Episode 9.15 "The Pros and Cons of the Winds of Change"
by Filo and Olivia Jane
Authors' Note: A few words of thanks before we dive into the
story. We would like to thank each other for being awesome co-writers. Again.
Special thanks to our lovely betas. Mags, Jewels, we appreciate
all your help in taming our comma abuses and our general rejection of the
English language. Thanks to Robin for being awesome, just because she
is. And a particular thank you to George Clooney for being a little tastier
every passing day... and cake. Just because cake is cake, and that is all you
need in life...
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"Jeez," Luke muttered as he walked out of the kitchen and saw TJ grinning from
Lorelai's usual stool. "It's never a good thing when you're smiling like that."
"What can I say, fatherhood really agrees with me," TJ said.
"Apparently," Luke said. He nodded to Liz, sitting next to TJ. "How's it treating you?"
"Fatherhood?" Liz asked.
Luke rolled his eyes. "Parenthood in general, I meant," he said. "How is Dawson doing?"
"Oh, she's up all night long," Liz sighed. "Driving me nuts. She cries louder than TJ."
"I don't cry that loud," TJ said conversationally and grabbed a menu.
"I take it you guys are here for lunch then," Luke said. "Need some time?"
"Time for what?" TJ asked.
"For a good enough reason to cry?" Luke asked through clenched teeth.
"That's okay," TJ said. "I'm in a pretty good mood today. But I would like to order some lunch."
"What'll you have?" Luke pulled the order pad from his waist band and the pencil from behind his ear.
"I think I want pie," TJ said, flipping to the back of the menu. "Oh!" he said brightly. "And a milkshake!"
"You've got to have some lunch too, Hon." Liz rolled her eyes at Luke and then sat up straight. "Oh! I've got something for you." She pulled a crumpled up pamphlet from her pocket and slid it across the counter.
"What's this?" Luke tried to lay the paper flat. "'Natural Childbirth and You'," he read aloud, grimacing at the words. "I think you should talk to Lorelai."
Liz chuckled. "No, it's for you. It explains all about natural childbirth. How to choose a Lamaze class, breathing exercises, that kind of thing. You need to know about these things too, Big Brother."
"I don't want to know about these things."
"It was great for me," TJ chimed in.
"I'm sure it was," Luke said sarcastically. "What with you not actually having to give birth and all."
"Ain't that the truth, buddy," TJ said.
"Well, at any rate," Liz interjected. "Take it, read it, show it to Lorelai. Talk it over. Can't hurt to have all your bases covered, you know? "
"She's had a kid before," Luke said. "It's not news to her, Liz."
"It's been a long time since she had a kid," Liz said. "Maybe there's something informative in there?"
"Fine," Luke said, sighing. "I'll take it. Just don't take it as your cue to harass her with any of that fruity, hippie stuff, got it?"
"Got it," Liz said and rolled her eyes as Luke stuffed the pamphlet into his back pocket.
♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫
"Caesar, I'm headed up!" Luke called towards the kitchen, grabbing all the
receipts by the register and walking behind the curtain. He rubbed the back of
his neck as he dragged his feet up the stairs. He pushed the door open and
kicked it lightly shut with his foot, and then sat down at the kitchen table.
He took the stack of receipts and began to sort
through them, making three different piles. Halfway through the pile he sighed,
dropping the receipts and leaning back in his chair. He readjusted his ball
cap, stood up, and picked up the phone.
He took a deep breath and quickly dialed Anna's number. "Hello?" she answered curtly after two rings.
"Hey," Luke said. "It's me."
"I noticed," Anna replied. "Caller ID, remember?"
"Oh," Luke said. "Yeah. That's right. Got a second?"
"Just one," Anna said humorlessly.
"Okay," Luke said, sighing softly, sensing Anna's mood from the tone of her voice. "I just thought we could find some time to talk about... you know, what agreements we could come to about April? I mean, like what kind of time frames I could look forward to... you know, in general?"
"Isn't that what mediation is for?" Anna asked bluntly.
"Well, yes," Luke said. "I just thought we could go in with a clearer picture in mind, make things less uncomfortable."
"Right now?" Anna asked wearily.
"Not necessarily," Luke said.
"Well good," Anna said. "Because I gotta tell you, I'm up to my ears here. I'm busy, Luke. Can we do this another time?"
"Listen, obviously I caught you at a bad time," Luke said, attempting to keep his voice even. "All I wanted to do was call and find out when was a good time for you so we could talk to each other about this."
"Oh, let me get my planner," Anna said, clearly annoyed. Luke listened as Anna sounded as though she were shuffling through some papers. "Okay," she said, coming back to the phone. "I'm booked solid, Luke," she said tersely.
"You know what?" Luke said. "Forget it. I'm sorry I interrupted your day. How about you call me back when things are less hectic?
"Yeah," Anna sighed. "I'll do that."
"Thanks," Luke said, gritting his teeth. "Have a great day, Anna." He ended the call and tossed the phone onto the table. He picked up the receipts and began to distractedly shuffle through them once more. "You're not the only one who has stuff to do," he said under his breath.
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Rory stepped out of her apartment building, rummaging through her purse to pull out her
car keys. She looked up when she found them, and stopped short before she ran
into the figure bent over in front of her. The man was bent at the waist,
picking up items that had fallen onto the sidewalk and tossing them into a
plastic basket. Rory tilted her head, momentarily admiring what seemed like a
nicely toned backside that was only accentuated by a pair of well-fitted jeans.
"Sorry, I'll just be a second."
Rory's eyes went wide as her eyes moved quickly to the man's face. It was Kevin. "Hi," she said a little too brightly. "You, uh, need some help there?"
"Nah, I just fumbled my load on the way out and tripped over the... that thing right there in the doorway," he said, pointing at the rubber seal. He tossed the last item into the bucket and grabbed the metal handle. "I'm going to wash my car."
"Fun! How much would you charge to wash mine?" she asked.
"For you?" Kevin said. "Ten bucks."
"Wow. I could drive down to the corner and get it washed for less," Rory said.
"But it wouldn't have that special 'Just washed by a hot stud' look," Kevin argued.
"For five bucks, I'll settle for the 'Just washed by Chuck' look I can get there," she said.
Kevin shook his head. "Chuck is busy with all the tech support and saving the world from Fulcrum," he said.
Rory looked blankly at Kevin. "Um, what?" she asked.
"Television show," Kevin said. "I thought you were some kind of pop culture savant."
"Well, what's it called?" Rory asked.
Kevin cleared his throat and smirked. "Chuck."
"Oh," Rory said. "Okay, apparently I haven't seen that one."
"Sad," Kevin replied.
"Well, I'm not really into spy shows," Rory said, following Kevin as he walked over to his car. "I'm more into... the other shows."
"Technically, Chuck isn't just a spy show, but I will forgive you that thought since you've never seen it. What other shows? Stuff like Army Wives?"
Rory smirked. "I have heard of that one. Would you care to share how you know about that show?"
"My mom likes to watch it." Kevin held up his finger, signaling her to hold on for a second. He jogged over to the side of the building, and when he returned, he was dragging a hose behind him. "Tess says it's not that bad. She watches it with mom every once in a while."
"I'll ask her about it the next time I see her. I haven't really been watching that many of the newer shows lately. I got behind on a lot of things when I was following Obama around, and when I came home, I kinda stuck to the classics."
"You know, the older shows," Rory dodged.
Kevin squinted from the sun as he tried to look her in the eye. "What have you been watching, Gilmore?"
Rory shrugged. "The classics," she said again.
"Like... The Andy Griffith Show?" he asked uncertainly.
"More like, um... oh, Buffy!" she said.
Kevin snorted. "Like blegh, I want to suck your blood Buffy?" he asked, amused.
"I said Buffy, not Dracula—George Hamilton style," she scoffed.
"That show was so weird," Kevin said, shaking his head.
"It was funny," Rory said defensively. "It had a certain je ne sais quoi about the humor."
"That's code for it was girl crap," Kevin said.
"It's not the only show I watched," Rory said.
"Okay, what other stuff then?" Kevin asked. "Edit out the girl crap."
"Ab Fab," Rory said.
"Girl crap," Kevin said dismissively.
"The Office," Rory continued.
"Girl crap," Kevin said.
"How is that girl crap?" Rory asked, exasperated.
"Because of the dork with the hair wings," Kevin said. "The one who always just looks at the camera."
"I liked the British version more," Rory shot back.
"Even more girl crap," Kevin said. "Because chicks dig the British."
"Jeez, get a little more xenophobic," Rory sighed.
"I have nothing against the British," Kevin said. "I just take offense to their weenie television shows."
"You're insane," Rory groaned.
"And you're a girl," Kevin said, laughing.
"I suppose you watch all the ultra macho television shows," Rory said.
"I like a good man show," Kevin agreed.
"Think carefully about what you just said," Rory said.
Kevin scowled. "Prison Break. Superman. Oz. The Shield. That's some quality television there, lady."
"There are aspects of good," Rory nodded. "But it's all a little too testosterony."
"Is that even a word?" Kevin asked.
"Well, it is the new San Francisco treat." Rory grinned.
Kevin blinked in confusion.
"Okay, I know you're hopeless if you don't even recognize a good Friends reference," Rory said. "I think we should just agree not to watch TV together."
"Probably a good idea." He noted the keys in her hand. "You headed out somewhere?"
Rory looked down at her hand and jangled her keys. "Oh! Yeah, I have to go to the store. Need to grab some snap, crackle, and pop."
"That's the cereal you eat?" Kevin teased.
Rory rolled her eyes playfully as she turned to go to her car. "No TV watching and no sharing of cereal. See ya!" She waved as she continued walking and smiled when he returned it with a peace sign.
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Luke grabbed the phone off the hook and held it up to his ear as he slid a
plate of food in front of a customer sitting at the counter. "Luke's," he
"Hey, Luke, it's Anna," she announced.
"Hey," Luke said, bracing himself for a fight.
"I had a free moment and figured I'd call," she said.
"Yep," Luke said. "Kinda assumed that, with you being on the other end of the line."
"Yeah," Anna said. "So, got a second?"
"At least one," Luke said dryly.
"Listen," Anna said. "Why don't we cut to the chase, here? I'm sorry. I acted like a jerk the last time we talked. I was in a lousy mood, and I'm sorry I took it out on you. It wasn't very fair of me."
"No," Luke agreed. "It wasn't."
"I'm sorry," Anna repeated. "I really am."
"It's okay," Luke sighed. "So what's up?"
"Well, I talked to April. She made it clear that she wants you in her life. And... And I think she's right. You do deserve more custody rights."
Luke let out a deep breath. "Okay."
"So..." Luke walked behind the curtain and into the storeroom. "Um, how do you want to do this?"
"I still think a mediator is the best way."
"Yeah, okay. Um, do you want me—" Luke said hesitantly.
"I can call the person we used last time. Get some times and call you back?" Anna asked, clearly eager to end the phone call.
"That sounds good. And Anna?" Luke said, scratching nervously at his stubble.
"I'd like Lorelai to be involved as well," he added, cringing slightly.
There was a long pause followed by Anna's sigh. "Okay. I'll call you when I know something."
"Thanks," Luke said. He ended the phone call and blew out a sigh of relief.
♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫
Luke walked across the bedroom, yawning and idly scratching his belly as he
prepared for bed. He bent over and picked up his haphazardly discarded jeans
and carried them toward the hamper, checking his pockets for loose change.
Coming to a halt, he pulled out the pamphlet that Liz had given him earlier in
the day and looked at it critically before tossing his jeans into the hamper.
He walked across the room, unfolding the crumpled paper before dropping it on
the nightstand. With a tired sigh, he climbed into the bed and slid in between
Lorelai strolled out of the bathroom, rubbing lotion into her hands and forearms. "Are you ready to sleep, or is it okay if I read for a few minutes?" she asked.
Luke ran his fingers through his hair, and then scratched his jaw. "Yeah, go ahead." He watched as Lorelai slipped into bed next to him and relaxed into his pillow as she opened her book. He continued to stare as she slowly turned the page.
He grinned. "Stop what?"
Lorelai gave him a playful glare. "You know I hate when you watch me read. Find something else to amuse yourself."
Luke leaned over to kiss her shoulder, and then rolled over and looked at his nightstand. He picked up the pamphlet and read the first few lines. "Did you know that the drugs that they use during childbirth can actually harm the child?"
"Mmm hmm," Lorelai replied, turning another page.
"It says here that natural childbirth tends to give the mother a feeling of empowerment."
"I remember the epidural giving me the sensation of no pain," Lorelai retorted, closing her book to focus on her husband. "What are you reading?"
Luke shrugged. "Something Liz gave me today."
"Let me see that." Lorelai didn't wait for an answer, snatching the paper out of his hand. "'Natural Childbirth and You'." She chuckled as she skimmed over the page, reading out loud. "Natural childbirth allows both the mother and father the ability to remain in control of the mother's body as much as possible. Um, the father? All he's doing is holding the hand and trying to avoid looking at the naughty parts."
"That's not all he's doing," Luke argued.
"Let me read, please," Lorelai replied. "Here's that line about the drugs possibly endangering the baby. Umm hmm, umm hmm. It fails to mention that the drugs rarely do anything to the baby to begin with."
"But the drugs lead to having to monitor the baby unnecessarily."
"Which means that they will stick a bunch of monitors and stuff on me. I'm fine with that. Cable in hospital sucks. Watching Danes Baby TV would be so much more entertaining."
"Luke, I had an epidural with Rory, and everything turned out fine. That was over 20 years ago. I think they've improved on the epidural process since then."
"I know, but—"
"Babe, I appreciate your... enthusiasm in wanting to be involved in everything with the baby. But I think this is my decision to make."
"Excuse me?" Luke asked sharply, struggling into an upright position.
"I'm not trying to go Gloria Steinem on you, but—"
"This is my kid too," Luke said, pointing emphatically at Lorelai's belly. "I think I have a little say in what happens here, Lorelai."
"I'm not trying to imply that you don't," Lorelai said.
"Sure as hell sounds like it to me," Luke retorted.
"All I'm saying is I'm aware of my options," Lorelai said, her irritation becoming more obvious. "And when I weigh those options, I'll—"
"You'll decide for the both of us," Luke said. "Glad to know where I stand in all of this."
"Damn it, Luke." Lorelai sighed. "You have a say."
"No," Luke said, throwing back the covers and getting out of bed. "I get to have an opinion, and it will be ignored. I read you loud and clear."
"Where are you going?" Lorelai asked as Luke stomped toward the bedroom door.
"Somewhere my opinion counts," Luke growled, looking back over his shoulder and glaring at Lorelai.
"And where is that?" Lorelai asked.
"The kitchen," Luke said as he stormed out of the room. "Maybe the bread box will be a little more open to what I have to say."
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"I can't believe you'd say that! It could hear you!" Rory pushed open her
apartment door with her foot, her hands weighed down with take-out bags. Tess
followed close behind, each hand holding a take-out cup. She awkwardly hugged
two more cups to her chest, concentrating on the chore of not letting them
spill before they got inside.
"Look, I'm just not a fan of Chinese food, what can I say?"
"How can you not like Chinese food?" Rory asked, aghast.
"Way too much abuse of the common noodle." Tess shrugged.
"There are vegetables," Rory argued. "You like vegetables."
"I like my vegetables to taste like vegetables," Tess said. "I don't like to have the options of sweet, sour, or all of the above."
"Intriguing argument. Anyway," Rory said, slurping in a noodle as she changed the subject. "We have some serious business to deal with tonight."
"Yes, what did you get from Netflix?"
"You know I don't have that. I meant my Courant offer." Rory pulled her pro/con list from her purse and spread it out between them. "Now, I've got this—"
"Rory Gilmore, is that a pro/con list?" Tess snatched up the list and studied it. "Did you use a ruler to make these lines?"
"I refuse to answer that on the grounds that it may incriminate me," Rory said, yanking the list out of Tess' hand.
"Haven't you ever heard of Excel?" Tess asked, flopping down onto the couch. "I hear it's really good for list-making."
"I hate formatting pros and cons," Rory said as she sat down as well and began to root around in the take-out bags. "What is this?" she asked, sniffing at a styrofoam container and grimacing.
"That's my Turkey Tacos Olé," Tess said, handing a bag to Rory as she took her food into her own hands. "And don't give me that look," she said, scowling at Rory's disgusted expression. "Take a long hard look at that MSG coated goo before you judge, okay?" She opened her taco and took a huge bite. After she swallowed, she continued. "Excel is the business tool of choice for a reason. It's very versatile. You could list everything into a spreadsheet and then easily sort items by importance or—"
"It's very useful at work!"
"Could we please focus on the items on the list itself and worry about the look of it later?" Rory waved the list in front of Tess' face. "Okay, under the pros I've already got that it is a steady job. It pays. And that's about it."
"And the cons?"
"Well, the editor knows my grandfather..."
"I thought you were over that."
"It's on the list. In pen. It's not coming off."
"If you had put the list in Excel, you could easily delete that right off."
Rory rolled her eyes as she tossed the list on the coffee table and leaned back into the couch cushions. "I need food first. Hand me my noodles, please?"
Tess grabbed a container and handed it to Rory. "Ever wonder if MSG can eat a hole in your stomach wall?"
"I don't know," Rory said as she began to wolf down her food. "Ever wonder if that's your stomach going 'Olé!' or if it's really that your pancreas died of fright over the sight of that supposed taco right there?"
"Leave my turkey taco out of this," Tess grumbled. "Oh hell," she gasped. "I forgot to get a Choco Taco!"
"Good grief," Rory sighed. "This is the fast food version of the saying about people who live in glass houses."
"What, they shouldn't throw egg rolls?" Tess asked.
"Something like that," Rory said, rolling her eyes.
♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫
Luke slid a plate of pork chops into the center of the table and sat down. He
watched as Lorelai silently filled her plate and began to eat, her eyes
downcast the entire time. He sighed quietly and began to fill his own plate,
grabbing a roll out of the bread basket and sliding it toward Lorelai.
He couldn't take the quiet any longer. "Penny for your thoughts," he said gruffly.
"I don't know if I could take the penny," Lorelai said tersely. "It's yours. You should do whatever you want with your own penny."
"I don't exactly agree with that," Luke said in a clipped tone. "See, since we're married, the penny concerns both of us. I wouldn't spend the penny without consulting you, and I would hope you wouldn't spend it without consulting me."
"You know where you can put that penny, right?" Lorelai asked darkly.
Luke shoved his plate away and sat back, crossing his arms over his chest. "I don't see why this is so crazy to you," he said. "This is my kid, too. You're mad at me because I want to talk about options. I'm not demanding that you take the options. I just want to talk about them. But no, you start waving the 'my body, my choice' banner and tune me out."
"And all I tried to tell you was that—" she began.
"You told me to butt the hell out," Luke spat. "You basically told me to shut up and sit quietly in the waiting room until it was time to pass out the cigars."
"I did no such thing," Lorelai said.
"I don't want my kid pumped full of drugs," Luke said, banging his fist on the table top.
"Oh my God," Lorelai groaned. "You're blowing this all out of proportion."
"I am not," Luke said, setting his jaw stubbornly.
"You are too," Lorelai shot back.
"No, I'm not," Luke growled. "I want my damn opinions to count."
"You're acting like I'm giving the doctors the okay to shoot me up with something they bought in some dark back alley," Lorelai said. "It's how things are done. They do it every day. They're doctors. They're professionals, Luke. You don't have to experience it."
"I'm not stupid enough to not realize that," Luke argued. "But I am a part of this. I'm involved here, Lorelai. I'm not—"
"Don't you dare bring him up right now," Lorelai said sharply. "One has nothing to do with the other. Christopher is a whole different story. You know what? I'll do it. I'll do the natural childbirth."
"Yeah?" Luke asked suspiciously.
"On one condition," Lorelai said with a nod.
"And what condition is that?" Luke asked, narrowing his eyes.
"When it's time for the episiotomy, you let them do it to you first," Lorelai said.
"Oh, that's logical," Luke said, rolling his eyes. "Kind of helps if I have the right parts, don't you think?"
"Fair's fair," Lorelai said, wiping her mouth with a napkin and tossing it on the plate. "They can come up with similar enough agony for you. Share the pain, Baby."
Luke got to his feet. "I'm done," he said sullenly. "I've lost my appetite. Possibly my sanity, too. I'll be upstairs if you're ever willing to rationally discuss this."
"Don't hold your breath," Lorelai muttered.
"Whatever," Luke growled as he stomped out of the room.
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The coffee table was laden with empty containers, the ones on Rory's side
stacked neatly, while the ones on Tess' side were strewn about haphazardly.
Rory sat on the floor, leaned over the one cleared off space of the table,
reciting the items off the sheet of paper.
"Okay, so for pros we have that it's a steady job, it pays, and they offer pretty good insurance."
Tess took a sip from her cup and laid it on the table. "And the cons?"
Rory gave her a withering stare. "I've told you three times not to put your drink so close to the list." She pushed the cup an arm's length away. "The cons are that the editor knows my grandfather, and... well you know the other one."
"I put the cup there because it's funny to see that smoke come out of your ears. If you'd use Excel like I've been suggesting, we'd be done by now." Tess giggled. "Now, what was that last con?"
Rory rolled her eyes. "That I can't work naked."
"Well, technically, you could," Tess said, grinning evilly. "It may distract the comics editor, though."
"I'm alluring to the man who brings Funky Winkerbean to the masses?" Rory asked. "That should be a pro, too."
"Add it!" Tess laughed. "Oh, and doughnuts. Add that, too."
"Doughnuts?" Rory asked as she wrote.
"Don't reporters always have doughnuts?" Tess asked.
"I think you're thinking of the police," Rory said with a sigh.
"Oh," Tess said. "Yeah. Um... Okay, you'd have an actual job."
"Can the job be a pro if it's a pro/con list about the job?" Rory asked.
"Yes," Tess said, nodding. "See, if you already had the job, you wouldn't need a pro/con list about the job. See how that works?"
"No," Rory laughed as she added the steady job point to her list.
"You'd have a steady paycheck," Tess continued.
"That kind of goes hand in hand with the steady job," Rory pointed out.
"But the paycheck is a pro on its own," Tess argued. "You can go shoe shopping whenever you want."
"Ooh, shoes!" Rory said. "That's definitely a pro. And it would look great on the resume," she added as she wrote. "Note how I'm ignoring the fact that we're maliciously repeating half of the pro list again."
"Very sexy resume bullet point." Tess nodded. "And good job ignoring the obvious."
"And... networking!" Rory said, writing faster now. "Good contacts. People. People who know people. That's always a good thing."
"If you start singing, I'm going to kick you," Tess muttered. "And people are also a con. Add that to the con side too."
"How are they a con?"
"Because people are stupid." Tess held up her index finger. "That's rule number one in life. Learn it, live it, love it."
Rory scrawled 'people' on both sides of the list and then reviewed the items. "This is the worst pro/con list ever. I can't make an informed decision based on nakedness, doughnuts, and shoe shopping."
"Of course not, those should be weighed differently from the other items."
"What, you mean like ordering them?" Rory looked over at Tess in confusion.
"No, I mean like a weighted average. See, if you were using Excel—"
"Stop with the Excel!"
"No, seriously, this is good." Tess smiled. "If you were using Excel, you could weigh each item on the list and then use a formula to tally up the totals. Then the one with the highest score wins!"
Rory shook her head. "You're insane."
"I have an idea. What about we make a pro/con list of whether or not you should use Excel?" Tess clapped her hands and bounced on the couch.
"I think it's time to put the list away now," Rory mumbled, folding up her list and slipping it into her back pocket. "Let's go get some ice cream."
♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫
The bells echoed in the empty diner as Sookie walked in. Luke came out of the
kitchen and nodded, waving his arm out to signal for her to sit anywhere.
"Wow, it's dead in here," Sookie observed out loud, taking a seat on the second stool of the counter.
"It's a lull." Luke slid a menu in front of her and handed her a glass of water.
"Kirk's not even in here."
"He likes to catch up on Judge Judy around this time. Know what you want?"
"Cheeseburger, fries, and a soda. Is the side of bitter free?" Sookie closed the menu and gave Luke an understanding smile.
He sighed as he wrote her order down. "Sorry, it's been a rough day." Luke walked into the kitchen and began to prepare her order.
Sookie leaned forward, calling out to him. "Yeah, on my end too. I've got to work with your wife, remember? She keeps muttering about her body, her choice, and something about where you can shove your extra change."
"That would be about right," Luke replied.
"So what exactly is the problem?" Sookie asked.
Luke walked out of the kitchen. "There's no problem," he said, scowling darkly at Sookie as he placed a soda in front of her.
"If your nose grows any bigger we could open a ski resort on your face," Sookie said.
Luke rolled his eyes. "The only problem I have is that I don't remember taking any wedding vows that said that I would promise to keep my mouth shut about my kid until my wife gives me permission to have a damn opinion."
"Ouch," Sookie said. "Okay, you do remember who is actually giving birth here, right, Luke?"
"Again with this," Luke growled. "All I want is to have a say about what drugs get pumped into that baby's system. There's a lot that can go wrong, Sookie."
"Of course there is," Sookie said. "There's a lot that can go right, too, Luke."
"Fine," Luke said. He went back into the kitchen, filled Sookie's plate and carried it back out to her. "You've done it both ways," he said.
"I've done what?" Sookie asked as she took a bite of her cheeseburger.
"The baby thing," Luke said. "Which way do you prefer?"
"Wait, conceiving the kid or giving birth to the kid?" Sookie asked with a giggle.
"Don't make the baby dirty," Luke said. "Which method of childbirth worked for you?"
"Oh, you're going to try to make me choose a side," Sookie said, munching on a French fry. "Give me an army knife, because I'm Switzerland, sweetie."
"Come on, you don't have an educated opinion here?" Luke asked, exasperated.
"Okay," Sookie said. "Here's what I think. And if I have this come back to me in a hormone driven rage by you know who, I'll hunt you down, Luke."
"Okay," Luke said, waving his hand distractedly.
"There are lots of perks to natural childbirth," Sookie said. "You get the personal, private experience, you're more in tune to everything, you get to dictate a little more how you want your baby to come into the world, and in theory, your husband gets to be up close and involved in the whole process. It's a very intimate experience. In theory."
"Do I want to ask what you mean by 'in theory'?" Luke asked.
"Let's just say Jackson didn't have the most enthusiastic reaction to crowning," Sookie said with an innocent smile.
"What do you mean?" Luke asked.
Sookie reached over and pulled her straw out of her drink. "See this?" she asked, holding it up for Luke's perusal.
"Yeah?" Luke said, cringing as he spoke.
"Now, just imagine Davey's head," Sookie said.
"Aw, jeez," Luke groaned, squeezing his eyes shut and turning his head away.
"Exactly," Sookie said with an emphatic nod. "Let the girl have her drugs, Luke."
Luke sighed, rubbing the back of his neck with his hand. "But—"
"Look, I know you're thinking of both Lorelai and the baby, but honestly? There are so many other things that Lorelai is already worried about. Whether or not she should be able to get some relief from an epidural should not be one of them."
Sookie pursed her lips, stirring her drink with her straw. "Just regular things that all women worry about when they're pregnant. How it's going to change their body, their relationships, and how they will handle the actual delivery. If their husband will be able to handle the delivery, and... well, a lot of things worse than the straw that I think I'll spare you from."
Luke nodded his head slowly. "Yeah, I guess this is kinda small on the scale of the big worries, huh?"
Sookie patted his hand. "I think it's one of those things where you need to be supportive, and it should be her decision. Jackson learned after Davey that it should be up to me for that kind of thing. He stills remembers that knot on his head from hitting the floor. The bottom line is that yeah, you're in it together, but you're not really in it together. Maybe you should listen to what Lorelai is trying to tell you the next time it's brought up. Which will probably be soon based on how she's tearing through the inn."
Luke readjusted his cap and leaned on the back counter. "I'll think about it, okay?"
Sookie shrugged, picking her cheeseburger back up again. "Hey, it's your decision. Just make sure you've got a spare pillow by the couch in case she locks you out of the bedroom before you can grab one."
"Noted. I'll be in the back. Call me if you need anything?"
"Sure thing." Sookie bit into her burger as Luke walked behind the curtain.
♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫
"I'm coming!" Rory yelled towards the door as she closed the lid to her laptop.
There was more banging on the door as she reached for the knob, and Rory shook
her head in annoyance. "Who is it?"
"Landshark!" the muffled voice replied.
"Kevin?" She opened the door as far as the chain would allow.
"Rory, let me in. It's an emergency." Kevin bounced from foot to foot, his hands stuffed into his jean pockets.
Rory quickly shut the door and undid the chain. She yanked the door open and turned to the side as Kevin rushed in. "What's wrong? Is it Tess?"
Kevin didn't reply, instead walking quickly to her couch and grabbing the remote. He plopped down on the center of the couch and turned on the TV. "My TV crapped out on me right in the middle of the game. Thank God it happened during a commercial." He rested his feet on the coffee table.
"That was your big emergency? Some... sports game? I thought it was a real emergency!" Rory stomped over to him and nudged his legs until he put them on the floor. "People eat off this table, you know."
"Right off the table? What, you have no plates?" Kevin joked, leaning forward to get a better look at the screen. "Score! Hells yeah! Nothing but net!"
"Well, nice to see you're doing well. Thanks for asking, I'm doing just fine," Rory said, sitting down at the far end of the couch.
"How's it going, Gilmore?" Kevin asked distractedly.
"Just peachy," Rory said. "So, what—"
"Dude!" Kevin yelled. "Traveling!"
"Not recently," Rory said, rolling her eyes. "Though I would love to see the South of France. It's lovely this time of year."
"I went to France once," Kevin said.
"Really?" Rory asked.
"No, not really," Kevin chuckled. "Got any junk food?"
"Huh?" Rory asked, confused.
"Popcorn, chips... beef jerky!" Kevin exclaimed. "I could totally dig some beef jerky right about now."
"Let me run down to the convenience store and get you some," Rory said.
"Really?" Kevin asked, surprised.
"No, not really," Rory said, laughing.
"Tease," Kevin muttered. "What is this?" he groaned, leaning forward in his seat. "Did you see that?" he asked, looking at Rory.
"I see they wear very baggy shorts in basketball," Rory nodded.
"No," Kevin said. "He fouled that—"
"You do realize I don't actually watch basketball, right?" Rory asked.
"But it was—"
"There's an orange ball," Rory said.
"Yeah, and that guy right there—" Kevin said, pointing at the television set.
"He wants to make the orange ball go in the round thing up there," Rory said, pointing at the net.
"Yes, but the point is—"
"Do they get to flip a coin?" Rory asked.
"Huh?" Kevin asked, staring at Rory in disbelief.
"There's something about coin flipping, isn't there?" Rory asked.
"Gilmore, are you jerking my chain?" Kevin asked.
"I don't exactly do sports," Rory sighed.
"How did you ever pass a gym course?" Kevin asked.
"I went to private school," Rory said. "Fencing was as sporty as we got. I consider mocking to be my exercise of choice, anyway."
"Mocking?" Kevin asked.
"If it were an Olympic event, my mother and I would tie for gold medals," Rory said, beaming.
"And where do you go for prime mocking?" Kevin asked. "Movies? Pizza shop? Congress?"
"It's kind of like those guys who always have a hacky sack in their pocket," Rory said. "We go everywhere, prepared to mock at a moment's notice."
"Intriguing," Kevin said, looking at the television again. "Yeah, call a time out," he groaned. "Maybe if you waste a little more time you can figure out how to pull a win out of your—"
"Town meetings are the best place for mocking," Rory said, glaring at the game on television. "Hey, you should come to the next town meeting," she said.
"Huh?" Kevin asked as he stared at the TV. "And what town meeting are you talking about? There are no town meetings around here."
"Not here, in Stars Hollow," Rory said.
"Oh, Mayberry," Kevin said, nodding. "What's ole Andy Taylor up to these days?"
Rory laughed out loud. "Well, Taylor Doose has been on a tangent about making it mandatory to stuff your pant legs into your socks during tick season, so who can guess what will be on the docket this week?"
"Seriously?" Kevin asked, arching an eyebrow. "That's the kind of stuff you guys discuss?"
"No," Rory said. "That's the kind of stuff we mock."
"I'm in," Kevin said, chuckling. "This, I gotta see. Dude!" he suddenly bellowed, turning his attention back to the television set. "Use the whistle. Use the whistle! It's there for a purpose, you moron!"
Rory rolled her eyes and got to her feet. "I'll go look for some snacks," she said, stepping over his legs. "Sounds like this is going to be a long game."
♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫
Luke held open the jeep door as Lorelai stepped out. She pointedly ignored him
as she straightened her dress and began to walk slowly to the building. When
Luke went to put his hand on the small of her back, she stiffened.
Luke sighed. "Come on, I said I was sorry."
"Well, sometimes sorry isn't enough."
"I really thought it was half and half."
Lorelai gave him a sidelong glance as she picked up the pace so he was no longer touching her. "It was all decaf."
"I didn't do it on purpose."
"Of course not," she replied sarcastically. "Funny how that always seems to happen when you're mad at me." They reached the front doors and Lorelai put her hand on the door handle as she turned to look at him. "I know you're still pissed about the whole baby drug thing, but can we drop it for now? This is important."
Luke ran his fingers through his hair and let out a slow breath. "You're right." At her raised eyebrow, he rolled his eyes. "This is important. I say we table the fight."
"You mean parking lot it."
Lorelai pointed behind her. "We're leaving it out in the parking lot, not on a table."
"Whatever. All feelings regarding the fight will be left on this side of the door. Deal?"
Lorelai gazed coolly at Luke. "Deal," she said finally. "And next time, don't take it out on my coffee."
"I won't," Luke said, holding the door as he let Lorelai pass. He followed her inside and looked around. They made their way toward the mediator's office, taking a seat on a couch after Luke checked in.
"Nervous?" Lorelai asked, watching as Luke fidgeted with his tie and suit jacket.
"Is it obvious?" Luke muttered.
"Yes," Lorelai said, reaching over and taking Luke's hand into her own.
"Are you gonna cut off a finger?" Luke asked warily. "Take the pinky first. I use it less than I do all the others."
"Sweetie, if I was going to cut off a finger, I'd go for the thumbs," Lorelai said. "I find you annoying right now, but I still kind of like having you around. I'm not going to not support you here."
"Thanks," Luke said, relaxing a little. "Anna," he muttered, jerking his head toward the door as she arrived. He stood up to greet her.
"Hi," Anna said, holding up her hand as Lorelai struggled to get up. "Please, stay," she insisted. "Don't get up on my account. I remember the feeling."
"Thanks," Lorelai said gratefully.
"So, how long?" Anna asked, looking around.
"Uh, the clerk said they'd get us in about ten," Luke said. "Or less," he added as the clerk approached them. Anna followed the clerk as Luke turned to help Lorelai up.
She gave him a small smile and lightly grasped his coat lapels. "You ready?" He nodded. She turned him around and placed her hand on his back, following behind him.
♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫
Rory pulled into the driveway of the Crap Shack and sighed when she didn't see
Lorelai's jeep anywhere. She grabbed her purse from the passenger seat and
walked up the front porch. She turned the doorknob and stepped forward quickly,
bumping into the front door when it didn't budge.
"You would think I would remember that with Luke here, the door would be locked when no one is home, but no, five bruises later I'm still slamming right into wood," Rory said to herself, rubbing her nose as she turned around.
She stepped back and sat on the top step, reaching into her purse for her pro/con list.
"Sugah! Are you locked out? I've got a spare key inside somewhere if you need in," Babette yelled from her front door.
"I'm good, Babette, just waiting on Mom to get home," Rory called back. She gave Babette a wave and then brought her attention back to her list. A few moments later she jumped in surprise when Babette sat next to her on the step.
"I think Luke mentioned they were going out of town for a few hours. He was all dolled up in a suit and tie. Not sure how your mother lets him out of the house looking like that without mussin' him up real good, but he was all cleaned up."
Rory winced at her words, smiling politely when Babette gave her a wink.
"Whatcha got there?" Babette pointed at the paper in Rory's hand.
"Oh, nothing, just a pro/con list I've been working on about... a potential upcoming project." Rory folded the paper quickly and slipped it back into her purse.
"You and those lists. I haven't made a pro/con list in years. I think the last time was when I was trying to decide if I should change the theme in our bedroom."
"Your bedroom has a theme?"
"Oh yeah, a well designed bedroom theme keeps that bed hoppin', if you know what I mean," Babette said, putting her arm around Rory's shoulder. "It had been a jungle theme for a while, but Morey seemed to be getting bored with the Tarzan thing, so I was thinking of changing it to something more Arabian Nights. You know, veils, sultans, belly dancing—"
Rory tripped over her feet as she rushed to stand. "That's really... interesting." She glanced down at her watch quickly as she walked down the steps. "I think I remember Mom saying that they wouldn't be back until later tonight. I'm just going to head home and call her later."
Babette stood as she followed her down the stairs. "Okay, sugah. If I see them when they get back, I'll let them know you stopped by."
"Thanks." Rory walked swiftly to her car and slid into the driver's seat. "Never ask Babette to expand on a topic. Never, never, never," Rory muttered to herself. She started her car and shuddered as she pulled out of the driveway.
♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫
Luke drummed his fingers on the table distractedly as he looked around the
conference room. He lifted his head and caught Anna's eye. She nodded slightly
to his hand, and he clutched his fingers into a tight fist before laying them
flat on the table. As the mediator shuffled through some papers, he sighed,
clasping his hands together. Luke turned to face Lorelai when she placed her
hand on his knee.
"Are you okay?" he whispered, his eyes dropping to her stomach.
"I'm good. Are you okay?"
"Because you can't sit still. First, it was your fingers playing Chopin on the table, and now your leg is shaking so fast, the floor is registering a three on the Richter Scale."
Luke took a deep breath and let it out slowly. He grasped the hand Lorelai had placed on his knee, and brought it up to the table. He brushed his thumb over the back of her hand as he watched the mediator looking over the final page.
The mediator cleared his throat. "So, the two parties agree to alternating weekends with the child, along with an even distribution of the holidays. And Mr. Danes, you are also requesting one week night?"
Luke nodded once, his grip on Lorelai's hand tightening.
"Did you have a preference on which week night?"
"Um..." Luke glanced at Lorelai, who only shrugged. "Wednesdays okay?" he asked, looking over at Anna.
Anna nodded, and the mediator began writing on a sheet of paper. "Wednesdays it is then," he said, flipping to a new page. "That covers everything. All I need now are your signatures." He slid the paperwork to Anna, and after she had signed them, he handed them to Luke.
Luke released his grip on Lorelai's hand, signing the papers quickly. He pushed them back towards the mediator and then sat back in his chair.
The mediator placed the papers into a folder and stood. "Thanks for coming in today. You folks have a nice afternoon." As he left the room, Anna and Luke stood as well.
"Thanks again for doing all this," Luke said sincerely, walking over to Anna and holding out his hand.
Anna gave him a brief handshake. "It's what April wanted." She gave Luke a small smile and then turned to Lorelai. "We've got a few maternity shirts that you may like. You should stop by the store sometime to check them out."
Lorelai grinned. "Definitely."
Anna nodded to them and walked out the door.
Luke turned to his wife and gave her a huge grin. "That wasn't so bad."
Lorelai stood slowly, making her way over to him. "No, it wasn't. Feel better?" She placed a soft kiss on his cheek.
"Yup." He pulled her into a tight hug. "I feel great."
"Enjoy that feeling while you can," Lorelai said, returning the hug.
"Because once we get back outside, I'm mad at you again."
Luke sighed, his shoulders slumping. "Well walk slow, I wanna enjoy this high for as long as I can."
♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫
Luke looked up as Lorelai walked into the diner, a sullen expression on her
face. He sighed and turned around, grabbing a cup and a pot of coffee, filling
the cup as she found a seat at the counter. "Rough day?" he asked as he slid
the coffee in front of her.
"Ankles," Lorelai muttered. "They're large and in charge, and mad as hell and they're not going to take it anymore."
Luke frowned. "Foot rub tonight?" he asked as she took a sip of coffee and froze. "What?" he muttered as she looked at him suspiciously.
"This is real coffee," she said.
"Yeah," Luke said. "So?"
"You haven't given me real coffee without a fight for days now," she said.
"You looked like you really needed it," Luke said, shrugging.
"What are you up to?" Lorelai asked.
Luke sighed heavily. "Nothing," he said. "Want a cheeseburger?"
"Of course I do," Lorelai said. "Now, what are you up to?"
Luke leaned on the counter and looked solemnly at Lorelai. "I really hate all the fighting," he said softly.
Lorelai played idly with her coffee cup. "I do too," she said.
"Can we stop that now?" Luke asked. "Please?"
"I would really like that," Lorelai said, sighing.
"I'm sorry I've been so pushy," Luke muttered.
"I'm sorry I keep making you feel like you aren't involved," Lorelai said. "You are involved. I just seem to be saying all the wrong things."
"I just don't want anything happening to you," Luke said, taking Lorelai's hand into his own. "I don't want anything going wrong. If anything happened to you or the baby—"
"I know, babe," Lorelai said, brushing a kiss across his knuckles. "It won't. Stop worrying."
"You know that won't happen," Luke said, chuckling nervously.
"A foot rub would be great," Lorelai said, grinning.
"Pencil me in then," Luke said, righting himself. "I'll get your burger."
"Hey," Lorelai said, stopping Luke as he turned away. "You know, one class wouldn't hurt," she said, shrugging.
"Huh?" Luke asked.
"Let's check out a Lamaze class," she said. "See what they have to say. I hear the deep breathing thing has replaced throwing ice chips at nurses as the preferred method of surviving labor, anyway."
"Really?" Luke asked, eyebrows raised. "You really want to do that?"
"I do," Lorelai said, nodding emphatically. "I'm not saying I'll like it—"
"Thanks," Luke said, relieved. "Thanks for just giving it a look."
Lorelai smiled. "Now how about that burger?" she reminded him.
"Coming right up," Luke said, relieved. He turned and hurried to the kitchen to prepare her food.
♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫
Rory and Kevin walked into the studio, the buzz filling their ears as they
"Wow, it's loud," Kevin observed.
Rory shook her head, giving him a sympathetic glance. "If you think this is loud, just wait. This is just everyone warming up their voices." She pointed to some seats in front of them. "There's Mom." She signaled for him to follow her, and walked over to Lorelai and Luke.
"There's my baby!" Lorelai cried out, waving wildly in front of Rory's face.
Rory gave her mother a grin, looking over at Luke. She giggled when she saw the bags of junk food in his lap. "What, you decided coffee tables were passé, so you're just using Luke's lap now?"
"She was trying to decide what she wanted, and then she said she'd put the rest back in her purse," Luke said, giving Lorelai a pointed look.
"Yeah, yeah, let me talk to my daughter for a moment, please?" Lorelai refocused on Rory. "So, who's the guy?" she asked, not lowering her voice.
"Kevin," he answered, holding out his hand.
Lorelai smiled and shook Kevin's hand. "He's civilized," she said approvingly.
"You haven't seen him in his element," Rory said with a shrug. "Kevin's my neighbor. Tess' brother. He was intrigued by the concept of town meetings, so he followed me here."
"It was really hard keeping up when she got on the interstate," Kevin explained. "Luckily she has a four cylinder, so I managed to grab the bumper when she was going up a hill."
"Resourceful, too," Lorelai said.
"Now, which one is Taylor?" Kevin asked.
"He's the one holding the gavel," Rory said, pointing out Taylor.
"With an iron grip," Kevin noted.
"I think he's going to be buried with that gavel," Rory said, giggling.
"That's probably the least of his worries," Kevin said. "Seriously? A sweater vest?"
"It's a cardigan," Lorelai corrected in a mock serious tone. "Now sit down and pick your poison." She patted the seat next to her and grabbed the food from Luke's lap, leaving the celery sticks on his left thigh.
"I assume you left this here because you plan on eating it yourself," Luke said, holding up the small baggy.
"I left those there because you're crazy if you think I didn't see you slip that in with the rest of the stuff." She turned to Rory and plopped the baggies onto her daughter's lap. "I'll let Kevin pick first, since he's a guest and all."
Kevin chose a bag of mini-marshmallows and began stuffing them into his mouth.
"Classy," Rory snorted.
"What's the deal here?" Kevin asked as Taylor called the meeting into order and began to talk.
"Sounds like Taylor wants... oh boy," Rory said excitedly as Luke sat up straighter in his seat.
"Oh boy what?" Kevin asked.
"Whatever is going on, Luke is not a fan," Rory whispered. "Watch. This is where it gets good. Nothing is better than a good old fashioned Luke versus Taylor shouting match."
"Wait, this is your step-dad, right?" Kevin asked.
"Step-fathers are not allowed to yell?" Rory asked.
"Just trying to figure out the players," Kevin said, shaking his head. "Is that a good sign?" he asked as Luke leaned over and whispered in Lorelai's ear.
"Hard to tell," Rory said, watching Luke closely. "Oh, he's turning red," she gasped. "All systems go!"
"So, in conclusion—" Taylor said.
"What's he concluding?" Kevin asked. "I'm lost."
"Oh, who cares," Rory said, laughing as Luke leapt to his feet. She laughed harder as Lorelai turned to face her, an expression of pure glee on her face.
"Taylor, that's the most idiotic thing I've ever heard you say," Luke bellowed.
"I'll bet he says that to all the guys," Kevin whispered.
"No way," Rory gasped. "He saves the rage just for Taylor."
"I don't recall giving the floor to you, Luke," Taylor shot back.
"I don't recall caring," Luke said.
"So... this is every week?" Kevin asked.
"Stunned?" Rory asked.
"Hell no," Kevin said, sitting back and popping another marshmallow in his mouth. "This is better than Goodfellas."
Lorelai leaned toward her daughter as Luke and Taylor continued to argue. "Oh, by the way, Luke and I made up."
"Yeah, I noticed," Rory replied, pointing at Luke so Lorelai didn't miss seeing his face turning red once again. "Can you tell me about it after this? I don't want to miss him yelling out the obscenities."
"He's gonna cuss?" Kevin sat up in his seat, almost bouncing.
"Oh yeah, if you get him going real good, he'll even make up his own words," Lorelai said proudly.
Luke continued yelling at Taylor, oblivious to the conversation going on beside him. "I swear to God, Taylor, you are the biggest—"
"Oh!" Kevin gasped as Luke continued his tirade. "Three points!"
"That's my boy," Lorelai cackled.
"See?" Rory said, beaming at Kevin. "I told you our town meetings were the best."
"You weren't kidding, Mayberry," Kevin said, watching Luke in awe.
♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫
Rory stared at the two percentages in bold Arial 10 font on her laptop screen.
"Tess is never going to let me hear the end of this one," she mumbled,
scrolling down the worksheet, double checking that she had weighted each item
on the list correctly. Her cell phone vibrated next to her, and Rory picked it
up and flipped it open without looking at the caller ID. "Brevity is the order
of the day," she said in a low voice, scrolling up to the top of the Excel
"Oh, then let me put Luke on instead," Lorelai replied on the other end.
"Hiya, kid, what are you up to?"
Rory leaned back on the couch, pulling her laptop closer to her as she got comfortable. "Just making my final decision on The Courant."
"I'm going to take the job."
"That's great, Hon! What tipped the scale?"
Rory closed the file and snapped the lid to her laptop shut. "Nothing really, I just had more pros than cons."
"You didn't seem to think that most of those pros really counted the other night."
"All of them counted, they just needed to be weighed differently."
"What do you mean?"
Rory sighed. "I put all the items into an Excel spreadsheet and weighted them. Then I totaled up the points and the pros won out."
"Wow, my oldest daughter is a nerd."
"Technically, it's more of a geek."
"There's a difference?"
"Yes. A nerd is more book smart and stuff and a geek is more... technology smart."
"What do you call a person that knows the difference between the two? Because I think that it's called a dork."
"Funny, Mom. Did you call for a reason?"
"Nah, just checking up on you. Oh, and I needed to let you know that my Lamaze class is tomorrow, so we need to reschedule the mani/pedi we had tentatively planned."
"Okay, no problem. I'm pretty free for the rest of the week." Rory reached for the TV remote and turned it on. "So, Lamaze. Funny to think that you and Luke could have avoided that big fight if you had just agreed to that in the first place, huh?" Rory teased.
"Oh yeah, totally. If I had been in my right mind we could have made a list in Excel to weigh all our options. Maybe could have called you to create some graphs for us."
"Nice." Rory rolled her eyes and flipped through the channels aimlessly. "So, what are we gonna watch tonight?"
♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫
The Lamaze teacher circled the room, adjusting the sitting positions of some of
the couples. Luke let out a slow breath, resituating himself on the yoga mat as
Lorelai leaned up against him with all her weight.
"Lorelai, she said not to put all your weight on me. We're supposed to pretend that you're about to push."
Lorelai leaned further into him. "Well pretend that I'm pretending. I'm tired."
Luke brushed the hair away from her ear and said softly, "You said you'd give this a chance."
"Babe, I am, I swear," Lorelai replied, turning slightly to face him. "This is just dragging on, and my back is killing me."
Luke's hands slid from around her stomach to her back. He curled his fingers into a tight fist, and pressed even pressure on her lower back just outside of her spine.
"Oh, that's perfect, right there," Lorelai murmured, relaxing into his touch.
The teacher walked over to them, a wide grin on her face. "See what Luke is doing here, everyone? He's supporting his partner. He's being the perfect coach. Remember, the coach can't play for the athlete, but that doesn't mean he isn't involved in the game. He can help from the sidelines, just like Luke is doing for Lorelai." She patted Luke on the top of his cap as she moved to the next couple.
Lorelai giggled. "How's it going, coach?"
"That woman is not right in the head. I think the only sports reference she got right was the coach one. I'm still confused about how delivery is like a touchdown."
"Yeah, clearly scoring is how the baby was conceived."
Luke rolled his eyes and pushed Lorelai forward a little. "That feel better?"
"Better than that poor woman," Lorelai said, jerking her chin in the direction of a couple across the room. She was wincing dramatically as her husband desperately tried to duplicate Luke's tactics.
"Why is he punching her in the spine?" Luke muttered under his breath.
"Clearly he hates her," Lorelai said with a shudder. She reached up and poked Luke in the shoulder. "And stop snorting every time the nice Lamaze teacher mentions doulas, okay?"
"I can't help it," Luke said. "It's reflex." He narrowed his eyes suspiciously as the teacher headed for the television set and produced a DVD. "What is she doing?" he asked uncertainly.
"Uh oh," Lorelai said, sitting up straighter.
"Uh oh?" Luke asked, alarmed.
"Um... I think... we're going to watch the miracle of birth now," Lorelai whispered.
"Uh oh," Luke said, his eyes widening in fear.
The teacher clapped her hands together and stood in the center of the semi-circle the group had formed. "Okay, now for the more... visual part of the evening. We used to show this at the beginning of the class, but it proved to be a little... let's just say we've decided to save it for the end of the first class from now on. For those of you with weak stomachs, please try to remember that the restrooms are in the back." She pressed play on the DVD player and sat down in the center of group. "The footage is a little out of date, but the process hasn't changed. I always get a kick out of seeing those 80s haircuts."
"They are seriously going to show us this now? I thought it was for a later class," Luke whispered, the dread evident in his voice.
"Probably best to go ahead and get it out of the way. Oh! Here come the stirrups!" Lorelai giggled.
"This isn't funny, Lorelai."
"It is a little, Luke. Check out his hair. Mullet. I miss mullets."
Luke's eyes widened slowly as the video continued to play. As the woman on screen sat up and began to push, the camera panned down to where Luke could see the beginnings of the head of the baby starting to coming out.
"Sookie wasn't kidding about the head through a straw," he muttered, his face paling.
"What was that, hon?" Lorelai turned to face him and wiped the drop of sweat gliding down the side of his face.
"Nothing." Luke took off his hat and wiped his brow with the back of his hand. He slipped his hat back on and glanced up at the screen, cringing as the woman screamed in agony and yanked on her husband's arm as she pushed again. He darted his eyes down to his wife, who was watching with a slight smirk on her face. "Um, Lorelai?" he said quietly.
"Uh huh?" she asked, distracted.
"You can have the epidural if you want it."
She patted his knee as she settled back into him. "Yeah, I know. Thanks, coach."
To be continued...
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