Disclaimer: These characters are so not mine. This particular scenario is though.
AN: An update! After all this time? Indeed, I am still alive and this story has not been long forgotten. I want to wholeheartedly thank every one of you who has reviewed this story since I last posted. In particular, those of you who encouraged me to continue, even after all this time. Each of you did have an effect. Every new review I got reminded me to work on the story a little bit more, until I finally have this new chapter written and more on the way. I'm not sure how much longer this story will go on, but you loyal readers (and I, the writer) deserve a conclusion, so I will continue until the story is done, as this little Rory and Jess story holds a special place in my heart. Unfortunately, my muse has largely moved on from the Gilmore world at this point. Perhaps I'll start posting some of the (far from complete) Firefly stories I have on my computer. (What? You haven't heard of Firefly? Shame! I highly recommend watching the DVDs, and then the movie Serenity…or you can watch the episodes when they begin re-airing on Universal HD Saturday, July 28th at 8pm…Shameless plug over…)
Rory flipped channels on the TV compulsively, unable to find anything remotely interesting enough to distract her from her impatience. Giving up, she turned it off and let the living room settle in to a lonely silence.
Lonely – it was the only word to describe her days since Jess had returned to Philadelphia for work. It wasn't that Rory was truly alone; she'd gone to work in Stamford, eaten at the diner with Lane, and talked with Jess on the phone several times each day. The loneliness settled in when she was by herself in her childhood home, with no one but Paul Anka to keep her company. It was particularly acute when she climbed into bed at night and when she awoke to the stillness of the house in the morning.
She felt silly really, for letting it get to her so much. It surprised her how quickly she had accustomed herself to Jess' presence in her everyday life. Finally, she heard the sounds she'd been waiting to hear all day: voices, footsteps on the porch, and the rattle of the door handle as it was turned.
"Lucy! I'm home," her mother called in a cheery singsong.
Rory was on her feet in a heartbeat, and she rushed around the couch to meet Lorelai in an enthusiastic hug. After some tight squeezing and girlish squealing, they both pulled back to look at one another. Lorelai inspected her closely and glanced around the room quickly.
"So, no drastic changes while I was gone? You still haven't thrown the house trashing party I've been begging you to have all these years?" Lorelai sighed in mock exasperation before looking over her shoulder at Luke.
"Honestly, Luke. I did the best I could while I was raising her. Gave her all the best ideas for keggers and bikers and wild raving house parties. I guess there's no telling why they turn out the way they do."
Luke looked back at Lorelai with a long suffering smile before he turned to Rory to flash a genuinely glad grin. Rory left her mother's side and welcomed him back with a strong hug.
"Hey, Luke. I hope everything went really well for you guys this week."
Luke leaned in and said in a conspiratorial whisper, "Remind me never to take your mother to a cabin in the woods ever again. She's impossible!"
Lorelai, clearly scandalized by his accusation, quickly jumped to her own defense.
"Oh sure, he lured me there with talk of a fireplace and a Jacuzzi, but did he mention the spiders? Or the lack of cable TV? I think not."
"There were spiders?" Rory looked at Luke in horror.
"That's it," Luke chimed in quickly. "I'm taking our bags upstairs because there is no way I'm going to win this one. I bring in wood for the fire and one time there's a teensy spider on one of the logs…"
"It was like Arachnophobia, Rory, I swear! Only, Luke is better looking than Jeff Daniels," Lorelai swore solemnly.
Luke looked back and forth between the two women before giving a good natured eye roll and heading for the upstairs with the luggage. Lorelai watched him go before tossing Rory a smirk and dragging her to the couch.
"Alright, missy. You may not have thrown a house party while we were away, but you did have a boy over. And not just any boy, but Jess. Spill," Lorelai insisted eagerly with a hint of motherly concern.
Rory took a deep breath and met her mom's eyes.
"It was great mom, really great. He was great. Starting the night of the wedding, he stayed here every night. He cooked me breakfast every morning, took me out on a really nice date…"
"And you…" Lorelai trailed off uncertainly.
Lorelai huffed a little impatiently. "You spent every night together? Together, together? How together?"
"I'm just… I'm sorry. I don't want to pry. I'm just a little concerned and…"
"And, honestly? A little freaked out. About Jess and you, staying together, staying here."
Rory felt her cheeks start to burn.
"Mom, Jess stayed here. Yes, in my bed with me, but we didn't… we haven't… we haven't slept together… yet."
"Oh," was the only response Lorelai could come up with.
"We, he and I, decided a while ago we weren't going to rush into anything, and we stuck by that."
"And staying together wasn't rushing into anything?" Lorelai asked tentatively.
Rory swallowed her initial reaction to that statement from her mother and decided that a calmer approach would undoubtedly get through to her mother better.
"Mom, being together with Jess like that… it felt so… right."
At this, Lorelai bit her lip and sat back a little, before giving Rory a look which pleaded for her to keep explaining.
"Everything about it, falling asleep together, waking up to him cooking breakfast, going about the little details of the day and just knowing that he was there… I've never felt anything like that before. And you know what? It wasn't perfect. We fought. More than once. But you know what was incredible? We made up. Neither of us stormed off… or at least stormed very far. We sat and talked things out. I love him, mom. And he loves me."
There it was. The big pronouncement of love. It was almost as scary for Lorelai as the idea had been that Rory and Jess might actually have slept together already.
"He told you he loves you?" Lorelai asked, attempting to keep her apprehension out of her voice.
"He even waited long enough this time for me to respond to him," Rory chuckled half-heartedly. "Though it was right before he left…" she trailed off wryly.
Lorelai let out a short sigh she tried to mask with a supportive smile.
"Well, honey, I think it's…great…you two had a nice time together."
"Yes, absolutely. Great," Lorelai repeated, trying to sound convincing.
Rory shot her mom a skeptical look.
"You don't have to pretend that you think this is great. I know you don't actually think that."
Lorelai smiled guiltily. "Well, maybe not great exactly. But I want it to be great. I'm totally rooting for me feeling that this is a great thing."
"Really?" Rory asked hopefully.
Once again, Lorelai felt a wave of guilt ride over her. "Well, I'm getting there. I'm almost to the rooting part. I swear."
Seeing Rory's disappointment, Lorelai turned on her best puppy dog eyes. She was relieved when Rory cracked a small smile.
"I'm trying sweetie, I really am. It's just that my mother bear instinct kicks in and makes me want to chase away anyone who could hurt you. And, until recently, Jess was definitely in the category of people who could hurt you."
"Mom, for the last time, Jess hasn't been that guy for a long time."
Lorelai raised her hands in mock surrender. "I know. I know. Old habits die hard okay?"
Rory nodded reluctantly.
"Just promise me one thing Rory?"
Rory looked at her mom expectantly.
"Mom! Haven't we already..."
"No! Rory, this is…not about that. And it's different now. Things are different."
Lorelai to a moment to glance up the stairs that Luke had disappeared up before continuing.
"Jess is family now. Luke is – officially – family now. If things go sour between you and Jess… that doesn't change. I need for you to seriously consider that. I mean, have you guys talked about that at all?"
Rory shifted uncomfortably as she responded, "Not really. We did agree to strike the word 'cousins' from our conversations though…too weird. Besides, who's assuming things are going to go badly?"
Lorelai fought back against the blanching which threatened to give away to Rory exactly how scary things going right could be also. She also heard Luke's footsteps at the top of the stairs and decided this conversation probably needed to end, and soon.
"I'm not suggesting things will go badly. I'm just suggesting that you guys should have a talk about the fact that you are family now…as weird as it might be."
Seeing Rory nod reluctantly, Lorelai decided the mood had gotten entirely too serious, especially considering that she was still riding on a high from being on her honeymoon. She wasn't ready to let go of that yet. Putting on her brightest smile to flash to her daughter and her new husband, she cleared her throat pointedly.
Seeing she got both of their attentions, she suggested enthusiastically, "So, who's up for the first official Gilmore-Danes family movie night?"
Rory woke from her sleep to the sounds and smells of breakfast being made in the kitchen. Drowsily, she opened her door and poked her head out to see Luke casually flipping pancakes on the electric griddle he and Lorelai had received as a wedding present. He looked surprised to see her emerging from her room.
"Morning, Rory. Did I wake you?"
"Mmm, you have food, and coffee!" Rory noticed excitedly. "You're allowed to wake me if you have coffee."
Luke gave her a smile and a nod and went back concentrating on the pancakes and the bacon he was frying on the stove. Rory poured herself a cup of coffee and took a seat at the kitchen table. She really liked having these Danes men around the house to cook for her. It would be so sad when she went back to school and had to fend for herself. She sipped gratefully at her coffee while she watched Luke busily cooking and it struck her suddenly that this morning was different than any other time Luke or Jess had cooked for her.
This morning was different because Luke lived here now, and not just as her mom's boyfriend, but as her husband. The man cooking her breakfast this morning wasn't just Luke, he was her step-father. The thought suddenly made her feel giddy inside, even though she wasn't quite sure why. Luke had been around forever, cooking for them and being around their house. He'd even officially moved in a while ago now, and Rory hardly even lived in this house anymore. But this morning, this very special morning, she got to wake up to her step-father making breakfast. Then, her mom would come downstairs and the three of them would eat together, and the fact that her family was no longer just she and her mother would be okay, because the three of them together was right, just as right at it had felt when it was just she and Jess.
She smiled into her last sip from her coffee mug and then stood up to refill it. Before she could finish doing that though, she found herself drawn to join Luke where he was cooking. Noticing her proximity, Luke turned to her and was caught up in a sudden hug around his waist.
"What's this all about, Rory," he asked gently.
Rory allowed herself a moment to rest her head against his chest before answering.
"Because you're here, cooking my mom and me breakfast, and you're family now. My step-dad is making me breakfast. It has a nice ring to it."
Luke was glad Rory couldn't see his face just then, touched as he was by what she just said. So he gently patted her back in a return hug for a few seconds before pulling back.
"Cooking my step-daughter breakfast," he mused. "That does have a nice ring to it."
Sharing one last smile, Luke went back to cooking, and Rory moved to pour herself another cup of coffee. Perhaps talking to Jess about this 'family' business wouldn't be so bad, she considered. After all, this felt so right, and he felt so right. As she took the first sip of her fresh cup of coffee, she savored how good it felt to have so many things going right in her life once again. She was willing to do whatever it took to keep things going right this time...even if it meant discussing with Jess the previously shunned fact that they were officially cous…well, family now.