A/N: I really had not intended for this to happen, but it did and … I feel like I've told my story. What you are about to read is the final chapter to this fic, and the first multi-chapter fic (not including series) that I've finished on this site. Huge, huge hugs to everyone who has read and/or left a review, and I appreciate your patience and your feedback more than you could possibly imagine.
So, here it is, and I hope you enjoy. Leave me one last review? Please?
She leaned tiredly against him with a yawn, closing her eyes as she snuggled into his chest. He stroked her hair absently and pressed a kiss to her forehead. She smiled a little and mumbled incomprehensibly as she cuddled even closer to him.
"We should find your mom," Jess murmured softly. Rory yawned again and frowned, keeping her eyes closed.
"Too comfy," she mumbled. He laughed a little and wrapped his arm around her tightly, kissing her forehead again.
Richard looked across the room at the couch his granddaughter and her boyfriend were currently occupying and smiled softly. Rory was curled up next to Jess, her arms wrapped loosely around his torso and her head resting lightly on his chest. They were talking and laughing quietly with one another, oblivious to the few stragglers that were still standing around exchanging last goodbyes with one another.
"Sickening, aren't they?"
He turned around and Lorelai smiled at him, gesturing toward the couple on the couch.
"They're always like that," she explained. Richard nodded a little and glanced back at the teenagers again, smiling when Rory giggled.
"She seems to be doing much better," he said softly.
Lorelai nodded, "She is. She's been a lot happier lately."
"Well," Richard took a sip of his drink and nodded, "Then thank God for small miracles."
"Yeah," Lorelai smiled. She patted her father on the arm affectionately and wandered over to the couches, sitting down across the coffee table from Rory and Jess. "Are you her human pillow?"
Jess rolled his eyes and pulled Rory closer to him. "She's tired," he said softly. "Fell asleep on me about a minute ago."
"If your uncle would make an appearance and my mother would do the same so we could say goodbye, we'd be on our merry way," Lorelai grumbled. She scanned the room and again failed to spot either Emily or Luke.
"It's okay," Jess shook his head, "Take your time." Lorelai smiled softly.
"You really are in love with her, aren't you?"
Jess ran a hand through his hair and looked down at the girl in his arms, nodding sheepishly. Lorelai's smile widened into a grin and she patted him on the head as she stood to go search for Luke and Emily.
"We'll see you next week for dinner," Emily smiled. Lorelai nodded a little and pushed Luke out the door.
"Sounds good," she agreed. She was still reeling from the fact that the night had passed without incident; Emily could have asked her to submit her body for alien transmogrification and she would have agreed without even considering it.
Rory yawned tiredly and leaned further into Jess. He wrapped his arm around her waist tighter and gave a little wave as he practically carried her out to the car. Emily smiled after them.
"Lorelai was right," she said softly.
"That she was," Richard agreed from behind her.
Rory moaned tiredly when Jess deposited her in her bed and he laughed quietly as he pushed her hair out of her face. He stood back from the twin mattress and took a moment to stare down at her; her hair was all over the place, her eyes shut tightly as she drifted off to sleep, her clothes twisted awkwardly around her body. He smiled a little and lifted her hand, placing a kiss against her knuckles before letting go and turning to leave the room.
He paused in the doorway and turned back around. She had her eyes open and was staring at him from her position on the bed. He slowly stepped back toward her and took a seat on the edge of the mattress. Rory smiled at him and took his hand in hers, tangling their fingers together.
"I have to go," he whispered quietly. She frowned and sat up to press a gentle kiss against his mouth.
"Stay here tonight," she matched his volume. Jess shook his head and ran his hand along her cheek.
"Lorelai won't let me."
"She'll understand," she smiled, echoing her words from last summer. Jess shivered a little and kissed her again.
"Ror," he kissed her lips chastely, "I really," and again, "have to," and once more, "go."
Rory sighed heavily and kissed him one last time before slipping her arms from around his neck. "I'll see you tomorrow?"
"I'll come over and wake you up," he smirked. "We're in charge of party favors for New Years, remember?" She groaned and fell back against her pillow, laughing tiredly.
"That's right," she nodded. He leaned down and kissed her forehead before standing and exiting her room to go home.
Rory stared at the ceiling blearily for a few minutes before furrowing her brow and rubbing at her eyes to clear them. She reached her hand over the side of the bed and felt underneath the mattress for the small box she had put there months ago. When her fingers curled over the familiar corners of it she bit her lip and pulled the object out from under the bed and set it on her stomach.
She drummed her fingers across the lid of it for a few minutes, quirking her mouth in contemplation.
After a decidedly long thinking period she opened the small box and grasped the piece of metal that resided inside of it, gripping the thin object between her fingers tightly. She winced at the coldness of it and shivered.
This had been her comfort for almost a year.
She tossed the box onto the floor and raised the blade up above her head so she could examine it. There was still a bit of dried blood on the sharpened side of it, and she could see small rust spots forming where here tears had fallen so long ago.
Rory let out a shaky breath and ran the dull edge of the blade along her still-remaining scars - the ones the doctor claimed would never fully heal due to the depth of the cuts - and cringed at the feeling.
She much preferred warm hands and soft voices.
With a sigh, she set the blade on her nightstand and turned over in her bed as she tried to get comfortable. She fleetingly thought of Jess as she was drifting into unconsciousness and smiled to herself when she finally fell asleep.
"You better have coffee," Lorelai said when she opened the door. Jess smirked and held up a small drink carrier, four Styrofoam cups sitting in the little cardboard crate. She took two of them and smiled brightly. "I knew there was a reason I liked you." He rolled his eyes and she wandered into the living room.
Jess set the remaining two coffees on the kitchen table and wandered into his girlfriend's room. She was still asleep, curled up under the covers with her arms wrapped tightly around her pillow. He smiled a little and crawled into the bed next to her, wrapping his arm around her waist from behind and pressing kisses against the back of her neck.
"You better have coffee," she mumbled against her pillow. Jess blinked at the back of her head and then laughed, pressing another kiss to the juncture of her shoulder.
"Do I seem like I want to lose this arm?"
Rory smiled and turned over, burying her head in his chest. "No, but I never know with you," she mumbled. He shook his head and ran his fingers through her hair lightly.
"You better get out there before your mom drinks all four of the cups that I brought over," he murmured. She pulled back enough to look at him and blinked to clear her eyes. She smiled when she could see him fully and pressed a lazy kiss to his chin.
"My boyfriend brings me coffee," she grinned as she got out of bed and wandered into the kitchen, "He loves me more than I thought!" she shouted gleefully. Jess rolled his eyes and followed her, leaning against the doorway of her room.
"Hurry up and get dressed, we have things to do." Rory saluted him and downed her coffee as she headed back into her bedroom to change, shoving him out of the way and shutting her door in the process.
She sighed in relief when they walked into the bookstore, breathing in the scent of unread pages and laughing brightly.
"Finally, a store I actually like," she grinned. Jess shook his head and placed his hand on the small of her back, leading her toward the fiction section.
"Blame your mother for putting you, and consequently me, I might add, in charge of silly string and streamers for a New Year's Eve party that is going to consist of no more than four people," he whispered. Rory smiled at him over her shoulder and dropped the bags she was carrying in an armchair as she started browsing through the shelves.
"I can't believe she's trying to distract me from Christmas by sending me shopping for New Years stuff," she scoffed and ran her fingers over the bindings.
"Yeah, real shocker there," he agreed sarcastically. Rory turned around to punch him in the shoulder and felt her breath catch in her throat when he caught her mouth in a swift kiss. "Now hush and let me look," he whispered. She nodded a little and pulled away from him to continue browsing.
Lorelai slammed her palms against the counter impatiently. "Luke, I demand coffee. Now. And if I need to I'll dance on this counter in order to get it!"
Luke threw his rag over his shoulder and raised an eyebrow at her. "Rather Coyote Ugly of you, don't you think?"
"You saw that movie?" she gaped at him. He rolled his eyes and reached for the coffee pot behind him, pouring her a cup and sliding it across the counter to her.
"You tell no one," he warned. Lorelai grinned over the rim of her cup and took a sip of her coffee.
"Keep the coffee coming and no one will ever know," she swore. He sighed and walked away to serve a customer while she enjoyed her coffee and looked around the diner.
The bell above the door jingled after a few minutes and she turned to see who had walked into the restaurant. Jess was holding a myriad of bags and Rory was rambling about something, seemingly fascinated with the topic. Jess grabbed her hand and pulled her to him, pressing a kiss to her mouth to make her stop talking.
Lorelai squawked out a protest and they separated quickly, Rory turning an endearing shade of red.
"Did you get everything?" Lorelai grinned. Rory sighed and sat down next to her at the counter, dropping her bags at her feet.
"Almost. Taylor apparently put a ban on silly string, so we'll have to go to Hartford for that."
"A ban on silly string?" Lorelai gasped, "We should protest!"
"Yeah, because that'll go over well," Jess commented. He poured Rory a cup of coffee and she smiled at him. He winked at her and walked back around the counter to refill cups of coffee while she turned her attention back to her mother.
"Speaking of protests, have you reconsidered letting me open my Christmas present early?"
Rory narrowed her eyes. "Mother, you are not five. You can wait another two days for Christmas to open your presents."
"But I want them now," Lorelai pouted. Rory shook her head and jumped off her stool, hugging her mother quickly before gathering up the bags at her feet.
"I'm going home to take a shower and attempt to organize all of this before you decide to break it out early. Tell Jess to come by around seven for movies," Rory said as she headed toward the door. Lorelai promised she would and watched as her daughter rushed down the sidewalk in the direction of the Gilmore residence.
She smiled at him when she opened the door and he held up a box from Luke's. "Care package," he explained simply. Her smile widened and she let him into the house before closing the door and following him into the kitchen.
"This was sweet of you," she said softly as she wrapped her arms around his waist and kissed his shoulder. Jess shrugged a little and wrapped his arm around her shoulders.
"Figured we've had pizza at enough of these things already, thought it might be time for a change."
Rory nodded against his shoulder and closed her eyes when he kissed her mouth quickly.
"Where's your mom?"
"Helping Sookie with something at the Inn," she said quietly. Jess nodded and released her so he could sort through the massive amount of food in front of him. Rory nibbled on the inside of her bottom lip as she watched him.
"Why don't you just carry all of this into the living room and start the movie," she suggested. "I have to do something." Jess looked at her curiously but nodded after a moment, turning back to his task.
She left the kitchen and walked into her bedroom, picking up the blade that was lying on her nightstand. She held it in her palm for a minute, staring at it and trying to remember the time she'd been so infatuated with it.
It seemed like light years ago.
She sighed heavily and carried the piece of metal into the kitchen, opening the lid on the trash can and throwing the blade into it harshly. Jess leaned against the doorway of the kitchen and smiled when he heard the metal clink against the plastic that lined the bottom of the garbage.
fin. (the end)