A/N: I was talking to LukeAndLorelai Brucas Fan and it lead to this story, which for some reason I really had to write. Mostly because I really enjoy writing about Rory, Jess and their kid. I hope you guys like it as much as I do.
A Tale of Buses and Goodbyes
The word escaped the young girl's lips as she spotted the man sitting in a chair at the kitchen table, drinking coffee.
"Busted, kid. Also, I think it's time we had the talk on language again."
"You say it all the time."
"I'm an adult. It's one of the perks. Sit down." Jess frowned again, remembering why they were there to begin with. Letting out a loud sigh, she picked up a mug and filled it with coffee before sitting down.
"How much trouble am I in?" She grimaced, looking at her father.
"What you were doing, to begin with. There are some other factors involved."
"I…" Hesitating slightly, she closed her eyes. "It doesn't matter. Just ground me and let's get this over with."
"Oh, good, you're going to make me do this the hard way!" Chuckling, he drank from his mug again, looking at her. "Cate, you know that it's 3 months if you don't tell me what you did. Plus added time depending on the severity of this after I find out and trust me, I will find out. Now this is your call, but I don't think you want to spend that much time inside the house."
"The inside thing doesn't bug me as much as you guys taking away my favorite books." She shook her head, smiling.
"I know. So?"
Sighing again, she put her head on the table, biting her lip. "Couldn't it have been mom the one that decides to come back early?"
"I can call her if you want me to."
"No!" The girl yelped, looking at him again.
"Then make up your mind if you want me or her here."
"I can't vote neither, right?" Cate smirked, making him chuckle.
"Too late. Though I assume that was the plan. Where did you go?"
Squeezing her eyes shut tightly to not have to look at him, she made a face before taking a deep breath. "Boston." After a few minutes of silence, she opened one eye, looking at him. "Dad, say something."
"This is about that boy, isn't it?"
"We're not five, dad. He's not a boy."
"He is in my eyes. And I recommend you agree with what I say just to make this easier for you."
"Oh, come on! I haven't seen him in a month and I was an idiot and…"
"Why were you an idiot? Because if this conversation is about to turn to…other things, I don't think I can take it at this hour of the night." He admitted, looking more concerned.
"God, I really wish mom was here instead." She whispered, equally uncomfortable. "No, it's not about other things. I just had to see him and make things right."
"But you didn't do other things, did you?" He ran a hand through his hair, looking at his daughter. Her hair had blue highlights in it-the latest idea she'd had, but it made her eyes pop out even more. As long as she stuck to messing with her hair and not begging for a tattoo again, everything would be ok.
"No. We didn't."
"Dad…" The girl groaned and he shook his head, smirking.
"Remember that you're in trouble before you give me that attitude."
"I'm sure." The girl backtracked, smiling. "Mom and I have a deal."
"Hey, your mom and I have a deal that predates your existence."
"I know." Cate laughed, drinking some coffee.
"So why were you an idiot? Actually, let's move outside so I can have a smoke while you tell me. It will keep me calm, which I'm sure we can both agree on being the desired state of mind."
"You promised you wouldn't smoke."
"No, I promised I'd keep it under a pack a week." Throwing the almost untouched pack in front of her, he waited for her to open it. "I'm keeping it."
"You know second-hand smoke is dangerous for kids."
"Stay upwind." He chuckled, picking up his cigarettes again and opening the door to the back porch. Sitting on the bench they'd put there the week after they'd moved into the house, he waited for his daughter to join him before lighting his cigarette. "So what made you lie to us and jump on a train to see Dylan?"
"I took a bus, it's cheaper. It's not like you're too generous with my allowance."
"You're more like your mother than you know it, Cate." He laughed softly, shaking his head.
"I'll get to that story later. Now are you going to answer my question?"
"Because I'm an idiot."
"You keep saying that. Try me, see if I agree." When she didn't say anything for a couple more seconds, he looked at her. "Cate?"
"I didn't say goodbye."
Taking a drag out of his cigarette, he waited for her to say more.
"When he left. I just couldn't face him and say goodbye so I didn't and I've been feeling like a huge jerk ever since and I had to make it right, ok? I had to tell him I miss him and that New York doesn't feel the same without him here and that I really, really didn't want to hurt him."
Wrapping his arm around his daughter, he threw the cigarette to the ground as she hugged him back, sighing.
"I wanted to say goodbye when he left, you know?"
"Oh, yeah, I know." Jess chuckled, ruffling her hair. "What did he say?"
"We fought for a while. Then we said goodbye."
"Seems so. You can be happy now, you don't have to worry about him anymore."
"I'll do my happy dance later. How do you feel?"
"I've been better." Smiling, Cate lifted her head to look at him. "How do you feel?" She accentuated the third word, grinning.
"Other than really wishing your mother was here instead of me, not bad."
Squashing the still fuming cigarette under the sole of her shoe, she grabbed the pack from next to him, pulling one out and handing it to him. "You look like you need it."
"Five minutes ago I was getting lectured." He took the cigarette from her and lit it, ruffling her hair.
"I won't tell."
"You have nothing to tell, your mom knows. Unlike this stunt."
"You're going to…"
"Dad, come on. It can be our secret."
Chuckling, he shook his head. "No chance, Cate."
"I had to try." She laughed as well. "What's the verdict?"
"I'll ground you for life if you ever pull something like this without letting me know."
"You weren't supposed to be back tonight."
"I forgot my manuscript."
"Join the 21st century. No one does anything on paper anymore."
"I am your daughter, after all."
"That's even truer tonight than usual, kid."
"What, some extra genetic material was transferred while you waited for me?"
"Has your mom told you why there's a picture of bench in our living room?"
"Modern art?" Cate chuckled.
"Not quite." He smirked back, ruffling her hair. "About a million years ago, I crashed a car..."
"And got sent back to New York. Yeah, I know. And then you went back. Mom's told me your story about a hundred times."
"It's your fault, you used to ask her every day when you were younger." Pointing his finger at her, he smirked. "Anyway, we kind of skipped over some details, due to parental concerns."
"If this is when I have to hear about your guys' sex life, I don't want to know. Ever."
"Shut up and listen, will you? Ok, so you know the basics, but we never told you why I went back."
"Because you were madly in love with mom and couldn't bear to live one day without her?"
"Buying you a dictionary had no effect, I see, since you still don't know what shut up means."
"Sorry." She smirked back at him, watching as he took another drag out of his cigarette.
"Ok, so one day, I'm in New York, bumming around Washington Square Park-and if you tell your mom I put it like that, I'll kick your ass- when this girl with an awkward half-attempt at a smile on her face comes up to me. I ask her if she's hungry, she says yes and we go get hot dogs."
"So a bad date with some random bimbo made you miss mom?"
"Oh, now you're in even more trouble."
"Because you just called your mom a random bimbo." He smirked, squashing the cigarette in the ashtray he kept outside.
"Wait, you're saying mom came to New York to see you?"
"Yeah. She claims I made her do it because I called her. I claim it's because she can't resist me. But she got on a bus and came to New York and we walked around for a few hours, went to the record shop, talked."
"And then I put her back on the bus, after she gave a poor man the wrong directions and sent her back to Hickville."
"Did you kiss her?"
"Did you want to?"
"Yes." He smirked, looking at his daughter.
"And then I moved back."
"I still can't picture you living in Stars Hollow all the time."
"It wasn't fun."
Putting his hands on his knees, he laughed. "Enough reminiscing for one night, I still need to decide how long you're grounded for."
"How long did grandma Lor ground mom for?"
"She didn't. Your mom grounded herself because her bus was late and she missed Lorelai's college graduation."
"I can ground…"
"Don't even think about it."
"So? How long is it?"
"I'll talk it over with your mom but right now, we're talking two months."
"You're horrible." She nudged his shoulder, smirking.
"I'm far nicer than I should be. I can't believe you honestly thought we were going to buy you not wanting to come to Stars Hollow because you had to study."
"I'm your kid, I have to assume you're idiots. This means your return was planned?"
"This means that when you didn't answer the house phone three times, I remembered I needed my manuscript."
"Is that the reason we still have a house phone?"
"And why you'll never get the code to forward calls to your cell."
"You still haven't told me how your story makes me more like you than usual. Mom, I get, but you…?" She remembered, looking at him as he lit another cigarette.
"You didn't ask why your mom actually came to see me."
"What, you gonna make me guess?"
"I didn't say goodbye." He smiled, looking into her eyes. "When I left."
After a long pause, she looked back at him, chewing on her bottom lip. "Why?"
"It was very sudden."
"You still could have found the time."
"Maybe. But I'd really fucked things up."
"I was scared." He sighed, breathing in the smoke.
"I can't picture you being scared of anything."
"I'm scared of hurting you two." He admitted.
"You can't hurt us." She wrapped her arm around him, giving him a quick hug. "You're a good guy."
"I'd just crashed a car and fractured your mom's wrist. Want to revise that statement?"
"No." Cate smiled, ruffling his hair.
"Why didn't you say goodbye?"
"I was scared." She repeated his words, biting her lip again. "I didn't know how to do it."
"Word of advice from the old?"
"If you ever have to do this again-just say the words, ok? Or leave a note. Or something. Because if you don't, there might be a time when being away is permanent and then you're going to hate yourself for being a jerk. And I believe this is about the time when the parent in me has to point out that you were not only out way past your curfew, but this is much too late for either one of us to pretend it's an acceptable bed time for you."
"You had to go and be all responsible now, didn't you?"
"I'm always responsible."
"Whatever you need to tell yourself."
"One more question?"
"As long as it's short."
"When mom came to see you…did you love her?"
"Is that your totally lame way of not answering me?"
"That's my totally lame way of saying that I hadn't even kissed her yet. Love is more complicated than that, isn't it?"
"You're the adult here, you should know. And the writer. That's gotta give you some more insight than us regular folks have." Standing up, she placed a small kiss on his forehead, glancing at his cigarettes. "No more smoking or I'm telling mom."
"I have to call her anyway, I'll come clean."
"You two are ridiculously adorable sometimes." She opened the door to the house but Jess looked at her.
"This boy you went to see…do you love him?"
"Maybe." She smirked at him.
"Next time you decide to run off and see him or someone else, let one of us know. I'm too young to have a heart attack."
"Will do. Good night, dad."
"Night." Picking up his phone as soon as the door was closed, he smiled, waiting for his wife to pick up. "Hey, Ror. She's fine."