Episode 9.14 "Food for Thought"
by Robinpoppins and lulu1960


Authors' Note: We love our bread, we love our butter, but most of all, we love each other. :)  lulu jumped into the deep end of the pool for the first time with this episode. Robin, thanks for swimming beside me. Mags and Filo for the floaties and not letting me drown and to Jewels for watching the pool as the chief lifeguard, making sure there were no ripples in the water.

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"Morning, you two. Something smells crazy good in here," Lorelai said as she padded into the kitchen heading for the coffee maker. Her stocking feet shuffled across the floor, a bit of the pregnancy waddle already happening. Reaching for the pot, she poured the liquid into her cup, taking a deep breath as the flavorful aroma wafted up. She couldn't help but smile. "Mmm, only half-caf, thank you."

Luke looked over and smiled. "I figured it's Sunday. Live it up a little."

"What else do we have going on? Is that yummy bacon I see, in all of its greasy, crispy goodness?"

"I know how you like the bacon," Luke chuckled. "I thought for sure it wouldn't agree with you. But just my luck you seem to enjoy it even more."

"What can I say; Baby definitely has my appetite. Speaking of which, do I smell something baking in the oven, too?" she asked as she walked over to Luke for a good morning kiss.

"Yep." He nodded. "Blueberry muffins in the oven. They have a few more minutes to go. I figured blueberries are healthy, plus you seem to like them."

"And they are full of anti-oxidants," April added, pulling a mixing bowl from the cupboard.

"I love Sundays!" Lorelai squealed, running her hand across Luke's arm.

Lorelai leaned her back against the counter, watching Luke at the stove. His shoulders were slightly hunched, as he flipped and turned the bacon. She smiled at the look of quiet determination on April's face as she stood beside him, whisk in one hand, a cup of milk in the other. She chuckled when she noticed a similar look mirrored on Luke's own face.

"Remember to pour the milk in slowly when you're mixing, and don't over-beat it. The secret to fluffy pancakes is to not overwork the batter," Luke instructed, turning his attention to April.

"I remember, Dad. I've been in charge of the pancakes for a while now. I even added a bit of cinnamon because I know Lorelai likes the little zip. Right, Lorelai?"

"I do indeed. Brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg; I am a fan," she chuckled, winking at April.

Luke gently bumped April's shoulder with his, a proud look flashing across his face. "Sorry, I forgot, you're the pancake expert now," he teased before focusing back on plating the bacon.

"No, I'm not an expert yet. Let's just say I'm your Jedi apprentice," April laughed. "Okay, looks like the batter is good to go," she said, putting down the whisk.

Lorelai pushed off the counter, turning to reach in the cupboard for the plates. She looked down and smiled when she noticed that her belly was getting in the way, causing her to have to stand on her tiptoes slightly. "Shhh. April, don't mention Jedis. Next thing you know he'll be explaining the concept of having the higher ground. Or maybe he'll tell you what they wave around. Flash light thingies, right Luke?" she teased.

"Funny, really funny. Like you haven't gone on and on about a movie. I have two words for you: Willy Wonka. And don't even get me started on—"

The buzzer to the stove went off interrupting Luke's train of thought.

"Saved by the bell," Lorelai chuckled.

While she went about setting the table and April poured the juice, Luke opened the oven door to check the muffins. Grabbing a toothpick, he poked the center of a couple. Satisfied that they were done, he grabbed the potholders off the counter and pulled them out of the oven, placing them on a rack to cool.

"Okay, while those are cooling for a few minutes, let's get these pancakes made. April, you want to do the honors?"

"Cool," she said enthusiastically. "I've been working on my wrist flick."

Rubbing his hands together, he replied. "Alrighty then, the spatula is yours."

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The grandfather clock in the hall interrupted the quiet of the room, ticking loudly as Emily and Richard sat at opposite ends of the dining room table, Richard with his three newspapers, and Emily with her daily planner and a notepad. Paper rustled as Richard let the newspaper fall onto the table, and he reached for his coffee cup, taking a sip. Emily tapped her pen on her planner, scrutinizing the contents carefully. The door from the kitchen opened, and the maid walked in with a tray heavy with a coffee pot, tea kettle, and small muffins. She set the tray down on a cart, and wheeled it over to Richard.

"More coffee, sugar?" she asked, her Southern drawl thick, picking up the pot from the tray.

Richard looked up from his paper, and pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose. He looked down at his coffee cup. "Yes, I think I could use some more. Thank you, Bertha."

Emily looked up from her planner and narrowed her eyes at Bertha. "And that is to be his last cup, Bertha. Mr. Gilmore has a strict diet he needs to adhere to."

"Of course, Mrs. Gilmore. I'll write myself a note. I swear, if my head wasn't screwed onto my neck, it would just roll away." Bertha refilled Emily's tea cup, dropping in the appropriate amount of cream and sugar. "At least I have a good memory for how you take your tea. My mamma trained me right."

"Yes," Emily deadpanned. "That is reassuring."

"I'll be right back with your breakfast, folks. Y'all are gonna love it."

"Thank you, Bertha," Richard said absently, not looking up from his paper.

"Well, she isn't going to last long," Emily remarked, returning her attention to the notepad as soon as Bertha walked into the kitchen.

"I like her," Richard commented, turning the page. "She's charming."

"Yes, you would think so." Emily paused, crossing out something on the notepad. "I'll give her a week."

"Yes, by all means, give her more than a morning."

Silence engulfed the room again as the couple concentrated on the activity in front of them. Emily jotted a few more notes, then set down her pen. She sighed. "Looks like I will be spending my entire week at the spa. With Valentine's Day this weekend, I have a feeling that it will be busy."

"Hmm," was Richard's response from behind the newspaper.

"Lorelai said the inn has been booked for this weekend since August, and we only have a few spa appointments remaining. We are doing cross-promotions for couples staying at the inn."


"Don't forget that we need to make an appearance at the Hearts and Roses DAR gala on Saturday. And you had something at Yale we needed to attend?"

"No, that's next weekend."

"Oh, yes, you're correct. I see it on the calendar now."

"Mmhm," Richard murmured, shaking his newspaper to straighten it.

Emily picked up her spoon, and stirred her tea. "Elaine Zucker is organizing this year's gala. She always has very interesting ideas."

"I received an interesting call from her husband last week," Richard commented, picking up his coffee cup with his free hand and taking a sip.

"Oh? What did Robert want? The two of you hardly speak outside of events."

"Apparently, he met Rory recently. There is a job available at the Courant and she sent in a portfolio. He was very impressed with her articles."

"As he should be. She is a gifted writer... Have you talked to Rory about the job? Why didn't she tell us about it?"

"I don't know, Emily. She hasn't volunteered—"

"Here we are," Bertha exclaimed, bursting through the door with her arms loaded with plates. "Breakfast is ready." She set down a bowl and a plate with sausage and biscuits in front of Emily, then walked over to Richard.

Emily eyed the contents of the bowl curiously. "What on earth is this?"

"It's buttered grits, honey. Don't tell me you've never had them before."

"They look delicious, Bertha," Richard said, finally setting his newspaper down, and pushing it off to the side.

Emily picked up a spoon and stirred the grits. "I'm not sure they are on Mr. Gilmore's diet."

"My grandpappy ate grits every morning of his life and he lived to be 98," Bertha countered. She took the spoon from Emily and stirred it herself. "Hmm, maybe it needs more butter."

"Yes, by all means, add more butter," Emily said, rolling her eyes. "I will just have a grapefruit. Thank you, Bertha."

"Sure thing, honey. But, if you ask me, grapefruit is hardly breakfast." Bertha collected the bowl and walked back into the kitchen.

"I'll risk it," Emily muttered under her breath, earning a quiet chuckle from the other side of the table.

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Stretching her arms above her head, Rory turned toward the nightstand on her right, focusing on the clock. Her eyes grew wide when she saw that it was already 10:00. She sat up in bed twisting her back, working out the kinks, and trying to get herself in gear. Pushing the covers off, she set her feet on the floor. Rory shuddered as the cold caused her to jump from foot to foot. She looked around puzzled, before crouching down to search under the bed for her slippers, running her hand back and forth as she groped underneath. "What the heck is this?" she muttered. Rory chuckled when she realized it was her long missing blue and green scarf.

Reaching back down, her fingers grazed something soft. She grunted as she straightened back up, pulling one of the slippers out by its bunny ear. Determined to retrieve the mate, she bent down again and swept her hand in an even bigger arc under the bed. "Aha, I've got you!" she squealed triumphantly, as she pulled back her hand.

Rory yelped as she jumped up and ran towards the kitchen, shaking her hand wildly. "Gross, gross, gross! I wanted my bunny slipper, not a handful of dust bunny," she screeched. She quickly flicked on the water in the sink and washed her hands. "I didn't need my slippers anyway," she muttered.

After starting the coffee pot and grabbing a bowl of Rice Krispies, Rory headed to the living room. She set her bowl of cereal down on the coffee table next to her laptop and plopped down onto the couch. As she waited for the computer to power up and her tabs to appear, she leaned over and grabbed her bowl off the table. Listening to the snaps and crackles, she smirked. "Okay, guys, since you seem to be so chatty this morning, help me find someone who needs an article written."

Bouncing from site to site, she stopped periodically to take a spoonful of cereal before going back to making notes and book marking potential opportunities. With multiple tabs open, she finally settled on the site for the Hartford Courant, the brief conversation with Mr. Zucker running through her head.

"So, he knows Grandpa, what's the big deal?" she muttered out loud, her spoon poised at her lips. "The big deal is, is he interested in me for me or because of whom I'm related to?" she answered herself, taking the last bite. "And the big deal is, I'm talking to Snap, Crackle and Pop," she said, shaking her head. She dropped the spoon into the empty bowl with a clank. Setting the bowl on the table, she focused intently on the screen. Navigating to Google, she typed in Robert Zucker. When the numerous hits popped up she zeroed in on the Yale Alumni site. She began reading the different bits of information. She had just delved into Mr. Zucker's biography when the ring tone from her phone caused her to jump slightly.

"Hello?" she answered distractedly, continuing to read.

"Rory, it's a disaster, I have it all planned out, the charts, the schedules, and she's ruining everything. She can't just come in here and take over," the shrill voice bounced over the line.

"Paris?" she asked, pulling the phone away from her ear.

"Of course it's Paris," she screeched. "You've forgotten my voice already? I know we don't talk every day, but you would think you would remember my voice. I mean it's not like we haven't known each other for years or anything," she said sarcastically.

"No, no, Paris, I was just in the middle of reading something. Now, calm down and tell me what's wrong."

Paris's voice bellowed over the phone. "What's wrong? What's wrong! Rory, haven't you been listening? It's my mother; she's trying to take over the wedding!"

"So much for a quiet morning," she whispered, closing the lid on her laptop. "Okay Paris, start from the beginning."

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Luke stood behind the counter logging the morning's receipts into his worn brown ledger when the phone rang. Setting his pencil down, he answered, "Luke's."

"Hello, Luke, it's Anna. Is this a bad time?"

"Oh. Hey, Anna. No, it's fine. How's it going?" he asked.

"Well, I called to update you on some developments in regards to moving back to Connecticut."

Luke's hand braced on the counter as he felt his body tense up, his brow furrowing in confusion. "Anna, can you hang on for a second?" he asked. Covering the mouthpiece, Luke motioned for Caesar with a quick wave. "Caesar, I need to take this call, can you handle the front for a few minutes?"

"Sure thing, Boss."

Luke grabbed the phone and stretched the cord around the corner into the storeroom. He leaned up against the table in the middle of the room and took a deep breath. "Sorry about that, Anna. What kind of developments? You're still moving back to Connecticut, right? I mean, that was what you said the last time we talked. April's not going back to New Mexico, is she? Didn't you say something about a potential job prospect?" Luke blurted out, peppering Anna with questions.

"Luke, slow down, that's why I'm calling. The job offer I told you about came through. I'll be managing a small boutique. Mrs. Dupree, the owner of "Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow," is looking to slow down. She wants a manager who knows the business. Plus, she was impressed with the fact that I had run my own place. Now I know that it's not the same as owning a store again, but one of the added benefits to me taking the job was that Mrs. Dupree is looking to retire soon and she offered me first option to buy it," Anna explained.

"Wow, Anna that's great. Sorry about all the questions," he replied sincerely, finally able to relax a bit. He took a step away from the table and ran his sweaty palm across his pant leg. "So, I guess you'll be coming back to the area soon. Don't worry, April can stay with me and Lorelai for as long as you need."

"Actually, I'll be flying back this Friday. I've lined up a great two-bedroom house to rent. It belongs to a woman I used to do business with in Woodbridge. I've kept in touch with her while I've been in New Mexico, and I mentioned the job offer and being in the market to rent a house. It turns out she's looking to rent hers. Apparently her husband is being transferred to the West Coast," she stated matter-of-factly.

"Um, wow, that's really fast," he stammered.

"Fortunately for me, her other prospect fell through. So when she offered the house to me, I jumped at it. The decision was an easy one to make, actually. I'm already familiar with the house and it's coming partially furnished which is a plus. It's close to the boutique, so there won't be any real commute to speak of, and I talked to the school district and there won't be any problem with April staying at Stars Hollow High."

"Sounds like you have everything figured out."

"Yes, I have," she answered tersely. "I've been on the phone non-stop for days. I've hired a moving company," she continued. "They'll be here tomorrow to start the packing process. Since I'll be donating a lot of the stuff, there won't be that much to haul back. I'm only bringing back the things that hold special memories for me or for April. And with the house partially furnished, I don't see any reason why April and I can't be moved in by Saturday night."

He tried to not let the sadness creep into his voice as he twisted the phone cord between his fingers. "Saturday, huh? That soon?"

"I've missed her, Luke. I need her back with me," she answered with conviction.

"I know, Anna, I understand. See you on Friday. Goodbye," he said. As the line disconnected, he muttered, "I know what missing her feels like," as he walked back into the diner to hang up the phone.

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"Next on TNT, another episode of Law & Order," the television announced eliciting a groan from Lorelai, who was sitting Indian style on the couch, a pillow propped in her lap. She shifted around in her seat, her brow furrowed as she searched for the remote. She lifted up the pillow in her lap, coming up empty, and proceeded to feel in between the cushions.

"A ha!" she shouted victoriously as she pulled out the remote from the crack near the armrest. She waved it above her head in celebration.

"Stay tuned to TNT," the announcer continued, "Where we know—"

"Absolutely nothing about variety," Lorelai finished, changing the channel before the slogan could be finished. She began to flip through the stations quickly, only catching brief glances of what was really on. "Big bucks, big bucks, no whammys, STOP!" She paused on a channel.

"Hello, my name is Mike Rowe, and this is my job."

"Hello, dirty boy," she said to the TV with a grin, falling back on to the couch cushions. The musical montage of several of Mike Rowe's jobs flashed across the screen. "Don't tell your dad I'm watching this," she said to her stomach. "He thinks I have a crush on Mike Rowe, which may or may not be true... Okay, it is true. It can be our little secret. Pay attention, you might learn something."

Mike Rowe walked out dressed only in a towel and began talking."Oh yeah, this is probably a bad idea," Lorelai mumbled, biting her lip. She closed her eyes, picked up the remote and changed the channel. She kept them closed as the television flashed. "Come on, big money!" She stopped and put down the remote and opened her eyes. "Ooo, ooo, ooo! People on stilts! People on stilts!"

Lorelai spotted her phone on the table next to the couch, and rolled over to it, moaning slightly at the change in position. Falling into the armrest, she picked up the phone and blindly punched in a number, rubbing her stomach.

"Turn on your TV," she told the person on the other line, not bothering to wait for a hello.

"Wow, glad you got rid of those pesky pleasantries. They were really starting to waste time," Rory responded.

"Yes, now hurry, or they will go away."

"What channel?"


Rory groaned. "Not this again."

"There are Japanese guys on stilts, chop chop."

"Last time it was unicycles."

"And the time before it was pogo sticks. What is your point?"

"My point is, as glad as I am that you have discovered G4, I will remind you, once again, that I do not get that channel."

Lorelai paused, focused on the screen in front of her. "Oh yeah... Oh, one just fell in the water!"

"And every time you forget that."

She pushed a button on her remote. "And every time I push record so that you can watch it with me the next time you come over."

"Ah, the wonder that is TiVo."

"What did we ever do without it?" Lorelai laughed, as another man stepped up to attempt the obstacle course, only to fall as soon as the gate opened. "Want me to record the Cheaters marathon for you, too?"

"Nope, Cheaters is all you. I don't get the same sick pleasure as you do from it."

"Oh, right..." She picked up the remote and turned on the channel guide, scanning the contents. "What about Hurl!?"

"Please don't tell me you watch Hurl!."

"Fine, I won't record that either... I hate having the day off," Lorelai commented, sitting up slightly.

"Not usually."

"I know. I just keep thinking about all the stuff I have to do. Plus, I'm starving, and I've already gone through all the pre-prepared food in the house."

"So make something."

"You're funny... I want macaroni and cheese."

"Call Luke or Sookie, they'll make it for you."

"But not when I want it," Lorelai whined, rubbing her stomach in small circles.

"You're grumpy."

"You're Doc."

"Cute. Call Luke. Or Sookie. Or make it yourself, those are your options."

"Aren't you Little Miss Efficient."

"I fielded calls from Paris all day yesterday. This is the mood she has put me in."

"Fine, fine. I'll get up."

"That's a good idea. Go watch some more Ninja Warrior"

"Unbeatable Banzuke!" She corrected, gasping to feign outrage."There is a difference."

"Of course."

Lorelai sat up, stretching both hands up, and tilting her head so that the phone rested on her shoulder. "Call me later?"

"Sure. Bye, Mom."

"Bye, hon."

Sighing, Lorelai stood up, allowing the pillow that was once in her lap to slide down to the floor. She stepped over the array of throw pillows and blankets in her way, holding her arms out to balance, and walked into the kitchen. Her brow was wrinkled as she began to open up cabinets, pulling out boxes and putting them away with a frown. She came across a green box of macaroni, and set it on the counter, dropping the phone that was still in her hand next to it. She leaned on the counter, propped by her elbows, and read the instructions. "This can't be too hard, right? We won't call your dad," she said to the baby.

Lorelai opened a few more cabinets, until she found a huge pot, and took it over to the sink. After filling it up half way, she carried the pot over to the stove, and dropped it with a plop onto one of the burners, water sloshing. She turned on the burner and stepped back. After staring at the pot for a few seconds, she reached over and grabbed the box of macaroni, opened it and dumped the contents into the water. "There. Now it just has to get soft... Oh, wait!"

She rushed over to the fridge, rummaged around inside, and produced a block of cheddar cheese triumphantly. "I almost forgot." She pulled open a drawer and took out some scissors, cutting the plastic to take the cheese out. She looked into the pot, watched the macaroni soak in the water, then without another thought, dropped the block of cheese into the pot.

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There was a tremendous, impatient thudding at Rory's door, causing her to roll her eyes. "I'm coming, I'm coming," she yelled to the person outside.

"Open the door, Gilmore," came the person's reply, the voice unmistakable to Rory. As she approached the door, she didn't bother looking through the peephole, reaching for the deadbolt instead. She turned the lock, opened the door, and was greeted by Paris on the other side, her arms loaded down with books and magazines.

"My God, what were you doing? Crawling to the door?"

"And hello to you too, Paris. Won't you come in?"

She brushed past Rory and walked briskly into the living room, dropping her books on Rory's coffee table and taking a seat on the couch. She looked at Rory expectantly, crossing her arms over her chest. "Well, come on, we don't have very much time before my mother figures out where I am."

"Am I allowed to ask what you are doing here, at least? And why you aren't in Boston?"

"I'm here because she nearly came up there. And my Cambridge world cannot meet my mother. It cannot be possible. World implosion on an epic scale, Rory. I had to prevent it from happening."

"Oh my God, you ditched class!" Rory gasped, attempting to suppress a grin. "I can't believe you ditched. I bet it's driving you crazy to not know what's going on."

"Okay, yes, I ditched; are you happy? Happy to know that I'm not perfect? Happy to know that my foil, my kryptonite, is my mother coming up to Cambridge to discuss the wedding?" Paris paused, taking a deep breath. "She wants me to change my colors. It doesn't matter that I like my colors, or that I spent a lot of time choosing colors that were especially suited to our personalities and colorings. It doesn't matter that I have now chosen flowers, and linens, and dresses to coordinate these colors. No, the colors don't match her concept, her sick, twisted vision of the wedding she imagined for someone who clearly isn't me. So, now I have to change my colors, which is why I'm here. You go to weddings, you like this sort of thing. I need a selection process that's not so... scientific."

Rory sat next to Paris on the couch. "You need a break."

"I need a break," Paris agreed with a sigh. "Talk about you for a second. I need to regroup."

"Wow... really?"

"It's something new my therapist wants me to try. Don't get used to it."

Rory smiled. "Okay... well, I got in a car accident. And even though I was teetering before, I am staring down the barrel of dead broke. I have an interview scheduled at the Courant, but there's a part of me that still isn't sure about taking the job if it was offered to me."

Paris was quiet, looking at Rory carefully. "You'd be stupid not to take it."

Rory sighed. "I know. But I haven't even interviewed yet. It's not even a real possibility. I think I'm over-thinking it."

"Yes you are," Paris said shortly.

"You know it's times like these that I miss you."

Paris opened her mouth to respond, but before she could speak, her phone began to ring, a shrill cacophony of buzzes and tones. "God, she's found me."

"Ignore it," Rory said, picking up the phone and pressing the ignore button. "Let's go get some coffee."

"We can do that?" Paris asked, wide-eyed.

"We can and we will."

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"Lorelai? Are you home? I got an interesting phone call today." Luke closed the front door, tossing his keys on the entry table. He shrugged out of his army jacket and hung it on the peg of the coat rack.

"In the kitchen, Babe," she called out.

Luke walked purposefully towards the kitchen, his hands shoved in his front pockets.

"Hey. Where's April?" he asked from the entryway.

Lorelai put her plate on top of the mountain of pots and pans and assorted cooking implements that were already stacked precariously in the sink before turning and meeting Luke halfway. "She's at Melissa's. They're working on a science project for Mr. Turner's biology class. Something about recessive and dominant genes. They're charting how eye color is determined. April said that Melissa's mom would bring her home after. How was your day?" she asked, running her hand gently across his cheek as she leaned in and kissed him sweetly. "Did I hear you mention an interesting phone call?"

Luke pulled out a chair for Lorelai and motioned for her to sit. He sat as well, distractedly pushing aside various detritus that were accumulated on the table. "Anna called," he said, rubbing his hand across his chin. "Apparently she's moving back," he stated, a strange tone in his voice.

Lorelai tilted her head to the side, her forehead wrinkling in confusion. "Of course she's moving back; wasn't that the plan? I'm not following."

"She's flying back this Friday. She plans on her and April being in the house Saturday night." Luke pushed away from the table and started pacing. "It's so fast. I wasn't expecting it to happen so quickly. What kind of notice is that? I thought we'd have more time with her," he ranted.

Lorelai walked over to Luke and gently rubbed his arms. "Okay, calm down. Tell me what Anna said."

Taking a deep breath he began, "Well basically, she's lined up a job managing a boutique. Sounds like there is an opportunity for her to buy it from the owner down the road. She's also renting a house from a woman she used to do business with," he said.

"Wow, fast turnaround."

"That's what I had said, but apparently the original applicant backed out. So Anna was able to secure it without any real delay. Plus, it helped that she knows the owner. Anyway," he continued, "Anna said that the house isn't too far from her job."

"What's the name of the boutique? Do you know?" Lorelai asked.

"Um, Yesterday, something or other."

"Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow?"

"Yeah. That's it," he concurred.

"Oh. I've been there. It's not too far out of town. It's been around for a while."

"She also mentioned that April would still be able to go to Stars Hollow High."

"Well see, that's a plus," she said encouragingly. "You'll be able to see her after school."

"It's not the same, Lorelai. I'm used to her being here. Having her try to sucker an extra hour of reading time before bed. Watching you two chatter endlessly about who was cuter from the Rat Pack."

"Brat Pack," she chuckled.

"Whatever. And what about breakfast? You heard her; she's been working on her wrist flick for the pancakes."

Lorelai sighed softly. "Hon, listen to me. It's true she won't be here like she is now. But you said so yourself, Anna seemed more open to discussing the custody agreement. I bet you'll be able to work something out. You're not losing her Luke; it's just going to be different. April loves you; that's not going to change."

Luke breathed out slowly, contemplating Lorelai's words. "I suppose we should wait and see what happens. Why make myself crazy, right? April's not going anywhere, I'll see her, I'll make sure of that," he said with determination. He gathered Lorelai to him, enveloping her in his arms. "Thanks for talking me off the ledge."

"My pleasure; I know it's scary out there."

Luke pulled back from Lorelai, finally taking in the condition of the kitchen. His eyes landed on the overflowing sink, on the cluttered stove top, and on the table covered in refuse. Shaking his head puzzled, he muttered, "Have you been cooking?"

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The living room was warm from the small fire that blazed gently. The flames cast a lovely glow onto the glass bottles on the drink cart. Richard stood in front of the cart holding the sterling silver shaker towards Emily. Motioning to it with his left hand he asked, "Martini?"

"Yes please, that would be lovely."

Richard took the shaker, and poured the chilled martini into two crystal glasses, adding a twist. Walking around the corner of the couch he handed Emily her drink. "Here you are, my dear. Just the way you like it."

"Thank you, Richard," she said, taking a sip. "Perfect."

"Yes, it is good, isn't it? There's nothing like an ice cold Stolichnaya martini."

Nodding in agreement, Emily set her glass on the table beside her, before settling back against the couch cushions. "I read a very interesting article in the Courant today."

"Did you?"

"Yes; it was a piece in the Arts and Leisure section about the spa industry. Did you know that there are close to 15,000 spas nationwide, and that approximately 80 percent of those are day spas? But what I found most interesting is whom they are catering to. According to the article, 48 percent of the spas offer packages to men, 46 percent to couples and 45 percent to pregnant women. Tasha was correct about that. They even mentioned over a third of spas have teen packages as well as ones geared towards seniors."

"Covering all the bases, I'd say."

"Yes, I made a point to save the article to show Lorelai. The possibilities for expansion are endless. It's a multi-billion dollar industry, you know."


"That's right, billion. In 2006 alone it was over 9 billion."

"That's fascinating. I had no idea."

"I found the article to be very eye-opening. The Courant is always quite informative."

"I agree, it is an excellent publication."

Emily's eyes widened in realization. "Oh! That reminds me, speaking of the Courant, Richard, have you talked to Rory about the job prospect?" she asked excitedly.

Richard hesitated before answering, his brow slightly furrowed, "Um, no, Emily, I haven't. The opportunity hasn't presented itself," he hedged, hoping that would satisfy her.

Emily however was undeterred as she pressed on, "It really was quite the fortunate accident, wasn't it? Rory meeting Robert Zucker at traffic school, although the circumstances weren't ideal. Oh, I know, I have a marvelous idea," she said her eyes lighting up. "We should invite Robert and his wife over for dinner. We could have Rory here as well. It would give Robert the chance to meet Rory in a more favorable environment. What do you think, Richard?"

Richard paused and sniffed the air. "Speaking of dinner, what's that heavenly smell?"

"It's Cornish game hens in a raspberry demi-glaze," she answered tersely, puzzled by his subject change. "Now, getting back to the dinner with Robert, I could call Elaine tomorrow."

"Emily, I don't think that's a wise idea."

Emily stiffened, but before she could respond, the maid entered the living room. "Come and get it, y'all.

"Honestly," Emily muttered under her breath, clearly unamused. "What's next, a clanging triangle, announcing dinner?"

"Shall we, Emily?" Richard asked, offering his arm to her.

Emily was quiet as Richard escorted her to the dining room. He pulled out her chair making sure she was settled before seating himself. It only took a moment before the tense silence was broken.

"I would have thought that you would feel this was a wonderful opportunity for Rory," she asked incredulously.

"I do think that. Robert is a fine fellow and he's highly respected in his field. Rory would be very lucky to work for him."

"Then I'm confused, Richard. If you think that Rory would benefit from this opportunity, what's the problem in giving Rory a little push in that direction?"

"The problem is that we both know that pushing doesn't work. It didn't work with Lorelai and as we found out, it doesn't work with Rory, either. Lest we forget the pool house fiasco as well as the disagreement we just had recently about her car accident?"

"Yes, Richard, but—"

"Emily," he interrupted. "Rory is a talented writer, but more importantly, a smart woman. She can recognize an excellent opportunity when presented with one. That being said, only she can decide if this is the path she wishes to take. Now I know it's hard to stand idly by when our first instinct is to make that path easier to navigate, but that is what we have to do. Will you trust me on this, my dear?"

"Yes, Richard, I'll trust you." Emily picked up her fork and began to push her potatoes around the plate, a faraway look on her face.

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫

"Hello," came Sookie's cheery voice over the line, followed quickly by, "Alfredo, those are tarts. I wanted a tort. Fix please."

"I'm so glad you picked up," Lorelai said, keeping her voice low, though no one was home to hear her speak. Bowls and ingredients were spread across the kitchen counter and Lorelai had a Luke's Diner apron tied around her waist. "I have questions that only you can answer."

"Oooo, you are whispering. Are we conspiring? I love conspiring. Is it something for Luke? Is it for Valentine's Day? Need me to make you something? Oh, Alfredo can bring you by some of this tort he is about to make. Luke would love that."

"Wow, so many questions, I do not know where to begin."

Sookie giggled. "Sorry, not a lot of excitement in the kitchen today. What's up?"

"Okay, this is going to be a weird question, but say a person is making brownies, and say that person doesn't have any cocoa powder. Could they use Nesquick?"

"Nesquick? As in chocolate milk?"

"Yes," Lorelai answered, holding the yellow box in her hands, and turning around to read the label.

"What exactly are you doing?"

"Oh, you know... watching one of those Food Network Challenge thingies. They ran out of cocoa, and bam, commercial break. The suspense is killing me."

"Well, did they have any unsweetened baking chocolate?" Sookie asked, sounding suspicious.

"Uh," Lorelai stalled, picking up boxes in front of her and reading the labels. "Nope, don't remember seeing any."

"What about semi-sweet chocolate?"

"Um... yes!" she shouted, picking up a bag of chocolate chips. "Well, chocolate chips. Does that work?"

"Yeah, that could work. They would just have to melt it down."

"Okay, I think they have time to do that." Lorelai pulled out a saucepan from the cabinet next to the stove, and dumped the bag of chocolate chips inside, not bothering to measure. "What about this whole teaspoon-tablespoon thing? What's the difference?"

"A tablespoon is larger than a teaspoon. Three teaspoons equal a tablespoon."

"Ah, okay, and which one is a regular spoon. How does that factor into it?"

"It doesn't?"

"Really? Huh." Lorelai picked up the spoon she had lying on the table and put it back in the silverware drawer.

"What are you watching again?"

"Some Food Network show. World's Best Brownies, or World's Biggest Brownies. Something like that."

"Never seen it."

"Oh, you should, it's a good one." Lorelai picked up a measuring cup and began to dump sugar into the mixing bowl in front of her. Her nose wrinkled, and she sniffed the air, her expression turning to a frown as she attempted to find the source of the smell. "Damn it!" she exclaimed, looking down to see the chocolate on the stove smoking.

"What? What's happening? You have me engrossed now."

Lorelai fanned the smoke with a towel and turned off the burner. She coughed. "I, uh... .They burned the damn chocolate!"


"I... I mean, they don't have any more chocolate."

"What are they going to do?"

"I don't know!" Lorelai nearly shouted, taking the saucepan over to the sink and turning on the water. "But I am clearly very worried about them."

"They'll probably have to use the Nesquick now," Sookie said with a laugh.

"You think that would work?"

"Nope, but it would be funny."

Lorelai clapped a hand over her mouth to keep from groaning audibly. She tilted her head and looked in the general direction of Babette's house. "Maybe they can borrow ingredients from their neighbor."

"Maybe, but have you ever seen that happening on these shows."

"No," Lorelai practically whimpered, turning off the water in the sink and inspecting the damage.

"What's happening now?"

"Scrambling. Lots and lots of scrambling. Many much scrambling, if you will."

"This episode keeps getting better and better. You should record it for me."

"Can't!" Lorelai stated, a little too enthusiastically. "Luke has, uh, one of his sports shows recording, and I don't like to upset the balance."

"Too bad."

"Yeah."Lorelai walked over to the counter again, realizing there was no hope for her semisweet chocolate substitute, and picked up one of Luke's brownie recipe cards. "Hey, while I still have you here, the oven is just a suggestion, right? You could cook brownies in the microwave and it would still work, right? Or just turn the temperature up really high and you wouldn't have to cook it as long."


"And brownie pans," Lorelai interjected. "That's gotta be just a guideline. You could use a meatloaf pan and it would be fine, right?"

"Meatloaf pans?"

"Yeah, because that chef on the show is using one. He may not have been able to reach the regular pan because he's... round."

"Oh my God, you're cooking!"

"What? I am not! You know me, I don't cook." Lorelai picked up the mixing bowl and slid it into one of the open cabinets, even though Sookie could not see what she was doing.

"You are! I don't believe it. Turn off the oven now! You shouldn't be around heat!"

"Hey! I have spent countless years making tater tots without burning down the house."

"Yes, but those weren't Nesquick brownies made in meatloaf pans... I'm coming over!"

"No, don't, please! I've learned the error of my ways." She frantically began putting boxes and bags back into the pantry.

"I'm coming... let me just..Manny! Manny, make sure Alfredo is making torts and not tarts. And please—"

Lorelai heard a crash from the other line, and a squeal. "Sookie?"

"I'm fine! I'm fine. I forgot this phone had a cord, but I'm fine... But probably won't be able to come over."

"Jeez, are you all right? What was it? Your elbow again?"

"Ankle and knee."

"Tell Manny to get you some ice."

"Okay, I need to try to sit up. No ovens until I can show you how to use one."

"Okay," Lorelai agreed, staring at the oven intently.

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫

The diner had slowed down, experiencing the usual lull that occurred after lunch. Luke knew that it would pick up as soon as the high school let out. Glancing at the clock on the wall he saw that it was 2:59. He went back to wiping the counter, straightening up the condiments as he went. Looking up he saw the doors to the high school fling open as the steady stream of students came rushing out. He smiled when he saw April heading towards the diner. Soon the bell above the door jingled as April bounced through the door. "Hey, Dad."

"Hey, kiddo, how was school?"

April walked to the counter, plopping her backpack on the stool. "Oh, you know, same old, same old."

"Not really, care to be a bit more specific?"

"Um. Let's see, quiz, quiz, lectures, notes, lab, lunch, more notes, group studies, more lectures, dismissal, that about covers it."

"Sounds exciting," he said, rolling his eyes.

"It was, actually. I forgot to mention the interesting news."

"Interesting, huh? I'm all ears."

"Well," she started, "Remember Freddy?"

"'Apple Brown Betty', Freddy?"

April rolled her eyes. "Yes, Dad, that Freddy. Anyway, he shows up in my English Lit class, apparently he transferred from Woodbridge High. You should have seen him Dad, he's way taller now, and he's got kinda spiky hair, and are you ready for this, an earring. The girls were totally checking him out."

Luke crossed his arms across his chest. "Oh yeah? How 'bout you, were you checking him out, too? 'Cause I'm not sure I'm comfortable with my daughter ogling an earring wearing, spiky haired 16 year old Casanova."

"Dad, didn't we have this conversation like three years ago? Remember the field trip? I'm allowed to like boys now," she giggled. "Don't worry, you'll be the first to know if we decide to run away together."

"How 'bout I just lock you up in a tower instead?" he said, his tone sounding like he was only half joking.

"Will there be cheeseburgers in this tower? 'Cause I'm starved."

Luke smiled. "Coming right up."

A few minutes later, Luke handed April her plate. It not only had the cheeseburger, but a generous helping of fries.

"Figured you'd want some fries with that," he said knowingly.

"You figured right." April took a bite and muttered appreciatively, "Great burger, Dad. Is that a different cheddar?"

"Yeah, trying some different brands that my supplier suggested."

"Well, I think it's a definite winner."

"Good, I'll keep that in mind."

While April continued eating, Luke went back to wiping the counter, his hand going back and forth automatically, not really paying attention to the task at hand. His brows were furrowed in concentration.

"Hey, Dad? Earth to Dad."

"Uh, yeah? Sorry, was zoning there for a second."

"You okay?"

"I'm fine, just have things on my mind." Not wanting April to worry about him, he jokingly added, "You know me, I always have stuff rolling around up there."

"That is true. Sooo, I was wondering, if maybe we could check out the new place that mom rented. I mean, I know we can't go inside or anything until mom gets the keys, but I'm really curious to see what it looks like and what kind of stuff is around. What do ya say, want to scope it out with me?"

"Well, I suppose we could," he said, hesitating slightly. "We'd have to go home first; I don't have the address with me."

April jumped up and grabbed her backpack. "Oh, I do, Mom gave it to me when I talked to her last night, I even MapQuested it. I put it in my organizer."

Luke watched as April dug through her backpack. "MapQuested huh? You're very prepared." Seeing the look of excitement on April's face as she unearthed the paper, Luke relented, not wanting to put a damper on her spirits. "Tell you what, when Brian gets here, we'll go take a look. How does that sound?"

"Sounds great, Dad. You're the best," she squealed. "I could help you until Brian gets here. Need me to bus some tables while I wait?"

"That would be great," he said wistfully, as he watched her bounce off to the table by the window.

♫   ♫   ♫  

With April's MapQuest directions they were able to find the neighborhood without any problems. Although it was still technically in Stars Hollow, it bordered more closely to the neighboring town. Driving down the tree-lined street, Luke couldn't help but notice April's eyes widen as she took in the surroundings.

"This neighborhood looks pretty, don't you think, Dad? Got kinda a Norman Rockwell vibe to it. I like how all the houses aren't sardined together."

"Yeah, looks nice." Luke pulled over to the curb cutting off the engine. "This is it: 2131 Ellis Street. You want to hop out and look around?"

"Can we? That would be awesome."

"Sure, I don't see the harm; as long as we don't go through any closed gates we should be fine."

Getting out of the truck, April walked up the path to the front door, noticing the porch that wrapped around the house, with a swing in the corner.

"Look, Dad, it's got a porch like the Crap Shack. And it has a porch swing, too. That's so cool. Mom and I had a porch swing in New Mexico. We used to sit outside and talk after I had finished my homework. "

"Sounds nice."

"Yeah, I miss Mom. I can't wait to see her on Friday. It was good for us to be with Grandma at the end, but I'm glad she sent me back to Stars Hollow to be with you and Lorelai. Is that bad?" she asked worriedly. "That I left Mom in New Mexico?"

"No, not bad," he answered truthfully. "Your mom just wanted to spare you all stuff that went with settling your grandma's estate. Plus, it got me time with you. How could I think that was bad?" Luke took a deep breath. "I just want you to know April, that even though you'll be back with your mom, I don't want you to ever think you can't come to me if you are having problems or just want to talk. I will always be there for you. Now, I know that I can be a bit..."

"Overprotective?" she teased.

"I was going to say cautious, but overprotective works. I know I can be overprotective," he started again. "But it's only because I want what's best for you. And that's not ever going to change no matter what your address says. Got that?"

"Got it, Dad."


♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫

"Hello, hello, hello!" Lorelai nearly shouted, after opening the front door and finding Luke and April walking up the stairs.

"Wow," April said, perplexed. "Cheerful."

"Mood swing. Just go with it," Luke answered in a low voice. "Hey," he directed to Lorelai.

"Saw you guys drive up," Lorelai clarified. "Well, how was it?"

"Fantastic! Gorgeous!" April exalted with a grin. "You know, I don't think my mother has ever lived in an ugly house. She has a talent for finding the prettiest houses at the right time."

"Did you take pictures?" Lorelai asked, gesturing Luke and April inside. She shot a pointed look at Luke, and he shrugged in response, his expression worn and somber.

"No, I forgot the camera. But, it's so pretty there, Lorelai. You should have come with us. There are flower boxes, and since Mom doesn't have a green thumb to speak of, I can do experiments there... And did you know how close it was to Melissa's house? We drove by it on the way home. Plus, it's close to some of my friends in Woodbridge. It's just a win-win-win situation."

"Sounds like it, hon."

They walked into the living room, and Luke immediately sank into an arm chair, crossing his arms and sighing. She smiled at him, and he managed a small smirk back. She sat on the couch next to April.

"Dad said he could help me rig an irrigation system in the flower boxes. That would be ideal for experiments. The more controlled the environment, the better."

"That's great," Lorelai said with a shrug, attempting to elicit a response from Luke. He caught her eye.

"Yeah," he responded, immediately looking down at his hands.

Her brow furrowed as she studied Luke. "April, one of your friends called when you were out. I left the message in your room. Kayla? Kyla? Kyler? Kailey?"



"Oh," April said, biting her lip. "She's my partner for our history project. I should call her back tonight."

She stood, brushing off her jeans at the knees, and then made her way into the bedroom closing the door behind her.

"Luke?" she ventured, concerned.

He sighed again, resting his head against the back of the chair. He closed his eyes. "I'm fine. I just... don't want to talk about it yet."

"Okay. I can live with that." Lorelai stood, tilting her head as she continued to look at Luke sympathetically. "Oh, I made you something today."

He opened his eyes. "Yeah? Do I want to know?"

"Five hours ago? No. But I did a little tweaking, a little creative thinking and voila! Brownies á la Lorelai. I'll go get them."

She exited the room, returning seconds later with a plate full of brownies cut into imperfect squares. She smiled, presenting the plate to Luke with a flourish.

"You used the oven?"


"No, but the voicemail from Sookie suddenly makes sense... Hand one over."

Lorelai grinned, passing the plate over to Luke. He scrutinized the brownies carefully, picked up the smallest one off to the side, and attempted to break it in half. It held fast for a few seconds, and then succumbed to the force of Luke's wrists, breaking with a poof of dried batter in the air. He looked at Lorelai apprehensively.

"Yeah, I used a higher temperature than the recipe suggested," she offered in explanation. "And used Nesquick, because we didn't have any cocoa power, even though Sookie said it wouldn't work. Then I got a little creative and added peanut M&Ms. That should vouch for the color."

Luke took a crispy bite of the edge of the brownie in his hand. Once in his mouth his eyebrows shot up and he chewed slowly. He shot Lorelai a small smile, still chewing.

"They're awful, aren't they?"

Luke shrugged, still chewing.

"You're humoring me," Lorelai noticed, placing one hand on her hip.

He shrugged again.

"You want a napkin to spit it out in, don't you?"

Luke rolled his eyes, and then nodded, still chewing.

Lorelai frowned. "Damn brownies." Then she reached over to the coffee table and handed him a box of tissues.

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫

Rory sprawled on the couch, her head propped up on the armrest. The constant clicking of the remote control echoed in the quiet room. As quickly as Rory landed on a program, she was off again to the next one. Periodically she would glance at her laptop that stood open at the end of the coffee table, before going back to flipping through the channels. She stopped on a medical show, shuddering and closing her eyes when the doctor began to expose the patient's organs, pushing the button forcefully to the next channel. Reality shows, cooking shows, home improvement shows; she stopped briefly on all of them.

"Basic cable sucks," she muttered.

Looking at the laptop yet again, Rory sighed. She pushed herself up, and put her feet down on the floor. Pulling the computer toward her, Rory stared at the screen. Again. In the last couple of days, she had been doing that a lot. Deciding first to check her emails, Rory entered her password. Once her emails popped up she took a cursory glance at the inbox in front of her. Many of the subjects were typical if not a bit disturbing: product information from her cell phone provider touting the latest improvements, special sales offers from different stores, a reminder from her dentist that her six month cleaning was fast approaching, and even a Viagra ad. Rory quickly bypassed those and focused on the emails from two of the different publications she had submitted samples to. Deciding to open the one from Connecticut Magazine first, she clicked on the message. Rory's eyes scanned the email.

Dear Ms. Gilmore,

Thank you for your interest in Connecticut Magazine. We appreciate you taking the time to submit some sample articles. Unfortunately, at this time we have no writing positions available. We wish you luck in your endeavors.

Raymond Buckley, Editor
Connecticut Magazine.

Rory shook her head, disappointment written on her face. She hesitated slightly before clicking on the next link. She couldn't help but sigh when she finished reading. The email was polite and concise and another let down. Rory slumped forward leaning her elbows on her knees, trying to not let the rejection get to her.

"Well at least there's still the Courant, right?" she sighed.

Her fingers began to fly fast and furious over the keys. Multiple tabs were opened, as she continued to surf. But for every new site she would visit, Rory found herself constantly returning to the Hartford Courant website. Rory's cell phone began to ring, breaking her concentration.


"Rory, it's Paris. I need you to come over. My mother is driving me crazy. She just won't stop with the insane opinions."

"Paris, I can't. I'm right in the middle of trying to scrounge up some work, and frankly, it isn't going very well," she answered tersely.

"Well, I'm sorry if my crises are cutting into your schedule, Rory. You are my maid of honor after all."

"No, Paris, I'm sorry," she answered contritely. "I didn't mean to snap at you. It's just that two magazines that I submitted some sample work to aren't interested and I'm just feeling a little down about it."

"Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't we already have a similar conversation just the other day? What about the Hartford Courant, that's a perfect opportunity for you. You'd be working at a well respected paper. Did you even have the interview yet?"

"No, not yet, but that's not the point. I just don't want to be offered something based on who I know. And there's no guarantee I'd get the job anyway."

"So let me get this straight, just because this guy knows your grandfather, you're actually considering not pursuing this opportunity? Wow, you must really think your writing sucks."

"Hey! I don't think my writing sucks; I'm a damn good writer. I've been published, remember?" she asked indignantly.

"Oh, I remember, thought maybe you forgot there for a second. Big deal if he knows your grandfather. Let your work speak for itself."

"Thanks, Paris," she said sincerely.

"Okay, so now that that's settled can we focus back on me please? Are you coming over or not, because frankly I'm this close to strangling my mother."

Rory smirked as she closed her computer. "I'll be right over."

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫

The music of Chuck Berry played in the background, as Richard sat in the study. Notes for his upcoming lecture were strewn on the desk in front of him and a book to his left was opened to chapter 14. He stopped briefly and listened to a favorite guitar riff, smiling to himself when he realized he had been tapping out the beat with his pen. Richard went back to reading the economics book, but found himself rereading the same passages over and over. The conversation with Emily about the Courant position kept playing through his head. He stood by his earlier statements about pushing Rory, but perhaps he could just inquire about the status.

"It never hurts to show an interest," he muttered.

Reaching for the telephone he punched in the first six digits. He hesitated slightly, his finger poised over the number five. Taking a deep breath, Richard pushed the button. As he waited for the phone to connect, he gathered his thoughts, determined to be inquisitive in a subtle way.


"Hello, Rory, it's your grandfather."

"Oh hi, Grandpa, how are you?" she asked, a bit surprised by the impromptu phone call.

"Fine, I'm been quite busy with my economics lectures, but I must say I'm thoroughly enjoying them."

Rory leaned on the counter in the kitchen. "That sounds great, Grandpa." Grabbing a soda from the refrigerator, she headed to the couch. "Sounds like you have your hands full."

"Not only do I have my lectures but I'm actually in the planning stages of organizing a mentoring program for students who are interested in learning the practical applications of their economics courses versus being out in the actual work force. While I whole-heartedly believe that you can garner valuable knowledge from the written word, there's nothing quite like the actual day to day hands on experience of a job well done. Don't you agree?"

"Yes, I do. Yale was amazing and I learned so much there, but there's something about putting yourself out there and seeing what your hard work can get you."

"Speaking of work, how's that going? Anything promising on the horizon?" he asked casually.

"It's going, I have some feelers out. Nothing as of yet, but I'm still waiting on some replies."

Richard paused. "Ah, I see."

"Grandpa, is there something on your mind?"

Richard leaned back in his chair. "I got an interesting call from Robert Zucker the other day. He mentioned meeting you."

"We did, at traffic school, actually."

"Yes, he mentioned that. He certainly is an interesting man. Being in the newspaper business as long as he has, he's really seen a lot over the years. Always fascinating to talk to him. It was good to catch up."

Rory was very curious to see where this conversation was heading. "Was that all that you two did, catch up?" she asked.

"Well, he may also have mentioned that he gave you his card, something about sending him your portfolio."

"Ha, I knew it. Grandpa, you could have just asked me about it, you know," she chuckled. "You didn't have to beat around the bush."

"I didn't want to seem like I was pushing you. I tend to tread more cautiously as of late," he answered truthfully.

"Grandpa, I know that we've had rough patches in the past and I also know that a good portion of that is my fault. I'll let you in on a little secret, I can be stubborn at times wanting to do things in my own time and my own way," she teased.

"A Gilmore trait, my dear."

"But Grandpa, if I'm being honest, I am worried that Mr. Zucker is only extending this opportunity based on the fact that he knows you. I need it to be based on the merit of my work and not on the Gilmore name."

"That is very admirable trait. I have no doubt that your talent will shine though," he said sincerely.

"Thank you. And just so we're clear, I want you to know that you are someone whose opinion I trust and I don't want you to ever feel you can't share your thoughts with me. Okay?"


"Good. Now that that's settled," she began, kicking off her shoes and lounging back on the couch, "let's get comfortable and you can tell me your thoughts on the subject. How does that sound?"

"It sounds marvelous."

"Oh, and Grandpa, good choice of music by the way."

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫

"Is this the last box?" Luke called out to Lorelai who was rummaging in the back of her jeep. He picked up the box and closed the tailgate of his truck. They were in front of Anna's new house, moving the last of April's things into the house.

"I think so, but I'm giving the jeep one last look-through, just in case we forgot something."

"When the hell did she accumulate all this stuff? She didn't come here with all of this."

"No, but Anna sent packages of her things down. And there may have been a few trips to Target since then."

"Jeez... I'll just take this inside."

Luke walked up the path to the house, hoisting the box up higher to redistribute the weight. The door was cracked open, and he used his foot to open it the rest of the way. April's boxes were stacked high in the foyer, and he placed the box he was carrying on top of the smallest stack. He heard laughing coming from the living room, and he looked around the foyer wall.

April and Anna were sitting cross-legged on the wood floor, facing each other, and surrounded by boxes and furniture. April was telling her mother a story, probably the same one she had told him on the way over to the house, and Anna was smiling and laughing at all the appropriate moments. He sighed, frowning as he watched them interact.

"Hey," Lorelai said quietly, wrapping an arm around his waist as she came up behind him. "She almost forgot her pillow."

"I don't get to see this very often," he said, gesturing to April and Anna. "The two of them interacting like this. They fit, like you and Rory."

"You and April fit, too."

"Yeah, but it's... different... It's good that Anna's home, for April."

Lorelai shot him a sympathetic look. "You want to take off and leave them to unpack?"

"Yeah," he sighed. "We probably should."

Lorelai picked up his hand and led him into the living room. "Hey, we're taking off."

"Aw, leaving so soon?" April asked, pulling herself up off the floor.

"Yeah," Lorelai responded. "This one could use a nap." She pointed to her stomach.

April walked over and wrapped her arms around Luke tightly. "Thanks for everything, Dad."

He hesitated at first, but when April didn't release him, he put both arms around her and kissed the top of her head. "It's no problem."

Anna joined the group, arms crossed casually. "Yes, Luke, Lorelai, thank you. I owe you guys."

Lorelai shrugged. "Not at all. Anything for April."

April and Luke pulled apart. "I'll come by the diner after school on Monday. Maybe I could get a job in Stars Hollow."

He shot a look at Anna, her expression wide-eyed. "We'll talk about that later. I'll see you on Monday."

"And we'll talk soon," Anna said, gesturing between the two of them.

"Sure. As soon as you both get settled."

"We should probably go," Lorelai said quietly, reaching for Luke's hands and squeezing it. April gave her a quick hug.

A chorus of "goodbye"s and "see you soon"s were called out to Luke and Lorelai, and hand in hand, they walked out the door and to their respective cars.

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫

Rory had been staring at her cell phone for nearly an hour, attempting to avoid the inevitable. "You won't know until you ask," she kept telling herself, but the fear of offending the man who had told her about the job in the first place had kept her away from the phone.

"I should call," she told herself, picking up the phone and then immediately setting it down again. "I should definitely call," she told the phone. She picked up Robert Zucker's business card from the coffee table, studying the number carefully. "Okay... okay... I'm going to do it."

Without another moment's hesitation, she picked up the phone and punched in the number, wincing slightly as she pressed 'send' and listened to the dial tone. She bit her lip.

"Hartford Courant, Robert Zucker's office, how may I help you?" came a reassuring female voice on the other line, soft and unhurried.

"Yes, I, uh... Is Mr. Zucker perhaps available to speak with me for a few minutes?"

"Do you have a call-in appointment?"

"No," Rory admitted, wrinkling her nose. "I could leave a message for him if he is busy."

"I believe he is in between meetings at the moment, and may be available. Who may I ask is calling?"

"Lorelai Gilmore... Well, Rory Gilmore. He knows me as Rory."

"Please hold, Ms. Gilmore."

Soft classical music was turned on, and Rory impatiently drummed the armrest of her couch, fighting the urge to hang up the phone. All too soon, the secretary came back on the line.

"Ms. Gilmore?"


"Mr. Zucker has a few minutes available to speak to you. I will put you through to his office."

"Thank you," Rory responded meekly, her eye wide.

"Rory Gilmore," Robert Zucker's voice boomed a few seconds later. "Hope the roads have been treating you better than when we last met."

She smiled. "I. uh... yes. Much."

"Good to hear. What can I do for you?"

"I... Well, I've had something that's been bothering me since you told me about this job... And, don't get me wrong, because I'm glad you told me about it, and a part of me would love to work at a newspaper with a large circulation... I just... I don't think I'm putting this well," she stammered, putting her head in hands. Her cheeks were now flushed and she closed her eyes tight.

"Yes, I'm not entirely sure that I'm following... We have an interview set next week, am I correct?" Rory heard him shuffle papers over the line. "Next Friday at 9:00."

"Yes, we do."

"Are you still able to make this interview?"

"Yes, sir, I am." Rory sucked in a deep breath, sitting back and sinking into her couch cushions. "I guess, I just wanted to make sure that this interview was based on me and my merits and not... other reasons... Wow, that sounds very offensive, and I apologize."

Rober Zucker paused on the other line. "Other reasons?"

"Namely, you know my grandfather," she admitted.

"Ah... and you want to make sure that didn't offer you this interview based on name and connections?"

"Yes." She bit her lip again, holding in a breath. "Mr. Zucker, I'm very sorry. I probably shouldn't have called—"

"No," he said, interrupting her rambling. "You are honest and I appreciate that in both a journalist and a person. You want the truth?"

"Yes, please."

"I'm always on the search for new writers, Ms. Gilmore. There is a lot of raw, untapped talent in freelancing, and I feel that it is my job to take these writers to the next level. So, if I happen to meet a freelance journalist, I ask for a portfolio. Sometimes I give them a call when a job opens up, sometimes I don't. You were just fortunate that my asking for your portfolio corresponded with a job opening up in features." He paused again, and more shuffling could be heard. "Now, as for your grandfather, he is a good man that I have known and respected for quite some time. Our social circles have interacted since Yale, and I'm sure that along the way, he mentioned that he had a granddaughter in the journalism field... But, this interview has absolutely nothing to do with my prior connection to your grandfather. I have read your portfolio, and read some of your other work, and you have talent. Now it's time to see if you would be a good fit in the Courant. Does that clear things up for you?"

"Yes," she sighed. "It really does."

"Good... Now, can I answer any more questions for you before your interview?"

"No... I think I'm good. I'm sorry again, Mr. Zucker."

"Not a problem, Ms. Gilmore. I respect the fact that you want this job based on what you can do and not based any other factor. Shall we consider this subject dropped?"

"Yes, thank you."

"So, Friday at 9:00?"

"Friday at 9:00," Rory confirmed, allowing herself to sink into the couch more comfortably.

"I look forward to speaking to you again in person, Rory Gilmore."

"Thank you again, Mr. Zucker," Rory said, and stayed on the line until she heard him hang up. Then, she let out a long held breath and closed her eyes in relief.

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫

The sound of Richard's newspaper rustling was punctuated by Bertha's humming cheerfully as she scurried around the dining room. He looked up from his paper. "When the Saints Coming Marching In?" he asked, smiling.

"Yes, indeedy, my grandpappy was always singing 'round the house. Said there was nothing like it to chase the ole blues away."

"Well isn't that lovely," Emily said sarcastically. "Perhaps you can fall back on that one day," she muttered under her breath. She set her planner aside and motioned to the antique serving dish. "Scone, Richard?"

"By all means, they smell heavenly."

"Bertha, please serve Mr. Gilmore a scone," Emily said primly.

"Yes, ma'am," she drawled.

The maid placed the scone on the gold edged plate that sat in front of Richard, before returning the serving dish back to the table. "Here you are, Hon. How about some honey butter to go with that? It looks mighty tasty. Everything's better with butter, my mamma always says."

"I believe I would. Thank you, Bertha."

Emily's eyebrows shot up. "Remember, not too much, Richard, we're trying to eat healthier.

"I remember, but it's Sunday after all, a little indulgence is fine." Richard tore the scone in two and breathed deeply as the aroma of cinnamon and brown sugar rose up. "If this tastes half as good as it smells, I'm in for a treat."

Taking the butter dish from the maid, Richard placed it next to his plate. He slathered first one half then the other generously with the honey butter before taking his first bite. He moaned in appreciation. "This is simply delicious," he said enthusiastically.

"Now didn't I tell ya? Almost as good as some sugar from the missus." She winked.

Emily cleared her throat. "Thank you, Bertha," she interrupted. "I'll take some more tea please."

"I'll be back in two shakes on a hound dog's tail," she said as she scurried to the kitchen.

Bertha came back from the kitchen a moment later with the silver teapot in her hand. "Mrs. Gilmore, would you like for me to have Cook begin the omelets?" she inquired.

"No, not quite yet. You may bring them out in ten minutes. That will allow us time to finish our scones," Emily instructed.

"And perhaps have another, Emily?" Richard added jovially.

Emily simply shook her head.

"Here you go, ma'am," the maid said as she poured the Earl Grey into Emily's bone china teacup.

"Thank you, Bertha. That will be all for now. And please remind Cook to use the imported Havarti cheese in the omelet," she said succinctly.

The maid nodded in acknowledgment. "Sure thing, Mrs. Gilmore," she said before turning back towards the kitchen.

Bertha arrived with the omelets precisely ten minutes later, placing one in front of Emily, before walking to the opposite end of the table and doing the same in front of Richard.

"Dig in, folks. You're in for a treat."

"Thank you, Bertha, you may go about your other duties. I'll call you when it's time to clear," Emily answered crisply.

"Yes, ma'am, Mrs. Gilmore, you just holler if y'all need anything else," she drawled sweetly.

"Charming," Richard chuckled, digging into his omelet with relish. "So what do you have planned for today, Emily?" Richard inquired, looking up from his plate.

"Oh, I thought I'd catch up on my correspondences. I also need to make some phone calls in regards to a DAR luncheon that I'm hosting later this month. Some of the finer details need to be ironed out."

"Well, you make sure you take time to relax, it is Sunday after all," he said reaching for his newspaper.

Emily smiled and nodded in agreement. "I will, Richard. Thank you for your concern," she replied sincerely. She reached for her teacup and took a sip enjoying the soothing beverage.

Richard looked up from his paper. "Oh, I forgot to mention, I talked to Rory."

Emily's eyes widened as she peered over her teacup. "Did you? That's interesting," she replied trying to sound casual.

Richard smiled, his eyes twinkling in amusement at the feigned nonchalance Emily was displaying.

"Yes, we had a lovely conversation," he said going back to his paper.

Emily waited for Richard to continue but soon realized he had no intention of doing so. "So, what did you two talk about?" she asked venturing ahead.

"Oh, you know, a little bit of this, a little bit of that," he answered acting distracted, a subtle smirk on his face.

Emily put down her teacup abruptly, all pretense of her previous casual air gone as she let out an exasperated groan. "Honestly, Richard," she snapped. "Must you be so vague?"

"Forgive me, Emily," Richard chuckled. "I was only teasing you. Perhaps you'll allow me to make it up to you, dinner this evening at Mill on the River?"

"That sounds lovely, Richard," she said, her voice softening. Emily paused briefly before quickly adding, "Now, tell be about your phone call with Rory."

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫

Rory sat hunched over a newspaper at her kitchen counter, tapping her pencil eraser on the Formica. Her cereal had been eaten and pushed to the side, and her full concentration was on the crossword puzzle in front of her, occasionally glancing up to reach for an apple slice.

"Phillies pitcher Benson," she read, wrinkling her nose. "Baseball. Typical. Any ideas?" she asked her pencil. She paused, as if to let the pencil answer. "Yeah, I didn't think so."

"You would know," she told her laptop, which was sitting across the room. "But I'm not going to Google... Not yet, anyway."

She reviewed the crossword a few more seconds, and then pushed it away, sighing. Next to the crossword was a piece of paper, folded in half. She took another apple slice, then picked up the paper, carefully unfolding it. Pro was written on one side, con on the other, and nothing written under it. She closed it again. "Can't do anything there yet. Haven't even had the interview."

She spotted her phone on the other side of the counter. Leaning on her stool, she reached over and dragged it closer to her. She scrolled through her contents, finding the name of the person she was looking for. She smiled, and pressed 'send,' placing the phone to her ear.

"Hey Doyle, it's Rory... I'm good, how's it going?" She paused, listening to Doyle's response. "That's great, Doyle. Listen, is Paris there? Tell her I'm thinking about coming up there for lunch soon. We'll do some more planning."

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫

"Lorelai?" Luke called from the staircase as he padded down the steps with socked feet. It was too early for her to be awake on a Sunday morning, especially before him. Especially when he could smell something cooking in the kitchen. "Do you have the stove on?"

"Don't come in here!" she yelled back, and he winced when he heard the clatter of something crashing to the ground in the kitchen. "Yeah, definitely don't come in here."

"I'm coming," he said with a sigh.

"No, wait, it's a surprise!"

"I'll act surprised."

"Okay, but don't say I didn't warn you."

He entered the kitchen, and paused in the doorway, eyes wide. Lorelai stood next to the stove, still in her gnome pajama pants, but wearing a floral apron, that made her growing stomach more pronounced. She turned to face him, spatula in hand, and smudges of flour on her face and in her hair. "Ta da!" she exclaimed, gesturing to the mess of dishes and batter on the stove and counter. "I'm making you breakfast."

"I can see that," he managed to sputter, taking in everything slowly. "Is that... pancakes?"

"Absolutely!" She picked up the plate next to the stove and displayed it to him, á la Vanna White. "Now they aren't exactly... circular. And some of them are a little... burnt. But mostly edible... I think."

Luke walked closer to her, placing his hand on the small of her back. He looked down at the plate in her hands. "They look good."

Her eyes lit up. "Yeah?"

"And circular is overrated."

"I've never been one to bend to convention."

"Of course not." He looked up at Lorelai and smiled, then lifted up his hand to brush some flour off her cheek. "Thanks."

"You might be changing your tune when you eat them."

"I have the day off, I can afford the risk."

"Har har har." She scowled, spinning out of his reach to turn off the stove. "Now sit, sit. Let's eat."

"Okay. Need me to get the butter and syrup."

"I got it, babe. You just sit."

He pulled out a chair from the table and took a seat, watching as she gathered up the tub of butter and syrup and precariously placed them under her arm. Then, she picked up the tea kettle and poured him a mug, bringing it over to the table with a smile. For the first time, he noticed that the table had already been set, a vase of gerbera daisies in the center. She returned to the table with the plate full of pancakes.

"Now, I started to get creative with my shaping towards the end. This one," she said, forking the pancake over on Luke's plate. "Looks a little like Gary Busey. Or Sarah Chalke. I couldn't decide. And this one... well, I like to call this one Mary Poppins' Umbrella the Day the Wind Changed Suddenly. The title is a work in progress."

Luke smirked. "The measuring cup slipped, didn't it?"

"Every damn time." Lorelai took the seat next to him, dishing herself a few pancakes, and picking up the tub of butter. She passed it over to Luke.

"I can teach you a trick. Should make things easier for you next time."

"If you let me near the stove again."

He reached under the table and squeezed her knee. "We'll see." Pouring a little bit of syrup on his plate, he used his fork to cut into the pancake, and then brought it to his mouth, taking a bite. He chewed slowly, catching Lorelai's expectant expression.


"Not bad," he remarked after a pause, lifting up a fork to cut into his pancakes again. "Not bad at all."

She picked up her for and took a bite herself, wiping away a bit of syrup that dripped on her chin as she chewed. "Wow. These are okay. Not yours but... okay."

They ate in silence for a few moments, the only noise coming from the scraping of forks on their plates. Luke's hand remained on her knee, rubbing it lightly as they chewed. "You know," he said, catching her eye and smiling at her. "This is nice."

He leaned over and kissed her forehead, and they both returned to their meals, enjoying the quiet Sunday morning together.






To be continued... 




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