A/N- Aww... I'm sad it's over. But maybe, just maybe, I can work in a sequel. (And I'm sorry that this chapter is so short in comparison to the last one, but what can I say? That's how I roll, apparently.) And just so you know, the episodes of Star Trek I allude to (very subtly, but that's me: subtle... NOT! Seriously though, this time I was subtle) are actual episodes, because I was raised by a pair of hopeless Trekkies and have memorized verbatim every episode in the original series plus most of The Next Generation... yeah, fail, I know, but at least I can converse with Luke!
Jess coughed, then sighed. "This sucks," he declared. "First day back with you and I can't even touch you because I'm all germy."
"Well, that's what you get when you walk ten miles in a snowstorm," Rory said. "What have we learned from this little adventure?"
"Leather jackets are not adequate protection from the elements," Jess said resignedly, with the air of someone who has been repeating this mantra for several hours now.
Rory nodded sagely. "Precisely." The movie they had been watching on Luke's microscopic television ended, and she got up to rewind the VHS tape (in addition to being tiny, the TV was also ancient, rendering her mother's rapidly growing collection of DVDs redundant). "What shall we watch now?" she asked. "Maybe some of those old episodes of Star Trek that Luke will deny having taped, despite his handwriting on the labels?"
"Sure, why not?" Jess said, settling a little further into the cocoon of blankets Rory had insisted on wrapping him in. He coughed again. "Stupid cold," he muttered.
"It's your own fault, you know," she said, but she was grinning. "I hope you're aware that the minute you start feeling better, you're going right back in the doghouse, Mister." Except they both knew that wasn't really true. Their less-than-glowing history wasn't forgotten, but it was forgiven. They were young and in love; forgiving was easy.
The only thing that was making their reconciliation less than perfect was Jess' headcold, which, frankly, was making him feel just a little pathetic (and not just because he couldn't kiss her). Rory, oddly enough, seemed in her element, insisting on pampering him and continuing to play nursemaid. He had half a mind to be irritable; he wasn't sick often, but he'd never actually had anyone to take care of him before, and part of him balked at all the attention. The fact that it was Rory fussing over him, though, cast the entire situation in a new light.
"There we go," Rory said, plopping back down on the couch next to him, holding the remote in both hands and pressing 'play' with an excited smile on her face. "Now we can finally figure out what Luke sees in it."
"Space: the final frontier. These are the voyagers of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before..." the television intoned solemnly.
Rory fought to hold in giggles and even Jess couldn't help but smirk.
"God, even the beginning is mockable!" she exclaimed.
"You expected anything else from Luke?"
"Be nice," Rory said. "He's letting you stay, isn't he?"
"I guess," Jess said. Again, Luke's advice about communicating echoed in his head and he rolled his shoulders uncomfortably. "Luke's a pretty good guy. It's weird having a... I don't know what you'd call him. Role model? I dunno. But he's been way better to me than I deserve."
Something went soft about Rory's eyes. "No he hasn't," she said earnestly. "He's just giving you a fair chance. Granted, he's Luke, so he's gone a little overboard with stretching the definition of 'fair,' but that's just Luke being-"
"Being Luke," Jess agreed.
She continued to look at him with that sweet look on her face. "I'm really glad you're staying, Jess," she told him.
He rewarded her with a soft smile, the only way he really knew to tell her that he was glad, too.
Then he sniffled a few times and Rory, recognizing the signs, grabbed a tissue and handed it to him just in time for him to cover a huge sneeze. "Ugh," he groaned, throwing his head back against the back of the sofa. "I hate being sick."
"I know you do," she said sympathetically. "Come here." She pulled him, unresisting, to her, and let him lay his head on her lap. He tucked his feet up against the armrest and surrendered to feeling stuffy and awful.
For a few minutes they were silent, watching Scotty and a nameless red shirt manage to create havoc on the bridge of the Enterprise. Rory's hand played absentmindedly with his hair, and Jess focused on the comforting feeling of her fingers brushing across his scalp. Then she said, softly, "Andrew told me yesterday he's looking for an apprentice."
"Yeah?" Jess knew what she was getting at. He wanted to think about it (preferably without being under the influence of Nyquil) before saying anything about it.
"Andrew likes you," she told him.
This surprised him. "Really?" he asked skeptically.
She nodded. "Really. You're quiet. You don't bug him. He thought the fake murder was hysterical."
Jess tried to contain a smirk.
"Gypsy likes you, too."
"I'm serious. She respects you."
He bit back a laugh, though oddly, he could see his take-no-shit attitude impressing the steely mechanic.
"And Miss Patty, too," Rory told him. "Well, actually, I think she just wants to sleep with you, but it adds up to the same result, so..."
Jess felt extremely nauseated, and this time it wasn't because Rory had forced too much cold medicine on him. "Do you have a point, Rory?" he asked, sitting up to look her in the eye.
She turned a little pink. "I just... want you to know that even though Taylor hates your guts, the rest of the town doesn't necessarily agree with him," she said. "I know that a lot of the reason you're coming back here is because of me. I don't want you to regret it. And I know how much you hated it before, feeling like everybody was watching us all the time. But not everybody's judging you. Stars Hollow needs you, as weird as that is. You kind of fit here. It might not seem like it, but you do, and even if people are distrustful of you, that's just because... well, that's sort of the role you fill. Just like Taylor's the crazy sweater guy with the gavel who nobody really takes seriously and Kirk is... well... Kirk, you're the bad boy from the city. And in time, you won't even be that anymore, you'll just be Jess. And I know you always say you hate this town, but I think you secretly want to like it, and I'm so glad you're back, and I really, really don't want you to be miserable here, because I-"
"Rory?" he cut in.
"I won't be miserable," he told her. "I was miserable in California and in New York, because I was missing you."
"Oh," she said, looking surprised and like she was trying very hard not to look too pleased.
Jess gave her a half-smile. "I'll deal with the psychotic townies," he said. She bit at her lower lip, and Jess had to forcibly remind himself that he didn't want to give her his cold in order to keep from kissing her. Instead, he lay back down, resting his head in her lap again. After a few moments he said, "And I like Andrew, too."
"Yeah?" she asked.
"Yeah," he said in an offhand tone. "He's quiet. He doesn't bug me. He apparently has a decent sense of humor."
Jess couldn't be sure, but he thought he could actually hear Rory's smile.
When Luke came upstairs twenty minutes later to deliver grilled cheese sandwiches, he found Jess fast asleep with his head on Rory's lap, and the younger Gilmore girl dozing as well, while Captain Kirk wrestled a giant lizard on the muted television. Both were smiling.
Luke grinned. He set the grilled cheese on the table and quietly backed out of the apartment.
A/N2- That's all, folks! (Okay, lamest and most-used closing statement EVER, but whatever. I do what I want! USA, USA, USA! Okay, that was weird. I'll stop now...) There might, if you ask very, very nicely, be a sequel someday. It might take awhile, given the fast-approaching start of university, but we'll see.