Author's Note: I don't own Gilmore Girls or any of the characters featured in it.
Chapter Two: Memory Lane
"Mary…" she said. "You…"
"Well, that's not my name, either. And I'm a little insulted that you-"
"Tristan," she said, a smile spreading across her lips. "God, you know what...at first I thought it was you. But your hair, and your...you...I started second guessing myself thinking you were from college…Stand up, give me a hug."
She was already out of her seat, pulling at the sleeve of his jacket. He obliged. He was tall. Taller than she remembered. And his hair was tamed by product. He had a beard, albeit a neatly trimmed one. It was just enough scruff to make him look a smidge more sophisticated than his twenty-five years. She couldn't help but notice how strong he felt under his suit jacket. Nope. There was no missing that.
"I'm offended that you think I look like a Yale man."
Rory returned to her seat, taking care to spread out the deep green fabric of her floor-length dress so it wouldn't wrinkle.
"I guess the scruff should have been a give away. I'm not sure that Yale men can even grow beards."
"Harsh," he replied, running a hand over his beard.
"Just an observation."
"So bimbos drink Vodka Sodas and Yale men have faces like a baby's ass. Duly noted."
There was a pause here, which Rory filled by taking a sip of her drink. What was there to say to this guy? She had never had much to say to him even back when they were classmates. Their conversations consisted mostly of her demanding that he moved his makeout session away from her locker.
"You look like you are taking a stroll down memory lane," he said, sipping his own drink. It was nearly empty and the ice cubes clinked together pleasantly as he set his glass back down on the bar.
"Oh, you know. Just thinking about how you were the cause of an awful lot of back pain."
Tristan's brow wrinkled. "Back pain?"
"I had to carry all my text books in my backpack since you used your locker as your personal hook-up spot."
Tristan chuckled. "I plead the fifth."
"Mm, it's true though."
"I hardly feel bad for you. If I remember correctly, you always had at least three recreational reading books in your backpack on top of those textbooks."
"It's a miracle I don't have scoliosis. I could have sued."
"And put the money towards one of those rolly backpacks?"
"Hey, I was cooler than that."
"Another Old Fashioned?" the bartender interjected. Tristan glanced at Rory's glass. It was half full.
"Better make that two."
"Tristan, I don't-"
Tristan finished his own drink in one fluid movement. He put down his glass and gave Rory an odd look. "You want it."
Rory felt a shiver. Well, maybe it was less a shiver and more a pull deep inside her. She knew that feeling. But she had never known that feeling with Tristan.
"Thank you," she said simply as Pete passed her the glass. The bourbon was cool. She pushed away thoughts about the tweet she had yet to post. A few more sips wouldn't bring down her already sinking career.
"It was all for you, you know."
Rory looked up at Tristan. He was looking at her intensely. No smirk, no smoulder. Was it a simple statement, or a confession?
Her voice was so soft it was almost Tristan's undoing. He hadn't meant for the conversation to turn this way. He was simply intending to joke about his caddish ways. But, God she was beautiful. He had never met anyone else who pierced him with just a look. He took in the way the dim lights of the bar reflected in her eyes. He thought of the way she had blushed a few minutes before. He wanted to make her blush again. But the air was heavy between them, and Tristan needed a breather before he did something regrettable.
"Oh you know, the girls in front of your locker. I did it all to get your attention."
It was playful. They were back on waters that he could navigate. "Every one of them."
"You are telling me that you made out with three quarters of the female student body just so that I would notice you?"
"Something like that."
"Even with Beth Walker."
"Even with her."
"Even with Sarah Stone?"
"Sarah Stoneham. Even with."
"Even when you had your hand up Summer's skirt?"
Tristan paused, a smile tugging at his lips. He had forgotten about that one. That had been a pretty enjoyable passing period.
Rory smacked his arm lightly. "You foul boy. "
"For calling you foul?"
"For reminding me of some afternoons which I should never have forgotten in the first place."
"It could have been you, you know."
Rory took a sip of her drink. "We tried that, remember?" she asked, twirling the little cocktail straw in her beverage.
"I do remember. You cried."
"You had to ask me if you bit my lip."
The image of Rory in his arms, her lower lip between his teeth flashed through his mind. He shook his head to clear it.
She laughed lightly. "I know, awkward teenage kisses."
Tristan didn't correct her. It was his turn to take a sip of his drink as a stall tactic.
"So you're hiding in here from…"
"Remember that tweet I was working on?"
"Oh right. You're a social media correspondent."
"If that's the polite way of saying a basically unemployed journalism major, then yes."
"It's not your fault your field is dying faster than the polar bears."
"I wake up every day and do the same thing 16 year old girls all over the planet are doing."
"So you tweet about Zac Efron?"
"Mostly Justin Bieber."
"Let me read one."
"I guess I do need help. I've been staring at it for hours."
"Hardly breaking news now."
She passed the phone to him and he read: Stock market plummets for fifth consecutive day as panic increases on Wall Street. Financiers and investors alike are demanding solutions to their growing monetary woes.
"I wouldn't click on that," he said, handing the phone back to Rory.
"It's boring. I don't go on Twitter to read Wall Street Journal headlines. I read the Wall Street Journal for that."
"So why do you go on Twitter?"
"I don't know, to look for wit or read mindless blurbs."
Rory thought about that for a moment. "So you are saying stop trying to be something I'm not?" It wasn't defensive.
"No," he said. "I'm saying, stop trying to make Twitter into something it's not. You have wit. Turn it into your weapon. I guarantee you, a one-liner of yours will drive more attention to the article than any intelligent sounding headline."
Rory picked up her phone and deleted the characters in the box. She typed something in and passed the phone back to Tristan.
Wall Street crashing harder than Lindsay Lohan.
Tristan clicked a button and posted it.
Lorelai watched Rory enter the ballroom, a blonde man by her side. She had been watching the door for the past half hour since she had sat back down at her table. For the past ten minutes she had been wondering what was taking Rory so long. Now she understood, loud and clear.
"Luke," Lorelai hissed, keeping her voice low so her mother didn't hear.
"What?" he asked idly.
"Who is that guy Rory is with?"
Luke squinted across the room. "Ah, Christ."
"That'd better not be Logan."
"Are you wearing your contacts?"
"Luke, Dr. Borgman told you that you need to break them in."
"And I told Dr. Borgman to go to hell. I don't need them."
"Well you do if you are trying to prevent your wife from going into premature labor over here. Of course that isn't Logan."
Luke muttered something, but Lorelai wasn't really listening. The music was playing and she couldn't make out what Rory was saying to the boy, even though they weren't far away. After a moment of talk, he took her hand and led her on to the dance floor. Lorelai sat back into her chair. There was something so warm about the moment. Her oldest daughter was dancing with a handsome boy, and looking quite content with the situation. Her new baby was kicking inside of her. Her handsome husband was sitting by her side, one hand draped around the back of her chair. The room was warm and the clinking china was inviting. The evening was so-
"Ah!" Lorelai yelped.
"What is it, are you ok?" Luke asked, scanning her pregnant belly.
"What's wrong? The baby?"
"I was starting to sound like my mother in my head."
"Jesus Christ," Luke swore.
"You should have heard it. One minute I was thinking about how I would murder the cater waiter if he didn't show up with another piece of cake, and the next I was basking in the glow of the evening…"
The music was slow and Tristan felt good in her arms. He smelled good too. She was glad she had worn the green dress. She knew they looked good together. She knew people were watching. And for once she didn't mind.
"Let's get dinner tomorrow night. Before you go back to Boston."
Rory smiled, thinking of all the times she had turned him down in the past. "I would like that."