In Medias Res

At times, we are in the middle of something when the important epiphanies strike. Tristan Dugrey is no different.

Disclaimer: I own nothing that you see, along with a random, time-inaccurate allusion to John Tucker Must Die.

Timeframe: Interspersed throughout the seasons. A bit of an AU since everything with Logan did not happen and vague allusions to past seasons.

Pairings: Trory

Hello, everyone. I am brutally aware this is not, in fact, a new chapter for Who I Am, but I hope this little piece is enough to hold you through until my actual update. I do regret that completely rewriting a chapter is a more tedious process than I imagined. I tried to scrounge up every little detail from memory and am finding it difficult to do so. I have about seven more pages to finish, but I promise that the next chapter will be up in September. I hope… Anyway, here is a nice fluffy fic until the next update.

Tristan Dugrey leaned against the bland yellow of the Chilton Preparatory lockers, twiddling with the silver ring around his middle finger. In his immediate eyesight, his latest conquest was chattering up a storm, the words mingling into one constant stream of high-pitched squeaks with the word "like" inserted in regular intervals. One hand flirtatiously wandered its way down his mandated blue dress shirt-covered chest as her other hand flicked a wave of her blonde hair, tinted a summery platinum courtesy of L'Oreal's most expensive bottle. Personally, he didn't know that much about her; he rarely found the time or the effort to actually acknowledge particulars about the people he hooked up with. The bare essentials would suffice: her name, a generalized version of the face, and the group of friends she associated with, in case it ended badly – dating within the clique wasn't the best thing to do. See John Tucker. His brain beating against his skull with the exertion of to trying to single out a coherent word in the continuous torrent, Tristan tore his eyes away from hers as a whirl of chocolate hair flew into his line of vision, her face obscured by the novel beneath her nose. As the figure of Rory Gilmore brushed by without a glance at him or at anyone for that matter, even as Duncan and Bowman swooped down on some hapless freshman, canning him in the nearest trash receptacle.

Shifting away from…uh, Brianna…to her indignant screech of protest, Tristan sidled up beside Rory, easily slipping into the persona he couldn't seem to reign in while in her presence.
"Hm, Rory Gilmore and a book in her hand. Will wonders never cease or should I curb the urge to unleash my surprised face?"

Turning the page without pause or even an acknowledgement at his presence, Rory kept her gaze on the story before her, continuing her journey down the crowded hallway.

"Considering the effort it probably took for you to think up that line, I don't imagine you have enough energy left for that surprised face."

Tristan's lips curled into a grin, giving her a moment to process her own words. Almost on cue, Rory halted, lowered the novel in her hands, and rotated, jabbing one finger into his chest.

"Don't you dare start."

His hands casually stuffed in his pockets, Tristan tilted his head back a hearty chuckle, his chest shaking with mirth. Returning his gaze to hers, Tristan smirked, his bright blue eyes sparkling with their perpetual mischief. His bottom lip stuck out in a pout, Tristan leaned in, his tone light and teasing.

"Ah, but Mary, when you lay out the red carpet…"

Rory rolled her eyes, burying her nose back into the pages of the book, "Well, I would hate to deny you the impulse that seems to arise so effortlessly."

Tristan spun on his heel, shifting so that he was walking backwards, facing her, "Would that imply you would like to hear my lovely words of unending wisdom?"

"Or lewd connotations?" Rory interjected, shooting a wry smile his direction. Faking a look of remorse, Rory sighed heavily, "No. Not particularly."

"But it gives me the perception that it is without a doubt the highlight of your day." Tristan countered, not noticing his path.

"Yeah, right up there with driving a rusty spike through my leg." Rory deadpanned. Switching tactics, Rory turned to her right, leading Tristan further and further down the hall.

"Now as much as I enjoy our intellectually stimulating conversations, I really do have somewhere to be."

Tristan quirked an eyebrow as Rory approached with an almost panther-like grace. Craning her neck upward, she leaned her head close to his, her lips a stifling distance away from his. Tristan withheld a groan as her hot breath caressed his mouth, her light perfume intoxicating to his sense of smell, deeply resisting the temptation to close the short distance and capture her rosy lips in his.

An uncharacteristically coy smile spread across her face. "I'll see you later, Bible Boy."

In the next instant, Tristan found his vision of Rory Gilmore obscured by a pane of fiberglass as she closed the door she had just backed him through with a swift tug. Glancing around at the classroom she had expertly manipulated him into, Tristan allowed a dry grin to spread across his face.

Tristan Dugrey was in the middle of a deserted classroom he had just been duped into when he figured out he was in love with Rory Gilmore. The feeling struck him straight between the eyes with the force of a Mac truck and the stealth of a snake. It was completely unexpected, an epiphany that blossomed as he stared at the frame of the pane glass window separating him from the crush of students in the hallway. She had long since departed for her next class, flouncing off with a blithe wave of her hand. He had stared at the spot where the glass framed her beautiful features, her brilliant blue eyes sparkling with the same sheen of mischief that mirrored his own, until the flurry of cocoa-colored hair had disappeared from his line of vision. It was then he realized the truth: Rory Gilmore was no longer a conquest to add to his belt. She was the source of something he had never felt before. Something that was a foreign concept to the unfeeling world of Hartford socialites. Something that he wasn't even sure he could correctly identify, let alone acknowledge. Tristan was never sure when his feelings diverted from a curiosity and lust for the Mary to the intense passion and affection for Rory Gilmore, but all he knew was that he was in love.

- - -

Rory Gilmore squealed as a pair of tanned, strapping arms slid around her thighs, hoisting her body up and over a broad, muscled shoulder that had been strengthened through two years of military school. Playfully pounding against the t-shirt-clad back of the man holding her captive, Rory flailed against his strong grip.

"Tristan Joseph Dugrey, put me down this instant!"

Tristan's chest rumbled out a laugh as he ran along the courtyard of the Yale campus with Rory still thrown over his shoulder. "Nuh-uh, sweetcakes, I have perused this entire campus looking for your wonderfully-shaped heiny, and now that I've found you, I am not going to let you go until I have shown you what I want to show you."

Bouncing with the pace of his jog, Rory shot him a glare that went unnoticed by the resolute man. "So in your quest to find me, you didn't even fathom of picking up your cell phone, which has my number programmed as the first one on your speed-dial, and actually calling me?"

Tristan frowned, continuing his trek along the Yale campus, ignoring the various stares he was receiving from the surrounding population, "Now where would the grand and romantic gesture be in that?"

Rory rolled her eyes, "You're hopeless."

"Of course," Tristan agreed, "'Hopelessly devoted to yoooouuuu!'"

Rory snorted, "That was cheesy and clichéd, Dugrey."

Tristan smirked in reply, "They don't become clichés for nothing, babe."

"Well, what is this lovely spectacle?"

Tristan rotated at the source of the voice to find a jovial Aussie sauntering in his direction. From her place over his shoulder, Rory rotated her head to shoot a smile towards her friend.

"Finnikins!"

Tristan grinned in turn at the exuberant brunette, "Hey, Finn."

Finn responded with a nod, "Love. Dugrey." Cocking an eyebrow, he surveyed the sight before him. "And you have Reporter Girl over your shoulder because?"

Tristan shrugged, "I'm under the impression that she's been dead-set on avoiding me."

"No I haven't." The muttered reply drifted up from behind Tristan, and as Finn diverted his gaze, he failed to withhold his laughter at the antics going on over Tristan's shoulder. Noticing the direction of Finn's stare, Tristan teasingly poked a finger into Rory's side.

"Hey, what are you doing back there?"

"Checking out your assets."

At her impish response, Tristan chuckled. "Can't blame you there, Gilmore. They are one of my finer qualities." Returning his attention to Finn, Tristan quirked a grin.

"Well, Mr. Finnegan, we shall be off." Tipping an imaginary cap to the Aussie, Tristan rotated, marching off into the distance. Rory waved from over Tristan's shoulder before acknowledging her captor.

"Uh, Tristan, not that I particularly mind this method of transportation, but where are we going?"

Tristan only smirked, continuing his jaunt. "Do you trust me?"

"Ye-es…" Rory drew out the syllables, skepticism heavy in her tone.

"Then just enjoy the ride. I am doing all of the grunt work, you know."

Rory huffed as Tristan took her along an unknown path, only catching a glimpse of their surroundings in passing. Tristan halted for a moment, before finally setting Rory down on her feet. Irately blowing the wayward strands of hair from her eyes, she glared up into the dark navy spheres of his mischievous eyes.

"Okay, Lucentio, where in the hell have you taken me?"

Tristan only allowed one corner of his mouth to curl upward. "Look around you, Rory. See for yourself."

Complying with his request, Rory whipped her hair around, her actions slowing as she absorbed the lush foliage. Her mouth unwittingly dropping in surprise, Rory turned back to Tristan in wonder as he took her by the hand, leading her along the tiny bridge overlooking a clear lake.

"Tristan, what is this place?"

He chuckled in reply, guiding her to the shore of the lake where a small picnic basket sat unobtrusively among the abundant grass. "I stumbled upon it freshman year after my grandfather died."

Rory settled down beside him on the blanket he spread for them. Crossing her legs, Rory accepted the cup of coffee he handed to her, scrutinizing him with a close gaze.

"So why did you bring me here?"

Her response was a shrug as he fiddled with the silver ring encircling his middle finger. Glancing up at her through lowered lashes, Tristan gazed into her inquisitive eyes.

"I don't know. I guess…" He trailed off as the words failed him, and Rory cocked an eyebrow. The Tristan Dugrey she knew so well had never been bashful about anything. That particular emotion seemed to be lost against the bevy he held in his extensive repertoire. He always possessed a certain gift with the spoken word, able to twist and turn statements with ease, most of the time contorting an innocent declaration into one with lewd innuendos. This stammering, awkward Tristan was new to Rory, and something had to be going on for Tristan to be at a loss of words.

Rory's brow furrowed as she leaned closer to the man who held the title of her former bane of existence, her voice heavy with concern.

"Tristan, are you okay?"

His Adam's apple bobbed as he swallowed heavily, refusing to meet her gaze. Anxiously running a hand through his hair, Tristan cleared his throat. "Look, Rory, we've known each other since high school and have been friends since we've re-met." His fingers once again twisted the ring around his middle finger, a gesture Rory had come to associate as one of his occasional nervous tics.

"And…we've gone on a few dates as…well, more than friends." Tristan exhaled deeply, mustering up his courage. "So, I was wondering…" Rory noticed his hand still on the silver ring gracing his finger, realizing he wasn't just playing with the band, but actually attempting to take it off. With one final tug, Tristan succeeded in sliding the ring off his finger before offering it out to her.

"Will you be my girlfriend?"

Rory stared at the piece of jewelry resting in his large palm. Shocked, her cornflower eyes shot up to meet his navy ones, befuddled by the uncharacteristic sincere sheen glowing beneath the depths.

"What is this, Grease? Are you gonna offer me the ring so you can get in my pants?"

Tristan rolled his eyes, "I'd think you'd give me a bit more credit to think up something more original than resorting to stealing off of a movie."

Still slightly dumbfounded, Rory crossed her arms over her chest, stubbornly staring at the man across from her, so different than the boy she had known in high school. "I'm not wearing your ring, Tristan."

Tristan huffed out a deep sigh of irritation, "Great, of all your times to break out your neo-feminist side, you pick now?"

"I'm not going to let you brand me with that stupid ring, Tristan. Not when it obviously means so much to you since you've worn it every single day that I've known you." Rory pointed out.

Tristan smirked, seeing her doubt begin to wane away as her face softened. "You mean more, Rory. That's why I'm entrusting you with it."

Her arms still crossed over her chest, Rory glared at him with complete resolution. "I'm not wearing that ring, Tristan."

Frustratedly throwing his hands in the air, Tristan shook his head. "Dammit, forget the ring! I want to be with you, Rory! How hard is that to understand?"

Rory stared, "You want to be with me?"

Once again, his famous grin worked its way across his face, "For someone so goddamn smart, you can be so imperceptive. I've wanted to be with you since sophomore year in high school. Ever since you've barged into my life, nothing has ever been the same. And I don't care. All I know is that I was never given a chance in high school, and now that we're in college, hell if I'm going to screw up my second chance to show you who I am and who I can be."

Rory sat absolutely befuddled at his admission, unable to form a coherent sentence aside from a few surprised squeaks. Tristan leaned in closer, her mouth inches from hers as she nervously licked her bottom lip.

"So what do you say, Gilmore? Be with me?"

He was so close, his mouth hovering over hers, his warm breath spanning over her lips with such invitation. She wanted this. Wanted him. If only he would bridge that gap between them. "Well, with such an impassioned statement, how can I say no?"

Tristan only chuckled, a beautiful, sonorous sound that rumbled intimately through his throat. "You can't. That's part of my charm."

Rory could only sigh in satisfaction as his lips lowered to hers the emotions sparked across the brisk afternoon air and neither could disregard the rush of passion that hurtled through their enjoined bodies as each let an involuntary shudder ripped through them. Pulling Rory even tighter against his body, Tristan deepened the kiss, his tongue slipping between her pliant lips as her small hands clutched the fabric of his shirt. As they parted, Rory let a whimper escape from her lips, and Tristan forehead came to rest gently on hers, his eyes closed in incredulous delight. As his eyelids parted, treating him with an eyeful of a pair of stunningly sapphire spheres, Tristan could only smile in uninhibited glee, unable to voice the sensations streaming through his psyche.

Tristan Dugrey was in the middle of a kiss with Rory Gilmore when he realized that she was finally his. The thought had occurred to him as she eagerly returned his embrace, branding him as her own for the entire world to see, kissing him with the same fervor he had witnessed that fateful day of the never-to-be-mentioned-again PJ Harvey debacle. The years he had spent pining after her had finally come full circle, beginning with their reconnection sophomore year at Yale. The first time he had seen her wandering the illustrious halls, he had done a double take. From his memory, he was sure she was Harvard-bound, dead-set on donning the crimson to be a…well, Crimson. But, as she explained over coffee, the close proximity to her mother had allowed the Crimsons transformed to navy and became the Bulldog.

As she had changed at Chilton, he had changed in military school. Months of relentless drill sergeants shoving discipline and etiquette down the throat would do that to a bitter, pretentious boy. He emerged from military school a more humbled version of himself, aware of his own stupidity. And in coming to Yale, Tristan was determined to start fresh, really make something of himself. The moment he reconnected with Rory Gilmore, that same determination showed, inadvertently charming her in a way he had never achieved in high school. They had become friends. True friends. But beneath that friendship had always lingered a sexual tension that had been present in high school, laid dormant during the inopportune respite of his years in military school, and had recently sparked anew with their reconnection. Tristan had never been one for patience, but with an impulsive urge, he took the step forward to cross the boundary that separated them from just being friends to something more. And that was the day that began everything.

- - -

Rory Gilmore sighed as her mother and Luke rotated around the dance floor, lost in each other, the gold bands of their commitment prominently displayed on the third finger of each left hand. Everything that could possibly happen, Luke Danes and Lorelai Gilmore had finally become Mr. and Mrs. Luke Danes. The wedding was gorgeous, a nice blend of a lavish Hartford spectacle and an intimate Stars Hollow celebration and, surprisingly, had gone off without a grand fiasco worthy of front page news in the gossip columns or heady talk at the next DAR meeting.

Rory glanced to the side as Tristan slid into the seat beside her. Reclining against the backrest, Tristan flung an arm around the back of her seat.

"Well, this went off without the compulsory drama."

Rory smiled, leaning against him as he drew her closer in his embrace, "Huh. This is Hartford. It's only the reception and the champagne hasn't even been broken out for that long. I'd give it another ten minutes."

Tristan chuckled, "Oh ye of little faith. Look: my mother and Miss Patty are talking about Broadway, your grandparents and Michel are discussing the insurance policy for the inn, and my grandfather and Kirk have been talking about the cultural value of baseball for fifteen minutes." Running his fingers up and down Rory's bare arm, Tristan pressed a kiss to her temple.

"Forget about everything, Ror. Look at your mom. How happy does she look?"

Obliging, Rory watched as her mother broke into a small smile, her forehead dropping down to Luke's shoulder as they shared a private joke. As the elder Lorelai raised her gaze up to her new husband's, a glow of absolute adoration graced her face. For his part, Luke couldn't keep his own grin from spreading across his perpetually gruff features, his cheek, free of stubble, coming down to rest against Lorelai's.

"Yeah, she does look happy." A guilty look crossing her face, Rory diverted her eyes in a different direction, her posture stiffening slightly. "I just wish all this awkwardness would go away."

Frowning in confusion, Tristan followed her gaze to a scowling visage, the devil-may-care attitude splayed across the accompanying face. Nodding his comprehension, Tristan shook his head.

"Did you really think he would miss this wedding? He is Luke's nephew."

"I know." Rory sighed, "I…just wish that I could go up to him. We left things so tense the last time I saw him."

"You were with Dean and he asked you to go away with him." Tristan finished. "Well, thank God you refused." Bolting up from his seat, Tristan straightened out his tuxedo jacket before gallantly extending a hand.

"Enough talking. Weddings are supposed to be a celebration." Leaning down to her eye level, he smiled. "Dance with me?"

Slipping her hand into his, Rory allowed Tristan to lead her onto the dance floor. Immediately, he drew her into a secure embrace, both arms winding around her waist. Rory sighed in contentment as she lay her head against his shoulder, her eyelids fluttering closed as she relished in his warm hands spanning against the bare skin of her back. She shivered as his lips brushed innocently against the graceful curve where her neck sloped into her shoulder, and she gently nuzzled the soft fabric of his dress shirt, inhaling the musky scent of his light cologne as her fingers played with the fine hair dusting the back of his neck. She resisted the urge to giggle as his warm breath tickled her skin, but that giggle faded as she comprehended the three words mumbled into her neck, her brilliant eyes widening in shock.

"I love you."

Raising her head, Rory met his stormy navy eyes, darkened to a deep indigo that expressed even more than those three words could. Struck mute, she stared up at him, her lips parted in astonishment. His gaze searched hers, gauging her reaction, unsure of the flicker of emotions he saw flashing across her eyes. Tristan opened his mouth to quickly diffuse her assumed discomfort, but before he could speak, she craned her neck upward, stifling whatever apology he had ready with a passionate kiss.

Recovering from his initial surprise, Tristan took control of the embrace, deepening their lip lock as he enveloped Rory tighter into the cocoon of his arms. The surrounding atmosphere melted away into a whirlwind of vague details and muted sounds as his attention focused in on the beautiful girl in his arms, his senses sparked to life with a single action. His tongue sought hers, the faint taste of her lip-gloss teasing his taste buds. His searching fingers stroked the smooth skin of her back, the brisk staccato of their heartbeats pounding between them. The intoxicating scent of her light honeysuckle perfume filled his nostrils, mingling with his subtle cologne. All too soon, the need for oxygen overrode their passionate embrace, and they parted. Tristan lay his forehead against Rory's, their noses brushing in a slow Eskimo kiss. Rory's probing gaze locked onto his as one hand drifted up his chest to gently caress his face. Ghosting a kiss across his lips, Rory craned her neck upward to whisper in his ear.

"I love you, too."

Tristan Dugrey was in the middle of a dance when he realized that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with Rory Gilmore. Maybe it was the atmosphere of the wedding, maybe he was just caught up in the moment, but all he knew was when he saw the light in Luke's eyes as he gazed upon Lorelai, recognizing the palpable shine in the older man's dark eyes as one he treated Rory to on a daily basis, he knew that could be him and Rory one day. Tristan watched as Luke held Lorelai close, one hand curled protectively around her waist, the other holding their entwined hands to his heart, and in his mind, he could see himself and Rory in those same positions, swaying to the music of their song as their loved ones celebrated. Maybe it was cheesy, maybe it was clichéd, but he found that whenever he looked into Rory's brilliant blue eyes shining with her innate innocence that never seemed to fade, he saw his future with her.

In the past, Tristan Dugrey would have never settled down. He would have taken a beautiful trophy wife, the result of a convenient business arrangement and entertained himself with various mistresses on the side. But that was until Rory Gilmore. He could see himself settling down with her in a picturesque house, complete with a white picket fence. He could see them growing old together while their children forged lives of their own, building their success with the dual elements of his charm and her studious nature. With every day that passed that he and Rory shared together, Tristan thanked whatever higher power had given him this second chance with her. He had seen her with her boyfriends before: Bag Boy and that Jess guy but had witnessed them screw up, leaving her high and dry. But as Tristan held her close, dancing to some ridiculously cheesy love song, he felt a sudden determination to be the last lover in Rory's life. And damn if he was going to let her go.

- - -

"I DON'T BELIEVE THIS!"

Tristan paced the small living room, his expression harried and his appearance more unkempt than normal. As he angrily ran both hands through his hair, he whirled, anger blazing beneath the depths of his navy eyes as he glared into an identically irate gaze.

"You're breaking up with me." It wasn't a question. As the brilliant cobalt stare simply acknowledged his statement with a slight twitch of the mouth, Tristan threw his hands up skyward, appealing to the heavens.

"So you're just going to throw away five years of a relationship? Just like that?"

Rory's arms refused to budge from their crossed position over her chest. "Seems that way. You act like I don't have a legitimate reason."

Tristan bristled at her flippant tone. "What legitimate reason?" He growled, whirling to face his girlfriend, currently extremely pissed off.

Rory simply squared up to him, her nose inches from his, the ire sparking within her eyes. "I understand you have a job, Tristan. I understand it is very demanding. Hell, I even understand you and I won't get that much time together, but I don't expect you to show up half an hour late for our five-year anniversary that you promised me after two blown dates you would attend!"

Tristan's face contorted into an expression of utmost frustration as he gesticulated wildly in his exasperation. "Look, I forgot something and I…"

"You forgot something?" Rory interjected, unable to contain her incredulity. "That's your excuse? You're Yale-educated, dipwad! You're brain is practically conditioned to talking your way out of any situation and you're excuse is that? That you forgot something? What could you have possibly forgotten that would make you half an hour late?"

"I don't know." Tristan retorted, his hands flailing dramatically, "Maybe your engagement ring?"
At his admission, Rory's breath caught in her throat. He knees buckled beneath the surprise at his impromptu confession, and she sat down hard on the couch conveniently behind her. Raising bemused eyes to her boyfriend, Rory's brow wrinkled as she appraised him from his standing position.

"Wh-what did you say?"

Tristan huffed out an infuriated sigh as he shoved his hands in his pockets, scuffing one dress shoe against the rug in frustration as he diverted his eyes to the ground.

"Dammit, this wasn't the way I had it planned." Came the mumbled response. Finally raising pleading eyes to his girlfriend, Tristan shrugged.

"I was late because I forgot to pick up your ring from the jewelers. I was gonna ask you something and preferred easing into it with classic charm and grace." Tristan scoffed to himself, "But nothing ever goes as planned with us. So I guess now's a pretty good time…"

Falling to one knee, Tristan fished into his pockets before producing a small velvet box. Popping the lid, he presented the contents to Rory with a flourish, his cheeky grin firmly affixed on his face.

"Marry me?"

Rory blanched at the two simple words, her lips parted in astonishment. As the question processed in her mind, her face contorted into an expression of annoyance. Scowling, she lashed out, thumping Tristan hard in the chest.

"OW!" Recoiling, Tristan turned shocked eyes in her direction. "What the hell was that for!"

Rory only smacked him again, "You idiot!"

"What?" Tristan demanded, still confused at her reaction, "What the hell did I do now?"

Rory hit him hard on the shoulder, "I'm supposed to be mad at you!"

"Oh, so this is my fault?" Tristan challenged, rubbing the spot where she had struck him last.

"Yes!" Rory insisted, "You're supposed to say something stupid, not propose! I can't stay mad at you if you do that!"

Tristan smirked as her words washed over him, his face softening into a blatant expression of unbridled affection. "Does that mean you accept?"

Rory pouted, crossing her arms over her chest as an insolent child would, her begrudging tone underlined with love. "Of course I do."

Tristan's face broke into a stunning smile as he whooped with glee. Sweeping her into his arms, he twirled her around before setting her back down on her feet. Slipping the ring onto her finger, Tristan captured her lips in a torrid kiss, pouring every ounce of passion and joy into the gesture. As they parted, Tristan allowed his lips to spread in a special smile, one he only reserved for Rory, as he gently caressed her cheek with the pad of his thumb.

"You do get this means you'll have to put up with me for the rest of our lives, don't you?"

Rory smiled, her fingers playing with the fine hair at the nape of his neck, "I don't know how we'll do it. We drive each other insane."

Tristan nuzzled her neck, his wandering lips hitting the spot behind her ear. "We managed five years of it."

Rory sighed, laying her head against his chest, "I don't get how you do it."

Tristan stroked her brunette hair, his fingers sifting through the soft strands, "Do what?"

"Do something completely idiotic that makes me go absolutely mad and then turn around and make me fall in love with you all over again." Rory answered, her head tilting up to meet his eyes.

Tristan chuckled, his arms securely wound around her waist. "Ah, babe, you know if I told you that secret, you might use it against me…"

Rory brought his forehead down to rest against hers, sighing heavily, "I hate you."

Tristan smirked, "It's what makes the make-up sex so great. You know that."

Rory returned his smirk, "Speaking of…"

Tristan frowned, "Um, I don't recall technically breaking up, Rory."

"So…?" Rory smiled beatifically, backing into their bedroom, "Your point?"

Tristan Dugrey was in the middle of an argument when he proposed to Rory Gilmore. He had it all planned out in his mind: a candlelit dinner, soft whispers of love and affection, a moonlit stroll across the boardwalk until they reached the gardens. Then he would position her by the balcony, facing outward against the gleaming shine of the moon. He would hold her in his arms, mustering up every ounce of his courage before turning to face her, professing his complete and utter devotion in a speech that showcased the extent of his eloquence, charm, and charisma. She would stand, befuddled and speechless as he dropped down to a knee, his eyes shining with the complete vestiges of his passion before asking her to marry him. That's how it was supposed to be. At least, that was how he had planned it in his head. But Tristan had come to realize that with a Gilmore, nothing went according to the pre-disposed plan. It hadn't gone that way when he had asked her out and it didn't go that way now. But Tristan didn't mind, nor could bring himself to care. Rory Gilmore was going to marry him and that suited him just fine.

- - -

Tristan Dugrey collapsed against the mattress, completely spent. Mustering enough energy to move, he threw out an arm, drawing his bride into his embrace. Rory snuggled down into the warm security of his embrace, cuddling into his chest. Pressing a kiss to the top of her head, Tristan played with the hand tiptoeing across his chest, brushing the platinum wedding band and its diamond mate encircling the third finger. Rory smiled, her head fitting perfectly into the curve of his shoulder.

"When did you know?"

A chuckle shook his chest as Tristan gazed down at the brunette head just below his line of vision. "That's a bit of an ambiguous question, babe. You're gonna have to narrow it down for me."

Rory tilted her head back, her eyes alight with happiness. "When did you figure out you were in love with me?"

Tristan only shot out his patented smirk, "I cannot fix on the hour, or the spot, or the words, which laid the foundation. It is too long ago. I was in the middle before I knew that I had begun."

Rory buried her face into the crook of his neck, pressing a kiss to his pulse point. "I don't think Jane Austen would appreciate you stealing her work."

Tristan shrugged, the one corner of his mouth that always seemed to raise up in her presence quirking even higher as he brushed his lips over her forehead in a gesture of utmost affection, one hand gesticulating dismissively.

"We have enough money. Bring it on."

Rory giggled, caught up in the giddy sensation he induced. Tristan's arms drew tighter around her naked frame.

"You know, I could ask you the same thing."

Rory dipped her head down, sighing into his chest. "I don't know, either. But I realized I was in love with you at Luke and Mom's wedding." A slight blush tinged her cheeks.

"I could see us in their positions."

Tristan cocked his head, gazing down at her, "Funny. I thought the same thing."

Rory leaned up, her lips ghosting over his. "Look at you, stealing Jane Austen's words and now stealing my thoughts? What happened to the suave, debonair Tristan Dugrey?"

Tristan only grinned. "Well, Darcy did say it best and look where he ended up…"

Tristan Dugrey was in the middle of post-coital bliss when he realized that it was official. The woman beside him was no longer Rory Gilmore anymore, she was Rory Dugrey and that day was the beginning of the rest of their lives. There was no debate necessary, it was simply the truth. Funny how things worked out. Sure, his chance with Rory Gilmore had come a bit later than he would have liked, but the point was, he was her last boyfriend, her last lover, and would be the only husband she would ever want or need. Tristan Dugrey held an assurance with only a few things in his life: 1) a bed was never necessary for sex, 2) coffee was an effective means of collateral, and 3) he was hopelessly in love with Lorelai Leigh Gilmore…and as of twenty four hours and twelve minutes, Lorelai Leigh Dugrey. Fitzwilliam Darcy did have it right: Tristan had no idea the moment that he had begun to love Rory Gilmore, all he knew was that he was in medias res when he realized it. But the thing was, although he never could pinpoint that exact moment when he fell for the beauty from Stars Hollow, one thing was for certain: he would never stop.

Well, there you go. To all that might not understand, in medias res is Latin for "in the middle of things." I hope you all liked this nice piece of fluff amidst the drama that is Who I Am. Once again, I apologize for the wait, life got in the way as well as my tendency to misplace things. I will try my hardest to get the next chapter of Who I Am out as soon as possible. Thank you to all who have faithfully reviewed and dealt with my mini-crisis.

Roxy