A jolt went through his body as he saw her enter the subway car.
He looked away quickly, not sure if he was seeing things. Not sure if he wanted to see her, not after all this time.
He looked up again, slowly, his eyes flitting over the people in the car before coming to rest on her. She looked amazing, of course, not that he had expected anything different. Her navy suit fitted her perfectly, simultaneously covering her up from knee to wrist while leaving no curve to the imagination. Her hair was longer than he remembered; though she had kept the side-swept bangs that cleverly drew attention to her strikingly blue eyes.
He looked away again, not wanting to be caught staring at her. She seemed oblivious to his looks, however, as she was rifling through her bag looking for something. A white cord snaked from the interior of her tote to her ears and he couldn't help wonder what she was listening to on her commute. Did she still listen to classics like The Clash? Or had her music tastes changed in the year since he had last seen her?
Seeing her was a like a shock to his system. Every nerve in his body was on edge from her nearness. It had always been like that for him, though. He had always felt an undeniable chemistry with her.
The train came to a halt. In the shuffle of commuters getting on and off the train, he saw her take a seat and turn her attention to the book she had pulled from her tote. He saw her concentration and knew she was already immersed in whatever world she had chosen for herself. He remembered the way she nibbled on her bottom lip when she was completely lost in the words on the page.
Five minutes later he had missed his stop, but he didn't care. He wasn't exactly sure what he was going to do or if he was going to do anything, but he couldn't seem to move from the spot. He couldn't stop looking at her, drinking in her presence, even as she was completely oblivious to his.
The train conductor announced the stop as the train pulled into the station. Suddenly Rory looked around, stood up, hastily shoved her book into her bag and exited the car. She moved briskly, head nodding slightly to whatever she was listening to. He quickly followed her upstairs and out onto the bustling streets of SoHo.
As he followed her his thoughts drifted to the newspapers he had back in his apartment. Clipped from the pages of The New York Times, he relished the fact that she had made her dream come true. She hadn't yet achieved overseas correspondent status, but her byline had started popping up with increasing frequency as she covered more and more international events. He knew it was only a matter of time before she had achieved her "Christiane Amanpour" dream and was beyond relieved that her time off from Yale and that disastrous internship hadn't been more than a detour on her way to achieving her goals.
She ducked into a shop and he paused, looking up and down the street with indecision. Should he stay and follow her further? What would he say to her if and when he caught up to her? What would she say to him in return? He pondered the different scenarios and drew up a mental pro/con list.
Sighing with frustration, he ran his hands through his already artfully mussed hair, the irony of him making a pro/con list not lost on him. That was not something he would have done before meeting her.
Before he could come to a decision, though, she reappeared in the doorway with two large take-out bags, with her mobile to her ear. He was close enough that he could hear her conversation but she still hadn't noticed him.
"I already picked up dinner so I hope you weren't planning to sweep me off my feet with a home-cooked dinner. Should I pick up some wine as well?"
"No, I didn't get pizza! A little birdie once told me that my metabolism couldn't keep up with my junk-food eating ways forever. That little birdie also said some highly inappropriate things to me on the subway this morning, but that's neither here nor there."
"You can wait until I get there to see what's for dinner. You like surprises, don't you?"
He could hear the laughter and teasing in her voice as she spoke.
"Fine, I went to that restaurant above L'Occitane and got grilled chicken, salad, and vegetables. Happy?"
He looked at her in slight disbelief. Rory Gilmore giving up junk food for a more healthy diet? What was the world coming to?
"Yes, I might have gotten dessert, but you will only find out if you're a good boy" she teased, though her voice was laced with innuendo.
"That comment will not get you anywhere with me, mister. Be there in a few." She giggled, said good-bye and hung up the phone. Even from a distance he could tell that she had a goofy smile on her face.
Of course. Of course Rory Gilmore had a boyfriend, wasn't that always the case with her? She was like a magnet to men; they seemed to always fall at her feet. He certainly had fallen like a ton of bricks for her, and though he was jealous of her boyfriend, he certainly couldn't blame the guy for going after her.
He hung his head dejectedly, but continued to follow her through the narrow streets of SoHo, his thoughts on her boyfriend. On the kind of guy the adult Rory would be with. Wondering what Lorelai thought of this guy. Or what Luke or her grandparents thought of him. His fingers clenched and he forced himself to relax, trying to shake off the jealousy.
She turned onto a quieter side street and her gait slowed as she approached a building halfway down the block. A man in a uniform came out from the doorway to greet her, take the bags she was carrying, and escort her into the lobby.
He skulked in the doorway, taking in the upscale lobby, the doorman, and the number of the floor where the elevator was stopping.
PH. The penthouse? Granted, the building wasn't especially fancy or grand, like some places on Park Avenue, but it had a certain cachet. And the address was posh, but more of a downtown, hip sort of posh than a stuffy Upper East Side building. The furniture was less French Revival and more sleek and modern.
He wasn't sure how Rory could afford something like that on her writer's salary unless Richard and Emily were helping her, and he doubted she would let them help her, not after the debacle that happened during her university years. He didn't know if she had become closer with Christopher, but again, it didn't seem like Rory to be using her father to pay for things now that she was working. Having him pay for Yale was one thing, but paying for an apartment when she could certainly afford something didn't fit.
Still mulling this over, he leaned against the wall outside the building. Maybe Rory didn't live here, this was just where the boyfriend lived and she was just visiting. Or, maybe…
Maybe she lived with her boyfriend. Though she never said anything specifically in her conversation about going "home", everything about the way she spoke seemed to imply a great level of intimacy, maybe brought about by living together. He felt slightly sick to his stomach to think of her living with another man. He hadn't seen her in well over a year, but it didn't matter. It never mattered with Rory. He would always be jealous where she was concerned.
Still queasy, he shoved himself away from the building and entered the lobby. The doorman moved to stop him and asked where he was going.
"I'm here to see Rory Gilmore," he said nervously.
The elderly doorman smiled and went behind the desk. "Your name, sir? I'll call up and see if she or Mr. Huntzberger are at home."
"Mr. Huntzberger?" he repeats vacantly.
"Yes, she and Mr. Huntzberger moved in a little while ago. Such an adorable couple. He just worships the ground she walks on. Their engagement was a delight to the whole building. We couldn't be happier for them – young love, it makes me feel young again, you know?" He winked conspiratorially at Jess, who had turned noticeably pale from the chatty doorman's revelation.
"Engaged. To Logan."
He looks up and sees the doorman on a phone, presumably ringing up to the apartment.
"I'm sorry, sir, what's your name so I can announce you to Miss Gilmore?"
He backs away slowly, not trusting his legs to actually carry him anywhere. "No. No need to announce me. I'm just leaving. Thank you, though."
His thoughts flash back over the afternoon – the subway car, the takeout, the phone conversation. And then he groans as he realizes that he missed what was staring him right in the face.
There, on her left hand, had been the sparkle of a ring. Had he truly missed it, or had he just ignored it because he didn't want to see it? The latter, he instantly realizes, was true. He didn't want to think of her engaged to another man, so he had chosen not to see what was in front of him.
As it started to drizzle, Jess almost laughed to himself. "The perfect ending to a perfect day," he said to himself sarcastically as he shoved his hands in his pockets and wandered off.
In her apartment, 12 floors above the street, Rory Gilmore opened the door to her apartment and was greeted with a kiss from Logan. Taking the bags from her, he led the way into the kitchen. After setting them down on the counter, he turned around and pulled her into an embrace and kissed her more soundly.
"How was your day?" he murmured into her ear.
"Much better now that you're here," she coyly replied, her eyes sparkling with happiness and love.
"That's what I like to hear." He kissed her again, then turned his attention to the food. "Now, let's have that dinner. You're a career woman and if I'm not much mistaken, your stomach is starting to get rumbly."
"Aw, come on, Ace, you know it's the truth. Besides, I want your energy to be at its maximum level because something tells me that your fiancé will be keeping you up very very late tonight," he said lasciviously, planting a kiss at the base of her neck.
"Dirty!" she said with a grin. "But I wouldn't want it any other way."