A/N: This plot has been stewing for awhile…and then I got bored at work. So beyond that, I take no responsibility. This is a STAND ALONE and will not be continued.
He couldn't even remember why he bothered.
Every sober breath was painful.
There was no shelter from the memories that slashed their way through his mind, lacerating his soul until Tristan almost screamed for the escape of the bottle and freedom to be numb.
A day at a time was all very well, but on Day Two, when at the best of times, he merely felt he was going to die, he was liable to tell A.A. to fuck off.
The phone rang and he stared it like a foreign object. After rehab, most of the things in his brand new apartment seemed too up to date to be real.
It was probably some fucking Yale alum, wanting him to donate. As though just paying tuition wasn't enough.
Or it could be a telemarketer.
Maybe if he told them about his life, they would be depressed enough to hang up on him.
It was the most entertaining thought he'd had in months.
"Hello?" he picked up the phone.
"You done wallowing yet?"
"Always straight to the point, that's what I love about you, Paris," he smirked.
"You need to snap out of it. Giving up alcohol is just the first step."
"Really. I hadn't heard that. Why don't we go out? I could buy you a drink and you can tell me more."
"Shut up, DuGrey. I'm serious."
Tristan chuckled, "Did I not sound serious? I assure you, I am."
"All the sadder. You can't just give up on your whole fucking LIFE like this, Tristan!"
"It didn't particularly feel like a choice at the time, Paris," he sank into his chair, all his fight leaving him as memories and pain flooded his mind.
"It is now."
"I've already lost everything that ever mattered to me, Paris."
"Tristan, I won't even pretend that I could understand what you went through, but don't be a fucking moron and give up on the only person that does."
"And how is Ms. Gilmore?" he'd meant to sound mocking, but it came out breathless and eager.
"Mrs. DuGrey, you mean?"
"Please don't call her that," he whispered. He couldn't handle it. It reminded of him of when everything was perfect. The way it could never be again.
"It's her name."
"Until the div-" he swallowed. He couldn't say the word. Even now. Rory was divorcing him. And it was his fault. "For now," he finally whispered.
They'd made another vow at their wedding: to never say the D word. Even as a joke.
And neither of them had spoken the word.
He should have thought to be more specific.
"You can't even say it. Tristan, you can't let this happen! You love her!"
"Since I was sixteen years old. Yes, I'm aware."
"I thought you were more women's lib than this, Paris, shouldn't you be telling her she can do better?"
"Already did. But you're my friend too."
"I can't just talk my way out of this, Paris. It isn't simple or easy. Conversation can't fix our problems."
"It would be a good start. When was the last time you talked?"
"I think she must have said something when she walked in on me fucking that bitch from the party, but I was too wasted to remember."
But he remembered her face. Perfectly imprinted in his memory. Her eyes wide, shocked. It was like he hit her, but harder than he could have.
And that tiny part of his heart that was okay, that still believed in something quietly wilted into nothing.
It was over.
He wanted to die. Thought of it often, what it would be like to just end it.
But there had been enough death already.
It was when the pain didn't end with mind altering substances that he went to Rehab.
What was the fuckin' point, after all?
"Then apologizing might be a good first step, dick."
"I fucked another woman, Paris. This isn't like buying the wrong kind of diapers or leaving my socks in the bathroom. Don't you think I would do something to make this okay if I could?"
"Fine, DuGrey, you ruined your own life, you're sorry, but you can't do anything about it except sit around and whine."
"She deserves better, Paris. God, I wanted to give her so much more than this."
"Of course she deserves better than a husband that cheats on her. Why don't we just pick out someone new for her, then? Dean is already married, so that's a no go. But Jess is free, I think they started talking again…"
"Jess?" Tristan snapped, "He left her years ago!"
"Well, they're going out tonight, so apparently she's over it…"
"WHAT?" he told himself to breathe. It was her life. She could do whatever she pleased. It wasn't his business anymore, he gave up his rights to her.
"Eating at you, isn't it?"
"Fuck you, Paris," he snarled, "Where are they going?"
"Thought she deserved better."
"Should of thought of that before she married me," he mumbled.
"So he's out of rehab?"
Her mother didn't even need to say who 'he' was. Rory just sighed.
"You hear from him?"
Rory pulled on her skirt, not bothering to check her appearance. "Nope."
"That good or bad?"
"I don't want to talk about this, Mom. There's nothing between Tristan and me anymore."
This is forever, Mary. You can't get rid of me now. He'd grinned as he slipped the engagement ring on her finger. They were so happy.
"When is the divorce final?"
The ugly word she couldn't bring herself to even voice laughed at her harshly.
"I don't remember," Rory muttered, her eyes darting to the desk where the papers sat, unfinished.
His name peaked out, mocking her.
Every night, she tried to sign below his name.
He was the one that cheated, why couldn't she just let him go?
It was an evening ritual. She would sit down and stare pick up the pen. There were a million dots on the page, but she had yet to sign.
His face would always dance in front of her. The look in his eyes when their world shattered and they cried in each others arms.
The pain when they started to pull away, gradually stepping further apart.
And then that night. That horrible night that she walked in on him, on the edge already because of his stupid party. His idiot friends and crack whores lining hallways of their home.
But that wasn't enough.
He wasn't alone.
She just stared for a second, unable to believe what her eyes told her. Tristan. Her Tristan. The man that promised to be faithful to her forever was fucking some skank in their home.
Not, thank God, their bed.
She'd stumbled against the door with the weight of his betrayal.
It attracted their notice, but for a few seconds, it was like he didn't even recognize her.
And then his eyes.
God, his eyes when he really saw her, saw everything.
Every day, they looked at her.
And every day, she dropped the pen.
Jess picked her up at their usual time. He cheered her up with his cynicism somehow, though how it was possible was lost on her.
Everyone assumed they were dating and she didn't bother to correct them.
She didn't want to be that woman, pining away after the cheating husband.
Self-respect she instructed herself harshly. It was over.
"How you holding up, Ror?"
"You have to stop doing this. Talk to him, if it would make a difference."
"What, like, 'Hey, Tristan, Rory here. Say, about this adultery thing…'?"
Jess rolled his eyes, "You could try meeting him somewhere. Talking."
"Very clever of you, Jess. Talking would undo the last year. Silly me."
"What do you want us to do, get back together? Take back my drug addict cheating husband?"
Jess cracked a smile, "Could be worse. At least he never beat you."
"Don't make ME beat YOU," she mumbled.
A funny look passed over Jess's face. "What would you do if he just showed up randomly? Like right now? Just walked up to the table to talk to you?"
Rory snorted, "When a guy sends you di-…when a guy doesn't want to stay married to you, he probably won't follow you to dinner."
Something in Jess's eyes made a shiver go up her spine.
She was so fucking beautiful he wanted to cry.
"Tristan," she whispered.
His eyes slid shut as he listened to his name on her tongue.
"Well…" Jess cleared his throat, "I'll just be taking off…"
"What?" Rory's eyes widened, "Jess!"
"Sorry, I didn't mean to interrupt," Tristan lied politely.
Jess snorted, "Sure. Later, Princess," he winked at Rory on his way out the door.
Mary looked cornered and vulnerable. It was both heartbreaking and encouraging. Surely part of her wanted to give into him…?
Or was it just fear he'd hurt her more?
"So…" he smiled, "I missed you."
Rory looked away, "Don't do this, Tristan." She looked away, eyes shining in the dim light.
"Do what?" he knelt in front of her, taking her hand.
"I…" she searched his eyes, "I don't know."
When she tried to pull away, he felt it… Tentative hope flared inside him for the first time in a year as he looked down at her hand and the diamond on her ring finger sparkled back at him.
"You didn't take it off."
Tears started slipping down her cheeks and she wiped them away furiously with her free hand.
"What do you want, Tristan?"
You. Us. Our marriage. "Whatever makes you happy, Mary. That's what I want," he told her, his heart hammering nervously at the possible repercussions.
Did he really? If it meant their divorce, could he live without her if it made her happy?
"I don't think you can make me happy anymore, Tristan," she whispered.
His heart caved in on him.
"Do you think of her?" she asked.
Tristan swallowed, "It's all I do."
"She was beautiful, wasn't she?" Rory smiled tremulously.
"Like you," he nodded.
"Everything was just so perfect and then…" Rory's lip trembled and her body started shaking.
"Hey," Tristan lifted her into his arms and took her seat, rocking her as he had their daughter.
"I'm sorry," she whispered over and over.
"No, Mary…it wasn't your fault," he kissed her forehead and her cheek.
Rory sniffed and hiccoughed. Even tousled and mourning, she was the most gorgeous creature he had ever seen.
She couldn't remember feeling so terrible and wonderful in her life.
They left the restaurant. Eating was the last thing she wanted to do so he took her home.
Nothing was right. It hadn't been since they lost the youngest Lorelai to grace the family with her chortling presence.
Sobs threatened to overwhelm her once more and Tristan pulled her tight into his body.
How had she thought she could move on without him?
Rory pulled away from him slowly and rubbed the tears from his cheeks.
"Dammit, Tristan," she sighed, "Why can't I stop loving you?"
He laughed nervously. "I…have no idea."
It had to be more difficult than this. After everything he'd done…
"So…" Tristan swallowed, "What does that mean?"
"I don't know," Rory shrugged helplessly.
"Let's just start over. Please? I know this whole thing was my fault, but I love you so fucking much, Mary."
"We need help," she shook her head, "Like, the professional type."
"So we'll get it."
"Tristan, it's not that easy!"
Of course it wasn't. His stupid fucking tendency to hope. Why did he torture himself?
"I'll guess I'll be going, then," he muttered.
Rory looked about to object, but shook her head, "Fine. Could you drop this in the garbage on the way out?"
He didn't even notice what she put in his hand as he walked away from her.
The night wind bit into him but he didn't notice, didn't care.
Papers flew from his hand and he muttered under his breath, making a quick grab before it blew away.
Marital Unfaithfulness jumped out of the page at him in his own writing.
His heart expanded and shuddered rapidly as he realized what he was holding.
Could you drop this in the garbage on the way out?
Tristan's signature was bold, strong. Ironic. He'd almost fainted every time his pen hit the paper.
But he'd wanted her to be free of him.
He turned around sharply.
There was a loud banging on her door and Rory opened it cautiously, studying her fingernails.
Tristan's hand lifted her chin to meet her gaze.
"You never signed it."
Rory shrugged, "So?"
He smiled. "Can I borrow your phone, Mrs. DuGrey? I have to thank someone."