SUMMARY: Tristan POV. The first rehearsal in Run Away, Little Boy. The one we didn't get to see.
RATING: PG for mild kissage
SPOILERS: Run Away, Little Boy. And a really minor one for Rory's Dance.
DISCLAIMER: Gilmore Girls isn't mine. Amy Sherman-Pallidino and the WB seem to have worked out a custody agreement between them that doesn't include me.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This is cause we didn't get our kiss. :)

With a Kiss

by Rebecca Carefoot

Paris is screaming again. I'm surprised she hasn't lost her voice. I don't think she's even capable of not screaming. Not even if she wanted to. And there's this cord on her neck that's bulging out, straining with the force of her anger. Louise sighs, and cuts Paris off by stalking off to the side of the room to try her entrance again. She struts back onstage, her breasts thrust out, her hips swiveling from side to side like a metronome. Paris starts yelling again about how she's playing a priest not a whore, and does she think she could make it through a scene without licking her lips like that. And I want to laugh, but I'm so tired.

I close my eyes just for a second, their voices pounding against my skull. And I think about this thing Duncan and Bowman have planned for the weekend. How they want me to break into this safe with them. And they want to use the money to fly to Vegas or buy some cocaine or a hooker, or maybe all three. And I know I'm going to say yes. And I know I'm going to go through with it, even though I've never even done cocaine, and I sure as hell haven't had to pay for sex. I could fly us all to Las Vegas on my Visa. But I'm going to say yes. I don't want the money, but I have to do this. I can't explain it, so I don't try. I just know.

A hand shakes me, and Paris is there, her jaw clenched. I realize my cue is long gone, and I'm supposed to be buying poison from Louise. I mutter through the lines, and try to hear over the pounding in my head.

I wish my beeper would go off so I'd have the excuse to leave. I don't want to see Duncan or Bowman, but at least I could get out of this place, this stupid repetitive droning practice, this hyperactive concern over the project I don't give a damn about. This project IS Chilton, constant, tiring, repeating, pressure. Grinding and grinding until there's nothing left of you but a sanded smooth little nub. And I could not care less.

Paris is yelling at me, and Madeline is saying something to her, and it just keeps getting louder and I can't hear any words, and I think I'm going to scream.

Rory's sitting against the wall, rereading a part of the play. Mouthing the words to herself, her brow just slightly furrowed as she tries to commit a particularly tricky phrase to memory. I watch her and a wave of calm breaks over me. Separate from the yelling and the practice and the stupid things I'm going to do this weekend. I almost want to smile, but she looks up and her eyes are distant, sliding right past me, through me. So I don't.

She looks over at something Paris says, and I guess it's time for our scene. The rest of the practice fades from my memory, the rest of the play doesn't even exist for me, but that scene is suddenly crystal clear in my mind. Like it's printed in black and white behind my eyelids.

Rory lies down on the crate we're using for a tomb. She closes her eyes, and crosses her hands over her chest. Paris starts to say something about some article she gave me on acting and my motivation, but I wave her aside.

"Just let me do the scene," I snap, and she backs off.

I approach Rory, and I can hear my heart beat in the quiet. It thunders in my ears, echoing so loud I think they must all hear it, but I know they don't. I feel clear for the first time today, everything somehow brighter, in focus. My heart is beating hard, hard enough that it hurts each time it thumps, and I try not to wince. I feel myself saying the words of the play before I hear them. And the words come so easily. Sliding without hesitation into the air, without effort. They are tinged with emotion, almost glittering in the air over Rory. I lean over her, hunching next to her, and I look at her face. Her eyes are still closed, but she couldn't look less dead. She's vibrant, and my breathing is just a little ragged. I duck my head over my empty hand, the hand that's pretending to hold a vial of poison because we don't have all our props yet.

She's waiting with her eyes closed for me to continue, but I see her nose twitch slightly, her mouth twisting at the sudden silence as I choke on the words. She fidgets a little, wondering what's going on, anxious in the dark of her voluntary blindness. Her chest rises and falls, her breathing a little too fast. I touch her cheek. Her eyelids flutter, almost popping open. Her breath catches, and I can see her uneasiness growing. My fingers only linger for a moment against her skin before I pretend to swallow the poison.

"Oh, true apothecary," I say quietly.

"No," Paris breaks in, her voice strident. "You should say it with more passion. You're about to die. Try to muster a little-"

"Thy drugs are quick," I continue, not really hearing her. All I can hear is my heart. The only other person in the room is Rory.

"Thus with a kiss," I say, and lean forward, my body screaming with tension as it remembers another kiss, as it begs to press against her warmth. I want to pull her up, press her against me so tight she can't get away. I want her eyes to pop open, and reveal the blue that haunts me, traps me. I want to crush my lips to hers. I want my tongue inside her. I want my hands on her body. I want...

I touch my lips to hers, quiet, closed. Just for a moment. Chaste. Clean. Kind. Things I'll never be.

I close my eyes as our lips touch, and her mouth is as soft as I remembered. I want it. I want to taste her. Deep. I pull back instead, and open my eyes. Her eyes are still closed, her lips falling open just slightly, and I have to clench my fists to keep from touching her. Her eyelids flutter between closed and open.

And then she looks at me, and her eyes are soft. Like I remember them being once, when she had her hands linked behind her boyfriend's neck, and her hair twisted up with baby's breath studding it like diamonds. I don't know what it means. And it scares me.

"I die," I whisper the rest of the line. I blink, sit all the way up with a jerk.

I look at Paris. "Not great, huh?" I say, as casual as I can. "Maybe we should do it again, but with more tongue." The words are smooth and slippery in my mouth, and a leer comes automatically to my face.

When I look at Rory again her eyes are hard, cold, familiar. And it feels like loss, and loneliness. And it feels safe.

My beeper goes off, and I look even though I already know who it is. I leave without saying good-bye, and I try not to think about soft lips or blue eyes or feathery eyelashes resting on the smooth slope of a beautiful cheek. Or Chilton or my cold empty room or the look in my dad's eyes the last time I got suspended.

I try not to think at all.

It's easier this way.