"Set the Record On"
Genre: Drama, Family
Time Frame: Post Series
Characters: Rory G., Lorelai G.
Summary: She took a deep breath, and whispered, "I didn't want to try on my wedding dress every night." . . . Sometimes, Rory was more like her mother than she ever thought possible.
Notes: Drats it all, but this turned a wee bit angst-ish. And on top of that, Lit overtones managed to sneak in. Someday I will understand my muse . . . Well . . . maybe, and not, certainly at one in the morning as it is now. Sheesh, but if those midnight fics won't get the best of you, I don't know what will . . .
Disclaimer: Nope . . . I will have to console myself with coffee and pop tarts and scribbling on my copy of Hemingway.
"Set the Record On"
Rory comes back to Stars Hollow a year later with a engagement ring sparkling both bright and painfully honest on her finger.
Her mother drops her box of pop tarts on the counter when she sees it, mouth open and eyes piercing as she asked, "How long?"
There is silence filled with more piercing things – weighing questions and deep breaths all before she asked, "Why didn't you tell me, hon?"
"I wanted to show you in person," is her explanation - well rehearsed, and executed without a hitch.
Lorelai is silent before drawing her into a hug a moment later that felt like all sorts of perfect things – home left behind, and comfort needed, and a dozen other feelings that Rory hadn't let herself think about since embarking on the road all those months before.
"If you're happy," Lorelai's words have a burdened weight, "then I'm happy for you, kiddo."
"I am very happy," she insists, and it is the truth.
Over her mom's shoulder, she twists the diamond around her finger until all she can see is plain gold, and numbly thinks that it looks better that way.
She takes her old room back – it's still the same, minus the things April had left there more and more often as she stayed whole weeks with her father during the summer. Her childhood home – while changed only by the actual food stocking the fridge, and the constant pots and pans in use, all Luke's doing, Lorelai insists – was a comfort to her, and in small moments when she made calls from her quilted bed she could feel a childish sort of girlish glee to planning her wedding.
She and her mom poured over bridal magazines for hours at at time, getting nothing really done while they mused over the models with well meaning and snippy comments – all a perfectly practiced and honed routine between them. There are coffee rings from their mugs on their favorite pages, and that feels right, as well.
She swirls her engagement ring more than she likes to notice, chaffing the skin underneath until it is an irritated sort of pearl pink.
If Lorelai notices, she does not say anything.
When she calls her fiancée, he is still in California finishing up a piece for the paper there. He is a brilliant writer – fluent with words in a way that was all a bewitching combination of T.S. Elliot and Byron - an enticing mix that had captured and held her attention from the first.
He sends her letters with liberty bell stamps and careful looping words inside that tickle that spot right next to her heart. (Just missing a spot that had been closed off for a long time now. A long time . . .)
He is a perfect guy, she knows – considerate and kind and amazing, with all of the right, needed words at the right, perfect time.
It is moments like these that convince her that she is simply having completely normal cases of cold feet (after all, she is so her mother's daughter), and nothing more.
"You'll be here soon?" she questions, voice light and perfectly hopeful.
"You can't keep me away for too long, you know." Teasing meshed with promise - just as she liked.
She grasped her cell phone a little tighter in her hand, and closed her eyes long and slow.
"I can't wait."
She calls the florist – a small shop owned by a woman her own age who did the arrangements for her mother's wedding not even six months earlier – two days later, and feels accomplished when she crossed one more thing off of her perfectly ordered list.
Lorelai suggests having the wedding at the Inn, and she accepted with a small smile and heartfelt thanks - once again amazed all over by all that her mom had accomplished.
She wants so much to be her in the moment that it a literal pang somewhere deep down inside.
She calls her dad to tell him of her engagement the same day she asked Luke to walk her down the aisle.
Christopher was polite and happy for her – in that detached way that spoke of the difference between a biological father and a dad. When asking Luke she used the same difference, and his doubts about just what she was getting herself into faded when she asked him with that honest look in her eyes.
Knowing she had so many amazing people behind her helped her so very much.
She finds the right dress at a small shop in Hartford. It jumped out at her before she even started really looking - staring at her from the rack, covered in simple satin, with lace veils and perfect perfection hanging from every elegant fold.
It fit like it was made for her.
When telling her mom, Lorelai smiled and said, "Maybe this was meant to be after all."
Her fiancée arrives three weeks before the wedding.
He is a nice young man with old family connections – an instant hit with her grandparents, and a down to earth enough boy to pass begrudgingly with Luke. Lorelai is slower to pass judgment, saying only, "He's a perfect guy."
Rory didn't know if she'd rather hear "he's a perfect guy for you", or not.
It's four days before her wedding when she's trying on her dress before her mom.
Lorelai was fingering the delicate material with something like adoration. "I tried my dress on every night," she said on a wistful sigh. "I would do silly things like twirl in front of the mirror, and pronounce my name with his in every accent I could think of. Mrs. Lorelai Danes," she demonstrated in a sultry southern tone worthy of Scarlet herself. "I just couldn't stop," her voice turned light with fond remembrance and other soaring things.
"Marriage is one of the most beautiful blessings in the entire world," she was continuing, squeezing her daughter's shoulders lightly. Through the mirror, Rory met her mother's eyes and offered up a heavy smile. Her lashes fluttered long and dark against her pale cheeks as she took in a deep breath – this was perfect moment, after all - a moment to speak up about the doubts lingering like mold in her mind and the regrets spreading like sticky cobwebs over things she had thought that she had long since gotten over . . .
In the end she didn't though, and once again she let a moment flutter away, lost. She didn't know yet if she was a coward for that, or merely unreasonably brave.
She gets drunker at her bachelorette party than she had intended to.
Out of everyone there – a once again pregnant Lane and a newly married Paris, and girls from the campaign trail, and girls from Yale – her mother was surprised the least when she was found in the corner, with his number the last one dialed on her out and open cell.
She has no idea what she said to him – things like regret and missing and ever wish you could go back, run away? . . . stick out, but they are lost amongst the disjointed holes in her memory.
She remembered very well the bitter sting to his words when he informed her that Luke had told him about her impending nuptials. That particular infliction, she knew, had always masked a deep set sort of pain.
She remembered saying that she had made an invitation for him.
She remembered him saying that it must have gotten lost.
She remembered the guilty look in her mom's eyes when she had overheard. She had taken it out, Rory knew, and she could not have really blamed her in the end.
She remembered that she had been the one to hang up first – the coward all over again, refusing to run away. It feels good, though, in a queasy sort of way, to be in his shoes for once.
In the morning she passed it off as a drunken regret – a last ditch grasp at anything before she tied herself down as the old ball and chain.
She could see where her mother bit her tongue, and she didn't know whether to be thankful or hate her a little for it.
She tries calling Jess to apologize the next day, but she can't bring herself to say anything.
She remembers his calls from years gone by – silences heavy with both apologies and pleas to understand.
Now, belatedly, she understands . . . And she hangs the phone up with a force that may not have been strictly necessary.
In the end, all Lorelai asks is, "Are you sure you are doing the right thing."
"Yes." Without a doubt.
Her hands tremble.
She brings her dress out the night before her wedding.
It is a beautiful gown – the gown that she wants to be married in. In her mind, though, the groom has gotten to be a little hazy . . . and she hates that – hates herself for that.
And yet, when she picks up the phone to call her fiancée one last time, it feels like the bravest thing she has done in a very long time.
When Lorelai found her later, the only thing Rory whispered in explanation was: "I didn't want to try my wedding dress on every night."
It was enough for her mother to understand, and wrap her arms around her with an empathy that was almost painfully acute.
Sometimes, Rory knew that she was more like her mother than she ever thought possible.
That morning, Lorelai woke her up before it was light out – a very rare occurrence for them, to be sure, and started dumping drawers full of clothes into the waiting suitcases she had dragged from the hall closet.
"C'mon, me and you, kiddo!" Lorelai was saying with more energy than anyone should have at such a small hour of the morning. "We're going to take off. Hit the road!"
Rory glared balefully at the numbers on her clock that insisted that she still be sleeping.
"Where?" she questioned on a moody yawn.
"Anywhere," Lorelai drew the covers most rudely away. "Everywhere. Now come on!"
The more she was returning to wakefulness, the more she remembered the night before. Oh, that hurt more than she thought that it would . . . seriously, after so many tries at this, wasn't she due to be a pro any time soon?
Thoughts of years prior hit her then like deja vu, and she opened her eyes a little more clearly.
"What do you need me to pack?" she asked, her voice determined. Just like before.
"Anything you want," Lorelai's eyes were glinting with mischief.
And so she did, and they were sent off with danishes and full mugs of coffee from Luke's with promises not to be back until they took care of of what they needed to take care of.
Two weeks later, somewhere off of Route 66 she bought a quarter postcard from a gas station, and filled it out to Jess with a careful, typewriter script. After thinking, chewing her pencils eraser nervously, she took a gamble, and asked if he wanted to have coffee with her when she returned. She promised to show him a few authors that she had found in their time apart . . . ones he would be sure to enjoy. She then fixed the brightest stamp she could find on the corner, and sent it away with a promise.
Lorelai did not say anything one way or another, but when she quietly asks if she wanted to hit Philadelphia on the way home, Rory only hesitated once before saying yes.
When the road stretched out in front of them this time, the black asphalt only seemed like opened pathways – everything beautifully bright and open and possible.
Silently, she reached over and squeezed her mom's hand on the steering wheel with a silent thanks.