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Summary: "Every time she thinks she finally understands him, he goes and does something like this." Jess takes Rory out on a date. Set mid season three. Complete.
A/N: Pointless silliness and fluff. I wrote this about a year ago. Today, I went through and edited it, figuring I'd post it for my Lit friends in celebration of #228. Enjoy the time warp back to season three. It should be fun.
It is late evening, and darkness has already descended. The streetlamps that loom overhead glow in the night, casting small pools of light along the pavement. Storefronts crowd the sidewalks with brightened window displays of red and pink propaganda for Valentine's Day. Mills of couples walk by them, the girls squealing over thoughtful gifts, the boys squeezing their hands tightly as they suppress a groan. A feeling of romance and excitement stretches for miles, affecting everyone in its path. Up in the sky, the stars shine brightly as the man in the mood holds his breath, a love sonata on his lips.
"Which arm hurts when you're having a heart attack?" She asks, her eyes still wide.
"Your left," he answers matter-of-factly.
"Okay, I don't think I've gone into cardiac arrest."
He nods approvingly. "Always good news."
"But I can't believe… you…" She trails off, unable to find the right words.
"Wow, I've stunned a Gilmore into silence. And they say it couldn't be done."
Finally she tears her eyes away from the establishment in front of her. She's trying to keep her lips set in a thin line, but they're uncooperative, and slowly curve into what almost resembles a smile.
"I cannot believe you."
"I don't like your tone," he chastises, waving his finger with his free hand, because she still clutches his left. "I swear, it's like you're mad or something…"
"I am mad! Wait, no. Mad isn't the right word." She stares down at the sidewalk as if what she is trying to say is written there. "I'm… angry? No that's a synonym for mad… I'm confused." She throws her hands in the air, exasperated. "I can't pinpoint my exact feelings right now. Jess, you've emotionally scarred me!"
He takes a step back, arms up in defense. "You're going to try and tell me that all psychological problems you experience from here on out are my fault?"
"Yes," she nods. "You've shocked me into a near catatonic state and now—Oh!" She cuts herself off. "Shocked! That's the word. Surprised, I'm surprised."
"At least you finally picked a feeling. So… ready to go in?"
"Geez Rory, yes inside. If I had known it was going to be this complicated, I never would have brought you here."
"Why did you bring me here? I mean, where did you get the idea?" She stares at him hard, trying to read through his façade. "We've never gone to a place like… this," she over enunciates the final word, eyeing the building. "And don't tell me it's for Valentine's Day because that's still a couple of days away and we decided we weren't going to celebrate." She leans toward him, whispering conspiratorially. "We're not conforming like the rest of Happy America." She winks.
He wraps an arm around her wait, pulls her against him. "You're beginning to sound too much like me. It's scary." She smiles and shrugs, the quintessence of innocence. "Besides, this isn't to celebrate anything. This is to get you to stop nagging about this place."
"Nagging?" She has the audacity to look shocked. "When have I nagged?"
"Every time we drive by this place, you make comments like, 'Oh, I wonder what the food is like in there', and 'Oh, what a beautiful restaurant,' and 'Oh, if my boyfriend really gave a damn about me, he'd suck it up and take me there.'"
She laughs and moves away from him, trying to look cross. "I never said that!"
"Come on, Rory. You ready?"
"Promise you won't have a breakdown once we're inside?"
She nods again, this time adopting a ramrod straight military stance. He is surprised when she doesn't salute.
"Sir, yes sir." She giggles.
It's even more amazing inside. The entire place is decorated in soft hues and wood paneling, giving the atmosphere an airy, lighthearted feeling. The temperature adds to this, the heat wrapping around her, relaxing her bones, her every nerve. Waiters, complete with a tie and pleasant smile, mill about the maze of dining tables, dodging her and Jess, and the woman leading them to their seats. As they sit, she hears classical music, and smiles when she recognizes Mozart. She receives a menu, and at the feeling of leather, the scene is complete.
"Oh my god," she stutters out. "This place is amazing."
"Now do you understand why I told you to dress up?"
"You didn't tell me to dress up. You said, 'Wear a skirt type thing'. What does that even mean?"
He gives her a once over, imagining her bare legs beneath the table. "You seemed to figure it out."
"I thought you were being a typical guy who just wanted to ogle my legs, and cop a feel in the car."
"Well, yeah, I never said there weren't any perks."
She narrows her eyes. "I nearly wore jeans to spite you."
He opens the menu and looks it over. "You would have felt pretty damn out of place here… at this French restaurant," he finishes in shock. "This entire menu is in French. Since when is this place French?"
"Since they named it Jean-Pierre's. How did that not tip you off?"
"French is like a synonym for expensive. Alright," he says, shutting the menu, "I'm ordering for us. Water and breadsticks sound good to you?"
"That comes free with the meal."
"And we're on the same page!"
"Jess," she says in an exasperated tone. Her face is set in a playful pout, and she kicks him under the table. "I'm hungry. I need more than breadsticks. I will waste away if I don't eat soon."
"Your dependency on food is pathetic."
"Oh right, because people don't need to eat to stay alive."
"They don't need to eat as much as you."
She glares at him, imitating his lethal scowl. "I hate you."
"You say that now… But later when you want something, it'll be like 'Oh, Jess, have I told you how stunningly handsome you look tonight?'"
She chooses to ignore him, and instead, studies her menu closely. Now she regrets taking Latin and Spanish as opposed to French. A few select words appear familiar to her, but for the most part, she is clueless. It seems that she'll be ordering an unknown meal tonight, probably by means of pointing.
"I'll order for you, if you order for me," she suggests.
"And what difference will that make?"
"It's more fun this way."
He concedes, enjoying her playful mood. "And it's all about having fun."
Minutes later, a male waiter approaches their table; the same courteous smile Rory has seen on all the others is fixed on his face. His accent is thick and European although his exact roots are undetectable. When he asks to take their order, Jess makes the man repeat himself for the sheer hilarity of hearing his voice. Rory frowns at her boyfriend but he ignores her and points to the Filet de Saumon Sauce Mousselline. She selects the Escalope de Veau Normande for Jess.
"Do you have any clue what you just ordered me?" he asks.
She ignores his question. "Did you have to embarrass our waiter like that?"
"I didn't embarrass him."
"'Excuse me, what was that, sir? Sir? I only speak English, sir.'" Her imitation of Jess involves a broody demeanor and a lowered, scratchy voice. It's horrible, but she gets the point across. "It was condescending and rude."
"It was funny," he amends.
"You work at a diner. Do you like it when people treat you terribly and then don't leave you a tip?"
He rubs his forehead, a headache threatening. "I'll leave him a big tip, will that make you feel better?"
"Huuuuge tip." She draws the word out to show that she means business.
"Fine. Huuuuge." He smirks, waiting. When she smiles back, he knows that whatever fight could have been has passed with no casualties.
The next fifteen minutes are made up of small talk, and the clinking of glasses, and her wondering what possessed him to bring her here this evening. Sometimes, she simply doesn't get him. Every time she thinks she finally understands him, he goes and does something like this.
For dates, he likes to take her to the movies or for Indian food (once… and he swears never again), to Chinese buffets, ancient bookstores, or vintage shops where he buys her whatever she wants. But never has he gone to such lengths (how far in advance did he have to book reservations?) for one date. She saw the costs; he wasn't joking about this place being expensive. She watches as he studies himself in a spoon, and bites her lip to keep from laughing. He brings it close to his face, and then moves it back, eyes on his reflection. Her stomach tingles, an unfamiliar warmth spreading through her, but she does her best not to dwell on it. There is no need to rush anything; they have nothing but time.
"Would you give me that?" she requests, reaching over the table. He looks up, and shoots her a look, but hands over the utensil. Her expression promises she's up to mischief, and as soon as she has the spoon in her hand, she places it on her nose. Her hands hover in the air, and she crosses her eyes, concentrating on balance.
"Well?" she asks.
"Now that is class."
The waiter arrives then, starling her so that she drops the spoon onto the table. It bounces and hits the ground with a clatter. The waiter places their meals in front of them without so much as an 'enjoy' and turns on his heel, leaving a beet red Rory in his wake.
"Wow. Jess…" she says, once she has regained her voice. "Your meal…"
"It looks like someone threw up on my plate, and then positioned a few carrots and string beans around it." He glances up at her, "Are you laughing?"
"Yes," she chokes out in-between giggles, "Because that really is what it looks like! Like, like… dog food. Dog food that's been digested and then – "
"Alright, I get it."
"Mine, on the other hand, looks delicious. Great choice, thank you!"
He glares. "Not fair." He reaches over, lifts her plate, and places it in front of himself. "This does look good," he remarks before moving his meal in front of her.
"Hey!" she protests. "You can't do that!"
"I just did."
"I hate you."
"Again? Geez." He takes a bite of her food and lets out an exaggerated sound of approval. "This is really great. Aren't you going to eat? I mean, you're the one who was so desperate to try this place."
It's a good thing she's stubborn. She refuses to let him win this. Determined, she picks up her fork and digs in. Only a quick glimmer of distaste is shown on her face as she lifts her fork, but quickly, she squashes it. "Looks delicious," she comments and takes a bite.
She scrunches up her nose, and frowns. Her eyes close, and she waves a hand in front of her face. She swallows, and opens her mouth, her tongue hanging out. "Oh god," she chokes.
"How was it?" he asks, highly amused.
"Fantastic," she deadpans. She drinks from her water glass, and takes a deep breath.
"Ready for another bite?"
"You're mean," she pouts.
She rolls her eyes and stands up. "I'll be right back, I need to go throw up."
"Don't be too long," he teases.
"I love how much you care."
"If I actually thought you'd be sick, I'd be more concerned. You're just going to..."
"Powder my nose?" she offers.
"What the hell does that mean, anyway?"
"I can't tell you. That'd be betraying the girls' code."
She heads into the back of the restaurant, where she locates the bathrooms. Inside, she is happy to find it pleasantly deserted. Standing in front of the mirror, she studies her reflection, and the small smile playing at her lips. Before she knows it, she has a huge grin plastered on her face. The terrible taste of dinner still lingers, but it doesn't matter. She's excited, and she's not sure why. It's him; it has to be. She doesn't know what it means, but she's looking forward to finding out.
Leaning down, she turns on the sink, and pushes back her hair. She takes several sips in attempt to get rid of the horrible taste of her meal. Satisfied, she wipes her mouth with a paper towel, and then smoothes her skirt. She's ready to head back out to the table, when the door opens.
She jumps at the sight of him. "Jess!"
"Evening," he responds in a casual tone.
"You do realize that this is the girls' room?"
"Really? I was confused. I don't speak French, you know."
"It said 'Ladies'."
"Isn't that French?" She glares at him. "Oh. So ladies means female?" He moves forward, causing her to walk backwards. She bumps into the counter, and he places his hands on each side of her. Her playful expression serves as consent and he leans down to kiss her. Before contact can be made, an elderly woman enters the room. Rory immediately pushes him away.
Her face flushes with embarrassment and she rushes to explain, "Oh, don't mind us, we – "
"Yeah, we just had sex in…" Jess points to a random stall, "there, so I'd just stay clear of that one."
The woman's mouth drops in shock, and Rory swats him on the arm. "Jess!" She swivels around, and holds her hands up in defense. "We did not. I'm so sorry, he's a compulsive liar. We've tried therapy, but – "
Once again, he cuts her off, speaking as if she never opened her mouth, "It's okay, we're engaged. We're bonded. It can barely be considered premarital sex." He places his arm around Rory's shoulder and leads her out the room.
"Oh my god, I bet that's one of my grandmother's friends!" She says once the door shuts behind them. "And now she's going to go see her and say 'I saw your granddaughter the other day. She was having sexual relations with some boy in the bathroom at Jean-Pierre's.' And then my grandmother will be like 'Bathroom sex?' and once they pick her up off the ground…"
"Rory, you have it all wrong." He nods reassuringly. "She wouldn't call me 'some boy'. Try lowlife…or gang member."
She opens her mouth to snap at him, but then pauses. "Wait. Jess. When did we get engaged?"
"Oh, yeah, that. I did something you may not like."
"Something like that," he smirks, taking a seat at their table.
Before he can speak, their waiter appears, and unknowingly answers Jess's question for him. He places a plate in the center of their table, and unenthusiastically congratulates them on the "new, exciting turn in their relationship". Rory's eyes widen.
Once the waiter is gone, she questions the dessert sitting in front of them. "What is this?"
"You're still hungry, right?"
"I can't afford to buy something else. Not if you want me leaving that huge tip. It was either breadsticks or a delicious cake."
"A cake made of lies!" she exclaims
"Whoa, can you save 'overdramatic'?"
"You lied to the nice waiter to get us dessert?"
"I lie because I care."
"I can't eat this," she insists.
"And she's having a moral dilemma," he mutters to himself, "over cake."
She narrows her eyes. "I can hear you." She pauses, obviously thinking things over. Finally, "Okay, the cake sounds good. But you don't get any."
"And how is that fair?"
"I would have eaten if you hadn't switched our plates."
"Yeah, your original meal? Not so good," he assures her.
"Plus, you're the one who lied. Now that this dessert is out here, we can't let it go to waste. So I will, therefore, clean up the mess you made."
"Oh my, what a tangled web of lies and deceit I've weaved. I'm corrupting you, Rory. What's next? Lying about birthdays?"
She ignores his barbs, and samples the plate in front of her. The cake is absolutely fantastic, and she takes her time eating it. He glares at her throughout this, and when he reaches across to get a taste, she swats his hand away. This leads to more scowling – on his part – and more exaggerated sounds of delight – on her part – until finally she relents. She pushes the plate back over to him, and he finishes the remaining dessert. Upon completion, the check arrives, and he feigns confusion.
"I'm supposed to pay?"
"You ever hear of the game 'Dine and ditch'?"
"Washing dishes isn't so bad."
"I'm kidding, geez." He pulls out his wallet and holds it up for her to see. "You really need to relax."
"I'm never completely relaxed when I'm around you," she tells him. He stares at her for a second, somewhat unnerved by her comment. She smiles and he pays, leaving a generous tip as promised.
Outside the air is crisp, and Jess holds her close as they walk to the car. The ride home is filled with conversation and subtle touches; their hands entwined in the dark. Back in Stars Hollow, he pulls up outside her house, but makes no move to get out. He never walks her to the door. She never asks.
"Tonight was fun," she says, taking off her seatbelt. She doesn't want to get out yet. She wants it to be just the two of them as the night stretches on.
"Tonight was expensive," he corrects. "You owe me." Her eyes widen. "Tomorrow when I tell Luke we're engaged, you gotta play along."
She laughs. "You know, one of these days you're going to go too far and give him a heart attack."
"Yeah, we'll see." She shakes her head and kisses him, leaning across the seats. "Night, Rory," he says quietly, touching her lips.
She holds his gaze for a long moment before opening the door and closing it gently behind her. She starts up her driveway but then pauses and runs back down to him. He rolls down the window, confused.
"Walk me to my door?" she asks.
There is no hesitation. Only surprise. "Sure."
She backs up as he gets out of the car. She takes his hand and pulls him to her, her smile dazzling. "Thanks for tonight."
He shrugs, ducking from the gratitude. "No problem."
He walks her to her door and ends the night properly with a gentle kiss, a lingering touch, and a promise for much more.