Title: Thirty-Two Short Films About Lorelai Gilmore

Author: Allotrope

Disclaimer: If I were Amy Sherman-Palladino, I'd have a better CD collection and look good in hats. But I'm not and I don't, and these characters are obviously not mine.

A/N: Thanks to everyone who's read and/or reviewed.

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Chapter One

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The first time Lorelai Gilmore leaves through her bedroom window -- really leaves, shimmies down the old oak tree conveniently located next to her balcony's stone ledge and leaps the last few feet to the packed mulch of her mother's flowerbed -- she is fourteen years old.

The party she's run to isn't worth the careful application of kohl, the clouds of AquaNet, the exhumation of the Bangles t-shirt she usually hides in the satin sailor hat of her biggest, creepiest doll. Lorelai exits early. She chucks her cup (filled with a drop or two of everything in Jimmy Caulfield's parents' liquor cabinet) and grabs her jacket.

She spends a few hours just walking. She'd woken up that morning to a shift in the weather: the gauzy gray sky and mineral scent in the air that herald the first snow. Plus, she hasn't thought too hard about the mechanics of climbing up the tree. (Gravity: What a bummer.)

The next morning, her mother tells her to stand up straight, to go back and actually brush her hair this time, to not insist on wearing that ridiculous jacket with the iron-on patches. For once, Lorelai has nothing to say: She squares her shoulders; she lets Emily run a comb through her carefully teased bangs; she grabs her old pea coat as she rushes out the door. None of it matters anymore. She's cracked the code, solved the puzzle. She's free.

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The last time Lorelai Gilmore leaves through her bedroom window, she's carrying a backpack that holds her Bangles t-shirt, her jacket with the iron-on patches, and clinking jars of baby food nestled against a pack of disposable diapers.

Her daughter sleeps against her chest in the nearly outgrown Snugli, as pale and perfect as a china doll. Lorelai's got three changes of clothes, her complete set of days-of-the-week underwear, and a wad of cash that represents three years' worth of birthday checks. Rory's stroller is jammed in the privet hedge near the front gate, waiting.

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In between, there's Christopher.

"It wouldn't be so bad, would it?" he asks, while they sit on the stairs and listen to their parents scream at each other in the drawing room.

"So your lobotomy, it was outpatient?"

"Lor?"

"I mean, I saw you yesterday, we agreed on the whole united front thing, and now...." She shakes her head. "Have you and Richard negotiated my bride price yet? Because even in my gently used state, I'm worth a hell of a lot of goats."

Christopher snakes an arm around her shoulders and pulls her closer. "It'll be easier," he says softly. "It's what they want."

The morning sickness hasn't been bad so far, but suddenly it's all Lorelai can do not to puke on her Vans. Her father still won't look her in the eye, her mother's too busy figuring out how to break news of her shame to the garden club, and her boyfriend's been replaced with Folgers Crystals.

And, sadly, a martini is now absolutely out of the question.

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