Written for the Literati Fan fic exchange.

To Include:

Lit action:D
a setting in New York, like a park, street, subway, etc.
a reference to The Catcher In The Rye by JD Salinger
Jess and Rory studying one another; the other one doesn't know

Not to Include:

NO DEAN, TRISTAN, LOGAN, ETC.
sappy sweet stuff
song lyrics
bad language

Rating - PG13 or up (don't really have a preference)

Disclaimer: Rory and Jess aren't mine. sigh

Rating: PG-13 for a mentioning of "Nether-regions" hee.

Summary: A chance meeting in a coffee shop

Coffee in Hell's Kitchen

Rory Gilmore rushed into the quiet coffee shop and sighed with relief. The whether forecasters had been wrong. Again. "Sunny skies!" they'd cried. "Not a cloud in sight!"

It was raining. The streets were flooding, and it was nearly impossible with the winds to walk the distance from her office to her small apartment. She was soaked. Raindrops slid down her face, and she felt her half-inch heels squish as she walked to stand at the front counter.

"Can I help you?" the barista said in a thick New York accent.

Rory still hadn't acquired one of those. She'd been living in the city for nearly seven months, and she still sounded like an out-of-towner.

"Uh…Large, regular coffee, please," she requested. She looked around the dimly lit establishment and sighed. Like everything else in the small fragment of The Big Apple, it was fairly trendy-looking, with a few small aspects that stood out. She'd had her reservations about living in a place called Hell's Kitchen, but had learned upon sight that it was nothing like it sounded; anymore, at least. It was once a section of Manhattan that was crime-ridden and dangerous. Now it was a hip, slightly bohemian haven populated with twenty and thirty-somethings.

This was probably why her mother loved to come over so much, and her grandparents frequently made excuses to cancel their visits.

The coffee shop, which was named the Java Chimp (though no one knew why), was, despite the downpour outside, mostly empty. A young woman with her toddler sat in a corner, munching on a cookie, watching her son as he attempted to eat his own, and smile and giggle while doing it.

Rory bit her lip, and turned her attention to the other corner.

There sat a young man, with a cup of coffee in front of him, his head buried into a volume that read The Catcher in the Rye on the cover.

She squinted; he looked familiar but she couldn't place-

He set the book down and grabbed the pencil sitting next to his coffee. He began to scribble onto the pages of the paperback, dark brown eyes narrowed in concentration.

Rory stared in shock.

"Miss?"

Her attention snapped to the barista, who was looking less than pleased with her lack of attention.

Rory cleared her throat and took the cup of coffee that the older woman had been holding out. "Thank you." She quickly walked to a small table not far from the Jess, but far enough not to look suspicious.

Jess.

Jess Mariano.

The Jess Mariano.

Breaker of hearts, professional jackass, and owner of many snide comments and books.

At least that's what Rory had tried to tell herself all these years. If she were to be completely honest with herself, she would say that her relationship with him hadn't been all that bad.

Not bad at all, up until the end.

She closed her eyes and sighed, before opening them up again and giving him a look as she sipped her coffee.

Jess hadn't changed very much since the last time she'd seen him. His hair was still shaggy, but less sloppy, and his attire wasn't so different; a plain, gray t-shirt and a pair of baggy jeans. His leather jacket was draped over the back of chair. He did, however, look much healthier than he had four years prior. Then, he'd seemed much thinner, and pale.

He looked up in thought for a moment, and Rory averted her eyes in an attempt to conceal her presence from him.

Little did she know that he hadn't been reading.

Well…not since Rory had rushed in.

Jess Mariano had been watching her the whole time. He had no idea if she'd even noticed him, but he'd noticed her.

She didn't look too different from the last time he'd seen her (disaster, that…), a little more professional in her skirt suit and heels, but still the same blue eyes and medium length brown hair.

He wondered what would happen if he revealed his presence. Would she rush out? Would she ignore him completely? A million different scenarios rushed through his mind, but he decided not to stress.

What was between them was past history. Three years apart, and both of them had obviously survived without each other. A chance meeting meant nothing.

So…why was he still thinking about her?

He stared down at his book, and then slowly looked over to Rory…Who was looking right back at him.

She quickly averted her eyes once more.

He smirked and shook his head. "You were staring at me," he said, just loud enough for her to hear.

"You were staring at me, too!" Rory cried, looking back at him.

"Guilty as charged," Jess nodded, marking his place in his book.

"Well…stop," she ordered, going back to sipping her coffee.

He gave a slight nod and cracked his book open again. "As you wish."

They sat in silence, Jess reading, and Rory trying not to watch him.

Finally, it all became a bit too much for her. She was, after all, a Gilmore.

"What are you doing here?" she asked bluntly.

He didn't look up from his book this time. "I live here."

"In Hell's Kitchen?" Rory asked.

"No, in this coffee shop," Jess replied sarcastically. "I sleep under the counters."

Rory rolled her eyes. "Forget I said anything."

"Sure."

Again, they lapsed into silence.

This time, it was Jess who spoke first.

"You're living here, too?"

"Just down the block," Rory replied.

He nodded slowly. "Huh. Me, too…on the other side of the street, though."

She blinked.

They lived across the street from each other. Their apartment buildings faced each other. For all Rory knew, Jess could have been the attractive naked guy she'd spotted out her window a few nights back.

Jess…naked.

That was something she hadn't thought about since…

Oh, who was she kidding? She'd been thinking about that last Tuesday.

Jess leaned back in his chair and watched Rory as she turned a dark shade of red. What could she possibly be thinking about that was making her look like a ripe tomato? Was his fly unzipped or something? He looked down at his pants, and took a survey. His fly was zipped, his button was fastened, and all was calm in his nether regions, so why was she looking at him like that?

When he looked back up, she was sitting in the chair across the table from him. "Hi," he said uneasily.

She nodded. "I figured talking to you across the room was getting a little ridiculous."

He nodded and looked back down at his book.

She snatched it from him.

"Hey!"

Rory sighed and looked at the worn cover. Upon flipping through the equally worn pages, she found every page covered with notes. "How many times have you read this?"

"Once a year since my thirteenth birthday," Jess replied automatically.

"Eleven times," Rory clarified. "Only eleven times? That's it?"

"Well…more than that," Jess replied. "I only put notes in it once a year."

"Why?"

He shrugged. "I figure that's how long it takes for me to make a new observation."

"You're weird," Rory commented.

"This is weird," Jess replied.

"What's weird?"

"This," Jess repeated. "A few minutes ago, we were bickering."

She nodded. "Yeah…But we've always been like that, haven't we?"

"I suppose," he sighed. He glanced out the far window and the still-steady rain, wondering what would happen next. Maybe Dean would walk in and declare his love for Rory, sweeping her off her feet, leaving Jess by himself, his paperback his only companion.

That would suck.

When the coffee shop door opened, his head snapped up, and he watched a tall, dark-skinned business man close his umbrella and rush to the front counter to order his drink of choice.

Jess let out an involuntary sigh of relief.

Rory gave him an odd stare. "What?"

"Nothing," he replied.

They stared at each other calmly, before he glanced down at the cover of his book, and she looked to her half-empty coffee cup.

"So…" she started off awkwardly.

"Are you hungry?" he asked.

She raised her eyes to meet his and smirked. "Have you forgotten who you're talking to?"

Jess smirked. "My apologies." He sighed. "There isn't much in the way of substantial food in this place. Feel like braving the rain?"

Rory glanced out the window at the downpour. It had gotten harder since the last time she'd looked. The streets were beginning to flood, and she saw the trees across the street sway ruthlessly with the heavy wind.

She smiled at Jess and leaned back in her seat. "Nah. We can get Danishes."

Jess smirked and nodded. "Okay. We can do that."

END