Who I Am Hates Who I've Been
Disclaimer: Gilmore Girls is not my brainchild. That honor is bestowed upon the genius that is Amy Sheman-Palladino.
Timeframe: Beginning Season 3, pre-the Dean/Jess debacle where Dean is still the steady boyfriend and Jess is a friend, then Season 6 pre-Let Me Hear Your Balalaikas Ringing Out
Tristan Dugrey left the halls of Chilton a lost little boy. Now at Amherst Military Academy, he has found himself reformed. When he and his best friend return to Hartford on leave, Tristan reconnects with Rory Gilmore and spends the next five years showing her his transformation from arrogant society boy to a man who just might steal her heart.
Give Me a Solution and Watch Me Run With It
Up, down, up, down, up, down. The steady pumping out of push-ups that had once left him exhausted and aching had now become a rhythm, the months of exercise firming his adolescent body into a machine of solid muscle. Beside him, his partner in offense and closest friend in the academy reputed for "shaping hoodlums into the men of tomorrow," met his uniform pace as their bodies moved in sync to the barking count. Slowly, a pair of clear gray eyes winking with mischief flicked over to his as a laughing smile curved his mouth.
"Find something funny, Cadet Beaumont? What about you, Cadet Dugrey?"
Fighting to control their laughter, Tristan Dugrey and Riley Beaumont hollered out in unison through the pouring rain dotting their faces, dripping down from the lack of hair atop each head.
"Sir, no sir!"
"Then hold your position!"
Arms quivering with the strain of holding themselves in an upright position, the pair struggled with the combined effort of choking back laughter as well as keeping their bodies aloft.
Slumping down to rest on the muddied ground, the two teenagers glanced up at their major's scowling face.
"That's enough punishment for you cadets, but next time, shall we refrain from dumping pink dye into the white loads?"
Identical smirks tilting a corner of each mouth, both boys scrambled up to stand bolt upright at attention, "Sir, yes sir!"
Nodding with satisfaction, the major glowered down at their impassive faces, seemingly contrite "Alright then, DISMISSED!"
As they jogged away proceeding a sharp salute, a faint grumble could be heard through the pattering of rain, "If only they weren't head of the class…"
- - -
Tristan Dugrey sat on his bed, pen in hand, paper splayed across his lap as he penned another line in a letter to his grandfather, keeping the running chronicles of his life at Amherst Military Academy. In some strange and inexplicable way, Tristan enjoyed this peaceful existence. Here, no one knew the name Dugrey, and he had no reputation to uphold, only the one he manifested for himself. In his year at Amherst, he rose rapidly through the ranks as he plunged headlong into his transformation. By the end of his junior year, Tristan had attained the rank of First Sergeant. Now, almost halfway into his senior year, he had elevated himself to the title of Lieutenant Colonel, serving as the Executive Officer to his battalion. Even his studies had improved. At Chilton, he was covertly intelligent, third in the class behind Rory and Paris. Now, he was in the competition for valedictorian. Perhaps the most significant change for him, however, was his mentality. Now matured, Tristan looked on his Chilton self with disdain. Simply put, he was stupid, and his experience at Amherst Military Academy proved to be liberating. The Tristan society and its bearings had corrupted vanished, and in its place was a Tristan he liked to think had a bit more sense and semblance of the important things that extended beyond money and girls.
His attention on the task at hand, he barely glanced up as Riley Beaumont sauntered in, toweling his head dry. As he glanced at his best friend, Tristan quirked a small smile, remembering how they had met.
Tristan Dugrey glanced around at the bleak gray surroundings of his current predicament. As he surveyed the barracks, a gleeful catcall came from the doorway. Flicking his deep sapphire gaze to the source of the noise, Tristan spotted a stocky boy, his black hair shaved short
"Weeelll, lookie here, fellas. We have ourselves a new fishie straight from plebe camp. And a purdy one at that."
The boy stopped short, looking Tristan up and down with an appraising eye, "Well, fishie, where are you from?"
The boy squared up to Tristan, his dark eyes smug with a false authority, "Connecticut, sir."
Tristan smirked, not intimidated in the least. His eyes flicked down to the nametag on the boy's right breast reading Fordham, "There's no need to call me 'sir.'"
The two guys with Fordham grabbed his shoulders, forcing him back against the barrack wall. A lanky redhead glanced at the stocky boy, obviously the leader, "Cheeky one, isn't he, Eric?"
A brunette on Tristan's right gave the shoulder in his grasp a shove, "Yeah, Fordham, what should we do to this one?"
Eric Fordham leered at Tristan, his back against the wall, glaring in annoyance, "I think we should teach this one some manners, boys. Let's start with introductions. I'm Eric Fordham." He smirked upwards to Tristan's eye level, "You might want to remember that." Jerking a head to the redheaded boy and the brunette holding Tristan down, Eric grinned.
"Those two are Jimmy Strong and Kent Lee. Rule number one," Fordham smirked, "You don't want to cross us."
Before Eric could continue his lesson on manners, a shout halted him, "Correction, Fordham. You don't want to cross me."
Eric straightened as a tall, brunette boy strode purposefully in their direction, his clear, gray eyes flashing with authority. Immediately, Eric Fordham and his two lackeys snapped to a reluctant attention to the highest ranking cadet in the junior class.
His strong jaw set, the lean, rugged boy glared down at the three cadets, "Let him go."
Grudgingly, the two sets of arms released their grip, and the newcomer stared down Fordham with an unyielding gaze heavy with intensity, "I hope you three aren't causing the new kid any problems. I'd hate to think he's developing a bad sense of this school already."
Eric bristled, hoping to restore some semblance of his dignity, "No, we aren't."
"No, what, Fordham?"
Seething with resentment, Fordham bit out a sentence through clenched teeth, "No, sir. We aren't causing him trouble."
The taller boy leveled the three cadets with an icy stare, "Excellent. Now, if I'm not mistaken, you and Cadets Lee and Strong all have garbage duty in the mess."
Unable to refute a direct order from their superior, the three boys snapped off reluctant salutes before trudging out in departure.
The boy turned to Tristan, his steady eyes calculating, "You okay?"
Tristan leered, "Look, soldier boy, I didn't need your help. I had things under control."
Quirking an amused eyebrow, the guy barked out a harsh laugh, "You're one of those society jobs, aren't you? Straight from New England and bred with a silver spoon in your mouth, rolling in the nine figure bank account that's been in your family for generations." Shaking his head, the boy squared up to Tristan's aggressive stance.
"One thing you need to know, rich boy, is that here, you pick a fight, you'll get beat down. Especially against someone like Fordham, who's been here a long time. Times that by three, and you'll be in the infirmary for a month. One of our classes here is hand to hand combat. The worst you've ever faced was probably because some ignorant spud scraped the paint job on your Porsche. Do me a favor and spare me the tough act." Tristan's haughty sneer faltered a bit, the truth behind the boy's statement.
"Here, it's different. You might have been the king down at Wherever, USA, but at Amherst, you're nothing more than a new cadet trying to break into the ranks. And I'm gonna tell you: it ain't easy. People around here don't take lightly to a new fish so late in the game, and Mommy and Daddy's wealth and name can't help you out here."
Tristan broke his silence, scoffing slightly, "Yeah well, then it's a good thing I stopped asking for their help a long time ago…"
The boy silently gazed at Tristan, his penetrating gray eyes surveying the new recruit. As Tristan began to slightly feel unnerved, a corner of his mouth curved upward, "I like you, kid. You've got balls. Call me crazy, I know you're a blue blood society type, but I think you're gonna be okay here. Just give it time."
He extended a hand, "Name's Beaumont. Riley Beaumont."
Tristan grasped the offering in a firm shake, "Tristan Dugrey." He scrutinized the leanly muscled boy, observing the badges displaying his rank on the collars of his casual uniform and his cap, "You must be pretty important around here."
Riley shrugged, "I've been here pretty long. Since the seventh grade. Kinda merits some respect. Highest ranked in the junior class. Stick with me, no one's gonna mess with you."
Tristan smiled ruefully, "Y'know, you know, you were right. Back at home, that used to be me."
Riley scoffed, "Hate to break it to you, Fabio, but this ain't home. You're starting fresh here."
Tristan sighed, "Don't I know that."
"C'mon, Preppy. You're lucky enough to be assigned to my bunk. I'll show you the ropes."
"Another one to the old man, eh TJ?"
Nodding absently, Tristan scrawled out another sentence as Riley sank down on his bed. Reaching over to his nightstand, he pulled out a battered and well-worn book. Removing the folded piece of paper that marked his spot, Riley produced a pen, settling back against the pillows to read.
Tristan glanced over at his best friend and smirked as he read the title of the book clutched in Riley's hands, "Geeze Beau, you memorize that book yet? I mean, not that you can read it through all the notes in the margins."
His pewter eyes flicking in Tristan's direction, Riley languidly turned the page, scribbling another note on the well-inked sheet, "I denno, Dugrey. Ever send all those letters you've written Mary?"
Tristan chuckled, holding his hands up in surrender, "Okay, Beaumont. You've got me there. Geez, you'd think after almost a year I'd be able to keep up with you."
Riley grinned, twirling his pen through his fingers, "Damn straight, TJ. And I'd have you know that this book, as well as the many others you have accused me of 'memorizing,' is not only for the sole pleasure of good literature but is also helping me write that novel that will propel me away from the clutches of my oppressive parents."
Tristan chuckled, "Alrighty then, Beau. So how long do you think until you bust out of here?"
Riley scoffed ruefully, "And burden my family with my insignificant presence? Are you kidding me? I like it here. Here, I'm worth something." His hand drifting down to the medallion resting against the middle of his chest, Riley snorted, "The only person who gave a damn was my uncle, and he's gone. They'll as soon bust me out then you send all those letters to Stars Hollow."
Tristan's gaze on the page in front of him, he could only nod in agreement, sympathizing with his best friend's plight. Janlan Dugrey was the one of the few members of his family who cared about this welfare at the academy. His father only wrote sparingly, his purpose to remind his exiled son that he was a disgrace to the Dugrey name, hence is banishment from Hartford. His mother was too busy drowning herself in society functions and chardonnay to bother with the son she probably failed to notice was gone. And then there were his friends, or more accurately, the people in love with his image. His many admirers had written to him dutifully while he was away, and Paris had even sent the occasional letter. However, the most surprising piece of mail was the letter he had received from Mary herself, Rory Gilmore. It was short, and it was bitter, but Tristan cherished it more than the pages he received from Summer.
Dear Bible Boy,
See what happens when you don't listen to me? That's right, your butt ends up in military school. That hair you prided yourself on? It'll be less than an inch long. Those days you showed up to class late? Not going to happen. I don't know whether to feel sorry for you for being so stupid or laugh at the justice of it all. I tried the latter once but ended up feeling the former. But who knows, maybe this will teach you some manners, and if you ever come back, you might actually know how to treat a girl.
P.S. Notice the lack of Mary? Learn it, Dugrey.
Riley smirked to himself, covertly watching his best friend as he took out the familiar piece of stationary. Riley had seen Tristan produce the barely there letter from Rory Gilmore and read it over time and time again, every instance with a small smile playing on his face. Each time he read it, Tristan would begin writing a letter to the girl, pouring his misguided heart and soul from his ballpoint pen onto the paper. He would sit there for hours, writing about anything that caught his fancy and the finished product would be pages long. Then he would fold the letter up, penning the address with a meticulous care before sticking it into the envelope. But Tristan never sent the letters. Each time, he would study his completed result, the thoughts flowing through his head before sighing deeply, sticking the envelope into a box on his desk.
Riley watched Tristan's steady blue eyes read over another carefully inscribed line in the letter to his grandfather. Tristan had told Riley all about Rory Gilmore,
"the girl who never gave him the chance." She was all he ever talked about concerning Chilton. According to Tristan, she was so repulsed by his arrogance that he never received so much as a second glance. But in Riley's mind, the Tristan he knew now stood a chance with Rory Gilmore. So he had taken it upon himself to send a few of those letters to Stars Hollow by acquiring them with the talents that had gotten him shipped off to Amherst in the first place.
- - -
The harsh sound of the bell permeated Rory Gilmore's isolated thoughts in her AP Calculus class. Slightly bemused as she gathered her things, Rory followed the herd of Chilton students as they exited the classroom.
"I hope you're finished with that latest review you were working on."
Rory jumped as the callous yet familiar tone of Paris Gellar accosted her the moment she set foot in the hallway. Yanking herself away from her ponderings, Rory nodded to Paris, making her way through the crush of students to her locker.
"Yeah, Paris. I'll have it to you by lunch."
Leveling Rory with her trademark icy stare, Paris gave her a curt nod, "Good. I won't let the Franklin miss a deadline due to your lack of punctuality." In a whirl of blonde hair, Paris strode away.
"Aye aye, Captain," Rory muttered under her breath as she shut her locker. Leaning her head against the cool metal, she allowed the rush of a deep exhale to flow from her lungs. Noticing the lack of public indecency in the locker next to her courtesy of Tristan and his flavor of the week, Rory allowed herself to drift back to her contemplation in Calculus. Tristan Dugrey had been gone for almost a year, and sadly enough, she had found herself missing him. Or, more specifically, their days that used to teem with witty banter. Besides her mom, Tristan had been the only one who could keep up with her. Luke's monotonic grunts were directed to her mother, Jess only spoke in single words, most of the time monosyllabic, and Dean was too nice to disagree. The thought of his abrupt departure at the beginning of junior year hadn't really passed through her conscience until she had received a letter from him, or more specifically, his best friend.
Dear Rory Gilmore,
You don't know me, but trust me when I say I know a lot about you. Now before you frown in disgust and throw away this letter assuming that I am some deranged stalker who has chosen you to be his next victim, let me explain. My name is Riley Beaumont, and I attend Amherst Military Academy with an old classmate of yours named Tristan Dugrey. I just wanted to pass on some letters that he has neglected to send you during his time here. You have no idea when I say the arrogant asshole you knew is way different out here in North Carolina. Who knows, maybe you might find something you like.
Cadet Colonel Riley Beaumont
Opening the accompanying package, Rory was surprised to see a stack of letters spill from the envelope ranging in length from a few paragraphs to extensive pages. Wary at first, Rory had tossed away the package, disregarding the letters with the idea that Tristan would simply fill the pages with his normal insults and lewd innuendos. But as the package sat ever so innocently on her desk, Rory found herself intrigued and curiosity got the better of her. Sitting down with a cup of coffee, she read his letters diligently, all the while wondering why he was taking the time to write. As Tristan's words flowed from the paper to her mind, Rory found that the written statements showed such a different side of Tristan Dugrey. Far from the jackass she had know, an articulate, perceptive, cynical, yet entirely amusing, Tristan emerged. In his letters, he narrated the life of a cadet in Amherst, dating his rise from "plebe," or new cadet, to his current rank of Lieutenant Colonel while etching lines of humorous commentary that left her in stitches. Along with the letters, Riley had sent a list of some of Tristan's accomplishments, and Rory was surprised to find they were widespread amongst both academics and extracurricular activities. He was one of the highest ranking cadets in among seniors, second only to Riley himself, and his G.P.A. surpassed his whole class by several points. Rory was taken aback. This wasn't the Tristan Dugrey who used to rule the halls of Chilton Prep. That Tristan wouldn't have challenged himself by taking a whole course load of AP classes or asserted himself by becoming captain of the lacrosse team. Chilton Tristan had barely scraped by, flying under the radar in all facets of education except the social spectrum. Had the world gone wacky? Or was it really that unfathomable that Tristan had changed?
- - -
Tristan Dugrey hefted a heavy sigh as he stepped out of the terminal in Hartford's airport. He relaxed slightly as Riley came up beside him, clapping a hand on his shoulder.
"Easy, TJ. Remember, you've done well."
Tristan smiled weakly, "Thanks, Beau. It's easier with you here."
Riley smirked, "Yeah, well, not like my parents wanted me around, anyway."
Together, the two cadets strolled through the airport, oblivious to the stares sent their way at the pristine uniforms they were clothed in as the bright light of the airport reflected off of the many medals adorning their chests. Making their way down the escalator, they were greeted by Tristan's family that included his parents and grandparents. As greetings were exchanged, Tristan's father, Gregory Dugrey, looked his son up and down with an appraising eye.
"You look good, Tristan."
His face impassive, Tristan gave a curt nod to his father as he stood stiffly in his dress uniform suited for leave, "Thank you, Father."
Gregory raised an eyebrow, "And I see Amherst has taught you some manners as well. Very nice, son" Turning to his son's companion, Gregory extended a hand.
"And you must be Riley."
Grasping the elder Dugrey's palm, Riley nodded, "Yes, sir, Mr. Dugrey. Riley Beaumont. Thank you for having me, sir."
Giving Riley the once-over, Gregory smiled, "Ah, it is no problem at all. After all, your accomplishments deserve some respect."
Riley nodded, "Thank you, sir."
Gregory nodded, observing the awards splayed across the jackets of their dress uniforms, "I'm glad to see that Tristan has been associating himself with exceptional people."
Riley gave a sardonic grin at the elder Dugrey's statement, "Well, to be fair, Mr. Dugrey, I wasn't an 'exceptional person' prior to enrolling in Amherst. But, like Tristan, I've amended that."
For the first time, Janlan Dugrey spoke, his tone dignified and warm, "Well, son, that's all that matters, now isn't it?"
Riley quirked a wry smile, "Tell that to my parents, sir."
Gregory chuckled uneasily, clapping a hand on his son's shoulder, "Well, Tristan, your mother and I really must be getting back to work, and your grandfather has a very important meeting. We have taken the liberty to bring along your Porsche. I'm sure Riley and yourself can entertain yourselves until tonight."
Tristan nodded tightly as his father tugged him into a distant hug. Before departing, Gregory Dugrey turned back to his son, "Oh, and Tristan? You might want to visit Chilton. I'm sure Headmaster Charleston will want to meet with you again."
As his mother proceeded his father, Olivia Dugrey added to her husband's statement, "And be back before seven. We're hosting a gathering at our house to welcome you back. And please be dressed in those uniforms."
Janlan Dugrey approached his grandson, wrapping him in a warm embrace. His still-handsome face split into an affectionate smile as he surveyed the young man before him, his brilliant blue eyes crinkling with happiness.
"It's good to have you home, Tristan."
A corner of Tristan's mouth quirked upward in a smile, "Thanks, Granddad."
Janlan placed a hand on both of Tristan's shoulders, "I'm proud of you m'boy. You really stuck one to your father."
Tristan chuckled, "Yeah, well, it's not like he cares, right?"
Janlan's striking eyes clouded over with remorse, "You father is a fool, Tristan. Sometimes I wonder how I could have raised such a man to neglect his son. Maybe it was partly my doing." Janlan cradled his grandson's strapping face with a strong hand.
"Don't do anything for him, boy. He doesn't deserve it. You succeed for you."
Tristan nodded seriously, taking his grandfather's words to heart, "Yes, sir."
Janlan clapped a hand "That's my boy. Good luck with Charleston. For I hear, he's expecting you with the lowest of expectations. That's another one you've proven wrong. I'll see you tonight."
Tristan smiled, "Bye, Granddad."
Janlan strode briskly away, following the path of his son. Glancing at his parents' departing backs, Tristan muttered in an undertone to Riley, "Go see Charleston…of course. They couldn't resist showing off their reformed son. I swear, I'm going to be dragged by the collar to all their stuffy society friends so they can gloat about how military school kicked some sense into me."
Riley quirked a playfully derisive eyebrow, "Well, didn't it?"
Tristan chuckled, the gesture of mirth not quite reaching his piercing sapphire gaze, "More like you did." Hauling his bag up higher on his shoulder, Tristan shrugged, "I denno, Riley. I was a stupid kid around these people. No one gave me any rules to follow, and I just ran with it. I don't really want to be reminded of that."
"Or you could just
do what you suggested beforehand." Tristan glanced at his best
friend inquiringly at his statement. Riley gestured to Tristan's
uniform, "Show everyone how you changed."
Tristan stayed silent as they loaded their bags into the trunk of his Porsche. Walking around to the driver's side, Tristan climbed in, the thoughtful expression still splayed across his features.
"So, Society Boy, where to first?"
Snapping from his reverie, Tristan smirked, "My former kingdom, otherwise referred to as Hell."
"You're honestly going? You want to go to school on our break from school?"
Tristan chuckled, "Well, you did say I should show everyone I've changed." He shrugged, "My father mentioned my former headmaster wanted to see me. I figure, where better than meet with the man who constantly reminded me I would never amount to anything in the real world?"
Riley's face took on a pained look, "So this is the only time in your existence that you choose to listen to me? What happened to the time I said it's better to park Sergeant Hessler's car on the roof of the commandant's office instead of the science building? Or when I said don't use the exploding ink on Johnson, use it on Fordham?" But as his rant continued, Riley sat up straight.
"Hold on a minute. You're not doing it for Charleston. You're doing it for Mary." Riley smirked at the guilty look Tristan was trying to conceal from his friend.
"You're going back to the place you, yourself, referred to as the fiery depths of hell so you can show a certain brunette that you are not the arrogant prick you once were." Riley threw back his head in raucous laughter, "Damn, Dugrey, this is classic." Throwing out his hands in a dramatic gesture, Riley deepened his voice to mimic the announcer in movie trailers.
"Tristan Dugrey walked away from the halls of Chilton Prep a boy looking to find his way. Now, a year later, he returns changed and reformed to win the heart of the girl who never gave him the chance."
Grumbling slightly at Riley's mirth at his expense, Tristan kept his attention on the road as his Porsche careened down the familiar highway that led to Chilton, "Yeah, yeah, Beau, go ahead and laugh it up."
"What the hell do you think I'm doing, Dugrey?"
As Riley's glee floated through the close quarters of the Porsche, Tristan shook his head in exasperation, his eyes focused determinedly on the road. He was not going to admit it, but Riley was right. He was going for Mary. He was going for the sole purpose of showing her he had gotten his act together. He was not the little boy who ran away.
- - -
Tristan cruised down the familiar streets of Hartford, making his way to the big, stone building he had ruled with an iron fist. There, no one questioned his authority and fawned at his feet. He was king, adored by all. Shutting off the engine of his Porsche, he sat back to stare upward at the humongous building that was his former kingdom. From his side, Riley whistled.
"Damn, Tristan. This is it?"
A hefty sigh bursting from his lungs, Tristan nodded, "Uh huh. I spent two years in that blasted inferno."
Riley quirked an eyebrow, "It kinda gives off a 'lock 'em in the dungeons feeling, doesn't it?"
Tristan smirked, "I always thought more like 'off with their heads'…"
Leaning up against the door of the Porsche, Riley adjusted the frame cap on his head and straightened the blue dress jacket.
"Alright then, Dugrey. I'd say an entrance is in order."
Tristan cocked an eyebrow, "An entrance?"
Riley shrugged, "I think it'd be a kick. Show them how you've changed. Besides, I'll even let you walk in first. Y'know, give you the feeling what it's like to outrank me…"
"Asshole." Tristan squared his shoulders, fixing his own cap, "Alright then, Beau. Let's give them a show."
- - -
The halls of Chilton Preparatory were bustling with student life when the big stone doors flew open. Every single person stopped and rotated to face the two men that had sauntered in, their steady, even pace quick with military precision. The sunlight reflected off of the many badges and medals adorning each broad chest and the whole student body took in the two men's pristine dress uniforms. Both boys strode purposefully towards the administration offices, and the minute the doors closed, cutting the two outsiders from the rest of the school, the halls immediately set off with a buzz of gossip at the two strangers.
- - -
Inwardly, Tristan smirked at the many inquiring stares sent his and Riley's way as they walked down the Chilton hallways. They had deliberately coordinated their steps to an identical and brisk march. Inconspicuously, his blue eyes scanned over the crowd, searching out for one particular brunette. A slight smile broke through his façade of military detachment when he spotted a whirlwind of chocolate hair hastily rushing away from his direction. He knew she had seen him. Now the challenge was to talk to her, really hold a civil conversation, and show Rory Gilmore that the military uniform wasn't solely for show. He really had changed.
- - -
Rory Gilmore could honestly say that she was oblivious to the scatter of Chilton gossip that ran rampant through the halls. Most of the time, she ignored all the flutter of conversation that stifled her through the days in school. But even a person as unaware as Rory Gilmore could not fail to notice the wave of hush that crashed over the Chilton student body. Raising her eyes from her book, Rory stared in the general direction of the uproar, or lack thereof. Her heart stalled as she glimpsed two men, their long and lengthy strides moving in unison with a practiced accuracy. Her eyes drifted up to absorb the pristine uniform, and gazing up into steady gaze of the shorter of the two tall boys, Rory immediately recognized the piercing sapphire gaze. Panic seizing her senses, Rory reverted to the reaction she seemed to most associate with Tristan Dugrey. She ran.