Disclaimer: I OWN NOTHING

Summary: What if Jess decided to tell Rory the truth about the black eye? What if things went just a little differently? My take on how season three should have really turned out.

Jess Mariano rubbed his head, annoyed with himself. The dinner had been a disaster. Anyone with eyes could see that. He couldn't understand why he was always the one to screw things up. Rory had asked him to come to dinner in the hopes of him being at least halfway decent and he couldn't even do that. All he had to do was calmly tell her what had really happened, why couldn't he just do that for her?

Jess pounded his hand on the counter and cursed under his breath, causing several people to turn their heads and stare at him. He looked around the diner blankly. He didn't care what any of them thought; he only cared what Rory thought. He grabbed the coffee pot and went around refilling mugs absentminded.

Luke came down and looked around the diner. He saw his nephew acting stranger than usual. Instead of exhibiting Taylor's three qualities of a hoodlum, he also showed signs of emptiness. He shook his head and went behind the counter, grabbing a rag.

"Jess!" Luke watched his nephew ignore him and saw him keep on refilling cups. "Je-ess!" He sing-songed in an annoyed tone. Jess slumped his shoulders and made his way to the counter to stand before his uncle. Luke threw the rag into Jess's hands.

"Huh?" Jess questioned his uncle blankly. Luke looked him over skeptically.

"Wipe off the counter." Luke said simply. Jess complied and Luke stood awkwardly watching him. Jess felt his uncle's eyes on him and was beginning to get annoyed.

"Can I help you with something?" Jess snapped sarcastically. Luke shuffled his feet.

"Rory called again." He said softly, making sure no one else was listening. Jess looked at him as nonchalantly as he could muster.

"I'll go call her after I close up…" Jess spoke gently before putting the rag away and left to take an order. Luke watched in bewilderment. He had never heard Jess talk like that and it almost worried him. He went into the kitchen to cook, trying to figure out what was going on with Jess.

--

Rory sat at the Chinese Takeout place as her order was being filled. She tried to think about something…anything, but all she could do was think of Jess. She couldn't understand why he hadn't called back or even spoken to her since last night. She felt bad for accusing him of getting into a fight with Dean. After going straight to the source, she felt stupid. Maybe that's why he was upset. He didn't like getting blamed for something he hadn't done. The black eye could've been from anything, she was blind not to see that.

"Gilmore. Your order is up!" The young man handed her the bags in exchange for the money. She sighed deeply and went outside, struggling to get the right grip on the big bags. As she walked past by Luke's Diner, she walked slowly, adjusting her bags in her hands

Jess was pouring coffee to a customer when he saw her outside the diner. He put the pot down and rushed outside to where she was.

"Rory." He said it with as little emotion as possible, but he couldn't deny that he'd been glad to see her.

"Oh, hey!" Rory said surprised and a bit relieved to see he wasn't angry with her. She kept walking and he kept up her pace.

"Hey," Jess said again nervously. He bounced back quickly though. "Your mom home?" He asked curiously, eyeing the bags of food.

"I'm bringing supplies." She quipped, gesturing the bags. Jess turned on his heel and stood before her, causing her to stop walking.

"Huh. Shoulda brought a mule." He said weakly, trying to keep up the banter for a while. She looked at him oddly.

"What?" She asked, confused.

"A pack mule, to carry it." Jess explained dully.

"Oh, yeah." She said in a distracted tone as she set the bags down on the concrete, giving him her attention.

"So…sorry I missed your calls." He said plainly, trying not to let her know how bad he really felt.

"You were always out." Rory replied, unimpressed with his display so far. Jess noticed.

"Yeah, uh, I was getting ready to call you just now, but you would have been out." He explained. It wasn't a lie, but he could tell she wasn't really buying it.

"Ironic." She replied. He agreed solemnly. A beat of silence slid by before she spoke again.

"So, I know there was no fight with Dean." She said carefully. He looked at her, intrigued.

"Really. How?" He asked curiously. She was quiet and he nodded his head knowingly. "You asked Dean."

"I was the only thing I could think to do." She told him honestly. They both knew it was really her only option of knowing at that point.

"Go to the source." Jess quipped. Rory nodded and agreed quietly.

"I'm sorry I doubted you." Rory said softly, finally letting him see how she felt, what she'd been thinking.

"It's okay, I would have doubted me too." Jess said gently, letting her know that she wasn't completely in the wrong.

"I need to trust you as much as I trusted-"

"-him." He concluded, nodding. He didn't blame her for not trusting him the same way, in fact, if he were in her position, he would probably feel the same way. He was glad to hear it though, it made him feel a lot better.

"Yeah…" She agreed weakly.

"This black eye screwed everything up…" Jess said quietly.

"Yeah." She agreed again. Jess nodded.

"Next time I go to your Grandma's, I'll try not to have one." He said smugly with a smirk playing on his face.

"Next time?" Rory questioned with a childish smile. Jess mocked her and smiled.

"Next time." He stated simply. He smirked and leaned in, capturing her lips for a slow, forgiving kiss. She pulled away, looking complex.

"So what happened?" Rory asked curiously, squinting her eyes the way she always did when she couldn't figure something out. Jess shook his head.

"I-I don't…" He stumbled over his words.

"Come on! It wasn't Dean, you can say it." She stated, showing him her clear way of thinking.

"Will that make you happy?" He asked curiously. He only wanted her to be happy, and he'd do just about anything to fix the damage he had caused.

"Yes, very!" Rory nodded with a smile. She looked very accomplished and it made Jess smile.

"Okay, I'll tell you the truth, since we're both so into the truth tonight. That's what good relationships are about, right?" He spoke his words earnestly, but in the back of his mind, he was already coming up with a less embarrassing story on how he got the black eye.

"Right," she agreed, nodding her head. Her fingers found their way to his waist and rested there.

"But, you've got to promise not to mock me…ever. And," He was playing it off like a game between two kids. But then, his voice got low, and almost shaky. "Please don't…tell anyone else." He ran his hand up and down her arm several times and considered telling her the truth again.

"I promise." Rory spoke innocently with a sparkle in her eye. He looked into those cerulean blue eyes of hers and suddenly, he had no choice. He couldn't feed her another lie, this time he was going to tell her the truth. He took a deep breath and shrugged his shoulders.

"I was down by Larson's Dock, and I got attacked…" He paused, embarrassed by what came next. "…by a swan." He said with a groan. Rory's eyes went wide and she let out a giggle.

"Oh, you poor thing!" She teased him, putting her hand on his chest. Jess took her hand in his.

"I thought you promised not to mock me." He said accusingly with a smirk. Rory smiled at him.

"Right, right, I'm sorry. I'm sure it was terrifying. I mean, that's one bad bruise." She grinned at him and they both laughed softly.

Rory put her hand around his neck and he leaned down to kiss her sweetly. He wrapped his hands around her waist and pulled her tight against his chest as he deepened the kiss. She stood on her tiptoes, enjoying the kiss more and more. She suddenly pulled away, but stayed close.

"I have to go." She said breathlessly.

"Don't go." Jess protested, pulling her back to him.

"I don't want to." She reassured him, leaving her hands wrapped around his neck.

"Then don't, let's go somewhere." Jess brought his lips back to hers in hopes of kissing her again, but she refused.

"I've got take out." She said softly.

"I'll reimburse you." He matched her tone, trying to get her to stay.

"My mom's waiting." It was the only thing truly standing in their way, and they both knew it. Jess nodded, understanding. He let her go, pulling away and stepping back a little, but as he did, Rory stepped forward and kissed him quick, but passionately.

"Keep thinking what your thinking." She told him quietly.

"I don't have a choice." He said with a smile. He picked up her bags and handed them to her. She smiled at him in return and they both went on their way.

--

Rory sat on the couch with her mom, eating takeout, when she decided to tell her that she wasn't too busy to think about "it". Lorelai almost chokes on her food.

"Nothing's happened…right?" Lorelai asked worried. Rory shook her head.

"No, but it might…with Jess." She clarified. Lorelai drew in a shaky breath.

"With Jess." She seemed to repeat it for her own benefit, as if trying to comprehend the idea. Rory watched her nervously.

"You still want me to tell you everything, right?" She asked uncertain of what answer she was looking for.

"Yes. No. Well…" Lorelai stuttered indecisively.

"Whish is it?" Rory pressed.

"We're doing this now, aren't we?" She asked rhetorically. Rory nodded. "Then…yes, tell me everything."

"Well, nothing's happened yet." Rory restated.

"So I've heard, just tell me when something does." Lorelai decides.

Rory smiled and nodded softly to her mother. They continued to eat in silence, neither having anything to say, but both understanding each other more than ever.

--

Jess laid flat on his bed, looking up at the ceiling. He had been reading before, but abandoned his book when he couldn't concentrate. He was love struck to be honest. Rory had become his world lately, and sharing something with her really made him see that clearly. Everything was going to be okay, he was sure of that now.

He thought of what she had told him earlier. He was thinking what he had been thinking before and the thought caused him to smile, ear to ear. Luke walked into the apartment and stopped dead in his tracks, staring at Jess.

"Are you okay?" He asked his nephew wearily. Jess nodded, still smiling.

"Yep." Back to his monosyllabic behavior and sarcastic comments.

"You're smiling." Luke stated dumbly.

"I'm aware. Thanks Captain Obvious." Jess said sarcastically, getting up and making his way to the fridge. Luke followed him.

"Did you do something illegal?" He asked, worried. Jess turned to face him.

"Excuse me?" He gave his uncle an annoyed look and reached into the fridge and grabbed a grape soda, opening it and taking a gulp.

"Then why the hell are you smiling? I've been living with you for over a year now, and the only times I ever see you smile is when you've gotten yourself into trouble. Apparently that kind of stuff appeals to you, though I'll never understand why. You better not get Rory involved in your stupid pranks. If you do, I swear--!"

"Give it a rest old man." Jess interrupted Luke's rant and took his drink back to his bed. He plopped down and looked at his uncle. "I didn't do anything illegal, I'm just happy, okay?" He took another sip of his grape soda. Luke looked at him confused.

"Happy?" He stared unbelieving. "Well I guess there's a first for everything…" Luke mumbled as he moved on from interrogating Jess. He plopped down onto the couch and began watching baseball. Jess smirked to himself, knowing he had won.

He set the soda on his nightstand and folded his hands behind his head, smiling up at the ceiling. Things were going to be okay. His thoughts went to Rory as sleep took over his tired body and he drifted off.