Disclaimer: I clearly own nothing affiliated with "Gilmore Girls."
Author's Note: This is the last chapter of this story, although I may be willing to write a sequel. Perhaps one that isn't so drawn out.
Rory dropped her hands and leaned in.
Funny, it's almost like I'm going to kiss him, she thought.
Apparently Jess had the same thought.
He leaned in toward her, with the lighter primed in his hand, but not yet lit. And in a swift motion, his hand flicked the cigarette from her mouth, sending it tumbling into one of the dirty cracks in the wooden bridge.
"Huh," he said.
Chapter 3: Talking
They looked at each other. Again. Then quickly turned away. Their almost-kiss was not forgotten, but it was put on hold by their thoughts.
It seemed thinking was all they were doing tonight. Neither had been able to fall asleep. Rory had tried for over two hours, but she was thinking too much to be able to go to sleep. Thinking about him. Thinking about them. Wondering if there was a "them" to think about.
Jess had also been thinking too much to fall asleep. As usual, he was thinking about a book. This time, as it often was lately, it was "The Great Gatsby."
Jess used to identify himself with Nick Carraway, the everyman narrator. He liked to be an observer, didn't like to get involved. But lately, he was hoping that he wasn't turning into Gatsby, going after the unattainable girl and winning her over, only to see her return to her boorish husband.
Yes, he was becoming Gatsby, he thought. And the thought killed him. Why couldn't he be more like a Hemingway character, one who would never be defeated by a mere woman?
They still sat there, silent and lost in thought.
Finally, a frustrated Rory broke the silence.
"Why can't we say anything to each other anymore?" she asked him. She was worried. She felt like she was losing him, just as she lost the cigarette. Did he want to discard her too?
"I don't think there's anything left to say," he said quietly.
She took it badly. He hadn't meant for it to come out that way, to sound like they were through as friends or a potential couple or whatever they fashioned themselves these days. But a tear dropped down her cheek despite the best of his intentions.
"No," he said. "You don't understand. I didn't mean I don't want to talk to you ever again."
"Then what did you mean?" she asked, her sadness quickly turning to anger. She stood up and was soon hovering above Jess, who turned around to look at her. He decided to stand up too. Soon, they were at eye-level again.
"I meant that I'm tired of talking," he said.
"Yeah, well that doesn't sound much better," she said.
He was so angry at himself. The one time he needed to say things perfectly, he couldn't come up with the right words. And he was still too scared to put himself completely out there, to tell her how he really felt. He had never told anyone how he really felt about anything. Not that he thought anyone would have cared how he felt. At least, until now.
So he decided to try non-verbal communication. He had always felt a connection with Rory, ever since the first time they met. And she was such a wordy person, always sparring with Lorelai. But with Jess, it was different. She could say things without speaking.
They looked at each other again. Her eyes were beginning to dry, but the tears had caused them to sparkle in the moonlight.
God, she was beautiful, he thought. Maybe if I stare hard enough, she'll realize that I think so.
She smoothed her hair but still kept her eyes on Jess. He looks like he's waiting, she thought. But for what?
Then, a sudden gust of wind swept through the area. Rory's hair blew across her face and she felt chilled. She crossed her arms over her chest in a protective manner. But it wasn't just the wind she was protecting herself from.
"You're shivering," he said.
"It's cold being out here alone," she said. Downright frigid, she thought.
"But you're not alone," he said.
"It sure feels that way." And she did feel lonely, with him standing close and yet so far from her grasp.
"Maybe I can fix that," he said. For once, he said it right and meant it. She knew he meant it too.
Her face brightened. He walked toward her, placing his hands on her shoulders, rubbing them quickly to stop her from shivering.
Rory's hands were at her side, but not for long. Stealthily, she slipped them into the back pockets of his jeans, a move she had longingly seen him pull on Shane months earlier when she came back from Washington.
She stood on her toes and looked up slightly, balancing herself on him until their mouths were at equal levels. Now, she knew why he was tired of talking.
Jess knew she knew too.
There was no more talking that evening.