Disclaimer : Yeah right, I own it. Just like I own the sky and Milo's cell phone number. Dream on…
A/N: I'd like to thank you all for all the review, I'm really thrilled. I'm also very sorry that it took so long for me to update, I've been having some weird writing block over this one. Anyhow, please enjoy and don't forget to leave a review in the end, thanks.
This one is all for Hallon who is the bestest lol. Thank you so much for being such a great beta, you rock :D.
Chapter two: Bond.
The funeral; I still can't grasp the fact that it actually happened, that I was there, watching as my two best friends were forever buried in the ground. It's still surreal, and yet it's been two weeks. I don't want to think about it, but I can't help it; that day keeps coming back to my mind, haunting me. Oh, how I wish these last couple of weeks were another fiction I'm so willing to lose myself into. It's not. Damn reality and its irony. I had to remain still while witnessing the most horrible event in my life. If that's what life is all about then please, spare me.
I remember sitting next to Rory Gilmore, her eyes puffy and red, while she held Sam and how I felt more connected to her than I ever felt before. We never really got to know each other through the years, though we've known each other for a long time. But now we've finally found something more than made-up family bonds to connect us. She hadn't known either Matt or Jill for nearly as long as I have, yet she was as devastated as me. I just wish our new found connection hadn't been so depressing.
The first time I saw Rory Gilmore I was nine. It was also the first time I ever sat foot in the weird town of Stars Hollow, when, for a change, my parents and I went to visit Luke for Christmas. Usually, he was the one making the trip to New York, but that year mom thought it'd be nice if I visited the town she grew up in. I never admitted it to her, but it wasn't half bad. From the moment I stepped out of the car, I knew there was something about this town and I knew from the smirk playing on my father's lips that he shared my opinion on the matter. It took me less than two minutes to realize what this town evoked in me; weirdness. I still remember accurately the insanity transpiring from the whole town and its small population. The Gilmore girls were no exception and were in fact proud of proclaiming and promoting their own craziness.
I think the first time I ever scowled was when I saw eight year old Rory gulping down a cup of sugarless coffee as if it were apple juice. When I entered the diner for the first time, she was sitting at the counter, next to Lorelai who, as per usual, was annoying Luke. Something, I would learn later to be a daily routine for them. Mom introduced her small family to the Gilmores and Lorelai and she immediately clicked. Liz Mariano and Lorelai Gilmore are not hard to like. Rory flopped off her seat and came to stand in front of me with a shy smile playing on her lips. She introduced herself and when I mumbled my name she went back to her mother, satisfied.
When we were both twelve, Luke and Lorelai got married, which consequently brought us to spend every major family event that followed together. I'm not a very talkative person and people usually take that as a sign that I want to be left alone. I'm often taken for an arrogant person and it never surprises me, prejudices are always wrong; Jane Austen said it better than me. Nobody really understands why I'm like this. I'm certainly not like my parents who both are very sociable persons. Dad's a chef and owns one of the most frequented restaurant of Manhattan; Jimmy's. With all his knowledge and originality, leave it to my father to name his restaurant after himself. Mom once told me it was because she didn't let him name me after him. Thank God for small favors, I'd probably have tried to kill myself at least a thousand times if I grew up being referred to as Junior.
My mom is a precious jewel designer and owns a jewelry store just two blocks away from Jimmy's. Yup, my parents are pretty inseparable and have been for the last thirty years. When they met neither of them was as successful as they are now and my dad likes to say that it's their talent combined with their social skills that led them to where they are now; two of the most known and appreciated people in New York. Being their child I should have inherited some of those skills. Well I didn't and to be completely honest, I'm pretty fine about it. My parents enjoy the spotlight and being the centre of attention, and I truly believe they deserve it, but as far as I'm concerned, the more off center I am the better.
Without ever uttering a word about it, I think Rory understood me, and unlike many people throughout my life, she never tried to create any deeper kind of relationship with me. It was easy, we lived in two different cities, we barely saw each other, we had our own lives and even though we are cousins-in-law we rarely speak to each other. Until my sophomore year in college, she was just Lorelai's daughter, Ivy league student, pretty and smart girl coming from an insane little town with a weird name in Connecticut who wanted to be a journalist and read as much as I did. No hard feelings or anything, we just never got the chance to establish a more important bond.
Today, though, I really wish we did. Things would be easier if we had tried to.
Matt and Jill died two weeks ago – God, I never thought I'd ever hear myself say that, but that's all I've been saying lately - and New York never felt smaller to me. Everywhere I go, I'm reminded. Reminded of them, of our friendship, of how it all went to hell. My life is a walk down damn memory lane these days. It's a scary feeling knowing that no matter how big this city is, I can't escape their memory. Not that I'd want to forget them, I can't let go of such a big part of my life, and I wouldn't want to. I just wish sleep could come more easily now and I wish my cell phone wasn't such a burden anymore. Since that day, every time the damn thing rings, I jump out of my skin. Me! Jess Mariano, Mister Unaffected. I never falter, ever. At least, that's what I used to think. After the funeral, Rory admitted in a bitter whisper that she wished she wasn't home when I called to break the news to her. I replied that I wish I wasn't either when Officer Parkman called me.
I used to take comfort in the fact that Matt always considered me and Jill his only family. That day, I egoistically wished he wasn't an orphan. If he hadn't been, I wouldn't have been the one the police contacted. Who'd have thought that one day I'd despise the unbreakable bond Matt, Jill and I shared.
He was my best friend since kindergarten. He was the first person I ever felt connected to beside my family and since then we were inseparable. My parents, who were worried about my lack of interest in other people, took Matt as a blessing. A Godsend. We were as different as day and night and we often wondered how we could even be friends. His parents died in a raging fire when he was five and he was constantly going from one foster family to another, but he was far more open and bright than I ever was. He never complained, no matter how many times life has given him reason to; it always amazed me. He taught me humility and when things were screwed up in my always fine and oh so uneventful pathetic life he was the one who made me look at the bright side. When I was packing their stuff the other day, I came across a t-shirt "The Bright Side of Life Is Always Underestimated". It's one of the few I brought back to my apartment.
I make him seem like he was on Prozac or something, but he wasn't; he was just a tad more optimistic than me, or the rest of us for that matter. Despite my well practiced blasé attitude, I always admired that aspect of his personality.
He also was a little neurotic, but in the funny sense of the term. He used to worry about the stupidest things. Like when we lived together in our college years, he'd be obsessing about who'd program the coffee pot before going to bed. It was always amusing seeing him yell at me, turning the darkest shade of red when I'd purposefully forget to do it. He wasn't a caffeine addict, but he needed that first cup.
He has always given a lot of thought about his future and worked hard to achieve his goals, whereas I always lived one day at a time. I guess his attitude kind of rubbed off on me because I went to College and got a diploma like he did.
My parents offered him a Rolex watch the day I applied for N.Y.U.
And then there was Jill. Jillian Anderson, long curly blond hair, soft brown eyes, angelic face, former tomboy who grew up to be the most delicate woman ever. Strong personality, matched us wit for wit, smart and the best female friend either of us ever had. We met in junior high when her family moved to my neighborhood. I never experienced love at first sight and if I hadn't grown up with those two I'd never have thought it existed, but Matt and Jill fell for each other as soon as they laid eyes on each other. Their story is worth one of those flicks girls are so fond of. They only started dating in college though, and waited to get married until they were both finished.
Rory played a big part in their relationship. Jill and she met at Harvard, where they both studied journalism (I know, it's freaky how small this world is.) while Matt and I majored in English at N.Y.U. We were both a year older than the two girls who quickly became close friends. They roomed together from their sophomore year until Matt and Jill moved in together after Jill's graduation.
Rory was also the one who initiated the talk about the two of them getting together. I used to tease them about their "friendship" all the time when we were younger, but when Jill started college their dance became kind of annoying. It was so obvious even Luke saw it when they came to spent Christmas with my parents and me in Stars Hollow. Despite all his assurance, Matt was never good with love and it scared him to death to lose her friendship. She was one of the rare people he really cared about; he couldn't spoil everything because he felt attracted to her. Yeah I know… he was stupid. Men tend to be once in a while.
And finally, Rory was the one who pushed a very frustrated Jill into making the first step. That was another memorable episode. Matt and I were having lunch in the campus cafeteria when she approached our table. It was in the middle of the week and she was supposed to be in Boston. I guess love really is a strong motivator. Without a word, she grabbed the collar of his shirt and literally lifted him off his seat before crashing her lips to his. Man, I'll never forget the blissful and goofy smile that appeared on his face when she finally let go of him. He gave me weeks of mocking material.
Even though we were friends with the same people, Rory and I didn't get much closer. We would spend time together, but our relationship was still shallow. We would talk about books, music and movies, but it was never profound or long. Come to think of it, it is kind of weird. After all, we like the same things, we were in a way family and we were best friend with the same people. I guess there are things in life no one can understand.
A few years later Matt and Jill were married and getting ready to welcome Samantha Erica Scott. I think I've never seen them as happy as the day Jill's test turned blue. A few weeks before Sam was born, the couple invited Rory and me to dinner.
"Hi handsome," Jill greets me when she opens the door. She leans over and kisses my cheek before hugging me.
"Hey gorgeous," I smirk and she smiles as we let go of each other.
"Fawner," She waves her hand as we head to the living room of their Manhattan apartment.
"He's always been," Matt says, smirking at me from his position on the red leather couch (Jill's acquisition).
"Part of my charm," I smirk back as I sit down in a black leather armchair opposite of the couch, while she goes to sit next to him. She leans her head on his shoulder and he plants a kiss on the side of her head.
"You let your 8 months pregnant wife answer the door while you veg on the couch, that's horrible," I mock horror. "How can you put up with this?" I ask Jill with a disgusted look.
"He's a good lay," She smirks and we all laugh. "I was up," She adds as an explanation and looks up at him before pecking his lips.
"You guys are sickening."
"You're just jealous," Matt says.
"Am not," I glare at him, knowing what is about to come out from his wife's mouth.
"You're 27, almost 28, Jess; I think it's time you find yourself a serious girl," she smiles, amused by the look of exasperation I give her.
"Jeez, you just sounded like my mother," I growl.
"Well, Liz is right," Matt says grinning. He's getting a kick out of all this.
"Very mature, Mariano," Jill rolls her eyes.
"Leave me alone, Anderson," I reply and she laughs.
"It's Scott now. It's been for quite a while actually."
"You'll always be Anderson for me," I say with a smirk and she smiles softly.
"That I will," she says and I smile one of my rare genuine smiles.
"Get your own girl," Matt says, putting a protective arm around her shoulders and she laughs.
"Territorial, aren't we?" I tease him and he glares.
"Ok boys, stop. It's not even funny anymore, after all these years," she says with another roll of her eyes and we laugh.
"For your information, I've been dating someone."
"I wouldn't qualify that Cindy as a 'someone'."
"I think the right term would be slut." Matt smirks.
"And what you two are doing isn't called 'dating'," she finger quotes.
"Hey! I resent that!" I say, pointing a finger at them, but unable to hide a small smile.
"Jess what is wrong with you?"
"So many things," Matt interjects and we both glare at him.
"Aren't we supposed to have dinner?" I ask, scowling now.
"We're waiting for Rory," Jill says.
"Why isn't she here yet?"
"You're avoiding the subject," Matt remarks.
"Huh, not as shallow as he looks like," I say dryly and Matt laughs.
"You're infuriating," Jill says, rubbing her huge stomach.
"So I've been told." I smirk.
"You still need to find someone," she says pointing a finger at me.
"I think the aging process stopped at 14 years old for him," she points looking up at her husbands who chuckles.
"Nah, he's just stubborn."
"I'll find someone. Don't worry, mom," I say rolling my eyes.
"I hope so; we can't keep on feeding you. Someone has to take care of you Jesse," she says and despite my irritation, I laugh.
"When the time's right," I say softly and she nods.
At that moment, the door bell rings. We look at each other and I take pity on them; they look so cozy. I get up and go to the door.
"Hi." I smile at Rory who returns the gesture.
"Hi back," she says, stepping through the threshold. She leans over to peck my cheek. I haven't seen her in at least two months. I smile and we join the couple who gets up to great her.
"So what's up?" Rory asks, sitting down next to Jill.
"Nothing, we were just trying to find a girl for Jess," Matt says nonchalantly and I have to restrain myself from groaning. She notices my irritation and smiles.
"I see. Any luck?"
"I think it's a lost battle," Jill deadpans.
"I think I've never been more annoyed in my life than I am now," I say, rolling my eyes and they laugh at me.
"Poor baby," Jill pouts.
"It's easy for you to talk; you guys have loved each other all your lives."
"You say it like it's a bad thing," Jill scowls and I smile because I'm one of the few who can get these kinds of reactions out of her.
"Not at all, I'm just saying that it was easy for you. For us pathetic mortals, it's far more difficult to find someone to share your life with," I say leaning back against my armchair.
"Amen," Rory says and I look at her.
"Do not take his side," Jill orders, swatting her thigh lightly.
"I'm not taking sides, I just know where he's coming from."
"Thank you," I say with a grin, wriggling my eyebrows at the couple.
"Oh please, Rory is way too pretty and smart to stay alone, she'll find someone. You, my friend, need help," Matt points and I see Rory blush from the corner of my eye.
"Who's the fawner now? Making girls blush; I thought it was my job," I smirk and he laughs.
"You're too full of yourself."
"With friends like you I think I'm allowed to."
"Shut up, you'd be lost without us," Jill says smiling cheekily.
"Back to monosyllabic man, he's a lost cause," Jill deadpans and Rory laughs.
"Is there a purpose to this excruciating evening?" I ask, scowling again.
"I think he's irritated," Matt remarks.
"Like he has anything better to do," his wife shoots me a smug smile.
"He could be doing dirty stuff with slutty Cindy," he smirks and I throw my hands up in exasperation.
"I'm leaving!" I say getting up and they all laugh.
"Keep your skinny ass on that seat, Mister! We have something important to talk to you about," Jill says, suddenly more serious and I do as I'm told.
"Right, you said that on the phone," Rory says, still amused at the exchange she just witnessed. The chances that the four of us would gather were pretty rare and even though she's seen our interaction many times, it always amuses her to see how we treat each other.
Matt and Jill grin at each other while he takes her hand in his.
"Sickening," I repeat and Rory giggles softly beside them. I smirk and we look at each other.
"Guys?" Rory tries to catch their attention. They eventually avert their eyes from each other and turn back to us.
"We want you to be the godparents," Jill says with a soft smile, tears gathering in her eyes.
"We want our daughter to have the best godparents and we really believe you two would be perfect," Matt explains after kissing his wife's forehead. They look at us expectantly with nervous smiles. I glance at Rory and she's looking at me blankly. She didn't see this coming either. I turn my attention back to my best friends and I clear my throat before speaking.
"Are you crazy?" I ask my eyebrow raised high.
"Are you sure?" Rory reformulates my questions with a small smile.
"We've never been surer of anything. So…what do you think?" Jill asks.
Rory looks at me, a smile spreading over her face and I can't help but reciprocate the gesture.
"I'd love to be Sam's godmother," she says with a grin and I witness as her eyes tear up.
"Really?" Jill squeals and Rory nods fervently. They both get up and embrace each other. Tears pour down their cheeks and they giggle happily.
I look at Matt who's smiling like a fool at the pair of women. He turns to look at me and I realize that there's no doubt, I have to do this. In fact, I'd have been disappointed if they haven't have asked.
"Ok." I simply say and his smile turned into a full grin.
That was 20 months ago. Sam was born in the beginning of spring, April 14th 2011. The first time I took her in my arms I felt like my heart was bursting with hundreds of different emotions. She was so tiny, so innocent, so pure, and so beautiful that I had to fight back tears when I realized that she'd always be in my life. Rory was standing next to me, her cheeks soaked with happy tears and her beautiful blue eyes were reflecting the same display of emotions. She smiled warmly at me and I couldn't help but smile back. Never in a million years I'd have imagined that 20 months later that I'd have to help organize the funeral of Sam's parents.
The few days that followed the accident, before the funeral, are a blur of tears, screams and emotional rollercoasters. I would go from being angry to enraged to unbelievably sad and lonely before getting completely numb where the only information crossing my mind was that my two best friends died in a fucking car accident, hit by a stupid drunk-ass who was driving way faster than he should have been. And now it's over, they're buried, and it still doesn't feel any easier.
After the funeral George and Mary, Jill's parents, took Sam with them. They'd be taking care of her until we had further instructions. I don't know what to think of it, but apparently Jill and Matt had left a will. Jill's parents, Rory and I have an appointment with their lawyer tomorrow to read it. I shouldn't be surprised, really. Matt was always the most prepared person I've ever known. The fact that he made a will is just one example among million others of his personality.
Now I'm seated, or more accurately spread across the coach in my apartment. An old Clash CD is playing in the background and I will my mind to focus on the lyrics rather than on my morbid thoughts. The track changes for the tenth time and 'Should I stay or should I go' starts playing. I smile sadly at myself; it was one of Matt's favorites. Focus on the lyrics my ass! Everything reminds me of them and suddenly I miss Sam. I haven't seen her since the funeral two weeks ago and it feels like too long. I feel guilty for being afraid to face Jill's parents. I called them a couple of times, but I couldn't bear the sadness in Mary's voice.
My parents have come to visit me at least fifteen times and although I appreciate their support, their sympathy is too much for me to handle. There is also a sadness in their eyes that reflects mine and Jill's parents', and that just reminds me of how much life sucks. I tried to make them stop coming, but they're my parents and no matter how hard I try to deny it, their presence is comforting. The phone rings and startles me out my pathetic thoughts. I look over at the machine, considering the possibility of just letting it ring, but I decide to pick it up none the less. I have to stop being afraid of the damn thing.
"What?" I grumble.
"Hey," Rory sighs in the phone. I sit up straighter and hold the phone a little tighter.
"Hey," I repeat more softly.
"How are you?" she asks and I can almost picture her wincing at the stupidity of her own question. "Sorry," she sighs deeply. "Stupid question."
"S'okay," I wave off, despite the lingering bitterness in my chest. Silence embraces us, but for some reason neither of us want to break it.
"I miss them," she whispers after what feels like an eternity and I close my eyes, trying to hold back tears I didn't know were there.
"I know," I whisper and I'm surprised at the tone of my voice. "I miss them too."
"Will it ever get better?" she asks sniffing.
"I don't know. I hope so; that's what people keep telling me anyway."
"Me too, but I'm having a hard time believing them."
"Same here," I say, leaning back against the couch. In spite of the bitter tone conversation, I feel my whole body relax at the sound of her broken voice.
"I saw Sam today," she says after a little while. My mouth instantly goes dry and I have a hard time catching my breath. Guilt. I hate it.
"How is she?" I manage to ask.
"She's good. She asked about you."
"Really?" I can't help but smile a little.
"Really. She kept babbling about 'her Jesse'. She's so cute." She smiles in the phone, I can hear it.
"Are Mary and George bringing her tomorrow?"
"Yeah, it's the procedure. The whole family has to be there," she tells me before silence falls between us again. "I don't want to go," she admits, barely above a whisper.
"Me neither," I reply, not needing an explanation as to why she feels this way. Tomorrow is just going to make things - their death - official. Another reminder. I really don't need it. "We have to though," I add.
"I know," she says softly.
"It's going to be okay," I lie in an attempt to comfort her.
"No, it's not, but thanks for trying," she says and I smirk sadly.
"I'll see you tomorrow then."
"10 A.M," she confirms and I nod. "Thanks, Jess. It was nice talking to you," she says softly and I have to smile at her genuineness.
"Welcome. Good night Rory."
And with that the line goes dead. I sigh and get off the couch to get ready for another sleepless night.
A/N: I'm leaving for a two months vacation on Saturday so this will certainly be my last update before September. Please don't forget me until then. I hope you liked this chapter (Hallon, thank you again). Please leave a review, they are beautiful.