CHAPTER 10

"So, are you going to let me in?" Lorelai asked, teasing.

Waking himself up from the dream, he uttered, "Yeah." He stepped aside to watch her come through the door.

"So, Hurricane Gigi?" Lorelai teased.

Christopher chuckled softly. "Nope, it's all me."

"Why don't you get yourself a housemaid or something?" Lorelai scolded him as she pulled out two plates for her to set the food in.

"Well, the place is usually cleaned up. It's just Gigi's been sick, and I had to do a lot of work here today," he confessed.

"I'm sorry to hear that," genuine concern escaped her lips. "Is she okay?"

"Yeah," he admitted. "The fever broke a few hours ago. She's finally resting."

"Poor girl," Lorelai sighed.

"Indeed," he agreed. He walked past her and grabbed a couple of beers from the refrigerator. He could see himself settle in a pattern like this… with Lorelai.

"So what brings you to town?"

Lorelai looked at her food before taking a swig from her frosted mug. "I don't know. Beans?"

Christopher laughed. He knew her enough to know that was the least of her worries. "I know something's bugging you."

Lorelai watched as he shoved a fry in his mouth. "Mom."

"What has Emily done this time?" Christopher rolled his eyes at the mention of Emily.

"Nothing," Lorelai tried to pry the meat off the rib. "She's just getting to me."

"So, what's new? I think Emily was born into the universe just to be that popcorn kernel behind the tooth," Christopher said jokingly.

"Well she started questioning my mothering skills, and I don't like it," Lorelai played down the situation. She really didn't want Christopher to all of a sudden play the knight in shining armor. "She said that I wasn't giving Rory the proper wedding she deserves."

"What does Rory have to say about it?" Christopher inquired.

Lorelai's thoughts were suddenly far away. She didn't know how to answer that question. "She's been a trooper so far. She doesn't question much. Misses Tristin like crazy while he and his cousin are looking for a place to stay in New York and DC."

"Rory's a lot like you, you know," he said quietly.

"That's what I'm afraid of," Lorelai sighed. "So does Mom."

"When did Emily's opinion ever count? You of all people should know better than have her make you doubt your decisions," Christopher chided her.

"It's easy for you to say, Christopher!" she said rather loudly. "You got to escape. You got to leave. I had to fend for Rory, alone."

"I offered to marry you," he said, getting angry.

"We were seventeen and sixteen, Chris. Teenagers!" Lorelai started sobbing. "How different would you think it would be if we had tied the knot? Would've you been happy?"

"Would've you?" Christopher threw the question back at her.

Lorelai threw the fry down and took another drink out of her glass. Would she have been happy?

"Mom wants to throw Tristin and Rory an engagement party," Lorelai changed subjects.

"That was a possibility I knew would happen," Christopher said.

"She didn't want me or Luke to be there," she continued on. "Well, at least Luke. She made it clear that he was not to be part of anything that had to do with the Gilmores."

Christopher stared at her. It broke his heart to see her this way.

"Rory and Tristin didn't want to have one if Luke and I weren't included in it, and I think she's hell-bent on pushing this idea to Mom and Dad, and I can't have this moment ruined for them," she confessed.

"Well, it's the kids' decision," Christopher said after a long moment of silence.

Lorelai looked at Christopher, "You know that is a bunch of croc."

"It is, but they're not children anymore," he insisted.

"But they're not just any other children. They're Hartford-bred children. Despite the fact that you and I did not marry, Rory is still a society girl. Mom thinks so and in a way, I have conceded to that thought," Lorelai argued.

"Well, you've made up your mind. So what do you want me to say?" Christopher pleaded.

"I want you to tell me that I didn't mess this up, that the kids are going to get what they want," she bargained.

Christopher looked into her eyes. "Is this what you want?"

Lorelai paused and caught her breath. For once, she was tongue-tied. "Yes."

"Then let me call Rory and we'll see what we can do with this engagement party," Christopher convinced her.

Photos over photos of dresses, china pattern, flowers, and cloth swatches piled up on the dining room table. In the afternoon shadow, Rory sighed. How was she supposed to decide on these things?

Rory silently mulled over the pieces of information in front of her. These are the moments she wished she had her girlfriends around.

"Knock, knock!" a male voice called out from the back porch door.

"Jess?" she inquired. Running to the door, she opened it. "What are you doing here?"

"Apparently, providing you with some sustenance," Jess said. "So, what's going on here?"

Blushing, she said, "Nothing… Wedding stuff."

"Oh yeah?" Jess said with interest. A backless dress caught his attention. "Which one have you chosen?"

"None yet. I don't know what I am supposed to look for," she said.

"Well," he said, putting the sack of food down, "what do you think would you be comfortable in?"

"Jeans and a t-shirt?" she clued him in.

"Ha-ha," he eyed her from across the table. "What about this?"

It was an off-white lace and chiffon princess-cut dress with little beads on the corset top and a flowing skirt to match it. The train was the button kind, one that emanated purity and joy at a glance.

"Hmm, I don't know. Is it me?" she asked.

Jess averted his eyes so he didn't have to answer her question. "I don't know. As long as you don't look like those heroin-looking girls. Who ever thought that was a sexy look?"

"I don't know… Men?" Rory teased back.

He laughed, taking a fry from Rory's plate. "So, you never told me how you feel about this whole thing. Sorta kinda soon, right?"

Rory sighed in excitement. "It's so soon, isn't it?"

"Nah, I think you're ready for it," Jess assured her. "You'll be a very radiant bride."

"Aww, that's so sweet!" Rory said. "I know you just want some of my fries, right?"

"That and a break from the diner," Jess admitted, pulling a chair right next to her and sharing her meal.

Rory welcomed Jess' presence while they sat in silence. If anything else, he provided a support she never thought would need.

"So, what's going on with your life?" Rory asked, deflecting any more wedding questions.

"Not much. The Bar Fly's not really where I wanted to start but it gets the bills paid," he said.

"What is The Bar Fly?" she inquired, munching on the burger, the condiments oozing onto her fingers.

"It's a weekly publication. Talks about bars, concerts, local interests," he enumerated.

"Let me guess, you're in charge of the obits," Rory teased.

"That would be fun," he sarcastically responded. "Talking about dead people? There's no one to argue about it."

"What would you have written?" Rory challenged her writer-friend.

"John Updyke, 32, father of two, excellent father, great lover. Hid the reality that he's a bisexual stripper that goes by the name John Hancock. Keeps a lover on the upper East Side. Will be sorely missed by Hell's Angels."

"Excellent!" Rory laughed. "I'll make sure you won't write my obituary when I pass away."

"Kidding aside, I do the club scene," he said humbly.

"Really? That's great!" Rory was excited for him. "I bet you get to some good gigs."

"Some good, some bad," he admitted. "I got to interview Sleater-Kinney."

"How'd that go?" Rory was impressed.

"It was a high. It was like interviewing The Strokes," he smiled as he recalled the memory.

"Aren't they upset that you're hanging around here rather than hanging out at the cool clubs?" she asked.

"I'm due some vacation, and Luke called," he said. "Besides, I get to have part of my work done."

"Do tell!" Rory asked.

"Don't tell Lane, but her band's making the feature in two weeks," he said, smiling.

"Really?" Rory jumped up from her seat and gave him a hug. "That is great."

"Well, don't congratulate me yet. I still have to get the interview, you know," he chuckled, rubbing her arms that were wrapped around his neck.

"For what it's worth, I think you're doing well," Rory replied.

Clearing his throat, he said, "So, I guess we're going to be neighbors in New York?"

"I guess," Rory replied, smiling. "It will be nice to have someone in town to hang out with."

"Yeah," he said. "Super."

The phone rang and Rory got up to answer it. "Hello? Hi, Dad."

Jess knew that he overstayed his welcome. Quietly, he exited the back door as she continued conversing with her dad.