Disclaimer: If you think I own GG, I fear for your mental stability. Please, go see your therapist.
This was my entry for the last round of the OLC ficathon. Congrats to Reggie, a.k.a. RM Jackson, for winning! All of you, the second you're done reading this, go read her stuff, immediately. She writes the best Lit on the web!
Lit is completely foreign to me, so I was sorta of panicked. Thanks to Dreana for listening to all my "But I'm going to write him out of character!" rants. Love you!
She still wasn't sure what she was doing there. It wasn't like her to be so impulsive, not at all. Heavy rain fell on her head, matting her hair to her scalp, and loud claps of thunder sounded every few seconds, but she went on, determined to find the right building.
Truncheon was exactly how she remembered it from her last visit. Unsurprisingly for this hour, it must've been around one in the morning, a 'closed' sign hung on the door. The lights were still on, however, so she took a deep breath and knocked. A man came to the door, a smile crossing his face as he opened it.
"Well, hello. What brings a lovely lady such as yourself to our humble bookstore?"
"Um..." She tried to look around the stranger into the store, but only saw rows of bookshelves. They had expanded in the past few years.
"I'm Matthew, by the way. Matthew Foster."
She nodded absentmindedly, still peering into the store. "I'm looking for someone," she said. "Jess Mariano?"
Matthew raised an eyebrow. "I see. Well, in that case, allow me to get him for you. But first, you should probably come inside," he gestured into the store, "before you get struck by lightning, or something. Is there a particular reason you're out in a thunderstorm?"
She ignored the question and stepped, Matthew closing the door behind her. "Jess?" she asked. He nodded obligingly and turned towards a staircase on one side of the store.
"Hey! Mariano!" he called. "There's this chick here! I suggest getting your ass down those stairs immediately!" Then he flipped his attention back to her. "So, does Jess owe you money or something?" She gave him a look as Jess came running down the stairs, pulling a shirt on as he went.
"Matt, can't you put off being a pig until morning? You know, when all the normal people wake--" He abruptly stopped, several buttons remaining undone and his jaw dropping slightly. "Rory?"
She gave him a small smile. "Trying to catch flies, Jess?"
Matt's eyes widened with sudden understanding. "You're Rory?" He asked her. Then he muttered something about how he would've been more polite if she'd mentioned that. He glanced between Jess and Roy once before clapping his hands together. "Well, I am going to go... somewhere that is not right here."
Matt disappeared up the stairs and Rory smiled. "Hi," she said finally.
"Hi," Jess echoed, his expression a cross between surprise and confusion. He took in her appearance, finally noticing that water was practically pooling around her feet. "You must be freezing."
"I'm fine," she insisted, but he ignored her.
"Matt," he said, barely raising his voice. "If you're not too busy sitting by the door listening to every word we say, could you throw down a towel?" A large, gray towel flew down the stairs, landing with a muffled thud. "Thanks Matt."
"Thank you," Rory said quietly, accepting the towel.
He shook his head. "Don't want you to die of hypothermia. Lorelai'd kill me."
Rory laughed. "I think she likes you enough now that she probably wouldn't be able to kill you. She'd hire a hit man."
"Well, don't I feel special." He stared at her a moment longer before shaking his head in disbelief. "Rory Gilmore..."
"Jess Mariano," she said with a grin.
"Um, do you want to go somewhere out of earshot?" he asked, shooting a pointed look up the stairs with the last word.
She nodded, and they made their way past rows of books and abstract paintings fastened to the walls in various places. The sight of a machine brought them to a stop.
"Do you want some coffee?" he asked, gesturing to the machine. She nodded slowly and he grabbed two foam cups and started filling one up.
"That's new," she pointed out. Jess looked up.
"Oh, you mean Betty?"
He tapped the side of the coffee machine. "Betty. Matt and Chris insisted on naming her. It was originally Bessie, but I draw the line at naming things after cows. Once this place actually started making money, Betty was the first thing we bought."
"The first thing you bought was a coffee maker?" she asked skeptically.
"Coffee and hot chocolate."
"Exactly." He held out one of the cups of coffee, which she accepted gratefully, and he leaned back, barely stifling a yawn.
"I woke you up." Jess nodded. "I'm sorry..."
He shrugged. "It was worth it. It's been... what, two years?"
"Just about," she confirmed with a nod. "Since the wedding."
"That sounds right. How are Luke and Lorelai? Still as sickening as ever?"
"Do they still have that nutjob dog? Er... Tom Jones?"
She laughed. "Paul Anka."
"Right, right. Crazy dog."
"Paul Anka isn't crazy! He's just... unique."
"The dog ate sugar. Off my toes."
"Well, you know better than to listen to my mom."
Jess sighed and shook his head, taking a sip of coffee.
"What about you?" he asked. "Still taking the world by storm, one story at a time?"
"Not exactly... After the election in '08, I managed to get a job at this small paper. It's office is a few miles from Stars Hollow. I mean, it's no New York Times, but it's something. And it's close to Mom and Luke, which is a definite plus. Mom is pregnant, by the way."
"Right..." The coversation collapsed into an awkward silence, both occasionally taking drinks of their coffee and opening their mouths to speak, only to close them again. "How are you?" Rory asked, finally breaking it.
"Good," He answered shortly.
"Good." More silence followed. This shouldn't be so hard, she thought. Jess was staring at her intently, almost like he was trying to read her thoughts, and she felt uncomfortable under his gaze. "At the wedding, you mentioned you were writing another book..." she tried again. "How's that coming?"
"I'm working on it."
A scoff came from behind her and another man she didn't recognize, presumably another of Jess's coworkers, walked over to the coffee maker.
"He's been saying that for three years. 'I'm working on it, guys.' 'I'll finish it eventually, shut up!' I personally think he should either finish the thing or abandon us all to go sit on a pirates shoulder."
Jess closed his eyes, obviously annoyed. "Chris, what are you doing down here?"
"Well, my dear Jess, I could not sleep and therefore came to make use of the fair Betty," Chris told him dramatically.
Noticing Rory's confused face, Jess leaned towards her and explained that Chris used to be a drama major. Rory nodded, drawing Chris's attention to her.
"You must be Rory! Wow, you are exactly how Jess described you. Only much prettier." He flashed her a smile.
"Chris," Jess cut in. "Do you have what you came down for?"
Chris held up a cup similar to the ones Jess and Rory were nursing. "The finest cup of hot chocolate you can get this side of.. well, the street we're on."
"Aw, Jess, come on! I want to talk to Rory."
"Chris..." Jess trailed off threateningly.
"Fine, be that way!" Chris turned to Rory. "Goodnight, Ms. Gilmore. It really was a pleasure."
"Same here," she told him.
When Chris was gone, Jess apologized for his friends' behavior. "Chris and Matt... you get used to them. They don't do as any drugs as it seems like they do, I swear."
"They seem to know exactly who I am," she pointed out.
Jess suddenly seemed to find his feet very interesting. "I've mentioned you a few times here and there, I guess."
"Yeah." He looked back up to her face. "You happen to be one of the few things in my life pre-adulthood that didn't totally suck, Rory."
"Oh. Well, I'm... flattered?"
"You should be. I can't believe you're here, Rory." He paused. "Which leads us to the million dollar question."
"What's that?" she asked.
"Why are you here?"
Rory winced. She had known the question would come eventually, but she still hadn't thought of a sufficient answer. "Can I ask the audience?"
He shook his head. "Rory, please."
"I... really don't know, Jess. I just... wanted to see you, I guess. I missed you."
"I missed you, too," he assured her.
"Wow," she said after another short silence. "I feel really stupid for coming here."
"You're anything but stupid, Rory."
It was sudden, and neither was quite sure how it happened, but their lips brushed softly as the met halfway between them. The kiss deepened, and Rory's eyes slowly shut. What they were doing felt familiar, safe, even. But at the same time, it felt completely wrong. She pulled back.
"Jess..." she trailed off, unsure how to finish the sentence. Jess took care of it for her.
"You have to go." It wasn't a question, merely a statement of fact.
"Yeah," she confirmed. "Jess, I'm sor--"
He cut her off. "Don't worry about it. This is our thing."
She chuckled. "I guess that it is, huh? Jess..."
Jess stopped her again. "Look, Rory, if it's meant to be, it will happen eventually, right?"
"Philosophical words from you..."
Jess shrugged. "Matt's got a thing for Oprah."
With a kiss on the cheek, she whispered, "Bye Jess."
"See you around, Rory."
She turned to leave, but Jess's hand grabbed her arm. "Rory. call up to the guys and ask them to toss you down an umbrella. It's still pouring..."
"They'll be sitting on the stairs?"
Rory smiled as she walked back to where she'd entered, one word ringing in her mind.
Did you like it? Did you? Did I ruin Jess? Will monkeys one day rule the world? All of my burning questions can be answered with a short, simple review from you! Well, except maybe the one about the monkeys...