"Now who the hell could that be?" Luke frowned as he got up and went to answer the door. He gripped the door knob harder than usual and opened the door before stopping dead in his tracks at the person standing before him. "Jess?" He whispered.
"Luke" Jess nodded and shoved his hands into his pockets. "We really need to talk."
"Who's there?" Lorelai asked as her own curiosity led her to the front door.
"Lorelai" Jess said as he saw her.
Lorelai frowned and looked at him as if she were sizing him up for a fight. "Jess" She hissed.
"Lorelai, I've got to talk to you." Jess sounded desperate.
"Jess, you need to leave." She insisted.
"I can't. I've got to talk to you about Ryan. I need to see him." Jess pleaded.
Lorelai came through the front door so quickly she practically pushed Jess over. She grabbed his arm and pulled him through the front yard and behind the garage where they were out of sight. "You listen to me Jess because I'm only going to say this once. Ryan is sleeping is Rory's old bedroom and I don't want him to meet you like this. In fact, I think it's best if you don't meet him at all. You've never been there for him, so don't get off thinking you can come back and play Daddy now. Forget it. You've had your chance and you threw it away. Get out of here before I'm forced to do something I'll regret."
"He's my kid. You can't keep me from him forever." Jess protested as Luke walked up to them.
"Lorelai" He said, but stopped when he saw the fire in her eyes.
"Look, I know this is crazy for me to just show up like this." Jess shook his head. "I can't stop thinking about Ryan. I feel so guilty about what I did and now I want to make it right."
"You have really bad timing, Jess." Lorelai said. "Rory was just here for the weekend and totally screwed up. She really upset Ryan and I don't want anyone else hurting him."
"I'm not here to hurt him."
"That may not be your intention, but you're here for selfish reasons. You're thinking about how to ease your own conscience, not be a Father to Ryan. You had that opportunity and walked away from it. This is not the time to reconnect, so just walk away again."
"No, I can't do that." Jess insisted.
"You better." Lorelai stared at him. "I'm not allowing you in the house tonight or any time soon, so just forget it."
"Lorelai, please." Jess begged, but Lorelai just shook her head and walked away, leaving him and Luke standing there.
"Jess, this isn't a good time." Luke explained. "Rory's visit wasn't good and we've all still recovering. It's late, so you can stay at the apartment over the diner tonight. Stay there and don't cause any trouble. You and I will discuss this further in the morning."
"Jess, this isn't up for discussion tonight. Just go sleep and we'll talk tomorrow. The spare key's still above the door." Luke said and waved as he walked away.
Jess stood there a few minutes longer before finally turning and walking to his car. He got in and backed out of the driveway as Luke watched from the living room window.
"I so can't deal with this right now." Lorelai sighed and began to walk upstairs.
"Lorelai, we can't ignore him." Luke argued and followed her up the stairs.
"What if Ryan heard him or saw him?" Lorelai whispered as Luke shut the bedroom door.
"I don't think so."
"I just don't want to have to explain Jess to Ryan right now. We've got all we can handle with Rory. I just can't deal with this right now."
"I'll go talk to Jess." Luke offered. "I'll do it tonight so you don't have to deal with it."
Lorelai huffed at his accusation. "It's not that I don't want to deal with Jess, it's just that I'm emotionally exhausted, Luke."
"I know." Luke nodded. "I'm not trying to be a jackass here; I'm just offering to help. I know how to communicate with Jess."
"I know. I'm sorry to bite your head off." Lorelai sighed.
"It's ok." Luke nodded. "Can we discuss our plan with Jess?"
"Our plan?" Lorelai frowned and sat on the edge of the bed. "I don't know. How about Jess just goes away?"
"That may work for a little while, but I don't think he'll go away forever. He might be serious about being in Ryan's life."
"Yeah, but do we want that?"
"I do." Luke nodded. "I'm pissed that Jess left Ryan and Rory, but I don't think we should keep Jess away from Ryan forever. We need to be open to the idea of them meeting."
"Is that really our place? Shouldn't Rory be involved in that decision?" Lorelai frowned. "As screwed up as she is, she is Ryan's Mother and has some say in his life."
"True, but we're basically in charge of Ryan now. I'll talk to Jess and see what he thinks, but I think Jess and I need to reestablish our relationship before he meets Ryan."
"That's a good start. You can make sure he's sincere about being a Father."
"Or if he's just wanting to see Ryan to pacify his own guilt."
"Ok, why don't you go talk with Jess and see what his true intentions are. We can figure the rest out after that." Lorelai said.
"Sounds good. See you in a bit." Luke said and kissed her before leaving.
When Luke arrived at the diner a few minutes later, the lights were on in the apartment. He unlocked the front door and quickly walked up the stairs. Jess was sitting on the couch with his arms crossed over his chest, staring at the coffee table.
"Hey" Luke nodded and sat down in a chair near the couch.
"Hey" Jess said and looked at Luke. "Luke, I really want to meet Ryan."
"Ok" Luke nodded. "Not tonight or tomorrow. Jess, this is a big deal."
"I know that. That's why I'm here." Jess stressed.
"But you really screwed up by leaving Ryan. You could have been involved in his life all along, but you chose to walk away."
"I was messed up, Luke. We've gone over this before."
"So why do you really want to see Ryan now? Is it guilt or what?"
"I should have found Ryan sooner. I feel horrible for not being a part of his life. I've got to get involved now and make an impact while there is still time."
"I guess I can understand that. However, you're missing one really important thing; Ryan doesn't have any idea who his Father is. He knows you left when he was a baby, but that's about it. He doesn't even know your name."
Jess tried to hide the hurt in his eyes as he thought about what Ryan had been told.
"It's going to be a big shock to Ryan if you just show up out of the blue, Jess. He's been really close to Rory his whole life, but now he's dealing with the disappointment and hurt her addiction is causing. Lorelai and I both feel like Ryan needs to have a stabilizing force in his life for a while before you meet him. We might start by telling him who his Father is, but that's a ways off. First, Lorelai and I need to get some sort of guardianship or custody of Ryan. You're his biological Father, so you still have some rights too. I'm a little concerned about that actually."
"Well, I think that Lorelai and I need to raise Ryan on our own for a little while and I can't have you jeopardize that by challenging us in court."
"You're asking me to step aside in exchange for a promise that I'll someday be allowed to be in Ryan's life?"
"Basically, yes." Luke nodded.
"No" Jess snapped. "If Rory can't take care of Ryan, I will."
"Jess, don't do this. Just let Lorelai and I take care of him; it's for the best."
"You don't know that." Jess insisted. "I'm married and have a family. I know how to take care of a kid now."
"But he doesn't know you." Luke pleaded.
"He didn't know you and Lorelai until a month or so ago."
"We never ran out on him; you did." Luke pointed out.
Jess sighed and shook his head. "Luke, I screwed up. I want a second chance with Ryan."
"No" Luke insisted. "You can't just come back here and demand this. It's not fair to Ryan. You left him and made your choice a long time ago. You can't just take it all back now."
"Then I guess we're going to fight this out in court." Jess stood up and began to walk toward the door. "I'm not giving up."
"Jess" Luke sighed, but Jess just shook his head and walked out the door. "Crap" Luke whispered and realized what a mess he'd just created.