A/N: Okay, I've been writing fanfiction for a while, but I just recently got into Gilmore Girls. I haven't seen all the episodes yet, so I'm kind of winging it from the dozen episodes and clips I've seen and the synopses I've read. Hope you enjoy!
November 4th, 2008
She compared the present insanity of Chicago to New Orleans at Mardi Gras, Boston after the Red Sox won the Series, and New York on New Year's. McCain had just conceded and Barack Obama was the President Elect of the United States. People were celebrating in the streets, waving flags, and even kissing perfect strangers.
Rory looked down at her phone and smiled. "Hey, Amelia. Sorry."
"No, you're not!" her friend replied in fake vehemence.
"You're right. I'm not sorry he won, but I'm sure you're warmer than I am right now."
"This is so true. Are people dancing in the streets? It sounds like people are dancing in the streets."
"They're doing more than dancing."
"Don't have too much fun. Are you going to cover the inauguration?"
"Then I'll see you in January. I'm going back to Tulsa for the holidays."
"I'm going home too. Say hi to your parents for me."
"Only if you promise to say hi to your mom and Luke."
Her heart almost stopped, but not because of Amelia's request. She saw a familiar face in the mass of people. A girl grabbed him and kissed him, to his obvious surprise. She wasn't sure, but she thought their eyes met for a fraction of a second. She quickly turned and started walking the other direction.
"Rory? Are you there? You haven't lost your phone again, have you?"
"No, no, I just thought I saw someone I knew."
"Was it that writer guy you're always talking about?"
"I don't always talk about him."
"You do when you've had more than one glass of wine."
"It was probably just someone who looks like him. He lives in Philadelphia, not Chicago."
Fingers tapped on her shoulder and she turned instinctually. Lips pressed to hers and a hand cupped her face while another pressed into the small of her back. She pulled him closer without even thinking as the kiss became deeper and more frenzied. Abruptly it stopped and she looked up into Jess Mariano's dark, brooding eyes.
"Drive safe," he whispered before turning and disappearing into the crowd.
She robotically lifted the phone back to her ear to once again hear her friend's confused questions. "Amelia, I'm gonna have to call you back," she said blankly.
"Okay. I'm going to New York to watch the ball drop this year. We should get together."
"Yeah, sure," Rory replied automatically.
She ended the call and then hit the first number on her speed dial.
"Hey, sweets!" Lorelai Gilmore's voice greeted cheerily. "You must be thrilled you've been traipsing after the winner for the last year and a half!"
"M-m-mom?" Rory said shakily as she sunk to the stone steps of a random building."
"Baby, what's wrong?"
"Jess is officially uninvited from the wedding," Lorelai announced as she dropped the phone into her fiancé's lap.
"He's the best man. He can't be uninvited," Luke replied, placing the phone in front of him on the coffee table and not looking away from the muted television.
Lorelai plopped down next to him on the couch and angrily said, "Why the hell did you make that hooligan your best man?"
"Because he's the only man in the world I half-way like. And 'hooligan'? How much time have you been spending with Taylor lately?"
"No more than necessary. Look, Rory's presence is non-negotiable, but Jess can definitely be replaced."
"What has he done now?"
"He made out with Rory in the street, said, 'drive safe,' and walked away."
Luke just blinked.
"Apparently, she did something like that to him at some point," Lorelai answered his unspoken question, "but taking revenge like that is just malicious and it's been like six years and—"
"Oh. My. God."
"Look at the screen."
Lorelai's mouth gaped at what she saw. The headline said the reporter was broadcasting live from Chicago. Just over his shoulder was a young man standing still and looking at his shoes amongst a manic crowd.
"He has scruff."
"I see that," Luke said as he picked up the phone and punched in the numbers.
It was stupid, mean, and completely unnecessary. He and Rory had been trapped in a vicious circle of doing horrible things to one another while trying unsuccessfully to prove how much they cared for each other for years. He'd acted on a spiteful impulse the moment he laid eyes on her. The circle might have just ended on hate and would never come back around to love.
He didn't realize he was in the middle of the street crying until his phone started buzzing in his jacket pocket. He took a deep breath and answered, "Hello."
"Jess, why are you in Chicago?"
"Look to your left, kid."
Jess turned his head to see the reporter and camera crew in jackets labeled CNN. "Shit mother fucker," he muttered as he walked purposefully out of the camera's line of sight.
"Hope you didn't say that too loud. I'd hate for my nephew to be the reason CNN's on a five second delay."
Jess could hear Lorelai in the background demanding Luke give her the phone. Luke finally yelled at her to back off and told her he'd be outside. When Jess heard quiet in the background, Luke asked, "What the hell were you thinking, Jess? Or were you even thinking at all?"
"No," Jess answered, his voice barely above a whisper.
"This should have been a great night for Rory."
"And you basically trashed it."
"I know, okay? I fucked up, and I'm never going to be able to fix it. You don't have to tell me."
"Okay, fine, but I do have something to tell you."
"What?" Jess asked, leaning against a light post and kicking the sidewalk.
"You're gonna work it out."
"You and Rory."
"What alternate reality are you living in?"
"Listen, everybody knows you and Rory are supposed to be together."
"Who the hell is 'everybody'?"
"The entire world up to and including blind sea mammals in Turkey."
"I don't think they have blind sea mammals in Turkey."
"Well, if they did, they'd know you and Rory are supposed to be together."
"When did you turn into a doe-eyed romantic?"
"I'm getting married in a couple of months. It happens."
"Am I still invited?"
"For the moment, but you're on seriously thin ice."
"Thanks, Luke. For everything."
The conversation ended abruptly, and Jess replaced the phone in his jacket pocket. He shrugged his shoulders to keep out the wind and headed in the general direction of the dive motel at which he was staying. He wanted to believe Luke was right, but he also knew he had to get out of town before he wound up doing anything else he would regret for the next few years or so.
Lorelai stepped out onto the porch, sat down on the bench next to Luke, and wrapped a blanket around the two of them. They wrapped their arms around one another beneath the cover and fell into a comfortable silence. Finally, she looked up at him and said, "So you think it's inevitable Rory and Jess will wind up together, huh?"
"Is there, you know, a reason you have this exceedingly odd hypothesis?"
He met her eyes and said, "Two reasons actually."
"And they are?"
"Well, I'm looking at one and you're looking at the other."
Lorelai couldn't help but smile. "You really thing they're that much like us?"
"Except smarter," he answered. "Which hopefully means it won't take them twenty years to figure it out. I couldn't stand the drama."
"Nope. Neither could I," Lorelai admitted. "And I don't think there are blind sea mammals in Turkey either."
Luke rolled his eyes, but smiled and held her closer.
Rory slept a grand total of forty-five minutes before she had to get up and cover yet another post-election press conference. She was running on triple espressos, taking only perfunctory notes, and not developing even a slight opinion on anything the man was saying. When a tear hit the page, she felt like a total idiot. After all these years, she should not be crying over Jess Mariano.
She was exceedingly grateful when the conference ended. She rushed back to her room with the intention of bashing out an article as quickly as possible and then hopping a plane back to Connecticut. Her cell phone started ringing and she answered without looking at it.
"Mom, I know you're worried and everything, but I really have to get some work done before I come home."
"Hey, there Georgie-girl. I am so not your mother."
"Oh, I'm sorry, Amelia."
"It's okay. I was getting a weird vibe on the phone last night and obviously your mom is worried, so what the heck happened?"
"It's kind of a long story," Rory said as she opened the door to her hotel room.
"Does our year and a half of chasing down politicians together mean nothing to you?" Amelia asked mockingly. "Besides, if my Okie horse senses are correct, last night had something to do with Jess Mariano."
"How do you know anything about Jess?"
"Well, the last time we were in Philly, you told me I had to stop you from seeing him, I said, 'Who?' and the whole story spilled out, you getting drunker as it went along."
"I only sort of vaguely remember that and I hoping it was just my imagination," Rory admitted as she plopped down at her desk and turned on her laptop.
"I found it all incredibly entertaining. You could have made a TV series out of everything you told me that night."
"So what happened last night? Was Jess the person you thought you recognized?"
"He kissed me."
"Then he said, 'Drive safe' and walked away."
"Really?" Amelia asked, much less excited.
"Can I say something painfully honest?"
"No, but I can't really stop you."
"You kind of had that coming."
"I hate you."
"No, you don't. Call your friend, Lane, and she'll tell you the same thing. A really good friend is supposed to tell you the truth, even when it hurts."
"Did I say anything else stupid about him that night in Philly."
"Well, you said you'd had an epiphany-albeit a drunken one-and that was that Jess was the biggest reason you didn't marry that Logan guy."
"I said that?"
"Did I have a reason?"
"You said that you and Jess were just like your mom and Luke and that you'd eventually just figure it out."
"I said that?"
"Stop saying 'I said that.' Bust out a thesaurus or something."
"How come you never said anything to me?"
"I could never find an appropriate segue."
"That's no excuse."
"I think it is. Look, Ror, the guy next to me on the bus is giving me stink eye, so I've got to go, but think about what I said you said, okay?"
"Good girl. I'll call you before New Years so we can get together."
"Sure. Sounds good."
Rory closed her laptop, laid her head on the desk and let the tears fall freely from her eyes.