Disclaimer: I don't own the show, characters or anything like that. I don't even own the idea I'm sure many before me have used it, or some version of it.

A/N: Ok, I'm really excited about this one.

This is sort of an AU story, because the world of Gilmore is fully screwed up on the show right now, and I need a break from it. I couldn't even begin to fix it. So here's what's going on.

Rory and Jess never dated in high school. They were always just friends. The kiss at the end of season two did happen, but when she came back they worked things out and -kaboom- stayed friends. Jess left when they were 18 to go live with his father, like on the show, but since they weren't dating, Keg! Max! never happened so things never got screwed up, he said good bye, she was sad, but also happy for him that things were hopefully going to work out for him and they all went on their merry way.

Fast forward. Jess is now 27, and he has a 7-year-old daughter, Rachel. I say Rachel because of all the names I've seen used, this has never been one of them. (Although I just remembered Luke's Rachel... Oh well.) Jess lives in New York with Rachel, no mother in sight; she left when Rachel was one. Rory and Jess haven't seen each other for more than a day since they were 19 (at Liz's wedding), and yes, they're going to meet again (dun dun dun). Why even try to act like that's a surprise?

And as for "Are they in character?" I don't know. It's been 8 years since they were 19, but even at 19 Jess matured and Rory... well, we're going to ignore Rory's growth in season four. You'll have to tell me what you think.

You're up to date.

And this is my first story ever, so....

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Rachel Mariano sat in the middle of the floor watching TV.

"Do you want to help?" asked the voice on the television.

"No," Rachel said to the children's video.

"Great! Let's go!" said the way too perky voice.

She shook her head and went back to her book.

"Hey, dinner's ready," Jess told her, walking in the room. "What are you doing?"

"Well, I was watching this show, but then he said it was great that I didn't want to help and I figured I'd rather read Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde." She held up her abridged version of the book.

"Oh, yeah, he is a nimwit," Jess agreed. "Well, come eat, I made your favorite."

Her eyes lit up. "Pizza?"

"Oh. Your other favorite."

"Macaroni and cheese?"

"That's the one."

She grinned and put her book on the couch, standing up and following him to the kitchen.

Rachel hopped up in her seat and Jess put her plate in front of her. "There you go."

"You gave me too much."

"I did not."

"I can't eat all this," she insisted.

"Please, I've seen you eat."

"You'll have to roll me out of the kitchen like the blueberry girl in Willy Wonka."

"Well, at least blue's your color."

She sighed heavily and began eating. "When you have to roll me out of here I'm going to say 'I told you so.'"

"Okay." He nodded.

"And then I'm going to be a blueberry for the rest of my life."

"Good, then I can give your books to another little girl who will eat her macaroni and cheese."

"You're annoying me."

"That's okay, what kind of parent would I be if I didn't annoy you?"

"The fun kind."

"The fun kind with a malnourished child. No thank you. Now eat."

"What's malnourished?"

"It's what you call it when someone doesn't eat enough."

"Oh. Well, I am not malnourished. And I can't eat all this."

"You're so stubborn," he said, shaking his head.

===

"Dad, can I call Uncle Luke?"

"May I," he corrected.

"May I call Uncle Luke?"

"Why?"

"Because I made him a picture."

"Of what, flannel?"

"No, of an elephant. He said he has the one I sent him of the trees hanging in the diner. He needs a new one."

"Did you pick up your toys?"

"Um...maybe."

"Um... maybe? Is that a 'No Dad, but I'll go do that right now'?"

"I want to call Uncle Luke right now."

"Clean up toys now, call Luke later."

She sighed. "You're no fun."

"Maybe not, but someday you'll thank me for being no fun."

"Really?"

"Probably not, but it did sound right. Go pick up your toys or you don't get an allowance, how's that?"

Sullenly she stalked off to her room, making sure to throw a scowl his way before shutting the door.

He just smiled, shaking his head, and sat down on the couch, pulling his own book out to read.

===

A few minutes later Rachel returned.

"All my toys are put away and my books are in my shelf. Now can I call Uncle Luke?"

Jess looked at his watch. "Yep. Then you have to take a bath and get ready for bed."

"But it's only seven."

"And your bedtime is eight."

"On Friday nights it's always nine," she said with a pout.

"Ah, but that's only if you've been good all week and I haven't had any complaints from Miss Simpson," he said pointedly.

She decided to give him the puppy dog eyes. "But Daddy, I didn't mean to spill the paint on her ugly dress."

"Why don't I believe you?"

She gave her best innocent look. "I don't know. It was an accident."

He sighed. "Fine, nine, but no later."

She smiled, very satisfied, and grabbed the phone, taking it in the kitchen to find the phone number.

"Manipulator," he mumbled as he went back to his book.

===

"But Dad, I want to see Uncle Luke and Aunt Lorelai," Rachel said for the millionth time.

"That woman is going to get an ear full," Jess mumbled to himself.

"Aunt Lorelai said she'd let me ride the horsies and everything. I really want to go. We haven't been there in forever."

"I don't want to go back to Stars Hollow, and even if I did, I can't just take off. What about my job?"

"We can just go for the weekend. Please, Daddy?"

"It's already Saturday, I'm not going to Stars Hollow to spend one day."

"Then we can go next weekend. You can call Uncle Luke and tell him, that way Aunt Lorelai could have the horsies ready. She's going to let me ride Thunderbolt."

"Two ears full," he mumbled.

"It'll be really fun, I promise," she stated confidently.

"I am this close to dropping you off at school," he said.

"You can't take me to school on a Saturday."

"I can try."

"Just for one weekend. A half a weekend even."

"Rachel..."

"Please? I'll give up my allowance for the week," she offered.

He sighed. She really wanted to go if she was offering to give up her book money. "You are not giving up your allowance to go to Stars Hollow."

She knew she had him now. "But I really want to go."

"I'll call Luke. But I make no promises," he added sternly.

She smiled. "Okay, Dad."

"And I very well may end up saying no," he warned.

"I know." She nodded, mostly to pacify him.

===

Jess sighed as he saw the Stars Hollow sign. This was not how he liked spending his Friday nights. He had been on the road with a very perky, very talkative seven-year-old for three hours, and he now knew everything she did about horses.

"Look! The gazebo! We're almost there!"

"What do you know, we are," he replied.

"Are we going to stay at Aunt Lorelai's inn?"

"As long as she doesn't make you stay with her, yes."

"If I stay with her, where will you stay?"

"At the inn, I won't be invited. She'll insist it's a girls' night only."

Rachel smiled. "That could be fun."

"You'll be in a sugar coma by tomorrow morning, that won't be fun."

"When do I get to ride the horsies?"

"The eternal question springs up again."

"Will I get to ride tomorrow?"

"You'll have to ask Lorelai, she's the one who promised to let you ride if you could get me to bring you here."

Rachel nodded. "I will."

A couple minutes later they pulled into the Gilmore-turned-Danes residence and Rachel began to bounce excitedly. Again.

"We're here! Dad! We're here!"

"I know! Rachel! I know!" he mimicked her.

Rachel unbuckled her seat belt and went bounding out of the car, meeting Lorelai at the door in a big hug.

"Wow! Look at you, you should be in the WNBA," Lorelai gushed.

Rachel giggled. "I'm not good at basketball."

"You got tall, little lady." Lorelai smiled.

"I got taller since last time you saw me, but I'm still pretty short," she said.

Lorelai chuckled and looked at Jess. "Come in, we won't bite, I promise."

Jess followed Rachel and then Lorelai stopped them at the door. "Wait, we have surprises for you both."

"A pony?" Jess asked, mock excitedly.

"No. Here's for you," Lorelai handed Rachel a wrapped present, which she happily tore into.

Rachel gasped. "My own camera! Dad wouldn't buy me one of these!"

"I know, you told me." Lorelai grinned evilly at Jess.

He rolled his eyes. "Thanks Lorelai, now I have to deal with a camera in my face all the time."

"Ah, it's good for her. Creativity and all that jazz."

"Drawing is much less annoying."

"Dad, will you open my camera?"

Jess took the package and started opening it, finally getting it out and putting the film in it while Lorelai and Rachel waited patiently. "There you go." He handed it back to her.

Lorelai smiled. "Good boy. Now it's time for your surprise."

"It's not a pony?"

"It's not a pony, sorry."

"How about a puppy? Is it a puppy?"

"It isn't a puppy, although I have been told she's named like one."

He looked at Lorelai. "She?"

Lorelai smiled. "Uh huh. You can come out now," she called in the kitchen.

Rory came out with a smile on her face and a cake in her hands that said "Welcome Home!" in blue frosting.

Jess' jaw dropped.

"You're that surprised that my mom wanted to give you a cake?" Rory grinned, handing the cake to her mom and giving Jess a hug. "You should know by now that she'll use any excuse."

"What are you doing here?" he asked.

"Mom called me Tuesday and told me that you were coming to Stars Hollow, she thought if I could get off work for the weekend I could come up and surprise you."

Rachel pulled on Jess' shirt almost shyly.

"Oh! Rory, you remember Rachel, right?"

Rory smiled. "Wow, I haven't seen you since you were two," Rory said.

"I'm seven now," Rachel said.

"I know. You got a lot bigger." She smiled.

"Uh huh." Rachel nodded.

"Hey munchkin, want to come with me and see if Robbie's up yet?" Lorelai asked.

Rachel nodded and followed Lorelai.

"She's beautiful," Rory told Jess.

"Thank you." He nodded, agreeing.

"So..."

"Yeah..."

"Want to go for a walk?" she asked.

"Sure, why not see if Stars Hollow has changed?" He shrugged.

"Oh, it did. Didn't Luke tell you? Miss Patty got married."

"Again?"

"Yep."

"Huh. You'd think she'd tire of weddings."

"The theme was Hairspray."

"Hairspray?"

"The musical." Rory nodded.

"You're kidding, right?"

She shook her head solemnly. "Nope."

"Wow, this town is more screwed up than I thought."

She smiled and they walked in a small silence.

"So, where do you live now?" Jess asked Rory.

"New York."

"Oh yeah? Are you a reporter yet?"

She nodded proudly. "New York Times, three and a half years and going strong."

"Congratulations."

"Thank you. What do you do?"

"Ah, nothing important."

"Oh, come on, what do you do? I'll pout if you don't tell me."

"I have two jobs. I'm a copy editor by day, it's actually a pretty good job for me. I get paid to read."

She smiled. "Sounds like a good job. What's your other job?"

"Bartender. Not glamorous, but I have to pay my rent and I won't get a roommate because I'm not about to invite some stranger to come live with my daughter. So..."

"Oh, well, that's nice. I mean, it's... yeah."

"Yeah." He nodded. "It's only in the evenings, from 8 to 12 Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Rachel's sleeping, so I'm not sacrificing time with her or anything."

"Oh, so it's when Rachel's sleeping, that's good, that way you can spend time with her."

"Yeah, I wanted to get one while she's sleeping. She doesn't know I work two jobs, I don't really want her to. I mean, who wants Daddy to be a bartender? It's not quite a career that invokes pride."

"At least you're willing to do what you have to do to make a nice life for your daughter. That invokes pride," she said.

He shrugged.

"It does," she insisted.

"Well, it's not the one I'll tell about on career day, let's put it that way," he said with a small smile.

She smiled. "I still find it hard to believe you're a father."

"Jeez, seven years and you still haven't digested it?"

"Well, in my defense I only got to see you one time since she was born."

"True." He nodded.

"Hey, I have an idea." She stopped walking.

"What?"

"Why don't we go back and get Rachel and I'll take you guys to lunch, we can catch up, Rachel can get to know me a little so maybe she won't hide behind you when I'm around and we get to eat. It's a very good plan."

"You think anything that involves eating is a good plan."

"Well, other than than cannibalism, anything involving eating is a good plan," she said.

He smiled and rolled his eyes before turning around and following Rory back to the house to get Rachel.

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A/N: Okay, so the ending didn't rock. But please tell me what you think of the story! This is my first fanfic and I'd like to know if I should bother wasting my time writing, or if I suck so bad I should throw in the towel. points to the bottom left hand corner See that? Isn't it pretty? I wonder what would happen if you clicked it...