Summary: AU, Post-3x05. Rory. Jess. A midnight talk on the front lawn when nothing and everything needs to change. Oneshot.
Disclaimer: If I owned them, Jess would still be a regular on the show.
Prompt: It's rock paper scissors as to whether I'll get over you at all.
A/N: I couldn't ignore the idea, especially when Rory and Jess started bickering back and forth in my head about the situation. This is also written for a prompt that was given to me by Hider, which is written above. Reviews are cherished.
The stars pulsed. Beat down on her like sunshine, bright and unwavering in the black velvet sky. She closed her eyes and immersed herself in the darkness; let it swallow her whole as she lay in the front yard.
Studying. That was what she was supposed to be doing, but she was tired of throwing herself into textbooks on Friday nights when everyone else was out having fun with their boyfriends. Girlfriends. Random hook-ups. It didn't much matter, and she wasn't fond of generalizations. The point was that Rory was just … tired. Of the entire routine, and she had herself to blame for a large portion of it refusing to change.
She shifted against the grass, stretching her arms above her head before lowering them and resting her hands across her stomach. Her mother was gone for the evening, a girls' night with Sookie that they both deserved more than they would ever claim, and Rory was taking advantage of the quiet. For once there wasn't a town event clogging up the airwaves and she felt like she could breathe easier without the constant noise and company that she was usually around.
And then she heard footsteps intruding on her sanctum and a groan was ripped from low in her throat. The footsteps stopped and she kept her eyes closed, refusing to acknowledge this new presence in the darkness. She knew who it was; didn't need to confirm her suspicions.
There was only one person would be wandering the town this late.
"Wow. Ya know, you keep practicing like that and you'll have Juliet down pat next time some crazy teacher makes you perform Shakespeare," he drawled, slow and mocking. Her mouth tugged up at the corner and she shrugged easily, drumming her fingers on her stomach.
"You know me. Always prepared," she murmured. The bite was missing, drowned out by the lazy tone of her voice, and she heard him smirk as he took a few steps closer to her.
"This afternoon contradicts that little statement," he teased, coming to a stop just a few feet away from her. Rory slowly opened her eyes and stared up at him, wide blue eyes appraising his outline earnestly. Jess cocked his head to the side slightly.
"Sprinklers and I were not designed to get along," she informed him haughtily. "They were never made to be my soul mate and I never claimed anything of the sort."
"My mistake," he accepted lightly. She continued to stare at him and he arched his eyebrow slowly, nodding toward the front stairs. "Where's your mom?"
"Leaving you locked out?" he asked. A laugh bubbled up her throat and she bit her lip to keep it from spilling out, shaking her head slowly.
"No," she drew the word out so that it wavered, split into two syllables. He waited for her to continue and she sighed after a moment. "Just wanted some fresh air," she whispered. Turning her head back to look at the sky above her, she bit her lip and slid her hands self-consciously down her body to make sure her shirt was still in place.
Excess skin showing was not what she needed right now.
Jess stared at her for a few more minutes and then let out a sigh, running his hand through his hair. He turned to leave and she locked her gaze onto his back, a frown marring her features. The words spilled from her mouth before her mind even registered thinking them. "Do you know any of the constellations?"
He stopped. She inhaled deeply and kept her eyes on his when he turned to face her again, heart beat rapidly increasing. There was a pause and then he shrugged. "The major ones."
"Yeah," she nodded and smiled softly before breaking the gaze and looking at the sky again. "Me too," she agreed. "I never really took the time to find any of the others."
"My mom used to make them up when I was little," she admitted. He took a few steps closer to her and Rory lowered her hands to her sides, clenching coarse grass between her fingers.
"Like what? She Who Shops For Shoes?"
"Close," she laughed with a nod. Softer, "She said everyone has a star. That a new one is born with every child's birth, and that every time that child laughs the star gets brighter and easier to see."
"And you believed her?" he snorted and sat down next to her. She furrowed her brow and folded her hands across her stomach again, fidgety. If he noticed he didn't comment, but she knew that his casual observations took in more than he would ever say. She sighed.
"I don't know," she said honestly. "I guess it was always just this—" she paused and considered "—nice thought. Not really something to be taken seriously, you know?"
He nodded and they were silent for a while, Rory's thoughts straying to everything they shouldn't have. After what seemed like an eternity of silence, he lay back next to her on the grass. She swallowed thickly and took a deep breath, exhaling through her nose to limit the sound.
Suddenly she wasn't so fond of quiet.
"Why?" she blurted out. Her voice was too loud and she was convinced that it echoed off of everything in sight. That included the black dome of a sky they were under, but her question didn't reverberate in her ears. She assumed that meant he only heard the word once.
Eyebrows arched, he turned his head to look at her and she flushed in embarrassment. "Why did you help me earlier?" she clarified.
"Ah," he smirked and turned his head to look at the sky again. Jess was silent for a while and Rory opened her mouth to demand an answer when he let out a sigh. "You looked like your head was going to explode. Figured I'd save Taylor the mess of having to clean it up."
"Very neighborly of you," she replied with a grin.
"I'm a regular Bud Parker," he deadpanned. She laughed and it rang out in the darkness, clear as a bell. His smirk widened, warmed, and she couldn't help but look at him when she smiled again.
Jess stared at her out of the corner of his eye and she flushed again, averting her gaze. "Well. I appreciate it," she said softly.
"So you said," he nodded. "It wasn't that big of a deal, Rory, just write it off as another unwanted conversation."
"What is that supposed to mean?"
"Please," he scoffed and sat up, prompting her to follow his path. She jerked upright and stared at him seriously, brow furrowed in absolute confusion. "Denial doesn't look good on you," he said bitterly. Her heart jumped and she clenched her jaw tightly.
"Don't do this," she pleaded.
"Oh, I wouldn't dare," he said sarcastically. Jess locked eyes with her for a moment and smiled sardonically. "Disturb the precious Princess Rory's delusions? Never."
She groaned harshly. "God damnit," she swore. His eyes sparkled and she dug her nails into her palms sharply. "I hate it when you do that!"
"Talk to me in that condescending tone of voice! You may be more experienced than I am, Jess—" the comment sparked something in his dark brown eyes and she inwardly shrieked in triumph "—but that doesn't give you the right to talk to me like I'm stupid."
"Never said you were stupid."
"I wrote you letters," she said suddenly. He stared at her blankly, unblinking, and she laughed humorlessly. "God, I wrote you so many letters. And all of them were wrong because I could never figure out what the hell I wanted to say."
"That's why you never sent any of them? Because they didn't properly convey your apologies and regret?"
"Because none of them were true," she bit back. Heart pounding, blood trembling, she could feel herself getting light-headed from the expression on his face. Like he didn't care; like what she had to say didn't matter. Didn't he understand?
"Well, God forbid you tell a lie," he snapped, standing up. He ran a hand through his hair and turned to face her again. She kept her eyes on his face, watching the subtle play of emotions there – the clenched jaw, the hard eyes. "Whatever, Rory. Go call your boyfriend; I'm sure he's a much better companion for star-gazing and poetry-reading."
"Dean doesn't read," she retorted. He stopped his retreat but didn't turn around, and she folded her legs underneath her as she continued to sit on the grass. "Nobody reads like you," she continued. "I haven't even read as much as you," her voice got quieter and she inhaled sharply.
Tucking her hair behind her ears, she waited for him to continue leaving but he never did. He just stood there, shoulders tight, back turned to her. She tried to imagine what his expression held just then and she couldn't, despite constant images of him that plagued her thoughts night after night.
"I didn't want us to be like this," she said after a while. He turned around, then, and she kept her gaze on her hands as they pulled blades of grass from the Earth.
"Too late for that now," he replied. The venom was missing, though, and she bit back a smile.
"Is it?" she wondered boldly. Raising her eyes to his, she smiled a little and stood up. Rory brushed the grass off her palms and folded her arms across her chest. Jess kept his distance. "Is it too late to fix this?"
"Fix what? There is no 'this' to fix, Ror."
"I don't believe you," she said quietly.
"That's your right, I guess, but that's the situation. I have a girlfriend, last I checked you're still dating Andy Hardy, and from what I've seen the latter won't change until the apocalypse comes."
"What if it changed sooner?" she asked. She took a step closer to him and he stood completely still, looking away from her after a tense moment. More silence answered her and she resisted the urge to squirm or take off.
"Are you saying that's a possibility?"
"If the fact that I can't seem to …" she gestured vaguely, frustrated, "Get over you is any indication, then it's a very strong one," she replied. Jess' gaze jerked back to her face and she flushed, but didn't back down. Her shoulders felt lighter than they had in months.
Since Sookie's wedding, to be more specific.
He bit his bottom lip and stepped forward, smirking when Rory did the same. She took another, and another, until she was standing just a couple feet from him. She uncrossed her arms and took a deep breath, offering him a tentative smile that he didn't reciprocate.
"So what happens now?"
Rory shrugged and looked around the yard, thankful that their conversation hadn't woken Babette yet. She didn't want or need this to be the next morning's juiciest gossip. Not until she did what needed to be done.
"You tell me," she answered. Jess swallowed and reached out for her hand, dropping his arm at the last second. She frowned in disappointment and then lit up, holding up her hands and flattening one, raising the other in a fist above it. He stared at her incredulously.
"What are you doing?"
"What does it look like I'm doing?" she retorted cheekily. He laughed a little and shook his head, running a hand through his hair.
"That's how we're deciding on this?"
"Yes," she agreed with a nod. Her insides churned as he continued to stare at her.
"One condition," he said after a moment.
He paused and then grinned. "We do it once."
Rory widened her eyes slightly and then nodded slowly, watching as he raised his own hand and formed a fist near her own. She took a deep breath and locked eyes with him, swallowing thickly at the intensity in his.
"Rock," she whispered, "Paper. Scissors," they both paused and she stepped forward again, tilting her head the tiniest bit. Jess dipped his head down toward her and she smiled, tangling her fingers with his.
"Shoot," he breathed against her mouth.