Episode 10.10 "The Day the Music Died"
by Jewels12, Robinpoppins, & sosmitten


Authors' Note: It has been our pleasure to bring this season to a close. This episode is a collaboration of your head writers—both new and old. We finally had a chance to put our three fabulous heads together for the series finale, and we had a marvelous time! Many thanks to mag1 and Filo for stepping up and providing incredible guidance and encouragement! We hope you all enjoy this final installment!

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫

Emily's latest maid had just brought out the dinner plates and as everyone tucked into their salmon and fingerling potatoes, conversation slowed and the only sounds were those of flatware on china and Ellie's delighted yelps.

After a particularly adorable string of babbling, during which Emily had done some very uncharacteristic cooing, she turned to Rory and asked, "This job that you've told us about in Boston sounds like a wonderful opportunity. Are you really considering moving there?"

Rory avoided looking across the table where her mother's face was set into an exaggerated pout. "I'm not sure if I'm ready to move on to another paper, but I can't really pass up the opportunity to interview for the position. And Boston isn't really that far away." She looked pointedly at her mother.

"So you're driving up by yourself?"

"Kevin is going with me."

"Uh oh," Lorelai said quietly, shaking her head.

Emily arched an eyebrow. "Kevin? Is going with you to Boston? Just for moral support, then?"

"Well, uh..." Rory glanced at her mother who shrugged helplessly. "He has some interviews set up too."

"Uh oh," Lorelai said again, and this time Rory saw Luke swat her under the table.

"So the young man you're seeing is interviewing for jobs in Boston?" Emily asked before looking toward the far end of the table. "Richard, did you hear that? Rory's young man is interviewing in Boston as well."

Richard nodded and turned to Rory, his expression solemn. "That would seem to indicate a fairly serious relationship."

"Well, he just wants to know what the options are," Rory muttered, blushing.

"But if he's even considering moving to Boston with you, that would mean that he has long-term plans, would it not?" Emily insisted politely. "Have you talked about the future? If you moved to Boston, would you be living together?"

Rory didn't have a chance to consider how to answer before Lorelai piped up, "Well, that's a no-brainer, isn't it, since they're living together... now..." Lorelai's voice trailed off as Rory gaped at her mother.

Both Richard and Emily turned to Rory, surprise evident in their expressions. "Is that true, Rory?" Emily asked. "Are you living with the young man you've been seeing?"

Rory nodded mutely, dropping her head into her hands as Emily continued, almost to herself, "Well I had no idea you had become quite that serious." Rory hardly dared a look at her grandfather, but when she did, his expression was grave.

As an uncomfortable silence settled over the table, Rory glared at her mother who had the decency to look contrite.

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫

Lorelai walked through the automatic doors, instantly perking up as the aroma of coffee beans wafted from the small Starbucks to her left. She shot a look of longing to the coffee haven, and then looked down at the Target bag in her hand in disdain. Sighing, she turned in the opposite direction of Starbucks and made her way to Target's customer service desk. Coffee would have to wait.

She pushed past a family crowded around a gift registry machine and looked for the end of the rope that marked the start of the line. The line snaked around a couple times, and Lorelai bit her lip and pulled out her cell phone as she took her place in line.

"Lady," a gruff man barked, poking her in the shoulder. "The line starts back there."

Lorelai turned and gasped as she caught sight of the orderly line that stretched well beyond the doors she just walked through.

"Seriously?" she said to the man incredulously.

He shrugged and pointed behind his back with his thumb.

Sighing again, Lorelai trekked to the end of the line, obediently filing in behind a balding man clutching three packages of printer ink. "How's it going?" she asked when he turned to look at her.

His lips twitched in acknowledgement, and then he turned his back to her.

Lorelai squinted. "Wow, busy day, huh?"

The man shrugged.

She looked over his shoulder, spying the cartons of ink. "Ooo, printer ink. Hope you bought a receipt. I only have a doggie Snuggie." She rattled her bag for emphasis.

He turned, raised an eyebrow, and then looked down at her bag.

"Don't judge."

"I wasn't," the man clarified.

"So apparently doggie Snuggies are not 'one size fits all.' My dog had a Chris Farley thing going on. Fat dog in a little coat."

The man turned back around.

"Although, if we're in this line any longer, I might as well move him into a van down by the river."

Shifting his print cartridges under his arm, the man pulled out an iPod from his coat pocket and put in his earbuds.

Lorelai's mouth widened in offense, and she turned to the woman behind her. "Must not be a SNL fan."

"Guess not," the woman responded.

"It really only works when you do the voice anyway."

The line shuffled inside and Lorelai crossed the threshold of the door for the third time. She bit her lip and anxiously tapped her bag, then stood on the tips of her toes in an attempt to see the front of the line.

"I really just need you to see how long this line is," one red polo-clad Target employee said to another on Lorelai's left.

"Thank you!" Lorelai exclaimed victoriously to no one in particular.

"I don't see how this is a problem," a heavily accented voice stated haughtily.

"I understand that you're new, but we don't like to keep our valued customers waiting when returning products."

"If the valued customers would keep to policy, and weren't generally insufferable, the line would be moving faster," the other employee countered.

This was a voice Lorelai suddenly recognized. She turned, bracing herself for who she was about to see, but still unable to hold back a gasp when her suspicions were confirmed. It was Michel Gerard, in a red polo shirt, with a shiny, new Target employee name badge pinned to his chest.

"I thought with your hospitality background that you would be ideal for customer service, but perhaps I should speak to my supervisor about moving you someplace else," the man who appeared to be Michel's manager spat. "And it is never okay to call someone... whatever you called them, even if they don't understand French."

Michel opened his mouth in a retort but stopped short as he caught sight of Lorelai. They locked eyes, both too stunned to acknowledge each other's presence. His eyes widened, and he turned on his heel. "I am taking my lunch break."

He walked briskly away from the queue, his shoulders back and his chest slightly puffed out. Lorelai watched his retreat through the double doors marked "Employees Only," until she was tapped on the shoulder.

"The line moved, ma'am," the woman behind her prodded. Shaking her head, Lorelai stepped up and filled the gap in the line.

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫

Still disturbed by the image of Michel in his Target uniform, Lorelai walked into the house, kicking off her shoes and hanging up her coat with a frustrated sigh. She padded into the living room, prepared to unleash a rant on Luke when she noticed only his feet sticking out from the floor behind the couch.

Curious, she edged closer to the couch and peered over the back to find Luke and Ellie sprawled across the floor on their stomachs. Luke murmured encouragingly to Ellie, "Come on, baby girl. You can do it."

Lorelai glanced over to find Ellie grunting and red-faced. Ellie pushed up momentarily on her arms, prompting another round of praise from Luke. "There you go, up on your arms. Now just bring your knee forward." Instead, Ellie rolled sideways, gurgling happily as her eyes caught the ceiling fan. "Awww, El," he moaned, "you were so close."

"Ummm... Luke," Lorelai asked tentatively. "What are you doing?"

"Oh, Lorelai," he said, propping himself up on his elbows as he turned toward her. "When did Rory start crawling?"

"Huh?" she said, caught off-guard. "I'm not sure—eight, nine, ten months?" She looked at him helplessly. "I really don't know for sure."

He frowned. "You didn't keep track of it? Or have a baby book or anything?"

She let out a little chuckle. "Well, I jotted little notes in my day planner. You know, right next to my trig homework, 'Rory found her fingers today!'"

Luke gave her an exasperated look. "You really didn't keep track of any of this stuff?"

"I think that my mom had a baby book made. It has plenty of ribbons and bows and pictures, but I'm afraid it's a little thin on the daily developmental details. And I was a little busy trying to remain in high school without committing patricide." She gave him a knowing look. "A goal I was not successful with, as you know."

Luke sighed, giving her a defeated look.

"Why? What are you worried about?" Lorelai asked him.

Luke gestured toward Ellie who was still happily mesmerized by the motionless ceiling fan. "She's not crawling. She's supposed to be crawling by now."

"But kids do that at different ages." She shrugged. "Some kids never crawl. They just go straight to walking."

"But she's almost eleven months old. Shouldn't we be worried about her motor development?"

"I don't think there's anything to worry about."

"Well, a little more tummy time won't hurt," Luke said with a determined smile, lifting himself up and moving toward Ellie. "We'll get her there yet."

"I think she's had enough today," Lorelai said as she bent down and snatched up Ellie quickly, over Luke's protests. Leaning down, she nuzzled her daughter's nose. "Don't worry, Mommy will protect you from Daddy's overachiever complex."

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫

Lorelai threw open the door to the inn's kitchen, praying for some leftover Sunday brunch scones. "Sook, please, please tell me—"

She shushed herself immediately when she saw Sookie on the phone. "Thank you very much. Yes, you're right—so lucky you caught me. Oh! I'm so sorry. I've got a sauce boiling." Sookie gestured wildly in the direction of the empty stove before saying a final goodbye and hanging up. Spotting Lorelai, she gave an exasperated shake of her head and said, "People! Why do I have to talk to people?"

"Supplier or sales call?" Lorelai asked sympathetically.

"Neither," Sookie groaned. "Client."

Lorelai paused, narrowing her eyes and staring at Sookie. "Client?"

"Mother, from the bridal shower next weekend."

"And you talked to her?" Lorelai's eyes widened in panic. "Sookie, you know we have a very carefully crafted client interaction plan that involves you never talking to clients, except under highly supervised situations."

"I know! And I appreciate not talking to people. I like not talking to people!"

"And most importantly," Lorelai added, "when you don't talk to people, you don't go around offering to create exclusive signature dishes, or when they compliment your cake decorating skills, offer to personalize the desserts for 150 guests."

"They always get me when I'm weak," Sookie said glumly, collapsing onto the center table. "And I can't say no."

Lorelai sighed. "So what was it this time?"

"Oh, it's nothing, really," Sookie said, waving her hand while her head remained buried in her folded arm. "Just a sugared berry garnish for the mousse. I can do that in no time."

Lorelai crinkled her forehead in thought. "It's March. Are there any berries that are even in season now?" Sookie shook her head sheepishly and Lorelai let out a long sigh before cocking her head to the side and asking, "Why did you get the call anyway?"

Sookie shrugged. "Apparently she insisted, at least that's what Clara said."

"Ah." Lorelai nodded in understanding. "Clara is about as assertive as a slug. Michel would never have let the call get to you. Between him and my mother we had a pretty effective gauntlet set up to protect you."

"He is pretty good at saying no," Sookie admitted.

"And that accent makes it sound like he's being polite, even when he isn't." Lorelai let out a long sigh. "I've been having a hell of a time finding a replacement; clearly Clara isn't it. And in the meantime, all the paperwork is piling up..."

She and Sookie shared a knowing glance, and Lorelai said hesitantly, "You know, I saw Michel at Target yesterday."

"Target? Really? Michel shops at Target?" Sookie asked dubiously.

"Not shopping. Working," Lorelai clarified. "At the customer service desk."

"Wait!" Sookie said, grabbing Lorelai's arm to catch her attention. "You saw Michel working at Target yesterday and you're just now telling me? You know how I feel about being out of the loop."

Lorelai patted Sookie's shoulder affectionately. "I'm sorry. I just got distracted and forgot about it until he came up today."

Sookie shrugged. "That's okay." She got an evil glint in her eye. "Was he wearing the red polo shirt?"

Lorelai grinned widely as she nodded.

"Did you taunt him mercilessly?"

"I tried to talk to him, but he went on break before I had a chance to," Lorelai said with a pout. "Methinks he's not proud of his new position, or the red polo shirt."

"Serves him right," Sookie said sharply, "after the way that he stomped out of here like a two-year-old."

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫

Rory and Kevin had barely pulled onto the highway when Rory removed her planner. "Okay, so let's make sure we're clear on our schedule." Kevin chuckled and Rory looked at him. "What?"

"You made it all of eight minutes into the trip before taking out your schedule. It might be a record." She narrowed her eyes at his teasing, but softened when he reached out and gave her shoulder a gentle squeeze. "Go on, though. If it weren't for you, we wouldn't be able to go on this jaunt in the first place."

"Okay," she answered, only slightly mollified. "Tomorrow, I'm meeting with the managing editor of the Globe and then the head of the online division. Tuesday, I'm meeting with someone from the board." She turned to look at Kevin. "He's the guy that Mitchum knows, and he's traveling until then, so I guess it's good thing that we decided to stay a second day for you to visit that other school."

"You know," she started hesitantly. "I'm not sure about how I feel about Mitchum being involved in this."

"What do you mean?"

"Well," she answered. "I did some research. There was talk last year about the Globe being shut down or sold, and the writers and employees ended up taking some significant cuts, in addition to all the jobs that had been lost already. There are probably really qualified people they should hire back before considering me."

"That's ridiculous," Kevin reassured her. "That guy stalked you for days. You know that they're interested in you."

She nodded slowly. "I know, I just hope they're not just interested because Mitchum told them to be."

"Oh, you'll go in and wow them all on your own."

Rory blushed but countered, "Okay, I'll try—while all those schools you visit are tripping over themselves to offer you a job."

"That might be overstating it a bit."

She scoffed. "Hardly. If I'd known how desperate schools were for science teachers maybe I would have considered..." She paused for a moment. "Nope, still don't want to be a middle school science teacher." She grinned at him. "So what is your schedule?"

"I'm going to that prep school first thing in the morning." He wrinkled his nose. "I really don't want to work at a prep school, but they were the first one that called back so I didn't want to turn down the interview." Rory nodded and he continued. "In the afternoon I'm visiting that suburban school west of Boston—W something. Wayland, I think."

"And Tuesday is the alternative school in Boston." His eyes lit up and Rory could see which school he was most interested in already. "Then we do some sightseeing and head home Wednesday, right?"

"Sounds good. And tomorrow night—"

"Tomorrow night you're abandoning me to go out with your friends," he said with an exaggerated pout.

"I'm not abandoning you!" Rory protested. "There's going to be a girls' night and a boys' night."

"And remind me again who is going to be at the 'boys' night,'" he said in a tone that implied air quotes.

"Well, first is Lane's husband Zach. I think you've met him once or twice when he was working at Luke's."

"He's the guy who says 'Dude' a lot."

Rory chuckled. "Yeah, that's him. And I think the rest of the band will be there—Brian and Gil."

"Tell me more. Are they hard-core partiers? I don't really want to deal with drunk people I don't know."

"Brian, hardly. He's the kind of guy you imagine got beat up a lot in high school. And Gil, well," she took a breath, "Gil's kind of old."


"Well, he's got teenage kids. And he runs a sub shop."

"So, like old enough to be my dad?"


He grimaced. "This is sounding better and better. Who else?"

"Paris's husband Doyle."

"Okay," he said, nodding. "Now if I remember correctly, Paris was the one who tormented you all through high school, but became your friend when she needed you to win the student government election, and then she stalked you to Yale and made herself your roommate. She couldn't decide if she wanted to be pre-med or pre-law, so she did both. While she was editor of the Yale Daily News she went crazy and you took over for her. And now she's in a MD-PhD program. Do I have that about right?"

"I guess." Rory said, shrugging. "Paris has always been a little, uh, intense."

"I can't even begin to imagine what her husband might be like."

Rory smiled. "Aw, Doyle's sweet. He's crazy about her, and he helps talk her down off the cliff when she gets a little nuts."

"Sounds fun. Is there anyone else who's going to be joining us on this adventure?"

"No, I think that's about it?"

"Okay, so lead singer in a rock band, high school mega-nerd, a middle-aged sub shop manager, and the guy who keeps Paris Geller sane. It should be a hoot."

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫

"Okay, Ellie, do you want your keys?" Luke asked, holding the plastic ring out toward her.

Ellie shrieked and lunged at the toy, just as Luke pulled it away, holding it about three feet from her.

"Do you want it? Come get it, baby girl."

Lorelai shook her head at the scene. "Is this why you offered to watch her while I took a hot bath?" she asked him accusingly as she rewrapped her towel around her wet hair. "So that you could torture our poor defenseless daughter with no witnesses?"

"I'm not torturing her," he said, scoffing. "She just seems like she's so close. I just wanted to give her some encouragement."

Lorelai looked over at Ellie who had settled back onto her rear end and was sucking contentedly on her fingers, having clearly lost interest in the keys. "Yep, she looks like she's ready to shoot across the floor any second now," she said dryly, lifting her eyebrows for emphasis.

Luke tossed an annoyed glare at her before dropping the toy and grumbling, "She looked like she was," he insisted. "She was doing that thing on her hands and knees where she rocks forward and back." He looked at Lorelai and added, "I was not torturing her."

Lorelai softened as she lowered herself to the floor between her husband and daughter. "You just seem kind of obsessed about this crawling thing. I don't really get it. Are you that worried about it?"

"I hadn't really thought about the fact that she wasn't crawling yet, but then the doctor asked about it at the nine month check-up. When another month went by, I looked up some stuff to check."

"You did research?"

"I just googled it."

Lorelai laughed. "You will never be enough of a tech-head for those words to not sound funny coming from your mouth."

Luke glowered at her, but then gestured toward Ellie. "I did find some articles that worried me."

"What did they say?" she asked softly.

"Well," Luke started, "I didn't really understand everything, but it sounds like there's something about the crawling motion that stimulates both the left and right sides of the brain at the same time, so it benefits neurological development. And there's something about having to focus far away and then down at the hands that helps develop vision." He looked up to see her reaction.

"Makes sense, I guess, but there are lots of kids who never crawl and do great," she reasoned. "I'm sure she's fine."

"But those weren't the things that made me worry the most," he continued, almost as if he hadn't heard her reassurance. "It was the articles that made a connection between not crawling and ADHD that really concerned me. Something about inhibiting a particular reflex or something."

"ADHD, huh?" Lorelai asked, her concern growing. "Why don't you show me those articles?"

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫

"Thank you, Kirk, for that very animated interpretation of a leprechaun frolicking in a field of four leaf clovers. And my answer is still no. We will not be painting the gazebo green to celebrate St. Patrick's Day this year," Taylor stated firmly, gesturing for Kirk to return to his seat. "Now, then," he continued, "the next item on the agenda—"

"Taylor," a townsperson interrupted. "I'd like to make an announcement, if I may."

Taylor sighed, leaning his elbows on the podium. "What is it now?" he grumbled impatiently.

To everyone's surprise and delight, the town troubadour stood up at the back of the studio and addressed the crowd. "Hello, everyone," he said in greeting.

"Hiya, troubie!" Lorelai shouted in response from her seat a few rows ahead.

"First of all, I just want to say how much I've enjoyed my time here in Stars Hollow. Ten years ago, I was dubbed your official town troubadour. I've played on your street corners, on the stoops of your stores, and under your awnings, letting my music speak. And you all welcomed me with open arms..."

"Why the hell's he talkin' in the past tense?" Babette rasped.

"...Which is why I decided to come to the meeting tonight so I could tell you all in person that this is the last you'll see of me for a while."

Shocked gasps filled the room.

"But... why?" Kirk cried.

"I'm heading to Austin," he explained. "There's a great indie music scene there, and I think it's the perfect place for me to put down some roots and really work on my sound."

Babette frowned. "But what about us? What about Stars Hollow?"

"What about my routine?" Kirk added plaintively.

Taylor cleared his throat from the podium. "I seem to recall you trying this once before. Does Neil Young ring any bells?"

"That was a low blow, Taylor, even for you," Gypsy admonished.

"This is all me," the troubadour said. "I'm going it alone this time."

Taylor sniffed. "Mmhmm. Well, if those Bohemian friends of yours show up here again with their hippy-dippy music thinking that Stars Hollow is a 'happenin' place'—"

"This isn't forever, right?" Andrew cut in, ignoring Taylor's disapproving scowl.

"I can't promise you that, but I can promise I'll never forget any of you... except for Taylor. I'll probably forget him."

"Oooh!" Lorelai said excitedly, jumping to her feet. "Sing a few bars of 'Taylor Left Me Twistin'," she told him. "For old times' sake."

"People!" Taylor ordered. "We have an agenda to stick to here!"

"Screw the agenda, Taylor. This is more important!" Babette shot back. "How 'bout a bit of 'Heavenly'?" she asked the troubadour. "That one always gets me right in the gut." She lightly jabbed her stomach with a closed fist for emphasis.

Morey nodded enthusiastically.

"'Mona Lisa'!" Another voice called out as everyone began crowding around the man with the guitar.

"God, I love that one," Patty sighed from her seat on the stage, receiving a glare from Taylor.

"'Be True To Your School'!" Kirk requested on Lulu's behalf.

Taylor dropped his head in defeat. "Another meeting lost to insubordination. Meeting adjourned," he muttered, half-heartedly banging his gavel.

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫

"Have a seat, Ms. Gilmore, and I'll come get you when they're ready for you," the receptionist told Rory, ushering her into a sparsely decorated waiting room. "They're running a little behind today. I hope that's all right."

"No problem. Thank you," Rory replied, taking a seat on a stiff leather armchair. She had expected it to be soft and worn with age, but she bounced instead of sinking into the chair and her eyes widened in surprise.

"Can I get you anything? Coffee? Water?"

Rory bit her lip. "I better not. Thank you."

The receptionist smiled. "I'll be right over there if you need anything," she offered, gesturing to the desk they passed when they walked into the waiting area.

Rory smiled in response, but it immediately faded as the receptionist turned her back. She sucked in a deep breath, letting it out slowly so that her bangs ruffled. She sank back into the chair and straightened her skirt.

She turned and looked around the waiting room, and at the door that led to where her interview would be held. A look of panic crossed her face, and she pulled her purse close to her, rummaging around until she slid out a thick folder. She opened it and looked inside, counting and arranging her resumes—a ritual she had repeated several times that day. Confident that they were all accounted for, she returned her folder of resumes to her purse and pulled out her cell phone instead.

"Well?" Lorelai asked breathlessly upon answering the phone.

"Nothing. It hasn't started yet."

"And I ran to the phone, upturned the couch cushions, and touched something that may or may not have been a cheese puff gnawed on by Ellie for no news!"

"At least you got your exercise."

"Hey, I considered using my Wii Fit today."

"Please, you haven't touched the thing since it told you your fit age was 53."

"And I intend to give Claus his space until he's ready to apologize."

"Anyway," Rory redirected.

"Anyway, you're there."

"I'm here."

"What's it like?"

"Uh," Rory paused, peering around the room again. "Newsroomy."

"Always a good vibe for a newsroom."

Rory smiled. "It smells good. Like paper."

"I love that you still get giddy over paper smell."

"Mom?" she said after a pause.

"Yeah, sweets?"


"For what?"

"Nothing, just needed to talk to you."

"Okay, anytime."

"You never really told me what you feel about all of this."

"Kid, if this is what you want, I want it."

Rory sighed. "Okay, I just wanted to make sure." She pushed herself upright. "I should probably go."

"Knock 'em dead."

"I will."

Rory hung up the phone and sighed, visibly calmed. She pulled out her folder again and set it neatly in her lap, tapping her toes as she waited to be called in for her interview.

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫

Luke rounded the counter with coffee pot in hand and topped up every awaiting cup.

"Luke, honey," Patty asked as he skirted past her table. "When you get a chance, could I get a tuna on wheat?"

He nodded, moving a few steps away before stopping abruptly and whipping back around to face her. "Hey, Patty, when did you start crawling?"

Patty chuckled softly. "When did I stop crawling," she answered with a wicked grin.

Luke rolled his eyes.

"Did he say when he was leaving?" Andrew asked Babette from the next table over.

"I'm pretty sure it's this weekend, doll," Babette told him with a forlorn expression.

Patty sighed. "It's just dreadful. I never thought the day would come."

Luke stared pointedly at the townspeople who were blatantly ignoring him. "What about you, Babette?" Luke asked.

"What's that, sugah?" she replied distractedly.

"How old were you when you started crawling?"

"Oh, hell, that was decades ago. I can't even remember what I ate for breakfast."

Gypsy frowned. "He's been with us for an entire decade. Did any of you even know that? I would have guessed maybe five or six years. But ten?"

"I know," Patty said. "I remember the day he first strolled into town. I made a pass at him; he politely rebuffed me. Then he sang 'Smile' with that golden honey voice of his, and I repeated the cycle."

Luke groaned in frustration. "Does anyone here know when they started crawling?!"

The entire diner fell silent at Luke's outburst.

"I think there are more important matters here, Luke," Andrew said accusingly. "Don't you care that the town troubadour is leaving?"

"You people are all nuts," Luke barked, retreating to his sanctuary behind the counter.

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫

"So," Lorelai said to Sookie as they stared down one of the long, gleaming aisles of Target, taking in the space shoulder to shoulder. "I'm thinking divide and conquer. You take housewares and I'll take beauty."

"And no shopping."

"No shopping," Lorelai agreed after a beat. "Unless I find a clearance rack."

"We're looking for Michel," Sookie pointed out.

"And he might be near a clearance rack. He may even be stocking one."

"Can you imagine?" Sookie said with a shudder.

"If you've seen him in a polo, you can picture him stocking."

Sookie giggled. "I feel like we should have a cheer before we split up."

"Um," Lorelai pondered. "Jump on it!"

Sookie's fist pumped up in the air. "Go team!"

Lorelai went to the left of the store, and Sookie filed in to the first aisle on her right. Lorelai walked briskly past shelves of Cover Girl and Target brand make-up, and bottles of nail polish. She reached the end of the aisle, turned, and glanced down each of the aisles she passed, not seeing Michel. To her right, she spotted a rack of cotton balls and absently grabbed one. She started to walk away again, but turned on her heel and took another bag. Satisfied, she left the cotton balls and continued her trek.

She met Sookie in the middle again. Sookie's arms were loaded down.

"I'm sorry!" She chirped, waving one of the items. "Have you seen these? Toucan potato peelers! I got one for Wanda and Martha."

"And the pillows?" Lorelai pointed out, taking one brown houndstooth pillow from Sookie.

"Would look perfect on the couch in the den."

"Oh yeah, they would."

"And they were on sale!"

"Mine too!" Lorelai said, showing the cotton balls to Sookie. "Two for one special!"

"Oooh, I could use some cotton balls."

They walked as they gushed over their purchases, leaving behind beauty products and housewares and turning the corner into the grocery section. Lorelai happened to glance down one of the aisles and spotted Michel leaning against a cart piled high with Milanos cookies. One of the bags was open, and Michel munched on a cookie as he turned the pages of what appeared to be a celebrity gossip magazine. Lorelai grabbed Sookie's arm and silently pointed out Michel's position.

Michel looked up as he appeared to hear Lorelai's heels on the tile and quickly stashed the bag of cookies and the magazine under some unopened cookies. Realizing that it was Lorelai and Sookie, and not his supervisor, his expression wrinkled in disdain, and he pulled his magazine and Milanos out again.

"What are you doing here?" He scowled.

"Well, I see the happy, peppy people of Target have done wonders for your mood," Lorelai responded, pulling out a Milano for herself and Sookie.

"How are you doing?" Sookie asked, taking the cookie from Lorelai.

"I worked in the changing room all day," Michel said as he flipped the page of his magazine. "And then I caught up on Brangelina. Apparently, he's leaving her for Lady Gaga. So, wonderful, thank you for asking."

"Or going back to Jennifer, depending on who you listen to," Lorelai supplied. "Which makes my 'Team Aniston' shirt culturally relevant again."

"Did you just come here to eat my cookies, or to ask about today's specials."

Sookie looked at Lorelai. "Well..."

"We have a proposition for you."

Michel's eyes widened as he looked down at the magazine, but then his expression instantly turned to disinterest. "Oh."

"I'm going to be honest here and say that you have done a lot for us over the years and your presence is missed," Lorelai began.

"You do a lot around the inn," Sookie continued. "It's been really hard with us between our own responsibilities, and our families..."

"We're having trouble picking up the slack, Michel. And you do quite a bit, especially since I had Ellie."

"Basically, you've been with us since we started the inn, and it doesn't feel like our project without you there too," Sookie added, her eyes watery.

"So we'd like to make it official." Lorelai shifted the items in her hands and pulled out a manila envelope, handing it to Michel. "This is a proposal for you to buy into the inn." Michel's attention remained on his magazine, so Lorelai set the envelope down on top of the cookies.

"You would be a full partner, on equal footing with Sookie and I, if you so choose. We also ran the numbers and came up with a couple payment options for you to consider."

"Or you're welcome to return to your old job. This is completely up to you."

"I know you didn't leave under the best of circumstances," Lorelai continued. "Sookie and I would like to sit down and discuss that with you, if you're willing."

Michel turned the page. "Oh, the Kardashian sisters. They are a kick in the pants."

"Michel?" Sookie said, putting her hand on his shoulder. She looked at Lorelai, frowning.

"Thank you for stopping by, but as you can see, I am very busy."

"Oh," Sookie nearly whispered after a pause. "Okay, Michel."

"I hope you'll think about it," Lorelai stated. "I'll leave the offer here with you."

"Ta ta," Michel chimed, waving absently.

"Bye, Michel."

Lorelai put her arm around Sookie and led her out of the aisle. "Come on, let's go pay."

"I don't really want the pillows anymore," Sookie said, teary.

"Okay, sweetie."

After returning their items to their respective homes, Sookie and Lorelai remained silent until they reach the parking lot.

"I really thought he'd take it," Sookie said, opening the passenger side door of Lorelai's car.

"I thought he would at least consider it. He pretty much just blew us off."

"Is it possible he actually likes working at Target?"

"Anything is possible, I guess."

Lorelai started the car and put it into reverse, easily backing out of the parking spot. She pulled on to the main drag next to the Target entrance, but then slammed on her brakes when Michel darted in front of the car. Lorelai and Sookie jerked back into their seats, Lorelai clutching her chest in one hand. Michel rattled the door behind Lorelai, and Sookie managed to unlock it between Michel's frenzied tugs at the handle.

"Drive!" Michel demanded, leaping into the seat and nearly closing the door on his leg.

"Michel!" Lorelai said with a gasp. "I nearly plastered you."

"We need to get the hell out of here," Michel pleaded as he ripped his polo off.

Lorelai and Sookie both clapped a hand over their eyes. "Oh, come on!" Lorelai exclaimed.

"You didn't need to do that," Sookie agreed, turning away.

"Drive, Lorelai. We need to leave here. And I need a shirt."

A car behind Lorelai blared its horn, and she began driving once again. "And what magical force are you going to conjure one up with, Endora?"

Michel turned and began rummaging behind him. "I've seen your car before. It might as well be an Old Navy clearance bin. You must have a shirt here somewhere. Maybe something Hugo Boss."

"I have Ellie's yellow ducky bib. That's the best I can do."

"The lumberjack you are married to has nothing?"

"Nothing that doesn't come out of an LL Bean catalogue," Sookie added.

"Then we need to go to a mall. I'm chafing from the polo."

Sookie frowned. "What about your job, Michel? Shouldn't you give them notice?"

"I cannot go back there. It is a terrible, terrible place."

"We just gave you an out," Lorelai said, shocked. "You blew us off."

"You saved me from having to grovel. I cannot go back to that place. It smells like children, and the shelves are sticky, and I have to fold clothes and stock shelves. The only people more illiterate than the customers are the other employees, and they expect me to go on a company picnic with them. I loathe picnics."

"What does this mean? Are you taking the offer?" Sookie asked, clearly perplexed.

"Yes, of course. Whatever you want. Let's just leave here, please."

Lorelai glanced at Sookie who shrugged. With a shrug of her own, she pressed the gas and pealed out of the parking lot.

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫

Rory, Paris, and Lane hung up their jackets and slid into a booth at the trendy restaurant in downtown Boston.

"I'm so glad we could all meet up like this," Rory said, smiling at her two close friends.

Paris nodded as she perused the drink menu. "I just really needed to get away from Doyle. He's so clingy sometimes."

"Ah, wedded bliss," Rory chuckled.

"Maybe he's like Zach," Lane pointed out. "He tends to get a bit overwhelmed in big cities. I guess he's been living in Stars Hollow for too long."

"Kevin's like a kid in a candy store here," Rory said, smiling at the thought.

"God, we're pathetic," Paris muttered. "Two minutes here and we're already talking about our men."

Rory and Lane laughed.

"Speaking of," Rory began, "I wonder where they ended up going."

Lane grabbed Rory's arm excitedly and said, "Forget about them for a minute. Tell us about the interview!"

Rory smiled. "Oh yes, the interview. I think it went very well, actually, and they seemed impressed by my qualifications," she answered humbly.

"Don't give us that modest crap, Gilmore," Paris remarked. "I'm sure you wowed them with your brilliance and the job is as good as yours."

Their waitress came by to take their drink orders, keeping Rory from responding to Paris' comment, but the blush on her cheeks spoke volumes.

"So Paris, how is med school?" Lane asked.

Paris leaned forward, happy to have the spotlight. "I'm just finishing up the semester. My internship will start in the fall."

Lane nodded encouragingly. "What field are you in again?"

Paris eyed Rory carefully before she said, "I recently transferred into neonatology."

Rory's jaw dropped to the floor in disbelief. "But you hate babies!"

"They are complicated creatures, yes," Paris admitted. "Therefore, they need the best, most highly-skilled doctors, so I'm of course an ideal candidate."

"Of course," Rory concurred with a smile. "The sacrifices you make for humankind."

"You'll go down in history for this," Lane chimed in.

After the waitress returned with their drinks and wrote down their dinner orders, Paris reached into her purse for her cell phone.

"Doyle just sent me a text. He says that he's afraid of Gil's hair and its proximity to his Diet Coke." Paris looked to Lane for explanation.

"Gil is a total rocker," Lane said. "His hair is very long and... untamed."

Rory reached for her own cell, prompting Lane to, and they anxiously awaited a text of their own.

Lane's phone buzzed next. She giggled before revealing, "Zach says that Doyle's hand brushed against his when they reached for some nachos at the same time. Neither of them talked about it, and now it's weird."

Both Rory and Paris shook their heads.

About a minute later, Rory's cell phone finally lit up. She grinned, eager to see Kevin's synopsis of the evening so far. "Kevin says that Gil keeps offering him a job at his sandwich shop, and Brian keeps talking about his deviated septum. Brian also thinks that over 50% of the population has a deviated septum. He determined that Kevin doesn't have a deviated septum, and he's trying to find something else that they might have in common."

Lane snorted, returning her attention to her phone. "Aww," she cooed. "Zach misses the boys."

"Doyle keeps sending me hearts," Paris said, smiling impishly. "And SOS signals," she added quietly.

Rory beamed. "Kevin ordered lasagna because it made him think of me."

The three girls were so occupied that they were completely oblivious to the hot meals that were placed in front of them.

"Uh, guys?" Rory said after a few minutes, glancing at the table. "Food's here."

Lane sighed. "Man, when did we all become such a bunch of saps?"

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫

Lorelai opened the front door of her house, shifting grocery bags from Doose's from one hip to the other as she shut the door behind her. She hung up her car keys on a hook near the door, and set the bags down on a bench in the foyer. Above her, she heard rustling and pounding, and she looked up.


Leaving the groceries behind, she exited the foyer and climbed the stairs. She found Luke in the room that had been designated as Rory's. The yet unpacked boxes that once lined one wall of the room were now scattered in the middle of the floor, Luke sorting through the contents of one, while Ellie lay on a blanket on the floor, playing with her portable mobile.

"Hon, what are you doing?"

"Looking for Rory's baby book."

"For the memories?"

"You have to have a baby book in here somewhere, right?" Luke said as he picked up toys and books and carefully placed them in the box he found them in. "I found some of Rory's baby clothes, and a box of Rory's baby things, and a stuffed animal that looked like a globe—"

"I wasn't aware Hug-a-World was still with us," Lorelai said, her nose wrinkled in disgust as she picked up Hug-a-World with two fingers and held it away from her. "I should call an exterminator," she muttered under her breath.

"I was trying to figure out when Rory started crawling. Thought the baby book would be with Rory's things." Luke asked, still looking unsettled from his box excavation. He stood and leaned against the bed that had been set up for Rory's visits.

Lorelai's expression immediately switched to concern."You're still on this?"

"No one seems to know when they started crawling. Patty and Babette are too wrapped up in the freakin' troubadour to answer my question, and asking Kirk is like talking to a slightly-evolved lamppost. Taylor launched into a lecture about simpler times that did nothing to answer my question. Liz thinks our baby books went missing in between the deaths of our mother and father. TJ claims to remember the exact moment he started crawling. Anna thinks April was nine months, but she wasn't sure. I'm going crazy here. I just need a baseline to compare Ellie to."

"Hon," Lorelai said sympathetically, walking over to sit on the bed next to him. She sat down and rubbed his back.

"I'm being irrational."

"You're not. I'd love to be able to tell you, but it was twenty five years ago."

"It's fine, not a big deal."

"I think Mom has her baby book," Lorelai claimed, a spark of recognition in her eye. "Actually, I know she does. I never took it with me when I ran away, and then our relationship was always too strained for me to ask for it back. It has to be there."

"Let's go get it."

"Get what?"

"Rory's baby book. I mean, I'm curious, you'd like to have it. Let's just go get it."

"Okay," Lorelai said after a beat. "Let's get it."

♫   ♫   ♫  

"You're serious about this," Luke said incredulously, looking up at a balcony, his brow furrowed. "We're never going to make it."

"Please, sixteen-year-old me could do this in her sleep. Well, and totally trashed. We are older, wiser, and sober, my friend," Lorelai explained, attempting to find a foot hold in the bricks. She tried hoisting herself up, digging her fingers in the cracks and crevices of the wall, but it proved unsuccessful. She frowned at Luke. "I need a boost."

"I'm not giving you a boost. This is crazy."

"You want Rory's baby book, right?"

"No, I wanted the baby book when I thought it was in our house in one of our boxes. You wanted to leave Ellie with Sookie, drive all the way over to your parents' house when they weren't home, and snoop in their basement until we find it."

"And you came along. Even Steven," she pointed out, studying the wall. Lorelai turned, contemplating the tree behind Luke. "Maybe I could climb that tree over there."

Luke chuckled. "I bet you've never successfully climbed a tree in your life."

"Okay, that's just," Lorelai began indignantly, and then hesitated. "Partially true."

"I thought you had a key to your parents' place."

"Well, I also once had a key to the diner. Have you seen it?"

"You lost the key to the diner!"

"See, lost is such a harsh, harsh word. I prefer misplaced, or on vacation, or in a parallel dimension."

"Terrific," Luke muttered, arms crossed. "I bet Kirk has it now."

"Why would Kirk have your key?"

"Because it would be just my luck to find a naked Kirk in the storeroom attacking bread loaves one morning."

"Okay, in Kirk's defense, he hasn't had near as many night terrors since the sleep clinic gave him that head gear." Lorelai crossed her arms, nearly mimicking Luke's stance. "I don't remember that tree being so far away. That seems far, right?"

"They don't have a key under a mat or a potted plant like normal people."

Lorelai laughed. "Sorry, just trying to come up with a scenario where my parents are classified as normal."

"Do you have a plan B?"

"Um, plan B," Lorelai said pensively. "Plan B is jimmying the lock to the pool house with a credit card until we get in."

"Which gets us into the house how, exactly?"

"I never said it was a perfect plan."

Luke sighed and rolled his eyes. "I'm going to go find an open window or a mystical wardrobe or something."

"And I'll climb the tree," Lorelai called out to Luke's retreating form, toeing off her heels as she studied the tree again. "I could so make that jump." She planted a barefoot on the bark, jiggling it to make sure it held firm. Satisfied, she pulled her body up, gritting her teeth as she felt the bark stab the pads of her feet.

"Don't climb the tree," Luke yelled back as he disappeared around the corner.

The piece of bark supporting Lorelai's weight crumbled and she hugged the trunk to avoid falling backwards. Her brow furrowed in frustration. "Drat."

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫

Rory exited the subway station onto a large plaza and reached for her phone, intending to dial Kevin so that they could locate each other. Before she got the phone out of her purse, she heard, "Rory!" and looked up to see the man himself heading in her direction.

As he approached, she looked around skeptically at the office buildings surrounding the plaza. "Didn't you say this was some sort of marketplace? With all sorts of restaurants and shops? Are we at the right stop?"

He nodded as he pointed down a long set of wide stairs and across the street beyond. "Faneuil Hall. It's right over there. It sounds like we've got a choice between food stands and sit-down restaurants. The English teacher at the middle school said that if we want the true Boston experience we need to go to Durgin-Park and get Yankee Pot Roast and Indian Pudding for dessert."

"Hmmm," Rory said thoughtfully. "I do like pot roast."

"I'd heard a rumor about that," Kevin said, smiling. "While we're eating we can figure out what we want to do next. There's the Aquarium and the waterfront, the North End, the Science Museum—"

Rory lifted an eyebrow. "Wow, you've been doing your research."

"Most of the suggestions came from the teachers at the middle school. I was able to catch a bunch of them during one of their team meetings and they were really friendly."

"So you liked it, huh?"

"It was a great school. You hear about schools that use a team approach in middle school, but this one actually implements it the way it's intended, and they're making great progress with a really needy population." Rory could hear the enthusiasm in his voice. She grabbed his hand and started walking in the direction he'd indicated before.

"You'll have to tell me more about it over pot roast, and what was it, Indian Pudding? What is that anyway?"

"I have no idea. They said something about cornmeal and molasses, which sounds a little odd, but you eat it with ice cream so I figured that would be right up your alley." He looked at her, shrugging. "And if that sounds too out there, they apparently make a mean Boston Cream Pie."

"You're really eating up the culture here, aren't you?" Rory teased.

"It does really make the insurance capital of the world pale in comparison. It would be a fun place to live," he admitted as they reached the bottom of the steps and queued up with everyone waiting at the crosswalk. "So, now your turn. How was your interview? Did Mitchum's contact love you as much as I told you he would?"

"It was good," she said slowly. "It would be a really interesting job."

"It sounds like things are really lining up perfectly then," he said as the signal changed and they joined the crowd crossing toward Faneuil Hall.

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫

"Quietly," Lorelai whispered to Luke, leading him down the staircase to the basement of the Gilmore mansion.

"I could have sworn that the maid saw me," Luke spoke softly, still shaken up.

Lorelai shook her head. "You hid extremely well behind that plant in the hallway, babe. Those skills are really going to come in handy when Ellie's old enough to play hide and seek."

"You sure the book is down here?" Luke asked when they reached the ground floor. His eyes widened in amazement at all the furniture, boxes, statues, and trinkets that filled the room. "I hope you have some clue as to where."

She shrugged. "Not exactly. You take the left side, I'll take the right side."

Luke glanced nervously to the left. "Are those giant dogs?"

Lorelai nodded. "Gifts from Gran. I'm shocked that my mother hasn't gone Cruella de Vil on them yet."

"What are those giant chests?" Luke asked, inspecting them closer.

"Emily's European luggage," Lorelai primly responded.

"Jeez, look at all the giant silver goblets and tumblers on the table there," he said, gesturing to the center of the room. "I feel very small in here."

"Try living in this house for your entire childhood." She walked over to him and put a hand on his shoulder. "I actually think that's a pool table buried under there."

"Figures," Luke muttered. "The one source of entertainment in this house and we can't even use it."

Lorelai chuckled, squatting down on the floor to start digging through some of the boxes.

Luke joined her, cautiously eyeing the statue of Zeus that now stood taller than him. He quickly sifted through his box, slowing when he reached a golden figurine of some sort, and lifting it carefully. "Is this a..."

"Naked angel," Lorelai finished for him. "One of four, actually."

"What on earth are you two doing down here?" Emily shouted from the foot of the staircase.

"Gah!" Lorelai cried, pressing her hand to her heart. "Mom!"

Luke bobbled the angel that was in his hands and stood up, unsure of where to hold it without touching something inappropriate.

Emily stared pointedly at him, unable to hide her smirk.

"You gave me a freaking heart attack," Lorelai said, still breathing rapidly.

Emily eyed the disheveled boxes at their feet. "And how do you think I feel, Lorelai? I come down here looking for my mother's old tea set, and instead I find the two of you rifling through our belongings, sneaking around like criminals." She paused as she considered her statement. "Why exactly are you sneaking around?" she asked Lorelai specifically.

"Yeah," Luke said. "Why are we sneaking around?"

"Uh, well, we just... We didn't want to bother...." Lorelai trailed off. "Honestly? It didn't occur to me not to sneak. I'm a born sneaker. I'm Sneaky Susan."

Emily shook her head. "Get up off the floor. Tell me what you're looking for and maybe we can speed up this process a little bit, hmm?"

"Rory's baby book," Lorelai muttered sheepishly as she climbed to her feet.

"Oh, yes. I think that's in the armoire." Emily led Lorelai to the far corner of the room. Both women froze mid-stride and turned to Luke who hadn't moved a muscle.

"Luke," Emily said softly. "You can put the angel back in the box now."

"Huh? Oh, yeah, right." He cleared his throat and kneeled down on the floor, tucking the angel safely back inside the box and moving at least five feet away from it afterward.

Lorelai and Emily chuckled.

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫

As soon as darkness fell over the town square, an assembly of candle-holding townspeople slowly began to form. They came from every direction, gathering on the grass and the street surrounding what would be forever known as 'Troubie's Corner.'

Lorelai walked next to Sookie, Jackson, and their three little ones.

Davey held tightly to Lorelai's right hand. In her left hand she carried a flickering candle of her own.

"I'm feeling a real Don McLean vibe here," Lorelai said solemnly.

Sookie nodded. "The day the music died."

"I couldn't convince Luke to come," Lorelai informed them, "but he said he'd keep the diner open late."

"Sounds just like my big brother," Liz said knowingly, joining their party. TJ trailed her, pushing a stroller holding Doula and Dawson.

"Liz!" Lorelai beamed. "How was Arizona?"

"Way too hot," TJ complained from behind.

Lorelai frowned. "Those air pants stopped breathing for you, did they?"

Liz chuckled. "We had to leave the Faire early so we could come back home and prepare for the spring circuit in Maine."

Lorelai passed Davey off to Jackson who was currently on bathroom duty, and fell back in step with the ladies.

"No, I don't want any stupid flowers, Kirk," Gypsy's voice rang out from a few feet away. "I hate flowers."

"It's true," Andrew supplied. "I learned that the hard way," he added, indicating a scar above his right eyebrow.

"Ouch," Bootsy remarked, chuckling.

"Flowers! Get your flowers here!" Kirk shouted from his makeshift operation in the middle of the square.

"I'll take a bouquet, Kirk," Patty said, dabbing her eyes with a Kleenex.

Babette nodded. "Us too," she sniffled, giving Morey a light nudge. He obediently removed his wallet and paid the man.

"Kirk," Taylor boomed. "I don't remember authorizing this."

Lulu casually stepped away from her husband and weaved her way through the crowd.

"You must be getting pretty close, Lulu," Sookie commented as she approached them.

She smiled proudly. "Just under three months to go."

"You getting any strange cravings?" Lorelai asked.

"Spaghetti and Skittles," Lulu answered without missing a beat.

Lorelai's eyes widened. "Not together, right?"

"No," Lulu said, laughing. "Not me, anyway. Kirk actually loves the combination. He's sticking to the exact same diet as me. He thinks the baby can sense our cohesion as a couple."

"That is totally cool," Liz said, nodding enthusiastically. "We should talk."

Lorelai eyed Sookie nervously.

Revered Skinner made his way to the front of the crowd and stood on the small stage that was set up on Troubie's Corner. "Hello, everyone," he announced into the microphone, silencing the surrounding chatter. "Thank you all for coming out this evening. We are here to celebrate the life of a man who touched all of our hearts through his music. If I may paraphrase one of his songs: I only hope we could provide that which you truly gave to us. You never made us stand outside. You always offered sanctuary. Everybody needs a little sanctuary."

"I'm not dead!" a desperate shout echoed in the distance.

Everyone turned their heads to see the troubadour, running with his guitar case in his hand.

"I'm not dead!" he yelled for the second time, panting and out of breath as he approached the stage. "I'm not dead," he spoke into the microphone.

"We know," Reverend Skinner told him, patting him gently on the shoulder.

"Okay then," the troubadour said slowly. "Should I be doing something?"

"A song might be nice," Reverend Skinner suggested, receiving encouraging applause and cheers from the assembly.

The troubadour knelt down and removed his guitar from his case, sliding the strap over his shoulder. "You guys help me out with this one," he prompted the townspeople as he began strumming the familiar chords.

"Everybody needs a little sanctuary," they all sang together, waving their candles in the dark. "Everybody needs a little sanctuary... Everybody needs a little sanctuary..."

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫

"See?" Luke said, turning from where Ellie was playing on the floor and pointing at the text of the web page. "That thing about binocular vision. And there." He jabbed again at the laptop screen. "The symmetric tonic neck reflex thingy."

Lorelai shrugged reluctantly. "Yeah, I see what you're saying. That is a legitimate scientific reason." She spun around to face him. "But you saw what I showed you too, right? The ranges of developmental ages? She's still in the average range to start crawling." She grinned at him. "You haven't lost your chance to have the tomboy you always wanted."

Luke cocked his head to the side. "That's not what this is about. I'm not trying to push her to be any particular way. I just want to make sure we're doing everything we can to help her. And almost everything we read mentioned how important it is for babies to spend time on their tummies, even if they're not actually crawling yet."

"Just don't get militant about it," Lorelai pleaded. "I don't want her holding some subconscious grudge against us. The teen years are going to be hard enough without subliminal ammunition."

Luke chuckled. "Agreed, but there's no time like the present to start a little tummy time routine."

Lorelai just sighed as they both turned back toward the empty rug in front of the couch where Ellie had been moments before. After a brief moment of panic, Lorelai spotted her a few feet away, standing as she inched her way along the couch.

Luke turned to her, his eyes wide. "Did you know she could do that?"

"No, I mean, she's pulled up when I help her, and sometimes taken a few steps if I'm holding her hands, but I didn't know she could mo—"

She cut herself off as Ellie let go with one hand and turned toward their voices.

"Huh," Luke said softly. "Maybe we don't have anything to worry about."

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫

"You're quiet," Kevin remarked from the driver's seat, concerned. Music played softly in the background, and Kevin lightly tapped out the beat with his thumb on the steering wheel.

"Not quiet," Rory clarified, her head propped against the window. "Reflective."

"Okay, reflective then. You're reflective."

"That makes you nervous," Rory stated.

"I just can't normally get you to shut up, so yeah."

She sat up in her seat, turning to face him. "You could live in Boston?"

"Yeah, sure, what's not to love? Red Sox, baked beans, Paul Revere... Cheers."

"Your family isn't there. You're all close. I think you would get homesick."

"Your family is in Stars Hollow, and Boston isn't far. We could switch off visiting. What do you think the Brady Bunch did when they all went to college?"

"I don't know," Rory said with a smile. "I do know that Marcia married a guy she barely knew so that she could get married before Jan."

Kevin reached over and squeezed her knee. "See, you'd think I'd know better than to speak pop-culturese with you, but I never learn."

"I got a call about the job today while you were at your interview," she blurted out unceremoniously.

Kevin looked at her. "And you got it."

She nodded. "And I turned it down."


"I know I probably should have talked to you about it first, because it's your life too, and you liked that alternative school—"

His brow furrowed. "I thought that this is what you wanted. You love that job."

"I know, I know. I do love that job. Or did, I don't really know anymore. It just wasn't..." she trailed off, flushed. "I don't think it's what I want anymore. I like my job, and I love our life. I don't want to change that."

He let out a breath. "Okay."

"Just okay? I mean, this is a big step. I mean, it isn't just my decision here—"

Kevin put his hand on her knee to silence her, looked in the rearview mirror, and swiftly pulled over to the shoulder. They both jerked in their seats as the car came to a stop.

"What are you doing?" Rory asked hesitantly.

He took off his seatbelt, and leaned over, pulling her into a kiss before she could react. Then, he moved away, cupping her cheek in his hand.

"When I think about us, and our future, I really only see you and me," Kevin said, smiling. "The rest is just details."

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫

Kevin slowed the car to a stop in front of the Dragonfly. "So I'm gonna kick around Stars Hollow for a bit. I'll catch up with you and your mom later?"

"That's the plan, Stan," Rory told him, leaning in for a quick kiss. "Have fun, and don't walk too fast. You'll run out of things to do."

Kevin nodded. "Move slow. Got it."

"See you in a while," she said, sliding from the car. Kevin waved as he pulled out of the driveway.

Rory entered the foyer and smiled as she noticed Michel in his rightful place. "Hi, Michel," she called to him, walking toward the front desk.

"Rory," Michel answered in a shockingly jovial voice. "It's so nice to see you."

"It's so nice to see you too, Michel," Rory said, chuckling. "Happy to be back at work?"

"I'm just happy that I'm finally getting the recognition I deserve."

Rory raised her eyebrows curiously, and Michel pointed to the plaque on the wall above his desk. On it, the three owners of the Dragonfly were listed: 'Michel Gerard, Lorelai Gilmore, and Sookie Belleville'—in that order.

"Fancy," Rory said. "You must be very proud."

Michel nodded, smiling slightly. "It's a very nice plaque."

"Rory!" Lorelai called, rounding the corner and pulling her daughter into a hug. "How's my big city girl?"

"I'm good," Rory said. "Although not quite as good as someone else here," she pointed out, gesturing to Michel.

Lorelai smirked. "Oh yes, he's a happy boy with his shiny, new plaque. Yes, he is." Michel rolled his eyes. "Sookie put twenty blueberries in his pancakes this morning; he didn't even bat an eyelash."

"I knew there were twenty," Michel insisted with a scowl.

"I'm sure you did," Lorelai placated him.

He huffed, shooting her an annoyed glare as he headed for the kitchen in search of Sookie.

"Well, so much for Michel's good mood," Rory chuckled.

"It was too weird. I like him ornery and sour." Lorelai slipped her arm into the crook of Rory's and escorted her back to her office. "So, let's talk about this potential job of yours. Have you made any decisions yet?"

Rory smiled. "Yeah, I think I have...."

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫

"You're kidding."

"I wish I was," Lorelai said to her daughter, her tone completely serious.

Rory frowned. "Just never thought that would be your first choice."

They turned the corner and strolled past Kim's Antiques in an unhurried pace. Rory had her arms crossed, warding out the cold wind that threatened to get inside her open coat.

"You vetoed Grosse Pointe Blanke era Joe Strummer, which was a more predictable first choice."

"Predictable, yet unrealistic," Rory countered. "He's dead."

"Nothing about this game is realistic."

"Don't mock the game, this was your game."

"Okay, fine," Lorelai said, pushing her hair back to sit behind her shoulders. "Tony Bennett."

Rory cocked a brow "Tony Bennett is your choice for a replacement troubadour?"

"This game would go a lot faster if you would stop criticizing all my picks."

"He does have a certain appeal," Rory said, considering Lorelai's choice. "Patty and Babette would love him."

"He's also like 105. He could retire here."

"He's not 105!"

"Pretty close," Lorelai exclaimed.

"I don't think being a full-time troubadour would allow for a slower pace," Rory pointed out. "Plus, he doesn't have the air of mystique."

"Well, that's important."

Lorelai put her arm around Rory, squeezing her shoulder as they trudged through the remaining snow in the square. They passed by the gazebo, both unable to avoid looking at the blown up poster of the troubadour in the center, surrounded by flowers and candles. Next to the poster, the troubadour sat on the gazebo steps, strumming.

Rory's phone chirped in her pocket, and they stopped as Rory pulled it out and opened it.

"Kevin meeting us at Luke's?"

"He's at the library," Rory explained, holding the phone's display out to Lorelai.

"'Yes, I am a grocer, I told the woman, but I am also a man. And then I lead her into the bedroom,'" Lorelai shuddered as she read. "God, don't tell me he's reading what I think he's reading."

"Kevin asked for some must-see things in Stars Hollow, and I told him that the one and only copy of Taylor's self-published autobiography is in the library. I guess he got curious."

Lorelai put a hand to her forehead. "I had blocked that chapter."

"Was that from chapter four or eight?"

"It's better that you don't remember which chapter."

Rory shrugged. "I better go rescue him. And get him coffee therapy."

"With a little bleach," Lorelai added.

"Meet you at Luke's?"

"Wait," Lorelai responded, pulling Rory in to a tight hug.

"There's a fine line between hugging and suffocation," Rory managed to spit out from Lorelai's grasp, her voice strained.

"Just a little longer," Lorelai said as she closed her eyes and sighed. "Remember when I said I would be happy no matter what you decided."

"Yeah?" Rory questioned.

"I lied."

"Thought so."

"But now I'm very happy."

Rory sighed contentedly. "Me too." She pulled away slightly and pecked Lorelai on the cheek. Then, she let go and walked briskly in the direction of the library.

She watched her daughter cross the street safely, and open the door to the Stars Hollow Library. Lorelai slipped her hands into her pocket, hunched her shoulders against the wind, and then turned towards the diner.

The troubadour stopped his strumming and broke into song as Lorelai walked away from the gazebo. "There she goes. There she goes again."

Smiling, Lorelai turned and shot the troubadour a wave. The troubadour nodded his head in acknowledgement, and continued to sing. Then, she crossed the street and walked into the diner. Moments later, Rory and Kevin exited the library hand in hand, chatting animatedly as they walked. They too entered the diner, and joined Lorelai, and now Ellie, at a table by the window.




Message to the fans: Thank you all for your dedication and loyalty to this project! As you may have guessed, this is in fact the last you'll see of us. We have written 54 episodes of Virtual Gilmore Girls over the span of three years. You have all been with us every step of the way, and for that we are extremely grateful. Your motivation and encouragement inspired us to continue for as long as we have. It's very hard for us to say goodbye, but we do so with the knowledge that our work will live on. That is the greatest gift of all.

Thank you again, fans! We couldn't have done it without you!




Feedback greatly appreciated! Review at our LJ community.






"Virtual Gilmore Girls" website design and coding © Web Designs By Adina.