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[personal profile] isthisthelasttime
This was the most heartbreaking fic to abandon. I've put so much stock into this fic since its beginning in 2006. But it's time to get rid of it. It was my baby for the longest time, which is the worst part. I hope you like this one.

Working Title: Lips Of An Angel
Author: learnthemusic
Rating: PG-13
Characters/Pairings: Rory/Jess, Lorelai
Disclaimer: Don’t own. Never have, never will. I would be honored to, though.
Summary: “Everyone’s concerned. And I’m sick of it. Just stop being concerned and leave me the hell alone.” Post-series. Incomplete.

A/N: It’s about time I gave up on this one. I started this in August 2006, so you can only imagine. If you want any clarifications, please don’t hesitate to ask. I still have the story somewhat outlined in my head and I can give you all my plans. Sorry for any mistakes.

“Why didn’t you tell me before?” It weakens you to listen to the softness in his voice and reassures you when you feel the hint of anger behind it. He’s sitting across the room at the kitchen table, his head resting on his forearms, which are folded on the tabletop. This is the first thing he’s said since you dropped the bomb on him twenty minutes ago. 

The knot in your throat worsens and you waver, not expecting the predictable question. But everyone says the same thing and you’re confused as to why you let that hit you so horribly despite all the previous practice. You attempt to swallow past the godforsaken bulge and find yourself choking slightly. His head pops up, fretful, but you wave him off as tears continue to accumulate behind your eyes.

Finally, you settle your nerves and take a seat on the recycled couch in the small living room. And you love how simply can he live (he would never be able to live in that lavish apartment you shared with your ex-boyfriend). You inhale a shuddering breath before looking over to his lowered head and trying to meet his eyes. He refuses and you refocus your attention on the high coffee table before you. 

“I—I—I—”

“You what?” he snaps, his body straightening at the table and you close your eyes, startled. 

“I’m sorry,” you whisper and keep your eyes directed at the coffee table. “I just… We’re finally right, you know? I didn’t want us to end now. It took us so long to get here and I knew this was going to ruin it and every guy I’ve dated usually dumps me when I tell him. But you’ve lasted the longest. I usually tell the guys after a month and they dump me either because they felt I betrayed them or they don’t want to deal with it. And I’m so, so sorry.”

The tears surmount you now and you try to push your way through them. “I’d much rather shoot myself in the head then die while I’m still with you.” The last two syllables end in a high-pitched tone as sobs wrack through your body and you begin to shake. “I’m so, so sorry,” you manage to choke out one last time. Your body hunches over and you rest your arms on your knees and your forehead on your arms. 

“You shouldn’t have assumed that,” he whispers from across the room. You lift your head momentarily, nodding in agreement, before muffled tears prevail your body once again.

You don’t even notice when the cushion next to you sinks, let alone when he scoops you into his arms and your face is smashed into his chest, his arms encircling your shoulders. 

“I’m so, so sorry,” you sob into his chest. And you know this is the worst feeling you’ve ever felt in your life.

--- 

It takes an hour before you can calm down and you haven’t made a sound since. He’s sitting on the coffee table in front of you and you know he wants you to say something but you don’t know where to start.

“I should go,” is one beginning but what if he wants you to stay? What if he doesn’t care about it? What if he just wants to be with you through this? 

Well, you’re just not ready to be undertaken yet. Rejection has become vital to your well-being and you don’t know how you’d react to the first acceptance you’d receive since your family found out four years ago.

A gentle touch shatters your reverie and you find yourself being forced to look into his deep hazel-brown eyes. The tears threaten again as you prepare yourself for his answer and you try to swallow past the reemerging lump in your throat. 

“I’m not always a jerk,” he whispers gently as he presses his forehead to yours. Those annoying tears fall and you shake your head, refusing to believe him.

“You don’t want to—” but he cuts you off before you have the chance of finishing as he cradles your face with both his hands and wipes your tears away gently with the pads of his thumbs. 

“Don’t tell me what I want,” he whispers and leans forward to kiss you sweetly. You’re so astonished you can’t think or respond and you just shake your head as best as you can.

He’s going to regret it and you know it.

---- 

It’s a warm mid-July night as you step out of the elevator, trembling. You wish you hadn’t left that sweater on your bed at home and you scold yourself.

You approach the door to his apartment and lift your jittering right hand to knock on the wooden door. As you wait, you rub your hands up and down your arms. 

You’ve knocked three times now and are becoming impatient. Your body is still rickety, your teeth are chattering and you seek the warmth of his apartment.

The door swings open just as you are about to knock once again and he ushers you inside. Just as he’s leaning down to kiss you, he notices your shivering form and he wraps an arm around your shoulders, leading you towards the black leather couch the both of you picked out two months ago. 

He pulls your fleece blanket off the head of the couch as you take a seat. You wrap the blanket tightly around your form and he leans down to kiss your forehead lightly.

“I’ll be right back,” he announces as he disappears into the hallway leading to two rooms and a bathroom.

You are still rubbing your hands up and down your arms when he reappears in front of you, a bottle of Tylenol and a digital thermometer in hand. 

“Here,” he says as you open your mouth to welcome the unwanted thermometer. He seems impatient while you wait for the device to beep. When it finally does, he takes it out of your mouth gently, shaking his head and frowning as he reads the digital numbers.

You’re still shuddering as he crosses the living room toward the kitchen. 

“Let me get you some water,” he mutters. You nod and inhale rapidly, trying to satisfy the need of air in your lungs. He comes back with a glass of water and hands it to you, unscrewing the bottle of Tylenol as you take the water. You unearth your left hand and wait for him to deposit two caplets in your palm before dumping the pills in your mouth and swallowing them with the water.

He takes the empty cup from you and places it on the coffee table then sits down, draping an arm around your shoulders and hugging you to him. You try to take in the scent of him but your lack of oxygen prevents you. 

“Third fever in a week,” he notes, trying to make a point. And you understand. Of course you understand; it is your problem. So you just nod, not wanting to argue.

“I know,” you whisper breathlessly. Tears of frustration fill your eyes and you want the pain to end. You feel your lungs contract and you sit up straight and bend over, coughing as you try to catch your breath. A fist pounds lightly on your back and it helps tremendously. He pulls you into his body again and you let your head loll back against his broad shoulder. 

“You okay?” he whispers into your ear worriedly. You nod, still catching your breath. “Good.” He presses a kiss to your temple and you hum in return.

It’s silent for a few minutes as another chill rocks your body. Finally, he says firmly, “You need to see a doctor.” You shake your head vigorously. There was no way you would do that. 

“No,” you whisper.

“You should,” he counters. 

“I’m not going to,” you reiterate.

“You have to find out what’s going on!” he pleads, standing up in front of her. You continue to shake your head as he drones on. “What if this is just the beginning? You won’t know how to deal with it. You have to find out what’s going on.” 

“You think I don’t know what’s going on?” you say in a soft voice, standing up and letting the blanket drop onto the couch.

“I don’t,” he confirms and you look at him incredulously. 

You close your eyes for a moment of consideration before pushing past him, your breath hitching in your throat. He makes no move to follow you as you pull open the front door and walk out to the hallway. The door shuts slowly behind you and you make your way to the elevator, pressing the down button repeatedly.

It’s getting harder to breathe while the elevator takes its slow time to reach this floor. All you can think about is the disbelieving look you saw on his face. The picture is burned into your mind’s eye. You attempt breathing deeply but it does not help in the very least. 

A shrill beep shakes you out of your thoughts as the elevator doors slide open. Stepping inside and pressing the button for the lobby, you hear the sudden opening of a door.

Frantically, you push the button with the two arrows pointing at each other, the one that signals for the doors to close. However, an arm stops the action of the elevator and you inhale deeply, preparing yourself for the confrontation. 

“I didn’t mean that,” he says, his breath ever so slightly labored, making him seem even more perfect in more ways than one (though if you ever caught yourself assuming that long ago you would’ve drowned yourself in a lake). Your eyes close for a moment and you wish he’d disappear. “I’m just concerned.”

Your eyes fly open and you throw an icy stare his way. “Everyone’s concerned.” You spit the last word out with venom you didn’t know you possessed while looking at him incredulously. “And I’m sick of it,” you continue. “Just stop being concerned and leave me the hell alone,” you whisper the last six syllables and push him out of the elevator, pressing the ‘close’ button. 

“Rory,” you hear him coax as he stares at you pleadingly.

“Don’t,” you murmur, shaking your head, your eyes brimming with tears. He leans his head to the side, confused. “This hurts enough without you around. You’re making it worse.” 

The doors seal and you sigh, tears tipping over.

And you can’t seem to figure out what this is going to lead to. 

(Or you just don’t want to.)

--- 

The shrill ring of the phone greets you as you unlock the door to your apartment. You shut the door hurriedly. Dumping the keys on the end table near your coat rack, you rush to pick up the receiver.

“Hello?” you answer breathlessly, attempting to conceal the fact that you have been crying. 

“Rory—” The click of the ‘end’ button resonates in your ear as you set the phone in its base.

It had been difficult to turn your cell phone off when he had called during the drive away from his apartment building. But his concern for your health (along with everyone else’s) is wearing on your nerves. And you don’t want to take it anymore. The relationship should have finished months ago (two, to be exact). 

He is just so enticing and semi-understanding that he makes it impossible for you to resist him.

You turn back toward the door, remembering to lock it before enclosing yourself in the master bedroom of your renovated townhouse. 

Tears restart their journey down your face as you lay under the covers of your bed. Your second home phone is sitting on your nightstand and its strident ring riles you. You want to throw the receiver against the wall as the ringing ends. Instead, you pick it up and dial.

“Hello?” is the ever-happy answer. A deep inhale is heard on your side of the conversation (that has not begun). 

“Hey Mom,” you whisper tearfully. You know her eyes are widening on the other end. Neither of you have talked to each other since you started seeing your boyfriend.

“Rory, how are you?” “How are you?” you wonder. Is that all she has to say? 

“Not so good,” you answer ruefully. “We fought, it didn’t go too well.”

“You mean—” 

“Yeah,” you cut her off, not wanting to hear his name at the moment. You know what’s coming.

“You two are still together?” Yep, exactly what you were thinking. 

“I don’t know if we are now, but yeah. We have been. Why wouldn’t we be?” And all of this comes out so calmly it surprises you. The last conversation you had with your mother ended in a screaming match about how he’d treated you long ago and how he’d leave you once he found out. She never was optimistic when it came to your relationships.

“I just thought he’d leave you once he found out,” she says, disbelieving. 

“Well, you were wrong,” you snap, the calmness you felt at the start of the conversation evading you entirely. “He’s different, Mom. You have got to believe that.”

“Then why did you guys fight?” 

“He wants me to go to the doctor, but I won’t. What’s the point of going? I already know what she’s going to tell me. So I left, he had nothing to do with me leaving. I’m just sick of people being concerned for me,” you put emphasis on ‘concerned’.

“Still seems like a jerk,” your mother says under her breath. You sniffle but nod. 

“He can be,” you whisper, wiping tears from your eyes.

“Are you okay?” she asks, breaking a slightly uncomfortable silence. 

“No,” you reply tearfully. A tear leaks out the corner of your eye and you raise a hand to smear across your face.

“Do you want me to come?” It doesn’t take a lot of mulling over before you answer. 

“Yes.”

“Okay, I’ll be there as soon as I can.” You nod but before you hang up you plead for her to stay on the line. 

“He won’t stop calling, and I don’t want to talk to him and I’d totally appreciate it if you stayed on the phone—”

“Save your breath, sweets. I’ll stay on the phone. I just have to call you back on my cell before I leave, okay?” You nod, forgetting she can’t see you. 

“Okay,” you whisper, settling the phone in between your shoulder and your ear as you turn over on your side, staring at the wall. “Can you stay over for a few days?” She hums on the other end and you can hear a door open. Yep, she’s going to stay.

“Well, I can try,” she says mock-reluctantly. This brings a smile to your face, as you realize not everything has to change. “If you really want me to.” 

“I really want you to,” you put emphasis on ‘really’, nodding your head vigorously.

“Really, really?” A zipper zips in your ear. 

“Really, really,” is your answer. You sniffle and close your eyes.

“Fine,” she drags out the syllable. “Hey, hon?” 

“Yeah?” you say groggily.

“Let me call you back on my cell, I’m almost out the door.” 

“Okay.”

“Talk to you in a minute.” Your thumb presses the ‘end’ button and you wait for the phone to ring again. Almost as if she read your mind, y press the ‘talk’ button when the phone resounds in your ear.

“Hey.” 

“Don’t hang up.” You inhale deeply and shut your eyes. Just let him say what he has to say, you tell yourself.

But you do just as he told you not to and the phone chimes almost immediately. Hesitantly, you depress the ‘talk’ button. 

“Mom?”

“The phone was busy.” A sigh of relief escapes your lips. 

“He called.”

“Oh. Well, I’m almost out of the Hollow. I’m passing the Diner now.” You nod. 

“Have you talked to Luke?”

“No,” she answers quickly. “We haven’t talked in a long time. Not since you came up here in December.” 

“I’m sorry,” you tell her sympathetically. You knew the diner owner and your mother were meant for each other the moment they met. However, since the disastrous ultimatum your mother offered him four years ago, the two became estranged.

“It’s not your fault.” A sniffle scrunches up your nose and you reach over to the lamp on your nightstand to turn it off. 

“You should put your phone on speaker. You don’t want to get a ticket for talking on your phone while driving.”

“Toy PWD!” A smile comes to your face. 

“Are you trying to abbreviate that in semblance to DUI?”

“Gee, I wonder how you knew.” 

“Well, I’d tell you if you put me on speaker,” you urge. A click sounds in your ear and you can hear the usual sounds of the road.

“Fine,” she drags the syllable into two words. “Happy?” A yawn escapes your mouth and you try to muffle it by keeping your lips closed. “Tired?” 

“Mmhmm.” Your eyes fall shut and you snuggle further into your blankets.

“Go to sleep, then. I’ll just listen to music softly, ’kay?” 

“Yeah,” you say in the midst of another yawn. “Did I give you a key?”

“Yes, you did. Now go to sleep.” 

---

“Rory!” You jump at the sound of a scream in your ear. 

“What?” you say groggily. You rub your eyes with the heel of your left hand.

“I’m here.” 

“Who?”

“Hon, your mother.” 

“Oh!” You sit up quickly and rub the side of your face. “Sorry, I forgot.”

“I know. You fell asleep. It happens. I’m coming up the front steps, Sweets.” You jump out of your bed and run toward the front door, unlocking it and swinging it open. The phone falls to the floor as you rush at your mother, hugging her unyieldingly. Tears leak out of your eyes and you kiss her cheek as she pulls back slightly to look at you. 

“I missed you so much,” you cry, burying your face into her shoulder as you pull her toward you.

“Me too, Sweetie.” The embrace lasts for another minute before your mother suggests going inside the house. “Tell me everything,” she orders softly. 

And you realize ‘everything’ is too much and the situation makes it worse.

---- 

“You’ll call me, right?” You find yourself standing by your mother’s Jeep as she loads her lonely bag into the back of the car.

“Do you have to go?” is the whine that escapes your mouth. Your mom looks at you with sympathetic features and you wish you could wipe that off her face. No sympathy (or pity) is needed. 

“It’s Saturday, Hon. I’ve been here since Wednesday night. The Inn is calling my name. I miss it, I miss Sookie’s crazy antics.” Your face falls and she comes over to envelope you in her arms, kissing your cheek. “You have to call me and tell me how you are in a few days.”

“I’m fine,” you mutter, returning the hug. 

“You have a fever and a cold. That is not fine.” You sigh and pull away. Your mother pouts.

“I’ll call,” you relent. “But I won’t be happy about it. I’m just going to reprimand you for leaving.” A smile graces your mother’s features. 

“I love you, kid. But my Inn misses me and your Philadelphia Inquirer should be missing you. We know this town has to learn about things other than the local goings on. You know how much you love world news.”

“And you’re saying this about Philadelphia? What about Stars Hollow?” You set your jaw as you await her answer. She seems to consider the question for a while. 

“That’s another question for another day.” You send a glare her way. “Promise you’ll call.”

Heaving a sigh, you nod, extending your right pinkie. Your mother links it with hers. “I promise,” you put emphasis on the last word, not knowing if you’ll adhere to your vow. 

Your mother pouts slightly before pulling you into a hug and you let yourself hold on a little while longer.

“I’m gonna miss ya, kid.” 

You will never really let that imply as much as it should.

---- 

Your fingers are trembling, a week and four days later, as they push the soft buttons. The number is still fresh in your memory, as if you’d only called a few minutes ago. But you know that’s not true. That’s as misleading as Santa Clause in your book.

However, you’re still reluctant in dialing, despite the tears rushing down your face and the irregular beat of your heart. You know it’s not your fault. You just have trouble convincing yourself of the authenticity in that last statement. 

Finally, you’re pressing the phone to your ear and the ever-annoying ring of the phone is drowned out for the first time in your entire life. All you can think about is what is to come, something that you would much rather evade than confront. It really isn’t your fault that you were born a coward.

A dodger. 

“Hello?” This answer jolts you out of your distracting thoughts and you attempt to focus on the task at hand.

“Uh…” you drift off, knowing this was a mistake. He probably doesn’t care. 

“Who is this?” Has he really forgotten so quickly?

“It’s me,” you whisper, regaining your confidence. 

“Rory,” he sighs, your name rolling off his tongue smoothly.

“Hi,” you murmur tearfully, tears continuing to glide down your cheeks. 

“What’s going on?” he asks concernedly and just because you’re in a funk does not mean concern will avoid you. “Are you okay?”

“Nah—not really.” You sniffle before commencing. “I was, uh, wondering if you would care.” 

“About what?” However, you answer in sobs and quickly end the call as you slide down the wall of your bathroom, dumping your head into your raised knees.

--- 

“Rory, please open up.” He’s been in front of your bathroom for what seems like ages. However, after saying something for the first time in an hour, you jump, tears flying around. You’re just trying to ignore him and dwell in yourself. He’s preventing that.

“Go home,” you cry, sprawling your legs out before you as you wipe your most recent tears from your face. “Please.” 

“Not until you tell me what’s wrong. I’ll wait all night until you do.”

And the worst thing about it? You know he will. 

---

His face is peaceful; his five o’clock shadow is noticeable with the faint light emitting from the bathroom and his eyes are twitching beneath his eyelids. Watching him for the last two minutes is the only thing keeping you from bursting into tears again. 

You really have missed him.

Deciding to talk, you crawl out of the bathroom to his form, lying against the wall. Slipping your body underneath his limp left arm, you rest your head against his warm shirtfront and place your right hand over the buttons of it. 

It surprises you to find he hasn’t startled and you can’t help but tear up once more.

Your sobs seemed to have woken him, for he’s pulled you onto his lap and you’re sobbing into his neck, balling his nice dress shirt in your fists. One of his hands is busy combing through your unkempt hair while the other rubs your back. 

It’s the most peace you’ve felt the entire day.

--- 

The hall is dark, your neck hurts and you’re comfortably pressed into your ex-boyfriend’s chest. The faint scent of fabric softener infuses your nostrils and you almost forget that a thin sheet of tears cried hours ago adorns your cheeks. Almost.

It is enough, that thought, to work you up again and you try to suppress the waterworks unsuccessfully. Your body convulses as you sob into his damp chest. Your fingers claw at his sides and you can feel your saliva seeping into his shirt. 

Surely he’s saying something as his arms envelope you but you can’t hear it. It’s a new trait you acquired since you hung up on him yesterday morning; selective hearing.

Sobs intensify as he tries to smother you in his hold and you remember the only other time he ever did hold you. Two months, one week and two days ago to date.

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March 2011

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