A/N: Yes, people, yes, Java has finally broken down and started an ADULT rated story. You are not hallucinating. It's completely, 100 real. On to the important stuff. This is my piece for the "Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda" ficathon... "Kill Me Now" was my assigned episode, and man, this took forever to figure out! Thanks to Filo and Robinpoppins for organizing the ficathon and for thinking of me when I totally screwed up and didn't know that a ficathon was going on. So... enjoy the story, especially the ending! ADULT RATING IS FOR A REASON...
Lorelai pulled the sides of her sweater close together as her stomach gurgled its disapproval of being neglected for so long. It was a little too chilly for such a thin sweater, but the weatherman said it was supposed to be unseasonably sunny and warm. The sweater had called her name from the clearance rack a week prior, so it was the first, and probably last, opportunity she would have had to wear it that season. Shivering, she regretted being overzealous in trying to push one more summery outfit into the early fall.
She smiled as she approached the yellow coffee cup sign outside the diner. It was the only place she wanted to be after a long day at the inn. Lorelai walked into Luke's, taking a seat across from Rory. Shivering and rubbing her hands up and down her arms, she looked across the diner at Luke, who was busy with another customer. Turning her attention from Luke to Rory, Lorelai could sense that Rory was upset about something. The look on Rory's face was not a happy one, by any means. It wasn't uncommon since Rory had started attending Chilton, but this was a completely new combination of looks.
She stared at her daughter for a moment, trying to interpret the facial expression. Rory looked tired, frustrated, and confused all at once. Lorelai could immediately recognize the emotions, but she would have to dig to find the culprit. She pulled in her chair and folded her cold hands on the cold surface of the table, looking to get to the bottom of things.
"What's wrong, sweets?" she inquired, absently playing with a broken fingernail.
Rory said nothing, but handed her mother a thin brochure. Lorelai took one look at it and laughed. She quickly covered her mouth and tried to stifle her amusement as she accepted the brochure. Rory was roped into something… what it was, she wasn't sure. Lorelai had a feeling that she would have to hide her amusement extremely well. "The Chilton sports brochure?"
"Believe me, I was just as surprised as you are," Rory muttered, picking at a string on the sleeve of her sweater.
"Hon, if a sport is the only thing missing from your college application, you'll certainly be better off than the others."
"I have to play a sport," Rory replied, sipping her coffee. "For credit. Stupid Chilton."
Lorelai cringed. Rory was fairly coordinated, but sports were never her calling. Sports weren't Lorelai's favorite pastime either. Lorelai probably passed on her lack of athletic ability to Rory. Rory was trying hard to adjust to Chilton as it was… and Rory's requirement to play a sport came along to complicate the situation.
It was about time for some coffee. Lorelai waved at Luke, hoping to get his attention, but he completely passed her by. Frustrated, Lorelai rolled the brochure in her hands. She thought of any alternative she could. "Well, maybe they have a salsa dancing class you can try? Dancing is a sport, right? I can whip out my Gloria Estefan greatest hits album and we can have a salsa party. With salsa and chips. We could even watch Spanish soap operas without the subtitles."
"Salsa dancing, along with any other kind of dancing, is out."
"I don't know, they probably don't think dancing is a sport."
"Well, don't try yoga, that's for sure. Yoga kills," Lorelai said with a nod. "Where is Luke? I need withdrawal symptoms like I need a hole in the head."
"He's been busy all night," Rory answered, sipping the last of her coffee. "Back to my problem, please?"
"What, your sports issue is more important than my lack of caffeine? Please."
"They have a list in that little packet of what I can choose from," Rory explained. "I don't think there's a single sport in there that I know a thing about."
Opening the brochure, Lorelai skimmed the background information about the credits and went straight for the list. "Pick a letter, any letter, and I'll introduce you to the wide, wide world of sports you never knew existed," she teased. "Some of these have funny names."
"I wish I could get out of this," Rory grumbled. "I mean, I'd even try a Sanskrit class. I'd do choir, or maybe an art class. Anything but sports."
"We could try having Mrs. Kim go into Chilton and condemn the sports program," Lorelai mused. "We could convert and start going to their services, and have their pastor sign a form saying that playing a sport is against your religion, and we could sue for religious discrimination if they make you play. We could pay Luke to give us coffee first when we walk in."
Rory sighed. "Somehow I don't think that will work, especially because we're not Korean. And Luke's not going to accept extra money to serve us first. Your plan is pretty much useless."
"You had to get all logical on me, didn't you? Okay, back to your dilemma."
"What are my choices? Let me rephrase that. Okay, what are my choices besides becoming a Seventh Day Adventist and having to make our own secret floorboards?"
Lorelai flipped through the brochure and jerked her hand back suddenly. "Ow!" she said, looking down at her finger. "See, it's a sign from God, Rory! I'm bleeding! I got a paper cut and this is a clear message that you should not attempt any outdoor physical recreational activities."
"Ha ha," Rory replied, unenthused. "I'd rather not get on their bad side. Let's avoid that if at all possible. Pick a sport, any sport, that sounds do-able and I'll try it."
"Do-able," Lorelai snickered. "Dirty." She looked at the brochure, glancing from the pictures of girls in their gym uniforms to the list of sports offered at Chilton. Rory was right; starting off on a bad note by refusing to play sports wasn't going to get Rory into Harvard. She closed her eyes and arbitrarily picked a letter. "Okay. We've got… Jugger. Apparently you use pool noodles, and you start… I don't know. It looks like you hit people, or the ball, with these giant noodles."
"Korfball… wait, that's not a sport native to the United States, let's at least get you a sport with a funny name that started here," Lorelai insisted.
Rory sighed. "I just need a sport that I can get a crash course in, and soon. I can wait to take the actual class until spring semester because teams are already picked for the fall semester. I just need to choose one, and show that I've 'demonstrated my abilities' for the coach. That means I need to be able to do something in one of these sports by the end of the week. Then I get to let it stew until spring. I wonder if I would still earn credit for the course if I injured myself. It's a likely possibility."
"Demonstrating your abilities, well that's another DIRTY! And you know, that's a good question, I'd say twist that ankle the first day," Lorelai said, looking up from the brochure and flashing a smile, trying to get her daughter to look on the bright side. Lorelai could sense Rory's hesitation, so she closed the brochure. "Sweets, Harvard will look at you and go, 'wow, this kid has everything, and she sucked up a semester of gym to do it.' You'll get it over with and you won't have to do it again."
"Okay," Rory said with a nod. "Sounds like a good idea. Just find me a good sport."
"Well, we're going to try, aren't we?" she replied, picking up the brochure once again. "Let's try alphabetical order. Archery."
Rory cringed. "I don't even want to attempt that. All I can picture is a William Tell type of situation gone wrong, and that would be really bad."
"Duly noted. Okay, then, well, we also have beach rugby, beach handball, beach soccer… is this actually on a beach? You could get a tan," Lorelai said, raising her eyebrows.
"Obviously not," Rory said, reaching for a French fry. "I think it's a giant sand pit."
Lorelai pouted, looking around the diner for Luke. She had tried to get Luke's attention several times already and was snubbed each time. She wasn't going to be ignored again. "Well, that's only fun when you're four. Luke! Coffee, please?"
"I think this is dumb," Rory said, taking the brochure from Lorelai and flipping through it once more. "I mean, if I want to be Christiane Amanpour, why do I need to know how to shoot a big orange bouncy ball through a circle thing with a net? It's not going to be something that makes or breaks my survival in foxholes."
Ignoring Rory's rant, Lorelai nodded and grunted in agreement, tilting her head to the side and watching Luke's every move. The aroma of coffee was dancing under her nose, almost teasing her, but Luke was on the other side of his establishment, taking someone's order. She crossed her legs, bit her cheek and crossed her arms. If her frustration wasn't already apparent, it would become more so momentarily. She had gotten used to being paid attention to from the moment she walked into the diner. And there Luke was, taking someone else's order.
"Are you listening, Mom?"
Lorelai nodded. "Yeah, I think it's stupid, but it's Chilton, right?"
Her response bought a little more time to inwardly question why Luke wasn't bringing her coffee. He would pay for this, Lorelai thought to herself. Her need for coffee was growing stronger by the second, and her patience was long gone. Suddenly, she connected Rory's crisis with the man who seemed to be far too preoccupied to serve her coffee. Luke was a sports guy; he would have an answer for Rory. There would be a sport for her, and Luke was going to suggest it.
She giggled slightly and straightened up in her chair. This could be the grounds for reconciliation. Rory and Luke having a conversation about sports would absolutely make her day. She grinned as she imagined the situation unfolding. Luke would ask Rory about a sports term, Rory would be confused, and Lorelai would sit back, sipping her coffee and enjoying the show.
And suddenly her daydream was over. Luke walked over to Lorelai, pouring her the long awaited cup of coffee. "You know what you want to order?"
"Busy tonight, huh?" Lorelai asked, taking the brochure from Rory and placing it on the table.
Luke nodded. "Yeah, one would be able to figure that out due to the volume of customers in the establishment. What can I get you?"
Completing the "B" column of Rory's brochure, she placed it on the table and turned to face Luke. She thought for a moment about her order, and then something made her pick the brochure up again. Her idea for Luke's peace offering that he didn't know he had to make was evolving. Lorelai flipped quickly through the pages, looked at the "B" column once more, and looked up at Luke, grinning. "Baseball starts with 'B', Rory! And look! Right over here, we have your instructor, Coach Danes! I'll bet he provides coffee to the spectators and fans as well."
"Whatever you're trying to get me to do, the answer's no," Luke muttered, pulling out his ordering pad and a pencil. "Seriously, are you going to order? You said it yourself, I'm busy tonight."
Lorelai sighed. "Luke, Rory has to get a crash course in a sport by Friday. And you're the only one who would be willing to work with her to get her a passing grade. You play baseball. Teach Rory."
"I never said I was willing," Luke replied defensively. "And it's a complicated sport."
"It can't be that difficult," Lorelai scoffed. "And if you teach her, I'll forgive your lack of interest in serving me my coffee in a decent time frame."
"Baseball's a spring sport, Rory," Luke said, turning to the younger Gilmore. "And wouldn't you want to try something a little less… intense?"
Rory shrugged. "I just want to pass gym. I just need the basics by Friday to show the coach and then I can play next spring."
Luke took off his baseball cap, holding it in his hand and scratching his head. He placed the baseball cap back on his head and rolled his eyes. "You aren't giving me a choice here, are you?"
Lorelai took a long sip of coffee. She knew Luke was only pretending to be aggravated by her request, but she decided to play mind games with him again. After all, it was amusing watching him rant. "Have you seen 'Pretty Woman'?"
"Why would I have seen 'Pretty Woman'?" he grumbled.
"Well, anyway. There's this scene when Julia Roberts goes into a department store after she's transformed from a prostitute to a 'lady'. And she gets all this help that she didn't get before."
"Is there a point to this story, or am I going to have to figure out what you want to eat by osmosis?"
"So there's this salesman guy. And the guy is helping Julia Roberts try on her shoes and Julia says 'Wow, Edward would love that tie!' Then the salesman takes it off because the manager tells him to give it to her to give to Richard Gere."
"Why would she give the tie to Richard Gere?" Luke asked.
"Because he is Edward in this movie. But anyway, the guy takes off the tie, after the manager yells at him. That's about how much of a choice you have at this very moment."
"I'm guessing that's none at all."
"You are correct," Lorelai said with a nod. "Come on, Luke. This is for Rory's future. If Rory doesn't get into Harvard, and it was because of this one stupid sports requirement, I'm coming to you and making you feel guilty about this for the rest of your life. And then you'll be driven to such extreme amounts of guilt you shut yourself up in a closet for the rest of your life and agonize over this decision, leaving me coffeeless. This is a lose-lose situation if you say no."
Luke rolled his eyes. "Fine. I'll help you learn to play baseball."
"Thank you, Luke," Rory said with a genuine smile. "Seriously, you won't regret helping me. I'm not going to waste any time, I'll practice, and I'll be a really good student."
"Do you have anything going on tomorrow after school?"
"What's tomorrow, Thursday? Oh, no, is one day going to be enough time? What if I forget everything? What if I can't even comprehend all of this material in one day? You said it yourself, baseball is a complicated sport!"
"Relax, it's not that hard. We can meet up at the softball field and I'll help you out."
Rory let out a huge sigh of relief. "You're coming with me, you know," she said to Lorelai, who had folded the brochure into a paper airplane and was preparing it for takeoff.
Lorelai sighed. "I'm coming with you?"
"You knew you were going to anyway," Rory shrugged. "You're all about the 'A League of Their Own' references."
"Minus Stillwell Angel and you've got yourself a deal, sister," Lorelai said with a nod.
"I don't know of any annoying brats I can bring along yet, so I think that's a given," Rory teased.
Luke cleared his throat. "So are you going to order now or should I go to another table and make you wait another twenty minutes before I come back to refill your coffee?"
"Actually, I'll take a cheeseburger and a plate of chicken fingers," Lorelai answered. "I'm twice as hungry because it took you twice as long to come over and ask me what I wanted."
"You're a lunatic," he said, walking back into the kitchen after taking Lorelai's order.
Rory took a sip of her freshly refilled coffee mug and smiled. "Well that makes me feel about fifty times better about my sport. Knowing you're coming with me is also reassuring."
"Why's that?" Lorelai asked.
"There will be someone who sucks more than I do so I don't look so bad," Rory said, grinning at her subtle insult.
Lorelai gasped, reaching for the brochure. She let it go, aiming directly at Rory's shoulder, but watched as it sailed past Rory's ear and landed in Kirk's tomato soup. Lorelai collapsed into a fit of giggles, causing Rory to turn around. "My brochure is in Kirk's soup?"
"I aimed for your shoulder!"
"Looks like a sign from God," Rory teased. "Your sports career is already sunk."
The comment made Lorelai straighten up at the table. She took a moment to collect herself before she tucked her hair behind her ears. Taking a deep breath, pulling her chair in, and folding her hands on the table, she smiled at Rory. "I guess we'll see who has what it takes tomorrow, then, won't we?"
"You may need the Gatorade in a funky helmet to keep up, my friend."
Lorelai snorted. "Oh, please, I'll be sweating purple-ish beads and you'll wonder why."
"We'll see tomorrow, then, won't we?" Rory replied. "I have to do well because this is for a grade. But we'll see."
"I guess we will, then," Lorelai said with a nod.