A/N: This is a response to a challenge from kd-walker684 , who actually wrote the first 5 paragraphs. It's a Jess future fic. I think that the world needs more fics where Jess is a good person, even without Rory as his girlfriend or wife. Cutesy one shot for your enjoyment! Please R&R!
"This is my cell phone number," Mr. Jess Mariano said, pointing to seven digits on the chalk-board. "Learn this number. Memorize this number. Be this number. When you forget what the assignment is, call me and I'll tell you. When you need an extension, call me and I'll consider it. When you need someone to chat with, I'm there. Just don't call me after midnight. Understand?"
The group before him smiled as a whole. He could tell some of the guys in the back row were plotting prank calls, but he didn't mind. He'd just call them right back.
Beside the phone number on the chalk-board was a list of acceptable names for the teacher: Mr. M, Mr. J, J-Dawg, J-Man, Dodger (the students didn't quite understand that one), and Mariano were among the list, but by far the most accepted and most used was "Jess."
He liked to hang out with his students, who he thought of as his peers. He said on more than one occasion to all his students that he didn't have a very pleasant time in high school when he was the one sitting in the cramped desk with writing all over it, so he wanted to make the best of it now, and also make it a good time for the kids.
At lunch time, instead of hanging out in the teacher's lounge or going to a fast-food restaurant, he ate with a group of students. At one time he tried to rotate who he sat with, but he could tell that a lot of kids felt uncomfortable being themselves around a teacher, so he mainly just sat with a group of misfits that reminded him of himself at a younger age.
He actually didn't know what would happen this year. It was only the first day of school, after all. Even though he had been voted Teacher of the Year by his students the previous year, he knew that there were several people-students, parents, and fellow teachers alike- who disliked his unorthodox teaching style. He couldn't please everyone. There would always be teachers that students simply didn't like, or parents felt uneasy about, or other teachers were jealous of. And that was okay with him. He could deal.
He glanced around the room and tried to read the students. In the front row were all the goody-goodies and smart kids. A small smile formed as he spotted a girl who reminded him of Rory. He would always have a soft spot for Rory. They had both moved on. He accepted that. In fact, he had a pregnant wife at home, who he loved with all of his heart. He was friends with Rory now, and that friendship meant a lot to him.
In the second row, he spotted a bunch of shy kids. They were usually well behaved, just extremely timid. He almost laughed out loud when he spotted a boy dressed in a plaid shirt and jeans, wearing a backwards baseball cap on his head. Uncle Luke. The one person who actually care about him and had faith in him back then. He frequently called his uncle to update him and tell him "thank you" once again. He had brushed Luke off at the time, but he really appreciated everything his uncle did now that he was older and wiser.
His eyes moved on to the second to last row. The popular kids- the jocks and the hotties. He focused on a girl who was only barely paying attention. She kept whispering comments to her friends and drinking what he assumed was coffee from a mug that sat on her desk. When he listened closer, he noticed that her comments were all movie or book references. He remembered Lorelai. She had tried to help him out too, she really had. But he had reacted badly, and their relationship had been rocky for a long time. They had highly disliked each other. She was married to his Uncle Luke now. They had two kids of their own. Jess had grown up, and because of that, Lorelai had accepted him. They now had a very civil relationship at the least.
Jess immediately recognized the types of kids sitting in the back row. They were the kids who really couldn't care less. His eyes were immediately drawn to a boy who wasn't paying any attention. He was reading his own book and writing rude remarks and swear words on the desk. That was him in high school. He was determined to corner this kid later and have a little chat.
Jess pointed to the board and spoke again, "This board contains the most important information I will give you all year long. My phone number and acceptable names you can call me. I expect you to write this down. It is very important. Now, I am going to talk and you are going to listen. Later on, we can have a heart to heart and bake cookies. And when we're done, we can hold hands and skip in circles."
The kids laughed at his sarcastic-ness, and he decided it was safe to continue, "I am not your average teacher. I need you guys to know that I understand you" he locked eyes with the rebel in the back, "I either understand you completely, or I am ready to try to understand you completely. I had a rough life, OK? I know what it's like. My mom never had time for me because she was too busy with her newest boyfriend. I rebelled, mostly to get attention. I put on a nasty attitude to hide the fact that I was hurt by my mother's actions. I was nasty to everyone. My mom didn't know what to do with me. She tried, but she could never 'fix' me. And then, one day she gave up on me completely. When I was seventeen, she sent me to live with my Uncle Luke in this tiny town called Stars Hollow. Let me tell you, this town is full of kooks. It's basically the place that all of the escapees from the mental institution went. I swear that this town was started as an insane asylum." The kids laughed again, letting him know that they were still listening. He kept talking, "I learned a lot in that town, though. It was the first place that I really felt like someone cared about me. My Uncle Luke helped me a lot in life, and I want to be able to help you in the some of the same ways. Just remember- I can be your friend and your teacher this year." Just then, the bell rang and the students began to leave.
Jess walked over and stopped the Rebel Kid. "Hey" he said as he grabbed the kid's arm, "I want to talk to you for a second."
The kid snorted sarcastically, "Listen, dude, I'm only interested in girls. Sorry."
"Oh, you're so funny" Jess retorted, "Ever consider a career in comedy? I'm sure you'd be great. What's your name?"
"You don't know it already?" the kid asked with a smirk, "I thought you'd understand me enough to just read my mind!"
Jess spoke calmly, "Name. Now. Or detention."
"Mark" the kid replied through gritted teeth.
"Ok, Mark, let me give you some advice. The whole 'nobody gets me' thing, I've been there. I've also done the 'chip on my shoulder' bit and the surly, sarcastic, 'the world can bite my ass' bit, and let me tell you, I mastered them all. And everything you're feeling might be totally justified, maybe you are getting screwed. But that doesn't give you the right to take your stress out on the rest of the world. You might be hurting inside. But that doesn't give you the right to make others feel the same pain. You can drop the tough guy act around me- I've been where you are right now." Jess said. He mentally thanked Lorelai for that speech she had given him so long ago.
"Wow, Doctor Phil," Mark replied, his sarcasm back intact, "That was really inspiring."
Jess handed Mark a piece of paper with his cell phone number on it. "Just remember, if you need someone to talk to, I'll be right here."
"Can I leave now?" Mark asked impatiently
"Yeah, you can go now. Want a pass?" Jess asked
Mark shook his head and left the room, paper still in hand. Jess had a feeling that eventually, he would be receiving a phone call from Mark.
A/N: Awww...wasn't that sweet and fluffy? I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it!