Summary: Christmas Eve... a year and a half into the future. Three people on the floor of the Dragonfly.

Rated: PG-13 for mild language

Disclaimer: They ain't mine. Don't hurt me! ducks

Swans and Toasters

He walked into the Dragonfly quietly, so as not to wake anyone as he lugged his duffle bag in. He'd been convinced to spend the holidays in Stars Hollow, but hadn't been able to get off of work in time for Christmas Eve dinner.

He'd figured no one would be awake, but he was wrong.

Liz smiled up at him from her place on the floor. She was sitting close to the fire with a familiar-looking book.

Too familiar-looking.

"Hey," he accused lightly. He dropped his bag by the door walked over to her. "That's mine."

"I found it in Luke's apartment," she told him.

Jess snatched it and looked it over. "Been looking for this." He smirked at her a little. "You like it so far?"

Liz swatted at him playfully. "I've read it before. Swear to god, you think you're the only one who ever read anything."

Jess shrugged and handed her the book back.

She took it and then yanked him onto the floor and pulled him into a fierce hug. "I'm glad you came."

He hugged back awkwardly. "Wasn't doing anything else."

Liz rolled her eyes and let him go. She looked him over. "You look good. I like the haircut."

He self-consciously scratched at his newly cropped (yet still fairly shaggy) hair. "Figured it was about time."

"How's Sarah?" Liz asked excitedly.

Jess shrugged. "Wouldn't know. She broke up with me."

Liz pouted. "Oh. I liked her. What happened?"

"She wanted to get married," Jess replied. "I didn't."

"Why didn't you wanna get married?" Liz asked, swatting him again.

"I'm twenty-one," he argued quietly. "My income is non-existent and my shrink says I still fear commitment."

"You don't have a shrink," Liz pointed out.

"I talk to my cereal boxes."

"Don't mock your stepfather!" Liz scolded.

Jess chuckled a little. "Keep it down or you'll wake the whole place, and I'm not ready to face the Gilmores yet."

Liz rolled her eyes. "It's been two years since you've been back here."

Jess nodded and looked around a little. "Place looks nice."

"Lorelai does an amazing job with it," Liz agreed.

"Jess?"

Both mother and son looked up.

Jess smirked. "Hey, Luke."

Luke walked out of the kitchen and Jess got to his feet. They shared a short, very masculine hug, and both sat down with Liz.

"How was the drive?" Luke asked.

Jess nodded. "Sucked, but I made it, so it didn't suck too much."

"Good," Luke replied.

"What are you doing up?" Jess asked. "It's one in the morning."

"Lorelai's feet are cold," Luke muttered.

Jess fought to hold back a grin, and Liz giggled.

"Shut up, both of you," Luke snapped. "TJ snores loud enough to wake the dead, and Sarah tosses and hits you in her sleep."

Jess grimaced.

Liz snatched her son into another tight hug. "Don't mention her. She broke up with him."

Luke sighed. "Sorry. That sucks."

Jess shrugged and pulled away from Liz. "It just didn't work out. It's no big deal."

"Yes it is," Liz protested. "It's a very big deal. You loved her."

"Did not," Jess protested back. "I cared. I... enjoyed her company... I don't even know if loved her."

Luke shook his head. "You're impossible." He looked his nephew over. "Take off your coat and stay awhile, Jess."

"Gimme a break, I'm cold," he snapped.

"Play nice, boys," Liz snickered. "Y'know... technically, its Christmas morning."

"You just want presents," Luke and Jess chorused.

Liz laughed. "Damn right! And you both better have gotten me good stuff!"

Jess shook his head and pulled his duffle bag over. He opened it up and dug through it until he found what he was looking for and pulled out two gifts wrapped in newspaper, and handed them to Liz.

Liz smiled and ripped open the first one. She read over the book title and shot a mean glare to Jess. "Every year!"

Jess smirked.

Luke looked confused. "What?"

"Every year he gets me a copy of The Joy of Cooking," Liz growled, smacking Jess on the arm with the book.

"Why?" Luke asked pointedly.

Liz continued hitting Jess, who started laughing. "Because the one Christmas we spent just the two of us when he was seven, I burned the entire meal."

Luke snickered.

Liz stopped hitting Jess and turned her attention to the other wrapped gift. "This better be good, young man."

"Yeah, yeah," Jess mocked.

Liz ripped it open to find a small, but very nice-looking wooden jewelry box. "Wow... Jess this is beautiful."

Jess nodded. "Good. Merry Christmas. Don't bother me about your present anymore."

"Where did you find this?"

"I uh..." Jess scratched the back of his head. "I made it," he muttered.

"Awww," Liz cooed. "It's so pretty."

Luke reached over and pinched Jess's cheek. "Makin' stuff for your mommy..."

Jess swatted his hand away and backed up. "Cut it out, or you don't get your present."

"Yeah?" Luke scoffed. "What'd you get me?"

"A muzzle," Jess snapped, pulling another package out of his bag and tossing it to Luke. "I made it myself."

Luke rolled his eyes and opened up the package. He smiled. "Hey... new fishing gear." He smirked at Jess. "Thanks."

Jess nodded.

Liz smiled and got up, rushing over to the gaudily-decorated Christmas tree. She came back with three nicely-wrapped gifts. She handed two to Jess, and one to Luke.

Jess opened his first one, and squinted. "You got me a..." He held up the stuffed animal warily. "A swan."

Liz nodded with a smile.

"Huh."

"Luke told me about your harrowing adventure from a couple of years back," Liz laughed. "I thought he might ease your swanaphobia. His name is Swanny."

Jess shook his head and turned to Luke. "Did you know that you suck?"

Luke grinned.

Jess shook his head once more and opened up the next package. A book, obviously.

"I didn't know if you had any, but it's nice-looking," Liz said. "I always liked Arthur Conan-Doyle."

Jess nodded. "Nope. Didn't own any Sherlock..." he smirked at her. "Now I do."

Liz smirked back.

Luke sighed and opened his gift. He pulled out a flashy red sweater and tried to look happy. "Wow, Liz... nice... thanks..."

Liz smiled and Jess held back his mirth as much as he could.

"What'd you get me?" Liz asked Luke.

Luke got up and made his own way over to the tree. He came back with a couple of presents and handed them one each.

Liz tore into hers and pulled out a DVD. "Oh! West Side Story! I love West Side Story!"

Jess rolled his eyes. "God, she used to watch that every night after work..."

"Yeah, until you lit the tape on fire," Liz accused.

"Hey!" Jess protested. "I didn't do it on purpose... it just... happened to wind up on the stove one morning..."

Luke chuckled. "Well, you don't live together anymore, and that's a DVD."

"Which make great light shows when you put them in the microwave," Jess pointed out.

Both his uncle and mother stared at him, a little disturbed.

"Jimmy's girlfriend's kid had this... 98 Degrees CD," Jess explained awkwardly. "It had to go."

"Just open your present, you maniac," Luke growled lightly.

Jess sighed and opened up his gift. He blinked. "It's... a toaster."

Luke nodded. "You don't have a toaster."

"I do now," Jess muttered. He looked inside the toaster. "Luke..."

"Yeah?"

"Why is there money in the toaster?"

"Wouldn't know."

"Luke..."

Liz watched them interestedly.

"Listen, I don't know who left money in the toaster," Luke said. "But it's their own fault. Just keep it."

"No."

Luke gritted his teeth. "Just keep the god-damned money, Jess."

Jess rolled his eyes, giving in. "Thanks, Luke."

They stayed up talking for another hour until Jess fell asleep on the floor.

Liz smiled at him and pushed some of his hair out of his face. "My baby."

Luke rolled his eyes, and got up. He stretched before taking a blanket from one of the over-stuffed chairs. He covered Jess with it.

"Kid can sleep through a nuclear war," Luke muttered, plopping down in a chair.

Liz rested her back against Luke's chair, her eyes falling shut. "He's lucky, like that."

Luke smirked and shook his head.


From the top of the staircase, Rory Gilmore sat, watching them pensively. Jess's sleeping form was the last thing she saw before dozing off herself.

END