Disclaimer: I don't own Gilmore Girls, the people, or the places.
Song References: Wheel is a John Mayer song that can also be found on his album Heavier Things.
A/N: So you hate me and miss Tristan. I get it, and I apologize. All I can say is that maybe when you're done with this chapter, you should go read some of my other fics. History Repeating and Shoot the Moon are some favorites, so go check those out. And, unfortunately, this is the end my friends. I had a lovely time with you all, and I appreciate your feedback.
Chapter Sixteen: I Won't Be the Last
And that's the way this wheel keeps working now
That's the way this wheel keeps working now
And I won't be the last
No I won't be the last,
To love her
Rory ran her hands through his thick, blonde hair. "You need a haircut, mister," she teased.
"I thought you liked my hair when it was longish."
"I thought you were afraid of my grandmother."
"She won't kill me for not having time to get a haircut," he insisted. "Besides, you know how hard it is for me to get away from work on time these days. You of all people know my father's work ethic."
Rory smiled and slowly trailed her fingers through his hair, causing a groan to escape his lips.
"Not when I'm driving," he pleaded playfully. "You are a traffic hazard, do you know that?"
"Well if you had just taken the driver…"
"Martin had a hot date. I gave him the night off."
"A date? With whom?"
"The maid?" Rory laughed. "You be careful who you set up, or you'll have lots of little children running around the house soon."
He laughed and rested one hand on her thigh. "Ours, I hope."
"Stop it!" she said playfully. "Imagine how your mother would react to being called 'Grandma.'"
"She'd leave my father for a plastic surgeon."
Rory laughed. "She'd fit right into Beverly Hills."
They pulled up to the curb and rolled through the valet parking line.
"It's crowded," Rory noted, looking at all the cars and valet attendants.
"It's not too late to go home. We could have the whole house to ourselves. We could christen a couple of rooms…"
Rory kissed him softly. "Tempting, but my grandmother is expecting us."
He nodded and opened his door, walking around the car to help Rory out.
"Good evening, Sir," an attendant said, approaching the car.
"Huntzberger," Logan said handing him his keys and a twenty. The attendant passed him a ticket in return.
Rory slipped her black gloved hand through Logan's waiting arm, and together they made their way down the candlelit path into the dance hall.
"You look beautiful," Logan whispered, his eyes admiring the way her deep green dress hugged all the right curves. Rory blushed. "I love you," he whispered in her ear.
"I love you too."
Tristan sat at the Dugrey table, utterly embarrassed by Shelly's and his mother's gossiping.
"Look at her, she's wearing red. Red of all colors. Is she serious? This is a charity event. It is completely inappropriate."
"Well it is Lynette we're talking about," Jewel answered. She gestured for her husband to refill her wine glass.
"Red is such an obvious color," Shelly said, shaking her head. She reached for her own wine glass, and her engagement ring caught the light, causing Tristan to turn his head. It had been two years and nothing had changed.
"Now, that dress on the other hand," Jewel said.
Jewel pointed, unabashed. "It shows enough skin to be flattering, but the floor length train adds class."
Shelly squinted across the room. "Wait, isn't that Rory Gilmore?"
Tristan's head shot up.
"And on the arm of Logan Huntzberger, no less!" Jewel added, making no attempt to hide her pleasure at seeing Rory with an escort other than her son.
"Where are you going?" Shelly asked, unable to hide the note of concern in her voice.
"Rory and I are friends. I think it would be nice to go say hello."
Shelly stood too, a fake smile plastered to her face. "I'll join you."
Tristan's eyes begged her to stay, but Shelly ignored him. He sighed in compliance.
"Why, Tristan Dugrey. I haven't seen you in forever. How have you been? Still up to your old tricks?"
Tristan shook Logan's hand. "Old habits die hard, my friend," he added.
Rory stood, stunned. Sure, Hartford society was a small circle. They were bound to run into each other sooner or later, but Rory had not expected it to be tonight.
"Rory," Tristan said, forcing his voice to be light. Rory smiled and greeted him, but couldn'tignore the hurt that clouded his eyes.
"You know each other?" Logan asked.
"We went to Chilton together," Tristan answered.
"Ah, that's right. Funny how you both wound up with Trent alum," Logan joked, referring to the rival school in which he had attended. "At least I'm assuming by the size of the rock on your finger, Shelly, that you're engaged to Tristan?"
Shelly nodded and put her diamond clad hand on Tristan's chest.
"When's the wedding?" Rory asked, trying her best to make small talk, but knowing how deeply the question affected her.
"June," Tristan answered, his eyes full of an intensity that Rory did not want to read into.
"Well, it was nice chatting," Shelly said, "But we should be getting back to our table."
"It was nice to see you guys," Logan said.
"Bye," Rory chimed in, stupidly.
Tristan just gave her a little nod and walked away with Shelly.
"Brrrrr," Logan said, walking with Rory over to their designated table. "That was cold."
"Sorry," Rory said.
Logan looked at her. After a moment Rory felt his gaze and lifted her own from the floor.
"We had a thing…"
"It ended badly…"
"As most things do."
Rory sighed, and Logan nodded slowly. "You really liked the guy, didn't you?"
"It was a long time ago, before you."
"You don't need to defend yourself, Ror," Logan said.
"I was screwed up and I thought that we could have had something real," she replied. "But he didn't love me enough to leave Shelly, to defy his parents." She shrugged again. "Like I said, that was a few years ago, and if he hadn't left, I wouldn't have been here with you right now."
Logan stroked her hand with his thumb. "If it makes you feel any better I slept with Shelly a couple of times."
Rory laughed. "Why am I not surprised?"
"Just evening the score, Ace."
Rory kissed him. "What do you guys see in that girl?"
"It wouldn't be very gentlemanly for me to say. Besides, that guy must be a real ass to choose her over you."
Tristan was back at his own table, but he could not take his eyes off of Rory. Her hair was longer, curlier, and the bangs on her forehead gave her an exotic air. He watched as she leaned over and gave Logan a soft kiss, and his blood stirred with jealousy. He felt the familiar longing, but it was stronger than it used to be. Was this how it would always be, Rory turning up every few years more beautiful than the last time? But he had made his choice, and he had to learn to accept it. With a sigh he refilled his wine glass. This would be a very long evening.