DISCLAIMER: Sorry, not making terrible erotic adult e-book romance money off this; Gilmore Girls still belongs to Amy Sherman-Palladino/Dorothy Parker Drank Here Productions, Hofflund-Polone, and Warner Bros. Television. All products mentioned within are the property and trademarks of their respective owners, and no disrespect is meant or implied. In advance, I have no opinion one way or the other about air beds and their durability, except they are the most uncomfortable sleeping experience besides laying down right on an interstate. Not that I know or would want to know what that feels like.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Just like I promised, this is going to be a busy month with my projects. Well, busy for me in that I actually put out chapters of course, but now that we have Paris and Rory out to the important people in their lives, things get a little easier from here as Christmas break comes for them. Although I'm hoping to have a little less 'Paris is hurting' going on in these future chapters. This one, like The Innkeeper's Lover is timed to come out for the International Day of Femslash, and is the first time I've released exclusively to Passion and Perfection before my other sites, so here's hoping you find what you're looking for in this update. Thanks to everyone who has read and reviewed and has patiently awaited updates to this, and for all your support. And if you're reading on fanfiction.net and been waiting 23 chapters for one of the LDB guys to come in and do what they do, are you seriously still waiting for a male love interest 24 chapters in at this point? The title inspiration this time is a line from Sarah McLachlan's "I Will Not Forget You".
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Longing With a Cherry Tomato on Top
By Nate

Chapter Twenty-Four
So Scared & So In Love

 

Paris's POV, 5:00pm

This isn't how it was supposed to be.

My life shouldn't have gone this way. I should be on cruise control headed towards valedictorianship, nothing in my way, an open road and a GPA well above 4 with plenty of extra credit to boot. No challenges, nothing in my way. I should be unfettered on my way to Harvard without anything to care about.

The problem is I forgot to account for the one factor that ended up stopping me.

Myself.

Or to be more specific, my emotions, my heart, everything around them. In planning, on paper, everything has a simple path. A flow chart where each box eventually leads to a decision diamond, where a line is limitless and never runs into anything except each choice within each box. It all seems so simple a few years ago hanging on your wall, the directions and bullet points you need to obtain the goal you have been living for since you first heard your father talk about how you're 'bound to be a Harvard girl' and of this mysterious place in a place called Cambridge where big lecture halls are backed by haunting chants and "Pomp & Circumstance", inspired by probably being the only person under 30 to ever declare that The Paper Chase was your favorite film and television show.

OK, I might be exaggerating a bit; remember my three year-old self was obsessed with The Care Bears. But still, right on top of there.

All I've been living for since the day I went into the Mandell JCC at age two, expectant, wide-eyed and ready to learn. Nothing would get in my way. Not that annoying redhead with the dorky name of Francine Jarvis who kept making fun of me for coloring outside the lines. Certainly not Duncan and Bowman, who even at three years old were budding troublemakers interested about what was beneath my skirt.

Thankfully a little undiscovered bash into a wall fixed that forever and struck the fear of God into those morons. Though I do apologize if they have lost some brain capacity from my reaction.

Nothing was going to get in my way. There was nothing that could stop me.

Then I fell in love.

I had expected it to be Tristan years ago. I knew at twelve we would probably be bound together somehow for life. That things would end up with me carrying the name DuGrey.

However, what you think at twelve is different from the reality of being at the edge of seventeen. How true the words of Stevie Nicks, a woman my father had wished to marry in his youth, have come true for me.

Tristan is now in North Carolina. And now I'm in love with the woman I thought would be bound for both his arms and my slot in Harvard the day I came in.

This was nowhere near the flowchart, the diamond reading 'fall for Rory Gilmore and move into her home'. Especially not the moving in part.

But here I am, nursing a near-broken foot, thankful that the dressing of my wounds from Dr. Merton will be enough to keep me off crutches. My head still hurts, but I still feel fully cognizant, thank God. My face is going to take a bit before it returns to my normal complexion.

At least now, I'm on the way with Lorelai to New Haven to pick Rory up. It's going a whole lot better than it should. She's coming home, and everything should be well as I recover from what has been a hell of a weekend...

"Holy crap, that's amazing! There's an entire channel devoted to New Wave music?! Damn, I wish I could get something like this in the Jeep!"

I should mention I let Lorelai drive my car to the station, and she's made a mess of my custom seat and satellite radio station settings in only fifteen minutes. Although I should be annoyed about my car being sullied by the peppiness of Katrina and the Waves and Oingo Boingo, I will take it any day over what has happened this weekend. Besides, I can always reset those things easily.

Resetting the bones in my foot and my emotions are going to be a lengthy process however. There's also no reset button with the relationship with my mother. When I got the call from Fran earlier that Sharon's attorney was trying to get her out with a laughable bond that was on par with the purchase of a London Fog coat, I was angry for a moment. I wanted to throw the phone towards the nearest wall.

But I'm the better woman here. I defended my love to her. I proved my independence. In ten days I will no longer have to take her advice on anything.

I've been thrown into this new way of life. Living out of a suitcase. A regular-sized shower in a bathroom I must share with two other women with long hair. A lack of wi-fi. Television that is contained within a hundred-pound tube rather than a flat portrait hanging on a wall.

I should be pouting and acting like a poor little rich girl. But I'm nowhere near that point because possessions are just immaterial at this point. I still have myself, and Rory's love. Right now, it's all I need...

"Her name is Rio and she dances on the saaaaaaaaaaannnnd!"

Besides earplugs. Lorelai Gilmore, Kelly Clarkson you are not.


Rory's POV, 4:30pm

This weekend has been a turbulent one. I wish there was some way to really reference something in the past that is comparable to this.

The problem is, I've had a good life. I know I'm lucky to be where I am. The worst I've had to go through has either been academic or the disappointment of not getting a toy because Mom had to pay the heat bill more to keep me warm than satisfy me with some kind of doll I wanted, but lost interest in within minutes.

I'm not Paris, who has had too many crappy moments she can easily compare to this weekend. I'm just who I am, a girl who just feel for her in an unexpected way and never expected years ago when I finally got the acceptance letter to Chilton that it would not only bring me a prized education, but someone I could love so deeply, that hearing them in pain hurt me in turn.

Boston is behind me. In some ways, it was terrible. Christopher never came back, never bothered to call. Sherrie is still boiling at him. His cool-off period may be turning into a 'moving into another apartment' period.

But there was so much good about today too. Meeting Devon and his husband, Sherrie's friends. They all missed her terribly and were glad to be back in her life, no matter the circumstances. How they were all supportive of me and hoped for the best for Paris and I, despite us all just meeting hours ago. The awe of the mother of my new sister as she was spoiled deeply, and of how I left with Devon and Ian staying there, helping with putting all the stuff she got together, being the father figures I'm afraid Dad may not be able to be.

And of Rebecca actually being kind enough to bring me to South Station instead of having to re-navigate the T all over again and somehow helping me build a support system in Boston I hadn't even figured on asking for, much less picturing when I left yesterday.

I'm on my way home, to have Mom meet me at New Haven. And Paris. I don't know how it's going to go. Or if Paris will be in any condition to even get out of the car.

Despite all that's gone wrong this weekend, it's all been overshadowed by the good. Madeline's loyalty. Sherrie's excitement about having Gigi. How good friends will never truly leave you. And of how distance does make the heart grow fonder.

We may have lost two people this weekend, but we gained much more support that we ever could have mustered. Everything is wonderful...

Oooh, just got a text from Paris, wonder what it says,

R,
How do you live with Lorelai's terrible singing in the car?

P

I laugh out loud. Despite all we've gone through, at least there's still something that unites us all; my mom breaks mirrors with her singing voice.

Also, knowing Paris is going to be living with me, if only for a few days, or a week...

Lord have mercy on me please. I know even despite her physical state, I'm still going to be in lust with her.


Paris's POV, earlier, 2:30pm

"Does it hurt...here? Or here? Now how about--"

"Oh God! That's where it's the worst!" I cringed in deep pain as Dr. Merton went by feel over my shin, then ankle and down to my feet to trace where the worst of the pain in my foot was coming from. "Don't again!"

"I won't, I promise." She quickly held up her hands, to assure me I did right. "I just need to know where I can buddy tape this. Only a couple toes were real sprained so I can just hold them against the others, along with the other damage in your ankle. Now you're going to be limping and thankfully this isn't going to be casted. But Paris, absolutely no saddle shoes the next week. I'm sending you with a doctor's excuse to go in tennis shoes. At most you'll need a couple days on crutches, but if you take it easy the rest of today and tomorrow I don't even think you'll need that much."

"What about driving?" The concern was there to get to school, especially with a half-hour drive to the Hollow.

"Brake and gas with your right foot for now. You should be OK to drive. Thankfully the shiner healed up a little from last night. It was a wonder she didn't snag you with any jewelry on her hands." She began to wrap my injury as Lorelai looked on in concern. "But you say you have to pick up Lorelai's daughter at the train station?"

"In New Haven, yes."

"Paris, I can drive." Lorelai volunteered without any thought at all. "You rest in the back and heal up. That way you and Rory can share the backseat on the way home. It's a wonder you even got to town in the first place."

"You're sure? I know you usually drive a stick in the Jeep and there's a lot of controls in my car."

"Ehh," she brushed off the concerns. "I actually had a Civic for a couple of years before I was able to get the Jeep. I do know how to drive a car."

"Well, if you say so." Dr. Merton had be stretch out my foot as I tried to push down the pain while tying the healing of the sprained toes to my healthy ones.

"You probably know the deal with this; tie a bag around your foot before a shower, don't take too many steps. Your face will heal up and no scars will be left physically." She concentrated on her work as I felt at ease, somewhat on the road to recovery. "If there's a bright side to this injury to be found it's you have only a week to winter break, so you're healed up once the Chilton custodians get in their floor buffering done before New Year's."

"And you're sure the Headmaster will be fine with me in tennis shoes? The man is a stickler for the uniform code."

"Well, he better be a damned stickler for the Hippocratic Oath and our state's child welfare laws. You're going in tennies, it's on the doctor's note and that's final." She looked over the situation. "The good thing is when you fled upstairs you were smart despite your adrenaline rush and put only small bits of pressure on the foot. Any more than that, I'd be talking cast rather than a wrap."

"So we're good."

"Yes, we are." She paused, remembering Lorelai was in the room. "Uh, Ms. Gilmore, can you excuse us for one moment? I have to get into the usual things with Paris, insurance and all that. A couple of women's health issues too."

Lorelai nodded. "Of course. I...I think I'll grab the car." She smiled at both of us. "It was nice meeting you, Dr. M. I can see now why Dr. Reiss recommended you to take over her practice when she retired. You have a good manner, like she did with me."

I should probably mention that Dr. Loretta Reiss was Lorelai's doctor for many years until her cut-off from Hartford society, and about the only advocate on her side when she was pregnant with Rory. I had never known that until a few conversations over the last few months where I shared that Dr. Reiss had retired and left Merton in charge of the practice, and how Lorelai was glad my family stuck with such a good personal doctor and the practice built up.

With Lorelai gone, I knew what was coming; the usual battery of women's health questions I was used to. It was the time when I usually made the call to get my prescriptions, and though I knew things were slightly different this month, I had to talk to Dr. Merton about them.

"So, how goes your regimen?" She adjusted my foot and began to treat my bruises. "You still want to stay on it, right? If you don't feel it's right I can find a new mix."

"I should," I told her. "I've been fine the last couple of years, and the main factor is I'm on birth control to treat the other thing. My sexuality doesn't change that, and you know me. I'm paranoid."

"So...no change to birth control. No patch or injection."

"I read JRM last week. No way I'm putting myself at risk with that crap. The pill works fine for most everyone I know."

"That you read JRM despite not going into the field scares me a little," she admitted with a laugh as she applied a numbing agent to the bruise on my neck. "But medically speaking it's working fine?"

"Medically speaking, I do have no complaints. I might not need it for the primary purpose, but thank goodness for the secondary effect. If I ever have to go through that again I think I'd wish for a dose of testosterone to push that crap away." I laughed; it would be absurd to take male hormones just to kill of my...moon time. After finishing up, she headed to her prescription pad to write up the usual.

"You need to me to call it into Chase's as usual?" I shook my head.

"Better not. There's a Rite Aid just outside the Hollow and I filled a couple of prescriptions there on the run when I picked up Rory this fall; call it in there. They'll know and I'll pick it up on the way."

"Will do. Just remember what I said; no pressure, don't get it wet, and with Ms. Gilmore out of the room..." She made sure patient-doctor privilege was used as it needed to be. "As long as you're light and not applying pressure to the affected areas, sexual activity is fine. Take it easy."

"I didn't even say anything," I argued.

"But you're at that age and I know both you and your girlfriend are probably active. As I said, easy goes it. But of course, follow Ms. Gilmore's orders."

"Of course." I slid off the exam table, all bandaged and soothed, ready to go. "Thanks for the weekend visit. I know it isn't--"

"Paris, it's never a problem. I know how you are, and if you weren't in school tomorrow I know you'd be wailing about it for days." She helped to prop me on the crutches she gave me. "Just be healthy and well for me."

"Of course. Thanks again, Dr. Merton."

"Anytime." With that, the treatment of my wounds were complete, with a bandaged foot, toes bundled together, face and neck treated and numb, and some nice painkillers to come with my birth control prescription. Lorelai then bought lunch for me through the drive-through, an experience I don't usually have because of my usual ban of food from the car.

Obviously inside eating wouldn't happen this afternoon. Feeling better, I indulged in my curly fries and two roast beef sandwiches at Arby's with a Diet Coke as we drove to the pharmacy outside of town with the prescription called in. Soon, we were on our way to New Haven.

To Rory. I was going to get out of the car for at least that. I couldn't not meet her at the platform, and hopefully nobody would stare at me.


Rory's POV, 5:00pm

Two hours and six minutes were all that were between Paris and I. The train I'm learning through this weekend will definitely keep Mom and I in touch next year when I go to Cambridge. It's not a long way at all. It seemed like it in the past.

I think I can do this. The Acela is a fine way to get between Boston and New Haven, though there's still all that space between there and Stars Hollow.

At least I know I'm no longer alone, and neither is Sherrie.

If you could describe the difference between yesterday and today in her flat, the word you'd look for was 'remarkable'. Yesterday she was sulking with an incomplete baby rocker, a TiVo packed with nothing but NESN and Fox Sports New England content, and absolutely no Christmas cheer to be found.

I left today with Rebecca, my ride to South Station. As I left, Sherrie was smiling widely wearing a 'future Bruins fan' shirt with an arrow pointing to her stomach, her brother and his husband applying tinsel to the tree containing many presents beneath it, and Deanna Tinsdale, a product of Roxbury glowing about the arrival of her future granddaughter.

They say things can't be fixed in one day, but sometimes in rare circumstances, it's a complete lie. Seeing all this bottled up support for the mother of my half-sister in a baby shower executed with only mere hours of prep and a total lack of knowing the basics about one, there was a definite change in the air. No Dad getting in the way or hiding flirting towards Sherrie's friends.

Getting up, I was able to prepare a quick breakfast of some Yoplait, toast and...well, let it be known that Sherrie is a Whole Foods regular. I might have to actually get Luke to add tangerine juice to his menu, it was pretty darned good. As I looked over the Sunday Globe, Sherrie came into the kitchen, wobbly and woozy from an odd night of sleep. I gasped as she tried to slide into her chair and quickly got up to help her.

"Good lord, I'm sorry." I guided her into the chair as she shook her head.

"I'm used to it now," she explained, and I could tell there was yet another thing my father failed to do for her. "He was told to help me out, but it didn't really take."

"He doesn't really help unless he can get some kind of benefit," I argued, knowing exactly what 'benefit' he got out of Mom. "You should really get a midwife, Sher. I'm here today, but not for long."

She cringed, running a hand through her messy curls. "I actually did try to get one. I have more than enough money. But Chris argued against it with some argument about me being an independent woman. And I do need some help." She looked around the kitchen. "You really think it wouldn't be bad to get one?"

"It could help. You could have someone to talk to, and she could help with breathing exercises. I know your mom's coming in today but I am worried for you. Just...think about it for me?"

She nodded. "I think I will. Things have been screwed up since I had to take my leave at work and I'm not out there. I really hate having idle hands, you know? I've been working hard for all these years, and now it stops because I have this hard-ass pregnancy to get through." Falling into her childhood accent made Sherrie seem a lot less cultured, but more human to me. "Not that I'm saying--"

"No, of course not, I know you love Gigi. Just a little hard at this point, it's completely understandable."

"I think this is pretty much a visible 'don't get pregnant at your age' life lesson, isn't it?"

I laughed out loud. "Thankfully I shouldn't have that problem with the way I live. Also, my birth control." She took the arts section and circulars from the paper and began to look them over, groaning at everything in the Macy's and Target sections.

"Damn it, why do all the great sales have to be this time of year? Look at all those tops on those thin models and--" I made a move and took them away from her immediately. "Rory--"

I set my hand on top of hers. "Sher, I don't care what my dad says or does, or doesn't do. You are beautiful. You're having my sister. No matter what, a woman who is pregnant is sexy just for who she is; a fertile woman. So just...just ignore those ads. You will get off the weight eventually. But I don't want it done like Kate Hudson. You're vital."

She winced and I could tell that I was about to make her cry, which she did, covering her eyes. "Oh God...I'm so sorry..."

"Sher--"

"No, you're right, you are!" She raised up her hand and laughed. "I'm just so emotional lately and the way Chris has been treating me hasn't helped. It's like the moment I got my bump it automatically...well I'm not going to get descriptive here, but you get the idea!"

"Idea definitely gotten for sure." I shook my head at her and smiled. "It's going to be OK, I promise. Things are looking up from here, you know that." She nodded, taking in a breath and letting out the barest of assuring smiles. "Now, we should get ready. Don't want to look bad for your friends and mom, do you?"

"We should. God, I'm nervous. I haven't seen Ma for months. Let's just say that Chris didn't consider her someone he wanted to talk to all the time. Like oil and water." A laugh. "She said he was a 'young punk'."

"Your mother doesn't mince words, does she?"

"This refined accent? It took years away from Ma and Dad to sound like I came from one of the finer suburbs rather than Roxbury. How the three of us made them proud, I'll never figure out." She shrugged and grabbed at the coupons, a binder next to her to organize for her next shopping trip. She glanced down to find a Progresso page staring at her and blanched. "And...now I have a craving for her clam chowder. The stuff these people push as delicious is certainly not that."

"Sorry." I smiled, knowing that our talking made her sort of hungry with the coupons. "I'm glad your mom and brother are coming today."

"Believe me, I'm ready for them." Wistful, she looked up at the cabinets. "Though she's going to criticize my housekeep--"

"Sher?"

"Yeah?" I shook my head in her direction.

"You're pregnant. I think you have a right to push it off." She pushed her eyes together and groaned.

"I really need to know that, don't I? Three months, this girl is out in the world." Her eyes were wide. "I hope I'm a good mother."

"You will be," I promised, definitely sure of it. We talked some more as eventually I got up to get things ready. Sherrie really didn't have anything to worry about as far as cleaning and I was able to move a few things out of the way to accommodate everything.

Through the morning, my worries built up about Paris though. I did sleep, but it was filled with an uncomfortable feeling in the pit of my stomach about her in pain. The idea of her hurting and out of her element after what she went through yesterday had me on edge, and I kept looking towards the front door, ready for my father to come back.

He didn't though, to my relief. In hindsight, I was glad the last time he was in Stars Hollow that I was a little more wiser about why Mom doesn't want to be with him forever. Just the way he treated Sherrie though, I think the ick factor with him is just beyond anything I'd ever want in a father.

Soon enough it was 10:45am though. Sherrie had just sat down in the chair she found most comfortable when the intercom buzzed. With a nod she told me to head over to it to see who was in the front hallway. I clicked the button to talk.

"Who is this?" I asked.

"Ahh, you must be Rory!" A bright and cheerful male voice rang from the intercom. "It's Devon, with Ian!"

"I'll get you right up." Smiling I hit the buzzer and after a couple of minutes opened the door, wondering how these men my father could hate so much looked...

...And from the moment I saw them I wondered what the big deal was at all.

I'll be honest that I had expectations of what Sherrie's brother looked like, but those went away very quickly. He was still nice and gruffly male, a definite Tinsdale for sure, but with a weekend growth of facial hair and brown curls framing his face; he wouldn't look out of place hanging out at a sports bar with his scruffy Bruins cap on his head and a plaid shirt on. His partner Ian was definitely the Penn to Devon's Teller, a sort of quiet and shorter guy wearing a Pats shirt and holding a gift bag, looking around the room nervously.

"Hey," I said. "You must be Ian."

"I am. You're Rory?" He extended his hand. "Sorry, I'm not usually the type to introduce myself."

"That's fine, me either." I took his hand and shook it as Devon sat on a sofa next to Sherrie, giving her as tender a hug as possible. The relief on her face was immense as she felt thankful to see her brother again.

"Sher, you're absolutely bursting," he said, as his sister laughed out loud. "You sure you're not at fourteen months?"

"Shut up Dev." She stuck out her tongue as the man sat next to her. "Great to see you again, little bro. How goes life?"

"The usual, Ian's making money for the clients, I'm doing well with the bar, it's all good." I looked at Ian, who smiled.

"I'm an institutional investment banker at CSFB," he said, filling in the details. "Rough work, but at least I'm in the part of the office that allows me to see my kids. It works out very well. Devon takes care of the kids during the day while I get home and get them fed and to bed, and we're both home during the weekends." I nodded, interested in hearing about everything as we sat down to await the girls.

It was great getting to see Devon and Ian, and I sat on the chair to the side as the two guys cuddled on the couch next to Sherrie, talking about things, including the kids, who had both been adopted out. I saw pictures of them, both of them three years old, a girl and a boy. The girl was named Naya, a child of El Salvadoran heritage, with the boy named Bobby, who they adopted from an agency from Vermont. I was happy hearing about how normal a family they had created and that their little blended family worked out.

Before anyone else could come though, Sherrie brought up what had made this all possible in the first place; Christopher's slur in the car to me last night.

I expected Devon to curse or strike back that my father was some kind of weak man for his actions.

Color me surprised when instead of anger, there was a loud laugh and a smile instead.

"Really, that's it? That's all he called me?"

"Devon, he said it with anger!" Sherrie asserted, but her bear of a brother was having none of it.

"I've been called worse at Bruins and Eagles games, seriously!" I was surprised at how well he was taking it. "The F-word is terrible, yes, but these days, it's just a word stupid men use to describe other guys who threaten their masculinity. I'm not threatened by the guy, not when he can't even stand up to me and look me in the face. Let him live in his ignorance and not know how excited his niece and nephew are about Gigi coming soon."

That was when Ian speaking up. "It's too bad. He's got a good shot at us making him look good as a groom. Well, he's on his own now if he wants to marry you, Sher, he is getting no help from us."

"Or me either." A laugh. "After all that he said last night he'll be lucky to get a pity bunt to first base! Unless he apologizes for everything, including giving up on us before I found out, he's done."

"So...you're OK then? No anger?" I asked the both of them. "I really--"

Devon stilled my apology. "Rory, from what I heard you've been coming out with a slow grace and dignity I admire. Your partner too, she's pretty much Ian up to his focus on getting into Columbia. If that jerk didn't want to understand why you're gay, he does not deserve to know you. He was unprompted in his tirade and there is no fault in you in how you've dealt with these feelings. You did good, and boy am I glad you let me know he was screwing up the TiVo something awful." He looked towards the entertainment console, grabbing the remote to look at the Now Playing screen and immediately cringing in horror. "Are you serious?! Charles Bronson movies and...what on earth? Sher, you need more control over the remote. This thing seriously needs some Charmed on its hard drive, stat!"

Sherrie and I watched in amusement as Devon played with the device, going into the suggestions screen and thumbs-downing a bunch of things I knew we would never watch, but Chris would. Her and Devon felt offended at how many Metallica specials it spit out.

"Oh fercrissakes, this might need to be restarted completely!" he cried. "Thumbs down on the Bruins?! You were gonna marry this guy, Sher?"

"Hey, I didn't know he hated hockey--"

"Oh this is just unforgivable, he thumbs-downed Red Sox Classics on NESN and...what?! The wish-list looks to tape all mentions of the Jets?" Now I was just doubled over in laughter. "You know having Gigi in kelly green would be unforgivable!"

"Thank God Paris is a big Pats fan," I observed to Ian, who nodded knowingly.

"I'm from Buffalo," he said in response. "Our marriage vows also had the declaration I would never cheer for the Bills again. The AFC East is serious business in our house."

"Oww, what about the--"

"Don't even say the 'S' word. Don't even." I laughed, but the smaller man glared. "My parents shipped a...'S' sweater when Bobby was born which went right to the Goodwill."

"Glad he got out then last night when I confessed, wouldn't have been pretty." Once the TiVo had been cleared the four of us had a fun conversation about our lives, and I could tell Sherrie's spirits were much higher than they had been when they arrived.

Soon enough, Sherrie's friends arrived, along with her mother, and once her sister's came in via video chat, everything was under way. I was pretty much to the side as Sherrie was able to celebrate her upcoming birthgiving as Rebecca happily took control of everything for me with much thanks for getting it off the ground. The tree was decorated to the point it was sagging, so much under the tree and gift-wrap and conversation everywhere. My closet departure was only one of a few small topics as Sherrie was caught up to the work water cooler and felt better with her circle around her, including Rebecca volunteering to help her out as her Lamaze buddy for the rest of the pregnancy.

Christopher didn't bother to show up or call, much less apologize during the shower, which I wanted to hope for or expect, but I knew wasn't coming. So I was glad to relax on getting to know my baby sister and a lot of the people I was sure I would know more once I got up to Boston next August. Unlike the Springsteens they gave me a better view of what college life in Boston would actually be like, having all gone through it themselves at places like UMass, Tufts, BU, Harvard and MIT. Rather than tell me about the process, they gave me advice on how to live in the area, which I'm sure Paris and I would be thankful for later on.

As the time grew shorter and I packed what I had brought to Boston, I felt a little sad to go. But I knew Paris was going to be at the end of the line in New Haven, and we had a lot to go through. Soon, I was at the door after Devon brought down my bag to Rebecca's car, Sherrie barely standing as she said her goodbyes, giving me a hug and smiling at me as easy as she could take it.

"Next time you come up here, you're going to have a sister. Hopefully not too long from now. Or...short. Not in the next couple of weeks."

"Not this week," I said confidently. "Take it easy, get in plenty of good food and rest, and don't stress yourself about anything. Paris and I are going to be fine."

"You think I'm going to stress over you two?" A small laugh. "I think your girlfriend would lay into me if I did. The girl is scary!"

I winced; I'm sure Paris would tell her to stay relaxed, without a doubt. "She is. But a good kind of scary. Don't worry, we will be fine." Both of us hugged, and after more goodbyes as the baby shower showed no signs of stopping, Rebecca brought me out to South Station and I caught the 4:10 Acela to New Haven.

Relaxing in my seat, I was finally able to check my phone after keeping it off since I got to Boston. Turning it on a litany of text messages came in, from Lane and Madeline asking how the weekend going, which I answered quickly.  I landed on Paris's texts, which had went dark since her good morning texts yesterday. A couple hours before she had sent me one, and I felt my breath catch as I read it.

R,
You need a better bed. I expect a back massage when you get home. All I can complain abt though.

Love you,
P

Even as I knew Paris was hurting, the connection is still there. So much. As the train pulled out, I tapped out a quick response.

P,
Anything you need. You have been missed. Can't wait to be home w/you.

Truly,
R

Ten minutes later, she responded;

R,
Get home soon.

P

I quickly snap a picture out the window of the disappearing Boston skyline in a blur and send it to her.

On my way. - Your love, Rory

I was counting the minutes until I arrived home, and I couldn't wait to see those brown eyes taking me in again.


Paris's POV, 7:30 pm

This just sucks.

I knew working around my injury was a bitch, but to have to be stuck in the car while I wait for Rory instead of meeting her at the platform with her mom sucked. I knew it had to be done though, or else Lorelai would have to be stuck explaining why I was injured to every single employee in Union Station.

Thankfully it's the middle of December, so I was able to fiddle with the radio knob to get in all the AM stations I can pull in. Soon I had settled on WGN from Chicago, where a friendly female host was talking about gardening and home improvement through the fuzz and static. I sat back in my seat, hoping my hello to Rory would come soon.

My thumbs were worn from texting her through most of the last two hours since she got her phone back on. It's amazing how in 150 or so characters how much you can get to know someone you love. By the end I had even been dropping the signature just so I could respond back in a rat-a-tat manner to her as I sat in the back seat before Lorelai sanely tuned to my favorite classical music station after warbling along to a Christmas song to some 80's group called The Waitresses.

The time was passing too slowly. I brought out some reading I had to memorize for tomorrow as I waited for the Gilmore women to come back. The pills I was taking numbed the pain in my face a little bit, but there was still a lingering hum of stinging along my cheek. I was thankful that my mother at least didn't have good hand strength and hadn't constricted my throat too badly. But it still stuck with me how she had ended up treating my coming out.

The thought depressed me and I tried to draw myself away. The darkness of the moment is going to stick with me for a long time, and what she did, I knew the effects would stay with me for a long time.

I just wanted this to go well, for nobody to be hurt at all. It wasn't to be however, and I know Sharon is hoping that it'll cause a panic attack for the rest of my life each time I remember it.

I can't let that mind float through my mind. I have to push it down, let other thoughts overtake it...

It was then I closed my eyes, just wanting to internalize something to blot out the pain.

Except it somehow turned into sleep. I didn't really dream, and before I knew it I was in my car, out like a light in the back seat as the next show seemed to be a man with a booming voice talking about the latest health news.

I would only know I was sleeping when I felt a sudden rumble against my other shoulder. Out of silence, I heard an echo seem to build up.

"Par...Paris, wake up. I'm here. Wake up, Par."

Slowly I fluttered open my eyes to the sound of that lilting voice, combined with the tone of the door ajar indicator. Drearily I let my eyelids lift to expect the blinding light transition...

"Hey there, Sleeping Beauty." Unexpectedly I felt a soft kiss upon my forehead as my beloved slid into the backseat next to me to the left. I felt my skin heat almost immediately at the contact, my vision adjusting to find Rory sitting next to me after putting her luggage in the trunk.

"R-r-rory." I stumbled over the name I knew so well, my pupils finally able to focus and find the first thing in my visual line were her intensely blue eyes. My body constricted immediately upon the touch of her hand against my arm. "Sorry I fell asleep. I was just tired, I guess."

She nodded. "Don't apologize, it's your car." A little smirk. "Well, technically it's mine too." She bit down on her lip. "Kinda hard to get memories of my virginity loss out, even if the leather's been deep-cleaned since then."

"Oh my God!" Well that had me wide awake! I whispered, feeling flustered. "Rory--"

"She's still getting my last bag in. But come on, I had to mention it." Her hand landed in mind. "I missed you. Too much."

"I...I did too." Remembering the condition I was in, I wanted to turn away. "Doesn't matter though, I look like a wreck." I knew she had probably taken in my injuries while I slept and demurred to what would probably be a less sexual relationship for the next few weeks. "I can't even walk straight right now."

"Paris, don't." Her voice was suddenly firm as she brought herself close, settling herself in the middle seat so she wouldn't have any space between me. "I'm not going to have you begin to put yourself down again."

"But look at me--" I spread out my hands, expecting an argument.

"I am. I am looking at you and I know that even with those god-awful bruises and how you cowered even when I just sat next to you when you were sleeping, you're not a wreck. Far from it."

"Rory." I wanted her to see the reality. "I don't have a mother right now. Don't bring me false sunshine saying it will all be better."

"We will discuss what hole she can crawl back into later." She used her left hand to gingerly guide my gaze towards her, those eyes too irresistible to look away from. "But for now, I am here. Whatever you need, whenever you need it. Circumstance sucks, but you're my Par-Bear, and when someone attacks you, I get protective. I know you wish you weren't like this right now, and when I first saw you, I clenched my fists in anger."

A soft pause as she moved closer. "But just for a moment. Because I'm home. You're in my home. You will be protected, and heaven and earth, you're not even going to let any of this get to you." Her voice was strong, none of the fear or shakiness I thought she would have had upon the first sight of me. "I fell in love with you because of your strong will and the drive you have to make you, I...us, better. Whatever your mom did, what she tried to do to stop us? It was completely ineffective."

She whimpered as the tip of her nose fell against the indent in mine. "You still look beautiful. Vulnerable and wounded, but you still take my breath away. I missed you, yearned for you all weekend, Par. I wanted to explore that library with you and maybe sneak a kiss here and there."

She clasped my hand in hers, and her strong emotions somehow made her freckles stand out even more, blotting my brain with a need to swoon. "I love you, Paris. And you know I would have said that in front of Sharon. And of course, probably been stupid and been Jess-like and stopped her with something that would blight me with a felony record."

OK, that got to me. I let off a little crooked smile, along with a small laugh that didn't stress my larynx. "That would've been stupid, Gilmore."

"God, yeah. I would've lost the right to vote."

"Wait, that's all you're concerned about with a criminal conviction, losing the ability to cast a ballot?"

"It's a pretty darned important thing. It's the only legal way I could possibly get Taylor out of office." A little smile, and I was so far gone. This is me; swooning to Rory Gilmore stating the one thing she would do to nullify one of her basic rights. "I promise you, she's not going to get near you."

I shook my head. "I wish I could believe that." Running a hand through my messy locks, I had to kill the urge to do anything more than kiss Rory, retreating my hands into the deep cuffs of my shirt. "Hey. Can we talk later? When Lorelai isn't around? I've gone through this story too many times and I need a break."

She nodded, feeling a little thrown off. "Oh...yeah. Of course." She looked down at my foot and shuddered. "I still hate that this was done to you."

"At least I'm still here?" I reminded her. "Again--"

"Got it." I hated to close myself off, but as Lorelai got back into the car after getting the luggage in, I cooled down as her and Rory had time to talk as I relaxed against her shoulder, thankful she was back, in the same state, and for now in the same house. I felt thrown off by everything as Rory shared her weekend with her mother at 200 wpm without any interjection on my part. I began to feel myself calm down for the moment, if only because her soft scent was soothing me.

If only that was the only thing.

Despite the freezing temperature outside, she found it fit to unzip her jacket, and the button-down sweater beneath it, a violet-colored one that seemed to also match up well with her eyes and her pale skin. I didn't think anything of it at first, thinking that she probably had a flannel shirt on beneath.

I quickly found out that was not the case as she instead had on a women's shirt with the Bruins logo upon it in their sickly shade of gold. The "B" hub logo between the words "Boston" and "Bruins" seemed to be right where her cleavage split together.

Her exposed cleavage. Which my eyes once she allowed me to rest on her shoulder, could not stop staring at.

My internal clock was reminding me how much I hated the Bruins. That as a Whalers fan still in denial, I hate that smug team from the Hub City. That I was so offended by their moving I decided to support a team from New Jersey.

Fucking Jersey. And yet...

"I know you hate the Bruins," she whispered. "I didn't buy this to make you mad. It's sort of a 'screw you' shirt to my dad for not supporting me. Sherrie's brother gave me money to pick it up at the South Station gift shop, and I couldn't wait until I got home to wear it."

"That's all?" I said, letting a little smile inch across my face. She let her lashes flutter and then brought her mouth close to my ear.

"Well, it also makes my boobs look nice," she said, as I felt my body temperature immediately warm. "Which when your eyes landed on them, proved it was so worth it." She broke away, leaving me all flustered.

Also, a little happy. I took a blatant glance at her goods, feeling a bit like a pervert despite Rory being flattered by the attention. Lorelai seemed to notice and gave a shake in the mirror.

"Girls, behave yourselves back there." Then... "You want more of my renditions of the '80s on 8'?"

Okay, consider the mood killed, I thought with a shake of my head as Rory recoiled in horror at more sing-alongs to my satellite radio. She let out a panicked no and I could tell Lorelai had made her point in the 'cool mom' way that didn't make us feel uncomfortable. I decided to rest on the way home, laying against Rory as she pushed back some hair behind my ear. Before I closed my eyes, she spoke to me, assuring all was well.

"Later then," she promised. I nodded softly and rested, comfortable in Rory's embrace as we headed north towards Stars Hollow.

Already, through only a few shared kisses, I feel much better than I did waking up this morning. I'm blessed to not only have a kind-hearted lover in Rory, but also a good friend, in return.


Rory's POV, 10:00pm

When I got home tonight, I expected to be able to trap myself in my room and talk to Paris over the phone or IM until one of us fell asleep. That's what probably should have happened.

Instead, I'm looking down at her doing her best The Princess and the Pea impression, attempting in some way to get comfortable in some way on the air mattress currently sitting next to my bed. One which we had been assured by the girl at HomeGoods when we stopped there on the way home would be just as comfortable as her cloud bed.

I don't know what their standards are for comfortable, but Paris is definitely not. Having to juggle that with a certain sleeping position so she wasn't in pain wasn't making things easier at all.

By far, she's had a terrible weekend and I wish I could do something to ease her pain, but I'm sure there's not much I can really do than be there for her and keep her calm.

She ate well, a stop at Arby's from earlier keeping her fed as Mom and I called in an order to Luke, which definitely threw him off as I know we never call in an order in advance. But I know Mom; she doesn't want Paris to have to answer the public until she's definitely ready, and by just getting our food right away she didn't have to get out of the car or face any of the town. I gave her a few fries, but I can tell she's just not ready to eat that much yet. I was down all the way home, having to look at my girlfriend in this state and knowing all the flirting in the world cannot make her forget what happened yesterday.

We were back home within an hour and a half as I helped her into the house and she chose to go right into my room, not saying much. I knew there was no room to argue, and after giving her a kiss she headed into the bedroom and began to prepare her space next to my bed to put the air mattress and lay out her luggage in some way. Not asking our help, I was left to sit in the living room with Mom watching Charmed and wondering how to go forward with Paris.

"I want to help her," I told Mom, shaking my head and feeling immense guilt. "I wish I hadn't gone to Boston this weekend. Then I could have picked her up to take her to the Yale library and we would have had safety in numbers."

"Kiddo, you could've done that, but it would've delayed the inevitable," Mom reminded me. "The pictures were known by her and you weren't going to get out of the Manor scot-free. We're just lucky Mrs. Gellar doesn't wield more than a shot glass."

I brushed my hair aside, sighing. "I was just bringing Par out of her shell, Mom. After the Formal mess it was a miracle we resolved it in the same night and became even closer. She defended me over the RTS and confided the accident." My voice rose in tone and emotion, shaking. "I was being careful. I didn't say a word to anyone. Grandma, despite everything, hasn't spilled a word. How could this go so wrong?"

"It's emotion, honey. And the past between them. Sharon resents her daughter for ruining her plan, Paris doesn't want to be her pawn. It results in fireworks and I hate to say it, but I'm glad it came to a head now, early on, rather than later when stakes were involved."

I felt a rush of anger, not feeling the need to deconstruct her phrasing. "You wanted Mrs. Gellar to--"

"NO!" Mom held her hand up strongly. "Absolutely I am not saying that. I'm saying that at least she can come here to heal. I don't want either of you to hurt, but Paris needed to get all of this out to go forward. She knew it wasn't going to be like I was, or even Grandma. This was something she had to do, and I think she was prepared for the possibility of violence. Just not in the way it ended up occurring."

Still, I felt disillusioned, my face still as a I took in the adventures of the Halliwell sisters in front of us. "Do you...do you think we can work from this?"

"Of course, hon." I felt fingers eased upon my back, massaging me in circles. "This certainly isn't the end. She's staying here at least for a week or two, maybe longer. I allowed her in because I knew I couldn't handle her going anywhere else besides here. I had to get her away from Hartford."

"But she has to go back tomorrow--"

"I know. I mean...just away from everything. The questions sure to come. She needed a break from all of that before she faced it all." Mom gave me a solemn smile. "I remember I was just thrown right into the next day, no thanks to the bitchy receptionist in my doctor's office who leaked my test; she was fired immediately by Dr. Reiss, thankfully. Thank God the Courant cut their society column years ago to just events and cotillions and the rich side of town can deal with problems in the same way as the middle and lower classes. But the gossip circle is still going to be vicious when this comes out."

A pause. My face stilled. "You're scared of me going public, aren't you?" A minute of silence, as Mom tried to gather her thoughts.

"Not saying it in those words, but yeah. Rory, people sometimes aren't good. You have to be sure this is something you really do want. To go for this. No matter how deep you love Paris, everyone else doesn't care. They just see two women who don't belong together--"

"Mom?" I was firm, remembering I had finally told her about Dean and Beth after I yelled at Grandma for pounding on the point that I had to be with him. "I felt no malice for Dean and Beth. They're both idiots and deserve each other. If I saw Beth in town this Christmas, in fact, I'd probably just shrug it off, because she's not worth it to fight over something I knew wasn't there."

I found my point. "Sharon Gellar is different. Much different. What she did to Paris is not only unforgivable, but sickening to me. When I heard the details, I swore like a sailor and if she walked in the door right now, I would cold-cock her jaw."

"Rory!" Mom tried to keep me from going forward, but I persisted.

"You taught me to stand up and defend myself. To know when I was truly in love and that it was worth it, and never let anything stop me from any goal I want." I opened up my arms, feeling a deep passion for my words. "The only thoughts on my mind this weekend besides Sherrie and Gigi and you were getting home, back to Paris, back to my girlfriend. I mean, God, I remembered Thursday night and it reminded me how lucky I am! I want her in my life, and I would defend it to the death for her."

With a grimace, I made another declaration taking me far away from how I ever felt with Dean. "Whatever occurs at school, in public, or wherever else, I'm ready, whenever Paris is. I don't want to hide who I am, Mom. I'm not the doormat I was with Dean. I'm an equal with Paris and there's a spark with her I have never felt for anyone else I have loved in a spiritual or sexual manner. I will protect her, no matter what it takes. From her mom, from Francie, herself...whatever. I am not going to waver."

I whispered the last words, strongly and in the same way I mustered up the challenge to take on Paris that first day when we laid down our gauntlets.

"I'm all in." I was grave and direct, making clear that this wasn't going to be the point where I had second thoughts. Trying to understand, I knew Mom was still a bit lost, but this was something we both were doing. We went into it, knowing what the eventual consequences would be. We would get help, I know, but most of this, we had to do on our own.

"If you're sure," she said, grimacing. "This isn't going to be easy."

"Well, I had my formative years in a potting shed," I reminded her, wrapping my arms around my chest. "I think coming from that, I can meet any challenge head-on." I didn't receive a response besides a look which suggested my mother found my strong side a little out there, and we watched the rest of Charmed and on into Alias as I caught up on the remainder of my homework for Monday that I hadn't finished in front of the television laying down on a pillow. Mom and I talked more about the weekend and about Dad, and we knew it would be a long time before we could stand to see him. I also shared the sonogram of Gigi Sherrie had forgotten to give me until just before I left. You could barely make out the form of a child in the black-and-white picture, but she was definitely there, and I couldn't wait to meet her eventually.

I was glad that the weekend, no matter how crappy it was, ended up making Paris and I stronger, and soon I was preparing for bed, eventually heading into the bedroom...

To find her groaning on her airbed, seemingly uncomfortable. She looked very unhappy.

"In what world is this bed comfortable?" she gritted out. "In the world of a store where everything is perfect and nothing ever goes wrong, of course it's perfect. Get it to where you're visiting, you're better off on a Boy Scout cot. Which I do have and have used; my father was in a troop in the 60's and it was acceptable. This isn't."

"Paris--"

"I'm not trying to complain," she said, quickly trying to make sure her complaints weren't mine. "I'm fine sleeping in here. Just, I hate this bed."

"Well we can't go out again tonight. The only other place open is Wal-Mart and I know you'd find that bed worse." Not remembering where I was I took off my shirt unconsciously. "I suppose after school tomorrow we can go somewhere else."

"I miss my bed," she said plaintively. "It's perfect."

"I know it is, but we're in my room and I have the smallest twin bed ever. I'm tall and lanky and you'd be uncomfortable in bed with me." Setting my shirt in the hamper I just began to notice Paris's eyes widen like saucers.

"Who said I was uncomfortable?" she flirted back, her voice suddenly going from annoyed to...how do you describe your girlfriend living with you and suddenly hot for routine? "I know, Ror. You have plenty of room in that bed. You know it, I know it. But the rules mean we share different mattresses."

"What, do you want a bunk bed?" A smile. "I'm sure we can get a bunk bed, but I don't usually do Ikea." It was then I remembered I had taken off my shirt in front of her. "Oh God...I don't usually take off my shirt like that either!" I was wearing my most worn casual bra. "Darn it, Paris, you could've reminded me!"

"I forgot too," she admitted, though her voice suggested it was less forgetfulness, more editing out certain details. "Well?"

"Well, what?"

"Aren't you going to take off your bra? You can't sleep well in one. I certainly can't."

I scoffed, grabbing a pair of purple flannel pajamas from my dresser. "I'm going to the bathroom to change. You need to behave." I threw on the top to quickly button it up. "I know you're intending to distract me, but all my homework is done, so nice try on that."

"Distract?" A shake of her head, and there's that darned smile she always gives me to throw me off her game. "If I wanted to distract you, I could easily do so. I'm currently providing you mercy by not being distracting."

"You're in my room. That is very distracting," I argued.

"I'm safely behind my Harvard sweatshirt though. Distractions neutered." A smirk. "Makes up for the bed being uncomfortable."

I rolled my eyes. "You're like this and still turning me on! What the hell?" Frustrated I headed out the door. "There's a comforter in my closet. It might add on another layer to make you feel more comfortable."

"Wait." I came to a halt as I took the doorknob, surprised from her sudden change in moods. I turned to face her, spread out a little.

She bit her lower lip as I came down to her level. "I didn't mean to complain about the bed. Or fluster you. I haven't really done this before."

"Lived with me? If I remember we spent two months in the same room."

"Yeah...not knowing how we felt about each other," she reminded me. "It was easy to desexualize each other. We had our own corners, we came to our own rules quietly without argument. There was no thought to how our nudity would affect each other or that we had a spark of attraction. Back then it just didn't work out. So this is all new, no matter how you slice it."

"And?" She gave me a guilty stare, taking in a deep breath and letting it out as her eyes looked down.

"And...I wanted our time living together to start at Harvard. Unsupervised, and unclothed. Not...like this, with my lower body in pieces and a nearly busted larynx. I don't want to be here to be sheltered, but out of love."

"Paris, you know you're here because of love," I argued. "I'm letting you stay in my room because of how much I love you. Please...don't feel like you're being a rude houseguest because of the circumstances." I could tell how much she was hurting, and the sadness she felt for throwing me off my routine by her presence. "You are very far from that and--"

"Rory?" A stilted pause. "We can still...change things. I don't have to be here and..." She rubbed at her hand against the fitted sheet over the air mattress. "I'm not saying I want to end things, just..."

"Paris!" I raised my hands up, and my voice, surprising even myself. "We could have done nothing to stop Sharon. Even if we had seen that PI we could not have connected him to her rather easily. This was going to happen, and I'm going to have to live every day of my life now wondering why I wasn't there to protect you. I've had dark thoughts of your mother all weekend. What I could do to her. For God's sake, if I do see her in my driveway I'd probably have Mom start the 911 call by asking for two police cars! Because that's what would end up happening, I'd be arrested by the police for beating the daylights out of Sharon!"

She shook her head. "Rory--"

"My love for you is now beyond what I would've ever thought it would be for Dean. It took me months to even say I loved him, or to have him be in my room unsupervised. You're here now and we've run the bases a few times, confessed our love and are pretty much roommates now, Sam and Brooke style, along with definitely not unresolved sexual tension. In my head right now is not Sharon Gellar, your mother. It's Sharon Gellar, the unrepentant bitch who has now tried to kill you. Twice!"

She reeled back from the use of the word, and I could tell I had done something to her. Good or bad, I didn't know. My voice had raised up to a level I didn't even use in a debate.

In fact the last time it had gone that high was when we had the argument that climaxed with the 'Mary Stone' crack.

Remember that, in October? It seems like eons ago now.

She took a couple minutes. We just sat there, looking at each other, wincing that I had actually said what I had meant to keep to myself. That I would die for her.

Me, the girl who can barely boil water or defend herself outside a debate situation. Slowly, Paris gathered her words and with a shrug that slipped the right side of the sweatshirt slightly to bare her shoulder, she went forward.

"You want me to stay then." I nodded, and I could tell she was nearly at the point of tears. "Stay here, live with you."

"For all the time you need," I assured her. "After the paper and before Birnbaum we can go back to HomeGoods--"

She moved closer, her voice a whisper. "No, you don't understand. I don't want to be a camper in your own room." She winced as she moved her leg slightly. "I...I talked about you when I went to the doctor today."

"OK." I didn't know what to say.

"She knows I am...girl-inclined. And my doctor thought I didn't need birth control any longer. But...but I do. Not because I might get a boyfriend. I...I know that won't happen, no matter how my mother prays the gay away. I'm--"

"--On a horrible cycle," I said, breaking her confession. "Irregular doesn't begin to describe it. When we were in the pits last year around Rebuilding Together and Madeline had to get lunch for everyone at Subway I gave her a ride because her brother brought her to the site. We did talk, don't get mad."

She shook her head, and I knew she wouldn't get pissed about something a year and a half in the rear-view. "We...we talked about you. Why you are who you are. We didn't know about the accident, but for some stupid reason I regret to this day, I joked that you were on a permanent bout of PMS." I could feel her cringe, but I persisted. "She yelled at me for even saying that and that's when I learned...God." I brushed hair back. "Is it really true your dad had to buy your feminine supplies? Because Sharon refused even as...as..." She was crying. "You have terrible ones, don't you?"

Paris nodded, whimpering as I now knew why my regiment of birth control was much weaker than hers. "I...I..." She squeaked through the anguish. "It just...hurts. So much. And the pain. My mom told me to suck it up but...I found out down the line if I just lived with it, I might end up losing my fertility in the end. That's why I never really jumped on any opportunity with Tristan, to tell you the truth. I could have pretty much had him freshman year, but behind all the terrible menstrual pain I felt and heavy bleeding? I couldn't weigh him down with that."

"Along with not feeling a full attraction to him."

"That too." She shook her head. "It took me until just about you came to get my regimen just right. Eventually I know if I go off it I know it'll get better. But I know it was Sharon. That even if they could look at her all the time, she snuck in some hard liquor here and there during the pregnancy. I came out as OK as can be expected, but otherwise there is some stuff that throws me off. Even when I found things right, as you said, I still have a harsh shyness about me."

"Along with a hard time welcoming compliments," I mentioned matter-of-factly. "But they're better now?"

"There's a few times I still feel off. But what I'm on, I'm much better now." She quietly looked up. "I really am sorry about that entire situation. Shutting you out from Madeline over my going bi-polar on you--"

"No, you're not!" I scoffed. "You're a little thrown off at times, but you certainly are not bi-polar. You're...Paris. I wouldn't want you any other way. It adds to the challenge that is being your girlfriend."

"My moods are a challenge?" Finally, I got out the smallest of smiles from her. "I guess it's true though. You kept pushing me and pushing me until I couldn't help but fall in love with you." She moved closer to me, as much as she could with her bum leg. "You know what else kept me charged through the summer in Washington?"

"My Pollyanna demeanor and hope for the future of this nation?" I answered, knowing it drove her up a wall when I got along with Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao when we met despite my hate of her party. She clutched a pen, effortlessly spinning it around with her fingers like a baton.

"The trip in mid-July to the National Zoo." I was lost for a moment as to why she mentioned it. "We were able to sneak off from the group and spend a little more time than they wanted us to in the Asian exhibit, especially around the panda exhibit. I was one for sticking to the rules, but damn it, Gilmore, I didn't want to lose you and end up having you disappear on me." Her little dip in emotion was coming back to an ebb. "And we just sat at the rail, staring into the enclosure, at those wonderful creatures, together, just talking."

"It was nice," I recalled. "You were very nice that day. Even a little open, talking about your younger days at Chilton."

"How I broke the hearts of the boys in first grade." She looked down at her fingers with a blush continuing to spin the pen. "My Valentine's Day, where I refused to participate and make one of those envelope folders to get valentines inside. When my nanny insisted I go in with these braids decorated with little hearts in the rubber bands and how I hated them. Even then, Francie being a little witch and giving me a passive-aggressive message in her card to me. It's interesting." She looked up. "But the reason I bring up the Zoo, is because of what you wore."

I suddenly froze, as the next few words were completely expected, her tongue clicking them out with zeal.

"Or rather, what you did not wear."

Oh God, she did actually notice! She did? Paris Eustace Gellar, you little pervert! I saw her gaze suddenly bump down towards my pajama shirt and on reflex I closed my arms around my chest.

"I...it was laundry day!" I argued. "Or near it!"

"You could have still worn a bra, or at the very least one of those tank tops you have with the shelf in it."

I cringed. "All of them were soaked from sweat! I couldn't stand another day in them before I could get to the washer. You don't want to spend a day at the zoo basking in your own perspiration, especially on a 95░ day!" She was laughing quietly. "I didn't know you looked!"

"Everyone was looking." She smiled at me. "You stick out like a sore thumb braless, Ror, and you know it! That's why you love taking the uniform shirt off at the end of the day. You were trying to lure me in there already, even if you didn't know." Now I was flustered deeply as she went on. "Also, that blue sundress? Really didn't hide your whites that well...or was it rose-patterned?"

I was really hoping Mom was far away, in another room. Or Metropolitan Statistical Area. I felt flattered, but also began to shift around as I felt a twinge below my stomach. "Whatever makes you happier there."

"Oh, I was very happy. Especially with the plumbing. That removable showerhead in the dorm really helped cool my fire through the summer."

Okay...fight fire with fire. Knowing now that both of us used that showerhead to more than...shower, that added on another dimension. I redirected quickly.

"Well...those nightgowns you wore didn't really hide that much!" I argued. She just shook her head, moving closer. "They didn't. And when you bent down to grab something from my desk--"

"I sleep naked, Gilmore," she reminded me. "Of course I didn't wear anything under my gowns. It's merely a modesty layer."

"So when we did the Puffs, you were?" A raised eyebrow, confirming my suspicion.

My legs turned to jelly as she came even closer, the damned sweatshirt blatantly baring her very sexy shoulder. Here she was, her face bruised on one side, her leg terribly bruised and toes nearly fractured...and I was still way more turned on than I should've been. "But you had to know."

"Doesn't matter. Not like anyone was about to lift it or anything, I just feel more comfortable in nightwear without." She let the pen drop to take my hand.

"And right now?" My tone was very shy, like I was still learning how to kiss with Dean.

At that moment, she had the sexiest smile as she lowered my hand to...

"What do you think?"

Yes, my hand was moving where you think it was. Along her stomach and...clearly beneath her silk sleep pants, no sign of underwear.

"I think..." A pause, remembering why she was in my house in the first place. "I think you're forgetting that you are injured, and that I don't want to hurt you any further."

"Dr. Merton says as long as you're not weighing on my whole leg or foot, no problem." She was making it hard to resist. "I know you want it, Gilmore." Still wearing my jeans I felt fingers sliding along the seam where I didn't need them to. "I might be a little wounded, but I am not going to let that stop me." Her index finger dipped in closer. "You're right. I can't let my mother stop us. She won't. And I refuse to let her, or your father, even attempt to halt our momentum."

Oh God...she was on her own roll. My 'all in' speech was bringing her into the same state of mind. Her voice barely echoed through the room, but there she was, the Paris who turned me into a sexual animal.

Thirty-six hours after the worst moment of her life, she was still ready...for me. Everything be damned. I could feel her curls between my fingers. Her mound, glistening with need.

Emotionally and sexually, none of what happened this weekend, despite the hurt she felt physically, and I did emotionally, had taken this relationship down one single level. I whimpered at the realization that this was stronger than I had ever expected.

Last night, I was spitting in anger over what Sharon had done to Paris.

Now, I was with her, giving her all the comfort she needed, and even as she was on a regimen of pain pills and bruising along her neck and cheek, she wasn't letting anything stop her. I let my eyes fall to her, taking in slow and deep breaths. Her eyes, so deep, so needy of me, full of love. Either she had the best pain pills of all time or she was just healing from my love alone.

I decided to see how far she really was going to go with this. Slowly I withdrew my fingers, lingering them along her stomach.

"You do realize this is a school night," I said softly. "So we have to be in bed soon. Separately."

I thought the mere mention of school would cool Par down. Make her see the reality of what she was instigating.

She took my wrist, brushing her fingers against it as she made clear despite the hasty arrangements of the weekend and her emotions, that she felt something for me I wasn't sure could be dealt with via a goodnight kiss.

Looking towards the door she heard Lorelai doing some things in there. She let go of my wrist and brought herself closer.

"I can get by on as much as three hours sleep," she proclaimed haughtily. "Ever since we picked you up in New Haven I wanted to do nothing more than ravish you." I could sense her scent strong in my nostrils. "When I know the coast is clear...I'm crawling in with you."

My eyes widened. My heart beat picked up steam, and my legs clenched up tightly. My inner vixen wanted this....bad. To make Paris feel better, even if only sexually. With my mouth drying, I tried to excuse it off.

"And if my mom happens to check on us later tonight?"

She shook her head, and knew exactly how to excuse my excuse. "The bed is leaky, Rory. I'll need all the support I can get." Cue at that exact moment, her eyebrows doing a light wag and bringing down a blatant look at my chest. "Remember after Thanksgiving? I swear, I'm addicted to you. I won't let things like a throbbing foot or some pesky door rule stop me." Her gaze was heated...

I knew it. I was not going to leave her dry. She needed me in order to be sane. My body was on such a tight thread in that moment I knew that I needed her too. To calm her, and myself from what we went through.

To remember that our love is why I'm going through all of this upheaval in the first place.

I know how this night is going to end, and it isn't both of us asleep in some kind of slumber party situation. The only way we were going to end up in Dreamland tonight was via sexual exhaustion.

Whatever is happening to my mind, I don't want to stop it. I give her a look.

Then a smile. And then...

"One condition. You are wearing underwear after we're done, and pants," I told her directly. "I'm not going to have my mom wake us up with my fingers inside of you because you decided to give me morning glory sleep sex."

She shook her head. "No underwear. I never sleep with panties on. Pants I can do, but the underwear is non-negotiable."

"But I--"

"I can't help it if I'm so damned cuddly," she asserted with swagger, letting the secret smile out.

Fuck, I cursed to myself. She knows I can't resist the smile!

"When we were at the Manor--"

"I did, but that was different. We were still under the rules, but not only that I was getting ready for bed before I stripped down for the night," she argued succulently. "Everything changed at the pond that morning. We've been physical at school. In the car. Even here, on your bed. And I can tell right now. I can really tell. You wish you were out of that shirt."

She had me there. All flustered, I knew it was true. "I do." Sighing, I knew I was sweating in the flannel material. "Alright...as I said before you corrupted me..." I nervously laughed. "I'm changing the rest in the bathroom and putting on a tank top beneath. When the all-clear occurs I'll have you tug at a shirt or something like that to get my attention." I looked at her in concern. "You can get on the bed, right? If you need help--"

"I will be fine. Just have to take it slowly. Thankfully she went with petulant foot-stomping over Kerrigan'ing me." My eyes widened at how casual she was taking her injury, and she could tell it was a bit too much. "That is, I wish she hadn't attacked me at all."

"She shouldn't have even touched you," I said strongly, grabbing one of the tops I knew wouldn't hide anything at all. "And she won't either if I have anything to say about it." Strongly standing I smiled at her. "Talk soon?" She nodded back and we said goodbye for that moment. I quickly changed into the tank and put my pajamas on over it, shaking my head at the image looking back at me in the mirror.

I used to feel weak in so many ways, unwilling to stand up for myself before I went into Chilton. I'd be the first out in dodgeball at Stars Hollow High; the other team didn't care that I was in the back of the gym behind everyone else, and completely ignored the rule against hitting me in the head with the ball. I would be the first out, no doubt.

I never liked to speak up. Defy authority or do the 'wrong' thing in the eyes of society.

Tonight though, I feel a little more assertive of myself. Willing to see this through with Paris, and at the same time, no longer take any crap from anybody. I knew I had to be strong for her and to show I wasn't going to back down.

I do have amazing strength. As I snap the last button closed, I stride out of the bathroom, wondering what exactly would happen when Paris hopped into bed. As I come out, I look in the living room to see Mom cleaning up before she heads upstairs, and I go in to tell her good night.

Something's different though. Much different. As I hug and kiss her goodnight, I pretty much expect a reminder of the rules we have to live by. Door open, no lights on, be quiet, all of that.

But then she pauses and gives me a serious look. In my mother's eyes, I see natural concern.

There's something else though.

An understanding. Between us, there now seems to be something unwritten that we can't voice out. And before I leave...

"Rory?"

I nod.

"Yeah."

She looks towards the door.

"I have locked the door and hid the turtle," she explained, hoping to be guarded. "Harold called a few minutes ago. Please don't alarm her, but Sharon...." Wandering off, I knew exactly what was going on.

She was out. "Mr. Gellar and Madeline have told nobody she's here. We want it to stay that way. But just in case, I do want you to lock your bedroom door."

I had never been told that before. I knew my lock worked, but very rarely needed to use it. Full of concern, I nodded as I let out a silent prayer that we could sleep without incident this evening.

"Tell her if you would like, but if you feel--"

"Mom, I have to. We don't keep secrets from each other," I emphasize. "I promise you, we will be fine." I prepare to turn away...

"Honey?" I turn back.

"Hmm?"

"If Paris gets scared and she does have to go in your bed?" My eyes pop up and I wonder if she's going to complete the sentence with an allusion to sleeping on the couch.

But then, Mom takes me by surprise. My own mother, who we hashed out these rules with, tells me what to do next.

"Protect her any way you can, and..." she then finishes with a flourish.

"Behave yourselves." A nod. "Goodnight, kiddo." She goes back to sorting the magazines on the table, and I...I...

I don't even know what to think anymore, except I left this weekend a girl excited to see her daddy, and somehow returned a woman protecting her girlfriend.

Maybe this is exactly what I needed. The swift kick in the butt that gets me out of my fantasy world where all is well, I'm valedictorian and Dean will be having my 2.5 kids.

Except it's certainly not that. I'm going back in my bedroom, and Paris is in there, waiting for me.

All I'm thinking right now?

I hope we make it to tomorrow morning.


Paris's POV, 11:45pm

By far, I am going to undersleep. I will not get the eight hours of sleep I require, or the seven I need at minimum to function. I may even need to actually acknowledge a snooze button for once.

But this has not been the most usual of weekends. I'm under a weight of wondering if my mother is going to find out where I am. What's going to happen at school tomorrow, how I'm going to shield this injury for the last week before the winter break.

Most of all though is the question of whether I can continue to maintain a neutral fašade as to the nature of my relationship with Rory to the outside world. So far I've been able to keep it very quiet, contained in the family.

But with the way Rory has been to me this weekend, it has been about the best thing I have ever manage to acquire.

She has been treating me with kid gloves, caring for me at every single turn possible. Giving me this kind of nice sleeping pill that isn't like my prescription one, but is still pretty effective, an over-the-counter product Sookie bought for her at Costco which is actually more perfect for what I need than forming a nasty Lunesta habit.

And then there's this. I buy this air bed at HomeGoods for $200, one I think will be at least comfortable once it leaves the box and carry case.

That packaging turns out to be a lie. It's like sleeping on the raft I have in the pool at the Manor, but much less fun and comfortable. At least there, you can see needing an air raft, and it's very nice.

That bed though? No...God no. It's not my bed. My bed fits me. My bed knows me, it has my groove within it. My sheets and blankets. This thing? I'd rather sleep on straw or a beanbag chair. It's terrible. Every movement causes a air rushing noise in the mattress. The pump is very loud to inflate it.

I expected an all-night sleep with the door wide open. But then she came in and clicked the lock before explaining why. She went on for a little bit, and although it was a little shocking to know Sharon was headed to a friend's house for the time being to sleep...

Honestly all I knew was the door was locked. I looked at the knob and I knew, we were definitely going to follow through on my flirting from earlier.

Except I was honest to God tired from the day, being poked and prodded at Dr. Merton's office and having to be driven everywhere in the middle part of the state to get what we needed done. I was exhausted, and I did have to make some effort to try to get some sleep to start out with. In the time Rory spent out of the room I closed my eyes, actually attempting to rest after the book I read tired me out.

Rory eventually came back into the room and I heard her with my eyes closed. I heard her pout about me being asleep, but I figured that she was fine with it in the end.

"Hopefully you get used to the bed," she said, thinking I was asleep, before laying a kiss on my temple. I heard her ruffle the covers on her bed, then click off the light.

"Good night Par. Pleasant dreams." A little more ruffling of the bed and my thinking was that our night was now closed. Surely nothing more would happen and I would be able to get my sleep without any distractions...

Only the bed remained very uncomfortable. Even letting out some air to soften it had not helped in any way. I had my pillows, and I was in one of my more comfortable sleeping outfits. Yet, it was proving uncomfortable to get to bed.

The last thing I wanted to do was be an ungracious guest in Rory's home. I refused to complain about my bed farther than I already had. I needed to get to sleep, without complaint.

It just wasn't happening, though. Reminders of yesterday kept filling my mind. The moment I felt her hands clamp around my top, trying to wring the life from me. The slap and the stomp, I could still feel it.

That I could deal with; I could just shield the pain away. Twenty minutes after closing my eyes, I could deal with that. I know I could.

But the hateful words continued to echo. To hurt.

To make me bleed. I could feel the blood rush in my veins, desperate to get out of my circulatory system. To be rid of me.

That night she was drunk, she wanted to kill me. To see me bleed to death. It's then my memories rush through of the accident.

I had suppressed them all these years. Been able to stop them. The only way Dr. B was able to get the accident from me in the first place was rare flashes provided by my father that he recalled from my dreams.

The sleep-talking I have. It began with the accident. Before I hadn't. But during a night where my father wanted to find out why I was so cold and withdrawn, he had taken me to the hospital to be wired up as I slept to find out why.

That's when we found out. My graphs were off the charts at times as far as brain activity. During my stage 4 and REM stage I still had brain activity more associated with lower stages.

The memories of my accident rarely played out.

Now? I was awake. Somehow, my mind had found another memory. Of a few days before, when Daddy had left. I was playing Mario 2 with Louise in the media room, on the ice level. Both of us couldn't take our focus off the game. But then, I remembered it.

How, why, now? I don't know. But I concentrated on the sounds and the music of the game at the time, trying to get past some snow enemy as the Princess floated past them, only to hit some enemy on a robotic vehicle.

I heard Mother on the phone, in the other room. Probably chatting with one of her friends.

At the time, I knew nothing of death, much less crime. I had a Teddy Ruxpin taken from me once, but since it was annoying anyways I brushed it off.

Now, the moment was echoing through my brain...

"Yes," she said into the phone. "Uh huh. Yeah." I looked in the other room while Louise took her turn with Luigi. My mother sat on the ottoman, holding a glass of sparkling wine in her left hand, a cordless phone with an absurdly long antenna stretched out in her right hand. One eye was to the screen. My ear was to my mother; somehow I heard her.

"Yes. I would like you to authorize Paris's life insurance plan to be upped a half. You have the paperwork? Wonderful, then we are all set. Thank you."

Again, four years old. I assumed from what my dad said about insurance was that it was reserved when something 'really, really bad' happened to someone.

But then, there was another call. I was now in control of the game as that call was made. Before, it didn't seem unusual.

I heard her dial out the numbers on. As I navigated the Princess towards the mushroom and the bonus slot machine coins, I held my concentration on that. A few minutes pass, and she's asking boring adult questions.

"So, I have good collision, Paul? Really, that much?" I was getting to the toughest part of the level now.

"And theoretically, if she was in the car, what would be the damages that would be claimed?" As I maneuvered towards the boss of the level, one ear to the conversation, another to the game. "Thank you Paul, you have been of most help." She hung up the call and then makes another.

"Yes...yes. I know that will happen when you're over. Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. I just move to one side once I make the turn. I doubt that will happen, Fred; there is no airbag on that side of the car. If it happens, it would be a miracle."

I go on...

"She's fragile enough; this will surely show him that it was a bad idea. Once the payoff comes I will run off to the Turks. Oh, I'm sure. Even with the belt it won't work, she'll be thrown into the windshield because she's undersized."

No...nooo. Brain, stop this! I demanded, to no avail.

"I promise you, when this is all done, I'm out of here. If not for that sniveling little bitch I could have broken it off with him once the payoff came, or he hadn't noticed me sick. I could've taken care of it if he didn't know."

My heartbeat quickened...

"I know, I didn't want her! I can't foist her off now, but now she can be my ticket outta here. It's foolproof; even if I am drunk they'll still award treble based on her in the car and some safety issues with the car. I claim spousal abuse, get that money and that's it."

"Paris? Paris?" Louise is trying to get my attention.

"Huh?"

"You're down to one dot."

"One dot?" I bring my attention to the screen...one more hit and I'm dead. "Oh!" I move out of the way of the enemy that was trying to hit me. I have no idea what my mother's talking about. Or who she's talking about.

Back in the present day, I know.

Fuck, do I ever know. Inside of my head, I remember the bare facts.

Fred was a friend my mother saw a lot when I was younger. He was claimed to be her personal assistant, but had left just after the accident happened. He never came to see me even though he was a big part of my life being by my mother's side for financial matters.

Except another bit of the accident came into play. In the aftermath, I'm bleary and bruised beyond belief. My ears are ringing from my head hitting the dash head-on. I can barely see. Yet...

"No, she's still moving. She is! Dammit, I...right angle. All...her side and I...she has cuts and...hurt...I can't, Fred...Can't...fingerprints...faking asleep now...strong narcotics. She should've!"

No...this really cannot be what it was like. I feel dazed. Now I see myself just after surgery, in a daze.

"That you would do this...Sharon. I am unbelievably angry right now." I turn my head, my eyes in a slight slit, the only movement I can muster without a major headache occurring. My head pounds as I feel a ringing in my ears. "You have four staff who can take you to the store at any time, but you should not have gone there in the first place! Or taken Par--"

"Shut up, Harold! I told you I'm sorry--"

"Our daughter is nearly in a coma because of your irresponsibility! She's lucky she's still alive at this point. I thought you were going to sober up!" I heard my father speak in an enraged tone I knew he never used. "She could have died while I was halfway over the Atlantic."

"Well she's OK now--"

"She is not! It'll be a miracle if she gets back to how she was before the accident." I heard a foot stomp. "I only let you in here because I thought you were truly sorry about your actions. That you not only didn't tell me about the accident, let me go on with a life for two days I could care less about right now while Paris was fighting for her life, and manipulated me into bailing you out before I knew the circumstances..." A pause. "Get out, Sharon."

"She is my daughter!"

"A daughter you almost killed! When you physically abuse her, it hurts me deep. But this? Crashing a car drunk? You may as well have cut apart my artery and let me bleed out. Go...get some painkillers or something. I don't care. I can't look at you right now."

"Fuck you. I didn't harm her," she insisted. I heard footsteps out the door. Then I felt a big strong hand over mine as the seat creaked next to my bed.

"I apologize if you heard any of that," he said, his voice back to a bare whisper. "Sweet Pea, what she did, it was not right at all. And when you grow up, and I know you will, please...please don't be your mother."

Not understanding at all, he began to cry. "Stay with me, Par. I--I promise you I will never let her harm you...again. I should have been here. I should have at least called, but I was tired. It...was late in Moscow, and you know the Soviets with their tin can phone network. I...I can only say I'm sorry."

Even if I couldn't move or speak, I knew he was sorry. There's not much he could have done from Moscow, everyone knew that.

At that moment my heart had to be at 150 beats per minute. Another recall from a few days later...

The private guard at my door had taken a break, leaving Mother to come in unscathed. I was fluttering between rest and consciousness, numb from who knows how many drugs helping me not feel my broken body. She had managed to bribe a na´ve nurse to get in my hospital room while my father had to stop at work.

I could smell her...her hazy scent. A mix of some overpowering perfume and alcohol. She sat next to me.

"Well I can't believe it," she bellowed. "Dr. Merton told me your lung capacity remained near normal even after how hard you slammed into the dashboard. How the fuck?"

OK, now I was waking up. But there was no way I was cluing her onto that. I could barely hear the theme to the Beverly Hills Teens playing on Channel 20; an insipid cartoon to be sure (even now the peppy theme song plagues my head like no other) but it kept me occupied.

"I know I could've gotten off. That even if it was my second incident the child seat laws ain't in force. I'd be able to make up some shit. But no. You had to live. To make me see another day with you. And I had no chance to get near your breathing machine."

I heard her come close. The memory is foggy, but I know somehow even if I forget this, the effect will be remembered and irrevocably change how I relate to my mother.

"You better not fuck up again, Par. One day, you won't have your precious daddy or nanny to stop me. I will make you suffer somehow. You were not supposed to be. I married Daddy because I knew he didn't like kids. But you had to show up out of the blue. Fuck things up for me. Blow away ten million of the inheritance when he eventually kicks it. One day you're going to be unprotected. You won't have anywhere to run to. And when you are..."

I then heard the sound of a 'slash' as she dragged a sharp fingernail across her neck.

Before I realized it, I had let out the most primal scream my lungs could muster.

I was awake. In a cold sweat.

Apparently, I had also done something to the airbed, as I was flat on the ground. I screamed again. And again.

"PARIS!" I looked up to see Rory's eyes blazing in the near-darkness of the bedroom. "Par, what the hell?"

"FUCK!" I began weeping opening. "Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck...no...obviously my mind is creating constructs of fiction to explain my reality." Before I even knew it she was flopped down on the floor with me and took my hand. "It's not real, it is not."

I really did expect Rory to ask what was wrong. She looked at me, full of deep concern.

"Paris, the reaction wasn't to being woken," she hurriedly explained, her voice wracked with what seemed to be a mix of anger and pain. "Oh my God."

"Rory--"

"You really do need to talk to Dr. Birnbaum," she said. "And I mean a deep talk." I felt her hand in mine as she got as close to me as possible. "My Par-Bear...shit."

"Rory, I--"

"I'm no therapist, but I heard you sleep-talking," she explained. "You relived the accident in more detail. I really don't think it's a mental construct."

"It can't be. Rory, it can't--"

"You violently thrashed in bed. Even with your nails you dug into the vinyl of your bed...it's busted." She pointed to the place where I managed to damage the mattress, a tear in the fitted sheet made by my pulling at it too hard. "I saw nearly everything. I just fell asleep when you talked about insurance and from there...it's been about a half-hour of this." My lungs were in pain, and I could barely breathe. "Crying for your father, calling for your mom to get away from you."

She moved closer, and I could see her in so much pain. "Deep breaths. Deep, deep breaths. You're hurting and I don't want to have to bring you to the ER tonight."

I shook my head, a mess. "It was so real. She wants me to die, Rory. She wants me to die!"

"You aren't," she said with a cocky confidence only known by me with Tristan in the past. "She's going to die young and you'll be here a long time. With me loving you. Breathe...breathe..." She set her hand on my stomach. "Don't let that bitch get to you. She's wrong. She has been wrong. I would have a large void in my life if you had died that day. And if you had died yesterday, God forbid..."

I could tell she was barely holding it in. "I swear to God I would have made a completely selfish decision. I know it's fucking stupid to say this and you'd slap me silly for--"

I didn't even want to hear it. "Don't say it," I wrenched out. "Do not, Gilmore. No love is worth a terrible redux of Romeo & Juliet. Or one of those god-awful lesbian straight-to-DVD soft-core dramas written by a Holyoke reject with a $589 budget."

"They...have those kinds of films?"

I was able to smile at least a little bit. "Too many. You'd think in 2003 they'd be able to write a cheap movie." I began to take long and calming breaths. "I broke a bed. Most intense dream ever and..." I looked at the damage. Sheets all over the place and I'm sure I probably tore it in another couple places. "I'm not OK. I'm mental here and..." I mussed with my face, wanting to hide behind my hair. "God, when I tell Dr. Birnbaum she's gonna drug me up."

"No...no she isn't," Rory assured me. "You didn't do this in our time in Washington." She moved a little more, giving me a kiss and then resting her forehead against mine. "We've had an emotional two weeks. You spilled the beans about this to me, and your mind is seeing that the pause is off. That you can now vent. You're with me, so as far as the world knows, this didn't happen. We've had deeply emotional coming outs." She held my wrists. "You almost saw the white light. But you're still here. You're still my fighter, the toughest woman I know, the Queen Bitch of Chilton. And it's gonna stay that way if I have everything to say about it."

"I don't want to die," I said, feeling petulant. "I really don't."

"I wouldn't let you." Rory moved closer. "For one thing, The Plan and Harvard are screwed beyond belief with your passing. Chilton is your domain, we can't let it fall prey to Francie, now can we?"

I shook my head. "Oh God, no. She'd probably add stripper fishnets to the uniform."

"Your mom isn't here. She will never be here. If she shows up anywhere near the city limits and I hear of it, she'd have to get past me, I swear to God." Her voice was hoarse, but somehow sexier than her usual girly squeal. "Any woman who would ever try to kill their child? They are going nowhere near the people I love. And I'm sure Lorelai would say the same thing."

"You really mean that," I said, still and in shock. "You would take her on."

A simple nod. "What she did in the past, two days ago, the future? I am more than your best friend, and this love is something she can't do anything to stop. I promise you that my blood will spill before hers."

My eyes turned dark as I felt a chill in my spine from the threat Rory just made to protect me. "Lorelai Leigh Gilmore." I felt the air rush from my lungs. "Don't make that kind of promise."

"Too late," she said gravely, as if she was giving me that cold stare Lisa Rowe had in Girl, Interrupted. "Dorothy killed two witches. Cinderella fucked over her stepmother, shit Disney sequels be damned. Rapunzel abandoned her captor. I swear to God she will not get past me."

I was on ice. "You really mean it, do you? If anyone gets in my way, they're going down."

"Not even a thought at all. You are my girl, Paris. I'm not letting anyone get in the way of our love."

Slowly, we began to settle down. Even as the time ticked down I knew there was a sexual undercurrent to the aftermath of the dream. How Lorelai did not hear my scream is a mystery, but all I could dwell on in that moment was that a moment of fear and terror was shot down by Rory's love for me.

My heart was balmed. A half-hour before, I was scared to move and tore a bed. Rory began to calm, letting her vocabulary return to child-friendly territory as we talked over the ramifications of the dream.

Also, she had tossed off her pajama shirt well before she comforted me, leaving her in the tank top beneath. I was thankful that I was distracted, because when she's both comforting and angry, she kind of pops out.

I keep forgetting that her body visually turns itself on at the drop of a hat.

Damn it. I was still all shaken from her dream, wounded as hell and on a bed that I tore apart on the first night, and still turned on?

Of course on of all things, a school night. I looked up at the clock, reading 11:11. Some 'wish time' Madeline keeps talking about. It's Madeline, of course, but she's been the one giving out the best advice lately.

I look at it, and then towards Rory, who looks at the wreckage of my attempt to sleep in a bed that came in a bag. She quirks her eyebrow.

"So...we have to be up by 6:15. We should try to get to bed...except this one isn't a bed any longer. More of a tarp."

I looked down. "You wouldn't happen to have any duct tape around, would you?" The negative headshake suggested that even Scotch tape would be hard to come by in this household.

"Bert has duct tape."

"Huh?"

"That's what Mom calls Luke's toolbox."

"Which isn't here, so that doesn't help us out, does it?"

"It does not." Now we were looking at each other after hashing out the dream, wondering where to go next.

I made a wish on the 11:11 I wasn't sure would be fulfilled. Mainly because at this point it would be crazy.

"You have a cot? Uhh, I'm trying to think...anything?"

"There's a child-sized mattress in the attic I used when I was younger, but it has a hole in it. That's about it."

Finally, she acknowledged what was probably the only choice. "Par, I know you're being chivalrous, but my bed--"

"We really can't avoid it, can we?" I let out a long breath, my eyes wandering where they shouldn't. "My foot isn't doing too well anyways." I looked down at the bared and bandaged appendage, which still hurts to look at. "Hope you don't mind sleeping on the right so I can have some support."

"I'm game. Left, right, up or down. I can sleep anywhere." Rory stood up with a wide smile as she began to help me up as I got on my right foot first in the hope I could wobble my way onto the bed. She took my left hand to support me. "Careful, don't put pressure on it, keep it off."

"I'm trying, I swear." Surely this could go innocently....

Except her shirt rose over her stomach. Her wonderfully taut and smooth stomach with the cute little knot and...

Her cleavage then came into my view. Belly knot and lovely breasts I...

FLOP!

"Paris, keep..."

I fell to the bed in an odd lump as my distraction meant I almost put pressure on my left foot. The combination of gravity and lack of focus on my health and more on my fair Gilmore's charms didn't exactly do wonders for my balance.

"...steady." I looked up to find her biting her lip. "Oh geeze."

"I'm OK," I insisted, rolling over onto my back. "Really."

"Oh yes you are." Suddenly her emotions seemed to go from worried to...

Curious? I looked up to find those inquisitive eyes of her gazing down on me like I'm some kind of choice cut of steak. Naturally it felt odd for that to play out in a 0-to-60 manner.

"You...do realize I just had the most traumatizing dream/image of childhood anyone could ever have?"

"I do know," she said, with a slight frown. "I really do. I...I'm sorry. I just don't...I...I..." She laughed and sat down on the bed. "I love you, and we're now in this thing where you're living with me, everything's so odd and our emotions are on a roller coaster." She slapped the back of her hand against her leg and turned to me. "This weekend has been exactly that."

"Isn't that the truth?" I sighed, laying down with my left leg propped up by a spare blanket I had before on the floor. "Although for me it's been all in the dumps until you got off the train."

"Yeah, the baby shower took off the sting of my dad. Although his disappointment wasn't much of a surprise." She looked over at me, somehow being calm and sane despite all I've just gone through. "Did you ever expect at the start of the school year ever being in this position?"

She lay down as I made my observation. "When I made the Hail Mary to make you the VP to save my election I never expected it to end up in this. Or even the first day we met."

"What..." Oh dear, not the sly smile, Gilmore. You know that kills me. "Louise did say I had a nice stripper name. I think the whole 'innocent Mary' train left the station sooner than we ever knew. It added on that layer of sexual tension from day one."

"That kind of thinking is absurd, Dixie Chick." I winked lightly, and earned a laugh from Rory. "Except, there was the matter of your ass ruining my project, literally."

"Well I can't help if I have an adorable derriere which was destined to become the factor in making you a frenemy for life. Well, we can dump the 'enemy' part."

"The 'frenemy' title is loooong in the past." I was able to smile as I felt her flesh against mine. "Though I still think it at times."

"Then, frenemies at school, lovers elsewhere?"

"A little complicated, but it works." I looked into her eyes, feeling a little asleep but not all the way there. "What's Lorelai going to say about the burst bed?"

"Sex joke." No hesitation at all. "Before you explain it, first reaction, without a doubt."

"And about us sharing a bed?"

"Well, we're behind a locked door. We don't have to explain anything." Suddenly the room was getting hot as I felt a hand sneak beneath my shirt. "Like I know you've been staring at my chest on and off."

I turned away, hiding a deep blush. "Gilmore!"

"What? The both of us have great boobs! We can't stop staring."

"Well I'm behind an oversized sweatshirt, you cannot possibly sexualize me! And I'm bruised up like hell, need I reminded you of my currently Technicolor neck?"

She shook her head. "I'm looking right past it. It's going to heal up by Christmas. All I can think right now is about how much of a badass you are. Anyone else, they wouldn't even blink in running towards an easy sick day, but you're going."

"I'm going because my mother isn't stopping me from Harvard," I observed. "Not really because I want to. If it was up to me I'd call it good for the year and start my vacation early. But the last progress report has me only ahead of you by .015 of a grade point. I need to make that up."

"I need to try harder, obviously." She sighed, but still smiled, as I felt deeply distracted by her hand roaming up just below my breasts. Along with her top seemingly fixed above her navel, which I couldn't stop looking at. "Are you okay to sleep?"

"I...I don't know," I said honestly, a softness to my voice as I was scared of doing so. I was tempted to go in my bag and grab a pill. "Maybe I should--"

"No." She took my hand. "Two hours before you could've been fine with the pill. You can't screw around with 'em, Par. You take them too late and you're still tired leaving the Hollow in the morning. Also, I just don't want you taking them. You can get a good night's rest with even a few hours."

It's like she knows my brain, my routine. Before I could realize it though, she was reaching beneath the covers. I didn't know why at all so I assumed there was something wrong with the sheets. "You're wound up. You need to relax, feel calm again. Stop thinking about her. She's not here. I am."

"It just seems like she's going to barrel in any moment," I confessed, taking in a deep breath. "I just can't stop thinking of the dream."

"I know." She kissed my cheek as her hand seemed to find itself sentry just along my right side. "But it's the past. You're still here, aren't you?"

"But my life is threatened. I don't even know what the police actually ended up charging her with. If she's out, it isn't attempted murder. Not that I'd actually expect that charge, I'd be fine with assault and battery."

"Hey..." She  slid up against me, her other hand grasping my thigh gingerly. "The important thing is, you're not there tonight. You're here and you have a good lock protecting anyone from getting in." I felt her circling her index finger just near my breast, calming me in a sensitive portion of my body which always seemed to calm me down when I touched myself. "We're going to talk all of this out tomorrow, I promise you."

I fell silent for what seemed to be an eon. Just Rory looking down at me, looking so seductive and beguiling, yet acting like this protective guard dog who wouldn't let anyone get in her way. It was still unnerving to know that the one flash of anger from when she got pissed at me for making fun of her tardiness wasn't even her angriest.

She proclaimed she wanted blood. I mean, this is Rory Gilmore we're talking about. Who went along with the Puffs even as she knew it was a disaster. I can't get over it.

I was still silent, but I began to inch my fingers along her side. To give myself more access to her flesh. I knew I was playing with fire, that she could easily turn me down and say no. I just needed to feel her in some way.

Her hand was now resting against my breast, with the other just inside of my pajama pants.

I could feel her, teasing, anticipating. Fingers barely along the edge of my mound. Trying to keep still, but knowing how deeply I wanted her after a weekend apart.

Clothes were beginning to feel like a hindrance. I was sweating despite the boiler barely being on. My fingers began to move lower, her tank top as high as it would go without exposing the bottom of her breasts. I gasped as I let my fingers pinch at the hem of her pajama pants to lower them just a little. Letting them move down her hip just a smidge.

She noticed and hummed happily against me.

"Is that what you want, P? Flesh against flesh, nothing between us at all in this bed?" I nodded as she straddled me, the waist of her panties slightly appearing, revealing them as blue. "I want to make you forget and have that seduction we promised each other earlier. Just...forget." Her hand cupped my breast, which became aroused as her thumb stiffened my nipple. She immediately noticed.

"Ohhh, yeah." She looked at her arm up my shirt. "That feels nice."

"Other...one," I strained out, expecting her hand to move to the other one. Instead, she looked down at me, moving her hand up as half my hips were exposed, barely showing the trim of my fringe.

"I need to see you," she whispered. "And taste you." She pushed up my sweatshirt. "I can't stand it any longer; even in bed last night up in Boston the memory of your scent got to me all night." She left me to pull the shirt over my shoulders and I tossed it to the ground.

Unconsciously I wrapped my arms around my breasts.

"Paris, don't," she warned me, raising an eyebrow. "You have to stop that. I love seeing them." I slowly pulled my arms away and laid back as she continued to pull my pants down until she had my hips fully exposed. Her eyes stayed on my breasts, looking them over.

"I really wish you'd switch to camisoles," she grumped. "I love the days when you wear a slip but I can't get over how soft you are."

"Not all of us are blessed with Cindy Crawford-like ones," I observed.

She grimaced. "You saw Fair Game too, didn't you?"

"Huh?"

"All the boys in school were excited to see her naked in that movie. I wanted to also, though I hid it under the excuse of it being a movie Mom could mock when I asked her to rent it. I don't know why I wanted to when I was that young; I guess I was odd in that I wanted to see it and then she finally got her shirt off..."

"Rory..." I smiled. "You little baby dyke. You just admitted to seeing a movie to see a pretty naked woman."

"Hey," she shot back, "you're the one who didn't know Femme Fatale was going to be two hours of naked Rebecca Romijn."

"You're still going on about that?" I narrowed my eyes. "I think you learned a couple of things from that film."

"I may have..." She bit down on her lip, her fingers along my sides, thumbs circling the bottom of my breasts. "Hold on..." she lifted up from me for a moment, then stretched over to turn the lamp on her nightstand to its dimmest setting. My breath caught as I could see her puckering right nipple within my sight, her tank top sliding down. The material stretched out perfectly and...

Without any warning or sense of propriety, I grasped her hips to hold her in place, and scooted up in the bed while keeping my leg level. She shrieked at being held as I decided what I wanted for foreplay.

I needed it. I had a carnal need, the many car rides of torture, riling me up, causing what seemed to be a puddle on the back of my skirt. I looked up at her for but a moment, catching her completely unaware, with aching in her eyes.

I pushed her against me, moving my grasp to beneath her arms to keep her steady. With my mouth, I claimed her nipple, flicking it with my tongue through the material as the movement was made within mere seconds.

"Oh shit," she whispered, pushing up so she could be on my lap, but I lifted myself up so my leg didn't get pressure.

I've kissed her so many times, along her body, including her nipple. But I had never felt so wanting of her, knowing the door was locked and anything could go.

I was confident Lorelai could not hear us, and it seemed Rory was the same way, bracing a hand against the headboard, the other one tangled in my hair. Thursday seemed so far away, a wasteland to get to tonight.

I used my teeth to tug at the nipple, provide a little pressure and find out how much to the limit she could go. She panted, gasped, begging me to get the shirt off.

I didn't comply. I wasn't ready yet. I knew she wasn't. Until I saw her eraser-stiff, it wasn't enough. I suckled at the nipple like I was trying to draw milk, her gasps and moans guiding me further.

It was beginning to work. I began to feel her cunt warm against me as she rubbed against my right leg. I quickly moved my ass up so she could hastily pull the pants down to my knees, I couldn't deny her this skin on skin. My own hands fumbled with her pants, pulling them down with her panties. I continued to lick and pull at her nipple, as whispered profanities slid from her throat.

This was the Rory of 'Quippy, why so silent?', the one who stood her ground. Her father and my mother had aroused the beast within her beauty, and right now the birds wanted nothing to do with her. She begged me as I could feel my saliva dripping downward, leaving a circle of drool as I broke apart for a moment.

The shirt now was visible in that one spot, leaving behind a lovely brown areole clearly showing through, her nipple nearly 1/4" long as I broke apart. She groaned.

"Fuck, feel like you're milking me!" She gasped. "Other one..."

I complied, latching onto it through the fabric like my mouth had suction to go with it. She grinded her pelvis against my thigh and I felt her bareness deeply against me. She loved being this aggressive with me, I could tell as the friction built up.

I repeated the same actions, nips, bites, licks and suckles. I was injured and bruised up, yet controlling Rory as if we had done this many times.

Somehow our relationship is a loop of control. Sometimes I get to instigate, the next time she's getting things going. Our pants ended up on the ground as eventually the only piece of clothing between us was her tank.

"You...are...wearing this...tomorrow," I demanded between kisses, the idea of her wearing a top soaked with me enough to wetten my quim. She kissed the top of my head, and then my forehead as things went further than we imagined.

"Damn right." She agreed to my demand, gasping. "Fuck this shirt...feels tight." I pulled down the hem and could tell that my nipple play had pushed it out a little more, giving her cleavage that little extra boost.

I could feel her dripping with sweat, the scent of her underarms overwhelming, strong. An odor that was pushing me further.

Then, a hand slid between my legs.

"Your pussy is so wet," she stated matter-of-factly. "Fucking wet cunt."

"Keep talking dirty," I demanded, loving to hear clean-talking Gilmore filthy her mouth.

"Wear out my fucking body," she growled. "Missed you. Begged for you." Another kiss. "I fucking came on the train thinking of us going at it Thursday night."

"Oh, you did?" I rolled my tongue around her nipple while nipping it. "I wish I could've smelled you after that."

"Panties...still in my bag," she hissed. "I ruined them."

"If my leg wasn't fucked up I'd ask you to wear them."

"Just glad you're here yourself." Abruptly, she used her hands to pull me away as I could see anguish; she couldn't take any more nipple play.

I let out little breaths as I saw her, and then just like that, she stripped out of her shirt, pulling it up wildly at the hem before getting it up through her head until it landed on the floor below. Her breasts bounced, her body flush and needing of release. Her sexual glare was overpowering to me.

"Every rule is being violated right now," she stated simply. "Door locked, both of us naked, Mom in the house." She was trying to hit every trigger point.

"Nobody can stop us. Not your mother, my father. Anybody. With you, I'm not Mary. Not innocent. I get to think things that Dean dismissed as silly. Dangerous. Stupid." I wanted to see where this was going. How deep.

"I'm enlightened and know what I'm doing. I'm a woman, with a strong woman herself."

"Careful," I warned. "Just...slow, please. I really wish I was up to full-on, but I'm far from ready."

"I know, I just have to get this out." Hair sliding in front of her face I could just imagine many nights like this with Rory in the future. "I really don't mean to curse so much either. Something Sharon did let out the guttermouth New Englander in me."

"Really?" I shook my head. "You get me into your bed, we strip down and even though I'm maimed and turned on, your mouth is what you're worried about?"

"Mm-hmm." Her eyes were wide as she explained. "We've just holding all of this in for so long and even if I'm innocent and pious to everyone else and the town, I just can't help but have you know how I feel in detail, even in words I never use."

"Yeah..." I loved hearing her side of this. "I don't care though. We're a couple, we can tell each other whatever we want, and if I'm the only one who gets you like this, I love being the only one to know." I slid my left hand along her side as she relaxed against me, smooth flesh guiding me until I felt her trimmed mound at the heel of my palm. She moaned just at the nearness of my touch.

"We're really doing this," I said, stunned at the position I was in. "Despite all we went through, this weekend is going to end with us in bed. I'm hurting, you're pissed, and yet..."

"That's right." My hand moved lower as I could feel the slightest bit of dampness. She let out a small whine in response as I let myself tease and linger her. "P..." I could see her eyes even with the dimness of the room. "Please." She lay flat against me and my other hand cupped her ass to give myself leverage.

I began to stroke her, letting my fingers slowly seek out between her lips until I found her clit easily and blindly. I pushed them together and hooked them inward, circling the flesh. She quickly dampened up, her body tightening against mine as she continued to hover above me with the occasional heated kiss here and there.

I continued to lay flat against my back, taking advantage of the bed's thinness as Rory had nowhere to go but against my fingers. Some hair fell across her face, shielding it and I could feel the bed shifting slightly with each stroke with a small squeak and bump of the headboard against the wall. I felt like I was sinking in it somehow; this bed definitely was not designed to hold two adults, and even one was questionable.

She whinnied and gasped as I brought her clit to a fully erect state. It was not going to be long for her being bottled up since Thursday. She held my back, careful to avoid my wounds and bruises. I could feel her nipples digging against my skin and it felt so deep, so wonderful. I bit on her lower lip, teasing and antagonizing her into the same time into fucking my fingers as deep as she wanted.

Rory is wild, untamed in bed. I had never expected her to be this way, but I knew I had a special girl when I had my naughty monologue in the car. I slid in one finger, then two, pushing them in while using my pinkie to continue the clit stroking.

"Goddamn Par, get me off," she said in a guttural manor, her voice barely carrying. "Yesss..."

I loved feeling her like this as she rode my fingers lightly, keeping her mouth closed, muffling into my neck as she kept her consideration while riding my hand. I could feel her just slickening against me and I knew it wouldn't be long.

Her voice barely carried as I could feel her teeth biting lightly into my flesh. I kept the little circles going, keeping my fingers angled inward as I knew I could feel her muscles begin to contract inward.

This was beyond hot. Despite my minor handicap we found our rhythm easily as her stomach constricted in and she welcomed me in, rocking in against my hand, her hips circling in and out in the small compressed space. She barely made a sound, content with my fingers guiding her through, her breath deep and shallow.

Her forehead settled against mine as she shared slow and torrid kissing. She was getting tighter, I was feeling even more wound up...

How this became me pleasing her I didn't know, but I knew the reciprocation would be divine.

She continued to push up against me, her clit fully aroused. I quickened the strokes at her encouragement, taking her closer and closer to coming. I needed this.

"Please...love you," she gasped, and I moved a third finger in. More circles, more furious. I needed her to spill over. Her body stretched out in this way where her feet were fully curled in and...

...and...

"Christ, Par! Oh shit..." She bit down on her lip after that light outburst as I pushed in for the last few strokes, her panting harried, a pull against my back...

And then I could feel her come against me. She ground against me harshly and I really knew that was it and I let her do so against my uninjured thigh as I released my fingers from her with a deep gasp.  Her face flushed deeply as she relaxed me, finding herself deeply and completely fulfilled after four days since our last time.

I snorted thinking about that; three months before we functioned just fine without sex. Now we can't get enough of it.

Soon she was relaxed, and calming down, within the crook of my neck.

Almost settled down that is. She was still kissing my neck, applying little points of pressure, just enough to not leave a mark as she peppered my neck with kisses,

"Just about my turn," she said breathily to me. "Are you sure you're up to this?"

Beyond the ache in my leg and triggering some minor pain in my wrist, I was good.

We continued on a torrid pace as she wound me up, continuing to leave fluttering kisses on my neck, my chin...I can't get over how she makes me feel. I made little sounds of mewling as her hand drifted along the underside of my breast, making me quiver as just small touches wound me up just as much as the big ones.

Then she moved to my stomach, sliding her finger along the rim of my navel as we got into position. She was careful and slow, whispering things to me in order to rile me up. My breath was shallow and I needed this sooner or later. I knew I wasn't going to last very long at all as I opened my legs to let her in.

"Remember; quiet." My exhaustion began to overtake me though, so that was easy to do. My clench was light and she began to work me off. This wasn't going to be as physical as I did to her and I understood that for the sake of my condition, but it still felt just as deep and loving as she is when she's a little rougher with me. I lay back relaxed against the pillow as she continued to touch, stroke and tease with her mouth and her hands with her thigh against me.

I groaned and gasped with each sensation, careful with my body. I was limited, but certainly not unfeeling by any means. I felt a building bubble in the pit of my stomach as I knew I was approaching my release.

"Little faster," I rushed out. "Need this." I yelped as a hand grasped the small of my back on the right side. I truly did need this, I wanted all of this. To let the ugliness of that ten minutes on Saturday go away. I began thinking of that and looked at Rory above me.

I forgot how I was feeling sexually. I let my emotions guide me from then on as I felt overwhelmed by my love for Rory. This should not have happened in this way. If not for a call to her house I would've been miserable at the Capitol Hilton, alone and loathing myself.

But she's here. I'm here. That's all that matters. I quivered thinking about all of this, what it all lead up to.

A little bed in a small town feels more comfortable to me than anything involving my wealth.

I focused solely on that as I just went with the flow of everything going on around me. I let my mind fill with good emotions, letting the ones that had wounded me just go away.

I wasn't going to let this get to me. This was just a mere misstep. An error.

Before I know it, I'm going to be fine, not hurting any longer, and Rory is going to be even closer to me...

I stilled and my heart constricted, along with my body. My muscles clenched in and I clenched Rory for dear life as I felt boneless in my own body.

Really it wasn't much of an orgasm. I've had much deeper ones by myself, by miles. Feeling her against me, sorting through my emotions and hearing her continually tell me how deep in love that she was in with me, it was all enough, I didn't need to faint or pass out from my come.

All I needed was to relax, and this was definitely helping. I hummed happily as I reached my hilt, and the comedown, with Rory's lips on mine, had definitely tired me out. The fears of earlier were gone, no longer keeping me in a state of paralysis.

"Par..." Her voice was filled with exhaustion, looking down at me. "So much love for you right now." I nodded in shaky agreement as she pushed the blankets above us and I knew we would probably continue to...

OK, I'm still talking about these rules, it's ridiculous.

I smiled up at her through slitted eyes. I knew we weren't going to stay up much longer. "You...you did that."

"I did." Her face had its usual shine of innocence. "You OK?"

"Mmm." So much for my typical need to fill every moment with words. "Should sleep with you every night."

"One day at a time there, Par-Bear." I snorted. "We're going to make this week better than this weekend, mark my words. Everything is going to be alright."

"Hope so."

"I know so." She was being bold. "I'm not going to let anyone take this away from us." She gingerly slid from atop of me to bring me into a spoon, wrapping around me at my stomach, her chin resting on my shoulder. "Don't doubt yourself for me, please."

"I...I won't." Though I was still unsure, scared of the future, I had to share my girlfriend's optimism in some way. She has had a life where everything has worked out; I need to stop looking at everything with dread. "So...tomorrow morning?"

"Yes, tomorrow morning." A kiss on my lips. "Goodnight, Par. Love you."

I returned it softly. "Love you too." She slipped into sleep rather easily, and I though I'm still up a few minutes after, I'm following soon.

I'm still deeply unsure of things. There's still a lingering fear that my mother will attempt to reenact the final scene of Steven Spielberg's Duel and run us off the road or into the oncoming traffic lane, and of course, I could be running right into a whole quagmire at school tomorrow.

But at least it'll be together, with Rory. At least I'm alive at the end of this weekend and she's here to calm every one of the fears that I used to have to face all alone, without any support.

What my mother told me this weekend is deeply false; I am no longer a 'lonely little bitch'.

The 'little bitch' part? Oh yeah, true. I wear that as a proud badge.

But I have Rory, Lorelai, Madeline, Brad, Dr. Birnbaum, Dr. Merton, my nanny, Ms. Peters, Ms. Salmon, Nora and the RTS, and my entire staff behind me.

She thinks I'm lonely? I'd love to see her try taking me on now.

Go for it, Sharon. I'd love to see how far you're going to get with everybody supporting me, you bitter hag...

To Be Continued

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