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[personal profile] dollsome
Title: The Best of It
Pairing: Rory/Paris, ft. the Stars Hollow ensemble
Chapter: 8 (Previous chapters here)
Word Count: 3,500



Part 8 - The Ballad of Jess and Albert

For a few days, it seems like Jess and Alex are actually going to succeed at the whole “downlow” thing. They hide out at Liz and T.J.’s, a place where the cameras have not yet gone. Rory hopes that Nigel never finds out about Liz and T.J., because there is no denying that they have quirky reality TV potential written all over them.

Meanwhile, it’s back to business in Raris Land. Thanks to some ungodly scheme of Paris’s, they’ve been dubbed the Queens of the Firelight Festival. The Firelight Festival has never had a queen before, let alone two, but that’s not stopping the town from taking the stupid idea and running with it.

It turns out that the Queen(s) of the Firelight Festival must participate in the ceremonial Dance of the Fire Fairies.

(“Ceremonial dance?” Rory repeated, aghast, when Paris dropped that lovely bit of news in her lap. “Why?”

“We have to take adorable to the next level if we want to do this right,” Paris told her. “This is how we win the Toddlers and Tiaras/Honey Boo Boo crowd. Believe me, Rory: once we snag that demographic, the war on bigotry will be half over.”

“You have seen me dance, right? There’s no way me dancing is going to contribute any progress to the world!”

“Don’t worry,” Paris said. “I’ve got moves enough for the both of us.”

“If you say so,” said Rory warily, remembering Paris and Doyle’s senior-year-at-Yale adventures in hip hop dancing. “And hey – what the heck is a fire fairy?”

“It doesn’t matter. It alliterates. That’s enough to charm most of the idiots in this country.”

“You are a heartwarming person, you know that?” said Rory.)

So now, for the fourth day in a row, they’re in the dance studio, practicing their latest foray into pure public humiliation. All of Miss Patty’s itty bitty pupils have been recruited to dance as the fire fairies. Mostly, it involves waving their arms a lot and going “OoOoOooOoo!”, for a reason Rory has not yet figured out, and probably never will. They’re dancing to “Fever” by Peggy Lee, despite the fact that it strikes Rory as a weirdly saucy ditty to have a bunch of kids dancing to. Miss Patty insists that it keeps with the burning-love theme.

Rory tries not to think about the fact that a few weeks ago she was well on her way to becoming a respected journalist.

She spins with all the grace of a drunk giraffe, clasps Paris’s hand, and then spins away again.

Fortunately, all of this is weird enough it doesn’t really allow her to dwell on touching Paris.

Not that she would dwell otherwise. Touching doesn’t matter when you’re on pause.

Rory ignores the tingling in her fingers and does a very stupid sashay step ... type ... thing.

And that’s when it all falls apart. Very possibly because the universe just cannot take Rory dancing anymore.

“Jess!” cries Doula, abandoning her own dance moves and waving happily.

Rory glances out at the street. Sure enough, Jess and Alex are hurrying toward Luke’s. They probably thought that they were safe, since Rory texted earlier to let Jess know that Nigel and his crew would be sticking to the dance studio.

Oh no oh no oh no.

“Um,” she says, “check this out, everybody!”

In a panic, she starts shimmying at Paris. Paris looks at her with what just might be disgust.

“I’m really feeling the chemistry right now!” Rory says desperately. “Aren’t you?”

“Oh, honey,” says Miss Patty despairingly.

Shockingly, Rory’s sweet dance move does not manage to distract Nigel.

“Jess??” he exclaims, lighting up. “The Jess? Katy! Rick! Let’s go!”

He bounces out of the dance studio, a man on a mission. Katy and Rick slouch reluctantly after him.

“Rookie move, munchkin,” Paris snaps at Doula.

“How about let’s not berate the small child for saying hi to her brother,” Rory says, steering Paris away. She smiles as comfortingly as she can at Doula and says, “You’re doing so great, Doula! You’re the most wonderful fire fairy we’ve ever seen! Right, Paris?”

“Yeah, sure,” Paris says dispassionately.

“That’s not fair!” cries the girl standing next to Doula. “What about the rest of us?”

“Well – you’re good too,” Rory says, but it’s too late.

The room erupts into children wailing indignantly.

Miss Patty gives Rory a very unimpressed What did you expect? kind of look.

“Um,” Rory says. “Sorry! Gotta go!”

She and Paris book it out of the dance studio, leaving Miss Patty to deal with a swarm of whiny kids.

Poor Stars Hollow. Rory really needs to get every person in this town a really nice fruit basket when this is all over.

(Well, maybe Taylor’s will be just okay. He can have Granny Smith apples.)

When they burst into Luke’s, the camera crew is up at the counter, but Jess and Alex are nowhere to be seen.

“But I could have sworn I saw them come in here!” Nigel is exclaiming in distress.

“I don’t know what to tell you, Nigel,” Luke replies. “Nobody came in.”

“If we could just ... check around a little bit—” Nigel implores, peering in the direction of the storeroom.

“Nope,” says Luke.

“But if it’s in the name of epic documentary filmmaking, surely you—”

“Nope. Hey, uh, Rory, could you grab me some pickles?” says Luke pointedly.

“Sure, Luke!” Rory says, grabbing Paris’s arm and dragging her to the storeroom.

She got to go in there!”

“Stepdaughters get special storeroom privileges,” says Luke.

“Well, drat,” says Nigel, but doesn’t dare to argue with that cardinal rule.


+


Sure enough, Alex and Jess are crouched in the corner of the storeroom, cozying up to some mustard. Jess looks mostly confused about how his life has devolved so swiftly into ridiculousness, which Rory can identify with. Alex is giggling into her fist.

“Did they follow us?” Jess asks.

“He’s right outside,” Rory reports. “You guys, I am so sorry. Luke is stalling him out there, but I’m not sure how long it will last.”

Alex stands up. “Okay. You know what? Let’s just do this and get it over with.”

“Are you serious?” says Rory.

“Seriously?” says Jess at the same time.

So at least she’s not alone.

“Totally,” says Alex. “No offense to your mom’s house, hon – my nostrils have really embraced the scent of patchouli – but I’m getting pretty tired of hiding out. Why not embrace a life of glorious deception?”

“Then who am I supposed to be?” Jess points out.

“You’re boy me, duh.” Alex snaps her fingers at him. “Come on, Mariano. Keep up.” She turns to Rory and Paris. “So tell me everything I need to know about being high school Jess.”

Rory opens her mouth to offer some deep advice along the lines of “Just be Aubrey Plaza”, but – surprise, surprise – Paris gets there first.

“You use a lot of gel to carefully muss your hair considering your whole thing is a super existential ‘too cool to care about anything’ mystique,” Paris says. “You’re more literate than the average bear, which makes you, like, such the total hottie, even if – let’s be real – physique-wise, you’ve got all the macho cred of a prepubescent Harry Potter. At least you’ve read Kerouac, right? You think exhibiting common courtesy toward your girlfriend on a consistent basis is a big chore; it keeps cramping your loner style. You smoke a lot, like the big bad rebel you are. Who cares about lung health when you can get your James Dean on? And you have no respect for lawn ornaments, which is apparently a big no-no in this town.”

“Hey!” says Jess, offended.

Paris folds her arms, giving him a stare of merciless realness.

“... That’s all pretty accurate,” Jess admits grumblingly.

“Wow, high school Jess sucks,” Alex says, smirking. To Rory, she says, “I am so sorry.”

“Oh, you know,” Rory says mercifully, shrugging. “He had his good moments.”

“Thank you,” Jess says, giving her one of those crooked little smiles of his.

Rory notices Paris glancing back and forth between them, her expression a little too neutral.

“Are you sure you want to do this?” Rory asks, shifting her attention quickly from Jess to Alex. “Because you don’t have to.”

“Please,” Alex says. “I was born for this moment.”

“Since when?” Jess demands.

“About five seconds ago,” Alex replies.

That’s reassuring,” Jess mutters.

“Enough of your sass, boy me,” says Alex majestically. “Let’s do this.”


+


FULL TRANSCRIPTS OF INTERVIEW SEGMENTS – PARIS & RORY’S MODERN STARS HOLLOW FAMILY - EPISODE 5: “BLAST FROM THE PAST”

INTERVIEW – Jessica Mariano & Male Companion (Albert)

LOCATION: Luke’s Diner


INTERVIEWER
Could this be the infamous Jessica Mariano?

JESS
Yeah. That’s me. ‘Sup.

[Let the record state that at this point, Jess’s male companion looks unaccountably offended.]

INTERVIEWER
What a thrill it is to meet you at last! I’ve heard quite a bit about you from the fine folks of Stars Hollow. Apparently you left quite a dent in Rory Gilmore’s heart.

JESS
Well, ya know. It’s like Kerouac says.

[A long pause.]

INTERVIEWER
... Yes?

JESS
... Um. I believe it goes ... “Bitches only drag you down. For me, I choose the open road, and whiskey, and a day’s honest pain.”

INTERVIEWER
Ah. And what is that ... that insightful quotation from, exactly?

JESS
Oh, you probably haven’t heard of it. It’s pretty obscure.

INTERVIEWER
Do tell!

[Another long pause.]

JESS
... A Night Without Armor.

INTERVIEWER
Hmm. Sounds vaguely familiar. I’ll have to look it up when I get the chance!

JESS
Yeah, don’t do that. Uh. Hey. This is my—person.

MALE COMPANION
Hey, I’m Al—

JESS
—bert. This here’s Albert. He’s my opposite sex lover.

MALE COMPANION (heretofore referred to as ‘ALBERT’)
... Yep. That’s me. Albert.

INTERVIEWER
A pleasure, Albert!

ALBERT
Sure is.

[Let the record state that Albert continues to look very uncomfortable. Perhaps he suffers from some physical ailment?]

INTERVIEWER
Do you know, you look just like an Albert.

ALBERT
Gee. Swell.

INTERVIEWER
Now, Jess, what brings you back to Stars Hollow? Did the national hype about Raris bring Rory Gilmore back into the forefront of your mind? Maybe ... remind you of what you’d lost?

JESS
Uh, nope. I just wanted to come back for the Firelight Festival. Not that I care about festivals. Festivals are all about the man, and the man can suck it. You know what I mean? The man can suck it hard.

INTERVIEWER
Oh my.

JESS
But I love ... firelight. It reminds me of lighters. And cigarettes. You know what I love? A good cigarette. Just smokin’. Mmmm.

INTERVIEWER
But your health!

JESS
Whatever, man.

INTERVIEWER
So would you say you’ve moved on from Rory to this young fellow?

JESS
Oh yeah. Totally.

INTERVIEWER
If you don’t mind my asking – did you find your interest in women waning as you grew up? Was Rory just a phase?

JESS
I don’t really believe in labels, yo. It’s just like ... whoever won’t be too up in my grill is good enough for me. Like, as long as I don’t have to call you every day, we’re cool. You dig?

ALBERT
Whoa. That’s a little cold.

JESS
But accurate, right?

ALBERT
You know, I think you’ve really grown since your days with Rory. Don’t you?

JESS (making a ‘so-so’ hand gesture)
Ehhh!

ALBERT
Cute.

INTERVIEWER
I presume you saw Rory Gilmore in the storeroom back there. Did any old sparks rekindle?

JESS
Nope.

INTERVIEWER
Are you sure?

JESS
Yep.

INTERVIEWER
Not even a little spark?

JESS
Not a one.

INTERVIEWER
Not yet.

JESS
Uh, my boyfriend’s right there, dude.

INTERVIEWER
I’m sorry, Albert. But I don’t think any of us can deny the adorable charisma of Rory Gilmore.

ALBERT
That’s fair.

JESS
I’m denying it right now.

INTERVIEWER
Well. We’ll see.

JESS
Listen, I’d love to have this fight with you, man, but The Smiths aren’t gonna listen to themselves, you dig?

ALBERT
[groans]


+


Paris and Rory are sitting against the wall in the storeroom, listening to the interview-shaped disaster that’s going on outside.

“This is bad,” Paris says. “Nigel is thirsty, Rory. Thirsty for drama. He’s trying to start a love triangle.”

“Well, he won’t,” Rory says. “Because there’s no love triangle.”

“You think that matters? Love triangles are the blood that beats through the veins of television, Rory. Grey’s Anatomy would have lasted, what, two episodes without them? I promise you, old Nige is going to do whatever he can to turn our beautiful love into geometric dramarama.”

“But isn’t this supposed to be an inspirational documentary about steadfast true love?”

“Rory, the man makes reality TV. He’s going to chase the drama. He can’t help it. He’s weak. The only thing we can do now is outwit him at his own game.”

“Aren’t we doing that already?” Rory says. “What with all the lying?”

“Kind of,” Paris says. “But this is going to turn into some next level business. We need to prepare ourselves.”

She pulls out her phone, and then does some frenzied swiping ‘n typing.

“Who are you writing to?” Rory asks.

“The experts,” says Paris ominously.


+


And so, not for the first time this week, some visitors appear in Stars Hollow in the dead of night.

This time, a very shiny, moonlight-drenched Audi pulls up into the driveway of the Gilmore-Danes house at around 10:30. Rory and Paris are waiting outside, bundled up and clutching mugs of hot cocoa in self preservation.

The car doors open, and out climb two people Rory hasn’t thought about in a long time.

“Oh my God,” says Rory. “So this is really happening.”

“It had to be done,” Paris replies grimly. “They’ll know better than most how to navigate the minefield of reality TV drama, and you know it.”

“Hi to you too, bitches!!!” says Madeline.

Louise gives them a scrunchy-fingered wave, then heaves a blonde toddler out of the back seat of the car.

“Ugh. My nanny’s got the flu,” she announces. “Can you believe it? Have you ever had to hang out with a kid all day?”

“Uh,” Rory says. “Not that I can remember.”

“Well, don’t,” Louise says crisply. “It’s such a drag. I mean, he’s cute and I love him and everything, but have you ever tried to have an actual conversation with a two year old? Boring.

“Not enough opinions on the latest issue of Goop?” Paris says sardonically.

“Exactly,” says Louise, totally without irony.

“You guys made it here so fast!” Rory says. “I didn’t know you still lived around here.”

“Please. We don’t. Malibu, baby. But my husband has a private jet.” Madeline injects a whole lot of duh into that statement, like private jets are something that come along with all husbands. “I can’t believe it took you guys this long to contact us! We were about to come find you on our own, I swear. What is this hot mess you’ve gotten yourselves into?”

“Because we know you weren’t dating in high school,” Louise adds. “Chilton Era Paris would have been so much easier to deal with if she’d been getting some.”

“Wow,” Paris drawls sarcastically. “Remind me why we don’t hang out anymore.”

“This better not all be happening because of that spring break where we told you about making out to get stuff,” Louise says. “That was our thing first, and not to make threats or anything, but my husband is hella litigious.”

“No, no. Nothing like that. We – lied for justice,” Rory explains. “Or something.”

Honestly, at this point she doesn’t even know.

“Paris started a feud with Michelle Bachmann,” she adds, for context.

“The annoying little sister on Buffy?” Madeline says, frowning.

“Come on, Ivy League,” Paris snaps. “Get your head in the game.”

“Conservative homophobe politician,” Rory says.

“Ohhhh. So you’re doing it to make the world a better place.” Madeline smiles. “That is so typical Rory and Paris.”

“Mega inspirational,” says Louise. “And we’re totally here to help. As long as you put us in your show.”

Rory immediately does not like that idea. “I don’t know if we should let it get more complicated than it already is—”

“Oh, come on,” Madeline cajoles. “If you put us in, we’ll totally lend credence to the whole ‘Rory and Paris, soulmates since high school’ charade.”

“And if you don’t,” Louise says, “it would be really easy for us to slip up and tell the truth. You know. Accidentally.”

“Are you blackmailing us?” Rory says. She whirls around to face Paris. “Did you bring blackmailers to my house??”

“Don’t think of it as blackmail,” Madeline says. “Think of it as you giving us the opportunity to become the reality TV stars that we’ve always been destined to be.”

“It’s a possibility,” Paris says briskly. “It depends on how good your advice is.”

“Fair enough,” Louise says icily.

Louise’s son starts making some fussy noises. Rory knows how he feels.

“Hey! Knock it off, Channing. If you’re good, Mommy will give you a cookie.” Louise looks up at Rory. “Do you have cookies? I’ve only got kale chips, and he hates those. His palate is so basic, I swear. Gwyneth’s kids would never.”

“Um, yeah,” Rory says. “Come on in.”

As they head toward the house, Paris stares down at the little guy. “Please tell me that kid isn’t named after Channing Tatum.”

“You know I can’t do that,” Louise says solemnly.


+

FULL TRANSCRIPTS OF INTERVIEW SEGMENTS – PARIS & RORY’S MODERN STARS HOLLOW FAMILY - EPISODE 5: “BLAST FROM THE PAST”

INTERVIEW – Jessica Mariano, Liz Danes & T.J.

LIZ
So, this is my daughter, Jess. Her full name is ... Jessula.

JESS
Or Jessica.

LIZ
Oh, that’s right. Jessica. Of course! Jessica. Because that makes sense. Well, I just fell in love with that name as soon as I thought of it. Jessica. Because it means ...

T.J.
“She who is a girl.”

LIZ
Yes! Yes, exactly. Isn’t that beautiful? It’s ...

T.J. (overlapping)
Vulcan.

LIZ (overlapping)
Hebrew.

T.J.
Yeah. What she said.

LIZ
“She who is a girl” in Hebrew. That sounds ... right. Right, honey?

JESS
Oh, yep. Super right.

T.J.
Because she is! A girl! I mean, look at ‘er!

JESS
Thanks, Teej.

T.J.
And since she is, and has always been, a girl, I gotta ask: why was she so grumpy about me wearin’ tights when I married Liz here? Girls love tights!

JESS
Girls don’t always love men in tights.

LIZ
Well now, that’s not true!

T.J.
Ooh.

[Let the record state that Liz and T.J. begin engaging in some unsettlingly flirtatious behavior.]

JESS
Yep, let’s shut that right down.

INTERVIEWER
Oh dear. Let’s. Speaking of friskiness! Are you happy to see Jess with Albert?

T.J.
Him? I don’t know about that guy. I don’t know if he’s good enough for my stepdaughter. She got standards, you know?

[Let the record state that for someone concerned about his stepchild’s welfare, T.J. seems to find this mysteriously hilarious.]

LIZ
Oh, stop! You’re so bad.

T.J.
Hell yeah.



FULL TRANSCRIPTS OF INTERVIEW SEGMENTS – PARIS & RORY’S MODERN STARS HOLLOW FAMILY - EPISODE 5: “BLAST FROM THE PAST”

INTERVIEW – Luke Danes & Albert

ALBERT
This is my first time in Stars Hollow, but, uh. I can pretty confidently say that if I lived here, I’d jump off a bridge.

LUKE
Hell, I’d push you off the bridge.

ALBERT
Good times.



FULL TRANSCRIPTS OF INTERVIEW SEGMENTS – PARIS & RORY’S MODERN STARS HOLLOW FAMILY - EPISODE 5: “BLAST FROM THE PAST”

INTERVIEW – Rory Gilmore


INTERVIEWER
How are you feeling about Jess being back in town?

RORY
Happy, I guess.

INTERVIEWER
Happy to have another chance with your long lost love?

RORY
No, happy because h—she’s happy, and doing well, and that makes me really glad. I always knew that she had so much potential that most people didn’t see, and it’s great to see her at such a good place in her life. We haven’t dated for a long time, and that’s for the best, but I’ll always consider us friends.

INTERVIEWER
And what about Albert?

RORY
Albert’s parents probably should have been more careful about naming him, but other than that, he’s a good guy.

INTERVIEWER
And you don’t feel any ... regrets?

RORY
Are you trying to start a love triangle?

INTERVIEWER
Are you trying to avoid the question?

RORY
No! No regrets. The thing I had with Jess, it’s in the past, and I’m just glad that we’re both doing well. Maybe I’m not where I thought I would be in high school, but—but I think I’m happy just where I am.



FULL TRANSCRIPTS OF INTERVIEW SEGMENTS – PARIS & RORY’S MODERN STARS HOLLOW FAMILY - EPISODE 5: “BLAST FROM THE PAST”

INTERVIEW – Paris Geller


INTERVIEWER
Would you say that you’re worried about the stability of your relationship with Rory, now that Jess is back in town?

[Let the record state that there is a long silence in which Geller does not respond to the question]

INTERVIEWER
Paris?

PARIS
What? Um. No.

INTERVIEWER
Are you sure?

PARIS
I know Rory. I know what she really wants.

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