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5th March 2005

Sticks and Stones – Lit Fiction Exchange

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Literati Fiction Exchange

To Include:
– some type of problem in Rory/Jess’s relationship either being resolved or being explored b/c it can’t be resolved.
– dialogue about some random detail of the setting they’re in…i.e. “that clock on the wall” “this carpeting” “how the sun reflects off the wall”…anything.
– a book reference that isn’t often mentioned.
Not to Include:
– Jess crying (almost is fine if it happens to work that way *shrug*)…(I’m sorry, it’s just…a thing…I have…about writing Jess. Now, at least, lol. =$)
Rating: anything is fine *nods* …not NC-17? =P

A/N: Special thanks to Becka for the application of the whip to make sure I finished this. She’s the bestest! Please review!


Sticks and Stones

Noise from the latest Stars Hollow celebration fades away as she escapes down the street. Somebody calls to her, but she doesn’t respond in her need to run away. She grasps madly for the doorknob, and by some miracle, it opens; Andrew must have forgotten to lockup behind him when he went to join in the festivities. The store is empty, dark and silent, except for the annoying grandfather clock that clicks away time in the corner. Andrew had added it to the store a year ago, to give “atmosphere,” but she hated how it would thump in her head when she read, preventing her from becoming completely submerged in the written word.

Rory grabs blindly for a book, any book; her mind briefly registers a title about cheese, before turning away and seeking the darkness of the back corners. She did not come here to read—she couldn’t have said why she was here—but books had always been her comfort blanket. It was soothing just to hold one, running her hands idly over the crisp pages and firm, hard cover.

But now, books are associated with him, and just the touch makes her remember. She slides down the back wall, sobs catching in her throat, her mouth stretched wide in pain.

They had fought. Again. The harsh words reverberate in her head. As always, it had started out so innocently, a conversation gone badly awry. Lane was today’s excuse. Jess had made some comment—she couldn’t even remember what—about Lane lying to her mom about their band’s new gig, and she had bristled in defense. Before long, it had dissolved into a shouting matching of accusations—frustrations that they seemed unable to verbalize except in anger. Her dependency on her mother. His lack of motivation. Her godlike expectations of him. And finally, the words that had never slipped out of her mouth before: Disappointment. In him. “I can’t count on you for anything!” she had shouted, and had watched as something dulled in his eyes. He looked … hollow and didn’t speak as he grabbed his jacket and marched out of her house.

She had been too angry to regret her words. Yet again, he had managed to ruin one of their dates, dates that were stretched thin in frequency. It hadn’t been until later, when her mom popped in to coax her to go to the party, that it’d hit her, that this was it. It. The End. She couldn’t go on like this, wondering how deeply they can wound each other before the final snap. She had fled then, ran from the room and Lorelai’s startled look of concern, trying to escape the feeling of failure that twisted her insides.

Now, sitting the dark, she thinks about their first fight, at her grandmother’s house. The start of it all. He’d accused her of not trusting him, and she had countered that he hadn’t given her a reason to do so, a common theme in their bickering. Their relationship has already been so speckled with petty fights and yelled accusations that she can hardly remember what it’s like not to fight. When their last normal conversation was. Had they ever even had a normal conversation?

The door chimes, jolting her out of her tears. She shrinks back into her corner as a dark figure slips through the door. Stars Hollow’s a small town, but she’s seen enough late night horror movies with Lorelai that it’s impossible to suppress the primal fear of being raped or murdered by some dark stranger.

The figure approaches, a flashlight in hand, scanning over the books. He turns the corner, and his flashlight catches her, blinding her. She grips the bookshelf, looking for an escape when he speaks. “Oh, it’s you.”

“What are you doing here?” she hisses sharply, her fear dissolving, leaving her limp though her heart still races. She’s angry again, angry at him for disturbing her sanctuary, angry because seeing him means that she hasn’t escaped the inevitable.

Jess lowers the flashlight, illuminating the hardening look on his face. “Whatever. Not doing this again. Sorry to disappoint.” He turns and stalks back towards the door.

“I’ll bring your books by tomorrow.” She keeps her voice steady; there’s no hint of the tears that lodged deep inside her heart. He has paused at the doorway, his frame a dark blotch, but she can’t tell if he’s looking at her.

“That’s it, then.” His voice cracks with ice (and she had thought hers devoid of emotion). “You’re getting out.”

“What else can we do, Jess? I can’t take this anymore. We’re killing each other. When’s the last time we’ve ended an evening together actually talking?”

He snorts. “People fight.”

“No, they don’t, not like this. Not unless they’re Billy Bob and Angelina and want to contribute to the fifty percent divorce rate.”

“I suppose you and Dean never argued. Must have been happy in Cleaverland.”

“Don’t,” she pleads quietly. “Don’t make this about Dean.”

“It’s always about Dean!” He yells, his voice thick with frustration. “Everything is always compared to how it was when you were with Dean. If he hadn’t broken up with you, you’d still be with him. Why is it, Rory, that you’ve finally got the guts to break up with me when you never could with him?”

“Because I never got to the point where I thought that I would wake up hating him! And every day, every day, Jess, I feel myself slipping closer to that.” The words crawl out of her mouth, and she chokes on their raw truth. “Admit it, this hasn’t been like you thought it would be. You didn’t argue when you were with Shane either.”

He’s silent. She’s about to speak again, asking him how, why they’re even here, why it went wrong, when suddenly, she hears him move, and he’s beside her, the flashlight waving wildly as he pulls books heedlessly off the shelf. “Wha—? Jess?”

He ignores her, and more books crash to the floor. He seems to find what he’s looking for, a slim paperback volume. He thumbs roughly through the pages, skimming back and forth. Without preamble, he begins to read, his voice callous and ineloquent. “So, he said to himself, we did well to stop the quarrelling. He had never quarrelled much with this woman, while with the women that he loved he had quarrelled so much they had finally, always, with the corrosion of the quarrelling, killed what they had together. He had loved too much, demanded too much, and he wore it all out.”

She is too astounded by the unexpected change in the conversation to speak. He flips a page ahead and continues, “He remembered the good times with them all, and the quarrels. They always picked the finest places to have the quarrels. And why had they always quarrelled when he was feeling best? He had never written any of that because, at first, he never wanted to hurt any one and then it seemed as though there was enough to write without it. But he had always thought that he would write it finally. There was so much to write. He had seen the world change; not just the events; although he had seen many of them and had watched the people, but he had seen the subtler change and he could remember how the people were at different times. He had been in it and he had watched it and it was his duty to write of it; but now he never would.”

A long pause follows; he appears lost in his thoughts, staring down at the words.

“I… I don’t—” She stumbles, unable to follow this shift in dynamics.

Resignation replaces the rage in his voice. “And there’s our problem. You don’t get it when I do try to explain.”

And suddenly, it’s clear, patterns of miscommunication revealed. She looks at him with understanding, seeing him with new eyes. The clench in her stomach lessens abruptly. Quietly, she stands up, and their shoulders brush—their first touch all evening. She reaches out, moving the cover so the title is legible. A dry chuckle escapes, and she wonders how close she is to becoming hysterical. “Hemingway. I should have known.”

A faint note of laughter reaches her ears. “The man knew what he was talking about.”

“And he got another wife with each new book. I don’t think he’s the one to go to for relationship advice,” she banters back, sliding into the familiar debate.

“Says the one who never tried to see his genius.”

“Who says I never tried?” she asks indignantly. “I read every book that he wrote because you liked him, and I wanted to know why.”

He hesitates, and she feels his eyes on her face. “You … hate me.” His tone is quiet, a thread of guilt underneath.

She leans closer, her lips pressing against his cheek. “No. No. I don’t. Sometimes, I think…I think that I might love you. But then, we go all ballistic on each other, and I forget. I don’t want to forget. I don’t want to break up, Jess.”

“It was your idea. We don’t have to.” His arms have wrapped around her, and she lays her head against his shoulder. The tears come then, a torrent of emotion. He rubs her back, holding her close, murmuring hushed words, and there is healing in his touch.

This entry was posted on Saturday, March 5th, 2005 at 1:54 pm 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

  • (First, whoa…it must have been very late when I wrote that request. Not because of the stuff I picked, because I love that, but a very late apology for the fact that I kind of sound nine or something. :$ Even though you didn’t know who it was. Anyway…)

    Rory grabs blindly for a book, any book; her mind briefly registers a title about cheese, before turning away and seeking the darkness of the back corners.

    I love all the little details you inserted here and throughout the fic…what Rory is thinking, what Jess is thinking, what they’re doing and why they do the things they do. And then the descriptions of everything around them (and their thoughts)… “her mind briefly registers a title about cheese”–I really like that. I don’t exactly know why, but I do. It’s creative. It’s cool. 😀 And the description of the book(s) at the end of this paragraph…so good.

    Her dependency on her mother. His lack of motivation. Her godlike expectations of him.

    This is a perfect…list, I guess…of their issues. All the problems that arise when they try to make things work. And none of these specific things are problems I have ever seen stated like this in any fic before. “Her godlike expectations of him”–it’s too true, even if she doesn’t realize it all the time. They’re exactly the kind of things that would start this conflict here, and it is so Rory not to want this. Maybe things aren’t going the way she…dreams about? expects? but maybe, she loves him. She doesn’t want the end. And another thing I love about this sentence…I guess slightly strange, but still: that it’s balanced, I guess I mean. One of her problems, one of his, one that involves both of them. They are both at fault here.

    She’s angry again, angry at him for disturbing her sanctuary, angry because seeing him means that she hasn’t escaped the inevitable.

    Again, I love how you describe Rory’s thoughts…and just how you phrased things. It sounds…right. And I really, really like that. As weird as that may sound.

    Now, sitting the dark, she thinks about their first fight, at her grandmother’s house. The start of it all.

    Ah, sorry, did this out of order. :$ But this is so cool, especially because I absolutely love Swan Song. I have this whole theory behind so many things in that episode (yeah…I know…:$). And it was awesome to see it connected to this. Hee.

    He snorts. “People fight.”

    And then the other problem between them… They view (most) things so differently, in some ways. For him, people fight. He’s probably grown up with fighting. And for her…the fighting is something awful and upsetting that is making this Not Perfect. Their views of things that you showed in this fic are both so believable.

    “Because I never got to the point where I thought that I would wake up hating him! And every day, every day, Jess, I feel myself slipping closer to that.” The words crawl out of her mouth, and she chokes on their raw truth.

    I love this because it’s something I’ve never seen addressed with Rory/Jess–her slipping closer and closer to hating him, and she doesn’t want to hate him. And that last sentence…that’s amazing.

    She’s about to speak again, asking him how, why they’re even here, why it went wrong, when suddenly, she hears him move, and he’s beside her, the flashlight waving wildly as he pulls books heedlessly off the shelf. “Wha—? Jess?”

    This whole scene–wonderful. “…his voice callous and ineloquent.”

    Wow.

    “Who says I never tried?” she asks indignantly. “I read every book that he wrote because you liked him, and I wanted to know why.”

    He hesitates, and she feels his eyes on her face. “You … hate me.” His tone is quiet, a thread of guilt underneath.

    I can’t really describe why I like this so much, but I do. He hasn’t forgotten what she said; it does hurt him after all. “You … hate me.”

    Aww.

    The tears come then, a torrent of emotion. He rubs her back, holding her close, murmuring hushed words, and there is healing in his touch.

    And a fantastic ending. <3

    Thank you so much!!

    This is absolutely fabulous. I love it.

    A lot.

  • What an absolutely incredible observation of the entire Lit relationship. I love that you were able to capture the voices of both teenagers and create that familiar fire between them. Along with the desire both have to not end this, never end this, and keep going until ending is no longer an option.

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