DISCLAIMER: I own neither the show nor the characters of the Gilmore Girls. Just the messed up way in which I am portraying them.
AN: I was out of town for a while. I kept rereading the last chapter, to get some inspiration, but none came. Alas, I am making myself get inspired, as I hate to go so long without updates for stories.
There was an overload of paperwork on her desk, so much that she feared it was actually multiplying of its own powers and therefore would never go down in volume. The fact that subscriptions were up and she'd hired on three new writers and had that much more editing and restructuring to do weighed on her as if the paper were on her shoulders instead of her desk. One article, however, wasn't on her on her desk. She made a face and hovered a hand over the telephone receiver. Thinking twice, she ran her fingers along the top of the phone. Shaking her head, making the executive decision that she was used to having to make, she picked up the receiver and dialed quickly.
"Jess' Books," came the voice.
"Jess, hey. It's me," she said, sounding she realized too much like the girlfriend than the boss she was calling as.
"Hey, I found that book you wanted," he began.
"Uh, this isn't a personal call," she interrupted.
"Oh, right, about the article--," he began.
"Look, Jess, I don't want excuses, the article was due and I have no article," she explained.
"I'll have it to you tonight, I just," he started, trying to sigh audibly.
"No, Jess. You have a deadline, like everyone else here. I need the article by the deadline to get it in its place on time. If it's late, it doesn't go in, and I have empty space," she said, her tone now a bit irate.
"So, get Ms. Patty to drone on about the latest phone calls she's picked up over her party line," he said sardonically.
"I'm not kidding, Jess," she warned.
"I'm not either, this is Stars Hollow, not New York," he pointed out.
"Fine, whatever, get me the article and I'll spend a couple of extra nights fitting it in. Hope you didn't want to make plans this weekend," she spit out.
"Fine," he rolled his eyes and let out a long breath as the dial tone met his ear. She'd hung up on him. 'Perfect,' he thought to himself as he put the phone down hard enough to make patrons in the store turn and stare. 'Just perfect.'
The Boom, she heard Sookie's voice in her head, but she pushed it out of the way. It had been going perfectly with them. They weren't too serious, but serious enough—they had this unscheduled system for sleeping over when appropriate and giving each other their space—but she had to put work first. . .right?
Lorelai avoided Tristan in the halls all week long. Not that it was difficult to do, as he seemed to be nowhere in sight. She heard rumblings that he was in fact there, but she saw neither hide nor hair of him.
She had seen Luke this week—which was much worse than not seeing Tristan. He didn't seem to care that they weren't speaking as he went about his normal routine. He worked in the bookstore some evenings; he was to be seen running amid the other track team members through town on their daily practices. She sat on the gazebo today, pretending to be reading despite the chilly pre-Halloween weather all bundled up in her warm jacket. She wondered how long the track season could go on—she wasn't really up on what sports took place in what seasons. She had no interest to know when it was football vs. basketball season. For all she cared, they could go on simultaneously. But her attention was definitely on Luke as he rounded the turn from Peach, making yet another lap past the high school. She was almost surprised when he looked up and right at her, though she wasn't exactly hiding out in the middle of town. She held his gaze for a moment, but after she was unsuccessful in deciphering anything from his eyes, she looked down and focused on her history book.
"Honey, if it's bugging you that much, just go talk to the boy," came the drawling voice from behind her. Lorelai half turned in her seat to look at Ms. Patty.
"What are you talking about?" she faked coy.
"Obviously you've had a bit of a lover's spat?" she raised an eyebrow as she moved around to join Lorelai on the gazebo.
"It's sort of complicated—I just don't know what to do about it," she sighed, leaning back against the bench and letting her head fall against the top rim of the seat.
"Well, luckily for you, honey, I do," Ms. Patty smiled at her knowingly and patted her hand.
Though Rory felt she was drowning in paperwork, she was actually a little relieved—more work meant she had to stay until she finished. She didn't have to deal with running into Jess or trying to give her daughter relationship advice when she herself needed just that. Or maybe she was past the need for advice. She kept putting up this wall between them, or finding invisible ones she couldn't anticipate. She looked up to see a smiling Sookie standing in the doorway to her office.
"Hey, it's late!" her friend informed her, just incase she'd not realized she was the only one left this evening. It wouldn't have been the first time Rory's overzealous work ethic had caused her tunnel vision.
"I know, I just have a lot of stuff to get done. I don't even know where it all came from," she shook her head, looking at her desk.
"You okay?" Sookie asked, knowing her friend's demeanor was off kilt some how.
"It's the boom," she said, looking for a little sympathy from Sookie.
"The boom? Ohh, the boom," she said knowingly. "What happened?"
Rory shook her head and it landed on top of her folded arms. "His article was late and I wasn't letting him talk. . . I was mean about it, and I'm not a mean person—that person that talked to him on the phone earlier wasn't me, Sook, I have no idea what happened."
"Well, obviously work is stressing you out a bit," she said soothingly.
"Yeah, but I took it out on him. On Jess, Sookie. I love Jess."
Sookie smiled, knowing Rory had said that without thinking. The most honest kind of feelings came through that way.
"Have you told him that?" she asked gently.
"No," she groaned, "And now I might never get the chance to," she bit her lip.
"Talk to him, honey. Get out of this office of craziness and go over there."
"He wouldn't let me in," she countered.
"That's not true. He always lets you in," Sookie raised a skeptical eyebrow.
"How are things with Jackson?"
"Wow, that was the worst segue ever," Sookie giggled.
"Look, I just can't deal with this, not tonight. I just need to work and clear my head. I'll give you a call tomorrow, okay?" she gave her friend a pleading look.
Sookie knew Rory was about to crack, and probably just did need some perspective and time alone. She nodded and told her to call anytime day or night. As she left the office, Rory got back to work and lost herself, trying not to think about the mess that was her love life.
Lorelai stood inside the dance studio, hoping this would work. Luke was sort of freaked out by Ms. Patty and he didn't think that town activities were fun, but he was the most helpful and conscientious person she had ever met. He was almost incapable of not helping people out when they asked him. This had to work, she told herself as she sat on the yoga mats waiting.
"Oh, Luke, honey, could you come over here for a moment?" Ms. Patty saw Luke coming from the high school with his duffel bag slung over his shoulder. He'd obviously just showered and changed out of his running wear into jeans and a couple of t-shirts, one being long sleeved.
Luke gave the older woman a strange look, but abided her request. She was standing out front of her dance studio, puffing on a long filter attached to a cigarette, like the old movie actresses used to smoke. She did this regularly, even when her door was wide open and she was teaching yoga classes of all things.
"I was wondering if you could do me a bit of a favor?"
"What do you need?" he offered without hearing the full story.
"Well, see, I promised to give a young girl some dance lessons, but I realized that I need a male lead to properly teach her the steps. You see, I can teach men by showing them, but I've just never been good at standing in for men," she smiled at him the way only Ms. Patty could—admiringly and slightly leering. "Would you be a doll and let me use you for a few minutes?"
He scratched his head and looked longingly towards the bookstore, towards safety from this weirdo town of nut-jobs.
"I don't really dance," he told her, trying to get her to move on to the next poor sap that happened by the studio.
"Oh, honey, that's fine. It'll just be a few minutes, and I can work wonders for anyone," she said, which at long last got him to nod in agreement and she opened the door to let him into the studio.
Thoughts of who the 'young girl' was he'd have to dance with hadn't really yet entered his mind when his eyes fell on Lorelai, now standing up from a stack of yoga mats. He heard the door latch and the music begin. The sounds of 30s dance music filled the air, and Ms. Patty's voice telling them to assume a proper dancing position made the two teens move to the center of the room.
"So, you need to learn to dance?" he raised an eyebrow.
"Oh, yeah, well, there's this formal at school," she lied.
"And you don't know how to dance?" he knew she was lying—it'd been in this very spot that she herself had taught him to dance. She said she'd had years of dance instruction with Ms. Patty herself.
"She's teaching me something new," she covered, knowing full well that his mind was back on the night of the snowstorm.
"I see," he said, moving his arm around her waist, taking his other hand to hold hers. She took a deep breath, and they began to move the way Ms. Patty was calling at them to, and soon she was silent as they moved in time to the music. She smiled before slipping out the door to let Lorelai take over the rest of the conversation.
"You're really good at this," she said, commenting on his dancing as he continued to lead her to the music.
"I should get going. You obviously have the hang of this," he said, but didn't stop moving with her.
"Can you stay?" she said hopefully.
"Why, Lorelai? So you can perfect this dance move to use with another guy?" he said a little more bitingly than he'd intended. He was attempting until now to act as if he didn't care what she did, or who she did it with.
She felt the dig, but put it aside. She knew he was angry with her, or else they would still be dating. She'd hurt him, and she had to swallow his remarks if she wanted him back.
"Because I like being with you. I want to be with you right now, and this weekend, next week—and yes, perhaps I was too stupid to realize it before, but you're the only guy I want to be with. So I want you to stay and dance with me so we can go to my prom and your prom and any other social occasion together and show everyone else up," she rambled on, hoping he was getting her gist as she went. The fact that they'd stopped moving altogether registered in her brain as her mouth stopped moving as well. She looked into his eyes, which were boring into hers, and waited for him to say anything.
"Well?" she said, feeling more insecure by the moment as he just looked at her.
"Well, what?" he managed. To say he was speechless at her little rant was accurate. He imagined she'd moved on. He'd seen her watching him around town, but he hadn't let himself think about it. She hadn't said anything to him at all at this point. The fact that she was building up courage and pulling Ms. Patty in to help her hadn't ever crossed his mind, frankly.
"What do you think?"
"I think I'm really relieved that you made up your mind," he said, regaining contact with her by slipping his arms back around her waist.
"Oh, well, good," she said softly, falling against him as he kissed her happily.
She must have fallen asleep at some point in the evening. Suddenly she was groggily aware of another presence in the room, but her head felt heavy and there were papers stuck to the side of her face that was still resting atop her desk. As her eyes focused and she managed to lift her head upwards, pulling the stray papers off of her face, she realized it was Jess standing there watching her sleep.
"God, make a noise," she said, feeling foolish at the situation.
"Sorry, I just let myself in. Do you always sleep on your desk like this?" he asked, letting his amusement show through, though he knew it would just embarrass her more than she already was.
"What are you doing here?"
He stepped forward, and moved into one of the chairs that sat facing her desk.
"Well, that's an excellent question," he said, then took a pause.
"Is it one you're going to answer?" she asked, and despite being sorry for her prior behavior, she wasn't in the mood to beat around the bush. If he was going to break it off for good, she wished he'd just get to it.
"Patience, patience," he chastised, but then continued, "I was thinking about our earlier phone conversation after the lunch rush, and at first I was pissed. I was pissed at myself for missing the deadline; I was pissed at you for reacting like you did. I thought I'd finish it up real quick and drop it off here tonight."
She nodded, wondering why he wouldn't just give her the article and give her the bad news. But instead, he continued talking.
"Then I got to thinking that your job is very stressful and I was adding to that stress—which is something you just shouldn't do in a relationship. When you're with me, I want you to be relaxing and being with me—not worrying about some deadline and how you'll have to kill yourself to work things in."
He was getting to it now, she was sure. He was making this way too drawn out, she was sure he was enjoying it solely because of how she'd acted earlier. She'd make a voodoo doll for him when she got home.
"So, I decided that I wasn't going to finish the article."
"What?" panic filled her. The ultimate revenge, he was going to give her a stroke.
"Now, I'm not finished," he held his hands up in defense of her shock and he was sure her immediate worry as to what would fill that space in the paper. "I did bring you something to print in its place," he smiled and pulled something from his back pocket. He placed it on the desk in front of her and watched as she unfolded and read it through.
"Jess," she breathed, and looked up at him. He was smiling, still seated across from her.
"So, can you print it?"
"I. . . are you serious?" she asked, looking from the article to him then back again.
He stood up, and moved around her desk. She looked up at him and pulled her chair back from her desk to reveal that she'd lost her shoes and pantyhose some time ago to get more comfortable as she worked. He knelt down in front of her, swiveling the chair to get her directly in front of him. He pulled out a box from his jacket and took her hand.
"I love you. I know we haven't said that yet, I was sort of thinking that it was common knowledge, but I realized today that even though this was just a stupid fight that couples have—it may seem worse since we haven't spoken these things to each other. I was then pissed at myself that I hadn't said it, and I mean it very much. I love you and I want to marry you. Will you marry me?"
It felt as if his words had rushed at her, she drank them in and felt as tears collected just enough to well up in her eyes but not enough to fall.
"I love you, too," she said happily, looking down at him. He was still on his knees in front of her, with a now opened ring box in one hand.
She nodded and moved to kneel in front of him behind her desk. "Yes, I'll marry you, God, YES!" she exclaimed, throwing her arms around him after he put the ring on her finger.
She kissed him in celebration of their new commitment, the joy of finally hearing him say those three little words to her. Her head swam with the reactions of people that she loved; Lorelai, Sookie, her parents, the town. Perhaps she'd just let them read the engagement announcement Jess had so graciously typed up for her to print in the next issue of the paper.
AN: Okay. Happy endings all around. This story was so fun to write, and let me tell you, very hard to remember to type bookstore instead of diner, lol. But thank you to all of you who kept up with it, and gave feedback.