Coming Out of the Closet
One-shot: Rory and Jess can't keep meeting like this. A conversation is in order.
M, for mature themes and whatnot. Mild language in parts.
Rory Gilmore pried the side of her face from the flat of the wooden door, while swiping some damp hair off her opposite cheek with her index finger. She did not attempt to quell her heavy breath.
"I'm going to assume this was your way of saying you forgot to buy me a gift," she said, her voice far from disciplinary. She sounded satisfied, spent, and a tidge sarcastic, perhaps. But in fact she was far from disappointed in the turn of events.
"I thought you were in Syria or Turkey or some other country on the outskirts of two other war-torn nations," Jess said, reaching up to ease the chunk of hair that had already fallen back against her face behind her ear. He leaned down just enough to press his lips to her neck, just under the same ear.
She closed her eyes at the soft pressure. "I was. We had to evacuate because the fighting got too close to where we were staying. It was either leave and come home for Christmas or stay and become a hostage of the insurgents," she explained. She was still pressed into the door, not to mention his body. He'd been the one thing holding her vertical during the last ten minutes. The door had helped, but if not for his strength, she would have surely slipped down due to her mind being on things other than remaining upright.
He scoffed. "See, I would have taken my chances with the insurgents," he said, which earned him a full kiss on the mouth. Her lips were parted when she made contact, and he yielded to the damp heat instantly. He groaned into her mouth, making her shiver as the sound of his reaction reverberated some nerve cluster in her core.
"Except you're here," she said, which was an obvious thing to say to someone that had spent the better part of the last quarter hour either inside her or enveloping her, though most of the time it felt like he was doing both at the same time. Her breath was still coming harder than normal and her heart rate was still sky high as proof that he was definitely present.
"You say that like I had a lot of choice in the matter. My job doesn't take me out of the tri-state area much," he reminded her, as if she was unaware. She knew why he was there, in her hometown—both officially and what she hoped was unofficially.
"I still refuse to believe you let anyone guilt you into anything," she said, searching his chocolate-brown eyes in an attempt to keep from kissing him again. She needed to pry her body from his and put her clothes back on. The longer they spent in their seclusion the more explaining they'd have to do in the instance that someone actually noticed their departure. He leaned his elbow out on a shelf that held boxes of envelopes and containers of Post-it notes, all of which were very carefully inventoried by an anally retentive Frenchman. Rory planned on sneaking a few handfuls of the multi-colored notepads into her purse, just to annoy Michel before they exited the scene of their tryst.
"Yeah, well, a lot of things have changed," he said with some level of resignation.
"Are we talking recently or since the good old days?" she inquired, as she hadn't actually seen him since Thanksgiving.
He gave her a half-smile, his signature move that generally weakened her knees and set off a whole swarm of butterflies in her stomach as if on cue. "We had good old days?"
She narrowed her blue eyes at him and attempted to appear harsh. "You know what I mean."
"I know that the so-called good old days never included sex," he responded in a husky voice, once again eliciting a reaction of heat from more places on her body than she could count.
"Jess," she said, her voice half warning and half longing. But that was a fair assessment of how she felt about him, when she made herself try to put some sort of label on what they were.
"We don't have to talk," he assured her. "We can go back out there and drink too much punch and listen to more crazy cat stories, or worse, crazy Kirk stories, or we could just stay here and find other uses for our mouths," he offered, his eyes already trained on her lips as if he was deep in fantasy about just what her mouth was capable of.
"Are you going to be in town long?" she asked, trying to keep her own fantasies at bay. They were far too tempting to ease into at the moment. She needed reality of a more tangible kind. She'd been tossed from a strafed war zone to her storybook hometown, covered in a fresh coating of snow and liberally ornamented in twinkly lights. The smell of hot chocolate and cider faintly hung in the air at that time of year. It was hard to switch between the two extremes. Being in the supply closet of the Dragonfly Inn with a mostly naked Jess was the kind of mental break she needed. He was quite literally something to cling to, and that grounded her.
"I have to get back to work next Tuesday, but I thought I might cut out Friday afternoon," he said, knowing full well she knew the date he was referring to.
"You're leaving on Christmas Day?" she asked in disbelief. "Are you the Grinch or something?"
He smiled. "My heart isn't what grows to three times its size," he offered, his voice full of dirty, dirty subtext. The only thing worse than his innuendo was the fact that her body melted in response to it. Her hip pushed into him, creating a chain reaction as she felt him once again grow hard against her leg.
"You should stay longer," she encouraged.
"You know I don't do well here. I come because I know I should, but I can only take so much before I want to blow my brains out. There's not much here that makes it bearable to hang around."
She bit her lip, and her eyes cast down to where his hand was still at her waist, having served as an anchor while he held her in the exact right position to achieve what had been the kind of orgasm she'd forgotten she was capable of having. His thumb was gently stroking the skin that he'd dug his fingers into during the height of passion. "I'll be here. Until just after New Years'."
He let out a breath that rushed over her bare shoulder. "Rory. I can't afford to stay that long. And I can't be in my Mom's house without killing TJ. And it would be imposing on Luke to ask him to give up his office for that long," he explained so well that it occurred to her that perhaps he had given this actual thought.
She nodded, a little numb to his refusal. "I know. I shouldn't ask you to stay," she admitted, still not risking more intimate eye contact. After all, there had been no promises made between them, not ever. She'd assumed, after the initial spontaneous combustion they'd experienced back in the spring time, when she was home visiting after a particularly long overseas assignment and he had been in town visiting his family for whatever reason, that it was just one of those momentary lapses that happened between exes. Especially exes that found themselves otherwise unattached with certain itches that were in need of being scratched. She'd never had to guess about whether or not they'd be compatible in that department—they always had been physically attuned. She'd actually been relieved, to have to keep these sessions brief and clean. There had been no discussion of feelings, just heat and insistent pulling of clothes from bodies and thought-erasing pleasure.
It had been good for the both of them; so much so that the next couple of times they happened upon each other in the small town, they'd made short work of finding a spot just secluded enough to pick up where they'd left off. Never much talking past easy greetings and what would be pillow talk if a proper bed were ever involved. This time, however, not only made it officially a habit, but it also felt like perhaps there was something they needed to discuss. It didn't seem normal to have that much sex on such an erratic basis, and then just disappear from the other's life with no other sort of contact for sometimes months at a time. Maybe it was because she'd just seen him a few weeks ago at Thanksgiving. Maybe it was because the chaotic conditions at her last assignment had been a little too close for comfort. Maybe it was just post-coital glow. No matter the root, it was clear he wasn't eager to change their modus operandi.
"Are you? Asking, I mean?" he inquired, his voice softer than the guarded tone he'd used during his protest.
She gave a half-hearted shrug, which only served to shift her chest against his. At the moment she wished she had just kept to a minimum of chatter and focused on keeping their mouths and hands otherwise occupied for a little while longer. The feel of his skin against her was something just shy of ecstasy, which came with a thrill of the forbidden. It was an intoxicating combination, to say the least, and she hadn't even had any of the punch yet.
"Rory. Look at me," he said, though it was more of a request than a demand.
She consented, though sheepishly. "I'm staying here. Mom always wants me to stay at her house, but now that she and Luke live there, it feels like their house. I'm staying for free, because she feels guilty about me not wanting to stay at the house, so it's not like you'd have to feel like you were accepting something. You'd be keeping me company. I mean, if you want."
His eyebrow hitched. "Seriously?"
She pushed his shoulder back with her open hand. "It can't be that surprising a request," she admonished.
He put a hand to his face and drew it down over his mouth. "Can't it?"
"If you don't want to, just say so. You don't have to spare my feelings," she said plainly, though she was preparing for a mild amount of sting at his outright refusal. After all, she was offering him quite a few nights, and to be completely honest, mornings, of sex, and free lodging to boot. She knew he found the town loathsome in a way that depressed people reserved for naturally happy individuals. The town prided itself in idealism and uniformity and downright pleasantness. It was too much for a lot of people, let alone a kid that grew up without much adult supervision in a town like New York.
"It's Christmas," he informed her.
She blinked at him. "It will be soon. We are at a Christmas party," she said slowly.
He smiled, though it was clearly an expression of self-satisfaction. "Technically we're having sex in a closet during a Christmas party."
She shook her head at him. "You just like to say that, don't you?"
He smiled again, his inner teen hoodlum still rearing its smug head. "Maybe. But that wasn't my point."
She gave him a sharp look. "What is your point?"
"My point is, Christmas is a time that normal people spend with their families."
She hesitated, trying to figure out what she was supposed to be gaining from his line of thought. "Right. And?"
"And whatever this is," he said as he gestured in the minimum of space between their bodies, "it seems separate from all that," he finished as he pointed to the door.
She stiffened against the door, under his stilled touch. "Oh. Right. You're right. It's better that way, I guess," she said as she attempted to slide out from between her two pillars, her eyes already fixed on the floor to find her clothing from the mix of their discarded garments.
He leaned back and watched as she pushed his jacket and pants aside with her foot to better grab her dress in one hand. She held it to her body with a fist but didn't attempt to actually cover herself.
He put his hand over hers, his fingers sliding over the soft, slippery fabric of her dress in the same manner that it had when he'd first felt out her silhouette in the confines of their getaway. "I didn't plan to stay because I didn't think you'd be here."
She had a response formed until she actually listened to his words. "But… you're here."
He smiled again, at the fact he'd short-circuited her most likely self-righteous speech. "I didn't have much of a choice. My mom threatened to bring the circus that is her life to me if I didn't hop a train. A couple of days here pacifies her."
She nodded absently, her gaze long. "I wish something ever pacified my mother."
"I can't imagine having me stay in your hotel room all week would go toward that end," he reasoned. "She'd probably rather you be gagged and blindfolded by some underground guerilla group."
She looked back into his eyes and couldn't help the smile that shaped her lips or the laughter that bubbled out of her throat. "Our mothers are insane."
He joined in her quiet laughter. "So crazy that we're hiding in a supply closet."
"Is that why we're in here?" she asked, her big blue eyes focusing on him in a way that was unfair. They were asking so much more than her words let on. She still clutched her dress in one hand, but her other was flat and staying against his chest.
"We're in here because I didn't get you a Christmas present," he said in a low, even, and apologetic voice. His eyes were sad in a way that made her ache.
"Jess," she said, barely louder than a breath. "You don't owe me anything."
He touched her lips with two fingers, light and lingering, effectively silencing her. "The first time, I told myself it was just unfinished business and that shirt you were wearing," he remembered with a vivid clarity that she easily shared. That shirt was more revealing than most of the rest of her wardrobe, but there was the times and places that it worked for her to allow such deviations to her normal routine. Their first interlude had been counted as one of those times.
"The second time," he said, with a lilt to his voice as he relished in the memory, "I don't think I could have stopped you if I tried."
She blushed, though modestly. He was right. The moment she had seen him, she had been compelled to a kind of madness. It had been as if she'd had some sort of breakdown, but instead of it being emotional, it manifested in a purely physical way. She hadn't told him at the time, but she'd just come back from a particularly rough trip, in Sudan, where she'd witnessed the death of a colleague. It had been from natural causes, but it still rattled her. She'd suffered several sleepless nights until she pulled Jess into the back stock area at Luke's Diner. The next day he was gone without notice, and she started writing her next article.
"Probably not," she admitted.
"After that, I realized," he said before taking a deep breath in, "either we're both feeling guilty about how things went down years ago, or else we're both just unable to keep our hands off the other."
"You have nothing to be guilty about," she shook her head. "We both hurt each other. We were young and," she trailed off as she tried to find the word that summed them up. She didn't think that word existed. She'd been searching for it for years.
"I never was good at staying away from you," he admitted, his eyes flickering from her eyes to her lips and back again. "Which is why I made myself do it."
"You wanted me to come with you once," she remembered, the memory hazy as though time had softened it. At the time it had been shocking and troubling—inconceivable that he would ever think she would consider giving up her whole life to wander aimlessly with him. Now that half her life was spent wandering from one part of the world to the next, she understood the draw of having someone serve as a touchstone. A place to come home to, no matter where that happened to be.
"I was selfish," he admitted. "All I knew I wanted was you. I still want you, but I've come to terms with the fact that we just are what we are."
"Cosmically misaligned?" she offered.
He shook his head. His eyes fixed onto hers. "I'll stay."
Her eyes widened. "You will?"
"It's Christmas. And you're naked. There are several factors at play here," he explained, perhaps insufficiently, his brow furrowing as though he was trying to get a handle on his thoughts. She didn't need to hear a logical argument, so she decided to bypass his attempts at focusing his mind. She dropped her dress back to the ground and put her hands on either side of his face. Her lips met his. At first she just pressed into him, the force of his lips against hers enough to match her need. But it was Christmas, or soon to be, and she was still quite naked after all. The kiss shifted into murmurs and nips and soon hands began to roam. He lifted her hips with such ease, and she once again used his shoulders for support.
She brushed her lips against his temple as he buried his face into her hair. His body rocked up into hers, and she crashed against him again and again until her breath grew thready and her eyes closed and her body took over from his steady build. As she began to let go, his hands were strong under her, holding her up. He kissed her then, either feeling her body's reaction or knowing his own limits, muffling the sounds of her crying out in pleasure. They'd have time later, in a proper bed, when he would gladly let her be as loud as she wanted. As it was, they were a good five feet from the nearest partygoer, and had only been drowned out by the noise of the punch-drinkers on the other side of their door.
"We have to get dressed," she said at last, as their bodies stilled.
He lifted his head up out of the crook of her shoulder. "Probably a good idea."
She nodded, slowly but resolutely. "We have to go back out there. We can't… stay in here all night."
He studied her face as she spoke. "We could. We'd probably get dehydrated, but we could."
She pursed her lips. "We both came here to be with our families. We should go out there and listen to people tell stories and drink punch, and when it's all over, then we can go upstairs," she said, trying out the words as if to see if they fit.
If he were regretting his promise or at all wary of the sequence she'd laid out, he didn't show it. "Okay."
She raised her eyebrows in hope. "Really?"
"I'm fine with it all, except the being with my family part. But it might be easier, now that I have a series of rewards in place," he mused, his lips upturned.
She nodded, chewing on her lip. "I can't stay forever. I have to be on a plane to Turkey on January first," she began, the inevitable talk flowing out of her. "I don't know how long I'll be gone, often times I'm not certain. And it's insanely hard to make contact to people at home when I'm overseas. I don't stay in normal hotels and my flights are always at really awful times, and they're long, and when I get back? I'm exhausted and cranky, and immediately on deadline, and," she rambled on until he put his fingers over her lips. Her eyes widened as she regarded him.
"And you ramble the way you eat," he finished. "Rory, I've always known who you are, and what you wanted. It was me that was the big fucking question mark," he said with absolute certainty. "I got my shit together. I might not like coming here or seeing my bat-shit crazy mother and her even more psychotic husband, but I sure as hell won't mind picking you up from the airport at all hours of the night or letting you crash when you're jetlagged, or making you a pot of coffee when you have a deadline. I could always envision what you had ahead of you."
She smiled at him in disbelief. "Really? Most guys find my schedule a real turn off," she admitted.
"You're going to have to do worse than have a crazy schedule to scare me off. Look at how I grew up. I'm nearly immune to most bad behavior at this point anyhow. Besides, you have a few good points too," he assured her. To show his willingness to comply with a life outside the confines of the closet, he bent over to grab some clothes off the floor. He handed her a pair of discarded black panties, with a lace trim, and he snagged his own shirt to replace as well.
She slid the panties up her legs and let her thoughts race. "Are we… rushing this?"
"Ten years is too fast for you?" he asked, slightly bewildered at the idea.
She shook her head. "No, I just mean… one second we're having sex, and the next we're… what?"
He shrugged as he pulled up his pants. "Seeing more of each other?" he postulated.
She nodded. "That sounds reasonable. Unless, wait… are you being sarcastic?"
He brushed his lips over hers as they stood there, mostly covered, but with no finishing touches performed. Her hair had fallen down and his shirt was untucked. Neither had slipped shoes back on. "I won't disappear again."
She smiled faintly at the goodwill. "I'll trust you."
He nodded back at her own promise. "Fair enough."
"Ready?" she asked, sliding her feet into her mother's black high heels.
He gestured for her to go on. "Ladies first."
She put her hand on the door, but turned back one last time. "Are you agreeing to stay because I was naked?"
He smiled. "No. But it is a very effective bargaining tool, should you need to remember that later on."
She smiled, her face lighting up to match the rest of the whole town. "I'll keep that in mind."
"If you need me the rest of the evening, my plan is to be near the punch," he said in her ear as they prepared to vacate their cocoon of solitary.
"Just be careful of any mistletoe. Miss Patty can pounce like a jaguar in heat."
He frowned, fear and horror mixing at the image in his mind. "So we stick together?"
She smiled as she opened the door to step out into reality once more. "If you insist."