Disclaimer: I own nothing. On the downside, I'm completely poor. The upside, however, is that no one can blame me for Season 5 Rory.
A/N: This is my third installment of Alternate Scenes for Literati Lovers. Thanks to you all for the great response I'm getting to these stories. It's immensely appreciated. Anyhow, this is an alternate way that Nag Hammadi…could've gone if Jess and Rory had actually had a conversation. The title comes from the song of the same name by Nirvana.
"I get to walk away first!" Rory exclaimed, trying desperately not to cry in front of him. She spun around on her heel and marched away quickly.
"Wait!" Jess said, following her. "Rory!"
"No!" Rory said with as much force as she could muster, not turning around. "I get to walk away first! You always walk away first. It's my turn!"
"Rory! Stop running!" Jess said, still chasing after her.
"No! Stop following!" Rory barked, breaking into a run.
"Rory!" Jess said again, quickening his own pace and touching her shoulder.
Rory finally stopped, and turned around. "What? What could you possibly have to say?"
Jess took a series of deep breaths. "When did you learn to run like that?"
"That's what you have to say?" Rory practically shrieked.
"No!" Jess said. "I-."
Rory interrupted him. "You know, I've thought about this moment a lot. What would happen if I ever saw Jess again? What could he possibly say? I mean, he was my boyfriend who walked out on me without a call, without a note, without a goodbye of any kind. Could he possibly have an explanation? Then a year went by, and there was still no sign of you or word from you, so that explanation would have to be even more amazing than I originally thought. I've thought of several scenarios. I'm really curious as to which way this is going to go."
Jess made his best attempt to look unfazed by her words. "Can we sit?" He pleaded.
"No." Rory said. "You wanted to talk? Talk. Let's hear it. Let's hear the amazing thing you have to say to me after-."
"I love you." Jess blurted out, cutting off the end of Rory's embittered sentence.
A heavy silence hung between them as they stared at each other. Jess was still breathing heavily and looking at Rory intently, searching for any sign of response on her blank face.
"OK." Rory finally responded. "Now I need to sit down."
She turned and walked towards the tables that were set up because of the festival. She sank down into a folding chair and looked at her hands. Her head shot up as Jess sat down across from her. She wasn't expecting him to follow her. She thought he was just going to leave.
"Still here?" She asked snidely, trying desperately to mask her true emotions.
Jess smirked. "You aren't going to drive me away by being mean. I know I deserve every word."
"Oh really?" Rory asked. "So telling you that you're the biggest jerk I've ever known, and the most immature, rude, cruel, hurtful guy in probably the entire universe wouldn't send you away? Because less than that has sent you flying before." Rory snapped. This was good. Being mad helped her take her mind off of what he had just said.
Jess leaned forward slightly, the smirk melting as he asked seriously, "Do you think any of it is stuff I haven't thought about myself for everything I did to you?"
"Don't." Rory snapped. "You don't get to feel bad about that. I get to feel bad about what you did to me."
"You think I don't regret it?" Jess demanded.
"I think that you shouldn't have done it in the first place!" Rory said harshly. "You should've told me what was going on. You never let me in on anything. I could've helped you! I could've been there for you."
"Great. That's exactly what I needed. Perfect Rory Gilmore feeling sorry for me." Jess said sarcastically.
Rory rolled her eyes. "It was never like that. I never felt sorry for you. I admired you. Well, most of the time anyway. I thought you were strong. I know now how wrong I was."
Jess looked down, guilt in his eyes. "I didn't want to let you down."
"There were probably better ways to let me know that than running away just when I was…just when we were getting closer." Rory said.
Jess met her eyes again. "I'm sorry."
If there was one thing she never expected him to say, that was it. Saying 'I love you' paled immensely in comparison to an apology from Jess.
"I don't forgive you." Rory said hoarsely, still not allowing the tears to fall.
Jess shrugged. "Didn't expect you to. It needed to be said though."
"It doesn't make things better." Rory snapped. The first tear fell, but Rory managed to stifle the rest that threatened to follow.
Jess smirked. "If I thought there was a way to make things better, don't you think I'd try it?"
"Would you?" Rory asked, not knowing the answer.
"Yeah." Jess said honestly. "A year ago, I wouldn't have. But now, I would."
"What changed?" Rory asked.
"Me." Jess responded.
Rory scanned his face curiously. There was something in his eyes, in his voice, in the way he was holding himself that confirmed his statement. He didn't look as…vacant as he used to.
"Was it worth it?" Rory demanded, the anger and bitterness still in her voice.
Jess shrugged. "I guess that depends."
"You." Jess said simply, staring at Rory with an intent desperation in his eyes.
Rory could feel her chin quivering. "Me?" She asked.
Jess nodded. "You." He repeated. "I know I don't deserve another chance…" He started.
"No." Rory said, shaking her head. "You don't."
"But since when has that stopped you?" Jess asked, reaching out and putting a hand on top of hers. She tensed noticeably at his touch, but she didn't pull away.
"I loved you." Rory whispered, looking down at where his hand covered hers. She looked back up at him and continued, "Everyone tried to warn me. Everyone knew you were going to hurt me. I was stupid. I wouldn't listen. I thought I saw something in you. Then you proved me wrong."
Jess retracted his hand with a nod. He stood, looking at her in disappointed understanding. "OK." He said simply, starting to walk away.
"And there you go doing it again." Rory said, shaking her head sadly. Jess turned back around.
"Stop walking away." Rory commanded. "I wasn't done."
Jess tried hard not to smirk, but he failed. His lips curled up slightly and he sat back down.
"I'm a stupid girl." Rory continued. "I let my emotions get the better of me. But only when it comes to you. Do you know why?"
Jess shook his head, assuming she didn't want an actual answer.
"Because as much as you hurt me, and as much as you proved everyone right over and over and over again, I still love you."
Jess's smirk turned into a genuine smile. "Yeah?"
"Yeah." Rory said. "I told you I was stupid."
"I'm stupid too." Jess offered, again putting his hand on top of Rory's. She didn't tense up this time.
"I know." She said simply, finally letting all the bitterness disappear from her voice.
"Do you want to…be stupid together?" Jess asked, looking at her hopefully.
Rory considered the question seriously for a very long moment. "Maybe."
"I can handle maybe." Jess said, standing again. "I've got to go, but I'll call you?"
Rory cringed, pained at being reminded of the last time she'd seen him.
Jess noticed the change in her expression and walked over to her. He tilted her chin up with two of his fingers. "I'll call you." He said firmly, and she knew that he meant it.
Rory opened her mouth to respond, but was stopped by Jess's lips. He kissed her lightly, barely a whisper of his mouth before he pulled away. He turned around and walked towards his car, not looking back at her.
Rory allowed herself to smile as she watched his retreating form. It was so much easier to watch him walk away when she knew he was coming back.