EPILOGUE

It's a week before Christmas and Rory was buying the last of her final stocking stuffers. She stayed the night before at Tristin's, helping him pack the last of his stuff before heading back to Hartford. Rory had to chuckle. It's been a year since she first visited Tristin's bachelor's pad. Now, she's sad that the place that made it all happen would have to be given up by the end of spring when Tristin graduates.

"I'm going to stand in line," Tristin told Rory. "Are you going to miss me?"

"Much!" Rory said enthusiastically. "Did I ever say that you're the best boyfriend ever?"

"No but I'd love to hear it," Tristin responded as he wrapped his arms around her.

Rory physically showed how much she appreciated Tristin's sacrifice and love for her by slipping her hands under his coat and touch him in places she knows would drive him crazy.

"Watch it or I won't stand in line to get the autograph for your best friend," he growled.

"I love you," she playfully said before giving his behind a light squeeze and tap.

It was by sheer luck that Nick Hornby was autographing his latest novel at the Barnes and Noble they visited. Rory wanted to get an autographed copy of Hi Fidelity to give to Lane for Christmas. Rory knew she would be psyched to have a book only a true audiophile could comprehend.

She started rummaging through some CDs when a familiar voice chimed behind her.

"Rory, is that you?" the feminine voice asked.

Rory spun around and saw a pretty blonde materialize in front of her. It was Sydney and she was radiant. She was surprised to see the blonde chop her beautiful hair for a shorter, more chic up do.

"Sydney, how are you doing?' Rory asked, albeit awkward.

"Great, actually," she said, letting out a nervous chuckle.

Both remained silent and had their eyes wander around.

"Wow, this is awkward," Sydney commented.

"Yes, this is," Rory chuckled. "So, what are you doing here in New York?"

"Actually hanging out with my new man," she blushed.

"New man?" Rory's ears perked up.

"I guess you didn't hear, huh?" Sydney said. "Logan and I aren't a couple anymore."

"You're not? How come I didn't hear about it?" Rory wrinkled her brow.

"Hmm, unless you still hang out with the LDB, I don't think you would've heard about it," Sydney said absentmindedly. "Have you seen him around?"

Rory saw him a few times on campus, usually running away from her. The instances he showed up at the office, he had always made an excuse to dodge her.

"Some, but he and I are too busy to really talk," Rory fibbed.

"Hey, you don't have to make excuses. Everything became so awkward after the engagement party," Sydney said.

"I really am so sorry about that. If I only knew," Rory apologized.

"Hey, Logan is a great guy who's really confused," Sydney said.

"You still love him, don't you," Rory asked sympathetically.

Sydney hummed into submission. "I still do."

"So what happened?" Rory asked.

"We talked about you," Sydney said truthfully.

"And I wish I can take it all back," Rory pointed out.

Sydney chuckled. "It's not just you. Logan and I had become strangers. We really didn't see eye to eye anymore. I mean I'd like to think that someday, we might be together but now isn't the time. Logan and I need to find ourselves."

"So where is Logan going to be finding himself?' Rory inquired.

"Last I heard, he's leaving for Germany and will be working with the people who run 'Hello' magazine when he graduates in spring. His dad thinks it will be good training," Sydney volunteered the information.

"Ah," Rory said. "And you?"

"I am thinking of doing an internship at the MTV building," Sydney said. "I don't think they will be able to resist me."

"You know you are going to be subjected to the likes of Andy Dick," Rory warned.

"Funny, that's what my boyfriend said to me," Sydney commented. "You do have to meet him. You probably could've been twins in an alternate universe."

"He sounds like a smart man. At least you can't say that you've been warned," Rory laughed. "I guess you're set. The world is in the palm of your hands."

"Hey, I'll work as a waitress at Tribeca if it helps me stay close to my baby," Sydney admitted.

"Look at you, aren't you a little protective of him," Rory said..

"Yeah. We've been together for two months and I am on cloud nine," Sydney added on. "Honestly, he's a lot like you. He reads a ton of books, listens to all these new bands. Ooh, he does a music review on the weekly paper. He's no Ivy League guy but he's putting himself through community college," she spoke in rapid-fire succession to talk up her new squeeze. "You know, he's around somewhere."

"He sounds like a blast. Maybe we can double date some time," Rory said with an enthusiasm she can't remember where it came from. "If I don't see him you could send my regards…" Rory's voice trailed when a male voice chimed in.

"Hey, I got what I needed…" his voice also trailed.

"Honey, I want you to meet a friend of mine. Rory, this is my boyfriend, Jess Mariano," Sydney introduced a man Rory had been familiar with for a long time.

"Hi," Jess mumbled.

"Hi," Rory said back.

"Jess is not much of a talker but he's cool. He's my knight in shining armor," Sydney said wrapping her arms around Jess' arm. "He escorted me home after I dated Jose Cuervo and got hit on by some annoying guys."

"Hmm, you should've stuck with DiSorrono instead," Rory quipped, tongue-tied with Sydney's revelation. "Yeah. Men like… Jess are hard to find," Rory said without taking her eyes off of Jess.

"Uh, I'll wait for you outside," Jess said. "Nice meeting you, Rory."

"Yes. Nice meeting you, too, Jess," Rory said.

Rory watched Jess back away from them. Rory had to drop her stare and refocus on Sydney.

"You look happy," Rory pointed out.

"I am happy," Sydney said. "So, I hope you we can still be friends?"

"That would be nice," Rory said. "Well, Jess is waiting for you outside."

Sydney looked back and saw Jess casually glancing in. "I guess he is. Call me?"

"I will. Merry Christmas," Rory said giving the blonde a hug. "Good luck to you and Jess."

"Jess is great. I hope he's better than Logan," Sydney told her.

'He is and can be,' Rory said quietly to herself.

"Merry Christmas!" Sydney said as she left the crowded bookstore.

Rory followed Sydney out of the bookstore with her eyes. She thought it was coincidence that she and Sydney dated the same guy. Jess turning out to be Sydney's new boyfriend is blatant irony.

"Hey, was I dreaming or was that who I thought it was?" Tristin asked.

"Uh, yes, it was her," Rory mumbled.

"How's she doing?" Tristin asked.

"She broke up with Logan," Rory gave him an update.

"She did?" Tristin was incredulous. ""Wow. Sorry to hear that."

"Well she's happy with Jess," Rory slipped.

"Jess? Wow, she works fast. I just hope he's a notch or two better than his predecessor," Tristin said massaging Rory's shoulder. "So, are you ready to go?'

"Did you get the book?"

"Signed, sealed and delivered," Tristin said.

"You know, I love you," Rory said, wrapping her arms around his neck.

"I love you, too. What was that all about?" Tristin asked.

"Just wanted to let you know that I'm glad I found you," Rory said. "A year ago, I was still wondering whether or not we're supposed to be friends or something."

"I wanted it to be "the something"," Tristin admitted. "Really, has it been a year?"

"Don't play. You know it's going to be our anniversary and I think you have to tell me if you've decided to pick up a girlfriend on the side," Rory whimpered.

Tristin took her in his arms. "Do you love me?" she asked.

"Love is not the question. It's trust," Rory said.

"Well you know about Debbie," Tristin said with a glint in his eye.

Rory punched him on the arm. "Yeah, tell her to pick up after herself. She's such a pig," she teased him about the imaginary Debbie.

"But I personally love you, Rory," Tristin said as he gave her a big squeeze. Rory can't believe that he still gives her the nice fuzzy feeling despite the honeymoon phase being over.

"You swear?" Rory asked.

"Swear to God, cross my heart," he responded as he nibbled her ear.

"Are you even Catholic?" she mumbled.

"Only when I'm around you, Mary," Tristin swore as he kissed Rory passionately on the lips.

"So, do you think we have time before driving back?" Rory asked referring to Tristin's offer before he stood in line for the autograph.

"For you, always."

END

A/N: Finally, the end of another story. I thank all those that have stuck by me through this whole ordeal. I know that I promised to have this wrapped up by Thanksgiving weekend but school and work decided to be selfish. Hence, the tardiness. Without your reviews, I would've not finished this fic. Only this writer would be proud to say, "You all rock!"

To those that would like to read the alternate version of this story, please email me. It involves slash, so if you are going to be offended by the subject matter, stick to this version.

Love you all and I hope to hear from all of you again when my next tale goes up!