Author's Notes: Okay, so I've never actually let anyone read any of my stuff before. It's a bit scary letting people I don't know see something that I've created, but I'm feeling particularly brave right now. All I ask is that the criticism is creative and not intended to hurt. Thanks for reading, and let me know what you think!

Disclaimer: I own nothing thus far other than the plot. All events through the end of Season 3 have occurred, but I'm trying to stay spoiler free for the upcoming season. Any similarities between what I've written and what will occur in Season 4 are coincidence. Chapter titles are borrowed from various Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers songs. I don't own those either.

Chapter One: One Day You Belonged To Me

The paper was thin, and the sound of the pen scratching against the tabletop was loud in his ears. Jess was writing quickly, but his handwriting was still small and precise. She'd recognize it even if he didn't sign it, but he did anyway. He lay the pen down and looked over what he'd just written. It was short and to the point. Honest, like he should have been six months ago.

He dug through the desk drawer until he found a small envelope and a roll of stamps. Taking a deep breath, he wrote the familiar address on the envelope and affixed the stamp. Folding the sheet once, he slipped it inside and sealed the flap. He lost the internal argument he'd been having with himself and added the return address to the outside of the envelope, but it was only the address. He left off his name.

Now that it was finished, he became nervous. All he had left to do was mail it, but placing the small white rectangle into the large blue box on the corner seemed like the most daunting task he'd ever faced. What if it came back unopened? What if it didn't come back? What if a reply came back? Did it matter to him? If he was being honest with himself, then, yes, it mattered a lot. He never wanted Rory to hate him, but what if that's exactly what this letter did? But he was apologizing, sort of. Wasn't that supposed to make things better? Not fix them entirely, not erase what he'd done, but at least make it easier for them both to move on?

Jess had sat down to write this note on a whim, thinking it would be a gesture to show Rory that he knew he had hurt her and was trying to change, but the longer he sat with it the more questions that it raised. Maybe he should save himself the pain of wondering how it would affect Rory and not send it. He picked up the envelope, preparing to rip it in half, but a small voice from behind him stopped him.

"What're you doing?"

Jess turned and glared at the little blonde girl. "Nothing. Go away."

She chose instead to come closer. "Who're you writing to?"

"No one."

"Connecticut," she said, reading the envelope in his hand. "Jimmy says that's where you lived before you came here. Are you writing to your mom?"

He fought the urge to laugh. "Liz doesn't live in Connecticut."

"Well, who does?"

"No one, Lily! Leave it alone!" He almost immediately felt bad for yelling at her. She didn't have anything to do with why he was frustrated, but he had a long history of lashing out without considering the consequences. That was half the reason behind the letter in the envelope he was holding. He pushed out of the chair, grabbed his jacket off the back of it, and bolted for the door. He could hear Lily and then Sasha calling after him, inquiring where he was going, but he didn't answer.

Almost twenty minutes later, he finally stopped walking. Looking up, Jess realized that he was in front of the post office. The envelope was still clutched in his hand. A tiny part of the back of his brain was screaming that it was a cosmic sign. He tried to ignore it, but the voice sounded remarkably like Rory's voice. Sighing heavily in frustration and fear, he slipped the envelope into the outgoing slot. The nagging part of his brain uttered a sweet thank you, and he wondered then if he was going insane.

"Yes, Jess, you are insane. You just sent a letter to a girl who probably hates you, and now you're standing in front of a post office talking to yourself. I think that qualifies as certifiable."

Shaking his head, Jess turned and starting walking back to the house. While he was walking, he thought about what he'd just done. Was it too late to run back and try to get them to give the letter back to him? Probably. Damn it. Some quick mental math revealed that the letter'd probably reach the address he'd sent it to on Wednesday. Maybe it would get tossed out before the weekend when she would return home and see it, or maybe Lorelai would somehow recognize his handwriting and throw it out before Rory even knew it existed.

The date suddenly came screeching into his head. Thursday was Thanksgiving. She'd be home, and she'd get the letter, likely on the same day it arrived. She'd probably even take it out of the mailbox herself. At the very least Lorelai'd give it to her without much look at where it had come from. There was almost no way Rory wouldn't get the letter. He was a moron.

He stumbled blindly through the gate of the house, brushing aside dogs as he entered the house again. Sasha was waiting for him and looking less than pleased.

"Where did you go?"

"I had to mail a letter."

"To whom?"

'Whom'? A lecture with proper grammar? This woman was weirder than he thought. "It's none of your business."

Sasha's eyes narrowed, and she took a deep breath. "But it is my business when you snap at my kid."

"Yeah. Sorry."

"Tell her, not me."

"Fine." Jess wandered into Jimmy's office and pulled open the closet. "I'm sorry I yelled at you."

Lily looked up from the bottom of the closet. "Okay."

Jess nodded once and tried to close the door, but Lily pushed it back open.

"What?" he asked.

"Were you writing to that girl?"

Jess felt his body give an involuntary jerk. "What girl?"

"You left a book on the couch the other day. I wanted to know what it was about, so I picked it up. A picture of a girl fell out of it. Were you writing to her?"

Jess mentally slapped himself. He couldn't believe he'd left that picture lying around, but he was trying to be nicer to the young girl, so he answered her. "Yeah, I was writing to her."

"She's very pretty," Lily sighed. "Is she your girlfriend?"

"She was once," he admitted.

"Why isn't she anymore?" Lily asked, innocent like only little girls are.

"Because I screwed up."

Lily tilted her head and looked up at him. "Did you say you were sorry?"

"Sort of." The letter was sort of an apology. It just hadn't been received yet. "Listen, Lil, I don't want to talk about her, okay?" He sounded harsher than he meant to, but she didn't seem to notice.

"Okay," she shrugged. "Shut the door?"

Jess did as he was asked and then sat back in Jimmy's desk chair. Faintly, he wished he had his own cupboard to hide in. It would have made so many times in his life easier if he could have just hidden away from them. Unfortunately, it was too late for him to hide. Now he just had to wait, out in the open and more exposed than he'd ever been.