Chapter: Back on the Ground
Author: R. M. Jackson
Rating: PG-13 / T
Word Count: Approximately 2,100 for chapter twelve.
Summary: SEQUEL TO THE REST OF THE SUN BELONGS TO ME. Picks up 3 weeks later. Jess is getting back on his feet while Rory starts to spiral away. What will happen once Jess and Rory attempt to merge their lives during a problematic time?
Disclaimer: I don't own Gilmore Girls.
AN: Alternate Universe
Status: In progress
Back on the Ground
“You know what’s almost as bad as being in a hospital?” Jess asked as Luke helped him into the wheelchair.
“What?” Luke asked. He grabbed the small overnight bag that was on the table as the orderly started to wheel Jess out the door.
“This whole wheel chair thing. I needed it last time, but come on. I can walk!” Jess protested.
“It’s hospital policy, Jess. You know that,” Luke said. “Now shut up and suck it up so we can get out of here.”
The ride home from the hospital was peaceful, but felt like the last. Jess sat strapped in the passenger seat with the sense that he should say something. Luke hated the lack of communication that had crept into their otherwise stable relationship.
“Well, here we are.” Luke pulled up to the curb and shoved the gear to park. “Do you need any help?” he asked as Jess reached for the door handle.
“No, I’m okay. Although,” Jess said after a second thought, “I could really go for a burger and fries.”
Luke smiled, glad that Jess’s appetite had not vanished this time around. “Coming right up,” Luke said as they walked to the diner. “Make yourself comfortable upstairs in the apartment and I’ll bring your food up to you.”
Nodding, Jess accepted his small overnight bag from Luke as they unlocked the diner. “I’m surprised you closed the diner for this again.”
“I like privacy,” Luke stated simply. “I’ll reopen for dinner at the very least.”
“Okay,” Jess responded. “I’ll head upstairs. I’m going to give Rory a call.”
“I’ll be right up.”
Jess settled on the couch and propped his feet up on the coffee table. Flipping through the numbers on his phone, Jess found Rory’s and hit send. The phone rang three times before Rory answered.
“Hi! Are you home?” she asked cheerfully.
“Sitting in the apartment as we speak. How was your exam?”
“I think the exam went pretty well,” she said confidently. “How are you feeling? You sound good.”
“Luke’s making me a burger. I’ll probably feel better after I eat something that isn’t green or mashed up, but I’m doing good.” Jess leaned back on the couch and visually searched for the remote.
“I’m coming home this weekend. Do you think you’ll be up and around by then?” she asked.
“Yeah. I’ll probably rest up over the next couple of days. I’ll be myself by the time you get here.” Jess heard footsteps faintly from the hallway. “I’ll call you later. Luke’s here with my food.”
“Okay. Feel better and I’ll talk to you later. Bye.”
Jess shut the phone and slid it across the table as Luke opened the door. “That’s a big burger,” he stated, eyeing the plate.
“Figured you were hungry,” Luke said as he set the plate on the coffee table. After Jess bit into the burger, Luke settled on the sofa next to him. “I put this together for you,” Luke said, handing him a blue pill case.
“What’s this?” Jess asked, putting his burger down.
“Pill case. I put all your medication in there for this week. It’s better organization than you had before. As long as you keep filling the case every week, you shouldn’t have a problem taking your meds on time.”
Jess smiled gratefully and looked at the blue pill case again. “Thanks, Luke. I appreciate it.” He popped open the Tuesday panel and grasped the little yellow pill he was supposed to take with lunch between his fingers. Luke handed him the water bottle from the other side of the coffee table and he swallowed the pill. “There’s a new one in here,” he pointed out, extracting the blue pill from the case. “What’s that for?”
Luke grabbed the prescription bottle from his dresser. “Another prescription for your immune system. Here’s the bottle and the pamphlet. I meant to give that to you earlier.”
Jess flipped through the pamphlet after putting the pill back in the case and setting it aside. “I hate having to take so much medication,” he grumbled, tossing the pamphlet aside and grabbing the plate off the coffee table.
“I know,” Luke said comfortingly. “But you need to take them, and you’re going to do fine.”
Nodding, Jess started to eat his burger again. “I think I’ll probably take a nap after I eat,” Jess mentioned sadly. He hated taking naps, but sometimes he just couldn’t help it. It had already felt like a long day, and it was barely past noon.
“Okay,” Luke said warily, knowing Jess’s resentment of naps. “If you’re going to sleep for a bit, I think I’ll just go downstairs and open up the diner. If you need anything, let me know.”
“I will.” Jess dug into the fries and look at the clock as Luke ventured back downstairs. When he finally finished his meal, Jess kicked off his sneakers and climbed into his bed. He may have hated naps, but his own bed felt comfortable after being in the hospital.
“Mom ended up losing the church date for the wedding. She didn’t book it in time,” Rory said as she slid a slice of pizza on her plate.
“That’s my fault,” Jess said. “They weren’t planning the wedding while I was in the hospital.” He stared at the peppers that adorned his pizza slice before looking up at Rory.
“They wanted to make sure you would be okay by the time the wedding rolled around. There’s nothing wrong with that,” Rory said, trying to convince Jess.
“I guess.” Jess folded his slice of pizza and sucked the cheese off the point. After a few bites, he pulled his blue pill case out of the pocket of his leather jacket. Rory watched as Jess flipped up the Saturday tab and took his medication with a swig of milk.
“Pills?” she asked cautiously.
“Lots of crappy medication,” Jess said, tucking the pill case back in his pocket.
“I’ve never seen you take anything before.”
“That’s because I neglected to take it sometimes. Now that I’m done with being sick, I think I’ll be swallowing a lot more of these suckers.” Jess swallowed another gulp of milk. “I used to keep them lined up in my dresser drawer. When I was home or at the diner, I would take them. If I wasn’t around, I just wouldn’t.” He shrugged. “Which could mean it’s my own damn fault I was sick.” Rory smiled halfheartedly and looked up from her pizza slice. “But I’m sure you don’t need to know about my medication woes,” he said in attempt to shift the subject. “How are you exams going?”
“I’ve only taken two so far. Next week I have three and then after that, I’m going to be a Yale graduate.” She smiled and took a huge bite of her pizza.
“Any word on potential jobs yet?” he asked hesitantly. Certain parts of their relationship had been reinstated, but the communication was still lax at best.
“Nothing as of yet,” Rory said, suddenly feeling small and worthless. She glanced down at her pizza slice and rearranged the pepperoni and sausage pieces that had started to slide. “I’m actually starting to worry. I thought I could skim by with my Chilton and Yale educations when it came to great, unknown world out there. Now, I’m afraid I need to brush up on my fast food lingo. Maybe I can get Luke to let me practice the “would you like fries with that” line in the diner.”
Jess smirked and turned his head. “I don’t think you need to worry about that. Besides, you’re waiting on some pretty hefty journalism spots.”
“Which is what worries me! What if I’m so under qualified that they failed to notify that I was under qualified?” Rory asked frantically, ignoring the steaming pizza in front of her.
“Rory!” Jess grasped her cheeks gently in his palms, forcing Rory to look at him. “Stop. You’re going to get a great job. I don’t think you need to tell you that again. You’re not under qualified. Think about it, staff on the Chilton paper, staff on the Yale paper, editor of the Yale paper. That doesn’t scream “do you want fries with that?” to me at all.”
Rory smiled up at Jess before leaning across the table to kiss him. “Like I really needed another reason to love you.”
“Glad to hear it.” Jess smirked and turned back to his pizza slice.
“Jess,” Lorelai started as she continued to flip through a catalogue, “what do you think of this one?” She held up the book for Jess to see the page.
“See, the one thing I dislike about formal occasions is the wearing of the tux.” He leaned back on the sofa and tossed his feet up on the coffee table. When Lorelai shot him a menacing glare, he set them back on the floor.
“I don’t think the tux is optional,” Luke said, glancing at the page Lorelai was showing him. “Although, you as the best man is.”
“Gee, thanks Luke. Are you trying to replace me or something?” Jess smirked and grabbed the tuxedo book from Lorelai’s hands. She tried to protest, but simply let Jess flip though the pages. After a few minutes of silent flipping, Jess returned the book to the center of the table.
“Find anything you liked?” Luke asked as he watched Jess pick the lint off his sweatshirt.
“Nah. I figured you could find a better, cleaner cut best man.” Jess smirked as Luke’s face fell. “Kidding,” he reassured. “Page eighty will do.”
“I’m home!” Rory’s voice rang through the foyer. “Oh, you started without me!” Dropping her bags, Rory hurried over to the couch and planted herself next to Jess. Immediately, Jess swooped in to kiss her and she scooted closer to him on the couch.
“How does it feel to be almost free?” Lorelai asked as she handed Rory a wedding catalogue.
“Like you wouldn’t imagine,” Rory said, reaching across the coffee table. “I can’t believe I’m moving out of Yale in two days. She flipped past the pages in the catalogue and came to the pink neon sticky note pasted to a particular page. “What’s this?” she asked, peeling back the post-it.
“That’s just a dress I thought you might like. I forgot to tell you to turn to that page first.”
Rory slid the book onto Jess’s lap. “Do you like that?” she asked.
Smirking, he pushed the book back at Rory. “I’ve already seen it and put in my two cents.”
“And do you think this dress would look good?” Rory asked sweetly, tousling a section of his hair between her fingers.
“So good I can’t wait to get you out of it,” Jess breathed, tucking Rory’s body closer to his.
Lorelai cleared her throat as Luke looked away with a blush creeping up his cheeks. “Ahem. There is a parent in the room. I’d love for the innuendo to not come up again.”
“Mom.” Rory rolled her eyes and let go of the hair in her hands.
“Sorry. I just can’t get used to you being anything other than my sweet, virginal five year old.” Lorelai grinned as Luke sunk back into the reclining chair. “Although it is amusing to watch his face turn ten different shades of red.”
“As much as I love being in this moment, do you think we can push past the chiffon and tulle and decide on wedding colors?” Jess asked, swinging his feet back up on the coffee table. Lorelai glared at him again, but he didn’t move his legs. Lorelai watched him smirk before swatting at his ankles. “Hey!” His foot slammed on the floor from the force of her push. “Jeez. When someone tells you to make yourself at home, you do.”
Lorelai folded her arms across her chest and glowered at Jess. “Feet off my coffee table. Hands off my daughter.”