DISCLAIMER: Gilmore Girls is the property of Amy Sherman-Palladino, Dorothy Parker Drank Here Productions, Hofflund-Polone and Warner Bros. Television, despite how much I wanted to start a petition campaign to block David Rosenthal from giving us his version of season seven (how did his Paris scripting end up worse than Daniel's, I ask?). All other trademarks and services are the property of their respective owners. Apologies in advance for any incorrect descriptions of a figure drawing class; I'm going off what I know from other media, and my lack of drawing skills that don't involve maps.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Well, it looks good for this story. I've gotten good feedback about it so far and I thank everyone who gave me a review and let me know how I was doing. Sorry this has taken so long to get out; the first half of the year was spent dealing with my first move in eighteen years, with fretting about work and finances keeping me from the usual happy bubble that is my writing. But I'm all settled in and I have a bunch of stuff coming out in the next few weeks, some of it hopefully timed for IDF. I'm going to say this right now; I do know my supporting males aren't as developed as the women, so no need to write me about that. Hopefully though they're better developed than that guy who shall not be named they keep trying to hook Jane Rizzoli with and seemed to get surgery just to get his mack on. I think he needs a cheer adjustment more, personally. As for the image of Ms. Sandberg, I've modeled her to have the looks and mannerisms of Katey Sagal. Thanks to Mieks for encouraging me on this story. And hopefully my muse lets me get a chapter out to you in the next few weeks rather than months.
SPOILERS: An alternate take on season seven where Christopher is far away and Luke and Lorelai remain broke up and distant, and Doyle moved from Boston after graduation and Paris is single. Olivia and Lucy aren't mentioned (sorry, Krysten Ritter, I didn't begin to enjoy you until Apt. 23), and Tanna and Janet are actually acknowledged as still existing.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To nschimpf[at]charter.net
Filling in the Blanks
Lorelai looked around the classroom as she got settled in her spot in the round layout, which brought her just a little right of the center of the room, just perfect enough for her and what was usually a prized drawing spot from her experiences in her art classes at Hillside. She set down her sketching pad and spread everything out, making sure her drawing implements were perfectly tuned to her drawing style and that her erasers were perfectly in reach.
The innkeeper had arrived earlier than the majority of the class, trying to get her bearings. Smiling, she looked over the room. Indeed as described, the former interrogation room window was front and center, the classroom expanded out from what had been backroom storage space in its former life as a police precinct. Thankfully though, the depressing Law & Order-esque drab olive décor was long in the past, the classroom itself being painted in a violet shade, with the model's room having a reddish-pink hue along the walls to help the subjects stand out behind the glass.
Lorelai shook her head. She understood how the mirrored glass would work, but it had to be both boring and a little shocking for the model to stare at themselves in the buff for nearly two hours and wondered how they managed to keep settled. She would have to ask Ms. Sandberg how they managed to keep calm, if music was piped in, how they kept from going stir crazy.
Looking down at the canvas she was about to test out one of her charcoal pencils when it slipped out of her fingers and fell to the ground.
"Oh, crap!" Having already gotten somewhat comfortable on her padded drafting stool, Lorelai dreaded having to move and began to slide her legs off the perch...
Only to find a male hand in her sight holding her pencil.
"I think you dropped this." Shaken in surprise, she looked up to find a man with a little stubble and bright hazel eyes staring at her. "Slippery fingers tonight?"
Lorelai laughed slightly, feeling a little nervous as she took the implement. "I...I actually don't draw that much these days. I need to get my 'drawing grip' back." With a smile she looked over at her seat mate, who had the look of that one blonde guy who kept her tuned to Alias even as she was completely lost on the Rambaldi ridiculousness. "My friend...she bought this class as an early Christmas gift. Said I needed to get back out there because I got buried in my business."
The young man nodded, his eyes drawn to the beautiful woman's looks and taken in by a voice that caught him by surprise by the speed at which she let her words out. "Business?"
"I'm an innkeeper in Stars Hollow."
He nodded, narrowing his eyes. "Never heard of it."
"You're among the lucky ones then. Southeastern Litchfield, far west from Bristol."
"Well I'm not really from here; I just moved in from Chicago, Palatine, specifically. I work in telecommunications with AT&T and they're moving in people as they take over more of SNET."
"Ahh, yes, the merger." A smile. "All I'm hoping is I can keep my phone number and my e-mail address after the changeover finishes. Think you can make that happen?"
"I'm not in that division." A pause and a smile. "I'm in business sales, new technology, trying to understand what companies want in the future like video chat and all of that." He held out his hand for Lorelai. "Caleb Brandt."
Lorelai took it and shook it lightly, a bit nervous about meeting someone from outside Connecticut. "I'm Lorelai Gilmore. Never met a Caleb before; you'd expect one to be wearing an old-timey monocle or something."
"My parents were Hassidic and traditional. I had a 'Cal' stage in college, but my headhunter suggested the full name made me sound respected. Worked out pretty good so far, wouldn't you say?"
"I think I would." She licked her lips, willing them to keep wet. "So what's a fancy telecom guy like you doing in a non-telecom place like this?"
"I like to keep my mind occupied by things I find fun. I've wanted to take up drawing but the Learning Annex in Chicago was always too far from the Northwest Suburbs and you know how traffic there can be."
"Oh God, don't give me flashbacks to the 1998 hotel convention I had to go to at McCormick." Before Caleb could realize it, Lorelai was on a rant. "How the hell you people can tolerate the Kennedy and O'Hare I don't know, but I felt like everyone there just was like, 'oh look, there's a lovely woman from a small town. Let us tax her loads and loads of money for getting into the convention hall, for using a taxi, for taking a tour of town, for flying out of here, and to top it off, let's make her feel less human because we assume Connecticut means she's a Red Sox fan even though she has no interest in baseball. Oh, and stick her in epic traffic jams too that took her cab fare to more than her flight cost!'"
Caleb frowned hearing the innkeeper's experience with his hometown. "Not all Chicagoans are like that. Although the horror tales of the Kennedy are yes, true."
"I know. I...just haven't had positive impressions. Love the city, watch your awesome weatherman on WGN talk about mesobars and all that other stuff I don't understand, was a Bulls fan when Jordan was around, and the shopping was amazing. But I would hate to live there all the time." She saw that her first impression may not have come off too well and felt apologetic. "Sorry, it's just--"
"No...no, I'm glad you got it out. We're going to be here for thirteen weeks and we should get along." He bared his teeth in a smile and nodded. "Do you think this class is going to be hard?"
"To be honest, I'm not sure. All I know is Ms. Sandberg is a great teacher and I'm guaranteed to be able to sketch well at the end of this class." Her curiosity remained with the class, though Caleb was already coming in a close second. "I think I'm going to enjoy it," she said with a slight tone of flirting in her voice, her eyes widening at the idea of sharing a class with Caleb.
The two talked further as the class filled in, eventually with eighteen people coming in, a mix between young and middle aged people, with a couple of senior citizens among the mix looking to have a weekday not end with Wheel of Fortune. Lorelai looked around, wondering how this class would end up coalescing as the weeks went on, and how many would stay the entire thirteen weeks.
Just from looks she could tell that a couple of the students were likely out in the first week, if not sooner, while a few were quiet, and a couple of groups were friends looking for a night together through the class. She was pleased that the people in the classroom for the most part were there to learn, and hopefully there was a supportive atmosphere around the room. From reading online about the Workshop and Eleanor, she was hardly a perfectionist, but still demanded the best from her students.
"So...would you like to go out for coffee afterwards?" Caleb asked with a minute to go until the start of the class. "I'd like to get to know you better."
Nervous about going out with a man with only a minute knowing him, Lorelai declined in a friendly manner. "I'm afraid I can't tonight. My best friend drove me here this evening and she has two kids at home, she wouldn't want to hang around with us."
Caleb nodded, knowing how hard it was for his friends to have kids. "Ahh, OK. I thought I'd offer."
"And even though you did say the magic word--coffee, I don't think that I--"
Her response was cut off as she heard a long drawn out voice behind her.
"Students! Hello there."
"Uh-oh, teacher!" Lorelai turned her back to find the woman entering the classroom. She smiled, hoping to have a good first impression on Ms. Sandberg. A quick whisper to Caleb. "Talk after class." Caleb nodded and the entire class drew their attention to their instructor.
Eleanor Sandberg's looks definitely suggested her upbringing in the Bowery of New York. Her height was slightly shorter than Lorelai and the woman's brown hair was elegantly done up into a ponytail. Dressed in comfortable loose jeans paired with a blue blouse, Ms. Sandberg was a few years older than Lorelai, a beautiful, yet commanding woman who had drawn in everyone immediately with her voice which carried her vowels in a long manner, and footsteps suggesting authority. Ms. Sandberg walked over to her desk, placed her materials on it, and immediately sat on the top, just in front of the window.
"Good evening class. I see that nearly all of you are accounted for. I was expecting twenty-two, but there must have been a few who decided they had $500 to burn. Fine with me; more room to spread out." Backing a foot against the desk she took a look at the composition of the class, trying to winnow out the serious students.
"As I reminded you on the phone, this is going to be a serious class involving figure drawing. It is going to be intense, it is going to be long, and by the time you're done I think you'll be sick of this form we call the human body. This is not the place to work out your masturbatory fantasies, to just take a class to view skin, nor is this the place to demonstrate the talent you're sure you have with the publishers of Low Rider magazine, but they have not discovered yet because they are a magazine of photographs, not images of wet dreams." A few giggles from the back, but not from Lorelai, who could tell just from her teacher's voice she was dealing with a strict feminist.
Eleanor clacked her heel on the ground. "Is there something fucking funny about that..." a quick look at the class chart. "Bernard and Frank?" Lorelai was startled at the profanity but knew this wasn't a public school class. The class syllabus had even read that there was a language advisory, and reviews of Ms. Sandberg's work had given her a warning of her liberal swearing.
"No...no ma'am," Frank stumbled out. "I was just--"
"If you don't take this class seriously, this is the night to back out," she bellowed. "You're going to be seeing plenty of shit you don't usually see and there might be glass in front of my models, but their feelings will be respected just like any other class. Are we understood?"
"We are," Bernard said, shaking. "I...I apologize."
"Mr. Delfino?" She stared down Frank. "Yes or no?"
He hurriedly nodded. "Yes..ma'am."
"Good. Because unsatisfactory performance this evening in these opening lessons will be judged. If I see stuff that wouldn't pass muster in the bathroom walls of Pepe's, you'll have a short time in this class. I want 100% put into your drawings."
She paced the classroom, going over her training over the years. "I have been drawing in New York for over twenty-five years, instructing it for ten. Taught and teaching at Cooper Union, one of the more honored instructors in the Northeast. I don't expect perfection, but I want you damned close to it. This isn't second grade art class where drawing potato people is acceptable; you better know your shit or you won't advance far." Lorelai clenched her teeth, really nervous now. Caleb gave her a look and the woman acknowledged her with a nod...
Which only drew Eleanor towards her to make a point.
"Ms. Gilmore," she purred, her ass sliding along the top edge of her writing desk. "I have read your application and your best friend referred you into this class. Said you had past experience with drawing. Surely you have banked your skills over the years? Why come back into a class like this?"
Gulping, Lorelai immediately knew that 'to keep me away from work on Thursday nights' wouldn't be the right answer, nor would a joke about Friends being off the air for two years. "Well, she convinced me that this was a worthwhile skill for business and leisure."
"Correct." A relieved and silent sigh. "It is indeed, a worthwhile skill." Lorelai's eyes remained trained to Eleanor's ass and she wondered if her fluid sexuality would get her in trouble, when Eleanor's voice nulled that little feeling for her. "However, it can also be abused. I have seen a few of my students, especially during the Titanic crap, use it solely for sexual perversion or just some whacked way to get into the videogame business because they 'understand the body'. This is not that kind of class. It is about finding the beauty in the human form, and how that may apply to everyday life."
She narrowed her eyes as she slid off Lorelai's desk towards the class. "This class may have the word 'Introductory' within it, but I assure you, that this isn't a class to learn the basics. It is obvious that most of you have come from art classes where you have been taught basic drawing skills. Or you may have had careers where that is hardly the focus. However here, you will learn all that is needed about the human form."
Eleanor moved to the center of the room, making a point to have her finger near body parts. "This class is hardly like the type you see on television, where things are sexualized. The models for this class were drawn from multiple applications and body types. The stick figures were thrown out, the David wannabes with sculpled abs and pecs, but tiny dicks from their steroids thrown right off the list. I have drawn a list of three people who will be your guides for the next thirteen weeks. One of them is a brave soul just nervous about their place in life. They are not at all white and boring Abercrombie models. They have tattoos, piercings, imperfect moles and marks, freckles. One of them does not have their right leg, a defect from their birth where they must have an artificial limb to move around the world. Something you will not see in this class at all because you shall draw them without that limb, and anyone caught adding it in will not see another week here."
Continuing her pacing, the teacher showed how much of an advocate she was to her models. "They will be safe behind that glass, and also behind their pseudonyms. All of them will retain their anonymity, and only in the last week will you see any opportunity for an introduction. This is a class for you, and for them, an opportunity to share with the world at large their uniqueness and strength for spending thirteen weeks here. They cannot hear you, they cannot see you. For all they know, this room is empty, and on their side calming music is played so that they can keep their focus. If I hear anyone laugh or express distaste with the models, I highly suggest you show yourself out silently. Because I will not be kind to those who try to stay."
She went over the grading system for the class before finishing up. "I expect all work to be done by the end of class. There will also be homework, where you must work from memory for your assignment. That means that your mind better be damned ready to take in every detail of your assigned model. We are not at the Learning Annex. This will be a serious class, and I expect you all to have improved mightily by the end of week thirteen. Are we understood?"
Lorelai nodded, glad to know that she wasn't going to be in a class where the subject matter wouldn't be taken seriously. She had been excited before for the opportunity to be in the class, but now knew she wanted to impress Ms. Sandberg by the end. I'm going to ace this, hell or high water, she thought to herself, although knowing Caleb would be a bit in the way with that with his looks and his equally quick wit.
With everyone set, Ms. Sandberg knew it was time to get the show on the road. ”Then let's draw the curtains." Pushing the intercom button into the former interrogation room, she began the class. "Models, to your places!"
After a minute of setting, a tone came through as the assistant on the other side indicated that everyone was in place. With that, Ms. Sandberg allowed the curtain in front of the window to be drawn.
Lorelai's curiosity was deep, especially when it came to the person without their leg. Dealing with some handicapped customers through her years in the industry, Lorelai no longer cringed at all when they came in to stay. She could easily handle someone without an appendage, though she wondered how she'd react to a tattooed or pierced person, considering her hidden fear of needles.
As the curtain was drawn, Ms. Sandberg introduced the models by the names they had chosen to hide their real identities, with the curtain stopping at each one, starting with an African-American male. "This, is Claude, a 30 year-old machine foreman who had volunteered with us before." With an average build, the man stood out slightly, but was definitely a unique man with a good build, though hardly muscular. Lorelai took in his features and found him an acceptable drawing subject in every way.
The second part of the window opened up, revealing the model without their right leg, an Asian-American girl. "Here we have Dora, a 26 year-old physicist." The woman had several tattoos lining along her side, along with a piercing in her left nipple. "She has taken this class in the past and was one of our highlight students in it. She volunteered to take this year on the other side of the glass in order to provide another life experience to herself." Lorelai nodded, surprised by the courage she saw in the young woman's eyes.
She wondered what other surprise awaited on the right side of the curtain. Deciding not to make a guess, she held her breath for the last revelation.
"Our last subject for this course year is Athena, a 21 year-old student. Brand new completely to the Workshop and self-depreciating of her beauty, she has taken a brave leap of faith and is ready to help you learn this craft." Lorelai had looked down to make sure all of her materials were in place, missing the curtain revelation of the last subject.
Looking up and not expecting much, the brunette hotelier expected pretty much anyone...
Only to find familiar and dark almond eyes staring at her through the glass. Those russet cheeks, her loosely done dark blonde hair, along with her short height which had her on an extended stool to meet the heights of her fellow models.
At first, Lorelai thought she was seeing things. No...no! She dropped her pencil, examining the model further.
The woman's entire frame was in view, head to toe. There hadn't even been any period of getting comfortable with the drawing subject in a robe, and all three were fully nude. But Lorelai's attention was now fully on the model to the right. She hoped to disprove herself...
Only to see signs that her mind was not playing tricks on her.
Through description, she knew a few things. That the woman had a tattoo from her youth on her right ankle in tribute to her father. That a diet from a few years back had eventually failed and brought her back to the weight she knew before. A beauty regimen from her dermatologist that had ended abruptly.
Shit. No. No. It...it isn't. It can't be. Her eyes were trained upon the subject's neck, where on the left side, a familiar dark brown mark was known in full, familiar and unforgettable. If not for a death by burning, she could easily identify the subject solely by the mole alone.
Her heart beat faster. She gripped the desk for support. Not wanting to be thrown out of class, she kept clammed up and silent, looking at the woman who could not and would not see her through the glass. Taking in her full form, one she had never seen before at all outside of clothing, Lorelai's mind knew the conclusion.
...Paris. She closed her fist around her pencil. Oh God. Oh...God. A beat.
That is not Paris Gellar, the most modest woman I know, up there, in the buff, waiting for me to draw her, is it?
One more glance into the window. The young woman was stick still, prepared for the weeks to come.
Lorelai knew if she said a word, not only would she be taken out of the class, but the model would be too.
What the fuck did your parents do to you, Paris? she thought sadly to herself, feeling a surge of pity. Your senior year at Yale, when you should be doing a victory lap. And now you're stuck doing this to pay the bills?
Her heart felt for the blonde, and she wondered what led her here. But then she remembered; it could be a lot worse.
Lor, her conscience told her, this is an art class. Just an art class. With a nice atmosphere, a fake name behind her, and just sitting there for two hours. Look at her, she's fine, still as a celery stick. She's cool with this. It could be much worse, she could be at one of those skeezy clubs like Keepers off 95. But she's here. She's safe. Nobody but you knows her as Paris! So don't worry about it!
Don't worry about it?! she scolded herself. I have to look at her and draw her for thirteen weeks. I should just withdraw and--
Go back to Sookie and say you were too chicken to do the class. Oh, that'll be nice. You'll have a friend pissed off at you after all the effort she put into paying for this class. And come in, it's Paris! You can't say she's ugly at all. Heck, you've looked at her before, she's got the best of the Gellar gene pool. It's probably why you were able to handle her when Rory couldn't and...
Her thoughts came to a halt as she found herself examining the woman further on Ms. Sandberg's invitation. She had been used to the girl being nearly religiously bound to her corduroys and sweaters for all the years she knew her. It had been jarring to come into the apartment and find her in t-shirts and loose blouses.
You thought that was a shocking transition?! Lorelai knew she was in for it now. She paused to regard the future lawyer/doctor in a way she had not expected in her entire life.
Her child's best friend...well, at least Paris thought Rory was her best friend, but Lorelai didn't even know who held that title now besides that blank blonde who hung out with the guys and knew more about Neiman Marcus than W.E.B. DuBois.
I'm going to be Jack, and she's Rose. I have a freakin' Rose, except I'm in a building on solid ground with no threat of an iceberg about to hit us. Dear God. She looked over Paris, expecting that it would be odd to regard the woman near half her age in the manner of a neutral sketch subject.
She sucked in a breath, her focus moving towards Claude and Dora to regard the purpose of the class, before moving back to Athena. All she could hope for was that she would--
"Alright, I'm dividing you into groups of six," Eleanor bellowed. "Each group will be working with a certain model for the full thirteen weeks. You will work with that model, and only that model." A hand was raised. "Yes?"
The young man asked his question shakily. "What...what if we're stuck with...with Claude, and we don't...don't want to draw with him?"
A pause, and then a look and a sneer. "I'm not sure. You're going to find out though; you're with Claude." The student groaned, but knew their fate was sealed; it was a class where the assignments were up to the teacher. "Alright, I'm going in random order, assigning numbers. 1 is Claude's group, 2 will sketch Dora, and finally, those with #3 get Athena. And don't try to change it, I pretty much have you all figured out."
Being at the other end of the room, Lorelai had hope she would be a 1 or a 2. The teacher went through each of the students, counting on a piece of paper as she marked off how far she was.
Please don't be a three, please don't be a three, she pleaded. Maybe I could at least change? she thought, knowing she was stuck in this one class. Or Paris will suddenly get sick? Or stage fright? She looked into the window, trying to send psychic waves that she was there and Paris would be having her friend's mom sketch her for thirteen weeks.
Surprisingly, the waves didn't cross the mirrored glass. Paris sat in front of the window neutrally, her right foot hooked beneath the rail of the stool as quickly Lorelai's mind was filling with other thoughts.
Other thoughts which she would not voice out, especially if the subject was under eighteen.
Damn, she has nice boobs! Nicer than mine...Come on, Lor! You're here to learn. Don't sexualize her! She frowned at herself as Caleb found a bit of time for an aside about the girl.
"She's got nice and deep brown eyes," he said, completely shocking Lorelai, who had pre-braced herself for a breast joke. "It'll make sketching her face easier."
"Really, a naked woman and all you can talk about is her eyes?" Lorelai said. "You're full of surprises."
"Well she is nice. But hardly my type." A glance her way. "Also, despite what has been asserted by Barbara De Angelis and the Berman sisters, men can have solely friendly feelings towards women. Some of my best friends in Chicago were women."
"Uh-huh, I believe that." Lorelai scoffed, knowing what Luke's friendship eventually led to; heartbreak.
"She looks a little angry," he said. "Like she frowns a lot. Is she one of those Russian gymnasts?"
Lorelai shook her head, trying to hide her knowledge of Paris but knowing her moods clearly. "I don't think she's Russian. She's probably American. The Greek name, you know. Kind of looks Sephardi Jewish to me."
"You know what a Spanish-French Jew looks like?"
"Just a guess," she said, distracted by how angular Paris's shoulders were. "There's a lot of them here. It's Connecticut, and I was in society for a long time."
A nod. "What do you mean? You seem rich?"
"If only that were truly so." Seeing Eleanor come their way, Lorelai was caught to quiet herself immediately. Half the class had their assigned models doled out, with Lorelai and Caleb to be next.
Eleanor had keen hearing and had heard them both discuss Athena's attributes. With an internal smile, she knew it would be perfect as she came to stand in front of them.
"Brandt and Gilmore..." Lorelai again tried to send her non-existent psychic waves to maybe direct her drawing skills towards the non-existent model number 4, who kind of looked like a New York firefighter from that calendar she bought a couple weeks ago.
"Number three for the both of you." Silence, she walked away, and Lorelai felt her stomach drop.
Great. Exactly what the fates wanted to allow, me drawing Paris stark naked. I...I...huh. I would have never figured her for that kind of piercing. Or any kind after the nose screw-up.
Now Lorelai Gilmore was only one of five people, besides Doyle, the piercer, the woman herself and said woman's OB-GYN to know that indeed, Paris had trusted her life and had her hood pierced with what seemed to be a pearly type of barbell, which caught her in mid-panic. No wonder she was devastated when Doyle had to leave, she thought to herself. He was her lobster, in sexual relationship terms.
She shook her head, wondering how this could go. Or if she could ask for Claude or Dora, but knew it was probably unlikely. Caleb saw her reaction and wondered what was going on.
"You're not that interested in women, are you?" Lorelai was surprised by his concern, but also how loaded the question was. "I take it you're not...ummm, how can I put it without being throttled."
"No, it's not that. She just looks so young," she said, telling the truth within the hidden statement. "I came into the class and now it's actually happening. We're drawing someone's daughter or son, their flesh and blood. I just don't want to screw it up."
"If you follow the teacher's advice, you won't," he assured her. "It'll be OK. If you have a problem, we can work as a team."
Lorelai smiled, glad for the concern. "I guess I'm just...nervous. This kind of stuff I only saw in the locker room at school a generation back, and I never lingered or stared because it wasn't right. I...I've always been with guys. No women, ever. No offense to that at all, but I just wouldn't know where to start and my sexual needs have never ticked that way."
"Any certain reason for that?"
"Umm, Rory." She didn't know why she was being open with Caleb, but she knew somewhat it was to tamp down the shock of Paris in front of her.
"Rory? What happened, did he do something to you?"
"No...no. She was born when I was sixteen and there's a lot of complications about that. Basically, there's more to me that I could ever explain in ten minutes. I'm like Bree Van de Kamp, except not very proper, perpetually single and without any criminal record."
"You're a desperate housewife?"
"No, no. You know that show How to Boil Water? I don't even know how to do that. My chef/best friend basically keeps me in food. Especially after my last relationship went down in flames."
"Oh, you can't be that bad." The man's curiously was wide. "Everyone has a relationship that doesn't work out."
"My ex-fiancé owns the town diner. We were happy until he found out he had a kid from years back he never knew about. He hid it from me, we found out truths about ourselves we had hidden from." A solemn pause. "So, very complicated."
"I can sense that." He caught Eleanor out of the corner of his eye. "Shoot, put this aside for the rest of class, for sure." Lorelai brought herself to attention, now without any distractions from Caleb.
Just Paris in front of her in the nude.
Damn it, she said, cursing herself as she glance at the young woman she thought she would forever know as annoying.
Except now, she wasn't. She was very feminine, and unlike her past quips, not robot-like in the least. Standing there, staring at her. Only she wasn't staring at anything but her reflection.
"All the assignments are now given out," Ms. Sandberg proclaimed. "I hope there are no other outstanding issues with this class. If you object to your model, you may make an equitable switch with someone else for this class only. After that? You're stuck with them."
As Ms. Sandberg went on with her introductory speech, Lorelai knew despite her aversion that she wouldn't trade Paris, if only because a few of her classmates had cursed getting Dora and were mad because they 'didn't get the girl with the fine rack'. She refused to give them the satisfaction of a trade just to objectify Paris.
But I'm doing the same myself, she argued internally. I mean look at her...how have you hid that form from Ford for so long, Gellar? Geeze, you're built well. She concentrated on the curve of each of Paris's breasts and how they rested against her, along with how the knot of her navel was smooth rather than knotted. Her skin was speckled with moles and little marks that made her seem less porcelain and protected than she usually was.
Surprising to her though was how she was attracted to Paris's extremities. Tall and elegant legs, smooth arms and shoulders that had more definition than she had ever thought. Lorelai was surprised at how perfect a sketching subject Paris ended up being, remembering the few times in high school she did sketching, but with clothed subjects.
I think this can work, she thought to herself, taking careful internal notes. After about five more minutes, Ms. Sandberg finished her speech.
"If there are no more questions, I do have your first assignment." She stepped to the lectern in front of the window. "I want to see how you draw at this current point. Right now. I am giving you twenty minutes to make a sketch of your subject from the head to the chest as you have, or have not, been taught. This portion I will not look for perfection, only aptitude."
"OK, head to...abdomen," Lorelai noted, thankful she wouldn't have to do a whole body drawing right away. "Think you can do this, Caleb?"
"Hope so. It's a little intimidating, I haven't done this before."
Looking over the class for readiness, Eleanor found everyone set and ready as she set a digital stopwatch to time twenty minutes. "Drawing starts...now." With a beep, the basic grey Sportline sprang to life to time everyone. Lorelai went right to work, taking slow and needed glances at her model as she looked over a few times and saw Caleb trying to do his best. Soon she drew her full attention to her own canvas as the others surrounding her generally did the same.
The large space of her sketchpad provided the artificial limits of how far she could go as far as the size of the sketch, but she felt unlimited in reality. She took constant glances at Paris, drawing the outline of her face and then adding the detail in her face that she had noticed, from the slight darkness in her cheeks and the split of her philtrum, along with the freckles on her nose that were only visible very up close. She brought her tongue, finessing the sketch, trying to be speedy in the allotted time but also thorough.
Through every minute, she observed Paris nearly as still as a statue, barely moving. She swore the girl barely even exhaled. Besides a couple sly movements of her feet back and forth to keep a cramp at bay, all three subjects were still and normal, still able to move slightly, though it was Paris who moved the least by far.
Lorelai cursed softly seven minutes in as her first drawing pencil broke, but caught right up by grabbing her second pencil and continuing the sketch. This time the pencil did not fail at all as she was able to finish up the sketch, despite some lingering doubts that her work wasn't quite there yet.
Silently, Caleb looked over the brunette with the razor wit as he attempted to try to draw Athena to his style, but felt it very lacking. Despite not having to deal with drawing hips his perspective was a little skewed from his drawing position and he felt he was giving the young woman too much heft in her breasts. He knew his first drawing was going to be quite off, but was glad at least for this assignment, Ms. Sandberg would only be giving advice, not yelling at him for getting things wrong.
The old stationhouse clock remained sentry from its days timing police shifts, ticking down the minutes as everyone was busy putting on their finishing touches in the eighteenth minute. Lorelai finished with the shadowing of the woman's breasts, her breath catching at how lovely the woman did look despite the self-pitying her daughter claimed was 'annoying'.
Maybe she was just mad Paris was getting good sex from Doyle...wait, I just thought that! She shuddered off the thought and finished off the last of the sketch as Eleanor saw the digits on the stopwatch edge towards the goal. Her smile wrinkling up until her favorite part of the first night of class began.
"Pencils down. Erasers down," she cried out to the room. Lorelai had just finished her last bit of detailing and startled let her pencil fall to the surface and roll down to the rest at the bottom of the table.
Closing her eyes, Lorelai hoped that Ms. Sandberg would not use her as the Goofus example of how to draw as she had everyone in the class tear out their drawings out of the pad after sketching and signing them. She handed her paper over with Caleb and after three more minutes of collecting, Eleanor clicked the intercom into the other room.
"Your service is complete for the evening and you have all done a splendid job. After I draw the curtain, you may dress and head home. Thank you again." All three were glad to leave their poses and with the curtains drawn, the focus was back on the classroom as Ms. Sandberg sat down.
"You may speak and get to know your neighbor," she proclaimed. "I shall be making one-on-one assessments with each of you in ten minutes."
Lorelai let out a tight breath she was holding as the beguiling Caleb brought her attention to hm, all thoughts of Paris/Athena disappearing into the ether. The green-eyed man was curious to know Lorelai a little more deeply.
"So this Stars Hollow. What is it?"
"Well..." She tried to stab at a description. "You know a Norman Rockwell painting?" He needed. "Well, add the usual obsessions for the Patriots and Red Sox with a dash of fun with the Revolution and the wacky townspeople you see in sitcoms? There's Stars Hollow for you." A smile. "It's my home, and I wouldn't have it any other way."
"I'd probably have to visit to understand your town."
"You'd probably have to live there. It took me five years to really be welcomed in as a citizen. Everyone else they look at a bit oddly." Lorelai batted her eyes. "But if you're looking for the suburban blandness of Palatine, you aren't going to find it in Stars Hollow."
"If the type of people that come out of that town are like you, I'd be happy to visit." He slid a business card out of his pocket, to Lorelai's surprise. "I do have my cell on there if you want to give me a call; I'm renting a condo over in Derby for now."
Lorelai smiled and took the card, putting it in her purse. "Well thank you." She looked around and on a bit of ripped paper wrote down her own number. "It might help when we get our homework to meet out of class." She also scribbled down her email and MSN before handing it over. "And there you go."
He glanced down at the paper, reading off the offered screenname. "email@example.com?"
"Let's say I have a coffee addiction that would require an intervention in other circumstances. Half my blood is caffeine at this point."
"Better to have a nice coffee habit."
"And I have a tendency to ramble and talk on and on, just warning you in advance." She felt at ease with Caleb, her eyes wrinkling as the dimples in her smile deepened. "You're sticking with this class, I hope."
The man laughed softly, shaking his head as he glanced at the tall innkeeper who had quickly enchanted him. "With company like you, I think my Thursday nights are booked. Plus the sketching was fun."
Just then, Caleb was called up to the front for his evaluation by Ms. Sandberg. "Well, here's hoping I don't get a chewing out like I did with Mr. Mercer back at Maine West."
A shrug. "Chemistry class...you can figure it out." Lorelai cringed as Caleb got up, admiring his form and having a little bit of imaginative foreplay in her mind with Caleb.
Soon though, her mind had gone back to Paris...or Athena, as she would have to know her within this class. Why not get a regular job? Lorelai thought as she poured over in her head that the young woman who was sure to sweep her field once she left Yale would instead be a nude model for a sketching class.
She remembered the girl's extreme shyness, the few sleepovers she had at the Gilmore house usually filled with a request to borrow a robe or extra shirt. Until an hour ago she had never been able to picture Paris in much less than the flowy dress the one time the girls ended up blitzed on Miss Patty's punch.
Now I don't know what to think. Vacantly she drew a small Paris-like figure on the ripped page of her sketch pad, taking off a little of her hair to create what looked like a Tinkerbell-like nymph with a little more bitter attitude than even the Disney fairy could even muster. She wondered how Ms. Sandberg would take her drawing, though she expected a bit less than acceptable.
Putting the finishing touches on the wings and the skirt, Lorelai grinned about her how her little Paris-bell had come out. She had kept the woman's basic form but worked around it with a snug-fitting dress shaded in a light grey, while keeping the mole on her neck. She felt proud of herself as Caleb got up, a little worse for the wear.
"Lorelai, you are next," Eleanor called out, and the brunette gathered a few things as Caleb gave off a quick post-mortem.
"She said I didn't do too bad for my first try, though I definitely need improvement." With a pout he sat back at his desk as Lorelai sent him a sympathetic glance before turning her attention to the appraisal of her abilities.
The innkeeper took her seat in the plastic chair as Ms. Sandberg paged over to her sketch.
"Well...Lorelai." A purposeful pause by Eleanor as she let herself build the tension slightly just enough to see Lorelai gulp in fear.
"Yes ma'am." There was no way Lorelai was going to be sarcastic to this woman. She looked over the form and then brought her eye contact to Lorelai's.
"You ever sketch before?"
Lorelai nodded. "Not in the last twenty years or so since I left high school to have my daughter. Occasionally I do some sketches to see how a dress might look on someone, and when I'm bored at work I try to copy a picture in People or Cosmo of someone I see, but not true to form."
"I see." Eleanor planted her hands on the table. "If I wouldn't know better, I would say you know Athena already."
"But I don't--"
"I know." Lorelai was relieved, thinking she was about to be exposed. "But you already seem to have a rapport with her that I don't see in anyone else I assigned her too. Your drawings have a real polish about them, Ms. Gilmore. They're very nice to me. A few things like your eye work and shading, we definitely have to help you out with those, but you do a good job with shaping, features and angles. You still have plenty to learn about the craft, but to start off and be out for all this time? There's potential here for sure."
"Really?" Ms. Sandberg nodded with the slightest smile. "Thank you."
"Do not thank me yet, Lorelai. This is the first class and there's always the possibility of regression or a skill you just cannot get. I..." She noticed then the Tinkerbell drawing Lorelai held. "Can I see that?"
"Sure..." She thought she saw disapproval from Eleanor. "Did...did I do something wrong?"
"I just want to examine it. But I should warn you that this class is not allowing drawings of licensed characters. You wouldn't believe the art schools that have shut down because some teacher allowed the drawing of Bugs Bunny without the proper approvals. This one is..." She lowered her reading glasses to examine the sketch. "This is Athena as Tinkerbell, is it not?"
"Uh, yes it is. I did it while waiting for Caleb to get back."
"I see." She looked at the fine details in the six inch drawing. "Ms. Gilmore, you're an innkeeper?"
"I am, yes."
"I think if you develop your craft with this class and possibly take my intermediate course later, or even enroll in a university class, you have a second skill developing here. This is Disney-quality here, even for just a drawing out of boredom. Again, shading is off but the heart is there, and I love how you used Athena as your muse and placed her in an original pose rather than the one I associate most with the character." She looked it over a little more. "You could even do your own ads." A pause.
"Lorelai, do you have a personal computer at home?"
"I do, in my sewing room. I used to sponge off my daughter's laptop, but now that I have a proper business I got a large-screen iMac so I can keep tabs on my accounting with my business."
"I am going to advise you to do a couple of things; you don't have to do this since you would have to spend money, but it would help. Do you have a black and write laser printer?"
"Does the pope live in Rome? After a nasty experience with a DeskJet and a 200 page fax, never again." She still remembered the nightmare that was the $100 in print cartridges she had to buy a few months ago to refill what she derisively called 'The Vampire'.
"Great, that's out of the way. What I'm going to advise you to do out of class is to develop your craft. You're very good. If not for the small issues I have with your style I would say you didn't need me." Lorelai nodded, thankful she wasn't being yelled at. "Have you heard of a WACOM tablet?"
"I think I have. My daughter had to take something called a CAD class in her sophomore year and used something like that, though it looked very complicated and like it needed about six connectors to work."
"Trust me, that was old technology. These days you get a good one for about $150 and just hook it up via USB, so you can use it at home and work, make the canvas as big as your screen can fit, even email me your drawings in advance. I know this sounds like a pitch of some kind, but you have a natural talent I've found in only a few students in all the years I've taught." She looked down at Lorelai's hands. "I don't mean to sound like I am flirting with you, but you have an artist's hands for sure."
"Thank...you?" Lorelai blushed. "I could probably swing that drawing tablet thingy."
"And if you do...I can sneak you a free copy of the software you need for the drawing program itself from my education discount." Lorelai nodded. "So yes, I'm not yelling at you. Just work on a few things here and there and I think you're going to be golden in this class, maybe my leading pupil this quarter. I honestly assigned you Athena because I expected your skills to be simple. However, you seem to know her. So if it's all right I'm going to keep you assigned to her."
"That...sounds good." Lorelai felt her nerves building. Great, now you have to stick with this class, apparently she thinks I'm the da Vinci to Paris's Mona Lisa! "Um...anytthing else?"
"Yes, keep your attention on the work," she said, giving a glance towards Caleb. "I know people find dates here, but you can surely pursue that line of thinking after class." Lorelai looked uneasy, but understood where Eleanor was coming from.
"Oh yes, that's me...eyes on the prize. Focused completely on my work." A glance and then a laugh, which was received with stern silence. "I think I'll just get out of the way. Thank you, Ms. Sandberg." After a nod, Lorelai got up and pushed in the chair, heading back to her desk where Caleb was wondering how it went.
"So, did she Simon Cowell or Paula Abdul you?"
Lorelai laughed and pointed. "Neither. More constructive So You Think You Can Dance-style. I'm doing good, but I just have to focus." The next twenty minutes were spent watching the rest of the class have their evaluations. Two found themselves leaving the classroom flustered or in shame by either their lack of drawing skills or using them to exaggerate certain body parts over others. Caleb and Lorelai continued to talk and find a rapport and the brunette became comfortable with his friendliness without any hesitation.
However, her mind was filled with thoughts of Paris, recalling how stern the woman had been just sitting there. She had been surprised that even without thinking her talent had remained strong years after it went into dormancy. As Caleb talked about his early years and she listened with interest, she wondered how Paris would be doing after she left the class.
I wonder if Rory knows, she thought for a moment, before realizing that it was Rory she was thinking about. No, she doesn't. Like the professor she dated before he passed away or her relationship with Doyle, Rory has always mocked her. If she found out about this, I hate to be truthful about this, but she would be viciously cutting.
Behind closed doors she had tried to tell Rory to cut it out with the hidden mocking of Paris she used as an excuse to vent, rather than what Lorelai thought had become a way to lord her superiority over Paris in school and life. If her talks with the blonde had helped with one thing, it had given her clarity on why the girl behaved how she did. Since then she had brushed aside nearly all attempts to make fun of the nervous young woman, understanding that she was going through the same hellish growing up process she had after she left Hartford, though in a different way.
She was thinking about how Paris had to be struggling to pay the bills, when Caleb got her attention with a question. Color-shifting green eyes stared back at her, inquisitive as to how her focus had been lost.
"Lorelai, you OK?" The voice jarred the woman and she held a hand to her chest.
"Oh God." She shook her head. "Geeze, I'm sorry. Thinking about other things."
"I could tell." A small smile inched across his stubbled cheeks. "Next week you want to come in early? We could stop at the Starbucks on Chapel Square--"
"No!" She startled Caleb with her sudden refusal, and he seemed wounded, leaving Lorelai to hurriedly soothe him. "I...I mean, no, I don't do corporate coffee. I take it black. That's all they need. But nooo, they require you to take a class in 'no-foam venti sweet 2% double-caff espresso' and they always screw up my name on the cup. Sometimes it's Laura, I get Lolo, and when they're completely wrong, Lollipop."
"OK, so no coffee--"
A smirk. "I'm not turning you down, mister. Dormand's on Crown is where I go when I'm in town here."
"OK, so Dormand's, next Thursday?" Caleb lit up and felt excited at the opportunity to know Lorelai more out of the class, and the innkeeper shared the same thoughts. "Say, 6pm?"
"I'll try my hardest to get out by 5pm from work. You have my...everything. I have your card." A little dreamy sigh. "And I have had fun tonight. You better show up next week."
"I wouldn't think of not doing so." With the last student receiving their assessment (and fleeing), Eleanor rose out of her chair, moving to the center of the room. She struck her shoe against the terrazzo surface of the floor to bring the attention of the class to her.
"Now that the wheat has been separated from the chaff, I do indeed have some homework for you all to do during the week." She walked around the room, stern and unflappable, her arms across her chest.
""I have seen your first interpretation of your model. I know you have not been taught well yet, so I would like to see you after the weekend, from memory, a drawing of your model. Posture will not matter, and this is solely to test how devoted you will be to the class and how much you retained this first day experience. I expect you to turn it on Thursday before we come to our next assignment. Please put effort into it. With that..." She looked at the clock, reading 9:00pm, "All of you have a great week." Most of the classroom cleared out quickly as Caleb and Lorelai gathered their things and headed into the halls, where the remainder of the Workshop's classes were clearing out.
Lorelai played a hunch and looked over to the doorway leading to the old interrogation room to see if anyone was still in there, a curious Caleb following behind. However, a man was there, shaking his head.
"You must be wondering where the models went." Lorelai nodded with an 'mm-hmm.' They usually leave ten minutes before so there's no way for the class or models to bump into each other. I just keep the room in order and beyond that I cannot tell you anything else."
Lorelai shrugged and knew that there was probably no way to know where Paris was if she was already gone from the building. It's better this way, she thought, knowing she couldn't give any hint that she was there at all to ruin the illusion of what was now the reality. The two people headed down the hallway and the stairs towards the front entrance of the Workshop, continuing to talk and set up things for the next week.
She knew Sookie would be the only one she could possibly tell about Caleb, and knew she would refuse to give any hints to Emily or Rory at all, not wanting to have them butt into her dating life. She walked Caleb to his car on the other side of the street, a silver Acura which still had its original Illinois plates, which Lorelai reminded him about.
"Yeah, still have to get to the Motor Vehicle Department, but I'm delaying it as long as possible."
"Wise words," Lorelai grumbled. "I spent six hours there the last time I got my license renewal. Six hours without coffee. It's a horrible thought."
"You could bring an energy drink with you--"
The innkeeper scoffed harshly at the notion. "I will not betray coffee by drinking Red Bull! Have you ever looked at the ingredients list on one of those cans? Also I did try it once and it made me very ill, I just can't do it. My caffeine has to be gently doled out, not all at once."
Caleb brushed a hand through his hair and nodded. "I'm sorry, I didn't know you couldn't do an energy drink."
"No, it's understandable. And on my budget, $4 for a can compared to $1-$2 a cup, it's much gentler on my purse."
"So it's noted, you're a coffee person, no question." Lorelai smiled back and bent down as he closed the door, unrolling it in the cool November air as he put on his seatbelt. "Do you want me to pick you up from work?"
"NO!" Lorelai shook her head strongly and Caleb was thrown off.
"I'm sorry, I--"
"No, not you." She held up her hand. "Two things will happen if you pick me up yourself. Either the town will send out an Amber Alert because they've never seen your car before, or begin to plan my wedding at that exact moment as the gossip spreads through town. For now, I want to keep this as quiet as possible." She cringed, feeling very apologetic. "Sorry, just living in a small town, you have to be careful."
"I understand. Same way at work before I left Chicago." He exchanged a smile as he started his engine. "Until next week, Lorelai. Hope we get into contact again."
"Me too." With a nod, both said their final goodbyes before Caleb pulled away from his parking space down the road, leaving Lorelai standing at the curb for a few moments before she decided to cross the street and wait for Sookie to come back in the well-lit area in front of the Workshop. Sookie pulled up five minutes later, and Lorelai composed herself before getting into the newly purchased red Escape Jackson had bought Sookie a few months back, putting her art portfolio in the back then getting in the front seat, where her best friend hoped to hear the details of the night. After getting settled in and onto the 91, she spoke up.
"I...I did want to thank you," Lorelai said, feeling honest. "I really felt good without having to be stuck at work tonight."
"Oh, hon, you're welcome. Did you have fun?" she wondered, and was answered through a four minute ramble by Lorelai about the specifics of the class and her teacher. She held off as long as she could mentioning either Paris or Caleb and went on about Ms. Sandberg's compliment about her drawing style and how much she enjoyed working in the class. Sookie was relieved to hear her present would not be wasted.
"So you're going next week? I'm not going to have to drive you down here again, am I?"
"Rest assured, I shall be coming on my own next week, Sook." She smiled and settled back in her seat.
"So..." Sookie turned for a moment. "Are you drawing a willie or a hoo-hah in this class?"
Lorelai snorted. "Maybe a couple times this year, but my main assignment is a girl, and apparently I have a muse, surprisingly enough." She decided to avert. "Oh, and I may have someone I like in my class."
The redhead was interested. "Like as in, 'I could be friends with them', or like as in, 'What I'd like to do is take them to bed and ravage them'?"
"I wouldn't go that far...yet. A guy named Caleb. He works for AT&T and sells business services, just came from Chicago. He's...nice." A dreamy sigh. "Much more neutral too, not Chris-like or Luke-like. He's a good guy, mocked the class a little with me." She raised her eyebrow. "I think he might be...fit, too. I didn't get a good look, but yeah, he's nice."
"Oooh, that's great," Sookie said, glowing and happy that her best friend might finally be getting out of the clouds. "Single?"
"Never married, took in my Chicago rant and understood well, and even the teacher noticed we seemed to work well together. He's funny, too." She looked both ways, even though she was in a car, on the highway, with only Sookie listening. "In fact, don't tell anybody, but I'm cutting out early next Thursday to have coffee with him before class."
If Sookie could pull off a fist-pump on the road, she would do it. Instead, she let out a happy laugh. "Oooh, youuuu like himmmm, don't you? It took Max weeks to get a date and that was just because he was in town."
The brunette demurred. "Well I don't know if he's the one, but he is definitely in contention for sure. I mean, if you want to do a felony check, go ahead--"
"Oh geeze, I trust you, Lor. That's why I had you do this class in the first place, to meet people. I'm glad you did meet someone you haven't known before and that there's nobody there from your past to get in your way."
And I think that would be the opening, Lorelai thought to herself, dreading the next part of the conversation. She gulped, took a deep breath and turned to look out her window, scared of the look on her chef's face when she revealed what she knew.
"Funny you would say that..." Lorelai grimaced. "So...you know how my model is a woman? That apparently she is my muse according to Ms. Sandberg?"
"Yeah?" Sookie paused. "Wait, do you know her?"
"You could say that." She stayed silent for a few moments.
"Is she an old friend from Hillside? Or..." The chef shrieked. "Oh my God, it's Rachel, isn't it? Or Sherrie?"
"No, no, no. I don't think it is. Remember, Sherrie went to a treatment center in New Hampshire for her post-partum depression?"
"Oh yeah." Sookie scoffed. "Still kind of scummy what Christopher and Mrs. Hayden tried to do to undercut her rights to Gigi." The past year had saw Sherrie's parents having nearly gone broke in order to keep Gigi in Massachusetts while their daughter sought treatment. "But not them?"
"No, you're going to be surprised." She made her voice neutral. "It's Paris." She didn't know what to expect for her friend's reaction.
"Paris?" With a shocked gasp, Sookie shook her head. "We have to exit...I have to stop."
"No, don't say anything until I pull off the road."
"Stifle!" Sookie yelled, pulling off her best Edith-to-Archie imitation, leaving the hotelier stunned quiet for the next mile until Sookie pulled off at the Wharton Brook Connector and pulled into a nearby service station. The silence in the SUV unnerved Lorelai, and she was wondering how the woman would react to the revelation.
Inside her own mind, Sookie was wondering what she could say. She knew Paris had gone through so many problems over the last year and a half, but now she was...doing nude modeling? I know she's a little bit crazy, she thought. But it must take a lot to get to that point.
She knew it must have been more than a shock to her best friend and business partner to see that her Christmas gift had somehow turned into thirteen weeks of having to face her daughter's friend naked. As she pulled into the 7-Eleven lot, she knew it would probably be a long conversation to figure out things. Maybe I can just pay her back and just forget all of this ever happened.
Coming to a stop, Sookie faced Lorelai, who was fearful of some kind of negative reaction from her friend. She hoped to reassure her, despite the shock she felt.
"So...Paris is in your class as the model."
"Uh, yeah." Lorelai felt blank and flustered at having to confess this to Sookie. "One moment I'm being introduced to the class and Ms. Sandberg is going through everything, and then the curtain opens in the other room and there she is, Paris Gellar in her birthday suit." She clenched her jaw before going forward. "I really had no idea until that moment and I considered walking out, but I know that would be a waste of money. And it's not like she's underage; she's going to be 21 on Christmas! She can do what she wants with her body."
Sookie shook her head, feeling so unsure, but knowing the last reaction she could have was of a mocking form. Even if her and Michel lived on Paris's misery through the summer she came over for lunches with Lorelai, she knew the girl was in a much worse position than Lorelai ever was in. "So you went forward and sketched her out."
"I did. It was a class, I have a talent. If it was you, I probably would have made the same decision," Lorelai admitted. "And the last thing I want to do is tattletale on Paris. It's not her fault her parents fucked up on their taxes, or Rory treats her like crap."
"Lor--" Not knowing where Lorelai was going, Sookie had expected a golden opinion of the younger Gilmore, but was shocked when Lorelai vented further.
"It's true, Sook. She lost her boyfriend, and she's been losing Rory on and off since she came back to Yale." Deeply sighing, Lorelai reclined her seat back and spilled her soul further. "How many people does she have to lose in her life? Every time Paris gets stressed out, Rory flees to Logan's apartment to stay out of her way when she just wants a friend to vent to, so I become that person just because I'll soak it up and really don't care about how high-strung she is. And now Rory's probably going off to London over the holidays, and I'm seriously scared she won't come back afterwards. She's living in that awful apartment pretty much all alone and has no family support at all. If she's doing this to keep up on her bills, I can't imagine how she's trying to keep up."
"But you talk to her. Can't she withdraw from her trust?"
"Not until she graduates," Lorelai said. "The Gellars may have been rich, but Paris's grandparents are smart. They have always insisted that their children get through college before getting a dime. It's always been a stressful family to get in, but once poor Par blew her Harvard interview, they've treated her like crap because she 'killed the legacy'. Then the tax stuff went down and nobody wanted anything to do with her."
Shaking her head, Lorelai let out what she had learned from Paris for the first time. "You cannot tell anybody about Paris's troubles. Not a soul. Especially Rory. I may have mocked Paris in the past for being a robot, but tonight has changed things for me so much. When I drew her she managed to stay still except for a few steps and stumbles here and there, but if she's doing this..." She didn't want to voice it out, but knew she had to. "She's a good woman, Sook. I've gotten to know her over the last year, more than I ever did when she was younger or a pain in our side. The last thing she wants to do is be stuck in a terrible job she hates. If she wants to do this, I have to understand."
A pause. "The thing is though..." With her voice hitching, she let out the confession. "She's beautiful. Beneath all of those emotional, mental and physical layers, is a real woman who has a classical beauty that's just plain ignored. She has soft lines, supple curves, and her bustline..." She shook her head and smiled. "There's so much emotion she's pushed down over the years, and I know her mother made her feel ashamed of her body. She even told me during one of her lunches last year that her mom wanted her to get surgery to smooth out the little divot she has on her nose. And you know how she wears long-sleeved shirts even when the weather is at its hottest."
"I sketched her out, and it all just showed through perfectly. It...worked. I don't think I could get that with any of the other models there. She's perfect for me, and as much as my gut is telling me to not go back next week or blab on knowing her, I have to go back. I...I want to. It's not her fault that I just happened to be assigned to the class she's modeling in, or that we're in this wacky situation that she can't see me at all."
Despite how odd she felt about the entire situation, Sookie managed a small smile, playing with her Band-Aid covered fingers as she took in all Lorelai had to say. Thinking for a moment, she thought of how to respond, before going straight for what her gut told her.
"Well...I expected jokes and wittiness about the naked human form," she admitted. "Instead, you see Paris in the buff and you feel for her." Sookie took in a deep breath, running a hand down the leather of the console next to her. "I didn't know she wasn't doing too well."
"I tried to deny it, but until I saw her this evening I thought she'd be able to get out of it without doing anything rash. This is it, her Hail Mary. I am not going to say anything to throw either of us out of that class. I need it in order to keep me from driving myself into an early grave from working too much. She needs it to keep afloat."
"I know. She'll do anything she can legally before she has to go for any kind of loan. If she feels this will pay off Yale, well, it's artistic. She's keeping busy and I won't say a word about it."
Sookie was still unsure, but she knew Lorelai would get through the class. Paris or not, she had paid for thirteen weeks of art instruction, and her best friend would get through them. "I guess I'm OK with this. Concerned, mainly for her, but OK. She's an adult, and if she wants to do this, who am I to judge?" She shook her head. "I just keep thinking you've known her since she was fifteen and it's a little odd."
Lorelai nodded. "I will tell you one thing though." Again, she looked around both ways. "She's got guts, putting herself out there."
"I'd say something else, but I don't want to offend her," Sookie said in response. "Just, if you feel uncomfortable with the class, let me know." She began to put the SUV back into drive. "I don't want to spend every Friday from here on out wondering how high-strung Paris was this week about being drawn."
"I'm not even going to see her again this week," Lorelai told Sookie. "Until next Thursday I don't have to see her." She smiled and hoped that would be the last thought she would have of Paris after spilling the beans to her best friend, who she knew would keep the secret.
The chef had completely different thoughts. As she took in the details about Caleb, she noticed that Lorelai's excitement about him was much lower compared to her 'rant' about Paris. As she merged back onto the 91, she looked at Lorelai and pursed her lips.
Last time you see her this week. Yeah, I think your dreams are going to disagree with you there, Lor. With that, Sookie wondered if she had just caused more trouble than help for her co-partner in giving her the drawing classes, but knew it was no longer her place to interfere.
She could only hope the next twelve weeks went without any further incidents, or surprises.
Janet had barely moved since she came back home.
Likewise, Tanna had tried to numb herself with the season two boxset of The Sopranos. Anything to get their mind off what they had discovered hours before.
But they both came back to the same conclusion as they drove back to the Workshop to bring Paris home.
"We can't tell her," Tanna said, fumbling with the radio knob. "We just can't. You know her; something goes wrong and we'll never hear the end of it. Like you with Dylan."
Janet cringed deeply. "I know Dylan was wrong now. I'm over Dylan! Keep rubbing it in, please, Tan."
"I'm just saying...if she finds out Lorelai was there, you don't want to be in the room. Or the census subdivision when she finds out."
"She won't know. We're good secret-keepers," Janet reminded her. "Remember when you aced that test even though you had sizzurp that night last May?"
"Darn it, J, don't remind me!" The small prodigy pouted, remembering how she was fooled into thinking what she thought was a very odd-tasting slurpee drink at a party turned out to be dosed with a quarter-bottle of Vicks 44D. "I still haven't gotten over that."
"Or the sixteen hours of sleep." The athlete brought things back to the topic at hand. "Anyways, when Paris asks, we don't know anything. Nothing at all."
"What if she did see Lorelai after class?"
"She couldn't. I know the procedure, we're gone ten minutes before the class dismisses, we can't stay in the building. She's already outside." They pulled up in front, where indeed Paris was waiting to climb into the cramped little Elantra. She smiled at them outside the window and Janet returned it, while reminding Tanna what not to do.
"Remember, not a word," she said through her smile before clicking the lock and opening it up for Paris to get into the backseat. The blonde looked a little exhausted and limped slightly on her feet, but was otherwise unaffected.
"Thank you again," Paris said as she slid in and put on her seatbelt. "I wasn't going to tell Logan or Rory anything about this, so I'm glad you just picked me up after class right off."
"No problem." Janet smiled back. "So, how was it?"
"Oddly quiet, kind of relaxing. I was able to zone out staring at my reflection and when the curtain went back in front of me, it took me a minute to realize it." Her eyes widened. "It was like I was in a trance. I thought I was going to be able to sort out my homework, but then it was just done without a thought at all."
"That is how it is, you get almost used to it." She pulled away from the building. "What about the bathroom?"
"I haven't had anything to drink since nine this morning so it wasn't an issue. And the other two models were downright respectful. The other girl doesn't have her right leg for instance, but you'd never know it by how much of a badass she is, and the guy? A downright teddy bear. You were right, Janet, I had nothing to fear at all."
"Did you see anybody from the drawing class?" Tanna asked neutrally, looking in the back to see the slight blonde shaking her head.
"Once the curtain was drawn, that was it. The girl and I headed for the cafeteria for a bite to eat, the guy headed home. We came back downstairs and everyone in the class was gone. It's about as smooth a process as you'd imagine. Except for the pain in my hip." She grimaced, moving her leg aside to try to shield the shock of pain along her side. "I'll definitely do it again."
Janet smiled. "Nothing to complain about?" She wanted to see if a long trademark rant was on the way, but Paris just pursed her lips.
"If you're expecting me to comment on unwashed masses and unaccredited drawing, it's not happening. I liked it. I'm anonymous and I'm just another person in that building. Maybe it'll be a part of my autobio one day but for now, it's a quiet and therapeutic way to make money without being stuck in some dead-end job."
"But why take that instead of clerking or interning?" Tanna wondered. "You have so many skills, Paris."
"I know I do," she admitted. "But..." A weary sigh. "Honestly, this hasn't been the kindest year for me. I don't have money to fall back on any longer and you don't know how defeated I was after I lost the editorship. It's been one hit after another and I'm just ready to let life play out as it may, even if it's not the way I expected. I mean, I didn't have to do this, apply at the Workshop and model in the nude. But it helps. It's given me a boost nothing else has in a while."
"It's also got us back in your life," Janet said, turning down the radio. "I know when we were living together, I thought you were a pain in the ass."
"That's because I was." Paris's clarity stunned Janet silent. "I know we could both say that's not the truth, but it was. I was the driven perfectionist and you spent all your time exercising, and we were both a toxic mix together. I should have been able to live with your differences, but I'm...well, it took some bad tax advice for my parents to see the light. Meanwhile I made Tanna suffer by belittling her when she really needed support. I feel guilty about it--"
"Paris, please don't." Interrupting her, Janet hoped to help the blonde understand. "You were the way you are because you didn't know any other way. Trust us, any antagonism we held for you disappeared the moment Rory grabbed the reins of that paper." A pause, as she took in a breath.
"Any other circumstance where you're breaking down? The advisor comes in to help you out. That's what happened when one of our girls botched her 400m; we didn't overreact and push her off the team just because of some bad runs. We supported her, helped her get back on track and it all worked out. Instead, Logan talked Rory into keeping you in your bunker, didn't even call the advisor and pushed out a paper that was not only unapproved by the advisor, but certainly wasn't good in any sense of the word. You were having a nervous breakdown and they all made fun of you and pushed you out." Harsh anger filled Janet's words. "That they even put out that edition with your name on the masthead, it was unbelievable."
Paris was stunned. "I always thought it was well-received. Even Doyle--"
"It wasn't. Doyle couldn't say anything negative, lest he get the Huntzberger blackball. We all know that. Paris..." She looked back in the rear-view mirror. "The corrections column in the next edition was three columns long. Multiple misspellings. Incorrect names. There were even a couple stories which weren't continued further on. Outside the newsroom, everyone felt it was terrible. If not for the fear of a hit piece disguised as 'investigative journalism' due to the Huntzberger funding, we all knew Rory and Logan would have been tossed out. Instead, they got rewarded by the faculty."
"It's the truth. The student union actually wanted to go to bat for you, but you isolated yourself out. Nobody could've blamed you for doing that. By the time you came out of hiding from your apartment, we all just assumed that the faculty supported Rory as editor and you didn't want to go back in. That you were content with your role."
Paris was quiet. She didn't even know anything about how the student body felt because Doyle and Rory had held back so many details of the aftermath of her breakdown. She just shut out the world and let the pieces fall where they may, and where they ended up with her was pretty much out of the newspaper with a vanity role to save face.
She hated it. She wanted to still be editor, to have someone pull her off. But instead of any of the newspaper staff intervening, they isolated her. Left her alone in the fort.
She took in a deep breath. Hated confronting the reality that from the moment she had been named editor and Rory came back to the paper, the staff had done what Francine Jarvis tried, but barely failed to do to her as student body president at Chilton.
"They...they forced me out, didn't they?" she admitted, a creak in her voice. Tanna turned around in her seat, her features firm, emotions angered. "I...I was just the stupid...in-the-way woman that gets bumped off in act three so school-dumping Rory gets her triumph and the guy at the end, and the editorship." Paris's voice raised higher. "I...I was a good editor. I tried to organize things. Sure, the hat thing was a little crazy, but--"
"Paris!" Tanna suddenly broke in. An action which would have earned her a probable beheading in freshman year, her ired voice threw Paris back a foot in her seat.
Tanna trembled as her nose wrinkled, and she finally was able to unload what she hadn't been able to in three years. "Rory thinks she's good and that you're to be walked all over. Yeah, she's real good."
"Don't, Janet. Do. Not." Her eyes blazed with anger. "I am going to get this out of my system and we are going to give Par the kick in the ass she needs." The child prodigy made the double major quake in fear. "So yeah, Rory's so good. Sure, she was a homewrecker, but she was good. Sure, she pissed away what was probably a guaranteed death of a shit secret society and Pulitzer-winning investigation that doesn't care about safety, doesn't care that 79 people don't give a crap about some guy's balls, somehow dodged a jail sentence by stealing a yacht, and worst of all, only needed three months to get the paper from you."
She took in a breath. "All the while you're having a good relationship with a respected professor. Yeah, a little unorthodox, but you're nuts for him. But then he passes suddenly. You get teased about him passing while you're having sex with him. I mean...what the fuck?! What kind of question is that to ask? You lose the love of your life and the first question out of your 'best friend' is 'did he die sexing you up'? I don't care if it's teasing, it's disrespectful.
"Then you get a good guy. Would go to the ends of the earth for you. But oh gosh, no. We can't be happy for you; we have to tease you mercilessly because, wow, you have a loving and cute little relationship that's a little dysfunctional, but not like a mindfuck where after a little flattery Hot Blondie gets taken back even as he's a walking minefield of syphilis from having a ménage a who-the-hell-knows with a wedding party? Then your parents flee the country because of their taxes. No 'oh my God sorry Paris lemme drop all of my minor little issues to take care of you', but a 'please help my grandma with her little society crap'!"
"Tanna Moira Schrick, will you stop it?!" Janet shook her head; Tanna had never become this agitated before.
"Paris knows all this has happened. Look at her, she's white as a sheet right now." Paris was indeed huddled in the corner, taken very aback by Tanna' sudden outburst. "Par, I'm so sorry." She gave a disapproving look towards the younger girl. "Geeze, Tanna, how long have you been holding that in? And how did you know all that?"
"I...I actually saw Doyle a few times last year," she admitted. "He did some venting, especially after the paper stuff went down." Wincing, she looked at Paris. "I...it's been sticking in my craw for years."
Clearing her throat and trying to recover, the blonde finally spoke. "I...I didn't know you felt so strongly."
"I never thought I did either. But then I get away from my parents and live a normal life, and your life suddenly looked like the better one, and Rory should not have done what she did to you." She shook her head. "Did she even give any thought to helping you break your lease and moving you and her somewhere better?"
"I...I tried to ask. But then my pride got in the way." Grimacing as they pulled up to her building, Paris felt the usual spark of fear of going home return. "It's home to me, no matter how dirty it might be."
Tanna looked up at the building. The 'doo-wop group' wasn't there tonight, but a blinking and flickering front porch light was. She felt fearful of Paris exiting the vehicle. "Par, just because your parents screwed up doesn't make you one. You shouldn't punish yourself by staying here."
"I signed a two-year lease. I have to go through with it. And really, I'm fine."
Tanna shook her head. "Once you get the seventh lock in place." She looked towards Janet, silently pleading with her to take action. "Is there any way to get you out of here?"
"I can't. Rory's paying part of the rent."
Janet shook her head. "Yeah, but she also gets to run away to Logan's suite when things get bad for her." She looked up at the apartment. "There's nothing you could do to get out of it?"
"Not really. I have tried to look for loopholes in the lease agreement, but it's pretty much ironclad that I stick by the lease unless I somehow get sick."
Both women grimaced, with Tanna sighing. "So we basically have to hope for asbestos suddenly coming out of the shower one day out of the blue."
"If I get one. I have five minutes of hot water every four hours." Janet's mouth dropped in horror.
"And just why did you and Doyle find this your dream place again?"
"I had a good place lined up in sophomore year, but the feds seized my lease because my parents paid for it. It was this at the last minute or struggle to get on-campus housing, which like my finances is still pegged to my old wealth, so I was on last priority."
"So it was last resort."
"Last? Yes? Definitely isn't a resort by any means." She groaned, looking up and feeling the dread of the last few months return anew. "I don't even like guns but I've been thinking about getting one."
"Paris...don't." Janet looked at her former roommate and felt horrible. "Look..." I wonder how open she'll be to this. "If, and I'm saying if, there is any way to get out of your lease...how would you feel about moving in with me?"
The blonde's eyes widened, but she immediately felt she shouldn't. "I...I can't. You and Kevin--"
"Kevin and I have plenty of room in the master bedroom. I'll just move my exercise stuff to the living room and he'll put the computer stuff in the bedroom. Paris...I can definitely make room."
"I've only been knowing you again for a few weeks," Paris said, nervously. "We'll get on our nerves all over again."
"Better to just be fighting with each other than the inevitable armed robber." Tanna looked at them both debating and brought in her own opnion.
"Par, you said you want to better yourself before you graduate. And this place cannot get better unless you find a time machine and turn it back to 1897."
Frowning, Paris knew Janet was right, but knew she couldn't put her friend out without exploring all the avenues she could first.
"Let me see what I can do," she said quietly. "I'd rather wait until after break so there's chaos during finals, but...it's under consideration." A nod. "Thank you for the offer."
"Thank you for considering it." Janet smiled. "At least you got a fun night out of this."
"I did. And I am pleased you brought me over." She began to open the door. "I'll see you sometime this weekend perhaps to try that two mile jog. Emphasis on try." Janet smiled, rolling her eyes as she was glad to see Paris willing to go forward with her help.
"Can't wait. You have a good day tomorrow." Paris waved slightly as Tanna got out a bubbly goodbye, and Janet stayed behind, waiting for Paris to get into the building before pulling away.
Immediately the gears within Tanna's brain were rolling, which Janet noticed straightaway.
"So she doesn't know," Tanna surmised. "Do you think she'll find out Ms. Gilmore was there?"
"It's pretty doubtful. She seemed pretty zen about everything, so I assume she did the model thing and left. Paris has a work ethic that makes a Gary steelworker seem like a slacker."
"True." Tanna wrinkled her nose up as she shared more about what she thought. "At least we know the apartment wasn't her choice."
"Nobody lives in that building by choice, T. We really have to get her out of it."
Tanna nodded. "You're sure Kevin would go for letting her stay?"
"We actually talked about it after she was over Monday morning to go over our workout plan. He's open to it, and we have much more soundproofing than we ever did at Durfee."
"Uh-huh." Tanna raised an eyebrow. "You're lucky I still like you after all those nights I slept on the couch to help you and Dylan out."
"You're still on that?"
"My gosh, Janet, he came out of the room naked a few times! He was a scary-looking man, both physically and genitally!" The curly-haired prodigy cringed at the memory. "But you and Kev are more at an even keel with each other. Much less rough and more loving and kind. I can certainly handle you two."
"Funny you should say that, it's like a role reversal. Now we're the quiet ones, while you and Marcus--"
"Hey!" Tanna held up her hand. "Wait a minute. How did we get to the point where we determined Paris has a crush on Ms. Gilmore anyways?"
"I don't know. I just kinda saw it when we were all at Durfee. Paris was into older people, Lorelai is bubbly and happy and seemed to at least make Paris smile and right now, whenever she sees her, she cheers up."
"But is she even single? I can't even remember?"
"Ahh, you have not finessed MySpace snooping yet, I see." Janet giggled. "I friended Lorelai on there just because Stars Hollow is still interesting to me. I did it in April, and in May her status went from engaged to single. Obviously something's going on there because her posts went from 'giddy and sane bridezilla' to 'serene and sort of lovelorn innkeeper'."
Tanna wiggled her fingers. "But...we don't know much more than that. We know Paris like's Lorelai's company, but not much else."
"Riddle me this then; Paris has calmed over the years. She's a little more realistic, if still driven. Her first relationship with Jamie just ended because she got bored. Asher for obvious reasons, and Doyle, they were good but with her drive, it just wasn't meant to be. Lorelai Gilmore, even though she doesn't seem it on the surface, is just as hard-charging."
"I still don't know," Tanna expressed, feeling a bit of aversion to supporting the two women. "Besides Paris's spring break experiment that did not work out, we have no indication she likes women as more than friends. Plus, we cannot tell her Lorelai is in that class. If she finds out she will literally break down." A pause. "Can't we just set her up with some guy?"
"She doesn't want to be set up with anybody. That's the problem." The runner continued to think of what to do even as her and Tanna came back to her apartment to see Kevin falling asleep to a CSI rerun. "And it is a little odd to think of setting those two up for anything."
"Then we should not. Maybe we just stay out of the way and look at the clues to see if something is there?"
"Maybe." Janet nodded. "But priority one; Lorelai can't know. We know she knows Paris is the model, but beyond that, we can't find out anything because you know she's going to hold it close. Rory truly can't know just because of how she is now."
"Isn't that the truth?" She looked at Kevin before kicking his foot. "Hey, Kevin!"
The curly-haired man shot up like a light, as Tanna's voice scared him out of a slumber. "AHH!" Tanna laughed back as Janet narrowed her eyes in disapproval.
"I love doing that!" she teased, as Janet rolled her eyes, then gave Kevin a glance.
"I really don't know why I'm friends with her," she cracked, though her voice was soft. "Sorry about that, Kev."
"Ehh, I'm good." The two kissed as Janet immediately broke down their night of studying, socialization and running Paris to and from class. He expressed both delight and confusion from hearing about how the odd innkeeper was to the former roommate of his girlfriend.
"So...you're not telling Paris, that Lorelai is on the other side of the glass." Both girls nodded. "Isn't that unethical?"
"A little, yes. But we're not costing Paris money because she had to switch or resign her class. It's thirteen weeks, it'll go by fast."
"Yes...but what if Lorelai falls in love?" Kevin said.
Janet scoffed at the notion. "I don't think that'll happen--"
"Jay, according to what you know of her she's a 37 year-old woman with two failed engagements whose using this class to spark her life back up. And now she sees Paris, a lovely young woman, as a sexually beguiling being for the next thirteen weeks." A smile. "Three words; mid-life crisis. Something's gonna happen."
"You really think that?"
Knowingly, Kevin nodded. "Remember how I told you my parents met? Months upon months stuck on a cruise ship and they were the only stations of sanity for each other."
"But these are two women!"
"Doesn't matter. Eventually Paris won't have the window to save her and when she sees Lorelai, who's been sketching out her every curve for two months and probably softening her strokes by the end...it's just an inevitable path."
Tanna tried to counterpoint with a different argument despite her rooting interest. "And if Paris turns out to be temperamental as she poses through the class? What if Lorelai develops a negative opinion of her somehow?"
Janet understood and argued back her theory. "It can't happen, not with Ms. Sandberg. She tries that, she's out, and Paris is very by the book somehow. I doubt it would even get to that point." She shrugged at her boyfriend. "Kevin's right; it's all going to have to be on Lorelai's end to take action. We can't really interfere at all."
Tanna understood. "Agreed. Right now Paris has been a pain in her side. But by the end, who knows? She is certainly much different than she was in that first year with all she had going on."
"And she's humbled. She's still hard-working as she's ever been, but she'll never let anything stop her. Lorelai and her share that for sure." The two continued to talk as Kevin balanced out the conversation for another hour before Tanna eventually had to leave in order to get in some studying before bed. After departing, Janet spread out on the couch as Kevin looked down at her.
"You really want those two to be happy, don't you?" he noted. "You barely talked about Paris since we met, but now she's back in our life and she's going to stay in it, isn't she?"
"It's inevitable. Like that one song says, 'a change is gonna come'." Thinking about her friend back in her apartment, Janet knew she wouldn't rest until the fiery blonde was safe and sound with her and Kevin.
She just wondered how Lorelai would bring that move into play.
Later back in the Hollow, Lorelai was cuddled in her pajamas in bed, Paul Anka snoozing away at the foot of her bed. She was still pleased about all that had happened through the night, especially with Caleb.
But her mind was filled with other images, which she was currently working out on her sketchpad. The eyeglasses she rarely brought out rested on her temples as she finessed from memory a drawing which just came to her and she had to get out.
A few weeks ago she had stopped at Paris's apartment to see Rory, but her daughter was instead out at the Pub with the rest of the Brigade. The blonde seemed to be in a low ebb, and instead of leaving, Lorelai decided to come in and have a catch up on their lives.
She had found it a nice release to have someone else besides Sookie to talk to about life post-Luke, and she deeply empathized with Paris about the loss of Doyle to Sooner Country. The conversation soon wandered well away from exes and onto the future, where Paris was bound and determined to have all of her dreams come true despite the hamstring of her finances.
An image had caught in her mind that she had not been able to get out since that night.
As they talked, Paris looked out the window, her hands buried in the sleeves of a heavy hoodie Lorelai knew the girl had kept from her father, a green sweatshirt featuring the worn logo of her beloved and long-gone Whalers. The men's extra large shirt seemed to bury Paris, but also keep her nice and warm. The lighting in the room was dim, the brightest one in the room outside of a couple soft lamps being the monitor of her Mac, casting what seemed to be a whitish glow against her face.
With the confidence boost Ms. Sandberg had given her of her drawing abilities that night, Lorelai spent the hour before bed, rather than reading one of her celebrity magazines, forming the drawing which would be her submission for the next week. She decided to leave out the hood of the sweatshirt and concentrate on Paris's face and features, the image of the sad woman frozen in her mind.
As she went forward, her heart caught on the imagery flowing from her pencil. She had only in this evening realized that after so long, Paris's nose was dotted with freckling that was only apparent up close and without distractions. The little hairs along her neck. The way her brows furrowed in concentration or annoyance. The way her upper lip stuck out just slightly when she was angry, and how her cheeks colored depending on each emotion she had.
Her heart tingled as she continued with the sketch, going on and on with it until she felt it was perfect. She would probably work on it a little more after she came back from Hartford the next evening, but she looked it over and sighed.
"You really are a good subject, aren't you, Par?" She shrugged, seeming to find her sketch perfect except for the issues with eye shape and pupil shading. "Geeze, it's like she was designed for art, wasn't she?" Her question was answered with a soft yowl from Paul Anka, seemingly in one of his worry dreams, though Lorelai still took it as an answer.
"You're a dog, you don't know much about art." She laughed to herself, filling in a few more details as the image from her mind came into reality on the paper. She finished it up, finding it as finessed as it could be, then set it aside with a glance at her clock.
"Whoa! 12:15am already?" She looked around the room. "Wow. I guess Sookie was right that I was going to have fun with this class!" She looked at the drawing. "I just didn't know it was going to be something like this." She closed the sketchbook and slid it under the bed, then brought the covers over and fell asleep within twenty minutes, pleased with her work and willing her mind to fade off by thinking about her 'coffee meeting' with Caleb.
However, her mind had other ideas, and the last image in her mind as she finally fell asleep was of a soft and beguiling olive-skinned young woman she had met as a temperamental young sophomore, who had become a strong and firm young woman making her way through life like she did, against all odds.
Despite her mind wanting her to move towards knowing Caleb in more than a friendly manner, it seemed as if her heart had taken a surprisingly liking to Paris Gellar.
He might be a nice rebound, her soul expressed, but Paris knows you more. And you know her.
Sleep came easily to Lorelai. However, her dreams were filled with images of the blonde intellectual, and somehow she knew that the post-Luke period of her life just grew more complicated than she had ever figured...
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