Warnings: Adult situations, and any spoilers are game, seeing as this is post-series.
Summary: The campaign trail over, Rory Gilmore comes home. All she wanted was a job nearby, but what she finds turns her world upside-down...Jess, Dean, AND Logan, all appearing in her life again in one way or another. Friends with two, at odds with the other...but will it stay that way? One mistake will set Rory back on the course to the one she's always been meant for.
Author's Notes: This is my first Gilmore Girls fic, so please be kind and please do review if you like it so I know how I'm doing. Thanks to all of you ahead of time!
The Hartford airport was crowded, and hot, and much smaller than she remembered, but for once Rory Gilmore didn't care. She wasn't on her way back to the campaign bus, or to another city and another cheap hotel, and she wasn't even heading back to Stars Hollow for only a short holiday that would end much too soon.
Today she wasn't doing any of those things. Today she was going home.
After nearly two years following President Obama's trail through campaigning and candidacy, right up to being president elect and his inauguration and move into the White House—reporting everything along the way for the online news magazine she worked for—the trail was over, and she was coming home. She had just seen everyone at Christmas, but already that seemed like forever ago.
She was more than ready to be back in Stars Hollow...at least for a little while.
Rory saw them as she rounded the corner, shouldering her carry-on and making sure she had a firm grip on it before they saw her. Once they caught wind, it would be too late—no more time to brace herself for the onslaught that was sure to come.
The group wasn't as large as it could have been, but it was larger than she'd expected. She'd expected only her mother and Luke, but Sookie and Jackson and Lane were there as well, all huddled in a group and craning their necks, looking for none other than her.
"Guys, hey!" she waved. Five heads turned, and Lorelai Gilmore's grin was the brightest of the reactions she received. Rory would have gotten a better look at it if she weren't already running. "Mom!" The idea of keeping her bag on her shoulder was forgotten as she flew into her mother's arms.
"Hey, whoa!" Rory was wearing tennis shoes, but Lorelai's heels slid from the force of the impact. Luke and Jackson's arms shot out to steady them both. "Right, good—because this may also be post-Washington, but we don't necessarily need a repeat of the high school era post-Washington incident."
"Though it wasn't that bad," Rory commented.
"No, of course not; being on the floor is so much cooler than being on our feet like everyone else," Lorelai replied seriously, before finally letting go enough for her daughter to look at them all.
"Oh my god you guys; it's so good to be home!" A hyper Lane received the next tight embrace, followed by Luke, Sookie, and finally Jackson.
"I would have been home watching Davy and Martha, but the women insisted they needed a man to help carry the luggage," the produce man commented.
Rory raised her eyebrows in amusement. "Luke doesn't count?"
"I'm her fiance, so apparently I don't count because I was obligated to come anyway."
"Exactly, mom. He had to come anyway. Why couldn't he be the man?"
"Because it was more fun bugging Jackson until he agreed to come. Besides, after two years on the road I'm sure your belongings will take up more than one man," Lorelai related matter-of-factly.
"Ah. I see. Then who is watching Davy and Martha."
Lane crossed her arms. "Zach and Brian are watching them."
"And Kwan and Steve?"
Rory gaped. "You left them with four little kids? Poor guys!"
"Poor kids," Lorelai smirked. Sookie shot her a look. "Ignore me, sweetie. I'm certain your offspring are just fine."
Rory Gilmore was returning triumphant, and it was already off to a good start. The fact that she didn't exactly have a job would have to be worked out, but still...Her editor at the online magazine had told her she was more than welcome to continue freelance work for the web publication even if she had decided not to continue with them on a permanent basis. She had made quite a name for herself there, as far as small-time online magazines went, but it was time to move on.
Besides that, the more stable post they'd offered her once the trail was over would have kept her in Washington, and she just didn't want to live there. Maybe it was everything that had always fascinated her, but was too far away, and more than anything she wanted a job on a paper or magazine that actually went to print.
The freelance work would tide her over, and for now she was just glad to be home.
"Two years, and you've already got this much stuff?" Luke protested as he and Jackson shouldered her bags and suitcases once they'd been claimed.
Rory moved to help, but her mother stopped.
"No no, dear. This is what we brought the men for."
She winced, really wanting to help the poor guys. "Well, those really are all I've been living out of for almost two years. For that long it's really not that much..."
Luke snorted. "Thanks; I'll contemplate changing my opinion while my back is breaking."
"Jackson, honey, be careful. You know how your knees like to bother you," Sookie warned.
At that Rory took one of the heavy bags herself and managed to get away with it. "How about we all take at least one, and then nobody can complain," she sighed, shaking her head. Some things never changed.
"Fine by me," Lane shrugged. Sookie just chuckled and took another off her husband.
Lorelai pouted. "But I thought to bring the men and everything."
Rory started out without her. "We only have to get as far as the parking lot, mother." She glanced back and watched Luke drop one of the bags from his load on her mother's shoulders.
"Yah! Warn me next time before you drop heavy quantities of...Rory...ness...on me," she grunted, staggering and falling in behind everyone else. Luke laughed and ran ahead a few steps before going back to walk with her. Rory caught a brief kiss between them out of the corner of her eye before she focused again on where she was going.
It was definitely good to be home.
It wasn't long before Lorelai abandoned her fiance to catch up to her daughter. "Rory! Rory, my heart, my life—have I taught you nothing? You just don't abandon Mommy barely an hour after you've gotten home," she whined.
Luke dropped the last bag on the floor in Rory's room and retreated with Sookie, Jackson and Lane to give mother and daughter some time to themselves. Lorelai stood against the door frame, watching her daughter look around her room as if seeing it for the first time.
"Is it weird?" she asked.
Rory shrugged. "Only in that it hasn't changed."
"Besides the big pile of suitcases in the middle of the floor," Lorelai smirked.
"Yes, besides the big pile of suitcases."
"So it's really not weird?"
"I was just here at Christmas, Mom. I'm sure it'll seem weird in a few weeks when I'm actually still here, but there's nothing strange about being here now."
Lorelai grinned. "If it's not weird, you don't need time to adjust."
Eyebrows went up. "Excuse me?"
She grabbed her daughter's arm and dragged her from the room. "Come on; I've something to show you."
"Oh...kay..." Rory almost tripped following her, but Lorelai didn't slow down as she tugged her out the front door and down the street.
"Mom, where are we going! I can't go to town now; I'm wearing jeans, and this shirt is wrinkled, and I still have plane hair!"
"It's up; you can't tell it's plane hair."
"Hair up like this is the definition of plane hair."
Lorelai dragged her all the way to the town square, only stopping when she reached the gazebo. She positioned her daughter the way she wanted her to look, and did a cheesy Vana pose. "There it is, my dear."
"There's what? The church I passed on my way to school every day for ten years?
"No, my brilliant college graduate. It's the church where your mother is getting married in two weeks." She waited for the reaction to that one, but all she got at first was an incredulous stare. "Come on, honey; kinda looking for a little more feedback here."
"Please, four years of Yale and that's all I get?"
"Married? To Luke?"
"No, to Taylor."
Rory made a sudden face. "Oh god; don't even joke."
Lorelai shuddered. "You're right. Bad joke. Yes, to Luke."
"To Luke. You're getting married to Luke."
"In two weeks."
"We have a winner."
"You're getting married to Luke in two weeks?"
Lorelai smirked a little. "Are you catching on or should I draw a few diagrams?"
"Two weeks?" Rory burst suddenly. "What happened to careful planning and, you know, telling me about it a lot sooner, for one thing."
"Well we didn't know ourselves until last week."
The poor child looked utterly lost now. "How could you have not known?"
She crossed her arms. "I don't know. Planning didn't work for us last time; having to wait was probably part of what messed us up. We always wanted to have you home, and not just on a break when we did it, and then we heard you were coming home, and..." She shrugged. "We made up our mind, called the church, and took the first available date."
"Which...apparently...is two weeks from now."
"You're just going to do it."
Lorelai smiled. "That's the idea. I think it's about time."
Rory shook her head and let out a breath. "So do I. I mean...really. I completely agree." Finally she brightened. "Oh my god you're getting married!"
Childish squeals, jumping up-and-down and hugging ensued, and for Lorelai the imminent wedding took a back seat for the moment as she reveled in the fact that her daughter was home.
As if the fact that her mother was getting married weren't enough, Lorelai dragged Rory from the gazebo to Luke's—where most of the town was waiting for her.
All right, not most of the town, or even close, really. After all, she had only given a few days' notice before she headed home, and it was the middle of the day and many were at work. There were no fancy decorations this time, party music, twinkle lights, or an overabundance of food. Still, there was a single banner over the window between the diner and the ice cream shop, and enough people to make her self-conscious.
Strange how she could still feel that way here, when she'd spent the last two years traveling with the man that was now President of the United States and been just fine doing it.
But that was Stars Hollow. The people here could love you to pieces and drive you to distraction all at once.
"Welcome home, Rory!" they all shouted at once. A few of them had tried to hide, and popped up from behind the counter or under tables—namely Kirk, Lulu, and Caesar. As if there was really any way to hide at Luke's. She'd seen them all half a block away, but she hadn't gathered why they were all in there until her mother flung open the door in front of her and she'd seen the banner.
Her mouth dropped open, and before she could react Rory was squashed between Babette and Miss Patty, and everyone else was pressing in along with them, echoing with their own welcomes in a general cacophony.
"Oh!" she gasped, the breath knocked out of her. "Wow...thanks you guys..." She shot her mother a you did this look, and Lorelai just grinned back.
"Welcome home, honey," she repeated.
Luckily Luke rescued her, elbowing in between the two women suffocating Rory to give her a gentle hug of his own—much better than the one she'd gotten for her college acceptance letters, of course. Being with her mother had greatly improved his physical affection skills.
"Okay, people; my place, my rules! Let's back up! Give the kid some air!" he called, sweeping them all back once he let go. Rory mouthed her thanks, and couldn't help grinning.
All right...maybe the wedding news itself was a little unexpected right now, but it was all right. She couldn't have found a better step-father if she'd tried. At 24 maybe it was a little late in the game to officially be getting one, but, well, better late than never.
She only hoped Lorelai could go through with it and hold it together this time. It had never been Luke she worried about.
That night was movie night, in celebration of Rory's homecoming. They brought out the good ones, Casablanca among them. Luke was there too, of course, but as comfortable as it was to have him around it didn't really seem strange. That, and she had no objection to his presence as long as he let her hog Lorelai.
Rory snuggled on one end of the couch with her mother, leaving Luke at the other end. She cast a glance at him, smirking. "Been holding down the fort for me while I was gone?"
"If the fort to which you're referring is your mother's sanity, then I can only claim to have barely done my job."
"Luke, Luke, Luke, you know I need my baby. If you'd really wanted to do your job better you'd have tracked down that bus and dragged her home a long time ago," Lorelai retorted.
He opened he mouth to reply, and then seemed to think better of it. "What's the point? I can't win."
"That's right; you are again up against two Gilmores!" his fiance crowed enthusiastically. "Get used to it, because I plan to chain her in her room and keep her here. Actually it'd have to be a pretty long chain, so she could at least get around town, and we'd probably have to let her off to get to Friday night dinners, but we can work out the kinks in that plan later."
Luke only snorted in amusement and shook his head.
"My mother the warden."
"You'd better believe it, sweetheart," Lorelai grinned, squeezing her daughter's shoulders again. "Now un-pause the thing already."
Rory held the control away as her mother reached for it. "Hey, hey, my homecoming my remote, and I have another question."
"Yeees, my dear?" she drawled.
"How in the world are we going to get a wedding for you guys together in two weeks?"
"We don't have to."
"What?" She glanced back at Luke.
"Apparently it's already together," he shrugged.
Rory looked at her mother again. "Explain yourself."
"We have you, a date, a place, and a preacher. I've still got the dress, and with the information system in this town everyone already knows. No invitations needed."
"I assume Sookie's doing the food."
"You assume correctly."
She sat back, mostly satisfied. "But won't there be any decorations? Who's going to set up for the reception, and where's it going to be?"
Lorelai grimaced. "I think I was temporarily insane yesterday, when I finally told my mother about the wedding."
Rory's eyebrows went up into her hairline. "What did you do?" she demanded in horror.
Luke chuckled from her other side. "Emily is insisting on paying for pretty much everything, and she's getting together with Sookie on the decorations and the reception."
"Which means we have no idea what that poor little church is going to look like—not to mention the inn," Lorelai sighed.
"The reception's at the inn then?"
"Yes." She knocked her head into the back of the couch a few times. "Why, why, why did I say yes? My mind and my mouth are considering breaking up for good."
Rory grinned, finding immense amusement in her mother's freak-out. Still, she felt pity. It was Emily Gilmore, after all. "Look at the bright side, mom. She is working with Sookie. She likes Sookie, and Sookie will keep her reigned in."
"I just hope it's enough," Lorelai mumbled. She finally straightened again. "And you're my maid of honor, by the way."
"I wouldn't have accepted any different. And the other positions?"
She winced. "Right now Martha's set to be flower girl, but if Chris answers my message that might become Gigi. I just don't know yet on that one...but Davy's our ring bearer, and..." She trailed off uncomfortably and looked over Rory's head at Luke. "Wanna pimp your own news over there, burger boy?
Luke opened his mouth a couple of times before he actually said anything. "Well, I'm relatively sure Jess is going to make it in to be my best man..."
Rory blinked in surprise. "Oh." That shouldn't have surprised her. Jess was Luke's nephew—his only other family besides Liz and TJ and Doula and April—and as far as she knew uncle and nephew were getting along just fine these days, when they saw each other. That should have made perfect sense. It did. She just hadn't been ready for it. "Right, yeah. Of course he would."
"You okay with that?" Lorelai questioned with concern.
"What? Yeah, of course I'm okay with that."
"You did show up at his publishing place in Philadelphia, and seemed to get on well enough then; are you two like, friends now or something?" Luke asked.
"I don't really know. We haven't exactly talked since then..." He mother was giving her that look, and Rory did what she could to deflect it immediately. "But it's okay. It won't be weird. We'll be fine. Despite its short notice, I promise the both of you that this wedding will be as perfect as it's in my power to make it."
Lorelai pulled her in again. "That's my wonderful dysfunctional offspring."