Disclaimer: None of it is mine. If it was, the GG Movie would have happened a long, long time ago.
A/N: This used to be part of Exchanges on a Rainy Afternoon. I decided to split it up into parts and flesh out the three chapters a little bit more. I'll be posting them up over the next couple of weeks. This one is pretty much the same, but the other two I'm going to revamp a lot. Love feedback on how I'm doing with these lovely characters. Love you all.
The Book Thief
I'll never admit this to Rory, but I think I'm craziest about her when she gets angry. It takes a lot to get her to that point, but once she's there, you better fucking run, because she goes from Bruce Banner to the Hulk pretty quickly. Granted, it's my fault this time, and I theoretically should be running for the hills, but I am so perfectly comfortable with my executive decision to continue reading this book that Rory is currently tearing apart our living room to find.
I tuck the worn paperback into my side and fold my arms across my chest, watching her rummage through stacks and stacks of books, completely oblivious to the fact that I have been laying on the couch for the past four hours with her copy of The Idiot. This is the part where she begins to yell at no one in particular – the main event.
"I don't even understand where it could have gone!" she cries out in frustration, plopping on the couch next to me. "You are a book, and you have one job – let me read you. Your job is not to grow a pair of legs, with which you will inevitably run away from me with, in which case I will never be able to find you, and then we end up in this situation!" She now decides that I was the actual audience to this tirade, and turns to face me directly.
"Am I crazy? I was reading it this morning, and I put it right over there, on top of the VCR." She gestured emphatically in the direction of the TV. "Where could it have gone, Jess? Gah – I 'm so angry."
"Are you? Ror, I don't think you've made that clear enough."
"I'm going to kill you. I just want my book." She scans my face suspiciously for a moment, before sighing resignedly, getting up from the couch, and wandering towards the kitchen. In the distance I could hear the opening and closing of wooden cabinets as she reaches for a mug and began to pour herself some coffee. I am slightly disappointed that there would be no punishment for my war crimes. I need to test my fate. I can't resist, the paperback still tucked under my arm, I made a point of leaning in the doorframe of the kitchen (book out of view).
"Hey, what if I wanted to read it? Don't I get any say over who gets to read what, and when?" She rolls her eyes, sitting at the table and gazing out of the window at bustling streets of the city.
"Jess, I would tread lightly." she smirks into her coffee before looking back up at me again. "I haven't been able to look at you the same since you defiled my copy of The Fountainhead."
Whether or not scribbling in the margins of almost every single page of that 750 page book commentary ranging from simple criticism of Rand's ridiculous objectivist philosophies to the DSM-V definition of narcissistic personality disorder (also Ayn Rand) was the right thing to do; I hardly considered myself to be defiling anything of value. That being said, it was only one of the seven copies of the book we had lying around, so someone had to do something about that. This joke had gone on for long enough. I cross into the kitchen and sit in the chair across from Rory, pulling the copy of The Idiot into clear view.
Rory looks down at the book, her blue eyes bulging out of her head. For a moment, I think she is going to leap across the table and rip my face off. Instead, her expression softens, and she reaches out to me, gently kissing my cheek before taking another sip of her coffee. She makes a face.
"This coffee is so gross, where did we get it?"
Suddenly, I didn't feel so badly about the book. That coffee was the same coffee had Rory had picked out three weeks before at Chelsea Market. The same coffee that I was informed that we needed to buy, that I would love, that Rory would love, that the entire world would love. The same coffee that Rory herself had woken up in the middle of the night the night before and informed me in her half-wakeful stupor that we needed to wake up at 7 am in the morning on a Saturday to rush to buy this coffee. The same coffee that we both sampled and hated, and the same coffee that Rory insisted that we needed because our tastes would change and then we would be regretting our decision.
"I don't know, but it's not nearly as gross as the woman who forced me to wake up at 7 am on a Saturday morning to buy it in the first place."
"You're lucky I love you, otherwise you would have died a long time ago—it's only fair that you know this." She chances a look at my face, but quickly looks away again, too tempted by my smirk.
"If it weren't for my devilishly good looks, we both know my hatred of Ayn Rand would have kicked me to the curb a long time ago." She purses her lips to prevent them from curling into a full smile, a habit formed in times like these where letting Jess Mariano win a fight was simply not an option.
"Well, you should know that Paul Ryan worships Rand. If you keep stealing my books before I finish them, I might just have to give him a chance."
"Together, you and Paul Ryan will start a new fascist regime. I wonder how many voters you guys will pull in." Rory stands up abruptly, still keeping the light tone of the conversation, but also mildly offended.
"She was not a fascist! I am not going to get into this with you agai—" I swiftly get up from the table, entangling my fingers with hers. She almost considers continuing the pseudo argument, but I suppose she decides that she likes where this scenario is going much more. Saved. Rory leans back against the counter tugging on the belt loops of my jeans to pull my body against hers. Her lips collide with mine. I can feel her breasts through the thin material of her tanktop and suddenly I didn't feel much like coffee talk anymore.
Sometimes I have these moments where I feel like I am watching myself outside my body. I find it hard to believe that I am living this life, in flesh and blood, and I am living in this one bedroom apartment in the city with my best friend, who just so happens to be the love of my life. And she's real. And she's standing here in front of me, with her fucking hands in my belt loops making me want her even more and she's kissing me. She's standing here, and she's kissing me, and she's Rory. The same Rory whose copy of Howl I had stolen so many years ago, whose pathetic lunch basket I had paid way too much money for, whose charm and infallible wit I had fallen in love with, whose heart I had broken, and whose faith in me drove me to succeed. Whose phone call five years ago had finally converged our endlessly parallel lives. I don't know how the fuck any of this happened, but I'm starting to think I should stop questioning it and just let myself have the moment without playing a game of 20 questions with myself.
Right now, I'm having one of those moments. And maybe she is too, but she'll never feel the depth of it quite like I do. She'll never know of all those years I sat around detesting libraries and video stores. Every book I read, or movie I watched, or even song I listened to seemed to catalog a different moment in my time with Rory. There were girls. But there are girls, and there are girls like Rory. She never left me, in all these years. I guess I never really left her either, otherwise we wouldn't have ended up the way we did.
"Hi," she murmurs into my ear, and I can feel her smiling into my neck. The blood is rushing to my head and I am seventeen years old leaning against a gas pump contemplating a cigarette.
"Hi yourself," I murmur back, running my hands up and down the length of her body. Her heart is pounding so hard I can feel it against my chest, synchronizing itself with my own. She was reading my thoughts. She pulled away from me for a second, scanning my face for an emotion. The corners of her mouth finally curl into that smile and she rests her head contentedly against my shoulder for a while as we stand there in our tiny kitchen like it was the most normal thing in the world. She suddenly pulls away, clearly irritated.
"I can't believe you! This is your ploy to get me to give you the book? Seducing me? Well guess what? It's not going to work on me this time." She picks up the copy of The Idiot,triumphantly shoving it into her messenger bag and apparently quite pleased with herself after catching me in the midst of my 'act.' "I have to go to work, but I'll see you later. And don't get any ideas!" She kisses me, before running off to the bedroom to change and to head uptown to the Times.
Later that night, I come home to find The Idioton the bedside table on top of a bunch of other books, with Rory passed out with another book folded over on her stomach. She's done this every night this week, and every night, I follow the same routine. I flip off the light switch, and take the book off her stomach, dog-earing the page she is on, before setting it on the stand. This time, however, I notice something different. Rory left me a post it on the cover, very much aware of our ongoing routine.
You can finish The Idiot. I found something much better. Love you, Rory.
And there, now sitting on our bedside table, was that same tattered copy of Howl from so many years ago.