Lincoln Park After Dark

By Escritor

He wants to tell her that she is being silly, that she's a disgrace, that he's glad her mom wasn't around to see her like this. Instead he says, "Your nails are purple."

The first thing he notices about her is her nail polish. As long as he has known Rory, she has kept her nail polish simple and nude: light pinks, beiges, and browns. Once her nails were red, and when he'd pointed this out to her, she replied with a rushed, jumbled response about her mother and being a Catholic school girl. When he sees her now, her nails are the darkest possible purple -- practically a shade away from being black.

Then he notices the rest of her appearance. Her hair is wavy and tousled. She has straight bangs. She has a few rings on her fingers. Her jacket-and-jeans combo looks like something a celebrity would wear to a low-key-but-fabulous event. And she's wearing heels with jeans, something he'd only seen in magazines and on television.

His first thought is, trendy. That's what she's become - trendy and materialistic and vain and shallow. And then she looks at him with her big, blue eyes and she smiles as if it were the most natural thing in the world, and Jess could almost picture her in her blue Chilton uniform, back when she was seventeen. He can almost picture her getting off the bus and running into his arms. He can almost pretend like the last few years didn't exist.

"I'm so glad you came," she says in this voice that sounds amazingly un-Rory. She glances around, smiles at some woman, and then drags Jess into a hallway. "So, how are you? How is Liz?"

Jess shrugs. "Liz is good. She has a lot to handle, with the baby and everything. But she's... good."

"How are you?"

He shrugs without a response.

She seems to think this silence means "I'm really great and fabulous and my life is awesome," so she moves to a different subject. "So, I didn't think you'd make it tonight."

"Here I am," he says plainly, feeling ridiculously uncomfortable around this girl who looks like someone he used to know.

"Here you are!" she replies, almost drunkenly. "You look good. I like your hair, it's very 'struggling artist.'"

"The hairstyle came with the occupation."

She must realize that she's gone into awkward territory, because she says, "You didn't RSVP."

He stuffs his hands into his pockets. "Didn't think I'd come."

She frowns. "Why?"

"Why do you think?" He's being harsh, and he knows it. But now, after seeing her nails and her hair and her outfit and being around this complete clone of everything he ran away from, he doesn't really care.

"I... I just, I mean I know..."

"I guess it's not 'complicated' anymore, is it?" he says, crossing his arms.

She looks down, and he isn't sure if he's imagining the tears in her eyes. For a split second she looks like the teenage version of herself again, crying because Jess yelled at her. As quickly as he sees the resemblance, it's gone, and she's put on a stoic-yet-air headed mask.

"We've sorted out our problems. It was just a rough patch, you know? It happens to everyone. We were just able to get over it," she explains, smiling at a man who looks by disapprovingly as he walks down the hallway. "I mean, I love him. I know he's the one for me, I was just... confused before. But now I see that I was totally off. I just - I can't not be with him."

He watches her soliloquy and for a minute feels a little bad for her, and then a little sick. He can't see her like this, he can't imagine her life now. He can't see her in this outfit, around these people, in the expensive, fancy dining hall that probably cost as much as a four-year tuition at Yale, the school she left to be with this dickhead.

He wants to tell her that she is being silly, that she's a disgrace, that he's glad her mom wasn't around to see her like this. That she looks just like Emily Gilmore. Instead he says, "Your nails are purple."

She replies, "The color is called 'Lincoln Park After Dark.'"

The fact that she knows the color by name breaks his heart. He begins to walk away from her, and she whispers, "Jess."

He turns around for a second. "Congratulations on your wedding. Don't mail me if you have a kid. I don't want to know if there's another one of those mindless dicks on the earth." A beat. "Goodbye, Rory." And he leaves.

Author's Note: Kind of addicted to oneshots these days. I just painted my nails dark purple, ironically. Jess would be so ashamed.