Oneshot Title: It's So Easy
Disclaimer: I own nothing.
Story: Fixed Determinence
A/N: This oneshot is a bonus chapter from my story, Fixed Determinence. You can think of it as Chapter 23 ½ since it takes place the day after Chapter 23: You Can't Put Your Arms Around a Memory.
If you have not read Fixed Determinence, then I recommend that you go read it first; because if you read this and then read the main story, the climax, falling action, and resolution will be spoiled for you. And I'd hate for that to happen. I really can't stop you from reading this if you want to, but there's an excellent chance that it won't make sense without all the background information from the original story. If you haven't already read it, I think you'll enjoy it; so give it a shot. It hasn't been showing up on the main Gilmore Girls page of ever since Chapter 10 because I upped the rating, just so you're aware.
For everyone who has read FD, enjoy this look into Tristan's thought process before Chapter 24.
It's So Easy
Tristan was lying in his bed on Sunday morning with his hands behind his head, staring at the ceiling. It was really early. Even though he hadn't been getting up to practice as early in the summer as he did during the school year, he still woke up before dawn most mornings. Sometimes he'd get up and go to his piano anyway. However, his nieces had been over the night before and he didn't want to wake them. In any case, they'd probably be up in another hour or so. So here he was, all alone, in his large bed. He had trained himself to not look at the empty spot next to him. It wasn't like it used to be filled every morning, anyway. Just some days. And okay, Sunday used to be one of the more regular mornings for it to be occupied.
He was thinking about the conversation he'd had with his brother the day before. Do what you need to do, Matt had told him. Well, what the hell was he supposed to do? Or, rather, what did he need to do? Beg Rory to come back, because he was depressed without her? That didn't sound right. An image of the last episode of Friends came to his mind—Ross running around to more than one airport, to plead for Rachel to stay in New York with him. What was she supposed to do in New York? She had a job waiting for her in Paris, for God's sake. Tristan knew that Rachel showing up at Ross's apartment was supposed to be the feel good moment at the last minute. It's easy to feel good about it when you don't know what happened after that—good or bad.
So what were his options?
As much as it hurt to make Rory go, he still firmly believed that it was the right thing for her to do. She deserved to work for a good paper with a fair editor. He'd even go so far as to say that a job like this was the only reason they'd ever met in the first place. It's why she'd gone to Yale; and Yale—or a school like it—was why she had transferred to Chilton. She deserved to have what she'd worked so hard for. He'd forced her into taking the job and he'd be damned if he was going to ask her to quit now. But he knew she was lonely there; he'd had it on good authority that she still asked about him. And he absolutely knew that he was desolate here.
He tried to remember what his life had been like over a year ago; when he'd been so busy that he believed himself content. Is this what it was like? He wondered. After being with Rory for a year, he now had a higher standard of what content felt like. Now he walked around like a zombie with a terrible empty feeling. Why hadn't he dated much over the years? He was pretty busy; however, he could make the time if he really wanted, as he'd found out. Was it because he hadn't wanted to waste time with girls who he knew weren't 'the one'? Because he didn't feel like any of his time had been wasted on Rory. Maybe Matt was right; perhaps everything did happen for a reason.
So; did that mean that he needed to go win her back and do the long distance thing? It was at least a twelve hour drive to Detroit and it took even longer by train. He supposed a modern day cross-country romance could be carried out with constant plane rides. But that didn't sound altogether appealing. He'd almost certainly have to go to work for his grandfather to pay for all the plane tickets. And how long would they be able to keep that up? It would undoubtedly be only a matter of time before they started missing each other's calls and playing phone tag. Then one of them would be too busy and have to cancel a planned visit. That all sounded like a tedious mess, which would only lead to disappointment. Besides, he liked how she could pop over to his office for lunch any day of the week. Or how they could just watch television on a Thursday night at one of their apartments; it was often followed up with an activity they could both enjoy. And he didn't think that would be satisfying over Skype. He really didn't even mind bonding with Paris while waiting for Rory to get home. No, long distance definitely wouldn't do.
School would be starting in a few weeks. For him as well as his students. Yale. He was supposed to start classes at Yale soon. He'd taken the time to enroll in classes a few weeks ago. So why did he not care? Probably because he was hundreds of miles away from the person who was supposed to be impressed with Yale. He still needed to earn the doctorate, though, he thought with a sigh. Is that why he was in Connecticut? Because there were plenty of other schools out there, and he'd never cared about the Ivy Leagues before, no matter how prestigious they were. And as long as he was thinking of schools to attend, there were also plenty where he could teach. Plus, parents all over needed piano teachers for their children.
He thought about his family last. Though his immediate family had an element of dysfunction, they'd made it through the wilderness, for the most part. Somehow. He did like living near Matt's family and his grandparents after being away for seven of the last ten years. But his company as of late was apparently less than desirable. What was the point of being near your family if you were just going to bum them out when you were with them? And Matt was right, the DuGreys weren't going anywhere. They'd always be his family and there would always be holidays.
He really did want Rory to be happy; and Lorelai told him earlier this summer that she had been happy with him. Since he had already discarded the notion of asking her to come back; this left him with one option. And if she had the audacity to stay for him, then certainly she was worth. . .
"Of course," he said out loud. "It's so easy."
Tristan got out of bed, put on his glasses, and went across the hall to the guest bedroom; he was careful not to disturb the two sleeping girls in the queen sized bed. He sat down at his desk and moved the computer's mouse to bring it out of hibernation mode. He went to Google Maps and took a look at Michigan. He estimated the distance between Ann Arbor and Detroit. It wasn't too far, so he went to the University of Michigan's website. He clicked on the admissions tab and looked over the information. He wrote down some music department contact numbers and stuck his jump drive into the USB port. He opened the appropriate file and glanced over at the bed. They were still asleep. He turned on the printer and started printing the document containing his dissertation proposal. While the printer was working, he completed the application for admissions. When his print job was complete, he opened a desk drawer and pulled out a large envelope. He grabbed a Sharpie from a cup of pens on the desk and addressed the envelope. He looked up at the CDs that were on a shelf above the computer and took one from the end; it was a copy of his last concert. He put the papers and the CD in the envelope and went to the kitchen.
He sat the envelope on the counter before starting a pot of coffee. Light was beginning to shine through the living room windows. So it would be sunny out today; that seemed like a good omen. He did feel like some dark clouds had lifted. He went back to his bathroom to shave and take a shower. When he was finished and dressed he could hear the television on in the living room. The kids were up. Good, they needed to get ready for church anyway.
The last strains of the recessional song ended as Matthew and Felicity turned around in their pew to look at Tristan. His grandparents, who were next to him, also turned to him.
"You look different," Janlen observed. "I'm not sure what it is, but you look. . . "
"Better," Felicity supplied.
"It's because he doesn't resemble a hobo any more," Matthew told the others. Tristan made a face at him.
"That's what it is," their grandmother agreed. "And you aren't glowering."
"I have bad news for you," Tristan told his brother and sister-in-law. Felicity looked around at the two pews of DuGreys and counted all of her daughters. Tristan looked at her with narrowed eyes, "I didn't lose any of your kids."
"Just checking," she said.
"You're going to need to find a new baby-sitter."
"Because I'm moving," he answered.
"Please tell me it's to Michigan," Matthew asked hopefully. Tristan nodded his head. "Thank God. Don't get me wrong, it's been nice having you around for the past few years, but you've been bringing everyone down this summer."
"Oh, well, sorry I haven't been my usual cheerful self," Tristan said sarcastically.
"When are you leaving?" Felicity asked as they made their way out of the church.
"After I find a house."
"A house, huh?" Matthew asked with raised brows. "That sounds serious."
"Yup," Tristan said, his eyes scanning the horizon when they were outside. "I'll give my private students a month to find new teachers. It will give me time to drop classes at Yale and resign from the university. And I'm sending a recording of my last concert to the University of Michigan, but I still want go there in person. I can look for a place to live when I go."
"Oh, can I go along?" Felicity asked excitedly. "I can help you pick out a house!"
"I guess if it's alright with him," Tristan answered, jerking his head toward his brother.
"I don't need his permission!" she exclaimed, raising a brow at Matthew, who gave her a nod of consent.
"Fine, I'll let you know when I'm going."
"Yes!" Felicity said, pumping her fist Tiger Woods-style.
Lorelai was in the living room on Monday night, sitting on the couch and flipping through a magazine. She turned the page when she heard a knock at the front door. She put the magazine down and got up to answer it. Tristan was on the other side; he grinned pleasantly at her.
"Tristan, what are you doing here?"
"I need to talk to you," he answered. "Can I come in?"
"Oh, sure," she said, moving to let him enter the house. She led him into the kitchen and they sat down at the table. She couldn't help but notice that he didn't look as he had the last time he'd been there. "You look different," she observed as he drummed his hands on the table anxiously.
"Not homeless?" he suggested.
"That's it. So what can I do you for?"
"I need your permission." She raised a brow.
"What would you need my permission for?"
"I need your permission to move to Michigan," he answered. Lorelai smiled slowly.
"Tristan, you're twenty-seven years old, you don't need my permission to do anything."
"Well, I still want it."
"Then you have it," she answered. "When did you decide to do this?"
"Yesterday. At dawn. It still seemed like a good idea today," he explained as Luke walked into the room.
"Hey, Tristan, what are you doing here?"
"He's moving to Michigan," Lorelai told him with a grin.
"Is that right?" Tristan nodded.
"Good. Hey, Lorelai, where's Jeremy? I promised him we'd go to Doose's for ice cream tonight if he ate his vegetables at supper. Did he?"
"Yes, he did; bribery worked. He's in his room, playing with his Lego's."
"Okay, do you guys want anything from the ice cream shop?"
"No, thanks," they both answered. Luke left the room and Lorelai turned back to Tristan.
"So, how do you plan to do this?"
"What do you mean? Today I resigned from my job and mailed my graduate school application to the University of Michigan. I'm gong to fly out next week with my sister-in-law to find a place to live."
"But when are you going to go see Rory? Are you going to call her and tell her that you're moving?" Tristan thought about it.
"I hadn't really thought that far."
"Then you've come to the right place. Let's figure out a plan," Lorelai said happily.
"Okay. I want to be moved before I see her, so it'll be a surprise."
"She'll be coming home for her birthday; is this going to be her present?" Tristan thought some more.
"No, that's not for another two months. How about this: I'm planning to move at the beginning of September. Give me a week or two to get settled and then I'll go see her. Hopefully, I'll be on the plane with her when she comes home."
"That sounds reasonable. And if you're not lucky and she's still upset with you, then you're invited to her birthday. So she'll have to deal with you, even if she doesn't want to."
"It's nice to know that you're so confident in me," he said wryly.
"I'm just being realistic here. She misses you, but she can be hard headed."
"Paris once said that she got that from you,"
"I can't say that I know what you're talking about," Lorelai said haughtily.
"Mm-hmm. Well, I should go; I have things to do," he said, standing up. He stopped and pointed a finger at her. "Do not tell her about this. You have to promise me you won't say anything."
"Okay, I promise. Oh! Before you go," Lorelai said quickly, hurrying over to the closet in the foyer, Tristan followed her. "It's going to be getting cold out in a couple of months. Here," she said, handing over a black sweater. Tristan smiled and took the garment.
"Thanks. Oh, and while I'm here, I should tell you: I have a ring," he said carefully. Lorelai raised a brow in surprise.
"Oh? What kind?"
"The kind you're thinking of. I've had it since last year, sitting in my drawer. I'm not saying that I'm going to walk up to her and whip it out as soon as I see her."
"It's really none of my business what you whip out when you see her."
"How do you always manage to make things inappropriate?"
"It's a gift."
"Well, anyway, I just wanted to let you know."
"Thank you. Do you think you could let me know before you do give it to her?" she asked hopefully. "It'll drive me crazy not knowing."
"Sure. I'll text you before I even think about opening the box."
"That sounds fair. Bye, Tristan," she said as he walked out the door.
"Good night, Lorelai. And thank you."
The following Monday, Felicity was looking around a master bedroom as Tristan walked out of the connecting bathroom.
"This one is nice," she commented.
"It's okay," he answered, indifferently.
"What's wrong with it?"
"It's kind of small."
"There are three bedrooms," she argued.
"Yeah, but I don't want my piano in a second floor bedroom. I'd rather it go downstairs. It needs an extra room. Like a second dinning room or something. This house would work if it had one. The bedrooms are nice. But I also want to put a bunch of book shelves in one of the rooms."
"Like a library?" she asked, looking up at him. He nodded. "You have some books, but you don't have that many."
"Well, I know someone who does have a lot," he answered. She smiled at him.
"What?" he asked as they walked down the stairs to meet the realtor, who was waiting in the kitchen.
"Can I see the ring?" she asked hopefully. He rolled his eyes.
"Swing and a miss; I don't carry it around with me." She pouted a little.
"So, are we going to go see her while we're here?"
"Strike two. I'm not going to see her until after I move. You know that. And no, we're not going to become stalkers, either."
"It was worth a shot." He considered her for a moment.
"We could drive past the Detroit Free Press. Just to see where she works."
"Good, let's go after lunch!"
"We have time to look at one more house before that," he said as they reached the bottom of the stairs.