Disclaimer: More a habit than a necessity.

This is based of a prompt for the very first OLC ficathon. I have been forced to keep it silent until this moment...and it's been rough. The idea was to write a story, at least one thousand words, about an irritable photographee, candy corn, a tattoo or piercing experience gone wrong and a reference to a TV commercial.

Feedback is appreciated. Enjoy!

Threads

She didn't know why she bothered doing this. It was stupid; it opened her up for disappointment and hurt and screaming matches. She hates herself every step of the way. She hates every moment she spent calling places on the phone, getting prices and available times. She hates every moment she spent getting ready, trying to look like a respectable mother instead of a kid. (Because she still is one, really.) She hates every moment that she spends thinking about them, knowing that she can't ever fix the fault lines that separate them. She hates that she is going to reach out anyway, knowing that they'll look upon it as some sort of failure. They'll pick it apart. She hates them for that.

She hates this stupid idea. But...

It seemed like a good idea, once. And she'll be damned if she doesn't go through with this one.

"Please, Rory?" she says, bordering on begging. "It's important. It'll take thirty seconds. I'll take you for ice cream after."

Rory drags her heels. She's irritable today. She doesn't want to be here. She knows Lorelai doesn't. Rory can't figure it out. "Mommy," she whispers, "I don't like pictures."

"I know, sweets. But please? Just once?"

"Mommy..."

Lorelai sighs. "Rory, it's only a few minutes. Okay? Then we have some nice pictures for your grandmother to put up. You're getting so old; she won't know what you look like at Thanksgiving."

"But Mommy!"

"Rory, no buts." Lorelai starts walking again.

Rory starts walking again – she has no choice, does she? – and Lorelai can feel the resistance. She can feel her mid-afternoon caffeine withdrawal headache coming on. She can feel the future. A future that involves fighting and her being miserable and her daughter refusing to speak to her. Or as much silent treatment that a four year old can deliver. She needs some Advil. Right now.

The chirpy girl at the desk has a voice that manages to corkscrew its way into the centre of Lorelai's head throbbing. "Hi!" she says. "How are you today?"

"Fine, thanks," Lorelai grumbles. Wonderful. I'm going to love this. "I booked an appointment...Rory Gilmore?"

"Rory Gilmore?" the girl replies, and Lorelai thinks, She's older than I am. "Four-thirty?"

"Yes," Lorelai says.

"Great!" The girl claps her hands together. Lorelai winces, and Rory tries to hide. Oh, fun. I think this will go on the Top 10 List of Completely Moronic Things to Do. Number four, taking your kid to get pictures done for your parents, who hate your guts.

Coffee, dammit. I need coffee.

"Come on, Rory," she says. "It's just right over there."

"Mommy," Rory whispers. "I don't want to."

"Rory."

Her lower lip juts out, and Lorelai sighs. "Rory," she repeats. "Please?"

Rory scuffs her feet as the photographer guides her into a chair. She looks like she wants to pull away and Lorelai moans.

Leaning against the wall looks comfy. She'll do anything to alleviate this pain and boredom and feeling of not wanting to be here. She could have decided no. It's pride. Over something stupid, keeping the pair of them in this stupid studio.

Getting photos for her parents of her daughter seemed like a good plan. Some nice ones to mix in with the candids. Perfect, posed, pristine photos...to prove what? That she can play by their rules to some extent?

It would be nice to have at least one photograph of Rory where she isn't drooling. Emily's voice murmurs in her ear, poisonous, cold, inflicting damage when it shouldn't. Last holiday. What was it? The fourth of July? (Why?) She pushes those memories of false family celebrations out of her mind.

Lorelai sighs. She's never going to rid herself of that compulsion to please.

Snap, and she's back on Earth. Rory is squirming in the chair. The photographer looks like she's about to crack. The assistant from the desk is fluttering around, all high-voiced and grating.

Hmm. Maybe Lorelai should be doing something to help out?

She strides across the room, pushing chirpy girl out of the way. "Lorelai Leigh Gilmore," she says. Rory's eyes get big. "Rory, hon, I asked you to be still and get your picture taken."

"You said it would be fast," Rory says.

Lorelai shuts her eyes. Like mother, like daughter. She has millions of memories of photos getting taken, over the years. Kindergarten. Christmastime. Birthdays. and the last, her coming out picture.

She saved herself from that one.

"I know you don't like it," Lorelai begins. "I don't like it either. If you sit still, it'll go faster. Okay?"

Rory nods, but she's still on the verge of mutiny. "Remember the ice cream," Lorelai says, trying to smile.

"Okay." Rory climbs up in the chair, and Lorelai lets out another sigh. Rory is not openly bratty. But sometimes, being slightly whiny and irritable is harder to deal with.

This is more annoying than that tourism commercial. What was it? Eight-double-zero-five-six-five… She banishes it. Her stupid ideas are bad enough without the torture of bad TV on one trip.

She wonders if she has any change for ice cream. She rummages through her purse. Keys. Lipstick. Band-Aids. Candy corn. Wallet. She pulls out the candy corn. "I don't want to know how long that has been in there," she mumbles.

"What's that?" Rory asks, moving just as the flash goes off.

"Nothing, sweets." Lorelai leans over to the photographer. "I'm sorry."

"It's fine." The photographer clenches her jaw.

"It's kind of reminding me of that time that I went to the tattoo parlour with my friend Josie and she got her belly button pierced – except that she made me hold her hand, and I passed out. Then it got ripped out two months later when she was playing basketball." Lorelai stops. "I'm sorry. That you have to deal with this."

"We're almost done."

"Oh. Right." She steps back.

Flash. Rory smiles. Flash again, and the last photo is taken. Perfect. Rory scampers off of her chair, smiling widely at Lorelai.

Lorelai grins back.

Done.