In the weeks following the wedding Rory fell into a finals induced hibernation, emerging only for occasional phone calls to her mother or Jess, all of which were short and distracted. Jess could have announced that they were selling Truncheon and starting a Bee Gee's cover band and all she would have said was, "That's great, Hon!"
It wasn't until she finished her last final that she finally crawled out of the apartment and learned what had been happening in the world around her- specifically, that her mother and Luke were seconds away from a very conscious uncoupling and the boys had gone ahead and bought the bar. She was only informed of the tension in her mother's relationship though, when Sookie called her late one night to say that Lorelai had shown up on their doorstep and was now sleeping on the couch.
"I don't know what's going on," Sookie admitted. "I just know that there's something wrong and I think it has to do with her and Luke."
"Okay, I'll call her," Rory promised. "Thanks for letting me know, Sookie. I've been kind of out of the loop since finals started."
"I figured, that's why I thought I should let you know."
"Thanks. Bye, Sookie!"
Rory hung up and called her mother, but was put straight through to her answering machine, much to her annoyance. She left a short message with instructions to call her immediately, then went back to packing up her stuff for her impending move back to Philly. When she hadn't heard back from her mom by the time she was heading to bed she called again, but got the machine and gave up for the night, planning to call as soon as she got up. Instead, however, Lorelai called her early the next morning, before she had even got out of bed.
"You're grounded!" Rory scolded.
"Sorry, Mom! Kimmy saw this guy at the mall who was a total Chachi, and he bought us a slurpee and we totally lost track of time," Lorelai apologized.
"I called you twice," Rory informed her. "I left messages. I called the national guard, who didn't answer because they're all in Baghdad."
"I just checked my messages."
"I won't be ignored, Dan!"
"I know," Lorelai laughed. "I'm hiding my rabbit as we speak."
"So what's the deal?"
"No deal," her mom lied. "I spent the night a Sookie's last night."
"We were talking and it got late, so I crashed on her couch and woke up covered in jam."
"Is everything okay?" Rory asked, her tone full of concern.
"Everything fine. How's everything with you? How was your last final?"
"I think it went good," Rory shrugged. "Now I'm just packing all my stuff up so I can head to Philly tonight. Which reminds me, I won't be at Friday Night Dinner."
"No! Why?" Lorelai demanded.
"I have more stuff than I could fit in my car and tonight is the only night in the next few weeks that Jess can drive up and help me get my stuff back home."
"Okay," Lorelai huffed. "But you should know that I'm adding this to the list of things you owe me for, right above labour and all the money I had to spend on diapers."
"That seems fair. I'll talk to you later?"
"Alright, bye kid!"
Rory hung up and sat up in bed, worrying about her mother more than she usually did. When Luke had agreed to let her help with April's birthday party they had all been convinced that it was the turning point, that Luke was finally going to let her into his new life. Unfortunately, they had been wrong. Since the party he had been even more distant than usual, using Anna as an excuse by claiming that she wasn't completely comfortable with Lorelai being a part of her daughter's life. This had obviously put way too much pressure on Lorelai, and Rory could tell that she was only minutes away from collapse or combustion. It was only a matter of time until somebody made the first move.
She desperately wanted to help, to make them see what they were doing to each other, but she knew it would be useless. Luke and her mom needed to figure this out for themselves, and no amount of pressure from her or Jess or Sookie or anyone else was going to make that happen. It had to be them.
So, with a sense of dread constantly hanging over their heads, they had to get on with their lives and just be ready to pick up the pieces when things finally came to the tipping point. Which was why Rory fought the urge to go home and yell at her mother and future step-father and instead made a pot of coffee and went back to packing up her belongings.
When Jess got to her apartment it took them less than an hour to get all her stuff packed into their cars, and after a quick good-bye to Paris and a promise to call her when they got in, they were on the road. As usual Rory lagged behind, making numerous stops along the way for coffee and food, so by the time she pulled up in front of Truncheon, Jess had already unloaded all the boxes from his car and was standing in the doorway waiting for her to arrive.
"One day, you're going to be able to make the drive here without stopping twelve times," he said as she got out of the car.
"No way," Rory shook her head. "It's impossible to make that drive without at least two coffee stops."
"I've never had a problem."
"Yes, but you're not a Gilmore," she explained. "My central nervous system comes to a grinding halt if it doesn't have a constant caffeine intake, you just get grumpy."
"You should really get that looked at. What's going to happen when a freak accident occurs and you're forced to go more than two hours without coffee?"
"Death. Slow and painful death. And I'm taking you down with me."
"Good to know," Jess laughed and popped the trunk of her car. "Can you go get Chris to come give me a hand?"
"On it," Rory nodded.
She ran inside and sent Chris and Matt out to start some sort of assembly line, then went upstairs to start organizing things. She was shocked to find, however, that Jess had beat her to it.
"Wow," she nodded approvingly when he came up and explained the system. "And here I thought I was going to have to spend the next week sifting through every box in every room to find my underwear."
"Hey, I may look like a slob, but I do have a system," Jess defended himself. "And that system does not include my girlfriend chucking everything she owns around our apartment until she finds what she's looking for. Because if that happened, we would never clean up and we'd spend the rest of our lives living in something that resembled the aftermath of a natural disaster before celebrities get involved."
"Somebody's touchy," Rory observed.
"I just like things to be in their place."
"Ha!" Rory patted his arm. "That's so cute that you forget that I've been living here on and off for close to a year. You're more disorganized than my mom!"
"That is not true! I organize my t-shirts by band and genre, and are you seeing the boxes?" Jess argued. "Maybe I'm turning over a new leaf!"
"Sure you are, babe." Rory kissed his cheek and headed for the bedroom to start unpacking her clothes.
It didn't take long for them to realize, however, that they didn't really have enough room for all her stuff- especially the books.
"Okay," Rory took a breath and observed the chaos that surrounded her. "I have an idea."
"Fantastic," Jess dropped the pile of books he had been trying to fit on the shelf and looked up at her.
"Most of these are duplicates," she explained. "So why don't we just leave them in their boxes, and I'll take them back to Stars Hollow until school starts again."
"You're willing to part with your books?" Jess asked, watching her with awe.
"Well, I have your books to keep me company," she reasoned.
"I can take some of my clothes back there too," Rory added. "The ones that I won't be using until I go back to school and the ones that I wear to Friday Night Dinners. I only really need one or two outfits for that."
"Since when?" Jess scoffed.
"Since I've started taking great joy in driving my grandmother nuts," Rory smiled. "You wouldn't believe how much fun it can be."
"Oh, I think I would."
"So it's settled. The books stay where they are, and tomorrow I'll take them back to their house."
"Tomorrow?" Jess raised an eyebrow and pulled her over to sit in his lap.
"Maybe the next day," she smirked.
In Stars Hollow...
Lorelai was determined. She had spent the last hour sitting in the back of a car, talking to a therapist about her entire life and she had finally made a decision. She was tired of waiting for Luke to let her in, waiting for him to be ready. It was now or never. She had reached the tipping point and she was ready to take action.
She marched across the town square, her jaw set and her mind racing as she tried to figure out exactly what she wanted to say. A few people waved at her or stopped to chat, but she flew past them, focused on nothing but the diner.
"Where have you been?!" Luke demanded when she entered the building.
"It doesn't matter."
"What do you mean it doesn't matter? I've been looking everywhere! I tried your cell, I went to your house and found Miss Patty, who said you were with Sookie, so I tried there-"
"Let's elope," she interrupted his rant.
"What?" Luke stared at her, shocked.
"Come on, Luke. Grab your keys and let's go!"
"You said that would be fine at Martha's Vineyard," Lorelai reasoned. "Didn't you say that would be fine?"
"Yes, I did. I'm just-"
"Come on then!" she pushed. "We can drive to Maryland. What the hell, right? I mean, you have to see Maryland eventually. We can drive there, get married and then come back here. And you'll get your stuff and you'll move in."
"Okay, hold on." Luke tried to slow her down, but she was on a mission.
"I mean, we have the plan already. We just have to put the plan in motion."
"Let's calm down," Luke tried again, glaring at all the people watching them. "We don't have to figure this all out right now, do we?"
"Yes, we do," Lorelai cried. "Because we've been waiting and putting it off and I don't want to put it off anymore."
"But right now?" Luke demanded.
"Yes! Now is the right time. It's the best time, because it's now!"
"Come on," Luke opened that door and led her outside to get some privacy.
"Your car or mine?" Lorelai pushed.
"Lorelai, let's just talk this through," he tried once more to get her to slow down.
"No, I don't want to talk! All we've done for months is talk. I want to do. I want to go!"
"We can't just take off and get married," Luke argued.
"Why not? Don't you love me!?"
"Of course I love you!" he cried, hurt that she would even ask that. "You know I do."
"But I love you. Luke, I love you!" Lorelai cried, close to tears. "But I have waited, and I have stayed away and I have let you run things, and no more! I asked you to marry me and you said yes!"
"I'm just trying to think here," Luke cried, wishing she would stop talking for just one second so he could get his bearings.
"We fixed up the house, right?" She continued. "We have a bigger closet, and I didn't get the purple wallpaper because you didn't like the purple wallpaper. And if it's between you and the purple wallpaper, I pick you!"
"I didn't tell you not to get the purple wallpaper," Luke argued.
"Oh my God!" Lorelai threw her hands in the air. "You didn't like it!"
"I don't care about purple wallpaper!"
"Do you care about me?!"
"Yes!" Luke assured her.
"Because I'm going crazy here," she almost sobbed. "I made a commitment to you, and I need to make it happen."
"It will happen," Luke promised. "I just have April to consider."
"But once we're married, everything will be fine," Lorelai argued. "Anna said so."
"When did you talk to Anna?" Luke asked.
"After the birthday party, I went to her store again."
"You weren't supposed to talk to Anna," Luke said.
"I know. I'm sor-" Lorelai started to apologize, then stopped herself. "God, no! I'm not going to defend myself! For months I've been skulking around not saying anything, not having an opinion, like I'm Clarence Thomas or something, and I... I'm done with that! I've been waiting for a long time and I don't want to wait anymore!"
"I have to think this through!" Luke huffed.
"I have April!"
"You're gonna have to figure out how April fits into our lives!" Lorelai yelled. "Not the other way around."
"Just wait!" Luke begged.
"No!" She screamed. "I'm not waiting! It's now or never!"
"I don't like ultimatums!"
"I don't like Mondays, but unfortunately they come around eventually!" Lorelai argued.
"I can't just jump like this!" Luke cried. "I need a minute to think."
"I don't have a minute! Luke, it's now or never. I need you to decide," she let out a deep breath. "Because I can't do this anymore. It's killing me, and I just... I can't."
She stared at the ground, feeling the tears she had been holding back begin to fall and watching them hit the pavement.
Luke stared at the woman in front of him, frantically trying to piece together what she was saying, his brain spinning at a mile a minute as he took in her words, her face, her tears.
There was a moment of quiet, and just as Lorelai was about to give up and walk away, he spoke.
"What?" She looked up in surprise.
"Okay," he repeated. "Let's elope. Let's get married. Let's go."
"Really," Luke smiled nervously. "I don't want to lose you. If it's now or never, I choose now. I can't imagine my life without you, I waited for you for years, I'm not about to throw it all away."
Lorelai stood frozen for a moment, trying to contemplate what he was saying. Yes, she had stormed into the diner with an ultimatum, but she had sincerely expected him to let her walk away. Instead, he was finally jumping.
"Lorelai?" He asked, trying to read her face.
She smiled and hurled herself at him, throwing her arms around his neck and kissing him.
"Let's get married!"
"Let's get married," he laughed. "Go home, pack. I'll close up the diner and pick you up soon."
"Okay," Lorelai beamed. "I'll see you soon."
"See you soon," Luke agreed.
He turned and headed back to the diner, and after a minute of watching him go, Lorelai jumped into action and started running towards her house.
She was getting married.
A/N: Hi Everyone! Thanks so much for reading this story, I'm so appreciative of all your comments and favourites! So obviously I took a complete and total turn with this story, and I know this is a bit of cliffhanger, but fear not! I've already started working on the next story in this series (I think there will be three in total, but I'll keep you posted) It's called When You Open Your Eyes and I'll be putting up the first chapter within a day or two. I hope you've all enjoyed this story, and that you'll keep reading the next one.