A/N: What's wrong with Rory? Read on and find out! :)
(For disclaimer, etc. - see chapter 1)
Rory woke up with an ache in her back and the most disgusting taste on her tongue. It took a few moments for her to remember what had happened, and a minute more to figure out where she was exactly. There had been running and puking, that was coming back to her in vivid Technicolor that she kind of wished she could get rid of, truth be told. She sat up very gingerly, knowing immediately she was in Mrs Rossini's apartment. It was just the one room like Jess' but filled with all kinds of knick-knacks and trinkets, stored up over way more years than Rory could count right now, since her head was still pretty dizzy.
"Oh, Rory, my dear," the little Italian woman herself exclaimed, the moment she realised her young friend was awake. "You gave me a fright, honey, don't you do that again!"
She looked different, Rory noticed, dressed in an oversized robe, with curlers in her hair. Even though she already knew Mrs Rossini had to be pretty aged, she looked older at such a ridiculous hour of the night, all ready for bed. Rory was keeping an old lady from a good night's sleep, that made her feel bad, but the moment she considered getting off the couch and leaving, her body put in a protest vote.
"Ugh," she groaned, closing her eyes again a moment. "I feel... weird," she said after a moment's blurry thought.
"And you don't look much better," Mrs Rossini told her plainly, bringing over a glass of water for her to sip. "Now, sip slowly," she advised her 'patient'. "No use gulping it down, that'll just make it come back for a return visit too soon."
"Thank you," said Rory politely as she took the glass and dutifully sipped the cool drink. "I'm so sorry about this, I don't know what's wrong with me," she said, taking another dainty taste of her water. "I mean, I felt kind of weird yesterday morning... and the one before now that I think about it," she considered. "Kind of sick, but not? It's hard to explain. Then today it was just so sudden and I had to rush to the bathroom. It was... not pretty," she admitted, swallowing hard as she thought about it. "I went back to the apartment, but the door had shut, and Jess is working all night, so I came here and then... and then..."
"And then you passed out right into my arms," Mrs Rossini supplied helpfully as she took a seat by Rory's feet at the end of the couch. "Lucky you're just a little thing and I come from good strong stock, or you would've flattened me!" she declared, showing no real sign of annoyance in spite of everything.
"I'm so sorry, Mrs R," said Rory, still trying to take slow sips of her water - it was getting a little easier all the time.
"Now, that's enough apologies. If you're sick, you're sick," she said arranging the blanket from the back of the couch over her young guest's knees. "Of course, you and I both know its not just some bug you're carrying around, don't we?" she practically winked before getting up and wandering away to the little kitchen area.
Rory frowned, hard. Of course she was sick from a bug. There was only that or food poisoning, and that seemed unlikely. Sure, she and Jess ate a lot of take-out, but always from the same couple of places where they'd had no problems before. Besides, Rory was like her mother, she pretty much had an iron gut. What other reason was there to feel sick, especially in the mornings...
"Oh my God!" Rory suddenly gasped, feeling all the more nauseous as a realisation hit her.
She was doing math in her head and failing miserably at it, despite the fact she wasn't trying to count higher than four. Four weeks ago. She had been here almost three, so before that. Her mind raced as she realised she could count back at least six, maybe even seven weeks before she hit the occasion she was looking for. That was long before sex with Jess. In fact, that was before sex with Dean.
"Oh, no!" she gasped, letting her face fall into her hands.
Mrs Rossini came hurrying back, grabbing up the young woman in her arms and hugging her tight. She rubbed Rory's back and tried to bring comfort, berating herself in muttered Italian for being so foolish. Of course, this wasn't planned. The poor girl was terrified and so confused, even though she had to know what making love could sometimes mean for a woman.
"Oh, passerotta, ti prego, non piangere," Mrs Rossini was saying, and though Rory had no idea what it meant, she guessed it was something kind, designed to make her stop from crying.
Unfortunately, that didn't come easy. Rory couldn't be pregnant, that was crazy, and yet it suddenly seemed like a likely explanation. They had been so careful, her and Jess. Her and Dean too, even though she would prefer not to even consider how he might factor into this situation. Jess was going to lose it as it was, Rory was sure of that. He said she could depend on him now and she believed him, but this was so much more than either of them had expected.
For now, Rory couldn't even consider what to tell Jess or how to go about it. All she could do was cry her heart out in the arms of a kind old lady who just wanted to help her. It was comforting, but honestly, all Rory wanted right now was her Mom.
"Lorelai?" Luke called from the front door.
He had got into the habit of letting himself into the Gilmore house when the door was unlocked, and Lorelai didn't seem to mind at all. Of course, she usually appeared before he got very far into the living room, and if she didn't jump out from some corner or seat, she usually yelled that she'd be right there. As it was there was nothing, not a movement or a sound, at least not at first.
"Lorelai, are you upstairs?" he yelled up that way but got no reply, then he heard the awful sound.
Nothing was more unbearable than a woman in tears. Luke remembered as a kid seeing his mother cry and hating every second of it until the sadness was over. As much as Liz drove him crazy, watching his sister break down always broke Luke's heart too. It was no different with Lorelai, or with Rory for that matter. He felt their pain and he hated it. He knew before he reached the door of Rory's bedroom that he would find his girlfriend in tears. Luke also knew he would have no clue what to say or do to make it better.
Lorelai looked up as the door opened wider. She was sat on the edge of the bed, clinging on tight to a sweater belonging to her daughter. Rory had taken some clothes with her, but there were plenty left behind, so many books and personal items. Luke had to think she was missing her own stuff, her own room, and more than anything her mother. Saying so wasn't going to help right now. He had no clue of anything he could ever say to make it better, so he didn't try. Luke sat down on the bed next to Lorelai and put his arms around her when she shifted her weight and leaned into him.
"She turned into me," she sobbed into Luke's plaid-covered chest. "I tried to stop it happening, but I couldn't, and now it's too late."
"Hey, if Rory has turned out anything like you, I call that a good thing," said Luke definitely as he hugged her tighter. "You are a smart, successful, compassionate, beautiful woman. Rory wanted to be like you, I'm pretty sure she still does," he said definitely, even as Lorelai made a noise akin to scoffing at the very idea. "Hey, I'm serious," he said definitely, moving her body and making her look at him. "Lorelai, she made a mistake with Dean and she knows it. She ran out because... I don't know, because she feels stupid, and like she let you down, like she let herself down too, I guess," he reasoned. "When she gets over it, she'll be back, you two will patch things up, and everything will be okay again."
Lorelai wanted to believe that, of course she did, but it didn't come easy. Rory was a lot like her, and that was okay for the most part. A coffee-addiction, a love of old movies and junk food, none of that was so bad. They had a similar sense of humour and could only be out-talked by one another, which was kind of great actually. Lorelai just didn't want Rory to have the teenage years that she went through, didn't want her to hook up with the wrong guy or feel the need to run out on those that loved her.
"I still screwed up," she sniffed hard, gratefully accepting the handkercheif Luke put into her hands then. "I handled it wrong, the whole Dean situation... Even before that with Jess," she admitted, sadly shaking her head. "The one thing she needed me to be cool about and... and I just screwed it all up," she said, her arm smacking hard into her leg with frustration.
"You didn't screw up, Lorelai," Luke assured her, rubbing her arm as he pulled her closer and her head settled on his shoulder. "Okay, so neither of us were much use with Rory and Jess, but things have been okay since then. Rory's a good kid, and like I said, she just made one mistake. Give it a week or two, she'll realise the only place she wants to be is home with her Mom."
"It's already been three weeks," said Lorelai softly. "Three weeks of missing my baby girl, and all I got from her was one lousy message on the answering machine."
"Well, that's better than nothing," her boyfriend reminded her. "At least we know she's safe and sound somewhere... or that she was. She still is," he corrected himself twice before he was happy with what he said.
He wasn't helping, Luke knew he couldn't before he ever came into the room, but he was trying and that was all there was to do right now. Honestly, Lorelai would have to admit that just his presence here was helping. The part Luke played in her life, being closer now like they probably always should've been, it was a huge comfort.
They sat in comfortable silence for a long time, and Luke's mind started to wander. He was worried about Rory too, of course he was, but this whole situation was also making him think about Jess. He hadn't heard from his nephew in a while now. Last he called him, the phone was out of service, so Luke was forced to wait until Jess got back to him, probably with a new number, maybe even a new address. It was that or go to New York and see if he was still in the same place, just sans telephone.
Now wasn't a good time to leave Stars Hollow, not even for a day or a part of one. Lorelai needed him close by as much as possible, and Luke was happy to be here. Whatever she needed, he would always be there, this much he promised her again now as he held her tight and kissed the top of her head. It was all he could do.
Rory was pretty sure she never felt this freaked out by anything in her whole life. Getting into Chilton, getting into college, her first time having sex, all things that ought to be a big deal suddenly paled into insignificance. She might be pregnant, carrying a child inside of her. Well, not quite a child yet, but a something, a being that was part her and part another person. She felt giddy and sick and so terribly mixed up, and all she wanted to do was talk this out with Jess already. She was back in his apartment now, thanks to Mrs Rossini. Apparently, Jess and Mrs R swapped emergency keys a while back. Rory had never been so grateful that her boyfriend had learnt to trust someone, anyone in this place.
It was six in the morning. Jess wouldn't be home for another hour and Rory had been pacing to the point where she was surprised there wasn't a groove in the floorboards already. Mrs Rossini didn't want her to come home by herself, but Rory had insisted. She needed to talk to Jess alone, and it was okay, because she was feeling better. That's what she told the kindly neighbour that had really helped her out. The truth was, she didn't feel great. Not so much with the needing to throw up or pass out, but certainly not well at all. Some of it was probably still the supposed morning sickness, the rest she assumed was blind panic.
Rory checked her watch again. Barely five minutes had passed, that meant it was still almost an hour before Jess got back from Wal-Mart. There was no way she could keep on pacing and worrying that long. Rory would go nuts if she was forced to. She reached for her jacket and pulled it on, slipping her feet into her shoes too. She stopped then, considering her actions. Jess hated the idea of her being out alone, especially in the dark. The sun was up, it was well past dawn, he couldn't be too mad at her for heading out by herself. After all, she was headed towards him, that had to make it okay. Rory was still rationalising as she hurried down the stairs as fast as she dare go.
Jess had taken her to Wal-Mart a few times, to enjoy the privileges of the staff discount and pick out a few things she needed. The luggage she brought with her, some clothes and essentials, they only lasted so long. She was missing stuff she needed. It was only just now occurring to Rory that the feminine hygiene products she had surreptitiously bought remained unopened and untouched amongst her things at the apartment. Now she needed the drugstore area of Wal-Mart again, this time for a test to see if she really was pregnant.
Rory was in sight of the store when she realised what a bad idea this was. If she went inside, she wouldn't find Jess. He worked out back, driving the forklift like he had back home in Stars Hollow. She could wander around the store, maybe buy that pregnancy test she was thinking about, but that was all. I'm such an idiot, Rory thought to herself, now not knowing whether she was literally coming or going, or what she was meant to do next.
After five minutes of inner turmoil and arguing with herself, Rory trudged into the store with her arms folded across her chest. She looked left and right, figuring out her way and then headed in the general direction of the pharmaceuticals. She would look for what she needed, get the thing bought and hide it in her pocket. Then she could just hang out until she knew Jess would be done with work and position herself near the staff exit to meet him. He would wonder why she was here, and Rory wasn't sure yet exactly what she would tell him. Some variation on the truth, but not the whole of it until they got home. Maybe not even then. Maybe it was better to take the test first. No point freaking him out when there might be nothing to freak out over.
These thoughts circled around and around in her head the whole time she was in Wal-Mart and even more so when she was waiting by the door for Jess to emerge. When he finally stepped out into the store proper and saw her there, a mixture of emotions crossed his face. He seemed happy to see her and yet concerned that she had come too. Rory tried to smile back at him when he greeted her, but almost immediately the panic rose in her throat and tears came to her eyes.
"I might be pregnant," she blurted out right there in the middle of Wal-Mart. "Jess, I... What are we going to do?"
To Be Continued...