It was a cowardly thing to do, sneaking off, no real explanation, but Rory couldn’t find a way to explain herself face to face, not to her mother, after everything. Of all the things she had done, this was maybe the dumbest. Okay, so maybe the second dumbest, after sleeping with a married man.
All these years, the people of Stars Hollow made such a big deal out of how smart Rory Gilmore was. She believed what they said, she knew it was true. Only smart girls got into Harvard, Yale, and Princeton. Those type of colleges didn’t offer places to anyone without a first rate education, a keen mind. Yes, Rory was smart, when it came to books and leaning. Unfortunately, in other areas of her life, she just wasn’t that bright.
Boys were confusing. Love was impossible, at least these were the conclusions Rory had come to over the past few years. One boyfriend and then another, then back to the first. It wouldn’t be so bad really, if that first boyfriend wasn’t married to another woman by now. If Rory hadn’t realised too late that maybe it was her other boyfriend she should have tried harder with.
Rory felt like she had been pinning all her hopes on Dean Forester for the longest time. That had been fine in the beginning, when everything was new and special and happy. First love, first date, the only thing they hadn’t gotten to was that first time that teens went in for. Jess had changed everything.
From day one, there had been a spark, a connection. For the longest time, Rory hadn’t wanted to admit that she had a thing for the bad boy. It was so cliché and it was just a base attraction - it was Dean she loved. She might have been able to convince herself if the connection between her and Jess Mariano hadn’t grown day by day and proved to be so much more than just forbidden fruit or the thrill of the chase and banter.
It just felt strange to be with someone else. It wasn’t that Rory didn’t care for Jess, or that he didn’t care of her. She just always felt like everyone else was thinking she made a mistake. Jess wasn’t like Dean. That was kind of the point, in a way, but Rory knew there were certain aspects of Dean that she missed when dating Jess. He wasn’t as eager to please, especially once he ‘won’ her away from her first boyfriend. He did care though, she just knew, even if neither of them really said so, not until it was too late.
Rory couldn’t blame Jess for what happened with Dean. Not back then with the break up and the boyfriend swapping, no, Rory was thinking much more recent than that. When Jess returned to Stars Hollow and told her he loved her only to disappear a second time. His last appearance had resulted in him practically begging her to run away with him. Rory said no, so many times she felt she was going crazy, but she had to do it. If she had tried to explain, talk it through, make sense of both his request and her answer, she knew something stupid would happen, something beautiful and stupid that would have meant she lost her virginity to a different guy entirely.
Sometimes Lorelai said her daughter was still a child, and it made Rory roll her eyes. She was nineteen for God’s sake and entirely grown up, at least she had thought so until the last couple of weeks. Actually, she could pinpoint the moment when she realised quite how childish she really was, the moment on the front porch steps when she called Dean’s cell and Lindsey picked up. Rory thought of that moment and closed her eyes tight, forcing back angry frustrated tears. She was such a fool, convincing herself that Dean just needed to be her first time, that everything would work out okay if she could just go back to how it used to be. She was so naive, and so wrong. A married man! There was no way Rory of a couple of years ago would ever be so stupid. All her talk about growing up and being an adult now, and she’d done something more stupid and insane than anything else she managed when she was a kid.
Going to Europe with her grandma, that made sense to Rory. She just had to get away, from her Mom, from Dean, from Stars Hollow. Running from people and tough situations was a cowards way, and yet it had seemed like the right thing at the time. Rory had time to think, to gain a little perspective, a few short weeks of seeing the sights in Europe, and she had finally admitted to herself what she should have known from the start. Now she understood her own actions, what she had done, sleeping with Dean, running away. It was all some stupid, desperate attempt to put things right, to make it okay, how it used it be. She had tried to step back into a happy past instead of taking a risk on the future, and now she knew for sure what she needed to do.
It took plenty of time, right up to the moment when she got back to her house with the note in her hand that she had written secretly on the plane. She wasn’t sure she was definitely going to use it until she was laying it on the kitchen tale and running for the door.
Now here she was, just a few hours later, on a doorstep she had never seen before. Maybe this was a crazy idea, maybe another of those dumb decisions she seemed to be making left and right lately. There was no way to know for sure until she knocked on the door. Rory considered it, thought about her opening line, any way to explain her presence here, or explain her behaviour in a way he might understand. She thought, she waited, she turned considered walking away a total of three times until suddenly she heard movement beyond the door, yelling from a voice she knew.
“I told you, I’m not...” he began, but stopped abruptly when he came to face to face with the last person he had been expecting. “Rory?”
“I... I’m so sorry,” she told him, already crying before she even got all the words out.
Jess really had no choice about it, suddenly his arms were full of Rory Gilmore, sobbing into his shoulder.
“What the hell...?”