Episode 9.19
"Something Old, Something New, Something Black, and Something Blue"
by Jewels12 and Filo


Authors' Note: Filo would like to thank the voices in her head for keeping her in check, our great and stupendous betas, Robinpoppins and sosmitten, and Dr. Pepper for helping to keep her up when she had to write into the wee hours of the night. And Jewels would like to express her gratitude to our mondo fabulous betas, the ocean, for providing a wonderful soundtrack, and to Canada Dry, for making one hell of a great gingerale.

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 Lorelai walked slowly around the lobby of the inn, her pen moving furiously across the page. "Michel, light bulb," she called out, not looking up from her clipboard as she pointed to her right and kept walking.

"Yes, very good, that is a light bulb. What is that item your stomach is about to bump into?" Michel replied, rolling his eyes as Lorelai narrowly missed running into an end table.

Lorelai looked up at Michel. "I knew the table was there, I put it there. And that light bulb," she jerked her head towards the lamp she had pointed at earlier, "needs to be replaced." She scanned the room and then began writing on her clipboard again. She took a step forward, but froze when she heard the click of heels hitting the hardwood floor. She flinched when the sound stopped right behind her.

"Lorelai, may I speak to you in your office for a moment?"

Lorelai gave Michel a hard stare when she saw the huge smile on his face. He quickly looked down and started to straighten the papers in front of him on the counter. Lorelai turned around slowly, a forced smile on her face. "I'm actually a little busy, Mom, but I should be free in about an hour or so."

Emily looked at her watch. "I get off in 30 minutes. This won't take long."

"You'll have to tell me as we walk, then. I'm spot checking some rooms to make sure the new handyman is keeping an eye out for things." She turned suddenly and slowly moved towards the stairs.

"You really shouldn't be doing so much walking, Lorelai, you should be resting." Emily stepped in front of Lorelai, forcing her to stop.

"Mom, if that's what you wanted to talk to me about, it can wait. I really need to finish this."

"That isn't what I wanted to talk to you about."

Lorelai sighed, raising her hand out in front of her towards her office. "After you."

"Thank you," Emily said cordially. She walked quickly and opened the office door. "I wanted to talk to you about what will happen when you go into labor."

Lorelai shut the door behind her and shuffled to her desk, lowering herself slowly into her chair. "I've been through labor before. Remember Rory?"

"Really, Lorelai," Emily scoffed, sitting in the chair across from her daughter. "I mean here at the inn. Have you thought about what will happen if you go into labor early? Who will take over for you? Are you bringing in a replacement? Do you plan to—"

"Mom, slow down," Lorelai interrupted. "It's all taken care of, don't worry."

"How is it taken care of? I haven't heard or seen any—"

"Have you checked your email today?" Lorelai moved the mouse on her desk to turn off the screen saver on her desktop. She began to click lazily on the screen. She held up her hand before Emily could speak. "If you had, you would have noticed in your inbox a message about a crisis management meeting." She turned her monitor towards Emily, the email on the screen.

"A crisis management meeting," Emily repeated.

"Yes, to discuss management of the inn while I'm away. And to go over how to run things in case I go into labor sooner than expected."

"I see." Emily studied the screen. "The meeting is this Thursday?" Lorelai nodded and Emily stood. "That doesn't give me much time, then."

"Time for what?"

Emily straightened her coat, removing a piece of lint on her sleeve. "Nothing, never mind. Thank you." She walked out of the room, shutting the door quietly behind her.

Lorelai turned her monitor back towards her and muttered under her breath, "Oh boy."

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Rory turned up the volume on the TV and walked into the kitchen. She pulled the freezer door open, staring at the various packages of frozen food. She selected the pack of Pizza Rolls and shook them out onto a paper plate, covered them with a paper towel, and put them into the microwave. Just as she shut the microwave door, she heard a knock on the door.

"Just a sec!" Rory shouted at the door. She punched the numbers on the microwave, hit the start button, and then walked to the front door. Her eyes widened for a split second when she saw who was on the other side. "Kevin! Hi!" she said, her voice overly bright. "Uh... if you're here to try to convince me to watch Chuck tonight, I'm, um, busy."

Kevin smirked as he stuffed his hands into the front pockets of his cargo shorts. "No, I gave up after you left that note on your door saying, 'No, Kevin, I don't want to watch Chuck tonight or ever.' I'm actually here to ask you a favor. Are you busy Thursday night?"

Rory inhaled a quick breath, holding it in when Kevin walked in the door. "Uh, well..." She ran her fingers nervously through her hair and followed him into the kitchen, where he was removing the plate from the microwave. "Hands off, Kramer," Rory snarked, snatching the plate from his hand. "You said you wanted to ask a favor, that means one. There was no mention of Pizza Rolls in that favor asking."

Kevin held up his hands. "Sorry, just trying to help." He leaned up against the counter. "So, Thursday night. You busy?"

Rory popped a Pizza Roll into her mouth. "Depends. What do you have in mind?"

"Very lady-like." Rory shrugged. Kevin's eyes darted around the room before he continued. "I've got a softball game on Thursday night, and we're short a few players."

Rory nodded as she swallowed. "You want me to ask around work and see if anyone can play?"

"Actually, I was going to ask if you could play."

Rory's hand froze, the Pizza Roll that was headed into her mouth landing silently back on the plate. She looked up at Kevin, narrowing her eyes when she saw his serious face. "You're kidding."

"I'm not."

"Look at me; you know I'm not an athlete."

Kevin laughed. "Rory, it's softball. It's one of the sports you can play with a glove in one hand and a beer in the other."

"That's the key word, Kevin. It's a sport. Rory Gilmore doesn't play sports."

Kevin ran his fingers through his hair and pushed off the counter. "It's a co-ed team. We've had to forfeit twice already because we didn't have enough women. I'd consider it a huge favor."

Rory moved the Pizza Rolls around on the plate. "You realize that I don't know the first thing about baseball, right?"

"It's softball."

"That too."

Kevin blew out a breath. "You don't have to be good, we just need the female bodies on the field."

"Wow, you're a charmer." Rory took a sip of coffee. "Why don't you ask Tess?"

"Last time I asked her to help out, she brought a book instead of a glove. I'd at least like someone who would try."

"I don't know..." She took a bite of another roll and as she swallowed she was met with his pleading eyes. "If you've asked me, you must be really down to the bottom of the barrel." Kevin nodded. "I guess I can help you out."

"Thanks, you're great!" Kevin drummed his fingers on the counter and then walked to the front door. "I owe you one, Gilmore," he called out just before he shut the door behind him.

Rory ate the remaining two Pizza Rolls and then tossed the plate into the trash. She sat down on the couch, picked up her laptop off the coffee table, and flipped the top open. She double clicked on the internet and began a search on softball. She clicked on the Wikipedia link, and skimmed over the page. She slid down to the floor, placing the laptop on the coffee table.

Rory entered the address for YouTube, and began to search for softball footage. She clicked on a random link, and watched as a pitcher got hit in the groin with a softball. She clicked on another link and gasped when a female player swung at a pitch and somehow managed to hit herself in the back of the head. The third link was a montage of softball footage. Players ran into each other with the ball dropping in front of them, bats flew out of the hitters' hands and whacked the catcher, outfielders ran into fences trying to catch foul balls.

Rory slumped lower on the floor and wondered aloud, "What did I just get myself into?"

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"I don't care how convincing you make it sound, Mom, I'm not going to try watching TV upside down." Rory sat on her couch, her feet propped up on the coffee table and the phone resting against her shoulder.

"But you need to try it! It's a whole new perspective," Lorelai argued. "It's like standing on your desk to get a different view of the room."

"What do I gain from seeing Alex Trebek upside down?" Rory adjusted herself so that she was now laying on the couch and staring at the ceiling.

"You get to watch in suspense to see if his hair piece falls off."

"I don't think he has a toupee."

"You can't say that for sure unless you watch him upside down."

Rory sighed and began to twirl a lock of hair around her finger. "So..."

"So..." Lorelai repeated.

"Could I talk to Luke for a minute?"

"What? Why?"

"I need to ask him about something."

"About what?"

"Mom, could I just talk to Luke please?" Rory flinched when she heard her voice rise up in desperation.

"Fine, fine, keep secrets from the mommy, she's strong, she'll survive."

Rory listened as Lorelai's voice became muffled, and there was an obvious shuffling of the phone from one hand to another.

"Rory?" Luke's low voice was hesitant.

"Hi Luke!" Rory replied, her voice a little too excited.

"Whatever it is you want, I think the answer is going to be no," Luke said.

"I just wanted to know if you could tell me about softball."


"Yes, softball."

"Softball. The sport?"

"Is there any other kind?" At his silence, Rory continued. "Don't answer that. Yes, softball the sport. I agreed to play in a game to help a friend out, and I need a refresher on the rules."

"The rules."

"Yes. I remember that there are bases and positions on the field and bats and gloves and hitting and—"

"Rory?" Luke interrupted.


"When is the game?"


"That doesn't really give us a lot of time for you to learn."

Rory wiped her hand over her face in frustration. "What if you can relate it to something I already understand? Then maybe I can pick up on everything faster."

"Um, yeah, sure, I can try that. Softball is like... baseball, except the ball is larger. And you pitch it underhanded. And you can't steal bases."

"Okay. Now, if you can explain baseball to me, I'll be all set."

She heard Luke let out a slow breath. "How about you tell me what you already know about softball, and I'll try to fill in the gaps?"

"Okay, that makes sense." Rory stretched out her arm to snag the notebook off the coffee table. "I know that there are three bases and a home plate. I know that after I hit the ball I'm supposed to run around those bases and try to score. I know that when I'm a fielder, I'm supposed to stop the runner."

"That's basically the gist."

"I want to know more than the gist, Luke. I want to be able to go out on the field and look like I know what I'm doing."

"I'm not sure I can help you with that in one phone conversation."

"Oh." Rory didn't try to hide the disappointment in her voice.

"But I can try," Luke continued. "Softball is like... emailing."

"Emailing?" Rory turned to a blank page in her notebook, wrote 'email' on the right side, 'softball' on the left, and then drew a line down the middle of the page.

"Um, yeah, kinda. When you email someone, you have to know who you are sending it to, right?"


"In softball, it's the same thing. As the batter, you look for where you want to send the ball, and you aim it for that when you swing."

"Hold on." Rory wrote down what Luke had said. "Okay, continue."

"Are you writing this all down?"

"I just want to make sure I have everything in case I don't absorb it while you're explaining." She smirked when she heard Luke sigh.

"When you reply to an email, that's like when you're a fielder. Someone sends you the email, the ball in this case, and you have to send it back, or reply."

"Got it."

"Don't forget to leave a signature when you do that, Rory, it's the only way they know it's from you!" Rory heard Lorelai shout through the phone.

"I think I'm going to continue this conversation in a room where your mother isn't," Luke said quietly.

"Probably a good idea," Rory agreed, sitting up so she could take better notes.

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Patty and Babette propped their elbows on the table, and leaned towards Gypsy with keen interest. She'd become a regular fixture in their diner gossip sessions ever since the infamous Andrew episode from months earlier, and the busy bodies were desperate to pry information from the otherwise tight-lipped mechanic. Gypsy held out, for dramatic purposes, and truth be told, she liked the attention far more than she let on.

"Really, honey, you haven't been on a date yet?" Patty asked Gypsy, sounding unconvinced.

"Yeah, I betcha they're a couple, Patty," Babette chimed in. "One of those undercover couples, like all the celebs these days."

Patty took a small bite of her Danish. "How long has it been since Andrew first asked you out?"

Gypsy shrugged. "I don't know. A few weeks, maybe."

"Hon, there was still snow on the ground," Lorelai commented from her stool at the counter. The three women turned to face her. "Oh, hi, I was listening in," she said unabashedly. "I'd guess it's been about three months."

"Hiya, doll face," Babette replied in greeting. "C'mon over here and sit with us."

Patty returned her focus to Gypsy. "Sweetheart," she remarked pitifully, "I was married and divorced to my first husband in less than three months. You need to get a move on."

"And you were halfway down the aisle to your second marriage," Babette pointed out.

"Ah yes," Patty recalled. "That was Antonio, my Latin lover." She trilled her tongue suggestively.

Gypsy cleared her throat, regaining the attention of her female supporters. "Is Thursday soon enough for all of you?"

"Thursday?" Babette questioned.

"Andrew wants to take me someplace fancy on Thursday night," Gypsy admitted hesitantly to the three beaming women. "I hate fancy. I don't do fancy. What am I supposed to wear to a fancy restaurant, anyway? Something without grease on it, right?"

Patty, Babette and Lorelai simultaneously sucked in a breath.

"Gypsy," Lorelai began carefully, as she slid down from her stool and waddled over to the vacant seat at their table, "I know that you are a very capable, independent woman, and you've got a great head on your shoulders... and you're so good with the handiwork, and the, uh, tools, and the cars, and... please, please, let me help you."

She examined Lorelai suspiciously. "What kind of help are we talking about?"

"Just a little friendly fashion advice," Lorelai answered simply. "I'm working late at the inn on Thursday night. Maybe you could stop by before your date..."

Gypsy covered her ears with her hands. "Don't say that word. Do not say that word," she admonished.

"What word?" Lorelai asked teasingly. "Daaay—tona beach? Daaa—vid Letterman? Daaa—me Judi Dench?" She smirked at Gypsy's scowl. "You know, as strange as this may sound, I think the first step to dating is actually being able to say the word."

"Oh yeah?" Gypsy feigned interest. "What else does the box say?"

Lorelai lowered her head, a smile playing on her lips as she said, "The box says 'shut up, Lorelai.'"

Gypsy grinned in triumph. "Thursday night?"

"I'll be your Tim Gunn," Lorelai affirmed with a nod, rising from the table.

"No mascara," Gypsy insisted through narrowed eyes.

"No pigtails," Lorelai retorted, waving goodbye as she slowly made her way back to the counter.

The three remaining women tended to their respective breakfast treats in companionable silence, before Kirk entered the conversation. "So, when's the big date?" he asked Gypsy in an authoritative voice.

She groaned, hitting her head against the table.

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Rory rearranged the items on her desk and then tapped a pencil against her teeth. She stared at the blinking cursor on her monitor, minimized the screen, and focused her attention on an internet page describing softball terms. When her cell phone began to vibrate on her desk, she tossed the pencil on the desk and flipped open the phone without looking away from the screen.


"Why haven't you RSVPed to my wedding yet?"

"Hi, Paris." Rory turned away from her computer and began to move her desk items to the other side of her desk.

"The wedding is this weekend, and you still haven't RSVPed! How are we supposed to do the seat assignments if we don't know who will be there?"

Rory tossed a crumpled piece of paper into the trash and leaned back in her chair. "Paris, I'm the Maid of Honor."


"If someone is in the wedding party, it's pretty much guaranteed that they will be there."

"Pretty much? Pretty much? That's why I need your RSVP! I need to know for sure that you will be there!"

Rory pulled the phone away from her ear as Paris' voice got louder at the end of her sentence. "Paris, I will be there. Six hours before the wedding is supposed to start, just like you ordered."

"You're sure?"

Rory shook her head as she wiggled her mouse to turn off her screen saver. "I'm positive. I'll be there bright and early Saturday morning."

"And I should expect your RSVP—"

"I'll drop it in the mail as soon as I get off work."

"Thank you."

Paris hung up before Rory could reply. Rory snapped her phone shut and stared at her desktop. "That's clearly a sign that it's time for lunch," she mumbled, opening her desk drawer and pulling out her purse.

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"Lorelai! Lorelai, I know you can hear me. You're pregnant, not deaf." Emily reached out and grasped Lorelai's arm just as she was about to step into the kitchen.

Lorelai turned around with a grin plastered on her face. "Mom! Sorry, I didn't see you there."

"Of course you didn't, I was behind you. You should have been able to hear me though. I was practically yelling."

Lorelai stepped away from the door, her mother following right behind her. "What do you need Mom? I've got ten minutes until a meeting with a bridezilla, and I'd really like to be fed before then. If this meeting is like the last, it could last three hours." Emily held out a thick folder. Lorelai took it from her and flipped through the contents. "Crisis management model? Contingency planning? Business-Continuity planning? Mom, what is all this?"

"Just a few theories on crisis management."

"Mom, there are diagrams and case studies in here."

"It's important to be prepared, Lorelai."

Lorelai placed the folder on a nearby table. "Mom, I get that, but I don't think all of this is necessary. The point of the meeting is to discuss how all of the management will be involved. I don't think we need flow charts of the possible impact of a mudslide."

"That was simply an example of how that company hadn't planned for every contingency."

"In the history of Stars Hollow I don't think there has ever been a mudslide." Lorelai snickered. "Except maybe at one of Patty's parties."

"Lorelai, really," Emily shook her head in irritation. "You need to be prepared. I know you can't prepare for everything, but you can try."

Lorelai picked up the folder, took a deep breath, and flipped to the first page. "I can't promise you I can look all of this over before the meeting, but I will look at it."

"That's all I ask."

When Lorelai saw the look in her mother's eyes, she gave her a small smile. "Anything else? I've only got a few minutes to grab a bite to eat."

"No, that will be all."

Lorelai turned and walked to the kitchen doors. As she pushed against the door, she turned at the sound of her mother's cough. "Yes?"

"Try to avoid anything salty. It always makes you look more bloated."

"Sure mom." Lorelai walked into the kitchen, and as soon as the door swung behind her she called out. "Sookie! I need something with a lot of salt in it, stat!"

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Rory stood with her purse slung over her shoulder and her right hand clutching a folded piece of paper, as she knocked on Kevin's door.

"Just be a second," he shouted.

"No rush," she called back, taking advantage of the extra time as she unfolded the paper and studied her notes, hoping she'd used the correct jargon. Ever since Kevin had asked her to play for his softball team, she'd been unable to concentrate on anything else. The majority of her day at the Courant was spent rehashing her conversation with Luke from the previous evening and concocting critical questions that she presumed Kevin could answer. As she struggled to make out the all important eighth item on her list— the asterisks beside it earned it that title— Kevin finally opened the door, a frown on his face.

"You're not chickening out, are you?" he asked, worried.

She quickly crumpled her list and stuffed it into her pants pocket, smiling nervously at him. "Oh, no, I'm, uh... raring to go."

Kevin smiled and took a step back, ushering Rory inside and closing the door behind her. He flopped down onto the couch and Rory gingerly sat on the cushion next to him.

Kevin stretched his legs out in front of him and relaxed further, before turning to her. "So, what's up?"

"Well," Rory said, shifting to face him, "I've got questions."

"Sounds serious," Kevin replied with a smirk. He extended his hand, palm open. "Okay, let's see it."

"See what?"

"The list that you couldn't shove into your pocket fast enough."

"Oh, you don't need to see that. It's just a few notes about my next article, and I was just, uh, going over..." Rory trailed off at the sight of his knowing smile, realizing there was no use hiding it. "Fine," she sighed, reaching into her pocket and pulling out the wrinkled sheet. Kevin grabbed for it, but she held it just out of his reach and said firmly, "No mocking."

He nodded in acquiescence and snatched the paper out of her hand, his eyes immediately lighting up as he read through the questions. "Helmets are provided," he said in response to the first inquiry. "Chewing gum is not a requirement; we go by innings, not quarters, and there are usually nine of them." Kevin held up a finger each time he answered a question, and bit his lip on more than one occasion to keep from laughing. "Are there right-handed bats?" he quoted directly from the paper, remaining silent for several seconds. "No comment," he eventually concluded, earning an eye roll from Rory. "Your team earns a run each time one of your players successfully crosses the plate without being tagged out." Kevin waited for Rory to jot that one down before he continued, "Footwear? Just don't wear heels and you'll be fine. You can pick up a glove at a sporting goods store, but you'd be crazy to buy one. You'll never get it ready in time."

"Ready?" Rory asked.

"You gotta break it in, soften the leather so it molds to your hand," Kevin explained, shaking his head at her still puzzled expression. "Don't worry about it; you can borrow my old one. Hang on a sec and I'll grab it," he told her, jumping to his feet and disappearing into his room.

He re-emerged a moment later with his hands behind his back. "Close your eyes and hold out your hands," he directed Rory. With her vision obstructed, Kevin dropped his prize possession into her outstretched fingers and waited for her reaction.

Rory's eyes popped open as she examined the foreign object with a touch of curiosity and a ton of repulsion. The golden brown leather was worn and stretched from years of wear and tear. She peered into the hand compartment as Kevin returned to his seat next to her, admiring what she was otherwise condemning.

"Isn't it a beaut?" he asked, looking like a proud parent.

Rory shrugged noncommittally as she brought the glove to her nose, and without thinking, took a whiff. "Whoa boy," she mumbled, yanking the glove away from her face.

Kevin stared at her, his expression a mixture of shock and amusement. "Did you just smell my glove?"

Rory stared at the floor as a faint blush tinged her cheeks. "No... yes," she admitted.

He chuckled. "Well, that's definitely a first."

"It smells bad," Rory remarked quietly. "And it's kind of... well, used."

Kevin gasped in mock offense as he removed the glove from her hands and spoke softly to it in consolation, "It's okay, Teddy. Don't listen to her. She doesn't really mean it."

"Teddy?" Rory asked, grinning. "My teddy was a stuffed animal, who occasionally went to tea parties. Your teddy is a ball glove."

"Teddy, named after Ted Williams, the baseball great," Kevin corrected. "I was never big into stuffed animals. They creep me out."

"And yet, that glove does nothing to you."

"Hey, it takes years to create a masterpiece like this," Kevin argued, holding even tighter to his glove. "Will there be any other questions this evening, or have you reached your quota?"

Rory smiled apologetically. "Um, one more question. I was wondering about pants..."

"Ah, pants. Now those are completely optional," Kevin said with a wink.

Rory rolled her eyes.

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"Okay, now that's just weird," Lorelai remarked, her head resting on Luke's shoulder as they watched Wheel of Fortune from the comfort of their living room couch.

"What's weird?" Luke asked tiredly, reaching for his glass of water on the coffee table.

"Every puzzle tonight has had something to do with babies. I think Pat and Vanna are on to us."

"What are you talking about?"

"Well, this last puzzle, for example. 'Baby Boom Economy'," Lorelai said, emphasizing the words 'baby' and 'boom', specifically.

"That one is obvious," Luke muttered.

"'April Showers Bring May Flowers'." Luke stared at her dubiously, taking a swig of water and returning his glass to the table. "'Showers,' as in, baby showers."

Luke smirked. "That's a bit of a stretch."

"And then the toss up puzzle," Lorelai continued. "'Amy Grant', the singer/songwriter. She wrote the song 'Baby Baby' about her newborn daughter..."

"I will never understand the way your mind works," he marveled, kissing the top of her head.

Lorelai smiled, leaning in closer to him. The phone receiver, resting beside her on the couch, chimed loudly, causing them both to jump. "I got it," she told Luke, lifting the receiver and pressing it to her ear. "Hello?"

"Oh, hey, Mom," Rory returned distractedly.

"Rory, hi! How are you? What's new? Are you watching Wheel of Fortune, 'cause I've gotta tell you, Pat is sending me some weird vibes..."

"Nothing much to report here," Rory said in summation. "Um, is Luke there by any chance?"

"Luke? You want to speak to Luke again?" Lorelai asked, stunned. "She wants to speak to you again," she told Luke. "That's the second time this week."

Luke snorted. "You're acting like that's a bad thing."

"No, it's not a bad thing... it's just a, uh, different thing..." she trailed off. "What do you want to talk to Luke about?" she asked Rory.


"Sure, sure, softball. What's that code for?"

"Lorelai, just give me the phone," Luke said.

"Mom, just give Luke the phone," Rory pleaded.

"Jeez, you two are already in sync," Lorelai grumbled. "Fine, here." She tossed the receiver at Luke. "Go, converse. I'll just be here, in my invisible cloak, talking to Pat."

Luke shook his head and picked up the phone. "Hey, Rory. What's up?"

"Hey, Luke. I, um, just wondered if you maybe had any last minute advice for me. Tomorrow's the big day, and I'm freaking out a little bit."

"Yeah, that's right," Luke recalled. "Listen, Rory, don't think about it too much. Just relax, have some fun."

"Okay," Rory replied uncertainly.

"Do you have a glove yet? It'd be a good idea to borrow one instead of buying a new one."

"So I've heard. And I'm covered in that department."

"Good stuff," Luke said, thinking for a moment. "I guess that's about all I can say. Just keep your eye on the ball; you'll do great."

"I think I can do that."

"Oh, and Rory? Make sure you protect your face."

"Protect my face," Rory repeated. "Got it. Thanks, Luke."

"No problem. Talk to you later." He hit the 'off' button and rolled his eyes at Lorelai who'd been staring at him throughout the entire conversation. "What?" he asked her.

"What?" she echoed petulantly.

Luke sighed and rose from the couch. "Will some ice cream make you feel better?"

"Yesssss." Lorelai beamed. "And don't even think about giving me any of that low-fat frozen yogurt crap," she shouted to his retreating form.

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Tasha, Sookie, Michel, Emily, and Lorelai sat in Lorelai's office, each holding a stapled packet of papers. Sookie and Tasha skimmed through each page quickly, while Michel and Emily seemed to be writing out notes in the margin.

"Are we ready to get started?" Lorelai looked down at her watch and then glanced up at the group.

Emily stopped writing. "I'm only on the sixth page; could we have a few more minutes?"

"We're going to go in depth over everything, Mom, all you needed to do was skim it over."

"How can we have a discussion if we haven't had time to review the material?" Michel asked, flipping to the next page in his packet. "I've already found three typos."

"Ignore the typos. This is just a guideline for us when I go on maternity leave." Lorelai took a calming breath.

"Yes, can we move this on, please? I have a soufflé in the oven and I don't trust Jamie to watch it like I asked him to. I bet he's already stopped looking at it through the oven window," Sookie muttered the last sentence under her breath.

"I've got three clients back to back starting in 30 minutes, and I'd really hate to get behind," Tasha added.

"This shouldn't take very long." Lorelai flipped past the cover page. "The first page is a list of all our phone numbers. Make sure you add these numbers to your cell phone so you recognize that it's someone that you know," Lorelai added, a hard glare focused on Michel. "The next four pages describe everyone's duties while I'm away so that there is no confusion over who is in charge of what." Lorelai made sure to give Emily and Michel a longer look than the others. "Basically, Sookie's duties won't change. Sook, you will need to make sure that you turn in your orders every week, or you might run out of something."

"I can do that," Sookie said. "Who do I give them to?"

"We'll get to that in a minute." Lorelai continued talking, not giving a chance for Sookie to interrupt. "Up next is Tasha. Tasha, you'll be in charge of everything to do with the spa, like you are now. You'll also need to remember to turn in any orders on a weekly basis."

"That's easy enough," Tasha replied.

"Now for the fun part," Lorelai whispered under her breath. "I've decided to split up my responsibilities between Emily and Michel, since they both know part of what I do on a daily basis. Michel will be dealing with all daily issues dealing with the inn itself. Emily will be in charge of everything to do with the spa, and any items that cross between the spa and the inn. That means—"

"Why does Emily get control of the cross over items? I know them just as well as she does!" Michel stomped his foot and crossed his arms, his papers crumpling as they got tangled in his arms.

"Because Emily deals with both the spa and the inn with the event planning," Lorelai explained patiently. "She understands both sides of the business better than you do." Michel continued to pout, and Lorelai rolled her eyes. "Michel, this isn't up for discussion. You and Emily will be working together pretty frequently while I'm away, and I'm not going to be here to be your referee. If you can't handle this—"

"Lorelai, we will get along fine," Emily interrupted, turning to look at Michel. "Michel and I have worked through our differences in the past, and we will be fine to do so while you are gone as well. Please continue."

"Wait, does that mean I have to turn all my orders in to Michel?" Sookie's voice raised in a panic. "Lorelai, you know how he is whenever he has to order things for me. He looks over every item and then comes into the kitchen to see if there is a way to be more cost efficient."

"Being cost efficient means higher profits," Michel huffed.

"Not when you want me to replace my homemade marinara with Prego!" Sookie stood up suddenly. "I can't believe you think that a canned sauce is even remotely similar to my marinara. A marinara I spent years perfecting!"

"Sook, hon, sit back down," Lorelai said, pulling gently on Sookie's arm. "Michel knows that he isn't allowed to tell you what you can and cannot order. He's only going to place the orders that you give him. Isn't that right, Michel?" When Michel opened his mouth to reply, Lorelai cut him off. "Good. Then it's settled. Now, all that's left to go over is what will happen if I have to take my leave earlier than expected." Lorelai turned to the final page. "Michel and Mom, I'm going to set up separate meetings with the two of you later today to review where all important paperwork and stuff are kept in my office. Okay, that covers everything. Any questions?" Four hands went up and Lorelai stood up slowly. "Well, they'll have to wait because we've already gone over time and I have a meeting with our linen vendor in five minutes. Michel, Mom, would you like to sit in on that meeting since you will both be dealing with Hank while I'm gone?"

"I would, but I have an appointment," Michel replied.

"I think this meeting may prove to be more beneficial than your manicure, Michel," Lorelai stated firmly.

"Fine. Can I at least call and reschedule?"

Lorelai rolled her eyes and looked at her watch. "You've got three minutes." She looked at the others. "Thanks for taking the time out to go over this stuff. I'll stop by and talk to you two," She nodded at Sookie and Tasha, "after I finish up with Hank."

Sookie and Tasha gave her a smile and then left the office quickly. Lorelai walked back to sit behind her desk, Emily close behind.

"While we have a few minutes, I'd like to ask you about a few finer points of this plan," Emily said, sitting in the chair across from Lorelai.

"You've got two minutes, and then all my attention goes to Hank, Mom." Lorelai slouched in her chair and closed her eyes.

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫

Gypsy walked unassumingly into the Dragonfly Inn, rubbing her palms together as she took in the scenery. This was only the second time she'd been inside the building; the first had been on an errand. Sookie had gotten a flat tire on her way to work and Gypsy had replaced it on site. She was justly rewarded with a free lunch and a tour; however, that hadn't stopped her from charging full price for the tire.

Her eyes continued scanning the area, landing on the front desk. Michel was busy typing data into the reservation system, seemingly unaware of her presence.

"The lobby is not for loitering," he huffed, his eyes never leaving his computer screen.

"You booking a reservation, or baiting another fish?" Gypsy snapped back, walking toward him.

Michel gasped, his face turning a deep red as he took in the intruder. "What are you doing here?"

"I have an appointment," Gypsy said primly, coming to a stop on the opposite side of the desk. She craned her neck to get a better view of the computer screen, but Michel quickly tilted it away from her.

"For your information, I don't use that dating site anymore. It can't be trusted." He looked pointedly at the mechanic.

She met his glare with one of her own. "Neither can uptight Frenchmen in business suits."

"Gypsy!" Lorelai called out as her head poked around the corner in the nick of time. "So glad you're here." She walked the remaining distance and wrapped her arm around Gypsy's shoulder. "Why don't you and I head back to my office, and you two," she said, gesturing between Gypsy and Michel, "can save your tribute to The Way We Were for another time, hmm?"

Gypsy gave Michel one last menacing glance, before allowing Lorelai to lead her in the opposite direction.

With Lorelai's office door safely closed behind them, she finally gave Gypsy a good once over, smiling at her pained expression. She had on a pair of charcoal-grey dress pants, and a thin, v-neck burgundy sweater. Her hair was pulled back in a loose pony tail, with a few tendrils falling by her face.

"What time is your da—uh, meeting?" Lorelai asked.

"Andrew's meeting me here at 6:45."

Lorelai giggled. "Aw, I love that the inn is the rendezvous spot." She checked her watch. "Okay, have a seat, we don't have much time. You did good, Gypsy, but you're gonna need to lose the tennis shoes, and a little blush might help with—"

"No. No blush," Gypsy said, as she sat in the leather chair with her arms firmly crossed.

"Just a dab," Lorelai persuaded, grabbing her makeup bag and retrieving her blush applicator. "A little dab'll do ya."

"Don't even think about dabbing me," Gypsy warned as Lorelai sat in her own chair, equipped with wheels, and scooted closer.

"You'll hardly even see it," she argued.

"Then what's the point of wearing it?"

"Well, you got me there." Lorelai sifted through her bag for some other necessities, pulling out a few different shades of lipstick and some eye shadow. "Close your eyes," she instructed Gypsy. "I'm just going to put a tiny bit of color on that gorgeous face of yours." Gypsy snorted, and did as she was told.

"So," Lorelai began, as she expertly created a shimmering shadow under her brow, "this is the first official date." Gypsy nodded. "This is big."

"I guess," Gypsy mumbled, shrugging her shoulders. "He's been coming around the shop more," she revealed a moment later, opening her eyes and parting her lips as Lorelai applied a layer of pale red lipstick.

"He has, huh?" Lorelai grinned. "I think he really likes you, Gypsy. It's nice."

Gypsy smirked. "Hey, at the very least I get a free meal. It's not a bad deal."

"That's another way of looking at it, sure," Lorelai chuckled. "Well, I think we're all set. Have a look," she said, holding up a small mirror in front of Gypsy's face.

"I look like a prostitute," Gypsy complained

Lorelai scoffed. "You look like a million bucks. And you're welcome."

"Thanks," she forced out, rising to her feet and turning for the door.

"Whoa, not so fast. The shoes," Lorelai said, snapping her fingers. "Hand 'em over."

Gypsy sighed, slipping off the offending footwear.

"Wear these," Lorelai offered, removing her black pumps with a subtle heel, and making a trade. "You'll kill in them."

"Or be killed in them," Gypsy grumbled. "These are a walking death trap."

Lorelai patted her on the shoulder in encouragement. "Just relax, hon, you'll do fine. Enjoy this. It's not every day that a girl gets to be wooed."

"Thanks." She smiled. "And thanks for..."

"Any time."

Gypsy walked proudly out of Lorelai's office, standing a good two inches taller, and having never felt better. But she'd keep that to herself.

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫

Rory stepped out of her car slowly, shaking her head as she struggled to walk towards the well-lit softball fields. She stopped suddenly, dropping her baseball glove on the ground as she bent over and pulled on the legs of her sweatpants. She grabbed her glove and stood up, sighing when the legs of her pants came up well above her ankles. Rory yanked down on the thighs of the pants, trying to pull them a little lower. She lifted up her shirt just enough to see the waistband, tugged it out slightly, and rolled her eyes when she saw the indentation of the waistband across her stomach. Rory brushed the hair out of her eyes and tugged her shirt down so that it covered up her backside and continued walking.

When she stepped through the opening gates, she looked around. "Blue jerseys, blue jerseys," she muttered to herself. "Kevin, there are at least three teams here in blue jerseys!" Rory stopped again, glancing around to see if anyone was looking towards her. When she saw no one paying attention to her, she slipped her hand behind her, reaching between the back of her legs.

"Rory!" a voice shouted.

Rory's hand quickly moved out in front of her. "Hey, Kevin," she replied distractedly, trying to use her glove as a shield to hide her lower half.

He closed the remaining distance and cocked his head to the side, a smirk on his face. "You know, I was just kidding about the pants being optional."

Rory sighed, removing her glove and exposing her outfit in all its glory. "I think I'd rather be without pants right now," she groaned.

Kevin's eyes widened. "Wow, what happened?" he asked through laughter.

"These aren't my pants," Rory felt the need to explain.

"Yeah, I kinda figured that, unless you're one of those who are compelled to save clothing from decades past. I won't judge. I still have a Hypercolor t-shirt in my closet." Rory chuckled. "Whose pants are they?"

"I'm pretty sure they belong to my step-sister, April. We had a girls' weekend a while back, and I guess her pants somehow found their way into my drawer. I was in a rush this morning and I must have grabbed the wrong pair, but I came here right after work, so I had to... improvise." Rory's eyes raked down her lower half, currently being suffocated by her painted-on sweats. She looked up to Kevin uncertainly. "How's it workin'?"

"Well, it's workin' for me," Kevin teased, "but I'm a little concerned about you. Do you think you can move in those things?"

"Is there a lot of moving required?"

"Not if we stick you in right field."

"Well, sign me up, coach!"

Kevin laughed, signaling for Rory to follow him. "How about we introduce you to the rest of the team first?"

Rory walked quickly to keep up, checking behind herself every so often to make sure her shirt was at least partially hiding her butt. She almost bumped into Kevin when he stopped, and when she looked up, he was smirking at her. "What?" she asked, blowing out a puff of breath to remove the hair that had fallen across her face.

"The more you look at it, the more attention you draw to yourself. Wear those pants like you meant to come out here looking like that, Gilmore!" Kevin turned to the group of people in front of him. "Guys, this is Rory Gilmore. She's filling in so we don't have to forfeit. Rory, this is the team." Kevin pointed to each person as he introduced them. "That's Bull, he's our catcher. Spin, our lovely pitcher who puts a very dainty, but lethal spin on every pitch. Legs, our first basewoman, Shorty at second, I'm at shortstop, and Shuffle on third. In our outfield we have Shoestring in left, Ashy in left center, and Baldy in right center. I hope you got all that, we're going to quiz you later." Kevin gave Rory a wink as he looked at her blank face.

Rory gave him a small smile. "It's nice to meet you, Bull, Spin, Legs, Shorty, Shuffle, Shoestring, Ashy, and Baldy. I'm assuming those are all nicknames. What's yours, Kevin, Doc? No, Dopey."

"His is Mastermind," Ashy replied, bouncing a little from foot to foot.

"I don't think I want to know why," Rory said, wiping her hand down her shirt subtly to make sure it was still covering as much of her lower half as it could.

"Hey, doesn't Rory need a nickname?" Bull grumbled, the gigantic wad of gum in his cheek making him difficult to understand.

"Actually, Rory is a nickname. My full name is Lorelai."

"How do you get Rory from Lorelai?" Kevin turned to face Rory.

She opened her mouth to reply, but stopped when a voice boomed over the ball park.

"All teams playing at 7:30, please verify that you've turned in your line ups."

"It's showtime, gang! Let's get over to the field and warm up a little. I don't want to hear any of you whining about sore muscles again," Kevin called out, leading the way to the field.

♫   ♫   ♫  

After a pep talk and a team cheer, everyone dispersed to their positions on the field, and Rory fought hard to keep up with them, trying to jog, but settling for a fast walk instead. A cloud of dust followed her as she crossed over the diamond, still well aware of her wardrobe situation, but less affected by it. She almost felt like she belonged, for the briefest of moments. And then the umpire called for the first batter, and she realized that this was quite possibly the last place on earth that she wanted to be.

Rory stood stock-still, in what she hoped was the correct position, deep behind the first baseman. Kevin gave her the thumbs up from shortstop, and she returned his gesture, her heart pounding as the batter swung and missed the first pitch. Before she knew it, two more pitches whizzed past the batter, both landing in the strike zone. A round of cheers sounded in the field, signaling the out. Kevin held up two fingers to Rory, then returned to his readied stance in preparation for the next up to bat.

The second batter stood at the plate, knocking his bat into the side of each cleat, then he squatted down with his elbows bent, holding the bat level with his ear. He took a crack at the first pitch, causing Rory to jump into motion, needlessly. The ball rolled down the third base line and was quickly scooped up by Shuffle, who then threw it to Legs for the out. This time, Kevin held only one finger up to Rory, and she smiled in relief. This isn't so bad, she thought.

The third batter, a guy by the name of Moose, stood on the opposite side of the plate than the previous batters. Kevin shouted to Rory, "Get ready, Gilmore! This guy's a switch hitter, and he's got some power." Rory tried to mirror Kevin's stance and swallowed hard, praying that Moose was going to have an off night. Moose swung at the first pitch, barely missing it, but his swing made more noise than his frustrated grunt that followed. The second pitch sailed by, a clear ball that the big man was having no part of. He hungrily pounced on the third pitch, hitting it well past the diamond and into the outfield.

"Oh no, oh no, oh no," Rory muttered, unable to read where the ball was going to land from the height it soared at. She ran a few steps forward, then backward, then forward again. The ball finally landed about five feet in front of her, took an awkward bounce, and slammed unexpectedly into her face.

"Oh God," she cried out, her hands immediately covering her face as she fell to her knees.

The entire team, led by Kevin, rushed to Rory's side. "Hey, you okay?" Kevin asked worriedly, crouching down next to her. "Where'd it hit you?"

"I think my eye," Rory mumbled through her hands. "I can't feel my face."

"Here, let me take a look," Kevin said, prying Rory's hands away.

"Oooh," Ashy remarked with a whistle, "that's gonna leave a mark."

Kevin glared at the center fielder. "You've already got quite a bit of swelling," he told Rory. "I think we better take you to the hospital to get it checked out."

"No, I'm fine. It's not that bad," Rory said, hoping the statement was true. "Some ice would probably be good, though."

"We can definitely get some ice," Kevin supplied, "but I really think you should go to the hospital. Are you sure I can't take you? God, Rory, I feel so terrible."

She looked at Kevin appreciatively. "It's not your fault. You've just seen firsthand how Rory and sports don't mix." She laughed at herself. "I guess I better get up, the show must go on... or game... whatever."

Kevin smirked. "Okay, let me just..." He helped her to her feet, wrapping his arm protectively around her shoulder as he walked her off the field.

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫

Andrew slid into the booth next to Gypsy in the dimly lit Woodbridge restaurant. A basket of nacho chips rested in the center of the avocado-shaped table, and a Mariachi band played in the background. Gypsy was relieved to note that Andrew's idea of fancy was on par with hers.

"Just out of curiosity, what categorizes this restaurant as fancy in your mind?" she asked him.

Andrew thought for a moment. "Well, the food is really good, and of course, the live music. That's pretty fancy." He shrugged, glancing nervously at Gypsy. "Was that an okay answer?"

"That was a pretty damn perfect answer," Gypsy said, pleased.

The both opened their menus and perused the contents. "So, uh, you look really nice," Andrew told her, his eyes staying glued to his menu.

"Thanks," Gypsy said genuinely, "for the sixth time."

Andrew blushed, finally meeting her eyes. "Sorry, I just, uh, wanted to make sure you knew. I've never seen you with makeup before."

"And you probably won't ever again, so enjoy it while it lasts. This stuff itches like crazy. What the hell would possess a woman to wear this on a daily basis?"

"Um... they have really great quesadillas here," Andrew said, pointing to the item on the menu.

"Yeah?" Gypsy asked, interested. "I love a good quesadilla." She leaned closer to Andrew as he indicated some of his other personal favorites. Just as his finger hovered over the 'Frisky Fajitas for Two', Gypsy's pager went off. She jumped in surprise, pulling the device from her pocket and reading the display message. "Shoot, I need to take this. I'll be right back," she said, sliding out of the booth and searching for the nearest pay phone.

♫   ♫   ♫  

Gypsy poked her head around the hood of the vehicle and waved to Andrew, who was waiting patiently for her to finish up with the emergency repair at the shop. The call she'd taken at the restaurant was Cliff, her second in command. He'd informed her that the car he'd been working on in the shop that evening had a leaking fuel pump, and ignited a small fire. The Stars Hollow Volunteer Fire Department—which consisted of Kirk, a 10-speed bike and a garden hose—had been called in, and the flame had been doused, but that still left the matter of replacing the fuel pump, and cleaning up the mess.

"Another twenty minutes," she promised Andrew. And sure enough, forty minutes later, they were on their way home, eating their cold burritos in the car.

Andrew pulled into her driveway and killed the engine. "Well, that was certainly an eventful evening."

"No kidding," Gypsy agreed. "Sorry about the whole... relocation."

"Ah, that was all part of the fun," Andrew said as he opened his door and moved around to the passenger side, helping Gypsy out. They walked in silence up the steps to her door, Gypsy using the time to fish her keys out of her pocket.

"Okay, goodnight, then," Andrew said, extending his arm and shaking Gypsy's free hand.

Her jaw dropped open as she watched him turn away and start back down the stairs. "So, that's it?"

Andrew spun around. "What do you mean?"

"You got mono or somethin'?" she asked. "I didn't wear this makeup for nothing."

Andrew grinned, rushing up the steps and coming to stand within a foot of her. They both closed their eyes as he leaned in and kissed her lightly on the lips.

"The cheek would have been fine," Gypsy muttered when they separated.

"Maybe I'll remember that for next time," Andrew boldly stated.

"And next time," Gypsy echoed, "maybe we'll try the fajitas." She chuckled at his shocked expression, and disappeared inside before he could say another word.

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫

Lorelai and Luke sat on the couch, Luke's feet propped up on the coffee table and Lorelai's resting on top of his shins. Luke reached for the remote and Lorelai yanked it quickly away.

"Nuh uh, you have to watch this. All daddies have to be able to tolerate this kind of thing." She slipped the remote under her rear as she reached for the ringing phone. "Hello?"

"Hi, Mom. You about to go to bed?"

"Rory, the racing car!" Lorelai sang out. "Rory, my number one star!"

"Jeez," Luke muttered, slumping lower into the couch.

"I'm not sure how to respond to that," Rory said.

"Luke and I are watching PBS Sprout. He needs to be desensitized to all the cartoons out there for kids these days. Our baby can't grow up on Star Trek, right?"

"No, baby doesn't need to be exposed to that particular Spock," Rory agreed. "I won't keep you two, I just wanted to tell you about my game tonight."

Lorelai quickly pressed a button on the phone. "Okay, you're on speakerphone. Tell us all about it."

"What position did you play?" Luke asked.

"Right field."

"Makes sense. Did you get a chance—"

Lorelai cut Luke off. "Would you let Rory tell us the story?" Luke held up his hands and Lorelai brushed a kiss across his cheek. "Go on, babe."

"I was in right field, and we were the home team, so we were in the field first. The first two batters got out, and then the third one, a guy, came up to bat. He was left-handed, so everyone told me to be ready."

Lorelai leaned back on the couch and balanced the phone on her stomach. "And were you ready?"

"I made sure to watch the ball, like Luke said."

"Good," Luke replied.

Rory continued her story. "The guy hit the ball and it was really hard. And high. It looked like it went up in the air forever."

"A pop fly," Luke said. He pressed his lips tightly together when Lorelai gave him a look. "Sorry," he whispered.

"Yeah, that," Rory agreed. "I ran forward to get it—"

"And it went past you?" Lorelai asked. She slapped Luke's shoulder when his eyes went wide at her interruption.

"No, it bounced in front of me and then... " Rory paused. "It hit me in the face."

Luke snatched the phone from Lorelai's belly. "Are you okay? Did you have to go to the hospital?"

Lorelai grabbed the phone out of his hand. "You've been at the hospital all this time and you're just now calling us?!"

"Guys, calm down, I'm fine," Rory stated calmly. "The bounce slowed the ball down a lot. I've got a swollen eye, but I'm okay. No need for anything more than an ice pack."

"Are you sure you're okay?" Lorelai's voice was a little shaky. "You're sure the ball didn't break your face? How could you even be bruised, I thought it was a soft ball."

Rory laughed on the other end of the phone. "Yes, I'm okay. Kevin said I'd probably have a shiner in the morning, but other than that, it's just sore."

"Oh my God! Paris!" Lorelai shouted, her feet dropping to the floor as she sat up straight.

"What about Paris?" Rory's voice sounded confused over the sudden subject change.

"You have her wedding this weekend. I don't think she'll take a black eye on her maid of honor very well. The saying doesn't go 'something old, something new, something black, and something blue'."

"Maybe makeup will cover it up?" Rory's voice was unsure.

"I don't know, hon. I can cover up a mean hickey, but I haven't had much experience with black eyes." Luke tugged on Lorelai's arm and she relaxed back into him. "She'll probably not let you in any of the pictures, which isn't a bad thing, considering the list of pictures you showed me that she wanted."

"Yeah, that is a really long list of pictures. I think she covered every possible combination of the wedding party."

Lorelai stifled a yawn. "Ugh, I think baby is ready for bed. Check in tomorrow and let us know that your eye isn't getting worse?"

"Sure. Night Mom. Night Luke."

"Night, my little black eyed pea." Lorelai turned off the phone and sighed. "My baby got a black eye."

Luke ran his fingers through her hair. "It'll hurt for a while, but other than that she'll be okay."

Lorelai looked up at him. "You realize this is all your fault, right?"

"How is this my fault? I didn't hit the ball to her face."

"You obviously gave her bad softball advice," Lorelai teased, signaling for Luke to help her up.

Luke gently pushed against her back until she was standing and then stood up himself. "Hey, I was the one that told her to protect her face. You Gilmore girls are hopeless when it comes to sports. I hope baby here has some of my athletic skills."

Lorelai rested her hand over Luke's on her stomach as she walked to the stairs. "How cute would it be to have a little Butch or Butchess that was a sports star that loved coffee?"

"Butchess?" Luke stopped at the foot of the stairs.

Lorelai moved up to the first step. "We still need to work on the name."

"Our kid isn't going to grow up drinking coffee."

Lorelai shrugged as she continued up the stairs. "We'll see."

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫

Lorelai rifled through a pile of papers on her desk, her tongue sticking out in concentration. She stood up and leaned over her desk, her stomach knocking a pile of items onto the floor. She plopped back down onto her seat and looked at the papers strewn on the floor. Just as Lorelai started to cautiously reach for a file folder next to her foot, there was a knock on the door.

"Michel, I said no interruptions unless there was blood dripping from the walls!" She called out, her fingertips barely grazing over the folder. She rolled her eyes when she heard the door open, but she didn't look up.

"Lorelai, an owner of a business should not be yelling at the door when someone knocks," Emily replied primly. "Nor should she be discussing blood on the walls."

Lorelai sat up quickly, brushing the hair from her face. "Dripping from the walls, Mother, dripping. It's the dripping that makes it a worthy interruption."

"Regardless, it's unprofessional and... " Emily stepped around a notepad on the floor, "...disgusting. Your office is a mess."

"That happens when you're carrying a watermelon and it bumps into things."


Lorelai straightened a pile of papers that was threatening to fall over on her desk. "Nothing, Mom. What can I help you with?"

Emily sat down in front of her and placed a folder on the one open spot of the desk. "I thought you would find this helpful. I can see now that it's probably a necessity."

Lorelai picked up the folder and pulled out the contents. Her jaw dropped as her eyes scanned the page. "Mom, this is an article about how to organize your life."

Emily nodded as she crossed her legs. "It's some research I found when I was looking up information on crisis management. It's important that someone with as many responsibilities as yourself plan for every contingency."

"Mom, you can't plan for everything." Lorelai flipped through the papers, stifling a laugh when she stopped and saw a picture on one of the pages. "There is no way I'm carrying around a first aid kit in my car and my purse."

"I know you can't plan for everything, but you should be prepared for as much as possible." Emily pursed her lips. "I'm not sure how much help a first aid kit would be in your purse, anyway. I've seen inside your purse and I'm surprised you can find anything in it at all."

Lorelai held up a sheet. "I'm sure this article on keeping an organized purse is perfect for me then, huh?" Lorelai placed the papers back into the folder and looked at her watch. "I appreciate it Mom, but I don't think this is necessary. I know you may see this as unorganized, but it all makes sense to me. My life is a system that has taken years for me to perfect."

Emily raised an eyebrow. "Does that include all the papers and folders scattered on the floor?"

Lorelai shook her head. "That wasn't me, it was the baby."

"I don't think you can blame the baby for anything until the baby is actually here." Emily smirked as she stood up."I remember the later months when I was carrying you. I'd forget how large my stomach was and end up knocking things over."

Lorelai watched Emily as she walked to the door and opened it. She glanced down to the floor, reaching for the folder near her foot once again.

"Oh, and Lorelai?"

Lorelai sat back up and met her mother's eyes.

"You may want to find time to look over those articles before dinner tonight. It may come up in conversation."

Lorelai threw her head back against her chair in annoyance just as Emily shut the door behind her.

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫

With her keys in her hand, and her garment bag draped over her arm, Rory exited her apartment bright and early on Saturday morning.

"Where you off to, slugger?" Kevin asked, meeting her in the hallway. "I was just coming by to see if you were interested in a game of pick-up basketball."

"Very funny. I'm actually on my way to a wedding."

Kevin chuckled. "Good one, but seriously, where are you headed?"

"Seriously. I've got a Maid of Honor dress in this bag."

"Maid of Honor?" Kevin asked, swallowing hard. "So you're not only going to a wedding, you're going to be in a wedding." He shook his head. "Oh man, I am so, so sorry."

"Don't worry about it," Rory said. "You've apologized enough. To tell you the truth, I'm kinda looking forward to Paris' reaction when she sees this." She gestured to the swollen black and blue tissue that surrounded her right eye.

"She the bride?"

Rory nodded. "Knowing Paris, she probably has a back-up in place, anyway."

"God, I feel terrible," Kevin said. "Teddy let you down. To be fair, though, he generally prefers left field."

"I really don't think Teddy was the problem, but I appreciate the sentiment."

Kevin sighed. "I'm sorry."

"Stop saying you're sorry," Rory insisted. "It looks worse than it is. I've always wanted a shiner. Who knew I'd get one from a real sports game?"

"You have strange ambitions," Kevin remarked with a grin, stepping closer to Rory. "I'll find a way to make it up to you. I promise."

"Just don't ask me to fill in for you again, and we'll call it even."

"That's the least I can do." He patted her encouragingly on the back. "Knock 'em dead, champ." Rory smirked. "And for what it's worth, I still think you look great, even with the shiner," he added quietly.

"Oh," Rory said, her eyes widening in surprise. "Thanks."

"Now, get outta here, Ali," Kevin said, giving her a delicate nudge in the direction of the stairwell.

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫

Gypsy had the spotlight once again as she entered the diner and sat with Patty, Babette and Lulu. The ladies didn't bother tiptoeing around the subject, diving right into a discussion about the 'big date'.

Luke and Lorelai talked across the counter to each other, the two of them taking interest in the neighboring conversation as well.

Lorelai chuckled. "The last time a relationship earned this much attention, there were charts and projections involved, and I believe the names Art Brush and Fay Wellington were bandied around."

Luke smirked. "I guess our 15 minutes are up."

"Guess so," she pouted.

"Yeah, it was a nice restaurant," Gypsy said to her audience. "My kind of place." She glanced at Lorelai. "He liked my makeup," she told her with a smile.

"I'm so glad," Lorelai said genuinely. Turning to Luke she whispered, "I think we've got a convert."

"Did you really end up back at the shop?" Lulu asked, curious. Gypsy nodded.

"Well, at least Andrew can say he got some action," Babette commented with a chuckle.

"Speaking of action," Patty began, "how did you two leave things?"

"Originally, a handshake," Gypsy admitted.

"A handshake?" Lorelai asked in amusement.

"Yeah, but I called him out on it," Gypsy said. "And then Romeo decides to kiss me on the lips. I told him the cheek would have been fine." That response earned several laughs. "Then he tells me that maybe he'll remember that for next time," she finished.

"Next time?" Lulu's eyes lit up.

Babette pressed her palms against the table anxiously. "What did you say, what did you say?"

"I can't remember exactly. I think I mentioned something about fajitas."

Lorelai raised her eyebrows. "Dirty fajitas?"

Gypsy rolled her eyes, unable to hide the blush that crept onto her face. "We're, uh, going out again on Monday."

"Way to go, sugah!" Babette rasped, as sounds of applause filled the room.

Lorelai turned to Luke amid the cheers and congratulatory hugs, and smiled. "Aw, it's nice that Gypsy and Andrew are getting all this attention."

"You think so, huh?" Luke asked suspiciously.

She nodded. "But, once this kid pops out of me, we'll be front page news again." Her eyes brightened at the thought.

Luke chuckled knowingly. "Well, it's always good to have goals."

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫

Rory cracked the door open and peeked into the hallway of the modern Hartford home, before stepping out. Doyle's parents had offered their residence for the pre-ceremony preparations, including pictures in their beautiful garden. Rory readjusted her sunglasses and pushed a stray lock of hair behind her ear.


She flinched at the sound of her name.

"Rory, let's go! If the sun goes down any further, I'm going to look washed out in all the pictures." Paris came around the corner and stopped a few feet in front of Rory. "One foot in front of the other, Gilmore. You graduated from Yale; you should know how to walk."

"Paris, you look beautiful."

"Yeah, yeah, not now, Rory, we have to get these pictures in before the ceremony." She cocked her head to the side, frowning as she noticed Rory's sunglasses for the first time. "And lose the shades. You're not Stevie Wonder."

Rory smiled nervously. "Yeah, I'll, uh, take them off in a second."

Paris pushed the French doors open and led them outside, forgetting about Rory as the photographer came into view. "Don't even think about setting up there!" Paris ordered, marching toward the cowering man.

Rory took in the scenery, nodding in greeting to the other attendants who stood several feet away.

"Hey, Rory," Doyle called from behind her.

"Doyle," Rory said, turning to face him. "Uh... hi," she struggled to get out, her eyes immediately drawn to his lower half. "You're, um..."

"Wearing a kilt?" Doyle finished for her. "I have Scottish blood in me. It was my father's idea, actually. I thought it would be festive."

"Festive, yes, sure. It's very festive."

"Paris doesn't know about it yet. It's kind of a surprise."

Rory couldn't hide the grin that appeared on her face. "Oh, well, I'm sure Paris will love it."

"She'll hate it," Doyle sighed.

"Uh huh," Rory agreed. "Well, at least you're not alone." She lowered her shades and discreetly exposed her bruise.

"Wow," he remarked in surprise. "Does Paris know?"

Rory shook her head. "It's kind of a surprise," she teased, repeating Doyle's earlier statement.

Doyle chuckled. "How'd you earn that badge of honor?"

"I decided to play softball. Enough said."

Paris, seemingly finished berating the photographer, turned back towards Rory and Doyle.

"Hold me," Doyle pleaded to Rory as his soon-to-be wife approached, her pace slowing as she took in the sight before her with horror.

Feeling piteous for Doyle, Rory removed her sunglasses in hopes that it would divert Paris' attention. "You owe me," she whispered to him, biting her lip as she prepared for a verbal assault of the worst kind.

Paris, however, completely overlooked Rory's offense, Doyle's faux pas clearly stealing the spotlight. "You sure as hell better be wearing underwear," she roared, pinching him by the shoulder and forcing him back inside the house.

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫

"Any luck yet?" Lorelai shouted to Luke as she searched frantically on the main level of the house.

"Nothing yet," Luke called back, his booming voice followed by a loud thud, and then several frustrated grunts.

"How can we lose a camera? I mean, we're not talking about a pencil here. This is a pretty significant object." Lorelai lifted up the couch cushion for the third time. "Anything yet?" she asked Luke again.

"Don't you think I'd say something if I'd found it?" Luke reasoned, rubbing his head as he descended the stairs.

Lorelai frowned in concern at Luke's evident injury. "Shoes?"

"Shoes," he confirmed.

"I really need to clean out the top shelf of that closet... but after—"

"The baby," Luke finished for her. "So basically I'll be cleaning it out."

"Well, since you offered," Lorelai replied teasingly, walking towards the kitchen. "Ooh, bingo!" she announced a minute later, retrieving the camera from on top of the fridge.

"Should I even ask?" Luke said, meeting her in the kitchen.

"Probably better off if you didn't."

They both heard a light knock on the door, followed by Rory's voice as she entered the house. "Hey, I'm here."

Lorelai beamed at Luke and hurried as fast as she could to the foyer. "Aw, my little participant," she cooed, enveloping Rory in a hug. "Okay, now take off the shades," Lorelai told her, stepping back. "I need to see the evidence."

Rory complied, exposing her injury with a proud smile on her face.

Lorelai gasped. "Oh, wow. You look so badass."

Luke, who'd joined them in the foyer, rolled his eyes at Lorelai's comment. "Does it hurt at all today, Rory?"

"Not too bad," she said. "It's still a little tender."

"Is it picture time?" Lorelai asked anxiously.

Rory smiled. "I'm ready when you are."

"She's all juiced up," Lorelai confirmed, pressing on the camera's power button. "How about you stand by the door over there," she said, guiding Rory into position. "Good, perfect. Now turn your head slightly clockwise." She snapped several pictures. "Counter-clockwise this time, and tilt your head up to the ceiling a bit..."

Luke shook his head at the display. "You guys are nuts."

"Luke, this is a very momentous occasion," Lorelai argued. "My Rory, my perfect, blemish-free Rory, has earned her first, and probably last sports injury. I am such a proud parent. I'm like... a soccer mom, you know, without the minivan, and the, uh, soccer part."

"So you're a softball mom," Luke supplied.

"Right, exactly."

Luke sighed. "You two have fun. I'll be in the garage," he said, as he headed for the back door.

"Bye, Luke," Rory called.

"See ya, hon. Okay, let's move to the fire place," Lorelai instructed Rory, leading the way. We've got a nice stream of light coming from the lamp and it's hitting the mantle just right. Maybe we'll take some outdoor shots after this, and use the night vision feature. I've never used that feature before, but I'm sure it can't be that difficult—"

"Mom," Rory interrupted, chuckling at her mother's enthusiasm, "how about we take a little break first, and I'll tell you all about the wedding?"

Lorelai's eyes widened in delight, and she immediately directed Rory to the couch. "Sit, spill. Tell me everything," she insisted, flopping onto the cushion and propping her feet on the coffee table.

"Well," Rory began animatedly, "I think my black eye would have made more of a splash if Doyle hadn't been wearing a kilt..."  




To be continued...  




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