A/N: Here we are at the end. Thank you to everyone that read this. When I found this on my hard drive I wasn't sure if I'd be able to make it work (it was a complete mess) but I did my best.
This chapter features only one song – Judy Garland's The Man that Got Away. Many of you may recall that that was the song playing when Luke and Lorelai made up in Season 5.
November 14, 2010
Lorelai was pulled abruptly from a lovely dream about plaid shirts and chocolate covered marshmallows by the bellowing of Duran Duran's Hungry Like the Wolf from the night stand to her left. She was content to let it continue and have the group's "doo doo doo doo" lull her back to sleep but the groaned roar of "For the love of God, shut it off!" from her right caused her to sit up and answer the offending contraption.
"I hope this is very very good," she mumbled into the phone.
Lorelai sat up straighter, sleep immediately leaving her and panic quickly settling in its place. "Rory? What's wrong? Where are you?"
More importantly, why wasn't she sound asleep downstairs in her bedroom?
"Well, nothing. At least not physically. I'm fine, really. You can quit the harsh breathing. I just wanted to talk to you before I got there."
At the knowledge that her daughter was not mangled and wasting away in some trash bin across town, Lorelai relaxed. A little. She was still receiving a distraught phone call at four in the morning, after all. "Got where?"
Lorelai noticed how the response hung in the air like a one-worded guillotine. "What happened, hon?"
"Well, I can't really get into all of it right now, but I sort of had a dream."
"Often a great catalyst for an early morning drive," Lorelai responded, remembering a similar instance many years ago that caused her to rip her daughter away from a book one night to get her packing and head on over to Massachusetts to give Harvard an unexpected visit.
"Yeah, and I can't do this anymore, mom. I have to break it off."
"Huh," Lorelai said, shocked but a little relieved. She adored David. She did. He was very good to her daughter. But there was something inside Rory that wasn't entirely happy with him. Lorelai could sense it. "Can I ask why you are leaving your fiancé and the man you've been with for almost three years?"
A head popped out of the blanket beside her. "What? She's leaving David? Why?"
Lorelai turned and shushed Luke, waving him away with her free hand.
"It's not right with him, mom. I've tried to ignore it and just be happy but it's like something's missing. I don't really know how to explain it, but it's wrong."
Lorelai heard the sadness in her daughter's voice and urged her on. "It's okay, babe. Just tell me what you're feeling."
There was a pause, as if her daughter was attempting to gather her thoughts, before "I never wanted my love for a man, nor our life together, to be described as 'comfortable.' I never wanted our kisses to become routine or our marriage to just be the next logical step. I want to marry someone because I love them and can't stand the thought of living without them. Because they complete me. Because it's right, and it isn't right with David, mom. Are you upset?"
"Of course not, honey. I just want you to be sure."
"I'm sure. The dream only helped me open my eyes a little wider."
"Well, I definitely have to hear about this eye-opening dream. You'll tell me about it later?"
"Of course I will, mom. I just have to deal with some things first."
"I got it," Lorelai said with a nod of her head. "Just call me when you're free, all right? And remember, I only want you to be happy. Go after what you want, hon. Whatever it is."
"Thanks, mom. I love you. I'll call you later."
"I love you, too." Lorelai hung up the phone with a soft click before turning to her worried husband.
"Is she okay? What did she say? Did he do something to her? I'll kick his art-loving, preppy ass if he hurt her."
Lorelai tilted her head to the side with a smile, adoring the man she'd promised her life to even more than she had just five minutes ago. "She sounded like she'll be all right," Lorelai affirmed as she curled up behind her husband of two and a half years and rubbed her hand across his stomach. "She'll call later with all the details. Let's go back to sleep." She smiled, hoping Rory went after something like what she had with Luke. "I love you."
Luke settled back into the covers, placed his hand over Lorelai's and whispered an "I love you, too," before drifting off back to sleep, his racing heart calmed down by Lorelai's words and her relaxed form behind him, telling him that Rory was okay.
4 Hours Later
With a soft click Rory shut the door of David's apartment behind her, tears streaming down her face, her left ring finger now bare. It was over. She leaned back against the door and breathed in the cold air, closing her eyes as she remembered the pain on her ex-fiancé's face when she'd told him she couldn't spend the rest of her life with him as she gave him back the ring. It was agonizing to know that the pain she'd seen form so easily in his eyes had been from her, but she kept her resolve. This had to be done, she knew. And she couldn't lie to him, either, for he had deserved to know the truth.
An Hour Earlier
"Why, Rory? Why?" David exclaimed after being handed the 2-carat princess-cut diamond ring he had given her four months prior.
"I'm so sorry, David," Rory said, her voice wavering as an endless stream of tears ran down her cheeks, "but I can't marry you. I realized something this morning – something that has been inside me for years and I can't ignore it anymore."
David stared at the brunette in front of him, wondering where this pain inside of her was coming from and wondering how he'd never noticed it. "What?" he whispered.
"I'm so sorry that it's come to this. I never wanted any of this to happen. I never wanted to hurt you."
A niggling notion presented itself. "Is there somebody else?" he asked, not entirely sure if he wanted to know the answer or not.
Rory she clasped her hands in front of her, as if praying for him to understand the bomb she was about to drop on him before nodding solemnly. "And it's not fair to you. Please, David. I need you to understand that I never meant for this to happen. I just…I can't do this anymore."
"Damn it, Rory. How could you do this to me?" he exclaimed, the knowledge that his fiancée was in love with some other man destroying him. "Don't you love me?"
"Of course I do!" Rory cried. "Of course I love you. I wouldn't be here if I didn't. I wouldn't have accepted if I didn't."
"THEN WHY ARE YOU LEAVING ME?" David screamed out as his heart broke in two.
"Because," Rory started, her voice soft, "I don't love you how I should. When you marry someone, you should love them with your whole heart. Where there's no room for anyone else."
He'd asked questions after that, of course. None of which she could answer. She'd never given him names, dates or places, as those types of details would have eaten him alive for the rest of his life. Instead she told him the plain truth – that it wasn't just Jess. It was what he'd represented. His reappearance had shown her that she was still waiting for something, something that she didn't have and something that David couldn't give her. Before she'd left, he'd asked her if she was sure. With quiet conviction she had affirmed that she was and he'd told her that he was sorry he couldn't give her what she wanted before whispering a goodbye and turning around to walk away.
It wasn't easy – not that she'd expected it to be – but it was done now and she could move on with her life. Move towards something that hopefully would be waiting for her.
She started walking towards her car, feeling the immense need to calm down before she showed up on Jess's doorstep. She turned on the radio, forgetting that she had left one of her old mix CDs in and it picked up right where it left off when she'd last been in the car. The ending chords of The Clash's Rock the Casbah could be heard before Judy Garland's soulful and aching voice filled the car. The corners of Rory's lips turned upwards as a laugh escaped her – how appropriate.
The night is bitter,
The stars have lost their glitter
The winds grow colder,
Suddenly you're older
And all because of the man that got away
No more his eager call,
The writing's on the wall,
The dreams you've dreamed have all
The Man That Got Away was undoubtedly her favorite song by Judy Garland. It was unendingly beautiful and she felt comforted and strengthened by the pain and suffering Rory could feel in her voice. As if Judy was carrying her through this moment, helping her along.
The man that won you
Has run off and undone you
That great beginning
Has seen a final inning
Don't know what happened, it's all a crazy game
Rory rolled down the window as she drove and breathed in the cool air, letting it help calm her racing heart. She would kill for a cup of coffee right about now.
No more that all-time thrill
For you've been through the mill
And never a new love will
Be the same
She imagined the scene in her head, wondering how it would actually pan out. It was a fruitless endeavor, really, since meetings with Jess never turned out how she thought they would.
Nevertheless, she prepared herself mentally for his rejection, attempted to calm the hope rising in her chest at the thought of him reciprocating and let the soothing sound of Judy guide her on what she should say.
Good riddance, goodbye
Ev'ry trick of his you're on to
But fools will be fools
And where's he gone to?
By the song's close, she felt a little better. At least someone had gone through what she was going through now. She remembered so many times when she would read a new book and wonder what Jess might think of it, or wonder what he was doing when she'd sit by herself on their bridge, or when she'd lie in bed at night and cry herself to sleep remembering his voice, his touches, his wonderfully passionate kisses. His smiles, though, she had missed the most. They were brief but true, and she savored them as she would a secret.
The road gets rougher,
It's lonelier and tougher
With hope you burn up,
Tomorrow he will turn up
There's just no letup the live-long night and day
She was doing something about it now, though – no more wondering what if. She wouldn't spend the rest of her life burning up with hope that he'll someday turn up at her door. She was going to him, finally, and letting him know that she was ready for him, for them.
Ever since this world began
There is nothing sadder than
A one-man woman looking for
The man that got away,
The man that got away
Rory smirked at the final words of the song. That may be true, but she no longer cared. I'll be pathetic if I have to be to get what I want, she thought with resolve as she drove on.
"I swear, parking's a nightmare," Rory grumbled, trying, and failing, to find a spot. She searched within a reasonable distance of his apartment for a good ten minutes before she found a spot two blocks away. She pulled in, deposited some quarters into the meter and walked towards his building, grateful for the early morning chill. It calmed her down somewhat.
They had met at his place last month before going to see the movie since he lived near the theater. She had loved his apartment the second she'd stepped inside. It wasn't very big, but it was so him. Every corner, nook and cranny practically screamed "Jess" and she loved every bit of it. He'd given her the grand tour and it was fun seeing how the man lived. The front door opened straight into the kitchen with a bathroom off to the right. To the left was the living room with a small sofa facing towards a TV and a desk in the corner covered with his laptop and papers. A door opened just further that led to his bedroom and she'd peeked inside. The bed was big enough to fit two people comfortably and there were paperbacks littered on the floor against the wall across from the door. The navy blue comforter was thrown haphazardly to the side and the dark grey sheets were rumpled, but she'd thought she'd never seen anything look so inviting.
Her favorite thing, however, had been that his entire compartment was covered in books. He had a bookshelf next to the sofa that was full, but it was obvious he needed more because there were piles of books everywhere. When asked, he'd explained that when Truncheon was bought out, a small collection didn't transfer to the new owners and he split it with the other guys that had worked there – Jess getting most of them, though. He was slowly making his way through them, the three piles by the desk yet to be read. Rory had been amazed that the middle pile hadn't toppled over, it was so high.
Reaching his building, Rory was able to catch the door just as someone was leaving. He lived on the fifth floor and as she was climbing the steps, she remembered how much she'd hated them the last time. She'd definitely inherited a hatred for all things physical from her mother. She finally reached the top step and walked over to stand in front of his door, preparing herself for whatever was about to come.
Considering the fact that it was eight in the morning on a Sunday, she made a wild guess that he wasn't up so she threw the idea of a light tapping out the window and began pounding on the door.
It took ninety-eight seconds – she'd counted – for the door to swing open and a livid looking Jess to appear. He was wearing dark grey sweat pants and a rumpled white t-shirt, his hair tousled from sleep, and she thought he'd never looked sexier. His expression had morphed into one of shock and then worry once he'd recognized who it was banging on his door. Before he could get a word out, she cut him off.
"I'm sorry. I'm so sorry."
At his furrowed brows, she clarified. "For everything that's happened between us. I hate that everything between us got so screwed up so many times. I never wanted to hurt you." At Jess's sigh, she paused, worried that she was being rejected already. But as she looked into his eyes and saw the pain surfacing beneath the calm façade he'd put up, she continued on with more conviction. "But I did. You're not the only one to blame for us, because I did a lot, too. By not wanting to hurt Dean, I hurt you. By not wanting to hurt Logan, I hurt you. And I hate that. I hate that I can't even count how many times I've hurt you. It's horrible." Rory paused, looking down at her feet – mostly out of shame. How could she have been so blind for so many years?
"No matter what you did before, there's no excuse for how I've treated you. I love you," she confessed with a soft smile, "and I couldn't do it anymore. I left David. Seeing you again on the street in June made me realize that I have been waiting for something. Something more than what I had with him. Something more than what he could give me. I'm sorry that it took me so long, so damn long, to realize that that something was you. It has been you all along, but I never knew that. I never knew and I hurt you because of that. I've been so stupid."
She stepped forward and grabbed his shirt in both of her hands, curling her fists, before laying her head against his chest. "I've been yours all along," she revealed, her voice slightly muffled. "Even though it took me a long time to realize it, even though you knew long before I did, I am. I'm sorry I made you wait and suffer." She looked up, tears streaming down her face. He was looking directly into her eyes. She felt like he could see right into her, like he'd always seemed to. His hands, which had been clenched at his sides, moved to rest on her hips. She could see in his expression that he was surprised at all that she'd said and was confused at where this was coming from.
She had to make him understand that it was real this time and that she wasn't turning back on them. She reached up her right hand to cup his cheek. "I lied to you," she sobbed. "That day you called me after you left. I lied to you and I'm sorry for that too. I was just so angry and hurt that you were gone." She paused, shaking her head back and forth at the memory of it. "I made you doubt me, how I felt, but I was scared. I was scared of how you made me feel – more alive and real than anybody I'd ever known. I told you that I might have loved you but I just needed to get over it, remember?"
He nodded, his intense gaze never leaving hers. She brushed her thumb across his cheek. "I lied, Jess. I knew I loved you, even then. I loved you so much and I didn't know how to deal with it. I was so distraught after you left that I didn't know what to do. The only way I knew how to make it through the day was to force you out of my brain and put up this strong front, make sure everyone believed I was okay and unaffected. But at night," Rory paused, thinking about all those nights when everything would get quiet and he would peek out from the corners of her mind. The feeling of his fingers softly rubbing the flesh at her hips spurred her on. "At night when it was dark and quiet – you would come to me and I'd cry myself to sleep for months. I fell for you so hard, at such a young age – I didn't know how to deal with any of it so I just started pretending that it didn't hurt. And I see it now – I've been pretending so long that I didn't even realize how much I needed you. Because I do. I need you."
She reached up her other hand and grasped his face in her palms, needing to make him understand more than anything. "You never deserved anything I did to you," she breathed, keeping eye contact. "Ever. You are so good and I never treated you how I should have. But I need you to know that I love you, I always have. I can't help it. I fell for you when I was seventeen and I can't stop." He looked down at that and she dipped her head to catch his gaze again. "I don't want to stop. I never want to stop loving you. You're it for me and I hate that I made you suffer when you should never hurt again. I am so proud of you, Jess. You got your life together and pulled me out of my shit. It was you I needed, it always has been."
She trailed her fingers along the side of his face, stroking his cheek before lowering her hands to grasp his shirt again. "When I think about you," she sobbed out, "I can't breathe because you're so damn far away." She closed her eyes and tightened her grip, laying her head on his chest again. "Please forgive me." She sobbed the words aloud, her desperation leaking out of her. "Please forgive me. Please, Jess. Please. Please, please forgive me." She was shaking now. His grip on her hips had tightened and she could feel the tension in his body. She looked up at him and saw that he had closed his eyes, his jaw tight.
Slowly he lowered his forehead to rest against hers and they stood like that for an eternity before she finally felt the tension leave his body and he said softly, "I love you."
At his response fresh tears ran down her cheeks. She quickly breathed in a deep sigh, smiling as she felt the elation fill her body. Leaning up, she kissed him, whispering that she loved him too. He reached around and tightened his arms around her, pulling her into his body. She reached up and wrapped her arms around his neck, her right hand tangling in his sleep-tousled hair. They stayed like that, just learning each other's taste and feel for another minute before he pulled her inside and shut the door.
As he pulled her further inside his apartment, she thought back to the dream that started this all. When they wrapped their arms around each other in the middle of his living room while the sun filtered in, she wondered if maybe someday they would have their own song. And as he took her hand and led her to his bedroom, she knew that dream Rory hadn't been false – awake Rory would be just as aware of Jess as her dream counterpart had been. She could feel it already, the burning trail his fingertips left on her skin.
She knew they had so much more to say, but as Jess pulled her close and fed her soft kisses, Rory knew that this moment was for reconnecting. They would talk later, for they had their whole lives ahead of them.
Rory breathed a deep sigh. She knew that this feeling, this wonderful, incredible feeling, had been worth waiting for. It was worth the heartache and the pain and the suffering and every other horrible thing that had happened between them because no longer was she waiting. No longer was she empty. They had each other now – for real this time.
A/N2: There it is, folks! My very first Literati story, all done. Many of you may still be reeling from Rory's confession/apology… it was a biggie. But I felt it necessary. A part of me has always felt that Rory was never good enough for Jess (she treated him like crap for a very long time, and the poor guy just took it) and that she'd needed to realize her own mistakes before they came together again.
Just a side note – the part near the end where Rory is begging Jess to forgive her repeatedly is borrowed from a scene in Sex & the City where Sarah Jessica Parker's character Carrie begs Aiden to forgive her ("You have to forgive me!"). That was such a powerful moment, and SJP's acting was amazing in it.
Again, thank you to every person that read this story. I hope enjoyed it as much as I did. Please review and tell me what you thought!