Jess walked back to the diner slowly, enjoying the night air, his own happiness threatening to spill over.
"What does this mean?" he finally asked her.
"I – I don't know," she said, starting to look worried. He hated that he made her look like that.
"Are you going to stay with Dean?" he asked, his voice hollow.
"I – I don't know. No. No," she said, with some finality.
"No." She grabbed his hand, the one that wasn't in a cast. "I'll break up with him."
"Yeah. I promise," she said, and she kissed him gently, as though he was something treasured, never to be broken.
The diner was empty when he got there, closed but still unlocked, so he went upstairs into the apartment to find Luke watching TV.
"Hey," Luke said, looking up as Jess walked in.
Jess nodded at him, carefully shrugging out of his jacket.
"Your mom called," Luke said.
"Yeah. She said her boyfriend came back."
"Is she okay?" Jess asked, feeling his heart sink.
"Yeah, yeah, she's fine."
"The guy was arrested."
"Someone called the police," Luke informed him. "Liz was pretty upset about it."
"Of course," Jess said bitterly. "Who called?"
"She said it was some guy you know…from a record store, or something?"
James Burnell. That man knew a lot more than he let on.
Jess walked over to the phone, dialing quickly. It rang twice, then there was a click as someone answered.
"Mr. Burnell? This is Jess."
"Jess! It's good to hear from you."
"Yeah. I uh, I wanted to thank you," Jess said awkwardly, turning his back to Luke, who was watching him curiously.
"Of course, Jess. Are you all right?"
"Yeah. I moved in with my uncle again." Jess could almost hear Burnell smiling at him. "You were right."
"Hmm. So were you, Jess."
"You knew you needed help, and you asked for it. I'm proud of you."
"Uh…thanks," Jess said, again feeling awkward. "So, uh, I should go."
"All right." A brief pause. "If you'll give me your address, I'll mail you your paycheck."
Jess rattled it off, then said goodbye and hung up.
"Who was that?" Luke asked, as Jess kicked off his shoes and left them in the middle of the floor.
"The guy I worked for in New York." Jess walked across the apartment and lay down on his bed, suddenly very tired again.
"You had a job?"
"Yeah. Record store."
They were both quiet for a moment. Luke had turned off the TV, and the apartment almost hummed with silence.
"Luke?" His voice sounded funny, filling up that silence.
"Thanks for…everything." It was a weird thing to say, it seemed to him. He had never been the overly grateful type of guy. But, he thought, he couldn't be overly grateful for this. Luke had saved him.
This time, in Stars Hollow, he wasn't going to mess things up for everyone. He could entertain himself without stirring things up too much.
Luke smiled slightly, and nodded. "You're welcome, Jess."
Jess reached into his bag, pulling out a book and his headphones.
"What are you doing?" Luke asked, getting up from the couch.
"Getting ready to sleep," Jess said, putting the headphones on.
"You can't sleep in those. You'll strangle yourself."
"I didn't want to bother you with the stereo."
"Believe it or not, I actually kind of missed it," Luke said.
"Really?" Jess smirked, not really believing it. "Luke, you may be joining the dark side." He reached over and turned on the music.
Luke winced. "Just not too loud, okay?"
"Sure, Luke. Whatever you say." Luke went over to his side of the apartment, and Jess heard the mattress creak as Luke lay down on it.
He opened his book, then dropped it onto the mattress, letting it close and come to rest, face up.
Reading had always been an escape for him, a way to get away from the things that bothered him. But right now, he didn't want to get away from his real life.
He thought of Rory, of her promise to break up with Dean, of her choosing him. He thought of living with Luke, being in Stars Hollow with all the quirky townspeople who sometimes drove him absolutely crazy. The townspeople who would probably have an emergency town meeting tomorrow once they realized he was back. Taylor would probably have a heart attack when he heard the town hoodlum had returned. He smiled a little at that thought. He wouldn't cause trouble for Luke, but he could still have some fun...
He thought of Rory's words before this whole mess. "You can do anything you wanted, you can be anything you wanted."
All he wanted to do was live in Stars Hollow, be with Rory, be far away from his mother and her insanity.
"You can do anything you wanted, you can be anything you wanted." This time, he would.
Author's Note: That's it, everyone! I know a lot of you wanted me to keep going, but I'm sorry, I just couldn't. I hope you don't hate me too much. I thought that this particular place had a nice symmetry with the beginning of the story. Some people have suggested doing a sequel, and I like that idea quite a bit. So don't worry, this won't be my last Jess-centric fic. But this is it for the time being. Thanks to all of you for reading and reviewing, and I do apologize for all the times I didn't get to answer your reviews. My life got a bit busier than I expected when I started this story. Also, thanks to all of you who convinced me to make this into a full story, as it was originally intended to be a oneshot, inspired by a video on youtube. I like what it turned in to, so again, thank you. I take suggestions, so if there is anything in particular you want to see a fiction about, let me know! So, watch for another fic from me. And thanks again for reading!