Story Title: Never Enough
Epilogue: I've Been Waiting for This Silence All Night Long
Summary: Lit set in present time. Jess never made his season six appearance, but Rory found her way to his book anyhow. Crossover GG/VM.
Keith Mars knocked on the door to the hotel room with one hand, a bottle of tequila stashed under one elbow and a bouquet of daisies occupying the real estate of his other hand. He'd checked with the front desk, but not warned the occupant of his arrival. It was a passing thought, to come here, after the last few hours of intense stress and the free fall from the adrenaline high, to just spend time in the company of a woman who had not lived through his ordeal—someone that was easy to be with. And currently there was only one person he knew that fit that bill. Lucky for him, she was still waylaid in Neptune.
Lorelai Gilmore opened her door, hanging on with one hand as she rested her head against the back of her hand. Her eyes were curious, and a smile brightened her face as her lips curled up.
"Moonlighting as a telepathic bell hop?" she queried.
"I have a theory," he said, which granted him access from the hallway into her room. She shut the door and turned to listen.
"I like theories. Especially on the rocks. Are those for me?" she guessed.
He handed her the daisies. "You didn't seem like a red rose type of gal."
"Can't get anything past a P.I., huh?" she sniffed the flowers.
He brandished the bottle of tequila, moved to the bucket of ice, and took out two glasses from her minibar area. "Tequila has magical qualities," he explained. "And after some days, that are so long and require strengths that you wish you never had to exercise, tequila can rework your brain chemistry so that when you wake up the next day, you're somehow able to cope with the after effects of any event that may have taken place."
She reached for a glass. "Then pour me some of that magic elixir."
He handed her a glass. "Wanna talk about it?"
She gave a short chuckle. "Not really. I mean, it's not even my life. It's hers. And I can't make her do anything. Right?"
"This is coming from the guy that had to shoot a kid who was aiming a gun at my daughter, but I've never found a way to get her to do anything she didn't want to do."
Lorelai's eyes widened. "Oh, Keith. She's okay, though, please tell me that she's…," she cut off.
He put a hand up and nodded. "She's fine. Shaken. Technically, while she was in danger, the gun was first aimed at the kid's stepmother. She got a shoulder wound, a graze, really, as the shot I got off hit him in the arm. I was just looking to disarm him. It lodged into his ribs, but he's in surgery, and he'll be fine, at least as far as his wound is concerned. His stepmom will have him handcuffed to his hospital bed. He got off another shot as he fell, but Veronica's a good ducker, and she's unscathed. She's with… Logan right now. The apartment was too quiet to go home to after I gave my statement, so I thought maybe you might not have left for home yet."
She smiled. "This is the first time I was glad I couldn't get a flight until tomorrow."
"So how is your daughter?" he probed.
Lorelai sighed. "Well, she wasn't in a gunfight earlier, so automatically she's caused me less stress than you've been through. At least, that's what I'll tell myself. She called her fiancé, they aired their grievances, while I sat drinking coffee with Jess. Who loves her, by the way. She's with him. At his house, which is in California. Stupid sunny California."
"I'm familiar with the area. Does that mean you're going to come back to visit?" he asked, with a little hope in his voice.
She took a drink. "Only if I have somewhere to go when I can't stand to be around Jess," she hinted.
"I would be honored to be of assistance to a damsel in distress. Especially when it prevents a homicide."
She took another drink. "Can you be hired to lose someone?"
He laughed. "I'm not a mob boss. But I do a pretty convincing Brando impression if you just need to be cheered up."
"I should be glad she isn't marrying the heir to the empire and losing her to a life of luxury and cocktail parties and pod people. But I don't see why she has to move to California."
"She said she's moving here?" he pressed.
"She just told me that nothing's decided. But I know her. She's going to feel weird about being near Logan for a while. The east coast—the kid is all over the place. They have homes everywhere, he still has friends at Yale. She wants to be with Jess, and he's here, it's going to look way more appealing for them to be in their bubble, away from anything that could cause them derision, at least for a while."
She took a deep breath and held out her empty glass. "I think I need a refill before I answer that."
Veronica shifted her head against his bicep, Logan's skin cooler than hers, a relief in more ways than one. His other arm was wrapped securely around her, the way it had been since Beaver had fallen and the ambulances had arrived. She'd been right, which had once again put her in harm's way. He'd had to watch someone point a gun at her and her dive down to avoid being hit with a bullet. He'd watched, motionless, unable to save her and too far away to sacrifice himself. If it hadn't been for her father, he would have lost her. He held her a little tighter each time that thought cycled through his mind, and at this point if he didn't stop thinking, she wouldn't have room to breathe.
"Thank you," she said at last, after a silence that was not only comfortable but necessary. They hadn't needed to talk—they had just needed to feel the other, to be together without any questions or the need for answers. The stages they would go through, each would take time. But the most important thing, they would both admit, was that the only thing they needed the second after danger had passed was to find their way into each other's arms. "You had my back. And I know I said not to call my dad, but," she swallowed, acknowledging the very thing that he'd replayed in his mind a million times since the gunshots rang out in the mansion's backyard.
"I'm never going to bet against you, Veronica. I may not want to believe you, I may not want to hear the ugly truth about me or any of my buddies, and I sure as hell may not be the man that you deserve, but I will always believe you. And I will always have your back."
She nodded and pressed her cheek back against his arm. His chin rested on the top of her head, and there they sat, fully dressed on top of the covers of his bed, his back arched against the headboard for support as he cradled her smaller frame. She curled around him effortlessly, secure in the knowledge that she could hold onto him for as long as she wanted and he would never push her away.
Rory looked around the small house. It was modest, neat, and as most of her dwellings had always been, filled with books. She put her bag down and smiled at him.
"It's no Neptune Grand," he offered.
She shook her head. "It's better."
He took a step closer to her. "You're really staying?"
She took another step closer still. "If you'll have me."
His eyes slid down her body, following her outlines back up slowly, appreciating every square inch of the woman that was asking to stay with him. She hadn't told him exactly what happened when she called Logan, the man that had wanted her at any cost. He knew how long she'd been gone, the time he'd spent with her mother, during which she'd never seemed to accept the fact that he was back in her daughter's life, though she never threatened him with bodily harm so he was able to chalk it up as a positive outing. He wasn't going to press her for details, he never had, nor had he ever had to. He knew that eventually she'd offer up the rehashing, not to gain his support, but to allow him further into her world. If they were truly going to attempt this, to be together, then it was the kind of thing they would learn to do. They'd offer full disclosure; they'd make decisions with the other in mind. The first of which was where to begin their partnership.
He closed the smallest gap that had remained between them, his hands reaching down for hers. His fingers laced with hers as his head dipped just low enough to brush his lips against her mouth. She kissed him back, her expressing relief that they were finally alone, with no one watching, no one to be hurt by their being together. This place could be their sanctuary for now, and when they left it to go about their lives, they didn't have to look over their shoulders.
"We don't have to make any decisions right now," he murmured into her hair as her fingers eased up to the hemline of his shirt. "I never thought we could get here, so the rest, we can figure out as we go along."
She looked up into his eyes, smiling at the openness he was allowing. The future was theirs, to do with as they pleased. And for now, nothing was going to give her more pleasure than getting settled in her new bedroom. She lifted the fabric of his black tee shirt over his head, tossing it to the side of the living room before crashing back into his body for another kiss. He circled her waist with his arms, kissing her as he guided her backward, not needing sight as they wound their way through the house he'd never envisioned sharing, to what he would only think of as their room from now on.
Veronica woke up slowly, taking note that what she saw as the sleep faded from her eyes was not her bedroom. She was still in the arms of the man she'd long loved and tried to hate. She was safe, she was encased, she was loved. She couldn't fight him, it was taking too much of her energy, and she felt tears welling up at the thought that this could be just another memory that she'd have to pretend didn't matter if she insisted on pushing him away.
She snaked one hand out of his grip, which he held intently even as he slept sitting up with his head lax against the plush headboard of the hotel bed that he called his own for the time being. She touched his cheek, her fingertips soft against the slight stubble that was rising in the middle of the night. She had no idea what time it was or how long she'd been asleep, but now she was awake and focused on this boy who was struggling to be a man. She leaned up, just a little, from her sleeping position on his torso, to find his lips. She traced them first with her fingers, remembering what it was like when he kissed her—the total loss of conscious thought he invoked, the heat he stirred up in her, the way the rest of the world simply fell away. It was like a magic spell that he cast just on her, the power that no one person should have over another. She brought her lower lip in with her teeth, just for a second, a brief hesitation before allowing herself to brush her lips over his.
It took a second, fleeting but perfect, before he was roused from his own slumber to react to her. He didn't care if he was awake or asleep, though soon he'd open his eyes, to make sure. He could have asked her to pinch him, but even he failed to be glib in a moment like this. She had initiated the contact, both the night before by launching herself into her arms, into an embrace he'd failed to break, and now by waking him with this kiss. He knew it wasn't possible, not yet, to close each day or begin each morning this way. They were still victims of their circumstances, and he wouldn't wish every day to be as hellish as the one before just to obtain her presence—he wasn't quite that selfish or masochistic. There was no one left to attempt to make him bend to their wishes, no one he had to obey. But he couldn't argue with the fact someone had stuck around for her. She still had a parent trying to keep her safe, since she didn't need help staying on the straight and narrow. She was his moral compass, his reminder that there were people who cared about something other than themselves.
Suddenly they were no longer in the position he'd held her in for the time they'd spent resting. Now he was rolling her underneath him, easing his weight on top of her—conscious of not hurting her despite knowing she'd been checked at the insistence of her father by the EMTs earlier. He didn't want to give her time to question this, not again, though he would stop if she asked him to. But as her leg hooked around his thigh, he knew that at least for now, she was right where she wanted to be.
Rory got up out of bed, leaving him passed out on his stomach, his leg hanging half off the bed. She grabbed one of his shirts that was slung over the desk chair that was in arm's length of her side of the bed and slipped it on before tiptoeing out of the bedroom and into the hall. As she stood over the kitchen sink, taking a sip of water, she noticed that the sun was just started it's ascent over the horizon, warm rays shooting up to highlight the few puffy clouds that dotted the otherwise clear sky.
It was a new day—the first day of the rest of her life. It would be different now, and she had many decisions to make—or rather, they had lots of decisions to make. Part of her was overwhelmed with the urge to sit down and put pen to paper, mapping out the realities of being in one location versus another. But that was the purely logical side, and she was no longer sure that was the side that was wholly responsible for making her decisions. After all, it hadn't been logical, or on any pro and con list to get on that plane, away from the man she had agreed to marry, school, her family—and yet, here she was, greeting another morning in California. It wasn't as if southern California wasn't without fine schools that could offer her the best of educations. She didn't have to run back home to get her bearings. Her world had gotten much bigger, in a sense, even though for a while at least, she'd cut part of it out and obliterated others. She didn't have to worry about running away from things. She and Jess would run toward things, together. Her dreams were still within reach, because it was her that had the power to work for them. But now, instead of being on a faster track, she knew that no matter how long it took her, she'd be happy in the meantime. She put her glass in the sink, walked back down the hall, and slipped back under the covers next to Jess, who shifted in his sleep to curl an arm around her waist and spoon the front of his body around the back of hers. The rest of their lives could wait for a few more hours to begin.
Lorelai Gilmore thanked the agent as she took her ticket and her ID back. She turned to face Keith Mars one more time before she headed to the security gate.
"Thanks for bringing me. You really didn't have to."
"I hate the idea of beautiful women going to the airport alone. It's barbaric," he mused.
She smiled. "I think I'm going to miss you. Alas, we're two small business owners, passing in the night."
"Is there a lot of tawdry dealings and crime in your town?" he inquired. "Perhaps I should consider opening a satellite office."
"Not unless you call people failing to get the proper permits for lawn tchotchkes and sampling fruit without paying crimes and misdemeanors," she posed.
"No scandalous politicians? Corrupt business leaders? Cops who like to grease the wheels by supporting prostitution and taking more bribes than statements?"
She gave him an eye. "Weren't you the sheriff?"
"I assure you that I'm referring to current incumbents only," he assured her.
"Hmmm. Well, if you ever want a more kindly place to be sheriff, you should come check out our fair hamlet. But something tells me you like being a knight in shining armor in this moral wasteland," she sighed.
"Well, a guy's gotta retire some time," he said. "Or at least take a vacation."
She handed him a business card. "As it turns out, I know a place you can stay the next time you get the old wanderlust," she offered, leaning out to kiss him on the cheek.
He smiled at the gesture and pocketed her card. It was one piece of paperwork that he'd be sure to keep tabs on. "You know, I do offer some pro bono work. I know how mothers worry."
She gave a soft chuckle. "Thanks, but no. I might not always agree with her decisions, but I trust her. He makes her… happy," she managed to say the last word without choking, which she considered progress. "I'll get updates from Rory. Besides, you have your own daughter to keep track of."
He sighed. "Yeah, but mostly she takes care of me these days. Pretty soon she'll be off to college and out of my house. She won't need her old man."
Lorelai touched his chest. "I bet she has a newfound appreciation for her overbearing dad right now. Even though she loves that guy, you're still her hero. Don't let her fool you," she offered.
"Ahh, a female perspective. It's nice to get that without beating it out of my snarky teenaged daughter. I guess this is where we part."
She looked to the bored security workers, waving the next traveler through the line. "You going to be okay?"
"Yeah. I have to go hound Sheriff Lamb and make sure files are charged correctly and remind him that bigamy is a felony sex crime in our state, which is probably the least of what Mrs. Casablancas is guilty of, no matter how much money Mr. Casablancas wants to 'donate' to his next campaign to keep it quiet."
"Women everywhere should sleep better knowing you're in the world, Keith," Lorelai gave him a hug. "I know I will."
"I'll keep an eye out for Rory," he promised, despite her trust in her daughter. He trusted his daughter too, but an extra set of eyes never hurt, or he wouldn't be in business. Unfortunately, it was looking more and more like he was going to have to rely on one Logan Echolls to be in that position with Veronica.
"Goodbye, Keith," she said as she turned and walked up to the TSA worker, who checked her identification against her face, then waved her through to be screened. He stood there, watching her prepare to leave California, without her daughter—just as she'd arrived. He turned at last and left the airport, ready to start another day, happy to know that at least his own daughter was safe, if not taken with a man that had already broken her heart. It seemed Keith and Lorelai had a lot in common in that respect. It was all the more reason to pay a visit to Connecticut someday, for a meeting of kindred spirits and possibly one more bottle of tequila.