Summary: Jess never went to Stars Hollow, continuing down a bad path living in New York, eventually getting punished with community service, where he happens to bump into a certain Gilmore fresh from her yacht-stealing escapades. Lit. Set around 6x03 and onwards.
A/N: So…surprise? Or less so, if you've been reading Wires and Waves or my profile, where I've been going on about coming back to do this epilogue for an age. I realise that at this point, this is a bit silly: this fic has been long established and doesn't really need an epilogue, but still. I just finished NaNoWriMo, am mentally exhausted, and felt like a bit of recreational fluff. And also, my OCD requires that I end all my fics on a chapter count that's a multiple of five, so I had to come back and make sure I ended this on a nice, round fifteen.
If the time spent away from this fic has made my writing style change, or if you don't like this little addendum and it makes you feel differently about the fic as a whole, please just ignore it, the fic is already a whole without it, I just feel like having a bit of fun.
And yes, I do go against season seven canon a bit with regard to what Rory ends up doing post-Yale, but I don't really consider that season canon anyway… Also I'm running with the wild assumption that Jess being around during season six means that he gets Luke to be less annoying about April, and thus him and Lorelai never break up. Just roll with it.
And mostly, thanks so much to all of those who ever read and/or reviewed this fic. It is far and away the most successful thing I've ever written, and just thinking about writing it all those years back sends me into a great, warm, fluffy fit of nostalgia. Hope you do enjoy this, and if not, as I said, feel free to ignore it! Much love!
"Oh, you just wait until your Grandmother sees this."
That was it. That was Lorelai's first reaction to seeing her daughter's new dwelling for the foreseeable future.
Rory rolled her eyes at her mother, as she got out of the car and grabbed the first of her boxes from the trunk of the Jeep. "Well, I happen to love it."
Lorelai joined her round the back of the car and grabbed a box herself. "Oh, I'm not saying I don't," she said, sizing up the fairly nondescript block of apartments before her, as she followed her daughter into the building. "I'm just saying, ready yourself. Firstly, no doorman."
"In this part of Queens, the most you're going to find in the way of doormen are the gangs that like to skulk outside particular buildings – be happy we don't have one."
"Oh, yes, say that to your Grandmother, please. Preferably while holding some kind of recording device," Lorelai continued, as Rory shoved open the front door of the building and they proceeded into the hallway. "A front door that opens to nothing more than a shove, that'll be another thing she's going to adore."
"I asked the guys to leave it on the latch since we'd be coming up and down," Rory explained. "And are these Grandma's concerns, or yours?"
"Hey, not mine, never mine – I'm the hip, down with the kids one, who took note of the five guys with face tattoos, three fishnet tights-clad women on street corners and one group of people dressed up for some sort of convention on the way here, and thought, hey, what a colourful neighbourhood. It's Emily who would be calling this place a den of iniquity," Lorelai rambled, as they made their way towards the elevators.
"Okay, Emily," Rory replied, drily.
"Emily, for example, would take one look at that rusty box that calls itself an elevator and tell you that if you stay here you will one day plummet to your death, but not I, I say what's life without a bit of danger?"
Rory eyed the elevator, doubtfully. "You know, I only live on the second floor, and I've been meaning to start some kind of exercise regimen."
"Attagirl," Lorelai replied, as the girls abandoned the elevators and headed into the stairwell. "Ah, wow, stairwell doors that stick to your hands, I'd hate to hear what Emily would say about that one."
"Maybe I'll put her on the phone with Lorelai and the two can have a nice long talk about it?" Rory threatened, eliciting a glare from her mother as they reached the second floor and approached a door that was already ajar.
Through the door, the girls could already hear the muffled sounds of two men bickering as they made their way into the one-bedroom apartment and dropped their boxes happily on the floor, before both looking at each other and sighing as they both remembered how many were still to come. The living room they'd emerged into was modest in size, already mostly taken up by a giant bookcase (empty for now), a sofa and a cabinet that the TV was going to go on. The room also merged onto the kitchen area, though Rory wasn't so bothered about the smallness of that particular area, she didn't think she'd be spending a lot of time there.
Despite the prospect of a day spent lugging boxes around the place, Rory couldn't help grinning. She hadn't been there since they'd first gone scouting for apartments about a month back, and then she'd been so swept up in finals that she hadn't been able to come see it again before the move in date. But now she'd graduated, had finally gathered together all of her earthly possessions (well, not all, this apartment could only really accommodate the essentials) and was ready to move in. And she couldn't be more thrilled. Sure, the place was tiny, the neighbourhood wasn't ideal, and the stairwell doors were a tad sticky, but still. It was hers.
Well, actually no, the whole point was that it wasn't just hers…
Male voices echoed into the living room/kitchen from the bedroom, as well as the thuds of a heavy object being unsuccessfully manoeuvred about. "I'm telling you, this is never going to fit in here, not if you don't want to lose the bed."
"The bed's negotiable at this point."
"You already have a bookcase in here! You don't need another one!" There was a pause, and Rory was fairly certain the owner of voice number one was being met with a sceptical look. "Well, whatever your skewed furniture priorities, this isn't going to fit."
"Okay, so we try the living room again?"
"There's already a bookcase in there, too!"
"I can barely fit in that room as it is."
At this the girls exchanged knowing looks and decided to make their presence known to the menfolk. They walked into the (also tiny) bedroom to find Jess and Luke wrestling with a comically large bookcase. One such bookcase was already taking up one side of the room, and the rest of the space was almost completely taken up by a double bed that was covered in cardboard boxes, most of which had Books scrawled on them in handwriting that was now intimately familiar to Rory.
"Hello, movers," Lorelai chirped happily, going over to greet her husband with a peck on the cheek.
"Tell him you don't need a third bookcase," Luke implored the two women by way of greeting.
"Sorry, Luke, no can do, in fact I'm considering springing for a fourth," Rory said with a demonic grin, much to the chagrin of her poor stepfather. She hopped over to Jess, who'd started laying down his end of the bookcase as soon as he noticed her entering the room, and promptly wrapped his arms around her once freed of the offending piece of furniture. "Hey, roomie," she said, with a grin, pulling him in for a kiss of greeting.
"Ack, we got enough of that at graduation, reel it in," Lorelai heckled from the sidelines, while Luke grumbled about being stuck holding up one end of the bookcase.
The newly reunited couple pulled apart reluctantly, and brought their attention back to the problematic bookcase. "Living room?" Rory suggested, throwing an apologetic look at Luke.
"Wonderful, yes, back to the living room, I could do this all day," Luke grumbled away, as the two men picked the bookcase back up and the women shuffled to allow them passage back into the living room.
"Sorry, Luke!" Rory said, as the lugging recommenced.
Luke gave her one of his patented gruff but affectionate smiles as the awkward procession made its way back through the apartment. "It's fine, I'm just happy that Yale mattress hasn't somehow made its way here."
"Well, speaking of, you might want to check the back of the Jeep," Lorelai teased.
"Don't test him," Jess warns. "He's managed to fit in at least eight rants about that mattress just on the ride over here from Brooklyn." Luke had showed up early to help Jess move his stuff over from his old place in Brooklyn, while the girls took Rory's stuff over from Stars Hollow in the Jeep.
"Well, the traffic in this ridiculous town made that quite a lengthy journey," Luke complained.
"Ah, we've stumbled upon Luke's second favourite conversational topic," Jess groaned, as they carefully squeezed the bookcase into place next to the first living room bookcase.
"Are you sure you want to live here, Rory? You should have seen some of the people we saw on the drive up here," Luke said, as they shoved the bookcase into place, relieved that they'd actually found a place for it to fit.
"Mom already ran the gamut as far as concerns about my living arrangement, Luke, you don't need to worry," Rory reassured him.
"And you really want to live with him?" Luke said, eliciting a customary eyeroll from his nephew. "He has two boxes that aren't labelled Books. Two."
"Just how I like 'em," Rory said, sharing a grin with her boyfriend of over a year.
Luke sighed. "You two are just as impossible as each other, you're well matched."
"Speaking of impossible," Lorelai chimed in, "we have a Jeep's worth of boxes to somehow fit into this closet of a place – hypothetical Emily's words, not mine, I think it's homey – care to give us a hand, males?"
And with that the four of them trudged back down the stairs and started to retrieve Rory's own collection of Books boxes from the Jeep, with many an affectionate complaint from Luke and Lorelai.
True to their plan, Jess had come to visit the previous summer, and him and Rory had pretty much lived together in Luke's tiny apartment the whole time. And it'd been the best summer of Rory's life. So much so, that when school rolled around and Rory headed back to New Haven and Jess to his apartment in New York, the abrupt change had been particularly gruelling. But they'd persevered, patching the distance with daily phone calls, regular visits, and frequent meetings in the middle at whatever bookstore they had yet to comb through together.
And so, when Rory had come to contemplate her future at the end of her final year at Yale, she was pretty sure where she wanted to be. Although Jess had made it clear that he wasn't wedded to New York, and since he was only doing odd jobs (as well as some mysterious writing project that he had yet to allow Rory to read, much to her exasperation), he was pretty much happy to follow her wherever her career took her, her heart was pretty set on joining him in New York. She knew that, despite his protestations, the city was his home, and what was more, it was within travelling distance of Stars Hollow, and she herself had come to love it from all the times she'd visited him there and got to know it through his eyes. So when she was offered a staff job at a small, but on-the-rise newspaper in Queens, it'd felt like fate.
And now, there they were, surrounded by boxes in the tiniest apartment imaginable, both of them grinning like idiots as they bid Luke and Lorelai goodbye and collapsed onto the couch together.
"You know what, I kind of like it as it is," Rory yawned, gesturing at the towers of boxes. "I don't think these boxes really need unpacking, I think it's much more important that we just stay here for the rest of eternity," she said as he wrapped an arm around her and she snuggled closer into his embrace.
"Ror, I love you, and it's because of that that I say this: if we don't ever unpack those boxes, and therefore never put those bookcases to use, Luke will actually murder us. Well, me, at least."
"Can I still snuggle with your corpse?" Rory asked, innocently.
"Tired. Warm. Cosy," Rory replied, letting her eyes drift shut and smiling as she felt Jess place a kiss on the top of her head. And then something occurred to her, and she shot up off the couch, suddenly awake. "Wait, I know something we actually do need to unpack!"
"Other than everything, you mean?" Jess asked, looking sleepily bemused at his girlfriend's sudden turnaround.
"Well, yes, but most importantly," Rory said, as she rummaged around in a box labelled Nostalgia, "this!"
She triumphantly held out Don, who she was glad to see had survived the move and looked just as ready to pick up garbage as ever. "Oh, great, you can really put him to good use around here," Jess replied. "You can start outside this very building, I saw at least four discarded bits of ready meal packaging out there."
"We could never demean Don in that way!" Rory cried with mock outrage.
"You mean, by using him for the purpose he was designed for?"
"We might not even be here if it wasn't for Don! We should hang him above our mantle or something!"
"I'm sure you would have found some other objection with my behaviour if Don hadn't been around, you've sure found enough since. Also, we don't even have a mantle."
"You're right," Rory said, a slight crease forming between her eyes as she scrutinised the room. "I don't see any spot worthy of him here, maybe in the bedroom, over the bed?" She was met with nothing but raised eyebrows. "Okay, fine, Don shouldn't have to see that. I guess here will do for now," she said, propping Don between the two bookcases and settling back down on the sofa.
"See? He's in the most important part of the room," Jess reassured her.
"Mm," Rory agreed, immediately reverting back to sleepy now that the Don issue had been resolved. "You know, I think this is my favourite part of the room," she said, snuggling back up against Jess' shoulder.
"Oh, yeah? How come?"
"It's the part where you are," she mumbled, lazily, turning to give him a grin that said I recognise how sappy I'm being, but just go with it.
"Shh," Jess mumbled into the top of her head. "You're going to make Don jealous."
A/N: There you have it, and now a mere four and a half years since the last chapter, I am done! Hope you enjoyed this little inconsequential epilogue, please do review to let me know what you thought, I've missed hearing from all of you!