Disclaimer: it's officially official, I never owned Gilmore girls… what a shock!
A/N: So I guess I should start by introducing myself (you can skip this part if you are tired of egocentric authors trying to be funny while boring everyone to death…)Hi, I'm Héla, I'm French and although this is not my 1st fanfic, this is actually my first GG one so I'm definitely counting on your reviews and I really hope you'll enjoy reading this piece of crap (lol) as much as I enjoyed writing it.
On another note, I'd like to add that I think Milo (or Milolicious as I like to call him) is one of the hottest human being walking on the face of the planet.
Let the game begin :)
Chapter one: In great need of vacancy,
«Hello Roger, » Rory Gilmore smiled to the tall man behind the counter as she entered the coffee house on the cold December evening. She quickly got rid of her scarf and gloves before planting herself in front of him, looking eagerly for the coffee pot behind him. She could not see it but she could smell its delightful smell. She inhaled deeply and let a content sigh escape her. It has been a long day. Wait, scratch that, it has been four long years. This counter was definitely one of her top six of favorites places. First came her mother's bed in the Crap shack, just before the old wooden bridge in Stars Hollow, then the barstools in Luke's where her mother and her spent countless hours trying to annoy the poor Luke, closely followed by her couch in her New York apartment. The counter of Roger's coffee house came five just after the poetry section in The Book Corner, her favorite bookstore which was situated in the Village. Roger Lafferty, tall with dark silky hair, piercing brown eyes, a light beard that seemed to never grow or fade away and one of the most genuine smile she had ever seen opened a coffee shop just down her street 6 years ago and she spent as much time there with Ariel and Nathalie as in their apartment.
«Hello to you too, Rory. How have you been? » he greeted her, his eyes dancing with amusement. He really enjoyed having her around. Firstly because she was insanely funny and secondly because when Rory was somewhere, Ariel Tracy was never far away.
«Same old, Same old. » she replied with a wave of her hand and a small smile. «Didn't change much since the last time we spoke. » she added.
«Which, if I recall correctly, was this morning. Missing me already? » he asked smirking, a hint of New Yorker accent in his voice that brought a smile to her face.
«I know your heart belongs to someone else, otherwise I'd have married you and that delicious mocchacino of yours a long time ago. » she replied, mirroring his smirk and even though she was in front of someone as tough and manly as Roger she could have sworn she saw a hint a blush creeping upon his cheeks. At that moment she felt a wave of nostalgia hit her and realized she had been missing Luke a lot lately. 'God! I can't wait to take a break!' she found herself thinking, her smile fading just a little. He averted his eyes and went to clean one of the table by the huge windows that were open to the streets. He returned a few minutes later, having slowed the pounding in his chest a little.
«So, you're here alone; that's a first. » he commented trying to sound as casual as possible, while pouring her coffee in one of the biggest mug he possessed.
«She's joining me later. She had to make a stop home first. » she answered with too much amusement for his liking.
«She who? » he asked faking ignorance for a few second before turning away to hide the smile that was appearing on his face.
«You wanna play dumb? Fine but I'm not playing with you. » she said with mock seriousness.
«I swear on the life of me, I have no idea what you're talking about. » he replied adopting the same tone she used.
«Sure you don't. Now give me the elixir of life, Bagel boy. » she said with a soft laugh, her eyes lighting up when he handed her the mug. «You know, she's pretty much unique. She really is amazing and if you keep stalling you'll miss your chance at something really good. She won't be available for much longer… » 'I know…' he thought miserably while Rory kept rambling about his missed opportunities. She smiled at him, understanding what he was going through and he smiled back.
«Quit babbling and drink that coffee. » he stated, trying to sound annoyed and she laughed heartedly .
«You know, if I didn't know better, I'd think I just caught the two of you flirting. » a third voice interrupted their banter. Roger fake scowl was instantly replaced by a huge grin and Rory had to restrain her self from laughing. She turned to face Ariel with a smirk playing on her lips.
«So what if we were, huh? » she asked throwing a long side glance at Roger.
«Oh, I'm completely ok with it. It's just that it goes against your 'no-dating-a-coffee-slash-bagel-maker' rule. » Ariel replied with a shrug of feigned indifference as she imitated Rory and took off her winter outfit.
« Well, I'm my mother's daughter, aren't I? » Rory said winking at Roger playfully while Ariel giggled.
«Don't let her fool you, » Ariel exclaimed dramatically to Roger, « behind this angelic face, a demon is hiding, waiting for a pure soul like yours to resurface. » she said glaring playfully at her roommate.
«Don't let the crazy coffee junkie seduce you. Noted. » Roger said with a nod and a small smile. A few second passed away before Rory remembered why she was so tired today.
«So… » she began her voice shaking just a little with apprehension. « How did it go? » her tone was so suddenly serious that it broke the playful atmosphere they were in just a few moments ago. Ariel saw the worry in her friend's eyes and her expression sobered. « That good, huh? » Rory asked, her voice dripping with sarcasm.
«Let's talk about it later, ok? » Ariel proposed with a small smile and Rory sighed, nodding her head. Ariel put her arm around the crystal blue eyed girl's shoulder and gave her a reassuring squeeze. Rory smiled gratefully at her and took a sip of her coffee. She sighed contently and smiled at Roger who returned the gesture.
«If you're counting on blocking the way to my counter, at least take a seat. » he then said with fake grumpiness, trying to lighten the mood. The two women rolled their eyes playfully and took a seat before the black marble counter. « Are you counting on ordering something? » he asked Ariel still using the same voice.
«What is it with you and the words beginning with 'count' today? » she asked, choosing to ignore his question.
«I have a quota to reach; I only used half of them today and I'm closing in a few hours so I have to hurry and get it over with. » he replied with a shrug and she laughed.
« Oh, quit the act, I know you love me. » she said before looking at the pastries display on her left, almost drooling over them and missing the distressed look that crossed Roger's beautiful hazel eyes. «I just got here, I need time to chose properly. » she said looking back at him, her eyes twinkling.
« Please, you don't need time, you just enjoy torturing me. » he said rolling his eyes.
« So not true. » she protested vehemently.
« You've been coming here for six years, twice a day everyday and you've been ordering the same things ever since. On week mornings: a steamy cup of cappuccino with two croissants. On week evening: mint tea with a brownie, weird combination if you ask me but I'm not the one eating it. On morning week ends a Perrier and a small fruit salad after your jogging and on Sunday nights just a bagel. You don't come on Saturday nights. We're Friday and it's the evening so I guess you'll have a mint tea with one of my delicious brownie.» he finished with a satisfied smirk. Ariel was torn between annoyance and speechlessness.
«I 'm not that predictable! One day, when you'll least expect it, I'll surprise you. » she threatened but the effect was ruined by her pout, causing him to chuckle lightly.
«Right! » he sarcastically.
«What if I decided that Friday was not really a week day but it's not the week end either, huh? What if I order something else, especially for this in-between day? »
«Firstly, it's not up to you to make these kind of decisions. Secondly, you won't, I know you too well… » he stopped dead in his tracks. « I mean I know your alimentary habit too well » he finished averting his eyes and catching a glimpse of Rory amused smile.
«Whatever Bagel boy, bring my 'Friday evening' order and whip that smirk out of your face or I'll leave without paying. » she exclaimed pointing a threatening finger at him. She tried to suppress the smile that wanted to break through her face but it was no use.
«You wouldn't. » he deadpanned.
«Really? Just try me. » she said grinning.
«I can leave you two alone, if you'd like more privacy. I mean, you've been ignoring me for the last ten minutes. I might as well leave and let you enjoy yourselves. » Rory's voice cut in and brought them back to reality, while she tried to hide her smirk behind her gigantic mug. Roger cleared his throat turning to the pastries display while Ariel glared at Rory. In an instant Ariel's order was placed in front of her and she smiled softly at Roger.
«No problem. »
«So how's Jeremy? » she asked causing a proud smile to appear on his Italian features.
«Yeah we miss mini you. It's been a while since we saw that handsome son of yours. » Rory finally joined the conversation. Roger smile grew into a full sized grin. There were only two person that could have that effect on him; his son and the long dark curly haired woman with piercing green eyes that was seating in front of him.
«He's coming over tomorrow and he'll be spending the holidays with me. Carole is spending Christmas with her fiancé's family so she thought it'd be better if Jeremy stayed with me.» he explained, the smile never leaving his face.
« Well, she's not as stupid as she thought she was.» Ariel said her voice even but her eyes showing a multitude of emotions.
« Hey! She's not stupid, she's a good person! » Roger said defensively.
« She left you, didn't she? So there must be something wrong with her. » Roger's eyes lit at her statement but once again she missed it, too distracted by the brownie in her hand. He recovered quickly, turned to the coffee pot and brought it over to refill Rory's mug.
« She didn't do anything, we did. » he corrected after putting back the pot in its place. « It was a mutual decision. We didn't work and we were adult enough to accept it. »
« That's depressing. » Rory said somehow upset by his nonchalance.
« Maybe, but hey, c'est la vie. » he said with a sad smile and both women realized that he was not as unaffected by the situation that he let on.
« I 'm sorry. » Ariel said, her eyes so soft and caring that they burned holes in both his soul and heart and left a bittersweet feeling in his chest. « I shouldn't have brought it up. » she added apologetically, reaching for his smooth but strong hand and squeezing it friendly.
« It's ok. » he assured, his eyes glued to their joined hands. She smiled again and let go of his hand before taking a sip of her tea.
The three of them fell in a comfortable silence, like they often did, each reliving the event of the day, simply content to have someone who can make you forget about them if you wanted to.
« Nathalie called. » Rory informed Ariel after a little while. « She wanted to make sure we didn't forget to take our bus tickets for Hartford. »
« I know, she left a message on the answering machine at home as well. » Ariel said and they both laughed.
« She's so obsessed and organized. » Rory said with a gentle smile. « She kind of remind me of an old friend of mine. » she added, her thoughts wandering down memory lane and stopping at Chilton for just a second.
Ariel and Rory met five years ago when the former resident of Stars Hollow got a job as editor assistant at the New York times. Ariel was working there for a few months when Rory was hired and they quickly became friends. As much as she enjoyed working there, she still felt like something was missing. It was as if she wasn't doing what she was meant to do and that kept her from being completely happy with her New York life. It all happened so quickly that she had barely time to register what happened. She gradated from Yale, sent a résumé to the New York Times and a few weeks later she was moving to the Big Apple. Once she was there she realized that her job was not fulfilling as she had hoped it would be so she started thinking about what she could do to make it better. She made lists, she spent countless hours talking to the phone with different people (friends and family), she tried denial and for a while it actually worked but one email change it all. He had found the exact words. He knew exactly what to tell her to make it all better. Well not better, she was an adult now, she knew words couldn't do much in the working area but he gave her confidence, reassured her and reminded her what she was capable of. He knew her better than anyone after all, and it was his words not hers but it did not stop her from agreeing with him.
She wanted to use every aspect of her personality and not just the journalistic side of it. She thought about applying for another paper but the eventuality of leaving New York was unbearable. She had lived there for only a few months but the city took a big place in her heart. She loved everything about it. From the cussing taxi drivers to the fantastic view of the city she had from the roof of her building. New York was real. New York was life. New York was possibilities, millions of them. The whole city held a refreshing feeling of possibility within itself that sometimes she found herself trying to remember how to breathe. It literally took her breath away to know that the world did not only consist of the Crap shack, Luke's and her grand parents mansion. When she was walking down its streets, whether it was to go to Roger's coffee house or to her favorite bookstore, she felt like the world was opening its door to her and, if she waned to, she could do anything she wanted. In many ways, New York reminded her of her mother and that was probably why the mere thought of leaving the city left her with more insecurities than she had ever felt. Leaving was in no way conceivable.
On night, while reading for probably the sixtieth time Pride and Prejudice she got it. There was only one thing she liked more than reading books and it was talking about them. She remembered, nights when she was just a few years younger and that she would spend talking on the phone with him, talking about the last book they read or reread as it was often the case. She remember the safety of her bedroom where she would occasionally fall asleep while listening to his deep voice reading to her. She remembered their meetings on the bridge where, between two mind blowing make out sessions, they would argue before convincing the other one to try to give an author or a book another chance. She remembered the amount of book he had offered her during the short period of time they went out. She remembered the last few years and the emails they exchanged about his books. His books. How powerful were these two little words. Since The Subsect he had written four other books and each of them had been more successful than the one before. She could not count the number of times she had read them. It was as useless as trying to keep track of the number of cup of coffee Lorelai drank in a month.
She did not just love them, she cherished them.
A feeling of safety and calm had rushed over her while reading Mr. Darcy declaring in the most beautiful of ways his love for Elisabeth. It was that night that for the first time the idea of Literati came to her mind. She would create her own magazine. A magazine where literature and her love for it would be the main focus and could bring people together. She wanted to share her passion for words with the rest of the world. She had smiled that night thinking that as foolish and naïve as it might sound she wanted to be the one who brought back books in people's life. Her love for them was so gigantic that she would be able to inspire people to read more. She had not change that much. She was still the same old innocent and optimistic Rory, with dreams right behind her deep blue eyes.
She had shared the idea with her mother who was delighted that her own inclination for business had somehow rubbed on her daughter. Luke offered to help, even if it just meant providing her more coffee. Her grandparents tried to be supportive but were, of course, the first ones to mention the possible financial issues. Richard was far more enthusiastic than his wife, glad to think that Rory's passion for books had something to do with him. As for Jess, he had just wished her good luck and made her promise to send him the 1st issue as soon as it was out. Ariel was the one who really surprised her. Two weeks after Rory had left her job and began working on her new project, Ariel came home announcing that she wanted to be part of the adventure and that she had just finished her last review for the New York Times. She used to write for the literary section of the paper. Rory tried to dissuade her but when Ariel Tracy had her mind on something there were nothing you could do to change it.
For an entire year, they worked their asses off, days and nights, nights and days, trying to find an original concept, hiring qualified and trustworthy staff and finding financial support. At first Roy was reluctant to ask Richard and Emily but when Ariel suggested that her rich and really old Uncle Charlie was more than happy to help she went to her grand parent who, as per usual, were more than happy to participate as well.
It was clearly a huge challenge, taking more time and energy than Chilton and Yale put together but both women loved every single second of it. Finally, after thirteen months of waiting, brain storming, sleepless nights and forced diet, the first issue of Literati was out. Rory and Ariel run it together and formed the most eccentric yet perfect match. They both loved literature but their different tastes and perspectives on life brought a refreshing originality to the magazine. The first issue made quite a buzz in the literary scene and was acclaimed by the critics. Unfortunately, Rory's dreams and hopes of touching more people soon shattered. The Literati has its readers but most people were more interested in reading Cosmo or People magazine. Nonetheless, the two journalists did not give up. They kept on trying and trying, coming up with more original ways to attract people. The truth was, Rory and Ariel loved what they were doing so much that they would keep on doing it even if they had just one reader left. So here they were, two and a half years and 30 issues of Literati later, trying by all means to keep their heads out of the water.
The last piece who completed their odd trio was called Nathalie Jane Austen and contrarily to what her name might suggest, was a 25 years old math teacher and has been living with the two editors for two years now. She used to work with Roger as a waitress when he first opened the coffee house and was good friends with Rory and Ariel even before she moved in with them. Even though she was the youngest of the three- Ariel being the older with her 28 springs, Nat was the more responsible and organized of the trio. That was saying a lot, considering that one of her roommates was Rory 'little miss organization' Gilmore. While Rory and Ariel were always too busy or stressed to keep some order in the apartment, Nat always seemed ready to help and clean each of their messes. In addition to her job, her friends, her family who lived in Colorado, her students and her social life, she also found the time to get engaged with male nurse from the Queens named Elijah. Some would think that preparing a wedding and keeping their life going at the same time while staying perfectly sane was simply impossible, well those people never met Nathalie Austen. She seemed to have a magic secret to remain fresh and perfectly happy. She reminded Rory a lot of Paris, except that you did not have to do something for her in exchange of one of her dazzling smile. Rory and Ariel often joked that Nat was the dream mother or the one they never had. Thankfully, Lorelai never heard that joke.
« She's already in Colorado? » Roger asked.
« They arrived this afternoon. Poor Elijah, his very first Christmas without his mama. » Ariel said chuckling.
« And when are you guys leaving? » Roger asked again.
« Tomorrow morning. God, it's been so long since I put a foot in Stars Hollow. » Rory said with a sigh.
«I missed Lorelai. Sometimes I feel like she's the only who truly understands me. » Ariel said dramatically.
« That's because you're both insane. » Rory said matter of factly.
« You're one to talk. » Ariel replied with a not very feminine snort and Rory laughed. « Anyway, I can't wait to be there. We sure as hell need a break. » she said with a scowl as if she was angry with the world for not being able to go on holiday for so long and Rory nodded in agreement.
« Who will be in charge of the magazine while you're gone? »
« We will, with a little help from Matthew of course. He's been doing most of the editing lately anyway. Plus the latest issue got out Wednesday so we still have 30 days before the next one. » Rory explained. « Stars hollow is only a few hours away and if something happens Matthew knows how to join us. »
« First Christmas holiday in three years, I can't believe it. » Ariel said in awe.
« I can! » Rory said dejectedly. « I wished we could have been here for mini you's return. » she said to Roger with a pout.
« It's ok, he'll still be there in ten days. » he assured with a smile.
« Oh, I almost forgot! » Ariel exclaimed. « A certain Jess left a message on our answering machine. » she said with a sly smile and Rory's head shot up to look at her.
« Huh. » was all she could manage say. He usually did not call, he sent e mails, sometimes a letter but he never used the phone, not to communicate with her anyway.
« Jess? Who's Jess? » Roger asked, crossing his arms over his chest and smirking.
« No one. » Rory said too quickly and Ariel snorted. « What? He's just an old friend. »
« Doesn't seem like it. » Roger said.
« Well he is. We haven't even seen each other for 2 years. He's just Luke's nephew. There's nothing to write a novel about. » she said averting her eyes at the little white lie she just said. The truth was there was enough to write a novel about and he actually did. His third book, Choking on stars, was one of the darkest and faddish love affair she had ever read but in all its darkness it was a beautiful story and her favorite of his books. His books. Here were these words again, accompanied by a throng of undefined feelings.
« Anyway he said to call him back. » Ariel said with a smirk. « He's very succinct. »
« Yeah, he is. » Rory said, not really paying attention. Jess called. Her mind had stop functioning rationally after registering that piece of information.
A/N: well that must be the longest 1st chapter I've ever written. I'm sorry if it bored you to death but I had put every character in situation before really beginning the story. I hope you liked it anyway, and I'm really counting on your reviews. Thanks for reading J.