A/N: From "A Family Matter" in Season 4. What if Jess didn't go inside? I own nothing. R&R!
"Is he going to freeze?" Rory asked her mother, still shocked from seeing Jess asleep in the backseat of his car.
"I don't think so. Luke must know he's out here."
"Look." Rory motioned. "He's shivering!" Jess stirred, and opened his eyes. He looked at Rory, and struggled to get up. He managed to open the door, but couldn't get out of the car.
"Jess." Rory spoke his name, and he lifted his head. "Doesn't Luke know you're out here?"
"He's...not here." Jess shivered between coughs.
"Jess!" Rory said reprovingly. "You could've broken into the diner. I know you're capable of it."
"Maybe......I didn't....want..." Jess tried to stand, but fell back into his car. He coughed violently. Rory shed her coat and Lorelai did the same. They wrapped them around Jess and between the two of them, managed to get him into the front seat of the Jeep. Rory climbed into the back, and Lorelai drove to the hospital.
Jess was admitted with a cold, and a slight case of hypothermia. "Is he going to be okay?" Rory asked the doctor.
"With lots of TLC, he'll be just fine."
"Okay." Rory nodded. She sat on the edge of Jess's bed. He stirred, coughing. "Whoa, Jess! Take it easy."
"Where...." Jess asked.
"You're in the hospital. Mom and I brought you. Where did Luke go?"
"To Nic-coles...." Jess coughed. "I guess."
"Okay." Lorelai nodded. She went into the hallway and called 411 for a listing for Nicole Leahy. She was connected and Nicole answered the phone.
"Hi, Nicole, this is Lorelai, Luke's friend from Stars Hollow?" Lorelai said. "Listen, is Luke there? I need to talk to him. It's about his nephew."
"Sure." Nicole said.
"Lorelai?" Luke came on the line. "What's up with Jess?"
"Did you know he was outside, in the backseat of his car, when it's ten degrees out?"
"I left the key in the normal spot. He didn't go inside?"
"Because he didn't want to something. I don't know why, because he nearly passed out on us. We took him to the hospital. You need to be here. He has hypothermia."
"I'll be right there."
Fifteen minutes later, Luke entered Jess's room. The doctor explained what was wrong with Jess. "But with some warmth and care, he'll be just fine."
"Okay." Luke nodded, and the doctor left. "This is all my fault." Luke lamented to Lorelai. "I should've made him go inside."
"Luke, you know Jess doesn't do what he doesn't want to." Lorelai whispered.
"I know." Luke said softly.
"I can hear what you're saying...." Jess coughed. "Just to let you know." He closed his eyes and tried to focus on keeping the coughing down. He swallowed painfully, and the effort brought tears to his eyes. Rory couldn't help but think how small Jess seemed.
"Jess." Rory said quietly. "Why didn't you go inside?"
"Because..." he inhaled, and coughed. "I didn't want to be a burden."
"I'm always trouble for everyone. I just wanted to get my car and get out of everyone's way."
"Jess--you're never a burden." Rory laced her fingers through his. He cocked an eyebrow at her, and she smiled ruefully. "Fine. Sometimes, you are. But that doesn't mean I don't love you."
"You do?" Jess asked, surprised.
"Yes. I love you very much, and I don't want anything bad to happen to you."
"I...." Jess coughed violently, and caught his breath. "I love you too."
"Good. Now that that's settled, here." Rory turned around and laid down beside Jess. He wrapped one arm around her, and she took his still ice-cold hand into hers. Lorelai and Luke quickly exited the room.
"I'm sorry everything got messed up." Jess whispered in her ear. His eyelids drooped and he was soon asleep. Rory lay there awhile, content with the rhythm of Jess's body so close. She knew that they were safe, and that they were together. She also knew that everything would be okay.