Episode 9.22
"To Larry Wong: Thanks For Everything"
by Mrs Dionysius O'Gall, Jewels12, and Robinpoppins


Authors' Note: It has been our pleasure to wrap up another season of Virtual Gilmore. First and foremost, we would like to extend our eternal gratitude to sosmitten for her help in this episode, and throughout the entire season. Thank you to our Creative Team, who have been a pleasure to work with and have contributed hours of their precious time and energy to bring this production to you. And finally, a huge thanks to you, the readers, for sticking with us for another 22 episode season, and inspiring us to continue our journey for as long as we have. Hope you enjoy the show! Also, happy birthday, Mrs. D!

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Lorelai was hunched over Ellie's petite form, as the baby lay on the changing table in their upstairs bedroom. She expertly removed her wet diaper, tagging Luke to step in as she disappeared briefly into the bathroom to discard it. "Have you got the—" she began, as she returned to his side.

"Got it," Luke answered before she could finish her sentence, safeguarding Ellie's tiny bottom with a dab of diaper ointment.

Rory moved next to Luke, laying out a fresh diaper, and together they suited up the infant in her disposable armor to face another round. Lorelai smiled as she watched the duo pat each others' backs.

Clearly worn out by all the activity, Ellie's eyes drifted shut, and Lorelai gently scooped the baby up, nestling her in the crook of her arm. On her way towards the crib, she stumbled over a giant Rubik's Cube — a gift from Emily and Richard — jostling the infant and sending her into a fit of hysterics. Without a moment of panic, Luke stepped in and assumed comfort duty, administering his patented back rub, and cooing soft, soothing words into the baby's ear. While usually a perfect remedy, it didn't curb her wails of distress this time.

"Let's try the swing," Lorelai suggested, helping Luke to navigate his way through the debris of baby toys and stuffed animals as they made it safely to the staircase, Rory trailing behind them. "Ooh, careful," Lorelai warned, as Luke narrowly avoided an encounter with a Baby Einstein book on the third step down.

"Where is all this stuff coming from?" he asked in exasperation over Ellie's bloodcurdling wails.

"Donald and Ivana," Lorelai muttered. "Formerly known as Richard and Emily."

When Luke touched down on the main floor, he sighed in relief, the baby swing finally in sight. He strode with purpose to the contraption, determined to squelch his daughter's deafening voice as quickly as possible.

"Watch out for the—" Lorelai and Rory shouted in unison as Luke nearly collided with a gold-saddled rocking horse.

With a frustrated grunt, Luke gently passed Ellie's protesting form to Rory, who eased the baby into the swing and strapped her in securely. All three adults stood by in fascination, as the gentle rocking motion soon lulled the infant to sleep.

"There she is, our pretty, pretty girl. Our little Eleanor Rigby," Lorelai purred softly.

Luke rolled his eyes. "It's Lucy. Eleanor Lucy."

"Eleanor Lucy... in the Sky with Diamonds," Lorelai corrected.

He shook his head, too mesmerized by the relaxed expression on Ellie's face to argue. He folded his arms and leaned against the adjacent wall, appearing content to stand there all day and admire his baby girl.

Lorelai walked over to Luke with a knowing smile, and tenderly stroked his arm. "Hon?" she whispered. "Work?"

"Huh?" Luke asked distractedly. "Oh," he realized. "Crap, what time is it?"

"It's almost eight," Rory called softly from the kitchen, the smell of fresh coffee enveloping the room.

"I gotta run," Luke said, disappointment in his voice. "Kiss her for me when she wakes up?"

"You bet," Lorelai promised, pecking Luke lightly on the lips and escorting him to the door. "See you tonight, hon." She kissed him again, then opened the door, only to be blinded by the flashes of several cameras.

"Oh jeez," Luke grumbled, stepping into the chaos, and closing the door behind him to protect his family from the insanity. "Shut those damn things off," he ordered, as the flashing persisted. "Don't you people have lives?"

"Just let us have one picture!" Kirk pleaded over the roar of voices.

Luke pushed his way through the mass of townspeople that had gathered on his lawn, and said tiredly, "Let it go, Kirk."

"Maybe the kid has two heads," Andrew surmised.

Patty nodded. "All that caffeine."

Luke sighed, fishing the keys out of his jeans pocket, and unlocking his truck door. "Go home!" he barked, sliding into the driver's seat.

As he put the truck into gear, he heard Kirk shout, "Oh, oh, I got a hand! I got a picture of a hand here!"

"That's a teddy bear, you idiot," Gypsy retorted.

With a mild chuckle, Luke sped off, happy to escape the madness for a little while.

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"Time?" Lorelai exclaimed as she dashed into the kitchen, sidestepping three boxes of unused changing tables. She came to a stop in front of the kitchen table, out of breath, clutching her chest with one hand. "And I should never, ever, run that fast again."

After setting down her coffee mug on the counter, Rory pushed up her sleeve to glance at her watch. "Seven minutes, twenty-two seconds."

"No way, that can't be right. I thought for sure I shaved two minutes off of yesterday's shower time."

"Nope, added thirty seconds."

"Damn it!" she said with a pout, angrily pulling out a chair. She plopped down into it dramatically, scrunching her wet hair with her fingers. "You know, my showers were a freakin' work of art when you were a baby."

"I know; we've been through this," Rory said with a sigh, opening the cabinet to pull out a second mug.

"You were asleep; I'd put you in the crib and hop into the shower. No time for adjusting water temperature; I was already lathering up with my shampoo. I even had time to do an entire lather, rinse, repeat cycle. And then, I was out and towel-dried before you even woke up. Do you want to know how long I had it down to?

"Four minutes, fifty-three seconds," Rory mumbled, pouring fresh coffee into the other mug.

"Four minutes and fifty-three seconds! That's a science! That's a shower gift, my friend. That is a feat of strength that no Gilmore has accomplished since."

"Well, I think seven minutes is quite a moving experience. I'm certainly inspired."

"You should be." Lorelai beamed at Rory.

"And, on that note, I have to go to work."

"So soon?"

"I'll be back after lunch," she promised, walking over to the table, her hands full. "Here's your coffee, here's one of the secret s'more Pop Tarts Luke doesn't know about, and here's this morning's paper with a special expose on the Gilmore/Danes family, asking, 'What are they hiding?' I saved half of the crossword for you, too."

"Aww, you did all the hard ones for me?"

"Just the way you like it. Ellie hasn't woken up yet, but I moved the bassinet in here, since I figured you would want to chill in the kitchen in a while."

"We're not using the lacy frou-frou one today?" Lorelai asked, gesturing to the floral bassinet, one of four currently in the house.

"No, I don't think Ellie likes that one very much. I'll talk to Grandma today about getting all the stuff returned." Rory picked up her messenger bag and purse from the counter, balancing her mug of coffee with her other hand as she swung each bag onto her shoulder.

Lorelai took a sip of her coffee. "Have I told you lately that you're the best?"

"Not nearly enough." She bent down and lightly kissed Ellie on the cheek, and then leaned over to Lorelai and pointed at her cheek. "Kiss?"

Lorelai pecked her cheek, and then tucked a loose piece of hair behind Rory's ear. "Good luck storming the castle."

"Thanks, " Rory said with a grin. She opened the side door to find Sookie on the other side, a basket of muffins in her hand.

Sookie looked a little startled, but rallied quickly, holding out the basket to Rory. "Blackberry swirl muffin, sugar pea?"

"Don't mind if I do," Rory said, picking one out of the basket as she walked out the door. "Bye!"

"Bye!" Lorelai and Sookie both called out after her, and Sookie shut the door behind her.

Standing, Lorelai took the basket from Sookie, scrutinizing the muffins, before picking out the one with the most sugar on top. "I love it when you bring me things."

"How's our baby girl?" Sookie cooed, peering into the bassinet with her cell phone in hand. "Hi, sweetheart. How's our little girl, huh? How's Auntie Sookie's girl?"

"Fine, Auntie Sookie," Lorelai responded, her voice high-pitched and child-like. She took a bite of her muffin, her expression filled with glee. "Oh man," she muttered through a full mouth. "This is great. I'm lovin' you like Douglas loves Zeta-Jones right now." She carried the basket over to the table and set it down next to the breakfast plate. She saw a flash out of the corner of her eye, and whipped around to see Sookie stashing her cell phone down her shirt.

"What was that?"

"What was what?"

"That flash?"

"What flash, hon?"

"The flash coming from your phone?"

"Are you sure you're getting enough sleep?" Sookie asked, looking nervous.

"Let me see the phone."

"What phone?"

Lorelai rolled her eyes. "The phone that's in your bra."

"Oh, that phone!" She turned around to fish the phone out of her shirt and then produced it for Lorelai. Flipping it around quickly for Lorelai to see, she put it in her pocket. Lorelai held out her hand, the other resting on her hip sternly. Sookie sighed, took the phone out of her pocket, and opened it up to show Lorelai the picture she took of sleeping Ellie. "It's for Jackson," she explained. "Since he hasn't been over here to see the baby yet."

"Funny, since he saw the baby at the hospital, and twice since then."

"Well, she has grown a little."

Lorelai scrolled down on the phone, seeing that it was a part of a message. "'Kirk,'" she read, "'here's the baby shot you wanted. Now we're even.'" Lorelai narrowed her eyes. "What's this about?"

"He was blackmailing me," Sookie shouted, her hands held up in surrender. "He somehow had a picture on his phone from last Founder's Day when Jackson and I got really tipsy on the punch and dressed up the statue in one of Taylor's cardigans. He said he would show it to Taylor if I didn't find a way to get in here and take a picture of Ellie, and you know how mad Taylor was about that. He could kick us out of town!"

"He would not kick you out of town."

"He might! You don't know that! And we like living here. I mean, we really like living here. I don't want to be a commuter. God, could you imagine Jackson as a commuter? He gets road rage on Plum Street."

"Calm down, hon," Lorelai said, patting Sookie on her shoulder. "Let me talk to Kirk."

"He told me not to tell you!"

"Sookie, this is Kirk we're talking about. He's had nightmares featuring Wall-E since last summer. Let me deal with him."

Lorelai marched to the front door, Sookie trailing slightly behind her. She swung open the door, and instantly closed her eyes as she was met with a barrage of camera flashes. "Gah! Can we just cool the flashes for a bit?"

Everyone stopped, except for Gypsy, who snapped one more picture of Lorelai.

"Kirk, can I borrow your phone?" Lorelai asked, once the din died down, and everyone's attention was on her.

Kirk, from his perch behind one of the bushes in Babette's yard, poked his head up. "What for?"

"Well, my phone died, and all of my house phones are out of juice, and I need to call the diner."

"You can borrow my phone," Andrew piped up, as he hung down from the roof of Lorelai's porch. She jumped.

"Well, Kirk has it on speed dial," she supplied, glancing at Sookie.

"That is true," Kirk said. He crawled out from behind the bush, and crossed the yard, handing his cell phone to Lorelai when he reached the porch. "Just no long distance calls."

"I think I can handle that," Lorelai responded, flipping open his phone and scrolling until she found his pictures. She quickly located the picture in question, and deleted it, handing the phone back to a confused Kirk. "There, problem solved," she told Sookie. "And stop blackmailing my friends to get a picture of my baby."

"You are a vision," Sookie said, awe in her voice.

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Emily looked up as Richard walked into the dining room, carrying the morning paper. Breakfast was already waiting for him, and Emily was just about to give up on his presence and start in on her meal.

Emily, impeccably dressed for work, watched as Richard quickly sat down. He cheerfully uttered a "Good morning," followed by "Ready for the new work week?"

Emily responded with "Let's have breakfast," indicating that she was in a hurry. Another busy week at the Lorelai-less Dragonfly awaited her.

Both new grandparents began to eat. Although Richard alternated between his breakfast and eying the newspaper, Emily's mind wandered to her upcoming workweek. As if reading her mind, Richard asked, "Emily, do you anticipate a busy work day?"

"Of course it's busy, with Lorelai on leave," Emily snapped while stirring her coffee, then set the spoon down. Between sips, she quickly provided a litany of the to-dos that awaited her this day. She concluded with a confident "I'm sure I will handle it splendidly."

Richard nodded in agreement.

"And you, how does your day look?" Emily asked.

"I'll be out of the office for a while today. I have some banking matters I must attend to. Not everything is best done online these days," Richard wryly observed, setting the newspaper aside.

Emily's interest was piqued by this news. "You'll be at the main branch?"

"Downtown? Why yes. Do you need anything?" Richard answered.

"Are you setting up Eleanor's trust fund?" she inquired.

Richard was clearly surprised. "A trust fund for Eleanor?" He stroked his chin, lapsing into thought.

Emily was taken aback by the apparent negligence of his duties as pater familias. "Richard!" she gasped. "Do you mean to tell me that you have not safeguarded the future security of our granddaughter?"

Richard quickly answered, "No... no... I just haven't considered the matter..." He swallowed. "...Yet."

"Richard!" Emily slightly raised her voice. "I'm truly surprised!" Her tone of voice immediately sent her husband into a defensive stance.

"To be honest, I didn't consider it. Lorelai was always so independent—surely you remember how it was with Rory? And Luke is sensitive about these matters."

"Well for goodness sakes, Richard, someone has to consider these types of things."

Richard nodded his agreement. "I presume you're thinking of a trust for Ellie's college expenses?" he asked.

"And more, of course. I don't think Luke is aware of just what a young Gilmore needs."

Richard chuckled, glossing over Emily's "young Gilmore" comment. "Emily, I do think Luke is too proud a man to accept a Gilmore trust fund for his child. If I've learned anything over these past few years, it's that, just like our daughter, Luke prefers to stand on his own two feet."

Emily frowned, and Richard quickly added, "I'll be sure to talk with our banker today."

"Very well," Emily added, folding her napkin, finished with breakfast. "We'll discuss this later. It wouldn't be appropriate for me to be late to work."

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Rory exited Doose's Market with several bags in hand, and a convoy of curious townies in close pursuit. She'd been running some errands for Lorelai: picking up diapers and other necessities as she made her rounds through the town. And no matter where she turned, she felt a dozen pairs of eyes on her, monitoring her every move.

Rory sighed, spinning to face the cluster of familiar faces, who quickly diverted their attention, feigning indifference. She shook her head at their antics, and surged forward, her next stop a personal errand at the book store.

She halted abruptly when her cell phone rang, causing a domino-like effect with the townies. With a smug smile, Rory shifted the bags in her hands so she could retrieve her phone from her purse. She checked the caller ID and her smile widened further as she marched toward the gazebo for a little privacy, and pressed the phone to her ear. "Hey, stranger," she answered, climbing the wooden steps, relieved to have finally lost her trail.

"This a bad time?" Jess's unmistakable voice sounded from the other end of the line.

"Nope, perfect time," Rory assured him, taking a seat on the bench. "How are things with you?"

"Keeping busy, how about you?"

"Oh, you know... nothing major to report."

"Uh huh," Jess replied dubiously.

Rory chuckled and said with an air of amazement in her voice, "We have a baby in the house." She still hadn't grown accustomed to that fact.

"So I heard. Town must be going nuts."

"Yeah, you could definitely say that," Rory told him, watching as the townspeople huddled together from afar, clearly hatching some kind of plan. "You got any advice for me?"

"Advice?" Jess asked.

"Yeah, you were in this same position not too long ago... you know, with Doula," Rory explained, but Jess remained silent. "You were an adult... well, you're still an adult, but, I mean, then... you were an adult then, too, and Doula, she was a baby... same situation." She stopped rambling when she heard Jess chuckle.

"Take a breath," he said. "That's actually why I called."

Rory smirked. "You wanna talk about babies?"

"That's what all the cool kids are doing these days."

"I bet Doula loves her big brother Jess."

"Helps that I remembered her last birthday." Rory grinned, shifting on the bench and crossing her right leg over her left. "She's a pretty cool kid. Seems pretty smart, no thanks to TJ."

"Was it weird for you?" Rory asked. "I mean, having a baby for a sibling at your age? It still feels a bit weird to me. Maybe I'm just being crazy."

"Nah, it's weird at first, but you'll get used to it. I kinda feel more like an uncle than a big brother. You could picture it like that, might be easier to deal with."

"Picture myself as an uncle?" Rory teased.

Jess chuckled. "Yeah, exactly."

"So, Uncle Jess, what's your schedule like these days? I was thinking that we could maybe catch up in person sometime."

"I'm sure we could work something out," Jess said, sounding pleased. "Not sure I'll recognize you, though."

Rory smiled. "Forget what I look like already?"

"The memory's a bit fuzzy. Dark hair, right?"

"Yep." She nodded. "And a mustache."

"You're really stuck on that uncle thing."

"Hey, whatever works," Rory said, curling her feet up beside her on the bench, and relaxing further as they continued to converse.

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"Finally!" Lorelai whispered, looking at Ellie contentedly snoozing in her swing set. "The baby books all say you're supposed to take an afternoon nap, you know. Your sister Rory always did. It helps your mommy get some alone time."

Lorelai waited another few seconds, just to make sure the proverbial coast was clear.

"Time to test the waters once more," Lorelai whispered. Three previous attempts at moving across the room had resulted in Ellie awakening and screaming like Lorelai was a zombie ready to do whatever it was that zombies did to babies. Lorelai slowly tiptoed across the room. "I look like a bloated astronaut spacewalking through a Cylon minefield," she muttered, inching her way to the kitchen, where her cell phone, and contact with the outside world, awaited her.

Success! A mere five minutes after she'd started making her way across the room, her cell phone was in sight, and in reach.

Grabbing it, she guiltily stole a glance in Ellie's direction, then pressed speed-dial for the inn's reception.

The line picked up sooner than Lorelai expected, right after the first ring. "Michel," Lorelai immediately hissed into the phone, "How's it going?"

"This is your mother, Lorelai," Emily's voice seemed to boom at her through the airwaves.

Having expected Michel's haughty voice, Lorelai jumped. "Mom!"

"Why are you calling, Lorelai? You're on leave."

"I... uh... I was just checking with Michel about something... I... a special assignment. yes, a special assignment he's doing for me. Super-secret inn stuff."

"May I help you with it?" Emily smoothly continued.

Lorelai looked over at Ellie. "Uh, sorry mom, Ellie's waking from her nap. Gotta go. Bye Mom."

"What shall I tell Michel?" Emily asked, as the line went dead.

Disappointed, Lorelai looked around the kitchen. She'd hoped to find out what was really going on at the inn. It was difficult to be away from what had been her other baby for so long. She tiptoed back to the living room, and after checking to make sure that Ellie was still breathing, flopped down on the couch.

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Luke yawned as he put the finishing touches on a pie order. Turning around to face his customer, he slid the pie over and looked through the window to the street. A small crowd had gathered at the corner, and Luke noticed that a police cruiser was parked by the soda shoppe. An older police officer consulted his cell phone, then walked towards the diner.

"Great, just what I need today," Luke jerked his head in the direction of the window, hissing at Caesar. "We're already shorthanded, since Larry didn't bother to show up for his shift."

"Again?" Caesar asked. "That's three days in a row now..."

The officer entered the diner. "Mr. Danes work here?" he asked. "Mr. Luke Danes?"

"Speaking," Luke answered. "May I help you, officer?"

The officer walked to the counter.

Luke began to worry. "My wife... my daughter... daughters... they're OK, right?" Luke wracked his brain, trying to recall if Lorelai had taken the baby out to the pediatrician, as a cold fear gripped him.

The officer ignored his question, and instead asked, "Is there someplace more private we can go?"

"Sure. Follow me." He led the officer to the store room. "Uh, we could go upstairs, but..."

"No, no. This will do." The officer consulted his clipboard. "Are you the employer of a 'Lawrence Wong'?" he asked.

"Ummm... Lawrence... Larry... yes, Larry's worked here for at least ten years," Luke responded.

"I'm sorry to inform you, sir, that Mr. Wong has passed away."

Luke reeled, leaning against a set of shelves. "Larry? What happened?"

"He was apparently found deceased in his home, of natural causes, this morning," the officer informed him. "Some neighbors noticed the newspapers piling up at his door. Anyhow, he left some instructions..." The officer rummaged through some papers on the clipboard. "Here, we found this letter among his effects. Apparently you are his next of kin." The officer handed Luke an envelope.

Still stunned, Luke took the envelope. It had his name and the diner's address on it, neatly typed. "Where did you find this?"

The officer consulted his notes. "We searched his apartment and found that," he nodded at the envelope, "in his top desk drawer."

"I see," Luke responded.

"The coroner will need instructions as to where the body should be delivered." The officer handed a business card to Luke. "Open from eight until five, weekdays only."

"Yes, of course," Luke answered. "But why am I the next of kin?"

The officer consulted his notes. "His neighbors were not aware of any relatives, and when we found the envelope addressed to you."

Luke nodded.

"You might want to open that envelope, son," the officer added, placing his hand on Luke's shoulder. "I'm sorry to bring you such bad news. I'll see myself out."

Luke watched as the officer went back into the main diner area, then caught up to him. "Thank you, officer."

"Again, I'm sorry for your loss," the officer stated, and left the diner.

Luke returned to the counter. "Close the diner, Caesar," he yelled at his staff member.

"Something wrong, boss?" Caesar countered.

"It's Larry. He's... gone..."

"Larry? Gone? As in gone fishing, or on vacation?"

"Yes, Larry. Apparently he died of natural causes."

Caesar was clearly shocked by the news, and sagged against the counter.

"He left me this envelope..." Luke indicated, as he began to open the envelope.

The envelope contained a neatly typed sheet of paper. 'To Luke Danes,' he silently read. 'If you are reading this, it means I have passed away. You were always a great boss, and since I have no family in the United States, I consider the diner my family. I would like you to handle my funeral arrangements, which have been prepaid.'

Luke stopped. He hadn't known that Larry was all alone. "Apparently he was all alone, no family. Did you know much about him, Caesar?"

"No, not really," Caesar replied, "But come to think of it, I guess he was kind of a loner. What's the letter say?"

"Instructions for his funeral." Luke skimmed over the remainder of the letter. "And information as to where his will is filed, and what to do with various personal items." Luke sighed, realization dawning that he was now responsible for Larry's final arrangements. He thought of Ellie and April and Rory and everything going on with them, and Lorelai..."Lorelai!" he whispered.

Moving towards the door, he said, "Put a sign up, we'll be closed for a couple of days."

"Okay, boss," Caesar replied.

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Lorelai would know exactly what to do. After all, she had helped him with Uncle Louie, Luke mused as he approached his home. Luke had left Caesar behind to close the diner for the day, and raced home to talk to Lorelai.

A sign was plastered to the front door. "Make noise and you die! Do not ring the doorbell under any circumstances!" was written in Rory's precise block letters.

Luke winced; death threats suddenly were not funny given what had happened to Larry. He gently removed the sign and unlocked the front door as quietly as possible.

"Lorelai?" he whispered.

Not receiving an answer, he tried once more, a little louder, hissing, "Lorelai!"

Still receiving no answer, he tiptoed into the living room. Lorelai lay sprawled out on the couch, remote control in one hand, burp cloth in the other, fast asleep. Next to her, Ellie was also asleep in the swing set, which had long since stopped swinging.

"No need to panic," he whispered to himself. "It's just a funeral and Lorelai will help me later." Not wanting to disturb either of them, Luke tiptoed back out, and went to the garage. Perhaps doing some chores would help squelch his rising sense of panic.

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Rory rushed through her apartment door, grabbing a duffel bag and tossing a steady stream of clothing and other necessities inside. She was on her way to work, but she wanted to be packed so she could go directly to Lorelai's house after, without having to make any stops.

Once she finished her haphazard packing job, she took a quick scan around the apartment, making sure that everything was in its place. Satisfied, she picked up her duffel bag and exited, locking the door behind her and testing it to make sure. As she made it to the front entrance of the building, she paused to shift her bag, and nearly jumped out of her skin when she felt a hand on her shoulder.

She turned to face a smiling Kevin, and forced a smile of her own. "Kevin, hey," she said.

"Hey, stranger!" Kevin returned enthusiastically. "Haven't seen you around much lately."

"Yeah, I, uh," Rory stuttered. "I'm only working mornings at The Courant, so I can be there for the meetings, and I'm spending the rest of my time in Stars Hollow, writing my articles from home and helping my mom and Luke with the baby."

"How is the new... sister, right?"

"Right," she confirmed. "Ellie, short for Eleanor. And she's great. Amazing, actually."

Kevin nodded. "I bet. And I'm sure someday she'll be equally amazed by you."

Rory chuckled nervously. "Well, I hope so."

"So listen..." Kevin began, moving closer to her.

"Kevin," she said, holding up her hand to discourage him.

"Can you please hold that thought? I'm sorry. I just really need to get going."

"Oh," he replied, a defeated look on his face. "Sure. No problem."

"I'll see you later?" she asked, her hand poised on the door knob.

"Right. See you later," he muttered.

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Tuesday morning brought with it a dull and overcast sky, but that didn't deter an impressive assemblage of townspeople from resuming their paparazzi activities outside the Gilmore/Danes residence. Their numbers hadn't grown significantly, but their supplies had more than doubled, including: ladders, binoculars, fake foliage and camouflage gear. Each person carried with them a camera, one better than the next. More zoom power, wider lens angle, or superior picture quality.

"My camera is waterproof," Kirk boasted proudly to a cluster of townspeople.

"How is that going to help you here?" Bootsy asked, perplexed.

Gypsy snorted. "It's in case of a tsunami, right?"

"Well," Kirk explained, "babies are very, uh... gooey."

Patty shook her head. "Kirk, sweetheart, do you know anything about babies?"

"I'm just being cautious," he reasoned.

"Please don't ever procreate," Gypsy muttered.

Babette's stout body rounded the corner in a hurry as she hollered, "We've got movement! Eastside, upper deck. Morey," she gasped, out of breath, "get me a ladder!"

A group of townspeople instantly sprung into action, moving equipment and supplies to the eastern side of the property.

With the ladder safely in place, just below the only window in the house with light pouring through, Babette began her upward trek. "I'm in position!" she announced a minute later to the people below. She removed her camera from her jacket pocket and poised to snap the first picture of baby Ellie. But her anxious smile soon became a frown as she recognized the figure through the semitransparent glass. "It's just Luke," she sighed in disappointment, her eyes remaining fixed on the window. "Takin' a shower," she choked out. "Oh, my God."

"Take a picture!" Patty screamed from below, desperately searching for something to fan herself with.

Babette let out a wheezing sound, then temporarily lost grip on the ladder, yelping in distress as she fought to hang on, her camera somehow landing unscathed on the step below.

"You okay, babe?" Morey called out in concern.

"I'm comin' down!" Babette replied in a shaken voice, tucking the camera back into her pocket and carefully descending the ladder.

After a comforting hug and kiss from her hubby, Babette was whisked away by Patty to a more private location.

"Tell me everything and don't spare any details," Patty demanded.

"He's got a great ass."

"Did you get a picture?"

"It's all about proximity," Babette said with a chuckle, retrieving her camera and clicking on the most recent picture. "Aw crap," she hissed.

Patty squinted her eyes, trying to make something from nothing. "I think I see a foot. Is that a foot?"

"I think it's my hand," Babette cried. "The little bastard."

"Well, you've come as close as any of us have," Patty said in consolation. "That's nothing to be ashamed of." She considered quietly for a moment before adding, "What are the odds that he's still in the shower?"

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Luke was stacking plates under the counter, when he heard the door open behind him, followed by a series of moans and grunts. He turned to see Lorelai attempting to open the door with her elbows while she gripped the handle of the stroller.

"I've got it!" Lorelai shouted, kicking it open with her foot as she attempted to push the stroller over the threshold. The door started to swing closed, with the stroller only halfway in the diner, and Lorelai quickly blocked it with her body, the bells above, jingling wildly. "Gah! I don't have it! I'm seriously out of practice with this."

Luke rushed across the room, and held the door open for Lorelai with his back, helping her lift the stroller over the step and into the diner. Lorelai stood up straight, wiping her brow as she followed behind Luke while he parked the stroller. "Okay, so getting out of the house is a lot more exhausting than it used to be." She glanced around the diner, finally taking in the absence of patrons. "Wow, it's dead in here."

"Yeah, actually, I was closed for most of the day. I just reopened for a bit." Luke looked down and noticed a blanket covering where Ellie was sleeping. He pulled it off and held it out to Lorelai. "Want to explain this to me?"

"Eh, I was trying to avoid TMZ outside the house with the Michael Jackson method. I left out the back door and cut through the bushes, and somehow made it here. I almost went with the masks that Taylor handed out during the Swine Flu emergency meeting, but I thought that might be a little overkill." She sunk down in a chair next to the stroller and fanned herself with a menu.

"This town thing is getting out of control."

"Yeah, I wish it wasn't so much fun to mess with them, though," Lorelai said with a grin. "I'm thinking about holding her outside of the bedroom window, just to see what they would do."

"Don't you dare," Luke admonished with a narrowed brow. He picked up the sleeping baby carefully, cradling her against his chest as he swayed a bit. "I draw the line at that Michael Jackson impersonation."

"You're no fun."

"So, what brings you to town?" he said, changing the subject.

"I don't know. I feel like I've been having cabin fever lately, with you and Rory bringing everything to the house that I need and me not being able to get out much. And it feels like we've had a bit of a 'Strangers in the Night' thing going on."

Luke frowned. "Yeah, sorry about that. I've had to pick up extra shifts since... well, I guess I haven't even seen you to tell you..."

"Tell me what?" she asked, her expression instantly changing to worry.

He took a seat at the table across from Lorelai. "Larry passed away."

Lorelai didn't say anything for a few beats, biting her lip in contemplation. Her brow furrowed. "Who?"

"Larry Wong."

"Again, who?"

"He's worked here for more than ten years. You've seen him plenty of times, have had numerous conversations with him about that show with the island... Glasses. Asian."

"Asian Caesar! He died?"

"Yeah, a few days ago. It was pretty sudden... Asian Caesar?"

"Affectionate nickname. He thought it was funny." Lorelai reached out and touched Luke's hand, smiling sympathetically. "I'm so sorry, hon."

"Yeah, me too. He was a good guy."

"Yeah, he really was. He always seemed to know when it was a to-go coffee day or a for-here coffee day as soon as I walked in."

"We used to talk a bit when the diner was slow. I guess he didn't have any family in the country, so I'm going to plan the funeral. I hope you don't mind, since it's been pretty hectic with Ellie and all."

"I think that's great, and I can help out if you need me to."

Luke sighed as he rubbed small circles on her hand with his thumb. "Yeah, I might need some."

The diner door swung open, and Lorelai and Luke turned to see Kirk rush into the diner.

"Luke, I need peanut butter and jelly, and I need it fast. Lorelai's gone AWOL, and I have to return to my..."

He stopped, spotting Lorelai sitting at the table. She grinned and waved at Kirk. His eyes widened and he nearly tripped over his own feet as he dashed back to the door.

"Camera! I forgot my camera! Damn it, where is my camera?" He raced out the door and Lorelai and Luke watched as he ran frantically past the diner window.

"I think I'm going to escape before he comes back," Lorelai said, standing and holding out her arms to take Ellie.

"Yeah, probably a good idea."

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫

"Richard!" Emily called out from the foyer. It felt good to be home after her long day.

In the time it took Emily to take off her jacket, Richard left his office, walked to the foyer, and greeted his wife with a kiss on the cheek. "Busy day? You look tired," he solicitously asked.

"I never realized just how useless that Michel is. I have no idea why Lorelai insists on keeping him on staff!" Emily griped. "It's a wonder she's been so successful."

"Our daughter has always been a hard worker." Richard helped Emily to the sofa. "And if she's kept him on all these years—he must have some redeeming quality!"

Emily acquiesced, and sighed. "Join me for some tea?" she asked.

Richard nodded, and Emily called for the maid.

While waiting for the tea, Richard brought up the subject of the new baby's trust fund. "I've given the matter of Ellie's trust fund some thought. You're absolutely right, Emily. Little Eleanor should have her own trust."

Emily smiled in triumph. "So you talked to our banker?"

"That I did. I have an email full of details he sent me after our meeting on Monday. I know that Lorelai and Luke prefer their independence, but I was just reading about the massive increases in the cost of education. Luke has April's future to provide for, and that young lady is going to go far. I think they might welcome some help with Eleanor's education."

"She'll need a lot more than that, Richard." Emily paused while tea was served.

Richard raised an eyebrow, silently asking her to explain.

"Eleanor will have social requirements. Summer camps. Cotillions. The best schools. Her debut... and eventually, her wedding. Don't you want her to live like the Gilmore she is?"

"But Rory really didn't need us until high school." Richard countered.

"And look at what she missed out on! Having to go to a cotillion like a Second-hand Rose in a home-made dress. No real debut. Public school for most of her education..." Emily shuddered at the thought of the Stars Hollow school system.

Richard sighed. "I suppose you're right, Emily. She is, after all, a Gilmore grandchild."

"Then it's settled? You'll have the papers drawn up?" Emily pressed onward.

"I'll call our banker in the morning."

"Wonderful," Emily added, "I can't wait to take her shopping for her first cotillion dress."

Richard chuckled. "That's a few years away."

"And we don't need to tell Luke and Lorelai until Eleanor needs to draw upon the funds," Emily schemed. "It will be a nice surprise for them!"

Emily smiled at her husband, who in spite of any misgivings, nodded in agreement.

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫

"Lucy, I'm home!" Rory called out from the foyer, arms loaded down with grocery sacks. She hefted the bags into the kitchen, where Lorelai was seated at the table, burping Ellie.

"Heh, you know what's funny about that? We actually have a Lucy in the house now."

"Huh, that's going to take some getting used to." Rory dropped her bags on the counter, and then lightly stroked Ellie's head before heading to the refrigerator to grab a water bottle. She took a seat next to Lorelai at the table, propping her legs up on the chair next to it. "So, the grocery store was a zoo. I thought about getting stuff for my place while I was at it, but I decided to just get what we needed here and head home."

"You get the baby wipes?"

"Yes, and the rocky road ice cream that you were craving."

"You're a lifesaver." Lorelai yawned. "Oh, man, you have perfect timing. I'm exhausted."

"I can take the baby for a bit, you could use a nap."

"Nah, it's okay, sweets. I want to stay up and talk to you a bit."

"Okay, sounds good."

Lorelai copied Rory's position, and carefully shifted Ellie in her arms as she attempted to get more comfortable. The baby fussed quietly, before settling into her new position, her eyes closing slightly. "You know what I just realized?"


"Well, two things really. One, I may like Nathan Fillion better on Castle than I did on Firefly."

"You take that back!" Rory teased, pointing her finger at Lorelai.

"And two," Lorelai continued. "I seriously can't remember the last time you were even at your apartment."

"I was there yesterday to get some stuff."

"To bring back here."

"Well, yeah."

"And you haven't spent time with your friends since before Ellie was born."

"That's not true," Rory said, opening her water bottle. "I've seen Lane several times in the past couple weeks."

"What about Tess? And Neighbor Guy?"

"Tess came over last week. And I saw Kevin yesterday. What's with the third degree?"

"It's just... I don't know, we're getting in a groove here. But, you have a real life in the real world, and maybe you'd like to be in it for longer than five hours. You saw Kevin yesterday?" she asked suddenly.

"I like being here with you and Luke and the baby. I don't mind helping out."

"Okay, just making sure. And Kevin?" Lorelai continued pressing.

Rory sighed. "What about Kevin?"

Lorelai smiled. "Yes, what about Kevin?" she repeated.

"Do you need a break?" Rory said, changing topics. She stood, and took the sleeping Ellie from her mother.

"Yeah," Lorelai said, another yawn escaping. "Maybe I could use a nap."

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫

Rory tapped absently on her keyboard as she scrolled through a research journal, looking for information for her next article on flu epidemics. She yawned, the late night shift she volunteered for with Ellie catching up with her.

Finding nothing of interest in the article, she closed her browser and opened up a word document, deciding to get a jump start on the introduction. An IM popped up from kman81, and she opened it, remembering it was Kevin's screen name.

Kman81: "Well, if it isn't the elusive Miss Gilmore, international woman of mystery."

She smiled and typed: "Hey. How's it going?"

Kman81: "Can't complain, I have my planning period right now. How are you? How's that sister of yours?"

Rgilmore: She's great! I'm just a little tired, but otherwise fine. Working on an article."

Kman81: "Anything I would be interested in?"

Rgilmore: "Not if you're still interested in Swine Flu, and an expose of past flu epidemics."

Kman81: "Not at all."

The phone on her desk rang and she picked it up quickly. "Hartford Courant, this is Rory Gilmore."

"Hi, my name is Dr. Harry James calling from Hartford Memorial. You left a message with my secretary requesting an interview?"

"Oh, yes, Dr. James, thanks for returning my call. Do you have a little time to answer some of my questions?"

Rory reached over for a notepad and a pen as she began to tell Dr. James about her article. She looked back at her laptop, noticing that Kevin had sent her another IM.

Kman81: "Hey, I know we've been missing each other lately, but do you think we can get together sometime soon?"

As she jotted down a quote from Dr. James, she typed: "sure," with her left hand and sent it back to Kevin. Then, she wrote: "Sorry, I just had someone call for an interview. I have to go."

Kman81: "Can we meet at the bookstore tomorrow? Maybe around 5?"

Rgilmore: "Okay."

Kman81: "Great! See you then! Bye, International Woman of Mystery."

Rgilmore: "Bye!"

As she was typing, she realized she had missed something that Dr. James had just said. Rolling her eyes, she closed her laptop, and brought her notepad closer to her. "I'm sorry, Dr. James, do you mind repeating what you just said?"

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫

Luke and Lorelai entered the diner, overwhelmed by the throng of people that met them on the other side. In preparation for the funeral reception, Luke had asked Caesar and Zach to take charge of things, and they seemed to be handling the influx of patrons with relative ease.

"Wow," Lorelai marveled. "How do all these people even know... uh, Lester?"

"Larry," Luke corrected her.

"Right, Larry. He so didn't look like a Larry. Maybe a Norman... or a Harry." They walked over to the collage of pictures near the front counter.

"A Harry, but not a Larry?" Luke asked, incredulous.

Lorelai nodded. "The 'H' makes a big difference."

"Lorelai, Luke!" Patty called enthusiastically, hurrying over to the couple, her eyes darting around curiously. "Where is..."

"With Rory," Lorelai answered knowingly. "She's babysitting for us."

"Oh," Patty said, disappointment etched on her face. "Well, uh, good to see you two," she added half-heartedly as she trudged away.

Lorelai turned to Luke. "So, I don't think we'll be winning the parents of the year award anytime soon."

"We're definitely not taking her out in public yet," Luke returned. "She's too young to be coming into contact with these loons."

"Heya, doll face," Babette said to Lorelai as she moved next to her, admiring the photographs. "Where's the little one?"

Lorelai smirked. "She's touring with Bono."

"So, she's not here?"

"No," Luke answered impatiently.

Babette barely glanced at him before turning back to Lorelai, her face beet red. "I gotta go," she said, making a beeline for Patty.

Luke frowned in confusion. "What the hell was that all about?"

"Apparently she saw you naked this morning," Lorelai said with a chuckle.

His eyes widened in shock. "What? How do you know that?"

"Your bathrobe slipped, and her poor little heart couldn't take it," she added with a wink. Luke groaned. "It's big news, hon. Everybody knows."

"Is nothing sacred to these people?"

"Oh, sure. A naked man's body is very sacred."

"Damn town," Luke grumbled.

Lorelai patted him on the chest in sympathy. "Here comes Gypsy."

Without even so much as a 'Hello', Gypsy cut right to the chase, "Where's the kid?"

Lorelai gasped in mock offense. "What, no small talk?" Gypsy remained expressionless. "We, uh, lost her," Lorelai said with a shrug. "Oops."

Gypsy rolled her eyes. "That the best you can do?"

"Nope," Lorelai insisted. "I can do better. Okay, uh, she's hangin' with Suri, Apple and Shiloh today, and tomorrow, she has a play date with Phinnaeus and Hazel. Better?"

"Still needs work," Gypsy told her.

"Excuse me, Luke?" an unfamiliar voice entered the conversation. "I'm Larry's lawyer, Darryl Strong," the man said, extending his hand. "May I speak with you for a moment?"

"Where's your other brother Darryl?" Lorelai asked, giggling at her own joke.

"I'm sorry?" Darryl queried.

"Bad joke," Lorelai explained. "Newhart would have done it better."

"I have an apartment upstairs," Luke informed Darryl. "Might be quieter."

"Sounds good," Darryl said, leading Luke behind the curtain.

"Jeez," Lorelai muttered. "He gets to go upstairs on the first date? You're too easy."

Luke shook his head. "I'll be right back. Behave yourself," he said, kissing her lightly on the lips and disappearing behind the curtain.

♫   ♫   ♫  

Luke returned a few minutes later, earning a surprised look from Lorelai. "That was fast. Where's Darryl?"

"I let him out the back door," Luke said.

"That's good." Lorelai nodded. "Bump him off. Nobody needs to know he was here."

Luke chuckled. "He's not a bad guy. He wants to meet with me tomorrow afternoon to discuss the will."

"The will?" Lorelai stepped back in amazement. "Get him back in here! What do we get, what do we get?"

"I don't know yet. I'll find out tomorrow," Luke said, emphasizing the last word.

"Okay. Make sure you wear something nice, but not too nice. He might take pity on us. And don't tell any Newhart jokes."

He smirked. "Wasn't planning on it."

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫

Luke was exhausted after the long meeting with Darryl Strong. He didn't like lawyers; he'd married one, and look how that had ended up. And traffic had been unusually heavy. A long day at work followed by a long meeting with a lawyer did not add up to a happy Luke. And now he had to worry about how he was going to break the news of Larry's gift to Lorelai.

"Oh for crying out loud!" he angrily hissed, driving up to his home. A number of vehicles were parked on the street, effectively blocking access to his driveway.

Luke lowered the truck window. "Don't you people have anything better to do?" he yelled.

"Shh," a familiar voice yelled back, "You'll wake her up. I think Lorelai just put her down."

"Kiiirrrrkkk!" he seethed.

"You sound like Ricardo Montalban, Hon." Babette suddenly appeared at the window. "Khan!" she bellowed with her throaty voice.

"Oh, now there was a man," Miss Patty chimed in. "Such a shame that's he's left us." Miss Patty edged out Babette, and peered into Luke's truck. "Is that Corinthian leather?" she smirked.

Luke scowled at her. "Go. Home. All of you."

"OK, OK. People, move your cars!" Babette yelled, as Luke impatiently tapped the steering wheel.

Finally able to park his truck in front of his home, Luke stomped up the stairs. It didn't escape his notice that the townies hadn't left, but had merely moved their cars.

Lorelai opened the door a crack, peeking out to admonish him. "Whoa there, ix-nay on the oise-nay. Ellie's fed and off to dreamland."

Luke closed the door after himself and quietly followed Lorelai into the kitchen. "Damn busybodies," he hissed.

"Aw Hon, I'm sorry you're having to deal with all this and the town," Lorelai commiserated. "So what happened at the lawyer's?"

"You'll want to sit down for this," Luke advised, motioning her to take a seat at the table. "A lot of paperwork to fill out—I'll have to go back to see him next week."

"So are you the executor?"

"Nope, but Larry left us something."

"Really? I didn't think he was the miser with a secret stash of cash under the mattress type."

Luke sighed. "Well, Lorelai, it's kind of hard to describe. It's a property."

"Like a huge lot?"

"More like a building. Actually, it is a building."

"Ooh, like the Twickham House?" Lorelai teased.

Luke grimaced. "More like the flower shop—before it was fixed up. Darryl showed me some pictures of the interior. It's full of boxes."

"Ooh, a mystery house!" Lorelai squealed. "When can we go see it?"

"Darryl said he'd get the key to us tomorrow."

"You don't seem too excited," Lorelai noticed.

"Do you realize we're going to have pay taxes on this thing? And who knows if it's really a good property? It's not like I paid Larry a lot of money for working at the diner. And the location, well... apparently it's out on the edge of town, in the middle of nowhere."

Lorelai yawned and sighed. "Hon, as much as I love a good Luke rant, let's sleep on this one. Ellie will be ready for another feeding before we know it." She wrapped her arms around Luke, briefly resting her head on his shoulder.

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫

"So why are we still here?" Bootsy asked his fellow neighbors as they remained on-site, despite Luke's threats. "The kid's asleep."

"We can still get a shot," Andrew said. "I'd take a sleeping baby shot over a naked Luke foot any day."

"It's not a foot; it's my hand," Babette argued.

Andrew shrugged. "Same difference."

"I'd take a naked Luke foot, personally," Patty cooed.

The interior and exterior lights around the house shut off abruptly, bringing more attention to the dark of the night that was quickly falling upon the town.

"Did it just get darker out here?" Bootsy wondered.

Gypsy smirked. "You scared?"

"They just turned all the lights off," Patty explained. "I guess it's time to pack it in."

"But my camera has night vision!" Kirk protested.

"That's not going to help you see through closed curtains," Gypsy returned, gesturing to the windows.

"Hey, what did we miss?" Sookie's voice rang out as she walked up the driveway next to Jackson.

"You're a little late to the party," Morey reported.

"Oh." Sookie frowned in disappointment. "But I brought cupcakes."

"And these aren't just any cupcakes, they're triple chocolate espresso cupcakes, good for any late night shindig," Jackson added in a salesman pitch.

"Well, I'm sold," Babette said, reaching for the container as the two stragglers approached.

"Are we camping out?" Kirk asked, his eyes lighting up. "I have an eight-man tent in storage at Mother's house." He continued talking as he moved around the property. "I'll take night watch. Ellie woke up three times last night and no one was around to catch it. I have the perfect spot picked out."

"Is anyone else camping?" Patty surveyed the crowd, as Kirk's voice faded in the distance.

"Is anyone else concerned that Kirk knows the baby's sleeping schedule?" Andrew muttered.

"Fabulous," Patty concluded. "Grab a cupcake on your way out, and we'll reconvene in the morning."

"Give her a vest and a gavel, and she's Taylor," Gypsy quipped as the townspeople began to disperse, taking a cupcake for the road.

Sookie beamed proudly as the container she held, emptied before her eyes. "Thanks for coming out. Enjoy the cupcakes," she said. "Vote Jackson!" she added, instantly breaking into a fit of giggles as she realized her mistake.

"So long, Kirk," Jackson called out as he and Sookie pulled up the rear of the convoy.

Kirk came bounding around the house shouting, "You guys are just going to get your tents, right?"

"Sure, Kirk," Bootsy answered.

"Someone should tell Lulu where he is," Patty encouraged the people closest to her.

"I'm on it," Morey offered.

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫

Rory entered her apartment building, nose nearly in her purse as she dug around for her key. She climbed the stairs slowly, letting her memory guide her steps, both hands furiously digging around for the lost item.

"Gum, wallet, book, more gum, iPod," she murmured under her breath as her hand touched each item. "Doesn't help that this bag is like the Mary Poppins carpet bag abyss." One of her neighbors passed her, shooting her an apprehensive grin. "And also doesn't help that you tend to talk to yourself out loud. Frakkin' keys."

She reached her floor, now pulling item after item out of her bag, precariously placing things under her arms. "No keys, no keys, no keys. I seriously just had them like a sec— Hi!" she nearly shouted, jumping when she glanced up to see Kevin sitting in front of her door. Shocked, the items loosened under her arms and dropped to the floor, and she chased after them, kneeling and furiously collecting them. Kevin joined her moments later, helping her gather the last of the items. She unceremoniously dumped them into her purse, and looked up to officially greet Kevin. He was grinning at her. "Uh, hi. What are you doing here?"

"Wow, quite the welcome."

"Sorry, I'm just surprised to see you here, literally on my doorstep."

"I was hoping to catch you."


"It's just... you never showed up at the bookstore and I was worried. Thought I might have a better chance waiting for you here."

"The bookstore?"

"Yeah, you said you would meet me there earlier."

"I did?" Rory asked incredulously, her purse slipping off her shoulder, hooking on the crook of her elbow.

"We talked when you were at work, remember?"

"Oh my God, Kevin, I'm so sorry," Rory said, realization setting in as she remembered her conversation from before. "I went over to Stars Hollow to let my mom get some sleep, and it completely slipped my mind. Maybe you and Tess and I could do something this weekend, or—"

"It's fine, Rory," Kevin interrupted, looking slightly hurt. "Not a big deal. I was just hoping we could talk... And, uh, Tess wasn't even there. Why did you think Tess was there?"

"I don't know. I just assumed she was working, and we were going to hang out with her there. I feel awful."

"Like I said, no big deal." He ran his fingers through his hair nervously, looking down. "It's late, and I have to finish putting my lesson together for tomorrow. Why don't we just make plans later?"

"Okay. That sounds good."

"Okay. Night Rory," Kevin said, giving her shoulder a good-natured squeeze as he passed her.

"Uh, night."

She reached her hand back into her purse to find that in the scuffle, her keys had shifted to the top. She sighed, still feeling terrible, and slipped her key into the lock, listening as it clicked open.

"I don't know if this is a good idea," Kevin said, suddenly close behind her. She jumped for the second time that night, and whipped around to face him. He was pacing. "Or, if I'm in my right mind, but I just have to know. It's driving me crazy, and I don't know, maybe I'm getting a little too old for all this running around. I just need to know that we are on the same page here, Rory. One minute, we're inseparable, and the next, I can't even get you to talk on an IM conversation." He scrutinized her face carefully, his brows furrowed. "I thought that maybe there's something here, something between us, and now, I'm not sure so... I'm just going to... yeah—"

Then, he stepped forward and kissed her.

Her eyes widened as he wrapped his arms around her and pulled her flush to him. His hands splayed on her back and he attempted to pull her even closer. Yet, she didn't pull away. Once the initial shock wore off, she kissed him back, her hand reaching up to cup his cheek. Rory closed her eyes, reaching blindly for the door knob behind her. She stumbled slightly, and he grinned, breaking the kiss.

"Can we talk about it now?" she asked, out of breath.

"Absolutely," Kevin said, stroking her cheek affectionately.

She grabbed his shirt, and pulled him in for another kiss, while her other hand opened the door and led them both inside her apartment.

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫

"What did you find in that box?" Lorelai asked, sitting on the floor and digging through a tall box of her own. Ellie's car seat rested next to her leg, and she stared wide-eyed at Lorelai as she placed article after article on the dusty floor.

It was Saturday morning, and with Luke's newly endowed key, the Gilmore/Danes family decided to head to the Larry Wong property to see what his plans had been for the place. Lorelai and Rory were exploring the boxes on the first floor, while Luke and April took inventory of everything on the second floor.

"I've got three feather boas, twelve Franklin Mint spoons, and a book entitled 'You and Your Spleen,'" Rory listed, holding up each item for Lorelai to see from across the room. "How about you?"

"A crocheted pillow, an old box fan, a disco ball, and a Rod Steward CD."

"Aw, I never knew he liked Rod Stewart," Rory said, smiling fondly. "Ooo, found some board games! Looks like Battleship and Mouse Trap."

"That Asian Caesar, so full of surprises."

"I'm going to miss him."

"Yeah, me too." Lorelai pulled out a book, and brushed the dust off the cover. "Oh, here's something interesting: 'The Idiot's Guide to Organization.' Clearly it helped."

"You shouldn't speak ill of the dead," Rory admonished, shaking her head. "Oh, hello! Dead plant." Rory set the plant down far from her. "And, oh my God, spider! Spider!"

"Ew, where? Where?"

Both women jumped up and scrambled to the center of the room, dodging boxes and piles of stuff to get to each other.

"What about Ellie?" Rory asked, brushing off her sweatshirt, fighting off the chills running up and down her spine.

"She'll have to fend for herself. Cardinal rule of spider discovery."

"I feel like they're all over me!"

"Ugh, me too!" Lorelai brushed the back of Rory's sweater off, picking off imaginary spiders, before shedding her own hoodie.

"Okay," Rory said, taking a few deep breaths. "We can handle this. We are adults."

"Adults who are afraid of spiders," Lorelai corrected, eyeballing the corner of the room where Rory had been sitting.

"Well, I'll just come over here by you. We'll let him have that corner."

"He can find us. He knows what we look like now. You know how they say elephants never forget. Well, spiders never, ever forget. Vindictive bastards."

Rory grabbed Lorelai's arm, and dragged her back over to her stack of boxes. "Then, we'll call for Luke."

"Okay," Lorelai said, sucking in a breath. "I can deal with that."

Rory picked up an unopened box and set it down next to Lorelai's. Both women sat down and Lorelai returned her attention to the contents of her own box.

"I apologize for our mother," Rory said to Ellie, ignoring Lorelai's appalled expression. "She once told me that she would save a cake over me in the event of a fire."

"Unfair! Again, I remind you, cakes do not have legs!"

"Just pay attention to your box."

Lorelai pulled out a map with US State quarters in each state slot. "Aw, he hadn't found Hawaii yet," she said, showing the map to Rory.

"That makes me inexplicably sad," Rory responded, eyes watering slightly. "Poor Larry Wong."

"Yeah, poor Larry Wong... What do you think he was going to use this place for? He clearly wasn't living here, and he must have had some plan for it."

"I don't know. I feel like we stepped into Mr. Heckles' emporium of insanity. I'm half expecting to find a journal talking about how Annoying Coffee Lady and Annoying Coffee Lady's daughter annoyed him in the diner today."

"Looking at all the stuff we've found, I'm thinking he was planning for a coffee house-burlesque show hybrid, where he displays his one of a kind collectibles, and listens to Rod Stewart mixes."

"And gives symposiums on spleens and organization practices on the weekend."

Lorelai giggled. "Heh, good one. Sounds like a good place someone might take their new boyfriend to."

Rory rolled her eyes. "Kevin's not my boyfriend... or, at least I'm not sure he is."

"Oh, that's not what it sounded like when you called me after Neighbor Guy left last night."

"We're just taking it slow."

"Uh huh, sure," Lorelai said, shaking her head.

"You about ready to break for lunch?" Luke's voice echoed in the room as he and April entered from the back.

"Lunch sounds good," Rory said, standing and wiping her jeans.

"Anything interesting upstairs?" Lorelai asked, reaching over to take Ellie out of her car seat.

"Not much. Just some paperwork and photos."

"Yeah, look at this one," April said, producing a picture for Lorelai.

Rory looked over Lorelai's shoulder. The picture showed Larry, Caesar, and Luke in the diner. Caesar was holding a spatula, Luke was surprisingly sans hat, and Larry had his arm around Luke's shoulders, grinning.

"Wow. How long ago was this?" Lorelai asked, smiling.

"Must have been before Lane started working at Luke's," Rory added.

"I don't know," Luke said, adjusting the bill of his cap. "I think maybe a little bit after he started working at the diner. I don't even remember taking it."

Rory picked up the picture and flipped it over. "Oh, here's an inscription: 'Me and the gang at Luke's in 2002.'"

"Huh," Luke said, taking the picture from Rory to examine it himself.

"We should frame this," April suggested, putting her hand on Luke's arm. "And put it in the diner."

"Yeah," Luke responded. "That would be nice."

The room was silent for a minute, as they all glanced at the picture in front of them. Luke sighed, and handed the picture back to April. "Lunch?"

"Yeah," Lorelai said, squeezing Luke's shoulder affectionately. "Let's eat."

They quietly set up a make-shift picnic on the floor, using unopened boxes as impromptu tables. Lorelai handed Ellie to Rory, and put a towel on the boxes , while Luke and April set out the food from the cooler they brought. They all took a seat on the floor, and Rory passed Ellie over to Luke, where she nuzzled snugly in the crook of his arm.

"So," Lorelai began, resting her head on Luke's shoulder as she took a bite of her cold sandwich, "what in the world are we going to do with this place?"

Luke sighed again, looking around the room contemplatively. "Hell if I know."

"Something just crawled across my shoe!" April shouted, jumping up.

Lorelai and Rory glanced at each other, before leaping to their feet as well. "He's left his corner!" Lorelai exclaimed, grabbing April's arm and pulling her to the door. "Run! Save yourselves!"

Luke looked down at his daughter, her lashes fluttering as sleep began to take over. "Your mother and your sisters are insane. You'll learn soon enough." Then, he propped Ellie up in his arms, watching with a small smile on his face as three of the women in his life brushed imaginary spiders off their shirts.






And now, to end the great mystery... we'll be returning in the fall, with a brand new season! Hope you all have a fabulous summer, and stay tuned!!  




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