Warning: This work has been rated 16+ for language.
Jess wouldn't be intimidated by some rich kids trying to buy their way ahead. He couldn't. He shouldn't. But the truth was he was. It didn't matter how smart he was or how hard he tried, people like Tristan always came out on top. Pulling yourself up by your bootstraps was bullshit. The system was rigged. The only way to win was to beat them at their own game.
It was the end of the day when Jess worked up his nerve to confront Tristan over the answers. Outwitting the moron to convince him to hand them over wouldn't be hard so why was he so nervous? Jess's sweaty palms nearly slipped off the handle of the door as Jess followed Tristan inside the bathroom after last period.
Another Jess-Tristan bathroom confrontation; these were starting to become a bit cliche. But for once Jess was the one confronting Tristan. That slight misbalance of power made him feel in control. He could do this. He could manipulate Tristan just as Tristan did to so many of their classmates, like Brad and Paris.
The door closed behind him and Jess locked it. The last thing this conversation needed was witnesses.
Tristan stopped in front of a stall and turned on his heel. He looked amused. "What's this?"
"Shut up," Jess said. People in control don't answer questions. They don't ask questions either. They made demands. "I asked Brad about the test answers," Jess continued on. "He's said he gave you the only copy. Time for you to hand them over."
Tristan smirked. "Really? Got to say, I didn't take you for the cheating type. Desperate times, huh? That F really get to you?"
Tristan certainly wasn't acting like Jess had hoped. He probably still thought he was in control, that he had all the power. No matter, Jess would show him otherwise with a bone-chilling glare.
"I'm not giving you the test answers, Gilmore. Wouldn't want you to get mixed up in this kind of trouble, right?"
"I'm not really giving you an option." Jess held eye contact for a full five seconds before continuing. "I've got dirt on you. Only way to keep me quiet about it is to let me in on your cheating ring."
"Really? You would do that?" There was a look of disgust on Tristan's face. What right did Tristan have to judge him when Tristan was the one cheating in the first place?
Tristan crossed his arms. "No."
"I'm not messing around. I've got dirt on you."
Tristan took deliberate steps toward Jess. Any resemblance of power and control was gone from Jess's grasp. It was clear who really held all the cards in this conversation. The two inches Tristan had on Jess that made him feel so much smaller certainly didn't help either. "So go tell Headmaster Charleston. Get me kicked out of school. You think I care? Go ahead. Do it! But if you take me down I'll take Brad down with me. You really want that on your conscience." Tristan didn't blink once.
"You're a psycho," Jess said, though he shouldn't have been surprised. Hadn't Brad warned him that Tristan had nothing to fear over being discovered? Jess made a beeline to the door with new determination to refocus and beat Tristan with good old fashion studying. He just couldn't let Tristan win.
"Answers will cost you $500," Tristan said before Jess reached the door.
Jess turned back around. "What?"
"You heard me. You can't blackmail me, but if you want in on this deal then you're going to have to pay for it."
Jess thought it over for a moment. All of that new determination disintegrated once a chance to cheat was back on the table. Maybe this never really was about evening the odds. Maybe this had always been about taking the easy way out. Jess wasn't going to give too much thought to his motivations though. Tristan's motivations, on the other hand, were curious.
"What do you even need money for?" Jess asked.
"I don't," Tristan said with a shrug and a laugh. He walked toward the door. "Let me know your decision by tomorrow or I'm putting the answers in the shredder."
When Jess got off the bus from school he went straight to Luke's. Though they've grown distant in the past year or so Luke was still the only person he trusted to help him out of a bind. If anyone could help him decide what to do about Tristan's offer it was Luke. Jess went right up to the diner counter and sat down, waiting for Luke to serve him.
"Just you today?"
"What'll you have?"
"I'm not really hungry. I just…could I talk to you…alone?"
Luke looked him up and down then finally nodded. He told Jess he could wait upstairs and to give him a couple of minutes to make sure the other customers were set.
Jess went upstairs and into the apartment. It was unlocked like usual. Luke had no reason to mistrust anyone in Stars Hollow.
It had been a while since Jess had been in this apartment. He used to come up here to work on building model airplanes with Luke a few years back, but Jess had long since lost interest in that. He had lost interest in many of the things that used to bond him and Luke. Most of the models had been taken home by Jess, and had since been lost somewhere in the hoarders pit that was his and Lorelai's garage, but there looked like there was one sitting on top of Luke's fridge. Had Luke continued to make the models without him? That stung a little. He thought that was their thing. How could Luke do it without him?
Jess reached above the fridge and picked up the model. It was unfinished. A memory flashed in his head. Jess was about fourteen. He was sitting at the kitchen table with Luke, nagging him about how boring the models were. Luke told him if he didn't want to work on them anymore then he could just leave. And Jess did just that. He did so without even a thought about how hurt Luke looked. He didn't want to play with stupid model planes anymore. That was kid stuff.
The door to the apartment swung open and Jess dropped the plane. It smashed at his feet.
"Shit!" He bent down to pick it up but it was too late. Jess looked over to see Luke, looking sadder than he ever had before.
"Luke, I'm sorry!"
"It's fine." Luke picked up the rest of the pieces and took the ones in Jess's hands then shoved them into the junk drawer next to the fridge.
Why had Luke kept that model plane all these years? Why was it in the exact same condition as when Jess left that day? Had he been waiting all these years for Jess to return and finish it.
"What did you want to talk about?" Luke asked.
Right, Jess had come up here to get advice about school, not wreck Luke's things. The outcome of this meeting thus far only proved how much of a menace Jess was and how he should have just kept away from Luke.
"You know, it's not important," he said. "I'm gonna take off. Lot's of homework." Jess walked toward the door.
"You okay?" Luke asked. "School okay?"
Jess turned on his heel. No, it wasn't. It was terrible. He was struggling for the first time in his life and the social aspect was even worse. Everyone there hated him and thought he was some loser. At least at Stars Hollow High he had a couple of friends who could help him through the day. And there he was the opposite of the class dunce.
"It's just harder than I expected," Jess admitted. "I just need to adjust. I'm sure Harvard will be just as hard. I'll figure it out. Don't worry."
"Well I'm here if you decide you do need to talk," Luke said.
Every instinct told him to take Luke up on that advice. To tell him about the F on his paper and how he was thinking about cheating and how completely overwhelmed he felt. He wanted Luke's guidance and help. Instead, Jess just nodded and went out the door. He would figure this out on his own. It would've have been unfair to burden Luke more.
Jess made a little money from allowance and sometimes Lorelai paid him for extra work at the inn, but it wasn't much, and he had already blown everything he made last week when he went book shopping. Jess checked his wallet but all he could find was a five. Jess debated checking the couch for cushion change but he knew that wouldn't be enough either. Is this how Lorelai felt when she asked Richard and Emily for help with Chilton? No, this was worse than that. At least when Lorelai asked her parents for help it was to do the right thing. She was making a sacrifice in order to give Jess something she thought was best for him. But what Jess was doing was wrong and he knew it.
So why was he continuing down this path? He could turn back any second, change his mind and forget about giving Tristan the money. Until the money exchanged hands he had done nothing wrong. So why didn't he stop? Why was he still searching every crevice of his room for a little extra cash?
Another deviant idea came to him, something that would only further dig his immoral grave. There was one place in his house that had a whole lot of money, but taking it would be on par with the cheating itself. Perhaps even worse.
Lorelai had a secret stash of a few hundred dollars in her room. She called it her rainy day shoe fund, but they both knew it was for an emergency. Lorelai had trusted Jess with the location. Despite his mild delinquency he had given her no reason to mistrust him. Could he really break that trust and steal from her today?
Yes, yes he could. He had to. Otherwise, he would just disappoint her by flunking out. He could either be a thief or a failure, and honestly he'd rather be the former. Hopefully, though, Lorelai would never have to discover that he was either.
Jess snuck upstairs, tiptoeing quietly along the carpet, even though no one was home. He opened the door to his mother's bedroom. It squeaked. He continued across her floor and reached her dresser. Lorelai was a terrible hider. He pulled out the first drawer, where she kept her miscellaneous items such as jewelry, hair clips, and that torture device thingy that women used on their eyelashes. There was also an envelope of money, the emergency fund. Jess opened it up and counted. With the money he found on his own he still needed $460. Jess rounded that up to $480—he couldn't spend all his money, after all, he still needed cash to buy things like cigarettes and Red Bull. He took the money, stuffing it into his jean's pocket. There wasn't a lot of money left, but as long as he replaced it in the next few weeks Lorelai would probably never discover what he had done.
After closing the drawer Jess made a mad dash down the stairs. His heart was beating so fast that it felt like it was about to burst out of his chest. He had just stolen from his mother. He couldn't believe it. He reached the living room as the front door jiggled, as if a key was being put in.
Jess hopped over to the couch and spread himself across it. He grabbed a random magazine off the coffee table. Lorelai entered the room.
"You would not believe the day I had," she said in a huff. She looked over at her son. "Cosmo?"
Jess looked down at the magazine he had picked up. It was one of his mother's. Just his luck.
Jess smirked. "Yeah, well, I really wanted to know the six tips to satisfying my man."
Lorelai looked down at him and glared. "You're up to something...but I'm too hungry to try to figure it out…Luke's?"
Jess pulled his backpack off the floor and started to look through it. "I'm busy," he said.
"Too busy to eat?"
"I've got homework."
"Which is code for 'I'm up to something'."
Sweat dripped down his forehead. Did Lorelai notice? Was she on to him? "It's code for 'I've got homework'."
"Fine, don't tell me." Lorelai walked away and to the kitchen. As her rummaging echoed down the hallway Jess could finally feel his heartbeat begin to slow. When she returned Lorelai had a box of Pop-Tarts in her hands. She tossed a package to Jess, not bothering to ask if he wanted one. "Do we really only have Pop-Tarts?" Lorelai tore open the package anyway and bit into the top one. She continued to speak with food in her mouth, "but seriously, if you're hiding a girl in the closet you should really let her out."
"I'm not hiding a girl in the closet."
"Boy? Either way, let them out! It's stuffy in there."
"I'm not hiding anyone in the closet, Mom, jeez!"
"Fine…but you are up to something, right?"
Jess looked back down at the magazine and didn't answer.
"It's still Cosmo," Lorelai pointed out.
Jess tossed the magazine to the floor and went back to searching through his bag. He pulled out a new book, a new Gaiman novel that he had just bought and hadn't had time to start yet, but Jess opened it up to the middle of the book anyway. People were more likely to leave you alone when you're in the middle of a book than the beginning. They assumed you're more involved in what you're doing. He wasn't concentrating on any words anyway.
"Okay, fine, don't tell me. Last thing I want is another fight with you. Just don't overwork yourself. I'll go pick up some takeout, okay? Luke's or Al's?"
Lorelai said down on the couch next to his feet. She reached over to feel his forehead but he pushed her hand away. "Are you feeling okay?" she asked.
"No. I'm feeling annoyed. Leave me alone." He got up and stormed into his room, slamming the door behind him. Surprisingly, Lorelai didn't follow him in. Good. He couldn't take the guilt of looking at her and continuing to lie. All he could do to cover it was was redirect his as anger toward Lorelai, which he knew she didn't deserve. Still, he'd rather hurt her that way than with the truth.
The next morning he bought the test answers of Tristan. And then the guilt only got worse.
Despite the brief reprieve from Jess's moodiness that weekend, as the week went on Lorelai realized his new attitude was here to stay. It was like living with a hormonal teenage ticking time bomb. Worse superhero name ever, by the way. His grumpiness could only be compared with dinner-rush-Luke's (better superhero name), that is when he wasn't avoiding Lorelai entirely. The Gilmore house had become an emotional health hazard and Lorelai had even started to avoid it, in favor of spending more time with Rory. Perhaps she was using the girl a little to fill the whole Jess was currently leaving in her heart by pushing her away.
Honestly, Lorelai was worried about her son. This just wasn't the Jess she knew and loved. Chilton was supposed to fix his misbehavior, but he was way worse than he ever was while attending Stars Hollow High. Sending him back to his old school had to be seriously considered. But if she did, what would Richard and Emily say? And would that really fix Jess's underlying issues?
Rory was the one thing in her life right now that was going well. As the week went on Rory opened up more and more to her. Now Lorelai knew the girl was from New York, her favorite color was yellow and she dreamed of traveling across the globe. The two talked for hours about backpacking across Europe, a dream Lorelai once had when she was Rory's age, but had to give up once she had Jess. Rory swore that nothing was going to get in her way of traveling.
Thursday evening, though, everything took a turn for the worse. What happened was something that would change her relationships forever. And it all started with some wet laundry. If only she had skipped her chores.
As Lorelai went onto the back porch to start another load she found everything in the dry soaking wet. "No, no, no!" she yelled, peeling through the dripping clothes. The machine hadn't been drying well for days, but when she tried to redo the load this time it wouldn't even start. "Dammit!" The last thing she needed right now was to make a costly call to the repairman. She could swing the money if she had to, but it was going to take a big chuck out of her takeout budget.
Lorelai went inside and picked the cordless off the kitchen table. There was one option she could call before she had to empty her wallet.
"Luke's," Luke answered. "Pick up or delivery?"
"Delivery," Lorelai said. "I'll take a lumberjack-looking handyman and a side order of Bert."
"Who the Hell is Bert?"
"That's what I call your toolbox, duh."
There was a loud sigh on the other line and then finally Luke asked. "What the Hell are you talking about?"
"My dryer broke. It's been making this gurgul-gurgul sound for days and not drying too well and now my clothes are soaked and it won't start at all."
"So call a repairman."
"Repairmen cost money. Please, Luke! I'll tell all the other ladies how sexy you are!"
"The other ladies don't need your input. Just put your clothes on a clothesline. Dryers are bad for the environment anyway."
"And risk smelling like a pine cone?"
There was another loud sigh. "Fine. I'll be over after the dinner rush."
"Thank you!" Lorelai cheered. "Oh, and could you bring over some pie!" she hung up before he could argue. Lorelai knocked on Jess's door and told him Luke was coming over with pie.
An hour later Luke was there, sans pie. Apparently, the night could get worse. After an argument about the lack of dessert Lorelai finally brought Luke out to the back porch and shined a flashlight for him while he looked it over. She couldn't hold it still though, which ended up causing another argument. Finally, Luke stood up and announced he couldn't fix it.
"Don't give me that look. I'm not magic. Call a real repairman."
"Will he bring me pie?"
Luke packed his tools back into Bert.
"Repairmen cost money," Lorelai said. "I need to start saving up to get Jeff and Melinda Bezos off my back."
Luke gave her a blank look.
"My parents…did I tell you about the loan?"
Luke shook his head and put Bert on the kitchen table as went back inside.
"I couldn't afford Chilton," she admitted. "Way out of my price range…so I asked for a loan. I've never taken anything from them, and the last thing I wanted was to be under their thumb again but…well it was for Jess. Anyway, the loan came with strings. We have to attend weekly Friday Night Dinners. We've been to two so far and they're terrible. Every time I go we just get into fights about how I got pregnant at sixteen and am the world's biggest disappointment."
"If they can't see how wonderful you turned out than they don't deserve to have someone like you as a daughter."
Lorelai cracked a smile. "Thanks."
"Okay, enough with the sincerity. Call a repairman."
Lorelai sighed. "Fine." She picked the phone up and handed it to Luke. "You make the call." She hurried out of the room while Luke yelled at her that he wasn't her servant, but she knew he was going to do it anyway, and probably get her a discount too. Luke was friends with everyone. Maybe he wasn't friendly, but when you feed the whole town they tend to like you.
Lorelai went upstairs and into her bedroom. The dresser caught her eye. That was where she kept her emergency fund. "And to think I was this close to affording some Jimmy Choos," she said to herself. She opened the dresser and pulled out the envelope. It felt light. She opened it. There was less than a hundred bucks inside.
Lorelai scratched her forehead. This made no sense. How could her money be gone? She hadn't used any of it since the last appliance emergency, not even when there was a sale at Bloomingdale's last month. Her first thought went to Jess. She didn't like that it did but he was the only other occupant of the house. The only other person who had real access to the money and knew where it was. But she couldn't believe her son would stoop to that level. He couldn't be so heartless.
Lorelai took a deep breath. She felt like the room was spinning. No, there was no way her Jess could do such a thing. There had to have been a break in. Lorelai looked around the room. Nothing else was missing. A break in that only stole the emergency fund? It was too absurd even for her to think.
She would have to ask him. And she would believe him, whatever he said. And even if he had taken it maybe he had a good reason and just forgot to tell her. There was no need to make accusations before she heard his side.
She heard a door downstairs open. Lorelai's whole body went tense and she briefly thought the imaginary robbers had returned to the scene of the crime before she realized it was probably just Jess or Luke moving around downstairs. She took another deep breath before going to meet them.
He was in the kitchen talking to Luke. Lorelai walked in on what seemed to be the end of a conversation. From context they seemed to be talking about her.
"It's like with drugs," Jess said. "Just say no."
"Have you ever tried saying no to your mother?"
"Hey now," Lorelai said and pointed her finger at the men. "Don't be talking about me without my presence. I want to hear all compliments addressed personally."
Jess rolled his eyes and walked back into his room. As always he closed the door a little too hard for Lorelai's liking. After a few seconds the radio blared the Sex Pistols.
"So what's the verdict?" Lorelai asked.
"Between 8 and 4 tomorrow," Luke said.
Lorelai made a face. "Don't think I heard you quite right."
"You know how these handymen work. They give you the runaround and screw you over backward."
"I don't hear you dialing back." Lorelai's voice had a very sing-song medley tune about it.
Luke grumbled something to himself and hit the redial button.
Lorelai walked over to her son's room and knocked. She didn't wait for him to tell her she could enter. He never did anyway.
"Hey, so can we talk?" she asked.
Jess was sitting on his bed with a notebook on his lap and textbook by his side. His blazer was and tie was tossed carelessly on the floor. Another intense study session it seemed.
"It's not like I can stop you," he said as he shut off his radio.
Lorelai picked up his blazer and tie and walked it over to the closet. She hung them up before sitting down next to him on his bed.
"So how's things going?" she asked awkwardly. How was she supposed to ask her son if he was stealing? She had never done this before. Would he be pissed? Lorelai knew she would have been if someone was accusing her of doing such things.
"Right." Lorelai nodded her head.
Jess scribbled out something on his notebook and groaned.
"Anything I can do to help?"
"You can get out."
Lorelai forced a smile. "In just a minute." She took a deep breath. "We need to talk about something."
Jess stopped writing and looked up. His gaze focused intently on her. "So now we come to the real reason you're beating around the bush."
"I'm that see-through, huh?"
Jess didn't respond.
"So you know my emergency fund? Some money out of it's gone missing. Now I'm not accusing you of anything. And if I was I would assume you'd have a very good reason for taking it. But I have to ask…" The words got stuck in her throat. She took a deep breath again while Jess continued to stare at her. Why did he have to make it so hard? It was so obvious what she was about to ask. "Did you take the money?"
Jess's eyes turned to slits. "No." One word. A simple answer.
Lorelai swallowed. He was pissed. As he should be. She was an awful mother. What kind of mother accused their child of theft? She stood up.
"Well thank you for being honest," she said. She walked to the door and stopped at it. She looked back at her son. He was looking at the notebook again but his concentration seemed to be gone. His pen was at a standstill. "I want to let you know I wasn't accusing you of anything. I just needed to ask."
"Get out!" He yelled at her. He picked up his pillow and threw it at the door.
Lorelai quickly ducked out of the room, feeling like she was going to cry. She absolutely deserved his wrath.
Luke was waiting by the counter. His eyes were wide. He obviously heard Jess's screaming. "Everything okay?" he asked.
"Yeah, just a rough day."
"You want me to talk to him?"
She shook her head. "Did you get me a better appointment?"
Just her luck. Nothing would go right for her today.
Luke took a couple steps toward Lorelai, reaching his hand out toward her shoulder, before freezing in place. "I should go," he said. He left.
The loneliness and isolation that she was left in was unbearable.
" 'Did you take the money?' Lorelai had asked.
He should have just come clean. He hadn't actually used the answers yet. He should've told Lorelai what he had done. Maybe she could have left an anonymous tip to the school about the cheating ring, got the test postponed and rewritten. Maybe that would even put an end to the ring too. Then Jess would have had an actual fair chance to study and compete against his classmates.
But what if he still failed again? No, he couldn't take that chance. So instead he lied and lashed out at Lorelai.
He was still regretting meeting with Tristan to buy the answers. The previous day he had waited outside the school for Tristan, chain-smoking cigarettes to try to starve off his nerves. Mr. Medina had walked past him, but seeing as Jess was 100 feet away from the school gates this time all Medina could do was sigh, give a brief lecture and walk away and onto campus. Jess had smirked until he remembered why he was waiting there. He was stealing answers for Medina's own test. He didn't exactly deserve to feel prideful right now.
When Jess saw Tristan pull into the student parking lot he tossed his latest cigarette butt to the ground and followed the car. He reached Tristan just as he was getting his backpack out of the backseat. Jess leaned against the side of the car and slipped an envelope into Tristan's hand.
Tristan raised an eyebrow. "What's this?"
"A birthday card," Jess said.
Tristan opened it and carefully looked inside at the green stack of cash without showing off the contents to anyone else in the area. Jess had delivered the 500 smackarons just as promised. Tristan put the envelope away in his bag, not even bothering to count the money. Then he handed a folder to Jess. Jess flashed it open just quick enough to see the first page. Sophomore Literature Shakespeare Test. Tristan had delivered the goods. Jess would be able to pass this test.
But now on Thursday evening Jess sat on his bed terrified to open the folder. Doing so really meant he was giving up and admitting defeat against the likes of Tristan. He wished he could just pretend to get sick and get a weekend delay for the test, but that would never work at a school like Chilton. There were no makeup tests there.
Finally, once Luke had left the house and Lorelai went back to her room, wrongly filled with guilt about her accusation against Jess, he opened the folder.
Friday morning Lorelai sat in her office, sipping her coffee. She had lost track of how many she'd had today. She still had a headache, though, and nothing she did seemed to make it go away.
After last night's accusation Jess became an absolute terror. He switched between giving her the silent treatment and screaming at her, and Lorelai couldn't bring herself to get mad at him because he had every right to feel that way. What kind of mother accuses her child of something like that? In the morning Babette came by and asked her if everything was alright with Jess. She couldn't come up with an excuse for why there was a screaming match in her house all of last night. They were about to become the topic of today's gossip.
What made today even worse was that she was about to have the same conversation about the missing money again, only this time with the sweetest person she knew. If Jess hadn't stolen the money, which she never really believed he had, then there was only one other logical explanation. An explanation she was only able to confront when she was positive there could be no one else who could have done the deed. The only other person who had been in the house, the only stranger, was Rory.
Rory seemed like a sweetheart, but it was also clear she had issues. She was a runaway. And as much as Lorelai wanted to see herself in the girl there was no denying there was probably a darker side to her that Lorelai just kept overlooking.
There was a knock on the door and Rory entered. "Michel said you wanted to see me?" she said.
Lorelai put her coffee cup down. She waved at the seat in front of her desk and Rory sat. There was a long moment of silence. Lorelai tapped her fingers on her desk. How did she start this? This was the Jess conversation all over again.
The silenced dragged on too long. Rory picked at her nails, obviously too scared to speak up.
Lorelai had to be the adult. After all, she called this meeting. She picked up the coffee and took another sip. Liquid courage, well her kind of liquid courage at least.
"So how are things going?"
Rory looked up at with her big blue eyes. They looked so innocent. How could Lorelai ever think someone so precious could ever do anything wrong? Rory blinked. "Good," Rory said.
It was a one-word answer like Jess usually gave, but this wasn't avoidance. The simple fact was that the question didn't require a long answer. Lorelai needed to stop the small talk and delaying the inevitable.
"We need to talk about something."
Rory stared at her and waited for Lorelai to continue.
"I have this emergency fund. And some money from it's gone missing."
Rory's eyebrows furrowed. "And...and you're asking me...are you asking me if I took it?"
"You're the only other person who's been in the house...besides Luke, but I was with him the whole time he was over. With you, well there was a little while you were alone. Plus you came over when it was just you and Jess and I don't know if he left you alone in my room, which is where the stash is, which, I should probably change now." Lorelai was rambling. She always did that when she was nervous.
"I didn't steal from you."
Lorelai felt a pit in her stomach. She didn't believe Rory. Something in her gut told her there was something terribly wrong with this situation. And that something had to be Rory.
"I don't think I can trust you anymore, Rory. And seeing how you're my employee, that's an issue."
Rory looked at the wall, no longer looking at Lorelai. She wiped her cheek. Was she crying?"
"I don't want to fire you," Lorelai said.
Rory looked back at her. Her eyes were moist. She had definitely started crying. "Then don't. Believe me when I say it wasn't me."
A few more tears trickled down her face. "I-" her voice came out with a croak. She closed her mouth and swallowed before speaking again. "I thought we were friends."
"I thought I was helping you," Lorelai said. "I still want to. Tell me what happened before Stars Hollow. Why did you come here? "
Lorelai was afraid she didn't have the stamina to take care of this girl. All of a sudden she had so much more admiration for Mia than ever before. How did Mia ever deal with her and Jess? She was a miracle and a saint, that was for sure. Lorelai now knew she wasn't like Mia.
When Rory refused to respond Lorelai said, "Is there any family I can contact to take you in. Maybe a family friend?"
"There's…no. There's no one." Rory's voice cracked again.
"I need to do something. Something has to change."
Rory stood up. "I'll leave."
"And go where, Rory? I want to help you but I don't know how anymore."
"You can't help me." Rory's voice was raised. "You said you would but then you treat me like a criminal the instant something goes wrong. It wasn't me. I don't know why you'd ever think it was me."
"Shut up!" Rory screamed. It surprised Lorelai. It seemed like it surprised Rory too.
"I've been nothing but kind to you," Rory said. "I've asked for nothing from you. I've taken nothing except things you offered. I don't deserve this treatment. I deserve a little trust." She ran out the door, slamming it behind her. Lorelai flinched.
This went all wrong. Lorelai wanted to help this girl, not send her back into the cold. She ran out after Rory but when Lorelai reached the lobby it was empty except for Michel behind the desk.
"Did you see where Rory went?" Lorelai asked.
Without taking his eyes off the magazine he was reading Michel pointed at the front door.
Odd, Lorelai thought. She would have thought Rory would have gone to the podding shed. That was her home after all and Rory never really explored the town much unless it was for a specific errand for Lorelai.
Lorelai stared at the door. The thought came to her. Was Rory going to come back? Or had she run away once again?