AN: This started out as a military school story, but then the ending completely turned into it's own story and so I spilt up the first half, to be written and expanded upon as its own fic later on. This jumps around a bit as the plot bunny just attacked me. I hope you guys like this. And if you do like it enough to story alert/ author alert / fav story it, could you review? 'Cause reviews make me happier than is normal, haha. To all the people who've reviewed for my other Trories: I love you all, this is the best fandom to write for :)
"I would kiss you good bye but your boyfriend's watching."
It seemed like everything I did or wanted to do did nothing but disrupt her life. But I was gone now. Military school. Brilliant in that my old friends forgot about me, my parents lied to me, and the first girl I really liked sincerely never did get to see I wasn't half bad. Really. But I wouldn't be forcing myself into her life anymore, I had caused enough issues as it were. But the second I get out of here... God, I don't even know what I want to do once I get out aside from actually making her see that I'm not selfish-scum-of-the-universe. But time changes everything and I knew that things were different now.
In the next ten years of my life, the flashes of the most important things in my life would pass by me and I would realize that nothing was important except for who was with you.
Sometimes the best moments in life are just that- moments. Brief. Over too soon. Infrequent. You wish so desperately for it to have gone on longer but you start to realize that extending a moment for the sake of prolonging it defeats the memorable beauty that moment caused. You'll destroy it if you try to expand it. So don't push your luck.
That's why I keep my moments brief. Long enough to be remembered, fast enough to have them wishing I'd stay just a little bit longer. I'll always come back. I can't stay away. And somehow the moments people love so much, well, we've managed to re-create it time and again.
Even though my parents are tight asses who've really tightened their rein on me of late, I finally coerced them into letting me visit the school on one of my rare weekends home.
I walked up to the front steps just as the bell rang for class change and glanced through the flurry of faces, recognizing many of them. Clenching my fist, I took a step back. This wasn't my school any more. These people weren't my friends. I didn't usually feel out of place, my charisma working wonders in any situation, but I did now.
My eyes rested on a certain brunette for just a moment and I felt a jolt of surprise run through me. She was in a deep conversation with Paris until the other girl swerved into a class room, leaving her alone as she walked. I opened my mouth to say her name, my hand pushing the door handle slightly as I almost walked in. I let my hand fall and shut my mouth, and Rory slipped into a classroom directly across from me without even looking at me.
I didn't visit the school after that. There was no point. However, I did make it inside one last time in my life time and it wasn't long after. My parent's hadn't taken me out of military school but truth be told I stopped asking. I sucked it up and my grad came at the beginning of June, exiling me from my makeshift reversion camp.
I knew that the other school would be graduating two weeks after mine. Since I was released and at home for as long as I wanted to be now, what with my having turned eighteen a few weeks ago, I figured there would be no better entrance than to walk in on their graduation. If I wanted to see them all again, I really wouldn't have many other chances.
So I found myself looking up at the carved entrance and walking up the steps I once knew so well. Everything about the building seemed more polished, more luxurious, but still as if it belonged in another lifetime.
After bumping into some administration, I seated myself at a chair near the centre outside and waited for the rite of passage for so many of my old classmates.
Several people noticed me, which resulted in the following surprised raised eyebrows, a mouthing of 'Tristan?', and a grin accompanied with a wave. By the looks on their faces you'd have thought I was coming back from the dead.
I crossed my arms as I waited for the recitation of the names of the graduating class. Paris was called and I couldn't help but grin at the sight of her, she hadn't changed a bit. Naturally, Gilmore was next and I seriously am telling the truth when I say that it was out of my physical control that I let out a mocking cat call.
Her head whipped around and I allowed a natural, genuine smile to appear on my face as her eyes brightened with instant recognition. There wasn't any sarcasm or malice in my acknowledgment of her and I wanted to convey that I had been joking so I tipped my head towards her in a friendly gesture. She continued her walk to the stage and I continued to watch her, despite the dirty looks being sent my way now.
I stuck around for a few minutes after the ceremony mainly because I couldn't get away. People kept coming up to me, attacking me with greetings.
Paris walked up to me and without warning she slapped her arm against my upper body with surprising strength. "We got an 80 on the project." She chided as though it had been the night before that the play had taken place.
This was why I missed that girl. "Hello, Paris, I've missed you too." I rolled my eyes before falling into a smirk. "Congratulations on graduating. Off to Harvard, I bet?"
She bristled, "Yale."
"I'm sure it was that play that did it. Harvard doesn't accept people who get 80s on Shakespeare." I mocked teasingly. At her look, I held up my hands. "Hey. Harvard's way overrated."
Rory suddenly materialized in front of me and I received another whack. "Christ!" I yelped. "An 80 is not the end of the world!"
She frowned. "What are you talking about? That was for catcalling in the middle of my walk to the stage!"
"Couldn't miss your graduation, now could I?"
"Why, because you never made it to your own?" Rory easily retorted.
I smiled. "Graduated with honours two weeks ago."
She paused and eyed me over before stating speculatively, "You've changed." Her eyes lingered on my hair. It hadn't been shaved since before I left school so it was developing into a short buzz cut. And then the serious expression fell away and she beamed. "You look good, Tristan."
"I promise I'm not a big ass hole any more."
"I don't doubt that. I'm glad you came." She sounded almost fond and looked as though she wanted to hug me or something. I spotted Bag Boy making a beeline for us, his eyes narrowed possessively. I didn't want a scene on her grad day.
"Have a nice life, Mary." I softly told her before leaning in to kiss her cheek.
"Are you coming to the aftergrad?" Someone asked me. I shook my head and took that as a sign to leave. This wasn't my school and it wasn't my graduation. I touched Rory's shoulder briefly and then I turned away and disappeared before any one else could bombard me. Things had changed and I wasn't prepared to see the extent of that change.
Four years later, I can't explain why, I found myself once again sitting in the centre, watching that same brunette graduate. High school had long passed and now university was over with too. It was weird to see how quickly things went by.
I couldn't help myself. I cat called as her name was called.
She turned again and deep surprise hit her features as she recognized me. Shaking her head with amusement, she smiled before continuing her walk.
"You came." She said to me afterwards. Her smile faded as she hit my arm. "You catcalled! In front of everyone!"
"Couldn't miss your graduation, could I?" I chuckled.
"Why, because you never made it to your own?" She grinned, immediately recognizing my words.
"Graduated from Stanford two days ago."
"You've changed." She seemed proud almost. She looked me over, her eyes lingering on my hair. I had grown it out since my shaved days and it was spiked a little haphazardly. "You look good."
I spotted a vaguely familiar blond heading in our direction, his eyes flickering towards the two of us. Boyfriend alert. I didn't want a scene, not on her grad day.
I leaned in and kissed her cheek lightly, squeezing her shoulder. "Have a nice life, Mary."
Five years later, I don't know why, I was seated in the middle of a crowded room, watching the brunette get called up in celebration of her having just secured the editorial position to a major paper.
I cat called. She looked at me and delight hit her features, a giggle escaping her lips before she turned back to the podium.
A hard thwack connected with my arm later that night. "Everyone who will be working for me heard you cat call!"
"Couldn't miss your big promotion, could I?" I tilted my head in amusement.
"Why, because you never made it to your own?"
"Got bumped to executive partner last month." I replied with a smile.
"You've changed." Her voice was impressed. She looked over every detail of my appearance, pausing momentarily at my hair. It was now neater with a gelled sleekness.
I noticed an unfamiliar man walking over, his eyes trained on Rory with a look that spelled 'romantically involved'.
I didn't want a scene. Not on her promotion day.
Leaning in, I kissed her cheek. "Have a nice life, Mary." She closed her eyes as my hand brushed against her bare shoulder.
Two and a half years later, I still can't explain why, I found myself in the centre of a cemetery at the funeral of one Richard Gilmore.
She walked up to do the eulogy, her eyes going wide when she noticed me. I mimed a cat call, provoking a minute smile to appear briefly on her face.
After the ceremony, she hit my arm. "You made me smile expecting a catcall." The brunette had saddened eyes.
"Couldn't not be there for your grandfather's funeral, could I?" I said sympathetically.
"Why, because you never made it to your own?"
"Died almost two years ago." I lowly told her.
"You've changed." It was a firm statement filled with gratification. She stared at my suit and her eyes flickered once more to my hair, partially as an excuse to look away…so she could hold herself together.
I noticed a man walking over, sombre and protective. Significant other alert. I didn't want a scene. Not at her granddad's funeral.
I kissed her cheek. "Have a nice life, Mary." I patted her shoulder comfortingly and I could have sworn she leaned into me.
Eight months later, I've given up on understanding why, I found myself in the centre of a crowd of people outside the building of the paper in which the brunette worked. She was stepping down as editor after a series of scandalous factual errors that had caused a health frenzy.
As she walked up to explain why she was leaving and to take full responsibility, I catcalled.
She met my eyes and I could feel her pain as she delivered the announcement.
Afterwards, she punched my side. "Everyone I used to work with thinks I'm a piece of meat, thanks to your catcalling."
"Couldn't not be there for the dumb asses who're forcing you to quit for a mistake that wasn't yours to make."
She smiled and answered, "Why, because you never made it to yours?"
"My partner's been blaming me for his errors for the past two months."
"You've changed." She smiled, meaning it as a compliment.
A man. There's always a man. No scene.
I kissed her cheek. "Have a nice life, Mary." I touched her shoulder and left.
Three weeks passed and I was in the centre of an auditorium declaring the opening of the Rory Gilmore Astronomy Building on the Yale grounds. I found it hilarious that timid little Mary now had her own building, but I heard that it was something her grandparents had been quite set on doing for her.
She was called up to cut the ribbon. I catcalled. She looked over and surprise was no longer present in her features. She nodded at me impishly and cut the ribbon.
A punch on my arm commenced. "My grandmother finds your cat calls really demeaning."
"Couldn't miss your opening to your very first building."
"Why because you never made it to yours?" She rolled her eyes.
"The Tristan Dugrey business tower was opened the week I was born." I drolly replied.
A man came near.
I kissed her cheek. "Have a nice life, Mary."
Four months went by and I was seated in the middle of yet another cemetery watching the funeral of Lane Kim.
She did the eulogy. Again.
She saw me before I could open my mouth and she did a silent catcall at me in greeting before continuing on. She looked defeated.
"You made me catcall." She said, lightly whacking my shoulder.
"Couldn't not be here for your best friend's funeral."
"Why, because you weren't there for your own?"
"My best friend was my brother, who died when I was fourteen."
"You've changed." Rory's eyes were overflowing with tears that she was trying stupidly not to show. She looked into my eyes searchingly.
A man was approaching.
I leaned in to kiss her on the cheek. "Have a nice life, Mary." I touched her shoulder but before I could turn away, she fell into my arms. I caught her, though surprised, and supported her with my own arms.
She sobbed into my chest. "She's gone, Tristan. She's gone! I'm not having a nice life, she's gone!"
I smoothed away her tears. "You will make it through this. And your life has only just begun, Mary."
She looked like she wanted to do something but her man had come.
A year went by and I know exactly why I paused outside of the meadow at the edge of the beach that would house a wedding. The wedding of my brunette to a faceless man who pointlessly interrupted every interaction I had with her in the last decade. Okay, so it had clearly not had been the same guy who had interrupted me every time, but he represented the same thing in my mind as he was the 'boyfriend' who always made me leave.
I hesitated just as I did that day I visited Chilton. She wasn't my girl, she never was and I had to stop showing up to her events.
A very large part of me planned to go sit in the centre and cat call as she made her way to the altar, timing it just for when the music stopped. I saw it so clearly, how she'd come to me and it would all work out.
It was unreal how close I was to losing her. I was so mad at myself for how close I had been to stopping it all. I had no right to even show up. This was crossing the line, wasn't it?
I couldn't do it. If she loved the guy, she deserved a perfect wedding without her annoying high school classmate bugging her and ruining her day.
I didn't think I should do anything this time- it wasn't my place, not now that she was getting married.
I wanted to make a noise, to say something. I wanted to stop my brunette from doing this. But who was I to say anything? I had barely been in her life at all and we weren't even friends.
I sighed and stayed where I was, at the very fringe of the area. Close enough to hear the ceremony, too far to see or be seen.
The wedding march music came on and she looked spectacular. She looked at her fiancée with something less than love in her eyes. Truth be told, the girl was terrified. She looked around in the audience, her eyes trained on the centre. The final note of the song ended as she reached the front and her shoulders slumped as she couldn't find what she had been looking for. The reality of the fact that she had been waiting for that something to stop her wedding made her realize how wrong this really was.
What she did next shocked the audience. Looking down at her flowers after realizing whatever it was she had looked for wasn't there; she managed to croak out, "I can't do this." Rory forced herself to look at her fiancée and said with absolute sincerity, "I am so, so sorry to do this to you, to do this in this way, but I can't. I just can't. I'm not in love with you and I think you know that. I'm sorry."
The pastor, the fiancée, and her mother all started talking at once but it would fail to convince her to stay. Hitching her long dress up, she ran away.
My mouth fell open. I was just as shocked as everyone else seemed to be.
I recovered as she ran closer and closer to me. She looked like she was about to cry. As she reached the exit, she slowed to a trudge, weary and disheartened.
I figured this would be the time to catcall.
She looked up to glare but then she saw me and hope filled her face.
All at once she was running again, her princess-like dress flowing freely behind her as she collided her fists into me.
"That's for making me think you weren't going to show up. I waited for you in there!" She exclaimed, the tears actually falling now. "I was hoping you'd come."
"Couldn't miss your wedding day, could I?"
"Why, because you never made it to yours?" She managed.
"Got married a couple of years ago, actually." I breezed. Rory's mouth fell open and she looked shocked and utterly hurt by that so I quickly threw in my grin to show I was kidding. "No, Mary, I haven't been in a serious relationship in years."
"You haven't changed at all. You're exactly as I remember." She stated, still crying though she laughed through it.
People were coming. Her fiancée was coming.
I leaned in to kiss her cheek. "Have a nice life?"
She yanked at my shirt to stop me from leaving and wrapped her arms around me in a tight hug. "You're not getting away that quickly, Tristan."
As we pulled away, I had to ask. "Why didn't you marry him?"
"Because I never could stop thinking about you since I saw you at high school graduation. Because there's only really ever been one man in my heart for the past decade. Because you were there for every major thing in my life for the last ten years… And you're the only one who's been there for me through everything. Because you never once tried to wedge yourself in my life, you were just there to let me know you still cared."
"Mar, why're you crying?" I brushed her hair back.
"I half agreed to the wedding just because I hoped I would see you again. I didn't want to wait for another funeral." Rory sniffed. "Would it have killed you to leave a contact number?"
"I would've kissed you each and every time if your boyfriends hadn't been watching." I grinned.
"Tristan, don't you get it?" She laughed. "I don't care about any of them, so kiss me already, we've waited ten years." And slipping her arms around my neck, she crushed her lips against mine.
She looked me over and smiled. "I've wanted to do this every time we've seen each other." Flicking her eyes at my hair, she tangled her fingers in it and kissed me again.
Insecurely, she blurted. "Tristan, you do… you were to stop the wedding, weren't you? You do… want me? Why didn't you stop it?"
I laughed again. "Mar, I've been in love with you since the tenth grade. I just didn't want to kiss you until I was sure you wouldn't pull away crying." Chuffing her chin, I commented, "And you see why? You're crying."
"These are good tears, you idiot." She grinned, slipping her hand into mine as if she'd been doing it for a lifetime.
"I hope you're this receptive the next time I see you in a wedding dress." I joked.
Rory shook her head. "The next time I'm in a wedding dress, it damned well better be for our wedding." At my startled look, she finished, "What? You're gonna semi-stalk me for a decade and then say you weren't serious about wanting me? Is that it Bible Boy?"
"I just never thought I'd get you. Mary, finally not shoving me away. It's miraculous."
"Are you ever going to learn my name? I haven't been a Mary for a long time."
"Rory, you're always going to be my Mary."
Tristan Dugrey had popped up at every milestone in my adult life. He had been there for my graduations, the funerals of my loved ones, job promotions, job firings, and he even came through for my wedding day. His presence comforted me with the realization that he would always be there for me- and he expected nothing in return, not even companionship, not even friendship. He had been there for me through everything. When I stopped to think about whom in my life I really cared about, who had been my true friends, his face swam into view even though I can't ever say we were friends. We saw each other infrequently and he never stayed long, we always went through the same routine. To break that routine would be to risk breaking the spell that promised me he would keep showing up in my life. But as I realized that he was one of the constants in my life, he was one of the people I looked forward to seeing the most, I realized too that I was in love with him.
He had shown me that he had changed from his high school persona and that he was capable of being truly there for me. Constant and reliable were not things I could have attributed to him before but I relied on him for support in ways that shocked me. His presence could make me feel better where nothing else could. And I found myself wishing for more life affirming occasions if only to see his face again, if only to take in his almost angelic stature, watching over me.
It was him I wanted and every guy I had been with was just a stand in until the next time I saw him. He waited until I was ready for him with absolutely no word on ever wanting anything from me.
His stupid catcall had turned into something signature of his that I would wait for, anticipate with excitement.
When I was about to get married and ran off, the catcall was just the cherry on top of a bad day. I thought it was some bastard hitting on the deranged runaway bride. It took only a quarter of a second for me to recognize the voice and the sound. And suddenly I was just so crushingly happy that I finally knew he had been what I had been waiting for all these years.
I never thought I could care so much about someone I knew so little but whenever I tried to think of the ideal man, his face persistently popped up. I didn't want to marry because no one was good enough. It took me so long to realize the love of my life had been in my life for years and the half realized image was the image of him.
He was always there.
And I knew that I would break if it were any other way.