It was night, but a dark white stripe of light from the streetlamp outside passed through the dusty closed window and luminated her damp brown hair, long and straight, spread like a Chinese fan across the new brown pillowcase. Her right arm was bent over her head, white and supple, and the other lay softly across her chest, following the rise and fall of her body. His eyes moved down her slender, delicate frame, loving every imperfection. Her right leg lay straight, it's foot on the heel, and tiny, barely noticeable brown flecks were scattered across her calves as she hadn't shaved in almost a week. A bluish-green vein ran up her right thigh, contrasting with her milky white skin. The fitted black long- sleeved shirt accentuated her rounded hipbones, her small, flat stomach, the curve of her torso.

Jess inhaled through his nose, sucking in the damp, musty smell of the new apartment. Actually, the apartment was nearly twice his age, but it was their first home. After several seconds of holding his breath, he slowly let the air drain through his pursed lips.

The walls were a dark, rich brown, and the molding between them and the ceiling was made of beautiful old wood. The shady, warm colors made her feel safe, she had said. There were windows all over the rest of the apartment, letting in strips of moonlight in the evening and the noise and color of the city in the daytime. It made her feel happy, she said. Alive. That in itself made him feel alive.

It had been so long since he had been in the city, living in an apartment. It was ironic- he had grown up here, and yet couldn't fall asleep through the noise of cars and horns and people. And she had never spent a night in New York, but was sleeping soundly, peacefully. He slowly rolled out of the bed and walked barefoot into the kitchen.

The coffeepot, the first thing that had been put to use in the kitchen and the only thing as well, was dripping quietly. Jess padded softly towards it, then realized that there was nothing in the cabinets. He began to rummage through the pile of boxes in the living area, searching for the one marked DISHES.

"It's early." Jess turned quickly around to see Rory leaning against the kitchen counter, her black shirt no longer bunched up, now hanging at her knees.

He paused for a moment, then spoke in a raspy, tired voice. "There is no earliness quite like the earliness of a city morning in the great heat of summer, the audible heat, the visible heat, odorous and vaporous and terrible and seductive." He breathed deeply when he finished.

"E.B. White," she whispered softly. He smiled at her rapid recognizing of his quote.

"The Hotel of the Total Stranger," he murmured, putting a hand on her cheek and drawing it softly down to her jaw. Rory shuddered.

"Why are you up?" She breathed back, smelling him. He smelled like smoke, like cedarwood, like rainy air and soap.

"Couldn't sleep." He traced his thumb over her lips, tight and pink. She relaxed, and her lips loosened. From the light coming through the window, they filled with color. He ran his thumb over her bottom lip.

He leaned in suddenly, pausing to feel her warm, arduous breath mix with his own, then gently rubbed his lips over hers, running a hand through her hair. The top of it was dry and soft- the bottom layers were cool and damp to his touch. He shivered.

"Do you know," he whispered against her lips, "where our dishes are?" Rory giggled, pulling apart and slipping in between him and the counter. She pulled the sleeves over the tops of her hands as she began to move boxes.

"Here," she said, carrying a large cardboard box over and dropping it onto the counter.

Jess pried open the top, ripping the masking tape, and bent the flaps back. "Where are the glasses?"

"Oh, they're on the bottom," replied Rory. She lazily tugged at the refrigerator door. It didn't open until after two or three pulls. The light from it was loud and bright, and it took her a moment to adjust. They had stopped quickly at a corner market on the way to the apartment for necessities. A lone jug of orange juice sat on the top shelf; in the fruit bin were several pears and a grapefruit, and on the side were enough condaments to feed the National Guard for a year. "Hey Jess?"

"Yeah." He was carefully pulling plates and bowls from the box, searching for glasses.

"When were shopping for necessary foods, I don't think we realized that you can't eat just ketchup." She laughed to herself and opened the freezer door, and all that greeted her was an empty icecube tray and a pint of vanilla ice cream.

Jess sighed as he finally came upon cylindrical items wrapped in paper. Unwrapping one, he found a red clay tumbler and sighed, relieved. He turned to stare at the coffee pot- and realized he didn't drink coffee. Maybe, he thought, I'm remembering the delirium of being tired in New York. A second thought entered his mind. Or maybe, I'm remembering that I want something that tastes different.

He slowly put the tumbler on the counter and came in front of her, one hand on the freezer door and the other on her upper neck, a thumb running up and down her cheekbone. Rory watched him, wide-eyed, as if they had never joined their lips; it reminded him of their first kiss and he paused to realize that it was against her refridgerator door in Stars Hollow. This made him smirk for a moment, and then he turned back to her. At the very last second, she closed her eyelids.

Rory answered timidly at first, then straightened up and slung an arm over his neck, making him quiver. She ran her other hand through his thick brown hair, rubbing its texture and softness between her fingers. He sighed into her mouth- he tasted like smoke and the remnants of doublemint gum.

When they finally parted, lips slightly distended, Rory ran a finger down the hollow in his throat and fanned out her fingers against his chest. "It's early," she repeated in between breaths.

"There is no earliness, thought Mr. Volente, quite like the earliness of a city morning in the great heat of summer," whispered Jess throatily, his eyes speaking in a foreign tongue, one he only knew as he searched her face for something that could let him know that he was not dreaming her presence. "You've been reading that," she murmured back. She dropped her hand down and slid underneath his arms, which were propping him against the freezer door like a lean-to.

Jess watched as she yawned and stretched her arms over her head in a Y shape, and seemed to drift into the bedroom. The door shut to block out the pale light of the main living area.

After an hour of sitting on the only large piece of furniture not covered over in heavy plastic, a new black leather couch, Jess felt himself getting tired. He paused once more before going back to bed, to stare out through the sliding doors leading to a small balcony, to watch the sharp, bright yellow lights of the city buildings flicker on and off like fireflies, and listen to the loud, yet drolly rhythmic sound of car horns on the road. It was good to be home.