Virtual Gilmore Girls

Episode 8.21 "The Glitter Vest at the End of the Tunnel"
 by sosmitten


Author's Note: This feels momentous for me, even though we've got one more episode after this.  It's the last one I'm writing though, so I just wanted to take the opportunity to thank everyone who's been following the Girls in our virtual season.  It's been a long haul and a lot of work, but I'm really glad we were able to pull it off.  I hope that you've had as much fun reading it as we've had writing it.

I had tons of help getting this episode through production.  I had amazing beta help from Avery, Jenepel, Lula Bo and wounded, and also lots of plot suggestions from our team of writers as I pulled the storyboard together.  Just like our whole season, it's truly been a team effort and we couldn't have done it any other way.



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"Lorelai, I've thought of something else," Emily said, cutting through the quiet clatter of silverware on china.  Rory glanced wearily at Luke, who sighed.  It had been a losing battle all night.  With the spa due to open in a few weeks, both Emily and Lorelai were in high-stress mode and it had been virtually impossible to steer the conversation away from construction details and beauty products.

"Yeah, Mom.  What is it?"  Lorelai asked.

Emily went on, "Did you check with Tom—"

"Grandma," Rory cut in, attempting yet again to change the subject, "did I tell you that the Grand Rapids Press is interested in my article?"

"Yes, I think you did mention that.  Have you heard back anything definite from them yet?"

Rory let out a defeated sigh.  "Well, no, but I'm going to call the editor back first thing on Monday."

"I do hope that you do hear something positive soon," Emily said sympathetically.  "Now, Lorelai, about those touch-ups..."

Emily continued, listing minor flaws she'd noted while Lorelai, who finally seemed to be tiring of spa talk herself, nodded mutely.  Rory looked up at Luke again, who shrugged and mouthed, "Nice try."  In response, she plopped her chin into her hands glumly.

Emily's verbal list-making drifted to plans for the opening party for the spa.  Rory picked at her roast and inwardly groaned, wondering if this was going to carry on right through dessert.

From the end of the table, Richard cleared his throat.  "Ladies," he paused, "and Luke.  I don't believe I've mentioned that I've started singing with my barbershop quartet again."

Emily looked almost mortified.  Lorelai crinkled her forehead a moment then smiled in sudden recognition.  "Oh, with the sparkly vests, right?"

Richard nodded patiently.  "Yes, Lorelai.  We wear period clothing."

"And which period is that, exactly?" Lorelai quipped. 

Richard leveled his gaze at Lorelai for a moment, but then went on as if she hadn't spoken.  "Yes, well, in any case, I mentioned it because it sounded as though you were having trouble securing a musician for the party.  I believe the quartet is available that night."

Rory glanced over at her grandmother, who was hiding her horror  well.  "Richard, that's an...interesting suggestion, but we don't want to spend our entire evening with those kinds of details.  Lorelai and I will talk it over another time."  She looked over at her daughter, who only nodded in confirmation as she struggled to keep a straight face.

"Excellent!" Richard responded.  "I can provide you with some recordings if that will help in your planning."

"Yes, of course.  That would be...most helpful," Emily said in a rush, "but really, these are details better saved for a business meeting, not decided at the dinner table."

Rory almost sputtered out loud in an attempt to keep from pointing out that they'd spent the entire night listening to details better discussed during the work day.  She looked up just long enough to catch Luke tipping his head toward Richard in a congratulatory gesture and to see her grandfather's knowing nod.

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Rory glanced at the clock, then eyed her phone with dread. 'First thing' Monday morning was fast approaching mid-day.  For a while, she had justified her procrastination with the argument that newspapers didn't operate on traditional business hours, but the longer she waited the less legitimate that argument became.  Finally she picked up the phone and dialed, giving herself a mental pep talk as she waited for the line to connect.

The phone rang only once and was answered with an impatient 'hello.'  

"Uh, Jack," Rory asked, startled by the brusque tone.

"Yeah, who's this?"

"It's, uh, Rory.  Rory Gilmore," she clarified with a slight question in her voice.

"Right.  Rory.  How are you?"  His response was warmer by a degree and she felt a small level of relief as they made pleasant small talk for a few minutes.  Before she could sense his interest begin to wane, she said hesitantly, "So, I was calling to find out if you'd had a chance to look over the latest draft of my article that I sent last week?"

"Yeah, and the changes look good," he answered in a noncommittal tone.  "I need to talk to the political editor to see if we'll be able to make space for it."

"Oh, okay, if there's space."  She paused for a moment, disappointed.  "Are there any other revisions you would suggest?"

"Nah, it's good in that respect.  I can give you a call when I know more."

"Sure, that would be great," she responded, her voice sounding falsely enthusiastic to her ears.   "I guess I'll talk to you..."

"Yeah, if you don't hear from me in a few days, give me a call back."

She started to say her goodbye and hang up, but stopped and steeled herself.  "How about if I plan to call you first thing Wednesday?"

He hesitated, as if surprised by her sudden insistence, but said, "Sure, I'll talk to you then."

They exchanged polite goodbyes and Rory snapped her phone shut.  'Yes, you will most certainly be hearing from me,' she thought with newfound determination.

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The following morning, Lorelai hurried into the kitchen just as Luke was about to crack an egg into his favorite cast iron skillet.  

"Coffee's done," he said, tipping his head toward the coffee maker without turning around.  "Eggs will be ready in just a few minutes.  I hope sunny side up are okay."

"Oh, hon, I don't have time for breakfast."  She grabbed her travel mug from the counter, tipped sugar in from the sugar bowl, then filled it from the waiting coffee pot.

Luke sighed, turning from the stove.  "You have to eat."

"I'll grab something at the inn, but my mother is showing up at nine and before she arrives I've got to make about 45 phone calls, go over the touch-up list, and figure out why our linen supplier didn't get paid."  She got more and more frantic as she ran through her mental list.   "Why on earth did you let me do this?"

Luke scoffed.  "Let you?  As if I could have stopped you."

She felt her shoulders sag as she let out a long breath.  "I just don't know what I was thinking."

He took a step toward her, and rested his hands on her shoulders until she looked up.  "You were thinking, quite logically, that the inn is very successful due in large part I might add, to your management skills and that an expansion would be a good business decision."

"It's only a good business decision if it actually opens without destroying the rest of the inn in the process.  The construction schedule is behind, we already closed down half the inn, and had to cancel reservations," she said, her voice shrill with emphasis.  "And according to my mother I can't do anything right.  I just don't know how we're going to get everything done."

"You will," he said insistently.

"There are days I'm not sure."

He frowned, shaking his head.  "I don't understand.  You've done all this before."

She looked up at him grimly.  "Not with my mother I haven't."

"Look," he said, grabbing her hands and shaking them gently for emphasis.  "You will.  And if it will make you feel better now, go work on your to-do list, but sometime this week I am going to make you a real dinner and you are going to sit down long enough to eat it."

"Yes, sir," she answered with a weak smile.

He grinned, putting her travel mug into her hand and steering her toward the door.  "Now go.  Build yourself a spa."

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Emily sat at a quiet corner table in the inn's dining room and tapped an elegantly manicured fingertip against her day planner as the florist confirmed the order.  "Okay, Ms. Gilmore, let me confirm this with you.  That will be 12 floral centerpieces in warm spring tones.  No tulips, no carnations.  Glass vases.  The party is at 8:00 p.m. on May 16th?" 

"Yes, that's correct."

"Then we'll be delivering by 6:00 p.m.  Where is your event taking place?"

"At the Dragonfly Inn in Stars Hollow."

"Oh, that's such a beautiful location!"

"Why, yes, it is."

Emily heard some papers rustling on the other end of the line before the florist spoke again.  "So, these centerpieces?  Are they in addition to the 12 centerpieces we're already delivering to the Dragonfly on the 16th?"

"In addition to?"  Emily asked, confused.  "Already delivering?  Are you sure?"

"Yes, we've got an order right here, placed says Ms. Gilmore.  That's not you then?"

"Well, no," Emily returned sharply.  "Don't you think I'd know if I'd already placed an order?"  There was no response from the florist, so Emily sighed.  "My daughter must have called already.  We need 12 centerpieces total.  Let me hear the original order.  I'm sure a correction or clarification will be needed.  She usually leaves off at least one important detail."

"Very well then," the woman answered, her voice cool.  "Just like you ordered:  12 centerpieces, warm spring tones.  There is a note clarifying that there should be no bright red, pink or purple.  And, just as you requested, no tulips or carnations.  Oh, and also, no baby's breath."  

Unable to find fault and feeling suddenly useless, Emily let out a huff, and after a pause the florist continued.  "Now, the original order specified an earlier delivery in case there were any problems.  Would you like to go with the time you requested or the time on the original order?"

Emily's response was short and clipped.  "The earlier time will be fine."

"We'll see you on the 16th then.  Thank you very much for the order."


"You're welcome," Emily said before disconnecting and dropping her phone onto the table.  It was the third item on her to-do list that she'd done, only to find out that Lorelai had already done it, or made it unnecessary. 

She was looking over the remainder of her list when she heard, "More tea, Mrs. Gilmore?" from the waitress.

"Yes, please that would be fine."  Looking up she added, "Two sugars, please.  And clear those vacated tables right away.  The dirty dishes are very unsightly!"

Cowed, the waitress mumbled, "Of course, Mrs. Gilmore," and scurried away.

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By Wednesday morning, Rory had grown frustrated with waiting, and she was ready to face the music, whether it turned out to be sweet or painful.  She called just after nine, no longer interested in procrastinating.  

Jack answered quickly in the same rushed voice he'd used the other day.  "Hello?"

"Hello, Jack?  It's Rory."

"Rory."  She could tell immediately from the flat way he said her name and the pause that followed that good news wasn't forthcoming.  As disappointed flooded her, she waited for his explanation.  "It's just that all of our political coverage right now is focused on last night's Pennsylvania primary results and we need to see how that plays out before we know how your article will fit in."

Rory took a breath and responded in what she hoped was a calm voice, "Several of the anecdotes in my article took place in Pennsylvania."

"Yes, but your article is more general and right now we're focusing on how this particular primary is affecting the whole race," he replied, undeterred.  "I just don't think it's a good fit in this moment."

She paused, thinking through her options.  Finally, emboldened by her irritation, she laid it all on the table.  "I edited this to your specifications with the assurance that you'd try to publish it, but I can't tell if it's going anywhere.  I've been waiting for confirmation and I can't afford to wait much longer."  He didn't respond so she gave one more push.  "You know, I've submitted the article to other publications..."  She let the comment hang there, feeling slightly guilty about the implied threat.

He exhaled a long breath before speaking and his voice was firm but kind.  "I'm sure you did.  You'd be stupid not to.  And you're not stupid," he clarified.  "But you and I both know that if anyone else had expressed serious interest you wouldn't be so eager to talk to me."  Chastened, she kept silent as he went on.  "Look, Rory, I am still very interested and I really do want to help you out, but we need to see how the next few days play out."

She sighed.  "Okay, well I do appreciate that you're considering it."

"I'll be in touch, Rory."

"Thanks, Jack.  I'll look forward to hearing from you."  Closing her phone, all she could do was wonder why she kept thanking him for making her put her life on hold.



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Lorelai had searched all the rooms of the addition, finally finding Tom talking with the electrician as he checked the wiring to make sure flooding disaster hadn't damaged any of it.  "Oh good.  Tom!"

"Lorelai," he said warily, excusing himself from his conversation.  "What do you need?"

"I just wanted to run through some last minute details with you." She gave him a nervous smile.  "Don't want to risk any missing door snafus."

"We've got all the doors in place already," he answered gruffly.

"Good.  Great!  There were a few things I, well we, noticed.  Touch-ups, really."  She flipped through her papers, tapping her foot anxiously as she searched for the list she'd gone over with her mother earlier.  

"If you write them down," he said with a touch of impatience, "I can make sure we take care of them."

"They're all written down here," Lorelai said, pointing at her list, "but I'd really like to go over the list with you."

Tom sighed.  "I was on my way out for lunch, but I guess the wife can wait."

Lorelai winced guiltily.  "I promise this will take just a few minutes."

"Okay, shoot."  

Lorelai glanced up at him apologetically.  "Well, the first thing is the baseboards in the women's bathroom.  They got installed after the painters came, so..."

He nodded.  "They need to be painted.  Right."

"Okay." Lorelai moved her finger down the list.  "The hooks in the changing rooms—"

"Are loose," Tom cut in.  "And we wouldn't want anyone's unmentionables falling on the floor."

"Uh, exactly," Lorelai answered, sensing Tom's irritation.

"So wait.  Are there any things on that list that have been added since Emily went over it with me this morning?"

"Emily?  My mother?" Lorelai stammered.  "My mother went over this with you?"

"In painful detail."  He leaned in to whisper, "I thought we agreed that you would keep her away from me."  

"I know.  I'm so sorry."  She paused.  "But she went over everything with you?"

"Very thoroughly," he said pointedly.

"Even the drippy shower in stall three?"

"Even the drippy shower."

"And the—"

"And the loose wallpaper in the massage room, the squeaky hinge on the door to room two, and the additional tile in the men's bathroom.  It's all on the list."

"Because you went over it with my mother," Lorelai clarified.


"Tom, I'm so sorry about that.  I know she can be annoying."

He turned to go, muttering, "She's looking less and less annoying every minute." 

[minor scene break]

Lorelai walked into the kitchen, in desperate need of coffee.  After pouring herself a cup, she leaned back against the counter, shaking her head and letting out an annoyed sigh.  

Sookie glanced over at her between stirs of some sort of heavenly smelling soup.  "Bad day?"

"Unfortunately, with my mother around all the time they're becoming the norm." Sookie nodded sympathetically.  "I thought she and I had agreed on our things.  We each have our things.  I deal with Tom and the construction and she deals with plans for the opening and—"

"What about my things?" Sookie cut in sharply.

Lorelai looked up, surprised by the interruption.

"I mean, when did this become about you and your mother?"  Sookie went on, stirring her soup more vigorously with each round of the pan, "Last I checked it was still Lorelai and Sookie's inn, not Lorelai and Emily's inn."

"Oh, Sook," Lorelai responded, horrified by the bitterness.  "Of course it's our inn.  Didn't we just have this conversation recently?  You don't think I'm trying to replace you with my mother?"  She paused a moment until Sookie spun around, drops of soup flinging off her spoon as she turned.  "Sookie?" she pleaded.

"No," Sookie admitted.   "I don't think that."

"Good, because I'm not that insane.  This is our inn, Sook."

"I know, but I feel like I never see you anymore."  She slumped down onto a stool, letting the spoon fall into her apron.  "Like you're avoiding me."

"Avoiding you?"  Lorelai said in shock. "Never!  It's just been really busy, so much to do to open the spa."

Sookie looked up, her forehead crinkled skeptically.  "Then why am I not helping you with spa stuff?  Why am I only working with Emily instead of you?"

Lorelai gave a rueful chuckle.  "Because you are one of the few people on the planet who get along with Emily."  She met Sookie's gaze and lifted her eyebrow pointedly.  

Her friend shrugged weakly.

"Also," Lorelai went on, "and this is in no way a comment on your skills or talents, but I have no idea what a truffle is, what would be the best way to prepare a gooseberry, or which wine should accompany them."

"Them?"  Sookie asked, looking suddenly alarmed.  "As in, together?  That wouldn't-  Truffles and gooseberries?" 

"Sookie!"  Lorelai said, causing Sookie to stop abruptly and at the same time remember her soup on the stove.  She got up to continue stirring it, looking at Lorelai expectantly.

"This is what I'm talking about.  You do amazing things with food I've never heard of and I can eat it - and even enjoy it - but my mother can actually have a conversation with you about it.  And that's why we both," she gestured between herself and Sookie, "agreed that she should work on updating the menu and be kept as far as possible from Tom."

Sookie giggled.  "Tom still hasn't forgiven her for changing her mind about the tile after it was already delivered?"

"And barring the flooring people from the building when they showed up to install the tile?"  Lorelai shook her head.  "No, he and he won't, not in this decade anyway." Lorelai pointed at Sookie.  "But you actually like my mother."

"She's got such good taste."

"Unlike me."

"That isn't what I meant," Sookie protested.  

"I know, and that's why you two are doing the menu and I am trying to protect Tom from my mother."

"But we're still meeting tonight to go over it before it goes to the printers, right?"  Sookie paused to dip a spoon into the soup pot and taste it; apparently satisfied, she set down the spoon and turned off the burner.  "I've been trying to figure out what to make.  Martha's been so picky lately."  She threw her arms up in the air and glanced over at Lorelai, who was suddenly relieved that Sookie was no longer stirring the soup, but rather pacing back and forth across the kitchen.  "She's in her 'white food only' stage." 

"Ah, yes," said Lorelai.  "I remember that stage well.  Chicken, pasta, bread, potatoes..." She trailed off, shrugging.  "Sounds good to me."

"And Davey wants cheese on everything," Sookie went on, almost as if she hadn't heard Lorelai.

"Mmmm, cheese," Lorelai said dreamily.  "Cheese is white, unless it's orange, but—"  

Sookie stopped moving and pointed at Lorelai.  "You're as bad as the kids."  She let out a long slow sigh.  "I guess it's macaroni and cheese again.  At least I can sneak some chicken into it."

Lorelai chuckled.  "That sounds great, Sookie.  I'll see you tonight." 

"Good, I'm really glad you're coming.  I'll feel better if you can take a look at the menu changes before we send them out."

"Oh yeah," Lorelai said, scoffing.  "You think I'm letting you two loose without any oversight?"

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Emily heard the front door open and close and Richard's footsteps approach the living room.  She looked up as he entered.  "Hello, Richard."

"Good evening, Emily."  He glanced at her teacup.  "Can I get you a cocktail or are you going to have another cup of tea?"

"A cocktail would be lovely.  Madeleine insists on bringing honey with my tea even though I've told her repeatedly that I prefer sugar.  I believe she's trying to convert me."

Richard look pointedly at the tea service and it's elegant little honey pot and gave her an amused smile.  "Is it working?"

"I still prefer my sugar," Emily insisted, "but I just wanted to sit down and relax today."

"That's understandable," he nodded as he set about making their martinis. "Well, whatever her faults, dinner smells absolutely splendid.  Let's see if we can keep this one around for a bit, okay?" he said, gently teasing.

"You know as well as I do, that as long as Madeleine performs her required duties I'll be happy to keep her on," Emily snapped, "but I won't accept substandard work just because she bakes her own bread."

He sighed.  "I know, Emily."

"I am extremely busy, however," she admitted, "and do not have time right now to hire someone new, so I'd prefer to keep her on as well."

"Is everything going well with the spa?"

"Yes, everything is fine," she answered, a touch impatiently, not wanting to get into her frustration.  "Sookie and I have been working on the menu, the touch-ups are being completed, and the party planning is going well."

"Good, good," Richard said, nodding.  He picked up their martinis, and walked across the room, handing Emily her glass before sitting down across from her.  "So," he started hesitantly, "speaking of the party, have you had a chance to talk to Lorelai about having my quartet sing at the event?"

"Oh, you were serious when you made that suggestion?" Emily asked casually.

He cocked his head to the side, and admitted, "I will confess that bringing it up at that particular moment did have the added benefit of getting you and Lorelai to stop talking business and begin to enjoy dinner, but I was quite serious.  We're available and always looking for new gigs."

"Gigs?" she scoffed.  "Our party is a potential gig?"  She emphasized the word 'gig' with a note of disdain in her voice.

"Ah, I misspoke.  I meant to say 'opportunity to perform'," he said contritely.

Emily glared at him and he had the decency to look abashed.  Her face pinched in concern, she asked, "Do you really think that the tone of your performance would be appropriate for our spa opening party?  I'm concerned about what Lorelai will think.  I mean, the outfits alone..."

"I'd rather imagined that Lorelai would be amused by the vests," he responded matter-of-factly.

"Richard, this party is not about amusement," she said sharply.

"The purpose of a party is not to provide amusement?" he queried, with only a hint of teasing.

"The purpose is celebration."

"Okay." He nodded, though his expression showed confusion.

"Richard," Emily huffed in frustration.  "There is very little about this spa project that has been my responsibility, but Lorelai has entrusted this party to me and it is my responsibility to make it elegant and tasteful."

His expression softened.  "And you're concerned that the costumes that we wear are not," he glanced at her for confirmation, "elegant and tasteful?"

Emily gave him a pleading look.  "Richard, they have sequins."

He gave an obliging sigh.  "If the sequins are not appropriate, we do have standard formal attire that might be more suitable."

She eyed him skeptically.  "Standard formal attire?  Without flashy colors?"

"Standard black tuxes with tails."

Emily made a little noise of assent as she paused to think.  After a moment, Richard spoke again.  "Emily, I only offered to be helpful—"

She arched an eyebrow.  "And to distract our conversation?"

He smirked.  "Well, as I said, that was a side benefit.  But, you're right, this is your responsibility and if you're concerned that it won't be appropriate, I completely understand."  He glanced up at her from beneath his brow. "You can always come to one of our other performances, if you'd like to see me sing," he hinted.

"I will talk to Lorelai about it tomorrow," she conceded.  "And if she thinks it's appropriate, we can work out the details."

"That sounds fine," he agreed.  "I am very much looking forward to the party.  This is quite an impressive accomplishment for you and Lorelai."

She gave him a cautious smile.  "Thank you, though I'm little more than a party planner."

"I believe you underestimate your contribution," he insisted.

Emily sighed, wishing she felt as confident about her involvement, and took a small sip of her martini.  


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Lorelai heard Luke come in the house as she stopped on the landing of the stairs to pull on the strappy sandal that had looked so cute in the store but was particularly uncooperative about being pulled on one-handed.

"Oh good hon, you're home.  I was just about to leave you a note."

"A note?"  He looked at her suspiciously.  "Why a note?  Where are you going?"

She gave him a guilty pout.  "I have to go to Sookie's.  I have to review the updated menu so that we can get it ready to send to the printer."

He looked over at her, clearly annoyed.   "I was planning to make you dinner since you were supposed to be home tonight.  I thought that your mother was helping Sookie with the food related stuff."

"She is, well, was, but seriously would you trust my mother and Sookie with the inn's menu without at least looking it over?  It would be midgets dancing under mushrooms all over again."

"Huh?"  He stopped and stared at her, his mouth hanging open and his eyes crinkled in confusion.   

"Long story.  Just suffice it to say that someone has to rein them in before they bankrupt us."

"And it has to be you?"

"Who else?"

He let out a small breath of acquiescence and she smiled in relief.  "I got you dinner to make up for having to leave.  And I got movies.  I thought you and Paul Anka could have a boys night together.  You haven't really had a chance to bond since—"

"This is you making it up to me?  Dinner with the dog?"

"I know, but I will really make it up to you soon."  She looked up at him pleadingly.  "I got you veggie pizza."

He gave a noncommittal grunt.

Lorelai  lay one hand on his chest.  "I asked him to throw on those wild mushrooms that you like."

He let out a long sigh.

"And a Greek salad.  I got you a Greek salad.  And Paul Anka's got that chunky chicken with gravy food that he likes."  She cocked her head to the side and added, "The movies are on the table.  I was going for a boy and his dog kind of theme."  He grimaced.  "Well, make that man and his dog."

He just shook his head and kissed her dutifully.  "Don't be too long, please?"

"Okay, I'll try.  I am sorry, babe."  She ran her hand down his arm and squeezed his hand before heading toward the door.  

She heard the sofa creak as Luke lowered himself down next to Paul Anka and his bemused voice addressing the dog. "So did she run any of this by you?"

Lorelai was standing with her hand on the door knob, smiling to herself when Luke called out, "Do you really think it's a good idea for Paul Anka to watch Old Yeller?"   


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Rory sat on one end of Lane's sofa, her legs folded up against her chest and her arms clasped in front of her knees.  "I just want to know, you know.  If it's run of the mill drivel, I wish he'd just tell me rather than keep asking for revisions."

"Or maybe it's not the crappiest thing ever and he just wants to find exactly the right time and place to fit it in," Lane suggested.

Rory sighed, dropping her chin to her knee.  "Maybe."

"You're not convinced," Lane said, defeated.  "I am sucking at the supportive friend thing."

"No, you're not.  I'm just being whiny."  Rory paused.  "I'm beginning to think that waiting around for someone else to tell me what's next is not the right approach."

"But you don't have to be in a huge rush either.  A few months isn't going to kill you."

Rory gave a wry chuckle.  "I don't know.  After three weeks of decorating Easter cookies I was beginning to have nightmares about being attacked by mutant bunnies with mis-shapen features and missing limbs."

"I guess the royal icing got it's revenge then for the sad chartreuse incident?"

"And then some," muttered Rory.  She silently picked at the edging on the sofa as Zach walked into the living room, shutting the bedroom door behind him silently. 

Lane glanced up.  "They out?"

"Filled up, emptied out, and dead to the world.  You should have a few hours at least before they get up."

Lane smiled graciously.  "Thanks babe. You're the best."  Zach leaned over to give her a kiss as he passed and Rory watched with a pang as he laid his hand against her cheek and Lane gave it a gentle squeeze before he stood back up and headed for the door.

Lane saw Rory looking at her and blushed.  "Sorry."

"Don't apologize.  I just kinda miss that."


"Yeah."  She paused.  " Just having someone, I guess."

"You miss Logan?"

Rory stopped and thought for a moment.  "I don't know.  Not Logan necessarily.  I mean, I've had a while to get used to the fact that we weren't in the same place at the same time.  But I miss knowing that there's someone around who cares about me."

"I get that."

They were silent for a moment, then Rory said meaningfully, " has been a while since..."


Rory gave her a knowing glance.

"Oh," Lane said, realizing.  "Sex."

"Yeah," Rory said longingly.

"Well, you're talking to the mother of one-year-old twins.  It's not like I'm getting much on my end."  She smiled dreamily.  "Though Zach does make sure we both get the most out of our limited time."

"Lane?" Rory said.

"Yeah?" Lane answered, having been pulled out of her reverie.

"A little too much information there."

"Oh sorry, the sex part of the girl-talk sharing thing is still a little new."

"It's fine.  You've got me thinking though."

"Thinking about what?"

"It's too bad there aren't any eligible men in Stars Hollow."

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫  


Emily's completed her Thursday morning errands unusually quickly.  Between that, and the light traffic, she arrived in Stars Hollow with time to spare before her meeting with Sookie.  What she really wanted was to sit and relax with a cup of tea for a few minutes, but she had learned quickly that spending time with Sookie in the Dragonfly kitchen was anything but relaxing. 

Luke's seemed like a reasonable alternative, especially since she'd been informed that this was the time the diner experienced a mid-morning lull.  True to the definition, there was only one other person—someone she recognized but didn't know—tucked away at a corner table.  Glancing around, she decided, for a change, to sit at the counter.  Luke wasn't immediately visible so she pulled out her clipboard and began making a few notes.  Having a checklist was a necessity for a meeting with Sookie, whose talent for the tangential rivaled her legendary cooking skill.  She could go from duck á l'orange to citrus groves in Florida to the NASA spacecoast to the Mars lander to her favorite candy bar before you could say 'with a side of steamed broccoli.'  It helped explain Lorelai's micro-management, though Emily didn't like bearing the brunt of it.

She'd known that even though Lorelai had delegated the task of updating the menu to Sookie and Emily, Sookie was going to run it by Lorelai before printing.  She supposed it was reasonable to do so, but it rankled that Lorelai had met with Sookie without including her mother.

"Emily?"  Luke's voice took her by surprise, and she glanced up to see him looking at her uncertainly, as if trying to decide whether to apologize for making her wait or to ask for an explanation for her random presence in the diner.

Instead, she just said, "Oh hello, Luke.  Could I have a cup of tea, please?"

He clearly hadn't expected such a straightforward response; he stared a moment before answering, "Of course."

He moved efficiently, gathering the water, a selection of tea bags, as well as milk and sugar.

"Thank you," she murmured when he placed the mug in front of her.  As she unwrapped the tea bag and dangled it gracefully into the water, he asked, "Is there anything else I can get you?"

"No, thank you."

He nodded.  "Let me know if you change your mind."

She nodded back.  It was pleasant to sit calmly.  She didn't want to admit it, but she was dreading her meeting, worried that they'd have to make drastic changes to the menu, of that even worse, Lorelai and Sookie would have redone it entirely.  Sighing deeply, she pushed back her sleeve to check her watch.

Luke looked over at her.  "Are you meeting someone here?"

"No, I'm going to the inn soon." He didn't ask, but she clarified anyway, "It's nice to have a cup of tea in peace.  It can be very chaotic at the inn."

"I would imagine."

She paused, taking a few sips of her tea.  "I had no idea how exhausting it would be just to keep track of that many details.  I've organized functions, hired staff, but this...every decision is accompanied by lists and questions..."  She smiled grimly.  "And usually an argument."

Luke gave a sympathetic chuckle.  "Well, you can stay here as long as you like."

"Thank you, but there are so many things to do.  It's hard to believe we'll actually have a full-service spa open for business in just a few weeks."

"It will all come together," he said reassuringly.

"You're probably right."  She fiddled with her teaspoon for a moment before lifting her mug for another sip.  "Lorelai does have quite a talent for this business."

"You both do," he answered matter-of-factly as worked his rag across the top of the counter.  The compliment took her by surprise and she stilled long enough for him to notice her reaction.  Shrugging, he added, "You and Lorelai are two of the most capable people I've ever met."  He looked her in the eye.  "And the most determined."

She couldn't help but flush at that.  Finishing up her tea, she stood and gathered her notes.  "Well, thank you, Luke, but you need to get out of Stars Hollow more often."

He lifted his eyebrows, smiling. "You might be right, but I don't think it will change my perspective." 

Unsure how to respond, she said simply, "Thank you for the tea," and headed for her car with a slight spring in her step.

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫  


Rory balanced her laptop in the crook of her arm while taking bites of an apple fritter, her latest Weston's addiction.  She had only a few minutes between her bakery and bookstore shifts to run home, check her email, and sneak in a snack.  As the computer slowly woke up, she put down the fritter long enough to skillfully load the coffee maker one-handed.  Just before she shoved the coffee into the coffee maker, her Gmail notifier alert went off, signaling new messages.  Holding the coffee filter basket with three fingers, she scrolled to her inbox with her thumb and remaining finger, imagining what inventive kind of spam might be waiting there.

When the page did open she was so startled that she stepped back, tripping on one of the kitchen chairs and falling backwards onto it.  The sudden movement jostled the coffee grounds out of her hand and into the air before they spilled down around her like a chocolate brown, coffee-scented snowstorm.

In her rush to hold onto the computer, she pressed several buttons and the display changed abruptly.  Rory stared at the screen in horror and confusion, finally placing the computer on the table, muttering, "No, no, no.  Please tell me I didn't just imagine that.  It was right here.  It was here in the inbox, I swear.  I did not just do that."

It finally occurred to her to check her trash folder, in case she'd accidentally deleted it.  "Stupid 'delete' button.  I take it back, Gmail.  I don't want a 'delete button,"  she whined.  She took a breath before she clicked, then her jaw dropped open when when she realized that she hadn't been dreaming—there really was an email from  Opening it she read the brief note:

Dear Ms. Gilmore,

Thank you for your submission.  Now that the Pennsylvania primary is over with virtually no change in the race, we're looking for more in-depth campaign and candidate pieces to bring some of the issues into the discussion.  It looks like your piece fits our bill and we'd like to publish it in the next few weeks.  Please contact us to confirm your continued interest.


Gavin Wilcox
Assistant Editor, Politics

"Holy Headline, Batman!" she said aloud.  "Holy Salon dot freaking com."

She sat and read through the note over and over, trying to quell her fear that she'd somehow read it wrong and it was actually a very confusing rejection.  After the twelfth read, she finally sat back and let loose a huge grin, which faded as soon as she glanced at the clock.  "Oh, crap!"

Heading into her room to put down her laptop and gather her keys and phone, she noted that her phone was registering a missed call.  Checking, she saw Jack Kramer's number most recently listed.  "Oh, so now you're interested.  What, are you guys all telepathic, or something?"  

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫  


Lorelai sat in her office preparing the instructions for the printer who would be producing their menus as well as the service offerings of the spa.  She'd been pleasantly surprised by the menu, which was neither as lavish nor as obscure as she'd feared.  Sookie and her mother had also managed to include many healthy dishes that also sounded surprisingly good.  The three of them had agreed wholeheartedly when embarking on this project that they were going to promote the quality of the food as a way to attract clients to the spa and that there would be no crazy food restrictions, and absolutely nothing made from mung bean sprouts.  The result looked like a perfect marriage of their goals, and Lorelai smiled to herself as she thought about the compliments that would be forthcoming about their food.


"Good news?" she heard from the doorway, and looked up, startled to see her mother standing there, arms crossed over her chest.  She wondered briefly how long she'd been standing there.

"Just continually amazed at the ways that Sookie can make lettuce—or even spinach—sound appetizing."


"She does have a way with vegetables," Emily agreed, then paused a moment.  "The menu then, seems appropriate?" she asked casually.


"It looks fabulous."  She tipped her head to the side and smiled.  "You and Sookie did a wonderful job, Mom."


"I'm glad it met with your approval," Emily said formally, but looked pleased nonetheless.  She smiled in confession.  "I did go to lunch at that spa we went to ages ago so that I could make off with one of their menus as a guideline for what not to serve."


"Emily Gilmore, having you been stealing menus again?" Lorelai asked, mockingly stern.  "I am so proud!"

Her mother just shook her head.  "I did have an actual question for you.  Shall I come back later, when you're finished encouraging criminal behavior?"  

"Encouraging?  I was just congratulating actions you chose to take on your own!"  Lorelai protested.

"Whatever you'd like to call it, do you have a moment?"

"Sure Mom, what's up?" Lorelai asked, gesturing toward the other chair.

She waited as Emily got herself seated and took a breath before speaking.  "Your father asked me again about the barbershop quartet singing at the spa opening party."  She emphasized 'your father' so as to make it sound as though it was Lorelai's fault he had suggested singing at all.

"I think that sounds like a reasonable idea," Lorelai said.

Emily's eyes widened.  "You do?"

Lorelai shrugged.  "We'll need some entertainment anyway, since you wouldn't let me go with that troupe of acrobatic clowns that I suggested."  Besides," she added, smiling conspiratorially, "they probably won't charge us, right?"

Emily rolled her eyes and asked, "But are you sure it's appropriate?"

"Do you really want to tell Dad that we don't want them to sing at the party."

Emily's lips pulled together grimly.  "No, of course not.  I don't want to tell him that."

Lorelai looked at her oddly,  "Then what's the pro—"  She narrowed her eyes suspiciously.  "No.  No you don't.  If you don't want them to sing, you tell him, but you are not putting this on me."

Emily sighed deeply.  "Lorelai have you ever actually seen a barbershop quartet perform?"

Pinching her face in thought, Lorelai racked her brain. "Maybe?"

Her mother leaned forward, whispering, "There are costumes!"

"I know!  That's the best part."

Emily shook her head.  "Your father was right."


"You really do have no taste."

Lorelai pretended to be offended and was working on an appropriate retort when her phone rang and Cookie Monster's voice rang out, "C is for cookie..." Emily groaned, gesturing toward the phone as evidence. Lorelai just said, "Excuse me, my tasteless self needs to answer my phone.  Hey bakery girl, what's up?"

"Mom, hi.  I'm on...way...bookstore...don't have much time but—"

"Hey slow down, you sound all out of breath."

Rory ignored her, continuing in a rush.  " 12 times."

Lorelai wrinkled her brow in confusion.  "They read it 12 times?  Is that good?"

"No, I read it."

"Your article?" Lorelai asked, still confused.  "Of course you read it."

"Mom," Rory said in exasperation.  "I read the email 12 times to make sure, but I think Salon wants to publish my article!"



"Wow, Salon," Lorelai said in awe.

From across the room Emily asked, clearly impatient, "Salon?"

"It's Rory, Mom," Lorelai explained.

Emily gave her a confused look.  "Does she need to go to the salon?"

"No—uh, sorry hold on Rory—Mom, Rory's article is going to be published in Salon!"

"Oh, that's wonderful!" Emily said, her eyes lighting up with pride. 

"Oh," Rory said, "if Grandma's there you're probably doing work."

"As a matter of fact, we were just trying to decide whether to have Dad's quartet sing at the party," Lorelai said with a nod toward her mother.

"Oh please yes! I so want to see the vests!"

Lorelai grinned, looking over at her mother and pointing at the phone.  "Rory wants to see the vests."

"Of course she would," Emily muttered.

"Apparently that renders you a heathen," Lorelai told her daughter.

"She doesn't like the vests?"

"I'm working on her."

"Good luck with that," Rory laughed.

"Thank you, I'll need it."

Rory's voice softened into concern.  "But seriously Mom, you can't say no to Grandpa."

"I know sweets, we're not.  We're just working out the details."

"We'll have to limit the choreography," Emily said thoughtfully.

"Choreography?" Lorelai asked her mother.  At the small nod, her smile grew wider and she said, "Rory, there's choreography!"

"Choreography?  Like dancing?"  Rory's words had the awe of a small child and she could almost hear her daughter clapping in delight.   "Grandpa dancing in a glitter vest?  And you're debating this?" she asked in astonishment.

Lorelai glared at her mother grimly.  "Well, your grandmother seems to have become a newly inducted member in the, uh, what church does Mrs. Kim go to again?"

"Seventh Day Adventist."

"Right, that's it.  No dancing, no glitter, no fun," she pouted.

Emily responded with an irritated look of her own.  "Lorelai, we do really need to resolve this."

"Okay," she gave in.  "Rory, Madame No Fun over here wants to continue this discussion, but can we meet up for celebratory pie later?"

"Yeah, that's fine.  I'm on my way to my bookstore shift anyway.  I'll see you around 3:00 at the diner?"

"Sounds good," Lorelai agreed.  "And Rory?"


"Congratulations," she said softly.  "I'm so proud of you."

Rory's voice grew shy, "Thanks, Mom.  I'll see you later."

Lorelai closed her phone and set it on her desk before turning back to her mother.  "So, where were we?"

"Well, I have a CD that your father gave me.  Perhaps we should listen to get an idea what we're in for," she said ominously.

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫  

"There's my little up and coming journalist!"

Rory shook her head in embarrassment as Lorelai blew in the diner and threw herself around her daughter before plopping down into the seat next to her.

"So Salon huh?  You're in the big leagues!"

"I don't know about that," Rory said shyly.  She laid her head on her folded arms and looked sideways at her mother.  "I'm not sure what to do about Grand Rapids Press.  I got a call back from them right after I heard from Salon."

Lorelai waved her arm casually.  "Oh, kick 'em to the curb."  When Rory eyed her skeptically, she went on,  "They toyed with you, tempted you with that little bit of catnip right out of your reach.  Then someone came along and just laid a whole bunch of it right on the ground in front of you.  You do what anyone would do..."

"Catnip, you're talking to me about catnip?"

"That metaphor got away from me.  My point is, you didn't promise anything to anyone and you told that guy—"


"Okay, Jack.  You told him that you'd submitted it elsewhere.  He just didn't act in time."

Rory frowned thoughtfully.  "I don't want to burn any bridges."

"Who needs a bridge to Grand Rapids when you're in Salon?"

Luke chose that moment to bring over a mug for Lorelai and fill it with the coffee pot in his other hand.  "Salon?" he asked, clearly bewildered. 

Lorelai nodded enthusiastically, tugging on Luke's arm with one hand while gesturing toward Rory with the other.  "My kid's getting published on!  Isn't that fantastic?"

His eyes widened in confusion for a moment before he caught himself.  "Rory!  That's great!  Congratulations!"  He leaned toward her, hesitated a moment, then gave Rory one of those trademark awkward hugs that Lorelai had always thought were adorable.

Rory looked up at him when he pulled away, saying, "Aww, thanks Luke.  I'm really happy about it.  I've just got to—"  She jumped up suddenly and raced out the door, calling, "Lane!"

Lorelai looked toward the window just in time to see Lane and the twins be accosted by her daughter.  She grinned then turned back to Luke, whose gaze was also directed outside.

Frowning, she gave him a light punch in the stomach.  "You big fat, fibbing faker.  You have no idea what is."

He glared at her.  "I assume it's a website."

Lorelai just smirked.  "But you've never heard of it, right?"

He sighed in defeat.  "Should I have?"

"It's only like, the Walter Cronkite of online publications."

"And that's good?" he asked.

"Of course it's good!"

"But wasn't she talking to someone at a newspaper about having them print it on, you know, actual paper?"

Lorelai waved casually, chuckling.  "Newspapers are so 20th century.  We're in the digital age now."

"Okay," he said slowly, still clearly skeptical.  "So this is good?"

Lorelai smiled warmly, touched by his concern.  Leaning against him, she felt his arms wrap around her, and she answered, "Yeah, it's good.  It's very, very good."


♫   ♫   ♫


A little while later, they were each on their second slice of celebratory pie when Rory asked, "So did you decide about the party?"


"The spa opening.  Is Grandpa going to be showing off his glitter vest?"

"Ah," Lorelai answered, finally making the necessary mental connections.  "In the great barbershop compromise of 2008, Dad's quartet will be singing at the party, though sadly, sans vest."

"No vest!" Rory cried.  "But seeing Grandpa in that costume is pretty much the reason to have them play at the party."

"Well, I know that, and you know that, but your grandmother has different ideas about what is 'appropriate.'"  Lorelai shrugged.  "Apparently they have more standard formal wear for elegant occasions."

Rory nodded sagely.  "And this is an elegant event."

"Yeah," Lorelai sighed.  "As much as I try, I haven't been able to convince my mother to go along with the 'Saturday Night Fever' theme."

"Well, at least we can look forward to Grandpa's debut."  Rory smirked at her mother. "You know, I did a little searching and I found the chorus that his quartet is connected to.  Get this, the Hartford Chapter of the Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barbershop Quartet Singing in America is named the 'Insurance City Chorus.'  How appropriate is that?"

"I think I lost you somewhere between preservation and encouragement."

"Well that's okay because you can just call it SPEBSQSA."

"SPEBSQSA?"  Lorelai asked in amazement.  "My dad is in an organization called SPEBSQSA?  Oh, I am going to have so much fun with this!"

"I'm sure it's people like you who are responsible for them going mainly by the 'Barbershop Harmony Society'," Rory said wryly.

Lorelai shook her head.  "That's not nearly as interesting as SPEBSQSA."  

"How many times are you going to say that?"

"Until it stops being funny."  Grinning, she grabbed Rory's arm.  "There's got to be a t-shirt.  Please tell me there's a t-shirt."

"I can do you one better.  There's a whole website full of Barbershop themed merchandise."  Rory gave an evil grin.  "They even have—get this—a reversible ladies poncho."

"Poncho, as in rain poncho?"

"No, like an actual poncho, with fringe."

"Really?  And it's reversible?" Lorelai asked, smiling opportunistically.  "When is your grandmother's birthday again?"

"Mom."  Rory pulled a mock straight face. "Consider what you're suggesting.  That might be the end of Friday Night Dinners forever."

"Something to keep in mind then."

Rory shook her head.  "You are truly evil."

"Well then book me passage on the Hell train, because I would love to see the look on my mother's face when she opened that."

"Yep, pure evil." She shook her head.  "You know, they also had the cutest little t-shirt."

"Ooh, t-shirts!" Lorelai said, rubbing her hands together eagerly.  "Tell me!"

"It's got a picture of two little kids sitting on a bench and one is leaning over and whispering, 'My Grandpa's a barbershopper too!'"

Her mother's brow furrowed.  "And you want to add this to your birthday wish list?" Lorelai asked skeptically.

"No," Rory hissed.  "Not for me.  For the baby."

Lorelai look around uneasily.  "Uh, hon, you're getting a little ahead of yourself there."

"But you told me that you and Luke were trying."

"We are trying, very ambitiously I might add, but—"

Rory waved her arms.  "Okay, ugh.  I got it.  So sorry I asked."  She sighed, saying under her breath, "I really need to figure out what I'm doing with my life so I can get my own place like a real grown-up."

"Oh, don't worry," Lorelai said airily.  "Luke won't let us 'try' while you're in the house."


"Luckily you have 27 jobs..."

"I do not need to know this.  Subject change please," Rory begged as Luke approached the table to refill their coffee.  "Maybe you could get Luke's opinion on your birthday idea for Grandma."

He gave Rory an accusing glance.  "Now why do you have to bring me into this?"  Sighing heavily, he turned to look expectantly at Lorelai.

"Okay here goes," she started as he watched her warily.  "On the one hand we have Friday Night Dinners with my mother for the next 75 years.  On the other hand we give her the SPEBSQSA reversible poncho for her birthday and we're never allowed to step foot in her house again."  Lorelai held her hands out, palms up, moving them slowly up and down as if weighing the two options.  "What's your vote, Luke?"

He stared at her, bug eyed, then turned to Rory.  "Can I please go away now and pretend that I didn't just hear your mother speaking in tongues?"

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫  


Lorelai walked in the front door of the house, plopped her keys on the table in the entryway and kicked off her shoes on her way into the kitchen.  "In the name of all that is artery clogging and diabetic coma inducing, that smells amazing, babe."

"Good," Luke said gruffly, turning as she entered the room.  "Sit," he commanded, pointing at the chair closest to him.

She raised her eyebrow at his tone, to which he simply said, "We're having dinner together tonight if I have to tie you to the chair."

Lorelai gave him an evil grin.  "Ooh, dirty!" 

He just shook his head and clarified, "Tie you to the chair and feed you, because that seems to be the only way I'm actually going to be able to spend time with you." His shoulders sagged, as he leveled his gaze on her.  "I see you less now than when I still lived above the diner."

"Awww," she teased, patting his head before slipping obediently into the chair, "have you been sad and lonely without me?"

He grimaced at her teasing, but then answered simply.  "Yes.  And the next time you try to sell me on a Paul Anka bonding night please take note that Lassie does not sweeten the deal."

She pouted.  "Really?  I even got you the original 1943 version instead of the crappy remake."

He just shook his head as he turned back to the stove.  "So," he asked casually, "is everything going okay at the inn?"

"You mean besides Emily being Emily?"

"Yes," he said dryly.  "Besides that."

She shrugged.  "As good as can be expected, I guess.  The menus are off to the printers.  We're still waiting on all sorts of little construction details.  I'm still not sure when the linens and towels are going to be arriving.  We still haven't hired the last of our staff and oh, did I mention that spending this much time with my mother is not a healthy lifestyle choice?"

"No, really?  I don't think you mentioned that," he said sarcastically.

Lorelai let out a long, dramatic sigh.  "She's just always there, watching everything I do, waiting for me to screw up."

Luke turned toward her and she waited for a sympathetic glance or word, but he just said, "Or maybe she's just watching to see how it should be done."

"Yeah, right!"  Lorelai scoffed.  "This is my mother we're talking about."

 Luke shrugged, turning back to the stove.  After a beat he said, "She came into the diner today."

Crinkling her forehead in confusion, Lorelai asked,  "The diner?  My mother?"  She paused a moment.  "Did she eat?"

"She just got a cup of tea."



"At the diner."


She rested her chin in her hand and responded.  "Huh."

"Yeah," he went on, sounding vaguely amused, "She said you had quite a talent for this business."

Lorelai's head jerked up and towards Luke, but he continued his cooking.  "I'm assuming she meant the inn business," he clarified, finally turning around and giving her a small smile, before leaning over to check something in the oven.

"Was that before or after she complained about me for 45 minutes?"  Luke just glared at her until she looked down at her fingers tapping out a silent pattern on the tabletop.  "She really said that?" 

Luke's voice was completely genuine in response.  "She really said it."

Lorelai pretended to find a small crack in the table top endlessly fascinating as a small smile spread across her face.





To be continued...   






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