Chapter: Battle Hymn
Author: R. M. Jackson
Rating: PG-13 / T
Word Count: Approximately 2,700 for chapter thirteen.
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
Rory’s phone started to trill loudly on the kitchen table as she and Jess packed her books into boxes. Sighing, Rory lifted herself off the floor and dusted off her jeans. “Hello?” she answered, flipping open the phone without checking the caller-id. After a pause, “Yes, this is Rory Gilmore.”
Jess peered up at her questioningly from his spot on the floor. Quietly, she slid into her bedroom and shut the door. He didn’t want to eavesdrop, so Jess continued to sort through the stack of novels on the kitchen floor. After a few minutes, he brushed the dust off his pants and helped himself to one of the beers in the fridge. As he popped the tab, Rory’s bedroom door flung open and smacked into the adjacent wall.
“Jess!” she exclaimed. Hesitating, Jess set the beer can on the table and glanced at Rory.
“What?” he asked, watching her stand at the doorway.
Grinning, Rory bounded into his arms and wrapped her legs around his waist. “I have a job!” she shouted happily.
Jess pushed the beer can to the center of the table before resting Rory’s delicate frame against the edge. She wrapped her legs tighter around his waist, drawing him closer. “Where?” he gasped as Rory’s teeth nipped at his neck.
She took a second to answer before grasping for his belt buckle. “Greenwich,” she responded breathlessly, wrenching the belt free from the loops surrounding his pants. Carelessly, she tossed it aside and it clanked against the linoleum.
Jess squinted and her fingers stopped searching. “Where’s that?” Their bodies were still close together. Jess could feel Rory’s breath on his neck.
“Connecticut. A couple miles from New York.” Holding onto her tightly, Jess lifted Rory to eye level so she could wrap her legs around his waist again. “Have you put any thoughts into college transfers?”
Stealthily, Jess carted Rory into her bedroom and kicked the door shut with his foot. Although she had yet to receive an answer, Rory didn’t mind the silence as his tongue traced the hollows of her collarbone. Her own hands were preoccupied with undoing the buttons on his shirt. “New York,” Jess half gasped, half moaned as her cold, soft hands met contact with the warm, hard flesh of his stomach. His shirt hung open, exposing his bare chest to Rory.
“New York?” she asked, not letting the location ruin the mood. Jess allowed his shirt to slide off one arm as Rory tugged it off the other.
“It has,” Jess paused as Rory’s fingers snaked below the waistband of his jeans. Shivering, “the classes I want.” Rory traced her fingernail along his spine and he flinched. “Close to the…Jesus, Rory!” Jess collapsed against the mattress, bringing Rory on top of him. He kissed her hungrily as she stroked the muscular tissue under his nipples. “Close to the Connecticut border,” he rasped.
Rory spread herself next to Jess on the bed. “Why not in Connecticut?” she asked sleepily. The moment had quickly died away due to fatigue.
“I liked that place,” Jess said. He raked his hands through his hair. He wasn’t in the mood to be heavily questioned, especially now that there was a tightness in his jeans that wouldn’t be subsiding any time soon.
“Which college?” Rory asked as she looked at the ceiling.
“Monroe,” Jess responded, rolling onto his side. Rory curled into his shape and Jess placed his hand at her stomach.
“What kind of classes?” she asked.
“This an interrogation?” Jess remarked, hoping he didn’t sound too harsh. “Math and science,” he added quickly in case his tone was questionable before.
Rory rolled over to face him. “Jess Mariano, what are you planning?”
“Math and science?” Rory questioned. “Since when do you involve yourself with those subjects?”
Jess shrugged. “Thought it was time for a change.”
“What kind of change?” Rory asked. She grimaced; it really was becoming an interrogation. Jess mumbled something about medicine before looking up Rory. “You need to take your medicine?” she asked hesitantly.
“No, I want to study medicine,” Jess corrected sheepishly.
“But I thought you…” Rory paused when Jess shook his head. “Medicine? Why?”
“Time for a real career,” Jess tried to reason. “And I…really owe my life to doctors.” He twisted his hands nervously. “It’s weird, isn’t it? Maybe I shouldn’t.”
“No! I wasn’t trying to deter you or anything.” Rory paused to smile. “Medicine, hmm? Well, I think we better brush up on some anatomy.”
“How awkward is this going to be?” Jess asked as he slipped a sport coat over his button down, glancing one last time in the mirror.
Rory slipped her feet into a pair of black heeled shoes. “It’s going to be fine,” she reassured Jess as she watched him straighten his tie for the fifth time. “Jess, stop.” She covered his hand with hers and he turned around, startled.
“What?” he asked.
“You look good. Stop fussing.” Jess dropped his hands at Rory’s request and glanced at the comb on her dresser. “So does your hair,” she added, watching his eyes flicker to the other side of the room.
“This is important,” Jess said, begging for another change to comb his hair.
“By all means,” Rory said, releasing him from her grip. She watched Jess tug the comb through his hair in attempt to straighten out his many cowlicks. “I hope your hair falls out,” she joked, grabbing her purse from the bed.
“That’s not funny,” Jess said, pointing the comb at her in an accusatory manner. This time, his hair looked too flat. Gently, he mussed his hair with his fingertips. “Your grandparents haven’t seen me in a long time.”
“Two years,” Rory elaborated. “They know what happened with the accident though.” Jess nodded as she continued. “They were pulling for you.”
“As enlightening as this is, do you think we can leave?” Jess asked, grabbing his car keys from the desktop. Rory nodded and followed Jess out the door.
When they arrived at the Gilmore mansion, both Rory and Jess hesitated at the doorbell. “We should ring the bell,” Jess said.
“Okay.” Sighing, Rory stepped away from Jess and rang the doorbell. The ominous chimes sounded and they waited for the maid to answer the door. “Are you nervous?” she asked.
Jess gave a quick nod of his head. “Yeah.”
Before Rory could reassure him, Emily Gilmore whipped the door open. “Hello, Rory!” she greeted her brightly. “Jess,” she said, a majority of the cheer falling from her voice. “Come join us in the living room.” Jess shoved his hands in the pockets of his sport coat and dragged behind Emily and Rory.
By the time he joined them in the living room, Richard had already greeted Rory and Emily was fixing her a martini. “Jess.” Richard placed his scotch glass on the table and stood to shake his hand. “How are you feeling?” he asked as he sat back down.
Jess had quickly tired of that question; Luke asked him how he was feeling every day. “I’m doing much better,” Jess said as he sat next to Rory on the couch.
“Wonderful news,” Richard replied. “Emily, get Jess a drink. What would you like?”
A smile crept onto his lips. Richard had always been easier to please than Emily. He felt more relaxed and at ease now. “Scotch is fine,” Jess said tenderly. He knew Richard drank scotch, but he was sure how much he should be drinking.
“So, Jess,” Richard continued as Emily poured his scotch. “Rory tells me you’re transferring from community college.”
“That’s right; I am.” Jess accepted the glass from Emily and she sat next to Richard. “Thank you.”
“What sparked that decision?” Richard inquired.
“Community college was never permanent. I needed to improve my grades and earn enough money to pay for a better college.” Jess took a sip of the scotch as he paused and let it burn the back of his throat. It had been quite some time since his last alcoholic beverage besides beer.
“It’s a wise move,” Richard said. “The funds are available now?”
“I’ve been working for a while now. Luke’s picking up the slack with my medical bills. I tried to convince him to let me pay them, but he’s stubborn. He doesn’t want thousands of dollars looming over my head.” Jess paused to take another drink. “In my case, it would be debt.”
“That’s very nice of your uncle,” Emily commented. Jess looked over at her before taking his glass in both hands.
“He’s looking out for me.” Jess nodded and stared down at his shoes. He hated being center of attention, and that usually happened at the Gilmore house.
“Have you decided on a line of work yet, Jess?” Richard asked.
“Oh, I just changed my mind a little. I’m thinking of a different profession.” Jess set his glass on the table.
“A new sense of direction? What might that be?” Richard asked.
“I was hoping to set foot in the medical field.” A spray of blush spread from the apples of his cheeks. No matter how many times he had thought it through in his head, it didn’t sound right to say.
“An admirable career.” Richard nodded and he shared a mutual smile with Jess. It was nice to be approved of. Jess picked his glass off the coffee table and took a long sip. He was still nervous, and he hated the questions that were flying at him.
Rory could sense his insecurity while he twirled the glass in his palms. “Grandpa, Grandma, I told you about the job, didn’t I?”
“Yes, you have,” Emily said, brightening up with a subject that didn’t involve Jess.
“Where do you plan on living?” Richard asked. “It doesn’t seem practical to commute.”
“Oh, that.” Rory glanced at her empty martini glass and back up at her grandfather. “Jess and I were thinking of moving in together.”
“Why? How far is Greenwich?” Emily asked suddenly.
“It’s about eighty miles,” Jess said automatically.
“And that means you have to move in together like a couple of ingrates?”
“I’m sorry, what?” Jess asked, slamming his glass on the table.
“You’re just going to take off with this…delinquent and leave everything you’ve worked for behind?” Emily asked. “That’s rather immature, don’t you think?”
Jess played with the button on his jacket. He was royally pissed off, but he didn’t want to dig himself an early grave. “Grandma! That’s not fair!” Rory finally said. “Jess is attending college only ten miles or so from where I’m working! It’s practical and in no way your business!”
Emily ignored Rory and turned to Jess. “And you think you can provide for her?” she asked harshly.
“Well, considering he can cook,” Rory started, “I think he can.”
“How do you plan on paying for this arrangement when he works in a diner and you are just starting out on your first job?”
Rory had always tried to avoid seeing Emily as cold and calculating as her mother said she was. “Lay off, Grandma,” she snarled, at a loss for words.
“I can only assume your mother taught you to speak to me that way.” Emily stood and left the room without another word.
“I’m sorry about this, Mr. Gilmore,” Jess apologized, digging his fingers through his hair.
“It’s quite all right,” the older man assured him. “Emily can be a bit irrational when it comes to Rory.”
Rory nodded sadly. “You know why we’re doing this, though?”
“I assume it’s to be frugal.” Richard sighed and stood up with his empty glass in hand. “I could sure use a refill. What about you?”
Jess sipped the rest of his scotch and handed the glass to Richard. “Why not?”
Richard set his empty glass on the tray and fixed Rory, and Jess their drinks. After he poured his own scotch, Richard sat back down on the couch across from them. “I don’t see your grandmother returning this evening,” he said softly.
Jess sighed and took a gulp of the scotch. His throat was already used to the alcohol, and he realized just how long it had been since he had been drunk. Not sure if he missed the unawareness, Jess sipped the scotch again. “My intentions are not bad at all,” he promised, “and I really can cook.”
“Wonderful,” Richard said. “It is a talent that all Gilmore women lack.”
Smiling, Rory sipped her martini and sat back on the couch. She didn’t think dinner was ever going to be served.
“Tell you what,” Richard said. “I support this.” He set the glass filled with scotch on the table. “I’ll be quick.”
Rory watched her grandfather disappear into his study and looked at Jess. “What do you think this is all about?”
Shrugging, Jess clinked the ice cubes in his glass.
“I’m mad at my grandmother,” Rory stated, staring at her martini.
Jess nodded and continued to clink the ice in his glass.
“Are you going to say anything?” she asked.
“Sorry,” he said quickly. “I’m a little, lost for words.”
“Per usual,” Rory noted, watching the doorway for her grandfather.
“No. I really thought your grandmother was going to lunge at me,” Jess said, staring at the ice cubes.
“Verbal sparring is more her thing.”
They sat in silence sipping their alcoholic beverages until Richard appeared from his study. “Sorry about the wait,” he apologized. “Jess, I don’t believe your first impression was remarkable. However, there are times in life where you can make up for your mistakes. I view you as an admirable person to go through so much and to still have a decent head on your shoulders.”
“Thank you, Mr. Gilmore.”
“That’s not all,” Richard assured him. “I do support a joint living arrangement if it is what you view as best. I expect that Jess, you will do well in your studies and succeed, and that Rory, you will excel at your job. With that, I would like to give you this.” Richard removed a slip of paper from his jacket pocket and handed it to Rory. “Your graduation may not be until Saturday, so go ahead and consider it an early present.”
Rory glanced down at the check in his hands. “Grandpa, wow. I don’t know if I can accept this.”
Richard shook his head. “Believe me, you deserve this. Find a nice apartment with a suitable kitchen for this young man.”
Jess smirked cheerfully and set his glass back on the table. “Thank you, Mr. Gilmore.”
“Normally I wouldn’t suggest such a thing, but I think it’s wise that you leave before Emily reappears.” Rory tucked the check into her purse and stood. Jess followed her and Richard to the foyer. “I’ll see you tomorrow for your graduation,” Richard said as Rory hugged him goodbye.
“Thank you for everything, Grandpa.” Richard ushered them out and shut the door after them. “That went well,” Rory huffed.
“Your grandfather seems to be on my side,” Jess said weakly. “I suppose one of them is better than neither of them.”
“Well, I don’t know about you,” Rory said as Jess unlocked the car, “but I’m starving.”
“Luke’s?” Jess suggested with a shrug.
“We still need to pack up my apartment. I’m supposed to be out by tomorrow.” Rory groaned while Jess started the car.
“Chinese take-out, book boxing, and maybe another anatomy lesson?” Jess smirked and turned to face Rory in his seat. She kissed him and ran her hands from his shoulders to his arms. “I’ll take that as a yes.”