Everything will be alright
Rory finally snaps out of her daze when Paris leaves on another bus, complaining loudly about the fact that her friend is abandoning her and will possibly be causing her untimely demise when she refuses to accompany her on that death trap.
Rory ignores her and hurriedly goes in search of Jess, hoping to be able to apologize. She still doesn't know what made her lash out the way she did, but she really wants to fix it. She hates this feeling.
At the diner Luke is swamped and gruffly tells her to send Jess over the minute she finds him. He is, understandably, angry, and Rory feels a surge of guilt since she is pretty sure she's the reason Jess never showed up for his shift.
She stammers her way through a request to go and check the apartment and all but runs up the stairs. She deflates a little when she opens the door and he's not there. She hurries down the stairs again, ignoring Luke when he asks if she wants something to eat.
The bridge is deserted, and in the bookstore she only finds Andrew behind the counter. When she works up the courage to ask if Jess has been there he shakes his head with a frown. She scours the town next, any place she can even remotely picture him in, but it's starting to dawn on her that fixing this might be easier said than done because Jess is nowhere to be found.
Instead she dejectedly walks home, too late realizing that she's completely forgotten about her grandfather. She runs the last two blocks and is completely out of breath when she enters the house. She finds her mother alone, sitting on the couch with an almost forlorn expression.
"Mom?" she asks carefully. "What's wrong? Where's grandpa?"
Rory frowns. She knows she's late, but she didn't think he would've left already. "Oh."
"Yeah," Lorelai nods and then sighs. "But not before telling me some hard truths."
"Oh? What's that?" Rory asks, frowning, wondering what could have her mother so down.
"Well…you know what, it's nothing important," her mother dismisses it, then narrows her eyes at Rory. "What I want to know is why you didn't come home when you said you would."
"Oh, um…I got stuck with Paris," Rory stammers uncomfortably, avoiding eye contact. She isn't sure how to explain her picking a fight with Jess over such a silly thing as one of Taylor's ideas, even if it was on her expense.
Unfortunately, Lorelai isn't that easily fooled. "And…" she prods.
"And what?" Rory asks, trying to sound confused, but failing spectacularly.
"Did something happen at school?" Lorelai asks, frowning. "No, after school? And if it wasn't Paris, then… Jess?"
"Well…" Rory mumbles, trying to find the words to explain it to her mother.
But Lorelai has already drawn her own conclusion. "What did he do?" she demands. "Tell me, did…"
"No!" Rory quickly interrupts. "He didn't do anything! I did."
"What?" her mother asks, eyes wide in surprise. "What happened?"
So Rory sighs and starts telling the story. How Paris dragged her to Stars Hollow looking for something amiss, how Jess showed up with coffee and an idea for a story, how they found Taylor and the Rory curtain and finally how she attacked Jess for something as ridiculous as not telling her beforehand. Lorelai listens in silence.
"And now I've been everywhere I can think of, and I can't find him. I hate this, and I just want to fix it, but I don't know how to find him, and even if I did, I have no idea what to tell him. I don't even know why I got so upset. It was like I just kept digging myself a deeper hole, and…"
"Hey," Lorelai cuts her off. "Calm down, honey."
"But I can't calm down!" Rory protests. "I have to find Jess. I have to make this right. I have…"
"To sit still and just relax for a while," her mother fills in.
"My guess is that Jess doesn't want to be found right now, and I'm pretty sure you won't be able to until he lets you."
"But…" Rory tries again, only to once more be silenced.
"So, until then, all you can do is wait and try to think this through, because if you really want to make this right, then you need to figure out what this was all about."
Rory finally nods, hearing the logic in what her mother is saying. "You're probably right."
"Of course I am," Lorelai smiles proudly, and Rory can't help but roll her eyes good naturedly at her.
"Don't let it get to your head," she warns.
"Oh, it's way too late for that, honey" her mother grins.
Rory just rolls her eyes at her again, but then sighs, falling back against the couch. "So, how do I do this?"
"Well," Lorelai says slowly. "You gotta try to think about anything that's made you upset lately, even if it's just something small, and see if you can figure out which of those things made you go off the handle."
"Yeah," Rory sighs, knowing her mother is right.
"My guess is you already know," Lorelai adds, watching her daughter intently.
"No!" Rory exclaims, shaking her head, but not looking directly at her mother. "I don't! Why would I start yelling at him like that if I knew? Then I could've just done something about it instead."
"Maybe," Lorelai shrugs. "Anyway, I'll let you think about it while I go and get dinner." She pats Rory's knee and then gets up from the couch, and almost before Rory has had time to react she's out the door.
And then Rory is alone with her thoughts and a suspicion that's only grown stronger during her talk with her mother. But it's something that makes her more than a little uncomfortable to think about, and she doesn't really know how to explain it to her mother if she asks. Or to Jess. She can't even explain it to herself.
It's something that's been building ever since that night at the Bracebridge dinner. There's something that's been missing lately, and it's obviously affected her more than she thought. Not that she's not happy with Jess, because she is, very much so. But she sometimes wishes they didn't have to…stop.
But…how do you bring something like that up? Especially since she still can't talk about It without blushing. Which is so annoying, because she wants to. She really wants to.
The irony isn't lost on her. She wanted them to get closer again, and in her frustration she only managed to push him away.
When her mother gets back home Rory is still sitting on the couch, but there's a new determination in her eyes, in her whole body, and Lorelai can't help but smile.
"I see you figured it out," she states, startling Rory out of her thoughts.
"Oh. Yeah," she confirms, suddenly feeling all kinds of self-conscious.
"Want to discuss it over Chinese?"
Rory hesitates, but then nods awkwardly. "Yeah."
"Ok," Lorelai nods, eyeing her with a frown, but doesn't push. She knows she will get the details soon, but is starting to think that maybe it will be something she's not quite comfortable with.
Rory unpacks all the food, filling the coffee table to the brim and getting more and more nervous by the second, while her mother gets forks and glasses from the kitchen. When they sit down to eat Rory is almost shaking. Lorelai doesn't say anything about it, even though it's obvious something is definitely making her daughter all kinds of uneasy. Instead she starts a movie, figuring a distraction will be good. They eat in silence for a while, neither really watching the movie, but eventually Rory puts her fork down.
"Mom?" she says quietly, turning slightly towards her.
"Yes, Hon?" Lorelai questions, mirroring her daughter's actions.
"I…" Rory begins, then takes a deep breath. "I'm not sure how to say this. It's…"
"Just saying it is usually the best way," Lorelai advices, trying to keep her facial expression neutral and sympathetic, not letting on the apprehension she's feeling about the conversation that's about to happen.
"I've been getting…frustrated lately," Rory mumbles, not meeting her mother's eyes, feeling the tell-tale blush start to creep up her cheeks.
"Frustrated?" Lorelai asks, almost holding her breath in anticipation of what she now knows is coming.
"Yeah," Rory nods. "Ever since a couple days after the Bracebridge dinner…" she elaborates, hoping not to have to spell it out more than that.
"Gotcha," Lorelai nods, not surprised, but still taking a much needed calming breath. "So…since then, there's been no…"
Rory shakes her head. "Not really, no."
"What?" Rory frowns.
"Nothing. I just thought… Well, since the first time was done and over with so to speak, I kinda assumed you'd have…"
"Yeah, well…it's not that easy," Rory sighs. "I mean, at the apartment, Luke can come up at any moment, and very often do, so that's out of the question. And here… Well, I never know exactly when you'll be home, and the list of available places sort of ends there. So…"
"I know, it's crazy," Rory sighs. "And it's not like I'm unhappy. I just…get frustrated, sometimes."
Lorelai nods and then takes a deep breath before asking her next question. "Have you tried talking to Jess about this?"
"No!" Rory bursts out, hiding her face in her hands. "Which is probably why I went off the way I did earlier. I just… I don't know how to bring it up."
Lorelai sighs, the idea of her daughter being sexually active not something she really wants to think about, but at the same time, she doesn't want her to be this awkward about it. After all, it is a completely natural thing, and she should be able to talk about it. "You're just gonna have to figure it out," she finally says.
"I know," Rory mumbles, then looks up with slightly widened eyes. "But…what if he doesn't want to…?" she says quietly.
"Uh…" Lorelai stumbles, staring at her daughter in disbelief. "First off, he's a teenage boy. Second, he's completely in love with you. He'd probably quite literally do anything for you, so I'm pretty sure 'not wanting to' is the least of your problems."
"I…" Rory blushes, ducking her head. "Then why…"
Lorelai quirks an eyebrow at her daughter's awkward hand gestures. "Why hasn't he brought it up?"
"I can't answer that," Lorelai says, shaking her head.
"Yeah," Rory nods, then sighs. "So…I'm just gonna have to suck it up and talk about it, huh?"
"Pretty much," Lorelai agrees.
Rory sighs, leaning back against the couch. "Oh well, anything will be better than being in a fight."
"Too true!" Lorelai agrees wholeheartedly. "So…you feel any better now?"
"Maybe a little," Rory says with a small attempt of a smile. "I just hate this, not knowing where we stand, you know?"
"Yeah, I can understand that," Lorelai nods.
"And it doesn't help that I can't even find him," Rory sighs. "How am I supposed to apologize and make this better if he won't even let me talk to him?"
"I'm sure he will turn up again soon," her mother assures her, putting her hand on her arm reassuringly.
"Thanks, mom," Rory says, this time smiling more genuinely.
"That's more like it!" Lorelai grins, then leans in conspiratorially. "And if he doesn't, always look in the least likely places."
"I'll be sure to remember that," Rory grins back, feeling slightly better at least.
"So...before we dive back into the food," her mother says then, suddenly more serious again. "I just want you to know that my offer still stands. You know, if you want me to stay out late one evening, or spend the night at Sookie's, or you know, something like that. It can be arranged, just…let me know, ok?"
"Oh. Ok," Rory mumbles, taken completely by surprise at the change in the conversation, and suddenly extremely embarrassed. She's been so focused on figuring out the problem and fixing it, that she hasn't even started thinking about a solution. "Um...thanks."
"Oh, well…what are cool moms for, huh?" Lorelai grins, even though it feels a little bit forced. "Ok, let's eat!"
Rory rolls her eyes, but can't help smiling. Everything will be alright. At least she hopes so.