Aki- My goodness, It took so long for me to get this up… Well, it's along chapter and it is the last… Sorry, but there is going to be nothing more after this. It is a satisfying ending and I couldn't continue even if I tried because I have not been in Gilmore Girl mood lately, but I would not leave this uncompleted.
This wasn't the worst time in his life, but it was definitely in the top ten. He couldn't, no matter how hard he tried, get Jimmy out of his mind. He hadn't slept well the night before, having been plagued my insomnia. Matt and Chris realized something was wrong and told him to take the day off. Jess shouldn't have taken them up on it, he would have preferred to have work fill his mind rather than…other things.
Some unfamiliar, unidentifiable emotion gnawed at his very being, at his heart, at his mind, at his conscience. Regret, maybe, shame, torment. The fact that he left things so poorly with Jimmy, all the mean things he said to him. The fact that he hadn't talked to him since, because part of him knew he should go and see him…because it owed it to Sahsa and Lily and Jimmy, even himself.
But he couldn't, he couldn't! He was still too mad, too petty, too…he didn't know what. He wasn't ready to face the truth, that his father, no matter how lousy he had been at the job, might die.
His cell phone ringing interrupted him from his brooding in a secluded coffee shop where the waitresses kept casting him dirty looks because he had been there for over an hour and a half and had only ordered one thing.
"Hello?" he asked quietly and sluggishly, not feeling like talking.
"Sasha!" exclaimed Jess, his demeanor changing swiftly from mopey to attentive and nervous.
"He's okay," the woman on the other end said with a sigh. She sounded if she was crying in relief. "He made it through the night. He's gonna be okay."
"Are-are you sure?" stuttered Jess in disbelief. "Did the doctors say so…?"
"They did. I mean he has about million broken bones, and a concussion, and a collapsed lung, but they stopped all the bleeding and he's conscious now…"
"Really?" asked jess, relief spreading throughout his body.
"Yeah, except the first time he woke this morning he was so full of drugs he didn't know what was going on. It would have been really funny if it hadn't been so serious. There was some total blackmail material in that interaction…"
"Well I hope you got it taped. It'll never do well to miss a chance at blackmail." Jess was surprised how easily he could joke at the moment.
"But, when he came more, well, lucid," replied Sasha, her tone becoming more serious, "He said he…he said he wanted to see you."
"See me?" asked Jess, shocked.
"You know how people are you just survived life-threatening accidents…"
"This my first experience but I understand the concept."
"He really wants to see you, Jess."
Jess sighed in frustration. "He'll probably change his mind once he's out of the hospital. The meds must be making him loopy.
"Jess," implored Sasha in one of her rare reprimanding tones.
"He's your father. You at least owe him one visit. Think about it."
Jess couldn't find a reply so he hung up without saying good bye and promptly turned off his phone so she wouldn't try to call him again.
He rested his head in his hands, the joy and relief he felt just a few moments ago having quickly evaporated…
It was late that night that when Jess walked back into Truchean Books, cold, tired, and emotionally exhausted.
"Man, where have you been?" asked Chris, who was organizing the book shelves as his friend entered.
"You gave me the day off, or don't you remember?"
"I remember, but your girlfriend called here looking for you. Apparently she couldn't get through to your cell phone…Hey, wait! Where are you going?"
"Shit, shit, shit," Jess swore under his voice as he ran out to his car and started the engine. There was no point going to the concert by this time. Jess drove as fast as he could to the apartment Rory shared with Paris.
It was not until two hours later, when he pulled into a screeching stop at the apartment building that he noticed his satchel had spilled over the passengers seat. His notebooks, pens, papers of unfinished manuscripts spalled lazy about the seat from his wild driving. On top was his copy of The Subsect. For some reason, after driving twenty above the speed limit to get here, he took the time to put all of his items back into the satchel. In his mind it was a rather clever delaying tactic.
Resigned to his fate, he made his way up two flights of stairs and knocked on the apartment door. It opened just a crack a few moments later.
"Oh, it's you," said Paris venomously and Jess got the distinct impression that Rory must have told her how he had stood her up. She closed the door to undo the chain lock before opening it and glaring at him with a hand on her hip.
"Can I talk to Rory?" he asked seeing as Paris was not going to give him the break and let him in without him having to ask.
"Rory," she shouted, taking step back from the door, but Jess' didn't enter. "Your," Paris paused and glanced at him as if trying to come up with the appropriate word to describe him, but ended up just saying very vindictively, "Boyfriend is here to see you." Jess was starting to hope that Paris had taken his missed date more personally than Rory did.
Speaking of Rory, she took this moment to come out of her bedroom dressed in a white tank top and pajama bottoms. "Finally decided to show up," she said in a voice of sadness, anger, and resignation that made Jess' guilt intensify tenfold.
Paris opened her mouth as to make a smartass comment, but Rory waved her off. "I can handle this, go back to bed."
Paris promptly closed her mouth and shrugged as if to say, 'your lose.'
Jess waited until Paris closed her bedroom door behind before talking. "Rory," he started, but she raised her hand to cut him off.
"But, I want to say I'm—"
"Sorry?" she finished for him.
Rory crossed her arm across her chest in a protective rather than angry gesture. "Where were you?" she asked softly. "I kept calling you but your cell phone was off and Chris said you were out."
Jess ran a hand through his hair nervously. "Something came up and the concert totally slipped my mind."
"Yeah, I figured that once everyone started coming out…"
"What do you mean? You didn't go into the concert at all?" asked Jess, slightly stunned.
"I was waiting for you!" Jess couldn't explain was he was so moved when she said that. "I had your ticket."
"You really could have gone in without me. I feel horrible that I made you miss the band. I know you were really looking forward to it."
"I could care less about missing the band!," Rory reprimanded, "I wanted to spend tonight with you."
"I know, but I'll make it up to you. We have tons of other nights we can spend together!" Jess quickly defended.
"But I wanted to spend tonight with you…did you…," she sighed. "I didn't want to say anything because I didn't want you to think you had to do anything special, but…its our sixth month anniversary since we became a couple again. I didn't say anything because it felt like a stupid, high school kind of anniversary thing…"
Jess could see that Rory was trying hard not to be angry at him, to yell at him. He wasn't sure if he appreciated it or not. Some of is guilt would have been eased of she was raging at him right now, rather then looking so pitiful and sad.
"Where were you?" said Rory.
"It just slipped out of my mind—"
"That not an answer to the question I asked," retorted Rory with more edge than before. "What happened?"
"What'd you mean?"
"What do I mean!? I mean today and on the phone yesterday. Something is wrong! What is it?"
"Nothing, Rory! Just leave it alone," Jess snapped back in a much rougher tone than he had anticipated leaving his mouth.
She looked at him, taken back, wide-eyed for half a second before mouthing quickly, "Why are acting like…" She cut herself off.
"Why am I acting like what?" Jess asked, his own anger boiling just under the surface, anticipating what she was going to say.
All inhibitions lost Rory snapped back, "Why are acting like you did when you were seventeen!"
Silence hung between them. For the briefest moment Jess wondered what Rory must have been thinking as she had waited for him at the concert. He could almost imagine her sitting alone on the hood of the car in a vacant parking lot, a dull song of music drifting from the concert hall behind her. Even though only a few weeks after their new relationship had started she had professed in front of the entire town that she had loved him and he was changed man, did some tiny part of her she dare not voice aloud doubt him still? As she sat alone in the darkening hours of the evening, was her only company that of the memories of the too many stood-up dates, of the times he disappeared with a warning? Was that what the teary look in her baby blue eyes was now, behind her mask of anger?
These revelations did not stop him from his bitter remark.
"I'm the same person I was when I was seventeen."
"No, you're not!" Rory spoke loudly, flushed with aggravation, but suddenly sank back, "Or maybe you are."
That's not the response Jess expected. "Wha…?"
Rory laughed lightly to herself before speaking so quietly and staring at the floor as she did so it was if she regretted every word. "Our relationship started out great back then too. But after a while everything changed…"
The dejected girl looked him in the eyes. "I don't want to be in that place again. The place where you miss dates, and don't talk to me, and hide things, and take stuff out on me when something's wrong and there is! Don't deny it. I'm your girlfriend and I care about you. I love you! And I want to help you when something goes bad. I can't when you never let me. I can't when you push me away…" Rory sniffled, tears glistening, unfallen, in her eyes.
"Rory…" Jess said, almost pleading.
"No, Jess. No. I can't take this anymore. Look," She glanced back into her apartment, arms still crossed across her chest defensively, refusing to meet his eyes, "I have a class tomorrow morning and I really need to get some sleep and…" Her breathing hitched. "I really can't do this right now…Go home, you should go home and…" Rory bit back a sob. "Call me if you ever decide to grow up again…"
"Fine," he said bitterly, backing up half a pace into the hallway.
Rory stared at him wide-eyed for a moment before resigning and closing the door and slowly locking its many locks. Jess stormed down two flights of stairs and to his car.
He slammed his car down closed behind him with much more force than necessary. He went to the start the engine, but his hands were shaking so much he dropped the keys onto the floor. He leaned down to scoop them up, but on his way back up to his seat he caught sight of something that made him pause: A corner of The Subsect poking out of the satchel on the passengers seat. Like water onto flame, his anger quelled.
He hesitantly took the book and pulled out of the bag and held it in front of him. After a moment's pause he slowly flipped open the front cover and read the words he knew were printed inside. Suddenly, he dropped the novel onto his lap, grasped the steering wheel so tight his knuckles turned white and bowed his head onto the top of the wheel. Submission and desperation.
One minute…five…ten…he wasn't quite sure howling he sat in that position, fighting back tears, because he was too proud to do such. But sometime later he got out of the car and walked straight back into Rory's apartment building. He wasn't running away this time.
He knocked on the apartment door roughly. "Rory, Rory," he called, pausing every few seconds to wait for a response, none came. Sighing in resignation, Jess turned around and slid down the door to sit on the floor. She was either asleep or was refusing to answer his calls. He banged his head against the door three times in frustration. It was almost a good thing Rory didn't answer the door, he had no clue what to say.
"So," Jess said to himself, his voice resounding in the empty hallway. "This is so stupid. What am I going to do, sit here until morning…?" He paused as though waiting for someone to answer him. "I guess I am," he replied to himself, some unknown resolve hardening in himself despite how uncool this was.
"I don't know what to do," he said aloud, fingering his copy of The Subsect that he hadn't realized he had brought up from the car. "Look," he said, staring at the book as if he were talking to his currently estranged girlfriend. "I'm sorry. And I know that means nothing with as many times as I've said it or needed to say it…
"I shouldn't have forgot tonight's concert or exploded at you, but you're right there is something wrong. I don't know why it is so hard to tell you. I trust you, Rory, I really do. It's just—I'm not used to people wanting to listen to my problem's. I'm good at dealing with stuff on my own, or at least I think I am. I guess not so much as I always take it out on the people I care about.
"Back to the point. Jimmy—my dad, he was in a bad car accident the other day. They—they didn't think he was going to live. He is— now, but for a while…and I was worried about him, or about me, I'm not sure. I never talked about it with, well, anyone, but we never got along and I left California after we had a big fight. We haven't talked since, and now he wants to see me…"
Jess sighed. "I don't know what else to say…I just want you to know that I don't want to be the me that I was when I was a teenager. Because…because I'm tired of looking back on my life and not liking what I see. I have changed, but I'm not perfect. Not yet, probably not ever. But I've changed enough to know that this time it's not good enough to walk away and hope you'll came back to me. I'm not gonna do that. I've got to prove to you that I am serious about us."
Jess fingered the book in has hand before flipping open the first page. "You know how The Susbsect is being reprinted….? Well, I added a dedication to it. To you, if you hadn't guessed by the course of this rather strange, one-sided conversation. Do you want to know what it says? I'll read it. 'To Rory, You may never know all that you've done for me, but you did this. You believed in me when I saw nothing worth believing in. I have no words to tell you how thankful I am that you are in my life, except these…Will you marry me…?' "
The silence in the hallway never seemed so solid before. He bit his lower lip, a nervous habit he must have picked up from Rory.
A single thought ran through his head. 'I wish I had the nerve to say this all again in the morning when she is actually listening.'
A second later Jess heard the locks on the door slowly being opened. He tensed, imagining Paris coming and yelling at him to go away.
"God, I don't think I've ever heard you talk so much in my life…"
That voice wasn't Paris's. He arched his neck to see…
"Rory," he said, stumbling as he tried to get onto his feet. Before he could, however, Rory launched herself at him, knocking to the ground, arms around his neck.
"Yes, yes an absolute, million times yes…"
It took the frazzled boy a moment to figure out what his girlfriend was talking about…
"I didn't mean to do it like this…not so soon, or after a fight…and I was supposed to have a ring…."
Rory pushed herself up off the ground, allowing Jess to get into a proper sitting position. She picked up the discarded copy of The Subset off the floor next to them and read the dedication swiftly.
"That's okay," she said, looking up to meet Jess' eyes. You're all I need.
And Jess kissed her, but there is nothing quite else that is appropriate at a moment like this. It was amazing that one little request, 'stay,' could change their lives.
Of course, they hadn't calculated that telling everyone of their engagement would be quite the same as had been telling them of their relationship. The next morning Paris seemed a little frustrated at the couple's swinging change and now engagement. It seemed that he had preferred being mad at Jess rather then dealing with the couple's lovey-dovey-ness. Lorelai and Luke were a little baffled, but happy for them nonetheless. Liz was ecstatic above all measures. Emily had looked distinctly sick at the news, with Richard' completely oblivious to his wife's discontent. About a month later Jess took Rory to California with him to see his father…
And the town…well, they were just going to have to deal with it.