Hey everyone, back with a vengeance. Although I'm taking a little break from Crash and Burn due to lack of inspiration, I've been busy on a series of vignettes that I've put together in a story. There'll be four chapters, one for each season; each chapter will by definition be an important conversation between Rory and Jess set in that season, sort of like four life turning moments. Each one is not dependent on the next; it's a pretty interesting concept. Anyway, I hope you enjoy...thank you all who reviewed, I have much love for you. Thanks to Angel Grace for accepting my stuff to Proud and Prejudiced, and here's hoping you'll consider this one too.... :-} and to other talented authors, emrie, coralfly, columbiachica, denise, stewpid (nice transcripts, very true to the show), mrs.witter, fectas, nate (paris fan), the crack bunnies on fanforum (thanks for Literati; couldn't have asked for a better name), and many others I forgot.....

This story is Literati; all you ffnet writers, jory is not a ship. it's not a name. It's unmentionable and absolutely just can't be used.......please, let's stick to LITERATI! long live jess and rory.

disclaimer; characters not mine. are you shocked?



She's grown used to the smell of cigarette smoke; her mother never has, but she tolerates it now as long as everything goes directly into the washer after these encounters. It's still not pleasant, but it's grown familiar. He blows rings and curls that he bestows upon her slender fingers; she slides them on and tries them for size, admiring the more delicate ones.

It's dark outside, and they sit on her porch steps. Along with the need to hide disappeared the need for the privacy of the bridge. From inside comes the faint sound of television and the muted notes of Lorelai's voice she talks on the phone. The two figures on the front steps sink back into the warm summer night, as their voices drift into the darkness.

"Then, that's when they'll hook you up the iron lung and you'll spend the rest of your days studying the ceiling," she finished resolutely, and looked at his amused face.

"Would you like a drag?"

Rory sighs in frustration.

"Does none of what I say make any sense to you?"

"About as much as Ayn Rand. That woman has serious issues." Jess grins, flicking embers like fireflies into the night.

"She's a serious writer," retorts the girl.

"I think she just needed to get laid," he says, and instinctively ducks the small palm that seeks scolding retribution.

"God! Is that your answer to all life's problems? Feminist writers had a reason, a passion behind their thinking! Betty Friedan, Gertrude Stein......"

"Or they weren't getting any. Women get pretty disgruntled about that kind of thing......."

She snaps a few blades of grass off the lawn and throws them at him sourly.

"Chauvinist," she spits.

"And quite nonchalant about it," Jess sighs, feigning bored sophistication. She giggles.

He raises an eyebrow.

"Ah, I see you doubt me." he smiles. "Have I proved otherwise?"

"I recall a certain moment of weakness when you admitted you've delved into Jane Austen, and should you deny it, I have Paris to back me up, so hah. You don't fool me. You're soft, Snuggle soft, Downy-"

"All right," he interrupts, cutting off her playful tirade. "Does that make me less of a man? Cause I'd like to let you know, I have all the proof that all my faculties are in place," he grins suggestively.

Rory reddens prettily, and looks away. Chuckling to himself, he grinds his stub into the ground and chucks it into a nearby bush. He lights another one.

"Do your lungs feel any blacker or is it just me?" she suddenly asks, unable to resist.

"Does it ever stop?" he sighs, more to himself than to anyone else.

"Do you ever stop?"

"Only when my mouth is busy doing other things," Jess leers again, and she quiets.

"You know, you're a freakin' Salinger novel when it comes to cigarettes," she remarks, and he laughs, relenting, beaten.

"You're positively right, I think he's influenced me for the worse. I swear, do they ever stop smoking in any of his works? No wonder being prolific wasn't his thing. His characters probably died of emphysema before he came up with a new story for them."

"That's why he wrote short stories," Rory giggles, and they both roll their eyes simultaneously.

"Is this the end of the discourse for now, professor?" he queries, innocently looking up at her. She frowns.

"For now, my little James Dean prototype. You know, he smoked, and he died pretty young."

"Due to a car crash."

"Maybe the accident was due to the fact he was having problems breathing," she retorts.

"Or maybe it was just the accident that did it," he counters wryly.

Defeated, she commences to ripping grass blades and throwing them.

"Mowing the lawn by hand?"

"Yeah well, I considered my other options, but I can't find my nail scissors and I already brushed my teeth," Rory quips, earning a rare smile.

She studies his clean cut, angled features in the molted gold porch-light that fades into the night; shadow and light contrast in different planes, hiding his lips. She feels hungry to kiss him, and politely refrains.

"So, I leave you alone all summer with Ayn Rand and you accomplish nothing. What have you to say for yourself?"

"The first one was bad enough. The rest of the time, I was busy finishing my credits that I failed for this school year......you'll be proud to know I'm graduating in our class."

"Knowing you, you won't show up to graduation," she says dryly.

"Only if I find a prank beautiful enough to be worth watching from the front row," he grins.

"Glad I don't go there anymore."

"I can picture your graduation; everyone in black Armani and Chanel, holding martini glasses that are permanently attached to their hands by the superglue of stereotypical imagination. I'm guessing there won't be any air horns or bells," Jess says.

"Highly unlikely," she agrees amusedly. "From my limited experience with Paris, I just picture a lot of nannies. Which reminds me, have you thought of applying?"

"What? Hot wax? Myself to my academics? Duct tape to Taylor's mouth?"

"To colleges, and stop evading the question." she commands quietly.

He takes a deep breath, losing interest in his cigarette; it joins a myriad of others in the ill fated bush. His mood is now pensive, and she can sense it. She thinks about kissing him again, and banishes the thought. She doesn't want to ruin a good conversation.

"Have I thought about it, yes. Have I done anything..........well......"

"Jess......" she sighs, frustrated.

"Rory," he mimics, then looks away, troubled.

"I sent some letters and stuff in. I took the SAT," he says quietly, startling her.

"And what did you get?" she breathes, impatient, tense.

"Perfect on verbal. 600 on math."

"Oh my God."

She looks at him incredulously, and shakes her head, murmuring to herself.

"I can't believe I had to tutor you at some point? Was that a joke, a ploy?"

"Nah, I could've used it. Too bad the damn pesky "I trashed your car and broke your wrist and then skipped town and didn't come back till too late" thing got in the way," he replies sarcastically.

"You're never gonna let it go, will you. Can you ever forget it? I already told you I never blamed you!" she says hotly, a faint flush on her cheek. She hovers on the edge of anger. "And why didn't you tell me about the SAT's? Your scores? What's the mystery, Hitchcock?"

"Nothing, Holmes! It was just a damn test!" he says sharply, then, checks himself.


"I'm sorry," he begins softly, and looks over. Her hair hides her face like a curtain; she's not speaking. "I didn't exactly want to make a big deal. I don't know how it happened. I got a letter back or two, Berkeley and Dartmouth.....it doesn't matter, ok?"

Still no reply.

"What're you mad at me for?" he bursts out impatiently, careful to control his tone.

Rory whips her head back, and her cheeks are pink. Her eyes are cloudy with emotion.

"Nothing," she says, and her voice sounds queer. She won't look him in the eye.

"I was considering Berkeley," he mentions carefully, watching her reaction with eagle eyes.

She startles strangely, a tiny movement he catches but she's not even aware of.
"Fine," she replies, rather flatly. She plays with a strand of her hair, tugging it in an almost nervous way.

"Glad you think so," he says absently, giving up.

She suddenly stands up, eyes flashing. Her mouth twists quickly, then bends into a semblance of a smile that she can only hold for a second before it crumbles. He stands up, and faces her, hands clenched at his sides.

"Can you just spit it out?" he demands, but it's not a command; it's a plea.

"I don't want you to go," she suddenly says, her tone trembling the slightest bit. It comes pouring out as she rambles, trying to erase the bare, naked emotion in her first statement. "I wanted to know exactly where you were going cause I didn't want you to go, that's all? You know, ...? I, ok, I was kinda hoping maybe I'd see you around once in a while, bump into you accidentally on a street in Boston, have coffee, maybe sex, or something, you know, like a bad Danielle Steel episode? Maybe when I called it wouldn't have to be long distance because then I'd have to get a calling card and I always lose cards, that's why I don't have a credit card, cause I know I'll lose it, and that's why my mom taped my driver's license to the dashboard because I'll lose it, and-"

He cuts her off with a kiss that steals her breath and leaves her lungs shrieking as her blood speeds through her body at blinding speed, and she comes alive. She tastes the soft and rough, the sweet and smoke of his mouth, and tips unsteadily forward into him. He secures her, gently holding her trembling body.

"Were you serious about all that?" he murmurs, after he gasps for air.

"Except maybe the Danielle Steel thing," she breathes hard.

"I thought as much. What is this all about?" he asks, genuinely wanting to hear it from her lips. He's pretty close to happiness, as he's so rarely met it he can sense it when it races through him, approaching.

"I just don't want you to go away forever," she says, and her voice is unsteady. Her head droops like a wilted flower to his shoulder, burying itself in the soft gray of his t-shirt.

He strokes her hair.

"Afraid you might miss me?" he jokes gently, thanking fate, kismet, God, Bhudda.....Allah......

"To death," she chokes and her head suddenly snaps up. Her damp eyes study him piercingly. "What about you?"

He gives her one incredulous stare.

"Do you even have to ask?" he says, his tone pure ridicule. She bites her lip and hangs her head to hide a small smile.

"You tricked me."

"How? I plead completely not guilty." he grins.

"Tricked me into telling you this. You did it on purpose. I hope your guilt gnaws away at your lungs."

"Not my heart?"

"Lungs would finish you off quicker since they're already half fried." she says tartly, managing a half tragic smile.

"Makes for tastier gnawing,"

"This conversation officially makes no sense now. You sidetracked me on purpose," she says crossly. "You made me spill.....ugh......I changed my mind. Go to California. I hope the LA smog works your lung overtime too."

"You sure you don't want to put this on a card?" he teases gently, enveloping her in his embrace.

"You're a terrible person," she whispers into his shirt.

"I know," he sighs, trying hard to feel remorseful. It's hard, with her peppermint mouth still on his mind.

He lifts her chin, and finds his way back to her. The kiss is slower, more measured, more forgiving......his touch is gentle, unnerving, restrained.............

She sighs into his mouth, and he just kisses her sweeter, harder. Her small hands wander the contours of his back, his stomach......

"I can't believe you tricked me." she breaks off, grinning.

"Will you get over it?" he groans, running his hands through his hair, then grabbing her again, and touching foreheads. "I had to. You'd never admit it."

"Oh, so you were sure I felt it in the first place?"

"I gave you the benefit of the doubt."

"You're a brave man, Jess Mariano," she declares, shaking her head.

"And you're a transparent girl, Rory Gilmore."

"Don't make me give you my death glare."

"Oh, here we go again."

"You know what this means, don't you. You've crossed into uncharted territory....."

"I'll refrain from any lewd comments." he laughs, and receives a roll of the eyes.

"Thanks," she says dryly. "I meant it's safe to assume you're no longer just my harmless friend."

"Not if you want to bump into me and have coffee then sex in the near future." he grins, unable to resist a dig and a chance to watch her stutter.

"Ugh! It was just a literary cliche! A, a, completely unthunk phrase that slipped!"

"Freud would have many comments on that last sentence,"

"Were you planning to channel him?" she menaces, furrowing her eyebrows daintily.

"Not if the lady doth protest," Jess replies meekly.

"Good, then, kiss me again," she whispered, and he complied willingly.

The summer night stood still around them as they found each other, vulnerable, wanting for a moment that hung suspended in time.

"All's well that ends well....." he murmured, and slipped his hands through her hair.

"It's just the beginning, " she replied, and took his hand. "Come inside for a bit? It's getting chilly."

He walks up the steps with her, and takes a breath, then enters. Behind them as the screen door bangs shut, the night stands still witness, sweet, warm, and slightly smoky with the smell of a million realized dreams.

Thanks for reading, Literati shippers. I humbly ask for a little feedback....drop me a line....write me a note.....if you got the time.