“C’mon, Gypsy, please check it one more time, there has to be something you can do.” Jess begs.
Gypsy shakes her head, wiping her hands on a rag and bringing the hood down with a slam. “I’ve already checked two times, this baby is kaput. Honestly I’m surprised you kept it going as long as you did.”
“But it’s my car. I need my car.”
“Oh, in that case, let me pull out my time machine, go back to 1969, and get this car when it was brand new, because that is the only way it will run again. Now if you excuse me, I need to go help people with cars that actually have a chance at working again.” Gypsy throws her rag on her shoulder, leaving him be.
Jess exhales sharply, folding his arms on the roof. He knew going in that this car wouldn’t last long, but damn it, he hasn’t even had it for a year. Plus, him and Rory are going to have to figure out a new plan for Yale. They were planning on using his car, with the idea that if they needed to go anywhere, chances were they both would be going to the same place and could carpool. Now they’re going to have to figure out something new by the fall, neither of them liking the idea of having to take the bus from New Haven to Stars Hollow every time they feel like coming home.
He watches as Oliver walks up, a frown on his face. “Hey, I heard from Luke that he had to help you push your car here this morning when it wouldn’t start. Does Gypsy think she can fix it?”
Jess snorts. “Maybe if she would try harder!” He raises his voice, making sure she could hear him.
Sure enough, Gypsy pops up around the corner, pointing a wrench at him. “The only thing that car is good for now is scrap. Put coins on its eyes, hold a wake, and get over it.”
Jess glares at her, but she has already disappeared around the corner. “Well, maybe this is fate.” Oliver tries.
Jess turns to him, staring at him over the roof of his car. “And how exactly is it fate that my car died?”
Oliver clicks his tongue, struggling to find the right words. “You know, uh, it wasn’t the greatest car ever. I mean, it was older than you, and um…”
Jess rolls his eyes. “Quit sugar coating it and just get to the point.”
“Fine, the thing was a piece of crap. Both the a/c and the heater didn’t work, you constantly had to have at least one window cracked or the inside would reek of gasoline, if you went over sixty-five it started to shake weird, it had no airbags, and you could only use the radio because I Would Be (500 miles) has been stuck in the tapdeck the whole time.”
“You said you liked that song.”
“Yeah, I used to, before I heard it fifty times in a row.”
Jess sighs, with all the evidence stacked up like that, he can see how the car can be viewed as a piece of crap. There’s just one thing that outweighs all that that he can’t get over. “But this was my car. It was the first thing I bought that was one hundred percent mine. Not Liz’s or Luke’s or anyone else’s, it was mine. And I worked hard for it. I worked at the diner and the inn all summer saving up for it.”
“I get that, but you have to stop looking at it through rose tinted glasses and see it for what it really is. A car that was old and has been on its last legs since you got it.”
Jess picks at the roof, watching how easily the paint is chipping off with his fingernail. “Yeah, I guess…”
With renewed determination, Jess watches with curiosity as Oliver goes around to the garage, asking Gypsy if he could borrow a screwdriver and grabbing it before she has the chance to answer. Jess, growing more and more curious by the second, walks over and watches Oliver bend down and start unscrewing something at the back of the car.
“Here.” He pops up, handing him the old license plate. “That way you always have a piece of your first car.” He gives Gypsy back her screwdriver with an apology, who snatches it back with minimal grumbling from her end. “So, what do you think? Is it stupid? It’s stupid, isn’t it.”
Jess looks up from the plate for the first time, a thin smile in place. “No, it’s perfect. Thanks.”
“And speaking of gratitude, what are our plans prom wise?”
Jess groans. “Nice conversation shift. Subtle. And I don’t know, I’m not really into the whole school dances thing.”
“So there’s no reason for you to go? No reason at all?”
Jess narrows his eyes at him. “Why do I get the feeling I’m walking into a trap if I answer no?”
Oliver sounds like he’s trying to be casual, but Jess isn’t buying it. “I just thought that usually when someone is nominated for prom king they generally want to go to prom to see if they won.” Yup, there it is.
“Ah, jeez, not this. How did you even find out? I know I didn’t tell Rory this one.”
“No, but they did announce it over the intercom and Lane heard. We were talking after we listened to her band practise and you went to the bathroom.” Jess rolls his eyes. “Jess, why can’t you ever tell me these things? I hate finding out stuff like this from a third party source and not straight from you.”
“Because, the whole thing is stupid. I don’t like anyone at that school. I was probably just nominated as a joke.” Jess sneers, heading down the street. Oliver runs to catch up with him.
“Or maybe you were nominated because people may actually like you.” Jess lets out a wry laugh at that. Oliver grabs his hand, pulling him to a stop. “Hey, stop and look at me for a second. Why is it so ridiculous that people might genuinely like you? I do. Do you think I’m a joke?”
Jess sighs, not liking where this conversation is going. “No, of course not. Look, I’m not exactly Mr. Personality. For most people, I come off as brash and abrasive, and I don't try and correct them either. I don’t want to go to prom only to get pigs blood poured on me as I walk on stage.”
“You aren’t going to get Carried. This is real life, not a movie.”
“But what if it is? We can’t all be the heroes that get the trophy at the end because the whole class figured out you’re the slayer.”
Oliver pauses before understanding passes over him. “Real life isn’t Buffy either, true, but you’re not the villain. Want to know what else Lane told me? A lot of people she knows chose you because of how you stuck up for the girls when the administration wasn’t going to do anything about Chuck kissing them. Others like you for starting up the GSA club at your school. Despite the loner vibes you try to send out, everyone looked past that and saw you for you, someone who cares and has the guts to stand up for what’s right.”
“She really said that?”
“Well, she said the first two things. The last part is from me. But that doesn’t make it any less true.”
Jess bites his lip, thinking it over. “Fine, I’ll get the tickets tomorrow, but I swear, if I get Carried-”
Oliver kisses him, probably to get him to stop talking. “Please stop saying that, I promise you are not going to get Carried.”
Jess sighs, putting on a show of being put out more than anything. “Guess I’m gonna have to go suit shopping. Luke and I will have a grand old time doing that.”
Lorelai drags her feet through the halls of Chilton, hopefully for one of the last times. Stupid booster club, why should her attendance affect Rory? Rory’s the one graduating, not her. Oh well, she has straws in her purse, maybe she can break her record on how long she can make a crawly snake.
Walking into the cafeteria, she makes a beeline for the coffee station the school had set up, knowing she would need a few cups to be able to get through this meeting. A few parents are already there, the woman at the head table and the two sitting to her right looking the most familiar. Shockingly, there’s a guy sitting a seat away from the head of the table with his back to her, looking about as out of place as Lorelai feels. Taking the empty seat at the table, she prides herself on not choking on her coffee as she realizes too late that the guy next to her is Luther of all people. Why does the universe love doing this to her? She’s a good person. Ish. Good enough that she shouldn’t have to be put through this torture. At least he doesn’t look too pleased with this arrangement either.
Going through the motions of listening, Lorelai resists the urge to make a crawly snake, having already received a small glare from the queen bee of this club for showing up late.
“Why are you covering this again? We already went over it at the last meeting.” One of the queen’s little followers asks.
“To catch our last minute booster club members up to speed.” She answers pointedly, not being subtle about glancing at her side of the table.
“You receive the scary, threatening letter too?” Lorelai asks, trying to break the tension.
She spots the tiniest bit of a smirk on his face as he nods and hums in the affirmative. “I almost thought it was from you, before realizing your threats are much scarier.” He whispers back as the leader starts talking again.
Lorelai smothers a chuckle at that, glad to know her talk with him at her birthday had some lasting affect. The only good she knew she had done was getting Oliver his car back. The day after her party, he had shown up in it, telling them that his keys had just reappeared on the desk the night before when he got home. Jess, the kid being too smart for his own good, had glanced at her, but didn’t say anything.
Things only get more awkward when Max shows up. She doesn’t know if she’s relieved or annoyed that he plays it cool, only acknowledging her with a nod and small greeting that got lumped in with everyone else, but either way it still hurt. A few weeks ago it was like how it was a year ago, and now he’s treating her like they only just met.
The rest of the meeting drags on, the head of the club surprising her with the money box and volunpicking her as treasurer.
Packing up at the end of the meeting, Max runs off before she can pull him aside, claiming he’s running late for something else.
With no use in rushing now, Lorelai grabs one last cup of coffee on the way out. She grimaces after the first sip, but drinks more anyway. Coffee’s coffee at this point, and it’s better than drowning her sorrows in a bottle of vodka.
“I don’t know how you can stand that stuff. Four years, and I’ve never had one good cup of coffee at this school.” Luther falls into step with her as they head outside into the dark.
“It’s my superpower. I bypass the bad and just absorb the caffeine straight into my bloodstream. Now, unless you’ve become really interested in my drinking habits, which I doubt is the case, something else is on your mind.” Luther flinches a little, but doesn’t say anything. He does, however, stop on the sidewalk, looking like he’s debating something in his mind. “C’mon, I’d like to think we bonded a little over being punished by this school for having lives outside of participating in every little bake sale they put on. What’s up?”
This time Lorelai waits patiently, letting him find his words. It takes a few false starts, but he finally brings up what was bothering him to start a conversation with her. “Oliver brought up a party that’s happening next week. He says there won’t be any drinking, but it hasn’t been that long since I was a teenager and going to parties myself. I worry, is what I’m getting at.”
Lorelai can’t help the snort that escapes, which earns her a glare. “No, trust me, I’m not snorting at you. I just forget you’ve never spent more than two minutes in Stars Hollow.” Calming down a little, Lorelai tries to be as serious as possible so he’ll believe her. “The town is so small, everyone knows everyone. If some high schooler tried flashing a fake ID they’d be laughed out of the only liquor store by Doug, the guy who owns said liquor store.”
“Positive. They’re only going to support a friend in the band anyway, this is their first gig. I promise, that party will be drier than a nunnery.”
“Listen here, you little punk, there better not be any drinking at that party or your ass is grass.”
Jess glances up from his book, staring at Lorelai who just burst into the apartment. “Does anyone in this damn town know how to knock? I swear, this sort of thing never happened in New York.”
Lorelai continues on as if he never spoke, stepping closer and pointing at him. “I’m serious, I just spent an hour sitting next to your boyfriend’s father, swearing up and down that there will be no drinking at the party next week. Now look me in the eye and promise there will be no drinking.”
Jess is about to do as she asked just to get her to leave sooner when Billy, who was snoozing on his lap and awoke when Lorelai showed up, beats him to the punch and hisses at her. Jess snorts at the insulted look on her face. “Good boy.” He brushes down the fur on his back that started to stick up.
Jess rolls his eyes, turning his attention away from his cat, much to Billy’s dismay. “Alright, fine, I promise I’ll be the perfect little boy scout. Happy?”
Lorelai sighs, sitting on the corner of the coffee table. Billy, put out by all of the commotion, jumps off Jess’ lap and crawls under his bed, in search of a quieter place. “Listen, I’m sorry I’m being so hard on you about this, but you have to admit, you don’t have the best track record with this sort of thing.”
Closing his book with a snap, Jess tosses it aside, taking a deep breath before he lets his anger answer for him. “Would you quit having that night as your go to? Yes, I was being stupid, I learned my lesson, and it will never happen again. Now, unless someone else adopted me without my knowledge, you don’t have anything to worry about.”
“Nope, last I checked, Luke is still the only one able to mark you as a dependant and get a break on his taxes.”
“Great, then can this conversation be done? I’d like to get back to my book.”
“Yeah, of course, kid.” Lorelai pats his knee, but doesn’t make a move to get up.
“I worry about you, you know that. I could tell how hurt you were after the fight you two had after New York, and I just don’t want to see you hurt again.”
With a groan, Jess gets up without a word and heads to his dresser. Finding what he was looking for, he brings it over to her and practically throws it in her lap. “Here. Is this proof enough that I’m serious about not screwing up again?”
Confused, Lorelai straightens the two matching rectangles of paper so she can read them. Jess sees the moment she figures out what they are by the huge grin that grows on her face. “You bought prom tickets? But you think prom is a joke.”
Jess shrugs, sticking his hands in his pockets. “Ollie doesn’t. If spending two hours in an overheated gym and suit is something he wants to do, then it’s whatever.”
Lorelai keeps grinning at him, making him shift in place. “I’m really proud of you.”
“This is stupid, I shouldn’t have told you.” Jess snatches the tickets back, putting them back in his dresser.
Lorelai gets up, following him over. “No, it’s not stupid. I wish I could have gone to my prom, but having an infant and also not graduating kind of put the kibosh on it.” Jess bites back the comment he was about to make as he leans back against his dresser, hating it when she plays that card. “Do you have a suit?” She asks instead, changing the subject.
“I didn’t even own slacks before moving here, you really need to ask?”
Lorelai does a little jump and claps her hands. “Great! Any excuse to go shopping and I am so in! We’ll find something tomorrow- Oh! And I can tailor it for you! With how skinny you are, I’ll definitely have to take in any suit you get by a few inches.”
“Wait, I don’t want to go to the mall, I hate shopping.”
“And Rory can come too. I know she’s on the fence about going since she has no one to go with, but it doesn’t hurt to look at prom dresses.”
“Lorelai, are you listening to me? I don’t want to waste my Saturday off shopping at a stupid mall.”
Lorelai continues on, in her own world. “I’ll let Luke know our plans on my way out, and I’ll pick you up in the morning, ‘kay?” She pats his cheek before ruffling his hair as a goodbye. “Proud of you, kid!”
“I shouldn’t have told you!” He yells as she leaves.
“Love you, too! See you in the morning!”
Jess hangs his head after she’s gone, watching as Billy crawls out from his hiding spot under the bed. “Smart thinking, little man. Next time I think I’ll join you.” His bell jingles as he trots over and starts to headbutt his leg. “Yeah, alright, let’s get back to our book. I promise the crazy lady won’t get you.”
Jess reclines on the couch, watching Kyle run around collecting last minute breakables to store somewhere safe.
“We are here stupid early. You realize that, right?”
“Because we are supposed to help Lane and her band set up.” Oliver scolds him after setting down one of the speakers. “Thanks for the help, by the way. Hope you didn’t strain yourself putting your feet up on the couch.”
Kyle spins around. “C’mon, man! At least take your shoes off!”
With a roll of his eyes, Jess lets his feet drop off the couch. “I’m gonna go have some chips before people stick their nasty hands in the bowl.”
Jess heads into the privacy of the kitchen, idly eating a few chips from the bowl. Thirsty, he starts digging through Kyle’s fridge for something to drink.
“I don’t think Kyle wants people going through his fridge.” Oliver says from the doorway.
“Then Kyle shouldn’t have opened his house up to a bunch of teenagers and not put out anything to drink.” Finding a coke, he offers Oliver some, who shakes his head. Closing the fridge, Jess leans back against it with a sigh. “Listen, I’m sorry I’m being such a downer. I’m still a little upset about my car, then had to go shopping with Lorelai last weekend and act as a human pincushion so she could take my measurements. I’m just tired. Once I have this caffeine I’ll perk up.”
Oliver winces. “I get it. We should stay for a few songs for Lane’s sake, but if you want to head out early we can.”
Jess shakes his head, tempted to take him up on his offer, but ultimately letting his conscious get the better of him. “No, it’s fine. I wouldn’t hear the end of it from Lane if she saw me ditch her first gig.”
“So, how did the shopping go?”
Jess groans at the memory. “Well, once Lorelai told Luke, he wanted to go too, and then Rory was feeling left out so she came, and then it become a whole family outing.”
Jess tries to suppress a smile so as not to encourage him. “It’s not funny! What should have been a quick in and out thing became this big ordeal. I had to spend all day trying on stupid suits that all looked the same to me.”
“I’m sure it was a truly terrible experience.”
Jess is about to argue that it was a truly terrible experience being poked, prodded, and eyed from head to toe all day, when they hear cheering at the front door. They watch as Kyle and a group of guys Jess vaguely recognizes from around town carry in a keg. Once they put the keg down they start cheering again.
Jess and Oliver share a look, and Jess can see the apprehension in Oliver’s eyes as they both think back to the last party with alcohol they were at. “Well, I think we both know why Kyle didn’t put any drinks out now.” Jess breaks the tension with a joke.
Chapter 2: Take a Bow
Title from Bastille's Bad Decisions
“You said that maybe this is where it ends
Take a bow for the bad decisions that we made
Bad decisions that we made
And if we're going down in flames
Take a bow for the bad decisions that we made
Bad decisions that we made” -Bad Decisions, Bastille
Jess pulls Oliver out into the hall for privacy, promising up and down that he won’t drink.
After the third ‘I promise’ Oliver cuts him off. “Okay, okay, relax. I trust you.”
Jess bites his lip, hoping he isn’t just saying that to get him to stop talking. “You sure this is okay?”
“I’m telling you it’s fine. It’s not like I’m stranded in New York, I can leave on my own if it gets too uncomfortable.”
“Okay, if you say so. Just promise you won’t tell your dad. I’m pretty sure Lorelai swore on her movie collection that there wouldn’t be drinking at this thing.”
Oliver blinks, processing what he just said. “When were my dad and Lorelai talking?”
Jess shrugs. “Sometime last week at a Chilton thing. She said something about how they were being punished for having lives, then after that I zoned out and stopped listening.”
Oliver slaps his arm lightly, shaking his head. “I thought you said you were working on not doing that. What if you miss something important?”
“Chill. I don’t zone out if it’s important, only when it’s something boring.”
“How do you know if it’s important or not if you’re zoning out?”
“Because everything you say is important.” Jess grins.
“Oh, smooth! Good answer.”
Jess wiggles his eyebrows, taking one of Oliver’s hands. “Yeah?”
“Yeah. Now go help the others finish setting up, Mr. Smooth.”
“Ouch, fine. I can see when I’m not wanted.”
Oliver finally lets out a laugh. “Yup, poor you. Now let’s go.” Turning Jess around, he gives him a small push to get him moving.
“Wow, alright, jeez. You must be taking bossy lessons from Rory.”
People from school start trickling in, slowly but steadily. Things are a little awkward when Kyle’s friends come to him asking for help tapping the keg, his reputation of past partying preceding him. Oliver was surprisingly cool with it, him explaining afterward that it’s probably better to have happy drunks than angry sober teenagers. It might also give Lane’s band the little edge that they need for their confidence if the audience is a little less than sober. Lane’s band didn’t need it though. Brian was a little nervous at first, but once they got started they were great, just like Jess thought they were.
The next little bump in the night was when Jess saw Chuck arrive with some group from the GSA club at school. About a month after their run-in in the school bathroom, Jess noticed him start to slip in a few minutes after the meetings began, always somewhere in the back, then slip out a few minutes before it was over. He wasn’t the only one to notice, because a few weeks later a couple of the more outgoing kids approached him and got chatting. The next thing Jess knew, Chuck was showing up on time every single week actually participating. That’s more than Jess does even. As soon as he could, he passed the torch off to some other kid that’s better at the leading and communicating thing. He still comes every week and pitches in every so often, but more times than not he just sits off to the side either listening, reading, or making small talk with the teacher that hosts them.
Chuck notices him pretty quickly, but is smart enough to keep his distance when Jess wraps his arm around Oliver as a hint and nods for him to get lost.
“Who was that?” Oliver asks, sipping coke from the red solo cup Jess sneaked them earlier so they would fit in. (And also so no one finds out about their secret stash of it in the fridge. Yes, Jess assure Oliver that he will pay Kyle back for the cokes they drink, spoilsport.)
“Huh? Oh, no one. Just some guy from my school.” Oliver goes along with it, going back to listening to Lane and her band.
“So, what’s the deal with Lane, Dave, and the guy she was pretending to date?” Oliver asks after they witnessed Lane roll her eyes and head into the kitchen to escape her ‘date’.
Jess snorts. “What’s his face likes Lane now for real and won’t break up with her. The only way she can go to prom with Dave is if the other guy breaks up with her first, but-”
“He won’t. Wow, that sucks.”
“Yup. And now Dave is getting annoyed because he was really looking forward to going with Lane.”
Oliver nudges his shoulder. “Careful, it’s starting to sound like you almost care. That kind of ruins your whole ‘I don’t like anyone’ facade.”
Jess gives him a mock glare. “Watch it, or you’ll be hearing from my lawyer for slander.”
“Whatever you say. I’m gonna head to the bathroom, I’ll be right back.” Oliver stands after giving him a quick squeeze of the hand.
“More like in an hour. The line for the bathroom is probably huge by now.”
“At least you’ll have your lawyer to keep you company.” Oliver shoots back before heading off for good. Jess shakes his head, pulling out a book from his back pocket.
A second later Rory plops down in Oliver’s now vacant seat. “How’s the party, Grandpa?”
Jess shuts his eyes with a sigh, putting his book back. “Having a grand old time. What about you? I’ve seen Lindsay draping herself on Dean the whole time.”
“Fine. She’s his girlfriend, she’s allowed to do that.” Rory says tightly. “New subject now, where’d Oliver head off to?”
“Bathroom. I warned him to go earlier, but he didn’t listen.”
“Victim of the line?”
“Well, at least you two are doing better than Lane. Young Chui is very persistent. At this rate I think Lane is on the verge of homicide.”
“Well, if she makes it look like an accident maybe her mother will take pity and let her go with Dave.”
Rory chuckles at that. “Too bad you’re going with Oliver, I think you’re the only boy Mrs. Kim would allow to escort Lane to prom.”
“Hey, I’ve tried on multiple occasions to explain the whole bi thing to her, but her only takeaway is that I’m dating a guy.” He takes a sip of his drink, then holds it out to her. “Want some?”
She wrinkles her nose. “Ew, no. You promised Mom you wouldn’t drink.”
“And I’m not. It’s only coke, but if you don’t want it…”
“Gimme.” Jess lets Rory snatch the cup out of his hand. “Wait, did you go through Kyle’s fridge for this? Because-”
“Relax, I already agreed to pay Kyle back later.”
Rory nods, not bothering to hide her shock. “Well, good. I’m glad.”
Jess smirks. “You’re mad you don’t get to lecture me.”
“What? No, of course not. That’s crazy, I would never- Okay, fine, yes. It’s a habit at this point.” Jess continues to smirk at her. “You’re such a jerk, I’m gonna go check on Lane.”
“Wait, no, don’t leave. I don’t know what to do with myself without one of your rants.”
Rory shoves him as she leaves, not dignifying that with a response.
Jess checks his watch when forty-five minutes pass and Oliver still hasn’t returned from the bathroom. He wasn’t serious about it actually taking an hour. If the line is this bad, they could have just walked to the diner or even Lorelai’s.
Ignoring the tall blond guy from Lane’s band, he gets up and leaves as the guy is mid talking at him. “Hey, where you going, man?”
“Nowhere that concerns you.” He says off-handedly. He finds the line for the bathroom quickly, noticing how long it is, but not seeing Oliver. Spotting Dean and Lindsay in line, he heads for them. “Have you seen Oliver? We seem to have gotten split up.”
“Yeah, um, I think I saw him head upstairs earlier.” Dean answers for the two of them.
“Thanks.” Jess turns to head up when
“Hey,” Dean grabs his arm to stop him from leaving. “I hope I’m not speaking out of turn here, but uh, he seemed a little… off balance? I don’t know, I could be wrong, but I just wanted to give you a little heads up.”
Jess takes his arm back with a scoff. “Oliver drinking? Please, you know that’s not him. He probably just missed a step and stumbled.”
Dean holds up his hands in surrender. “And I hope your right, dude. I’m just telling you what we saw.”
“And what we saw was someone drunk as a sailor.” Lindsay mutters under her breath.
“What was that?” Jess takes a step forward.
Dean, sensing the growing tension, steps between them. “Nothing, alright, it’s probably like you said and he just stumbled on a step. Lindsay, let’s go, the line’s moving.” He wraps an arm around her, physically moving her forward. She crosses her arms and looks back at him, rolling her eyes.
With a shake of his head, Jess heads up the stairs two at a time. First he checks the bathroom up there, thinking Oliver might have bypassed the busy one downstairs and came up here, but he finds it empty. Checking the bedrooms, he finally finds him in one of the spare bedrooms, sitting on the bed and staring out the window.
“There you are, I was wondering where you headed off to.” Jess shuts the door to give them some privacy, noticing the cup in his hand. It could be filled with coke from earlier though, he tries to reassure himself.
“J’st thought you might want some time alone with your ‘friend’ from school.” Oliver mutters, staring into his cup. Great, he’s doing that thing people do when they’re drunk where they over enunciate their words so they don’t sound drunk, but it only makes them sound more drunk.
Sighing, Jess carefully takes the cup out of his hands, setting it on the nightstand. “I think we should get going. You can stay the night and tell your dad in the morning that it was late and Luke insisted you stay.” Jess takes his hand, trying to get him to stand, but only gets slapped away for his troubles. “C’mon, whatever you’re pissed about, you can tell me when you’ve sobered up. If you really don’t wanna be around me tonight, you can stay at Rory’s, you just shouldn’t stay here.”
Jess tries to get him up again, but this time instead of batting him away, Oliver pulls him in and smashes their lips together, hooking his arms around Jess’ neck so he can’t pull back. If Jess was doubting Oliver’s sobriety before, he isn’t now going by the taste of beer on his lips. Unfortunately Oliver has more strength than him and is able to fully pull him down onto the bed. Using the shock of Jess falling to his advantage, Oliver flips them over so he’s on top, straddling Jess as he continues to kiss him.
As much as Jess’ is enjoying this, once Oliver’s hand drags down to Jess’ jeans, it serves as a strong reminder of where he is. Jess grabs his wrist before he gets the chance to unbutton them. “Ollie… Oliver, stop, stop .” His voice hitches as Oliver starts kissing down his neck. “I said stop!”
Oliver sits up at that, face flushes red and out of breath, and eyes glassy from unshed tears. “Why can’t I be good enough?”
Jess struggles to sit up the best he can with Oliver still in his lap, leaning back on his elbows for support. “What? Why would think that? Because I won’t have sex with you while you’re drunk in Kyle’s guest room?” Jess rubs his thumb on Oliver’s knee. “You’re drunk and clearly upset. Let’s go home and talk about this in the morning-”
“No!” Oliver jumps off him and starts to pace the room. “No, no, no, no, n-”
Jess jumps up after him. “Hey, calm down, just tell me what’s-” He reaches out to Oliver, but that only makes everything worse as Oliver pulls away again.
“No, stop! You don’t get to act like- like- like the nice guy after what you did!”
Jess groans, quickly losing his patience. “What the hell did I do?!” Oliver scoffs at that, making a move for his beer again. Jess cuts him off in time, blocking his way. “No way, I think you’ve had enough.”
“What-whatever,” Oliver sniffs, scrubbing his eyes. “There’s more downstairs, I don’t need that one or you.”
For a drunk, Oliver moves fast, darting out the door and down the stairs before Jess has the chance to stop him. With a curse, he follows after, skipping steps and catching up at the bottom of the staircase. Jess realizes how it looks, Oliver running out of the bedroom in tears with Jess chasing after him, but at the moment he couldn’t care less, all he wants is to get Oliver out of this party once and for all.
Grabbing his arm, Jess hisses so only the two of them can hear. “I’m serious, let’s go before you do something even more stupid.”
Oliver pushes him off, getting the attention of some of the partygoers nearby. “Don’t- don’t touch me! I don’t need your stupid advice!” A hush falls over the foyer as more people stop what they’re doing and watch. “I’ll take your advice as soon as you start following your own word!”
“Oh, for fucks- fine, you wanna do this now, you got your wish! What the hell’s the matter with you!”
Oliver chuckles dryly. “Oh, where to begin! How about how the guy that you’ve been in a fight with kisses you, and you don’t tell me a damn thing about it! I had to find out about it from him as he apologized to me for it! I stood there like a freakin’ idiot nodding along, having to piece it together myself because my own boyfriend didn’t tell me about it in the first place!”
“ That’s what this is about?! I’ve told you, I like you and only you-”
“I don’t care about that!” Oliver cuts him off. “What has me fucking pissed is that you kept it a secret! Again! You point blank told me you wouldn’t lie to me again, and yet here we are! And- and you know what! I know you didn’t get a black eye from practising baseball with Dean because he told me he’s not even playing this year, so that’s just another thing you flat out lied to me about!”
“I’m sorry! Is that what you want to hear? I apologize, my bad, I made a mistake! Want it in another language?! Lo siento-”
“Shut up!” Oliver screams, squeezing his eyes shut. “It’s not even just that! Everything is always about you, you, you! God, all the warnings I got were right! You are a selfish, self-centered, jerk! I wish I had never even met you!”
“Right back at you, pal!” They use this pause to catch their breath, both glaring at each other. Jess notices for the first time that the entire house is silent, everyone gathered around openly staring at the two as they fought. “Okay, shows over. I’m taking you home. Give me your keys.” Jess growls, holding out his hand, which Oliver slaps away.
“In case it wasn’t clear, I’m done with you!”
Jess closes his eyes and presses his lips together in frustration. “I’m not letting you drive like this, now give me your damn keys before I take them from you.”
Not waiting for any type of reaction, Jess goes for his keys, knowing what pocket Oliver always keeps them in. Oliver isn’t going to make this easy for him though as he fights back. “Screw you! Stop it!”
When that doesn’t get Jess to stop, Oliver makes a fist and starts hitting him. With how off his coordination is, the punches will probably barely leave bruises, but with the mixture of the smell of booze and a fist hitting him, something in Jess snaps, causing him to quit his search for Oliver’s keys. Instead he grabs both of his wrists in a tight grip. “Enough! You can scream and call me whatever names you want, but you will not hit me! Do you understand me?!” When Oliver only stares at him, he shakes his arms, tightening his grip even more. “I said, do you understand me!?”
Oliver nods with wide eyes, letting out a quiet ‘Yes’. All the fight seems to leave Oliver as he lets his arms drop after Jess releases him, not resisting Jess as he snatches his keys out of his pocket.
"Alright, let's go." Jess marches ahead, Oliver tailing behind him.
"Hey, um, Jess. Want me to follow behind and give you a ride back from Hartford?" Dean steps forward.
The last thing Jess wants is to be stuck in a car with someone, but he quickly remembers that the busses to Stars Hollow aren't running this late.
Huffing, Jess nods. "Sure, thanks."
The forty minute drive to Hartford is a long and tense one. Twenty miles into the thirty mile journey, Jess finally feels his temper drop from a blinding white rage to a more subdued anger. From the corner of his eye he notices Oliver rubbing his wrists, and when they pass under a streetlight he sees the beginnings of fresh bruises.
Jess sighs, regret pooling in his stomach for lashing out so harshly. He didn’t even realize what he was doing until it was too late. The only things registering for him were the smell of beer and a fist coming at him, and Luke’s talk with him the week before that he doesn’t deserve that.
“Listen, I’m so-” Jess starts to apologize.
“Don’t talk to me.” Oliver cuts him off, staring down at his lap.
“If you would just let me explain-”
“No! You don’t get to explain a thing. You lost that chance when you lied to me. I told you in January that I’m not going to be that person who comes running back after every apology.”
Jess grips the wheel tighter, focusing on the road ahead. “Yeah, well, you’re also the person who supposedly hates beer, and yet only one of us in this car is drunk off their ass from the stuff, and spoiler alert! It’s not me!”
Oliver scoffs. “Screw you!”
“Oh, great comeback! I’m so happy Chilton gave you this vast vocabulary to work with!”
“You’re such a jerk!”
Jess laughs. “There we go, keep it coming!”
“Yup, been called that a time or two in my life. Got anything else or are you tapping out?”
Oliver is silent for a minute, and Jess assumes that he’s reached his limit, until he starts up again. “At least my parents want me around and didn’t sign away their rights to some relative I only knew for a year.” By the look on Oliver’s face, even he didn’t mean to let that last part slip out. “I didn’t mean-”
“You know what? I think you had the right idea before. Don’t talk.”
The rest of the ride is completely silent until they finally reach their destination, Jess parking the car in the driveway. Dean stops out on the street, staying in the truck. Jess turns everything off and gets out in the time it takes Oliver to get his seatbelt off. Rolling his eyes, Jess comes over to the passenger side, opening the door and yanking Oliver out by the arm.
“I don’t need your help, I can walk just fine.” Oliver pulls his arm back, then proceeds to stumble toward the ground, Jess catching him in the nick of time.
“Uh huh. The picture of perfect balance.” Guiding him by the arm to the door, Jess rings the bell.
Oliver’s eyes go wide, as if just realizing where he is. “Don’t- don’t tell my dad.”
“Too late for that, Paris Hilton.”
Luther answers the door a second later, shock evident on his face. “What-”
“He’s your problem now. Here are his keys.” Jess first hands over Oliver, giving him a small push into the house, then drops the keys into Luther’s hand. “You got your wish, we are done.”
Oliver sways a little in place, before getting his footing and glaring holes into Jess, who’s trying to escape. “God, you’re such a jerk. I hate you, jerk! Jerk, jerk, jer-”
“Wait, are you drunk?” Luther looks between Oliver and Jess. “Did you get my son drunk, you-”
“Nope, he figured it out on his own. I just drove his ass home, which here he is, so my job is done. Have a nice rest of your lifes.” Not wanting to get sucked back in, Jess turns around, ignoring all of Luther’s protests, and jumps into the waiting truck. Dean looks like he wants to say something, but takes the hint and keeps his mouth shut, instead putting the truck in drive and not saying a word.
Lindsay didn’t want Dean to leave, but Jess is his friend and just went through a major breakup in front of most of the teenage population of Stars Hollow. At the very least he can give Jess a ride back from Hartford and save him the embarrassment of having to call Luke or Lorelai for a ride.
When they get to Oliver’s, Jess sends him a grateful look for staying in the truck before helping Oliver to the door, holding him steady as they wait for someone to answer. Dean has never seen or met Luther, only knows him from the descriptions Oliver and Jess gave him, but now he sees that they were holding back. If he thought Richard was stern, Luther blows him out of the water. The glare alone he sends Jess as they talk would have been enough to send him running long ago.
Jess throws his hands up, yelling something, then stomps to his truck, slamming the door shut after he gets in. All of Dean’s instincts are screaming at him to make sure Jess is okay, but by the intense look Jess has on his face, he thinks better of it and instead shifts gears into drive, starting the long drive back to Stars Hollow.
Glancing over subtly from time to time, Dean is shocked at how well Jess is talking this. He’s like a statue, just sitting there staring straight ahead, no sign on his face that he just broke up with someone he really cared about only an hour ago. In fact, he’s almost too still. Dean’s only known him for a short time, but during that time he’s picked up on a lot of his habits, and the one that always stood out to him was his complete lack at being able to sit still for any length of time.
At school he’s always tapping his pencil to a beat from a song, drawing in a notebook, or playing hangman with Lane. When he reads he jiggles his leg or bobs his head to music. Worst of all is in the car, that’s when he fiddles with the radio or goes through the glove box and his CD collection. Dean even had to make sure not to leave any mail in the car or Jess would start going through that too!
(“That’s a federal offence, man! Cut it out!” Dean had complained, grabbing for the mail. Jess pulled it out of his reach, tisking.
“Nope, it’s only illegal if I had opened it. All I did was unfold the letter. Wow, is that what you’re paying for insurance? You’re getting ripped off.”
Dean scoffed. “You have a really loose gasp on the law.”)
Now Dean is wishing he had mail for Jess to go through, because he would take Jess going through his mail over this lifeless version of him any day.
“Do you want any music? I’ve added more CDs since your last critique of my collection.” Dean breaks the silence as they pass the ‘Welcome to Stars Hollow’ sign.
“Don’t.” Jess’ voice cracks. “Stop trying to help. What’s done is done, just let me wallow in peace. It’s taking everything I have not to start falling apart on you here.”
“So don’t. No one is expecting you to hold it together. After Rory and I broke up, I was a mess.”
Jess lets out a wet laugh. “What? You think I should cry on your shoulder? We’ll hug it out until everything is all better? What a joke.”
Dean frowns. “No. But I have a better idea that might be a bit more up your alley. Do you think Luke will mind if you get home a little late?” Jess shakes his head, his face shifting from indifference to confusion for the first time. “Great, I think you’ll enjoy this.”
Jess can admit, he’s curious to see what Dean has planned. They drive straight through Stars Hollow, then about ten more minutes until they reach a dirt road where Dean turns down until they stop at a chainlink fence. Leaving the truck running, Dean hops out and unlocks a gate, pushes it open, then drives through. Looking around, all Jess sees is old rusted out cars.
Dean stops for good now, turning the engine off, but leaving the lights shining on a familiar car. His old car to be exact. Before Jess can ask what the hell is going on, Dean jumps out of the truck, this time waving for Jess to get out too.
“After Gypsy got what little could be salvaged from the car, she had me drop it off here.” Dean calls out as he digs for something behind his seat. “I forgot to give her back the key for this place, but now I’m glad I didn’t.” Dean finds what he was looking for and pulls out a crowbar. Shutting his door, he joins Jess’ side. “Listen, after Rory and I broke up, I went to a thrift store and bought a ton of cheap plates, then took them to a parking lot where I smashed every single one of them until I felt better. Now, there aren’t any thrift stores open at this time of night, but I figured this is the next best thing. Have at it.”
Jess blinks at the crowbar as Dean holds it out to him. “You think me causing senseless violence against my old car is going to make everything better?”
“No, but I know you’ll feel a helluva lot better for the moment.”
Jess thinks it over. It wasn’t exactly a top notch argument in favor of wailing on a car, but what does he have to lose? “Sure, what the hell.”
Taking the crowbar, he aims at the side mirror on the drivers side that he had to duct tape in place after it fell off. Taking a deep breath, he slams the crowbar down, the mirror coming off easily and shattering.
Huh. That actually did feel kind of good.
Swinging at the windshield this time, he watches as the glass splinters, then shatters completely with the second swing. Quickly getting the hang of it, he continues until his arms are sore and his throat feels like sandpaper. Without realizing it, he had began screaming with every swing. His vision blurs as tears build up in his eyes, making it impossible to see. After the third swing and not hitting anything, he drops the crowbar to the ground and falls to his knees, glass cutting him.
Dean jumps in now, pulling him back from under the arms. He leans him up against some car, disappears for a moment, then reappears just as quickly. By now Jess’ vision has cleared, and he watches in fascination as Dean puts a lit flashlight in his mouth and rolls up Jess’ jeans to the knees. Pouring peroxide on a cotton ball from a first aid kit next to Dean, Jess hisses as Dean cleans the wounds, trying to jerk back.
“Sorry.” Dean says with the flashlight still between his teeth. He finishes quickly, putting bandaids on each of his knees and taking the flashlight out of his mouth. “At least you didn’t get any glass stuck. That would have made this whole process a hundred times worse.” Setting the flashlight down, he crawls over to sit next to Jess. “So, feel better?”
His arms and knees hurt, he reeks of sweat, and his face is sticky with tears, but surprising yeah, he does feel better. “Tonight is the worst night I’ve ever had in my life. I feel like crawling into a dark hole and never coming out again.” Jess pauses. “But you’ve somehow managed to make me feel marginally better, all things considered. Thanks.”
“No problem. I’ll tell Gypsy that I ‘lost’ these keys. If you ever need to do this again, just give me a call.”
Jess nods, staring at his old car. Dean doesn’t say anything more, but also doesn’t rush him. He just lets him sit in silence for now.
“Oliver hated that car.” Jess says, breaking the silence after five minutes. “But even though he hated it, he knew how much I loved it and how upset I was that it stopped working. He unscrewed the license plate and gave it to me, said, ‘There. Now you’ll always have a piece of your first car.’.” Jess has to stop as he feels tears start to threaten to fall again, so Dean rubs his shoulder. “He was so worried I wouldn’t like his idea, all over a piece of crap car that he hated. That was the moment for me. Right then I knew I was falling in love with him, and now it’s all over.” Jess sucks in a breath, scrubbing his eyes. “God, what is wrong with me? I’ve never cried over someone like this before and now I can’t stop! I want to hate him so bad, and I should after all the shit he said to me, but-”
“You can’t.” Dean speaks up for the first time. “You have every right to hate the other person, think it will somehow distant you from them and make you feel better, but you just can’t.”
Jess scoffs. “We must look pitiful, sitting in a junkyard crying over our exes.”
Dean chuckles. “You’re the only one crying here, I just cleaned your scraped knees.”
Jess feels his face heat up at the reminder, using one hand to wipe the rest of the tears on his face while the other punches Dean on the arm. “Shut up, I just went through a dramatic breakup, give me a break.” He unravels the jeans back down, revealing tears in both knees. “Damn, these were my only ‘nice’ jeans left that fit me and didn’t have holes in them. Luke’s gonna be pissed I ruined them. Maybe if I start crying in front of him he’ll let me off the hook, he never knows what to do when someone starts crying in front of him.”
“Speaking of Luke,” Dean stands, brushing the dirt off his hands and pants. “I should get you back before it gets too late and he sends out a search party for you. I heard last time Lorelai took you somewhere without getting his permission he accused her of kidnapping. I don’t think future employers look too kindly on that kind of thing.”
He holds out a hand, helping Jess to his feet. One minute Jess is on the ground and the next he’s up on his feet with his arms wrapped around him in a hug. Before Dean has a chance to react, Jess pulls back and gives him a small shove, pointing at him with embarrassment clear on his face. “You tell anyone about that, and take that car as an example for what I’ll do to you, got it?”
Dean chuckles, holding his hands up. "My lips are sealed." He pats him on the back as he passes, going over to grab his crowbar from where Jess had dropped it. Glancing at the car, he does a double take, reaching in through the broken window to grab something.
“What are you doing?” Jess asks as he puts the flashlight and first aid kit back in the truck.
Dean walks over, handing him a cassette tape. “Souvenir.”
Turning over the tape, Jess’ jaw drops. “How? I did everything under the sun trying to get this stupid tape out of the tapedeck.”
Dean shrugs, putting his crowbar in the bed of his truck. “Apparently not everything. It seems all it took was a crowbar to the car.”
Jess shakes his head in disbelief. “You have no idea how much I hate this song.”
Dean smirks. “You want to listen to it on the way home, don’t you?”
“Oh, so much.”
Dean rolls his eyes, not fighting it as Jess puts the tape in and lets it play all the way through. “Thank you.” Jess speaks up as it’s rewinding.
“I don’t mind. I actually kind of like this song.”
The tape reaches the beginning again and starts playing. Jess turns it down so they can talk over it. “I, uh, wasn’t talking about the song.”
Jess’ head shoots up, studying Dean as he continues to look forward. Not feeling the need to talk anymore, Jess leans his head against the glass, shutting his eyes.