A/N: I attempted to fix up my post-finale piece, but this came out instead. My muse is strange sometimes. Blame the corporate advertising whores and the annual influx of sappy father-love commercials.
Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3 / Part 4
Lorelai tightened her grip on her daughter’s hand as they crossed the street. The girl, unfazed by the change of direction, bounced excitedly at Lorelai’s side, chattering endlessly. Suddenly, she ceased speaking and looked up at her mother eagerly.
“That’s nice, hon,” replied Lorelai absently. She had lost track of the story at least ten minutes ago.
“Oh, oh, and mommy, guess what, guess what!”
Lorelai smiled at her daughter and shook her head. “Uh, let’s see… Jake stuck a crayon up his nose?”
“Uh-huh!” replied Amelia with wide, incredulous eyes. “How’d you know?”
“What can I say? I’m just that good.” Lorelai refrained from mentioning that Jake stuck a crayon up his nose every day and that, without fail, Amelia reported this bit of news every day (sometimes more than once a day). It was nice to have her daughter look at her in awe. Lorelai knew better than to expect this admiration to never end. Sooner or later, it would be replaced by exasperation. She cringed, not wanting to think of that aspect. “Did he get in trouble?”
Amelia nodded enthusiastically. “He had to clean up all the toys.”
“Wow. Was Mrs. Lewis’ yardstick in the shop?”
“Nothing. Hey, so, I was thinking… why don’t we go to the diner and grab some lunch, hmm?”
Amelia’s eyes lit up and, if possible, she began to bounce even more. “Okay!”
Lorelai chuckled as they approached the town square. However, just as the two of them passed by Doose’s Market, Lorelai noticed Taylor jog out of the store. He called her name once, twice, three times. She ignored him.
Lorelai finally turned toward Amelia and asked, “Hey, hun, is that Taylor behind us?”
Her daughter turned her head to see Taylor speed-walking toward them. She waved enthusiastically at the man before turning back toward her mother. “Yep!”
She kept walking.
“LOR-EL-AI! Will you just stop for one second? My Goodness,” he added breathlessly, “this woman never slows down!”
Lorelai stopped walking abruptly and groaned, before turning around and meeting Taylor’s eyes. “It’s the coffee,” she offered. She then feigned a gasp, bringing her hand to her mouth and exclaimed, “Oh, Taylor, I didn’t know you were behind us!”
“Yes you did! I called your name at least five times, Lorelai.”
“Yes! Your daughter even turned around and waved at me!”
Lorelai looked down at her daughter admonishingly. “You waved at him?”
Amelia merely shrugged innocently in response. Taylor cleared his throat impatiently.
“All right. What can I do for you, Taylor?”
“I have something here I thought you might be interested in.” He handed her a bright yellow flyer and, as she began to read, continued, “It’s to raise money for the Stars Hollow Beautification Committee.”
Lorelai continued to skim the flyer. “Jeez, have you ever heard of editing?”
“But this is all vital information! It’s Stars Hollow’s first annual Father-Daughter Dance! This is new; people might get confused!”
“But you talk about the dance for two sentences and the rest is promoting ten percent off all laundry detergent at your store.”
Taylor rolled his eyes, ignoring Lorelai. Instead, he crouched down beside Amelia, handed her a flyer, and asked, “How would you like go to a dance with your father on Saturday night?”
“And then get ten percent off Tide!”
Taylor glared at Lorelai. “Why do I bother?”
“Beats me. Okay, so, there’s a father-daughter dance, I get that part. But why are you telling me this? I think I’ve officially earned the title of ‘mother’ after pushing a head the size of a watermelon out of my –“
“I beg you not to finish that sentence.” Lorelai smirked at him. “I just thought that the two lovely ladies of the Danes’ household would have some, uhh, sway in the situation.”
“Well, we do sway quite often.”
“A dance?” whispered Amelia with a small smile.
“Yes, and it’s a formal dance. That means you get to wear a pretty dress and mingle with important people,” Taylor explained haughtily. “Now, I know your father is a grump, but, well, if he really loves you, he’ll go to the dance with you.”
“Taylor, don’t say that to her!” Lorelai’s voice softened as she turned toward her daughter. “Hon, Daddy loves you, whether or not he goes to this dance with you, okay?”
Lorelai re-focused her attention on Taylor. “All right, it’s so obvious you’ve never had kids. Thank God,” she added under her breath.
“I’ll just… let that comment pass for now. Anyway, I’m going to leave you with that flyer and hopefully, Luke won’t let his daughter down.” Taylor headed back to his store, but not without first throwing, “Don’t forget about the ten percent off laundry detergent!” over his shoulder.
Lorelai shot one last angry glare at Taylor as he entered his store. Wow, she thought, Luke’s Taylor-hatred is really rubbing off on me. Lorelai turned her attention toward Amelia, who was staring at the yellow flyer in fascination. “So babe, do you want to go?” Amelia nodded, grinning. “Okay, here’s the plan. You go in there –“ Lorelai pointed to the diner – “and ask Daddy.” Amelia nodded. “Oh! You may want to include some pouting into the mix, you know, for effect. Now, what do we say when Daddy asks about the pout?”
“Rory taught it to me, not Mommy,” replied Amelia mechanically.
“Beautiful. Now, go on inside. I’ll be right here.”
“Well…” Lorelai replied, while trying to catch a glimpse of Luke through the diner window, “I think this is something you should ask Daddy alone.”
Lorelai sighed. “Because Daddy will blame Mommy for planting these tainted thoughts in your head. If Mommy’s not there, that will give Daddy time to cool down before he gets extra grumpy and takes away the coffee for a month.”
Amelia frowned. “What?”
“Nothing. Go on in.” She kissed Amelia on the cheek. “I’ll be right here.”
Lorelai watched as her daughter ran inside the diner, and smiled to herself. The thought of Luke going to a dance thrilled her to no end. “Let the mocking begin!” she enthused to a random pedestrian who gave her an apprehensive look before moving on.
She could hardly contain her giddiness.
Amelia skipped up to the counter and climbed onto a stool next to Kirk. He stared at his sandwich as Amelia stood up on her stool. She hunched over the counter, planting her palms on the surface for balance, as she looked for her father. He was nowhere in sight. Amelia plopped back down onto the stool and then turned toward Kirk. He still hadn’t noticed her presence and she frowned, tilting her head to the side as she studied the man. After a few moments, she poked him on the shoulder with her finger.
“Oww!” he cried, rubbing his shoulder as he turned around. “Oh, hello Amelia. How are you?”
“Have you seen my Daddy?”
“I think he’s in the kitchen.”
She grinned at Kirk before bellowing, “DADDY!”
After a moment, Luke rushed out of the kitchen, wiping his hands on his flannel shirt as he did so. “Amelia, what have I told you about yelling?”
“Sorry Daddy,” she said with a smirk that proved she was not very sorry at all.
“Okay, but next time…” Luke leaned across the counter and kissed her on the forehead. “How was your day?”
As she began to tell him the same stories she’d told Lorelai just minutes before, Luke poured her a cup of apple juice and refilled Kirk’s coffee, only partially listening to her incoherent monologue. “…And then… guess what?”
“Jake stuck a crayon up his nose?” replied Luke absently as he put on another pot of decaf coffee.
“Wow! Mommy guessed that, too,” Amelia informed him, awed.
Luke squeezed her hand. “I guess we’ve just spent too much time together. What else?”
“Oh yeah, and I got an award!”
“Wow, that’s great!” She handed it to him. “Most verbose,” he deadpanned.
“Mommy says she’s gotten that award, too,” she stated proudly.
Luke laughed heartily at that. “Well, you truly are your mother’s daughter.”
Kirk, who had been listening to the exchange with interest, finally cut in and said, “Congratulations, Amelia. You know, when I was in kindergarten, I won an award, too. It was for my sea-shell collection.” Neither Luke nor Amelia said anything, so he continued, “But then my brother, Alan, threw them out. Actually, he threw them at my head.” Kirk frowned. “One poked me in the eye. I had to spend the night in the emergency room.”
Kirk turned back to his food and Luke made the rounds, coffeepot in hand. However, he had the feeling he was being watched, and, when he returned to the counter, noticed Amelia staring at him. “What do you want?”
“I have a question.”
“I could tell.”
He sighed. “What, Amelia?”
“Here.” She handed him the bright yellow flyer that Taylor had given her. “It’s a dance!” she informed him happily.
“Stars Hollow’s First Annual Father-Daughter Formal Dance,” Luke read. “Jeez, it’s endorsed by Doose’s! Damn town, what isn’t sponsored by that nut job? Ten percent off already overpriced laundry detergent,” he growled, “some deal.”
“Can we go?”
“We’ll go to the next crazy, Taylor-invented event, I promise.”
“That’s not a reason!”
“I’m your father; I don’t need a reason.”
“But… I’ve never been to a dance before,” she replied feebly, her voice cracking.
“Amelia…” He paused, gaping. Was she pouting at him? “Where did you learn the pout?” he demanded.
“Uh…” she faulted. “Rory. Rory! Rory taught it to me.”
Luke glanced out the window and caught a glimpse of those familiar brunette curls. “Uh-huh. I’ll be right back.” He turned toward Kirk. “Keep an eye on her.”
“All right, but I should warn you that I charge five dollars an hour for my babysitting services!”
Luke ignored Kirk, jogging out of the diner, instead. The door shut behind him with a jingle and Luke looked up and down the sidewalk. He turned just in time to see a blurred outline of Lorelai’s figure, heading up the street. Why did she only move quickly when he didn’t want her to?
“Lorelai!” he called. She waved at him without turning around. Instead, he watched until she disappeared from view. “Damn,” he muttered. How was he ever going to survive in a house with two beautiful, persuasive, pouty girls, both of whom he loved more than anything else in the world? With a defeated sigh, he walked back into the diner. Amelia, who had been flicking pieces of napkin at Kirk as he scolded her fruitlessly, noticed her father and immediately began to pout again. Luke walked over to her, hands on his hips.
“You really wanna go to this dance?” She nodded, the pout on her features deepening as her lower lip protruded slightly. Luke sighed, covering his face with his hands for a moment. “All right, I’ll think about it.”
“Really? Yay!” she squealed, sliding off the stool unsteadily. Luke grabbed his daughter beneath the arms and lifted her, so that she was at eye-level with him. “Thank you, Daddy,” she cooed, kissing him on the nose.
“Yeah, yeah. I only said I’d think about it,” he responded gruffly, even though they both knew he had unwittingly agreed. He placed her down on the ground gently and handed her the rag that had previously been sitting on the countertop. “Now, why don’t you go wipe down some empty tables? Maybe it’ll persuade me to say yes.”
Luke groaned and leaned against the counter as he watched Amelia skip around his diner, eagerly wiping down the tabletops.
“Wow,” Kirk noted, “She’s got you wrapped around her little finger.”
“Shut up, Kirk.”
Although it didn’t happen much, Luke really hated when Kirk was right.