DISCLAIMER: As much as I would love to say that I own Paris, I sadly do not. She and Rory belong to Amy Sherman Palladino.
SPOILERS: Occurs after Twenty-One is the Loneliest Number. I didn't like Rory and Paris with their respective boyfriends, so I decided to tweak things a bit.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: I don't generally like to write non-NC 17 fic, but I didn't think I could stretch this to incorporate naughtiness without completely ruining the characterization. How'd I do?
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Pinch Me
By UbiquitousMixie


Rory realized with a sigh that her mother and Luke had left. It was upsetting. Did she even take her chocolate box? She watched the people swarming about the party and wondered how she managed to have a twenty-first birthday so drastically different from what she wanted. She couldn't believe Logan had the nerve to flaunt his money around to her by offering to paint Atlantic City red with her. How dare he even suggest that he could replace Lorelei? What an ass.

She chose to avoid him now and stood sipping her disgustingly pink beverage while she observed her guests. Lane and her boyfriend were kissing in a corner. Emily was yelling at a server for some show of incompetence. Logan was talking to some older woman who reeked of money and sexy perfume, and Rory found she didn't care. And Paris and Doyle, well, they were being them. Rory laughed to herself as she remembered the discussion they had. She supposed they were a cute couple…but then again, she couldn't be sure. Paris didn't seem as happy to be with him as she was to announce her new status at the paper.

Looking at her blonde friend now, Rory wondered why Paris was looking so perplexed. Doyle was holding up the conversation with another couple, and Paris was unusually quiet. She looked deep in thought. Rory wondered what about.

She had to admit though, Paris looked lovely. What a rare treat for Paris to be dressed in something so low cut and un-Paris-like. What was the occasion? Well, not including the obvious occasion that was Rory's birthday party. Rory was not ashamed to admit the aesthetic pleasure she was receiving by looking at her friend. There was nothing wrong about admiring Paris's beauty, especially since she was straight. Right?

It was so strange to be 21. To be an official adult, complete with an alcoholic beverage in hand. It was amazing to Rory how quickly her life was moving. She watched her blonde friend and contemplated the passage of time through her. It seemed like only yesterday that Paris was the angry, long-haired teenager in the standard Chilton uniform, and now look at her: she was a woman, significantly more beautiful and refined. She felt a stirring in her chest that she had certainly not felt when they first met; Rory was very happy that they had moved past the awkward dislike and were now relatively good friends. But there were times when Rory felt completely removed from Paris's life. Since she left Yale, she rarely spoke to her and didn't realize until now how much she missed Paris's conversation. The blonde's sarcasm, wit, and intellect were treasured by Rory, and she resolved to make Paris's friendship a more permanent fixture in her life.

She sipped again from her drink and crinkled her nose. It really was truly dreadful. What was Emily thinking?

As the evening progressed and guests began to slowly filter out of the Gilmore mansion, Rory wondered what she would do tonight. She had no desire to spend time with Logan. Perhaps she would snag one of her grandfather's books and hide away in her room. As she mentally scanned Richard's bookshelves, Paris approached. Rory was surprised to see her detached from Doyle.

"Happy Birthday, Rory," Paris said warmly, giving her friend a hug.

"Thanks, Paris. Where's Doyle?"

"Oh, he's found some writer-friend of your grandfathers and they are off somewhere discussing the semi-colon."

Rory laughed.

"Rory, I was wondering if I could talk to you alone for a minute?"

"Sure, Paris. Is everything all right?"

"Yes," Paris began, but she stalled, looking around. "I don't want to get into it out here. Is there somewhere more private that we can go?"

"Sure. We can go up to my room. No one will miss us." Rory knew she was lying; if Emily were to notice Rory's absence, for however short a time, she would be furious. But for Paris, Rory knew without a doubt that she would skip the rest of the party if necessary.

Rory and Paris ascended the staircase and both women noted the noise of the party slowly dissipating. It was a welcome quiet.

Once inside Rory's room, Paris stared down at her drink and then looked up at her friend.

"Your drink is terrible."

"I had no participation in the creation of this drink, I promise."


Rory stood awkwardly beside Paris, and then went to her bed and sat. "Do you want to sit down?"

"Sure. Thanks." Paris placed her drink upon the nightstand and sat beside Rory.

"So what's going on, Paris?"

Paris looked as though she had been preparing for something, but then lost her nerve. "How does it feel to be 21?"

Rory was oddly disappointed by the question. She had expected more from Paris, especially since Paris knew she hated being asked that type of question. "The same as it did to be 20, I guess."

"Can you believe how time flies? I've been thinking a lot about the past and our friendship; Terrance and I have had long discussions about it."

Rory looked at Paris and tried to crack the cryptic words that were flowing from her friend's glossed mouth, but to no avail. "Like what?"

"Okay, well, I have to get this all out at once. Please don't interrupt, okay?"

"Of course, Par. Talk to me. You're not dying, are you?"

"Not physically, no," Paris said quietly, tears forming, and clouding her brown eyes from Rory's view.

Rory placed her hand on Paris's and urged her to continue.

"Do you remember when we first got to Yale, and I told you that our journey wasn't over?"

Rory nodded.

"Then that's where I need to begin. I had no idea at the time that I would come to depend on you so much. The foundation for our friendship was paved at Chilton, and I cherish those memories because they are the first times I can remember being happy and having a friend who valued me for me, not for my intelligence. I've always considered you my equal because let's face it, you are. Even though you were number 1 at Chilton, I always felt that I was right there with you. Not because I wanted to be number 1, which to some degree I did, but it was more than that. I've always wanted to stand by your side and boast that we were the top, that the two of us could do anything."

Rory watched as Paris struggled with her words and wondered where this was going. She noticed that she was absent-mindedly running her thumb over Paris's knuckles and loved how it felt. Paris's words were tugging on her heartstrings, and she entwined her fingers with Paris's and held it tight to show that the feelings were mutual.

"And being with you at Yale has been even better. Living with you and spending time with you has only strengthened our friendship. You've been there for me through everything. You've been there to help me through my tumultuous love affairs with Jamie and Asher. You've helped tear down that wall I've spent 16 years building and I swear that sometimes I feel the ice melt around my heart a little."

Paris took a deep breath and looked up into Rory's eyes. "It's your birthday, Rory, and there's been something I've wanted to tell you for a very long time. The best present I felt I could give you was honesty, because you deserve to know exactly what's going on. You can choose to do whatever you like with the knowledge I'm about to give you, whether it be laugh with Lorelei about it or push it out of your head the minute you see Logan again or make a newspaper comeback and write a sordid tale about the disposition of Paris Gellar, but it's time you knew the truth."

There was a long pause. Paris licked her lips and took another breath. "I don't know how to explain this, Rory. I want so badly to be able to rip out my heart and have it transform into some eloquently written letter explaining everything to you so that you don't have to deal with my disorderly ramblings." She looked at Rory, her eyes tinged with intensity and something that Rory couldn't quite make out. Fear? "Please promise me, Rory, that you won't hate me after I tell you. I need to know that when we leave this room I will still have my best friend."

Rory softened and pulled the blonde into a tight embrace. "Paris, you're my friend. I could never hate you, and, like it or not, you're stuck with me." She ran her hands soothingly over Paris's smooth back and caught a faint whiff of Paris's exotic shampoo. Rory heard Paris inhale a little deeper, as if trying to absorb as much of her smell as possible and felt Paris's grip tighten slightly. Rory knew she would need to pull back but felt a pang of sadness at this thought.

After what seemed like hours of holding each other, Paris and Rory separated and Paris took both of Rory's hands in hers. She scooted slightly closer and began. "When you asked me earlier if I was dying, I know you were joking, but my answer was serious. I feel like a part of me is dying, Rory, because I'm in a relationship based on sexual gratification that isn't even that gratifying. I'm telling you this because I'm in love with someone else, and have been for years. I thought that I could keep it hidden and to myself, but Terrance figured it out immediately and has been urging me to take steps to reveal my feelings. I came so close once, but it ended in a kiss that was passed off as advice from Madeline and Louise and had a rather negative reaction. But I can't keep it to myself anymore, Rory. You know how I am; I'm not a lovey-dovey romantic type of girl, but I'm not exempt from feeling a love so intense that I can't concentrate on anything else. I love you, Rory Gilmore. I kissed you once, not because I thought we were doing Spring Break incorrectly, but because I wanted to see what your lips tasted like. And I want to do it again except this time not have you run off and misunderstand my intentions. Madeline and Louise told us that we would make a good couple and I can't help but believe them. You are my equal and best friend. And I've finally come clean and again, I pray that you will not hate me because if you do, that part of me that I've been sustaining for so long will wither away."

Rory's heart beat so hard against her chest that she felt it would explode. She had no idea how to comprehend everything that Paris had told her. She had never considered Paris in a romantic way; she had never considered that aspect of her straight-self that wasn't actually so straight. But now, after Paris poured her soul into Rory's lap, Rory knew only one thing: she wanted to kiss Paris. No one had ever spoken to her like this before. No one had ever made her feel so worth loving. Paris Gellar, her beautiful, intriguing friend, was in love with her and Rory felt a Pandora's Box open inside of her.

Yes. She wanted to kiss Paris. And so she did.

The contact of lips surprised each woman. The blonde's hands tightened around the brunette's, and Rory closed her eyes. Paris loved her. Paris loved her. Paris loved her. And as Rory deepened the kiss, she was beginning to realize that she loved her too.

It started softly. Rory reveled in the feel of her lips brushing Paris's and was amazed at how soft they were. Surely their kiss was nothing like this in Florida…how could Rory have ever freaked out when it felt this good?

Slowly the kiss begin to morph into something that neither woman had anticipated. Rory took the lead; she knew Paris had too much respect for her to let her own feelings overpower what Rory wanted. Hands detached and sought round curves and bare skin. Paris headed for Rory's waist, while Rory placed a hand at Paris's cheek and pulled her closer while her other hand rested upon the blonde's shoulder, where her fingers toyed with the strap of the dress.

Tongues met and stroked softly, and Paris expressed her feelings with a deep moan that had Rory feeling dizzy with a passion that Logan had never been able to induce.

When the need for air abounded, they unwillingly separated and looked into each other's eyes.

"I take it you don't hate me then?" Paris asked.

"How could I, after such a heartfelt declaration?"

"I need to know how you feel," Paris said, biting her lip.

Rory took a deep breath. "I feel so many things right now, Par. That kiss…wow. To answer the question you asked in Florida, your kiss is amazing. You were perfect."

Paris blushed.

"To be honest, I never expected this. I never considered you as anything more than a friend, but you've opened up so many doors that I've shied away from. It's always been there, I think. I've made so many mistakes in my lifetime but I can't help but know that since we become friends, everything that's happened with you at my side has been right. I want more of you. I think I'm in love with you, too."

Paris's smile was unrecognizable to Rory. She had never seen it before. She had never seen Paris so happy. Rory felt as though happiness were a balloon being blown up in her chest; it filled her in such a way that she never wanted to let it deflate.

As Rory leaned in for another kiss, the sound of glass breaking at a far away corner of the house broke them from their reverie.

"We should get back downstairs, shouldn't we?" Paris asked sadly, standing.

"Yes. But I think we can go on unnoticed for a few more minutes."

Rory closed the gap between them and kissed Paris with as much passion as she could muster. Rory tangled her fingers in Paris's hair and Paris placed her hands on either side of Rory's face. Tongues danced as bodies flushed together. Heat washed over Rory and she wanted nothing more than to explore this newfound passion, but knew it would have to wait. She found her mind wandering to those thoughts of explicit intimacies, but returned to the current kiss so that she could savor every bit of it.

As they broke from the kiss, they remained holding each other, the silence enveloping them like a warm blanket.

Paris kissed Rory once more before grabbing her drink. "I should go. Can I see you tomorrow?"

"I'd love that."

Paris smiled and pinched herself. "Good. Not dreaming."

"No, this is all reality. This is too perfect to be a dream."

"Happy Birthday, Rory. You look beautiful tonight."

"Thanks, Paris. You look pretty gorgeous yourself. Thank you for my present. It was the best one I could've gotten."

Paris blushed once more and kissed Rory's cheek. "I love you, Ror."

Rory smiled and watched Paris head for the door. Before the blonde could reach for the doorknob, Rory stopped her.

"Wait. There's something I need to do."

Paris watched quizzically as Rory approached. Rory bent her head and sought the freckle adorning Paris's neck. She kissed it softly and soothed it with her tongue and felt Paris shiver.

"I've always wanted to do that," Rory smirked. She kissed Paris once more and watched Paris return to the party.

When Paris was out of Rory's line of view, she pinched herself and smiled when the pain sparked throughout her arm. She wasn't dreaming. Her birthday wasn't a total loss after all.

The End

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