This was my third and final entry for the OLC ficathon, and it actually ended up winning. My story was to include: a black and white movie, someone smiling, someone walking into a door, and chocolate milk. It's a happy, future lit fic, which honestly, you don't see from me very often. Embrace it.
Was it the cheese that stands alone? Well, this story does too.
Disclaimer: I don't own anything related to Gilmore Girls, I swear. But if I could own Jess Mariano, I would probably be too busy to ever write again.
The Perks of Being Able to See
Jess Mariano didn't want to admit that, at the age of thirty-two, his perfect eyesight was starting to fail him. As a small boy, he was able to see far distances. As a teenager, he could read books with tiny print. But as he cleaned the foggy bathroom mirror with his hand, he realized those days were long gone. Sighing, his hazy reflection stared back at him as he attempted to fix his blurry hair.
He had been avoiding the issue for days, weeks even, but he was sure Rory had noticed. During breakfast one morning, he had spilled her chocolate milk reaching for a napkin. He didn't do it on purpose; he just hadn't judged the distance correctly.
"Jess?" his wife called from outside the door. "Are you almost done in there?"
Jess adjusted the towel that was wrapped around his waist and reached for the doorknob. Inching slightly to the left, the knob hit hand and he opened the door to a very sleepy Rory. "Hey," he greeted her, pecking her cheek lightly as he walked past.
"Good morning to you, too," she grumbled, shutting the bathroom door behind her.
Coffee. He needed coffee. Jess groaned and felt around the base of the coffee pot for the button that would start the desired morning coffee. He fumbled once more, cursing the smooth button. The black button blended against the base, "start" labeled cleanly above the switch.
"Having a bit of trouble?" Rory asked gently, bumping her hip against his. She reached over his shoulder and hit the button he kept missing.
"Just tired," he mumbled, heading in the direction of their bedroom.
Rory watched intently as he walked into the same door he had for the past month or so. Shaking her head, she grabbed two mugs from the cabinet. She didn't want to risk another broken coffee cup.
She definitely wasn't blind to his impaired vision. It was actually amusing to watch him pretend that he could see fine. Just the other night, she had caught him sitting in front of To Kill a Mockingbird in the living room. She had asked him why he was watching the black and white movie, and he had informed her that he was in the mood to read To Kill a Mockingbird. She figured, at that point, that there was something wrong, and it wasn't because he had decided the movie was better than the book. "You have an optometrist appointment next week," she said, spooning the last of her cereal into her mouth.
"Isn't that an eye doctor?" he asked, experimenting with how far or close the newspaper had to be in order to read the type face.
She smiled. "It's about time you were fitted with some spectacles," she teased, squeezing his shoulder.
"I don't need glasses," he grumbled.
"You're having a pretty hard time with that paper," she said.
"If they stopped making the print so damn small…"
"You'd be able to make coffee again," she interrupted.
He ignored her and flipped the paper.
"Upside down, babe." Rory grabbed the paper and folded it on the table. "You'd stop walking into the bedroom door," she said.
Jess sighed and threw her an annoyed glance. "I can see fine."
She nodded. He was being stubborn again. "You're wearing two different sneakers," she said as she carried her bowl to the sink.
He stared at his shoes. Shit. Were they different? He couldn't even tell.
"You computer font is set at size twenty-two," she added.
"No, it isn't," he denied. Or was it? He had been increasing the font size for some time now.
"You need glasses," she said, leaning against the sink.
"No, I don't," he denied again. "I'm fine. I can see fine."
Rory sighed. Point out a flaw, and all Jess did was deny, deny, deny. "Okay," she conceded. "I'm going to work. Have fun walking into walls and burning yourself because you can't see." Rory grabbed her briefcase and jacket as Jess mumbled obscenities under his breath.
He'd show her. Jess snapped open the paper and tried to browse the headlines. He held it in different directions. Close to his face. Far away from his face. Slightly to the right. Slightly to the left.
Ten minutes later, the newspaper was in the trash.
When Rory arrived home, Jess was flopped across the bed with his laptop. "I bought you something," she said, tossing a book at him.
"What this?" he asked drying, studying the cover. He followed the same flipping method as with the paper, and failed miserably once again.
Rory grabbed the book from his hands. "You have an optometrist appointment next week," she reminded him, shoving the book on his nightstand. "I'm taking you, and if you're a good little boy, I'll make sure you get a lollipop." She squeezed his cheek gently as he tried to bat her hand away. "Stubborn oaf," she mumbled, replacing her high heels on the shoe rack.
"Ro-ry," he grumbled, scrambling after her. "I don't need glasses."
She raised her eyebrow. "What time is it?"
He hesitated as his eyes flipped from the wall clock to the digital clock. She had just gotten home so it would be about…
"Time for you to get a pair of glasses," she improvised.
"Fine," he groaned. "I'll go to the optometrist, but I don't need glasses. It's a waste of time."
Smiling, Rory pat her husband on the back. "Atta boy."
"It better be a damn big lollipop," he grumbled.
"They're not cute."
"Yes, they are."
Jess pulled his glasses off and them by the water bottle on his nightstand. "No, they're not," he groaned defensively.
"Put them back on," she begged as he closed his eyes.
"Nah. I'm mad at you," he grumbled. She could hear the stubborn edge working its way into his voice. There was still no way he was admitting that he needed the glasses or that they looked good on him.
"Put 'em on. Please, Jess?" she begged again, reaching over his chest for the glasses.
"Fine, but you can't tease me," he requested with a sigh, sliding them behind his ears.
"I just told you they're cute," she reminded him. "How's that teasing?"
"Because they don't look cute," he grumbled. "They make me look old and blind."
She rolled her eyes. "They make you look closer to twenty than thirty."
"Liar." He tugged her closer. For a moment, she thought he was going to pull off the glasses and toss them aside again. She nestled against his bare chest as he grabbed a book off his bed table, black frames resting neatly on his olive nose.
Jess pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose. Rory leaned in for a kiss and pulled a section of the newspaper out of his hands. "I liked it better when you couldn't read," she teased, flipping her portion of the paper open.
"But I bet you didn't like it when I couldn't make coffee," he mumbled.
"Snarky." Rory shot him a smile. "You're up and ready early."
Shrugging, Jess folded the newspaper and set it next to Rory. "One of the perks of being able to see."
She nodded and looked away from the headline she had just read. Dropping the paper, Rory focused her attention on her husband.
Jess smirked and dragged her out of the kitchen chair. "Want to know another?"