Wrapping chapter 4
Never Let Go
Rory took the scenic route home that morning, managing to avoid the diner, the bridge, the gazebo, the bookstore and any other place she thought she might run into Jess. It seemed that despite the years that had passed since her last visit to Stars Hollow she could still remember her way around.
As she walked she thought about everything that had happened in the two days prior. Was it really only a couple nights ago that she had been hurling a snowball at Jess's shoulder on a sidewalk in Manhattan? She kicked at a pile of dusty white snow and pulled her coat tighter around herself. It seemed like in one night she had erased ten years.
The porch of her childhood home was familiar, and she considered sitting down on the old wicker sofa for a few minutes before going inside, but a particularly cold breeze convinced her otherwise, and she slipped inside.
The house was fairly quiet (someone--Luke--was snoring upstairs), but in the most comfortable way possible. The living room had taken on the piney smell of the Christmas tree in its corner, and as she settled down on the couch she thought about the post-holiday depression that tended to hit once all the gifts had been unwrapped and all the food had been consumed. Was that the cause of her fight with Jess? She didn't know. All she knew was that she hadn't intended for things to go so poorly.
She drifted off into a restless sleep, clutching a stray piece of wrapping paper.
Luke dragged a semi-concious Jess out of bed around eight o'clock that morning to work.
After Patty and Babbette had finished stage-whispering about him over breakfast he tried to make an escape, but Luke caught him in his attempt and dragged him over to Taylor's table to take his order.
"Well, good morning, Jess," Taylor said in an all too cheerful mood.
"Nice to see you. It's been years."
Jess grunted again.
"What brings you back to Stars Hollow?"
Jess just shot him a look...his very best "don't mess with me" look.
"Right, so...I'll have the pancakes and...how is the coffee this morning?" Before Jess could grunt again Taylor said, "nevermind, I'll just have orange juice to drink."
Jess nodded and turned away.
"Rory? You home?"
Rory stirred in her sleep and made a muffled grunting noise.
Pulling herself from slumber Rory managed to open her mouth enough to form actual words. "Living Room!" she called to her mother.
"Hey, sweetie? You okay?"
"I'm fine," she replied as she sat up, "I just didn't sleep well last night."
Lorelai nodded. "Where'd you go?"
"Lane's place...she wasn't there, but Brian let me crash in her bedroom."
Neither of them mentioned Jess, or the fight the night before. Lorelai knew that Rory was not ready to talk about it. "So...you want to go get some lunch with me? I was thinking we could go to Al's...haven't been there in a while."
Rory smiled. "Sure. Let's go."
"Rory! I didn't know you were visiting!" Miss Patty exclaimed as they passed the dance studio.
"It was a last minute trip," she replied, tugging her coat around her shoulders a little tighter. "I didn't know I would be here until Christmas morning."
"Oh, well isn't that a nice surprise." The Gilmore girls lost Patty's interest as a two three-year-olds got into a fight. "Susie, Margie! Is that any way to behave? Susie, give Margie back her tutu!"
"Just your average day in Stars Hollow," Lorelai said, wrapping her arm around Rory's shoulders as they continued down the street. After a few minutes in silence she asked the question. "So...what was all that about last night?"
Rory exhaled and watched the air rise in a white cloud in front of her...it reminded her of Jess, standing there the night of the dance marathon, telling her he had something he 'had to do.' Instead of shying away from the question she confronted it. "I don't want to let our relationship die the way it did the last time. I can't put myself through that kind of pain again."
Lorelai nodded. "Well...you realize that by storming out you can't actually fix anything, right?"
"Yes, and...I didn't want to. I couldn't help myself. Everything he was saying was true...he isn't 100 responsible for everything that happened in the past, I have to take some of the blame for it. I just...don't really know how."
"Are you sure you want to go to Al's? We could go to Luke's...you two could talk."
Rory shook her head. "Not yet." She put her head down. A moment later she added, "maybe later?"
Halfway (well, not halfway, they were still in 2003, but it had been almost an hour) through a detailed summary of the past ten years in Stars Hollow (as told by Babette) Jess glanced out the diner's large window. He had not been paying much attention, and he found himself even more distracted when he saw the Gilmores walking past on the opposite side of the street.
They didn't seem to be talking, just walking in comfortable silence. While their little vacation didn't seem to be going very well, Jess was glad Rory had gotten something out of it. He smiled slightly and turned back to Babette who had stopped talking and was staring at him.
"You're still hung up on her!" she exclaimed.
"Don't know what you're talking about," he said with a smirk. "I should really go check on your order." He hurried to the safety of the kitchen as quickly as possible. By dinner all of Stars Hollow would know that Jess Mariano had a thing for Rory Gilmore...again.
"I'll go get the movie," Lorelai said as they left Al's.
"And I'll get the junk food."
It didn't matter that they had gone through half of Al's menu in the past hour, Lorelai and Rory were planning a movie night, and no Gilmore Movie Night was complete without redvines and cookie dough.
"Meet you at the house?"
They headed in opposite directions, Lorelai aiming for Stars Hollow Video, and Rory for Doose's market. It had not occured to her that she would have to pass the diner to get there.
She tried to rush past, keeping her eyes focused on the frozen cement at her feet.
She stopped and turned lifting her eyes to see his face, slightly pink from the cold. His eyes were warm, though.
"Hey..." They stood there for a moment, just staring at each other in the afternoon sun. "Your mom home?" he finally asked.
"She's picking out a movie...I'm getting supplies."
He nodded slowly. "Movie night?"
"Yup." She took a cautious step closer to him. They were still a good five feet apart, but she felt instantly warmer. "You hear the rumors?" she asked.
"Yeah...they're saying the local hoodlum's fallen for the town princess..." She blushed a little at her own words, but didn't let it bother her. "You think it's true?"
It was his turn to step closer. His legs weren't much longer, but they were enough to bridge another couple of feet. "I think it's possible."
They spoke at the same time, and then let out slight chuckles. "You first," Rory said.
"I...I wanted to tell you something."
"Yeah?" she looked at him expectantly...waiting for an apology.
"I...that black eye? You remember the black eye I got back in high school?"
She nodded slowly, thinking back. That was the weekend he first met Emily Gilmore...how could she forget?
"I didn't get it from a football...or from Dean...or from anyone."
She had no clue what was going on, what he was trying to tell her.
"I got beaked by the swan down by Larson's Dock."
Suddenly realization dawned on her. She knew exactly what he was doing. Before he could continue she had closed the gap between them and pressed her lips to his.
He responded to the kiss almost instantly, wrapping his arms around the small of her back and nearly lifting hre off the ground to gain better access to her lips. As they pulled away she brushed her nose lightly against his and smiled up at him.
"You were right...that is embarrassing."
He smiled. "I told you it was."
She kissed him again. "I have to go," she finally said.
He latched onto the sleeve of her jacket, holding her to him. "Don't go."
"I don't want to."
He pulled her a little closer. "Then don't."
She wrapped her arms around his neck. "Come with me. I just need to make a quick stop at Doose's and then we can head back to the house for a night of movies and junk food."
He sighed, and conceded, unwilling to let go of her again. "Okay."
Adjusting their arms so that they could safely walk down the street they headed towards Doose's, never letting go.
To be continued soon...