Virtual Gilmore Girls

Episode 8.05 "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia"
by AdinaRJ and Mrs. Dionysius O'Gall


Author's Note: Well, we're finally back from hiatus!  I hope you enjoy this "sweeps" episode, with a very special guest star.  I have to thank everyone who had a hand in this episode, because as always, it's a team effort.  Avery was terrific from the get-go, helping out when we got stuck in the storyboarding stage.  Lula Bo was our fantastic beta, who helped us through some troubled spots.  Also, sosmitten and Jenepel, without whom this wouldn't be possible.  And now, on with the show!



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"So, what are your big plans?" Lorelai's voice echoed from Rory's cellphone sitting on the hotel's bathroom vanity.

"Big plans for what?" Rory answered, twisting her hair up and securing it with a bobby pin.

"For Saturday!" Lorelai was indignant, and Rory could picture her mother standing with her hands on her hips.

"What's Saturday?" Rory asked distractedly, applying mascara.

"Rory!" came the disbelieving voice.

"Oh, right!" Rory replied, feeling stupid. "It doesn't really matter. I'll be working. Whatever."

"You can't 'whatever' your birthday," Lorelai mock-admonished. "You have to do something special."

"Special? Like what, use a sparkly pen for my notes?" Rory suggested half-heartedly as she struggled to draw a straight line with her eyeliner.

"Special-er," Lorelai responded emphatically. "Like..." Rory could almost hear the wheels turning in Lorelai's head and waited expectantly. "Like going to a tropical paradise to celebrate in style."

"Tropical paradise," Rory repeated, a note of skepticism in her voice.

"Yes!" Lorelai exclaimed. "Like Maui. Picture it, Rory. A limo—and not just one of those car service limos—picks you up right at the front door of the hotel."

"Mini-bar in the back?" Rory asked, playing along.

"Of course!" Lorelai said. "And the driver is Barry himself—"

"Barry?" Rory interrupted. "Who's Barry?"

"Barack Obama." Lorelai's voice held a note of disbelief.

"Of course," Rory allowed. "So Obama is driving the limo?"

"No," Lorelai corrected herself. "He's in the back of the limo, waiting to escort you. The driver is just some guy. Anyway, Barry has been reading your stories on him and he became such a big fan he had to see you. And he heard that it was your birthday so he wanted to do something special for you."

"Okay, I'm with you now," Rory said, leaning close to the mirror to inspect her chin.

"So Barry drops you off at the airport. But not just at the airport. You get a private jet."

"I really rate, don't I?" Rory interjected as she rooted through her makeup bag.

"Of course!" Lorelai said. "And you fly to Maui, getting anything you want on-board, and it's charged to the campaign. Barry makes sure his people are taken care of."

"When you get off the plane," she continued, "there'll be five guys waiting for you. All young, hot, and Polynesian. They hand you leis, drinks, and welcome you with kisses."

"Guys I just met are kissing me?" Rory asked skeptically.

"On the cheek! It's what they do! Don't insult their culture, Rory."

"Sorry. That wasn't very nice of me." Rory brought the phone back into the main part of the room. "So they kiss me..."

"Right. They kiss you, and..." Lorelai paused, and Rory put the phone down, searching under the bed. "They bring you to a big luau!"

"Mmm-hmm," Rory called out distractedly. She surfaced with a pair of black pumps. "Aha," she said to them. "There you are."

"Everything okay, hon?" Lorelai asked when Rory picked up the phone again.

"You know, Mom, I don't even really care about my birthday this year." Rory sat down on the edge of the bed. "It doesn't matter that much."

"What?!" Lorelai said disbelievingly. "Doesn't matter!? It's your birthday!"

"No, I'm not kidding," Rory said with a small shrug, even though her mother couldn't see her. "It's just not important."

"What about Maui?" Lorelai asked. "And did I mention that on the plane is a triple-chocolate, seven-layer cake? And a vat of Luke's best coffee?"

"I'd love Luke's coffee anytime," Rory told her. "But Saturday's just another day. I don't even remember what town we're going to be in. Not like that matters much, either. It's all the same."

"Sweets, are you sure you're okay?" Lorelai's voice was concerned.

"I'm fine, Mom," Rory assured her hurriedly. "I have to go; I'm about to be late. I'll call you later." She hung up the phone and stuffed it into the outside pocket of her bag, walking quickly out the door, smoothing her hair as she went.

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Lorelai noticed the Kinko's package sitting on the front desk. "Hey, when did this get here?" she wondered, shifting her weight (her adorable new shoes were still in the breaking-in phase) and opening it to find a stack of flyers that proclaimed "10 Cozy Ways to Spend a Chilly October Afternoon" in bright, garish colors. There was a small "Call Kirk for more details!" in the corner.

"Wait, Kirk also works for Kinko's?" she muttered to herself, as she approached Michel and the desk, not quite ready to hear the likely myriad protests from Michel against the 10 activities, which included Miss Patty's latest town production.

The universe would need to wait for the answer to the Kirk question, Lorelai thought, as her train of thought was interrupted by the desk's main phone. Lorelai stopped and engaged in a brief staring contest with Michel, while he languidly looked from the phone to her, then away. Exasperated, Lorelai reached out to take the call.

"Dragonfly Inn! It's October, the leaves are colorful, how may I help you?"

"Lorelai, this is highly improper. As the proprietor of—"

"And a fine good morning to you too!" Lorelai interrupted. "It's always refreshing to be greeted so warmly by my own father."

"Lorelai! No need to engage in verbal sparring," Richard Gilmore requested of his daughter.

"Okay, does Mom have yet another idea about the spa?" Lorelai inquired, sagging her body against the desk.

"No, Lorelai. Actually, I have another matter to broach with you. Your library, or rather, the holes in it."

Lorelai stuck her tongue out at Michel, who had been observing her with disdain and slipped a post-it note to her across the desk, with the words "NO PERSONAL CALLS" printed upon it.

"Hold on a sec," she requested, as she made her way around to Michel's side of the desk. "The Stars Hollow Library has holes in it? Isn't that what we pay taxes for? Well not, the holes, but the fixing of the holes..."

"The Dragonfly Inn Library, Lorelai."

"There's holes in the inn library? Just tell me where, and I'll have Luke take a look. He can fix it, and if they're big, he'll get Tom to take care of those."

Richard sighed in exasperation. "Not that kind of hole. Gaps. In your library's collection." When Lorelai didn't respond, he continued. "Actually, I'm happy you brought up the inn's structural integrity. I should hope that you are not relying on the kindness of... friends like Luke when it comes to the upkeep of the inn."

"I have always depended on the kindness of strangers..." Lorelai drawled.

Richard continued, ignoring her. "It's very important, Lorelai, to keep the inn properly maintained. When your insurance man comes to inspect your property each year, your rates will go up if the inspector determines that the inn's maintenance program is lacking."

"Luke can take care of any and all holes. Anything else you need from me?" Lorelai curtly asked her father.

"Lorelai. I'm trying to tell you that there are serious gaps in your book collection."

"Well why didn't you say so in the first place? Look, I'd love to keep chatting, but the inn is hosting a town program and I really need to—"

Richard once again interrupted her. "I suggest that you inventory the book collection, then let me know which books you'd like to borrow from my personal library, to fill said gaps. With the spa, the inn will now be a first-class establishment, and first-class establishments adhere to a certain standard, as I am sure you are aware..."

Even more irritated by Richard's condescension about the inn than his meddling, Lorelai snapped back with "Why yes, our erotica section is certainly sub-par."

Richard's tone of voice became small and quiet. "Your mother and I, Lorelai, are only trying to help."

"I'm sorry," Lorelai genuinely admitted, "it's just that I've got a lot going on, especially today. We're hosting the new Stars Hollow Sister Cities program, and Sookie is not..."

"I realize that, Lorelai, but you really need to make time for this. It's important. The way the inn presents itself," Richard continued, oblivious to his daughter's hectic schedule. "This is very important."

"Thank heaven, for little girls..." Michel softly crooned. "Problems with Daddy?"

Lorelai shot an exasperated look in his direction. "Can you hold for a minute? Manny—umm, Sookie's replacement, just came out of the kitchen."

"All right, but not for long," Richard assented, as Lorelai placed the handset on the desk.

"Speaking of problems, Lorelai," Michel continued, "we must discuss my gargantuan workload. I am not a dumping ground for the work a wayward chef leaves behind."

Lorelai ignored him—Michel was just being Michel, she thought. She handed him the top flyer.

"I'd like you to make sure each guest gets one of these." She indicated the flyers and turned her attention to the chef.

"As always, I must do the work of people who cannot control their reproductive urges," Michel continued in his most put-upon voice.

"Ma'am, I need to let you know that I cannot work with the greens."

"What's wrong with them?" Lorelai asked. "We're using the same supplier."

"They are simply not up to the standard I am used to," Manny continued.

"I'll tell you what—make do with what we have today and I'll take a look later and see what we can do for tomorrow," Lorelai said, placing a hand on Manny's shoulder and turning to guide him back to the kitchen.

"Hmmmpf!" A delicate French-accented harrumph redirected her attention to Michel, who picked up the phone between two fingertips, treating it like some disease-ridden entity.

Her father—on hold, Lorelai remembered. She quickly grabbed the phone from Michel and spoke into it. "I'll call you later—tomorrow," she quickly amended, "'Bye," as she abruptly hung up the phone.

"Now where was I?" she absentmindedly asked herself as she turned her attention back to the front desk. "The activity flyersI could have sworn I left them here..." Lorelai rummaged through the paperwork on the desk.

Suddenly, a riot of color in the trashcan caught her eyes. Damn that Michel! She was reaching into the trash to retrieve the stack of paper when suddenly, a to-go coffee cup sailed into the trash, splattering coffee all over the top sheets.

"Michel!" she angrily mumbled, "We need this. Not just to keep our guests busy, but to advertise the Sister City skit!" It was moments like this that made her want to pull not only her own, but his hair out as well. She reached in, grabbed the flyers, crumpled the caffeinated ones back into the trash, and placed them on the desk. "Guess I'll have to take care of this myself," she griped, and began sorting and folding.

No sooner had she completed the first set, when her cell phone rang. With even more frustration, she checked caller ID. Seeing that it was her father, she set the phone on silent, and placed it back in her pocket.

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The afternoon sun blazed through the bus windows, and Rory angled her laptop screen for what seemed like the hundredth time to reduce the glare. She sighed heavily, looking over her notepad, and added a few sentences to a sparse Word document, going back and deleting half of the words almost immediately. Shaking her head, she switched from her article to a to-do list. Maybe some distraction was what she needed. "Laundry. Call Grandpa. Buy toothpaste." Frowning, she added: "Buy souvenirs for Sookie's kids and Lane's boys."

"Having trouble?" came a saccharine-sweet voice from behind her.

Rory looked up, startled. She'd almost forgotten she wasn't alone. "Oh. Meredith."

"You look stressed," Meredith said with faux concern. "Can I look over what you have so far?" She peered over Rory's shoulder. "You're worse off than I thought," she said with a small chuckle.

Rory glanced down at her screen. "Oh, crap," she muttered, feeling like an idiot. Quickly, she switched away from her to-do list and back to the article on her screen. "It's okay. I can handle it," she said, indicating her notes.

"Are you sure?" Meredith pressed. "I know you're new to this. I've had lots of experience in this field, and I just thought I could offer some expertise, critique your work." Meredith played with her pearls. "Anything to make it better, right?"

"It's fine," Rory muttered, trying to ignore her and concentrate on her notes. "Really. Thanks."

"I don't mind," Meredith continued.

"Meredith, she said she doesn't need your help. Leave it alone," Patrick interrupted.

Rory looked up, surprised, and locked eyes with Patrick. "Thanks," she said, surprised and slightly uncomfortable.

"Patrick, I was just trying to be nice!" Meredith protested.

"Leave it alone," he repeated, still looking at Rory.

"Fine, fine, fine..." Meredith put her hands up and walked away.

Rory realized she was still staring at Patrick. She turned away quickly, murmuring another "Thanks."

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"Welcome to Philadelphia, City of Brotherly Love," the sign proclaimed proudly as the bus chugged along.

"Philly!" came a shout from the back of the bus.

"Birthplace of The Twist," Harlan announced.

Rory had to chuckle aloud at that. "Really?" she asked.

"Absolutely. Chubby Checker was from South Philly," Harlan affirmed.

"Cool," Rory said, and made a mental note to share that with Lorelai later.

"It's also the birthplace of this country," Darshana added, and was met with laughs.

"Hey, look, there's Citizens Bank Park," Patrick noted a few minutes later. "Home of the failing Phillies."

"They're not that bad!" Meredith protested. "They did well enough to get to where they are now."

"Sure," Patrick volleyed back. "That's why Colorado beat them last night."

"They'll come back!" One of the other guys chimed in. "Rollins will give them a good fight!"

Meredith nodded. "J-Roll is the best."

"'J-Roll'." Patrick snorted. "That's almost as bad as 'A-Rod'."

Rory looked around at her colleagues, completely lost. Phillies, she knew, was a baseball team. That's about as much as she knew, though. Was it playoff time? She almost wanted to ask Darshana to go back to talking about the history of the US. She remembered quite a bit from history class, plus help from seeing the movie 1776 several times. That would be a discussion she could contribute to.

"What about the Eagles?" someone said.

Rory smiled. Eagles, she knew. What that had to do with Philly, though, she had no clue. "'Take it Easy'?" she offered.

"McNab!" a voice shouted.

"Overrated!" someone called back.

"He's totally my pick for Fantasy Football," James contributed.

Right, Rory thought. Football. She should have realized they weren't talking about the band. She closed her laptop, officially giving up on getting any work done, and looked out the window.

"Hey," said a voice beside her. Rory looked up, surprised to see Patrick sitting next to her. "We're coming into the old part of the city here," he told her. "I think that field there," he pointed out the window, "is the one where Ben Franklin flew his kite."

Rory gave a small smile, grateful for the company and conversation. "Amazing," she commented. She shifted in her seat slightly, wishing she could have come back with a wittier response. Sometimes she felt like her name was Lorelai Gilmore for nothing. All she could think about, however, was the article. Idly, she wondered if Ben Franklin ever had problems like she did.

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Later, Rory finally was settled in her hotel room, the television on for background noise. She looked over the next few days' schedule, and set her cell phone alarm for 8AM. She had the whole evening ahead of her to do whatever she wanted. Dinner would have to come at some point, but right now she was so glad to be off the bus that she didn't really feel much like moving off the bed.

"I think," she said aloud, "that a nap would be a good thing right about now." She lay down, loosening her hair from its messy bun (it had been impeccable this morning), and curled up hugging an extra pillow.

Fifteen minutes later, Rory was still wide awake. "That was a fantastic idea," she told herself. "Guess I'm not tired!" She grabbed her laptop bag from the floor and hoisted it onto the table, figuring she'd try to get some of the article written.

However, when twenty minutes had passed, and she had only one sentence written, she realized this wasn't going to work, either. "So much for being productive," she said under her breath. She looked out the window, and sighed disgustedly with the gray weather. "I thought it was always sunny in Philly," she muttered to herself. Taking her cell phone from the bedside table, she flipped it open, pressing the speed dial for Lorelai. She quickly pressed "end" before it went through, deciding that she couldn't be calling Mommy every ten minutes.

Absently, Rory picked up the remote and flipped through the channels, finding nothing even remotely interesting on any of the hotel's meager fifteen channels. Looking at her phone again, she ran down the directory. There had to be someone she needed to call that she didn't previously have a chance to talk to. Briefly, she considered calling people she hadn't spoken to in years, then thought better of it. "Good thing drunk dialing doesn't extend to boredom," Rory muttered to herself.

She tossed the phone down on the bed, and took the phone book out of the drawer. Maybe she could find something fun to order in for dinner. She flipped through the business listings, giggling to herself at some of the funny names. "Trinity," she read aloud. "Hmm... New Age or Christian? Or both?" she wondered. "Trout. That's... specific." She ran her finger down a few more names, finally landing on one that sounded familiar. "Truncheon Books, huh?" She reached for her phone and dialed before she could change her mind.

After three rings, someone picked up. "Truncheon Books, this is Jess."

"Wow, you sound so professional," Rory commented, trying not to let her voice shake with nervousness.

There was a slight pause on the other end of the phone, and then "Hey," came the slightly surprised greeting.

"Hi," Rory returned. "How are you?"

"I'm—I'm good," Jess returned, his tone growing more confused.

"You know," Rory said, "I'm really glad it was you who answered. If it'd been someone else, I would have had to come up with a reason why I needed to speak to you. 'What is this in regards to?' they would have asked."

"What would you have said?" Jess asked, his voice a mixture of teasing and curiosity.

"I would have said..." Rory paused, trying to come up with something good. "That I was a disgruntled reader who needed to talk to you about your book. I would have insisted on speaking to you, and I wouldn't have let them talk me out of it." She felt her initial nervousness subsiding.

"They wouldn't stand a chance," Jess agreed. "So what's going on?"

"I'm in town," Rory told him. "I thought maybe we could get together."

"You're in town," Jess repeated. "Here, in Philly?"

"That's what the phone book says," she returned. "Anyway, I have some time tomorrow evening. Do you want to meet up? It'd have to be somewhere I can walk to, because I don't have a car."

"Or knowledge of the trains?" Jess added. "Don't worry; we'll find something good."

Rory smiled as she hung up; now there was something to look forward to. It seemed there was always something big happening in her life when her life and Jess's crossed paths. Sometimes, like now, she'd been floundering. Something about Jess always seemed to give her a push. Lately, it'd been in the right direction, but she couldn't always say that. Hopefully, finding Truncheon in the phone book hadn't been just a coincidence.

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Luke stood at the baggage claim carousel, impatiently waiting for his luggage to arrive. He normally packed a light duffel, which he stowed under his seat, but Lorelai had convinced him to bring various reminders of a Connecticut Fall—and the town of Stars Hollow—as gifts for April, so he'd over-packed. He looked around and noted that the people milling about the carousel were a tired mix of New Englanders, New Mexicans, and others, all eager to leave the over six-hour flight time and the Albuquerque airport behind them.

Luke was exhausted after the nearly day-long flight across the country. He'd spent much of the time on the plane thinking about how difficult this journey must be for April. He was uncomfortable and nervous enough; he couldn't image how it must be for a 14-year-old girl traveling alone. When he had booked his flight (online, on Kirk's computer) April had coached him via instant messenger as to the merits of the various connecting airports. He finally chose Minneapolis over Cincinnati, mainly on the strength of April's recommendation (and in spite of Lorelai's smirk-laden warning to stay out of the men's room.)

Thinking of Lorelai, and noticing that the luggage carousel had still not begun rolling, Luke decided to pull out his cell phone and call Lorelai. With the two-hour time difference, it would be close to the end of the business day back in Stars Hollow.

"Hi hon," Lorelai greeted him even before he got a chance to say her name. "How's April?"

"I'm not there yet. Waiting on all those bags you made me pack," he grumped.

"You'll be thanking me when you share the goodies with April and see the big smile she'll have on her face," Lorelai assured him. "She'll have her own little corner of Stars Hollow in New Mexico. So are you gonna buy a great big sombrero, to keep your Mountie hat company?"

"Don't you wish."

"I can think of many uses for a sombrero, señor."

"You're crazy," Luke informed her. "But you know what's even crazier? Flying. It's bad enough that it takes almost six hours to fly to see my kid, but first there was a weather delay—don't see how the weather in Dallas has anything to do with Hartford. And they made us wait on the plane. Then we finally took off for Minneapolis, and every damn man on the plane had to use the restroom. Took off on time from there, but then there were mechanical problems, and we had to circle Albuquerque for almost an hour until that was cleared up. And now, my luggage may never make it to the world's slowest baggage carousel."

"Aw, poor poor ranting baby," Lorelai soothed. "Did you have any problem getting through security?"

"With my little baggy of girlie-sized toiletries?" Luke said, still irritated.

"Well, if it was up to me, I'd join the TSA and at least make sure you'd get frisked," Lorelai teased. "Hey, when you get back, maybe I can wear the sombrero and frisk you."

Luke sighed, and patiently explained. "I don't have a sombrero. People here dress just like anywhere else."

"Your own very special TSA agent, Luke, wearing only a sombrero." Lorelai's emphasis on 'only' brought a smile on his face, just as the baggage carousel sprung to life.

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Glancing at her watch, Lorelai decided to take a break. After the somewhat rocky morning, her day had flown by uneventfully. Lorelai stopped in the kitchen, grabbed a cup of coffee, and walked towards the Dragonfly's large event room.

The inn generally did not host town events. In fact, the last such event Lorelai could recall was poor little Chin-Chin's funeral. Which of course, was also the official end of her marriage. The memory made Lorelai shudder, and she quickly ducked into the room so as to fill her head with happier thoughts.

Miss Patty was rehearsing the official fall play, which was celebrating Stars Hollow's new sister city program. Mrs. Kim had recommended a Korean town as a match, and Miss Patty was now directing a cadre of little girls and boys, all trying to pronounce Mungyeong.

"I don't think they're supposed to be goose-stepping, Kirk," Miss Patty advised the young man.

"It's South, not North Korea," Mrs. Kim interjected. "Beautiful tourist city. Many natural sights and historical landmarks."

"I still say that Seoul would have been a better match," Kirk opined as the children about-faced and began a graceful Korean martial arts motion.

Kirk had wanted a bigger city, and truth be told, a bigger part in the ceremony, and Lorelai laughed as she waved "Hi" to Patty and respectfully nodded in Mrs. Kim's direction.

Seeing Lorelai, Kirk made a beeline for her. "Tell her I'm better at this than that kid over there, Lorelai," he complained. "Just because he's little, doesn't mean he's cuter than me"

"Davey? Sookie's little Davey?" Lorelai shook her head. "Kirk, why don't you take Lulu out to a nice Korean restaurant tonight..." she suggested, as she winked at Davey and left to return to her office, satisfied that the production seemed to be coming nicely together. The dance hall was having new floors put in, so Lorelai had suggested they use the ballroom at the Dragonfly, figuring it would also be a good way to boost the inn's business.

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"This is it." The orange-and-white Herrera cab pulled onto El Caballo Ranch Drive. "Just a few houses down," the cabbie informed Luke.

Luke looked out at the quiet, empty street. Strange-looking trees, he thought. Definitely not New England in the fall.

The cab pulled up in front of a low-slung adobe home. "This is it, señor." He turned down the mariachi music blasting on the radio. "Eighteen dollars, señor."

Luke got out of the cab and pulled out his wallet, handing the cabbie a twenty. "Gracias, muchas gracias." Luke looked at the cabbie's license to get this name. "Armando. Gracias." Armando had in the meantime opened the trunk and placed Luke's bags on the curb.

"El cambio?" the cabbie inquired.

"Keep the change." Luke nodded.

As the cab drove off, Luke hesitated for a moment as he observed the various types of cactus on Anna's front lawn. He reached down to take his bags and make his way to the front door. But before he straightened himself, he took a hit square in the solar plexus from a blur that flew at him out of the house.

"Dad! You're here!"

April was hugging him, and he dropped his bags and held his daughter tightly to him.

"I'm so glad you're here!" she squealed. "I tracked your flight online and have been waiting at the window for you to get here. There's a site where you can watch the planes land and they tell you which flight they are. I saw you circle the airport a few times. There wasn't a gate open for you, so it's like driving around the block when you can't find a parking spot. I wanted to watch you get off the plane, but the camera was only outside."

Luke placed a shy kiss atop her head. Was it possible that she had grown? He couldn't recall her head reaching up this high.

"Come inside, Dad!" April continued, tugging at his hand, and pulling him towards the door of her new home.

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Once inside the Nardini home, he closed the door behind him and took a good look at April. They both grinned at each other.

"I've got so many plans for you," April informed him in an exaggerated manner.

"At least let him put his bags down, honey," Anna requested, as she entered the foyer.

"Anna," Luke greeted his child's mother in a flat tone.

"Luke. Glad you could finally make it out here," Anna coolly returned his greeting.

"I'm so excited you're here," April said again, bouncing up and down.

"Don't you have some homework to take care of?" her mother suggested.

"It's Fall Break! Or Fall Recess, as they call it these days. Political correctness and all," April knowingly informed her father. "It's all done."

"Well go check anyway," Anna suggested.

Once April had run off to her room, Anna turned her attention back to Luke.

"I hope this doesn't interfere with April's activities, Luke. It's really hard on her to fly clear across the country all the time, but this...visit, being her house can...disrupt her routine. But she's really been looking forward to this for so long; she almost didn't think it was going to happen—it seemed too good to be true."

Luke strove to keep an even keel. "Well Anna, I do have the diner, and it's not always easy to just leave."

"I'm sure your other commitments keep you busy too," Anna slyly noted.

"You mean Lorelai? I told you last week, Lorelai is in my life. That isn't going to change."

"I wonder how much time April really spends with you when she visits, Luke," Anna continued. "April couldn't stop talking about her the last time she came back from visiting. I'm happy to see that you're together again, but it's not good for April to have to constantly wonder if you'll still be together when she goes back East."

Luke, clearly uncomfortable with Anna's oblique attack on his relationship with Lorelai, rocked back and forth on his heels. "Like I told you, Lorelai is part of my life. Look, Anna, maybe it's not such a good idea for me to stay here. It was April's idea, but maybe I should just find a motel."

"No, Dad, stay here!" April returned, and tugged on his duffel. "I made a special rock garden for the guest room," she informed him. "There are labels on all the rocks, and they're all grouped by..."

Luke laughed, and followed his daughter down the hall.

Once in the guest room, April picked up a computer printout and handed it to her dad. "Your schedule, silly!" she explained. "I thought we'd start by exploring this trail along the Rio Grande."

"Oh yeah?" Luke prompted. "Sounds like fun. Get outside..."

"It's so great, Dad. Coyotes, turtles, eagles, geese, woodpeckers, owls, hawks and more."

Luke interrupted her. "Wait a minute. Coyotes?"

"Yeah! They're so interesting! Did you know they've found some in New York City? I've even seen them here on the street in broad daylight!"

"Isn't that dangerous?"

April laughed. "Not as long as you're not a little puppy or cat. Mrs. Ramirez, she lives down the street, she has one of those Paris Hilton yappy dogs. It just disappeared one day." She gave Luke a smug, knowing look. "Coyotes."

Luke sat down on the edge of the bed and sighed. "And you're sure it's safe?"

"We'll go first thing tomorrow morning!" April informed him, and hearing the phone ring, ran down the hall to her room.

Luke looked around the room, not quite sure of what he should do. This really was a bad idea, he thought, staying in Anna's house. Should he unpack? Stay in his room? Ask April for a tour of the house? Risk running into Anna if he went to the kitchen or living room? At least he was only there for a brief visit, but he still felt awkward. Next time, he'd make reservations at one of those suite hotels.

"Grandma sleeps here. You're lucky that I helped decorate the room." April matter-of-factly interrupted him, standing in the doorway. "Otherwise it would look like Old Lady Central in here." She walked over to him and sat next to him on the bed, bouncing up and down. "Aren't you going to unpack your stuff?"

Luke breathed a sigh of relief. "How's your grandmother doing?"

"She's coming along, whatever that means."

He reached for one of his bags. "Umm, I brought you something..."

April's eyes grew wide. "Presents!"

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Later, Rory was sitting with Jess at the coffee shop he'd recommended, about two blocks from her hotel. It was a decent little place, kind of homey, with lots of funky decorations on the walls. There were tables and chairs as well as sofas and other unconventional seating.

It was kind of funny, Rory mused to herself, just sitting talking with Jess. Every time she saw him, she felt a combination of nervous butterflies and an overall sense of calm. Familiar, yet there was always something surprising. She hadn't been sure he'd even talk to her, after the way they'd left their last meeting. But, as was always the case with them, the past was the past, and no use dwelling on it.

"So you know that Mom and Luke are back together," Rory said conversationally.

"Yeah, Luke mentioned it," he said, raising his eyebrows. "I think those two have had more starts and stops than..." Jess trailed off.

Rory looked down at her coffee. She knew he'd been about to say "than we did," and she didn't want to go there. "I think they're in it for the long haul now," she commented, trying to stay on the subject at hand.

"If they get married," Jess commented, leaning forward, "that means that we'll sort of be related."

Rory's head jerked upwards. "What?!" she exclaimed.

"Yeah," Jess said with a smirk. "Cousins, or step-cousins, or cousins-in-law... I never remember how it works."

"Oh, my god!" Rory said, her jaw dropping. "I never thought of that. That's... that's so weird."

"Yeah," Jess agreed. "But is it weirder to think of Luke married?"

Rory shrugged. "Nah, I think it's weirder that you and I will be related." She paused to take a bite of food. "Speaking of relatives," she said, "do you talk to Liz often? I barely know her, but she's always so nice to me."

Jess shrugged. "We talk sometimes. You know, keep in touch. I think I actually talk to Luke more often, and that's strange enough as it is."

"That's not strange," Rory told him with a smile. "Come on, you and Luke are two of a kind."

"Two of a kind?" Jess repeated, raising his eyebrows. "I hardly think so."

"A great duo," Rory continued, grinning.

Jess rolled his eyes good-naturedly. "Liz came by to visit about a month ago," he said. "I can't believe how big Doula is every time I see her, or see a new picture." Jess scratched his head. "I never thought I'd care much, really."

"It's weird having a little sister who's practically an entire generation younger than you, isn't it?" Rory sympathized. "Gigi was born when I was seventeen, a whole year older than my mom was when she had me."

"Yeah, it's strange," Jess agreed. "I still think of myself as an only child."

"I know, me too!" Rory exclaimed. "It's that bizarre situation where we have siblings, yet not in the traditional sense."

"Yeah... guess that's just us. We were always abnormal." Jess smirked, and took a sip of his coffee. Rory stuck her tongue out at him. He shook his head. "Anyway, so I hear you're working the campaign trail?" At her questioning look, he gave a half smile and shrugged. "I have my ways of knowing things."

"It's crazy," Rory said, brushing her hair back off her face. "I've just been at one hotel after another, when I'm not on the bus. I barely remember what it's like to not be on the road."

"I know," Jess agreed. "When I was on the book tour, it was the same way."

"Couldn't have been exactly the same," Rory protested.

"The road is the road," Jess waved a hand as if to say it didn't matter.

Rory laughed. "The road is the road?" she repeated. "You learn that from Kerouac?"

"No," Jess protested. "I've been around. I just know what it's like is all."

"You were alone, though," Rory reminded him. "You weren't on a bus with a bunch of other writers, all writing about the same thing."

"True," Jess allowed. "There was that. So," he said, "Obama, huh? You like his policies? You really believe in him?" There was a sardonic note in his voice.

"It doesn't matter," Rory told him. "I'm an impartial journalist. I'm not writing editorials."

Jess nodded, and Rory wasn't sure if he believed her or not. She wasn't sure of she believed herself, either.

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"Nora and Vivian just returned from a week in Arizona," Emily informed Lorelai that night at Friday Night Dinner.

"I hope they weren't in Tucson. You know how I hate Tucson," Richard volunteered.

"This is delicious, Mom," Lorelai tapped her fork lightly on her half-eaten Chicken Napoleon, hoping to deflect any discussion of spas for the evening.

Emily continued. "They stayed at the Sanctuary, in Paradise Valley. Said it was beautiful—very relaxing. And they brought back some information—we can look at some brochures after dinner, Lorelai. I'm eager to hear how the plans for the spa are coming along."

"Are these pecans?" Lorelai asked, stabbing at her chicken.

"Don't ignore your mother," Richard admonished.

"I was talking to some facialists and masseuses at the club. They're very eager to come work for us, Lorelai."

Lorelai's eyebrows rose at Emily's use of the phrase 'work for us', while Richard nodded knowingly. "They had some suggestions for you, didn't they?"

"Yes they did!" Emily continued, "Between us, I think they're a little envious of our new business venture, Lorelai. It's been the talk of the DAR!" Putting down her fork and knife, she suddenly became animated in a way that Lorelai rarely saw. "We'll put in some wet rooms, for treatments like sea-salt scrubs. And Vichy showers are an absolute necessity."

Lorelai folded her napkin and took a deep breath. "Don't you think that's a little ambitious for a small inn like the Dragonfly?"

Before Emily could respond, Richard enthusiastically added, "Not at all, Lorelai. With advertising, Lorelai—with the right kind of advertising, targeting the appropriate clientele, you should do very well."

Emily nodded in agreement.

"The flowers are beautiful tonight, Mom. Tropical?" Lorelai continued to avoid discussing the spa.

Oblivious, Richard continued in spite of Lorelai's latest attempt to derail the spa discussion. "I have a suggestion for you, Lorelai. Come to the Club with me, have lunch, and we'll plan a presentation to the ladies."

Lorelai protested. "I haven't been to the club in years, not for lunch, let alone for any sort of meeting." She looked defiantly at Richard. "Why now all of a sudden?"

"Well Lorelai," Richard answered, somewhat hurt. "I just thought it was a good idea, that you might like it. Might be good for your business. Think of the networking opportunity, Lorelai. Networking," he reminded her, "is a very critical part of doing business."

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"Last week," shared Rory, "I was in Indiana. And there was this diner there. It was great—best coffee I've found outside of New England."

"Glad you clarified," Jess teased. "I was going to call Luke and tell him you found a replacement."

"Never!" Rory laughed. "This diner was nothing like Luke's. It was pretty traditional, as far as diners go. There was this older lady working there the first day, and she was wearing a peach dress, like it was the '50s or something. Kept calling me 'honey'." Rory shook her head. "It was really good—better than anything else I'd found—but I think I was expecting it to be more like Luke's."

"Nothing's like Luke's," Jess commented. "No one's like Luke."

"That's for sure," Rory agreed. "I can't imagine Luke's reaction to a place like LaSalle's."

"Luke's should be on the Food Channel," Jess said, grinning mischievously. "In a Diners Across America special."

"Oh, that's hilarious!" Rory said. "He'd go nuts! I wonder if he'd throw out the camera crew."

"That's half the fun," Jess returned.

Rory giggled, then sobered up. "When I was in that diner, there were a bunch of people from town talking about politics—all about Obama and how they don't like him. It was really... I don't know. It was strange to hear them talking like that. I've really only been hearing the official stuff. Sometimes the journalists joke around and stuff, but not really like that."

"Maybe they don't like him because he stinks?" Jess suggested.

Rory shook her head. "Jess, that's not—"

"No," Jess interrupted. "Don't you remember that interview that his wife gave? "

"Right!" Rory said. "About how he leaves his socks all over the floor, and—"

"How his daughters don't want to be near him in the morning because he's 'stinky and snore-y'," Jess finished.

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"Thank you, Consuela," Emily nodded towards the maid, then noticing the scowl on Richard's face, turned to him. "No Richard, you cannot have this á la mode."

"Dad, I hope you're still following your diet," Lorelai prodded.

"Apple strudel is just not the same without that something extra," Richard grumbled.

"A small sacrifice to make," Emily added.

"Says the woman who does not understand the allure of chocolate," Lorelai remarked.

Richard took a bite of the strudel. "By the way," he addressed his daughter, "you never did resume our discussion about your collection."

Emily frowned. "Collection?"

"Yes," Richard continued, "Lorelai, you'll want your guests to know that the Dragonfly Inn is upscale. And that means having a complete library at their disposal."

"People come to the Dragonfly to relax, not to get a Ph.D.," Lorelai quipped. "Besides, Dad, the Dragonfly's never had an image problem before, well maybe except for that time when it was associated with sores and boils..."

Noticing that Richard did not get the reference to Taylor's ill-fated attempt at renaming the streets of Stars Hollow, Lorelai sighed as Richard continued. Her thoughts drifted to Luke as she vaguely heard Richard question her about this book and that book. She wondered if Luke and April were going out for Mexican.

"Lorelai!" Emily's sharp voice interrupted her reverie. "I don't think you've heard a word your father just said. Are you paying attention?"

"I'm sorry, Mom, Dad. There's a lot going on right now." She sighed loudly, then relented and smiled towards her father. "I'll look into it, I promise. And Mom, thank you for dinner. It was outstanding."

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Jess was relaying a story about one of Truncheon's writers, but Rory couldn't concentrate. She nervously twisted her napkin in her hands, thinking about her own writing problems.

"What?" Jess asked, stopping his story abruptly.

"What?" Rory looked up at him, confused.

Jess indicated Rory's hands. "If you've taken up origami, you really suck at it. What's wrong?"

"Oh, it's just..." Rory started, then paused.

"Don't tell me 'nothing'," Jess warned her. "I can see it's not."

"It's my writing," she confessed. "It... well, it kinda sucks."

"Doubtful," Jess commented. "But go on. Why does it suck?"

"It's boring," Rory told him. "My editor keeps telling me how it's dry, it's redundant, I need a new angle, etc. I've been working my ass off — it's an expression, Jess!" she interrupted herself when she saw his eyes flicker downward.

"Sorry," he said with an impish grin. "Go on."

Rory shook her head. "The point is, I'm just not as good at this as I always thought. I don't understand how to make it better. I can't find any new angles."

Jess was quiet for a moment, and Rory relaxed a little. "You know, you seemed really into it when you were telling me about that diner," Jess reminded her.

"Yeah..." Rory agreed softly.

"Maybe, uh, maybe you should get out more — you know, see what people have to say about everything," he suggested.

Rory contemplated this. It certainly was worth a try. It was something new.

"You said yourself that you hardly ever hear anything but the same speech," he said. "Maybe that'll help you."

"Yeah... maybe," she said. The people at the diner certainly had given her a new perspective, but she hadn't really applied it to her work; it hadn't occurred to her. Maybe she could interview people and see what they thought of Obama's politics. Just get out there, as Jess suggested.

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Saturday morning, and the weather was that perfectly crispy-cool fall weather that made New England so fabulous in the fall. It was already mid-morning as the sunlight filtered into Rory's old room. Lorelai, on Rory's bed, lay clothed in her most comfortable sweats, clutching one of Rory's pillows as she spoke into her cell.

"And it's so hard to believe that, at exactly this time many moons ago, well not exactly, but give or take a few hours, I was lying in exactly the same position..."

"As you are right now?" Rory teased.

"Like I said, in exactly the same position..."

"Mom?" Rory interrupted her mother. "Gotta take this call..."

"Fourteen hours of labor and this is the thanks I get, twenty-three years later," Lorelai griped.

"Talk to ya later," Rory hastily added. "My call waiting beepy thing won't stop."

As Rory hung up, Lorelai whispered "Happy Birthday little girl" into the emptiness of Rory's room, fingering the blanket on the bed, burrowing into the pillows.

Just a few minutes later, Lorelai's phone rang again. Luckily, Rory's very important call hadn't taken too long. Something about a minor change in the Senator's schedule so he could be in Washington to cast a vote. Rory and her mother continued reminiscing about the twenty-three previous birthdays, before turning their attention to the week just ended. Rory was especially amused by Kirk's latest antics.

"He's jealous of Davey? My little godson?" Rory exclaimed in disbelief.

"I know, it's unbelievable. And the worst part is that I have to see and hear it, because the rehearsals and the production are at the Inn!"

Rory commiserated, then added, "But it's worth it, don't you think? Sister Cities sounds like a fun idea!"

"I think it could be very good for the Inn. Luke hated the idea at first."

Rory interrupted, "Let me guess, it was Taylor's idea?"


"Hey, how's Luke's trip going?"

"Pretty good so far. April is really freaking him out. Not just with all the make-up and curling irons, but he swears he saw a fashion magazine in her room. And she's got pictures of boys without shirts up on the walls." Lorelai chuckled. "I think he got spoiled by you, with all your Harvard posters!"

Laughing, Rory admitted: "God, I was such a Harvard geek!"

"That was you...Harvard and books."

"I do love my books," Rory admitted.

"Speaking of books, Ms. Birthday Girl, your grandfather has been driving me nuts lately about 'plugging the holes' in the Dragonfly's library."

Responding with excitement, Rory immediately launched into a stream of consciousness about how best to go about the library project. Leave it to her kid to know exactly what Richard Gilmore meant, Lorelai thought.

"But really, Mom, you should do it! It would be a great project to do with Grandpa—he knows so much about all kinds of books! You could have one session to inventory what you've got—maybe you could put it in a spreadsheet—and then you can let Grandpa suggest how to fill in the holes in the collection! Then he can bring the books over and you can spend time together rearranging the library!"

"Wow, kiddo, sounds like the perfect project for you!" Lorelai admitted, picturing all that activity in her mind. And that's when it dawned on Lorelai that Richard was maybe trying to fill the void left by Rory's move away from home.

"Hey Rory?" Lorelai asked. "Don't forget to send your grandparents an occasional update. I think they really miss you."

"Mom, you're not just trying to get out of Friday Night Dinner, are you?" Rory chuckled.

"Well, they do miss you and besides, you know what happens with me and my mom and dad when you're not around to run interference," Lorelai jokingly reminded her daughter. "So tell me what you've got planned for the rest of the day..."

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Later that afternoon, Rory was hard at work, her hair up in a messy ponytail. This time, she meant business. The TV wasn't even on. She had her laptop set up at the table in her hotel room, and was typing furiously. Her browser had about ten tabs open, including a Google search. Alt-tabbing to her Word document, she pasted snippets of information, not forgetting the web address below the excerpt.

Rory smiled at her screen, getting into her research. "Oh, The Onion," she said aloud, bookmarking the site. "You are a thing of wonder. What would I ever do without you?" She paused to take a gulp of coffee from a diner take-out cup, and went right back to the computer.

"Watch Blog..." she muttered, reaching for the coffee again. "Oh, this is gonna be great," she praised herself, opening yet another tab.

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"So what do you think?' Richard asked Lorelai.

Father and daughter proceeded to sit on the couch in the Inn's sitting room, and turned to be face-to-face. Richard consulted a list on a yellow writing pad, as he returned his elegant pen to his pocket.

"If you say things are okay for the insurance, I believe you," Lorelai assured her father.

"Oh, there's no doubt," Richard added, tearing the top sheet off the writing pad and handing the pad to Lorelai, "this is an extraordinary property. I'm impressed, Lorelai. Truly impressed."

Richard awkwardly beamed at his daughter.

"You and Mom seem to really be enjoying the whole spa conversion process."

"Yes, and that seems to be all set to go. Now about that other matter, Lorelai...the library?"

"Why don't we put YOU in charge of the project?" Lorelai suggested.

"I would be delighted to assist you," Richard responded. "So what have you been doing in your spare time? With no Rory around..."

"The old empty nest syndrome," Lorelai agreed. "I swore it wouldn't happen to me, but it's kind of hard to do Movie Night by myself," Lorelai admitted. Seeing how happy he was at being included, Lorelai continued, suggesting they get together and have their very own Movie Night.

"Do you mean a Film Festival?" Richard queried.

"Your very own private one. How about next Thursday when Mom has her planning meeting for the Heart Ball?"

"You would be doing me a very big favor by giving me an excuse to get away from all that!" Richard exclaimed conspiratorially. "You wouldn't believe how noisy all those cackling DAR hens get."

Lorelai grinned and reached out to squeeze her father's arm. "Then it's a plan. I'll Netflix a bunch of bad, really bad old B-movies—a little film noir, you know; the movies complete with narration and neon signs floating overhead. And I'll initiate you into the whole movie night experience. Complete with lots of junk food."

"Junk food?" Richard's eyes lit up.

"All part of the experience, Dad."

"But don't tell your mother," Richard requested.

Lorelai's bright mood suddenly darkened, remembering that her father needed to follow a heart-healthy diet. "But we'll have to limit you..." Lorelai winked at her father and squeezed his arm.

Richard nodded. "Well then, Thursday it is."

Lorelai sighed in relief. "And Dad?"

"Yes, Lorelai?"

"About the library project. I was thinking, that sounds like something Rory would really enjoy. Make her feel still connected to here, to us. It's tough on her, being out on the road."

Richard nodded in understanding.

"So, the next time she calls you, why don't you suggest it?"

Richard smiled wryly, agreeing with his daughter.

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"I just got through Security." Luke replaced his ID in his wallet as he juggled his cell phone with his duffel.

"Perfect timing, then," Lorelai said. "Did they frisk you and your sombrero?"

"You and your sombrero obsession. This is New Mexico, not Mexico."

"Mexico, schmexico. So when does your plane leave?"

"Not for another hour. And that's if they leave on time."

"I know it must be hard for you to leave her, hon." Lorelai's voice was suddenly gentle and soft. "It just killed me to send Rory off on her Obama trip."

"April made herbal sun tea for me, but Security made me throw it out," Luke announced out of nowhere, changing the topic abruptly. "Can't bring open beverages through Security."

"Huh. Must be some potent terrorist tea there," Lorelai agreed. Her tone told him his non-sequitur hadn't fooled her, but she was letting it go.

"Yeah, I guess."

Lorelai continued. "It's a Starbucks plot. Maybe you should franchise the diner like my dad suggested," she teased. "Then we can have Luke's Diners in every airport."

For a moment, Luke thought she really meant it. "I don't think Caesar could handle the workload..."

Lorelai quickly interrupted, asking about his trip, thirsty for details about April, and wondering how things went with Anna.

"Aw, April's doing great. It seems like just yesterday that she was riding her bike, now she tells me that she can get a driver's permit at 15! Fifteen!" Luke ranted.

"It's too bad your trip had to be so short this time," Lorelai commiserated.

"Yeah. Anna wasn't too happy about that. She's not too happy about a lot of things..." Luke's voice trailed off.

"It must be hard to have to share April," Lorelai empathized.

Luke sighed. "Damned if I do, damned if I don't..."

Not wanting to upset him further, Lorelai steered away from the sensitive topic. "So what did you guys do? Git along with them little dogies? Fight the Apaches?" Lorelai laughed as she started to list all kinds of western stereotypes.

"...went on a nature hike," Luke rushed the words out.

"What was that, nature boy?" Lorelai teased.

"Missed you," Luke told her instead.

"Hey Luke?"


"Remember that first summer after the Inn opened, and you were away forever in Maine?"


"This reminds me of when you were gone, and we talked all the time on the phone."

"I'm sorry, Lorelai," Luke was forced to interrupt, "they're calling my flight."

"I'll be waiting for you... and your sombrero," Lorelai quipped. "With the time difference..."

"...and the delays," Luke added.

"The day will be over by the time you get back," says Lorelai. "Y'all bring that sombrero over, yee haw!"

"Aw geez," Luke replied.

"And don't forget, old man, that your truck is parked on Level Two..."

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"Kirk! Out! Or else I will get Tito Fuentes to chase you out of here with his bat," Miss Patty admonished as she chased after Kirk. "He may have been a second baseman but he hit home runs with me."

Lorelai almost collided with Kirk as she entered the room. The room was arranged for the performance, and the kids were restless.

"Lorelai!" Miss Patty shifted gears to exclaim when she saw Lorelai. "You're just in time for final dress rehearsal!"

"But I'm always the lead in town productions," Kirk whined, interrupting Miss Patty.

"I think your Kirk-in-a-Box was your official shark-jumping moment," Lorelai advised him. "So how's it going?" Lorelai turned to Miss Patty.

Before she could get an answer from Patty, she heard Miss Patty call out: "Children. CHILDREN! You are not cats. You are young ladies and young gentlemen." She peered at them. "Davey Belleville, front and center! And you—" she glared at Kirk, "Sit."

Lorelai patted the chair seat next to her and beckoned for Kirk to seat himself as rehearsal resumed.

Kirk leaned over to her and hissed, "It's over."

"What's over? You and Lulu?" Lorelai responded, dividing her attention between the production and Kirk.

"There's only so much of me to go around," Kirk mewled. "The stage was my haven, my refuge."

"From Lulu?

"Not just Lulu. Mother too. And now, he's taking it all away from me. My show-boy days are over."

"Who he?" Lorelai distractedly asked.

"That Davey. Classic tale, Lorelai. Understudy takes over the star's role. Let's face it, I'm a has-been on the stage of life."

"And stop right there, Davey. Eyes on me. Keep watching me."

Miss Patty turned to Lorelai. "So what do you think? I've never done Korean folk dance before. It reminds me of one time in Havana, when—"

"It looks great, Patty," Lorelai hastily jumped in. "And Davey, so handsome! Sookie is going to plotz." Lorelai rose. "I've got to take care of some errands, but I'll be at the performance."

"Kirk, no!" both Patty and Lorelai yelled out as Kirk broke away and tried to join the children again.

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Rory took the pen out of her mouth and stuck it through her hair, out of the way. She typed a few more sentences, including "town hot spots—local flavor!" onto the end her 3-page word document, and saved it. She sat back in the chair, and appraised her work. "ugh," she groaned, stretching. "This what I get for not moving in four hours." Walking over to the television, she flicked it on, surfing through the channels, finally landing on a news show.

There was a knock at the door, startling Rory. "Package for you, miss," the bellman said when she answered the door. "Please sign here." When she did so, he handed her a large box.

Slightly bemused, Rory brought the box (not without a little difficulty) over to the bed. She looked around for something to pierce the tape with. She didn't even have any keys with her, let alone a pocketknife. "Aha!" she said aloud, and took the pen from her hair. "Knew this would come in handy." Inside the box was a large piece of paper with stickers and fancy writing in multiple colors, spelling out "HAPPY BIRTHDAY RORY" in big letters. Rory smiled to herself. "Thanks, Mom," she said.

"And now, the weather with Dave Roberts!" the TV anchor announced.

"We're looking at clear weather for the next few days," the weatherman said. "It's still pretty warm for this time of year, so enjoy it while it lasts!"

Rory stared in amazement at the screen. The meteorologist looked just like David Boreanaz—except he was about 40 years older. Weird. She grabbed her phone and quickly pressed the speed dial for the house. "Hey, Mom," she said when Lorelai picked up. "There's a guy here on the news, doing the weather, and he looks just like Angel... except old!"

"Really, hon?" Lorelai said. "Is it his brother?"

"I don't know. Might be his father," Rory responded. "Hey, Mom."

"Yeah, kid?"

"I got your box just now." Rory cradled the phone between her ear and shoulder, and opened the flaps, pulling out the birthday sign and putting it aside.

"Well, open it!" The excitement in Lorelai's voice made Rory grin.

"Gee, Mom, you'd think you're the one getting the present."

"I don't get the pleasure of watching you open it and seeing your face, so this will have to do," Lorelai responded. "Wait, I know. At each part, take your phone and snap a picture, then send it to me."




To be continued...








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