A/N: A few people said they would happily read a sequel to The Blame Game and I felt like writing it, so here it is. If you didn't read that one but you stumbled upon this, it'll probably make more sense if you go and read the first one first, obviously ;) Oh, and if anyone knows of a fic that is a little like this one in style, could you let me know? I'm sure I read something similar quite a while ago but for the life of me I can't find it now, and I'd love to give props to the author for inspiring me with this story :)
(Disclaimer: All recognisable characters and any recognisable dialogue from Gilmore Girls belong to Amy Sherman-Palladino and other people that aren't me)
Parting at the airport was kind of a cliché. Rory had said she didn't mind if Jess wanted to stay behind and not see her off right at the gate, but cajoling by Luke, and even by Lorelai, made Jess realise that Rory was lying to him. She meant well, she didn't want to seem like a clingy girlfriend type so soon after they officially started dating. Either that, or she was worried about making a fool of herself and crying all over him. Honestly, Jess felt he could cope with both those thing right now if he must. In his heart, he didn't want her to go. He finally had Rory Gilmore for a girlfriend, which was precisely what he wanted pretty much from the first day they met. Now they were together, the Summer was just beginning and she was going away for six weeks.
"I'm going to miss you so much," she complained from the circle of Jess' arms. "I'm going to miss everybody and everything. Tell me again why I have to go away?"
"Because you're brilliant and those people in Washington need to learn that," he told her definitely, tucking her hair behind her ear. "Personally, I already know how great you are, and what kind of person would I be to keep all of your greatness to myself?"
Rory smiled a genuine wide smile at those words. Jess said some truly beautiful things to her sometimes, almost always well out of the way of anyone else's earshot. Though Lorelai was trying to be nicer about Jess, Rory was sure the process would come a whole lot easier to her if she heard him saying things like this, but she never did.
The announcer called for those on the flight to Washington to get to the gate already. Rory's smile faded some. She was looking forward to going in a way, to meeting senators and congress people, learning so very much. Sure, it meant sharing a room with Paris, but that seemed like a small price to pay. The larger price was leaving Stars Hollow behind, her mother, Luke, Lane, and her new boyfriend, Jess.
"I'll call when I can, and write all the time," she promised him faithfully.
"I'll write back," he nodded his agreement, before planting a kiss on her lips. "Forty two days," he whispered.
"Only forty two days," she echoed with a brave smile.
They parted then and Rory said goodbye to Luke and finally Lorelai, hugging her tighter than anything as her mother wished her luck and told her to stay safe. With that, little Rory Gilmore walked down towards the gate, dragging her luggage with her. She turned back just once, with tears in her eyes, to wave to those who had come to see her off. Jess swallowed hard as he waved back and watched her disappear from view.
"She'll be back before you know it," said Luke, slapping his nephew on the back.
"I know that," replied Jess, rolling his eyes, trying to be fine.
Honestly, he hated this as much as Rory seemed to. Being parted from her so soon was a real blow, but they were young and they had all the time in the world. They would keep in touch and in just six weeks she would be back again. They would still have a little of the Summer left to spend together before school started up again, and nothing would tear them apart.
"It's going to be so weird without her around," said Lorelai with a heavy sigh, still staring off in the direction Rory had gone. "I know I have to get used to it. Before you know it she'll be going to college, but... Oh, what is wrong with me?" she asked frustratedly, scrubbing at her cheeks as tears made her mascara run.
"There's nothing wrong with you," Luke assured her, putting a hand to her shoulder. "You're a mother who loves her daughter and has never really been away from her, but she'll be fine. Rory's a good girl, sensible and smart. You raised her right, Lorelai, she will be just fine," he promised her.
A smile broke through her tears as Lorelai looked at him and nodded her head. He was perfectly right, as Luke so often was, and she was grateful for him being here like this.
"I think I need coffee," she declared then, turning to leave with Luke and Jess.
"Didn't see that coming," the two guys chorused together.
Lorelai laughed long and loud as the pair looked aghast at each other, just a little freaked out by what just happened. Sometimes they were way more similar than they thought. It had taken a while for Lorelai to see the good in Jess but day by day things were improving. He certainly went up in her estimations for convincing Rory she should go on her trip to Washington for this junior leadership program. It would be good for her, for her education and the whole life experience thing. Lorelai also knew she had to get used to Rory being away, and figured if she could handle these six weeks, maybe she really would be okay with her baby girl going off to Harvard in a little over a year's time. Somehow forty two days seemed like forever right now, and looking across at Jess as they cleared the doors out of the airport, Lorelai knew she wasn't the only one thinking so.
Rory sat down at the desk in the room she was sharing with Paris and picked up her pen ready to write. She already missed Jess, as well as her mom, Luke, Lane, and Stars Hollow in general. It was so strange to be away from everybody and everything she knew, but she had brought little pieces of home with her and that helped. She spoke to Lorelai after she arrived, a quick phone call just to let her know she had arrived safely in Washington. Now she wanted to let Jess know how things were going, and thank him for an unexpected gift too.
First of all, you are just the sneakiest person on the planet! How did you get that book in my hand-luggage? Did you have Mom's help? She swears she knew nothing about it and I can't see why she wouldn't take credit if she was part of the surprise, so it had to be you being sneaky all on your own. You're such a hoodlum still! Thank you though, for the perfect gift. The plane ride was over so fast thanks to my beautifully annotated copy of Oliver Twist. I didn't manage to read it all yet, obviously, but I plan to make time. Every time I miss you, I can flip through the pages and feel closer. Does that sound too sappy? I'm sorry, I know you usually hate that kind of thing, but the truth is that I'm already homesick, and missing you like crazy. I can just picture you reading this and smirking because you're getting a fat head about me missing you. Right now I honestly don't care.
So I guess I should tell you about how things are here. As you know I'm sharing a room with Paris which is, well, interesting would be a good word, I guess. She is the reason I won't be making too many calls to you in the next forty days. Paris is very particular about her sleep patterns so by the time you would be in the apartment and able to answer my call, I'll probably be banned from actually talking at all. Sorry about that, but at least we can write and hopefully on the weekends I'll be able to call without causing a total mental breakdown of my room-mate.
Please don't take too long in writing back with all the news from town. I want to hear it all, no matter how dumb it seems. Something must be happening in Stars Hollow, because there is always tales to tell. What job is Kirk doing this week? What's Taylor's latest scheme or rant about? You better keep me informed, Mariano, or there'll be trouble!
Well, I should really go. Right now I should be getting ready for dinner, but I just had to write to you first, it was more important.
Jess re-read Rory's letter over again and smiled. It was actually kind of cool that she missed him, even if he wasn't entirely sure that would last. She was off on an adventure in Washington, something educational that he would probably find boring himself but that his girlfriend had to be super-psyched to attend if she were truthful. Meanwhile, he was kicking his heels in the Hollow, a place where nothing truly interesting ever happened, unless of course somebody made it happen. Jess forced the wicked smirk off his lips and got up from the edge of the bed to go look for a pen and paper. He could pull all kinds of stunts this Summer, it was probably expected of him, by Rory most especially. She had referred to him by his formal town hoodlum title in her letter, after all. Still, if Luke or Lorelai caught him out pulling some prank, no matter how funny they agreed it was, it'd be his ass on the line again. As sorely as he was tempted, it actually occurred to Jess to weigh up his options these days and decide if a prank was truly worth the trouble it would cause. For now, he had been pretty well behaved, but six weeks of Rory deprivation might spur him into unruly behaviour yet, such he decided he would tell her as he began his letter.
Aren't we just a pair of traditionalists, keeping the art of letter writing alive? Your friend Miss Austen would be so proud! I totally understand about the lack of phone calls. Paris is a real nut and if you're going to be sharing a room this whole time, it's probably safer not to piss her off. She already has the access to kill you in your sleep, best not to give her a motive too.
You're welcome for the book, by the way. I figured I don't need two copies and maybe I like the fact you took a little piece of me away with you to Washington. Yes, I can be sappy too, but if you tell anybody that, it's your funeral, Gilmore. That said, I will admit this place is not the same without you. Stars Hollow is my favourite place in the world for precisely one reason, and she left for Washington six days ago.
News from town. Yeah, really not as much to tell as you might think. Kirk is helping out in the beauty supply store, at least that's what your mom said when she was whining to Luke about being over-charged for some shampoo or nail polish or something. Sorry, I zone out when she talks sometimes. A thousand words a minute is fine, but when the topic is beauty supplies, you can imagine how fast I switched off. The freakiest part is that Luke seemed to actually be listening, replying like he had a clue, and caring about the whole thing. I guess it's not all that surprising since it's Lorelai, but still.
Speaking of Luke, I'm trying to convince him to get a snow cone machine installed at the diner. The weather is warming up and over the whole of the Summer he'd probably make a killing. Besides, free access to slushies works for me too. I don't know if he'll go for it, you know how he can be with money sometimes, but maybe I'll grind him down eventually.
You done with Oliver Twist yet? I imagine you're three books down the line from that by now given the speed you read. I'm revisiting Hemingway while you're gone, so I won't bore you with any insights that you wouldn't appreciate. Poor Ernest, he still has only lovely things to say about you.
I have to go now, another shift in the diner beckons, and Luke will only start yelling if my 'ass isn't in gear' on time.
Stay out of trouble and don't run off with any wannabe Senators, okay?
To Be Continued...