NOTES: Inspired by reading Strangers in Paradise yesterday. Terry Moore rules. The title is also the title of a pretty Foo Fighters song.

Disclaimer: Not mine! Don't sue!

Summary: "If you walk out on me... I'm walking after you..."

For Ari

Walking After You

"You look good in a tux."

He looks up from his spot on the bridge and gives her a smirk. "Nice dress."

She smiles and sits next to him, careful not to get her powder blue bridesmaid's dress dirty. "So..."

He nods and looks back down at the water. "Luke and Lorelai are getting married."

"They are," Rory nods back.

Jess scratches the back of his head. "That kinda makes us family, doesn't it?"


"Weird... I feel slightly incestuous."

She slaps him lightly on the arm. "Pig."

He smirks.

She rests her head on his shoulder. "Can I tell you secret?"


"I miss you."

He glances at her, completely taken by surprise. "Yeah?"

"Yeah... I don't know if I miss you in a romantic sense... I think part of me does..." she rambles a little. "Most of me just misses you."


"Hey, Jess?"


"Will you be my friend?"

He smiles and puts an arm around her. "Yeah."

A year later, she stares out at the empty chairs, and wonders where things went wrong.

"I missed the wedding?"

She looks up from her spot sitting at what was supposed to be the altar. "Jess."

"Hi," he nods, and looks around. "So... I got this invitation saying that you were getting married to Logan... what's going on?"

She gets to her feet and wraps her arms around herself. "He never showed up."

Jess sighs. "Jeez... what a shithead." He walks toward her and tries to smirk. "You look great."


He nods. "Yeah. Logan's crazy to leave you at the altar."

"Would you have?"

Jess shake his head.

She reaches up and kisses him sweetly. When she pulls away, she looks into his confused eyes, and takes him by the hand and leads him into the Dragonfly.

She wakes up the next morning, and watches him sleep for an hour, before getting up, and dressed. She leaves him a note on the nightstand.

She smoothes his hair a little and then kisses his temple before leaving.

A week later, he's stopped leaving messages on her machine.

He understands that she can't be with him. Sort of.

He kind of hates it but there's nothing he can do.

He moves on.

He's at her door three months later, bloody, beaten, and drunk out of his mind.

"Hi," he slurs out.

Rory wants to cry. "What the hell, Jess?!"

"I screwed up," he tells her.

She asks no questions, knowing he isn't in his right mind, and if he was, he wouldn't give her answers. She helps him into her apartment, and puts him to bed.

When she wakes up in the morning, the couch he slept on is neat once more. There's a thank you note and a box chocolate candy sitting on the coffee table.

She smiles.

A year later and she calls him for the third time that week to tell him the same thing she'd been telling him.

"I'm getting married!"

He snickers. "You're way too excited!"

"Be a bridesmaid!"





He laughs a little. "I'm not wearing a dress, Rory!"

She pouts. "Party pooper."

The wedding is beautiful, and Jess stays out of sight for the most part, letting Rory and Gregg have their day.

She spots him at the reception and bum rushes him. "I got married!"

He nods and hugs her. "You did."

"Dance with me, Diner Boy!"

He sighs. "Rory..."

She takes him by the elbow and leads him out to the dance floor.

Three months later, and she's pregnant.

"Working fast."

"I want a girl," Rory tells him as she takes a sip of her water.

"You gonna name her Lorelai?" Jess asks as he works at closing up the diner. He still gets roped into helping Luke out when he visits Stars Hollow.

Rory grins. "Maybe."

Nine months later, the little girl Rory has been dreaming of comes into the world.

Jess reads the birth announcement over a cup of coffee with his editor.

"So, I think that your latest draft is really great, and-..." The older man stops and glares at Jess, who is reading his mail for the fourth time. "What is that?"

Jess grins. "Katina Lorelai Simon's birth announcement."

His editor looks at him as if he's crazy.

The next day, Rory calls.

"Guess what?"

"Kirk got help?"


"Taylor dropped dead."

"Horrible man!"

Jess smirks. "What?"

"Gregg and I want you to be Katina's godfather."

Jess blinks and stops flipping through his book. "Me?"





"Please? You're pretty much my only remaining guy friend and Gregg's sister is the godmother, so I get to pick the godfather, and-"

"Okay!" Jess caves. He chuckles a little. "I'll do it!"

She loses her second baby two years later in the summer. They can't find a heartbeat.

Katina stays with Jess for a few weeks while Rory and Gregg try and sort through what's happened.

He reads to her, and let's her watch TV while he writes. He cooks food for her, and she seems happy. He doesn't have a lot of experience with small children, and Katty is only two. He does the best he can.

He kisses the little girl goodbye when Rory comes to pick her up. She cries a little and wants to stay. Rory promises to bring her back soon, and she does, every couple of weeks.

Rory, Gregg and Katina move out to California a year later. Greg's received a promotion he can't pass up and Rory's in love with him, so she goes along with it. She gets a job at a San Francisco newspaper.

The night before they leave, she shows up on Jess's doorstep with a pile of books in her arms.

He knows she's moving the next day, and looks at her as if she's crazy. "Rory...?"

"The books you promised me you'd read, and never did when we were kids," she tells him. "And I know you have a pile of the same for me. Don't try and lie."

He raises an eyebrow. "So..."

"We're going to read them tonight."

"All of them?"

"All of them."

He grins.

Three more years go by and they lose touch. Jess goes through a multitude of relationships that all seem to fail, and Rory's marriage takes a turn for the worse.

Gregg is always late. He never shows up for dinner, and stands her up for lunch a couple of times. He spends as little time in the house as possible, and while Katina doesn't seem to notice anything amiss, Rory knows she's being double-crossed.

She wakes up one morning to find that all of Gregg's things are gone, and immediately calls Lorelai, who flies out.

Three weeks later, and Rory has stumbled into depression.

Lorelai worries about her lack of appetite and erratic sleeping habits. Her apathetic behavior and her insistence on taking off of work for the week is further worrying.

The older Gilmore has no idea what to do.

So she gives into her last resort, and grabs Rory's rolodex. She flips to the M's, and finds the name she's looking for. She dials the phone number and sighs.

"Hello?" a tired voice asks.


"Wanna see me flip the pancake?"

Katina smiles widely. "Yeah!"


Katina nods and smiles even wider. "Yeah!"


Rory walks slowly down into the kitchen, and stops dead in her tracks upon seeing the extra person standing there with her daughter.

Jess gives her a grin. "Morning, Sunshine."

She merely stares.

Katina tugs on Jess's pant leg. "Uncle Jess! Flip!"

Jess nods, still not taking his eyes off of Rory, and flips the pancake.

"What are you doing here?"

"Hello to you, too," Jess quips as they sit outside.

"I'm serious, Jess."

He sighs. "Lorelai called me."

Rory narrows her eyes. "My mother?"

Jess nods. "Yeah. She said she was worried about you... said maybe I could help."

Rory sighs and rests her head against his shoulder. "I don't know what to do."

"You'll figure it out," he tells her. "You always do."

"I hate it here."

Jess shrugs. "So move."


"Home. Back east."

Rory grins at this prospect. "I miss snow."

"You're your mother's daughter."

She grins more. "I am."

Four months later, the divorce has gone through, and she and Katina are moved into a small house in Stars Hollow. Rory works for a newspaper in Hartford. She looks happier and healthier than she has in a long time, and Lorelai no longer worries.

Katina makes lots of friends at Stars Hollow Elementary and invites them all over for her birthday, along with Jess, who gets her a Bjork CD of her very own.

Jess stays to help clean up long after everyone has left, and Katty is put to bed. As they clean up bits and pieces of wrapping paper off of the floor, they wind up in a kiss.

A kiss which Rory pulls away from too soon.

"No, Jess."



"I love you."

She gives him a pleading look.

"I love you, and I love Katina, and I just..." He deflates as the look on her face becomes much sadder than he's ever seen it. "And... I'm gonna go home."

"I love you, too," she tells him as he heads for the door.

He stops.

"I love you, and I'm afraid if I... if we... I don't want to lose you again," she admits.

He nods and leaves. What else can he do?

Gregg shows up a week later, and Rory throws him out. She tells him she never wants to see him again and that if he ever comes near Katina, she'll let Luke do whatever he wants to him.

He leaves without another word, giving her a glare before disappearing out of sight.

He files a law suit and starts a custody battle for Katina, who, again, winds up staying with Jess; this time for three months, while her parents fight it out.

Rory comes over often; weary from working for the paper, and talking to lawyers. She winds up falling asleep in bed with both Jess and Katina as they read together, and spends the night.

She wakes up early in the morning, and watches both of them sleep.

Gregg loses the custody battle, and Lorelai promises Katina an ice cream and movie fest, leaving Jess and Rory to their own devices.

They go out to dinner, and have a good time, though things are a little more heated than usual.

They drive back to Stars Hollow and walk around town.

When they come to the gas station, she stops and impulsively leans in and kisses him.

He feels his head whirl a little and she smiles at him when she pulls away. She runs a hand down his cheek, and then walks off.

He watches her blankly. "Huh."

She turns and smiles, and nods for him to follow.

He does.