Author's Note: I am thrilled to present the season finale of Virtual
Season 8. I would be lying if I said there wasn't some relief attached to the
completion of such a huge undertaking, but I'd also be lying if I said I wasn't
a little sad to send this off into the great wide internet. Thank you to
everyone who contributed to this project in any way over the past year; thank
you to those of you who read and reviewed so enthusiastically; thank you to
wounded, lulabo, jenepel, and adina, who helped make every episode as good as it
could be; extra thank you to lulabo, for her supreme beta skills; and
especially, thanks to sosmitten, the driving force behind it all, without whom
you probably wouldn't have seen an episode 2, let alone episode 22.
♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫
Lorelai's feet were on the floor almost before she batted at the alarm clock.
She had gotten used to frantic mornings, her mind clicking and whirring on the
last problem, concern, or to-do list that she had been worrying over right
before she fell asleep. But today, a slow smile spread across her face. She
settled back under the blankets and tucked her feet, now cold, into the warm
space behind Luke's knees.
He groaned and smacked his hand around with his eyes closed, missing her
completely. "I don't like that," he mumbled.
"I know," she consoled. "I'm sorry." She wiggled her feet around some more.
He opened his eyes grudgingly and shifted onto his back. "Well, you're
extra annoying today."
"An interesting twist on the classic 'Good morning,'" she said.
He reached under the quilt and grabbed her ankles playfully. "Get these away
She giggled and flipped onto her stomach, rested her chin on his shoulder, and
smoothed a stray lock of hair from his eyes. "Hello," she said.
"Hi, there." He stretched.
"Do you realize that this is the first time in, like, three kazillion years that
I've had the opportunity to not get up the minute my alarm goes off?"
"You don't have to get up?"
"Nope! I can lie here for ten minutes. The spa is wallpapered and furnished,
Emily's on party detail—and I do mean detail—and Michel's covering
the desk until noon."
"I can't believe the spa is finally done," he mused.
"Almost done," she corrected. "Not done until the aroma therapy candles are
burning and people are moaning inappropriately with Enya in the background."
"You should put that in the brochure."
"Hey, are you going to get a massage on opening day?" she teased, kneading the
heels of her hands into the small of his back.
"Absolutely not," he said.
She pouted. "After all this work, these months and months of planning and
building and listening to my mother expound on the virtues of the acai berry,
you're really not going to be our first customer?"
"Tell you what," he said. "I'll moan inappropriately for you, but that's my
She lowered her voice, realizing something. "Luke. I can stay here for twenty
minutes if I want to."
He wrinkled his forehead. "Here's a question. Why didn't you just set your alarm
for twenty minutes later?"
She scoffed. "Because. Then I wouldn't have had the chance to bask in the luxury
of lounging around."
"You'd be basking unconsciously," he pointed out.
"You can't bask unconsciously. It's not possible. Basking, by definition,
"What time do you have to be in?" she asked, extending one leg in the air and
rotating her ankle in examination of a chipped home pedicure.
He looked at the clock. "Half hour," he said. "Zach opened, but he and Caesar
get to goofing off if I'm not in before eight."
"Rory and I never should have taught them bagel hockey," said Lorelai, contrite.
"They just weren't ready."
"With great power comes great responsibility," he teased.
She shifted to rest on top of him. "God. Such a geek." She dropped a few
kisses on his lips, which he returned.
"Have you decided to utilize your extra time this morning by making me late?" he
asked, running his hands up and down her arms.
"It's literally my only responsibility. How could I shirk it?"
"You've always been very conscientious."
"Ooh, I love it when you talk report card to me, baby."
He laughed and kissed her again.
♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫
Rory burst into the Dragonfly and hurried to reception. "Mom?" she called, a
huge smile on her face. She rounded the corner and saw Michel behind the desk.
"I do not recall giving birth to you," he droned. "But the 80s are something of
"Do you know where Mom is? She's here, right? I thought she said—wait,
Michel! You just cracked a joke!"
"I crack jokes all the time, which people might know if anyone ever listened to
a word I said."
"Maybe it's the accent," Rory said sympathetically. "It's not conducive to
"French people are hilarious!" Michel said defensively. "Just because our comedy
doesn't center around reproductive organs and poop..."
"Rory?" Lorelai asked as she came out of her office. "Hey, hon, I forgot you
were coming in today."
"Michel just said 'poop,'" Rory giggled.
"Aw, man! I missed it?"
"You are both dead to me."
"Can I get that in writing?" Lorelai quipped as he stalked toward the kitchen.
"So, guess what guess what guess what?" Rory said.
"What what what?"
pushed up my article! It's running in a special weekend edition,
and as of the stroke of midnight on Friday, I'm going to have my name in a major
publication above the fold! Well, it's the internet, so there's no physical
fold, but, you know."
Lorelai squealed and grabbed Rory's forearms, bouncing up and down. "At the
stroke of midnight! Oh, it's like Cinderella, but better!"
"And, it's the night of the spa party, so we can have a joint celebration!"
Rory stopped bouncing. "No way!" she protested. "That's your night! This is your
"Actually, it's Emily's thing," Lorelai corrected.
"This has been months in the making. I'm not stealing your thunder."
"Of course not! You're... sharing in my success. You can fight me all you want,
but there's no way we're letting this go unnoticed."
"Rory," Lorelai said, moving her hands up to Rory's shoulders and gripping them
firmly. "This? Is a big deal
Rory felt her face flush and tried to look away, but her mother's blue gaze was
intense and unwavering.
"I know," she said, her voice small but excited.
"A huge honkin' deal."
"I'm going to be published in a nationally established publication," Rory
marveled. "It hasn't really sunk in yet."
"Oh, it will," Lorelai assured her. "Give it time. And a couple glasses of
Rory rolled her eyes. "Fine, you've convinced me. Joint party it is."
"Oh, that's cute," Lorelai laughed derisively. "As if you had any say."
♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫
"And this is the kitchen," Lorelai said as she led her newest hire through the
Inn. "You can take your lunch back here, and there's always coffee."
"Oh, I try to stay away from caffeine," said Tasha, a doe-eyed, curly-haired
"God bless you," Lorelai quipped. "Sook? Have you met Tasha?" she asked. Sookie
looked up from her cutting board and smiled.
"The masseuse! Oh, honey, believe me
, it is so nice to meet you."
"It's nice to meet you, too," said Tasha.
"She's going to be managing the spa," Lorelai reminded Sookie. "And helping me
with the last of the staff hirings."
"Yeah, yeah, fascinating. Tash? Question. Do you do feet?"
Tasha appeared taken aback. "Do I... do them?"
"Yeah, you know, foot rubs. Because let me tell you, between the standing around
here and the chasing and the cleaning and the burping at home—"
"The burping?" Tasha asked.
"Sookie has a six-month-old," Lorelai explained.
"I'm on my feet all day, is what I'm saying."
Lorelai laughed nervously. "Sook, she's a highly trained massage therapist. I
don't think she does foot rubs."
"No, I'd be happy to," Tasha said. "Although you'd be surprised at how well
meridian work can relieve foot pain. Just a little energy reconcentration around
the torso, usually..."
She was interrupted by a crash, as Manny dropped a pan from the stove.
"Oh, don't tell me that was my bernaise sauce! Don't even, Manny! You're killing
me, you know that?"
Lorelai led Tasha out of the kitchen. "We're all a little on edge," she
apologized. "The expansion has been more stressful than we anticipated."
"Oh, of course."
"Listen, I have to run out in about ten minutes, but I'd love to go over a few
resumes with you."
They passed Michel at reception en route to Lorelai's office. He cleared his
throat loudly, cutting Tasha off mid-response.
"Oh," said Lorelai. "I'm sorry. This is Michel, our concierge. Michel, this is
Tasha. She'll be managing the spa."
Michel took Tasha's hand and kissed it, to Lorelai's extreme delight. "Enchante,"
"Likewise," Tasha replied uncertainly, rubbing the back of her hand against her
"I do hope you'll tell me if there is anything I can do to make your transition
as easy as possible?" Michel purred. Lorelai stifled a laugh.
"Sure," said Tasha. "Lorelai, you were saying something about resumes?"
"Yes, right this way," she said, gesturing towards her office door. She stared
Michel down, then leaned in and whispered in his ear as they passed.
"Congratulations. I'm thoroughly creeped out by you."
♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫
Rory sat at one of the rear tables at Luke's, barricaded by books, clippings,
and file folders. Her laptop was open and she typed furiously at the keys, her
fingers desperate to keep up with her brain. She couldn't remember the last time
she'd thought so fast.
"Can I get you anything?" Luke asked, suddenly at her side. She jumped in the
air, clutched her hand over her heart.
"Jeez, Luke, you scared
me," she chided.
"I'm sorry," he said, sounding anything but. "So, what are you having? Lunch?
"Nothing now, thanks," she answered distractedly.
He heaved a sigh. "You do realize that this is a restaurant
She looked around. "I see that, yes."
"A restaurant is a place where people come to eat, drink, pay and leave."
She glared at him. "Okay, I realize that my social life has been a little sad
lately, but I know what a restaurant is, Luke."
He clutched at the back of his baseball hat. "You're as bad as your mother," he
"Hey! I'm in the back, out of the way, not bothering anyone. She had
hanging in all the windows. You can hardly compare us."
"I'm coming back in ten minutes, and you better want pie," he warned.
"Hey, Luke, hang on. Let me run something by you?"
He looked at her suspicously. "What?"
"I'm pitching another idea to Salon
, and I kind of need a sounding
He shifted uncomfortably. "I don't know, Rory. I don't know how much help I'd
"Sounding board, Luke. Just pretend you're a brick wall."
He pulled out a chair and sat on it backwards. "I can do that."
"Okay, so here's what I'm thinking. The kids I met last week, the documentary
people? They're part of this subsect, a new youth culture that's a product of
three things: the tanking economy, private universities, and PTA moms." She
watched his brow furrow. "The job market sucks, right? We've got these 22 year
olds coming out of college after spending four years in this idealized fantasy
world, rolling green quads and brick buildings where everyone works hard and
plays hard and feels like they belong. Then they graduate and it's like, wait a
minute, you're overqualified for the minimum wage jobs that need filling, and
for the other three jobs out there in the world, you're in competition with the
very people you just finished hugging goodbye. So there's all this energy, but
nothing to put it into. Combine that with an upbringing that is increasingly
focused on social, environmental, and political awareness: enter the PTA mom.
Time was, parents were either working or keeping house for the family. Now we've
got a generation whose parents volunteered at food banks, took in foster kids,
raised money for PETA. Public service isn't encouraged, it's expected. Put all
this together and you've got people like Jamie and Zodi, who are, like,
passionate about passion itself, you know?"
She finally stopped to breathe and raised her eyebrows at Luke, who was taking
his brick wall role a bit too literally.
"You think a lot
She giggled. "A lot, a lot," she confirmed. "Did that make any sense?"
He shrugged. "It sounded good to me," he said. "But I'd read a grocery list off
a napkin if you were the one writing it."
"Aw, Luke," she said, punching his shoulder good-naturedly. "My one-man fan
He stood up. "Now. Order, or you're out on your smart little butt."
♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫
Lorelai flipped through the reservation book, looking for an open weekend in
September for a wedding party. When she was unable to find sufficient space
until Thanksgiving, she didn't know whether to be frustrated or elated.
Her cell phone vibrated at her hip and she answered absently, still puzzling
over a way to fit six bridesmaids into two rooms.
"Oh, thank God. I just got off the phone with Ginny Weaver, and her
mother-in-law is in town."
"I need to know if Sookie can add a head for the party. I know it's dreadfully
last minute, but the woman simply cannot be left alone without supervision.
She's downright senile. And I wouldn't even be asking if I didn't want Ginny to
be there so much. Out of everyone, her envy is the most important to me."
"Well, that's... real sweet, Mom. I'm sure it's fine."
"Sure?" Emily shrieked. "You are not sure, Lorelai, until you clear it
with Sookie! Promise me you won't forget, or get distracted by something shiny!"
"All right, all right, I promise," Lorelai said. "God, Mom, it's a piece of
salmon, not a WMD. Relax."
Emily sighed, an unwelcome whoosh of static in Lorelai's ear. "Okay, I have to
go now, I'll be in touch."
"I'll be looking forward to it."
She hung up the phone and gave the reservation book one last defeated glance
before picking it up and walked out to reception.
"Michel?" she called, just as the desk phone began to ring.
He held up one finger. "Dragonfly Inn, this is Michel. Hello! Oh, I am well, and
you?" He drew lazy circles on a Post-It and chuckled. "Mm-hmmm. Mm-hmmmm. Oh,
you are terrible!"
Lorelai rolled her eyes.
"Yes, yes, she's right here, one minute." He held the phone out to her. "It's
She gaped at him in confusion. "But I just..."
"Don't keep her waiting!" Michel admonished. "She's right, your manners do
leave much to be desired."
Lorelai grabbed the phone and narrowed her eyes at Michel. "Hello?"
"Lorelai? Oh, thank God," Emily began.
"Mom, we just did this thirty seconds ago. On my cell phone. Remember?"
"Of course I remember," Emily scoffed. "But immediately after hanging up, it
occurred to me that we never decided about the gift bags."
"I thought we were pro-gift bags."
"We never decided on the products, Lorelai, my goodness, please stay with
me," Emily implored. "Which lotions, which template for the gift certificates?"
"Mom," Lorelai said, pinching the bridge of her nose and summoning every last
bit of patience, "I am leaving those decisions completely and entirely up to
you. By decree, you are the sole, official lotion decider. Okay?"
"Well... all right," Emily said uncertainly. "If that's what you want."
"That is what I want. Now, I am hanging up, unless there's something else. By
which I mean: I'm hanging up."
She placed handed Michel the cordless phone and released a strangled groan. "I'm
taking a coffee break," she said. "If my mother calls again, tell her I joined a
passing caravan of gypsies and will try to make it back in time for the party.
Oh, and see if you can do anything about this Rubic's cube of a wedding
conundrum, will you?
♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫
Rory sat Indian style on the living room floor as she finished her pitch to
Dylan, one of the junior editors at Salon. The frayed hem of her jeans
was bearing the brunt of her anxiety. She was talking fast, both because she was
nervous and because she was already five minutes late for her bookstore shift,
in addition to the fact that she was a fast talker, in general.
"So, that's the general idea. I think these contacts, the documentary
filmmakers, they'd be more than happy to have me tagging along for a little
while, and I figure that would be my set piece. I'd probably need most of the
summer for that, and then the rest of the research I could do from anywhere."
Dylan hemmed and hawed. "Look, I love the idea. I think it's fresh and apt. But
I want to be straight with you, Ms. Gilmore. We really aren't in the business of
Rory's heart sank. "Oh, of course. Listen, it was just an idea. I figured I
might as well give it a shot, right?"
"You didn't let me say 'but.'"
"There's a but?" she asked hopefully.
"Your timing just happens to be rather fortuitous," Dylan continued. "In
addition to the fact that several of our editors were quite impressed with your
political piece, one of our regular columnists just went on maternity leave, and
the freelancer we had slated to cover her inches screwed us over for a
fact-checking job at the Times."
"What a jerk!" Rory said emphatically. "Let me assure you, sir, I would never
do that. I take my commitments very, very seriously, ask anyone. I have
about six bosses right now who would be happy to vouch for me."
"That won't be necessary," Dylan said, chuckling. "I still have to run it by a
couple of people, but I'd say the outlook is optimistic."
"Thank you! Run it by your people, and let me know. I'll get Jamie and Zodi's
itinerary, just in case."
"All right, Ms. Gilmore. You'll be hearing from us soon."
Rory hung up the phone and threw her arms around Paul Anka's neck. "Your big sis
knows how to get it done, buddy," she said, nuzzling her face in his
♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫
Lorelai walked into the diner on her cell phone, shooting Luke a look that
begged him to give her a hard time. She pointed to the phone, mouthed "Emily,"
and pouted furiously when he held up his hands and shook his head, refusing to
enforce his own rules.
"No, I'm with you, Mom. Four songs max for the quartet, I'm fine with it. Just
tell Dad we want less entertainment and more mingling. I promise you, he'll
"Good, and one more thing --"
"Mom, I'm walking into Luke's, and, you know, no cell phones."
"He told me he waived that rule for family."
," she corrected.
"This is an emergency!"
Lorelai groaned. "Champagne labels, thoughts on your party outfit, Dad's
repertoire of quartet songs, these are not emergencies, Mother. They're not even
Emily sniffed. "Excuse me for trying to keep you involved."
"I gotta go, Mom," Lorelai said, trying to keep her patience. "I'll call you in
the morning, okay?"
"Goodnight," Emily said stiffly.
Lorelai snapped her phone shut and let out a low, gutteral moan. "You are of
absolutely no use to me," she said to Luke, who was leaning against the counter
with a sympathetic expression.
"I'm not getting in her way," he said. "This ain't my first time at the rodeo."
"Right, I forgot, you're a regular cowboy," she deadpanned. "God, it's like the
past nine months never even happened! All I do is say yes to whatever she
suggests, and she still manages to get mad at me! She's back to being totally
inflexible, uncompromising, irrational. And shrill. Let's not forget shrill."
"With tons of cheese. A vat of cheese, Luke."
"You got it."
She crossed her arms on the counter and dropped her head on top of them.
"It's supposed to be over," she whimpered. "It's supposed to be done."
He patted her head gently, stroked her ponytail.
"Maybe that's what's setting her off."
She looked up glumly, her chin still on her forearms. "What do you mean?"
"Well, her part in all of this is coming to an end, like you said. Maybe she's
not ready to let it go."
She narrowed her eyes. "You've been having an awful lot of psychological insight
about my mother, lately."
He shrugged. "Don't get me wrong, I still think she's a nutjob, but her
motivations are usually not as complex as you seem to think."
"She's nagging to the point of making me want to decapitate her because she
working with me?"
Luke nodded, turned over her coffee cup and filled it from a fresh pot. "See
what I mean? Nutjob."
She took a sip from her coffee cup, considering his theory. "You kind of have a
knack for this mediation thing," she said.
He grinned. "I'm a man of many talents."
"Don't be too happy with yourself. I'm still waiting on that cheese vat."
"Coming right up."
♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫
The next morning, Lorelai sat in the library with Tasha, reviewing the newly
printed spa treatment brochure.
"Remember, this is just a prototype. I wanted to go over it with you one more
time before I give the printer the green light."
Tasha nodded, scanning the list. "The font is pretty."
Lorelai laughed. "Uh, yeah. It is. Mainly, though, I'm looking for your input on
content, not presentation."
"Oh! Good, I can be a lot more helpful, then," Tasha said, relieved. "One of my
specialty areas is prenatal massage, so it might be nice to include that on the
"Prenatal! Yes!" Lorelai said, making a note with her pen. "Great. I'll need you
to write up a short treatment description, two or three sentences."
"No problem. It really is so amazing how tending to the muscles most taxed by
pregnancy can make the experience so much more enjoyable. You said you have a
daughter, didn't you? Did you find yourself with a lot of concentrated lower
back pain, or was it less centralized?"
Lorelai laughed, one hand migrating to her lower back subconsciously. "I really
don't remember. It's been a couple of decades."
Tasha looked at her, surprised. "What
is your skin care regimen?" she
"Oh, you know. Water. Soap. Moisturizer."
"So, you only have the one child?" asked Tasha.
"Yes, just Rory. But my..." she searches for the right term to describe Luke,
but came up with nothing. "Luke and I are kinda testing those waters right now."
Tasha's eyes lit up. "You're trying for a baby? With the guy I met after my
interview, the baseball cap guy who was fixing the doorknob?"
"That's the one."
"Oh, that's wonderful! The two of you have such a positive energy together, and
I liked him a lot. His outlook on life seems humorous, but not brittle," Tasha
"Well, you caught him on a good day. Michel was home with strep throat."
"You know, fertility massage is one of the most successful conception aids,"
Tasha said. "Just normal therapeutic massage for relaxation has been shown to
help—takes the edge off the ovulation frenzy, you know? But there are also
abdominal accupressure/massage treatments that have really high success rates
among women in their late thirties and early forties. Plus, I'm a big believer
in crystals. We could schedule it now! My treat!"
Lorelai shifted in discomfort. "That's so nice of you. I'm really busy, this
week, what with all the... stuff, so how about I get back to you on that?"
"All right," Tasha said. "But don't wait too long! The sooner my healing hands
come in contact with your pelvic area, the sooner you might have a little life
growing inside you!"
Lorelai grimaced and tried not to say what she was thinking, which was: gross
♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫
Luke was waiting for her on the porch when she pulled the Jeep into the driveway
that afternoon, five minutes later than she said she'd be. He had Paul Anka's
leash wrapped around his wrist, and the dog was sitting at his feet with his
trademark blank expression.
"Sorry!" she called. "Lost track of time. Ready for our rigorous afternoon
"You mean our stroll around the lake?" Luke said dryly.
She took the leash out of his hands. "I don't stroll," she scoffed, then looked
him up and down teasingly. "You strut."
"I do not strut," he said. They headed down the driveway.
The afternoon walk with Paul Anka was something they'd been doing a lot over the
past couple of weeks, since the weather turned gorgeous and spending the entire
day inside their respective businesses began to feel like a crime against
nature. Only a half hour, and only once or twice a week, but it was becoming
habitual, and Lorelai loved it. More often than not, it was the calmest, most
normal part of her day.
"How's work?" she asked.
"I broke the deep fryer."
"Accidentally or on purpose?"
"Why would I purposely break my own deep fryer?"
"To get me to stop eating deep fried food," she said. "In which case, I want you
out of the house by the end of the week."
"You'd just get your fix elsewhere," he said. "I'm not that naive."
"Hey! You'll notice that since we put babies back on the table, I've made a
concerted effort to eat a little healthier."
"First of all, you should never put babies on a table. I'm starting to rethink
this whole thing," he teased. "And second of all, you still smother all things
green with a wide variety of cheese. More green, more cheese. That's not
"Hush, you," she said. They passed the new floating dock, and Paul Anka tugged
at his leash. Lorelai stopped short. "I think Paul Anka wants to go on the
floating dock," she said, amazed.
"No," Luke said. He bent down and grabbed a rock from the end of the dock, then
put it down in front of Paul Anka, who picked it up with his teeth. "He just
wanted to see what that rock tastes like."
"Hey, speaking of baby tables," Lorelai said. "You should have heard Tasha
today. She's apparently way into prenatal, and pre-pre-natal, massages."
"Tasha's the new spa manager?"
"Yeah. She's very nice. Kind of cliche, but very nice."
"What's a pre-pre-natal massage?" Luke asked, wrinkling his brow.
"Oh, some kind of fertility thing. I kinda freaked out and stopped listening
once she started throwing around the words 'abdomen' and 'accupressure.'"
Luke looked at her out of the corner of his eye. "You stopped listening?"
"Also, 'pelvic area.'"
"Maybe you should have heard her out," he said.
She stopped in her tracks and Paul Anka pulled against the leash.
"Am I hearing you right? You believe in this energy-restoring, rub-the-abdomen,
He shrugged. "I wouldn't say I believe in it, like it's a voodoo thing. It's a
real thing, right, a medical thing?"
"I guess so," she said warily.
"I don't know. It might not be the worst idea in the world. Some couples do much
more aggressive treatments, really invasive, expensive stuff. If you—if we
did this pre-pre-natal thing, and it helped speed up the process..." he trailed
"That would be good," she finished.
"Yeah," he said, and gave her a smile. "It would be good."
♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫
Later, at the Inn, Lorelai went about tying up the loose ends of her day. She
was plucking Post-It notes off her computer screen as she completed each task,
and was down to only two. She remembered writing the second to last one, this
morning, but couldn't for the life of her read her own handwriting. It looked
like "Arty Dud Well."
"Arty Dud Well," she said out loud, rolling the words around in her mouth. "Art
Tea Dud Well. Artie Did Well. Artie Dudwell."
She closed her eyes and retraced her morning. Staff meeting. Cranberry scone.
Coffee. Phone call from Emily. Coffee. Rory—that was it. "Artie Dudwell" was
"Article Dad Wall." She picked up the phone and dialed her father's cell phone,
not willing to risk the house line and another party conversation with her
"Hello?" boomed her father's familiar voice.
"Hey, Dad. I have a question for ya."
"Yes?" There was still a tinge of suspicion in his voice whenever she asked for
something; ah, nostalgia.
"Rory's article is going to go live on the Salon
like, when the web people activate the links so that people can --"
"I know what it means for an article to go live, Lorelai. I'm not living in the
"Sorry. So, the article's going up at midnight on Friday, and I was thinking it
would be really cool if we could all watch it happen at the party. You know,
transition from 11:59 Rory Gilmore Classic to 12:00 Rory Gilmore, Salon
"Ah, that sounds quite exciting," he said.
"Yes, I thought so. But the thing is, thirty-plus people crowded around the
Inn's reservation computer..."
"Lacks a certain amount of fanfare, doesn't it?" Richard mused.
"Exactly. Any ideas?"
"Perhaps," he said thoughtfully. "At Yale, they've got this... thing...
installed in my classroom. A Smartboard, I believe it's called. It projects
media onto a screen, and you can write on it and sync it with your computer."
"It's called a Smartboard?"
"So, it's a robot?"
Richard sighed. "No, Lorelai. It's not a robot."
"It sounds kind of like a robot."
"I can try to procure a Smartboard for the party," Richard said, ignoring her
"They let you just take the robots?" she asked.
"Not exactly. But I don't think anyone would miss it for one weekend," he said
Lorelai gasped. "Dad! You're going to steal
a Yale robot?"
"No, Lorelai, I'm simply going to borrow the robot—the Smartboard
for one evening."
"And you can get it rigged up and working here at the Dragonfly?" she asked
"Lorelai, you called to ask me a favor, and I am here telling you that I would
be more than happy to assist. A modicum of confidence in my abilities would be
"Modicum granted," she replied. "I'll see you tomorrow, Dad. Any chance you
might serve me up a glittery surprise?"
He chuckled. "Enrage your mother and risk dismemberment? Not even for you, my
She hung up smiling, and grabbed the last Post-It from the computer. This one
was clearly legible: "Finalize spa offerings." She looked at the printout on her
desk, the margins covered with Tasha's suggestions and corrections. Squeezed in
toward the bottom was a write-up of the fertility massage. She read the
description through once, thoughtfully, and then skimmed it again.
♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫
Friday morning, in her mother's bedroom, Rory held a dress up to herself and
sashayed in the mirror.
"How about this one?" she asked. She directed the question to Lorelai's rear
end, because the rest of her was halfway in the closet, foraging for a missing
"I don't like that pink on you," Lorelai said without turning around.
"How do you know?" Rory demanded. "You can't even see it. And how do you even
know it's the pink one?"
"I just know," Lorelai said. "You're too fair for that salmony color. Try the
green chiffon, with the beaded neckline." A seafoam colored garment came flying
over Lorelai's shoulder and landed near the bed, ten feet from Rory.
"Your fashion ESP is good, but your aim could use a little work," Rory said. She
picked up the green dress and rubbed the soft, filmy material between her thumb
and forefinger. "This is beautiful."
Lorelai finally extracted herself from the closet, triumphantly clutching her
prize shoe. "Success! Ooh, that's gonna be magic on you," she gushed. "With your—"
"Pearl chandelier earrings and—"
"The necklace Luke gave you for your birthday," Lorelai finished. "Which shoes?"
"Ballet flats, I think. What about you?"
Lorelai waved the kitten heels in the air. "I'm working backwards. Starting with
"Try this," Rory suggested, throwing the pink dress back across the room.
"Nah, I wore this to Friday night dinner recently. That'd be suicide, with my
Rory sat on the bed and watched her mother slip a black cocktail dress over her
head. "Not black," she admonished. "This is a celebration!"
"I like celebrating in black," Lorelai pouted.
"How about the blue one?"
"Gonna have to be more specific."
"Woman, you have entirely too many clothes."
"I know," Lorelai agreed, chagrined. "I have a shopping problem. When Luke moved
in, I had to tell him that that half of it's yours."
Rory laughed. "I have a feeling many more dresses are in your future, if
business keeps going the way it has."
"It's insane! The spa isn't even open yet and we're already booked through the
leaf season." She pulled on a lemon colored jacquard shift.
"I love that on you," Rory declared. "That's a winner."
"Really?" her mother asked, rotating in the mirror. "Okay, then. We are
officially styled for this event."
"Rough morning," Rory joked.
"Such difficult lives we lead. Speaking of leads, any news from Salon
about masterpiece number two?"
"Nice segue," said Rory. "The junior editor is talking it over with some
higher-ups, but he emailed me last night and said it looks good." She tried, and
failed, to keep the grin from her face.
"Looks good!" Lorelai squealed, leaping onto the bed and settling beside Rory.
"You're going to be a freelancer! Freely lancing --"
"Your own ideas, your own subject, whatever you want to write about," Lorelai
finished, seemingly unfazed by the interruption. "It's kinda like you're back to
features, babe. That's really always been your passion, whether it was secret
societies or repaving parking lots."
Rory turned on her side and chewed her lip thoughtfully. "Yeah," she said. "I
guess it has been."
"I can't wait to see your article up there."
"Up where?" Rory asked suspiciously.
Lorelai hopped off the bed and headed toward the bathroom. "Up... there. You
know. In the world. Of the internet. I have to take a shower," she said
"I do not like the sound of this. Don't blow this into a huge thing! This is
your night! Your celebration of being the world's greatest most fabulous
success!" she called.
Her mother ducked her head back around the doorframe and smiled. "I'm more than
willing to share the title."
♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫
"You look beautiful!" Lorelai exclaimed, holding Sookie at arms length and
surveying her outfit.
"So do you! I had to get out of the house before somebody got slimy handprints
"I had to get out of the house before I got slimy handprints on myself," Lorelai
admitted. "Rory brought home cinnamon rolls from Weston's."
They were sitting in the library of the Dragonfly, having a private toast to
their expansion before the craziness began.
"Can you believe us?" Sookie asked. "We're, like, bigtime serious
"Should I get a briefcase?" she wondered.
Lorelai wrinkled her forehead. "What for? Whisks and spatulas?"
Sookie giggled. "I guess that would be kind of eccentric."
"Lorelai?" her father's voice called from the lobby. Lorelai checked her watch.
"My dad was not kidding around when he said he'd be here early." She stood up
and put down her champagne glass before heading to greet him.
"Hey Dad!" she said. "Ooh, is that the robot?"
"This," Richard said, shifting the bulky equipment in his arms, "is the
Smartboard. Where would you like me to set it up?"
"In the library," she said, leading him to the back corner. She watched as he
set it down and stood back with his arms crossed. He picked up one wire, then
another; exchanged both for a thick black cable, and grunted.
"Gonna be okay, Dad?"
"Well, it seems that the instruction manual was not right on top of the machine,
as one would expect," he began. "So I'm at a bit of a loss."
"Should I take back my modicum?"
"Just... maybe you could help me?" he asked hopefully. Lorelai laughed in spite
"Dad, I can barely work the toaster."
"But hang on, I might have someone who can help," she said, leaving her father
tangled in red, yellow, and white wires and heading back to reception, steeling
herself for a fight.
"Michel," she said, in her best no-nonsense voice, "I need you to do something,
and you're not going to like it, but I need you to do it anyway, because it's
not for me, it's for Rory, and I would really, really appreciate it if, on this
one night, you could refrain from giving me a hard time and just do what I say,
which is: can you please go help my father wrangle the Yale robot into working
"But of course," Michel simpered. Lorelai literally took a step backwards.
"Your wish is my command."
"Are you... feeling all right? And by all right, I mean substance-free?"
"I will go offer your father the benefit of my technological skills," Michel
said, all smiles.
After he walked away, Lorelai spotted Tasha through the half-open door to her
office, finishing up some paperwork.
"Oh, boy," she muttered. But at least there was now a 30% chance that the
Smartboard would be working by midnight. "One thing at a time," she reminded
♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫
The party was in full swing by eight and Lorelai's crack staff was doing its
best to keep it that way, with drinks being refreshed and canapés being passed
around. She watched her mother flit from group to group, adapting her
personality to converse with the diverse guests. Emily touched her pearls and
chuckled primly to something Ginny Weaver's husband said, and threw her head
back and laughed freely with Sookie's culinary school friend. Lorelai felt a
twinge of something like pride that had nothing to do with how beautiful the inn
and the new spa looked that night.
She snuck up behind Luke, who was talking to Jackson about his newest vegetable
hybrid. She placed a heavy hand on each of his shoulders.
"Everyone's here except Liz and TJ," she said. "Do you think they forgot?"
He rolled his eyes. "Possibly. It's also possible that they got distracted
watching dandelion spores scatter, or that they decided to become circus carnies
and are in the middle of their first performance."
At that moment, TJ's voice carried from the lobby. "We're here, we've got beer,
get used to it!"
"Or they stopped at the packy," Lorelai said. Luke let out a heavy sigh.
"How are we going to keep him away from your mother's friends?"
"Hey Luke!" Liz screeched. "Lorelai! We have a surprise for you!"
"TJ already announced the beer," Luke said.
"Ta-da!" Liz sang, with some improvised soft-shoe. She reached behind her and
yanked April out of the shadows.
"Surprise!" April shouted, holding her arms straight above her head and waving
her hands around in the air.
Luke laughed, Lorelai squealed, and across the room, Rory let out a yelp of
"What the..." Luke said, as his daughter flew against his chest. She hugged
Lorelai next, who wrapped her arms around the girl tightly and swayed from side
"How'd you talk your mother into this one?" Luke asked, grinning from ear to
"I saved up for the plane ticket myself," April said. "With babysitting money.
So she couldn't really say no. I've been planning this, since, like Halloween!"
"April!" Rory cried, giving the girl a hug. "What a great surprise!"
"Well, I couldn't miss this momentous occasion," April said, waving her hand
around to indicate the spa. "And then when I found out that my big sister is
about to have her name above a brilliant article on a big deal news site, it
sealed the deal."
Lorelai watched her daughter blush demurely. "Come say hi to Lane and Zach,"
Rory said, grabbing April by the arm. "And I want more info on you-know-who,"
she said, casting a teasing look in Luke's direction.
"Who-know-who?" he asked in panic, but the girls were already threading their
way through the crowd. He turned to Lorelai. "Do you know about you-know-who?"
She held up her hands. "I'm a vault."
"April said 'sister,'" he mused.
"I heard," Lorelai replied, all smiles.
"Lorelai!" Emily called, appearing at her side. "Now that everyone has arrived,
I think it's time for the toast."
She nodded. "Duty calls," she said over her shoulder to Luke, as her mother led
her briskly away.
Lorelai tapped on a water glass until everyone quieted down.
"Hi everyone, sorry to interrupt your conversations," she began. "I just wanted
to thank you all for coming tonight to celebrate the completion of the
Dragonfly's spa expansion. It took a lot of people working a lot of extra
overtime to get us here tonight, and I'd like to raise my glass in a toast to
everyone who supported this project over the past several months." Glasses
clinked and "hear, hears" echoed across the room. "I want to thank my partner,
Sookie St. James, for her unfailing commitment to the Dragonfly, and our
concierge and manager extraordinaire, Michel Girard, whose attention to detail
has never been more annoying or more crucial than during the construction
process." Lorelai smiled and everyone laughed. Rory patted Michel on the
shoulder consolingly. "But most of all, I want to thank the woman who made it
possible. Emily Gilmore, your vision, attention to detail, and enthusiasm were
the driving force behind all of this, and I never could have done it without
you," Lorelai said sincerely. She maintained eye contact with her mother, whose
face was opening up like a flower. "Any success the spa brings to the Dragonfly
is a testament to your talent for this business. It has never been clearer to me
that I truly did learn from the best. Now, without further ado, I would like to
introduce the entertainment for the evening: my father, Richard Gilmore, and his
Emily mouthed the words "thank you" to Lorelai as she stepped back into the
crowd, and if she didn't know better, she might have thought that those were
tears glinting in the corner of her mother's eyes.
♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫
The older, Hartford side of the crowd started to filter out after ten, leaving
only Lorelai's and Rory's close family and friends to usher in phase two. The
Smartboard was up and ready to go, displaying Salon
's homepage on the
back wall. Rory and April sat at one of the dining tables, chatting about both
girls' tentative summer plans.
said they'd get back to me with a better idea of what the contract
would look like on Monday," Rory said. "But all I really care about is that
travel expenses are covered. I've squirreled away enough money the past few
months to get by other than that. Living at home rent-free was a definite
"Getting by with just the bare essentials, out on assignment," Richard said
approvingly. "Very Hunter Thompson."
"Grandpa! You've read Hunter Thompson?" Rory couldn't imagine her grandfather
settling down with a copy of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
"When you get to be my age, you'll find that there is little else worth doing
except for reading, and that there are few books worth reading that you haven't
already read. So yes, I'm branching out a bit."
"I'm impressed," said Rory.
"And you, April? Will we be seeing you in Connecticut for any length of time
"Definitely for the month of August," April said. "I'm going to try to convince
Lorelai to let me work here part-time. Dad said he'd give me a job at the diner,
but my skin is just too sensitive for that right now. Did you know that a girl's
prime breakout years are between the ages of fifteen and eighteen? And did you
know that the primary cause for skin blemishes is grease, consumption or
"I did not," Richard mused. "I imagine Luke's has a great
deal of grease
"A great deal," April agreed. "I'd rather make beds all summer than risk acne."
"Spoken like a true teenager," Lorelai teased, having just arrived at the table.
She placed her hands on Rory's back.
"T minus five minutes, love," she said. "Want to address your adoring public?"
"Oh, how could I refuse?" Rory said, rolling her eyes. Her mother knew how much
she disliked speeches, especially when she was her own main subject.
"Just a quick thank you," Lorelai suggested. "For all the nice people waiting to
see around to see if you'll turn back into a pumpkin."
Rory read the confusion on her grandfather's face and filled him in as she stood
up. "Cinderella reference. Midnight, pumpkins."
She followed her mother to the center of the room and didn't even need to use
the wine glass tapping trick; all eyes were on her before she even addressed
them. Such singular focus from this group was familiar and comforting, but she
no longer took it for granted. Somewhere between having her ass handed to her in
Iowa and having sacks of flour handed to her at Weston's Bakery, she had learned
that being at the center of more than one person's life was a gift that she had
never worked very hard to deserve. She looked around at the smiling faces, her
grandparents, Lane and Zach and April and Sookie and Jackson, Liz, TJ, Luke. And
Lorelai, always, hovering just around the edge of everything that Rory thought
"Hey, everyone," she started self-consciously. "Toast number two, but it will be
quicker and undoubtedly less eloquent than the first, I promise. I just want to
thank you for sticking around so late. My mother is known for making the
smallest occasions ceremonial, and your patience in this case is very much
appreciated," she teased. "But in all seriousness, I want to thank my mother, my
grandmother, and Sookie, for sharing the spotlight with me tonight. In a few
minutes, something that I worked very hard on is going to be read by a lot of
people, and that's exciting, but the reactions that I place the most stock in
are right here in this room. Thanks for a great party. I love you all," she
said, her cheeks feeling hot. The applause made her feel even more exposed,
despite the fact that the hardest part was over, so relief was short-lived.
They started to countdown at the thirty second mark, and Michel took his
position beside the Smartboard. At "one," he hit the refresh button, and there
it was. Rory's title and her byline were magnified 1,000 % or something close to
it, but she still couldn't quite believe what she was seeing. A year's worth of
struggle and triumph and failure, boiled down to 3,000 words and projected on a
wall. She grinned and thanked everyone who offered their congratulations, unable
to peel her eyes away from the Salon
logo and the nice, clean sans serif
font of her own words.
♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫
Lorelai checked her watch in amused disbelief; it was closing in on one AM, and
her parents were still here. It had taken them a couple of rounds to adjust to
the rules of Celebrity, but now they were competing with their usual level of
intensity. Lorelai had excused herself several minutes ago to help Sookie clear
the last remaining coffee cups.
Emily was up, flailing her arms desperately and making ferocious facial
expressions. "Dinosaur!" everyone kept shouting.
"T-rex! Steg! Pteradactlyl!" April suggested.
Lorelai doubled over in laughter as her mother's face turned from ferocious to
flabbergasted by the inept guesswork of her team. "Spiderman!" she cried when
the timer ran out.
was that Spiderman?" TJ demanded. "Spiderman is this!" He got up and
mimed shooting webs from his wrists.
"I'm sorry, Mrs. G, but that was beyond weak," Zach agreed.
They continued to squabble amongst themselves as Lorelai watched from a safe
distance. Soon, she felt Luke's arms wrap around her from behind, and she leaned
her head back against his shoulder.
"Party animals, these people," she remarked.
"That they are."
"But," he continued reluctantly, "they're our family."
She tightened her grip on his arms and nodded. "I'm starting to think we lucked
out in that department, despite evidence to the contrary."
"Yeah," he laughed. "Me too."
"It's kinda nice. No matter what happens or doesn't happen with the baby thing,
we've done pretty well for ourselves. Not everyone can say that."
"Yeah," he agreed. "We're pretty lucky."
She twisted out of his grip. "Sap," she teased.
"It's way past my bedtime," he offered by way of explanation.
They rejoined the group and watched Rory and April tag team their way through
the next round. She threaded her fingers through Luke's and surveyed them up
close, Luke's family and hers, the quirky friends that had engrained themselves
in the fabric of their daily lives. She had never expected a time when she would
look at these people and not have a Highlights magazine flashback ("One of these
things is not like the other..."), but it had happened. They
happened, for her and to her, even though it might not have been what she'd
imagined a family to look like when she was thirty and full of specific ideals
-- dangerous ideals that had led her straight into the dead-ends of funhouse
mirrors, again and again. What she had in front of her was not like anything
she'd ever thought she wanted, and everything she now knew she couldn't live
♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫
♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫
♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫