Title: The Worst Guilt
Chapter 1 The Turning Point
Rating: Pg-13 for now, haven't decided exactly where it will go
Disclaimer: If I actually owned the show, Luke would not have a long lost daughter.
Summary: Tory, not exactly AU, just future fic. And, this IS NOT love triangle between Tristan/Logan/Rory in case you get that hint at the beginning. Well, in a way…….ok, I can't explain it exactly, you have to read it. The plot is based VERY loosely on a book I read, so I can't take all the credit.
Oh, and I'm making the corporate centre of the Huntzberger empire in New York.
I so wasn't going to do another Trory after my last fic (which I WILL post on tonight), but this idea called to me. I hope I'm not misreading it as a good idea.
This fic is based on the quote:
The worst guilt is to accept an unearned guilt. –Ayn Rand
Thought I'd introduce that now, and then it will become apparent later on why I chose this quote, both in respect to Tristan and Rory.
There is usually a defining moment in one's life; a time when they know that nothing will ever be the same again. It can be so tremendous, so utterly clear, that the person knows without a doubt that their world can never go back to the way it was. It can be like getting the wind knocked out of you when it's that staggering. Of course for Tristan DuGrey it didn't happen like that. For him there was no single moment of blinding clarity, but all the same his world changed that day.
The day Rory Gilmore started at Chilton.
Of course he hadn't realized the kick in the solar plexus for what it was the first time he saw her. He disguised his feelings in undeserving taunts, annoying nicknames, and other general irritating gestures. He didn't recognize his feelings for what they were, but if even he had, he probably would have reacted in about the same way. It was just who he was, the stud of Chilton, not some love-sick puppy. But nothing changed the fact that deep down he had fallen in love with Rory Gilmore.
He never admitted it, in fact he never really knew it, but when he left that day for military school in North Carolina he left a part of himself with her. And even the separation didn't turn him into that sappy fool. In truth he thought of her rarely, never more than a fleeting pass through his mind when there was something that reminded him of her, but she was still there underneath everything.
He finished high school in North Carolina, did his undergrad at state school there, trying to save money as his family invested little in him now, essentially disowning him for his many indiscretions, and then enrolled at Yale to do his MBA, determined to make it no matter what it took. And it was there that he ran into an old friend from his younger days, Logan Huntzberger. And, through him, got re-associated with the girl from his past that he had never quite fully forgotten.
He had become reacquainted with her rapier wit, sharpened with age. He had watched as she lost the frailness of her youth, and became a desirable woman. He had been awed once again by her intelligence, her dedication. In short, he fell in love for real this time. And unfortunately, this time he knew it.
It was ironic that after his multitude of girlfriends, his days of hopping from bed to bed, that he would fall hard for the one girl he couldn't have. The one girl he wouldn't let himself have. He had fancied himself in love before, but it didn't really mean anything. It was just him trying to inject something that wasn't there into a relationship that was just one of many.
In the long run, he knew it wouldn't matter. She didn't love him. She had forgiven his past immaturity, even formed a friendship with him, but that was it, because she was in love with somebody else. Logan, his once acquaintance who became his best friend, was apparently the fucking love of her life.
He was the best man at their wedding, but there was no bitterness, no regrets. Logan was the better man; he always had been and always would be. He could remember befriending Logan as a child; he was the golden boy, the charming one, the apple of everyone but his father's eye. And, he loved Rory; Tristan could see it in every moment they spent together. So, he was happy for them, but that that undercurrent was always there, ready to torment him if he let it.
He went to work for Mitchum Huntzberger's company, second only to Logan in the hierarchy. Mitchum had been so grateful to him for getting Logan to see the light and accompany him to business school that he had subsidized his education, and offered Tristan a job straight out of university. One didn't turn down Chief Financial Officer of a major corporation as a first job, or a last one for that matter. He knew he would never be CEO, that was Logan's domain, but he didn't need that. And, when Mitchum had died of a heart attack not a year after they were done school, he was glad he could be there for Logan who, despite being groomed for this since birth, suddenly found himself overwhelmed being at the helm of a multinational corporation.
Rory had a steady job working at the New York Post, satisfied with writing for the financial section for now, even though they all knew she wanted a different beat. But she wasn't Logan, it all wasn't handed to her on a silver platter, and she had to take what she could get.
They were all close friends, there for each other through the good and the bad. And it was easy to be around them, even though at first he thought it might be hard. Because even with their devotion to each other evident every day, and his feelings, he didn't feel like a perpetual third wheel. Because he loved them both, they became his family.
Tristan continued his multitude of relationships, never settling on just one. He maintained his role of master seducer, after all it was one he played to the hilt. He didn't play any of them false except that sometimes when he closed his eyes it wasn't their face he saw, but someone else's entirely, someone he would never have. But he never took it past that, there was never any slip calling out her name in climax, never any hint to anyone else at how he felt.
He had been accused of doing many things in his life, some lies, but many more of them were true. But now, he was in love with his best friend's wife. Logan, the first true friend he had in long time, whose family had helped him through school and given him a job when his own father barely acknowledged his existence. This went beyond his little immature pranks of the past, even the time he had indulged in a little B & E with some friends, this was much worse. It was like a commandment or something: don't lust after your best friend's wife, it must be written down somewhere. So he went out of his way to be the best friend to Logan he could be, as if to compensate.
He knew he couldn't have her, would never have her, and he accepted that fact.
But, as he sat at the table, watching her stare adoringly into Logan's eyes, he realized what he could have. Another drink.
As he motioned to the waiter for another beer, Rory broke her eyes away from Logan and turned to him, while resting her fingers on her husband's shoulder and taking a sip of her own drink. "Mmmm," she smiled as she sipped the fruity drink. Only she could get away with ordering something so pink and girly as a margarita in a bar like this.
It wasn't the first time they had been here, often they stopped off here after work to let loose a little, or went back to Rory and Logan's house when they weren't in the mood for the loud music or the game on the bar television.
"What do you think Tristan?" Rory asked him, going back to the argument she and Logan had been having earlier.
"It's not my anniversary," he reminded her. She and Logan had been arguing about what to do for their second anniversary. Logan wanted to spend a ridiculous amount of money going on a tour of Europe, and Rory just wanted a weekend at their apartment with the phone unplugged and no computer access allowed.
"Trust me, I'm well aware of who I married," her voice was almost like a purr as she pecked Logan on the cheek, or maybe that was just his imagination. As immune to her as he liked to pretend to be, he began to wish desperately for that beer to appear in front of him.
"I'm hardly one to ask," he kept his voice light, "Now, if you want advice on how to have sex in an airplane washroom…." It was something he did often, maintain this role of playboy, often to the point of crudeness. Secure in this role, it often made them avoid any of the more sentimental subjects with him. Logan never once asked his advice on birthday presents for Rory, or talked about their emotional issues.
And Rory laughed, like she always did. As much as she tried to change him, as much as she tried to get him to find the marriage she and Logan had, he knew it was easier for her to see him in the same role she had in high school; God's gift to women. It helped him avoid the blind dates he knew she'd set him up for otherwise. She would never set him up with someone she deemed truly worthy when he was likely just to break their heart.
"We worry about you, you know," she told him archly, leaning back against her husband's chest. And, as always, it was the we that killed him. Not I, not Logan, but we. As in, them, as a single unit, apart from all else. "Your love life," she added, as if clarification were necessary.
But even as he cursed the pronoun, he raised his eyebrow at Logan, "You are worried about my love life?"
His friend shrugged, "I've been informed that I am," he quipped back, causing his wife to elbow him playfully in the chest.
"We," she began with that cursed word again, her tone taking on that morally superior tone that he both loved and hated, "Think that you need to find a proper girlfriend. As nice as all that sex must be….."
"I don't think 'nice' is quite the right word," he told Logan quietly with a smile, earning himself a sharp glare from Rory as she continued, "…you get to have sex with a girlfriend too, you know. Lots of it, if you find the right girl. And, now I know this is a novel concept to you, there might be some emotion involved too."
It hurt a little, every time she belittled his ability to care about anyone, but he knew this was what he projected, what he wanted them to see. Because then neither of them would catch on to his true feelings. "But I just haven't met that 'special someone'," he made his reply in the most falsetto voice he could manage, getting Logan to laugh at the feminine tone and Rory to glare at him in annoyance.
"Listen," she began, but Logan cut her off.
"Give it a rest Rory," he told her firmly, kissing her lips. "Tristan's a grown man, he'll live his life how he sees fit. Keep in mind Ace, if I'd never met you, I'd still be hopping from bed to bed all over the Yale campus. Monogamy isn't for everyone the same way it is for you."
And the kicker was, monogamy was Tristan's thing. Even in high school, with his reputation as a stud, more often than not he found himself in a permanent relationship because he wanted more than the one night stand. Summer had been the perfect example of that, him trying to pretend at something that wasn't there just so there could be a 'girlfriend' in his life.
He was grateful when Rory gave up the 'reform Tristan' idea that she got in her head every so often, and continued on to another subject. "Feel like a movie tonight?" she asked the two of them. "I have no deadline for another couple days, and I haven't been to see anything in such a long time."
"I have to go back to the office," Logan told her regretfully, "I just took a break to come meet you guys. My assistant dumped a lot of stuff on me at the end of today and I have to keep up if I want to have any time free this weekend."
Rory wasn't the type who pouted, but Tristan could tell she was fairly displeased at his news. With taking over the company, more and more Logan was abandoning her in the evenings for work. Tristan worked there too, he knew how much Logan really had to do, but he also knew that Rory hated how her husband was killing himself with his job. "Do you really have to go in tonight?" her words were soft, but they could both hear her displeasure.
"Sorry," Logan told her regretfully, even as he took her hand in his and kissed her palm. Tristan had to look away, feeling like he was intruding in their tender moment. But Logan continued, "You should go with Tristan Rory, and I swear I'll be home by the time you get back."
The ultimate proof Logan had no idea how Tristan felt about his wife.
She shook her head slightly before turning to Tristan, "How 'bout it? Willing to forego your flavour of the week for the company if an old married lady?" And he nodded.
If only she knew.
Like always, he would never turn down an hour in her presence, let alone some time of her alone. Because her presence was all he was going to get; the joking, the camaraderie. There would be no declaration of love, no desperate kisses, no (what he was sure he would be fantastic) sex; in short, no relationship beyond these scraps that he got as her husband's best friend.
And as pathetic as he was, he would take it.
"Why don't we pick you up at the office after the movie's done?" Rory turned back to her husband, knowing he had taken a driver in this morning rather than drive himself. Tristan who lived just a block from the office walked to work. Rory was the only one who had her car tonight.
He nodded his assent as Rory kissed him on the cheek and slid out of the booth where they were sitting across from Tristan. Before sliding out, he looked over at Logan, "Anything you need help with back at the office?" That company, that conglomerate, it was his job too.
Logan gave a sharp bark of bitter laughter, "No, unfortunately it's all stuff that falls on me." As much as Logan was meant for the business world, Tristan knew that every day he resented the role his father had thrown on him, both before his death and after. He took the job seriously, often too seriously, but he hadn't been ready for this much responsibility, this fast.
"Be ready to go when we get there," Rory warned her husband sternly, as Tristan slipped into his jacket. "You need some time off and sleep Logan, this hour break isn't enough. I'll drag you out of there if I have too."
"I'll work fast," Logan promised, squeezing her hand as he turned to go. "I wish I was coming with you guys."
"Me too," Rory told him, giving him one last kiss before she and Tristan turned to go. It shouldn't be so hard for him to watch; after all they were often disgustingly, at least as it seemed to him, affectionate.
They walked the short distance to Rory's car in companionable silence. She had parked close to the bar, expecting to be leaving with her husband from there. As they approached the vehicle she pulled out the keychain and hit the little button to unlock it. A 2005 Mustang, it was a step up from her old car. As much as she didn't need the Huntzberger fortune, and didn't want it, this car was her one indulgence.
As she got into the car, she looked across at the man sliding into the passenger seat across from her. Tristan DuGrey; sometimes it still shocked her that he was in any way part of her life, and such an integral part.
He was Logan's closest friend and confident, sometimes even more so than her. As soon as he had come to Yale, he and Logan had taken up again, and once Logan decided to buckle down about school and went into business school as well, they had become even closer. As much as she knew Logan had fun with Finn and Colin, they weren't exactly suited for the grown up world he found himself actually a part of. They were left behind as mere casual acquaintances, and in Tristan he found someone akin to himself. In terms of real friendship, he was the closest friend Logan had ever had, and over time he became her friend as well.
In many ways he was still the stud he was in high school, but the maliciousness and recklessness that were once a part of him were gone. He may sleep with a different girl every weekend, but that wasn't the essence of his life. He took his job seriously, and he was a loyal friend despite everything else.
Sometimes she wondered how he stayed so close with Logan, their lives so different in so many ways while seeming inherently the same. He had screwed up, and it had essentially cost him his family. Anything he had achieved was through sheer hard work, and help from Logan's father. He had a good job, true, but it must be hard to walk in there day in and day out knowing that he would never be more than that. That he would always be second to Logan, the boy who had the world handed to him on a silver platter and he didn't even want it. Logan, who had fucked up repeatedly, never taken his future seriously, but while never having his father's affection would always have his legacy.
As much as she respected her husband, sometimes she thought that that had to burn just a little.
"Any movie you were specifically wanting to see?" he asked the question as she pulled away from the curb.
She shrugged, "I'm easy. We'll decide when we get there." It was her, there was no pun intended on the first statement, but she saw him grin at it none the less.
"How's work?" he asked the question, knowing she was always too happy to bitch about her editor or some idiot co-worker. Even as she used her maiden name in all things work related, her marriage to the Huntzberger heir wasn't exactly a secret, and it made for a bunch of ribbing at work.
She shrugged, "Just paying my dues." And that's what her current assignment really was about. As much as she had a head for finances, it wasn't her passion. Somehow a report on the Dow Jones wouldn't get her on a plane to the Middle East. But everyone had to start out somewhere. After all, it could have been worse, she could have been stuck working the lifestyle section.
She loved her husband, but wasn't about to go work at one of the many newspaper's controlled by Mitchum's empire. She had made it on her own this far, despite the bastard's meddling, and she had her pride to think about. Her successes weren't going to be because of whom she was married to, but about what she could do.
"Jordan's actually been half-human recently," she told him innocently, gauging his reaction. Jordan Haskins was her editor over at the Times, and probably one of the biggest pricks in the world. He had hit on her repeatedly, given her little more to cover than stock prices when she refused to have sex with him, and leered constantly whenever she entered a room. At least, he had in the past. Tristan had been her sounding board for her complaints about her boss. She knew if she had told Logan he would have crushed the man like a bug, and despite Jordan being a dick she would never get a decent job once word got around.
Of course soon after she had complained to Tristan about him, Jordan had undergone a complete metamorphosis. He was still a dick, there was no doubting that, but she had been given better pieces to cover, and her breasts had gone un-ogled for at least a week. It was tempting to chalk it up to the man finding religion, but she somehow thought the more likely explanation was sitting beside her. An outcome she hadn't expected when she had unloaded her frustrations at him
It was tempting to be angry with him, meddling in her personal affairs, but in truth she was grateful. If it had truly been him, he had managed to do what her filing a sexual harassment suit and Logan destroying the man wouldn't have. It was hard not to be thankful for that as either of the two latter solutions would have compromised her ability to work.
"I find that hard to believe," his drawl was not indicative of any culpability he might have had in the ass's sudden turnaround, but he shot her a smile as if he knew what she was suspecting, and she just shook her head.
"You should come for dinner on Saturday," she moved on to a new topic, "Mom and Luke are coming up for the weekend." Her mother loved Tristan; rather, she had fun with his glib compliments and the fact he was one of the few who could keep up with her rapid banter.
"You cooking?" it was an old joke, despite the fact they were all well aware of the fact that despite Rory refusing to let Logan hire a cook, they lived almost exclusively on take-out as a necessity.
"You'd come anyway," she refused to answer, pretending to be insulted by the lack of respect for her culinary skills.
"True," he acknowledged with a nod, "But I'd like to know if I have to eat dinner before I come." And he laughed as she, even at the mature age of 24, stuck out her tongue in retaliation.
It was three hours later before they returned from the movie. And, since it was downtown New York, they found themselves parking a few blocks from the office.
"Talk to you tomorrow?" Rory asked as she pulled the key out of the ignition. "I'm supposed to do lunch with Logan tomorrow, that's if he can drag himself away from the desk for that long." She just assumed that he would be going up to his apartment, he lived just a block away, located conveniently close to work.
"I'll walk with you," was he replied as he slid out of the car. He knew that she would realize what he was doing. Often she cursed his overprotective nature, but unlike Logan he was well aware of the risks she tended to take, and he refused to relent when he was there. No matter how much she wanted to live like this was Stars Hollow, this was downtown New York and a single young female wandering around by herself late at night was easy prey. She took no steps to protect herself, so he would accompany her just for the sake of safety in numbers.
She made a face, but didn't argue. It was nice to have the company.
As they walked down the street, he couldn't help but notice any time their hands accidentally brushed. She didn't think anything of it, why should she, but it was torture to him. Just like it had been every time that their hands had accidentally reached for popcorn at the same time during the movie, or every time he caught whiff of her perfume.
"So, who was the lucky lady this week?" she turned her attention to his sexual exploits. It was like a running bit with her. As much as she pretended to disapprove, he knew the stories he provided gave her amusement, even if it wasn't as much as it did Logan, and even if they weren't always quite the truth.
"I'm afraid I've lived as chastely as a priest this week," pretending it didn't effect him when she hooked her arm through his.
She snorted, and he hated the derision in the sound. "You? Doubtful."
"It's only Tuesday," he tried to keep his tone light. It wasn't as if they had never had this conversation before, but today it seemed to grate on him more.
"Even if you excluded Sunday," she shot him a look that suggested she doubted there was any reason too, "That still leaves Monday."
"Not this Monday," he tried to smile.
She laughed, and while he usually loved the sound of her laugh, this time he did not, "I'm sure I saw you awake for at least an hour yesterday."
He forced himself to smile and gave the requisite laugh in return. "I plan to make it up this weekend," he hoped his voice sounded as sultry as he planned.
"Don't forget my mother is coming for dinner on Saturday," she admonished, even as she pulled away slightly to begin digging around in her purse for her security pass to enter the Huntzberger building.
"Who did you think I planned to make up for lost time with?" and as he wiggled his eyebrows she laughed again.
"Luke might have something to say about that," she grinned as the approached the doors of the building.
Again, he allowed himself the momentary wish that she could be his. There was none of this easy banter with his other dates, there was none of this overwhelming desire. It was true he was attracted to every woman he ever dated, but it wasn't the same. It paled in comparison. Even if they were bright and intelligent with bodies built for sin, there somehow seemed to be something missing. Something that he found in her. He would fantasize about it more often, if it didn't mean that somehow it would require removing Logan from the picture, something that wouldn't happen; something that shouldn't happen.
There was the lone security guard sitting inside the glass lobby doors of the building, monitoring surveillance videos diligently. But it wasn't that which caught Tristan's eye and caused him to pause momentarily, and he watched even as Rory noticed his distraction and looked to see what he was staring at.
She had already taken the first steps towards the alleyby the time that he started to move after her. Peeking out from the alleyway not far from them was a pair of feet. Still, and unmoving, and not that noticeable to the average passer-by.
He was standing there, utterly uselessly, even as he watched in horror as Rory fell to her knees and cradled Logan's bloody body against her chest.
Ah a new fic, when inspiration is fresh and you're willing to stay up until all hours of the night to finish the chapter. (on that note: almost about to post on What Lies Within Us, but was too influenced to finish this first).
Hopefully, worth continuing. (sorry, that should have been a '?' instead of a period).