Summary: AU from 4x21. Rory may have said yes, but playing house wouldn't have come easy to her and Jess. They just weren't made to last. At least, that's what they thought. Oneshot written for Hider's birthday.
Disclaimer: I definitely do not own these characters. If I did things would be so different.
A/N: Written for Hider's sweet sixteen! I love you, sweetie, and I know that your birthday present is supposed to be a surprise and blah blah blah, but you're going to have to deal with the fact that I already told you about this fic. I hope you enjoy, babe, because this was so much fun to write.
As for the rest of you: reviews are love. It took me two weeks to really get this fic going, and I wrote most of it tonight. I'm fairly proud of it – Hider wanted fic that was sort of based on the lyrics to "Killing Me" by Graham Colton Band, and I think I did fairly well with the almost-prompt. I do hope you like it – and yes, this is an early gift because I was too excited not to post as soon as I finished editing. ;)
He woke up in the middle of the night, freezing from the temperature of the conditioned air in the motel room, and when he reached out to pull the covers further up his body he discovered that they weren't there. Rolling his eyes, he turned over to face her to find that she wasn't in bed anymore, and he sighed as he sat up and looked around the room.
For once he was glad that they'd gotten the last available room – the smallest in the entire building – because it took him all of ten seconds to figure out where she was. She was standing in front of the window, city lights from the street outside bathing her skin in an eerie red, green, yellow glow, and as cars drove by their headlights made her eyes shine.
It amazed him that they were the same shade of cerulean even when they were in the dark.
Jess sighed as he watched her, sinking back into the mattress lazily. He turned his head to the side to continue observing her and she tensed slightly, letting him know that she was aware he was awake, though she didn't turn even when he said her name. The bed-sheets were wrapped tightly around her body and she was shivering from the gentle brush of the air conditioner on the patches of skin that were still exposed to the dark.
"Rory," he sighed and she turned around to face him, her hair brushing against her chin with the action. She looked so much more grown up, now, without the weight of her hair tugging her down. The strands were almost too short for him to run his fingers through, but his hair was shorter and somehow she still managed.
"I didn't mean to wake you," she apologized, smiling softly. He smirked in return and shook his head, nodding toward the empty space next to him.
"The lack of blankets woke me," he retorted. "You planning on giving those back any time soon?"
She turned red and he bit his lip, resisting the urge to stand up and drag her back to bed. Sighing, she slowly shuffled her way across the carpet toward him, dragging her feet as much as possible. He rolled his eyes and she giggled, falling – boneless – onto the bed at his feet. Jess shook his head in amusement and sat up, tracing his fingers down the space where her arm was supposed to be.
When his skin only slid against fabric he exhaled heavily and leaned down, pressing his mouth to hers gently. Rory smiled against his mouth and he slid his tongue along her bottom lip, gently coaxing the material of the sheet from her grip. Eventually she let go and slid her hands into his hair, holding him in place as he gently pushed the material away from her skin and burned a trail down her neck with his tongue.
He had an apartment in New York, and it wasn't much but it was his. Rory only smiled when he threw open the door, and after an hour all of her boxes were stacked in the living room and he was okay enough to help her unpack. She kept getting distracted, frowning as she came across a picture of her mother, sighing when she found her favorite book in the bottom of a box of clothes. Jess kept his mouth shut when she told him the story of the ex-boyfriend boxes, and when she noticed his expression she stopped talking in the middle of a sentence.
"Jess," she sighed and crawled across the floor, settling in his lap as she pressed her mouth to his neck. Wrapping her arms around his shoulders, she pulled back to look at him and pressed her forehead against his, the gentle pressure of the action making him release a breath he didn't know he'd been holding.
"So what's in my box?" he wondered.
"Everything," she laughed shakily. "Most of my CDs, more than half of my books, the only two pictures that exist of us as a couple, my dress from Sookie's wedding, the disposable camera you bought me that I never ever used…"
"I was that much of an influence?" he joked, laughing as he kissed her gently. She frowned and pulled back from him, shaking her head with a furrowed brow.
"You didn't know that?"
He shrugged and glanced at the wall behind her head, tracing designs into her jeans with his finger. She huffed and backed up out of his lap, sitting in front of him with her arms folded across her chest.
"Why are you so convinced we meant nothing?"
Jess rolled his eyes, "I'm not."
"Well you're certainly acting like it!"
"Rory, I asked you to run away with me, do you really think I would've done that if I thought we meant nothing?"
"You don't think we didn't mean anything, you think I think we didn't!" she argued, standing up in irritation. "Jess, you were my whole life for almost a year, don't you get that?"
"Well, gee, Rory, if I was so gosh-darn important then why did it all go to hell?" he asked sarcastically, standing up as well. She stared at him and then slowly backed up, nodding her head as she swallowed. Audibly. There were tears in her eyes and he wanted to take it back, but he wasn't sure it would do any good now that she was on defense.
She nodded to herself and then shrugged her shoulders dejectedly, sniffling slightly as she fought to hold back her tears. It made him ache but it was so familiar, too. He was so used to making her cry.
This was why he had worked so hard to change, yet here he was making her suffer again.
"That wasn't entirely my fault," she said softly. "So don't put the blame on me because I am not the one that left, Jess."
"We were over way before I went to California, Rory," he replied. Her head snapped up and suddenly she looked completely pissed off, though he wasn't exactly sure why. There was no way she wasn't aware of how she'd pulled back from him in the last weeks before he took off. There was no-
"That night? At Kyle's? If you hadn't been acting so goddamn weird then I would've slept with you, Jess. Probably not in his guest room," she shook her head. "But God, I was in love with you and I still am, you stupid selfish jackass, so you should really get your facts straight before you accuse your girlfriend of wanting to leave you," she shook her head angrily and grabbed her jacket off the floor, walking out of the apartment and slamming the door shut behind her.
He slumped down onto a box that had yet to be unpacked, letting his head fall into his hands. He was ruining the one thing he had left and he had no fucking idea why.
When Jess woke up the next morning the covers were all there but the air was moist, slightly stuffy with the feeling of steam. He grumbled and rolled over as the bathroom door opened, the only perk in the entire apartment. En-suite bathroom and Rory standing in front of a cloud of steam, wearing one of his t-shirts with a towel wrapped up in her hair.
She tugged the material through her hair impatiently, shaking her head randomly and flinging water droplets all over the place. He sighed and closed his eyes again, wondering when she came back the night before.
Because at midnight when he went to bed he was forced to leave the door unlocked.
Rory crawled into bed a few minutes later and nudged his arm, sighing quietly while she waited for him to acquiesce to her request and wrap his arm around her waist. He remained stubborn, though he really should've been begging for her forgiveness, and she huffed impatiently before whispering his name.
"Jess," she repeated, louder. "Jess, come on," she sighed and leaned closer to him, letting him inhale the scent of her shampoo as she pressed a kiss to the tip of his nose. Slowly opening his eyes, he was greeted with glittering cerulean and he quirked his mouth a little before lifting his arm to make room for her.
Smiling softly, she snuggled up to him and let her head rest next to his on the pillow, pressing her forehead against his intimately. "Hi," she whispered.
"I'm sorry," he breathed. She nodded and kissed him gently, tracing her hand down his cheek before snuggling closer and closing her eyes.
For some reason it didn't feel like anything was fixed.
She was choosing to ignore Stars Hollow and all of the memories that came with it, so when he asked her about Yale he was surprised that she bothered to answer. Rory glanced up from the book in her hands and shrugged her shoulders slightly, folding her legs underneath her body as she tucked herself further into the corner of the couch.
"I don't know," she shook her head at him and smiled softly. "I don't have to go to Yale to write."
Jess nodded and leaned against the wall, folding his arms across his chest. "No you don't."
"So can I get back to you? I'm still trying to-" she waved a hand flippantly "-process all of this. I've only been here for a week, Jess, I haven't-"
"-I know," he cut her off when her voice began to crescendo. "I know," he repeated, nodding to himself as he crossed the room to sit next to her. She sighed heavily and marked her page, closing the novel and tossing it onto the coffee table.
Keeping her head down, she slid her palms back and forth against each other, brushing them along the bottom edge of her t-shirt nervously. He sighed and placed himself on the edge of the cushion she was occupying, reaching a hand out to lift her chin. Rory looked up at him and he smirked softly, leaning in and capturing her mouth gently.
"We'll figure it out, right?" she questioned, her voice barely a whisper as her breath washed over his parted mouth. Jess nodded in turn and she kissed him again, decidedly chaste even as she wrapped her fingers in his hair to pull him closer.
He pulled away first, resting his forehead against hers as he willed his heart rate to slow down. Closing his eyes, he inhaled deeply, moving his head to press a kiss against her forehead. Her shampoo was muted, unassuming, and he kissed her forehead again before moving away from her.
Standing, he rubbed his hand across the back of his neck and shook his head slightly to regain his bearings, still confused as to how she could so completely affect him. Rory murmured his name from her position on the couch and he turned around, arching an eyebrow questioningly.
"I love you," she swore, furrowing her brow. He nodded and smirked a little.
"Yeah, I love you too."
She smiled and picked up her book again, cerulean eyes trailing across the pages at breakneck speed as he watched her. She looked … comfortable. And giving her comfort had never been his best skill, so seeing her curled up on his – their – couch, reading a novel that she stole from him that morning, was nice.
He chose to ignore the tense line of her spine as he turned to leave the room, and he desperately wanted to believe that she was really happy here. Something told him otherwise, though, and he didn't want to be the guy that took away everything to give her nothing in return.
It seemed like he was always taking her away from her life to be with him.
Her head fell back against his shoulder and he tightened his arms around her waist, pressing a kiss against her neck as they stood in line. She yawned tiredly and he smiled against her skin, laughing slightly as he nipped at her earlobe. Her nails dug into his forearm as she held his hands in place on her stomach and he shook his head, stopping his assault.
Rory turned her head to look at him and Jess kept his eyes locked on the wall behind the counter, refusing to acknowledge her even when she tugged on his hand to get his attention. He smirked a little and she huffed indignantly, leaning up to press a kiss against his cheek before pulling out of his hold to order her coffee.
It was just like her to want coffee from the busiest café in the city. He rolled his eyes and tangled his fingers with hers, tugging her over to one of the various armchairs in the room once she ordered and paid. She pouted playfully and tumbled onto his lap when he sat down, righting herself hastily.
"Mr. Grumpypants," she teased quietly. He rested his head against the back of the chair and raised an eyebrow at her. Sticking her bottom lip out petulantly, she shook her head at him and sighed.
"You dragged me out of bed at nine to buy you coffee," he retorted. "At the most popular café on the block, possibly in the city, Ror. You'd be grumpy, too."
She contemplated this for a moment and then nodded her agreement, smiling cheekily as she leaned down and kissed him. "Thank you," she laughed against his mouth. He moved to deepen the kiss when the barista called her name and she whipped her head around, the ends of her hair tangling lightly in his stubble. She pressed one last chaste kiss to his mouth and jumped up, rushing off to get her coffee.
He sighed heavily and stood, shoving his hands in the pockets of his jeans as he followed her.
The little things she did drove him nuts sometimes. She left her jewelry by the sink, complaining when she lost earrings down the drain, and he came home from work to find her attempting to cook dinner, completely lost as to how to bring spaghetti sauce to a simmer. It was almost cute, but it frustrated him to no end.
And when she started working at the coffee place down the street he had to take a step back and breathe. This was it. This was what it was going to be like until she went back to school or until she transferred or whatever. He was certain her grandparents wouldn't continue to help her pay for her tuition if she stayed, and the idea of her leaving him was scarier than he thought.
Watching her as he walked into the bedroom, he came to a stop at the edge of the mattress and quirked his mouth a little. She was on her side, facing the window, and the strap of her tank top was loosely hanging off her shoulder.
He had a feeling that living without her now would be just as difficult – if not more – as it was in California.
Jess sighed heavily and crawled into bed, pressing kisses against her shoulder to coax her awake. She mumbled into her pillow and swatted at him, snuggling further into the covers with a contented sigh. He grinned against her skin and slid his arm around her waist, leaving an open-mouthed kiss on the back of her neck.
Her skin was salty, slightly damp with the heat of her sweat, and he swallowed thickly as the air conditioning kicked on. New York summers were much too hot, stifling and loud as the city tried to breathe through the smog. Sighing, he propped himself up on an elbow behind her and slid his hand down her arm, dropping one last kiss on her shoulder before rolling off the mattress to take a shower.
Waiting tables seemed to be his calling, and his uniform was itchy. He resisted the urge to rip it off and instead undid the buttons one-by-one, wandering into the bathroom in the process. His vest dropped to the floor, followed by his shirt, and his pants followed the same path not long after that.
Jess glanced down at the earrings that were lying on the sink and shook his head, sighing as he scooped them up and dropped them into a box that was sitting on the shelf behind him. It was designated for Rory's stuff, bought on a whim at a craft fair they found on the side of the road when they were driving to Manhattan, and he bought it for her because she wanted it.
That was really all that mattered at the time.
Water pressure was practically non-existent in their building, but the heat was never something they had to compromise on. Stepping under the spray of the shower, he sighed and pressed his forehead against the wall, letting water droplets trail across his back as he flexed his shoulders in an attempt to ease the soreness from his day.
He was tired and he hated his job, but there was a girl – woman – lying in his bed that he loved more than anything in the world. So he dealt with it to pay the bills and keep her with him, but the more time went by the more concerned he grew.
She hadn't left yet, and it had been three weeks. He had assumed she'd take off as soon as she saw the opportunity, and with all the fights they'd had he was certain there had been plenty of chances.
The door slid open behind him and he closed his eyes tighter, turning his head slightly when he felt her step into the shower behind him. Her hands traced patterns down his back and he swallowed – hard – trying to contain a gasp as she kissed the back of his neck.
The pages of the magazine turned easily under her fingers, and he trained his eyes on the novel in his hands as he lounged on the couch. He had meant to sleep in this morning, use his only day off to spend the day in bed with his girlfriend, but she'd ruined his plan when she'd woken up from a nightmare at ten a.m.
Ever since, they had been in the living room, she going through his old issues of Rolling Stone and he reading a novel he'd bought from the used bookstore that rented the space right next to her work. Rory kept distracting him, asking him questions about various articles that he had never read, and Jess was enjoying her company more than he was willing to say.
"So there's a professor at NYU that thinks I could get in," she said. He looked up from his book, eyes a little wide, and she nodded her head as she set her magazine aside and grabbed another one from the stack beside her. "The journalism department is good and I could get an internship at the Times next summer if I wanted," she continued. "There's the money issue, but-"
Rory raised her eyes to look at him and nodded again, smiling. "Yeah."
He inhaled sharply, "What about Yale?"
"What about it?"
"Can you honestly say that you don't want to go back?"
She narrowed her eyes and pushed herself up from her prone position, cocking her head to the side. "I don't know, I just-" she paused and furrowed her brow "-I want to stay here."
Jess nodded a little and made a mental note of his page, closing his book and shoving it in his back pocket. He sat up and set his feet on the ground, resting his elbows on his knees and looking down at her. That wasn't the decision he was expecting from her.
And he wasn't very good with surprises. That was evident in the way that he had followed his father blindly to California, listening to his need to find out why he wasn't good enough for his own parent to stay and raise him.
He sighed and nodded again, running a hand across his face. His brow furrowed, "Is NYU going to give you the education you want?"
"It's as good as anywhere," she replied. "I don't need Yale to write, Jess, I just need a pen and paper," she laughed incredulously – a little unsure – and he winced when there was no humor in the sound. The bright, tinkling sound that he loved was missing and he frowned at the realization.
She looked into his eyes and he paused to catch his breath while she shook her head in disbelief. "Oh my God," she whispered, blinking. She backed up on the floor and shook her head, repeating the mantra over and over to herself until she was standing.
Once she was, she stood a few feet from him and folded her arms across her chest, hugging herself in defense. "You think I don't want to be with you." Tears pooled in her eyes and Jess brushed his palms across his knees, gritting his teeth harshly.
"-yes, it is, Jess!" she shouted over him and he shut his mouth with an audible click, shrinking back at her tone. "I've been here for a month, and every single time I think about Connecticut, do you know what happens?"
"You regret coming?" he wondered, slightly angry. Her breath hitched and she shook her head, digging her nails into her arms as he stared at her.
"No, you idiot," she argued. "I wonder why I said no the first time you asked," she snapped. His jaw dropped open and she shook her head, scoffing and muttering to herself as she grabbed her keys off the entertainment center and stormed out of the apartment, slamming the door behind her.
The neighbor banged on the wall and shouted something he couldn't understand, clearly irritated with the noise level. Jess sighed heavily and sank back into the couch, tilting his head back and closing his eyes in defeat.
She tensed when he walked into the kitchen and he shook his head, opening cupboards and looking for food that he knew he wouldn't find. Her sigh clued him into the fact that she was desperate to break the tense silence between them and he shook his head again, a smirk on his face as he poured himself a cup of coffee.
Leaning against the counter, he took a sip of the black liquid and winced at the strength, idly wishing that he enjoyed sugar and cream in his coffee. Rory crossed her legs under the table and he watched her for a moment, leaning more heavily against the counter as she signed her name to something and capped the pen, dropping it on the table before turning around to look at him.
Jess avidly avoided her gaze, focusing his attention on his cup of coffee. Eventually she huffed and stood up, waving her hands absently in the air as she tentatively walked toward him. It wasn't a far distance, though it felt like miles from the way she was moving.
"I have an appointment I have to get to," she told him, nodding decisively. Her feet came to a stop when she was almost toe-to-toe with him and he lifted his head, catching site of the fear in her eyes. "Can we talk when I get home?"
Home. The word made his heart skip a beat and he nodded, setting his coffee behind him as she smiled and turned to leave. His hand lightly wrapped around her wrist and Rory stilled, turning around to face him again.
Slowly, Jess tugged her closer to him until her lithe form was pressed against his, and he kissed her on a sigh that she reciprocated against his tongue. Two days without physical contact seemed odd to him, and it was worse that they weren't talking.
Back in high school it would've been the other way around, but contrary to what he seemed to consciously believe, he was different now. Better. Better for her, them, himself in general. His mouth pressed against hers more firmly and she slid her hands up his chest, grazing her teeth across his bottom lip.
When they pulled apart they were both a little dizzy, and he rested his hands on her hips to steady her as she drifted to the side in her haze. Cerulean eyes were a smoky teal and he swallowed hard to resist the urge to drag her back to bed.
"Get outta here," he cocked his head toward the door with a playful smirk and she grinned in return, nodding to herself as she pulled out of his embrace and left the house, keys in hand.
He sighed once the door shut behind her and the smirk fell from his face.
But at least she took her keys with her. And she wasn't carrying a suitcase.
Tilting his head back, he ran his hand across his face in exasperation and slowly closed his eyes, trying to imagine how their conversation was going to go. The scenarios in his head were hardly pleasant, and each one ended with Rory storming out of the apartment, not bothering to close the door this time, forcing him to watch her walk away just like she had done in the past.
He shook his head to clear it and pushed himself off the counter, shuffling across the tile floor to go take a shower. He froze when he noticed the emblem adorning the paper on the table, and his eyes slowly averted themselves from the small insignia until he was reading the transfer application.
It made his stomach ache to think that she was really staying, and he wasn't sure he could live up to everything she deserved if she did. They weren't made to last, something he hadn't even considered when he'd asked her to leave with him, but now that reality was setting in he was certain they were going to rip each other to shreds.
They tore each other apart. It was what they did; he ran, she ran, they both avoided their feelings for each other and refused to talk no matter how much they both wanted to make everything work. The intensity of their relationship made his head spin most days, and on the days that he wasn't dizzy he was suffering from the realization that he could never be the guy she needed.
A lot of the time he didn't even think he was the guy she wanted.
The pages were crinkled, yellowing around the edges, and he sighed as he flipped yet another while he lay on the couch. She'd called twenty minutes ago to inform him that she was on her way home, and she sounded hopeful so he didn't say anything about their impending talk.
Break-up, as he had come to think of it.
He didn't want her to realize how terrible of an idea this really was, moving in with him when he could barely pay the bills, but he could see no other ending to their story. She would leave; he would continue to work menial jobs that meant nothing while secretly storing a notebook that contained a half-finished novel in his nightstand drawer. It was the only plausible dénouement.
Jess rolled his eyes at his train of thought and buried his face in his book again, letting Bukowski take his mind off of everything for a little while. Eventually he gave up on trying to focus on the words, and he heard the lock click as he shut the book and threw his arm over his eyes, closing them in an attempt to quell the ache that came from reading in practically no light.
"They want me to come home," she said. His brow furrowed behind his arm and he felt her straddle him gently, lifting his arm off of his face so she could look at him. He stubbornly kept his eyes closed and she sighed as she leaned down and kissed his eyelids.
A shiver ran down his spine and he arched his hips slightly, earning a tiny squeal from her. He grinned and slowly cracked his eyes open to find her positioned over him, blue eyes slightly downcast, even more so with the lack of light in the room.
Sighing, he trailed his hand down her arm and nodded, following the movement with his eyes. "So you're leaving?" he wondered, swallowing thickly. She remained silent and he felt his heart dissolve in his chest, refusing to look at her and hear the two-letter word that had prompted him to beg her to come with him in the first place.
"Jess," she whispered, trailing her hand along his cheek. He turned his head away from her touch and she huffed, sitting up further until his hand was barely in contact with her arm. When he glanced up at her she shook her head and crawled off of him, turning and storming down the short hallway in the direction of the bedroom.
He sighed when she returned with a small suitcase and set it on the coffee table. Sitting up, Jess focused his attention on her hands as she unlatched it and opened the thing, letting the lid flop back against the table with a bang. Rory whipped around to face him and folded her arms across her chest.
The suitcase was empty.
"If you want me to leave, then say so. Because from the way you keep talking, I feel like you don't actually want me here," she said. "If you do, then get over this thought that I'm going to leave and let me be with you," she sighed and dropped down to her knees in front of him, resting her hands on his knees while he set his feet on the ground. "Really be with you, Jess. Not this guy who's so scared of his girlfriend leaving he won't be himself anymore."
He stared at her, working his jaw back and forth, and the hope slowly faded from her eyes. Nodding her head, she made a quiet sound in the back of her throat and stood, walking back into the bedroom again.
Something shattered and he winced, standing and following her path down the hall anxiously. "Rory, wait," he called, stepping into the room. She turned to face him and he winced at the site of her tears, unable to say anything else to make her understand.
Yes, he wanted her to stay.
Rory waited for him to speak, shoulders slumping more with each second of silence that passed, and she nodded resignedly when all he could do was stare at her in return. She took a few steps closer to him and kissed him gently, resting her forehead against his intimately.
"I love you," she promised him, whispering. "Shit, Jess, I'm completely and totally in love with you, don't you get that?"
Swallowing harshly, he rested his hands on her hips and pulled her closer, kissing her again as he slid his hands up her body to wipe away her tears. When they parted he gasped to catch his breath and nodded a little, pressing kisses along the line of her jaw.
"I love you, Rory," he murmured.
"Then prove it," she challenged. He pulled back from her with a start and she stepped out of his embrace, gesturing around her at the room they'd been sharing for the past month and a half. The picture frame on the nightstand was shattered, pieces of glass scattered around the face-down photo of the two of them at a bookstore a few weeks ago, and the alarm clock hid the other shards from view.
Her clothes were still in the closet, the suitcase in the living room still empty and untouched. Jess inhaled sharply and looked at her seriously, nodding imperceptibly.
"Let me stay," she continued. "I'm not going anywhere unless you give me a legitimate reason why I should leave."
"Will visit, and we've been talking on the phone for the past week," she retorted. His eyes widened a little at this new information and she nodded, folding her arms defensively as her tears dried. "She's not happy, but she gets it."
"Your grandparents, Lane, Paris, your life."
"You," was all she said. He stiffened and she stepped closer to him, unfolding her arms slowly. "Us," she said. "This," she gestured around her with a weak smile and laughed lightly. "Jess, it's worth it."
"-so don't promise me the world."
This was not what he had imagined when she told him they needed to talk. He'd assumed there would be a lot more screaming and yelling, doors slamming, tears shared between the both of them. She would've left without looking back and he would've been forced to forget everything about her to keep himself sane.
And he couldn't give her what she needed, he was sure of it. She was looking at him like he hung the goddamn moon, though, and his heart was slowly solidifying in his chest with the expression. Jess held his hand out for her and she took it, pressing herself against him with a muffled sob as she wrapped her arms around his waist to hug him.
Wrapping his arms around her shoulders, he tugged her closer and inhaled through her hair, pressing kisses to any available skin he could reach. She laughed against his shoulder and he sighed, closing his eyes as she adjusted so that her face was pressed into his neck. She laid a tiny kiss against the skin there and he shivered slightly from the contact.
He shook his head and pulled away to look at her, sighing as he tucked the shortened locks of her hair behind her ear. "We're going to kill each other," he said quietly, smirking. Rory nodded in agreement and smiled, leaning up to kiss him lightly.
"Looking forward to it," she told him.
This time he actually believed her laugh.