Missing Pieces. LL. Spoilers. Rated: PG. Disclaimer: I do not own these characters. Thank you to Rostov for sharing ideas. ********************************* ********************************* *********************************

She had to hand it to her mother. And, God, how she hated handing anything to her mother. But Emily had predicted in the beginning that it would all come to no good, and damn if she wasn't right.

So she'd gone to Hartford, rung the bell at her childhood home (a requirement outsiders found odd,) and asked to speak to her father.

Oh baby, she could confront like the best of the Gilmores when she had a good head of steam behind her. Problem was she wasn't Gilmore enough to be dis-passionate about it, to not feel hurt in these confrontational scenarios. Truth was, she was pretty soft underneath it all (where it mattered,) and therefore tried to avoid these scenes at all costs, including subterfuge. Hence, the news about she and Jason being quite the bomb.

Her Mother had actually been laughing at some of her jokes earlier that evening, too (when the women sat and waited for the men.) And then, after the soap opera-esque nightmare of a scene, the 'big reveal', Emily had essentially asked her to leave.

Lorelai sighed at this. Why couldn't she just be an adult for once? she wondered about herself for the millionth time.

And so she'd come to yell at her father about Jason, about leaving him to swing in the wind and then setting the dogs on him, too.

Her father, however, had the Gilmore dispassion and took in what she spat at him as if it were the most normal thing in the world.

"I have to protect my livelihood, and my family, and I must work. Without work a man is incomplete," he said blandly, and Lorelai could have sworn he'd shrugged, "Besides, Jason has brought a counter suit against Floyd and me. It could be quite damaging to the company."

She had no idea how to respond to this news.

"Jason what?" she asked stupidly.

"I think I've made the situation clear, Lorelai," said Richard wearily, "I think it best you be on your way now."

Her mind racing, she turned to leave then only to find her mother standing in the doorway of the office as if waiting for her. They walked silently to the front door together and paused, looking at each other.

"Mom... I'm sorry..." There. She'd said it.

"I know you are, Lorelai," Emily nodded absently.

"O-okay..." Lorelai said, wondering where the lecture had gone.

Emily looked up at her daughter, "The things you said in there, about Jason, about this mess, about your father..."

"Yes?"

"You were right." said Emily.

"I was?" Lorelai can't quite grasp this from her mother, "Are you sure?"

"Yes," Emily paused here, then lifted her chin, "I also need to tell you that your father and I are separating. I cannot continue to live with someone who can allow a family to be torn apart with such ease."

Lorelai felt her stomach drop.

"What?... Mom... Not because Jason and I were dating?..."

"No, Lorelai, although I'm not happy you kept that secret from us. Your father has taken a kind of glee in this business with the Stiles', which is something I can't abide. And, more importantly, he broke his promise to me."

"What promise, Mom?" Lorelai is feeling a kind of panic arise.

"That this would be our time in life to be together. Instead he started a new business, which I supported by the way, and now he's going back to Floyd—a place he never claimed to be happy in the first place. He'll be working harder than ever now. I don't know if I want to live that way any more. In fact," she lifted her chin even higher, "I'm done with that, I think. Your father has not been honest with me, in many respects, Lorelai."

"Oh Mom, don't you think you can work this out? Just talk to him..."

"I'll call you soon, Lorelai, when I have arranged my plans," and Emily opened the door for her daughter.

Lorelai knew the dismissal when she felt it hitting her in the rear.

********************* ********************* *********************

She closed the door.

But what no one knew about Emily Gilmore was that she was a bit of a snoop, though she preferred to think of it as being observant. And so she indulged in a well-worn habit and quietly hooked a well-manicured finger around the edge of one of the side-light sheers to watch her daughter leaving in the mid-morning light.

She saw Lorelai walk away slowly, head down, to that awful sports thing she drove (did it even have air-bags?) She always hated watching her girls leave, but it seemed that was often the only role allotted her. So she'd frequently watched Lorelai and Rory out there in the dark of a Friday evening. If they had come separately they would talk and laugh and hug together before going their own ways. Emily liked these evenings best because she could see their connection, how they fit together. When they came together, they left quickly, sometimes their arms around one another. Off to that diner, she supposed.

She wondered then, again, about the 'what might have been': If Lorelai hadn't gotten pregnant, would they have ever reached that kind of relationship? That kind of fitting together?

No point in pondering it now, she knew. That was pointless. She and Lorelai had always rubbed against each other, whereas she and Richard had been then team. But now that was broken too.

Emily watched as Lorelai pulled out of the drive, then turned to go upstairs and pack.

****************** ****************** ******************

As Lorelai drove home, she felt her grip on the steering wheel intensify as a fresh head of steam began building. So, she pulled over and called Jason on her cell.

And that was it: The end of them.

She would meet him at the café he liked and just say what needed to be said. No drama. No scene. Yes, she was angry with him; he'd promised her he would work it out with their fathers, after all. But, above all, she could not be in this place: The 'us against them place'. (She was not the dispassionate one, she was soft and it could only be personal for her.)

And she had come too far with her parents now—pissed as she was with her Dad; Shattered and perplexed as she was with her mother, she was ashamed of herself, too. (For letting it happen. For having a teenage-rebellion- boyfriend when she was knocking on forty already.) But they were her parents, they were Rory's grandparents. They just 'were', and that was enough that she knew she must make a choice.

She sighed in disgust at herself as she pulled back on the road and headed to the café to meet Jason, there was just time before she needed to be back at the Dragonfly.

Completing the package was looking bleaker by the hour.

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She couldn't believe that she'd never noticed just how blue his eyes were before.

That's because Mama Kim would never have let you be this close to him before, she noted with a scoff. Or any man for that matter. Except the very old, smelly ones at church who needed regular deliveries of 'Meals on Wheels', and thoughtful well–brought up Christian girls to fetch them economy-sized Fiber additives from Dooses.(to be purchased publicly with coupons, she shuddered.)

She was glad to be here instead. The meatloaf baking in the back smelled good. The butterscotch pudding was setting up behind the frosted glass. She well-understood why the Gilmores practically lived here.

She continued swiping vigorously at the menus with her cloth as she watched Luke sort through receipts down at the end of the counter, they were both filling time during the lull.

She knew he was angry, and more than usually silent, about the divorce thing. She couldn't imagine why anyone would do that to him (he hadn't told her about it, of course—she'd heard it around. But she and Luke didn't need words with one another. She could tell what he was feeling.)

Then she tried, as she occasionally did during quiet moments, to remember her father (And felt the inevitable sadness when she couldn't.)

She reminded herself sternly 'how it was': Her father had come to this country when she was two and had worked for three years to earn enough to bring she and her mother over. When they finally had arrived, terrifyingly unable to speak the language, he disappeared after a year of intense unhappiness. Once Lane had tried to ask about him, but Mama Kim simply said he was gone and that they must live without him and walk in God's light. She thought she could remember a man in a blue shirt though.

Still, him being gone, for whatever reason, meant that something else was missing from her life. Something everyone else seemed to have, like TV or potato chips. Only more important.

She saw Jeff came in then with the mail for Luke. Then, as he began to flip through the packages and envelopes, she watched his head raise at the sight of a familiar yellow jeep rounding the square. A light flickered in his eyes for a moment and then faded away when the jeep did not stop.

Luke scooped his mail up, "Lane, I'm going upstairs for awhile. Be sure to get something to eat before the lunch rush starts."

Lane looked at the defeated slump in Luke's shoulder as he left to climb the stairs.

Maybe she was naive and inexperienced, but she wasn't stupid. She was too young to be wishing him for herself (she knew that—She wasn't Paris!) and she had been trying stubbornly to shake her feelings away (and his goodness made that difficult, and those eyes were so blue.) But she wasn't selfish: She wished happiness for Luke. And she knew what that meant, or rather whom. Everyone did. But it just never clicked into place like it should.

And for a horrible moment Lane wondered just how many people in the world this happened to.... How many perfect fits were missed for all the silly reasons people pushed each other away. Lovers. Mothers. Daughters. Fathers. Friends...

And that made her think about Rory and how much she missed her. And did she know just how stupid her mother was being? How could anyone not see Luke? Or not want him? He was everything that most people lacked.

****************** ****************** ******************

This was one crappy mail day. Probably the crappiest mail day in history. He looked down at the pile fanned out in front of him on the table. Yep, crap.

Before him lay his final divorce decree, the invitation to Liz' wedding (renaissance-themed, he groaned inwardly), and the self-help tape he'd ordered after four beers at three o'clock in the morning after he'd come home from jail and beating up a car (there'd only been home shopping on TV.)

There it was: 'My life is crap' represented by the daily mail.

He picked up the self-help brochure and read the title: 'Putting Your Life Back Together–Love, Finance and Personal Fulfillment–The Jacques Belville Three-Stage Life Plan.'

Crap.

There was only one thing to do. He walked over to the closet and dug through until he found his toolbox. He grabbed it and headed downstairs.

"Lane, I'll be over at the Dragonfly," he called over his shoulder, "Lorelai needs me to make sure some things were installed right."

*************** *************** ***************

Sookie thought artichokes were just about the most beautiful vegetable nature could provide. It was one of the few produce points on which she and her husband agreed. Oh well, she thought with a bit of a giggle, it kept their life spicy.

She glanced over at Davey sleeping in the playpen in the corner. Good, she sighed with satisfaction, still conked out.

She returned to the artichokes she was washing at the kitchen sink. They were so beautifully symmetrical. So perfect. She looked up and watched Lorelai arguing with Hal the landscaper outside. Pooh, that man was annoying. Poor Lorelai. All the crummy jobs for her.

Why was it, she wondered (ouch! the pointy bit of the artichoke pricked her thumb), why was it that having a baby changes everything? You don't realize, until it happens, that every relationship in your life must change. Davey and Jackson were heaven on earth for her, but she missed Lorelai, and the way they used to be. They couldn't go back to that. Not ever. Not completely, anyway. Everything changes when a new life is completely dependent on you. Ans she knew that no one knew that better than Lorelai. It's just that you don't really 'get it' until it happens to you.

And she felt bad that Lorelai had broken up with Jason. He had been fun for her since Rory had gone to school. She didn't want Lorelai to be so... solitary.

And she just wished she could have back that kind of 'friend talking to friend' absorption she used to have with Lorelai. She missed it. But then life couldn't be completely perfect, she guessed, not everything could fit all the time. 'Everything has it's season': It was hokey but true, this essential gospel in the produce business.

She heard Luke drop a wrench behind her. Davey stirred and yawned, but when Luke yelled, "Crap!" from under the sink, he began to whimper.

"It's okay, little Davey," cooed Sookie as she turned away from watching Hal and Lorelai and dropped the artichoke back into the sink.

She scooped her baby up and he quieted immediately.

"Sorry!" came a muffled call from Luke who was still within the cabinet.

"It's all right, Luke. If he'd slept much longer, I would never have gotten him down tonight."

Sookie looked up then as Shel, the poultry guy walked in.

Shel! He was single! Maybe Lorelai?... Hmmm...

********************* ******************** ********************

It was lovely to be with her husband again, and she'd forgotten how funny her mother could be, and, conversely, how tedious cousin Edward was.

All in all, it wasn't as exciting as, say, riding a camel across the Egyptian desert, but there was a dearness about the place that felt so refreshing, and a letting go of all the old drives and ambitions—which was a relief really, the truest of blessings.

But she was glad about the 'watching life go on' part being true. And grateful that being dead didn't mean that one lost one's sense of humor. (She now knew, for a fact, that just before Shakespeare wrote 'Lord, what fools these mortals be,' an angel had whispered it directly into his ear---- Charming man, Shakespeare, but dreadful halitosis; you'd think that sort of thing could be resolved up here.)

But she hadn't expected to miss them all so terribly. And feel for them as they stumbled about missing each other, when it was so much better to grab hold of warm flesh while you could, while you had that chance. To press lips together, to stroke one another--- and the thrill of saying those words, and hearing them returned—well, there was just nothing better. But still, they tumbled about proud and worried about money.

Which, of course, had been one of the great failures in her life: Putting money first, that is.

And so she sighed as she watched her daughter-in-law packing her Chanel luggage in preparation for the leaving of her darling boy. (When did her little boy get so worn and gray?) Emily was so bourgeois, and that had bothered her in life. But now she saw that she had been put on earth for Richard. They for each other, actually. And here the silly boy was clinging to earthly business, while his true love stood a floor above him trying to decide between the cashmere and the silk.

I should spank him, stupid child! she thought. But sighed with the realization that if she tried, he would only think the room had become drafty.

And that was the missing bit here: Finally knowing it all but unable to help those who you love who needed it.

So she watched Emily leave and Richard drink Scotch.

And Lorelai go home alone. And the shaggy man pour a beer and put his self-help tape into his walkman.

Then the red-haired woman with the beautiful face nurse her baby in a kitchen, and worry about her friend.

And the lovely cast-away Korean girl eat a cold supper.