her. "Thank me?"

"For being there. For...seeing me like that. I don't usually do that, you know? And being back here, being with my family, sometimes it feels like there's no one here to open up to, to be myself with. I can't handle it all on my own. I tried, right? And we saw how well that worked out."

"It wasn't so bad," Rory said without thinking.

Dean scoffed. "I ended up in the hospital with an ulcer."

"Yeah, okay, so maybe it wasn't great."

"Rory, you're missing my point," he said. "You were there for me. I needed someone, and you were there. Thank you."

It was a simple and as complicated as that: she'd been there for him. She hadn't known what to say, she hadn't known what to do. She'd wanted to do more, to do less. She'd wanted to stay forever, to run away. But she'd been there and he wanted to say thank you.

"No problem," she said, her voice soft.

"Well, I'll see you, okay?"

"Okay."

She was still holding the phone to her ear as the call ended. Still holding it like a lifeline to Dean.

After everything, after all her advances and exploits, he just was glad she was there.

For the first time, the door was open. But this time, she knew that the only way to get through was to wait for him to invite her in. All her pushing and prodding would get her nowhere.

Too bad patience was a virtue that the Gilmores didn't have.

For Dean, though. Maybe for Dean.

Then she realized. The door was open. Patience was a virtue she didn’t need when she had twenty thousand dollars and the answer to both their problems.

-o-

It was late and her mother was asleep, but her mother was never too asleep for her.

At least she wouldn’t be after Rory woke her up.

She was many things, but subtle wasn’t one of them, and she slid into bed next to her mother and spoke into the darkness. “Are you awake?”

Lorelai huffed a breath. “Not if I can help it,” her mother mumbled without opening her eyes.

“You can’t help it,” Rory prompted her.

Her mother didn’t move, didn’t open her eyes. “Are you in trouble?”

“No.”

“Are you pregnant?”

“No.”

“Is the house on fire?”

“And if I say yes?”

“Then call 9-1-1 and tell them to book it because someone’s asleep on the second floor.”

“I know what I need to do,” Rory said, unwilling to prolonged this any longer.

“About home fires?”

“About Dean.”

That got her mother’s attention and her eyes snapped open. “You know what to do about Dean?”

Rory just grinned. “I do.”

“What happened?” Lorelai asked, pushing herself up a little to look at Rory.

“Well, you know how he broke down a few nights ago.”

“Yeah,” her mother said.

“I finally talked to him.”

“And?”

“And he thanked me,” Rory explained. “He thanked me for being there.”

“That’s great, honey,” her mother said.

“So, it got me thinking.”

“In the middle of the night?”

Rory ignored her. “I know how to show him how much I care.”

“And you couldn’t figure it out in the morning?”

Rory persisted. “I’m going to give him the money.”

Lorelai’s mouth opened and closed and she blinked once. “You...what?”

“I’m going to give him the money,” Rory said again, proud.

“Are you sure? I mean, that’s your money.”

“To do what I want with,” Rory said. “And I don’t need it. I mean, it’s nice and it’d help but I can get a job without it. And Dean--they’ve got medical bills and funeral expenses and the store and he just needs it so much more than I do and it would help him out and show how much I care about him.”

“And what would you tell your grandparents?”

“I’ll tell them the truth. That it’s going to a very worthy cause.”

“Well, I’m not sure they’d agree.”

Rory rolled her eyes. “You’re the one who told me that anything meant anything.”

“Of course I did, honey,” her mother said. “And of course I think that.”

“Well, this is what I want to do. It’ll help Dean out and if Grandma and Grandpa don’t like it, then they can just think twice before doling out another twenty grand to me.”

“Yeah, this might hamper their meager humanitarian efforts,” her mother agreed. “But what about Dean?”

“What about him? It’ll give him the chance to breathe, which he’s so clearly needed.”

“Yeah, but do you think he’ll want it?”

“It’s not about wanting it,” Rory said. “It’s about needing it.”

“I just want to make sure you’ve thought about this.”

“Of course I’ve thought about it,” Rory said happily. “It’s perfect. The perfect gesture, the perfect use of the money, and we all win.”

“You know, if he thanked you for just letting him cry, imagine what he’d do for you when you give him twenty thousand dollars,” her mother said with a suggestive grin.

Rory batted her mother. “Ew. Mom.”

“Oh, come on,” Lorelai said, then her face contorted and her voice dropped in her pathetic excuse for a Dean impression. “Rory, I don’t know how to thank you for this wonderful gesture.

Rory just rolled her eyes. “You mock me.”

Let me just unbutton my shirt while I contemplate how eternally grateful I am for your amazing generosity.

Casting her mother a glare, Rory rolled out of the bed. “You’re making this dirty.”

Perhaps I should consult my bulging biceps to figure it out!

“What do you know about his bulging biceps?”

“You haven’t seen them?”

“I’ve speculated.”

“Oh, kid, let me tell you, you’re missing out.”

Rory made a face of incredulous disgust. “You’re beginning to frighten me.”

“Jealousy does not become you.”

“I’m going to go to sleep and hope this is a bad dream.”

“Be sure to turn off the lights!” her mother called after her.

Over her shoulder, Rory called back, “With pleasure!”

-o-

She still wasn’t sure how she’d managed to get him out of the stereo shop for dinner, but she had him, and she sort of figured at this point that it was fate. It had to be fate. Fate that gave her twenty thousand dollars and Dean for the night.

The entire thing made her anxious in an excited sort of way. Like a first date or a big dance or an anniversary or the start of something fantastic.

Fate was on her side. Finally. So much so she’d even made him dinner. Made it. Not quite from scratch, but there was cooking involved and even baking in the most rudimentary sense of the word.

Her mother and Luke were out for the night and Dean looked almost relaxed.

“I still can’t believe you cooked,” Dean said, scraping his plate with his fork.

Rory just grinned, shifting in anticipation in her seat. “I had some help from Betty Crocker.”

“Well, it’s very impressive,” Dean said with a grin. “I appreciate the night out.”

“Good,” Rory said. “I wanted it to be special because I have something special I wanted to discuss with you.”

He cocked his head uncertainly. “Something special?”

Rory rubbed her hands together. “I was going to wait until after we had dessert because I made these brownies and bought some ice cream but what the heck,” Rory said. “We might as well do it now.”

Dean’s forehead wrinkled. “Rory, what are you talking about?”

Rory pulled the envelope out of her pocket and held it out. “This,” she said. “I’m talking about this.”

He looked more than a little skeptical and he hesitated before he took the envelope from Rory’s outstretched hand. Glancing at her again, his long fingers ran under the flap.

Excitement flared in her and she gnawed her lower lip, watching his face intently.

There was uncertainty, then confusion, and then...hurt?

“Rory, what is this?” he asked.

“It’s a check.”

“I can see it’s a check.”

“That way you don’t have to worry about the expenses,” she said. “I know it’s been difficult lately and my grandparents gave me this money and I thought you could use it, that your family could use it and it would ease the burden and you could relax and...” Her voice trailed off. Dean was looking at her. Incredulously. And something else. Something... “You’re not happy,” she said. “Why aren’t you happy?”

“So, you thought you’d give me twenty thousand dollars?”

“You deserve it,” she said. “You can use it--”

He shook his head, laughing a little breathlessly. “I don’t need your money.”

“No, but I thought--”

“You thought what? That I couldn’t do it on my own?”

“Of course not,” Rory said. “I just thought I could make it easier. You know, be there for you.”

“Twenty thousand dollars worth of being there?”

“Dean, you told me about your expenses--”

“Because I needed someone to talk to, not because I needed money.”

“I know you didn’t ask for it, but that’s sort of why I thought it’d be a good idea. To show you how much you mean to me, and--”

“So, what, you wanted to buy me? Give me twenty thousand and then what? We date? I owe you two nights a week?”

And that one hurt and Rory felt her eyes well up. “That’s not what this is,” she said. “I just wanted to help you.”

Dean’s eyes also flashed with pain and his jaw set tightly as he looked down. “I thought you understood,” he said finally, his voice quiet.

“I thought I did, too,” Rory said. She really had, too. She had tried so hard. She had done this for Dean, to make Dean happy, and it had been big, twenty thousand dollars big and all she’d done was hurt Dean’s feelings. It was like three steps backwards and it was her fault and she didn’t really know why.

“It’s not about money,” Dean said. “I can do that part on my own. What I need--Rory, the other night meant so much to me because for the first time in a long time, someone listened to me. Someone cared about me. There wasn’t any expectation, there wasn’t any sense of disappointment, there was just someone who let me talk, okay?”

“Oh,” Rory said. Her eyes wandered from his downcast face to the dishes on the table to her lap. It wasn’t about the money. She had wanted it to be about the money. The money had made her feel better, it had helped her, and she had just thought she could do the same for Dean. But Dean wasn’t her. “I just. I. I’m sorry.”

Dean swallowed. “I shouldn’t have freaked out,” he said. “I just thought you understood.”

She nodded. “I didn’t mean to insult you.”

With a sigh, Dean rubbed a hand over his face. “I know,” he said quietly.

“I’m sorry,” she said. On every level.

His mouth quirked into a smile. “I know,” he said. He took another deep breath. “The dinner was great.”

“Thanks,” she said meagerly.

“Can I take a rain check on those brownies?”

“Yeah,” she said. “Sure.”

Standing, he looked at the check again before holding it out to Rory. “I’ll call you, okay?”

It took all Rory had not to cry as she took the check back. “Yeah,” she said. “Okay.”

He chewed his lip for a moment longer before he saw himself to the door. Normally, Rory would follow, would see him out, even walk him home because at the moment she couldn’t really move, didn’t really want to move.

This had been it. Her brilliant plan. Her chance to prove her love.

Instead, she’d insulted him, hurt him, and now she had to realize that she didn’t know enough about love, about wooing, about Dean.

And now she was back to square one.

She sighed. It was going to be a long night. She might need to eat all those brownies herself.

Next

 

Comments

Posted by: Dani (pinkphoenix1985)
Posted at: October 23rd, 2009 08:31 pm (UTC)

(That's totally okay. I know that we have a deadline but no need to rush, I'm here waiting. Also I'm busy with stuff as well so I totally understand :D I hope that everything's good with your little guy ;))

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