Summary: Shock is too tame, anger is meaningless, and hurt is overwhelmingly nondescript. Lit one shot based on a challenge issued by Hider.

Disclaimer: I own nothing.

Challenge: 'Cause fucking up takes practice and I'm feeling well rehearsed.

A/N: This took on a life of its own. I had so intended for it to be something completely different, and this is how it ended up. It's set when Rory comes back from Washington. She didn't see Jess and Shane making out against the tree. And like I said, it took on a life of its own. Do not blame me and let me know what you think.


Something inside of you is begging you to leave. Just turn around; walk away. It wouldn't be all that difficult. Yet you continue to walk down the short hallway. Uncensored gasps fill your ears, settling in your veins and weighing down your limbs. You want to think you're losing your mind.

And when you open the door you're sure you have.

Him; her; the hardwood floor of his uncle's home.

You can taste the bile in your throat and the salt stinging the blue pools of your eyes. Shock is too tame, anger is meaningless, and hurt is overwhelmingly nondescript.

The door slams shut behind you and you fly out of the apartment. Your cheeks are wet and streaked with black; your heart refuses to stop pounding. The townies murmur after you as you streak out the door. The bell jingles twice in fast succession: once after your departure, once after his.

Music blasts through the town square and fills your senses with a false sense of calm. Everyone's getting ready for the festival; they're smiling and laughing and blurring past you. They aren't aware of the tears streaking down the town princess' face over a boy that shouldn't mean anything to her.

But he does.

And you hate that you were so blissfully ignorant while you were in Washington.

You'd just assumed he would wait for you.

You're an idiot.

He grabs your arm and you tense, jerking away and continuing to walk down the decorated sidewalk.

He catches up with you and you ignore him, continuing in the direction of the bridge. Ghosts; memories; emotions strike you like lightning and you're not sure what you've been doing for the past two months.

Two months without him there.

Two months without a word to explain to him all that you couldn't say before; what you can't say even now.

He grips your arm again and you spin to face him in defeat. You don't bother to suppress the sobs at this point; it's not like it really matters. Your eyes scan his facial features, taking in the distinct angle of his jaw, his crooked lip, his eyes…

And suddenly it's easy. You're explaining the entire convoluted situation as though it means nothing. The kiss, Dean, Washington, the dozens of unfinished letters that reside in your unpacked suitcase just aching to be in his hands; the way you thought about calling him every single day and even dialed the number a few times but hung up when your throat dried out and you lost the words.

He just stares at you.

You scream, then, piercing the subdued quiet of the park. You close your eyes and let out a shaky breath, forcing yourself to stop quivering.

"I wasn't supposed to fuck this up," he says quietly. You open your eyes slowly, deliberately. Inhale; exhale; focus. "That's all I ever did back in New York and I swore I wouldn't do that this time around. Not with you; with u-"

He cuts himself off and looks at the wood below him. It's his specialty: fucking things up. You think you get it, now.


He pretends he didn't hear you.

"Jess, us? Is that what you were going to say?"

He closes his eyes tightly and runs a hand through his hair.

"There isn't an us to fuck up, is there?"

You inhale sharply and back away from him. Slow steps, feet keeping pace with your lungs. The tears are back.

You could be a 'we,' an 'us,' a couple.

If you hadn't run; if you had just said something, anything to make him understand everything that you poured into that kiss.

"There should be," you whisper.


"Who is she?"

He sighs, stepping closer to you and tugging on your hand, trying to pull you closer. You refuse and whimper a little when you snap your hand back. The loss of contact burns.

"She's a distraction," he says softly. He's defeated; done with running from this.

"From what?" you beg, plead with him to explain the situation.

"You," he says finally. "Damnit, Rory, don't you get it? It's always you!"

You nod a little and wipe your tears away. So he was waiting. A moment later your lips find his and you sigh, clutching onto him in an attempt not to float away.

"Don't fuck it up this time," you whisper when you part. He nods a little and you kiss again.