MASKS
Part One

AUTHOR'S NOTE: I don't own Gilmore Girls, but this is an original story idea. If there's a story out there like mine, it's coincidental. This is a future fic. And also, thanks a bunch to Sar (aka wonder) for being such a wonderful beta reader! This fic is dedicated to you!




Rory Gilmore stared at the unfamiliar women staring back at her in the mirror. The mask that she wore covered her eyes and changed the shape of her mouth. She lifted a finger and traced the pale blue sparkles that outlined the snowy white mask. It was real. She was actually going to a masked ball. She couldn't believe it. The Ivy League schools had decided to once again host a gathering. Rory didn't even know why she was going. She had always prided herself over the fact that she was studious and she didn't like company. However, now she was going to attend an event where matchmaking was evident. After all the events in her life, she needed a night of no commitments.

She once again stared at her reflection. Her soft, dark hair had been let loose, a tiara graced the top of her head. The neckline of her fancy blue and white dress plunged low, revealing more then usual. The dress hugged her waist and immediately flared out, the floaty material kissing the floor. She smiled. She was ready.

Taking one last look at the mirror, she was about to turn away and walk out the door when she spotted her bare neck. She frowned and rummaged through her jewelry box. She lifted a delicate silver necklace and smiled. It was the perfect finishing touch. The cool metal caressed her skin as she put it on. She smiled in satisfaction. Picking up her purse, she turned around and went out the door. She was going to have fun at this masked ball, as silly as she thought it would be. Maybe she would even meet Prince Charming.


***


Tristan Dugrey stood at the top of the stairs to the ballroom in disdain. His lips twisted into an amused smirk as he observed the mulitudes of people below him. This event was a joke. Why he came, he had no idea. He could get his own dates, he didn't need a mask. However, he was bored with the girls at Princeton. He had already dated most of them, and he found them as amusing as sitting in a chair. He wanted to find that connection, that spark he had felt only once before. He thought he should give it a chance, and even if he didn't succeed, he didn't care. One more girl wouldn't make difference with his track record. So he had come to the ball. If he met someone there, at least his parents would approve. Someone who attended an Ivy League school would be worthy of their only son. A Dugrey musn't marry someone of a lower class. Everyone was high class here.

He rolled his eyes, feeling a bit self conscious as he descended down the steps. He felt stupid in his tuxedo with tails, and his white mask that accentuated his cheekbones and firm lips. Straightening his shoulders, he scanned the room for his victim like a graceful predator hunting for his prey.

His stomach growled and he sighed. Did every other player feel hungry as he searched for his victim? Tristan knew he wasn't really a player, but he always felt like one. He just liked the dating game, and he wanted to try to make that connection. That was the whole point wasn't it? That's what lonely people do, they're always looking for a connection. Tristan felt his stomach growl again, and he rolled his eyes. First stop, refreshment table.


***


Rory sipped her cocktail, her eyes roaming the crowd. She stood near the refreshment table, not quite ready to mingle just yet. She felt apprehensive about the fact that she could be talking to anyone. She didn't know the person behind the mask. She thought that tonight would be the night where she could be someone else, someone that would be bold and agressive. The person she wished she could be sometimes.

A couple of men had already asked her to dance, but she had politely refused. She was suspicious, she didn't want to be dancing with a maniacal freak who might have just slipped into the ballroom. It was possible. The security wasn't that tough to break through. Anybody could have swiped a student id, with the mask, it was difficult to be truly identified.

So she had refused four invitations. It was the safe thing to do. She couldn't understand how any girl would give her consent to a total stranger, even if it was only one dance.

She glanced over to the other people crowding over the refreshment table. Most of them were other young women, obviously wary of the prospect of mingling with strangers. There were only about seven young men at the table. Three of them were going from lady to lady, asking for one dance. Most of the ladies refused, but after a couple of tries, they consented. They must have been weak, to give in so easily. Rory would have never given in, one reply was enough, and you shouldn't back down or cave.

Rory turned her attention to the males around the table. Three of them were obviously the outcasts. They were overweight, had the glasses, and had been eating non-stop since the beginning of the ball. Of course, they had the mannerisms that would even make her grandmother proud. However, one young man in particular caught her attention.

The expertly tailored tuxedo screamed money. He wasn't on a scholarship, that was evident. He didn't seem like an outcast. Even from a reasonable distance, Rory could see that he was in good shape. His blond hair was tousled, his cheekbones sculpted to perfection. He fit the stereotypical description of a rich boy to a T. His lips were curved into an amused smirk, his eyes alert. He looked like a hunter, looking for his prey. Or in this matter, a cocky Ivy League boy looking for another conquest.

He reminded her of him.

Rory had never liked Tristan Dugrey very much. He was too self-centered and smug. The only time he was bearable was the short time after that kiss. He had seemed like a good ally, for his attitude had changed. She could still vividly remember their conversations in that brief period of time that they had been friends. He just had to ruin that perfectly good friendship by asking her out on a date. It would have been perfectly harmless to have accepted, but she still had feelings for Dean, so she refused. After that, they went back to their ferocious bantering and fiery arguments.

She would never forget Tristan Dugrey. He was as unforgettable as Dean was to her. Dean had been her first boyfriend, she had experienced her first kiss with him, he had been many of her firsts. You never forget your first, that's what everybody says. That's why she never forget Tristan.

Before that, nobody had brought out that passionate side of her. He was the one who had brought out her wit, her ability to banter. He was the first one to really, truly annoy her. He was the first person to totally puzzle her and surprise her. Without him, she wouldn't have decided to study criminal justice. How could she forget someone like him?

The young man Rory had been watching caught her gaze. Rory mentally scolded herself, she didn't mean to stare. Rory glared at him, and averted her gaze. She coolly resumed sipping her cocktail, her eyes darting around and observing the people.


***


Tristan smirked. Even when he was masked, he still oozed massive appeal. He rolled his eyes as the girl who had been watching him turned away. She acted uninterested as she sipped her cocktail, but Tristan could tell that she was frazzled. She seemed like the kind of girl who would die before she was caught staring at a boy.

Unless her upper face features were scarred, this girl was extremely pretty. Even from a distance he could tell her eyes were a beautiful blue. They were like perfect, deep sapphires, which contrasted against her sleek, chestnut brown hair. Her lips were the colour of rose blossoms, curved into a smile of amusement. She seemed to be observing everyone, just like he had been doing a few moments earlier. Now he was just watching her.

Another young man in a navy suit had just asked her something, a dance most likely. He almost laughed at the expression on her face. His deduction had been correct. She didn't know what she was doing here. She was afraid of not knowing. She was suspicious of their intentions, and the person behind the mask. He saw the young man nod and walk away. Of course she had rejected him. He had found his conquest for the night.


***


"No thank you." Rory answered to the young man who had asked her to dance. She didn't give a reason, she just said it. She wasn't in the mood for a babbling spree. She took another sip of her cocktail, only to find it empty. Had she drank that much already? It didn't feel like it. She felt someone's gaze on her, and she turned around, only to meet his gaze. He had a classic smirk on his face, and she could tell he was amused. She turned away once again, she knew that if she kept making eye contact, he would soon come over. She sighed in frustration. She shouldn't have come.

"If you want to talk to me that badly, maybe you should have the guts to come up to me instead of just staring," a male voice said in a seductive whisper beside her ear, "Didn't your mother teach you not to stare?"

Rory jumped slightly, whirling around and furthering the distance between them, she looked at him disdainfully, "I wasn't staring."

He smirked, "Your eyes were fixitated on me. I don't know what you would call that."

Rory rolled her eyes, two could play the game of bantering, "I saw something in your teeth."

His smile flickered, but it remained, "Maybe you could show me where."

"No thank you," she said primly.

He laughed, showing off his perfectly white teeth, "I know I don't have anything stuck in my teeth. The only thing I've digested was a cookie and a glass of punch."

Rory chose not to respond. He would tire out soon, and move onto his next victim. She knew his type. Of course, Tristan had kept bugging her until he did get a response. Rory hoped that he was not that type of guy.

"I think for that, you owe me a dance," he said with a small chuckle.

Rory stole a glance at him. She wanted to put him in his place, "No thank you."

Rory expected him to leave, but he didn't. This one was a stubborn one. Rory waited for him to speak, and it took him a couple of moments before he broke the silence between them. "What's your major?" he asked.

"Criminal Justice. You?" Rory asked. That instant, she regretted asking the question back. She had just given him consent to have a conversation.

From the cocky smile on his face, he knew what she was thinking. "Political science," he answered back casually, "School?"

"Harvard." Rory said, her voice neutral and disinterested. Inside, she was burning with curiousity. From her days at Chilton, she had learned to master the facade that everyone had perfected by that time.

"Princeton," he said, answering a silent question. After a beat of silence he asked, "What's your name?"

"Do you want an alias or the one on my birth certificate?" Rory asked saucily.

"Either one will do," he answered simply. His smothering blue eyes staring right into hers. Blue on Blue. Rory felt as if he was looking into her soul.

Rory found it a bit hard to breath, "Mary." She said. The alias slipped out like water running over stones in a bubbling brook. This person reminded her so much of Tristan, that she couldn't help it.

His eyes danced with amusement, and he grinned, "John."

Rory could tell from the way he said it that John wasn't his real name. "I can see that you know that's just an alias," he whispered, "Like I can tell that yours is an alias as well."

"Oh, now you just know things about me?" She retorted.

"More then you know," he said with a grin.

"Then enlighten me," she said sarcastically.

He smiled, and gently took her hand in his. His strong, tan hands nearly swallowing her delicate ones. Rory froze. She never thought that it was possible to feel that spark with just one touch. She calmed down, and put on that neutral expression once more. He didn't notice her slip. "You have ink stains on the sides of your pinkie fingers. That tells me you're studious."

Rory was shocked by his skill of observation. She pulled her hand away from his grip and looked at her fingers, "I do, don't I?"

"It was one of the first things I noticed about you," he said charmingly.

"Really?" she asked in amusement.

"That, and your eyes," he said.

"My eyes?" Rory asked.

"You have beautiful eyes," he said, lowering his voice. Rory's breath caught in her throat. He smiled, "They're like perfect sapphires."

Rory shook her head, "You must be experienced."

"What makes you say that?" he said, his eyes were laughing.

"You know the buttons to push. If I was just a regular girl, I would have been won over." Rory said, "But I'm not your regular girl."

"I can see that you're not," he said smoothly, "Tell me about your lifestyle growing up."

"Are you sure you can't tell by just looking at me?" she joked. Her lips curving up into a slight smile.

"My powers of deduction aren't as powerful as those of Sherlock Holmes," he said with a smirk, "Or I would have majored in forensic science."

She smiled, she could feel herself letting down her guard. "I didn't grow up as rich."

"So you're on a scholarship," he deduced.

"Yes," Rory said, "How about you?"

"No," he said with a shrug, "I could of gotten one I suppose. I was 5th in the class, but I didn't bother applying for one."

"I see." Rory murmured.

"My parents had the money. We were one of the most prominent family in the society. I didn't want to take away any of the scholarship money of a more unprivileged student," he said.

"How gracious of you." Rory said. There was a tinge of sarcasm in her voice, but she thought it was pretty nice of him.

There was a long moment of silence. A quick song started over the speakers, and his smile grew brighter, "May I have this dance, Mary?"

Rory flushed. Should she dance with this man who reminded her so much of her high school nemesis? She pondered over the situation, she could feel his eyes on her. After a long moment, she smiled and looked at him directly in the eye, "Yes."


To Be Continued...