Disclaimer: If i did own them, I would have done everything in my power to keep Milo on the show, and trust he would have stayed.
A/N: sorry it took me so long. Hope you haven't forgotten me or this story. Enjoy this chapter and let me know what you thought of it, please.
Chapter seven: Surprise guests.
A few seconds of complete silence passed before anyone moved or talked. It was not just the fact that Jeremy was there, all smiles and shortness, that surprised the group; it was more a question of how he got there. All eyes were turned on the boy and after a full minute of silent staring he became self conscious. Rory, who was trying as hard as possible to not smile at Ariel's dumbfounded expression, eventually stood up and came to his rescue.
"Hi handsome," she grinned as she reached down for a hug.
"Hi," came his muffled reply from her shoulder. "It's been too long," he whispered.
"It has been," she agreed when she finally let go of him. "You look good," she smiled, putting a hand on his small chest. He smiled cheekily, his eyes shining with innocence, then he took a deep breath, showing off his new purple button-down shirt.
"Thanks, you look gorgeous."
"Making a girl blush, you really are Roger's son," she smiled and he laughed. Rory turned her attention back to her family and friends who were all still waiting for some kind of explanation.
"This is the part where you explain yourself, young man," Luke said with a stern look and Lorelai giggled, rubbing her stomach. "What?" her husband glared at her.
"Nothing," she said quickly, adopting a straight face again.
"Where are your parents?" Emily asked, one of her brows raised so high on her forehead that it was not visible anymore. She did not even give Jeremy time to reply before carrying on. "Really, you're clearly too young to be wandering around unsupervised." Jess did not suppress the huge need to roll his eyes.
"What does she think is gonna happen?" Liz whispered to her husband who shrugged.
"Where is Roger?" Lorelai quipped.
"I'm right here," Roger said, finally appearing in the doorway. He smiled broadly and waved at the group of people. Lorelai smirked at the mortified look her mother was displaying.
"What are you doing here?" Ariel spoke for the first time, her eyes unreadable.
"Hello to you too," Roger dodged her question with light sarcasm. Ariel grinned then and Rory sighed, relieved. The little exchange made her and Jess glance at each other. She dropped her head, trying unsuccessfully to hide a blush and a smile while he watched her, making sure his smirk did not turn into a smile.
"Come on, take a seat. You must be starving," Sookie gestured above the table. Roger flashed her one of his dazzling smiles to which she giggled with an affectionate roll of her eyes.
"Still as charming as ever, huh?" Lorelai teased when he greeted her with a hug.
"It's a gift," he shrugged and faced Luke to great him.
"You're letting your ten year old son wander around alone," Luke glared when Roger offered him his hand to shake. Once again Lorelai giggled, but this time, neither man paid attention. Roger leaned over.
"You just sounded like your mother-in-law," he whispered with mirth dancing in his eyes and laughed along with Lorelai when Luke made a disgusted face.
"You're evil," Luke glared, "and an awful father."
"It's Stars Hollow, Luke. There's not much that could happen here," Roger rolled his eyes.
"You'd be surprised," Luke remarked warily and all eyes turned to Jess who smirked. Luke finally shook Roger's hand and the Laffertys took places at each of Ariel's sides after exchanging bone-breaking hugs.
"You look nice," he said tryingly with a grin and she blushed slightly.
"Thank you, you don't look bad yourself," she smiled. "How are you doing champ?" she said, turning her attention to Jeremy.
"Great," he smiled cheekily and she returned the gesture.
Food was soon passed around the table and for a few moments only the sound of clatter could be heard. Eventually, the new guests ceased to be the center of attention and casual conversation started up.
Only one person was too busy to eat.
"Mother, stop staring, it's impolite." Lorelai said, glaring harshly at Emily who was looking intently at Roger.
"I am not staring," the elder Gilmore objected.
"Looking at someone for more than ten seconds if you're not talking to or with them with that expression on your face," Lorelai said pointing at her mother's face, "is called staring," She finished with an exaggerated roll of her eyes.
"I was just curious, that's all."
"About who this man is. He didn't even introduce himself."
"That's because he didn't need to; we all know him, Mom."
"Well, I don't." There had been a time when Jess would have said something along the lines of "Neither do I". Right at that moment, he almost did, but he caught himself because that would have meant taking Emily 'Godzilla' Gilmore's side and that was absolutely out of the question. So he just kept watching the dispute while savoring the fact that he had won his bet against Lorelai.
"Yes, you do, Mother."
"No, Lorelai, I don't."
"You do too!"
"This is ridiculous! I think I know better than you do who my acquaintances are," Emily snapped irritated and Lorelai glared at her. She was about to reply when Roger finally decided to speak. He would have done sooner, but he had heard too many scary stories about Emily Gilmore. He knew better than to offend her, plus he was really enjoying watching the two women bicker.
"I'm sorry," he spoke up before standing up and going to stand between Richard and his wife. Instead of talking directly to them, he addressed the rest of the group. "Hi everyone, I'm Roger Lafferty and that's my son Jeremy," he said pointing at him. The boy smiled over a mouthful, waved enthusiastically and Doula giggled. "For those of you who don't know or don't remember me," he finally glanced down at Emily with a pointed look and what could be considered as a forgiving smirk, "I own a coffee house in New York which is one of the reasons, possibly the only one, why Ariel and Rory befriended me five years ago," he finished his sentence smiling affectionately at his two female friends.
"Emily, we met this gentleman three years ago, at Rory's birthday party in New York," Richard jogged his wife's memory who was suddenly averting her eyes.
"Yeah, I seem to remember that and every one of Rory's birthday since then," Roger said, his voice dripping with light sarcasm. The whole table laughed wholeheartedly and Roger went back to his seat.
"That was worth my whole trip," Jess whispered to Rory who was sitting next to him. She swatted his thigh under the table.
"You're awful," she tried to reprimand him, but she had a hard time hiding her amused smile.
"Hey, I'm not the one harassing guests."
"No, but you're enjoying this a little too much."
"I dare you to tell me you're not," he threw her a smug look and she found it even more difficult to resist those chocolate eyes of his. "Tell me you didn't miss watching these two argue over manners," he added, nodding his head toward Emily and Lorelai who were still arguing while their husbands shared amused looks.
"Whether I missed it or not is not the point. They shouldn't be doing it tonight on such an occasion and you should disapprove as well," she said throwing him back his smug look.
"I'm sorry, I think you're confusing me with someone else. I'm Jess Mariano, I'm the one who used to play pranks around town just because I enjoy watching other people's distress," he said smirking and offering her his hand to shake. She swatted it away with an annoyed look and his smirk widened.
"I'm sorry, I thought you'd matured. My bad."
"Never," he shook his head and she smiled, almost against her own will. "Plus, your mom just gave me the green light to be as annoying and unpleasant as I wish to be," he added taking a sip of his water.
"What are you talking about now?"
"This morning, the deal we made in your kitchen..." he reminded her and she nodded, smiling a little.
"You're loving this, aren't you?"
"You have no idea," he grinned wickedly and she could no longer hold her laughter.
"You're an awful, awful person."
"So I've been told," he shrugged before they shared a smile.
Their light banter was interrupted by Lorelai's angry voice.
"He was expected, Mom! Just because you didn't know he was coming, doesn't mean we all didn't!"
"And why exactly didn't I know about it?"
"Oh my god!" Lorelai cried, throwing her head back and closing her eyes tightly, trying to block out her mother.
"Oh, Lorelai, really. Stop acting like a child. I'm just saying-" Emily began but was interrupted by her granddaughter.
"Grandma, I'm sorry. This is my doing, not Mom's. She didn't even know Roger was coming until this afternoon. In fact I just invited him this morning," Rory explained with a tight smile. From the corner of her eyes, she saw Ariel's head shot up. She would have some explaining to do later. "Beside, I don't see where the problem is. Roger is a really good friend of mine and he's more than welcome here, expected or not," Rory added pointedly and she saw her mother grin proudly at her.
"I never said otherwise," Emily replied defensively.
"Of course, you didn't," Rory smiled and Jess snickered.
"It sure seemed like it anyway," Lorelai mumbled and Luke took her hand in his to soothe her. Emily decided for once, that it was best to drop the subject.
Despite what just occurred, the mood around the table was pleasant, full of smiles and laughter. Sookie, Luke and Liz were complimented for their hard and delicious work and conversations never ceased. Kwan, Steve, Doula and Jeremy were animatedly talking about some cartoon they saw that morning on TV. Rory, Jess, Lane and Zach were telling high school stories to Roger and Ariel who were both eager to know more about Rory as a teenager and the kind of life she used to have in Stars Hollow.
April was talking about the weather in New Mexico to Luke and Lorelai. Liz, T.J, Sookie and Jackson were gossiping about the latest Stars Hollow news while Richard, Paris and Doyle were speculating on the best candidate for congress this year. Emily who was still fuming over what happened, concentrated her attention on her meal, which she knew would not disappoint her.
"Destroyed?" Roger laughed heartedly.
"Smashed would be a better word," Lane giggled while Ariel snickered.
"I really have no recollection of such an event," Jess frowned, trying to fight a grin.
"Taylor investigated for weeks, but he found no clue as to who the vandal was," Rory shook her head in mock disappointment.
"Apparently he left no traces," Lane continued willing her breathing to calm down.
"Must have been one stealthy vandal," Roger smirked.
"That didn't stop Taylor from harassing my ass for weeks," Jess scowled at the memory.
"Jess, watch your mouth," Liz warned from across the table causing her son to roll his eyes.
"With good reasons," Zach carried on as if there had been no interruption. "Kwan, the fork is for eating not trying to blind your brother," he then reprimanded his son who was holding his fork a little too closely to his brother's eye.
"He's being mean," Kwan protested. "He said I looked like bald, post first rehab, Britney Spears!"
"Steve!" both parent cried disgustedly. "Apologize, right now," they ordered at the same time.
"I will not, he just tried to pierce one of my eye with an unclean fork," Steve defended outraged. The adults snickered while Lane sighed.
"What?" the twins exclaimed horrified.
"You heard me, one more word and it'll be for an entire week," she pointed a menacing finger to her sons who turned back to their plates dejectedly.
"Mama would be so proud you," Zach laughed leaning and kissing her cheek.
"Doubt it, but thanks," she smiled at her husband.
"Makes you want to run for the hills," Jess said with sarcasm.
"Oh shut up, they're cute," Rory laughed.
"I think you guys are adorable," Ariel said to Lane and Zach with a soft smile.
"That's because you don't live with us, we barely stand each other most of the time," Lane waved her hand.
"Hey!" Zach protested playfully. She laughed and he could not resist the urge to kiss her.
"We're eating," Jess remarked dryly and for the second time of the evening Rory swatted his thigh.
"If you keep that up, I won't be held responsible for what might happen to you or any of your property," Jess warned with a stern look.
"Roger, hold me, I'm scared!"
"That's it, Rand is going down!"
"You wouldn't dare!" Rory gasped, eyes wide open.
"You really don't remember me, do you? I'm capable of anything," he said with a smirk, his eyes sparkling.
"Oh believe me, I remember," and it was her turn to roll her eyes playfully. They kept glancing at each other for a while, both trying to hold back their smiles.
Rory could not believe how easy it all was. She really was having a blast. It was true what they say, simple moments are always the happiest. She was having dinner with all the people she loved, enjoying herself more than she had in a while. Even her mother and grandmother bickering was fun. It reminded her of better and simpler times, where all she had to worry about was which book she would choose for the bus ride to school and which sweater Jess would like the most. At that thought she chocked on her food and coughed lightly.
"You ok?" he asked while she took a sip of water, trying to ignore the hint of concern she heard in his voice.
"Fine," she smiled and quickly averted her eyes from his.
She could not believe that while thinking of better and simpler times, Jess came to her mind. That was as ridiculous as Jess singing along to Prince's 'Kiss'... here he was again, in her thoughts. Even when she was trying to make light of a situation, she used him to make a stupid analogy. What was wrong with her? She dared a quick glance at him. He was listening to Roger who was now talking to him about the Killers concert he had been to a few weeks ago while Ariel mocked him lightly.
She studied his well defined profile, the slight smirk playing at his thin and soft lips and smiled at the fact that he was genuinely interested in what her friends were saying. He was even participating in the conversation.
Was she really seeing him in a new light or was she just imagining things?
Ok, that was the scariest thought she had in the last two minutes and that was saying something.
She was looking at him. He knew it without even turning his gaze from Roger. She was trying to be subtle about it, but he never failed to notice when somebody's eyes were on him, especially when it was hers.
He hated to admit it, but this dinner was not going as badly as he thought it would. Ok, maybe, just maybe, it was not bad at all. While getting ready for this evening, he tried not to think about what it would be like to be around her and the people who loved her the most. He was not prepared to what this event would make him feel. Somehow, he realized while looking at her, he had not been as apprehensive as he should have been. Sure, this was still Stars Hollow, these were still mostly her friends and her family, but he had been strangely cool about the situation. Some might say that he always projected this kind of unattached and unaffected image, but he knew that it was not true. When it came to her, it had always been harder to be cool about, well, anything really.
He had a hard time believing in second chances, even if he was given a few, because he did not think that the past could be erased that easily, especially his past. Then again, it had never been easy. Coming here was not an easy decision to make and while driving here he almost turned back several times. Somewhere in the back of his mind though he wished it would have been a little harder to stay. He wouldn't say it out loud just yet, but it felt good to be able to relax, spend some time with his dysfunctional family and being watched by Rory. He guessed it was what home must feel like.
She was as beautiful, smart, funny and insane as ever and he felt a tug at his heart he would later relate to nostalgia or alcohol even though he had yet to drink any.
Denial. Was not that a river in Egypt? Well, apparently both Rory and Jess liked to take a swim there from time to time, especially when they were faced with each other.
A/N: so you liked it? I know it was somewhat a filler but I still hope you enjoyed it.
Thanks to Asa once again, you make my days brighter,