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[personal profile] dollsome
Title: The Best of It
Pairing: Rory/Paris, ft. the Stars Hollow ensemble
Chapter: 6 (Previous chapters here)
Word Count: 3,900

It's a miracleeeee! I am ashamed to admit that I have watched the entire series of Gilmore Girls like one and a half times since I last updated, desperately seeking inspiration, and then the thing that finally got me writing was watching like ten minutes of Alexis Bledel’s fine fluffy masterpiece, Post Grad.

Inspiration works in mysterious ways!




Part 6: The End Of The (Classroom) Affair

They’ve been kissing for just long enough that all the strangeness has dwindled away. No more Wow, we’ve been friends who don’t kiss for over a decade and that makes this super awkward. No more But weren’t we just pretending to be gay in the great ceaseless battle against bigotry and Bachmanns? Not even any We probably shouldn’t be doing this in a random high school classroom. Heck, not even any But really, what is the likelihood that this carpet has been steam-cleaned in the last year? Or ever?

Well, maybe a little bit of that last one.

But mostly, it’s just Paris, here and now, her mouth against Rory’s, her hands strong and sure but more gentle than Rory expected. (Not that Rory expected anything. She definitely never expected this. At least not in any conscious area of her brain.) Paris usually gives really aggressive and surprising hugs. The idea of her being gentle – being gentle for Rory’s sake – well, God, it’s hard not to like that.

And then there’s the sound of a key in the lock.

“Someone’s coming!” Rory gasps, yanking Paris’s hand out from under her shirt and sitting up.

Paris frowns. “Do you refer to yourself in the lofty third person when you climax? Because I don’t know if I can handle that.”

“What? I – no!” Rory runs her hands furiously through her hair, trying to make it look less like it has known the tussling of passion. “Someone’s at the door.”

“Oh,” Paris says, “that,” and scrambles up.

“And why would I be ... doing that ... anyway? We haven’t even done anything besides kiss.”

“And feel around a little,” Paris adds fairly.

“And feel around a little,” Rory acknowledges impatiently. “But – just a little!”

“I don’t know. Maybe kissing really does it for you.”

“It doesn’t do that much!”

“It did for fanfic Rory.”

“I am not fanfic Rory!!”

The door swings open.

At least at this point, she and Paris are standing nonchalantly in the middle of the classroom. Somehow, Rory just knows that they look like the two most conspicuous weirdos in the history of earth.

The invader is a middle aged woman with curly dark hair who, remarkably, doesn’t immediately start hitting them with her purse.

“Mrs. Martinez?” Rory guesses.

“Yeees,” poor Mrs. M answers with the sort of smile you’d smile at potential murderers. “Are you ... the custodians—” Then recognition lights her face. “Paris Geller? Oh, I heard you were here tonight! I just love you. I watch that YouTube clip of you making Bill Maher cry whenever I’m having a down day.” She grins at Rory. “Oh, and you must be the missus.”

“Yeah!” Rory says. “Yep, that’s me. You’re probably, um, wondering what we’re doing in your classroom. You see, I’ve always been a great lover of books, and ... looking at books wherever I go—”

“Oh, you don’t have to explain to me what you were doing,” Mrs. Martinez says cheerily. “I know how hard it can be to get some private time with your sweetie. Especially when you’ve got cameras following you around all the time.”

“Oh, we weren’t—”

“Not to mention that high schoolers doing Shakespeare is only tolerable for so long,” she adds. “I teach it for a living. I know that better than most.”

Paris steps forward. “Thanks ...?”

“Julia,” supplies Mrs. M, kind of giddily.

“Julia,” Paris says. “You did us a solid.”

“Oh, it’s no problem,” Mrs. M says. Then, with a kind of desperate awe, she asks, “Can I get your autograph??”


+


Once they’re back out in the hallway, it’s like coming out of a trance. Suddenly, everything that has existed in a sort of terrifying but weirdly delicious haze for the past few days loses its glow.

What just happened??

“That was so humiliating,” Rory whispers. Her cheeks are so warm that her face might actually start melting. “What were we thinking?”

What she means is ‘why did we think it was a good idea to get snuggly in a random high school classroom? We are grown adults! We went to Yale!’, but as soon as it’s out of her mouth she realizes that those nuances don’t necessarily come through.

Sure enough, Paris gets that stricken, stony look that only comes out when her feelings are really hurt.

“Oh, Paris, I didn’t mean—”

“No, I know,” Paris interrupts. “What were we thinking, right?”

Rory opens her mouth, but before she can say anything, they turn a corner and there’s Nigel and the camera crew waiting for them.

Which means it’s showtime.


+


FULL TRANSCRIPTS OF DOCUMENTARY FOOTAGE – PARIS & RORY’S MODERN STARS HOLLOW FAMILY - EPISODE 4: “STARS HOLLOW-CROSSED LOVERS”

LOCATION: April Nardini’s High School Production of Romeo and Juliet – Lobby Outside Auditorium

[Let the record state that RORY GILMORE and PARIS GELLER both look rather disheveled and out of breath]

INTERVIEWER
Ladies! There you are! Where on earth did you disappear off to?

RORY
Oh. I was just – feeling sick, and Paris came to check up on me.

PARIS
You’re lucky you weren’t there, Nigel. It got grim.

RORY
Thanks.

PARIS
Vomit everywhere.

RORY
I wouldn’t say everywhere—

PARIS
I’m lucky she didn’t puke in my hair.

RORY
Paris!

PARIS
She does that.

INTERVIEWER
Yeesh.

PARIS
You might as well call her the Great Barfmaster.

RORY
Can this interview be over now?


+


It turns out that Nigel isn’t only the world’s chipperest documentarian; he’s also a major germophobe. Hanging around The Great Barfmaster clearly isn’t on his to-do list, so he and the camera crew call it a night and head back to the Dragonfly.

It’s a relief. Tonight has been too weird. Rory’s not sure she has the strength to live the Paris and Rory’s Modern Stars Hollow Family lie at the moment. Especially since it’s suddenly become really hard to tell just how much lie they’re dealing with here.

She tries to remember why she thought this was a good idea. What in the world could have made her forget how easy it is to accidentally punch Paris right in the soul and then spend at least a month as her sworn worst enemy? Keeping Paris around as a best friend has always been hard enough.

And sure, yes, all right, the kissing part was good. The closeness and the eagerness and the breathlessness, all good. And sure, yes, all right, there’s a part of Rory that still kind of wants to ... you know ... investigate that a little more. Live the fantasy, even if it’s definitely not a fantasy she ever would have cooked up on her own without Paris dragging her into it.

But the fact remains. Rory Gilmore? Not really a risk taker by nature, if she can possibly help it. And when the thing she might lose is her friendship with Paris? It’s one of those risks that just isn’t worth it.

Like a really short haircut that might turn out cute but might also make you look like an adult pretending to be Ramona Quimby.

Or something.

Her similes aren’t entirely on point tonight.


+


Once they get home, it’s pretty late. Rory tries to catch Paris’s eye when they step into the house, but Paris is staunchly avoiding her. And it’s not like they can just have a deep heart-to-heart conversation with her mom and Luke here.

Rory is what some would call a mommy’s girl, it’s true, but that doesn’t mean she wants Lorelai to have a front row seat to the awkward ‘So, what does it mean that we almost did the dirty on the floor of a high school classroom?’ convo that she and Paris are doomed to.

Poor Luke would probably faint or something.

“Are you blushing?” Lorelai asks, squinting at Rory as they head into the living room.

“She was barfing,” Paris says bluntly. “She’s probably feverish.”

Lorelai presses the back of her hand to Rory’s forehead. “You don’t feel hot to me.”

“Excuse me, is anyone else in this room entitled to a medical opinion?” Paris demands.

“Uh, is your name Tai, by any chance? Because that was way harsh.”

“Sorry Lorelai,” Paris says, with that contrite-yet-impatient vibe that she gets whenever she remembers she should probably be nice to her fellow humans. “I just—get worried. About germs. And contagions. They’re a real threat, people. Being casual about vomit? Might just be the last thing you do.”

“That’s nice,” Luke says bleakly.

“That’s facts, Captain Flannel!” Paris barks.

Rory decides it’s time to put a stop to this. “I’m fine. I’m just ... tired. I’m gonna head to bed and sleep it off, okay?” She turns to Paris, striving for super casual. “Unless ... you wanted to talk, or—”

“And have an all access pass to your vomit germs?” Paris says bluntly. “No thanks.”

“Fine,” Rory says, frustrated.

She doesn’t stop walking until she’s in her room with the door shut safely behind her. Once it’s closed, she leans against it and closes her eyes. She’s feeling distinctly jittery. Maybe Paris was right. Maybe she is feverish. And there is a part of her that’s pretty sure she’s going to barf.

“Listen, self,” she says. To herself. Which, okay, maybe isn’t her sanest moment. “You are going to put your pajamas on, you are going to get into bed, and you are going to chill. If Paris doesn’t want to talk, then you don’t have to talk. You tried.”

It’s the closest thing she has to an organized plan right now, and Rory Gilmore is a great believer in the organized plan.


+


Unfortunately, even in the most organized of plans, there are factors that aren’t accounted for. And tonight, it’s Lorelai Gilmore.

Rory is in bed, staring determinedly at page 110 of Wolf Hall.

Lorelai peeks into the room and ... starts winking really exaggeratedly.

Really?” Rory says, groaning.

“What?” Lorelai asks innocently. “This is my goodnight face.”

“Well, your goodnight face is creepy.”

“I think someone’s a little lonely out there,” Lorelai adds, nodding toward the living room. Then she starts winking again.

“You’re crazy,” Rory declares.

“You are crazy,” Luke contributes as he shuffles by.

“You don’t even know what I’m doing,” Lorelai protests, offended.

“Don’t need to. Crazy’s your default.”

“Okay: rude.”

“Thanks for the support, Luke!” Rory calls.

“Sure thing. ‘Night, Rory.”

Lorelai scowls exaggeratedly, then returns to the subject at hand. “I’m just saying. Paris is out there coloring farm animals with the ferocity of Khal Drogo. Go to her.”

“I don’t think she wants to talk to me,” Rory says, hugging a pillow against her chest.

Lorelai slips into the room and shuts the door behind her. “Yeesh. That bad, huh?”

“Shhh!” Rory orders.

Lorelai points to the closed door.

Rory grimaces. “Yeah, well. Still.”

“Tough night?”

“I so don’t want to get into it.”

“Aw. That’s okay, hon.” Lorelai sits at the foot of Rory’s bed.

Rory sighs. “How did you know that you and Luke could make it as a couple? Like, really make it, and not just wreck everything about your friendship?”

“Well, to be fair, we did do that for a highly depressing little while.”

“Oh yeah,” Rory says glumly.

“But I don’t think you ever really know, babe. You just have to be ready to be there for each other, and be open and honest about what you’re really feeling, and then you just have to jump.”

“I hate jumping.”

“Oh, come on. Did you or did you not beg me to buy you a trampoline for like five years?”

“And you never got me one. It’s turned me into a warped and bitter jumping hater.”

“Fortunately, warped and bitter sounds just like Paris’s type.”

“Mom!” Rory smacks her lightly with a pillow.

“I’m just saying! You gotta talk it out, kid. That’s the only way.”

“I’m gonna hold this advice against you the next time you have a fight with Grandma,” Rory threatens.

“Uh, I’m not trying to be Grandma’s girlfriend,” Lorelai retorts. “Totally not the same.”

“It’s an important relationship in your life,” Rory says. “It’s a little the same.”

“When did this conversation become about attacking Mommy?”

“All conversations should be, I think,” Rory says faux-thoughtfully.

At this point, Lorelai makes her graceful exit. But not before mouthing ‘TALK TO HER!’ with exactly no subtlety.

Rory sighs.


+


When Rory goes out into the living room, Paris is sitting on the couch coloring aggressively by lamplight. It’s very Blue’s Clues meets Byronic hero.

“Hiya,” says Rory.

“Oh,” Paris says, freezing. “Rory. I didn’t see you there.”

“Well,” Rory says, “there I was. Am. Here.”

“Yes,” says Paris.

Well, this bodes well for a future of sparkling and witty banter.

Rory nears the couch. Cautiously. It’s creepier, somehow, to see Paris channeling all her emotions into coloring than it would be to see her pacing the house and roaring a lot like a romantically confused tiger. “So, uh. Whatcha coloring?”

“Baby goats.”

“Baby goats,” Rory says. “Cool.”

“It’s a party,” says Paris flatly.

Rory sits down on the arm of the couch, and feels some irrational Frodo level bravery for doing it. “Do you ... want to talk about ...”

“Nope,” Paris says.

“Paris, come on—”

Then there’s the sound of big, tromping footsteps, and her mom and Luke come into the living room. Well, it’s more like Lorelai shoves Luke into the living room.

“Hey, so uh,” Luke says, “we have to spend the night at the apartment over the diner. You know. Work related emergency.” He shrugs the world’s most unconvincing shrug.

“We have to wake up early,” Lorelai says. “With the ... pies.”

“Yeah,” Luke says helplessly. “They’re ... early pies.”

“Diva pies, if you ask me,” says Lorelai. “Pies that have gotten their way one too many times. But what can you do, right? It’s not like you can fight pies.”

“No sir,” says Luke.

“You two will be fine on your own tonight, right? Right, okay, great. Byeeeee!” And with that, Lorelai drags Luke out the front door.

Rory is torn between feeling incredibly thankful and wanting to chase after them, yelling, Wait, come back!

In the wake of their totally weird absence, the house goes quiet.

Like, quiet-quiet.

Really quiet.

“I think your mom wants us to get it on,” Paris says at last.

“She’s supportive in that way,” Rory agrees meekly.

“Well, you can tell her it’s not necessary,” Paris continues after a moment. “We’ve moved past it. I definitely found out most of what I need to know to write a convincing piece of internet smut, so ...”

Rory groans impatiently. “Paris, when I said ‘what were we thinking?’, I just meant that the timing and location weren’t ideal. I mean, that’s not us, is it? Maybe it's you a little bit, but I’m just not that kind of person. Jeopardizing over ten years of friendship just so we can have some random, seriously ill-advised hookup – we’re smarter than that. Not that I’m saying we shouldn’t ... shouldn’t be together like that someday. I just think we really need to consider all of the potential repercussions.” She brightens. “Maybe we could—”

“If you say ‘make a pro/con list’, I’m shoving this crayon down your throat,” Paris interrupts. “And forest green doesn’t go down smooth.”

“What’s wrong with pro/con lists in a situation like this?” Rory urges. “You love to plan just as much as I do. More so, even! I’ve never created one of those creepy complex information walls usually only found in the lairs of serial killers, and you totally have. And do you remember the whiteboards you put all around the apartment during our senior year at Yale? Those whiteboards were so terrifying M. Night Shyamalan wishes he had thought of them. They would have breathed some serious new life into his career.”

It’s like Paris isn’t even listening to her. “Being crazy – it’s not you, huh?”

“I think you know it’s not,” Rory says.

Paris takes a deep breath. “Your first time was with a married guy. You skipped school to follow an emo kid around New York City. You stole a boat and went to jail. You dropped out of Yale. You hooked up with Logan Huntzberger at your grandparents’ vow renewal. Also, you let him and a bunch of gorilla faced yuppies kidnap you and drag you out into the woods.”

“That was a lot quainter than you made it sound,” Rory says defensively. “They had evening gowns.”

“You stole cornstarch!” Paris accuses, waving a finger.

“That was a really long time ago,” Rory protests. “And it was under very innocent circumstances—”

“The good people of Stars Hollow need their cornstarch, Rory!” Paris thunders.

“Hey!” Rory says, annoyance bubbling up. “Why has this turned into the Everything Rory Gilmore Ever Did Wrong parade? I just want to talk about what happened—”

“You do crazy things,” Paris says. “You might not want to admit it. You might like that Upstanding Citizen Rory Gilmore persona too much to ever admit who you really are. But you’ve taken a lot of stupid risks in your day, Gilmore. Usually for some idiot guy. But the second that one of them involves me, it’s Spring Break 2004 and ‘Ew, a girl kissed me!’ all over again.”

“Paris, that is not what’s going on here! I said ‘ew’ because that wasn’t a real kiss! And I’m the one who kissed you first this time, remember?”

“And yet before things went too far, you were all too happy to shut it down.”

“So we were just supposed to keep hooking up in front of poor Mrs. Martinez? You should want better for her, Paris! She let you autograph her iPhone! Those things are expensive!”

“I’m just saying don’t worry about it,” Paris says stonily. “I don’t expect anything from you. Once all of this is over, it will be friendship as usual. Hell, maybe we can stage a breakup in the last episode. Sure, it will give the right wing yet more reason to feel high and mighty about the sanctity of the myth that is traditional marriage, but boy, do those TV viewers love the drama. Look out, Kardashians.”

“I’m just saying that this is the kind of thing that we need to think about,” Rory says, striving to stay calm instead of shouting her head off like a crazy person. “If it didn’t work out, and it messed up our friendship, it would make me really sad. Wouldn’t it make you sad?”

“Well, it’s nice to know my friendship means so much to you,” Paris says, in a way that sounds more like Why don’t you go jump in a lake of fire?.

“It does,” Rory says, even though she wouldn’t entirely hate that lake of fire right now if it meant getting out of this conversation. “Paris, this is so new. I never even thought about anything like this before until this whole thing started, and I know you didn’t either. Shouldn’t we just ... take our time? And make sure to prioritize being friends over everything else?”

Paris flips the coloring book page and starts assaulting some new barnyard cartoons. Under her breath, she mutters, “Just gals being pals. The no homo homies.”

“I just don’t think we need to make this situation any more complicated than it is right now,” Rory continues, frustration all a-crackle inside of her. “We’re already lying to the American public. I’m in deep, deep denial about what this is going to do to my journalistic integrity. Which is, you know, make it go poof! But whenever that thought comes into my brain, I just think about cotton candy and puppies and Mallory Ortberg instead so that I don’t keel over and die immediately.”

“Whatever. You’re Nellie Bly. This is your undercover-in-a-madhouse adventure. You’ll put some brilliant spin on it just like you always do.”

Normally a Nellie Bly comparison would warm the cockles of Rory’s heart, but this conversation is too exhausting for even Nellie-induced happiness.

“I just want us to do this carefully,” she says wearily.

“No,” Paris says. “You just want to slow things down.”

“And you just want to ... hook up as soon as possible? Like ... like a friends with benefits-y fling? I don’t think I could have a fling with you, Paris.”

“Big surprise,” Paris mutters. She slams her coloring book shut, snatches up her box of crayons, and storms out of the room.

Rory stares after her helplessly.

“What?” she whispers to nobody.

Maybe Paris really does just want to get it on for the sake of fanfiction. Maybe Rory misread this whole thing in a feat of idiocy so stunning that Adam Sandler could star in the hypothetical film adaptation.

Most of the time, she feels like she knows Paris really well. Like she understands her in a way no one else does, even. But then there are times like these where the girl is just a big Broadchurchy heap of twisty-turny inscrutable mystery.

The doorbell rings.

Something else to think about! Thank God.

Rory sprints to it like it’s the Poptart delivery man.

(Which, how cool would it be if those existed? She needs to imagine some beauty into the world right now.)

To her surprise, Lane is standing there. Lane’s not usually super into leaving the house after 8 PM these days. Mommy hours, and all that.

“Hey Rory,” she says. “How’s it goin’?”

“Oh, you know,” says Rory. “Saw some Shakespeare. Accidentally made out with Paris in a classroom. Scared a teacher. Made Paris hate me forever for approximately the five hundredth time since we met.”

“So, uh, this is probably the perfect time for a really weird distraction?” Lane says hopefully.

Rory sighs. “Sure. Hit me.”

“There’s kind of ... a hostage situation.”

“A what?” Rory says blankly.

“Basically exactly what I said,” says Lane.

Well. That’s interesting.

“Paris!” Rory calls. “I’m going out, okay?”

No answer.

Well, fine.

Rory slips into her coat and scarf and follows Lane down the driveway.

“Brace yourself,” Lane advises.

“Why don’t you just tell me who the hostage is?” Rory asks.

“Honestly, I kind of crave the drama,” Lane admits.

“Fair enough,” says Rory.


+


Ten minutes later, she is standing in Miss Patty’s studio. So is half of Stars Hollow. And they’re all rushing up to her.

“He just showed up, sugar, and we knew we couldn’t let him blow your cover!” says Babette. “A miscreant like him – there’s no way he can be trusted with this charade!”

“He certainly cannot!” Taylor huffs. “In fact, I don’t know why we didn’t just send him scampering off in the opposite direction the second he crossed the town line.”

“We can’t just kick people out of the town, Taylor,” Miss Patty says placatingly. In an undertone, she adds, “No matter how much they deserve it.”

“I offered to have Lulu do his makeup,” Kirk informs Rory. “He said no. But there’s no way anyone’s going to buy that he’s a lady.”

Rory pushes her way through the Stars Hollow masses and finally makes it to the front of the dance studio.

And there, sitting next to the podium and looking about as enchanted with Stars Hollow as he’s ever been, is:

“Jess?” Rory gasps.


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