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02 February 2011 @ 11:48 pm
Fic: The Boyfriend Tour of North America - Rory/Jess - T  
Title The Boyfriend Tour of North America
Fandom Gilmore Girls
Pairing Rory/Jess, Logan, Dean
Rating T
Word Count 1453
Summary "You are overwhelmed by the transience of your life—November and a place to call home seem far away."

Palo Alto, California

The bus pulls into another chain parking lot just a few minutes before the sun is set to rise on another campaign morning. There's a crick in your neck, a kink in your hair and your suit is wrinkled beyond anything your grandmother would fine acceptable. More than anything you want to climb into bed and sleep for a few hours, without the steady buzz of the bus motor humming beneath you, but there's only time for a quick shower before you have to be back on the bus. The Candidate has a full day and so do you.

At eleven thirty there's an hour and a half between speeches, and you set out on your own to find a bite to eat, a quiet place to make a phone call. You haven't had more than a couple emails from him since graduation, since you returned his ring and set off to have your own life, but you're here and he's here and you think you should at least call.

He picks up on the second ring and he sounds disoriented, maybe half-asleep, and you can't tell if he knew it was you calling when he answered, if your name is still saved in his phone, or maybe he even knows your number off the top of his head. You say: "Hi, it's me," and he sort of grunts, a noncommittal noise, but you know he recognizes your voice at least, and you try to find it again. You say: "I'm in Palo Alto, just for the day, and I thought maybe." You say: "I have some time tonight." You say: "Do you want to have dinner?"


He looks good.

For the rest of the world it's Saturday, and he shows up wearing the weekend well, his hair a little tousled, a little longer than when you last saw him, and his eyes charmingly bleary. He looks relaxed and you wonder if it's the truth, or if he feels as knotted up as you do. It's only been five months. The pain of letting go has faded, but not the memory, and seeing him pulls it right back into the center of your heart, where it sits and throbs.

You eat dinner. You turn on your charm, ask him questions about work and life and Palo Alto, offer him your fries, smile, but he doesn't engage. His warmth and ease is there, but locked behind a glass wall. It's not for you.

You say: "It's good to see you." You say: "I'll call. Next time I'm in Palo Alto." You don't say: "I've missed you."

Stars Hollow, Connecticut

At Christmas you get six days off. You fly home to Connecticut and all but barricade yourself into your childhood bedroom to sleep off the road. When you emerge it's Christmas Eve, and snow is falling, and it's hard not to feel touched by the magic of Stars Hollow, aglow with twinkle lights and flush with carolers. The snow sticks, but your stress melts.

April comes to stay for the holidays, and Sookie and Jackson and Lane and Zack and Liz and TJ and all of their respective tots and even your grandparents come for Christmas dinner. Luke makes a turkey big enough to serve the population of Belgium, but he forgets the sweet potatoes, and sends you out to Doose's in the mounting blizzard.

Dean is sitting at the register in the empty market with the same hang-dog expression he's been wearing since he left you on your grandparents' driveway three years ago.

You've developed some skill for avoiding him, not with the ferocity you employed as a sixteen-year-old with a broken heart, but you learned how to stay out of each others' paths awhile ago, and it's been at least a year and since you were last forced into any sort of conversation.

Now you're the only two people in the store. Options aren't so much limited as non-existent.

You say: "How've you been?" You say: "Some weather." You say: "Merry Christmas." You don't say: "Sad to see you."

Back at home there's a fire and a turkey and six tykes and Paul Anka. There's bustle and cheer and three more days of rest before it's time to hit the road again.

Gifts have all been given with thoughts of your portable life: an ereader from Lorelai, Travel Scrabble from Luke, a new make-up bag from April, an iTunes gift card from Lane with a list of seventeen album recommendations from Zack. Your grandmother presents you with an outrageous luggage set you know will be kept in your closet here, not to be mocked by reporters from the San Francisco Chronicle or the Chicago Sun-Times. You are overwhelmed by the transience of your life—November and a place to call home seem far away.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

It's a long debate that starts on a cross-country flight the day you get the itinerary and doesn't end until your hand wraps around the door handle of Truncheon Books three weeks later.

You thought about calling, testing the waters. You're not sure you can reopen the door you closed between you the last time you saw him face-to-face, standing in this same room telling him lies. Or maybe they weren't lies, but neither were they whole truths. Did you love Logan? Yes. Or you thought you did, at least, as much as you could. You didn't want to be someone who would hurt someone like that, though. You wanted to stop making bad decisions.

It would have been a bad decision.

So you left.

And since then there have been six emails, and a phone-call, once, not long after graduation, that came in the middle of the night and only lasted a minute or two: "Congrats." "Just checking in." "I knew you'd do it." All of it friendly, but detached. Time doesn't heal wounds, but it's got a tight stitch. Maybe you are bound forever, now, the untidy seam of your history trimmed and hemmed, but still just visible, where it ripped once. And neither of you can quite forget the gash.

He's shelving something, the whole of him stretched up to reach the top of the bookcase. You pause, take a breath, still out of his sight line. You say: "Jess."

He's friendly. Not just friendly, he is kind, warm, he is Jess.

He asks about work, about life, about the road and the Candidate and What You're Doing Next. He takes you upstairs, makes you coffee, asks "have you read this?" and hands you a book, hands you another, tells you to keep them. Tells you to read them, you have to, they'll change your life.

The margins are crushed with his thoughts, the neat curls of his handwriting you still catch, sometimes, reading things you forgot you owned (always a pleasing little turn in your gut, like being caught on his hook again. Or never having been let go, just forgetting the slack in the line until it's pulled taut again, memory turning the rod).

You remember, now, the intimacy of once finding your name in his margin. No expansion, no punctuation, just "rory." And the passage beside it something lovely, something aching, though the words have drifted past what you can now reach. You remember thinking then, for the first time, that this was what love was like with Jess. Your name in his margin.

He takes you out for dinner. You walk in step; spring licks at your ankles. He says: "It's good to see you." He says: “I’ve missed you.” He says: “I—” and you kiss him.

You swallow his sentences, the two of you melting into some anonymous wall. You can feel the sharp corner of a brick against your shoulder, the warm palm of his hand seeking skin at the dip in your waist. The line between you is pulled tight, the hook in your belly the trigger of a shudder that runs along your veins, surges in your bloodstream. Everything a message saying: “Don’t stop. Don’t let go.” Saying: “Now, now, now.”

Morning means the bus. Means hours of the tedium, the steady roll of windows and hills and the next city and the next. He sees you off in yesterday’s crumpled clothes, the crease of your hotel pillow still lining the side of his face. You say goodbye like struck teenagers, promising calls, promising another stop in Philadelphia, the primary just a few weeks away.

There is so much to come, so much to learn, falling in love as grown-ups, falling in love five years later. You’ll tell a different story this time. You swell up with the expectation of it.
tigermaus: litsextigermaus on February 3rd, 2011 01:35 pm (UTC)