Hovering outside, the clouds are a deeply threatening gray, and she watches them roll past with a detached fascination. Reaching her finger up, she breathes some life onto the windowpane, tracing tiny circles into the now misty area. It's a hypnotized action, all focused but not at all, mechanical and meticulous because she doesn't have the energy to put real effort or skill into it. Above the circles she sees other figures, cartoon shapes and random notes she's left for him on previous occasions.
She slides her palm across them but they are stained and stubbornly refuse to budge, the trademark of an expensive, stupid piece of glass.
"I'm going," he murmurs from somewhere behind her.
Rory doesn't bother to look; she's hardly paying attention. She sighs deeply, almost as if she's considering his words. "So go."
"I don't like this, Ace. There are only so many ways I know how to apologize."
"Huh." She doesn't bother to turn around.
"I'll be back in a couple of days."
He approaches her delicately and with such hesitation she feels inclined to roll her eyes. His arms go on either side of her and he leans down, pressing a brief kiss to her lips. She keeps her gaze on him and can't help but react to the careless gesture, some kiss he's given a thousand other girls before. Maybe it's genuine, but she can't tell anymore.
"You're acting like a spoiled brat, you know that?" Logan steps back, grinding his teeth. "This is ridiculous."
"Do you want to be the pot or the kettle today?" Rory turns her attention back to the window, tracing circles over circles, an infinite cycle of repetition that leads nowhere, something she's grown accustomed to in this apartment, inside these walls, this pathetic excuse for a relationship.
"All I know is I'm trying, and you're...I'll see you in a few days. Try not to run off to, oh I don't know, Philly or something between then and now, would you?"
It's all she can do not to laugh, and even then, she feels herself failing a little. Quietly, she tries to suppress a giggle but it comes across anyway, vicious and unheeding. Without looking back she can hear him pack the last of his things, slam the door on the way out.
For a moment, everything is still. Rain is coming down in waves, splattering against the pristine glass. Leaning against the surface, she closes her eyes and remembers words she doesn't recall hearing the first time around.
"You and me. It is what it is."
Apparently she's established a pattern without knowing it, compromised herself and someone else along the way.
She hates that he has it together, all of it. Both proud and envious of him all the same, she can't take the fact that perhaps he's right about this.
"I love him."
Something about the moment rings false. What it is she can't quite place. It's nagging at her and blinding all the same. The room grows fuzzier, graying along with the clouds. The rain is spottier than usual, a glimmering white and when she looks down again, she finds her hand covered in blood.
The window is shattered, shards of glass lying across her skirt precariously. Drops of rain filter through, matching the crimson dripping to the floor beat for beat. "Shit," she mumbles to herself.
A knock at the door breaks her from her daze. With her good hand, she picks off the pieces from her clothes and hops over the mess in two easy steps. Along the way she slips into a pair of shoes for good measure. Her hand goes behind her back, unaware of the mess she's making of her clothes, but feels it sting all the same. Reaching out, she opens the door, barely a crack, and peeks out.
Jess sees her eyes first, hidden beneath a mess of bangs, oddly dull today and flickering with a hint of pain. "Can I come in?"
"Jess…what are you doing here?" she asks, wincing a little. Her fingers are completely soaked by now, and as much as she tries, she's never been good at feigning bravery.
"I uh…when you left the store…you left your book. I thought I'd return it," he holds the copy up, proving in fact that he has a specific reason to be here. At this point he's reminding himself more than her.
"You came all the way here just to return the book?"
Naturally, she doesn't buy it. He's not entirely sure he expected her to. "Well, you said you liked it, right?"
"Can I come in, Rory, because this is feeling a little awkward."
"Now isn't really a good time, Jess."
"Why, is he here?"
"No, he's not here."
"Don't be an ass."
"Sorry. Why is it a…" he trails off, his eyes lowering to the floor at the hint of something dark dripping down her calf. Without waiting for a response, he pushes his way in and grabs her, though gently, pulling her arm out with extreme care. "Jesus." He looks over at her, then at the smashed window, the pieces fitting together faster than he wants to assemble them. "Did he…"
"He's not here, remember?" Rory leans against the doorframe, a wave of dizziness washing over her.
"So all of a sudden you decided to pull a Paul Schneider on his window? Nice." Jess finds his way to the kitchen with ease, grabbing a dishtowel and running back to her quickly.
Rory glances to his book, now on the floor and marred with her blood and can't help but find it somehow fitting. Tiredly, she lifts her head as Jess wraps the cloth around her arm, whimpering at the dry contact of the rough fabric against her broken skin.
"You need to get to a hospital," he says calmly, panicked as hell in his own mind. This is unlike her, more out of character than he would ever expect from Rory, though his expectations have been low the past few months.
"It's fine, they're just a couple of cuts."
"You look like Charles Manson offered you the shit end of the stick. Your shirt's a mess, you need stitches Rory."
"So dramatic," she laughs softly. "My god I've never seen you so paranoid."
"I've never seen you so idiotic, so I guess it's a day of firsts, isn't it?"
"I didn't ask you to come here, Jess. And I don't even know why you even came here in the first place, because I know it wasn't for the book…which is…really disgusting right now, by the way. Sorry." Rory leans forward, her head hitting his with a dull thud.
After he's secured the cloth around her arm, he sweeps her up off the ground. The blood soaks through quickly. Jess isn't sure he's ever seen anybody bleed so much from something so small, but then again, Rory is much frailer than he'd remembered. Vaguely, he can feel it staining his favorite t-shirt but cannot bring himself to do anything but worry for her.
"I can walk, you know," Rory grumbles, halfway unconscious already.
"Yeah well, I'm feeling romantic," Jess mutters, thankful that she forgot to close the door.
Hours later, back at Logan's apartment, the air is quiet. The rain has since stopped, clouds parting to allow the faintest idea of sunshine to slide through the hole in the window. Pieces of glass have been cleaned up, newspapers scattered across the carpeting just in case.
Blood has been dried, now a crass brown color, and right now there isn't anything that can be done about it. Jess paces the unfamiliar apartment, now glad for its large frame as it gives him the freedom not to feel so claustrophobic. His hands rest nervously on his skinny, awkward hips, and it's all he can do not to watch her sleep.
The slow and steady rise and fall of her chest is enough to calm him a little, but not by much. Even sleeping she looks discontent, and he doesn't know how to fix it. Moments like these remind him that he should be here, not elsewhere and for a second he wishes the roles were reversed, that he could still be the fuck-up because her misery burns him on a much deeper level.
Slowly, he makes his way to the bed he doesn't share with her, won't share with her, and crawls in beside her. Logan's scent is still on the sheets and he has to suck in a breath to keep from vomiting. He shouldn't be doing this, logic screams at him to get out of the bed and the hell out of this place. Why he's back here, yet again, he doesn't know. She's made her stance clear, but he's a masochist.
Then again, so is she.
And under these circumstances, logic has no place. He shifts his body so that he is directly behind her, leaving just enough space for it to remain torturous. His eyes wander over her new cast, having broken two bones in her hand and now adorning a colorful amount of stitches.
It still feels like it's his fault, somehow, the second time around.
Outside, the darkness of evening is beginning to creep in, slowly but surely. Rory turns in her sleep, curling her body into his, making the slightest fuss as she does so. He brushes the hair away from her face, missing her eyes, wishing he could see the brightness that is now noticeably absent. Pulling her closer, he breathes a kiss into her hair and closes his eyes, chasing sleep.
The world is still a little bit murky as Rory adjusts her vision to her surroundings. The first thing she sees is olive skin and a pensive, unsettled expression. Jess is still asleep, and she can't quite remember when he got here or why it is that he's still here but it's a greater comfort than she expected. She smiles a little, almost genuinely, and reaches up without thinking to touch his face. Her left hand glides up, fingers light and airy against his skin. It feels a little rough, and she guesses he hasn't shaved in a few days, though it's still difficult to tell. Something in the touch makes her queasy, but in a way she thinks she could grow used to.
He flinches and suddenly he's awake, lacing his fingers through hers absently. "You're alive," he mumbles, not opening his eyes.
"So it would seem," she answers, her voice still caked with sleep.
"Good. Otherwise you'd have been a pain in my ass for no reason," he smirks and it's all too familiar.
Events come back to her, today's and yesterday's, months and years ago and she can very clearly picture him at Sookie's wedding for a second. The thought disappears as she rolls over onto her back and finds a monstrous cast wrapped around her right arm.
"Keep it elevated," he orders gently.
"Okay…oh…Jess, I'm so sorry."
"Don't do that," he rubs his palm across his face and stares at the ceiling, expecting there to be a poster or spot or something that will remind him of Rory. There isn't a single thing in this apartment that looks or sounds like her.
"I feel stupid."
Turning his head, he sees her clearly for the first time since he's been back. "What's going on with you, Rory?"
"I don't know." She does, a little, but her confusion in this moment, the queasiness and excitement that comes with feeling his skin against hers is enough to shut her up for now.
"Don't give me that, you do know. This isn't you, I mean, I feel like I'm beating a dead horse right now but it's just…not. Since when do you punch in windows?"
"I didn't even realize…I feel stupid."
"I just…I don't get it, y'know?"
"The windows were stained, and I couldn't get the marks off. And he was talking, and it's the same crap all over again, the same speech, it's like he can't even think of a new way to say the same shit. He's sorry and I guess he is, I mean, he must be, right? Otherwise I wouldn't still be here, or maybe I would, because I'm stupid."
"What?" Rory turns to him, suddenly defensive.
"You still ramble. It's nice, the non-lobotomized version of you."
"Why did you come here today Jess?"
"I wanted to see you. I tried talking myself out of it, believe me, several conversations were had and I'm pretty sure I'm certifiably insane at this point because I talked to myself the whole drive down here and still ended up at your door." The honesty thing, it's never been his strong suit. When he does try, it all comes out like some regurgitated version of some bad movie, and just as soon he wishes he'd never said anything.
"You don't deserve this, you were right." She wants to touch him so badly she can feel her fingers itching, fighting what little self-control she has left.
"Well apparently I'm a glutton for punishment," Jess chuckles, his features softening as he catches the tears in her eyes. "Rory…come on…talk. It's just me, alright?"
The tears slide down at an almost excruciating pace, and he cannot help but brush his thumb across her face to get rid of them.
"I just…I don't know, Jess, it felt really good for a second though, you know? When he left, and all I wanted was to get his voice out of my head. And I did, and it felt really, really good. It hurts, it hurt, but right then I knew I was still there. I wasn't disappearing. I always feel like I'm disappearing with him. I want him to be…" Rory stops as soon as she feels the words on her tongue.
"What?" he asks.
"Okay…you're not disappearing, okay? You're not." His voice is firm, and as much as she wants to doubt him, she trusts every word of it, just because the source has never been wrong. "I can make sure of that," he says, tapping her cast. "See…still here, still crazy."
Jess sits up, swinging his legs over the side of the bed. "Let me go get us some dinner. Where's the closest restaurant?" He shrugs himself into his jacket, searching for the shoes he's misplaced by now.
"I want him to be you."
He stops cold, falling back onto the bed, making sure he's not looking at her. At this particular moment, he thinks he might actually vomit if he does. "I can't do this Rory, I can't keep doing this. You said, when you were in Philadelphia, that…"
"I remember what I said."
"Good. So do I."
"But that wasn't it."
"Rory, just let me get you some food, alright? You've got a hell of a lot of morphine in you right now…"
"Jess. I…I've been nauseous since I was seventeen," she admits, tugging at his hand.
Reluctantly, he turns around. "Well that's generally not a good sign."
"Shut up and let me talk for a second…please. I've...and it won't go away and it's been driving me nuts. I couldn't think about it when I was there to see you, I thought I was there for something else, that I felt sick for different reasons. But I wasn't. So I guess what it is…is that I came there to vomit. Not on you, exactly, because that would be bad, but just, you know, in front of you. If that's okay."
"I wanted him to be you, Jess. And he's not. And I know that's not his fault because, well, you're you." She explains, adding as an afterthought, "and it's the only thing I know to go by, because it's the only thing that ever made sense to me. So even if you don't…and that's fine if you don't…I just need to know that you'll still be around so that I have something to make sense of."
Jess closes the distance between them and pulls the blankets higher onto her tiny frame. She smiles at him, the scared little girl he met years ago, lost in a way he's never seen her. But there's a slight glimmer in her eyes, something hopeful.
She leans forward and presses her lips against his, relieved by his crooked mouth, now smiling. He brings her closer and the taste is sweeter than he remembered, not as nauseous but just…as it should be.
"Rory..wait…" Already a little out of breath, he lends kisses to every available part of her face.
"This place is seriously giving me the creeps."
Rory laughs, and it may very well be the most gorgeous sound he's ever heard. "Let's go home," she says, and the world grows quiet again.