This took way longer than I expected. I'm sorry. It's been a crap couple of weeks. Seriously. Epically bad. But you don't need to hear (or read, I guess) me complaining.
Thank you for reviewing. They always make me smile. I own very little. I hope you enjoy. :)
Chapter Ten -Party like You're Five
"Surprise!" The crowd gathered in Miss Patti yelled out as Will and Beth entered the dance studio with Luke and Lorelai. Will took a half step back, unnerved by the attention, taking hold of Luke's trouser leg for comfort. Beth, took a step forward, a wide smile on her face, scanning the crowd.
Her eyes stopped two thirds of the way around the crowd and her smile got even bigger, while her eyes widened in delight. "Jess!" She exclaimed, running towards her sister and the very person she had requested for her birthday.
Will's head snapped up when he heard his sister, and he took off after her. "You came!" He grinned up at Jess.
"Course I did." Jess bent at the knee to level with the five year olds.
"Awesome!" Will lifted his hand to give Jess a high five.
"Awesome?" Jess laughed, letting the boy hit his hand.
"Dave." Beth rolled her eyes. "He taught him it."
"Dave?" Rory questioned, also bending to face the twins.
"Yeah. I mean he's cool," Beth raised one shoulder to her ear and then dropped it in a shrug, "but Jess is cooler."
"Thanks." Jess laughed.
"Why don't you guys go say hello to everyone else?" Rory smiled at her youngest siblings.
"'Kay." Beth chirruped, and taking her brother's hand ran off towards their grandparents.
"Dave's in town?" Rory asked April as she straightened up.
"I got to town with you." April shrugged. "How would I know anymore?"
"Who's Dave?" Jess asked.
Jess frowned. "Who's Lane?"
"Oh," Rory smiled. "My best friend. My other best friend." She clarified, when she saw Jess look at Katie. "We grew up together. But she lives in San Fransisco with Dave."
"Her husband." Jess nodded.
"Yeah, wonder why they're back in town. And why Lane didn't tell me."
"What makes you think Lane's here?"
Rory grinned and took a sip of punch. "Dave wouldn't brave Mrs. Kim alone."
"Rory." A voice came from behind her and she turned around.
"Grandma." Rory smiled. "Hi."
Emily ignored her granddaughter's greeting and smiled at Jess. "This must be-"
"Jess Mariano." Jess smiled, offering her his hand. "It's nice to meet you, Mrs. Gilmore."
"And you, I've heard a lot about you from your mother." Emily smiled.
"Right." Rory nodded. "You know his parents."
"Yes, Elizabeth told me about the dinner you had."
"Oh?" Panic flashed through Rory's eyes and Jess gave her hand a quick squeeze.
"She said you were thoroughly charming." Emily smiled. "And of course, you'll have to come for dinner with us one night, Jess."
Jess nodded once. "Sure."
"And I have to say, my husband was quite impressed with you. Although, I wasn't too happy about him receiving reading material." She gave him a wry smile.
"Well," Jess shrugged, smirking slightly, "I couldn't leave a fellow literature lover miserable, could I?"
"Of course you couldn't." Richard stepped up behind Jess.
"Grandpa!" Rory smiled, giving him a hug. "How you feeling?"
"I'm fine Rory." Richard hugged her back. He then extended his hand to Jess, which Jess then shook. "Now, my boy, we need to have a conversation about those notes in that Hemingway. Your thoughts on Santiago's reasoning for killing the fish. Well, they blew me away."
"No." Rory shook her her head, "You are not discussing 'The Old Man and the Sea' at a children's birthday party. And not in front of me."
Jess smirked. "You could always leave."
"I would." Rory rolled her eyes. "Happily. But I think mom's about to announce something." She pointed to Lorelai who was on the small platform at the end of the room.
"Hey!" Lorelai waved. "I wanna thank you all for coming out to celebrate five years of the twins!" She laughed as Beth waved to the crowd, while her brother studied the floor, scuffing his toes.
"Will really doesn't do well in crowds, does he?" Jess whispered to Rory.
Rory nodded. "Yeah, he's a little shy." She took Jess' hand as she turned her attention back to her mom.
"...and so we thought since it the twins love the snow, we'd have a snowman building competition!" Lorelai announced, to the delight of the crowd. "You have to pair up and then pick a box." She explained, indicating cardboard boxes against the wall. "You can only use what's in the box to decorate your snowman. And you only have an hour."
"How do we know you haven't marked the best box for yourself?" Katie shouted up at Lorelai.
"I'm shocked and appalled by that, Miss Katie!" Lorelai told the blonde. "Besides, Mrs. Kim made the boxes. No way of cheating!" She grinned. "Pair up!" She yelled and reached down to take Will's hand. "You're with me, main man!"
"Be my partner?" Rory smiled up at Jess as Beth bounded off the stage towards them, Luke following behind her.
"I'm with Jess!" She grinned up at them.
"Oh." Luke picked her up. "I thought you were gonna be with me."
"Nope." She shook her head. "I wanna be with Jess."
"Okay," Rory shrugged. "but you should know that Jess told me that he sucks at making snowmen. And if you go with him, I go with your dad and you know that me and your dad are excellent snowmen builders, so we'll probably win."
"But, it's my birthday." Beth frowned.
"Doesn't matter." Rory shrugged. "You have to make the best snowman to win."
Beth blew out a breath and glanced from Jess to the large trophy on stage, back to Jess and then back to the trophy. "I'm with daddy!" She beamed, tightening her grip around Luke's neck.
"Wise choice." Rory nodded.
"Let's get you ready to go." Luke kissed his daughter's temple.
"You just lied to a five year old." Jess' breath danced across Rory's ear. "On her birthday."
Rory turned to face him and shrugged one shoulder. "She was trying to commandeer my man."
"Never knew you were the jealous type." Jess smirked.
"Huh. Me either." Rory smiled, pulling a black knit hat from his pocket and pulled it onto his head. "Guess you bring it out in me." She wrapped her scarf around her neck and then pointed to a box fourth from the end. "I want that one."
"I have no say?" Jess smirked.
"No. You are my slave. Get to it." Rory put her nose in the air and pointed to the box. "I don't know if anyone told you or not, but I'm the Ice Cream Queen."
"It's forty degrees out."
Rory gave him a small smile. "That just means your ice cream lasts longer. Box." She pointed.
"Of course, Your Majesty." Jess bowed to her, before picking up the box and following her outside.
"This looks like a good spot." Rory stopped a few feet away from Katie and April. "Now let's see what's the box?"
Jess opened the lid of the box and peered in. "Gwyneth's head." He smirked and then dropped it to the ground.
"Okay." Rory dropped to her knees and rummaged through the contents. "We have Mrs Potato Head lips. And a long black wig. I say a snow-woman."
"I have a better idea." Jess grinned as he lifted a black star from the box.
"What are you planning?"
"You'll see. Come on, we need to get rolling some snow." Jess grinned as he began to compact snow together.
"You're serious?" Rory laughed as she watched Jess wrap a length of silver tinsel around a black scarf. "Star-"
"Shh!" He scolded her. "No telling!"
"But it's genius!" She grinned placing the wig on the snowman's head.
"We're not going to win, though."
"What?" Jess looked up at her. "Why?"
"Mrs Kim's the judge. Rock music and it's makers are the devil's work. This won't win."
"So one of these Winnie the Pooh wannabe snowmen is gonna win?"
"Probably." Rory nodded and broke into a fit of laughter as a snowball hit Jess on the back of the head.
"What the...?" He turned to find Katie standing with her hands on her hips, glaring at him.
"I take offence to that. Our snowman is brilliant!"
"Yeah, yours is good." Jess nodded. "I wasn't talking about your one." He gestured to the Aladdin snowman Katie and April had made, complete with flying carpet and turban.
"Good. As you were." Katie turned her back on them and began to cut up her cardboard box.
"She gets very possessive about her art." Rory smiled, wrapping her arms around Jess' neck.
"It's a snowman."
"That she created. To her its art."
"Your friends are crazy." He grinned.
"And Bee's any better?"
"Touché." He bowed his head and pulled her into a kiss. When they broke apart, Rory spotted someone in her peripheral vision. Turning her head fully, she stiffened in Jess' arms.
"Hey Dean." She dropped her arms from their place around Jess' neck and took a half step backwards.
"Another one, huh Ror? You sure do get through them." Dean glared at Jess.
"Go home Dean." Rory sighed.
"Not the lawyer, is it? Thought he was blonde. And tall." He added, giving Jess the once over, causing Jess to scoff.
Rory's eyes narrowed and she took a step closer to Dean, her hands balled into fists. "What, are you spying on me?"
"Miss Patti's very informative." Dean shrugged.
"Oh my god." Rory scrubbed her mitten covered hand over her face in frustration. "You broke up with me. Remember Dean? You broke up with me a million years ago. You got married! Though the informative Miss Patti tells me, you got divorced too. What Lindsey do? Buy pretentious coffee beans?" Rory rolled her eyes and turned back to Jess.
"You know you changed when you got into Yale."
"I'm not getting into this again Dean. Just go home." Rory sighed.
"No, come on." Dean stepped towards her, "Let me tell your new guy here how Yale changed you into a stuck up, conceited little bitch." He went to grab her arm, but Jess stepped in front of him, placing his hand on Dean's chest.
"Hey!" Jess' voice remained low. "Just do what she says and go. This is a kid's birthday party. I'd hate to ruin it by breaking your face."
"I'm not scared of you." Dean laughed down at Jess.
"Yeah, I guess not." Jess nodded. "It helps that you're twenty feet tall. But I'm guessing Luke could take you." Jess pointed to Luke over his shoulder. "And you know? Earlier Luke was giving me that whole 'hurt my daughter, I hurt you' speech. And he mentioned this guy, Coop, in the police department, who owed Luke favour and he's willing to look the other way if Luke does anything outside the realms of legality. I'd hate for him to waste that favour on you."
Dean took a couple of deep breaths through his nose, glaring down at Jess. "You're not worth it." He seethed, "Either of you." He added to Rory, before walking away.
"Thank you." Rory smiled.
"You okay?" Jess asked, rubbing his hands down her arms.
"Yeah. Just trying not to let him ruin the day." She nodded.
"Was that Dean?" A voice behind her came.
"Lane!" Rory's face broke into a wide grin and she hugged her friend. "Why are you here early?"
"Judging a snowman competition." Lane smiled.
"Wasn't your mom doing that?"
"She's having a conversation with Dave. She sent me."
"A conversation? About why you're here?" Rory smiled.
"I'll tell you later." Lane nodded. "And you can tell me all about this," she gestured to Jess, who was placing his tinsel scarf around the snowman's neck, "but I have to go say hello to April and Katie and then judge these creations."
"Fine, but we'll catch up later." Rory hugged her again, before she turned to say to Katie.
"We might have a chance of winning after all." Rory smiled, wrapped her arms around Jess' waist from behind.
"Really?" Jess glanced back at her.
Rory nodded, placing a kiss on his shoulder. "Lane will appreciate this snowman."
"Good." Jess smiled before holding up the star. "You wanna do the honours?"
"Thanks." Rory took the star from him and placed it on the snowman's face, in place of a right eye. "Our very own Star Child snowman." She smiled up at Jess. "Star-snow Child-man?" She grinned.
"Yeah, Star-snow Child-man." Jess laughed just as Lane declared time up.
"The winner's are...Katie and April!" Lane announced as she placed a blue ribbon on the Aladdin snowman and handed the girls the trophy.
"Yes! Suck it, Mariano!" Katie jeered Jess and she lifted the gold accolade above her head.
"You think I care about winning?" Jess smirked as they headed back to the dance studio.
"I saw your face when you got that red ribbon." Katie shrugged. "But, don't worry, you're welcome to come over and visit her anytime."
"Hey! How come you get to keep it?" April frowned.
"It was my genius." Katie smiled. "Besides you think it's wise bringing her to dorms? Anyone could steal her."
"You're getting more and more like Kirk." April shook her head before heading over to help Lorelai start a game of Pin the Nose on the Snowman'.
"Rory!" Lane came in and walked to her friend.
"Hey! Thanks for second place." Rory laughed hugging her friend.
"Yours was excellent, but-"
"Don't say it, her ego's big enough already!" Jess interrupted, earning himself a light punch from Katie.
"Lane, this is Jess. Jess this is Lane." Rory introduced the two.
"Nice to meet you." Jess grinned.
"You too. I've heard absolutely nothing about you." Lane replied.
"Ouch." Jess winked at Rory.
"Yeah, I'm totally ashamed. I only tell people about you when it's absolutely unavoidable not to."
"Jess, come play!" Beth arrived at their sides, three small girls in pigtails with her. She reached up and grabbed his hand and pulled. "I bet you would win! Come on!" She pleaded.
"Guess I'm needed elsewhere." Jess kissed Rory's cheek. "Don't say anything too damaging?" He whispered before picking up Beth and swinging her onto his back. "Where to Birthday Girl?" He asked as she pointed to her mom and shouted "Snowman!" amid a fit of giggles.
"He's good." Lane observed. "How'd you meet?"
"It's a very romantic story." Katie told her. "Oh wait, did I say romantic? I mean embarrassing. Rory fainted and Jess caught her."
"Really?" Lane laughed and Rory nodded sighing. "What happened to Green Adam?"
"Ditched." Katie shrugged.
"Can we sit?" Rory pointed to an empty table and moved towards it. "Actually Lane, you remember the guy in Chilton? He was a couple of years older?"
"And you were obsessed?" Lane laughed. "Yeah, why?"
"That's him!" Katie exploded.
"What? Jess went to Chilton? You're dating the guy you had a crush on at sixteen?"
"Yeah." Rory blushed. "I wasn't obsessed."
"Pretty close." Lane plucked a gummi worm from the bowl on the table and bit its head off.
Katie grinned at Rory. "Obsessed, huh?"
"Not a word." Rory warned her.
"Who would I tell?" Katie asked, eyes wide with innocence. "Apart from," she continued, a sly smile forming, "you know, everyone I know."
Rory sighed, placing her head on the table. "Nothing is safe in your hands."
"I'll not tell. You have information that could kill me. And there's one thing that's safe in my hands, alcohol. I'll get us punch. Though I'm still unsure why Miss P. brings it to a kids birthday party."
"Time honoured tradition." Rory shrugged.
"No punch for me, Katie." Lane smiled.
Rory turned to look at her friend, her eyes narrowed in suspicion. "You're turning down punch?"
"Yeah." Lane nodded.
Lane took a deep breath and then gave her two friends a small smile. "I'm pregnant."
"Shut up!" Rory exclaimed, her smile wide with happiness.
"I'm pregnant." Lane repeated.
"This is amazing! Congratulations!" Rory leaned across to hug her friend. "Are you happy? You must be happy, you always wanted kids."
"Yeah." Lane breathed out, nodding her head slightly.
"What's wrong?" Katie asked.
"Still kinda freaked out." Lane admitted. "I mean, I'm happy about it, and I'm a lot calmer than I was. But yeah, still freaked."
"You're gonna be a mother." Rory smiled.
"What if I suck?"
Rory scoffed at the thought. "You won't suck."
"I know nothing about babies."
"You'll learn." Rory assured her. "And you already know stuff. Like not to drive with it on your lap. Or to name it Blanket."
"Or Audio Science." Katie added.
"Or Pilot Inspektor." Lane laughed.
"Exactly." Rory grinned. "Wow, a baby. Nutso."
"Yeah, congrats, Lane." Katie hugged her as Dave arrived at the table.
"You told them." He grinned.
"We tried to force feed her Miss Patti's punch." Rory laughed, standing up. "Congratulations Daddy." She hugged him.
"Thanks. But I could use some punch. We've been married for four years, and your mom still terrifies me."
"She's terrifies everyone." Katie shuddered.
"What happened?" Lane asked.
"I have to get a proper job." Dave sighed, sitting down.
"You have a proper job." Lane shook her head in annoyance. "Did you tell her you got promoted? No more late nights?"
"Yes, but she's your mom. She'll calm down once she realises how excited she is."
"I guess." Lane nodded.
"You got promoted?" Rory smiled at Dave.
"Music editor." Dave replied. He had been working at a local San Francisco magazine as a contributing music writer since he graduated in journalism from Berkley.
"Cool. And well deserved." Rory told him as Jess came up behind her.
"Your mom wants to do presents." He rubbed the back of her neck.
"Okay." She twisted her head to smile up at him. "Oh and Jess, this is Dave, Lane's husband. Dave, Jess."
"Hey." Dave shook Jess' hand.
"Good to meet you." Jess replied, before taking Rory's hand and walking over to Lorelai, who was getting everyone to sit down.
"Boyfriend?" Dave whispered to Lane as they followed everyone.
"Yeah." She nodded.
"What happened Adam?"
"Gone." Lane shrugged to indicate she didn't know the details.
"We like this guy?"
"I only met him for a few minutes, but I think we do." Lane smiled, reaching up to kiss Dave's cheek.
"Drumsticks?" Will looked up at his older sisters.
"Yeah." April nodded.
"There's a set of drums at home to go with them." Rory laughed.
"No way!" Will yelled, hugging both sisters at once, one arm around each of their necks. "Awesome! Thank you!"
"Welcome, little man." Rory laughed. "Now, Bethy." She handed her a small purple box.
"A book?" Beth lifted the copy of 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory' from its box.
"Yip." Rory smiled, "And you have another part of your present back home too. A new bookcase, in your room, filled with every book could would want or need to read."
"Really?" Beth asked, her mouth open in shock.
"Uh huh." April nodded.
"Thank you, thank you, thank you!" Beth hugged them in the same way Will had.
"I think that's everything." Lorelai lifted up Will, who was air-drumming with his sticks.
"I actually have something." Jess spoke up, pulling two wrapped gifts out of his jacket pocket. He handed the smaller square present to Will and a longer oblong shape to Beth.
"Thanks." They grinned up at once."You go first." Beth told her brother. Will pulled on the green paper and revealed a CD.
"The Clash?" He looked up at Jess.
"Yeah, you can't be a drummer without a decent taste in music." Jess ruffled his hair.
"Me now!" Beth tore her own gift open. "'Catcher in the Rye'! You're gonna read it to me?"
"No." Jess laughed, crouching down beside her. "But look," he opened to book to show her the dedication, "I have promised to read it to you, and this way, you'll always have it. In case I forget my copy."
"Thank you." Beth hugged him and he stood up, taking her up into arms. "Is it time for cake?" Beth asked, grinning.
"Sure." Lorelai laughed as Sookie crossed the room to retrieve her masterpiece four tier chocolate cake.
"I like him." Lane smiled at Rory.
"Yeah, me too." Rory replied, watching as her boyfriend helped Luke set up a giant snowflake shaped pinata.
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