Story Title: Falling Away With You

Story Title: Falling Away With You

Chapter Title: Stuttering (Ben's Brother…yeah, from that Dentyne Ice Commercial, but I love it anyway)

Summary:"We're not exactly like Sandy and Danny." Rory wrinkled her nose.

"How's that? You have the dark hair, fast cars, bad ass, leather jacket, smoking in the boys room thing going. And I'm all angelic and smart and pure and naïve. I mean, I guess our names don't have that same, cool rhyme scheme going, but if you let me call you Jessie, we could at least come close," she explained.

Notes: My sincerest and biggest thanks to Meredith-Grey, Curley-Q, pam halliwell, lillitgirlx2, CherryWolf713, Everyone Is A Hero, xLivexItxUpx, and udontknowmebutiknowme for their awesome words of encouragement that helped me plow through this chapter! It's kind of light and fluffy, but I tried to get back to the bigger issues presented in the early chapters, and the next few will be dealing with them more directly. Enjoy!

Disclaimer: I don't own Gilmore Girls in any way or the rights to use the characters. I'm only borrowing them and will replace them when I'm done.

"Do you have a sewing kit?" Rory asked Jess as she walked back into his bedroom as he threaded his belt through his belt loops, her shirt hanging off of her shoulders, still partially unbuttoned.

"Yeah, I keep it in the same basket that I keep my knitting in. Let me get that for you," he said, his face completely straight. She glared at him for a beat before sighing and looking down at a thread hanging from her shirt, flipping an iridescent purple button between her free fingers.

"One of my buttons fell off. It's kind of an important one," she said, gesturing toward the string which dangled from the very middle of the row. Jess gave her a lopsided grin and went to his desk, searching through the drawer.

"I might have a needle around here somewhere," he mumbled as she heard paper and pens shuffle against the wood. Rory looked around the room some more while he searched.

"If I see yarn anywhere in this apartment, you know that I'm going to have to hold it against you for the rest of your life, right?" she quipped as he turned around, needle in hand.

"You know, if you hadn't been quite so eager to get me into bed, you might not need this needle at all," he said, holding it just out of her reach. Rory pouted for a moment, her hair tousled despite having been brushed.

"Jess!" she whined. "I'm hungry and I can't go into public like this!" He laughed at her and she narrowed her eyes at him.

"Why don't you just put another shirt on?"

"Because then people will know that we came up here just to have sex!" she exclaimed, throwing her arms to her side and smiling slightly. Jess laughed at her.

"I can pretty much guarantee you that everyone already knew that. And what makes you think we're going to run into anybody from the open house?" he asked, shrugging, his hands hanging at his side, needle clenched between his fingers.

Rory narrowed her eyes again and pointed at him, her index finger a mere inch from the bridge of his nose. He grinned and crossed his arms over his chest.

"Because I know you," she said, her voice playful but threatening. "And I know that you're getting a kick out of this," she said, her face quivering as she tried to hold back her laughter at the inquisitive look on his face and burst into hysterics.

"Oh yeah?" he asked, tugging her closer to him by the closed part of her shirt, his eyes softening. She dropped her hand away from his face and rested it delicately against his bare chest.

"Yeah," she breathed as he kissed her softly, passing the needle into her hand gently, careful not to prick her with it.

"Thanks," she said, shyly looking up at him through her eyelashes. "Thread?"

"Dental floss," Jess said, lowering his eyebrows at her, "is the closest we have to thread. But it works."

It's been it's been it's been it's been

Su-su-su-such a long time long time long time

Since anybody's touched me touched me touched me

The way that you touch me

"I have the distinct feeling that due to the utterly undeniably close proximity to Truncheon, that this establishment is going to be filled with people from the open house. Namely your business partners." She paused as she gave him a look that he returned playfully. "My hair is a mess and one of my shirt buttons is sewed on with mint flavored dental floss."

"But Mike's has food," he explained, drawing out the last word and squeezing her hip. She rolled her eyes. "And I'm sorry about the flavored dental floss. We like to keep fresh breath, Nick and I," he quipped as he located a table in a corner of the bar and began walking them over to it.

"Hostess?" she said, turning her head back to the woman leading another couple to a table near the middle.

"Just a formality," he said as they settled into their booths. Rory scanned the bar nervously, looking for any of Jess's friends that may recognize her. She sighed and sank into the booth, opening her menu and laying it in front of her as she searched it over thoughtfully.

"I feel like we're in the movie Grease," she said as he snapped the plastic menu shut and reached in his pockets for his cigarettes.

"'Scuse me?" he asked, moving to light it. Rory smiled to herself briefly.

"Like, I'm Sandy, you're Danny, and we're hanging out at that diner. And Danny's trying to hide Sandy from his friends because she's bad for his reputation, but they find them anyway and Rizzo and Kineckie get into a huge fight. Oh! And then Frenchie's guardian angel sings to her about hairdressing and hookers or something. I don't know, I never listened that close." She paused as he grinned at her, shaking his head slightly. "And have you ever noticed that the girls dancing with the silver rollers and stuff are the other Pink Ladies? I mean, how cheap do you have to be not to hire the extras to do one more scene?"

He remembered distinctly missing the way she rambled. The way random bits of oddly factual information would trickle into the current of her words. The way that sometimes the conclusions she came up with could hit you like tidal waves.

"I cannot say I have ever watched that scene that closely," he said, looking her in the eye. "But you are wrong about one thing."

"What's that?" she asked.

"We're not exactly like Sandy and Danny." Rory wrinkled her nose.

"How's that? You have the dark hair, fast cars, bad ass, leather jacket, smoking in the boys room thing going. And I'm all angelic and smart and pure and naïve. I mean, I guess our names don't have that same, cool rhyme scheme going, but if you let me call you Jessie, we could at least come close," she explained. Jess laughed at her as he exhaled the smoke in an upward stream.

"Okay, now we're not like Danny and Sandy for two reasons."

"Well if you're such and expert, do tell."

"First of all, I don't know about angelic and pure. Certainly not naïve. Need I remind you of the slightly pink spot on my neck due to somebody's impatient mouth?" he said, gesturing to his neck. She flushed a deep shade of pink and crossed her arms over her chest, biting her lip as light danced through her eyes, heat building inside of her again at the thought.

"Point taken," she said, her voice deeper than before.

"Second," Jess said, moving closer to her and dropping his voice down. "I brought you here because you're good for my reputation, not bad." He paused while her features softened at his confession. "I'm showing you off," he whispered out of the side of his mouth. Rory smiled at him sheepishly. Jess nodded toward the bar where a young mulatto girl with short hair and funky style was joking with a client. "The waitress, Giovanna, we call her Gio for short, is a good friend of mine. And I spotted Nick, Matt and Chris on the other side of the bar. I have no doubt that they'll be over here, party crashing within about ten minutes." He paused again while she gave him a full smile. "Unless that makes you uncomfortable, in which case we can eat leftover Chinese food on my lumpy couch from 1978."

"The Chinese food or the couch?" Rory asked, leaning forward, arms crossed and resting against the table.

"Probably both." She smiled at him and leaned across the table to ensnare his lips in another kiss, enjoying the bitterness of the cigarette smoke on his lips while she caressed them with her own. It was a small kiss, a lover's excuse to fill an otherwise silent moment. An interlude. Conversational intermission.

So if I stutter, stutter, stutter

Yeah I feel so so so unsexy

So maybe I'll just keep my mouth shut

At least until you kiss me

"Jess Mariano, I know you did not come through those doors and not invite us to come and sit with you!" Nick said, smiling sloppily in a drunk way as he and the guys appeared at the table, drinks in hand. Rory turned pink immediately and looked back down at her menu while Jess grinned at her reaction.

"Just like Grease," he said to her out of the side of his mouth quickly before turning back to his friends. "I didn't see you in here!"

Rory grinned to herself, feeling her heart soar at the reference he had made. She snapped the menu shut and looked back up, smiling even more brightly.

"Lie!" Nick proclaimed, turning around to inform the other guys. "He's lying!"

"Nick you can either sit down and can it, or you can take my job, since you seem to enjoy wandering around here so much," Gio said, though no one could see her behind the three-deep man wall block her from view. Rory furrowed her brow, trying to figure out who was speaking before she broke through and smiled at both of them.

"Hey hun!" she said, before hugging Jess with one arm and turning her attention to Rory.

"Hey!" Jess responded, enthused at the sight of her. "Gio, this is Rory. She's staying with me this weekend. Rory, this is our very good friend and communal mother figure, Giovanna." Rory laughed good-naturedly at the introduction and reached her hand out, shaking Gio's.

"Please call me Gio. I'm so glad I got to finally meet you! My boys," she said, shoving Nick slightly, "were down here the other night and they mentioned that there was a lady staying with them this weekend. Which trust me, is way more unusual than natural for two bachelors." The girls laughed for a minute and Nick and Jess shared a look, deciding whether or not the comment was biting enough to warrant a response.

"Are we going to get chewed out if we bring chairs over here?" Chris asked, flashing his deep kind eyes at Gio as she turned from Rory. She studied him for a moment.

"I doubt I could stop you anyway," she said, turning back to Rory and Jess. "What can I get for the two of you?" Each put in their drink and food orders while the rest of the boys pulled up chairs noisily.

"All unpacked?" Nick cheekily asked Rory, turning to her with a lopsided smile. Rory choked slightly on the beer that she had ordered.


"Well, you guys went upstairs to unpack, right?" Jess shook his head, closing his eyes as Nick continued to stare at Rory, awaiting his answer.

"Uhh," she stumbled, blinking uncontrollably, a nervous smile curling up on her lips as she glanced at Jess and he returned the smile, his insinuating a slight naughtiness.

"So, you'll be happy to know that the turnout was excellent," Matt intervened. Relieved, Rory let out a quiet sigh and casually bumped knees with Jess under the table. She noticed a softening of his features as he and Matt discussed the business with Chris. Rory took another long drink from her beer as Gio set her food in front of her and Jess.

Nick watched in amazement as Rory ate at a fierce pace. "Big eater?" Nick laughed as she swallowed the last of her burger. She laughed and wiped her face on her napkin.

"Oh this is nothing," she said as she reached for her beer and finished it off. She looked at Nick quizzically while he kept his eyes on her, seemingly interested. "What happened to all the hostility this morning? Shouldn't there be some residual anger?" she wondered, hoping she could come off as playful if he was offended.

So kiss me again

Cause only only you can stop this st-st-st-stuttering

Kiss me again

And ease my su-su-su-su-su-su-su-su-su-suffering


Yeyeyeyeyeyea, oh

"She's cute," Nick conceded out of the side of his neatly pursed mouth, as he settled into his spot beside Jess at the top of the staircase. Jess nodded.

"She always has been." Nick turned to face Jess and was greeted with a grunt.

"Why did you two break up in high school?" Jess shook his head and scratched the back of his neck. After a moment or two of silence, Nick spoke again. "I asked her; she told me that it wasn't her story to tell. Which I guess means one thing: you left her."

Jess could feel the room being vacuumed of all of its air, could hear only the blood pounding through his vessels as Nick stood there and he gripped the banister like maybe, if he held on hard enough, the floor would quit spinning. At a time like this in his life, he never imagined having to explain Rory. Having to describe to anyone his senior year of high school (if you could even call it that), and oversimplify the nuances so delicate.

He cleared his throat once before he drew in a slow, cold breath and began speaking. "Rory went to this private school for high school in Hartford for both exceptionally gifted and exceptionally unstable/workaholic types. I got sent to live with my uncle in Connecticut because I was getting into too much trouble in New York. Flunking out of school, ditching classes, getting in trouble with the cops, stuff like that. My mom was too busy trying to get her life under control to keep me reigned in." He paused, hoping Nick wouldn't get the impression that he was dancing around the issue.

"Her mom and my uncle were good friends. They actually live together now, not that that's relevant. But one night, my Uncle Luke took me over to her mom's house for a 'Welcome to Town' dinner," Jess said, all under his breath with a certain inkling of irony and lingering disgust. "I walked past her bedroom door and she turned her head when she heard me coming through. I had never seen someone so pale or perfect or with a voice that sounded more like Sleeping Beauty in all of my life." He paused while he took a drink and leaned backwards against the banisters, taking his eyes away from the milling crowd downstairs.

"We were friends accidentally. She wanted desperately not to like me and I was never nice to people who were inherently nice like she is. I hated her floppy haired, Opie-esque boyfriend who had clearly never laid a hand on her, and her mother, while not without her good points and excess of quirks, was pretty much in the same boat. She didn't like me either. I was mean to her boyfriend, not very nice to my uncle or her mother. I had a penchant for vandalizing the town. But in her bookshelf, she had Pride and Prejudice right next to Howl, followed closely by Lonesome Dove. And she wasn't afraid of me."

"So why did you leave her?" Nick asked, his eyes softer now.

"We'd been dating for a couple of months, but I had taken on a second job out of town so I could buy a car and take her out. Most of the time I just helped out in the diner, but I didn't get paid much to do that. Turns out I miscalulated and missed so much school that there was no way for me to graduate. I'd have to either attempt to make up the time in summer school or repeat the year. I refused. I hated going to school. My biggest gripe was that I was smarter than most of the people there and it only took me ten minutes to learn what they did in a week. Hence my attendance record.

"The catch was that if you didn't graduate, you weren't allowed to go to Prom. Well, Rory went to school out of town, but pretty much all of her friends still lived in Stars Hollow and went to school with me. She wanted desperately to be able to go to the prom in her home town, and she wanted to go with me. The one thing she had ever asked me for directly and sincerely and that I had promised her, I had managed to fuck up.

"And the rest is pretty much history, with a really shameful interlude where I tried to get her to go to bed with me at a house party and wound up punching out her ex-boyfriend. Next thing I knew, my uncle told me that the jig was up and that if I couldn't graduate and refused to go back to school, I had to leave. I left town on a bus, not realizing it was the one she was taking to school that morning. All I had the nerve to say was that I couldn't take her to prom. Not that I was on my way out of town."

"California?" Nick asked, remembering what he had said about his travels. Jess nodded. "You never said why. Any reason? Just distance?"

"My dad came back into my life randomly and I decided to chase after him. He left my mom before I ever got a chance to know him. I decided to have a go of it," Jess said moving back over to the card table where they guys had stashed their beer and cracked another.

Nick's stomach sunk theatrically into his stomach as his greeting to Rory echoed hollow in his ear.

"If that's the end of this story, then something's not adding up," Nick mumbled, trying to riddle everything out.

Jess sucked in another breath, hoping that Nick would have been satiated by the rough outlines, not needing the meat of the matter. The questions, and the disappointing declines.

"I called her from California, but couldn't get up the nerve to explain anything else. She said she might have loved me. So I, being Idiot-in-Residence, came back to town, and not only begged her to skip town with me and run away and never look back and that I was a changed man, but that I was also in love with her. Then I left because she didn't want to go with me and she didn't love me anymore.

"Then, not too long ago, I was traveling through the area to promote The Subsect, and I decided to stop by her grandparents and say hello. Which more or less brings us here. She broke up with her handbag-toting boyfriend and wants to try."

"Do you think you owe it to her?" Nick wondered, hoping his chiding was not without warrant.

"She deserves better from me than she got the first time around."

I know, I know it's so, it's so-so-so-so-so symbolic

Of everything

Everything that's wrong with me and you, so tell me what I'm supposed to do

"I asked him what happened." Nick paused to let Rory process and saw the slight widening of her irises, the paralysis of her features. "I'm sorry for how I acted. I was impressed that you didn't tell me the story anyway. Respected him enough to allow him to tell it." Nick was almost sheepish now, the previously ostensible effects of his drinking fading quickly.

Smiling, Rory lifted her new beer bottle and they toasted to a new understanding of each other, drinking and laughing lightly at their quick camaraderie.

"Besides, I kind of like that you're a little bit mean to him."

"Someone has to be sometimes," she said, smiling coyly as she eyed him discreetly. Nick pointed to her blouse and chuckled.

"Dental floss?" he wondered. Rory flushed nearly purple as she shoved Jess playfully.

"You didn't tell me that this is a trick you use frequently!" she exclaimed, thrusting the button in question in his direction. The other men at the table ceased their conversation and looked on, thoroughly amused. Jess grinned at her and she narrowed her eyes before her cheeks were stained a reddish shade of pink, realizing what she had revealed to the rest of the group.

Jess looked to Nick, rolling his eyes skyward and gesturing in airy frustration. "Why do you have to cause trouble?" The playful exasperation was easily waved off as Nick gave a wide, toothy grin akin to an eight year old boy and took another drink.


"Tell me about where in California we're going," Rory said, her face soft and words supple, made tender by four or five beers and the contentedness of a quaking, Mariano-induced orgasm. Jess laughed as he leaned against the headboard, dragging on his cigarette and crushing the butt against the glass ashtray on his nightstand. Rory sat up further in bed, the sheet falling off of the powdery pliability that was the curve of her right breast, curiosity and interests piqued.

Jess smirked to himself, still not believing his ears. She was really going; the timeframe for impulse completely gone; the word "California" sounding like warm clover honey on her lips.

"All of us guys got a timeshare on the ocean, just south of Santa Cruz." Rory's eyes pressed for more, the sheet falling slightly. He didn't care if it was accidental or not; the message was clear. "My time was coming up soon and they don't use it too often, so I decided to bite the bullet and go out there again." Bending down to brush aside the lock of hair that had strayed, Jess pressed his lips against the point of her shoulder. "Private beach."

She giggled at both the feeling at the emotion. "You don't need to tempt me. But I do have one other question." He responded by placing an open mouth kiss at the nape of her neck. "Do I need to buy a plan ticket?"

Chuckling softly against her velvety skin, he shook his head and took her earlobe between his teeth gently, caressing her neck. "I don't fly. You know better than that." Rory rolled her eyes and pushed the 450 thread count white sheet down to her waist.

"Please don't tell me we're taking the bus," she complained, her words still slurred, throatier because of the downward path his mouth was taking, stopping to graze teasingly over her breasts.

"Driving," he murmured. Rory laughed again.

"I should've known." She took his head in her hands and pulled his face up to hers, meeting his lips in a slow, deep kiss that he felt down in the heart of his knees, spreading heat into the arches of his feet.

Oh, it's been ages since we've been really honest

But I can make cha-cha-cha-changes

If you really want this

Jess awoke slowly on Saturday morning to the smell of dawn and an overnight rain shower being steamed off of the pavement by sunlight. Blinking a few times to clear the cobwebs in his brain, he pulled back and glimpsed at the lithe body beside him, sleeping soundly with her hair rumpled against his pillow.

Though his curtains were drawn against the daylight, the brighter rays had filtered their way in and bathed the room in scrutinizing white light. Rory purred lightly against the soft cotton of his pillow case and tightened the hold she had on his leg with her leg, drawing him closer. Chuckling, Jess pushed some of her auburn hair off of her forehead and strained his neck to see the clock.

"No," Rory said softly, her eyes still shut as she reached for his arm and pulled it back to her, resting it in the curve of her waist. "Don't look at the clock. I don't want to think about going home."

Pressing an innocent kiss against her forehead, Jess settled himself back into the sheets and let his right hand wander at will along her form. Over the last few years Rory had lost the look of underfed and awkward in exchange for feminine curves. Her hips had swollen with age as had her previously boney thighs and calves. Everything about her had softened except her words and her mind.

"You aren't leaving until tomorrow. What are you talking about?" he wondered, pushing aside the sheet again and exposing the fair pinkness of her lower back. She tightened her hold even more on Jess's leg at the sensation of the cool spring air and his warm fingers against her skin.

"It's too soon. Let's just not look at the clock today," she resolved, finally beginning to blink back the sleep that had held her only minutes before. They laid there together for a few minutes, allowing themselves the hidden time in between consciousness and slumber before Rory restlessly began to move beneath the covers, biting her lip worriedly.

"Which is it? Do you want coffee or to know what time it is?" Rory narrowed her eyes at him and he mocked by mirroring the look. "There's a clock on the coffeemaker."


Luke awoke with a start at the sight of his fiancée staring at him from the rocker in their bedroom, a cup of coffee clutched between her hands.

"Why are you staring at me with that psychotic smile at," Luke paused to look at the alarm clock, "5:10 in the morning?"

"How was the open house?" Lorelai asked evenly, her body language giving nothing away other than the fact that she might be verging on sociopath.

"Seriously?" Luke asked, propping himself up on his elbows and knitting his eyebrows together. "You're up at this hour to ask me about Jess's open house?" She nodded animatedly and got up and sat down on the bed next to him, sipping her coffee and tucking her legs under her so she sat cross legged.

"Tell me everything," she specified for dramatic effect. Luke rolled his eyes and leaned back against the headboard, pulling the sheet up with him and rubbing hand across his forehead.

"Well it's a big brick building that says 'Truncheon Books' over the doorway, and I think I counted sixteen, maybe only twelve windows on the whole front, which is weird because Jess and I had that huge argument about windows when we were trying to find bigger apartment and he knew nothing about windows. And on the inside-," he was cut off by Lorelai.

"Enough! You're making me want to eat wood screws! Did you notice anything about Rory and Jess?" she asked, frantic and frazzled. Luke grinned a little just under his skin and to himself at how he had worked her, pushing her buttons with his observance.

"I honestly only saw them together for probably a solid sixty seconds. They seemed happy, but not gross. What more do you want? Rory seemed like she was in a really good mood. She spent most of the night doing her own thing." Lorelai still seemed displeased and downed the rest of her warm, aromatic coffee.

"What about Jess? Did he seem fine? Did he say anything about her staying there?"

"Have you met Jess?"

"She hasn't called! I haven't been given an update since three days before she left, and before that it was only to tell me that they had sex in the apartment!" Lorelai was turning manic on Luke faster than he had seen in a while.

"Calm down," he commanded her and put his hand on her leg, easing her with his touch. Lorelai sighed.

"She's my baby, and she drove a really long way without calling me and probably is doing all of these things without calling me and I can't figure out why!" Luke looked at her for a few seconds, his eyebrows up on his forehead and a slight tilt to his mouth that meant he found something slightly distasteful.

"Have you completely forgotten what Jess and Rory were like in high school? I'm pretty sure if you think back you'll realize that there were distinct amounts of time where you didn't hear from her or about what was going on. They like their privacy," Luke reasoned.

While still appearing amused, Lorelai scrunched up her face in disgust. "Because they're probably having too much sex," she grumbled lightly as she turned in bed and stood up.

"Ah geez, Lorelai!"

So kiss me again

'Cause only you can stop this st-st-st-stuttering

Kiss me again

And ease my su-su-su-su-su-su-su-su-su-suffering

Woah, yeyeyeyeyeyea, oh

"I can't believe you shanghaied me into cooking," Rory griped as she stood at the kitchen counter, an apron wrapped loosely around the highest curve of her hips as she made a halfheartedly sincere attempt at chopping a carrot.

Jess kissed her temple as he moved past her and dug around in the refrigerator for the cheese she had grated an hour earlier.

"Chopping vegetables for a salad is not cooking."

"Lie!" she exclaimed, the knife in hand. "If I have to do anything other than open the package and consume with maybe a little bit of microwave action included, it's cooking."

"Technically, what you're doing is prep work."

"Don't you use your fancy schmancy vocabulary on me, Jess Mariano. You're gonna owe me big time at the end of this meal." Jess stopped what he was doing and came up behind her, spanning his hands solidly against the expanse of her stomach. Pressing his lips against the back of her ear, he spoke low and deep in his larynx, almost at the same level as a growl.

"I did your favorite thing this afternoon in the shower. I think the least you can do for me is chop this carrot," he mumbled, placing his hand over the one of hers that held the knife and guiding the chop along across the rugged shell of the vegetable.

"Huh," she said, leaning into the embrace and watching as their hands worked together, laughing when he made a renegade chop that left the vegetable deformed.

"Lorelai Gilmore, this is appalling craftsmanship," he joked, his lips still against her ear, speaking softly. Dropping the knife onto the wooden cutting board with a dull thud, Rory turned in his arms as he reached to the small of her back and undid the loose knot that held the apron to her body, giving her an amused smile.

"I guess there's some things I'm just not good at." She reached up to his neck and gently massaged the soft skin there, lacing her fingers into his short, dark, just barely curling hair.

"Why don't you show me the ones that you are then," he suggested, his voice stained with misbehaving.

Kiss me again

'Cause only you can stop the st-st-st-stuttering

Kiss me again

And ease my su-su-su-su-su-su-su-suffering

Scrolling down her list of contacts as she fumbled with her keys, Rory was greeted with the sight of Paris Geller waiting attentively at the front door.

"Holy crap!" Rory exclaimed, jumping back and thrown slightly off balance by the weight of the bag she had slung over her shoulder.

"So?" Paris asked, undaunted by Rory's shock. Rory shook her head and moved past her into the apartment, setting her stuff on the floor and looking back to her cell phone.

"It was nice," she said, glossing over details and descriptive words so as not to pique her interest.

"Good. I'm going to get dinner. I ordered enough for about twelve people, so I figure that should be enough for you and I," she said as she slipped on her sweatshirt and stepped into her shoes. Rory smiled at her appreciatively.

"Sounds great."

"Back soon," she called back as she exited the apartment.

Throwing herself onto the dilapidated couch, Rory found Jess's number and waited for the ringing to cease.


"Hi." A moment of silence passed over the line.

"You got back to Yale okay?" he wondered.

"Oh yeah. No traffic to speak of." She paused and took a breath. "I miss you. I know it's stupid because I've been gone for about four hours."

"I've been known to have that effect on women before," he gloated. Nick dropped something in the background and swore loudly.

"Aren't you going to go and see what happened?" Rory asked, laughing.

"If he screams, but I think he's fine."

"Your laissez-faire attitude about Nick might eventually catch up with you."

"Hopefully not yet."

"So you're coming back to Stars Hollow in a few weeks?" she wondered. Jess made an affirmative noise and Rory nodded to herself. "Good." She let herself pause, deciding whether or not she should ask. "Is that the next time I get to see you?"

Chuckling, Jess responded. "I guess that's up to you."

A/N—Okay, I did my best, so let me know what you think! And I need some ideas for the next chapter because I have to fast-forward to California! And whatever did happen to Logan? Will he reappear? What about Dean's reaction to Jess being in town? Will I be really evil and drag Tristan DuGrey back into the scene?

The anticipation mounts )!