Pairing: Luke/Lorelai (Rory/Logan subplot)
Rating: PG-13, possible R for later chapters.
A/N: Boo, this chapter sucks. The next one's gonna be better, but I need this one to get to that point...
After spending the bulk of the morning planning the next D.A.R. function, Emily is relieved to find a moment of peace. She sits down carefully on the couch, crosses her legs, and opens her book to the marked page. Just as she leans forward to grasp the coffee cup that the maid has left for her on the coffee table, she hears the doorbell ring. Sighing in defeat, Emily places the book on the table in front of her, but still manages to sip her coffee as she waits for the unexpected guest to be ushered into the living room.
She certainly had not expected Lorelai to walk into the room.
Emily hastily covers her shock with a suspicious frown, standing without straying from the couch. For a moment, nothing happens; Lorelai also seems rooted to her spot in the foyer.
“You can come in, you know,” Emily finally manages, placing her coffee cup down carefully before settling her hands on her hips. She watches as Lorelai ignores her previous statement and scans the room thoroughly without moving an inch. “She’s at work with your father,” Emily states suddenly, startling Lorelai.
“Oh,” is all she can manage.
“She’s working as his secretary for a few weeks. Margie’s on vacation now.”
Emily represses a disbelieving snort. Her daughter is so easy to read sometimes. It’s obvious she disapproves of Rory’s choice of jobs. Emily purposely ignores the fact that she’s not sure where she stands on the matter, herself. On the one hand, it is good that Rory is working, instead of wasting her time away; yet, similarly, perhaps this secretarial work in Richard’s business is just as much of a time-waster. It isn’t what Rory is meant to do with her life – Emily has accepted it, Lorelai certainly knows it, and even Richard is aware of this fact, although he seems to be doing quite well at ignoring it. He likes having Rory at work with him. In fact, he even comes home smiling, for crying out loud! Emily cannot remember the last time Richard has smiled about something work related, bar, of course, the often sarcastic grin accompanying a particularly successful business deal.
“So, did you drop by just to stand here and stare at me, or do you actually have a reason for being here?”
Emily notices a flash of pain in her daughter’s eyes and immediately regrets her cold tone. However, she cannot quite bring herself to retract her statement, and instead meets Lorelai’s now determined gaze.
“I was just… passing by, and I thought I’d let you know that I’ve decided to go to Rory’s trial.”
“Good.” She states simply. “Would you like some coffee?”
“No thank you. So… when is it?”
Emily sits down on one of the armchairs and folds her hands on her lap. She waits for Lorelai to do the same, but Lorelai still remains fixed to her spot. “You know, when you drop by one’s home unexpectedly and turn down an offer for coffee, you come off as rude, Lorelai…”
Lorelai mumbles unintelligibly under her breath and finally joins her mother in the living room, flopping down on the couch and flinging her purse aside. “Fine, I’ll have some coffee.”
“Lovely. Abigail,” Emily calls, and, after a moment, a frazzled maid appears in the doorway. “Please bring my daughter a cup of coffee.”
Lorelai and Emily sit in silence as they wait for the coffee. Emily watches her daughter expectantly, but Lorelai is determined to look at anything, aside from her mother’s face.
“So, you were just passing by, you say?”
“Yeah,” Lorelai replies as she fidgets with her purse. “I was in the neighborhood, you know.”
“Huh. So, your dropping by has nothing to do with seeing Rory.”
Lorelai pauses for a moment, a fatal action. “No.”
“What?” she asks, quickly implementing her shield. “You don’t believe me?”
“Well, it just seems odd that you dropped by, especially considering the fact that you seem to be angry with your father and me. Usually, when you’re in one of your moods, you stay as far away as possible from this place.”
“I do that even when I’m not angry,” she mutters.
“Yes, I suppose you do.”
Abigail brings the coffee out and hands it to Lorelai before quickly retreating from the room. Lorelai takes a grateful sip and unsuccessfully hides her grimace as the hot liquid burns her tongue. Emily shakes her head and takes a sip of her own, now cool, coffee.
“Look, I came here to find out the date of Rory’s trial. Now, you said the deal was that, if I decided I wanted to go, you’d tell me the date.”
“What do you think of the coffee?” Emily asks, ignoring her daughter’s question. “It’s hazelnut. Personally, I prefer plain coffee to these strange flavors, but your father received a tacky gift basket with more flavors of coffee than I even knew existed. Perhaps, you’d like some? Rory really likes them, and, considering your coffee addiction, it seems right up your ally.”
She sighs. “No thank you, Mother. Will you please just –“
“Oh, that’s right! Silly me,” she says with a shake of her head. “Luke makes your coffee, doesn’t he?”
“Mom…” Lorelai says warningly.
“What? It’s an innocent question.”
“Nothing is innocent with you.”
“I was just trying to find a way to introduce the topic of Luke to our discussion.”
“There is no discussion here, Mom! I just need to know the date of Rory’s trial, that’s all!”
“Why? So you can leave again?”
“Well, I don’t live here.”
“No, you don’t. But if you leave, you won’t come back for a long time.”
Lorelai shrugs. “You don’t give me reason to.”
“No!” Emily yells, jumping to her feet. “You’re just always looking for a reason to get away from here, aren’t you?”
“Rory isn’t even enough to keep you here anymore!” She pauses and takes a deep breath. “What do you want from me, Lorelai? Would you like an apology? Because, honestly, I don’t know what happened with Rory or why she decided, all of the sudden, that she didn’t want to be a journalist anymore… I just did what I thought was right for her.”
“What about what was right for me?”
“What’s right for Rory is right for you.”
“Then maybe this isn’t right for Rory,” she shoots back angrily. “All I want from you is the god damn date of Rory’s trial, okay? That’s all!”
Emily sits down again and takes a deep, calming breath. “It’s tomorrow.”
Lorelai pales. “Tomorrow?”
“Yes, tomorrow. If you hadn’t waited so long to make up your mind, I would’ve given you more notice…”
“Tomorrow,” she repeats. “That’s fine. I’ll see you there, I guess.”
“I guess you will. Be sure to wear something appropriate. Your attire will have an effect on the decision, you know. Nothing with sparkles,” she adds darkly.
Lorelai gathers her belongings and rises, ignoring her mother’s advice. “Thanks for the coffee,” she says flatly.
Emily watches as Lorelai heads for the door, frozen in her place. After a moment, her tense body thaws and she rises, catching up with Lorelai just as she’s about to open the front door. Lorelai stops and turns around, glaring harshly at her mother. “What?”
She stares at her daughter, watches as the anger and hurt intensify with each labored breath, and has to fight to keep herself from trembling. There’s so much she wishes to say, to ask, to share with her estranged daughter. She wants to admit that she’s worried about Rory, that she’s clueless as to how to make the girl see her potential. But, more than anything else, she wants to beg her daughter not to leave, because, for the first time since Lorelai approached them, asking for a loan for Rory’s schooling, Emily isn’t sure her daughter will ever return.
Instead, in an even voice, she promises, “Rory will be fine. I’ll make sure of it.”
Lorelai furrows her brow, watching her mother suspiciously, before finally nodding. With that, she walks out the door, leaving a gust of hot summer air in her wake.
As Rory makes her way to the pool house, her cell phone begins to ring. She sighs and opens the door, not in the mood to talk to anyone right now. Her mind has been racing all day, and no matter how much she struggles to gain control, she cannot help but fret over her impending trial. The entire situation – the theft and now the trial – is a huge inconsistency in Rory’s life, a patch of black against an otherwise colorful quilt of existence. Of course, since it is a pattern she’s trying to break free of, maybe the trial is a good thing, a dark, albeit different start to a new life.
Feeling no more confident, but wonderfully justified, nonetheless, Rory answers her cell phone just before it transfers to her voicemail.
“Logan,” she says with a smile. “What’s up?”
“Oh, not much. I was just standing in front of my closet trying to decide what to wear for our date tomorrow, and I thought I’d call you.”
“Our date?” Rory laughs. “Hardly romantic.”
“Ah, well… we all have to make sacrifices. So, how’s the insurance biz going?”
“Oh, it’s booming.”
“You’re just lucky people are stupid.”
“Well, we did steal a boat,” he agrees.
“I think we’re supposed to show remorse for our actions tomorrow…”
“Yeah, sad, very sad. A prissy old rich guy didn’t have his Yacht for a whole two hours. What a shame that must be,” says Logan sarcastically.
“Right,” Rory replies, forcing back her immediate desire to ask just how Logan was different from said prissy old rich guy. He’s Logan, she reminds herself. He’s sweet and just… different.
Momentarily lost in her thoughts, she hadn’t realized that Logan had said something until after the fact, as he waited for her to respond. “What?” she asks dumbly.
“I said: are you nervous?”
“No,” Rory lies easily. “Are you?”
“Nah. Between my dad and your grandfather? We’ve got this thing in the bag.”
“Good,” she replies, not truly meaning it. In fact, she starts to feel vaguely ill at the prospect of getting off with just a slap on the wrist. She stole; she should be reprimanded. She remembers when she was younger and turned in a copy of The Iliad late to the library. She had punished herself for a week, despite the fact that she paid the ten-cent fine. Could she do that in this case; punish herself to feel better? I don’t think it works that way, she scolds inwardly.
“So, what do you think? Gray or black?”
“Oh, uh… I don’t know.”
“You’re a girl; aren’t you supposed to know these things?” Rory frowns. “Just kidding,” he adds hastily. “That was a joke.”
“Uh-huh,” she replies flatly. She’s about to defend herself further, arguing that, although she does like shopping and has a fairly good clothing sense, her life does not, by any means, revolve around it. Besides, she’s never dressed a man before. However, before she can formulate her argument into words, a knock on the glass door of the pool house startles her. “Hey, Logan, I gotta go; my grandmother’s here. See you tomorrow, don’t be late!”
“What’s tomorrow again?”
“Bye Logan,” she responds forcefully before flipping her phone closed. She heads toward the door and pulls it open for her grandmother, who immediately flashes Rory a smile and heads inside.
“So, I was thinking…” Emily begins upon entering. “How would you like to go shopping?”
“Oh, Grandma, that’d be great, but… I don’t know…”
“Nonsense! What are you wearing tomorrow?”
Rory shrugs. “I don’t know, I thought maybe a black skirt and –“
Emily frowns as she studies Rory for a few moments. “You know what you need? A suit!”
“A suit?” Rory replies dubiously. “Well, I have one somewhere… I wore it for my first day of my, uh… internship.”
The last word is harder to say than Rory thought it would be and Emily eyes her questioningly for a few moments before shaking her head. “You need a new suit, Rory. After all, your appearance is a big factor in the decision.”
“It is?” Rory squeaks, suddenly more anxious than before.
“Don’t worry, you’ll knock them away in there! Now come on, let’s head out before dinner, shall we?”
Rory stares blankly at Emily for a few moments before shrugging, remembering the ever-present tenseness between her grandmother and mother, and, therefore, knowing just how far her grandmother’s stubbornness can stretch. “Okay.”
“Lovely!” she enthuses, grabbing Rory by the hand and practically dragging her out the door. “Come along.”
This ought to be interesting, Rory thinks, picturing just how horrified her mother would be, if she knew about this.
The thought makes her smile.
Emily and Rory make their way to the dressing area, followed by two saleswomen who both hang their armful of clothing on a rack before leaving. Rory sits down looking meek among the throngs of expensive furniture and clothing. Emily, on the other hand, begins to sift through the clothes with ease, finally pulling out a cream colored suit from the pack.
“Stand up,” she demands, and Rory does so with a frown on her face. “In front of the mirror.” Rory does as she’s told and Emily comes up from behind, reaching her hands around so that the suit dangles in front of Rory’s body. “Mmm, no. It’s too light; blends in with your skin.”
“Yeah, that, uh, happens a lot,” Rory says apologetically.
“Well, that’s all right. We’ve got every color imaginable with us.”
Emily begins to rifle through the rack of suits again and Rory turns toward her, biting her lip as she stares. “Grandma, I really appreciate this, but I can’t buy a new suit.”
“Well, I can’t afford it.”
“Nonsense, I’ll –“
“No, Grandma. You’ve done so much for me already. You always have,” she adds quietly, almost shamefully, remembering how they’ve already paid for schooling and a car for Rory.
“This isn’t about that. I want to do this for you, for my granddaughter. Something your mother would never let me do,” she adds under her breath.
“I’m not taking no for an answer, young lady.”
She pauses and searches Emily’s eyes. “Okay,” she finally concedes. “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome. Now, face the mirror again.”
After choosing an array of suits from the rack, Emily nudges Rory toward the dressing room stall. “I’ll be right out here,” she calls to Rory. “When you’re finished trying on an outfit, come out here and show me, no matter how ridiculous you think it looks, okay?”
Emily wanders back over to the rack of suits and sifts through them absently. She listens as Rory rustles around inside of the cubicle and, after a moment’s hesitation, she moves closer to the dressing room’s door. “Rory?”
“I, uh, spoke to your mother today.”
There is a sudden pause in the rustling. “Oh.”
“She came over,” Emily continues. “She wanted to see you. Well, she didn’t come outright and say that, but I know she did. I could tell.”
“Oh. Shame I missed her.” She isn’t sure whether she believes her statement or not.
“She says she’s going to your trial tomorrow.”
“Good.” So she can find even more reason to be ashamed of me.
Without warning, Rory opens the dressing room door with more force than intended. She then stands in front of her grandmother in the plumb-colored suit and allows Emily to study her for a minute. Her eyes narrow and her brow furrows as she grabs hold of the suit jacket and pulls it down slightly. “No,” she finally decides. “It doesn’t lay right and the color doesn’t really do anything for you. Try the dark blue next, okay?”
After Rory goes back into the dressing room and the rustling begins again, Emily fidgets with her purse as she, once again, approaches the dressing room door. She opens her mouth to say something, but closes her mouth quickly, losing her nerve. Deciding on another tactic, Emily attempts, “Rory?”
“What do you think of your grandfather’s business?”
“Uh… it’s great,” she answers, confusion obvious in her tone. “Why?”
“Well, I was just… the thing is… I’m afraid your grandfather might push it on you a bit more than he probably should.”
“No,” she declares, “it’s not. You’re trying to find yourself now, aren’t you?”
“Yes, but –“
“Then you have to find yourself… alone. You need support, of course, but, ultimately, it must be your decision. If your grandfather guilts you into it, it’s not your own decision.”
Rory opens the dressing room door and faces her grandmother. “I’ll be okay.”
Emily nods, not trusting her voice, and not quite believing Rory’s promise, either. But what could she do, aside from telling Rory the truth about her own life, which is something she doesn’t want to do. It’s in the past, she convinces herself. This is a completely different situation. Instead, Emily takes a long look at Rory and then smiles broadly. “We have ourselves a winner.”
“Dark blue it is,” Rory replies, matching her grandmother’s smile for the first time since she came to live with them.
Lorelai kicks her shoes off as soon as she enters her house, ignorant as to where they end up. In her stocking feet, she drags herself to the kitchen and immediately starts the coffee maker. Normally, she would head to Luke’s at this time, but, between the mystery of the missing bed sheets and the whiney Douglass guests at the inn, and then, worst of all, the short, albeit painful visit with her mother, she is just far too exhausted to do so. So, once her coffee finishes, she heads upstairs with the steaming mug firmly planted in her hand. She takes a few sips as she surveys the mess that is her closet, wondering just what was appropriate attire for the mother of the defendant. She places her coffee down on the dresser and then heads over to the closet, sifting through her endless supply of clothing. She pauses contemplatively at a rhinestone diva shirt and then pushes it aside just as quickly, knowing that, although it would successfully push her mother toward new heights of shame, it just isn’t appropriate. She is doing this for Rory, after all, and, even if the two of them are not on speaking terms, they’re still mother and daughter. She finally settles on a black pants suit and tugs it off the hanger, before throwing over the armchair. She then strips, tossing her dirty clothes in a heap on the floor, too tired to care that the skirt will wrinkle, and throws on an old Bangles tee-shirt and a pair of shorts before heading back over to her dresser to pick up her coffee cup.
However, when she gets there, she immediately becomes distracted when she notices the black velvet box sitting, untouched, beside her jewelry box. A half-smile crosses her features as she lifts the box and opens it. The engagement ring is so beautiful, and she momentarily wonders how it is that Luke was able to pick out such a stunning ring. After all, he’s never shown any sort of fashion sense before - especially considering his daily dose of flannel and the fact that the only jewelry he had given her before had been made and selected by his sister. She makes a mental note to tease him about this one day, in the future, when their engagement isn’t a secret; when it isn’t somewhat of a silent, although obvious sore spot between the couple.
But she hasn’t actually worn the ring yet. She wants to – she really, really wants to put it on, even just for a moment. And really, she convinces herself, she should try it on. After all, what if it doesn’t fit? It would be tragic if, when they actually do want the world to know about their engagement, it didn’t fit and then they’d have to worry about re-fitting the ring. What’s an engagement announcement without a ring to show off? Satisfied with this argument, Lorelai slips the ring onto her finger. It fits. She grins and looks down at her hand, mesmerized by the way the diamond glimmers beneath the lights. She imagines the way the proposal should have gone – how, if it wasn’t this huge secret, Luke would have kissed her hand before slipping the ring on, and then entwined their fingers. The two would have looked down at their joined hands and grinned, before looking up at each other and simultaneously leaning forward for a sweet kiss. And then she imagines the way the kiss would have heated up and how Luke would have dragged his lips from hers, flushed and panting, in order to lead her to his bed, his tender eyes never leaving hers.
Lorelai becomes so tied up in this daydream that she doesn’t even hear the footsteps, doesn’t realize that there’s anyone else in her bedroom until she hears a masculine cough. She jumps, immediately facing Luke with shock-filled eyes. She lifts a hand to her chest, panting, and glares reproachfully as he approaches. He grins at her, but then pauses, mid-step, when he notices the ring on her finger. She follows his eyes and, after a moment, blushes profusely.
“I, uh… was just… trying it on,” she states lamely.
Luke nods, the playful glint returning to his eyes. He finally reaches her, taking her hand in his and studying it. “Looks good.”
“Well, my fiancé has good taste.”
Luke’s other hand drifts over to hers and he gently brushes a finger over the ring, and then around the ring, brushing delicately against her skin. She shivers and bites her lip before smiling up at him and leaning in for a soft kiss. When they break apart, Luke drops her hand and gives her a serious look instead.
“You should take off the ring.”
She nods, disappointed, and immediately feels silly for being disappointed, in the first place. After all, it was her original idea not to wear it. So, she slips the ring off her finger and carefully replaces it in its box before heading over to her bed and lying down. She reaches out for Luke and, after a moment, he undoes his flannel, kicks off his shoes and jeans, and joins her.
“So… to what do I owe this surprise visit?”
“Well, you didn’t show up to the diner, so I figured I’d come over and… I don’t know…”
“Say hi?” she asks with a grin.
“Yeah. Say hi.”
She turns on her side and faces Luke, who is still lying on his back. “Well, hi,” she whispers, kissing his cheek.
“Hi,” he replies in his usual rough manner. Yet, his hands suggest a completely different tone as they find their way under her shirt and brush against the soft skin of her stomach.
She sighs and leans in closer to him to lay her head on his chest. “I’m really tired,” she admits. Luke stops moving his fingers. “No, don’t stop. Feels good,” she says sleepily.
Luke continues his exploration of her skin as Lorelai shuts her eyes and begins to drift off. After a minute, however, Luke’s hands still and he whispers her name in her ear.
“Did you talk to your mom?”
“Yeah,” she replies groggily. “Went over.”
“You went over?” he asks loudly. “You never said you were going to…”
“I know, but –“ she attempts to shrug her shoulders, but it doesn’t quite work in her position on the bed – “I hate talking to my mom over the phone. It’s easier to hold my own against her in person. It just kind of happened.” It wasn’t because she wanted to see Rory, as her mother suggested. Really, that was the last thing on her mind. Well, not the last, but it wasn’t the reason. Her mother wasn’t right, despite the fact that she was so damn sure of herself the entire time. “I don’t even know if I’m gonna go. Haven’t decided yet. Told Emily I was though, so that she’d actually give me the new date. You’d think I’d know all her tricks by now,” Lorelai adds under her breath.
“Oh. So, when is it?”
“Tomorrow?” Luke demands. “Was she planning on ever telling you?”
“Luke, please,” she states, opening her eyes. “It’s my mother.”
“Right.” He pauses. “You want me to come with?”
“Nah, I’ll be okay, if I go. Just… need sleep…”
Luke nods. “Right.” He places a quick kiss on Lorelai’s forehead before reaching over to turn out the light on her nightstand. "Goodnight," he whispers, but she's already asleep.