Episode 9.08 "Multiple Personalities"
by DiehardJavaJunkie and AdinaRJ


Authors' Note: We'd like to thank the academy... Oh, sorry. We want to thank the people who helped us in the idea stage (they know who they are); our amazing betas Jewels, Robinpoppins, and sosmitten; and, of course, you the readers!

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Rory sat at her desk, wiggling her fingers above the laptop keys as she thought about the best way to complete her sentence. Opening her abandoned game of online Tetris, she cringed when she recalled why she had closed it in the first place. As the last block hit the top of the screen, ending her game, she looked at the clock. Her deadline was nearing, and the article sitting in front of her wasn't cooperating.

She sighed, standing up from the chair and walking over to the window. As she pulled the blinds open, she saw a group of guys at the front of the apartment building unloading boxes from a pickup truck. She pulled her cell phone out of her pocket and pressed Lorelai's number on speed dial.

"I was about to go crazy out of sheer boredom if I didn't hear from you in the next hour," Lorelai said by way of greeting. "Michel is looking for his Céline Dion official fan club membership card and I didn't feel like helping him, so I'm staring at the wall watching paint dry."

"You painted?"

"No, I just wanted to exaggerate. That's how bored I am. I've resorted to exaggeration," Lorelai teased.

Rory smiled. "Oh, really? Well, let this one sink in. Apparently I have a new neighbor."

"Tell me more, tell me more, like does he have a car?" Lorelai sang in response.

Rory moved to the other side of the window to get a better look at what was going on outside. "Well they're unpacking what may or may not be his truck, does that count?"

"I don't know. What do you know about him?" Lorelai asked.

"Nothing." Rory shrugged. "Except that he and a couple of other guys are unloading his stuff in his new apartment."

"Uh huh," Lorelai said. "Very suspicious. He's secretive. Must be a CIA agent."

"A CIA agent?" Rory repeated.

"Sure," Lorelai answered. "Or maybe an FBI agent. Or a PI. What if he's got cameras installed in your apartment right now?"

Rory sat down in front of the computer again. "Wow, he sure is good, for having those cameras installed before he's even been in my apartment."

"Maybe he's a ninja. Maybe he did his ninja things to get into your apartment, and used his FBI training to install a teeny tiny camera in some book of yours. Now he's watching your every move," Lorelai mused.

"Or, maybe he's a reporter going undercover, posing as a new neighbor, but he's really on assignment to write about apartment conditions. And then along the way, he'll fall in love with an unsuspecting neighbor, who breaks up with him when she hears what he's been up to. But then they'll fall in love again and live happily ever after," Rory teased.

"Okay, think beyond the cliché movie plots, would you please? You're making this speculation session less than amusing," Lorelai insisted.

Rory shrugged. "Okay, what do you want to know?"

"What does he look like?"

"I don't know, I haven't seen him yet," Rory replied, starting a new Tetris game.

Lorelai snorted. "And you haven't decided to seek out this information? Go, go, shoo, I'll wait on the line while you make mindless conversation to pretend like you're not really looking at him."

Rory didn't feel like arguing, and she had to admit, after all the guessing games, she was curious, too. She paused her game and grabbed her keys from her purse. Taking the phone with her, she walked out onto the landing. Rory started down the stairs when she heard commotion coming from the second floor. "You have far too much experience with spying on people, should I be scared?"

"Be afraid. Be very afraid," Lorelai giggled. "Do you see him? What does he look like? Does he have a ninja mask on? Is he a professional ninja, or an askaninja.com ninja?"

Rory glanced at the open door across the way, trying not to make it obvious that she was hanging out by the door. She caught a quick glimpse of the new neighbor and made her way back to her apartment. "He looks like a normal guy."

"Normal? That's the best you can give me?"

"Yes, because that's how he looks," Rory replied.

"You'd be the perfect witness for a crime, babe. Oh, he looked so normal, I would never have imagined he would be a serial killer!" Lorelai mocked in a high-pitched voice.

Rory rolled her eyes. "I don't know what you want me to say, Mom."

"There are plenty of things you could say," Lorelai insisted.

"Oh, yeah?" Rory questioned, unlocking the door to her apartment and dropping the keys on the end table as she entered. "Like what?"

"Like—" Lorelai paused for a moment. "Is he more of an Ashton Kutcher or a Seann William Scott?"

"Of all the actors you could possibly come up with, you come up with the ones from Dude, Where's My Car?"

Lorelai sighed. "Hey, you're the one who couldn't come up with a sufficient description for me. You're the one who decided to point out exactly how normal he looked. And now you're leaving me to fill in the blanks. Leaving me to fill in the blanks means that you have to accept any and all descriptions of 'normal' I may come up with on my own."

"You do realize they're hardly normal, right?" Rory teased, switching the phone to her left hand and using her right hand to toggle the arrow keys after resuming her Tetris game.

"Uh huh," Lorelai confirmed. "So next time you want to use such a vague description, make sure you recognize that there are consequences for such choices. Now, if you want better guideposts for actors, you need to dish out a better description, missy."

Rory quickly pressed the 'escape' key, realizing she couldn't handle such a detailed conversation and a game of Tetris at the same time. "Okay, Mom, I'm gonna go now."

"How come?" Lorelai asked.

"Because your teasing me isn't motivating me to get any work done."

"That is the worst excuse I've ever heard," Lorelai declared. "Come up with a better one."

Rory snorted. "First you want me to come up with a better description for him, and now you want a better excuse for why I need to get off the telephone?"

"Yes," Lorelai confirmed.

"Okay, the sky is falling," Rory replied unenthusiastically.

"Nope, try again, sweets."

Rory leaned back in her chair, running her free hand through her hair as she thought of a new excuse. "Pigs are flying past my window?"

Lorelai made a buzzer sound. "Thanks for playing, we have lovely parting gifts for you."

"Publisher's Clearing House is here, they have a giant check and colorful balloons, and... hey, Ed McMahon!" Rory fibbed, trying to sound enthusiastic.

"I've actually used that one on your grandmother," Lorelai reminisced.

"Goodbye, Mom."

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Luke filled a pot with boiling water and put it on the stove. He opened the cabinet and gathered some ingredients for his dinner recipe. Opening the cabinets and finding everything but what he needed, he let out a sigh. Lorelai's organizational system was still in place, requiring Luke to go on a scavenger hunt for each ingredient. Luke began to empty the cabinets when the phone rang.


"Hey, Dad!"

Luke smiled when he heard April's voice on the other line. They had been playing phone tag for a while, and it had been a few days since they last talked. "Hey, April, how are you?"

"I am doing fantastic. It's been forever since we talked!"

"It has been forever," Luke agreed. "Did you get my call yesterday?"

April sighed. "Yeah, about two hours after you called. Sorry I missed it, I had my phone on silent," she explained. "I turn the volume off so I don't get it confiscated during school and I can never seem to remember to turn it back up."

"It's no big deal, don't worry about it. What's going on? How is everything?" he asked, trying not to bombard her with questions.

April laughed. "I know this is random, but I had to call you and tell you. I'm in the middle of a paper, and I needed a break. So I googled random things, and I googled Luke's Diner. It turns out there's a review of it on a random blog. It reads like vintage Rory. I wouldn't be surprised if Lorelai added parts, too."

Luke rolled his eyes. "I wouldn't put it past them. I'll ask them about it. Then I'll ask them to take it down."

"I e-mailed you the link. It's hilarious. Don't make them take it down. They have town testimonial videos. Kirk spends about fifteen minutes praising you, and talking about how you're his best friend or something."

"Jeez," he hissed. "That confirms the need to have it taken down."

"It's free advertising," April pointed out. "Can't argue with that."

"Yeah, but I'm not so sure I like how they're advertising. Kirk would only drive people away, not bring them in droves," he said, wiping his hands on a towel.

"Have you ever considered that tourists may find the people of the town charming?" April asked, emphasizing the last word in her sentence.

Luke groaned. "Charming isn't exactly how I'd describe the nutjobs that live in Stars Hollow."

"Speaking of Stars Hollow, how are things in lovely Connecticut? Is it getting cold yet? Do I have to break out the parka? Should I be prepared to walk uphill, both ways, in knee deep snow with no shoes?"

"It's getting colder," Luke replied, grabbing the pan he had put on the counter, "but you won't need your parka. It is still a little too warm for that. Taylor hasn't officially declared that the pond is ready for ice skating, so the town waits with bated breath to officially call it winter."

"Intrigue!" April replied enthusiastically. "Keep me updated on that."

"Absolutely," he agreed. "So what's new with you? How's school?"

"School's school. My classes are okay, but the rest of it is way too much drama. I'm looking forward to break. How's Lorelai?"

Luke propped the phone against his ear with his shoulder. "She's good."

"How is she feeling?" April pressed.

"Pretty good."

"Just pretty good? That's it? You've got to give me something to go off of."

Luke turned on the stove. "I really don't know what kind of information you're looking for."

"Everything," April laughed. "Come on, you've got to fill me in."

"Wait a second," Luke said. "What's wrong with this picture? When I asked you about school, you barely told me anything."

"Seriously, Dad, your stuff is way more exciting. I could bore you with all the details of my day to day life any time. Your life is far more exciting and intriguing than mine."

He snorted, grabbing a spoon to stir the contents of the pan. "I don't know about that. How's swim team going?"

"Same old, same old. They have me on medley relay until one of the other girls gets her cast off. She broke her ankle," April replied, sounding uninterested. "They may keep me on through the end of the season."

"What if she comes back?"

"They think we're undefeated this year because I replaced her or something," she explained. "I don't know where they got that from, but whatever. Is Rory still happy about the baby?"

Luke sighed, knowing that it wasn't going to be easy to get April to talk about herself. "Yeah, she's still happy."

"Come on, Dad, spill some information! I'm so curious. It's killing me. Please?"

He hesitated, wondering what information to volunteer, and how much, in order to satisfy April's curiosity. "What do you want to know?"

"Has she been craving anything crazy?"

Luke rolled his eyes. "Crazy to you and me was normal to Lorelai before all of this happened."

April giggled. "Sorry, dumb question. Allow me to rephrase that. Anything crazier than normal?"

He thought for a moment before he recalled Lorelai's breakfast the previous morning. He cringed at the recollection of the disgusting meal, taking a deep breath and trying to shake the image from his head before telling April. "Well, she did try peanut butter and jelly pancakes. She wasn't pleased."

"Wow, that's... interesting."

Luke smiled. "Anything new going on in your life?"

"Nothing. Absolutely nothing. So, back to Lorelai—"

Luke gave up, listening to her rapid-fire questioning once again.

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"I can't believe we both have the day off," Lorelai said, getting comfortable on Sookie's couch.

Sookie giggled. "I know, isn't it amazing? What should we do?" she asked, putting a platter of cheese and crackers on the coffee table beside the popcorn.

"I don't know. That's a good question."

"You'd think this would be easier," Lorelai sighed.

"Yes, you would," Sookie echoed, grabbing a carrot stick. "And Jackson was so nice to take the kids out so we can girl talk without being interrupted," Lorelai said. "So this day has to be kick-ass."

"I like the sound of that!" Lorelai agreed.

"So how do we make it a kick-ass day? I'm thinking we need to make some pizza. I have pizza dough and plenty of fixings."

"Oooh. Pizza. That sounds great. Can I experiment with stuffed crust?" Lorelai asked.

"I think a friend of mine tried that once. He showed me how to do it, so we can try it out. You think of what we can do after the pizza, and I'll go check if the dough is thawed."

"What can we do? I'm not sure," Lorelai said, pondering the possibilities as she took a handful of crackers. "All this time off, and we don't know what to do with ourselves. What sad and pathetic lives we lead."

Sookie laughed. "You said it, sister."

"Well," Lorelai started. "We could always... no." She grabbed a handful of popcorn, stuffing some into her mouth as she thought. "We could..." Lorelai said as she picked up a chip. She talked herself out of yet another idea. "How about... wait, that wouldn't work, either. Wow, this is more difficult than I thought. What can we do? I'm guessing going streaking will get us fined."

"I think we should start with a movie. A very girly movie. Then after that, we'll go shopping or something. We'll wing it," Sookie insisted.

Lorelai grinned. "I like the way you think."

"Well, if there's anywhere specific you want to go when we're winging it, you let me know," Sookie replied, reaching for the remote control and turning on the television.

"Sookie?" Lorelai started. "Uh, doesn't that kind of defeat the purpose of 'winging it'?"

Sookie frowned. "How would that defeat the purpose?"

Lorelai kicked off her shoes. "Well, we're making official plans. Winging something, by definition, means improvising, letting our hair down, going on a whim."

"Ooh! Like when I call in to order salmon, but all they have is tuna. I have to figure out how to use the tuna. That's winging it!" Sookie blurted out.

Lorelai tried to hide the confused look on her face. "Uh, yeah, sure, close enough. But you get my point."

Sookie nodded. "I do."

Sookie continued to flip through the channels as Lorelai reached for another slice of cheese to eat with her last cracker. Suddenly, Sookie let out a squeal and dropped the remote control. "This is it! This is what we can do today!"

Lorelai raised her eyebrows and instinctively put her hand to her ear, trying to recover from the sudden shrieking. "Jeez, Sook. What's with the Mary Murphy impression?"

"It's Jon and Kate Plus Eight, silly. I love this show," Sookie gushed.

Lorelai wasn't sure what Sookie was all worked up about. "Uh, Sookie?"

Sookie turned to face Lorelai. "Yeah?"

Lorelai leaned forward and grabbed a handful of Doritos. "It's been forever since I watched this show."

"Oh, okay! So that's Jon, and that's Kate. They have eight kids. Get it? Jon and Kate... plus eight!" Sookie giggled.

"I think I grasped that piece of information from the title of the show," Lorelai started, "but you're going to have to tell me more than that."

"They had twins and then they had sextuplets. Do you want me to name them for you first, or point them out as they come up on the screen?" Sookie asked. "To someone who has just started watching the show, it can be really confusing."

Lorelai's eyes widened. It was completely normal for Sookie to get so excited over a television show, but this was a little intense, even for her. Smiling, Lorelai tried to show an interest. "You can name them all?"

"Mady, Cara, Joel, Aaden, Collin, Hannah, Leah, and Alexis," Sookie said with a laugh. "Didn't you say you'd seen this before?"

"Once or twice. I never really got into it." Lorelai shrugged. "And may I say, that as much as I love you, that you are a little too into this show?"

"You will love it," Sookie insisted, grabbing the remote control and turning up the volume. "We'll be having Jon and Kate marathons by the time I'm finished with you."

Lorelai and Sookie watched the Gosselin family in the toy store, picking out Christmas gifts for each other. The more Lorelai watched, the more she realized that she was utterly confused as to who was who. She thought about asking Sookie to briefly explain, but stopped herself when she saw how engrossed Sookie was with the meltdown one of the kids was having. Lorelai leaned back against the couch and waited for a commercial to pose her question.

Before Lorelai could open her mouth, Sookie turned to face her. "You know who I love on this show? Beth. She's great. I could be just like Beth."

"Who's Beth?" Lorelai asked. "I know I didn't catch all those names you spat out, but I'm pretty sure one of them wasn't Beth."

"Beth's a friend of the family," Sookie said with a grin. "I could be Beth. Couldn't I?"

Lorelai shrugged. "Sookie, you can be anything you want to be," she teased.

"Come on, Lorelai, seriously. Don't you think I would make a good Beth?" Sookie asked.

"I really don't know much about who Beth is or what she does, but sure," Lorelai replied, "you can be Beth."

Sookie clapped her hands together excitedly. "I would be a great Beth. Beth's amazing. She can watch all eight of those kids like it's a cake walk."

Lorelai's phone rang, and after a few moments of rooting around in her purse for it, she flipped it open mid-pull and answered it. "Hello?"

"Lorelai, I have a few brief questions that I need you to answer for me," Emily said from the other line.

Leaning her head against the back of the couch, Lorelai squeezed her eyes shut, almost as though doing so would make the phone call go away. "Hello to you, too, Mom."

"Hello, Lorelai. Where are the stamps?" Emily asked, cutting to the chase.

"They're in the top right hand drawer behind the front desk. You know Michel knows where they are, right? Why don't you ask him?"

Emily sighed. "Michel and one of your waiters answered a question of mine at the same time. Michel is jinxed until he buys this horrible man a soda, and because there is not a soda machine on the premises, he is banned from talking."

Lorelai laughed. "Ooh, it's like Jim and Pam, only way less cute."

"Who and who?"

"Never mind, Mom. What else do you need?"

Lorelai could hear the ruffling of the papers in the background. "Well, let's see," Emily started. "Hold on just a moment, would you? The man is here to fix that pedicure dryer."

After a few minutes of silence, Lorelai could hear Emily arguing with someone on the other line. "Mom? Mom, what's going on? She can't hear me, why am I talking to air?" she sighed.

"Lorelai? The man is here to repair the pedicure dryer and he will not accept my signature. He will not even accept a verbal acknowledgment that you, are, in fact, allowing me to sign for it. I don't know who he thinks he is, that he simply cannot accept the signature of whomever is left in charge."

"Mom, does that mean you need me to come in?"

"Oh, would you? That would be simply wonderful," Emily replied, her voice dripping with sarcasm. "I'll see you in a few minutes."

Lorelai shut the phone. "So much for 'winging it'."

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"Lorelai," Emily greeted as soon as Lorelai walked through the door. "Good, you're here."

"Here I am, Mom." Lorelai sighed loudly and dropped her purse behind the counter. She grabbed a book of stamps from a drawer and handed them over. "Stamps are behind the front desk. I also have some in my office, but those are mostly a backup stash." She crossed her arms over her chest. "Do you have that repair form for me? I just want to sign it and get out of here."

"The form isn't ready yet," Emily said. "The man isn't finished."

"You brought me here specifically for that, and it's not ready?" Lorelai was incredulous.

"Honestly, Lorelai, you're here already, you don't need to be so short with me. He said he was nearly done when I called you. I promise I won't keep you longer than I have to," Emily said, overly patient.

"I'm sorry, Mom," Lorelai responded, trying to keep from rolling her eyes. "What else can I do for you?"

"Well, I'm glad you asked," Emily said, a smile spreading across her face. "I was reading Parenthood magazine, and I saw an article that advised how to prepare your dog for the new baby. I have a copy; I'll leave it on your desk later. It was very informative."

Lorelai looked blankly at her mother. "What?"

"I've been reading articles lately that I thought you might find useful," Emily stated. "There are so many things to consider. For instance, there was an article on prenatal yoga. Maybe the spa could expand and do something like that. Yoga is very in now."

"Yoga," Lorelai repeated, still trying to wrap her head around the conversation she suddenly found herself having. "Mom, is this why you called me here? To tell me about the baby articles you read?"

"No, of course not," Emily said, slightly offended. "I needed to know where things like stamps are, and I also want to get your opinion on where to put these new spa brochures. I was thinking at the front desk, but Tasha thinks they should be in each guest room, and I don't want to overwhelm the guests with spa information everywhere."

"We'll have a stack on the front desk," Lorelai said, walking around behind the front desk. "We can put it next to the Stars Hollow tourism brochures and the dining room hours and menu. We should also stick one in each room in the folders so that if a guest wants to call up and schedule an appointment from their room, they can do so."

"Wonderful." Emily smiled. "Now, about these articles I was reading. I left a few magazines on your desk for you to look at when you have time."

"Mom, really? I was supposed to have the day off. Did it say anything in those articles about stress levels? Or rest? I barely took my coat off!"

"You weren't wearing a coat today," Emily said dismissively. "And don't think I didn't notice. It's getting chilly out there," she scolded Lorelai. "You need to start dressing more appropriately for the weather."

"I promise to bundle up," Lorelai said. "Now, was there anything else you were looking for?"

"Yes," Emily said strongly. "I read a fascinating study on things you can do to minimize back pain. I know you've had problems in the past, so I printed it out. It's in your office."

Lorelai folded her arms on top of the desk and let her head drop on top of it. "Go on," she said wearily.

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Later that afternoon, Rory paused on the second-floor landing below her apartment. She rooted through her purse, taking a few steps toward the next set of stairs. "Wallet, keys, phone..." she muttered to herself, not looking where she was going. As she took another step, she bumped right into something solid. "Oh!' She looked up, startled.

"Hi." The solid wall she'd run into was the new neighbor she'd watched move in the other day. He was older, probably in his early 30s, tall and broad, with a dark complexion, green eyes, a dusting of freckles across his nose, and sandy-colored hair. And he was smiling at her.

"Hi," she returned, feeling stupid. "Sorry for almost running you over."

The guy shrugged. "It's okay, no harm done. You looked like you were concentrating really hard."

"Oh," Rory said, stuffing her hands in her pockets nervously. "I was just... I forget stuff sometimes. And then I have to come back to get it, so I was trying to make sure I had everything." She held back a sigh at herself.

"I do the same thing." He smiled and his eyes crinkled. "I'm forever running back inside to get things I need."

"So, do you live, um, here?" Rory asked the first thing that came to mind. She was determined to try to make a decent first impression on the first neighbor she'd met.

"Yeah, I just moved in," he said, indicating the door behind him. "I'm Kevin." He offered her his hand.

Rory shook his hand. "Rory," she said after a short pause. "I'm there," she pointed upstairs. "Third floor."

"So, we're neighbors." Kevin grinned at her. "Nice to meet you."

"Same here. I just moved in a few months ago myself," Rory offered. "I'm still getting the hang of the area."

"It's a great area," Kevin commented. "It's a big reason why I chose this neighborhood."

"The apartments are nice, too," Rory said. "I didn't look at that many other houses, but the ones I did see were really nice."

Kevin chuckled appreciatively. "I checked out a few others but this one worked the best. Besides, it fit the price range I could afford on my own. My buddy Max and I had shared a really tiny place since college, but it was getting a little too cramped for comfort."

Rory nodded, feeling a little more at ease. "I know the feeling. Sort of, anyway. I only shared a bedroom for one year. But it was long enough. And if you met Paris, you'd understand that even sharing the apartment can be too cramped sometimes."

"I've had roommates like that, too." Kevin glanced down the street. "Anyway, I don't want to keep you. It was nice to meet you, Neighbor Rory. Maybe we'll run into each other again sometime. Just, ah, not literally, please."

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The phone conversation with April still had Luke feeling a little left of center as he got ready for bed that night. He shut off the bathroom light and made his way into the bedroom, thinking that Lorelai would have some insight on the issue. As he slipped under the covers, he peered over at the cover of the magazine she was reading. He sighed and rolled his eyes, turning over on his side.

"What?" she giggled.

"Please don't tell me you're taking more of those dumb quizzes," he muttered, still facing away from her.

"What? I just want to see if I look best in a halter or a strapless dress," she said with a wave of her hand.

He turned over onto his other side to face Lorelai. "You really listen to what a stupid quiz tells you?"

Lorelai nodded, keeping her eyes fixed on the magazine. "It's vital information. I've already determined through my horoscope that Scorpio is my love match for this month. See? I listened to that before I even read it."

"That doesn't count," he grumbled.

"Well, then, to answer your question, no, I guess I don't listen to it. But it's funny to see what they want you to think about yourself when you know how off base they are. And this issue has twice the number of quizzes, so I'm not even halfway done yet. There are plenty more lies to come."

"Oh, jeez," he said, pulling the covers up closer to his shoulders. Luke tried to get comfortable, but the April dilemma was still on his mind, preventing him from being able to relax. Turning over onto his back, he repositioned his pillows in an attempt to get settled. Groaning, he gave up trying to find a comfortable position and sat up quickly, looking to get it off his chest so he could finally get some sleep. "April called today."

"The master of smooth topic transitions strikes again. Hon, you really need to work on those segues," Lorelai teased, shutting the magazine and putting it aside. She fluffed the pillows she was leaning against and turned to face him. "Okay, now I can listen and comprehend. April called. How is she?"

"She's good, I guess," he replied unenthusiastically.

"She's good, you guess?"

"I couldn't really tell you," he huffed. "I don't even know, and I talked to her."

"What's she been up to?"

He crossed his arms. "If I knew, you would know, too. I asked her, but she wasn't willing to volunteer the information. I don't know why, but she talked about everything but her own life."

"Luke, you sound upset about this, what's wrong?"

"I'm not really upset—" Luke started.

Lorelai held up her hand, stopping Luke in the middle of his sentence. "You wouldn't have said it like that if it wasn't bothering you. Spill."

He scratched his head. "I don't know. I guess she has a lot of stuff going on in her life that I don't know about. Or didn't know about until today. But then again, there could be a lot of other things I don't know about."

"Okay, hang on a second. Pause and rewind. What do you mean, there was a lot of stuff you don't know about? You know more than most dads do, I can tell you that."

Luke shrugged. "I don't know. There was a lot of stuff going on in swim team that I didn't know until today. And that's just the start of it. I have no idea what's going on with her at school, either."

"Well, it's impossible to know everything that's going on," Lorelai said, brushing a stray hair off of Luke's face. "I think April's the only one that knows absolutely everything that's going on in her life. If only you had a crystal ball, right?"

He sighed. "The problem is, she wants to talk about the pregnancy."

"So, she's excited, what's the problem with that? How's that a problem? I see nothing but... not problems," she babbled, brushing some of Paul Anka's fur off the comforter.

"It's great," he started, "but she doesn't want to change the subject at all. She wants to talk about the baby, and you, and Rory, and me, and how it all fits in. I'll ask her how she's doing, and I get no answer."

"I'm sure it's a lot for both of you to figure out what you do and don't know about each other's lives," Lorelai offered. "There's a lot of day to day stuff you have to catch up on in every conversation, so it's not like you missed something critical. She would have told you that. And she'll get over the chatting about the pregnancy eventually; it's still new and exciting to her."

"It's already difficult enough that I can't seem to get in touch with her. Now I have to figure out how to balance getting information about her life with giving information about ours."

Lorelai patted his leg. "Hon, this kind of stuff happens. Don't be so hard on yourself; it will all sort itself out. She lives way out there, and you live here, it's natural for this to happen sometimes. When she comes to visit, it will be like she never left. It always is. You'll find your places and you'll get caught up in no time. Really, Luke, don't worry about it."

"I just want to be able to know what my own kid is up to. It shouldn't matter if she's that far away."

Lorelai moved closer to Luke. "Look, I know you're upset about this. But it will all work out. Why don't you humor her for a while?"

"Humor her?"

"Yeah. Talk to her about it, answer questions, do whatever you need to do. Eventually she'll move past it and call to vent to you about how someone stole her sweater when she left it in her swim locker," Lorelai said with a shrug.

"Someone stole her sweater?" he asked, raising his eyebrows.

She shook her head. "So not the point here, babe. Put your blinders on, I'll dangle the carrot stick. Lay off the interrogating and let her lead the conversation. She'll eventually want to talk about something else."

"I guess," he consented.

She leaned in and gave him a kiss. "Get some sleep. You'll feel better with sleep."

"Yeah," he replied, stifling a yawn.

"I'll keep my thinking cap on, see if I can come up with a way you guys can stay connected. In the meantime, you should go to sleep. You have the bread guy to meet up with early, right?" she asked, shutting off the light.

Luke sighed. "Yeah, he's meeting me at five."

"Well, then, off to dream land you go, mister," she teased. "Good night."



"Yeah?" he asked.

"Really, it's going to be okay," she said.

"If you say so," he replied, sinking down underneath the covers and closing his eyes, only partly convinced.

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫

Later in the week, Lorelai arrived at the inn and after she dropped off her purse in her office, she headed to the kitchen to grab a cup of coffee before attacking the day's paperwork.

As she reached for the coffeepot, she noticed an open catalog of high-end baby essentials. Lorelai grabbed the catalog, examining the $400 car seat that was circled. "Subtle, Mom," she muttered. She poured her coffee and flipped to the front of the catalog, noting the page numbers listed on the cover as she headed for her office.

"Lorelai," Michel called as she passed the front desk.

Lorelai stopped and bit back a sigh. "Yeah, Michel?"

"This was left for you." He held up a catalog by the corner. "It was on top of my Post-Its."

Lorelai snatched the catalog from Michel. "Unbelievable!"

"Yes, it is unbelievable," Michel frenched. "It was left on my desk, over my Post-Its, and it's for you."

"What can I say, Michel?" Lorelai looked up. "I didn't put it there!"

"Why do you allow people to leave messages for you on my desk?"

Lorelai refrained from rolling her eyes. "Sorry, Michel. I'll post a memo."

She continued around the stairs to her office, snatching another catalog that was taped to her nameplate. A light blue Post-It was stuck to the front, advising Lorelai to look at pages 4, 15, 27, and 35. She flipped it open to the first suggestion and saw a large circle around a frilly white crib with ruffles down to the floor. On 35, there was an arrow pointing to a set of personalized satin blankets. Lorelai dropped all the catalogs on her desk and a note fell out of one of them informing her of a sale in the Lord & Taylor baby department this weekend.

Her shoulders slumped. "Oh, she's good," she muttered. "She's very good." Grabbing the catalogs up from her desk, she headed for the spa to see if Emily was there.

"Hey, Lorelai," Tasha said as Lorelai passed the check-in desk for the spa. "How are you?"

"Peachy," Lorelai responded distractedly. "Hey, can I see the schedule for a second?"

Tasha handed the book over the desk to Lorelai. "By the way, where are you registered?"

"Hmm?" Lorelai looked up. "Registered?"

"For baby gifts," Tasha clarified. "Emily mentioned it, but I forgot to write it down."

Lorelai put down the registration book slowly and looked up. "Oh, no," she said. "Oh, no! No, no, no, no!"

"Are... you okay?" Tasha asked slowly.

"Do you know where she is?" Lorelai demanded.

"Where who is?"

Lorelai took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "Emily. Is she here?"

"I'm not sure," Tasha said, looking confused. "Try the spa office."

♫   ♫   ♫  

Lorelai stormed into the open office door behind the spa's front desk. "No," she said emphatically, standing in the doorway.

"Lorelai, honestly!" Emily looked up from the desk. "That's how you announce yourself when you enter a room?"

"You registered me for gifts?" Lorelai said incredulously. "You registered me. Without asking, without discussing...?"

"You were busy," Emily defended herself. "I thought I was doing you a favor. I didn't think you still had the things you used when Rory was a baby."

Lorelai rolled her eyes. "Of course I don't have those, Mom. I just thought it would have been nice if I'd been consulted about a registry that's for me!"

"I merely picked out a few essentials that you'd need," Emily explained patiently.

"Yes," Lorelai responded, "and putting aside the whole 'you didn't even tell me' thing for now, the things you picked out, at least from the catalogs, are..." She hesitated slightly. "They're a little ostentatious."

"I beg your pardon?" Emily sat up straighter in her chair.

"Look at this!" Lorelai demanded, dropping all but one of the catalogs on the desk. "This bassinet? I can't even see where the baby will go under all those ruffles. And this one here," she said, pointing to an antique cradle. "This one looks like it's a reject from the set of Pride & Prejudice!"

"I picked out classic styles. They're timeless. I suppose you want something modern," Emily mocked. "Something... what's the word? Funky?"

"Oh my god," Lorelai said loudly. "I never want to hear you say the word 'funky' again. Ever."

Emily huffed. "I just thought it might be nice to get something that doesn't go out of style. You wouldn't want to get something that you'd get sick of before the baby even comes!"

"Not go out of style?" Lorelai repeated incredulously. "These were never in style to begin with!"

"So now I have no style, is that it?" Emily asked, her voice getting higher. "I have no taste. Well, fine, then, Lorelai. Do everything on your own, just as you always do. Anyway, if all you're going to do is stand there and insult me, I have work to do elsewhere." Emily stormed out the door.

"Mom—" Lorelai tried, but Emily had already run out. "Whatever," she muttered.

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫

As Rory locked the front door of her building, she heard footsteps on the porch behind her. "Hey stranger," a familiar voice said. She whipped around and came face to face with Kevin.

"Oh, hey," she said, slipping her keys into her jacket pocket. "Fancy meeting you here."

"I know!" Kevin said teasingly. "I don't think I've ever seen you here before."

Rory giggled slightly to relieve the awkwardness. She couldn't stop thinking about the fact that she'd nearly run him over before she'd even known his name. "What a coincidence, running into you, here, outside the building where we both live."

"Never happened before." Kevin grinned. "And it probably won't happen again."

"Nope," Rory agreed. "I will probably never see you in this location ever again."

"So, we seem to be keeping the same hours," Kevin commented.

"Yes," Rory said gravely. "Who would have thought we'd both be outside at 3:30 in the afternoon?"

"Weirdly enough, I'm more of a morning person," Kevin told her. "Now that summer's over, though, my only free time is in the afternoons."

"Oh, are you in school?" Rory tucked her hair behind her ears.

"I teach middle school science," Kevin told her. "Seventh and eighth grade."

"Oh, wow, you're a teacher," Rory commented. "That's really cool."

"It's frustrating sometimes, but I can't imagine doing anything else," he explained. "Anyway, Neighbor Rory, why are you heading out at this time of day?"

"The coffeehouse is more crowded at this time but I think that's a big part of why I like it," Rory said. "It's not as interesting first thing in the morning when no one's around."

"You're a people-watcher, huh?" Kevin said, tilting his head to the side. "I see the appeal."

"Only sometimes." Rory played with the strap of her bag. "Other times, I take out a book or my laptop and I just get so into whatever I'm doing, that the rest of the world may not even be there for all I notice them."

"I hate when people feel the need to comment on what you're doing," Kevin said. "Like, if I'm listening to music, they want to know what I'm listening to. What I'm watching, what I'm reading... why are people so nosy?"

"I thought it was just a book thing," Rory commented. "I thought people get so surprised to see someone actually reading that they feel the need to ask about it."

"Definitely more than just reading," Kevin said emphatically. "People are rude."

"Oh, yeah," Rory agreed. "Like when you're having a conversation and they just butt in and offer their opinions."

"Or when you're on the phone and they give you dirty looks even though you're outside, away from people, and not talking too loudly," Kevin said.

"Or rude drivers," Rory contributed.

"When they speed out in front of you only to crawl once they get there?" Kevin suggested.

"Or when you're walking and it's cold and rainy out and they're in a nice warm car but they don't let you cross at the crosswalk," Rory added.

Kevin nodded. "You know who else is bad? The ones who constantly yell at customer service people. I worked retail briefly, and I never want to again."

"You just try to make them happy, and they won't be pacified," Rory commiserated.

"'This job would be great if it weren't for the... customers,'" Kevin quoted.

Rory chuckled. "Clerks!"

"The censored version, anyway," Kevin amended.

"Hey, I'm sorry, was I keeping you from something?" she said suddenly.

"No, don't worry about it. You're not one of the rude ones." Kevin smiled. "Anyway, I think it'd be tempting fate or something if we didn't talk now."

"True, true. Wouldn't want to upset the delicate balance of the universe."

"Exactly. You get it." Kevin extended his hands in a gesture of agreement.

"Well, then I'm sure I'll be seeing you around," Rory told him as she headed down the street away from the house.

"I would bet on it," Kevin called to her from the first landing.

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫

The inn hadn't had any new arrivals for an hour and forty-five minutes, and Lorelai was starting to get bored. After linking the paper clips together in a long chain, taking them apart again, and sharpening every unsharpened pencil she could find, she decided to find something to eat. Lorelai wandered into the kitchen to see Sookie pulling a fresh batch of chocolate chip cookies out of the oven.

"Oh, Sookie, you're an angel. This is exactly the distraction I needed," Lorelai said, eyeing the cookies as Sookie took them off the non-stick pan and transferred them to a plate. "I was hungry and bored, and I needed something to distract me. And here you are, with freshly baked cookies. What more could I ask for?"

"Well they're distractions that are just out of the oven, so I'd wait a few minutes before you allow them to distract you. Why, is it slow out there?"

Lorelai rolled her eyes. "It's a ghost town. I'm about ready to break out the deck of cards and play solitaire. No, wait, maybe jacks. Tiddlywinks?"

"Wow, it's that bad, huh?" Sookie asked, putting a new batch of cookies in the oven. "Did someone cancel a reservation or something?"

"Not since last week," Lorelai answered.

"Last week?"

"Yeah. Do you remember that crazy woman with the pinkish hair who was supposed to have her fortieth birthday here?" Lorelai said, reaching for a cookie.

"Is that the lady who wore the 'I love pugs' shirt? She had the pug with her and she carried it around? She treated it like it was her kid? She and Michel got in that really long conversation about their dogs, showing each other pictures and trading stories?"

Lorelai couldn't help but laugh out loud at the memory. "Okay, yes, that's her. She was a crazy woman. Did you see that the dog had a stroller?"

Sookie's eyes widened. "I must have missed that," she said, shaking her head. "Wow. Just, wow."

"She called last week and canceled because her dog had puppies. She can't leave six puppies unattended, especially when their mother can't even be left alone for ten seconds," Lorelai said.

Sookie nodded. "She canceled last week, it all makes sense now."

"So, I guess since there's nothing out there I can do, I can hang out back here with you. It can be like our own secret clubhouse, minus the hand signals to gain entry," Lorelai giggled.

Sookie smiled. "So what are you up to? How are you today?"

Lorelai shrugged, taking a bite out of the cookie. "I'm fine. Just tired. I still think mornings were a concept invented by men. They're just that bad. Being tired because of the pregnancy doesn't help things, but blaming it all on a man seems like the thing to do in our clubhouse full of estrogen."

"You're just tired? That's it?"

"Yes, just tired. Why, what answer were you looking for?" Lorelai asked, raising her eyebrows.

Sookie shrugged. "I don't know. I was just curious. You don't feel sick today or anything?"

"No, other than feeling tired, I really do feel okay. I could make up an answer, if you want," Lorelai teased. "I'm guessing breaking out in my own version of 'I Feel Pretty' won't cut it, though."

"Nope, that's not quite what I was thinking of. Hey, about what you said before? What about the men who hate mornings?" Sookie challenged, pointing a spoon covered in cookie dough in Lorelai's direction.

"Wow, delayed reaction there. That's too much to think through. Just take it at face value, Sook. Mornings were invented by a man who didn't like sleeping in."

"You forgot the sexist part," Sookie pointed out.

Lorelai sighed. "The 'I am woman, hear me roar' part of the clubhouse just fizzled out because I forgot that part. I'm feeling okay, I guess. I am woman, hear me roar!"

Sookie grabbed a cookie and took a bite out of it. "Do you think this needs something else in it?" she asked.

Lorelai shook her head. "I think they're amazing."

"I don't know. I'm not sure," Sookie said, pulling out several containers of ingredients from the cabinets above her. "Oh, so I have to tell you. I had a dream last night that you and Luke were having triplets."

Lorelai cringed. "Okay, first of all, ow. Second, ow. And third, that is a lot of kids."

"I know," Sookie said with a laugh. "That is a lot of kids. But you and Luke could handle multiples."

Lorelai shrugged. "We're having a difficult time wrapping our minds around one as it is."

Sookie nodded. "Well, yeah, but still. You guys could handle it. I have no doubts. And I could totally help you guys out. I can be your very own Beth! How cool would that be?"

Lorelai's eyes widened. "Wow, you're... enthusiastic about being Beth, aren't you?"

"Oh, Lorelai, you have no idea how much fun that could be! Imagine if you really had triplets! Or even more than that."

"Okay, Sook, you're getting ahead of yourself there," Lorelai laughed.

"Sorry," Sookie said, brushing her hands off on her apron. "But for the record, I think you guys really could do it."

"Your faith amazes me," Lorelai said, trying not to sound as confused as she actually was. Multiples? Triplets, no less. She shuddered, reminding herself that it was just one of Sookie's crazy dreams.

Lorelai leaned against the counter, watching Sookie as she prepared a new batch of cookies. Sookie seemed awfully interested in the idea of Lorelai and Luke having multiples for whatever reason. Lorelai was curious, but she let it slide, grabbing three more cookies and a napkin.

"Don't give any of those to Michel," Sookie warned. "He's already weaseled his way in here and tried to steal two. We think he may be giving them to someone as payment for some sort of twisted deal he made."

Lorelai stopped and turned to face Sookie on her way out. "Hon, I highly doubt they'll make it to the lobby."

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫

The next day, Lorelai stopped by the diner for lunch just as the rush died down. After some negotiation, she talked Luke into a cup of decaf coffee, a cheeseburger, and some fries in exchange for a turkey sandwich the next day. She dragged her last French fry through the ketchup on her plate, waiting for Luke to come out of the kitchen so she could send him back in for more fries.

She made a smiley face in the ketchup and popped the last part of the fry in her mouth, searching for a napkin to get rid of the salt on her hands. She couldn't locate one in the dispenser on the counter or, or on the table behind her, so she brushed her hands on her jeans, satisfied with the result.

"What did you do that for?" Luke asked from behind her as he placed a cheeseburger on the table in front of Andrew.

Lorelai turned around. "I didn't know you were out here, otherwise I'd have asked you to refill that napkin dispenser. He looks awfully lonely and he hates feeling useless," she said with a pout. "I need more fries, please."

"So you decided to make your jeans feel useful by wiping your grimy hands on them?" he said, raising an eyebrow and making his way back into the kitchen.

She shrugged. "Hey, you gotta do what you gotta do. Now give me those French fries? What did they want to call them for awhile? Was it Freedom Fries? Ah, who cares? I need more."

Luke disappeared into the kitchen. Lorelai sipped her coffee and kicked her shoe against the stool, watching Luke put her fries on a plate. She pushed her old plate out of the way and grinned as he slid the new plate in front of her.

"There," he said. "Now do you need anything else before I move away from the counter?"

"The ketchup," Lorelai answered, grabbing the salt and sprinkling some on the new plate of French fries.

Luke rolled his eyes. "Are you serious? It's right there."

"If I were you, I'd hand me the ketchup to avoid hearing the sad tale about how he wishes he were honey Dijon mustard," Lorelai countered. "You seemed less than sensitive to the napkin dispenser saga!"

Luke walked behind the counter, reached down, and grabbed a stack of napkins, placing a few in front of Lorelai before he filled the empty napkin dispenser. "There. You've got your fries, and your napkins. All you need is your ketchup."

"Cruel and unusual punishment," she teased, sliding off the stool and grabbing the ketchup from the table. She poured it onto the side of her plate, closed the bottle, and grinned at Luke, taking a bite of a ketchup covered fry.

"Are you happy now?"

She grinned, taking a napkin from the stack and wiping her hands. "Very. In fact, I'm so happy, I could eat a vegetable."

"Really? I could go and make some for you, if you're that happy," Luke replied, motioning to the kitchen.

"Of course not. But I could lick your face," she teased, raising her eyebrows and giggling as she put some ketchup on her new plate.

Luke ignored Lorelai's comment, giving a customer his change. Lorelai began to arrange the French fries on her plate. "So, I was thinking about your situation with April," she started, watching her French fry tower crumble.


Lorelai nodded as she dipped a fry into the pool of ketchup. "How is that going? Did you take my advice? My advice is wonderful, you know. They estimate that its net worth is more than 3.4 billion dollars, making it the third most sought out advice in the continental United States. I beat out Dr. Phil."

Luke walked over to a vacated table and started to wipe it down. "It's going okay, I guess."

"Well, have you guys talked about the pregnancy yet?"

He nodded. "Yeah. She seemed really interested."

"Ta dah!" she exclaimed, throwing her arms in the air as though she was victorious in finding Luke a solution. "You let her get her excitement out. That's great! So how did it go? Tell me, tell me."

Luke placed a dirty napkin on the top of the stack of plates he had in his hand and walked over to the counter. "Well, she asked a bunch of questions. I don't really know why she was asking so much, when she could just google the answers, you know?"

"Clearly it's not the same as hearing it straight from the source," Lorelai said.

"You would be the source," he pointed out.

"And right now you are the closest thing to the source she has, my friend," she started. "Go on."

"She asked a lot of questions. I told her a few things, and that was really it. She seemed satisfied."

She took a sip of her coffee. "What did you tell her?"

"I told her about the time you freaked out because Kirk touched your stomach," he said.

Lorelai froze. "You what? Why did you tell her that? That's not something you share with people, Luke!"

"I don't understand what you're getting so upset about," Luke protested. "You told me to tell her stuff. I told her. It's a funny story. And besides, she's going to wonder why Kirk still flinches when you're around him. So I told her. Where's the problem?"

Lorelai raised her eyebrows at Luke's slightly annoyed tone. "Did it ever occur to you that I didn't want you to share that? God, Luke, I'm still embarrassed about the whole thing. I feel awful as it is, you didn't have to rub it in!"

He put the plates down on the counter and crossed his arms. "No, it didn't. I was just going by what you told me, but clearly I executed your master plan incorrectly."

Lorelai rolled her eyes. She grabbed her jacket and stood up from the stool. "Fine, you do what you want. You expressed your concerns, and I was just trying to help you with the whole situation. Forget it. Tell her whatever the hell you want, I don't care."


She held up her hands. "No, it's fine. You're going to do what you're going to do. You know what's best in this situation. I'll just stay out of it next time," she said calmly, zipping up her jacket and grabbing her purse. She turned to walk out the door when she realized she had more fries left. "Doggy bag those fries for me, please?"

Luke grabbed the plate of French fries and dumped them into a styrofoam container. He handed the container to Lorelai, waiting for her to accept it as he tried to explain himself. "I just—"

"Luke, don't. Seriously, tell her whatever you want. It was just a suggestion," she huffed, taking the container of French fries. "Forget I even said anything, okay?" Lorelai shook her head and rolled her eyes as she made her way out of the diner.

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫

"Tell me something new about the boys," Rory said into the phone, sitting on one of the armchairs and tucking her feet up underneath her.

"Steve is running everywhere and I have trouble keeping up with him. He's also very chatty and will talk to anyone," Lane said, "but Kwan doesn't like to talk much. He'll talk to me or Zach a little, but only when we really urge him. He'll talk to his brother all the time, though."

"Codependency developing early," Rory commented, playing with the curtain lightly. "But way to go, Steve, for being Little Mister Independent."

"Weren't those books when we were kids?" Lane asked. "I think I remember them. I can't imagine that my mother would have let them into our house, though, so I'm probably remembering your house."

"Oh, the Mr. Men books!" Rory remembered. "Yeah, those were fun. I think my mom liked them the best, though. She kept wanting to read them to me when I was seven."

"I definitely remember that," Lane said. "She would get all happy about the names and rant about the artwork."

There were some muffled sounds coming from Lane's end of the phone. "What is that?" Rory asked.

"Oh." Rory could practically hear Lane roll her eyes. "They're having mini-band practice. Zach bought little keyboards—Playskool or Little Tykes or something—for the boys, and they love it. Which is great, it's great to know they've inherited the rock 'n' roll gene—but it got old fast. So now Zach is in charge when they want to play."

"Great system."

"I thought so," Lane agreed. "Mommy gets her quiet time, Daddy gets his bonding time, and everyone's happy."

"Sounds perfect," Rory commented. "Oh, hey, by the way, did I tell you Paris got engaged?" she said after a slight pause.

"No way!" Lane laughed. "Wow, that's... I don't know what to say to that."

"That's the Paris reaction. And she asked me to be her maid of honor. Well," Rory interrupted herself, "more like stated that it would be me, or assumed, or any sort of word that doesn't include her actually asking."

"Does Paris ask for anything?" Lane mused.

"Don't think so." Rory dug her toes into the side of the cushion. "It's not in her nature, I don't think."

"So, Paris engaged, huh?" Lane said leadingly. "Anything happening with those online dating sites you were looking at?"

"Nothing's happening," Rory said with a sigh. "I'm starting to wonder how good this idea was. I'm not quitting yet, though."

"Let's change the subject," Lane said quickly. "Tell me more about your new neighbor. The new boy in town. Oh, my god, did I just quote Hairspray?" Her voice sounded horrified.

"That was 'New Girl in Town'," Rory corrected. "My mom and I watched that endlessly one weekend and mocked Brittany Snow's cupcake look. 'New boy' is in the neighborhood and that was Charles in Charge."

"Right," Lane said. "Scott Baio is 45 now."

"And single," Rory added. "Though I thought I saw an interview that said he was engaged. So either they broke up or he just wanted to do a reality show."

"Both, I think," Lane decided. "But back to your new boy."

"He's not my boy," Rory protested. "But it's funny, actually. We keep running into each other outside."

"Really?" Lane said. "That sounds like the ultimate cute meet!"

Rory scoffed. "He's so not my type. He's older, or seems older, and he's a teacher, and I don't know. It would just be weird. Besides, it's like every day. I keep meeting him on the front porch or by the stairs around three or four o'clock in the afternoon."

"Maybe he's a stalker," Lane suggested.

"Sure," Rory agreed. "Because it's not like he lives here or anything."

"He could still be a stalker! Maybe he waits by his window to see when you're leaving, or he has your routine figured out so he can randomly 'bump' into you."

"You're freaking me out here." Rory sat up nervously and peered out her front window. "Seriously, what's up with the reactions here? Mom said he's a ninja; you say he's a stalker. You're making me afraid to leave the house."

"I meant it in a good way," Lane said. "Not in a creepy way. Just in a way that he likes you and he wants to get to know you, so the easiest way is to arrange chance meetings."

"Still sounds creepy."

"What, you think he's Jason-in-a-hockey-mask waiting until you're vulnerable..." Lane trailed off. "Okay, now I'm freaking myself out. We need to change the subject. Tell me about your articles. What's fascinating in the journalism world?"

"Well," Rory said, "they got a new animal over at the petting zoo..."

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫

"Sookie, I need— Sookie?" Lorelai entered the kitchen, looking around for Sookie. Her eyes immediately darted to the stove, where nothing was cooking. Breathing a sigh of relief, she looked around the kitchen to find it totally empty.

"If I were a guest list with food allergy restrictions, where would I be?" Lorelai asked the empty room. She looked in cabinets, on shelves, and under the pots and pans before checking on top of the refrigerator. Lorelai grabbed the stack of papers and began to look through them, putting each irrelevant page aside as she searched.

She came across a piece of paper titled "Notes for the Book" and stopped her search momentarily. Scanning the sheet of paper, Lorelai read a very detailed log of what she had been doing for the past few days. Complete with times, Sookie had been keeping a record of her every move. Lorelai felt slightly violated, but she was extremely curious as to what Sookie was up to.

As Lorelai continued to read the notes Sookie had taken, Sookie entered the kitchen, humming to herself as she grabbed a mixing bowl. She turned to shut the cabinet when she saw Lorelai filing through her pile of papers. "Hey, hon, what are you looking for?"

"Oh. Well, I was just looking through these papers, I was hoping to find the guest list for the McCormick retirement party," Lorelai replied.

"I think it's toward the middle of the stack somewhere," Sookie replied.

Lorelai glanced at the notes again, shaking her head at the details they contained. According to Sookie's notes, Lorelai had taken six bathroom breaks in four hours, and three snack breaks in the same amount of time. Her curiosity was getting the best of her. After a brief internal debate, Lorelai said, "Hey, Sookie, come here a sec, would you? Take a look at this."

Sookie walked over to Lorelai and looked over her shoulder. "Oh, you found my notes!"

"Yes, I definitely found your notes. What's this all about? Sookie, this is borderline creepy," Lorelai said, pointing at the papers that Sookie had taken.

"It's all for the book," Sookie said, patting Lorelai on the shoulder. "Don't worry; we won't put anything in there unless you and Luke are both on board with it."

She raised her eyebrows as she watched Sookie return to her mixing bowl. "The book? Hold on a sec, Sook, you need to spill. What has gotten into you?"

Sookie put down her mixing spoon. "Okay, this may sound crazy, so don't say anything until you've heard the whole story."

"Hon, I don't think anything in the world could sound crazier than this," Lorelai replied, holding up the notes. "An explanation would make the whole thing much less crazy, unless you know something I don't know."

Sookie nervously fidgeted with her apron and took a deep breath. "I was hoping you and Luke could have multiples so I could be the Beth to your Jon and Kate. I know that sounds totally... insane and irrational, but I really hoped that could happen. I figured if you got a book deal, and a TV show, like they did, I could be Beth."

"You wanted to write a book about all of this?" Lorelai asked. The whole situation seemed a bit ridiculous, but Lorelai was starting to see that while Sookie was still nuts, she was well intentioned. "Wait, scratch that, how many kids were you hoping I'd have?"

Sookie shrugged. "I don't know. I wasn't really sure about that part. Whatever would get you a TV show, I guess."

Lorelai nodded. "So you wanted us to have a book, and a TV show? All because you wanted to be Beth?"

"Well, yeah, I guess. I like Beth. I think she's great. I just didn't really know if I could be anyone's Beth until now, and... I don't know, maybe I saw an opportunity and grabbed hold," Sookie reasoned. "I took it a little too far, and I'm really sorry. I know the notes were a little weird. I just really wanted to... you know, be important like Beth is. I wanted to be like her, I guess. Okay, you're right; you should put me in a padded room. That's how nuts I was acting."

Lorelai laughed. "Sookie, it's okay. You know that you don't need to get us a book deal or a TV show to be our Beth."


"Yes," Lorelai said. "In fact, I hereby dub thee... wait, I need some sort of kitchen utensil."

Sookie reached behind her and grabbed a spatula. "How's this?"

"Perfect. I hereby dub thee... Beth," Lorelai declared, touching the spatula on each of Sookie's shoulders.

Sookie grinned. "Wow, this is so neat!"

"Sookie, you know we love you, right? You're important to us, TV show or no TV show. Same goes for the book. In fact, I want to say that Sookie's just a little bit better than Beth," Lorelai said, putting the spatula down.

"Well, in that case," Sookie started, "un-dub me. I want to be Sookie again."

"Wow, you are a very indecisive woman," Lorelai teased, picking up the spatula and touching each of her shoulders again. "Next you're going to want to be Lara Croft."

Sookie giggled. "No way. I'd much rather be Sydney Bristow."

Lorelai nodded. "I'll agree with that," she said, grabbing the list she originally wanted and starting out the door. She stopped short as another thought popped into her head. "And by the way?"

"Yeah?" Sookie asked, cracking an egg on the side of the mixing bowl.

"Lose the notes, please?"

Sookie saluted Lorelai. "You got it."

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫

As Rory reached the bottom floor, she hesitated and glanced back up toward the first landing, keeping an ear open for any sounds coming from the second floor.

Within a few seconds, there was the sound of heavy footsteps on the wooden planks. "Hey," Kevin said behind her.

Rory turned to see him wearing shorts and a t-shirt cut off at the sleeves. "I was beginning to think our chance meetings were done," she commented.

"Nah," Kevin said, shaking his head. "We've been on the same schedule too many times lately."

"I guess I should have thought something was up if I didn't see you," Rory agreed.

"So," she said as they walked down the front steps together, "where are you headed today?"

Kevin shrugged. "It's still nice out," he said, nodding toward the sky. "Thought I'd go for a run before it starts getting too cold."

Rory groaned. "A run? Oh, you're one of those?"

"One of those?" Kevin repeated, tilting his head to look at her. "What does that mean?"

"A runner," Rory explained. "One of my roommates freshman year was a runner. She drove us all crazy with her squeaky trampolines and pushups at all hours and the exercise balls and free weights in the living room."

"Just because I like to go for a jog, that means I'm one of those exercise freaks?" Kevin asked.

Rory nodded emphatically. "Oh, yeah. Any voluntary exercise—biking, running—"

"Power-walking?" Kevin suggested. "Skipping?"

"Ugh, power-walking." Rory shuddered. "Jogging is better than power-walking."

"Agreed," Kevin said. "Power-walking is like cheating at jogging."

"So, jogging is doing it the right way; power-walking is the wussy way out?"

Kevin nodded. "Exactly. Also, the non-wusses drink water," he said, holding up his plastic bottle. "None of that Gatorade stuff. People who drink Gatorade are the ones who get winded jogging from the couch to the TV."

"Wow, those are some pretty strong feelings against Gatorade!" Rory commented.

"You should have heard me back in the '90s ranting against Air Jordans."

"I'll take your word for it," Rory said, shifting her bag on her shoulder. "I get the same way about overrated authors."

"Overrated authors, huh? Now you sound like my sister," Kevin said, taking his iPod from his shorts pocket.

"Is that good or bad?" Rory asked, raising her eyebrows.

"Depends on the day." Kevin grinned at her. "What are you up to?"

"Just headed down to the Beanery," Rory said. "I've been craving one of their scones, and I found enough coins hidden in the couch cushions to get a decent sized cup of coffee, too."

"You're a coffee drinker?" Kevin groaned playfully. "One of those?" He mimicked her tone.

"Yes, I'm one of those," Rory defended herself with a smile. "Coffee is my life's blood. I'm pretty sure I had coffee in the bottle instead of milk."

Kevin just shook his head good-naturedly. "Coffee drinkers," he said. "Not as bad as Gatorade. I like my liquids clear, though."

"That sounds like a setup for a vodka joke," Rory told him.

"No comment." Kevin put his earbuds in and jogged off.

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫

Lorelai sat at the kitchen table flipping through a magazine. She heard Luke walk into the living room and turn on the television, and she sighed. She still felt miserable since their disagreement. Shutting the magazine, she decided to attempt to patch things up.

She walked into the living room and took a seat next to Luke on the couch. He let out a heavy sigh, obviously still agitated from their spat. Lorelai sat for a few minutes, watching ESPN with Luke without saying a word. She glanced over at him and saw him quickly turn his attention back to the TV. Scooting closer to Luke, she started to trail her fingers up and down his arm, trying to get him to ignore the TV. He turned to face her.

"Lorelai," he started, breaking the silence.


"I, uh... I screwed up. With the whole, you know, telling April too much thing. I'm sorry."

She tucked her feet underneath her. "Look, I know you're concerned about April. I was wrong to just freak out like that about you telling her about my Kirk ordeal. I just got a little crazy over all of it. It was probably a mixture of hormones and extremely intense well wishes taken much, much too far." She paused for a moment, trying to interpret Luke's body language in order to see if he was interested in talking some more.

"I just wanted to know what was going on in her life," Luke explained, taking off his baseball cap and scratching his head. "And she decided she wanted to talk about the pregnancy. I didn't know what to do, and when I did what you suggested, I didn't do it right. Look, I was stupid to tell her the Kirk story. I didn't realize it was going to make you upset. If I would have known it was going to make you mad I wouldn't have said anything."

Lorelai nodded, reaching over for the remote control and muting the television. "I'm so sorry I flipped the switch. And I see where you were coming from. I thought of that too, but then I thought about how much it would suck if I showed excitement about something and everyone just brushed me off. I couldn't help but think that she would feel left out. And being one of the last to know sucks to begin with, you know?"

"I know how that is," Luke muttered.

"That's where I was coming from. I just wanted you to be able to talk to her about something, and I wanted her to feel included. I'm not trying to mess with things, really," Lorelai said. "Maybe I should have come up with a neutral topic. I actually should have suggested meeting somewhere in the middle, but my logic escaped me."

"I know you weren't trying to sabotage anything." He shrugged. "I didn't mean to get upset about your idea."

Lorelai glanced at the clock. "Well, it's only seven her time. You could call her and talk to her now. I mean, if that's still what you were thinking about doing."

"I don't know, should I?"

"Whatever you want, babe," Lorelai answered, moving closer to Luke as he wrapped his arm around her. "I just want you to feel good about it. I know things are already a little weird between you two and the last thing I want is to create more weirdness."

"Well, weirdness is kind of inevitable, we live in Stars Hollow."

She smiled and looked up at Luke. "That's true. It is a pretty weird town, when you think about it."

"Taylor's what makes this town a nuthouse," Luke grumbled.

"Okay, that's our cue. You should call April before you get all grumpy from thinking about Taylor," Lorelai insisted, sitting up and looking behind a pillow for the phone.

Luke lifted a cushion beside him to check for the phone. "Thinking about Taylor doesn't necessarily make me grumpy."

Lorelai laughed as she got up from the couch and walked into the kitchen. "Ha! That's the funniest thing I've heard all day. Tell me another joke, that one was great."

"It's not a joke, Lorelai," he huffed, rolling his eyes. "And do you have something against the locator button on the phone?"

"Please," she scoffed, "that button stopped working ages ago."

"Okay, tomorrow, we get a new phone with a locator button that works," he called after her, looking under an end table for the missing phone.

Lorelai gasped. "A malfunctioning locator button is not probable cause for the purchase of a new phone! That's blasphemy! We'll find the phone. I guarantee it."

"You guarantee it?"

"Absolutely," Lorelai said, walking back into the living room carrying the phone in her hand. "See?"

Luke held out his hand and took the phone from Lorelai. "Where did you find it? In the oven? In the box of Fruit Loops that's been in your kitchen cabinet since the beginning of time?"

She shrugged, patting him on the arm. "It was on the receiver thing, charging."

"The time it's in the most obvious place," he sighed.

"Excuse me, I found it there, you didn't even bother to glance in that general direction of the house," she teased. "I suppose I should also tell you that the speakerphone function on that phone is wonky, too."

He shook his head and sat down on the couch. "We're definitely getting a new phone tomorrow."

"I should get the phone from upstairs so we can be on at the same time," she suggested. She went upstairs and got the phone from the bedroom as Luke dialed April's cell phone number. Reclaiming her place on the opposite end of the couch, she waved at Luke. "Hey, I'm on the phone with you and I'm in the same room as you. Can you hear me now?"

"You're nuts," Luke replied with an eyeroll. "And I thought you were going to let me talk to her."

"Relax, Cranky McGrumpy Pants. I just want to say hi," she said, rolling her eyes.

"Hello?" April answered.

"Hey, April, is this a bad time?" Luke asked.

"Dad, hey! No, not a bad time at all. I just got back from the mall. What's up?"

Luke looked at Lorelai, shaking his head when she waved to him again. "Lorelai's on the line, too."

"Hey, Lorelai!"

"Hi, April, how are you?" Lorelai said, smiling at Luke sitting across the couch.

"I'm great, how are you?"

"Good, good," Lorelai said, looking at Luke to lead the conversation. "I'm going to let you talk to your dad. Talk to you later!"

"Bye, Lorelai!"

She hung up the phone, walking up the stairs and thinking about placing it back in the cradle. But she pressed the "Talk" button again, lifting the phone to her ear. She was hoping that Luke and April would be able to have a nice talk.

"So, how's Lorelai?" April asked.

"She's good. Nothing new to report," Luke said. "She's feeling good and making deals with me to let her have junk food, but other than that she's been doing what she's supposed to."

"Ha! That's fabulous," April said, sounding satisfied with the details given. "I have to tell you. Remember that girl who cheated on her Biology exam last semester? She's been dropped as secretary of the National Honor Society, and guess who's been appointed?"

"Congratulations, April, that's great!" Luke replied enthusiastically.

Lorelai smiled as she pulled the phone away from her ear, pressed the 'off' button, and put it back in the receiver.

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫

"Hi, Mom," Lorelai greeted tentatively as she walked through the foyer of the Gilmore house.

"Hello, Lorelai," Emily returned coldly, heading into the living room. "What are you doing here?"

"I just came to say hello. I haven't seen you at the inn in a few days." Lorelai gingerly sat on the edge of the couch opposite her mother.

"Well, I've been there," Emily snapped. "I haven't been neglecting my job. Anyway, I'm surprised you can even stand to be here, looking at everything I picked out with my lack of taste." Her voice was sharp and acerbic.

Lorelai held back from rolling her eyes. "I didn't mean that you have no taste. That's not what I was saying."

"It's fine, Lorelai." Emily's tone conveyed that it was anything but fine and she waved a hand dismissively.

"Mom, please," Lorelai said gently. "I was too hard on you. You were doing a nice thing, and I appreciate that."

Emily's expression softened slightly. "Well, I'm glad you can recognize that."

Lorelai reached for her purse and pulled out the catalogs that Emily had marked up. "I looked through the catalogs again, and found the registry online. I found a few nice things that you picked out."

"Really?" Emily moved to sit next to Lorelai and look at the catalogs with her. "You said they were too ostentatious," she reminded Lorelai.

Lorelai shrugged. "I know. Some of them were, but not all of them. I exaggerated. I do that. Those ruffles, though? Not in a million years." She shuddered.

"You had one like that," Emily commented, taking one of the catalogs from Lorelai and flipping it open.

"I remember the pictures," Lorelai said. "It went with the dresses that I remember wearing when I was little."

"Oh, those ruffles were beautiful," Emily reminisced. "So classy."

"Mom, stay with me here." Lorelai waved a hand. "Not gonna happen with this baby."

"Fine," Emily's voice was clipped. "What did you like?"

"Well, this dresser is really nice, and it's not too baby-like, so it can be used for years." Lorelai indicated a picture in the middle of the page. "That was one of your suggestions. And..." She flipped a few pages. "I liked this mobile. It's fun looking, with bright colors and shapes."

"I'm surprised you didn't go for the one with the cartoon characters," Emily said.

Lorelai shook her head with distaste. "Too cutesy."

"What about that changing table?" Emily pointed out.

"Hey, Mom," Lorelai said, not looking at the catalog.

Emily looked up, surprised. "Yes, Lorelai?"

"Thanks," she said sincerely. "I'm really happy that you're so excited about this baby."

"Yes, well..." Emily, visibly touched, trailed off, and then looked back down at the catalog. "What do you think of this?"

"Seven hundred dollars for a stroller?" Lorelai's jaw dropped. "No."

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫

"So, Neighbor Rory, what are your big plans for this fine Saturday afternoon?" Kevin asked as the two of them headed down the building's front steps.

"I'll probably grab a coffee," she said, "and then settle in for a fun afternoon of work."

"You and that coffee." Kevin shook his head good-naturedly.

"What, go for a run this morning?" Rory shot back. "Hit the pavement?"

"Doesn't that mean something else?" Kevin wondered. Rory shrugged. "What sort of work are you doing in exotic West Hartford?"

"I'm a free-lance journalist," Rory said, shifting her laptop bag on her shoulder. "I've got some articles due, and the bookstore has a great atmosphere for concentration. Not too quiet, not too noisy."

Kevin looked at her. "Wait, the Borders?"

"No, that's way too corporate." Rory shook her head. "It's Knowles Books, the used bookstore on Walker Ave. You know it?"

Kevin stopped in his tracks, throwing his head back with laughter. "Seriously? That's your favorite work spot? Knowles Books? So, I guess you go there a lot?"

"Ye-es..." Rory said slowly, unsure if she should be getting defensive. "Why?"

"Nothing bad," Kevin tried to explain. He took a few deep breaths. "That's where I'm heading now. My sister works there. She practically runs the place. She's like the unofficial manager."

Rory laughed in surprise. "Wait a second... is your sister Tess? I'm at that store like three or four times a week. She mentioned she had a brother."

Kevin nodded. "That's my little sister. I never let her forget that, by the way."

Rory raised her eyebrows, looking Kevin over. "How 'little' is she?"

"Oh, we're only two years apart," he explained, "but it's a very important two years."

"I'll take your word for it." She put on a mock-serious face.

"Why don't we go over there?" Kevin suggested as they started walking down the street. "We could find a good way to tease Tess. Come up with a crazy story about how we met."

"Maybe you remind me of someone I used to know? A former friend who owes me money? I could come up to you and yell at you!" Rory theorized.

"I don't know if Tess would go for that," Kevin mused. "We'll come up with something good."  The two of them continued to brainstorm as they walked down the street toward the bookstore.





To be continued...




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