DISCLAIMER: They don't belong to me and sadly they never will. I'm just borrowing the amazing characters thought up by Amy Sherman-Palladino and Daniel Palladino and owned by (I dunno) the CW folks.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Oneshot. Takes place sometime mid to late season 3. The girls are seniors and Dean is history.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Playing with Fire
By Bekah Kennedy


This MUST be a first. Paris Gellar, Ms. 178 WPM herself, is at a loss for words. She opens her mouth once, twice to speak but no words come out. Her rich brown eyes are opened wide in shock and confusion. She lifts a hand to her lips in a moment of wonderment before finally finding her voice. "You-, you just kissed me!"

Believe me, I'm just as shocked as she is. I'm wracking my brain trying to figure out just exactly how we ended up in this moment. Maybe I should rewind a bit, back to this morning.

I slipped into my seat with a grateful glance at my watch, ten seconds to spare before the bell. I ignored the dagger-like glare that Paris directed my way. Right then the uptight blonde was the least of my worries. It was only 8:05 am and already I was wishing I'd never gotten out of bed. My alarm never went off and ironically mom had gotten up extra early for a meeting at the inn so she wasn't there to annoy me into getting up. It was 7:15 when I finally gazed blearily at my alarm clock and jumped out of bed in a panic. I had only fifteen minutes in which to take the world's fastest shower, dress, and run to the town square to catch my bus to Hartford. I didn't even get to stop by Luke's Diner to grab my morning coffee! Instead I accidentally ran into Dean, who was whining and trying to convince me to take him back and refused to stop talking even as I climbed the stairs of the bus. So there I was; out of breath, un-caffeinated, and feeling both annoyed and a little guilty. I let out a tiny sigh and tried to focus on the teacher's lecture.

Fifty minutes later, I crammed my notebook into my bag and rose from my desk. I stepped towards the door but found my way blocked.

"Where were you this morning?" Paris demanded.

"I overslept, okay. What do you care?"

Paris narrowed her eyes angrily. "What do I care? I care because we were supposed to meet about the Franklin this morning. An emergency meeting to fix that god awful cover layout which obviously is so unimportant to you that you forgot about it."

"Paris, I-"

"Save it, Gilmore! I don't want to hear your lame excuses. If you had somewhere more important to be, then maybe you should just quit the Franklin. I've got enough people writing mediocre pieces and 'participating' just enough to list the paper on their college applications. You'll just be one less!"

I'm pissed at her implication that the Franklin isn't a priority for me, but I don't have the time or energy to fight with her before my next class. Instead I move to slip past her and grind out flatly, "I'm not quitting the Franklin. I wouldn't give you the satisfaction. Now I'm sorry about this morning, but there was nothing I could do. We'll just have to fix the layout after school." I hurry out the door, ignoring her reply.

"All we have to do is make the picture an inch or so smaller, nudge it over to the right, and use a tight text wrap and it should be good to go. There's really no need to shorten any of the articles, ESPECIALLY not mine." I can feel myself grinding my teeth into oblivion as the rest of the Franklin staff trickles out the door at the sound of the final activity bell. Paris and I have been working on the layout for the past 90 minutes and she still isn't satisfied with it. I am almost certain she's doing this on purpose, as revenge for me missing our meeting this morning.

"We are NOT doing a tight text wrap on my cover. This is the Franklin, an esteemed scholarly news journal, not the latest issue of Teen Beat! Now, we may be able to shrink down the picture slightly but we're still going to have to trim down one of the articles. And since it appears that you still haven't mastered the concept of editing, your article is looking ripe for the picking."

"No! Give me a break, Paris! If you'd had a problem with the article before you wouldn't have put it on the cover to begin with. Why don't you just grow up and get over yourself?! I know this is about this morning and I already apologized for that." If she thinks for one second that I'm going to back down on this she's talking to the wrong girl. After the day I've had, I don't care what she throws at me, she's gonna get it right back!

"Grow up? Grow up? I think maybe you should be telling that little message to yourself, Mary. Or did the cartoon birdies forget to wake and dress you this morning? Because let me remind you of something: I'm the one who was here at 6:30 am ready to work, you're the one who skidded into class milliseconds before the late bell. So I think you're the one who needs to grow up and learn how to be responsible…"

As soon as she spat out that awful old nickname, I became livid. My mind buzzed with anger and I tuned out the rest of the bitter words being hurled at me. I turned to face her squarely and fixed her with a defiant glare. I stalked closer and closer to Paris as she raged on. I purposely invaded her personal space, turning her usual intimidation tactic against her. Paris' face was beet red and her eyes burned with anger. Though she refused to back away, her voice rose steadily in volume as I closed in on her. I waited until we were practically toe to toe, nose to nose before I let loose on her.

"I am so sick of you and your attitude. I've tried to be nice, I've tried to just ignore your crap and be your friend, but I've had enough! You're a jerk! You are rude, spiteful, insane, anal retentive, obsessive, manipulative-"

"And?" I cannot believe she's really egging me on right now, I want to slap that smug look right off her face.

"And you drive me crazy!"

Suddenly there was no more yelling, no more fighting. Without a moments thought I closed the distance between us. I pressed my lips against hers frantically, desperate for contact. I reveled in the feel and taste of her soft, lightly glossed lips. My hands gripped the sides of her Chilton sweater vest, unconsciously pulling her even closer. My only clear thought was 'More. I need more.' I slipped my tongue out to tease along her full lower lip. Her lips parted readily, inviting me in deeper. She took a more active role then, our tongues fighting for dominance as she balled her hands in my hair. A soft moan rose in my throat at the feel of her strong fingers against my scalp. The unexpected noise startled us both and we jumped back away from each other.

All I could do was look at her. Somewhere in my mind I thought I should be saying something – an apology, an explanation, something, anything! But I remained quiet, waiting for the inevitable explosion. Waiting for Paris to freak out and tell me how much she hates me before rushing home to the relative safety of the Gellar manor and her beloved Nanny. But she said nothing. At least not at first.

Which brings us back to the present.

"You-, you just kissed me!"

Her words hang in the air between us heavily, awkwardly.

"Um… yeah. I did." Okay, time to face the music Rory.

"You just kissed me and I… kissed you back." She speaks slowly and deliberately, as though she's working through a particularly complicated math problem. "We kissed."

"Yes we did." What?! I don't know what else there is to say. I'm just helping her compile the facts.

"We kissed and I liked it. And it seemed like you liked it. Oh my god, you did like it? Didn't you?"

I answered quickly, cutting off Paris' line of thinking before she could enter full freak out mode. "Yes, Paris, I liked it. A lot, actually."

She glanced down at her hands, fingers fiddling together nervously. A shy smile tugged at the corners of her mouth. She slowly lifted her gaze back up to meet mine. Her deep brown eyes were filled with a mixture of warmth and insecurity. "Why?"

"Because you're an amazing kisser." I blush at my response to this incredibly surreal moment. Never in a million years would I have ever thought I would be saying those words to my academic rival and sometimes sort-of friend.

"That's not what I meant." Paris blushed in response to my impromptu compliment before continuing, "Why did you kiss me? We were fighting. That's not exactly a romantic activity, not something that would ordinarily make a person think about kissing."

God, how do I answer that? I shrug my shoulders and try to explain. "I wasn't thinking about kissing. Not exactly. All I know is that one moment we were fighting and I was completely furious, and then it just hit me. You were standing here yelling and all I could think of was how beautiful you are when you're angry. And I was so close-, no, WE were so close together that my brain sort of… shut down. I didn't even think about it first, it was just something I had to do. It just felt right."



"Do you-" Paris stumbled over her words before continuing in a soft voice, "You really think I'm beautiful?"

I can't help but smile at her question. Can she really not know how beautiful she is? I could see it even when I thought I hated her. "I do. And not just when you're angry, either." I know I probably shouldn't tease her right now, but I can't help myself. All of a sudden I'm the biggest flirt alive, surpassing even my mother. "So what do we do now?" I lower my voice and step back in closer to Paris.

She inches closer to me automatically as her eyes drop distractedly to my lips. "Maybe we can-"

"Yes?" I cut her off purposely, knowing how much it annoys her. Her eyes flash back up to mine and I look at her with a challenge in my eyes.

"Rory!" She practically growls out my name before lifting onto her tiptoes to claim my lips with her own. Her mouth is at once demanding and impossibly soft. There is no fight for dominance this time as I gladly allow her to take control. Our tongues explore softly, dancing together in harmony. Paris again brings her hands up to wrap into my hair and rub softly at my scalp. This time when her actions draw a moan from my lips, she smiles into our kiss and deepens it further.

I wrap one arm around her back to press her close against me and bring my free hand up to caress her cheek. I trace my fingertips along the velvety smooth skin of her jaw line, then her cheekbone, then the delicate shell of her ear before sliding my hand to rest against the nape of her neck.

As we stand here together exchanging sweet pecks and deep searching kisses, time escapes us. Eventually we break apart enough to notice that twilight is fast approaching. I smile sadly. "I have to go. My bus…"

"I could take you home. If that's okay? I don't want to cause any problems though. You know, with you and Jess."

"You wouldn't. There is no 'me and Jess.' It wasn't right for either of us, we just needed the chance to figure it out for ourselves without Dean in the picture. But, um… what about you and Jamie?" Suddenly I feel sick at the thought that Paris already has someone else, and that I just turned her into a cheater on top of that. How could I have forgotten about Jamie? Stupid, stupid, stupid!

"Jamie is long gone. He was way too controlling and he seemed to think that he would be able to turn me into his perfect little trophy wife. So of course I told him he could take his Princeton class pin and shove it up his-"

"Whoa, whoa. I get the picture! I kind of wondered this summer if he'd really be able to keep up with you. I mean, you're so… and he's so…."

"Spit it out already, Rory!"

"I guess he always seemed sort of dull. And while you might be many things, Paris-"

"Yes, I believe you listed them for me earlier," Paris cut me off with a wry smile.

I blush at the reminder of my earlier tirade before continuing, "You are most certainly NOT dull. In fact, I think you're pretty much the exact opposite of dull!"

"Is that so?"

"Yep, that's so." I grab Paris' hand with a laugh and tug her out the door of the Franklin office. As we walk out to the parking lot I can't help but think to myself that life just got a lot more exciting.

The End

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