Summary: She was gone. She was gone, and in her place stood someone unrecognizable to anyone who had known her. But maybe that's the key. Maybe she needed someone who didn't know her.
Disclaimer: I don't own anything, so don't sue. It won't get you anywhere.
A/N: This story is extremely AU. I'm home sick today and staring out the window at the thunderclouds that are teasing me mercilessly, so I'm writing.
Warning: Does contain material concerning depression and suicide. Don't read if you have a problem with issues such as overdosing or cutting.
"Tell me about yourself."
She stared blankly at the woman sitting in front of her. She didn't understand how this woman was supposed to help her. This woman was old and seemingly judgmental, eyeing her as though she were the most pathetic excuse for a human being there ever was.
"There isn't much to tell," she said softly, picking at a loose string at the end of her sleeve.
"I'm sure that isn't true."
Judgmental and assuming.
She knew it.
The woman sighed and placed the legal pad she'd been holding on her desk, along with a blue pen. She looked up at the woman again and inwardly cringed at the woman's expression.
"Ms. Gilmore, I don't think you quite realize the consequences of your actions."
She understood. She understood just fine.
"Which actions would those be?"
But she didn't want to make this easy on the woman.
The woman groaned and shook her head.
"You know which actions those are, Ms. Gilmore."
"Kindly stop calling me Ms. Gilmore; my name is Rory," she said the last word slowly and deliberately. The woman sighed and nodded.
"Alright, Rory. Tell me why you did it."
She considered the question – well, demand – for a moment before speaking.
"It felt real."
"Can you elaborate on that?"
"May I ask why not?"
"I believe you just did."
The woman sighed again and tapped a perfectly manicured finger against her chin.
"And to answer your question, I can't elaborate because you wouldn't understand."
"Have you ever slid a box cutter across your skin?"
"No, Rory, I haven't."
"Well then you wouldn't understand."
"I don't understand, Rory."
"I don't expect you to," she said quietly as she traced the path of water droplets down the car window. Her sleeve slid down her arm a little and she saw a flash of red. She closed her eyes for a second before pulling her sleeve back up.
"I'm not talking about that, I'm talking about how you won't even talk to a therapist. A therapist who your grandmother is paying insane amounts of money for because you said you can't talk to anyone who you know. I don't understand."
Rory looked away from the window and stared at her mother.
"You swore you'd talk to someone," Lorelai continued, glancing at her daughter. This was the first time she'd looked away from the window the entire way home.
"I didn't swear I'd talk to a therapist," Rory corrected, absentmindedly tracing the lines on her wrist with her fingernail.
"Who else are you going to talk to, then?"
She didn't answer. She simply turned back to looking out the window.
She looked up at the man – boy – standing in front of her. She blinked a few times.
"That I am," he rolled his eyes and refilled her mug. Just as he turned to walk away she spoke again.
"What's your name?"
"Jess," he called over his shoulder, moving back around the counter and setting the coffee pot down before heading behind the curtain that led up to the apartment above the diner.
She watched the spot that he'd occupied just moments earlier and sighed softly.
"Burger and fries," Luke said softly as he set her plate of food in front of her. She tried to smile at him, but the gesture wasn't completed. She just couldn't bring herself to do it. "How was it?"
"I don't really know. I didn't tell her anything. She bothered me." He nodded.
"You know I don't think you need a therapist." It was her turn to nod.
"I don't either," she whispered.
"Do you need anything else?"
"No, but who's your new employee?"
"My nephew. Why? Was he rude to you?"
"No, no. I was just curious." Luke nodded and left her to eat her burger.
"So that's Rory, huh?"
"That's Rory," Luke agreed as the two men watched her leave the diner. She yanked the hood of her sweatshirt over her head to guard against the storm and started walking in the direction of the bridge.
"She didn't seem 'disturbed,' as you so delicately put it," Jess said sarcastically.
"She never did. But apparently she's been cutting herself," Luke said quietly, glaring at his nephew.
"So you said. That's part of the reason I agreed to come down here, remember? Lizzie said I needed some straightening out and you said I could help her." Luke nodded.
"She just needs someone," Luke explained. Jess sighed and nodded.
"Was that the bridge she was headed toward?"
"That's the one."
"The bridge I used to live on when I was little?"
"The very same."
Jess nodded and looked out the window again.
"I'll be back later," he called as he left the diner.
He watched her carefully as he stepped onto the bridge. She was sitting in the middle, her legs dangling over the water, her expression void of all emotion. The only hint that she was contemplating something was the way she twisted her wrist in her hand, wincing every now and then.
He slowly walked closer to her, deliberately making noise as he did so. She didn't look up at him, but he knew she'd heard him by the way she scooted over, almost imperceptibly, to allow him room to sit.
"This was my favorite place when I was little," he said evenly as he sat down, staring out at the water and the way the rain droplets caused it to ripple.
"What makes you think I care?" she asked after a moment. He couldn't help but smirk.
"Then why'd you tell me that?" He looked over at her and bit back another smirk when he saw her looking back.
"It seemed like an easy way to get you to talk."
Blue met brown in a challenge, daring the other to back down. Neither did. She eyed him warily and he matched her look for icy look.
"You don't want to know me," Rory said finally.
"Seems rather judgmental of you," Jess replied quietly. She stared at him, her eyes widening a little.
"Why are you here?"
"My mom sent me to live with Luke."
"No, I mean why you're here? As in here on the bridge with me?"
"I told you, this was my favorite place when I was little," he responded evenly.
"And you chose right now to be nostalgic?" she bit.
She turned back to the water. He did the same.
A comfortable silence settled between them and she inwardly shivered. She'd never taken part in a comfortable silence before; she especially hadn't taken part in one in the past few months.
And she didn't know what to make of that.
A/N #2: Just sort of a prologue there. I'm not going to continue this if no one is interested, so if you'd drop a review and tell me what you think I'd really appreciate it.
And for anyone who's curious: I have dealt with depression. And I was a cutter. So some of the things you read from Rory's POV will come straight from my mind or my journals. Don't be surprised if they seem real – they are.