Title: Figure It Out On The Way

Summary: Rory and Jess. Analyzing. Over-thinking. Trying to learn to love each other. And knowing that you have to start somewhere.

A/N: The last installment in this little ficlet, I think. Let me know how it leaves you feeling. :)

V. Shout It From The Rooftops

"I couldn't find a rooftop... but I figured I'd go ahead and do the best I could," I stop for a second, wondering if I should say the rest of what I'm thinking; fighting against the natural urge to shut the hell up and close off, I continue. "I guess... you could say it's something I've been working on. Making the most of things. Trying my best. Not just giving up on things," I finish quietly.

The way she's looking at me, I can't tell if she gets it and is happy with my stunted efforts, or if she just thinks I'm crazy and not the Jess she thought I was. We're on the deserted top level of a parking garage, for chrissakes, of course she thinks I'm crazy. I'm starting to think maybe I should have just kept my mouth shut; should've just left well enough alone and not starting looking for buildings with roof access and other alternatives...

It's driving me insane , 'cause she's still just staring and I'm used to being able to read her, or at least used to her being the talkative one; anything really so I'm not the one guessing at her feelings.

And yeah, I do appreciate the irony of that. Me being the one in this position and hating every second of it, knowing that I've put her through the same countless times before.

I guess that's part of the point, though. Part of what she was trying to tell me when she broke down at the bridge. And I thought this was a pretty good way to start making amends. To put myself on the line, to put myself out there, to leave myself vulnerable and wondering and not in control.

But fuck if it isn't painful.

"Rory..." I clear my throat. "...What- what are you thinking?" Christ, I am so not used to working on this communication thing.

But she smiles at that. And I can start to see the glimmer of surprise and appreciation and just plain happy in her eyes.

Plus, she's leaning forward to kiss me, and that's never really been a bad sign.

It's a short, chaste, sweet kiss, and it somehow just conveys satisfied. We're closer now, obviously, and that does something to take my ridiculous nervousness away. And she's still smiling, and the blue of her eyes is still capable of making my heart jump a little. She's stunning in the half-light of the setting sun.

"Jess... as much as I love hearing you say all of that... and I do, I promise... I'm not sure I really get it. The rooftop part I mean," she adds quickly, "Why exactly are we up here?"

Oh. Right. She probably doesn't remember everything she said when she was ranting the other day. I got so caught up in trying to redeem myself, I forgot about that little thing called context. Well, never too late to explain...

There's no other way to say this except to say it quietly and seriously and as sincerely as I possibly can - and hope that she knows how much I really do mean it. So I lean my head down even closer to hers and tell her.

"You said that if you made me happy, at all, that I should shout it from the rooftops... And you do. Make me happy. You make me feel... lighter, and... warmer, and more hopeful, than I think I've ever felt before. I like you, Rory Gilmore, and I don't want to lose you by being too proud to say it."

Her eyes are glistening a little, but she's still smiling, and it's hard for me to believe my words can mean so much to her. But there's a part of me that's capable of entertaining the idea that maybe she needs me as much as I need her, and that thought is slowly starting to take hold in my head.

Maybe we can be happy together. Maybe we can hold on to this intangible, effervescent feeling that sparks between us.

Hell, I'm willing to try if she is.

"So you found a rooftop?" Her smile's turned teasing now.

"Well, it isn't exactly a rooftop..." I shrug.

"Yeah, but still, not bad, Jess Mariano. Seriously. I'm impressed."

She's trying to hide her smile as she give me an approving look, and I should probably be at least a little irritated with her mocking, but I can't seem to find it in me to be annoyed. She is possibly the most enchanting, endearing girl I've ever met. Half-fairy, half-girl, filled with some kind of magic and an impossible, infinite beauty...


"Yeah. I mean, you really pulled out all the stops with this one... and, correct me if I'm wrong, but I think I might have seen a picnic basket in the back seat of your car?"

I'm grinning now, I can't help it, and I pull her to my side as I steer us toward the car.

"You up for a picnic?"