These Are the Special Times

By: LadyCommish

Disclaimer: I do not own these characters.

Note: This is part of the Happy Birthday, Sweet Sixteen and Love Lives universe. In this world Jess grew up from his seventh birthday with Luke and Lorelai. He is three years older than Rory is. They are have been married for nine years in this Christmas story and have two children, a boy, Lucas who is six and a girl, Lorelai "Lila" who is three. My other stories, Love Equal Sacrifice and Love Lives will be updated shortly. I've been busy with finals and my wedding stuff. I will have new the new chapter for Love Equals Sacrifice right after Christmas and Love Lives after the new year, like the third. I'm sorry for not updating faster.

There are characters in this story, in one of the reminiscences Rory and Jess have that belong to a show known as The Commish. That was one of my favorite shows and I do write fic for it, however has yet to come up with a category for it. These characters are support characters only to the Rory/Jess story line. They do not belong to me either.

Any follower of that series will realize that Tony has a different wife, which is because this story will fit into a story I'm working on for that show and because I will be posting this fic on that yahoogroups as well as on If you want to check that one out, e-mail me at or check out

I hope everyone has a Happy Holiday and enjoys the story. Thank you for reading.

LadyCommish

These Are the Special Times by: LadyCommish

Christmas Eve: Litchfield CountyConnecticut – 2014

Rory Gilmore Mariano woke up in her frigid bed to find the other side empty and cold. The sheets were not even rumpled nor did the pillow indent, which meant Jess still hadn't come to bed. Rory maneuvered her sixth month pregnant body out of bed, slipped her cold feet into her slippers and pulled on Jess' well worn robe.

Rory knew this would be a difficult Christmas for her husband, for her whole family really, but worst for Jess and her Mom. She found her husband sitting on their blue print sofa, staring into the fire in the fireplace which had nearly gone out. The only light in the room was from that fire and the colored lights on the tree.

Jess had put the presents under the tree, all brightly wrapped ready to be torn open by excited children the next morning. He was still dress as he had been when he arrived home, still in his blue uniform.

Rory never thought Jess would become a police officer, he didn't seem the type. Some lecture he'd heard though while a student at Brooklyn Academy of Law inspired him and he'd done just that. Now, he was in line to make Detective if he passed the Sergeant's exam next month, which Rory was sure he would do with flying colors.

This was the first Christmas they would be spending in Connecticut since they were married in August of 2005. Once Jess became a police officer and took a job in Eastbridge, New York, they had spent Christmas there with Luke, Lorelai, Jake, and Nora. Most years, Richard and Emily would come down, and sometimes Sookie and Jackson with their family, Lane and Dave with theirs, Chris, Sherry, and Gigi, or even Liz and TJ would come down to have Christmas with the Marianos.

Luke had passed away the previous February, shot in the chest in Hartford while trying to help a woman being mugged at the ATM. Mr. Fix-it until the end. Lorelai took Luke's death very hard; the only thing keeping her together was their children. Still, Rory didn't want to be so far from her mother so Jess spoke to his boss who was able to line him a job in Milford, Connecticut, only about a half hour or so drive from Stars Hollow. That was how they ended up back in Connecticut.

In his hand Jess held a glass half-filled with amber colored liquid. He wasn't drinking it though just tilting it back and forth watching the liquor swirl.

"What are you doing up?" she asked him moving to sit beside him on the sofa. "Besides staring at the fireplace."

"Thinking," Jess replied with a long sigh. "You shouldn't be up this late." He put his glass down on the coffee table, and slipped his arm around her. He put the other hand on her rounded belly.

"Well, I missed you," Rory sighed leaning into him. "Are you coming to bed?"

Jess shrugged, "I wish it were last year," he said after a minute. "I wish we were still back in Eastbridge going to the Boss' Christmas party. I wish when we got home your Mom and Uncle Luke would be waiting for us to put the gifts under the tree and watch A Christmas Carol." Jess told her. "Or better still I wish this time never passed, that we were still young and spending Christmas just the four of us in the Stars Hollow."

Rory understood how much Jess wanted to erase the past so everything would be right again, but the rest of his comment didn't make sense. "You want to erase these last twenty years? Go back to being young and carefree?"

"It was so much easier back then," Jess told her. "Aunt Lorelai and Uncle Luke had all the worries then."

"Those were special times," Rory agreed. "But we've had some pretty special holidays ourselves, even as adults."

Jess nodded and swallowed hard, "I know we did. But Rory…if I'd known how early in life I'd lose him, I'd have made each moment more sacred, tried to savor them more, you know?"

Rory laid her head against Jess' chest, "I know you miss him, Honey. But the memories are there, just try and find one. It'll be there."

Jess closed his eyes a moment. In the past ten months he'd been so filled with pain and anger he couldn't even try to bring any positive thoughts to his mind, remembering Luke was too painful. Now, he wanted those memories, but couldn't get in touch with them. "No," Jess shook his head. "Tell me about one, from when we were young."

"Hmm, let's see. I remember the Christmas when you first came to live with us," Rory told him. "You were seven and I was four. You'd never had a tree before, and so a few days before Christmas when Luke came home with one you were so scared you hid under Mom and Luke's bed," Rory laughed.

"I remember that," Jess sighed and closed his eyes. He remembered and started to recall it for Rory."

Stars Hollow, Connecticut

December 21, 1988

Jess was hiding, hiding from his Aunt and Uncle and the huge tree Uncle Luke just brought home. Jess had never had a Christmas tree and he'd never had one in his house before. He knew some of his friend from hoe had trees, but those were short and came in boxes. This one was huge, boxless, and had a smell.

Jess knew he looked foolish running upstairs and hiding under the bed. He was seven, the oldest, in the family. Rory was only four, yet he was the one who was hiding.

"Jess!" he heard his Uncle Luke call. "Jess, are you hiding in there?"

Jess poked his head out from underneath the bed and saw his Uncle's boots. "Hi!" he said and wiggled out from underneath the bed.

"Hey, Kiddo. Why were you hiding?" Luke asked sitting on the bed.

"I dunno," Jess mumbled looking at his shoes. "Cause tree scared me."

"The Christmas tree?" Luke asked and Jess nodded.

"Surely you've had a tree before. We had one at Grandpa's when you were little, I think you were four. It was for Rory's first Christmas," Luke reminded him.

"I don't remember. I was little," Jess told him.

"Didn't you have tree when you lived in New York?" Luke asked.

"I don't think I did," Jess replied.

"Then where did Santa Claus leave your presents?" Lorelai asked.

"There is not Santa Claus, Uncle Luke," Jess told her.

"Sure there's a Santa Claus," Lorelai said. "Rory went last week to see him. Remember?"

"That was just an actor. Santa's not real," Jess insisted.

"Why do you say that?"

"Because Mom told me Santa Claus is just made up. Even if he were real he'd never bring me any presents," Jess sighed. "He doesn't bring presents to bad little boys."

Luke hugged Jess a bit tighter, "You are not a bad boy, Jess. You are a very sweet, very smart, very special boy that I am glad to have living with me and my family," Luke told him. "As for Santa Claus, you write a letter to him and ask him for something you'd never ask me or Aunt Lorelai for. If you get that thing on Christmas morning, then you'll know for sure that there is a Santa Claus, and you'll owe me five bucks."

Jess raised an eyebrow, "Five bucks?"

"Yeah," Luke replied. "That's how much I'm willing to bet you there is a Santa Claus."

"Make it ten and it's a deal," Jess giggled with a little smirk.

"You're on," Lorelai declared and set Jess on the floor. "Now get going on that letter."

December 25, 2014

Rory let out a laugh, "You told me about that bet. You were so sure you were going to win," Rory recalled. "The look on your face when you opened that Nintendo Entertainment System Christmas morning."

Jess smiled, "I didn't even want it. I was just so sure that Luke and Lorelai wouldn't be able to buy on…Luke must have had to go all the way to New York for that thing."

"Yeah, I think Mom said later he got it at the 33rd Street mall in Manhattan to get one," Rory recalled.

"And Uncle Luke hated malls. His Hell would be a huge city mall on Christmas Eve," Jess laughed. "That was probably the best Christmas of my life."

Rory raised an eyebrow at him, "Really? I can think of a few others that were pretty special."

Stars Hollow, Connecticut

Christmas 2000

Christmas morning Lorelai, Luke, and Jacob Danes sat on the sofa near a huge Christmas tree. Rory Gilmore and Jess Mariano sat on the floor collecting the remains of the wrapping paper.

"How did we get this job again?" Jess asked his life long friend and girlfriend of two months.

"Not sure," Rory replied. "Mom?"

"Jake will make a mess, Luke's on strike, and I'm in a delicate condition," Lorelai patted her belly.

"Right, like cleaning up wrapping paper is strenuous," Jess grumbled and stuffed and stuffed a handful into the black bag.

"Yeah, and why are you on strike?" Rory asked Luke.

"Luke was against using wrapping paper when there are gift bags," Lorelai answered for her husband.

"Yep, there are like 40 bags downstairs but she insisted on wrapping every last gift," Luke grumbled.

Lorelai laid her head against Luke's shoulder, "You love me anyway."

Luke in turn kissed her lips, "I sure do." Then he motioned to Rory and Jess, "What do you say we spring them?"

"What Mr. I'm-Not-Cleaning-Up-Wrapping is willing to help clean up wrapping?" Lorelai was feigning shock.

"Well, it is their first Christmas as a couple," Luke reminded her. "We should give them a little break before your parents' dinner."

The words had barely left Luke's mouth before Jess pulled Rory off the floor. He winked at his uncle, "Thank, Uncle Luke," Jess said leading Rory to her room. He had a special gift he wanted to give her in private.

Jess shut Rory's door and without a word deeply kissed her lips, mingling breath, saliva and tongues in the kiss.

"Jess," Rory gasped. "What's gotten into you?"

"I…I just wanted you to…I love you, Rory. Please know that," Jess told her holding her hands in his. "I love you so much."

Rory smiled, "I know that, Jess. I love you too."

"I want you to wear this then," Jess said taking a square package from his pocket and giving it to her.

Carefully Rory opened the wrapping to reveal a velvet box, large enough for a broch or a chain. Inside was locket with the words, Rory and Jess, Then, Now, Forever December 2000. On the inside was an old picture of them from their first Christmas together in 1988, next to it was nothing.

"We'll take a picture and put it in there," Jess told her. "That way you can always be reminded of our first Christmas ever and out first as a couple."

Tears sparkiled in Rory's blue eyes and she leaned in to kiss Jess' lips, "I love it. And you. But how…"

Jess cut her off, "Uncle Luke fronted me. I'm paying him back in installments."

"We're really lucky," Rory said. "To have Mom, Luke, this town, each other."

"We most certainly are," Jess agreed holding her. "Very lucky."

Christmas 2014

"That was a great Christmas," Jess agreed. "It took me until your birthday to pay Luke back for that locket," Jess ran a finger along the chain still around Rory's neck, "It was worth every penny."

Rory smiled, "I'll never take…Ooh," Rory took Jess' hand. "He's kicking."

Jess let his hand rest on the rise of Rory's stomach, "Strong kicks, huh?"

"Yeah, means it's a boy. Lucas kicked so hard…Hey, that was another great Christmas," Rory said. "The Christmas Lucas was born."

"That was very special I still can't believe I almost missed it. It was one of the worst winters ever…"

Christmas Eve 2008

Eastbridge, NY

It was Rory and Jess' second Christmas in Eastbridge and it was so far one of the coldest December's in history. All ready that year it snowed more than 24 inches.

Since Jess was relatively new to the Eastbridge PD, he had to work holidays like Christmas, Easter, New Years…Luckily, Jess had the best boss in the entire world Police Commissioner Tony Scali. Every year he put on a buffet for the guys who had to work. At his side, his second wife Cyd Scali, his sons, David, Anthony Jr., and Matthew as well as his daughters Sarah, Melissa, and Karen.

It was easy to tell which children belonged to Cyd and which belonged to Rachel, as every one of Cyd's crop had their mother's hair, or at least reddish tints and blue eyes. David's hair had turned darker with age and Sarah's hair was a deep brown.

If the men on tour were married, Tony would let their wives come by and eat with them seeing as it was Christmas Eve and if not for their husbands desire to serve and protect they would be home with their families.

Rory arrived at the festive precinct with a tray of Luke's Danishes he'd sent by Fed Ex when the weather proved unfavorable for travel. It seemed he felt the pastries would ease the homesickness as the weather was too unpredictable for he and Lorelai to travel up that year. The squad room look like a restaurant, food warmers were filled with veal piccata, flounder francaise, and linguine. Jess was at the end of the line tossing a Caesar salad.

Rory waddled over to the buffet line to see her husband, "Hey,' she sighed reaching him.

"Rory, what…Please tell me you didn't cook. Murder is a crime," Jess teased.

Rory pouted, "Ha, ha. No these are Luke's Danishes."

Jess took the tray and put it on the dessert table. Then they heard the thick Brooklyn accent of his boss call, "Mariano, let's toss faster, put those diner skills to…Oh hi, Mrs. Mariano, didn't see you there."

Rory smiled and waddled nearer to the Commissioner, "Its fine, Sir. You can yell at Jess any time. Please call me, Rory."

"All right," Tony agreed. "Please call me Tony. You've been here over a year, Sir is to formal."

Rory smiled and reached one hand around to massage her sore back, "Its nice to see you again."

"Cyd!" Tony called. "Is there a chair over there for Rory at one of the tables?"

Cyd Scali a tall attractive red head who barely looked like her 45 years gracefully joined her husband. "Hi, Rory it's great to see you again. You're just about ready to go, aren't you?"

Jess slipped his arm around her shoulders and squeezed, "Two weeks. We're excited."

"It's always exciting and amazing," Cyd said smiling at her own children. "But the true miracle is how after you do it once you can even remotely consider repeating the experience."

"My mother described it as something a king to doing the splits on a crate of dynamite," Rory called.

Cyd laughed, "I've never head it put quite like that, but okay."

Jess led Rory to a table where a friend of Jess' Ricky Caruso was sitting with his third wife, soon the Scali family and Detective Pagon joined them.

Jess watched Rory carefully, she seemed very uncomfortable shifting in her seat and massaging her belly.

"Rory, you feeling all right?" Jess asked. "Do you want to go home?"

"Then Jess' partner came and told him, "Time to hit the streets Romeo."

Jess sighed and worriedly studied his wife. Tony spoke, "Go ahead, Son. We'll make sure she gets home all right."

Reluctantly Jess kissed Rory goodbye, "I'll see you when I get home. I love you."

Rory stayed at the Christmas party a while longer sitting at the table occasionally grimacing at the pains in her stomach. This baby kicked like a soccer player.

"Boss," Officer Jeff Hartley said. "The snow is really coming down. We should probably send the spouses home before the roads get too treacherous."

"Yeah, good idea," Tony agreed. To Cyd, "Honey, could you run Rory…" It was Tony noticed his wife all ready kneeling in front of the younger woman.

Tony joined them, "Cyd. Honey…is…"

"Tony, I think Rory's time is here," she told him.

"It's just kicking. I'm…" Rory stopped as she felt a wetness between legs. "In labor," she finished. "My water just broke."

Cyd moved over here, "Okay, Tony can we take her to your office?"

"Do you think …Shouldn't we bring her to a hospital?" Tony suggested.

"Yeah, but let's get her some privacy first. You radio for medics, I don't think we should risk driving her." With that, Cyd helping Rory up and led her to the back office.

Jess and his partner when he worked night, Officer Marcus Dennis were driving their 33rd Street beat when they stopped to address a car that ran a red light. By the time they returned to their car and turned the key their engine was dead.

"What did you do man?" Jess asked trying the key again.

"Nothing. It just up and died. It started up fine before," Marcus told him.

"Damn it!" Jess swore. "Damn this old equipment," Jess pulled out his radio. "HQ, this is X-ray 5. We are disabled on the corner of 33rd and Main."

"Roger that, X-ray 5. Hold for C1," the dispatcher replied.

Tony's voice came over the speaker, "Jess, this is Tony. I thought you should know your wife is in labor. What is this about being disabled?"

"Yes, Sir, the engine…Did you say labor?" Jess forgot about their broken down car.

"Affirmative, 5. We'll send a tow truck to your location," Tony replied.

"Boss, is Rory…"

"Don't worry, Son. We're having medics dispatched here. Going to Wilshire…It'll be fine," Tony assured him. "You stay put until the flatbed arrives."

"Receive, C1," Jess responded and put his radio down.

The Christmas of 2008 was the coldest one New York had seen in nearly a decade. By 10 pm, there were more than 20 accidents; the power was out over half the city and the phone lines were frozen solid. Jess and Marcus were still waiting for the tow truck, accidents had priority over breakdowns.

Apparently, accidents also had priority over pregnant women. It had been more than four hours since Tony radioed for the medics, but they'd yet to arrive. Instead Rory lay on the floor of the Commissioner's office, two pillows supporting her head and a couple of sheets from the locker room providing her limited modesty.

"It's not supposed to be like this," Rory cried as a long contraction subsided. "It's supposed to be in a hospital with drugs and doctors and my mom was supposed to be there," Rory trailed off a Cyd dabbed her forehead with a towel.

"I know, Sweetie. It'll be over soon," she comforted. "And when it is you'll have a beautiful son or daughter. That will make every hour of this worth it, believe me. I didn't do this four times for the fun of it."

"Did you really hate Tony when you were in labor?" Rory asked. "Because I'm really starting to reconsider the whole sex thing."

"Well, if hate falls under the category of grabbing him by the collar and vowing to use him as target practice if he dared touch me again, then I'd have to say yes. That was with Anthony, but I was in labor with him for thirty-three hours. You'll be lucky if you make midnight," Cyd told her.

"How long have I…" she trailed off as another pain seized her.

"Only three minutes apart now. Shouldn't be much longer," Cyd comforted.

"I wanted Jess to be here. You threatened to kill your husband, my Mom broke Luke's hand. I deserve that too. Oh, I hate him so much right now," Rory groaned. "We are so getting separate beds after this."

Cyd smiled and held Rory's hand, "You tell him that when you see him. Tony will bring him in time."

In a cold squad care across town, Jess punched the steering wheel. "That's it man. I'm the worst husband in the world. Rory's going to hate me."

"My sister gave her husband a black eye when she had my nephew. Be glad you're not there," Marcus chuckled.

"It's not funny man," Jess snapped. "I've been there for Rory since we were little kids. I've seen here through everything, fillings, pierced ears, a broken wrist, skinned knees, appendicitis, having her tonsils out, and the one event I should be there for that I can actually have a role in and I'm stuck in a frigid patrol car with you!"

"That's what you think," Marcus replied. "Isn't that the boss?"

Thankfully, Jess and Marcus had been cleaning the car off every so often, if only the windows and license plates, so the tow truck could find them, so they were able to see Tony approaching. Both officers stepped out of the car.

"Boy, are we glad to see you?" Marcus greeted.

"Come on, guys," Tony called out. "You're gong to be a father any time now, Mariano. Move it."

The two officers joined their Commissioner in his car and began the slow, hair-raising ride back to the precinct.

"How's Rory, Boss?" Jess asked worriedly.

"When I left she was using your name after a bunch of words I'm glad my kids didn't hear. By now, she's probably swearing off all activities that could possibly lead to this circumstance ever occurring again," Tony reported.

"Oh, man. I am the worst husband ever. I am pond scum; I am lower than pond scum. She's going to hate me," Jess almost whined. If he'd been with Luke he would have whined.

"She's in labor, son. She all ready hates you," Tony joked. "And talk about lousy husband's. I wasn't with Rachel when Dave was born. I barely made Sarah's. I was regrettably present for all 33 hours of AJ's, but completely missed Matthew and Melissa's, and then I made it to Karen's by the skin of my teeth. And Jeff Hartley, he missed all three of his kids' births. Ronnie Lopez only made one out of four…it's the job, not the man," Tony explained.

"Weren't Rachel and Cyd made though?" Marcus asked.

"They were at first, but a cop's wife…spouse is a unique position, you've got to be made of stern stuff," Tony replied. "I was lucky enough to have two very special women in my life."

The men were silent after that, Jess thinking aout Rory, Tony about Cyd and his late wife Rachel, and Marcus about Julia who he planned to propose to the next evening.

Rory rested between contractions and Cyd would tell her stories about her life working with and being married to the Police Commissioner. She told her how they met in 1992 working undercover, she for the FEDS, he for his own department. About how they came to work together, about how close they became as friends, about how that friendship grew after Tony's wife was murdered and he was injured. She told her about their courtship, marriage, the births of their children. She told her about arguments, happy Christmases, and romantic weekend trips, anything to calm Rory and keep her entertained.

"One thing's for sure, there's never a dull moment," she concluded as Rory gasped again.

"That's only…" Cyd began.

"It's time," Rory panted. "It feels funny."

Cyd who had been uncharacteristically calm until how began to panic. She'd thought Tony would be back before the actual delivery took place. Now however was not the time to panic. Cyd took a deep breath and rose from the floor, "Hold on. I'm going to get extra help. Carmela, Lucille!"

Soon two more women joined Rory and some extra linens were brought up from the storage bin. They were old but clean. Carmela Pagan timed Rory's pushes and held her hand. Cyd supported her back, while Lucille, the only one who actually delivered a baby even if it was 20 years ago, helped with the actual delivery.

At five minutes before midnight on December 24, 2008 Jess Mariano arrived back at the Eastbridge headquarters with his partner and boss. He ran to the office where Rory was giving birth using her screams to guide him. Jess burst into the room as Rory cried out, "Jess!"

Falling to his knees not even bothering to remove his wet coat, he took her free hand, "I'm here, Baby. I'm right here."

Before Rory could react to Jess' presence Lucille instructed, "Big push, Rory. Let me have it."

Rory bore down and pushed with all her remaining strength.

"We have the head," Lucille announced. "One more and you're a Mommy."

Rory took another deep breath and gave her final push. A shrill cry filled the air mixed in with sobs and yelps of joy.

"It's a boy1" Lucille announced moving the bundle she wrapped in Ricky Caruso's undershirt to rest on its mother's stomach. "And it is 12:01 am Merry Christmas Little Boy."

Jess replaced Cyd and held his wife and newborn son in his arms, a true miracle had just occurred and he'd witnessed it, had a part in it. "I love you, Rory Mariano. Thank you for my son."

"Jess!" Rory exclaimed. "We didn't pick out a boy's name."

Jess studied the baby a moment then decided, "Lucas Gilmore Mariano."

Rory smiled softly, "I love it and you."

From the doorway Carmela, Lucille, Cyd and Tony looked on. The older couple, their arms around each other smiled, as did the other two women. "Almost makes me want to do that again," Tony whispered to his wife. She looked at him blue eyes shining with tears, "Are you out of your God forsaking mind?"

A short, loud argument followed that statement, by Rory and Jess were oblivious to all but their son, their comfort, and their joy.

Present Time – Christmas 2014

"I think that was our best Christmas," Rory sighed. "I can't believe he'll be six…that he's been six for almost three hours. Was that your best Christmas?"

"No, I think last year was my favorite," Jess replied.

"What was so unique about last years?" Rory asked.

"We were all together, not just some of the people, but everyone you know, from Aunt Lorelai and Uncle Luke to Lane and Dave to Mom and TJ. It was like in some way they all knew."

Christmas Eve - 2013

EastbridgeNY

Jess and Rory did himself this year, "Rory told Jess as they drove home. "I'm not eating again for a month."

"You say that every year," Jess reminded her. "And every year you still eat a stack of Luke's pancakes the next morning."

"Well how often do I get Luke's pancakes?"

"Once a week, on my weekends of we're there, and on my weekends on they're usually here," Jess laughed.

"True, but I didn't have pancakes every week," Rory reminded him. Then, "I can't believe everyone showed this year. Usually only a few, but this year…thank God we moved into that bigger house."

"Thank God the Boss got us our raises and retro pay," Jess added.

"You can say that again," Rory sighed as they pulled into their driveway. "No white Christmas this year," Rory frowned.

"Good, then Luke and I can enjoy the presents instead of shoveling snow," Jess replied as they walked to the front door. "You think the kids are sleeping?"

"Probably, Mom will get them in with the Santa line," Rory replied, only to be floored when she opened the door to see her five years old son Lucas and her two year old Lila both awake. Lucas was sitting on Lorelai's lap crying. Lila was in Luke's arms whimpering in sympathy to her brothers.

"Don't listen to Gigi, Lucas. She's just jealous because Santa Claus doesn't bring her any presents," Lorelai soothed. "He only brings presents to the good little girls and boys. Right, Grandpa?"

"That's right," Luke agreed.

"What happened here?" Jess asked. "Do I need to arrest someone?"

"No, we just need to muzzle Georgia," Lorelai replied. "She told our little boy there's no Santa Claus."

Rory gasped in shock and moved to take her son in her arms, "Lucas, what did Mommy and Daddy say about Santa?" Rory asked.

"That he comes on Chrismas Eve to the good boys and girls," he repeated.

"That's right," Jess affirmed. "So what do you say we go upstairs and get to sleep. It'll all be better in the morning," Jess reached to take Lucas from Rory and carry him upstairs followed closely by Luke carrying Lila.

Luke put Lila in her crib and watched Jess tuck his son in, "Get some sleep now, Little Man. In the morning you'll see that Gigi was wrong there is a Santa Claus."

"You promise Daddy?" the tired voice asked.

Jess looked uncomfortable but answered the child's question, "I promise, Son. Go to sleep. I love you." He gave the boy a kiss.

"I love you, too, Daddy."

Jess switched off the lamp and put the nightlight on and nearly ran into Luke on his way out of the room. "Sorry, I was just watching in amazement. It never ceases to amaze me how well you turned out. I'm proud of you, Jess."

"It's Christmas so I'm going to be mushy for a minute. Everything I know I learned from you, you and Aunt Lorelai were the best parents…you see if I didn't have you to show me how to do this," he referred to his sleeping son. "SO you're the one that should be proud, cause if I didn't have you, I wouldn't have anything. I just want to say thanks."

The two men embraced with tears in their eyes, "You're the only Father that I…"

"I know," Luke replied. "Now enough with the sappy stuff. We need a game plan on how to convince your son there's really a Santa Claus…"

Present Time

"That was some plan, too," Rory giggled. "Luke, Jackson and Grandpa all switching back and forth in that Santa suit," Rory laughed.

"Yeah, but it worked. Gigi and Sherry looked like idiots and Lucas still believes in Santa Claus," Jess sighed. Rory kissed his cheek.

"You feel better now?" she asked seeing the anger that had been in his eyes since February give way to another emotion. His brown eyes welled with tears unshed and he choked out, "Oh, God Rory. I just miss him so much."

Rory sat up and straightened and pulled Jess' head down to her chest, cradling it against her breast, "Ssh, I know. I know just let it out, Jess. Let it out."

Jess was finally able to cleanse his emotions that night, letting the pain and anger poor out of him into his wife's loving embrace.

Rory and Jess slept on the sofa in each others arms until the sun glistening off the new fallen snow and the shouts of excited children woke them up. One the gifts were opened and the mess cleaned up, Rory put a turkey in the oven too cook and started the real coffee her mother would surely need to get through today.

Jess seemed to be in better spirits than he had been for a long time, there was a warmth in the house that hadn't been there since Luke died.

At four Lorelai arrived with Emily, Richard, Jake, and Nora. There were more presents to open and eggnog to drink. When Lorelai set the table, she realized there was an empty chair, the chair that would have been for Luke if things had gone differently. Rory went to move it quickly, "I don't know what Jess was thinking," she apologized to her mother.

Jess entered the kitchen, "I was thinking about what you said last night that all we have to is reach for our memories, those times in our hearts. I thought it would be easier to do if we…there's a feeling here today, he's here all around us. Sometimes we just need a reminder."

Lorelai with tears in her eyes embraced Jess and Rory together. "This may turn out to be a special Christmas after all."

As the Gilmore-Danes- Mariano family gathered around the table for their Christmas meal, Lucas asked to say the prayer. He bowed his head and said simply, "God bless this house, God bless this food, and God bless Grandpa Luke who we all miss very much. Amen."

In loving memory of Mary J. Connahan who went to the angels Febraury 8, 2004. I love you Grandma.