Leaving This Place

Disclaimer: I don't own any of it. Not even the computer I wrote it on.

Summary: Set 'Say Goodnight, Gracie'. Jess thinks.

Feedback: Reviews are fun. Like a barrel of monkeys. Why anyone would put monkeys in a barrel…I don't know, but it's supposedly a lot of fun.

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He drops his bag next to the bench when he gets to the bus stop. He sits down and let's himself take a look around town. One he knows could very possibly be his last.

He can't stop his gaze from wandering to the window of the diner. His eyes trace over the familiar yellow letters before shifting to the upstairs window. He sees Luke walk into his side of the room, undoubtedly to tell him to get his ass downstairs because his shift started an hour ago. He holds his breath when he sees him freeze for a minute then drop his head.

He thinks he should have left a note.

He turns the page in his book. He doesn't know why. He hasn't even looked at it since he sat down. He hears the bell above the door ring when Luke throws it open. He's never realized how quiet this town really is. Luke leaves the door open.

He thinks that's weird.

He doesn't move when the bus pulls up. He's not ready. The driver beeps the horn twice before he leaves. He shuts his book and throws it in his bag. He decides to go to the bridge. He can't stay here. The next bus is Rory's. She'll be at the bus stop in ten minutes. Maybe less. He knows she likes to get there early.

He thinks he's too weak to tell her he's leaving.

He watches his reflection ripple as he drops another rock into the water. He wonders about his father. Jimmy Mariano. He hasn't thought about him in years. Not since the day his mother told him he walked out on his wife and son and never looked back. But it's seventeen years later and he's back. Or, he was back. Now he's on his way to California. Or he's in California. He's not sure. But he's going to follow him.

He thinks this is best for everyone.

He stays at the bridge for an hour before he finally works up the courage to get on the bus. He goes to a different bus stop. Doesn't want to risk anyone seeing him. That's what he tells himself. Though somewhere he knows it's the other way around. He sits in the back. He doesn't want to deal with anyone.

He thinks he's a coward.

He freezes when he sees her. He purposely avoided her bus, but she's there anyway. He's not all that surprised. She sits next to him. He wants to kiss her, touch her, apologize to her. He doesn't. He knows she sees his bag. She doesn't say anything.

He thinks he loves her.

He tells her he can't take her to prom. She doesn't ask why. They get to Hartford. She asks him to call. He says he will, but knows he won't. She stops to wait for the doors to open. She turns around to look at him. He watches her walk off the bus. The doors close and he reaches for his bag. He takes his book out and a smile spreads across his face.

He thinks he'll stay.