Disclaimer: I own nothing
A/N: This takes place around Rory's sophomore year. Dean and Rory broke up right after Tristan left. Jess was just a good friend and Logan never existed.
Tristan walked into the party like he always did, full of confidence and sure of himself. He had no reason to think otherwise. He fit right in with this crowd. He was rich, handsome, and the ladies loved him. At least, that's what he portrayed. He immediately went to the bar and got a drink. As he looked around, he noticed many of the faces. Same old crowd, he thought. Then he noticed someone he had never seen before. He had to do a double take as he looked to the corner of the room. A pretty brunette with a book was sitting in an overstuffed chair. She had obviously found the quietest section of the party and settled in. He chuckled as he took the last sip of his drink and walked towards her.
"She's reading again, how novel." He said with laughter in his voice. She slowly closed her book and finally raised her eyes to see what she already knew.
"You can't find a new line?" She said with a smile.
"I like to stick with the classics." He smirked.
"How was North Carolina?" she asked. It hadn't been the same since he left. She had missed him.
"It wasn't completely horrible." He said as he sat down next to her. "How was Chilton?"
"It was…eventful." She paused as she wondered if she should go on. "Did you really come over to talk about the past?" He smiled at her brazen nature. Not exactly the girl he had left before, she was a woman now.
"Well I thought it was only polite. Speaking of the past, how's Bagboy? You guys must be married by now." she raised her left hand to reveal she wasn't married.
"Dean and I broke up right after you left actually."
"Really?" He said, truly shocked.
"Really. What about you?" He raised his left hand in response.
"Boyfriend?" She shook her head. "Me either." She laughed. "Girlfriend I mean." He said. He was flustered. She thought it was adorable.
"Do you wanna get out of here?" She asked with a glint of adventure in her eye.
"Absolutely." She stood up and took his hand. It threw him off balance immediately. He had no idea where he stood with her; she had changed.
"Hungry?" He shrugged. "I know a great place." They walked out to his car and she directed them to her favorite spot in Hartford.
"Hector's?" He eyed the place suspiciously. "I never even knew this place existed."
"NO! They've got the best tacos on the East Coast! Oh well now we have to go in."
"Well I guess so." He said matching her tone. Rory hopped out of the car and led Tristan inside.
"Rory!" yelled the cook behind the counter.
"Hey Hector! I've brought a virgin with me, so make it a double."
"Of course," he said as Tristan took out his wallet. "For you, it's on the house."
"They give you free food?" Tristan asked as Hector went to cooking the food.
"I come here a lot, whenever I bring in someone new, they do the same thing. One of the perks of being a faithful customer. My mother's been coming here since it opened." She said with a smile.
"So tell me, what are you up to now?"
"Well, I'm currently attending Yale majoring in Journalism. Paris is my roommate actually." Tristan winced.
"That's a definite change since I left."
"Well once you left, she no longer had a reason to hate me and now we've gotten to be pretty good friends. What about you?"
"I'm actually at North Carolina. My parents are trying to get me to transfer to Yale of course, but we'll see how that goes."
"What are you studying?"
"The goal is to be a pediatrician." Rory tried to cover the shock on her face but Tristan saw the wave of confusion pass over her countenance.
"Really?" was all she could reply. "And where did this come from?"
"I wanted to be a doctor, but when I became an uncle, I decided it would be really cool to work with kids. My sister says it's because I myself will never grow up."
"Are you and your sister close?" He nodded.
"She and I were almost always alone together so we bonded. She's 5 years older than I am, and the responsible one of the family. They live in Hartford now, partly the reason I'm back for the summer. Actually, I think I might have a picture of them." He said pulling out his wallet. Rory smiled, he had changed more than she thought. "Ah yes." He pulled the picture out and slid it across the table. Rory picked it up and grinned at the photo. They were at the beach and they were all making silly faces to the camera. They looked really happy.
"That's my sister Catherine, Cat, her husband Rob, and their little girl, Elizabeth, but we call her Izzy. I took this photo when they came down to visit me over Spring Break." Izzy had the same curly blonde hair as her mother, but she had those amazingly blue eyes that Tristan had.
"She's adorable! How old is she?" she asked as she returned the photo.
"She just turned three." He said as he put the photo back in his wallet.
"I get the vibe that you are completely wrapped around her little finger, and therefore she's spoiled rotten." Tristan held up his hands.
"In self-defense, she's probably the smartest girl on the planet. She knows exactly how to work me. She has this face that…argh…you can't even begin to describe." Rory began to laugh at him. "What?"
"Tristan DuGray. Hartford elite and cocky SOB is being turned to mush by a three-year-old girl? Who would have thought that a toddler would be your weakness?" Before Tristan could answer Hector brought out their food.
"Ah, it looks wonderful. Thanks Hector!"
"For you Miss Gilmore, anything." Rory returned his smile and then focused her attention on Tristan.
"How much food did you order?" he said scanning the huge tray of food that had just been sat before him.
"Two chicken tacos, one hard shell, one soft. Nachos with a sour cream, cheese, and salsa dip. And a beef chimi with melted cheese on top. And a Coke of course. If you can't finish it all, I understand. You wouldn't be the first man who succumbed to the Gilmore eating habits."
"No, I think I can handle it. I just had no idea that you could as well. You're half the size of me, where does it all go? I'm assuming you don't exercise?" She cringed at the word.
"God no! It's one of the mysteries of the world I guess." She shrugged as she dove into her plate full of food.
"Well that was officially the best food I've ever had." Tristan said as Rory finished the remainder of her meal.
"Ah tol woo tho." She replied. Tristan laughed at her attempts to talk with her mouth full. God she's just as beautiful as I remember, plus some, he thought. No wonder I was head over heels in love with her.
"You wanna try that again?" She swallowed and tried again.
"I told you so!"
"That's what I thought you said. So tell me Mary, why did you decide to go to Yale?" She stopped and thought about it.
"Well, my mother was a huge draw. I was accepted to Harvard and Princeton too, but I wanted to stay close to her. I made a Pro/Con list and this is what it told me to do. It just was a better fit for me. Why do you ask?"
"Well as I said, my mother wants me to move closer. I love North Carolina, but having Yale on my graduation certificate would look better to medical schools. I'm considering transferring, but I have no idea where I stand on the issue." Rory smiled and pointed her finger. Before she could comment he interrupted her.
"I know, I know, I need a list!" Tristan smirked at her.
"I'm telling you. I don't know how anyone survives without them. Everything in my life is affected by my lists."
"I believe you." He paused and smiled at her. "Just when I think you've changed, you show me that you haven't changed at all."
"Oh, I've changed? Mr. Break into a safe? Military school must have done wonders on you." At least it has on his body, she thought. I don't remember him looking this good.
"I'm not saying I haven't changed. I have, for the better. I've seen the error of my ways." He held up the boy scout fingers.
"So if I asked you to take me back to my place you would say?"
"Not the first thing that popped into my mind," he paused thinking, "maybe the second." She smiled.
"Yeah, you haven't changed at all either." She said picking up her purse.