A/N: I'm so sorry about the long wait! But here I am with the unexpected final chapter. I hadn't planned on that at all, but it just kind of turned out that way. I hope you'll enjoy it. It's kind of cliché-ville all over, but…yeah.
Also, thank you for all the kind reviews with the many great ideas for an ending. I'd like to credit Sydney Lynne for the way I ended the story. It was her idea and I used it in my own way (hopefully to her satisfaction!). She really inspired me.
Lastly, I'd like to thank all of you for staying loyal to this story, even though I didn't always update all that fast. You have no idea how much it means to me and I had a great time writing this!
Now, enjoy the final chapter!
For the next two weeks they worked together at Luke's. Jess stayed out of her way, refused to even say as much as 'hello' to her in the morning and pretty much pretended like she didn't exist. It was painful. To say the least. She tried to talk to him, but he seemed to look right through her. Rory never felt worse.
After the two weeks, when Lorelai and Luke came home, Jess disappeared without a word. No goodbye, no nothing. Rory hadn't expected him to. She had lost him. Again. Maybe forever now.
She liked her new place. It was small, but cozy and it really felt like a fresh start. She was okay now. Everything was okay. He was still on her mind though. A lot. After the first month she had tried to call him. Once, twice, three times. After all, it had been a month, right? How much time did he assume they needed? He didn't answer, didn't return her calls.
After the second month she called again. More than three times now. One time someone had answered. It wasn't him. She asked for him, but the guy on the other end of the line said he couldn't come to the phone and asked if he could take a message. She had told him no. A letter followed. It took her ages to write it. Nothing happened.
Now three months had gone by. She had picked up the pieces of her shattered life. She was working her butt off, but had managed to make some new friends. Friends that didn't have anything to do with her former fiancée. Things were great. She felt happy. She still missed him though. She was done chasing him and was willing to give him time to come to her. She didn't think it was going to happen anytime soon. She knew him. He would be back in her life eventually, but it was probably going to be years. History had proven that much. It was okay though. She'd wait. She'd give him time.
One day, three months after they last spoke, the doorbell rang. She opened it and accepted what the messenger handed her. She signed for it and investigated the package with curiosity. It was sent from Philadelphia. Her heart skipped a beat.
Inside she sat down on her fluffy couch and found her hands shaking as she carefully opened the package. She took out the bundle of papers wrapped inside.
'Enlightment' by Jess Mariano.
No note. No nothing. But it was enough. She spent a week and half editing it. Every day a few pages. She sent it back the same way it had come her way. She didn't include a note either. It was okay like this.
More chapters followed. She edited them all as she got caught up in the breathtaking story. She cried sometimes. It was all too familiar, came to close. For another three months this continued. He sent them her way and she sent them back when she was done. It was all the contact they had. She wished for a note or a letter, but it never came, so she never sent one either.
Eventually the day came when she had to sent back the epilogue. It hurt because she wasn't sure what would happen now. Was this the end of it?
Barely two months later she got the invitation through the mail. She smiled as she read it. The printed words were formal and cold, but as she turned the card around she was greeted by his familiar, messy handwriting on the back.
I'm gonna need you there.
Rory nervously walked up to the big building where one of the hosts stopped her. He smiled at her friendly.
"Gilmore." She answered.
He checked his guest list.
"I doubt you have any other Gilmores on there. I'm the only one he can remotely stand."
The guy smiled a sincere smile as he stepped aside to let her in.
She couldn't believe how upset her stomach was as she stepped inside. She remember a certain conversation she and Jess had had a while back where he thought everything in her life was fancy. Apparently now it was the other way around. The place was so formal and unlike Jess. She knew he was hating all of this. He was probably proud of his book and was happy about publishing it, but he didn't need all this around it. He probably resented the entire idea of a booklaunching party.
A woman in red took her coat and escorted her through the big hallway to the gigantic ballroom. Huge posters featuring the cover of the new book graced the walls, waiters were handing out glasses of champagne (he hated champagne!), soft classical music was playing and everything from the curtains to the table cloths were a soft color of pink that Jess no doubt despised. On her left side was a big table with tons of copies of the new book. It's the first place she went. She took a copy from the table and stared at the cover. It was a drawing of a bridge, with water around it and two figures that couldn't be made out on top of it. They were obviously a boy and a girl and the bridge obviously wasn't just any bridge. The bridge was their bridge. The bridge where they not only had their last heartbreaking moment, but also shared some amazing ones. The same bridge was featured in the book numerous times and Rory smiled. This was amazing.
She read the back of the book for the first time and really liked the description of the story. Her eyes were drawn to the left corner.
Edited by: Lorelai Leigh Gilmore. Rory.
She loved how he had included her full name, but didn't forget to just keep it simple. She was just Rory.
She opened the book on the first page was surprised by the words of dedication. No longer R.G.
Dedicated to my girl. It'll always be you.
She couldn't wipe the smile of her face.
About an hour and three glasses of champagne later , Rory was getting insanely bored. And still no sight of the reason she was here in the first place. A few people had come up to her to make small talk so far. They talked about Jess mostly. About his books at first, but the conversation quickly turned to the mystery that surrounded him. Nobody knew anything about him. They didn't know where he came from, what his life had been like up to now. Jess the author had surrounded himself with mystery. Which really wasn't all that different from Jess the person, Rory thought. It intrigued people and it was basically all they talked about. Rory didn't tell them anything. She played along. She knew Jess would want her to. One man recognized her as the editor of this latest book as she introduced herself. He praised her, but Rory didn't take it too seriously, since she knew the man couldn't have read the book yet anyway. She had just smiled politely and thanked him for his kind words.
Then it happened. She felt a hand on her shoulder and she immediately knew. She turned around and came face to face with him.
"Hey." He said, smirking.
"Hi." Rory said, softly.
He hadn't changed a single bit. He was still the same, old Jess and she loved him for it.
"You having fun?"
"Yeah. Great party."
She chuckled softly as she looked around.
"Who are all these people, Jess?"
"Not sure. I think I know about ten people here. And that includes you. Four others I know by face, two by name and two I do know by both face and name, but the one I refer to as Jim might also be a Tim and Sally might very well be a Kelly."
She smiled shyly.
"So it's safe to say you didn't plan this party yourself?"
"You did see the salmon pink table cloths, didn't you?"
"Wanna go some place quiet?"
"You sure?" Rory hesitantly asked. "Can you just leave your own party?"
"If you put me in a line-up, 99 of these people wouldn't recognize me as the author of the book whose party they are attending, if their life depended on it."
"Good point…" She smiled and she tried not to blush as he took her hand and guided her through the big crowd of people.
They entered a small room and as soon as Jess closed the door behind them, it blocked out all the sound from the party. It became quiet. It was just the two of them. The room was dark and Jess searched for a light switch, but didn't find one. All the while he was still holding on to Rory. He guided her to one of the corners and switched on a small table lamp. They sat down on two chairs that Jess had taken from the big, old table that was in the center of the room. He immediately took her hand back in his, since he had to let go of it to get the chairs. They looked at each other. They both had a large shadow over their faces because of the small light. It made Rory smile a little.
"So, written any good books lately?" Rory broke the silence.
"You tell me."
She smiled at him. Then she nodded, but wasn't sure if Jess was able to see that. Another silence fell.
"It's been a while." She continued, desperate to start up a conversation, since she wasn't so comfortable with the silence as Jess obviously was.
Jess wasn't about to co-operate though and he didn't say anything. He just looked at her, which made her even more uncomfortable. She shifted in her seat, not sure where to look or what to do. Her eyes landed on their entwined fingers and she felt his firm grasp around her hand.
"You look good." She continued, not willing to give up. "Wearing a suit and everything. A tie even."
Still no response. Just Jess looking at her. Every now and then she would look up at him too and their eyes would meet, but then she would look away. Simply because she didn't know what else to do. She was nervous, without even knowing what she was nervous about and Jess wasn't a big help.
"Okay, Jess…please say something." She now pleaded, looking him straight in the eye. "I know you're not a man of many words, but I can't keep this conversation going all by myself."
A sly smirk appeared on his face. She then smiled back. An uncomfortable smile, no doubt.
"You look beautiful." He then said.
"Thanks." She blushed.
"Been on any bad dates lately?"
"You cut right to the chase, huh?"
He simply shrugged, looking at her expectantly.
"Just one." She confessed and didn't miss the slight disappointment in his eyes. "Somebody from work set it up. I couldn't really say no."
"And? Did you have fun?"
She nodded slightly.
"So now you're engaged to him and I'm too late again?" He joked, but the expression on his face serious as ever.
She chuckled a little.
"No, don't worry. I had a fun night, but that's all."
"He took me to dinner and then a movie." She started.
"How original." Jess teased.
"It was sweet." She smiled. "He was real polite. Brought me flowers and opened doors for me."
"Sounds like a real gentleman."
"You wouldn't think so if you saw him though. He was kind of a bad boy. Dark and mysterious. Inseparable from his leather jacket and he'd had his fair share of run-ins with authorities. He got his life back on track though an now he paints. And becoming kind of successful at that too."
"Sounds like your type." He joked.
"He was." Rory confirmed, smiling at him teasingly.
"So how come it ended after one night?" Jess asked, slowly moving his thumb up and down, stroking her warm and soft hand and leaning in just a little, a sly smile decorating his pretty face.
"There was something missing." Rory shrugged. "I couldn't put my finger on it, but…"
He wouldn't even let her finish the sentence. He cut her off by softly kissing her. He let go of her hand now as he moved it to her cheek. Rory smiled as she started kissing him back, surprised by how natural it felt, even though it had been almost six months since their last kiss. It's been argued that it's impossible to pick up where left off, but Rory was starting to doubt that now. She was giggling just a little when he broke the kiss. He looked at her.
"Did that help at all?"
"Yeah. " She answered. "I think that was it."
"The missing ingredient?" He joked.
"Glad I could be of service."
He rested his hand carefully on her left knee, still staring at her.
"So how about you?" Rory asked.
"What about me?"
He shook his head, the smirk never leaving his face.
"No dates." He explained.
"Wow. Not a single date. Impressive."
"That's the difference between you and me, Gilmore. I don't need to go on a date with a beautiful, on the surface innocent, bright blue-eyed girl first to realize that there will always be something missing."
"Were you always this smart?"
"I think it comes with age." Jess answered, matter-of-factly.
"Really?" She asked as she carefully leaned in and placed another soft kiss on his lips.
"Yes, really." He murmured with her lips still on his.
"I can't believe we're sitting here." Rory said as she pressed her forehead against his and stared into his eyes.
"Not fancy enough for your taste?"
"No." She answered firmly as she playfully hit him on the arm, causing him to chuckle. "That's not what I meant! I meant that this has been such a long time coming and now…for the first time….there seems to be nothing in the way."
"Except you living in New York and me living in Philadelphia." Jess immediately said.
"Right. Leave it to you to suck the fun out of everything." Rory laughed.
"I'm just saying…"
"You could move." Rory offered.
"So could you." He tossed back.
"What would be the point in that? Then I'd be living in Philly and you'd be in New York. Don't see how that'd help us."
She stuck out her tongue at him and he chuckled.
"We'll figure it out." She then said, serious as ever.
"We will." Jess agreed, searching for her hand and once again entwining their fingers.
"So now what?"
"Now we have a party to attend." Jess decided.
"You really think I'm letting go of this hand tonight?" He winked, causing her to blush.
"Please welcome, the man who's inspired us in so many ways: Jess Mariano."
Jess' eyes grew wide as he looked up at Rory who immediately started laughing.
"How come I did not know about this?" He asked as the crowd started clapping and the woman on stage looked at him expectantly.
"Maybe you should get involved in the party planning just a bit more next time." Rory advised him as she took his hand and guided him to the round stage.
"I don't have anything prepared."
"Is tough Jess Mariano nervous?" Rory teased him.
Before Jess even had a chance to respond to that Rory pushed him on to the stage and the clapping got louder as he appeared. The woman stepped away from the microphone and the crowd grew silent as Jess took her place and nervously scanned the big crowd. It was endearing to watch and Rory smiled.
"Thank you." Jess stammered. "Uhm, I…just want to thank all of you for coming out tonight and supporting me and…the book."
It remained eerily silent in the big ballroom. Jess took a deep breath and suddenly recovered as he regained his confidence and searched for eye contact with Rory.
"For a man who has been told that he's got his way with words on paper, I really suck at speaking in public like this. Mostly because I don't have a lot to say. However, there is one person that I need to thank. Most of you probably only know her because you've read her name on the back of my book tonight, but the truth is that doesn't do her justice at all. I met her when I was just a teenager and didn't know anything about life and love. But since then everything I've done and accomplished has been about her. We never really got out timing right and I had to let her go far too many times, even though many of those times it was my own fault. A few months ago I left her behind on a bridge, even though all I wanted to do was hold on to her and never let go. Without her my books wouldn't exist. Not just because the books are about her, about us, but also because without her it never would've occurred to me to put my thoughts on paper. For the longest time I was just a screw-up. I was heading nowhere and my last resort, even though I didn't see it like that, was Stars Hallow, Connecticut. A town with the craziest people you will ever meet , but also the two people that got me here today. She was the town princess. Beautiful, smart, funny. Pairing her up with this bad boy was more than the town could handle. Yet she's here tonight, because even after all this time we still haven't let go. She's always been a part of me even when we weren't talking. Tonight, however…I got her back. And I think this time it's for good. At least I know I'm not letting go. So I would like to dedicate this night, the book and my life to the most beautiful woman in this world, miss Rory Gilmore."
With that Jess stepped away from the microphone and stepped off the stage, making his way back to the woman he spoke so highly of. The crowd suddenly burst into cheering and clapping, surprising both him and Rory. When he finally got to her, he grabbed her waist and pulled her closer.
"That was…" Rory started, not hiding the tears that had formed in her eyes.
"Clichéd as hell." Jess finished the sentence.
They laughed, not noticing that all eyes were on them as Jess leaned in and kissed her with all he had. The cheering got even louder as Jess wrapped her arms around Rory and their kiss got more passionate. She broke the kiss after several seconds, as he still held on to her.
"I think this is the part where I tell you I love you." Rory whispered so only Jess would hear.
"I've already addressed every cliché in the book, so one more probably won't hurt." Jess shrugged.
"Well, I love you Jess Mariano."
"I love you, Lorelai Leigh Gilmore."
Rory burst into laughing.
"How lame are we?!"
"I don't care." Jess said, truthfully.
Her laughter became a wide smile before she leaned back in and kissed him again. The crowd was still applauding them and it actually felt kind of nice. This time Jess lifted her off the ground just a little bit and she couldn't help but laugh while kissing him. Sure, they were one those clichéd couples now, but the important part was that they were a couple. It had been a long time coming and she doubted it had ever taken two people this long to find their way to each other, but here they were. Even after all this time, their love hadn't died.
One year later
Jess nervously shifted from one feet to the other, a stern expression on his face.
"Would you just stand still for a second?" Luke ordered him, trying to fix Jess' tie.
"I doubt it would do any good, because you just suck at this."
"Well, do you have anybody else around to do it for you?"
Luke let go of the tie just a second as he and Jess looked at each other first, before turning to the big sofa in the room. TJ sat in it going through a bowl of M&M's eating some, but throwing the brown ones over his shoulder. Luke raised his eyebrows at Jess. Their gaze moved to Jimmy who was standing in front of the big mirror trying to get a suspicious stain out of his pants using his own tie. Luke gave Jess another look.
"Fine." Jess sighed. "Point taken. I'll stand still."
"You sure?" Luke continued. "I mean, I could step out for a second and get Kirk for you. I'm sure he's a pro at this."
"I said I'd stand still, didn't I?" Jess responded. "No need to kick a guy when he's already down."
Luke smirked as he went back to fixing the tie.
"You enjoyed that way too much." Jess murmured.
"I can't help it. It's always fun to annoy you, but now that you're nervous it's just too easy."
"Well, I'm glad somebody is having a good time."
"You'll enjoy it too, trust me. Once the 'I do's' are out it's all a piece of cake."
"I'd like to fast forward to that then, please."
"Miss Patty has prepared a song." Luke suddenly said.
"Did she do that for you and Lorelai too?"
"Nope. You're special." Luke teased.
"Could this day get any more fun?"
"The rumor goes she's stripping too."
"And Taylor's prepared a speech. I heard it includes a part about 'deflowering' a woman."
Jess took the tie from Luke's hand and tried fixing it himself.
"Now you're just messing with me."
"Taking your mind off things." Luke explained.
Jess walked up to the mirror and then turned back to Luke.
"Is this right?"
"You look good."
Jess took a deep breath.
Luke checked his watch.
"That leaves enough time to throw up, right?"
"Her morning sickness is rubbing off on you?"
When the big doors opened and she appeared, Jess felt how he stopped breathing for just half a second. She was wearing a somewhat sparkly, strapless, off-white dress that showed off her barely there bump. Her hair was up and the long veil was hanging loosely over her shoulders and down her back. Her gorgeous, blue eyes stood out and they locked with his dark pools. They smiled and at that moment everything was just perfect. Even after all this time.