Like Eve and the Apple
'It's what it is. You. Me…' This is them.
"You've read this before." You're stunned as you flip through the little book and get the first glimpse of his handwriting. Messy, uneven, hasty.
"About forty times."
"I thought you said you didn't read much."
"What is much?" His smirk sends chills down your spine. "Goodnight, Rory."
You are your mother's daughter, and so you are forced to say, "Goodnight, Dodger."
You give him a smirk of your own. "Figure it out."
"Oliver Twist," he calls after you, and you think there might be more to him than meets the eye.
It's unlike any kiss you've had before. It's passionate, magnetic, hasty, and…forbidden. He is the Apple, and you are Eve. And it hurts to pull away because it feels so right. You do, though, and when you blurt out, "Don't tell anyone!" you hope he knows you don't mean it.
When you yell, "Welcome home!" you hope he knows you do.
"So things are good?"
"Oh, yeah, really good."
"Still gonna do the Harvard thing?"
"Yeah, good. So. . ."
You stand there gazing at him for a moment, registering how good it feels to have him there in front of you, talking—albeit awkwardly, but still talking like a normal human being. You missed him over the summer, you find, and wrong though it is to admit it, you missed him more than you missed your own boyfriend.
Your pager goes off and you don't want to answer it because you know without looking who it will be and you don't think you can deal with seeing your Dean right now.
"My pager," you mumble.
"Yeah, I figured. Who is it?"
A nervous clearing of the throat. "It's, uh, Dean. I paged him earlier to come over and help me and he just got the message, so he's. . ."
"Coming over to help."
You nod, worry evident on your face. Then he does something so uncharacteristic that you're taken aback for a moment. He turns the water on again, leaving everything the way it was before he was here. You watch in wonder as he runs down the street once again, and you're struck by the idea that he did a little growing up that summer you were apart.
You smile as he looks back at you from down the street, and that nagging possibility enters your mind one more time.
"So, here we are."
"Yup, here we are." You glance around, taking in the apartment. "Wow, I haven't seen it since you guys redid it."
"Ripping a wall down can have that effect on a room."
"Yeah." Your eyes fall on the newest addition to the apartment, with desk and a single bed. "That part, over there."
Your mind travels to everything that could take place in that corner of the room. Heck, in that single bed. You blush because you've never had thoughts like these before, not even when you were with Dean. This is a new, unexplored side of you that only he has been able to unlock, so far.
You glance up at him and you think that maybe one day these new-found thoughts might actually lead you somewhere beautiful.
Now all you have to do is get a conversation past 'hello.'
"So, it's been a couple days since you made the big decision. You still going to Yale?"
"Yes, I am. It's got all the classes I want and some really great teachers, and plus, you know, as an added bonus, it's really close to here."
You're taken aback by his knowledge and glance up at him in wonder.
"How'd you know that?"
"Do you Yahoo?"
"You looked it up?"
"You looked it up." You repeat it even though you know it makes him uncomfortable because he is not one to show his feelings—towards anyone.
"I just hit a couple buttons on the computer."
"You looked it up." It makes your stomach turn over every time you say.
"I was bored. There was nothing on TV and I was fooling around, it was something to do, that's it."
You smile at him in a way you don't think you've ever smiled before, and you're entire being fills with a near-unidentifiable feeling. You long to whisper those three little words in his ear, letting him make of it what he will, but a part of you is frightened that he'll reject it—reject you.
Instead, you wrap your arms around him and smile.
"You looked it up."
You cry the night you find out he's gone. Your mother has taught you that wallowing is best, but you know that you can't wallow in front of her for this because she never did approve of him and she never will. So you wallow by yourself, late at night, when no one is there to try to assure you that you'll be fine, whispering words of comfort in your ear.
Your heart is a funny thing. It trusts (and loves) too easily, sometimes, you think. Before this night, you thought it mended easily, too, but you don't think this hurt will ever go away.
Some hurts never do.
"I don't believe this."
You take in the sight of him—months later, in the back of his car in freezing weather—and your breath catches.
You hear your mom in the background as you gaze down at his sleeping figure. "Uh, honey - I gotta call you back, okay? Bye. Um, is that - ?"
Truth is, you should hate him by now, or at least be over him. He hurt you. He let you down by not being what you needed. He ran and lied when he should have just said something.
You know that Luke thinks you deserve a prince. You aren't so sure about that, but you love Luke, so you smile when he tells you this. Jess is the farthest thing from prince, but no matter how many times he screws up and hurts you, you don't think you'll ever stop caring about him.
So all you can think of is the fact that he's going to get himself killed if he sleeps out in the freezing weather all night. His expression tells you that he wouldn't mind that.
But you would.
And the wound opens once again.
"I love you."
You're frozen as he turns and runs back to his car. Not because you're shocked to find out that he loves you. No, you figured that out a long time ago. Mostly, you're surprised by the downpour of emotions those three words bring back to you. The pain you've gotten so good at forcing away comes back fresh, and a small part of you hates him for it.
You've thought about him sparingly over the past few months, when you catch sight of a book he might have liked. You have a box full of all his old things that he left with you, and sometimes you take out one of the books he wrote in and just stare at his handwriting.
It occurs to you at that moment that you haven't had a boyfriend—and have had only one date—since he left you.
(To tell truth, you've come to terms with the fact that you're just a little pathetic.)
As soon as his car is out of sight, you whisper to yourself, "I love you, too."
You aren't sure if you mean it, anymore.
After he leaves you, you sit down on a box and have a good long cry. Not because he frustrates you (because he does), and not because you still love him. You cry because, had he said something to that effect a year ago, you might have actually listened. Or at least said something more than "no."
He claims he's changed. A part of you can see it in his face. He's slowly growing up into the boy you always wished he was. He's growing up and you won't be there to see it.
You damn the tears that roll down your face as you realize this.
The next time you see him, you are both older and he, at least, is wiser. Your breath catches as he appears in your grandparent's driveway.
"Hey." You have no idea what to say to him, now, after so many years of nothing. "I..." A pause. "Sorry. That wasn't a sentence."
"I got the gist." You realize all over again that he gets you in ways that only he can.
"What are you doing here?" It's the first question that comes to mind, and you know that the answer doesn't really matter. All that matters is that he's here, and your heart is doing that strange thing it does whenever he's around.
He smirks, and it's slightly different than the one you remember: more grown up, perhaps. "I got a job. Professional driveway skulker."
"Yeah, but the hours suck."
The pattern is almost too easy to slip back into, but it feels good, so you invite him inside, knowing there's a lot to talk about.
You dream about him that night for the first time in almost a year.
The kiss leaves you aching for more. It amuses you that out of the three boys you've been with, he is the one that you never slept with.
But the ache is more than sexual. It's a longing that you've been harboring for a while now—simply to talk to him, to argue about books and authors and Hemingway. You know that the remedy for that is as simple as picking up the phone, but every time you do, you find that it's not as simple as you make it out to be. There's too much that has been left unsaid for the past two years.
Instead you kiss him, and you deny how good it feels to do it again. When you pull away and attempt to explain yourself, he simply says, "It's what it is. You. Me."
It'll always be that way, won't it? A half-forgotten possibility. Unless you take the leap and make it something more.
But for now, you can't, so you simply walk out the door and vow for the hundredth time never to see him again.
Maybe this time you'll actually stick to it.
You realized when you took the job that the campaign trail that you would most likely pass through Philadelphia, and you prepared yourself for it. You resolved to avoid him because you know talking to him only leads to trouble, and you've had enough trouble in that last few years, thank you very much.
He will always be the Apple, though, just as you will always be Eve. Attempting to resist him is pointless.
So you show up at his bookstore one more time, at an ungodly hour.
"Rory. What—what are you doing here?"
Part of you expects him to reject you, after what happened last time you were here. But you see in his eyes that he bears no hatred towards you—no resentment. You know it's wrong how much he forgives you because you use him. Not intentionally, of course, but you do. You string him along because the timing's never right, and you don't know how exactly you feel about him.
All you know is that when he's around, you have this gut-feeling that has the whole world making sense, and sometimes gut-feelings are the ones you have to follow.
You keep in contact while you are on the campaign trail, exchanging emails, phone calls, and the like. Occasionally, you send him an authentic, hand-written letter that reminds you of Austen or Dickens, and you know he thinks the same thing when he receives it.
There are many times that you think about cutting off the communication, but you've found over the past six or seven years that you understand Eve a whole lot better. Sometimes, Apples are difficult to refuse.
Slowly, you begin to patch the broken friendship that you two once shared. It's a slow process, and rather painful, but, late at night when you lie in bed alone, thinking about your life, you think it just might be worth it.
The first time he signs a letter with 'Love, Jess,' you know it is.