AN: Happy Birthday, Gilmore! Two years ago today, fifteen years after Gilmore Girls first aired I posted my one shot, Fifteen Years Gone. Now, with this chapter we get a little bit closer to where that scene takes place! I will be leaving on vacation on Sunday and will be gone for twelve days. My vacation is a big part of my lack of updating as I've been working a lot to make up for the time I'll be off (pto only goes so far) and saving for the trip itself. I've also been spending a lot of time planning and researching, but now finally it's almost here. Sunday afternoon, I am getting in a car with my best friend and we are road tripping to Wilmington, NC! If you're a One Tree Hill fan like me, you know how excited I am for this! I've never been and I haven't been on a vacation in fifteen years so I'm looking forward to this trip! Enjoy the chapter, everyone! I hope to have a new one for you when I get back. Happy reading!

Chapter 27: "He's so precious like this. I could watch him sleep forever."

A couple weeks after Mother's Day, the Mariano's were in Stars Hollow for the town's Memorial Day celebration. They had a big barbecue with tons of food provided potluck style by nearly everyone in town. They had a bunch of games and activities for the kids. Richie was in love with the bounce house. He couldn't quite keep his footing in it like the older kids who had been walking longer, but he loved crawling around it as it bounced while everyone else jumped. They also had water balloons for the kiss to toss and throw. The Memorial Day celebration was also another time for the town reenactors to get together and honor the town's history, as well as pay tribute to the fallen soldiers. Richie loved all the new food he had been able to try, especially the red, white, and blue popsicles that Sookie had made. His favorite part of Memorial Day turned out to be the water balloons. He couldn't throw them like he had seen his Uncle Hunter and other kids doing, but he loved watching them break as he dropped them at his feet, splashing in the water each time as it puddled beneath him, giggling with each one.

"Bue, Bue," Richie said looking up at the television screen as he played with his blocks.

"Is he okay? Did he hurt himself?" Louise asked. She was making a couple things Rory wanted for Richie for his first birthday so she had dropped by, "He's saying boo boo."

"He's fine. He's actually trying to say blue," Rory told her, pointing to the screen, "Grover is his favorite."

"And he can't say his name so he calls him by his caller. Okay," Louise said, "Explains the theme of the party."

"Yep, little man loves his Sesame Street, especially Grover," Rory said, "He picked it up from Hunter. Hunter loves the show and Richie came back from a visit once chanting 'Bue Bue' over and over. Like you, Jess and I assumed he had hurt himself and began frantically searching him for injuries and called Mom to make sure nothing had happened. She heard him in the background and told us about his new love for the little blue Muppet."

"He hadn't seen any Sesame Street before? I think I watched it a lot as a kid," Louise said.

"Neither Jess or I were into it as kids. I watched old reruns of shows my Mom loved and Jess' Mom couldn't afford a television until he was older," Rory said, "We both saw it a few times when we were younger, but just never really took a big liking to it."

"You think he's excited for his big first birthday party?" Louise asked.

"I'm not sure he even realizes it's coming up. He loved looking at all the decorations when we went to the party store," Rory said, "But, he was just excited seeing all the characters."

"Are you excited?" Louise asked.

"I'm more sad, actually," Rory told her, "It will be exciting to see his face light up as he's opening his presents and everything, but it's hard watching him grow up. He's not so much my little boy anymore."

"He's still a little boy, Rory," Louise said.

"Yeah, but not little enough to hold in my arms," she told her, "Before long he'll be too big to even sit in my lap."

"I think you have a while before that yet," Louise said, smiling as Richie put down his toys and crawled into Rory's lap, grabbing at her shirt, "Looks like that's my cue."

"You can stay if you want. He won't nurse long. Just long enough to fall asleep," Rory told her, draped a blanket across her chest, "After I put him down we can watch a movie or plan out more designs or something if you want."

"Sure. Why don't I run down to the corner and get us a cup of coffee," Louise said.

"Sounds good," Rory said.

"Rory?" Jess said, his voice tinged with sleep as he rolled over in bed, feeling the empty spot next to him before sitting up and noticing a bit of light coming from Richie's room, "Rory, is he alright?"

"He's fine," Rory whispered, holding their little boy against her chest, running her fingers through his fine, dark hair. It had been lighter when he was born, but was now darkening to be more like Jess' hair, "I just wanted to hold him."

"It's just after midnight," Jess said, kneeling down beside her as she sat in the rocking chair, glancing at the clock on the wall, "Our little man is officially one year's old."

"Not quite officially yet. We've got a few more hours for that," Rory said.

"You're not going to wake him to tell him that are you?' Jess asked, "I know that's what Lorelai does for yours, but did she really do it when you were this young?"

"She said she did, not that I'd remember. I'm not going to wake him, but I'd like to think he knows I'm holding him and when he's older I can tell him what we did during his early birthdays," Rory said, tears beginning to fall "I can't believe it's been a year already. It went by so fast."

"Hey, what's with the tears?" Jess asked.

"He just grew up faster than I wanted him to," Rory said.

"He's not going off to college, Ror," Jess said, "He's still got a lot of growing up to do. We've got plenty of time for him to be a little boy still. And it's not like he's the only baby will have."

"I know, but he's our first. I know he can't stay little forever and we've still got a lot of years ahead of us before he gets too cool to spend time with his parents, but I still wish we could keep him little forever," Rory said, "He's so precious like this. I could watch him sleep forever."

"Me too. I could watch both of you actually," Jess said.

"Sometimes you do," Rory said.

"How do you know that?" Jess asked.

"I'm not always asleep when you're laying there watching me. I can feel your eyes on me," Rory told him, smiling as she lay a hand on his cheek, "I watch you sometimes, too."

"I love you, you know," he said, turning his head to kiss her palm.

"You're pretty alright, yourself," Rory told him.

"What do you say we get him back into bed and you and I lay down and watch each other not sleep," Jess said.

"Sounds like a plan," Rory said, handing Richie to Jess so he could lay him back in his crib, taking Jess' hand in hers as they walked together back to their room.

"This looks great, Mom," Rory said with a yawn as they walked into Miss Patty's where they were having Richie's birthday party, "Sorry, I didn't sleep much last night."

"Everything okay, hun?" Lorelai asked.

"Yeah, I just stayed up for awhile watching him sleep," Rory said, watching her little boy running around with his Uncle Hunter, "He grew up fast."

"They all do," Lorelai said, "It seems like you went from a newborn to school age to a new mother yourself all in the blink of an eye."

"Does it get easier watching your children grow up and become more independent?" Rory asked, "We weaned him off the breast completely when he stopped crawling into my lap and just fell asleep wherever he was. And a couple weeks ago he started insisting on feeding himself. He actually took his spoon right out of my hand."

"Easier? Not entirely. You just learn to accept that you've done your job and now you kid can do things on their own," Lorelai said, "They won't always need you, but if you do your job right, they'll know they can always come to you if they do."

"You did your job the best, Mom," Rory said, giving her a hug, "You still do."

"Thanks, kid," Lorelai said, "Now let's go grab the boys before they're too tired for the party."

As his family and all their friends in town entered Miss Patty's wishing Richie a 'Happy Birthday' as they saw him, the little boy squealed in delight as the attention on him grew. While all the adults mingled about, Richie continued to play with Hunter and Doula who had joined them, loving to play with her little cousin and nephew. Lane's boys, Kwan and Steve and Sookie's kids all played together close by, joining in when Richie or Hunter would hand them a toy.

"With as shy as you were a kid and as monosyllabic as Jess usually is I can't believe how much of a ham that boy of yours is," Lorelai said.

"I know. He loves being the center of attention," Rory said, taking a seat next to Lorelai as they watched Richie dance around to the music Hep Alien was playing. Every time he stomped his feet or clapped his hands everyone around him would cheer, shouting his name at him causing him to giggle, "If he didn't come out of me, I'd swear he wasn't mine. I'm glad he loves being around everyone."

"It will be good in a few years when he stars school," Lorelai told her, "You were so nervous your first day until Lane came up to you."

"Yeah. I don't see Richie having any trouble making friends. We'll probably have to pry him away from them," Rory said, watching her son and her little brother deep in thought as they planned out their next game, "I love how close they are. It's so sweet."

"It's a good sign of what's to come in the future when you and Jess have another one," Lorelai said.

"Yeah, true. And he gets along well with Doula so if we have a girl it should be okay, too," Rory said.

"I have no doubt that Richie would love a brother or a sister," Lorelai said.

"Well, we've got time still for that," Rory said, "I'm still on birth control for now."

"For now? Are you planning on changing that anytime soon?" Lorelai asked.

"We've talked about it more now that Richie is a little older. We don't want to big of an age gap, but we wanted to wait at least until Richie turned one," Rory said, "Guess we'll discuss it more now and decide if we're ready."

"Hopefully you have a little Lorelai this time," Lorelai said.

"Gotta keep with tradition, huh," Rory said.

"Of course, you need to have someone to pass the cape on to after I bequeath it to you," Lorelai said.

"How could one kid possibly play with all these toys?" Jess asked, setting the last of the gifts Richie had received into the spare room they had turned into a playroom for Richie, "Did everyone we've ever met buy our kid a present?"

"I think he got at least one thing from every citizen in Stars Hollow," Rory said as she walked towards their room to lay a sleeping Richie in his crib. All the fun at the party had knocked him out on the ride home, "Did you expect any less? He is the town prince after all."

"How do you figure, we don't even live there?" Jess asked.

"Easy, I'm the town princess so my son is the town prince," Rory said, "They just ignore the fact he is also the son of the town hoodlum."

"So, you and Lorelai seemed to be in deep discussion for while," Jess said, joining her on the couch after coming back into the living room, "Everything okay?"

"Yeah, she was just asking when we were going to add on an addition to our household," Rory said.

"That's an interesting way to put it," Jess said, "What did you say?"

"That we've talked about it. I told her we wanted to wait until Richie was a year at least," Rory said.

"He's been a year old for eighteen hours, you want to start trying now?" Jess asked with a smirk.

"Oh we can try. We won't be successful until I stop taking my birth control," Rory said.

"Never hurts to practice," Jess said, laying an arm round her shoulder, pulling her to him and kissing her neck.

"No, it doesn't," Rory said, capturing his lips with hers, "You want to go practice now and discuss our future additions later."

"I thought you'd never ask," Jess said, picking her up in his arms, carrying her to their bedroom.

"I can walk, Jess," she said, giggling as he kicked their bedroom door closed, carefully dropping her on the bed.

"This was faster," he said, checking that the door to Richie's room was closed and the monitor was turned on so they could hear him before removing his shirt and laying his body over hers.

"I love you, Dodger," Rory said, running her fingers down his bare chest as he reached behind her to unzip her dress.

"I love you too, Book Tease," Jess said, pulling her dress away from her body, kissing her shoulders and collarbone, "So much."