Disclaimer: I don't own "Gilmore Girls," but that will all change once my mind-control device is complete.
PLEASE BE SURE TO READ THE A/N AT THE END OF THIS CHAPTER!
"I'm in love with you."
Lorelai's eyes went wide and attentive and she teetered a bit before finding her balance. She opened her mouth and, unable to think of anything else, stammered, "Ar-are you sure?"
Luke chuckled at this, but his face still held a frightening seriousness, "Completely. I think I've been in love with you for a while."
"You think you have?"
He shrugged slightly, "What's that expression you use? The one about denial?"
"It ain't just a river," she recited on automation, her eyes still searching his, making sure he meant what he was saying. "Luke, you really love me?" He nodded. "Luke, I-I'm n--"
Luke cut her off. "Lorelai," he said softly, sincerely, "You don't have to say it back. I know that this is the beginning of the relationship, and you can't possibly know something like that right off the bat. Its just something I've been feeling, and I needed to tell you. But you take your time, okay? Because I'm gonna be around for a long time."
Lorelai smiled, relieved, and nodded, "You'd better be." Then she jerked on his arms, urging him to come closer to her. He complied, draping his arms around her waist and pulling her to him, kissing her with a softness that was soon replaced by her own forceful desire. She put both of her hands flat against his back and pressed herself against him, kissing him so hard that she could feel the bruises forming on her lips. Max, Christopher, both of these men had told her that they loved her, and she'd believed them. She'd believed that they loved her, but not that she was the only woman they'd ever love. With Luke, she felt that assurance. Luke was all in, just for her. He loved her, completely, and it was a true, once-in-a-lifetime thing for him. This knowledged made her press herself even closer, letting her tongue sneak across his lips and into his mouth, where the happily welcomed it with his own.
"Mom?" A tired voice called from the kitchen, "Where'd you put those muffins Jess brought?"
Lorelai pulled away from Luke quickly, struggling to make her breathing normal before answering, "Um, on top of the refrigerator, babe." She gave him an apologetic smile and whispered, "I'm gonna go sit with her."
He nodded, understanding. He was always so understanding and patient, and she knew she got lucky. "Yeah," he told her, "You go on. I gotta get back to the diner."
Lorelai gave him a quick peck on the lips before shutting the door and going into the kitchen. She was surprised to find her daughter fully dressed, picking at a banana-nut muffin. "Going somewhere?" When Rory's eyes went to her shoes bashfully, Lorelai nodded wisely, "I see. You miss Jess already."
Rory blushed and launched into a sort of rant, "Is that horrible? I mean, my boyfriend just broke up with me because of Jess, and all I can think is that I want to be around Jess. When he was here earlier, I was just so comfortable and calm, and I want to feel like that again."
Lorelai looked at the kitchen clock, "He hasn't even been gone for half an hour." Rory blushed again. "Ah, hon, you've got it bad." Not wanting to further this conversation, her daughter said a quick goodbye and went out the door.
Jess had been spacey ever since his talk with Luke, walking around the diner on automation, not really paying any mind to what he was doing. When Luke came back, he told Jess that he shouldn't be working, because it was against certain laws to have a high school student working during school hours, so Jess settled in at the counter, reading a book, but not paying attention to the text. He didn't even notice when the diner door opened and someone came to sit next to him.
"Hey," a voice said quietly. He glanced up and saw Rory grinning weakly at him. He turned his head back to his book and spoke in a distracted voice.
"Hey. Up and around?"
He nodded absentmindedly, "Lots of progress since I left. That mother of yours is really somethin'."
Rory shrugged, "Wasn't just her."
"Okay," Jess mumbled, not commenting further than that.
Rory frowned at him, "Jess, are you okay?"
He looked up, "Me? Peachy. Why do you ask?"
"You just seem kind of...distant."
"Just thinkin'," his eyes turned to the book again.
She was quiet for a moment, waiting for him to go on. When he didn't, she lowered her eyes at him, "Care to elaborate?"
Rory stared for another moment, then sighed in annoyance. "You know what? Fine. Every guy in the world feels like being a complete ass this week? That's just fine by me." She stood.
Jess looked up only to give her a cockeyed stare, "Whoa, whoa. Testy much?"
She ignored this comment, "Just forget it. I guess all your latest altruism was just a fluke, huh?" She turned and left then, walking back home. She came through the door wordlessly, causing her mother to stare her down in confusion. Rory gave her the I-don't-want-to-talk look and went to her room, where she crawled under her covers and began to cry again. She felt completely alone now. Dean was gone--he hated her--and Jess, the only bright light in her tunnel, had suddenly gone apathetic on her. She was vaguely aware of her mother's hand rubbing her back as she cried.
Lorelai hated seeing her daughter in pain, knowing there wasn't anything she could do--anything she could say--that would make her feel better. She'd never felt more helpless. "Sweetie," she started in a gentle voice.
"Don't," Rory commanded in a thick voice.
Rory rolled over to look at her, "Don't try to make me feel better. We don't live in a movie-world; we can't just have one of those ultra-meaningful mother-daughter moments and then--BAM!--suddenly all is well in the pathetic life of Rory Gilmore."
"You are not pathetic," Lorelai insisted, slightly taken aback by her daughter's harsh tone.
"Save it," Rory grumbled, turning away again. "Just--could you just leave me alone?"
Lorelai gaped at her, standing slowly, "Um, okay, sure." Another wave of helplessness washed over her, fully realizing how much she was hurting, and she found she, herself, was close to tears. "Um, sorry," she added before leaving. She sat down at the kitchen table for a long time, listening to her daughter's sobs in the next room, no end to them apparent. Almost an hour later, Lorelai couldn't take it anymore; she couldn't stand feeling like she was worthless. She grabbed her keys and left.
It was the midafternoon lull at the diner. Jess was still reading absently, and Luke was wiping down some of the tables when Lorelai entered. She spotted him and, before he could say anything, grabbed his arm and led him up the stairs to his apartment. Once inside, Lorelai wrapped her arms around Luke's back and buried her face into his chest, trying to feel good again. His arms slowly came around to embrace her, one hand on her lower back, the other on the back of her neck, stroking the hair that fell there.
"Tell me again," she said quickly.
"Tell you what?" Luke asked, completely lost.
She sniffed to hold back her tears, "That you love me. Tell me again."
His eyes softened and he rubbed her back gingerly, "I love you."
"And I'm not worthless, right?"
He pushed her away so that he could look at her, searching her eyes carefully, "What? Of course not. Why would you think that?"
She shook her head and resumed her previous position, holding him tightly, and whispered, "One more time, okay?"
He nodded, kissing her left temple and then whispering in her ear, "I love you, Lorelai Gilmore."
"Thank you," her voice was almost inaudible, eyes squeezed shut.
Luke led her over to the couch and sat down, pulling her down next to him. He put one arm around her waist, still holding her close to comfort her, "Wanna tell me what this is all about?"
She sighed and rested her head on his shoulder, "My baby is hurting, and I feel like I can't do anything to stop it."
"Did something else happen?"
Lorelai shrugged, "I don't know; that's just it! She said she was going to come here, because she wanted to see Jess. She said that he made her feel comfortable and calm, but then she came back and threw herself onto her bed and broke down again." She pulled her knees up to her chest and leaned fully against Luke, "The worst part is, she seemed so angry, and so hurt. She snapped at me and told me to leave her alone. I just--" her resolve broke along with her voice and a few tears began to run down her cheeks, "I don't know what to do. I don't know how to help her. I don't know how to...fix her. God, I have never felt like a bad mother before, but--"
"Hey," Luke squeezed her waist comfortingly, "Stop there. You've never felt like a bad mother, because you've never been a bad mother. This is just something she has to go through, okay?" Lorelai nodded against his shoulder and sighed again, closing her eyes.
Outside, Jess had come up the stairs to grab a new book when he'd caught snippits of the conversation through the apartment door.
"...She wanted to see Jess. She said that he made her feel comfortable and calm, but then she came back and threw herself into her bed and broke down again. The worst part is, she seemed so angry and hurt, and so hurt."
Upon hearing this, Jess's eyes widened and he went back down the steps. A small while later, he was pounding furiously on Lorelai's door. When it swung open, revealing a puffy-eyed, shocked Rory, Jess started shaking his head, his eyes on the ground, "Where do you off being the angry one?!" He snapped. It wasn't really angry yelling, like it had been with Dean the day before; Jess seemed rattled.
Still, Rory immediately went into defense-mode, "Excuse me?"
He didn't answer her, instead he looked up, fire in his eyes, and said, "I never gave a damn about anyone. I could always relate very well to Arnold Rothstein quotes. Look out for number one, because no one else will. I never had to care about anyone. Not my mom, not Luke, not anyone! And let me tell you, that whole not-caring thing? Very easy way to live life; quite enjoyable, actually."
Rory had crossed her arms and now put up one hand to stop him, "Does this divine realization have a point?" Her voice was cold, and she was struggling to make her eyes match, but she knew that if he looked hard enough, Jess would see the pain still there.
"I never had to care," he told her almost desperately, "I never wanted to. Then, I'm forced to move to this stupid town, and I meet you, and you..." He chuckled humourlessly and put his hands on his head, then brought them back down furiously, "You completely screwed me, Gilmore!"
Her own temper caught, "And just how the hell did I do that, huh?!"
"You were there!" He shouted, then his voice dropped and he shook his head, "You were there, and you..." His mind wandered to what Luke had said to him before, "You smiled that way you do, and your eyes lit up the way they do, and I never wanted to be anywhere else." He paused, then picked his rant back up, "And in the past two days, I've spent nearly two-hundred dollars on you, trying to console you, not because I was trying to take advantage of your situation, but because it honest-to-god hurt me to see you hurting. I was so sure that the guy I was when I got here was the guy I would be for the rest of my life, and I loved that idea. Then you come along, and suddenly I'm the poster-boy for the 'Mister Rogers' treatment, playing nice with all the neighbours. You changed me from something I was perfectly happy being!"
Rory's face softened considerably, "Jess, what are you--"
"I think I'm in love with you," he said in a rush, "And I don't know if I'm okay with that." And in true Jess fashion, he turned around and left her standing there, wide-eyed and trying desperately to process all of this information. When it all sunk in, and Rory realized that Jess had gone, her brow furrowed and she went after him.
Lorelai was still resting against Luke when Jess barged through the door. He gave them a not-a-word look and went to sit on the edge of his bed, running one hand through his hair, deep in thought. Shortly after, there were three harsh knocks on the door and Jess glanced at Luke and Lorelai before going to open the door.
Rory stood on her other side, her face contorted somewhere between anger, confusion, and reverance. "What the hell is your problem?!" Lorelai recognized her daughter's voice, but said nothing, just listened as Rory went on, "You don't just show up at someone's house and go on an endless rant, drop that bombshell, and then bolt; that's not the way it works!"
Jess bit the inside of his cheek nervously, "Could we not do this right here?"
She scoffed, "Oh, so its perfectly okay for you to show up on my doorstep, but not vise versa? You're a real piece of work, Mariano."
He sighed, "I still need time to think; process."
"You should have thought and processed before your outstanding speech, Dr. King. Welcome to the here and now; what're you gonna do?"
"I don't know!" He shouted, "This is new freakin' territory for me, here, Rory. Its gonna take me longer than that, and if its not convenient for you, that's too damn bad."
Luke opened his mouth to scold Jess for raising his voice so, but was stopped by Lorelai putting her hand on his chest and shaking her head at him.
Rory looked down, "Yeah, too damn bad." She sighed and shrugged, then turned to walk away. Jess shut the door and looked at the two adults on the couch, a heavy blush staining his cheeks.
Lorelai bit her lip, "Um, I don't know exactly what that was, but I think I heard enough to know that standing there stupidly is the last thing you should be doing." She nodded toward the door and Jess stared at it for a few beats, thinking, before he threw it open and ran after Rory. He caught her just as she was about to descend the steps, and he grabbed one of her shoulders to turn her around.
Without saying anything, Jess leaned forward and pressed a gentle kiss to Rory's lips, holding her face in his hands. It only took her a millisecond to reciprocate, applying a matching pressure to his lips and letting her hands wrap around his arms, just above his elbows. It was a short kiss, and Jess pulled away first, still holding Rory's face, running his thumbs over her cheekbones. "There's the here-and-now," he whispered. "Can I have some more time to think about the what-comes-next?" Rory stared into his eyes before she nodded slowly. He let out a sigh of relief, "Thankyou," the pressed another light kiss against her lips before returning to the apartment.
"Hey," Lorelai said when he entered, "You kiss my kid?"
"I kissed your kid," he sounded incredulous, barely believing it had finally happened.
Lorelai smiled, "You love my kid?"
Jess let out a deep breath, "I might love your kid."
"She kiss you back?"
"She kissed me back."
"She love you back?"
Jess's eyes met her, and they seemed full of fear and apprehension, and silent prayers, "God, I hope so."
Lorelai chuckled, snuggling closer to Luke, "Oh, you Danes boys. What are us Gilmore girls to do with you?"
Luke brought his lips to her ear and said lowly something she never thought she'd hear him say.
Oh, jeez, please don't kill me, but...this fanfiction is now complete! Now, if I get enough reviews saying that I should, I will write a one-shot follow-up to this...follow-up to a one-shot...and sort of conclude things. But, for that to happen, you DO have to leave me some REVIEWS!
Thank you for reading, and keep some tabs on Thayne MacHern, but a little birdie told me she might be doing a string of one-shots and song-fics here pretty soon!
I LOVE YOU ALL[Don't forget to R&R!