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22nd May 2004

LNB–Chapter 9

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Here’s my bit of story that will most likely be the end of LNB. Gah, I wish I had time to finish it!

It’s pretty stand alone actually, so if you haven’t read the rest of the story, I think you can follow it pretty well. And it’s rough, very rough. There are definitely part I would have slashed/changed if I had had the time. Let me know what you think. (Oh, and it takes place in DC–Jess went down to meet Rory there).

Disclaimer: Not mine. Won’t ever be mine. Wish they were mine. Lyrics: “You Take My Breath Away,” album: American Tune.

Like Never Before
Chapter 13

Sometimes it amazes me
How strong the power of love can be
Sometimes it can just take my breath away
Your beauty is there in all I see
And when I feel your eyes on me
Ah, don’t you know, you just take my breath away.

Their easy conversation had become more strained as they approached the bus station. Rory watched him purchase the ticket and collect his change, which, she noted with interest, he folded carefully and placed in the small right pocket of his jeans. She wondered if it was a manifestation of his upbringing in New York—the need to protect his money and belongings from muggers. He even wore his duffel bag across his shoulder differently—slightly shifted so that his arm blocked access to the pockets.
With a snap she jerked her eyes back to his, blushing at being caught staring. At least she hadn’t been thinking about what it would be like to kiss him again. The heat rose and she wondered if she was as transparent as she thought.
“How long?” She questioned, gesturing towards the buses.
“Twenty minutes until all aboard the happy train.”
She giggled, suddenly nervous again. Twenty minutes. Two days with him had dwindled down to twenty minutes…
“Sit?” he offered, pointed to an empty bench, away from most of the mingling travelers. She nodded in agreement, and perched awkwardly on the hard wood. Jess dropped his backpack and slouched down, dragging a book from his back pocket, “I have another one?” He questioned with an arched eyebrow.
She smiled widely. This was yet another reason she liked him so much—there was no need for small talk with him. “No, brought my own” and after digging through her bag, displayed it for his inspection and approval.
“Ann Beattie. Looks like we’re having a Minimalist moment.” He held up his and she looked closer at the title.(***book by Carver, figure out which one***) “First time?”
She shook her head. “No, I read Chilly Scene of Winter last year, decided to try some of her short stories.”
“Yeah, that’s where her expertise lies. Nobody can write an anti-climax like her.”
“Exactly! When I finished the first one, I actually checked to make sure I hadn’t lost pages or something. It was just so abrupt. But I’ve gotten used to her style now.”
“I prefer Carver. He wrote about every-day people, people living in trainer parks, while Beattie never ventured beyond her glitzy world.”
“But that’s what makes it so powerful!” She gushed, “all of these people getting together and hinting at things that lay below the surface but never willing to bring it out.” Of that, she could relate…
“But that’s what makes Carver better.” He argued back. “He knows what he wants, what he needs to be happy, *****
She looked around, glancing almost frantically at the clock, watching the time drain away, then looking back at him. She took a deep breath, opened her mouth, and then clamped it shut again. Repeated the process, every time, wobbling on the desire to speak and then losing her guts. She started humming tunelessly under her breath, the first song that came to mind. “…Nevermore be scared of rabbits, if I only had the nerve.”
He glanced up. “You don’t have to stay, it you’re bored.”
“No, no, I’m good.” She replied quickly and brightly. He nodded and turned back to his book.
She watched the clock tick forward, searching desperately for some way to bring it up. Seen Dean lately? Does he look awful? Just didn’t seem to cut it. Nothing she had come up with these past two days seemed right. But she had to tell him. She couldn’t let him go without—
Jess looked up again, noted the time, and stuffed his book back into his pocket, leaning over to grab his bag.
“I broke up with Dean.” She blurted out. He turned from his slouched position and looked at her intently. “I broke up with Dean.” She repeated more slowly, almost wishing that she could take the words back.
He didn’t move, didn’t say a word. She brushed a strand of hair from her face, completely unable to look away. She tried to read his expression, but it was characteristically blank.
“When?” he finally asked, shifting his gaze to the ground.
“Last week. Thursday.”
“Huh.” That wasn’t the response she had expected, although maybe she should have. Monosyllable boy was back in residence.
“Yeah.”
“Why didn’t you tell me?” For some reason, he sounded irritated.
“It never came up?” She offered lamely, slipping into a classic Lorelai defense. It was better than admitting she was afraid—afraid of his response, afraid of what she was getting into.
He ran a hand through his hair, the scowl increasing on his face. “Why?” He asked finally, without a trace of interest in his voice. He sounded like he was asking the question only because it was expected of him.
There was the question, the only one to which she had been dreading and looking forward at the same time. If he had responded differently—if he had just acted like he cared, acted like the guy that she had talked to every night for the past month, acted like he was still interested in her—but between last night and now this… Fear overcame her resolve and at that moment, her nerve left her and she could only stare at him dry-mouthed.
He studied her for another moment. “Yeah, well, sorry to hear that. You must be heart-broken. See you in Stars Hollow.” And with that, he got up from the bench and slung his bag over his shoulder and started walking towards the bus terminal without a backwards glance.
He was just leaving? Just like that? After all that talk this summer about how she should make up her mind and when she did, he was just going to leave? Anger and hurt mingled in her chest and something inside snapped. She stood up and placed her hands on her hips.
“I told him that I love you!” She snapped loudly, her words ringing over the hum of distant conversations. That got his attention. He bolted back, stopping mere inches from her, staring at her with a mix of bafflement and suspicion.
“You told him what?”
She pursed her lips together angrily, nervously, wishing that there were some way to get rid of the butterflies that were threatening to fly out of her stomach. “That…that I love you.” She confirmed.
“You love me?” The suspicion thickened, harder than steel, and yet, she couldn’t mistake that glimmer of hope and vulnerability in his eyes.
“Yeah” she replied softly, never so sure of something in her life. The look on his face didn’t change and it dawned on her how this must sound to him—how forward and demanding, to spring this on him. She certainly hadn’t meant to tell him that! So much for the reveling in the feeling of a new crush and seeing where it goes! Now, he was probably scared off and going to leave and she had, once again, ruined everything. She continued in a rush to fix things, to explain, “I know, love. Crazy huh? I mean it’s not like I’ve known you that long, I’ve only been here six weeks, people don’t fall in love in that time—I don’t fall in love at all. Dean, I didn’t love Dean, but I thought I did. I’m too young, I don’t know what love is, maybe, but maybe I do and maybe it does happen like this—”
“Rory?”
She stopped. “Yeah?”
“Just stop.” For a moment, she thought he was going to kiss her with the same passion and urgency that she had kissed him only a few weeks previously. When he just reached out to touch her cheek, traced a finger down to her chin, she felt a strange mix of disappointment and relief. She longed to just reach out and kiss him, give into the dreams of the past month (maybe since she first met him), and yet, there was something that whispered to hold back. Their first kiss had been one born out of sudden desire and need. And she hoped, wished that their second would be more, more intimate, more (she admitted to herself) like one of those fairy tales, a connection of souls. She laughed internally at her pathetic sappiness. Life with Jess would never be a fairy tale, which suited her just fine. Jess was real and Jess was…perfect.
He cupped the side of her face. “You love me.” He breathed softly, incredulously; then as if waking himself from a dream, he shook his head and moved to grip her shoulders. “Rory.” He sighed again. “You gotta understand. I can’t say that I love you back. It’s not that…that I don’t feel…I like you, Ror. More than I’ve ever liked anyone. That sounds so juvenile, but what I mean, is that, maybe someday—”
“Don’t.” She stopped him with a laugh. “I understand, believe me, it wasn’t easy for me, either, this is maybe the first time… I understand.”
“I don’t think you do!” He sounded frustrated and tightened his hold. “I’m, I’m all wrong. Wrong for you—”
“Do you think this is just some hasty decision on my part? I told you I needed more time, remember? You told me to choose between you and Dean. So I thought and I tried not to think about it, and then it didn’t matter. Water’s the archetype for change, right, that’s what you told me. Well, I’m telling you, I’m standing at my river and I choose you.” She reached up, placing her hands on his, trying to convey her feelings through touch.
He laced his fingers through hers, drawing her closer. The skepticism drained from his face and a faint smile rested on his lips. “Huh.”
Rory had never loved that word more. “Yeah.” She confirmed happily.
A voice boomed loudly over the intercom. “That’s my bus.” Jess sighed regretfully. He didn’t move.
“You could miss it?” She asked hopefully.
A smile blossomed across his face and she was mesmerized by the little laugh wrinkles that appeared in the corner of his eyes. It was a good thing he didn’t smile more, she thought weakly, or she wouldn’t have legs to stand on. She wanted to reach out and explore those laugh lines, to feel his skin, to know the shape of his cheeks, his nose, his lips. But her hands were caught tight in his.
“I have to go,” he said again, rubbing his thumbs over her knuckles.
“Yeah.” She said again for the billionth time. She couldn’t say more and he looked as if he understood.
For one breathless moment, she thought that this was it—this was how he was going to leave. Then he leaned forward and touched his lips to hers. She relished their feel—warm, gentle, familiar. Then he deepened the kiss and she lost all thought. Oh, this, this was right.
Too soon, they broke apart, his forehead leaning against hers. “See you at home?” His voice was deep with meaning.
She nodded slowly, reluctantly unwinding her arms from the circle of his neck. “Yeah,” she breathed it as a promise.
He kissed her quickly, once, twice. Then he leaned down, picked up his bag, slung it over his shoulder. “You know,” he remarked lightly, as he backed towards the door, eyes still glued to hers, “I think I could be in love with you too.” And with a final wave and grin, Jess was gone.

This entry was posted on Saturday, May 22nd, 2004 at 11:39 am and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

2 Comments

  • *sigh*

    Julia, it was perfect. *sob*

    I hate all of this… the stupid stuff on GG, people leaving, me wallowing in the air with a bad case of writer’s block…

    But, amidst it all, this was like a surge of hope. I felt a flutter in my chest like, maybe, just maybe, it all isn’t over. You know?

    So thanks…

  • This was wonderful, Julia, and I’m sad I’ll never see it full developed. You’ve got such great syntax for “rough rough draft”. Very in character.
    I so would’ve liked to see what they did for those two days though.

    Thank you for sharing this with us.

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