Episode 9.16 "Oh, Bee-Have!"
by Once Upon a Whim and Grizzly


Authors' Note: We would like to thank the inhabitants of Stars Hollow for their part in this St. Patrick's Day extravaganza, particularly sosmitten, wounded, Robinpoppins, jenepel, and Jewels12 who saved the day when Taylor stole the title. But seriously, everyone we mentioned was a big help in finally getting this thing done, even when it got down to the wire. We had a great time writing, and we hope you have just as much fun reading (green beer optional). Happy St. Patrick's Day!

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The timer let out a shrill ring, causing Lorelai to jump in her chair and lose her place in Cosmo. She grinned regardless and set her sights on the oven as she moved to stand up. But almost immediately she grimaced and let out a soft hiss of pain.

Falling back into the chair, she rubbed her lower back and called out towards the living room, "Hey, April? Do you have a sec?"

April appeared in the kitchen's doorway a moment later. "Yeah?" she asked absently.

With a winsome smile, Lorelai gestured towards the oven. "Think you could take the cookies out of the oven and put the new tray in? Your little sibling here has decided that this is the week the backaches are going to kick in," she explained, her smile fading to an overemphasized pout as she did so. "And it was killing me just bending over to get that first batch in."

April nodded sympathetically. "Sure, no problem." She grabbed a potholder and retrieved the first set of Lorelai's creations from the oven. Her face wrinkled in mild confusion as she scanned the counter for a clear space. "What are these?"

"It's a test run for St. Patrick's Day," Lorelai informed her excitedly as April slid the next baking sheet into the oven. "I found this beer mug shaped cookie cutter, and of course, it's not St. Patrick's Day beer unless it's green, so, voilà — lots of green food coloring."

April's skeptical look told Lorelai she was not convinced of the merits of green beer-shaped cookies.

"They're just sugar cookies, you can have one," Lorelai said, nudging the cookie she had just pried off the baking sheet towards April.

April still seemed dubious. "That looks like a lot of food coloring..."

"Hey, more for me." Lorelai shrugged and picked up the cookie for herself.

"I'm actually on my way out anyway," April added, heading towards the door. "We have this project for history at school so I have to meet my group at the library. Okay?"

Lorelai pouted but nodded, even as she frowned in the direction of the oven.

"Thanks, Lorelai," April replied. With a grin she assured Lorelai, "I just heard Dad pull in, so he can do the next batch."

"Perfect," said Lorelai. "Back for dinner?"

"Yup," April confirmed as she grabbed her things and headed for the door.

"'Kay," Lorelai called after her. "Don't study too hard." After she heard the door close behind her step-daughter, she turned back to her green cookie dough, smiling as she picked up the rolling pin. When she heard the door open again a moment later, and Luke's heavy footsteps in the entry, she yelled out again, "Lu-uke..."

Luke poked his head around the corner, still shrugging off his coat. "Hey," he said, tossing the coat in a pile with the others in the entry. He strode across the kitchen and leaned down for a kiss. Only as he straightened back up did he notice the green concoctions surrounding Lorelai. "What the hell is all this?"

Pretty much expecting that reaction, Lorelai giggled to herself. With a wave of her arm, she gestured around her, explaining with a flourish, "Green beer cookies for St. Patrick's day."

"Be—" Luke started, his jaw slack. "What are you thinking?" he demanded, aghast, "you can't have—"

"Not beer-beer, Super Dad," Lorelai snorted, cutting in and correcting Luke with a roll of her eyes. "Beer-shaped," she clarified, holding up the proof. "My new cookie cutter."

Visibly calmed by Lorelai's words, Luke responded with an eye roll of his own. "You're nuts," he declared.

"Well, as we just heard from you, I can't exactly partake in the green beer, now can I? So why not?" Lorelai exclaimed. "Sookie just taught me how to make sugar cookies."

Luke just shook his head and headed past her towards the refrigerator.

Lorelai merely smiled to herself at his antics and went back to rolling out the next batch on the table, mechanically cutting out the shapes, and every once in a while snacking on dough taken from a small bowl next to her.

The next thing she knew, Luke was practically on top of her, yanking her arm away from her mouth.

"Jeez, Lorelai, you can't have raw eggs!" he shouted

She jerked her hand back from him. "Back off, step away from the dough," she warned playfully. "Again, Mr. Paranoid," she said pointedly, "taken care of. That's the real dough." She pointed to the large mixing bowl of green dough in the middle of the table. "This," she stated, picking up the small cereal bowl next to her, "is baby-safe, egg-free, 100% eatable by moms-to-be raw dough. I made a separate bowl." For emphasis, she popped another wad of it into her mouth.

Luke sighed. "You could have just not eaten raw dough," he pointed out, though futilely.

Lorelai scoffed at that. "Then what's the point of making cookies?"

After staring at her incredulously for a moment, Luke turned to exit the kitchen, muttering to himself, "Why do I bother?"

"Hey," Lorelai called out before he could escape, "don't leave, you have to do the putting in and taking out of the oven."

Luke raised an eyebrow in her direction.

She summoned a wide-eyed innocent expression and gestured to her stomach. "Pretty please? Your spawn here is making Mommy's back hurt."

Looking rather annoyed, Luke set his jaw and eyed the oven. But, with a defeated sigh, he relented and grabbed the oven mitt.

Lorelai grinned triumphantly and snuck another piece of cookie dough.

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"As you know, Stars Hollow has a time-honored tradition of putting on a spectacular St. Patrick's Day display that has proven to be quite a draw card for tourists." Taylor looked down at the townies assembled in front of him.

"Yeah, it rocks, Taylor," Lane called out.

"Totally," Zach nodded in agreement.

"No thanks to those of you who see it as an excuse for drunk and disorderly conduct." Taylor looked pointedly at Lorelai.

"Hey! Don't look at me. I'll hardly be knocking back the green beer this year." Lorelai placed a hand over her stomach.

"Yes, well, be that as it may, I thought that this year we would start a new tradition that would prevent future outbreaks of disorder as we encountered last year."

Gypsy rolled her eyes. "I hardly think that someone dyeing your roses green counts as a massive crime wave, Taylor."

"Those were prize-winning roses. Or at least they would have been if they hadn't been lime green. Instead I had to suffer the indignity of watching Hank from Woodbury walk away with the prize."

"What do you mean award winning roses?" Jackson asked incredulously. "They're fake flowers."

"Yes and I was entering them in the District Artificial Flora Tournament."

"I would've thought Taylor would win hands down if they just put the acronym on the trophy," Luke muttered sotto voce.

"What was that, Lucas?"

"He was just telling me how devastated he was to hear about the desecration of your plastic plants, Taylor," Lorelai snickered.

"They weren't plastic," Taylor protested. "I used the finest silk, specially imported from China."

"It takes a man who is very confident in his masculinity to admit to that," Sookie laughed.

"And to wear that cardigan," Lorelai agreed, nodding.

"Taylor, mysterious as the dyeing of your faux roses is, we've been hearing about it for the last twelve months. So perhaps it's time to move on and start organizing this year's celebrations instead. I need the hall for my yoga class starting in half an hour," Miss Patty said from the dais.

"Yeah, Taylor, hurry up and get to the point, I'm running out of cookies," Lorelai called from the middle of the room.

"You have cookies?" Gypsy turned around in her seat near the front to ask.

"Mm... they're nice and chewy," Babette spoke around the bite of cookie she had just taken.

"Chewy? Mine is hard," Andrew frowned.

"Andrew, honey, that's how it's meant to be," Miss Patty called out from the podium, causing a round of snickers to break out.

"Why are they green?" Kirk leaned over Lorelai's shoulder to peer into the bag.

"This meeting will come to order." Taylor banged his gavel on the lectern.

"For St. Patrick's Day, Kirk," Lorelai replied.

"Lorelai Gilmore, you are disrupting the proceedings. There is a reason why food is forbidden at town meetings," Taylor intoned.

"Danes," Lorelai corrected.

"Huh?" Taylor frowned.

"It's Lorelai Gilmore Danes, Taylor."

"Yeah, those two finally got hitched, remember?" Babette rasped.

"Don't try to bring me into this," Luke spoke out of the side of his mouth. "I have enough problems with Taylor as it is."

"But it's your duty as husband to protect your pregnant wife," Lorelai said, pouting.

Luke snorted before calling out towards the dais, "Taylor, can you just get on with it? Some of us would like to go home at some point this evening and we still haven't discussed what crazy-assed plans you have made for St. Patrick's Day. So just tell us now what lunacy you have planned, then I can tell you that I will not be decorating the diner, there will be no green coffee, and I will not be building a stage in the town square for the dancing leprechauns, and we can all go home happy."

Lorelai snickered as she munched on a cookie.

"Well, Lucas." Taylor looked down from behind the podium. "It just so happens that there will be no leprechauns this year, so there is no need for your killjoy attitude."

"No leprechauns?" Miss Patty clasped a hand to her chest. "But the little dears have been practicing for weeks. Even Ellie James can skip without tripping over her feet now."

"But we're still doing the parade, right?" Lulu asked.

"Yeah, maybe this year we'll finally kick Hot Springs butt and officially hold the World's Shortest St. Patrick's Day Parade," Gypsy responded.

"Isn't the shortest parade in Boulder?" Lane frowned.

"It doesn't matter where it is," Taylor interrupted. "We will not be having a parade this year."

"So we're just going to stand around the square staring at the green snow?" Lorelai asked.

"Sounds riveting," Luke snarked.

"No, Lorelai, we will not simply stand around staring at green snow, because there won't be any," Taylor informed them.

"No green snow?" Lorelai gasped.

"But... we always have green snow in the square on St. Patrick's Day," Babette said.

Miss Patty nodded in agreement. "It's tradition, Taylor."

"Yes, well in case it escaped your notice, we have been experiencing unseasonably warm weather and there is very little snow left," Taylor said condescendingly. "And I just saw the seven day forecast and no additional snow is predicted."

Lorelai pouted. "No green snow."

Taylor ignored her soft murmur as he continued. "So I thought that this year we would start a new tradition for St. Patrick's Day, one that will really put Stars Hollow on the map. Kirk, if you will?" He gestured for Kirk to stand up.

Kirk waddled up to the podium, his movements hindered by the padding on the bumble bee costume he was wearing.

"We're having a costume parade?" Miss Patty asked in an uncertain voice.

"Bees don't look very Irish." Andrew frowned.

"It's Kirk," Gypsy responded, as if that explained the lack of Celtic connotation.

"Maybe he's going to do a scene from Riverdance?" Lorelai tilted her head to the side in consideration as she took in the black tights and patent leather shoes he was wearing.

"Oh god, I hope not," Luke groaned.

"Well, Lucas, you are in luck. The bumblebee," Taylor gestured to Kirk, "is the mascot for the inaugural Stars Hollow St. Patrick's Day Spelling Bee."

The room was filled with stunned silence before Miss Patty found her voice. "A spelling bee? Doesn't sound very Irish, Taylor."

Gypsy crossed her arms over her chest. "Sounds stupid if you ask me."

"Yeah, we want green snow, and a parade and green beer in the gazebo," Lorelai called out.

"What does a spelling bee have to do with St. Patrick's Day anyway, Taylor?" Babette asked.

"Nothing," Luke replied.

"On the contrary, Lucas, St. Patrick was a missionary in Ireland where monasteries used to provide education to the local children. It is a little known fact that in order to promote competition amongst their students, these monks used to offer a pot of honey from the monastic hives to the pupil who could spell the most correct words."

"That's crap, Taylor," Luke snorted.

"Didn't St. Patrick live hundreds of years before the monasteries were established?" Lorelai asked.

"Yeah, that's the flimsiest excuse I've ever heard," Andrew agreed.

"Just face it, Taylor, the real reason that you've hijacked St. Patrick's Day is because you heard about that kid over in Woodbridge who was shortlisted for Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader? and you're hoping to uncover Stars Hollow's own child genius so that you have something to gloat about next time you meet Hank." Luke rubbed the back of his neck in agitation.

"Yes, well..." Taylor spluttered. "Sign-up sheets will be available tomorrow. This meeting is adjourned." Taylor banged the gavel.

"But we didn't vote on anything. We didn't vote, did we?" Sookie turned to Lorelai.

"Nope." Lorelai shook her head.

"So he gets to just decide to do a stupid spelling bee instead of the parade?"

"Yeah. Stupid Taylor." Lorelai reached into the bag and pulled out her last cookie. "I can't believe he canceled the green snow," she said, licking the green frosting from the cookie.

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"Hey, Mom." Rory flipped her phone open before it could disturb the other patrons.

"Taylor canceled the green snow."

"Well hello, my beautiful soon to be gainfully employed daughter, how are you?" Rory mocked.

"She would be a lot better if instead of being sarcastic she thought of a way to cheer up her pregnant Mommy."

"I'll get right on that," Rory dryly informed her. "Right after I finish my coffee and the newspaper."

"Really? It's your last day of freedom and you are spending it reading the newspaper? A newspaper that you are going to work for in less than twenty four hours, might I add?"

"I need to be prepared for my first day," Rory protested.

"Please tell me you're at least out doing something wild and crazy while you're reading it, like you're stuck in the lions' cage at the zoo and you're reading the papers they used to line the cage."

"Why am I stuck in a lions' cage?"

"You're living it up on your last day of freedom."

"Oh right, well somehow I don't think that they use newspapers to line the lions' cages at the zoo, Mom. So, no."

"And instead you are?"

"In my usual chair at the bookstore."

"The same bookstore that you have visited every day since you moved in?"

"Not every day," Rory argued.

"Pretty much. Not that there's anything wrong with that. But it's your last day, make sure you go out and enjoy it."

"I will."

"Good, because there's no fun to be had around here. Taylor stole St. Patrick's Day and turned it into a spelling bee."

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"What'll you have, Patty?" Luke asked, eyeing the stack of papers on the table in front of her.

"Umm... Just a coffee, thanks, dear." Miss Patty's voice was unusually innocent.

"You got it." Luke turned around to head towards the counter as the bells above the door heralded the influx of a mob of children accompanied by Lulu and Kirk.

"Now class," Lulu called out. "Remember that we need to line up in an orderly fashion and when it is your turn Miss Patty will take your name."

The children made a mad scramble for Miss Patty's table, knocking into tables and chairs and each other as they did.

"She said in an orderly fashion, Trevor," Kirk whined. "You just budged. He budged." His voice rose on the last sentence.

"Kirk..." Lulu waited for a response, but Kirk was busy glaring at Trevor. "Kirk! Look at me!"

Kirk turned his head sideways and looked sulkily at Lulu.

"How did I say you should line up?" she asked.

"In an orderly fashion," he mumbled. "But Trevor..."

"Ah, ah ah," she scolded. "We don't tattle, remember? Now, since you two can't be trusted together, I will have to separate you. Kirk, go to the back of the line."

"But I..."

"Now, Kirk!" She spoke firmly and he reluctantly complied.

"Hey, Kirk, can you move a little please? I can't get in the door," Babette asked as she tried to enter the diner.

"Not cool, man," Morey added.

"I can't move, I have to stay at the end of the line," Kirk informed them.

"The line for what?" Andrew asked crowding in beside Babette and Morey on the top step.

"What's going on?" Bootsy asked as he joined the crowd trying to enter the diner.

"Lulu brought her second grade class down to register for the spelling bee," Kirk informed them.

"So what are you doing, Kirk?" Babette asked.

"I study literature with them, since I'm needed for the school plays."

"So what, you're just going to enter the spelling bee and compete against a bunch of second graders?" Gypsy asked.

"Kirk's entering the spelling bee?" Reverend Skinner asked as he arrived on the scene to overhear Gypsy's question.

"I didn't realize it was for the adults as well," Rabbi Barans replied. "You know, I've always wanted to take part in one. We didn't really do them at my school. I think I might sign up also. If Kirk can, I don't see why I can't."

Several voices murmured sounds of agreement which rapidly translated into a mad scramble of townies pushing their way towards the registration desk Miss Patty had set up on the other side of the diner.

When Bootsie's tussle with Andrew resulted in an elbow to Luke's ribs, Luke let out a loud groan, and narrowly avoided spilling hot coffee on his hand. "Enough!" he yelled.

There was a moment of stunned silence.

"Everyone out!"

"But Luke, honey." Miss Patty tried to placate him.

"Out, Patty," he insisted. "Go and set up your stupid registration thing somewhere else."

"But..." Miss Patty opened her mouth to protest again. However, catching sight of the expression on Luke's face, she closed it abruptly and followed the rest of the patrons out of the diner.

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"Quagmire?" Lorelai spoke without looking up from the cookie she was decorating.

"Q-U-A-G-M-I-R-E," April replied from the other side of the kitchen table. "So Taylor really tried to draw some kind of analogy between St. Patrick and bees?"

"Yep," Lorelai grunted. "Fedifragrous?"

"F-E-D-I-F-R-A-G-R-O-U-S. You know that's completely ridiculous. I mean St. Patrick wasn't very well educated himself and could barely communicate with the people he was trying to convert."

"Really? Hey, if I pass you this tray, can you swap it for the ones without icing over there?" Lorelai gestured towards the sink where a tray of cookies that vaguely resembled shamrocks were cooling.

"Sure." April stood up from the table and carried the decorated cookies over to the counter. "Wow, you're kind of running out of room here," she commented.

"Just be glad you're not staying here tonight. Ubiquitous?"

"U-B-I-Q-U-I-T-O-U-S. Why? Are you eating cookies for every meal now?"

"Nope. These are to keep everyone awake during the snoozefest that is St. Taylor's day this year."

April giggled.

"I thought I should probably make a lot since everyone seemed to enjoy them so much the other day. So I kind of took over your room."

"You did?" April walked over and opened the bedroom door. "Oh my God!" Her jaw dropped open as she spotted the trays of cookies perched on every available surface.

"Surfeit?" Lorelai asked sheepishly.

April laughed. "I think so. S-U-R-F-E-I-T."

"I'm just really bummed about not having the usual St Patrick's Day festivities, you know?"

"Yeah." April nodded. "So what can I do now?"

"You can mix up some more frosting if you like, I've almost run out." Lorelai ran her finger around the nearly empty bowl. "Quark?" She closed her eyes as she licked the green frosting from her finger.

"Q-U-A-R-K. How about I make this batch a little darker?"

"Sounds good." Lorelai nodded, frowning slightly as she heard the front door open and close. "Kitchen!" she called out. "Onomatopoeia?"

"Hey, Dad! O-N-O-M-A-T-O-P-O-E-I-A."

"Hi, April." Luke gave her a quick kiss before leaning down to place one on Lorelai's forehead. "What are you doing here?" He frowned.

"Oh, Mom had to work late so I thought I'd stop and see Lorelai. She's quizzing me for the spelling bee."

"You're in that?" he grunted.

"Hon, if Taylor is going to ruin a perfectly good holiday, she should at least get a pretty trophy out of him," Lorelai responded. "Altazimuth?"

"Um... definition?"

Lorelai shrugged.

"You're quizzing me with words you don't know?" April gasped.

Lorelai smiled guiltily.

"Do you know how to spell it?" April demanded.

Before Lorelai could formulate a reply, the oven timer buzzed.

"Ah! Saved by the bell! Hon, could you get those out for me?"

Luke sighed his agreement and moved over to retrieve the cookies. Not seeing the oven mitts, he picked up a dish towel. Bending over he pulled the tray from the oven before realizing there was nowhere left to put it.

"Damn," he swore as the heat permeated the thin towel. "Lorelai!" he growled.

Concentrating on her frosting, Lorelai did not look up. "Yeah?"

"Where do you want me to put it?" he spoke slowly, drawing it out.

"Oh! Anywhere is fine. Wherever you can find room," she blithely replied.

"Wherever I can find room?" he repeated, speaking through clenched teeth. "There is no room! There's no room in my diner. There's no room in the kitchen, there's no room in this house. There is no room!"

Startled, Lorelai and April both looked up wide-eyed.

"Here!" April jumped up and gestured to her chair.

Luke gratefully placed the tray on the seat she had just vacated and threw the towel into the sink. "Thanks," he spoke curtly. "I'm sorry, I just..." his voice trailed off. "I'm just gonna..." he gestured towards the door and headed out.

Lorelai and April stared at each other in surprise.

"What's eating him?" April asked.

"If I had to guess, I'd say The Grinch Who Stole St Pat's."


Lorelai nodded.

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"Hey," Lorelai called softly from the door to the garage.

Luke paused from his task. "Hey," he replied sheepishly.

"Whatcha doing?"

"Just... cleaning up a bit." He gestured around at the paraphernalia left over from various woodworking projects.

Lorelai nodded. There was silence for a couple of moments. "So? That, in there?"

"That was nothing."

Lorelai raised a brow skeptically.

"Well, it was nothing to do with you or April."

Lorelai nodded, but remained silent, encouraging him to continue.

"Patty set up a registration table in the diner and as if that wasn't bad enough, next thing I knew, every town idiot was there, pushing and yelling, trying to beat everyone else to the sign up table."

Lorelai frowned. "I thought it was just for the kids."

Luke snorted. "Apparently not. The kids will be lucky if they get one round in. And it was just too much, you know? So I kicked everyone else out and came home to see you."

"And there was no room."

"Yeah," he sighed. "And I didn't want to be a jerk, so I just came out here to calm down."

"You weren't a jerk." She rubbed a hand over his back. "April didn't think so either," she assured him.

"Thanks." He sighed.

"And there was no room."

"It's okay."

"No. It's not really." Lorelai shook her head. "Maybe we should start looking for that house we talked about."

He laughed. "It'd probably be simpler if you just baked smaller batches of cookies."

"I'm serious, Luke. I think it's time. We hardly fit now, even without all of the cookies, let alone when this one comes." She gestured to her stomach.

"You sure?"

"Yeah." She nodded.

"Okay then." He pulled her against his side and kissed the top of her head.


"Good," he agreed.

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Rory took a deep breath as she stepped out of the elevator at The Courant. Trying to appear the professional that she now was, she approached the reception desk, where an older woman sat busily typing.

"Hi," Rory spoke hesitantly when the woman didn't look up. "I'm Rory Gilmore."

The woman Shirley, apparently, at least according to the name placard did finally look up. With a wide, motherly smile, she offered her greeting to Rory. "Hello." Shirley didn't add anything else, but kept her gaze fixed on Rory.

Rory shifted uncomfortably. "Uh, the new features writer?" she tried again. "I believe I was supposed to meet with uh," she stammered, not sure whether she was on a first name basis with her new boss or not, "Mr. MacWilliam?"

Apparently that was the ticket. Shirley jumped up, gushing, "Oh, of course you are, sweetie! You just wait right there; I'll grab Don." And then she was gone down the hallway.

A moment or two later, Rory let out a quiet sigh of relief when she saw Shirley return with a familiar face from her interview. Don, her boss, greeted her with a smile as he shook her hand. "Rory, hello," he said warmly.

"Hi, Mr.—" Rory started in reply.

Don cut in, waving a hand in Rory's direction and brushing off her formality. "Just call me Don," he insisted. "This here's Shirley, but you've already met. So, let's get you to your desk." Then he turned and headed off.

"Uh, okay," Rory said to no one in particular as she scampered after him.

She caught up in time to hear Don rattling off any number of bits of information about the office and newsroom. "Okay, so, my office," he pointed in one direction, "conference room, Mike," he said as a young guy, probably only a few years older than Rory, walked by with two cameras dangling from his arm, "one of the best photographers around—"

Mike finished the introduction himself, offering Rory a hand shake as well. "Hey, Mike Lasky. Nice to meet you."

"Hi, Rory Gilmore," Rory stated. "Uh, features..."

A split second later, Mike was off on his way, and Rory was following Don again as he kept talking. "Mail room, break room — that's where the coffee is, which is why he's in there." He gestured into the small room to a balding, overweight guy pouring himself a styrofoam cup of coffee. "That's Mick, sports."

Rory stepped into the room a few feet, and stuck her hand out to Mick in introduction. "Hi, Rory Gilmore, new—"

Eyeing her up and down, Mick interjected and finished for her. "Intern?" He followed up his assumption by taking a swig of coffee, never having acknowledged Rory's proffered hand.

Rory frowned and let her hand fall back to her side as she corrected him. "Uh, features."

Mick just gave her a wary look that plainly said 'yeah, right' and replied with a similarly toned "Okay..."

Don didn't seem fazed, and picked right back up where he'd left off. "Here's Zucker's office, the ancient darkroom, and here's where you'll be working," he said as they entered a large, open room full of various desks, tables, and computer workstations. "And there goes Jodie," he added, giving a half-hearted wave to a woman who was probably only a few years younger than Lorelai and seemingly in a big hurry.

"Jodie Corbin, nice to meet you!" she called out from across the room.

Rory's meek "You too..." was pointless, as Jodie was already off and running.

"So here's your station," Don continued, showing Rory to an odd sort of desk — sort of a cubicle, but with lower walls, Rory noted. "Sorry about the lack of introductions, but we're a bit busy, as you can see," Don chuckled. "You'll meet everyone properly at the Monday meeting. We do have something for you to get working on in the meanti—" Rory's ears had just perked up at the mention of her first article when Don's cell phone rang. He plucked it from the holder on his belt, and, glancing at the caller ID, informed Rory, "Sorry, I'll have to take this."

"Okay..." Rory nodded. But again, her reply wasn't necessary, as Don had already answered the phone and begun walking to his office.

At a loss for what to do, Rory set down her purse and laptop case and took a seat at her desk. With a sigh, she glanced around the room. Nearly empty, she noted with dismay, save for a few other people who seemed to be hard at work at the opposite end. Apparently everyone had something to do but her.

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"Hey, Sook," Lorelai called out as she made her way into the inn's kitchen in search of decaf.

"Oh, good, you're here," Sookie said hurriedly, dropping the knife she'd been chopping with. She scurried over to Lorelai's side, and asked in hushed tones, "Can I talk to you?"

Confused by Sookie's antics, Lorelai stammered an awkward reply. "Uh, okay, sure." Though she ended up even more confused when Sookie hastily escorted her to her office and proceeded to dance what appeared to be a jig of glee.

"Whoa there, Sookie. Calm down. What is going on?" she inquired.

Sookie stopped bouncing at Lorelai's words, but was still unable to get a coherent thought out. "So how did you..." she started. "When did you... How old was Rory when..."

Hoping she'd get Sookie to make it to full sentences, Lorelai gently guided her towards the couch across from her desk. "Slow down, chica, where are we going with this?" she asked as she sat down and patted the cushion beside her.

Once situated on the couch, Sookie faced Lorelai and began again. "When did you know Rory was smart, like really smart? I mean, I know she only did the Chilton thing in high school, but do they have more Chilton? Like a pre-Chilton? Or a Chilton pre-school? Even if they don't, can we fill out applications for Martha now?"

Flummoxed by the onslaught of questions, Lorelai gaped at her friend. "Sookie, wha—"

But Sookie cut her off, more excited words just pouring out. "I mean, I know there's probably a bunch of tests to take, but we have her getting an IQ one next week," she gushed. "And I mean a real one, not one of those silly internet things. And Mensa says she can—"

Lorelai, still having no idea where Sookie was coming from, or going with, for that matter, with whatever she was talking about, put her hand gently on Sookie's arm and did her own cutting off. "Whoa there," she interrupted. "What are you talking about?"

"Martha," replied Sookie matter-of-factly.

"What about Martha?" Lorelai asked. "And Mensa?" she added, wrinkling her nose in bewilderment.

"Well, we think..." Sookie paused, and brought her voice down in volume. Whispering, she excitedly informed Lorelai, "We think she might be a genius."

Lorelai's brow furrowed. "Where is this coming from? Sookie, she's not even four."

"I know!" Sookie yelped. "And she can spell better than Davey!"

"What?" Lorelai asked skeptically.

Sookie nodded animatedly. "I found Davey's list for the Bee, and Martha could spell all the words."

"Really?" Lorelai exclaimed, surprised.

"Yes!" Sookie cried. "On the first try!"

Lorelai was doubtful, and tried to let Sookie know as diplomatically as possible. "I don't know if—" she began, only to be cut off by the ring of Sookie's cell phone.

"Ooh! I have to get that," Sookie cried, plucking the phone from her pocket as she jumped up from the couch. "It might be Johns Hopkins!"

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫

Rory sighed as she stared at the blank screen. Illegal downloading of TV shows. Nope. It was definitely no more interesting than the story on illegal music downloads she'd pitched to Doyle in her freshman year. Unfortunately, this time there was no girl in a gorilla mask to save her from it.

Her fingers rapped lightly on the key board as she willed them to begin typing, to somehow produce a brilliant article without any input from her currently blank brain.


She glanced around the quiet room. Jodie seemed absorbed in whatever she was doing and all of the other desks were empty.

Sticking out her lower lip, Rory let out a puff of air, fanning her bangs. She missed the bustle of the bookstore, where there was always a thermos of coffee to drink, Tess to chat with, or failing that, a book to read. Her eyes darted back to the screen.

She couldn't do it. She wasn't going to be caught surfing the internet on her first day.

Frustrated and restless, she stood up. Maybe a change of scenery would help.

She stilled as the chair scraped noisily across the floor, but Jodie simply flicked her a sympathetic smile before turning back to her screen.

Rory let out the breath she had been holding, and quietly made her way from the room. Spotting Mick in the break room, she quickly headed in the other direction. Shirley looked up with a smile as Rory passed, but was preoccupied with a phone call, so Rory didn't stop.

Spotting a sign for the fire exit, she headed straight for it, deciding that a bit of exercise might help. Once the door closed behind her, she wrinkled her nose at the musty odor, as she began her trek down.

Inspiration was no closer but she felt much calmer by the time she reached the ground floor. Reaching out, she pushed down on the handle.

It didn't move.

Rory frowned, pressing down as hard as she could.


"Great!" she muttered in frustration before turning around to start the climb back up.

It seemed much longer on the way up, but she kept a close eye on the numbers on the doors as she passed, mentally checking them off as she went. "There's a reason Gilmores don't exercise!" she grumbled when she eventually reached the right floor. Reaching out, she pushed down on the handle.

It didn't move.

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫

"Hey!" Lorelai smiled as she placed her handbag on the counter.

"Hey." Luke smiled back, holding up the pot in his hand.

"Please." She nodded. "To go. I have to get back, I just wanted to stop in and let you know that I made an appointment for us with the bank. Figured we should see what we can afford before we start seriously looking."

"Sounds good." Luke handed her the cup he'd poured, as the bells above the door signaled Kirk's entrance.

"God!" she exhaled as she took a sip. "I'd kill for the real stuff right now."

Luke smiled sympathetically.

"Decaffeinated," Kirk muttered from the stool beside her. "D-E-C-A-F-F-E-I-N-A-T-E-D. Decaffeinated."

"Wednesday afternoon. You free?" She ignored Kirk's mumbling.

"I'll be free." He nodded.

"Good. Three o'clock." She smiled. "Well. I've got to go. I'll see you at home?"

"Habitat," Kirk's voice droned in the background. "H-A-B-I-T-A-T. Habitat."

Luke nodded. "Caesar's closing, so I'll be home early." He leaned across the counter to kiss her goodbye.

When their lips barely touched, Lorelai looked down at her stomach ruefully. "Won't be able to do that for much longer."

"Nope." A grin threatened to break out on Luke's face. "But that doesn't mean that you'll be allowed behind the counter," he warned.

"So you'll be glad when you no longer have to kiss me?"

"Hardly," he scoffed. "I'll just do this." He walked around the counter and kissed her on the lips.

As they broke apart, Lorelai grinned. "That'll work. Bye!" She grabbed her purse and turned to leave.

"Protuberance. P-R-O-T-U-B-E-R-A-N-C-E. Protuberance." Kirk's eyes were firmly locked on Lorelai's stomach.

"What did you just say?" Lorelai glared at Kirk.

"Nothing!" Kirk's denial came a little too quickly.


Eyes wide, Kirk confessed. "I'm just practicing for the spelling bee."

"And you just happened to say that while staring at my stomach?"

"In order to simulate the random pattern of words that I might be asked to spell, I am practicing by using words associated with people I observe around me."

"Don't mess with me, Kirk. I am hormonal and caffeine deprived."

"Cockamamie. C-O-C-K-A-M-A-M-I-E. Cockamamie."

"Did you just call me crazy?" she asked, incredulous.

Behind her, Luke stilled.

"You know what they say: 'Insane people are always sure that they are fine. It is only the sane people who are willing to admit that they are crazy'," Kirk replied.

Lorelai gasped.

"Vanquished. V-A-N-Q-U-I-S-H-E-D. Vanquished."

"I'm not vanquished. I'm not even entering the stupid bee."

"Intimidated. I-N-T-I-M-I-D-A-T-E-D. Intimidated."

"Kirk! Get out! Now!" Luke advanced towards Kirk's table, before Lorelai could open her mouth to respond.

Kirk scrambled to his feet and bolted for the door, but it was too late. Lorelai's eyes shone with indignation. "That's it!" she declared, turning back to Luke. "There is no way I am going to let that little twerp parade around town with another trophy. Where's Patty? I'm signing up."

"Lorelai," Luke sighed.

"Just be grateful it's not the dance marathon, Luke. Then you'd be spending 24 hours holding me and 'the protuberance' up. I want that trophy and when I win, we're going to mount it up there with your dancing pork chop so that Kirk has to look at it every time he comes in."

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫

Rory stared at the locked door in disbelief.

She was stuck.

It was her first day, and she was stuck in the fire exit. "Way to go, Gilmore!" she congratulated herself.

She reached up to bang on the door, but the sound was faint and all she got for her efforts were sore knuckles. She tried hitting it with her open palm, but fared no better. The door was so thick and hard, that she doubted anyone on the other side was going to hear. She looked down at her feet, debating the merits of kicking the door, but years of her mother's indoctrination made her reluctant to ruin a perfectly good pair of pumps. Besides, they weren't made for kicking and she'd probably break a toe. Yes, that was a much better reason. Not nearly so pathetic as valuing shoes over rescue.

Not nearly as pathetic as she felt.

Sighing heavily, she reached into her pocket and pulled out her cell, finally admitting that she was not going to get out of there without someone rescuing her.

Flipping it open, she stared at the screen as she tried to remember the number for reception. Why hadn't she programmed it into her phone as soon as she was given the list of extensions this morning?

Because she didn't know she'd be idiotic enough to need rescuing an hour or two later, that's why.

Scrolling down, she located Robert Zucker's number. There was no way she was going to call the managing editor. Bad enough that she met him at driving school, she wasn't going to let him think that she was a complete moron.

Biting her lip, she deleted the last four numbers and replaced them with zeros. She was pretty sure that there were a lot of zeros in the number for reception. And if that didn't work, she'd just ask whoever answered to look up the number for her. That would work. She could do this. She had a plan and she was going to get out.

There was no reception.

Panic started to set in as she frantically waved her phone around in the air, desperately praying for a signal.


If they hadn't found her by tomorrow night, she was sure that a search party would be raised when she didn't turn up for Friday night dinner. Man, that was a long way off.

Blinking back tears, she slid the phone back into her pocket, deciding that the only course left to her was to check the doors on each floor, hoping that one of them would be unlocked.

"Okay, think! Up or down?" she asked out loud before deciding to head up. "You'd better be right, Otis Clay," she muttered as she trudged up to the floor above.

Unfortunately it felt more like she was being mocked by Rancid as the next three floors proved to be locked. With one floor to go, she started singing under her breath. "I've gotta get out of this place. If it's the last thing I ever do."

As she reached the top floor, her singing was interrupted by a loud beep from her pocket. Quickly reaching in, she pulled it out and flipped it open.

"Oh thank you, thank you, thank you," she repeated, ignoring the message icon that was flashing and hitting send.

"Shirley? It's Rory. Rory Gilmore. I was wondering if you could do me a favor please?"

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫

Rory had barely made it out the door of The Courant just after 5 pm when her phone rang. Plucking the cell from her purse as she headed towards her bus stop, she groaned when she saw the caller ID. Mom. Not that she wasn't sure Lorelai was well intentioned and just wanted to hear how the day had gone, but Rory really wasn't in the mood for the quizzing and whatever random chitchat would follow.

She frowned at the display for another second, then guiltily flipped the phone open. "Hello," she said listlessly.

"Stop the presses!" came Lorelai's voice.

Rory rolled her eyes and glanced for cars as she crossed the street. "Mom," she said flatly. "I've worked at a newspaper before."

"But not in a long time, and never as a real journalist. Before you were just an intern," Lorelai reminded her playfully. "It's practically required that I get in at least one 'stop the presses.'"

"And now you have two in," Rory replied.

"I know, isn't it great? So how was the first day?" Lorelai asked cheerily.

Rory reached the bus stop and scanned the schedule, answering with an absent "Okay."

"Just okay?" Lorelai repeated, sounding a little concerned.

"Yup," Rory assured her, trying to sound a little more enthusiastic. "Got a desk, computer... chair. Really, all very exciting stuff."

"So what's the office gossip then?" Lorelai quizzed. "Does your paper place have their own cute little Jim and Pam? Or what about something more sordid? Did your married boss hit on you already?" she added, her voice tinged with mock scandal.

"Mom, no," Rory said.

Lorelai sighed in Rory's ear, apparently not getting what she was looking for. "Well any classic first day embarrassment stories then?" she added, apparently as a last ditch effort.

Rory fell silent. She bit her lip and her eyes fell closed. Exactly what she didn't want to relive.

Unfortunately the silence was enough for Lorelai, who practically shrieked on the other end of the call. "What'd you do?! Toilet paper on the shoe? Skirt in the undies? Trip and send papers flying everywhere?"

"No!" Rory cried, her cheeks growing hot both from the memory of what had happened and from the odd look she got from the woman next to her.

Lorelai's response was a knowing silence. After a minute of nothing, Rory was then treated to the Jeopardy theme being hummed in her ear.

"I got locked in the stairs," she finally mumbled.

Lorelai gasped, "No!"

"Yes..." Rory admitted begrudgingly.

"Aww," Lorelai cooed, "it's just like when you couldn't get yourself out of the bathroom at your first day of kindergarten."

Rory protested, trying to hush her mother as if her fellow would-be bus riders could hear. "Mom..."

"So how many people know?" Lorelai wondered aloud. "How long are you going to be known as 'that girl who got stuck in the stairs'?"

"New subject please," Rory huffed into the phone. When Lorelai took a page from Rory's book and fell silent again, Rory prodded, "Mom?" She had hardly expected the subject to actually be dropped.

"Well, since you asked," Lorelai started hesitantly, "um, Luke and I are starting to look at houses."

Rory frowned, squinting down the street to see if she could see her bus. "Houses?"

"Big buildings, lots of rooms, people live in them?" Lorelai quipped, sounding tentative.

"Oh," said Rory in response.

"I know we said we'd stay at the Shack," Lorelai continued hurriedly, sounding anxious, "but even with you and April not really there, it's still more than we ever had there before — three full-timers and two part-timers. Plus baby stuff?"

"Right. Makes sense," Rory agreed in a hollow voice.

Still sounding apologetic, Lorelai continued, "We probably won't move until after I pop, but just checking stuff out, you know?"

"No, Mom, that's great," Rory forced out. "I guess it could get kind of crowded otherwise," she admitted.

Rory must have sounded convincing enough. "Of course, we'll be sure to look for a place with open stairwells," Lorelai joked, the concern gone from her voice, "so you can't possibly get yourself locked in."

"Gee, thanks," Rory replied wryly. And though there was still no sign of her bus, she said quickly, "Mom, my bus is here. Gotta go."

"Call me later, sweets!" came Lorelai's farewell.

"Bye," answered Rory. She snapped her phone closed and tossed it in her purse, a glum expression on her face. With a sigh, she ambled over to the bus stop's bench and took a seat.

♫   ♫   ♫  

By the time Rory made it home, she wasn't feeling anymore cheery than she had been at the bus stop. When she trudged up the stairs and checked her mailbox, her phone bill and a "Pre-Approved!" credit card application didn't do much to improve her mood.

Making her way up the stairs, she paused on the second floor landing and eyed the door to Kevin's apartment. A little venting couldn't hurt; maybe he'd be up for listening. She bit her lip, not sure if her bad day was worth bothering him over. Eventually she gave in, giving the door a quick three knocks.


She tried again to no avail. He didn't appear to be home. Rory sighed, her shoulders slumping as she turned to head up the next flight of stairs.

She was the laughingstock of her new co-workers, her first assignment was less than exciting, Lorelai was moving out of their house — which Rory was upset about, and she was also upset with herself for even getting so upset in the first place — and now she'd just wanted to talk to someone about all of it, but her attempt at that was foiled by her neighbor actually having somewhere to be.

She wondered if she had any ice cream in her freezer.

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫

"Oh! Rory's not with you?" Emily greeted as she opened the door.

"Wow! Way to mask your disappointment, Mom. I'm sure she will be here soon," Lorelai responded as they passed their coats to the maid.

"We're just excited to hear about her new job, Lorelai. Hello, Luke."

Lorelai snickered.

"Hello, Emily."

"Here, Mom, I brought something for you." Lorelai handed her a white cardboard box.

"Oh, a present. Thank you. Now let me see..." She lifted the lid. "What on earth are these?"

"St. Patrick's day cookies."

"They're burnt."

"Yeah, I ran out of green icing. Those ones are Guinness."

Emily's face twisted into an expression of disgust. "Charming. Gerta, could you take these to the kitchen please?"
Lorelai turned to Luke. "Most mothers are happy when their kid makes something for them and they at least pretend to like it."

Emily and Luke both rolled their eyes but were saved a response when the door bell rang.


"Hi, Grandma! Hi Mom, Luke!" Rory hugged each of them before shrugging off her coat.

"Hi, Rory!" Luke greeted.

"Hey, sweets!" Lorelai gave her a distracted hug as she stared intently at the maid.

"Well, come in, come in!" Emily excitedly ushered them towards the parlor.

Lorelai and Rory lagged slightly behind. "What's up, Mom?"

"I think Mom's finally run out of maids and has started to recycle them." Lorelai gestured towards the maid who was precariously balancing the cookie box on top of the three coats she was holding.

Rory chuckled. "Even if Grandma forgot them, do you really think any of them would come back?"

"Probably not!" Lorelai laughed as they followed the others into the parlor.

"Hello Lorelai, Rory." Richard greeted them from his position near the drinks cart.

"Hi, Dad!"

"Hi, Grandpa!" Rory walked over to give him a quick hug.

"Some wine, Rory?"

"That'd be great. Thanks, Grandpa."

"And soda for you, Lorelai?" Richard asked as he handed Luke a beer.

""Umm... actually, Dad, do you have any apple juice?"

"If we don't, I am sure Gerta could make some."

"Make some?" Lorelai spluttered.

"Oh yes, we have a new juicer now. It makes the most delicious fruit juices," Emily informed her.

"It's okay, Mom, a soda will be fine."

"Nonsense. Gerta! Some apple juice for my daughter please."

Rory nudged Lorelai. "Stop trying to think up excuses to get another look at the maid," she hissed.

"What? I'm not! I'm pregnant. I was craving apple juice," Lorelai muttered back.

"Uh huh!" Rory replied skeptically.

"What are you two muttering about over there?" Emily asked.

"Oh, Rory was just telling me how she can't wait to tell you all the details of her first day at work yesterday."

Rory gasped.

"Oh yes, Rory. We want to hear all about it," Emily spoke eagerly.

"Well, a lot of people are out of the office at the moment, so it's been pretty quiet so far."

"Oh really?" Lorelai gasped, the innocent tone of her voice belied by the mocking grin she couldn't contain. "That's awful. I hope you found a way to entertain yourself without resorting to watching reruns of Upstairs, Downstairs on your iPod?"

"Really, Lorelai," Richard scolded. "I am sure that Rory was more professional than that."

"You're right. It was probably Trapped," she snickered. "She's had a thing for Kevin Bacon ever since she saw Footloose for the first time."

"Ah... I believe that was you, Mom."

Lorelai patted Luke's leg. "Don't believe her, honey. You know I only watch for the storylines."

Luke shook his head but was saved from responding by Emily. "So when do you think your first article will come out? We can't wait to see it."

"Yes. Now that you are going to be working at The Courant, we've decided to get two subscriptions."

"Oh, wow! Two," Rory stuttered.

"One each. Your grandfather hogs the paper in the morning so I need one of my own now that your work will be appearing in it regularly."

"Well actually, I'm not sure when my first article comes out, but I'll be sure to let you know."

"No need! We check it every morning over breakfast."

"Cover to cover," Richard agreed.

"Both of us," Emily added.

"Oh boy!" Rory sighed.

"Oh Rory, it's okay. Your grandparents are just proud of you. Why don't you tell them more about your first day?" Lorelai snickered.

Gerta quietly entered the parlor at that moment and announced, "Dinner's ready."

"Oh good!" Rory jumped to her feet.

Emily and Richard looked up, startled by her quick reaction.

"Sorry, I'm... ah... quite hungry... After working all day," she stammered.

"Well in that case, let's eat. You can tell us all about it over dinner," Emily replied.

As they all stood and made their way to the dining room, Lorelai started to sing softly under her breath, "Well now I'm trapped... Ooh yeah... Trapped," which earned her a dirty look from Rory.

♫   ♫   ♫  

"The lamb was delicious, Emily," Luke spoke as the maid delivered the coffees.

"Thank you, Luke. I'm glad you liked it."

"Enjoy it while you can, my boy," Richard informed him. "The only time Emily allows red meat on the menu these days is on Friday nights. I am sure we will be back to fish every night after Lorelai has the baby."

"Fish is good for you, Richard. You know you have to be careful with your diet."

"Yes dear, but it does get rather monotonous sometimes."

"At least you're not eating tofurkey, Dad."

"Tofurkey?" Emily wrinkled her nose.

"Or soy steak," Luke added.

"That sounds atrocious," Richard gasped.

"I don't recommend it."

"Isn't that what Annette Gilbert ordered at Henman's the other night?" Emily asked.

"Oh dear god! I believe it was."

"Cross Henman's off your list, Rory," Lorelai said.

"Somehow I doubt I could afford it anyway. But good to know."

"You know the Gilberts, Lorelai," Emily informed her.

"I do? 'Cause I'm drawing a blank here."

"You used to play dolls with their daughter when you were five."

"Melissa?" Lorelai asked.

Rory snickered.

"Katherine." Emily corrected.

"Nope. Still don't know her." Lorelai shook her head.

"Well apparently she is moving in a couple of weeks."

"To the prairies?"


"Nothing. Go on. The Gilberts' daughter is moving in a couple of weeks..."



"And what?" Emily asked.

"Well I assumed that there was more to your story than informing me that a girl I don't remember is moving to some unknown destination in a couple of weeks."

"Not really."

Lorelai and Rory shared confused looks across the table.

"I just thought it was interesting that she is moving in a couple of weeks and she was polite enough to share that information with her parents. They don't have to wait until their Christmas card comes back return to sender."

"O-kay," Lorelai drew out the word.

"Or perhaps they wouldn't have to wait until Christmas. Maybe they would have found out in a couple of months when they went to see their new grandchild and discovered that they had moved out."

"The Gilberts are expecting another grandchild too?" Richard asked in surprise.

"No. They are not."

"Oh!" Richard looked bewildered.

"Mom? What's going on? Perhaps you'd like to share with the table?"

"You know perfectly well what's going on, Lorelai. Were you even going to send us a change of address card?"

Lorelai and Luke shared a shocked look, then Lorelai glanced at Rory.

She shrugged. "I didn't say anything."

"Mom? How did you..."

"Archie and David came in for their pedicures today."

"Archie and David?" Rory asked.

"Reverend Skinner and Rabbi Barans," Lorelai explained. "Mom makes sure their feet are clean."

"How biblical."

"How did Reverend Skinner and Rabbi Barans know we were talking about moving?" Luke asked. "We haven't even started looking yet."

"You haven't?" Emily looked surprised.

"Nope. We see the mortgage broker next week," Lorelai informed her.

"Oh. Archie said you were moving next week. He heard it from Mrs. Kim, who got it from Zach. I believe Mrs. Cassini told him about it. Something about Luke not needing him at the diner after next week because you were moving and couldn't afford to keep him with a new house and a new baby."

Luke gaped. "Wow! No wonder Zach's been acting so weird lately."

"If you need a bigger house with the baby coming, your mother and I would be happy to buy one for you," Richard offered.

"Yes. I wonder if that house we found a few years ago is back on the market," Emily mused. "That was a beautiful place."

Luke looked stunned. "Uh, no. Thank you, that's very kind of you. But unnecessary."

"Nonsense. We didn't help out when Rory was a baby, and perhaps we should have. We're not going to make the same mistake again," Richard informed them.

Luke turned to Lorelai, panic radiating from him.

"Thanks, Dad. But we don't need it. Honestly. We have an appointment at the bank next week to assess what we can afford. It's all good. I promise."

"I shall call the realtor tomorrow. Maybe we can make an offer to the current owners to move out," Emily continued as if they hadn't spoken.

"No! Mom!"

"You liked that house, Lorelai. We should see if it is available."

"It's a little bigger than what we were looking to buy, Mom."

"Well your father and I will help you out. We were going to buy one for you before."

"I know. But not this time. Please, Mom. We'd like to do this ourselves."

"It wouldn't hurt to look, Lorelai."

"Mom, please. Can we drop it?"

"My realtor is very good. You just might find something you like. Are you going to miss out on your dream house because you were too stubborn to look?"

Lorelai sighed. "No."

Rory gave her a sympathetic look while Luke reached his hand out to rub the small of her back.

"I will call the realtor first thing."

"Fine," Lorelai's voice was soft and defeated.

"Thank you, Emily," Luke spoke up.

"Cookie anyone?" Lorelai offered with a wry smile.

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫

St. Patrick's Day morning, Lorelai stomped into the kitchen still wearing pajamas and clutching a wad of green fabric. "My shirt doesn't fit," she complained to Luke, pouting.

Luke, at the stove preparing scrambled eggs, just shrugged. "So get a different one."

"It's my St. Patrick's Day one," Lorelai whined as she flopped down into a chair at the table. "I don't know how I forgot that I'm three hundred pounds and can't even get my left boob into my normal shirt," she lamented.

"You're not three hundred pounds," said Luke automatically.

Lorelai smiled wryly at Luke's well-practiced attempt to placate her. "Gee, I've never heard that before. But I don't even own anything maternity that's green that I can wear instead," she continued complaining. "All I have is socks."

"Great," replied Luke. "There ya go, wear the socks." He slid their breakfasts onto plates and joined her at the table, at which point Lorelai lifted up her shamrock-sock-clad feet and placed them in his lap.

"Yeah, see, that's great, because they're really cute," she said, wiggling her toes for emphasis, "but I have to put shoes on over them. Boots even," she added, frowning, "because it's gross and rainy."

Luke eyed her pointedly and stated, with odd emphasis, "It's not just rain..."

Lorelai sighed morosely, missing the stress as she poked at her eggs. "Yes it is. It's gross and gray and rainy and too warm."

"Go look outside," Luke said, patting her calf and sliding her legs off his lap.

Lorelai looked up from her food, confused. "What?"

Nodding his head in the direction of the door, Luke insisted, "Just go look."

Eyeing him with a mixture of suspicion and amusement, Lorelai obeyed and got up from the table. In the foyer, she yanked open the front door and gasped at the sight. "Green snow. Green snow?" she asked incredulously. A patch about the size of a small swimming pool was covered with a thin layer of quickly melting, but nonetheless tinted a faint green, snow.

Luke, who had followed her out the door and onto the porch, slipped a jacket over her shoulders and wrapped his arms around her stomach. "It's not the whole square," he said, as she felt him shrug behind her, "but it's something. Skating rinks always have piles of snow sitting outside." After a moment, he added apologetically, "I'm sorry about the other day. The yelling and the space thing."

"It's something," Lorelai repeated in awe. "That it is," she agreed, adding as she turned her head to face him, "And so are you. Don't worry about the... house thing. We're good." She gave him a quick kiss of gratitude before turning and dropping her head to address her growing belly. "You can't see it, but Daddy did the sweetest thing," she whispered, placing her hands over Luke's. "We got green snow for St. Patrick's Day."

Luke gave her abdomen a little tap and said in her ear, "Check the freezer."

Lorelai turned to face him again, surprised. "What?"

"Something the kid can experience too," answered Luke. "Sort of."

"Really?" Lorelai asked, her eyes lighting up.

Luke nodded, sending Lorelai scurrying back into the house towards the refrigerator. "Ooh, a snow cone," she exclaimed, before pausing and rephrasing. "Snow bowl. But green." She grinned, and held the bowl down near her midsection. "Look at this, kiddo, betcha he won't let you get fake colors like this and my cookies once you come out..."

"Got that right," Luke interjected with a vehement nod.

Not having realized Luke was back in the kitchen too, Lorelai whirled around and flashed him a wide smile. "Thank you."

Luke smiled bashfully in return. "You're welcome," he said. "Happy St. Patrick's Day."

After sticking the bowl back in the freezer, Lorelai crossed the kitchen, and upon reaching Luke, pulled him in for a proper kiss of gratitude. When they parted, she looked up at him slyly. "It'll make it happier if you're in the Bee..."

"I'll watch you in it," Luke replied, shaking his head. "And April and Rory. But that's it."

"Party pooper," Lorelai said with a pout.

Luke chuckled, going back to his breakfast. "Green snow, remember?"

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫

Tuesday evening, with most of the town decked out in green, the Bee was in full swing. Taylor, as per usual, had declared himself in charge. The competition had begun rather oddly, with all sorts of school children from kindergarten up scattered throughout the masses of adults who had ended up joining as well. Predictably, the younger set was eliminated rather quickly, foiled by things like 'weird' and 'psychic.'

Lorelai did have to snicker from her seat in line when Babette missed 'psychedelic,' only to be shown up by the fifth grader just after her who spelled it correctly.

"I lived it, dolls," Babette hissed with a wink, leaning down to giggling Lorelai and April as she made her way from the podium, "I don't need to know how to spell it."

The Bee progressed at a fairly quick clip; Rory and April held their own with no issues. Even Lorelai, rather proud of herself for doing so, had managed to stick around through a number of rounds, in part by somehow guessing the correct number of 'p's, 'r's, and 'l's in 'apparel.' In time, the number of contestants was whittled down on account of things like Lulu forgetting the very same 'i before e' rule she preached in her own classroom, and Mrs. Kim refusing on principle to spell 'brassiere' in a public forum.

With only a small handful of spellers remaining, Lorelai approached the microphone for her next turn. As she was holding, and still swallowing, the remnants of one of her many green beer cookies — for which Taylor had already reprimanded her — his eyes narrowed in her direction while she awaited her word.

"Gneiss, Lorelai. Your word is gneiss."

"Nice?" Lorelai blurted out in disbelief. "Like nice nice?"

Taylor simply replied, "Gneiss."

Lorelai scoffed. "Yeah, but it can't actually be nice." She gave Taylor a menacing glare. "I know you," she hissed, pointing at him accusingly. "Can I have the definition?"

"No," Taylor said shortly.

"Taylor!" Lorelai spat out. "I'm supposed to be able to get the definition."

"No one else has asked for a definition," Taylor countered.

"So?" was Lorelai's retort. "I am."

Taylor shifted in his seat, brushing off his cardigan and adjusting his posture authoritatively. "Well, you can't have one," he declared, before hurriedly admitting, "We don't have a dictionary."

"Of course not." Lorelai rolled her eyes, placing her hands on her hips. "Can I at least have it in a sentence?" she asked.

"Very well," Taylor acquiesced. "'The next word on my list is gneiss.'"

Lorelai's jaw dropped. "Taylor..."

"Lorelai," Taylor mimicked, adding in a tone of mock warning, "Your time limit is nearly up..."

Lorelai scowled in his direction. She knew there was no way Taylor was nice enough to give her a word like nice; there had to be a catch, which meant she was probably out regardless. "Fine," she huffed. "Nice. T-A-Y-L-O-R-I-S-A-N-E-V-I-L-M-E-A-N-A-S-S-H—"

She didn't get to finish her jab, as Taylor leapt out of his chair, waving his arms to cut her off. "You know very well that is incorrect, young lady," he scolded. "Now if you'll remove yourself from my stage immediately. You should be ashamed of yourself, Lorelai," he hissed, wagging his finger at her. And gesturing to the number of already-eliminated young children sitting in the audience, he added, "You're just lucky that none of our impressionable youth have been taught to spell properly."

"Whatever, Taylor," Lorelai answered flippantly, not even bothering to look back up at him. Instead she sat down, picked up her cookies, and focused an intense gaze on Rory and April. "You two. It's all you," she insisted, pointing with two fingers from her own eyes to the two girls. "Do it."

April just giggled and rattled off the correct spelling of 'gneiss.'

His gaze darting between the women of the Gilmore-Danes family, Taylor looked like he didn't quite follow. "Ah yes, correct," he finally said, turning to the remaining contestants. "Now, moving on. Gypsy, 'sapphire.'"

Gypsy looked moderately pensive for a split second, then shrugged. "Sapphire. S-A-P-H-I-R-R-E. Sapphire."

"No, I'm sorry," Taylor said, oozing false sympathy, "Have a seat."

Frowning as she descended the step, Gypsy muttered, "Sure, Cassini gets 'carburetor,' I get 'sapphire.' All that jewelry crap, not so much."

Ignoring Gypsy, Taylor continued, addressing the next in line. "Kirk, 'sapphire.'"

After a melodramatic pause, Kirk began reciting in an inordinately slow monotone, "Sapphire. S-A-P-P-H-I-R-E. Sapphire."

Taylor nodded. "You are correct."

"It's Mother's favorite gemstone," Kirk said proudly.

Lorelai snickered aloud, and even Taylor shot Kirk an odd look. "Fine, fine," he said. "Let's move along."

The bee continued ad nauseam, with Kirk, Rory, and April each correctly spelling a handful of words. Lorelai groaned loudly from her seat in the audience each time Kirk got one right, rubbing her sore back and bemoaning the fact that she'd long since finished her stash of cookies.

She clapped when April got another correct, but rolled her eyes when Kirk strode to the podium once more.

"Kirk, your next word is 'antecedent,'" informed Taylor.

Kirk proceeded with the same gaudy show of hemming and hawing over the word before finally clearing his throat. "Antecedent," he finally said flatly. "A-N-T-E-C-E-D-A-N-T. Antecedent."

Taylor shook his head, stating, "I'm sorry, Kirk, you are incorrect. Please exit the stage."

Kirk's jaw dropped, then closed in defiance. He refused to move for a moment, but finally — prompted by a stern look from Lulu in the back — crossed his arms in front of his chest and stomped animatedly off the stage.

With Kirk gone from the contest, Taylor scanned the list of words in front of him and looked up at the two remaining competitors on stage. "Well, well, well, look who we have left," he remarked snidely. "If I hadn't chosen these words myself, I'd think you two were in cahoots with your mother — your step-mother," he added for April's benefit, all the while glaring down at a particularly triumphant-looking Lorelai in the audience, "to fix this competition."

"Taylor," Rory reasoned, "I went to Yale. I work for a newspaper. I know how to spell on my own."

Taylor appeared just about to address Rory's words when, from about halfway down the aisle, came a shout from Kirk. "She did!" he yelped, whirling around to point accusingly at Rory. "She went to Yale!" he cried. "She works in Hartford! She," he focused on April, "lives with her mother!"

"Whoa there, Kirk," Lorelai muttered to herself, snickering at his antics.

Befuddled, Taylor asked Kirk, "Yes, Kirk, what is your point?"

"They don't live here!" Kirk shouted, running closer to the stage. "They can't be in our town's contest! I win! They can't be here!"

Miss Patty, official timekeeper, spoke up as Kirk blew by, interjecting, "Kirk, I don't know if—"

"Well, no," Taylor interrupted, "hold on here. Kirk does have a point," he agreed. "Now, in all the haste to bring these festivities to fruition, we may have neglected to include in the official rule booklet a residency requirement." He turned to address Rory and April. "Ladies, what do you have to say for yourselves?"

"Taylor, I've lived here my entire life," Rory reminded him incredulously.

"And I live with dad part-time," reasoned April. "I go to school here."

"But where, ladies," Taylor addressed them snidely, "is your official residence? Where does your mail go? Where do you sleep the majority of the time?"

"Rory's tax booklet came here!" Lorelai piped up.

Taylor shot her a disapproving glare. "Would the audience please refrain from voicing their opinions on the matter?" Turning back to the two on the stage, he addressed Rory pointedly. "Rory?"

Slumping in her chair, Rory rolled her eyes and begrudgingly mumbled, "Hartford..."

"And April," Taylor said, "while she may be now, do you think Rory was a Hartford resident just because she went to high school there and visited her grandparents there?"

"No," April agreed, though still looking dubious, "but I don't just visit—"

"Well then," declared Taylor, paying April's protest absolutely no mind, "by the power vested in me as the official town spelling bee adjudicator, Master-of-Ceremonies, and organizer, I hereby disqualify one Miss Rory Gilmore and one Miss April Nardini on the basis of invalid residency claims. Congratulations to Kirk, the champion of our first annual spelling bee!"

"That's not fair!" shouted Lorelai, though her hauling herself up out of her chair with her hand on her stomach didn't have quite the effect as if she'd been able to jump to a standing position.

Even Luke, a silent bystander aside from clapping for the girls, took a step towards Taylor from his spot in the back, glowering. "Taylor, April lives with me, with us. And our address here is the official address on record with the high school."

"Yes, yes, Lucas, that is all well and good," came Taylor's retort, "but the bottom line is, does she devote more than 50% of her time to living in, and supporting, this town? I don't think so; she lives with her mother most of the week. Well, that settles that," he declared happily as he turned to address the audience. "Now then. Happy St. Patrick's Day to you all, and," he added, winking at all who remained in the room, "don't forget to stop by the Soda Shoppe on your way home to buy yourself a limited edition Shamrock Swirl Sundae!"

Blatantly ignoring anything Taylor had to say at that point, Lorelai grabbed her purse and headed for the corner where Luke stood, Rory and April not far behind.

"I can't believe him," exclaimed Luke, shooting Taylor a nasty look over the girls' heads. Looking down at Rory and April, he added, "You two did so well."

"I can't believe it was Kirk," Lorelai spat. "You had it until he started whining."

"Mom, it's okay," Rory assured her.

"Yeah Dad, it's fine," April agreed good-naturedly. "I had fun anyway. That was probably more entertaining than winning."

"No, it's not fine," Lorelai lamented, "it's Kirk."

Luke gave Lorelai a soft rub on the back in an attempt to placate her, though she kept right on pouting and glaring at Kirk who was now prancing around with his trophy. "Alright," Luke finally said, "I've got to check on the diner before I bring you home. You guys want anything? Pie? Coffee?" he asked, nudging Lorelai.

April's head shot up at the suggestion, her expression hopeful. "Cherry?"

Luke nodded with a smile. "Yup. Rory?"

Rory shrugged. "I think I'm just going to head out," she replied, her tone rather blasé.

Lorelai frowned at what seemed to be a rather gray mood for Rory, and turned to her. "You sure?" she asked, concerned.

But Rory just nodded and pulled on her coat, confirming, "Yeah." With that she headed for the door, offering over her shoulder a generic "Bye" to her family.

Luke and April eyed Lorelai questioningly. She just shrugged. The trio moved to put on their own coats, heading towards the diner once they stepped outside.

Out of the corner of her eye, Lorelai caught a glimpse of Sookie and Davey headed down the street.

"Hey," Lorelai said, tugging on Luke's sleeve, "save me some decaf. I'm gonna try and catch up to Sookie."

With Rory on her way back to Hartford and Luke escorting April to the diner for a little consolation pie, Lorelai hurried as best she could after Sookie, who she could still see with Davey just down the block. "Sookie!" she called after her, hoping she could get her to stop.

Luckily Sookie heard and Lorelai was able to catch her pregnant self up without too much discomfort. "Hey," she said as she approached the duo. "So where was the little spelling prodigy?"

Sookie's face fell immediately. "She's not," she wailed, and then covered Davey's ears. "She's as dumb as the rest of us."

"Aw, Sook," Lorelai said. "What happened?"

"She can't spell," Sookie fretted. "She's can't even spell our last name! She was just repeating what she heard Jackson teaching Davey. I tried to test her on other words and she just kept spelling the first list. She'll never get into Chilton."

Lorelai offered a wan smile. "She's got plenty of time for that, Sook," she assured her friend. "And she's not dumb."

Sookie would not be convinced. "Yes, she is!" she cried. Looking down at Davey, she clamped her hands tighter over his ears and dropped her voice to an intense whisper. "And you saw how bad Davey did! Wanda's probably stupid too. We're doomed as a family," she moaned.

"Sookie," Lorelai chuckled. "They're little. Give it time. But," she added with a smirk, "if it makes you feel better, Luke and I won't teach this one its last name either. Then Martha won't be the only one ostracized for being last-name-stupid."

Sookie nodded thoughtfully. "Thanks."

Lorelai just laughed.

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫

By the time Rory made it back to her apartment building after the Bee, she was more than glad to be home. She didn't particularly care about the stupid Stars Hollow Spelling Bee, but the whole disqualification as a non-resident just amplified the malaise she'd been feeling since she'd found out Luke and her mom were thinking of moving out of the Crap Shack. She wasn't particularly looking forward to work the next day either. The emergency exit stair thing was fading at the office, but there were still those few holdouts who wouldn't let her forget it. Not to mention the fact that her story was about as exciting as a doorstop.

She was really starting to look forward to just curling up in front of the TV before bed when she found Kevin in front of her apartment door. "Oh!" she exclaimed, surprised to see him there since she hadn't actually seen him in a week or so. "Hi..."

"Hey," he replied, sounding a little bashful for having been found looking for her.

Rory was just beginning to ask what he was doing upstairs at her door with a befuddled "Wha—" when he cut her off unceremoniously.

"I've got pizza," he offered.

Rory tilted her head in confusion.

"Work sucked," he blurted out. "Teaching sucks."

Chuckling softly, Rory offered a sympathetic smile as he continued.

"And we haven't run into each other for a while. You started the new job, right?" he asked. Smirking, he nudged her in the arm. "Got anything that'll make me feel better about mine?"

"You know," Rory admitted with her first genuine grin in a while, "I just might."

Kevin returned the smile.

"And," Rory added in a teasing voice as she started down the stairs towards his place, "if you got those cinnamon things, there might even be a story about a town spelling bee in it for you..."

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫

After consolation pie at the diner and then dropping April off at Anna's, Luke and Lorelai headed home for bed. Lorelai was already nestled in bed in her pajamas while Luke was finishing up brushing his teeth in the bathroom, and had taken to flipping through some of the real estate listings Emily had given her at the inn that day.

Choking back a laugh as she scanned the top page, she yelled to Luke in the bathroom. "Oh my God, have you looked at any of these yet?"

"What?" Luke asked, wiping his face with a towel as he came back into the bedroom.

"The listings my mother found," Lorelai snickered, skipping to the next page.

Luke snorted as he climbed into bed next to her. "I don't think I want to look."

"Five bathrooms!" she cried incredulously. "We don't even have five people in the family! And even when we do," she added, gesturing down to her stomach, "what are the odds this one's going to need its own shower?"

"Is she serious?" Luke asked, his brow furrowed as he reached for one of the papers.

"Well, this one only has four bathrooms," Lorelai mocked, rolling her eyes. She flipped through the fact sheets, reading aloud for each listing. "Another four, four, three, five. What is she trying to tell us?" she wondered aloud, disbelieving. "Are we extra dirty or something? They don't even have that many bathrooms at their house."

Luke plucked one of the stray listings from the bed. His eyebrows flew up in surprise after just a few seconds. "This one has a dumbwaiter."

That caught Lorelai's attention, and she quickly snatched the paper from him. "Ooh, where?" she gasped. "That might actually be useful. I can just call down to you in the kitchen for room service."

"Think again," Luke warned as he snatched it back, crumpled it, and tossed it on the floor.

"Fine..." Lorelai relented.

Apparently still curious, Luke picked up a second listing. "An Olympic-sized pool? Who needs that?"

"Well," Lorelai explained facetiously while still flipping through the other papers, "maybe the little one here is fated for an illustrious Olympic career. Eat your heart out, Phelps."

After Luke scoffed in response to that and looked over a third listing, he must have had enough; the next thing Lorelai knew, he had yanked all of the papers out of her hands and tossed them on the floor. "Okay, is your mother kidding? All but maybe one of these is completely out of our reach," he stated. "And way more than we need anyway."

Lorelai patted him on the leg to get him to calm down a little. "I know, babe," she said softly, "we just had to humor her. Besides," she added, with a thoughtful expression on her face, "none of them are in Stars Hollow anyway, and there is no way, absolutely no way, that I'm letting Kirk beat our family with a stupid technicality again." With animated resolve, she vowed, rubbing her stomach, "This one is the Hollow all the way. Baby's gonna beat Kirk."

"Perfect logic," Luke replied sarcastically.

Lorelai smiled and ruffled his hair playfully. "You love it."

With a knowing smile of his own, Luke leaned over and responded simply by pressing a quick kiss to her lips.

When Luke pulled away and started settling down into bed and reaching to turn off the bedside lamp, Lorelai piped up nonchalantly, "Oh," she said, "and just so you know, I did find something St. Patrick-y to wear."

"What?" Luke asked, not sounding particularly interested.

Lorelai grinned wickedly. "I'm wearing it now."

That caught Luke's attention, and he rolled over, regarding her baggy gray sweatpants and his old blue flannel shirt.

Lorelai just raised one eyebrow slyly.

With a smirk on his face, Luke slowly let his hand wander over to Lorelai, coming to rest just below her protruding belly at the waistband of her sweats. He tugged on the elastic just enough to reveal a glimpse of glittery, shamrock-adorned material.

His look of appreciation elicited a giggle from Lorelai as he pulled her in for a proper kiss.





To be continued... 




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