There's The Rub
Summary: There's The Rub with a few...subtle differences: Paris never stayed and Dean arrived earlier than in the show.
A/N: Just a warning to any readers: This chapter contains a lot of dialogue from the actual episode but, if anyone wants to read on, I won't be using anymore in future chapters (if I continue).
Disclaimer: I own nothing, feel free to search me for confirmation.
Change Of Plans
'Love means never having to say you're sorry.'
What a load of crap.
'Love means having to say you're sorry a lot'?
'Love means having to say you're sorry even when you don't mean it'?
'Love means having to say you're sorry at least four times a week, ninety percent of the time not meaning it and the other ten percent of the time not paying attention enough to know what you're apologising for'?
These were Jess Mariano's thoughts as he listened to Rory plough diligently through the routine apologies directed towards her boyfriend, Frankenstein II (or Dean, because Jess doubted he could get through that many syllables when introducing himself). He was thinking this because, for a couple supposedly "in love" – as Rory insisted they were whenever the topic came up – there was certainly a lot of dispute, which were apparently all Rory's fault since she ended up apologising for most of them. The reason Jess had such an extensive knowledge of their disputes were because he was present for a lot of them, owing to the fact that – and he acknowledged this with some pride – he seemed to be the cause of most of them.
Yup, the majority of the arguments started with "What's he doing here?" or "Why are you with him again?" or, on this occasion, "I thought you said you wanted to be alone tonight", all executed with the same childish, whiny expression, reminiscent to that of a three year old deprived of the toy advertised of TV that would 'complete their collection' until the next piece of plastic crap came out. But, no matter how they started, these little disagreements always served to amuse and amaze Jess. Amuse because, well...Dean's angry expression alone was enough to warrant laughter and amaze because it was getting harder and harder to understand why Rory – intelligent, beautiful Rory – would ever care to associate herself with someone whose logic was more erratic than his mood and whose literary knowledge extended to Sports Illustrated and Dr Seuss.
This particular fight had started with a care package...
-Earlier that evening-
"Another half hour, please!" Paris was practically beginning now, despite the fact that they'd been over everything she'd brought with her and Rory had yet to find one gap in her knowledge.
"No, you had your hour, you need to go, my food'll be here soon." Rory persisted, gradually guiding Paris towards the door, hoping to salvage something of her evening alone.
"Fine," Paris hesitated, "where are my flash cards?"
Rory rolled her eyes, "Under the coffee table: you threw them there when I didn't correct you down to the word on one of the answers."
"Well, you've gotta be precise to get-"
"Here," Rory thrust the cards into her hands, redirecting her to the door once again, "now can you please leave?"
"Fine, I'm going, I'm going." Paris relented, giving in and heading for the door.
"I'll see you at school on Monday." Rory said, relieved as she heard the door close.
She looked at the clock; 'Only 5:30,' she thought. She sank back down onto the couch, feeling the familiar drained feeling that she got from any extended time with Paris. She grabbed a book from the coffee table, sinking further into the warmth of the sofa as she relaxed a bit. She grinned, seeing the familiar writing in the margins of her book; she knew that handwriting anywhere, she came across it so often in her books: it was always neat, but at the same time looking quite rushed, as if his hand couldn't keep up with the ideas in his head. Rory felt a slight pang of guilt when she realised that she had no idea what Dean's – he boyfriend's – handwriting looked like, but she shrugged it off, figuring he didn't like writing that much, anyway.
Lately, Rory had come to realise that she paid less attention to the actual printed text than before, her eyes tearing carefully across the slanted notes, instead, marvelling over the thought he put into them, and the intelligent insight expressed, making her wonder why he was flunking around half of his classes.
The doorbell jolted her out of her thoughts, and she got up quickly, urged on by her empty stomach. However, when she opened the door, it wasn't the friendly delivery guy from Sandeep's, but none other than the owner of the cursive she'd been looking over moments before, carrying – her stomach grumbled – a rather large crate of food.
"Delivery." Jess said, casually, as if he hadn't just showed up on her doorstep out of the blue.
"What are you doing here?" she demanded, her tone not matching the happy feeling in her stomach that she usually got when in close proximity to him.
"Well, Luke figured that since you were alone tonight that maybe you wouldn't have any food in the house, so he sent over a care package."
"I-I don't need a care package," Rory stuttered out, "I ordered food from Sandeep's."
"Really? Planning on burning down the house afterwards?"
"Jess..." she said, holding back the smile at hearing the same words from him that her mother had told her earlier; wouldn't Lorelai just love that?
"The only way to kill the smell. Where should I put this?"
"Kitchen?" he said, moving past Rory, into the house.
"Um...sure." she mumbled, as if her affirmative would have had any effect on his going into the house.
Following him into the kitchen, she took another look at the food, "God how much food is in there?" she wondered aloud, "This could feed twelve."
"Excuse me, I've seen you eat."
"Fine, six." she conceded.
"Yeah, well, he wanted you taken care of, he wasn't sure how long your mom was gonna be gone for."
"Huh, he didn't know that."
"Well, now you can tell him."
There was a pause. Rory wasn't quite sure why he was lingering but, to be honest with herself, his presence wasn't exactly unwanted.
"So how come Caesar didn't bring this over?"
Rory raised her eyebrows, "Why?" she pressed.
"Just wanted to get out of the construction zone, there's nothing but banging and yelling; place gives me a headache."
"Oh." Rory said, hoping she hid her disappointment a little better than she thought she did.
A sly grin appeared on Jess' face, "Why – did you think I wanted to come over here and see you?"
"No." Rory said, trying to hide a blush.
"Just needed some quiet."
"That is all."
"Clear my head."
"So, aren't you gonna eat?" he asked.
"Eventually." Rory replied, the smell of the fries beginning to get to her.
"It gets cold fast."
"I can heat it up."
"Reheated French fries really suck."
"Hm, they do suck."
"Okay, I will." Rory agreed, waiting for him to begin to make his way out of the house. After a pause she decided he needed a prompt, "You're still standing there."
"I know, you didn't give me a tip."
"You want money?"
"No, I'll take a fry though."
"Okay, yeah, have as much as you want."
"Okay, great." He said, advancing further into the room and taking off his jacket, revealing the muscles that Rory told herself she only ever noticed by accident.
"What are you doing?" asked Rory, taken aback.
"Getting ready to eat." Jess said, as if it was obvious.
"You're staying?" Rory asked, feeling a hint of nervousness at the prospect of an evening alone with Jess. Alone.
"Didn't you just invite me?" he asked, with the confidence she was both annoyed and amused by.
"No, you told me to have all I wanted. That sounded invitation-like."
"You wanna stay here and eat?"
"Beats being at Luke's."
"But..." Rory started, trying to find an excuse, any excuse that would get Jess – cute, well-read Jess – out of her kitchen, "you said you wanted quiet."
"Got enough quiet on the way over, besides it's cold out there and I'm hungry." He said, sitting down and pulling out some fries.
"But- okay, fine, if you wanna stay, stay, whatever." She said, giving into the part of her that felt alive whenever Jess was around, the part of her that wasn't screaming 'You've got a boyfriend! A boyfriend who you told not to come round tonight because you wanted to be alone!'
She took a seat next to Jess, grabbing the burger he'd just picked up out of his hands and taking a bite.
Jess chuckled, looking at the space where the burger had just been, "C'mon, Rory, is that really in the Star's Hollow code of conduct?"
Rory shrugged, grinning, "I thought the food was s'posed to be for me." She took another large bit out of the burger.
"Huh, guess you right." Jess said, with a mock pout, before grabbing the burger back.
"Hey!" Rory shot him a glare, "And don't joke about the Star's Hollow code of conduct, Taylor took a long time writing that."
Jess stared at her in disbelief, "Please tell me you're kidding, there can't actually be a- you're kidding, right?"
Rory just smirked at him, before taking one of his fries.
They'd lapsed into their usual banter, happily enjoying the food and each other's company, with the occasional lingering stare leading to a short silence usually broken by Rory. Jess knew Rory could have gotten rid of him if she wanted to, which put him in quite a good mood for a guy who'd been hit in the head by falling ceiling rubble at least six times earlier that day.
Then the phone call came.
Jess knew who it was immediately: Rory's surprised "Oh, hey," and the nervous darting of her eyes towards him told him that it was none of than Dean. 'Great,' he thought, 'there's one way to spoil an evening.' He rolled his eyes as he gathered from the snippets he could hear of what Rory was saying (she'd taken the phone into the hall) that the jolly green giant was on his way over. Jess was about to go over and put his coat on, sparing Rory the trouble of asking him to leave when a thought struck him: 'Maybe I can have a little fun with this.'
He was thinking this as Rory re-entered the room, worry written on her face as she grabbed his coat and held it up for him, "Wow, you know, I just noticed the time, and it's getting really late."
Jess looked down at his watch, "It's seven o'clock."
"I know but I- I have studying to do and...um, laundry."
"Who was on the phone?"
"No one wouldn't happen to be heading over here right now, would he?"
"Why don't you want him to see me here?"
Rory cast her gaze around, flustered, "You know why."
"We're just eating dinner."
"Jess, I'm asking you as a friend, just please leave now."
"You really want me to go?"
She paused, looked at him, "I really want to avoid a fight with Dean."
"Okay, I'm going." He said, allowing her to force his jacket onto him, smirking at the unnecessary contact.
"Thank you." She sighed, relieved.
Jess made an over dramatic stumble on his way out, "Ow!" he cried, "I think I just twisted my ankle, I better go lie down." He said, unable to keep the laughter out of his voice.
"Jess!" she cried, exasperated, then her expression turned to panic when the doorbell rang.
"D'you want me to get that?" Jess asked, casually, after a pause.
"Shhhh!" Rory said, snapping into action, "Just- just get in there!" she whispered, shoving Jess into her room and shutting the door before rushing to the front door.
She took a deep breath and tried to calm her nerves, putting on a smile as she opened the door, "Hey!" she said, trying to sound pleasantly surprised, leaning in for a quick peck.
"Hey, what's going on? I thought I heard voices." He said, coming in.
"Errr... that was just the um, TV."
"Okay..." he grinned, "I brought some ice cream, wanna go into the kitchen and have a bit?"
"Err...okay," she said, before remembering the Luke's food laid out there and the boy shut in the adjacent room, "No, wait!" she cried.
Dean looked at her, a confused frown on his face, "What?"
She quickly took hold of his arm and pulled him back towards the sofa, "Nothing, it's just the err...the couch is way comfier than the kitchen chairs, we can eat there."
"Okay, I guess we can- what was that?" a bang had just sounded from Rory's room.
Rory gasped, panic spreading through her, "N-nothing, a book probably just fell, that happens a lot."
He looked at her suspiciously, "Okay..."
She breathed a long sigh of relief.
There was a huge crash, followed by several others and a loud, "Ow!"
Dean shot up, heading straight for Rory's room, "Dean, wait, please, just-"
But he had already flung the door open, revealing a rather sheepish looking Jess, surrounded by a large pile of books on the floor. He looked up at Dean and waved sarcastically; Rory tried not to laugh.
Dean turned to Rory and said, through clenched teeth, "I thought you wanted to be alone tonight."
To be continued? Maybe? Not sure yet.
A/N: Sorry for all the lines taken from the show, I won't be errr..."borrowing" them anymore after this chapter. Please review and tell me what you think.