[identity profile] mollivanders.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] prefer_my_life
Title: send me photographs and souvenirs
Fandom: Gilmore Girls
Rating: PG
Characters: Jess/Rory, Emily Gilmore
Author's Note: Word Count – 3,017.
Fans of Logan or Rory/Logan will probably not like this, because I never watched the last three seasons of the show. Who said life was fair, though? Also! Warnings for unplanned pregnancy and an abortion.
Disclaimer: The characters belong to Warner Bros.

For all her brave words, it’s always been easier to talk about her dreams than to live them.

It’s something they never tell you, growing up. Even screw-ups had dreams, once upon a time.

(And for all Lorelai’s words, she never told Rory this either.)

That’s why, when the little white strip bleeds two short blue lines instead of one, Rory isn’t all that surprised.

After all – like mother, like daughter.

But really, there is absolutely nothing surprising about this. Junior copy editor at a mid-level New York newspaper. Late nights at the office and no weekends and the days, nights she spends with Logan are hurried. Rushed.

(Accidental.)

Twenty-three and sharing a flat with two other women who swear they’re going to make it, but Rory knows what the statistics for women in this industry are.

I’ll come back from this, she thinks, and collapses back on her bed.

+

When she tells Logan, his face goes white, like Christmas snow in Stars Hollow white, and for a split second she’s scared. Not scared like he’s going to leave her; not scared like her life will be about a kid, not scared that this wasn’t in the plan.

It’s an old memory that scares her, a ghost from the past that rings loud and clear in her mind.
“Not here, not in Stars Hollow.”

Her eyes slide back to Logan as he shakily drinks from his water glass.

“A baby?” he asks, and there’s just enough wonder in his voice to make her think – hey, maybe she didn’t screw up so badly with him after all.

“Yeah,” she says, her nerves clattering around her all at once. “A baby.”

He swallows hard and locks eyes with her. “What’d your mom say?”

+

That night, she dreams of Afghanistan.

+

A week after Logan drives her to the doctor’s office and they get the first picture, heartbeat and all, Rory finds a little black box in Logan’s overnight bag. The soft velvet slips through her fingers, heavy and real, and she tries not to panic when she hears him come through the door.

“I was just checking for some toothpaste,” she says numbly and from the corner of her eye sees Logan take it all in.

“Rory –” he starts and she can’t look at him, she can’t.

“Rory,” he repeats, and it’s like a command her body can’t disobey and she watches him fall onto one knee.

We’re just kids, she thinks, and she doesn’t even hear him ask the question but just nods her head in numb confusion. When he opens the box and she sees the actually ginormous ring inside, her stomach flips and she pushes past him to the bathroom, retching out her insides.

(Well, that could have gone better.)

+

She calls Grandma and Grandpa Gilmore before her mom, if only to hear the unconditional excitement in their voice.

“Oh, Rory,” Emily gushes, Richard’s congratulations in the background. “We have to have an engagement party. Here, or at the club. Oh, Rory.”

(Somehow, none of this makes her feel better.)

+

Instead of calling her mom, she gets in the car and drives the hour to Stars Hollow to tell her in person.

(Of course, she should have realized Emily would call Lorelai immediately.

Crap.)

Her mom is sitting there on the front porch steps, phone cradled in her hands when Rory pulls up, and without further explanation, Rory tears out of the car and into her arms.

“Mom, I’m scared,” she says, breaking for the first time in weeks, and wishes she was three years old again, safe in the circle of Lorelai’s arms with her promised land still a promise ahead of her.

+

She wakes in her old bed, dimly remembering Lorelai dragging her inside after she’d cried herself empty, and curls back into the fetal position, her hands curled into fists.

(The engagement ring is cool against her skin. It’s going to leave a mark soon, and the thought burns her.)

“Logan called,” Lorelai says from behind her, and Rory sits up to find her mom sitting by her bed, keeping vigil as in the past. “I sent the calls to voicemail, mostly by accident,” Lorelai adds. “Like, who decided that accept and reject call buttons should look so similar? There should be a stop sign for the reject call button and a bright smiling face for the accept call button.”

Rory smiles weakly. “Then they’d still look alike.”

Lorelai looks thinner; almost wan. Her hair has started turning grey, and even though she dyes it, Rory can still spot it her roots. Only sixteen years apart, but even still – sixteen years can be a lifetime.

“I think most of this is an accident,” Rory says, curling up into a ball and tucking her blankets around her. “I don’t really know how it happened.”

“Well,” Lorelai starts, “we did have that Trojan Man! talk, didn’t we?” When Rory doesn’t reply, Lorelai moves to the bed and wraps her arms around her. “Honey, it may be an accident,” Lorelai says softly, her breath tickling at Rory’s neck, “but accidents can be a good thing.”

“Maybe,” Rory mumbles, and twists the engagement ring around on her finger, trying to clear her mind.

“Can you stay for dinner? I could accidentally order us some Chinese food,” Lorelai suggests and Rory peeks out from under her wrapped arms. “Not Luke’s?” she asks cautiously.

Lorelai bites her lip. “Luke’s not running Luke’s right now,” she says, and Rory drops it.

+

After Chinese food, she calls Logan back, and it’s easy to patch things up – at least, Logan makes it easy to patch things up.

“Are you coming back tonight?” he asks and she bites her lip. “I was planning on it.”

“Well maybe don’t,” he says. “It’s the weekend and you shouldn’t drive at night, not now.”

Her breath leaves her in one long rush after she hangs up the phone.

“I’m going for a walk,” she calls to the kitchen, and by the time Lorelai’s poked her head around the corner, Rory’s out the door.

The beat of Stars Hallow is familiar and the spring air makes her feel stronger, braver, and safe all at once. Maybe this was the problem – maybe New York was the problem. Maybe if she (they) just came home, they could start all over and everything would be okay.

Lost in her thoughts, her feet lead the way.

(Lost in her thoughts, she doesn’t see him until it’s too late.)

+

She calls Lane as soon as she closes her bedroom door, out of breath and startled out of her wits.

“Are you okay?” Lane asks, her concerned voice breaking through Rory’s breathless ramble. “Rory, what happened?”

“Jess,” Rory says with a gulp of air. “I ran into Jess.”

In the silence that follows, she can hear Lane’s daughter crying in the background.

“Oh,” Lane says, awkwardness clear in her voice, like she thought they’d both moved past this. “Did he say anything?”

“No.”

“Did you say anything?”

“No.”

“What happened then?”

“He was closing up Luke’s Diner.”

“And that’s it?”

The silence is on her end now. “Yeah. Yeah, that was it. But Lane – it was –”

“Rory,” Lane says firmly. “You’re engaged. You’re having a baby. You don’t want Jess to screw that up, and you know he will.”

Somewhere, far away from herself, Rory echoes agreement because everyone knows it was Jess who was the screw up; Jess who was a bull in a china ship; Jess who was a car wreck on a cold spring night.

“Okay then,” Lane says comfortingly. “So am I still coming down to New York next weekend to help you plan the wedding?”

+

She practically runs into him, her head in the clouds and far, far away from everything that brought her to Stars Hallow. Hands jammed in her pockets, she reels back two – three steps – trying to steady herself and he drops the diner keys to catch her; steadies her on the pavement.

One heartbeat, two heartbeats, three.

“Hey,” he says quietly, his voice a safe place in the midst of this chaos. “You alright?”

“Hey,” she says, locking eyes with him and then stepping back again. “Sorry – sorry – Luke’s?” she asks, her train of apologies breaking off.

There’s a memory of hurt in his smile but it’s nothing compared to the hurt he’d know if he knew so she clutches her jacket around her tighter.

“Yeah, since his last heart attack,” he says and she breathes out. “Just until he gets on his feet.” There’s a heavy pause, the space between them growing as if they’re on a timetable and he bursts out, “How long are you here for?”

(Not hurt. Disappointed. And how is Afghanistan these days?)

She shrugs, but halts her awkward retreat towards the town square. “I come and go,” she says. “Only an hour from New York.”

His smile this time is genuine. “Maybe I’ll see you around then,” he says, and she manages a half-smile back.

“Yeah, maybe. See you around, Dodger.”

(It slips out, an old habit, a sweet nothing, and –)

She’s halfway home by the time he catches it.


+

She does not call him from New York.

She is over that phase.

+

He calls her.

He doesn’t ask how she’s been, or what she’s doing, or who she’s with. None of the minutiae that take up her day. “Long time no hear, Gilmore,” he says when she picks up and she smiles despite herself. There are so many reasons for him not to call her, to not see her, to never speak to her again, but –

“Hey, Jess,” she says. Thinks of a hundred letters she never wrote. “New York keeps me busy.”

“Not so close to Stars Hollow then,” he says, and she hears the crunch of him settling into Luke’s old leather couch. “Weird, huh?” she asks, twining the phone cord around her fingers. “Me here, you there.”

“It must be opposite year,” he says and she laughs softly through her nose. There’s a beat of quiet and she hears him release a breath. “Read any good books lately?” he asks.

“I don’t know,” she says. “What’s ‘good’ in Jess Mariano’s world?”

A chuckle travels across the line. “Anything I’d read.”

She shrugs and carries the phone to her bed, laying on her back. “I read this really good book by Jamie Ford,” she says. “Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet? You might like it.”

He calls her bluff and her the next Sunday, having read the whole damn thing.

+

He meets her for coffee in a Queens café, the kind of place where they can watch the city go by and still hear other talk. “I brought you something,” he says, and digs into his jacket pocket before pulling out a battered looking copy of “Stones into Schools,” he says. “It’s about schools for girls in Afghanistan. Our mutual friend thought you’d like it.” She feels his eyes on her as she flips the pages.

Fueled by her dream, Nasreen studied relentlessly, despite her stepmother's harassment. "After tending to my brothers and sisters and doing all the household work," she recalls, "I would wait till everyone was asleep, and then late at night I would read."

“Thanks,” she says softly, and shuts the book before meeting his gaze. “I’m engaged, Jess. To Logan.”

(It’s an abrupt confession without apology; no sense in clinging to dwindled teenage dreams.)

She expects a long silence, an angry outburst before he storms out of the café, a coda to their burnt out everything. Instead –

“I know,” he says, swirling his water. “Luke said.” He clears his throat. “Congrats on the kid, by the way. You’ll be a great mom.”

Her chest is tight and she feels another panic attack coming on, but she grips her coffee mug and nods.

“Yeah, I guess so,” she says, and catches a familiar look in his eyes. “You should come,” she bursts. “To the engagement party. It’s at my grandparents’ house, and you and Luke should come.”

He smirks. “Because the last time went so well?” At her silence though, he nods. “Sure. Wouldn’t miss it.”

+

He still hasn’t read The Fountainhead, but she reads The Sun Also Rises cover to cover that night.

+

It’s something minor and silly and something that probably would have irritated the Rory Gilmore of ten – even five – years ago to a standstill. But Rory Gilmore is going to become Rory Huntzberger, and the name rolls around in her head like a loose cannonball.

HuntzbergerHuntzbergerHuntzbergerHuntzbergerHuntzberger

“Rory, are you listening?” Emily asks and Rory shakes herself into attention. “Yes, of course.”

Emily studies her with a sharp eye and a sharper mind. “Logan,” her grandmother says, “will you leave us for a moment?”

Her mouth is dry and the pregnancy is becoming very real, even noticeable. It’s not morning sickness that makes her palms sweat and her stomach turn as Emily moves to a chair next to Rory and looks her hard in the eye.

“Rory,” she says severely, “if you’re not going to marry that boy, you may as well get it over with sooner rather than later.”

“And then what?” she whispers, her voice stuck in her throat. Emily scoffs and recrosses her ankles, leaning back in her chair.

“Rory, dear, it is 2007, not 1707. You will figure it out.” She purses her lips. “After all, like mother, like daughter.”

+

(That night, she digs out her copy of The Subsect and reads it cover to cover.

It’s better than she remembered.)

+

Breaking up with Logan doesn’t go well. In fact, it goes horribly and mostly because he’s so tense and quiet when she sets the engagement ring on his dresser.

“What about the baby?” he asks, eyes downcast as she crosses the room to exit, and her shoulders stiffen. “I’ll figure something out,” she says, casting what she hopes is a kind, last look in his direction.

“Yeah,” he says. “I guess you always do.”

(His words haunt her all the way back to her apartment, and she gets no rest that night.)

+

She drives into Stars Hollow at two in the morning and bangs on the door to Luke’s Diner until he opens the door, bleary-eyed and somehow not surprised to see her.

“Rory, jeez, get inside,” he mutters, one hand guiding her inside and the other rubbing at his eyes. “I’ll make some coffee.”

(No questions, no judgement, no disappointment.)

She sits at the counter while the coffee peters out slowly, Jess carefully measuring out a cup for her and bringing it across. It’s all quiet suspense, her handles cradling the hot mug, until –

“I don’t want it,” she whispers, like she’s committing some kind of crime, like she’s betraying her mother and her grandmother and whatever life she’s supposed to have.

(A better life.)

“I never wanted it,” she affirms, and crosses her arms under her chest. Her body is changing, unfamiliar, and she doesn’t like it.

(She’s not a little girl anymore. She’s not afraid to not like things.)

Jess leans across the counter, his arms just within reach, but she can’t look up at him.

“Have you told anyone else?” he asks softly, and when she darts a glance at him, she can tell he’s listening hard for Luke or anyone else who might surprise them.

She takes another deep breath. She is still now; now that it is said and in the world.

“No.”

His eyes flick up to hers; hold steady.

“What do you want to do, Rory?”

+

He drives her to the clinic in the bright light of morning.

(They never say a word about it again.)

+

The months pass into spring, then early summer, and Rory finds herself driving into Stars Hollow as much as she finds Jess sitting at their café.

(Some things happen, she has found, if you only just let them.)

She meets him for lunch one day, brimming with excitement and helpless to contain it. “I got it,” she exclaims, sitting across from him. “I got the job! My boss approved the transfer and I head out next week!”

He raises both his eyebrows at her, swirling the soda in his glass around. “Afghanistan?” he asks cautiously, grinning when she nods in confirmation. “I knew it,” he affirms, and leans back in his chair.

“Yeah, you knew,” she says, rolling her eyes and trying to find a waiter.

“How long are you gone for?” he asks, digging out the little notebook he carries in one of his dozen pockets and she leans across the table. “End of July,” she says. “Maybe first week of August.” He nods thoughtfully and writes it down, tucking the book away. “I’ll look for you then,” he says and she hesitates for a moment.

“You going to be here when I get back?” she asks, not entirely sure what the real nature of her question is. The world is an awfully big place, as she is happy to experience for herself once again, and Jess always had that in common with her. Escaping small town life and small town people and…

“Sure,” he says. “May even move back to the city by then. Luke’s almost back on his feet.”
There must still be a question of doubt in her face though, because he reaches across the small table and clasps her bare hands in his own.

“Trust me,” he says and there’s a catch to his voice that she recognizes, that somehow she has managed to not burn away.

(An echo of old dreams.)

“Jess,” she says, hesitant – meets his gaze only when he gently tugs at her hands.

“Don’t I look trustworthy?” he asks and at last she breaks – and smiles. “I’ll look for you on the news,” he adds and she grins. “Likewise,” she returns.

(She carries the memory of his laughter with her across thousands of miles.

And back.)

Finis

Date: 2014-06-03 01:50 am (UTC)
ext_317107: (gilmore; jess/rory; the big apple)
From: [identity profile] stainofmylove.livejournal.com
AHhhhhh, I love this so much. It's such a sharp character study for Rory that empathetically but realistically deals with her relationships to her mother (After all – like mother, like daughter. -- and then turning that on its head, so wonderful), Jess, Logan, and HERSELF ABOVE ALL YAAAAAAAAAASSSS.

And of course simply running into Jess is still this ~event for Rory, still shakes her up. Their connection always seems be like that and I adore how you approached writing it in sorta three parts like you did. And then he calls her, and everything that comes after ... man, it really checks so many of my boxes, lol.

(She carries the memory of his laughter with her across thousands of miles.

And back.)


Gimme it allllllllll.

Date: 2014-06-04 06:11 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] margottenenbaum.livejournal.com
Aw, this was so lovely and hits so many of my shippy buttons! I will accept this instead of the failcanon thx.

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