Title: Longing With a Cherry Tomato on Top | Chapter Ten | Paris and Rory, Leaping Out of the Gate!

Author: Nate

Pairing: Paris/Rory, alternating POVs between Paris and Rory throughout the chapter. Also, the beginnings of allusions towards Madeline/Brad.

Spoilers: Nothing as far as actual show plot, but this would be the Longing version of Let the Games Begin, without the start of the Jess/Rory relationship or Luke's fretting over everything.

Rating: R (swearing, tame sexual actions and dreams, innuendo, indirect homophobia, and light alcohol usage)

Disclaimer: Dorothy Parker Drank Here Productions and Hofflund-Polone run the show and Warner Bros. Television profits from that. Even if Rory's character is ruined and Tristan II...er, I mean Logan ruins the image of our two favorite girls together. Did I mention that Liza Weil is still a regular cast member, not supposed to be playing the second coming of Laverne DeFazio and have wacky antics and pratfalls like getting drunk off punch? Seriously people, use her better next season, even if she does sing an adorable I'm Walking on Sunshine.

Archiving: GilmoreGirlsSlash, Realm of the Shadow, RalSt, femslash.net, aff.net and ff.net. Anywhere else ask first.

Summary: Paris and Rory start their new relationship off beneath the noses of the Chiltonians and the Hollowites, and find ways throughout the school and at home to keep their flame strong.

Author's Notes: Another three months, another 40,000 words, hopefully I did a great job because this chapter was very improv. I have the ideas for everything else in the story, but Raven wanted me to add something in-between the realization And Then She Kissed Me... chapters and their first movements deeper into their love, thus this is what ended up happening. I ended up dealing with at least two aborted plotlines, a dead computer in March, the new computer that replaced it crashing after just five weeks of use, and some of the worst episodes of GG ever while I wrote this chapter. Really people, is there anyone demanding more scenes of Taylor out there?

My usual betas Raven and Cinn were unable to read for this chapter because of things happening in their real lives, so please keep them in your thoughts. They did still receive the chapter in advance however because of their help over the last months in making my story the best that it could be. Hopefully things return to normal for the both of them soon and they'll be able to beta for me again in the very near future.

In their place, Erin Griffin was my beta, and I thank her for taking over the daunting duties on such short notice. Thanks so much for the once-over!

Thanks to Brian and The Raven for their encouragement, and Amy on GGSlash for the nice chats, which I really enjoy when my plots get stuck. I recommend you read her Coalescence series currently on the site, the picture she sets up of a disabled Paris being nursed back to health by Rory is truly wonderful.

I'd also like to wish Liza a happy 28th birthday on Sunday, June 5th! Thanks for another great year of Paris' trials and tribulations, and my fingers are really crossed that you'll be back on the show next year, it certainly wouldn't be the same without you or Paris :)!

Finally, thanks to Lexar for their USB flash JumpDrive Sport that keeps this story backed up almost everyday; without it I may have lost everything I wrote between March 28th and May 7th. Fanfic writers, USB drives are the best thing ever, and having the almost-latest copy of Longing on one after a hard drive failure really saved my butt here. Throw out your floppies and buy one today, they really come in handy!

And to those reading on ff.net, the 10th time should be a charm in telling you that Paris and Rory will be getting more physical in this chapter, so if you don't like, don't read. Please also keep in mind that I accept any criticism, and if you have a question, let me know in a review please.

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Paris' POV, Monday, 7:00pm

"OK Par, you can do this, just stay calm. Day after, first day of the rest of your life, this is going to be easy. She doesn't regret this, so don't think she does."

That was what I was telling myself this morning as I passed the white sign welcoming me back into the village of Stars Hollow, home of the 2002 state champion Minutemen in Division 4 hockey. I was tightly belted into my seat, looking at the clock reading 6:55; I still had five minutes to go before I pulled up in front of that diner that was the favorite haunt of my classmate and vice president.

Not to mention my new girlfriend. I remember getting up this morning and going through my normal routine, all the time thinking about the small things I could do to tell Rory that what I said in that email to her last night before bedtime (and uh, my 'thinking' about her) was true; that I was going to do my damndest to keep her interest in me piqued. I took a couple extra minutes brushing my hair, making sure it was totally smooth and had a golden sheen to it. Another couple minutes spent in the shower and at the vanity, putting on a slight shade of lipcolor, and then one more stop inside the closet. Again, I tried to make myself feel a little more sexy by putting on a bra and panty set that was thinner than usual, along with a bra that lifted instead of flattened for once; a nice lacy light pink set that would feel very nice beneath my clothes. I smiled as I looked myself over, content in my appearance. I couldn't look any better in the uniform, and as I buttoned up the school sweater over the oxford blouse, for the first time it seemed in years, I felt the shirt give tight against my bosom.

Now that, that is the look of a girl in love! My inner vixen projected inside. Finally, thanks to Rory's help and her heated flirting the day before, I felt both confident and sexy. I already noticed a change in my mannerisms this morning as I went through my morning routine. I had always been excited to go to school before that, but kept it bottled up under the guise of being stone cold serious about my education. Other than the academic side of school however, I always loathed the socializing part of Chilton. Having to play babysitter to those in the Franklin of lower IQ, and help those same simpletons get out of high school without having to study a word, it wasn't fun for me. Hell, I'd probably rather be home-schooled, that way I get 100% of my education without all the empty calories of Chilton cliques and classes, or the broom closet interludes.

But then, I wouldn't have Rory at all, and that's a thought I don't want to have to think ever again.

6:25am I left my bedroom, and snuck downstairs, hoping to dodge Mother's line of questioning about my choice of bra for the day. I didn't let her know about my new schedule, so I hoped the 'stranger in your own house' routine would continue strong.

"Miss Gellar, Paris..." I heard some whispering from a corner of the great room as I hit the bottom landing of the grand staircase. I walked towards the sound of the voice, and found our newest night maid, Roberta, dusting some shelves and looking both ways warily. I went over towards her and asked why she called out my name.

"It's safe, she never came home last night."  She may have been new, but Roberta knew going in from the fellow housekeepers from her service that Sharon was a bitch to all the help, and that I usually tried to avoid her as best as I could.

"Not home? Where is she?" I asked, and then rolled my eyes because I already knew the answer. "Mohegan Man's arms?"

She nodded her head. "Called at two in the morning to have me let you know she's staying in San Diego until tomorrow afternoon, apparently the airline refused to board her and her boyfriend because they were drunk and belligerent towards the staff at the Lindbergh United counter, and she really sounded smashed."

I sighed, thankful that I wouldn't have to reface Mother for another day. "Thanks, tell her the usual if she calls, I miss her and Boston was great..."

"Got it, you have a great day Miss Gellar." I thought about giving Rory two rides to and from school, and Mother stuck in California, and already felt like Monday the 11th would be just as good a day in my life as Sunday the 10th. I smiled wide at Roberta, and thanked her.

"It's off to a great start." I headed towards the garage, dumped my messenger bag in the backseat, and pulled out the Manor gate at 6:30am. Right on schedule; life was good.

I found traffic going southbound on the Cross relatively light since most everyone heads inbound into Hartford, and with the radio tuned to a light classical station, found the ride, though slow because of how much I was anticipating picking up Rory and taking her to school, seemed to pass by. Probably had more to do with the guiding speed of 73 everyone else was doing, though truthfully, my speedometer display read 81 for most of the last portion of the trip.

I pulled off the route 26 exit around 6:50, and found myself at the familiar rooster statue a few minutes later, winding around the square's traffic circle a couple times before I found a nice place near the bus stop to pick up Rory across from Luke's diner. I slid into the parking spot lines gracefully, idled the car to park, and then looked across the street towards the former hardware store building on the corner with the wide picture windows painted with the establishment's name in yellow paint.

I wondered to myself if I should go into the diner, but decided against it because I wouldn't purchase anything inside. I was too nervous anyways; I thought I was still regarded as 'that crazy schoolgirl from Hartford' because of the Oppenheimer story, and somehow I doubt that opinion changed even with my zero negative words about the town all Saturday and Sunday when I was here. I also feel guilty if I go into a store and not buy an item; I didn't need anything at Luke's except Rory, thus I didn't have to go in.

Still, I drummed my fingers against the steering wheel, looking into the diner's windows and finding Rory and Lorelai kibitzing with Luke about something. Even from that far away she looked nice; her hair was in a braided ponytail and she seemed to be in a nice mood, as was I. She smiled up at Luke, as she stacked her empty dishes and her orange juice glass atop each other. Luke then handed her a couple of foam cups. Probably both filled with coffee, she's crazy for the stuff, I assumed. I stared at her for two minutes through the window, unnoticed by everyone who happened by my spot. She moved towards the counter, put those cups down, reaching into her backpack to pull out her purse, and in turn some paper currency and handed it to him. He nodded, seemed to thank her, and just after, she was leaving the diner, looking both ways right out to probably locate my car.

My car might blend in a little because of its maroon color, but not so much that Rory didn't find it. She found me just by looking in my direction, and just her blue eyes from afar staring right back at me made my heart palpitate out of rhythm. She ran across the street when there was a break in the traffic, and came around to the passenger's side door as I clicked open the lock to let her in.

Effortlessly, she opened the door and slid into her seat, which after about 55-60 rides was set up to her own specifications. She smiled at me as she threw her backpack into the backseat, and gave me a look that told me she was excited about this new arrangement that we were sharing.

She greeted me with a good morning, and I told her the same as she set the foam cups in the cupholders on the console.

"I bought you some tea, I figured that you might want some as a perk-up to wake you up," she then told me. To say the least, I felt flattered that she was thinking about me. "Wintergreen, of course."

I smiled funny at her. "You didn't have to Gilmore, but thanks." I wasn't looking directly at her, trying to keep my gaze on the road in front of me as I shifted into drive, sure that the town's eyes were all directed towards me. So much for my email declaration that I wouldn't be nervous.

I pulled slowly onto the road, and could feel Rory's hand on the armrest console between us, brushing against the side of my skirt. I turned on the road out of town and took a sip of the tea, the ride so far seeming a bit more silent than I thought it would be. When we reached the guidance sign for the exit onto the Cross, I finally looked at Rory for the first time since we left town.

Whether to bring up the fact we were now secretly betrothed to each other was going through my mind, as I tried to think up a way to broach up conversation. This is one of the things I hate about relationships, you lose that natural bond the two of you had before you became involved. Though it was only officially our fourteenth hour, I analyzed the situation. Just the very idea of a relationship was alien to me, I had never been through it with a boy before, not counting a boy in sixth-grade Jewish summer camp, but back then I didn't know all that much about love. Now here I was in the same car with Rory, I didn't know what to do.

Thankfully my mouth decided to think for my head for at least once in my life, saving me from the awkward first morning kiss I wanted to get just right.

"Do we want to lead with the football loss, or go positive with the volleyball win? I was looking at Davidson's article last night and Jenna Smith's commentary, along with the pics of the field goal attempt, I think we can get a good page one out of it." I was happy to be back to talking to one of the things that bonded Rory and I comfortably together, The Franklin.

She turned and looked at me, arguing her side. "I took a look at Davidson's article too, it's a strong piece," she told me. "I made a few notations for editing, and I saw the front page in my mind. What I think we could do is have an inset of the team within two columns, and on the bottom, show the Chilton stands reaction to the field goal passing through the uprights."

"Agony might not sell Gilmore," I argued back. "I think we need to go look-ahead on this one instead of showing the pain of the student body. The Demons were one game away from the playoffs with a second-year coach, if we did a sub below the headline saying something like 'Coach Staley proud of progress, already looking towards '03', that would make the student stop, look at the article, and think that our writers felt the pain just as bad as they did, but they know the team is progressing. They look at Davidson's piece and think that he's a true insider, with an ear to the team. That sells more copies, makes Davidson strive to work harder during basketball and baseball seasons to impress, and in turn, solidifies us as having a strong stable of storytellers."

I felt Rory focusing her thoughts for a bit, trying to come up with a reply. Her gut instinct is something I really like, because although she might seem mousy, she wants to see the paper succeed in the end. "That's a good idea, but don't forget that people are going to save this in their attics years from now." There she goes with her small-town nostalgia bent, was what I was thinking as she went on about how it might be better to show the crowd reaction, while mixing in the optimist's view of the next season on that front page. "We're seniors; in the end 2003-04's team doesn't represent our class."

"Yeah, but they will represent the frosh, sophs and juniors of this year, along with the Eighthers at Country Day, I don't want to leave them out."

"Darn it, I hate it when you're right." She pouted for a bit and thought a little more, looking ever so adorable while she remembered that one of the points of the paper's mission statement was to remain neutral and represent the entire student body, not just the seniors. "Uhhh, hmmm...What if we put the crowd shot on top right, wrapped around Davidson's story with your headline-subline combo to instill that hope, then we put a horizontal line in the middle of the page? Below that, we tell Jenna to rewrite her commentary to focus on the Blue Demon's progress this year, we go back to the upset at Hillside and in the photo space, show Wes Albertson's reaction to throwing that touchdown in with a second left to win the game?" She scribbles a dummy layout on a page in her notebook representing the front page, and I glance at it out of the corner of my eye, thankful the traffic merging onto the Cross is light. "That way, in the end, on the same page the senior class will be able to look back on this page for years to come, while at the same time it makes everyone hope for greater things next season. You see where I'm going with this, a mix of nostalgia and a look towards a better season for the underclassmen--"

"Which might help this edition circ as well as the regional spotlight of last week." I could see it in my head, Rory's idea was perfect. She might not have the official title of co-editor, but she might as well be with these brainstorming sessions we have in the car after school. I smiled, and decided I would take our mixed idea seriously. "First thing this afternoon I'll plug it into PageMaker and see if it looks well; I'll stop Jenna in Philosophy in second and tell her to do a quick rewrite, and we'll see what we got. It's obvious we have to do the front page on the game. We'll move Erica's former cover on society Thanksgivings to the left tease and keep it as the middle foldout, and we'll be all set." I didn't even need PageMaker to see the results, because the layout in my mind looked perfect.

"I like that Par," she told me. "Erica's gonna be a little mad she didn't get more than a cover mention, but she'll recover."

I smiled, and relaxed into my seat a bit as now the cover layout was clear. Only 21 other pages to go. "She'll be fine."

Then just before I could react, Rory thanked me, stretched over the seat, and kissed me lightly on the cheek, surprising the Dickens out of me. I wasn't up to highway speeds yet, but felt my grip loosen on the steering wheel just a little bit and the car waver.

It wasn't much of a kiss, a lot less deep than the first one we shared last evening. Despite that though, it still had that emotional wallop that hearing Rory come out stirred within me. My heart thudded against my chest, and it took me a couple of puffs to recover my breath as I pulled off the road and onto the emergency shoulder.

Damn, I knew I should've kissed her when she got in the car, I have privacy windows for crissakes! But the windshield is still clear; someone might have seen. Blood rushed to my face, and there was a bit of me who was pissed off at her for interfering with my driving. Everyone knows for instance my phone is off when I'm in the car, don't dare try to call me.

I couldn't help but smile though. Rory was giving me that smile she had just after our first kiss, silly and carefree. In the end too, I really liked the kiss.

"I forgot to wish you a good morning. God, I wanted to do that since before we left town." She's giddy at surprising me, and I felt like to admonish her for her sly move for thinking up a front page as an excuse to kiss me wasn't anything I wanted to do. The momentum of the car stopped, and I could finally look at her without the threat of a drift into the median and certain death.

I was still hyperventilating a little, and controlled my first reaction to yell at her about it. "Don't ever do that again, you know how fast I drive." I kept myself calm as I looked at her sternly, and somewhat lovelorn. "Why didn't you just say you wanted to kiss me in the first place?"

"I didn't know when to bring it up," she admitted. "I couldn't do it in town, and since you didn't come in the diner this morning where I was planning on directing myself into the restroom so you would follow and we could have a good morning kiss, I just thought I'd take the first opportunity that came along, and God, I was stupid." She looked down at herself, cursing her timing. "This is tougher than I thought, I mean there you are looking all cute right in front of me, and I don't know when to make the first move."

"In the diner?" I questioned aloud. I didn't even know the diner had a bathroom.

She nodded back. "Yeah, I was waiting in there for you to come in. I don't know how many times I looked out the window this morning."

"I guess I should stop being so stubborn then," I admitted, feeling sort of down for disappointing my girl. "I just feel like I have to buy something when I go into a place, call it Emily Post syndrome."

"When I buy you the tea Paris," she told me, smiling and moving her hand into mine, "that's the signal that you can go in. It's an extra $1.50, nothing that's sending me to debtor's prison. I like you, and that means you can come into my world whenever you feel."

"But your mom--" I just have the feeling that Lorelai is thinking my offer of a morning ride as leading Rory down that evil path into the world of the entitled. Rory moved in to assure me.

"She's fine with it. I want you to be more Annie Hall and less Woody Allen here, please."

I rolled my eyes at the mention of my mental state, and then realized something out loud. Remember here, I have an IQ figure in the higher echelon of the 160's. "I missed a chance to kiss you in Luke's?" I felt like I had a hot pink shirt with an upturned arrow pointing up from the sentence reading 'I'm with stupid' on.

"Luke's girls room, but nonetheless, Luke's." I shook my head, feeling pretty dumb as she reassured me that it wasn't an emotional wallop that would bring her down for the rest of her life. "If you're worried about how sanitary it is, it's cleaned three times a day."

I smiled funnily, this twist of fate irking me to no end. "Yes, but at least it would've been private. I don't understand your madness, but next time you have something planned like that, I have text messaging in my phone, a simple ':-* me in Luke's bathroom' missive (and yes, I actually spoke the words 'kiss symbol colon-dash-asterisk' in that sentence; don't look at me like that!) would've sufficed in getting me in there." I caressed her hand, looking at her with all the love for her I had. "If I promised you that I'll actually come in tomorrow morning, uhh, could I kiss you here, now? Please?" Oh yeah, I'm not about to ghostwrite the next #1 Harlequin bodice-ripper here. I felt again like a nervous little Jewish girl.

That is, until Rory parted her lips open and ran her hand up my side slowly until it was against my warmed and probably red right cheek. She moved in closer and I could sense the mix of cinnamon toast, cool mint Scope and Eight O'Clock on her breath. "Cross your heart you'll come in tomorrow?" Her voice hushed, and I couldn't help but think that overnight she seemed even more alluring to me.

"I'll be there." I nodded back at her, looking at the morning rush passing by us northbound. I caressed her palm with my pointer, noticing that she hadn't put on her tie yet, leaving one button open and bare freckled skin leading into her oxford shirt. I squinted my eyes, trying to think of something dry and academic, something that wouldn't lead to me trying to replicate the work of Alfred Kinsey in those two bucket seats.

"Good." She gave me her shy smirk, and then broached the last of the distance between us to give me that good morning kiss floating around our collective brains since the moment we awoke. The spark hadn't faded at all like I expected; our connection was just as strong as our lips met and I moved my free hand up to massage her neck. I felt like I was high on something as I decided to take the lead and deepen it a little, unbuckling my safety belt and bringing myself closer towards her side, so much I felt myself shift onto the console piece separating us.

My body hummed, and I already felt like all my senses were picking up. I flitted the tip of my tongue against her lower lip, pulling it back in because I wasn't ready to go that deep. It was much more of a teasing buss than the kisses from the last evening. It seemed like we were kissing for such a long time, when in reality it was only thirty seconds here, a separation for breath, and then another thirty seconds.

Her hands moved down towards my sweater and fisted material on each side; no iron could've prevented the shirt below from wrinkling. We kept back and forthing nothings about each other and how the emails and sweet dreams were much appreciated and how well we both kissed.

We separated only when a loud semi, obviously breaking the 'no truck' rule on the Cross, honked its horn and shocked the fuck out of both of us. We broke the kiss, but not the contact, figuring the traffic wasn't looking at two girls making out in a car off to the side of the road. I slid back into my seat, slowly easing Rory out of my grasp, finding it hard to bring my attention back to scholastic matters.

"Mile 67," she said to herself. I didn't know why she said that so I asked her the reasoning to repeat the portion of road we were on.

"It's a good mile." She smiled at me, trying to straighten her sweater. "Mile 67 is a good mile because we had our first good morning kiss here. I like this mile."

I gave her an odd look, but had to find it endearing. After all, this is the same girl who along with her mother names small household appliances, like her pencil sharpener Anais. I couldn't help but agree with her, because if the road we were on was a small country lane, with the trees along the sides of the road in the last stages of shedding their leaves for the season, it would be a beautiful scene. I nodded back, and recovered to gather my bearings back to accelerate the car back onto the road, rebuckling up my belt.

Before I did though, Rory had to make me swoon just one more time.

"I like that you ditched the flak jacket by the way." She laughed nervously, and I knew exactly what she was talking about. "You look much more beautiful, more...feminine. Not that you weren't before, but now, even more nice. Yeah." She ran a hand through her hair, giving me this funny smile. "God, I must sound like a perv, I didn't mean to."

"Rory, it's OK," I reassured. "You don't. I sort of did it for you, something subtle only you'd clue in on. Everyone else doesn't care, you know?"

"Oh, right." She looked at the clock, and then smiled. "7:15, we better get going before we end up in trouble." Our comfortable banter remained even after I pulled back on the road, and I spent the rest of the commute up north trying to help Rory get past Mr. Mercurio's pop quiz that was sure to befall us fourth period. It wasn't a good challenging test day, so it was going to end up just a general school day.

When we arrived in the lot and pulled into my space, I immediately noticed that Madeline and Louise were awaiting me at the front door, most likely to confront why my cell phone wasn't on until eight last evening. I had turned it off and not let them know my weekend plans so I could go either way with how I wanted to say I spent my weekend; up in Boston if things didn't go very well at all, or mentioning the dance marathon with a very explicit warning to keep everything down low because the less I was the gossip subject, the better.

I noticed their surprised looks when Rory opened up the passenger's side door, backpack in tow and ready to go.

"Oh...good morning Rory." My dark-haired friend was surprised to see her so early and not coming off the bus.

"Morning," Rory greeted her with a smile. "Did you and Louise have a good weekend?"

Louise interjected her way into the conversation. "Good as in the middle linebacker drowned his sorrows for losing the game within my walls, or good as in general?" Rory soured her lips, and Madeline nervously laughed as both mine and Rory's eyes drifted her way.

"Hey, I studied this weekend, honest. My stepmom's going to take away my Rover privileges if I don't score at least an 1,250 on the SAT's." She looked nervously around the crowd. "You know how much I love my car, I don't want to have to drive around in my dad's old Catera."

The four of us walked into the building, blue spirit posters and a 'GO BLUE DEMONS!' banner in the gymnasium foyer, reminding us of what everyone had been looking forward to only three days ago. "Good weekend, but where were you Gel?" Louise asked me. "I had a tough quotient to figure out, and the homework helpline seemed to be shut down."

I thought for a moment about lying, but I wanted to tell someone outside of Stars Hollow about what Rory and I had done Saturday.

So I spilled, telling Louise the reason I wasn't on the phone was because I was dancing all day and all night.

"Dance marathon?" Louise was astonished by the very concept of this idea, and that six years after my prime, I agreed to go with Rory. "What did your mom have to say about it?"

"Nothing, and if you and you," I pointed at Madeline and Louise, "value your individual lives, you won't say anything to her either."

"Lips are sealed," Madeline told me, making a zipping motion. "Hey, did you know that your mom's new beau was on the World Series of Poker? He was tenth last year--"

"I don't think Paris really cares about that, right?" Rory surprised me by butting into one of Madeline's off-kilter observations and trying to defend me. I nodded and just shrugged. "So about this dance marathon you two, please don't say anything to anyone, but both of us did win the whole enchilada. Don't ask us how, and please don't ask how we came into school without sore feet."

"Won?" Louise questioned. "How long was it, like eight or nine hours?"

"Your time frame is currently in Antarctica and chilly, add some more time." I just wanted to move on from the topic, but as we walked down the hallway, it was hard to admit, but it's nicer to talk to friends when you have more to say about your weekend than you studied all through it.

"Eighteen hours. That's the time limit on your bra, right?"

I was taking a sip of my tea just then, and almost choked upon hearing Madeline's guess. I tried to hold back my first impulse to blush and then admit that breast support wasn't in play for the entirety of my weekend. I found my voice again after gasping out the liquid from my lungs, where it wasn't supposed to go.

"It was 6-6, Saturday morning to Sunday morning, give or take 11 minutes." Thank goodness for Rory noticing my discomfort and trying to veer the topic away from where it was. They were astonished that both of us stuck together for that long.

"Still, you two together, dancing, voluntarily for any amount of time," Louise gestured at both of us. "Never in a million years."

A million years pass by quickly when it's just two days, I thought to myself, feeling that this achievement's afterglow was still warm a day after the event took place. My two lifelong friends were amazed as we both went into an edited account of how well everything went, not mentioning that Rory now knew she was being watched by the camera when she kissed Tristan. I pretty much let Rory tell the story since she knew more about the history of the event than I did, along with the rivalries.

After stopping at our bank of lockers to get our schoolbooks, Louise left when she saw her guy of the week in the hallway moping around, still down about losing to Seth Thomas. Madeline hung with both of us, and asked why I was ferrying Rory to school. It took us a few moments to struggle for an answer, but we finally came up with Rory losing her bus pass and since she paid cash, she couldn't get CT Transit to give her a new one since they didn't have proof of a cancelled check or card transaction. A good way to shrug off any questioning about the arrangement until at least December 1st.

"That's cool, the bus is icky and filled with creepazoids anyways." Her attention seemed to shift somewhere else, and before I could figure out why Mads had to run, she told us she had to leave. "Sorry guys, I uh, have to go." She left us behind, and I just had to wonder if Rory's theory that she was flirting with Brad in secret was correct.

Both of us continued conversating about academics as we came into Advanced Economics, trying to get back into our catatonic states of mind about school where nothing else was a distraction but the instructor's words and the props they used to teach us the lesson. Rory sat in front while I sat in back.

"So, we're here. In class. Our first class." She looked at the familiar surroundings, which now after this close weekend, seemed alien to her. She seemed a little nervous as she sat down at her seat and I stood near her desk. We were both going to be distracted with each other, that was a foregone conclusion; however the seating chart Mr. Silvestri created was sort of a help to my hormones, since we were on a slant where a misdirection towards looking at Rory would be noticed and I would be asked to pay attention.

I smiled at her, finding my voice uncharacteristically shaky. "I'll be back, behind you. Still in the same room."

"Mm-hmm. Hopefully Silvestri's explanation of economic indicators keeps us distracted."

"Yeah." I held out my hand, and with few students in class, touched Rory's palm lightly as I separated from her, a sly way to state how I felt about her without anyone catching on. We said our goodbyes, and I moved to my seat in the back, watching the students walk in and getting out my texts and instruments to lay them out in the order I always did. Text at left, notebook at right, pencil up above, bag draped over the chair. My routine of sitting had never changed, and that comfortable feeling, despite the presence of my new love to my diagonal right five rows down, eased me back into the world of learning as my watch and the bell intersected at 8:05:00am to bring me back into my comfortable world.

Strangely, though I thought about Rory for those forty-five minutes and what she was thinking, in Mr. Silvestri's field of vision, my eyes never directed away from the front blackboard as my left hand gripped my Dixon and decoded Mr. Silvestri's words into my form of note-taking.

Still, my mind wasn't 100% on the class. When he'd turn around to write on the board, my gaze would drift northeast towards Rory's seat in the front, and watch her, taking notes studiously and without distraction. Her focus was on school, and I couldn't help but stare as her eyes drifted left-right as Silvestri moved towards the center, and then the right board, the chalk he held revealing formulas that I had to memorize over and over in my head.

This is why I respect Rory, because she's at Chilton to soak in everything like it's new and exciting. So much was revealed to me last night when she broke down in front of me and told me that she felt unchallenged in Stars Hollow, and scarleted because the students only saw her as the kid of that teenaged mother, not as their future valedictorian. She's quiet and shy, and because of last night, I now know why.

I'm glad that Rory and I went through the path we did in order to come to what we have now. Without her in my life, I might be complacent right now, acting lazy with my grades and just coasting through the year without much to stop me. Both of us give each other speed bumps, and in turn, we also challenge to strive to be better, for our sakes. It was months ago I stopped working for my grades to please Mother, now it's to prove to myself I can be the best.

If it proves to be Rory atop the mountain however, I will be gracious in defeat, no matter how much it might pain me.

Rory and I went our separate directions for our second period classes, leaving me undistracted and at attention through that class. I felt my usual persona of cool, calm and collected come back, and it passed by quickly.

However, spending all that time up in the clouds Saturday, Sunday and this morning blinded my brain, because I had forgotten that this week was another phy ed week for third period. That 45 minutes at 10 in the morning on alternating weeks, was the bane of my existence. Not that I'm saying I don't get exercise at all. Living in the Manor, with a room Daddy converted from an upstairs den into a room filled with all the latest equipment, I try to work out at least once a week, and summer tennis and golf at my country club helps keep me fit as I easily beat Madeline and Louise in those games.

It's just I don't play well with a group. And boy do I hate having to change clothes. As I've said before I usually find the most private place to change and hope that no one in the locker room sees me. Today's game was volleyball though, and though our feet were still a bit sore, Rory and I sucked it up and on the same team, tried our best to help them win.

Unlike the field hockey match she used to lure me in a few weeks ago however, we didn't do so well this time. Most everytime the ball didn't make it past the net when I or she served, and during one try, Rory missed the ball entirely. Everyone laughed, and well, even though she's my girl...I kind of chuckled too. She gave me a dirty look, but since we share a hate for sports, somehow she understood it was more of a 'I'm sorry you suck and I feel miserable for you, but you still look cute trying' laugh than one belittling her.

Rory did try her best to win though, and looked pretty nice doing it. I still remember clearly how hot she looked as she came at me in competition trying to dislodge the ball from my hockey stick, and though she's not an athlete, she looks damned good in her gym shorts and t-shirt. The shirt she wears is tight against her, and when she was going in for a volley or a spike, I couldn't help but feel sidetracked by her body. If the heat of competition is good for one thing it's that everyone's too distracted trying to pay attention to the game, leaving me with plenty of time to give heated looks towards my girlfriend. During one point, she jumped up in the air to try a spike, and oh dear...her shirt would become untucked and I'd get a nice look at that flat stomach my hands caressed last night as we cuddled during the news. Needless to say, I was finding myself flushed red from something besides physical activity.

Somehow, we both got through the game, and after having to take ribbing from all the girls about how awful we were, I headed back into the girl's locker room to shower and change. This time I managed to time myself so that I ended up in the shower first, got my quick sprtiz and shampoo in, then ducked out before Rory could see me in just a towel, or less.

I changed back into my uniform and thought I would be able to get out of there scot-free, without having to see Rory after she came out of the shower. She's changed by now, I thought to myself, confidently. She hates gym like I do, Rory can't wait to get outta this class.

I took my messenger bag out of my locker and put the combination lock back on the hasp. I was ready to leave, trying to dodge out before I'd get stuck with my new girlfriend in a less-than-fully-clothed situation...

"Paris." I felt a finger tap the back of my shoulder, and that familiar light tone in my ears. My breath stilled as I confirmed who it was with a calling out of her name.

She responded that it was her, and for a moment, I seemed to temporarily lose that important information in my mind to remind me that I was now romantically involved with her. I also went on the assumption she was trying to get my attention fully clothed.

I need to really learn that all that assumptions do is get me in trouble. For when I turned around, Rory wasn't clothed.

Oh shit, look away, look away! I felt myself firm up, a bit thankful she was in bra and panties, but nonetheless it triggered the effect of dragging my mind, then focused on the 'surprise' Russian Novels pop quiz, right down into the gutter.

I didn't look away like my mind scolded me to, instead my gaze remained firm. She was mismatched, wearing a white cotton bra and a pair of floral print panties colored purple, reminding me of her station in life as a small town girl who could care less if she was matching Victoria's Secret with Hanes Her Way. I felt my breath quicken because I was startled at the sudden picture presented in front of me, and struggled to hold back several reactions; one to lash out at Rory for startling me in this state of undress, and the other to push her against the lockers and ravish her senseless.

I asked her what she wanted, all the while holding my gaze with her and holding back the temptation to note her Dover-shaded skin looked particularly alluring from the skylights above us that were installed to lessen the dungeon-like feel of the eighty year-old room.

"Ms. Stuart stopped me before I left because she wanted to ask who was covering girl's basketball for the Franklin this year. I told her I didn't know, and she gave me this list to give to you of suggested candidates she'd like to cover their beat." She handed me that list, and looked down. "She delayed me a little, so could you let Mr. Mercurio know that I'll be a little late getting into class?"

I pocketed the list in the side pocket of my messenger bag without a glance, and frowned. "She does this every year Gilmore, and thinks that we have a bias for covering the men's varsity, so she wants someone who won't criticize her coaching style. If you see her, let her know it's going to be Ella Walsh, same as last year. If she doesn't like her, tell her we can just as easily ignore the lady Demon beat this year. We only have six pages for sports and only so many sports to cover, so if Ms. Stuart wants better coverage, she needs to whip those girls into shape. Otherwise they're going below hockey, plain and simple."

She looked at me as I made my Tony Kornheiser-like point, and understood where I was coming from. "I won't see her again today, but I'll slip a note into her mailbox about it." Rory looked up at me, and smiled nervously. "I should probably get dressed before you rebuke me for wasting your time with this and being late for class, sorry about that." About then she covered up her chest, seeming to remember her modesty finally. "I'll uh, be going now."

I looked around the locker alcove to see if there was anyone watching us in this odd conversation. I felt like I was going to burst and Rory shifted her bare feet on the cool tile floor, her nervous energy obvious. Somehow I had to let her know that this wasn't something I didn't exactly hate.

I was getting used to exchanging those conspirital smiles between us, previously used to belittle those who tried and failed to rise to our GPAs, but now to denote this relationship we were somehow keeping away from the always busy social circle of Hartford.

"This wasn't a waste of time, rest assured. It's fine that you came to me with this." I let her know, coding my words. "Just try to match next time, uniformity with everything and anything, you know better." I was trying to keep the surface tension that's defined us for the last three years going in the eyes of our fellow peers if they happened upon us. "Please be on time." One odd look on Rory's face later, I left her behind to puzzle that tension-filled talk, all the while wishing that we shared a study hall instead of a mind-draining class like Russian Novels the next period.

A few minutes later I was at my seat, after telling Mr. Mercurio that Rory might be late. Just as predicted, under a bunch of paperwork that 115 question 'pop quiz' sat, ready to startle absolutely no one. After Rory came in and he sprung the test on all of us, the curses of exams became known to what both of us shared. We had to keep our eyes on the paper at all times, and the instructor walked the aisles, precluding her from being able to flirt with me from behind. "No talking, no moving, no sharing anything with a seat mate," Mercurio bellowed, as the cursed curriculum kept us from in-class reading because some of my classmates, dumbasses they are and rightfully so in that crap class, struggled through the quiz throughout the whole period, precluding Rory from doing much more than an occasional brush of her finger against my back.

This had been the period I had been looking forward to since I awoke this morning. Now it was turning into a soul-sucking and pressure building period of time. Since I finished off the quiz within twenty minutes, I was left twenty-five minutes alone to myself without anything to do since this idiot has a rule that we cannot do schoolwork or organize if we had free time in the class. About the only thing Mercurio lets us do is catch up on reading, and since I didn't have a modicum of interest in reliving more of Tolstoy's dragging Peace, I was left alone with my mind, sensing that Rory was having an actual struggle with the quiz and trying to remember what I had told her in the car that morning.

The time dragged, my mind agonized because the girl behind me thought of me as more than a friend and to all the world I still had to remain an iron bitch towards her inside Chilton. Somehow I started to feel as if this was a bad idea, this loving for Rory, because we had so much to go against us. You have thirty miles, two communities, an entire school, and two families with the most austere reputation in all of Connecticut's capital between you, I thought to myself. Have you even thought about how everyone else is going to react to you two involved?

No doubt that was myself being analytical about everything. I stared towards the state flag hanging in the corner, my mind needing a non-blank focal point to look at so I wouldn't be driven insane, per the advice of Dr. Birnbaum. For the first time since my breakdown in the Stars Hollow High bathroom, I thought about the reactions of Mother and my father, and of my extended family, not to mention those of the Chilton faculty and those at Harvard I had known for at years.

Somehow within all this mess in my brain, I started getting this feeling that I was acting selfish. Here I was, falling for Rory Gilmore head over heels, and I wasn't giving one thought to how anyone else would think about it. Doubts started to overtake me, as I thought about the impact of this relationship. Harvard was going to be definitely affected, my interactions with other girls would end up having to change to pre-empt a jealousy streak from Rory just in case I started to unknowingly flirt, and I would feel an extreme amount of guilt if I had to date a boy on Mother's behest to keep up appearances.

I started to sweat in my seat, my stomach rumbling and acid starting to rise up my esophagus. I was being someone I was not, passionate and willing to put aside anything and everything just for the love of a girl. My mind was supposed to have a Terminator focus on Cambridge, not a girl from the sticks. I felt scared for how I was thinking, but I couldn't help it, because once one doubt set in, and then another, and then another. Madeline and Louise laughing at both of us, telling us we were both so desperate we could only find solace in each other. Charleston finding it 'a troubling development in your high school career Miss Gellar. The reputation of this school will take a hit if we send a gay valedictorian to Harvard, wouldn't Vassar suit you instead?'

Then I thought about my baby; my paper. The Franklin has 74 years and 10 months of tradition, and in one move, it could all be taken away from me. Those rumblings at the country club about my evasiveness with the guys and my disinterest in dating, that I was a 'butch bitch in a plaid skirt'. But my mind stayed on The Franklin, and what would happen if Rory and I came out. No doubt a rival undergrounder would be formed right away, bite into circ and my writers and workers would be discredited, or worse. The image came to my mind of that homophobic hate-mongering Dr. Falwell, finding his ire with the harmless Teletubbies gone, focusing all his hate and vitriol on an innocent school newspaper editor, accusing me of advancing a gay agenda when the only agenda I had was to produce a damned good read every week from September to June.

I was starting to panic, my mouth drying out and my breath quickening with doubt. I felt like crying, and here I was in front of Rory, doubting my love for her, feeling guilty for my feelings. I remembered feeling this way only once in my life, when I was in fifth grade and bombed a simple math test. I dreaded bringing home the paper, marked with a C-, and so I didn't, for three days. After all that guilt built up for keeping the result from Mother, I became physically sick and ended up in the hospital for two days (over a weekend of course, so I kept my perfect attendance streak going) from exhaustion. When she found out, despite what I went through, she grounded me for a week.

That was how I felt this morning, though to a much lesser extent. My stomach lurched, and a wave of dizzying nausea overcame me. I hyperventilated in my seat, and without Rory's hand in my hair or along my neck, I never felt the sense of calm I usually did in Russian Novels. Maybe it was the mix of a wrong food in there somewhere, or else my body wasn't feeling all in the subject matter. Before I knew it though, I was rising up in my seat, raising my hand, crying out aloud in anguish to Mr. Mercurio for what was a rare mid-class pass to the restroom.

"Miss Gellar," he called, his high academic tone grating me like scraping fingernails on bare sheetrock, "You have ten minutes until the bell, and surely you can wait--"

I held back a shocked breath as I made an excuse on the fly. "I forgot to take some medication before this class, for my lactose intolerance." I acted panicked. "I always have to take it at maximum a half hour before, otherwise I cannot have dairy. I apologize sir, but I want to partake of the special whipped pumpkin pie today."

"Fine." He barely acknowledged me as he scratched the pertinent details on the yellow slip of paper, and without looking back, I fled out of the classroom, and then the few hundred feet to the nearest ladies room, which I was thankful was empty as I threw up in the handicapped toilet, my stomach emptying its contents of the morning and releasing a tight knot of unease. I hated having to flee from that classroom, but at least the quiz was finished, and since everyone knew my imposition to dairy, my dignity remained intact.

I didn't want to go back into that classroom though, with all these thoughts spinning around in my mind. I thought it was right, that I was putting everything below Rory and fucking up the rest of my life. I sat down on the seat after flushing and cleaning my face up, wishing the world would just go away and leave me in peace. I was convinced I could never be happy, that I wasn't supposed to be that way. The goal in my life was to continue the Gellar legacy until I gave birth myself and then just step aside, nothing else.

I wasn't feeling feverish, just stressed, and I spent those last seven minutes of the period thinking about what happened the night before, and that I may be giving Rory the dishonor of an awful relationship to come, her being the long-suffering Alice to my Ralph, even though I had never gotten into a physical fight in my life. I'm but a burden, were the words of wisdom floating around my head, a chaotic and disorderly island in a sea of calm. A life spent following my Palm, instead of my heart was the intended path for me to go, and my mother was going to stubbornly make me realize that, gay or not.

Minutes later, I heard the bell ring. I get ready to duck out of the building and towards my car for an off-campus lunch, hoping that the time away from it might give me some clarity.

However, within seconds, I heard the bathroom door open and a clattering of saddle shoes rushing into the room, along with a quickened shutting of the pneumatic unit that closes the door.

Immediately I knew it was Rory, since she was asking from near the sinks if I was in the bathroom. I call her out in response, shirking down in the stall.

"You rushed out of there awfully fast," Rory told me, calm and collected.

I peeked through the slit in the stall door, the familiar 5"7' form and intense blue eyes clear in the 3cm space between the door and the partition. "I'm OK Rory, just go to lunch," I called out. "I guess the tea didn't agree with the toast."

She didn't laugh at my humor, instead, calling for me to come out again. "No one's going to come in here, just, you're never sick, and I could tell. Please come out of there."

I couldn't avoid her, nor keep her from lunch, forever, so with hesitation I unlatched the stall lock and opened the door slowly.

Once I came out, Rory's concern with my welfare was quite obvious, and she seemed to hate seeing me in this condition. I tried to explain I just had a bad food reaction as she handed me my messenger bag, but she wasn't budging.

"Franklin office, right now, we need to talk." She was starting to take charge; making it known that in this relationship we were on even footing.

"But lunch--" I tried to argue, but she came back in that unique Gilmore way of hers.

"Obviously it's not an issue right now, come on." Her simple eloquence stunned me silent, and I could only follow her down the hallway towards the newspaper office.

Once in there, she had me sit down in my chair at the editor's desk, and sat down on the edge, looking at me with all she had. She seemed pained, and sad for me as I looked up at her like I was caught with a hand in the cookie jar. My mind was still spinning with that negativity, and I was afraid of bringing my gaze up.

"Are you alright Par?" Rory asked me, her voice trying to soothe me. "I tried to go after you just after you left, but Mercurio bitched at me about bathroom breaks being one at a time, so I had to stay in my seat until class ended."

"It's alright, I'm good," I lied. "My stomach just had a lurch, nothing awful happened."

"Your posture looked tight and still, there is something going on in your mind." She sighed, and slid off the desk, bringing a chair from the layout table over so that she could sit at my eye level. She sat down and began anew. "I know your brain, sometimes it gets overwhelmed, things happen where you get stressed and it shows on the outside." She lowered her lashes and took my right hand into her left. "You're starting to have second thoughts, aren't you?"

I reeled back a little, freaked that despite not looking back at her all period, she could see transparently into how I was feeling. "Of course not, no, I'm good. That's me, cool as a cucumber." My voice was betraying the inflection I wanted in my head, and I could tell that I was starting to show that yes, I was worried as hell about everything.

"You like me right? In the way that I do you?"

"No question that I do Gilmore," I said with 100% honesty.

"Good." She smiled, and slid a finger into the cuff of my blouse and against my wrist. "Then stop worrying about the little things that might get in your way. I could tell that was stress that was making you puke, and you were getting into overanalyization mode, realizing the reality is more daunting than the fantasy." I felt stiff, and she placed another finger on the wrist, using both fingers to rub it in circles. "That's what you were thinking, right?"

I couldn't lie to Rory, because with her my face is an open book. I just didn't realize that my body language was either. "Maybe a little. Just a smidge." Trying to minimize the trauma wasn't doing any good at all, so I went full tilt after a bit of thought. "It's fanatical to think of Jerry Falwell finding out about us, and trying to force me out of the paper because I'm gay, right? I mean I earned my place as editor, so how could he throw me out?"

Rory shook her head at me, letting out a little laugh. "Maybe a little crazy, and besides, he has bigger fish to fry."

"Probably," I admitted.

I looked down at my shoes for a bit, before Rory put her hand against my chin and had me look back up at her.

"You're not the only one, so don't feel like you're alone here." She heaved a breath, and then told me what her train of thought was for all of fourth period, what was unpictured in my line of vision.

What Rory told me sobered me a little; she had been struggling with the test not for a lack of knowledge about the material, but because she thought everyone could see that her and I were no longer enemies, and more than friends. She went on about feeling Kenneth the Russian Novel nut behind her, like he was watching her every move since being the class suckup he was done in five minutes.

"My mind, it just drifted towards this other place, where I was picturing everyone in my life starting to despise me for this. It's like my mind is trying to overrule my gut, and trying to reassert that I need to be attracted to a guy, like Dean." She frowned at this revelation. "But I'm sick of Dean, I don't want him anymore. It's like, he was safe and unexciting, did all the right things and made the right remark at the right time. I was just in this world where everyone is looking at both of us with heightened awareness, our every move and action. They weren't being kind about our relationship either, they wanted to tear us apart."

She looked down at her free left hand, still bared from the bracelet and replaced with that watch she wore during the dance marathon. "I think about all the months it took to get to this point, and it's just getting into me that where we are, it's not a dream anymore. We're together. And frankly, I'm scared to death that we're going to be so insecure and shifty, we're not going to be into it."

I admitted some of those same doubts to her, like the thought of us losing Harvard, the possible shunning by high society and our own families, and the doubt I feel when I think about how sometimes I don't deserve her. I didn't mince or edit like I usually did to sound cultured and above it all, I felt raw spilling all this out to her. It's strange that I'm doing this in the only place in this entire school where I feel safe, private, and secure, in the office. No one else besides the relevant faculty members and Rory has a key for this room, where we usually spend hours and hours devoted to our publishing craft. The one thing that really bonded us, those long nights spent in this room, watching each other scrutinize pages of loose-leaf for grammar and spelling errors, draft layouts reconfiguring headlines and text...looking at Rory as she tries to scrutinize the red marks on an article I proofread for her, her scowl at decoding why exactly I corrected her and wasn't giving any hints as to what was wrong. It's these little things that turned the little spark of attraction I had for her into a full flame of want.

We both admitted that we thought about much more than those lovey-dovey girl in love items we noted last night as we solidified our attraction. Both of us were nervous and didn't want this to go wrong, and hoping no one found out before we intended them to. The last thing we that we wanted was to be out when we weren't ready to be out.

"We're going to be OK," she told me, confident yet soft. "I'm going to make sure of that, and especially in Stars Hollow, Miss Patty. I didn't mean to forget to tell you this, but I needed to get it out to someone, and when I was out to lunch Friday at the dance studio, she was there, I was bursting, and I needed to know if she thought it was OK to have you be my dance partner. Honestly, we were the first girl-girl unrelated couple in years, and I just wanted to make sure...and well, she got it out of me that I wanted to not only dance with you, but 'dance' with you." She stuck her hands in the air to quote.

For a moment, I was stiff as Rory let me know that indeed, the reason she handed Ms. LaCosta the Bangles CD case before the marathon, was that she did know that Rory was attracted to me. That somehow she got it out of her, and she was able to tell someone.

That meant only one thing; I smiled as I learned about this, wondering why things sometimes end up so fucked up between us, but in these right moments of clarity and total lucidness, everything gets all sitcom-tied-up in the end. I started laughing, upon realizing Ms. LaCosta's view of things above my shoulder.

"What are you laughing at?" Rory's face turned quizzical on me. "Did I say something odd, funny, wrong?"

I shook my head, keeping my smile as I let her know about all those missing ten minutes Saturday night. I honestly didn't see that Ms. LaCosta knew about everything already, but the first sign should have been that she was the only one to enter that bathroom during the break and she was immediately trying to get me back on the floor and back into Rory's arms. It's funny, I couldn't have seen the woman who spread the most gossip in Rory's town to be the only one in that entire municipality to know about us. Though there's a small part of my mind that's afraid she'll blab, I can trust her as much as I do Fran.

"So wait, she's the one that got you back into the dance?" Rory asked. "What would I have done without her, I mean God, we came so close to losing not only the contest, but the entire weekend, and what we had." She started to frown, worrying about what never did happen.

I got up, took her hand into mine, and brought her in for a hug, previously something I would've never done, but was something that was called for here. I shushed her fears, trying to let her know that it was OK to think that way, but not dwell on it. "Sssshhh, don't worry about it Gilmore, everything worked out." The scent of her hair was soothing my own fears that cropped up only minutes before. "We're together, and we're fine, right? You don't have any doubts about the present and the future, just of the past and all those times we just missed out."

Rory looked up at me, and nodded her head, moving her hands lower down my back to tighten the hug. I rested my chin against her shoulder, the hollow of her neck seeming to fit my head perfectly. The moment we were having was soft and intimate, and known to only us, thanks to the drawn shades towards the courtyard window. I didn't want to leave her behind, and she just stayed in my arms for a couple minutes, trying to cut through my firmness by letting me know I felt nice in a hug. She thankfully decided not to broach the Par-Bear nickname, despite how the hug seemed.

We eventually released, kissing on the lips and thankful that we had privacy somewhere in Chilton.

"I apologize if I fled out," I told Rory as we decided that we were ready for lunch, but we'd settle for some yogurt tubes, fruit cocktail cups and some canned Diet Cokes from the office mini-fridge to keep our stomachs settled and our drama out of Chilton's sight. "I just felt those doubts, and they manifested the way they did. When I get nervous my system isn't used to it, and well, I throw up." I didn't laugh, but Rory saw the humor was there.

"When do you see Dr. Birmbaum next?" she then asked, unexpectedly. I gulped a little, because though I tell my psychiatrist everything, the lesbian subject, I hadn't brought up with her because we were more focused on worry over my schoolwork and future than other portions of my mental health. I said to Rory that my next appointment was in two weeks from Wednesday afternoon.

"I'm sure you won't share everything with me, so at least talk to her about this, maybe she can suggest a technique or some extra meditations to calm your nerves. I just want you to be OK hon." She smiled, and I couldn't refuse a promise to Ror, I never have.

"I'll sit down with her and let her know, from what her theories and politics are she's a left-centrist, and since she's on Daddy's payroll and not Sharon's, she'll keep everything secret, patient-client confidentiality notwithstanding." We spent the rest of lunch proofing stories and plugging in layouts, deciding to go with a somewhat similar one to Rory's original idea, changed around a little to fit in the table of contents in the corner and a late bottom banner ad buy. There was just something about working with her at lunch today that put me more at ease, that this was truly our own time to spend, with no one in Chilton about to find us.

She talked about a new novel she had dug up a few days before at her town's bookstore and tried to gauge how I felt about the writing, while I tried to push the idea of audiobooks, be they on tape or iPod on her. "It's better to just hear the book read on the way to an event, and you don't have to worry about the wrong voice speaking the book," I argued. "I also hate it when I'm in a good read and then I repeat reading a line over and over again from a distracting keeping me stuck on that line."

"But the smell of books, you can't beat that." Rory fought back with her own side of the argument. "Anyone can press a CD or record a tape to shuttle it out to the stores with some general dull-voiced guy reading it. With a book though, it's the author's work completely. The formatting, font type, paper used, the cover, and lastly, the voice you create for the character in your head. It reflects how the author wants you to see this world they're creating."

"I know, but I like it aural." I stopped to make my point, and forgot to remember the other form of the word I just pronounced.

Rory gasped at my answer, shocked and widening her mouth into an O. "You mean aural as in hearing it, I hope."

My mind reprocessed the sentence and realized how it could've sounded in another form. I put my hand up to my mouth, blushing because of what I said.

Being myself though, I dug myself into an even deeper hole. "Of course, aural as in 'to hear' of course. That doesn't mean I don't like...the other thing. Not that I've ever had it or given it to someone else, I'm sure it's fine and very wonderful, and..." I wandered off as I noticed Rory's smile widen and her looking at me like I was crazy. I stared her down and tried to get serious. "Hey, you're the one who latched onto my vocal miscue, don't be putting these words in my mouth, you know what I meant!"

She giggled, drawing closer to me and both of us backing towards a wall along the side near the darkroom. "I knew what you meant." The side of Rory that only Dean had ever saw was coming out, and I felt myself wanting to lose control as my mind thought over those words and brought up those images of myself...well I don't have to spell it out here. Suddenly I felt like I was back in sophomore year, Tristan shamelessly flirting with me to get what he wanted, usually some notes or a paper done. Only Rory knew what she wanted; me.

"Well, why...why run with it if you knew my meaning?" I nervously asked as the space between us became less and less.

Rory's confidence was strong, and I saw the resolve I had in her eyes as she moved her right hand against my cheek, and talked in a hushed tone towards me.

"Because, it's nice seeing you off-guard, and you were asking for it."

I argued back that I didn't ask, but the mini-fight of banter was short-lived once she moved in for a soft kiss. I returned it, and though we only kissed for a bit, the love within it was perfectly expressed.

"I'd like to do more than that, but if someone walks in on us, wouldn't look good." She felt sorry for not bringing it further as we separated, but it wasn't something I was about to argue at all. The big problem with a school like Chilton is privacy has to be earned with anonymity and grades, not assumed. Since we were academic loners our space was respected, but at any moment a wayward underclassman could walk into an intimate moment, and moments later, the illusion of being alone was gone, everyone would look at us. Look at what happened when I spread the gossip about Lorelai and Mr. Medina; I turned a quiet parent's day lunch into a torrent of noise and bluster.

I was just glad to share an intimate moment with her in the school. After a worried talk about someone watching us, both Rory and I decided to self-police ourselves and kill the temptation we'd have to do anything within Chilton. As we looked at the clock and saw the end-of-lunch bell was approaching, we finished the proofing and made a rule for ourselves; no kissing in Chilton, period. Nothing blown, implied or written down on paper that said we were kissing. We had privacy today, but it could always go away in the snap of a finger, both of us afraid of an intimate moment being walked in and intentions being misconstrued by others.

"What about after-school though? If we have a brain-mash session once Ms. Peters leaves?" Rory wanted to create a loophole to the rule within moments of us shaking hands on the agreement. "If there's no one near the office, is it OK?"

I shook my head, thinking I never would've thought of you as sex-starved Gilmore. I didn't tell her that, but said we should just take it a little at a time; if it was during a week with an off day, maybe I'd do it, but you never know with the Chilton custodial staff if they'd come in, see us and then blab or not.

We were comfortable, and I left the room a little lighter. The doubts I have still linger a bit, but not as badly as if I kept them in.

The only problem I have with Rory right now is that I want more from her than to kiss her. I want to share her bed, and love her in the way I've seen in my dreams and wandering thoughts of her. I know I can't try anything right now, lest I scare her and myself also. In the baseball analogy I'm not even out of the batter's box yet, since I'm watching the ball drift along the foul line and hoping it stays straight along. Baby steps Par, don't rush it, that's the guiding mantra in my head.

The day finished out swiftly and without much more tension between the both of us, though the Life Sciences class where we shared a table was a fight with my brain and my heart to stay on topic and in focus. I wanted to be more than her table buddy, but for the safety of both of us, I stayed separated from her, thankfully because of lab work that brought Madeline and Louise to us in a group project. They have something called 'gay radar' (at least that's what I think it might be called, I've heard it reduced to the one word 'gaydar' in some media), and sometimes they come off as having stronger signals than Hartford's weather office. No need to take a risk of brushing my ankle against hers with both of them in our sight, and I have to keep the old façade up when I'm dealing with them for an entire class period.

Once we got back into the Franklin afterschool, Rory and I were in work mode, and it showed in how we carried ourselves. We were able to control any mooning we had over each other, and I was completely focused on explaining the front page and story choices to the staff, who were taking everything pretty much like I thought. That is the news staff quarreled with sports and Erica was indeed pissed at Jenna and Davidson for pushing her into a tease. I did my best to calm her down from her 'column stealers' tirade, and compromised with her by pushing the syndicate piece tease atop the right side of the masthead out and giving her a better descrip along the entire masthead. She's not happy with me, but at least I didn't lose her entirely.

The ride back to Stars Hollow was also calm with Rory, probably because we needed time alone to ourselves to gather and think about how we're going to go further with this. The time we're spending is good, but sometimes we don't need to fill the time with conversation because we're comfortable enough not to have to spill silent space with unfocused monologues. We talked, but mostly about the newspaper and more student government business that was put aside for the entire weekend. Our working relationship needed to be recharged, and I had to figure out some way to keep Francie at arms length and away from any important decisions. Her motives are very suspicious lately, and this new sorority that's being allegedly formed with her as the figurehead within the shadows is intriguing to me, though not in a positive way. After that last experience with the Puffs, I'm not ready to join one anytime soon. The forced camaraderie and excitement over something inane like a makeover or some event that's allegedly for a charity but just a front to fund them, that's not my idea of fun. A night at the table doing schoolwork, pondering the unsolvable puzzle some eccentric is offering $10,000 to the one person who can solve it, sticking to the NewsHour no matter how many bloggers think that the evening news is an anachronistic tradition soon to go the way of the hand-cranked car. I'm quite happy to live that way.

Rory understands me so much. On the way home we also had this conversation not about our relationship, but something no one will ever understand as fun. We talked about long Scrabble words and how we could work in the Q, X and Z pieces onto a blue or pink square to score high point totals, for instance. She's always felt like she could beat someone in the game, but the trouble is that most Hollowites would never dare take her on in a challenge because her brain has almost the entirety of both the Webster's New World and the Merriam-Webster Collegiate dictionaries memorized. I tell her I'm willing to play her one day, and she smiles and gets excited over being challenged in that. She almost had an orgasmic squeal over it, I swear!

We stopped at the town line and shared our goodbye kiss, knowing there was no way in hell we'd be able to get away with it in town without someone watching us. I hated to leave her behind, but Mother left a voice mail on the home phone letting me know she was jetting in at nine, so with a lot of apprehension, I said goodbye to Rory at the foot of her home's stoop, but not before I felt this calm I never had before.

I look over my homework now here at my desk, and the day that just passed puts a smile on my face. We both had worst of times, and then best of times, but we came through the day unscarred and unregretful about what we're doing. My mind might be buried in Rory at times, but it still knows I have to go to Harvard, so I can let anything, even my love for her, get in my way.

There's just something in my head nagging at me yet. It's fun darting looks and notes between each other in class, but despite how much I loathe the very idea of dating, I want to go out with Rory, and soon. I mean sure, technically the dance marathon could be considered our first 'date' in a pre-meditated way, a part of the plan Rory used to tell me she wanted me as her girlfriend. Certainly, I'm not datable to begin with; the flat date with Jamie in Washington hammered home that idea. Then of course Tristan, with the damned index cards.

But I want to try and go out with Rory, see how we would work in a public setting. This time each of us knows how we feel about each other, so things will certainly go a lot better than when someone's pining over the other, and that other is looking at their watch waiting for bedtime to finally come because they're so bored. Our conversations so far have to stick to surface issues because of time and school. I want to go deeper with her, get to know the Rory behind those blue eyes, see her for who she is. And in turn, I feel ready for her to know me more, hear my secrets, know my life as I know it.

You might think 'But it's only one day, you need some more time to think about this Paris.' That might be, but I've been denying how I feel about her for a year and a half, shoving that yearning of to the side off to the side and resigned to the fact she'd never see me that way, no matter what I did. I've been ready for Rory for months, preparing myself, steeling myself for the inconceivable, that we’d be together like this.

I know I'm ready for her, completely for a first date. I have the generic dinner and a movie date planned out, several restaurants in the Zagat circled, and hitting up CTNow and Rotten Tomatoes for movie reviews, times and ability to sneak a kiss in with your squeeze when things get sort of dull. I have everything planned in my head, from pulling up in her driveway until the last kiss goodnight, with everything else in-between.

The only problem; the performance of the asking her out. I don't know how to do it; my Sadie Hawkins ask-out towards Tristan freshman year pretty much consisted of me looking like an open-mouthed goat trying to get the words 'Will you dance with me, please' out, and failing once he eyed some mousy-looking redhead and fled away from me as fast as he could.

I have to think about this ask-out carefully as possible. Rory wants to go out with me, I know it. She likes me. No denying that.

Trouble is, am I a great dating companion, or the first girl on Elimidate to be dumped because she kept her shirt on and stayed away from the whipped cream orgy? I don't want to bore her to tears, so I better not take her to an extremely uppity restaurant where $100 for a meal is considered value pricing. Nor should Cosmos be considered material to 'get busy' to (my mind, it hurts it to think that in my head!).

This is going to be tougher than I thought; I knew romance would be tough to figure out, but this is challenging.

Then again, I'd rather be planning out how to ask Rory out than still fretting that she likes me or not. It's a good kind of worry to have, that's for sure. Rory, what I do to please you...

Rory's POV, Wednesday, 6:30pm

I've always thought of myself of being in control of all the aspects of my life, from the day I started becoming conscious about life when I was four and started to think for myself rather than out of control, weighing the consequences and my actions before I did something. Whether it be with school, life, or socially, my mind didn't wander from task one, no matter what.

It was the same with sleep. Sure I had the occasional nightmare or fairy tale princess dream like all good little girls have, but usually my dreams always involved two subjects, the events of the day, or me living the book I just read. I dreamt I was Alice, Cinderella, Goldilocks, Ramona Quimby, whatever. I even had sexual confusion and dreamed of myself as the title boy in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory once, and other guys in stories. I fell into the role well though, and no one got freaked out my voice was a little higher than usual or that my hair seemed a little long.

My dreams have advanced in the last few years once I matured into the world of dating. Dean started permeating them, followed by Jess, and the drama I had in the triangle I didn't want to be in with either of them. Usually they'd be me trying to make a choice between them and figuring things out; and then the 'dates' I went on with them seemed right out of the Vaseline-smeared scenes of some 80's guy and gal combo running in a field or kissing, or looking at a lake as the announcer tells us all that 'The Lovin' 70's has all your favorite songs, all sung by the original artists, and it can be yours for $17.95 cassette, or $23.95 for two CDs. Operators are standing by, call now!'

Yeah, I need to stop watching bad late night movies on USA, I know. Thankfully those ads haven't made their way into my current dream repertoire.

Then again, my dreams of Paris and I would be considered too hot for a channel you don't need a descrambler to watch; the kind that are without commercials or FCC restrictions.

The one I had this morning of her was kind of strange. I thought back to the time when we had the picnic basket auction, where Jess bid on my sad attempt at emulating Martha Stewart and I ended up spending the afternoon with him instead of Dean, bonding with him a little.

My mind decided to muck the image up a little, with everything that happened beforehand still going on, up until the point Jess made his eighty dollar bid. Also, I'm continuing the secret romance with Paris I had started with that dream about the night of the Bracebridge Dinner from last week...

I'm pretty much resigned to the fact that I'll be spending the afternoon with a guy I'm not really interested in, and will piss off my current boyfriend who has a problem being outwitted by someone else with guts. The boys are fighting and bickering about my bid price like I'm a cow at the slaughter with the choicest cut of beef ever available. I'm rolling my eyes at the entire situation and bored; this wasn't how I wanted to spend my day.

Dean has given up on bidding for me, leaving Jess' bid the high one. I looked at my boyfriend, whose eyes were enraged with anger directed towards my new friend, who was doing this probably as a joke to push all his buttons. No way did he have the $80; if he did, he sure cut some good selling bargains with Andrew for his old volumes at the bookstore.

"Going once," Taylor bellowed out, as I looked down at the ground, ready to be the ref again and stopping Jess and Dean from tearing each other apart limb for limb.

"Going twice..." My feet looked really interesting, maybe I could fake a fainting spell and skip the basket lunch for at least a day...

"STOP!!" I heard a voice scream out from the back of the crowd, attention was drawn towards it by everyone in the square.

"I'm offering $750 for her basket!" My eyes drew up, and I craned my neck towards the back to see who was giving out this ridiculous bid for me.

My eyes took in the back of the square, and buried towards the deep, deep back of the crowd, a blonde girl stood in front of her car, her mouth formed like a megaphone to shout out her words. The car was a dark red color and the girl's dress was a greenish colored pair of corduroy pants and a tan colored leather jacket.

It couldn't have been her, could it? How would she have known where I was, she didn't really come out all this way, right?

Taylor was too flabbergasted to take this bid as actually real, as the crowd murmured back and forth between each other. "Young lady, if this is your idea of a joke, it's not funny. This is real money going to fix a real bridge, and you must bid seriously. This basket's retail value--"

The girl spoke up, her rich and cultured tone cutting through Taylor's scold like a knife. "Mr. Doose, I assure you that my bid is a hundred percent real; you can take a counterfeit pen to my seven Benjamins and one Grant and be assured that this is real money." The crowd parted around her, and she made her way to the front. "So again, I'd like to repeat my $750 bid for one Rory Gilmore's basket." She smiled at him deviously. Her resolve was stubborn, and everyone looked towards her shocked. My basket contained but a sandwich in a baggie with a store-bought doughnut; to buy it at that price would more than cover the cost for tools and materials for the bridge at the very least.

Taylor took the money from the girl, and got a marker out from his pocket to confirm the crispness and legality of the cash, as Dean looked on, his mouth stilled and balling his fists up in annoyance. Jess, about ready to win me for the afternoon, could've shown indignation at being outbid by $670, but just watching my boyfriend's face turn red and ready to wring someone's neck was even better than his original plan to mess with Stars Hollow tradition. Taylor examined each bill closely after he marked it, holding it up towards the sun to find the plastic thread embedded in each note.

After a couple minutes, Taylor got the crowd's attention again, clearing his throat.

"Well, I've checked over this girl's money, and it's definitely real...what is your name again, I forgot it from when you were at the Bracebridge Dinner."

"It's Paris; now c'mon Merlin, chop-chop, get this over with. I want to have lunch and I'm sure most of the town here doesn't want this thing to leech into suppertime."

She directed a steely gaze towards me, those deep eyes of hers bringing me back into how I was feeling about her, torn between these two guys after me, and this uneasy, but passionate alliance the both of us shared when we could find a chance, an empty classroom or an unsupervised cloakroom during some boring parties Grandma made me go to. I felt my heart flutter up, and tried to keep my best 'Sorry Dean but you can't stop a force of nature when it wants to bulldoze through' look on my face as Taylor, feeling embarrassed about being talked down to by a 17 year-old girl, started the 'once, twice' spiel anew.

Jess wasn't about to top Paris' bid, not only because he didn't have the money to do it, but the mere torrent of teasing sure to come Dean's way Monday morning at school for being outbid by a girl was going to be a hell of a lot of fun, and he didn't have to lift a finger either.

Dean could only watch shell-shocked as my secret girl claimed my basket for 3/4 of a grand, and I was relieved to find myself out of another attempt by Jess to flirt me out of my pants. Both of us looked at each other with a smile which no one noticed, and after she made the deal final, she came over towards me, avoiding the hovering stare from Dean that said she might be smart, but he was the one making me happy.

Maybe with his gifts, he was making me happy. But as for my bedroom needs, no contest...

The dream moves forward a little, past some of the car ride up north towards Hartford. Paris has been silent throughout the ride, except to tell me that she bid because she noticed the basket auction was listed in a society newsletter Mrs. Gellar gets, an obvious attempt to sucker some richie out of some money in order to support the bridge building fund. She said she thought about it all night after she got home on Friday, and finally decided to bite the bullet and bid big to have a basket lunch with me. "I knew $750 would be out of reach for anyone," was her theory.

"$200 would have worked too," I corrected. "Dean's check averages $175 every two weeks."

She nodded, seeming uninterested in Dean's cash flow and keeping a hand on my jeaned thigh as the Ridgewood exit towards her house approached. "I honestly wanted to help out with the bridge, everyone in your town tolerated me well enough a few weeks ago, and I feel like I owe you something for the cracks about it being a farm town and out in the middle of nowhere. It's kind of a cute town, I have to admit."

That makes me smile; and in turn, a little flirty to boot. "With a cute girl living in it?" I smiled and try to unnerve Paris a little, maybe rile up her uneven libido.

"It's a possibility," she murmured a bit. "She might not be the next Martha Stewart, but she comes close to toppling Rebecca Kohls."

"The garden lady," I remembered. "I'm more partial to Katie Brown from Lifetime and A&E, she's under the radar and I have a thing for her as she talks about decorating tabletops with grass for a dinner party."

Paris shook her head. "The point is, I missed you because we were too buried in debate prep over the last week." We both were sexually frustrated over the last week because we had to take on one of those tough Greenwich prep schools and really know our stuff, killing all our couple-ly moments for the week that just followed. Somehow we took a narrow victory against them in a fiery argument over affirmative action. Paris said my humanizing some of the article subjects I used through my research won it for us. "I just wanted to make up for being my 'eyes on the prize' self, and..." she started to blush, still feeling shy about getting girly with me. "Putting my bedroom eyes on the back burner."

She slid her hand a little further up my thigh, and I was trying to keep myself under control. My body felt relaxed from her soothing rubbing, my mind far from all things academic and community. "I'm sorry too. All those nights upping my WPM and honing my cards, it took so much out of me. Then Dean getting jealous of Jess, the exams a couple weeks ago, we haven't been able to spend that time together, in the way I'd like to. Sometimes I want to run away from responsibility, from life, and you've been that for me lately..." I wandered off my track as I stiffened with want. Paris had unbuttoned her coat, revealing a dark green sweater that seemed to fit her tight. I felt weakened by my resolve to keep my hands off her. I mean we still had a couple miles to her house, I couldn't just jump her while she was driving.

All of the sudden, she started to laugh to herself, thinking out loud about something. "It's funny Ror, you know. We've been having this clandestine relationship going for two months and we've been able to keep it under wraps. Yet to have you, I just had to pay $750 for an afternoon of your time. If I mentioned my intentions for you to anyone, I'd be in the Stars Hollow hoosegow."

I was having this mixed feeling come over me as she said that. One side of my brain was feeling kind of skittish, since without the basket in the middle, I'd be considered a 'lady of the night'. Funny thought, isn't it, of me bending over into a guy's car window on Sunset and asking how he liked it and how much.

That thought was pushed out by the building arousal within me. Two weeks without so much as a kiss with her, not even a love note snuck through a vent in my locker. She just gave away so much money for an afternoon with me, the girl who put on this innocent façade around everyone she knew. I felt her hand shift again, closing in from the middle of my thigh, and a little closer to the heat I felt at the juncture between my legs.

"Oh God," I said, not holding back. "Paris, if you're talking about what I think you are, you'd better shift this thing into the next gear, quick!"

"Settle down Rory," she teasingly nagged at me, her pointer taking a detour along the bottom of my zipper fly. "No one's home. Mother is in Montreal, something about how she likes guys with French-Canadian accents. Meanwhile against his will, Daddy's stuck trying to talk some Pfizer exec in LA into a partnership in a statin drug." That finger moved up a little again, brushing up against the pull of the zipper. "I can tell you're eager, and that because of the amount I spent, that you might have performance anxiety."

God, she's going into her dark persona, the Paris I know and quiver in fear of, while at the same time, trying to bite down the urge to leave a deep mark on her neck. I say meekly I don't have an issue with how much she spent.

"Just don't want you to get nervous is all." I look at the map screen on the center console, there's one last mile north on Mountain to go. "It seems a little illicit though, I the rich girl claiming your company for the day for such a high price. Looking at you in class, knowing that beneath the oxford shirt and the left strap of your bra, I've marked you as my own. I haven't been able to claim you lately, and now for the right price, I've reclaimed you, knowing I'll always have your love." I feel the pull of my zipper as she brings it down, the privacy windows hiding her actions to the world. The exposed lilac-colored cotton that makes up my panties dampened with want as she scrapes a couple of fingernails against the fabric.

"I've paid good money for this lunch with you, and..." The car comes to a smooth stop at a stop sign, and she stretches over to me, brushing her full lips against the lower lobe of my left ear, then nuzzling her nose against the top of the outer shell. "I hope to eat from your basket shortly." The fingers she has almost inside my pants go deeper in the gap created by the undone zipper, and I cringe my eyes as a warm feeling overtakes me and spreads from my center.

I slowly let out a breath, then a soft moan at her bastardization of wordplay. The basket is all but forgotten in the back seat and my ears are focused on the Jag's robotic voice stating that the turn onto Auer Farm is coming up. "Geeze Par..." is all I can get out as her promise to partake fills my mind. "You must be starved." Yes, even in my dreams, my flirting is sort of dorky.

"I can't serve myself all the time." The sentence is soft, and I'm thankful her garage has a door right into the kitchen, because I don't want anyone to see exactly how hot I am for her. I strip my jacket off in the car, feeling wound up and like every layer I wear is too hot. I want her, and soon. She keeps a hand against my inner thigh as she makes the last turn. I can't wait to see the dark brown limestone front and iron gate of her house. "We're almost there; you can stop gripping the door armrest so tight. I don't want you to rip the leather or break the door." I give her a dirty look as I stop the death grip on the rest, seeing the imprint of my hand within the light leather.

I feel impatient, so I stretch over towards the driver sun visor and depress the remote button that opens the gate, then in tandem the garage door remote so Paris doesn't have to slow down going down the driveway towards her house. My body is hypersensitive, and my heart thuds at a heavy rate. My sweater feels tight, and I fidget to make sure the seatbelt is dead center, not brushing against my breasts and sensitizing them further. She rolls her eyes towards me, but knows that my impatience is just winding me up a little further. I can feel how hot I am, the surprise of such an unexpected taking of me driving me crazy. A boring night of reading, reviewing and fending off Jess or Dean trying to steal my second base had disappeared, turning into another surreptitious encounter with a girlfriend I wanted to shout to the world I was in love with, but would keep appearances up so that our academic rivalry remained strong.

We entered through the gate, my hands jumpy, with my vision seeming to blur and focus on those fingers near my core. The 500 foot drive into the garage passed by quicker than I thought, as I saw the light of the day fade into the mercury lights along the ceiling of the large garage at the right side of the mansion.

My heart hammers as I realize I'm about to go through with another tryst with the girl who swore she'd make my life a living hell the first time we met in the hall. She's right of course; it's hell having your mind flash a glimpse of one of your meetings for less than innocent purposes over the last two months and knowing that the girl who put planted it there is so close, yet so far away.

I breathe in and out as the car stops in line with the back wall. I look at Paris, her eyes drawing away from the view in front of the windshield. She was looking at me with all the lust that she had within her, starting to herself feel the rush of whisking me away from town so unexpectedly. Paris undid her seatbelt, and got out of the car at the same time as I did. I stared her down nervously, trying to anticipate her next move with me.

I felt so exposed, with my jeans pushed down my hips a little and the zipper undone. We both stood still for a moment, my eyes drifting over to the brick wall along the left side of the garage. Old red brick remained on the wall over there, the garage being a post-war addition onto the house and built in the same style as the Manor to blend right in with the eighty year-old structure. My gaze drifted over towards the wooden door, the entrance into the kitchen.

Slowly I made my way towards her, going around the car. She stayed still and silent, looking at my movements like I was the white queen piece trying to capture my black counterpart. "Paris," I uttered quietly. "I guess I should thank you for what you did--"

I was talking as I turned the corner and came into Paris' arms length. Immediately she stretches her hand out and grabs me near the elbow tightly, tugging me towards her. Her small body hides her underlying strength as the physically dominating one in our relationship. She pulls me towards the kitchen door, and then backs me hard into it as I hear a boom in the hard mahogany wood, my ass bumping against the panel divider in the middle.

My throat tightens as Paris moves closer again towards me, brushing her hand against my cheek slow and seductively, a torture that with her naturally shaded full lips within line-of-sight, turned me on so much. I felt the first anticipations of sex coming on, the heightened senses, and my every skin cell tingling with even a quick brush of a wrinkle of clothing against my body.

"Don't thank me for that," are her slow seductive words as she pushes into me, getting a rise on tiptoe so we could be eye-to-eye, mouth-to-mouth. "Thank me for what I'm about to do for you." Her left hand is back near my apex, the index finger sliding in the space between the buttonhole and the metal fly. She moves slowly, then opens her mouth, closing in on my upper lip.

I felt her hot breath against the top of my mouth, her teeth nipping softly at the soft flesh. She wettened it slick, trying to push my buttons. The overly studious side of myself wanted to regain control, but I didn't want anything to replace that feeling.

She unbuttoned my jeans and tried to push them off. It was just then I reminded her of where we were.

"We should...get in the...house." She kept kissing me as I tried to get the words out. "Concrete floor; it's not very sexy."

Paris moved back a little and took in her surroundings. Nope, not romantic unless you're into that 'doing a gearhead' fantasy, and I had enough of that with Dean! "My bedroom?"

"I don't know if we'll make it," I told her, the large floor plan of the house killing that idea. I drifted my vision a little to the right, to find her hand resting on the doorknob.

"You're right," she agreed, her voice becoming a whisper again. "We're not even going to make it to the dining room table from the way you're wound up." Her hand slid into my panties and along my pussy, making me hiss and hyperventilate as shocks of pleasure went through my body.

She opened the door into the kitchen, both of us stumbling messes as we navigated Sharon's attempt to assert herself as queen of the castle and worm her way into a HGTV spotlight kitchen show. Stainless steel everything, clean sparkling tiles along the backsplash, a nice breakfast nook for her social clubs to meet and look at the garden Sharon 'tended'...

My eyes drifted towards the booth, chairs and table in the corner of the room, with a bright window filtering in light and offering and an awesome view of the estate's backyard. I was distracted with trying to work Paris out of her sweater as we made progress through the room. I kissed up from her chin, forcing my way into her mouth to let her know exactly how much I missed her over the last few weeks.

I found my feet directing towards the nook corner. I tried to push Paris towards that way, but she was moving towards the door into the dining room. I had to stop her, because my mind was taking a hot drift towards using that breakfast nook for...it doesn't have to be spelt out, does it?

"Par," I caught my breath as she pushed my jeans lower. "I can't move any further, let's go in the corner." She shook her head and tried to be analytical.

"Sharon will kill me if she finds out--"

I silenced her by yanking her sweater off, pushing her against the center island, and roughly shoving up her turtleneck to expose her bra. I scraped my teeth against the aroused nipple beneath her right cup, and got out of her that familiar moan that haunted me since our first time. "I'm going to die if you don't do anything with me right there, and right now. Who gives a damn what your mother says; that's what your servants are here for, to clean up after the mess you leave!"

Paris bit her lip and looked over at the nook, the mahogany table looking so damned enticing for her to do her dirty work. She heaved in and out as my hand lingered at her belly, edging around her bellybutton, and down the middle of her body until I reached the waist of her corduroys.

She stared at me, hungry and panting. "I shouldn't," she denied again. "As much as I'd like to..."

I smiled at her deviously, keeping my hands possessively at her waist. "So you're saying that the next time you come home on Monday, you still want to look at that corner as where your mother sits with her equally empty-head crew of society chums, not as another room we christened under her nose?" I pushed her closer to the nook, my gaze direct at her, focused on my eyes. "You're a woman of action; you don't back down, no matter the odds. My intuition is telling me that you want me to lie on that table, strip me down to nothing, and then fuck me until I can't take it anymore." I gave her a stern and heated gaze, trying to rile her up.

It took about 30 more seconds of convincing her the end of the world wasn't near if she had me in her breakfast nook, and she took one more nervous glance around the room. I stood there patiently, pants half-done and smiling at my shirtless lover, hoping she'd make the right choice.

Her decision didn't take long. Suddenly, she lunged towards me, backing me right into the table, covered with the classic red-white checkered tablecloth and filled in the middle with salt, pepper and spice shakers, a napkin rack, and a kitschy cow-creamer dispenser. She swept all that stuff off to the side, along with the cloth with her outstretched arm, pinning me between the table and her. I hyperventilated, those deep eyes of her focused on myself, and nothing else.

The stuff fell to the side in a heap, the shakers and the creamer falling to the tile floor without any protection and breaking into shards and torrents of glass and ceramic upon impact. No matter that we weren't paying attention; I lay down on the table as she pulled off my shoes and yanked the jeans off my legs in a flash. I took off my v-neck sweater and threw it to the side, leaving me in underwear and ready and willing for anything she was about to do. Paris moved parallel to me, starting to kiss down my body slowly from my lips with a deep, soft, and starved kiss, all the way down my neck, through the little cleavage that I had, her lips journeying downward through my midsection.

She unclasps my front hook bra, works it off me, exposing one breast at a time and kissing around each of my puckered nipples. The cold air against my chest is chilly, and does nothing but arouse me further. The blue article is dispensed of within a few moments of her undoing, and I can't help but stimulate myself as she moves lower down my body. I run one hand along my body, while the other runs along the opening of my panties to tease my clit and slicken my pussy for what is sure to be a tension-killing fuck sure to relax me enough to make me forget the boys fighting over me and how much I want this girl above me.

Closer and closer she moves, a lioness on the prowl. Down to my belly, she lingers the kisses slower and slower. I beg of her to hasten her movements lower, but there's nothing doing. She nags me to be patient and I can't think that she's enjoying seeing that dark spot of arousal build in front of my opening on the cotton. I know I smell good; but dammit, I also so feel so fucking good.

I keep begging and begging for her, that tongue of hers licking against the lacy waistband of my undies. Paris always knows how to torture me, and she's doing such an awesome job.

She looks up at me across my naked form. "You're beautiful as always," she lets me know. "It's a pity I have to share you with Deano." She moves her hands to the sides of my panties, pushes the article down my thighs, again slow, again spreading out my orgasmic bliss so that she makes me feel like I've left my body once I come. She slides them off once she reaches my feet, and non-chalantly lets them fall to the floor in a heap.

At that point, I'm just a naked girl on the Gellar breakfast table, about to be worshipped by a girl who respects me and has my heart. Paris rises up, smiles towards me, and I prepare to spread myself open to accommodate her.

"Rory, are you ready?" She asks, her concern being my comfort and being pleased. Her eyes reflect the admiration she has for me, and I nod, giving her permission to move in and bring me to bliss.

I feel her move between my legs, her hot exhalations already stiffening my clit into action...

"Rory?" she asks again. I start to feel myself quake quite a bit as I acknowledge her question.

Again, she says my name as a question. Her mouth isn't any closer to my trunk...what the hell?!

I acknowledge again, she says my name as a question. "Rory? Rory? Rory?"

"WHAT?!" I'm becoming irritated with her constant name-dropping.

"Rory?" OK, that's it, I can't take this anymore, I have to shut her up and tell her that everything's fine.

"I'M RIGHT HERE!" I grit out through my teeth, impatiently.

Now if you notice, the dream went from heated to irritating within the space of a minute. You want to wonder why? Was it Tristan or Dean entering stage left and asking to join in? Did the maid come in and notice us? Did Sharon walk in with groceries?

"Rory, wake up, Rory..."

Nope, it was Paris' voice morphing into that of my mom's, her hand shaking my back, trying to rouse me awake out of bed.

"RORY!" I hear Mom picking up her tone. "Come back to reality here kiddo!"

It was then I realized that Mom usually isn't the one to wake me up. I open my eyes a little to take a look at my alarm clock, trying to focus on the glowing numbers through the haze of sleep.

A few moments later, I start to realize what time it is, once I see a 6 shape at the far end of the display...

I mumble out a "What?" to Mom, and try to turn back into bed...

"Rory, it's 6:40, get up otherwise I'm pouring cold water on your head!"

6:40, 6:40...I try to recall the meaning of the time in my head...

Holy shit! I was still in bed with an hour-twenty-five to go before school; 6:40 is the time I'm usually sipping my morning blend and eating my cinnamon toast at Luke's.

I rose out of bed like a bat out of hell, already attentive. "SIX!! FORTY?! It's six freakin' forty?! Please tell me this is a dream!"

Lorelai told I was in reality alright; by pinching my arm at the wrist! "We're behind Sleeping Beauty, really badly."

"Ouch!" I reeled back my arm as she moved away from the side of my bed. "No, this can't be right, the alarm is set for 5:30, it's just early..." I wandered off, looking at the clock once again, reading the cursed 20 to seven time. "It's 6:40!"

"I think we've established the time more than a NewsRadio 88 anchor on speed here, get up!" My mom was being extra snarky this morning, and this certainly wasn't helping.

I was already grumpy, and finding out your alarm backup was asleep on the job only makes your mood worse. "What time did you get up?"

"6:30," Mom said.

"But what about the fuzzy clock, don't you set that for 5:30?" I asked. She shook her head at me and explained the fuzzy clock had no working battery for at least three weeks, thus she was depending on my biological clock's punctuality as her wake-up call.

"Why didn't you put a new battery in it?" I asked, trying to stay calm. "We have extra batteries in the junk drawer, why didn't you look there?"

"Because, you still tick when I throw you against the floor," she reasoned. "Fuzzy clock breaks, fuzzy clock's alarm is annoying, fuzzy clock--"

"Fuzzy clock needs a AAA battery in it because I'm not having this happen again!"

"Well look who got up from the wrong side of the bed," Mom joked. That only soured my mood even further with her. "Wait, you're not even out of bed yet, but you're grumpy, so technically--"

"Paris is gonna kill me, that's what she's going to do," I reasoned out loud, getting out of bed by throwing the blankets towards my nagging mother. "I promised to meet her at Luke's at 6:55, non-negotiable. Now she's gonna drive away without me, and probably she'll be mad all day because I ditched her."


"I have to get in the shower. I need to catch up and pray that I can get everything done in the next ten minutes... " I stopped at my dresser for only enough time to make sure my underwear and socks matched (Paris' little lecture at me Monday about matching in the locker room had made me really self-conscious about that) and that my uniform was pressed and clean. I couldn't even hear Mom as she tried to stop me. In her voice's place was that firm voice of Par's like a drill sergeant pushing me to the limits and demanding I do fifty pushups.

I slammed the bathroom door hard, slipped out of my pajamas and hopped into the shower, turning the water on hot straight-out and almost burning myself in the process. My mind was still spinning from the dream that made me oversleep; Paris drawing in closer, about to touch the tip of her tongue against my clit...

And Mom woke me up from it! I washed my hair, starting to feel embarrassed that my mom had to wake me from a sex dream! I flushed cherry red, thinking about what may have happened if it had been twenty minutes later and I'd be near the climax...the guilt of seeing that would probably give both of us a heart attack.

I stood there in the shower, doing my usual routine of shampoo, conditioner and body wash, wishing I was feeling normal and staid. Instead my mind was heated from the images that just went through my brain. I wanted to stop and relax and finish out the dream so much, even if I had to create the rest in a daydream. Thinking about Paris like that, as a sexual aggressor who used a town event to get into my pants. God, my dreams were never this depraved when Dean was mine.

I felt myself warm from more than the shower spray as I thought back to the exact moment when I was so rudely interrupted by my mom's hand shaking me awake. It had lasted through an hour of an alarm I wasn't sure went off or not, and I was wet when I got out of bed. The muscles in the back of my neck were tight, my heart beating just from the very idea that I was dreaming of Paris seducing me like that.

I wanted to do more than take a shower, so badly. I felt knotting all over and a certain uncertainty that I didn't finish what I started, my whole morning was incomplete. I gulped everything down however, and focused on the time rather than my needs as I rushed through the bathroom tasks and slid into my uniform a few minutes later, continuing my morning routine, no matter that my body was telling me to do more than smell the coffee.

Coffee...my thoughts were distracted by that as I ran out into the kitchen, the microwave clock confirming the time.

6:57, it read. If I wasn't dead before, I should start my last will and testament, because Paris was going to be here any minute to bitch me out about time management and my incompetent alarm clock. I headed into my room panicky, with an undone tie hanging around my neck, my shirt tucked on one side and not the other, and askew socks...

"Fourteen minutes, I'm impressed Gilmore. I would've figured you a seventeen minute shower girl." And apparently, a certain blonde girl is sitting on my bed, taking in the décor of my bedroom, and smiling at me like I was the biggest dork in all of human kind.

I was panting and in a rush to get to the town square in the next ten minutes, and my reason for getting there, Paris, was sitting on my bed, holding a cup in her hands and her messenger bag draped over her shoulder. Suffice to say I was shocked; how did she know? Why was she in my room, and not waiting for me outside.

"What are you doing--" I tried asking her and making excuses for my lateness that didn't involve her and I...together in dreamland.

She stood up from her spot on the bed, came towards me, and smiled. "While you were rushing to get into the shower, your mom was trying to yell at you to call me and have me stop here at the house instead of the diner. Since the combination of you showering with a cell phone to your ear might prove to be fatal, she used your phone to call me just as I was getting into town and let me know you slept in this morning."

"Oh." I could only see myself as a mouse, small and meek. In my rush to be on time, a simple detour to my phone and her directory entry would've brought her to the house instead of me running towards the town center on pure adrenaline. Stupid, I chastised within my mind.

Paris moved towards me, her nervous energy getting to me. She felt as awkward about the situation as I did, looking towards the window.

She played with the edge of the cuff of her sweater as she went on. "I didn't know if we had time or not to stop at Luke's, so I stopped there and ask for a couple take-out cups. This one is yours. I gave the other cup to your mom." I was handed the cup of warm joe, but she kept her attempt at banter up. "I hope one creamer and a pinch of sugar was fine, that's what Luke told me you usually took."

I sipped it for a jolt and to make sure it tasted fine. Indeed it was perfect as usual. "Good memory," I said softly, my mind thinking more about Paris instead of coffee, and how she was looking at me. I must've looked the part of a mess with how I dressed, buttoned and covered, but not straightened out. I felt out of it, awkward. Why were we suddenly not so verbal, looking at each other the way we have the last two days but not saying anything?

I sat the cup on the dresser, feeling embarrassed about my state of dress out of the shower. I needed to straighten myself out first, think about Paris' romantic interlude second. "How was the drive down?" I asked nervously.

"Good. Non-eventful, my car isn't scratched, no rain, another postcard autumn day in the land of nutmeg." I started to tuck the blouse in my skirt, a silent version of throat-clearing trying to communicate I needed privacy. "Did you look over that proposal from the Armory about a rental increase for the Winter Formal?"

I nodded back, looking Paris over. She looked the same as the last four days I've seen her. Still smart, beautiful, driven, that hidden sexuality only I truly knew and was trying to bring out sort of subdued after a cooled day yesterday, no thanks to Mr. Mercurio deciding that our Russian Novels class was 'the worst he ever tested' through that one pop quiz, and forcing us to start War and Peace over again for no reason except he's a top-par asshole.

I told her rushed I had read the report, feeling her eyes on me with each move I made. My suggestion was to halve their asking price of $3,500 with our usual yearly $2,500 bid that sufficed for twenty years. We both knew the state guard was using the building for military activities again and to show support for them the price increase was necessary. My mind was more concerned with her staring however. My blouse was unbuttoned down two places and a head gesture to show her out of the room wasn't working.

As I went on about the proposal, she moved towards me, invading my arms length in that assertive Paris-like way I've pretty much become used to over the last couple years. "Fine, we'll try to ask them for $3,000 rent. What's on my mind right now however is you." Her voice was firm, yet the dominating message within the statement was expressed clearly. "How, if you have a 5:30 wakeup time, did you end up just hopping out of the shower now? I checked your alarm clock, it has a loud alert and works just fine, so you can't tell me you slept through an hour of that, or seven nine-minute snooze periods."

"I don't even know if my alarm went off," I responded honestly. "It was 6:40, Mom shakes me awake, I curse a little in my head and I'm off for the shower." I shook a little as she moved closer towards me.

"Look, it's OK, sometimes we oversleep, at least I knew before I got mad at you about it. Which I wouldn't have unless you decided to go Sandra Dee on me overnight and shirk all responsibility altogether."

"OK, good, I'm glad you said that." I tittered softly, my sarcasm synapses apparently on holiday. "I don't look good in leather anyways."

"You know," Paris brought her voice down to a whisper. "Lorelai had to run to the neighbor's for a few minutes."

"Babbette and Morey's?" I was getting annoyed that my compressed routine was getting sidelined. "But she usually doesn't go out there in the mornings to talk..." I felt her move closer, seemingly in an attempt to pin me towards a wall.

"Rory, connect the dots." I felt my rear bump the wall farthest from the window. "If we weren't the way we are now, you really think I'd be in your room, much less your house? I'd be waiting in the car honking the horn every minute, waiting for you to come out." She curled the corners of her lips up, lowering her voice a little more. "Lorelai kind of played an Ed Belfour role because it was odd to those two my car pulled up here at this time of morning, and right now she's trying to make sure they know I have permission to come here. They were about to play twenty questions with me, where are you from, what kind of music you like, how many pets, those kinds of things. Lorelai saw me, ran out from the porch towards me, took her coffee and played interference as I walked into the house and waited for you."

"So wait," I tried to clear my head. "They tried to intercept you, but..." I felt a cool hand plant against my side, and I knew just what Paris was doing with me.

"Twelve years of meet-and-greets have trained me well, avoidance is key. I'll talk to them one day, but once 6:55 comes, you're my charge. That means doing anything and everything to get to this point." Her left thumb lifted the hem of the blouse, the untucked side, to gain access to the waist of my skirt. "In plain English, that means I want what we've both wanted in these last two days."

My lungs staggered, and I struggled to breathe normally as I awaited another of those blood-rushing kisses I was fast getting used to. Still, my mind tried to setup a punchline. "Proper Chilton uniform protocol?"

She laughed smally, wrapping an arm around the small of my back. "You can fix it in the car Gilmore."

"What about breakfast?"

She pointed to the breast pocket of her blouse. "Grabbed a pack of raspberry. Just eat it over a napkin and throw the pop tart wrapper in the ashtray after you unwrap; I'll make an exception about eating in the car just this one time."

My excuses for putting off the morning kiss were fast running out. "I haven't gargled yet--"

She put a finger to my lips, and brushed a slick wet clump of hair back to behind my ear. "Just suck on an Altoid." I laughed a little, those words so familiar from a year ago when she was my last-minute Romeo.

"I'm not in the mood to, right now at least." I felt kind of geeky, but that feeling went away as Paris closed the distance between us and softly kissed me on the lips, her hands resting at my sides, her focus on me and nothing else. I brought myself into the atmosphere of the buss, starting to feel the exciting rush of kissing the girl I liked with my mother only next door, less than a hundred feet away keeping the nosy neighbors at bay. As we kissed, my mind spun with whether I should tell Paris the real reason I overslept, since I felt sexually charged right about there.

It was interesting to say the least, keeping one eye on her and trying to make sure we both had enough space so that if we heard my mom's footsteps approaching towards the kitchen we could separate in moments. It was a kiss that lasted a minute, one that made me feel relieved. We broke, both flushed, thankful no one had seen us. I felt a thrill at sneaking a morning kiss with my lover for once, trying to keep a smile off my face because Paris didn't get mad at me about oversleeping.

"That was...nice," I stumbled out, feeling light as I brought myself towards the nightstand and the hot coffee for a sip. "I should oversleep more often if that's the way you're going to say good morning to me." I smirked towards her as she flopped back down on my bed and rolled her eyes.

"Next time it's cold water in a bucket, whether you're awake or not." Always amazing how her sarcasm dial can go from 3 to 11 in less than ten seconds. "We better get the lead out, I only allowed ten minutes of extra time out of town and last night's sleet made the trip down a little sluggish."

I sighed towards her and shook my head, knowing that even if the end of the world was nigh at 8:06am, Paris would still go to school and be sucked up to whichever afterlife destination she believes in stuck to her desk.

We've pretty much fallen into a routine once I straighten myself out and get into the car. It's nice to see that some things have changed, but our discussions in-car seem to stay the same and within that academic banter that only could turn on the two of us. I discuss what I read, and make sure that what I've noted myself matches her version of events, but not too closely so that a higher-up might think we're cheating. She's also interested in what I've been studying lately, picking up some more journalism classes for my last Chilton semester so that I can get a good headstart on my college credits. Of course she has hers already, but she thinks I'm on a good track nonetheless.

The radio isn't even turned on anymore, nor do I take out my Walkman and try to block out things anymore when I'm in the Jag. How could I possibly concentrate on the latest news and traffic when I'm too busy staring at the blonde next to me blatantly and unhidden? I never thought of myself as a gawkier when it came to love, probably because of the lack of a physical attraction for Dean. Yes he was cute, and the hair did something for me, it made him look younger. But he was big and gangly, and imagining what I wanted to do with him was always a balancing act between fantasy and reality, with the only solution seeming to deny Dean's height and bringing him to my eye level instead.

I don't do that with Paris though. I watch her slip into the car next to me, sliding her key into the ignition, and she looks beautiful. Her eyes concentrate on the road no matter what I say, her hands almost staying still on the steering wheel except when she has to stop. When she's in her seat, Paris is more relaxed behind the wheel than she ever will be anywhere else. When she extended the invitation for me to ride home, the reason I felt skittish about her giving me a ride was because her car is really her castle. She maintains it religiously, even for a little knock in the engine (One deep study session evening between us earlier in the year was spent in the lobby of a Jiffy Lube while her oil was changed), and by entering it, it was another step to say that I was really becoming her best friend.

I feel like I want her to keep on trusting me, and I hope she continues to do that now that I'm her lover. I'm nervous now that I'm not just looking at her and wishing I could be in her arms. But if the last three days, especially today, are an indication of how our relationship will go, I think we'll last quite a long time.

Maybe even 'lifers', as Louise described how close I was to Dean in happier days.

I should probably clarify that. I meant in my younger, more clueless, and in denial days.

Just as long as Paris is in the driver's seat, I'd stay by her side, better or worse.

"So I'm thinking that Gregory Smith of Everwood is cute, don't you agree Madeline?" Louise says.

It's another Wednesday lunch at the table I share with Madeline, Louise and Paris, where I'm convinced day by day that the lime Jell-O is neither lime, gelatin, or flavorful. We still sit next to each other, and this is about as close to her I'll get in school publicly with everyone around. Paris picks at her meatloaf with the plastic fork, having long polished off her regular salad. I don't even bother with the meat, going ala carte with a chicken sandwich, the salad, and an oatmeal cookie in place.

Madeline seems distant lately, her eyes drifting left and right as she takes in conversation and tries to wring wittiness out of it. "Everwood? What's that?"

Now this is a shock, Madeline not watching a show filled with a new hunk. Paris even has to look up and comment. "The sugary-sweet product of a Dawson's Creek writer featuring the lead of the mediocre Substitute sequels as a father fleeing the ghost of his dead wife in Manhattan by moving himself and his rugrats to a town she probably coasted by once and thought was pretty from the interstate wayside. It follows the Christian Right rhetoric and community theater troupe of 7th Heaven. Tell me you haven't at least heard of it."

Again, Madeline isn't in denial, shaking her head. "Sorry, I've been elsewhere on the dial Monday nights."

"Where else, there's nothing else worthwhile on TV that night," Louise argued. "At least eye-candy wise. No offense to The American Experience you two, just not my bag unless there's a JFK profile."

Pigeonholing us into our PBS geekiness, Paris quickly strikes back. "None taken, Marilyn Monroe reincarnated." Louise then sticks out her tongue towards her and calls Paris a know-it-all. Both Par and Lou are so used to their mental catfighting it's almost as natural to them as breathing. They'll still be friends to the end, but one of them will probably leave a last retort in their entry on the funeral visitation log.

"Guys, focus here," I implore, trying to bring the conversation back Madeline's way. "Something wrong Mads?"

She smiled shyly, trying to draw focus away from herself. "I'm good," she smiles fine to reassure us. "After the last season of the Creek I'm not ready to take up new poster boys. I just want...plot, you know, and I'm not getting it lately. So I've taken to watching other stuff on TV. If it involves science and geeky stuff, so be it."

Louise interrupts her. "Hot and geeky science hunks?" she intones with her husky 'sex' voice.

"You forget I watched Mr. Wizard all the time when I was a kid," she said wearily. "All that stuff was cool, and you can only watch fashion shows on Style so many times before it becomes boring."

I nodded at Paris for confirmation of this fact, surprised as she confirmed Madeline's science interest. "The house staff had to keep baking powder and soda on hand on the off chance she saw something she wanted to replicate on her own."

Madeline speaks up, and our attention is drawn back towards her. "My favorite," she lifts a hand up, "was that tornado in a bottle thing, with that thing you screwed in the middle between two two-liter bottles. You'd put water in a bottle, screw in the top and then the other, and whoooosh, we're not in Kansas anymore!" She gets giddy at describing this, very animated. "All the fire stuff was cool too, but Daddy never let me do that because he didn't want me to get burned."

"Would you still be interested in science?" I queried Madeline.

"It's still my best class," she reminded me. "Not many dateworthy guys, not much stuff to do otherwise, so I listen and pay attention."

"You have to remind me of this everyday." Louise butts into the conversation unannounced. "If it was up to me the only chemistry I'd be studying is a soap hunk's perspiration and how to clone the DNA contained for my very own willing and able copy..."

I wasn't listening to Louise bitch about class, my eyes following Madeline's as she found her concentration jar towards the middle aisle of the dining hall towards a trash can. Her features stilled and became neutral as her stare went from across the table and she moved her head a couple of inches towards her left. I notice she straightened her sweater out and ran a couple fingers through her hair, and I can't figure out why for a bit. I sense some nervous energy, her eyes drifting towards a group of three boys turned around, their backs towards us.

She takes a sip from her chocolate milk and clears her throat as they turn around and head towards us and an empty table past us a ways. She gulps it down and the boys turn around.

The signals that Madeline is swooning are really starting to come on strong to me as a bystander, as Brad and two of his buddies from the Robotics and Computer Sciences class walk towards us and Madeline. Instantly there's a connection between Brad and Maddie, and I watch them make eye contact from across the room for but a moment. She pushes in her chair as a sign of courtesy, and they come closer towards us. Louise's ramble has moved onto the latest All My Children developments.

"Madeline, thank you." Brad speaks in that tremble he only has when he's in Paris' line of vision, and he acknowledges all of us. "Rory, Louise..." he trails off as I see Paris give him that focused death glare. "P-p-aris."

"Uhh, you're welcome Brad." Madeline is never shy around boys, which is another sign of what she wants. "Good meatloaf today, isn't it?" Nervous and neutral is how she was speaking to him.

Brad looks down at his tray as he tries to squeeze lengthwise since Louise won't move her chair for him. "Hopefully." Brad directs a funny smile her way, Louise rolling her eyes up at him and his two friends.

"Let's go Langford, we don't have all day," she snipes, pulling her chair in so they can get through. Madeline stills, shocked at how her friend is talking to Brad. They move through the aisle as Madeline looks on towards Brad, then relaxes as the distance between them increases and they sit at their own table. Everything goes back to normal, as Paris finds her salad more interesting than what just went on.

"Louise." Madeline asks for her attention sternly, her voice taking an uncharacteristic firmness. "Why do you have to be so mean to him, he just wanted to get through."

"There's plenty of other aisles in this room, he could've used one of those." Louise says matter-of-factly.

"This one's closer to his table."

"So, I don't want that buffalo stuffer anywhere near me. Anyone who calls playing a video game fun with chodes online isn't worth the time and effort to acknowledge."

Madeline feels hurt from Louise's words, and Paris and I watch as they start to fight. "He just said hi to us, that's no reason to tear the poor boy's head off."

"It's plenty of reason, face it, he's hopelessly uncool." Louise points and Madeline's eyebrows scrunch down in anger. "Why any girl would be interested in him..."

I notice Paris take in everything Louise is saying, and although her and Brad don't get along, she doesn't outright hate him. She's told me this before, that she needs someone to occasionally make fun of, but really she wants to encourage him to be a little less geeky and gain a little confidence. Listening to Louise, I can tell she's had enough.

She firmly interrupts Lou with that tone that still scares me, even now. "Grant, back off. He's Brad, not the token louse from an 80's fraternity movie. He has good points and bad points, and frankly if a girl likes him, more power to her."

Our blonde friend is of course thrown for a loop; she'll never win this argument. "But he's such a geek--"

"Yet you associate with both of us." she reminds, her face neutral as she points towards me. "Retract the claws and pick on some two-bit soap actress instead. That is, unless you hate Rory and I for being smart ourselves. Lest you also forget that you carry a 3.50 GPA and keep up with Rory and I somehow."

"Paris, I just hate the guy. He's so meek and annoying, and has no backbone."

"I like Brad too," I say, trying to form a majority. "So if you want to make fun of him, do it on your own time."

"But--" Louise was stumbling over her words and losing her cause to make fun of him. "He's a---" She threw her hands around trying to justify her teasing, then gave up knowing that none of us backed her up. "Fine, I won't make fun of Richie Cunningham over there anymore, you all win!"

"LOUISE!" Madeline gritted her teeth at her, annoyed at the Ron Howard comparison. "No more."

"Yeah, yeah, I'm done. God, if you weren't just like me I'd think you had a crush on the guy." Louise isn't looking at Madeline as she's saying this, and thank goodness, because her eyes just widen in surprise, she whimpers, and then blushes at the very insinuation of her infatuated with Brad.

Paris and I sneak a look towards each other, Madeline's face revealing all. She doesn't notice us, just focusing on hiding her secret longing. "Of course not, why would I ever want a boy like him. I'd rather have...a stallion in the sack, of course." Not very convincing Lynn, not at all. Louise doesn't notice her inflection fade, and within moments they go back to looking at their lunch.

Meanwhile I can go back to what my thoughts were previously. School is starting to feel a lot more different now that Paris is mine. I looked forward to going to school before we finally acknowledged there was something here that's between us. Not only for the educational aspects, but so that I could stare for hours on end at the vexing blonde that took on the role of my girlcrush for months and months. I could now look at her for free, unnoticed, without any repercussions or suspicions by her that I was noticing her in more as more than my editor and leader.

I feel my heart pound in my chest whenever I'm near her, my nerves on high alert. Then, at that lunch table, I felt my stomach twist around because she was so close to me. Above the table, we looked like we had plenty of space between us. The thing about appearances, however, was that they can be deceiving.

You've probably figured out I wasn't saying much through that discussion. I would've loved to defend Brad more than I did and irked on both Madeline and Paris some more because of what Louise was saying about him, the boy didn't deserve her grief because she wasn't able to able to attract the attention of her cornerback guy for the last couple of days.

My mind was in the conversation, sure, I heard just about everything that happened and my attention was trained on trying to figure out if Madeline and Brad were interacting more than in that awkward talk about meatloaf.

But just try to keep all of your attention on a matter when that damned girl you really like has her hand along the side of your skirt, getting her flirt on without saying one word. Then just try to think of a way to unwind your way out of something romantic beneath the table.

That's right, while Paris brought down Louise's bravado at defending her teasing of Brad, at the same time beneath the table, her right foot was bared and out of her shoe, and rubbing up against my bared ankle. Today I was wearing ped socks that end just above the ankle. I took a quick glance below the table as Madeline was talking to Brad with Louise's attention on them, noticing that there was something brushing against my left shin.

My first thought was an apple had rolled from another table and ended up at my feet. That was unlikely since the tables were pretty big and it would take a lot for one to roll off the huge surfaces. Paris hadn't tried anything funny Tuesday and was trying to maintain the 'no kissing at school' rule we agreed to, which I thought would kill any kind of sexual vibe at school that we could share. I guess when you've been on the sidelines of love for as long as Paris has, there's some built-up energy that's been in her for years yearning to get out.

Her hand wasn't actually on my thigh, rather she was brushing it above the fabric of the skirt with her pinkie finger, appearing on the outside to anyone else to be innocent. But it wasn't. I feel my breath deepen and my blood rush down with the slight caresses of her fingertip against my side. Never had I thought of Paris being the type to be a physical flirter. I had a hint of that last week with the car incident, but I'm starting to learn from her that this light touch to her is just as sensual as sharing a kiss with her. I started thinking then about how nice it was that she was left-handed and able to keep her right hand otherwise occupied with me when we sat together.

I felt a thrill at getting away with this kind of contact in school with our friends watching, both of them clueless that we're a couple. Paris' toes brushed along the ridge of the opening of my shoe, along my ankle. I hold back a shudder, looking dead-on at Madeline and Louise without any emotion except that the chicken sandwich was quite tasty. That Paris does this without a word, focusing more on her class work in her head and the meatloaf in front of her than the fact she's driving me crazy beneath the table, it's strange that it all comes back to the flirting that we did to each other over the last year. I heave a breath, wanting more contact with her, but knowing I won't get it unless there's a sudden fire drill and an opportunity to flee elsewhere in the school.

I keep denting into my salad, those damned smooth legs of hers teasing me and teasing me. It's been about ten minutes, and Louise's guy came by to whisk her away God knows where for a quickie. The wait for the lunch bell is torturous as I open up a book and Paris takes her Palm organizer out of her bag to update her assignments. Madeline rests her elbow on the table and props her chin on her hand, uninterested in anything except looking towards Brad's table. I fork a tomato and a few greens, then slather it in some dressing, starting to munch on it. My face looks more interested in looking as if its chewing food rather than having shortened breath from Paris' foot against the back of my leg.

Daydreaming, my mind was drifting off from school as Paris continued her erotic torture unabated. It thought about how wound up I was after the basket dream, how I felt unfulfilled and so turned on with Par in my room, but didn't act because of the pesky 'mom 100 feet away at Babbette and Morey's' factor. I really wanted to tell her about the dream and her role in it while she drove to school, but I'm still trying to gauge how much she wants to hear about me away from Chilton. Also after how she reacted when I kissed her Monday morning suddenly on the road, I didn't want her swerving off an overpass hearing about us defiling Sharon's breakfast nook.

The time passed slowly, but soon it was 12:45, and after finishing my chapter the bell rang and Paris' foot left my side. She slid it back into her shoe and I ate the last of my salad, filled from the meal. I got up and felt a little dizzy from my legs seeming to be jelly-like from Par's machinations through the meal.

Madeline got up from her seat and gathered her stuff, shaking her head. "See you two in seventh, I gotta go wake up Louise from her afterglow." I laughed as Paris rolled her eyes, and we both said goodbye.

We cleared our places at the table and threw our trash in the can, starting to walk out of the dining hall close together. She was giving me this funny look out of the corner of my eye for some reason, this little smile that was getting to me and making me wonder. We left the hall and went out into the courtyard, heading towards our lockers.

Suddenly she took my hand, and yanked me away from the walkway around the fountain towards a patch of bushes in a corner after she looked both ways and saw no one near us.

I asked her what was up, but she didn't answer me right away, just giving me this hovering and nervous look before we headed into the small grove and I was able to ask her what was up.

"Did I do something wrong?" I asked nervously. "You're smiling like The Joker, Jack Nicholson version here at me. What is with you today, you're all happy and caressing..."

I was about to start one of my patented unfocused rambles, when I found a finger coming towards my face. She kept quiet until her index finger was against the left side and ridge of my upper lip.

"You might want to blot more next time, that dressing's been irking me for about five minutes." She rubbed her finger slowly and seductively against my face, obviously cluing me into the fact that I had ranch dressing on my lip I forgot to wipe off when I was finished, being occupied by other things. She moved the finger against my cheek, gathering up the remainders of my meal while at the same time sensitizing my body and most likely, causing me to be antsy through the two periods until Life Sciences I wouldn't be sharing with her. Moaning, she pursed her lips out and drew the finger back towards herself.

Wide-eyed, I took in the sight of Paris Gellar, who days before I wouldn't associate with the word 'sensual', teasing me with her actions and the few words she mustered as my vision took in her fingertip with a small dollop of ranch dressing resting on the tip. What is she about to do? I could only form basic thought as what I thought she'd do with it, actually happened.

She stuck out her tongue and licked the dressing from her finger, my eyes wide and my libido doing backflips. All the while Paris was giving me that secret smile she directs only towards me, and I stilled my breathing at this erotic sight. She was tasting me, only not. She finally closed her mouth and let the taste settle on her palate, her face turning from sensual to satisfied, closing her eyes taking in the familiar tang of the ranch dressing, mixed with the saltiness of my skin.

I will not kiss her, I will not kiss her, I will not kiss her!! No kissing at Chilton!! My mind kept replaying my Ground Rule #1 for this new thing with Par as she kept looking so damned irresistible and the entire lunch spun through the filter of my brain. I felt like I'd collapse in on myself if I walked. She heaved out a breath, starting to open up her eyes and recover from the little scene she just spun. God, even though we're together now, she's still a little troublemaker who gets off on seeing me all annoyed and out of breath.

Paris smiled towards me, and as I settled my heart down, she just kept that hovering look still.

"I've always wanted to do that," she says matter-of-factly. "It's a big pet peeve of mine, how could you be so forgetful today Gilmore?"

Sure, blame the girl with a fogged-up mind caused by your one-sided footsie game! I knew she was baiting me, but all the same that soft monotone had that know-it-all spin that still sort of annoys me a little. No matter though, the way she was looking at me all flushed and unsteady, with a fast-beating heart. I never thought of her as full of surprises, but right now I'm just glad that there is no fantasy anymore. Everything is reality.

Everything, including what I said in reaction to what she just did. I brushed some stray hair back and stumbled through. "You finally got your revenge on me, some of that dressing on the lips during lunch was on purpose, you know that?" I clasped my hand in hers, enjoying the privacy we had.

Paris nodded and tittered nervously. "I know that now, but there was an inkling and a hope that you were goading on my libido." She looked down at the ground, then back towards me. "You enjoyed that lunch, right? Because I can reel back--"

"Please don't!!" I cried out, a little panicked. "Uh, what I meant is really, really liked what you did, it's nice." I shuffled my foot around a little, nervous I wouldn't get to class on time. "I never knew that you had that kind of thing in you, you know? It's secret and nice and..."

She brushed my knuckle, then let go of it as we got ready to separate until 7th period. "No need to elaborate, the point is made." She hesitated, and helped direct us out of the bushes. "I just want to be nice, you know? I have so much lost ground to make up for, and I want to be perfect, get everything right, not fail you. I don't want you to go back to hating me, you know?"

I decided to leave and separate from her, leaving her with words that were sure to kill the worries she might have had about getting everything with us right.

"Oh, trust me Par, I can't hate you anymore. But..." I lowered my voice a bit and gave her a hovering once-over. "Revenge on what you did to me at lunch today sure will be sweet." I let the sentence hang, and left her behind and still where she stood as she watched me walk towards the Ambrose building and my next class. My hope was that she would know what I was getting at, and leave her salivating for more when it comes to me. What we have, it's like a board game. I have to plot out my next move carefully around Paris' grand gestures, while at the same time trying to accommodate what she wants. I walk down the hall towards my locker with a spring in my step, and I'm looking forward to lunch for more than the salad for now on.

I'm going to keep Paris as mine, whether it takes a fight or not. Hopefully not a fight, more like a passionate argument, I'd rather have it start that way than to fight her. Just the thrill of this relationship beneath the noses of everyone we both know is quite enough for me.

I just have to start remembering to do a loose tie on my shoes from now on; you never know when an opportunity could come up again to plant my 'revenge' towards her...

It's my last period of class, number seven, Life Sciences. Usually a class I don't direct full attention towards because my scientific mind does very well and the external reading I do outside of science classes helps in lessening how much dependence I have on the textbooks during assignments and tests. With Paris sitting next to me, the class becomes all that more distracting. Though the stools we sit at are wobbly, I love the table in front of us and our seating in the back. The table is covered at the front, and no one unless they walk into the classroom can see what we're both doing. Dr. Eure, the teacher, is also a nice lady, far from the image I was expecting of a rough teacher like Popular's Ms. Glass character, who lives and dies on taunting her students.

Since it's our last period, we also have the easier and more relaxing class, and that shows in my fellow peers. She doesn't enforce uniform rules in this period as strictly as most of the other teachers, so the guys in front of me have unknotted ties and popped collars, while the girls untuck their shirts to prepare early for dismissal. Paris ruffles at this habit, but she accepts some things can't change, like that. I keep my uniform tucked, clean and straight just to appease her.

I keep my feet on the bottom rail of the chair, keeping any temptations of doing something with Paris to myself. She's concentrated hard in her notes, the pages and pages of information in her thin compressed left-hand cursive seemingly unreadable to everyone but her, though I'm making progress in decoding her language when I need to borrow them. The class info is filled out in the corner of the sheet fully, a habit she'll never break.

As Dr. Eure goes on about mitochondria, I find myself trying to find a way to talk to Paris about this morning's dream now, rather than when we're on the road or in the Franklin, since talking in the newspaper office after everyone leaves doesn't guarantee privacy. I knew what Dr. Eure was talking about already, so I didn't need to note, and I'm sure Paris didn't either. There was something inside of me that wanted to tell her about the dream, just how would I go about it?

I looked at the notebook in front of me, and towards Paris. Since I'm a righty and she's a lefty, there was open space between our sides of the table so that we could come a little closer towards the center without suspicion. I looked towards the lectern; Dr. Eure was reading from her syllabus, unnoticing our corner of the room.

Passing notes is something I do in class occasionally, but not often. I looked at my book and Par's, and had a brainstorm. If we could have a conversation through our notebooks and without words, we'd look like we'd take notes to everyone else, but between us, shared a private talk within that same class. It was a foolproof method of talking to my girlfriend, without the actual talking!

I'm going to make this work, was what I determined, try to talk to her and keep everything down-low. The worst thing that could happen is that she wouldn't budge from her notes and say no to my offer. It would be like a crude form of instant messaging was the way I thought, talking and then chatting back. It was perfect.

With one last glance, I wrote down a missive on the second top line of my paper.

Par, want to talk a little? I have to tell you something about this morning. Come a little closer if you'd like.

I pushed my pad towards her, and tapped her hand to have her read slyly. She drew her attention away from her notes, and looked at what I read. Since her note page was full, she was able to turn to a blank piece herself. She held up her hand a little, in a way that wouldn't draw attention, then wrote down her response, then directed me to look towards her notebook so I could read.

I could, just as long as I don't get caught, I know this stuff fine. Anything specific?

She was into it already, what a lucky break. I thought she might not jump on, but she's fully into my idea. Again, I write more text into my notebook.

Remember how I overslept, and you couldn't figure out why?

We start to get into a pattern. She looks, writes, then after I hear her scribbling die down, I look at her writing and prepare to respond with what I have. I read her thought.

I figured your alarm clock was set wrong, you've never been late to class except that one time during the Shakespeare exam.

Shaking my head, I write down that it wasn't wrong, and that I slept through the alarm because of a dream.

What kind? She writes. A nightmare?

Her eyes catch me smiling as I dispel her guess.

Remember the basket auction from last year where Jess paid a lot of money for my company for an afternoon? How could she not, I remember her reaction to the whole thing when she sighed and said "Your town is beyond weird, are you sure Rod Serling isn't your mayor?", then just laughed a little at the absurdist and quaint notion of the basket auction.

She thought for a moment to recall that time, then wrote back right away.

You had a dream about Jess? I thought that you liked me. The writing was a little dark, rushed and panicked, which I kind of expected. It's always a first reaction to reassert what we have already, so with the same speed, I soothed her by writing that no, it wasn't about Jess, that he was in the dream, but not the main focus.

Back to her notebook. Oh, sorry, she writes, her eyes focused on the lectern when she sees Ms. Eure angles towards our side of the room to make a point. We stop writing to take in some facts, and it takes a couple minutes to go through what she's lecturing us through.

When she finishes and directs us towards some textbook reading, both Paris and I open our books and page to the subject, while putting our notebooks on top of the unread page. The back and forth begins again as she wants details about the dream. Never had I done this, told anyone the details of a dream like this. Of course I had to lie around my mom this morning to avoid the mortification of my reason for sleeping longer than usual.

I had a dream about you. There, simply stated.

She looks at my curling script, her eyes then drifting upward to read my face. I glance down a little, feeling shy and a little self-conscious about my flirting plan. It's somehow fitting that a couple of years ago if I had tried to get her attention with my writing, she would've crumpled up the paper, like she did over the project I broke. But she's game about this note-passing session.

She writes back, smiling. What kind of dream?

You outbid Jess for the basket, got Dean mad at you, and shocked me with how much you'd pay for my company for an afternoon, I let her know.

She shook her head, blushing at the very idea that she'd buy my basket. Did I get my money's worth Gilmore? I have a discriminating taste for how I spend my wealth you know.

Wow, that took me aback, the structure of her words. I shake a little, and she gives me an look as my bottom lip lowers. I flirt back with some shaky cursive;

You almost were able to use that discriminating taste on me; however my mother shook me awake before you could...God, I think you know what happened in this dream, you're not stupid! I was starting to get in over my head, I thought I was going to be cute with this flirting via pen, but I was being outplayed by Paris' curious nature!

Her right hand brushes up against my left as her pencil asks the next question.Where did I have you? And yes, I'm not stupid, you wouldn't even be bringing this up if it was just us two skipping across Bushnell Park with psychedelic sixties music in the background.

I snorted a little laughter out at that because I actually had that dream in the last cynical days before I dumped Dean last week. Of course the climax was Paris telling him off and both of us kissing in the rain or something (I forget specifics), but however it ended it was hot.

Dr. Eure looked towards our direction to trace where the sudden noise was coming from. "Miss Gilmore, are you OK? Something funny about cell division you'd like to share with the class?"

I looked up, a little embarrassed; I have to be more careful in the future. "Um, no Doctor, ma'am. I just saw a word in a funny place as I paged through the book, gonad I think it was." I never knew how to cover my ass well when the teacher's looking at me wrong. "It won't happen again." I shied down on my stool, praying the attention would go back to the front lectern with a few of my peers in front laughing at my uttering of the juvenile word.

"Please make sure it doesn't, this is a serious class. Miss Gellar understands how important this class is, right?"

"I do ma'am," she responds off-hand, like her response is breathing.

"Alright then. So back to page 174..."

Everyone goes back to reading, except for the both of us, faking reading and continuing to write. I write down the exact details of her wooing track, from her $750 bid, the drive down, and up to the point I beg of her to take me in her mother's perfect Better Homes and Gardens-ready breakfast nook. I avoid the details of her undressing me, no need to elaborate upon that since her mind can fill in those blanks.

It's a long, meandering six paragraph entry, and when I finish, my hand has a wicked case of writer's cramp when I shove the book towards her to read. I've done journal entries on and off through the years because I'm not comfortable archiving my life in something anyone can get at. It's strange to me, confessing a dream of want to my girlfriend, when this description is as ribald as I ever have gotten on paper.

She looks it over, her face showing what I was expecting, a mix of emotions at her persona within my mind in REM state. She keeps her pinkie against the heel of my left hand, teasing me and sending a shudder up my arm, her eyes focused on the script in front of her. It seems like an eternity as she takes in all the details, her breathing the only thing I focus on. It goes from steady and staid...then shaken and huffed...two minutes later and when she finishes reading, it's shallow, slow, trying to take in all I've just written.

I look at the class, still in thought about the current subject at hand, and then towards the blonde sitting next to me, her legs crossed and making hay of my description. I know I've gotten to her when I find her adjusting the collar on her blouse, the tight collar button and tie a hindrance to cool air against her lower neck.

Still, she wrote, her left hand gripping the yellow Dixon, wearing the graphite down like she was making out her last will. I read as she writes, her words stating so much that her voice couldn't say in the space of that science classroom.

Dear God there Ror, I knew you had dreams about me that were a little involved. I didn't know that you could dream that passionately though. Wow, it's scary; you taking my intensity and channeling that from my bookish self into someone so raw and...sexual. I have to admit, I like how you dream, because that's how I want to come off one day. That is, if you'd like to. In the future of course, not right now, not that I wouldn't want to get involved with you in such an untamed way...

I grip her hand, encircling my index finger around her ring finger, to calm her down and have her focus her writing more. The move seems to kill her ramble. In a way it's one of those sly moves that we're comfortable with doing to keep ourselves hidden, but let us still have that couple connection we've had lately.

I have to be honest with you, she writes. I asked what made you oversleep this morning, and I'm glad you lied. Because if you hadn't... She pauses, her eyes burning into mine, ...I may have ended my perfect attendance streak this morning from ravishing you senseless in the back of the car. I knew there was something up from your blush and panic getting out of the shower, there was a feeling there. I just want to take things slow, but this want of you is consuming me so badly.

I let her write on, feeling myself stiffen with each of her romantic words. Walking into Luke's yesterday morning, the anticipation building when I saw you at your table with Lorelai, waiting for me with the tea, the minutes it took of conversation with you and your mom until you finally gave the signal you needed the restroom. How I found myself needing the bathroom at the same time and following you, locking the door, and then you dragging me by the hand towards the stall, where you pushed me against the partition and kissed me senseless. I'd been awaiting that since the moment I got up, like a light. The routine was automatic, the want for you driving me through the morning until that moment you took my hand into yours, whispered your hope that I was having a good morning, my ultra-bad soft-core porn-like response of 'it is now', and then you kissed me. You, kissing me in your favorite place in the whole wide world. It was that moment I realized that my dream did come true. That you like me as more than a friend.

Last night, I'm sitting at the dinner table as my mom bitches out the help again over how their table-setting skills are lax, that her food is too dry; never mind the fact that her glass to the side is filled with a fifth helping of rum and Tab, the most disgusting drink I've ever had the displeasure to mix (trust me, it smells like paint thinner, never drink it). She asks me how my day was; and I tell her good. She asks why, and my mind struggles to think up something to cover up the fact that for the first time since mid-seventh grade, I have to lie to her, because the schoolwork wasn't the most exciting part of my day in school.

I make up something about the challenging curriculum of AE, how it's vexing me, yet I'm acing everything Mr. Silvestri's tossing my way. In reality, it's that moment before lunch in Russian Novels when the bell rings and I'm melting in my seat from how relaxing your hands feel against the back of my neck, those fingers of yours through my hair comparable to the hairbrush I use every morning, slowly easing your way from beneath the rope of my necklace. You pull them away to gather your books, but before you do, you get my attention by saying my full name aloud. Your sweet voice has my undivided attention, and as everyone is distracted with the business of getting to lunch, you bring your mouth close to my ear, to whisper a secret. I have no idea what's about to be said, but I figure something mundane.

"Par?" You question, as I'm focused on nothing uncouth. "Pink and pink, I match today, promise." You drift away, turn to face me, and smile. "Hungry?" you ask, reminding me of our next destination of the dining hall. Your whisper distracts me from the thought of food; instead focusing on mentally undressing you and sating that hunger in a way not appropriate for a Chilton setting. You're lucky that I have this reserved persona to me, the kind that doesn't take those words and try to act in the middle of a classroom to confirm that indeed, you did match, and that I'm starved for your touch. Still I lie to Mother, go on about economics, how much I want to ace the upcoming exam he's been hinting on giving out, while the same time getting that rush in my head that you took what seemed like an awful and hidden flirt on my end the day before, then turned the tables on me to let me know that what I'd say to you would eventually come back to haunt me.

I took that little moment of the day to bed with me last night, and thought about it as I drifted off, smiling my way to sleep. It was such a little and inconsequential moment in that entire day, along with the day before when I noted you weren't matching. But you're like me Rory, you notice the little things. You see how I am, and you've started this relationship slow and steady, like a turtle. Yet you tantalize. I'm happy I do that to you too, that this longing for me built up so much, that whatever we have now, it's strong and we can't deny it to each other anymore.

Thank you for thinking of me like that, no matter if it was unconscious in sleep or not. I might not be the most self-confident girl in the room (and you can tell), but right now I feel like the most revered and respected, by you.

It takes two pages and seven paragraphs to respond to what she thought of my dream, but whether she took an entire notebook to do that or just those first two sentences in her first paragraph, how she thinks about me, and how that moment at the end of Russian Novels, something rash and unexpected, led her day to go from draggy and regular, to something good. Honest, the matching thing just came to me out of the blue, I was just trying to keep her on her toes. It makes me smile to think that seven little words define a day like that.

I look at her; she's shaking a cramp out of her left hand, gripping the cool metal faucet next to her that pours into the basin next to her that's used for experiments to cool the pain down. Her eyes look into mine, and there's a slight smile, unnoticed by anyone else. I link my index finger with hers, a gesture hidden by the messenger bag in front of us to everyone else.

We both feel everything has been said, and that we can talk more later on. I write down one last line in my notebook to close the conversation, and state how I feel about her description simply.

Thank you for warming up to me hon. I knew one day you'd finally give up on the 'school a living hell' line of thinking; I wore you down, didn't I?

She gives me a dirty look, and ends all talk with her own comeback.

I'm still making it hell as we speak; right now you just want to flee to the bathroom, don't you?

Paris smirked, and I shook my head, knowing she was teasing, but at the same time, knew my truth. The particle board that made up the seat beneath me was magnifying the 'itch' that's now become my new constant companion. After this hot 'instant letter' session, all I did want to do was take this to the broom closet Louise-style.

I pushed the feeling down though, and both of us brought our attention back to where it should've been, the lesson being presented. I'm just happy to have a push to go to school everyday now besides the 'I want to get into Harvard' reason that brought me here in the first place. Paris is such a good girlfriend, and to get to know this hidden and secret side of her, it's something I'm starting really treasure and hold close to my heart. There's nothing better than being next to the one you like, and asserting that away from the wary eyes of the gossip circle.

What I find funny is that we did this in Life Sciences class, which can also be called biology. We certainly learned a little about each other's biology today...

And that joke thudded. Fine, done with the class subject cracks, they're not funny, you can stop with that cringing look already, I see it on your face! Geeze, you try to lighten the mood...

The student government meeting later in the day was pretty good. Most of the students were able to air their business, and seemed to notice that Paris lended more of an open ear than she had in the past. I like seeing her happier and less tight when it comes to government business. With my relaxing techniques and the tension between us gone, Paris and I had one of our best meetings yet, and everyone was able to accept the higher bid when she told them "They give our lives, even if we might disagree with the views the government has for military action. $500 out of the student treasury surely isn't a strain on fundraising, and keeping our dance loyalties at the Armory rather than paying so much extra for a fancy hotel name on a dance card is better in the end. Hotels can get another event in place of ours; the military deserves the extra support." The only two to nay the vote were of course Lemon and Francie, so the 10-2 vote to keep the Winter Formal at the Armory was pretty much unanimous. We also put on the docket next week the move to keep the Valentine's Day dance there, much to that evil red-head's dismay.

She made sure to let me know that when she confronted me in the bathroom after the meeting adjourned, backing me into a corner of the room. "I thought you were going to vote for the Capitol Hilton," she nagged at me in a harsh voice.

I shook my head at her. "It's tradition to have it in the Armory, and the statistics from the other schools in the area that use the Hilton for their dances show lax supervision of the kids and the hotel taking advantage of kids there by hiking up room prices if they don't feel like going home. Francie, the graphs don't lie, the Armory is a better location for the students than going through downtown Hartford traffic."

"Traditions can be changed," she spat back. "Frankly, I'd rather have prestige than another boring dance."

"Spirit Club puts a lot into the decorations at the Formal in the Armory, much more than paid union help at a hotel. There isn't a need to move the Formal, so just don't." I wasn't getting anywhere with Francie, but it was worth a shot.

"If I wanted gay decorations I'd recruit someone on Christopher Street to help me out." I stood frozen as what should've been unconnected to the club Francie was trying to eradicate was brought into this fight we were having. "I don't care if a fucking Picasso is in that Spirit Club, a few of them are Rainbow Triangles and they don't belong in that club. The last place I'd want to be is hanging a balloon line on a ladder with some lezbo looking up my skirt!"

Wow, I was speechless. Somehow, Francine Jarvis has managed to make an even more homophobic slur than the last time she met with me. Just cold shock that she'd describe someone like me in such a hateful manner. No wonder Paris warned me it was going to be tough for both of us to come out at Chilton, with girls like her on top, no boy or girl would want to suffer at the hands of the populars like Francie.

"That was uncalled for!" I said firmly. "They help the school, and they do more good than they ever will harm."

"There is nothing about them that is good. They're abominations against God, and just because they can't get their sad little selves laid from the opposite sex in this school doesn't mean they should screw each other's ugly little bodies out of desperation."

Never had I found myself more pissed off at a single individual than at that exact moment. Jarvis had her teeth bared in a wide smile, her stance defensive, words like cutting knives. I thanked God no one was around to hear these hateful words, as they stirred something inside that I couldn't help; content for this right-wing bitch coasting by on Daddy's political clout as a top man in the Legislature and bitter because even he couldn't save her precious Puffs.

"Funny how that also describes you, minus the girl interest," I responded snidely. "You're like the Ann Coulter of this school; you look cute, but no guy wants to share a bed with you because of what comes out of that hateful mouth of yours." If she was going to keep up with these barbs against the Rainbow Triangles, she was going to find herself with a black eye pretty soon.

"Like your words have any effect on me, Virgin." Scowling, she slid her bag on her shoulder and started out of the bathroom. "You will keep me happy Gilmore, count on that. If you don't change your vote in the next month when I bring up the elimination of Fag Club, count on these last five months of Chilton to be trying on your mental state thanks to my girls. Just watch, I have conduits into the gossip circle, and when December 18th rolls around, you'll see a 12-0 vote against RTS. You can't deny the will of the people, and when my girls give details of what's what with that club to the general student population, there will be no choice but to vote yes to deny funding." Then just to get in one last shot, she blew a bubble of gum and snapped it real loud towards my ear. "Hope you have a nice evening, Gilm-whore." She walked out the bathroom with stiff resounding steps, leaving me yet another tape of hateful barbs, more anger at her now that I am in an actual same-sex relationship, and a determination to figure out how to save RTS without Paris and I being exposed before we were ready.

It's the start of something I'd love to tell someone about, but I can't. I don't want Paris to look at me in a hateful way again, and being in this arrangement to give Francie an occasional yea vote was hard enough. To see her, as just a girl plotting to destroy a student group made me feel like I was in a tangled string, finding it tough to get out. I stood by the sink with two fingers to my temples, feeling stressed at this attack on my new lifestyle. I just wanted to love Paris, but I never expected Francie to make things tough on us by eliminating a social club.

"Fuck," I mumbled into the mirror. I wasn't giving up on Par, and I certainly wasn't ready to let RTS be remembered only in the Aurora on page 237, above a picture of the Arbor Club. I have to figure out a way to keep them alive, not only for this year, but for future generations, so the new leader of Francie's guild won't be able to deny funding to them, no matter what they did.

Francie didn't get Paris, nor I at that Puffs initiation; I'll be damned if she's going to take out her inconsequential feud with both of us out on 27 kids who only mean to help and raise awareness, not disgust fellow students. Hopefully by the time my class of 2003 graduates in June, the tables will turn and Francie will be the one facing the music. Because I could never forgive myself if I was able to save them but could do nothing but stand by the sidelines as cruel parliamentary action undid everything good they ever did. Paris wouldn't vote no uninfluenced, I know that. But she would change her mind if there was force or a groundswell from the students to oppose funding, that or she was afraid of controversy, so she would have to quell it with a yes vote.

Student government is exhausting and wearing at times, but I'd rather be fighting at Paris' side to further her harmless agenda than having to see Francie get her way and leave everyone who doesn't agree with her out in the shadows. And without becoming Par's vice president, the events of the summer that brought me towards realizing my feelings for her would have never happened.

I left the bathroom, putting behind the drama of politics as usual until the next week. My feeling is that Francie picked December 18th to make a statement and discredit our government before the winter recess, and with the holidays approaching the religious feelings would influence the vote towards her. Hopefully this next month would give me time to figure things out.

I'm sitting at Luke's right now across from my mother, trying to figure out where I want things to go with Paris from here. Today was a great day for me, coming up with better ways for the both of us to flirt in such a secret way. Mom keeps asking why I overslept, but there's no damned way she's ever going to learn the truth from me about that! She keeps joking about me being Sleeping Beauty, but I'm barely listening as I glide a fry across a smooth red pool of ketchup, thinking again about how much I hate the distance between North Hartford and Stars Hollow. I don't want to think about Paris right now, I just want to relax and unwind from my stressful school day. But my memory just wants to replay the events over and over again.

It was so much easier when Dean was my boyfriend, where the temptation was killed because of the separate towns we had schools in, and the fact we came together afterschool at the bus stop. My world has been turned upside down though; my lover is there all through school, but nowhere to be found after 5:30pm except under her screenname PGellar167 or at (860) 246-0808. God, I want to see her so much more, and I want us away from the eyes and ears of the region, that way I can finally show off my uninhibited feelings for her without having to peek over her shoulder every kiss to make sure a wary eye isn't in on our scene.

I want to go out on a real date with her. I don't care where, I don't care when, and I could care less if it was just to a Barnes and Noble. I just want to be out with Paris, be able to hold her hand without having to use a prop to hide it. I want her to be all chivalrous and caring, pulling out my chair and telling me 'the world is your oyster Gilmore, pick what you want from the menu'. Not that I'm discounting the dance at all, that's how we finally took the tentative steps towards this to begin with. Some way, I want Paris to take me out on a night on the town without any repercussions. Also, without boundaries or time constraints; every time I think of her now I can't help but feel a swoon in my heart at a mere mention of her name, or even one little thought. I go past Connecticut Public Television and see the familiar outline of the Eiffel Tower during a travelogue program. I numb, and I drop the remote. dazedly, I watch the show with eyes glazed over and Sunday afternoon rushing through my mind again. I can't help the dry mouth and smile I get when someone mentions her, be it Jess or Mom.

"Rory? Hon?" My mom waves her hand in front of my face to rouse me back into the real world. "You OK there? You've been dipping that fry over a minute at least."

I look down at my plate; my finger is dripping with ketchup, along with the ruined potato. Dang it, I can't eat that now. I drop the fry and get out a napkin to wipe my fingertips.

"Oh, uh, I'm sorry." I shake my head and blot the ketchup off my fingers.

"Are you alright there, you seem lost in thought. Did you get a bad grade today?" My mom's concern is definitely noted and understandable since my focus is less on school lately. I shake my head and reassure her with another white lie.

"I'm alright Mom, just a slow and wearing day that would never end." Perfect cover Ror. "Just trying to figure out in my mind what's important for midterms and what isn't." That seems to satisfy her and she goes back to her daily game of bugging and poking Luke as I keep thinking here about my dating situation.

Sure it's going to be awkward if we get to the first date, what one isn't? My lead-off line in asking Dean for a date to the Winter Formal was about chicken and Paris was toting a deck of index cards for Tristan, so we're both certifiable when it comes to this kind of thing. My dates usually consisted of movies at the bookshop, while Paris had to make do with dull parties and awful conversation. Certainly both of us have very little experience with the 'so what's this and this like' kind of small talk that you use dates for in order to make sure you're compatible and a perfect match.

I think that's OK though. Awkwardness is a good way to keep us both at ease, and since we're together the pressure is less on things like kissing or flirting through the night. I don't know if it's going to be me or Paris fielding the first ask-out, but whoever does it between the both of us, we're going to have a unique first date. There's the slight possibility that the dating world might not be for us and we'll realize that it might not work between us. If it doesn't, I'll deal with it through humility. But I see that happening only in terms of fractions of a percentage point. There's a connection here between the both of us, and we have to do our share in taking it from a tenuous bond wrapped around like a loaf of bread's twist tie, into a ship's anchor chain.

With that, I feel my phone vibrate in my pocket to notify me of a text message. I take it from my watch pocket, and read the screen to see what was sent. I smile when I read who sent it to me, and what's contained.


Good day today,
Thur should be even better.
Talked to Mother,
she'll be gone till 9 tomorrow night...meeting.
Manor study session; Y/N?


I smile a little; she's inviting me to study at the Manor tomorrow so we can spend some time alone together under the cover of a study session. Knowing Paris it will be a study session, but with those open five hours and no Franklin or government meetings in sight, there's plenty of time for couple-ish things for us to do.

"Mom," I ask. "Paris says I should come over and we should study together at her house tomorrow night." I hide my excitement behind the weary 'I'd rather be watching drywall mud settle' voice that used to define how I felt about time spent with Paris outside of Chilton. "Can I go over there once we get out of Chilton?"

"Knock yourself out kiddo, I can do a girl's night with Sookie then." She smiles at me, seeming to be happy with the closeness I'm having with Par. "Just as long as you check in at seven."

"No problem," I say as I message Paris back immediately, internally giddy.


Y to that, Mom said it was cool.
Agreed on good day, I miss you a lot.
Hope you have a good rest of the night.


I send the reply, happy I have an excuse to have some time with her alone. I think that the conversation is over, but Paris sends one last missive before I put away my cell phone.


Miss you too, a lot. Rt 91
feels like US1 from ME to FL without you here.
A million miles, but I feel so close to you despite.


I hold back my emotions reading her truncated text, which no one else who doesn't have extensive knowledge of America's highway system would understand. Thirty minutes between us, but with everything between us, I might as well be in Key West, Florida, with her unhappy in Fort Kent, Maine.

There's no way I ever felt this way with Dean, even when he was writing to me in Washington from Winnetka. Him I could handle missing with how our relationship was, but this...so much different. I put away my phone, the internal clock in my head setting an alarm for 3:35pm and the half-hour after that when Paris and I are in the cavernous surroundings of Gellar Manor with only her nanny and a few other staff members with their eyes on us.

No one near her room, a second floor bedroom, Mrs. Gellar at a meeting...oh dear, something tells me that tomorrow is going to be very interesting. I sense that any allusions to innocent studying will be gone by the time I call Mom to check in tomorrow...

Paris' POV, Thursday, 8:45pm

I love the taste of forty-eight year-old wine so much. The flavors, the sugars, the way the red alcohol swirls within the glass and the way it goes from your mouth and straight to the pleasure center of your brain as the liquid slides down your throat. It's not as sweet as I expected it to be, but after two and a half glasses of this $1,725 bottle of Petrus Merlot, it's natural to feel a nice light feeling from all the fermentation it's gone through, along with the intoxicants flowing through my bloodstream. I mean to survive the Cold War, the rise and fall of the USSR, the suburbanization of American and survive several economic growth periods and not be opened, that's something.

What it's celebrating however, may have never been fathomed by the person who corked the bottle in Bordeaux all those years ago, much less accepted back then. They probably also didn't expect that the wine would be drunk by two girls mad for each other, or that it would end up in the end as my liquid courage to take the next step in this relationship.

I remember bringing the bottle out of the mini-fridge I keep drinks in, and wine glasses out of my desk after I changed out of my uniform and into a loose sweatshirt with relaxed jeans. Rory sat on the bed wondering what the significance of it was, and how it seemed to be an emblem of our love/hate relationship. I lent her the bottle to look at, and her eyes widened as she took in all that the wine represented.

"I stole that bottle from the wine cellar ten months ago, almost to this day," I told her. "After you had to get to know Sherrie I wasn't sure that I would ever be able to open it, but I didn't bring it back downstairs because I figured that there's always a flicker of hope out there in anything." I slid next to her in my bed, the large cloud of a mattress I slept on for years for the first time seeming small, intimate, and most of all, perfect.

"I'd keep looking at it each time I thought about you, and I even brought it with me to Washington, where I hid it in the space between the top of my mattress and the headboard. It's not the recommended way to store it by any means, but just having it with me gave me that slight bit of hope that someday, you would reciprocate."

"So this," she mumbled, pointing at the label, "this wine kept you from shying away from your feelings?" I nodded yes, my hand twined in hers. "And you never thought of opening it at all, you never gave up hope."

"I may have thought it was fruitless at times Ror, but I was never going to give up." I brought down my voice a little. "This bottle wouldn't be opened until the day we had each other, and now, it's finally going to be sipped from." I rose up in the bed, taking back the bottle from Rory and reaching for the corkscrew next to my alarm clock and the Supreme Court picture, which Rory was touched to see at my bedside. "Do you want any?"

She thought for a moment, afraid of the trouble she was going to get in, and the uncertain fear that she might do something she might regret. "Sharon won't miss this bottle? What about getting home?"

"Trust me when I say she couldn't tell the difference between this and Two Buck Chuck with her drunken view of the world; she probably thinks she chugged it down months and months ago." I then explained the alternative. "I can have Henrico drive you home, feign tiredness to stay off the road. Any impairment on the road is unacceptable."

"Fine with me," she mumbled. "It looks like a very nice bottle, and I wouldn't want it to go to waste after all this time you've kept it." I uncorked the bottle in front of her and had her hand me one of the glasses to pour it in. We were far from heavy drinkers, but she didn't seem to mind that I poured it up to 3/4 of the way up the glass for both of us as we sat next to each other on the bed, looking at not only each other, but the liquid.

"You want to toast?" she asked. "It's only natural in a situation like this."

"That it is." I smiled, and we brought the glasses back in order to solidify the toast with a hard clanking of the glasses together. "To us, and many, many more of these times, together. Another goodbye to the past, and hello to this future." The foreshadowing to a week ago, when Rory dropped the bracelet into the river, was obvious in what I said, as I intended.

Her eyes met mine mid-stream. "To us." Our glasses met at the middle, and then to symbolize the togetherness, I brought my glass to her mouth for her to sip, and my mouth to her glass as our arms crossed together and we sipped from the glasses slowly, our gazes locked in and unwavering. The taste was a little bitter, but that was to be expected from such an old drink. After a little bit of swilling around my mouth the full body of flavor came out, and both of us noted how wonderful it was that this moment could finally happen.

We did study, sure; that was the exact reason I needed Rory there with me to begin with. The conversation flowed as heavy as the open bottle of wine however, and within an hour, all academic allusions that we were having all but disappeared when the second glasses for each of us were gone, leaving both of us just a little soused up but not too hard. Both of us were still coherent and aware, enough that Rory remembered to call Lorelai and check in with her at seven o'clock, just like she asked.

Rory seemed to talk about everything her mind could catch, going from a Lonely Planet-like dream travelogue of the Alps region, over to her latest reads, to the latest news and her opinions on things, including her opposition of Iraqi war action without hard picture proof. Her opinion matched mine so well, and though I was ready to fight her vocally with a drunk voice, there was no need to. My mind, despite its muddled state managed to come up with many things to talk about; I even felt comfortable telling her about my family and confiding in her how much I hoped that Mohegan Man's yacht would be eaten by a shark in the waters off San Diego. Boy did that receive a loud yelp from Rory!

"I don't think sharks like chickens from the sea!" She pounded on the bed. "What does your mom see in him?"

"About nine inches, and eight numbers separated into groups of three with a dollar sign on the end," I commented, my usual reserved filter of conversation removed in the company of my girlfriend. "She has a history of bad dating choices, and this would be her fifth this year."

"He looks like a white-collar fucking Captain Ron," Rory noted. "Has he done the whole 'I want to be your friend honey' spiel on you yet?"

I laughed. "If he does I'll introduce him to my friend Mr. Taser, God bless money and power." She knew I was serious about owning a stun gun, which I don't carry unless I'm in the bad part of a city. Martial arts come in handy better in lighter situations and less crime-ridden portions of the world. "I've gotten used to the fact that I'll hate anyone my mom brings home, and if she wants to fuck up her life, go on right ahead."

"That-that is good thinking." The wine was dizzying, and her blue eyes were looking straight into mine as we lay in bed at each other's sides. "To hell with your mom, I hope she's having a blast at Lame-O Club or wherever she is."

I shook my head towards her. "OK, you're an awful drunk Gilmore." I smiled at her, feeling the dizzying spell of the wine myself.

About that moment I was cursing my choice of a tank top over the sweatshirt, for the body heat and blankets between us made me remove that first heavier layer of clothing. I only wore the article as underwear so I wasn't stuck wearing a bra, but my abundance of cleavage is crystal clear when I'm laying down on a bed and Rory's eyes are trailed down the line into my shirt.

"I'm glad I know you," she mumbled, as she brought herself closer and wrapped her arms around my waist. "I'm a little buzzed, but I think even without the alcohol talking here, you'd still look as cute as you do right now." Rory's quick change wardrobe after school consisted of track pants and one of those strange slogan shirts I don't know why are popular, but no matter since Rory looks very nice wearing the blue tee; as long as she's next to me, I could care less about dress.

"Thanks, I guess." It's still hard for me to take a compliment to heart, no matter how true it might be. The insecurities of being Paris Gellar are still here as they've always been, but the brunette across from me is doing her best to cut down all that I think about myself.

"Don't guess, know that you are Par." She rolls me onto my back and hovers above me, her legs locking with mine. "You're very pretty," she whispers softly. "Warm and soft too, like a pillow." She moves in close, brushes her hand against my forehead. "Not the wine talking either. When you wrapped around me while we slept on Sunday I felt so relaxed and calm, your arm at my side."

Hearing that the spoon wasn't in vain Sunday morning, I smiled. "I thought you were going to freak out, I didn't mean to wrap around so close." Her face moves closer to mine, and she nuzzles her nose against my cheek. Every hair on my arm is stiff and up from such sexually intimate contact, and her ankle against mine feels so good, even better then when I nudged her beneath the table yesterday.

"I didn't freak out. As a matter of fact I tried to encourage you closer."

"Like you are now?" I note, my voice going through caring timbres I never thought possible.

"Perhaps." She lines up to kiss me slowly, a couple of her right fingers twining into a belt loop on my jeans. The lilting and surprising touch so close makes me shift around a little. "What on earth would I do without that intenseness that you bring into my life, Par-Bear?" It's romantic, and somehow I'm getting used to the pet nickname she's giving for me, even though my first aural reaction is like nails on a slate to that.

"I'm just focused, not intense," I try to correct her as she brushes her lips at the corner of my mouth. The smell of light alcohol on our breath gets into my system, and the night is turning out so much better than planned.

"You do the work and have the passion that can only be done by three Chilton valedictorians, you're very intense. Not that it's a bad thing by any means..." She looked around the room and back down at me. "...especially when you look like this above me."

I felt myself stiffen, her compliment soothing me so much. "Thank you," I murmur softly. "For not only seeing me in this light, but staying a pest all these years, always wanting my friendship no matter what. God knows where I'd be right now if we didn't keep being pushed together by all these outside forces."

Her long brown hair tickles my nose, and nothing but intense crystalline blue is within my vision, Rory's cool blue eyes captivating me so much. She flushes against me, her angelic features and those freckles, now unhidden by makeup, reassuring me that going for this was the right choice. "I never wanted to lose you; what you think about me is just as high an opinion as anyone in my family's, be it Grandpa, Grandma, Lane, or my mother. What you say holds weight in my world, and I never want you to forget that."

She slides her hands up into my hair, and without any extra words having to be said, for the first time ever, I was able to kiss someone on my bed as she closed the distance and kissed me softly and long. I don't even know where the kiss started or ended, for my memory seems to disappear whenever Rory and I come together like that. Her mouth is so soft, her rhythm well-practiced from the two years she spent with Caveman. Not that there's any thought about her ex, I'm just glad to have someone with experience helping me into the everyday peculiarities of the American relationship.

I'm just lost in her for minutes and minutes, the both of us just reveling in our company. By the time we separate for modesty's sake, it's almost about 8pm, and our tops are wrinkled from all the contact and pushing we did in the bed. It's just the both of us, focusing on each other, the world a blur to the both of us besides the webstream of classical music coming from my computer so I would have another focal point for my ears besides the rustling of the blankets.

Rory looks at me a bit after I settle down, her eyes wide towards me, and the time to ask her is just moments away. I have the entire first date planned out, a basic romantic night out away from Hartford, and without any kind of elaborate plan. Plain and simple seems to be the way to win her over, and with the little alcohol we've had, I feel we're still both coherent enough to understand what we're getting into here.

"Ror?" I raise my voice and ask her to sit up. She finds herself curious, and she crossed her legs Indian-style, throwing the yarn afghan my paternal Nana made for me over her shoulders to warm up a little. "There's something I meant to ask you tonight, but I can't find the words to state them." I fumble around with the hem of my tank top.

"Shoot, and take your time, I'm not going anywhere." Her smile reassured me a little. I really didn't have a rehearsed 'I want to go out with you' speech, so I was just going to take it in my own comfortable way and see where it leads. I started, trying to keep calm.

"OK, you know I like you, right?" She nods, mentioning we wouldn't have been necking in my bed for an hour if I didn't. "Well, let's say for argument's sake that I know I want to be with you, definitely. The thing is we're still keeping everything secret, so we can't be seen anywhere in public without a wary eye catching sight of us. They're going to tell everyone and our intimacy disappears like a cloud of smoke. Same thing in Stars Hollow, that Kirk guy isn't exactly the best at keeping secrets, and he seems to be almost everywhere."

"Well his workload is usually five jobs, so I'm required to bump into him at least once a day."

"Anyways, not that this night hasn't been fun, or the last four days in school, I'm treasuring each of those days." Geeze I ramble like a madwoman, why don't I ever simplify questions? "But there's just this need inside that I want to go...go out with you. Like, date you and stuff. You know, like dinner, dancing, a movie, that kind of thing?" I felt truly nervous as I tried to close the deal with her listening intently. "What I guess I'm trying to ask is...will you go out with me tomorrow night, on a real date?"

I expected her to light up and be happy, say yes without much thought. Instead, she frowned a little and tried to let me down easy. "I can't, sorry. Tomorrow night--"

Without hesitation I interrupted her answer, trying to shield my soul from being torn apart. "I understand then, I guess we're not ready quite yet, or you're not. I mean I am, but obviously you're several steps ahead of where I'd like to be."

"Par--" Rory tried to speak up, so I stopped her again.

"Look it's fine, I guess I was never datable material to begin with." The Self-Loathing Express was leaving the station at a fast clip. "I mean I wouldn't expect you after four days to drop everything and be all 'Yes, I want to go out with you', things are going too fast."

"Listen, hon--" My voice was starting to raise and the burn of being turned down was starting to amplify as Rory moved to reassure me.

"I jumped the gun with playing with your foot yesterday, didn't I?! I knew there was something up with that, and you weren't doing anything to reciprocate!" I saw Rory become frustrated with being unable to get a word out, her brows scrunched and seemingly feeling emotional at cutting myself down. "I guess it's my fault, I shouldn't have--"

"PARIS!!" Rory screamed my name real loud, causing my thoughts about the ask-out to evaporate. She was still smirking at me despite the accusations I was throwing towards myself, and before I could react, she took my hand into her.

"Yeah?" Her stern tone killed any response from me whatsoever.

"If you would stop and listen to me before you jumped to conclusions, you'd remember that Friday night is never going to be a good night for me when it comes to dating. It's always going to be Friday night dinners with Grandpa and Grandma. If I don't go they don't pay for Chilton, and I don't see you anymore." Her hand slowly moved up my arm. "Now I know we really wouldn't want that, would we?"

You really need to let people finish their sentences, I immediately thought to myself, it's not always going to be the end of the world when they say no! Absolutely mortified, I felt like a bitch for jumping on Rory like that.

"No," I answered. "Chilton without you would be...like the Red Sox moving to Minot, North Dakota out of spite, cruel and awful to deal with. I'm sorry, I should've known there was a sane reason for you to turn me down like that."

"I'm not though."

"But you said no to dating me--"

Rory cleared up what she really meant. "I want to go out with you Par, I'm glad you got the guts to go through with asking me out. Just please tell me you have Saturday penned in as a rain day, because if I could, I'd get out of my Friday night dinner, but I don't see Grandma ever letting me out of it."

"Actually, I have plans for Saturday night, so no to that day also." I said sadly. "I have to wash my hair, repaint my room, paint my toenails, launder illegal Colombian drug money, finally make peace with Mother..." It was fun watching Rory go from forlorn to annoyed as my bullshitting and baiting her went from sane to completely impossible. She pushed towards me in the bed as my serious and staid tone of voice started to crack.

"Paris," she growled.

"I'm not done, I forgot to mention my job as a bar mitzvah entertainer, my I Got You Babe absolutely slays the boy who becomes the man of the hour..." She gets daring, pushes me down, as my smile just starts to slay her.

"Are you going to stop?" Rory asked, giving me that look that told me to shut up. I saw her fingers at the ready, wiggling in the air to signal that if I didn't shut up, I'd be in for a world of pleas--...I mean hurt. She wouldn't possible try that, I thought.

"Make me," I stated firmly. Why the hell was I suddenly so playful and coy, trying to bait Rory on. Two years ago I wouldn't have dare done anything like this, hell, a smile out of me would've been a She's All That-like challenge to anyone!

"You want it?" she asks firmly.

"To finish off the night I'm going to play Monopoly with Bill Gates, using real money and real buildings!!" I knew what she was about to do, and that triggered off yet another wave of romantic horseplay. She pushes the shirt above my stomach, shaking her head.

"Such a pity you didn't listen to me Gellar, for now I'm going to have to do this." She then did something none of my friends ever dared to, much less my parents at all; she tickled me!

The silly contact was shocking, considering the last time anyone had tickled me was my old friend Clarence's little 'doctor visit' with me so long ago. With puberty and hormones now in play however, this was a lot different than I expected. She just jumped right on top of me and played around, and I couldn't refuse her because I was too damned mindspun to even try to push her away.

"Stop, please...I'm sorry I mean, oh God, will you not do that Rory?" I was trying with my words to get her to stop, but the words were buffered with laughter and coughing in-between from the wonderful contact she was forcing upon me. I never thought of myself as particularly sensitive, but apparently I have plenty of nerve endings in my stomach. She kept tickling me as I tried to grab at her in an attempt to stop. All that ended up doing was give me a fistful of t-shirt I kept tugging at.

"Someone beneath me is very ticklish, isn't she?" she theorizes, using her free hand to ball one of mine into a fist and nullifying any attempt to use my self-defense training to get out of the situation. Though really it was weak self-defense, because I was becoming complacent to that. Her hands felt so good against my belly, no matter how reeling and foreign the feeling was.

"I'll never do this again if you stop right now, I promise!!" I cried out with laughter blending into my voice, to no avail. She continued, and my hand gripped at the collar of her t-shirt in an attempt to have her level off the touching. I thought that the material was strong enough to withstand what we were doing, that my strength really wasn't that much in the middle of her having a tickle battle with me.

The sound of a loud tear after a tightened yank, then Rory's loud "WHOA!" as I started to see more white floral print bra than blue t-shirt, showed that my wanton side had more control at that exact moment than my inhibitions. I didn't mean to tear at her clothes obviously, it was totally supposed to be innocent. I shut my eyes, ashamed in front of her to have behaved in this manner, and turned away so she wouldn't see the violent hot blush I felt my face taking on.

I felt like I just ruined everything, giving into what I felt and going too far with the tickle game by shredding her t-shirt into shambles. I wasn't in control of my body, but I could've thought things out better, like blocking her tickling hand instead of trying to pull at her, resulting in what happened.

"I'm sorry," I rushed out, still facing away from her. "I didn't mean to tear off your shirt like that. If you don't want to go on that date, trust me, I'll completely understand why, because I blew it." My stomach felt like jelly from the tickling, the top still ridden up from static cling.

It had to be all over, Rory was a prude and wouldn't take kindly to what I had just done, I just knew it. Never mind if it was completely accidental, that is something you don't do for quite awhile in a relationship. Say about ten years into marriage, your significant other has a mistress and you need a last-gasp spark to keep them, so you resort to tearing off shirts and underwear to be 'the aggressive one'. No doubt about it, I fucked up everything, and Rory was going to end this silly 'being gay with me' experiment after I freaked her out with this forcefulness.

I braced for her to tell me that we were through, for the string of rebukes and accusations that I was taking advantage of her.

She wraps her arms around me, and settles down against my back to envelope me in a hug, bringing down my shirt to preserve my modesty. Just when I think things are going to go bad, I realize something.

I can feel that shirt is off and she's just in her bra, and her mouth is tickling against my left ear. Her breath is deep and shallow, and her actions suggest she's far from angry at me. She settles her chin against my shoulder, and when I expect her to rip my head off...

"Well I know we're definitely on for Saturday night now, aren't we hon?" Her voice is at that same 'warm me up' purr from last week, and I feel myself stiffen when her hand rubs against my stomach. I widen my eyes, convinced this is a figment of my imagination.

"Saturday night?" I mumble, my voice seeming to retract into a whisper. "But I tore up your shirt, you should be mad at me Gilmore, that must've cost you a lot..."

She kisses the lobe of my ear, leaning closer against me. "You worry too much about my money, trust me, it's OK. That's what fooling around does, kills your inhibitions and make you do things you never expected. Just relax Par, you did nothing wrong."

I moaned from all this sudden comfort and the effect that it had on me, and the relief I felt that this isn't the end was immense. "So you're OK with...that?"

"I'm just thinking at least you get under my shirt, Dean didn't even try! C'mon, turn around, I'm not mad and I'm not mortified here."

She releases to let me turn around to face her, and though I shrug away at first, I bite the bullet and eventually view the efforts of what wrath I had wrought with Rory. To say I was shocked at how wild I can get with a few glasses of wine in my system along with this strong yearning for Ror was an understatement. I saw the shirt, torn and hanging from the bedpost, the frayed fabric from the collar down the middle, looking worse for the wear. I couldn't believe I did that.

My vision then drifted over to Rory, sitting on the other side of the bed, her eyes trained on me, her sitting position strange. I wasn't used to seeing her except for dreams without a shirt on, so to have her on my bed with just her bra on was a sight for me to behold. All that freckling, that wide path of cleavage she had between each breast, and her thin yet healthy build defining the slim curves she has, from the blades of her shoulders to her waistline, where I could see her wide bellybutton. My mouth dried up and I had no words for how beautiful she was, with her smile and her blue eyes sparkling the glare from the nightstand lamp next to her.

I can't help but want her more after that, telling me that my aggressiveness was a turn-on rather than something to reel back from. She beckoned me closer, asking me again what my backup plans were just in case tomorrow night fell through.

"I really have nothing on Saturday, I put all of my plans into Friday night." I slid a finger through my hair, thinking for a moment. "But I'm sure with a few calls I can fix everything to go out with you on Saturday night. That is...if you do still want to date me."

She smiled at me, and moved closer to me again. "What time should I be ready?" she asked, and I felt my heart grow a little bigger when I heard that. Also that I was there to either accept or ask for a date, I wasn't going to have an incident like that with Jamie happen to me ever again, this definitely has my full attention!

I feel peaceful again, the tight unease gone from Rory's acceptance. I look towards her and smile. "You told me once that a Gilmore dating rule is to always be a little late, right?" She nodded as both of us came closer again for another cuddling session. "Since we're going up to Springfield for this date, (God I love saying that word!) I'd say 5:45 theoretically, but in reality you'll be out at 6 o'clock."

"Um, in this case we better both be ready at six. We don't anyone to think this is a date, right?" Rory's worries were well-founded, I had to make this out to be more of a friendly outing between us than a date for appearance's sake.

"Think up an excuse by tomorrow afternoon then, we'll need it for Sharon and then for your mom so our stories don't conflict." I was going to use school to my romantic advantage for once. "Say, we make up something about a Franklin article on something we already know in Springfield and can do research online, and then say we decided not to do the story once we realized it wasn't compelling."

"The last thing I want to do is violate any journalistic standards, so that works," Rory agreed. "I'll try to build it up then. I'll mention it to Mom before dinner tomorrow night, and she'll have to let me go. You're vicious when irked after all." She looks towards the ripped shirt, then winks back at me, causing me to gasp.

"Rory..." I whined. "Just borrow a damn sweatshirt from my closet, I didn't mean to do that! I swear you're going to hold this over my head---"

"And you're right about that." She sided up against me, and I moved my hands towards her lower back, reveling in the feel of her smooth bared skin. "Delicious wine, good company, a passionate dalliance, and probably a guaranteed 98% grade, what more can a girl ask for in her partner?" She smiles and gives me a light kiss as I stare at her, feeling for once that my middle name of Eusatchia has brought me good fortune, as it's defined.

"Just a few more minutes with you?" I asked hopefully, the clock at 8:10 and Rory having to leave in twenty minutes so Sharon wouldn't catch her here.

"That can definitely can be arranged." She nuzzled her nose against mine, and drew closer, as we spent the rest of the time we had with no words between us. I'm such a damned sap for acting and feeling this way around Rory, but I can't help it, she brings out my lighter side the way she does and I don't have a problem with how I'm coming off now. I just think about her now, and my heart races as the truth races through my head.

You're dating Rory Gilmore, Paris. Dating her. You never thought it would happen, but she likes you in this same way. Enjoy this and don't let go, because she really is your other half. Without her, you're just half the woman, with the passion for school, but no passion for life. I'm pragmatic about how this is all going to go, but I can't deny it anymore; I can't go without Ror. She keeps me sane, and I keep her from losing her mind in turn.

I'm dating Rory Gilmore, I think again. I'm going to get this date right without Madeline or Louise's help, even if it kills me. Looks like Fran is giving more help when it comes to choosing an outfit to wear. Then again, this is one problem I don't mind having...

Rory's POV, Thursday. 11:00pm

I'm going out with Paris Gellar. That's still going through my mind as I get ready for bed in a daze, after spending a night at the Manor with her that definitely outpaces any time I ever had to spend at the Forresters. Unless I brought earplugs to tune out Clara and her friend's orgasm-like screams in their room over whatever was playing on Radio Disney ("Oh my God, Aaron Carter is soooooooooooo hawt!!" she'd scream, and I can feel Lane shed a tear for the slow death of rock!), Dean and I would never make out as his house. Not that I'd want to, considering his idea of romantic atmosphere was swiping a candle from his mom's sewing room and putting it on top of his TV which was so old it couldn't even have a Pong video game system plugged or modern cable TV.

Paris has a much different room however, it's more tuned to be a comfortable place to be in love, despite how obsessive with academics it's dweller is. It's Spartan and plain, the antithesis of how you expect a wealthy heiress to be. Her only comfort is her bed, but that's good enough for the both of us. Just laying there in that room, sharing a bottle of wine, good conversation, and rolling around in it with her, that's all I needed. I had a fun night, and the wine she had, showing she's been hoping for this moment since February, was one of the sweetest gestures I've ever experienced, making the tiramisu of the three-month anniversary seem quaint by comparison.

I liked that she also took the lead in asking me out, and calmed down once I reminded her that she couldn't take me out on a Friday. Watching her push my buttons irked me as intended, and when I decided to get some revenge by engaging her in a tickle fight, she started grabbing at my t-shirt. The aggressiveness didn't surprise me; this was a battle of our wits gone physical for the first time ever, but since it was meant to be playful in nature, I was happy to go along with it all.

When she tore off my shirt as I tickled her though...something just went through me that never had before, pure desire for her. She was so apologetic about everything being the girl she is, but in truth, I didn't mind it at all, which is why I tried to flirt and keep her at ease through everything that happened after that. I could've taken offense to everything, but I thought her mannerisms and her thoughts that she had destroyed any chance at me for Saturday, it's something that keeps me aware that I'm the teacher, with her the student. I have the two years of dating experience, along with knowing what to expect. Her dates have been pretty much dull society affairs, so I have to keep that in mind, no matter how much she keeps driving me crazy in and out of school.

She gave one of her Harvard sweatshirts to wear home so I wouldn't have to explain my shredded shirt at all, and as her driver Henrico drove me home in the Gellar town car, I kept thinking about how the date with her on Saturday night will be. Obviously she's not going grand with her plans happening in up north in Massachusetts, which I certainly don't mind at all. I thought there was a small chance she might take me to New York, but the distance and our general unease about heading back down there alone pretty much stops that idea dead. The bus trip back up north after I visited Jess and the boys that Madeline and Louise ran away with at the Bangles concert are incidents I don't care to repeat, and two girls, during nighttime in New York? We both might as well wear 'Human ATM Machine, Please Rob Me!' t-shirts. I haven't been to Springfield all that much except for some runs to the outlet malls there with Mom, but it seems like a nice no-pressure place to have a date.

The guilt of lying through my teeth to Mom also is starting to heavily take root inside. When she saw that I came home with Paris' driver, she wondered what was up, so I went with what Paris said for me to tell her, that she was too tired to drive.

"I thought she didn't sleep," she joked, making me roll my eyes. Then she saw the sweatshirt I was wearing. "And that's definitely her sweatshirt, what happened?"

"I left the spare one I was going to bring over at school," I said, knowing well that it wasn't in the condition to be worn anymore. After some talking and catching up, I was finally able to get in my room, study, and get ready for bed.

So far, everything is a mixed bag when it comes to falling for a girl like Paris. Everything between us is passionate, but you keep looking over your shoulder to make sure that no one is watching you interact with her too closely. The hiding is awful, and both of us are ashamed that we have to hide something so right, because everyone else regards it as wrong in their eyes. I can see the pastor and the rabbi when they find out ready to condemn me for thinking this way, and all the townspeople wondering where their innocent little girl went.

As far as I know, I never left. The only thing happening is that I'm maturing and taking better control of things. I refuse to be complacent in my life and end up in trouble somewhere down the road because I didn't do anything with an opportunity presented to me, and took the easy way out. Some people don't see me as strong, instead their view of me is that I'm going through the motions and living out a wish fulfillment so my mother would end up with a proud life because of me, nary having to lift a finger.

I refuse to let them get their way. I can only think for myself in the end, no matter what is thrown my way, so I have to fight my own battles. I know going in that being Paris' girlfriend is going to be something unique. I'm inheriting into a relationship with a girl who second-guesses herself all the time if something isn't on the Harvard track, and who in the past regarded love as something she'll never have, or want. A girl who over the years has been taught to panic over an A- grade, yet has to take a verbal beating each day from her mother, who wants her to go beyond Einstein, long past Edison, no matter that the girl would probably burn out way before the point of those two geniuses.

Paris needs to be a normal girl, with normal worries. Without me there she goes into a tailspin and feels lost anywhere but in the glare of her LCD monitor or a good book. I need to provide her a steady peg to lean on, be the sympathetic ear to her, and let her know that no matter what, I'll always be there for her.

That is my determination. Saturday must go well for the both of us, it just has to. I lie in bed wearing Paris' sweatshirt, which buries me in crimson fleece, and think about her at home, hurriedly on the phone to whomever she's calling to make this date perfect, demanding the best damned customer service money can buy. She's such a perfectionist, so I hope that the waiters of South Central Massachusetts are ready for their most demanding customer ever. Just thinking about that here makes me laugh.

The most important thing about all of is though, is that for the first time in at least a year, I'm looking forward to going out on a date. It's not out of obligation, but the fact that we both want to do this. We have fun together, and this closeness we're starting to share is starting to manifest itself in more than a romantic way. Tonight we made out, sure, but most of the evening, we just talked about nothing in particular. Always a good sign if the person you like is also becoming your best friend.

Another thing I'll have to address one of these days, trying to balance out how much time I spend with Lane with that of Paris. She's been too busy with Dave and the band to really touch base with me lately, which is a relief and makes me relax a little. But once things start to settle, I have to start balancing that out, especially considering that I have no idea how Lane would feel about my being a lesbian.

It's a worry, I won't lie. For now though, things between Paris and I are still secret, and we're unafraid of anything that might get in our way. I hope things go well on Saturday night with her, and that maybe we can make some more progress with each other. The pace is a little faster than expected, but at least I'm finally getting somewhere with someone that I like...

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