DISCLAIMER: I do not own these characters, or the episode would have gone like this.
SPOILERS: This is a rewrite of the Season Two episode " Bracebridge Dinner."
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Bracebridge After Dinner
By speakpirate


Paris Gellar was feeling nervous and driving fast, the pile of Franklin articles on the passenger seat sliding repeatedly over the leather upholstery as she took each turn at break neck speed. She was making the now familiar drive to Stars Hollow. To Rory. Paris sucked in her breath and pressed harder on the accelerator as she thought about her friend. Almost her best friend. And her - not crush, exactly. Paris would never be so juvenile as to have a crush on anyone. More like her person of interest. Extreme interest, if she was honest with herself. Ever since their one night kissing stand, Paris had spent very little time thinking of anyone else. Granted, it had been almost a year ago, but it's not like that made her pathetic or anything.

Paris remembered the somewhat awkward conversation they had the next day at school. Where they agreed that it was just a weird night, and that it didn't mean anything. It seemed at the time like Rory might be lying, maybe something in the tone of her voice. And she'd apologized for bursting into tears and explained that she'd just been upset about Dean. Stung by her sudden exit the night before, the mention of Mr. Tall Dark and Hulking, and the idea that the most meaningful thing Paris had ever felt didn't mean anything to Rory, Paris had played along and kept her true feelings stashed squarely away inside herself. If there's one thing the Gellars are good at, she thought, it's repressing our emotions.

Or not, she reconsidered, as she glanced over at the newspaper work she was delivering. Miserable at the thought of spending two weeks of winter break without seeing Rory at all, Paris had decided to make the first newspaper issue of winter term a double edition, which would require more work and necessitate seeing and/or talking to Rory numerous times over the vacation. Including tonight, she reflected, following the directions Rory had provided for the Independence Inn.

Inside the inn, Rory felt her heart leap a little every time someone new entered the room. She was expecting Paris to stop by at any moment. She felt a bolt of impatience with all the townies who were filtering in, simply because they weren't her stunningly pretty and over-excitable blond friend. Almost best friend, at least at Chilton. And hopeless crush object. Rory sighed inwardly. It had been almost a year since the misguided kiss at Madeline's party. She felt so terrible about blowing what might have been her one chance with Paris by running off in tears. She'd tried to talk to Paris about it the next day, but it was really awkward and Paris had been giving mostly hollow robotic sounding responses. And then channeling all of her frustration into frantic energy for their government project. It wasn't fair, Rory thought, that by the time she realized that Paris was the one she wanted, she'd already passed up her big chance.

Shifting her weight from one foot to the other as she looked over the guest list, she remembered the kiss. No matter how many times she replayed it in her mind, it never lost its spark. Her stomach got butterflies every time. Maybe it wasn't actually too late. Maybe she could convince Paris to give it another chance. Maybe tonight.

Right on cue, Paris entered the inn. She bustled directly over to Rory, her arms laden with file folders and paperwork.

"Hey," Rory greeted her.

Feeling a little nervous, especially seeing how nice Rory looked dressed in clothes other than her Chilton uniform, Paris dove right into shop talk. "So here are the materials in the double issue. Some of the articles are gonna need complete rewrites."

"Drag," Rory responded, although she was secretly pleased that Paris trusted her enough to do rewrites of other staffers work.

"Madeline's 500 words on test anxiety spends 400 of them arguing that stretch corduroy is the best material for low rise jeans," Paris explained.

"Well, let's see," Rory pondered. "Corduroy is a fabric, and the fabric of society is weakened when students…"

"You can't get there," Paris interjected. Although it was an incredibly cute attempt. Maybe Rory would be interested in hanging out tonight. They could look over the articles together, or go to a movie, or dance on some stairs somewhere.

"Yeah, doesn't look like it," Rory gave up on Madeline's article. "I'll get right on this tomorrow."

"What about tonight?" Paris asked, having just given birth to the hope that they could hang out and not willing to relinquish it right away.

"I'm busy tonight," Rory answered, wishing she wasn't. Wishing that she and Paris could hang out and go over newspaper stuff. Possibly work late into the night. Allow her to embark on a little fact-finding mission about Paris' true feelings.

"Doing what?" Paris asked, hoping she didn't have a date or anything.

"Well, this." Rory replied.

"Oh. What is this?" Paris asked, a bit confused.

"It's kind of a big dinner party," Rory explained.

"Oh. Okay, well I'll get out of your way." Paris tried hard to hide her disappointment. "Call if you need to talk things through," she added. "And oh, she uses the Prince version of writing. A letter U for you and a picture of an eye for I."

"Wow," Rory muttered, trying hard to think of a way to get Paris to stick around.

"Yeah," Paris said, still stalling for more time with Rory.

"Hey Paris," Rory asked suddenly. "Do you have anything going on tonight?"

"What's that supposed to mean?" Paris said, a bit more harshly than she'd intended. She'd driven all the way over here to see Rory, and beyond that had no other plans for the night. But Rory was obviously busy with this weird dinner. Which left her with nothing to do on a Friday night.

"It's supposed to mean, do you have anything going on tonight." Rory repeated.

Paris sighed and opted for honesty. "Well, my parents are out of town, so my Portuguese nanny will make dinner and then I'll either get back to reading 'The Iliad,' or we'll play Monopoly. I crush her every time."

"Well, I was just thinking," Rory began, "maybe you want to stay for dinner?"

"Here?" Paris asked.

"Yeah. We have a ton of food, and it's like a whole big show and everything, and if you're not doing anything…" she trailed off.

"Re-reading the Iliad a third time is not not doing anything. I'm not pathetic." Paris was feeling a little defensive, as she really didn't want Rory to be inviting her out of pity.

"I know you're not," Rory said in a totally understanding voice. "I just thought it might be fun, that's all." God, that was just like her. Madeline or Louise would have mocked her for at least ten minutes about her lack of plans for the evening. And they'd never even read the Iliad once, except maybe the Cliff Notes.

"Well, I'll have to make a call," she hesitated.

"Good. Make it," Rory said in a very decided voice.

Paris dialed home on her cell.

Later that night, Paris sat propped up on an enormous four poster bed in one of the many tucked away rooms at the inn. The roads had been covered in black ice, and Lorelai and Rory had both asked her to stay overnight. Not that she had minded at all. Even with her parents gone, the Gellar mansion was still to formal and austere to really feel very homey. Here she had a huge bed, a roaring fire, and the possibility of seeing Rory again in the morning. She couldn't be happier. Idly, she picked up Rory's copy of the Iliad, which she had smilingly handed to Paris while showing her to her room. She was actually only reading it again because she'd seen Rory poring over it in the Chilton library last week. This was also how she had recently worked her way through Mary McCarthy, all of Dorothy Parker, Tolstoy, and Henry James. She was like a book club stalker.

Suddenly, there was a soft knock on the door. Paris wondered if it could possibly be Rory, and threw the covers off to go to the door and find out. She pulled the hotel robe tighter around her as she made her way across the room. She hadn't packed any pajamas, so she was just wearing a t-shirt and some shorts that Rory had lent her underneath. As she swing the wooden door inward, she saw Rory waiting patiently in the hallway, holding a small tapered candle and a batch of papers in her hand.

"Hey," Paris greeted her.

"Hey yourself, can I come in?"

"I guess," Paris replied, not sure she trusted herself in this situation. Rory was wearing a fairly skimpy night dress, and she was already having trouble forcing herself not to stare.

Rory walked in and took a look around. "You got a nice room," she commented.

"It was really nice of your mom to let me stay." Paris said as she went back over and sat on the bed.

"It's kind of cold in here," Rory said.

"Period drafts," Paris replied.

Rory grinned and crossed over to the bed as well, where she set down the papers and put the candle into a holder on the nightstand.

"So what do I owe the pleasure of this late night visit?" Paris asked.

"Well, my grandmother decided she wanted to switch rooms at the last minute," Rory explained. "And so I figured I would giver her and my mom some time to talk. And since you were here and had a room all to yourself, I thought maybe you wouldn't mind if I crashed here."

"How are your grandparents?" Paris asked. "They seemed a little tense at the end of dinner."

"I'm sure they'll be fine. My grandmother just isn't the kind of person who likes feeling out of the loop."

"Oh. Good." Paris said, searching for another topic of conversation. "Are those the Franklin articles?"

"Yeah," Rory answered. "I thought that if you were still up reading, I could work on these without distracting you."

"Good call. I'm not big on sleep."

"I never would have guessed," Rory replied sarcastically.

"What's that supposed to mean?" Paris demanded.

"Nothing." Rory grinned. "Just that you do so much, I figured you just sometimes made a whirring sound and then shut down for awhile."

Paris stared at her for a moment.

"I'm joking, Paris."

"I know. I'm also not big on people teasing me."

"Come on, what's a little teasing between friends?" Rory asked playfully.

Paris gulped, momentarily thinking of all the ways in which she would like Rory to tease her. This line of thought was promoted by the fact that she was realizing just how alone they were, in this private room, sitting on a gigantic bed. She managed a weak smile at Rory.

Rory pulled her feet up on the bed, and slipped them under the covers as she grabbed her Franklin articles and began reading them over.

Several minutes ticked by. Silently, Rory moved her hand over the quilted bedspread and placed it over Paris'. She noticed that Paris trembled slightly at the contact, but didn't move her hand away.

Taking a deep, steadying breath, Paris slowly ran her thumb over the side of Rory's palm. They remained like that for the next hour, Rory focusing on her Franklin articles, Paris concentrating on the Iliad. Companionable. Comfortable. Paris was dimly aware of the fact that she was more comfortable around Rory than she had been around any other person in her life, ever. She leaned over and gently rested her head on Rory's shoulder.

The taller girl was a little startled by this development, but not at all displeased. She laid down her Franklin edits and reached up with her free hand and began stroking Paris' beautiful blond hair.

"Mmm." Paris let out a tiny sound of pleasure. Rory remembered making a similar sound during their kiss last year. She thought of all the things she'd wanted to tell Paris since that happened. About how she felt about her. About how she felt about the kiss. But she discovered that she just didn't know where to start.

Paris spoke first, but opted not to comment on their physical interaction. "How were the Franklin articles?"

Rory glanced over at the girl beside her. Was she pretending like this wasn't happening? Was she uncomfortable with it? Or did she just not know what to say? "They were pretty much like you said. I'm inclined to scrap the test anxiety angle altogether and throw stretch corduroy into the style section."

"We don't have a style section," Paris reminded her.

"Oh, well, then I guess I'll just have to rework it somehow," Rory smiled. It was a little odd, but it felt just like one of their regular conversations, held while they were holding each other.

"How was the Iliad?" she asked, running her hand down Paris' spine in slow circles.

"I hate Achilles." Paris answered. She was having trouble forming coherent sentences.

"Is that where your parents got your name from?" Rory asked.

Paris was quiet for a moment, and Rory started to worry that she was offended. She squeezed her shoulder gently. "Sorry, I didn't mean to pry."

"No, it's okay. It was my dad's idea." Paris answered, reaching out an lightly stroking Rory's arm.

"That's cool," Rory replied. "For the record, I like you much more than your namesake."

"Thanks. I like to think that I'd have given the golden apple to Athena and avoided the whole Trojan War thing in the first place." Paris was trying to get a grip on herself. Being this close to Rory, snuggling with her while talking about books, it was like a dream. Maybe she'd fallen asleep already.

Rory grinned. "You have a thing for the goddess of wisdom?"

"What can I say," Paris said with a self-conscious smile, "Intelligence is a highly attractive trait."

"I don't disagree," Rory responded, "but come on. He was tempted with the love of the most beautiful woman in the world. How many people could turn that down?"

Paris thought briefly of all the things she would be willing to do to get Rory. "I concede that it would be a temptation. I just think he could have chosen more wisely." She mimicked Rory's earlier motions, and ran a tentative hand through the brunette's hair.

"Rory," Paris whispered, "Can you get the light?" Rory obediently leaned over to turn off the bedside lamp, and blew out the candle she had brought earlier. Settling back next to Paris, she felt the usually self-assured girl shaking slightly.

"Paris," she whispered. "Are you okay?"

"I'm fine," Paris answered, working hard to steady her voice. She inched closer to Rory, and tentatively wrapped an arm around her waist. Rory responded by putting an arm around her shoulders, so that they were cuddling together. Paris had never cuddled with anyone before. Rory continued her earlier stroking of Paris' hair. Neither girl spoke, not wanting to spoil the moment.

Tentatively, Paris pressed her lips against Rory's neck. Rory turned her head, and kissed Paris lightly on the top of her head. Both girls felt they had so much to say that they were rendered speechless. As the minutes ticked by, fatigue took over. Soon Paris and Rory were sleeping soundly, wrapped in each others arms.

The End

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