A/N: I may be ridiculously slow but I do not lie. I promised I would finish and I have. Just took me 3 years. ;) I only hope it was even somewhat worth the wait. Thank you all for the encouragement and feedback over the last few years and for sticking with me. I treasure every word, believe me.
And of course, huge thanks to Mags for the invaluable beta help on the last few chapters. All remaining issues are mine alone.
Three generations of Gilmore women sat silently around the large dining table, each focused intently on the food in front of them. The sounds of forks and knives gently clattering against the delicate china accompanied soft music that played in the background. The silence was making Lorelai uneasy and she shifted in her seat, a sigh escaping her lips.
"Lorelai, please," her mother admonished as she took a sip of her wine.
She murmured a quiet apology and glanced at Rory who was seated across from her. She saw the pointed look her daughter was giving her and shook her head once, a warning on her face.
"So, Grandma," Rory said, her lips pursed in annoyance as she turned her attention to the older woman. "Mom said Grandpa had a doctor's appointment this morning?"
Emily delicately wiped her mouth with the linen and smiled over at her granddaughter. "Yes, he did. It went very well. His doctor is pleased with his recovery and said he is healing right on schedule."
"Dad not feeling up to joining us for dinner tonight?" Lorelai asked.
"He's sleeping," Emily stated, picking up her fork again. "I didn't want to wake him."
Lorelai nodded and silence descended around the room once again.
"Rory, tell me, how's Logan?" Emily asked after a moment.
"He's great. He's doing so well with his new job. I think he's surprised himself at how much he's enjoying it."
"That's wonderful! He is a very bright boy. I see big things for his future," Emily said with a smile. She then turned her attention to Lorelai. "And how are things at the Dragonfly?"
"Business is booming."
"Good," Emily said. "And Sookie? How is she doing?"
"Nobody can destroy a kitchen like Sookie can," Lorelai said with a grin.
"Oh, well, alright," her mother said, a curious look on her face but apparently deciding not to pursue. "Anything else going on in your little town I should know about?"
"Um, no?" Lorelai said, wincing as she felt a sharp kick to her shin. She sent a reproachful look across the table. "Nothing of note."
I'm just not ready yet, she kept thinking all night. Earlier tonight Lorelai had sat in her car a couple houses down from her parent's while she waited until she saw Rory's car pull into the drive. She hadn't done that in quite some time but she just was not ready to brave her mother tonight on her own. Even though Emily appeared to be okay with the idea of her and Luke back together, she wasn't ready to risk finding out otherwise despite her promise to Luke. Because one thing she'd learned growing up a Gilmore was that nothing could be fully trusted in this house.
She knew she had to tell them and soon, but she just isn't sure she was ready for whatever reaction was waiting for the reveal. Besides, they'd already agreed not to mention the upcoming divorce to Richard, as Emily feared it would upset him too soon after the surgery. Lorelai had readily agreed. Probably more for the relief at getting to put the potential unpleasantness aside for awhile than for noble reasons such as her father's health, but she would only admit that to herself.
When nobody spoke again, she glanced over to her right to find Emily staring at her over the edge of her wine glass.
"What?" she muttered, glancing back down at her plate.
Emily shook her head. "Nothing."
Lorelai narrowed her eyes as she watched out of the corner of her eye as her mother attempted innocence and took a sip of her wine. She knew that supposed innocent look. It was the look of trouble for sure.
"I spoke to Francine yesterday," Emily said, completely out of the blue as she continued to eat.
Lorelai's head snapped up. "What?"
"She called yesterday to check on Richard."
"Um, ok," Lorelai said with a shake to her head. "Thanks for the news bulletin."
"She said Christopher was close to finding a permanent place to live."
"Good for him," she muttered as she used her fork to make track marks in the gravy.
"She wanted to get together for lunch one day and catch up. I think having Christopher and Gigi there for awhile has helped her a lot. She's been a bit of a recluse ever since Straub died. She's apparently been getting out of the house a lot more lately, going with them to the park and such."
"I'm very happy for her," Lorelai said with sarcasm she didn't even try to hide as she practically stabbed a carrot with her fork. She glanced over at Rory who was currently attempting to bore actual holes through her plate with her eyes.
"Have you talked to your father, Rory?" Emily asked.
Rory's head jerked up in surprise and she glanced at her mother before responding. "Yeah, we've had dinner a couple times actually."
"Oh, that's wonderful. How do you think he's doing?"
"Um, well, he's okay. I guess. Gigi keeps him pretty busy."
"Mmm, I'm sure. And your friend Lane? She's been married now about a year now?"
Lorelai's eyes narrowed as she listened to her mother's sudden interrogation.
"Yes," Rory shifted slightly in her seat. "She's doing fine. They're expecting twins in a few months."
"Well, my goodness! Twins! How fabulous. The Stinson's girl had twins last year. You remember Jessica, don't you Lorelai?"
"Nope." Lorelai continued to stab at her food.
"She just got remarried a couple years ago."
"Good for her," Lorelai muttered.
"It was quite the scandal, actually. Had everyone in an uproar for months but I suppose it eventually blew over. Oh, and Sally and Carl's son, I always forget his name," Emily paused a moment, her fingers tapping lightly on the table. "Well, anyway, he just got married, though she's quite homely looking if you ask me. It's no wonder Sally changes the subject when she comes up."
"Well, she's not very pleasant to look at. Though I'm sure she's quite nice all the same. Let's see, what else is going on? Oh, the Londons' moved to Florida!"
"Who?" Lorelai asked.
"You remember Jaquelyn and Mark London. We used to have dinner all the time when you were young. They had a daughter close to your age. Dreadful child," Emily said with a shake of her head. "Mark retired and they decided to pack up and move south to enjoy the sun."
"Yes. I'm sure it is. And there's a new stylist at my salon. Adam's wife went to see her and let's just say she's not left the house since, the poor thing. It's just terrible."
"Mom, what are you doing?" Lorelai finally asked.
"You're like the National Enquirer for the Hartford snobs all of a sudden."
"I am simply sharing information. I thought you'd like to be informed of what is going on in your hometown. Oh, the Hammils' adopted the cutest little Yorkshire Terrier you ever did see a few weeks ago. I'm not much for dogs, though he is just adorable. Though not very bright, I must say. I actually saw him run away in fright from some leaves blowing towards him. Richard and I had quite a laugh. And I do believe that their daughter Molly got a new car for her birthday. It's blue."
"Mom," Rory muttered under her breath, nudging her leg with her shoe. "Please."
Lorelai sighed and leaned forward in her chair, folding her arms on the table in front of her. "Ok, fine. You win, Mom. Luke and I are back together."
Emily sat back with a satisfied smirk. "Thank you. Now, was that so hard?"
Lorelai glared at her mother and just shook her head. "If you already knew, why not just say something?"
"Because I wanted to hear it from you, Lorelai. Is that so hard to understand? That I might actually want to know about the changes in my daughter's life from her own mouth for a change? I'm tired of finding out important details from strangers. If you had your way, I'd learn of a new grandchild through the newspaper!"
"Oh come on, Mother. I think my waddle would give it away before then."
"Don't be cute, Lorelai. It's hurtful and I'm tired of it."
"Oh, and you haven't been hurtful towards me? You play a part in this, too, you know. There's a reason I don't want to tell you things. It's simply self-preservation."
"Self-preservation? Everything is always so dramatic with you. What –"
"You know, I felt a little confused when I woke up."
They all turned and looked up at Richard in surprise as he walked into the dining room.
"I wasn't exactly sure what day it was at first. But judging by the familiar sounds of arguing, I must say that it has to be Friday night."
"Grandpa!" Rory exclaimed and jumped up to give her grandfather a hug. "I'm so glad you could join us tonight!"
"Richard, you should be resting," Emily exclaimed as she helped him get seated in his chair and called out to have a plate sent out for Mr. Gilmore. "I'd have had Maria send up a plate to you."
"I've rested enough, Emily, thank you," he said. "I can't stand to stay in that bed any longer. I'd like to have dinner with my family, if you wouldn't mind."
"Alright, Richard," she acquiesced. "Just don't over-do it, please."
"I promise," he agreed with a patient smile, which set Lorelai even more on edge if possible. "Now, tell me what I missed. What were you two fighting about?"
"Nothing, Dad," Lorelai said, dismissing the question with a wave of her hand. "How are you feeling? It's good to see you up and around."
"Thank you, I'm feeling just fine. And I don't believe you. Come on, tell me what I've missed."
"Really, Richard. It was a silly little argument, which is completely over with now. Wasn't appropriate for the dinner table at all. Oh good, here's your dinner now," Emily dismissed the subject as she watched Maria hurry in with a plate for her husband.
"Rory, humor your grandfather, please," he asked while he placed his napkin into his lap. "Fill me in on the gossip. I'm not near as fragile as people seem to think."
"Um, well?" Rory stammered, shooting her mom a pleading look.
"Dad," Lorelai began, taking pity on her daughter. "We were just discussing some, well, changes in my life lately." She ignored the glare she knew she was receiving from Emily.
"Aww, I presume you are referring to your upcoming divorce?" he asked, his tone curiously light as he placed his napkin in his lap. At Emily's gasp of surprise, he said with a small smile, "I'm not always asleep when you think I am, Emily."
Lorelai and Emily exchanged stunned expressions. "I'm sorry, Dad. We were waiting to – we just didn't want to upset you, is all."
"While I appreciate the sentiment, it's completely unnecessary. Now, have you already contacted a lawyer? I'll make a call if you would like me to."
"Oh, well, that's not necessary, Dad. We've got it handled. But…thank you?" She paused as she nervously played with a strand of her hair. "So, you're okay with this?"
"Okay with it?" Richard asked. "Well, that's taking things a few steps too far. I wouldn't call this 'okay'. Resigned is a better word for it."
"Oh, right." She looked over at her mother and Emily shrugged her shoulders slightly.
"I can't say I'm all that surprised, really. I didn't exactly see it lasting. You're impulsiveness tends to get you into trouble generally. However, I've recently learned that life is short if you'll pardon the cliché. We just have to make the best of things and simply keep moving forward."
"Well, in the interest of moving forward and full disclosure," she said glancing over at her mother with a pointed look, "you should also know that Luke and I are back together."
"Now that," Richard said with a grin, "I also saw coming. Congratulations. Be sure to let us know of any important dates we may need to plan around as soon as possible so that we might arrange our summer travel plans accordingly, alright?" Richard gave Lorelai a subtle wink before turning to Rory. "Now Rory, tell me what I've missed at Yale."
"This dinner has taken a very weird turn," Lorelai muttered. Emily nodded in quiet agreement as they exchanged confused glances.
Later that night, she sat at the counter at the diner and finished off the last of the pie as Luke closed up.
"So they are officially in the know," she told him after relaying the evening's events.
Luke nodded as he finished putting the last of the chairs on top of the tables. "That's great."
"Yeah, it's a relief to have it all out in the open. Now we can hopefully truly move forward. You mind?" she asked, holding up her coffee cup as she hopped down and headed around the counter, not bothering to wait for his reply.
"Hey, what are you doing tomorrow?" Luke asked suddenly, not looking up as he began to sweep the floor.
"Mmmm," she murmured between sips. "We have a wedding in the morning and the reception in the afternoon. I should be free by dinner, though. You planning on taking me out on some hot date?" she teased.
"Can someone else deal with the wedding stuff or do you have to?"
"Well, maybe. Why?"
"Um, well," he said, suddenly sounding nervous. "I was actually wondering if…"
"What?" she prodded.
He smiled at her, suddenly sheepish. "I was just thinking, if you wanted, that you could spend the day with me and April."
She felt her eyebrows rise before she could stop them. "Spend the day? With April?" she whispered, hating herself for the trepidation she was suddenly experiencing.
"Yeah, only if you want to," Luke stressed. "The move is coming up in a couple weeks and she's got some school stuff to deal with before that and so I think this might be the last real day with her I get before she comes to visit during the summer and well…"
She stood and walked over to stand in front of him. "Luke, if it's your last day with her, I think you should be with her. Just the two of you. I don't want to interfere with that."
"Stop," Luke said, grabbing her hand. "You would not be interfering. I want you there. You're my family, just as much as she is. I want you two to get to know each other. It's important to me. It should have been important to me back then but I was stupid and blind. I know now that I don't need to wait for some stupid marriage certificate to tell me who my family is."
Lorelai felt herself nearly freeze. "Marriage certificate?" she whispered, her eyes wide.
Luke gave a slight shrug of his shoulders and a sheepish smile. "Well, yeah, I mean, that's where we're going with this, right? I mean, I know we're not ready to run off and do it tomorrow or anything, but that's kind of where I thought…"
"We are," she said, nodding her head and unable to stop the grin that threatened to split her face in two. "It is. I mean, yeah, that's where we're going." She realized she probably closely resembled one of those bobblehead dolls and finally forced her head to stop the incessant nodding. The smile, though, this she couldn't stop nor did she want to even try.
"Good," he said, relieved. "So, tomorrow? Think you can get away?"
"Tell you what," she said after she regained the ability to formulate actual words. She wrapped her arms around his waist and smiled up at him. "Why don't you guys do something just the two of you during the day, and I'll make sure I'm done at the inn by five at the latest and can meet up with you then? Dinner and a movie?"
"Sounds perfect," he whispered, pressing a gentle kiss to her forehead before pulling her against him in a hug.
Perfect.Her lips formed the word silently as she closed her eyes. She could almost hear the actual sounds that were the scrambled pieces of her former life snapping firmly back into place. She wasn't naïve enough to think everything was all better now, she knew there would be plenty of rough roads still to tread for them ahead, but for the first time in years she was convinced that they'd make it through.
Yeah, I can't believe it either.