Episode 10.02 "If You Like Piña Coladas and Getting Caught"
by Jewels12 and Robinpoppins


Authors' Note: We had a blast teaming up again to bring you another episode of Virtual Gilmore! Our sincerest thanks to sosmitten for her fantastic beta skills and even more fantastic patience. Hope you all enjoy!

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"Have you seen Ellie's hat?" Lorelai called from upstairs, her voice echoing into the living room.

"It's in my hand," Luke called back, waving it in the air, even though Lorelai could not see. He held Ellie in her car seat in his other hand, a diaper bag strung across his shoulder. "Do you have the duck?"

"What duck?"

Luke sighed. "You know what duck I'm talking about."

Lorelai bounded down the steps, a large overflowing tote in hand. "Do I?"

"Lorelai," Luke chided, rolling his eyes.

"He has a name." She reached the bottom of the steps where Luke and Ellie waited, and took the car seat from him.

"Fine," he relented, taking the tote bag from her and picking up a picnic basket from the floor. "Do you have Quacky McDuck?"

Lorelai giggled. "In my purse. Ready?"

"Want to explain to me why we are taking Ellie to the park again."

"It's an experience." She side-stepped around Luke, making her way to the door and shooting him a smile from behind her back.

"She can't go down the slide and she's too young for the swings. She can't walk, she can't run, she can't even hold her head up on her own."

"Your point?" She held the front door open for him and then closed it behind them.

"We're basically going to sit there."

"And eat," Lorelai said, gesturing to the picnic basket in Luke's hand.

"Another thing she isn't able to do. She can't eat solid food."

"Again, it's the experience that matters. Besides, I've been cooped up in the house too long. I need an outing."

"Fine, what car are we taking?"

"I thought we were taking mine? I already packed the blankets in there."

Luke scrunched his brow. "I don't really feel comfortable taking your Jeep."

"Trust me, you look just as manly in the Jeep as you do in your truck. Jeeps swing both ways. If anything, they're bi-curious."

"Have we ever taken Ellie anywhere in the Jeep?"

"Huh, not that I can think of."

Luke stared hard at the Jeep. "I just don't think it's very baby safe. I mean, we could put the hardcover on."

Lorelai cringed. "Yeah, we could if I hadn't have lost one of the side pieces last year."

"Oh, right. I forgot about that."

"Well, we can't take your truck. Babies aren't supposed to sit in the front seat."

"That's because of the airbags," Luke remarked. "I don't have airbags."

"You don't have airbags?" Lorelai gasped.

"It's an old truck; it's never had airbags."

"Then we're definitely not taking your truck. We've gone places since Ellie has been born. What car did we take then?

"Well, we had dinner with your parents last week. Rory was here so we took her car."

"Yeah, and we took Rory's car when we went to Target a couple weeks ago. And I've walked everywhere else."

"This is probably one of those things we should have thought about before," Luke added after a pause as they continued to stare at the two cars in the driveway.

"Probably. We could borrow Babette's car."

"I've seen what she keeps in that car. No thanks. Sookie busy today?"

Lorelai scrunched her brow. "I remember something about Davey having tap lessons and Martha going to karate."

"Sure it wasn't the other way around?"

"Oh no, I heard Davey is a regular hoofer. Patty claims he's the next Gregory Hines."

"So Sookie's van is out."

"Definitely out."

"We could just stay home," Luke offered. Lorelai stuck out her lower lip in a pout. "Or see if Rory wants to go to the park."

She instantly brightened, lifting up Ellie in her seat for Luke to better see her. "Thank you, Daddy," she said in her best Ellie impression. Then, she turned and walked back inside to find the phone.

"The things I do..." Luke remarked, voice trailing off as he followed Lorelai inside.

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"You know, this really is a good movie," Rory said with a sigh, attempting to angle her neck to look at the television screen. However, she had an obstruction in the form of Kevin, lying on top of her on the couch and pressing light kisses to her neck. She sighed again.

"Mmhm," was Kevin's response, still distracted by the task at hand, cupping her cheek as he leaned in for a better angle behind her ear.

"And I did pick it out for you," she commented, tilting her head up to give Kevin better access.

He lifted his head up and grinned. "And I appreciate it."

"I never thought of The Matrix as a makeout movie."

"Oh, it's very sexy. Keanu and the whole backwards lean thing, with bullets flying around him? Hot stuff."

Rory smirked. "Never knew you had a thing for Keanu."

"It's one of the many interesting quirks you're going to have to get used to if you have me around."

"So, besides the Keanu posters in your bedroom, anything else I should know?"

He tilted his head in thought. "I have a strange fascination with carrots."

"Huh," Rory said, smiling as she ran one hand through his hair.

"Huh," Kevin repeated. He leaned down to kiss her, his pace slowing as she responded.

After awhile, Rory pulled away to catch her breath. "Weren't we going to do stuff today?"


"Laundry, grocery shopping, apartment cleaning?"

"Did I say that?"

"It came up in conversation."

"Huh. I don't recall. I'm actually pretty okay with being a vegetable all day."

"I'm okay with that too. You be the carrot, I'll be the asparagus."

"I knew there was a reason I liked having you around." He gave her a peck on the lips and sat up a little. "You know, Saturday mornings should really be spent in bed."


"It's the only way to fully enjoy them."

"Guess we'll have to try it," Rory suggested, smiling.

Kevin sat up quickly, and before Rory could get a word in, he picked her up and draped her over his shoulder. She squealed his name and kicked her legs ineffectively as he carried her to her bedroom.

"I'm getting a real John Wayne-Maureen O'Hara vibe here," Rory giggled.

"What can I say, I learned a lot from watching The Quiet Man."

He plopped her on the bed unceremoniously, jumping on it himself and pulling her on top of him.

"Wait, we left the TV on," Rory exclaimed, sitting up.

"Leave it. I like Keanu, remember?"

"I think you just like saying Keanu," Rory pointed out, but before he could respond, she pulled him up for another kiss.

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Emily peered over her porcelain tea cup and frowned as Richard breezed into the dining room for the third time, then back out again, scratching his forehead in confusion.

"Richard," she hissed impatiently when he circled back for his fourth lap, causing him to stop abruptly. "For goodness sake, you're making me dizzy."

"I'm sorry, Emily. I just can't seem to find my head today."

"Sit down and have your tea," Emily insisted, nodding to the chair in front of him.

Richard held his hand up in refusal. "Oh, no, I haven't any time for tea. I'm due at Yale shortly for my Economics lecture. Which reminds me," he said as he began to pace once more, "I need to find those overhead slides. And I must remember to update the syllabus. It's a whole new ballgame when you sign on to teach a summer class. It's just a whirlwind. I thought I had more time to prepare. I tell you, Emily, the days just fly by..." Richard halted his footsteps when he noticed his wife's expression.

"Well, I'm glad to see that I'm amusing you," he said, staring at her pointedly.

Emily rolled her eyes. "Richard, it's Saturday."

His mouth fell open. "Oh. Are you certain?"

She nodded, taking a sip of her tea to hide her full out grin. "Quite certain," she answered, gently returning her cup to its saucer. "Sit down and have your tea."

"Yes, tea," Richard said, sliding into his chair, clearly in a daze. "We always have tea on Saturday."

"Precisely," Emily praised him.

Richard sighed tiredly as he prepared his aforementioned beverage. "I suppose I just have too much on my mind," he reasoned.

"But you just had to teach this class, didn't you?" Emily returned, her voice laced with concern. "A man your age, running around like a chicken with its head cut off. If you end up in the hospital again, it'll be your own fault."

"There's nothing wrong with keeping busy," Richard argued.

"We have a new granddaughter now who is more than capable of keeping us both on our toes."

"That reminds me," Richard said. "I've been thinking about the trust fund business a great deal lately." Emily stiffened at the abrupt change of topic. "I don't think this is news that we should sit on. I think we should inform Lorelai and Luke of our plans."

"But, Richard, we agreed upon—"

"I know what we agreed upon, Emily, but that isn't to say our decision was entirely sound."

Emily stirred her tea briskly as she took a heavy breath. "I don't think this is a good idea. We don't know how they'll react..."

"They certainly won't react favorably if we put this off any longer," he maintained. "I don't want to be secretive. We're finally on good footing with our daughter and her family. I don't want to jeopardize that..."

"I hardly think we're being secretive. It's a surprise!" Emily said defensively. "We don't need to bring it up before Eleanor has a reason to draw from the funds."

Emily," Richard said sternly. "We're not going to live forever. Why not share this bit of excitement while we're still young, and give our children every opportunity to use it?"

Clasping her hands together, she leaned back in her chair. "Very well. I'll call Lorelai and set up a meeting with her and Luke to discuss the trust fund," Emily conceded.

Richard smiled in approval.

A comfortable silence fell over the room, which Emily soon broke. "But if this backfires, it'll be on your conscience."

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Taylor walked with purpose through the town square, pausing when he heard the sound of children'sco laughter. There were two young boys running wildly with kite strings tied tightly to their fingers, the wind propelling their homemade contraptions with ease. Taylor grumbled to himself about the injustice of it all as he continued on his way.

When his destination was in sight, he crossed the street and entered the store.

"Welcome to Stars Hollow Video," the teenaged clerk said in a monotone voice without bothering to acknowledge the new (and only) patron; his drowsy eyes were glued to his cell phone.

"The youth of our future," Taylor muttered in disgust. He walked slowly down the aisle, perusing the selections with exaggerated interest. More than once he glanced back at the indifferent teen, ensuring that he was sufficiently occupied. Satisfied that he was in the clear, Taylor made his way to the curtained area.

With a silent chuckle, he swept the fabric aside and nearly ran smack into Andrew and Gypsy who were tangled together in a compromising position. Gypsy's back was pressed hard against the 'Graphic Content' shelf that housed such movies as My Fair Lady and Bambi, and Andrew was putting the innocent titles to shame.

"Andrew! Gypsy!" Taylor boomed, holding a hand over his heart as the curtain swished closed behind him.

"Taylor!" the exposed couple shouted in unison, jerking away from each other.

"What are you two doing back here?" Taylor demanded.

Gypsy smirked, despite her flushed cheeks. "If you don't know, then you're definitely in the right section."

Taylor rolled his eyes in response, moving to stand near the opposite wall.

"What are you doing back here, Taylor?" Andrew asked instead as he casually wiped the lip gloss residue from his face.

"Well, I, uh... heard a noise, so I decided it was best to, um... That I should investigate..." Taylor trailed off nervously. "This is hardly the place for such debauchery," he finished in his most authoritative voice.

Andrew shrugged. "I don't know. I kinda like it here."

"Yeah," Gypsy agreed. "Cozy, quiet. No one ever comes back here..."

"Except Bootsy," Andrew supplied.

"Yeah, but we've figured out his schedule. Usually comes in around three— "

"And then again at seven."

"Now they're finishing each other's sentences," Taylor groaned in distaste. "If you'll excuse me," he said, brushing past them. "I need to figure out how to cordon off this area."

After a moment, Gypsy poked her head through the curtain. "Hey, don't you want a video?" she called after Taylor, tossing him a copy of Robin Hood: Men in Tights. "This should get your engine running," she added with a wink.

Taylor sighed. "This town has run amok."

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"...And that is why Mommy will never again eat something just because it's pink," Lorelai concluded, rocking Ellie gently in her arms as the pair cuddled together on the living room couch.

She picked up the remote next to her and turned on the TV, scrunching her nose as she flipped through the channels. "What do you say, kiddo, should I break out the '80s DVDs again?"

Ellie responded with a tired yawn.

"Yeah, I hear ya. Stay with me, baby girl. If I lose you, then I'm stuck reading Cosmo for the thirtieth time this week, and all that jiggery-pokery talk just gets old after a while, ya know?" Eleanor's sleepy eyes were glued to Lorelai. "You'd be content just watching Mommy all day, wouldn't you?" she cooed, nuzzling Ellie's nose with her own.

She observed the steady rise and fall of her baby's chest, and marveled at how such a tiny, little being could impact her life— their lives— the way she had. "At least Luke still has the diner," Lorelai considered aloud. "His life hasn't changed that much. And I don't see any stretch marks on him, either," she added with a touch of resentment in her voice.

Ellie gurgled, a line of drool falling from her soft, pink lips.

Lorelai smiled, wiping the drool away with the tip of her index finger. "I wouldn't give up a minute of my time spent with you. But it just feels so strange to me, being here, away from the inn. I don't suppose I'll ever get used to it."

She shut the TV off and slid the remote between her leg and the back of the couch, her eyes staring off into space as she played with the frills on the arm of Ellie's light cotton onesie. "I know they can get along fine without me," she continued, deep in thought. "But I guess a part of me almost wishes that they couldn't." Lorelai swallowed the lump in her throat, meeting Ellie's eyes again. "I've worked my whole life. Even when I had Rory I worked, because I needed to. There was never an alternative. And now there's an alternative, and I just... I don't know how to feel."

Lorelai gently rubbed Eleanor's stomach and kissed the top of her head. "Daddy is taking the day off on Monday to stay home with us. Maybe I could just swing by the inn, see what's going on. It might give me a little more peace of mind. What do you think?"

Ellie pressed her lips together, blinking rapidly.

"Don't judge me yet," Lorelai said. "There may be sneaking involved. I don't want my mother knowing I'm there... or Michel, or Sookie." She smiled as her daughter fought to keep her eyes open. "Just don't tell Daddy, okay?" she whispered. "Go to sleep, baby girl, and when you wake up we can play another round of 'What would Michel do?'. I'll be the guest and you can be Michel." She kissed her sleeping daughter and leaned her head against the arm of the couch, closing her eyes as her mind churned with thoughts.

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"I should really get paid for this," Rory said, her arms weighed down by books as Tess stood in front of her, taking one book at a time and shelving them.

"I barely get paid for this."

"You know," Rory grunted, "there are other ways to go about hefting the books around. Carts, dollies, burly men..."

"Ah, but you see, this corner is affectionately known as the Abyss. Carts come down here, but you never can get them out. See that shelf over there?" Tess pointed to a shelf behind her, overstuffed with coffee table books. "Used to be a cart. It once had wheels. No one knows what happened to them. Carts are too spooked to come down here now."

"You spend a lot of time alone here, don't you?"

"Gotta get my ya-ya's somewhere."

"And all I was looking for was a distraction. I hit a wall with my article."

"I gave you suggestions," Tess stated with a shrug.

"Yes, and while my editor would enjoy a section of my article illustrating the similarities between Felicity Huffman and a tangerine, it has absolutely nothing to do with the city council meeting last Thursday."

"I'm just saying, watch Desperate Housewives in HD. You'll know what I'm talking about."

Tess finished placing the books in the correct positions and sank down to the floor, her back against the shelf. Rory followed suit, resting her arms on her knees.

"I need to get out of this store and do something. Wanna do something tonight?"

"Oh," Rory stated, biting her lip. "Well, I would, but I think Kevin wanted to go to dinner tonight."

"Oh," Tess said, using a shrug to mask the evident disappointment. "That's cool. Have fun."

"You could go with us," Rory offered.

"Nah, it's a date. I don't want to bother you guys."

"You won't be bothering us. I know Kevin wouldn't mind."

"Yeah, just not sure I want to see my brother all schmaltzy and cutesy and schmoopy. I mean, the mocking material alone would almost be worth it, but yeah... I don't want to see that. Like I said, it's cool. You guys have fun."

"I can call him," Rory suggested. "I promise, no schmoopy, just us hanging out."

"It's fine. I don't mind if you guys go out. You don't have to invite me every time."

"I wasn't," Rory sighed. "I just know you like Villepianos, and—"

"I told you to forget it, Rory," Tess snapped, standing quickly. "Don't worry about me, I'll find something else to do." She picked up a stack of books and walked to the opposite corner, shoving books aside carelessly to place a chunk of her stack on the shelf.

"I, um... I'm going to try to work on my article some more," Rory stuttered, almost timidly as she stood. "Kevin and I are going to have a movie night in a couple days if you want to come."

"'Kay," Tess responded nonchalantly, finding another stack of books and hurriedly walking to the back to the store.

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Lorelai walked slowly along the dirt drive, pausing to scan the surrounding area with every step she took. She'd parked her Jeep a good quarter mile away, determined to remain as inconspicuous as possible.

"God, what am I doing?" she murmured to herself as she drew nearer to her destination. When two employees exited the front doors of the inn, she abruptly veered off to her right, towards the rear entrance.

She stopped dead in her tracks when Sookie burst through the kitchen door, waving a wooden spoon in the air as she ranted on the phone to— by the sounds of it— her poultry supplier. "Jeez, this place is crawling with people," Lorelai whispered, turning sharply on her heel and heading for the stables.

After pulling the side door open, she slipped inside the barn and heaved a sigh of relief. She smiled as she was hit with the familiar scent of her favorite quadrupeds, feeling at peace for the first time since she stepped foot on the property.

Lorelai rounded the corner, anxious to greet her hooved friends, but instead she was met by two creatures of her own species who were leaning against an empty stall, entwined in an intimate embrace. "Oh my god!" she cried.

Gypsy and Andrew immediately separated and stared at their witness, mouths agape.

"You guys were making out," Lorelai said, her words punctuated by giggles. "That is so adorable."

Gypsy rolled her eyes. "What are you doing here?"

"Um, I work here," Lorelai replied, "which is more than I can say for the two of you... although, you guys seem to be workin' it pretty well, if you know what I mean..."

"Aren't you supposed to be on maternity leave?" Andrew asked, eager to change the subject.

"Well, I, uh... technically, yes... but I'm just checking... on things. Because that's what a good manager does. They, uh, check on things." she finished lamely.

"So you're sneaking around," Gypsy surmised.

Lorelai huffed in annoyance at being found out. "What are you two doing here, besides taking a roll in the hay?" She winked suggestively causing Gypsy to groan and Andrew to blush profusely.

"Look, we won't talk if you won't talk," Gypsy bargained.

Lorelai mulled over the offer for a moment, then nodded in compliance. "I'm good with that."

"Great," Andrew said, relieved.

"Maybe we should consider tacking on a room to the stables, what do you guys think? All this hay really gets the libido going, huh?" Lorelai teased. This time both her companions groaned in response.

"You guys are too cute," Lorelai said through laughter.

"The last person who called me cute ended up losing a carburetor," Gypsy threatened, grabbing Andrew by the arm and making a beeline for the nearest exit.

"Wait! I can get you guys a really great deal on the honeymoon suite!" Lorelai called after them as the door slammed shut. With a chuckle, she closed the remaining distance to the horses and showered them with an ample amount of affection. "So, you guys get a good show?" she asked the pair, grabbing a carrot for each of them to nibble on.

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The diner was empty the hour before the lunch rush began and Luke used the opportunity to take up counter space with several old issues of Consumer Reports and car buyer magazines. Kirk sat at the end of the counter, intermittently slurping soup and watching Luke's every move. Luke glanced up from the article he was reading, glaring at Kirk, and Kirk quickly returned his attention to his soup.

"Anyone ever tell you you don't pull nonchalance off well?" Luke said, closing the magazine and putting it down on the counter.

"I have heard that before, yes."

"Eat your soup, Kirk."

"You buying a car?"

Luke rolled his eyes. "Nah, I just really like carrying these around."

"Lulu and I considered buying a car for a while, after I sold my house flip."

"I didn't even know you had a license, Kirk."

"It was a requirement when I worked for the Petes' landscaping company."

"Big Pete also no longer has his pinky toe."

"Yeah, I should call my lawyer again. The lawsuit appeal process certainly is a pain."

"I bet," Luke said with a sigh. He picked up a rag and cleaned around his magazines.

"Yes, Lulu and I considered buying a hybrid car for a while. Ever heard of those?"

"When the media isn't trying to cram them down my throat, yes."

"I was very impressed by the Prius. But I'm not sure I'm comfortable with a car that can float. Cars are meant to stay on the ground, mother always says."

"Rory drives a Prius. It doesn't float," Luke said, perplexed.

"She must not have opted for the helium option. I heard it was cheaper." Kirk picked up his spoon and slurped loudly. "Then we looked at some of the larger hybrids. But then I saw the Transformer movie and wasn't sure I could be around a car that could change like that at the drop of a hat."

"They are nice looking," Luke admitted, picking up one of the magazines and looking at the model on the cover. "And economical."

"I wouldn't say the car would know anything about the economy. I heard Obama is on top of that."

"Eat your soup, Kirk."

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Lorelai walked through the hall downstairs, having finally slipped into the inn unnoticed. Her eyes darted around wildly as she walked slowly, making sure her feet avoided the creakiest floorboards. She reached the end of the hall, peeked her head around the corner, and sighed in relief when she saw no one in the lobby.

Smiling, she went behind the front desk and sat in Michel's chair. His post-it notes, stacked meticulously according to color, sat in front of her on the counter. Sneaking one last look around the lobby, she began to rearrange the post-it note stacks, putting the yellow and neon green together, and the hot pink with the star-shaped. Grinning at her work, she snatched a couple pens from the cup in the corner, unscrewed the caps and took out the ink, tossing it in the nearby trash. As she replaced the pens in the cup, she heard Michel's voice loudly berating a maid in the foyer. Before he could enter the lobby, she darted into the coat closet, shutting the door quietly. Sighing, she sunk onto the floor, her back against the door.

"When you clean the tub, you clean the faucets. Is something affecting your hearing, or do you always act like you stuck the cotton swap too far in... What did you do to my post-it notes?" Lorelai suppressed a giggle at Michel's muffled exclamation.

"It wasn't me, Monsieur Gerhard. I was with you the entire time."

"Monsieur Gerhard," Lorelai mouthed, incredulous.

Before she could ponder this any further, she heard "Shawty had them Apple Bottom Jeans, boots with the fur," sing from her purse. She scrambled for her cell phone, coming up empty every time she grasped something cell phone-shaped.

"Where is that music coming from?" She heard Michel hiss.

Finding the phone, she victoriously pulled it out, but immediately grimaced when she spotted Emily's name on the screen. "Drat," she cursed under her breath.

"Hello," she whispered into the phone.

"Hello?" Emily responded over the line.

"Hello," Lorelai repeated.

"Hello?" Emily yelled.

"I'm right here, Mom," she said, still whispering.

"Lorelai? Why are you whispering?"

"The librarian is staring at me."


"Ellie is asleep."

"Oh, well, why didn't you say so?"

"Cat's got my tongue."


"Janie's got a gun."

"Do you think you could go a decibel or two louder?"

"Yeah, let me just... hang on, Mom." Lorelai glanced at the door, then glanced at the coats on the opposite wall. Sighing, she crawled over to the coats and burrowed in behind them. "There," she continued in a low voice. "Can you hear me better?"

"Much better. You should really be more considerate of the other caller, Lorelai."

"Especially when the other caller is of a certain age."

"You do realize that I can hear you quite clearly now?"

"Did you have a reason for calling or are we going to debate my speaking volume again?"

"Well, your father and I were wondering if we could meet with you and Luke some time this week."

"We see you every Friday night, Mom."

"We were hoping you could fit us in before that."

"Is one of you dying?" Lorelai asked, biting her lower lip.

"No, of course not."

"Are you getting a divorce?"


"Sending us a candy gram?"


"Well, I'm tapped out of reasons for why would you would want to meet on a day that's not Friday."

"Is it outside the realm of possibility that a mother would want to spend time with her daughter's family?"

"Any mother? No. You? Absolutely."

"Honestly, Lorelai, why is it that every time I call you... "

"I think someone is in here," Lorelai heard Michel say to the maid.

"Crap," she cursed, shifting so she was buried farther into the coats.

"Are you even listening to me?" Emily said, exasperated.


"I asked if you and Luke are free tomorrow night. Your father and I could come to your house."

The door knob jiggled and Lorelai jerked her head to the door. "The door is locked," Michel screeched. "Where is my key?"


"Yeah, Mom, that's fine. I gotta go. I'm going through a tunnel," Lorelai lied, panicked. She found one of the blankets the inn used for snowy weather and covered herself with it quickly. The door knob jiggled again.

"You said you were at home. Where on earth—"

"What? Mom? You're breaking up." Lorelai made some static-like noises and hung up the phone. She heard Michel walk away from the door, and when she was confident that the coast was clear, she snuck out of her hiding place, opened the door, and attempted to go find a new one.

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Rory, Kevin and Tess sat together in Rory's living room; Tess occupying a chair, while Kevin and Rory relaxed on the nearby couch. The three were watching a movie, but their commentary hadn't ceased since the opening credits.

"I forgot how great this movie is," Kevin commented, a pleased, testosterone-filled smile lighting his face.

"I forgot how hot Keanu Reeves is," Tess said, her eyes glued to the screen as Jack Traven performed another impossible feat. "Hey, wasn't there a sequel to this movie?"

"Yeah," Rory supplied. "Speed 2: Cruise Control."

Kevin nodded. "It's considered to be one of the worst sequels of all time. Barely reached 2% on Rotten Tomatoes."

"I might have seen it in the theater," Rory quietly confessed, resulting in amused laughter from the siblings.

Kevin propped his feet on the coffee table and shifted closer to Rory. "Well, I don't know about you guys, but I'm starving," he declared, turning to Tess expectantly.

"What are you looking at me for?"

"Because you are a fantastic sister." When Tess failed to respond, Kevin continued, "And you're pretty, and smart..."

"And the closest to the kitchen," Rory added, earning a glare from Tess.

Kevin patted Rory's thigh in appreciation. "And I'm really comfortable."

Tess sighed. "Fine. What do you guys want?"

"Pop quiz, hot shot," Kevin said. "There's a bag of popcorn on the counter. Once the bag goes in the microwave, it's gonna pop. If it pops too long, the popcorn is gonna burn. What do you do? What do you do?"

Tess rolled her eyes. "I use the preset popcorn timer, hot shot." She rose to her feet and asked Rory, "Anything besides the popcorn?"

"Um, I think I have some sodas in the fridge," Rory said leadingly.

"I had to ask," Tess grumbled, trudging toward the kitchen.

"You're the best!" Kevin called after her. He inched even closer to Rory and slid his arm around her shoulders. "This is a good system we have going here," he told her.

Rory glanced nervously toward the kitchen, ensuring that Tess wasn't paying attention to the gesture. "You mean making your sister our slave?"

"Slave is such a dirty word. I prefer the term coerced laborer."

Rory laughed and responded sarcastically, "Yes, that's so much better."

"Is this weird for you at all?" Kevin whispered. "You know, having my sister here?"

She thought for a moment. "It shouldn't be. It's not like we haven't hung out before... But yeah, a bit. Things are different now. It's just going to take some time getting used to it. I just don't want it to be weird for Tess."

Kevin nodded. "Yeah, I'm with you. So we'll have to keep the schmoopiness to a minimum," he said, brushing a soft kiss on Rory's cheek. "I know I'm irresistible, but you're gonna need to try to keep your hormones in check, Gilmore." He kissed her again, closer to her mouth this time.

"Try taking some of your own advice," Rory hissed through her laughter, pushing him away as he moved to her neck.

Tess unassumingly placed the bowl of popcorn on the coffee table, causing them to jump apart. "So I'll just go and get those sodas now," she said, a deep blush on her cheeks as she whipped around and headed back into the kitchen.

Rory frowned at Tess' retreating figure. "That wasn't weird at all," she muttered.

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫

Sitting on a crate in the pantry, Lorelai jotted down a list of things she noticed around the inn that needed to be taken care of. "One," she wrote. "Ask Sookie about workman's comp form filed for Manny. Two: Find out why everyone keeps calling Michel 'Monsieur Gerhard.' Three: Show maids the new organizational system in the linen closet. Four: Talk to Pancho about the bulbs for next spring. Five: Get lock for stable door."

A plate of pilfered cookies sat next to her on another crate, and she nibbled on one as she added items to her list. Hearing that the dining room was empty, she placed the list in her pocket and exited the pantry, taking a couple cookies with her.

She immediately noticed that a couple of the vases on the tables were out of fresh water, and she collected them quickly, taking them to the sink in the corner of the dining area.

Unbeknown to her, Sookie entered the room, a tray of desserts balanced on the palm of her hand to be added to the dessert cart. She gasped. "Lorelai Victoria Gilmore!"

She nearly dropped the vase in her hand, scrambling a bit before she ultimately caught it. "Oh my God, Sookie. I think my heart literally stopped."

"What in the world are you doing here?"

"Land shark," she said with a sly grin.

Sookie shook her head, putting the tray down on the table. "I knew this was going to happen. I'm actually surprised it didn't happen sooner."

"I actually thought I did well."

"Yes, until you showed up. No wonder Michel accused me of taking all the ink out of his pens."

Lorelai giggled. "Yeah, that was a necessity."

Sookie took a seat at one of the tables and invited Lorelai to do the same. "You got bored, didn't you?"

"A little," Lorelai admitted. "It's not that I'm not enjoying staying home with Ellie, I just miss being here."

"I know."

"And, I don't know. I'm not entirely sure what to do when I'm not working."

"I hear you there. You caught me several times sneaking in or sneaking food in when I was on maternity leave for Martha and Wanda."

"I did indeed."

"And you know what you told me?"

"That you were a very smart woman, worthy of plaques and medals?" Lorelai suggested, shrugging.

"You told me to go home and enjoy my time with my children. That they grow up way too fast, and I'll cherish this time with them."

"I said that?"

"Several times. I know you miss work, but go home, Lorelai. Snuggle up with that gorgeous baby of yours and come back to work when you're supposed to."

"I am having Ellie withdrawals," Lorelai admitted, standing. "And I'm missing Cheaters right about now."

"Only you would get enjoyment out of watching that show."

"Every encounter ends with a fist fight. What's not to love?"

Sookie smiled. "All the more reason you should hurry home and see it. Now, scoot, before your mother catches you."

"If that isn't good incentive, I don't know what else is." Lorelai shot a wave to Sookie and hurried out of the inn.

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫

Doose's Market was in the midst of its afternoon lull when two Stars Hollow citizens barged through the door and moved swiftly to the produce aisle.

"Did we lose the trail?" Andrew whispered to Gypsy out of breath.

"Yeah, I think so. I hit him with my tool belt to slow him down," Gypsy admitted. "I had no idea Kirk worked at Sophie's shop. What the hell does he know about music?"

"He's apparently very skilled at cleaning instruments."

"Yeah, 'cause that's normal," Gypsy muttered. "Well, now the music store is off limits. We need another place to add to the rotation."

Andrew took in their surroundings, a mischievous grin lighting his features.

Gypsy quirked her eyebrow. "Bold," she complimented.

Andrew shrugged. "I like to live on the edge."

"I dig that about you."

"So, uh, I guess we should..." Andrew shuffled his feet, suddenly nervous.

"Yeah, we should..." Gypsy said, stepping closer to him.

He swallowed hard. "You wanna tomato?" he asked, his voice cracking.

"Don't lose your nerve now, Andy," Gypsy whispered, nearly knocking him over as she latched onto his lips. Andrew groaned, reaching behind him to find something to cling to for balance. The slurping sound of a tomato being crushed only added fuel to the fire.

Unbeknown to them, a crowd had formed. It began with Miss Patty, followed closely by Babette, and the line of curious citizens continued to the door. There were quiet sighs and hushed giggles from every corner, until Taylor came upon the scene.

"What's going on here?" he demanded, his emphatic voice enough to bring about the end of the impromptu make-out session. Gypsy and Andrew pulled apart in stunned fascination as they took in all the faces.

The crowd quickly disbanded, the majority of people dashing out the door to escape Taylor's menacing gaze.

"Don't you people have homes?" Taylor barked at the lewd couple. His jaw dropped to the floor when he noticed the tomato debris on the same surface. "My tomatoes!' he cried, pushing them aside as he inspected the damage.

"Aw, give the poor kids a break, Taylor," Babette said.

"You stay out of this," he roared back. "As I recall, I found you and Morey in a very similar position in the cereal aisle a few months ago."

Babette smiled in remembrance. "Morey didn't need any Lucky Charms that day," she rasped.

Taylor held up his hands in frustration. "Why must everyone use my establishment as a public indecency playground?"

"It's the food, Taylor," Patty said. "All this sexy, sensuous food."

He groaned. "I have no choice. I'll have to put up signage forbidding such defilement."

"Fondle the fruit, not each other," Patty suggested.

Babette chuckled. "No caressin' near the salad dressin'."

With Taylor's back to them, Gypsy and Andrew used the opportunity to sneak away, nodding in thanks to Patty and Babette as they weaved their way to the entrance. Taylor finally noticed their figures when they slipped through the door, and shouted after them, "Don't even think about coming back here unless you intend to purchase something! Toilet paper is on sale this week!"

"Make dinner, not love," Patty contributed again as Taylor returned his attention to the two women.

He shook his head and walked away, muttering to himself about lust, sin, and profit margins.

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫

Rory gulped down some coffee, trying to shake off the afternoon drowsiness that seemed to have hit her full force. She cracked her knuckles and prepared to attack the keyboard again, determined to get something of quality written before the day's end. Just as she had established a rhythm, her cell phone rang. She typed for several more seconds before giving in and answering the phone, her eyes still glued to her laptop screen.

"Hi, you've reached Rory Gilmore."

"So professional," Kevin replied, chuckling softly.

"Oh, hey," she said more casually, still typing with her free hand. "I didn't check the caller ID so I didn't know it was you."

"I'm on break right now. Just I thought I'd give you a buzz. I can call back later if you want."

Rory bit her lip, attempting to focus on two things at once. "Just let me finish this... one... sentence..." She read over the sentence quickly, smiling at her proficiency, then leaned back in her chair. "Okay, I'm all yours," she said, giving Kevin her undivided attention.

"So, last night," Kevin said leadingly.

"Was awkward."

"Extremely," he agreed. "Have you talked to Tess at all since?"

She shook her head. "No, I haven't. You?"

"Nope. Figured I'd let you handle things."

"That's very generous of you," Rory replied sardonically. "I was actually thinking that I'd meet up with her at some point tonight."

"Good idea," Kevin said. "I guess I never really thought about how much our relationship could affect other people."

"I know."

"I don't want it to be weird or awkward. I mean, you guys are friends, and she's my sister, so I kinda have to be friends with her." Rory chuckled at that. "So we need to clear the air. Get things back to normal... or at least as normal as they can be."

"I'm so with you there."

"Man, this relationship stuff is hard," he said teasingly.

Rory smirked. "I have to warn you, I've heard relationships based on intense experiences never work."

"We'll have to base it on sex then," Kevin replied, finishing the quote without missing a beat.

"Wise words, Keanu. Wise words."

"Maybe I'll see you tonight, after the talk with Tess?" he asked.

"Yes, definitely. Your place this time. You have the good chips."

"Okay," Kevin laughed. "I'll even put them in a bowl for you. That's how much I care."

"See you tonight," Rory told him.

"Tonight," he confirmed, disconnecting.

Rory snapped her phone shut and grinned like an idiot. "Keanu's got nothing on you," she said softly.

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫

"Lorelai!" Luke called out from the foyer of the house, his voice strained. Ellie was in his arms, groggy from the short nap she was pulled out of. Not waiting for a response, Luke made his way into the living room and spotted Lorelai on the couch, her mouth open and ready to respond to his call. He quickly passed Ellie over to her and began to pace.

"Whoa, who died?" Lorelai asked, taking in his weary and concerned expression. "And did we get another house out of it?"

"I did something stupid," Luke responded, taking off his hat as he moved his frenzied pacing into the living room. Frazzled, he ran his fingers through his hair.

"Did it in any way involve a time machine, a Farmer's Almanac, and an Enchantment Under the Sea dance?" Lorelai shifted Ellie in her arms, allowing her to rest her head on her shoulder as she began to doze again.

Luke paused and shot her a perplexed look. "What?"

"Never mind," she said with a shrug, and continued to watch him pace as her own expression grew concerned. "Wow, this must be bad. What happened?"

His pacing took him to the ottoman, and he sank down onto it, immediately placing his head in his hands. "I bought a car," he groaned into the hands that covered his mouth.

"You went to the Czar?"

"I bought a car," he repeated, lifting his head up and looking Lorelai in the eye. To reinforce this, he pulled out a set of keys from the pocket of his flannel shirt.

Lorelai gasped. "You bought a car!"

"I bought a car," Luke said with a grimace.

"Uh, how... or why... Sentences are gone. Spill," she managed to stutter out.

"I was talking to Kirk—"

"Clearly your first mistake."

Luke shook his head and threw his hands in the air. "Obviously. We were talking about cars, and then hybrid cars, and somewhere between Kirk's lunacy and saving the earth, it sounded like a good idea. So I took Ellie to a Toyota dealership, just to look and price. And there was this guy—"

"Oh my God. Someone suckered Luke Danes," Lorelai exclaimed, pointing one accusing finger at Luke.


"I'm flashing back to another car buying experience not so long ago. 'Don't listen to the sales pitch, Lorelai. They're only trying to screw you over, Lorelai. They're just trying to make a commission, Lorelai. It's a good thing I came with you, Lorelai. That jackass was about to overcharge you.'"

"Will you let me finish?"

"I'm sorry, this is just too good of an opportunity to pass up." She grinned, settling back into the couch. "Now, if only we had a bowl of popcorn handy."

Luke sighed. "So, I met the guy, I talked to the guy, and he seemed nice enough. He showed off the hybrids, gave me his spiel, and I was only half paying attention. He took me over to the Prius and I told him about your thing with Rory and the matching jogging suits."

"And how the step beyond that is matching mother-daughter church dresses from the Toy Soldier catalogue."

"Then, he took me over to the Highlander hybrids, and Lorelai, this was a nice car. And suddenly, I'm on a test drive. Then I'm jabbering about how I like the red model and how much you'll like that the word 'salsa' is in the color title, and that story of the time you and Rory tried to see who could swallow the most spoonfuls of salsa in the diner."

"That was rigged, you gave her mild!"

"She was twelve years old. Let it go, Lorelai, it was almost thirteen years ago."

"That was not in the true spirit of competition, my friend, and you, as Senor Commissioner de Salsa, should not have been so unfairly biased."

"I'm continuing with the story," Luke said, crossing his arms.

"Fine, but don't think that we're not going to come back to the salsa discussion. Continue, please."

"So, then, some very nice secretary took Ellie, and there was paperwork, and down payments and interest rates were being batted around. I know I'm negotiating the hell out of this deal, but I'm having this out of body experience, like I'm floating, and then he hands me the keys."

"And you bought a car," Lorelai finished, rubbing Ellie's back soothingly.

"I bought a car."

"That's huge, babe."

"I know. I don't even know how I did it. I don't do things so impulsively. I don't go out and buy blindly. Hell, I haven't bought a car in years. Not since I bought my sister a used car when she decided she needed to live in Florida and sell seashell necklaces at the beach with some guy name Three Trees or Two Leaves or something like that. Don't even get me started on how careless and irresponsible it was to buy it without even looking at the safety ratings or gas mileage or anything else." Luke jumped up and began to pace again, his jaunt quickening with every step and his hands flailing with every emotional outburst. "And then, there's the fact that I didn't even consult you. You are my wife, and this is one of those life-altering decisions, and I didn't even call you. You have that vibe thing. I knew about the vibe thing, and somehow I bought a car anyway. You should be furious. We should just take the car back now. I mean, they have to have a policy about temporary insanity, or we could lie and say I had a stroke. We just need to get out of this. I need my truck. What the hell did I do with my truck? Did I leave it there? We need to find my truck. "

During his rant, Lorelai stood, Ellie still in arms, and put her hand on his shoulder to stop him. "Can I see the car?"

"What?" Luke sputtered, face beet red.

"Let's go look at it," she suggested, reaching down to pry the keys out of his clenched fist.

"You're not mad?"

"I have no reason to be mad yet. You bought us a car and I want to see it."

"What about the vibe thing?" he asked as he was being pulled by Lorelai through the living room and to the front door.

"We'll take it back to the dealership and do the stroke thing you suggested.

Lorelai opened the door, still pulling Luke behind her and came to a sudden stop on the porch.


"Is that a good 'whoa'' or a bad 'whoa?'"

"It's a pretty 'whoa.' Is that what a clean car looks like? It's shiny."

"You like shiny," Luke offered, coming from behind to stand next to her, his hand still enclosed in hers.

"I do like shiny." Lorelai handed the sleeping Ellie to Luke. She picked up the keys and clicked the lock button on the fob. The lights blinked and the car beeped. "Oh! Automatic locks! This could keep me entertained for awhile." She pushed the button a couple more times.

"Before you get into that, you should actually go inside. Get the full experience."

"Okay, but I'm not sure it could top the thrill I get from this baby," Lorelai said with a grin, holding up the key fob. They walked over to the car and Lorelai climbed into the driver's seat, while Luke walked over to the passenger side and gently lowered Ellie into her car seat, strapping her in, just in case.

"Oh, leather seats!" Lorelai exclaimed as she started the car. "And buttons! Lots and lots of buttons to push!" Luke closed the backseat door and made his way to the front seat, a slow smile lighting up his face. "Can we push the buttons?"

"It's our car; we can do whatever the hell we want."

Lorelai pushed a button on the door and the windows rolled down. "Look! The windows rolled down without having to be cranked or unzipped! I didn't even know that was possible."

"Check out the radio, it's not stuck on one station."

"And what's this contraption?" Lorelai asked, gesturing below the radio.

"GPS. I paid extra, but you tend to get lost, so figured it couldn't hurt."

"As much as I would normally resent that comment, I want to play with the new toy. Turn it on!"

Luke did as she asked, the screen of the GPS filling up with colors and lines. "Configuring location," the computerized voice informed them.

"Fancy," Lorelai said, awed. "Let's put the diner's address in."


"Because I want to go for a drive and I want coffee and both needs can be met if you put the diner's address into the GPS."

"You know how to get to the diner."

"The GPS doesn't."

"This isn't George Jetson's car, you can go to the diner without plugging the address in."

"Sh, you're hurting Gertie's feelings."

"Of course, can't hurt the damn machine's feelings."

"Don't listen to him, Gertie. He's always in a foul mood this time of day."

"I'm not always in a foul mood this time of day."

"Yes, but the last thing we need is a machine with a personal vendetta. I saw I Robot."

"It's in. Let's go."

"Demanding. I like it."

"In point four miles, turn left," the GPS said. A few seconds later, it repeated this statement.

"I'm not going anywhere so I made it mad," Lorelai whispered, nudging Luke with her elbow.

"I'm turning it off," Luke said, reaching over to do so. "How's the vibe?"

"Nice and vibe-y."


♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫

After putting Ellie to bed, Lorelai returned downstairs and collapsed onto the couch next to Luke.

"Rub my feet?" she asked him. He shot her a look. "Hey, it's the least you can do after buying a new car without my consultation."

Luke sighed. "You're gonna milk this for a really long time, aren't you?"

"The foot rub will be a good start," she said in encouragement.

Luke was about to give in when there was a knock at the door.

"Oh crap," Lorelai muttered.

"Oh crap?" he repeated. "Why 'oh crap?'"

Lorelai cringed. "My parents are here."

Luke's eyes widened. "You're kidding." She shook her head. "Your parents? Did you invite them?"

"I might have."

There were another two knocks at the door.

"Whoa, okay. You invited your parents over without telling me. That totally trumps the new vehicle purchase."

Lorelai gasped in shock. "I think not!"

"What are they doing here?" Luke whispered harshly.

"I don't know!"

"But you invited them?"

"Yes!" Lorelai hissed.

"You invited them without knowing why they wanted to come over?"

Three more knocks sounded.

Lorelai rolled her eyes and pushed Luke from the couch. "Would you go answer the door!"

Luke chuckled wryly as he walked through the foyer with Lorelai trailing him. "This oughta be fun." He opened the door and greeted Richard and Emily with a patient smile. "Richard, Emily, so nice to see you. Come on in."

"Hi, Mom, hi, Dad," Lorelai said. "Have a seat in the living room. I'll get you some drinks."

Luke glared at Lorelai as she backed into the kitchen with an impish smile.

"So, how's our beautiful granddaughter?" Emily asked as she and Richard took a seat on the couch.

"Eleanor is doing very well, Emily," Luke replied. "We just put her to bed, actually."

"Was that a new vehicle I saw parked in the driveway?" Richard asked in the next moment.

Lorelai returned with four drinks on a tray, giving one to Emily, then Richard. "Mine's straight vodka," she whispered to Luke who was still standing. "You interested?"

He shook his head and sank into a chair. "Yes, we have a new vehicle."

Lorelai gave Luke a bottle of beer and her glass to hold onto while she dropped off the tray and retrieved a chair from the hall. She placed it next to his, taking a seat.

"Toyotas are a great investment; safe, reliant automobiles. It's a lovely shade, too," Richard complimented.

Luke nodded appreciatively. "Thank you, Richard."

"So..." Lorelai dragged out the word. "What's going on with you two?" she asked her parents expectantly.

Richard and Emily exchanged nervous looks.

"Well," Richard began timidly, "your mother and I have some news to share with you."

"Please don't say you're pregnant," Lorelai groaned. "I'll have nightmares forever."

"Don't be absurd, Lorelai," Emily scolded.

"You have news," Luke repeated, encouraging Richard to continue.

Lorelai clasped her hands together and leaned forward. "Yes, do tell."

"First I want to tell you how proud we are of you both and the home you've created for your burgeoning family," Richard said, clearing his throat. "I have two beautiful granddaughters, and one incredible step-granddaughter, all of whom I adore. And they are going to be the three most successful women in all of Connecticut." Lorelai's eyes welled up with tears at his words. "Eleanor is a true blessing..." he trailed off, looking to Emily for assistance as he tried to compose himself.

She graciously took the reins. "Your father and I have set up a trust fund for Eleanor." Luke and Lorelai shared the same stunned expression. "Now before you say anything," she said to Lorelai specifically, "let me finish. We know you and Luke prefer your independence, but you have many things to consider. The cost of education has increased dramatically, you have April's future to provide for, and now Eleanor. We want the best for that little girl. Summer camps, cotillions, the top schools. Of course it's your decision how the money is spent, but it's there for you whenever you need it."

"Wow," Luke stated, holding his chin in his hand. "I don't even know what to say."

"That's very generous of you, Mom and Dad," Lorelai said, still trying to process everything as she took a drink of her beverage.

"Yes, extremely," Luke agreed.

"But..." Emily supplied, anticipating their refusal.

Lorelai frowned. "No buts."

"No buts?" Richard asked in amazement.

"I know that you and Mom want to be involved in Eleanor's life. Luke and I want you to be involved."

"Yes, we just want the best for her," Richard reiterated.

"Us too," Lorelai said and Luke nodded in consensus. "Having this money for Ellie's education will be a huge weight off our shoulders."

"And we're happy to lift that weight," Emily insisted. "This is something we feel very strongly about."

Luke nodded. "We're very grateful."

Emily's eyes lit up. "So we're in agreement then?"

Luke and Lorelai turned to each other and smiled.

"We're in agreement," Lorelai answered.

"Wonderful!" Richard announced, delighted. "There's only the matter of signing the papers." He removed a large manila envelope from inside his suit jacket and set it on the coffee table.

Lorelai smirked. "What else are you hiding in there?"

"Oh, wouldn't you like to know?" Richard replied with a wink. "I think this calls for a toast." He raised his glass while the others followed suit. "Here's to Ellie's future!"

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫

Rory entered the bookstore, sniffing and savoring her favorite musty smell, the bell on the door jingling to announce her entrance. She looked around for Tess, but she was nowhere to be seen.

"Be right with you," called a familiar voice from the storeroom. The store was empty and Rory stashed her purse and her laptop case on an overstuffed chair in the corner she always preferred to sit on. Then, she made her way to the counter in order to catch Tess as she exited the storeroom.

"Hey," Tess said, taken aback as she entered the store and spotted Rory. "Did I know you were coming?"

"Um, no. I wasn't planning on it. Just not getting much work done at home, and it's quieter here."

"Yeah, it's like quiet as death today. Quiet as Silent Bob without the monologues. Quiet as the mute guy that always hung out with Zorro. Quiet as—"

"I'm getting the gist."

"In other words, your presence is welcome," Tess remarked, gesturing to the empty store around her. "Want anything to drink?"

"What do you have?"

"Probably nothing but tap water."

"I love that you offer anyway."

Tess shrugged. "My mother has a really great hospitality lecture. Almost as good as the one about never paying attention during her lectures, but half the time I'm zoning out so I couldn't tell you for sure." Tess fiddled with a stack of flyers in front of her, stacking and restacking it until it was perfect. She lined it up with the edge of the counter.

"Hey Tess," Rory began tentatively.


"You're not really okay with Kevin and me, are you?"

Tess sighed heavily, staring down at her shoes for a moment before sucking in another breath and looking at Rory. "It's not that I'm not okay with it. I'm just... I don't know. I'm feeling insecure, I guess."

"About what?"

"It's hard to explain. You were an only child most of your life. And you don't have a brother."

"I still would like to know. I don't want you to be uncomfortable. That's the last thing either of us want."

"I know. It's just that... Okay, do not tell Kevin this. If I hear a word of this breathed, that's it, no more work distractions. I'll be on you like a taskmaster hybrid of Professor Umbridge and the teacher from Sideways Stories from Wayside School."

"Spend some time in the children's section today?"

"Shush you. Here's the thing; I'm well aware that Kevin has a certain... appeal when it comes to girls."

"He is charming," Rory admitted, cocking her head to the side.

"Fine, I'll just say it. He's hot. It took me a while to come to terms with that, but I was forced to at a young age. I don't make good friends very easily, you know."

"You've never met a stranger, Tess."

"I know, but I don't have a lot of good friends. Not like you. The same was true growing up. And sometimes I would trust someone, befriend someone, and then I find out that this friend likes Kevin. A couple times they only befriended me to get closer to Kevin. Some of them dated him and I lost that friendship because it ended badly. That stings. A lot. And, I know it's stupid, and I know it's silly, and I know I met you first, but when I saw you guys spending more time together, I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop. Then it actually did. It's not that I'm not happy for you guys. I would kill to have you as a sister-in-law, if it came to that. I'm just a little apprehensive."

Rory tilted her head sympathetically. "I get it. I'm sorry, I don't want—"

"No, don't apologize. I'll get over it, just give me some time. And you don't have to invite me everywhere with you guys just so I don't feel left out. I don't want to be a third wheel any more than you want me there."


"Okay," Tess agreed. She paused and glanced down at the stack of flyers. "We have got to do something about the silence in here. Do you have your iPod?"

"In my purse." Rory went over to the chair, miraculously found her iPod on top, and made her way back to Tess, handing it to her as she approached the counter.

Tess scanned the contents, her thumb rapidly circling on the pad. "Dirty Projectors?"

"Lane's newest obsession. You'll like them."

"Anything with the word 'dirty' in the title is worth my time." Tess smirked. She turned and walked to the storeroom, and seconds later music flooded the store.

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫

"Ooh, what does this button do?" Lorelai said, reaching toward the glowing light, but Luke quickly brushed her hand away.

"Stop pushin' the buttons," he grumbled, trying to keep his eyes ahead as he pulled their new vehicle onto the highway.

"Would you rather I push your buttons?" she offered, batting her eyelashes for effect.

Luke rolled his eyes. "I'd rather you just sit back and enjoy the ride."


"At least Ellie knows how to listen to instructions," he muttered, glancing at her through the rear-view mirror.

Lorelai looked over her shoulder and smiled at their sleeping baby, bundled under a thick, flannel blanket in her car seat. "Somebody's asleep," she whispered, turning her head back around. "She looks so comfy. I think this car is magical."

"Whenever Liz or I used to fuss as babies, Dad would take us for a spin around the block. It always worked like a charm."

Lorelai beamed at him. "That's sweet. But I still think this car is magical."

Luke chuckled. "I'm sure it is."

They drove in silence for several minutes before Lorelai sighed and turned to Luke. "I have a confession to make," she told him.

"Oh?" he asked.

"Yes," Lorelai said regretfully. "Yesterday, when I told you I needed to run to the store? I kinda, sorta, might have snuck into the inn instead."

Luke nodded. "Yeah, Sookie told me."

"What?" Lorelai gasped. "No fair!"

"She was worried about you, Lorelai. She wanted to make sure we talked things through before you made any rash decisions."

"I'm not making any rash decisions," Lorelai said defensively. When Luke shot her a questioning look, she reiterated, "Okay, so the sneaking was a rash decision... Well, not entirely, actually. I talked to Ellie about it first..."

Luke pulled the vehicle over to the side of the road and set the emergency brake. "Lorelai, it's okay. I understand."

"I miss being there," she admitted quietly.

"That's your inn. You made it what it is today. It's only natural that you'd feel lost without some kind of connection to it. I'd feel the same about the diner."

Lorelai nodded. "So what should I do?"

"I don't know for sure. It's something we need to talk about some more. It's a big decision, Lorelai."

"I know it is. I'm sorry I didn't talk to you about it before."

Luke put his hand on Lorelai's thigh and squeezed it gently. "You have an opportunity to be home with our daughter for the first several weeks of her life. Most people would consider that a blessing." He leaned over and kissed her cheek. "Just think about it."

After putting the car into gear and safely pulling back onto the highway, Luke turned to Lorelai. "You okay?"

She smiled. "Yeah, just tired."

"I'll take the next exit," he said.

They made short time of the trip back to Stars Hollow, but Luke drastically slowed down as they approached the familiar 'Welcome' sign.

"Oh my God," Lorelai blurted. "Is that Gypsy and Andrew?"

"Aw jeez," Luke groaned, turning away from the grappling couple in disgust.

Lorelai giggled. "Well, now, isn't that festive? If this doesn't attract the tourists, I don't know what will. Come to Stars Hollow: Connecticut's very own make-out capital."

"That's so unsanitary."

"Maybe let's go the back way, give them some privacy," Lorelai suggested.

"I'm way ahead of you," Luke said, looping the car around and heading in the opposite direction.





To be continued... 




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