A/N: Thanks to everyone who kept reviewing & making me want to finish this story. I honestly don't know why it has taken me this long to finish, but I STILL plan on finishing this. Anyway, I've been getting e-mails alerts from saying that people have added me or my stories to their favorites or put me on author alert...just wanted to thank all y'all. ;)

Chapter 23

Lorelai waited anxiously for Rory to get home. As soon as she finally heard the front door open, she was at her daughter's side in seconds.

"Rory, sweets, guess who called me today?"

"President Bush."

Lorelai made the sound of a buzzer, indicating that Rory have been wrong.

"Howard Stern?"

"He wishes," Lorelai scoffed. "And eeehhh."

There was that damn buzzer sound again. So she wouldn't have to hear it any more, Rory declared, "Alright, I give up. Who called you?"


"Oh." Genuinely surprised by this, Rory didn't know what to say. Nothing came to mind except, "Why?"

Lorelai sighed dramatically. "He wants to meet me to discuss our problems. That's my best guess, anyway. I'm going to meet him tomorrow."

"Wow. That's big. Not as big as my news, though!"

Lorelai realized her daughter was grinning from ear to ear. It made her smile, too.

"What is your big news?"

"Jess and I made out."

"Woah. Back it up there. You and Jess did what now?"

"We made out. It was real this time."

"As opposed to all the fake make out sessions from before?" Lorelai was trying desperately to understand.

"No, you know what I mean. I--"

Lorelai walked into the living room, sitting down on the couch. "This is huge. So, are you two together now?"

"I don't know," Rory admitted. "We were making out, Dean interrupted us, and I came straight home to tell you."

"Dean what?" Lorelai brought her hands to her face in awe of it all. "Wow. Your news is so much more exciting than mine."

Rory grinned. "I don't know what this means, though. It felt different this time."

"Of course it did. You didn't love him before."

Rory opened her mouth to protest, but Lorelai cut her off. "You weren't in love with him before."

Rory's mouth closed as she thought about this. Was she really in love with Jess? They had been best friends since they were five, and never in all those years had Rory thought something like this would happen.

But, she realized, somewhere along the line it had. She had fallen in love with her best friend.

The next morning, Rory fluttered about the house in a daze. Feeling happier than she had in weeks, she couldn't wait to go share her joy with her best friend, naturally. The only thing stopping her was Lorelai's departure. Today she left to meet up with Christopher.

'Speak of the devil,' Rory thought as Lorelai descended downstairs.

Rory's gaze fell on the bag her mother was carrying. "I thought this was just a day trip?"

"It was. Is. It's better to be safe than sorry."

"Okay. Let me know when you get there."

"Yes, Mom," Lorelai joked.

Rory smirked at her mother. Lorelai smiled, kissing Rory's forehead. "I'll be back soon. You won't even know I'm gone. I'll be back faster than you can say--"

"Got it, thanks." Rory knew that although Lorelai loved Jess, she was still unsure of him and Rory as a couple. She had, after all, fallen in love with her best friend many years ago. And look where that had gotten her. Pregnant before she even graduated from high school. She didn't want Rory to follow in her footsteps. Not this soon.

With one last goodbye and another 'back before you know it' comment, Lorelai was gone.

Rory stared at the phone, debating on whether or not to call Jess. Should she wait for him to call first? Should she just go to Luke's? In the end, she decided to just call him.

"Luke's," he greeted.

"Hey, it's me."

"Me who?" Jess asked innocently.

"Oh, sorry. I guess I have the wrong number."

Jess laughed. "Rory, wait. What's up?"

"Nothing. I was just wondering if you wanted to do something today. Mom just left for Southbridge, and--"

"I know. She's here, begging for coffee."

"Why does that not surprise me? Well, are you coming over, or not? Because if you're busy, I could give Dean a call..."

"Go ahead. Have fun. Tell me what happens."

"Don't make me," Rory pouted.

"I won't," he promised. "I have to finish my shift here, but meet me at the bridge in an hour."

"See you then."

Rory hung up the phone, going into her room to pick out a book to read. Then, with a book in hand, she left the house and headed to the bridge.

Lorelai glanced over at the map lying on the seat next to her. She really should have planned this trip better, figured out which roads to take and everything. She kept having to stop every five minutes or so to figure out either where she was, or where to turn next.

She shook her head. "Christopher, if I ever find you..."

She grabbed her cell phone from the seat next to her, pressing a few buttons and putting it to her ear. She carefully maneuvered to the side of the road, stopping, as the phone rang.


"Why did I agree to meet you again? And in a town I've never heard of, let alone been to?"

"You're lost," Christopher guessed.

"Yes, thanks for the update. A little help, please?"

"Well I don't know where you are, either!"

"Great, so I'll just stay on," Lorelai squinted at the map, "Prospect Street the rest of my life."

"Wait. I know where that is. You're not very far from where I am. Hold on, I'll come get you."

"Thank you." Lorelai breathed a sigh of relief. She had never been good with directions. The only reason she had never gotten lost like this before was because she had always had her little navigator next to her side, helping her out. Rory had been designated 'map holder' long ago, and she'd never gotten them lost.

Fifteen minutes later, Christopher pulled up beside Lorelai. They both rolled down their windows.

"Hey you," Christopher greeted. "Going my way?"

Lorelai rolled her eyes good-naturedly. "Lead the way, stranger."

Jess walked over to Rory. He stood behind her, waiting for her to notice him. She was so engrossed in her reading, it didn't look like that was going to happen anytime soon.

He kneeled down behind her and leaned over to kiss her cheek. She jumped, turning around. "You scared me. When did you get here?"

Jess smiled, shaking his head. "This is what I love about you," he told her, taking the book from her hands and sitting beside her. He skimmed the words on the back of the book and handed it back to her. "Want me to tell you how it ends?"

"You better not!" Rory exclaimed. "So, how was work?"

He rolled his eyes. Enough said. "So..."

"About yesterday—"

"I guess we should talk about what happened, huh?"

Rory nodded. "I think so. We kissed. Again."

"A lot."

Blushing, Rory nodded again. "A lot."

"We need to have a serious talk about what's happening between us. I don't mean to sound like a girl, but—"

"I know," Rory interrupted. "I agree."

"Before I say anything, I want you to promise me something."

Rory bit her lip. "Okay."

"Promise me you won't run away. We're sitting here until we figure things out."

"I promise," Rory replied softly.

She turned to face him, pulling her knees to her chest and giving him her undivided attention. She waited for him to begin. This was it...they were finally going to have 'the talk' that was long overdue.

Jess took a deep breath. He knew she was scared. So was he. His feelings for her were so strong, he didn't know how to express them to her now. After years of practice, he had gotten pretty darn good at hiding how he was feeling. To be so open about it now...he didn't know where to begin. But here she sat before him, quiet, waiting for him to say something.

This is the conversation that would make or break them as a couple. But it was more than that. They weren't just two kids in high school that had a crush on each other. He was in love with her. It was telling her that was the hard part.

He decided to just go for it.

Here goes nothing...