A/N: I own nothing, the characters belong to the show and I make no profit out of them.
Aarif's all mine, though:P


'Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.'
William James

Prologue

02 May 2011

"The cause of securing our country is not complete. But tonight, we are once again reminded that America can do whatever we set our mind to. That is the story of our history, whether it's the pursuit of prosperity for our people, or the struggle for equality for all our citizens; our commitment to stand up for our values abroad, and our sacrifices to make the world a safer place.

Let us remember that we can do these things not just because of wealth or power, but because of who we are: one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Thank you. May God bless you. And may God bless the United States of America."

Rory Gilmore put the newspaper back down on the kitchen table and closed her eyes. She could feel her eyelids burning, her temple was pulsing and suddenly she felt extremely exhausted. It was the first time in the last seventy-two hours when she actually had an opportunity to think of anything different from presidents and terrorists.

However, a few minutes passed before she was able to finally make her way to bed, throwing her shoes and clothes on the bedroom floor as she walked.

'Home. Finally. And in no more than twenty-four hours I'll be lining up for the bouquet.'

The thought of her mother's wedding made her smile. The next day Lorelai and Luke would make their steps down the aisle and say the three-letter word. Not that this wedding came as a surprise, it was rather a decision finally put to action. They had delayed this for almost three years, what seemed like an eternity.

First it was Rory's job, following the presidential campaign, then it was Jess going to Pakistan for almost two years... The mere thought of him going there still made her a little nauseous. As soon as she had heard about that from Lorelai, she had went straight to the Truncheon to... do what, exactly? Talk him out of it? Headstrong as he was, making him do anything without using some supernatural Jedi mind tricking powers was hard to imagine. Did she want to say goodbye? Maybe. Although she was a disaster at goodbyes. She just knew it would be a stupendous mistake not to go and see him before he left.

25 April, 2009

So, an early April morning in 2009 she materialized on Truncheon territory, not entirely sure he would even be there. She hadn't seen him since that unfortunate evening when she had come here for the first time. She had been busy at work and actually too ashamed to visit again. There had been some emailing, though. She had started with one or two letters on holidays and was relieved to find he answered them, eventually. So, here she was for the second time, hoping it would end up somehow differently this time.

'Okay, okay, coming, you here for the taxes or... Rory?' Jess appeared at the door, his eyes sleepy, T-shirt and sweatpants on.

'Hi.' She said, trying to read his expression, but it only bore surprise and... was that irritation? Given the early hour, it was bound to be, in fact. He closed his eyes and rubbed his forehead with his thumb and forefinger in attempt to concentrate and connect the dots that could possibly lead her to his door. Ah, but of course, she was on a mission – save poor self-destructive Jess or something.

'Lorelai shouldn't have told you,' he sighed and stepped aside so she could walk in.

'I'm also happy to see you, I guess,' Rory mumbled as she entered.

'Huh... Want something to drink?'he asked, heading for the fridge. The room was rather messy, there were a couple of boxes and bags packed around the sofa. Rory felt awkward. It all felt awkward, out of place. She felt an urge to start unpacking the baggage but shook it off.

'When are you leaving? Tomorrow?' Rory tried to play it cool, as if she were asking him when he was going to pick up the laundry, but suspected her voice trembled a little too much for that.

Jess closed the fridge and gave her a long look, two sodas in hands. He reminded her of a bartender in a western bar, fixing his eyes on a newcomer so he could measure him right away, using his bare eyes. She crossed her arms before her chest and waited, answering the look. Did he look a little different? His hair was cut a little shorter and he seemed to have put on a kilo or so, but apart from that he was still Jess. Stubborn, was-my-first-love, hurt-me-hurt-him, missed-him… oh, shut up, Gilmore… Jess.

'Tomorrow, late in the evening,' he answered at last and put the two bottles on the bar plot.

'Were you going to tell me?' she asked quietly, tucking her hair behind her ear, her eyes focusing on her shoe tips. This question was fighting its way from the second she learned that he was going to Pakistan to make a research for his next book. She didn't want this to sound like she was calling him to account for not telling her. After all, it was kind of his habit to leave without a word to anyone. But this time he was going to leave without a word to her only and she kind of felt she deserved it.

'I...' he made a pause and she read his expression this time. He had thought about it, if not else. 'I was going to write to you. Later.' He pronounced the words slowly, almost carefully, so she didn't get him wrong. He would tell her when he was already there.

'Look, Rory, it's not as if I'm joining the army or something, I'm just going on a... field trip. And I'm planning on coming back in a couple of months, all body parts hopefully in place and everything, I promise.'

She watched him as he joked and it made her feel a little nauseous. Okay, Rory, you wanted to come, here you are, what now? She hadn't really expected him to act any differently than he actually did. Of course he wouldn't change his mind, especially on such a decision, just because she told him to... The other way around, she had had great use of his words back then, almost one year ago, when he reminded her to be true to her dreams and do her thing, no matter what.

'You really want to do this, Jess?' she asked incredulously. It sounded downright stupid, really, but she wanted to put it simple.

Jess raised his eyebrows but restrained a smile as he studied her more closely. He pondered over the answer, not only because he wanted it to be correctly interpreted, but also because he had asked himself the same question millions of times before he bought a ticket and started packing.

His interest in terrorism originated from anger, in one way or another. And anger was always an untrustworthy adviser. And it was nevertheless related to her, one way or another. That night when Rory visited him here, almost one year ago, had been some break-point, at least that was how he saw it. She had come and altered their relationship in some way, pretty irreversibly. Something got broken that night and he had to change his point of view or else he would just stay stuck in self-pity and anger for months or even years. He had pretty much lived with the idea that when he fixed himself, when he achieved something in life, he would be able to fix them and make it work somehow.

Anyway, it turned out things didn't work his way and at first that pissed him really a lot. And then another thought came by, strongly assisted by Matt and Chris – it didn't actually have to be the end of him. The end of Rory and Jess didn't have to be the end of Jess, after all. He had started something good. Something worthy. He had published a book, that's a start, he had met two guys, geeky enough to work with him and together they had made the Truncheon. So, he could put the ashes of one dream in the built of another, or at least that was what Matt had said one evening, assisted by a certain quantity of wine. That same night, Jess, encouraged by the same, plus some extra whiskey, had thought this was the best piece of advice Matt had given him. Ever.

It turned, eventually, Matt might have been right.

So, Jess started searching for something bigger than the first book, bigger than Rory, something that would make a difference, something that would count if he did it right. Maybe, of all people, he didn't tell her about his plans exactly because he feared she might somehow be able to change his mind and stop him from detaching himself from her. There were moments when he hated this ridiculous dependency he had on her, this close to obsessiveness addiction that made him want her around just because with her life tasted better.

'I want this to count,' he said at last, shrugged a shoulder and drank from his soda.

Rory nodded thoughtfully and approached the bar-plot. She took her bottle and drank, too, taking a look around the place.

'You didn't take much, did you?', she asked, addressing his luggage.

'Books, mostly,' he said, a little surprised she had somehow changed the topic. It was his thing to do, escaping uncomfortable conversations, not hers.

'Can I ask you a favor?'she asked casually.

'Am I gonna regret it ever since?', he smirked. 'Wait, stupid question, do I keep my right of a death wish at least? You're playing The Clash on my funeral.'

'Come with me to 'Legally Blonde the Musical', they're playing it tonight.' she spilled, leaving him wordless for a couple of seconds, right before he burst into sincere laughter.

'You want me to come see The Blonde with you, that's your favor?' he inquired, rubbing his eyes, trying not to burst into laughter again.

'Yup.', she confirmed simply.

Jess looked at her quizzically, as if he expected this to be some sort of bait, but she simply looked back.

'Okay, then, I'll come see the blonde with you,' he shrugged, trying to look casual. He got it now, that was her way to say she accepted his decision and would respect it. She believed him when he said this whole project was so important to him. In some way, it touched some part of him he thought he had long buried.

Late next evening Jess got on a plane to Pakistan. Back then, he never imagined it would be no sooner than two years later that he would get on the same plane again, only this time, on his way back.


Mood song – 'Sometimes you can't make it on your own', U2

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