A SLEEPLESS NIGHT

DISCLAIMER: I don't own the rights to Gilmore Girls, nor to the poem by Pablo Neruda that appears in the story. I also don't advocate smoking, kiddies.

Her bleary eyes noted that the red numbers on her alarm clock seemed to scream out the time, 2:45am, as if mocking her. Her cold hand groped around to find the covers that had gone askew in the course of the night, sliding down her body, leaving her cool in the night air. Pulling them up tightly around her, she felt slightly warmer, but a feeling of restlessness was brewing in her stomach. She ran a hand over the other side of the bed, which remained cold and untouched.

She had stirred twice before this evening, noting the time and the lack of the familiar touch of his body up against her in the bed. She rolled over onto her stomach, trying not to think of where he might be, or that he might not come back at all. She focused on getting warm, pulling her hands in and tucking them neatly under her torso to heat them. Not able to think of anything other than the fact he wasn't next to her, she started to feel worried. It had been four years since she had slept alone. She had never been alone in this bed, in fact. This wasn't just her bed, it never was just hers. It was the first thing they had bought together. She remembered going into the store, and looking around. Everything had seemed to cost so much, mainly because they had no money. They had pissed off the sales clerks, bouncing on the beds and testing out mattresses by laying on them, generally ignoring the clerks desperate for their commission. They had known they were going to buy the best mattress for what little money they had. This had been their first decision as a couple.

She smiled, remembering the deliverymen coming and carrying the bed into the apartment, and him as he signed for the delivery and then proceeded to rip the tags off the mattresses. She had followed him around going on about how the mattress tag police were going to come looking for him. He retaliated by picking her up at the waist, and carrying her into the bedroom, which now looked like a proper bedroom, bed and all, and threw her down on the brand-new mattress. She giggled at the cliché thought of breaking in the new mattress, which is exactly what they proceeded to do.

After they made love, she giggled, lying naked in his arms. He brushed some hair off her face with just a finger, and then traced the outline of her smile.

"What?" he murmured, burying his face into her hair.

"I was just thinking we need to put sheets on the bed—I was seriously having trouble gripping onto the bare mattress."

He kissed the top of her head, "Next time just hang on to me."

She had taken his somber tone so seriously. Tears had sprung to her eyes, laying there, her flesh pressed up against his, wanting to hold onto him for all time.

But this night, some four years later, he wasn't there to hold onto. It was just the cool fabric of the cotton sheets against her skin tonight. Giving up on being warm or falling back to sleep, she reached out and felt the switch to the lamp on her nightstand. Flipping it to the on position, she closed her eyes and counted silently to three before slowly opening them. She retrieved her favorite anthology of poetry from the nightstand and slipped on her reading glasses. It was now 3:00am, as the clock so belligerently pointed out. Brushing through the pages to find where she had left off earlier, she did her best to focus on the words. She recognized the poem immediately. She closed her eyes, hearing his rough voice whispering the words into her ear sweetly.

But

if each day,

each hour,

you feel that you are destined for me

with implacable sweetness,

if each day a flower

climbs up to your lips to seek me,

ah my love, ah my own,

in me all that fire is repeated,

in me nothing is extinguished or forgotten,

my love feeds on your love, beloved,

and as long as you live it will be in your arms

without leaving mine.

She loved to hear his sensual voice recite such beautiful words to her, just for her. It gave her chills to know he was only like this with her. This hard man, who faced the world with air of apathy mixed with superiority, was underneath it all the most sultry, sexy man that would recite poems to her as they lay in bed, pressed into each other, though it was too hot in the naked city to do so. But they didn't care, as long as they were as close as they could get to the other. He wasn't good at telling her how he felt using his own words, though she knew, through his recitation choices, the way he touched her, the way he would roll over in the middle of the night and pull her back against him as tightly as possible.

3:13am. She felt a breath of relief slide out of her as she heard the faint click of the door unlocking several times. She continued the pretense of reading, as his familiar frame came through the bedroom door. She breathed in his scent; she could tell he'd just been smoking. She never let herself pry, not with him. He would offer up the information on a need to know basis, other than that, it was all trust between the two. Ever since that night she had shown up on his doorstep four years ago.

She knocked, getting nervous after a few moments of silence. He opened the door, surprised to say the least to see her standing before him, holding what looked like a picture frame. She thrust it out for him to see. He took it from her, his fingers brushing hers as he did so, and ran his hand over the top of the smooth glass. He read from it her name, followed by the seal of an Ivy League university, approving her for release into the real world. He looked up at her, searching her eyes for the meaning of her actions.

"I couldn't leave with you then, I just couldn't. I thought it was the smart thing to do, but yesterday I got this, and all I could think of was that you weren't there to share it with. So, I came to share it with you."

From that moment on, it was the two of them, as it was supposed to be. They lived together, they worked and somehow managed to survive. As they both worked their way up the ladders at work they even managed to furnish their modest apartment and live more than comfortably.

He sat on the edge of the bed, taking off his shoes. She put down her book and propped an elbow up so she could lean into it and study him, as he got undressed. He pulled the shirt off of his body, first taking the back of it up and over his head, then pulling his arms out of it. He tossed it over to the hamper and then stood to allow his pants to slide down his legs, bringing his ass into her direct view. She moved closer to him, running her fingers down his spine, starting between his shoulder blades and coming to rest at the waistband of his boxer shorts. He turned around to face her, and placed his hands on either side of her face. He wasn't really cupping her face or holding her in place, he just looked at her as if she might disappear from his view at any moment. She backed up to allow him to slide into the bed next to her.

"I was cold."

"I'm sorry. I'll warm you, I promise."

"Is it cold outside?"

"Freezing. I didn't mean to keep you up."

"Just couldn't sleep. I guess I just got used to you being here next to me."

"Come here," he gestured for her to curl up on his chest. It was her favorite position to lie in, her head on his chest, one leg haphazardly thrown one of his, nestling between his legs. She ran her ring finger, still gloriously uncovered, across his smooth chest.

"Rory," Jess started, his voice filled with regret and weariness.

"Shh, let's just go to sleep," she assured him.

"But you should know," he began again, stopping when she shook her head against the crook of his shoulder.

"You're here, that's all I care about now."

Her tone was adamant and they were both exhausted. He had intended on coming straight home from work, but knowing what he had planned to do that evening was too much for his nerves. He'd roamed the block encircling their apartment building for hours, smoking probably at least the half pack of cigarettes he had in his jacket pocket, just building up the nerve to go home. He fingered the small velvety box with his left hand, securely hidden from the world as he puffed on his vice with his right. He had never thought he would think of anywhere as home, but they had definitely built something that he would call their home. Nothing in the apartment was just his or just hers, everything was theirs. They shared everything and he wouldn't have it any other way. She had even taken one of his cigarettes once, just to see what the appeal was for him.

He came out onto the fire escape to see Rory sitting on the wicker loveseat they had bought for two dollars at a thrift store because it was easy to carry up the five floors to their apartment and it would actually fit out on their small fire escape landing. She had on boy shorts and a tank top, her hair pulled back from her face due to the heat of the New York summer, a cigarette in one hand and a lighter in the other. She was popping the switch of the lighter to no avail, and smiling he climbed out next to her and with a skilled hand, lit the green lighter for her. She attempted nonchalantly to do what she had seen him do hundreds if not thousands of times—to puff on the end, making the tip of the small white stick glow amber. Unfortunately she inhaled with too much vigor and pulled back from it as if it might bite her, coughing hard. He chuckled at her, as she passed him the now lit cigarette.

"What's the verdict?"

"You're crazy," she let out between coughs. He just smiled as he took another drag and released it slowly into the already thick air.

She didn't climb back inside, rather she just watched as he enjoyed his cigarette, which he could taste the remnants of her last cup of coffee on. She loved to watch him smoke, he was so peaceful, he made it look like the old movie stars used to. Sophistication and class seemed to flow from him, and she couldn't help but watch him enraptured. She would add a protest about how those things would kill him some day, for good measure of course.

"Baby, if I gotta go, I wanna go happy," he'd reply, giving her a smile.

He wanted to tell her so badly, that these were the moments that he fell more in love with her. Those things she did that cemented them together, that melted his heart and reshaped it into a shrine for her.

But not tonight. Tonight, they slept, desperately clinging to one another. He would try again another day to make her see just how much he lived for her. Just how much he wanted to continue to share his life with her.

AN: Well? Yes, I'm a true Lit at heart. Sigh. I have no idea where this came from. Anyways, I do live for reviews. IF you can't find it, it's down there in the bottom left corner. Yep, that's the pretty blue button (use it!).