Episode 9.18 "How Do You Say Unsettled in Swahili?"
by sosmitten and Robinpoppins


Authors' note: We are eternally grateful to Jewels, Filo and Lula Bo for their fantastic feedback and insight, and to Jenepel and Adina for their patience!

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"So what happened next?" Lorelai asked, mid-chew, the din of something crunchy drowning out the background noise from Lorelai's end of the line. "What about Jake?"

Rory balanced the phone on her shoulder, her laptop precariously held in place under one arm, and a mug of coffee cradled against her body. She reached her couch and carefully set down the mug on the coffee table, cringing when liquid sloshed over the side and onto wood. She set the laptop down on the couch, plucked a tissue from the box on the table, and wiped up her spill. "He was perfectly respectable," she told Lorelai, continuing the conversation without any indication that something was once amiss. "And Jake as in Jacob or Jake as in and the Fatman?"

"I think the intention was clear there."

"Right... I veto Jake then." Rory picked a notepad from the table in front of her, turned to a page with 'VETO' written in large red letters and scribbled Jake at the bottom of the list. "Amelia?"

"Nooo," Lorelai groaned, abject horror evidence in her voice. "God no, veto... And when you say respectable, are you talking Andy Hardy walking you to the door, with a 'golly, this was a swell date, Miss Gilmore,' and then hat tipping? Or respectable as in really bad kisser?"


"It was a fair question!" Lorelai rebuffed. "...Seriously, is he a good kisser?"

"I'm not going to dignify that with an answer." Rory leafed through the notebook in her lap absently.

Lorelai clicked her tongue. "Poor Peter. Explains why he's looking for love on the internet now."


"Not that there's anything wrong with that."

"The Seinfeld cop-out, of course. Just for that, I think you should name your child Kirk. And you're out of vetoes."

"I can't be out of vetoes!" Lorelai scoffed loudly.

"We each had twenty vetoes when we started this baby name thing, you finished off your last one with Amelia. Kirk Danes it is then."

"I should totally get more vetoes. My child, my choice."

"Hey, I'm not the one who started the game, and I didn't come up with the rules. This is your thing, remember?"

"Just because it's my thing, doesn't mean I have to be happy about it," Lorelai said, and Rory could almost picture her pout.

Rory sighed as she flipped open the lid of her laptop and powered it up. "Shouldn't you be discussing baby names with Luke?"

"You know, as much as he plays the Bill O'Reilly, 'I have an opinion on everything,' card, he has absolutely no opinion on this."


"He shrugs," Lorelai said incredulously. "I mean, he has an opinion on what food I should eat, how the baby should be born, what rocking chair we should buy for the bedroom, but baby names... I get nothing, nada, zilch."

"Probably doesn't help that your suggestions are never serious."

"That's completely beside the point."

"Of course." Rory clicked on her internet icon, an email from her editor popping up as soon as the page loaded. "Anyway, I should—"

"No!" Lorelai interrupted. "We haven't finished talking about your date."


"Right, Pete. What do we think about Pete?"

"We think he's nice," Rory said with a shrug, pushing her computer to the side.


"And... I don't know. He's funny."

"Funny is good, we like funny."

"Yes we do."

"And is he worthy enough for a second date?"

"Well, I am going out with him tonight."

"Oh really?" Lorelai asked, her voice suddenly launching into her Arte Johnson impression. "Veddy interesting. Way to go, Pete!"

"You're rooting for him?"

"Eh, well, I like him by first name basis alone... Ooo, what do you think about Pete Danes as a name?"

Rory's brow furrowed. "Veto. The names of any of my dates, past or current, are not up for grabs."

"Fine, fine. I'll add it to the 'Names to Avoid' list." Lorelai yawned loudly into the phone. "I still don't know enough about this guy. I need the deets. The 411. The info."

"And clearly an update on modern vernacular."

"You know, once you reach 40, the need to keep up with you crazy kids goes right out the window."

"Well, what do you want to know?" Rory said with a sigh, leaning back into her couch cushions, the laptop now abandoned.

"What does he do? What does he look like?"

"Um, he's a computer programmer and designs websites. He's tall. Dark blonde hair... Glasses."

"Harry Potter, or Mr. Peabody?"

"Uh, more Clark Kent."

"Reeve, Routh, Cain, or Welling?"

"I would say all incarnations of Clark Kent would suffice."

"Whoa, what a Superman that would be. What about his email? You can tell a lot about a person from his email."

"I don't remember, let me check." Rory picked up her laptop again, and clicked on her browser. She quickly pulled up his profile from the dating website and scanned the contents.


"Zoltan? Is that a reference."

"No idea. He seems to be into some sci-fi, so maybe."

"Maybe Zoltan is his Comic Con alter ego."

"He's not that into sci-fi."

"How do you know? You've only been on one date with this guy."

"I don't know. His profile picture is sans costume so it's a safe bet." She scrolled down on his profile page, looking at the list of his favorite movies. "Wasn't the fortune teller in Big Zoltan?"

"Zoltar," Lorelai corrected. "Don't ask me how I know these things."

"Wasn't going to... What about the 42? Ring any bells with you?"

"Probably significant somehow. 42 scars on his body? 42 conquests? 42 states he's visited? 42 felony convictions?"

"Okay," Rory said, smiling. "You continue on this line of thought, I'm going to go get some work done."

"No, wait, 42 pairs of underwear owned? 42 levels he's defeated in Mortal Kombat?"

"Night, Mom."

"Hold on, what do you think of Zoltan as the name for the baby?" Lorelai shouted out. "Ah, screw it, might as well name this kid Lorelai too."

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Lorelai hung up the phone and wandered into the kitchen where Luke was inexpertly navigating through a local real estate site.

"How's Rory," he asked, without turning around from the laptop.

"She's... uh... going out on a second date with one of those internet guys. I think it's her first second date."

"Huh. What do we know about this guy?"

"Lots and lots of vague," Lorelai said, wrinkling her nose. "He's nice, she says. Apparently they had coffee last week."

"And she's sure he's not a serial rapist?"

"He's a computer programmer."

Luke turned to look at her. "One doesn't rule out the other."

"Well, she's not walking through deserted parks with him," Lorelai reasoned. "She's meeting him in a restaurant."

"Still makes me nervous."

"Aww, that's sweet, but why don't you use your unease and superstition to help me deduce what his email address means."

He shrugged. "What is it?"


"Forty-two?" Luke asked, smiling knowingly. "That's the Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything."

Lorelai raised her eyebrow. "What?"

He looked at her surprised. "Seriously? Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy? I figured Rory at least would have read it, and more importantly there was a movie, so there'd be a good chance you'd have seen it."

Lorelai snorted. "That kind of stuff is for you Trekkie types. Set your phaser to geeky."

Luke rolled his eyes, then went on, ignoring her comment. "No idea about the zoltan part though."

"Really? I figured it was some kind of sci-fi thing. Ooh, let's google it." She leaned over Luke and opened a new window, typing in the letters quickly. When the responses popped up, she scanned them quickly, freezing as she read down the list. "Robot girlfriends?"

"See?" Luke jabbed his finger at the screen. "I knew he was bad news."

"I'm sure it doesn't have anything to do with him," she said, her voice tentative as Luke looked at her skeptically. "But still. Eww."

The phone trilled from the next room and Lorelai headed toward it, calling over her shoulder, "Don't click that link!" She answered the phone distractedly only to be met with Sookie's frustrated voice.

"So, you know that great opportunity Jackson and I were going to have to go out for a date night? Because his sister's in town and offered to watch the kids?"

"Yeah, what happened?"

"Sabotage, of the vomiting kind. First Martha, then Davey," Sookie answered miserably.

"Aww, hon, I'm so sorry. I know you were looking forward to a night out."

From the kitchen, Luke called out, "Lorelai, Rory cannot go out with this guy."

"You clicked the link!" she cried in astonishment, walking toward the kitchen. "I told you not to click the link!"

"Link?" Sookie piped up, clearly confused.

"Oh, sorry, hon. There isn't anything you can do?"

"No, it's ruined. Our night is ruined," Sookie wailed.

Lorelai attempted to calm Sookie, while keeping an eye on Luke. "Well, let's just figure out how to schedule a second attempt. You know I can babysit if you need someone." She sighed as Sookie launched into a laundry list of reasons she and Jackson would never again have any alone time.

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Rory watched as Peter lined up the ball on the green, and stepped back to assess his shot. He pushed his thick, rectangular frames up his nose, and then got down on one knee, holding out his club to measure the distance from him to the windmill in front of him. He sighed.

Rory put a hand up to her mouth to help suppress a yawn. "You really take this seriously, huh?"

He stood, brushed off his jeans at the knees, and turned to face her. "Yes," he said solemnly. "There's nothing more sobering than a game of miniature golf... Well, except for when fifteen clowns try to stuff themselves into those little cars. Talk about tragic."

"Oh yeah, a traumatizing experience for me when I was young. Required years and years of therapy," Rory remarked with a grin.

A man behind them cleared his throat, and Rory and Peter both jerked their heads around to see a couple with three kids. The man tapped his club on the ground impatiently, while his wife attempted to break up a golf club "sword" fight between the two boys. Peter grinned, and winked at Rory, giving her a friendly pat on the shoulder.

"I guess I should make this shot."

"Do you have to set it up again?" she teased.

"I was thinking I would wing it this time. Risky, I know, but sometimes miniature golf is all about risk."

"Wise words."

Peter stood to the left of the ball, and took his shot. The ball rolled across the green smoothly, hitting the ramp up to the hole at the perfect angle. It narrowly avoided being knocked away by the blade of the windmill, and made it into the hole with a satisfying thump, disappearing into the windmill for a few seconds before coming out the chute at the other end and into the final hole. Peter grinned and held up his arm for a high five with Rory.

"Wow, great shot, Tiger," Rory said, slapping Peter's hand.

Peter tossed his club in the air and caught it behind Rory's back, then placed an arm around her shoulders. "Smell that? That's the smell of victory. That's the smell of me dancing all over your face."

"Ha ha," Rory responded unenthusiastically. "You are a bad winner."

"I love the smell of Astroturf in the evening." He pulled his arm away and tapped her with the club on her shoulder. "You're up, Gilmore. The pressure's on."

"Okay, but I should warn you that when I participate in physical activity of any kind, the likely result is injury." Rory pushed the sleeves of her sweater up and began to position herself at the teeing off point. She took a few practice shots, and then set her hot pink ball down on the ground.

"Well, I'm guaranteed a win, then."

Rory stood and put her free hand on her hip. "Oh, and let me also preface this by saying that I've been playing miniature golf for years, so I'm kind of a big deal."

"Is that so, Mr. Burgundy?" he questioned, amused. "Care to make this interesting?"

"Depends on the stakes."

"Loser buys ice cream after this?"

Rory bit her lip, pretending to ponder his bet. "You're on," she responded after a pause, sticking out her hand. "This is a gentleman's agreement. No backing out now."

"Huzzah," he said, shaking her hand with a grin. "Now, take the dang shot. You've stalled long enough."

Shooting him her best withering stare, she wasted no time setting up again and gave her ball a hefty whack. It bounced along the green quickly, bypassed the ramp up to the windmill, and hit one of the blades, bouncing back at top speed towards Rory and Peter. They ducked impulsively, allowing the ball to sail over their heads and straight into the lake behind them. They both straightened, shooting apologetic smiles to the family behind them. The father rolled his eyes, and the mother, who was using her arms to shield her two sons, put her arms back down slowly.

"Sorry!" Rory said with a shrug. "We're just going to..." she trailed off, pointing in the direction were her ball went. "Yeah... Play on through."

As they walked away, clubs in hand, Peter began to laugh and put his hand on her back.

"Shut up."

"For the record, I want rocky road," Peter manage to get out between chuckles.

"Shut up," she repeated, hanging her head as she spotted her ball deep in the middle of the lake.

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Lorelai drove down 5th Avenue, passing rows of idyllic, nearly identical houses. She slowed as she neared a stop sign, pausing to glance at Mrs. Cassini on her front porch, pruning the roses in the flower beds in front of it. She spotted Lorelai's jeep and waved, hedge clippers in hand. Lorelai returned the wave, checked for oncoming traffic, and turned onto Kumquat Street. Passing a few houses, she spotted Luke's truck on the left, and she turned her wheel, pulling in behind him. After turning off the car, she stepped out, watching as Luke shut the door of his truck.

"We could've come together, you know," Lorelai said, adjusting her sweater over her stomach as she approached Luke.

"That's what I said this morning. You said that since I was coming from the diner, and you were coming from the inn, that we should just meet in the middle."

"I did?"

"Yes." Luke placed his hand on her lower back, kissed her forehead and began to lead her up the path to the white house in front of them. They passed the 'For Sale' sign on the lawn, and Luke pointed at the windows. "Nice shutters."

"How do I not remember that?"

"I asked you after I got out of the shower, when you were still in bed."

"Was I awake?"

"You were speaking in full sentences."

"Which is an indication of nothing. You need to at least give me a mug of coffee before you ask me questions."

Luke rolled his eyes. "You'd think I'd know that by now... And since when is there a Kumquat Street in Stars Hollow?"

"I don't know," Lorelai commented as they approached the front door. "1995? Maybe '97. I just remember it was that same year that we had all those 'Fruit of the Month' festivals."

"Taylor's clearly running out of fruit street names."

"Oh, but hon, that line of thinking is the exact reason why you are still surprised by what Taylor does every day." They paused on the porch, and Lorelai looked around, taking in her surroundings. "I just got the strangest feeling of déjà vu."

"We haven't been here before."

"I think I have. Maybe it was in another life."

"Maybe," Luke said absently, studying one of the porch rails.

"Or like a time travel thing... Oh! I'm unstuck in time!"

"You gonna knock on the door, or should I?"

"Luke, I need you to be my constant," Lorelai teased, linking arms with him as they walked to the door.

"I guess that means I am knocking on the door." Luke rapped on the door, and it was quickly opened by Brian, adorned in a maroon blazer.

"Hey, guys, glad you made it." He held open the door for them, stepping to the side to allow Luke and Lorelai to enter. "This place is barely recognizable, huh?"

"What?" Luke questioned, inspecting the stone tile under his feet.

"You saw Kirk's house flip, right?"

"Yes," Lorelai said, looking around the empty foyer curiously.

"Well, this is the same house. Or, the same house after extensive remodeling. Kirk's buyer really turned this place around."

"I knew I had been here before!" Lorelai exclaimed, pointing her finger at Luke in victory. "Didn't recognize it without all the... shimmery wallpaper."

"Or the giant horse fountain on the front lawn," Luke added.

"Follow me, then. I'll show you what was done to the place," Brian said, gesturing with his arm to the next room. After giving the foyer another glance, Luke and Lorelai followed Brian into the living room.

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"God, I love a man who can pull that off," Tess remarked, eyes glued to the television screen in Rory's apartment. Anthony Bourdain was chatting with some locals about the best delicacies in Singapore. Tess unconsciously licked her lips.

Rory grimaced. "I don't think I can take much more of this."

"The food?"

"You! This Anthony Bourdain obsession of yours has got to stop."

"Well, my roommate is always hogging the TV at my place, so this is the only place where I can take in his whole physique." She sighed. "Mmm, what a stone cold fox."

"I don't see it," Rory remarked, her brow furrowed as she scrutinized him.

"What's not to love? The wavy hair, the booming voice, the boundless honesty? Man, he's sexy... And did I mention that I need a boyfriend?"

"Mmhm, several times."

"I really need one. I hate dry spells."

"Me too," Rory said distractedly, studying the contents of her nearly empty popcorn bowl.

"Hold it right there, brazen woman! You had a date last night!" Tess bounced on the couch, turning towards Rory, Anthony Bourdain momentarily forgotten. "How was it?"

She smiled. "It wasn't bad. We went miniature golfing. It was fun."

"You like him?"

"I... I don't know. I'm not sure yet... He's nice."


"Uh... yeah. I think so. More of a nerdy, unconventional, kind of attractive... I don't know how to describe him."

"He's very... blob-like in my head right now," Tess commented, gesturing with one hand in circles.

"Yeah, I just don't... oh, he wears glasses. I've never dated anyone with glasses before."

"Urkle or Tenant?"

"Definitely more Tenant."

Tess grinned. "I like him already."

"He does have some good qualities," Rory said. She bit her lip in thought.


"But... I don't know. I'm just a little surprised that nothing catastrophic has happened yet. I mean, I have absolutely nothing bad to say about him. The one low point I could think of is when he spent twenty minutes telling me why Gaeta should've been revealed as the final Cylon instead of Ellen Tigh."

"What?" Tess asked, brow furrowed.

"It would take me too long to explain."

Tess reached over and took a kernel from Rory's bowl. "You're not feeling a spark."

"Maybe that's it. I don't know. I feel like I should give him a shot, though. He's a nice guy."

"So you've said."

"Yeah." She leaned back into the cushions of the couch, eyes focused straight ahead. "He asked me out for Saturday. Maybe I should just go, to make sure that there's nothing there. Or, I guess to see if there is something. Sparks can happen over time, right?"

"Sure... but sometimes they never do."

"Yeah... Oh, I think Anthony is going for a swim."

"Whoa!" Tess jerked her head back to the TV, instantly enthralled, as he walked towards a beach. "Conversation pause, we have to watch this."

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"I really liked the curtains in the first house," Lorelai remarked, leaning over the counter as far as her belly would allow to point to one of the handouts Brian gave them. "I can't stand billowy curtains. These were more drapey. I like drapey curtains."

"You do realize that the curtains don't come with the house, right?" Luke commented as he passed her on his way to deliver plates to a table in the corner. "And drapey curtains are called drapes."

"Well, look who died and made you Doug Wilson."

"You've seen the curtains in my apartment. I have my moments." Luke returned to his post behind the counter, and glanced down at the array of papers Lorelai set it in front of her.

"Any front runners yet?"

"We've only seen two houses, babe," she reminded him, taking a sip of the mug to her right. "Although, I'm kinda sold on the drapes. You know how people leave stuff behind when they move? Maybe they'll leave those drapes."

"They don't match anything we own."

"Again, who are you, and what happened to Luke?"

"I would have let you keep the curtains," Kirk, who was sitting a few seats down from Lorelai, muttered under his breath.

"What was that, Kirk?" Lorelai asked.

Kirk stirred his soup with a frown. He scooped up some broth with his spoon, and after a few seconds, dropped it back in to his bowl slowly. "Nothing. Nothing. Maybe you should ask Brian."

Lorelai shot Luke a confused look. Luke shrugged. "Um, okay, Kirk."

"I thought you really liked this one," Luke said, pointing to a handout to Lorelai's right. "It had that window seat in the bedroom that you were crazy about."

"Yeah, but only three bedrooms. I think we need four."

Luke adjusted his cap and leaned over the papers. "Rory and April could always share a room, if that's the house you like."

"Ugh, I feel bad asking them to do that, though. We might as well stay at our house if we are going to do that."

"Sure, four bedrooms. Did anyone ask me if I knew of any four bedroom houses?" Kirk mumbled.

"Care to elaborate on that one, Godfather?" Lorelai directed at Kirk.

"Sorry," Kirk said, then whispered to himself. "Damn Brian... maroon jacket... and that rock and roll music... sex guitar."

"It's getting a little..." Lorelai trailed off, gesturing at Kirk.

"Parents of the Elvis generation?" Luke added.

"Yeah, exactly!" She looked down at the papers again. "I just don't know, Luke. I'm not getting the vibe."

"We don't have to make any decisions yet."

"I know... I just feel like I should be able to choose between the two, just to have a front runner. Maybe we should ask Brian for some more options."

"Oh, for God's sake!" Kirk shouted, dropping the spoon into his bowl violently, broth sloshing onto the counter. "Brian this, Brian that! Brian showed us some great houses! Brian is the real estate god!"

"Wow, emotions," Lorelai said to Luke under her breath.

"What the hell is the matter with you?" Luke shouted back, brows furrowed in incredulity.

"Whatever happened to 'you have your real estate license, Kirk. Why don't you show us some houses, Kirk? Hey, how about that old house flip of yours? You must know more about it than your archrival, Brian.'"

"Kirk, honey," Lorelai began, her expression sympathetic. "We didn't know you still had your real estate license."

"Of course I still have it! I'm up to date on all the trainings I have ever received for work. It's my thing."

"Right, of course you do. Our mistake," Lorelai remarked, shrugging at Luke. He crossed his arms at his chest.

Kirk stood, pulled a briefcase up off the floor and dropped it on the counter. He angrily flipped open the restraints and pulled out a folder. "Here," he groused, thrusting the folder at Luke. "Some places I looked into for you when I heard you were searching. Now, I have to go to work."

"Wow." Lorelai stood, leaning over the counter to catch a glance at the folder. "It's very..."

"Thorough," Luke finished, flipping through the pages.

"That was really sweet of you, Kirk. Maybe we can take a look at some of these?"

"Yes, well, maybe. I left a business card with you in the folder."

"Why is the diner phone number listed on here?" Luke asked, holding out the card for Kirk to see.

"In case of emergencies. Just give me a call and we'll set up an appointment."

"Sure," Lorelai said.

Kirk picked up his briefcase and walked to the door, his expression remaining unchanged. He opened the door, and paused. "I could show you something tomorrow morning, if you like."

"Sounds great, Kirk," Luke responded, handing the folder to Lorelai.

Kirk walked out the door, and marched in the direction of Doose's. Just before he went out of sight, he shot his fist into the air in triumph. Lorelai shot Luke a wide-eyed expression, sat back down on her stool, and took a sip of coffee.

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Emily's teaspoon tapped against the side of her cup as she stirred the sugar into her tea. Richard looked up from his paper and gave her a small nod before flipping the page and continuing to read.

Satisfied that the sugar was properly dissolved, Emily leaned back in her chair and took a few sips. "So," she started slowly, "what does your schedule look like this week?" When he didn't respond she continued, "Richard?"

He glanced up at her. "Hmmm?"

She raised her eyebrows. "I asked what your schedule was like this week."

Richard sighed at his paper and set it down reluctantly. "Just the typical classes and office hours."

She nodded and took another sip of tea. "No meetings?"

He gave a wry grin. "Thankfully, no. The infernal department meetings have been put off until Bruce Langdon recovers from his hip replacement."

"Hip replacement? My, we are getting to that age, aren't we?"

He smiled warmly at her. "You, my dear, are as spry as ever. I certainly don't see any replacement surgeries of any type in your future."

"Such a sweet talker," Emily said with a smile.

Richard just gave a small chuckle before returning to his paper. After a few moments, without looking up from the paper, he said, "Oh, and there's that dinner with Professor Krupkin and his wife on Wednesday. Apparently she's been insisting upon it."

"Oh, but Richard," Emily protested. "That is the night that Tasha and I are doing inventory for the spa. She's going to teach me the system so that she and I can alternate inventory responsibility once Lorelai goes on maternity leave. I'm sure I mentioned it to you."

"Well, that's an unfortunate conflict," Richard replied distractedly. Still reading, he pointed a long finger toward the page. "There's an interesting article for my class."

Emily shook her head at his single-mindedness and then reached for a scone, taking a delicate bite before setting it down on her plate.

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"Now, if you look over here to your left, there's some great storage space in this closet," Kirk directed as Luke and Lorelai followed him into one of the bedrooms. Kirk was wearing a microphone headset, his voice even more amplified in the empty room. Luke and Lorelai glanced around the room, taking in their surroundings. "Perfect for any Carrie Bradshaws in the family, or the odd Christmas decoration that doesn't quite fit into the shed outside."

"He so rehearsed this," Luke whispered to Lorelai, gently guiding her with a hand on her lower back.

"Didn't you see?" Lorelai responded softly, leaning in close to Luke. "He's reading from a script."

"Ah. That explains it."

"Now this room can get a little toasty in the summer," Kirk continued, oblivious to the chatter from Luke and Lorelai, "because of its Southern exposure, but add some of those drapes that I'm sure you love, Lorelai, and it cools right down. Insert laughter here."

Luke and Lorelai stopped, and glanced at each other. Lorelai bit her lip to keep from giggling. Paper rustled in the microphone as Kirk pored over the page. He coughed, realizing his error, and then filled the room with canned, uncomfortable laughter.

"Let's move on to the next room, or as the French say..."

Ignoring Kirk's commentary, Lorelai leaned close to Luke. "Rory's room. She's always cold, so the extra warmth wouldn't bother her, and that window brings in great natural sunlight for when she reads. I'm thinking... taupe for the walls. Light blue accents."

"You've got this planned," Luke remarked, impressed.

"Just thinking out loud, not willing to make any decisions yet."

"... And then my mother found me outside with the garden hose," Kirk said, from outside the room. Realizing that he had ventured out into the hall, they left the bedroom and followed Kirk into the next room. "But enough about me, let's look inside this little gem."

They walked inside a slightly smaller room, with a small closet to their right. "Baby's room," Lorelai said right away.

"Don't let the limited storage space scare you off, folks," Kirk said, gesturing to the closet. "A few well placed rods, and some nifty woven baskets, and you're in organizational heaven."

"I swear he's been taking a class," Luke muttered. "Why is this the baby's room?"

"The small closet isn't that big of a deal right now, since he or she won't need to put very much in there. We have that dresser you made, anyway. I say we lose the mirrored door on the closet, replace it with French doors, angle the crib in the corner over there, and put the dresser and changing table on the opposite wall."

"No paint colors yet," Luke teased.

"Green," Lorelai said after a short pause. "Not a bright green, more of sage. We'll pick accent colors when the baby is born... Maybe wallpaper, too. Nothing babyish, though. Something the kid can grow with. I have a sample book at the inn we can look through."

"Okay," Luke responded, at a loss to come up with anything else to say.

"Why don't we mosey on over to the master suite," Kirk drawled.

"Wow, this is like college experimental theatre, huh?" Lorelai asked, grinning.

"You really like this place," Luke stated as they followed Kirk down the hall again.

"Um... I don't really know," she responded. "It's nice. I guess I like it. I just don't want to be tied down to one place yet."

"But, it's definitely a front runner now, right?"

"I wouldn't say that. Don't forget those curtains."

Luke rolled his eyes, "Of course, the curtains."

The master suite was slightly larger than the first bedroom they walked into, with a door that led to what was clearly the closet and an adjoining bathroom to their right.

"I've been saving this little beauty as a surprise for you, potential house buyer," Kirk said, grasping the knob of the closet door. He pulled it open to reveal a huge walk-in closet that spanned the length of the room.

"Oh my... nirvana," Lorelai gasped out, gripping Luke's arm.

"Wow... Even I'm impressed," Luke responded.

"This is my favorite part of the job. Insert—" Kirk stopped, catching himself before he read the wrong thing from the script.

"This is the kind of closet you leave your husband for and run away to Canada with!" She glanced at Luke. "I'm just sayin'."

"Is this your front runner now?' Luke asked, patting her on the shoulder.

Lorelai paused, scrutinizing the empty closet. "I don't know... We'll see."

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫

Lorelai walked through the back door of the inn and directly to the coffee pot, not turning around to say hello to Sookie until she'd filled a mug.

"Do you have anything to eat? I'm starving," she sighed, leaning back against the counter.

"Nope. Nothing," Sookie answered matter-of-factly as she continued stirring a concoction on the stove.

Lorelai stared at her wide-eyed. "Whatever happened to 'food magic happens here'? How can you have nothing to eat?" she asked frantically.

Sookie giggled. "Wow! You are in bad shape." She nodded toward a cabinet. "There are muffins in there. Feel free to..." Her voice trailed off as Lorelai flung herself across the room and dug out a chocolate chip muffin. "What happened? Doesn't Luke feed you anymore?"

It was a few more bites before Lorelai felt like she had the strength to respond. "I've just been out most of the morning house-hunting with Luke. Turns out snacks are a faux-pas when you're touring houses that people spent hours cleaning."

"Ooh! Did you find your dream house? Is it big? Does it have a yard?"

"Nope. You first. I need to hear about your big date with Jackson. Where did you go? How many messages did you write to the chef?"

Sookie narrowed her eyes at the accusation, but her expression quickly wilted. "Restaurant caught on fire," she mumbled.


"The restaurant caught on fire."

Lorelai blinked. "While you were in it?"

"No, we showed up right after the exciting stuff ended and just in time to see them turn off the hoses," Sookie grumbled. "And, because we made arrangements with the babysitter for two to three hours, we still had to pay her. So, another attempt is down the drain."

"I hate to ask, Sookie, but..." Lorelai's brow wrinkled in confusion. "Why didn't you just go to another restaurant?"

"There was this whole plan. Jackson sells them their vegetables, so he wanted to check them out. We were all prepared for Japanese/Caribbean fusion, so nothing else sounded right."

"Honey, that doesn't sound right. Are you sure you have the right parts of the world?"

"I know, it's weird, right, but it sounded like exactly what I wanted to eat." Lorelai just frowned skeptically in response, but then Sookie added, "But Jackson was too distraught over the vegetables to eat anyway, so well... I guess that's that. No date for us."

"You can't give up! Third time's a charm, right. Or something like that."

"But if we're doomed to catastrophe, we can't afford to pay another babysitter to not even have a date."

"Then don't. Let Luke and I watch the kids." She paused for a moment, musing. "Or maybe just me. Luke's still in overprotective daddy mode. He'll freak out your kids."

Sookie looked reluctant, and as she opened her mouth to protest, Lorelai stopped her. "At least think about it. You don't have to decide this instant. But you and Jackson are going to have that date. One way or another."

"Fine," Sookie conceded. "As long as you tell me about the house hunting. How many bedrooms? Were the kitchens big enough?" She flew around suddenly, narrowly missing the mixing bowl on the center island. "You are staying in Stars Hollow, right?"

"Slow down, Sookie," Lorelai said, placing a hand on her friend's arm. "We're still just seeing what's out there. We're not ready to plop down a deposit yet."

"But you're getting tired of running out of space. You'll need a room for the baby. What are you waiting for? You've been talking about moving to a bigger place for months and now that little bundle is going to pop out and it'll have to sleep in the bathtub or something."

"We're not in a one-room shack," Lorelai snapped. "I think our kid will survive in a bassinet in the bedroom for a few months."

Sookie took a step back. "Uh, okay. I just thought you were excited about this. New family. New place."

"I know. I'm sorry. I just don't know what's wrong with me. I do want it, but nothing really clicked. I keep waiting for one to speak to me."

"Well, maybe it's speaking in Swahili."

"Is that where it all went wrong?" Lorelai asked, sighing. "When my shortsighted prep school offered me French instead of Swahili? If only I'd known."

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫

"So, explain to me why you brought enough Chinese food for six people," Kevin said dubiously, staring at the half dozen take-out containers scattered across his coffee table.

Rory smiled sheepishly. "I can't ever choose between all of the must-haves." Off his questioning glance she pointed each one out. "Well, there's scallion pancakes and Peking ravioli, obviously. And you can't get Chinese without General Gau's."

"Of course not," he said, clearly humoring her.

"And the beef with broccoli is in deference to Luke, since he's all about the vegetables." She frowned thoughtfully. "Though he doesn't actually eat red meat, so that's probably how my mom gets him back for making her eat them."

"Okay," he said slowly. "But why rice and lo mein?"

"We can just never decide." Rory shrugged. "And Chinese makes for good leftovers."

"If you say so," he said, digging in to load up his plate.

"I don't see you complaining," Rory teased as she reached for the General Gau's container. "Besides," she said softly, "it's kind of nice to actually be able to afford take-out for a change."

He gave her a sympathetic nod before sitting back and pressing 'play' on the remote. A few minutes later he chuckled. "Now don't get me wrong this is an excellent movie but what exactly inspired the choice? I mean, Big came out ages ago."

Rory smiled nervously, suddenly self-conscious at being called out on the connection. "Well, I guess I got reminded about it because of this guy I went on a couple of dates with."

"Because he's playfully boyish?"

"No, because of the name in his email." He raised his eyebrow and she explained. "Zoltan. It reminded me of the fortune teller in this movie."

"Right. Zoltar." He paused and tilted his head to look at her. "You're dating someone named Zoltan?"

Rory laughed. "No. I mean, yes, but it's his middle name."

"What's his first name?" Kevin asked, clearly expecting something as unusual.


"Huh. Not nearly as original." He tapped his fingers on his knee and asked lightly, "So, two dates? That sounds promising."

"Yeah. We'll see, I guess," Rory answered, flushing at the close scrutiny, surprised at how uneasy it made her.

"You going to see him again?

"We have tentative plans," she mumbled, reaching for another scallion pancake to avoid his eyes. She couldn't figure out where all of the hesitation came from; they'd been talking about her dates ever since she'd started the internet dating 'thing.'

Kevin just nodded and settled back into the couch. They were quiet for several minutes until the fortune-teller was onscreen again. "So," he said, his fidgeting fingers defying his casual tone. "This Zoltar, or whatever his name is, is he good enough for you?"

Rory stared back at him, baffled by the implication of his question and entirely unable to respond. Finally, she stammered out something unintelligible and offered Kevin more food to change the subject.

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫

Rory opened her eyes slowly, and winced at the bright sun streaming in through the curtains. She blinked, attempting to focus her eyes on the clock on her nightstand. But as her vision cleared, she caught sight of not her nightstand, but a coffee table. And it wasn't her coffee table.

She let out a slight gasp, panicking as she attempted to figure out just where she was. There was a television in front of her, still turned on, blue screen casting an odd glow on the furniture around her. An overstuffed leather chair sat in the corner with a ratty afghan tossed haphazardly on the back of it. She was on a couch, stretched out the entire length of it, with a pillow under her head. Then, she realized that there was an arm wrapped around her middle, lightly clasping her hand. She could feel Kevin behind her, so close that she could feel him breathing lightly on her neck.

For a moment, just to test the water, she turned her hand slowly under his, lightly, touching the tip of her fingers. She locked her fingers with his, closing her eyes to the feeling and smiling slightly. But then Rory realized that this was Kevin, her neighbor, her friend, and her eyes widened, and she quickly took her hand out from under his. It landed with a light thud on the couch. She grimaced, hoping this action wouldn't rouse him. Carefully, she began to slide out from under his arm, gritting her teeth as she slowly slid to the floor. His arm followed her down, going limp as she went out from under it.

Finding her purse on the coffee table, Rory stood, quietly tip-toeing across the wood floor. Then, she picked up her purse and walked to the front door, softly shutting it behind her as she made her hasty exit.

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫

Emily gathered her purse and coat as she checked her watch. She'd hoped to see Richard before she needed to leave to meet Tasha, but he was unusually late getting home from his office hours. She was halfway through her detailed instructions to the maid about the message to be passed onto him, when he rushed through the door.

"Emily. Good. I'm sorry to be late. Whichever advisor recommended putting in face time at office hours needed to stress the importance of being on time." Richard gave an exasperated shake of his head and handed off his coat to the maid. "I'll just head upstairs to change." He began to walk up the stairs, but then turned back toward her. "Surely that's not what you're wearing?"

Emily glanced down at her perfectly serviceable slacks and blouse and back up at her husband. "Why yes, it is what I'm wearing. I thought a tutu would give everyone the wrong idea."

Richard's brow wrinkled in consternation. "Emily, that isn't appropriate for dinner, particularly a dinner with a man of Krupkin's reputation."

"Dinner? Krupkin?" she asked, distracted by the inventory files she was gathering.

"Yes," he answered, his tone intentionally patient. "Dinner with my colleague and his wife, both of whom are very interested in meeting you, which is why it would be appropriate for you to wear proper dinner attire."

As his words registered, Emily looked up at him wide-eyed. "Richard," she protested. "You know that I'm doing inventory at the inn tonight." He stared at her blankly, and she insisted, "I told you that Tasha and I had arranged to meet tonight so that we could do the inventory and she could teach me the system that we're using."

"That's right," he conceded. "You did inform me of the conflict, but surely you could reschedule for something of this importance."

Emily bristled. "Something of this importance? It's a social dinner. This 'conflict' is my job, and the reason it's scheduled this way is because your daughter is about to have a child, and there needs to be more than one person who can use the inventory program."

Richard sighed. "Couldn't Michel—"

Emily's glare cut him off mid-sentence. "And I suppose that your T. A. is perfectly capable of giving your lecture, but you don't hand off that responsibility willy-nilly."

"That's hardly the same thing," he huffed.

"And the fact that you think that is the problem," she said icily. "Have a good time with Professor Krupsky, while I go do my job." Scooping up her files, she turned on her heel, grabbed her coat and without stopping to put it on, stalked out the door.

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫

Rory plodded up the stairs after a long day at work, made even more stressful by the huge number of editing notes on her most recent article. She still felt like she was trying to make a name for herself at the paper, so even the smallest criticism stung.

As she started toward the last flight of stairs, Kevin's door opened and he came out, obviously dressed for a run. "Oh, hey," he said, reaching to brush her arm. "I'm so sorry to pass out on our movie last night. What did I miss?"

"Oh, nothing," she stammered. "Just your typical action movie ending. Hero saves the day at the exact last minute."

"Oh, okay, just wanted to make sure," he said, grinning. "Though, what kind of gentleman am I that I didn't even make sure you made it home safe?"

Rory smiled back. "I'll let you off the hook on that, since I don't even have to leave the building to get home."

"Well, that's sure generous of you, ma'am," he said, in a meager attempt at a southern accent.

She laughed, the quip having managed to ease her discomfort a bit. "Well, you... uh... look like you're headed out for a run, which I will never understand, but enjoy it anyway."

"Oh, we'll get you exercising one of these days," he threatened playfully before waving goodbye and heading down the stairs.

Rory stood on the landing for a few minutes before taking the last flight up to her apartment. The whole encounter, as well as the weirdness during their movie night, had her feeling very unsettled about where things stood with Kevin, and what to make of Peter.

On her way up the stairs, she ran through her list of advisors, trying to determine who she could call to get some guidance. Tess was clearly out; Rory had no idea what she'd make of all the confusion. Lane was impossible to reach these days, either busy chasing toddlers or her phone was turned off because she was working. Her mother had seemed oddly uneasy about the whole dating situation since their conversation on Saturday, and pre-wedding Paris was an entity to avoid at any cost.

Sighing, Rory finally pulled out her phone and decided to try Lane. Maybe she'd get lucky. When the call was immediately transferred to voice mail, Rory flopped down on her couch wearily. She listened to the frantic listing of Lane's reasons why she might not be available and her apology in advance if she didn't respond quickly, but stayed on the line for the beep anyway.

When it twanged she launched into her message, "Hey Lane. I was hoping to catch you, but I know that you're crazy busy lately. I just... uh... I'm sort of having kind of a boy dilemma and I was hoping... Well, uh, see there's this guy Peter, though in my head now he's Zoltan, which is something I'm going to have to explain in person, because there's a longer story there. We went out on a couple of dates and it hasn't been a disaster and he's nice and seems to like me. But then, last night I was hanging out with Kevin, and we watched Big, which is peripherally related to the whole Zoltan thing, but I think we had a moment. At least I thought it was. It seemed like it was. And then I fell asleep on him. So it seemed like a thing. And I don't know what it means, but today I saw him and everything was completely normal. He didn't even remember me leav—"

The beep interrupted her train of thought and cut off her message. Letting out a long breath, Rory closed her phone and stared at it for a moment. Wow, she was more confused than she thought.

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫

Luke leaned back against the diner counter. He'd just delivered Sookie and Jackson's food for their third—and as Sookie said, final—attempt at a date night. Kirk was nursing a soda and nibbling fries on the opposite side of the diner, mysteriously sans Lulu.

Sookie and Jackson inched their chairs closer together and dove into their own quiet conversation. Sensing a dull night, Luke pulled his phone out of his pocket and pressed the key for Lorelai's number.

"Hey, hon!" she answered cheerfully.

"Whatcha doing?"

"Just watching T.V. Nothing important. What's up?"

"Sookie and Jackson are having their date—"

"Oh, that's right," she cut in. "Last chance to get it right at the place where it all started." He heard the wistfulness in her voice at the memory. "Anyone else there?"


"Of course." There was a short pause, and then she burst out, "You're in the diner!"

"Yes, that would explain the serving food to customers thing," he said sarcastically. "Where did you think I was?"

"Well I was confused, because you called me on your cell phone, and you certainly would never use your cell phone in the diner," she teased. "Oh, I know, you're standing on the doorstep. That must be it!"

"Lorelai, don't start."

His tone must have been sufficiently serious, because she sighed. "Fine. So, what's the occasion for this call, or did you just miss your charming wife?"

"I wanted to talk to you about the house buying thing. It seems like you've been avoiding the subject ever since we looked on Monday."

"Oh." She was silent for a moment.

"So you have been avoiding it."

She let out a long breath. "Not really avoiding it. Just confused."

"Look, we don't have to—"

"That's not it. I know we need a bigger place and it's not that I don't want that. I'm just having trouble imagining the right place."

"I guess I—" he started, but stopped abruptly when he saw Jackson holding his hand over his throat and Sookie flailing helplessly. "Hold on!"

Before he could make it around the counter, Kirk had sprinted across the diner and hauled Jackson out of his seat and was attempting to Heimlich him. "Kirk, do you know what you're doing?" he yelled.

"This was one of the things I learned in my paramedic training, but you should call 911 anyway."

"Luke? What's going on?" he heard Lorelai ask, sounding worried.

"Jackson. 911. Hold on." He picked up the diner phone and dialed, quickly giving instructions as he watched Kirk's attempts anxiously.

Finally, whatever had been lodged in his throat was loosened, but not before Jackson passed out. At his first sign of breath, Kirk let out a huge sigh of relief and Sookie tackled him. "Thank you, Kirk! Thank you! If we were having another child, we would name it Kirk. We'll get a dog. That's what we'll do—we'll get a dog!"

While she was gushing, the ambulance pulled up and a paramedic rushed in, relieved to find Jackson breathing, but loading him onto a gurney nonetheless. As he watched them, Luke remembered the phone in his hand and held it to his ear to find Lorelai crying frantically, "Luke? What's going on? What's that about 911? Luke?"

"Sorry," he said quickly. "It's okay. Jackson was choking and he passed out, but Kirk heimliched him and now the ambulance is here. He's breathing but they're taking him—"

"Kirk saved him?" He heard her take a deep breath. "She must be so relieved."

"She's promising him naming rights on their dog."

"They don't have a dog."

"Not yet, they don't," he replied.

"Oh. So he's really all right?" she asked nervously.

"Yeah, it looks like." He stopped, watching. The second paramedic had pulled Sookie off of Kirk only to be attacked himself. They seemed to have calmed her down, however; she was nodding mutely at their instructions, and when they finished she turned to Luke.

"Call Lorelai. Tell her..." She stopped, obviously emotional and he waited for her to go on. "Tell her to call the babysitter and explain that we'll be a little longer. We'll be... at the hospital."

He nodded and gestured for her to go on with Jackson before returning to Lorelai. "Did you hear that?"

"Yeah. Call babysitter. Then you're going to come get me and we're going to go to the hospital."

"Got it," he agreed without arguing.

"Oh, and Luke?"


"Aren't you glad you were using your cell phone, so that line was clear?"

He shook his head, biting back all the possible retorts.

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫

Three hours into her work, Emily was beginning to think that even the most excruciating dinner would be more exciting than inventory. She'd urged Tasha to go home about an hour ago, once she felt comfortable proceeding without asking any more questions. At the moment, she was working on the hair products section, while berating herself for insisting that they provide all eight varieties of the high-end shampoo they used in the salon.

A thump down the hall startled her and she stiffened, until she heard Richard's booming voice. "Emily!"

At that point an entirely new emotion stilled her, and she braced herself for confrontation. "Back here, Richard."

His head appeared around in the doorway, and she stared at him, daring him to speak. When he didn't immediately, she asked wearily, "What is it? Why did you come here? Are you going to lecture me again on what is an appropriate use of my time?"

He had the decency to look remorseful, and she felt a glimmer of guilt about the sharp tone in her voice.

"Emily," he said slowly. "I didn't mean... to imply that your commitment wasn't important." She lifted her eyebrow in disbelief and he continued, admitting, "I shouldn't have put my priorities ahead of yours."

She nodded, accepting his unspoken apology. Sighing, she sat down in a chair and spread her hands. "I just don't want to keep having the same argument. It's tiresome."

He nodded in agreement, then smirked. "Not as tiresome as the Krupkins. You definitely made the best choice."

Emily chuckled ruefully. "I'm not sure you'll agree if you stick around long enough to see exactly what inventory entails." She paused and looked at him thoughtfully. "What are you doing here?"

"Offering my services," he said graciously, taking off his suit coat and folding it neatly over the back of a chair.

"Well, right then," Emily said hesitantly, her expression blossoming into a smile. "Do you want to start with the massage oils over there?" She pointed to another shelf, across from the one that held the shampoo.

"Very well," he said agreeably.

They worked quietly for few minutes, Emily still surprised by Richard's willingness to come all the way to the inn to assist her. Without realizing immediately that she was doing it, she began humming softly as she worked. By the time she finished the shampoo and turned around, she was surprised to find the table next to Richard completely covered in bottles of massage oil, with puddles of oil pooling on the empty shelf in front of him.

"Richard! What are you doing?"

"I thought it would be much more logical to organize them alphabetically, so I was rearranging them. But then, I wanted to know what the Ylang Ylang and Ginger scented oil smelled like..." He glanced at her sheepishly. "And I dropped it."

Emily let out a long sigh. "It's inventory, Richard. You just have to count them."

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫

"Hey, there you are!" Lorelai exclaimed, picking up her pace as soon as she saw Luke sitting down the hall in a row of chairs. She was carrying Wanda on her hip with some difficulty, and dragging Martha by the hand slightly behind her. Davey took up the rear, sauntering a little more slowly behind Lorelai and his sisters. "The babysitter got lost and brought the kids over to labor and delivery. Any word on Jackson?"

"He's fine," Luke assured her, standing to take Wanda from Lorelai. Davey took a chair at the end of the row, and Lorelai handed Wanda's diaper bag to Martha. Lorelai sat down next to Luke's chair, rubbing her hip with a wince. Luke returned to his chair, and propped Wanda, who was chewing on the lip of her sippy cup, on his lap. "The quack that made us wait for two hours told us that Jackson should be able to go home as soon as he checks him over again. That was an hour ago."

"Well, we took him to the E.R. instead of Urgent Care, what do you expect? " Lorelai remarked, then turned to Martha. "Honey, there's lots of toys in the bag for you and Davey. Go crazy."

"I guess we didn't have to make the babysitter come all the way to Hartford," Luke said with a sigh, rubbing his eyes.

"I know. But, she did bring us Sookie's van so that we don't have to attempt to pile into your truck."

Wanda rested her head against Luke's chest, and he leaned back in his chair in an attempt to get comfortable again. Lorelai placed a hand on his arm and tugged on his sleeve. "God, I'm tired," he said, closing his eyes.

"Mmm, me too. We've been here forever."

She turned her head a bit and watched Davey and Martha quietly bickering over which page to start on in the coloring book. Luke took her hand and rubbed her thumb with his.

"I've been pushing the house thing."

Lorelai's brow furrowed and she turned to face Luke. "What?"

"This house thing. I feel like I've been pushing you to make a decision."

She frowned. "Luke."

"And I didn't want to do that. I told myself I wasn't going to do that."

"You haven't been pushing me," she said softly after a pause. "I just, I don't know... I haven't really been able to see it yet."

"See what?"

"Us living in one of those houses we saw." She looked down to her lap, and before she realized it, tears were streaming down her face.

"Hey," Luke said, instantly putting his arm around her and pulling her closer to him. Wanda, forced to change positions to remain comfortable, looked up at Luke with a pout.

"I'm fine," Lorelai sniffed. "Sorry... I'm just tired. I don't know why I'm—"

"It's okay."

"No, it's not. I should be able to talk about the houses we saw without turning into a... Wow, I can't even come up with a good reference for that."

Luke smiled. "You love your house," he remarked calmly.

"Well, yeah, I do," she said, wiping her eyes with the back of her hand. "But I love the idea of finding a new house too. I'm ready to move. I just haven't seen the right one yet."

"We don't have to decide now, you know."

"I know. We do have a bit of a deadline, though." Lorelai gestured to her stomach.

"Not really. We can stay home for a little while longer, if we need to. There's no rush."

"And table this?"

"Yeah, and weigh our options. Keep checking the ads and ask Brian to keep us informed in the meantime." He rubbed her shoulder lightly and she rested her head against his.

"I guess it might be better to wait until the baby is born."

"Less stress on you."

"I guess. And, I don't know... We're happy where we are now. Cramped, but happy. Like popes in a Volkswagon."

"Well, as long as their hats are off."

"Right, hatless popes," Lorelai said with a small smile. "Popes aren't as funny when their hats are off, though."

"That's a predicament."

"One that we can discuss more in depth with coffee," Lorelai prodded, her expression hopeful.

"We'll stop by a Starbucks or something on the way home," he promised, giving her knee an affectionate squeeze.

"Okay," Lorelai remarked, and she leaned back against the wall. "I can live with that."





To be continued...  




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