Disclaimer: I own nothing. The characters belong to the show and I make no profit out of them.

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

Chapter 1: Prologue

May 02 , 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 pulsating 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 into 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. Or 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.

Apr 25, 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 came here for the first time.

Then, as months passed, she had been busy at work ('busy' meaning '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.

'Hey.' Rory greeted and smiled broadly, trying to avoid the initial awkwardness.

Well, isn't this a day of surprises?

Jess ran a hand through his hair and stopped at the threshold, holding on to the doorknob.

He didn't smile back. Of course he won't smile back, what did you expect?

'Sorry for waking you,' she started apologetically, 'I wanted to make sure, ehm, I caught you home,' she finished and bit her lip.

She tried to read his shifts of expression, but they mainly showed surprise, followed by a quick unreadable glitter and then... was, was that annoyance? Given the early hour, it was bound to be.

Of course.

Jess 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's 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.

She took a look around. The room was rather messy, there were a couple of bags and packed boxes, as well as a large suitcase by the sofa. Rory felt awkward. It all felt awkward, out of place. She felt an urge to start unpacking, he didn't have to leave, she wanted to empty those bags, take the baggage out, throw the suitcase out of the window. She shook that urge off.

'When are you leaving? Tomorrow?'

She was trying to play it cool. Hey, when are you leaving, Jess? As if she were asking him when he was going to pick up the laundry. She suspected her voice trembled a little too much to pull the intended coolness off.

'Why do I feel like I'm running out of time? Was it really so important that I came here and talked to him before he left? It doesn't concern me where he decides to go. Not anymore. I haven't been there for him for the last couple of years, so what difference does it make if I am now? But today I 'm here. Today, I wanna be here for you, will you let me?'

Jess closed the fridge and gave her a long look while holding a soda in each hand. He reminded her of the bartender in a western movie, fixing his eyes on a newcomer so he could measure her right away, using his bare eyes.

Rory crossed her arms before her chest and waited, using the opportunity to make observations of her own.

Did he look a little different? His hair was cut somewhat shorter than he used to keep it, he also seemed to have put on a kilo or so and his eyes lacked their previous fascination with her but apart from that he was still Jess.

Stubborn, grown-up, 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 kitchen island.

'Were you going to tell me?' she asked quietly, tucking a strand behind her ear, her eyes focusing on her shoe tips.

This question had been 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.

'It's not as if I'm joining the army or something,' he shrugged a shoulder, 'I'm just going on a...'he waved a hand nonchalantly, '... 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 tried to joke about it and it made her feel a little nauseous.

Okay, Rory, you wanted to come. You came, now what?

Truth be said, she hadn't expected him to act any differently than he did. Of course he wouldn't change his mind, especially on such an important decision, just because she told him to... The other way around, she had had great use of his words one year ago, when he reminded her to hold on to herself and do her thing, no matter what.

'You really want to do this, Jess?' she asked incredulously. It sounded downright stupid asking him such a question given the circumstances, but she wanted to put it simple.

Jess raised an eyebrow but restrained a smile as he studied her 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 the plane ticket and started packing.

His interest in terrorism originated from anger, in one way or another. And anger was always an untrustworthy adviser. To make things even worse, his anger was nevertheless related to her. The infamous open house incident had been some break-point, at least that was how he saw it. She had come and altered their relationship, pretty irreversibly. Something got broken that night and he had to change his point of view or else he would just stay stuck in that moment, devoured by anger and self-pity.

The thing was, 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. Like 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 started Truncheon. When a dream burns, you can put the ashes in the built of another (or at least that was what Matt had said one evening, inspired 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 out that eventually, Matt might have been right.

So, Jess started searching for something bigger than the first book. Bigger than disappointment, bigger than Rory, something that would make a difference and count if he did right. Maybe, of all people, he didn't tell her about his plans because he feared she might somehow be able to change his mind and stop him from detaching himself from her.

No... Rory? Still? It's ancient history.

Perhaps you never really got over the one person who made you believe in a better version of you.

There were moments when he hated this ridiculous dependency he had on her, this close to obsession 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 kitchen island. 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 temple, 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. Blue. Sinking and drowning into this blue abyss had always been so quick and easy.

'Okay, then,' he shrugged, trying to look casual. 'I'll come see the blonde with you.'

He got it now. That was her way to say she accepted his decision and would respect it.

I'm sorry I doubted you. It's okay, I would've doubted me, too.

She believed him when he said this whole project was so important to him. In some way, it touched a part of him he thought he had long buried.

Because you didn't say goodbye.

Oh. Bye, Rory.

Bye, Jess.

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 that same plane, only this time, on his way back.

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

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