Even after all this time

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Disclaimer: I don't own anything. I'm poor. It's sad.

A/N: I'm back. With a story I've written recently, instead of one that I've had saved on my computer for ages. It started out as a one-shot, but while writing it, I realized there really wasn't a believable ending possible that would've satisfied. So therefore I'm turning this into a story, but I can't promise when I'll update since I'm not the most consistent of people. So bare with me! I can tell you that I've already written the second and third chapter, so that sounds promising, right?

It might not be that good and definitely not all that original, but I like it and I hope you do too.

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Chapter 1:

It was Jess who noticed first. He had become aware of her presence the second she walked in. He wasn't even surprised. He figured something like this was bound to happen someday. He didn't know why, but he just knew. Her hair was long and curly, her clothes dark and sophisticated and her face as beautiful as ever. She walked up to the counter in a rapid pace as if she was in a hurry. She probably was. There was no line, so she quickly placed her order (coffee, no doubt). All this time Jess' eyes followed her every move. She sighed as she slowly took off her gloves (it was freezing outside) and started to look around the almost empty diner while waiting for her coffee. Naturally, that's when she saw him. Her gaze stopped and they locked eyes. He was only a few steps away from her and they could almost touch. They didn't speak. A faint smile appeared on Rory's face. She had hoped something like this would happen someday. In some way she missed him. Not every day, not all the time, but he was on her mind sometimes. And she had wondered about him. About his life. Of course Luke had told her some things, but she still didn't know. Not all of it. And it had been a while. Too long.

"You look the same." She broke the silence.

"You sure about that?" He asked, smiling.

She simply nodded as her shy smile grew a bit wider.

"Yeah. I feel like I've gone back in time."

The clerk handed Rory her coffee and she paid for it without taking her eyes off Jess. Then she slowly walked up to his table.

"Is it okay if I sit down?"

"You have time for that?"

"No."

But she sat down anyway and took a careful sip of her hot coffee. She couldn't stop staring at the man sitting in front of her. It was surreal to see him again, yet she wasn't surprised about it and it wasn't awkward or strange in any way, even though they were sitting in silence. She actually remembered the comfortable silences from back in the day. Back in the day. God, that sounded as if she was old. She wasn't. He wasn't. But it had been five years since they last saw each other. At least.

"How long has it been?" She asked, hoping he'd know exactly.

But Jess shrugged. His typical Jess shrug. Nobody shrugged like he did.

"A few years. Five, six maybe."

"That's long."

"Too long." He agreed.

Rory nodded.

"I've read them all." She suddenly told him. "Cover to cover. Most of them without taking a single breath."

"Dangerous hobby you got there." He joked. "You liked them?"

"You know the Jess Mariano fanclub that's becoming huge on the web? I'm president."

"Liar."

"Fine. Honor Member then."

"Still doubtful, but I appreciate the gesture."

"And R.G is me, right?" She asked, carefully.

"Who else?"

"I thought maybe you befriended Richard Gere in the mean time."

"No, sorry. It's all you."

Rory nodded again, thoughtfully. She drank her coffee as she remembered some great things about Jess. And about her and Jess. The good things. Only the good things.

"You married?" He suddenly asked, nodding to the ring on Rory's finger.

"Don't you think you would've known if I was?"

Jess shrugged.

"Looks like a wedding ring to me."

"It's an engagement ring. Sort of."

"Who's the lucky guy?"

Rory chuckled and amusement could be read from her eyes.

"You don't wanna know."

"Mr. Hot Shot, I'm Too Sexy For My Shirt, Driving Around In My Porsche?"

"Logan, yes. And spare me your disapproval."

Jess raised his hands above his head.

"Not a word." He promised. "And how 'sort of' an engagement ring?"

"He's got commitment issues. Still. But there will be a wedding. Eventually."

"Is he still a jerk?"

Rory shrugged.

"Once in a while. I don't think there's a cure for that. Not for him anyway. But you get used to it."

"And you can live with that?"

"Nobody's perfect, Jess. Besides, what happened to 'not a word'?"

"I'm not judging. As long as you're happy."

"I am. Most of the time, anyway."

"You deserve better, Rory." Jess suddenly said, the tone in his voice different now. More serious, no longer light.

"Jess..."

"I'm just saying. You do. I might sound like a cheesy soap opera when I say this, but you deserve someone who loves you unconditionally and not just when it's convenient. Someone who's there for you, always and treats you with respect. Treats you the way you deserve to be treated. Not that I'm one to talk, but..."

"You did love me unconditionally." Rory stated, interrupting him and looking up at him expectantly. "You did. I never doubted that."

"Unfortunately I had a crappy way of showing it. I didn't treat you any better than this Logan guy. Which is why..."

"...you don't understand why I chose him over you." Rory finished his sentence.

Jess didn't answer, but she knew that was the exact answer he needed an answer to. Even after all this time. He wanted to know.

"We had bad timing, Jess."

"I came back, more than once to show you how I felt... You turned me down every single time."

"Well, because you had bad timing."

"That's not true Rory and you know it. Last time we saw each other I kissed you and you left to go back to him...even though you knew things were different now. That I was different. That I had more to offer..."

"What are you saying, Jess?"

"Nothing. Just that...maybe I loved you more than you ever loved me."

"Why would you..."

"I was absolutely crazy about you. Even after I left you, you were all I ever thought about. I couldn't even think about dating somebody else, about falling in love with somebody else. For years you were all that was on my mind. I actually thought that someday things would be different and I would show up and you would come around and that we would finally be together. For real this time. Without me screwing things up or without somebody trying to break us up...But you're still with him. He's as much of a jerk as I was, yet you're still with him after all these years. Where did I go wrong?"

"You left, Jess. If you hadn't, I don't know if things would be the way they are right now. I loved you. A lot. Even now, you're still a part of my life. It drives Logan crazy when I talk to our friends about my handsome ex-boyfriend, the bestselling author who dedicates all his books to me and to the relationship we once had. It drives him nuts that a guy I dated when I was in my teens still has such an impact on my life. That your books make me cry when I'm reading them in bed late at night with him lying next to me. Trust me, you've been the reason for many, many of our fights, which is crazy, because until a few minutes ago I hadn't even seen you in six years. So that's how much you meant to me, Jess. That's how much I loved you. Maybe still love you. So don't ever flatter yourself like that again, Mr. Mariano, because if you would drop on one knee right now and, I don't know, popped the question, don't think I wouldn't consider it, because...what I had with you, what we had once upon a time...I hadn't had that with anybody before I met you and I haven't had that with anybody since you left. It's just that...Logan was there. He's still here. He's difficult and there's drama, but he doesn't leave. He stays with me. Always."

Jess watched Rory with an amused look on his face. He knew she was serious and he loved hearing her say that. Truth was that even now, after all these years, Rory was still all that was on his mind. She truly had been the inspiration of many, if not all, of his books and even though he'd had flings and semi-serious relationships the past few years, he had never loved anybody else.

"So..." He started. "I'm not gonna be dropping on any knees any time soon, but...I'd like you to consider it."

"Consider what?"

"Considering leaving your current jerk of a boyfriend and trading him in for another, also jerk of a boyfriend."

"What?"

"Do what I think you should've done long ago. Come back to me. Let me show you how things could be. Should be maybe even."

"It's been years, Jess. We can't just..."

"Nothing's changed in those years. It's still there."

"I'm engaged."

"Only because he's there. Because he didn't leave you the way I did, you just said so yourself. Is that a good reason to marry somebody?"

"I love him, Jess."

"The way you loved me?"

"No, not the way I love you. Not even close, but that was years ago."

"You don't feel that way anymore?"

Rory sighed and turned away her head, not sure how to answer that question.

"I just told you that maybe I do still love you, but...it doesn't mean anything."

"Huh. That's rude. Saying love doesn't mean anything."

"I'm just saying. I was in love with you six years ago. So the person I love is the person you were six years ago. You're different. I'm different. We can't just pick up where we left off."

"We could give it a try." Jess' simple solution was.

Rory shook her head, but smiled at his simplicity and above all, his belief. He really believed that the two of them could have a future.

"You're dead serious, aren't you?" She asked as she searched for eye-contact once again. "You're really sitting here asking me to break off my engagement to be with you."

"I am."

"It's crazy, Jess."

"Yeah, well, we've always been a little crazy. Look, I realize I'm asking a lot, but... doesn't this just feel right? I mean, think about it, we haven't talked in six years and now we're sitting here and it feels just like before. Nothing's awkward or strange. This just makes sense Rory. It's always made sense and you know it."

Rory didn't think she'd ever seen Jess like this before. Sure, he'd come and declared his unconditional love for her before (she remembered all times rather vividly), but it was just different now. It wasn't begging the way it was when he asked her to go with him to...wherever. It wasn't pathetic or sad in any way. He was just sitting there, confident and just so sure of everything he was saying that she was tempted. More than that even. She knew there was truth to his words and that it really did make sense. She was also convinced that they could have that bright future together, yet it was crazy and too sudden to even consider it.

"You can't just ask me this, Jess. You can't just drop this on me and just expect me to throw myself in your arms."

"I'm not expecting anything. I don't want you to make a decision on the spot, because if you do that decision will be based on our past and on what you felt six years ago. I want you to base it on us. On what we have right here and now."

"I don't know what we have right here and now." Rory confessed.

"Exactly. So give yourself a chance to figure it out."

"Meaning?"

"Have dinner with me. Tonight."

"What?"

"And leave whats-his-face at home."

"I can't just..."

"Sure you can. Tell him you're meeting up with an old friend. No lies there. And just have dinner with me. Nothing more, nothing less. Just that. Get to know me once again. Give me a chance to get to know the person you've become."

Rory just looked at Jess, not knowing how to answer him. However, when a smile, a completely unintentional smile, appeared on her face, that was all the answer he needed.

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A/N: So there it is. Was it any good? Please let me know. Criticism is always welcome as long as I can work with it. Thanks.