Don't you just LOVE reading author's rambling author's notes at the beginning of stories? I do! (Sarcasm, cough cough)... yet despite this, I can't seem to stop myself from writing them sometimes. Let's keep it short and sweet... This is a Jess/Rory fic, I'm sure you can fill in the pieces.

Disclaimer: I just bought the rights to Gilmore Girls, and Season 8 is in the process of being filmed. Milo Ventimiglia is coming back as a full-time cast member. As you can probably see, sarcasm is my forte.

They were seventeen, and in love. Everyone in the small and quaint (and slightly eccentric, to say the least) town of Star's Hallow watched with peaceful expressions as the happy couple crossed the street, hand in hand. The town princess, the lovely Miss Rory Gilmore, with her cercluen eyes and gently waving brown hair, was staring lovingly into the eyes of her very first boyfriend, Dean Forrester. Dean, in all his tallness, stared back.

Everyone in the town just knew that they were perfect together. Everyone, that is, but Jess. He scowled, wiping down the counter in his uncle's diner for the fourth time in the past hour. It was completely obvious to him (and apparently only to him) that the couple was ridiculously uneven. Dean, with his aspirations to be a professional hockey player, got a C average in school and shrugged off deep discussions about books and music. (Rory hated sports, and while this irked Jess, no one else seemed to notice). Rory was the girl who had a bit of a higher goal: Go to Harvard to become an overseas correspondant. Rory was the girl that beat herself up over a 98 percent on an exam.

Luke, the owner of the fine establishment that Jess was unneccesarily and agressively cleaning, walked out of the back room with a stack of pancakes for the Kirk, who was sitting at the window seat knitting some sort of odd looking hat. He saw Jess's face, twisted with regret, and his gaze followed his nephew's. Luke sighed, patting Jess on the shoulder as he passed him. How had things ended up like this?

Four months before the slightly depressing scene in Luke's Diner, a very different scene was taking place on the very same streets.

"Rory, give me the damn book, already!"

"No!" The indignant young woman glared at the youth next to her, protecing the hard-back novel by wrapping her arms around it. This didn't stop Jess, who poked her sides in an effort to losen her grip, and pried the book triumphantly from her hands.

"No fair!" Rory cried, lunging across her best friend to reach the book.

"I bought it, I get to read it first," Jess exclaimed. He was smirking now, all traces of annoyance gone from his features now that he had what he wanted.

Rory sighed. "Will you let me borrow it when you're done?" she asked. She knew the answer, of course, but it was still polite to ask.

Jess nodded absently, since he knew that Rory would just go into his room and take it from him if he forgot. He was busy reading the inside jacket of the novel, and thus almost bumped in to someone crossing the street.

"Woah," he said as an angry looking man stalked past him. A disgruntled kid about their age was following behind. He looked exactly like the man that Rory and Jess both assumed to be the father, and he was taller than most.

"Huh, wonder what that was about?" Rory said, shrugging and making one last futile effort to grab the novel from Jess's suddenly relaxed grip.

Jess dodged her, and grinning, ruffled her hair and ran away before she could respond to the sneak attack.

Most people who saw them said that they must have met when they were very young. Rory knew everything in the world there was to know about Jess, and vice versa, but the truth was, they had met when they were fifteen, just two years before. When his mother decided that she didn't want him any more, she had shipped him off to Connecticut to live with his uncle in a matchbox sized house above a diner. Needless to say, he had not, originally, been too fond of the whole ordeal. Once he met Rory, however, his former gloominess seemed to evaporate. The entire town waited for the inevitable, but for reasons unknown, the two remained nothing but friends. This was to the relief of Lorelai Gilmore, who didn't care much for her daughter's new insta-best friend.

"Movie night, Jess?" Rory questioned him as they parted at the door to her house.

"Eightish?" he asked. Rory nodded her consent, and demanded a tribute of food along with his company. Jess simply rolled his eyes and promised her burgers and fries from Luke's.

Rory entered her house, mentally preparing herself for what was about to take place.

"Who were you with?" Lorelai asked, coming out of the kitchen with a mug of coffee in her hands.

"Jess," Rory said, and she attempted to cross through the living room without any further comment- today she wanted to avoid the obligatory discussion.

Lorelai nodded. "Be careful, hun."

Rory nodded back and closed the door to her room. How her mom could still think after two years that Jess was using her when he had been the most amazing friend was beyond her. She knew, however, that Lorelai only wanted what was best, and that her annoying warnings should be read as nothing more than loving concerned comments from her mom.

The grumpy boy that Jess and Rory had seen on the streets with his father was named Dean.

He had introduced himself to Rory one day when they were in Doose's Market- Dean was sporting a brand new employee's vest- and from that moment on, Jess hadn't trusted him. The look on his face when he learned that Rory was available and Jess was nothing more than a friend was enough to seal his dislike.

Of course, Jess knew better than to say anything. He knew how incredibly lucky he was to have a friend like Rory, and he had promised himself a long time ago that he would do nothing to jeapordize that. Rory and Dean struck up a friendship, but Jess never felt like a third wheel. Rory always had time for him, and only him. Jess tried to ignore the fact that their daily get-togethers were greatly diminishing in amount and length.

The day his life crumbled around him, he had been wearing a Metallica T-shirt, and she had been wearing a blue shirt that showed off the pale white skin of her neck and collarbone. Since he had moved here, Jess had cared for Rory as more than a friend. His attempts at flirting in the beginning of this time were skillfully avoided, and somehow, Jess had ended up sticking around as nothing more than the best friend.

It didn't bother him most of the time, although there were those times that he felt like leaning over and kissing her, and he had to remind himself that that was not an option.

It was early on an April morning and Rory came bounding into the diner excitedly. A grin lit her entire face up, and Jess smiled in response.

"What happened?" he questioned as he poured her a cup of coffee without being asked.

"Nothing particularly," Rory hedged. She was practically bouncing on the stool, and Jess rolled his eyes.

"Not buying that. What happened?" he asked again. Rory's blue eyes were practically sparkling with excitement. Jess had to power to make her look like that- when discussing a good book, or when just sitting with her in companionable silence. It was a side of Rory that Jess took great delight in bringing out, and he was very curious to know what had caused it to emerge.

"Dean kissed me."

Well he definitely wasn't expecting that.

From that moment on, things had been different. Jess tried not to pay attention. He was determined to remain a good friend- he knew, or at least he hoped, that eventually Rory's life would balance out again, that her new boyfriend Dean wouldn't monopolize all of her time, that she would have time for her best friend again.

His patience was running thin, when, three weeks later, Rory ran into the diner.

"Coffee?" she asked. Her breath was labored, she was in a hurry.

Wordlessly, Jess poured her a cup, and tried to remember the last time they had had a real conversation.

"Thanks Jess," she responded, gulping half the mug.

"What's the rush?" he asked.

"Dean's taking me to see a movie," she grinned, finished off the cup, and raced out of the diner without so much as a goodbye.

"Rory, can I talk to you?" Jess asked uncertainly. It was Saturday morning and they were in the diner. Rory was gazing out of the window, waiting for Dean to show up, Jess guessed.

"What about?" her voice was distracted, she hadn't caught the urgency in his own tone.

"It's kind of important," he said, trying to earn her attention for a few minutes.

"Hmm?" Rory asked through a mouthful of eggs as she finally turned to look at him.

"Why don't we ever talk any more?" he asked her. Jess was not one for displaying his emotions on his sleeve, and Rory knew this. Her eyebrows scrunched up.

"What are you talking about? We talk," she said, rolling her eyes. Jess shook his head.

"Not like we used to," he muttered.

"Well, I have a boyfriend now, he takes up some of my time."

"All of it," he said it under his breath, but Rory still heard.

"All of it? What are you talking about, Jess?"

"I just feel like I'm being replaced."

Rory's eyes widened and she stood up, going behind the counter to wrap her arms around him. "You could never be replaced, silly."

Jess sighed. "Yeah?"

"Yeah. You're my best friend. I'm sorry if I've been ignoring you, but I just need some time to get used to the whole Dean thing, ok?"

Jess nodded. It had been nearly a month since Rory and Dean had been dating, and nothing had changed. But he trusted her to make time for him, especially now that he had taken a step and addressed the issue.

Dean, staring in the window as his girlfriend wrapped his arms tightly around Jess's waist, glared in anger at the two. Jess's arms were casually resting in the dip of her waist and their foreheads were touching. All in all, not exactly ideal. He'd have to talk to this boy.

"Hey, Jess," a voice called.

"Diner's closed," Jess responded. He glanced up.


"Yeah, Dean. Listen, Jess, I'd greatly appreciate it if you'd do something for me," Dean's voice was menacing, and Jess stood up straighter, mentally and physically preparing himself.

"What?" he responded. "If you tell me what it is, I'm sure I'd be happy to help." His tone was sarcastic, and his face lifted into a his trade-mark smirk. Dean's glare deepened.

"Stay the hell away from my girlfriend."

The smirk fell off of Jess's face. The fact that he would demand this of him made up abruptly furious. "No," he hissed through clenched teeth.

"Yes," Dean hissed back. And then he threw the first punch.

"Oh, my God!" Rory squeaked. "Your eye! What did you do to your eye?!"

"Nothing," Jess said, cursing the black and purple splotch that was covering his left eye.

"Are you hurt?" Rory demaneded, pushing some of his hair lightly away from the injury and leaning forward to examine it.

"I'm fine, Rory," Jess responded. Secretly, it felt kind of nice to know that she cared.

"How did this happen?" she said.

"It's not important."

Rory's hand clamped around Jess's forearm and she dragged him into the supply closet.

"What happened?"

"Dean happened," Jess said evenly, staring straight at her, waitng for her comprehension.

"He... he punched you?" she whispered. Jess winced. She sounded so broken that for one moment Jess wished he had lied about the reason for his black eye.


"What did you do?" she asked him, bewildered.

Jess's pose became defensive. "What makes you so sure that I did something?" he asked.

"Well, Jess, using deductive reasoning, weighing what I know about you versus what I know about Dean, I can safely say that of the two of you, you're the more likely canidate for starting a fight," she said, her tone sarcastic and biting.

"Hey, you can't use my past against me, Rory. And for your information, I didn't do anything to him. I was just minding my own business when he came out of nowhere and told me to stay away from you."

The look on the young Gilmore's face made it clear that she wasn't buying that. "And what did you say to that, Jess?"

"I said no," he responded evenlly.

"Well there was no need to punch him!"

"Hey! He punch me! I was defending myself!"

Rory scoffed. "Whatever."

She turned, storming out of the supply closet and out of his life- at least for the time being.

Lorelai didn't trust that boy at all. Dean, she loved. He was, after all, kind and caring, and wanted nothing more than to make her daughter happy.

It was Jess that she looked at with deep dislike. The way he stared at her like she was nothing more than a piece of meat... it was obvious to Lorelai that Jess cared nothing for her daughter. She had been overjoyed with the way things turned out- Dean was a much better alternative than the sulking teen from New York.

It had been four months since Rory and Jess had spoken. Lorelai had finally convinced her offspring that avoiding Luke's Diner wasn't going to solve anything, so the two were having breakfast one morning before Rory headed off to school at Chilton. Jess wordlessly poured them both a refill of coffee and stepped behind the counter quickly.

Rory sighed. She had to admit, Dean's obvious dislike of Jess could have been a factor in that fight they had had. Something in her remained stubborn, though. She had to believe that Dean would never hurt Jess, or how could she ever trust her boyfriend again?

"Bye, Mom," Rory said, grabbing her backpack and walking out the door.

After that, things happened very quickly.

Jess stared after her, watching her depart. Rory crossed the small-town street to make her way to the bus stop, but suddenly... A car, one that definitely didn't belong on the safe streets of Stars Hollow, had turned the corner onto the very street which Rory was crossing.

Jess ran around the counter, jumped out of the way of a chair, and was out the door before he even knew what he was doing.

Lorelai looked up from her seat where she was finishing her pancakes and gasped loudly.

Jess was running straight toward Rory, who was still oblivious to the car careening in her direction. Grabbing her around the waist, Jess pulled back, hard. They fell to a heap on the sidewalk and watched the car zoom past, not even bothering to stop and see if they were ok.

"Thanks," Rory said, breathing hard. Then she turned around and saw who had just saved her life. "Jess?"

"You ok?" he asked her, running a shaky hand through his hair.

"You just... saved me."

"Are you ok?" he asked again.

"I can't believe you just did that! You couldv'e gotten hurt, Jess!"

Angrily, Jess waved away her words. "Dammit, Rory, just answer me before I go crazy. Are you hurt?"

Shocked, Rory shook her head. "No, I-I'm fine."

"Rory!" Lorelai's voice called, and the next thing the youngest Gilmore knew, her mom was hugging her and examining her for injuries. "You scared me! Are you ok?"

"Yes, yes I'm fine, thanks to Jess," she said, looking over at him. He ducked his head away from Lorelai's stare.

"Thank you," she said, reaching over to hug the bewildered hoodlum.

"Um... sure." Jess patted Lorelai awkwardly on the back and then stood, helping Rory to her feet.

"You sure you're not hurt?" he asked her again, concern still clouding his features.

Rory assured him again that she was ok, and then... "Oh, Jess, I'm so sorry!" she wrapped her arms tightly around him and buried her face in his chest, a gesture that Jess was shocked by, and Lorelai was a little uncomfortable with.

"Me too," he murmmered when he had gotten over the initial shock. He wrapped his arms very tighly around her, pulling her even closer.

Lorelai took two steps backward. "Rory?" she said.

Rory's eyes snapped up to look at her mother. "I was wrong."

She didn't need to say anything more than that. Rory knew what she meant, and smiled in response.

"What?" Jess asked, confused.

"Nothing. I've got something I need to do." Rory began heading in the direction of Doose's Market, and Jess, bewildered, watched her enter the store and leave again a few minutes later, empty handed, grinning from ear to ear.

"Wha-" Jess started, but Rory was already kissing him.

Just a little one-shot for fun, folks. Please review!