Summary: You know, the telephone does work. Rory may not have sent that letter when she was in Washington, but what if she called Jess instead? Oneshot.
Disclaimer: You people are very, very odd if you think I own these characters.
A/N: Kind of random. I was watching LHCD the other night and I got the idea for this. It's been haunting me ever since, so here it is.
She stared at the piece of notebook paper in disgust. Why she couldn't make the words come, she didn't know. Paris rolled her eyes every time she pulled out her notebook and sat down at her desk under the pretense of writing. Her pen never moved; she just got more and more frustrated with herself and her lack of intelligent things to say.
"You know, the telephone does work."
Rory turned around and looked at the girl standing in front of her, her hair in messy pigtails and her arms crossed in front of her chest in annoyance. Paris raised an eyebrow.
"I can't call him," Rory shook her head.
"Are his grunts harder to understand through a phone?"
Rory ignored the jab and continued with her previous thought. "What would I say?"
Paris contemplated the question seriously and then shrugged. "How should I know? At least he'll know you don't hate him."
"Why would he think that I hate him?"
"Let's see," Paris rolled her eyes. "You ignored the obvious attraction between the two of you for the better part of a year, kissed him, ran away, and then seemingly ignored him for a month."
"I knew telling you all of that would come back to bite me in the ass," Rory said wryly. Her eyes widened after a moment and she threw her pen down, spinning around in her chair frantically. "Oh my God! He thinks I hate him!"
"You're right! I totally led him on and then just left it all in Stars Hollow for him to deal with!"
"God, I am so, so stupid," she sighed and slapped her palm against her forehead. "How could I-"
She looked up to see Paris waving the phone in front of her face impatiently, a glint in her eyes. "Call him."
"I don't know what to say."
"Then figure it out; I have a debate to win," Paris sighed and set the phone down on the desk with a clunk before grabbing a stack of papers off of her bed and leaving the dorm room. The door shut loudly behind her and Rory swallowed, hard, as she stared at the white plastic phone in front of her.
She dialed one number, two, three, and then slammed the phone back down when her hands became too sweaty to hold onto it any longer. She rolled her eyes and stared at the mostly-blank piece of paper beside her, the title of the page making her cringe.
What? What was it that she wanted to tell him? That she missed him; that she was sorry; that she wanted to see him? There were too many options, too many subtexts, too many arguments that hung in the fray. Rory sighed and plucked the piece of paper out of her binder, ripping it into tiny pieces and then watching as they fluttered out of her hands and onto the floor.
One number, two, three, she finished dialing and held the phone to hear ear in nervous anticipation.
The blonde winked at him suggestively and he rolled his eyes, turning his gaze back to the text in front of him. Luke asked him to serve their new customer and he patiently explained that he had already tried.
"What do you mean you already tried? She's sitting there without coffee and without food, so the only conclusion I can come to is that she hasn't been served."
"She didn't want anything," Jess shrugged. Luke glared at him and then rolled his eyes as he turned to the busty blonde that was sitting at the counter, looking impatient.
"Can I get you some coffee?"
She twirled her hair absently and frowned when she discovered a split end, popping her gum loudly. Luke cleared his throat and she looked up at him with wide eyes, dropping her hair and looking around at the empty seats surrounding her.
"Were you talking to me?"
"Yes," Luke nodded and scratched the back of his head. "Can I get you anything?"
"Oh," she shook her head, "No."
Jess smirked, "Told you."
"Shut up," Luke grumbled. He brushed past his nephew and made his way into the kitchen, Jess still smirking at him as he did.
The girl at the counter popped her gum again and Jess set his jaw, determinedly focusing on the pages of the book he held in his hands. She continued to twirl her hair and try to look enticing, even going so far as to chew on her thumbnail and draw little designs on the counter with her hand.
When the phone rang he practically jumped at the opportunity to ignore her.
"Hello?" he leaned against the counter and the blonde girl pouted before letting out a huff and hopping off her stool. She stormed out of the diner a second later and he let out a relieved sigh. The line was silent and he furrowed his brow in annoyance. "Hello?"
Startled, he almost dropped the phone. He ran a hand through his hair nervously and looked around the diner, certain it was her mother sitting in a corner playing a trick on him. The only thing he saw was Miss Patty sitting in a corner with Babette, looking at him in a way he was sure could get her sued for sexual harassment.
"Hi," he breathed. Rory sucked in a breath and he smiled a little, familiar with her nervous quirks. This was normal.
"What are you doing?"
"I'm supposed to be working," he replied, smirking. He leaned forward on the counter and folded his elbows to support his weight. His grip on the phone tightened and she gave him a quick apology. "Don't worry about it, the place is dead."
"Oh," she said softly. "Okay."
Jess tapped his fingers against the counter idly, sighing as he ran his hand through his hair again. "How's Washington?"
"Washington's … good. It's good," Rory said. "Definitely different from Stars Hollow."
"Are the people less insane?"
"Well, the people I've been talking to are politicians, so you can make your own decisions about that." He grinned.
A tense silence settled over the line, filled with unspoken questions, stolen kisses, a month of silence, boyfriends, too many things for him to process. He swallowed hard and sighed again. He spoke again and she did the same, their words becoming jumbled in the process. He chuckled lightly.
"What was that?"
"I'm sorry," she said again. Jess froze. "For … running, and for not talking to you sooner and for … everything. I'm sorry, Jess."
"Not like I can blame you," he shrugged. "And don't give me the speech about how it meant nothing, because you know as well as I do that it didn't."
"I wasn't going to say that," she defended.
"No," she said firmly. He nodded a little.
Luke walked out of the kitchen and tapped his foot against the floor impatiently, one eyebrow raised as he watched his nephew on the phone. Jess groaned.
"The diner Nazi is sending me his death glare, I gotta go."
"Can I call you later?" He nodded quickly, then realized he couldn't see her and rolled his eyes at his own stupidity.
"Yeah," he agreed. "I'll talk to you … whenever," he offered.
"Later," he hung up and picked up his order pad, moving around the diner quickly and efficiently so as to avoid the questions Luke was sure to ask if he allowed it to happen.
Rory shrugged against her pillow and snuggled further into the covers, keeping her voice low so as not to wake her roommate. "Guess not," she replied easily. Jess chuckled.
"Why doesn't Paris entertain you? I'm sure the two of you could spend hours talking about … wait, what do you two talk about?"
"Schedules, mostly," she grinned. "Boys when she's feeling particularly girly."
"I have a feeling that's not often."
"No, but it's fun when it does occur," she cuddled further under the covers and sighed contentedly. "What are you doing?"
"Reading," he replied shortly.
"Anything I would like?"
"On the Road? Again?"
"Nostalgia," he said sarcastically. Rory giggled.
"I'm sure," she agreed sleepily. "Read a little to me?"
"You're falling asleep," he accused.
"Am not," she replied defiantly. "Please, Jess?"
She sat down on the bed with a thump and let out a sigh, checking her watch absently. Paris perched gracefully on her own mattress and rested an elbow on her knee to prop her chin up on her hand.
"Like you wouldn't believe," Rory sighed. "But that makes no sense since we're never actually here," she continued after a moment. Paris nodded.
"That seems more appropriate, yes."
"Have you told Jess yet?"
Rory bit the inside of her bottom lip and pretended to be confused. "Told Jess what?"
"About Dean," Paris rolled her eyes.
"What about Dean?"
"Don't be coy."
"Funny, my mother told me to always be coy," Rory grinned. Paris continued to stare at her and she shrugged her shoulders a little. "No, I haven't."
"I think he'd like to know."
"Some people would say you think too much."
"Some people would say you're playing the avoidance game."
"There's a game called Avoidance? I wasn't aware; how do you play?"
"By doing exactly what you're doing right now."
"Wow, I'm already a pro and I haven't even read the rulebook."
The phone rang; sufficiently cutting their banter short and Paris grabbed the phone off her nightstand and held it toward her friend. "Probably your boyfriend," she raised an eyebrow. Rory raised one in turn.
"I don't have a boyfriend."
"Not the bean pole, the bad ass."
"You're a horrible person."
"So my therapist told me," Paris rolled her eyes. Rory kept her hands in her lap and Paris set the phone back down on her nightstand with a clang before answering it herself.
"You sound like a happy camper."
"I'm a regular lumber jack," Paris agreed.
"She's being difficult."
"Like she's ever anything else," Jess smirked. "Can I talk to her?"
"Will you get her out of whatever funk she's put herself in?" Paris asked. Rory huffed.
"I am not in a funk!" she protested. Paris rolled her eyes and Jess chuckled on the other end of the phone.
"I'll do my best," he assured. Paris nodded and handed the phone to Rory, making a comment about getting dinner before grabbing her key off the dresser and leaving the room. Rory rolled her eyes and held the phone to her ear.
"Paris has snapped."
"Like a rubber band," Jess concurred. "What's up?"
"Nothing," she sighed and flopped back on the bed. "Just a little homesick."
"Two weeks left, I think you'll make it."
"That is a very long time," Rory argued. "How do I know that Stars Hollow won't get sucked into another dimension in those two weeks?"
"Since when do we live in the Star Trek reality?"
"Ask Luke," she giggled. Jess chuckled.
"Lorelai still tortures him about that."
"She will until one of them dies," she promised. "And if she dies first then she will haunt him just to tease him about it."
"Glad I don't have any embarrassing obsessions," he commented.
"I'll find one," she swore. "There's got to be something beneath that James Dean exterior we can mock."
"Have fun trying to find it."
"It shall be my mission for the year," she grinned. A comfortable silence settled over the line after he scoffed. Rory flicked a piece of lint off her sweater and let out a sigh. "I broke up with Dean."
Silence. She panicked for a moment before she heard him clear his throat, and a smile spread over her features when he almost choked over his request for her to repeat what she'd said.
"I broke up with Dean," she said softly.
"Oh," he nodded, "That's what I thought you said."
"Yeah," she whispered.
She shoved her last pair of jeans into her suitcase and grinned triumphantly as she zipped it up and set it on the bed with the rest of her bags. The small carry-on she was taking on the plane sat on top of everything else, still open due to the fact that she couldn't find her headphones anywhere.
"Paris, did you take my headphones again?"
"Borrowed," Paris corrected. "I borrowed them. They're on my bed."
Rory stared at the mess of papers and clothing on the other bed and inwardly whined before making her way over to the mattress and digging through everything impatiently. The phone rang and she let out a small whimper of frustration when she found the cord to her headphones sticking out from underneath the heaviest bag she had ever tried to lift.
"Can you get that, please?" she called. Paris appeared from the bathroom a minute later and rolled her eyes as she walked over to the phone and answered it impatiently.
"She's occupied at the moment; can I take a message, Jess?"
Rory dropped the cord and took the phone from Paris swiftly, pointing toward the suitcase. "Lift that and give me my headphones back," she ordered. The blonde glared but did as she was asked. Rory grinned and turned her attention to the phone. "Hi!"
"You sound hyper," Jess commented.
"I'm excited," she corrected. "Three more hours and I'll be home," she sighed.
"Your mom picking you up at the airport?"
"Yeah," she nodded and sat down on her bed. "We're going to the festival and then to my grandparents' for dinner."
"You're actually going to that insanity plea?"
"We go to all of them," she laughed. "Come on, like you don't want to join us and eat a corn dog?"
"Not if it means I have to deal with Taylor."
"Meet me at the bridge at four and I'll make sure he doesn't even see you."
She smiled giddily and bit back a giggle.
He strummed his fingers against the counter impatiently, the book in his hand failing to keep his attention. Luke stood, staring out the window at the bright colors and annoyingly loud sounds of the festival outside. He would randomly glance at Jess and make a comment only to receive bored silence from the younger man.
"Can I go?" Jess asked. He looked at the clock again – 3:55 – and then returned his attention to Luke.
"Go," Luke rolled his eyes. Jess nodded and marked his page, shoving the book in his back pocket as he jogged out of the diner and headed in the direction of the bridge. His pace slowed when he saw her sitting in the middle of the bridge, shoes sitting next to her on the wood, toes skimming the surface of the water distractedly.
Rory glanced up at him when he stepped onto the bridge and grinned. "You made it," she greeted. He nodded succinctly and sat down next to her, hands folded awkwardly in his lap.
"You're home," he replied.
"And nothing's changed," she nodded. "Should've known, huh?"
"Change does seem to be the enemy in this town."
"Shame," she frowned. "Does that mean they won't know how to deal when I'm wandering around town with my new boyfriend?"
"I suppose that all depends on who the new boyfriend is," he said quietly. She smiled at him and he rolled his eyes heavenward. "What'd your mom say?"
"She panicked for a few minutes," she said honestly. "I almost thought she was going to hyperventilate, but … she got over it before I had to call a doctor."
"Good thing," Jess smirked. "You don't handle crisis well."
"How would you know how I handle crisis?"
He raised an eyebrow and realization dawned. "Oh," she amended. "Right," and nodded. Awkward silence settled over the two and finally she let out a breath and grabbed his hand, twining their fingers together. "You know, you never properly asked me out," she scolded.
"Was I supposed to bring flowers?"
"Chocolate," she corrected.
"Take a rain check?"
Rory grinned. "Will I get double the chocolate if I do?"
"Do you really need that much sugar?"
"I have a very high sugar tolerance," she promised. "Willy Wonka has nothing on me." He laughed and felt her squeeze his hand softly. Jess looked at her again and she flushed before leaning in and pressing her lips to his.
"Welcome home," he murmured when they parted. She smiled against his mouth and they kissed again, awkwardness fading with the touch.
"I might have to push you in the lake later," Rory said seriously. Jess raised an eyebrow and tucked her hair behind her ear.
"You stole my welcoming maneuver."
He rolled his eyes and laughed as they kissed again.