Title: Longing With a Cherry Tomato on Top | Chapter Eleven | The Blossom and The Brave

Author: Nate

Pairing: Paris/Rory, Rory POV (this will be a one-chapter event with no Paris POV)

Spoilers: None of the show's plotline is used in this chapter. The timeline will stay between Let the Games Begin and A Deep Fried Korean Thanksgiving for the next few chapters, and for this chapter we're in mid-November 2002.

Rating: R (swearing, sexual actions and allusions, dangerous driving, and the girls make fun of a character not introduced until season five.)

Disclaimer: We last met about five months ago, and damned if Rory and Paris are still property of Dorothy Parker Drank Here Productions, Hofflund-Polone and Warner Bros. Television. I guess if they want to play hard-to-get I'll have to live with that (sighs). Come on though, we all know that when Paris calls Rory boss (as she did last Tuesday working as a DAR server) and abandoning her old rich ways, it's only a matter of time before Rory decides non-Yale life is boring and heads back to give Paris monetary help, and some other kind of 'help' in addition.

Femme Fatale (the movie portion of the dinner and a movie), its characters and situations are owned by Warner Bros. Pictures and Quinta Communications. All other trademarks within are the property of their respective owners, though most of the Springfield, MA establishments in the storyline are fictional (or inspired by real-life Springfield establishments).

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

Summary: It's Rory and Paris' first date, and Paris is out to prove to her girl that she's as datable as Dean ever was. Being Paris though, this first date is bound to have some dysfunctions and interesting moments.

Author's Notes: First, I'd like to note that there won't be a Paris POV of this event coming out; from the feedback I heard from some about the And Then She Kissed Me... chapters, some of the events mentioned within were redundant. I decided to do a Rory POV for the date because my thinking is that Paris would be more worried about logistics and the way she came off to Rory, and that would take away from the dramatics and comedy I intend for this chapter. Lest Paris fans be disappointed, I promise the next chapter set will return to the alternating Paris/Rory format, and there it will truly be needed. I have tried to make up for the lack of Paris POV here by adding more dialogue between Rory and Paris, and actions on Paris' end being noticed by her much more now that they're closer together.

Unfortunately, Raven and Cinn won't be able to beta for the time being, so again I thank Erin Griffin for reading through for me again. Hopefully one day my girls can resume their betaing :). Thanks to the encouragement all this summer from everyone who has read and reviewed, and all who I talk to on IM about the story. A very big thanks to Balti for giving the story a look too and for her lovely enthusiasm about my writing.

I don't really have a story rec right now, but I'll just make a blanket recommendation of most everything on femslash.net or the Black & White & Read archives.

Oh and ff.net readers, still femslash after eleven chapters. Don't see it changing at all, don't say I didn't warn you, don't think I'm trying to offend anyone with this fic.

I still remember the army of nerves that came upon me for my first date with Dean where we went out without any supervision, be it from Mom or from anyone else. I kept thinking to myself that it wasn't going to work, and the night was going to be a disaster because I was never dateable before Dean took an interest in me. I could look the best I could and have the perfectly made up face, but the first mention of something that I would be comfortable talking about, but Dean was clueless to, the date was ruined and he wouldn't see me the way he did again after that.

My mom eased me into everything, telling me not to rush, that 7pm was not a firm time, and Dean would wait until Tonight Show hours for my company if he needed to as I fretted whether to go with the blue dress that brought my eyes out just so, or that other number hanging in the closet. We spent 15 minutes obsessing over a lipstick choice, as Lorelai went through her opinions on colors. "This one, it screams 'I want you Dean'", she teased, rolling up one with deep red pigment.

"I'm not looking for 'I want you', I just want 'I hope I'm interesting enough tonight.'" I felt weird gussying up for a guy who was taking me to one of the 'grown up' restaurants I only saw through a window walking by as a child, not to mention the fact I was dating a guy, the nervousness of balancing a new relationship and a new school getting to me.

Lorelai looked at my selection for a moment, and settled on a light pink color for me. "This should scream that just fine for you, along with 'but I do want you Dean'," she soothed as she bent down to apply it carefully to my lips, closing my eyes so I wouldn't judge myself out of the color as she put it on. "OK, take a look."

I looked straight into the mirror, and the image in front of me worked. "Cool! I like that color!" I screamed out happily, even though my mom was trying to assure me that lipstick color was not the be-all-end-all of the date.

I had gone with the blue dress, and everything seemed to work right, thank goodness. I was glad for Lorelai to help me out as far as dress and makeup that night two years ago I decided to go out with Dean beyond the Willie Wonka watching, and everything worked out well with the date. It was perfectly cute, the food was good, and the movie we watched wasn't half bad, probably because I overruled his choice of a Stallone flick playing at the bookstore.

The kiss at the end of the night was what I still remember about it. We were both nervous, his voice stumbling over words as he let me know that the date was better than expected.

"Yeah, we should do it again, that was fun," I said, looking into his eyes and thinking this was going to be the guy I was going to spend the rest of my life with. He bent down the gap of inches between him and I and gave me a soft slow kiss, and I smiled all through it. Most definitely it was the perfect first date, what has been played out by many young girls with their Barbies and Kens over the last 42 years. I went to bed that night thinking that Dean and I would keep having better and better dates as the relationship continued to play out through the years.

Alas, after that third month anniversary date and the all the mix-ups over the last two years when it came to my friendships with other guys around Dean, the magic of that first date was fleeting and unable to be caught again. I mean I had fun with Dean, sure. I loved the guy for two years and his intentions were romantic. It's just as time went on and on, he took fewer risks when it came to dating, and thought I was content with a Luke's dinner and a DVD rented at Stars Hollow Video or a flick at the budget theater in Cheshire, no matter how bad or not targeted towards a dating couple it might be (Domestic Disturbance, Vanilla Sky, and Murder by Numbers, I'm looking towards your direction!). Dating Dean after awhile, it became...routine and bland. You never want that that to happen, at the very least you want something new and exciting.

He couldn't offer me that anymore, and the tenuous grasp I had at being a heterosexual girl was lost once my interest drifted towards Paris. After I'd say about February, I still dated Dean, but just out of an 'I need a boy' obligation. I was growing to like Paris in the way I do at this moment, and no matter what Dean tried to keep me interested, it was all for naught. I was looking for a strong flame, one that would stay lit and wouldn't have to have lighter fluid sprayed on (i.e. a date one night at one of those cheesy pool suite hotels), and Dean couldn't provide that for me because my interest in him was gone.

But that's all in the past now. The distant past, that is. I've been home from my first date with Paris for at least an hour, and my heart is still racing as I remember how passionate and breathtaking this night ended up being. I had expectations going in of this cultured evening where we'd chat, get to know each other more closely, and maybe sneak in a few romantic moments wherever we could, away from the stresses and problems that are dragged into dating another girl in Hartford or Stars Hollow.

It was all of that, and more. This evening has far and away changed my view of Paris and the way she is, and in turn, I learned so much about how we work as a couple. That when two girls with all this chemistry between them are in the right situations and settings, everything that happens is unexplainable, and it all works out perfectly.

I could leave it to your mind to figure out what happened between us, but I can't keep this inside, I need to recap this night in full so I can make sense of what ensued.

From the moment Paris dropped me back in town after school yesterday, my mind was on nothing but the date and how I was going to prepare myself for it. She had told me not to worry too much about how I looked to her; just to get ready like I was used to and we'd both go from there. Throughout dinner with the grandparents, I kept throwing out evasive topics so I could keep focused on date prep rather than having to conversate about the newest boring goings-on happening throughout society. I kept praying no one notices how much distraction I've had lately. Every free moment away from someone I'd take out my phone and consider calling Paris or sending her a text, but she said something about wanting to have a clean palate for tonight, so I shouldn't contact her in any way.

So that made the first eight hours today from the moment I got up at ten the longest period of time I ever experienced. First there was the accidental order for wintergreen tea at Luke's, causing both him and Mom to look at me funny and nervously like I grew a third eyeball as I struggled through an explanation that it was becoming a habit to order the tea in addition to my breakfast. It was only six days before I started this; I didn't start going bonkers in public over Dean until the Wonka date with Mom!

After that I went to the Inn to help with paperwork and credit card running, and it all seemed a long blur. I sat in my mom's office for those five hours completely uninterested in the work, bored because Paris hadn't even sent out a text message to ask how I was doing. I guess she really was serious about wanting a clean palate, because Michel spent the entire day annoyed at me for the slow pace of my work. Eventually he tired of nagging me to run cards, so I spent the last hour of work delivering the Early Bird edition of the Sunday Courant to every door in the inn, checking my cell phone every ten minutes for any sign of a call, voice mail, text, anything from the girl who had my heart. There was nothing, not that I blame her because she had to make sure everything about the date was right and at the same time find an appropriate outfit without the help of Madeline or Louise.

A stop at home, a shower and much fretting later, by 5:30pm I was at my makeup table contemplating what to wear. I was torn between a light blue sweater/jeans combo, and a blue cotton dress with a medium-low neckline that would be appropriate for a Friday night dinner, or this kind of situation, the lesbian first date. Certainly I'm stylish, but outside of school the both of us really don't know our individual styles because we aren't into being fashion plates. Too bad the uniform doesn't suffice, I thought to myself, that way you wouldn't have to fret.

I had to get it perfect, so that it would not only please Paris, but keep Lorelai clueless to the real purpose of the night out. I held both outfits up to myself, both of them having their good points. Five minutes later though, still no decision. I was still in my robe and freezing because the heat hadn't kicked in, trying to think 'What would Paris do?'

I picked up my cell, scrolling down to her entry and having a mini-debate whether to call her or not. She was on her way and all done, and here I was playing the fretful girlfriend afraid she was wearing the wrong thing. What to do, what to do. I looked at the phone, and then myself in the mirror again, my finger on the green hook button ready to send the call command. If I were to call, the clean palate would be gone and she'd be mad at me, but I would have an idea of what to wear and what we were eating. If not, I could totally guess, but then end up in the wrong outfit.

Oh come on Gilmore! There was my inner vixen getting ready to nag me. You seriously think she's going to take you to Dunkin Donuts for Munchkins and coffee, or TGI Fridays for a pre-movie dinner? This is Paris we're talking about, this ain't Dean!! She'll probably leave a tip that's more than meals you shared with Dean at diners across the region because the only time he could spoil you was that anniversary date. If you want to go with the sweater and jeans go for it, but you'll be fine in that dress wherever you go, it's not too much, not too little. Just get ready because she will make you choose herself or else.

I guess it was right, the little blue dress worked better than jeans in a dating situation. Thus, I took off the robe and put on the dress, worn only once to a Friday night dinner a few months ago. It was a lighter blue that matched my eyes somewhat with a pattern, and the skirt went to just below my knees. I straightened it out, hopeful that it would look good on me and not expose any unneeded lines.

Thankfully after some fretting and a bookish ponytail to create the researching illusion, I looked quite good, just well enough to knock Paris off her feet. I looked quite innocent in it on the surface, but beneath...that'll be described a little later on.

After a little makeup and some teeth brushing, the clock was at 5:55pm and Mom was home from the Inn, all perfect timing for me to remind her of my cover story. Thankfully a little Googling of 'Springfield history' along with some backup from Chilton's archives gave me all the excuse we needed to say we were doing a story on the 150th anniversary of Smith and Wesson and their connections to Chilton for the 75th anniversary of the Franklin.

"You're going to write an article about a gun manufacturer? On a Saturday night?" Lorelai asked. I shook my head.

"Not about them, their kin, some of them attended Chilton and we want to get an omnibus of viewpoints for the 75th anniversary Franklin issue. We have to do some detective work up there to confirm sources and stuff, and we're not just going to walk in their offices and say we want information, you know Paris is a digger and a learner."

"I just don't see why she wouldn't just have you do it from home," she argued back to me, sitting on the couch. "And why are you using omnibus in a sentence, that's the weirdest word I've ever heard." I groaned and shook my head.

"Mom, I want to be a better friend to her, before now we haven't known each other outside school." Sighing, I tried to hold back my emotions that I was truly starting to know her. "Yeah, it might seem like she's on the crack for dragging me along for this help, but you took a trip with Sookie up to Foxwoods that one day because she had this crazy whim that one of her former souse chefs was using her recipes as the basis for his new menu as one of their chief chefs. There's nothing different about that at all."

"I know, but this is Paris--"

"Who if I do everything for her," I noted, "will tell Ms. Peters that I'm the best underling that she ever supervised, and she was proud of my work, thus I get some momentum for Harvard and the Crimson. I know you don't understand how much this paper is her life, but it's very important to the both of us that we put 100% and more into this. It's a milestone Mom, and I want to put a mark on it somewhere in school."

Mom looked at me for a moment as I lied to her again. It keeps paining me to do this to her, keeping her clueless on how our 'friendship' is being boosted, but I just don't know how cool she'll be with me dating another girl. And Paris of all beings, the same person who harped on her historical details at the Bracebridge dinner. Sad thing was, she was becoming as much of a punchline with Mom as President Bush, so it was more about wearing Mom down right now so that eventually she might accept Paris as more than a pest than just going right in and saying she's my girlfriend.

Lorelai looked at me for a moment, just stunned about how much I was putting into this friendship. "You're starting to like that girl, aren't you hon?"

I nodded. "You get past her surface insecurities and there's a nice girl somewhere, trust me. I don't like to judge."

"I know, but just a month ago she wouldn't come here without an excuse," she admitted. "Since then you made up, won the dance marathon, and now you're being dragged willingly up north with her to Massachusetts, I just would've never saw this coming."

Mom was right about that, it must be strange to see a former enemy suddenly being buddy-buddy with you after so much strife over the years. Checking the clock, I saw it was two minutes to six. A rush went through me, knowing that Paris was at that moment in town in the square making the turn towards Cherry Lane. I was so excited, the time was almost here!

Before she came though, I had to close out the conversation with Mom. "I didn't expect it either, but I'll know her in some way for the rest of my life, might as well make things easier on the both of us." We smiled, and I think I saw her understand where I was coming from. When it came down to basics, I wanted Paris as my friend, and also happy at the same time. I didn't want to see her fall back into her self-loathing cycle her mother kept her stuck to.

"What time will you be back?" I looked up at her.

"We're going to try for eleven, midnight at the latest, figuring time between there and back and then dinner and research, we'll have a good three hours there at least." Knowing I might be able to wring a half hour extra out of her with a well placed face, I gave her the puppy-dog eyes to convey to her that we would be just fine all alone on the roads of Northern Connecticut, since Paris can change a tire and defend herself well.

"Rory..." she shook her head for a moment, knowing what I was pulling on her. "Fine, you have 12:30 to come home, no later than that however."

I smiled widely, happy I gained some extra time from her that I never had with Dean. Not that extra dating time mattered with him ever, because he always brought me home at ten, no matter what. Something about his mom having a curfew or him needing to rest up for his auto work...why am I still talking about him?! OK, whining about him and how inadequate he was, but still, I need to stop dwelling on him and remember that I've felt more for Paris in one week than for him in an entire school year.

We both got up from the couch and walked towards the front hall when we heard the sound of an engine in the distance, telling me she was now on my street. It was a different sound though; usually her car sounded more quiet and subdued, the usual dull hum of a luxury car engine that was prevalent in the Chilton parking lot. What I heard as I grabbed my coat from the hook was...stronger, not at all restrained. It was a deeper sound that came from the engine, and though I can't tell a school bus engine from a compact car's to save my life, I could tell from sound alone that she was driving something else tonight. She isn't that gutsy, is she? I thought with my first thought being of something even more expensive than her Jag, as Mom went through the usual speech of the AAA number being programmed in my cell phone if needed and to call her if there were any problems.

Once I opened the front door though, and saw Paris' car sweep down the road, I felt myself shudder as my eyes took in her choice of ride for the evening. It was still a little light out, but from memory of the time Paris drove me into the Manor garage, I remembered the look of the car from my memories and dreams of her, and her vivid descriptions of what was Mr. Gellar's 16th birthday present to her as a congratulations for earning her license.

It smoothly took the curve off the road and onto our gravel drive, and I stood with my mouth stilled taking in the soft curves of her 'fun car', which you would never see out on the road unless it was something really special.

Something like a first date, my mind butted in with. The sound of the tires on the gravel brought me to full attention as her car's headlights swooped across Mom and I standing at front stepside, time slowing and my nerves starting to pick up. Wow, she truly doesn't go halfway when it comes to a date.

The car screeched to a stop, and the engine was turned off as I went through a mental checklist making sure that my lip gloss wasn't too much or overpowering, my dress was straight and unwrinkled and my mind was filled with enough leading questions to get through what should be plenty of conversation between the two of us through the evening. My mind was starting to wander off on tangents unthinkable weeks ago, about what Paris would do for me on a date, how she would treat me, not to mention what we would actually do. I fell into a lovesick funk, though one shrouded by the educational excuse of what we were going to Springfield for.

"Dammmnn," Mom dragged out as Paris unbuckled her belt and prepared to get out of the car, "she must've run a very profitable lemonade stand to get...that, I need to take business advice from her." I remember her making that kind of analogy about one of her other cars that first time she came to study here at the house. "That's a great car, isn't it kiddo?'

"Yeah it is," I responded numbly. Of all the cars in the world, her Porsche 911 convertible was the last pumpkin I expected to be picked up in tonight. 'A silver bullet on wheels' was what I heard it called by another student the one and only time she drove it to Chilton last year the day of the election to try to psyche herself up that she would win with my help and her campaign goals. I've thought of myself in the front passenger seat of that car a few times, but thought I'd never get to sit in it, much less touch it. The plate says 'PARS 911' for 'Paris' 911', and it's definitely hers, because sometimes in conversation she'll mention the newest part, safety addition or other thing she's put into it in order to boost the value of what already has to be a very expensive and speedy car.

Finally, she got all the way out and shut the door behind her, approaching Mom and I tentatively and with some caution. At first sight, I knew that being surprised as to what she was going to wear was starting off the night well.

I mumbled out a hello, my eyes slowly taking in the details of a Paris who this time, knew what she was definitely working with and wouldn't need my last-minute help to look good. The way she looked was beyond words and compare; she was wooing me well to begin the night.

Her hair was done into a sleek ponytail, befitting the casualness of the night, and her face was done up lightly, with some gloss on her lips and a light covering of rouge on each of her cheeks. I was taken back by how intense her eyes looked with some dark mascara and eyeshadow, and the simple ruby stud earrings in each of her lobes. Somehow she was learning well how to get ready, and that continued with her outfit.

I couldn't really tell what she was wearing since she had a coat on like I did, but I did see a peek of brown leather that made up her skirt that went to a couple inches above her knees, making me flash back to why she looked so good in leather. Keep it in control there Gilmore, Mom's still here, not good to be thinking sexual thoughts around her...

"Rory, you're looking nice tonight." Paris looked towards me and took me out of the sudden chasm of lust I had fallen into. "Hello Ms. Gilmore."

"Well, hello Paris," my mom greeted back, but then turned inquisitive. "Where's your usual car tonight? It's not every day you see a car like that on the roads."

Paris shrugged and rattled off what seemed to be a wonderfully rehearsed answer. "My tires are getting pretty low on tread, I didn't feel comfortable driving Rory around up north without a fresh set, so I decided to bring this baby out of hiding and give it some miles while the Jag tires get a change back in Hartford. I'm certainly not going to do the SUV, too boxy. I'd rather drive something that'll stay on the road, and this car is very safe." I have to admit, Paris can make any kind of car sound safe, she just has that persuasive way of driving someone to see her side of the argument.

"O-kay," Mom said. "Umm, I just want to make sure I'm not about to send my daughter across state lines in a screaming metal deathtrap."

Unexpectedly, Paris laughed and bounced another comeback Mom's way. "I'm a very safe driver, you can count on that Ms. Gilmore. My father actually had me drive off road in parking lots and take classes at a racing school that specialized in defensive driving instruction for at least four weeks last spring before I could even take it anywhere near a public road." To make the point that my safety was paramount above all else, she made a surprising declaration. "If we get into an accident I or my father will take full care of her bills, but hopefully that's not an issue tonight." She then smiled toward me, and I felt a lilt in my heart towards that small gesture.

"Mom, she isn't Tony Stewart," I pointed out. "I'll be fine." I understood her aversion to strange new cars since the whole accident thing a few months ago, but I never developed a fear for cars after that, just ones built by ex-boyfriends that weren't road-worthy in the first place. "Besides, we'll probably be in interviews and research and eating most of the night, we're just using it to go back and forth."

My blonde girl and my brunette mom stared at each other eye to eye for a few moments, both of them trying to make their points through actions and what they conveyed through their eyes. It was odd to watch, and though I was excited about the wheels being used for the date, I wasn't sure if she would take the bait.

"Nothing will happen?" Lorelai asked to calm her nerves one more time. Paris nodded affirmatively.

"I promise you she'll be fine."

My mother stood her ground firmly, though the conversation became light-hearted and sarcastic. "I'm going to count every bone to make sure they're all still intact when you drop her off. One broken bone out of 206, you're never going to hear the end of it. I really want to trust you, and you've done well so far with the rides back and forth in that sane boring luxury car of yours, and I just want to make sure that you'll keep her safe."

"I don't start the car until both belts are buckled and doors are locked, and I don't step out until the engine has fully cooled down." The finality of this last statement thankfully finally sealed the deal.

"Glad we could work this out together, hope you have a nice evening girls." Mom smiled at me, and the awkward hidden first date meeting was finally ending. "Remember Rory, 12:30 or else."

"Yes Mom, love you." She bent down and kissed me, and said "Love you too hon" as we said our goodbyes. I was relieved that it was all over and I could get back on the focus of the night, this date. The two minutes of the Showdown at the Gilmore Homestead only rustled my butterflies further, the relief of Paris' caring face there lost in the aversion Lorelai had to me going in the car. Thankfully she has that girl's night out planned with Sookie and Gypsy, so her mother's intuition should be fogged out around the third sour apple Pucker drink around 9pm tonight.

She left us alone, getting ready for her own night out, leaving the both of us alone in front of her car, with me shaken up and jumpy.

"That went better than I thought it would," Paris reasoned.

"Better?" I was puzzled as I made my way nervously towards the passenger's side, hoping my fingernails wouldn't scratch up the finish. "Paris, you bring this...this car here, that's a pretty gutsy move, don't you think?"

She smiled towards me, trying to keep my mind at ease. "I just wanted to impress, that's all."

"Well...impression noted." I was laughing a little nervously and began a ramble. "You didn't have to drag this out, I mean in the first place, it's November, not exactly top down weather, so obviously we can't drive down the road in a convertible. Then it's just me, I'm not impressed by big fancy luxury objects, you know that, I mean yeah, I said in the list that your aggressiveness on the roads drew me towards you, but that was in the safe car, with the comfy airbags and tight seatbelts." I watched her start to shirk down a little, and we both got into the car on each of our sides, the fact that this was truly our first date starting to become clear. "I just..." I stopped as she seemed to be taking in my words as a insult and sighed aloud, which I certainly had no intention of doing; call it the cautious me who doesn't want to take a risk jumping in to stop me when I wanted to go forward.

"Crap, don't listen to anything I say, that wasn't a good tangent at all. I'm sorry." I slid my hand towards her in order to reassure her that her picking me up in the Porsche was really nice. "Mom just wants me to be cautious and safe, that's all."

"I know," she responded softly, "you're her everything and all that. I just wanted to make you feel after all those dull months dating Dean that it's a special thing to go out, it shouldn't be Luke's, then movie at bookstore, bang-bang and you're home. For me that's taking this out for a spin with you as co-pilot." Her little finger locked with mine, and she had me bring my attention up to her face, as she smiled and tried to keep me calm. "If you'd like I can stop at the Manor on the way north and borrow the BMW, if that'll ease Lorelai's and your fears."

It didn't take long for me to shake my head no and refuse her nod to make the date 'calmer'. "Don't worry about it Par, really. I'm just nervous about this night being perfect and all, you're safe, and I don't see us doing any drag racing with Duncan or Bowman later in the night, so I'll be fine."

"Alright." She stared at me for a moment, taking me in up and down as I took off my jacket, folded it up, and tossed it into the backseat. "I really missed you today; you don't know how much panic I was trying to get ready."

"I can only imagine."

"Think me at Westfarms taking advice from some girl at Lord & Taylor wanting to bilk out my Fleet card by sticking me with the most expensive outfit possible, then me trying to stumble through the aisles of the shoe department in a pair of tall heels." The image in my head of 'You would look so good in this miss' from a cherry salesman while Paris mumbled under her breath a hope the woman didn't procreate made laugh out loud.

Her talking about shoes also made me look down as she started the car at what was resting on the gas and the brake. The skirt was matched up wonderfully with brown open-toed heels, which for her weren't that high, but just right.

"I missed you too," I said, taking the finger gesture all the way to a full wrap of her hand. "I thought of calling a couple of hours ago, but I didn't know how much you were going to enforce the radio silence..." She brought herself closer towards me as the awareness of my surroundings told me that the 911's privacy windows were a darker shade than the Jag's, giving us just that much more cover.

"Talk me out of it next time Gilmore, I wanted to break it around six last night. I had my AIM and MSN signed on invisibly all night and kept checking my phone for texts, that was one of my more dim ideas ever."

"I was up too, in invisible mode," I confessed. "I didn't go to bed until the end of listening to our debate with Willimantic Union, that was our strongest match last season. You were on fire with all your points and took them out of the running early." Somehow I managed to sound like an Orlando Bloom fangirl with that confession, but she smiled towards me, her gaze fargone.

"Don't delude Rory, you just wanted to hear my voice, didn't you?"

"Maybe," I said back.

"Feel my lips on yours perhaps?" I was starting to get antsy that she was doing this in my front drive, and I kept an eye on the house hopeful the reflections of the porch and street lights would muddle up the front windshield so that if my mom peeked, she wouldn't see anything. Paris then barely brushed against my cheek for a soft kiss, a feeling that hasn't dissipated in the days that have passed. The goosebumps along my arm, the stuttering of my breath, even though she was mine it still always took me by surprise. She pulled back a little, moving towards the side of my head, and towards my ear. Paris was far from done with allaying my dating fears.

"Or maybe somewhere else altogether?" The words were spoken with a touch of darkened lust, and the exact first allusion of where those lips might end up went through my head, the image from my Wednesday morning dream of her and I in the breakfast nook coming back strong. All I could do was nod my head slowly as her lips brushed against the shell of my left ear. "Somehow I doubt that somewhere else you're thinking about is your ear, right?"

I creaked out a little 'yes' towards her, softly wishing that time could speed up and we could continue to be like this for many months to come.

"We should get a move on," Paris whispered as she started to pull away, "the reservations are for 7:00. A minute late and that book in your purse might be coming in handy."

"Actually," I said as I looked down at my lighter than usual bag, "I didn't bring a book tonight. I, uh, figured that there won't be a need for it, since we're dating and it would be rude of me to do that. Besides, we could talk, talking is always a good thing, isn't it?"

"Talking is good, I want to do more of that with you." She smiled. "I thought of things in my rush to get everything ready for this date so I don't see us running out of topics."

"No index cards this time?" I joked, my inner vixen finding an open opportunity to play with her. "I could frisk you just to make sure." I curled my lips seductively, and she got this wide-eyed look, her expressive eyes bugging out.

"Uhh...err...I really don't have any index cards, really." She panted, trying to distract me by turning the ignition and starting the car, the engine revving with the vibrations of all those horses in the hood in front of us shaking up the seats. "I've learned that I don't really need them, especially when it comes to you Gilmore."

"Aw darn it, I was really looking forward to checking you over!" I faked an annoyed tone and then a pout. "I guess I'll have to take your word for it. Although if one falls out..." I wandered my voice off and brought my eyes at her, moving my hand towards the bottom of her jacket, "...I might have to let you know how serious I was about checking you over."

She bit her lip down and gulped, seemingly surprised by the seductive side she was bringing out of me. She was enjoying the night so far, but all the sexual tension between us had to be restrained so we could get through this date without more than that happening. I couldn't believe myself how gutsy my inner vixen was making me act this way. I didn't even start to heavily flirt with Dean until two months in; here I was on day six of being with Paris and I was already hinting at going beyond that point with her already.

"Rory..." she said to me softly. "As much as your hand on my jacket is soothing, we have to go, and it's...very distracting." She frowned a little bit, sad she would have to lose that contact with me on the drive north up 91.

"Yeah, the last thing we want in the police report if you crash was 'the driver's girlfriend was too touchy-feely, thus ensuing the automobile driving through the guardrail and off a cliff.'"

"There aren't any cliffs for miles around." Paris corrected for me smugly. She took my arm by the wrist and pushed it off slowly. "There are river valleys, but you can't count them because most of them have a moderate slope, they're not cliff-like, unless you're driving in downtown Hartford along River Drive on the west bank along the side where there's--"

I looked at her involved in her own little rant about the world around us, and though it was sort of cute, it did bug me a little. We're dating, not studying the water features and topography of the region, I thought to myself once she brought her point south towards New Haven and Bridgeport along the Long Island Sound where there were some cliffs. It was time to get a little extreme with how much I wanted this date to start already.

"Par?" I said sweetly yet in a firm tone to her as I stopped her mid-sentence. She was startled by the interruption and turned to face me, asking me what I wanted.

I knew what I wanted, and it took a check of the windows of the house and those of the surrounding homes to make sure that there wasn't anyone looking towards the silver sports car we were idle in. No silhouettes in the shade, and Mom was probably upstairs getting ready for her night. Perfect.

I slid closer in the seat so that I could give her a quick kiss on the lips. She stared stunned as I brought myself closer and threaded my right hand through her back-tied tresses. In the low light, she looked stunning and breathtaking, and I felt gutsy as I went in for a swift brush of my lips against hers. My nose took in the spice of her cinnamon and brown sugar smell, an obvious attempt to lure me in with a favorite of my scents.

The dream was quickly paling to the reality of the first date. She brought her mouth into a neutral guise as I pulled back after the kiss, in shock and registering the tingles that went through her system as I smiled at her and tried to make it known that this first date was going to work, that it wasn't going to end with her spurned and pained.

"The only place I'm going to fall into tonight is your arms," I assured, sounding like a freaking Hallmark card. "No cliffs, no others butting in on us, no bells or deadlines, and certainly no marathon dancing. It's just you and tonight hon, and I know you have something planned out that will amaze me."

She looked down, a little shy and scared from my kissing her right in the front drive, but realizing that nothing was going to ruin this night. We liked each other, and that's all that mattered.

Shaking her head, she looked back towards me one more time, turned the key to start her beast of a car, and smiled.

"Well then Gilmore, I have a challenge to fulfill. I hope you're amazed by this night." The engine revved up quite loudly as she pressed on the gas with the parking brake on. "I have the radio tuned to Wait, Wait, so we can concentrate on the date when we get there. For now, we'll just have fun."

I felt the pressure let of the date a little at this point, and as she drove out of Stars Hollow, it felt nice to have one of our traditional car ride routines as Carl Kasell's voice welcomed us to the competitive news quiz that is Wait, Wait...Don't Tell Me. It's been a Monday tradition for us this year to listen to it on her iPod after everyone leaves the Franklin and on the way back to town, and score each other on how well we know our current events. First one to shout the answer gets the point, and being able to listen to it live as we head up north, it takes our mind off how big this night exactly is.

The ride north on 91 was slower than usual for a Saturday night, especially through Hartford because it's the first true weekend of skiing season in the Berkshires. Paris stays calm though, and the smooth ride of the Porsche even on the older and bumpier parts of the expressway, hypnotized me into a sense of calm I never had on a date before. It takes forty minutes to get to Windsor, and her hyperfocus on the road and on the radio show gets to me so badly. We say the answer when it comes into either one of our heads, and it's so hard to take my mind away from a track where that same hyperfocus goes into her telling me how much she likes me, or how she shows it.

I can tell from her driving that she knows what she's doing on the road. I'm amazed as when we get behind a semi truck, she looks for an opening in the center lane all the way to the left, and she takes the speedometer from 55 up to 80 in less than five seconds as indeed, she makes a sweep into the center lane, then into a space in the left lane between an SUV and a Camry, and then back into the center lane where there's a large traffic opening where she slows down a little. It almost seems like she's racing the truck, but he keeps his speed constant as her speed pushes up from 70, then all the way to 85 as we get to where the cab meets the trailer.

I feel a lump in my throat, the rush building up, that excitement that not only am I on the road with my girlfriend heading for our first date, but that there is a dangerous side to her. I look at her steady, her mind probably picturing the road already up to the state line.

"Are you watching this Ror?" she asks. "I practiced this technique at least three times driving an autobahn two years ago over summer break. It's tougher here because this is a speed-controlled interstate, but still doable."

"You drove in Germany?" I couldn't get over how strong she was, taking on a truck driver who probably didn't figure her car as racing him.

"Not in this exact car, of course, Daddy has some friends there who offered to let me drive one of their speed machines. I actually drove 140 down a straightaway, and the G-force is unlike any you'd ever feel on a carnie ride. The scenery just blurs by and you could probably take a Burma-Shave slogan series in seconds instead of a minute." It was nice to see her let her hair down, figuratively like this. "It's nice to speed like this, like the illusion that your problems disappear faster with each new mile per hour. I don't know, it's like I want to prove myself in everything that I do, be it a math problem, an obligation to someone, being a driver who loves this kind of speed." Her thought finished as the front end of the truck passed the bumper, and with my eyes trained on the needle of the speedometer, she flicked on the right signal and slid gracefully back into the right lane as the 'Last Connecticut Exit' sign whizzed by us.

It was such a rush, a Thelma and Louise-type moment in real time as we passed the blue sign welcoming us into the Bay State, except there were no police on our tail and the only thing we were wanted for was having this secret thing for each other. We continued to talk, and I learned how badly that Paris had missed me through the day.

"I haven't even made a dent in my homework since I came home last night," she admitted, gritting her teeth through the admission. "It's off to the side on my desk waiting to be done, and you know how punctual I am with it, that it must be done before bedtime Friday night. All night I'd think about doing it, but I was too busy trying to be perfect for tonight, and daydreaming about the last week."

"Good daydreaming?"

She smiled. "Is it wrong to say that I'm on a cloud just thinking about you? When you left after Thursday evening, I looked at the empty wine bottle and realized I had made an error by putting it in the fridge before I served it to you and basically blown all this wine protocol a friend of my mother's had drilled me on during an etiquette lesson. I'm supposed to let it breathe or decant or something, serve it at an exact certain temperature, use a special kind of wine glass etcetera, and I screwed all of that up because I was too busy thinking about us to realize I had put a red wine bottle in the fridge."

"It still tasted fine if that's what you're worried about," I said, trying to soothe her worries.

"No, I'm not worried about that, it's just I went all Forgetful Jones on serving wine, but because of who you are, you still accepted it."

"One of the funnier characters on Sesame Street, I loved him and his horse Buster." I lightened up the conversation with that, and she was happy to see I got her reference.

"See? You didn't nitpick me or call me stupid because I served something wrong, you could've cared less. All you thought was 'she's cute when she tries to be sappy', and that's all that mattered. I'd make a horrible bartender or waitress, and here you are, liking me because I at least tried."

"I can't stand to see you upset," I said to her, Paris' concentration on the road still heavy. "You put a lot into the night and the ask-out, it was a lot to do, and it worked out very well."

"Yeah, it's just the actual date part I'm nervous about," she said softly. "I guess now that we're in the state I can tell you I got reservations to the most exclusive Italian restaurant in Springfield, corner seat overlooking the river, non-smoking, a Zagat editor's choice. I heard they have some of the best seafood Italian dishes around, so I went with them. The price is a little high, but hey, I never use my black card for anything."

"Black card?"

She explained just how special this credit card she carried was in the world of the wealthy. "The Centurion Card AMEX offers that's colored black; Daddy's one of their biggest and best customers, and they offered it to him three years back. It's a card you will only find with the brightest on Wall Street, the chiefs of Fortune 500 companies, business leaders and the largest stars around, and guess who's the daughter of one of those titans?" I was awed as she described what was so special about a black credit card. "Like right now if I wanted to, I could pull off to the side, charter a helicopter to Philly to pick us up and two hours later, we're at Geno's enjoying a cheesesteak sandwich and fries, or something much more high-priced than that. Heck, if I wanted to I could rent out a theater in downtown with that thing and we'd be able to enjoy the movie we'll be seeing later without anyone butting in or one cell phone ringing."

I asked her a hypothetical, wondering one more thing. "So this card, you can buy anything? Get any service, do whatever you want with it?"

"As long as you pay the bill, of course." She said.

"Wow," I stuttered, shocked. "Anything you want?"

"Well, almost everything that I want." She curls her lips into a smile and sighs. "Not everything can be acquired with a swipe and a signature, those things take hard work and dedication. I'd rather have that any day than a blouse that goes out of style after three months or so. I think you know what might be included in that category besides Harvard."

Of course I did, and I could tell by the softness of her voice that my love is something she wanted to earn through something like the date tonight, a slow woo meant to show me that human side Paris keeps behind lock and key to but a few select people. It's nice to see her in a six-figure speed machine speeding through Hampden County with an exclusive charge card in her purse, but that was a minor layer to what she is. The money means nothing to her, it's just a means to the end and there's a lot of it for her to use. It's what she does with her hands, her brain, and what's within her heart that in the end, really matters.

"I'm glad you see this as a challenge," I said, comforting her and trying to be reassuring. "Because I really want things to work out between the both of us. There's much more than a spark here, and hopefully tonight will make it steady."

"I like the way you think Ror." She took her right hand off her steering wheel and brought it to my wrist. "I might be nervous as hell, but in the end the only thing we can do is try and hope for the best." Her focus on the road remained steady, and her hand near mine was something that kept my nerves calm for the rest of the ten minute drive from the state line and exiting the off-ramp to State Street and into the city's downtown.

The big 'first date' conversation was coming up soon...

...But judging from Paris' cries for some kind of refund of service at the restaurant she made a reservation at and expected intimacy, it wouldn't be for a bit yet, and not at her originally intended restaurant.

We walked from the parking structure a couple of blocks away and towards the restaurant with what did seem to be delivering a good view of the riverfront and the expressway, DeVecchio's Trattoria. Both of us found our stomachs rumbling with hunger, and I couldn't wait to dig into a plate of cheesy seafood ziti with a sparkling glass of Sprite and what Paris read as melt-in-your-mouth garlic bread.

Judging from the line in front of the establishment, along with the noise emanating from the restaurant, that intimacy Paris was promised wouldn't be there until late in the evening. The store window section, which was in an old 1850's building looked beyond crowded, the line barely held in by the doors. It looked like that even if Paris immediately whipped out the black card and asked them to clear the place, this was far from the romantic atmosphere she truly expected.

"What is this?"

"A long line?" I answered, noticing her face turn from excited about the date as far to devastated that we would be going into a situation that matched up with a Chilton dining hall lunch with everyone talking and conversation dying within feet of the respondent.

"I'd expect this at a Vegas buffet, and I'd tolerate it if we went to ILM Thursday's or whatever that happy and peppy fake-neighborhood bar is called, but not here. Here on our romantic night out." She rolled her eyes, looking at the restaurant with dismay. The stress she had seemed to be coming back quickly and we realized that indeed we were not alone.

"Par, maybe it's just a big corporate group, they'll eat and leave and we'll have the place almost to ourselves." I tried to rationalize the crowd, with Paris continuing to sulk.

"I paid $50 for a table, a corner table no less. Do you see that window Gilmore? The window in the corner? Please, look over there and tell me what you see."

"Maybe they're just taking too long..." Still I made her happy by looking over at that corner window. What I saw certainly stewed my juices.

The couple at our table was just having their main courses served, and the both of them didn't look happy at all. The man, an older gentleman, waved his arms in the air, and I thought I could read him saying 'finally!' through his lips as the waiter tried to assure him that the wait was purely accidental. The woman of the couple sat there seeming to be bored. I could tell because her napkin, which might be on her lap? Was instead an origami swan, not a good one, but the shape was definite of that animal. Somehow she was able to make it in the time between she sat down and the food was finally served, and I couldn't see that as part of the décor.

"Look at them, they've obviously been waiting over a half an hour for their food, and they're agitated that they've had to wait. From the looks of it he's one of the banking bigwigs too, not a good thing." She heaved a heavy breath. "God, maybe I have the wrong restaurant, I don't know, but Zagat gave this a 28.8, I should give it a chance I suppose."

The occupants of our table only deteriorated from this point on. Watching through the window, the customers seemed agitated and pointed at the food to get the waiter's attention that the order was totally wrong. The man gestured with his hands towards him, while his wife looked on in dismay at a good night out turned bad.

Already irked from the specter of a wait ahead of the both of us, Paris walked towards the front entrance, where an attendant stood watch and asked for an explanation of why she would have to wait for so long.

"You can't anticipate walk-in business," he claimed. "Apparently some New England bankers had a meeting here this weekend and they needed somewhere to eat."

"I don't care, I have a reservation!"

"Ma'am, what time was it for?" the attendant asked.

"7:00," she said, pointing at her watch. "It is now 7:20, and I have a specific schedule to keep for this evening. My friend and I have matters to discuss, and a loud environment like this isn't conducive to our business." When Paris gets mad, she really gets mad, and everyone knows it.

Still, this jerk of a guy thought he could outwit my girlfriend with basic flattery. "You're whining about a few minutes?" he says to Paris harshly. "Lady, we have forty customers a night, just be happy you got a reservation here at all!"

Sure enough, Paris' voice lowered into where her threats came, and she stared him down ice-solid. "I paid $50 to reserve a table, and I expect you to seat us at a halfway comparable spot as soon as possible, quiet and removed from the crowd. Don't you try to give me spoon-fed customer no-service lines or offer me a free plate of cheese sticks, because let me tell you right now, it isn't going to work."

"Ma'am, I'm only a parking attendant, not a waiter--" Geeze, this guy was talking about tables two minutes ago and now he claims he only parks cars? Something was funny, and Paris wasn't going to be settled easily.

"Sir, I read your review in Zagat where you got a 28.8 for this establishment. Now I expect that 28.8 service in the next few seconds, otherwise I'm walking away from here and on the phone to my credit card company asking for a stop charge of the reservation due to customer dissatisfaction. I'm easily going to spend $100 tonight here, and if your mind can't process that, obviously you don't want my business."

He stopped for a moment, and looked at the both of us, desperate for this food we heard so many good things about. This man sealed the deal for us when he decided it wasn't worth his while to let us in for a table.

"I'm sorry," he sniped. "You'll have to wait in line like the rest of the customers, you'll be served eventually."

"And just when will this 'eventually' be?" That was me trying to state how I felt about the situation as I saw Paris visually tense up and prepare herself for an evisceration of this jerk trying to ruin our night. "We came all the way from the middle of Connecticut to eat here and all you can tell us is that theoretically in the not-too-distant future, that we might be able to eat here before closing time? My apologies if I'm being rude, but if a reservation is made by us much earlier, we have priority over anyone who walks in for a table off the street."

This guy was just being a gnat and continued to feed us more bull, but no actual food. "We can't turn down sudden business--"

"Oh God, just let us eat already!! I don't care if a banker has to wait thirty minutes to eat, obviously you weren't in his plans this Monday evening, while I made my reservation that night." He just stared blankly at us, not understanding basic customer service at all.

"You'll have to wait," was the attendant's final answer. Both of us finally had enough of it, and I implored Paris to let this go because obviously DeVecchio's had no need for our guaranteed business.

"Come on hon, there's plenty of other restaurants here we can get a table at in a few moments," I grumbled. "Expect the chief chef at my mother's inn to not recommend your place at all, I will be letting her know about the treatment you gave both of us."

Paris stared him down and gave him one last look. "Also let your boss know Monday afternoon I will be calling for a refund, and that he will give it to me. You've also guaranteed if Zagat calls me for an opinion on this establishment a failing grade is guaranteed."

"If you'd wait ten minutes..."

"We've wasted twenty-three minutes trying to get in for our table, that's enough for us. Maybe you'll understand this phrase seeing as this is an Italian restaurant; scopata fuori, spingete!" She made a strong dismissal gesture as she waved him off, and we turned around and away from the restaurant, both of us feeling very frustrated that the eating part of the date wasn't off the ground at all. Both of us headed down to the block back towards the parking garage, with Paris voicing her frustrations over that first 'failure' of the night.

Her body language was stressed, and as she walked down the street she seemed to shy away from me, her thinking being that not getting into the restaurant doomed the date and made her look like a fool in front of me. Her arms wrapped around her chest, face looking down towards the sidewalk, not a look towards me at all. I couldn't believe what that guy did to us, and not only that, the restaurant. It made me wonder that even though we never mentioned that we were a couple, he sensed our closeness and denied us access because of an appearance of being a couple. He had no right to act that way towards her, and he should be lucky that Paris let it go rather than pushed her way in and asked to speak to the manager.

I followed her down the street, maintaining my steps as her pace picked up. She was mad at herself for getting angry, I was sure of it.

"Par, you OK?" I asked with concern evident in my voice. "If it's about the restaurant don't worry about it." Paris faced me, and we stopped in front of a Martinizing shop.

"I'm fine Rory, I just need some time to stew in my own head and let this sink in. You believe I made the reservations on Monday, right? I wouldn't take you anywhere unless I knew for sure that the reservations were there. Right after you left on Thursday I called, changed the day and they said it was totally fine..." her voice started to turn from calm to panicked as she continued. "...because I told them there would be a slight chance I'd have to change the day or cancel if you did say no altogether for a date, which you didn't and thank God. But we get there, and it's all 'Sorry Paris, you're not rich or important enough, and your friend isn't too, sorry.'"

She leaned against the wall of the dry cleaning store, and I moved closer to her so I could help her get out her words. Paris looked as if she was on the verge of tears, sad things weren't going her way. "I'm the worst date ever."

Don't cut yourself down! My mind thought loudly, and I was in a panic about what to do next. We were trying to have a good time and one guy ruins the night five minutes in by telling her that the reservation was no good. "Paris, you are not the worst date ever, because the date hasn't even started."

"It did and the attendant told us we'd have to wait for a reservation--" I felt I had to soothe her back down before she went off on a tangent and tried to back out of all our progress through our first week and end things here, all because some restaurant couldn't say no to new customers they couldn't take in the first damned place.

I took her hand into mine, and moved closer to her to try to calm her down, a novice attempt at a hidden PDA. "Will you calm down Paris, you didn't ruin anything, we just ended up with some bad luck, get a hold of yourself! So your restaurant choice that meets your high standards didn't work out that well. Better that they were jerky at the door than when we were actually eating inside. Besides that, could you imagine being romantic at all in that place? All those older bankers and their wives, surrounding us. Just from looking inside that place I could tell that nothing would be private; they'd be just as judgmental as if we were eating at someplace in Hartford."

She frowned, seeing a big chink in her plan for the evening and not even realizing what may have happened had we been able to eat in DeVecchio's. I saw it in my head, sitting down at the table with all that old money surrounding us, the stares from those people at two teenaged girls looking for a night out, and having to hold back because God forbid they hadn't seen a girl flirt with another before. And then the eventual guy coming out of the woodwork with one of his friends and their eyes being caught by us, thus they drift over to our table, turn on their desperate flirting so that we'd go with them, and then the date would really be truly destroyed.

Paris seemed to normalize things, though it took her a couple of minutes to do just that. We just stood in front of that dry cleaner's trying to figure out where to go to eat, because I still wanted to eat and talk with her before we saw the movie. I was very hungry, saving my appetite for a good hearty meal from where she reserved. Obviously we wouldn't be going back there...

"Rory?" Paris' voice was again normal and calm, so I felt I could talk to her again without having to calm her down.

"You OK now hon?" I wrapped an arm around her, setting my hand against her left shoulder, hoping soon to see what she was wearing beneath the jacket, and to have an alternate place to eat.

"I just wanted it to be nice and perfect, but I think I remembered the root cause of the date with Jamie bombing, besides the obvious sexuality clash." She shook her head, looking right at me. "I put too much into venue and it ended up stifling any ideas we might have had to get to know each other better because it was so formal. Same here too, I just went with the highest Zagat rating and ended up with another snotty restaurant that didn't make me comfortable in my own skin, and certainly you weren't feeling that way either."

I laughed at her convoluted explanation that in the scheme of things made sense in the end. "I was looking forward to the good food, it wasn't a bad choice."

"I know, it was nice on the surface, but it just clashed too much in the end with what we want, just a quiet night out in a little corner store eatery that's a secret, that may have been better." She hummed a little. "To tell you the truth, I wasn't in much of an Italian mood to begin with since Mother's chef can't seem to every fall off that tangent, though I have to explicitly list regular pasta as what I want because of Sharon's attempt to limit my carbs, she's into that Atkins diet snake oil where you can eat everything but bread or starches and then watch your body break down slowly without sugars going in."

"Luke encourages healthy eating, but he'll never support that diet because sandwiches are his lifeblood. He actually said that Dr. Atkins probably has his days numbered because of that diet-induced heart attack he had earlier this year."

Once again, an impromptu debate sprang up out of nowhere, and Paris bit on my points. "I just find dieting crazy in general; the reason we have fat in the first place is to survive and stay warm in the winter, and to have something to leech off from in case you get into trouble in the forest and don't have a food source for a couple of weeks. Firming up your body is fine, but looking like a stick is less important than just eating right in the first place."

It was just then that I got an idea in my head of exactly what place would be perfect for us to have our first date meal. Paris didn't seem to care about weight, and as long as her food was kosher, away from her various food sensitivities, and conformed to dietary laws, she really wouldn't care what she ate. All we both wanted was the conversation really, the food was secondary to just having this opportunity away from the maddening crowd back down south to just be our usual smitten selves around each other.

I agreed with what she said about diets, and thanked the stars for my fast metabolism once again. Then I presented her with the idea. "Hey, how about we drive around and look for a good Chinese place? There has to be some good stuff around here somewhere."

"Chinese?" Paris was surprised by my suggestion. "You mean take-out food?"

"Exactly, except we'd be eating it in the place."

"But I've had bad experiences with ethnic food in the past," she reminded. "Last year with the Indian food when we studied at your house?"

"It would've been fine had you not gorged on the ice cream silly!" It was always nice to remind her of how much of an advantage she took that night, away from Sharon's diet dictatorship. She had a Lactaid, but a pint of cookie dough ice cream polished off in ten minutes for a beginner like her was too much and too fast for her, thus her throwing up late in the evening and needing a stop at the CVS before she left town. "You can't tell me you've never had Chinese food at all."

"My mom thinks monosodium glutamate is a dangerous chemical on par with napalm, despite studies to the contrary."

I shook my head and laughed; not only did I have to teach Paris the ways of love, but how to live as a modern girl who ate a sane food once in awhile. "It's a good beginner food, and it's healthy in moderation. We can talk and we won't be interrupted because we just name a number and a few minutes later we have a very nice meal."

"It's not even their real cuisine..." Paris tried to go traditionalist with her arguments against it, and I had to button her up before the idea was shot down.

"I know, but I don't care. It could be called Icelandic food and it still tastes great, does it matter where it came from really?"

"I suppose not." Paris looked down, and then back towards me. "I guess this week has been one for trying something new, be it romantic or culinary."

"Is that a yes then?" She nodded her head, and took the car keys out of her purse.

"Just let me do a websearch on my..." She was ready to take her web-enabled PDA out of her bag, but I took a hold of her wrist.

"We're not doing any more research tonight, tonight you are cut off from anything electronic, all your attention should be on me. Just stick to the main drags, eventually something will attract our fancy." I gave her a look of trust, and though leery, she left the restaurant choice right in my hands.

"Fine, but just remember you're paying for the Kaopectate if I get ill from a bad restaurant choice." Unlike her past threats, this one was buffered by a mischievous smile and a brush of her hand against mine.

"I think I can live with that." We smiled at each other, and headed for the parking garage again, ready to push reset on the date and hope for a better result.

We ended up going to Lady Sing's, a place across the river in West Springfield we finally decided on after a stop at a mini-mart for directions and a recommendation after finding the restaurants on the east bank in Springfield proper lacking. We thought it was clean enough, the menu was simple to understand for a Chinese beginner such as Paris, and most of all, it was quiet and very intimate. The dining room had just enough light to see, and the place did have some genuine food. I was glad we chose it in the end, and the workers there were very nice.

She went with a combination of chicken chow mein, rice and a couple of egg rolls, then I went with the Szechwan chicken dish and egg rolls myself. While we waited for the food, we fell into a natural conversation about school and such, along with our pasts, though not really specific stuff quite yet.

"I remember when I first saw you at Chilton and gave you that once-over, like 'why is this girl here', because you seemed so out of element, just this small town girl jumping in with the sharks and such at our school. You didn't seem like that big of a threat to begin with, and before I found your...I mean, about your past achievements in Stars Hollow, I thought you were a pushover."

I caught her pause, which seemed odd. "What did you find about me?" I asked. It suddenly did seem weird on our first meeting that she knew my full name, my hometown, and my aspirations for life. Paris shirked down, feeling she was caught with a dirty little secret.

"Nothing, I just saw you and thought immediately you were dead focused on journalism, I was playing a hunch," she said with a nervous voice.

"A very precise and concisely worded hunch where you knew I was from the Hollow and had a high GPA?" The details were coming back from memory, and she knew she was trapping herself into something she didn't expect. "We did share a class before you first got my attention but I didn't say anything besides 'I'm Lorelai Gilmore, but I prefer to be called Rory.' You were too focused to make it seem casual when you got my attention, saying you intend to be top of the class and editor of the Franklin."

She wiggled in her booth, her hands at the hemside of her skirt, and her confession just waiting to come out. It took an extra few seconds, but finally she told me why everything seemed so specific.

"Fine, I might have taken a peek at your transcripts before first period. I paid Maureen Ruschel $20 to sneak your file out the window and into my hands so I could get a quick scouting report of you."

"That senior in the office who did extra credit work for Miss James?" She nodded shamefully. "She gave you my file out the window and you looked at it?" She raised her hands in the air, feeling defensive.

"I had to know the situation; I didn't want to have to find out later that you were as smart as me, and well, I was curious! It's not everyday you see a small-town girl in Chilton and I just wanted to know why."

"So you read my transcript?" I smirked at her, the idea of her getting to know me at first through what my Stars Hollow teachers said hilarious. "Anything interesting at all in there, I didn't even get to look at them myself."

"I skimmed them, but nothing really came out besides your inclination towards being anti-social. Just some blather from a guidance counselor around seventh grade that you needed to fall more into the usual social groups, be it the populars, the jockettes, or the science club."

"That's it, really?" I would've expected more detail than that.

"I only had a three-minute look at it Gilmore, I got just enough to say my name and give you my mission statement when it came to you." She took a sip from her Diet Coke to clear her throat.

"And that was..." I inquired, curious and wondering what was in her head when she learned about me further. I expected more of a 'I will crush you and leave you in the dust' vibe with her first thoughts, the natural teen female instinct that turns girls from laughing together to being at each other's throats over a boy.

"I wanted to be a challenge to you." She said this firm and unwavering, which brought all my attention from part her/part kitchen door to all her. "I saw your records and felt my competitive drive pick up again; my last rival at Country Day back when I was an Eighther was cut down by substance abuse problems and a bad peer circle, and it hurt me to see him just give up after so much long work. I wanted to be mean, of course, but I wanted you to have the sense that yes, this was Chilton and there's no time for slacking in that environment. If that meant being cold and distant, that's how my demeanor had to come off. That, and I never thought you'd ever contemplate befriending me when I kept up the barbs." She looked down at her egg roll appetizer plate. "A friendship with you would be a distraction, break my focus. You would be nice to me and I couldn't take it that way because I've always been so defensive." Paris' voice softened, and I could tell she was starting to feel a little emotional.

"But being me, I couldn't really hate you, no matter what. You know I meant it when I said that I thought you were the nicest girl at Chilton because you paid attention to me."

"I believe that," she reassured. "It's strange, after awhile I did want your friendship, but I kept denying myself. When I found out about the kiss I felt nothing, and I thought it would be an easy way out to use the date with Tristan when I found out about the set-up to put a final note on everything. The feelings for you had started at the concert, a nagging tingle that I had noticed but didn't want to do anything about because you fit the girl next door guise well, no way would you be attracted to me, and I thought it was just a phase because my hormones had no strong focal point."

"Do you think you were attracted to me for lack of a better choice at Chilton?" I asked. "I never saw you fall for anyone else."

"I'd ask the same of you Gilmore, besides that flirtation you had with Jess, there hasn't been another man in the picture." She smiled and admitted that she was probably destined to be attracted to girls from the beginning. "I guess our solitary and studious existences eventually led us to both think 'I'd like her as more than a friend'; my male counterpart was Tristan and my friends were the antithesis of who I was, and my mother, not a good role model for love by any stretch."

"God no," I said, then stated aloud why I became attracted to Paris in the first place. "I can't really find a Eureka moment where I realized I was drawn more towards girls, but frustration and aggravation over Dean, the fact I felt no spark at all with Jess, my male-free raising and general disinterest in the opposite sex, it all came together to say 'Rory, you like girls, one girl in particular.' If it wasn't for Dean coming along before Chilton, I might still be in my study bubble and as clueless about relationships as possible. Sometimes I even think that if Dean hadn't come in at all, I may have found you attractive months before now."

"Wow," Paris said, "I'm flattered by that. I started thinking of you more in the aftermath of the concert, but Tristan was still going on, and back then we didn't really know each other as close as we are now. I'm glad all that stuff got in our way though, it just made the flame stronger, you know?"

I nodded in agreement. "I just keep thinking that if we had gotten together earlier, there wouldn't be a good foundation for much of anything. We had to learn to live with each other before we learned to like each other."

"That's a good way to think about it." We stared at each other dopily, my feelings for her swelled from the conversation. To think that in some way there's always been sexual tension between us, it made me think about how Paris was looking this evening, and how much she's changed from her sophomore year. It wasn't a sudden change, but it was gradual to see her go from the bulky and unflattering turtlenecks and body-hiding pants of the past, to seeing her sitting across from me tonight in a tight, yet conservative leather skirt which was paired with a deep maroon sweater with a low neck. Not a deep V-neck where I could make out her line of cleavage, but down enough that I could take in the dark skin she usually hid in the front, along with her Jewish star necklace. I let her know how pretty she was tonight because she looked so lovely.

"Uh, thank you. I just figured that you liked me in the dress I wore when I dated Jamie, and that somehow you were choosing not only for him or I, but for you. I tried to think of that when I picked out the outfit this afternoon, which wasn't easy as you could tell." She crossed her legs together, puckering her lips together to renew her gloss.

"You did nicely Par." I appraised her once again, her elegant and bared neck giving me this nagging idea of showing her just how much I appreciated her dress and the way she looked. That beauty mark on the left side, I thought, the dark and apparent spot always a place my eyes wandered when I gazed at Paris longingly. It would certainly be nice to leave a bite there, small that it's not noticed, but something that would make her moan...She looked so elegant, and here I was in a dinner dress that I got at Dress Barn and hoped Grandma would regard from a higher label or A&F. I felt sort of out of place...

"So did you. You must realize how cute you look to me right now Gilmore." She got my attention by sliding towards the table. "You don't have a lot, but Lorelai does the best with what she has. That dress really does bring out your eyes so much, along with the earrings," she pointed out my simple pearl studs resting within my lobes. "It's so simple, what you're wearing, but to me, it's beautiful." I felt goosebumps, the compliment of what I chose getting to me in the best way possible.

It was also the first date dress compliment I've had in three months since my first date with Dean back from Washington, so it was so much more powerful than intended. Paris knows how hard I worked to get ready because she goes through it too, and it warms my heart that it worked out so well. I sniffled, feeling a cry ensuing but holding it back because God, that would be embarrassing!

Still, I thanked her, and we spent the next ten minutes before our food was brought out just talking about how she got her name. It was a good story; a secret dig at Sharon from Paris' father because she was hoping for a boy and didn't get one, and he thought the name showed off a certain strength that he saw when Paris started kicking at Sharon's stomach pretty hard in her sixth month of pregnancy. He was also reminded of a sunset he had seen when he was on a vacation in the French capital city in his college years; the shade of her eyes when she was born reminded him of it and the color of the skyline during that evening, thus the name Paris.

"Thank God, I thought your mother was just nuts and trying to out-crazy Kathy Hilton!" I said, the other story I had in mind being her named after Paris Hilton. She shook her head, reassuring me that wasn't how she got her name.

"I will defend to my death that my name wasn't from that famewhore in any way, shape or form." We both laughed, and then she turned the question towards me. "What I've always wondered is how do you get 'Rory' out of 'Lorelai Leigh'? Since that first day I've been trying to figure it out, but I was always afraid to ask how you get that name." She felt embarrassed for asking what seemed to be a 'dumb' question. "I know it's a nickname, but it's a male name."

"OK. So, Lorelai was disappointed and thought I was going to be a boy..." I smiled at her, and she rolled her eyes.

"Gilmore. If it's something like my doctor-playing tale I won't tell anyone about it, promise."

"It's not that bad, but it is kind of a story I don't tell that often." Which was the truth; I haven't even told Grandma or Grandpa how Lorelai III ended up to be Rory. But I was talking to girl with an odd name herself, so we already shared a kinship that way, thus I could trust her. "Just don't share this with anyone and we'll be fine."

"Alright, tell me this classic tale of your name then."

"Well it starts out when I was around 22 months and just really learning how to talk. You'd imagine that my name would be quite a mouthful, and no matter what, I couldn't say it right at all. Six months later I had progressed from 'O-why' as the way I said it, to 'O-E-I'. Suffice to say my L's and R's weren't coming out all that well, and though I could say words like 'cat' or 'wash' well, everything with an L or an R came out without the proper letter pronunciation."

"Must've made it hard to say left and right."

"I knew sense of direction, just not how to express it." I watched Paris eat with some trepidation as I went on. "Mom decided to tackle my R's first because that was the harder of the letters. Her thinking was that L would be a piece of cake and it wouldn't take long, so I was taught R's first. Took me a couple months to perfect it, but eventually I got it, and when I turned three, I could almost sort of say my name. Without more L drills though, I left off the two L's in my name and substituted the first L with a R instead so I could get the full name out, and made the second silent. Thus..." I pointed at her so she could try to say it herself.

"You would say it, 'Row-E-I'." She pronounced it clearly, but not the exact way I would have at three.

"Correct, but add more 'W' to that first syllable." I continued on, trying to add flourishes to the story when I could. "It started off innocently and I was just saying it through the inn, so not everyone remembered it entirely well. Mom would try to get me to say the L's in my name, but it just wasn't coming. Then I got into ballet class." I remembered the first roll call Miss Patty did, just barely. "Patty asked what my name was, and I told her Row-E-I. Some of the girls asked what kind of name is that and a few actually said it was a stupid name."

"So they made fun of you." I shook my head.

"Laughed at me, and thus started my lifelong hate of most of the girls in Stars Hollow. I tried my best to start to say my name correctly, but it wasn't working, it would come out that way no matter what and the teasing would continue. I was just so frustrated, and I spent the year just trying to get the damn L's in my name out. Still, they weren't coming out in any clear way."

I started to get into how I started to grow to like the name. "After awhile the other girls in class just started calling me 'Rory' out of habit, and at first it made me cringe so much because that wasn't my name. I'd correct them, but sound like a fool doing it, so after a couple of more weeks I gave up completely because it did have a nice ring to it and hey, I was three, who knew that it was a guy's name?" Thinking back to that early version of myself looking like fool in a pink tutu and tights made me wistful for those simple days again.

Paris seemed entranced by my story as I let her know how Mom found out about my second name, when Miss Patty accidentally let it slip from her mouth because she was herself starting to call me by that because I responded better to that than Lorelai. At first she was puzzled as to why it had been not only shortened, but then accepted by me as a different way to say it. Eventually by the time my 4th birthday rolled around though, Rory had basically become my de-facto nickname because it was easier to say and saved everyone the pain of a mispronunciation of Lorelai and the confusion of calling out the wrong girl, and since my kindergarten class had two Laurie's in there, I didn't have to become 'Lori G.' on my cubbyhole. I couldn't really explain it more clearly; it was just a way to shorten my name easily that came out of my voice at the time, and all these years later still sticks to me, and I don't mind a bit.

She was astonished by my memory of how the name came about, along with the detail of the story. It felt good to be in the weird name club with my girlfriend, and the conversation about that helped us ease into dinner with very little tension between us at all. You wouldn't have thought Paris as a good date from the outside, but I was glad she was a very light dater, thus there were no expectations about how she would be in this kind of situation.

The plates finally came, and the food just looked delicious and smelled wonderful. A centerpiece of fortune cookies and both of us across from each other with empty tummies unfilled from that jerky stop at DeVecchio's earlier, we were salivating over it as the hostess told us to enjoy our meals.

However, one thing I forgot about Paris' first visit to a Chinese restaurant, was her inexperience with using Chinese eating implements. It was genuine in that regard, with a wax paper package holding two chopsticks at the right of our table settings, with the usual fork/knife/spoon combo wrapped in a napkin. She decided to try to eat the meal for herself with those chopsticks, thinking she would immediately take to the implements like I was doing so easily.

Easier said than done however; Paris would take a chunk of chicken and noodles into the sticks, but didn't grip it just right. By the time she put it to her mouth, it was back on her plate but for the noodles she winded around the sticks like spaghetti on a fork.

I worked on my food fine, but she kept having problems. "I can do this," she said to me with a look as I laughed a little when she decided to grip the food lower than usual to get it into her mouth. Still no luck, and when I was 1/4 through my meal, she was still stuck at the beginning but for a few noodles and some vegetable and chicken chunks.

She didn't give up, not paying any attention to her easier Western utensils and trying to work the sticks so that she would eat something. Her aggravation was picking up, and when I told her I wouldn't be hurt, nor would the restaurant if she cast aside the chopsticks, she told me was going to do it anyways.

Finally, she seemed to give up when she used one stick to stab a chunk of chicken, and then wrap noodles around it. She was definitely frustrated, and though it was cute seeing Hartford's smartest young woman struggling with eating implements (and I have to admit, a little...aw heck, it was laugh-out loud hilarious), she wasn't going to learn to eat them by just eyeballing my hands and taking her cues from that. Obviously I had to help her out.

"Alright, move over, I'll teach you how to use them," I said, getting up from my seat.

"Rory, I don't really need any help..." she tried to argue, but I stopped her before she could say anymore.

"You will if you want to eat without the fork. It's not that hard, you just have to get the hang of it."

I pushed into the booth at her right, having her scoot over so I would have unimpeded access to her hands and be able to demonstrate with mine. I smiled at her as she handed me the chopsticks with annoyance apparent in her features because she couldn't eat them right.

Since I was right handed, I tried as best I could to demonstrate using my left hand. "OK, spread out your fingers, like this, while holding them both in the gap between the thumb and your index finger."

"OK," she said, looking at my fingers then at her hand as she tried to replicate how to hold the sticks correctly. She couldn't get the hang of it, gripping the middle instead of towards the top. "Like this?"

"Not quite, higher than that." I told her to think of an imaginary line starting at bottom of the line of Cantonese characters that ran down each of the sticks. After a bit of finger flailing, she got the positioning right. "That's better."

"So how I do I eat this food without it slipping off?"

"You force the strength down from your hands and into the sticks," I lectured, trying to make the way to describe it simple. "Just think of your thumb as the spring mechanism that holds a clothespin shut, you add tension as you open it to pick up food, then snap it shut as you grab it and bring the bite towards your mouth." Paris tried her best to apply this easy description of eating, pushing around a pile of noodles, chicken and vegetables into a mound and trying to pick up at least a little off the food. She closed around the food nice, but it all fell down to the plate again when she started to bring it up to her mouth.

She shook her head and felt defeated. "I'm doing something wrong here," she convinced herself. "I shouldn't be missing a step, I have a well-functioning brain and excellent motor skills. You know, I memorized my cable and TiVo remotes in mere minutes down to the secret codes you have to dig for on the TiVo community websites and program in so you can skip all the ad blocks. Surely I can master the fine art of Americanized Chinese eating." The dig at the food we were eating made me smile, and the comfort of a Paris rant making this dinner just that much more fun.

I laughed, and took in her look as she tried to communicate 'help me please' silently through her gestures. We were sitting right next to each other in the booth, and it was then I realized what I could do to help her figure this conundrum out. I scooted closer and opened up my hands.

"I guess I can't describe it that well," I admitted, shrugging my shoulders and getting within Paris' demarcated personal space. "But I could show you, that is if you don't mind."

She looked at me funny, and I could swear I heard a sniff from her nose as the scent of the cheap Walgreens imitation of that expensive vanilla perfume and the strawberry lip gloss I wore along my neck and on my lips was within her reach. She raked me over as I scooted even closer, so much that she was against the divider panel at the side of the booth. I found myself starting to think that this help might turn into something else...

"Sure, can't do any worse than I did."

"Cool, now give me your hands," I commanded, something that surprised her. Those deep eyes of hers widened, and she seemed curious as to what I was up to.

"I can't just watch you?" she asked, her voice laced with worry.

I shook my head to negate her response. "You watched me and it didn't work, so thus, I'll demonstrate by working your hands into the correct chopsticking position." I wasn't going to give on this until she knew how to eat properly.

She rolled her eyes and heaved out a sigh, yet she set her sticks down at plateside and spread her hands out on the table. "I swear if this doesn't work I'll eat all this with a knife and fork. Remember, we have a movie starting at nine."

"Alright Armitron," I commented as she narrowed her eyes and watched me bring the sticks into the correct eating position, trying to get them just right so I could transfer them into Paris' hands in the position they were in. "See where my fingers are?" I asked. Paris nods, and I push a little closer to her. "I want you to memorize that, okay, because in a few moments I'm going to help you position your hands the way mine are."

"Sure." I had her set her fingers out in the front to spread them and positioned them where they needed to be. It was at this point I saw that her nails, which usually went unpolished and were grown out a just a little, had a slim covering of clear polish on each of them. Focus on the task at hand, I nagged at myself, her slim hands looking so alluring.

I released my grip on the sticks and stuck them each between her middle and index fingers, accidentally brushing the heels of my hands against the top of her fingers. My eyes drifted towards hers, and I saw her shudder when I brushed, her eyes enchanted from it and sparks of electricity exchanging from that one simple action. I felt myself pause for a bit, taking a look at my surroundings in the dim light of the restaurant. We were far away from the kitchen, and with only seven other customers, they were spread out, leaving Paris and I in a cone of intimacy.

She contorted her hands once again, but her pinkies were out of alignment. Again, I had to go in and help her back into position. Her frustration was becoming obvious.

"If I don't get this in two minutes, I'm going to eat with a fork," she declared. I reached over with my left arm to better maneuver her hand on that side. I planned the move as completely asexual, not to do anything at all.

Around her waist I went, and before I knew it, I was accidentally brushing a couple of fingers across the swell of her breast. My red alert went off immediately as Paris startled from the sudden and foreign contact. She shrieked and my eyes quickly drifted from her hands and up to her face, where her mouth formed into a wide 'O' of surprise, and her forehead wrinkled up.

"Rory!!" she yelled out softly, trying to hide the excitement she felt from the brush behind a harsh tone of voice. Completely accidental, completely accidental, try to brush it off as an accident. My mind immediately memorized the feel of thick cashmere against soft skin, and all I was doing to kill the abrupt sexual reaction I felt from the touch wasn't enough to make my inner vixen make a declaration.

I told you they were soft, don't I plant a great mental picture? Shit, I didn't need to hear that little voice in my head trying to turn innocent actions into a passionate reaction from my routine action! I bursted out a quick "I'm sorry!!" to kill the mood, reaching for Paris' hands to help her with the chopstick.

I heard her breath deepen, and her face flushed as she found her attention drifting away from the chopstick lesson. Wrapping my arm around her wasn't helping matters at all, because in that position near my elbow my arm was now brushing against the side of her chest. Her lower lip was quivering and her gaze lowered towards mine, the closeness of the situation amplifying our individual perfumes further than intended. Paris smells really nice, my mind relayed, stating the obvious.

Fighting the urge, I wanted to just move away from her because all my senses were on high alert. Here I was in a little hole-in-the-wall Chinese place with Paris and I wanted her badly. All because she can't use a damned set of chopsticks!

Her hand brushed against mine, and before I could realized what was happening, both sticks dropped out of her hands and onto the table. She then turned in her seat to face me, in the process separating the grip on her hand in mine, and causing that hand to again brush up against her breast. Instead of seeming frustrated, the look she gave towards me was of the persuasion that she didn't really care about chopsticks anymore.

"What are you doing--" I asked, but was cut off by a soft millisecond impact of her lips skimming against mine. She finished bringing herself out of the teaching position and faced towards me, bringing her hands back into mine.

"Some things just can't be taught, nor can they be learned. They just come naturally." Her even voice was a hush as she ran her hands up the lower half of my arms, and then along the side of my body. "When it comes to stick, I'm screwed; it has to be automatic for me to make it work." Her long fingers hook around the cotton material of my dress, and my mind needs a few more seconds of processing for my brain to get it. I stare at her like I'm the dumbest girl in the world before the solution to the reference comes into my head. God, only she would connect an eating utensil to that usual female comparison many a lesbian has encountered.

"My mom has the Jeep, so I had to learn stick." I said, trying to create conversation. "I hate it though, it's so hard." Damn it, another unintended entendre, she comes closer, her ankle right against mine...

"Way too intimidating, not so elegant." Closer, there's barely any room between us in this small box anymore....

"Tough to work with..." I crookedly smile, the flirting hotter than it was even during our drunkest Thursday night.

"Complicated and never dependable." There's Dean and Tristan in simple words, ladies and gentlemen. My eyesight wandered down, the closeness, and in my view, her necklace dangled like an arrow pointing down at her hidden décolletage, my squinting surmising that her breasts were cupped in satiny pink lace several inches down which was obscured by her sweater. The hypothetical salty taste of the skin along her sternum and into the plunge implanted within once again...

"Too simple and complex at the same time," I finished off as she gave me her own appraisal, taking long seconds to get a feel for my body.

"I'm finishing with a fork and knife."

"Go ahead." She smirked.

"My chopsticks obviously had performance issues."

"Maybe they need chopstick Viagra." She softly giggled in that nervous way that to me sounds as sexy as a moan.

"Maybe I don't give a fuck." Paris slides her fingers against the bottom of my bra line, bringing herself closer. "I'm hungry for this..." she wandered herself off, her lips looking as kissable to me as mine were to her.

My response was soft as could be and drowned out as we started a torrid kiss with each other. "Starving..." We came together, and before I knew it, for the first time in a public venue, I was kissing my girlfriend and unwilling to hide it from any eyes. Instead of the soft kisses we've shared so far though, this one was more demanding; this was her kiss to lead. She brought her hands higher and me as flush to her in that sitting position as I could get, our teeth nipping at lips, eyes closed, my hands pushed against the divider for leverage.

Not for long however, because she decided to take the next adventurous step a minute into the deep slow kiss. Her tongue experimentally played against one side of my mouth along the ridge, causing me to moan from the flitting. Too soon, my reasonable self cautioned, the implications of everything floating within. But I couldn't deny how good it felt when she pushed in a little further, the tip of her tongue meeting my relaxed one in the middle.

I couldn't disappoint her, or myself, I knew how long I wanted this. I pushed my hands off from the divider, causing myself to lose balance and us to fall deeper into the booth with my hands entangling within her hair. I knew where I was, exactly how it looked, where it could possibly lead...but I didn't care. She matches my wits, and my heart, I thought as the kissing became more aggressive. The sound was more audible than our softer kisses, the mix of the taste of pan-fried vegetables and oils mixing with our own, all I was concerned with was making Paris know that her ideas of romance were awesome, spot-on, and after that, just indescribable.

We were both lost within, reclined in the booth, lost in each other. Right there I was ready to shove off the food, screw the movie, and race for a hotel room or isolated site somewhere off the road. I was so close that I found my hand drifting further until it was at the hem of that leather skirt, with her own hand at my knee. French kissing in a Chinese restaurant; somehow I think the Model UN at Chilton would be impressed with our efforts to combine different nations in something so racy!

Fate cursed us however as our hostess came upon the scene and tapped me on the back, startling me. I shrieked from the touch, as both of us put on that 'hand in the cookie jar' look on our faces, the realization of where we first French kissed hitting us.

"Ladies, how is the food?" she asked in a friendly way. What, no 'the police have been called, you're both being charged with public indecency'? My dress was all wrinkled as both Paris and I gathered ourselves back together.

"Oh, it's good," I said truthfully, trying to get back to normal, "best I've had in months."

"And you?" the friendly Asian girl asked Paris, who found her necklace wrapped twice around her neck, and a naked bra strap exposed from our necking that she was pushing back below her sweater and out of view.

She blotted her lips in the napkin, then spoke. "Delicious, can't use the chopsticks though. See, she was teaching me and we just couldn't do it, and well one thing led to another, a hand here, another there, an ankle somewhere else..." Paris's ramblings were held up by our server holding her hand in the stop position.

"Don't worry about it, happens all the time whether opposite or same sex, you're not the first two I've seen like that." She smiled knowingly. "Joe in front told me you came from DeVek's; the way you two looked, the dots were connected. I didn't see anything, honestly." She winked at both of us, a wave of relief for being caught coming over the table. "Let me know when you need the check." She walked away, and before the temptation came back I moved back to side of the booth, the scent of Paris still stuck in my nostrils as she watched me from the moment I got up until I sat down. Panting and recovering her breath, she looked at me, her face a deep red color and her demeanor relaxed despite being caught kissing another girl.

"That was....that was...that was really, really good." She looked so adorable, smiling widely, the thrill and adrenaline rushing through her so much. "Wow, what have I been missing here? It's just a kiss, a nice regular Hollywood screen kiss, how could it feel that good?"

"Unresolved sexual tension," I said, the theory of many a work of fiction the most appropriate answer. "You bottle it up for so long and it just builds up like that within. And boy howdy do I have to say you must have a water tower full of the stuff, you sure that was you?!" I got back to eating, as she started to tackle her chow mein with a regular knife and fork.

"I could say the same of you Ror, geeze. So much for all work, no play for us, eh?" I shook my head, realizing that all of our tension was being released in small and sensual torrents.

"I guess not." We smiled at each other one last time before getting to the matter of filling our stomachs with wonderful food once again. Eating the Western way was much easier for Paris, and she awed at all the various tastes she had on her plate, along with the fillings in her egg rolls, mixed with beef or chicken (no pork obviously). Her moans of approval at the food were amazing to watch, and to see this side of Paris that was new, probably even to her, was a sight to behind. The relaxed surroundings made things that much better as we both talked about letters to the editor Paris has received since Friday afternoon, which mostly consisted of 'you were great' or 'worst editor ever, a pox on your house' missives which made her want to work harder to make the paper better, and laugh at the notion she couldn't please everybody, especially Charleston. She thought the day he'd like the paper would be the day he died, but before he did he'd still criticize her student-favorable viewpoint on one thing or another.

The time passed quickly for the meal, and the food on the plates disappeared, leaving only that fortune cookie centerpiece in the middle. Both of us looked at the plate, knowing a Chinese meal wasn't just that without cracking it open and unfolding the line of paper contained for the words of wisdom and the lucky numbers.

Paris took a corner of her napkin and wiped her mouth, looking down at the middle plate, then glanced back at me. "We only have a few minutes to make it to the movie, so we better hurry up."

"A few minutes to make the Fantanas commercial, a trailer for the new Jennifer Lopez bomb, the pitch to buy AMC gift certificates and finally being belittled like an idiot to shut off our cell phones? Slow down, we'll make the movie," I reassured her, taking my cookie from the plate and then shoving it towards her. "Now take one from the plate and tell me what it says."

"I should tell you I'm one who sticks around for the credits after the ending of a film," she notes. "Those behind the scenes work hard for any recognition and their due should be respected by reading their names."

"Gives me more time with you then," I said, a sparkle in my eye, as I gave her a flirtatious smile.

"Sure, Miss 'Pro - Watching Paris take her time with something drives me crazy', any excuse for you, eh?" She cracked open her cookie and unfurled the fortune scrap out from each part, bringing it close so she could read the small red text. Softly, she read the text contained;

A thorn defends the rose, harming only those who would steal the blossom. Keep your thorns, but be sure to put them to use only in the right situation. Be gentle with your love; fiercely defend what you believe is right, but withhold the thorns from your love.

I listened to her state the fortune, and felt a lump form in my throat. I had fortune cookies before, but usually the fortunes were cast aside or I laughed them off because what was said in them would never match up with anything Dean would say or do. But hearing Paris say this, and hear her voice crack towards the call to 'be gentle', it really got to her too. Her eyes just widened, her voice softened, and by the last few words she was saying them and truly meaning them. It gave me a flashback to her attempt at intimidation before the Shakespeare exam way back when, with a practiced and exact recitation of the 116th Sonnet behind me as I sat on a bench. When she recites something, her heart is in it, and to hear her cultured voice turn what seemed like a rote fortune into something like that just touched at the right place in my heart.

It also seemed to touch her too. "This cookie had to be created for me." Her lip quivered as she reread the truest words about her that had ever been created. I would've never come up with the analogy by my own doing, but truly she was that beautiful rose, insulated by all those thorns she built up through the years to defend the blossom few know she has. Excepting Mom, Paris is the strongest girl that I know, and that she is dropping the thorns so I can become a part of her world is something that I've only begun to treasure.

She turned her face away from my direction for a moment, the reason I thought was to catch a tear that was forming in her eye. "I know this was mechanically produced down an assembly line, but is it wrong that I want to slip it into my coin purse and keep it?"

I shook my head. "If you feel that it's true you should keep what it says close to your sleeve. I know those words did something to me." I rolled my cookie around in my hand, nervous as to what it said.

"I will then." She does just what she says, taking a contemplative beat before she put the fortune scrap in her coin purse, just like she said. She folded it up carefully and slid it in. "So, what does yours say Gilmore?"

"Hopefully not 'You'll meet a tall and handsome man'," I joked as I split it open. Paris looked at me lovingly from across the table as I set the two halves to my side, staring at the distant red Helvetica writing, then bringing it closer to me so I could read it to myself.

My throat hitched as I read the words to myself in my head. OK, there has to be some kind of weird bonding thing that happened between this pallet of fortune cookies and the minds of the people who opens them, because again the words seemed to connect to me as strongly as Paris'. Obviously this wasn't meant for me, I thought. This was supposed to go to a guy, not for me to open and have as my fortune.

"So, what does it say?" Paris breaks me out of the spell of the words, and I look up startled at her.

"Nothing about a man, that's for sure." I gave her a funny smile, and slipped the sheet between my thumb and forefinger to read it. This is what it said, and I tried to keep my voice as steady as possible as I comprehended it aloud;

Fortune favors the brave. Be steady and strong with your emotions, not too forceful, but appear certain in your choices and all will be well.

I said it strongly, meaning all of the words I said. Lately I had felt brave, trying to prove to myself that what I was doing with Paris was right. I felt myself swell at the sentence, surprised at how strong those words were. I reeled back, trying to contain the shock at what they said.

"Ror, you OK?" Paris asked, her concern evident.

"Yeah, I'm fine, just these fortune cookies hit so close to home, you know?" I ran a couple of fingers through my hair trying to keep my gaze on her. "Usually it's nonsense when Mom and I get takeout from the place in Stars Hollow, usually something that totally doesn't make sense or is satirical. Our fortunes here, totally different story."

She floated a theory to humanize everything and mute how on-target the fortunes were. But from her voice even she seemed to not believe what she thought. "It's probably nothing, they probably have several boxes in back divided by age and interest. You know, the kids get something cute and non-specific, teenagers get the Bazooka Joe satirical phrases, seniors get fortunes that assure them they won't be kicking off quite yet. That leaves the lover's box, which they obviously yanked a few out of and put on our plate."

"Are we really that obvious?" I had to ask. "We never said to the hostess up front we were a couple in the first place."

"But we're dressed as if we're on a date, and if you notice, there are four cookies on the plate. Probably thought our non-existent boyfriends were on the way later and then only after we ordered our numbers was when they realized that there were no men in the picture."

"We certainly cleared that up twenty minutes ago, didn't we?" Shyly smiling, I made her blush as I remind her of the torrid kiss we brought ourselves into just that long ago. She nodded her head, bringing her hand to the check plate and lifted up the slip of paper that had our order and total on it. She looked at it, and the price of all of this company and food made her happy.

"I'm certainly glad that Italian restaurant wasn't very cooperative, $44 in all for our food and drinks." She handed me the bill, and the price made me smile. "The food was definitely worth every penny."

"And the company?" I hooded my eyes and husked my voice down a little. She squirmed as I handed her eleven dollars from my purse for my part of the tip, which at $22 combined would make our hostess very happy.

"Priceless, of course." She smiled and brushed my hand as she took the money and put it on the plate. "This meal also showed me that my mother's dietician is way too fucking paranoid, this will be the last time I listen to him because this is one of the best meals I've had going out in a long time."

"What was the last best meal?" I asked, gathering my jacket up and getting ready to slide out of my booth.

"First all-A report card, 1991 at this buffet restaurant in Southington with a ball pit and all the childhood trappings. Daddy and Fran snuck me out to celebrate with Louise while Mother was at a Daughters of the Civil War meeting, and we all got yelled at pretty bad when she found out. After that it was all those fancy restaurants I loathe so much and had to wear a starched dress to, and always the same thing, escargot. There's a reason fast food is so good, it's there in an instant. Snails, which are slow, do not make a good food." She wrinkled her nose, and I felt bad that she had to torture herself through meals with that on the plate. She got up, and we met in the middle, both of our hands extended to each other.

"Totally agreed." I smiled at her; part one of the date was a smashing success to the both of us. "Shall we head to the theater to take in the picture show?" She shook her head, and I still think at times she thinks of me as just a little bit crazy. She'd be right, just look at my mother and the genes I inherited from her.

"Let's get going Ror." We headed to the cashier's stand to pay, both of us surprised that the date was going so well so far after what should have been an insurmountable setback. Could the night get any better than it did at this point?

"Do you know what we're seeing?" I was in line with Paris waiting for her to buy our tickets to the movie at the West Springfield 15 movie-plex. Sure it didn't have the intimacy of the bookstore during one of their classic movie screenings, and it certainly didn't have the old charm of Stars Hollow's main movie theater, the Classica. However it would still do, as Paris assured me that the movie didn't have the crowds Harry Potter did, but it was far from as bad as I Spy. Good thing too, because if I wanted to watch a TV show, I'd watch the actual TV show, not the asinine movie of now it was based on. You figure Eight is Enough as a gross sex comedy isn't that far off in the future. Yeah, Dick Van Patten can stick to hosting poker tournaments, thank you very much.

We kept ourselves separate in the line, not wanting to attract any attention, to just keep appearances as two girls having a night out. It was working so far, though Paris was being coy about what she was setting her $16 down for us to see.

"I know," she said, smirking. "I just don't want you to make a rash decision and ask to see another film that would ruin our closeness for the night."

"I guess that's fair," I said, the line finally getting to our point, putting us in the front. The ticket cashier is one of those disassociated girls with the heavy black plastic-framed glasses weighing down on her nose, jet black hair, and looking out of place in her ushering uniform with her pierced nose and eyebrow.

"Two for Femme please," Paris rushes out, the better to keep her movie choice as private as can be. Ticket Girl looks at the both of us, and seems to gape at us to determine if we're old enough to see this movie. Paris assured her quickly. "I'm seventeen, she's eighteen, you need any identification?"

"Won't be necessary," Ticket Girl groans out disaffected. "Let me guess, you two get your rocks off to Uncle Jesse's wife?"

Huh?! What on earth was she talking about? I had no clue, except from the movie title why she would mention this 'Uncle Jesse's wife' girl.

Paris rolled her eyes highly, trying to brush off the sort-of Goth's inquiry. "No, we're seeing it for the plot."

"Sure you are," Ticket Girl squeaks out sarcastically. "The girls who see this alone swoon over Antonio Banderas, men just for the spying and explosions, and girls like you...well I'd spoil plot points so I won't go there." The tickets pop out from the printing machine, and she hands them to Paris. "Theater 13, small stadium auditorium. Have fun, but not too much." Ticket Girl's voice is tinged with mischief and Paris holds her tongue until we get past the ticket-taker.

"Does everyone know that we're together? Is there a gaydar dead spot around Hartford, but it's nice and strong up north here?" Her questions of how and why puzzled me too, we really didn't look that close looking from a third person view. We were closer than two 'regular' girls, but not too close.

"I'm not sure," I said, wanting my other two questions answered. "So Femmeand Uncle Jesse's wife, how do they connect together? I still don't know which movie we're seeing."

She fumbled for her credit card for the concession stand as she finally clued me in to the movie of the night. "We're seeing Femme Fatale with Rebecca Romijn-Stamos and Antonio Banderas. I read that it was a romantic thriller in the movie reviews and it sounded like a good choice. That, and your train-wreck attraction to bad acting from a someone such as a supermodel guarantees that if the movie isn't that good you'll still be able to get some mocking pleasure from it."

I perked up; obviously Paris has been paying attention to what I liked and what I didn't. "Really, you'd let me mock?" I asked wide-eyed.

"It's a 2 1/2 star movie, the plot could go either way." She kept looking in her purse as we approached the concession stand, and I decided to make a snap decision.

"Thank you, just for that I'll pay for the snacks." I smiled at her, and she seemed to be shocked by my generosity.

"No, you don't have to, really." She argued back, but I stopped her as I slipped a $20 bill out of my wallet.

"Paris, you've already gone above and beyond everything tonight, so let me do this." I pleaded with her to let me pay, and after some argument, she relented.

I ordered a large tub of popcorn with the largest Diet Pepsi they offered, a box of Dots, and then a cup of water for myself. Paris tried to take back the order, saying she couldn't drink that much soda. Obviously she still hasn't figured out some of those romantic cues and I have to show her why I ordered the snacks this way.

She took the popcorn and Dots, while I took the cups as we head towards the corridor into the back section of the theater. Just near the bathroom and the water fountain, I stop her, and then put the soda down on the fountain, take off the cap on the water cup, and dump the contents into the fountain drain. Paris looked towards me, confused to my actions.

"Was the water not good enough?" she asked.

I shook my head, and smiled. "Remember reading the Archie comics, the really, really old ones where they were set in the 50's, where Archie and either Betty or Veronica were across from him at a booth in Pop's malt shop?"

She shook her head and rolled her eyes. "Do I look like I sympathize with Betty or Veronica and their struggles to bed some checkerboard redhead in a sweater vest?"

"Ooooh yeah." I forgot who I was talking to there, had to class up the reference a little. "OK, take the malt shop setting and change it into a Saturday Evening Post cover. Man across, woman on the other side. And in the middle--"

Finally, she gets the hint. "A malted with two straws sticking out of it." She bites her lip, thinks a bit, and finally comes to my modern-day solution. "So that's why you ordered the bucket-sized Diet Pepsi, you want to share it with me." I nodded. "I should've known after you grabbed only two straws instead of one."

"Am I that distracting?" I joked, smirking at her as I threw the water cup into the trash. "I mean, if you don't mind, we can go back to the counter--"

She ran a couple fingers through her ponytail and smiled at me. "No, don't. Just call me the dating virgin who has no idea what she's doing." She looked down, and I took her hand as we walked towards our theater.

"I wouldn't say a dating virgin," I assured, "you're just trying to get used to dating someone you're actually interested in."

"True," she said, then sighed as if to gird herself up for the next two hours. "I better have a good film intuition, this is my first time ever choosing for myself. The obligation dates always chose for me, and I now know more about Rob Schneider than I ever cared to beyond his SNL repertoire."

I slipped my hand into hers, as we looked up at the sign above Theater 13, the chasing lights around the mini-marquee signifying that we were in front of the theater. This was definitely the true test of the night, trying to see if we could live through almost two hours of silence and longing glances, building up the temptation to do those classic 'movie date' actions like the arm over the shoulder, leg against leg, the caress inside the popcorn tub.

All things that annoyed me with Dean, but with Paris...got me prepared for an interesting night.

I made it clear that her movie choice wouldn't be bad at all, and we walked into the theater thinking with the crowd in front there would be a problem getting a seat. Not that it was a problem with Femme Fatale, because there were only 19 people combined in the theater, and all of them were seated in the front, some in groups and some alone. Paris and I claimed the perfect seats towards the back, right in the middle and with seven rows between us and the next person. I sat to her right ("The ADA ramp on my side is faster than the steps, and it's my dominant side" she claimed, just in case she drank a little too much soda and had to make a ladies room run), and the seats were nice and comfy. They reclined, though the armrest was fixed and wouldn't go up, so one of us getting bored and napping in the other's lap was not to be.

Thankfully the movie theater we went to was in a different chain than the ones down in Connecticut, so we only had to sit through three brainless trailers, no Fantanas and one pitch to order Comcast internet service. After that, it was straight to the feature presentation.

Which was to say the least...very interesting. I didn't hear that much about the movie, much less the plot since I pay no attention to the Hollywood gossip shows, so I went in uninformed beyond the fact it was a spy thriller. Leave it to Paris to eschew the usual romantic comedy stereotypical part of the date.

The movie started out pretty dull; your average start to one of those movies you see late at 3am on a little independent station. Party setting, the predator following the prey, that kind of thing. The prey, a woman had on some expensive jewelry that this evil character was trying to get...

Hold on, I thought as I saw the character being played by Rebecca Romijn-Stamos acting like this predator. Uh-uh, this wasn't happening, she wasn't whispering to this woman that she was interested in her as just a ruse to get her diamonds and gold.

The plan moved slowly at first, and I took a handful of popcorn from the tub, distracted by the events on the screen. Our spy and the other girl head into the bathroom, and I try my best to assume it's just a session where they freshen up or try to boast about the lead male's penis size or something just as brainless. It could also be the old fallback, trap the innocent in a stall and make off with the goodies with a gun to her head.

If only it were that simple; in moments I learn why the spy gets this girl in the bathroom; she wants not only the material gratification, but the sexual kind as well. The two ladies kiss, and I shriek as I realize why exactly the movie has not only an R rating, but such an appropo title as Femme Fatale.

"Jesus!" I shriek out as they move into the stall and start making out, body against body, the two lithe actresses getting very into their imaginary roles. People look back towards the row Paris and I share, and I shirk into my seat as those eyes direct at me for ruining the mood of the scene. Paris takes the hand I have buried in the popcorn and grips it at the wrist, bringing her eyes towards me.

"I didn't expect that to happen," she claims. "The reviews said there were some sexual situations, they didn't allude to exactly what." Her voice is a hushed whisper as I watch the scene unfold and this spy claims the jewels from the girl through the distraction of the passion. I'm watching this all go down, and realizing a big thing...I usually avoided any movie with a girl kissing a girl like the plague, besides the few movies I accidentally caught on a channel surf like Bound and the like. My only experience with female/female sexuality was the occasional Ally McBeal episode, but David E. Kelley isn't exactly an expert on Sapphic relations because those situations were created more for comedy than reality.

So there I was, a lesbian on her first date with her girlfriend, who had only imagined herself with another girl in dreams. Not from any outside force, just the barest of imaginations and the occasional brush against it in my books. I liked Paris romantically from very few outside forces and just the idea that I loved the concept of having a romantic relationship with her.

I was watching this almost-sex scene on screen, and my reaction to a supermodel kissing another woman...it was so different from any reaction I ever had to the garden variety hetero love scene. This was beautiful, wonderfully framed by the director and very erotic as these two girls fell into each other. A filter was up to block the true reason for the kiss from my mind, and I just enjoyed it for what it was. I know it was probably focus-grouped to appeal to guys (hello, they are hopeless ideals!), but this was a test to confirm if I could get off to the thought of another girl. That is another fantasy object besides the great girl sitting next to me.

I squinted my eyes, feeling myself tighten as the scene came to fruition before the spy stole away. Watching the slim blonde arouse her prey, whisper sweet nothings and the like, it brought me into such a blur. It was like I didn't want this to end; I wanted to see it be longer. But I knew too much longer and the ladies couldn't have their eye candy, so they had to end the scene. My mind felt like it was yanked away once the next scene started, and in my mind I wanted to change the ending and have the spy character forget her reason for seducing the other woman, going ahead and falling into the chasm of lust she was in further.

"You liked that scene, didn't you?" I hear a soothing monotone as Paris sets her hand on my knee, her arm elbow to elbow with mine. "That was certainly a surprise, wasn't it?"

I could only nod my head furiously as I started to let my mind wander towards Paris as a predator, claiming me as her prey the way the spy character did. The movie stared getting confusing and convoluted after that, not comically so, just in how many threads there were. The spy girl meets the aforementioned guy played by Antonio Banderas, and as they must the sparks started to fly soon after that between them, much to my disinterest.

Where I'd usually mock however, I just thought and stared at the girl to my left, her wide chestnut pupils transfixed to the silver screen trying to will the plot further. The usual spy capery ensued on-screen, and all I could think about was Paris' hand against mine in the popcorn tub, and when I'd passed the Dot box to her so she could take out a few of the gummy candies.

It was about fifty minutes I started losing interest in the movie. More rambling from the Latin heartthrob who only gets my REM numbers pumping, and Rebecca's spy girl getting taken by him. I reclined in the seat a little, hoping the next fifty minutes wouldn't last as long as the first fifty. God, the movie was boring; I was thinking it started with a bang, and ended with a big thud courtesy of an exaggerated Spanish accent. I relaxed waiting for the time to be over, thinking Paris wasn't going to use the darkness of the theater to try anything. Not that I expected her to, she didn't seem to be into doing more than kissing in public.

I leaned towards one side, noticing the popcorn was starting to get low. Paris said nothing and I didn't expect her to do much more as a scene in a cold dark place where for some rhyme or reason, Rebecca's female spy is in nothing but her underwear as something or other happens between her and the guy. I stare in awe at this woman walking around in a bra and panties overacting, and though I could name the many faults of the wife of that great thespian of early-90's TGIF John Stamos as far as her acting went, I couldn't deny how sexually alluring she looked.

I wrung a hand against my thigh, the reaction of the film's content getting to me in such a frustrating way. My mind wandered off into a tangent involving Grandma's wine cellar, with Paris and I doing things in said cellar I wouldn't usually think of. The pretentious French setting of the movie only reminded me further of the name my girlfriend held, along with how secretive and sneaky she could be at times.

What I imagined about us, sneaking a makeout session before a Friday night dinner, was getting to me in the worst way. The fresh memories of Lady Sing's and what ensued in an innocent chopstick lesson with her just taking over and bringing me into a dominant embrace made me flare up.

Stop! Rory, don't be thinking of these things, this is your first date. Your.First. Date. Y'know, the one where you just get to know the other and don't do anything besides a cute kiss at the end of the night? Now watch the movie, shut InnerVixenRory up, and keep it chaste! Perfect, thank you conscious for stepping in and cooling things down before they could get out of control...

It didn't get much time to make a point known though, because just then our Latin spy guy or whoever the hell he is has forced himself on the spy girl, and all the sudden I hear moaning. I shut my eyes (it was sort of a scary scene), freaking out over the image from earlier that she was with that other girl, and it was so erotic. I tried to think thoughts far away from sex. Sarcasm, Russian Novels, Paris yelling at me for screwing something up with the Franklin...

Wait a second, what is that touch? I feel a brush along my left side, above my elbow, softly at first. I think for a moment that it's accidental and Paris wanting a few more Dots from me.

The only trouble was that we exhausted the supply from the box twenty minutes before, and the empty container was in Paris' purse at that moment waiting for disposal.

"So," she states softly, "you aren't mocking this movie. Why is that Gilmore; too distracted?" I gritted my teeth as she continued to make her point, a nail tip at the cuff of the sleeve on that side of my dress. "You have to admit that this is a rental at best because of the overacting."

"It's not good," I say, settling back into the seat, trying not to look at her and watching the bickering couple in the film tear each other's heads off. "But it's far from bad."

"Oh, I bet. I mean that Rebecca Romijn-Stamos. She definitely has clear skin, a great body, killer hair, and smooth mile-long legs, doesn't she? It kind of reminds me of something you brought up Thursday evening." I don't look away to see a facial reaction as I remember that same exact compliment directed at Paris when I brought myself into a closer cuddle with her after everything settled down in the wake of the ask-out. I remember the feel of her bare back, the blemish and bump-free feel of her skin, perfect from her simple, yet effective beauty regimen. And that hair...that really can't be genetics giving Paris those golden locks that if she decided to, could grow all the way lower than her waist in back, can it?

My pelvis tightened up against my will, the feathery touches of Paris' fingers against my arm irritating that lust itch in a certain place all over again. What on earth was I thinking going with a thin underwear set tonight? I had to choose this date to slip into a pair of striped blue/white bikini panties with a waistband that was barely there at all, along with the matching bra which had a line of lace piping along the top of each cup.

I knew why I chose it indeed; to feel sexy even if I looked matronly on the outside. My line of thinking suddenly went to Paris' choice of what was underneath that sexy leather skirt, and the question of whether she was a color girl, went plain virginal white, or as befits her bitchy schoolgirl persona, wore the same color as Rebecca was on-screen at that exact moment.

Hey, she might not even choose at all...Oh God, my inner vixen had to go there!! No, I don't think that way, I'm not like that. Focus on the film Rory, focus on the movie. It'll all be over soon. I was feeling highly sensitive at that moment, and I did not need to be replacing characters in a film to fit my sexual fantasies.

I thought Paris would back off after a little riling, just enough to give me a taste and satisfy her curiosity. The problem was that from her view, I was vulnerable, weakened by the content of the movie. I relaxed into my seat, her touch soothing. I took a handful of popcorn, bigger than I was taking before, trying to use the excuse of eating to distract me from what was happening. I could feel her eyes on me, watching me eat and savor that bottom layer of popcorn where the first layer of butter topping was, the best part of the entire bucket.

All of the sudden, she took action. Her arm slid slowly past mine slyly and slowly, my mind trying to numb what she was doing to me. I felt hot, my attention mixed between the movie and nothing at all. Paris moved closer towards me, her hand closer and closer, in a torturous descent towards someplace she was assured Dean had never even gotten to. I thought she wouldn't even get this gutsy for at least a few dates, she never showed this side of herself before. The slow, seductive, softer side of Paris that was known to few.

I lifted my arm to take a sip of the soda, the Pavlovian reflex of sating thirst paramount to sexual sating. I lifted the cup and sucked on the straw to drag the sugary substance into my mouth...

Paris stretched her arm out, taking advantage of the unoccupied armrest. I felt a light touch at my side, not self-induced. Alarm went through me, and I softly exhaled as two long fingertips made themselves known, going from my side in a dawdling path that took a curve around from just below where my arm and body met, and then lower along that side. She seemed to be noticing exactly how wound up I was getting and taking advantage of it. The feeling was soothing to me like a warm cup of coffee, something that I was craving right about there since it had been six hours since my last cup.

She kept her hand wandering along my side, alternating between a soft touch of the dress material and running a nail tip along the skin from above. My breathing rose and fell depending on how deep she touched, and my eyes were far from the movie. It wouldn't have mattered if a horror film or romance on the screen, for I wasn't even paying attention to the movie at all at this point. The soothing feel of that hand secretly wandering around me in the darkness of the theater gave me a illicit buzz that I wouldn't have associated with Paris before.

It just got worse from there; her eyes continued to focus on the screen, not even appraising me as her mental vision wrung all it could. Her touch wandered from my side and around my left breast. One moment she would slowly trace the lace fringe on the top of the bra cup, the next her print was circling around the seam between the cup and the band leading to the back. Her teasing was just the worst thing too; she would bring her touch closer in towards the nipple, then retreat just as she neared there. God, she must've really retained the few times in the school shower she's seen me naked and known when to stop, but however she knew, it was working! I felt tight, and tried to move a little to the right in the seat. I couldn't go further.

Trying to move my legs was an exercise in futility, because all each brush did when I would switch and recross them was relay how hot and bothered I was. My breathing would pick up and I'd feel like I needed a release and soon.

Stop, public place, don't think those thoughts here! I needed to kill everything that was being stirred up. Thinking of unsexy things like Russian Novels, a bus ride, or stale 9pm convenience store coffee was something I tried to bring into my head to stop the thoughts.

It thankfully worked. Unthankfully, it worked for all of forty-five seconds, because it's just at that point the director decides to get all arty and mess with the film narrative the only way he seems to know how. The spy girl jumps off a bridge over the Seine to get away from someone who's attacking her after a rendezvous gone wrong. OK, seems pretty normal, doesn't it, the character is either headed towards sudden death or an escape up the river.

After a few moments though, both of us are startled in our seats as the scene of Rebecca's character in the water turns into something else. The scene cuts to clear blue water, which is impossible in an urban waterway and tells us all this was filmed in a tank and most likely another dream sequence, but I digress.

In that clear blue water, the spy girl is fully nude, and it's all shown. I'm not talking a scene cut below the waist, or a fuzzy effect muting everything, because we were now watching this supermodel actress maneuver around the water and trying to surface with nothing on. It was all there, her hair floating underwater above her head, her breasts exposed, and nothing but a isosceles triangle of hair covering her modesty.

"Oh God!" I said, softly, finding myself reacting to the scene. I was taking in this lithe form on the screen, wettening my lips, seeing what was on the screen. This movie was weird, and it was certainly rated R. But I didn't expect full frontal nudity in it!

I wanted to be a prude, wanted to cover my eyes, be the way I usually was about nudity, that it was meant for only the bedroom and the bath. I should've run out of the theater and questioned Paris as to whether she knew about this all along and was getting ready to make a play once the scene started. But I sat in quiet numbness instead, watching Rebecca swim through the water and replacing her with Par, thinking about her skinny dipping. Not a perfect connection, but that's where my mind went anyways.

"They should really say something about that in the reviews." Paris obviously didn't expect it, and tried to reel her hand from me. "Shit, I'm so sorry Rory, it didn't say anything about this at all."

"Don't be," I hastily responded.

"I knew I should've just did a DVD night at the Manor, you didn't need to see this." Her whisper was easily decoded, but only as close to me. "I just saw spy thriller and thought it'll be good. I should've read the family reviews telling me where each swear word and nudity bit was! This shouldn't be a dating movie, it's soft-core pornography!"

"But it's big budget soft-core porn," I joked. "the production values are impressive." Boy they were, judging from how much my mouth was watering at a woman who could barely act in front of me as a lust object. Antonio had no chance with me; Rebecca was truly flowing my blood.

"No, it's not that, it's just so seedy and slow--" I took her wrist, silently asking her to keep her hand near...

"It's a spy thriller, it's supposed to be that way." I pointed slightly towards the screen, trying to draw her into the whole thing. The reasoning for the scene was lost to the both of us. "Look at her Par, just...drink her in." My voice was husky with want, matching how my body was feeling. "This will probably be a good mocking rental one day, but just look at her." I pushed closer in the seat towards her. "I know you hate actors and actresses who don't put in an effort, but she's doing a good job with what she has. A very good job." My body was reacting to my words, the seductive side I never knew taking over.

"Just think about her for a moment, her calling your name. Her finding you attractive. I know I'm yours, but I can't be mad at you for holding a desire for her, a fantasy of making love to her, whether as a character or in real life." I watched her react to my words, the pulse within her wrist fluttering up. "I already do all of those things, whether it be here right now, or else in bed. I can't help it because you're so attractive and smart, it's such a sexual combination." Paris' lips parted a little, giving me a clue to her distraction. The scene was starting to fade, and her right hand, stuck stubbornly previously to the arm rest, moved to take my hand as she brought the left out of it and played with the leather hem of her skirt. "You want that with me, don't you? That close-knit connection, the sparks, your imagination running far from your fingers and thinking of me like that, exposed, yet intimate." I looked down towards our hands, clasped together, the dim light of the screen reflecting both of us sitting in the back of that auditorium.

The tension was tight as it can get, both of us knowing that there were still at least twenty minutes to the end of the movie. She looked at the scene, and then towards me, seeming to feel like that shy and reserved girl I see hard at work in the Franklin office with an undone collar and her tongue poking out one cheek, straining to read the text on her terminal as she edits the paper and writes her op-ed pieces. In that moment, I found her to be so perfect for me, and I didn't want her to be afraid to assert the fact that behind her plain façade, she is a desirable woman to me.

She still seemed nervous, so I had to slice through the tension. I brought my mouth close to her ear, my lips brushing slowly against the shell as I whispered something sweet in her ear. I let her know how much her sneaked touching was affecting me, and that I was perturbed that the distraction was stopping my first reaction to mock the film. I pushed the sleeve of her sweater up to expose her arm, and then ran my fingers along the sensitive bare skin.

Paris looked conflicted; did she want to continue to ramp up our hidden flirting to blatant, or stop it before she did something she might regret? It was certainly a fun game to play, telling her the teasing touch of my breast through my dress was something unexpected. She watched the last of that nude swimming scene before the plot faded into convolution.

She brought her gaze to me, steely and focused, her eyes starting at my hand rubbing her arm, then my face. Of course she had her own idea on how the flirting went, saying she got caught up in the moment and wouldn't do that in public company, she was embarrassed by her actions. "I won't deny that Rebecca is beautiful, however. The American feminine ideal with the perfect body, the perfect occupation, and the perfect husband."

"A husband you might want out of the picture?" I questioned.

"I have plenty of female dream lovers," she admitted, "usually however, it's more cerebral and less about sexual gratification." Her rushed whisper was soft enough not to be heard by anyone else. "Geena Davis for example, she's the triple threat. Sexy, athletic and smart as a whip; can't say much about her love life smarts and how her husband made her do Cutthroat Island, but everything else...I have thought of her in that sense."

I nodded my head; the redhead seemed like a Paris girl. "She is wonderful, tall too. Sometimes tall is good, y'know?" Oh God, a ramble when I have someone four inches short of me sharing a popcorn bucket and a date. I hoped she didn't notice...

"I know how it is." She smiles, and moves closer to me. "Sometimes you want to reach that special someone by tip-toe." I was really wishing that damned armrest was out of the way. "Take this film; the tall girl uses her wiles to attract the short girl out of what she owns, that's using that special Amazonian-like sexual power to the fullest." She pushes my hand aside, setting it on the armrest and bringing her right hand towards my lap. "Still, I have a theory that those who are shorter are just as powerful. Our minds are closer together, our nerves also. There's just that less distance for pleasure to find its way to the proper channels through the nervous system and the spinal cord."

Uggh, she knows I can't deny her when she gets all geeky and essaic! Her theory is probably scientific junk, but spiritually, it's completely possible. It also brings my mind towards seeing if she receives pleasure faster and in a stronger wave than I do. We start to move closer, the intimate conversation drawing us back into our little box, Femme Fatale being forgot even before the credits start. I felt her hand move up, and involuntarily I was drawing in towards her again. Only this time I'd make sure I'd be in control.

"I'm sure you're very sensitive," I said softly, moving an arm towards Paris. "You probably think I am."

She nodded, acknowledging her touch. "Slimmer body, faster response."

"More weight, and more bulk for you. Flattering bulk, that is." I directed my vision blatantly towards her bustline, what was beneath that sweater just taunting me.

"Again, they're just breasts," she tried to deflect. "Not much to them except a pain in the ass trying to rein them in." The space between us closed in, we were getting closer and closer.

"Well then they're the nicest pain in the ass I've ever seen." We knew it was getting to that point, where we might actually start to make out in the movie theater. We were getting closer to a two-seated hug and starting to kiss something awful. So close, almost there, she's closing in...

It's just at this damned point the room brightens from the darkened hues of the film, to a intense, vivid white. The soundtrack starts to cut off like an internet stream, bits and pieces until the voices start to slow down. A piece of film is seen on the top part of the screen, stuck because the movie decided at this perfect moment to break apart and disintegrate. The house lights are brought up, and suddenly where Paris and I were in the dark moments before about to do things I might have thought long and hard about with Dean, was the abrupt end to the movie. We quickly broke apart since the front viewers would look our way towards the projection booth, and we gathered up our stuff as we hope that the movie can be restarted. Suddenly we had some time to pass.

We talked about school for the next five minutes because of the lights being on and a fear that doing anything now would result in derision from the other customers in the room. Paris was jarred with the sudden mood change, but somehow I could hear in her voice that she was as wound up as me from our all-night teasing.

Finally, the goth ticket girl came to the front of the theater to make an announcement. "Sorry folks, looks like the movie is ending early because our projectionist decided to take off and let all the films run out unsupervised, the last part of our feature presentation is all over the floor. You can get a refund at the front..."

"Lazy union labor," Paris grumbled under her breath, making me laugh just a bit, though mad because I won't know how the movie ends for months. Everyone else in the theater groaned and we all left disappointed. Them about the plot, but the two of us for completely different and unrelated reasons. Aw man, we were this close!! If the film would have broke two minutes later I might not have been as disappointed.

Both of us grumbling, we headed out of the theater after getting a refund back in full, along with a perverted question from Ticket Girl about whether we did it in the theater or not. "I'm sure you have," Paris grouched as the girl handed back her card after running the refund, and she tried her best to look innocent. The date was good, but somewhat of a disaster because of the change in dinner plans and that early end to the movie. There was still a little bit of time though before I had to get to back to Stars Hollow; a free half-hour at the very least. I was getting tired, and Paris was noting that as she drove over the bridge back into Springfield.

"I feel awful, this date just doesn't want to get off the ground." She shook her head, obviously crushed her well-formed plans turned out to have less planning than the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. "Are you up for a stop at a diner off route 83? I need something for the ride home to stay awake." I knew what that meant, and though it wasn't Luke's, a good cup of Folger's would hit the spot.

"There's always room for coffee," I said jubilantly as she gave me that funny look, and she searched the road for place to stop.

She pulled off 83 east of I-91 and stopped at a nameless diner which though not gleaming was serviceable enough for us before we got back on the road. We spent some more time just talking as we had a couple of cups of coffee between us. With the pressure of the 'big date' part off, we were starting to get down to brass tacks when it came to getting to know each other as I brought up an interesting question for her.

"There has to be a newspaper you hate, I know how much you loathe Fox News," I brought up. "I think of you as a New York Post hater."

"You'd be surprised actually, the paper's long history more than makes up for Rupert Murdoch's current bias. They stick to a viewpoint and keep at it; something I like in a paper. What I don't like is the me-too attitude of some newspapers, which just happen to be in the Huntzberger chain."

"Really"? I lighted up, impressed because like her I found the papers from Huntzberger Media to be some of the worst I ever read. "I would've thought--"

"The Post and the Daily News are perfect train reads, they're compact and they get their message out with clear articles, excellent photography and eye catching headlines, I have absolutely no problems with them. But read the New York Globe, Washington Sentinel, Los Angeles Ledger and Boston Bugle; I dare you to get to page three before you throw those papers away in disgust."

"You can't, the Page Three Girl ruins the paper." Mitchum Huntzberger, the owner/publisher of the chain was inspired from the ideas of the worst of the English newspapers, and was desperate for any circulation he could muster, even if it was from putting in pictures of scantily clad women who needed the money and the attention. "That chain is a joke, their sports coverage is awful, and business? Don't make me laugh."

"They're so terrible birds reject them as cage liner." Paris continued to cut the chain down. "Plus you really think his son is in any condition to take over the empire? He's on the Yale Daily News staff, but his crap is clearly ghostwritten because he's too busy holding another on-campus party which campus police can't stop because of Daddy Dearest."

Ahh, Logan Huntzberger, truly, the worst offspring a publisher could ever have. I don't usually cut down someone I don't know, but from my reading of the same New York tabloids we're talking about, he seems like a crude carbon copy of Tristan with the suaveness of a lizard. I swear if I ever met him I wouldn't exchange three words with him before he'd ask me if I'd like to have sex with him. Except substitute 'sex' with 'fuck' and my saying 'Take me hard!' with 'Go fuck yourself!' while pouring a cold bottle of water down his pants and stomping off. I held off what I really thought of him from what I read and went with the more logical argument of why I hated him.

"Logan couldn't run a newspaper if Guttenberg himself taught him how to set type, and a general jerk, he's had more relationships than A's."

She shook her head, correcting me. "Rory dear, he's had more relationships than he has F's and C's, combined."

"Wonderful, remind me to flee the country after 2019 when he becomes eligible for the White House."

"Surely you jest," Paris tries to point out.

"You remember who's in the Oval Office right now?" I said with a smirk.

She shook her head and wrung her nose in disgust, the concept of Logan 'C Average' Huntzberger as president is just the image we didn't need. "This country is doomed. We're two intellectuals stuck in a nation of idiots, where you have to have a label on your curling wand telling you the iron might be hot, so don't touch it."

"It's not doomed," I argued. "We can create an intellectual community I'm sure."

She sipped her coffee and came right back. "The Simpsons episode where Lisa and the Springfield Mensa tried to create an academic utopia proved that it doesn't work."

"That's just a cartoon though," I laughed out loud, surely it would work. "You can't knock it until you try it."

"Three words; British royal family. Academics breed with each other only, and eventually the gene pool is exhausted when the generation after several turns out to be morons."

Both of us stared at each other across the table, the coffee nice and hot and the conversation flowing. In the space of a half-hour stop, there were so many topic changes I can't remember half of them because they came fast and furious from our talking styles. Her plans for Harvard, mine in turn, how she rose through all these years as a bright four year-old with promise all those years ago and into the girl she is today. Two refills later, we were still talking about our love for foreign lands, her dream destination being Copenhagen ("You have Fez, but my dream trip is discovering Hans Christen Andersen's Denmark," she remarked) as we made our way out to the car, the early errors of the date being long forgotten and the bond still there as we shared a quick kiss in the lot.

Wrapping her arms around me as we neared the Porsche, suddenly I felt a mass of metal and plastic being slipped within my hand. "Close your hand around it," she asked in a whisper, and when I did, she released from the embrace. "Now bring it around to your front." I held the object tightly in my hand as I brought it towards my face.

In an instant, I turned white as I saw what she put in my hand. I expected maybe a ring or a bracelet.

Instead, a keyring was in my grasp with the red, yellow and black insignia resting just below the hole holding each key to the ring. Paris looked up at me expectedly, trust written all over her features.

"I want you to drive yourself part of the way, at least to just south of Hartford," she told me. "you should find out why I really love this car."

I stared at her with shock, wondering if she was serious about what she was offering. My mouth dried as my fingers traced the pattern of the key teeth, the impact of the gesture unimaginable.

I held the keys to Paris' Porsche 911 in my hand, her six-digit baby, the one car I would never expect her to even bother to borrow out, much less to a girl with two stupid accidents on her record. I would still keep the left arm that ended up broken protected as much as possible in a car, to keep the healed extremity protected. She wants me to drive this?

Thinking she was kidding, I laughed and tried to hand back over the keys, explaining that there was no way she was serious. She shook her head no.

"There's no kidding around here Gilmore, I want you to drive it. It's not everyday you get to experience the front seat of a sports car." Breath puffed from us in the clear and cool night as I tried again to turn her down.

"It's your car, I don't need to drive it."

"What's the problem, you're insured and you're a safe driver." She smirked at me as again I tried to remind her that the 'silver bullet on wheels' was unsafe at any of my speeds.

"I've been in two accidents in the last two years, I don't need a third."

"One caused by a wayward deer at a four-way stop playing battering ram, the other in a rust bucket that should've stayed in the junkyard, you weren't even behind the wheel for that one." She gave me the keys one more time. "I do owe you for a lame dinner wait and only 3/4 of a watched movie, so think of this as makeup for that until I can buy you the DVD once its released."

I looked at the car sheepishly, wondering if I should go ahead and drive. The thrill alone in me to be trusted with such an expensive car and the speed I could possibly get to was going through me fast, but the motherly concern was too. It had to be lighter than the Jeep so I could maneuver it easily, and the transmission was automatic so I wouldn't have to play with the gearshift. Still, the very idea that I would be behind the wheel of that car was unfathomable.

I puckered my lips, looking at the key, hitting the unlock button on the remote. I didn't want to turn Paris down and disappoint her, and truth was I had wanted to get behind the wheel of her car since it pulled into my driveway earlier in the evening. It was fast, and the thrill of the speed we were at passing the truck near the state line was a rush of exhilaration I certainly wanted to repeat, especially with the speed under my control. Dean would never let me drive one of the roadsters he was restoring with Mr. Forrester, not that I wanted to because they sputtered more than Speed Buggy with a heavy cough.

After a beat deciding the risks of driving it, I looked at Paris, and knew that the trust she was putting into me would be a protective influence. She knew her car, and would tell me what I was doing wrong or right. The thrill and the adrenaline I would feel now and into tomorrow would be better than the 'what if' thoughts I would have if I gave Paris back the keys and sat in the passengers seat, wishing I would've taken up her offer.

I approached the driver's side door and Paris looked pleased that I was going to drive her car. "I'm still slowing down in every deer crossing zone," I joked, earning an honest laugh from her and a smile.

"As long as we get into the Hollow near 12:15." She went around to the other side and got into the passenger's side, her soothing presence next to me calming my nerves. With her as navigator I was sure to be well on the roads back south.

I felt rejuvenated from this coffee stop and well awake as I inserted the key into the ignition and turned it. The car roared to life, the rumble of the pistons firing up, the feel of my foot against the rubber of the gas pedal, feeling like a racer with the imported leather steering wheel in my grasp. My heart skipped, the control I felt going home taking root within.

"Now doesn't that feel nice?" Paris said as she buckled up.

"God, yeah." That was my only reaction as I shifted into drive and made my way out of the parking lot and back onto 83. Low to the ground, I found myself not used to the visibility in front of me, with the glare of the street lights above shining onto the well-waxed exterior of the Porsche. I felt nervous as I went the first few blocks, the feel of getting comfortable more paramount. Paris thought I was doing fine and didn't indicate any sense of panic.

I prepared to make my way back to 91 in the Seven Corners area south of town, thinking that she'd have me drive immediately home. The map voice tried to guide me onto Maple Street, and as I came to the sign indicating where to turn, I made my way into the far right lane...

"Second lane, Shaker Road." Paris' butted in with her direction to me.

"But the sign says Hartford, this way, I need to turn here."

"No you don't," she said. "Take Shaker Road, we'll get to Hartford eventually." I didn't want to refuse her, so I switched back into the Shaker lane and stopped at the traffic light, wondering what on earth that girl had up her mind. Maybe she wanted to meander and have a slow conversation with me, I wasn't sure. The light turned green, and for the next two miles she didn't say a word, which was good because my focus was on breaking myself into the car. I kept at a legal speed all through the rest of the road's length in Massachusetts, the sign welcoming us to Connecticut a beacon of relief for the both of us. I heaved a breath, as Paris watched out the window the dark scenery of the small road passing by.

Four miles and six minutes later, we go through the small town of Somersville, and the navigation is on track even as the road takes another name change. Paris' weekend driving experience comes in handy as she lets me know which fork to take, how familiar she is with the stretch. At 55 miles an hour, it's very leisurely and winding, so much that my mind for the first time all night drifts to a different place than Paris; it's how on earth I could convince Mom to finally break down and let Grandma and Grandpa give me a car, something like this. Not that it would ever happen, but it's a good fairy tale to hold close.

I get ready to flick on the cruise control after the curves of the road become fewer and farther between, the traffic very light. The drive so far had been unsurprising, with that promise of why I'd find out why Paris loved her car not indulged. In all honesty, at that speed a Buick land-boat would feel just about the same, I couldn't see why a drive down an old colonial road on the outer fringe of Hartford was so special at all.

First appearances are deceiving though. After crossing a road and seeing a sign that the next intersection wasn't for another four miles, Paris finally spoke up softly, and brought her concentration towards me.

"Bring 'er up to 75," she commanded. Was she kidding, that was twenty miles over the speed limit! I have sped before, but only in a late rush to get to a destination. There was plenty of time to get home yet, no need to rush. I told her this, and she just shrugged it off.

"I'm not in a rush, I just want you to feel how responsive this car is on the road, it's built for speed."

"But what about the police--"

"It's really late, they only really monitor here at rush hour. At other times of the day this is just another farm road with milk and egg trucks rumbling through. When it's night there's an unsaid agreement between the motor enthusiasts of this part of the state and the community that we can use this road to test our cars...safely," she emphasized the word. "We can't go 145 and wring out every horse, but at that speed anyways there's not a lot you can control, the brake is tenuous and the margin of error is a string of thread. I always stay under 100 if I can, it still gives you that rush without that dread you'll fly off the road."

I gulped down, thinking about how crazy it was because I never knowingly broke the law in my life. But watching the needle on the speedometer bounce back and forth between the 60 and 65 gauge lines, and the few curves of road that were ahead according to the map screen. The effects of the speed lured me in, beckoning me for more, to feel more of a rumble in the wheel. There was a freedom here that I never felt before, the trust the both of us were having in each other building a bond further that wasn't there previously.

That if I was ever in trouble, Paris would be there for me. It wasn't even a question whether I'd be there for her anymore at the same time. She liked me as the small-town girl, and in turn her eccentricities that would annoy all others kept me close to her.

"Par?" I demanded with a heavy dose of confidence. "I hope your seatbelt is nice and tight." Before she could say another word, I pressed my foot down harder on the accelerator, and let the speed of the car pick up.

Immediately the effect felt intoxicating as I could feel the G-forces along the back of my neck paste me into the deep plush of the bucket seat. The speedometer went to 70, the needle slowly inching up until it reached what Paris asked me to drive at. The scenery started to blur further, the lonely darkness of the road, the bright yellow centerline the only guide keeping me on the road. I debated with myself whether to go above 75 on the straightaway, the sense I wanted to clear in some psychic way to her. My foot pressed down a little more on the gas pedal, flirting with 80 but teasing it back down to 77.

"You want to, right?" Indeed she knew, and I nodded. She ran a hand along my upper arm, and I could feel her smile. "I told you this felt good."

And she was right about that, because with each additional pound of pressure on the gas, I could feel the rumble of the engine more and more in my seat. I mean literally in my seat too; I brought the car up to 85 and slid into a gentle curve, the tires making perfect contact with the smooth asphalt. The vibrations picked up more with the speed, my eyes focused on the road and thoughts of any cops nearby were more than obliterated, the logic portion of my brain more concerned with all the mathematics going into keeping the car steady than basic law.

The pleasure lobe presented something interesting within; those vibrations were being focused into one point in particular of the seat. Right on center, those sensations were heading right between my legs, and I could barely articulate how it felt to have a six-digit performance car engine sending sexy tremors where I so didn't need them to be at that exact moment. The seat beneath me hummed like it was battery-operated and had three speeds. Not that I know how that feels, really.

Alright, once on the washer a couple years ago in completely accidental circumstances. There wasn't a chair in there, I was deep into reading a book, didn't want to be interrupted, and I couldn't help it, God! Why am I even talking about this...

Anyways the seat hummed and I continued to drive down that road, Paris next to me and no way to hide the arousal I felt from driving so fast. My legs couldn't be crossed and there was no covering up the effects, I was exposed. I heaved in and out to keep the car in control, the better to take my mind off the fact Paris was looking at me as if I was the most beautiful thing she could ever behold. She would say the occasional thing, telling me I was doing a good job, or that I was driving better than she would in the same situation. My eyes didn't leave the road, for all I knew I was driving the speed of sound. Below the humming only magnified, my panties starting to feel as if one layer too many. The self-gratification I had held off since my Wednesday night shower was finally coming to a head and telling me that as soon as I was home the first stop better be my bedroom.

A yellow diamond sign came into my view; a 180° curve was up ahead, the road winding around a small hill, advising 40 mph of speed.

"This is it, the last curve before we get into the extreme north suburbs." Her soothing monotone let me know that this roller-coaster ride was almost over. "You'll have to slow down to only 70, but taking it at that speed is so worth it."

Only 70? RationalRory had to butt in with that observation, wanting me to back off and drive like a grandma. My heart was probably bursting from an upswell of blood pressure, and I think my stomach had relocated to just above my liver. Whatever the case, Paris was ready to challenge me once again.

"You ready to take it Gilmore? This is something you definitely don't learn in driver's ed, it has to come to you naturally." I had already played gutsy all night with how I felt, what defined a relationship. We're still hidden from view of everyone, but creating our own world to keep the secret that we were a couple, to fall into each other the way we have. I felt adventurous, gutsy, fearless.

For now, I had to keep everything with Paris to myself. But on this two lane road just outside the megapolis, I could feel free to express myself however I pleased. She was making me discover what had long lain dormant, or even undisturbed inside of me. I could have the guts to do this.

"Hang on to your armrest baby," I said steady, only a trace of nervousness in the treble of my voice. "How about 80?" I let go the gas the little I needed to enter it safely, my mind gauging all I needed to take the curve at double the legal limit that sign begged me to take. Paris was alarmed.

"You sure? I always have to back off at--"

I cut her off with simple words. "You can only get to Lover's Lane through Dead Man's Curve, might as well make the most of it." With tension hanging in the air, I let more fuel burn in the engine as I saw the first of the striped signs against the guardrail. I tightened my grip on the wheel, starting to feel the spin of the curve against one side of  my face. The reflectors along the side were the bread crumbs guiding me, my bloodflow tightening, my legs struggling to stay straight. I felt like a race car driver taking one of the tough curves of a road course, the tires squealing below as I took the curve, keeping the speed no lower than 77. Paris held onto my arm tight, for once showing some nerves from my cavalier driving style. I wound the steering wheel, keeping the 911 within the lines and steady even with the centrifugal forces weighing in on the vehicle.

I reached the top of the curve with 90° to go, the speedometer holding steady along with my resolve. Hearing from Paris that she hadn't taken it at the current speed made me feel even gutsier about everything. I felt the car shift but hold steady, every bit of Mom's driving instruction coming into handy for the next 700 feet. The tires kept a constant Morse code-like squeal, the effects of the curve getting to me in the worst way possible. My pelvis shifted in one direction, the way I certainly didn't need it to, the space between my legs making me think of even more illicit behavior with Paris, say in a backseat or in the rear of an airplane. The intensiveness of the situation and the curve was getting to me in the worst way possible.

The car shifted a little right of the white line, but I quickly reined it in as Paris seemed amazed at how composed I was about being able to use her car. She held my arm tight, so much that I could to feel the bruising beneath where her hand was resting. I managed to keep control for the rest of that long curve, until the hill finally ended and the first signs of civilization came back in my front view strong with a string of street lights along what had turned into Pinney Road going past Ellington and into Vernon.

I settled down and brought the car into the demanded and much slower city speeds, relaxing my sudden lead foot off the gas. I couldn't believe what I just done; I sped through miles and miles of Connecticut farmland and countryside with no one but the occasional car in the other direction! It was such a rush, and below my waist, though not irked by the heavy speed, still felt a hum like a cell phone stuck on vibrate. I shook myself out of reverie, and the last few minutes had felt so good. After all that time without a word, I finally had to say something to Paris as I stopped at the first light since Springfield.

"I'm glad you got me to drive this!! Wow!!" My eyes were wide, and there was a smile brighter than I ever had before. "The control and handling is out of this world, and the luxury...honestly I could sleep in this seat." I felt totally sunk into the plush confines of it. "I mean I knew I could drive like that, but it wasn't realistic to think I'd ever go at those speeds, much less on a public road of all places." I was smiling and my breath was taken aback, as if I just had the best cup of coffee or candy bar ever. Meanwhile my heartbeat had yet to recover, for it was racing at a fast rate.

She looked at me in euphoria, proud as she could be she could give me this moment to savor, driving a fast car the way I did. Truth be told, she was still catching her breath from the shocking drive, her thoughts for what may have happened overwhelmed by what actually ensued. All that she could do to show me my driving skills rivaled hers was to 'mm-hmm' in acknowledgement.

The light turned green, and I drove into the metro area at the appropriate speeds, the signs directing towards the Buckland area and Route 84. The drive was relaxing from hereon in, Paris turning on the classical channel to soothe herself back into the dullness that seemed to be her life with Sharon. She could see that the good times for the evening were coming to an end, seeming resigned to the fate of us having to go back into hiding again.

Going back into downtown Hartford, she finally gathered her bearings and spoke again. "I really don't like having to hide all of this."

"Me either," I said automatically. "Tonight, as far as it's gone, has gone well despite what happened with the movie and the restaurant, we recovered quickly. But we can't tell anyone that, we have to lie and tell them some fiction about the interview subjects being too boring for a Franklin article."

"Not that they are," Paris pointed out. "But how else are we going to be able to sneak this all in? I go to bed at night, and my mind fills with all the things I want to do with you, the things that if I had a boy, would be OK. Holding hands, sharing a quick kiss, sending you a bouquet or a teddy bear as a surprise to remind you that you're in my thoughts. I can't do any of those things, it's like the only way we can express things or be together is using the Colts-to-Indianapolis 'Mayflower in the dead of night' strategy." She sighed sadly. "I have to plan you being with me at the Manor around my mother being there because she has the line of thinking where she hates your mom all these years later."

"We'll be public soon enough," I assured her. "We just need to think of this for the time being like a private little thing that's known to us and us only. And maybe Miss Patty, I haven't told her we coupled up yet but when I saw her this afternoon, she was giving me that look."

"What look?"

I wrinkled my eyebrows. "The 'did you do something slutty' look."

She laughed. "Which you'll have on your face all day tomorrow if I can help it. She'd be proud of us, making out at a Chinese restaurant and in the theater." Both of us giggled at the very idea of Miss Patty watching the both of us making out, if somewhat creepy, yet hilarious.

"Seriously though, things'll be OK. We can probably cut the tension out of school eventually because everyone is starting to think of us as good friends anyways."

"I just don't want it to get back to Mother," she pointed out with worry. "That's why I kept some space between us, because some of the Chilton girls get back to their Daughters of the Civil War mothers during 'how is school' talks, and those women then happen to let Sharon know at a gathering we're closer than we should be."

"As long as her new man from the casino's distracting her we're fine." I smiled at her, and tried my best to assuage her worries. "Think of it this way, Dean and I managed to hold out for three months until Thanksgiving everyone finding out about us even though we surreptitiously flirted for the two months before that. If he wouldn't have given me that first kiss right in the market just before Thanksgiving, we might have been able to wring out an extra month." I then noted something else to compare to that. "Both of us, in comparison have been flirting for the last four months, thinking about each other the way we did until we finally decided to do something about it. We were just a little bit late on the 'doing something about it' part."

"We made up for lost time," she interjected. "I've just never been in a relationship like this before, where I'm sharing stuff like I am, my worries and such. I keep thinking any minute it's all going to go to pot and that's it, and I want to keep us secret for as long as we can. At the same time, I don't want to be ashamed because I'm gay and we like each other."

"I'm not ashamed of you Paris, not at all," I said. "When I was getting ready it took all I had to make Mom know that I don't think of you as high-strung and wacky anymore, but as a friend, a good friend at that. You've been really good to me, tonight you treated me well. You must've wanted to slug the guy at the Italian restaurant for not giving us a seat."

"Nah, of course not." She pauses for a moment, evilly smirking. "Slug, probably not, it's not lady-like to throw a punch. A taser shot to the groin however, that's class."

"Par, you wouldn't!!" I laughed out loud. "He's just the front guy, not the manager who ordered all those reservations to be put aside for the bankers."

"He stopped us from entering, thus the stress gets taken out on him."

"What about that omniscient ticket girl at the theater, she was flirting with you," I noted.

"She was not."

I imitated the girl's response after Paris sarcastically told her off when she asked whether we did more than movie-watching in the theater. "I would with you blondie!"

"Stop it Gilmore."

"Come on, I saw it in her eyes, she wanted to be with us, more you than me."

"Was not."

"She was looking at you the way I have over the last few months in secret. You can deny it all you want hon, but you are a wonderful looking girl."

Paris got self-conscious and tried to hide the blush that was forcing up through her. "No one noticed until you did."

"Well, they're idiots," I opined. " I remember each morning through the summer getting up when you roused me awake, telling me the shower was open and I could hop in. You'd wear a towel or your underwear and the first thing I'd wake up to in the morning was the sight of you getting ready, not only for the day ahead, but to prove you're the best, and God, you looked beautiful like that. When you wake up, you're happy; it's only when the weight on your shoulders and Sharon gets to you that you become the way you are. When I look at you, I see more than that someone fully dedicated to your studies, you also want to make a difference in this world. You do that through the paper, the government and charity work, knowing that wining and dining at a society event is crap. Money only does so much, getting your hands dirty is the only way to feel like you made a difference."

I let what I say sink in with her as I drive down the expressway, taking an exit when I see there's a nice private park ahead nearby, because the driving kept me from getting into the conversation fully. What I said however, was fully meant. The lust aspect was built up through all the months living together and confirmed what I had felt for Paris over the months was the right thing to do. She cares so much, no matter how much she says all the activities she gets into are just for impression's sake. She would've tired out long ago if that was the only reason she rolled up her sleeves the first day back home from Washington and got right back into Rebuilding Together, working on three houses in the short time until the start of school. She might have an abrasive outside, but I know she has a sensitive inside.

It's just been up to me lately to get through to that layer.

I pull into the park, the dark setting of the parking lot overlooking the stars of the cool, clear night in the sky, and north to all the lights of Hartford. This had to be a lover's lane, but we were the only ones there. I pulled into the parking space and turned off the engine, wondering what to do next.

"I don't mean to sound worried," Paris said soothingly. "I know how you feel for me, I just keep thinking that after a pinch this is all a dream, that none of this is happening."

"It's OK, I think that way too." I took her hand into mine. "Trust me when I say this is not going to go away, that this will not end."

Reminding her of our outing conversation, I brought up something from almost towards the end. "Remember when you ask me whether this might have been a phase, being interested in girls, on my end mostly?"

The question was clear as day to her, along with the answer. I could see the worry in her mind as she remembered my answer of if it's a phase, it's a phase, but we have to take a risk. "Yeah," she said, her voice soft.

I had to take the next step in making it clear that tonight had definitely taken me quite a ways from the 'I like boys' camp. I found the seat-adjustment control and tilted the back down as far as it would go. It was my time to be aggressive, for she took the lead twice already in the evening. I felt a bit nervous, but that feeling was overwhelmed by a sense of confidence in what I was about to do.

I asked Paris to push her seatback down as far as she could too, which she did, not knowing my intentions. The small interior of the car would have to be enough, as I brought her attention to me, her eyes wide with a blend of confusion and want.

"The phase is over, I think we've gone beyond that tonight. This us, it's now a definite." I smiled at her as she struggled to describe how happy she felt. I brought a finger to her lips to keep her quieted.

"I'm serious Par, this night...it was all you wished for, all I wished for to happen, and more. I mean this night...there was not one moment I was bored at all, every part of it was interesting and gave me just that much more to learn about you. Not the you that's out there at Chilton, just you, a smart girl with all this want for me, and for the longest time, nowhere to express it except in your dreams. I loved the restaurant, loved the movie, and I loved the drive, this night took me by surprise." I pushed closer towards her, trying to make her position herself horizontal to the windshield. Taken aback, she reverted to non-vocalness.

"Thanks..." she blanched out, obviously not used to the idea of giving up control. I rubbed soothingly along her back, and she laughed when she accidentally bumped the back of her head against the passenger's side window.


"You OK?" I asked when the small laugh ended. She rubbed her head, and gave me a dirty look.

"Maybe I should've brought down the Rover." She smiled, as I brought my hand into her hair. "I had a great time tonight too, this was the best."

"I bring out the best nights in you, don't I?" I was easily reminded that she's had three 'best day/nights of my life' in just the last week.

"You bring out the best in me, period." The words were said seriously, and as she stared at me over her, both of us getting into a somewhat comfy recline along the two Porsche seats. She brought herself closer, wrapping her arms around my waist. "I'm very happy about everything tonight." Our lips softly meet, and we buss, then separate again.

"It was great, wasn't it?" Another kiss. "I especially liked when you took my accidental breast brush as flirty and turned the tables against me."

"That did not feel like an accident, I know you did that on purpose."

"The first time, total accident," I noted. "The second time, maybe I did mean to do that." She threaded her hands into my hair, as I worked mine along her side. "I honestly haven't developed much of a fetish for them yet. You could say I need some hands-on time with them." With a twinkle in my eye, I elicited a groan from Par.

"I need to be up by noon tomorrow Gilmore, don't be planting things in my psyche I might think about all night long." She was melting in the seat as I continued to mercilessly kiss her senseless, then dragged a couple of my fingers along the curve of her breast. She makes this sexy little straining sound that just gets to me as I torture her like she did, keeping away from the sensitive tissue around her areola, covered by the layers of her sweater and bra.

"Fuck, Rory..."

The sound of passionate profanity is something I quickly copy to my memory banks, as I push up her sweater a bit to feel bared skin at the side of her waist. She in turn sticks to deep kissing me while running her hands up and down the length of my body without pushing up my dress. Her smooth legs brush against mine, and she pushes one of them against my crotch, my already oversensitive clit causing me to bite my tongue and hold off trying to bring gratification out of this. We have to wait, no matter what, it's too fast to start giving each other deep sexual pleasure. I let her know exactly what I thought of her six-figure 'sex toy' by telling her how I responded to each and every curve in the road, her kissing getting deeper and deeper with each insinuation. Never had I been so dirty, I always thought of my sexual talking as more Masters & Johnson than Dr. Ruth. But the clinical dissection of all the passion of the night we had brought Paris more satisfaction by her own confession than she ever expected.

We stayed liked that, wrapped up in each other for fifteen minutes, giving into the held impulses we kept built up through the week for modesty's sake. I truly did want her so badly, and her the same. The radio silence from last night was now unacceptable, because it just strangled these feelings that we now have. God, Paris is such a great kisser, I mean she's amazing. Dean was aggressive and always prone to kiss overkill, but when that blonde gets into my mouth, it's soft and lingering, we both share the load. I can't help but think all those tongue exercises over the years meant for public speaking and debate and Paris in front of a mirror, pecking her lips and rolling her tongue around a lot. I could just picture her lost in a daydream about me while going through those motions.

Eventually a check of the dashboard clock told us that 12:10am was here, and we had used up every single second of the date that was possible. By then, my hands were wandering against her bare back beneath the sweater, and in the heat of passion we had both managed some breast brushes...OK, more like gropes. Nothing too deep, it was along the sides and we never outright palmed them, me through her bra and her above my dress. Still, we separated looking as if we were in a lover's embrace. She looked at me and said that I should throw on my jacket because my dress was wrinkled up, and that there was a little gloss from her lips sparkling along my neck side.

I was smirking as I watched Paris gather herself together for the last twenty minutes of the drive, because I think I stretched out her sweater, along with messing up her hair a little. She was still exhaling rather loudly as we got out of the car and traded seats, tugging at the bottom of her skirt.

"Cripes, my panties don't feel right," she grouched, then asked me to turn around.

"I hope not, not after all of that." I quipped.

"No, I mean they're riding up, you try having the emergency brake against your ass for 25 minutes!!" I couldn't help but laugh that I had turned Paris from a refined and buttoned-up schoolgirl who didn't want to get the stick out of her rear into an untamed woman who seduced me with her words, her actions, and her wheels. I turned around to let Paris have some modesty as she reached beneath her skirt and straightened out her underwear.

Yeah, I wasn't thinking about helping her out at all. Riggggght. The whole minute before she said she was decent was nothing but torture and dirty thoughts. So much for being uncorrupted and innocent, my naughty side getting more than enough mental images of tonight to build up my dream library for the next few weeks.

After that, we got into the car and Paris drove out of the park, the last twenty minutes of the night going without incident. She asked me to drill her on that homework that remained to be done, and from memory I quizzed her on Russian Novels and AP Trig, just glad that all the stress of the relationship was starting to dissipate. We were still our ol' little selves, just with some extra sugar and spice that made us think we were both nice.

It was 12:20 when Paris entered the town limits of Stars Hollow, and 12:25 when her car made that last turn onto Cherry Lane. Every minute of the night had been used to the fullest, except for those last five before half-past midnight. I looked at her quietly, focused on the road and drinking in the way she looked after six hours doing nothing but being together. She was tired from the long schlep both ways from Springfield to here and still had a half-hour in her to get back into Hartford. Looking at her in the very dim light, with her long blonde locks mussed from our rendezvous at the Hartford lovers lane, her shoes off and bare feet on the gas because they hurt, along with her tired eyes, it was the very picture of beauty. She had a neutral expression on her face, the night having many memories to overwhelm the both of us.

I contrast to her, with that same make-out hair and a wrinkled dress beneath my jacket to hide the evidence of anything more than a study session with Paris. This is where I remind myself that I can't say I went out with her, just that we spent a night chasing a story that never happened.

She took the turn into my driveway, and with a squeak from the undercarriage, comes to a stop just near the walkway so she won't have to put her shoes back on for long. Quietly, she got out of the car, her gaze pouring over each and every inch of me. Paris went around the front, holding up her hand, silently communicating that she'll help me out of the car. Over on my side of the car she opened the door, I unbuckled my seatbelt, and climbed out with the help of Paris' proffered hand in mine. I thanked her and she shakes her head.

"The date must help their significant other from the carriage," she reminded me simply. "If it's wet, their coat must be draped along the ground."

"Chivalry's still hanging in there I see." I got out and straightened out the bottom of my dress.

"I'd say it has a 60% chance at a full recovery. Can I walk you to the door?" She smiled and I wanted to shrug her off, playing the modern girl. But I just can't help it, what she's doing is so cute, so...unlike her. Still, it's taking a while to see the softer side of Paris Gellar that very few, if any, see out there.

"You up to it, it's almost 12:30." I try to talk her out of this anachronism, but no way is Paris budging.

"I can sleep in the afterlife." Ahh, that's what I was waiting for, a quick quip said in that bitter voice of hers. She asked me to walk with her, and as we made our way to the porch, I note that the living room light is still on. Even with Paris, my mom still worries about me getting home on time and in one piece.

"How much was this house? I've never really thought about it, but everything about it is so nice. Quiet neighborhood, plentiful parking, old-style architecture, you even have a swing porch."

"Mom has a $125,000 mortgage with half already paid off," I say. "She saved almost every penny for the down payment from my birthday on, and when she fell in love with it, there was no going back, she wanted us out of the apartments in downtown. The couple who used to own this house moved to Florida, and we lucked out and got it somehow, they rejected all bids because they respected Mom so much." I look in awe at where my roof still is, seven years after we moved in. "Last year we had a termite invasion."

"I remember that, get that fixed?" We were still uneasy at the time the termites came, but she understood all about them since they invaded her father's ski cabin up in the Berkshires, forcing him to build anew.

"Oh yeah, everything's fine now, but my mom looks down at every step she takes on the porch from now on. It's an old house, but it's got so much, in memories and more than that. You could say it was the culmination of mine and Mom's dreams for us until we started looking at Harvard and her own inn, respectively."

"Doesn't she have the Independence?"

"She just runs it, what she really wants to do is own an inn, she has an MBA now so she could come closer to the dream with Sookie. It might not be here though, there's only one other appropriate building in town here that's sort of run down and old, and the owner doesn't want to sell. She tried last year, no luck."

"Well she ran a tight ship the night I was there, she'd be a good boss." Paris meant every word of what she said, I could tell from her relaxed body language. After the slow walk in the front yard, the time was almost up though. We were now on the porch and almost at the front door, and both of us felt that all the hours in the world weren't enough for us.

"This is it," I croaked out, trying to put off the fact Paris was about to leave me for the night. "The end."

"I know. I don't want it to be." She was just as sad about parting too. "This night just went way too fast."

"I wanted it to be slow." I wrapped my jacket tighter against me as a cool gust of wind blew towards the direction of the porch.

"Any other date and I'd be rushing away from you right now, relieved it's done. But I still feel a pull." The magnetism between us was just getting stronger by the day, and by the hour at that.

"You date well Par," I said. "I had a great time."

"Likewise." Close to the door, we gazed at each other one last time, as I drank her in. Her eyes reflected the happiness she's had of the evening, and her body isn't tight anymore, she seems more relaxed and at ease. The space between us is closer than we ever have been in a public place. "Did, um, did you, want to you know...call tomorrow, late afternoon? I mean if I don't pick up the phone I'm signed into iChat so you'll find me there too, or if that doesn't work and you're away and/or I am at the same time, there's the cell phone, my Blackberry, I have your portable IM address so I know I'll get a hold of you..."

I hushed her, and tried to get her over the bundle of nerves she had. "If you need to get a hold of me by string and can I'm sure we can work something out. You will hear from me tomorrow, whatever it takes." The unease was lifted, and she sighed audibly.

"Good Ror, I'm glad." She laughed a little nervously. "This is why I never won Ms. Congeniality, how do you put up with me for so long, I'm a wreck."

Because I like you, I thought right away in answer, maybe even love. I've been finding it harder and harder with each new meeting to keep the L word far away from us. I can't help it though, she just makes me want to fall for her, it's too easy to do. I smile and say that no matter what, I'll stay with her, no matter what.

Another check of the watch showed 12:30 approaching, so after Paris said a thank you to me, she started to have to rush away from me.

"I'm sure Lorelai wants you back, so I should go." Looking all around to make sure my mother's shadow isn't in the window, nor Babbette or Morey watching us from their house, she brings a hand up to her mouth, and kisses it. I watch in a trance as her fingertips brush against her luscious lips, and then she brings it back down her body. She then takes my hand and brushes the kissed fingers into my palm, stunning me with the romanticism of the gesture. It's so sweet as she releases my hand and then gives me her secret Mona Lisa smile only I seem to know.

"A kiss goodnight, my sweet." God, I love it. "You'll think of me tonight?" A nod on my end.

"As long I'm in your dreams." I look at her one last time as my hand meets the doorknob. "Goodnight Par." We break apart.

"Goodnight to you also Ror." She turned around, and we go our separate ways, the night now officially over for the both of us and my stomach in so many twists a Wisconsin Dells waterslide has nothing on my intestinal tract. I panted, the nearness of her getting to be like a drug for me. I wanted more time with her, to just run in the house and tell Mom we had layout work to do at the Manor overnight so I could have an excuse to be with Paris until I awoke tomorrow morning. Still, I let go and watch her walk back to her silver bullet of a car, the air of the New England midnight chilling me, but not cooling the afterglow of this entire date. I don't watch her depart this time however, choosing to go in the house to ease the pain of watching her drift further and further from me as she makes her way back north.

Not one date with Dean did I feel this way. My hand seemed to tingle from the kiss into a hand that she gave to me, the quaintness of our courting, a mix between the best of Victorian times and the modernity of two sudden lesbians drawn to each other making the whole situation something that was indescribable.

Going in the house, I don't stop at the coat hook, and head into the living room. Indeed, Mom is laying on the couch watching SNL, waiting for my arrival. She directs her eyes from the TV and towards me.

"Well, there she is," she said with a smirk. "Is Paris that demanding that she needed every minute of the evening?"

My mind spun into action, starting the white lie factory back into business. I hated this, really hated this. For now though, it had to be done. I could feel in my voice the lie like acid going through me. "The night went fine as far as research. As for actual material, forget it."

I sat next to her on the couch and spun the best yarn I could muster when I was on cloud nine from the evening just passed. Following Paris' cover story with Sharon, I made up something about the Wessons keeping us waiting with a boring game of bridge, and when they finally got to us, the interview had so few sparks or spontaneous moments that Paris was falling asleep from the deadly dull chronology of their Chilton careers. I put a spin on his senior prom description being so tedious that it would be the perfect lesson plan for a sex ed teacher to bring up celibacy.

I felt jumpy as I continued to rattle about this fake interview, and after about ten minutes of discussing it, I finally said that we ate Chinese up at Lady Sing's and then went home after that.

"It took that long for an interview?" Mom wondered. I nodded.

"Journalism is pain Mom. Sometimes you get the Dali Lama for hours, and other times you're forced to fill column space with the crazy cat lady from Seekonk. It's like your job, where you get a charity group one week, and then the Serial Killer Enthusiast Club Convention the next."

"Oh, don't remind me of that, Michel still isn't over the fangirls of Ted Bundy gushing over him. Last time I book a group based on initials alone." She laughs, and slowly changes the subject. "I can understand why you're so involved with stories lately. All the sudden though you're friends with Paris, close friends at that. Did this have something to do with Dean?"

I bit on my lip; she's trying to wear me down and get to the root cause of my sudden closeness. More aversion was needed. "Well Lane's been busy forming the band, and well...yes, I was having some doubts about Dean because I wasn't truly deeply in love with him anymore. Paris noticed, and at first I didn't want her help dealing with it. You don't understand how close we became over the summer, sharing that dorm room. We couldn't just clam up 24/7, there were times we had to talk. I didn't go into detail about it while we were down there, but occasionally we'd talk about guys, and without Lane, she became a sounding board. She might not understand relationships but she doesn't want to see my focus go down over a boy."

"But you come back, Lane is there and you can get back to normal with her." This annoyed me, since when was 'normal' talking to Lane and nobody else? I rolled my eyes and tried to explain the best I could why the closness with Par.

"Am I allowed to have a second best friend Mom, because Paris has been more of one than Lane lately. I match brains with her and I don't have to edit myself because Lane might find the topic dull. She's heard more than enough about Dean; she sees him everyday. Paris barely sees him and has no interest in bo...dating (almost let it slip out there accidentally, yikes!), and she understands that it's not the be all-end all of high school. I just feel comfortable with her lately, the sarcasm about him she has worked to ease out that pain I felt when I went ahead and dumped him. It gave me perspective, he's just a guy, and now he'll work, but in four years? I'll be off at Harvard juggling a Globe or WGBH internship while he's becoming Gypsy's apprentice."

"But you hated her last May when she put your hat in the race! Did you forget that?" Easily corrected and taken care of.

"I was annoyed that she did, but it gave me something to do, a goal to strive for, I never hated her decision. I had a great summer with her in Washington, and we came back here with an understanding that this rivalry is better the way we have it now, we barely even talk grades anymore and she crossed her heart she'd only monitor them weekly instead of daily."

"I know hon," she looked at me with concern, "I just don't want to see you abandon Lane for Paris, she would be devastated."

"We're still on good terms, she just hasn't felt the need to talk to me lately, I promise. I just want things with Paris and I to work out, being her enemy isn't something I'd like, you have to know that." I was just impassioned about how much I wanted to be close to Paris so much, trying to make Mom understand that this wasn't my descent into high society, cocktail parties and boring men with nothing to show for themselves but their name happening to be on a will with a nice dollar amount in front of it. "Paris doesn't want me to leave Lane either, she said she'd rather have a sliver of my friendship than none at all. But you have to understand, Chilton senior year? It's hell (the total truth). You see me; I don't come out of my room until at least eight each night. I have Franklin, student government, debate, and all these little other things to do, oh and don't forget the schoolwork. I can't talk to Lane about this. But Paris is there, in almost every single moment. As much as I wanted to, I couldn't ignore her, she has so much pain with her life and I'm her lifeline to stability. I'm not under all that much stress, but her? I have to be her friend. I want to be her friend. Without all this school crap on her plate, she is intense, yet fun to be with. I just wish you could understand that."

"Rory, dear--" I was starting to get a little unhinged, tired of Lorelai belittling her because Paris seemed like she needed to be on Zoloft. Finally, she decided to relent on what she used to say about her. "I'm sorry, I guess I'm still under the thinking that in two weeks you'll be at odds again, differing sides. I just never expected you to finally bite the bullet and befriend her fully."

"Well, I did," I said weakly. "I would appreciate it if you let up on the teasing. I've kind of checked with her, and she isn't a robot." I smiled, feeling like I was keeping some delicious knowledge from everyone else that against me, she felt so soft and tender. "Oh, and thank her for winning on Monday morning. I still didn't hear you say anything about that to her, we won it for you."

"I know," she sighed in resignation. "I'm just trying to let the picture sink in of Paris and you dancing for that long a time, and actually winning. I have to admit, you two are an OK team, and judging from the lack of damage or scars within your person, she's a safe driver too. I guess I'm a little resistant to change sometimes, especially when it comes to someone like Paris being your friend." She then apologized for everything she's said about my girl for the last two weeks. "However, I feel free to reserve mocking for something that's justified, say her bawling over a B-?"

Pretending to think for a moment, I accepted it. "I think she'll be fine with that. Thanks Mom."

"You're welcome." We hugged, and I felt a sense of relief that Paris and I would be accepted more as friends than originally thought. After some more time talking about how her night went (pretty good if you must know, except for Sookie unable to hold a little liquor), we sat down and watched the rest of SNL, even though by now we were at the lame part of the show. With Soul Train coming on after, it was my wakeup call to go to bed, and after wishing Mom a goodnight and sweet dreams, I headed to my bedroom, feeling much more calm than when I came out of it hours earlier.

I flopped onto my bed, turning on the CD clock radio to some music and curling up with a book, my mind not on either thing at all. Obviously, it was all on Paris and how close we've been lately. Kicking off my shoes, I look down at myself, my head propped on a pillow as I look towards the ceiling.

It's now twenty after one, and I don't want to change out of my dress and into PJs since the night has exhausted me so much. Never mind that it was such a great night, but that it exceeded what might have been a fine first date. We did the cute things, but we also both got a little aggressive. I surprised myself tonight with how much my feelings for Paris are starting to overwhelm me. For the first time since the Winter Formal in 2000 when I feel asleep with Dean on the mats, I'm starting to get the butterflies in my stomach, and the nervous feeling that I have to reel off and keep things in control.

This is much worse, because I see Paris for at least half of my day, if less than that. Before it was easy to stay in control of how I felt, because the Chilton uniform and her attitude never flattered her. After this evening, it's going to be that much tougher.

She looked so damned hot, I recall, the picture of her in the tight sweater and leather skirt something that's replacing her usual authoritarian guise in my head. I saw her being kind and happy for herself for once, glad to have my company. I just don't know anymore if when 7:40am comes and we walk through the Chilton doors, I can handle her having to be antagonistic to keep up the charade that we hate each other.

Bittersweet is how it feels to be me right now. I'm in love with a girl who is my compatible equal, but not too compatible that's she's boring. But no one knows that at all, except the two of us. Because if they did they would immediately frown on it and tell us to break up. Me for someone like a Jess or a Dean, her for a guy with several surnames, a roman numeral in his name, and the sexual prowess of a sloth. I just want to say to someone else that I like her, but who the hell do I trust besides Miss Patty? My peer circle is small enough as it is, and everyone in this town lives on gossip. Chilton runs on rumors and secrets in turn. How do I confess to someone, anyone, that I'm a lesbian, without them shunning me and becoming distant because it's a lifestyle choice that's frowned on by all others? I mean what's so different about it, I'm kissing a girl, that's all, nothing else. I'm not doing anybody any harm, and frankly I don't need some know-it-all religious scholar pointing out that it's not in God's plans for me to be the way I am. Love knows no boundaries, they might say, but that's always suffixed by except if you want someone of your own sex, then punch your ticket downstairs! I know I'm a good person, and I work hard to be good, what does it matter that I like a girl?

Maybe I need a therapist like Dr. Birnbaum, I don't know. I just have so many expectations and it's so hard to stay in line with them lately when the only thing I want to think about is Paris giving me release and mounds of sweet nothings to mull over. I could call her right now, but it's too soon, and she has to be way too happy about the date to have self-doubts like I do. No need to stress her out, and certainly there's no need to build up the anxiety I have about this right now.

You had a good night Rory, I remind myself as I slip out of my dress, taking out an old worn tank top from my dresser to sleep in. There's an urge to get myself off, so I decide to go without bottoms. Still though I can probably wait to wind myself down like that; I'm wound up but I can handle not having release for a little while longer.

It was a great date, and Paris proved herself to be perfect dating material after all. I think of this already as a day I can recount when I grow old as perfect. All the roadblocks that got in our way were easily quashed, and she proved herself to be quite the sweetheart and romantic that was lurking within her. Going out with her now is not going to be boring; I can feel it inside.

Feeling nostalgic after only such a short period of time, I reach into my purse and take out the pair of chopsticks from Lady Sing's I kept, and the Femme Fatale ticket stub. I could already feel time shift back five hours to the both of us sitting in the restaurant, watching each other eat as the talking went on and on without any stopping. My fingers run along the exquisite wood, and in my mind I can feel my hands as weight down on Paris' as I try to teach her how to eat. That was cute, I recall, her frustration like a seven year-old so funny to watch from someone with an air of sophistication usually surrounding her.

Already though, I have an idea to remind her when she comes to pick me up on Monday morning, another secret shared between us only. I'm smirking as I think of look that would cross her face as I came out of the diner with these chopsticks tied into the back of my hair, something I would do only for her as a hint, for provocation. I could ask her to come a bit early and share some breakfast, and then when we departed, I'd find a secret spot off the side of the road where we could have privacy, just her and I all alone as I encourage her closer, asking her for some passionate things. Maybe have her massage my scalp and undo the chopsticks so that the bun I'd put them in would be released and she could bring me closer to her and just show how much she deeply cares for me and my company, in more than academic ways...

My imagination is so vivid lately, I love it! Now I must do it, just for the priceless reaction for when she comes into the diner and has to keep her mouth shut as she clenches her teeth and desires to pull the sticks from my hair. Everyone else might think of me as the naïve bookworm, but I'm really going to show Par how much I think about her, what she's doing and that I want this thing we have to go way beyond one date. My chips are in the pot, I'm risking it all on a Tajikistani Political History question response in Final Jeopardy!, I'm spinning for the dollar when I already have 95¢ on the Big Wheel from my first go. Whichever game show analogy you use, my heart is totally with Paris now, and I just hope she realizes how much more that I want her after tonight's successful date...

To be continued...

Hand Down the Cookie Jar, Caught With Her Shirt Down Nate

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