Story: Change of Scenery
Disclaimer: I own no rights to anything Gilmore Girls related. I just write for my own amusement.
Description: Set in Season One, up to P.S. I Lo…. Rory goes to her grandparents to escape all the drama that has gone on in her small town life of late. But she isn't so quick to return as she was in the show. A spin on if Rory had more of a season 6 sized emotional meltdown in Season 1. Trory.
On the surface, it seemed an utterly typical Saturday. The first meal of the day, at least their first meal of the day for the Gilmore girls—though it was most people's lunch time—was spent eating their favorite breakfast foods at Luke's Diner. Due to the restaurants array of windows, the beauty of the spring day was vibrantly beckoning as they enjoyed their meals. It was unique, however because it was the first Saturday Rory had been back at home since her stay at her grandparents'. It also happened to be her first true date with Tristan, which had her spirits high, if not a little tightly wound.
"So, what's on the docket for the day?" Lorelai asked over her third refill of coffee. Her pancakes were half gone, as was three quarters of her bacon. A bowl of fruit that Luke had brought—as a joke, according to Lorelai—sat untouched aside from the strawberries that Rory had picked out and consumed with her waffles.
"You mean now that we've got breakfast nailed down?" Rory asked with a knowing smirk.
"You say that like this wasn't an achievement. It's not noon, and yet, here we are, dressed, groomed, and nearly done eating."
"It's like my taste buds get confused. I want breakfast because I haven't eaten since dinner, and yet the time cues make me think about a burger."
Lorelai perked up so fast that Rory could nearly envision a light bulb over her mother's head. "Oooh, I can't believe I haven't thought of this before. I have the perfect brunch food. Waffle burgers!"
Rory shook her head, shutting down the idea. "I think that's dangerously close to chicken and waffles."
"Hey! Do not knock chicken and waffles. It's the best hangover food of all time. Ask anyone. It should be considered a delicacy."
"I'll keep that in mind next time I'm hungover," Rory joked.
"Your college days are not that far away. I'd like you to be prepared on all fronts. My gift to you," Lorelai smiled graciously.
"That might be a good idea for a restaurant—you know, where all they serve is good hangover food."
"Oh, like milkshakes and hash browns," Lorelai began.
"Greasy tacos. Oh, and gravy as a side for any menu item or just by itself," Rory added.
"And of course the aforementioned chicken and waffles, and my newly concocted waffle burgers. Add a chaser of aspirin with every order and you're golden."
"And for those poor unfortunates who lose their appetites for the duration, bathrooms with tons of stalls, each big enough to fit someone to hold your hair back?" Rory envisioned.
"You have some shrewd business sense. Maybe you should scrap that whole journalism idea and go to business school. Maybe you and Luke could open this place when you graduate! I see a whole chain, international success," Lorelai encouraged. "Particularly in college towns."
Rory laughed. "Yeah, we can hammer out the contract later today."
Luke approached their table with coffee. "How is everything?" he asked, still pleased to see the reunited pair having a peaceful meal. His pleasure was directly related to the fact he continued to fill their cups instead of cutting them off.
"We have a business proposition for you," Lorelai said with an eager smile.
He frowned. "I'm not adding anything you suggest to my menu. We've been over this before."
Lorelai pouted. "It's not a single menu item. You have to think big. We want you to open a diner."
His frown deepened as he used his pen to gesture around the room. "I already did. You've been patronizing it, not to mention me, for years now. Did she hit her head?" he asked Rory.
Rory shook her head and fought back laughter. "She's thinking about a new diner. Themed."
He cringed. "Like one of those awful 50s diners? Forget it. There will be no dancing waiters or malt anything here."
"No, not 50s themed, though my tips would definitely increase if you danced on the counter to YMCA. You just need a hard hat to pull off that construction-worker look. Wait—was there a lumberjack?" Lorelai asked Rory, who shook her head. "Drat. Anyhow, the theme we thought of was a hangover theme," Lorelai corrected.
"You're supposed to be a role model. This is what you deem appropriate conversation with your teenager?" he asked, flabbergasted.
"She started it! She wanted a waffle burger!" Lorelai said, pointing her fork at her daughter.
"I did not! You were extolling the virtues of chicken and waffles. I just said I had trouble deciding between breakfast and lunch."
"You shouldn't have to choose!" Lorelai said, banging her open palm against the tabletop. "And at the Hangover Café, you would never have to choose," she said with authority.
"Well, you have to decide about the gravy," Rory said.
"Don't encourage her," Luke gruffed as he walked away without topping them off.
"I don't think he's going to help you with your restaurant," Lorelai said with a sigh as she watched him walk away. "But it's okay. You don't need him. You have vision."
"I also have a ton of studying to do. Which is what I'll be doing all afternoon, until I meet Lane to keep her company while she mans some table at the church to advertise the evils of sugar and starch."
"My two favorite food groups. Well, after caffeine. I swear, if Mrs. Kim had her way, I wouldn't be able to eat at all. Though that would help me be bikini ready for the summer," Lorelai mused.
"Because you plan to have time to lounge about on the beach this summer? Did I miss a memo about our summering at the coast?" Rory asked loftily.
"What did I tell you about squashing my dreams?" Lorelai asked, feigning hurt and dejection.
"I didn't know if maybe Max had some beach house somewhere or not," Rory said.
"Please. He's a teacher. He might read me a passage from a book about the beach… but I'm not with him for his money. I'm with him for his-," she began devilishly, but Rory cut her off.
"I beg you not to finish that sentence. It'll put me off my date this evening," Rory said with a shudder.
"You mean you and Lane and a stack of movies Mrs. Kim wouldn't approve of?" Lorelai mused.
Rory shook her head. "Lane's spoken for. Her mom arranged a night out with some future podiatrist and his extended family. But luckily for me, Tristan asked me out."
"But... you said there was no point in going out with him," Lorelai said, her voice halting.
"I took your advice. You were the one that said that I should go out with him. Remember?"
Lorelai appeared regretful for the motherly advice. "I don't fully recall."
"What are you, an Enron exec?" Rory joked. "Besides, what do you care, you have a date, too. This way you won't have to worry about leaving me home alone without anything to do. Right?"
"Well, I certainly won't worry about you being alone," Lorelai added.
"Wait. Seriously? You like Tristan. You've been nice to him every time he's come over this week."
"I've been polite to your study partner, yes," Lorelai amended.
Rory thought back to the study sessions her mother spoke of. Sure, they'd gotten some actual work done, thanks to the diligent and highly focused minds involved. But there had been breaks in their concentration—stretches where hands grazed exposed skin and mouths met in heated anticipation. It was by no means pushing the limits of moral impropriety, but it was far more scintillating than anything she'd experienced before. And it was absolutely something her mother might worry about.
"We're just going out on one date. We're not eloping."
"Are you sure? Have you asked him what his plans are and if they involve crossing state lines to find a boat captain with questionable judgment?"
"No, but feel free to ask him when he comes to pick me up," Rory said, encouraging her mother's outlandish line of thought. "Be sure to inquire about his plans to use me as a get-away driver when he robs a string of convenience stores, too."
"I'd hate to insult him," Lorelai sniffed.
"I just want you to have all your curiosities satisfied," Rory said with a sigh. "How long until you get over hating him? When he leaves?"
"For the record, I don't hate him. I barely know him. You barely know him," Lorelai impressed upon her.
"So you want me to keep a safe distance between us at all times and wear my Purity ring?" Rory queried for clarification.
"I just want you to be careful. And I'm not just talking about all the physical stuff. He's leaving soon, and if you get too attached, you'll get hurt."
Rory gazed down at the remnants of food on her plate. Her appetite had long since been satisfied and she couldn't eat more at that point if she wanted to. "I've already weighed the consequences of the situation," she said finally as she met her mother's eyes of concern.
"How can I like a guy that's by default going to break your heart?" Lorelai asked quietly, in all seriousness.
"Because it's what I'm choosing. And you support me, no matter what," Rory said without question.
Lorelai's eyes closed as she took in the reality of what Rory was getting herself into. "Okay. I won't hate him, openly. But if he crosses state lines with you in his car, he's dead meat."
Rory smiled. "I'll be sure to tell him all our dates are to remain local if he values his life."
"If you're sure," Lorelai began.
"I am," she said swiftly. "I'm going to head home to study while you pay the tab. I'll see you when you get back from work, and we can get ready together?"
"Probably a good idea. I may have borrowed some of your shoes while you were at Grandma's," Lorelai admitted sheepishly.
"What? Did you want them to fall into disuse? They were lonely, I could hear them crying out in the night. They were almost as loud as your red sweater."
"I'll be searching your room when I get home," Rory warned as her mother blew her a kiss and headed to the counter to start another debate with the proprietor.
"So, that was," Tristan began with a shell-shocked hesitation once he and Rory were safely alone within the confines of his parked car just outside her house.
Rory glanced from her front porch to him. "Yeah. I know. I feel like I should apologize."
He shook his head to abate her. "No, I mean, I've gotten the full-court press from parents before, but nothing… quite like that."
"Sports term?" she asked with a wrinkle forming between her brows.
"Basketball," he said with a nod, but his thousand-yard stare remained.
"Mom doesn't hate you. I checked," she offered with a small smile.
"She doesn't like me," he contested, still not mollified.
"Well, she's working on it," she admitted. That kind of elevated status from Lorelai Gilmore took time that he didn't have.
"And poor Mr. Medina," he continued.
"Yeah. Don't worry about that. I think they still have … issues."
"Everything he said, she corrected him," he pointed out.
"I heard," Rory said with a cringe as she could practically hear a replay of her teacher's attempts to offer a suitable curfew and other guidelines before they left for the evening. "I think he means well."
"Maybe he thinks you need a father figure," he suggested.
"Got one of those. If Mom wanted to marry him, she could. Clearly that's not what she's looking for," Rory said, just barely loud enough for Tristan to catch.
"Fathers are overrated," he said with assurance. "Having them around all the time really isn't all it's cracked up to be."
She turned to him and smiled. "Maybe the grass is always greener."
He nodded, his eyes intensely locked on hers. "It's entirely possible."
She held his gaze for a while, until the desire to kiss him became great enough that she realized if she didn't change the subject, they'd never get out of her driveway. "So, where are we going tonight?"
"You think I'd lie to your mother?" he asked as he started the engine.
"I just don't know of a drive-in in Hartford. The last one near here was in Litchfield, and it closed two summers ago."
He shook his head, looking quite pleased with himself at pulling out a surprise. "Then I guess you don't know everything, do you?"
"I know that you don't have to worry about my mother," she assured him.
"Her bark is worse than her bite?" he guessed.
"Oh, no. She doesn't deal in idle threats. She'll mess you up if the situation warrants it. And she fights dirty."
He eyed her warily. "That's… more than a little terrifying."
She smiled. "But my point is, she knows I like you, so she'll be nice."
"That was nice?" he asked in astonishment. "That was intense, and it came out of nowhere. She's been nice all week. Tonight, she was scary."
"She's a little protective," Rory defended her mother's well-meaning show of psychosis.
"Hah," he barked. "A little. Have you ever seen Misery? You know, the movie where Kathy Bates plays a fan that's a little crazy?"
"Are you planning on incurring my mother's wrath?" Rory asked bluntly.
He was taken off-guard by the question. "No."
Rory smiled. "Then you have nothing to worry about, do you?"
"Except my nightmares," he acquiesced.
"I never pegged you for being afraid of anyone's mom."
"Your mom isn't like other moms. Which shouldn't be surprising, really, I guess," he relented.
Rory stiffened slightly and brushed a piece of lint off her shirt. "Because she had me when she was so young?"
He shook his head and put his hand over hers. "No. Because you're not like any other girl I've ever met."
She couldn't help but smile. It might have sounded like a stock line, given different situations or coming out of anyone else's mouth. But with the heat of his hand encasing hers, and the way his thumb stroked the skin on her palm, it made her utterly happy to hear.
"So, a drive-in, huh?"
He gave a curt nod. "Yep."
Her fingers interlaced with his, and she noticed the way they fit together well despite the difference in size. "Is there a snack bar?"
"I've got it covered," he answered vaguely.
"Are we going to a real drive-in?" she asked.
"If you don't want to take over your family business, you'd make a fine politician," she teased.
"We'll be seeing a movie on a very large, outdoor screen from the comfort of my car. Does that satisfy your curiosity?"
She was quiet for a beat. "Which movie?"
He turned to her as they waited at a stoplight on the outskirts of Hartford. "Does it matter?"
It was almost always simple questions from him that shifted something inside her. There were things she had no answers for, for the sheer fact that she'd never thought she'd need them. He was causing her to consider all kinds of possibilities.
It took her a while to recover enough to give her answer once it materialized in her mind. "I guess not," she said, her breath rushing out of her with the words.
It was so much more than she'd expected. The effort it required, if he set it all up himself, was impressive if solely for the fact that he'd done it for her and for no other reason. She knew there was no shortage of big-screen televisions he could have offered in the house that shared the same grounds that would have allowed them a good view of any film. The experience wouldn't have been the same, and that—she realized—was the difference with him. He didn't settle for less.
"How big is this property?" she asked as he put the windows down.
"Big. And old. The barn is a relic from when it was actually part of a bigger tract of land that included farmland. Now it's mainly storage. It's actually full of antique cars at the moment."
Rory studied the huge white sheet that hung from the roof before turning to him. "So, you mentioned snacks?"
"I have a few things to set up. Stay there," he instructed as he popped his trunk and got out to start rearranging the contents. She heard the sound of something being placed on the roof of the car. He appeared at her open window and handed her a remote and a large box of theater candy.
"What are you going to eat?" she asked, shaking the contents of the box.
"I'm not finished yet," he said with a smirk as he went back around to the trunk. There was more rustling, and then he shut the trunk and returned back to his side of the car, arms loaded with drinks and more snacks. "I wasn't sure what you liked best, so," he said by way of explaining the selection.
"This is great. You know, you didn't have to go through all this effort. I'm surprisingly easy to impress," she admitted appreciatively.
Her words seemed to disappoint him. "I like to leave a lasting impression."
"You succeed," she said, selecting a package of Red Vines and tearing it open to extract a long, twisted piece of candy. "Want one?"
He took the offering, as well as the remote, and started the projector. Light illuminated the sheet, and she leaned in sideways toward him.
"What's the movie?"
"You'll find out in five seconds," he said with masked amusement.
She barely waited a millisecond. "Is it a scary movie?"
He turned to her with an impish grin. "Do you like scary movies?"
"I find it hard to engross myself in any form of entertainment that portrays women being dumb enough to go into a darkened basement armed with only a faulty flashlight during a power outage with a known sociopath on the loose in their area," Rory spouted.
"You enjoy foreign films, don't you?" he asked in pained way.
She swatted him with a Red Vine. "Shut up. Oh, I actually like this one!" she said, full of enthusiasm as the opening credits rolled on Clueless.
"She said with far too much surprise," he added. "Every girl likes this movie."
She turned to face him. "I wasn't doubting your taste," she backpedaled.
"It would seem a waste of time," he said, waiting for more of a show of support.
She frowned at him playfully. "It's just I didn't expect you to choose something that would keep my attention."
His enjoyment of the line of explanation grew. "And why is that? You think I wanted to bore you so we could end the evening early?"
A rush hit her, of just how indelicate her supposition had been. The moment she heard him say their destination was a drive-in, she had imagined his suggesting they move to the backseat for more comfort and a waste of film leading to intimate conversation and, eventually, a lack of need for words at all. Maybe she'd watched too many movies, but it was the allure of the drive-in; at least it was the allure of a drive-in with him. It was entirely possible that her thoughts of him were leaning far too often toward what might transpire between them when left alone without any structure or purpose. Her choice of activity with him would, at some point, include a shift of her personal boundaries.
"I didn't say that."
"What are you saying?"
"I just think the front seat might be a little cramped after an hour and a half," she said, watching his reaction.
He didn't bother holding back a knowing smile. "Well, I want you to be comfortable."
She leaned in closer, over the one drawback to the front seat—the dividing console. "You didn't really think I'd be bored."
His eyes trailed lazily from her eyes to her lips. "I didn't think you'd suggest sitting back there. I thought it was best to have something that you might actually watch."
"So what was all that before, about how it didn't matter what movie you chose?" she asked softly, so close to him that she could practically feel the first brush of his lips against hers.
"Bravado, mostly," he said, making her smile as he initiated the kiss. The movie began out the windshield, but they were far too invested in happenings inside the car. There were no pretenses of engaging in their surroundings, outside of the two of them. It was by no means a frenzied pace they set. The night wasn't endless, but time stood still with each kiss and heated touch.
She was enjoying herself, to the point that she needed to catch her breath. His fingers were wound in her hair, but he seemed equally in need as their foreheads rested together. "Having second thoughts about the backseat?" he asked.
She considered the destination. "Not for the reasons you think," she confessed.
"It's okay to not want to do certain things," he assured her.
"I want to be clear," she began, searching his eyes. "It's not that it's our first date, or that I think I'm not ready, or even just that I haven't ever," she said, feeling embarrassment that she'd never associated with the simple fact about herself.
"But all those things are true," he said in earnest.
"This is already going to be hard for me, when you leave in a few weeks. If we keep dating and I keep feeling all these things when I'm with you, and putting myself in these positions," she said with a heavy sigh as her eyes fluttered closed.
"Positions like in my backseat?" he asked knowingly.
She opened her eyes. "I don't want to have to think about the end, when it's just beginning. But I am. I want to be honest with you about that. I'm trying to just be in the moment and enjoy kissing you. Because I do. I think anyone would," she admitted freely.
"I haven't been thinking about the end at all. I literally can't focus on the fact that I'm leaving the country when school lets out. I mean, I'm doing all the things I have to do in preparation, and I'm studying for finals like I do at the end of every term, but it's like I'm on autopilot when I do any of that because all I can think about is when I get to see you next. And I don't care if it's on your mother's couch or at your grandparents' pool house, or in the backseat of my car. It's just all I can think about."
She let out a sobbing laugh. She kissed him then, harder and quicker than their typical collision. She pulled away just as abruptly and shook her head. "That's horribly short-sighted of you."
"I prefer single-minded," he said as he pulled her back in toward him.
"And that's enough for you? We get a few weeks and then it's over," she said bluntly, forcing him to face all her concerns.
His eyes closed as he continued to hold her in against him. "No. It's not okay."
"Maybe we shouldn't," she said quietly, hating to even speak the words.
"I'm even more not okay with that," he said instantly, dismissing the notion.
Frustration swelled in her. "Then there's no solution," she groaned.
"There's only one thing I can think of that helps," he said.
She was hopeful at his words. "What's that?"
"This," he said, leaning in once again to kiss her. The pressure of his mouth was slow and sweet, a faint tang of Red Vines shared between them. The swirl of pleasure that she felt from being drawn further into the kiss made her reach out for him. If his answer was being in the moment, to the exclusion of all else, who was she to complain?
"Wait here," he whispered as he pulled away. She opened her eyes and nodded wordlessly, taking the opportunity as he exited the car and returned to the trunk to lean back properly against her seat and try to settle the wild beat of her heart. She pressed her hands, one on top of the other, over her chest as she stared blankly at the on-going film. They were going to need interruptions, and constant ones, if she hoped to keep any distance between them at all. When her car door cracked open, she jumped and looked instantly to Tristan, who was holding a blanket and offering an outreached hand.
"It's going to be too hot in the car, even with the windows down," he said as a simple observation, but it warmed her skin even more as she stepped out into the grass and watched him spread the blanket out over the hood of his car.
"You're just full of contingency plans, aren't you?" she asked as he climbed onto his car and patted the spot beside him.
"I was a Boy Scout," he offered insight into his past.
She settled down next to him and laid back against the windshield to mimic him. "You were?"
He raised an eyebrow. "I'm not sure I like your tone. I was a good Boy Scout."
"I'm sure you earned loads of badges," she said agreeably.
"What about you, weren't you ever in any sort of service organization?" he asked.
She considered the question. "I volunteer for the Horn-A-Plenty every fall. And we prepare baskets for the Bid-A-Basket Auction every year. Oh, and I worked the Dunk Tank at the Spring Fling this year. Someone nominated me for the Kissing Booth, but my name mysteriously vanished from the drawing pool before the decision could be made," she explained.
"Not into kissing the masses?"
She shook her head. "I'm fairly selective," she admitted.
"Rory," he began seriously, but she rolled up on her side and put her hand on his chest. The move quieted him, but his eyes still showed signs of a coming admission.
"You don't have to qualify your past to me. I'm not one of those girls that can't handle the fact that you had a life before we started dating."
"Yeah, but," he tried to get a word in edgewise, but she wasn't interested in allowing him to get very far.
"Living in the moment, remember?" she cut him off.
He sighed in a relenting fashion. "Okay. If you're sure," he agreed hesitantly.
"I'm sure," she said, quiet but firm, before stretching her body along the lines of his. His head craned up to meet her in a kiss, relying on their tried-and-true method to lose themselves and quiet their troubled minds. His arm snaked around her, pulling her closer. They didn't have time to waste with false worry or petty concerns. And if after it was over all her memories were filled with the feel of his lips on hers and the pleasure of being pressed between him and the hood of his car, then maybe the means would justify the end.