Title: The Shape of Things
Disclaimer: I own nothing. Nothing!
Summary: "How am I supposed to pick you up if I can't buy you a drink?" An encounter at the pub leads to something more. (Finn/Rory)
A/N: A holiday gift for Leigh. This is most definitely a one parter. Thanks to Eve because she's special.
"Can I buy you a drink?"
Rory glanced up in surprise only to find Finn in the seat beside her, grinning like a fool.
"I'm underage," she replied, turning back to the article she had been proofreading.
"But you forget that I am not." He pounded the bar, demanding the bartender's attention. Rory jumped at the unexpected sound, sending a line of red across the paper in front of her. She frowned. "Yes sir, I'd like two drinks of whatever's the most expensive." He leaned forward, whispering conspiratorially, "You know… got to impress the ladies somehow."
The bartender pointed to Rory. "She's underage."
"Are you kidding me?" Finn asked, slinging an arm over Rory's shoulders. "This woman's nearly thirty-eight! Botox works miracles, doesn't it?" He grabbed her chin and gave her head a shake. She batted his hands away, wondering why Finn and his circle of friends were so unabashedly touchy-feely.
"Thank you, Finn, but I'm fine."
"How am I supposed to pick you up if I can't buy you a drink?"
She shrugged, trying to muster up a sympathetic look. "Beats me."
"I haven't gotten laid in over a week. I think this is the beginning of my dry spell." He buried his face in his hands. "I'm a failure!"
Rory set her pen down, no longer able to work. She didn't mind the din of the pub while she edited; it all melded together into comforting background noise. But Finn was so loud and in such close proximity that it was hard to pretend he wasn't there. She was going to have to comfort him if she ever wanted to get back to proofing her article.
However, she had no idea what she could say as she had never dealt with a boy whining about his lack of a sex life before. Compliments were in order, she supposed, and maybe a pat on the back. If he tried to look down her shirt though, her drink was going in his lap.
"Wait!" He popped back up with a gleeful smirk as if he hadn't just been fretting over his shortcomings as a college male. "Let me buy you a Shirley Temple. Maybe a hot chocolate or a cappuccino instead? Do you like soda? I'm a fan of Dr. Pepper myself."
She pointed to the coffee that had been sitting in plain view the entire time. "Sorry, but I'm all set." She grabbed her pen and went back to work, tuning out Finn's order of something alcoholic.
"So, Rory, what are you doing here all alone on a Saturday night?" he asked once the bartender disappeared.
She peered at him out of the corner of her eye, suspecting that she wouldn't be getting any more editing done. "I'm working," she explained.
"At the pub?"
"At the pub," she confirmed. "My dorm is off limits for the next couple of hours while Paris has Doyle over."
"Staying away until the coast is clear, huh?"
"We have a secret knock," Rory said. "If I knock three times on the door, and she bangs on the wall, I do not go in."
"Interesting idea. I should share it with Colin and Logan. It certainly would save us from a lot of embarrassing naked moments."
"Please leave it there."
"I've probably seen Logan naked more times than the entire female population at Yale. You know, he's more muscular then he looks. If you ask me, he's the perfect description of Adonis."
Rory shuddered. "There was a line. It was a nice line. Maybe it was a little thin, maybe it wasn't in the best place, but there was a line."
"I'm not so good with lines," Finn explained, "or shapes in general when I'm drunk. Everything's rather blurry."
The bartender placed a shot in front of Finn, along with a tall glass of beer. Finn threw a few bucks onto the table, and Rory had to hide a smile. She had been expecting him to pull out a crisp hundred dollar bill.
"The shot is for you." His tone was too generous, as if he had just done her a huge favor.
"No thanks," she replied politely. Did information always go through one ear and out the other? Or had the alcohol burned through it, rendering him incompetent? She wondered how many brain cells he had lost to drinking at this point. The answer might explain a few things.
"I insist. It's no trouble at all. Really."
She turned in her chair to see him better. "Do you want me drunk?"
"I want you loosened up. All work and no play makes Rory a dull girl."
She rolled her eyes but considered his words. They reminded her of Logan's advice to ditch the protective bubble wrap she insisted on hiding behind. Hearing his opinion of her had left several knots in her stomach, lumps that had made her reconsider the past couple years of her life. She didn't want to be that overly cautious girl who let fear keep her from ever really living. She needed to be more daring, take more risks. She needed to down the shot Finn was offering.
The amber liquid burned her throat. She was sputtering as she set the glass down. Finn clapped her on the back a couple of times, grinning wildly at what he had accomplished. "Very nice, Rory! I'll turn you into a party girl yet!"
Wiping her mouth with the back of her hand, she assured him that that wasn't necessary.
"You want another one?" Finn offered. "I have a bottomless pocket and a wooden leg."
"A hollow leg?" she asked.
He nodded. "Yeah, that too."
She smiled at Finn's natural ease. He was always enjoying himself. She wanted to adapt his carefree attitude, even if it was just for tonight. Letting loose every once in a while would not ruin her life; it would provide her with that balance between work and enjoyment that she desperately needed.
"Sure, I'll take another one."
"Excellent!" He hit the bar again. "Excuse me? Bartender?" He waved an arm in the air, a step away from making a total ass out of himself. "Me and Mrs. Robinson would like another round."
Rory had stopped after four shots. By that time, she had felt sufficiently less sober but had yet to cross into that level of inebriation that would leave her stumbling around with no consideration for the consequences of tomorrow. In other words, her inhibitions were loosened, but still intact.
Finn, on the other hand, had seen better days. His conversation with Rory had been most enjoyable in the beginning. They had discussed their college experiences before delving into the years of high school past. It had been during his description of his junior year that his words began to slur together and his thought process changed. He had either lost his mind or purposely began describing Holden Caulfield's adventures as his own to poke fun at her bookworm tendency. At that point, neither would have surprised her.
As last call approached, Rory had decided to call it a night, and suggested Finn do the same. She had told him that she doubted he could take much more alcohol. He had assured her that he had a six pack to go before he needed to worry. Shaking her head, she had ordered him cut off before peeling him off the bar stool.
Despite his drunken state, Finn insisted on walking Rory back to her dorm for her own protection. He kept his arm linked through hers for the entire trek as if they were lady and gentleman instead of a couple of drunks in need of a good rest. His gait was unaffected, and she wondered if he had perfected the art of walking while intoxicated. He probably had needed to over the years.
"Thank you for a very… interesting night," she said once they reached her door. Surprisingly, she found that she meant it.
"I live to serve." He attempted to bow but ended up falling forward. Rory caught his shoulders and pushed him back up, noticing his jacket reeked of alcohol, its scent now stale and incongruous to their surroundings.
Her forehead creased with worry. "Are you going to make it back to your room alright?"
"I'll be just fine. This is all second nature."
She nodded, giving him an encouraging pat on the arm. "Of course."
"Should we say the secret password?"
"It's a secret knock," she reminded him. "And I'm sure they're asleep by now. In bed." She paused, her mouth twisting in horror. "With each other."
"It can't be that bad," Finn insisted. "Better than a dusty old professor, right?"
She stared up at him in surprise. Since when had he cared enough to actually remember details about her personal life? His words, while meant in jest, were actually somewhat sweet. At least, sweet for him.
"Thanks for pointing out the silver lining."
He was quiet for a moment, and she thought he had lost his train of thought. After several seconds of an uncomfortable staring contest, he leaned down and kissed her, shocking her with the abruptness of his actions. She was too startled to figure out if this was a good or bad move, so she remained motionless, waiting for him to decide for her. He took a step back.
"I probably shouldn't have done that." He scratched his head, leaning away from her. "I actually have a good chance of seeing you after tonight. That's usually not the case."
She didn't reply. Her silence terrified him; he didn't understand that she was still processing the kiss. Instead, he was certain he had just ruined what friendship they had managed to form over the last few weeks. It wasn't anything meaningful or deep, but it had been something. He would have to see her whenever Logan invited her to a Life and Death Brigade event, and he would surely run into her on campus. Their paths crossed often.
His idiocy had reached an astounding new level.
He was ready to bid her a hasty adieu when she grabbed his shirt and pulled him into a kiss. He quickly reciprocated, pulling her flush against him. Her article hit the floor as she wrapped an arm his neck, sliding her other hand down his chest. She had no idea what she was doing. She hadn't thought this through at all.
Spontaneity really was not her thing.
When she felt Finn's hand brush past the red pen she had stuck in her back pocket, she pulled away. Her nerves were burning; a mix of the alcohol churning through her bloodstream and the heat Finn had stirred up within her. Her head felt dizzy, and she pictured her thoughts stumbling drunkenly through her mind, colliding with one another. It was affecting her judgment. She liked Finn; that much she knew. But she couldn't figure out if the desire she felt was for Finn himself, or what he represented.
It didn't seem as if he cared much either way.
Unconsciously she licked her lips, tasting the beer he had been nursing all night. It made her feel reckless, like she could do anything. She was a sophomore in college, granted with the freedom to do what she pleased. When was the last time she had taken advantage of that? No one was in charge of her here; it was her prerogative to make a poor decision every now and then.
When Finn realized she wasn't going to slap him, he inched closer. The rational side of him was screaming that this was an awful idea because she was his friend, and even more than that – she was Logan's friend, and no matter how much Finn screwed up with her, she would remain Logan's friend. However, his perpetually drunk side had no trouble stamping out the logic.
He watched Rory pick up her article and unlock her door. She took a step in before turning around.
"Do you want to come in?" she asked with a certain naivety. Her eyes were bright in the dimness of the hallway, and it made his heart pound against his ribcage. Was she really unaware of what she was insinuating? He honestly had no clue if this was an act, or simply who she was.
He followed her inside. She discarded her article and jacket on a nearby table and motioned for him to do the same. As soon as his coat was off, his lips were back on hers as his hands groped for her hips. He maneuvered her toward the nearest closed door, backing her up until she hit the wooden surface. The sudden contact startled her and she pulled away, chastising him.
"Shh! That's Paris's room."
He froze in front of her, his face contorted in an expression of sheer terror. "Do… you… think… we… woke… her… up?" His voice was hushed and stilted as if he was terrified of disturbing a sleeping monster.
They both listened. All was quiet except for the occasional snore from Doyle. Finn visibly sighed with relief.
"My room," Rory began, "is over there." She gestured with the hand that wasn't curled around Finn's neck. He glanced over at the open door.
"Well, in that case…" He wrapped an arm around her waist and spun her around until her back was facing her bedroom. He nodded, pleased with himself. "Before we go further, I feel I should warn you that in the morning, I will be ridiculously nice to you before promising to call and then hightailing it out of here."
"Typical male." She smiled up at him, happy he was making this into a joke. Because this wasn't serious. This was just one reckless night with no strings attached.
This time, he hesitated before kissing her. She found the move achingly sweet; it sent a prickling down her arms to the tips of her fingers. Cajoled by the sensation, she allowed him to back her into her room. With his hand firmly planted across the seat of her pants, he prevented any unfortunate collisions. When he reached for the bottom of her shirt, she stopped walking, and howled when Finn stepped on her toes.
Finn let out a small chuckle, and put a finger over her lips. She touched his skin with the tip of her tongue; he tasted salty and warm. "That was an awfully loud scream," he said. "You do that a lot?"
Her jaw dropped. "Finn!"
"I'm not implying anything!" At her exasperated look, he held up his hands. "Honest!"
"Shh," she reminded him. "Sleeping roommate. Next room." She stood on her tip toes, moving closer. "Violent tendencies."
They resumed their kiss, both hoping for no more interruptions. His fingers brushed against the skin of her stomach as he once again went to remove her shirt. She raised her arms, and he lifted it over her head, before tossing it to his left. With this change, her self-consciousness rose to a new, more vulnerable level. The air felt cold against her exposed skin. She would have hugged herself if she hadn't been clinging to Finn as he lowered her onto the bed.
As soon as her head hit the pillow, a surge of uneasiness replaced the tingles, overshadowing the desire. She didn't want Finn – not like this. This was her attempt to take chances and be spontaneous and prove Logan wrong, and she just couldn't do it. One-night stands were not her thing, especially when her only experience with sex had been with Dean. The memory of lying next to him was still fresh in her mind; bittersweet and too much for her to handle.
"Mmhmm?" He kissed her neck, concentrating on how to get her undressed as fast as possible. He was only half-listening.
Her stomach was quickly filling with tiny knots. She felt so foolish! "I can't do this."
His hand that had been inching up her jean-clad thigh came to an abrupt halt. "Pardon?"
"I–" She cut herself off, unsure of what to say. She turned her head, so her hair would cover her reddening cheeks. With a push to his chest, she got him to sit up, and she moved to sit beside him.
"Rory?" He touched her chin in an attempt to get her to look at him.
She faced forward, hitting the bed with her fists as she did so. "I can't do this. This isn't me. I am not the one-night stand type."
"Would it be better if I told you I loved you?"
She stared at him with a sour expression. "I would feel better if I knew where my shirt was."
"Whoa, whoa. Wait a minute." He held up his arms to stop any further development. "There's no need to make such rash decisions. Let's just regroup."
"Regroup?" She wrapped her arms around her chest in an attempt to cover herself.
He nodded, cupping her cheek. "We just need to think this through," he mumbled, leaning in; she met him halfway. The kiss was surprisingly tender, with only a hint of his tongue brushing her bottom lip. When he pulled away, he offered her a smile of reassurance. Despite his actions, a lump rose in her throat; she couldn't swallow properly.
"Would you feel better if I found your shirt?"
"Yes," she answered immediately.
He stood and inspected the floor of her room, searching for her black shirt in the dark. He found it hanging off the edge of her desk chair where he had carelessly thrown it only minutes beforehand. After he presented it, she slipped it on, hiding her pale skin from view.
Cold showers, he mentally recited. Baseball. Logan's naked body.
"I'm sorry," Rory mumbled from where she sat on the bed. "I'm just… not that girl."
"What kind of girl?"
She was silent for a moment, thinking hard. "I have no idea. There's a lot that I'm not." She paused. "How likely is it that you won't remember this in the morning?"
"Are you kidding? I have a memory like a giraffe."
He frowned. "Are you calling me fat?"
Even in her current state of embarrassment, she couldn't help letting out a small laugh. She was surprised that Finn appeared unfazed by what had just happened between them. It loosened the tightness in the pit of her stomach.
"You should probably go," she suggested. "I'm sure you could find another girl to seduce."
"Nah," he shrugged, choosing not to comment on her choice of words. He certainly hadn't seduced her. "Everyone's either passed out or post-coital by now."
"Um, so…" She stood up, feeling awkward.
"I'll just spend the night." He headed back into the common room and dropped onto the couch. "Mind if I watch TV?" he asked when he noticed her in the doorway.
"Go ahead," she said slowly, utterly amazed. Finn was completely brushing this off! He wasn't angry or pushing her to carry out what she had started. Instead, he was stretched out over her couch, his feet propped up on the coffee table, flipping through the channels.
"Ugh, Laguna Beach is on. Rich kids," he sneered. "They make me sick."
She took a seat on the couch, positioning herself as far from Finn as she could. He may have been nonchalant about the whole thing, but she still felt ridiculous.
"Rory." He gave her arm a tug. "You don't have to sit so far away."
"This is weird," she insisted. "Although it doesn't seem to be affecting you at all."
"You're too worried," he said. "Look, we're friends, right?"
"You got tipsy, I got a little drunk–"
She snorted. "A little?"
"Alright, I got completely smashed and let you take advantage of me." She kicked his leg to protest his statement, but he ignored her. "So nothing happened. It's no big deal."
"But how can you just brush it off?"
"I'm not as uptight as you."
She glared at him. "Hey!"
"You're not getting graded on everything, Rory. Things don't have to go smoothly all the time."
She didn't respond, so he shrugged and went back to watching TV. A moment later, Rory moved further down the couch, keeping her eyes on the screen. She didn't feel so nervous now, sitting so close to him. She had finally stopped scrutinizing each mistake she had made tonight, and decided to relax into the circumstances. She couldn't change what had happened. She wasn't sure she wanted it to have gone some other way; she liked where she had ended up.
"So I can tell everyone I slept with you, right?" Finn asked.
"Somehow, I don't think that'd be a good idea."
"I can tell them I got the hot scoop on the reporter."
"Extra, extra, I read all of your pages."
"Finn." Her voice held a hint of irritation.
"Don't worry, you can tell everyone that I'm from Australia. You know..." He lowered his voice, lacing it with innuendo. "The down under."
"You do any of that, and I'll tell every girl I see that you're awful in bed. Your dry spell will never end."
"Well." He gulped. "That sounds fair."
When she said nothing else, he snuck a peek at her, trying to study her features in the soft light of the television screen. Noticing the movement, she looked over at him, only to find his eyes back on the TV. She watched him as he yawned and ruffled his hair, sinking further into the couch cushions. She quickly looked away as he turned toward her, sensing her gaze. A blush spread across her cheeks as she tried in vain to squash the smile spreading across her face. What she didn't see was a similar smile on Finn, his expression mirroring her own.