Rory awoke to a bright stream of light coming in her window and stretched, happy to be
home in her own bed. Washington had been fun, but home was definitely better. After her
flight landed yesterday morning, she'd hung out with her mom and grandparents in
Hartford, getting back to Stars Hollow around 10:30 and falling right into bed.

Rory showered and dressed; then noticed the note on the counter. 'Come meet me at
Luke's when you wake up,' her mom had written. Rory was glad to know her mom and
Luke had made up. She wandered out the back door, pensive. Going to Luke's meant
that she would have to see Jess. They hadn't talked since she had kissed him at Sookie's

'It's going to be so weird," she thought aloud.

She stopped, shaking her head. "You're totally talking to yourself, Rory. Babette's going
to think you're loopy."

"Babette may not be the one you should be worried about." A male voice behind her
made her jump.

"Jess!" Think of the devil and he appears, she thought. Fortunately she managed not to
say that aloud. "What are you doing here?" she stammered.

"I heard your mom tell Luke you were coming over. Thought I'd 'accidentally' run into
you. What's going to be weird?"


"You said something was going to be weird. What?"

Rory gestured between them. "This. Talking to you. We haven't…"

"I know. I guess...that's why I'm here. Clear the air."

"Yeah. Wise idea." Rory looked down at her feet, then back up at him. "I have no idea what to say next."

"Honesty generally works."

"I honestly don't know what to say next."

"OK." He shoved his hands in his pockets nervously. "I can talk."

Jess moved closer so he could watch her face, and his voice softened. "I was glad
you kissed me, Rory. I wanted to kiss you when you came to the city." He chuckled.
"Only reason I didn't is that I thought you'd tell Dean and he'd kick my ass. But
I like it when you kiss me." Her eyes got wide and warm and he suppressed the urge
to kiss her again.

"I know you've got a boyfriend, so if the kiss didn't mean anything that's okay.
We're still good. Do what makes you happy. There won't be any consequences from me."

Rory felt a little dizzy. She knew she was grinning but couldn't stop herself. "How do
you do that, Jess?"

"Do what?"

"Always say exactly what I want you to say. Even when I don't know what I want you to
say." He shrugged. "Follow me." Rory led him into the house. She picked up the phone
in the living room and dialed.

"Mom? Hey. Listen, I just got up and I wanna hang out here at home for awhile. Can you
eat without me? Yeah, I found those Frosted Flakes we bought last year. A couple of
hours. I'll come to the Inn for lunch; I wanna see Sookie. Great. Love you. Bye."

Rory hung up the phone and turned to face Jess, who was leaning up against the
doorjamb going into the kitchen. "Can I really do whatever I want?"


"OK." Rory fidgeted and smiled nervously at him. "I want to kiss you again."

Jess watched her with a languorous expression in his eyes that made her feel warm all
over. "What about Dean?"

"I know. I guess I need to break up with him, if I'm going to be kissing you." Rory sat
down on the couch. "That's the only difficult part. There's a part of me that just doesn't
want to end it yet."

"So don't. I can keep a secret if you can."

"What, just make out with you behind his back? That would be setting him up to get

Jess shrugged. "Not if he doesn't ever find out about it."

"This is Stars Hollow, Jess. He'll find out." She turned, leaning back against the arm of
the sofa and tucking her legs under her. "Besides, it'd be cheating. I'm generally a very
honest person. I don't even cheat at videogames."

He crossed the room and sat down beside her. "OK, so tell him. But don't hate me when
you realize that I'm not a good substitute."

"I'm not sure how I'm supposed to take that comment." Rory looked at her fingers,
nervously threading them together in her lap. "Are you planning on being a lousy

"Are you planning on my being your boyfriend?" Rory's expression was confused, and
Jess felt like the villain everyone thought him for shattering her illusions. "I'm not like
Dean, Rory. We're good together, but it won't be flowers and romance and friendship
bracelets...all that innocent shit that would impress your mother."

She looked a bit crestfallen, almost pained as she pulled her knees up to her chest and
wrapped her arms around them. She didn't meet his eyes. "So what would it be like, Jess?
If I said I wanted you for a boyfriend?"

Jess could feel his heart racing. He stood up and began to pace. "We'd be friends. Equals.
No games; no roles set by society. I wouldn't protect you or shelter you. I respect your
ability to take care of yourself, and I'm not the adoring puppy type." He stopped, running his
fingers through his hair. "It would just be us, together, making each other as happy as we

Rory looked directly at him, "That doesn't sound so bad."

Jess returned her stare. "What if you discover that you're just experimenting with me but
are still in love with him?"

Rory grinned. "Are you asking if I just want you for your body?" She made a show of ogling
him. "It's such a nice body."

Jess chuckled. "Yeah, I guess that's what I'm asking. I heard..." Jess's voice trailed off
as he stumbled for the right words.

"What, Jess?" Rory's voice was curious. "You can say anything. I won't get mad."

"I heard you telling Lane about kissing me before you went to Washington."

Rory jumped to her feet, interrupting him. "You eavesdropped!"

"You said you wouldn't get mad."

"I'm not mad!" Jess raised an eyebrow and she crossed her arms, avoiding eye contact.
Her face was red. "I'm not mad. I'm embarrassed. You weren't meant to hear that

Jess stuck his hands in his pockets and spoke bluntly. "I'm not sorry I listened. You left
without talking to me. If I hadn't overheard I wouldn't have had any idea what to make of
your kissing me and then running away. I might have been angry at you for leaving. I
might have assumed it didn't mean anything to you and found someone else. Instead I
understood that you were confused."

Rory nodded, and he continued. "You said you could tell that I was more experienced than
Dean, and that you didn't know if you were falling for me or if you were just curious about
what it would feel like to have sex with someone who knew what he was doing."

Rory's face got even redder. "You were NOT supposed to hear that."

"It's a normal thing to wonder about." Jess's eyes darkened and he struggled to keep his voice
neutral. "Look, I have been trying to make you want me, and I feel like I confused you. So my
point is, if you want to experiment a little with me, figure out what you're feeling but not
give up your perfect small town boyfriend, that's fine."

Rory walked toward him, never breaking eye contact, and took his hand. They stood a
few inches apart, just watching each other, and then Rory slipped her arms around his
waist, closed her eyes, and pressed her mouth to his. Jess tangled his fingers in her hair
and pressed the other hand in the small of her back, holding her to him and fighting the
rising wave of emotion that was flooding through him. Rory broke the kiss, keeping her
face just centimeters from his. "I thought about this when I was in Washington." She
averted her eyes. "I felt guilty but I never dreamed about Dean. In my fantasies it's
always you. I'm not completely confused."

Jess claimed her lips again, turning her so she was leaning against the wall. His hands slid
between her shirt and shorts and caressed the tender skin at her waist, and she pressed
into him, overwhelmed by the sensation. His hands cupped her hips and pressed her even
closer, then suddenly he stopped kissing her and lifted her off the floor.

"Wrap your legs around my waist and hang on," he said, smiling at her. Rory complied,
and giggled when he started to carry her into the kitchen.

"Jess, what are you doing!"

"I'm supposed to be teaching you, right? Well, people generally study at a table." He set
her down on the kitchen table and stood between her legs. "Be sure to take notes."

He reached to the back of her head and pulled her hair out of its ponytail, running his
fingers through it and splaying it around her shoulders. "Beautiful." He reached for her
hand and pressed his lips to the pulse in her wrist, making her shudder. With her other
hand, she grabbed the edge of the table, and she watched, transfixed, as Jess's mouth
caressed her palm and kissed the tips of her fingers, his eyes never leaving her face.

Jess grabbed her legs behind her knees and pulled, wrapping her legs around his waist
again just as his mouth landed on hers. The feel of her legs at his waist was incredibly
intimate. He couldn't help himself—-his imagination tortured him with images of her
wrapping them around him in bed...

He leaned forward so she was bent back toward the tabletop and stroked his lips against
hers, holding her against his chest. Her bottom lip was warm and swollen, and he drew it
into his mouth, dragging his tongue back and forth against it. Rory caught her breath and
he heard a pleading moan in the back of her throat. The sound cut to his heart, and Jess
deepened the kiss, cradling her head in his hands and plunging his tongue deep into her
mouth, dueling with her tongue and stroking her palate until she was sobbing beneath

Jess broke the kiss and pulled back from her. He held her with his left arm while he
dragged gentle fingers down her torso—-over her sternum, between her breasts,
across her belly. As beautiful as her body was, he watched her face, savoring her
reactions. He slid his hand up to cup the underside of her breast through the fabric of her
top, dragging his thumb across the nipple. Rory's lips had parted and she was panting,
watching his hand. She fought the instinct to move her hips against him; she could feel
how hard he was, and she'd read enough to know that the friction would arouse him

Her legs were still wrapped around his waist, and Jess could feel the tension in her hips.
"Don't fight it, Rory. Relax. Move if you want. I'll be able to control it."

He moved her arms so that she was leaning back on her hands, supporting herself, and
cupped both her breasts in his hands. He traced circles around the tips with his thumbs,
and Rory couldn't resist. She whimpered, and ground her hips hard against him, tightening
her grip around his waist. Jess gritted his teeth, but kept his hands gentle. He covered
her completely with his palms, warming her, and felt her nipples contract further through
the thin cotton of her bra and shirt.

Rory arched her back, pushing herself deeper into Jess's hands. She couldn't believe how
he made her feel. Even in her wildest dreams—-she'd never imagined this compulsive
need to press herself against him, or how tightly the muscles in her lower abdomen would
contract with tension and desire. She'd always thought she'd be nervous about letting a
man see her without her clothes, but as Jess circled the outer edge of her breasts with his
fingertips she fought the urge to pull her tank over her head and bare her breasts to his
hands. Her mouth had gone dry and she swallowed, licking her lips.

The sight of her tongue moistening her mouth was intoxicating, and Jess moaned, sliding
his arm around her back and pulling her mouth toward his. He clamped a hand against the
small of her back and pushed the swell of his erection against her, mirroring the rhythm
of his hips with his tongue. Rory went limp in his arms, parting her legs and meeting his
thrusts while tangling her tongue against his.

Jess let her go and backed away from her to lean against the kitchen cabinet. His lips
were swollen, his pupils large. "If I pick you up again, the next room over is your
bedroom. We should stop now."

Rory nodded and stared at him, smiling slightly.

Jess returned the smile. "So. We keeping secrets? "

"Yes. For a little while. Everyone else makes it messy."

"Don't feel guilty." His gaze was intense and her face heated.

"I think I'll feel guilty."

Jess pulled out a chair and sat on it, backwards, in front of her. He leaned his arms
against the chair back and looked up at her. "He's the jealous type. He'd be jealous no
matter what."

"Understatement." She reached out and played with his hair. "He thinks I'm cheating just
for talking to you."

Jess caught her hand and stroked it. "Do you want me not to talk to you in public until
you decide what you want?"

"No," Rory's voice was determined. "Being your friend has nothing to do with being his
girlfriend. He has to deal with that no matter what. Just treat me the same way you
always have."

"Maybe a little less flirting in public. Dean has a point—-we do want each other." He
smirked a little at her. " If we flirt in public while we're experimenting in private..."

"Right. I understand. Sparks. No need to send smoke signals." Rory blushed, but smiled.

Jess nodded. "In private, I'll do anything with you short of actual sex. I'm not taking your
virginity just to teach you what it feels like. And I'll tell you anything you want to know
about me, my life in New York, whatever. But if you haven't made a decision by a month
from now, I end this; my self-control is pretty impressive but I won't be able to do this
forever without getting frustrated. Okay?"

Rory nodded, still smiling, and Jess stood up. "I'd better get back to the diner now
before I give in and rip that top off you." He put the chair back under the table, shoving
his hands in his pockets. "Promise me you'll do what makes you happy, Rory. Promise
me you won't pick him because the town thinks he's better for you. That's all I ask."

"I promise."

Jess looked into her eyes for just a moment, then smiled. "Ciao, bella." He turned
toward the back door.

"Jess, wait!" Rory threw her arms around him and pressed her lips against his for just a
moment. She turned him around and gently pushed him out the door. "Go. Go, before I
do something I'll regret in the morning…"

And then he was gone, and she walked dazedly into her room, smiling. She stopped in the
middle of her room and the excitement got the better of her…