Disclaimer: I don't own 'em. They belong to Amy Sherman Palladino.

Pairing: R/T

Rating: PG-13

Spoilers: Set after Run Away Little Boy and spoilers for upcoming episodes in Season 2. From what I've heard.

A/N: Hey guys, this is just something I thought I needed to do to get back into the Trory-groove. How many of you guys miss, Tristan? This is how I want him to come back. Well not entirely like this. Please leave me some feedback - I live for it.

Thus With A Kiss, I Die

Tristan DuGrey leaned against the railing of the small bridge and stared at his hazy, rippling reflection in the sparkling water below. The sun shown brightly above and the air was warm enough to make it a picture-perfect summer day. He pushed off the railing and took in a deep breath, filling his lungs in with fresh air. Closing his eyes, he welcomed the serenity this secluded place of the illustrious Hartford Country Club had to offer. He never thought he'd be happy to be back in Hartford.

"Hey, I know you."

His eyes fluttered open and he turned his head sideways when he recognized the familiar voice. A pair of beautiful blue eyes regarded him with a wisp of mirth and recognition. Slightly surprised he took in her chocolate brown hair, soft, half smile and pocketed his hands in his trousers. His lips curved into a grin and he lifted one shoulder in a careless shrug. "Who around here doesn't?"

Her blue eyes twinkled with amusement and she made a clicking sound with her tongue. "Strangely, I find comfort in the fact that you haven't changed, Tristan."

As stupid and pathetic as it sounded, he missed the way she said his name. He liked seeing her in this environment – the calm and relaxed atmosphere of the Country Club with just a tinge of arrogance, lest someone should forgot that they were among the richest of Hartford. He figured she wouldn't fit in but he should have known better. She looked like she was enjoying herself. Finally, he gave her a genuine smile. "It's good to see you too, Mary."

"I sure didn't miss being called that," she said without the slightest bit of animosity in her voice. In fact, she was smiling. She never smiled that much. Not in his presence at least. From experience, he knew that something was off. "And I never said anything about it being good to see you, DuGrey."

He grinned at her and then faked a wounded expression. "You're breaking my heart, Mary."

Rory let out a small giggle and leaned her back against the railing and folded her arms in over her chest. She arched an eyebrow in his direction. "Aren't you supposed to be in North Carolina doing push-ups or something?"

Wincing at the mention of his hellhole military school, he decided it was best to avoid answering the question. Instead, he opted for the defensive route. "Aren't you supposed to be in Stars Hollow with stock boy Dean doing God knows what?"

"I asked first."

He nodded then shrugged. "It's summer."

"I see," she said slowly. "I thought the military was strict about vacations and stuff like that." She smiled sweetly. "I thought you'd never get out."

"Funny," he retorted. He leaned against the railing again, propping his elbow on either side. "What can I say? The DuGrey name comes in handy at times."

"I bet," she scoffed and then stared out into the distance over at the main building of the club where people were buzzing with activity. They stood in companionable silence for a minute and he took that time to ponder the reason she was so relaxed and civil to him. "So did you smooth things over with your dad?"

He cleared his throat and shifted his position, feeling increasingly uncomfortable with the direction their conversation was headed. His father was a sensitive subject and the fact that he really wanted to spill his guts out to Rory about it attributed to his discomfort. Again, he remained elusive. "Ah-ah! You never answered my question. Why aren't you spending your summer days with your lapdog?"

"You're so infuriating, Tristan," she replied a hint of her fiery temper sparking in her eyes. He grinned, glad that he was evoking some of her spunk. He missed being able to make her mad. Muttering something incomprehensible under her breath, she sighed. "Dean is in Stars Hollow. I'm here with my grandparents and my mother. I needed to get away from them."

Tristan looked at funny. "I thought you and your mother were tight."

"We are," she replied nodding slightly. "It's just when she gets together with her mother that I wish I weren't born. Ever wonder if you're adopted?"

He let out a mirthless chuckle. "All the time."

She smiled at him and he motioned for her to join him in a stroll. After another minute of unbelievably comfortable and pleasant silence, Rory exploded with another question. "So really, how is military school?"

He gave an evasive shrug but decided to give her an answer that would stop all questions about the current state of his life. He wanted to get away from any reminders of that place and enjoy being home. "Like I said, I'm a big boy. I deal."

She looked at him oddly but continued walking beside him. "Did you figure out why you did what you did? With Duncan and Bowman?"

"What's with the twenty questions?"

She was taken aback by his tone. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have pried. It's just that you did almost ruin our little act that night."

He chuckled. "Oh yeah, what did you guys do?"

Rory's eyes widened a bit but she managed to keep a straight face. "Paris played Romeo." In Tristan's mind, he imagined Paris Gellar dressed as Romeo, drinking poison and delivering his lines. His shoulders shook with laughter and Rory joined him. "Stop! It wasn't funny."

"Oh I bet it was," he said in between chuckles. "I would have paid good money to see you and Paris make out."

Her eyes widened in shock. "Pervert. She never kissed me. It would have been too traumatic."

"For everyone there, I'm sure," he said his chuckles subsiding but the smile still plastered across his face. "So what other wacky hi-jinks have you been up to, Mary? Or did you miss me so much that life was just mind-numbingly boring and unworthy?"

"Oh right, I missed the endless teasing and unwanted and might I add lewd, sexual innuendo tremendously. How I managed, I don't know." She grabbed his arm and turned her wide blue eyes at him. "Please Tristan, don't ever leave me again."

Grinning, he brushed his knuckles over her cheek. He ignored the incessant voice in his head that was reminding him that he wanted to kiss her and continued with the charade. "I knew you missed me, Mary."

"Like I miss fungus," she retorted and he tried not to let it get to him. She slipped away from him and continued on the small path in front of them almost effortlessly.

Tristan had to remind himself that she was not into him. And probably never would be. He sighed, ran a hand through his hair and followed her. He couldn't believe that his was still as hooked up on her, as he had been when he had left for North Carolina. If she would ever get out of his heart and mind, he didn't know.

When he caught up with her again, he pocketed his hands. "Do you play golf?"

She looked at him with what could only be described as a 'duh' expression. "Is Shwarzenegger hard to spell?"

"So what do you say? You and me? One on one?"

She clapped her hands gleefully. "You're on!" As they rushed over to the Club again to get their golf clubs and caddies, Rory prattled on about her glory days of golf. "You are so going to lose, Tristan."

"Rory Gilmore with a competitive edge," Tristan said shaking his head. "Who would have thunk it?"

"Tristan DuGrey, saying my name right," she countered as she crouched to the floor to tighten her shoelaces. "Do wonders ever cease?"

Smiling the two of them headed out for the greens. As their cart stopped near the first hole, Rory dashed out eagerly and then slipped on her visor. Shaking his head and wondering why the heavens were smiling down on him, he strolled over to her. She was busy placing the small golf ball onto the tee. "Your anxiousness and determination to beat me is really starting to scare me. Have you been hanging around Paris a lot?"

She gave him a look. "Yes, Paris and I are friends. Well, sort of. We still fight about everything under the sun, so I don't know what we are. Are you trying to distract me from the game, DuGrey?"

He swung his club over his shoulder and squinted his eyes under the sun. "You catch on quickly, Mary."

She made a face and then focused on her game again. As she deliberated on how to hit the ball, Tristan watched her with tinge of amusement and appreciation. She was still as beautiful as he remembered, still odd and quirky but that only added to her appeal. As she leaned over slightly, he bent his head to her slim and beautifully tanned legs that ended where her modest shorts started. Her hair hung over her shoulders and she kept pushing it back. Smiling, he dropped his club, strolled up behind her and gently lifted her hair off her back. She immediately straightened and he felt her tense. "What are you doing?"

"Making it easy for you to play," he replied smoothly and made small circles with his fingers on the back of her neck. "You wouldn't happen to have something to tie your hair would you?"

Her arm skimmed against his as he dug into her shorts for a barrette. Absently, she handed it over to him over her shoulder. "Would you…?"

"My pleasure," he replied softly and quickly pinned the clip in her hair and stepped away, seemingly unaffected. Clearing his throat discreetly he pocketed his hands. "So really, how've you been?"

She lined her club to the tee. "I've been okay."

"Just okay?"

" Yeah." She hit the ball, sending it across a considerable span of grass. It landed a few centimeters away from the whole. She smiled triumphantly.

He ignored her and bent over to pick up his club. "Why?"

"Why do you want to know?"

"Because the Rory Gilmore I knew would rather spend her summer days with her tall, motorcycle riding boyfriend then playing golf with me," Tristan replied as he placed his golf ball on the tee. "Although, I'm sure you're enjoying this more."

She smiled at him witheringly. "You're full of it, Tristan."

He grinned. "No seriously, why are you just okay?"

"I've had a lot on my mind."

"Such as?" Tristan swung and sent the ball flying. It landed near hers.

"I have this friend, Jess," she started as the walked towards the first hole.

"Short for Jessica?"

"No Jess, just Jess. He's a guy."

Tristan nodded slowly, registering the information. "Oh."

"He's a nice guy and I like him. Dean doesn't like him. And he doesn't like Dean." Rory explained as they stopped near the hole. She assessed the position of her ball.

"I like this guy already," Tristan piped up with a smirk.

She shot him a look. "Anyway, it's this big mess. Dean is angry with me. I'm angry with him. Jess has gone home to mother for the summer. Every thing is tense and awkward at home because my mom doesn't like Jess. And Jess is Luke's nephew and my mom likes Luke. So Luke and my mom are fighting."

"About you and Jess?"

Rory looked away guiltily. "Jess and I got into a car accident."

Tristan widened his eyes in surprise and concern. "Are you okay?"

She looked at him oddly but then just nodded. "I'm fine. But my mom freaked out. She and Luke are all weird around each other now."

He let out a low whistle. "Wow, that's dramatic. So you escaped to The Hartford Country Club? Wow, it really must be bad."

She looked offended. "I like spending time with my grandparents. And you're one to talk. After all, you're here too aren't you?"

"Ah," he said with a shrug. "But I came here from a hellhole military school in North Carolina."

"Point taken," she agreed. Then she arched her eyebrow, almost apologetically. "Is it really that bad?"

Tristan grimaced and then held her gaze. "Yes. It's really that bad."

"I'm sorry."

"It's not your fault."

"I know," she replied with a small smile. "But I'm still sorry. I missed you."

His heart flipped in his chest but he ignored it. Instead he scoffed. "Yeah, right."

She grinned. "Just play, DuGrey."

For the next one and a half hours, they did just that.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

Rory had never laughed so hard in her life. Tristan had just finished telling her about his days at military school and all the mishaps and hardships he faced and was now talking about a dorky boy he knew that slept on the bunk above him. "Aw that's just rich."

"It isn't funny Mary," he retorted as the sat across from each other at one of the tables in the Country Club's restaurant. He had beaten her at golf and she had wanted a re-match. So then they played table tennis and although he told her that he let her win, she knew that she had the upper hand. "Edwin is making my life miserable. He follows me around like a dog and it's irritating. The other guys are starting to think I'm gay."

Rory guffawed. "It isn't much of a change from the Chilton hallways. Instead of having a girl trail you around, it's a guy. You need to expand your horizons, Tristan."

His jaw dropped. "Rory, did you just tell me that I should consider being gay?"

She giggled and nodded. He threw his napkin at her. She threw hers back. "You know, I never thought I'd say this. I'm having a blast, Tristan."

"Well, you are with me, Mary."

"As if you'd let me forget."

"But you know, there are other things we can do to have a blast you know," he raised his eyebrows suggestively.

She rolled her eyes. "You're such a guy."

"Thank you," he responded and leaned back against his chair.

Then she caught sight of her mother and grandparents making their way over. Richard Gilmore smiled as he turned to his daughter and wife. "See, I told you she must have met a boy."

Both Rory and Tristan stood up. Lorelai grinned in the background. "Hey babe, who's the hunk?"

Tristan smiled charmingly and extended his hand in Lorelai's direction. "Tristan DuGrey, ma'am."

"DuGrey?" Emily asked interested.

"He's Janlan's grandson, Emily." Richard shook Tristan's hand. "You were at Rory's party?"

"Yes sir," Tristan replied politely.

"He's a fine young man," Richard announced. "When do we eat?"

Emily smacked her husband playfully on the arm and extended her hand in Tristan's direction. "I'm Emily Gilmore and this is my daughter Lorelai. It's a pleasure to meet you, young man. I didn't know you and Rory were friends."

Tristan threw Rory a grin. "Neither did I, ma'am."

"So you ditched us for him, huh, Ror?" Lorelai asked, delight plain on her face. "And to think you'd rather consort with an enemy than your own family."

"I'm the enemy?" Tristan asked amused, as well.

"The Spawn of Satan," Lorelai confirmed.

"I'm honored."

As Richard and Emily made their way to a table, Lorelai walked past Rory and nudged her. "I like him."

"See," Tristan told Rory as Lorelai walked away. "I knew she'd like me."

Rory laughed. "She's delusional."

After a minute of silence, he looked at his watch and let out a deep breath. "Would you look at the time? I promised my grandfather I'd stop by his office. You'll be fine with your mother, won't you?"

"Somehow, I'll manage," she replied. "I'll walk you to your car."

"How chivalrous of you."

They walked out into the parking lot and he quickly spotted his black BMW. He turned to her with an expectant smile. She smiled back. After a moment of too much smiling, she decided to talk. "I had a good time, Tristan. Really I did."

"Yeah, it was fun watching that look on your face when I beat you," he teased. She slapped him playfully on the arm. He took out his keys and then held her gaze. "It was fun, Mary. So I'll see you around?"

"Yeah," she said and stepped away from his car. He turned around and opened the driver's side door. Rory bit her inner lip contemplating whether or not she wanted to say something else, or do something more. "Hey Tristan?"

He turned around and cocked an eyebrow. "Yeah?"

She took in a deep breath and plunged forward. "You owe me a kiss."

"Excuse me?"

"Yeah," she said rubbing the skin above her right eyebrow. "Before you left you said that you'd kiss me goodbye if Dean wasn't standing there." She looked around the parking lot. "He's not here now."

A slow smile spread across Tristan's face. "You want me to kiss you?"

"You owe me one," she replied nervously. "We never did finish our scene in the play. Doesn't seem fair, does it?"

He nodded and took a step closer. "A dateless bargain to engrossing death! Come, bitter conduct, come, unsavory guide! Thou desperate pilot, now at once run on the dashing rocks thy seasick weary bark!"

"Ah so you did know your lines," she piped in as he stood in front of her. Her stomach was a bundle of knots and she felt like she was going to need to hold on to something for support. "I knew you were just being impossible."

He grinned but continued. "Here's to my love! Oh true apothecary! Thy drugs are quick."

"Tristan…" she said backing away a little, unsure of how she felt about him kissing her again.

"Be quiet," he reprimanded. "You're dead."

"Technically I'm not. I wake up and see you dead and then I kill myself."

"Will you let me finish?"


He grabbed her shoulders gently and titled his head. "And thus with a kiss, I die."

Rory felt like dying as his lips brushed against her in a soft, gentle kiss. She responded moving her lips against his as an image of their first kiss at Madeline's party flashed in her mind. Her heart hammered against her chest and somewhere in the back of her mind she thought about Dean and Jess. He hands came up around Tristan's neck as he deepened the kiss. Sighing, she gave in. Then he broke away.

They stood their panting and staring at each other for a second and then broke out into identical grins. He let her go and she slipped her hands away from his shoulders. She smiled at him. "Thank you."

"The pleasure was all mine," he replied with a smirk. Stepping away from her, he turned and got into his car. He rolled down the window. "Is it okay if I drop by before I leave for Hell again?"

She nodded. "You better."

"Bye Mary."

She shook her head and watched him back his car out of the parking spot. "Bye."