Epilogue - Summer of '02
A/N: Hello! As repetitive as it will be for me to apologise once again for being awful at updating regularly and consistently, I'm just going to do so anyway, because I've had such lovely reviews and I'm so sorry that I suck at making myself write. Anyway, the good news is, this is the end, therefore no more waiting for me to stop procrastinating and put pen to paper (metaphorically, of course – fingers to keys doesn't sound as good). Unless, of course, you follow my other stories, in which case all I can do is apologise further.
Mainly, thank you to all of you who have reviewed consistently throughout! It's been a lovely experience, and I wouldn't have been able to do it without all of you, so I'm eternally in your debt.
So, here's to watram, Maiqu, Yellow Words, Curley-Q, Jeremy Shane, Midnight-Gypsy101, Eupa (without whose badgering both online and in person I probably wouldn't have moved past chapter 1), MonisMelody, LiteratiLady, ., LitLover101, Mallikad, Rue Mo, watergurl123, Lara-Van, Sailor-Lit and everyone else who has reviewed! Sorry if I missed you out, these are just some of the names that I see consistently in the review section. And again, sorry if I haven't replied to your reviews, believe me I've read and appreciated every single one, but I have so much stupid work, and most of the time I just want to send each of you a huge thank you, which is most easily expressed communally here.
Oh, and: Ack! I can't write Paris! *bangs head against wall repeatedly*
Disclaimer: For the last time (in this story, anyway...) I own nothing. I think reading through this story will prove that I do not have an ounce of the skill of any of the writers on this show.
Her finger twirls absent-mindedly around the phone chord as Rory listens to the slow, calming drone of the dial tone, scolding herself for feeling nervous. It's not like it's a big deal, calling your boyfriend, right? Even if the last time she'd seen him he'd kissed her in a way that was new to her, even though she'd been in a steady relationship with someone else for over a year before he even came into the picture. Oh great, now I'm blushing, she thought, growing more frustrated with herself.
"Will you just dial already?" Came the ever sympathetic voice of her roommate for the next six weeks – or five weeks, six days and five hours, technically (not that Rory looked forward to the prospect of no longer sharing a room with her) – from across the room.
Sighing, Rory spun round in the hotel chair so that she was facing Paris, "Thanks for your advice."
"Look, this is pathetic, call him. I'm sure he'll drop whatever barbaric, chauvinistic beat poet he's currently engrossed in for the chance to talk to you; you seem to have that kind of effect on guys."
"Shut up, I do not."
"Believe it or not, I saw Farmer John waiting for you like a golden retriever outside Chilton at the end of every after-school Franklin meeting to whisk you away to an afternoon of Jolly Green romance. I picture romantic picnics of leftover stock acquired through his coveted position as bag boy."
Rory glared at Paris, "What is wrong with you? You seem crabbier than usual."
"It was those imbeciles who sat in front of us on the plane; I think my IQ dropped twenty points sitting in front of those simpletons."
"Yeah, well, I think you got your revenge, what with accidentally dropping your hard cover edition of War and Peace on the seat in front of you," Rory shot back, trying to erase that uncomfortable memory from her mind, before remembering Paris' earlier point. "Besides, how do you even know who I'm going to call?"
"Let's see, you broke up with Goliath-"
"Seriously? More Biblical nicknames? I'm beginning to think you just sit around at home thinking up more."
Paris continued, ignoring her, "You've already called your mom and I highly doubt you spend ten minutes deliberating over calling Lane or your Grandparents. That leaves Hemingway."
"Gee, make me sound friendless, why don't you," Rory grumbled, defeated, before raising her hands in surrender. "Okay, okay, I give; I'm dialling," she relented, spinning back around and dialling the sequence of numbers that had been playing in her head for the last half hour.
"Hello?" Despite herself, she smiled upon hearing Jess' voice again.
"Hey," she replied, hoping her voice didn't show her grin.
"Finally!" Paris cried, slumping back onto her bed.
"Ignore her, she's...well, it's Paris, I don't think she needs an excuse," Rory joked, dodging the pen that came flying towards her from Paris' side of the room.
Jess let out a low chuckle, "So, I'm guessing someone had a pretty fun flight."
"Oh yeah, one of the highlights was Paris dropping one of the longest books ever written onto the head of the passenger in front for, and I quote, 'breathing too loudly'."
"It just doesn't get better than that."
"It turns out he had asthma."
"I stand corrected."
"Hey!" Paris' voice sounded again, "Asthma does not excuse inhaling as loudly as a twenty ton vacuum cleaner every other second while I'm trying to re-read my topic cards of conversation prepared for when we meet the senators."
"Are you sure you don't want to switch rooms? I mean, you could end up with a serial killer, but I think that'd still be preferable," Jess replied, having heard Paris' dulcet tones from over the line.
"Bite me, Marlon Brando."
"Paris, you didn't even hear what he said," Rory said, turning back around to talk to her.
"You don't have to be Hercule Poirot to predict some kind of generic sarcastic response."
"I've gotta say, kinda scared for you at the moment," Jess said to Rory, as she took the phone, walking into the bathroom so as not to be interrupted by Paris anymore.
"You're not alone. Only five weeks, six days, four hours, thirty-five minutes to go until I no longer have to sleep with a helmet on."
"It was nice knowing you."
"Gee, thanks, Sir Optimism."
"Any time, Lady Sarcasm."
"I think we've found our superhero names," she quipped. "Ugh, distract me from my six weeks of impending doom, how's the town?"
"As hellish as ever."
"Really earning your superhero name, there."
"When have I ever had anything positive to say about this town?" Beat. "I'm guessing that your silence is an indication that you'd like me to elaborate."
"Over ten word answer, please," Rory pressed, amused, as she sat down against the bathroom, making herself more comfortable.
"Fine. Luke: yells, Kirk: infuriating, Taylor: more so, Patty: terrifying, Babette: loud. Eleven words."
"Talking with you is like pulling teeth."
"I'll take that as a compliment."
"You shouldn't be failing English Lit with as interesting interpretations of insults as that."
"Hey, I resent that, how d'you know I'm failing?"
"Just a wild guess."
Rory sat up straighter, surprised, "What?"
"I'm not failing. Any subject, actually."
"Doesn't that require actually attending school?"
"Huh, guess so," he replied, stoically. "If the next sentence out of your mouth contains the word 'proud', I'm hanging up."
There was a pause, "Am I allowed to say the word in French?"
"Please don't suggest Latin next."
"Well, I only know so many languages, you're kind of limiting me," she replied, grinning like an idiot, before returning to seriousness. "Just...well done, Jess."
"Gilmore!" Paris' voice sounded from the other room, "If you're done trying to figure out who uses more product in their hair – it's him, by the way – could you wrap it up so that we may actually get some sleep?"
Rory rolled her eyes, "Guess that's me spoken for."
"Make sure that helmet you sleep in is as tight as humanly possible."
She chuckled, "Night, Jess."
"Goodnight, Ror," he replied, clicking off.
To: Jess Mariano
From: Rory Gilmore
Subject: If you ever get this...
I have no idea whether you'll ever actually get this, seeing as I've seen Luke's computer and it looks like something out of a Molly Ringwald film, but I'm currently banned from using the phone. That's right: banned; you see, among the interesting things I've learnt while sharing a room with Paris is that she needs to have at least fifteen minutes of silent "cool down" time before she can sleep. Which means that I'm currently trying to type as quietly as possible while she breathes in and out slowly mumbling incoherently – still think you've got the worse deal this summer?
We had to do a debate today, though it was nothing on our Rand/Hemingway arguments, of course. I won't go into it, but it ended in a victorious Paris and a grown man walking out in tears, which I think made her happier. Am hoping things at the Hollow have gotten slightly more entertaining since we last talked and if not, I seem to remember one chalk body outline, several outraged Bambi and Dumbo renters and a multitude of missing baseballs that show that you're perfectly capable of making your own entertainment, so no complaints, okay?
Gotta go, apparently I type too loudly, who knew?
No. of grown men Paris has made cry: Two.
No. of people I'd rather share a room with: I've lost count.
No. of cups of coffee consumed: Eight.
To: Rory Gilmore
From: Jess Mariano
Subject: Re: If you ever get this...
After some confusion on Luke's part as to how to actually turn on this "contraption" – his words, not mine – it's working. Vaguely.
I think the entire contents of your email explain why I don't call you at your hotel: Paris Gellar scares the hell out of me. I don't think even the Gilmore pout could induce me to risk her answering the phone. (Which is probably not true, but I'm trying to retain some masculinity by at least pretending that there are limitations on what that expression can do to me.)
I don't really think you can classify our conversations over Rand and Hemingway as debates, considering they consist of me stating fact and you stubbornly continuing to deny it.
As far as entertainment goes, this town is still about as interesting as the lyrics of a Frankie Goes To Hollywood song. Honestly, the most interesting thing that's happened has been the breaking of a snow cone machine which, I'm sure you'll believe, I had absolutely nothing to do with...
Better go now, this machine is whirring at me and, as much as it would annoy Taylor, I don't want to be responsible for the first electrical explosion Stars Hollow has ever seen.
"You can't tell your own girlfriend's voice? That's just swell, pal."
Jess sighed, "Pleasure as always, Paris."
"Is Rory around?"
"Yes. She also requests that you bite me."
"Paris, are you terrorising my boyfriend again?" asked Rory, towel-drying her hair as she walked out of the bathroom.
"Would you believe me if I denied it?"
"Phone please," Rory said, grabbing the phone from her friend and taking a seat on her bed. "Still there?"
"That right there is why I don't like calling you here."
"And my irresistible charm is why you do so anyway?"
"That, and all my other regular two-oh-two numbers were busy, so..."
"Whatever," Rory scoffed. "Admit it: you miss me."
"And ruin my carefully cultivated reputation? Never."
"I miss you, too," Rory admitted, ignoring the fact that he still hadn't relented.
"Yeah – without your supply of Hemingway novels I've had no way to get to sleep."
"Y'know, I think your over-criticism of the guy is just covering up your burning love for Hemingway," Jess theorised, earning a derisive snort from his girlfriend. He frowned as he heard Luke's muffled shouts coming from the bottom of the staircase. "Hold on a sec," he said, resting the phone on the table as he went to see what it was his irate uncle wanted this time.
Rory settled back onto her bed, strumming her fingers on her desk absent-mindedly as she waited for him to return. Sooner than she expected, she heard movement on the other end of the line, "Well, that was quick."
"Rory?" Came an all-too-familiar voice.
"Kirk?" She replied, her eyebrows knitting together in confusion.
"Yup, it's me. How's Washington? My mother has a friend in Washington, or was it Vermont? I can never remember-"
"Um, Kirk, do you think you should be in Luke and Jess' apartment?" Asked Rory, trying to hold back laughter.
"Well," he said, sounding vaguely puzzled, "I've never really thought about it. I come up here sometimes, when they're busy, I find it oddly calming to-"
"Kirk! What the hell are you doing here?" Rory couldn't stifle her giggles as she heard her startled boyfriend on the other end of the line.
"There's no need to be so angry about it, I was just-"
"Are you using the phone?"
"Yes, have you got anything you'd like me to tell Rory?"
"Kirk, if you don't get out of here, I swear..." Rory heard, before the noise of Kirk retreating, disappointedly as Jess reclaimed the phone.
"I think someone wants to be your new roomie," Rory managed to get out, through laughter.
Jess groaned, "I never thought I'd say this, but I think I'd rather room with Paris."
Rory gasped in mock surprise, "But with Kirk you also get his mother – who else is gonna write your name in your underwear for you?"
"What do you think I have Luke for?"
"I hope to God you're joking."
Jess rolled his eyes as his uncle appeared in the doorway. "Your shift started twenty minutes ago," Luke said, holding up his hand when Jess opened his mouth to reply. "And I don't have time to exchange sarcastic comments – the place is packed, Taylor's trying to use my phone to contact the National Guard about a broken snow cone machine and Kirk just ran out of here as fast as he could for some reason, you're starting your shift now," he finished, before disappearing back down the stairs.
"I'm guessing you heard all that?" Jess asked Rory.
"And I guess you won't let me completely ignore all of it?"
To: Jess Mariano
From: Rory Gilmore
Subject: Re: Re: If you ever get this...
I realise I'm risking turmoil, destruction and general chaos by forcing you to use Luke's computer again, but Paris is using the phone to converse loudly in Portuguese with her Nanny, and you've made it clear that you need regular contact in order to not go insane in my "half-mile, four-block, freakhole of a medical experiment" of a town, so I think I'll risk it.
I'm actually really enjoying Washington now, all the talks are really interesting, there are some really great bookshops around and Paris isn't that bad a roommate when you get used to her. Okay, so that's a bit of an exaggeration, but I've had two years of getting used to her, so it's relatively bearable – even fun at times. No need to sound so surprised.
Oops, gotta go – dinner with the senators, sorry this was so short.
No. of senators who've hid in the bathroom for 20 minutes in order to avoid Paris: Five.
No. of cups of coffee consumed: I've lost count.
No. of weeks left: Two!
To: Rory Gilmore
From: Jess Mariano
Subject: Re: Re: Re: If you ever get this...
Glad you're enjoying Washington, and I maintain that Paris makes a better roommate than Kirk. Who, by the way, has been avoiding the diner during my shifts all week, which has been something of a plus.
You said I wasn't allowed to complain about SH anymore, so instead I'll make up a scenario in which this town would actually be endurable. Taylor has now given up his pathetic reign over the town, and has moved to Alaska where his beard will no longer be mocked because of it's insulation in the cold weather. Kirk's mother has discovered his Vanilla Ice CDs and has grounded him indefinitely. Babette has lost her voice permanently. Miss Patty has finally come out of the closet after years of over-compensation and so now the male species are safe to roam the streets of Stars Hollow once again. Happy now?
And, at the risk of sounding like Luke, maybe you should limit the coffee intake so that you may just survive until your homecoming.
Rory smiled as she entered her room, arms weighed down by book-filled bags, realising that, for the first time in weeks, she had her hotel room all to herself as Paris had decided to attempt to follow a senator who'd refused to respond to the second part of her third proposal. Revelling in the privacy, she let her bags drop to the floor (in such a way as not to damage the books inside, of course) as she took a seat on her bed and picked up the phone, dialling the number she'd gotten used to calling over the past few weeks.
Rory frowned slightly in confusion, "Mom?"
"No, this is Jess. The funniest thing happened to me today, I woke up and found that somehow overnight I'd magically transformed into a woman! I know this may make things a bit awkward for us, but-"
"You should have your own stand-up comedy show," Rory deadpanned.
"This comedy gold is all for you, baby," Lorelai quipped back.
"So, how come you're answering the phone?"
"As a matter of fact, I'm being cooked for at the moment," Lorelai replied, and Rory noted with happiness the contentedness in her mother's tone.
"Oh, I'm sorry, am I interrupting?"
"No, it's fine, in fact your helping to distract me from trying to interfere."
Rory heard Luke's voice cut in, "Rory, please, keep her occupied – she's a hindrance to the process."
"Apparently, I'm a danger to myself and others around me," Lorelai relayed in a satisfied tone.
"Oh, no! Did he let you try to help?" Rory replied in a tone of mock horror.
"All I did was stir something!"
"And the plate next to the pot I was stirring just happened to slide off the side and shatter on the floor by itself."
"Honestly, Luke should know you better than to allow you within five feet of any food when it's mid-preparation."
"He's naive, he'll learn over time."
"So, I'm guessing that my boyfriend isn't around."
"No, he's probably skulking somewhere."
"Maybe kicking a few puppies."
"Making obscene gestures at nuns, that kind of thing."
"Do you ever stop?"
"Huh," Lorelai said, remembering something Rory had said earlier.
"It's just...it still feels weird, you calling him 'boyfriend'," she replied, honestly.
"What should I call him? My gentleman caller?" Rory teased.
"I guess it's not you calling him that, it's the way you say it, with that newlywed 'I can't believe I get to refer to him in this way' kind of expression."
Rory shrugged, "I'm happy, mom."
"Me too, kid," Lorelai said, smiling as she watched Luke, still busy preparing the food.
"I guess I should let you get back to your date," Rory said, reluctantly. "I'll see you in a week mom, and remember – no more cooking, or anything resembling it!"
"Darn, there goes my favourite activity," Lorelai replied, sarcastically. "See you, kid."
Seeing as I'm writing this letter during my last week here, I'm not expecting a reply, but since I'm currently trapped in a closet I felt I might as well write. Yup, you read that correctly, and while you've probably already figured out that it's something to do with Paris, I'll fill in the blanks for you. Paris has a date.
Yes, you read that correctly, also. There's this guy called Jaime who, despite attending Princeton which is apparently a major shortcoming, is pretty perfect for her. If you're wondering how this leads to me being shut in a closet, Jaime's just about to pick her up and, according to Paris, I'm looking too 'dateable' to be allowed to be visible at the moment. And so ends the last story you'll hear of the craziness of Paris Gellar because, for one you're probably sick of them by now, and more importantly I only have three more days of sharing a room with her.
Which brings me to my reason for actually writing this thing – I'm coming home soon! Now, I figure you're not exactly going to want to tag along to the Summer Insanity Festival with me and mom, but I should be able to get away eventually, so what do you say to the bridge at five? I promise not to insult Hemingway if you elaborate on the endurable Stars Hollow scenario that you outlined in your email.
Hope to see you then,
He wasn't checking his watch.
He knew that it would bear the same message of 17:02 as it had when he'd checked a few seconds ago, and looking again would just make him feel more pathetic for showing up fifteen minutes early and feeling impatient when she was two minutes late. Instead, Jess focussed resolutely on his book, staring at the words without taking anything in, but that didn't matter, all that mattered was that he wasn't looking at that stupid time piece again. Because that would be pathetic.
Eventually, he rolled his sleeves up and, in doing so, couldn't help but notice that it was now 17:03. Huh.
Okay, so maybe he was a little pathetic. It'd been six weeks, four emails, one letter and several phone calls since he'd seen the only interesting person in this town, and that was enough to make anyone crazy. Now, if it wasn't for the fact that she was – his eyes flicked back to the offending object without his permission – four minutes later than she'd said she'd be, he could have regained his sanity by now. He contemplated reaching for a cigarette.
He quickly decided against this as, after the longest – he wasn't going to look – five minutes of his life, he heard footsteps approaching him. Refusing to show the fact that he was currently doing backflips on the inside, he remained staring at his book until she broke the silence.
"Excuse me, I don't think I've seen you around these parts before," Rory joked, smirking down at him. Apparently, six weeks had served to her make her eyes an even brighter blue than before. Either that, or he'd somehow forgotten their exact deep cerulean colour – he resolved never to do so again.
"Huh, how strange," he said, playing along.
"I guess you just don't look like the kind of guy who'd want to live in this town."
"I have my reasons," he replied, ambiguously, his trademark smirk back and better than ever.
Rory grinned, lowering herself to the ground as she took a seat next to him, "And what would those be?"
By form of an answer, Jess pulled her in for a kiss; she happily responded, wrapping her arms around his shoulders as he pulled her in by the waist. It was less gentle than she was used to, and she responded with equal fervour as she felt the effect of a long summer of separation. Feeling his tongue skim her bottom lip, she instantly granted access, allowing him to familiarise himself with the contours of her mouth once again. Breathless and flushed, she pulled back, needing air.
"Good answer," she said, after regaining oxygen.
"I thought so," he agreed, leaving an arm wrapped around her shoulder as she leaned into him. He inhaled slowly, relishing the familiar scent of vanilla and coffee.
She turned to face him again. "So, you didn't miss me that much, then?" she teased, a smirk playing on her lips, causing him to pull her back in for another, slightly gentler kiss.
After a few more enjoyable minutes of what Lorelai would maturely describe as 'tonsil hockey', Rory pulled back again, resting her head on Jess' shoulder so that she could see what he'd been reading.
When she read the title, she let out a peal of triumphant laughter. "So, what happened to Rand being a political nut?" she teased, still looking down at The Fountainhead.
"There's still no debating that, I just thought I'd give it another try while you were away," he responded, starting to wish he'd thought before bringing that damn book.
"Ha! You so missed me," she teased, wrapping an arm around his waist and positioning her head on his shoulder so as to get a better look at the book. "So, how far did you get up to?" She asked, and he flipped to the relevant page.
After a few moments of silence, he asked, "What are you doing?"
"Reading, of course. C'mon, we can read it together," Rory said, her eyes still glued to the page as she grabbed one side of the book.
Not entirely satisfied with reading the works of someone who was, in his humble opinion, clinically insane during the first time he'd seen his girlfriend all summer, he opted for Plan B: distraction.
Rory found her concentration slipping as Jess started to kiss his way up her neck, suppressing a gasp as he bit down on the soft skin of her neck. Stubbornly, she kept her gaze firmly on the book, trying not to let her voice waver as she said, "Nice try, Mariano."
However, despite her best efforts, hers was a lost cause as soon as he found that spot behind her ear and, without a second thought, the book was discarded onto the side of the bridge as she focussed her full attention back onto her boyfriend.
God, she loved that word.
(And it only took around two years.)
Okay, there's a reason that, in my stories, Rory and Jess generally don't get together until the very end, because I never really know what to do with them once they're actually together, but I'm hoping this was okay, and not as boring as I thought it was.
Oh, and because of how stupid this website is about putting links, I couldn't put actual email adresses in the From: and To: parts of the email adress, which was annoying, because it makes it look less like an actual email, but oh well.
Thank you for reading this far, and I beg that you review.
But, more importantly MERRY CHRISTMAS!