A/N: This idea just came to me a while back. AU Jess never came to Stars Hollow, but Rory moved to New York. Happens some time before Jess would have gotten there, but Rory and Dean were still together. Literati starting second chapter. Please read, review, and enjoy!
**Disclaimer: I own a Discman, a shelf full of books, and this laptop. I don't own anything related to this show. And even if you do sue me, all you're getting is the Discman and the books because there's no way in hell you're getting my laptop.**
A Whole New World
by Angel Monroe
Chapter 1: A Whole New World
Rory stepped off the bus into her new world. She glanced at her surroundings and cringed a little. It wasn't as if she had never been to Manhattan before. She and her mother had seen a concert here a while back. She had been to the city, but that didn't mean she wanted to live there.
She looked around for the person she was supposed to meet. 'What did she look like the last time I saw her?' she tried to remember. 'Short brown hair, green eyes, medium height, wide smile…' Rory ticked off the description in her head as she looked for someone who matched. Finally, she set her eyes on a gentle-looking woman in her late thirties-early forties. The woman was smiling warmly and Rory knew she had found the right person.
"Aunt Grace?" she asked walking up to her with her suitcase in tow.
"Rory?" Grace greeted her with a smile in return. There was a moment of slight discomfort before the two embraced.
"How are you?" Rory asked her as they began to walk down the street. "I haven't seen you since I was…"
"Six," Grace finished. "You and your mother came to visit when I bought the apartment, and that was the last I saw of either of you."
"Sorry about that," Rory apologized. "We would have stopped by when we were in town for a concert, but there was a thing with my friends and pointy-haired college boys and my mother knocking on every door in the apartment building, and there just wasn't any time. And we were here for dinner a few weeks ago but . . ." She trailed off, looking down at her shoes for something to concentrate on.
"I guess I can forgive you this time," Grace joked, but then her face fell. "I just wish you could be here this time under happier circumstances."
Rory looked down at her hands. She really wished the same thing. Her mother was only 33 years old. She wasn't supposed to get sick like she was. She wasn't supposed to be dying. She thought about the first time Lorelai had told her the news.
***Flashback: Three Weeks Earlier***
"Mom," Rory called from the front door, "I'm home."
When she was greeted with silence, she assumed her mom was still at work and went into her room. Dropping her heavy backpack by her desk, she slumped down on her bed. It had been a long day. She had had two tests and an English essay due. Plus, she had to deal with the constant annoyance of Paris and the rest of the Chiltonites. Thank the heavens, it would be over in only one more week.
As she lay there with her eyes closed, wishing for the week to be over, she heard a light knock on the open door. She opened her eyes to see her mother standing in the doorway. She lacked her usual gusto and looked tired around her eyes, sad even. Upon closer inspection, Rory could see that Lorelai had been crying.
"What is it?" she asked sitting up. "What's wrong?"
Lorelai forced a tired smile. "It's not important right now," she answered obviously fighting to keep her voice casual. "Get dressed in your favorite formalwear. You and I are going out on the town tonight."
"Okay," Roy replied standing. "What's the occasion?"
"I just want to celebrate," Lorelai answered a little too somberly for the statement.
"Okay," Rory relented still unsure about the situation. What was Lorelai keeping from her? Why did she look so sad? Nonetheless, she changed into her favorite little black dress and she and her mother headed out to a fancy restaurant in Manhattan.
The two girls sat down as the hostess led them to a table in the corner. She set down menus in front of them and left them to their own devices.
Lorelai seemed to be in a better mood now, cracking jokes and witticisms like her old self again. She almost had Rory believing that everything was fine. Almost.
"So what's wrong, Mom?" Rory said out of the blue as they both searched over the menu. "I know you're hiding something from me, and you know that I hate that."
"I don't want to discuss it right now," Lorelai replied seriously, never taking her eyes from the food listing.
"Please, Mom," Rory pushed. "I can see how sad you are. You look like you're going to cry, like you have been crying."
"Drop it," Lorelai warned, her voice holding a little edge.
"Dammit Rory!" she cried a little too loudly and a little harsher than she'd meant. She slammed the menu down on the table making the silverware and glasses jingle together. "I am not going to discuss this with you right now! I took you out here tonight to have a pleasant night and enjoy myself. I do not want to talk about this right now, understand?"
"Fine," Rory replied aggravated.
There was a long moment of tense silence before the waitress came over and took their orders. Then the two of them sat rigid and quiet until the food came about twenty minutes later. Once they had their food to concentrate on and coffee in their cups, the moment eased a little.
"So how do you like the city?" Lorelai asked her daughter between forkfuls of fettuccini.
"I've seen before," she replied obviously still a little agitated.
"Yes," Lorelai admitted, "but do you like it here?"
"Yeah, sure," Rory answered, her voice a little less hostile. "It's okay."
Lorelai took a deep breath, obviously weighing her next statement. "How would you like to live here?" she asked with false indifference.
"What?" Rory looked up, not really believing what had just come from her mother's mouth.
"Live here," Lorelai repeated. "What do you think?"
"This is what we're celebrating?" Rory asked a little taken aback. "We're moving to New York?"
"No," Lorelai said slowly, "we're celebrating that you're moving to New York."
"Come again," Rory said confused. "What do you mean I'm moving to New York? What about you?"
"I'm not moving to New York," she replied looking down as she twirled a piece of pasta over and over with her fork. "You're moving in with your Aunt Grace and cousin John."
"Aunt Grace?" Rory was almost crying now. 'Why is she sending me away?' she asked herself. 'What'd I do?' "But why?" she asked her mother.
"I need you to calm down," Lorelai tried to sooth her daughter.
"No!" Rory protested. "I need to know why you're sending me to New York. What are you keeping from me?"
"I'm dying!" Lorelai blurted out.
There was a pregnant pause while this information sunk in with Rory and the many restaurant patrons who had been following their heated conversation.
"You're what?" Rory asked praying that she had dreamed or misheard the last thing her mother had said as tear formed behind her eyes.
"I have cancer," Lorelai replied, her voice shaking slightly. "Breast cancer to be exact."
"How come I didn't know about this?" Rory demanded in disbelief. "How long have you known?"
"I went for some tests about a week ago because the OBGYN said she found something weird last month. She called me late this morning with the results."
"But what about treatments?" Rory asked franticly. "What about chemotherapy or radiation or . . . I don't know . . . something?"
"The doctor said it's worth a try," Lorelai explained, "but that's why you have to live with your aunt for a while. It's a very rare form of the disease and can't be treated with normal procedures. There's a guy in London that specializes in this and I have to go there for a while for treatment."
"Then I'm coming with you," Rory asserted.
"No, baby, you're not," Lorelai said seriously. "I may be in bad shape a lot of the time and I will not have you watch me deteriorate. You are my life and I will not ruin yours because of it."
"But—" Rory tried to object.
"That's final young lady," Lorelai put her foot down. "Now you do have two choices and two choices only, but I already know your answer. You can either live with your Aunt Grace who, may I say, is a wonderful woman single-handedly raising a teenager of her own, or you can live in Hartford with your grandparents and turn out like me."
"Aunt Grace it is," Rory replied glumly.
"So how was the bus ride?" Grace asked her, pulling her out of the trance she was in.
"It was fine," Rory answered noncommittally as she looked around at the scenery as she walked. It was a lot different than the movies made it seem. It wasn't nearly as dirty or sinister. She had been to the Bangles concert in the city, but they had hardly stopped to scope out the place. What she saw here looked like a pretty decent place to live.
They stopped in front of a large apartment complex, and Grace took out her keys and let them in through the front doors. They walked with Rory's bags into one of those old fashioned-looking elevators. They pulled the door shut and went up to the third floor. Stepping off, they were confronted by the smell of ethnic food and the sound of television sets coming from various apartments at the same time.
"The walls are a little thin here," Grace explained. "You get used to it."
Rory followed her to the door that read 316 and walked into the small, three bedroom apartment. She looked around at the cozy living room and quaint little kitchen, and all of a sudden size didn't matter in the least. This was a home; she could tell.
"I'm so glad you could stay here with John and me," Grace said enthusiastically leading her down a short hallway to a room with a desk, a computer, and a few bookshelves. "For the time being, you'll have to stay in the study on an air mattress, but we can fix that pretty easily. The room was sold to us as a bedroom, but we converted it into a study since it was only us two. All we have to do is revert it back."
"Oh, the study will be fine," Rory replied quickly. She ran her fingers over the classic book titles on one of the shelves. She liked this room. It reminded her of her own room back in Stars Hollow. "Can I borrow some of these books?" she asked turning to Grace.
"Anything in this room you can use," Grace told her, "though you already have your own laptop, right?"
"Right," Rory replied pointing to a laptop case she'd put down by the door.
"Good," Grace said. "Then I can move this one into John's room. He's obsessed with his e-mail."
Rory smiled shyly. 'I think I might like it here,' she thought.