A/N: It's the third part to the series that brought you "The Gilmore Handbook" and "Danes Family Album"! Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, "Preservations of a Fledgling Future". Takes place just about two years after "Danes Family Album" ended. Please see read "The Gilmore Handbook" and "Danes Family Album" in order before starting this one up. This format was inspired by a recent collab effort with AudiRox.
Big shout out to Reggie, the girl that gets a pretty dedication for helping me with two humungous hurdles to start this one. Thank you! Without you this would be a plot bunny. And as much as we love bunnies, I prefer that plot bunnies become stories. Read on, I hope I made you proud!
Rory pulled her keys out of her purse and unlocked the front door of the Crap Shack. Walking inside, she listened to figure out where everyone was. The house was completely silent. She looked around the house, stepping over Paul Anka as she did. It had seen some major changes in the past few years, but it still felt like 'home'. Working in Hartford, so close to Lorelai, Luke, Kylie, and baby Noah, allowed her to live her own adult life. But coming back to Stars Hollow every night, and living just down the street from the house she grew up in, suddenly seemed so important.
She clutched the box in her hand and peeked around the corner for her mother and her step-father. Her first instinct told her to call for them, but after an accidental wake up for Kylie that followed a rough night, she learned her lesson. Rory walked into the kitchen and smiled as she saw Luke standing in front of the stove.
"Hey, Luke," she said, waving.
Luke turned around. "Hey, Rory, I didn't know you were coming over," he said, giving his stepdaughter a hug.
She smiled. "Well, it is your anniversary, and I wanted to make sure you guys got a present. I've been working on it for awhile and I have a feeling you'll love it."
"You know we don't need anything, Rory," Luke insisted, placing a pancake on a plate and handing it to her.
"Look, you even feed me when I come over here. I think it's the least I can do," she said with a smile. "Mom still sleeping?"
He nodded. "Noah kept us up all night last night, I figured she probably wanted to sleep in."
"Aww," Rory said, smiling slightly at the thought of her baby brother.
"Yeah, he's not so cute at two in the morning," Luke grumbled.
Rory giggled. "You love it."
"Do you need syrup for your pancakes?" Luke offered, ignoring her comment.
"Absolutely," Rory said with a smile, accepting the syrup. "Thank you."
Luke poured her a cup of coffee and it took Rory all the strength she had not to snatch it from his hands. She locked her eyes on it and picked up the mug as soon as he placed it on the table, being as careful as possible and trying not to look desperate. She held it beneath her nose for a moment, taking in the familiar smell before taking a sip and placing it back on the table. She turned to Luke, who watched the whole process unfold.
"You're just like your mother," he said, shaking his head and returning to the stove.
"From the moment I was thought of," she added, taking a bite of the pancake.
At that moment, a very sleepy Lorelai emerged from upstairs, carrying an extremely peppy and babbling Kylie. She plopped the little girl in Rory's lap, gave Rory a quick kiss on the cheek and ruffled Kylie's hair before giving an obligatory wave and disappearing upstairs again.
"Whoa, some night she must have had," Rory teased, pulling Kylie closer to her.
Luke nodded. "She fully remembers the promise I made her last night to let her sleep in, but apparently she doesn't remember kicking me in the shin at about four."
Rory smiled. "It's extremely convenient, you realize. Women remember what they choose to remember, and that's it."
"Convenient for women," Luke said. "I'm the one left with the bruising."
"She looks just like Mom, doesn't she?" Rory asked, gesturing to the little girl in her lap.
Luke nodded. "That's what all the nurses on the maternity ward said when she swore Kylie looked just like me. Apparently there was a 20-1 vote, your mother being the only 'nay' sayer."
"She likes to go against the crowd," Rory teased.
"You're telling me," Luke said.
The two talked for a few minutes until they heard thumping on the stairs. Luke instinctively got out of his seat, poured a second cup of coffee, and held it out to Lorelai as she entered the kitchen. She took a sip and looked at Luke. "Happy anniversary," she croaked. "Sorry I kicked you in the shin."
Rory nearly spit out her coffee as she tried to swallow and laugh at the same time. "Looks like her memory's great to me," she teased Luke, smiling.
"It's okay. Happy anniversary," Luke replied, leaning in to kiss her. "Rory's here."
Lorelai nodded. "That she is. You're up early, sweets."
Rory shrugged. "I'm still running on adrenaline from last night, it was a huge newsroom night."
"Well, we're glad you're here, despite the time," Luke added, placing a plate of pancakes in front of Lorelai.
"You're pretty," Lorelai said, grinning at Luke.
"How's Noah?" Luke replied.
Lorelai smiled. "Sleeping. I'll wake him up and torture him in about five minutes, he needs to be awakened in the middle of a deep sleep too. Payback. Kylie and Rory were such quiet babies, what happened?"
"You gave him your DNA," Luke deadpanned.
Rory giggled as she watched the interaction between Lorelai and Luke. The past few years had been so full of happiness for the Gilmore-Danes crew, and it obviously hadn't worn off yet. She took the last bite of her pancake and stood up, positioning Kylie on her hip and grabbing the wrapped present with her free hand. "When you guys are ready, come on into the living room, I have a present for you."
Lorelai nodded. "We'll be in momentarily," she replied, shoving a large bite of pancake in her mouth.
"You still have all your breakfast," Luke pointed out.
Lorelai shook her head, swallowing her pancake and chasing it with a sip of coffee. "When it involves presents, I can eat so fast you won't know what hit you."
"You already eat fast," Luke pointed out.
"I can eat faster," she replied. "You saw me at the pie eating contest."
"Present's waiting," Rory called. "Right, Kylie?"
Kylie giggled and nodded. "Yeah, yeah!" she replied eagerly, crawling into Rory's lap.
"It's still going to be there when you're done eating," Luke insisted.
Lorelai shoveled the last bite of pancake into her mouth and jogged out into the living room, scooping Kylie out of Rory's lap on the way. "I love presents."
"I'll go get Noah," Luke said, making his way upstairs.
Rory laughed. "You guys are intense with the little ones," she teased.
Lorelai shrugged. "Kylie will get bored and want to color in about ten minutes. She can sit there and color all day, that will keep her busy while we open the present."
"You guys got all day? Because if I do say so myself, this present's really awesome," Rory said with a wink.
"We have as much time as is needed. Luke has the day off," she said with a nod.
Rory grinned. "That's so nice, you get to spend your anniversary together."
"Yeah, but the real fun doesn't start until later," Lorelai said, nudging Rory.
"Oh, gross! I think you two have done plenty of that for a lifetime, remember Noah?"
Lorelai burst into giggles. "The initial denial from Luke was totally priceless. 'But we said we were only going to have one!' It was hysterical."
"And now look at him," Rory said, motioning to the stairs. "Shock wore off and Noah melted Luke."
"Are you guys talking about me?" Luke asked, carrying a sleeping Noah downstairs.
Lorelai grinned. "With the adorable picture you're giving us right now, how couldn't we?"
"All right, all right, enough of the chit chat, let's get down to business," Rory said. "You both have a present to open."
Picking Kylie up and getting her settled with crayons and a coloring book on the floor nearby, Lorelai clapped her hands. "Can I open it? You kind of have your hands full," she pointed out.
Luke nodded. "You're obviously going to explode if you don't," he grunted.
Lorelai ripped the paper off of the box, and pulled the top off even faster. She pulled out a blue book, turning it around and around and inspecting its exterior. "Preservations of a fledgling future. Very poetic," Lorelai noted. "Oh, wow, old newspaper clippings! How did you get these?"
"It's a book full of articles pertaining to important moments in the family history. I used my influence as assistant political editor at the Courant to swing access to the archives. It kind of grew to be a bigger project than I expected," she said, timidly.
"You're telling me, sweets, this thing weighs a ton," Lorelai insisted.
Rory giggled. "It's not THAT heavy."
"Luke, look, isn't that nice?" Lorelai said, showing Luke the book.
Watching Luke and Lorelai inspect the book, Rory thought about the efforts she went through to compile the articles for them. It all started with a simple request to gain a copy of their wedding announcement to be framed, which would be part of a bigger present. As Taylor practically gave her the keys to the Stars Hollow Gazette newspaper office, her passion for journalism took over. She was suddenly glad she had stopped by so early, because a simple search took months as the project grew.
To the Gilmore-Danes household, books were important. The first one, the rulebook, meant the world to Rory and Lorelai. The second, the photo album, was extremely important to Luke. The third, the book that contained the family's past, present, and future, could possibly mean the most to all three of them.
Rory watched as they opened the book and scanned the headline of the first article.