I love sweeps month because so much cool stuff happens in TV-Land. This is just something I wanted to write when I was wondering how things might have gone last night had Rory said yes when Jess asked her if they could sit.
".so I'm actually very curious to see which way this is going to go," I say. My words hang like the bonfire smoke between us. Jess just looks at me and I feel as if my heart is going to explode in my chest, a combination of the physical activity and his beautiful eyes.
"Can we sit?" he asks me. He looks thrown off, as if he didn't expect this moment to ever happen. Well I knew it would. I knew the moment I saw him shivering in the back of his car that we would have this conversation. That's why I took a walk around town today, strolled by Luke's a few times, went to the bookstore, walked around the lake. I want this conversation. I deserve this conversation.
"Sure, let's sit," I say, looking around me for the least crowded spot I can find.
Finally, I spot a vacant bench and head over to it. I sit sideways with my knees tucked under me. When Jess sits it's only about six inches away, closer than I had expected. I feel my hands begin to tremble, the way they had when Jess and I first started out. What is wrong with me? This is a guy who lied to me most of the time we were together, who left me with an "I'll call you," and who was too much of a coward to say anything when he finally got around to calling. How can I sit here and still feel attracted to him after all he's done? How can I still be in love with him?
I am suddenly reminded of my parents, of the way Mom has always looked at Dad even with all the hurt he's caused her over the years. Maybe it's a family thing, to be attracted to emotionally unavailable men.
"Fire's pretty," Jess says. I assume this is the nicest thing he could think to say about the Firelight Festival.
"Jess you said you wanted to talk," I remind him in a less-than-gentle voice. "What do you have to say to me?"
He shakes his head, doesn't look at me. So here we sit for a few minutes while Jess watches his shoelaces, probably regretting that he ever chased me.
"This is ridiculous," I say, standing. I intend to walk away but Jess grabs my arm.
"Wait, don't go," he pleads, his fingers strong around my wrist.
I wish I wanted to go.
"You're not saying anything," I say. "In fact this is like the millionth time you've had a chance to tell me what is really going on and you're choosing not to."
"It's not because I don't want to," Jess says. "I just.I'm not great at stuff like this, okay? Please, Rory, be patient with me just a little bit longer."
When I sit, his fingers stay around my wrist, as if he's afraid that I might vanish at any moment. I'm never the one who pulls the disappearing act.
"You really hurt my feelings when you left," I say. I don't mean to tell him all this, it's just falling out of me. "One night we were in Kyle's bedroom and you were unbuckling my belt and then.it was over. You were gone."
"I know," Jess says. "I don't understand it either. I just did what I thought I had to do."
"Why? I don't understand why you thought leaving was the right thing."
"You shouldn't be with me, Rory," he says, looking me in the eyes. "I'm not good for you."
"How can you say that?" I demand.
"Because it's true. Look at your life, Rory. You're polite, you're ivy league, people like you. Do you know how many friends I have? Zero."
"You had me," I say.
"I would have screwed it up," Jess says. "Sooner or later I would have driven you away like I do everybody else."
"So that's why you left? Because you thought you might screw up?"
Jess releases his hold on my wrist and watches his finger trace the lifeline on my palm. Quietly he says, "You should have been with Dean."
"No I shouldn't," I say, heart fluttering as I too watch his finger. "If I was supposed to be with Dean, I would have been with Dean."
"He knew how to treat you. He knew how to act around your mom. Those are things I could never figure out. And your grandmother. She hated me. Maybe more than your mom."
"I don't care about that," I say. "I knew it would be like that when I chose you and I didn't care."
"Why?" he asks.
"Because I love you," I say before I even realize what I'm saying. His finger stops tracing my palm. I stop breathing. Why did I just say that? What possessed me to make myself as vulnerable as possible with Jess?
"I love you," he says.
All I can do is stare at him, mouth hanging open, eyes unable to blink. It's been so long since I've heard that particular tone in his voice, tender but confident. Once, a long time ago, I had thought that maybe Jess loved me. After he left, I felt humiliated by the evidence that led me to think that. So what if he figured out how far it was from Stars Hollow to Yale? Who cared how he looked at me when we were kissing? For so long now I've been telling myself I was wrong, Jess didn't have special feelings for me, and now I can hardly believe he is sitting here entwining our fingers after just saying that he loves me.
He is smiling. I can't remember the last time I saw him smile.
"So, what now?" I ask as he takes a firm grip of my hand. "Are you staying? Are you leaving?"
"I don't know," he says. "I didn't really have any of this planned, you know? My car is still idling."
"Your car is idling?"
He nods and says, "I was headed out of town."
"Why'd you stop?"
"Luke. He put something in my car for me and I wanted to thank him before I left."
"Almost didn't happen," Jess finishes for me. With his free hand he touches the tips of my hair. "I like this."
"Thank you," I say, but I don't want to talk about my hair. I want to talk about what's going to happen. "What are you going to do, Jess?"
"I don't know," he says again.
"Stay?" he repeats, fingers grazing my neck. "Is there a place for me here?"
I nod, scoot closer to him. Jess smiles again. When he kisses me, I feel the hurt of our last year together start to fade. It's going to take awhile, trusting him again, getting over the fear of waking up and him being gone, adjusting to loving him and him loving me back, but when he kisses me I feel like it's worth it to try again.
"I'm gonna go talk to Luke," Jess says when he pulls away.
"Okay," I say. Neither of us feels much motivation to move.
"I'll talk to him later," Jess suggests.
"Good idea," I say, and he kisses me again.