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Title: The Best of It
Pairing: Rory/Paris, ft. the Stars Hollow ensemble
Chapter: 11 (Previous chapters here)
Word Count: 3,700

Part 11: Exhaustion and Imaginary Mimosas

“So, Rory,” says Leslie Knope, who is also – Rory somehow knows beyond a doubt – Katie Couric. “How does it feel to be a big Lying McLiarpants?”

“Um,” Rory says, squinting into the blinding lights of the studio. Paris is supposed to be here. “Could you repeat the question?”

“Oh, you know. Liar liar pants on fire. The worst person ever, basically. How does it feel to know you have the integrity and the peacoat collection of Eagletonian scum?”

“It’s not that simple,” Rory protests. “I’m not lying, not exactly. I mean, yes, it started as a lie, but we had the best intentions. We really wanted to do something good for the world, and – and you try living in New England and not amassing a giant peacoat collection! That doesn’t make me an Eagletonian!”

“Aren’t your grandparents Richard and Emily Gilmore, a.k.a. the notorious founders of Eagleton?”

Rory glances off to the side of the room. Her grandparents are sitting there. In thrones. Wearing big, sparkly crowns. Richard is sleeping, while Emily regally waves at no one in particular. Lorelai sits in between them tossing popcorn into her mouth, tiara lopsided. She waves giddily at Rory.

“No one was supposed to know about that,” Rory mutters.

“Speaking of things no one’s supposed to know about,” Leslie Couric says, leaning in, “Rory, why haven’t you told Paris how you really feel?”

“I keep trying,” Rory says. “She won’t listen to me.”

“And why do you think that is?”

“I don’t know! Because she’s Paris, because she’s crazy, because nothing can ever be easy with her—”

“Ah,” Leslie Couric says.

“What?” Rory says. The lights around them dim. “What?” Rory says again, as the room goes black. “Is—is this interview over? I’m not done—”

And then she’s sitting in the Chilton library, staring at Paris from across the room.

Paris is with Madeline and Louise, like always, but the two of them are busy braiding each other’s hair and babbling away in cheerful French. (Rory knows it’s French somehow, even though she can’t make out any of what they’re saying. She took French once. She should be able to understand. She’s forgetting how it feels to understand anything.) Paris slips away from them, wandering into the stacks, the blonde and navy blue bane of Rory’s life, tiny and raging, impossible to ignore, and so of course Rory follows her.

Paris doesn’t slow down. Books tumble from the shelves as she passes. Hell hath no fury, or something.

“Paris, where are you going?” Rory calls after her, dodging a lethal copy of Far From The Madding Crowd.

“Why do you care?” Paris demands.

“I care, okay?” Rory says, trying to raise her voice over the swirling storm of pages. She thinks the books might be crying. The library stretches on forever in front of her, and Paris is just getting farther and farther away, turning into a speck on the horizon. Rory’s feet are brick heavy and all she wants to do is run. “Of course I care; I’ve always cared. You know that. Just—slow down!”

“Liar,” Paris says, close again and finally turning to face her, her blonde hair whipping indignantly, the air around her full of light—

Rory jolts awake at a knock on her bedroom door.

“Paris?” she says, sitting up.

The door swings open, and there’s ... Luke. Which is, objectively, better than dream Paris going into a Galadriel-esque luminous rage. Or something.

Rory frowns, trying to remember the details of the dream. Whatever it was, it’s left her feeling all twisted up and guilty. And in need of some Parks & Rec.

“You’ve got visitors,” Luke says gruffly. Confused, Rory glances at the clock. Almost five.

Madeline and Louise duck past Luke into the room, fully dressed and fabulous.

Rory holds back a groan.

“Is this gonna become a normal occurrence?” Luke asks as they file by. “Weird people showing up in the middle of the night? I’m okay if it is. I just need a warning.”

“We were trying to figure out how to climb into your bedroom window, but we got caught. He swung an umbrella at us,” Madeline reports.

“Like it was nothing,” Louise says, eyeing Luke in a way that is deeply unacceptable to Rory’s mental health. “Like it was as light as a feather.”

Luke is starting to look mighty uncomfortable.

“Settle down, Queen Thirsty.” Paris barges in, sleep-rumpled and grumpy and glorious. “It’s an umbrella, not a barbell.”

“They can stay?” Luke asks, giving Rory a look that says ‘One word, and these weirdos are out of here.’

It’s mighty tempting.

“Yes,” Rory sighs. “They can stay.”

Luke nods and shuffles off. A really fast shuffle.

“Yum,” Louise says as soon as the door’s closed.

“Total lumberjack hottie,” says Madeline.

“Can you guys not?” Rory groans. “He’s my stepfather.”

“Exactly,” Madeline says. “No blood relation. It wouldn’t even be that weird if you hooked up with him.”

Rory is intensely tempted to bury her head in her pillow and pretend none of this is happening. “I’m just going to forget you ever said that.”

“How into your mom is he, exactly?” Louise asks, a dangerous gleam in her eyes.

“One hundred percent, so whatever you’re thinking, stop now please,” says Rory.

“No man is one hundred percent devoted to a woman,” Louise says. “There’s always a little wiggle room—”

“Oh, God,” Rory moans.

“Louise,” Paris barks. “Shut it down.”

“Fine,” Louise grumbles. “I guess I’ll just be one of those boring monogamous wives.”

“Cry me a river, Emma Bovary. Now, what the hell are you doing here?” Paris crosses her arms over her chest.

“Practicing,” Louise says. “The four of us are having breakfast together tomorrow morning—”

“You mean today,” Paris says.

“In like two hours,” Rory contributes miserably.

“All right, today at the Dragonfly, on camera. Nigel approached us and he thought it was a great idea.”

“Nigel approached you?” Paris says.

“Well,” Madeline says with an untroubled shrug, “he got tired of us approaching him.”

“We have to practice ... breakfast?” Rory says.

“We do if it’s going to be the breakfast so fascinating that it gets me and Madeline our own reality show,” says Louise.

“Ah,” says Rory.

“So that’s how it is, huh?” says Paris. “We don’t talk for like a decade and then you decide to come back here just to use us for fame?”

“Yep,” Madeline and Louise chirp in unison.

Paris considers this for a moment. “I can respect that,” she decides.

“So, um,” Rory says, “where’s Channing while you’re here ... rehearsing breakfast?”

“Michel is watching him,” Louise says. “God, I wish I could just take him home with me. He would be, like, the best manny.”

“Michel is babysitting? Voluntarily? Before five in the morning?” Rory decides not to share the fact that Michel’s only prior known stint in babysitting resulted in him rolling the baby under a bed. It just doesn’t seem helpful.

“I said I’d pay him two hundred bucks an hour, and he seemed down,” Louise says.

“Fancy that,” says Rory wryly, and hopes that Louise isn’t actually serious about this whole manny-Michel thing. Lorelai definitely won’t like losing the world’s prickliest concierge.

Poor Stars Hollow. She’s starting to wonder if it will ever recover from Hurricane Raris.


Ten minutes later, they’re sitting down at the kitchen table, sipping imaginary mimosas and memorizing their dialogue.

Yep. Dialogue.

It turns out that Madeline and Louise have written scripts that outline exactly how this special breakfast is going to go.

“I’m not saying ‘on fleek,’” Paris declares, throwing her script down.

“How else are you going to describe my eyebrows?” Louise asks impatiently.

“Drawn on?” Paris offers.

Madeline gasps.

Louise lifts her – okay, suspiciously perfect – eyebrows. “It wouldn’t hurt you to brush up on your inner urban dictionary, Grandma.”

“Every time somebody says ‘on fleek,’ a brain cell dies,” Paris says. “I can see where that might not be a big issue for you, Jackie Siegel, but as for me, I’ve come to really appreciate this whole being-fully-sentient thing, and—”

“I’d take the superiority down a notch,” Louise retorts. “There are plastic Halloween masks of your face. If you don’t believe me, check my Instagram. I posed next to some in a costume shop last year. Hashtag went-to-high-school-with-this-fierce-bitch.”

“You think I don’t know there are plastic masks of my face?” Paris demands. “I know there are plastic masks of my face. That was always going to be a side effect of me becoming a public figure too powerful to be ignored.”

“Your face was hanging right next to Donald Trump’s face,” Louise taunts. “So what, are you guys, like, buddies now?”

“That’s not even funny,” Paris scowls.

“He probably likes you,” Louise pushes. “You’re probably the only person in the public eye who calls people losers more often than he does.”

“DONALD TRUMP HATES ME, AND I WEAR HIS HATE LIKE A BADGE OF HONOR!” Paris bellows. “Do you want me to start a Twitter war with him? I’ll start a Twitter war with him right now! Rory, where’s my phone??”

“I’ll say ‘on fleek’,” Rory interjects loudly.

“Rory, no,” Paris says, like Rory just offered to let Paris have the last spot on a lifeboat off the Titanic.

“It’s two words,” Rory says. “I don’t care, Paris; I just want to go back to bed.”

“You’ll never work in this town again,” Paris warns.

“I don’t know,” Rory says. “Stars Hollow is pretty Team Rory.”

“In any town again!” Paris thunders.

“It’s just a dumb expression, Paris,” Rory says, pressing her hand lightly over Paris’s forearm. “It’s fine.”

Paris’s expression softens. Even in the midst of exhaustion and imaginary mimosas, Rory feels a flash of peace.

“See,” Louise says. “Rory knows how to keep with the times.”

It’s enough to pull Paris right out of peaceful mode.

“Rory knows how to be kind to idiots,” she snaps. “That’s never really been my strong suit.”

“Ice cold, Geller,” Louise says. “This documentary is really bringing out the darkness in you.”

Paris lets out a huffy sigh, but for once, she doesn’t argue.

Once the Rage of Paris isn’t crackling in the air anymore, all of the life seems to go out of the room. It’s all Rory can do not to fall asleep on the kitchen table.

“I can’t believe you guys aren’t loving this,” Madeline says. “It’s the opportunity of a lifetime. I still wish we had thought of it.”

“It was a mistake,” Paris says. “Is that what you want to hear? It was a mistake. It was a mistake, okay? But Michele Bachmann set a fire of righteous fury in me, and now we’re burning Stars Hollow down. There. Are you happy?”

“Oh, come on,” Louise says, relaxing. She pats Paris’s shoulder. “It’s not all bad. Your hair looks, like, the best it ever has, and it’s all being captured on video.”

“My last haircut did cost three hundred dollars,” Paris admits.

“And you,” Louise says, turning to Rory, “you’ll have some great material for some legendary journalism expose.”

Rory gives her a doubtful look.

“She keeps worrying about journalistic integrity,” Paris says.

“Whatever,” Louise says. “Don’t. You can so make this work for you.”

“And besides,” Madeline says brightly, “one day your kids can watch this and be like, ‘Aw, our moms were so young and hot.’”

“What?” Rory and Paris say in unison.

“I don’t mean in like an Oedipal way,” Madeline says. “Don’t worry.”

“Not really the subject of the ‘what’ there, Mads,” Paris says flatly.

Our ... kids?” Rory says, glancing at Paris. “Like, kids belonging to Paris and me ... together?”

“She’s exaggerating,” Louise explains. To Madeline, she adds, “As if these nerds would put their careers on hold for babies.”

“I guess you’re right,” Madeline agrees.

“But hey. At least it’s finally out in the open that Paris was pining for you hardcore from the second you showed up at Chilton,” Louise tells Rory. “I’m glad you guys talked about it and decided to use it to your advantage. Like, somebody needed to bring it up.”

Rory feels the whole world stop.

“All that repressed emotion,” Madeline says, oblivious. “I swear, it was giving me stress breakouts just witnessing it.”

“Do you remember that time you were supposed to go out with Josh Iverson that weekend, but you had to cancel because of the nasty blackhead explosion that came from Paris nonstop ranting about Rory and Tristan and how Rory had betrayed her and she should have known not to trust Podunk Barbie and blah blah blah?”

“Like I’ll ever forget,” Madeline says woefully. “Josh Iverson ...”

“I should have known you weren’t that into Tristan,” Louise says to Paris, like this is a normal conversation to have. “He was so not your type. All that rule breaking and hair gel. But Rory? Rory was infinitely your type.”

“It makes way more sense,” Madeline agrees.

At last, Rory looks at Paris.

Their eyes meet for a second.

Then, without a single word, Paris gets up and leaves. Rory hears the front door open and thud shut.

“Oops,” Louise says innocently. “You guys didn’t talk about that?”

“No,” Rory says, trying to stay patient. Trying not to just go all hulk Rory and smash-smash everything in the immediate vicinity. She can’t just destroy the kitchen. Now that Luke lives here, somebody actually uses this kitchen.

“Can you pretend we didn’t mention it?” Louise says airily.

“Probably not,” Rory says through gritted teeth.

“Sorry,” Madeline says, wincing. “For what it’s worth, I still think you’re a really cute couple.”

“I can see you growing old together with a bunch of cats,” Louise adds.

“Um, okay, that’s nice,” Rory says, dazed. “I really have to go after her now. Thanks for ... your help?”

“You’re welcome!” chirps Madeline.


Rory stumbles around the dark snowy yard in a pair of giant slippers with owl faces on them. Based on the size, she figures they must belong to Luke, and based on the fact that they were next to the door, he actually wears them – but that is a mystery to investigate another time. Right now, she has to find Paris.

She tracks a narrow set of footprints to the garage.


Paris is sitting in the corner on top of a chaise longue that Emily gave Mom and Luke in a seriously misguided Christmas gift situation.

“Paris?” Rory says tentatively, turning on the light.

“What’s the number one rule of Madeline and Louise?” Paris says numbly. She won’t look at Rory. Her feet are bare.

“I don’t know,” Rory says, keeping her voice gentle. “What?”

“Don’t listen to them. They’re idiots. Unless you want information on superior brands of bronzer. Then they’re legit.”

Rory bites her lip. “So you didn’t ...?”

Paris looks up, her face flushed and a little blotchy. Rory wonders for a minute if she was crying, and then decides to blame the cold. “You know me, Rory. Do you really think I would stand by and watch you date the masculine moron trio if I wanted to be with you?”

“You aren’t so much with the not going and getting what you want,” Rory admits, sitting on the edge of the chaise longue.

“Exactly,” says Paris. She sounds so sure, but she tenses up the second Rory gets closer to her.

Rory stares at a shelf of old board games across the garage. “If you did ... have those feelings back then ...”

“I didn’t,” Paris says shortly. “Don’t flatter yourself.”

Rory tries not to feel the sting of the words. What else did she expect?

(Not kissing. That’s for sure. Not falling into each other’s arms.)

All right, then.

That’s the end of that.

“Come on,” Rory says. She goes to touch Paris’s shoulder, and then catches herself, and just stands up instead. “Let’s go back inside and finish fake breakfast, okay? You’re right. They’re Madeline and Louise. They’ve never been very good at understanding you. This is no different than any of those other times at Chilton.”

But of course Paris doesn’t go for this extremely reasonable suggestion. Nope. Instead, she stays put. “So Jess is on a quest to lock it down with Alex, huh?”

“Oh,” Rory says, disoriented. “You heard that?”

“I don’t think she’s right for him.”

“Why? I think they’re a great couple.”

“She’s too chipper. It’ll never last.”

“I don’t know,” Rory says. “I think that’s what makes them work well together. They’re just different enough.”

Paris gives her an ‘I don’t believe you’ look. More of the you’re-secretly-pining-for-Jess accusations, then. Great.

Rory decides to shut that nonsense down once and for all. “That was probably the problem with Jess and me. I had such a hard time being honest with him sometimes because – I don’t know, because I was afraid he would think I was needy or something. We were both too quiet about the stuff that really needed to be talked about. But Alex seems like she doesn’t shy away from that kind of thing, and that’s good. That’s what Jess needs. That’s what’s going to keep them happy.” Rory gives her a slight smile. An I’m free, I’m yours kind of smile.

“Whatever,” Paris says sharply. “She’s a pale imitation Rory Gilmore and on some level, Jess knows it.”

... of course.

“Paris!” Rory exclaims, trying not to sink into the depths of being totally pissed off. “He does not. And how is Alex anything like me? That girl has definitely hiked a mountain! Voluntarily!”

Paris ignores her. “Why did he take her back here to propose then, huh? He must have heard that you were here. A week – that’s plenty of time to swap out the new girlfriend for the old true love. I wouldn’t have pegged Jess as a romcom schemer, but God, hats off to him. It’s like Nancy Meyers wrote it. Where’s Katherine Heigl?? Come out, Katie!” She hollers to the ceiling. “We’re onto you!”

“This is crazy,” Rory says, irritated. “You do realize that these ideas are crazy, don’t you?”

“Don’t worry.” Paris’s eyes are getting that steely glint that means doom to all around her. “He’s not proposing to her.”

Oh. Oh no.

“Don’t interfere!” Rory orders. “Paris, I mean it. If you try to do anything to mess this up for him, I will be really, really upset with you. Do you hear me? Just because we’re all caught up in this stupid lie doesn’t mean that we can screw up everybody else’s lives too.”

“So you’re just going to roll over and let him get away?” Paris demands, standing up abruptly. She crosses her arms, getting all up in Rory’s face.

“He already got away a long time ago!” Rory yells. “God, what am I going to have to do to convince you that I’m over it? I’d look really stupid with ‘I’M OVER IT’ tattooed on my forehead, but I’ll go there if I really need to! Kirk tried to become Stars Hollow’s resident tattoo artist a couple of years ago, so I guess I could always give him a call—”

“I know when you’re lying,” Paris says stubbornly, her eyes bright as she looks into Rory’s. “And I’m not going to let your stupid someday guy slip out of your grasp. You’re my best friend.”


“You remember what you told me back when we were in D.C. that summer, and you were helping me get ready to go out with Jamie?”

Rory thinks back. She dimly remembers brushing Paris’s hair, and then getting shoved into the closet. Pretty standard adventures-with-Paris fare.

“You went on and on about how great it is to find the right person for you,” Paris says. “The person who complements you. Who gets you but who’s different enough to keep you on your toes. How exciting it is to have a relationship like that.”

“You remember that?” Rory says, surprised.

“There were practically hearts spilling out of your eyeballs while you were talking,” Paris says, her voice a little too brittle. “Believe me, I wish I could forget that, but no such luck.”

“Hearts were not spilling out of my eyeballs—”

“I figured out it was Jess you were talking about,” Paris interrupts. “I’m not stupid.”

“I know you’re not.” Rory’s stomach is suddenly filled with fretful butterflies. “Why? Who did you think I was talking about before?”

“Dean,” Paris says, after a pause. “Obviously.”

Oh God.

Oh God.

All of her memories of Paris – every one, right back to the earliest of the blue plaid nemesis adventures – threaten to twist around into something new.

“Paris—” Rory begins, with exactly no clue where she’s going to end.

“Dean, okay?” Paris says loudly, and turns away. “Dean. I thought it was Dean. Dean Dean Dean Dean Dean Deany McFarm Boy. And if you start talking about that steaming heap of bull that Madeline and Louise threw your way just now, I will sell you to Bill Maher, Rory, and if you think he’s got too much integrity to buy a human woman, you’re putting way too much faith in him—”

“Paris,” Rory says, reaching for her arm. “Can’t we just—”

“Knock, knock!” Nigel peeks into the garage, the camera crew hovering behind him. “Rise and shine, Raris! An early morning lovers’ rendezvous in the garage, hmm? Delightful!”

Paris looks at Rory, her eyes bright and blazing. She grabs Rory’s shoulders and pulls her in, kissing her hard. A Godfather kiss. A threat, or an unwanted promise, or something. It’s got none of the softness that Rory keeps stupidly hoping for.

“I’ve got your back,” Paris whispers in her ear before she pulls away. “Don’t worry.”

“Paris—” Rory protests fuzzily, but the cameras are rolling and the day is starting – too soon, way too soon – and Paris is gone before she can think of a single thing to say to make things right.

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