Disclaimer: And yeah, still no.

A/N: I suck. To make up for said suckage, I tried to make this chapter a little longer than the others. Lately the show has been frustrating me, so I figure it's about time I get back into my own little version of the seventh season. The outline for this is detailed and saved in my documents, so assuming everyone is still interested in this then I will continue with it until the final scene, which I've actually already written. The only way I'll know if you want me to do that is review, so please click that pretty little purple button when you finish with this chapter.

--

"Well, if his mother thinks he has the talent to rock the world with his mixes, then he must be capable," she smiled and settled back on the couch, eyes trailing over the new paint and new additions for the fiftieth time since she moved out of her grandparents' house.

"Thank God I managed to pawn this thing off on somebody else today; another afternoon with a European I can't understand and you may very well have been planning my funeral right now," Logan chuckled warmly and Rory took a deep breath, the sound making her miss him more than she wanted to admit.

"Good thing, then. The way things have been going this past week, half the population of Stars Hollow is probably going to be underground by the time you come visit."

"That bad?"

"Oh, yes," Rory nodded seriously, curling her feet underneath her. "Taylor has banned the unicorn retailers, which in turn has outraged all of the children, some of the women in town, and Kirk. All of them are planning some sort of rally to bring back their livelihood, last I heard. The first protest is scheduled for this afternoon."

"Oh, I'm sorry I can't be there," he laughed and then paused. "He's still allowing Harry Potter to be purchased at the book store, isn't he?"

She grinned and shrugged her shoulders, the expression fading slightly when she remembered he couldn't see her. "It's only a matter of time before that, too, is gone," she answered. Someone shouted Logan's name across the Atlantic and she swallowed thickly, forcing a smile for the benefit of the coffee table when he apologized and said he had to go.

Ending the call, she let her phone rest on her lap and quirked her mouth in contemplation. In the middle of her inner-argument about whether or not it would be beneficial to go into town and look around at Andrew's for a new set of page-bound comforts, the house phone rang. She rolled her eyes and picked it up from its position on the coffee table, answering blandly. She lacked Lorelai's flair for dramatic phone answering, but she was alright with that.

"Sweetie, don't hang up."

Her hand clenched around the phone and she froze, her mouth open and posed to say the first thing that fell from the sky. Christopher sighed heavily and Rory crinkled her brow.

"I know you don't want to talk to me and I know your mom doesn't, either, but hear me out," he begged. She remained silent despite her best efforts to hang up, frozen on the couch staring angrily at the wall. "What happened between me and your mom wasn't planned, it just sort of happened, Rory. You know I wouldn't do anything to mess up her relationship with Luke."

"Lie," she said simply. He didn't respond and she shook her head in disappointment. "I heard you, and now I have to go. Don't call again," she hung up and sat forward, extending her legs so that her feet rested on the floor. Rocking forward to rest her elbows on her knees, she dropped her head into her hands and inhaled slowly to calm down.

Thankfully, the phone didn't ring again before she left the house.

--

"Michel, I am going to stab you with the biggest piece of this that I can lift if you don't leave me alone right this second!" Lorelai shouted. The Frenchman stared at her indifferently and she folded her arms across her chest, raising an eyebrow slowly.

"Oh, fine, take away all of my fun," he pouted as he turned on his heel and stomped off, nearly running into Rory as she looked around the room to see what all the commotion was about. "Be careful, she is channeling all of those horror stories that she tells about her mother today," he warned.

Rory laughed shortly and walked over to her mother, noticing that something looked off about the staircase. She opened her mouth to comment and then stopped dead in her tracks when she noticed the pile of wood that was lying on the floor next to the flight of steps and the massive hole that was now in the banister.

"So, you remember that rule that I came up with last year after those two members of the Hell's Angels decided to stay here and invite all of their biker friends, too?" Lorelai asked. Rory raised her eyes to her mother's and frowned.

"Are you talking about Ethel and her husband?"

"No, the other ones."

"The young guy and his girlfriend?"

"Yes, them," Lorelai nodded.

"Oh, yeah. Continue," Rory waved her hand absently in the air and stepped over the splinters that were scattered over the polished hard-wood floor, smirking softly as Lorelai took a deep breath to prepare to tell her story.

"Next time I say something like 'No one that even resembles a biker is ever staying here again,' make sure you enforce that rule!" She pointed at the broken banister frantically, eyes wide. "Mr. Johnson – and no, his name has not been changed for anonymity – got into a huge fight with his father, who was only supposed to be here for breakfast this morning, and it got so heated that when they started walking down the stairs to eat said meal, the younger one punched the older one in the face and then tackled him, sending them both sprawling to the floor with my banister underneath them!"

Rory blinked slowly, trying to process the rapid-fire explanation. After a moment she snorted, burst out laughing, and completely ignored Lorelai's glare as she fell against what was left of the railing to support her shaking body.

"I'm sorry," she gasped and wiped the tears from her eyes, shaking her head and trying to contain her laughter. "You're just the only Inn-owner in the country who would have a problem like this," she giggled again and Lorelai rolled her eyes, but smiled at the statement.

"Well, my mother always said I was a rebel," she deadpanned. Rory smiled again and straightened up, sighing happily.

"So for the sake of saving Michel from your evil clutches and death by impalement on a broken banister," she grinned and nodded toward the door, "Let's go watch the protest and see just how crazy it's gotten."

"I can't, babe," Lorelai sighed and started walking in the direction of the dining room. Rory frowned and followed her, genuinely confused by the rejection.

"Why? Sookie can meet the repairman when he comes, can't she? I'm sure she's dealt with him before."

"No, actually, she hasn't. This guy is new," Lorelai stopped an employee and gave him a direction that Rory didn't catch, but she grabbed her mother's shoulder before she could escape the conversation all together.

"Why would you call a new repairman when Kirk is standing in the town square with a horn crazy-glued to his head? That is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that you shouldn't miss because you have to sit around and wait for a new guy to show up and fix the broken banister," she said seriously. Lorelai stared at her for a moment and Rory frowned when the brightness in Lorelai's eyes faded the longer she stood there. "Mom?"

"Luke usually deals with stuff like this," she admitted. Rory sucked in a breath and then nodded slowly.

"Oh."

"Go on, go watch the protest," Lorelai smiled somewhat falsely and gestured toward the door. "Take lots of pictures so that we have something new to put on the fridge, huh?"

Rory nodded and turned to leave, a new mission already in mind as she headed in the direction of the town square.

--

The bell above the door dinged to announce her arrival and she looked around in search of her mission, lighting up when she saw him cross the diner in annoyance. Rory watched as Taylor followed behind the man in the baseball cap, and Luke threw down a plate in the kitchen and then exited with an exasperated sigh.

"If they want to run around in crazy costumes protesting the scariest chain of retailers in this town being shut down because you're a tyrant, then so be it, Taylor! I'm not supporting them and I'm not refusing them service, either."

"All you care about is the money, don't you? These people are ruining the face of Stars Hollow! We've never had such chaos, and yet you're willing to give them nourishment so that they can wreak havoc on the streets for as long as their energy lasts?"

Luke smirked and leaned against the counter, nodding even as he propped his chin on his palm. "That's exactly what I'm doing, Taylor. Supporting a bunch of maniacs so that they can finally wear you down enough to stop doing insane things like banning the sale of toy unicorns!"

"Those unicorns have sharp horns on their heads that are dangerous for children to play with," Taylor said gravely, enraged all over again. "Not to mention the fact that selling mythical creatures just encourages young people to follow that Wicca trend that's sweeping the nation right now!"

"Wicca, Taylor?"

"You should really pay attention to the news, Luke. It's all over the place and more and more kids are selling their souls to the devil by the day!" he threw his hands up in the air, clearly excited and terrified by the idea, and Rory placed her hand over her mouth in an attempt to keep from laughing at the old man's antics.

"Better than invading my diner to ask me to stop selling to faithful customers," Luke retaliated. After a brief staring contest between the two of them, he shook his head and pointed past Taylor's shoulder at the door. "Out."

"But Luke—"

"Out!"

Taylor huffed loudly and grumbled under his breath as he left the diner, barely missing Rory as she dodged his path and moved away from the door. The door slammed behind him and she nodded, a little impressed at his follow-through on his anger as she walked up to the counter and had a seat on one of the bar stools.

"Have you ever noticed that his hair poofs in the back when he's angry like that?" she teased. "Kind of like a cat."

Luke snorted out a quiet laugh at the comment. "The implication of that would explain a lot," he smirked. Giggling softly, she smiled at him and he returned the gesture. "So I assume you're here for coffee?"

"I'd love some," she nodded and gnawed on her bottom lip when he turned around to retrieve her a to-go cup. "Um, Luke?"

"I can't make it any stronger," he said automatically. She smiled and shook her head.

"No, I just wanted to ask you for a favor," she explained. He set her cup down in front of her and placed the lid over it, pressing down as he nodded for her to continue. Thanking him and dropping a few bills on the counter, she hugged the warm beverage to her chest and took a deep breath. "The banister broke at the Inn this morning," she began. He raised an eyebrow and she shrugged shortly. "I wasn't there. But I was hoping you could maybe go fix it so that Mom doesn't have to wait for hours for a repairman who probably can't do anything other than spout off a price."

He stared at her for a moment and then took his baseball cap off his head, gritting his jaw momentarily. The resemblance he had to Jess in that moment was striking, to say the least, and she felt her breath catch in her throat as she waited for his response.

"Your mom ask you to ask me?"

"No," she shook her head. "And I understand if you don't want to—"

"I'll do it," he nodded. Rory widened her eyes and he smirked, taking her money and depositing it in the cash register. "Gets me out of the fray for a while," he nodded toward the windows and she turned around, noticing that the crowd had gotten larger since she arrived at the diner.

"Great," she turned back to him and smiled. "Thanks Luke," she lingered for just a moment longer before leaving, the sounds of the protest overwhelming once she was in the open air.

Spotting a small opening in the crowd surrounding the gazebo, where Kirk was currently shouting nonsensical facts about unicorns into his megaphone – Who gave Kirk a megaphone? – she slipped in between two people she recognized from her days at Stars Hollow High and offered them both small smiles before taking a sip of her coffee.

The shouts of the crowd, she realized, were in response to Kirk's request for them to be louder, and she stared in fascination as he raised his fist in the air repeatedly, the horn that was plastered to his forehead quivering with each of his proclamations. Fixing her eyes on the ridiculous adornment, she blinked a few times and smiled at the insanity that was her home town.

"He says that babies who are born with horns aren't ostracized, so unicorns shouldn't be either," a familiar voice whispered in her ear. A chill shot down her spine that completely contradicted the smooth, warm June air, and she turned her head slightly to see him.

"Well, then I agree," she murmured playfully. Jess smirked and stepped closer to her, the heat of his body mixing with her own and making the coffee in her hand seem overwhelmingly hot.

"Of course you do," he shook his head mockingly and she narrowed her eyes indignantly, depositing her half-empty coffee cup in the trash can sitting a few feet away before turning to face him completely.

"I thought you were all for controversy," she accused. "Yet you're mocking Kirk and his genuine effort to regain the stores that probably supply half of Stars Hollow's economy?"

"They're stores that sell nothing but unicorns, Ror," he laughed a little. "How is that even controversial?"

"According to Taylor, they inspire youngsters like us to sell our souls to the devil and practice Wicca in our parents' basement," she said seriously, attempting to keep a straight face. Jess locked eyes with her and she froze momentarily, blinking and taking a step back from him.

The argument felt too comfortable and much too familiar for her liking, especially considering how he left. How he came back. And left. And came back and asked her to do something reckless and stupid; and left again. After Philadelphia they shouldn't have even been speaking. After Philadelphia she should've…

"Rory, grab a horn!" Kirk appeared next to her and her gaze jerked to his face, then the basket of pointed paper he had in his hand. "I'd tell you to get horny like I told Lulu to do, but she giggled and then told me that I shouldn't say things like that in public," he shrugged, clearly unaware of the implication of his original words, and Rory blinked.

"You know, Kirk, I'd love to join the cause but I'm just not the unicorn type," she shook her head sadly. She could feel Jess watching her, his eyes glued on her face, and she fought to remain indifferent to his stare as Kirk nodded.

"I understand. Thanks for your support, though," he nodded once more and then rushed off to approach another group of onlookers. She laughed and turned back to Jess, regretting the action as soon as their eyes locked.

"Huh."

"What?"

"Nothing," he shook his head and shrugged, glancing at a point past her shoulder as he spoke. "I just didn't expect anyone in this town to ask you for help anymore."

"And why is that?"

He looked back at her and his eyes were sad, nostalgic almost, and Rory tensed in preparation for flight. His hand twitched at his side and she tried to block out her peripheral vision so that she was only looking at his face. "Because you're not the same," he said simply. With that, he backed up and left her standing in the obnoxious crowd, facing away from the protest that was supposed to be drawing her attention completely.

The statement left her more shaken up than it should have had any right to.

--

Lorelai tapped her fingers against the desk impatiently, leaning her other elbow on the surface as she held the phone to her ear. Michel remained oblivious to her impatience, sorting through a pile of Post-Its that he had in front of him, and she groaned in irritation when she was disconnected yet again.

"How difficult is it to send a repairman out here? We're not really that far from the main part of town, are we? The Donner Party would make it just fine, even in the winter!"

"Calm down; they will send someone soon, I am sure," Michel drawled. Lorelai looked at him hopefully, standing up straight as she dropped the phone back on its base.

"You think so?"

He looked up at her blankly. "No," and then went back to sorting out his reminders. She groaned and rolled her eyes, walking around him into the foyer just as the front door of the establishment opened. Looking up, she stopped abruptly at the familiar face that was in front of her.

"Luke," she said dumbly, looking around for the hidden cameras. He nodded and lifted his toolbox for her inspection, looking past her to see the damage on the banister.

"Yeah," he agreed, walking past her and setting the box on the second step. She watched him curiously. "Heard you had a problem with your banister, and since every repair guy in town is at that stupid protest, I figured you could use someone down here to let you know what's going on before someone falls through the giant hole in the banister because they're too stupid to realize that it's busted."

"Oh," she nodded redundantly and walked the few feet of space between them, watching curiously. After a moment, she folded her arms across her chest and furrowed her brow. "So how bad is it?"

"It's definitely going to have to be replaced," he told her, but didn't turn to look at her. She nodded and looked down at the ground, jerking her foot around nervously before looking at the back of his head again. "I can probably get it done in a couple of days," he offered, finally turning to face her.

"You don't have to do that," she shook her head.

"Nah, it's no problem," he gestured behind him. "I just need to pick up some wood tomorrow and I can get it done by Saturday," he swore. Lorelai opened her mouth to protest again and he cut her off swiftly. "Unless you'd rather have some idiot that doesn't know how to work a power-saw do it instead."

She stared at him and then sighed, unfolding her arms reluctantly. "Take as long as you need," she sighed again and hurried off in the direction of the kitchen, waiting until the door was shut behind her before she allowed herself to freak out.

Sookie glanced up from the pot she was stirring and frowned. "What's wrong, hun?"

Lorelai leaned back against the wall and took a deep breath. "Luke is out there."

"I'm sorry; I thought you said Luke is out there."

"I did."

"But you called George," Sookie said dumbly.

"Yeah, but George didn't show up and Luke did! I don't even know how he…oh God," Lorelai moaned painfully. Her best friend put down her spoon and adjusted the heat on the stove, walking closer to her. "Oh God, oh God, oh God!"

"What is it, Lorelai?"

"Rory."

Sookie blinked, then widened her eyes. "Oh," she nodded slowly. Lorelai turned and stormed out of the kitchen, glad to see that her ex was no longer appraising the staircase. "Don't be too hard on her!" Sookie shouted. The brunette rolled her eyes and made a brief stop at the front desk to grab her purse, already pulling her keys out as she made her way to the Jeep.

--

Stepping out of her bedroom, she ran a towel through her hair to dry it and took a deep, satisfying breath. She pulled the towel away after a moment and ran her fingers through her wet hair, straightening it a little as she made her way into the living room. As Rory grabbed the remote from the top of the television, the front door burst open and she turned to see her mother standing there looking extremely pissed off. She blanched.

"How could you do something like that without asking me first?"

"You weren't going to ask him! I thought someone should before you went insane because Bob never showed up," she argued. Lorelai narrowed her eyes and threw her purse on the couch.

"First of all, his name is George, and second of all you had no right to do anything like that, Rory! Don't you understand? It hurts to be around Luke!"

"And it hurts me to be around Jess, but you don't see me screaming and ranting about it, do you?" Her eyes widened as soon as his name fell from her mouth, but she couldn't seem to make the sentence stop even after she realized her mistake. Lorelai stared at her in confusion.

"What does Jess have to do with—" she froze. Rory panicked and hit the remote against her thigh, a nervous habit that she hated but couldn't help.

"Luke needs someone right now," she said hastily. "I couldn't think of anyone else that he would be willing to accept support from, and Jess gave me his number when I went to Philadelphia to see him, and—"

"He gave you his number?"

A deep breath, "Yes."

"Why did he give you his number?"

Dropping the controller on the floor, Rory folded her arms across her chest and locked eyes with her mother. Now or never. "Because I showed up alone and he didn't know I was still with Logan until after we kissed."

Lorelai's jaw dropped, but other than that she had no reaction to the news of her daughter kissing her most-hated ex-boyfriend. Both women stood in silence for a brief moment before Lorelai turned and walked upstairs without another word. Rory deflated and sank down onto the coffee table, closing her eyes painfully tight when her cell phone rang.