DISCLAIMER: This is actually a big change of pace, because in this chapter we have a Judging Amy crossover; that show is the property of CBS Productions/Television Studios, 20th Century Fox Television, Amy Brenneman and Barbara Hall/Joseph Stern. As per usual (grudgingly considering what happened in A Year in the Life), Gilmore Girls is with Amy-Sherman Palladino/Dorothy Parker Drank Here Productions, Hofflund Polone and Warner Bros. Television. All other products mentioned within are the property and trademarks of their respective owners, and no disrespect is meant or implied.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Hello, reader! Remember when I promised in January of 2015 that you wouldn't wait long for a new chapter? Boy, I broke that promise, did I?! (He says this as you think 'get on with the story!' but it's been 2 ½ years...) Blame college (I've got one degree! But I'm going for another!) and the usual anxieties that come with it, along with health issues with my mother that threw our lives astray for nearly a year (she has recovered, thank goodness). But there was also personal anguish about how I wanted this chapter to be perfect. This is a big chapter in the story, a turning point. And bringing in a show I barely watched in Judging Amy for a natural crossover turned out to be more complicated than I thought, as I barely was able to watch an episode before my cable provider pulled the UP network for the damned Liquidation Channel, thus I had to hope I got Amy Brenneman's voice and mannerisms as Amy Gray right within the world of my story without much reference outside of random YouTube videos. UP came back later on, so I was assured I was fine, but I also wanted Paris and Rory as a couple to be believable, yet sexual in this chapter. I hope I got that balance right (and to a lesser extent, Jess as just a friend rather than romantic interest; I love Rory and Jess as friends together, along with Paris).. Also adding on other original characters and getting them into a room and making sure they all work out, it's an act to get their voices right (I'm especially proud of Elisa Keller here, along with Roland Hampton; for once I really don't have an archetype actor to help you picture them, so you can imagine your own). I can only hope they are. Then came the revival I mentioned above. Which crushed my heart and basically confirmed that ASP's ending for Rory was sadly no better than someone writingthat of a Rogan fan who writes 47 chapters of angst involving Rory abandoning all her views, hopes and dreams to follow Logan to the inane ends of the earth and a life as a society wife. Outside of my beloved Paris coming out unscathed and kickass (lalalalala what's this about Doyle and a divorce? I can't hear you!),, I hate what happened to Rory throughout. So my Rory is growing ever stronger within this narrative and I had to make sure that the Rory in this story won't end up that morose figure in the show's canon. It (and said angst-fests) discouraged me from writing for awhile, but I can't hold back any longer, and finished this chapter up; and the next chapter will not take two years to write. I promise you. Bug me on all my social media to finish if I get near that milestone, please. Hell, I'll even set a calendar event to torment me every four hours beginning in June 2019. Oh, and apparently there was an election last year and some megalomaniac with a terrible TV show and bad Twitter etiquette has access to the red button instead of the sane ex-First Lady, New York senator and Secretary of State. And he has a whole bunch of over-nationalistic people around him who hate public service, the LGBTQ+ community, health care for all, not being under Russian control, and the rule of law. Lovely, right? And here's my usual 'this is a femslash story and if you don't know that at all after 26 chapters where have you been? Go read some fanfic about Kirk Cameron or God is NOT Dead or something' disclaimer. This is coming out just in time to give my friend Danielle some reading on the plane to Europe, as an early birthday present. She's been an amazing kick-ass advocate, an incredible writer and a tireless confidant (along with Taylor, her wife), and I cannot wait to see her and T again in the next few months. I hope she enjoys this. Also this is dedicated to the ladies of the Worst Friends Forever podcast; they probably wouldn't read this story, but they have a great weekly show and you should listen to it as soon as possible (they have awesome GG content, for instance, and really great looks at feminist and general topics). And to anyone else who has stuck around after so much of my undying writer's block; thank you for your incredible patience and loyalty. I enjoy writing this for fun and will not let you down. The chapter title was inspired by Sarah McLachlan's song "Train Wreck".
RATING: R (sexual situations, profanity, homophobia, and teasing of horrid New England stereotypes, along with stoners and The Man.))
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Longing With a Cherry Tomato on Top
By Nate

Chapter Twenty-Six
In Your Sweet Embrace, All My Pain's Erased


Lorelai's POV, 11:00 a.m.

This was all so completely crazy to comprehend. Instead of being at work getting the last preparations for my Christmas guests ready next week, I was literally dragged away my job to fight for custody of a so-called 'child' who probably is mature than anyone else I've ever known. Even my own mother is still young attitude-wise compared to how Paris is.

Yet, there I was in a conference room, sitting next to Harold Gellar and Paris's nanny as his lawyer coached me on how everything had to go. I had dressed in my most professional suit and there was no way that I was going to yield one bit of ground to Sharon Gellar.

"Ms. Gilmore, I know you might think this could be open/shut, but we can't go in there with that mindset, unfortunately." Elisa Keller, the attorney, went over the plan carefully. "You have to emphasize you're a homeowner and an accomplished businesswoman without any kind of record with DCF. I think we all feel like this is a massive waste of time, but try telling Roland Hampton that."

"How again does he bill $1,000 per hour?"

"Dragging everyone through the ground," Harold grumped, still furious he was having to fight this. "He'll take any opportunity for money and makes the worst ambulance chasers in this town look kind in comparison."

"And she can still go through this? Even with assault and child abuse charges?"

"Hampton's wife is in DCW; Sharon's got all the connections." He looked tensely at the worried Francisca, Paris's mother figure looking at her hands. "Fran, all will be well."

"I worry for Paris, Mr. Gellar. She will be hurt if this goes your former wife's way."

"It won't."

"Harold," I interjected, "what if it does? What do we do, warn Paris to flee the state and hide out in Boston? I cannot under good conscience send her back in there to be sent to Maine or beaten or whatever plot she has."

"Lorelai, we will cross that bridge when we get to it," he assured me. "Suffice to say Paris is in school and until she leaves that building, there is no action Sharon can take until then. There's time to plan what to do."

"Of course, it has to be legal," Elisa said while tilting her head, "although I cannot suggest any of you break the law." A knowing smile. "Of course if there's some plan you all come up with, I haven't heard anything."

At that moment, Dr. Merton and Dr. Birnbaum came into the conference room, all of their various files on Paris on-hand. The taller Dr. Birnbaum strode in with a determination only matching mine.

"I just shared some notes with Dr. Merton. With Paris's permission, of course." The redhead looked around the room. "Ms. Keller."

"Dr. Birnbaum." She took an offered notepad as both women sat to my right. "I assume the both of you have a definite plan of attack here."

"Pretty much hit Sharon with physical and emotional scars caused to her," Dr. Merton offered. "If I have to see Paris in a hospital again I swear to God I'm throwing 'first do no harm' out the window--"

"Dr. Merton." Harold raised his voice slightly. "Nobody is getting any kind of further hurt here."

"I apologize. I just...it all gets to me after awhile. I birthed that kid and I really don't enjoy the prospect of sharing information about her with the medical examiner's office in my lifetime."

The strategy conference went further and I was pretty much an observer for the next ten minutes. Suffice to say if Paris thought she didn't have much support, the people in that one room fighting for her showed that was an error in judgment. I heard how Francisca had body-blocked Sharon from getting into Paris's room and how Sharon's screams were so loud the drivers in the garage heard her yelling at her daughter. It was emotional, hurtful, and when I had to tell these people about how she came to me, I couldn't help but feel emotional describing everything on my end.

"We cannot let her go back," I pled to Elisa. "Especially after last night; it was a miracle that I was able to duck behind that counter in time. If she had scalded me...I don't know what else would have happened, especially with that shiv credit card she threw together."

"Ms. Gilmore, I assure you, this is coming out well. Paris is going back to Stars Hollow tonight." She told me to take a few calming breaths. As I did, she looked towards everyone else.

"We have to go into that courtroom hoping for the best. Judge Gray is a pretty good judge overall, but Hampton is an odious prick who will try to get his way; he doesn't usually take family court cases and sticks to divorce, but here it's more glory for him and getting at Harry. This is mostly about Paris, but we cannot let him win this case. So stick to what you've told me, be emotional and level, and we can get this farce over with pretty quickly."

"God, I hope so." I shook my head. "It's enough I had to unload this on my best friend this morning and then dash off out here; she can only take Michel in very small doses."

Yeah, I suppose I should be thankful Sookie took everything well. She wasn't there at Luke's last night, but she definitely had me in the kitchen for about an hour before I had to leave going over everything about Rory and Paris...

"So...Rory is dating Paris?" She was still surprised. "But she was dating Dean a month ago. She seemed happy."

"She was in denial," I said, trying to explain it. "She's been infatuated with Paris for at least a year, even more without knowing herself."

"But she never had any signs...she didn't cut her hair, switch to plaid shirts--"

"Sookie?" I narrowed my eyes; God, I hate stereotypes, even if they're from a well-meaning friend. "Being attracted to the same sex doesn't mean you immediately turn into an Indigo Girl. I don't think she knew for a long time she felt more attraction to women. And this is good."

"Good?! What if Paris hurts her?"

"Then it happens, but it doesn't change how I love my daughter," I stated simply. "I know it's a shock and we both kind of raised her since I came to the Inn all those years ago and it's like 'how did she end up being gay'? I really don't think it matters."

Sookie nodded at me. "I'm fine with this. Honest. I'm just a bit surprised. Especially from how Paris does treat Rory."

"As a rival? Of course she does."

"I mean--"

"I've had to deal with her the last few weeks, hon, it's not 'you must all be perfect and I hate living in this stupid town'. She's shyer than Rory and it's my daughter who's being the assertive one between them, which is throwing me off, but it's working for them." I hated trying to discuss this in a way where I had to avert the discussion away from things like sleeping arrangements and my mother. I think she understood eventually and she's supportive, but this is as new to her as it was to me the moment I walked in on them.

"I guess she's good," she asserted. "She's the only one of those three girls who stuck in her seat during the concert and she complimented my food while going off about everything else at the Bracebridge Dinner. It's just going to take me awhile to get used to this."

"That's all they need, is time." I think it's going to work out, though Paris is going to get yet another protective speech from my chef for sure.

As everything finished up, Harold brought me aside, still worried deeply about his daughter. I could tell even if he wasn't always there and travelling most of the time, there was always going to be a part of him that would fret for her every moment.

"Lorelai, is there anything you need for me to provide you to take care of her? Money, resources--"

I held up my hand and smiled. "You honestly don't have to worry, she's good. A little rattled by the dreams but considering the circumstances she's fine. You're doing fine, I assure you."

He shook his head. "I just can't bear to lose her again to Sharon. She really was a good woman, once upon a time. Honestly, she was." He looked down at his hands. "But somewhere down the line, I don't know what happened, and Paris has been paying for it even before she was born. I still love Sharon for who she used to be."

"I know." I had him look up. "This isn't fun, and itsit's hell right now and I'm sure you really don't want to be here. But we're doing right by Paris and Rory. If this is what results, we have to handle it." I could tell he was still shaken from all that had gone on through the weekend. "You can't let yourself think of the 'what if' and 'how could I stop it' situations. You raised a strong and self-disciplined daughter who went to school today even as we go through this, a day after maybe losing her best friend and getting hate from her classmates. You and Fran managed to filter out how Sharon wanted Paris to hew. That's all you need to do, is guide her." He was silent for a moment, glancing at me before letting out a deep breath.

"Thank you again for taking her in. I think that was a good first step, Lorelai. You support her and we seriously need that right now." I nodded and thanked him as the clerk peeked in.

"Five minutes," he said, before quickly scurrying away. Elisa and the doctors, who had been taking to Francisca, brought out their game faces.

"We all know what to do?" Everyone nodded or said yes, and Elisa left the room silently, preparing the arguments for her case. I was shaken but determined as I headed down the hall with everyone, wondering how this entire day would shake out.

Hopefully I wouldn't end up shaking Sharon Gellar at the end of it...

Paris's POV, 11:00 a.m.

Compared to all that happened yesterday in all the various classes, today is just oddly quiet as Rory and I navigate the halls. It's still murder trying to get used to these crutches for the next few days, but hopefully I'll be off them by the 25th.

We did take Madeline's advice to block off the locker vents, having found magnetic art at Bed, Bath & Beyond which perfectly sealed them off and assured no notes would get through, and as for Madeline? Dealing with everyone teasing her for being with Brad seemed to quickly become a specialty of hers. She just mentioned what a jerk her date to the dance was, how romantic Brad was and...

Yeah, I know he doesn't like it, but his bedroom skills were played up slightly. It quickly shut many of those teasing her up. A few of the students also saw it fit to high-five the both of us for standing up to Mr. Mercurio, which I was happy to oblige.

The three periods passed without incident, and Rory and I met up in the library for our independent study, which also just happened to coincide with the time my court date started. Rory knew I was focused more on my fate than anything else as I kept checking the phone here and there, phantom rings throwing off my concentration.

"Paris, it's OK. You know your doctors and lawyers have this, along with your nanny and Mom." She smiled easy at me, holding my hand and running her fingers between the channels of mine. "We will get through this."

"There's still a chance I could lose, though."

"Like you did when you creamed everyone else during the election?" Her voice calmed me. "You're not a troublemaker and you didn't instigate any of this with Sharon. I'm sure that officer on Saturday will be there too."

"I just hope nobody was bribed," I said, worried, looking at my girlfriend being so Zen about this all. "That PI could be there to embellish things."

"That PI will lose his license if he does. You can't worry, Paris."

"I can if it means going to Moose Country, I have to be." I let out a small smile. "I don't want to leave here."

"And you won't. The family court only has eight days of rule over you left; as of midnight next Wednesday you can do whatever you want. This is her trying to stalemate the inevitable and the moment you submit that emancipation paper she has no more control over your schooling."

"I know. This is all silly, nothing really, just a minor roadblock." I tried to focus on the book in front of me, without success. "But, say if somehow--"

"Paris." She shook her head, running my fingers through my hair. "If we suddenly need to make a long road trip up north, say to Springfield without receiving the news from the court or make an early winter wine trip to Chautauqua County in New York under their 77" of snow to thwart your mother, we will come to that point later on. But for now, you're still here."

"I am, you're right." I hesitated as I played around with my worn three- month- old Dixon pencil with the green paint all flaked off. "I just always assume the worst."

She looked over at me, shaking her head. "You always do. It's your pessimism and I would've been a bit thrown off if you didn't express some doubt."

"I'm just going to focus on this for now." Another thought cropped up. "You...didn't happen to see Louise in second, did you?" I was looking for an opportunity for us to talk, but I wasn't sure if Louise was avoiding me or not.

"She isn't here today at all. Madeline is confused. She even tried to call her brother Francis but all he said was 'I can't tell you anything, sorry'. Probably thought he'd get beat up or something."

There was a few moments of silence as I thought about it, letting what happened linger in my mind. I had been glad that last night with Rory next to me in the airbed had gone well; no bad dreams, no thrashing of covers or anything horrific. It was just sleep that was desperately needed between the both of us.

Well, mostly sleep. Even if she's being incredibly careful to help me heal up, the unconscious need to be close has given Rory more courage. I never ended up putting back on my shirt after the massage and when I woke up her breath was upon my ear, while one of her hands rested protectively at my hip.

I was so tempted to use our study time in our quiet study room, a floor up, far from the nosy librarians. This morning was a bit more relaxed as I knew my parking space was safe and most of the day's tension was reserved for this afternoon at the student government meeting.

At that moment though, my fingers brushed against her earlobe, a thought suddenly in my frontal lobe.

"I guess he was right," I whispered. I still had the protective support over my wrist, a bit of prescription Motrin taking care of the pain. Rory's eyes widened as she turned her attention to me.


I smiled. "About your ear. Remember how Tristan was entranced by it?"

A shrugged nod. "I figured it was him biting his tongue to not end up confessing something about other parts of my body--"

My breath deepened. I felt my courage building.

"Can I turn the tables on you, Gilmore?" Ever since she got in the massage habit, I had waited for this day. "I...I would like to try to give you the pre-lunch back massage I've been trying to return for three months."

"Three months of agony," she whispered back. "Of having every muscle from your shoulders to your pelvis relaxed and wound up at the same time?" I let out a slow breath at her insinuation. "Or of the couple times I got you on a wound-up day and you had to excuse yourself to the restroom?" A smirk as my mouth dropped down slightly.

"I did not--"

"Don't deny it, Par-Bear. I remember you'd get back and you'd be a bit lighter on your feet when the bell rung. That, and you were a little...blushy." I averted my gaze.

Shit. She did know.

"Well...you kept playing with my bra and slip straps through my shirt and it was like 'pull 'em down already'." I let out a whimper of frustration. "You weren't exactly demure yourself either; your scent was strong on the days I needed to...intervene."

She clicked her tongue as I turned back to her, teasing the edge of her lips with her tongue. "Don't forget the shirt-trade day. I don't think either of us will ever forget that."

"Never, ever." I felt the urge growing; I certainly didn't want to leave this at a massage. Plus I was thinking on purpose on a colder day than expected, she decided this would be a blue hose day for her, all the more to frustrate me. I kept trying to keep my concentration between my class reading and her, hoping the former won out. But I kept looking to the side, where Rory wouldn't notice.

She had her skirt a smidge higher than regulation. Definitely unnoticeable when just standing or at a desk where your concentration wasn't on your girlfriend. If Mercurio hadn't had his tantrum yesterday, I know I'd be fine at that moment.

The both of us changed in separate rooms this morning; her in the bedroom and I went with the sewing room. I didn't want a repeat of yesterday's near-grind in my lap at the breakfast table. So I didn't know what was under the skirt.

But I wanted to. Rory is testing me, trying to find our limits. She knows I'm lured to her in hose, and I can see the darker part that begins the panty portion of them. I was struggling. Do I risk injury, or just let my urges subside?

Unconsciously, I let my hand drift across her thigh.

"You know," I mention. "There's too much noise around here."

She looked up, unnerved by my wandering fingers. "Are your ears ringing? We're in a quiet study room." I let my finger play at a small pock visible through the nylon.

"We are...but, I think we can have it much quieter." With my other hand, I reached into my bag, revealing the keyring entrusted to me as student body president. "Perhaps, carillon room quiet?" I let my voice down for a moment. "Simple elevator access, you know. We could study in all the peace we want."

"As...in...upstairs? Next to the bell tower?" I nodded, my hand sliding up further, almost at that fringe which suggested non-friendly intentions. "And what about lunch, young lady? Are you suggesting we...study through the lunch period?"

I shook my head. "I'm not suggesting it, really. More I'm really in need of some...quiet study." Further up. God, I love testing this girl. "You're up to it, I'm sure."

She shrugged. "You're sure? We're not going to be caught--"

"Not until February when they begin to tune the tower bells for the bicentennial celebrations. For now, we can bless the benefactor who gave the school with an interconnected bell and clock system and removed the full-time position of bell tender and ringer."

"You're sure." She gives off a slight glance. "We do have these essays to finish."

"And we will, tomorrow when we're here. Just have to dash off the usual talking points and Charleston will be happy; it's not like he's going to submit them for awards review with only four days to holiday break." I let a vocal fry creep in towards the end. "It'll take my mind off things, if only for a small while."

"Well..." She looked at the third page of her essay scribbled out as I pinched my finger in, wanting to put a slight but obvious run in her hose. "We better. I kinda should, since you'll be persona non grata sexually in the next couple days." A nervous laugh as she placed her hand on top of mine. "Also...I...I kind of now keep a second pair on me. Just in case. Which...it will be today."

I shuddered a breath. "What are you suggesting?" That's when her hand clasped mine and she had me slide it higher, beneath her skirt, nearly all the way. I didn't know where she was taking this at first.

Shortly thereafter, I found out, as she came closer, her cheek brushing against mine. If not for the shade drawn to keep anyone from seeing us, they'd have quite the show.

"I'm not even close to laundry day," she suggested, so much innocence in her voice. "But you could say I'm conserving for the holidays." She bit lightly on my lower lip and I whimpered as my palm took in...

"Are you kidding me?" I shook my head with scoff. "I haven't even said all that much and..." There's that damned smirk of hers.

"Irregular body chemistry. Especially around you." I had to roll my eyes; this girl is completely insufferable, acting completely cocky and who knows how much she infuriates me at times?

And then I smiled. I spread out my hand and I boldly kissed her, much to her shock. She made a little mewl against my mouth as I felt a bit of aggression coming through.

The thought that this might be my last time with her thanks to the Byzantine world of the Department of Children & Family gave me the courage to see this through. If it was the last time this was going to happen, I was going to make it count.

If it wasn't though...well, I'm wanting to make a memory nonetheless. I let the kiss further until Rory released, taken completely aback and trying to catch her breath.

A nice possessive growl slid through my throat as I withdrew my hand from beneath her skirt. I took in her shocked expression as I brought the palm to mouth, subtlety licking it off and savoring her copious goodness. Hardly innocent blue eyes took me in and she whimpered.

"Christ!" she let out, shaking her head, my lip gloss lingering on her own lips as she blushed. "Umm..."

"How long have you been looking forward to this time alone today, Gilmore?" I enjoyed the scent of her on my fingers. "That just didn't start the moment you got in here, did it?"

"Well, I..." She averted her eyes to my soft stare in her direction. "My mind wandered off in second since I worked ahead in that class and I'm...I was kind of thinking of your voice, one of your long speeches and...I also thought about how much I'd miss you, something that was deep in my mind when I got dressed this morning. So I've been...I know it makes me look like an ass, but--"

I let off an easy smile and nodded. "You thought the same thing." My voice was seductive. "A last good fuck, just in case?"

The profanity had the intended effect, her eyes widening at the same time she gasped in shock and need. "I know it won't be. God, how I hope it isn't. But...yeah. I know you're wounded but I'm kind of in a 'she's hurt but still beautiful' mindset."

"Thus the warm pool, you flirt." She nodded. "My going into my cycle too?"

"Are you mad at that thinking?" She felt a little uneasy. "I mean, I have no problem with it, honestly." Whoa, what? "I don't like limiting myself that way, and I can still be turned on when I'm in the middle of...that. But I think we need time before we get there. Just so you aren't all weird with me because I don't care."

I'm a little stunned; I admit I hadn't even thought of this factor in a same-sex relationship, but at least she was telling me how she felt. "But, yeah. I don't want your mom to get you. If she does though, I want you to remember what you're fighting for."

"Believe me, I know, Gilmore." The both of us laugh lightly. "And it's flattering you would still...consider at that time. But you're right, we need to establish a routine before we get a bit more adventurous." I looked up at the clock in the room, reading 11:32 a.m. More than an hour before we had to be in our next class at 12:55 p.m.


She saw me glance up at the clock as she crossed her legs the other way, anxiously. Something was definitely on her mind. She let out a rushed-out 'damn' and then an eye-widen my way. She was getting nervous, and I could definitely sense her strong scent.

Aww, you poor thing, I thought to myself. You didn't think about how insatiable I'd make you sexually, did you?

"You OK, Ror?" I patted her knee, while at the same time letting my socked right ankle brush against hers. "Something wrong?"

"Yeah...we're not upstairs," she said, rushed out before gathering up her things into her backpack. "Come on, we don't have a lot of time." I began to put my books in my messenger bag as I got up slowly with my crutches. "You know, most people would be content with the broom closet."

"Well...I'm not most people, am I?" I dangled the keyring, feeling a stir throughout my body. This is actually happening. It's something out of my dreams, but it's about to occur in real life. Rory finished and began to help me through the room before turning off the lights in it and heading into the library. Thankfully the librarians gave us no mind and we were easily able to head towards the elevator.

Getting in, Rory glanced each was as I used the special elevator key to give us third floor access.

"You're ready for this?" I asked, giving her one more chance at a normal day, or just the usual fumble in the broom closet. She reached from behind to push the 'door close' placebo button before wrapping her arm across my stomach, emboldened by both the need for distraction and some needed release. I felt a hot breath against the back of my neck.

"Your orders shall be fulfilled...Madame President." A kiss against my nape, and then Rory held me protectively, in a manner I assume would prevent me from fainting.

I hope I don't regret this...

Lorelai's POV, 11:30 a.m.

There's nothing more insufferable than knowing you're completely right, and in the clear, yet you have to defend that position no matter how cockamamie it seems in reality. I could be the most level-headed person in the room, and yet here we are, having to partake in a circus that if not for Connecticut having a bit of sanity when it came to their family court's recording policies, would be prime entertainment for the lunchtime crowd on Court TV.

Family court, of course isn't like Judge Judy or an episode of Law & Order. It's not glamourous, nothing's really being arbitrated but egos, and there's not much to do until the verdicts are rendered. The courtroom certainly is a little less pretty than the grand rooms I usually picture when I have to come here to take care of hotel bills in arrears from the 'stay and dashers' of Hartford County. Thanks to the holidays, lunch was bumped up an hour at the courthouse to get a bunch of cases off the rolls before the holidays, so here we all were at noon in a lower-level courtroom which has all the feel of one of those rent-a-suites, having to argue our view of why Paris should stay with me in front of the judge.

"Your honor, Mr. Gellar is an absentee parent. That he even has custody of Paris is offensive, since he pawned her off right away to the woman who is the mother of her girlfriend. How can the court accept that? The child is a minor and--"

"Mr. Hampton, I know what you're trying to do; place Ms. Gilmore in ill repute just because of her living arrangements with her daughter. That will not happen. Please use another argument."

"I am just saying, she was irresponsible when she was younger and she has not proven to be independent in all of her means as she had to ask her parents for schooling money."

"Again, Ms. Gilmore is not on trial here!" Elisa cuts in. "Her mortgage is paid up and her utilities are current, thus the state of her housing is not in front of this court."

"I would agree, Ms. Keller." The judge is young, but firm. I feel like I've seen her at the Inn before and that my father does know her mother, probably. Amy Gray is kind, yet firm, and I feel at ease in her courtroom. She kind of had that look Luke's ex Rachel had going on, if a little less hippy-dippy and more meant for courtroom decorum. "Mr. Hampton, why does Mrs. Gellar feel she can continue to provide a good home for her daughter, considering her run-ins with the police in the last few days?"

"Those were aberrations. Her daughter was defying her authority and the townspeople were being defiant and not allowing her to see Paris."

I looked back, finding Officer Clayton of the Hartford PD and Officer Krueger from my town firmly taking in this argument from Sharon's lawyer. They both frowned at the tactic he was taking to discredit us.

"If she was so defiant, why was it Paris who ended up in the hospital?" Elisa wanted to be empathetic. "Sharon took no injuries, while Paris, in the last three days alone nearly had her wrist broken twice, her neck compressed and her foot was stomped. Hardly appropriate parenting--"


"Withdrawn. This is not punishment her father endorses, nor do either her psychiatrist or medical doctor. Paris was unfairly targeted by her mother and was grievously injured for her choice in sexuality."

"The state disallows--"

"She is seventeen and in no position to marry. Let the record show that the state has no law on the books currently governing same-sex relationships, and they certainly do not apply to a high school senior in her first relationship."


"Just like this entire argument against my client. Your honor, the State would be enforcing any agreement to send Paris back into her mother's custody for merely eight days at the risk of further injury to her. There must be better uses of the People's money than that."

"My client is willing to forgive her daughter and will tender an apology for the aberrations of this weekend."

"I would hope an apology is in order to Ms. Gilmore then," Elisa shot back. "Going into Stars Hollow less than 24 hours after her release and nearly scalding the mother of her daughter's girlfriend is hardly appropriate behavior."

"Mrs. Gellar is under a lot of stress--"

"Please...stop." Judge Gray was just as exhausted as I was hearing this lawyer back-and-forth. "I understand there's passions between you both about your clients. However, we will not get far with the 'I know you are, but what am I?' line of questioning." She looked towards us. "I would like to hear individually from each side, each representative, so the State can have a clear position of what should be done."

Yup...I was eventually headed up there, and this was going to be a long couple of hours. We started in order of involvement, though as Sharon is on the other side she got the last slot for testimony. The police officers from Hartford spoke first, being direct and calm about their involvement with Paris's injuries and the diner incident last night. Even though Officer Krueger from our town also had to deal with the incident with Dean at Doose's, it was understandably off the books as far as Sharon's custody. Hampton's questioning didn't get far as she got a bit annoyed about her response to questions about the diner, saying she was too involved to be neutral.

"I am a sworn police officer for Stars Hollow who must protect my citizens. Of course I'm involved, because those are my neighbors your client was attacking. I have not had police contact with Ms. Gilmore for eleven years, and that was for her child's birthday party on a noise complaint easily resolved." I smirked, recalling she still thought it was epic she had to intervene in Rory's party. "I'm just relieved we didn't have to call the paramedics to transfer Lorelai to Bridgeport for burn treatment."

The questioning went on between Elisa and Hampton, eventually getting to Dr. Merton, who was very neutral and deeply concerned, and then Dr. Birnbaum, who was incredibly passionate in her arguments against Hampton's aggressive line of questioning.

"Let the record show until Paris was aged ten that Sharon Gellar paid for all of your provided therapy, until you vehemently disagreed with her style of punishment and the embellishments the girl made about how she was punished."

The redheaded woman narrowed her eyes and scoffed strongly. "As I cannot breach PPP or HIPAA all I will say is I was right to further refuse her money. There was something that went on that under no circumstances I would endorse a parent ever do. My patient is probably seeing me for the rest of my lifetime. I may have to tele-commute appointments or move my practice with her; that is how damaging this woman has been to her child."

"So you admit a conflict of interest, Dr. Birnbaum? Or do you keep her in therapy to profit--"

"OBJECTION!" Elisa slammed her hands onto the table, fired up and angry. "Not material!"

"Sustained," Judge Gray said, quickly. "You will not continue this line of questioning, Mr. Hampton! It may work in divorce court but here I'm not fond of bulldog tactics."

He shook his head, and I glanced a bit towards the other side of the room, where Sharon sat, surprisingly calm and calculating. I couldn't stand it, because I knew I had my chance on the stand after Harold was able to state his side. Elisa saw my glance and set her hand on top of mine.

"I'm sorry, I'm not usually that combative in court. But Hampton brings out a side of me--"

"That Sharon does in my daughter," I whispered back. "I fear the reaction if she sides with Sharon."

"Not gonna happen," she assured me once again as Dr. Birnbaum finished her testimony strongly by again stating her duty to protect Paris, even to the point where she would take on guardianship duties as a last resort.

Then came Harold, and for a man who's gone through everything the last five years, he was very at ease, trying to distract Hampton by talking about the Patriots' surprising loss to the Titans the night before. He stated he was not out for blood with Sharon and was only wanting to protect his daughter as Hampton asked why he cared now.

"I always did," he said. "There has never been a moment in my life where I'd put anything above my Sweet Pea. I have been devastated to learn what Sharon did to her, and her reaction. From my talking to her girlfriend I could not imagine another one for her to love, and despite what you might think, I wish no harm on Sharon whatsoever. But when my daughter, my flesh and blood is harmed, and when this woman uses the horrible memory of a car accident Paris barely survived to belittle...I'm sorry...I do not wish...death on anyone." He began to cry, and while Hampton rolled his eyes and I took in Sharon puffing her cheeks in annoyance, I knew he was hurting. The accident was a wound point Paris would never get over, and recalling it all in such detail is incredibly damaging.

I grew nervous about my testimony, hoping I came off sympathetic. As Harold finished up I crossed my fingers as I prepared for the inquisition to come. They decided that Francisca could be bypassed as Harold confirmed most of what she would have said anyways, along with the judge making it clear that using her language barrier to discredit our side was out of the question. Minutes later, Hampton called my name, I proceeded to the stand, and did the bible and oath thing before sitting on the hard bench on the witness stand. As I expected, Hampton gave me the third degree straight off.

"Ms. Gilmore, you do realize that by taking Paris in, you are encouraging a devious lifestyle, are you not?" Right off the bat. I shook it off and took in a deep breath before starting my testimony.

"I'm sorry if my first thought if one of my daughter's friends was shielding up in a downtown hotel after getting abused was to encourage her to come to my home instead. Are you a parent, sir?"

"I am, but my children are all grown up. And I never had to take any of their friends in."

"Then it's a value judgment then. Perhaps your children were afraid to ask you, I'm not sure. But how I was raised and how I raised my own daughter was to support her friends if they ran into trouble. Paris had done so. The only thought I had on Saturday night was to give her a warm bed and good food."

"So that changes the next day when your daughter gets home?" I shook my head.

"I was still acting in Paris's best interests. If her and my daughter are involved, that's immaterial--"

"Your daughter coerced Paris into a relationship."

I held up my hand, enflamed by his accusation. "My daughter and Paris are not on trial here. I am not here to defend their relationship, but solely my treatment of Paris while she has been in my custody in lieu of Mr. Gellar." He paced the courtroom a little longer, taking in my answer and being a smug bastard. Something was about to be unloaded.

"Ms. Gilmore, have they engaged in any kind of intercourse under their supervision?" he asked firmly. I knew exactly what he was doing; trying to prop something on Rory. I smiled, knowing Elisa had warned me exactly about this.

Yes, I could say they probably have been together in my house. But the real truth was...

"I'm sorry, I wouldn't know that, sir. Frankly I'm not a deviant checking to see if...things are happening, and they're two level-headed and intelligent young women. They do not have to ask me when the moment is right. Unlike Mrs. Gellar, I put my full trust in them to make their own decisions." I felt proud, darting a glance at Sharon, who immediately narrowed her eyes like lasers in my direction. "Both of them are bound for Harvard and frankly that you're asking about their sex lives in a custody hearing is inappropriate."

He continued to fire questions at me relentlessly, getting towards the personal and inappropriate; no wonder why Harold almost buckled under his pressure.

"You are a single parent, Ms. Gilmore, is that right?"

"That's correct." Fuck you. Seriously, you're going to the 'attack me because I'm not married' tactic?!

"And the only reason your child is at Chilton is because you asked your parents to fund her tuition, correct?"

"No."  I was ready to haul him off by the ear. "The funding from my parents was needed, but her intelligence put her in that school, sir. Are you trying to defend your client or just here to throw dirt on Harold Gellar and I in a public forum?"

"Ms. Gilmore, please, calm yourself." Judge Gray gave me a serious glance. "And Mr. Hampton, she is right, the custody arrangement is what this case is about, not the relationship of a couple of teenagers or Ms. Gilmore's parental style."

He pulled at his suit, clearly thrown that a judge was objecting to his line of questioning. He readjusted, and as Elisa expected, went for the old economic line.

"Ms. Gilmore, can you support Paris on your household budget? One that is already stretched thin with one dependent?"

I seethed at him reducing my flesh and blood to the mere term of dependent, but stood firm. "We have hot water, good heat, power, and I will provide her whatever she requests, with her dietary restrictions. I have a pretty standard cable package and during the holidays, I'm going to figure out how to provide wi-fi in the house so Paris can do her schoolwork without having to share our one Ethernet jack."

"And her bedding? Surely you have that arranged."

"She bought a very comfortable air bed for herself."

"Hardly appropriate accommodations for a young woman of her income bracket."

"Again, emphasis on the fact she bought her own bed."

"You should provide her a good bed automatically. Surely your child has had sleepovers in the past." I was starting to become really annoyed now.

"Paris is happy, she is comfortable, and most of all, she isn't living in the fear that she has been for years. She's willing to sacrifice her very comfortable bed and home for now for safety and security."

He furrowed his brow, and quickly changed his tact, heading over to last night's diner confrontation. "According to the police report from Stars Hollow, you were confrontational once Mrs. Gellar came into the diner asking where her daughter was. You apparently used profanity in her direction, is that true?"

"Of course, but not until enough provocation was used."

"May I quote the statement to the court?" Judge Gray obviously was as tired of these theatrics as the rest of us were, but had to let it go on anyways.

"Yes, Mr. Hampton, please state the remarks to the court."

I knew the wording would look bad, but I was sure to clarify it shortly. "Ms. Gilmore put space between her and Mrs. Gellar as she rationalized she did so in order to 'not punch your fucking lights out'. After a couple more minutes there was a use of the word 'bitch' and then just before this alleged toss of a filled cup of coffee and saucer that you dared her to do so."

"I absolutely did not," I said, being completely truthful. "A townsperson named Kirk Gleason attempted to restrain her upon seeing I was in immediate danger without a thought to his own safety, and he was elbowed in his ribs for doing so and tumbled to the ground. The owner of the diner, Luke Danes, attempted to assert his rights as proprietor to have her leave under threat of arrest. She then told him 'f you', using the word, and directed a middle finger in his direction while calling me the c-word unprompted, and I admit it, I did shoot back with the quoted statement and then a 'b' word towards her, but solely for how she treated her daughter on Saturday. She continued to try to provoke me verbally to no avail, then she tossed the dishware at me; if not for a quick duck behind Luke's counter I'd be in the burn ward." I paused to breath. "So yes, I did put space between us to prevent confrontation and we did have it out verbally. But I never made physical contact with her whatsoever, and I never taunted her, as Officer Krueger already stated.

"In fact, I decided not to press charges when all was said and done because if Sharon had just talked to me and apologized for how she reacted to Paris or not threatened me yesterday morning over the phone before coming to the Hollow, we would not be here today. The local police only held her long enough to force her to leave town. She has enough to deal with involving the court system. But in my right mind I cannot accept sending Paris back her way until she can promise she will not lay a hand on her." I felt calm, letting this all out. "So yes, sir, if not for the ridiculous agreement you and your fellow attorneys forced him to sign where he can only have a studio or one-bedroom apartment to maintain Sharon's custody, Harold would have her. Apologies for criticizing the State, but the judge who allowed that agreement was questionable in doing so."

"Is this true, Mr. Hampton?" Judge Gray cut in. "In the divorce agreement between the Gellars, you slipped in a line forcing Mr. Gellar to maintain a maximum number of bedrooms to keep his custody of Paris?"

He nodded, though I could tell he was starting to wither. "Your Honor, I was protecting my client's self-interest--"

"I have heard all the testimony I think I've needed to hear from Mr. Gellar's side of the argument. We will reconvene in forty minutes, and we're in recess. Ms. Gilmore, you may step down before your cross-examination, and Mr. Hampton, I would like to see this divorce agreement; in all my years in family court I have never heard of custody being enforced through room restrictions." She adjourned the court and I stepped down, as Hampton was immediately taken aside by Sharon, who was beside herself. Elisa took me aside with a smile.

"You did well under pressure, Lorelai. I think you made Paris's case as well as you could there." Harold then joined in, audibly relieved, along with the doctors. Everything was going pretty well, though we knew there was still a chance that custody could go Sharon's way. "I still have to cross with you, but it's going to go pretty smoothly."

God, I hope so. As I got up, Sharon passed our bench and shook her head at me.

"Lorelai." She added a whole bunch of false haughtiness to the sound of my name, intending to bring me into provocation with her. I refused to bite and solely shook my head at her as Hampton gathered his client up for strategy and lunch. Elisa and Harold glanced at me, relieved I made it easier on them.

"You really helped our case, Lorelai. Thank you for the clarity and meeting Hampton toe to toe," Harold told me, smiling as Elisa gave me a neutral nod. "I do hate this though."

"Going against your wife?" He nodded.

"I hate doing this. But if Paris goes back there...it takes me all the way back to her in '89 in that hospital all summer. You realize when she got in that hospital the doctors had an eye to the clock calling time of death?" A whimper. "I've never shared that before. It was too dark to ever recall."

"We aren't getting to that step, Harold. Paris has Rory, Madeline and Fran and so many other people guarding her life." I brought him in for a hug. "I know you loved her once, but Sharon...there's something wrong."

"I know. I just want her to accept." To hear this scion of Hartford pour himself out to me, it hurt my heart. Even with all the absence he had in Paris's life, she's his lifeblood. There's no doubt that he's fighting for her life in this courtroom. "But she won't."

"You have to hold out hope. Do that." The hug released and with the doctors no longer needed, they gave us our well-wishes and departed. As Elise, Harold and Francisca guided me out of the Superior Court Building for a drive to one of the Trumbull Street restaurants, I could only hope the afternoon part of the day would end with Paris safe.

I worried for her and Rory, both unsure at school. They were probably worried about their own issues at lunch, but calling them would probably make things worse.

Let's hope they're OK and finding their own way to get their minds off things...

Rory's POV, 11:45 a.m.

Until today, I never knew Paris had her own hideout in the school. I thought it was the darkroom, but that was more convenience than an actual place to gather her thoughts. But I shouldn't be surprised, since Chilton is about six buildings, most with their own maze of hallways and wings that the average student will never explore; there once was a rifle range underneath the athletics building, for instance, where the rich of Hartford would get in their target practice in a nice warm building. Of course, Columbine and people afraid we were all going to birth lead-filled children pretty much shut that down, but it's a part of the school's history, like it or not.

A maze of dressing and prop rooms is under the auditorium, where undoubtedly the dramatic and theater programs have left many sexual marks. There's also basement and third floor classrooms that have lost use due to energy or space concerns. Paris told me once an entire wing was demolished in the 70's because an administration that bought way into the 'students should see nothing outside at all and the entire building is an energy drain' line of thinking couldn't figure out a way to cover all the windows.

What I'm saying is, there's many other places around this school to find a private moment than the broom closet. Paris? She simply doesn't do broom closets.

Why next to the bell tower though? A prop room would've been less risky. I asked her that as I looked up at the rafters, where various ropes and cables led up a level to the bells in the next room. Thankfully there was also triple-pane windows beneath drawn blinds and insulation keeping the room relatively warm. She clicked the lock behind her, lurching forward on her crutches towards me.

"This is your refuge?" I whispered. "You do realize that there's a reason the saying 'bats in the belfry' exists, right?"

She rolled her eyes. "The irony is certainly not lost on me. But nobody thinks to come up here because they think the room is some clumsy storage room with everything thrown around haphazardly."

"That is what it looks like though." I saw her lurching her way towards a broad old oak desk which would look at home in my grandpa's study; it made the surface of my kitchen table look like that of a dollhouse’s in comparison. Stacked student desks lined one wall of the room, while 70's-era plastic chairs in gaudy bright colors were seven-high in the corner of another in front of the windows. "You find order in this?"

"I find peace and calm in it. Whenever there's some time left in the day after the paper I have come up here just to ponder. Look out the window, sit down, get in some reading. Nobody is coming up here, and it certainly doesn't need restoration for the bicentennial; it's a bell room, plain and simple." I went towards the desk with her as she navigated the room carefully in her tennis shoes. I opened up a desk drawer when I arrived, curious, finding an ancient jar of SortKwik fingertip moistener, a Courant from 1977 still referring to the Whalers as representing New England, and homework from a typewriter. I moved my concentration back towards Paris, finally boosting herself onto the desktop as the crutches leaned against the edge of the desk.

Her first move was to immediately kick off her tennis shoes which were making her feet sore and removing the pressure off from them.

"Damn it. She really couldn't have just kicked me in the shins?" Anguish was in her voice as I encouraged her to scoot up so she could prop her legs on the desktop. "I can see how you felt when you had the sling those last few weeks, Gilmore."

"It wasn't fun at all. I'm just glad you took it easy on me while I healed up." She took a bottle of water out of her messenger bag for her lunch dose of painkillers and antibiotics while I searched the room out. "Please tell me you're healing up."

"Last night in a comfortable bed helped," she responded with a relaxed tone. "You next to me did too; good spirits can speed healing up."

"I wouldn't go that far; listening to the doctor does too."

"I think I would have been hurting if I hadn't been convinced to go to the hospital right away." She hesitated, moving back a little further. "How do you think it's healing up, by the way?"

"Not for me to determine, but I did glance this morning. Your foot looks better than it did Sunday evening. Still only a small obstacle though." I looked around my surroundings, reminded of what was outside. "This is beautiful, Gothic. Even if the gargoyles still get to me."

"They get to everyone." I turned my foot to circle back towards her. There were a few old-style schoolhouse fixtures lighting up the room, all we needed. My saddle shoes clacked along the grey linoleum floor, a contrast to the wood floors in the rest of the school. She looked at me with eyes unsure, but her body posture suggested relief.

"You don't know how much weight is off my shoulders with RN gone now. It felt like Mercurio always hated girls, don't you? Like having to teach them was a pain in the ass."

"Why did he apply here rather than one of the men's schools then?"

"Probably because of the tired syllabus. Only a few can stand it. Massages were the only thing keeping me from wringing his neck."

"Touching you, likewise." I heel-to-toed my walk closer to her. Despite the pain she felt from her injuries she was relaxed, and the both of us blocked out anything happening in downtown Hartford at the moment. She set her hand down on the desktop to beckon me to sit next to her, and I slid softly onto the worn but polished desktop, nothing but her my focus. Her hand took mine as I sat down and then I kicked off my own shoes to relax, leaving her in socks, me in my hose.

"I feel ridiculous at times," she admitted quietly, her voice at a low timbre. "Usually I'm up here with schoolwork, glasses on and wound up tight. Not today."

"You never told me you wore glasses." I was perked up, interested in this new and sudden development. She realized her give with widened eyes, grumbling for a moment before she admitted the reason for them.

"According to the state I have to when I drive; the vision in my right eye's a little farsighted and a bit more in the left, so I have a pair in the sunglass storage caddy in case I get stopped. I also wear all-day contacts though so it's pretty much all mitigated. More for reading and long computer work." My mind was distracted trying to figure out how she looked in them. "And no, I'm not putting them on for your fulfillment, Gilmore."

I scoffed. "How would you know? If you had to read with glasses, it's what you have to do...you know. Because...you do." Paris was on to me though. "What? You just admitted you wore glasses! It's kind of like your tattoo and your scars. Things change around in my mind because of it!"

"And what kind of things?"

"Well...your contacts. They might pop out and I have to look for it. Or you in bed next to me reading. I'd have to get used to that." Her eyes squinted as I took in her amusement.

"You're imagining us in bed?" A pause. "I hope not in your bed." I sighed, shaking my head but enjoying her teasing.

"I guess a...hypothetical future bed. At least a queen-sized one."

"King bed, Gilmore. Even a queen would be cramping."

"You're small and slim," I argued, using reason. "You don't need a king bed because you'd fit fine on a full-sized mattress."

"Really?" She raised up an eyebrow. "You really wouldn't want to take advantage of the extra space a king bed offers?"

"It just seems oversized, you know?"

"It's getting the most bed for your money. It's economical."

I lightly scoffed. "The mattress in your room is hardly what I would call 'economical'."

"But you would call it heavenly, right?" Her voice was light as I felt the side of her hand along the lower part of my thigh. "A very comfortable bed, isn't it?"

I nodded, with a shaky voice. "I wouldn't deny that, at least."

"And let's say I finished this reading you dreamt about while you sexualize my vision issues. What else could I do in that bed?"

I answered neutrally. "Sleep in it? Or watch TV...maybe get some homework done?"

She wasn't taking those answers at all, as her wandering fingers showed, dancing along the hem of my skirt. "You're still thinking of me in glasses, aren't you?"

"Being honest?" She nodded and I sighed. "I've known you two years, I've never seen your glasses! Where do you keep them?"

"Usually in my bag." She began to reach in for them, much to my interest. Reaching deep into the bag she pulled out a injection-molded wooden case marked with the golden script of Harvey & Lewis Opticians. "You know it's making me feel literal pain to admit you have better vision than me?"

This time I could be honest. "I take no pleasure in knowing your eyes blur up a bit, Paris. Cross my heart." She felt aversive as she opened up the hinged case. "So...why not admit this earlier?"

"Makes me feel weak."

"But it's just your eyes. Kinda can't help that; Mom wears glasses too, you know." I glanced down at the frames, which had lenses which were hardly thick at all.

"Dancing wasn't conducive to allowing glasses so I got contacts earlier than usual. If it was up to Sharon I would have gotten RK or Lasik but it was still experimental and no doctor was willing to test it on a kid." She held up the frames to me, light bronzed metal in an oval shape wrapped around perfectly-formed glass lenses. "As I said, mostly for computer work and long cramming where I know contacts would give me a headache."

I nodded, understanding, even if I was hardly a candidate for eyewear. "You also probably hate losing them, right?"

"For the $600 Daddy paid for them they better not get lost, though I got a cheaper set of frames in the car. One of those odd online places where you pay $50 and get acceptable eyewear you don't care about breaking. These though I intend to be heirlooms." I smiled at her, blushing as I took in her self-analysis of her vision, loving to learn this little bit more about Paris I didn't know before now.

"I thought you weren't going to put them on," I teased. She let out a slight bit of exasperation and shook her head.

"I did, but you unconsciously brought them out." She looked at me. "I guess I have them out now, so I'd be leaving you disappointed if I didn't put them on."

"There would be a tantrum thrown," I falsely claimed, almost unable to hide my glee. "Come on; I won't make fun of you."

"Fine...you pulled my leg enough." She sighed, opening up the glasses, bringing her neck down and then sliding them on in a way where my view was obstructed by her curtain of hair. I sat next to her with baited breath and anticipation, my heart catching indeed with the thought that this might be my future.

The both of us in bed, bickering over the Times crossword puzzle, I imagined, the Sunday edition all over the mattress with the various sections of the Courant at the foot of the bed, along with various books on each nightstand. And then I torture her with the wrong answer and she stops my victory celebration with a sudden kiss, the scent of newsprint around us and an errant nightie strap taunting me to pull it down--

"Hey, they're on here. Focus, Gilmore." My reverie of Sunday morning newspaper sex was broken by her voice telling me to look up. I shook myself out of it.

"Sorry, I got lost and--" I let my focus move up towards her, moving into her personal space while I did so.

I couldn't help it, as the moment I saw her in her glasses, I was struck by her. I would have thought deep in the recesses of my mind that she wouldn't make them look good and I would have to apologize for making her try them on and that would be the end of it.

How wrong I was. The frames only served to highlight the deepness of her eyes, the barest of eye shadow applied to her lids, a very neutral shade which was only slightly a dark rouge. I could feel my throat constricting as I tried to figure out something to say.

"Damn." I wanted to say something neutral, but that wasn't happening here. I had gotten to know Paris beyond her emotions and the beauty she put out there, but this was new. This was just like her in the vintage dress at the dance marathon, a moment to treasure, one that I would bookmark for the rest of my life. She looked uneasy, but to me, she was my girl, and even after all she went through and the healing that still had to be done, my love for her never ticked down at all. Everything about her was amplifying, and the need to have her, even in glasses.

She didn't know what to say, how to take my tone of voice or the way I looked at her. The both of us on that desk, a moment brought to halt through another, though thankfully lighter confession for her.

"I knew it. I should have never said anything. This is why I don't--"

I smiled just a little and moved as close to her as I possibly could, letting my left ankle touch her right in our sitting position. I felt heat across my cheeks and my body racing as the slight contact of cotton and flesh against nylon was surely needed. Lifting my hand I urged her to face me. My bespectacled love was a beauty beyond words.

"I guess you can say this cliché is true; I love a girl in glasses." I smiled, taking her hand while her cheeks were heated with a blush.
"I have a retainer," she deadpanned, trying to de-hotten the conversation. "Well, had. I don't need it anymore. Try to make that erotic." I brought myself closer to her, nearly mouth to mouth.

"You now...have...very straight teeth?" I husked, trying, but failing to make that statement sexy.

"Can't get there from here, sadly." She shook her head and her glasses slid down slightly. I whimpered at the slight movement, that one childhood memory long in my mind forcing itself into my frontal lobe. I narrowed my eyes and smiled slyly towards Paris, who could tell she failed to mute the conversation. "Come on! I mentioned my retainer, which should have ruined things!"

I shook my head. "You remember 90210?"

"I knew Madeline and Louise; they watched it long after it became the AFTRA retirement home for teen actors nowhere near their teens who lost relevance long ago." She shook her head. "Also, Kelly's bitch of a mom kind of looks like mine and Sharon goes off on anyone who reminds her about that fact; it's forever amusing."

"Well, when it started, remember Andrea, the redhead into Brandon?"

"Yeah the...school newspaper...edi...tor." Her eyes widened as she took in my enchanted gaze. "We were five when that show started! You can't seriously have had developed a--"

"I did. My first female TV crush was Andrea Zuckerman," I admitted, without much shame as Paris shook her head. "What? It's only natural considering who I want to be when I grow up."

Despite how shocked she was to hear my confession, she was shaking her head and smiling. "Rory Gilmore has a type; a high school newspaper editor with glasses." She laughed out loud, the absurdity of all of this becoming pretty clear. "I'm trying to imagine you on some night in 1990 watching 61 and telling Lorelai, 'one day I'm gonna grow up and fall in love with a girl like that!'" She failed miserably (but hilariously) to imitate me as a five-year old. "You also realize that actress was ten years older than who she was as Andrea, right?"

"Yes, Paris, I knew about the details of casting directors and their desire to not have to deal with on-set tutors by hiring actors who already had a high school diploma or college degree in hand in 1990, totally." I rolled my eyes, moving closer as she continued to smile. "And yes, I never even thought once about Jason Priestley or Luke Perry."

"Again, you were six. Back then I was obsessed with cartoons and Atlas Shrugged...thank you, Daddy for getting me past my slog of a libertarian phase very quickly."

"Really, Atlas Shrugged? Ayn Rand?"

"I was really tired of nothing but game shows in the hospital bed; long books helped to pass the time much better, no matter how boring I found them. Too bad they didn't have the Potter series back then."

"What, no Stephen King?"

"The Wizard of Fucking Oz scared me, you really think I'm going to get into horror literature?" She shook her head as if that thought was absurd.

"Point taken." I was still agog, just looking at her. I can't believe I was being silly about a 12 year-old crush about a long-departed character, someone coming to life before me. "At least you don't have to worry about being in a certain part of a ZIP code to be in school."

"ZIP code?"

"Like Andrea, how she had to lie to get into West Beverly?"

"You linger on the oddest parts of things, Gilmore." She smiled and I was so weak, letting out a little sigh, which she immediately caught onto. "You can't make a pass at me, y'know."

"Because you're wearing glasses?" I smiled happily, letting the flirting continue. "Besides, we passed home plate lonnnng ago so the passes were long made."

"You know what I mean." I loved hearing her throaty laugh as she passed the annoyed and bemused phases and into her comfort zone with me. She looked around and settled her hand at her side, beginning to move her blouse out of its tuck. "I'm relieved then."


"Remember how you ranted to me once how the Stars Hollow High school paper was 'barely worth the toilet paper it was printed on'? God forbid if your Andrea crush ended up on the editor of that rag."

"Oh nooo....noooo!" I was vehement about the loathing I had for that paper; when I was asked to work there I said 'absolutely not', deciding to hold out on a Chilton acceptance to work on a school publication. "Put it this way; said editor called me 'sweet cheeks' and complimented my breasts in a rather crude manner."

"So, a jerk?"

"Stronger language could definitely be used."

"Again, no wonder you wanted to get into Chilton; if Tristan's worst was 'Mary' we're as kind as can be compared to that place!"

"Lane is still in there and counting the days." She was unbuttoning her sweater as I said that and remembered how I told her Lane found out. She nodded, feeling understanding.

"You're OK with not being able to hash it out with her until after Christmas. Right?" I was heartened by the concern she felt about how Lane and I were doing. Putting the sweater down, she clasped my hand into hers. "I just want you and her to be OK. I never intended to stomp on her grounds."

With a nod, I went further with my explanation of how I felt. "I just want to tell people on my terms and I wish that we could have done that. Instead, it's all out, and your mother is just burning all these bridges, without caring about how other people are affected. I mean, we got a month without anything, just the two of us, Madeline notwithstanding."

"It's life, Gilmore; it doles out the hand and you have to play it. We're lucky we had that quiet month and all that time to work out how we feel. Most people, whatever their gender or sex, don't get that, or worse, they get pushed by their friends into something else." A pause. "Or, mother."

I nodded, completely knowing where she was coming from. "Exactly." I let out a tired sigh, knowing the time was melting away and knowing that I needed a release of stress before the end of lunch. I smiled at her. "We should probably get going on this massage you wanted to give me. We let ourselves go far off what we intended."

"That isn't a complaint, is it?" She gave off a little smirk. "I brought out my glasses for you, Gilmore."

"Mmm, and I'm glad for it." I clasped her hands and let the tip of my nose touch hers before giving her a simple yet heated kiss with just the slightest of tongue fitter, to her enjoyment as I moaned into it before slowly breaking it with a gasp and a wheeze. Shaking my head, I glanced at her and knowingly smiled at her.

"Flavored lip balm, Gellar?" She blushed slightly, taking off her glasses.

"What can I say? The blueberry called out to me." Completely at ease I knew that it was time to relax. We continued to talk as I prepared for her to give me the massage I craved since I figured out she was a better distraction in RN than anything else could ever be. I knew she wasn't up for anything much more taxing considering the state Sharon put her in, but if I could distract her enough, maybe it would be just a blur to her and we could move on with our days.

I could only hope...

Lorelai's POV, 12:15 p.m.

If there was any way to bottle up ready-made rage against someone, what I feel about Sharon Gellar should get me through the rest of my life.

How she could sit there against Elisa and just go on and on about how concerned she was for her daughter has to be the work of an amazing charlatan. There's no other way about it. Trying to justify assault and battery as trying to protect Paris is something that cannot possibly be defended.

Yet there she was, with her clipped voice, responding to each question as if the only dispute going on was her stealing a sparkly top Paris liked.

"I only acted in her self-interest, counselor. I would never harm Paris on purpose, but she instigated things and I had no choice but to punish her."

Elise shook her head, doing a small pace along the plaintiff's table. "According to the testimony of her nanny, she only tried to evade the confrontation as she was late for the library. Yet you insisted, getting in her way."

"I was going to leave for the rest of the weekend. It was the only opportunity I had to talk to her." She glared over at Harold, visibly troubled by his ex-wife's parenting style. "Surely you would confront a child you felt in the wrong as soon as possible."

"Mrs. Gellar, according to the nanny, you immediately used the word 'dyke' to stop her from moving further. Surely you knew that would have a chilling effect."

"As it should." A small smile. "Paris knows I am a blunt mother and I certainly was going to use the strongest statement possible to bring her in line."

Clenching my fist, I let the questioning go. I felt a light touch on my arm as Harold tried to assure me Elisa had this on lock.

"Don't worry, Lorelai," he said. "Don't think the worst."

I crossed my arms, trying to calm myself. "I know, it just hurts to hear this."

Elisa went on. "All through the conflict you made no moves to cool down the confrontation. You kept pushing, boxing Paris in and leaving her defenseless."

"She could have left at any time, counselor."

"Not when you were threatening her schooling. She was in psychological shock from being presented the P.I. pictures and trying to use her reasoning to cool down the situation. According to everyone in the vicinity of that room her voice only raised once you raised your hand to her. She refused to instigate the situation."

"She would be lying, then. Paris is at her heart, confrontational and she could have easily raised her own hand to me."

Elisa continued to hammer down, refusing to yield. "Mrs. Gellar, your history with the police suggests otherwise. You were convicted in 1989 of several charges relating to a motor vehicle accident which left your daughter immobilized for weeks--"

"RELEVANCE?" Hampton rose up to try to kill the line of questioning.

"Plenty." She didn't miss a beat. "It established a pattern where at least six times, DCF was called to your home by either an employee or Harold Gellar over further abuse of your daughter. Almost every two years the police would take you in for questioning. Inevitably, Harold gave you further chances and the charges were dropped after you plead forgiveness--"

"I plead nothing! The charges were never true. Trumped up. I have never harmed Paris in my entire life!" She shot lasers towards Elisa, her anger coming out full-force. "The staff is over-protective of Paris, that is all. They love her and they bow to her whims, knowing how much she hates me!"

Elisa brought out a file. "In March 1995 at a hotel ballroom where the district championship for the Scripps-Howard National Spelling Bee was being held, a parent saw you, and I quote, 'pushing a young blonde girl against the wall and slapping her face with force. The subject had ended up in the final three of the event and misspelled a word, ending her progress in the event, with the parent clearly enraged with the girl for not winning the bee and moving on to Washington. After her child and that child's friend called her out, the woman quickly intervened to prevent further injury.'"

"Again, embellishment!" She raised up her arms. "The woman was lying."

"The judge in that case didn't think so, ordering a year's probation and thirty hours of counseling for you, the latter which you were able to disregard with a voluntary contribution to the state treasury." I couldn't believe what I was hearing. "Mrs. Gellar, you might have a 'clean' record with the police when it comes to everything since the accident. However, the court should not ignore the past investigations rendered by DCF as to Paris Gellar's well-being. Law enforcement has not had to make contact with Howard Gellar or Francisca Regalado regarding Paris's well-being at all. There is a clear history of abuse established through the years by your behavior--"

"I would suggest you know nothing at all!" she burst out, her voice clipped and bitter. "I love Paris. She's my world."

"If she's your world then, why are you dealing with this situation by attempting to send her off to Maine?"

"Because she must learn that she is being disrespectful by defying my expectations for her. There is a proper way for her to live, and falling for that small-town whore is certainly not that."

I clung to the arm of the chair, holding off the urge to punch Sharon out of the building. Elisa could sense the tension on our side of the courtroom and tried to avert.

"According to her school records, Paris continues to maintain a strong 4.0+ GPA. I would say your expectations are being met just fine, Mrs. Gellar."

"I mean spiritually. The Gilmore girl is a distraction and will throw her off her ultimate goal of becoming valedictorian."

"I thought her goal was Harvard."

"That too, but Paris has worked too hard to let that woman's daughter ruin everything for her." I seethed as she pointed in my direction. "She's a terrible role model, having that girl at sixteen years old. Surely she could have gotten an abor--"

At that moment, Judge Gray had enough. She took her gavel and clenched it, a swing against the board reverberating through the courtroom, her voice filled with a neutral, yet angered tone.

"Mrs. Gellar, enough! The counselor's questions have hardly been inflammatory and you are not to attack the witness, or their child for their existence." I felt my body wince at the very idea I could have ever done that to Rory; I had the choice but it was nobody's but mine. "You will answer the questions without any further embellishment, or I will hold you in contempt. Are we clear?"

She narrowed her eyes at the judge, nodding without much sincerity. "We are."

"Good." She glanced at Elisa. "Your witness."

"Thank you." She brought her eyes back towards Sharon, continuing to make the case for Paris to stay in the Hollow.

"I'm almost done, Mrs. Gellar. I'd like to ask you one more question; when was the last time you willingly took Paris somewhere fun as a mother and as a daughter?"

Sharon shook her head. "What a ridiculous question. I took her up to Harvard in early November for a rehearsal interview."

"I mean not involved with her education. Just as a mother or daughter."

"I fail to see how this question is applicable."

"Because, for many years, especially after the divorce, she has basically acting as if her room is her personal apartment. She rarely ventures anywhere outside of her bedroom when you are at home and has behaved in this manner since she was about thirteen, before school started that year." She moved closer to the stand. "In a normal family, she'd be downstairs associating with her family daily. Since that point, her only ventures downstairs with you there have been for holiday events, as if out of shame." She paused for effect. "I repeat the question; when was the last time you took her somewhere, just as a mother and a daughter? For fun?"

Elisa drew back, expecting an answer to her question within seconds. We all expected her to have a well-rehearsed answer about some museum or mall trip; surely Sharon had taken Paris to the mall for holiday shopping at the very least, and that would qualify as an answer.

Instead, Sharon was left to the wind. She was frozen up, stunned. She couldn't utter a word as her ravaged mind tried to muster up the last time Paris and her spent a day of fun together. Holding her fingers to her temples there was visual frustration.

"Judge, this question is ridiculous--" Hampton attempted to get her out of it, but Judge Gray was having nothing of it at all, gaveling him down.

"It's an appropriate query. Mrs. Gellar, please answer," she said, looking at the woman straight on. Her eyes were catatonic as she craned her neck left and right across the courtroom.

All the other women in that room would know right off the top of her head what they did with their kid to the minute they left that house that morning. Sharon Gellar couldn't even recall anything past Saturday morning.

We could all see Hampton ushering Sharon to try to muster some tears to beg out of the question, but it wasn't working. I wish I could say I was exaggerating, but it was three minutes until Sharon finally answered the question.

"About a year back," she said, gasping it out, "I brought Paris to a Devils game at Madison Square Garden against the Rangers. I don't understand why she likes the violence and pointlessness of professional ice hockey, but thus she does. We had fun that evening; I think I got her an autographed jersey with the goalie for the Devils...Pat Richter is his name. We even sat on his end of the rink during his two quarters in front of the glass."

Harold groaned in response as Elisa shook her head.

"The goalie for the New Jersey Devils has been Martin Brodeur for ten years, Mrs. Gellar, and hockey has three periods, not four quarters. As someone who follows the NHL like she does, and been a Devils fan since the Whalers sadly packed up for Tar Heel country, that would never get by her at all." she responded, looking up at the judge. "Nothing further, your honor."

Harold took me aside to tell me why he groaned. "Paris pretty much mocked Pat Richter to his face for his goalkeeping, taunted him all through the match when he had his two periods on that side of the rink and gave away his signed sweater outside MSG, calling him "double zero" rather than his #88; Sharon was drinking the whole time and it was a terrible night except for Par getting plenty of face-time on MSG during the match for her...colorful expression of her Devils fandom and holding her own against the Rangers faithful. Two days later Richter had a dreadful game against Detroit, the Rangers got shut out 6-zip, and he blamed 'some crazy teenage girl Devils fan for psyching me out a couple nights before'." I snorted laughter as Sharon continued to sit on the stand, stunned.

"Mr. Hampton, do you have any further questions for your client?" We all looked across the way to see Hampton pretty much looking like a deer in the headlights, as he had no defense to muster.

"I do not, your honor." He shook his head as Sharon left the stand and Judge Gray looked at all of us.

"Very well, we are in recess the next half-hour, and I will have my findings. We are adjourned." With a hit of the gavel, everything had been presented and now it was onto the waiting. Sharon then approached Elisa asking what her problem is.

"I would have thought you'd be sympathetic. Asking me that question was out of line!"

"I apologize, but I'm only doing my job, ma'am." Elisa drew back towards the bench but Sharon was having none of it.

"You should be disbarred for that stunt! My parental fitness and what I do with Paris is none of your concern."

"Mrs. Gellar--"

"No! Frankly, Harry deserves to be fucking you--"

I finally had enough, getting up and placing myself in front of Elisa to protect her. I felt a need to make sure she didn't get the Sharon Gellar wrath. "Sharon, move back to your bench, now!"

"I will not! You're stealing Paris from me and your commentary on my parenting was not appreciated!" Hampton moved over to control his client as the bailiff came our way. "You're a terrible mother and Christopher Hayden had it right, you are controlling!"

I paused as she continued.

"That's right, I called Christopher when I got out of jail to figure out how to knock your daughter off her pedestal; pity he didn't get a hand on Rory to straighten her out." My mind was warring and I could hear Elisa behind me telling me to let it go. "Let that register." Hampton got behind her and she turned her back on us just as I felt the rage hitting me. I turned my heel and scowled as Dr. Birnbaum got to me just in time.

"It's not worth it, Ms. Gilmore; I've heard worse from her when she tries to get Par one of those whackjob 'alternative' therapists every few months or so to replace me."

I held up my hands, relaxing as the pale red-haired woman's perspective brought me back into focus. "I wouldn't, trust me, but calling the father of my child? So low." I backed away, all of us in shock, turning to Elisa. "Sorry she attacked you like that."

"Pretty much was expecting it." She shook her head and Harold invited us to a quick lunch at a little café near the courthouse to settle our nerves, something I know we'd need if somehow this wonderful judge somehow found Sharon fit to take Paris into her custody.

Francisca was the one with the most worry as she had spent most of the day with her face down behind us, nervous about everything that was said. She barely said much on the witness stand, but this is truly the woman who raised her, who tended to Paris at her most low of moments. She approached me, very shaky, her hands shaking. The small woman looked up, her gaze directed at both Harold and I.

"She is not being taken back to that home, is she?" Harold shook her head, but Fran still wasn't convinced. "If she is--"

He stopped her, knowing what she was about to mention. "Fran, I'm not seeking retribution. None of us are. We've done all that we can and if it isn't enough, we wait. I will have a guard watching her like a hawk so she isn't harmed. Nothing is going to happen, I assure you."

I nodded in turn. "We're here for you. Paris is going to be protected, whatever it takes, whatever might happen." I hoped I was right, because I saw a scene where the moment that Paris left the school, Sharon grabbed her and whisked her off who knows where, and I didn't want that to come true.

All we can do is wait now. I can only hope the court makes the right decision, and not only for Paris.

Rory has never been this deep and protective of someone she loves. If this ends up going wrong, I perish the thought of what reaction she might have, and it chills my blood what she might do...

Paris's POV, 12:55 p.m.

In my mind, distraction has always been something to avoid. It just can never even be present. If I get distracted, I lose things. Debates, honors, grades. I can't be distracted, it can never happen...

Except this afternoon. My brain was searching for every distraction possible to keep me away from the possibility Sharon could win me back. Surely she couldn't. There had to be a judge in Hartford County that wasn't going to let her take me back. If there's one thing I didn't want to plan, it was how I could keep myself unharmed.

It's almost 1 o'clock and lunch is over. I've left Rory behind and I'm trying to keep Madeline from learning why I wasn't at lunch today. The library excuse I pawned off on her thankfully worked, along with Rory being in the computer lab working on a story.

Of course, I'm nowhere near the truth. There isn't any here, and the moment she sees my other half, there's going to be a 'computer lab my ass' scoff towards my general direction.

How do I just let things spiral around Gilmore? I don't understand, I imagine a nice massage and an hour later I'm having to cram her damp hosiery and my own underwear deep inside of my messenger bag--

Yes, I just said that in my head. I still can't believe it myself!

It started off innocently enough, after talking about glasses and her childhood crush on a girl from an Aaron Spelling soap, and my putting on of my glasses in front of her. I'm getting used to her conversational tangents, and although they can be odd, they're certainly more enjoyable than any one I ever had either scripted onto index cards in advance.

If there's a good thing about being injured, it's that I've been able to take some time to realize that there's always going to be a sexual undercurrent between Rory and I, but not being able to act wholly upon it for now, it works out. We're at a point in our friendship where we both have a deep and abiding trust that's unbreakable and the cycle we were on is all gone. It's steady now and I can look back to see that we have a solid friendship onto which this relationship is being built on without a threat of it all toppling down.

The sexual aspect is there, though. That can't be denied. Even if my only release for now might come in some way where I'm not weighted upon, I'm fine with that. I've functioned for weeks at a time not needing to come. The delight I get from helping Rory to fruition is just as deep for me, and it keeps me balanced, reminding me that for all the thoughts I put into having sex, be it with Rory, Louise or Tristan, it is truly a partnership where the person you're with, they need to be happy too. You have to give them that emotional and physical intimacy, and expose your emotions to them at the same time.

I'm still learning. The both of us are. But I'm not sad to say that learning how Rory ticks, what brings her the fulfillment she craves, and why with me she's much more relaxed and less careful, it's something I'm not about to give up anytime soon.

The start of the massage, for instance. I made a show of unbuttoning her blouse, with a pink cami beneath. My eyes lingered along her collarbone and her sternum, and they communicated the lust I felt for being one of the few to see her in that state of undress. The knowledge that the Burt's Bees I picked up on a whim at the Rite Aid on Sunday was now a marker in her mind of my taste, of how she associated me. Her slight scent, barely sensible except for up close, and how her freckling just keeps me drawn into to find new ways to compliment her.

She moved in close, invading my personal space even as I undressed her, hesitating and struck by my slow manner with her. A little smile, she lowered her eyes down and let out a whimper.

"Going to let this go slow, are we?" I nodded. "I was able to build you up for three months and you finally get to return the favor."

"Not in the way I wanted," I admitted, still slightly uneasy. "I would have preferred this actually came after RN. However, I'm not willing to go back in time and suffer that fool again just to fulfill something to the letter." I slid out the last button, my index and middle fingers taking in each side of her blouse from the bottom. I anticipated that she thought I'd go with a simple yank of the tails from her skirt. Instead, I glided the tip of my index fingers along her stomach.

"Now..." I intoned, hoping to forget all outside distraction for at least 75 minutes. "Relax, Ror. Just don't let one distraction in. You've had a build-up of reciprocation percolating in your mind. I know this." I moved in close, beginning to grow used to her in my space. "All those late mornings of agony, each circle of my vertebrae. Memorizing the lay of the land, keeping me from throttling that idiot."

She nodded with her lips parted as I took in her navel, a growing pleasure point for this infuriatingly beautiful young woman I can call my own. "Ruining yourself over me, getting used to that afternoon frustration. Thinking there was no way I would ever return the favor, so you'd have to be content with an image of my fingers parting your folds to get through the remainder of the day, even when I was at my worst." She began to shake, and I could feel the unsteadiness as I finished the navel curve.

"This is how you imagined it. Us, all alone. No distractions. Just the two of us, a short distance, and only a few layers between the eroticism you want to spill out from your fingers, or for mine to wander your form." I concentrated on each word correctly, knowing full well that my off-the-cuff monologue was how she charged herself. I had seen it for myself after Formal; I wanted that moment again, many times over.

I took in her soft stomach, the bottom of her ribcage through the form-fitting fabric of the cami. I could detect the outline of each rib, using my fingernail to curve in each one. My own pleasure was off to the side, this was all for Rory. All for her. I was so far gone from my regular state of mind that I hadn't even taken off my glasses, keeping them on as I wanted not one moment wasted with even a perfunctory activity.

We moved in closer, her back flexing as she could sense the changing tenor of what we were doing. I pulled at the fabric of her blouse, letting the blue article slide out from each side of the skirt. My right thumb came to a rest against the underside of her left breast. I took in the curve of it, hearing her heated whimper of approval.

"I'm so...tight," she slid out, the words having a double meaning all too apparent to the both of us. "In knots," she added, the fragment jarring my academic side but for only a moment. The part on each side of the blouse slid off to the side, and in that moment my thumb rested along the lower areole of her nipple, the deep color immediately apparent through the fabric even without the best of lighting. I nodded, slowly moving away the thumb to concentrate on the workaday tasks.

"I will make sure this is comprehensive," I promised, my usual firmness still within my voice but betrayed by what I intended to complete. My mind went back to my being in my lap the morning before and how charged up I had been, even in that least sexual of circumstances. Of how her casualness in proving her love had broken through all of my barriers to finish a successful seduction I would have not seen coming, even with the pro/con list. She undid her own cuff buttons, nodding and whispering for me to slide the blouse off. I easily complied with her request, while taking in that yes, her shoulders were burdened, and her back was probably in need of some unwinding. I let the blouse undoing continue for a slow minute, until it was to the left, off of her and discarded, leaving Rory sitting on the desktop, legs crossed against each other as if to tease me. Her left leg was forward and sliding against her right, a constant 'swoosh' sound from her fidgeting caused by her hose brushing together, acting as a flint and steel to charge the atmosphere around us. Still, she had that cherubic demeanor about her, as if she had absolutely no idea that she was undoing every single defense that left all the walls up I had about romance within my private sanctum.

"So...you really have oil in there?"

"I do." My bag next to me, I pulled out a small bottle of a mineral oil that otherwise would be 'baby oil', but I paid a premium for because of the wonderful scent. "It keeps me warm during the winter; helps moisturize my skin and keeps me from getting too cold. Of course, it does have other uses."

"I wonder what those could be?" She puts on the innocent act, a little nibble on her knuckle going with the revelation.

A move she knows will do other things. Such as disturb the right strap of her camisole, which she accelerated with a shrug to that side and a bit of a slant. Before I could even fathom it the strap fell down, resting in the crook of her elbow. I hesitated a moment as the swell of her right breast became even more apparent in the article of clothing which seemed to be tight on the bottom but loose on top.

She then crossed over her legs as I shook the bottle, and at that moment, I was relieved I didn't flip the cap yet. Her eyes full of unhidden lust, she kept her gaze trained against mine, and noticed every moment as I soon open up to the fact that her legs are crossing in a way that's a bit wide for her figure. My breath quickened as I looked down at her skirt, my sexual impulses and inner vixen failing to hold back my need to take in her modesty. She stretched her lithe form out to raise her skirt those critical few inches she needed to continue the tease. A creak emitted from her mouth as the cross came to the middle and I knew what she was doing.

"Ooooh, Par." Her look was knowing. "I hate how my lower back gets. I have to stretch out a bit here."

Mind you she said this as I was hardly looking at her lower back; my gaze was directed slightly more southern. With shallow breathing I uncapped the oil bottle while she finished the stretch and untucked the tank from her skirt as her legs make another swooshing sound from her hose. I tried to tame my inner vixen from trying to mentally undress her further, trying to figure out how heated this wanted to get.

Rationally, I kept reminding myself I was in school. That we were gambling a suspension on this if someone found out. But nobody ever came up to the bell tower. Especially not when the cold outside can easily permeate the walls up here, and we aren't giving any mind to it being seven degrees cooler than room temperature.

But rationality was losing, big time. With those innocent blue eyes, Rory was prepared for me to return the favor from last night. And this will eventually become a cycle of our love for each other. She shook down the second strap, still keeping herself technically dressed, but preparing for what was to come.

She gave me a coy look, sucking on her lip, that small knowing smile between us suggesting she knew this was going to start out innocent, but not end that way.

"You want me on the desktop, then?" I nodded.

"Flat on your stomach." She got up from the desk for a moment, making a flourish of spinning around so her back was to me. The skirt spun with her before it came to a stop, teasing me with just a slight glance before she grabbed each side of the desk to slide herself towards the middle so I could start the massage to her side. Rory's hands rested at each side of the desk to center herself so that her feet were just slightly hanging from the narrow end of the desk...

"Crap." She winced as I realized quickly that her head was a bit unsupported, followed by a groan. I looked at my messenger bag, a bit perturbed about having to take a break from my seduction. "I should have--"

I couldn't see her face but I knew she was frustrated herself. I broke in before she began to doubt herself.

"I got this," I said confidently, stepping away from her and towards my bag, next to Rory's backpack. I quick grabbed it, thankful for the locker stop where I took out the heavier texts, and not at all sore that War & Peace was no longer in that bag. I quickly shucked off my sweater, stuffing it inside of the messenger bag and walked in front of Rory, smiling.

"You can utilize this. It's not perfect, but my sweater is in here." She nodded, lifting up her neck before placing it back down on the bottom portion of the bag, cushioned with my sweater. She rested her head against it, immediately relaxing to my relief, taking in deep and calming breaths as she prepared for the ultimate fruition of her dreams over the last few months while I stared at her half-bared back. I brought myself closer, feeling strange about examining the freckled flesh.

I had imagined the seating reversed so many times, of massaging her back, taking it in with my fingers. I can admit I was slightly overwhelmed as I let two fingers settle against her skin to see how dry it was.

"Mmmm..." She let out a creaky approval and I took the bottle of oil, pouring out just enough to moisturize the exposed skin. I felt my nerves building; she had been so intimate and knowing of me. Could I do the same for her? I worked the liquid around my palm, taking in slow and calming breaths, knowing that this small massage was going to build our intimacy.

I let the fingers make a circle along the top of her spinal column, turning the next revolution into an oval so I could take in her spine. Shuddering again I began to take myself out of my usual mode. Playing, trying to be natural about this seduction. My voice hardly shuddered as the touch wasn't shrugged off, but welcomed with a soft mewl of pleasure.

Soon, I was talking. Just trying to forget about everything, go on about something that was as far away from Gellar Manor as possible. Just keep talking, I thought to myself as I worked in the oil, being deliberate, judging when I could make another roll-down of the cami to expose more of Rory's back to my oil-soaked hands.

I went on, talking about things I loved about my childhood. Rare things, but still, they were things, in my voice. I told her about how Madeline and Louise dragged me to a Backstreet Boys concert at the Civic Center at their peak and how I hated it, despite having VIP access.

"They were all...I could tell they were lip-syncing throughout the show. Regarding us the same way most performers do in this town; the mid-point between the FleetCenter and MSG, just a bunch of rubes and hoping they didn't have a repeat of the Great Circus Fire of 1944. They put in little effort in the show, yet you saw girls deigning these men with their virginity! Seriously though, "I Want It That Way" is a completely terrible song with all the heart of a Roy Rogers ad! And still I went...because those girls are my friends." I chuckled. "Also, I had the towncar service and the nanny who could chaperone."

"You didn't like them at all, did you?"

"Not a bit. I have some guilty pleasure pop songs I enjoy, but until your sudden invitation, that was my last concert for a long while. But you know the worst thing?"


"Their manager, this portly guy, I forget his name. Looked completely like someone who should be introducing himself to the neighbors as being forever 500 feet away and unable to interact with children. He approached us while Madeline and Louise were getting pictures and autographs and made comments that we'd be a wonderful girl band. That he could see it in his mind."

"Really?!" Rory's surprise in her voice popped up, but I tamped it right down.

"You've heard me sing though. In the shower. Do I sound like 'girl group' material?"

She laughed, and I didn't flinch a bit. "You...have a great humming voice?"

"Unfortunately, the music industry doesn't think much of hummers." Suddenly she let out a snort, startling me and slipping my hands up her neck before letting out a long moan.

"What?" I felt insulted in that moment, before Rory made it known that some things I still don't know that well.

"I love your humming, no matter what anyone else says. Especially when it's against my flesh." I caught her suggestiveness and that's when I realized how it was construed. "Maybe you could hum a few bars later?"

"Glad you went with that rather than the other definition." I giggled, continuing with the story. "I basically told that dick to buzz off and Madeline and Louise were pissed at me for weeks. They eventually got over it, but I wasn't about to allow them to be stuck in that rigmarole for the rest of their teen years."

"You made the...right call." She gasped. "Oh, linger there for a bit. Deeper." I found a stressed spot along the back of her neck without prompting and obeyed her wishes with a rubbing in of a bit more oil. I used the heel of my hand to apply varying pressure, using her state of relaxation and aural cues to guide me.

I quickly found a rhythm, moving center-left-right down her body, easing the stress out and feeling her become relaxed and at ease, all the stress of the last weekend beginning to melt away. She let me know how each part of the massage felt, and compared it positively to what she did for me in RN. Despite never really having any kind of practice outside of my nanny or by myself, I had a good hang to it.

But then came the nervous part for me. I slowly slid down her cami keeping her modestly to reach the lower part of her back. She lifted herself up and I felt a quick shiver, a seemingly psychic effect of Rory's now-uncovered breasts upon the cooler desktop.

"Man, that's cold!" she yelped, and I admit, I let out a little laugh, while completely feeling that we were now getting towards that point where the innocent massaging foreplay of the past was leading to something very charged.

This is it; someone catches us, as unlikely as it could be, we can't excuse it as necking. My thoughts were cautious and slow as I took one more look towards the door outside I knew was locked. She caught onto my apprehension, relaxing herself further.

"Don't," she responded. "Don't even think about that door. Think about me. That's all you need to concern yourself with right now." I looked back down, my fingers along each side of her back. I took in a deep breath, concentrating on her relaxation, her pleasure.

After she told me so, I didn't spare the outside world another thought. What she said worked. My mother was beyond that but in that moment, it was all about tending to my Farm Girl. I applied more lotion, working it in, Rory becoming even more relaxed and open with each new stroke and knead from my fingers. I could feel her raise herself up just a little bit, to get that little bit of pleasure, but she was well-behaved, keeping her hands at her sides and refusing to move her fingers any closer than they were.

I expected her to break down, to sneak in a fingering of herself. I would not have noticed, being deeply distracted. But Rory made no move. I moved the undershirt down and she remained still, guiding me with her words and her sensual little mewls of pleasure. I could sense her arousal picking up, a bit of dampness along the small of her back, along with an 'accidental' caress beneath her underarms, wet with perspiration.

"You really are about 'living up to your fantasy', aren't you Gilmore?"

"Mmmm...yes, I am. But, you are building me up." The small bit of encouragement helped me along.


"You're going to find out in a few minutes." Her tone teased me; I knew where this was leading to. I kept up the sensual massage, surprising myself with how much my pain receptors were just downright refusing to communicate and didn't want to ruin this at all. My rested knee on the injured leg had to be hurting, and yet it felt quite fine, taking the spare cushioning of the chair as good enough for the moment.

Eventually, there was no more cami material to take down. Her full back was exposed to me, and I had worked and relieved every section of it. The tag of her skirt hung out just that bit along her waist, along with the zipper at her side with the puller in the 'up' position. But just below her skirt, the waistband for her pantyhose. Rory helped by working herself out of the pulled-down cami from her waist down to her legs, then letting it dangle and fall from her feet.

Now it was final; we could not stop. I ogled her backside for a minute without shame, taking in her curvature, the way her spine bent just perfectly, along with the many freckles and moles dotting along it.

"You know what I've wanted to do?" She kept her voice low, the innocence of it contrasted with a shameless sexual husk. "And I have a couple of times too. When nobody was looking and Mr. Mercurio made us watch the boring film adaptations of the books in class...I would look around towards everyone surrounding me. I would make sure you were entranced in the film. Then, with nobody looking, I would slide my right foot out of my shoe that was purposefully tied loose, bring it up and..."

She paused as my mind spun, my left hand tracing along the bottom of her back, slightly rising up.

No way, I thought. I was imagining that. That didn't happen.

"My toes slid beneath the bottom of your blazer. Sometimes socked, a couple of times with hose. You seemed unaware, bored to death by overbearing acting out of Russian books by screenwriting hacks. There I was, my fingers and pencil along your back, and my toes..."

I bit my lip. Hard. "You...you pushed...up the back...of my blouse." I wanted to unzip her now.

"I loved every moment of it. Bare skin against my nylon. A little innocent circle, brushed off as just me needing a place to rest my weary foot." I began to part the teeth, encouraged by the lack of a negative response. "Crime & Punishment...a nightmare of a book, and a slog of a miniseries, but plenty of time to spend with you. Building the mystery. My crush getting deeper. And there you were, either unaware, or playing right into me using the space behind your back in the desk chair for my own impure goals."

I was shaky, my index finger feeling along as I found the snap of her skirt and broke it apart. "I thought...I was daydreaming."

"You were not." I felt my heart constricting, beating faster. "I spent most of those movies imagining you in an untoward and inappropriate manner. Fully relaxed, yet wanting to taste you. Stealing that little bit of touch for myself, craving more. But I was a good little girl, willing to only take the small little samples I could get."

I remembered those little flitting touches, thinking they were just quick little kicks against my seat, leg twitches, that kind of thing. Though it was odd that they disturbed clothing at times I wasn't complaining, but I certainly didn't think of them as purposeful.

Here she was though telling me they were all on purpose. That she was worshipping me in all the ways she possibly could. I felt myself clench at the fullness of the insinuation.

"I took advantage of every single opportunity since we got back in September. At lunch. In student gov. And in your car...." A moan. "I love how your leather seat molds against me. And I love every single opportunity I get to touch you, even when you don't notice." Her breathing became shallow, her courage building. "Ever since that night you went out on that date in Washington, I've just felt like I have all this energy, wanting to go somewhere, but it only comes out with you. I can only let you know how it is. I don't want anyone else to ever know I have it and..." A pause. "And you must think I'm crazy, getting into all of this--"

I shook my head, just thinking about how she's wanted this. "Gilmore, you used our field hockey unit as an excuse to know if I love it rough." I laughed, tugging at the zip of the skirt and letting it open. "I think I've pretty much become accustomed to knowing you were seducing me from the moment we got back after Labor Day, and it's fine. More than fine." I was teasing and light with her, trying to keep myself calm as I pushed down her skirt. "At least now I know I wasn't hallucinating your secret little touches during movie time."

"So...you're not mad?"

"I have no cause to be." I pulled down the skirt with the camisole. "And I assume now that you pretty much had no shame if you were flirting with me despite you-know-who."

"I still wasn't going to make a move until I could break up with him. That much I did stick to," she admitted. "But when I was in bed at night, it was you I thought of. Nobody else."

"Nobody else?" I still questioned. "So you weren't imagining me and Cindy Crawford going at it in front of you? While Gabrielle Carteris watched?"

That earned a groan. "Mean, Paris. Really, really mean." I was in the glow of knowing she didn't think of anyone else. "You ever tell anyone--"

"Not happening, promise." I held her clothes, putting them against her side, leaving her in her blue hose. "How are you feeling?"

"Well, I can't feel past my waist, so I'm honestly and truly relaxed. You know how to give a massage very well, Par-Bear."

I blushed at her compliment, hoping this wouldn't be the last time this would occur. "I was scared I would be a stumbling mess."

"I'm the stumbling mess, promise." With the skirt dispensed with, I was ready for the next stage of this. Something I wanted to repeat. I didn't want this to be the last time, but there was still that small threat of it being so.

My eyes landed upon her ass, not bared because of the hose, but for the situation, enough for me. I had envied it from the moment she turned tail on me that first day, not knowing my attraction then but knowing that I was looking at it with regularity. She looked beautiful in that moment, not looking at me and concentrated in full on her pleasure.

Cautiously I let a couple of the fingers on my left hand run along her rear, starting at the small of her back, then along the curve on her left side. Testing, trying to figure out what brought her to a fulfilled state. She let out a slow moan and I let my fingernail indent, trying to stir myself up with the sound of the tightly-wound nylon denying me full contact. My body was already very tightly wound and I was doing all I could to deny myself any pleasure in this situation, just all about Rory.

"Yeah..." She was perfectly wound, closing her legs tighter as my fingertips bridged the gap mid-way down. I let myself get into a new circle rhythm, taking in her symmetrical curvature in an oval-like pattern. I could feel her trying but failing to get any kind of friction going as she began to involuntary grind against the desktop from this intimate touching. I then made a slight move just a bit lower, intending to tease.

It worked.

"Fuuuuuuck..." Oh, hearing my innocent Lorelai Leigh let out a long curse word just gives me enough pleasure alone, my eardrums perking at the draw-out and harsh fry in her voice. I wandered closer on my next pass, earning a harsh hiss.

"My oh my, Gilmore. Aren't we a little stressed?" Mmmm, I loved getting out the teasing voice, then letting my fingernail dip in along her ass between the nyloned bridge. "There isn't something you wanted me to do, is there?" I played with her a little more, my light yet still ragged voice in that tone I know she loathed in most circumstances. "Your clitoris must be pulsing with want right now, needing some kind of touch. But it can't have it in this position."


My fingernail dipped in deeper, moving ever south. I could barely make out the back of her mons betwixt her closed legs, and it taunted me. She spread out just a bit, and I could see that her puckered opening slowly blended into her perennial raphe. I knew it could be prominent, but that was rare, and to know my girlfriend had that feature gave me another hallmark into how she brought herself pleasure. Curiously, I padded my index finger against the very small flap of skin through the nylon.

She immediately pushed up, rising against me.

"Christ!" Another little circle. "Goddamn."

"So you do like that." Somehow there's no way else I can describe how I felt about this besides 'giddy'. "Is this why you enjoy your laundry days so much? You don't even need any frontal stimulation, do you? You can easily orgasm from either the back or the front." Another touch, another curse word. I continued to use my words to hit her pleasure points. "This is why you cum so much; you're very sensitive in so many ways." She pushed up suddenly; more cursing. "You love it when I make you cum, don't you?" I noticed a nod, a rushed 'mm-hmm'.

I wanted to learn more. "Have you ever imagined me from behind? Like I am right now? Teasing, testing, your body at full attention for me? When you've masturbated and got yourself all wound up in your room, have you slickened your fingers with your saliva and imagined me, grasping your backside as..."

I moved closer. "...I taste you. Drink you in. Let my tongue guide itself along your perineum, then up towards your clitoris. You get yourself so slick sometimes you must use two towels in bed beneath you, layered up. Sometimes that's not even enough and you've taken to having two spare sheet sets in the closet."

She winced upon the mention. "I gush so much," she said. "I'm gushing up right now." My fingertip continued to tease her perineum through the hose, getting close to the gusset protecting her modesty. "A couple of times...when I was at peak ovulation...I did wear a pad. Only for that. I hate pads but...I ruined panties as I teased you."

"You did now?" I draw out my words, loving this. "How badly?"

"I...I..." I could feel the edge of the hose gusset; it was absolutely dripping. "I tear them. I shove the material into me, imagining you so turned on you...don't even have time to rip them off. I haven't even needed a vibe; I don't need it at all. My fingers...your fingers...they're always good enough."

I pushed the gusset in with my fingertips; obvious wetness dripped down. "You've never used any toys at all. Never."

"Never. I honestly don't need them."

"Anything else? Lubricant?"

"A couple of times; I...I actually used it in Washington a couple times. Because it couldn't be traced to me. I rarely use it...I still have ¾ of a tube left."

I smiled. "Seems like you're moisturizing just fine." A pause. "Have you ever ruined hose after school?"

"As in?"

"Have you ever done this?" I dipped the edge of my fingernail against the wettened gusset, until I felt just enough pressure to let the thicker material give. "I've read some tales, you know. Some women do maintain some hosiery exclusively for dates and when they're feeling particularly frisky during the workday. It does have a certain modification because the adult stores, despite the lack of that material, decide to use that as a business opportunity and charge triple for a pair." The nail tried to find a snag, eventually getting that satisfying little drag. "And nobody is the wiser unless they're with you."

"I...I have ruined pairs." Rory wasn't playing innocent by any means. "I...when we were talking about that statistical project a couple months back? I could...smell you. Deeply. But you had an event to go to. So I could only call for project prep when I got home."

"Are you saying..."

"I did." I felt a rip; I was in. "I wasn't aware of my kink then. But after getting off the line...I was hot. I couldn't take it, rubbing my legs together without even being aware of it for twenty minutes. I needed release."

"How much?"

"So much! Oh, fucking A!" There was my finger making bare contact. "Finger-fucking to the thought of you...I locked the door, laid on a pillow to have something to fuck my fingers against and just had my way."

"You didn't want it to be your fingers, did you?" I took apart her argument. "It was the best available implement. You didn't even want my fingers. That was just what was on-hand, was it?" I began to separate the material, knowing her permission was granted the moment we decided to come up here. "No fingers...none. They're fun, but they aren't my tongue, are they?" She was silent as I found her clit, moving myself into position. "Those fingers can't know you like I can. You know me, and my word speed. You can't help but think about how you want to feel it within you, stirring you up, pushing you further. Making you see the entire galaxy as you faint in response to how you've been driven to an inch of your life."

Her breath quickened as the insinuation hit full-force. I knew how much she wanted this, that it had to be one of her fully-formed fantasies in the time she's held her infatuation with me. It was the simplest, the most primal one to be found. I broke apart the material more, careful to make sure none of the nylon ran so low to make the hosiery useless. I ripped apart the gusset until it was but a circle of fabric, outlining the prize.

Rory's lips were full, red and flush, her clitoris primed. I ran my finger alongside each portion of her labia, earning little yelps and mewls from her, teasing and hoping that she was fully receptive. I shook my head, wondering how I had gotten this far.

"You're sure you want this," I asked, making sure I had full consent to go forward. "I will stop anytime. I promise." Rory looked back, nodding her head, her innocent eyes assuring me that all I had done so far was completely welcomed.

"I...I'm sure," she assured. "I don't want to...lose you, but if this is the last time...I want to go out remembering this, forever."

I felt emotional, knowing that this might be our last time together. I put on a brave face despite the circumstances.

"You will," I said. Sliding my hands against her back I carefully bent in the chair towards her backside. I was still intent on denying my own pleasure, but Rory wasn't going to have any of that.

"Y'know if...if you feel like...rubbing against the desk or...your hand. I have...no problem with that. At all."

I shook my head. "But this is all for you--"

"It's for you too." A huff. "Now come on, less with the talking, more with the making me happy here."

I had to admit that brought a smile. "If you want us both happy, Gilmore, who am I to deny you that pleasure?" She turned back around, letting all her thoughts focus on nothing but the pleasure I was giving. I wound my tongue around my mouth in clockwise and counter-clockwise circles.

Stop thinking, my inner vixen scolded me. You are not going to talk through this or avert. You're getting her off orally and making this an afternoon to remember. Now shut up and just go with it.

"Okay." That was the final word. Rory's heady scent was at the forefront, luring me in, the glint of her flesh reflecting the spare light. I slowly slid my tongue out, hoping that I wasn't going to disappoint her. Plenty of reading on the subject came down to this moment.

That reading was useless. I needed to know by touch, taste and feel. I tore the hole a little bit more, careful not to cause a run. She lifted herself into the air, moving a little bit down and angling her body, forcing me to move with her. I didn't know what she was playing at as I found myself moving closer towards the desk, and more to the south until I could barely feel the edging of the desk.

Fuck, she is playing at exactly what she said. Rory moved herself on the desktop In such a way that I found the desk corner right exactly between my legs. She had trapped me in and the front of my skirt was the only thing between direct pressure against my clit through my underwear.

"You there, baby girl?"


"One of my intense dreams was of catching you in a classroom, like that. In the way you peeked in on Mom and Max, but they aren't there. It's just you, turned on, hot, rubbing yourself against a desk edge. And...and I don't know who you're fucking yourself too. Your blouse is open, you're fondling your breasts and eyes closed just focused on your orgasm and--"

I began to tighten up, the intensity of the imagery building me forward. I held up my hand, needing to focus on her and only her.

"Please...stop." Firm and pleading, I needed to remove my pleasure from the equation. "I love you...I love your thoughts and how your sexuality is blossoming around me, Gilmore. But I want to do this for you. I want to." I was shaking, knowing I couldn't see her eye to eye but hoping I made clear what I wanted this to lead to. "And yes...yes, I'm feeling so damned turned on from all of this. But this might be the last time we can do anything. Ever. If Sharon gets me--"

"She's not."

"But the chance is still there." My hands caressed the back of her legs. "I love your intense imagination but I need you to give me this. Please. I'm too overwhelmed by everything and--"

Suddenly she began to turn around, and I had to pull my hands from her legs. I didn't know what was happening before unexpectedly, we were face to face.

"Paris." Rory stared at me, in deep concern, her face and body flush as she took a sitting position on the desk.

"No, Rory, we need to stick to the--" She put a finger to my lips, but I stayed persistent. "Rory, don't you--"

"I'm here, with you," she whispered, her deep eyes questioning and completely enchanted by the sight of me. "And you are in an alarm of all of these thoughts, of too many distractions." A soft sigh. "I want you to relax."

I felt panicked, trying to turn things back towards what I thought we wanted. "I am relaxed, honest. I--"

"Paris, I know your heart. How you feel." She slid around the desk, only in pantyhose and opened her legs, beckoning me close. She brushed a stray few hairs from in front of my left eye. "And I am so turned on right now from your words, your touch and your actions. But my mind has been going too. About Sharon, about how this is the last time we could be possibly together and we want to bring it back to before the night of the dance marathon, when our want for each other wasn't known. When I could only express it in the most innocent of ways."

I tried to look down, but the moment I did, I found myself taking in a droplet landing on the desk. I looked up to see if it was from perspiration.

The sight in front of me was stunning. My amazing love and partner in all aspects, was in tears. Crying. She let her emotions fall into her words as she took my hand into hers.

"You know why I share how I think of you? Of how it builds up inside of me and I can't hold...hold it in any longer?"

My mind knew where this was going. Exactly. I had been holding it in denial, wanting to have a perfect fantasy fulfilled. I wanted to help Rory, while trying not to put too much hope in myself.

"Par." She barely could let out the shortened portion of my name. "I loved the massage. Every single thing about it, and I cannot forget this afternoon, and I won't. But..."

She took my other hand. Her hands clenched deeply into mine, and here I was, facing her, knowing what was next. Her breaths were shaky, and I shook my head, beginning to feel the emotions warring within me.

"I...I...I love that I can be with you. That it's not me projecting love that I don't think you return. Sitting in a desk, knowing well I can't do anything be..because I'm scared, and you are too." She paused to build her courage further.

"And honestly, I think the return of the massage?" I nodded. "It was all I needed. The only thing. That was all because...." with tightly closed eyes, she let the words spill forth.

"I...I...I want to see you. Because this is us. The right now. Not...the past. We're...we're not two people...hiding their love away any longer. We aren't hiding it in a massage or flirting or little touches we hope register, but not too much because we're fucking scared. I..." She kept crying, tears falling freely. "I don't want to lose you, Paris Eustace Gellar. I don't want to lose you. I don't want to have you turn your back on me again, and in that moment, I just...I...I..." I clench my fists tighter within Rory's grasp. "Our reality is here...right here." She pulled her right hand free, clutching it against her chest. "I haven't felt a range of emotions in all of my life as I have the last four days. I have never felt like harming another soul, but I have now. I feel protective and loving and...I cannot fathom if that bitch takes you away from me, from Chilton, from Connecticut, what I would do. And if she does...I don't want your last image of me being that I'm some kind of freak."

"Oh, God, Rory--" I clenched at the thought. "You're not--"

"The past is the past," she reminded me. "Our flirting in RN? It was the past. We left it behind yesterday. I...I never want either of us to do that again. To have to be stuck daydreaming."

I tried to understand the point she was making, and I grew emotional, still quiet, but responding. "I wasn't able to face you any of that time, or even allude to my feelings." She pushed closer, and I could feel her again taking my other hand, moving me towards the desktop. "And I was fine with that, honest--"

"We both know we were not OK," she said, shaking her head. "We have been moving towards this since Hillside and...it's not silly. It's not experimentation. It can't be, and it won't be, and..." Her gaze held mine. "I want to see you when we're together. I...I tried. But I failed." She pulled again, and I knew fighting about this wasn't a choice. I picked up my uninjured leg, sliding it onto the desktop. Slowly I maneuvered the injured one up, careful to not inflame anything. She moved her hand atop of my back, pulling me closer until finally I was laying on top of her, my legs open between hers.

"I used to dream of doing unhidden and unnoticed things to you," she said, as her fingers played with strands of my hair. "I thought you were untouchable, an ice queen. But the last month has broken that, because you're an amazing and full-hearted woman. And I guess my fantasy about overwhelming you from behind unaware, it was in there. As a fantasy. Not as a reality, because you're here. You're my girlfriend and..." She shook her head. "God, you think I'm crazy."

I sighed deeply; for all I put myself down at times Rory has a long habit of doing it herself. I smiled, just running my fingers along her bared side. "Well, we're both in therapy now. Peas in a pod." I laughed. "So...you want to see me, don't you? This is what it comes down to. I'm no longer faceless or just a built figure in your mind to think about and be in lust with. I'm yours and I'm real, and we're sharing dreams, good and bad. Where we started from, in those desks, that's distant for you."

"That's a good way to put it. Yeah." She looked off to the side, and then back up to me, pulling me closer. "I...I didn't--"

"You didn't. Not at all." My left leg rested between hers as I found a better position, while my hand was moving lower. "Nothing was ruined. I...I guess we put too much into this, that's it. And honestly, if this is our last time, this is how I'd want it, to be honest. Up close, not trying to figure out certain gymnastics to find our culmination." I let out a nervous laugh, only for it to be frozen as Rory's lips suddenly found mine to bring me into a lingering and damp kiss. There was no notice or ceremony and I just fell into it without feeling any guilt. We tangled up a little, my hand finding the curve of her ass, only breaking apart when I felt a sudden twinge in the injured foot. I lifted away as she was fully and completely winded, and smiling happily.

I shook my head, knowing the exact reason for the sudden kiss. "It was that sentence, wasn't it?" She let a chortle and bit her lip.

"What can I say? Your use of the English language is a turn-on." I repositioned myself and my foot before coming back down. "Not weird?"

"Downright normal." I smiled, and closed my lips back onto hers, beginning to work anew towards the said culmination. We slid towards the middle of the desk, just touching and exploring without any of the games or ceremony of earlier. Everything was out on the table and this felt more natural, less artificial. Fewer words were exchanged as I allowed her to view my sexual handiwork anew, moving down from her lips, along her throat and along her clavicle until I was at her breast. My fingers found her plumped labia, still primed, still wet, and I stroked them and her clitoris stiff again. I loved the feel, the need, the heat she was expressing as she propped herself on her arms to welcome me.

This was a much more natural rhythm for me, her wording short and whispered to encourage me. The buildup of the previous tease was there, but everything was laid out on the table; natural affection worked, while we still needed time to work on playing out fantasies. Today, a critical day in my lifetime, was not that day. And that was just fine.

I kissed down, along her breasts, especially on the underside, with her gasps encouraging me further on, then along her navel, the limitless skin between there and her center seeming like a long line and broken by the waistband of the hose. I teasingly tugged at the band with my teeth, just enough to scrape them along her flesh too.

She loves that, it seems. I tested out with the softest of presses of both rows of my teeth along her belly.

"Oh, fuck!" She involuntarily closed her legs slightly. "Warn me, damn it...oh God." I looked up, my eyes wide.

"We are going to play with that more...eventually." I then moved my focus back down, kissing, licking and scraping her midsection as I could sense her scent and detect the change from dry to wet. The dampness, the heat, it drew me towards her center. The thinnest of hairs guiding me past the untorn section of hose, towards where the gusset used to be.

I could sense it merely by touch, not even a glance. Her intimacy, full and open, framed by growth which was managed enough but not to the point of obsessiveness. It was her. I kept my eyes up her body, making sure that she was good with this. That she was receptive.

The touch of fingers upon the nape of my neck helped give me the guidance that this was all true. No more words between us. Just the actions we shared. Of finding each other in a world my mother wanted to splinter apart from us. I wasn't going to Maine. I wanted to be right here, in this room, with this woman, forever.

Soon I was inhaling her musk, deeply personal, just her. She opened her legs to me, the glint of wetness within the confined space of the ruined gusset very obvious. On my own I felt myself compressing, closing my legs together and trying to build up just enough friction, just wanting a little ride-out while I fulfilled her. Her fingers smoothed along my scalp as I tested with lips, tongue and the slightest bit of teeth. She was deeply swollen, so ready for me, and I could feel the heat along her flesh. I grasped her at her sides, circling my hands around her hips until I worked them into the hose so I could take her at each side of her ass.

This is what we both needed, what we desired. Not a built up play scenario, but just the both of us, together. Heat, dampness, need. My heart filled with love for this woman who was defending me against the worst threat of my life. Dampened hair, red lips, my focus completely on nothing but her and making her happy.

The thought caught a snag. I'm making her happy. Nobody else. I was becoming her drive, helping her discover herself as a woman. It wasn't going to be anybody else. I no longer have to side-eye a boy that I think is treating her wrong. She is mine, and her love for me is so overwhelming and passionate that it's dropping her walls. Building her fight.

And she was hoarsely asking for me to fuck her. I still can't get over her throwing profanity all over the place and it just triggers a pleasure point in me. I comply, my hands securely grasping her as I look above to see fingers circling her nipples, moving out to her sides, and back again. Her head, thrown back.

I'm doing this. I was giving her this memory. Her voice guiding me as I worked her folds, felt her slickness increase. She's solely focused on this, along with me. I needed to make her feel like jelly for the rest of the day.

I needed her to forget that up north, my fate was in the hands of a judge. I tore the hole further, looking down, seeing long runs down to her shin in what remained of the nylon. "God, I love that noise," she admitted before letting out another profane word. She opened her legs slightly more to hasten the destruction and the sound was driving me further.

Circling her clitoris, I knew I wanted her ruined. To smell so fucked there was no choice but to take a shower before class. My tongue enjoys how she feels. How she tastes and what happens when I hit that right point. I dare to move lower, flirting with her perineum at a few points. That brings out harsh and raw words from her, but she's not telling me to stop. She wants more of it, willingly. Her gasps sharpen, voice getting gravely, and I can tell we're both being intense here, fully living this moment like it is our last before we must part.

We don't want that. But it could happen. I moved up again as she gets close. She pushed up against the desktop, leaned back on her arms. I looked up, finding her fully aroused, nipples completely out, hair a mess. It's like our deepest dreams, but made real. By now the gusset rip is at the waistband, tangles of material making Rory's legs look like she's in a bad teen magazine with awful photographers showing off 'weathered' legwear that some label wants you to pay $900 for. My own friction is non-existent and I can feel myself so slick in a way I could never imagine myself getting to.

I hate to be crass here, but I relish eating Rory out. I love how she gets turned on by me manipulating it, be it through getting sultry with my words, or physically. I love feeling that slickness on my chin, her arousal dripping on my lips. That need she feels for me, manifesting in a completely liquid manner, it's what I want. It's a powerful feeling, knowing I can make her cower with my touch, yet knowing she probably gets the same way when she's willing to take my own cunt. It's a give and take that's grown powerful, and I feel her voice become hoarser.

"I better come soon...can't hold...back!" She implored me to bring her to the point. My lips, mouth and teeth work her as I sensed the surface beneath us slick with sweat and arousal. I dipped two fingers in beneath my panties, gasping as I felt the cotton was soaked through. I was a bit mortified but worked through it; I could deal with that later. Rory was the priority now, along with a possible last memory.

I wanted this to happen, and I put my full concentration on the task like I was graded on it. I couldn't fail; if I did I would feel like a terrible hostess. I knew it was coming, I could feel it. I hurriedly stroked myself just to hasten past my own pleasure. I knew I was working of adrenaline and when it was all over, I'd be suffering a bit of pain in my leg. Her pants, increasing in speed, voice growing higher, begging me to finish her off.

"Fuck...come on...get me...over. Make me...foam!" My tongue worked as fast as it could, finding the perfect pace of circling her clit. Counter-clockwise, then clockwise, with an occasional cardinal direction swipe here and there, I did it all. Back down towards her perineum, then back up. The temptation grew to feel out where I knew I was forbidden. I would come back to that one day; it's enough we got the 'lunar time' subject out of the way. My hands, grasping her hips, keeping her as still as possible. I was putting my all into this, no matter what.

I didn't think this would ever end. That eventually I'd tire of it. I didn't want to. I couldn't. Looking up towards her, completely in a trance, that drive. The intense look I knew where nothing but her come was in mind at the moment. Almost there.

The next few minutes are a blur as I dared to circle a finger along that sensitive line below, to give her all the pressure she craved. She wanted to come and she was just about there. My other hand, just all the way in. No ceremony, just driven by this so badly that I didn't need much of a push to spill over.

I began to feel the tightening and the need. She was just about to. The room echoed with her screams, not enough to make anyone think they needed to check this room, but enough for a ruckus. Her taste was growing headier, deeply personal. I put on the full press, getting her over as she stopped supporting herself with her arms, inelegantly thudding onto the desktop before grasping my head with her right hand and helping guide my mouth where it needed to be. Her other hand felt up her breast, a purposeful gasp each time she felt or grasped it. Her grunts grew louder; I needed this, she needed this, everybody needed this to happen.

Within the space of a minute, she pushed herself, and that was it. She spilled over, biting on her lip as she rode it through. I kept working my tongue as she mixed my name with God's and I had my own little spillover, a bit more contained, but just as fulfilling. She almost pulled my hair too tight and I had to reel back a small bit, but this is what we both wanted. It was full, intense, completely loving. I felt her ride out something deeply needed, connecting. The both of us just felt that relaxation and release we had craved for the last few days as for a moment, we could forget the scarring world around us.

The only thing important in that moment was the both of us. I was completely dampened and ruined, Rory even worse. I was down her until she cursed out loud, the oversensitive nature of her nerves finally getting the best of her. I moved away, sliding myself up her taller body until we met eye to eye. She was breathing in small spurts, trying to settle her lungs back to normalcy. Everything felt intense in that moment to her, and the rise and fall of her chest was palpable. This was intense, completely personal, and most of all, important.

We both needed this moment. I brought my mouth against hers, sharing a deep and connecting kiss, her taste shared between us. I'm needy for her to remain in my life, so we can continue to share this unexpected connection we never expected to have. But my emotions were a jumble, so within the kiss, I began to let my guard down.

Crying, I knew that if this was our last moment, it was worth it. That we would sear into our individual brains that we were not going to forget this moment. She began to cry with me and we slid into sitting positions. I barely felt any pain in my foot or legs, and my body granted me the mercy of refusing to let my pain neurons interfere, releasing adrenaline to keep the focus on the comedown.

Rory's eyes were intense, her blush deep, and she pressed herself against me, wanting that body-to-body contact before we had to part. In that room, on that desk, that was all we needed, this time before the world either let us go or would let its cruelty be known. I settled against her, my thoughts weighing heavily that I wanted more than this. I loved being intense with her. I cannot let this relationship go without a fight.

The both of us, we're united. We must be. There can't be a parting this afternoon, and my prayers of not going back to the Manor with Sharon have to be answered. We're wordless for another few minutes, except for a glance at the clock assuring us that Rory would have time for a shower and that her habit of having an emergency pair of hose in her bag in case of a run was justified. A few more kisses, some more touching. Just the slightest bit of a hand running beneath my shirt on the sly, Rory's eyes suggesting that even with our physicality, she has no intentions of stopping her little flittering touches and disturbing of my undergarments beneath them, and her fingers freely take in my bra band

I welcome that whole-heartedly. Except while driving. Or in front of Charleston and our parents. Some limits must be set.

And then, finally, she speaks. She smiles at me, after letting a deep sigh, bites down on her lip and...

She stared directly at me, eye to eye. Let out a little laugh.

"I didn't even know that was a fantasy." That voice is set to fully innocent. "And I did expect them off." A shake of her head. "Not even one thought of removing them, huh?"

I shook my head, what was she going on about. "Removing?"

Another laugh. "You don't even know? Wow, our minds did short circuit." She reached out and...

A small touch to the right temple...

...of my eyeglasses.

I knew then. My eyes widened, realizing that I was so intense that I hadn't even spared a moment to remove my glasses. Even as I knew wearing them and contacts might leave me with a headache, but that wasn't even paramount in my mind. Without a thought, Rory took them at my right side, lifted them from my face, and slid them off, before folding them closed and setting them to the side.

I could only shake my head and curl up my lip slightly as I didn't even give a thought to the fact I went down on Rory while wearing my glasses. She hummed, finding the case in my messenger bag, opening it, and gingerly placing my glasses back into it before closing it softly and carefully and putting it back in.

I'm telling you, this girl is enough to scramble my brain sometimes. With this confidence knowing she was the one driving this relationship towards an intensity we never thought we'd hit, she took the lead, still looking luminous even without any clothes on above her waist and completely ravaged legwear. Rory moved back towards me, letting out a small murmur of thanks before laying the smallest and cutest of kisses upon my lips. I shook my head and gestured slightly, annoyed with myself slightly that I definitely wasn't following my eyewear manufacturer's guidelines, yet...

"I could have removed them," I rationalized, trying to make it look like I intended for it to happen. "But then, you would have been disappointed, Gilmore."

"Sure, I totally believe that." She winked back and looked down. "Just like I thought you wouldn't rend my hose so badly this morning when I slid them on...as I pre-soaked the crotch while waiting for you to change."

I couldn't believe it. "Oh, you didn't--"

"I did. I knew if I didn't get you alone today, I was going to go mad." She clicked her tongue, and did a purposeful hair toss. "I released pheromones I knew you were gonna pounce on eventually. It wasn't a matter of if, but just when in that quiet study room you were going to finally act. Basic human sexuality and attraction, my fair friend."

I looked down at my lap, just taking in that she knew I'd more than massage her. "I knew the moment you had the hose on, Ror."

"Oh, you didn't," she retorted. "I know you're frustrated when I wear hose. But now?" She began to slide them off. "You'll be more than that. I predict that from this point on you're just going to take one look at my legs and that spark will hit. The spark that we came up here and you went down on me in glasses and tore up my hose. That at your heart, even as cultured as you are, you are a primal being who loves sex, and especially giving it."

She was now bare-legged, and completely nude. She didn't even give one thought to her state of undress, standing there and beginning to turn the tables on my WPM getting her hot and bothered. "You see me as innocent, a completely open book, and I bet when we were still dreaming this would never come true, you were sleeping deep and thinking of me in ways you'd never admit. That you wanted me damp, undone, completely at your mercy. I know I've thought the same of you. But the thing is, we would never admit it, would we, Paris? We thought of ourselves in the purest and most demure manners when we were awake, but once we fell asleep, that wasn't happening, was it?"

Slowly, Rory approached me as I slipped my damp underwear off and into my bag. I was still as she handed me the soaked ball of nylon to put in. She invaded my space, as I nodded in affirmation that whatever thoughts I had of her were likely much less controlled within my dreams.



A small pause. And then...

"Whatever happens with Sharon? I'm standing my ground and we're staying together. I promise you now; this is not going to be our last time." She was completely stern, almost hitting the same tone of voice Ms. Peters did when she was pissed. "If I lose you, I will never forgive myself if I don't fight to keep you mine. Because I still have so many things I want with you. Some of them completely innocent...and others? You're going to be shocked."

I kept neutral, challenging her to name something. "Am I? Name one thing?"

With a nod, and so close I could taste her, she answered.

"Like I said, we will eventually get intimate even if I am going through the curse of Mother Nature towards women. But...I felt that little graze of your tongue earlier. You didn't want to mention it. I know you're playing with your kinks. You probably didn't even realize it."


"I love the feeling of you eating me out. But just that little bit of anal stimulation? Only a small bit? That worked, so well. I want more."

My mouth dropped. I barely grazed the pucker, but it was all she needed. She grabbed her bra, shirt and skirt from the end of the desk and that innocent smile of hers suddenly seemed to be sexually sinister.

Mind you that I was still hung up on her first sentence there, but the further insinuation pushed me into an overdrive. I wrinkled my eyes together and sighed, giving off the smallest of smiles as I took her in. There was quiet as I watched her dress, just taking in the moment and all of her words. Unrolling her extra hose from the backpack, sitting on the edge of the desk and sliding them on, leg by leg, then onto her bra. I just wanted to take this in, treasuring this small moment before we learned our fates as great sex turned into a battle of sensual glances. Her knowing that I was having to retrieve my spare underwear from my locker. My knowing that I had defiled one of my most private places in this school I know so well. I then took out my smaller hairbrush and ran it through my hair, hoping I looked unaffected by this lunch period hooky.

Soon, she was fully dressed, looking rather unaffected from three minutes before being completely ravished. Rory then approached me and just kept her glance on me in a manner which had me a bit unnerved, but kept all my attention. She took my hand and helped me off the desk as I finished gathering everything back up. I felt my foot stiffen as I let it settle back to the ground. Neither of us had spoken since her admission, and as I took an offered crutch and slipped it back beneath my arm, I was still in awe.

We had done this. Our fantasy was fulfilled another way, but we had shared a moment neither of us would never forget. We remained oddly quiet getting into the elevator and making our way to the locker room so she could shower before lunch's end. II eventually put my glasses away and distracted myself with biology reading while she showered, fully and utterly satisfied and not needing anything more for the moment, sealing everything up as I was content and in clean undergarments once again, thankfully. We didn't dare say a word, afraid that some wayward student would know we came from a liaison not involving lunch. It was odd that we didn't have to speak a word and she came out of the changing area, the only sign she might have done something unusual for her during the lunch hour being dampened hair, easily explained with the excuse that the school heat kicked in hotter than usual and she needed to cool down and clean up during the period and had me accompany her as a lookout. It had all gone well.

Finally, we were both out of the locker room and in the commons outside the dining hall, looking at everyone beginning to stream back in from either there or an outside lunch. For all anyone knew we had just had Wendy's off-campus, so there was no way we'd be caught. Before we had to blend in the crowd and head off to our separate classes, we took one last glance at each other, wondering when the call about my custody hearing would come. If it would come early, or if biology would become the ultimate goodbye. We both finally spoke, hoping for the best.

"Hopefully it all goes well," I said, hopes held high. She looked down at me, wrapping her right index finger comfortably around my left thumb. "I don't--"

"We won't, Paris. I mean it." Her blue eyes held so much hope for the future, and I could tell she didn't want it to be broken. "If this is it, we went out well. But it won't be. I won't let it." She bent down, softly brushing the shell of my ear with her lips.

"I love you. And I'm not letting go. Especially when you eventually have to turn the tables on me after our little adventure upstairs." I was stilled as she let her voice husk in a way that was so unlike her, I felt tingling along my back and into my lungs.

"You've left an ever-fixed mark upon me, Gellar. And now..." A pause. Then, the slightest little flick of the shell of my earlobe with my tongue.

"You've fulfilled your threat of going down on me from a couple years ago. Thus, I shall go down on you." She left a small puff of air along my ear as she pulled away, and I felt weak in the knees, recalling the bench all over again. How former threats were now full overtures of love.

And how I had fatally realized that Sonnet 116 was not a threat to her, but now one of the earliest interludes of our flirting. Pulling away, she gave off an innocent smile, as if we hadn't just fucked on a desk fifteen minutes before.

"See you in biology, Paris!" And then just like that, she was far away, leaving it light. A promise that despite all that was going on in downtown Hartford, we still had one last meeting today, a fear that it would be our last still hanging in the air.

I lifted my arm, letting off a little wave and a shy "Bye!" as I watched her depart. Bringing my mind back to an academic focus mixed with that of the anxiety of my fate for the next week awaiting, I have to hold out that everything will be OK. That I have advocates helping Rory and I to lead our lives as we do.

That Sharon can't win. I can't let her win. But it's out of my hands. My fate is in the hands of an attorney who could be intimidated by my mother's awful asshole of a lawyer.

But I can't let those thoughts win. I'm going to stay independent. In Stars Hollow. With Rory. Without the threat of my light being extinguished by Sharon.

It's time to block those thoughts and bring myself into thinking of the next class. I'm not going to let her get to me, because Rory has shown me that I must keep it together. To be who I want to be.

To be her beloved.

These next three hours may have me jubilant or reaching the lowest of lows. We will just have to see where the court ends up taking us.

Hopefully not as fugitives...

Lorelai's POV, 2:20 p.m.

I don't think I've been a part of a more nervous group of people in my life than I did today. I was a bit nervous, but I had reason to relax a little since Paris had no connection to me at all besides being my daughter's girlfriend.

For Harold and Fran though? Much different. As I had a small pub burger with fries at lunch, they barely were able to touch their own food. Harold looked at his turkey on rye as if it was going to jump off the plate and scream at him to eat it, while Paris's nanny couldn't bear to touch her salad. It was melancholy, and I knew I couldn't say it was going to be OK, because I wasn't even certain that was the case.

I kept picturing Judge Gray in her chambers weighing all the evidence and the testimony presented. I didn't envy her job of having to come into family court daily and trying to figure out who was right or who was wrong, and that's simplifying it; there's too many shades of gray to even say there is a right or wrong. Among the four of us, only Elisa and I ate lunch, really, and even she was iffy on whether she put on the best defense for Paris. All the anxiety was there, and as we streamed back into the courtroom, we could only hope for the best out of the decision.

It was an outcome Hampton was sure would go his way. He was already at his desk with Sharon, giving off a smug look towards Elisa and Harold that said he definitely had this in the bag. For all we knew that happened to be a money bag thrown at Judge Gray to make sure Sharon got custody. Dr. Birnbaum could only assure us she knew Paris would know how to cope, no matter how the decision went.

I hated this, the waiting. Along with the dread, I just felt a prickle against my heart that I wanted pulled out from me. A week ago I didn't even picture myself here, but alas, Mrs. Gellar decided this was the way she would react, and damned if I was going to have Paris go back to her without a fight.

Soon though, the journey began its end with the entrance of the court officer and his call for all of us to rise as Judge Gray re-entered the spare chambers with a neutral gaze in our directions, then a call to sit down. In a few minutes I was either going to be thankful for this woman's impartiality, or else she was going to be the most myopic woman I've ever known. Harold and Elisa gave me an assured glance, followed by Francisca, as the Hartford and Stars Hollow police officers and doctors sat in the gallery, hoping for the best.

Strange of course, how none of Sharon's friends were offering the same support on her side of the courtroom, which was completely empty. I closed my eyes, deciding that giving any glance towards Judge Gray would somehow curse her towards suddenly giving Paris back to Sharon.

"I have had a chance to look over everything," she said with a light flourish. "As requested, I have been able to look at the case files, police reports and as requested, the divorce settlement, along with the testimony presented."

I said a silent prayer for Paris as she continued. "I have considered this case very carefully, especially considering the status of the subject as having her birthday next Wednesday. This means that any finding of the State rendered today would be merely temporary in the eyes of the common man; as of 12:01 a.m. next Wednesday, this court no longer has any standing as to how Paris Gellar conducts her life. I have taken that into account in my findings."

She continued on. "I know that the court is to be impartial, in order to render a decision that is in the best interests in the child. In doing so, we are expected to make sure the child is safe, no matter the decision rendered. The safety of the subject is paramount over anything involving the parents or guardians of the child. However, we must also take in mind how the child behaves, and in this case, we have a child with no records or dealings with the authorities, outside of an odd uncharged school break-in merely influenced by peer pressure and fitting in to some sorority thing. A young woman who is at the top of her class, and bound for an Ivy League college, and who has the mental maturity that definitely goes beyond her seventeen years and 357-ish days since her birth.

"Mrs. Gellar. I have read through your petition, along with the divorce settlement presented by your lawyer, and I am left with many questions. The first is, why would you bring yourself into direct conflict with your daughter like that? Or even more, why hire a private investigator to follow your daughter?" I still had my eyes closed, but followed the raising inflection of her voice. "Frankly if Paris had discovered that investigator following her before you revealed he was...I would be appalled. You could have easily asked your daughter what was going on. Just a simple question. Or sat on what you thought and let her tell you. Instead, you violated her privacy and turned what should have been a moment where you could have proved to be an accepting parent into a combative situation, where it should have never been so.

"What is worse though, is that what is in this divorce agreement, which limits how your former husband can live his life?" A pause, as she thumped her finger against the agreement paperwork. "This should have been struck by the presiding judge in your divorce proceedings with prejudice. It cannot be enforced. Mr. Gellar has half-custody of Paris, without restriction, but this agreement made a tatters of that, effectively restricting him to certain nights at your whim and forcing him to purchase a dwelling which restricted him from being able to carry out that half-custody by decreeing he can only have one bedroom until Paris turns eighteen. As of this point, it is the court's finding that the custody agreement between Sharon and Harold Gellar is unenforceable. Although I am not privy to how exactly custody was split, I am finding that restricting Harold's access to Paris by effectively making it so she only could sleep on a couch during his time with her created an environment where she couldn't spend half her time with her father, even if she wanted to. With only a week to go this is pretty much only a ruling for the record than in practice, but the court finds that the original half-custody agreement is enforceable and overrules any secondary agreements made in the settlement."

I began to open my eyes, turning towards Sharon, who scowled at the judge. Hampton wasn't looking too pleased with himself either. I moved my focus towards the judge to hear the rest of the ruling.

"As to the disposition of whether Paris should go home to you Mrs. Gellar...pardon me for departing from protocol here, but...are you seriously petitioning the court to force your daughter back into a situation where she was harmed? Where you physically assaulted her?" The tone of her voice turned grave, and her glare was icy, eyes dead-set on Sharon and Hampton. "That you would even think the court would entertain the possibility that after you nearly killed your daughter on Saturday morning and jailed you for her protection, would allow you to resume your life as if nothing happened, that you did not choke her? Or put her in crutches, along with attempting to go for the gun of an officer of the law?"

"Fuck." I mouthed the word; I didn't even know Sharon had attempted that, and it was news to Harold too as he was in stunned shock. "That detail was placed in the report and corroborated by Paris's nanny yesterday when she finally felt comfortable to give an interview, and confirmed by the officer. This was after Mr. Hampton's underlings tried to chill Mrs. Regaldo by threatening her with deportation, despite being a United States citizen for five years. I did not state all that until now because I knew it might cause Mr. Gellar to become angry and it was a small detail since you were subdued far before you could go for the officer's belt. But it was apparent enough through that and your attempt to assault Ms. Gilmore last night that if I do allow you to regain primary custody, forget the voters. Forget the judiciary board. Or my family. I would not be able to look myself in the mirror any longer, knowing I sent a young woman back to someone who hurt her through words and actions, and put her at a high chance of being harmed again...or worse."

Then, she delivered the hammer. "Mr. Hampton, that you would even take up this petition and force the State through this farce of a proceeding is not only absurd, but as someone who takes the law seriously, offensive." She glowered at him as if he was absolute scum. "Reading through that divorce settlement, it is clear that the judge who presided over it let other influences blind their judgement, and I feel like you were part of that. I cannot do anything besides nullify the non-enforceable living arrangements, but I can assure you, that the state bar will be looking into your conduct, and that of the judge presiding over the agreement. Especially your character attacks on Ms. Gilmore this afternoon, which were not only completely uncalled for, but which a damned Criminal Law 101 student would never even try to pull off." I admit I kind of swooned as she not only put a sneer into that statement, but a pound on her desk with an open palm for added emphasis. "The court is offended by your actions, Mr. Hampton, and let it be known you have harmed your client by attempting to abuse the justice system in order to get your way."

Back to Sharon, and she was pissed. "The finding of this court is that Harold Lawrence Gellar is awarded full custody of his daughter, Paris Eustace Gellar, and because of the circumstances presented, his current arrangement for Lorelai Victoria Gilmore to be Paris's guardian is now as her legal guardian in his place for the remaining days until next Wednesday. The court, in good conscience cannot place Paris Gellar back into the custody of Sharon Gellar, and fears that harm will come to the minor subject if Mrs. Gellar is in her presence. It is so ordered that there will be an order of protection, effective immediately, for several subjects in this case. Mrs. Gellar, you are not to come within 1,000 feet of Paris, nor of her friends, Lorelai Leigh Gilmore, Louise Shelby Grant and Madeline Linda Lynn, and once you depart this courthouse, that distance will also go into effect for Lorelai Victoria Gilmore and Harold Gellar; the latter being out of a fear you will retaliate against those two.. This also applies to electronic contact via e-mail, telephone and text messaging, along with written letters through either the mail or any kind of messenger through a no-contact order.

"It is also so ordered by the concern of Taylor Archibald Doose, a selectman for the town of Stars Hollow, that you will not be within a mile of town limits, or face immediate arrest for trespassing. Finally, Hanlon Darroch Charleston, the headmaster of Chilton Academy also presented the same concerns for his institution, and you are not to be 500 feet within the limits of the Chilton campus or any off-campus event with anyone I've mentioned participating.. These restrictions will remain in place even past next Wednesday, for the next three months, and may be extended upon my review."

I could see Sharon grow angry, having to ball up a whole bunch of rage. None of us were being real jubilant (OK, I was banking Taylor's middle name, you really think I'm passing that fun up?); this wasn't what we wanted at all going into Saturday morning, but it was the only thing that the judge could do.

"Finally, because of the financial hardship you put upon the respondents to this petition of custody, the plaintiff is ordered to pay all of the defendants in the case, including those who testified today, salaries lost to respond to this petition, along with all court costs and attorney's fees for the defendants. Clearly, this young woman had enough support where they all responded, despite this proceeding taking away a much- needed work day they critically needed before the holidays. Finally, the petition for full custody by Sharon Gellar, notwithstanding the previous rulings, is dismissed, with prejudice. Any attempt to appeal this ruling will be denied."

And this was it; finally, we could all relax. "It is so ordered, and this ruling is final." She struck the mallet with her gavel with strong force, and I could seriously hug this woman if I wanted to! "We are adjourned."

That would be it, if this were a world where we expected Sharon to just accept the ruling and leave peacefully.

Of course, this is Sharon we're talking about. She rose out of her seat, throwing back her chair against the bar behind her, and immediately stating what she thought of Judge Gray's ruling,

"You fucking bitch! Impartial judge, my ass!" Hampton attempted to control her, to no avail.

Judge Gray hadn't left her seat yet thankfully, so about seven feet of oak bench stood between her and Sharon. She pounded the gavel with force. "Mrs. Gellar! I am only going to say this once; one more word towards me, and I will find you in contempt. You will also find yourself in jail once again, but since it would be a repeat offense atop your charges from Saturday and the hold last night in Stars Hollow, you will be held through the holidays. You will also face travel restrictions and I'm going to just fathom a guess that you'll probably have to give up your passport, which I know you're treasuring like fine china to keep and you should be lucky I did not restrict despite thoughts of doing so. The lack of respect you have shown the court is offensive and if I were you, I would now leave the courthouse quietly." A firm pause. "Mr. Hampton, let's actually control your client. The ruling is final."

The tall court officer quickly moved from his position next to the court reporter, ready to intervene if Sharon attempted to rush the room. He glanced nervously around the room; everyone on our side of the room stayed seated. Again, Hampton rushed out advice to Sharon for her to stay quiet.

This time, Sharon took the threats seriously. She gathered her papers and coat, Hampton gathered up his briefcase, and with a firm glare directed in our side of the courtroom, both left in a flourish, to everyone's relief. No further words were dropped and the pneumatic door in the back of the courtroom closed with a thankful and peaceful tap against the frame.

Judge Gray let out a relieved breath and smiled at her court officer. "Thanks, Bruce. I'm glad you didn't need to go against that scrawny lawyer; just would have been embarrassing." The joke was definitely needed and all of us laughed as she turned to us. "If there isn't anything else, we are adjourned, and I hope you all, along with Paris, have a wonderful holiday." One more gavel tap, and that was it. Francisca immediately went for Harold, who brought her into a much-needed hug, and I turned to Elisa, looking shocked, as if she had just slayed a giant.

"Apologies for my language, but...holy shit. We toppled Hampton. The bar's wanted to go after his ass for years but the judges upstairs bowed to him as a state legal legend. Amy Gray though...she's never been swayed." I felt excited that this case really helped the self-confidence of this woman, and I hugged her gladly.

"Thank you, Elisa. Thanks so much; I was scared of what would happen if it went the other way." I was emotional, and this is all I wanted, the assurance that I did nothing wrong. And now I legally could protect Paris from Sharon.

Legally. To be thankful that the state is seeing it fit that I can protect her until next Wednesday, you don't know how goddamned grateful I am to that woman up there for seeing through Sharon's charade.

Harold and Francisca broke apart, and his attention shifted towards Elisa and I. "Thank you for your incredible patience about all of this, and coming through on such short notice."

"Absolutely not a problem, Mr. Gellar." Elisa was relieved to get through all of this. "If it wasn't for Lorelai's testimony though, I don't know what would have happened." She nodded at me. "I swear I saw you scheming to injure Hampton while he grilled you up there."

"Considered, but shoved off; let the bar at him," I proclaimed with a smile. I then turned my attention towards Harold. "Thanks, Harold; you're a good man sticking by Paris like this."

"Anything for my Sweet Pea." His eyes lit up. "Although now that we have this sealed, I have a big favor to ask you."

"Name it." He moved close to whisper in my ear for a long minute. Certainly, I'm not going to repeat what he asked of me, but I'm really excited about what he is asking.

"Oh God, of course! I can definitely make that happen." I'm giddy about the future, and knowing that Sharon can't touch any of us, it's a burden off all of our minds. Both Dr. Merton and Dr. Birnbaum also agreed, talking among each other and calmed by the judge's ruling our way.

At least now, everything's firmed up. Sharon has to stay away and it's just a countdown to Paris becoming an official adult. I'm sure later on, she might end up trying to test out that order of protection, but for now, I can relax.

But even more, Rory can too. I can't wait to tell her...

Rory's POV, 2:50 p.m.

It's a weight off my mind. That's all I can really say.

Nervously I had kept palming at my cell phone nearly all afternoon, waiting for Mom to text me anything, good or bad, with Paris putting hers in her locker after lunch to stave off temptation and trouble. The court system certainly knew how to build the drama, and by the time Dr. Eure's class had started, still nothing back from her. By then I was able to slyly hide my phone behind my bag and Paris and I kept up our notes as the class went on, glances occasionally at the device to see what was going on.

I could see for once though that Paris's notes were hardly serious. Just a scribble mark here and there and another short note in another place. I felt pain in my stomach waiting; surely it wasn't this hard to figure out custody, wasn't it?

I managed a couple brushes of her hand along the table, to reassure her. She gave me a seductive look back hidden in her glare in response. We were both just waiting to be put out of our misery, and could only hope for the best. Soon I was digesting the lesson, while at the same time tracking the sweeping arm of the classroom clock waiting for a response from Mom.

Finally, at 2:39 and 51 seconds, it came with two short vibrations against the tabletop. Paris's attention immediately went to the phone and she tapped my side; we both knew what was in this text message was either going to solidify or relationship, or challenge it even more.

I already had a plan in my mind after the student gov meeting; I would take the wheel of the Jag. We had a half a tank; that could get us up 91 all the way near Vermont to Greenfield, or west to one of the small hamlets north of New York west of Danbury and we could work from there west. I could do this, I thought. Sure, I'm absolutely terrible about bus routes, as I learned with that trip to see Jess, but I know my way around a map. And a woman scorned will get her way. If Sharon scorns me, I'll scorch her ass!

I clasped the phone, ready for whatever was rendered. Either way, I loved Paris, and I wasn't leaving her side. I turned on the screen to see '3 SMS Messages', clicked into the menu to view them...

From: Mom

"Here we go", I mouthed, allowing the message to appear on the small square screen. Dr. Eure was in some PowerPoint, so nothing stopped me from reading what Mom sent. I slid the phone over with Dr. Eure's focus off of us, and we both read, with a foreboding sense of fear.

Rory, just got out of court and the judge ruled for Harry. Paris is staying in the Hollow! I am officially her LEGAL guardian until Xmas :)!

With that, the calm was setting in; we were safe. Onto the second message (which took a bit to read; Mom taking up text-speak is a nightmare!)...

Sharon is done; the judge laughed her outta court & she has 2 stay 1000 ft from u Paris & I & M/L. A mile from SH, 500 ft from Chilton.

No phone mail or comp contact either. U r now safe!

I could see Paris beginning to let go all the anguish and the fear she felt. One more message to read...

Harold sends his <3 for his Sweet Pea, along w Nanny. Tell Paris I love her too & you 2...behave when u celebrate ;).

Oh geeze!
I scoffed out a light but offended whisper of "Mom!", but Paris didn't care. Not a bit. She read through all three messages again, taking in that she was safe. I felt all the fear melt away from here and she reacted in a way I would have never expected.

"I'm safe," she whispered, as I could see her smile widen and then...tears. Tears of relief, of joy and of the release from having to look behind her back and hope her mother wasn't there.

Dr. Eure could see the interruption, and she acted, as predicted, walking towards our table and immediately finding the phone. "Miss Gellar! You are not supposed--"

She broke through the teacher's expected rules reminder with her emotions on her sleeve, and everywhere else. "I know, I know. No cell phones. But I don't have to go back to my mother." A short pause. "Oh my God. I don't have to go back to Sharon." She looked to Madeline, who held her hand at her chest with relief. "That feels really great to say out loud."

"Paris, I still have to--" She handed the phone to the teacher.

"I know, end of class, Rory can have it back. But I needed this. I really, really, needed this." Tears fell freely as Dr. Eure clasped my cell into her hand. "I'm safe and I'm loved and..."

Dr. Eure knew a moment when she saw one, and held a little bit of empathy. "Miss Gellar, would you like some time to yourself?" A small smile. "Obviously your head isn't in biology today."

"Can I join her?" I asked, with Madeline following. Dr. Eure looked at both of us and knew that it was a useless endeavor to keep to the lesson plan. Shaking her head, she surveyed the class and gave us a small smile.

"We're in the last three days before break and Thursday's quiz is a breeze," she rationalized. "I don't usually do this, but I'm releasing the class early. Stay here and chat, head home, get to club early? Whatever you want to do." She handed the phone back to me to a chorus of 'whoo-hoo's that didn't care about our circumstances, just that class was over. "This is a one-time only thing, of course, so don't abuse it." Dr. Eure asked Paris for her attention one more time. "I'm happy you got what you needed your way, Miss Gellar."

"Thank you...thanks so much, Dr. Eure." Paris was still crying happily as Dr. Eure went over our reading for tomorrow quickly, and nobody was looking at this early dismissal as a bad thing at all! With that, Madeline came right over and hugged her friend.

"Oh, thank God!" Madeline nearly barreled over the blonde with her bear hug and Paris sighed happily into Madeline's shoulder. It was all relief, exactly what we needed going into the holidays.

"I'm not going back. I don't haveta go back!" Paris was glad to let go the small fear of Sharon coming back for her and getting revenge. The woman's plan failed miserably, and almost all the stress was gone. There was still the wild card that Sharon doesn't care what the court says, but I'm sure the state is going to make sure she sticks to their orders.

"Paris, my Christmas miracle came true," Madeline proclaimed. "I prayed last night that you'd be OK, and now...it's true. I'm so glad." The jubilant girl focused on me. "And I'm glad you didn't have to go on the lam or anything."

"Yeah, Harvard would have docked us for leaving the state, I'm sure," I assumed, as Paris shook her head while wiping her eyes with a tissue. "What? It's true."

"Eh, I would have just put it on the 'life experiences' heading and fudged a few things," she declared. "I'm just glad this is over and I can sleep....I hope. Rory--"

"You're OK, Par. The cops in the Hollow are at the lines on each of the roads; mainly it's for speed enforcement, but they'll know your mom. She isn't getting into town easily, if at all."

"That's good to hear." She stood next to Madeline, and before I could even fathom it, Paris quickly turned her emotions from the reaction about custody right to the next thing. "Anyways, we have bigger problems to deal with now. We have to figure out Francie's next move. Gilmore?"

I was flummoxed for a moment; going from one extreme to another would have thrown me off in the past. But Madeline and I quickly veered to what was about to go down after school. "I would assume she'll try to force us out and it'll be something big or something small."

Madeline quickly floated her theory, pointing it out with her finger. "Impeachment. Mention Monica Lewinsky to her and she'll have a rant about the hearings that would have Sean Hannity telling her to chill out. I'd look at that as her main attack."

"But can we even get impeached?" I asked. Paris quickly had the answer.

"Unless we pilfered the treasury or used school monies and facilities to hold an underage Eyes Wide Shut thing or something, no way. We haven't committed any crimes, and the Winter Formal was ruined thanks to you-know-who. If she brings it out, Ms. Peters will shut it down with a speech about cooperation and harmony. I can pretty much predict it."

"So how could she get us out? Could she use our romantic interest as a conflict of interest and I'd at least have to step down as VP?"

"Tried, and failed, at least six times in the past among past president/VP couples. You elect who you elect and if the president and VP are in love, that's tough. Besides, she can't try it, what with the knowledge we have about how she got the senior class presidency through her big mouth." I winced and then chortled at her wording, along with Madeline, and Paris just rolled her eyes. "Come on, you're both eighteen! You hear worse on Friends!"

"I just don't want to be reminded of her blowjobs!" Madeline argued. "She does it all wrong and uses too much teeth. With Brad, I--"

Par quickly brought us away from that elegantly. "I'd also expect her to pull out the 'what have they done for the school' chestnut in that we don't do much. We did plenty; service club funding, more cooperation, but not outright obedience to the Regents, finally getting the school radio station to allow those kids to use MP3's rather than clumsy mix CD's, and the fact we found a better vending machine contract outside of selling the school's soul to Coke for a few years. Finally, there's the 'if Paris stepped down, Rory would be a mouse' attack, basically claiming if Rory somehow was student body president, she'd wither under pressure. I put her under pressure all the time; she could get the job done."

"And Rory's anger for Francie could fuel the boilers downstairs for three years," Madeline interjected. I nodded.

"Damned straight; I'd run the government just like Par did." I wasn't going to deny my pride about how I'd do. "One more thing, she'd probably argue she could run the government better alone than the two of us."

"Please!" Paris scoffed at the thought. "She couldn't even run her first fucking initiation for the Puffs without nearly getting 2% of the female school population thrown into juvi. She'd do terrible alone in student government."

"I thought of one more strategy." Madeline pointed out one last argument Francie could use to push us out, mocking the girl's voice. "But Rory and Paris are lesbians. We can't have lesbians in government...why dearie me, they might force us to have a Lilith Fair use the school stadium or...oh, my God, make our good strong Chilton boys look weak and timid!" I laughed heartily, and Paris smiled, but knew how to refute that straight off.

"Oh, but Francie, ladies ran this school for 150 years, without the boys. And Lilith Fair isn't touring, it's December, you ditz!" She was almost giddy, rather than scared. "Trust me, we are leaving that room as president and vice president. Francie can't and won't get to me, and if she thinks her friends dropping Holocaust taunts at me is going to make me wither, she's got another thing coming!"

"That was--"

"I knew it was Beth Howard," she told Madeline and I, to our shocks. "Her terrible script was telegraphed into that threat. As much as I'd like the satisfaction of seeing her scorned by either of you I wasn't going to let her get to me." I nodded in response; not answering back was probably right. "I didn't need either of you putting her in the hospital."

"Wrong place. It would be a slab in the morgue." That wasn't Paris or I. That was Madeline, deadly serious, a bite in her voice so vicious it burned. Paris's mouth dropped open in shock and she wanted to scold her, but was quickly stopped. "It's true. I'm nice, but when someone tries to be malicious to my friends, I'm not going to be charitable." Paris could merely nod as I still found myself confused by Madeline's bitter side.

"I...know that well," I said, hoping to end this detour. Madeline nodded back at me, then let off the smallest of smiles. Paris knew we wouldn't seriously threaten her, but it was still out there.

"Okay. We have a government to defend. Hopefully it's quiet or just full of bluster. Though that's me, hoping for the best." The three of us got up and Madeline headed out of the room to meet Brad outside of his class, leaving the both of us alone outside a few other classmates to wait out the last five minutes. I could sense so much relief off her shoulders, especially when she felt relaxed enough to give me an easy smile.

"You have this, Gilmore," she intoned with confidence. "Don't make me regret that May day I threw everything on you." I laughed a bit, throwing her off. "What's so funny about that?"

I smiled back, showing my teeth to her and moving in close. "I have only one regret, Par. Only one." I brushed her left wrist with my fingers playfully. "If only I hadn't been moony about Jess, I would have loved to know...what was happening in your bedroom the night we won?"

I admit it, I'm bold. Too bold, in fact. Now that I'm public I'm not afraid to make Paris blush in a classroom about aspects of the complicated but beautiful tangle that is our relationship. She turned away from me and her breathing became shaky. Her eyes glazed over.

God, I love doing this to her. She seems lost in thought for a moment. I totally expect her to go into either 'whatever' mode and stalk off, or monologue about privacy.

Instead she moves in close and in short detail...oh God...

"Five clitoral orgasms. Three fingers. One soaked-through mattress pad." A little peck on the cheek. "Results I hope to exceed one day with the genuine article." She gazed down, towards my lap, and there's the soft smile that makes me melt. "And you know I deliver on my promises."

I didn't think it was possible, but she eases onto her crutches and makes her way out of the room, leaving me stunned behind her, a contrast from when she found out I set her up with Tristan.

Yeah, the Paris paralyzed with fear about Sharon is gone for now. Wayyy gone. I'm still catching up from the massage from earlier and my girlfriend flouting her self-made 'no kissing at Chilton rule' is back, with abandon. The flirting is right back to where it was. I leave the room and I'm thinking of two things besides the meeting.

When she heals up, how am I going to wear her out?! I really can't think of a way, and I know once we're sleeping together again that it isn't going to be normal, by far. Just her fingers and tongue this afternoon...and then to hear that before I go in for the most important student government meeting ever?

Yup, going to need to have to find some kind of control. Especially now that her scent is stuck in my mind.

The other thought?

It's going to be a loooong winter at Chilton. For my sake, I hope Costco stocks blue hose in bulk...

Paris's POV, 3:40 p.m.

When I went into the election, I thought I was running merely as a candidate with qualifications. That nobody would care about my personal life and just wither in my presence. I had no designs on caring about my perception, as long as I balloted first and did what I promised, that was going to be my simple legacy.

I also scoffed at Madeline and Louise's polling at the time. Especially Mads's crack about hoping for a sex scandal. Sex? Me? Surely you must be insane! The only sex that was going to be entered into my administration was the filling of the 'F' box in on the certification.

Seven months later, sex is all I can think about. And all I was hoping for is that it didn't affect my position as student body president, nor Rory's as vice president.

The tenor of the conference room was definitely different from every other time I was in there. I was hoping for the best out of this meeting, that I could just get out of here and we could all move on towards starting to plan for prom at the next meeting in three weeks.

Sharon made sure that didn't happen, and now Rory and I had to face the music. I entered the room with my agenda and sat at the head of the table, as everyone else came in. Lemon and Madeline, everyone else, along with Chip.

No Louise, of course. Her spot was blank, as well it should be for all the shame I had in not telling her. From her at least, the silent treatment was deserved.

And then of course, there she was. The Hydra in the way of all my progress.

"Gellar." I couldn't stand looking at her, knowing she was trying to hijack me, everything I wanted to do for Chilton, and for what? Just because I loved a girl?

To think, I wanted to be her friend for awhile. I wanted to know her and...

...it hurts to say this, but I did once covet her body in a summer camp changing room. Sure, I felt extreme jealousy for her, but she pulled off a bikini that summer in ways I could even dream of as my puberty hormones went all over the place.

"Jarvis," I bit back. "Looking forward to winter break?"

"I am." She smirked. "Even more, taking your position and that lady of yours out of here. She's not going to know what hit her today."

I merely shook my head in response and waited for the remainder of people to come in, including a few spectators, and of course, the woman of the hour. She came in the room and quietly sat down, but not before Francie tried to psyche her out.

"Hey, Rory." The greeting was hardly cordial. "Are you enjoying the fish at lunch?" Rory glanced up for a moment, only to regard Francie's taunt as sad and beneath her. "I'm talking to you, Gilmore. You do realize you'll lose your title, right?" Rory nodded, continuing to go over her paperwork. I just looked on, wanting to see how far Francie would go on with this charade as Rory wrote something down.

"Birdie, I'm talking to you," she continued, her voice grating and eyes narrowed that the girl wasn't responding. "Come on, let me get a rise out. Of course, being the man in the relationship, you should know how to get a rise." Still no response, and this was growing to be tiresome. Finally, she grabbed Rory's pen out of her hand, forcing Rory's gaze up to her eyes.

"Got your pen!" she said. "Why aren't you responding to my taunts?"

"Because I'm secure in my sexuality, and rehashing all of the talking points of the American Family Association is kind of sad. Surely you'd love to lay down some good old fashioned slurs at me." A sly smile, and then that sexy husk hit her voice. "Oh, that's right, Francie. You got laid out not to be a vicious trollop or lose your senior class presidency. You're reserving that hot talk for off-campus." She put her hand in her backpack to grab another pen. "Oh, go ahead and keep that pen; it was a freebie from Stars Hollow High, a place with the saddest bullies in history. You might feel right at home there. Now if you'll excuse me, I'd like to save some fireworks for the actual meeting. Thank you." With one last icy stare Rory went back to her work and Francie was nice and flustered.

I was of course hating my foot more and more after that verbal foreplay; you thought my voice did things to her, but hers was just...yeah, I'm too frustrated. Thankfully that was just the point Ms. Peters came in, Rory and Francie dispersed and I could finally get down to business.

Routine and parliamentary procedure was a big help to me as getting into the introductions, asking for the minutes to be entered and doing all the things I had to before debates and voting started helped to keep some distance. Rory was able to calm herself before the storm of whatever Francie was going to play, which I really needed to happen in that moment. I wanted normalcy, and this is exactly what I needed in that moment to get that balance again.

Eventually though, it was time for the moment I dreaded. I looked around the room as the last order of routine business was fulfilled and looked down at my agenda, the first item of which I really wanted to skip over, but couldn't.

"Next order of business," I said neutrally, "Senior class president Francine Jarvis has a proposal." Please just be a lacrosse scoreboard. Or a bench. Anything but what I'm thinking.

Francie gave off that little smirk of hers that made the bile in my stomach rise up and clicked her tongue, while giving a dead-on glare to Rory. I think I caught her mid-mouthing threatening Rory's doom, with her shaking it right off.

"Thank you, Miss Gellar." Funny thing to thank someone you want to throw out isn't it? "As you may have heard, it seems there has been an issue that came up this weekend. Apparently, our esteemed student body president sustained injuries in a fight with her mother."

Oh, you aren't starting it out this way...

"A fight with her mother which involved who she was dating. Now I know we are supposed to discard everything personal involving those in authority in student government. However, I fail to see how Miss Gellar can fulfill her duties as student body president when she is under constant threat by her mother. As a courtesy to our faculty supervisor, I am asking that we disregard our usual protocol and to let Miss Gellar heal from her injuries that I take over the duties of student body president until she feels better."

Ms. Peters was appalled, looking right towards me. "Miss Gellar, do you feel well enough?"

A little smirk, and a scoff from me. "I thank you for your concern, Miss Jarvis, and thank you for thinking of my health. But I am here, in this seat, and we have three days to winter break. I'm coherent and perfectly functional. In fact, my mother cannot set foot on this campus without arrest, so let me assuage that concern straight-off. I think by our next meeting in three weeks, I'll be fully recovered." I then pointed at Rory. "And even then, you forgot a step in the succession plan. If I fall ill, as my vice president, Miss Gilmore would take over in my place."

I knew Francie was just doing this for show, but played into it for entertainment value. "Well, I think I should note, Ms. Peters that those injuries were caused by Miss Gellar defending her sexual relationship with Miss Gilmore." As we did too many times lately, Rory and I both remained stone silent. "Surely, this would ensure a conflict of epic proportions if these two were to break up and Miss Gilmore were to disregard her former girlfriend's platform. Why...Rory could go scorched earth, torpedo her lady's agenda and the rest of us would be left with a mess to clean up. As a neutral party and for the good of the school, I am asking for a voice vote--"

And as predicted, here came Ms. Peters with the torpedo. "What you are asking for, Miss Jarvis, is for these two to be impeached."

"Not in those certain words." The older woman stared her down.

"And that will not happen," she clarified. "Nobody has done anything wrong, and these situations have occurred in many student governments before, where the president and vice president are a couple. I am certainly not going to allow you to use Miss Gellar's personal life as an attack on her character!"

"Ms. Peters, surely you would agree you have a conflict of interest as both the advisor here and on the Franklin?"

Internally, I was giddy. If she was back in the Army, Francie would be down on the floor giving 100 at this point with a high heel upon her back. But our adviser still had her words.

"The only conflict I'm having right now is whether this outburst deserves detention or not. Again, unless Miss Gellar and Miss Gilmore are causing clear harm to student government, there will be no forcing them out. The bylaws of the student constitution do not provide an impeachment channel because we have something stronger than that with the faculty; it's called a suspension from activities."

"Does anyone else agree with me? I'm sure there's some here that are concerned about these girls running student government while being romantically involved."

Jason Darling got up. My first thought about him being pro-Francie was that he was going to support her, along with Tom Hammond.

"I definitely have an objection..." he started. Great, here comes the hour-long filibuster...

"Get over it Francie, they won fair and square and if they got together, what's the problem? At least they're watching out for us, together."

"Jason!" She was startled by his support of us, and moved towards Tom to suggest he owed her something. I could only hope he wouldn't put his foot in his mouth for her...

"I think that Ms. Jarvis has a point." Predictable as always, Hammond. Still, it wasn't enough. Ms. Peters rolled her eyes while judging the situation further.

"Does she? Please then, tell me how these two girls have been disruptive in any possible manner in the last month. Regale me with this information and maybe I'll agree to this plan to put the positions of student body president and vice president to a re-vote."

"They're going to get Mr. Mercurio fired!" Francie proclaimed. Lemon wasn't having it.

"Please. The administration's had it out for him for years. That was just the straw that broke the camel's back, Francie. He was the disruptive one with his stupid seating chart, not them."

"Ohhh....well, um...Tom, help me out here." This was quite amusing and I glanced a look at Rory, who I could tell was wanting to pop some corn and enjoy the fun going on in front of her. "Wait...they held back information about the RTS vote! If they were gay they--"

"Of course I was biased for the funding, Miss Jarvis, I brought the motion forward," I told her. "No matter my sexuality I wasn't going to throw a student organization out for the mere reasoning of 'just because'. I allowed a lacrosse funding motion to go through and I can't stand the sport and the guys playing it."

Tom finally had something to throw at us. Like a sad, wet trout, but still...something. "You abused Francie's hemline provision for your own sick and twisted purposes!"

Really, four months in student gov, and that's the best you could think of? Maybe Francie was right to suck your sad little manhood off. Rory got this one while I thought how much of a bullet we dodged in not having him as senior class president.

She turned on the sweet and just went full-bore into him. "Mr. Hammond, I find it highly inappropriate of you to think of me and my girlfriend in this manner. Yes, the hemline thing might have helped bring us together, and I will admit some impure intentions on my own part in going along with it. But if you're mad that we got fired up over two extra inches of thigh, surely you're not thinking of the students of this school in the middle of growth spurts who don't have to worry about buying or re-hemming skirts as often as they used to."

Her attention then directed towards Francie. "Again, we have tried to accommodate every motion you're tried to bring to the table, Miss Jarvis. The both of us have been more than cooperative to you. Have we taken any advantage of the position outside of the parking space and key perks? Have we tried to push through some kind of overpowering agenda?"

"Well...no. But--"

"And we will continue to be for the students. Not just for us. We haven't made extraordinary demands out of our offices, we've managed to have reasonable campaign promises that were easily fulfilled. And we did not have to pass your hemline thing despite how much you're still blaming us for that...thing. We did." She stood up. "Miss Jarvis, if we have done anything to wrong you and the senior class, please let us know. Our lockers and the door to the Franklin are always open. But if this about you annoyed because we're a couple? It's not right. We're not doing anything to make you uncomfortable. We wouldn't want to put any of our fellow students in a position they don't want to be part of. Our private life...is our private life. There are times you and I have disagreed vehemently and passionately, but I am not one to take a grudge and put it out in public."

She moved close to Francie, invading her private space, daring her to challenge her and go for a suspension. "This is the only time I'm going to say this to you, or anyone else. You will not take what my girlfriend had happen to her on Saturday morning and create a 'damsel in distress' agenda, or use it to mold it to your ambitions." Her voice clenched. "I apologize for going out of procedure, but she almost died at the hands of her mother. I don't give a damn if she was dating Justin Timberlake and her mom objected to that; either sex, any situation, that is an unacceptable reaction, and Paris just went through three days of hell hoping she didn't get pulled back into that position by the state." I held my heart as she emotionally defended my honor. "She did absolutely nothing wrong and has been holding me back from getting into trouble with you, so you should be thanking her, not stripping her of the well-deserved authority the students of this school gave her. She has spent all her life at Chilton tirelessly earning an education, and I will not have you tear her down just for who she loves, how she feels, nor her emotions. Get over last year, move the hell on with your life and let's get through this last part of the year without tearing each other's throats out."

Rory swallowed, moving away from Francie, who was quite pale. Silence permeated the room, as I saw Rory and her tear-filled blue eyes shift for a moment in my direction. I couldn't say anything else; she had taken a situation I thought would be violent and filled with heated words and calmed it down with a monologue that I could not have scripted.

"Thank you," she said, before taking her seat again, while Francie was too stunned to say a word.

Like I was that one day I dropped 'loser' on Rory. I deserved that and regret it at every moment.

"Miss Jarvis, do you have anything further to say?" I knew this wasn't over. Not even close. Being dressed down by her now-mortal enemy, Francie was going to seek some kind of revenge on her, like that ridiculous Christmas Day protest she hinted at once.

But for now, she knew when she was beat. "I...withdraw my resolution." She then slithered into her seat quietly. We didn't expect, nor want an apology. Tom tried to take the sword from her.

"Francie, I--"

"Forget it, Tom. Sit down. It's not happening," she ground out firmly, and that was it. The fire and brimstone we expected was but a nearly expired highway flare instead, petering out along 91 in the rain. Tom sat down and it was all done.

Rory and I had survived. There were sure to be eventual consequences down the line with Francie and her cronies, but for at least winter break, we were still president and vice president. All the weight I felt carrying Sharon and student government was gone, off my shoulders. I asked for the next resolution to be read, a request from C-SPAN to allow coverage of the school's Bicentennial celebration coming up in February. A no-brainer I was all but happy to embrace and accept, along with a few other light business matters that went through with little debate or discussion. Even among those who turned down RTS, only Tom seemed to hardline with voting with Francie, and everyone showed just as much respect for me and the gavel as they had pre-revelation.

Within a half-hour, the meeting was pretty much over, and near all of us were looking forward to having a fresh start in three weeks. Finally, with a last motion passed asking for a long-gone former Chiltonian to get a day in their honor passed, that was it. Francie was complacent, all 'yes' or 'no' on her votes, while Rory...

I think the anger was finally melting away. Sharon couldn't get us, Francie couldn't get to her, and soon she was free of Chilton and starched blouses for two weeks. She was happy to let all of this go.

"The motion carries, and that's it, business is done for the 2002 part of this school year. We come back next year January 14th, and hopefully you're all rested for the last semester before college or whatever you want to do. We're adjourned, and happy holidays." A hammer of the gavel, and that was it. Rory got up, relieved and headed towards me, while Francie wasn't about to pull her aside again, choosing to exit the room quietly.

This time though, Ms. Peters got to Rory before I could. At first I thought she went too far in my defense, but the assuring hand on her shoulder quickly told me otherwise.

"Good job nipping that, Rory. I thought for sure she was going to have it out," I heard her say. Madeline came towards me and I let the conversation go to concentrate on her, as she had some news.

"Guess what? I took your advice; I'm seeing U-Seattle on the Monday after Christmas, along with U-Dub and Evergreen. I had my dad make the calls; he's got a lot of Costco and MS stock, thus a lot of contacts at both schools." I beamed; she was taking this seriously.

"That's really good." I demurred. "Although I assume this isn't a trip alone, is it? You wouldn't mention an average college sightseeing trip without ulterior motives."

"Wha? No, I--" I snorted. "Fine, yes. Brad's mom is letting me take him out there, get some feelers out over there. He's got his Equity, AFTRA and SAG cards so he can pretty much get work anywhere there, or even Vancouver if he can get an ACTRA card...where if everything works out...we'll be up there New Year's Eve night!" Madeline squealed and I just rolled my eyes happily at her excitement.

"You realize you have me rooting for you two, right? That's really hard to do." I sighed, feeling like I was making up lost ground from years of not giving her enough attention. "Thanks for having my back, Mads. Would've sucked if I didn't have you kicking my ass at times."

"Well, it's what friends do, no matter what." She hugged me slightly. "And now you get to go home, relatively speaking and feel safe now that Mommy Dearest can't get to you."

"It is a relief." Frowning, I was honest. "This isn't what I wanted though. Just acceptance, or even just bland annoyance. Instead, we deal with this and be thankful it has to work out. Even Louise."

"I know. I hope I hear something from her...anything, soon. Since mid-October it's all been silence or just low-interest topics. There's something wrong."

"There is. But for now, if she wants to keep it private, we respect that." A nod. "I will admit one thing though."


"I've actually cleared my schedule for winter break outside of the one Harvard interview that Saturday after New Year's. No volunteer work just for hollow CV points. I don't mean to be selfish, but...I have Rory, and at least for one break I'd like to take advantage of it. No charities or the usual ball circuit. Though I'm sure Vance Beardsley's still going to try."

"Sorry, don't care about Vance...are you saying once you heal up...you're going to be lazy?"

"Not lazy. I can never be lazy. Just more...relaxed. As much as I can in the Hollow." I was unnerved by the look Madeline was giving me. "What?"

"You did something slutty at lunch, didn't you?"

"No! Of course not!" I looked around. "Lunch is not required to be eaten in the dining hall."

"You went to the bell tower, didn't you?" I regarded her question for a long moment, before having to admit defeat.

"I did." I let the other words come out softer and with my gaze averted. "And she went with me, but still--"

"You daring thing." She slightly snickered. "Not up to full-on sex yet?"

I shook my head. "I mean, we sleep close for now. I have to heal up. Finally, there's the guilt about Louise. I know I'll let it go lately, but for now, I just have to settle myself down a little. Rory is the daring one, and I'm all shy here. Besides, I'm more in a giving mood than that of receiving...I've been attracted to her for a long time. I want to know what gets her off."

"'Tis the season for giving, they say." I let out a small breath and laugh. "Although a little birdie tells me a big birthday is coming up."

"Maddie...nooo. Don't remind me." I cringed at the mention of the b-word. "Especially because you know why I loathe it so much and that day."

"Don't worry, we'll be quiet as usual." She saw Ms. Peters and Rory break up their conversation. "Letting you go; relax tonight for me."

"Relaxing will be done." I nodded at her and turned to Rory, who definitely looked like she wasn't talked down to at all. "So...how much trouble were you in for that outburst?"

"Trouble?" A smile. "Are you kidding? She complimented my WPM and word choice! And we were completely in the right; no attacks and just laying out the facts of our relationship. Angie didn't have a bad word to say at all."

"You need to stop calling her that. She is our--"

"I know, faculty supervisor. But it's all out of the way, even if Francie will be in plotting mode all break." A happy sigh. "You look lighter."

"I am lighter." I moved closer towards her. "So light, I'm buying at Luke's tonight. Only fair after what you all did for me today." I didn't even think about what I said; it just seemed natural at this point, though Rory expressed immediate concern.

"Luke's? You're ready for public scrutiny?"

I smiled, just feeling relaxed about it. "Dean's not going there for a long time, Jess and I get along, and I impressed the townsfolk. Might as well make it town-official."

"You know a town meeting is required for 'town-official' status, right? And that's two weeks from Thursday night."

"Rory..." I slid my hand into hers, and looked directly in her eyes. "I might have been shoved out of the closet with all the grace of Kerri Strug in that second-to-last vault, but I'm intending to stick the landing. I'm out here at school and besides the chickenshit note people, everyone else has been as 'eh' about us as an average couple. They're still hyped up about Brad and Madeline; we're pretty much in the clear for the most part. Your town might be a little traditional, but I'm sure I'm not going to be run out any time soon or refused service anywhere."

"Well, when you put it that way, maybe you have it right." She squeezed against my fingers. "Three more days. I heard you a little bit back there and...thank you for using winter break for a break."

"I mean it. Though I wouldn't rule out a charity thing if it popped up and I did have to go."

"As long as it isn't with Vance Beardsley III."

"It won't be. You can kick his ass if he attempts to ask me out." I looked around the emptying room, finding only a couple of girls in conversation. I took the quick opportunity to lay a kiss on Rory's lips, sneaking it in where I could take it. She returned the quick kiss, leaving me flustered as I realized something.

"Raspberry lip gloss." I sighed at the taste and she whimpered lightly.

"You have your blueberry, so you opened yourself up to my multiple lip gloss flavors, Par-Bear."

"Mmm, I did, did I?" I let out a laugh full of the creak which makes her weak. "I'll probably need to examine your selection further after dinner."

"And what about that paper for Econ?" she reminded me. I laughed it off.

"Probably need some help on that with your grammar and spelling check behind me...breath tickling my ear, your notes softly whispered into it...a cami barely able to hold all of your heft within and your legs crossed together, standing as another pool builds up between them."

Her voice was barely audible. "I'm taking off my hose once we hit the highway." God, her teasing, just perfect. "By the way, do you smell me?"

"You got pissed with Francie, of course I could." My fingers slid up her arms towards the underside, where I could easily make out the dampness beneath them along the blouse. "It's that Argentine temper of yours."

"Par?" A pause, and her eyebrows knitted together with extreme frustration. "We need to get to the car before that Argentine temper asks you for three fingers, right here, right now."

"Right here?" My thumb was against her wrist and I continued to tease. "Lunchtime surely was sating enough."

"Still hungry; I'm gonna need a definite shower before Luke's." I was tingling and with that, we escaped the conference room and now I've known this has been a good day.

A very good day. Rory's not about to go down on me or anything, but having her in this state, deeply in love and fully in lust, I'm not ready to be exhausted yet, at all.

If I'm being serious though, if this is what winning a court case for custody feels like, I need to shape up, because when we win a debate?

At this point I'm going to be very sore the next day, and with twelve debates ahead, I'm going to end up very exhausted from her...

Rory's POV, 7:30 p.m.

I honestly don't know what is with me lately. I was never this aggressive, this turned on...

Let's face it, Sharon out of the way? It's released me. I don't have to be morose, or angry, or wanting to punch a wall. I can get back to my true emotions, to return to my normal and docile state.

With Francie muted, it's even more so. She's gone for now. I'll probably be confronted before Friday by her and her lackeys, but for now she's been talked down to and that's it. Most everyone doesn't care about my relationship with Paris. Most aren't even shocked she's with me.

It makes things easier, especially in town.

But it does make things harder in town. In the past, with Dean, along with flirting with Jess, it was all nearly innocent. There were kisses for show, to be territorial, to show I was fine with what I had. Hands held, on the smalls of backs, or mostly in innocent places.

I have no such shyness about having my hand in Paris's back pocket at all, and though she's a bit more above the belt, neither does she. It's freeing, relaxing...

I'm really happy about today, and tonight. Sure, the kids at the high school are always going to be jerks, but why should I care? I'm not in their school. I might be in their town, but otherwise I have little contact with them.

I mean, yeah, after I got my shower in at home and Paris and I walked to Luke's, I got some shaming as I walked with her in the cold winter air towards downtown. She was looked down at the ground, nervous about how the townsfolk would take her out in public, just as a girl with me, rather than 'that scary girl asking all the questions and trying to make us look like Silent Hill'. There were a couple of jerks off to the side calling me 'Dyke Gilmore', and another girl who was glad I never hit on her at SHH.

But then there was Todd. 'Lane liked him once' Todd. 'Worst double date in known history outside of my mom's and Sookie the same night with Rune' Todd. There he was in the town square, in that dopey hat and judging from his red eyes, on a certain drug which made the world look slow.

He got our attention, and Paris looked up after he called our names.

"Ohh man, Dean was massively bummed you dumped him for a lady, dude," he said, as Paris rolled her eyes. "He spent all day taking about you, Rory."

"Well, that's fine," I told him. "If he wants to play 'jealous ex', let him."

"Although...he isn't cool either. He was swearing all day saying something about seeing you next Tuesday and that you were a female dog. He used different words though and my other buddy says I shouldn't say them like he did." He looked at Paris. "This is the scary girl who's your girlfriend now?"

"Um, yeah." I felt nervous about introducing Paris, but Todd, besides not wanting to be in a motor vehicle with him after partakes in a certain habit, is utterly docile. "This is Paris. Paris...this is Todd Deland. Dean's best friend."

He held out his hand and Paris nervously brought hers into his. "Umm, nice to meet you...Todd." She was protective of her wrist, only letting him shake her hand for a few seconds. "What college are you attending?"

"Not decided, but that school in Wyoming with cars on TV looks pretty rad!" He laughed deeply. "Hey, you're cool and Dean was making you sound evil and scary. You're not."

"Well, you're fine too." A snort. "Umm, we're going to Luke's now. Nice to meet you."

"You too, city named girl." A pause. "Hey, if you're ever in the neighborhood and you want to hang--"

"I'll consider it," she said, holding up her hand. "Good evening, Todd."

"Yeah, good evening." We left him behind and Paris shook her head.

"We're sure Sean Penn didn't have that kid after Fast Times?" She laughed and I smiled back at her. "He doesn't seem like a friend of Dean."

"I don't even think he remembers dating Lane, to tell the truth. But at least he didn't make a--"

"Wow, that girl is pretty hot! The blonde has a nice ass!" He let out without provocation and to no one in particular, as Paris just let it brush off, taking the compliment without anger beyond a skyward look at the dark above us.

"I was going to say not a sexist crack, but...it's Todd." I shook my head.

"Better him than Duncan and Bowman." She took my hand and we walked into Luke's, where the supper crowd was strong, with Miss Patty, Kirk, Babette and Morey and Gypsy, along with Bootsy in there. And right in the middle was my mom, Paris's nanny and a very bemused Mr. Gellar, along with who I assumed was the attorney who took Paris's case.

"Rory, Paris, come on in!" Two tables were pushed together as Mom waved at us to sit down, though Paris immediately went for her father, hugging him tightly and kissing his cheek in a freeing way she certainly wasn't afraid to do now.


"Sweet Pea!" The two embraced happily and I had to admit, I was so happy for them both. She then went for Francisca, greeting her in another hug with exuberant Portuguese. I sat next to Mom, with the seat next to me free for Paris.

"Glad to see you home rather than on a cannonball run halfway to Pennsylvania right now." A wide smile as I sat down. "You seem happy."

"Overjoyed; this happened and Francie was laughed out of her impeachment attempt. The worst I can say about this day is I didn't get to see the dress-down this judge gave Sharon."

"Amy Gray is my new hero in life. Seriously, I want to vote her in for Senate or governor or something; she refused all of Sharon's bull and made Hartford's worst attorney look like an idiot."

"She wasn't swayed by anything, was she?"

"Gosh, no." Paris sat down next to me and began talking to the attorney, Elisa, who shared her legal strategies for winning the custody case, beyond ecstatic. I was feeling much better as Luke came around with his order pad.

"So, Paris, I heard you're buying for everyone tonight?"

"I am; without all of these people I'd probably be alone and miserable at the Manor."

"Your funeral then," he grumped out as Mom and I ordered our usuals of chili cheese fries and burgers, while everyone else varied between burgers, steak sandwiches, and for Paris, her wintergreen tea, a double grilled cheese on Texas toast, and a salad on the side. The menus were gathered and we all went back to conversation as Mr. Gellar got my attention.

"Rory, I have to say, I'm glad you kept up my girl's fighting spirit. She seemed pretty down Saturday night, but you brought her right back to fighting form. I'm really proud of you."

I shrugged off the praise; I definitely didn't do it alone. "I wish I could take all the credit, but I can't, Mr. Gellar. You instilled strength and independence in Paris in the first place." She glanced at me, then her father. "Without that, I don't think I would have drawn to her. I'm lucky to have her, but also for you for fighting for her."

"Uh, thanks, Rory." He smiled and Paris turned her attention back towards me.

"I still can't believe it. I'm safe and...I just can focus on you and school now. That's all I've wanted from my mother, the ability to live my life. It's a pity it had to be this way, but--"

"Paris." We both looked up to see Kirk turned around in his seat. She seemed a bit exhausted, but friendly with him.

"What do you want, Kirk?"

"Just...I congratulate you and Rory on your romance. I hope to find something like that one of these days. Well, with another woman, because I'm not a woman, though if the right man came along I might actually feel attracted to a man and feel a romantic interest in him like you are, only with men instead of women. Because I'm not a woman, you know, and I also do not feel offended by homosexual sex, though I haven't seen that except when my mom accidently tuned into a scrambled pay-per-view channel and I saw a couple of--"

"OK, OK, Kirk." She held up her hand, understanding the point despite his continued rambling. "I get it, you want what we have, but with another person. That's great. It's fine."

"So you understand."

"Of course I do...as long as it's not that intense dancer you brought to the dance marathon."

"She never called back. I even sent apology flowers and chocolates to her studio. She never responded."

"Probably for the best." This was something I never expected; Paris and Kirk in a civil conversation. "You'll find someone, it just takes time."


"Everyone has a soulmate," she rationalized. "Someone out does like you, Kirk."

"You really think that?"

She stopped to look at me for a moment before pulling me against her at my shoulder. "I know it's sappy, but everyone does have their someone." I had to hold back a laugh at Luke looking at Paris at the counter like she had managed to communicate with an alien race, but at the same time? I was wont to swoon. Who would have ever thought Paris was such a deep romantic?

But it was good she was relaxed, as any fears that I'd be in a town not accepting of her quickly disappeared. Pretty much everyone was amazed by her and our romance, and Paris was incredibly patient and kind describing our love in a family-appropriate manner. Babbette made a claim to us that she could have predicted it a mile away.

"The way ya were dancing with her, Sugah, that wasn't you trying to just win a contest! You two were all in simpatico, of one mind! 'Twas only a matter of time."

"But what if we had gone out early?" Paris argued. "There was still a chance we could be out of sync."

"Come on, that last second grab to tick Taylor off before he could gleefully get ya two off the floor? Wasn't happening." Babette looked at Paris. "Ya gotcha self a real babe there, Rory." Paris turned away, her face flushing with embarrassment as I took her at the side and continued the fun teasing.

"Definitely my babe," I admitted fully to everyone. Paris looked up, still trying to get over the compliment, just in time for Gypsy to get in her piece.

"And I heard through the grapevine she can get under the hood pretty well; I talked to that Madeline girl when you were here for the play and she said you came out and changed a tire for her once and also put in a new battery for her."

"I picked up a few things in a big garage like that of my dad's. I'm not ASE certified like you, but I know my way around a few European cars." She smirked, setting her hand on my thigh in that moment and being bold. "And motorcycles." I gasped at the way she pronounced the word, that reoccurring image of me on her bike wrapped around her protectively appearing once again.

What is it about us Gilmores and bikes anyways?

"Yeah...her bike," I said. "Which can't be out for a few more months."

"Thank goodness," Mom interjected. "Though I would eventually trust these two on one...safely." Paris nodded, knowing that was one thing she couldn't argue with Mom about. That she was finally getting an 'eventually' was a good sign that I was inching closer to the dream coming true.

"Safe as can be." God, how I wanted to be wrapped around her on her Ducati...

But for the rest of the evening at Luke's it was just thinking about how lucky we were. Paris and her father and nanny caught up plenty and I was relieved to still have Mom in one piece as our warrior in helping us be a couple. I didn't have to second-guess myself any longer. Hearing from Miss Patty about how proud she was of us definitely made the night, along with seeing her and Francisca become fast friends since she also knew some pretty good Portuguese. Paris was really happy about that, since Hartford's community is kind of limited and she was always hoping Francisca could find new friends to talk about her Spanish and Brazilian telenovelas about.

Although Bootsy recounting an anecdote about seeing two women in Pawtucket was enough to get him thrown out of the diner. I won't retell it, but suffice to say when Kirk gets to stay and Bootsy doesn't, it's definitely a unique night.

But one part of the night away from Paris and my Mom stood out. Shane came into the diner as we were finishing up to say goodbye to Jess before heading off to her relatives in Tennessee for the holiday, and I could swear that he was actually going to miss her. I didn't get that sense for the last few months in my Paris bubble, but they had actually grown to be a pretty close, if still in-your-face couple. Even when she kissed Jess goodbye pretty deep, Luke seemed to have grown used to it and as she left I could see him shaking his head, as if he was losing someone for the holidays. With Paris and Mr. Gellar deep in talking with Gypsy about their cars, while Mom and Luke were talking with Miss Patty and Elisa talking to Kirk about something or other, I was finally able to get a moment with Jess at the table near the front door.

I approached him, a bit nervous since until last night he didn't know about us at all. I asked him if he wanted to talk, and he was a bit quiet, but did. We broke the ice for a little bit as I explained what drew me to Par before I got down to it.

"I...I know you think I'm crazy that I'm even apologizing for this. But I do feel bad that I didn't say anything about Paris. I didn't know what to do."

"Of course you didn't," he said, shaking his head. "I don't think nobody does. You get a feeling in your stomach about someone and you just wanna keep it to yourself." A pause. "But I kinda knew at the wedding. It was a good kiss..."

"A very good kiss," I said, stating the obvious.

"But it wasn't...it was evident you had your mind on someone else, a someone else who wasn't styled with a Flowbee." He crossed his arms, leaning back on the chair. "Plus I didn't wanna fuck up more than I did already."

"You wouldn't have. We just needed time to smooth things out, but...it wasn't you." It was freeing to admit it. "It was Paris, and all I was thinking was...'if I can get through a summer with her, maybe it can work'."

"And us?"

"You?" I wanted to hear Jess's thoughts first. He sighed, looking towards Luke and Mom and with a bit of unease, finally made it clear.

"We'd break up. It'd be messy. And you've got Harvard, while I don't know what I'm doing a week from now most of the time. Plus...them." I nodded as he pointed towards the townies. "With Paris it's only her bat-shit crazy mom, and that at least gives you a push to stay together to spite her. We'd have an entire irrational town to deal with, not even mentioning our relatives here."

"The crazy, it's undeniable. And we would have gotten awkward, eventually." I looked towards Paris, laughing freely with Gypsy and Kirk, about what I don't know, but to see her smile it got to me. "God."

He could see it too. "Smartie's got your heart, doesn't she?" I was still in awe. "Even if we were together you'd still have been bound eventually, huh?"

"From the moment we crashed into each other. She's the only one who can make me feel joy, yet get me so fired up that she reminds me why I'm at Chilton and wanting my dream career." I was wistful about the future. "No hard feelings at all?" He let off an easy smirk, and I was able to relax as he told me about how committed he was to Shane.

"Shane's good for me; I was about to apply for Wal-Mart but a cousin of hers has an in at the Barnes & Noble in Waterbury near the Timex museum. I haven't told Luke yet, but once the new year starts, I start there part-time with a shot at full if I can graduate in June. It's a bit of a long way to go after school for work, but at least I get to be around books and out of Crazytown most of the time."

"Wow. I didn't even figure on Shane being a motivator." I was giddy that Jess was settling down for some kind of work, but still had to give him a bit of guff. "So you're gonna be working for The Man?" He rolled his eyes, but still smiled.

"Hey, change starts from within. And now you and Par get to score books on my employee discount. It's all win-win."

"Making me swoon here, Mariano." Days before I thought everything was falling apart, but in reality, it's all coming together. "So we're cool?"

"Very cool. And Dean got thrown off the hockey team; apparently the guys on it don't take well to him trying to beat up girls. Emphasis on try."

"Paris would've taken him if she didn't had crutches."

"No question at all. Smartie's tiny but she's got the strength of a team of oxen in her, physically and spiritually. I know not to piss her off." Paris finished the conversation and headed our way, hearing the tail end of our talk.

"Got that right, Reb." She wasn't using the crutches, instead depending on a limp and hold on the tables to maneuver around the room. I took her hand and helped her sit down. "The guy's a cheap lunk anyways; a real man just would've attempted to allow me a defense of the hit, but going for my wrist was just weak."

"You're really thinking about sportsmanship in a fistfight with an ex?" Jess wondered, as did I. She just smiled, knowing she was right.

"Hey, you went at him that one time the way it should be, offense and defense. He didn't even afford me the chance to fight back."

"Rory helped you win on TKO though, so there's that."

"Frankly he shouldn't have gone after me in the first place, really. I didn't do anything to him, honest." Jess and her looked at me, feeling a bit uneasy about having to hear them riff about Dean. "Ummm, you're not comfortable with this, are you?"

I shook my head. "I'd really like to put Dean in the distant past, really." Jess nodded, understanding and apologetic.

"I think this entire town would want the same thing." He turned his attention to Paris. "I thought I'd never see the day, getting along with the townies."

Paris nodded. "They still bug me, a little. But like you, I figure we all have to co-exist here, so might as well get along with them rather than being like I was last year. Even Kirk."

"But what about Taylor?"

"Well...he did save my life last night." I then saw that smile she had when she had some kind of plan. "However, if you ever need some kind of co-conspirator to carry out a--"

I quickly expressed my disappointment...though not really, holding back laughter even as I rebuked the two of them. "Paris! Jess! Don't you two dare!"

"What?" Paris shrugged her shoulders. "I'm just suggesting my services shall Jess need them."

"Yeah, ease up Gilmore, we won't actually carry out anything." Jess wrinkled an eyebrow upward. "Over Christmas."

"Ah, geeze." I shook my head as Paris then turned towards talking about his Ginsberg obsession and her admission she had read one of his titles, and launched into a vibrant and profanity-filled debate about writers. I broke away from it with a peck on Paris's cheek to distract her for a bit to talk to Paris's dad one more time, who was just about ready to leave. I again thanked him for accepting us and he nodded, mentioning something else.

"I'm glad you stuck with her," he said. "I don't know how many times Sharon set her up with guys who she just loathed, but I really can't blame her if they all turned her off to men."

"What about...Tristan though?" The elephant in the room was there, and I wanted to hear his opinion on him. I know it's all history, that she'll never get together with him, but I still wanted to hear what Mr. Gellar thought of him.

"Tristan's a good boy; I've known him forever. His parents though are distant and..." he wandered off, looking towards his daughter with raised hands keeping up with Jess in her debate. "My heart to God, I think he would have been the only acceptable boy from Hartford I'd be happy would be with her." He hesitated a moment before taking me aside.

"Rory, I'll admit, sometimes I'm not the best parent, not at all. Paris loves me, but I'm definitely not around as much as she'd like me to be. This...this was pretty much the last straw for me. That if I didn't support Par here, there'd be an intractable break between us. And as much as I know she's independent and a strong girl, without support, she'll wither away, and she was just doing that before you came around." He shook his head. "You brought her back, and I'll be always grateful for you grounding her back into having friends and more things to live for than Harvard."

I pursed my lips to explain how I saw it. "It's mostly her though, Mr. Gellar. She can easily be strong in school, but with her own life? I was with her yesterday with Dr. Birnbaum, and I'm not going to say anything except that she's good and one of the strongest women I've ever known. But she still needs help, and support. Without it, she feels lost and alone."

"I'm not letting that happen again," he promised, and I could be assured that Mr. Gellar's words were true. "But as for Tristan, to answer your question. Those two are kith and kin. I've known them together and although I know you meant the best for them, that date was never going to work out. Not everything was going to be fixed with that night, and though I thank you for trying...one day you'll understand why it didn't work out fully."

I nodded. "It's something you really can't say, isn't it?"

"It's on Paris," he said, nodding. "But as for you...thank you again, Rory." I smiled at him and he headed towards Paris to say goodbye for the evening. I was left unsure about the still-unanswered questions about her and Tristan, but for now, they were best left unsaid. I felt a hand to my shoulder, turning to see Mom behind me.

"You did a good thing, kiddo." She paused as Paris was enveloped by her father, both of them incredibly overjoyed. "We have her safe here. That's what matters most. But you two also have a deep bond."

I craned my neck up at her, surprised. "Deep? Mom, a month ago you weren't exactly our biggest fans."

"Well, things change. For the most part, people can change too. And over the last week I've just seen a change in the both of you. Determination, firmness, and just this strength you have that I never saw you have with Dean." She brought me closer, kissing my forehead. "Paris is not only your guiding influence, but your cheerleader, in turn. And I was so glad to help her stave off Sharon in court today. I don't think I'll feel as big a relief in my life for a long time as that moment."

"Same when you texted," I admitted. "I'm still surprised she didn't get her passport taken away though."

"I think Judge Gray is kind of hoping she goes so Paris doesn't have to deal with her and it makes the restraining order kind of moot. Or JAWS is off the beach of whatever resort she'd go to over the holidays. I still don't see her going though."

"Not at all." I heaved out a breath as Miss Patty and Francisca said goodbye exuberantly. "Just too bad the Revolutionary War reenactment already happened this year, we could have had them also act as our security force."

"We all quake from those scary pop-guns; I know I'm not robbing the liquor store with those guys around." Everyone began to clear out and say their goodbyes, and this day we were all nervous about actually didn't turn out half-bad. Even if we have to be vigilant and keep our eyes out for Sharon, at least I know for sure the town sees Paris and I as completely benign, and that they can handle having us as a couple.

It's all a relief and I can only hope as time goes on all of these issues, especially Sharon, will ease up and we can just live as we used to...

Though I wouldn't want to live how I 'used to', now that I think about it. Quiet about my love of Paris, my sexuality, my true self. Even with all that's going on now, it's better than pondering and stewing about Dean being boring or safe, and Paris and I still in our cycle without end.

I look at her at the cash register giving Luke the money for tonight's food and I know that what we were used to is now in the past, and I want it to stay that way. She comes over to me and I know that we still have plenty of bumps coming along the road, along with potholes.

But we're still together, and she's not locked in the Manor, struggling to leave. That's all I wanted out of today.

Now what I want out of the future is an open question, but at least I know we're going through it, together...

Paris's POV, 11:00 p.m.

Frankly, I'm relieved to know that at least through the holidays, I have a home where I don't have to be afraid for my mortality. That I don't have to quake in fear of Sharon coming to cut me down.

And yet, I'm still cautious. The bedroom door is still going to stay locked at night and there's going to be times I see a sweep of the headlights in front of the Gilmore home and hope it isn't her car. I'm still going to be hurting for at least a couple of weeks from her reaction physically, while the mental scars may never disappear.

There is a weight off my shoulders, but because of who I am, I know that it could be taken away from me in a matter of seconds. I have to live for the moment.

It's strange; I would have thought the spark would have disappeared by now. That we would have found a rhythm soon enough and our need to show our love for each other would have become normal by now. But there isn't a normal for us, and whenever we lay eyes on each other, there's a spark.

Even tonight, it's there. I'm in my pajamas, dreading that all we have is about to be put to halt for a few days thanks to Mother Nature, and still, I want it with her. I'm hurt as hell and my face is nearly back to normal, but still, I look at her and all my senses are heightened.

She can't touch me too much because of my injuries; how I got through lunch with those gymnastics I did is a miracle in itself. I just want to express my love for her, but because of Sharon, and still smarting over Louise and her feelings about our romance, I just can't. Not right now. I need to recover, to have a break and...yeah, it's frustrating. I have to deal with it and just know I can only give rather than receive right now.

It's late at night and I have all of these thoughts in my head, and eventually it all ends up in one place.

Well, one part of my body in one place. I just want to scratch this itch, but I'm a guest in Rory's home. I just can't...well, it would be uncouth. It's banal and animal and I certainly can't do it. This is my mind, after midnight, taking in her entrance into REM sleep and all I'm thinking is that if I was healthy, it would be me, and not her dog-eared paperback of Jane Eyre that helped her fall asleep.

Just all kinds of frustration building up here.

Mind you, I'm happy. Over the moon. Sharon can't touch me, Francie is but a figurehead at this point and now all I have to focus on is the Harvard gulag to come before the end of February. But I have to heal up first and...

"Ohhh God..." My left ear is jarred by a sudden sharp gasp in the air. Maybe I was just hearing things. Surely that isn't...it can't be--

"Yess, Par. Mmmm..." Dear, no, this is not happening. She isn't taking up sleep talking, there's just no way. "That's sooooo relaxing...ooohh."

This isn't helping that frustration. Not at all. I whimper as my mind goes from a focus on sleep to what she's saying in her slumber. I put my hands purposefully at my sides, not wanting to indulge myself. I really can't, I shouldn't. If I do something like put pressure on my foot, it would be an unwelcome trip to the emergency room.

Yet, I crane my head up to peek up at Rory in bed above me. My eyes are completely adjusted to the dark, so with the slight street light brightness coming through her window, I can indeed make out the outline of a hand slightly pressing against her stomach, feeling out, touching. I can't get turned on by this, and yet there is her body, slightly exposed.

I feel a tightness in my throat and my breathing becomes shallow. I immediately scold myself and want to go back to bed. But I have to admit, I'm entranced. I'm needing to see this. I mean, we've gotten ourselves off before, whether behind doors, through phone lines, or some other means. We know that we both get this wound up. I saw her in the town car when she just got glass-eyed and wound up over my fucking voice. And this afternoon she outright used my words to push our fulfillment further.

This is different though. It's more intimate, natural, tuned to how we are now. She continues to mention my name, in her sleep somehow undoing the drawstring on her sleep pants. I can smell her; I know she's in this mood where she's just not going to be put to a halt in rest.

Nor is my own body. I know it too well, that just as I'm hitting my period it wants that last gasp. Too many times this year I found myself in self-fulfillment to sate myself before nature takes its course. Sometimes, such as when I was in Washington with Rory, I just let myself off in the shower so it wouldn't end up in my sleep talking.

Then there was August, when a 96ºF evening and a call to her about newspaper strategy ended with a cold shower, damp clothes and my body oversensitive to such a point I thought I was going into some kind of shock. I was too turned on to even function.

I look at her dipping fingers below her waistband. She's in a purple tank top, her nipples fully peaked against the fabric and her shallow breathing in full force. She wants this, in her sleep, right now. I want to help her, but I know I can't, and I won't. Her body, her sleep, her choice and as I think about that, she purposefully drags herself along the mattress to use the friction to bring down her pajama pants. She turns around, and I can make out the top of her ass. I need to turn away...

But I can't even do that, unless I would like to sleep through a painful night. And amputating my foot below the ankle to cure that isn't exactly relief by any means. I'm stuck with turning my head, looking at her bookshelves, the lower parts where Rory keeps her guilty pleasure romance novels. OK, I can mock them in my head, have a laugh, go to sleep and relax.

Except now they're distracting me. Titles in gaudy fonts taunt me with the titles upon the spines. The Pleasure of the Countess. Her Magical Need. She Rode in For Her. That Unexpected Seduction...

And that one's really catching my eye. This isn't some garbage Bantam churned out quickly. All the titles are popping out at me, but even more, the little pieces of spine art that accompany them.

I wouldn't put it past Rory to have a bunch of male romance novels, stuff from the Victorian era with Fabio-like dolts on steeds and women who ignored the advice of their corset fitter and went wayyy too tight to the point there was no point to hiding their breasts at all or their very apparent breathing and gastrointestinal problems.

Yeah, the misfit corset women are still there; it wouldn't be a romance novel if it wasn't. But instead of burly men who would make Lou Ferigno look like a wimp...

On the other side of each cover, the star of each story? They were being held by a woman.

Another girl. Sure, the art certainly wasn't something that had a Harlequin cover artist quaking in their boots; these books seem to have a little more 'rebel' feel to them. I bring out That Unexpected Seduction from the shelf...

"Oh fuck!" I whisper to myself in shock. This wasn't something you'd find at the Stop & Shop checkout. Hell, no. This was a vintage pulp novel with slight wrinkling on the cover, a picture of a young brunette woman in 50's high school garb in the arms of another girl, a blonde, inches away from her lips, no corset to be found, or even a bodice to rip. Next to the picture, text reads 'She just needed to make him jealous, but she didn't expect to cut him out...for her!'

And in the background, I kid you fucking not? A good ol' motorbike of undetermined make or model, but judging from the blonde's dress of jeans and a tee pretty much accentuating her frontal accoutrements, they both weren't hopping on that bike with some other guy. I have just enough light to read a section that just happens to have the page bent back. Maybe it was some boring drivel about how she was torn between her feelings for a guy and the cover lady...

Except, I had to be careful. I was stopped by the pages stuck together, having to part them from each other slowly. That's...a sign of some kind? I then turn to the page and...

Um, wow, yeah, that last thing? Not caused by light water dampness seeping onto the page. This book was written in the 50's, but even for 2002, this scene I'm reading involving some bleachers and a small town dance would still be considered scandalous.

"Oh fuck..." I mouth out silently, just as Rory has an outburst of her own.

"Oh yeah...gooo down on me, Par-Bear...lick up my honey, fuck!" The sudden words startle me, and I whip the book out of my hand and in her direction, where it ends up bouncing right off her face. After a few moments she comes to.

"What the heck?!" she cries out rightfully, and I dart my head up to see her trying to adjust to being jarred awake. Her eyes slowly open and the first thing sighted by her is the spine of That Unexpected Seduction. Barely awake, she looks towards me, and then the book.

The alarm in her eyes is obvious. I'm still trying to get over her dream self-referring to her arousal as 'honey', but the more obvious thing was her revealed interest in lesbian pulp literature.

"Paris? Why did you toss this book at me?" Her voice is very tired, but in a charged way, is sexually husky and enticing. She looks at the title. "Oh...crap." She cringes. "You were never--"

I decide, honesty is for the best here. "Never discover your used bookstore sojourns would in another age result in prosecution under the Comstock Acts?" I smiled as she rolled her eyes at my teasing. "I think I found your porn, Gilmore, and I'm very interested to learn why a good girl like you would read these kinds of things?"

She picks up the book next to her, looking at the cover, hesitating at the discovery. "This isn't porn. It's...sensual and historical storytelling?" I shake my head. "I love the smell of cheap pulp?" Nope, still not good enough. "It's...well, yes, it's porn for my brain. That somehow Andrew and the other stores I go to have never restricted me from buying. But you'll notice that I don't, um, usually buy the books of guys. I only read women's work for my...guilty pleasure. Because they know better and they sort of have that edge to them, you know? Back in the old days it wasn't ever out there and this was only one of a few avenues to advance the need to read about lesbians."

She flopped her bare feet onto the floor, knowing she was explaining why and defending herself, holding the book. "I guess I can admit it; this book? I actually never bought it. Nor did I find it in a bookstore. It was actually up in the closet in a corner when Mom and I moved in."

"Wait...you told me a boy was in this room. So why would he--"

"It was hidden in the back behind the top shelf and it fell when I tried to shift the shelf all the way forward, probably from someone in the 50's. I doubt he ever laid eyes on the book because it was like new when I first read it. New being a relative term here." She held up the book. "I didn't even think about it; it was good writing. In my mind I could just imagine this puritan and prim world Susan Markey was in, boring school, boring boyfriend, boring interests, until Hester Garton came into it."

I was assuming that this discussion was going to be about how she hides these books. It couldn't be farther from the truth. "I looked this up online once, and it seems to be one of the few in the pulp age where the couple gets a happy ending, like that other one, The Price of Salt. A lot of these pulp lesbian characters just went back to their guys, or something cruel happened to their lovers to shame them from their sexuality. A few even ended with someone dying. I admit it; this was a gateway book to the rest of the stuff I keep on the lower bookshelves to keep wandering eyes away. I mean, I...I..." A pause. "God, this is hard to admit."

"What is?" I was confused. "Rory, you read these books, the confession is self-evident."

"Not that." A nervous laugh. "I mean...honestly I...I pretty much had to psyche myself up into being with Dean. I had read the classics, sure, but I'm a staunch feminist and most of the time I hoped some of the characters I read in fiction didn't end up in the altar. I wanted these girls to remain strong and independent. I imagined them happy without a man and with only a few guys in my life, I just did not see that traditional construct. That I was supposed to be attracted to a man." She placed the book down. "Dean...he came out of left field, entirely. I...I guess I just bought into all the 'Dean likes you' hype, the chauvinism between him and Tristan, and everything else and...frankly I was the Susan in that book. The first chapter isn't the usual 'meet cute', but the author introducing us to her single mother, her female influences and how she eventually just settled into the expected roles of society, kicking and screaming. It wasn't 'wow, blonde Hester on that bike is hot'...Hester wasn't even in until late in the second chapter and it's about 40 pages of her just being a snob because she thinks Hessie, as she calls her is an uncommunicative bitch who wants nothing to do with her, but really, it's her misconstruing how she woos her. It all makes sense and..." She took in another breath, sliding down onto my bed, building up to a confession.

"Paris? Did...did I just have a dream?" I nodded. "Was...was I kind of, sort of...profane?" Again, I nodded. "How profane was I?"

"For you? You wanted me to lick up what you called 'my honey' after dropping my nickname. Kinda shocked me."

A flush colored her face, and she whimpered with a lip bite. "Hearing you say it, me too." She grimaces. "I guess what I'm saying is..." A pause, and she slowly drifts her hand towards mine. I take it, softly. Her voice is still sleepy, eyelids drooping.

"I...I never, ever thought I would even get close to experiencing even ten percent of the things I've read in those books. I'd read them, dream about them, imagine myself as Susan or another heroine in one of those books. I've always known for years I had odd wiring, that a guy just never drew me. I mean I came off as dowdy in middle school and high school, but I did get ask-outs a few times. From good boys and a few jerks, but still, they were dating opportunities. But I turned them all down. I just never felt anything for them except that they got in the way of a good book to read.

"But then I had that freak-out over Mom going to the grandparents for money for Chilton and I don't know why it was Dean who I felt something for. Maybe it was his bland interests in books I mentioned? Or he was safe?" She waved her arms around, as if arguing with herself over her dating merits. "Then there was Tristan wanting me and you getting hot and bothered about him, and suddenly I built in my head 'I have to prove these richies wrong and I'm happy being a small town girl with the perfect boyfriend', so I just let Dean in."

With each new inch towards this moment, her voice became softer, the introspective of her life heavy. "And by the time I knew it wasn't working, that he was going to build the car for me...it was too late. I let myself become seduced by the idea of 'normal' love. That I needed to return his feelings, no matter that a handjob was icky, that he got jealous over anyone with a penis, or that I came off as the massive bitch when I couldn't say I loved him that night. I had to play the role. I had to be the woman that came with the small town dream girl that went to Harvard. And by doing that, I betrayed my solitary self, who just wanted to burrow with a good book, a hot cup of coffee, and maybe...another girl letting me rest my head against her on a sofa."

I was surprised by how much this book affected her. I didn't go in looking for a confession, just wondering why this book and those others. But this was better. It was giving me further insight into a girl I thought two years ago was a blank slate with no layers, but was no longer proving to be that at all.

"With Lane...I am truthful. I have never felt an attraction to her. She's my best friend. She will always be my best friend. It's almost like she's my sister. But I couldn't even tell her the truth about the self I was coming into. And when she squealed about each milestone I reached with Dean, I thought I was doing the right thing. That was what I had to do, because it was my role. I didn't want her to see me down and alone, but also happy because I was able to tell Dean this wasn't working."

"So what changes then? It's obvious now that Washington and Howard is a turning point, but there was more before that?" I ask. She nods, takes in a deep breath and tells me more.

"If I have to be honest...it was the test I was late for and blasted you and Tristan. But before that, when I was reading on the bench and you got behind me. Startled me just all the sudden and there you were, reciting Sonnet 116 in a way I wanted to think was combative, evil...bitchy." I caught my breath as she examined one of our first close moments together, moving closer toward me. "I wanted to tell you to get away from me, but I just stilled as your words slid into my brain. How you recited that as if that was my doom, but it really wasn't, was it?" I shook my head. "I mean, from day to day I can barely remember what annoying marathon of cartoons I watched with Clara and Dean as his parents used me for cheap babysitting, but I left that bench...and it was like my true self was exposed." She lowered her eyes. "As if you hit me right in the heart that no person has ever done."

Her voice softened as I let out a light gasp. "I remember your scent that day; I think it was a light honey and tea-tree shampoo?"

"I...I..." I didn't even know how to respond. This was a moment I meant to show how much I allegedly hated her. A place I intended to intimidate her. I nod, barely able to crane up my neck. "I did. Yes."

"I still remember all of it. How my heart was screaming that you were mentally pulling my pigtails, but it couldn't be that. No way. Uh-uh." Her eyes narrow. "You are who you are, and you don't have time for love." She swallows, going on.

"So I did all that cramming with Mom, and I thought, 'yes, I have this.' This was where I was going to prove you and Chilton wrong. Instead, I oversleep, end up late for school. And you know why?" A pause. "Do you know why, Paris?"

I shrug, rolling my eyes and preparing for the ridiculousness of the situation retold once again. "I think we were over this a thousand times before; you hit a deer, but actually the deer hit you, and--"

"It...it wasn't just that." Her voice quakes with emotion. "When I finally fell asleep, I was expecting it to be that odd sleep where the caffeine from earlier just screwed it all up. And it was. But once I reached the closest to REM I got that night...it was you."


She nodded. "I was sleeping with my head on a table, not in bed. Somehow, you were behind me, telling me this was fine, that I needed sleep. I had to have this sleep. And you were just...I don't know how I can describe it. I mean, you weren't an angel by any means; the dream you was still calling me Hayseed and telling me I'd blow the damned test. But you were massaging my back, whispering in my ear some encouragement that even if I sucked on this test, I still needed to be at Chilton, so you could have a rivalry with me." A pause, and then her eyes softened, staring at me dead-center. "Even with all this crap you pulled the first few weeks I was there, I was finding you a worthy rival, in my dreams, and it was scary to me."

This is where I expect it to end, just completely innocent. "But then I feel this crick in my neck, and I ask you to help me out. Don't ask why the dream happened this way, but it did." A grimace. "So you help me sort it out, you bring yourself close, flush against my back." I freeze in place. "And then before I can even think about it, you're nipping my ear telling me to play Susan while you're Hester, and instead of your Chilton uniform, you're in her tight shirt and jeans, and you're reciting dialogue from That Unexpected Seduction. Things are blurring together, the world of my secret books is colliding with real life, and suddenly the scene changes and we're in this small bedroom that feels like a Dobie Gillis set. I'm losing control. I'm seeing you with curls, that surly attitude, disinterest in my well-being, but you're fucking turned on for me...just, lit up."

I'm shaking my head. "Rory, this sounds like Dean--"

"Oh...hell no! This wasn't chauvinistic like that. Not at all. This dream, it was like...I...you know, like when you just find your bedspreads all over the place and your clothes somehow made it across the room?" I nodded. "This was that, except controlled. I was at a table. I managed to control it, and yet in the dream I was falling for you just getting me into sexual frustration as Hester and it's like...you were filling her role perfectly, except this was more human, emotional...definitely complicated. Flirting, foreplay, anger, all of it, and you warmed me up to the point where I was begging you to rip my blouse off as I untucked your t-shirt and...and..." She whimpered. "I'm recalling it and I just might have to take care of business soon."

"That good, huh?"

"Well, might be hearing it in hindsight. But..." A sigh. "I was just about to the point where I hit my hilt and I was physically getting wet when a sharp pain went through my back in real life, which roused me awake. I looked at the time, I was in trouble and thus began the disaster of that day." She groans. "It was a really good dream killed by the reality of it all, and to top it all off, I had just enough time to grab clothes, and that was it. I changed in the Jeep, but in the chaos..." she glowers in admission. "I didn't grab a new pair of underwear."

As much as I wanted to laugh, it would have been very cruel to do so, even if Rory wouldn't have minded. Instead I went with the next best thing, commenting on how she felt when I dropped the L-bomb.

"So half of that outburst was sexual frustration?" I let a little smirk play onto my lips. "Honestly I could've saw that with Tristan. But me? At that time? I can't believe it."

"Well, you should. I wasn't going to say a word about it to anyone because you can imagine I was already mortified about being late for the test. How could I say anything about it being because I had a sex dream about my rival? A female one at that?"

This was a lot to take in, to be sure. I knew there was history from our first moment together and that we were always on the edge of flirting with our interplay, but I didn't even think about it that way at all. She was a rival I had to conquer.

But yet, I knew. I worked out everything in my mind, trying to work out how the book ended up connecting to the awakening of Rory's sexuality. It's all beginning to make sense now, how she resisted Tristan's charms, but we came back at each other like charged ions, even when I told her I hatet her. She looks at me, nervous and trying to consider how all of this is registering within my mind.

"What you're saying then," I question her, "is that in a way, I'm the living embodiment of Hester. I'm her to you, but real, and tangible." I let my voice drift slowly. "But it went even farther back than that, didn't it? Before you ever read a word of lesbian fiction, that was your wiring. That's what you're telling me, that your declaration after the dance was just finally stating the obvious after years of denial."

I was trying to wrap my mind around this; despite Louise, it was more learning about myself through her to get to the point I am now. With Rory though, she didn't have that. She had no touch, no confirmation that she was indeed who she was before the moment her lips touched mine. It was all through the years only internal in her mind, of her experiences, her life. The way she was raised and how her wiring ended up where she was now. Her eyes are uncertain, but she also seems completely calmed and relaxed, as if all the weight of being the Heterosexual Hope of the Hollow was gone.

I recall her admittance of seeing Fair Game for Cindy Crawford. Even at an age she was when the film came out, it was jarring for her to hear her outright tell me she saw it for that reason.

But now, it's much more than a childhood story to me. With all we've gone through the last few days, it's another pinpoint into the building of Rory's character. She glances at me, our legs brushing.

"Paris...promise you when I admit this, you don't get mad or pissed off." I shake my head at the sudden profanity.

"Why would I?"

"Because...I...I...this has been something I've been hiding for the longest time. I'm scared I'll push you away or you'll reconsider everything, go back to Sharon--"

"Not happening," I assure her. "We can survive things now. I can't leave, and I won't leave." She's fearing me again. I don't want that and I'm scared to hear what she's admitting. The room goes silent for a moment. She continues to handle the book.

"You may want to--"

"Just spit it out!" I raise my voice at her, and she complies, a shock to her heart.

She gets down to it. "The first day. After we met and after I took down your moat." I nod. "When you were being a bitch about it and refusing my help and I finally got sick and tired of it and decided to one-up you on the questions." I nod, a bit chilled to see where she was going with this.

"When you were staring me down as I was one-upping you...I...I..." A whimper. "I wanted so badly to push you against a wall and just say that I wasn't here to bow down at my knees to you. And I looked at you acting so uppity and preppy and I thought I could grow to hate you. Instead...I just felt this surge of need. Like I had been caught and you knew my secret and then...you confronted me and told me to back off, but it felt like the exact reverse kind of thing. That you wanted me to stop hiding this true self. Not be Mary. Everyone else, I have this reputation as a pushover. But not you; I've always wanted to push you over, Par. Wanted to test your limits. Just see how pissed I could get you until we reached a point of no return. And I expected it very, very, very early on at Chilton. But you never wavered. You have always met me each and every time and for the last two years, it's been fucking frustrating." The bite in her voice is bitter. "We keep challenging each other, pushing each other beyond the boundaries in our minds. Even when I was stroking Dean off or dry-grinding my quim against him in jeans, I knew it was wrong. Not because it wasn't proper, but because it was against everything I believed in."

I'm holding a bare tether of control. She's saying this and it's taking me into a stupor. And then the admission.

"I have always been in lust with you. Even before I fell in love, I knew that we were bound from that day, that moment, those questions. Before that moment, I thought being attracted to other women was just a quirk I'd grow out of. That I'd just forget once a guy tore through my modesty and spilled his seed into me."

Her eyes are clear, her soul stirred. "That has never been, nor will it ever be, me. When I declared in my head my sexuality it was just to confirm the obvious. It was just a formality. It's probably why I just couldn't handle Tristan at all." She lowers her gaze. "I...I think honestly, in the back of my mind, I pushed you and Tristan together on that date because I hope you'd pair off, like was expected and you could leave me alone and make these feelings I've had for you go away and you'd be high school sweethearts. I never considered your history together, how you lived your life. I was just being selfish and I thought that I had to settle for Dean. The debutante ball, and playing into Jess's interest in me."

There are points in a relationship where a confession is catharsis. I had mine yesterday with Dr. Birnbaum, able to admit that if nothing stopped me, Louise would have been mine. But my mother had her way, and it forever put a fracture in our friendship hidden by sarcasm until the veneer was gone. When she ripped open the wound in the dining hall, I was in pain, but also relieved, because it was finally out there. It got Rory and I to open up and become stronger in the lead-up to Sharon trying to win me back.

But that's all over. Sharon has nothing in her arsenal, and the only ones trying to stop us are jealous. And now Rory, by sharing the meaning a simple book means to her, went even further than she had to, into a place I know is hard for her. To hide herself, who she was for even longer than I ever did, is a tough thing to do. I had physical abuse in my life, and the scars to prove it. They're visible, forever.

Rory has a supporting and loving mother, and strong family system. But she still has hurt inside, not just from her expectations, but her unusual rearing. I still barely know about her childhood in detail outside of the shed, but I can't even imagine what it's like to have a father feeling free to fail on his daddy's money down the San Francisco Bay and not giving a shit about the fate of his ex and his daughter.

But I also take in that one day she missed the test, I almost did lose her. My one word to her made her consider going back to a school she considered her own personal hell, where she was unchallenged and standardized testing, rather than full curriculum, ruled all. I feel tears prickle at the very thought of that regret; if she had left, things would have been incredibly different.

She speaks up again, and I hesitate as she does.

"The day you told me to fuck off after the tickets...yes, I was ecstatic about Dean, and Mom's proposal from Max. But as I let the afterglow lift after closing the door in here for the night..."

And this is where my heart absolutely breaks.

"I sobbed into my pillow for an hour and a half because I couldn't come to you like a goddamned friend and say 'yes, Tristan offered me these tickets, probably thought PJ Harvey was an enforcer for the Islanders, but I rejected him because I care more for our friendship than him'. I couldn't apologize over the devastation you felt. I carried that regret for the entire summer, through Rebuilding Together and all the shit you put me through. I took every single bit of hurt and hate you hurled at me, and you know why?"


"Because I deserved it. I took a blossoming friendship and let some warped sense of needing to be heterosexual get in the way."

"You need to stop--" I wasn't going to watch her beat herself up, but this is how she lashes out. I have to go with it.

"You had every right to ruin my life. I fucked you over. I deserved to write about parking lots and be belittled by you. I deserved all your scorn and after the debate I broke your heart and for what? Men. One who I can't stand, one who is a good friend, and one who puts himself above all else!"

I take her hands and begin to bring her into a hug.

"I'm saying this in the nicest way possible," I intone, "please, shut the fuck up."


I reach back, my hand moving beneath her tank top and rubbing her back in circles as I pull her atop me in a way that doesn't cause my leg to scream in pain. It's hard, but somehow I pull it off.

"Shhh...shhhh." I whimper as I feel her warmth against me, her scent so close. "We are here. Now. What our fucked-up pasts have to do with now is nothing. Absolutely nothing."


"I get to talk now." I made sure my tone of voice had no venom within it. I close my eyes, her soft breaths settling against my neck softly. "You are a courageous young woman, raised by an amazing and patient mother who just went to bat for me in a way I never thought possible. If you even consider that I'd fall out of love with you for how we behaved with each other those first two years, I'm not. I am so far in love with you that having you three feet away from me in your own bed is too far away."

"But my--"

"I love you for who you are. Whatever we did to be absolutely testy to each other, that's in the past. I am not letting my past get to me, and you shouldn't either. You are everything to me and you have to stop kicking your own ass about stupid little things we did. I can admit it, I was a bitch to you at the start. I can still be an amazing bitch to you when I'm not even thinking about it, like a second nature. But it isn't what is going to define us. I refuse to let it be. It should be the same for you; we overcame the poisons in our minds and among everyone else to be here, in this moment, in this bed, together." I moved my assuring hand up, the circles becoming faster against her back. "In my life, I have dealt with hurt, pain, hate, anger, exhaustion. There were even times when I thought ending it all might be the best way out. But you came into my life, you gave me a purpose beyond Harvard, and for that I have to be forever grateful. Not just to you, but your fighting spirit and that book for instilling in you the path we're on now. However you're wired, why you're attracted to me and why you save all this energy for only me, that's still a mystery, but I'm not letting you go."

She was able to smile at that and I continue to calm her, the rise and fall of her abdomen against my stomach a guide to her emotions. We remain silent for a long moment that seems to stretch to about five or ten minutes. I hope this has helped her to see that whatever I hate I first felt for her, it's long gone now.

"You...you mean all that?" she whispers.

"Every single thing." She looks at me, taking in a few breaths, realizing what we had just shared. She sighs and settles against me.

"I...I'm sorry."

"Don't...no, this is fine." I nodded. "This is exactly what Dr. Birnbaum probably wants, some emotional release. A lot of it actually." I shake my head. "You need this, to let go."

"I...I know." With a grimace, she brushes her fingers against my shoulders. "I've just been under the mind that I take my knocks in life and go with it."

I shake my head. "You do need to change your thinking on that a little. Don't hold everything in, because it could cause something bad later in life."

"I know. I just..." She shakes her head. "You're more understanding about this than I thought, you know. I thought you were going to say it was impossible to know my sexuality so early on."

"Ror, it's like puberty; you either know or it just springs up suddenly." I feel her settle against me, her right arm against my left. "I assume you're down here the rest of the night?"

"Too wound up," she admits. "Now you have me thinking about this book and...I'm frustrated."

"Not just mentally, I take it."

She shakes her head and lets out a groan of frustration. "I'm going to be the good girl and let my urges go because I don't want you to be short-changed." I glance at her and notice that indeed, there's frustration within her eyes and coloring her cheeks.

Even more obvious though, is how her body is wound up. Minutes of ranting had to free her soul, but bringing out all that frustration has her turned on from expressing a fantasy going years back from that book. I decide to test her.

"Urges, you say. So if I did...this, you might not want to be a good girl." Slowly I move my forearm up, just enough to disturb the material of her tank top. "All that frustration out and me close by. It can't help your mood, Gilmore."

Her reaction is immediate, as she lets out a shuddering breath. "I...really want to wait for you," she gasps out. "I can't handle touching myself in the shower."

It's an absurd, but understandable answer. "Then lock the door and let yourself off while Lorelai and I are in the other room." I let my hand linger along her side, moving up the material of Rory's shirt to bare the skin beneath. I know exactly what she needs.

"I can't...it's unbearable." She bites her lip. "You're in the other room talking normal to Mom and I'm here thinking of you with a hand down my jeans and for now I can't do anything besides getting myself off because--"

"Rory?" I give her a direct look.


"You want to touch me?"

"Well, yes. But you're--"

"I'm injured, not amputated," I mention, shaking my head, my tone softening as I knew this was a perfect time to sate our urges. "Are you scared to query me?"


"Well..." I smile, letting my fingers wander down to the waist of her sleep pants. "I'm definitely open to it, and more than that, talking you through it." I brush the elastic, my nail creasing across her flesh.

She shook her head. "But...there's germs. I know you and it's a bit different when I'm...actually down there. And Louise."

I nodded. "I'm far from ready to be back to normal. That's going to heal eventually. But for now....I was the real good girl today." I licked at my lips. "I somehow kept enough self-control of myself to have you be pleased and only took a little pleasure for myself." She nods, her breath shuddering as my ministrations move along her navel. "You've thought of it though?"

She nods back at me. "We're next to each other and when I'm alone, I think of your hands. Stained with pen ink, a bit grey with graphite, or just clean..." I press my index finger below her navel now, pushing it just a small bit beneath her sleep pants. "In Greek mythology once, you lent me a pencil when mine snapped. Our hands brushed for just a second and suddenly it's in my mind all the rest of the day. But in that class, it sent a pulse up my spine."

Oh, I'm interested in this. "I took my notes and then I crossed my legs together and...that's all I felt the rest...of the period. Your fingers. One little touch had me so needy, and then wet and..." She pants as I begin to make out her underwear waistband. "I just felt it all. I got damp and then just shut my legs together...and rode it out."

"This was before you borrowed my shirt."

"Last year just after the debate and Sherrie and so much frustration because the way you touched me, it didn't just feel like a regular pen hand-off. It was like you were making a point secretly to me. It screamed to me 'here's the fingers you missed that night, Gilmore, let me taunt you with them.'"

"They're here now, aren't they?" I remind her. She grits her teeth, panting. "Ooh, got a few little curls leading down the road, Gilmore." I play with the wispy hair, then let my thumb feel out her panty material, which feels thin and sparse. "You also thought you were done with me tonight."

"Thought so, but obviously not." Her own hand is drifting towards my core, taking a more direct course than I am. I shudder at the slightest of contact. "We're odd. Confessing long-time secret crushes one minute, the next..." And now I'm whimpering; her right index and middle fingers are making a line down my pajama pants. "...wooing and flirting shamelessly."

"We never had shame," I note. "We leave it all out there for everyone to see pretty...much. " I gasp as the fingers press through the one layer hiding my modesty from her. "This...clearly a mistake. I need to start wearing underwear to bed."

"Permission denied." She smiles at me and I creak out a moan as she finds my clitoris and strokes it through my pajama pants. She brings herself close and with her other hand, tips my head in her direction and brings me into a slow kiss. I continue to tease her despite her directness and how deep we're getting into this, hooking my finger along her panties and then releasing a few times to rile her up. Rory squeals against my mouth from the tension building up, then releases the kiss as her fingers stroke the material of my pants against me.

"Isn't technically sex here," she mentions with a soft voice. "We're mutually giving each other pleasure, so we're within doctor's orders. Not sex."

"It's sexual," I correct. "And don't be nice about it. We're mutually masturbating."

"You call it what you want and...oh my God!" I lower my other fingers to meet her mound through the thin fabric. "That's...friction...yeah..."

With my free hand I slide my arm out of the sleeve of my bedshirt, while pushing it to the other side so it'll only be a minor distraction while I finger Rory off. Not that I have a sense of control as I try to imagine anything but spilling over prematurely. I look down and I can feel the material fully ensconced between my lips with Rory's fingers making various circling motions against my erect clit. I tangle out of the shirt until it's at my arms, the same time as Rory works herself out of her purple tank, though she just goes with pulling down the straps and exposing herself.

It's getting warmer in here. I can feel the boiling need between us, the fear that an attic massage would be it. No longer; we're both free. I feel her eyes upon me as the fabric of my pajama pants begins to soak up arousal. My own hand moves into her simple 5-pack briefs as I feel a pool of arousal and need that has ruined them forever.

"Fuck...need you..." she grits out, and I comply. We're reaching that point where we know we can't stop this. I'm holding my injured leg as still as can be. It's then she notices something I never even cared about solely by feel.

"A men's fly?" She smirks, opening the button on the pajama pants. I shrug at her finding.

"One of my more annoying relatives has gifted my dad nothing but pajamas since he was in his teens; he sleeps in shorts and a t-shirt. He just gives them to me because he'll never wear them and they're very comfortable."

She nods. "Accessible too." Just the way she says that with her innocence is enough to tighten me up even more. Her eyes seem to light up with glee at the discovery. "Let me guess; he hates those stupid nightgowns as much as I do?"

"He wanted to burn them." A finger slides in and senses my folds, and that's when my mind loses the track with her innocent and playful demeanor with her digit forming into a hook. "Oh, damn..."

"I hate you in any clothes at night," she confesses, lifting up her hips and using her free hand to shove down her sleep pants. "I...hate it when you're down there and not having...fun...with me..." We're looking at each other, going solely by touch as we massage each other towards what's been building up since our tease and fun on Sunday night, and farther back since Thursday. "Press...deeper."

"Inside," I beg of her, while complying with her own wishes. I know she loves pressed stimulation, while I need mine a bit inward. The pants I'm in eventually end up at my knees, while she grunts and shakes her head at pulling her underwear down, confessing her want of my fingers covered in her arousal. She's getting very slick. I spare a look down to see her breasts firm and peaked and this image of Rory in the dim light...I can't help it, it's so beautiful. She begins to sweat, her perspiration glistening her forehead.

But I'm losing my focus. She just finds this spot...this one spot...oh, fuck.

I tightly close my eyes and begin to sweep circles across her clit. I hear bare echoes of her imploring me to 'ride my hand, Par, ride it 'til you come'. Our bodies press closer, thigh to thigh and I bring her close to allow myself to feel her flesh against mine. Just like this afternoon, I can tell when she's getting there, but it's going to be a lot faster this time...

She's far from idle herself though. I still can't believe this quiet young woman is like this sexually, and her thumb is making small motions against my clit as she continues to bring me off with the other against that wonderful spot. I'm overwhelmed, dizzy, needing this new release. The both of us, just focused on each other. I feel her through and through, her clit so thick and apparent as I circle her off. Her mouth opens wide and she shudders, dropping a long drawn-out 'fuck' with each breath. My fire is stoked and soon I can feel the last shudders before I lose control as her fingertip presses deep against my spot...

I quickly have to cup my hand with my mouth, my usual avenue of screaming into Rory's shoulder out because of my injury. But it's still really damned good and I lengthen out Rory's come to make it all that more satisfying.

Still, my own release suddenly feels like all the emotions of the weekend and the last two days are gone and my body can relax. I shudder and whimper, pushing my hips against her hand, wanting to take all of it in. I feel tears being urged on, all the mirages of what we missed thanks to Sharon. I cry out my love for this fiery brunette freely, the walls of her bedroom containing my screams of joy and release.

Soon, I give into her demands and let her off too, her contained cries vibrating through her body as I feel her relief at having a much needed come after having to hold it in through fear and anger. She grasps the side of the mattress as she lets herself spill over into my hand, my name being interchanged with liberal profanity and declarations of her love for me. Her hair is a mess and after fighting with her emotions, she can finally feel like she's won.

It's not long, and certainly there isn't any elegance to this, but it's what we needed. I know it'll keep me sane when I end up trying to get through the rest of the school week without biting anybody's head off. The release is something the both of us only share, and it's well deserved, and she looks at me with tired blue eyes, slowly withdrawing her hand and moving it up my back. I make no moves to remove my hand, continuing to circle her clit through her panties as I can feel she doesn't mind it in much slower motions.

There's so much fight to her, and she went through a hell of a lot these last few days to defend our love. But Rory doesn't quit. She never has, and never will, and that's what unites us, is that we drive through everything, together, at each other's sides. She begins to settle down and I look at her, trying to catch my breath from this gamut of emotions we just spent the last however many minutes it took. I drag my hand against her stomach and she gasps at the trailing of her own cum along her body.

"That's so damned sexy," she admits, softly but with a bold streak of mischief. A small smile on her lips. "Gushing for you. Only for you."

I snort unladylike, lifting my fingers up a few mere millimeters; immediately a small drop forms and I can feel it pool against a fingertip.

"Naughty bookworm," I whisper. "Reading dirty pulp novels and allowing me to make you spill over." She blushes. "Someone's also got a strong lingerie kink. Doesn't matter if it's a Hanes Her Way pack, blue hose, or the Secret, she wants to be fucked in them, doesn't she?" I break apart my index and thumb, allowing a string of her cum to stretch in a little spiderweb-like string. "You have fun being dressed and undressed."

"I...do," she admits, without reservation, content with me circling her nipple with my damp hand and letting out a deep moan. "We need to go to Granby when you feel better, no doubt."

"Ror, you're going to ruin all the merchandise," I say, rolling my eyes, as she shudders from her long roll-around of her left nipple. "Also, I'm not much for a public PDA."

"Oh, I wouldn't feel you up in public. Gosh, no." There's her devious look. "And don't think I'm going hands-off you the rest of the week; you're still going to get plenty of physical affection. I'm testing you."

"You are?" I shake my head. "You know how I can get, so I cannot expect you to break through." She moves in to kiss me, while taking my hand at the same time. She brings it up, damp fingers and all, then takes a slow lick of my middle and index fingers while bringing me in at the same time for a taste.

I don't expect this at all; I wanted to play the 'you taste good' game. But this is even more intimate, and daring. This is a fully aware, fully sexual and uncontrolled Rory, knowing and not caring that she has to be the small-town girl. She sucks at my fingertip as I lick at the sides. Closing her eyes, she feels absolute bliss at her taste, while I have near the same reaction. I dip my fingers in more within her mouth and a small pooling of saliva, withdrawing them into mine to commingle our tastes together. It's intoxicating as we get lost with each other again to the point I close my legs in, pinning her hand between them. She breaks the kiss for a moment.

"Breaking you now," she says, making her point without much elaboration. "You fucking need me. I'm like a drug you can't get enough of."

Shit...she's right. So right. I expected this to be over, but it isn't. Ribald, daring and definitely not backing down; this is the real Lorelai Leigh Gilmore, and even as my academic mind is screaming at me to get to bed, everything else is saying I need another go.

I nod. "Break me," I say, my throat barely able to enunciate. "I'm your love, and your lust object." Her eyes turn a darker shade I can still see through the spare moonlight.

She wants me. I want her.

Rory Gilmore saved my life. Saved me from hell, and from a life of misery and obedience to my mother. She can have me however she wants.

My love for her is so deep, I cannot physically take her so far from me any longer...

Lorelai's POV, 10:30 p.m.

This is what I needed. This is what I wanted. To know that I have the security of the justice system keeping these girls together, unafraid that a vicious and angry woman will do anything to get in their way, up to and including bodily harm. Putting on my pajamas and knowing Rory and Paris are safe and there's only running out the clock until next Wednesday morning at 12:01 a.m. to worry about, it's a burden lifted off from me.

I was scared going into this morning, but at least I know now that I don't have to worry about that vile woman trying anything with any of us. And that we have the deep support of the town behind us, as was shown by most everyone at Luke's tonight, who appreciate Paris just as a girl looking for herself with Rory in tow, and not how she comes off.

I'm quickly becoming their advocate, a role I never thought I'd have. Defending Rory's girlfriend was something I never had pictured in her eighteen years of existence. But it's come naturally, somehow, in some way. Having her father put his trust in me is something I do not intend to break at all, and I will make sure Sharon cannot get to her unless she has a major change of mind.

After leaving the diner though, Michel called me. We have known each other so long, and even with our biting and withering insults at work, deep down, there is friendship there.

There's also a bond. Where I was pushed out of Hartford society because of Rory's existence, Michel no longer knows his father, who turned his back on him when he admitted something to the man that rocked his deep and unbending Roman Catholic faith.

We all know, Sookie and I, along with Rory. And Mia. Michel maintains a strong and vibrant bond with his wonderful mother. But barring a miracle, we will never know Marcelle Gerard, and only for the sole reason that Michel chose a different path for his love. One that ended with him kicked out of the largest Catholic high school in Québec City, and a wound that's remained upon his heart ever since because of whom he had to leave behind.

The both of us talked for a half-hour. It was the deepest the both of us talked about his personal life in years. He had not approached Paris yet, wanting to give her time and space to deal with everything. But what he told me, I don't think I can forget.

"I will not judge your daughter and her lover at all. I see them both as equals. But sadly, there are many in this world who will never do that. They only see what they want to. Mon père sees my existence as a waste of time, along with many of those men in Québec who schooled me. They see me as a waste of time, and have consigned me to hell. The hell with them. And your girls should know that; no matter how many discount them for their love for each other, many more will support them. Just like you, Mia, and even Sookie have for me. Even if I cannot bear currently to find someone for myself, I offer my full support for them."

I blinked back tears as he went on, knowing that this call was tough. He hadn't even admonished me in any way for hiding this revelation from him, fearful of what he would say, if he would lash out against Rory and Paris for their relationship, and think of me as an awful parent. He did not, in any way.

"They will lose so many people, Lorelai. It will hurt, it will be painful, and it will gut their hearts. But in turn, they will gain a circle of new people to know. A vibrant bunch of people, who look out for each other and will protect them with all that they have. Do not fear anything, and just know that you are doing everything right. You went to court to defend Paris today, and for that, I can be forever grateful to you, knowing that you thought odd of all of this at first, but have pushed all that away, because of who you are. An open and caring woman. And although us two spar all of the time, at the end of the day, we are friends who keep confidences. You hold my secrets and let me live as I'd like."

A pause. "You are an ally to us, Lorelai. And for what you have done for that girl, I cannot thank you enough."

We talked further. There are still fears about idiots like Bootsy, who we know there are much worse forms out there. Of Sharon trying to use somebody else to undermine Paris's protection and get around it. And I'm sure we haven't finished dealing with Dean, who is manifesting the worst of what I feared, that he would be possessive of Rory when he found out.

But at least there's plenty of allies here. Sookie is doing her best to understand why Rory is who she is now. After meeting Dr. Birnbaum, I can never fathom being glib about Paris's mental health again, knowing that she is getting the best care from someone who deeply cares about her, along with her main physician Dr. Merton. Her nanny loves her like she loves her own children, to the point of those children calling her a sister. Madeline is proving herself that she isn't just a tag-along friend doing Paris's dirty work, and is helping her find her way.

And Luke...in his own way, I think he's good with it. It kind of helps that Jess is settling into a 'good friend' track with Rory and he doesn't have to worry about them at all. I certainly don't much longer; the spring and that accident is long history now.

I'm about to go to bed, knowing that things could have gone worse--

Shoot, my phone is ringing. At least it's the cell, so I don't have to search for it. I find it right away...

What?! I pick it up.


I'm surprised at 10 o'clock at night to see the words 'Dad - Office' on my screen. "Is there something wrong?" I'm in a small panic. "Are you OK, do we have to--"

He stops me immediately. "I assure you, I am fine, Lorelai. In completely good health. But I just wanted to say I heard the news about Paris's custody hearing from earlier in the day from my friend Maxine Gray, and that she is safe with you. Congratulations."

My dad sounds very proud and relieved. "That's what you called about?" I didn't know what to say. "I didn't know you were even following the case."

"I was; Elisa Keller interned several years ago at my company as a paralegal and was sterling, and is a hard-working young woman. I just telephoned my congratulations to her firm and asked that she receive a considerable holiday bonus for what she did for you, Harry and Paris this afternoon. I am very relieved that she is being protected by you and that Mrs. Gellar cannot easily reach her." A pause. "I was worried about her the moment I heard about the incident at the Manor Saturday morning. Thank you for taking in that young woman, my dear."

"It really wasn't anything, Dad. I wasn't going to leave her out in the cold." I don't know what to say; I'm afraid that Emily will come in any moment to tell me off after ripping the phone from Dad's hands.

"But it was everything. And that abhorrent Roland Hampton, to see him go down in defeat, finally? I am glad that his downfall will be from his client trying to harm her daughter and nakedly trying to get that poor young woman back, like the court would send her back under threat of harm. I'm very proud of Maxine's daughter for taking in all arguments and coming to a proper decision, and that is a fineyoung fine young woman who is going places in this state."

"If it helps, he left feeling like Judge Gray shredded the last remaining pieces of his manhood. Apologies for the crudeness." I laugh nervously, expecting a lecture, only to get a hearty laugh in return.

"None needed. He's an awful cheat at the golf course, making that insufferable and obnoxious Donald Trump with his multiple mulligans and 'stroke-saving' drops look like Arnold Palmer in comparison. To put it mildly, he is an amoral jackass who is the shame of the state bar, and 'tis a good season to see him humbled, especially by a fair jurist like Ms. Gray. And hopefully the firm will now have the guts to fight more of his frivolous insurance claims for his list of rogue clients." I'm relieved to know my dad is all fine with this, and he gives me more good news. "I would also like you to know I've heard from others that DCW is adamant that Sharon will not be asked to tender a resignation and she will remain their chair, so Bitty Charleston has seen it fit that they will not be holding their events in their regular hall in Newington any longer. They are currently scrambling with a country and western line dancing bar in Bristol and a quienceañera venue on the West Hartford-Bloomfield line to get their next benefit somewhere to go, and the latter is asking an extremely high deposit to hold the event due to the short notice given. I think there was mention of a young quienceañera honoree who will curse Sharon to the netherworld if they push aside their long-held date and move them to another venue, thus the hiked rate."

"Justice in the world." I was glad to hear that DCW's stubbornness wasn't helping them at all. Still, there was something paramount. "Umm...how did Mom take it?"

"She hasn't told me. Not a word about Rory or Paris since you three departed, sadly. She's deep into planning for New Year's and I've attempted to broach things several times. I apologize, Lorelai. She has not yielded one bit, even as I've told her I see no problem with Rory and Paris's union." He sounds defeated, like he has been breathlessly trying to melt this unneeded détente. "Hopefully in the next few weeks she will miss Rory and accept her. But for now, there's nothing I can do. And I miss you both dearly, brightening my life."

I shake my head. "I do too." We continue to talk, as I catch him on everything. It's good to know that my dad is on our side, even as he risks everything with Mom. I hate that we must to be this way for now, but I know things will eventually heal.

They have to, right?

I am just thankful that for now, Paris will still be here. That I can keep her safe. And hopefully, I will be able to return the favor in the next few days in some form, hopeful that the future continues to have her in it, with Rory, strong and solid together--

And now, Dad has just said the word 'prick'. To describe Hampton. And I'm laughing. Time to continue to mock bad lawyers with my dad, knowing the girls are fine, whatever they're doing below me.

Not that I'm telling him what I think is going on with them right now, of course. Nor do I have to know, either...

Part 27

Ending author's note - Yes, my personal canon is that Richard would harbor a resentment against you-know-who for his cheating at golf and would never support his advancement in any avenue of public life solely for that reason. I'm sure that's the canon of a lot of others too ;).

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