Tears In Heaven

(Skip this if you don't want to read the intro)

Inspired by Eric Clapton's "Tears In Heaven", VH1's 100 Greatest Songs From The Last 25 Years, a scene from Billie Letts's best-selling novel Where The Heart Is, an idea that struck me at three in the morning, and, I suppose, maybe one too many Sci-Fi shows.

You may like this story, you may hate this story, but please: at least read all the way through the first chapter before you decide to give up on it.

It's an AU fic, and you'll see what's going on with it after reading the first chapter. The rest of the story will not take place in so many different time periods. It'll take place in the same time period as the last section, which you will see with the next chapter.

Don't own the characters, but I'm pretty sure I own the storyline.

Thanks for you attention.

(Start reading here)

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"Victoria, where's John?" Twenty-year-old Lorelai Gilmore stopped her fellow maid in the middle of the upstairs hallway of the Independence Inn. "He's watching Rory."

Victoria leaned over and stole a mint from the wicker basket draped over Lorelai's arm. "Saw 'em outside earlier," she said through a mouthful of chocolate. "So cute," she added, swallowing.

"And Rory's pretty, too," Lorelai grinned. "Thanks, Vic."

Humming tunelessly, Lorelai headed downstairs and quickly out the door. "Alex!" she called to a gardener. "You seen John? He's watching Rory."

Alex straightened up, his hand shielding his eyes from the sun behind Lorelai, and shook his head. Then, his gaze over Lorelai's shoulder, he paled, and nodded slowly.

Lorelai whipped around, throwing her hand abover her eyes and her basket to the ground. The sun was directly in front of her, so at first she only saw the silhouette. It slowly came into focus, and Lorelai was able to recognize that it was John, carrying something in his arms. He was almost directly in front of her when she recognized her daughter, hanging limp and dripping. Then, it seemed, with every step he took, her heart sank deeper and deeper into her stomach, and finally the ground, as John stepped directly in front of her and slowly lowered Rory's lifeless body into Lorelai's arms.

Her tears didn't make the slightest bit of difference, falling on Rory's drowned body.

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"I'm so sorry, honey."

Lorelai nodded as another nameless, faceless person patted her shoulder and apologized for something no one could make better. Her eyes remained unfocused in the direction of the plate of sandwiches. She kept her head down, letting her long hair fall over her red eyes and their puffy bags. She hadn't slept since John had handed over her four-year-old daughter three days before. The first night she'd spent in the potting shed, her eyes boring into Rory's side of the bed, as if suddenly she'd sit up and smile, as if the whole thing were a dream.

It wasn't.

"Oh, sorry," someone mumbled, bumping into her from behind.

"'S okay," she mumbled back.

"Um...are you okay?"

Only slightly aware that the guy was talking to her, she shook her head. "I'm going outside," she said suddenly, making her way to Mia, the owner of the Inn, who'd very nicely offered to host the...gathering at the Inn. "I'm going outside," she repeated to the older woman when she'd reached her, who just nodded sadly and touched Lorelai's arm quickly.

Numbly, Lorelai continued outside, meandering around until she found a bench overlooking the lake. She was only slightly surprised when the guy from before appeared over her and said hesitantly, "Um...can I...."

She nodded, and scooched so he would have room. He settled next to her, carefully making sure they weren't touching. She allowed him to pleasantly sit in silence for almost a full minute before waving an arm at the lake and saying, "This is where it happened, you know."

"Uh...what?"

"You know...it. The reason for the whole...gathering back there." Lorelai cocked her head back toward the Inn.

"Oh," the guy said quietly, finally looking her straight on. "Um...are you...?"

She nodded, slowly, still facing the lake. Her stoic expression held up for twenty seconds before she broke down into tears like a little baby. "She's gone, she's really gone!" she wailed, leaning to put her arms around and her head on the shoulder of this stranger.

"Uh...I'm sorry," he responded to her sobbing, awkwardly patting her back. She shook her head and blubbered, inadvertently wiping her snot all over his shoulder.

"Oh," she pulled back from his shoulder and let out a short little laugh. "I think I--"

"Oh, God!" he groaned, pulling his shirt until he could see the shoulder. "This is my dad's!"

"Oh, I'm so sorry!" Lorelai giggled, reaching up to wipe at the dark spot on his light blue shirt.

"No, it's--it's fine," he sighed, dropping his own hands. "I'll...I'll wash it later."

"Um, and now that we've basically exchanged bodily fluids, we should introduce ourselves." Lorelai smiled and held out her hand. "I'm Lorelai Gilmore."

"Oh, um, I'm Luke. Danes."

Lorelai swept an unruly strand of hair from in front of her eye. "Nice to meet you, Luke."

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"Hey," he said quietly as the door swung open. "How are you?"

She glared slightly, but stood aside to let him through. As he passed her, she grabbed the bag he was holding and followed him to her living room. He paused next to her couch. She ignored his apprehension--he did this every time--and grabbed a handful of flannel, forcing him to flop onto the couch next to her.

"I hate today," she muttered, pulling chili fries, ice cream, and a spoon from the bag, and popping open the pint. "Thank you," she sniffled, leaning over to rest her head on his shoulder. He moved his arm until it was wrapped around her. "Twelve years," she whispered after a minute. When he glanced down at her, she shook her head and continued, "she would have been sixteen. After everything...I still remember my sixteenth year the best."

"Lorelai," he sighed. "Don't do this again."

"I'll try, but it's hard." She buried her face in his shoulder.

"I know. It's okay, I just don't want you beating yourself up again."

"Luke, this is one of the two nights a year I can completely beat myself up, and I fully intend to."

"Okay. Just...not all night, okay?"

She leaned up and pecked him quickly on the lips. "Okay," she half-smiled.

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"God, it's freezing!" Luke walked down Lorelai's hallway, dressed only in his boxer shorts, and stopped at the thermostat. "Fifty-five?" he muttered, and then raised his voice so Lorelai could hear. "Fifty-five?!"

"It's warm in here," she sing-songed from her room.

He grinned, but called back, "I need milk!"

"God, I hope I have some," she said.

"Me, too," he muttered, walking down the stairs to the kitchen. He opened the fridge and leaned down, searching through Chinese food containers and his own Luke's Diner boxes to finally come up with a small carton of school milk. He checked the expiration date; he still had a few days. Figuring she'd probably gotten it on accident, he opened it and straightened up to take a sip.

There was a scream behind him. He spun around, milk flying from the carton, and yelled back, as there was a teenage girl standing in the doorway to Lorelai's sewing room off the kitchen.

"Luke?" the girl questioned.

"Lorelai!" Luke screamed.

"What? What?" Lorelai ran down the stairs and stopped very quickly as she spotted the girl. "Oh, God." She edged around the kitchen to stand next to Luke, slightly hidden behind him.

"Mom?" the girl asked.

"That's not funny," Luke practially growled.

"I...it's not meant to be funny...what's wrong with you two?"

"Just who the hell do you think you are, coming into my kitchen and making fun of the anniversary of my daughter's death?" Lorelai moved out from behind Luke, and took a few steps toward the girl.

"Mom?" The girl sounded like she was going to cry. "It's me, Rory. Really. What do you mean, your daughter's death?"

"What's my middle name?" Lorelai asked quickly.

"Victoria," the girl said simply. "And mine's Leigh, and Dad's middle name is James, and...I don't know your middle name, Luke."

Lorelai gasped, glanced quickly at Luke, and then back at the girl. "R-Rory?" she asked, reaching a hand to touch her...daughter.