"Is love a tender thing? It is too rough, too rude, too boisterous; and it pricks like thorn."

Rory Gilmore had absolutely every right to despise her annoying blond classmate. Aside from the blindingly obvious fact that he had a suffocating conviction of thinking himself a Godsend to women and considered himself brilliant and deserving of hero worship, he was lewd, rude, and promiscuous. Not to mention he shied away from any characteristic that could be deemed emasculating and that he had the power to have almost anything he wanted due to his birth into a well bred and heinously wealthy family. His last name was worth more than anything Rory owned- who would have thought that six letters could actually command bags of cash to come falling out of the sky? He was a jack ass who would not accept the fact that Rory had a boyfriend and was completely uninterested in the blond.

Of course, his latest offence was clearly his inability to keep a promise and keep his obnoxious mouth shut. It wasn't fair that this jerk who she wanted to pummel more often than not had the power to crush her relationship with Dean. At the moment, she was supposed to be completely in love with him. If this was Romeo, dear Lord Rory felt horrible for Juliet.

"What is wrong with you?" Rory had burst out after an excruciating rehearsal scene

"Whoa, I think I liked you better comatose."

"I thought you weren't going to say anything."

"Did I say that?" Could she kill him? Please?

She had every right to hate him and anything she said, he would undoubtedly deserve.

"You make it impossible for anyone to be nice to you! No wonder you had to join our group. Anyone who's actually suffered through the experience of going out with you would absolutely know better," Her comment was scathing but her usually large reserve of patience had officially run out.

He was taunting Dean. She had a right to be angry, as was said. That didn't prevent her from feeling a twinge of regret from saying the harsh words. She wasn't the type of person to lash out at people and she had thought before that Tristan wasn't as obnoxious as he played himself as. This wasn't the time to play therapist to the misunderstood poor little rich boy though and she was not going to let him bulldoze over her.

The words bounced right off of him as his beeper went off, the name on the screen putting a smirk on his features.

"Gee, I really wish we could continue your analysis on how pathetic I am. Unfortunately, I have to meet some friends."

The blond started to turn away. Rory could see Paris zero in on the escapee, and the militant leader of the group started to steamroll over, ready to make sure all of her prisoners were trapped in this Shakespearean hell.

Rory quickly shot Paris a look, shook her head vigorously, and shooed her away with her hand. The other girl narrowed her eyes. Her lips parted indignantly at being ordered to go away and she was poised to yell.

"Stay here or you'll lose your Romeo and Madeline and Louise, who you know are going to sneak away to a party if you don't watch them as carefully as you're watching me!" Rory said before Paris could launch into another of her famous rants. Paris closed her mouth and so the brunette took that as agreement. Turning around, she hastily ran after Tristan who had left the building completely while she was speaking.

She caught him just as he reached his car.

"Tristan! Don't leave."

Tristan paused shortly to glance at the girl. He chuckled to himself, shook his head, and slipped into his car.

"Paris is going to kill you! Not in the metaphorical she'll-be-really-angry-and-will-imagine-you-in-pain kind of kill you but the very literal she'll-stalk-you-and-strangle-you-in-your-sleep kind of kill you." She tried again.

He cocked his head. "Not that a pissed off Paris isn't scary and capable of murder, but I think I can handle myself. Thanks for the safety warning though." He started the ignition.

Panicking, Rory threw open the passenger's side door and sat inside before he could drive away.

"What, you want to come? Paris will love that. Both her leads gone. A Romeo and Juliet production with no Romeo or Juliet. But hey, if this means you're suddenly up for a gang bang-" Tristan pressed down on the gas pedal and started driving.

"God, Tristan, don't! Stop!"

He sighed, registering the note of panic in her voice, and put the car in park though he left the gas running. "In case you've already forgotten, you've already lectured me at school. Your mom routine's getting old."

"This is fifty percent of our grade, you can't just leave. If you really don't care about your own grades at least think about the other five people you'll ruin."

Fixing his blue eyes on her, Tristan tsked. "Mary, you should know that if anything you say can actually make me want to stay, talking about school isn't going to be the winning argument. If you want me to refrain from driving away, how about you stop feeding me bull shit and give me a legitimate reason?"

"Which friends are you riding off to see?" Rory asked, "It's Bowman and Duncan, isn't it?"


"You're better than this! They're-"

"Beneath me? Again, we did the whole you're smarter than this routine. It didn't exactly make me tear up last time. Can we hurry this along? I don't want to be late."

"What changed, Tristan?" She stared at him until he looked at her. He was startled to see the sincere concern in her expression.

"Oh please. You can't act all concerned after just yelling at me five minutes ago." Mock pouting, he added, "You sure know how to confuse a boy. Next time, we could just skip the fight and go straight to the make-up sex if that's what you're after."

"What changed?" Stubbornly, Rory refused to let the question drop unanswered.

"What do you mean?"

"You didn't associate with Duncan and Bowman before. Madeline said you guys were suddenly inseparable when the year started. How come?"

He hesitated, trying to gauge whether or not he should just tell her. Deciding against it, he rolled his eyes. "Go back inside. It's not like any of this is your business. You can't sit here and tell me how to live my life when you seriously know nothing about me. Who do you think you are, anyways, Gilmore? You're not my girlfriend, you're not my friend, we're barely on decent terms half the time. So why don't you save yourself some time and get out. Take your self righteous holier-than-thou attitude with you."

Tristan leaned over the girl and opened her door for her. Rory refused to back down. She took hold of his arm to get his attention and astutely made sure her temper was in check before saying anything. "Maybe I want to know you. You keep saying I don't know who you are, well why don't you tell me then? And if we're not friends that's completely your fault, not mine. I try to get to know you and all you do is laugh at me and cover up any substance you may have by hitting on me."

His face hardened and he ripped his arm out of her grasp, leaning away from her. "I'm not going to sit here and tell my life's story to someone who hates me."

Surprise flickered on Rory's features and the twinge of guilt she felt earlier returned with a spasm. Instantly contrite, she softly apologized, head slightly bowed. "I… didn't mean for you to hear that."

"No, you only thought I was half deaf then? You shouted it out in the courtyard when you knew I was right behind you. But that's right, you were blinded by your love for Bag Boy."

"I don't hate you. I don't hate anyone. If you weren't such a jerk, I wouldn't mind you. I mean, that night at Madeline's party, you actually acted human for once. And I liked that part of you. If I didn't, I wouldn't have kissed you after all, right?"

"Just get out," Tristan sighed in frustration. "I'm late."

"No!" The brunette exclaimed, crossing her arms. "I won't leave until you agree to go back inside."

"Fine. I'll go in."

She snorted. "Do you think I'm an idiot? Just tell me why you've been so close with Duncan and Bowman."

His patience had officially run out. Staring straight ahead, honesty finally poured from his lips in an angry growl. "Let's look at the situation, shall we? Summer kicked me to the curb, as you so kindly put it. She did it in front of half the school- the important half of the school. I'd officially run through most of the girls to date at Chilton and surprise surprise almost all of the girls there now hate me. I may still be head of the school in title, if only for Daddy's name, but no one respects me as much as they did pre-Summer. Either people talk trash about me behind my back about what a jack ass I am, or they laugh at how pathetic it was to be dumped so publicly. So excuse me if I realized that all my dumb ass friends had back stabbed me and the only ones left standing were people I used to blow off. So I hang out with Duncan and Bowman. If they're lacking class at least they're upfront about it. I had changed but not after meeting Duncan and Bowman. I had changed long before that. How else can I explain the pathetic way I handled the Summer relationship? Had I been like I was, I would have dumped her ass the moment she started being a bitch. I would have dumped her when she still wanted me and I'd still be reining King. I should have been the one to put down the most popular girl in school but she beat me to the punch. So I had to change again. I had gone soft. And maybe, just maybe, I don't really give a shit that Duncan and Bowman are getting us all caught. What is there to stay in school for, anyway?"

Rory touched his shoulder compassionately as his rant winded down. "She meant a lot to you, didn't she? Summer is the reason for all of this? You're still not over her."

Tristan looked upwards and laughed hollowly. "Oh my God. You have to be the single most oblivious person I have ever had the misfortune to meet."

Rory blinked in confusion. "But… this is about her, isn't it? All of this for a girl. You're self destructing because some idiot girl rejected you. And I feel bad for that, I do, but well I meant what I said that night- Summer's an idiot for doing that to you."

"Rory. Honestly. Yeah, maybe I am like this partially because some idiot girl rejected me but it's not because Summer did. And you can't bring up what you said from that night to make me feel better, you yourself said that night was a huge mistake that meant nothing, and you wished it didn't happen. Everything about me is a mistake that you'd like to forget, I get that, and I'm not going to let myself be your little pity fix-it project." Tristan clenched his jaw, still staring ahead.

"The kiss didn't mean anything, I would've thought you regretted it as well, and you're not a pity project! If not Summer, then who? What other girl-"

"You. Fucking moron. You. I didn't regret the kiss because come on I've been trying for ages to get you to go out with me, and hey I thought maybe we had a connection. Maybe you didn't despise me. Of course, kissing me makes you break down in tears and you count it as one huge gaping regret while I thought it was a break through. So get the hell out of my car, you're the last person I want to be talking to."

She shifted uncomfortably in her seat. "Don't pretend like you actually liked me, you were only interested because I wasn't. Thrill of the chase. A conquest."

"It wasn't like that." Tristan lowly said, his hands gripping the wheel of the car rather tightly. "Not that it matters."

"Then why did you have to act like a four year old with a crush? You might as well have pulled my hair and thrown mud in my face. I mean, it's called growing up. You liked me so you were a jerk to me, was that supposed to make me like you?" The girl tried to cover up her surprise with anger.

"I wasn't about to get mocked by the entire school because new girl Mary took pity on me and gave me the friend talk, which I know would've happened had I tried any other tactic. And I don't do the whole sentimental sensitive crap and I wasn't about to start just for you."


"I only dated Paris because you asked me to. Then you attacked me for not being into her because I WAS INTO YOU. I didn't think anyone could be so thick but whatever. You've got Bag Boy waiting and I hope you've realized by now that I'm not going back inside that damned studio."

Rory was still trying to register all this new information. Smiling slightly, she made a light comment to counter the heavy honesty. "See? I like this side of you. You're not such a one-dimensional jerk."

"It was obvious to the entire population except you that I liked you in a layers-y kind of way. It's you who chose to see me as the one-dimensional jerk. Are you going to leave anytime soon?"

"Can you promise me that you'll stop being so infantile all the time now that I know the truth? I mean, I'm not going to exploit your glimpses of humanity and make fun of you for it."

"If you don't get your ass out of my car in ten seconds, I'm driving anyways. So you had better get out- I'm not going to stop this time and you'll just have to tag along to whatever crime-filled hijinks I get into. You could get a black mark on your record." He mockingly said, ignoring her comment. "Not to mention Bag Boy's head'll explode if he gets wind of it."

"So you really actually like-like me, huh?" Rory grinned, slowly getting over her surprised speechlessness.


"I'm not making fun of you!" She quickly laughed.

"Oh yeah because this is the sound of you being sympathetic."

"I just find it sweet that I happen to bring out your vulnerability."

"You wanna shut up now?"

"You're blushing."

"If you tell anyone about this, I'll kill you." Tristan hissed.

"Maybe I'll just be insufferable and hint at it to the most influential people in your life and see how you react. I mean, your definition of keeping a promise to not tell Dean anything wasn't funny."

"Bag Boy is such an overprotective prick. What you see in him-"

"He doesn't make me feel like a piece of meat."

Tristan smirked, "And I do?"

"I don't like being around you."


"I don't like it because of the way I am around you. Somehow, you get under my skin and I get so angry."

"Some people call that passion, honey."

A slight pause, and then, "I know." He briefly glanced at her before fixing his gaze outside once again.

She decided it was time to tease him again. "So… was your like for me a crush type thing? Was there bad poetry involved?"

"Drunken ramblings, actually." He rolled his eyes.

"So was this like a past tense thing or is it still prevalent?"

Tristan had finally had enough of this. The look on his face answered her question for her. "Thanks for using my words against me. You gonna shut up about this eventually?"

"It's just hard for me to understand this. I'm not anything like the girls you usually go for."

"Which is why I liked you so damn much, Mary." Tristan exhaled. "You were different. Better somehow than anyone else I had ever known. Something pure."

She was rather touched by that. "I wish you would've shown me that line of thinking. You always treated me like I was an object."

"I tried not to. The tickets to that inane concert, that was my half step towards trying to be less of a dick. Which is of course the day you screamed that you hated me."

"I'm sorry… I really am."

"If you give me the we're better as friends speech, my head's going to explode." He sullenly said.

"I wasn't going to." Rory answered softly. She was looking at him peculiarly and it was worrying him.

"You have ten seconds to get out. I've warned you and I'm going to start counting soon."


"Ten. Nine. Eight-"


"Seven. Six. Five seconds left to leave, Gilmore. Four-"

"Stop counting!" She exasperatedly demanded.

His eyes glinted as he still refused to look at her. "I'm not going to sit here and be ridiculed anymore. I still care too much about you for God knows why to sit through any more."

"I wasn't trying to-"

The blond ignored her attempt at explaining and continued counting. "Three. Two-"

"Oh, for the love of-!" Rory blurted out. Her fingers latched onto the fabric of his shirt and she cut him off mid-count with a searing kiss that caught him off guard, startling him completely.

Releasing him forcefully and leaving both of them breathless, Rory leaned slightly back and loudly said, "I was trying to find a good moment to that, but you rushed me!"

Shock was still covering his expression. "No tears this time?"

"No regret, either."

The shock passed and in a fluid motion, he had reached over to cup her face with his hands and to pull her closer to him, his lips brushing against hers once more. His lips parted and his tongue flickered across her lips, a pleased smile forming on his face as she responded by parting her own lips to let his tongue enter. She leaned further into him and he could feel the body heat radiating from her small frame and next moment her hands had tangled in his hair.

Fifteen minutes later, the two of them rested against their seats, faces flushed and breathing heavily.

"Wow." She commented.

"Holy crap." He agreed with a smile.

A loud shriek destroyed their moment. "WHERE THE HELL ARE MY ROMEO AND JULIET?"

They looked at each other, eyes wide. "Paris!"

"Fuck, she's going to kill us."

"You're going in?"

"Well, I'm all practiced and ready to kiss Juliet on her deathbed now." He grinned. "Just try not to kiss me back. I know it'll be hard to stay stoic, but I'll do my best to keep my charms to a minimum."

Rory laughed and whacked his arm, getting out of the car. Just before they reached the entrance to the studio, Rory stopped walking which meant Tristan all but ran into her.

She whipped around and kissed him again.

At his questioning look, she answered with a cheeky grin, "What? I'm not going to be allowed to respond to the next one."

Shaking his head, the pair walked back in with identical smiles on their faces.

Needless to say, military school was not in Tristan's future anymore and Paris wasn't forced to sub in as Romeo, saving the audience (and Rory) from the scarring image of the absolute least romantic person in existence playing a renowned lover. The Chilton King would remain at Chilton, his reign lasting until graduation, signature smirk in place.

She didn't turn him into a whipped sentimentalist and he didn't corrupt her purity. But somehow, Bible Boy and his Mary managed to make it work.