Jess had gotten a little more used to the whole family Christmas thing over the years. At the very least he and Luke exchanged gifts and had the special meal, and either they would visit with Lorelai and Rory or the girls would come see them at the apartment. This Christmas was a little different, the first that the foursome had deliberately spent together all day long.
With the Gilmore elders abroad for the Holidays, Lorelai and Rory were free to do what they wanted with the whole of Christmas. Since they were dating Luke and Jess respectively, it just made sense to spend as much of the occasion together as possible. Lorelai had even considered letting the guys sleep over at the house so they could all wake up together on Christmas morning, but as much as she trusted the teens, and moreover loved the idea of sharing her bed with Luke for an entire night, it didn’t quite feel right. Instead the guys were invited to come over just as early as they wanted, everyone promising not to open any gifts until they were all together.
Though Lorelai usually needed at least seven alarm clocks to get her out of bed, and Rory was scarcely any better on a non-school day, Christmas was an exception to the rule. They were up by five, coffee machine on, jangly festive pop hits playing on the radio, as they inspected the gifts they had under the tree so far. Those they had bought for each other and for the guys were already there, plus the gifts from Emily and Richard, and Christopher too. It was tempting to be sneaky and try to open just a couple of things, and yet the girls held on long enough that the guys soon arrived.
“Do you hear that?” asked Lorelai, turning down the radio.
Rory frowned a little as she listened, the two of them creeping towards the front door. Beyond it they realised the figures on the porch were indeed Luke and Jess, and they seemed to be bickering about something.
“You really want to get them out of bed this early?” asked Luke.
“Geez, on Christmas Day?” Jess countered. “They’re like kids about the Holidays. They’ll have been up since five, at least!”
“And on this occasion, Mariano wins the prize,” said Lorelai dramatically as she flung open the door, making both guys jump. “Merry Christmas, boys!”
“Merry Christmas,” they replied in unison.
Luke stepped in from the cold, hugging Lorelai close. Jess followed him in, glad to find Rory right behind the door.
“Hey,” he smiled, pulling her into his arms.
“Hi,” she replied with a grin of her own as she kissed him hello.
Just as soon as they came up for air they found Lorelai and Luke parting from their own kiss.
“Mmm, a dollar well spent,” said mother to daughter with a wink.
That confused the guys until they followed Lorelai’s upward glance and spotted the mistletoe over their heads. It wasn’t why the kissing had happened, but if she and Rory wanted to think so, it didn’t really matter.
With the family finally complete and happily gathered in the living room, the guys were barely given a chance to take off their coats and add their gifts to the pile under the tree before Lorelai demanded they begin unwrapping presents.
“I’m struggling with which one is the kid out of you two,” said Luke, rolling his eyes.
“Given the way you just kissed Mom back there, kind of hoping you still think it’s me,” said Rory with a wicked smirk she had to have learnt from Jess.
Luke shook off the moment as Lorelai laughed and grabbed at the nearest parcel from under the tree. Swiftly she and Rory handed all the gifts to their owners and one by one they all removed pretty paper and marvelled at the assortment of presents they had received. Unsurprisingly, Rory and Jess had a pile of books each, while Lorelai discovered jewellery and clothing, and Luke was happy enough with some higher end kitchen items. To anybody else, the gifts might have seemed strange, but they were all very happily given and received. Hugs and kisses were shared amongst the four, and cocoa and Sookie's home-made cookies were brought out from the kitchen to tide over all appetites until dinner time. The day sure did seem to be off to a very good start.
Jess was so bored just sat watching Rory flip the channels through what felt like a hundred Hallmark movies and Christmas specials. TV pretty much sucked on days like this, and he and Rory has already spent so much time reading their new books and discussing the finer points of them, even that was going to get boring after a while. Luke and Lorelai were mostly in the kitchen, supposedly cooking dinner. Jess suspected Luke was doing most of the work, and when there was nothing to do food-wise, he and Lorelai were just getting familiar up against the counter. He refused to think too much about it and definitely wasn’t going to go check. The older couple could have their alone time, that was fine, because he liked the same with Rory. Looking over the back of the couch, Jess noted that it had finally stopped snowing outside. He smiled.
“Hey,” he nudged Rory where she was curled into his side. “You wanna take a walk?”
“Really?” she asked, flipping off the TV and staring up at him. “It’s Christmas Day. All the stores are closed, and everybody is with their families. What would be the point in going out?”
“I don’t know, just to walk around?” he shrugged. “I know you’re not quite so crazy about the whole snow thing as Lorelai, but I thought you’d wanna see how it looks out there. Besides, I can’t just sit all day, I’ll go stir crazy,” he reminded her.
Rory knew Jess wasn’t much for being trapped inside all day. Not that he was all that outdoorsy either, usually he was to be found sat on a park bench or out on the bridge just reading, but it was the freedom of being out of doors that he liked, she knew.
“Okay,” she smiled. “I’ll go get my coat.”
Jess got up and fetched his own jacket from the hallway, pulling on his scarf and gloves too. It was going to be pretty damn cold out there, but they would be fine. As sappy as it sounded, Jess was pretty sure the warmth of this house and the family in it was going to stick with him and Rory as they walked around town for an hour. They wouldn’t be cold at all.
“Ready to go?” he asked as she emerged from her room wearing a pale blue hat and scarf, and her coat all done up under her chin.
“Yup, and I even managed to let Mom and Luke know we were going, in between the disturbing make-out sessions against the refrigerator,” she shuddered.
Jess wrapped an arm around her shoulders and opened the front door.
“I did not need to hear that.”
“Mmm, y’know the mistletoe is out in the hall, not here,” said Lorelai after Luke had just kissed her almost breathless.
“Like I need an excuse to wanna kiss you,” he rolled his eyes. “Y’know, I was never big on Christmas, not even as a kid really. I don’t know why, it was just... it never seemed to be the big deal to me that it was to other people, but this year is different,” he smiled, turning away from his girlfriend to turn the heat down under a pan on the stove. “Being here with you, Rory and Jess, everybody so happy... I know it sounds incredibly sappy, but it’s nice. It feels like Christmas is supposed to feel, y’know?”
“I know,” Lorelai agreed, wrapping her arms around him from behind and kissing his shoulder blade. “I can’t imagine a better Christmas than this. I can’t believe we wasted so much time with the whole just being friends thing,” she lamented, practically banging her forehead against his back like she was demonstrating how dumb they had been.
Luke turned to pull her into his arms.
“Maybe we needed to be friends first to get to this place,” he shrugged. “And it doesn’t matter how long it took. We’re here now. You and me are happy, the kids are happy. Take the win, Lorelai,” he told her, pushing her hair back behind her ear.
“Oh, I know I’m a winner, no doubt about that,” she sighed happily as she stared up into his eyes. “You make me very happy, Luke Danes. You know that right?”
“Not half so happy as you make me, Lorelai Gilmore,” he assured her, kissing her soundly on the lips.
“So, how long until the next kitchen thing needs your attention?” she asked with a look when they parted for air.
“I don’t know, maybe a half hour?” said Luke, oblivious to her meaning for all of five seconds before she made it very plain what she had in mind.
They ran up the stairs hand in hand like a pair of kids, laughing all the way.
Most people were staying indoors, surrounded by family, eating good food and sharing gifts. A few kids were running around with what seemed to be brand new sleds, wearing home-knitted gifts and happy smiles, but for the most part things were quiet and still. All the stores were closed, and everywhere glittered under a blanket of crystal white.
“It’s all so beautiful,” Rory sighed as she and Jess wandered around the mostly-abandoned town square.
“Personally I’ve seen better,” he smiled, his eyes fixed on Rory’s pretty face.
She blushed terribly when she realised what he meant and cuddled in all the closer to his side as they walked.
“I can’t imagine spending Christmas anywhere but in Stars Hollow,” she said happily, not even thinking about the fact that Jess had ever been anywhere else.
“I remember what New York looks like covered in snow. Pretty special,” he said thoughtfully as Rory stared up at him. “Even at Christmas, it’s full of traffic and noise, lights flashing everywhere. It’s not just at night that the city never sleeps, it’s twenty four hours, seven days a week, fifty two weeks a year,” he explained.
“Do you ever wish you were still there?” asked Rory, almost wishing she hadn’t the very next moment.
Liz usually called around the Holidays, but not always, and Jess rarely mentioned his mother at all. Rory made a point of not bringing her up most of the time, but her last question just sort of slipped out in the moment, and now it was too late to take it back.
“I did, when I first came here,” Jess admitted as they stopped walking a moment.
He turned and looked down at Rory, holding her close in his arms, his breath visibly mingling with hers as they both breathed the cold winter air.
“Now, I can't imagine ever wanting to be anywhere else but here,” he promised her faithfully.
Rory was pretty sure she never heard anything that beautiful before, and despite the cold, suddenly she felt very warm from her head to her toes. She leaned in closer and the couple were soon lost in a kiss that both would be happy to let go on forever, until suddenly a big fat snowball struck them.
A bunch of kids a little way off laughed excitedly as the teens leapt apart. Rory meant to complain about the cold wetness at her neck and shoulder, but soon forgot to be mad when she realised it was all done in innocence. She and Jess had some epic snowball fights when they were kids, and though her aim wasn’t great, his was always dead on.
“Revenge?” she suggested with a smirk her boyfriend would’ve been proud of himself.
“Oh yeah,” he agreed as they grabbed up handfuls of snow and pelted after the kids that had started this snow war.
Luke and Lorelai were back in the kitchen a little over a half an hour after they left it. Checking his watch, Luke turned the oven down a little and then moved to look out of the window.
“You think Rory and Jess will be back soon?” he asked.
“I don’t know. I guess so,” Lorelai shrugged. “You told them dinner would be ready at one, right?”
“No, I thought you did.”
Luke sighed and went to fetch his jacket. He was going to have to go look for the kids otherwise dinner was going to be ruined. Lorelai was trying to decide if she was supposed to offer to go with him or try to keep an eye on the food, when Luke opened up the back door and was immediately hit in the face by a cold wet lump.
“Oh my God!” Lorelai gasped as she rushed to him.
She then spotted Jess, ducked down in the doorway, and Rory out in the driveway, her arm still raised from a throw. That was when Lorelai bust up laughing.
“This is not funny!” Luke tried to tell her, wiping ice cold water from his face, even as Jess and Rory cracked up too.
The truth was, it actually was funny. It would have been hilarious if it happened to anyone else, and Luke knew damn well nobody had meant any harm, not Rory or Jess, they were just having fun.
“She didn’t mean it, Uncle Luke, I swear,” Jess promised him. “We were having this snowball fight with these kids, and I accidentally hit Rory with one of mine. Next thing I know it’s us two battling all the way home and... Uncle Luke?”
Jess warily started moving out of the door until his back hit the porch rail. Rory was confused as she came to join him on the porch, only to see Luke coming out of the house with a face like thunder.
“You think you’re funny?” he asked the kids.
“Not really,” said Rory warily.
“Luke, don’t!” Lorelai cried, unable to help but laugh as her boyfriend scooped up as much snow off the porch as he could and dumped it unceremoniously all over the kids.
“Geez!” Jess complained as he tried to shake the snow from his hair.
“That was mean!” Rory complained.
“Stop complaining and fight back!” Lorelai suggested, pulling on her coat and hat as she came running outside too.
Rory giggled as she realised Luke was already lining up snow balls in the back yard. Grabbing for Jess’ hand they both ran along behind Lorelai, and a new battle started up all over the yard, dinner apparently entirely forgotten.
The laughter of the four happy people carried for what seemed like miles, joining that of many other families enjoying their own Christmas Day in Stars Hollow. As far as Luke, Lorelai, Rory, and Jess were concerned, it was pretty much the best Christmas ever.