Episode 10.08 "With a Little Help from Your Friends"
by Filo & lulu


Authors' Note: Filo would like to thank all the betas for their patience, and Dr. Pepper for helping me to stay awake. And thanks to all the fans who continue to read. I've been honored to be a part of the project.  lulu gives thanks to Mags, Jewels and Robin for all the help, even though you all were crazy busy. I'd like to give a little shout out to Olivia, for graciously allowing me to run scenes by her. Finally a big thank you to Filo, for making this a fun experience.

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Lorelai dug through a box in Luke's old apartment. The only clue that she was above the diner at all was the safe in the corner peeking out from underneath a pile of clothing. The rest of the room was cluttered with open boxes and clothes scattered all over the floor. She tilted a box towards her and began to pull out items, tossing them behind her. Lorelai pushed the box away from her, giving it an exasperated kick for good measure. "Luke!" she shouted. "I need your help in here!" Blowing a stray hair away from her face, she stood up and looked around the room.

"What happened in here?" Luke asked as he stepped carefully into the bedroom area with Ellie in his arms. He gently patted Ellie's chubby hand on his tie, stopping her from tugging on it.

"I can't find my shoe. Where is the mate to this one?" Lorelai held up a black pump.

"No idea. How are you supposed to find anything in this mess? Just wear the pair you wore to work." Luke checked his watch. "Let's go."

"I can't wear my work shoes, Mom saw those on me earlier today. These are my dinner shoes. I have to find the other one." Lorelai tripped over a pile of clothes to get to a box on the other side of the room. She bent over to open the box. Suddenly the room went dark. "Hey!" she hollered out into the darkness.

"I'm not being late again!" Luke called back. "I'm leaving as soon as I get Ellie in her car seat, with or without you."

Lorelai shook her head and grumbled under her breath, blindly digging her way through the box in front of her. "Aha!" she said triumphantly, pulling out a shoe and feeling around it. "I knew you were here somewhere." Lorelai pulled both shoes on quickly, and clumsily maneuvered herself out the door.

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Lorelai deftly pulled Ellie from her car seat and grabbed the diaper bag with her free hand. "See? Thirty seconds to spare. Happy, Mr. Punctual?"

"Ecstatic," Luke mumbled, taking the bag from Lorelai's hand and extending his arm outwards to signal for her to walk.

She gave him a thankful smile, then started toward the Gilmore mansion. Tripping over a rock in her haste, she fought to stay upright.

"You okay?" Luke asked, one hand closing firmly around her left elbow as his other landed on their daughter's back.

"I'm fine, I just tripped," Lorelai replied, looking down as she started to walk again. "Oh no!" She stopped suddenly, grunting when Luke bumped into her.

"What is it now?"

"My shoes. They don't match." Lorelai thrust Ellie into Luke's arms. "I can't go in there like this."

Luke glanced down at her shoes as he adjusted Ellie on his hip. "They're the same."

Lorelai pulled both heels up and held them up to Luke's face. "They are not the same. This one is black, this one is navy."

"I couldn't tell until you pointed it out and held them up to my face. Avoid that when we get inside, and we should be fine." Luke walked past her and knocked on the door.

"Luke!" Lorelai hissed, yanking her shoes back on just as Emily swung the door open. "Evening, Mom," she said breathlessly.

Emily nodded. "You're late." She stepped back to allow them inside. "Did you run here?"

"Funny. No, I just tripped over something coming in." Lorelai flinched at her own words. "Where's Dad? Dad! Ellie's here!" Lorelai pushed Luke and the baby in front of her, trying to hide her shoes.

"Really, Lorelai, yelling isn't necessary. Your father is in the next room." Emily closed the door behind them. "What did you trip over?" she asked, her eyes falling to Lorelai's feet. "I'll have the gardener... you're wearing two different shoes."

Lorelai quickened her pace. "Of course I have on two different shoes. If I only wore one, I'd walk like I have a limp." She turned to give her mother a smile, sighing when she was met with Emily's hard stare. She dropped her shoulders in defeat. "I'm wearing two different colored shoes." Lorelai gave Luke a pained look. He replied with a sympathetic shrug and carried Ellie into the living room.

"Did I miss a new trend mentioned in Cosmo?" Emily shook her head.

"No, Mom, nothing like that. I thought I put on the black pair."

"Did you put them on in the dark?"

"Yes." Lorelai glared at Luke who was handing Ellie off to Richard.

"Does your new house not have electricity yet? Why would you move into a house without power? What about Ellie? How—"

Lorelai held up her hands to stop Emily from talking. "Mom, calm down. The house has power. We're still staying above the diner. We haven't been able to get everything moved and unpacked into the house yet." Lorelai pointed between herself and Luke. "Between work, the diner, and Ellie, we don't have a lot of free time to get everything done."

"Well, if you need help, I would be willing to lend a hand."

Lorelai cringed, covering it quickly with an oversize grin. "No, thanks, Mom. We've got it covered. The big stuff is already at the house, we just need to find time to move over the boxes and get everything unpacked. We can handle it. No need for you to call in an army of movers."

"Fine, if you have it covered." Emily crossed her arms over her chest and huffed past Lorelai.

"Close one," Lorelai said under her breath, following in step behind her mother.

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As she stood by the microwave waiting for her popcorn to finish popping, Rory listened to the sounds coming from the television in the living room. Looking out towards the couch, she smiled. Kevin sprawled out, his head pillowed on the armrest while his long legs stretched out to the opposite end. With remote control in hand, he continued surfing through the channels.

"You need anything to drink?"

"Nah, I'm good, thanks."

Reaching into the cupboard, Rory pulled a bowl out just as the buzzer went off. Carefully she began to open the bag when her head snapped up, the refrain from a familiar song stopping her mid pour.

"Leave it! Leave it! I love this movie," she exclaimed happily.

"This? You like this?" He snorted.

Rory walked out to the living room, setting her popcorn on the coffee table before plopping herself unceremoniously down on the pillow on the floor in front of the couch.

"Yes, this," she said looking over her shoulder as she leaned back against the couch. "What's not to love? I mean, Patrick Swayze as Johnny Castle. Just a poor schmuck trying to make a living doing something he loves instead of settling for a job he hates. Oh, and let's not forget Jennifer Grey, pre-nose job. So naïve, but ready to learn the ways of love."

Kevin rolled his eyes. "So your basic chick flick," he chuckled.

"No, it's a classic love story, my friend. Rich girl meets poor boy and they fall in love. Not to mention the terrific soundtrack and sexy dance moves, all rolled up in one delicious package."

Kevin's eyes went back to the screen. "I'll say, sexy moves. Watch your hands there, Johnny."

Rory and Kevin continued watching the scenes unfold on the screen, Johnny teaching Baby the lifts while practicing in the lake; their subsequent success at the Shell Drake; Baby curled up in Johnny's bed where a whole different set of moves were going on. All the while, Rory sang along quietly as Kevin ran his fingers gently through her hair.

"I love this part," Rory sighed.

Kevin couldn't help but chuckle. "You've been saying that through the whole movie."

Rory climbed on the couch and snuggled up against Kevin. "I know, but it's so romantic. No one puts Baby in a corner," she whispered. "The way they only have eyes for each other, not caring who's watching. Gets me every time."

"Does anyone put Rory in a corner?" Kevin asked teasingly.


"Do you like to dance like that?"

Rory shook her head and giggled at the thought. "Me? No way. I'm not exactly a 'Mambo' kind of girl. I'm more a 'Junior High, arms around the guy's neck while swaying back and forth' kind of girl."

"Perfect," Kevin murmured, playing with the collar of Rory's shirt.

"Why, do you have a secret desire to channel your inner Johnny?" she asked, bewildered.

"No, not quite," he laughed. "But I would like to ask you something," he continued. "Miss Gilmore, would you do me the honor of accompanying me to JB Middle School's February Fling Dance this Friday? Now, I can't promise any mambos or cha-chas, but if you're lucky, there may just be an Electric Slide or two."

"Well, with an offer like that, how could I refuse?" She smiled, kissing him softly. "Let's go have the time of our lives."

Kevin leaned back in to kiss her again, but pulled back, his forehead furrowing. "Hey, is it just me, or does Mrs. Houseman look like your grandma?"

"Nope, not just you," she giggled.

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Sookie tasted the sauce out of a bright green bowl and grimaced. "Carlos! This is supposed to be sweet and sour sauce, not bitter and nauseating!" She dropped the spoon on the counter and turned to her kitchen staff. "Tell me this wasn't put on any food and sent out." When the staff only looked at each other blankly, Sookie rolled her eyes and headed for the main doors. "Go get them before anyone takes a bite!"

Sookie pushed the doors open and watched as the staff quickly moved into the dining area. She started to return to the kitchen, but spun back around at the sound of her name. "What?" she said, annoyed. "Oh, Emily, hi." Sookie quickly calmed down. "What can I do for you? You haven't tried today's chicken, have you?"

Emily gave her a perplexed look. "I haven't had lunch yet. Is there a problem with the chicken?"

"No, no, of course not," Sookie said, signaling for her servers to take the uneaten plates of food in through another entrance behind Emily's back. "Is there something you needed from me?"

"Yes, there is. Lorelai mentioned at dinner last night that they still haven't fully moved into the new house."

Sookie nodded. "Yeah, she mentioned that the other day. Lorelai and Luke have been too busy to get anything done."

"Are you and Jackson free this weekend? I'm sure they only need a little help to get everything done in a day."

"That's probably true..." Sookie looked up at the ceiling in thought. "Sure, Jackson and I will be there."

"Perfect." Emily brought her hands together as she lowered her voice. "Why don't you bring up the idea to Lorelai and see what she thinks?"

"Sure, but wouldn't you rather mention it to her?"

Emily waved her off. "No, I think it will come off better from you."

Sookie shrugged. "If you say so." At the sound of a crash in the kitchen, Sookie jumped. "Would you excuse me for a moment?" When Emily nodded, Sookie slipped back through the kitchen doors. "If that was food, it had better have been that disgusting sauce!" she yelled.

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The bell above the door jingled and Lorelai breezed in with Ellie snuggled on her hip. Walking to the counter, she leaned towards Luke.

"Kiss," she said as she received a soft peck on her lips. "And kiss," she continued as she presented Ellie so she could received one as well. "Ready for the hand off, Burger Boy?"

"Sure, Caesar's here. I'll be able to give her a bottle and then put her to bed upstairs."

"We didn't pack the baby monitor, did we? Between the boxes we've already brought to the house and the ones still upstairs, I'm not sure where anything is. I feel like we've been running around for days," she sighed. "Let us not forget the shoe fiasco," she said, shaking her head.

"I know it's been tough with work and everything," he said, smiling at Ellie, "But we've set aside Saturday and I have Caesar and the rest of the guys covering the diner."

Lorelai slid on a stool and adjusted Ellie on her lap. "Plus, Sookie said she and Jackson would help." Movement at the door caught Lorelai's attention and she pivoted on her stool, watching as Sookie entered the diner. "Speak of the devil. Hey, Hon, want a quick bite before heading back to the inn? Burgers?"

"Sounds good."

Lorelai looked over at Luke who was finishing ringing up a customer. "Hey, you over there, Sexy Diner Man? How about setting us up with two burgers with the works?"

"What's in it for me?"

"Um, kisses of gratitude and the company of this cute, young thing?"

"Deal. Coming right up," he said before heading to the kitchen.

"This is nice," Sookie said. "I left instructions with Manny on what to do." Sookie looked away briefly and sighed. Turning back towards Lorelai she said, "Feels good to get away for a bit. I needed the break."

Lorelai looked over at her friend's pensive face. "Are you okay? You seem a bit off. Seriously, Sook, if you have too much on your plate right now, you really don't have to worry about this weekend. Luke and I can manage."

Holding out her arms in front of her, Sookie's face instantly lit up as Ellie happily went to her. "No, no, I'm the one that volunteered, remember? Besides, it will be fun, won't it, Cookie?" she chuckled, kissing the baby's chubby cheek.

"Well, if you're really sure it won't be a problem, we would really appreciate the help. I'll make sure to order plenty of pizza. If we're lucky, maybe the boys will give us a show and take their shirts off," she said with a naughty waggle of her eyebrows. "There's nothing better than a sweaty, hard working man," she said, eyeing Luke appreciatively as he set their plates in front of them.

"What this I hear about sweaty men?" Miss Patty purred as she approached the counter.

"Oh! Hey, Patty. It was nothing, really, just some wishful thinking. We're finally going to get to get around to unpacking at the new house. It's been a real obstacle course - lots of boxes around. Miss Ellie here thought it was fun playing hide-and-seek with Momma. "Didn't you, Ellie Bear?"

"Oh, aren't you a mischievous little girl? Giving your mommy a run for her money?" she said, tickling Ellie's soft cheek.

"More like a roll for her money. Thank goodness there isn't any walking yet."

"It must be hard work trying to concentrate on this little one and unpacking at the same time," Patty tsked.

"It's definitely been a bit of a challenge, but Sookie and Jackson are going to help us out, so I think between the four of us we'll get it done."

"All right then, ladies, I'll let you two get back to your lunch. Luke, darling, I'll have a turkey on wheat and an ice tea when you have a chance," she said as she headed for a table.

Luke scribbled Patty's order on his pad and handed it to Caesar before walking around the counter and reaching for Ellie. "I'm here to collect on the cute, young thing," he said, smiling at his daughter. "You two enjoy your lunch. I'm going to feed her and then put her down for a nap."

"Okay, Hon. I'll be here for a while longer." Lorelai leaned over and kissed Ellie. "You have a good time with Daddy. Be a good girl and take a nice nap."

Luke started to walk away, but Lorelai stopped him with a hand on his arm. "Forgetting something, Mister?" she asked, pointing to her lips.

"Silly me, what was I thinking?" he said as he rolled his eyes.

Lorelai winked at him. "Just don't let it happen again," she teased as she watched him head through the curtain.

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"That's nice," Sookie sighed.

Lorelai swiveled on her stool, bringing her attention back to Sookie. "What's nice, Hon?"

"The way you still look at Luke like a hot fudge sundae. It's nice. I don't remember the last time Jackson looked at me like that," she said wistfully.

"Sookie, what's going on?"

Sookie's eyes darted around the diner, hoping to avoid any unnecessary eavesdropping. She leaned in towards Lorelai, talking in a near whisper. "Jackson and I still aren't connecting. I can't remember the last time we had an adult conversation. He comes in late from the farm, sits on the couch, and next thing you know he's sound asleep."

"Ah, Hon, you know that's how it gets when you have kids. You barely have a minute to yourself, let alone each other."

Sookie shook her head. "I'm getting so frustrated. All I'm seeing are the things that annoy me, the dirty socks he just tosses on the floor, or the muddy boot prints that he tracks in the house." Wiping a tear from her eye, she took a deep breath. "I see the way Luke's eyes twinkle when he looks at you. Jackson and I barely make eye contact these days. I want to see a hot fudge sundae, not brussel sprouts," she whispered, looking down at her hands.

"I wish I knew what to tell you to make you feel better," Lorelai said, rubbing Sookie's arm.

Sookie looked up, clearly trying her best to put on a brave face. "Me too."

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Lane sat on the center of a king-sized bed, looking around the hotel suite. There was a large-screened television mounted to the wall, and fluffy red curtains floating down over the windows. At the sound of a cry and a giggle, she turned towards the bathroom door.

"Hon, that tub is huge! The boys could probably swim from one end to another... if they knew how to swim." Zach held each boy in one arm, their hooded towels barely covering their bodies.

Lane stood to help her husband. "This is a pretty big room. Way different from our last tour."

"That's because on our last tour we stayed at the homes of people that put us up." Zach picked up the boys duffel bag and tossed an outfit to Lane. "This time we all get to stay in the same building. Way cooler than the last tour. The living room in this suite is bigger than some of the spaces of floor I got to sleep on during last tour."

Lane was about to answer when there was a knock on the bedroom door. "Come in, Mama," she called, reaching for a romper.

"I was coming to see if you needed help with the boys." Mrs. Kim stood at the door and gave her grandsons a little smile.

"We're fine, Mama. You can go ahead and go to bed. They should be asleep soon."

"Make sure you and Zach get some rest too. Very long concert tonight. Two encores." She gave them a firm nod and then silently shut the door behind her.

"I wasn't sure I was going to make it through that last encore. I think I was running on adrenaline." Zach finished getting Steve dressed and placed him in his playpen. "I'll probably fall asleep as soon as I hit the pillow."

"Really? I'm pumped." Lane settled Kwan next to his brother and then sat down on the corner of the bed. "Remember on our old tour how we used to go out after the concerts to explore the town?"

"Oh yeah, it's how some of Gil's best stories about the tour start. 'It was after a concert and we were out on the town...'"

Lane slid back on the bed to rest against the headboard. "I miss being able to do that. Now when the others go hang out at a bar or something, we come home to baths and Dr. Seuss."

Zach pulled off his shirt and slid into bed next to his wife. "Wasn't that one of the things you got tired of last tour? Going out and not being able to do anything because we had no money to spend?"

"Well, yeah, there was that, but this time we do have a little spending money, and it's just sitting in our pockets."

Yawning, Zach curled up against Lane. "How about next stop we take the boys to a toy store and blow some of that money on some bubbles or something?"

Lane gave her husband a small smile and reached to turn off the light. "Sure, that's exactly what I meant."

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Ellie bounced happily in her exersaucer while Lorelai mugged shamelessly for her amusement, causing the baby to giggle. "You like that, little girl? You like it when Mommy makes silly faces?" Lorelai covered her eyes to begin another round of peek-a-boo when her cell phone rang on the table in front of her. Reaching for it, she looked down and checked the caller ID, a smile breaking out across her face.

"Well, hello there, my first born. Are you taking the newspaper world by storm?"

"It's going well. I've had some really good stories to cover. I wouldn't exactly say I was taking the world by storm, but it's been a pretty good downpour so far. How are you?" Rory asked.

"Oh, it's going fine. Your sister and I are playing a rather exciting game of peek-a-boo. You should see her, she's starting to cover her own eyes. It's the cutest thing." Lorelai smiled over at Ellie as she reached down to retrieve the stuffed rattle that had fallen on the floor. "Speaking of cute things, how's Kevin? The cohabitation going okay?"

Rory rolled her eyes at her mother's not-so-subtle segueway. "Cohabitation is going very well. Although we are still having the over versus under debate," Rory said.


"Mom!" she sputtered. "No, toilet paper."

"Aw, yes, another important topic. Be grateful it makes it to the holder."

"Having trouble with Luke again, are you?" she chuckled.

Lorelai snorted. "Are you kidding? Luke's more militant about it than I am. And don't get me started on the paper towels."

"Well, he does like order."

"That's for sure. I'll be so glad when all the unpacking is finished," she said, looking at the scattered boxes around her. "Between the inn and the diner and juggling Ellie, we've barely made a dent."

"What, the cozy love nest above the diner is a little too cozy?" Rory teased. "I'm sure it hasn't been easy being crammed in the apartment."

"No, not easy, but it's had its fun moments." Lorelai walked over to Ellie and lifted her out of the exersaucer. Looking down at her, she smiled. "It does make us appreciate things a bit more, I think. Besides, with Jackson and Sookie helping us this weekend, everything will get organized and we'll finally be able to relax."

"If you want, I could come home and help. I'm sure I could get Kevin to come too," she added. "We have something going on Friday night, but we could drive over Saturday afternoon."

Lorelai perked up at the tidbit of information. "Oh? Where are you going? You have a hot date?"

"Well... there's going to be food and music and I hear there's a dance floor," she hedged.

Lorelai bounced excitedly on the couch causing Ellie to giggle. "How romantic. He's taking you for dinner and dancing. Where's he taking you, the city?"

"JB Middle School," she mumbled.

"Excuse me."

Rory quickly clarified, anticipating her mother's reaction. "JB Middle School. We're chaperoning the eighth grade dance."

Lorelai snorted. "Oh my god, how precious is that? Did he pass you a note in homeroom? 'Rory, will you go with me to the dance, check yes or no,'" she teased. "Make sure when you're dancing you put your hands in his back pockets. The boys like that, you know," she giggled.

Rory couldn't help but laugh along. "No problem. I'll make sure to do that right after we take our picture under the balloon arch."

"Okay, kid, I'm going to let you go, but remember no sneaking off to make out under the bleachers."

"No promises," Rory said saucily and then disconnected.

Lorelai smiled down at Ellie. "Did you hear that, little girl? Rory has a date for the big dance. There better be pictures."

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"I'm going to strangle him," Sookie said without preamble once she heard Lorelai's 'hello' on the other end of the line.


"Yes, it's me. You don't recognize my voice after all these years?"

"Sorry, Hon. Your cheerful greeting threw me," Lorelai teased.

"I'm too mad for greetings."

"Who are you going to strangle?"

"Jackson," she hissed.

"Uh oh, what happened now?" she asked.

"He's insisting I didn't tell him to call Luke to coordinate about tomorrow."

"And did you?"

"Of course," she answered immediately. "I stood right by the couch yesterday and said, 'Jackson, remember to call Luke,' and he said, 'Okay.' And tonight, when I asked again to make sure he had, he acted like he didn't even have a clue! Not that he forgot, or that he had to get to it, but that I never told him. But he said 'okay'! And you know what he had the nerve to say next?"

"I can't imagine."

"He had the gall to ask if he was looking at me when he said 'okay.' Apparently, 'okay' doesn't count if he isn't looking directly at the person."

"Let me ask you, where was Jackson during all this?"

"What do you mean?"

"When you told him to call Luke, where was he?"

"On the couch. Why?"


"Ah, what?" Sookie asked, clearly confused.

"Was the television on?"

"Yeah, he was watching some dumb western. A fist full of something or other."

"Hon, there's the problem. You got the 'I'm only half listening, but I will pretend I am paying attention,' okay."

"Well, he's going to get the 'I'm annoyed as hell, and I am to going to smack you upside the head,' not okay."

Lorelai chuckled. "Where are you? You sound echo-y,"

"I'm in the bathroom. I stomped off." Sookie sighed audibly when a knock sounded against the door.

"Sookie, I really need to get in there," Jackson called.

"I'll be out in a minute!" Sookie shouted.

"Easy on the ears, Sook." Lorelai cringed.

"Oh. I'm sorry. I guess I should have covered the phone first. I'm just so irritated," she said apologetically.

"It's okay. Have you tried talking to him?"

Sookie sighed, her shoulders hunched. "Why bother, even when I think he's listening, he's not really listening. When did that happen?"

Jackson's voice came through the door once again. "Sookie, please!"

Ignoring Jackson's plea, she continued. "Is Luke there?"

"Yeah, why?"

"Maybe he can talk to Jackson."

"I don't know," Lorelai hedged. "You know Luke's not big on being in other people's business."

"Please, Lorelai. I'm at my wits' end here."

Lorelai breathed in deeply. "Hold on, let me ask."

After a few moments, the phone was passed off to an unenthusiastic third party.

"Hello, Sookie, it's Luke," he grumbled, shooting a glare at Lorelai. She sat next to him and listened to the conversation over speaker phone.

"Oh, Luke, thank you. You're a lifesaver," she said. Both Luke and Lorelai heard a door open and Sookie order, "Talk to Luke," to an equally unenthusiastic Jackson.

Lorelai patted Luke's thigh and said, "Enjoy your chat," shooting him a wink as she stood up and walked away.

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Gil dodged a ketchup packet coming towards his face as he slid a wrapped burger with the customary grease stains over to Brian. "Kwan's aim is getting better."

"He comes from a long line of skilled individuals," Mama Kim replied, lightly tugging a small packet of salt from Kwan's fingers. "Of course, most Kims used their abilities for good, not evil." She gave her grandson a small smile, and put his sippy cup in front of him.

"I think his aim's the same. It's your reflexes that are getting slower." Brian chuckled as he unwrapped his burger. "A year ago you would have been able to catch that ketchup. You definitely would have been able to jump that—"

"Dude, you said you wouldn't say anything!" Gil snatched up Brian's burger and took a huge bite out of it.

Brian shook his head. "So uncool, man."

"What happened last night?" asked Zach.

Brian opened his mouth to reply, and then hesitated when Gil stared him down.

"Come on, tell us. We'll find out eventually. Nothing stays a secret for long when we're on the road," Lane reminded them.

"It's not a big deal," Gil said, shifting in his seat. "We were just taking a walk around the city last night—"

"Looking for a place to eat," Brian continued. "A fan after the concert mentioned a place that would fry anything you brought to them, so Gil picked up—"

"This huge slice of pizza from that place across the hotel," Gil finished.

"You were going to fry a slice of pizza?" Lane shuddered.

"Bah! Bah bap sheep! Wooooooooool!" Steve banged his cup on the table and then knocked it over, the contents spilling all over himself.

"And that is what happens when you rock too hard, little man." Zach shook his head as he started to lift Steve from his highchair.

"I'll take care of it. You finish your meal." Mrs. Kim lifted Steve out of the seat, and hurried to the restroom.

"So, tell me about this fried pizza. Did you get pepperoni and mushroom? I love pepperoni and mushroom." Zach settled in his seat, putting an arm around Lane as his free hand reached for some fries.

"We never actually found out," Brian said, stifling a laugh. "Before we go there, Gil was trying to get through a crowd of teenage girls without losing the pizza and he..." Brian paused, his attempts at refraining from laughing failing. "He spun around some girl with this leopard purse and—"

"I bumped into something else and dropped the pizza. End of story." Gil finished off Brian's burger and started in on his fries.

"What did you bump into?" Lane asked, sliding half of her sandwich over to Brian.

"One of those things that holds newspapers." Brian burst out laughing.

"It was dark and the thing was black. That's a safety hazard!" Gil crumpled up a wrapper and threw it at Brian.

"Man, I can't believe I missed that!" Zach chuckled. "Classic."

"We wouldn't have missed it if we went out once in a while after a concert," Lane said under her breath. Her frown turned into a grin when Mama Kim stepped up next to her with Steve. "Hiya, rock star, you ready for an encore?"

"No more encores for him. He needs to finish his lunch." Mrs. Kim gently placed her hand on Lane's shoulder as she sat down.

Lane turned at the touch. "You okay, Mama?" When her mother simply nodded, Lane gave her a small smile and returned to her lunch.

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Rory stood in front of the mirror applying a final swipe of lip-gloss. She smiled at her reflection. "Oh yeah, Kevin's going to like this," she murmured, knowing he'd be pleased with her choice of the simple but flattering sheath dress that played off her blue eyes. Grabbing her open toed shoes from the foot of the bed, she hurried to the living room. Settling on the couch, she bent over to adjust the strap of her left shoe when she heard the key turn in the lock and the door open.

"Hey, you're running late. I thought we needed to be at the school at 7:00. Better hurry up and jump in the show... er," she said breathlessly, having finally looked over her shoulder. "Wow," she whispered, taking in his charcoal grey suit. "You look fantastic."

Kevin smiled as he walked around to the front of the couch. Keeping one hand tucked behind his back, he took Rory's hand and helped her up. "I'm thinking the only person who looks fantastic in this room is you."

She ran her hands appreciatively over the lapels of his suit jacket, and chuckled softly. "Look, how cute are we? Your tie matches my dress. When did you have time to come home and change, anyway?"

"School let out early today so they could get the gym set up. I took the opportunity to get ready before you got home. That way I could run out and get you this," he said as he pulled a clear plastic container from behind his back and offered it to her.

Rory looked down at Kevin's outstretched hand. "A corsage? You got me a corsage?" she sighed. "I think that may be the sweetest thing anyone has ever done. You are definitely a romantic, Mr. Jamison."

"It's not a dance without the customary flowers, I always say." Opening the plastic box, Kevin pulled out the wrist corsage of two red roses and slipped it onto Rory's slender arm. "Ready to show the young folks how it's done?"

"Absolutely. I want to show off my dreamy boyfriend," she said as her hand slipped into his and they headed for the door.

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫

The speakers blared in the background, the final riff of an electric guitar floating over the cheering crowd. "We're Hep Alien! Goodnight!" Zach said as the cheers and claps of the crowd carried the band off stage where Mrs. Kim was waiting with Steve and Kwan.

"That was awesome!" Lane said excitedly, scooping Steve up and swinging him in her arms, making him laugh. "Brian, you totally nailed that middle section. And Gil, the way you ended 'Marie,' the crowd went nuts!"

"Yeah, dude, you rocked it," Zach added. "Didn't Uncle Gil kill it, Kwan?" he asked, hunching down and removing the noise cancellation head phones from his son's head.

Kwan nodded his head enthusiastically. "Cool," he giggled.

Gil put out his hand smiling down at the little boy. "High five, little man."

Mrs. Kim looked at the group. "You all did very well. But always room for improvement. Brian, tighten your C string two turns," she said knowingly.

"Yes, ma'am."

"I'm so jazzed. Maybe we can stop and get some burgers before heading back to the hotel room," Lane said, setting Steve down.

"Yeah, Babe. Burgers sound awesome right about now."

Mrs. Kim looked over at the young couple. "No burgers," she said, walking over and reaching for Kwan.

Lane frowned at her mother, in no mood for a confrontation. "Mama, this is our last night here and if Zach and I want to take the boys for burgers, we're going to take the boys for burgers."

Mrs. Kim raised her eyebrows. "I meant no burgers for you. Boys and I will go get something to eat and then return to the room."

"Excuse me," Lane said, puzzled.

Mrs. Kim offered a small smile. "You and Zach go explore the town."

Lane's eyes lit up as she turned to Zach and smiled brightly. Turning back to Mrs. Kim she whispered, "Seriously?"

"Yes, go, take time for yourselves. The boys and I will be fine. No need to worry."

Lane threw her arms around her mother's neck. "Thanks, Mama." Bending down, she kissed both boys on the cheeks.

Zach looked down. "Okay, dudes, Mommy and I are going to take off for a little while, so be good for Grandma, 'kay?" he said, running his hand over each of their heads.

"'Kay," they both answered in unison.

"Ready, Babe?"

"Absolutely." She smiled gathering his hand in hers as they made a mad dash for the back door.

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫

Kevin and Rory walked towards the open gym doors, the booming of pop music wafting through the school hallway.

"You ready for a night filled with music and food?" Kevin's hand slipped into Rory's when her fingers brushed against the back of his hand.

"As ready as I'll ever be. Hopefully this will go over better than the last high school dance I went to."

"Yeah? You sprain your ankle while dancing or something?" Kevin gave her a lopsided grin.

"Let's just say it was an evening to remember, and not in a good way." Rory giggled when they stepped into the gym. "This will be a night to remember in a totally different way."

"In the 'you'll be talking about it as one of your best dates ever' way?"

"More like in the 'I stepped into a gym so full of sparkles I was blinded' way." Rory scanned the room. Silver foiled streamers and foil hearts hung from the ceiling, and everything else looked like it was covered with aluminum foil. A large disco ball slowly rotated from the center of the gym, its light reflecting off the decorations making the room look like there were lights everywhere.

"Did I fail to mention that the theme of tonight's dance is 'you light up my life'?"

Rory rubbed her eyes with the heel of her hands as she shook her head. "Yes, you did. Interesting translation."

"Mr. J! Look, Mr. J is here!"

Rory turned to her left to see a large group of girls making their way over to them.

"Hello, ladies, are you enjoying your evening?" Kevin gave the girls a half wave before sliding his hands in his pockets.

"It's much better now," replied a red head. "That's a nice suit. You look good in black." She sent him a flirtatious smile as she moved to stand between Rory and Kevin.

"Yeah, that would look really great with your red button up and those really dark jeans," a blond said, stepping in front of the red head.

"Mr. J looks nice in anything," a short brunette boldly stated.

Kevin's eyes went wide. He looked to Rory for help.

"What? I'd have to agree," she said, laughing when Kevin's cheeks turned red.

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫

Lane and Zach walked along the sidewalk, their joined hands swinging between them. "So, where do you want to go?" asked Zach, stopping to read a flyer he was handed. "This bar has one of those riding bull things. Wanna try that?"

Lane shook her head. "No way. My luck, I'd fly off and break my wrist or something."

"Good point." Zach tossed the flyer into a trash can and slipped his arm around Lane's shoulders.

"Let's just walk around and see what we run into." Lane wrapped an arm around Zach's waist and pulled him a little closer. She looked out in front of her and sighed. They passed a number of bars, and then crossed the street to a line of closed shops.

"Hey, look at that!" Zach pulled Lane towards a window. "The boys would rock those shirts."

Lane laughed when she saw the shirt Zach was pointing at. The lettering was designed to look like the band AC/DC, but instead of the group's name it said 'AB/CD'. Below the large four letters in smaller print it read, 'EFG... HIJK... LMNOP... QRS... TUV... WXY & Z'. "That's cute. Aww, look at that little toddler belt with the guitars all over it."

Zach moved closer to the window so he could get a better look. "We could get that for Steve and the one with drums for Kwan."

Lane nodded slowly and then turned to look out into the city. "This town reminds me a lot of Hartford."

"Yeah?" Zach mumbled, still distracted as he looked through the shop window.


"Hmm?" He turned to look at his wife. "Something wrong?"

"Not really... Don't you find it silly that the one night we go out without the boys we end up window shopping for them?"

"Is that so bad? I love finding stuff to make our boys look cooler."

"No, it's not bad at all." Lane ran her fingers through her hair. "Would you be okay if we went home? I miss the boys."

Zach beamed. "Nope. I miss them too. Let's go." He snagged Lane's hand and they walked quickly back towards the hotel.

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫

Rory watched as Kevin awkwardly spoke with his flirting female students. When he would look over to her, pleading for help with his eyes, she'd just shrug and smirk. A few of the girls on the outskirts of the group noticed Kevin looking at Rory and turned their attention to her.

"Are you here with Mr. J?" one of them asked.

"Yeah, I'm his date for tonight," Rory answered.

"Are you his girlfriend?"

Rory caught another glance from Kevin and gave him a loving smile. "Yes."

Another girl jumped into the conversation. "How long have you been dating?"

"Uh, pretty long. Nine or ten months, I think?"

"You don't celebrate your anniversary every month?" the first girl asked, shocked.

"No, we're not really the monthly anniversary celebrating types."

"Monthly anniversaries are so 1990, Glenda. If they've been together for months they're probably already living together," the second girl said.

Rory stepped back slightly, surprised by the statement. Not sure how to answer, she stalled. "Well..."

Glenda moved closer. "Do you think you'll marry him?"

"What?" Rory's eyes went wide. "Um..."

"Do you think you'll have kids right after, or do you want to wait to work on your career? My mom says to always have a career to fall back on in case your man ends up being a dud."

"I haven't really thought that far into the future." Rory looked over to Kevin, pleading for him to make eye contact.

"Well, you should. Mr. J's not going to wait around forever, you know." Glenda and her friend turned their attention back to their teacher.

Rory blew out a slow breath. She crossed her arms, letting the questions sink in.

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫

Lorelai and Sookie sat on the wooden step, watching as Davy pushed Martha on the tire swing. Turning her head, Lorelai smiled, noticing Ellie sleeping quietly in her portable crib that they had set up on the corner of the porch. "Ah, feels good to sit for a minute. Thanks for helping," Lorelai said, nudging Sookie's shoulder.

"No problem. I'll go tackle the box with linens next. Want some more lemonade?" she asked, gesturing to the plastic pitcher that was on the step beside her.

"Nah, I'm good, thanks."

Sookie refilled her glass and took a sip. "You still want the stuff in the cabinet in the hallway, right? The one closest to the bathroom?"

"Yep, that will be perfect. Put the towels on the second shelf and the bedding on the third. "Luke can put the heavier stuff on the top. I'll keep working on the bedroom." The sound of multiple car engines on her property caught Lorelai's attention. "What the heck? What's everyone doing here?" Getting up from the step, Lorelai and Sookie walked over to the growing crowd. "Guys, what's going on?"

Well, hello, dears," Patty purred. "We thought that you could use a hand."

"Yeah, Patty told us that you guys were talking in the diner the other day about unpacking, and we figured the more people you got toting stuff, the sooner you'd be able to get settled," Babbette added. "Plus, with the little ones under foot, some extra sets of eyes couldn't hurt."

"I really appreci... Mom! What are you doing here?" Lorelai stammered, her eyes landing on Emily who stood in the back of the group.

"Hello, Lorelai. Like everyone else, I'm here to help," Emily said primly.

"Thanks, guys. This is very sweet of all of you," Lorelai beamed, amazed at the turnout of people.

Emily cleared her throat. "All right, everyone, let's get to work. You over there, I see some boxes stacked up on the side of the house. Let's begin with those," she said authoritatively.

Lorelai looked on as Emily directed people. Turning towards Sookie, she said, "Wow, did you set this up?"

"You heard what Patty said. She heard us in the diner. Other than that, I didn't say anything. Besides, you know these guys. They'll do anything to get together. I wouldn't be surprised if they don't have food in their cars."

Lorelai chuckled," Yeah, you're probably right. But that still doesn't explain Emily," she muttered, walking towards the house.

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫

Kevin plopped on the couch next to Rory, picking up the remote. "Mind if I check out the scores to the game?"

"Sure, go ahead," Rory said distractedly.

Kevin flipped to a channel and was met with a commercial. "I hate commercials. Oh well, I'll check online later. What channel were you watching?"

"Um... I don't remember."

Kevin turned to look at Rory. "You okay?"

"Sure," Rory said, a little over-enthusiastically. "Why?"

"You seemed distracted during lunch, and now you can't remember what you were watching."

"I'm fine. I just have some stuff on my mind."

"Want to move it over to my mind? Lighten your load a bit?"

"Are you suggesting that my mind can't hold everything it has in it?" Rory punched him lightly on the arm.

"Of course not." Kevin pulled her close to him, running his fingers through her hair. "I just figured two heads could be better than one."

"Do you think we should be talking about marriage?"

Kevin's fingers froze. "What?" He lifted Rory up so she was looking at him. "Marriage? Uh..."

"I'm not saying I want us to get married, I just wondered what you thought about it." When she heard him gulp, she rested her head back on his shoulder. "It's okay, we can drop it."

"I don't want to drop it. I'm just thrown by where this is all coming from. Catch me up?"

"I'm just thinking about some of the stuff your students mentioned at the dance."

"My students? What did they say?"

"They asked if I was your girlfriend and then wanted to know when we were going to get married and if we wanted kids—"

"Whoa, that's what they were asking you? They were asking me about where I shopped and what product I use in my hair."

"Heh." Rory picked at some lint on Kevin's jeans. "What do you think about all that?"

"I think that kids today are too focused on looks. Does my hair look like I use something in it? It's just naturally cool."

Rory sat up and huffed. "Not what they said to you, what they said to me."

"Right. What do you think?"

"I asked you first."

Kevin laughed. "I think that marriage and kids is a bit soon, but I see a lot of school dances in our future, so I hope you like corsages." He looked down and took Rory's hand. "Is that an acceptable answer?" he asked quietly.

"A very acceptable answer." Rory leaned forward and placed a kiss on his cheek.

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫

"Hey, Jackson, can you give me a hand here?" Luke said as he held the side rail of the crib in place.

"Sure thing. I bet you're getting to be a real pro at this, considering it's been taken apart and put together so many times."

"You got that right. This makes number six. Hopefully the next time I touch this is when I have to take it apart because Ellie's outgrown it."

"Or maybe you'll need it for the next one."

"Maybe." Luke smiled.

"Must be nice," Jackson grumbled.

Luke stopped adjusting the bolt on the crib. "What was that?" he asked, looking up at Jackson.

"Uh, nothing. Don't mind me." Jackson took a deep breath, looking around the room nervously before blurting out, "I bet Lorelai doesn't wear a granny nightgown to bed."

Luke's eyes shot up in disbelief. "Excuse me?"

"Sookie's been wearing this nightgown to bed. I swear, I feel like I'm sleeping with my grandmother!" he said, abrubtly letting go of the rail.

"Hey!" Luke said, making a grab for the rail before it toppled over.

Jackson began pacing the room. "I mean, I want to be romantic, but between the stupid nightgown and this gunk she's putting on her face, she hasn't exactly been shouting come and get it, if you know what I mean."

Luke put up his hands to stop the conversation. "This really isn't the time or place for this, Jackson. It's making me really uncomfortable."

"You're uncomfortable? What about me? It's been a really long time. What is it that they say? Use it or lose it?" Jackson huffed, waving his arms around.

"Aw jeez!" Luke shouted. He dropped the wrench on the floor and turned to leave, but was cut short when he was suddenly pushed into the doorframe.

"Out of the way," Kirk bellowed. "Pregnant lady coming through. Easy does it, Precious. Gently, put it down, gently."

Luke stared in disbelief, watching Lulu put a stuffed bear down in the corner. "Seriously, Kirk? You shoved me out of the way because she was carrying a damn bear? Are you out of your mind?" Luke shouted. "Get out before I take that bear and beat you with it."

"But, I..." Kirk stammered.


Kirk grabbed Lulu's arm and quickly left the room muttering under his breath.

Luke sighed and turned towards Jackson, frowning as he noticed the grown man cowering in the corner. "Oh, relax. All that talk was making me really uncomfortable. Kirk just happened to get caught in the crossfire. I'll make sure I apologize to him."

"I'm sorry, Luke. I guess I did overshare."

"I know I'm going to regret asking, but what did Sookie say about all this when you told her how you felt?"

Jackson fidgeted with his hands, staring down at his shoes. "I haven't told her," he mumbled.

"That's it, come with me," Luke said, grabbing Jackson by the arm. "For the sake of my sanity, you and Sookie are going to talk."

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫

Lorelai sat on the porch steps, watching as Sookie paced back and forth.

"He doesn't even want to touch me anymore!"

Lorelai sighed. "Sook—"

"He actually looked at me last night and asked what mayonnaise was doing on my face! I've been wearing that cream for years and he just now noticed?"


"It's not like I've said anything about those pajamas he still wears. The ones with pictures of himself all over them? Sure, they were cute when I first saw them, but after all these years they are practically falling apart. There are so many holes in the pants it's almost like he's not wearing any at all. Some of the pictures are missing his face and that freaks me out. I had a nightmare—"

"SOOKIE!" Lorelai shouted, putting her arm out in front of her friend so she would stop pacing. "Sit." Sookie complied, and Lorelai took a calming breath. "Did you talk to him?"

"Yes, that's what I was telling you about."

"No, Hon, did you talk to him. Ranting to him about your face cream and his holey sleep pants is not talking to him. You have got to talk to him, for your sanity and my own."

"I don't even know where to start."

"Start with, 'Jackson, we need to talk.'" Lorelai stood up and held out her hand to help Sookie up. "And say it calmly." She turned her friend towards the front door and began to slowly guide her inside. They stopped suddenly when the front door flew open.

"There you are!" Luke said, dragging Jackson behind him. "You," he pointed to Lorelai, "come with me. You," he pulled Jackson to stand in front of Sookie, "talk to her." Luke turned without another word and stood by the door, waiting for Lorelai to walk through first.

"Not exactly how Dr. Phil would have done it," Lorelai chuckled, walking up to her husband.

"Get inside before they ask for mediators." Luke pushed her the rest of the way through the doorway and slammed the door shut.

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫

Lorelai stood on the porch, watching as Sookie and Jackson traveled to their car. She breathed in deeply, happy to see them smiling as they walked hand in hand. "See you tomorrow, Sook," she shouted.

"I may be late," Sookie giggled, shooting Jackson a wink.

Lorelai waved in acknowledgement. She smiled as they drove off, honking their goodbye. Lorelai was lost in thought when the door opened behind her.

"Penny for your thoughts," Luke whispered as he reached around her and pulled her back flush against him.

"Oh, I think they are worth more than that, don't you?" she said, rubbing his forearm.

"That was really something for everyone to show up like that, wasn't it?" Luke said.

"Somewhere else maybe. But with this town, I'm not surprised."

"I guess not."

"My mother was something, though, wasn't she? Did you see how she had everyone hopping? The Army's got nothing on her."

"Yep, she was a regular General Patton. But it was a nice thing she did."

Lorelai looked over her shoulder. "What do you mean?" she asked, puzzled.

"This was all Emily's idea."


"Apparently she asked Sookie not to mention it. I think she didn't want us to feel they were butting in."

Lorelai sighed. "I'm going to make more of an effort to cut Mom some slack. Try to give her the benefit of the doubt. Help me with that, won't you?"

"You bet."

"Ellie go down okay?"

"She went out like a light. I think she's really going to love it here," Luke said, kissing Lorelai's temple.

Lorelai turned around in Luke's arms. Looking into his eyes, she placed her hand on his cheek. "I think we're going to love it here," she said, kissing him softly. "Well, I think we are all done. Ready to go inside?"

Luke raised his eyebrows teasingly. "Nope, not quite done," he laughed as he swooped Lorelai up in his arms, juggled her slightly, and strutted to the door. "Gotta carry you over the threshold."

"Oh! I love it when you get all traditional on me," she giggled, wrapping her arms around his neck.

Luke smiled and nodded towards the door. "Can you get that?"

Lorelai reached back and swiped wildly at the door. "Yes, sir." she laughed as it swung shut behind them.





To be continued... 




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