Thank you very much to those who read and reviewed the first one-shot I posted here. It was an unexpected surprise - considering I never really intended to write, let alone to receive reviews - and greatly appreciated.

Disclaimer: I own nothing.

Worth It All

Thank God for Ernest Hemingway. Those were five words Rory Gilmore never thought she'd even remotely consider. Yet that statement was responsible for her being here now, wide awake on a Sunday morning thanks to caffeine, while the person she held accountable for always reminding her of Hemingway brewed more coffee and made breakfast.

If it hadn't been for the twenty-first of July and a Twitter trend, Rory figures she would have taken even longer to finally realize that she still loves Jess (never stopped) and that they were meant to be together. It was on that July day that she drove to Philadelphia, turned up on his doorstep and told him everything, most of all her apology for the way she'd hurt him years ago. In the past months, they've been working on reestablishing their relationship. Somehow - and she's more than grateful that she hadn't ruined her chance with him once and for all five years ago - they were finally through avoiding their connection and running from each other.

"I feel like we wasted so much time," she sighs when he refills her coffee. He keeps her caffeinated and she loves him for it. For that and a million other reasons.

"This morning?" he smirks. "Hey, it's not my fault you can't keep your hands off me."

She laughs. "That goes both ways, mister," she teases before turning more serious. "But that's not what I meant. I meant this, us, being together. We wasted so much time being apart."

"We just took detours," he offers.

"A lot of them," she remarks ruefully.

"It happens," he shrugs in that way only Jess Mariano can. "But we're here now."

"We are," she agrees. "From stealing a yacht to dropping out of Yale and then eventually carving out a career to realizing that the one person missing from all that was the one I met when I was a teenager… I guess all that talk about growing up and finding yourself isn't that far off the mark."

"I still can't believe you committed a felony," he chuckles. "And you didn't start out by stealing something small, like a pen or a book, or even a car. Nope, you went straight for the yacht."

"Well, if you're going to do something, you might as well aim high." Grimacing, she adds, "I still can't believe I did that. You're dating a felon."

"I think I can handle it."

"Sure?"

"Yes."

"What about visits to Stars Hollow on a fairly regular basis?"

"Doable."

"I guess you must really love me," she smiles.

"That's right," he confirms, the calm way he says it making her smile broaden.

"I love you too, have I mentioned that?"

"Once or twice," he flashes that rare smile. "But I don't mind hearing it again."

One year later

"You stole my book again, Dodger!" She pretends to glare at him in an accusatory manner, failing miserably and smiling instead.

"Borrowed it," he corrects with a smirk. "Here, you can keep reading." He hands her the well-worn copy. "I'm gonna go get some work done," he explains, and she has to hold herself in check from smiling even more widely at this adult, more mature version of Jess.

"Okay, I'll see you in a bit." The book is already open again. He can't help but grin and strides over one more time before heading to the study. She looks at him quizzically and ends up more than pleased when he kisses her.

"What was that for?" she wonders softly and a bit breathlessly when they pull apart, pretty sure there's a goofy smile on her face.

"Just needed to kiss you," he shrugs, throwing in a smirk for good measure. That's the smirk she hasn't been able to resist since she first met him, and they both know it.

"I'm glad you did," she concedes before looking at him with a mock stern expression. "You better get to work now."

"As you wish," he jokes, leaving her to the final chapter in the book.

"And you wrote in the margins again," she murmurs to herself, turning to her favorite part - and stopping short.

After some moments of staring at the page, and his annotation, she snaps back into action. Racing through the apartment, past the freshly brewed coffee, she bursts into the study. It's a testament to how focused she is that the coffee doesn't even distract her from her mission.

"We have to talk!" she exclaims.

"Guess I'm taking a break already." Pausing his typing, he looks at her, knowing full well what this is about but not letting it on.

She stands in front of the desk, a determined look on her face.

"So you wanna tell me why you're dragging me away from work? Couldn't stay away?" He grins boyishly and is cut off by her flailing her arms, the book still in her hand.

"Okay, I'm assuming you remember what you wrote down in the margins and I also assume that you knew I'd read it. Not that I don't appreciate your writing in the marines, I always have and your insights are amazing. I love your annotations. But this is… I mean, I'm sure you know what you wrote. Which I guess means you're either joking or - or you're serious about it. I mean, I'm reading and then there's your handwriting, with a question, and it just says…" she takes a quick breath, interrupting her patented Gilmore ramble for a moment and then stops short at the look on his face. He's trying not to smirk but also looks… nervous? She's taken aback.

"Marry me?" he asks quietly, confirming that he'd been serious (as a heart attack) about the question.

Reaching into the pocket of his jeans, he pulls out a small velvet box, his eyes so sincere that Rory feels her heart skip a beat.

Instantly, she launches herself at him, wrapping her arms around him and kissing him. She's still gripping the book, and he's still holding the box as they pour everything they feel into that kiss.

Pulling back enough so they're nose to nose, he murmurs, "So, that's a yes?"

"Yes!" Her eyes bright, she beams. "It's a very definite, very resounding yes."

He smiles that rare smile of his once again and slips the ring on her finger. It's a perfect fit.