By: BullenRose / BitterSweetBloodBaby
Summary: Jess and Rory are 25 years old, living on opposite ends of the country, and both happen to have books on the bestseller list. Jess never came back East after leaving for California, until now.
Chapter One – Pilot (you tell me if you want more)
It's funny how you prepare yourself, mentally and physically, for something that changes in the blink of an eye. You spend most of your childhood picturing the perfect member of society you want to be, and the path that is most likely to get you there. For Rory Gilmore, that path had always taken her through Boston for a few years, and then overseas. She was going to go to Harvard, and become an overseas correspondent. But then the letter from Yale came, and she chose the security of being close to home over the sprawling campus that was Harvard. Not that Yale wasn't sprawling. In fact, it was just as good of a school as Harvard, with the added benefits of being close to home.
During the summer after her sophomore year, she got an internship with Channel One news. She'd get to spend two months in Indonesia, covering terrorist preventions. The opportunity of a lifetime? Oh yes. Except, when Rory got to Jakarta, she didn't want to write about things on a large scale. She didn't want to cover only government precautions, and leave the citizen's plot alone. And she didn't want to sit back and observe. So she did her own research whenever she had a chance. She talked to any English-speaking locals she could find. She wrote constantly in the plain composition book she'd brought from the States. And when she set foot back on American soil, and jumped into her mother's awaiting arms, she had four words to express how happy she was: "I'm writing a book!"
Majors were changed, classes were adjusted, and Rory finished her novel before finishing her junior year. It wasn't an instant hit, Archipelago Of Life, not by a long shot. All it basically did was score Rory a publishing deal and give her and her mother a chance to mull over long lists of could-be pennames.
"How about you be a guy? F. Scott Fitzgerald!"
"Are you trying to annoy me, or is there a part of your brain that actually believes you're helping?"
"I'm just trying…OH, how about Rory Gilmore?"
"Mom! I wrote a book! Okay, so it's my first book and it won't end up on Oprah's book club anytime soon, but this is the most important thing I've ever done, and you are not assisting."
"Hey, sorry, just me being me. And your book will SO end up on Oprah's book club if I have to cross out The Bell Jar myself!"
"And write my book in it's stead?"
"That was the plan, yes."
"Mom, you fell asleep trying to read my book."
"It was late!"
"You couldn't pronounce the title!"
"I didn't graduate high school for a reason, babe"
"How about an Anna? I look like an Anna, don't I?"
"You're no help"
"Well what do you expect from a woman who names her daughter after herself just to avoid going through all this?"
"What the- LOR!" The elder Gilmore's love interest, Luke Danes, had just walked over to their table to take their order, and found the two looking at a baby-name book.
"What do you think of Arnold, Luke?"
"What the hell is going on here?"
"Oh, calm down Sparky. We're picking a penname for Rory," she announced with glee.
"Oh. Well, in that case, go with something simple. That way it'll be easier to remember. Maybe a variation of your own name. Leigh, maybe. I dunno, you two get back to that. Coffee?"
"Yes please!" Luke nodded and shuffled off, heart still painfully thumping at the sight of Lorelai leafing through the book. Meanwhile, the Gilmores looked at each other.
"He's so smart!"
"Well, he IS dating me."
"Of course! Leigh! Why didn't we think of it? It's brilliant!"
"Because...we were naming my and Luke's baby?"
"I need a last name! Think of one quick before the Muse runs away again!"
"We have a Muse?"
"Yes, and she's about to leave because she's scared of you. Think!"
"Gilmore!" Rory looked at her mother for a long second, before downing almost half the cup of fragrant coffee Luke handed her. It wasn't until she was in bed that night that the other half of her name came to her, because it was technically her other half. Leigh Hayden.
It took two more failed books before Rory struck gold. She stayed with the international fiction theme, writing about the dying rooms in China and infamous Swiss boarding schools. But after living with a tribe of Amazon-dwellers for a few weeks and taking notes on everything, her first note-worthy book came into being. Oprah approved, critically acclaimed, and audience adored, Rory became the star of Star's Hollow, where she still lived with her mother and wrote day after day.
She had a lot of friends in and around Star's Hollow, but hadn't had many boyfriends. Actually, since Jess, she hadn't been in a relationship. Try as she might to get over him, every time she opened her heart to a guy, she discovered the wound to her heart was still very present. So she didn't let anyone in. It was better that way.
Lying across the country, in the hot Californian sun, Jess Mariano formed the words to his next sentence in his head. Something about her eyes…that would conclude the paragraph. God, those beautiful blue eyes…
"I swear, if you get any tanner, you'll smell like that soup Lily made…remember the tomato? She burned it. How could anyone burn soup? Well, it's not like it's in the damn genes or anything, but even I can do Campbells."
Jess, also known to many as J. M. Danes, lifted his head off the sand and looked at his step-mother. Sasha was carrying a laundry basket full of his bed sheets, and frowning at him again.
"Jesus Jess, there's sand in the sheets! You can love the beach ON the beach, but tell it to stay outside!" He shrugged, and settled back into his hammock with his laptop.
"Would it kill you to brush yourself off before coming in the house?"
"Someday, you're going to get over small-town girl, meet some hot young thing, take her home, and-Oh, wait, what's this? Jess has a sandy bed. Girls don't want sandy beds, Jess!" She drew out the word sandy both times, making it seem like she meant 'smelly' or 'filthy'.
"I like it, okay?"
"True. God knows it'll be the day when you'll get over your princess." Jess rolled his eyes and returned to his work. He had a few books on the circuit already, and they weren't selling too badly. Actually, his structured American literature was selling like hot-cakes. From the plight of a young working mother to the life of a border-hopper, he just pulled these ideas out of his ass and ran with them. Made some decent money. It's how he could afford the cute little beach house near his Dad's.
Dad. There's a word that was never really in his vocabulary. But after coming to stay for a month, and falling for the sea and surf the same way Jimmy had, he fell in with the family. Jimmy, Sasha, and Lilly, Jess's 16-year-old step sister. Lily's father had gone through a mid-life crisis a few months back, and tried to get custody of his daughter, so Jess had quietly stepped in to fund the court events. He did it just to be nice, and because he never really cared for extravagance, he was happy with his beach house and Chevy, but Sasha insisted on playing housekeeper in return. And she always scolded him about the sand.
In truth, he didn't mind having family obligations. It was nice to have someone who'd always watch your back, and they grew on you. Out East, he had Luke. He hadn't talked to Luke since he moved, hadn't talked to anyone there. But Luke had been there for him
during some tough times. He'd taken Danes as his penname more for Luke than his flaky mom. Liz would call about once a month, talk about how the fair was going, ask him how life was. She didn't know he wrote, and it was probably best that she couldn't tempt herself with Jess's money. But she was doing better. Maybe someday, they'd talk face-to-face again.
Jess returned to his book. This one was going to be titled, if nothing more clever came to him, City Boys and Small Town Girls. His editor had liked the name, even though it was supposed to be more of an autobiography than a love story. But his life before Star's Hollow didn't matter much. It was just filler for the first few chapters, and his life in California was the last few.
The rest of the book could have been called "Rory" simply, though Jess had changed their names for personal reasons. He stayed Jess, and she was Lauren. Everyone in town had names – Luke was Robert, Taylor was Patrick, Kirk was Rudolf (Lily's idea; Jess had been drunk and babysitting at the time he wrote it. Jess often wrote best drunk, and Lily often ended up stuck with him for the weekend so Jimmy and Sasha could do whatever Jimmy and Sasha did alone), and Lorelai was Lana. Not the most creative bunch of characters, but he couldn't think of anything else to call them without revealing their identities.
He smiled as he continued writing about Rory aka Lauren, letting the floodgate on his emotions open and spill out his guts onto the screen. It felt good to let them out. He hadn't really talked about Rory much. It took six years of prying for Sasha to learn there was a girl. He wondered what she was up to now, wondered what she'd say if she could see him here, happy. He hadn't cleaned up his act, but his attitude had changed. And in some people, that made all the difference.
They'd each read something by the other, although they didn't know it. Each had distinctly heard the echoes of the other in the passages, but never thought of putting two and two together. In the black and white of Rory's book-jacket photo, her eyes didn't shine enough to let on that she was the small town girl. And Jess's ungelled hair and tanner skin lead to a sad smile, and a thought 'that looks so much like him'. But he was almost smiling in the picture, so it couldn't be him.
Let me know if you want more!