I sighed as the bell jingled overhead before walking across the tile floor to the counter. The murmurs of the chatter happening around me helped not to dull the headache that was slowly moving to the side of my head.

"Coffee?" A noncommittal voice asked from in front of me.

I slowly lifted my head from my hand and let it run over the plain black tee-shirt that covered the broad chest before lifting my eyes into the guarded brown eyes of none other than Jess Mariano.

"Is that a rhetorical question?" I asked with a raise of my eyebrow.

"Metaphorically speaking…" He began but I cut him off with a simple groan.

He lifted the side of his mouth in a smirk before pouring the steaming liquid into the pigeon-blue coffee mug that he grabbed behind himself and placed in front of me. I picked it up and instead of savoring the delectable smell; I felt my throat close up and about gagged on the aroma.

"That look does wonders for your appeal." Jess joked lightly with a bit of laughter in his voice.

I groaned once more and set the mug down before sliding it back in his direction.

"Not the intended reaction" He said curiously.

I nodded my head against my arms since I had folded them over my now throbbing my head.

"Can I just have some juice instead please?" I asked muffled from my arms.

When he didn't answer I lifted my head and watched him pour me some orange juice before going off to take another order. I laid my head down on the cool table and felt my stomach churn before a voice sounded loudly throughout the diner,


I lifted my head at the familiar voice and saw my mom swiftly walked towards me with her finger pointed at me.

"Me?" I asked meekly.

"You took my boots I wanted to wear today." She said and slid onto the stool next to me.

I looked down at my feet and back up before looking at her blankly. She tapped her mug on the counter before Jess sighed and poured some coffee in the empty mug and began to wipe down the counters.

"Give them back." She demanded after she had taken a sip.

"What?" I asked incredulously.

"I need those for the meeting I have with some hoity-toity clients today."

"Are you actually telling me to take off the shoes that are at the moment on my feet and give them to you so you can impress clients you don't even get along with?"

"I've got conflicts, deal with it." She said with a shrug.

"Well then what I am supposed to wear?" I asked confused and pressed a temple to my forehead.

"The shoes I've got on now." She said simply and waggled her foot at me to show the black pair of boots, almost identical to mine.

"Those look just like these ones." I said in protest.

"It's all about familiarity darling." She drawled in an English accent.
"What?" I asked once more.

"Those shoes know my feet! My feet know those shoes! I need the relationship the two have in order for me to function properly today." She said seriously.

When I looked at her with raised eyebrows she pouted and said,

"Please, for mommy?"

"But my feet are now warm and you're going to take away the chance of my feet and these shoes forming an everlasting relationship."

"Wickedness! You dare try to get your feet to climb higher on the boot ladder than mine? I spawned you!"

"You're not going to let this go are you?" I asked with a sigh.

"Nope, now give me!" She said excitedly and clapped her hands.

I hopped off the stool and bent down to the ground before slowly unzipping them and grabbing the boots in my mom's outstretched hands and we both put on the shoes. I stood up quickly and watched black dots block my vision and I swayed on the spot.

"Rory?" My mom asked concerned and stood up to stable me with a hand.

"I'm fine, just going through withdrawals at the sudden halt on my wearing those boots."

"You sure you're not getting sick again?" She asked and pressed her hand to my forehead.

"It was just a sore throat." I said casually.

Both of us didn't notice Jess watching me carefully from the side of the counter.

"Okay, well I've got to get to the inn so if you feel separation anxiety, you know where to find me." She said and grabbed her purse.

"I'll just send a postcard." I replied with a shrug and slumped down in my seat.

She kissed my forehead and said,

"If Luke comes out before you leave tell him I'll be back for coffee later this afternoon."

I nodded my head and waved goodbye before turning forward to see Jess watching me carefully.

"What?" I asked confused.

He shrugged his shoulders and continued drying the dishes while my stomach churned once more and I felt a heat slowly wash over me, causing me to sweat slightly. I groaned and covered my mouth before placing my forehead on the counter. After ten minutes of remaining silent and feeling like the aching in my muscles was slowly subsiding, I grabbed my bag and swiftly stood from the counter only to walk a few steps and feel my knees give out from underneath me.

"Oh boy." I whimpered and crumpled to the floor.

The diner went silent and chairs were heard scrapping against the floor while feet moved swiftly towards me.

"Rory?" I heard Jess ask concerned as he knelt down next to me.

I opened my eyes towards him wearily and felt him brushing some hair out of my face.

"I don't feel so good." I murmured and unknowingly pressed my cheek further into his hand.

He looked up and called out,

"Caesar! Tell Luke I'm taking my fifteen."

I felt disoriented as things began to blur together and saw Jess' face come back into view.

"Gravity, annoying thing isn't it?" He asked lightly causing me to smile slightly.

I felt him take my bag from underneath me and propped me up against his chest before easily pulling me up onto my feet while I felt all the blood drain from my face.

"I'm fine." I whispered and tried to walk but stumbled against him.

"C'mon." He said and began to lead me out of the diner.

"Where are we going?" I asked him confused.

"Back to your house." He answered easily.

"I need to get to school." I protested weakly.

He didn't reply and shuffled me out of the door while a cool blast of air hit my face, making my throat close up even more. I doubled over and felt him supporting me around the waist before I stood back up and leaned heavily against him. We took all of two steps when it felt like I was floating upwards and all the strength zapped out of me.

Jess caught me around the waist and I felt him dip down before picking me up in his arms and shifting me so that my head leaned comfortably against his neck.

"What are you doing?" I mumbled but made no move to get out of his grasp.

"If you haven't noticed, the action of walking seems to have left you." He responded and walked easily down the street with me in his arms.

I was slightly able to notice the many eyes staring at us curiously while he walked steadily towards my house. I must of fallen asleep since the next thing I knew Jess was softly saying my name.

"What's the matter?" I asked groggily.

"Where's the spare key?" He asked me.

"Turtle." I said.

"My first guess." He said sarcastically and felt him lean me against the wall before snatching up the key.

He opened up the door and swiftly picked me up once more before striding towards my bedroom and opening the doors.

"My mom…" I began but he shushed me by placing me on my bed.

"Already called her, she's on her way home right now."

I nodded my head and began shivering while sweating.

"Jess?" I asked softly.

He didn't reply but I knew he was listening and I said,

"Thank you."

I looked up and saw him looking at me intently before nodding his head. I coughed and gasped at the pain in my chest causing me to continue coughing and continue gasping until I was nearly in tears.

"Rory!" Jess said immediately and came next to my side before rubbing my back as I had shot up.

"It hurts." I whimpered and laid back down on the bed as he wiped my hair off my forehead.

"God, you're burning up." He said.

"I'm freezing." I replied and felt my muscles aching and contracting from my chills.

"I'll be right back."

I heard the distant sound of running water and soon felt a Luke-warm cloth being set on my forehead. He wiped my face with the wet cloth before wrapping the blankets tighter around me.

"RORY!" A voice shouted through the house.

I groaned and clutched my head before Jess shot up and called back softer,

"In here."

I looked at the doorway and saw my mom rushing towards me.

"What happened?" She immediately asked Jess.

"She just collapsed on the diner floor so I carried her back home." He explained with a shrug.

"Rory, honey, what's wrong?" She asked me like she used to when I got sick as a little girl.

"I don't know, my head's throbbing, and I'm freezing, my chest and muscles hurt." I said and closed my eyes.

"We need to get you to the doctor." She said and I distinctly saw her look up at Jess.

"What about that meeting?" I asked her.

She bit her lip and sighed before replying,

"I'll reschedule."

"No! Mom, you've been waiting for this meeting for eons. If Luke and Jess don't mind Jess taking a day from school, he can take me to the doctor."

"Rory…" She began but I said,

"Look, we'll call you from the doctor's office and if it's that bad then you can reschedule. Deal?"

She looked up at Jess who shrugged in indifference and smiled before nodding her head and kissing my forehead.

"Make sure to call me, alright? How are you going to get to the doctors?"

"I'll take Luke's truck." Jess chimed in.

I smiled softly as she squeezed his arm in gratitude before kissing her fingers and waving at me. I smiled and nodded my head before sitting up slowly.

"Just stay here, I'll be back in about ten minutes with the truck." He said and walked out of my room.

I laid my head back down on my sweat-soaked pillow and dozed off while waiting for him.


I opened my eyes tiredly and saw Jess sitting on my bed.

"Jess?" I asked confused.

"C'mon." He said and lifted me up in his arms before walking out and loading me in the truck.

"Was Luke mad?" I asked softly.

He started the engine up and shook his head before driving towards the doctor's office. He had to carry me inside since I was too weak to walk and filled out the forms with my guidance while we sat together in the waiting room and waited.

"I'm sorry you got dragged into all of this." I whispered from my spot curled up in the chair.

He shook his head and I looked across the way to see a girl my age sitting with her mom but eyeing Jess slightly. I bristled for some unknown reason before I heard a nurse call out,

"Rory Gilmore."

I lifted my head slightly and stood with the help of Jess before feeling my legs give out causing him to wrap his arm around my back and lift me up in his arms once more. I looked over and saw the envious look the girl was shooting me causing me to smile smuggle while Jess carried me behind the nurse.

"Just set her down and the doctor will be with you momentarily."

The doctor came in and swabbed the back of my throat, listened to me take deep breaths, took my blood pressure, looked at the back of my throat, felt my neck, and asked for my symptoms. By the time he had given the diagnosis, I was already asleep.

"Rory, you need to wake up."

I opened my eye and felt my breathing had quickened making the pain in my chest hurt even worse while my stomach was churning all over.

"I don't feel good." I mumbled and groaned.

"Well it's certifiable; the doc says you've got pneumonia."

"What!" I cried and regretted it as I went into another coughing fit of pain.

"Since I'm not family he couldn't give me any medication but the nurse did give me some tips on how to take your fever down."

I groaned and continued shivering while my head throbbed mercilessly.

"Which include?" I asked and looked over to see him eyeing me skeptically.

I raised an eyebrow at him and he replied,

"You've got to get in a tub of ice-cold water."

I laughed and shook my head before crossing my arms and saying sternly,

"Never going to happen."

Now here I sat in the bathroom as Jess filled it up with cold water and asked,

"How did you get me into this?"

"I agreed to share your pain." He grumbled.

I looked down and realized I was wearing a large blue shirt with some swimming shorts while Jess wore some of my dad's old shorts mom had kept and his undershirt.

"Misery loves company." I grumbled.

"Okay, c'mon." He said and extended his hand towards me.

I grudgingly let him pull me up before he lowered me into the water making me yelp and cling to his arm as the water froze my skin. I tried to claw my way out but he held me still and got in behind me. I heard him suck in a breath before he wrapped his arms around me causing me to go still. He sensed it and said,

"It's to support you so you don't go under until it's time. The nurse said that since your so weak it wouldn't be a good idea…" He began but I nodded my head and used his body heat to my advantage before pressing my back against his chest.

"It's so cold." I said between chattering teeth.

"That would be the point." He said sarcastically.

Goosebumps appeared up and down my flesh so I clung to his body tighter before I felt him shift to look at his watch.

"Okay, need to just relax, just twenty minutes." He told me and wrapped his arms tighter around me.

I unknowingly shifted deeper into his embrace, and closed my eyes.

"I'm glad you're here." I whispered, shocking the both of us.

He didn't respond as I reveled in my statement, realizing that he was sort of like my strength right now.

"Relax." He said and I realized I must have tensed at the thought for some reason.

I turned on my side and rested my head against his shoulder while curling my legs up underneath me, shivering slightly and coughing every now and then. By the time it was time to get out, I was so relaxed in his arms that I had fallen asleep. He helped me out of the bath and wrapped two towels tightly around me before helping me back to my room.

"Okay, are you going to be alright to change on your own?" He asked.

I managed to smile knowingly before he shut the door while I changed into my pajamas and brushed out my hair from my spot on my bed. I called for him and saw he had changed back into his clothes.

"I told Lorelei the diagnosis but told her I had everything under control so once her meeting is over with, she's coming back home."

I nodded my head and grimaced before sliding underneath the covers of my bed.

"You hungry?" He asked from the doorway.

I paled at the thought causing him to chuckle before he made to move but I called out his name.

"Will you…" I began but my face burned in embarrassment at what I wanted to ask him.

He raised his eyebrows curiously causing me to flush more but I continued on with,

"Whenever I'm sick, mom rubs my back…" I began but he remained starting at me.

I sighed, normally I'm not this needy but I was just feeling beyond crap and wanted my mom more than anything right now…along with some comfort.

"Will you rub my back?" I asked meekly.

He stared at me for a while before walking slowly towards me and climbed onto the bed next to me so we were facing each other. Without thinking I moved in closer to him so my face was pressed against his neck and I breathed in the calming scent of what was holy him.

"Rory?" He asked confused when I began breathing hard.

I shook my head and tried to hold back the gasp of pain that wanted to shoot out at the amount of pain radiating through my chest. I felt his hand on my back and slowly he began rubbing circles around my back causing me to relax slowly.

"You okay?" He asked when I continued to cough.

I nodded my head against his chest and curled my legs up underneath me so I was practically squished against him. He continued rubbing my back while I felt his arm come up around me and pull me closer to him when I began wheezing and tensing up at the pain.

"Relax, just breathe." He whispered and surprised me by kissing the top of my head.

I nodded my head once more and squeezed my eyes shut when my stomach began to go topsy-turvy once more. The effect he was having on me was almost instantaneous as I began to slowly melt in his arms and mold against him perfectly.

"Thank you Jess." I whispered.

He didn't respond but he didn't need to as I looked up at him and laid the side of my head down on his arm, just keeping soft eye-contact with him while he continued to rub my back before my eyes began to droop shut. I had never seen this side of Jess and it was causing me to shiver…in the good way.

"Why are you taking care of me?" I asked groggily.

"Shh, just sleep." He whispered and ran his fingers against my heated cheek.

I nuzzled my face into his chest and wrapped my arms around him, drawing from his strength before whispering,

"I like this."

"Being sick?" he asked confused.

I chuckled causing me to cough and clench my teeth in pain but replied,

"No, this…here with you."

I looked up and saw him smiling softly before he rubbed the pad of his thumb against my cheek.

It was sometime later when I heard in the distance the door slam shut and my mom call out my name. She came in to my room and her eyes widened in instant surprise at the scene.

"What is…?" She began but I shook my head.

"He was rubbing my back and we fell asleep." I whispered.

I saw her eyes soften some before she said quickly,

"I'm going to make you some soup, wake him up and tell him he can go home."

I nodded my head and turned back to Jess before lightly waking him up. He opened up his eyes and stared at me in question before I said softly,

"My mom's home, she says you can get back to the diner now."

He nodded his head but neither of us moved from this spot causing us to grin at each other.

"I should get going, I'll check in on you later." He said, his words warming me to the core.

I smiled brightly and nodded amid my chills. He drew his arm out from underneath me and I turned on my side to watch him grab his coat while I already began to feel cold from the loss of him. He walked over towards my bed and knelt down in front of me before brushing some hair out of my face.

"Thanks again." I said and closed my eyes against the soothing sensations of his skin on mine.

I opened my eyes when he drew his hand away before he stood back up and zipped his coat up.

"Get some rest." He said and walked out of my room.

I smiled and grabbed the part of the comforter he was lying on and wrapped it around myself, already missing the feel of his arms.

"Honey, you ready for the soup?" My mom called.

My stomach and throat revolted at the idea before I heard the rattling of medication bottles, signaling she had swung by the doctors. She set down the steaming soup in front of me and at the exact moment, my face dropped and I looked up at my mom and asked,

"Mom, isn't pneumonia contagious?"

A/N...I don't know if this is the end or if I'm going to continue, hope you enjoyed.