One Year Later
"And do you know what she did next? She yelled at me!" Jess exclaimed. "Now, I know that must be hard to believe, but it happened. She got that look on her face- you know the one- and she started in on me about how crazy I was and how she was absolutely appalled that I could say such a thing."
"Are you turning my daughter against me again?" Rory demanded, leaning against the nursery doorway with her arms crossed.
"I'm not," he shook his head. "I'm telling her a story. Right?"
He looked to the small baby on the changing table for help, only to receive a face full of spit.
"Kid, we talked about this," he scolded. "You're supposed to take my side on these things."
"Why would she do that, when she knows I'm right?" she pushed him out of the way and picked the baby up from the table, giving her a quick snuggle. "She's very smart, you know."
"Of course she is, she's my daughter," Jess nodded.
"Honey, she's smart in spite of that," Rory wrinkled her nose. "Now, come on. There's someone here who wants to meet you."
She'd had a nagging feeling that something was off for weeks, but had convinced herself that she was being crazy, it was just nerves. They were in the middle of opening a new branch of Truncheon in Hartford and she had decided to leave Bluestocking and focus on that, it was a lot to deal with.
Her convictions were wavering, though. Her nightmares, which had subsided in the months since her grandfather's death, had returned a month or so before and while she had put it off as wedding nerves, the fact that they weren't subsiding gave her pause. They were nowhere near as bad as they had been before- they had barely even been nightmares, but they hadn't failed to make her sick every time. Now she was pretty sure the nausea was from something completely different.
She had been thinking about it all day- all week, really- going over all the possibilities and alternate reasons for her symptoms. Much to her dismay, however, she was left with only one viable option, which she had come to terms with while sitting on the bathroom floor that afternoon- pregnancy.
Which was why, at two in the morning, she got out of bed and snuck into the bathroom to pee on a stick.
She felt bad not including Jess, but she needed to wrap her own head around this before she told anyone else- even her husband.
At least, that was what she thought. In the five minutes she spent waiting for the results, she changed her mind.
"Jess," she shook his shoulder. "Jess, wake up."
He groaned and pulled a pillow over his head.
"I need you."
"What's wrong?" he pulled the pillow off and looked up groggily. "Did you have another nightmare?"
"No," she shook her head. "I just... I need you to come here."
"It's two in the morning," Jess looked at the clock. "What's going on?"
"Just come!" Rory huffed and pulled at his hand.
"Okay, okay," he groaned, letting her take his hand and lead him to the bathroom. "What are we doing?"
"For that," she pointed to the pregnancy test on the counter and watched as Jess's eyes grew to the size of saucers.
"I don't know. That's why we're waiting."
"But- why- what?!"
"I didn't want to tell you until I knew," Rory tried to explain. "I thought I would need more time to process, but then I got really scared sitting here by myself so I woke you up. Sorry."
"Don't be sorry," Jess laughed.
"I figured it out the other day," she continued. "I was getting a lot of nightmares again and they were making me sick, but they shouldn't have been because they weren't that bad. And then I realized that I've been feeling sick a lot more than just after the nightmares, and I had attributed it to the nightmares and stress from the new store, but I've been thinking about it a lot and I don't think that has anything to do with why I'm sick and now here we are."
Jess frowned and tried to work his way through her babbling explanation, nodding slowly.
"So you've been working this out for a couple days?" he confirmed.
"Okay, we need a new rule when it comes to suspected pregnancies."
"You want me to tell you?" Rory guessed, biting her lip.
"I want you to tell me," Jess huffed.
"Sorry," she looked down at the floor.
He laughed and pulled her into his arms. "I know I say this a lot, but what am I going to do with you?"
"Well, it looks like you're going to watch me have your baby."
"What!?" he held her at arms length, a bewildered smile on his face.
"Look," she laughed and pointed to the test on the counter which now read 'Pregnant'.
"We're going to have a baby!" he gaped at the test, then his wife, then back to the test.
"We're going to have a baby!" Rory agreed, a giddy smile on her face.
"We're going to have a baby!" Jess pulled her into a hug, lifting her off her feet and spinning her in a circle- a difficult feat in a bathroom that was barely bigger than a refrigerator box.
"Ow!" Rory laughed when her hip hit the counter.
"Sorry," Jess set her down and pulled her out of the bathroom. "God, a baby!?"
"A baby," she agreed..
"Oh, she's beautiful!" Mia gushed as Rory placed the small bundle in her arms. "Look at her perfect little fingers."
"Wait till you see her eyes," Jess smiled. "They're all Rory."
"There's a little bit of you in there too," Rory laughed.
"She's a perfect mix of the both of you," Mia smiled. "She's just so lovely and petite!"
"You didn't have to push her out," Rory scoffed. "Petite isn't exactly the phrase I would use."
"Rory," Jess groaned, but Mia simply laughed.
"How's she been sleeping?"
"What's that?" Rory joked.
"Ah, well, it will get better."
"People keep saying that," Rory frowned. "But I think you're lying. I think that's just a clever excuse made up by men to make sure women keep having babies."
"It's been a while since she's slept more than a couple hours," Jess explained.
"Not that you'd be able to tell now," Rory glared at her daughter, who slept happily in Mia's arms. "She's a perfect little angel when there are witnesses."
"So were you," Mia chuckled. "I can remember your mother pacing up and down the kitchen and across the lawn with you for hours at a time. You should have heard the things that came out of her mouth sometimes."
"Oh, I did. I'm assuming they were similar to the things she used to say when I was older and woke her up in the mornings or didn't want to go to bed."
"I once heard her try to bribe you with a bottle of tequila, and threaten to toss you out a window in the next second."
"Sounds about right," Jess nodded. "Although these days you'd probably take the tequila."
"Oh, God!" Rory groaned. "I miss tequila!"
Mia laughed and turned her focus back to the baby.
"I think you'd be a lovely trade off for tequila," she cooed at the baby. "You're absolutely perfect."
"We're pretty sure she's using her perfection for evil instead of good, though," Jess frowned.
"Which shouldn't be a surprise, since she was an absolute demon in the womb," Rory nodded.
"Jess," Rory whispered. "Jess."
It was barely three in the morning and he was sound asleep. Rory would have loved to have been asleep, but the child of Satan she was carrying seemed to have other ideas, and she wasn't about to suffer alone.
"Jess," she raised her voice slightly and poked his shoulder, which only resulted in his emitting a low groan and rolling over.
"Jess!" she leaned over and yelled in his ear.
"Ah!" he jolted awake, hand to his heart. "What!?"
"It won't stop kicking me!" she cried.
"What won't stop kicking you?" he asked, eyes barely open.
"The monster under the bed," Rory said sarcastically. "What do you think!?"
"Right, sorry," he sighed and sat up. "What do you want me to do about it?"
"Make it stop!"
"I don't know!" Rory cried. "I've poked it, I've scolded it, I've threatened it. It's the fucking spawn of Satan!"
"Maybe she just doesn't appreciate being called 'it'?" Jess suggested.
"Does it look like I'm in the mood for your jokes?" she snarled.
"Not in the least," he shook his head, then leaned down and started to talk to her stomach. "Hey, kid, it's your dad. Could you please stop kicking Mommy? She's getting kind of crazy, and you and I both know she's already got more than enough of that going on."
Not finding this comment at all funny, Rory flicked him in the ear.
"Ow! Okay, sorry. Seriously, though, kid. You've got to let Mommy sleep," he spoke to her protruding stomach again. "If you don't, she's going to end up giving you an awful name just to get revenge."
"It's working," Rory laid down and closed her eyes. "Keep talking."
With a tired groan, Jess reached for his phone and quickly downloaded a book to read to his unborn child.
"Mr. And Mrs. Dursley, of number four Privet Drive were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much..."
"Give her here," Rory smiled when the baby started to cry. "She probably needs a feed."
"Oh, alright," Mia grumbled, handing the baby back. "I'm going to use the rest room."
"Right around the corner," Jess directed her. "First door on the left."
Rory waited until the older woman had rounded the corner before settling into her armchair and pulling down her shirt, covering herself with a blanket once the baby had latched.
"Really, you think Mia is going to care?" Jess frowned.
"Probably not, but that doesn't mean I'm just going to let my boobs hang out for the world to see."
"We're the only ones here, you prude."
"I'm sorry, you think I'm a prude?" Rory raised an eyebrow.
"That's what I said."
"What deluded world are you living in?" she scoffed. "I'm about fifty miles from prudish, and the creation of the child currently attached to my chest should be proof enough of that."
"If I recall correctly," Jess argued, "Lyla was created after an ill-advised celebration that included an entire bottle of tequila."
"If I recall correctly, alcohol isn't exactly known to reel me in," Rory shot back.
Before Jess could think of another suitable argument, Mia returned and put an end to the conversation.
"Where did you say we were going for dinner?" she asked.
"We're taking you for authentic Philly cheese steaks," Rory grinned.
"Oh good!" she clapped her hands together. "That was on my list of things to try while I was here, but I had no idea where I should go."
"It's always best to defer to the locals in these situations," Jess nodded.
"Oh, do you want to see the pictures from the hospital?" Rory asked excitedly. "I don't think I sent them to you."
"No," Mia shook her head.
"I'll grab them," Jess retrieved a photo album and passed it to her. "Liz had them all printed up."
"Oh, that's s nice. Too many people keep everything on electronics these days, photo albums are so much nicer."
She opened the book and started to look through the pictures while Rory narrated them.
"Those were from when my contractions started," she explained. "That's Jess phoning Mom and Luke, just a little bit panicked... That's Jess phoning Mom and Luke half an hour later, really panicked."
"I wasn't panicked!" Jess argued. "I was concerned by how long it was taking them to get here and your refusal to go to a hospital."
"That's why your voice went up about four octaves and you were sweating more than I was?" Rory challenged.
"Where the hell are you guys?!" Jess demanded, holding his phone so tightly he thought the screen might crack.
"We're on our way," Luke replied. "What's wrong? What happened?"
"What's taking you so long?! You should have been here twenty minutes ago."
"There's construction." Luke explained. "What's going on? Is Rory alright?"
"I'm fine!" Rory called from her chair. "Jess, calm down."
"I'm perfectly calm," her husband snapped.
"You're about three seconds away from going full on nuclear," she snorted. "Give me the phone."
"You should be focusing on your breathing," he shook his head.
"YOU should be focusing on your breathing," she rolled her eyes and got to her feet. "Give me that. Luke?"
"Rory, is everything okay?"
"Everything is perfectly fine," she promised. "My contractions are still fifteen minutes apart and I feel great. Your nephew, however, is about to have a nervous breakdown."
"Tell the wimp to pull himself together," Lorelai called. "He's embarrassing himself."
"Mom says to pull yourself together," Rory told Jess. "So, where are you guys?"
"We're about ten minutes from your building," Luke said. "There's construction all over the place."
"Great, see you when you get here." she hung up the phone and put a hand to her stomach as another contraction started.
"Are you okay?" Jess rushed to take her hand. "Do you need to sit down?"
"I'm fine," she shook her head. "I'm supposed to walk, walking is good for labour."
"Do you need anything to drink? Do you want some water?"
"Jess, I swear to God if you don't stop badgering me with questions, I'm going to push you off the fire escape," Rory growled.
"Right, sorry," he nodded and took a couple deep breaths.
"Why don't you go make sure the hospital bag is packed," she suggested.
"Right, just call if you need me."
Rory smiled and kissed his cheek, then pushed him back towards the bedroom and breathed a sigh of relief. She loved that man, she really did, but if he didn't stop handling her with kid gloves she was going to beat him to death. She wanted her brooding, James Dean wannabe, artist back!
"Hey, look," Jess pointed to the page Mia had just turned to. "There you are having a really bad contraction and throwing a jar at Matt's head."
"Why were you throwing a jar at someone!?" Mia demanded.
"He was making fun of me," Rory shrugged. "It seemed like the appropriate response."
"Of course it did," Mia rolled her eyes.
"I bet you're regretting sleeping with him now," Cynthia offered as she paced the apartment arm-in-arm with Rory. "I mean, I'm sure he's good, but is it really worth this?"
"At this exact moment, no, not it's not" Rory breathed through a contraction. "Jesus Christ! I'm never sleeping with you again!"
"Oh, you'll forget all about this in a few weeks," her mother promised. "Trust me, after I had you-"
"Do not finish that sentence!" Luke called from the kitchen. "Rory, do you want anything to eat, or do you want me to make you something for later?"
"I'm okay," Rory shook her head. "Seriously, Jess, you're never touching me again!"
"So do you want him to leave?" Matt smirked.
"Only if he wants to die," she growled.
"I'm just checking," he raised his hands. "Cause you seem to be rather conflicted here."
Without warning, Rory grabbed the jar of pens on Jess's desk and flung it at Matt's head.
"Hey!" he ducked as the jar flew past him- more than a foot away- and hit the bookshelf.
"Piss off!" she snapped.
"You could have killed me!"
"Oh please," Jess rolled his eyes and picked up the jar. "Have you seen how terrible her arm is?"
"How did that not break?" Lorelai asked, not moving from her spot on the couch.
"Bummer, that could have been fun."
"I could have died!" Matt repeated.
"Rory, why do you have all these wimps around here?" Lorelai turned to her daughter. "I mean, first Jess was crying like a little girl and now this guy's getting all dramatic. You need calmer friends."
"I'm perfectly calm," Cynthia offered.
"Yes you are," Lorelai smiled at her. "Because you're a girl and you know how to keep your head."
"I'm calm!" Luke called.
"That's because you've been practising for this like it's the damn Olympics," his wife snorted. "The rest of you are absolute disasters. Get it together, you're not the ones pushing a watermelon out of a hole the size of an orange."
"That can't be accurate!" Rory's eyes widened. "I mean, that's physically impossible!"
"Shh, Sweetie," Lorelai patted her arm. "Mommy's talking."
"Don't worry, I'm sure she's just exaggerating," Cynthia offered. "Let's keep walking."
She turned the page to find a picture of a nurse checking how dilated Rory was.
"Yeah, Liz is all about the beauty of childbirth," Rory explained by way of apology. "She's not big on censoring and Mom was more than happy to give her a hand."
"If you're not as... free-spirited as Liz is you might want to skip to the last two pages," Jess offered. "Basically everything in between belongs in some sort of maternity study guide."
"Mom!" Rory screeched as she saw her mother stick a camera lens under the blanket covering her legs while the nurse checked her cervix. "What the hell are you doing?!"
"I'm documenting the miracle of life. You'll thank me one day."
"Liar!" Rory threw a handful of ice chips at the woman. "As I recall, when I suggested taking pictures when Sherry was having a baby you were adamantly opposed."
"That was Sherry," Lorelai rolled her eyes. "Who gives a crap about her? This is my first grandbaby and I want to document every little bit of her arrival."
"Jess!" Rory whined.
"I tried to stop her already," he shook his head. "She almost beat me to death with the thing."
"You'll thank me one day," she repeated.
"I changed my mind, I want Luke in here with me!"
"No you don't," Lorelai laughed. "He's useless in hospitals."
"Because you're being so helpful right now."
"I'm distracting you," she smiled. "That's super helpful."
"You didn't notice how uncomfortable it was getting your cervix checked, now did you?"
Rory opened her mouth to argue, then closed it again when she realized that her mom was right and the nurse was already taking her gloves off.
"5 cm," she smiled at Rory. "Half way there."
"Told you I was helping," Lorelai smirked.
"Go get me more ice chips," Rory threw the remainder of the cup at her.
"Back in a flash."
"I hate her," she huffed once Lorelai was gone.
"I think you're going to be pretty fond of her in a bit," Jess offered.
Rory didn't believe him until her fourth hour of labour, when her contractions were still three minutes apart and she was ready to kill anyone and everyone. Luke had fled the scene to make some calls for Rory and Cynthia and Matt had been thrown out.
"Okay I'm getting the dynamite thing now!" Rory moaned. "Mom! Make it stop!"
"It's almost over," Lorelai assured her. "Just a few more seconds."
"You're a filthy liar!"
"Here, throw some ice chips at Jess," she held out the cup.
"Well I'm sure it was a beautiful thing to experience, but I think I'll take your advice," Mia laughed, flipping to the back of the book.
"Oh, there's Jess looking like he's about to pass out!" Rory smiled gleefully. "That was great!"
"I wasn't going to pass out," he rolled his eyes.
"You were swaying."
"I was not!"
"You totally were."
"Maybe it just looked that way because you were high," he offered.
"I wasn't high, I was on painkillers," she corrected. "And you were definitely swaying."
"Okay, Rory, we're almost there," the doctor assured her.
"You said that an hour ago!" Rory snapped.
"I really mean it this time," she laughed. "Now, when the next contraction comes I want you to give me a big push."
"I'll push you alright," she sneered.
"God, this kid better be worth it!" Rory screamed.
"You're doing so good Hon," her mother encouraged.
"I hate you so much right now!" Rory turned to Jess. "You can't even imagine."
"Trust me, I can," he promised. "But you're doing so good."
"Head is out!" The doctor announced, making Rory slump back against her pillows and take a few deep breaths.
"We're almost there," Jess kissed her forehead. "She's almost here."
"One last push and you'll have a baby," the doctor promised. "Ready?"
"Do it anyways," Lorelai patted her hand. "I've got to get pictures of this."
"You're not going anywhere," Rory held her in a vice grip.
"I am pushing a human out of my body, you're staying wherever I damn please!"
"Right," she nodded and took a step closer to the bed. "Okay, here comes the next one."
Rory didn't remember that last push, it was just a blur of cursing and pain, but she did remember the garbled sound of her screaming baby. It was the most amazing sound she had ever heard. Despite the fact that she was in more pain than she had ever imagined possible and she was sure she would never be able to walk again, the frail, warbling sound of her crying newborn made her smile.
"Oh, she's beautiful!" Lorelai said tearily. "Oh, Rory!"
"You did so good," Jess rested his forehead against hers. "You did so good, Ror!"
"Do you want to cut the cord?" the doctor smiled at Jess.
"What?" he looked up in terror. "Isn't there someone more qualified?"
"It's not hard," a nurse shrugged.
"Uh, well," the colour had rushed from Jess' face and he was holding Rory's hand as tightly as she had been holding his a moment before.
"Oh, you're such a wimp!" Lorelai scoffed. "If you won't do it, I will."
"All yours," he waved her forward.
An hour later they had been moved out of the delivery room and into recovery, where Luke, Matt and Cynthia had joined them again.
"Oh, she's precious!" Cynthia cooed. "I just want to bundle her up and take her home with me!"
"Jess, watch her," Rory glared.
"I'll tackle her if she tries anything," he promised.
"So, now that she's here are you gonna tell us her name?" Luke asked.
"Yeah, you have to tell us now!" Lorelai bounced in her seat. "I'm dying here!"
"Well you'll be happy to know that we've decided to name her... Lorelai," Rory grinned.
"I TOLD YOU!" Lorelai jumped up and pointed an accusing finger at her husband. "I told you she wouldn't fail me!"
"You're going to wake the baby," Luke rolled his eyes. "Sit down and be quiet."
"I don't think I've ever been prouder," Lorelai patted her daughter's cheek. "You're such a good daughter. I take back all the terrible things I ever said about you when you were little."
"What terrible things?" Rory frowned.
"They don't matter anymore," Lorelai shook her head. "So, what are we gonna call her."
"Lyla," Jess said.
"Like in Xena?" Matt asked eagerly.
"Um, sure?" Rory shrugged.
"What about a middle name?" Luke asked.
"Amelia," Rory smiled. "The perfect mix of Emily and Mia."
"Oh, Honey," Lorelai started tearing up again. "It's perfect!"
"We thought so," Jess smiled and wrapped an arm around Rory's shoulders.
"Lorelai Amelia Mariano," Cynthia smiled at the baby. "Nice to meet you."
"Jess was your mother there for the birth?" Mia interrupted their argument.
"No, she was at a fair when Rory went into labour, so she came up on the weekend. But I promised her we wouldn't let the next one come before she get here," Jess said.
"Next one?" Rory raised an eyebrow. "Did I miss something?"
"What, you don't want more?"
"How about we work out how to handle Miss Woodhouse here, first?"
"Rory, you really shouldn't refer to your daughter as the child of Satan," Mia wrinkled her nose. "It'll just egg her on."
"I would stop if she only slept at night," Rory promised. "Ow! Don't bite me!"
"She doesn't have any teeth," Jess rolled his eyes.
"How about you let her chew your nipples and then tell me she doesn't have teeth," Rory snapped at him, then looked back at her daughter. "Are you done? Is that why you're biting me?"
"Who's this?" Mia pointed to a picture of a young girl holding the baby.
"Oh, that's Jess's little sister Doula," Rory smiled.
"That's Doula?" Mia gasped. "The last time I saw her she was practically a baby!"
"She just turned six," Rory laughed. "And she's been growing like a weed the last few months."
"How does she feel about being an Aunt?"
"She was super psyched," Jess laughed. "She wants to take her out on the renaissance circuit to show all her friends."
"That's lovely," Mia smiled.
"Okay, I'm just going to change Lyla and then we can go for dinner," Rory got to her feet.
"So," Mia turned to Jess once they were alone. "How do you like being a father?"
"It's amazing," he smiled brightly. "I mean, I was worried that I wouldn't be good at it, since my dad was a walk out, but Rory set me straight pretty fast."
"I'm sure she did," Mia nodded. "And she was absolutely right."
"I'm not as good with her as Rory is," he shrugged.
"You'll get there," Mia promised. "It just takes a little time."
"Okay," Rory returned with Lyla in one hand and the car seat in the other. "We're all ready."
"Excellent!" Mia jumped to her feet. "My first authentic cheesesteak! Is it going to be from a shack? I don't know why, but the best food always seems to be from shacks."
"Oddly enough, it is," Rory laughed. "Come on, it's going to change your life!"
A/N: And that's the ballgame (I think that's the expression, I don't really know anything about sports though...) Anyways, this is the end- for now at least. I might add to this every once in a while, should the creative gods grant me an idea, but for now I think this is a good place to stop. Thank you so much to everyone that reviewed and followed and favourited this story and it's predecessors, you guys mean the absolute world to me!
Thank you for coming on this journey and keeping up with the Jess and Rory I've created in my mind.