Author's Note: Here's the end, as promised. I hope it is more satisfying than Season 7. Thanks for coming along for the ride.
Chapter Eighteen: Hold onto nothing for good
Though it didn't seem possible, Christmas came on time that year. Thirteen days after they buried Emily Gilmore, they were all once again around the Christmas Eve dinner table, a more somber affair than usual, though Laylee's child-like resilience made her recovery quicker, and therefore a bright spot in their otherwise gray holiday season. The Gilmores' Christmas party had obviously been canceled indefinitely, but there were still apple tarts on the table in memory of their matriarch, and Luke didn't even complain about how many people were eating. It still felt weird to be eating Christmas Eve dinner in Stars Hollow. The 24th had been Emily's day, but Richard still couldn't bear to enter the house.
Laylee had been in the Stars Hollow Christmas Pageant that morning, and so regaled the table with her backstage tales and exploits with her fellow angels. Everyone was content to let her dominate the conversation. When Laylee rambled, they could all forget for awhile.
As they cleared the dishes, Lorelai turned to Luke and said softly, "I know this is going to surprise you, but I really missed the party this year."
Luke smiled in return and kissed her cheek. "I think I did, too."
"Remind me again why we're doing this?" Luke questioned, struggling for a moment to snap the car seat into place in the backseat of Rory's Prius (handed down after her grandparents had presented her with a new car upon graduation from Yale) and letting loose a triumphant "Aha!" as he completed his task.
Across from him, Lorelai was more easily clicking Jack's car seat into place, pausing to tap the smiling boy on the nose before looking up at her husband. "Because it's the Christmas party, and Dad wants to show off his beautiful grandsons."
"Handsome," Luke grumbled in correction, only half-seriously.
"Besides, the apple tarts are amazing," Lorelai continued, ignoring her husband's mumblings, "Just hang onto a twin all night and you'll only have to make small talk about the babies. Despite my mom, it's becoming important to my dad that the family gets together during the holidays."
Luke sighed, glancing knowingly down at little Will as if to say: "You're lucky you won't remember this."
"And if we get bored, we can play games with everyone's heads with the twins."
"Ah jeez. We got all their stuff? These are definitely your kids with all the crap they need."
"Everything's in the trunk; no excuses to delay this any longer. Let's go. And after over fifteen hours of labor and nine months of being a double-sized blimp, they most definitely are my children."
The maid answered the door and looked slightly puzzled at the guests behind the door: they certainly were unlike the others invited.
"Daughter, son-in-law, grandsons," Lorelai introduced, pointing to each as was fit. Luke was carrying both car seats, and Lorelai had the gifts and diaper bag.
The maid nodded politely and took the gifts and, after much baby juggling, their coats.
"Mr. and Mrs. Gilmore are in the living room."
With that, the maid returned to the kitchen.
"Let's take the boys out of their carriers before we go in," Lorelai suggested, setting down the one seat she was left with after the baby shuffle on the coffee table in one of the side sitting rooms. She leaned down and unbuckled Will, smiling as she lifted the grinning baby onto her shoulder.
"Jack's asleep," Luke informed her as he released the younger twin from his carrier.
"Lucky duck," Lorelai teased, leaning over to pat Jack's diapered corduroy rump and kiss Luke on the cheek. "Will's awake and ready for action. Ready to go be cooed over, Wills?"
Will just grinned and buried his face into his mother's neck.
"Take that as a yes," Luke smiled.
"Lorelai! Luke!" Richard entered the room, grinning as he caught sight of his two grandsons. "So glad you could make it. Come, have some drinks."
Will popped his head up at his grandfather's voice, twisting to find the source.
"Well hello, William," Richard laughed. "Nice to see you could stay awake for the party. Is that brother of yours sleeping?"
Will gave a gummy grin and extended his arms towards Grandpa as he was stolen from his mother.
"How about we grab Jackman, too, huh?" Richard questioned to the infant in his arms as Luke transferred the sleeping baby to Richard's other shoulder. "Aha. Now, boys, shall we make the rounds?"
"My small talk just walked out of the door," Luke grumbled in Lorelai's ear as they followed her father, his hand on the small of her back.
Lorelai just turned with a slightly goofy smile: "He can tell them apart."
"Dad," Lorelai clarified lowly. "He can tell the twins apart. He waltzed in here and immediately knew I was holding Will. And it's not even a lucky guess, 'cause I'm usually holding Jack."
"That's huge," she continued to grin, watching her father brightly introduce the twins to the four other Christmas party guests.
"Oh, they're darling, Richard," one of Emily's fellow DAR ladies cooed. "How old are they?"
"Six and a half months," Richard beamed, "Jackman rolled over last week."
"And Will rolled over yesterday," Lorelai provided. "Both ways."
"Ah, is Jack still stuck on right?"
"We just let 'im roll over till he hits the wall, then turn him around," Luke teased, earning a chuckle from his father-in-law.
"That was just once," Lorelai playfully admonished, sending the light laughter throughout most of the group.
"Well, he is most definitely stubborn, already. And a good sleeper."
"Unlike his brother," Lorelai commented.
"Will just doesn't want to miss anything," Richard defended, shifting the awake twin up.
"Here, Dad, I'll take Jack," Lorelai offered, sliding the sleeping infant into her arms with practiced ease.
"Wouldn't want him to wake up without his mom," Luke ribbed.
"Jackman is extremely fond of his mother," Richard explained to the guests.
"Mama's boy," Lorelai said lightly, planting a kiss on Jack's head.
"Emily, your grandsons are just beautiful," one of the women directed the attention to the grandmother for the first time since the babies had entered the room.
"Yes. Yes, they really are," Emily agreed, as if realizing it for the first time herself. "Well, dinner is ready; let's head on in to the table."
Most of them didn't feel particularly up to opening Christmas presents this year, but for the child still among them, they all filed into the living room early Christmas morning, as the little princess reigned over her domain. There was a section of the tree whose presents were set apart. Those were the presents to and from Emily, and there had been a collective decision to leave them where they sat until New Years. They just weren't quite ready for that.
Laylee blasted Christmas carols and distributed gifts, bopping around to the music. She always opened hers last: it was the most exciting part anyway, and she liked to prolong the fun. For just a little bit, unwrapping gifts from each other and watching their little girl beam with Christmas joy, they could all just be happy.
In the end that was all Emily wanted.
Outside, the snow began to fall.
As the months progressed, everything eventually went as back to normal as possible. Richard had moved back into the house for now, confronting his grief as much as he could. He finally found a maid he enjoyed, who could cook and clean and also keep him company. He was considering getting a valet. He still got lonely, but he visited Stars Hollow often, and it visited him. Every day after baseball practice (football had ended in 2nd place regional finish for Chilton, 2nd place district finish for SHHS) Will stopped by the house to catch up or fiddle with cars or talk about books. A couple of days a week he stayed for dinner.
One afternoon in April, a few days short of Luke and Lorelai's eighteenth anniversary and a month shy of the boys' seventeenth birthday, they were all gathered around a table in the diner. Jack had a baseball game in two hours, but in that moment they were laughing over an Emily memory, this one a particularly scathing rant against fast food that never failed to send Lorelai into stitches, or set Luke to nodding in agreement.
Laylee, in her baseball cap and jersey, reported on her latest exam scores, up from the fall, and faithfully announced that her homework is indeed finished, thus earning permission to attend the baseball game. She whooped for joy and jump up on the chair.
"Sit down," Natalie admonished, tugging on the girl's belt. "We'll have to put your head in a cast."
"Yikes! No more casts."
Laylee quickly scrambled down.
"Oh, guys, you'll never guess who I ran into in Hartford this morning."
"Who?" Lorelai asked. "Spill."
"No!" Lorelai cried in disbelief.
"Who's Logan Huntzberger?" Laylee questioned.
"Your mom's college sweetheart," Will explained. His team had a bye that night, so he'd picked up his grandfather and hurried home to watch his brother, a rare treat.
"He proposed to your mother, but she turned him down and broke his heart," Richard further elaborated.
"Really?" Laylee asked.
"More stories later," Lorelai hurried them along. "What did he look like? Is he married? Incarcerated?"
"Mom," Rory scolded. "He looked good. Like Logan, just grown up. He's divorced, but has full custody of an eight year old son, Aston Martin Huntzberger."
"Like the car?" Jack asked,
"Obviously not that grown up," Lorelai snorted.
"Yeah, well. It was really nice to see him. He seemed… settled. He promised to call next time he was in town, so it will be good to catch up."
Will rolled his eyes and started in on some teasing. Jack glanced down at his watch. Lorelai leaned back with a smile and surveyed her brood. They'd all gotten their smiles back, even her father on occasion, though there were still moments, Friday nights especially, when she really missed her mother, something forty years ago she never would have imagined.
Soon, Jack announced he was late and rushed out the door, Will, Laylee, and Natalie close behind to get good seats. They promised to save them for the slower moving adults, and Rory and Richard launched into some philosophical discussion Lorelai wanted no part of. She looked up to see Luke smiling at her from the till. She returned the smile, noting one of the pictures was out of place. She came over to fix it, smiling again when she noticed it was of Emily and Richard with a grinning Will at some awards banquet. She lovingly returned it to its spot, feeling Luke's eyes on her. She leaned over and kissed him briefly.
"We're running out of room on the till."
Luke shrugged. "You can start laminating them onto the counter."
"What?" Rory groaned, turning over in her childhood bed. "What is with you and the waking?"
"We're outnumbered, Rory!"
"What on earth are you talking about, Mom?" Rory moaned again, scootching automatically to make room for her mother.
"There are more boys than girls in this house, Rory! For the first time ever! Like ever, ever."
"Boys, Rory! Three boys, two girls."
"I don't understand, Mommy, and I want to sleep."
"The twins… They're boys, Rory."
"Yes, Mom. We've been aware of that for about three months now, and it was confirmed three days ago when they were born. What's the problem? And aren't you supposed to be exhausted post-labor? Sleep, woman!"
"I am, but… it's weird…"
"Why is it weird, Mom?"
"They're so small, Rory." Lorelai's voice took on an enamored, wistful tone, and a smile spread across her lips. "And there's so much blue."
"You like blue."
"Yes, but there's never been this much blue before."
"Yes, this I must admit," Rory sighed, grinning a little. "And soon this room will be very, very blue."
"Well, this is gonna be the nursery, right? I mean, they'll sleep a few weeks in their bassinets with you guys, but they'll be in cribs eventually. In here."
"But this is your room."
"And now it's theirs. I thought you and Luke and I already talked about it."
Lorelai sighed. "Yeah, but… I guess I just never really thought about it. And I like them so close to me."
"Yes, well, that will get awkward after they hit puberty."
Lorelai paused and surveyed the room. Most of Rory's stuff was gone, moved into her apartment in New Haven over the years. The bed itself was rarely slept in, except on rare nights such as this, when Rory slept over. (April preferred the couch.) Tonight she was staying in recognition of her brothers' first night home from the hospital.
"The cribs that are already assembled and waiting in the garage are gonna have to go somewhere. I mean, the garage might be okay for the summer, but I think Children's Services frowns on infants in un-insulated rooms during the winter."
"Right. And you're okay with this?"
"Mom, I'm painting the walls myself. Me and Lane were planning to do it in the morning while you and the boys slept. Sorry to ruin the surprise. Luke's moving the furniture in tomorrow afternoon."
"They'll love it. Don't you think?"
"Well, currently they can barely see, but eventually, yes, they will love it. They're amazing, Mom."
Lorelai giggled. "Aren't they? And Luke is so cute with them… Did you see him trying to give Will a bottle yesterday? I thought his face was gonna fall off from all that smilin'. Wasn't sure Luke Danes's face remembered how to smile that much."
"Oh, I think there was a comparable amount of smiling at the wedding. Or about every time he looks at you."
"I don't know… It was different. Everything's different now."
Rory snuggled into her pillow. "In a good way."
"In a very good way."
"Go get some sleep, woman! You have two newborns! Sleep is precious."
"You're really painting in the morning?"
"Will you sing the painting song for your brothers?"
"No. Go to sleep."
"Lorelai?" Luke interrupted from the doorway, hair mussed with sleep and whimpering twin cradled in his arms. "What are you doing down here?"
"Just finishing a mother-daughter moment, Luke," Rory informed him, unceremoniously shoving her mother off of the bed.
"At two a.m.?"
"That's what I said," Rory put in, pulling her covers over her head. "Goodnight, Mom."
"Goodnight, kid," Lorelai grinned, shooing Luke out of the doorway and shutting the door behind her.
"I think someone's hungry," Luke yawned and motioned to the infant in his arms.
Crying drifted down from upstairs.
"Sounds like someone else is, too."
"You go get…" He paused to observe the color of the newborn's swaddling. "Will. And I'll feed Jack here."
"Can do," Lorelai also yawned. "Bottles are…"
"In the fridge," Luke finished before she could. "I know. Hey, is everything alright? With Rory and all?"
"Everything's perfect," Lorelai smiled. "Different, but perfect."
Nearly four years in the making. 10/24/05-10/7/09.