Title: Subway Meeting
Summary: Jess never liked the subway. He dealt with it, hiding in books and music. Then one day he comes across someone he maybe doesn't wish to be hidden from. Maybe.
A/N: I was riding the subway and got inspired. This came out of it. The story was meant to be a one shot, but I'm not so sure about that anymore. Tell me what you think, and if you wish so I will continue.
Travelling the subway was nothing unusual to Jess. He did it practically every day, paying no or very little attention to the fact that there actually were other people travelling along with him. That is to say, he was aware of their presence – too aware – but he tried to ignore them as much as possible. When he was a kid he had always preferred car rides, all the unfamiliar faces frightening him a bit. However, Liz never had been one to handle economy and that car she had received from her father when she entered motherhood was pretty soon given up in trade for something he didn't want to know about. Since then he had been forced to getting used to taking the subway wherever he went. By the time he had turned ten he had had no more problems with it. At least that was what he told himself and everybody else. Deep inside he never had been able to shake off that uncomfortable feeling of too many people watching you. It was too crowded. But he lived, put earplugs in his ears and concentrated his eyes on the letters of his current book and almost didn't feel like he was on a subway anymore.
Today was no different, at first. He read. He blasted The Clash, probably receiving tinnitus, but with the benefit of being able to shut out the world around him as much as possible. Then something changed. For some reason he looked up, and that's when he discovered her, sitting only a few seats away from him. At first he simply stared in shock. Then he doubted his vision capability – could it really be her? Maybe it was just someone who resembled her - a lot! Yes, that had to be the case, she couldn't be here, she didn't live here in New York, she was in school, Yale, New Haven. But no, she must have graduated from there years ago, he realized as he did a quick recount of how long they had been apart. Wow, it really had been that long. And then, he pondered, it was in fact possible for her to be here, now. After all, New York was a large city (sometimes way too large in his opinion, and sometimes not quite large enough) and you did not run into everyone who lived here. Maybe she did live here, walked down the same streets as he did, but they had just never come across each other before.
He gathered his confused thoughts and took a real look at her. She had changed, of course, but not too much for him to be definitely unmistaken that he had caught the right girl. Her hair was of another length than the last time he had seen her, in her dorm room. This was probably the longest hairstyle he had ever seen her in. It suited her though. He had never been fond of the shortness. However, nothing could ever top the simplicity of her high school haircut. According to him, she could never be more beautiful than she had been in that Chilton uniform, her hair up and with no or little makeup (he never had been able to see the difference between those two, he only noticed makeup when it was over the top and that just bugged him) when she used to come by Luke's after school.
She was more dressed-up now. More formal-looking. He didn't really like it. It wasn't extreme in any way, and on anybody else he would have thought it nice and simple if he had paid it any attention at all (which he probably wouldn't have, had it been anyone else). But on her it just didn't seem to fit. What bothered him mostly though, wasn't her clothing or hairdo. It was her eyes. He had never seen them like this. Emotionless. Staring blankly off into the space before her. Empty. Those eyes were not meant to be empty. Every time he had studied those eyes, they had shown some kind of emotion. Often happiness and liveliness – after all, she was her mother's daughter. Sometimes those eyes had blushed (he knew no one else with eyes that could blush). They had been angry with him, disappointed, anxious, sad. But never like this. Even the mixture of bitterness and hurt they had blinded him with that disastrous night in her dorm room when he had been desperate and she had screamed 'no' – not even those eyes had disturbed him more than this nothingness.
Something must have happened to her. Perhaps she was just having a bad day, but he doubted that. He had seen her having bad days. Those were filled with tears and grumpiness and irritation. This wasn't anything like that. This seemed a whole lot more like a permanent condition, and that was what frightened him the most. Sure she could have changed her behaviour during all these years, but something in him still knew. He knew her. Would never stop. He saw her, and she saw him. The idea of meant to be together flashed through his brain. Maybe. But who was he kidding. She had said no. And he was not one to be living in a fairytale dream world and longing for a happily ever after. He was rational enough to realize it would never come, and he'd just spend his whole life getting more disappointed as the princess never returned to him if he hoped. That was why he gave up on Rory Gilmore that night in the dorm room. That was why he never visited her or his uncle or anyone who had any connection to her, not even to show them all how much he had done with himself. The urge had come over him uncountable times to go over there and show her the books, to tell her that he now was a published author. He knew she would be proud of him. But he had strained himself and pushed away the memories. She was gone, and he wouldn't be the pathetic boy who never gave up on chasing her. He had lost her, then he had tried to make up for it. She hadn't let him, and that meant they were done. Forever. The only thing he never succeeded in doing was forgetting about her.
Now she was sitting here, just a few feet away from him. It was surreal. His first impulse was to walk up to her and just simply kiss her. Then things would just work out from there; they would get together, date a little, he would be a boyfriend, she would move in, he would propose, they would be married, they would have kids – and live happily ever after. He caught himself there. That was the fairytale ending, not reality. He became embarrassed for even letting that cross his mind. It was stupid. He ought to leave her alone, let her go on with her life as it was, not caring about how empty those eyes looked or what had caused it. That way he would be able to keep his life together as well. It would be the best solution for both of them.
However, the easiest way had just never been him, especially not when it came to her. Soon he found himself taking the seat opposite to her, right where her stare was focused. She let out a small gasp when she recognized him. Her breath returned to her as she took his appearance in, and his name fell from her lips accidentally as she breathed out. He plastered on his usual smirk for her to recognize. He could hide behind that, his teenage rebellion attitude. That way he had control over his facial expression. Who knew what else he might show her if he wasn't careful. This did it for her and she quit doubting it being him a lot faster than he had with her a few minutes ago.
"It's you," was all her verbal ability allowed her to form at the moment, and she repeated those words a few times, before adding an "It really is you" for variation.
He stayed silent, waiting for her to take him in. Also, he wasn't at all certain about what was appropriate to say in a situation like this. He felt like there was so much that needed to be said, that he wanted out of his chest because it had been clinging on there for years, always pressing a little over him, never allowing him to let go. He just had no idea where he was to begin. So he waited, throat drying up.
"So," she started, still a bit overwhelmed, "what have you been up to?"
Small talk wasn't really what he had in mind, but this did give him the opportunity to tell her without having to seek her out in some pathetic romantic comedy way. The words were on his tongue, but they never escaped his lips. He didn't let them, even if he didn't have the time to reflect on the reason for this at the moment.
"Nothing much," he instead answered her with a shrug. "Working." It wasn't a lie, it just wasn't the whole truth, the detailed truth. He wanted to wait with that, it deserved a better environment then a stinky subway. It could be the perfect moment. Someday.
She looked a bit disappointed at his evasive response and he hurried to ask her what she was doing herself. She lit up.
"I'm a journalist, actually," she told him proudly.
"Really?" He smiled genuinely for her.
"Yep. I work at the New York Times."
"Overseas correspondent?" he asked, remembering too much.
Her smile faded a little. "Nah. You were right, that stuff is too rough for me. Besides, I couldn't be away that much now that I have a family and all."
The shock in his face took her by surprise. "You didn't know? Thought Luke would've filled you in."
"We… don't speak much," he muttered, still staring at her in disbelief.
"Oh, well. I'm married, since three years back. His name is Logan. You don't know him, I met him at Yale. We have a kid too," she informed him. He noticed that she didn't smile has happily as she told him this, it was more like a rehearsed, automatic response.
He tried to regain his act of composure. "Let me guess – Lorelai junior junior?"
She shook her head after offering him a grin that didn't reach her eyes. "Logan thought it was silly. Her name is Sheila, after his mother."
He didn't say "oh", he just nodded. Silent, broody Jess was apparently sprung back into life.
"Well, anyway, this is my stop," she continued as she stood up.
"Bye," he offered, realizing he had spent most of the time without saying much at all and this was his last chance at doing something, anything. He just couldn't seem to get anything out of his mouth.
"It was nice seeing you, maybe we'll run into each other again," she said politely and turned to walk out the doors. Just before they were about to close and he had started to sunk back into his seat to process that all this actually had occurred and he had missed out on every opportunity and would probably never see her again, she stuck her head back in.
"There's a really nice coffee house down on the 24th where I usually sit in the afternoons. You should stop by some time. The Bean House."
He just nodded, stunned.
"Well, maybe I'll see you then, Dodger," she added before the train started moving again. That glimmer in her eyes when she called him 'Dodger' was the first time he actually felt that she was the very same person whom he had spent all of these years attempting to get out of his mind. That wasn't fake or rehearsed or distant, like everything else she had said to him seemed to have been. He was still her Dodger. If nothing else.
A/N: Is this enough? Anyone who wants to read more? Or does it suck so bad I should immediately give up any thoughts of writing more of this crap? Tell me! I can take it.