I was sitting on my bed, listening to my mother's best friend Sookie fretted to her boyfriend Jackson about what to make for Mom's friend (who is clearly in love with her) Luke's nephew Jess. It was ridiculous because everything she made was amazing, but anyway, that was Sookie.
I glanced up from my sketching to see my identical twin sister Rory frantically typing away on her computer. My hair was short, hers was long. I tended to wear funky little outfits, whereas Rory was conservative. In any case, those were the ways to tell us apart. We both loved to read, but Rory was obsessed with school. I was obsessed with drawing and boys.
"Oh, wow, something smells good," Mom complimented as she walked into the kitchen beside Rory's and my bedroom. This whole get together was her idea, to welcome Jess to Stars Hollow. Word around town wasn't in his favour, but that had never bothered me before. I was intrigued to meet him.
After some chit chat, Mom knocked on our door.
"Miladies?" she said.
"Come in," Rory called, as I was once again concentrating on my drawing. I tended to zone out once I got really into it. I returned to reality as Mom came in.
"Hey, you guys joining the festivities?"
"In a sec," Rory said.
"You sound crabby," Mom commented.
"I'm concentrating," she explained.
"Okay, don't concentrate too hard. Boys like 'em dumb, right Jackson?"
Jackson called from the next room, "If you can navigate yourself around a tree, keep on walking,"
"I left a textbook upstairs," Rory said. "I'll be right back,"
"Bathroom reading?" I teased and she rolled her eyes at me as she quickly darted out of the room.
"Ava?" Mom turned to me.
"Mom!" I groaned. "I've almost got this shading perfect,"
Thankfully a knock at the front door distracted her.
"Coming!" Mom called, leaving me to it for a few moments before I was sure she would summon me out.
I could hear him being introduced to the crazy people known as my family and friends, and Mom called out, "Rory, Ava, they're here,"
"Coming," I called, then turned and saw a gorgeous dark haired boy. Never one to falter in front of a guy, I casually said, "Hey,"
"Hey," he said, walking into the bedroom.
"I'm Ava," I said, closing my sketchbook.
"Yeah, I figured," he said, and I laughed. He looked at me, confused.
"You'd have a fifty-fifty shot of guessing I'm Ava," I said. "Because I'm taking it you haven't met Rory yet?"
He smirked. "I caught a glimpse as she ran up the stairs, but Luke said one twin was an artist and the other…"
He seemed hesitant to reveal more, but I could already guess why.
"Super smart?" I said, not really caring. In English, I could easily match Rory. I just didn't care as much for the other subjects, hence me remaining at Stars Hollow High while she went to the snobby prep school known as Chilton.
He grinned, looking relieved that I hadn't been bothered by it.
"Her books?" he said, as he looked at one of our bookshelves.
"One of the few things Rory and I have in common, actually," I said. "We read most of the same stuff,"
"Wow, aren't we hooked on phonics,"
"Do you read?" I asked. Most of the guys around Stars Hollow weren't big readers.
"Not much," he said, taking a book of the shelf and examining it. I noticed it was Howl.
"I could loan you that if you want,"
"No thanks," he said, ultra casually. I put my hands on my hips.
"Sure whatever," I said, not really believing that he read at all. I was starting to think that Playboy was considered reading material for this guy. Damn, and he was so cute too.
Mom poked her head in. "Okay, we really need to get Jackson away from the lemons now, so we're moving the feast in the living room," she said, walking away.
"Coming," I called, getting up.
"So do these open?" he asked, looking at the window.
"Nice try," I said. "But I have to live with these people, and so will you in this town. Not worth it to bail. Plus, it's Tuesday night in Stars Hollow. There's nowhere to bail to. The 24-hour mini-mart just closed twenty minutes ago,"
I'd heard he was from New York, so I took it that he thought there would actually be something good to do.
"So we'll walk around or sit on a bench and stare at our shoes,"
"Scared off by the crazies are you?" I teased, as I headed for the doorway.
"No," he muttered.
"Come on," I laughed. "I'll protect you, trust me,"
"I don't even know you," he protested.
"Well, don't I look trustworthy?" I said with mock innocence. Even with identical features, I couldn't pull what Rory could effortlessly.
"No," he laughed, and I grinned in triumph. I had a feeling it wasn't that easy to make Jess laugh. We entered the kitchen. "Want a drink?"
"I'll get it," he said, and I went into the living room where everyone else was congregated.
"Hey Ava, where's Jess?" Luke asked as I walked in.
"Grabbing a drink," I said, hoping he was going for something non-alcoholic. He was clearly the type to drink just to get a reaction.
Mom handed Luke a plate.
"I'm sorry, you must've mistaken me for you," he deadpanned, making me laugh. We Gilmores were famous for eating huge amounts of food.
"Ooh, too much?"
Sookie slapped a hand to her forehead, as Rory ducked around her to grab a plate. "Oh, I forgot the garlic bread,"
"I'll get it," Mom offered, heading into the kitchen. After a moment, I followed her, curious as to why Jess wasn't back yet. He wasn't in the kitchen. Mom had already pulled the bread out of the oven and then headed out the front door.
I peeked out of the window to see my mom taking a beer out of Jess' hands.
"Oh, for me, hey, thanks," she took a sip. "Refreshing. So what, you're not hungry?"
"Well, Sookie made you some grilled cheese if you don't like pot roast," Mom offered.
"Oh, well, if I'd had known that…" he said, heavy on the sarcasm.
"Let me guess, you don't want to be here?" she said.
"Doesn't matter," Jess shrugged.
"I mean, here in Stars Hollow," Mom clarified.
"Well geez, Ms. Gilmore, why would anyone not want to be here in Stars Hollow? That just sounds plum crazy."
"Ugh, Jess, let me give you a little advice. The whole 'my parents don't get me' thing, I've been there,"
"You have, huh?" Jess said, clearly not caring.
"Yes, I have. I've also done the 'chip on my shoulder' bit. Ooh, and the surly, sarcastic, 'the world can bite my ass' bit, and let me tell you, I mastered them all, in heels, yet. And everything you're feeling might be totally justified, maybe you are getting screwed. But Luke is a great guy. He's very special, and he really wants to take care of you and make things right for you. You're incredibly lucky to have him. If you give this situation half a chance, you might be surprised at how good it can be, how much you like living here, and how comfortable it feels to have someone like Luke you can really depend on."
Her rant came to an end, and while much too soppy, I could tell her heart was in the right place. She was trying to help out Luke.
"What are you sleeping with him or something?" Jess' blunt reply made me see red. What an ass!
"Excuse me?" she said, completely taken aback. For all the lip I gave her, she had never received such disrespect from a teenager before. Even I had a line I knew not to cross.
"I don't know. The whole starry eyed 'you're so much better off, just give it a chance' speech. You're either really naïve, or you're getting some."
"Ugh. There have been very few moments in my life where I have actually wished I had one of those enormous cream pies you can just smash in someone's face, but this is definitely one of them."
"Well, now, that's not very neighbourly," he said mockingly.
"Hey, you know what, this is my house, and I choose how I get talked to in it," she snapped.
"You know, you don't know anything about me, or my life, or my mom, or Luke, so why don't you Doctor Laura someone else."
"I'm going inside, stay out of my fridge," she finally lost her temper and headed inside. Guessing Jess wasn't about to return, I quickly headed out the front door. Nobody noticed me go, so caught up in getting the food. As predicted, I ran into Jess almost immediately.
"Hey!" I called angrily.
"Hey," he said, looking surprised to see me.
"You're an ass," I said bluntly.
"You. Are. An. Ass." I snapped. "Yeah, some of what she said was a little lame. And no, she doesn't get everything about you and your life. But she put this whole dinner on for you without knowing you. I get it, you're mad at the world," I said mockingly. "Who isn't? We're teenagers, the world is supposed to be a shitty place right now. That doesn't mean you treat someone like you just did."
"You Gilmores rant, don't you?"
I narrowed my eyes at him. "Now turn around," I said. "We are going to eat dinner. I will even try and redirect all the crazy from you."
He looked at me in shock. "I'm not going back in there,"
I sighed. "Jess, go in there or don't. It's up to you. If you think this is going to be a nicer place to live because you've deliberately alienated everyone, you're an idiot."
I turned and started to walk away.
"The ugly and the stupid have the best of it in this world. They can sit at their ease and gape at the play. If they know nothing of victory, they are at least spared the knowledge of defeat." Jess quoted.
I froze. "Oscar Wilde,"
I turned back to him. He really was full of surprises.
"I thought you didn't read much?" I accused.
"What is much?" he said. "You know you're pretty bossy,"
I put a hand on my hip. "You're full of surprises,"
"So are you," he replied. "So what is your personality exactly? Suffering artist? Literary in disguise? Crazy rant lady? Bossy?"
"As opposed to you, Mr I Don't Read Much but can quote Wilde, be rude to my mother but put up with me yelling at you,"
He smirked. "Well she was hardly as pretty, was she?"
"Well you're certainly not the ugly and stupid," I said.
I grinned. "To think I had an air of mystery. You saw exactly where I was going with that."
"Fine, I'll eat," he said, falling into step beside me as we walked back around the house. "You better protect me from the crazy,"
"Look, I'll give it my best shot," I compromised. "You'll learn to find it entertaining at the very least, trust me,"
Luke was in the backyard as we walked up. He looked angry, so I put on a bright smile.
"Just giving Jess the tour," I said. "Let's eat, I'm starving,"
I dragged Jess by the arm behind me, followed after a moment by a confused looking Luke.
It was clear during dinner that Mom and Luke had had a fight, clearly over the fight Mom had had with Jess. Dinner was slightly less energetically crazy than usual, other than Sookie's usual rants on the food.
Everyone left not too long later. Rory volunteered to clean up as Mom went to bed claiming a migraine. Reluctantly, I helped Rory clean up.
"So what was with all the tension?" she asked. "And where did you and Jess disappear off to?"
"Just giving him a tour," I said flippantly. Rory and I shared a bedroom but existed in different worlds, with books our only bridge of communication.
She gave me a look that suggested she didn't believe me, which I ignored. I couldn't stop thinking of the dark haired boy who could quote Oscar Wilde.
Mom was avoiding Luke's. This was a nightmare. The three of us stood out the front of Luke's Diner, while I tried to look in and see if I could spot Jess. Disappointed, I realised he wasn't there.
"You're being completely childish," Rory said to Mom.
"Am not," Mom said childishly.
"So what, we're never gonna go into Luke's again?"
My eyes went wide at this. "Oh God, no. That cannot happen. We'll starve without Luke's, Mom!"
Mom sighed heavily. "Guys, this was a bad one, okay? This was not Nick and Nora, this was Sid and Nancy, and I'm not going in there."
"But the coffee is in there," I said bluntly. "A Gilmore goes where the coffee is,"
"And it's Danish Day. Are you seriously telling me that you're gonna let a stupid fight get in the way of Danish Day?" Rory continued to cajole.
"No, I'm not," Mom said. I looked at her suspiciously. That was too easy.
"Good," Rory said with relief.
"So go in there and order three coffees and three Danishes to go,"
"You're kidding, right?" Rory said.
"Don't worry, guys, I've got this," I said.
"Thank god, you beautiful child," I looked at her in amusement, before she got irritated when she decided I wasn't going fast enough. "So go on, scoot, scoot, Mommy's right here,"
I walked up to the counter where Luke was waiting for me.
"Hey Luke," I said casually.
"Ava," he nodded.
"Mom needs her coffee," I said bluntly. "And it's Danish Day. Can't we let it all go for the sake of Danish Day?"
"I'll give you what you order, I'll give Rory what she orders," he said bluntly. Good god, these two were so stubborn.
"Fine, I want three cherry Danishes and three cups of coffee," I said firmly.
"Tell you what, I'll give you one Danish and one cup of coffee, you can sit over there and eat, and when you're finished them right over there where I can see you, then I'll bring you a second one, followed by the third round when you finish that."
Oh great, how was I supposed to convince Jess the town wasn't completely crazy when his own uncle had officially lost his mind?
"You're really just gonna stand there and watch me eat a Danish?" I said skeptically.
"Cable's out. I'm starved for entertainment."
"Okay, this is insane. So you guys had a fight, big deal. You know you're gonna make up anyway, and do you know what that woman is like without coffee? Think of the children, Luke! So do it for the children, and for Danish Day,"
Without even blinking at my dramatic speech, he said, "One Danish, one cup of coffee, take it or leave it."
"I'll take it," I said miserably, knowing my mother was going to be all over me. I glanced around. "So, is Jess around?"
"He's out," he said, looking at me suspiciously. "Is that coming from you or your mother?"
"From me," I admitted, and Luke looked surprised. "What? I was just being friendly. It has been known to happen on occasion."
Okay, so usually I mocked people and had bonded with Luke over that, but still. I could be friendly.
"Well like I said, he's out," he said. "Come back soon,"
I walked out to where my mother and sister were waiting.
"Well?" Mom said hopefully.
"He would only sell me one," I said. "He will only sell Rory and I one each,"
"Did you lie and say they were all for you and Rory?"
"Mom, he can see you out here!"
"Besides, Luke knows you well enough to know that you're not gonna go a whole day with no coffee and especially no Danish." Rory said knowingly.
"Ugh!" Mom said, completely frustrated.
"Just go in there and make up, and you'll have your own coffee and Danish," I advised.
"Why don't you give me half your Danish and some coffee?" she pleaded.
"Why doesn't Rory try and convince Luke?" I suggested, hoping to keep my whole coffee and Danish. When Mom turned to badger Rory, I quickly made my escape and headed to school.
After school, I decided to head for the bridge. It was my favourite place to relax in all of Stars Hollow. I'd heard rumours that Jess had stolen change from the tyrannical Taylor Doose's donation cup to repair the bridge. I never had any problems with the bridge, but that was Taylor. Always looking to 'improve' something in this town.
When I arrived, I was startled to see Luke storming off into the distance and Jess making his way out of the lake. I couldn't help it, I burst out laughing.
He looked up and his cheeks went slightly pink. "Oh great,"
"Not happy to see me?" I asked as I sat down in my usual place.
"The world in general," he corrected me as he made his way onto the bridge, dripping wet.
"Did Luke push you in?" I asked, hardly believing it and giggling once Jess confirmed it with a nod. "Sorry," I said once I'd calmed down. "I didn't see you at school,"
"Oh, I was there," he said, taking his jacket off and sitting beside me. A school that says the Pledge of Allegiance in six different languages?"
I shrugged. "Only if you want extra credit. I say it in plain old English, and do most of the people there. What's the problem?"
His slightly panicked eyes looked slightly calmed by this news. "Really?"
"Really," I said with amusement. "Let me guess, you had Mr Thomas?"
"He's a hard ass, he'll tell you that you need to learn all the languages," I explained. "None of the other teachers care at all,"
"Oh," he sighed, looking immensely relieved. "I saw you at lunch, but you were with a group of friends,"
"You should have come over," I said. "Anything else panicking you?"
"Other than being taken away from my whole life in New York?"
"Other than that," I conceded.
"Well, I'm wet,"
He laughed. "I better go change,"
"I'll see you later,"
Too distracted to draw (finding it too funny Luke had actually pushed Jess into the water) I headed home and straight for the cupboard, hunting for a snack as Mom arrived home in a typically dramatic fashion.
"Girls?" she called.
"Kitchen," Rory called from where she was doing homework at the kitchen table.
"Nowhere in either Stars Hollow or its surrounding counties can you get a decent cup of coffee," she complained, heading straight for the fridge and grabbing out a bag of coffee beans, starting to make herself a cup. "I swear, it's like a big, stupid coffee conspiracy."
"Why don't you just pour the water right into the bag?" I teased, eating from a bag of chips.
"You jest? Believe me, the thought has crossed my mind," Mom retorted. "It's looking better and better all the time,"
Rory quickly ducked into our room and Mom looked over her notes as the coffee machine got to work.
"Rory, what's this?"
I was surprised by Mom's interest in what Rory was writing, Lorelai Gilmore was hardly academic.
"What?" Rory called.
"This that you're working on?"
I walked over to have a look, and was surprised to see Max's name written down. Max Medina, one of Rory's teachers, had been engaged to Mom before she had had a classic freak out, resulting in a sporadic road trip for the three of us to see Rory's dream school. I think Mom was trying to encourage me, but I spent the trip with my head focused on a sketch. Rory and Mom clicked in a way that was very easy to leave me out at times.
"Oh, that's my interview with Max," Rory said awkwardly, approaching us.
"What interview with Max?" Mom asked.
Rory explained Paris had basically got her to do it, and I leaned against the bench, somewhat depressed. I had liked Max, and then he was abruptly gone from our lives. It rang too close to my relationship with my father. Rory adored him. I went out of my way to actively avoid him, typically.
"Well, I'm going to buy a folder for it before the store closes," Rory said.
"I'll come with," I said. "I need a new sketchbook,"
"Didn't you just buy one?" Mom asked curiously.
I shrugged. I may or may not have been drawing Jess. Shut up, I know I'm lame.
"My talented artist," she grinned. "And this is some good writing here, missy,"
I walked out, somewhat annoyed that even when complimenting me, Rory got one as well. My sister caught up to me.
"I thought you were coming with, not speeding out the door," she said, nudging against me.
"I liked Max," I said simply.
"Yeah," she sighed. "Me too,"
I couldn't help but ask, "Doesn't it hit a little close to home?"
"Ava," she warned.
"Seriously, Rory," I said. "He is gone pretty much all the time. It would've been nice, you know? To have a dad type around,"
"Max would never replace – "
"There's nothing to replace when he's never here," I said, and we fell into silence. Not an angry one – we had had this conversation far too often for that to occur. Just trying to understand where the other was coming from. I didn't understand her dedication to a man who, bar a few random visits over the years, had basically abandoned us.
Rory took ages picking out the perfect folder, as was typical for her. Most of our trip continued in silence, which wasn't too unusual for us. We finally got out of the store and started to head home.
I looked up to see Jess was walking beside me.
"Hey yourself," I said with a grin.
"What are you doing out here?"
I held up my new sketchbook. Rory indicated she would walk ahead, also nodding a hello at Jess.
"What about you? Being a hoodlum?" at his questioning look, I explained, "Taylor's new nickname for you. It really is straight out of the 50's,"
He grinned. "So what are you doing now?"
"Draw and then do some homework that was due last week," I shrugged. "I'm a procrastinator by nature. It drives my mother insane."
"I have something for you," he said, making my heart jump. I saw a copy of Howl in his hands.
"You bought me a book I already have,"
"This is yours,"
"You stole my book," I said with amusement.
"Nope, borrowed it," he corrected.
I laughed. "Sure, that's what we'll call it,"
He handed me the book and said, "I just wanted to put some notes in the margins for you,"
"What?" I looked through the book to see notes on every page. "How many times have you read this to have such in depth notes?"
"About forty times," he confessed.
"And you said you didn't read much. First Oscar Wilde, now this?" I was impressed.
"Goodnight Ava," he said, apparently determined to keep that air of mystery up.
"Goodnight Dodger," I teased.
"Dodger?" he questioned.
"Think about it," I said as I walked away.
"Oliver Twist," he called after me, making me grin.