Episode 10.04 "Here's Tweetin' At You, Kid"
by Robinpoppins and sosmitten


Authors' Note: The reason our episode exists is because of the hard work of Jewels12, Filo, and our entire Virtual Season team. And, thanks to you, our readers, for sticking with us. You're the reason we're still around. Happy Thanksgiving to all our fellow Americans!

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"Okay, enough about my articles," Rory said, blushing furiously. "How are your classes going this year, Grandpa? Aren't you teaching a new seminar?"

"Yes, I am. Old School Economics in a Modern Global World or some such thing." He chuckled. "But it is proving to be quite interesting. And of course I've got my theory class as well."

"And you're moderating that honor society too, right, Dad?" Lorelai asked, her brow furrowing in concern. "That doesn't sound much like retirement to me."

Emily looked up from her lap, where Ellie was gurgling happily, and glanced at Richard sharply. "That's what I keep saying."

"Now, Emily," Richard sighed wearily, clearly familiar with this argument, "it's a perfectly reasonable load, especially considering that I have no research responsibilities. Besides," he said, looking pointedly at her, "with your Dragonfly responsibilities, you can't possibly have had time to miss me."

Emily let out a long breath of resignation, but didn't respond, instead coolly accepting a burp cloth from Luke and dabbing delicately at Ellie's chin.

"I was introduced to some fabulous networking tools through the honor society students I advise and they've turned out to be quite useful," Richard went on, obviously in his element.

Lorelai and Rory exchanged a wary look, and Lorelai said cautiously, "Please, Dad, please tell me you're not on Facebook."

"Facebook?" he said, scoffing. "That's yesterday's news. Oh, no, it's Twitter I'm referring to. It's perfect for the kind of rapid communication necessary these days."

Lorelai gulped and Rory covered her sputtering with a rather obvious cough. "Twitter?" Lorelai asked in astonishment. "You're on Twitter?"

"Why, yes, it's the perfect way to send my students links to relevant articles as they happen, rather than relying on photocopies that have to wait until class."

"Oh, I'm sure they enjoy that," Lorelai said sarcastically, glancing at Rory who had her eyebrows raised in disbelief.

"I rather think they do enjoy reading relevant articles from the news rather than having me rely solely on the textbook," Richard answered with a frown.

Rory gave him a placating look. "I'm sure they do, Grandpa."

Lorelai glared at her traitorous daughter, then turned to her mother. "How about you, Mom? Are you twittering too?"

"Good lord, no," Emily said, giving a disdainful sniff. "I don't have anything so urgent to say that it can't wait for a proper conversation."

Richard watched her with an amused smile, then shrugged at Lorelai and Rory. "I can't even convince her to get text service for her phone, much less a data plan."

"Oh, that sounds just like Luke, though we finally convinced him to join the modern world," Lorelai said, patting Luke's leg affectionately.

"More like steamrollered me when you all wanted those new fancy phones," Luke grumbled. "Still a waste of money."

"Luke, I explained to you that with the family plan, it cost no more to upgrade your service as well," Lorelai insisted patiently.

"Doesn't mean I need my phone to do more than make and receive phone calls."

"Exactly my point, Luke," Emily said with a prim smile. "It seems we are in agreement on this point."

The two of them shared a conspiratorial look while Lorelai lifted an amused eyebrow in Rory's direction and shared a silent giggle, until they were interrupted by Richard.

"It would seem that Emily and Luke are lost causes, but I can add the two of you. Surely you have accounts, correct?"

Rory looked up in alarm. "You want to be our twitter friends?" she asked weakly.

"Certainly," he said eagerly, reaching for his phone. "It will be a great way for us to keep in closer contact."

Lorelai gave a grim smile. "Just what we need." She and Rory reluctantly gave Richard their twitter names and proceeded to friend him in return. Richard was in the midst of sending a test tweet when the maid came to announce that dinner was ready.

Emily looked at the three of them and said sharply, "Put that away Richard. You know that we agreed there would be no tweeting while eating."

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Lorelai maneuvered Ellie's stroller through the diner door, smiling gratefully at the middle-aged man who held the door for her. She glanced around as she squeezed in between two customers at the counter and flagged down a harried-looking Luke. "Wow, busy. I figured people would have cleared out a bit before now."

He nodded in agreement as he hastily poured a cup of coffee and slid it toward her. "Caesar advertised a breakfast burrito special without telling me," he groused, gesturing toward the kitchen, where Caesar cowered under his glare. His expression softened as he reached for Ellie's finger and she smiled in response. "Any chance you can hang out for a few minutes before heading over to the inn? If I can clear out a few more of these people before you take off, I'll be able to take her upstairs and Caesar can deal with everything for a bit."

"Okay," Lorelai answered, hesitating. "I just need time to get all the details in order for the event this afternoon and get back here before you get hit with the lunch rush."

"Gotcha. I'll push them out the door as quick as I can," he said wryly, patting her hand and chucking Ellie's chin before picking up his order pad and dropping off checks at several tables. Resigning herself to a wait, Lorelai snagged a doughnut from the stand on the end of the counter and spent several minutes exchanging smiles with Ellie while trying to avoid splattering her with jelly.

Finally, most everyone but the morning lingerers had left. Luke made his way back behind the counter, resting on his elbows as he leaned toward Lorelai and gave her a quick kiss. "Hey," he said softly. "Sorry about that."

"It's okay," she said, though she gestured toward the door anxiously, "but I should get going. Are you okay with Ellie now?"

"Yeah. Do you think you can be back by noon?"

Lorelai pulled out her phone to check the time and grimaced. "I can try." She gave Luke a pleading look. "I brought the front pack, just in case."

He chuckled. "We're lucky she's cute. The only person who complains about me carrying her around while I work is Taylor and even he just drops subtle hints about child safety." He looked up and squeezed her shoulder, quietly acknowledging her stress. "It'll be fine. Ellie's hung out with me before. And this is the last time we have to do this kind of juggling. Once she starts daycare on Monday, I can cover more shifts during the week and be free most of the weekend, and you can work full days yourself."

At the mention of daycare, Lorelai's face fell into a frown. "I'm still not sure I'm ready for that. She's only a few months old."

Luke sighed, but said patiently, "We talked about this. If we don't have to make a puzzle out of our work schedules, then we can spend more time together as a family. Isn't that more important than a few hours in daycare?"

Lorelai nodded slowly, recognizing the logic of his arguments, but still feeling apprehensive about how quickly it was all happening.

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"Wow," April said as they turned a corner in Rory's Hartford neighborhood. "You're so much more laid back than my dad. He would have been all over me for not using a turn signal just now and for not checking my blind spot every time I changed lanes."

"Uh, thanks," Rory said hesitantly, wondering when the last time was that she'd checked her blind spot. She certainly didn't feel overly qualified to give driving lessons.

In truth, though, April was doing fine. She was a little chatty, but Rory managed to keep her focused on the road by giving detailed directions to her apartment building. They had planned to meet Kevin there and walk to the bookstore for coffee and browsing.

Rory had given Kevin a heads-up that they were arriving, so he was waiting out front when they pulled up. He guided April patiently into a parking spot, in spite of the fact that it took her three tries to get the car within a foot of the curb.

April looked embarrassed, but Rory reassured her, "It takes a while to get good at that. At least you don't have to parallel park very often in Stars Hollow."

"Yeah, I guess," April said quietly as she slipped out of the car.

"So, should we head out?" Kevin broke in, clearly trying to change the subject. He checked his watch. "If we go now, we might catch Tess before she heads home. I don't think you've met her yet, right?"

April shook her head and the three of them set off down the sidewalk. About half a block later she turned to Rory and Kevin. "I really do appreciate the driving help. You would not believe how intense my dad is about it."

Rory chuckled. "Actually, I can kind of imagine. I wouldn't be surprised if he made you wear a helmet or something."

"He keeps sending me links to random articles about driving and accidents. As if any of us are going to get hurt when he won't let me drive above twelve miles an hour."

"And I thought I was being a stickler about the speed limit," Rory said jokingly.

"Oh, you've got nothing on my dad." April paused thoughtfully. "I got him the other day, though. One of the articles he sent me about how distractions increase response time actually included data that music can help decrease response time."

"Oh, I've read about that too," Kevin agreed. "Something about how the music acts like white noise and minimizes the effects of other distractions. Apparently it can be really useful with kids who have trouble focusing."

"That's cool," April said, nodding.

"Yeah. We even did some experiments in class to test it out. The results were inconclusive, but the kids had fun at least."

April seemed to have perked up now that the focus was off her own driving. She smiled and asked eagerly, "What was your experimental protocol?"

Kevin launched into a detailed description of the set-up, which Rory tuned out. He and April chatted all the way to the bookstore and it wasn't until they'd settled down at a table with their coffee (and April's soda) that April turned her attention to Rory again. "This is really fun. Thanks so much for doing this for me."

"Anytime," Rory said casually. "It's no problem."

"Really?" April asked. "Is there any chance we can meet up tomorrow to do some more driving?"

"Oh, um..." Rory regretted her flippant offer. "Well, I've got a bunch of big deadlines this week."

April's face fell. "Oh, okay."

In the pause that followed, Kevin bumped April's arm and offered, "You know, Sundays are killer for me with the planning, but I could take you out Monday afternoon."

April grinned and said, "Cool, that's awesome," at the exact moment Rory grabbed him and whispered, "You don't have to-"

"It's okay," he whispered back. Under Rory's hesitant frown, he nodded to April and said, "It sounds like fun."

"Yeah, maybe we can even practice parallel parking again!"

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"Caesar!" Luke called out from a table near the window, miraculously balancing four plates in his hands as he delivered orders to a tour group. He reached over a woman's shoulder and set a plate down, picking up her empty coffee cup in the process.

"I'm on it, Boss," Caesar responded, and, as if reading Luke's mind, picked up the coffee carafe from the counter and began to refill drinks.

Luke weaved in and out of tables and chairs, dropping off plates for Gypsy and Andrew on his way to the counter.

"Hey, Luke, something's burning," Andrew said, sniffing the air.

Luke sniffed as well, his nose wrinkling as he turned to the kitchen and noticed smoke drifting out the window. "Damn it," he groaned, setting the extra plate down hard on Gypsy and Andrew's table as he ran straight to the source. "Caesar!" he bellowed as he darted to the kitchen. "What's on the grill?"

"Oh crap, I forgot the burgers," Caesar said, smacking his forehead and following Luke into the kitchen. The two men entered the smoky room, Luke turning off the burners as Caesar grabbed a spatula and began to scrape off the charred remains.

"I'm so sorry, Boss. I put these on and I thought I would have enough time to help you before I had to flip them."

"It's fine," Luke assured him, fanning the area. He inspected the grill, making sure nothing was actually on fire. "I better get back out there. Need me to stall with free coffees?"

"Nah, I should be good to go as soon as I scrape the rest of this off." He scratched off the remainder of the burger and used the spatula to toss it in the trash. "Is it too soon to say that I wish Lane and Zach were back?"

"I'll work on hiring someone else."

"I'm in between jobs at the moment," piped up a voice from behind them, causing both men to jerk their heads around. Kirk held a fire extinguisher, pin pulled and hose aimed at the grill. Caesar reached out and pointed the hose to the floor.

"Why are you in my kitchen?" Luke said, glaring at Kirk.

"I saw smoke and it's my duty as a volunteer firefighter to offer my services."

"We're fine," Luke said, pointing behind him. "Now out!"

"A little birdie told me you were hiring," Kirk remarked, setting the fire extinguisher on a nearby table.

"You heard it from me."

"I'd be happy to bring by my resume."

"No way in hell, Kirk." Luke placed his hand firmly on Kirk's shoulder as he led him out of the kitchen, Kirk stumbling slightly over the threshold.

"I have my food handler's license."

"So do teenagers working at McDonald's. It doesn't take a rocket science to get one."

"I also have plenty of experience working in food service," Kirk added, turning to talk to Luke behind his shoulder.

"I have seen your resume before. I'm well aware of your experience."

"I'm not seeing the problem," Kirk pointed out, jaw set as he turned to look at Luke.

"The problem is that I know you, Kirk," Luke said, crossing his arms. "I've eaten pizza that you have delivered. I've seen the cakes you make for weddings. You lose more eggs than are found every Easter. Your homemade barbeque sauce caused a salmonella epidemic last summer. You were the brains behind the fried twinkie booth that nearly burned down the gazebo. Are we seeing a pattern here?"

"I can see how this could be a problem."

"You're going to have to give me a good reason to hire you. A damn good reason."

"Order up," Caesar called out from the kitchen window. Luke patted Kirk on the shoulder.

"So, I'll work on that reason, then?" Kirk asked as Luke walked away.

"You do that."

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"Lorelai," Luke called out as he entered the living room, Ellie fussing and whimpering in his arms, her face flushed.

Lorelai was seated on the couch, her laptop in front of her as she worked on a spreadsheet for the inn. She looked up as Luke and Ellie walked in the room and pushed her glasses up her nose, her brow furrowed as she noticed Ellie's disposition. "Whoa, she's red. Like Hot Tamale red."

Luke turned her in his arms to get a good look at her, and Ellie let out a cry of protest. "So it's not just me."

"It's definitely not just you." Lorelai closed her laptop and stood.

"I need you to feel her. She feels hot, but I can't tell if my hands are cold and she just feels hot or if she's really hot, like feverish hot."

Lorelai placed her palm on Ellie's forehead, and then felt her hands. She shook her head. "She feels hot, Luke." She took Ellie from him, and the baby nuzzled Lorelai's neck. "Aw, sweetie, do you not feel good?"

"I'll go get the thermometer," Luke said with a sigh and Lorelai followed him into the kitchen, rubbing Ellie's back soothingly. "Has she been around anyone who's been sick?"

"Not that I can think of. Martha had a cold, but she was at school when we were over there the other day. And Martha never had a fever. Didn't Anna have the flu last week?"

"Yeah," Luke said, pulling open a drawer near the sink. "But, April didn't show any signs of being sick." He found the thermometer and turned it on, placing it on Ellie's forehead as she rested on Lorelai's shoulder. He pressed the button, and the thermometer beeped moments later. He pulled it off and showed it to Lorelai. "Definitely a fever."

"It's probably just one of those 24 hour things," Lorelai supplied, rubbing the top of Ellie's head. "Rory used to have them all the time, especially when the weather changed like this."

"But with this high of a fever?" Luke asked, frowning.

Lorelai shrugged. "It happens."

"Well, as long as you're not worried about it, I'm not worried about it," Luke relented. He leaned over and kissed the back of Ellie's head.

"I'm sure she'll be over it in the morning. We'll just give her some fluids and a little bit of that infant Tylenol."

"Do we have any infant Tylenol?"

"Um," Lorelai said, her brow furrowed. "I'm thinking no."

"Which means you need me to go get some."

"You would be the best husband in the world if you did." Lorelai smiled adoringly.

"The things I do for you," Luke said, shaking his head and picking up his keys from the kitchen table.

"Ah, but from such things comes even greater things. Perhaps even dirty things."

"Not in front of the b-a-b-y," Luke said with a growl.

Lorelai winked, patted him on the bottom and pushed him towards the door.

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In the storeroom, Luke hefted a crate of pickle jars from one shelf to another, grunting from the weight, and then set it down next to an identical crate. Satisfied with its placement, he picked up his ledger and wrote down the quantity of pickle jars. Then, he glanced around the room, determining which item to sort and count next.

"Hey Boss?" Caesar called out from the diner. "You might want to come out here."

Luke sighed and set his ledger down. "Can you handle it?" he yelled back. "I need to finish inventory today so I know what to order."

Caesar entered the room, a mischievous smile on his face. "This is just something you need to see in person, Boss."

"What's going on?"

Caesar shrugged, his grin widening, and he gestured to the dining area. Rolling his eyes, Luke walked out of the storeroom, Caesar exuberantly following behind him.

"This is going to be good," Caesar said under his breath.

Luke crossed the threshold into the dining area and stopped short as he stepped in front of the counter. He took in what was in front of him, nostrils flaring instantly, and he turned to Caesar to look for an explanation. Caesar shrugged again, and chuckled. He patted Luke on the shoulder.

"Good luck," he said, the mirth barely contained, and he turned and made his way back to the kitchen.

"Mr. Danes," Kirk said, stepping forward and offering his hand to Luke. "Glad you could make it."

Luke glanced down at Kirk's outstretched hand. "Why are you wearing a suit, Kirk?"

"This is business professional dress, Mr. Danes. We have business to discuss." Kirk finally withdrew his hand, noticing that Luke was not going to shake it, and then gestured to the rest of the room. "Now," he continued. "If you'll step further into the room and have a seat in front of the screen, we can begin the presentation."

Luke's eyes widened, as if seeing the screen for the first time. "Why is there a screen set up in my diner, Kirk?"

"It's for the presentation, Mr. Danes."

"What presentation?"

"The Kirk Gleason presentation. One of the first rules of business is that you have to be able to sell yourself."

"You get that out of a book?"

Kirk glanced down at his shoes. "I may have."

"I'm not interviewing you, Kirk."

"This isn't an interview. It's just a presentation."

"A presentation about you?"


"With the intention that I might hire you because of said presentation?"

Kirk paused and looked around the room nervously before returning his attention to Luke. "That's the general idea, Mr. Danes."

"Stop calling me that," Luke growled, crossing his arms.

"I had a feeling that you would be reluctant to the approach, Mr. Danes."

Luke opened his mouth to interject, but closed it as Kirk turned his back and walked to a nearby table with a briefcase on top. Kirk fiddled with the latches a little, unable to open it, then the top sprang open, papers flying out.

"Excuse me," Kirk said with an embarrassed shrug. He bent down and began to frantically collect the papers off the floor, attempting to arrange them into frenzied piles. Luke watched him from the counter, eyes still wide, rooted to his spot. Kirk picked up one of the piles and handed it to Luke.

"Here is my resume and reference letters. Feel free to peruse these at your leisure."

"There are 50 pages more than I want to read in this pile."

"It's only 35 pages long."

"My point exactly. Pick 5 letters and 3 pages of your resume."

"You really don't have a clear picture without the entire resume."

"I'm fine with that."

Kirk leafed through the pile pulling out a few pages at random. "I'm going to bypass all my Taylor-related jobs."

"That would be wise."

"And anything that ended with me in the hospital."

Luke browsed the reference letters Kirk handed him, his brow furrowed. "This letter was written by Fran from Weston's."

"A very good boss."

"Who has been dead for seven years."

"Yes, sadly."

"I want up to date letters, Kirk." He picked up another, frowning. "And nothing from Al."

Kirk picked out a few more papers. "I believe these accurately depict the employee I will strive to be for you."

"Fine, I'll look these over and get back to you."

Kirk paused before taking back the rest of the papers from Luke. "Are you sure you don't want to see the presentation?"

Luke glanced around the diner, seeing it was still empty. Caesar poked his head out of the kitchen window and pointed to the presentation, nodding wildly. He sighed. "What the hell."

"Thank you, Mr. Danes. You will not be sorry. Let me cue it up."

Luke walked to one of the diner chairs in front of the screen and sat down and shot a glare to Caesar. Tinkling piano music filled the room and pictures filled the screen. Young Kirk in an apron and holding a bowl flashed on to the screen and faded into the background.

"This is a story about a boy," Kirk began, shining a laser pointer to point out himself. "A story about a boy and his love of food."

Luke rolled his eyes. "Jeez."

Another picture scrolled across the screen, this time showing Kirk busing tables in a Weston's apron. "It has been a long journey for this boy. A journey of ups," he pointed out as a picture of Kirk in front of his Kirk's sign popped up. Luke could be seen in the background, arms crossed. "And a journey of downs." Yet another picture flashed, this time showing Kirk with bandaged hands.

"Hey, I remember that," Caesar said with a grin.

"Join me in this 50 minute presentation as I dissect this journey and explore a man's love for the food service industry. Movie buff Lorelai Gilmore Danes says it's a 'must see,' while performer extraordinaire Patricia LaCosta called it a 'moving experience.' And, now, allow me to present 'Kirk: A Food Story."

"I'm done," Luke exclaimed, standing quickly and striding out of the room.

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"Lorelai," Luke called up the stairs from the living room. "Did you take Ellie's temperature yet?"

"Hold your horses," Lorelai shot back grumpily. "I'm still getting her dressed."

"We just need to know," Luke responded, the sound followed by that of his boots clomping up the stairs. "If she can't go to daycare tomorrow, we have to make other plans."

"But she has to be able to go to daycare. I'm meeting with the Hollingsworths to go over final details for their daughter's wedding. And the vice president of a marketing firm that wants to do a training conference, and..." She could hear the anxiety in her voice as it trailed off, and looking down at her half-dressed daughter did not make her feel any better.

"Hey," Luke said softly, his hand dropping to her shoulder as he walked up behind her. "We'll figure something out."

She picked up Ellie and spun in his arms so that their daughter was cradled between them. "It's my first real day back—not just sneaking in for three hours at a time."

"I know, and I know you have meetings. I can probably take care of her. But," he looked at her pointedly. "We're not going to know if it's an issue unless you take her temperature. She has been pretty fussy today." He pecked her on the forehead, then did the same to Ellie before turning to grab the thermometer from the bathroom.

A few moments later, the thermometer beeped, and Luke glanced at it then looked at Lorelai grimly," I guess that's that then. I'll go call Zach." He passed the thermometer to her and pulled his phone from his pocket.

As he dialed, Lorelai looked at the digital display and let out a weary sigh. "100.8? Seriously? Come on, baby girl. If you're going to be sick enough to skip daycare, at least make it a solid 103 or 104."

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Monday morning, Lorelai walked down the stairs, baby monitor in hand, and made her way over to the couch. Not spotting the cordless phone in its usual spot, she frowned and scanned the living room. Discovering it wasn't in plain sight, she leaned over the couch and felt in between the cushions, then cried out victoriously when her hand made contact with the phone. She walked over to the table and found the sheet of paper with Ellie's daycare information written on it. Finding the phone number she dialed.

"Bright Beginnings Daycare, this is Kristen."

"Hi, Kristen," Lorelai began, attempting to match Kristen's effervescent tone. "I'm Lorelai Danes and my daughter, Eleanor, is supposed to be starting daycare with you guys today."

"Oh, right, I see her name right here."

"Well, here's the thing; Ellie came down with something this weekend and she has a fever."

"Oh no, that's too bad. Poor thing."

"She seems to be doing a little better this morning, but I figured you had a policy about illness and my friend said children usually can attend school again 24 hours after a fever, so we'll be keeping her home today."

"Thank for informing me, Mrs. Danes. We do have a policy, but it recently changed with the H1N1 illness. We are now requiring that children stay home for the rest of the week when they have a fever, just to make sure. We found that this is not only best for the children at out center, but for your child as well."

"Wow," Lorelai said, her eyes widening. "A week. That's just... yeah, a week."

"I apologize, Mrs. Danes, we do realize that the policy may be a little extreme, but we do take illness very seriously at Bright Beginnings."

"Oh, no, I completely understand. It just requires... more schedule arranging."

"Another thing that we would prefer, and this isn't a written rule, but we would like to see a note from your doctor detailing-"

Luke walked in the room, his cell phone pressed to his ear. "Caesar, you made me come out of the storeroom, you made me listen to the damn presentation, I don't have much of a choice in the matter. I either have to shut the diner down or hire Kirk temporarily, and God help me, hiring Kirk seems like the better option."

Lorelai put her hand over the mouthpiece. "Caesar flipping out?"

"Understatement of the century," Luke whispered, rolling his eyes.

"Well, it's a cold day in hell-esque day. I foresee snowballs."

"Who are you talking to?"

"Daycare. They don't want Ellie starting until next week."

"A week?" Luke exclaimed.

"I know."

"Jeez... No, Caesar, you can't quit because of this," Luke said, picking up his phone conversation as he made his way back into the kitchen.

Lorelai's cell phone chirped from her purse, which was also on the table. She dug around one-handed, finding it on top and read the display.

"economicbulldog: Te audire no possum. Musa sapientum fixa est in aure."

"Latin?" Lorelai posed out loud.

"I'm sorry?" Kristen asked.

"No, I was just talking out loud, I'm sorry. I promise I'm listening."

Kirsten laughed. "Well, and when Eleanor is ready to come back, we'll be able to discuss some of the things we were going to talk about today, and I still would like you to bring-"

Her phone rang again. "economicbulldog: Vah! Denuone Latine loquebar? Me ineptum. Interdum modo elabitur."

"Seriously, Dad?"

"Mrs. Danes?"

"Oh, I'm sorry Kristen. My father got a twitter account and... it's a long story... A whole week, huh?"

"I'm sorry. I know it's probably inconvenient for you."

"Oh no, it's fine. We'll just... work it out." Lorelai sighed.

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The three weeks that Luke had watched Ellie a few mornings a week seemed to have convinced Lorelai that he was a competent caregiver, and he didn't want her to think otherwise. If he was being honest, though, he had to admit that he'd had it easy, since Ellie had spent much of the time they'd been together napping. She seemed to have gotten his early riser gene—which was something Lorelai had not yet forgiven him—and it meant that she reliably took a long morning nap, which made for a comfortable routine for the two of them.

Today, though, stretched out in front of him in a way that looked endless, with long waking periods that he wasn't sure he knew how to fill. And while Ellie took a bottle agreeably enough, it wasn't her preferred method of nourishment or soothing. He was used to having Lorelai for more of the day and he wasn't sure she'd accept a poor substitute.

He heard through the baby monitor the shifting and rolling that indicated Ellie was waking up, and braced himself against the day as he walked to the kitchen to warm her bottle. While the bottle was warming he heard his phone beep and picked it up, wondering if it was a message from Lorelai. When he opened the phone, he noticed an odd message "economicbulldog: interesting take on recent Fed decisions" followed by a link. "Spam? On my phone? I knew these things were a bad idea."

By the time the bottle was warm, she was gurgling happily, smiling and alert as he scooped her up into his arms and settled into the rocking chair to give her the bottle.

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Three hours later found Luke standing in front of Ellie's dresser staring at the array of stripes, polka-dots and prints, trying to find two pieces that wouldn't look ridiculous together. He'd already used the carefully selected spare outfit Lorelai had left out when Ellie had spit up after her lunch bottle. He hadn't been prepared for the diaper explosion that had quickly followed, requiring another full change, which led to him standing here, perplexed, with a diaper-clad Ellie squirming in his arms. How did Lorelai manage to make outfits—that had people oohing and aahing their approval—out of this cacophony of pink and green and yellow? He could almost hear Babette and Patty clucking their tongues and going on about what happened when Luke picked her clothes.

Luke grabbed his phone, tempted to call Lorelai for her advice. What he saw instead was another strange message: "@burgerboy: heard about a splendid place nearby for fishing" Assuming that the message was some sort of joke from Lorelai, he glared at it for a moment before closing the phone, suddenly determined to get through the day without having to admit defeat. Looking back into the dresser, he reached for the pants with the least busy pattern and matched them with a similarly hued top, hoping for the best.

Luke spread Ellie out on the bed to dress her, too exhausted to stand at the changing table. He was amazed at the energy and focus it required to keep a baby happy and entertained, and though it wasn't quite time for her afternoon nap, she'd been increasingly fussy as the afternoon wore on.

He eventually decided a walk would be the best way to calm her, and possibly lead to a nap. It took Luke three trips in and out of the house to get the stroller set up and stocked with all of the essentials. As soon as they were finally ready to head out, Ellie burst into tears and he was ready to scrap the idea entirely, but he got her calmed down and after a few blocks she looked content and relaxed. They walked through the town center, Luke explaining Lorelai's absence and the daycare situation several times. The sympathetic comments and looks gradually grew more annoying, the remarks about how hard it must be for him without Lorelai hitting a bit too close to the target.

Luke barely managed to extract himself from a Taylor lecture in time to get Ellie home before she fell asleep. He knew Lorelai had become adept at transferring her from stroller to bed while she was asleep. He felt more confident with the tried and true snuggle in the rocker.

It was only then, with his daughter's tiny body expanding and contracting against his, that he could see that while parenting would always be a challenge, he was both willing and able to handle that challenge.

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫

"Then, they used this illusion called the Ebbinghaus illusion," April said, using one hand to gesture and the other to hold the wheel of the car. "Which is where orange circles either aided or mislead the subjects in determining which one of the circles were larger-"

"You probably should have used your signal to change lanes back there," Kevin interrupted, wincing as he turned and shot an apologetic wave to the person April cut off.

April, oblivious to what she had done, continued, undeterred. "And they found that the adults were more likely than the children to be fooled by the optical illusion, which would mean that children don't necessarily consider the context of visual scenes, and not just the parts, and this Doherty guy says that it's because it develops slowly as the child ages. But, then-" A car honked as April weaved into another lane, and Kevin gripped his arm rest. "God, why are they honking? Are they honking at me? People can be so rude. What was I saying?"

Kevin released the armrest, his knuckles red. "Something about visual context developing slowly in children." He looked around, noticing a car passing them on their left, violently gesturing at April in the driver's seat as he appeared to be yelling at her. Kevin waved again and mouthed "sorry" to the other driver.

April seemed not to notice. "But I don't really know how sound that is. There is this psychologist in Colorado that said that this information is convincing, but a little surprising, since there has been studies where children were able to track visual context. I tend to agree with him. And, I mean, I did read this on the Wired website, so I haven't had a chance to actually look into the statistics and determine whether the study is reliable or not."

"But it is interesting," Kevin added. "I'd like to show this to my students, maybe turn it into an experiment they can perform for a project. Oh, and turn right up here."

"I could help you set it up, if you want. While it's nice to be closer to my dad, Stars Hollow High doesn't have the most challenging science curriculum and I'm starved for something to sink my teeth into." April turned and took in her surroundings. "Where are we going anyway?"

"I can't say. It would ruin the surprise," Kevin said with a grin. "That was the turn lane back there," he commented as April sped past it. "But that's cool. We can take the next turn up here and still get there."

"You know, you are a much better at this than my mom. She's one of those people who is constantly pushing the imaginary brake on the floorboard."

"Yeah, I lived through several years of that. I feel your pain."

April zipped into the turn lane. "I think Rory was trying to be level-headed about my driving, but even she seemed nervous at the end of our trip the other day."

Kevin nodded and chuckled. "Rory didn't have to teach Tess how to drive. She has no idea what it could be like. Oh, and one more right turn and we'll be there. Then we can practice parking."

"I've met Tess. I see what you mean."

The car approached the building and April turned into a parking lot, forgetting once again to turn on her signal. Kevin opened his mouth to comment, but April interjected, "I know, I know. Turn signal. You would think with all the technology we have now that cars would be able to do it automatically."

April pulled up to a parking spot and crookedly steered in between the lines. "Am I in?"

"Close enough," Kevin said, looking out the window to spot the lines. "We'll work on it later. But now's the time on Sprockets when we eat ice cream."

"Ooo, ice cream!" April squealed, unbuckling her seatbelt. "I've never been here before. I had no idea where we were going."

"You're doing great, but I felt like you could use a break."

They both exited the vehicle and Kevin attempted to squeeze in between the car's bumper and the red car next to him. April beamed at him.

"Kevin, seriously, you're the best. Thank you so much for doing this. This has been so much fun."

"Any time, kid." He ruffled her hair affectionately and gave her a pat on the shoulder. "Now tell me more about this experiment."

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫

"Enjoying a cup of coffee with Dan on campus. Bulldogs, bow wow wow," Rory commented from the receiver Lorelai had pressed to her ear as she sorted papers on the front desk with her other hand.

"That was your Richard tweet of the day?" Lorelai said, nearly exasperated. "You picked that over the 50 other gems we have received since this morning? Not to mention the fact that he learned how to re-tweet today. Seriously, who is teaching him all this?"

"I almost went for the one that just said 'carpe diem,' but it seemed too obvious."

"Yes, because apparently my father fancies himself Robin Williams."

"I wonder if he makes his students stand on their desks," Rory giggled.

"Wow, can you imagine that on lecture hall desks? They better have good insurance."

"O Captain, my captain."

"O Captain, my captain," Lorelai repeated, saluting. "How are things with you?"

"Things are good. Kevin is good. Work is busy, but good. April seems to be making a lot of excuses to come over, but that's good too. How about you?"

"Work is good. Ellie is no longer sick, so she is now good. Luke seems to be good with the new arrangement."

"Oh yes, how is Mr. Mom?"

"Uh," Lorelai said, pausing, her brow furrowed. "I think he's doing okay. I haven't had any panicked calls yet, or heard something from his twitter, so I assume he and Ellie are fine."

"Luke has a twitter?"

"Well, I should probably tell him that he does have one, but he may or may not be the one updating it."

"Which means you are updating it."

"I plead the fifth."

"I guess that's good, then. There haven't been any major disasters."

"I guess," Lorelai remarked, biting her lip. "I'm not sure if that's a good thing or not, though."

"Well, you are never not needed, if that's what you're feeling."

"Maybe. I finally feel like I'm in the swing of things at work again. I just feel like I'm missing out at home."

"I know," Rory said, her voice sympathetic.

"I love that you know." The line went quiet, and Lorelai absently shifted papers around the desk. She took in a breath. "Think we should tell Dad that there's a 140 character limit for a reason?"

"But then how would we ever see the rant tweets about the toupees at the business faculty meetings?"

"Oh yeah," Lorelai said with a laugh. "Those are too good to miss."

"I gotta go finish this article. Catch you on the tweet back?"

"Here's tweetin' at you, kid."

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫

Luke entered the diner, Ellie's car seat in hand, and was nearly bowled over by Kirk, who was loaded down with plates.

"Coming through!" he announced as he zoomed past. "Sorry, Boss."

The diner was packed, customers standing against the wall as they waited for tables. He pushed his way to the counter, careful not to slam Ellie into any obstacles. Patty and Babette, sitting at the counter, turned in their stools so they could watch the action in the dining area.

"Morning, ladies."

"Well, look what the cat dragged in," Patty said huskily.

"And he's got the baby too," Babette rasped, reaching out to take the car seat from Luke. "Lorelai at the inn?"

"Yeah, it's just Ellie and me today."

"This one is gonna be a daddy's girl," Babette commented as she fiddled with the straps to release Ellie from her restraints.

"And who could blame her," Patty purred.

"How's it going in here?"

"Much better than yesterday," Babette remarked.

"Much fewer broken plates," Patty reminded her.

"And did you see the uniforms! The boys are lookin' sharp."

"I hear Kirk made one for you, Luke dear."

Kirk sped past them again, and Luke caught sight of the uniforms. It was a plain black shirt with the Luke's logo in the front. As Kirk walked away from them, Luke spotted "GLEASON" in bold letters with, "it would be a pleasure to serve you," printed smaller underneath. Luke rolled his eyes.

"Oh, and tell him about Kirk's special," Babette said, nudging Patty as she made silly faces for Ellie.

"Oh, yes, Kirk's special."

"Do I want to know?" Luke said with a groan.

"Probably not, but it's disgusting enough to be absolutely delicious. Peanut butter and marshmallow cream sandwich-"

"Cut into stars," Babette added.

"With caramel dipping sauce. I melt just thinking about it," Patty said, a dreamy look on her face.

"Morey woke up last night craving it. He had me up first thing in the morning so we could get one."

"Everyone is going ga-ga over it."

Luke looked around the diner, once again taking in how packed it was. He sighed as he realized it wasn't quite the disaster zone that he thought it would be.

"Hey Boss," Caesar said jubilantly, showing off his t-shirt as he walked into the diner with a couple of orders. "What do you think?"

"Not bad," he commented as Caesar found the customers he was looking for. He glanced at Ellie, all smiles as Patty and Babette cooed at her, and he couldn't help but smile as well.

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫

Rory sat on her couch, tapping away at her laptop, trying to determine the origin of the strange humming noise that had caught her attention. She finally realized that she was hearing the very muffled ringing of her phone, which she'd left buried in the bottom of her bag underneath her sweater. In her hurry to dig it out and answer it, she didn't take the time to look at the display.



"Yeah. Good guess."

"Uh... thanks," Rory answered slowly, trying to remember the last time April had called her. They usually communicated by email. "What's up?"

"Oh," April answered casually. "I'm in Stars Hollow with my dad and your mom and we need you to break a tie."

"Okay. What's the topic?"

"Bugs Bunny or Daffy Duck?"


"Favorite cartoon character," April explained. "I'm Bugs all the way, but your mom picked Daffy Duck."

"She always was kind of a rebel."

"But you're with me that Bugs is the classic, right? My dad was no help, of course. He thinks cartoons rot your brain."

"Such an ill-guided notion," Rory said in mock dismay. "But on the Bugs vs. Daffy question, I'm going to have to agree with you. That laid back wit sold me. But Mom always had a kind of 'take on the world' personality. So, what do I win?"

"I think a Warner Brothers marathon at the next opportunity."

Rory shrugged. "Sounds good to me. Was that all then? I was work-"

April's words came out all in a rush, as if she'd been forcefully holding them back. "Oh, is Kevin there? What's his pick? Please don't tell me he'll side with your mother. I also wanted to ask him about that physics of car crashes website he told me about. I was going to tell my physics teacher about it."

"Oh, well, he's not here, but I'll tell him you asked about it." She lowered her voice to a stage whisper. "And I'll be sure to set him straight on the Bugs question too."

"Excellent, but I'm sorry I missed him." She sounded genuinely disappointed. "Thank him again for taking me out driving."

"Will do," Rory responded.

"Hey, is there any chance you could give me his email? I'd love to bounce ideas off him for my science fair project."

Rory hesitated a moment. "Why don't I have him email you? I'm not sure which email address he'd want to use."

"Sure. That would be great. Thanks, Rory. And thank him again for me please."

"Gotcha. Two rounds of thanks yous coming up."

April laughed and then took in a breath as if she was about to launch into another topic.

"Oh, hey," Rory cut in. "I really need to get going. I've got a story due tomorrow."

"Okay, sorry. I'll see you soon then."

"Absolutely. Just set up that marathon and I'll be there."

"I'll let you know when. Bye, Rory."

"Bye, April."

Rory pressed 'end' then stared at her phone. "Well, that was a little unusual," she said to herself before dumping her phone on the coffee table and picking up her laptop again.

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫

Lorelai rubbed the back of her hand across bleary eyes as she padded down the stairs. Hearing Ellie's happy giggles, she turned toward the kitchen where she found Luke washing dishes and Ellie batting at the toys on her exersaucer.

"Hey," she said to Luke, before crouching down in front of her daughter. "How are you, baby girl? Is Daddy keeping you entertained?"

"Actually, she's doing that all on her own." Luke gestured toward the exersaucer toys as if to explain.

"Or maybe," Lorelai said, sliding up behind Luke and slipping her arms around his chest, "she likes watching her daddy as much as I like watching her daddy."

He looked back at her and rolled his eyes, but didn't argue. Lorelai gave him one more squeeze, then pulled away, glancing at the clock. "It's almost 8:00 a.m. Don't you have to get to the diner soon? You usually get me up well before this." She pointed at the sink. "I also usually do the dishes."

He just shrugged. "It's no big deal. Ellie and I were doing fine, so I thought I'd let you sleep."

Lorelai smiled through a yawn. "Well, I do appreciate that, but I can take over now. Caesar's probably getting swamped."

Luke waved off her concern. "He'll be fine. I can at least let you get fully woken up."

Holding up the mug of coffee she'd just poured from the freshly made pot, Lorelai gave him a gentle shove. "This should take care of that. Now go! I don't want all of Stars Hollow hunting me down because they had to wait for their chilaquiles."

He groaned, but edged reluctantly away from her, bending down to press a kiss to Ellie's forehead. "Bye, pumpkin." As he stood up, he began a litany of instructions. "I fed her around six, so she'll be fine for a bit and probably want to nurse before taking her nap."

Lorelai nodded. "I know; this one's pretty predictable."

"And she's been pretty happy hanging out in this thing, but if she starts to whimper, get her out quickly before she totally loses it. Once she's done with it, she's really done with it."

She stared at him oddly for a moment and said impatiently, "I know. I'm the one that convinced you she was old enough to use this thing a little bit at a time."

He looked like he was about to protest, but then seemed to remember something. "Oh, and I changed her after I gave her the bottle. She looked a little red. Not a rash, but I used a little cream, so you might want to check on that."

"Okay, got it. Really got it. I swear if I have a question, I'll call you."

Luke sighed, then gave each of them another kiss before heading for the door. Lorelai didn't let out her breath until she heard the front door close, at which point she turned to Ellie, shaking her head. "Wow, you'd think I was just some neighbor kid. Does he think in two days I forgot how to take care of you?"

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫

"I should warn you," Rory said, after licking the pasta sauce off of her fork, "that if you make a habit of cooking for me, I may begin to take you for granted. I mean..." she shrugged, "you've seen my mom and Luke. We Gilmore women can be high maintenance."

Kevin laughed in protest. "You are not high maintenance." He pointed his fork at her. "Besides, I like to cook."

"I'm not complaining, I'm just saying," Rory answered, the warning tone in her voice a contrast to her wide grin.

He grinned back, but after a moment his expression grew more intense and he said softly, "I don't mind you taking me for granted."

Rory looked down, fiddling with her napkin self-consciously before meeting his eyes again. "I hope that I don't make you regret that."

"Not likely."

She blushed in response. "Wow, pretty deep for dinner."

"Well, then I guess it's time for me to torment you with stories about my day."

"Yes, please do," she said, leaning her chin on her clasped hands. "What did the little rascals do today?" She listened to a few anecdotes, marveling as always at the patience of a middle school teacher.

After the third story, he looked up and added, "Oh, and April emailed me today."

"She did what?"

"She wrote to me with a question about her science fair project. She's brainstorming topics." He stopped when he noticed Rory's puzzled frown. "What's wrong?"

"It's a little weird."


"She called me last night on a strange pretense, but she eventually got around to asking to talk to you. She seemed really disappointed that you weren't around. I was going to wait to give her your email until I talked to you. How did she get your address?"

Kevin shrugged. "I guess she got it from the school website. Why is it weird that she's emailing me? She's your sister."

The word made Rory pause. "Huh," she said, smiling ruefully. "I know that's true, but it sounds funny to hear you say 'sister.' I'm still not used to thinking of Gigi as my sister and she's been around a lot longer than I've been related to April."

"Which is interesting, because ever since I've known you, she's been your sister, so that's just who April is—Rory's sister." He cocked his head to look at her. "Does it bother you that she's talking to me?"

Rory pressed her lips together and let out a long breath. "I was just getting a weird vibe from the phone call. And she went to hunt down your email even though I told her I would get it for her." She hesitated, biting her lip. "I think she has a crush on you."

Kevin snorted and shook his head. "No, she just likes to talk about science."

Rory simply lifted her eyebrow in response.

"No, that's not..." his voice trailed off helplessly as Rory gave a little chuckle.

"It's cute that you don't know how attractive young male teachers are to teenage girls," she said. "Stay that way, okay?"

He just sighed and shook his head in disbelief. They looked at each other in silence for a few moments, until they were interrupted by the ring of Rory's phone. She glanced at the display, then gave Kevin a knowing look and answered, "Hi, April."

This time April didn't beat around the bush, instead asking for Kevin right away. When Rory handed him the phone, she couldn't resist mouthing 'I told you so,' as he picked it up and walked across the room. She heard only small snatches of their conversation and what she did hear was about science. A few minutes later, Kevin walked toward her, holding out the phone.

"She had several legitimate questions about her project, and I told her she could keep emailing me at the school address if she wanted, but I asked her to not call your cell number to reach me." He paused before adding, "And I didn't give her my cell number."

"That was probably wise," Rory said with a smile.

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫

Luke blew a raspberry on Ellie's freshly washed belly. She smelled of baby shampoo and diaper cream and he was dad enough to find that appealing. He looked up to find Lorelai leaning against the doorframe.

"You going to dress her anytime soon?" she teased.

He smiled sheepishly. "We were just playing."

"I can see that." Her voice softened. "She loves spending time with you."

"You think?"

She nodded. "Oh yeah."

"Well, feeling's mutual," he said, reaching out a finger for Ellie to grab.

"I'm so glad you were able to watch her this week. I don't know how we would have done it otherwise.

Luke let out a long breath and tipped his head to the side thoughtfully. "Yeah, me too."

"I guess we'll just have to get adjusted to the daycare routine next week," Lorelai said with a sigh.

"About that...maybe we should..." Luke said, his voice trailing off.

Lorelai stared at him, her eyes narrowing suspiciously. "Maybe we should what?"

"Rethink it," he offered hesitantly.

"Haven't we had this conversation before? The one where I express my doubts and you say, 'of course daycare is the right thing to do.'" She let out a long frustrated breath. "Luke, I've committed to being at the inn. I have meetings, events-"

"No," he cut in quickly, correcting her. "That's not what I meant." He paused a moment, uncertain about her reaction. "What if I stayed home with her?"

The fact that she didn't laugh at the suggestion was encouraging, but she furrowed her brow in thought. "Weren't we trying to avoid reshuffling your whole work schedule so that you could keep your weekends mostly free? And all those arguments about how I couldn't give up running my own business when there were other options. It's all the same issues all over again."

He shook his head. "It's not the same thing. You opened the inn yourself and it's still expanding and growing. You shouldn't have to choose between that and being a mother. But I've been doing the same thing at the diner for almost 20 years. I won't be missing anything."

Luke could tell that she understood him, but was still skeptical. "What about the hours and shifts?"

He grimaced. "I can't believe I'm about to say this, but Kirk is doing a good job, and since he insisted on entry-level pay, financially we'd be about even."

"So you're sure?" she asked. "We'll lose our deposit."

"That's okay." He gave a weary sigh. "I guess I'll have to tell Kirk tomorrow."

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫

Luke stood at one end of the counter, Kirk on the other, as Luke counted change to balance the cash register. Kirk scrubbed a coffee stain out of the counter, taking care not to scrub to hard. After Luke finished counting the quarters in his drawer, he glanced up at Kirk, noticing that he was wearing a blue backwards baseball cap for the first time with his new diner shirt. He shook his head.

"Where did you get the shirts?" Luke posed, clearing his throat.

Kirk looked up. "I still have a screen printer from when I used to make shirts for the town."

"Ah," Luke said, picking up a stack of ones to count out. Kirk returned to his task as well, and silence once again engulfed the empty diner.

After a few moments, Kirk piped up. "Is Ellie going back to daycare on Monday?"

"That was the plan."

"Oh. Okay."

Finishing his task, Kirk set the rag on the counter and stared absently out the window.

Luke noticed this, and shook his head, as if incredulous of what he was about to do. He sucked in a deep breath. "Kirk, how would you feel about picking up a full time shift?"

Kirk turned towards him and his eyes widened. "I would like that."

Luke let out the breath he seemed to be holding in. "Okay."


Luke picked up the stack of five dollar bills and began to set them in stacks. Without warning, he felt Kirk's arms wrap around him in a tight squeeze. His expression instantly turned disgusted. "Don't touch me, Kirk."

Nearly smiling, Kirk pulled back. "Okay."

Then, Kirk picked up his rag and both men finished their jobs in silence.



To be continued... 




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