Title: Longing With a Cherry Tomato on Top | Chapter Twelve | Hand Down the Cookie Jar, Caught With Her Shirt Down

Author: Nate

Pairing: Paris/Rory, Paris POV

Spoilers: Closer towards A Deep Fried Korean Thanksgiving, though none of the episode events are mentioned in this set of chapters.

Rating: R (swearing, sexual actions and allusions, some violence in a flashback scene, nudity); FF.net version not edited.

Disclaimer: Despite all these reviewers thinking that I'm very close to Liza because of my devotion to her, I can't claim the characters, for they belong to Amy Sherman-Palladino through Dorothy Parker Drank Here Productions, Hofflund-Polone and Warner Bros. Television. If I did however, Paris? A little more settled down than she is this season, and the safe word would be 'coffee', uttered by a certain brunette in the heat of the fight ;). If I can thank ASP for anything, it's for finally working around the fact that Liza has a chest and letting her do stunts. You might also find a last-second reference to something Paris also alluded to as her worst fear from that same ep, it was sort of inspired by something that happened to me at school when I was young, that they had to take down a skeleton picture hanging in the hall for Halloween because I went into full-on freaked over it. Thus, that scene, figures I'm such a scaredy-cat.

Montblanc pens are from Montblanc Int'l. GmbH. Parke-Davis is now within Pfizer Corporation; I use the name here in a historical and fictional sense. Seventeen is now a Hearst magazine, though in 2002, it was owned by Primedia. All other trademarks within are the property of their respective owners.

Movie/TV refs - Care Bears, Those Characters from Cleveland/American Greetings; Jem, Hasbro and Marvel; Wizard of Oz, MGM/Turner/Warner Bros.; Willie Wonka, Paramount/Warner Bros.; Switchblade Sisters, Miramax.

Archiving: GilmoreGirlsSlash, Realm of the Shadow, RalSt, femslash.net (if it comes back), aff.net and ff.net. Anywhere else ask first.

Summary: Rory decides to use another academic cover to bring Paris into something romantic and cute on a school night, however they both have some explaining to do when someone they hope wouldn't find out until they were ready catches the both of them in a guilty position. It's time to confess and hope for the best from this person, and we watch Paris as she tries to keep Rory's heart.

Author's Notes: Everyone who's read this story and has been kind enough to drop me a line telling me you read and love this story? You're the best; I'm just a guy in Wisconsin writing for fun, and I never expected the reaction that this story has had, up to and including reading parties with chapter printouts from what some of you have told me (blushes). It's just a little story, and I'm just proud to write Paris and Rory in a way that is reverent and deserving of these characters personalities. Some of you are going to be disappointed I only got 25,000 words in this chapter; but we're back to the split Paris/Rory POVs here, so I hope that this will suffice. Your printer should be relieved though.

Again, thank you to everyone who has read the story; Erin for her betaing, and Balti for her betaing and encouragement, and Amy again for continuing to put up with me as much as I do her ;). Thanks to RalSt and Rachel for embracing the story the way you have, and for the speedy posting of Chapter 11 once I got it in. Again, I call for Raven and Cinn to come back soon, I miss both of you so much, but you are still remembered by me, no matter what. Thanks to Raves for her suggestion that I add a bit of daydreaming where it really could be use; I hope you enjoy the scene that I wrote.

FF.net'ers, do I have to say it? For a twelfth time? Fine, you pulled my leg...femslash, don't like, please read elsewhere. Again, I encourage any feedback, positive or negative, I live for the stuff and the suggestions that come with it, and I'm not looking for a certain number because I'm just glad to read the hit numbers in my user profile.

I'm definitely not known as a troublemaker.

That statement defines who I am and how I feel I need to come off. I don't mean it in the academic sense however, that's probably what you're thinking, given the history I have of trying to stay atop Chilton's pecking order and keep Rory from overtaking me. I mean in general, I try to stay away from trouble and the consequences that come with it. That means staying away from the gossip circles and behaving like the good girl Sharon has expected me to be, ever since the first hint she had of me as a toddler having advanced motor and critical thinking skills.

Besides that, being bothersome has one major side effect, and that's spending time away from the books and falling behind on my schoolwork. You know that one day I fall behind I'm sure to have an aneurism from getting off track.

There's also the matter of my mother's punishments when I was child. I got in Daddy's study once when I was four for example. Dog days of summer, not much to do because Sharon was too paranoid to let me near a pool despite the begging and pleading of my father and Francisca. "What if she has an ear infection?" she'd whine at them, and even if their response was they'd have a lifeguard on staff ready to jump in when I struggled, I couldn't swim because of her. So I was left to wander the mansion during a relieving 'recess' from a tutor Sharon had hired for me over the summer, and I snuck away from Nanny when she wasn't looking. I made a beeline for the study and his desk, where a $1000 Montblanc desk set sat at the edge, two pens, calling to me to use them for expressing myself.

"I'm gonna draw a doggie!!" I said to myself excitedly (making my inner adult at the time cringe), running into the room and then taking a spin on the big leather chair where he sat. I grabbed one of the pens from the set, and started to draw on the first piece of paper that I could find.

Being four however, how was I supposed to know that the paper I used to draw my malformed canine was a national Parke-Davis distributor's contract that had been hard fought by my father to win and took four days of wining and dining to convince the owner to sign? It was paper, paper was meant to be drawn on, and draw I did. First on the paper, and then when I got bored, on myself. I drew my name on one arm, and then some squiggles all over the expensive blouse Mother bought me for an outing we would have later on in the evening. Once I found out the pen could be disassembled and there was a lot of ink contained within the cartridge, I was gone. I broke it open, played with the ink inside and spread it all over the place, the contract, the blotter, along the sides of my skirt and blouse, and into my hair and all over my face. I never admitted it, but I liked being messy playing with that pen. Dare I say it, drawing the picture and being all inky was fun.

However, Mother saw it a completely different way. She was walking around the Manor looking for me after trying to tear Fran up because she wasn't paying full attention to me, and when she passed the door and saw me inside with pen ink all over me, she was livid.

"PARIS EUSTACHIA GELLAR!! What the hell do you think you're doing?" Her eyes popped out and she sneered at me like the wicked stepmother in Cinderella.

Even then, I was a wise-ass, playing cute and coy. "Daddy and I don't believe in Hell Mommy, we're Jewish, remember?"

Angry, she whipped across the room, and started giving me a lesson I'd never forget. "I'll teach you to give me lip young lady, you don't play with your father's office supplies."

"But I drew you a doggie picture--"

SLAP!! Right across my face as I tried to give her a gift of my love. I can still feel the sting of that first slap to this day, her sharp-tipped nails scraping across my cheek and the impact of the heel of her hand burning through the skin to make me wail in pain. She then grabbed at my wrist, leaving me little time to react between that slap and the start of my crying.

"I thought I told you that you would study today," she reminded me, her hand wrapped around my wrist so tight I thought I could feel the bone curve unnaturally. "You aren't supposed to be drawing, that's not for kids like you. Go read Ivanhoe, you have Mr. Cullen testing you on that Friday."

"But I wanna go swimming!!" I cried as I was forcibly dragged from the room.

"You can't swim!"

"You don't know that Mommy!" I held the contract tight in my hand, and when she saw it, she got even more livid.

"What the fuck is this you little whippersnapper?" She grabbed it out of my hand and looked at the formerly legal document. "I hope you know what you've just done."

Of course I didn't know, hello, four-year-old. I was crying, the pain from her gripping my wrist numbing my hand because of cut-off circulation. "I'm sorry, I'll make it good, don't hit me--"

She slaps me again, this time on the other cheek. "Your father is going to kill me, thanks a lot. You know he can't get this contract resigned without another meeting!" She dragged me kicking and screaming into my bedroom, and then threw me hard against the footboard of the bed. "Get on the bed and lift your skirt. NOW!"

Please don't, please, pretty please? I knew what she was about to do, seeing as I heard about it from Louise after she got into her mom's Chanel No. 5. Only Mrs. Grant didn't spank Louise very hard and she did it with the pants or skirt on. I was mortified, embarrassed, but still defiant. I flopped onto the bed and crossed my arms over my chest, lowering my lip and pouting.

"NO!" I said through my tears, "You can't make me!"

"I most certainly can. I brought you into this world, and I can take you out of it!" I think you should probably know at this point there was a half-liter of Stoli, along with 3 rum-and-Tabs in her. Yeah, big shocker there, my mom an alcoholic.

"Get your ass out here now and take your lickin'!" I pushed even deeper on the bed, trying to stay away from her and sighing in relief that her precious heirloom breakables surrounded it. We eyed each other up like boxers, my face stung on both sides, a deep bruise muddied by the ink of the pen at the wrist-hand junction. I wasn't going down without a fight. I hid beneath my blankets, keeping up a struggle as she tore the sheets away from me and onto the floor. She tugged hard at my leg, so hard that she got my shoe and sock off in one try. I screamed out loud for Daddy and Fran, desperate to get out of the situation. "MOMMY'S HURTING ME!! HELLLP!!" Another swipe at me that just barely missed.

"You're gonna be grounded if you don't let me punish you," she screamed like a banshee. She found herself on the other side of the bed, it was time to make my move. I jumped off the bed and slid under, starting to hear the pitter-patter of Allen Edmonds wingtips and work shoes coming towards my bedroom. Both Daddy and Nanny arrived at the same time, wondering what the ruckus was.

"Sharon, what on Earth are you doing terrorizing Paris?" Daddy asked, his voice seething.

"She was playing with your stuff on the desk, she needs to be punished. You should look at her, she's covered up in pen."


"That was my Passover gift to you dear, that cost me a pretty penny."

Yeah, his pennies, I thought, already onto the fact of her 'snuck loans' from Harold's bank account. "That's no cause to punish her, she's a kid--"

"She ruined your contract, look at this!" Peeking out from under the bedskirt scared for my life, I watched her hand the paper to him. I was expecting them to tag-team me on a spanking.

Instead, he laughed. "Aww, look Francisca, she drew a dog. Not much of a dog, sort of a Dalmatian from the smudges, but it's very cute." He handed the paper to the woman who was really raising me, and she smiled too. "Your daughter is very creative, sir," she said in her then heavy Portuguese accent.

Mother looked at them incredulously. "She broke your pen, you shouldn't be rewarding this Harold. She needs to learn a lesson that it's not OK to play around with other people's things."

"Nonsense, she's fine. It's a pen, I can always get another one, and we can always get another outfit for her. A bath and a refrigerator magnet holding this up on the fridge, and little Par will be good as new." I watch him seem to roll his eyes at her. "As for the contract, this was my own personal copy; you haven't heard of carbon paper? The office has the original, I'd never bring that home myself."

"Still, the principle of the matter--"

"Is that Paris is creative, better that than drilled to death in those ridiculously boring sessions you force her in." Smiling, he bent down and began to overrule all the punishment Mother had tried to dole out. "Dear, you can come out, no one will hurt you anymore."

"Are you sure?" I asked timidly.

"The only thing you need to do is change into your robe, bring your clothes downstairs, and then head for the bathtub. I just want you to know that if you need to draw again, Fran can provide you paper, pencils, pens or crayons, Daddy's desk in his office is his drawing table and he needs it clean."

"Mommy won't bruise me anymore?" I was freaked out at her getting back at me. I pushed out from under the bed, and the dark red slap marks and bruises were very clear as he tenderly brought me out to try to keep the pain from flaring up.

"She certainly won't or else, will she Nanny?" His voice was gruff and demanding, accusatory against my mother. She reeled back, knowing that causing me any more harm was on the level of him cheating on him. It would be an unforgivable offense, something that would make him give up his love for her.

"I will not let her, I know how to keep little Par well-behaved without this violence sir. Mistress Gellar, I'm appalled by your handling of the situation, you know much better than that." The both took a look at me and tried to keep some built up laughing to themselves at my dog picture, which was annoying Mother to no end. This was supposed to be her chance to shine and make a difference, but I couldn't look her in the eye anymore. She had harmed me, and it would take a couple of months for her to get back into my good graces.

"Can't I ground her? She destroyed your office set!" she whined. My father shook his head and asked me to take Nanny's hand.

"Honey, just let it go, it's a pen." I brought my gaze to Mother, who actually seemed disappointed that she couldn't punish me. Her stature was strained, face neutral, but more curved towards thinking of me as a pain in the ass. I still wanted to make things right though.

"I'm sorry Mommy, I won't do it ever, ever again." I meant every word of my apology, because I certainly never wanted to be hurt like that in the future.

Her hazel eyes were cold towards me, and for the first time I saw that I had disappointed her, that she was angry because she couldn't play the mother role she never knew well.

"God, whatever, do what you want. I have to call the florist for the Jaycees ball next week." She began to stomp out of the room and I asked her what was happening with the outing from later.

"You should've thought of that before you got all messy dear." She left the room, and a collective sigh could be heard from Daddy and Fran, though I was sad because she was abandoning me.

"Paris, chip up," Daddy said, lifting me into his arms and putting a kiss on the top of my head. "She's just a little mad right now, she'll be over it soon. You can call Lou over and watch Care Bears and Jem videos after your bath if you'd like."

"Really?" Just like that the trouble I was in was forgotten. "Nanny, can we have popcorn and juice too?"

"Anything you'd like dear, now let's get you cleaned up." With that, the pen incident became but yet another anomaly in the history of my life.

At this point though, it became hammered into my head to expect the worse possible punishment when it came to getting into trouble, so I did my best to stay out of it. Here and there Sharon managed to catch me doing something bad and doled out her own sentence with her words and her hands, until that point when I was ten and my father caught her in the act of slapping my hand with a backscratcher because Louise and I got into her vanity and makeup. It's gone down considerably since then, but I'm still scared to death to get myself into a pickle, lest Sharon find out and tell me I don't deserve my last name and that I'm a shame to her family.

Why do I bring this entire tale of a pen and a mess up here at this point? I'm mortified to say anything, but thus I will, confession is said to be good for the soul, no matter how much you want to keep what you have to say inside.

It's just too bad that confession had to come so suddenly. I'm still trying to wrap myself around the fact that what Rory and I have is no longer a covenant between only the two of us, with vague details going to Ms. LaCosta here and there to keep her posted. What happened has only given me a better respect for the safeguard that is the locked door.

For as of now, Rory's mother knows that we are romantically involved. I'm in their living room, sitting next to Rory with a stinging swoon in my stomach, the both of us looking at Lorelai as she tries to summon up the strength to accept us for who we are, and Rory for who she now is in general. Ninety minutes before I felt like I did once Mother discovered me playing with that pen in the study thirteen years ago, guilty and scared for my life, freaked because with just a few well-placed words, Lorelai could decide she doesn't want me anywhere near her daughter and forbid me from seeing her ever again. Sure, the talk before this was soothing, but you don't know...

Actually, you don't. I better start describing what led to this point, it's quite a tale that you cannot accept without filled in blanks in quite a few places.

The relationship I had with Rory has been doing about as good as it can be under the hidden circumstances and mountains of excuses used to be close together. After the successful date last Saturday night, Sunday was spent on both our ends catching up on schoolwork and Franklin stories. We both decided to trade notes via instant messaging, thinking phone-to-phone would stress out our anytime minutes, and that our private thoughts would remain just that, hers contained in the blue shell of her iBook, mine inaccessible through 128-bit PGP encryption.

We ended up talking online until about eleven o'clock, when I had to force myself away from the keyboard because of tired eyes. All of our work was finished, and after nine we were chatting about just things, the vague things that excite the both of us, public television documentaries, opera and the like. It felt good to be able to know she wouldn't roll her eyes if I ever took her on a day outing up to Boston for a museum tour. I also loved how much she wanted the IMAX dome format to stay in the domain in documentaries and stay away from big box office films being shown on the tall, 72 foot screen. It wasn't one of those Madeline-like conversations where every other word was just one letter and in a rebus code that I could barely make out (CU L8r? Coup labor? What on earth was she trying to say?), the lines just kept filling up and up, and about the only thing that would tip the log from being academic were the occasional kiss smilies and 'roses' she'd send my way in a moment here and there. I know nothing of this net-talk, so I'd type out 'accepts rose' and feel like a weirdo typing it out. Somehow I think a trip to the bookstore for a book specializing in this new foreign language will be needed.

The last week in school also wasn't that easy. I showed some more caution throughout the week, while at the same time trying to ramp up the innuendo to a higher level, the both of us. There was something involving her putting the chopsticks she ate with at Lady Sing's Monday morning in her hair, and my making a detour to a forest preserve near Chilton so I could play with her hair and make out with her before school. God, I should be slapping myself for being so off-focus lately, especially because the first thought when I walked into Luke's and saw her hair in a bun wrapped around the sticks was I want to leave a mark on that pale neck of hers. Remembering how I ran my fingers against her neck, and her moans of approval drove me further into a funk that's getting harder to crawl out of every day.

Then we cut to Wednesday afternoon in the student government meeting, when Francie wanted to have all of us sell fashion magazines instead of chocolate and candy for fundraising. "Seventeen and Primedia offered us a double match on each subscription contract we can get," she would tell us, and for a moment I actually thought of going ahead with the plan.

"Alright Jarvis." Rory started her argument sweetly, and I thought nothing about it, this is complacent Rory we're talking about here. No way would she hit below the belt.

"I guess you can be the one to ask all the men of Chilton, and the football, baseball, basketball, soccer teams 'Hi, I'm with Chilton's student government and I'd like to offer you America's #1 magazine for the best in fashion, shopping, and sex tips for the teenage girl, along with the occasional real-life drama piece. You'll only pay $9.95 for a year of the best photoshoots of your favorite male celebrities, like Brad Pitt, Orlando Bloom, and Andy Roddick.' Because you know, guys find other guys and the best savings on a peasant blouse and the reddest lipstick so dreamy." Her voice went from kind in the beginning to a rough snarl. Her look towards Francie was like something I never saw before, a fiery hate, one that was totally different from when her and I ended up in an argument together. She then went on to say there were quite a few girls in the school that would take offense to being offered such a magazine, like the jockettes and the cliques into darker things like Gothism or cars.

Francie bit her tongue, and struggled for something to say; how do you exactly respond to being dressed down by Miss Nice like that? "Well, uh, er...I don't know. I just thought..."

"That's your problem, you didn't think over the idea at all. We'd lose half of our fundraising if we went with it!"

"What about if we offered Maxim or a comic book, Sports Illustrated--" Again, Rory was ready to cut her down.

"Nice job, cutting down guys to wanting only two things, sex and sports. Why don't you just offer Playboy and cut out the middleman?" My thought at that moment? Anger and Rory make a good combination, fuck. Nice job dressing down Jarvis, that is just, whoa! The boys sitting at the table laughed, one of them making an off-hand comment that they would buy if Francie was the centerfold. No, not a thought I needed in my head. Though it did make me think of Rory on the bearskin rug pouting at the camera...

"But I was just suggesting--"

"Suggest better next time, the idea needs much more work, wouldn't you agree Paris?" She moved her gaze towards me, and she smiled at me in the way that melted my heart. Just what I didn't need, being reduced to a lovesick pile of goo in my most important Chilton chairmanship, my heart is definitely softening around her.

I nodded and gave the lamest agreement ever in my student government career. "Yeah, needs more work."

Francie looked defeated, and slumped down into her seat, embarrassed by being outwitted by Rory. "Uh, just table it then, I didn't do enough research on the idea obviously. Sorry for wasting your time on this." She shirked down in her seat and for the rest of the meeting, Francie and Rory exchanged dirty looks, sighing whenever one had the opportunity to speak up. I couldn't seem to get the reason for this sudden antagonism against her out of Rory at all on the way home, no matter the tactic I used to get an answer out.

"It's nothing, she's just being Francie, you know she gets off on flustering those she could never beat. Anyways I was right about the idea cutting out half our revenue from fundraising, wasn't I?"

"Yes," I agreed, "but you don't usually tell someone their idea is dumb because they didn't think it out."

"My mom taught me to speak my mind, and that's how I called it. I'm sorry if you hated it hon."

"I didn't hate it," I admitted. "I like it when Francie gets taken down a peg, I just never expected it from someone other than me or Charleston."

I watched her smile as she placed her hand along my knee, something which soothed me. "I'm just trying to defend your agenda, trying to give you a break once in awhile. I'm learning from you and I just can't help it, Francie blamed the both of us for her undoing when it was her stupidity of leaving a note next to her locker a janitor found on the ground tipping the administration off to the bell ceremony. That and I can't understand how she got the senior chair, I chose Thomas Hammond and you did too."

"You don't know?" After five months you think she would've known. "Hammond gave his votes to Francie after they had a meeting of the minds." I'm such a prudish gossip, I know, but I don't even want to imagine what that redhead does to maintain her popularity.

"A meeting?" Rory seemed innocent at first, and it took a sly nod of my head for her to get it. "Oh, that kind of meeting." Cringing, she shuddered at the thought of those two 'meeting'. "Now I know why she seemed a little glowy in her thank you speech."

"Wasn't from the sun, that's for sure."

"How'd you find out, you don't usually gossip."

"Madeline let me know with a promise not to reveal and embarrass Tom."

"Oh, then I won't tell," she promised, relaxing into the seat. "I have a better secret to keep anyways."

Funny she would say that, because keeping our secret was starting to get tougher. Later that evening was an early visit with Dr. Birnbaum (she's pretty much on call if I feel the need to talk as long as she has 48 hours notice, and I really needed to talk), and like I promised Rory when I freaked out last week in Russian Novels, I decided to confess, though through a tougher track full of leading questions that made my therapist understand deeply why I was falling for a girl. It took two hours to get through the session, an hour longer than usual, and several times I actually ended up breaking down as I let the trusted woman advise me on what to do next, begging her not to say anything. She said she wouldn't, and the poor woman is such a dear for having to put up with my worst ever since I fell into a deep funk after the abrupt end of my dance career.

Dr. Birmbaum gave me her word that what is said in her office stays in her office, and I know from experience she doesn't even talk about work at all when she's off the clock. She really understood where I was coming from, and it was one of the most intense sessions that I've ever had with her as I voiced doubts about Mother cottoning to me being a lesbian. It's always been tough talking about my mother, but suddenly with that influence suddenly gone because of Mohegan Man and his distractions, I feel freer to talk things out, be it with Rory or Birmbaum. It's better knowing they won't say anything than to go to Louise and pray it stays between us.

I couldn't talk to Rory over the weekend because the Inn had a rare Saturday/Sunday two wedding combo she had to help Lorelai out with, while I had a Daughters of the Civil War commitment to fulfill on both Saturday and Sunday. I hate DCW, not the actual organization, but how my mother has turned it from philanthropy and service, into her own personal clique that froze out the older and more respected members of the organization in Hartford, and brought it into a shadow of what it used to be. There have been rumors of the branch having to declare bankruptcy because my mother is spending more money than they're bringing in from all the events they sponsor because they're in this lame competition with the DAR for society page supremacy.

It was hard to get through those two days; Vance Beardsley III was helping me out and kept looking at my chest like my eyes were actually there each time he passed. I ignored him the best I could and took comfort in the few texts Rory sent to my cell saying she was still thinking of me through the chaos of her weddings. I could only grin and bear it through it all, thinking of Rory in the purple gown she was wearing for the Sunday wedding, and how beautiful in my thoughts she would look wearing it. Several times one of the DCW ladies had to get my attention to fall out of my daydreaming, and the activities of the weekend because a slow drudge to today, when finally I would have my Rory back again.

Thank goodness for Harvard, for it brought us back together again this afternoon after Franklin work. The Academic Trinity is coming up; the three things that will define where Rory and I will be in August. The SAT, the ACT, and all the various interviews for each college, they're all important, and after having a dream where I bombed during my Harvard interview last night, I thought it a good idea to ask Rory for some help with some rehearsed questioning lines I had written out.

"I've been thinking the same," she admitted, turned on to the great idea of us comparing and toning our answers to be appropriate. "When I was with the Springsteens they suggested I make sure my questions were tuned to the admissions director, and someone should help me out. I tried it with Mom, and well, you can only imagine how that went." She half-smiled and sighed.

"Three minutes before her James Lipton impression came in?" I guessed.

"I really can't see the AD asking what my favorite curse word is."

"Me either." I smiled, able to have a familiar face besides Fran (or Louise's lame Basic Instinct strategy) to help me out with the interview practice. "So the house is all yours?"

Rory nodded, and though my first thoughts were of how we could use that alone time in other ways other than rehearsal, I pushed them back in my head. Stop you, I told my inner self, you can handle a situation like this, it's completely academic. Just focus, you have to get into Harvard, so do this without thinking of her in that way at all. No matter what, I had to go into Rory's house thinking like Paris Gellar, classmate and Harvard valedictorian of 2007, and not Par-Bear, the girl who's letting herself go because this girl likes me in more than a normal way.

Keeping on the tracks was easier said than done. We stopped at my house so I could change clothes on the way, and I noticed that Rory was more of a flirt than she usually has been when I changed clothes in my bedroom from my uniform and into a loose pair of jeans and a sweater. I went into my closet to change, being a little uncomfortable with her watching me undress.

"Come on, why do you have to wear a sweater hon?" she whined as she checked her email on my Mac. "It's not like anyone else will notice, we're just going to my house."

"I'm adverse to cold," I replied, telling the truth...somewhat. Truth was I knew what would happen if I came out in something flattering to my body, I'd end up distracted because Rory's eye contact wouldn't be focused on my face, it would be elsewhere. I had to keep the night innocent, no matter how much it pained me. This is our futures we're practicing for, and you wouldn't want the AD to interview you to have more notes about your attire than personality, would you?

I came out, and she smiled as she wrapped herself around me for a kiss. It's still a shock to know that Rory isn't looking at me as just competition anymore. She nuzzled her nose against my forehead, beckoning me onto tip-toe to kiss her. I blush, her hand brushing a stray hair in front of my left eye, tangled between eyelashes.

"No hairspray for you," she noted, her hands threading through my locks in a soothing manner. "That's just so luxurious." She kisses me again.

"Rory, we have to get going," I beg, flattered by her attention but wanting to get into the fake interview frame of mind. The cute tone of voice I use betrayed my conveyance that I needed to focus. "Stop it, we have time for that later."

"But you look so good," she complimented. "and cute, and...frustrating. God, I wish we had a study hall together, I just had an urge this afternoon to..." she wrung her hands and gritted her teeth. "...just spend time alone with you."

"You can forget it Gilmore, I'm not a broom closet kind of gal." I smirked and pulled myself away from her, trying to tease and snap her back to attention. "No one ever uses the elevator though except the crutches kids, but I have key privileges."

"Aw man, just my luck that I have a fear of being scared of being stuck in the elevator." Souring her face, Rory shook her head. "But you're right, we focus on Harvard. Crimson runs through our veins, we have to ace our interviews and prove those seminar idiots wrong." She got serious finally and helped me with my messenger bag. "This is me not distracted by you and 100% hyperfocused, let's go."

I rolled my eyes at her, wondering how she could turn it on and off so fast. "Peculiar girl from a peculiar town," I rattled off beneath my breath, meaning it more as a compliment than a wisecrack. We left my bedroom and headed downstairs for the Jag for the rest of the journey back to the Hollow.

The focus was on our interview scripts as we set up in the Gilmore kitchen, her on one side, with me on the other. Her script wasn't in the style I expected, it was more of a crib notes style than written out with focused answers. I thought this would detract from a clear and concise response to whatever I did ask playing AD, but I was surprised to see her think on her feet with each question and do an ad-lib on almost all I tested her on. For example, when I asked her opinion on why her slot should go to someone in a public school with all AP classes and most grades being double Honors credit, she thought on her feet and came up with a monologue about how her experiences in a small town high school with limited curriculum and fewer opportunities to build up her grades helped her work on more extra credit projects than a normal student would do. She then pointed out that to this day she continues to do all extra credit, test aced or no, and does her best to find opportunities for extra work wherever she can find it.

"OK," I acknowledged. "Let's say that your admissions director doesn't think that a good enough response. What are you going to tell me to change my mind about this? For all I know you're just doing this extra credit mechanically, without heart."

"I would point you to my references, and my list of achievements within Stars Hollow," she pointed out. "I've been helping this town with almost everything for years and years, from decorations for town events, I was Trick or Treat for UNICEF leader for my zip code, at age eleven I might mention. My many suggestions through the Gazette about how the town could be improved to be cooler for kids, like taking out the director of the youth center who still thinks it's 1972 and all teens want to do is play ping-pong and air hockey. I would add video games, a paint job to hip up the place, and maybe ask for donations from several town organizations, more dances, maybe some new sports equipment. A student taking all AP's and Honors is trying way too hard and just exhausting themselves by doing nothing but that and extra credit. I need to take the occasional regular class because I need to be a well-rounded student and know everything that I can possibly know. I want to be flexible if I get a position on the Crimson, who wants to be stuck doing the crime blotter and calendar of events because all they know is what the school gossip tells them? I want to be out there reporting on a student protest, not a lame feature on bracelets and the form of sexual activity the color you wear denotes."

I was blown away and impressed; ever since that dumbass of an AD told her Hillary Clinton was overdone, she's worked on her answers to make them perfect. She's a shoo-in at this point based on this practice alone.

"Gilmore," I ask, "do you ever breathe? I swear that WPM is faster than mine these days. John Moschitta just called, he's putting out a Mob hit on you because of your word speed."

We looked at each other longingly, and she was glad I had noticed that her words were coming out faster than they were last year. She had taken my rough advice to heart and without so much as one beat, explained why she should get into Harvard. The simpatico shared was becoming overwhelming, and a flash in my mind of her in the Times newsroom setting her fellow colleagues straight as she helps breaks a story that might bring down a corrupt government or renew the drive of a moribund head of state. Her shyness is long gone, in its place that of a strong leader, ready to question instead of keeping her complacency.

I want her to be strong, not only for me, but for herself. No matter the Amanpour prestige she dreams of, she's not going anywhere except the ET newsroom as the replacement for when Mary Hart's million dollar legs finally show varicose veins if she keeps her question lines light, her reports uncritical, giving concessions to the interview subject just to get the story. It would be a failure to see her as any less from the Franklin than a perfect writer, and a perfect student in addition.

After another fifteen minutes drilling her in the questions she wanted me to ask her, we moved on to her being the interviewer as I answered the usual battery of interview questions. I was quick on my feet with the first ten or twenty, able to rattle off my opinion or party line with each response like I had a psychic connection into Rory's psyche. It wasn't challenging, which surprised me. I made the questions so that I could be challenged by what my own brain brought up, and it felt so dull and tedious. After the nineteenth rote answer, I felt like my answers were average, neither too exciting, nor too awful.

I didn't want that, I'm more than average. I should be orating like Stephen Douglas and Abraham Lincoln combined, but in this questioning I was barely up to the level of a Warren G. Harding. How would Harvard be impressed by these boring answers? There was no fire starting beneath me, and because of Rory's kind voice, I felt taken out of the usual cultured and strict authoritarianism that would come from an average AD.

Somehow I felt out of my element, and held back on stronger answers so Rory wouldn't become mad at me. When she asked me what my opinion on school vouchers was, I weakly responded by arguing the church/state connection between them was tenuous at best and the fact that the religious school accepting the vouchers could always make a promise not to put any of their beliefs within curriculum.

I pissed myself off when she asked the important Darwinism/Creationism debate question that formed many a quandary. I believe in Darwinism myself (and it is taught in Chilton), but there is a higher power up there that could've given the world a little nudge towards life and such. But I couldn't apply that to a religious school in my argument, and I tried constructing an argument from it that would sound impressive to him or her.

Instead, I ended up stressed, forgetting what I had to say. Not by Rory's cause I must note, her clothes weren't that distracting and she was quite neutral as she asked me the questions. That became the pattern, and I felt like I was totally off my game. A theory on one thing that might have sounded good on paper or a digital recording of myself wouldn't pass muster with the one man or woman I needed to continue my pre-destined future.

"Come on," Rory asked when I got stuck on a question about Harvard traditions. "You know this Par."

"I don't," I said desperately. "I guess I'm overstressed right now, my mind hasn't been on all Harvard lately and it's thrown off my track."

Bless her heart, instead of being offended, she noticed how stressed I was feeling, with my shoulders tight, posture straight-arrow, my eyes strained from reading. I had looked at these questions 2,000 times, and the answers started blurring into my head.

"Are you OK?" she asked, her voice light.

I nodded that I was, but admitted to wanting to lie down on the cursed couch to recharge my batteries for a few minutes.

"I have a better idea," she said, and without revealing what exactly she had in mind. "Let's move into the bedroom and work on it, lying on my bed might be more relaxing than these chairs." Gathering up her books and supplies, Rory went to her bedroom, and my thinking was it really would be more relaxing in her warm, familiar bedroom. I followed her inside, bringing only the scripts and sitting next to her on the bed.

I was willing to try anything to get out of my drought, and she told me if I'd like I could get comfy and lay horizontal on the bed while she asked the questions from her desk chair. Figuring I would indeed have my ease level rise, I took off my shoes and left them at the side of the bed, crossing my feet together and feeling already that more at ease.

Once again, she got back to helping me rehearse, and like she promised the answers came much better to me in the more relaxed position. I had never considered it because I felt true-to-life training was better (i.e. sitting in the intimidating wood chair wearing a stiff power suit in front of the desk as the AD grills me), yet I could get used to it.

Laying down however, had several disadvantages (besides the obvious I-could-fall-asleep-mid-question problem), mainly that Rory was staring at me as I answered each question in a way not at all AD-like. Her lips were curled in this grin I can't quite describe, and she would look at the question just enough for some quick memorization so she could give me that hovering stare that felt like she was scanning over my features and trying to see through my clothing. Yet she stayed stubbornly scholastic, even after asking her a couple of times to stay neutral and not look at me like that.

I knew I should've gone for a longer sweater, I thought to myself after pushing the hem of it down for what seemed to be the seventh time. It kept riding up my waist, and that I was wearing a silk camisole beneath didn't help matters all that much, the wool just slid over the bottom shirt like a sheet of ice. It's not as if I'm ashamed of my body, I look fine. I just know that I'm not the current drug addict feminine ideal and that my figure isn't as demanded. No matter how much Rory might compliment me (or Mads and Lou say I look better without the pancake bra squashing me up), I still have many, many body issues to get over.

However, Rory was doing her best to dent them. The questions were becoming fewer and fewer, until the supply was exhausted and I couldn't come up with anymore for her to ask. It worked out perfectly, and by the end my defenses were more aware, able to turn around an answer as I heard the question like usual. I felt much more prepared for the interview, though I was sure a couple more dry runs would be needed before December 11th, I was prepared for anything they'd throw back at me.

"We're done?" Rory asked me as I propped myself and sat at the edge of the bed.

"Unless you think you could use more work..."

"I've had enough life and death questions for today, I think we can relax." She smiled and sat next to me, setting my papers on the nightstand, and I was able to relax for the first time in a bit. I still felt a bit stressed though because having to hide from Mother was really wearing me down. She had expected me home this afternoon, but I told her before I left the Franklin that I wouldn't be, which led to an argument, then an accusation from her that I didn't care about making a good first impression with anyone.

Anyone you might know who'll undermine me, I thought to myself; I knew if anyone she knew was able to get their words on a references list, they'd call me anti-social and abrasive, prone to outbursts, all that petty shit others use in order to get their own undeserving offspring into my slot and leave me out. Thank God my dad knows plenty about contract law, because there's a hidden statement within the divorce settlement that gives him and I, and only the both of us the final say about how I'm getting into Harvard, she cannot interfere or add her own two cents, period. I refuse to let her hold her custody of me as a crutch to keep me sealed to Kappa Phi Omega for the rest of my life, and dictate my career line.

I was still stressed from that and tried not to show it outside, but somehow my demeanor gave Rory a clue into the state of my mind. I looked down at my hands, trying to figure out my next move, be it going home or getting into debate with her over something to keep my arguments strong. I clasped two fingers to my temples, a headache rising from thinking about what my mother might be thinking of me right now, ignoring her to carry on with my own life. I know if it was up to Sharon I'd be in the Stepford template and only a high school graduate if her influence had been more than my thirst for learning was.

Rory looked down at me with concern, gauging my mood.

"Hey," she prompted, bringing my attention towards her. "Anything wrong? You did a good job on the answers." I grimaced and tried to brush it off.

"I'm fine, just thinking about other things."

"Like what?" she asked brightly, plopping down next to me on the bed.

"It's nothing, really. I'll probably take my mind off it in a few minutes."

"Look, it's OK, I won't tell anyone," she promised, trying to draw the worries out of me. "Come on, I'm your girlfriend, and as such it's my job to worry about you."

"It's just Sharon, she's a pain in the ass," I barked out, "nothing new there. She doesn't understand that I don't want to do the cocktail party circuit. I skipped out on her to be here and she'll probably be pissed when I get home."

She shook her head and put her hand on my thigh, rubbing it soothingly. "You'll be OK, I know it, she just knows you don't like going out and that you're more of a homegirl."

"Yeah, I know, but don't tell that to her." I groan, feeling overwhelmed. "Is it wrong, what I'm feeling about this? Even if refusing to do what she wants jeopardizes my admissions chances?"

I thought she'd tell me to buck up and listen to Sharon no matter what, but Rory took it in the other direction, saying that if I wasn't happy I didn't have to do anything I didn't want to do. She noted that she didn't really want to be a debutante and felt miserable through the whole experience, but she did it anyways because it would've disappointed everyone if she refused. She used a simple analogy of what may have happened if either she or I were ever asked by our mothers to become cheerleaders, and the hilarious image of both of us encouraging school spirit in the skirt and sweater as the guys wolf-whistled at us was enough to cheer me up. It made me cringe and thank God my mother had never asked me to get to the point of pushing down my IQ and turning on the slut to impress people.

I was finally able to laugh a little, especially after she rattled off (from memory) at least two pages of all of my achievements without a pause.

"And if you think you need a membership in the Rotary Club after all of that to impress Harvard, you my girlfriend, need an iron lung and a portable tank in tandem just to have enough oxygen to keep up." She moved a hand to my back, circling around the upper portion of it to get me unwound. "It's senior year, time to be just a little bit lazy. You can remain intense, but you don't have to say yes to everything. After you get into college you can ramp up the commitments again, but for now, just do what you need to. Trust me, you're fine."

I started to feel at ease as Rory brought herself closer to me, her compliments soothing me out of the funk. I felt much, much better than I had minutes ago, glad to have her in my corner to keep me sane.

Slowly, she eased herself behind me, continuing on a meandering convo trail about Francie's magazine idea, when suddenly I felt her two hands against the tips of my shoulders. The touch shocked me, though I should've expected it since her hand is the only thing keeping me from going all Network up on Mr. Mercurio in Russian Novels.

"Rory?" I questioned, wondering her intent.

"Ssshhh, just relax," she said softly, and proceeded to start a massage over my sweater that curved around from my shoulders and along my back. At first it felt really good, very nice. But the combination of wool and rubbing obviously made my body disagree and pretty soon I was itching, which presented a quandary. I was wearing that camisole beneath, but I didn't keep my bra on for the trip to Rory's house. Call it lazy, or my dislike of wearing the stifling article past six every night, but I went without, and now I was in a situation where I wanted the massage to continue, yet keep the hormones cooled down. Trouble was, it's harder now to keep my urges under control; trust me when tell you, before I left for DCW Saturday morning, I made one last call to Rory. I managed to keep myself in control, keeping to myself that I ended up having a very hot dream about her and I skipping both of our obligations, meeting in a motel off the beaten path and expending some of that sexual stress with her.

It would be clear, she would have to look at me like I didn't intend for her to during the AD rehearsals.

But it's over now Paris, I was reminded rather excitedly by my giddy inner vixen. Come on, you have a chance here, don't let it blow by. Ms. Gilmore isn't coming home for quite awhile and what else is there to do tonight, you're caught up homework-wise until December 6th. You've seen Rory tonight, and you know she's playing with you herself, those jeans she's wearing, wrapping tightly around her thighs, come on, that's not innocence playing into her clothing styling.

Hesitating, I tried to think about the cons, trying to figure out what to do. We were close and intimate, and I didn't want to ruin that, especially because the massage felt good.

"Rory, uh, do you mind if I um, take off my sweater?" I asked nervously, not sure how she would exactly react. Hiding it under the excuse of a temperature might make it easier. "I'm feeling kind of hot with it on."

"Of course not, makes it easier," she said neutrally. "The boiler acts funny this time of year because it's between the heating and cooling seasons, so I usually wear a shirt beneath just in case." I stopped in my tracks upon hearing that. "You did wear a shirt, right?"

I nodded and then disclaimed. "Sort of." With that, I sucked it up and took off my sweater, wondering what was to happen next between us. It wasn't as if I dressed for seduction, it was for comfort's sake. I wanted to be comfortable around her, and what's wrong with that? And it sort of has a little support in the shelf, they're being held up. Really, if I don't want to wear a bra...never mind.

I took off the sweater, feeling weird just wearing the thin pink undershirt in front of Rory. Setting it off to the side, I could hear her breath shallow as more skin than she ever saw on me was revealed to her. She pushes the hair in back over my shoulder, and then starts the massage anew, wordlessly.

Shutting my eyes, I reveled in the feel of Rory's hands circling against my shoulders, the thin straps of the shirt no impediment to those magical fingers sending soothing tremors through me. I never actually had a massage like this before, the romantic kind. My nanny's younger son Enrique (who I totally think of as a brother and he thinks of as a sister, just killing that idea here and now) has given me the occasional rubdown, and of course my recharge sessions at the spa also help me out. I just haven't had one where at the same time someone is drooling over me. Figuratively of course.

Rory soothed me further by complimenting my back, and moving down occasionally to spread the relaxation through the entirety of my back. Her hands all over me, it was such an erotic thought to me. She even would scratch with her fingernails where I would indicate in a breathy moan where I itched.

"Mmm, that feels so nice Ror," I purred in a way unlike me. Her hands kneaded my skin, working out the knots that I usually kept no matter how tight I felt. It was deeper than the rubdown she gave along my neck taking off my marathon dress, and much more probing. I felt all the stresses I had melting away, and didn't care about anything else except Rory's thin hands having their way for me.

She continued to do exactly that for a few minutes, the feeling soothing and my defenses quickly falling. I had been denying my urges since I got up this morning, determined to get through the day in the usually non-attached way I had perfected before I fell for Rory. But I felt sensitized, and was thankful Rory was only looking at my back at that point. I can get through this without anything ensuing, I commanded to myself, trying to stay strong. I'm not going to do more than this, really, I'm not!

Then the unexpected happened. She could sense my relaxation, and I felt her eyes against me as she appraised my back. I felt my breath still as she stopped kneading, pulling her hand away from me. Suddenly my mind spun with what she might do next, but the cautious side had more pull, telling me she was about to try to cool things down, ask me to go with her to Luke's for food, trying to distract from what she knew she wanted.

I know she's been eyeing me up much more, my guard having to be put up in anticipation of something. This morning for example in RN, she went lower on my neck than usual, below the line of my necklace chain. I felt her finger run along the collar, and then into the space between the tie and the blouse, she inserted the finger between, pushing the nail against the back of my neck through the material. The sensuality of it really got to me, and I had to bite my lip in order to keep my mouth closed. Still I let out a barely detectable whinny that I tried my best not to vocalize through the classroom, and she kept her fingers beneath my collar and tie for the remainder of the class period, making my mind empty and unaware of the subject matter (not a bad thing considering but still). Suffice to say I had to flee to the restroom before lunch just to unbutton my tie and the top collar button and cool myself down because it felt just that good.

Everything was coming to a head now, the closeness we denied for the last few days coming back again. She brought her mouth to the back of my neck, and instigated a slow kiss over that started as innocent. Rory reminds me of that nipping she did while she undid the knot of the halter dress, and the allusion that she was enjoying every moment of the torture. It made my throat catch, the very insinuation that she derived pleasure from such a simple and routine act.

I remember what happened next, though because of the events later on, a few details I forget. My apologies, I thought I could recall, but you'll understand how that could've ensued later on. The neck kiss starts slow, her hand clasped inside of mine, and the other free one concentrating on drawing me into her. She kisses the back of my neck, then drags her mouth along the nape, the already sensitive skin beneath overcharged. I felt weird, but in general what she was doing drew me in. I protested that maybe she should pull back, just in case.

"She's not coming, I know it," she said to me, her voice soothing. Trying to assure me Lorelai always shouts she's home from the front door, she got up to ease the concern that Lorelai might butt in, shutting her door to give us more of a safety cushion. My mind tried to rationalize that Ms. Gilmore wouldn't interrupt us because of my acidic personality. She was scared that one time I came over for debate prep and blamed her for giving Rory dairy before we started, and surely that intimidation would put a cushion between catching us in the act.

Rory closed the door, turned around, and started a slow walk towards the bed, catching me off guard. Her eyes raked over me, sitting along the edge of her mattress.

"Lay back down on the bed," she asked me, then added an innocent "please?" to end the sentence.


"Because," she surmised, "I've never seen you that way before."

"What way?" I didn't understand at all.

"Casual," she pointed out. Which was true, even during the hottest days in the Howard dorm, I never wore such a scant top. "You have wonderful shoulders," she commented. "I've never really noticed them before."

Wow, awkward. How do I respond? "Thank you?" A question mark is safe, undefined, no need to bring the reasoning to further fruition. I find the silk top preserving my modesty riding up and untucking from my jeans as I slide from the sitting position and into a recline resting on the pillow.

She's smiling, the 'Rory has a plan' smile. Uh-oh, I think, my idea of stopping things before they could start falling away.

Ror sits down slowly, at the side of the bed, curling up and looking directly at me, from my face and down along my torso. I try to tuck the cami in to stop the ride-up, but she takes my hand and sets it at the side, shaking her head and telling me not to. She slides a finger along the waistband of my jeans, hinting at something sensual to come.

"Don't do anything," she whispers, and before I can even protest or refuse, she's atop of me, bringing me into a close embrace, then her mouth is on mine as she finally claims me in that slow seduction. We look at each other nose to nose, and I lower my eyelashes, dimming the surroundings naturally. Rory slides a hand behind my head, and with that my mind takes a smoking break in the back. My body is in full control, and it knows what I want.

She meanders a kiss, her other hand still at my waist soothingly rubbing her fingers along my bared side. I push my arms down to her waist and instigate further, totally lost in the moment. The location, setting, and the details of how I got there all gone. All that's there is her. All that's there is me.

All that's there is us, together, intimate, exploring.

One of her legs slides against mine, a perfect fit in the space between. She cautions me that she just wants to sink in, not to do anything more than that. I nod and agree, for I'm not ready for that step yet. First base is quite a comfy bag right now, thank you. We draw in closer, her index finger winding around a cluster of hair strands near the left side of my neck. She tugs at the tendrils, a push to increase the power of the kiss. It's not enough for her.

I'm already fargone enough, so I push further, our teeth clashing, my mouth desperate to wrap around. The Jewish Star dangling around my necks scrapes the skin in front, causing me to cry from the irritation. But it's just a minor scratch, nothing bad is happening. God, I like this girl, and I show her that by trying to force the kiss deeper.

Finally, she opens up her mouth and we can take the kiss from horseplay to deep in seconds flat. I feel her slim weight against my body as we play around, trying to find just where the French kiss would be perfect for in the future. We settle on my left-her right and before I know it, I have to take a minute long oxygen break to recover my respiration.

No time for idleness, she keeps on touching me, one hand rubbing from the top of my head all the way to the line of my camisole, the other busy along my side with one hand inside the waistband of my pants, flirting with the thin elastic frills that made up the waistband of my panties.

This is where I start to lose track of things in the chaos that would ensue in the next few minutes. Somehow the kiss instigated even further than we had before, and the reservations I had about turning a night devoted to study into a makeout session had disappeared, to the point I ended up taking control and asking Rory to move her hand to one place or another. I couldn't stand it anymore, just having to ignore my urges to keep my modesty, they needed to be sated.

We ended up so close together that before you can say 'Eleanor Roosevelt was hiding something' (yes, I'm all X-Files on that conspiracy theory), I was atop, kissing her flush and without rhyme or reason. Her hands were gripped beneath my underarms tight, and I felt for the first time that tempting little nag that maybe she'd love to see me shirtless. I knew where this would lead, what the consequences were, that in the heat of everything we were about to take that first turn around the basepaths.

However, you forget that this is my life we're talking about here, and whenever something great is about to take place within it, like Sisyphus the weight of what happens becomes too much at the crest of the hill, you let it go, and you're back chasing that damn boulder back down.

I was just about to bring my thigh between Rory's legs at her pained urging to bring her off, when the silence of the evening, only our sounds interrupting the peace, was broken by the twisting of the doorknob. I heard the lockset slide against the plate, the footsteps of high heels in the path of the doorway.

"I see Paris is here babe, you want me to order pizza--" The door opens, and before I can react, I realize I'm lip-to-lip with Rory, and that our positioning tells the story more than words or excuses could ever do.

Like the stupid inexperienced lover that I am, I turn my head around, face whitened in fear and a large shot of adrenaline flowing through my heart. My hands are at Rory's side, and thankfully all of her clothing is still on. No matter though, for my eyes met Lorelai's.

"--for you both?" I don't think I'll ever forget the look of another mother, one moment smiling asking us we were hungry, and the next with her eyes, the same shade passed on to the daughter beneath me, widened in shock. Her mouth was dropped down, and all of the sudden having to deal with a revelation all three of us hadn't planned on by any means.

"Oh my God," she said numbly, looking down at the floor. Our original plan in three weeks of a dinner where we'd come out to Lorelai in comfortable circumstances, with a simple handhold telling her all she needed to know (and all we wanted her to know!), of a long convoluted explanation of the events that led us from enemies to lovers, it was now blown out of the water. This was a Japanese plane sneaking into Pearl Harbor and sinking the USS Arizona; now a day in infamy.

Rory and I were about to come out in the way we were least expecting. I felt a panic attack begin, Ms. Gilmore's gaze weighing down on me, a mix of shock and disappointment coloring her.

Still, she found an opportunity to say the absolute worst thing to say at the wrong time. Not in a bad way, just weird placement of her words.

"Well, it looks like you're already eating," she said, trying to use humor to numb herself from a lash-out. Rory got up from her laying position, her brain trying even now to reel back and react.

"Mom!" she shouted, her voice laced with worry and a hope these weren't the last moments of her life she would be living at this house. "I...well I...uggh, you're home...early...this is surprising."

"We hired a cleaning crew, work got to be too much for the staff," she explained rushingly. "Umm, wow. Hello kiddo." She then brought her gaze to me, her face looking very funny. "And a big hello to you too Paris, and I do mean...big."

I didn't know what she was going on about at first, still numb and trying to hold back the stroke I knew was about to come from mortal embarrassment. That's when she brought her eyes down and tried having me focus on something else.

I was definitely out of my body, out of my element, and way out of being able to have a normal reaction. I looked down at myself, and only then did I realize that when I turned around to face Lorelai, the right strap of my top, barely hanging on to my shoulder had slipped down, and the loose silk fabric that it was holding up went with it. The strap was now just below my elbow, and well, guess who got an unexpected and certainly unneeded glance at my right breast, nipple and all?

This is like a bad episode of Degrassi, this can't be happening!! my mind screamed. As if watching her daughter's competition in bed with her wasn't enough, Lorelai also had to deal with my accidental exposure! Leave it to dysfunctional me to ratchet up the crazy more than I meant to.

I wanted to turn so fucking pale that I could become a ghost, the panic attack just growing from there. I tried to find a blanket surrounding me, but we were sitting on all of them, I found my head shaking and shaking, both Rory and I in the worst situation we had ever found ourselves in. I wanted to start crying, just get the fuck out and let Lorelai dress Rory down as she made it clear that this day was her last at Chilton.

"Umm, here, take this, geeze!!" She held her hand to her eyes as she yanked at Rory's robe hanging on the door, then tossed it towards a very thankful me. I knew it certainly wouldn't fit, but I propped the still sliding cami strap back on my shoulder and draped the robe along my neck so at least I wouldn't have another Girls Gone Wild moment.

I was right in the middle of it all as Lorelai and Rory tried to make sense of this all, her discovering the both of us together. I was so scared, despite her demeanor as 'the cool mom', the one who let me come to the Bangles concert with them so we could bond together, and who always made jokes behind my back about how focused and serious I was about everything. We were both in the ultimate cookie jar moment, and all of the excuses and lies in the world couldn't cover up that Rory and I were on Rory's bed, we were kissing, and as Lorelai opened up the door Rory made a contented sigh as she seemed to want me to get off with her help.

Lorelai stood there for a minute, trying to gather her bearings and stop herself from saying anything that she might regret. I felt as if time had stopped, my world was off-axis, and there was a large fear that the next words out of her mouth were that she was going to call my mother and ask for an explanation for why their daughters were fornicating in her house.

"Mom?" Rory asked, her voice bare and worried. "Are you OK?"

She brought her gaze towards Rory, and decided that going witty and funny wasn't the best line; she had to be direct with her words. She breathed a couple of more times, and with her voice tight, responded. "Am I OK? I have no idea right now, because I never prepared for this."

"Oh." Rory's gaze dropped down, and the awkwardness had begun to peek up. "I didn't mean for you--"

"--to find out this way, I know," Lorelai said with some agitation. "No one ever does." She wrung her hands up, trying to focus. "I just...I don't know what to say right now. I'm at a loss for words, and I don't have a joke that would be at all appropriate for this situation. I mean one moment I'm asking for pizza toppings, and the next I'm walking in on you," she pointed at me, "on top of my darling daughter."

That did it for me, I couldn't dare stick around at all. I didn't want Lorelai to lose her temper with me, and blame me for dragging her daughter into a life that wasn't appropriate. For my own good, I had to leave. The faster I fled, the more that Rory could just excuse it as experimentation and the less trouble we'd be in.

"I think I should go--" I said, getting up from the bed and then being stopped by Lorelai's held out hand. Before she could say anything though, Rory decided to throw her heart on the floor.

"No honey, don't." She paused, looking up at her mom. "You're not going to go because I'm going to take this like a woman, I'm done lying." She pushed closer to me, and took my hand into hers, in her lap. "Mom, I'd like to introduce you to my new girlfriend."

The last word she said went through me, and swelled my heart. It was finally vocalized to someone else, the g-word. It put a hammer of finality that this wasn't just Rory testing the waters anymore, she was headed for the deep end. I felt myself calm a little, though prepared for the possibly of anything about to happen.

"G-g-girlfriend?" Ms. Gilmore stuttered, trying to get over all of this shock.

"For the last two weeks, one day, and four hours, that's what she's been to me," Rory said statistically. This is not the time to be turned on! I nagged myself, really liking the geek touch she was putting on this coming out.

"But that would mean..." Lorelai lost herself in thought for a moment, going over the chronology before she came to her conclusion. "...before I got home from Nashville? While I was still in the air towards Detroit?" Rory nodded.

"And before that?" Rory hastily explained that we weren't together, but were inching closer towards romance with each day.

"And Dean?"

"That was fractured long before the summer," she noted. "I should've broken it with him months ago." She looked down at herself, and all I wanted to do was take her into my arms and hug the hurt away from her.

"Oh, wow." Lorelai couldn't believe what was being thrown at her, she didn't expect this. I certainly didn't and I was now in the middle of it all. "So...does this mean you're...that you identify as a...are you mixed between the two?"

Rory looked up at her mother, and with power I didn't know she even had, finally confessed what she had been holding back since I said it would be nice to kiss each other all those days before.

"I am Mom. I...I like girls."

"Are you...you know, that word?"

"I wouldn't classify myself as so, but yeah, you could say that I am a lesbian."

Rory stops, and then pre-empts any attempt for Lorelai to ask if she was definite and sure that she liked the same sex more. "Dean never made me feel things that Paris has," she confessed, forlorn. "I can't like a boy, I really, really tried through the last year. He wasn't into me beyond simple lust, and I wanted more than that, I craved for closeness, a mental connection, someone who matched up with me." She then brought her gaze to me, her eyes starting to feel with tears, her voice sob-choked. "And to me, it didn't matter that who I felt those sparks with was missing an important part. We connect physically, mentally, and spiritually, and for the first time, I feel truly content going out with someone. I never did with Dean, but with Par..." she smiles at me. "I do."

There was a period of silence after that, tension hanging in the air despite the calmness of Rory's coming out. I had nothing I could say, for my mind was a empty blank. What could I really say, except that I liked Rory? This was between her and her mother, and if Lorelai wanted me to go, there was nothing I could do but comply. My fate was truly in her hands, and she could say whatever she wanted to me. I felt torn now, because all pretenses and excuses were out the window, we were now out to Lorelai.

She gestured at us, but nothing seemed to come from her. She lay back against the door, completely confused as to what to say. It was as awkward as the both of us feared, and I was mortally embarrassed it was all revealed this way. She kept looking at the both of us, trying to understand why her daughter, the one she gave up everything for back in 1984, was now throwing another curve in her life. It was almost as if Rory had just revealed she was pregnant; only this time all the preparations, lectures and warnings she gave over the years were all for nothing. Her mind had always been on Rory not having sex and ending up with a baby. Now though, she was completely on her own, there was no help in this.

Just as expected, she finally brought her line of questioning towards me. "I didn't know you had it in you," she accused. "I knew you were trying to outpace her for valedictorian, but I didn't expect that you would use her heart to try to soften her up--"

"Now wait a minute Mom!" Rory screamed.

"No, I know this is just a way for her to top you in grades, she's using you Rory, why can't you see that?"

"I am not," I said softly and sadly. Somehow I knew the first explanation for everything in her eyes would that I was trying to fuck my way to the top of the academic food chain. "I wanted this, but I didn't pursue her Ms. Gilmore, that's the truth."

"But you have ulterior motives--"

"MOM!" We were both stunned to see Rory get up from the bed and stand up straight, ready to defend me.

"Kiddo, I don't usually question your love life, but this doesn't look right to me."

"Well it doesn't if you go in and just accuse her of something she never did, damn it! Listen to me..." Rory stood with arms crossed over her chest, and then with the same precision she had earlier with the fake AD answer, went on to explain all she did to win me over, about how she knew about my insecurities and that I wouldn't ever make the first move. She defended every move she made in order to get into my closest circle, from the field hockey fiasco, the sense that she knew Jamie and I didn't work at all because she felt he wasn't my match, all the depression she felt the two months before having to watch me from the sidelines and how Dean just wasn't working for her anymore. She went on and on about how truly special the dance marathon was to her, and the night I crawled in begging forgiveness for my over-reaction to her compliment I didn't take. I just watched her on fire, hammering into each and every point, stifling down Ms. Gilmore with her every objection.

Her tearful description of our date last week just got me; she described my chivalry and how composed I managed to stay despite it falling apart in front of us with the movie and the restaurant not at all like expected. Rory just wasn't defending me; like the fortune said, she was being steady, strong and brave, defending my blossom from all attacks, not letting me inflict the thorns on others when she could shield me just as well.

She was certain; this was a definite, and Ms. Gilmore would have to learn to live with me as her girl from now on.

Bringing fingers to her temples, Lorelai knew that this was an issue that couldn't be solved with me in the room, she had to talk to Rory about this, alone. I knew they needed the privacy, but I just stayed silent so I could take Rory in defending us.

Ms. Gilmore held up her hand and stopped Rory mid-thought. "Hon, can we talk in the living room? I think we have some things to talk about without Paris here, like the fact you've been shielding me from your life for the last month or so."

Rory knew she was in trouble for that, no way to deny it, and knew there were some things she needed to clear up with her. "Sure, let's do that, I feel like I need to say a few things." She sighed and headed out, as Lorelai looked towards me.

"Uhh, you stay here, somehow I think you need to recover a little Paris," she asked, reminding me of only minutes before. "We're going to talk, me and you, after I get done with Rory. I just want to understand both sides of the story." I looked up at her, feeling shame and humiliation for the situation she caught us in. God, this was not the way she was supposed to find out at all! It was supposed be all happy, set up, around an I Married Joan mock-a-thon or whatever shows they watch...

I watched Rory leave the room, our eyes meeting and the care she showed still present despite what had just happened. She wasn't running away from me after Ms. Gilmore found out; that was a good sign, right?

Lorelai noticed my pain, and tried to reassure me before she left to have it out with Rory. She bent down and put on a weird smile.

"Hey, I promise you that I won't be like your mom, OK?" I nodded, still scared that she was about to tear me down and make sure I would never see her beautiful daughter again. She turned and left, shutting the door behind her, leaving me alone while mother and daughter had a talk that had been waiting for weeks to been had.

All I could do was try to block out the fact that I was found out a lesbian in a way I wouldn't wish on any girl. I got out War and Peace and decided to use the awful content to block out the fear building inside of me; anger always beat fear, and I was certainly pissed off at this book.

As much as I wanted to, I didn't eavesdrop, mainly because the thick walls of the house sucked up the speech within the room and Rory's door would definitely be heard if I opened it. I said a prayer, looking for guidance in the situation, and a hope that Ms. Gilmore would be benevolent, and not want me to leave forever.

I kept reminding myself it could've been a lot worse; it could've been a State Patrol officer watching us neck at a truck stop, a teacher at Chilton as we snuck a kiss before we got out of the car.

Or it could've been Sharon, at the Manor. Two words; blown gasket. Three more words; Rory in coma.

Yeah, better Lorelai found out than anyone else. She had to understand, she just had to. You can't help who you're attracted to, and I hope her of all people understand that...

Twenty minutes into their talking to each other, and I was totally bored, the book open but hardly regarded. I didn't have my laptop with me, and I wasn't the type to use someone else's without their permission, so I didn't use Gilmore's, scared that I'd breach her privacy. You couldn't have a TV in here? I thought, the idea of some Jeopardy! appealing to me. The comfort of Alex Trebek is like a nice soothing cup of tea to me...

However all I had in there was a radio, and I wasn't up to hearing the blatherings of the Savage Nation, so I lay down on Rory's bed, trying to take myself out of my fearful mood by cuddling her chicken animal like I did my Cheer Bear occasionally (yes, I own a Care Bear, OK?! It was a fad but I still love the damned things!), and letting my mind wander back to minutes before, prior to Ms. Gilmore's inconvenient walking in.

I still had my sweater off and looked myself over, Rory's touch still very fresh in my mind, and how in such a small period of time she instigated me in such a way I ended up atop of her. I keep thinking of her using those innocent eyes of her wooing me in closer, her teeth dragging across my neck in such an agonizing and raw sexual way. How despite the way we are, in the end all exploration remains academic. I remember back to just three days ago, after school, Friday evening. Rory decided to tell Lorelai that she'll meet her at the Gilmore mansion in Hartford's Blue Hills neighborhood, explaining to me that she kept clothes changes there just in case and I could drop her at Emily and Richard's, claiming Franklin work...

Her hand is at my side as I drive looking both ways into Mill Pond Park, a preserve two miles south of Chilton in Newington. It wasn't known as a 'make out park' by any means, and that I was thankful for. It's just a little piece of land near a VA hospital where you don't find many people; no kid wants to play in a park without any playground equipment since the advent of Nintendo. Wonderful for me though, for I'd sit near the Mill Pond in an isolated place, enjoying my lunch on a quiet fall or spring day when life was just throwing me bitter lemons. Since it was close to sunset, no one was out there, and when I pulled up in the parking lot leading to the path leading to the pond, I was glad for it.

"What are we doing here?" she asks, and I quiet her with a soft shush.

"You'll like this." I get out of the car, forcing Rory to leave her books behind as I lock them in the car. I open the trunk, taking out a plaid blanket, and not giving her any clues into my state of mind, she follows me down the thin dirt path I know so well. Her hands in the pockets of her jacket, she struggles with the walk, to be expected on unfamiliar territory. She trusts me; I hold her hand to help her over a medium-sized tree trunk in the path. It's only a quarter mile, but when I arrive into the clearing where the pond and a small field unfold before us, I know this side journey was well worth it.

I watch as her eyes widen and she looks at this pastoral setting, a little country in the middle of the McSuburbs.

"Paris..." she looks around and around. The pond, not really for a mill at all but named so by the early 1900's developer who built this area, is great, a small shore leading into a shallow body of water, in which I dip occasionally on the hot June days at the end of Chilton terms. Routes 9 and 15 pass near, but they're barely heard above the rustling of trees and sounds of the animals. The temperature was in the mid 50's that day, cool but not enough to chill my bones.

"This reminds me of home," she mentions, and I recall the way Stars Hollow's pond is, almost the same layout but a little more rustic and out of the way. But this is still nice...

I find a spot beneath a hulking old oak tree near the pond, and I spread the blanket out beneath the shade. It fits both of us, and I ask if she wants to lay next to me and just watch the sun set in the ripples of the water. Rory is a simple girl, and a sunset appeals to her. I remember once saying to her that I hated the sunset. Mostly the truth, I'm more of a sunrise person because it means the start of a new day, but when the mood and the atmosphere is right and I'm not stressing over a test score, a sunset is a perfect capper.

I lean my head against the tree trunk, as does Rory. I wear my long Chilton overcoat; she's still in her unbuttoned school sweater, not another layer, her blouse of course untucked and socks drooping. I lean my head against her shoulder, my hand around and playing with her collar. We kiss softly a little, talking about little school things and life in general, a mention of Washington's newest scandal. Again, talk only seductive to us.

"Paris?" She asks me a question. "Which anchor would you sleep with if given the change?"

"What do you mean?"

"Like on CNN or NBC, if you had a chance to have sex with someone behind the desk, who would it be?"

"Hmm..." It was an interesting question, I had impure thoughts of those who inform all of us, but I would always keep them to myself and never order them from 1-5 in sexuality and such. I had to think on it a little. "You first, and somehow I'm going to say it's your idol, Amanpour."

"You'd think that, but no. After watching those Paula Zahn ads with the zip sound, it sounds appealing."

"Zahn? You can't be serious, she's the journalistic equivalent of a Pop Tart!"

"But she is a little bit sexy."

"Pretty much all she has. Thank God you didn't say Barbara Walters." I laughed at the very idea of that.

"How about Katie Couric?" I cringe and shake my head furiously. "Come on, I know we've seen way more of her than we ever did and she's like a stewardess, but her legs, they're nice."

"She has nothing upstairs--"

"But plenty downstairs," she says without shame. "I know I should mention a few guys, Lester Holt, Bill Hemmer, Bob Woodruff over on ABC, they're very bright, young and sexy."

"Anderson Cooper all the way for me," I admit. "Gotta have old-school richie solidarity, part of the Vanderbilt clan. He sure knows how to make a report look very good; I admit my sexual maturity was started with late night viewings of 'World News Now'."

"And female?" I don't want to admit, but scared she'd laugh at me, I warn her my choices are unconventional.

"I sort of kind of have a crush on Candy Crowley. Yeah, she's no Liz Vargas, but she goes after the story pretty well, she'd be great to hear a few campaign trail stories about. As for shameless...Soledad O'Brien. Just a great voice, a nice face, beautiful eyes, any network's lucky enough to have her."

"It's the tan, isn't it?" She brushes a kiss along the side of my face, and I nod, moving my hand along her neck, trying to work at her school tie. "Perhaps a certain ideal you've taken with you and found within me."

"That could be it." I clasp at the button holding the tie together, then unsnap it, my fingers playing with Rory seductively. She groans as I brush up her neck, and work the collar button of her blouse open. We work ourselves into a laying position on the blanket, and we work ourselves into romance, kissing and just taking in the atmosphere of that small public park. We end up spending a half-hour in that position, just talking about so small things, my hands playing at her waist, hers at mine. I feel great, sharing a secret spot with Rory I've never divulged to anybody else.  It's unbelievable how much I'm a hopeless romantic in her sights, when I think of myself as the extreme opposite outside of her proximity.

We have to force ourselves to pull away when my cell phone alarm vibrates, signifying 5 o'clock. The sky is a dark blue, and night is starting to peek. We get up from the wrinkled blanket, our skirts covered with a slight layer of dirt, and I feel like I have to come here much more often. Rory looks at me, seemingly lovesick, both of us still shy about anything too public.

"Someday, we'll have to go to the pond in my town, by the bridge," she said pensively. "Water has a calming and tranquil effect, and sitting by it here was so relaxing." She straightens her sweater, and slides her hand into mine as I fold the blanket up.

"I know," I agree. It's certainly too cold for a swim, but just watching the water with her was something that gave me a sense of relaxation. We made our way back to the front gate of the park, getting there just as the last remnants of day had passed. The ride to the Gilmore mansion continued on that track; things that relaxed us. She mentioned of course her love of a nice book, sitting alone at parties, a nice soothing bubble bath. I laughed when she mentioned that, because that was one of my best stress relievers too.

She had a mischievous look on her face, and I knew she was ready to say something not Rory-like. I tried to stop her, but it came out anyways.

"You did say that your bathtub in your private bathroom seated two, correct?" I nodded automatically, and as I drove, I had to keep my mind off her fingers at the hem of my skirt. "One day, I might just have to see that, and perhaps test it out." Hearing this from Gilmore was such a surprise, but somehow I kept my heart rate in control, discussing the interest in quilting and sewing that I had. A long tradition in the Gellar family, it's about the only thing I'll admit appeals to me in homemaking. We have a long tradition of both arts, along with knitting, however Sharon has discouraged me from taking them up, calling them 'antiquated' hobbies. It disappoints me, and I have to make do with watching my Gellar relatives create wonderful things from yarn and fabric.

"You should talk to my mother, she loves all that stuff," Rory reminds me. "Without her, I might've attended kindergarten in the nude."

"I remember the dress, Winter Formal. It certainly looked beautiful on you, brought out your eyes," I offhand, surprising even myself. "She did a great job on it, you could tell she spent hours crafting it."

"I spent nine hours being fitted for it," she noted. "Your mother picked that gown you wore, didn't she?"

Groaning, I recalled how hideous it looked. "I felt like someone skinned Kermit the Frog and made me wear his skin." She laughed out loud and shrieked at how hilarious my comparison was.

"Still, you looked nice, that's the first time I found out what you usually hide." Her eyes drifted towards my chest. "I have to admit I was 100% straight at the time and had zero thought of anything involving you, but I was jealous of you, how you looked."


"How could you not, you looked classy and beautiful, I was glad for your date. At least until I found out you shared blood, then it was a mix of 'Oh God', 'No don't go there mind!' and 'Poor Paris'."

"And back then I thought it was the end of my world that I had to be escorted by my cousin." We pulled into the gate of the Gilmore house, and I drove around to the circular driveway at the front entrance. "Looking back, it was funny, but I care not to repeat that experience again with any of my family."

"God willing, you won't have to ever again." We got both got out of the car, since after I went to the door with her Saturday night, it had become habit to accompany her to the door, whichever it was, before I leave, because she thought it was nice. I followed her to the door, and she rang the bell.

"So 9:30pm tonight on MSN?" We had been mixing various messaging services lately as we talked online because Madeline and Louise's conversations were overtaking at one time or another, and both of us didn't want to be dragged into a private chat with them.

"It's a date." The door opened at that time, and behind it was Emily, her grandmother. The regal woman was smiling at the both of us, surprised to see Rory this early.

"Why Rory, hello!" She exclaimed. "Paris, how are you, it's a surprise to see you here."

"Sorry to come early Grandma, we had paper work and I thought it pointless to go south to put on something else and come back north when I have clothes here. I'll just meet Mom here, if that's OK with you."

"Just fine for me, your grandfather wanted to give you a few new books to read." She brought her look towards me. "Paris, how are you?"

"Well Mrs. Gilmore," I responded. "Rory's a real firecracker on the Franklin lately, very impressive. It's amazing how much time she spends in the newsroom. She stays so long I give her rides home and to school now, and she helps me with a lot of things."

"That's wonderful, it's good that you two are such great friends." We sent a secret look at each other, the oddity that we were really 'great friends' hopefully remaining a secret to her. "Are you staying?"

"I'm afraid I can't," I said sadly. "Mother has me working a DCW event this weekend and I have to go through the plans, you know how it is."

"Of course," she groaned with hidden disdain, I knew how Emily as a DAR'er loathed the competitive new direction of DCW. "I wouldn't want to keep you from that."

"I actually don't want to do it, but you know Sharon, dedicated." I laughed shyly. Rory pulled at the cuff of my jacket, giving me a 'wrap it up' signal. "So dedicated if I'm not home at six she'll have my head."

"I should let you go then, good luck this weekend," Emily said as her and Rory went in the house. "Maybe I'll see you around more often now that you and Rory are so close."

"I'm sure you will." I waved at Rory. "Have a good weekend Gilmore, don't forget to brainstorm this weekend, those weddings should give you plenty of time." She said goodbye to me, and the door shut as I turned around to go back to my car.

Thinking about Friday evening, I think of how well things have gone...maybe a little too well. I mean without Ms. Gilmore interrupting, I don't know if I would've been able to stay in control of my modesty. I daydream more about that for awhile, trying to think of how in just the matter of a few weeks I've gone from looking at her from afar, to so close we've almost brought ourselves into very close intimacy. I hold off at an outright dream about what may have happened, thinking it bad form to think of my girlfriend in a naughty way on her own bed. The book lay at my side, still unread.

After a few more minutes in deep thought, I looked at the clock radio one more time, which now read 8:02pm, meaning that Rory had been talking to her mother for at least forty minutes since we were discovered. I felt very uneasy, keeping one eye on the clock and the other on the opened page in the book, reading one passage over and over again, just wanting to get this over with. I hadn't heard any banging or anything odd, something that would cause some kind of alarm between the two. Still, until Lorelai entered the bedroom, I was in limbo. For all I knew she had just told Rory to pack her bags for Boston, that she was moving in with Christopher and Sherrie because she wouldn't want me anywhere near her.

It had been a long time since I was sent to the corner for doing something wrong, and being stuck in that 12'x9' space (yes, I counted the ceiling tiles and made a measurement that way; remember, I was bored) for the last hour, I kept putting down the book and walking around the room, holding back so much to go through Rory's things. I saw the blue RN notebook still sitting on the desk, the book that held her secret longing for me for so long. Then I looked at the pictures of her, Ms. Gilmore, and Ms. Gilmore's friend, her chief chef at the Independence, Sue Lee, Selena...I forget her name...oh yeah, Sookie. 'Wacky small-town residentspeak' for Susan. In those pictures was the Rory that everyone knew, the one happy with Dean and willing to settle for less. That brunette who regarded me as a pest and hadn't even put any kind of tangible picture on her desk yet at all of us together, not that we've had the opportunity to pose for a picture as a happy couple yet, I thought the pic that Kentucky boy snapped was the only happy one of us.

The guilt weighed down as I looked at pictures on the other side of the desktop with her true best friend, Lane. To say she wouldn't be happy with the idea of her buddy kissing another girl would probably be an understatement, considering her mother's strict Christian upbringing of her. Not that it's important, the girl will probably kick my ass the moment she finds out because I've been more intimate with her friend than ever expected. This town looked pretty, but it was going to suck stepping out and telling everyone that the both of us were more than buddies.

"Paris?" the older voice asked. I folded page 564 into 566 (no way my $100 personalized gold bookmark is going to remind me where I left off in this Donner Party of a book), and shut the heavy volume closed.

"I'm fine, you can come in Ms. Gilmore." I sucked up all that I had, preparing for a line of rebukes, accusations and screaming matches to come. The Other Mother was about to give me The Talk, and hopefully it wouldn't end with 'I don't want you to see her again, please leave.'

She opened the door, finding me sitting on the bed, looking down at my fingers, scared to establish eye contact with this woman who was Rory's age halved. I still can't believe that the girl I had fallen for was from someone so young.

"Hello again Bareshirt Contessa," she tried to joke, a jab at the state she caught me in only an hour before startling me and throwing me off-track. I narrowed my eyes towards her, very annoyed at the reference.

"Ms. Gilmore," I warned, "I never meant to do that."

"Paris, I'm making fun of you," she pointed out. "Just laugh and go along with it." She slid up next to me and we started the heavy talking. "And thanks for aging me twenty years with the matriarchal Ms. Gilmore greeting."

"I have to have manners," I explained to remind of why I didn't go first-name with her. "So I can't just up and call you Lorelai."

"But I don't mind it," she said. "Better Lorelai than 'She who had your girlfriend at sixteen.'"

Was she going to take any of this seriously? I needed her to just acknowledge how she felt about me wanting her daughter unless she was going to Phyllis Diller her way through this talk.

"Look, do you have a point?" I said, very annoyed. "I've been stuck in here for the last hour waiting for you to talk to me, and frankly you think this is a big joke."

Finally she straightened out. "This isn't a joke to me, I'm trying to deal with the fact that I walked in on all of this." Her voice wavered a little. "I'm still not believing that I come home from work, open the door, and walk in on the two of you the way you were. I mean, I walked in on her and Dean a few times last year, but I could trust him to never take off his shirt or bring his hands below the waistline. I at least had warning about them, a few hours only, but still, quite a bit of notice. Then I see you and Rory together and you're doing a hell of a lot more than Dean ever did."

"What do you want me to say, I didn't mean to do it?" I wrung my hands, trying to will myself through an answer. "Look, if you want me to leave right now, I will, no questions asked. Far be it from me to dissolve your perfect world so suddenly."

"Paris, don't--" She moved towards in front of my path to stop me.

"Ms. Gilmore, I have not taken advantage of your daughter by any means, we're going slow, very slow, Ice Age slow. I know how scared you are of her going too fast into things, and I'm scared to do that before we've gotten to know each other. Not like you're ever going to let us get to that point anyways."

"Hey," she said, taking offense. "Don't be assuming things."

"I read people Ms. Gilmore, and I know the first thought in your mind was 'Oh God, look, it's my daughter and her worst enemy together.' Then you probably thought if she was going to experiment with girls that she could've picked someone better and less neurotic than me, like Louise or Summer, or a girl who's prettier than me."

"I never thought of that at all--" I continued on the defensive.

"Come on, I know you were just waiting for this moment Ms. Gilmore, you could finally rescue your daughter from the Big Mean Classmate and have all the proof you needed for that reasoning." I felt my eyes tighten, tears threatening. "You don't think Rory confides in me, that I know you don't exactly think of me in the best light? I exposed you and Mr. Medina, I've made your daughter cry on so many occasions, I bitched about your wonderful dinner last year. Get real ma'am, I'm a realist, and I know I'm the last girl you'd ever want to see Ror with, and I know you talk about me all the time as crazy." I know, I was irrational, but I was in huge panic that was turning into an attack quite quickly, only I would amplify an argument this way.

I watched as Lorelai sat back down on the bed as I lay down on it, trying to stay sane and my blood flowing just in case I talked myself into a fainting spell. She never usually had to deal with something so life-changing, I was sure, her biggest quandary so far in Rory's life going for the Chilton loan and re-establishing her life in Hartford with Richard and Emily.

"You're certainly ready for battle, aren't you?" she commented calmly, holding back anger I thought she would have. "Paris, please, don't talk like you're girding yourself with a debate, just talk to me, woman-to-woman."

"How can I do that?" I asked. "I'm going to say the wrong thing and that's just going to make things worse."

"You won't, do you really think that little of yourself?" she asked. "When I was talking with Rory a few minutes ago, she was telling me about the strong and driven woman she wants to get to know more, not this sullen self-pitying girl who makes Fiona Apple look like Amanda Bynes." She sighed and hesitated. "I was ready for a nice deep talk with you about your intentions with Rory, all this that's been lain on me like a ton of bricks so I can understand more why this is all happening."

Shaking my head, I tried to tell her that I wasn't trying to crawl into a hole and hide. "I...I just can't explain things well, and the way you just went off on me, throwing an accusation that I'm trying to use the girlfriend card to get the V slot, it hurts me. You think I'd ever be that low? Excuse me if I'm offended at that assertion."

"You're excused," she said. "Now come on here, talk to me. Make me understand how someone like you managed to push the waterboy out of my daughter's thoughts."


"My alias for Dean, for he changed the water bottle before what I've learned three weeks ago was Rory pushing off to the side and going full tilt for you."

"Oh, right." I laughed, thinking that Lorelai thought very little of him that all he was good for was for keeping her hydrated. "I'm...I'm...auuggh, sorry, I'm not usually at a loss for words, either English or Portuguese. I mean you never think until it's too late that you're...what's the term I'm looking for here--"

"Being walked in on?" Lorelai finished. "God, do I know how that feels, and seeing you tonight, it just reminded me of Rory's dad and I being walked in on by Emily in almost the same exact position; very awkward. I mean she was just lost for words and the only thing she could say is 'Lorelai,'" she imitated the older woman's haughty tone, "'Please come downstairs as soon as possible, and Christopher I think it's time for you to go.' To say I was mortified would be like saying Hurricane Andrew was just a little rainstorm."

"We didn't mean for you to find out this way," I said still shy and scared to death. "It was meant to be a lot more...clothed."

"At least I found out first this time, unlike when Mrs. Kim let me know about Dean and Rory at Doose's from Lane." She nervously laughed, telling me that the Christian woman wasn't pleased to hear about the love life of her daughter's best friend. "Unlike Mrs. Kim however, I heard Rory's side of the story first this time before it could be mashed up into something else."

"Do you believe her side?" I asked, trying to make sure I was going into a good talk or a bad talk.

"Well, she left a few holes for you to fill in, so I need some help here." It was strange seeing Ms. Gilmore only talking at a slow calming speed. "I've had my suspicions for the last few weeks to be honest with you. One day you show nothing but disdain for Rory, and the next when she tells you to jump, you go beyond that and leap."

"H-how did you know?" I stumbled out, trying to think of how transparent my excuses might have been to the elder Gilmore.

"Let's see here, you come in through the window on a Sunday morning to apologize for something that I could tell was lame, and I was totally right about that, no one ever has a late-night apology over journalistic ethics. Mistaken body compliments seems to be more of the reason."

Asking her to explain more, she cleared up her worldview of the entire 'flat' controversy. "Considering she spent twenty minutes yapping on and on about the conflict as we went to dinner at the grandparents before I pointed out that she sounded like she was pissed off about Dean, that was a good sign. Then she clams up the rest of the night and through the weekend until after you two wake up on Sunday morning, probably not to say something that might reveal facts she doesn't want me to know."

"But it was a stupid argument--" I tried to claim.

"To you it was a reality check that she was noticing this, because the way you are shows that you don't know how to take 'you're beautiful' as well as I could."

She then pointed out the true warning bell that screamed out to her that there was more to us than met the eye, Rory and Dean's end, a hasty retreat over her being saved by Jess from the sprinklers.

"She would've wasted pounds of oxygen before to defend the fact she still loved Dean. But she sees you in the distance and thinks that it's time for a change, that this is the window she needs to make a move on you after not having an excuse to dump him before. Thus Rory leaves him and after winning the marathon, you finally admit under pressure, and she's happy. There's just all these things I've been noticing and been ready to bring up over the last few weeks, and the fact you two were attracted to each other was not breaking news when I entered this room; to me it was a developing story."

That made an impression on me, while being surprising all the same that the signs were clear I was more than friends with Rory. I thought we were very secretive, but somehow, Lorelai managed to read between the lines so well I didn't even know we were sitting ducks and she was waiting all these weeks for confirmation of the nag she had.

Lorelai continues on. "The rides in the morning were the first clue. You're smart and thrifty, even I could see that, and I couldn't understand why you were making two trips down here a day when Rory can get on the bus and make it to school in the same amount of time. Then I remember that I was a teenager once, and guess how Rory's father lured me in?"

I think for a bit, and it comes to me in a quick flash. "Pulled up in his Corvette, called you beautiful and told you to hop in?"

She smirked at me, and the talk started lightening up. "You really do have a good lover's mind, he was my ride to school from then on." She moved a little closer and told me some of the other signs. "Rory was more distracted after the marathon too, a little more secretive and withdrawn, like she was holding something back. She ate a little less at the diner, looked much more often at her phone, and I kept thinking 'does she miss Dean'? You have her go to your mansion and nothing curious spins me, but then..." she stopped, trying to wring something out. "...she comes home, not with you, but with your chauffeur in the limo. From her voice and the way she walked, it seemed like she enjoyed the study session, if not for going over the facts she needed again, for the refreshments." She smirked at me and shook her head. "Care to explain that?"

I sighed, sucked up my pride and admitted that we shared that bottle of wine in celebration of our coming together, thus her going with Henrico instead of us driving home. She was happy that I didn't drive her home, but she was hopeful that it wouldn't happen again. I reassured her that it was a one time thing, and that the alcohol usage would stick to holidays and special occasions, which I noted this was.

She continued noting those clues which lead her to knowing that I wasn't just being more friendly with Rory, like the fewer times she got to talk to Rory during breakfast because we were too buried in our own conversation as I sipped my wintergreen tea, an aborted game of 1-2-3 one day outside of Doose's Market because Rory wasn't in the mood to find out that her #3 would be a redheaded bombshell tourist from Maryland instead of the square-jawed hunk from Albany, the avoidance of any mention of Rory finding another guy when they would talk. It set up a pattern that led to Lorelai keeping an eye on her daughter all weekend through the double weddings as she tracked our text-tag conversations at any time Rory could flee from the ceremonies.

"I just checked my cell phone bill online this afternoon at work, which you might note, Rory's phone is under that account." It was then she noted something important. "Rory had been averaging twenty text messages and fifty calls a month to Dean. Now last month she gave him only fifteen calls and four text messages, that's a huge reduction, don't you think?" I nodded at her math, wondering what she was alluding to.

"Meanwhile messages for or from you, which only averaged two in the months before, are now at forty-five, most of those in the last two weeks. And calls...at least every day and every night you've made a call. Thankfully we're on a bundle which includes a lot of messages and minutes, but somehow the math adds up that no matter what you and my daughter could've done to hide from me, I would've eventually found out, be it through my bills or finding out the way I did."

I directed a funny look her way, the lie built up through the last few weeks seeming that much more porous through what she mentioned. I knew there was probably one more sign that told her all that she needed to know.

"You must have thought something else was amiss when I used the Porsche to pick Rory up." She nodded and told me of her theories before Rory confirmed the date.

"At first I figured you two were using the Wesson cover as a night to go out on the town, paint it red, relax as you hit on guys 80 IQ points dumber than you. I would've definitely been fine with you two just going out cruising, both you and Rory spend so much time between the spines of a book that a wild night out was just fine, and I knew you were covering something up, I just wasn't going to say anything unless I got called up for an extradition hearing." She smirked at her own nervous joke, then stated her conclusion. "I just didn't know that there were no guys coming into play, period."

I defended the reason I went all out for the date. "I wanted her to feel special, she didn't seem to get that from Dean and I've heard her trying to bluff off all the 'How are you two lovebirds' questions from Louise at lunch, it's like she was ashamed of going out with him because he treated her so...so..." I tried looking for the word, thinking about when I saw those two together. It came to me, but in a phrase instead. "Like he took her for granted. He gives her a cheap bracelet and occasionally throws an expensive trinket her way, listens just enough to get her the right gift, and does just enough to show how much he wants her. Just enough." I wring my hands, feeling all I want for Rory unhinged. "Rory isn't a 'just enough' kind of girl, why would Dean get such a wonderful girl such as her and just regard her like he did? I would spend my last dime to impress her and here he is with his budget cakes and cheap dates, and the car...the car! When Rory said that she was shocked her grandfather found it unsafe, I didn't blame him because that thing looked put together with duct tape, poor-quality welds and a shoddy exhaust system that wouldn't get through the first step of emissions. I just wanted to give her a good time--" I stop as I realize I've gone way beyond the answer I had in mind; I was now in an unfocused ramble telling Rory's mom that from afar, I worshiped the ground she walked on and couldn't stand that Caveman wasn't treating her in an acceptable matter, at least to my standards.

I look back down, and try to minimize what I just said by going back into my hidden cocoon. "I'm sorry, OK Ms. Gilmore? I don't think you'd understand how it feels to know the person you like, really deep, deep down is in your grasp, and you're--"

"Becoming a rambling wreck?" she interrupted. She shook her head and stopped me in my tracks. "I just dealt with one in the living room, and I'm just beginning to truly understand what's been going on between the two of you." Lorelai looked at me, trying to figure out why on earth Rory was so infatuated with me. Weird, because I still can't fathom that Rory likes me so much myself.

"They certainly write up a chapter about this in the Mother's Encyclopedia," I off-handed. "I mean when I'm with her it just seems so right, like I'm not who I usually am, scared that 96% equals a failure in the eyes of my mother and Harvard admissions. We've had screwups aplenty, but yet we bounce back stronger than before."

"Maybe that's just your conscience nagging you that this is right," Lorelai surmised. "Rory is a good kid, but in turn she has the Gilmore gene of stubbornness that I know I have and Emily has a mutated form of it. That's why she probably keeps with you hon, she thinks there's something in there that I can't see, and..." She looked at me straight-eyed. "She makes good decisions, takes all the time in the world to make sure what she's doing is right. It's unconventional, but for a girl like her, it seems to work."

I then asked if Rory mentioned the pro/con list where I found out her true feelings for me; Lorelai seemed to take this as a piece of new information that was just breaking to her.

"No way!!" Where I thought her feeling was going that of being angry at being denied certain information, instead she was excited about it. "A pro/con list?"

I nodded, unsure now if I should've divulged the RN notebook. "It's how I learned she liked me. More of the final clue actually."

"So cerebral my daughter, she told me about the long plan she had to draw you closer, but I didn't expect the payoff to be so, dull. Here I was thinking fireworks and parade music, but it's just so Rory instead." Laughing at the way I was taken to Rory, the older woman still couldn't believe the way we came together, along with the mere fact we had two full weeks logged without a major international incident.

She was giving me a look, telling me that she wanted to read the RN notebook, somehow just not for parental concern, but for blackmail material. Rory would kill me for sure if I ever showed her mom this notebook because though without the hearts and unicorn drawing of most proof of crush admission, the way she talked about me in several aspects was kind of in the way you never share with any authority figure, ever.

"I'm not telling you where it is," I firmly stated.

"Aww, please Paris?" Lorelai pouts and I try to avoid her trying to get to me. I shook my head firmly and stood my ground.

"We have a right to have a few secrets, as Rory did with Dean."

"There's no way to bribe you? Not with a Franklin story of some kind involving this town? How about macaroni and cheese, Rory said you love the stuff--"

I smirked. "My lips are sealed."

"Damn you." The confrontation I was expecting to happen, well, it wasn't coming, because she was humored by me more than thinking of us as the worst thing in the world. "I guess I can live without the behind the scenes dirt, for now."

I asked to make sure that indeed, all was well. "Wait, does this mean...that, that you're OK with us? Us in a together kind of sense?"

"Maybe," she hinted softly. "Talking to Rory, talking to you, it seems like there's a connection here that no grounding or restrictions could break. Your IQs are even, you respect adults and authority figures, as far as I know you have no felonies, and despite your surface grouchiness, you're a good human being. Everything I'd look for in the perfect mate in my daughter, minus one part and plus two others, emphasis on plus." With a smirk I found myself annoyed at her continued teasing about my sudden undress.

"Ms. Gilmore," I growled, rolling my eyes, though trying to hold back some mirth at her hidden bust compliment.

Lorelai was non-chalant about it. "Hey, if you got 'em, flaunt 'em."

"Oy, please, not another joke." I brought a couple of fingers to my temples, trying to deal with the suddenness of this all. "Look, I know that I didn't want this at first when the feelings started to come, I wanted to run far away from them because I'm not supposed to think about her like that. But I just can't connect with anyone else so close, in such an intimate way, and she understands me more. The kissing and cuddling, a nice bonus, yes. But with Rory, I feel safe and liked for what I am, not what everyone expects me to be. It's different to be with her, it's not like a guy where you constantly have to find a comfortable topic. Anything with Rory," I smile, "is something she wants to talk about. That she even regards me as a friend is wonderful. But as the girl she likes..." I wander off, feeling afraid that Lorelai might think it too much to describe her daughter the way that I am. "I still can't believe it."

"I can't either," Lorelai repeats. "Being in that living room, next to Rory as she went on about how her 'girlfriend' was, it was just so jarring, at every opportunity I wanted to jump in and say 'don't you mean boyfriend?'. But I couldn't, because that girlfriend is you, and she seems like she's going to devote all she can to the idea of a you two. I mean when she was talking about Dean, she wasn't at the point of describing the romanticism of a date, the simple gestures you show to say I care, how this all built up so slowly through the summer until she realized that she wanted something else." The older woman looked at me and smiled, nervously playing with her hands and still trying to wrap her mind around this shock.

"I guess I should be thankful that she didn't repeat my mistake," which she quickly disclaimed like she always did, "the best mistake of my life, but still. It's not as if I could ever know things would be like this, there's no parental crystal ball and I don't have that Raven girl's psychic vision thing going on. And it's not as if you're Pinky Tuscadero, ready to corrupt her away from her life as she knows it. You're a smart, well-raised, good read and nice girl, I should be thankful that Rory is with someone like you, a perfect match for her."

"Well, not so perfect," I said. "I have a short fuse and somehow I make your relationship with Emily look happy in comparison to my mother." Rory had admitted sharing some specific details of my home life with Ms. Gilmore, but not enough that she knew every single thing about me.

Laughing, I was surprised to hear Lorelai start talking about Sharon. "You know, I always clash with her at the parent meetings, she's so stubborn and against anything that might push Chilton into the 21st century. I remember a few months ago the motion for a PowerBook for every student that eventually passed? Apple was going to pay for everything, yet here's your mother, against the entire deal. She called Charleston a corporate shill and said he just dropped an opening for pedophiles and terrorists to get at the students."

"What?" I was shocked, Sharon never talked about parent meetings, and if she did it was usually to complain about the dress of the 'new money' parents. "Why would she be against it?"

"I don't know, she's just...I don't know." Thinking she had to stop in front of me, Lorelai tried to reel back. "I don't mean to say anything bad about her, I know--"

"Ms. Gilmore, it's OK, I understand how it looks, and you're right, she's not the best cheerleader for my life, I'm just learning to admit that." I assured her nothing she said would get back to her. "I was thankful the computer motion got through, Miss Peters helped write out the plan after your daughter noticed one of the scholarship students having problems getting lab time since she had nothing to use at home to write a paper. She definitely came up with a great plan, and a persuasive letter that helped Apple make the offer."

"Really?" She smiled, and I nodded.

"Your daughter doesn't think for herself, she sees the big picture of everything and goes from there, the only selfish thing she does around me is ask for a little bit more column space. There are so many things I like about her, and she knows where she came from. That's why I crave your approval, and want your trust, because without it, I might as well be adrift, and I don't want you mad at me." I felt myself compromising for the sake of Ms. Gilmore was the best thing to do, no matter her terms.

Thankfully her laissez-faire parenting style worked in my favor, because after a few more minutes of talking about what made us come together and our plans for coming out, she thought for a bit about the rules she wanted me to live under as I dated her daughter. She didn't give me a full endorsement; in other words, I'm now under a 'Gilmore dating probationary period', where Lorelai would be judge, jury, and executioner, and any violation of her rules, there would be consequences.

"First of all, she's not going in your Porsche anymore," she stated.

"I'm a safe--"

"Driver, yes, but after last week, she will not go in your Porsche. I know she drove it," she shook her head and smiled. "She got it out of her system, and now she goes back in your sane Jaguar from now on."

"Fine." I half-smiled and listened to her other regulations.

"She will keep her grades up, and you will not exchange any answers or write reports similar to hers. It's hard enough you two are together, but being 1-2 at Chilton will raise some eyebrows. Third, curfew is now hard at 9:45pm school nights, 11 on weekends, my darling daughter needs sleep."

On and on she went, giving me some more rules, including paying 50% of treat and rental costs on Gilmore movie nights if I was over, a call before I came over on the weekends, that Rory's bedroom door would stay open from now on as long as I was over here, and I was to eat dinner with them at here at the house once a week and catch her up on our lives, and I would have to pass any dating plan by her.

A couple more rules would be listed, as Lorelai made it clear that if I slept over I could sleep in Rory's room, but only in a sleeping bag at her bedside, and that hands were to be kept at waist level when we were near each other in the house.

"Finally," she clarified, "You break her heart Paris, I will break your kneecaps." Taken aback by her serious tone of voice, I asked if she was serious.

"Damn right I'm serious blondie, you've just taken on Stars Hollow's #1 citizen as your girlfriend, this town protects her like the Palace Guard protects the Queen. I don't expect either of you to come out right away, both Miss Patty and I will give you a huge security blanket to build up your relationship without town interference." I never saw Ms. Gilmore this serious before, except when she searched wildly for Madeline and Louise in the New York apartment building when they went off during the concert. It really got to me though, how she was protective over Rory. "However, this town is porous when it comes to gossip and seeing anything that looks funny, trust me when I say you must be on guard at all times. They're already watching you like a hawk, ready to jump on you if something doesn't look right. I will accept everything in time, but only, if you accept my rules. I don't ever want to carry out my last rule, I really don't." She put a hand to my back and rubbed my hair. "You're a good kid, and Rory is absolutely enchanted with you. I really want to accept this, but in turn Paris, you need to help your cause, make it clear to me that you're doing this for the right reasons."

"Ms. Gilmore," I said softly, "I know this is right. I never have doubts about things, and that includes Rory." Looking at my hands, I ran one of them along the quilt and afghan atop Rory's bed. My thoughts wandered to her, wherever she was.

"Where is she?" I asked, because it seemed strange for her to not be here.

"I had her run out to Joe's for the pizza I was getting for all of us; no cheese, right?"

"Of course," I responded. "I guess this means, you're letting me stay?"

Lorelai nodded, and slid her hand down my back. "Why would I have you leave?"

"I don't know..."

She rubbed my back, trying to calm my nerves. "You're my daughter's friend, one who happens to have been mothered by a woman who makes mine a Nobel Peace Prize candidate by comparison. I can't stop you two from seeing each other, I know that, and I won't, because the way she talked about you, it seems like you've had a hard life so far. Not Burning Bed awful, but still, I can relate to you so much." She went on to theorize that she saw parallels in me, the way I didn't want to stay within the society template, my quietness and the way I went on with my life that though not an exact match with her teenage years, was a stark contrast. I'm leading more of a quiet rebellion against her, while Lorelai against Emily wasn't just burning bridges, as the ESPN president quoted about Keith Olbermann's job status once, she napalmed them.

"I just want Rory to be happy," she concluded, "and if that's you who's giving her the happiness, why not? You're perfect, just a girl, that's all."

I hated to bring up the most obvious line ever in the history of 'romancing the product of a teenage mother' couplings, but the lead-in was too perfect to not broach it.

"By the way, I was telling the truth earlier when you thought we were on the fast track to having sex Ms. Gilmore, I'm going to take things at her speed, her way. I know you're thinking that just because I can't get her pregnant that I'll take advantage of that, but I'll hold off, for her--"

Surprisingly, Lorelai cut into my monologue and reined me in, giving me a check into reality and what poetic imagery can do to mess up the mind.

"Paris, I hate to break it to you, but relationships don't have rules or boundaries, so I don't want you to make promises, just let me trust you. You're both going to do things you didn't expect, do things that you think are out of your character, and get distracted at the wrong times because you're all moony for each other. I'm talking from experience; I didn't go into my relationship with Rory's father thinking I'd do what I did and end up with her, but before I knew it, the promises I made at the start to not go too deep didn't mean much."

"So you're saying be careful, but just let things take us where they might." I looked at Lorelai's mother, and though her expression didn't read that she was totally accepting of me as of yet, I was off to a fine start with her.

"You've found the wisdom, oh young one," she intoned. "That's exactly what I'm saying."

"Probably might help if I wear a bra here from now on, right?" I shook my head, but after all of this, self-depreciation made things much easier on me, it's good to joke about myself from time to time.

"A lot of help, geeze, don't you need a license for those things?"  I blushed, and we continued to talk things over for the next ten minutes, moving into the living room as Ms. Gilmore got ready for dinner and the massive amounts of pizza to be had.

"No, it's OK, I'll go after I eat," I tried to say, thinking that she didn't want my company. "You probably have to catch up with Rory, and I don't want to be in the way..."

"Paris, please stay," she pleaded. "I'm not mad at you, and I'm not mad at her, really."

"It's fine, don't worry about it..." I frowned as I saw that Ms. Gilmore thought it sad that I wasn't staying, her eyes reflecting that she wanted to get to know me more than just the intense girl who's trying to capture her daughter's heart. Here I was, a fun night laid out in front of me, and I was being what I think they call a 'buzzkiller' because I didn't want to stay. She pointed out my mother's friends and their lack of fun, calling them the 'Beardstown Ladies' and making fun of them in a way that was dead-on and made me laugh.

"I suppose she'd probably get over it and have fun with her ladies," I surmised.

"Besides, I have the perfect movie for you, Rory, and your newfound gaiety..." she smiled as she decided not to reveal this information, but from Ror's description of her first date night with Dean, I had a guess.

"Willie Wonka?" I couldn't stand that movie in actuality because it was Madeline's favorite movie, used for every sleepover at her and Louise's from five on. Those weird short people with green hair were fixtures in my younger years nightmares, and the day her tape finally broke five years ago was on of the best days I ever had.

Too bad two years later, she found it again on DVD at Tower. Damn you, digital age!

Lorelai thankfully shook her head. "Actually, something a little bit more appropriate, and it's perfectly cheesy, horrible, awful, and guaranteed to make you either laugh out loud, or cringe. Trust me, you're gonna like this one."

"Not the English Patient, I assume."

She shook her head. "Do I look like I could sit through that for three hours?"

"Probably not." Suddenly, there was a knock on the door, which startled me out of my skin. "What on earth--"

She sprang up out of her seat and got giddy. "I think Rory needs help with the pizza." I settled down a little. "Why don't you help her out?"


"Yeah, it's time for you dear, to get to work and grovel down for my acceptance." She sat back down on the couch and propped her legs onto the coffee table. "Come on, up, up, up, we're both hungry!"

"Fine." I shook my head, and prepared to face this 'hard work' I would have to do. At least through this hour with Ms. Gilmore I learned that she'll be tolerant with us and accepting. She's not quite at the point of wearing rainbow shirts and putting a 'proud mother of a lesbian' bumper sticker on the Jeep, but I just need her to know I intend to treat her daughter well, and hope that she fully accepts us, in time. Rory is a wonderful girl with a strong mother, and I need Ms. Gilmore in my corner if I'm going to be with Rory full-tilt.

Smiling and relived that nothing bad came out of our talk, I walked into the foyer, and feeling totally relaxed, opened the door for Rory, who was holding three medium pizzas in her hands tightly, boxes stacked atop each of other. She was looking down at them, but instead of handing off the boxes to me...she looked like she had something planned.

Oh brother, did she ever have a plan.

"I have three pizzas here for a Paris Gellar, one works, one sausage-mushroom-pepperoni, one with extra sauce, no cheese. Are you Paris?"

"Of course I am, what are you doing--" At this point, I wasn't on to her plan.

"That's $21.63, plus tip. Are you paying with cash, or a check?" She sounded just like a pizza delivery girl.

Flabbergasted, I felt like she somehow lost all her brain cells on the way back from Joe's. "Uh, you just bought all of that, I don't have to pay you anything."

"You expected a free pizza?" She scoffs in indignation. "Do you have any money?"

"I'm not paying for a pizza you already bought," I argued back.

"They just made this pizza, I'm delivering it." She smirked at me, trying to think of something. "So you don't have the money?"

I tell her that I have the money, but I'm not repaying for an already paid-for order of pizzas.

"You have a good point," she said cutely, smirking. "I'm still afraid I can't give this to you unpaid however, so I have to think of a way you could fulfill your end of the obligation." Lost in thought, I still was wondering what she was doing, telling me I have to pay for something I expected without cost.

"I know!" Her face brightened as the idea bulb in her head came on. "You can kiss me, I'll take that for payment."

"Kiss you?" I was puzzled by her suggestion. "But you just said it was a $21 order, how does that--"

She backed me into the foyer, placing the food on the hall tree's shelf, then placing her arms at my wrist. "You weren't kidding when you said you were somewhat of a pop culture dunce, were you?" Rory smiled down at me, her thumbs brushing the hair on my arms, making it stand on end. Again, I ask if I have to pay for the pizzas or not.

I guess I learned that I didn't have to when she brought herself closer, then slowly kissed at me tenderly and softly, her plump lips making it clear that she knew she was in her house with her mother a room away, but she was more than willing to show her affection for me in house. Quickly the pizza argument was forgotten, and I was able to clasp my hands inside of hers as I fell more into the kiss. Up against that hall tree, I felt an ease I hadn't for the last two weeks, not having to be scared about having to hide what I really felt for Rory around someone, especially the most important person in her life.

Free...that's how I felt. I couldn't describe really how much that minute-long embrace made me feel, but the kiss felt as powerful as our first when we admitted. It told Lorelai that this is us, Rory and I, the couple. That we felt things beyond friendship for each other, that there is a bond here we can't deny.

We're not afraid to show affection, and that's the most surprising thing. When I released from the kiss, I felt winded, yet kept my hands within Rory's, and kept this silly smile on my face that strained my facial muscles, and I didn't want to let it go. My brown eyes met her clear blue, and I didn't have to hide it from Lorelai, who was watching it all from the doorway of the living room.

Oh, I forgot she kind of made a wolf whistle and said 'Down girl' towards Rory, but I have selective hearing; we won't let that detail ruin this picture of us.

"I liked that," Rory said softly to me, her hand along my index finger on the right side. "That was great."

"Yeah..." I was still shocked about all that went on tonight. "Do you need anything for the pizza?"

She rolled her eyes and sighed. "I paid for it, do you not know the 'pizza delivery' routine that's been in many a movie?"

Baffled, I said what she had done didn't remind me of any movie I ever saw.

"Paris, really, what other thing can be used to pay off a service worker if the consumer has no money, and is usually seen initiated with Ron Jeremy in the service worker role?" Smiling, she offered another look at my chest, and it was finally then that I connected the dots. I think I'd be right in saying the payment form wasn't a promissory note.

"Ooohhh...I got it now," I realized. "You mean..."

"That which shall not be mentioned in the presence of my mom?"

"And cooled down to fit a PG rating?" Why were my hormones suddenly feeling a huge sense of disappointment that I couldn't do exactly what the role of me as the 'non-payer' could do to my 'deliverywoman'? Somehow I see myself having a dream about this in the next few days. "Is it wrong that I feel like I still have to catch up with you a little?"

"Of course not," she said. "Mom's picking out the movie?" I grabbed my pizza as Rory took her's and Ms. Gilmore's and we headed into the living room, where she was getting a DVD from the shelves. My eyes then landed on one right on top of the shelf with a familiar yellow brick motif that makes me sick to this day...

"OH GOD!!" I shrieked, pointing at the offending title. "Please don't make me watch that, please, please, can you hide it? Don't make me look at that cover!" I cowered in fear, that longtime feeling back in my stomach stirring it towards vomiting and certain fears.

"Are you OK?" Rory was taken aback by my sudden behavior. "It's just...The Wizard of Oz, what's wrong with that movie?"

"What's wrong with that movie? Everything's wrong with that movie," I cried. "Mother made me watch it when I was two and said if I didn't behave, flying monkeys would throw me beneath a airborne house and squash me, and she said that her garden was full of those talking and moving trees, so don't go near it! I cannot watch Oz without fearing for my life!"

"But it's a magical story--" Lorelai tried to interrupt my thought track, but I had to get out my fears.

"I couldn't go to the apple orchard on a field trip because when I did I got scared that the trees would stone me with McIntoshes, and I still have nightmares about those midget people." By now I was hyperventilating and scared; I really, really, really never got over my fear of that movie. "I even gave Louise a black eye because she tried giving it to me as a gag bat mitzvah gift, that's how much it scares me! I'm so sorry, but I just can't stand that film, and the black-and-white-to-Techicolor transition..." I shuddered, settling on the couch as thankfully Lorelai quickly ran the DVD from the living room and into a junk drawer in the kitchen.

"So I guess the Dark Side of Oz won't be on the schedule next week," Lorelai yelled from the kitchen.

"Mom!" Rory smiled and draped a blanket across the both of us as she sat next to me. "I think we found your Frosty the Snowman, I'm sorry."

"That's the movie that scares you the most?" I asked.

"I can't take a melting manifestation of a human, too much for this girl to take." She settled against me and smiled. "At least we know you fear something, Mom was convinced you were made of lead."

"I still am as far as everyone else is concerned," I threatened, "Not a word Gilmore." I felt so comfortable that I couldn't take my most threatening tone with her talking to me this way; telling her all these fears that I haven't even told Birmbaum, she'd think it was so silly to be afraid of a kid's movie. Truth be told, most of them just scare me, taking me to this other world where all is unfamiliar and there's always an unexpected thing. I'll stick to literary versions of film, as long as it isn't Dr. Seuss.

Thankfully, Ms. Gilmore had a little more eclectic choice of film, and five minutes later, we were basking in the cinematic mess that is Switchblade Sisters. With a popcorn bowl between Rory and I, all three of us sat there and started to watch this movie from the 70's that somehow got distribution, and made Tara Reid shine in comparison. Twenty minutes in, I saw why Lorelai chose it for movie night; all of these girls were token everything; you had the innocent girl with the heart of gold, the battle-worn gangster girl, a bunch of minor thugs, and of course, the token 'butch girl'. Of course back in those days you couldn't scream the word 'lesbian' out, so you just put some brunette in a Fonzie jacket and let the audience draw the expected conclusion.

"Why does this seem like Chilton's production of Hair last year?" I commented, knowing my mocking skills were somewhat undeveloped. "And that guy in the suspenders, he looks like Robin Williams circa Mork and Mindy!" This movie was just awful; but awful to the Gilmores equals gold. I couldn't help but laugh, what with Rory's running commentary about the innocent girl who would later end up pregnant and then cut in a knife fight or something, the irony just being delicious.

It's just strange sitting here next to Rory all those hours later, and where I thought my life was over the moment the door whipped open and I'd be home by now being bitched out by Mother for 'this pathetic and self-loathing life path you chose', everything is fine, all is normal. I finally have a sanctuary, where to a point I can show how I really feel about Ror, and nothing will happen. Maybe an odd look from Lorelai because this is so odd to her, but besides that, I can be sweet, I don't have to be so bitter and caustic.

Really, I don't know how to feel right now, like I've gained an ally, or dodged a bullet. Treading carefully is the way to approach things for now, careful to take how Ms. Gilmore wants me to treat Rory. I think I can do it...

And that's the problem, that I can only think, not fully devote. That there's still so much within me that wants to do more than cuddle and hold hands, as what we're doing now. But what we did before, behind the door, before Lorelai walked in on us, it still spins that only a couple hours before, Rory's hands were at my bare waist, her eyes were raking me over erotically, her voice so sultry and tempting. I mean God, I was taken into second gear, and then the brakes were applied in such a jarring way. I can't forget that had Ms. Gilmore not opened that door, that instead of watching a movie with her in the room, I could be in Rory's bed, beyond reproach, numbed, my heart just beginning to slow down. That perhaps Rory and I would be in that bed, with but a layer between us, just eyeing each other up, whispering small things only we know to each other until slowly, reluctantly, I dress slowly, wanting to soak in that for four hours, we just shamelessly made out with no one in the way to stop us except for the occasional ringing phone and Morse code of 'S-M-S' from one of our cells.

I admit it; had Ms. Gilmore never opened that door, I probably would've dropped my resolve and let Rory go further, let her slide the camisole I wore off, just do with me what she must. In turn, I would've fallen deeper into her, and let her self-gratificate against me like she begged to do. It was shocking to hear "I want to get off" from her, but that she even brought me into that state of seduction, it was telling me she finds me beautiful. She was rambling on about my shoulders of all things, my shoulders! Everything is telling me that I need to stop this before it gets deep, that I need to slow down and apply these brakes, because despite my plea to Lorelai that I was taking things 'Ice Age slow', I also have to take in mind that the Ice Age started with a quick bang.

Damn it, I want more, OK? I want to be able to be in a room alone with Gilmore and do whatever I want, not have to self-edit just for modesty's sake. It felt nice being drawn in from that academic Harvard session and right into her arms with just a simple massage, nothing broad or grandiose. As I look at my girlfriend, it's great to know in at least one house in the world and with one other person, I can say that word without having someone get all Jack Van Impe on me. That I can relax and not have to put up a self-imposed shield around my heat.

That I can just smile and enjoy the delicious pizza, wonderful company, and overwrought acting unfolding on the screen. Now this is how a date should be, even with maternal supervision nearby. Two out of two so far, I think to myself, you never thought you'd have this record back in the 'taking your cousin to the Winter Formal for appearances' days.

Suddenly, I feel Rory's hand playing at my waist; her left hand, because her right is next to my left in the popcorn bowl. She looks all innocent above the blanket to all appearances from Lorelai, but below it, that hand of hers is awfully wandery. I startle, looking at Ms. Gilmore, too buried in mocking the movie to look towards our direction.

"Par?" she whispers.


"I talked to Miss Patty while I waited for the pizza, she gave me a few pointers." Her voice is detectable to no one but me, since I'm leaning against her shoulder.

"It's...it's fine," I say, truthfully. "But your mom..."

"Is too distracted to notice as I do this. Follow my lead." I see her retract her right hand, and bring her left hand away from me. She lifts it out from the blanket, and then into the bowl. Not knowing what she's about to pull, I retract my left and pull my right out and into the popcorn bowl. I kept an eye nervously to Lorelai, too busy mocking the horrible lack of authority at the school setting for this film, as the gang members ruled the campus with an iron fist. If that ever happened at Chilton, the parents would behead Charleston.

Imagine my surprise when her hand doesn't move back to my waist; instead she moves it slowly from my side and up around behind my shirts, the cami and sweater, until it rests on my back, where she starts to scratch below the bra line slowly and seductively. Somehow there's enough space for her to maneuver around, and once again, the innocent small town girl I had taken as not having many surprises, is so shamelessly within the sight of her mother, seducing me even further into her clutches.

My eyes widen, and there should've been some suspicions by Lorelai, but when she looked towards us, she just saw us as having a blanket above us and close like a couple in a toothpaste commercial, nothing more. She went back to the movie, and that's when Rory turned me from stone hard and stiff, to liquid and calm, her hand at the middle of my back, no bra to stop her.

"You know..." she says in a deep hush. "I would've taken off my shirt had we gone further. I just love massaging you Par, you're so soft, so smooth...so beautiful."

"Th-th-thank you," I respond back shakily. "It feels real nice."

"I know it does." She smiles, and then I made a move of my own, deciding to startle her and give her a taste of her own medicine. Carefully, I place my hand on her thigh, lower at first, running my palm along the soft denim of those blue jeans that somehow formed against her ass just right.

Yes, I just complimented Rory's rear end, I'm allowed to be shallow once in awhile!

For five minutes I keep my hand there, and as I feel myself on the inside moan from the flittery and soft touches from her fingers and nails, up to and including scratching my name and hers in my back, including what I think is a heart shape, I decide it might be fun to test her out, see where she is as far as intimacy. She did let me rip her shirt off, albeit accidentally, I think.

Slowly, I work my hand higher up her thigh, first towards the middle. No reaction yet. She still concentrates on the movie, lazy circles and figures on and just outside my spinal column making me start to tire. Higher again, much more than last month when I was soothing her in the car, I'd say I'd be two inches into her Chilton skirt if she was wearing it. Again I look at Lorelai; no suspicions. I shift my palm higher, higher, higher...

I feel the bottom rivet at the pocket of her jeans, and she starts to react. I feel her shift in her seat, but unlike Dean she's not acting as if she wants me to retract, she pushes closer, in turn her hand moving more to the right of my back. I shallowly breathe, wanting to whinny out her name, yet holding back, keeping my lips sealed. It's becoming like a game, how risky can we get before Lorelai turns from friendly and stern. Both of us, pushing the envelope.

She makes as if she's leaning on my shoulder, in reality her hand is moving to wrap around me completely beneath the blanket. I push higher, more inside of her thigh. Her eyes in the dim light darken as she stares at me, and I do the same to her. We know exactly where things are going, keeping just enough concentration on the movie to describe things, but not into the plot.

Her right hand is now at my right side, I hold back the first impulse to say things are getting too hot. I'm definitely violating Lorelai's touch level, but she can't notice that, not with the layer between us. I'm now above the Mendoza line of indecency, the back of my hand touching the seam of Rory's jeans pocket. Her face is contorted between normalcy and sensuality. I can tell, she wants to give in. I move inside, she moves outside, her fingers playing almost at the point where my breast meets my side, she slides beneath the thin band of the shelf of it. My mouth is wide open, and I try to hide the reaction I have with a handful of Jolly Time, able to hide the reaction of a moan behind the buttery taste.

I move in closer...closer...closer. I'm in no woman's land now. My fingers run along the pull of her jeans zipper, and all she's giving me to go on is our secret signal; that smile that says 'go ahead and play'. She wants this...oh my God. What a surprise this is.

I was supposed to stop by now, put on the brakes. But I don't want to, and somehow I think Gilmore doesn't want to. I mean here we are, sitting on a sofa with her mother three feet away, and she's completely ignored because we're falling so completely into each other, that we can't keep our hands off each other. Her hand drifts higher and deeper against where my breast starts, and my fingers slide across the teeth of her jeans zipper. My index finger and thump clasp the zip, and I work it down, softly, so it isn't heard. Just enough to do what I need to do.

Her hand finally brushes my breast, and I moan quietly, thankful for the popcorn. I'm not letting her win, Rory is going to have to take my silence for now. She then moves her hand down, innocently brushing her fingers across the sensitive bottom until she reaches my stomach, where she finally rests her hand.

I slide down the catch of her zipper just enough to be able to brush inside with my index finger, and I slowly, watching her eyes and her mouthing for permission, to dip it in. I play with the material as she grabs a bit of popcorn to eat; soft cotton, as I expect. Her breathing is shallow, her speeded heartbeat a guarantee to me. Slowly, I run my finger along the right side of the zipper teeth, imagining what she might be wearing. I can't believe she's letting me get this close, so close that I know Dean hasn't even been at this territory.

Ice age slow...Ice age slow...ice age slow...The words to describe our relationship, suddenly feel like they're changing over from the truth, and into a lie. I'm not going to do anything but toy a little, but there's a tight pull here that I can't help. I'm seeing more in myself the aggressor that turned Rory's chopstick lesson into a makeout session than the shy girl I was around Tristan. I push my finger closer, closer, pushing her panty material along her lips. She's not relenting, she wants me to do this. I keep thinking about her touch along my breast, how at this moment, an immediate change of panties will be needed, perhaps a cold shower, I can feel myself contract even though there's nothing sensual happening down there.

I can sense the outline, and I push the material up in a torturous way, just as Rory puts the popcorn in her mouth, the pad of my fingerprint can feel the line of moisture start where I am...

"EhhoohhhhmmOooouuuccchhh!!" This moan from Rory gets Lorelai's attention, and quickly I feel Rory's hand retreat from my side. We've been caught...somewhat. I move my hand back to outside her thigh as Lorelai's attention is turned towards us.

"Kiddo, you OK?"

A very apparent blush registers on Rory's face, one I damn well know I caused. She fakes a choke, and then with the most innocent look on her face, explains herself.

"Yeah..." Rory says, as she lets an unpopped hull fall from her mouth and into her hand. "Bit down on one of these, I need to do a better job avoiding them." She puts it back into the bowl, and I pause in fear, wondering if I have indeed gone too far and if Ms. Gilmore did actually notice anything.

She shakes her head and makes a quick quip about unpopped popcorn hulls being devices of evil, and then gets right back to the movie. Rory then leans on my shoulder again, and after two minutes of silence, she wraps her hand around my back above my clothes, and softly notes what just ensued.

"Thanks a lot, I'll be thinking about that all night." Her whisper is soft and wanting, and teasing.

"As will I," I respond. "I can't help it."

"You know how hard it's going to be this weekend without you?"

"I'll be going kicking and screaming, but that's why I have all those cell minutes and the PowerBook." We start to watch the movie again, and she lets me know with a snuck kiss when Lorelai looks towards the window as a siren in downtown sounds that she'll be missing me too.

God, I'm going to hate Florida this year even more than usual; ever since the divorce the new tradition is that Mother drags me down to Ormond Beach for Thanksgiving to see her side of the family, and I hate them all. My aunts and uncles are stupid and annoying, and let's not even mention the kids, dirty and noisy. Every year despite my advanced age and disdain for the young, I sit at the kiddie table, having to take care of the little brats that are usually the result of the condom breaking or too much drinking, while eating the worst turkey and trimmings south of the Mason/Dixon line; do I even have to note the 'cranberry sauce' is cranberry Jell-O, and I get picked on by everyone because of my stubborn Jewishness and refusal to violate dietary guidelines?

The tradition of the DeBartolo and Martinez men around the screen watching football is only matched in inanity by the women of the family talking about their latest marriage chances like they're in the NCAA basketball tourney pool. Then the annual tradition of everyone going down to Disney World on Saturday, of course bankrolled courtesy of Sharon's high holiday time alimony payments, which I feel should be nothing considering all she put Daddy through. About the only advantage of the whole thing is being able to work on my tan while down there.

Oh, and Mohegan Man will be there. The Lord giveth (Rory), thus he's gotta take something away (respect for anyone on the maternal side of the coin).

Rory looks at me, and I know she'll treasure all the time we have until Wednesday early dismissal, when I have to leave. But at least I know leaving Hartford, that I have Ms. Gilmore's blessing, that gave me a big boost that I can take the relationship into something more, which I want, and certainly from tonight, Rory wants. She's going to give me all the trust that I have, and I'm going to do my best not to blow this. Knowing me, I'm going to need more than a four-leaf clover to keep this lucky streak going. Lorelai is only one person of many that we have to tell, and both Rory and I know that someone is eventually not going to be happy with the idea of us as a couple.

I want this to work, and I'm going to devote all I have to being the best girlfriend that I can to Rory. I can't think of the future right now, I have to build things up for now in the present.

Then again, it's an admirable goal, working to be Ror's first, then last girlfriend. I hope things end up working out to be that long, but judging from her playing footsie with me right now, there's just a good chance I might get that far...

To be continued...

All the Crazy Gals Come Out on Monday Night Nate

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