Disclaimer: Besides dirty thoughts about Jess, I own absolutely nothing.
A/N: Hey everybody! Don't worry, I haven't forgotten about Bend and Not Break. This is just a little side project of mine that I'm working on. Please, please let me know what you think of it because I'm actually really proud of it so far! Enjoy!
Oh, and the title comes from a line in The Quiet Things that No One Ever Know by the eternally awesome Brand New.
Ruined in the Rain
She's sitting in front of the vanity table by herself when Logan's friend Colin comes in, holding an unsealed envelope. He's not wearing his tuxedo jacket or his tie, and his white shirt is unbuttoned at the collar. He hands the envelope to Rory with a sad shake of his head, refusing to look her in the eye. Rory waits until he leaves hurriedly and then removes the paper inside with shaky fingers. The note is written on Plaza stationary, revealing that he wrote it sometime since they checked into the hotel yesterday.
I tried, but I can't do it. I'm sorry. Logan.
Rory sighs, feeling a heavy weight on her heart as tears well up in her eyes. She looks around the room, desperately searching for something unknown to her. Her mother and her bridesmaids are all upstairs. They won't be coming down for another half hour. She wanted to be alone for a little while. She wanted to be able to sit and look in the mirror and revel in the magic that was her wedding day. She wanted to sit and feel gorgeous in her wedding dress and think about the life she was about to have with the man she loved.
She dumbly rereads the note at least a dozen times. She's not surprised, and that fact surprises her the most. She's hurt and devastated. She's heartbroken, which is a term she's been refusing to use since she was sixteen and broke up with her very first boyfriend for the first time. The way she's feeling right now can only be described as destroyed. She feels as though her heart has been physically removed from her chest, torn apart, and then haphazardly placed back in her body. She's dizzy and nauseous and her lungs feel like they've stopped working.
Lorelai told her not to marry Logan. She hadn't said it in so many words, but she'd questioned Rory's decision once too many times, leaving Rory feeling uncomfortable discussing this relationship with her mother. She didn't trust him. She felt that he was going to hurt her, and that he was too immature and too selfish to care for her properly. Rory reminded her that she'd had similar thoughts about Jess. Lorelai reminded her daughter that she'd been right on that matter.
Lane hated him. He was too self-involved and too arrogant and had horrible taste in music. Those were three strikes that Lane found unforgivable. She tolerated him, because Rory was head-over-heels in love with him, but she despised him. When Rory had announced her engagement to her best friend, Lane was unable to keep the disappointed look from crossing her face before switching to a look of happiness.
Her grandparents, on the other hand, absolutely adored him. They thought that it was the perfect match, bragging to all their friends that the Gilmore clan and the Huntzberger family were merging. They were making sure that Rory's wedding was the social event of the season. They rented out the entire Plaza hotel for the occasion and invited all the right people. The wedding had been in the works for a year and a half. They'd been through three wedding planners, seven live bands, twelve florists, and two ring bearers. It was going to be perfect. It was supposed to be perfect.
Rory looked into the mirror. Her eyeliner and mascara were beginning to run as her damp eyes began to spill over. He had turned her into a jilted bride. He didn't love her, or if he did, he didn't love her enough to marry her. And he was too much of a coward to do anything else then run away. Rory felt a new feeling then. She felt a glimmer of anger, but it was quickly quashed by another wave of uncontrollable sadness.
The fear came next. It was still only an undertone to the sadness, but it existed and she could feel it. The childish fear of hearing 'I told you so' seemed supremely real and supremely terrifying. She could almost feel as if she was being judged already, even though nobody knew of this tragedy yet. She could feel dozens of eyes on her, wondering why she wasn't enough to make him stay, wondering how she could live with herself knowing she'd chased away a catch like Logan Huntzberger. She could feel her grandparents' disappointment radiating from them every time they sat down to dinner with her, if they'd ever agree to have dinner with her again. A social disaster like this might be enough to force them to exile her from their lives. They would never forgive her for ruining the good Gilmore name among their friends. She'd forever be an anecdote people told at cocktail parties, the 26-year-old girl who wasn't enough to keep Logan Huntzberger happy. 'Apparently, she was so appalling that he couldn't even go through with the wedding.'
Rory shook her head to clear all thoughts. It didn't work. It only brought her back to her starting point-the unbelievable and overwhelming sadness that had overtaken her entire being. A few tears had spilled from her eyes at this point, leaving black mascara trails down her pink-tinted cheeks. Her eyeliner was completely runny, leaving messy black rings around her red eyes. It hurt so badly. Nothing had ever hurt this badly before. Never had she felt this complete debilitating sadness coupled with utter hopelessness. Never before had she ever actually know what it felt like to be destroyed by a man. She thought that she knew, but she knew nothing about pain until this very moment.
The fear returned then: the fear of judgment, of dealing with her failures. She didn't want to do that. She didn't think that she could do that. She couldn't announce that the wedding was off, that there was nothing more to do, that it was done between her and Logan. She didn't want to have to see the looks on people's face as they judged her and the situation.
So she ran.
She shot up quickly from her spot in front of the vanity table and ran across the room to the door. She pulled it open and took a moment to look around. She saw an emergency exit sign and ran quickly down the hallway towards it. She flung open the door and threw herself into the crisp, damp October air.
Damp. Wet. Moisture. Rory looked up at the gray sky, and was met with raindrops splashing against her face and mixing with her tears. It was raining. She laughed wildly. Of course it was raining. How could there be sunshine on the day her life was ending? She barely felt the rain soaking through the material of her silk dress as she looked up at the sky. She could almost feel it weighing down her lace veil. After a moment, a sound registered in Rory's mind. It was a sharp, painfully obnoxious beeping that brought her back to reality. Of course. Emergency exit meant emergency alarm. Someone would be over soon to see what had happened. She had to keep running. So she did.
Rory was sure she made quite a sight, running down the streets of Manhattan in her vintage, designer silk wedding dress. She had the full skirt in her hands, lifting it away from her feet as she ran. She didn't care though. The only thing that mattered was getting as far away from the Plaza and the people who'd judge her as possible. Rory made it four blocks before she realized that she had absolutely no idea where she was going. She had run for seven blocks when she realized that was a lie. She knew exactly where she was going, but she didn't know how to get there.
Rory ran into the nearest open business, which happened to be a bookstore. For the first time in her life, Rory had no interest in books. Well, she had an interest in one book. She rushed up to the counter, trying to ignore the strange looks she was getting from the girl behind the counter as well as the shop's patrons. She could feel their judging eyes on her, most likely wondering if she was insane or in trouble. Rory tried her best to ignore them as she said to the girl,
"I need a phone book. Please." The desperation was heavy in her voice and in her heart.
"Here." The girl said, looking at Rory was a combination of fear and disdain. Rory quickly flipped through the book until she found the address she was looking for. She had been there once before, but damned if she remembered what direction it was from where she was right now.
Rory turned the book around and pointed the address out to the still annoyed, disgusted sales clerk. "How do I get there?" She demanded.
"Twenty blocks left of here." The girl said in annoyance, snapping her gum.
Rory was out the door again like a flash, running down the street as fast as her legs could carry her. The rain continued to fall, soaking her completely. She didn't even notice. Now and then, she would taste salt and know she was still crying. She tried to ignore the harsh combination of tears and rainwater that was dripping down her face as she ran. She got about nine blocks down before she kicked off her white satin pumps. They landed with dull thuds behind her as she continued to run in her stocking feet. Her pantyhose began to tear on the bottom, leaving holes. She could feel a rock embed itself into her foot, and winced for a moment with the pain it caused. She didn't have time for physical pain though; she was in too much emotional pain. She ignored the sharp stinging in her foot as she continued to run, though now she was hobbling a bit.
She finally made it to her destination, which was a middle-class apartment building identical to the others surrounding it. She was able to pick it out only because she'd been there before. If she hadn't been, she never would've been able to pinpoint which building it was. She stopped on the sidewalk and took a series of deep, panting breaths as she looked up at the building. Regaining her momentum at being so close to the one person who wouldn't judge her, Rory bolted up the front steps. She scanned the buzzers for his name, but didn't need to press the button because at that moment an elderly woman exited the building. She held the door open for Rory with a sweet but confused smile. Rory dashed past the woman, calling out 'thank you' over her shoulder.
Rory sprinted up 9 floors of stairs to his apartment building. There was an elevator, but she couldn't be bothered with elevators at the moment. She made the mad dash up the stairs, almost knocking over a twelve-year-old boy in the process. She stopped in front of 9C, the apartment she knew to be his. Even if she hadn't known which one was his, she would've known at that moment. Instinct may have told her, but she could also hear the Brit-punk sounds of The Clash blaring from inside.
She banged on the door with all her might, willing him to hear her over the loud sounds of Spanish Bombs. She continued to bang so hard that her knuckled busted and began to bleed. She didn't notice, except for the thick red marks that now graced his door.
The music stopped suddenly. The door inched open to the length allowed by the chain. He peered out at her. Her brown hair was matted to her head with rainwater, and a lace veil was clinging to the soaked tendrils of her hair. Her blue eyes were completely red and her make-up was completely smeared in black lines down her soaked face. He didn't know why, but he could point out which droplets were tears and which were from the rain. His gaze continued down to her destroyed, now discolored silk dress that clung to her torso like second skin before flaring out around her slim waist like a pile of wet rags. His gaze fell to her left hand, where her bloody knuckle was dripping red onto the bright diamond of her engagement ring before his gaze fell at her bare feet. One of them was bleeding badly, and he could see the trail of blood and dirt that led down the hallway. The door closed and Rory heard the sound of the chain moving. He pulled open the door the entire way, and the two stared at each other hard for a long while, his concerned and slightly amused brown eyes meeting her pained blue ones. Finally, Jess stood to the side and wordlessly invited Rory to enter his apartment.
She looked gratefully at him and stepped past him, her soaked skirt brushing up against and successfully damping the legs of his jeans. Jess shook his head as he looked at the blood and dirt she was tracking into his apartment. He closed the door quietly and looked over at her. He leaned against the door, and the two resumed their staring match.
"Hi." She said timidly. Before he could respond, Rory finally caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror he had hanging in the hallway. She was an absolute mess. A fresh batch of tears began to fall as Rory's legs buckled. Jess was over at her side in less than an instant. He caught her as she fell, and they both slid down to the floor together. Her tears turned into violent, sickening sobs. She buried her head into Jess's chest, and all he could do was rock her as she cried.
"Hi." Jess whispered in her ear as her sobs began to quiet. She sniffled for a moment before looking up at him silently. Then she began her crying again. Her shoulders shook violently as more tears spilled from her eyes.
"Shh." Jess said, his voice a mixture of awkwardness and comfort. "It's going to be OK."
"No." She croaked, her voice cracked and strained. "No, it's not."
"It will be." He insisted. "Whatever happened, it's going to be OK."
"What do you think happened?" She moaned, pulling away from him and standing up on wobbly legs. She gestured wildly to her appearance.
Jess switched positions so he was leaning back on his elbows and looking at Rory in her destroyed wedding dress. "You were doing a modeling shoot for the bridal issue of Vogue magazine when you got mobbed by crazed fans?"
Rory narrowed her eyes, tears falling from the slits that the action created. "You are not even a little bit funny."
"What do you want me to say, Rory?" Jess demanded, not shifting positions. "I'm sure I could take a wild guess at what happened, but what good is it going to do for me to say it out loud?"
Rory dropped to her knees in front of him. "Say it." She whispered. "Please say it."
"Rory…" Jess said, reluctant to give in to her request.
"Say it." She commanded, lips trembling.
"Richie Rich called off the wedding." Jess said stoically, not allowing any emotion to penetrate the statement.
Rory nodded, the tears flowing freely again. She dropped down so she was lying on her stomach in front of him, her head touching the bare wood floor. "Thank you." She murmured.
"You're welcome, I guess." Jess responded, standing. He offered his hand to her. "C'mon."
Rory looked up at him pathetically. "What?" She asked.
"C'mon." Jess repeated, hand still extended. "Let's get you cleaned up."
Rory looked at him, amazed and thrilled that he wasn't asking any questions. She knew she could count on him to take her in without asking any questions of her. Rory raised her hand to his, allowing him to pull her to her feet. He walked her over to the bedroom and walked over to his dresser to retrieve something. Rory didn't know what he was doing until she saw the bright flash and the purple and green dots that resulted from it.
"Trust me." Jess said with a small smile as he put the disposable camera down. "One day, you're going to laugh about that picture."
Rory stared at him blankly and he walked into the bathroom. He returned with a large towel. He looked at her for a moment, studying her veil. He quickly removed the hairpins holding it in place and let the scrap of destroyed lace fall to the ground. He took the towel and dabbed carefully at Rory's face, removing the make up and water that was staining it.
She took the towel from him. "I can do it." She whispered.
He nodded. "Ok. Look, you can wear any of my clothes, ok?" He said. "Take your pick. Dry off and get out of that dress."
Rory stared at him, willing the tears to stay in her eyes. She nodded slowly. "Thank you."
"No problem." He responded, walking to the door. He smiled soothingly at her before closing the door and leaving her by herself.
Rory looked around Jess's bedroom without much interest. She'd seen this room when he'd given her a quick tour of the apartment. There were bookcases lining the walls, but besides that, the furnishings of the room were minimal. He had a wardrobe, a dresser, a bed, and a side table with a lamp and alarm clock lying on it.
Rory slowly and deliberately walked over to his wardrobe and she opened it, flicking through his clothes carelessly. She didn't really care what she wore. She selected a pair of gray sweatpants and scanned his shirts dully. She removed a plain white T-shirt, in absolutely no mood to be creative with the amusing opportunity to wear Jess's clothes. She looked at the white T-shirt, and realized that she wasn't wearing a bra. She put the shirt back and chose a black one instead.
Jess didn't look back as he heard the door open. Nor did he look at her as he heard the sofa springs groan as she sat down. He continued to stir sugar into the cup of coffee he was making her. Finally, he turned around with the mug in his hand. He resisted the urge to laugh at the way she looked in his clothes. He was skinny, but she was a waif. His clothes were hanging off her thin body as she sat on the couch, knees curled against her chest.
"That's a fashion statement right there." Jess quipped as he crossed the space to the couch.
Rory sniffled and shrugged. "Doesn't matter."
"No, I don't suppose it does." Jess responded, handing her the coffee mug. "Five spoonfuls of sugar, half a spoon of cream." He said.
Rory almost smiled. "I can't believe you remember that." She said, stretching out her legs and accepting the steaming mug.
Jess shrugged and leaned forward to retrieve the first aid kit he had placed on the table. Wordlessly, he took Rory's injured foot and placed it on his lap. "So," he said, "Feel any better now that you're dry?"
Rory took a sip of her coffee, grateful to have caffeine in her system. "I stopped crying." She whispered.
"Well, I think that counts as better." Jess said approvingly, wiping the excess blood from her foot with a paper towel.
Rory nodded and took another long sip of coffee. "I bled on your floor." She said guiltily.
"Doesn't matter." Jess said dismissively. He dabbed an antiseptic pad against the deep gash on her foot, causing her to take in a sharp breath.
Jess inspected her foot curiously, and removed a jagged stone from the heel of her foot. "Look at that." He said, holding up the bloody rock for her inspection. "That was in your skin."
Rory made a disgusted face. "I didn't even feel it." She said softly.
Jess placed a gauze pad against her foot and wrapped a cloth bandage tightly around it. "Well, you had other things on your mind."
"Yeah," Rory said, tears threatening to spill again.
"Give me your left hand." Jess commanded.
"What?" Rory asked, confusion pushing sadness away momentarily.
"Your hand." Jess repeated. "You busted your knuckle."
"Oh." Rory said, still confused. She looked at her hand as she placed it in his. "I wonder how that happened."
"Banging on my door, I'd assume." Jess said simply, wiping the blood away. He touched her diamond ring and she pulled away. "What are you doing?" She demanded in a yelp.
"I have to take it off to bandage your finger." Jess said.
"No." Rory said, holding her hand to her chest and shaking her head furiously.
Jess sighed, but nodded. "Ok."
He sat back, leaning his head against the couch. "So," He said, "I think it's time for the million dollar question here."
Rory sighed. She knew it would come eventually. "What am I doing here?"
"Well, since you brought it up." Jess said with a smirk. "What are you doing here, Rory?"
Rory sighed, and the tears began to spill again. She gently placed her coffee mug down. "I didn't want to have to deal with facing everyone. I knew that if I came here, you wouldn't judge me."
Jess nodded. "Well, you know me well then. You're totally welcome to crash here for today. You can stay the night if you need to. It'll actually be nice to have the company. Rory, you know that everything will be OK, right?"
Jess turned to look at Rory, but she was asleep on his couch, curled up in a little ball.
Jess smirked and shook his head. He gently covered Rory with the blanket that was on the couch. How the Hell did he get himself into messes like this?