Sadie looked at Jess closely.

"You don't look good, my friend."

"I don't feel good."

"Let's get you over to Bender's."

"No tequila?"

Sadie smiled and ran a hand through his messy hair. "There are steps that you take, Mr. Mariano, in regard to a shitty day. Firstly you must be mad as hell. Did you break something on your way over here?"

He smirked a little. "I tripped a speed walker."

"Progress. Secondly, you need to have the wise and helpful advice of friends. Katie and Bender and myself love you very much and are good with the dispensing of advice. Though Bender might not be tonight." She looked thoughtful. "He being depressed himself, and all."

"Depressed?"

"Little Miss Ohio called right after I got back. Turns out she's not as into the whole finding-your-soul-mate thing and told him not to waste his time. Short and not-so sweet." She considered it for a moment. "Kind of a bitch of a break-up, actually."

"Geez."

"I know. Where was I? Oh yes. Third step, you must get piss drunk. Okay?"

"Sure."

"Let's go then, Romeo."


Lorelai handed Rory another cup of coffee and seated herself next to her on the couch. "So...what.. happened, exactly, with Jess?""

"He decided to stay, I decided to leave. End of story, that's it." Rory sighed and tugged at her sleeves. Lorelai watched her closely.

"Uh huh."

"I just...when he comes home, I'll be here. No biggie."

"Mm." Lorelai nodded, then scooted closer to Rory and put her arm around her.


"You are in a funk, my friend. You are living in Funky Town with every member of Lipps Inc. and they are bashing your head in with a cinder block. Attached to a drain pipe."

Jess looked up at Bender.

"Is this you trying to cheer me up?"

"Never."

Katie walked in holding a four bottles.

"I've got Fanta." She announced. "Sadie will be in in a minute. She's freshening up."

"She can't freshen up." Bender flashed a grin at Sadie walking through the door. "She's just too damn dirty."

"Yuk it up, farmboy."

His grin faltered, but was back in place before anyone could say anything. "Got out of that gig, didn't I? No sheep for me, thanks. I prefer sea lions."

Katie tilted her head. "I'm not sure we have sea lions around here."

"Fine. Pelicans, whatever."

Jess muttered, "I think it should be made illegal for you to have sex with anything. God forbid you pass that hair onto someone else."

Katie laughed. "Can you imagine a pelican with his fro?"

"I've got the family portrait in my head." Sadie smiled, then turned to Jess, an exaggerated pout on her lips.

"Poor baby. Look at you wallow."

He groaned and rolled over so she saw only his back.

"I'm not wallowing."

Shooting a look at Katie, Sadie climbed over him and laid down so she could look at his face. "It's just one girl, Jess. There are lots of other chicks in the sea."

"I think that's fish, Sadie."

"You're not Bender. You don't screw fish. Now I'm serious. No more wallow. Look at Bender! He just got dumped at he's fine!"

Jess craned his neck to see him. "He's on his eighth Fanta. He's obviously not in the right."

"Fine, forget Bender. Think about you. You're a great guy. Any girl would be lucky to have you, and crazy to give you up." She gazed at him lovingly, but Jess only sighed.

"I have to get back home. Need to make dinner for Lily."

"What about Jimmy? He can heat up soup in a can."

"Jimmy's across town. Doing..something. I think talking to Sasha's parents."

"Ah." Sadie looked at her toes. "Well, okay, I guess we'll...see you later then."

As Jess was heading out the door, Bender scrambled to his feet. "Wait, man- I'm gonna walk home with you."

Jess raised an eyebrow. "We're in your basement, man."

"Yeah, but I..." he scratched the back of his neck and groped for words. "I just..."

Jess nodded. Bender didn't want to be around two perky girls when he'd just been dumped, just like him.

Had he been dumped? She hadn't labeled it.

"Yeah."

The two walked through the door wordlessly, and Sadie turned to Katie with a grin on her face.

"I'm so happy Jess is back." Sadie hopped up from her seat on the floor, and waltzed into the adjoining room, singing out that she was going to get some popcorn, and did Katie want any?

Katie called out that no, she was good, then turned back to look at the door the boys had so recently left through, feeling suddenly like a very bad friend.


"She just dumped you? Like that?"

Bender nodded and ran a hand through his hair as best he could. "Said the long distance thing wasn't working out. Which is too fucking stupid cause I was supposed to move there today." He kicked a soda can hard and watched it tumble across the pavement.

"Women." He grumbled.

Jess nodded and glanced at Bender, wishing more than anything that Rory was there.

"So what happened to yours? Went home?"

"Yeah." Jess sighed. "I'm thinking of going back there this week. I kinda miss it, you know? And Lily and Jimmy will be okay, I guess. Not like I'm doing a lot to help anyway."

"You're here. I think that's good enough for them."

"It's creepy when you're sensitive."

"It's creepy when you sing karaoke, you don't see me raggin' on you."

"My apologies." Jess smirked.

"You should go back there today."

Jess looked at him. "What do you mean?"

"I mean, you should fly back there today. Get a plane ticket. Go see your girlfriend."

"But-"

"No buts, man. You just gotta go for it. Balls to the wall. Doing it your way. Going...for the..ah. Hell's bells. I'm tapped."

Jess looked at him. "You are the most interesting sober person I've ever met."

Bender smiled serenely and draped an arm around Jess's shoulders.

"Let's go get shit-faced."

"Far be it from me to deny a local."


Jess was drunk. Jess was very very very very drunk. And he was eyeing a seagull.

No wait.

That was a desk lamp.

Or...no, no, it was definitely a desk lamp.

"Jess."

Momentarily pulled away from his study of the desk lamp, he swivelled his head to the left.

"Yes?"

"Other way, man."

Swivel to the right. Oh. Hello there, Bender. Jess snickered at his inner monologue. Bender wasn't even a real name.

"Your hair looks really fucked up."

Jess was intrigued and propped himself on the bureau to glance in the mirror. It looked normal.

"It is pretty fucked up." He agreed anyway. Flopping back to the floor, Jess concentrated on a bottle of...something.

"Hey."

"Hey."

"You know...what we should do?"

Bender examined a paint splotch on the carpet. "What."

"We should buy a plane ticket to Connecticut."

"What's in Connecticut?"

Jess sighed, already bored with voicing his idea, and wanting to get back to whatever was in the nearly empty bottle.

"Rory. Luke." He chuckled. "Taylor."

"Is Taylor your girlfriend?"

Jess snorted. "He's somebody's girlfriend."

"I don't get it."

"What's IN this stuff?"

"Let's go get the ticket."

"The what?"

"The ticket."

"To where?"

"Connecticut."

"Oh." Jess blinked. "Now?"

"Yes, now." Bender stumbled to his feet and, thrusting his arm out majestically, pointed to the door. "To the Bender-Mobile!"

Jess laid back on the floor. "Are you going to Connecticut, too?"

Bender lowered his arm and thought for a moment. "Yes, I think so."

"Why?"

"So you won't be bored on the flight. And, you know." He leaned on the doorframe. "I don't think I can take anymore cheering up from Sadie."

Bender looked somber for a moment, then grinned and started singing (off-key) the words to "Sadie, Sadie".

Jess closed his eyes tightly. "Jesus. You are such a fruit."

Refusing to be deterred, Bender dragged Jess to his feet. "Come along, now. We have some money. Go get your piggy bank."

A moment passed before Jess informed him he didn't have a piggy bank. Bender waved it off.

"Let's go. We can drive."

"We can barely walk in a straight line."

"Then it's a good thing we're not walking, isn't it?"


"You want to do what?" Katie whispered into her phone, peeking around the corner at Sadie who was popping gummy bears in her mouth, eyes trained on the TV screen.

"She's not gettin' it, bud." Bender passed the phone to Jess, then snorted.

"Heh. Bud."

Jess rolled his eyes and put the phone to his ear.

"Katie?"

"Are you two DRUNK?"

"No." He grinned.. "We are very very..."

"Sober." Bender supplied.

"Sober."

"I could not believe you less." Katie sighed.

"We need a ride." Agitated, Jess looked at Bender who was poking him urgently in the shoulder, rubbing the thumb and index finger of his other hand together.

"And money."

"A ride and money. For tickets to Conneticut, yes?"

"Yes."

"To see your...girlfriend?"

"Yes."

"And Bender is going because...?"

"It's Bender."

"Right. Right." Another sigh, and Jess mentally crossed his fingers.

"You are going to owe me so bad."

Jess' face erupted into a grin. "We know."

Bender looked at him excitedly. Jess nodded, and Bender gave him two thumbs up.

"Well, get your butt outside. I'll be there in fifteen. Jimmy's house, right?"

"Yep."

"You suck, and I hope you know that."

"Well aware."

Jess heard the dial tone and hung up.

"Dude."

He looked at the two Benders, blinked, and focused again on the one Bender that was speaking.

"We need some pretzels or something."


"Alright you two, you owe me so much when you get your sorry butts back here."

"We know." Jess wavered on his feet. Last night, when Katie had arrived at Jimmy's, she had deemed them unfit for air travel and demanded they sleep it off. Bender put up an impressive argument, saying that Jess would back out of this without the influence of alcohol. Jess had fallen asleep on the arm of the couch. Bender relented after Katie offered to flash him the next day. He had forgotten about said agreement the following morning, when he tumbled into the kitchen pleading caffeine withdrawal, scaring the hell out of Lily and sending the dogs into a barking frenzy.

Last night was not the drunkest Jess had ever been, but that didn't mean the headache he was currently experiencing was any less disastrous. Bender seemed perfectly fine after the large cup of coffee he'd had for breakfast. The coffee addiction reminded Jess of Rory, which was unsurprising, as everything reminded him of her. He was also unsurprised to realize that Bender was right, he had lost most of his nerve since last night, and wanted desperately to not leave and avoid screwing up his and Rory's relationship even more. But Katie had already paid for the ticket and had informed him that she'd be damned if he was going to let that go to waste.

"Goodbye, darling." Bender said, before bending and kissing Katie on the cheek. "We shall phone you."

"You'd best." Katie smiled and walked over to Jess. "Come here, crazy." Wrapping her arms around him, she kissed him quickly on the cheek, blushing slightly as she did so. She'd never kissed him before, and could tell he was a little surprised, but his eyes were kind and she felt the blush recede.

"Say hi to Rory for me."

"I will." Jess scratched the side of his nose, and then voiced a question that had been bugging him.

"Where's Sadie?"

Katie looked almost caught off-guard. "Home."

"She probably knew she'd break down if she had to watch this beautiful ass board a plane to the other side of a country." Bender put on an expression of casual arrogance.

"Yeah. I'd cry if I had to look at your ass, too." Jess smirked before turning back to Katie.

"She didn't want to say bye?"

"Well, she doesn't..." Katie sighed. "I'm going to be frank, here."

"Great. I'll be Ted." Katie shot a glare at Bender, who widened his eyes and put up his hands in defeat.

"I don't think Sadie would...be too happy you're leaving."

"And you're, what, gonna throw a parade?"

"I love parades."

Katie ignored Bender and smoothed invisible wrinkles from her skirt. "I just think Sadie's still hung up on you and she doesn't really like Rory cause you're dating her and...she'd...I don't know, she'd probably try and convince you to stay. And I think you should go. Cause it's romantic and...stuff." Worried she'd said to much, Katie shoved her hands in her pockets while Jess processed everything.

"I-"

The voice overhead suddenly informed them that their flight was boarding now.

Bender grabbed his backpack. "That's us. C'mon, hot stuff."

"Call me that one more time-"

"Oo, is that a request or a demand?" Fluttering his eyelashes, Bender started walking backwards toward the gate. "I know you like it rough but-"He was cut off when he ran into a very tall man with very broad shoulders and a very bushy mustache who looked very up for kicking Bender's ass. Jess smirked and watched Bender apologizing a mile a minute briefly before turning back to Katie.

"So I guess this is it."

She gave him a half-smile. "You sound like this is the last time I'll ever see you."

"God, no. I left half my books here." He smirked before heading towards the gate. Katie watched them walk through the door and then felt the phone in her pocket vibrate. Reading it, she bit her lip.

Sadie.

Katie didn't pick up, and exited the airport.


It was a long plane ride. Bender flirted with a stewardess who was interested only in Jess. Bender, dejected, dumped his meal in Jess's lap and pouted in the corner.

This resulted in several bruises for Bender. Jess did not enjoy the whole food-dumping theme he'd experienced both to and from California.

When they arrived, they hailed a cab. Bender flirted with the cab driver.

She asked Jess if he wanted to ride up front with her.

Bender slouched sullenly in the back, nudging Jess with his knee periodically and dodging his aggravated smacks.

Jess realized he very much never wanted to travel again with Bender.


There was someone knocking.

There was someone knocking at the stupid diner door.

And if it was Kirk...

Luke grunted and rolled over. The knocking persisted. With a sudden burst of annoyance, Luke tossed the covers off and stood on the floor, rubbing his eyes and mumbling curses.

The clock read 4:50. Which was not so bad, for him at least. But he wanted to sleep. Lorelai had stayed past closing time, which he had enjoyed, but he had felt completely unhelpful as she rambled on about Rory's current depressed state.

About two weeks away from being Annie Wilkes, swear to God, Lorelai had sighed before downing her coffee. Luke had offered cliche comforts, mentally kicking himself cause he was so bad at this.

But back to the present. And presently, there was some jackass banging on his door. And if it was Kirk needing (and here Luke shuddered) romantic advice or Taylor demanding something stupid about personalized mugs or Arbor Day decorations, he was most definitely going to go postal.

But it was neither Kirk nor Taylor.

It was Jess.

And a boy with an afro.


Jess waited patiently as he saw Luke's eyes widen, then watched as he walked over to the door, unlocking it.

"Jess."

"Luke."

There was a second of silence before a smile spread across Luke's tired face. "Welcome home." He yawned before nodding at Bender. "Now start explaining."


"...So we decided to come here."

Luke nodded and sipped his tea, eyeing Bender curiously. Bender's head was currently bouncing up and down just slightly as he surveyed the diner and poked at the leftovers Luke had supplied.

"But if we could stay just for the night, that'd be...really good. We just haven't had much time to get a hotel."

"Huh? Oh yeah. Yeah, the night's fine." Luke brought his cup to his lips, but then put it back down.

"Have you talked to..."

Jess looked at the counter top as Luke trailed off. "Rory?"

He nodded, and Jess rubbed the back of his neck. "Not yet. I was gonna go by tomorrow."

"Good. Good." Luke nodded agreeably. "I think she's missed you."

Jess smirked. "I think I missed her, too."

"What the hell are you doing?"

This was directed at Bender, who was so surprised that someone was talking to him that the spoon dropped from his nose where it had been balancing.

"A trick."

"He'd better not snore." Luke glared threateningly at him.

Jess put his head in his hands and rested on the counter.

Long, long day.


Rory woke up, rolled over, and smacked her alarm clock. The first three attempts were futile, but on the fourth she succeeded in shutting it up.

Good riddance.

She opened one eye slowly.

So bright.

Peering at the clock, she read the time. 9:00.

And absolutely nothing to do for the whole day.

She missed Jess.

Jess and his talking and his non-talking and his very talented hands and very talented mouth.

Throwing an arm over her eyes, she groaned.

She refused to let herself waste away because her boyfriend

(was he still her boyfriend?)

was on the other side of the country.

So today would be a non-wallow day. It would, in fact, involve activities other than wallowing. Activities like...

She couldn't think of anything she'd want to do. Or, an even more important obstacle, who to do nothing with.

Eyeing her phone, she decisively propped herself on her elbow, picked up the receiver, and dialed.


The first thing Jess saw when he woke up was Bender's feet.

The first thing Jess thought when he woke up was Oh. dear. God.

"Bender!" He growled and shoved the feet as far away from his face as possible, resulting in Bender falling off the single bed with a satisfactory thump.

"The hell?" he muttered sleepily from his seat on the floor.

Jess nestled himself deeper under the covers.

"I don't know where your feet have been. But I know it's no where good."

Sulking, Bender pulled himself up and sat on the corner of the bed. "I'm hungry."

"You're always hungry. You're like that guy...with the..." Jess yawned, "the stomach."

Bender snickered. "Your insults are seriously lacking in the morning."

Jess didn't respond. Peeved, Bender shoved him. "Wake up!"

"Touch me again and I'll rip your arm off."

"Oo, zing. Maybe the insults are dulled, but the anger is in fine form."

Grumbling unintelligibly, Jess pulled a pillow over his head in a desperate attempt to keep Bender's voice at bay.

"What time is it?"

No response. Bender looked around for a clock, finding one on the bedside table. 11:56. His stomach whimpered.

"Must...consume...something." He staggered towards the fridge and, upon flinging it open, found only orange juice(With pulp! he groaned)and something that looked like cheese. Or yogurt. Or sewage.

Then he remembered they were in a diner.

Well. Above one.

And diners have food. The good ones do, anyhow.

So Bender stumbled downstairs, revealing his half dressed, half-awake self to a crowd of diners. The room went still.


Lorelai had a fork-ful of pancake halfway to her mouth when a shirtless boy with a large mass of red hair appeared from behind the curtain.

Everyone immediately stopped talking and Luke, making the rounds with the coffee pot, looked up at the sudden quiet.

"What- oh, geez!"

The boy grinned and waved at everyone. Miss Patty smiled invitingly, and waved him over to the table she was sharing with Babette.

"What's your name, sugar?"

"B-"

"Upstairs. Up up up." Luke grabbed the boy's shoulder and began pulling him in the direction of the curtain. The diner was now buzzing.

Lorelai was openly staring at Luke as he shoved the kid through the doorway and told him to stay upstairs or he'd (and here he whispered something, making Lorelai curious and making the boy's face blanch before he hurried out of sight). Aggravated, Luke turned towards the enthralled crowd and told them, in no uncertain terms, that there was nothing to see here.

Filling Lorelai's cup back up, he noticed her mouth slightly agape.

"What?"

She laughed slightly as she spoke. "What was that? You got something to tell me Lucas? Got a weird fetish that we really probably don't want to know about?"

Aggravated, Luke started scrubbing the counter with a rag.

"He's this idiot kid that came back with Jess-"

"Whoa whoa." Lorelai put her hand on his, effectively stopping the scrubbing.

"Jess is back?"

Luke, a little preoccupied with Lorelai's hand touching his, could only nod.

"Oh my God."

"What?"

"I just..." Lorelai bit her lip. "I should tell Rory."

"She'll be fine. And Jess wanted to surprise her anyway, I think."

"Yeah, but you don't-"

The bell above the door chimed, and they both looked up just in time to see Jess exiting.

"How the hell does he just get in and out without me noticing?" Luke grumbled. "Outside." He added, seeing that Lorelai had whipped her cell phone out of her purse.

"Hold on."

Luke only pointed to the door. Lorelai, rolling her eyes, slid off her seat.

Pick up pick up pick up.


Jess, against his better judgement, had left Bender at the apartment. He was sure Luke would be mad, or that Bender would set the place on fire or something, but he wasn't about to bring Bender along for this.

This.

It hadn't been that long since he'd seen Rory. It'd been an incredibly short period, really. He'd certainly gone without her longer. But it felt like forever, especially with their last conversation, leaving their relationship completely ambiguous and confusing the hell out of him. But that didn't matter right now, because in about five minutes he was going to see her again.

Reaching her house, he decided (in a little burst of nostalgia) to go through her window, if it was open. He'd done this several times when they had just started dating. It had first started off as a joke, a reminder from their first meeting when he'd proposed ditching, but she had thought it was "sweet" (a word he'd protested to at the time), so he'd done it whenever the mood struck. As an added bonus, he got to avoid Lorelai.

The window was open when he arrived, which didn't really surprise him-it was summer after all.

He slipped in and was mildly disappointed that she wasn't there. But no matter. It'd be more of a surprise. Then he realized, hell. She might not be here at all. She could be in Hartford for all he knew. Whatever. He'd wait. It was either that, or return to the diner and Bender and his incessant chatter (he liked Bender, he really did, but the guy would not shut up. It was like Rory on a rambling spree, but without the attractive face to look at it just got tiring.) He sat there for about two minutes before he noticed his foot was tapping nervously against the carpet and quickly stopped.

Jess Mariano does not fidget, no matter the circumstances, thank you very much.

And it was while he was commanding himself not to fidget that he heard something from the kitchen. Pushing himself up from the bedhe had his hand on the doorknob when he heard voices.

Voices.

Plural.

Rory and...

What the hell?


Their heads whipped around when the door to Rory's room opened.

Rory's mouth dropped open, and she sputtered to form a word. "Jess?"

He just stared at her, then turned his gaze to Dean.

A/N: Suspense!

Okay, first off, man am I sorry it took so long for an update. Lack of both writing ability and ideas slowed the process. So those of you who are actually still reading this (if..there ARE any) thanks for sticking around. Also thank you loads for the reviews- they made my day(s)! Now, onto the chapter...I hope you liked it. It's not my favorite, but I think I got the point across. And don't be mad that Dean's back (though I loathe him terribly). I just thought I had to, you know, address that relationship. After all, they're still friends at this point, I think. Oh, and if there's any weirdness in the time structure...my apologies. I've never been very good at that. But even if it's completely off, it's not really essential to the story anyway. But um...yes. That's pretty much it. I hope you liked it, and I hope you'll drop me a line. Or a review. Whichever you please. Thanks again! Also- if there are no page breaks and the whole thing looks like a massive paragraph...I am SO sorry. I've been battling with the format but it keeps coming out evil. Sorry if it's hard to read