All the time in the world
"So have you put any thought into what schools Cate's going to go to?" Richard asked later that day as he held the baby in his arms.
"Erm… no," she answered, turning her head towards Jess and Lorelai, mouthing a 'what?' to them. "She's eight hours old, I think we have some time to decide."
"Don't leave it too late, Rory, some of these school are incredibly competitive." Emily added. "We were having dinner with Hanlin and Bitty Charleston a few weeks ago… you girls remember Hanlin, don't you, he was the…"
"Headmaster at Chilton," Rory finished her grandmother's sentence. "Trust me, I remember."
"He retired a couple of years back and they moved to Florida. Awful place, so warm and full of old people on those golf cart things but to each their own, I suppose. They came back for a visit and we had dinner."
"What's the point, mother?" Lorelai let out an exasperated breath.
"Is that really necessary, Lorelai? I was getting to the point."
"Fine. My point is that, according to Hanlin, you should get on a waiting list as soon as possible if you want Cate to go to a good school."
"We haven't talked about it much, grandma." Rory answered. "We're not sure we're going to send her to private school, there are some excellent public ones around here."
"Nonsense, she has to go to private school. How else is she going to get into Yale?"
"Maybe she won't want to go to Yale," Lorelai said. "It's a bit early for her to have decided what she wants to do with her future."
"What else is she going to do with her life?"
"Be a rock star," Lorelai rolled her eyes.
"Maybe she'll want to go to Harvard," Jess smirked.
"Hey, careful now, that's the equivalent of wishing she'd go to hell in this family," Lorelai laughed.
"No one shunned me when I was planning on going there," Rory reminded her mother.
"Maybe not shunned, but we were all disappointed."
"Rory, that's not true," Emily started saying and Rory smiled, brushing it off.
"I know, grandma."
"It was a joke," Lorelai mumbled under her breath.
"I'm sure she'll be amazing, no matter what she decides to do," Richard smiled, looking at the baby in his arms.
"You'll think about it, Rory?" Emily asked.
"We'll look into schools and get her on a waiting list if it's necessary." She reassured her grandmother. "But since this is not Stars Hollow, she might end up going to a public school. A good one."
"Harvard alone may not get her shunned, but public school and Harvard will do it," Lorelai whispered to Jess and he laughed. "Make sure you get her a Hilary 2016 onesie and you'll never have to see them again."
"What was that, Lorelai?"
"Nothing, mom. Just wanted to know if Jess thought it was time I went and got dinner."
"And that requires all that secrecy?"
"Didn't want to interrupt your conversation." She grinned, trying to be as convincing as possible. "So, Jess, dinner?"
"I figured we'd get something from the cafeteria." He replied with a shrug.
"Oh, god, trust me, you don't want to do that. We had lunch there and it was gross. The doctor lied when she said it wasn't."
"She's right, it was pretty awful." Emily backed her up.
"Maybe dinner will be better?" Rory suggested.
"Maybe, but why take the chance. I'll go get Chinese food. It's a way better plan."
"I like the sound of that."
"Great, it's settled. Mom, dad, do you want something?"
"No, thank you, Lorelai, we should head back to our hotel. We'll have dinner there, I think."
"Aw, you sure?" Rory looked at her grandmother.
"We'll be back tomorrow."
"Congratulations again, Rory," Emily said as she hugged her granddaughter briefly. "You're going to be a wonderful mother to that baby."
"Here you go," Richard carefully placed the newborn back in her mother's arms. "Let us know if there's ever anything we can help with, ok?"
"'K, I'll be back in a bit with dinner," Lorelai told them before the three of them left.
"Feel free to call them insane," Rory smiled at Jess.
"Nah, they have a point. Or at least their concern comes from a good place."
"Wait, you're not going to make any sarcastic comments about my grandparents worrying about Cate's college career?" Holding the baby up, she kissed her head before whispering loudly "I think he hit his head, Cate. Good thing we're in a hospital."
"I want her to have everything she wants," Jess caressed the baby's head with his fingers. "A college degree makes that a hell of a lot easier and an Ivy League one even more so. Unless she decides she doesn't want to go to college, there's no harm in putting her on that path so she doesn't have to play catch-up later."
"I'm not saying I disagree but today…"
"Yeah, ok, that bit is ridiculous." He nodded, leaning over and kissing Cate's head.
"You haven't lost your mind completely." Rory laughed.
"Hi guys!" Laura greeted everyone in the room that evening. "I hear you had quite a crowd in here earlier." She said as she sat down in a chair.
"Everyone's a bit excited about her," Rory smiled at the newborn in her arms. "Trying to tell them to wait before visiting felt like a Sisyphean task."
"And you haven't met my mother. You cannot tell my mother she can't do something."
"I can always tell the nurses not to let people in."
"Right, would you also like to come deal with the guilt trips forever?" She laughed in response. "Don't worry, it's all good. Though I don't think Cate's been in that basinet yet."
"She'll have plenty of time for that," Laura told her with a smile. "You're good?"
"I talked to the pediatrician, she says the baby's good too," she added, glancing at the baby. "Which means that you can go home tomorrow if you want."
"Sure. There's no reason to keep you here if we don't have to. You can stay another day or two, but I thought I'd give you the choice."
"I… uh… What do you think?" She looked at Jess and he shrugged.
"I'm fine either way."
"Well that's not very helpful."
"I can go any time I want, so it really doesn't matter to me," he smirked.
"Under penalty of death and dismemberment maybe," Rory countered.
"In that order?" He asked, cocking an eyebrow. "I'm good going home tomorrow if you're good with it."
"I'm good. I think. Maybe. What should we do?" She turned to look at the doctor and she shook her head.
"Nope, I'm not going to tell you. You can do whatever you're comfortable with."
"Ok. We'll go tomorrow."
"Great, I'll let people know," she stood up again. "I'll let you get some rest, call a nurse if you need anything."
"Thank you!" Rory waved goodbye to the woman. "Hear that, kiddo? We can take you home tomorrow!" She placed a small kiss on Cate's forehead.
"And then it's really on." Lorelai laughed. "You'll be fine though," she added quickly. "I promise."
"Oh, good, that sounded really reassuring."
"I kept you alive and my only experience with babies was from having to take care of that stupid egg in school. By the time For Keeps came out, it was too late."
"Between that and Look Who's Talking, I think we're set," Jess said, smirking. "There's not a lot more to this parenting business is there?"
"But just in case that fails, remember you can call me any time. Day or night."
"Because you're such a peach when someone wakes you in the middle of the night," Rory teased her mother.
"I have a toddler at home, sleeping through the night hasn't happened in ages. In fact, this is like a holiday for me." Glancing at the clock on the wall, she stood up. "And on that note, I really should go join Luke at your house. It's late, visiting hours are done and I'm beat. I'll come back nice and early tomorrow, with breakfast. Which I'll ask Luke to make."
"Ok." Rory nodded.
"You be good, kiddo," Lorelai smiled, taking Cate's hand between her fingers. I'll be back to spoil you tomorrow." Leaning down, she gave Rory a hug. "Call if you want me to bring something. Or need to talk. Or whatever."
"I will. Go get some sleep." She urged her mother.
"I am. Bye, Jess. You can call too if you want."
"Don't mention it. Good night!"
"Night, mom!" Rory called after her. "And then there were three." She smiled as the door closed behind her mother. "How are you?"
"Exhausted, but otherwise. You?"
"Great. So, so great. Do you want to hold Cate?"
"In a minute. I have something for her." Standing up, Jess went to messenger bag he'd brought with him, looking through it until he found a book. "She's going to need a bit of help with it for a while though." He said as he put the book on Rory's lap before taking the baby from her.
"Jess, did you…" she trailed off, picking up the book and looking through it. "You wrote a book for Cate."
"It's a short book."
"I don't know how I feel about having to share your dad's books," Rory laughed, running her hand down their daughter's arm. "You are amazing," she told him, leaning closer and placing a soft kiss on his lips.
"Ok, all right, we get it, stop fussing. Geez, I thought she'd be older before she started protesting us kissing," he chuckled, looking at the crying baby in his arms. "What's the matter?"
"I don't think she's going to answer."
"So… what do we do?"
"Guess?" Rory shrugged. "I don't know either!"
"I hope we have a receipt, this parenting thing may not work if there's guessing involved," he said. "Do you have a coin to do this?"
"How about you change her diaper and then give her to me to feed?"
"I'll take it." He said, standing up and taking the baby to the changing area. Returning a few moments later, he handed Rory the baby. "Here."
"How long do you think it will be until we get the hang of this?"
"Before she's in high school for sure," Jess kissed the top of Rory's head. "I'm going to go make a call while you do that."
"Tell him I said hi," she grinned, following him with her eyes as he left the room before looking at the baby again. "Ok, tiny, time for food."
Sitting on a bench outside, Jess took a deep breath as he stared at the phone before finally pressing the call button.
"Hey, Jimmy," he greeted the other man, running a hand through his hair. "The baby's here. …Jimmy?" He added after a few seconds of silence.
"Still here, just… whoa. This is… whoa. How is she?"
"Great. Healthy and beautiful. She has a lot of black hair and she's just so beautiful. She was crying her lungs out when I left."
"They do that at that age," the man said, his voice gentle.
"We named her Catherine. Cate."
"That should have been my first guess. How about you and Rory, how are you doing?"
"Rory's great, she's been great all along. I… well, I really wish I hadn't quit smoking," he let out a breath. "I'm good, it's just this whole day's been…"
"Nerve wrecking?" Jimmy offered.
"They never taste as good as you remember them, believe me."
"Thanks," he smiled. "I should go back inside, I just wanted to let you know you're a grandfather."
"Thank you. Go, be with them. Tell Rory I said hi and congratulations."
"She told me to say hi as well. And to Sasha and Lily."
"I'll pass it along."
"We might have to start passing the phone around instead of passing notes soon."
"Sounds like a plan." Jimmy laughed. "Hey, listen, can you email me some pictures? I'd like to have one or two around the house."
"Sure. I'll talk to you on Tuesday."
"I'll be here."
Walking back in the hospital, Jess stopped in the door, leaning against the frame. From there, he stared at his wife and their daughter sleeping on her chest, her small hand holding to Rory's sleeve. Feeling his breath get caught in his throat, he forced himself to cough twice as quietly as he could before approaching the bed once Rory had noticed him.
"I love you so much," he whispered, pushing a strand of hair behind Rory's ear as he kissed her. "And you," he bent down more so he could kiss the baby's head. "And you are both perfect."
"She is. Me? Not so much."
"Nah, trust me on this," he smiled, pressing his lips to hers again.
"Go get some sleep."
"Come on, you don't want to hear me sing," Rory mumbled later that night, rocking the baby in her arms, trying to get her to settle. As she looked up at Jess when she heard him let out a snore as he shuffled in the chair, she felt a smile take over her face. "You really don't, I promise," she focused on the baby again. "You don't want to hear your dad either. In fact, your grandma Lorelai's the only one who can sing and we're not entirely sure how that happened. And your Auntie Lane's band, but that's a band so it's kind of in the rules that they have to not break glasses when they sing. I'm sorry if this ruins everything for you, like if you grow up and want to start your own band, but you can always play the drums or the guitar or the whatever you want, ok?" She lifted the baby closer, kissing her forehead. "And you want to know something else? We're going to love you and be proud of you and support you no matter what you decide to do. As long as you're happy."