Title- Magic April
Characters/Pairings- Lorelai, not-so-subtle-undertones of JavaJunkie, and a time-traveling April Nardini
Summary- April Nardini has come back to fix what's broken... An unusual alternate ending to Partings. JavaJunkie all the way.
A/N- I don't even know what this is. Blame it on the fact that I'm a Whovian. I like time travel, okay? And so my arbitrary fixit just happens to involve a little bit of aforementioned impossible concept. It kind of makes the assumption that despite the kiss in Bon Voyage, Luke and Lorelai weren't able to get it together, but since we don't know any better... well, a sad ending post-finale suited my designs. I don't buy that for a second, but it makes for a good time-travel fic, no?
Written because I always did like April quite a lot, and don't blame her for what her existence caused any more than I blame Jess for his adverse effects on L&L.
A million and one troubadours are filling up the town square, mingled voices and guitars and lutes and flutes and little reedy instruments she doesn't know the names of, but Lorelai won't- or rather, can't- notice or bring herself to care. Luke's parting words are still ringing in her head.
I can't just jump like this!
She doesn't feel any pain. Yet. For the first time she's glad of all these months of pushing her initial reactions to things into the background. It's been good practice for this moment. At least, she thinks bitterly, she can walk away with dignity. At least she got that much out of all this.
It's not going to stay that way long, though. She's going to break down, sooner or later, and she needs desperately to get to somewhere safe, out of sight, where no one will see the inevitable collapse. Her legs pump faster without much thought on her part, driving her still more quickly through the darkened streets of Stars Hollow, the blue fabric of her dress swishing around her calves. Maybe if she can make it back home and just goes to bed this will all turn out to have been some awful dream.
Ha, yeah right... you knew it was coming, didn't you? Unless the past six months have been a dream, forgetting this one night doesn't fix anything, does it, Gilmore? That's right. Gilmore. Not Danes. Not Gilmore-Danes. Just plain Gilmore, just like you've always been and always will be. Never gonna get the opportunity to change that last name, will you? Should've married Max when you had the chance. Or Chris, on one of the several occasions he offered...
She stops the thoughts right there and goes back to being numb. She's not doing the feeling thing, not tonight. She can't.
When she spies the Jeep sitting in the driveway, her vague thoughts of Chris suddenly change. For so many years, Christopher Hayden was her security blanket. When her parents came down on her, she ran to Chris. Hence Rory. Nothing like that tonight, she thought sternly. But she needed to see someone who had already seen her in her low points. Someone who would not judge her for throwing in the towel on one of the best things that had ever happened to her. It couldn't be Rory. Rory was dealing with Logan's departure. She wouldn't be much help. And Sookie had the babies to deal with... Chris was the best choice. He understood her (most of the time), he wouldn't give her empty sentiments and make meaningless promises that it would get better. It could be like after his father died, with the tequila. Friendship and a shoulder to lean on in the bad times, and maybe a little booze to dull everything down to a fine blur... that's what she needs right now, she decides.
And so her path toward the front door veers off to the right and she heads for the Jeep. Before she can get there, though, a figure steps out of the shadows of the trees lining the driveway.
For half a second, Lorelai thinks that she's hallucinating. That's it, she's finally snapped, her poor addled brain is conjuring up images to torture her. Why else would she be seeing a girl in a wedding gown, if not her subconscious forcing her to confront (again) the fact that she's never getting married?
"Great, just great," Lorelai mumbles, feeling her ability to keep herself numb slipping.
"Lorelai?" the girl asks, and suddenly Lorelai gets an idea that maybe she's real after all.
The girl doesn't answer. "Come sit with me," she says, gesturing to the porch steps.
Lorelai isn't really able to say no to anything right now; she's had enough of the word "no" tonight. So she follows the girl in the gorgeous white dress mutely. The girl doesn't seem to pay much heed to keeping her gown clean as she plunks herself down on the bottom step. Lorelai sits down beside her, studying the stranger.
She appears to be about twenty-five or maybe a little older. She is incredibly beautiful, tall and willowy with legs that, even concealed beneath layers of white fabric, are obviously miles long. Her eyes are huge and dark in a moon-white face, and her curly black hair floats around her like a cloud, showing off the swan-like length of her neck. Her lashes are long and dark and her perfect cupids-bow lips look made for smiling, though her expression is currently set in a serious, almost wistful expression. Something about her is familiar, though Lorelai can't quite put her finger on why.
"Who're you?" Lorelai asks again.
The girl looks at her sternly. "Today was my wedding day. Well, not really today, because the actual day is about fifteen years from now but- ah, well, it's complicated and a very long story, and the minutiae of tenses during a temporal relocation are very much not the point. So let's just assume that this today and that today are the same today from my perspective, and it doesn't really matter anyway."
Lorelai is thoroughly confused, but grateful for it. As long as she's busy being confused by the complete stranger in the wedding gown, she can't concentrate on the feelings that are starting to bleed through. She's not sure who this girl is or what is happening, and she doesn't quite care. This whole night feels like one vivid dream. It started off as a nightmare, and is morphing into something much more bizarre, and the dreamlike quality of this... encounter helps to distract her. She's just going with the flow right now.
"Today was my wedding day," the girl begins again. "My father walked me down the aisle and handed me off to my new husband. He didn't stay for the reception. My father never stays for receptions at weddings. Or any kind of party at all, really, but wedding receptions in particular. If it had been for anybody less important than his only child, he probably wouldn't have even turned up for the ceremony."
"Why not?" Lorelai mumbles through stiff lips.
The girl gives one of those sad smiles that grace children's faces when they reach the age where they begin to understand their parents' secrets and flaws and problems, a wistful and loving smile full of the omnipotence and naivete of youth. "He doesn't like weddings much. He pretends to hate the whole institution of marriage, but everybody who knows him knows that it's not true. But wedding ceremonies remind him a little too much of what he lost."
"What did he lose?"
"The girl of his dreams," she suggests in a straightforward tone. "The love of his life. His best friend."
"That's sad," Lorelai murmurs. The guy, whoever he is, has her sympathies. She gets it, completely.
She nods. "Yes, it is, isn't it? Would you like to hear the story?"
It's not like she has anything else to do, right? Lorelai nods.
"My father would never tell me what happened, but I'm very resourceful and I put together the story from sources who watched it happen. This is how it happened. My dad was a pretty solitary guy, see. Really wonderful, a true stand-up guy, but a little bit of a loner. He had a couple of very close friends, but only a couple, and he didn't have much family. He and my mom weren't married, and that's a whole other crazy story, let me tell you. Anyway, one day he met this girl. It was more or less love at first sight, though he didn't quite realize it at the time. If he were a little more extroverted, he might have been more of a flirt and made a move right then, but he always was the type to take things slowly. He got to know her, and they became friends. Very close, actually. Best friends. Eventually he realized just how deep his feelings for her really were and knew he couldn't just ignore how he felt anymore, and after years of being just her friend, he finally asked her out. It turned out that she had liked him for a long time, too.
"After they had dated for awhile, they got engaged. Everybody says they'd never seen my dad that happy before, even people who had known him his whole life. They were just... completely over the moon. Except that life kind of interrupted. Things happened and he made some mistakes and she made some mistakes and their relationship got rocky. She gave him an ultimatum and he didn't take the chance. They broke up."
Lorelai is beginning to feel those bad feelings creeping in at the corners. This stranger's story is hitting just a little too close to home. "And they never worked it out, huh?" she asks tersely.
The girl shakes her head sadly. "Nope. Not too long afterwards, she married another guy. I always thought it might have been out of spite or something, but I didn't know her that well, so I wouldn't know what she was thinking."
"Wow," Lorelai whispers.
"I know. It didn't last long, though. I don't think they even made it two months. She was still too much in love with my dad despite everything that had happened to make it work, though from what everyone says, she tried really hard to keep it together with this other guy."
"And afterwards... they never got back together? Your dad and this woman?" Lorelai is surprised to hear an eager, almost desperate note in her voice. Something about what this odd girl is saying is striking a very powerful chord in her chest, and this whole hazy, strange evening is whirling around in her head and making her feel like this familiar stranger is some kind of prophet who can tell her how to make everything that's wrong with her life better.
"No. There was a little while when everyone thought maybe they would, but..." She breaks off and shakes her head sadly. "Everything that had happened between them was just too much to overcome. Sometimes I thought, maybe if they'd tried harder, listened to each other just a little more... but they just couldn't put it back together. It broke my dad's heart. I know that's something that's said pretty casually, sometimes, but I really mean it when I say it broke his heart. He was never the same after that."
"Sad." Sad doesn't begin to cover it. Right now, Lorelai wants to hear about Claire getting her Bender, Lizzie getting her Mr. Darcy, Ariel getting her Ren, not about a real-life relationship that failed despite all the attempts to fix it. She's not sure she can handle that.
"Yeah," the girl agrees. "Very sad."
"But there's... I mean, there's still time, right? They might still be able to fix it, even after all this time, right?"
The stranger shakes her head, her dark hair falling elegantly about her shoulders with the motion. "No. The thing is, this woman my father loved so much... well, she died."
"Yeah. About five years ago. She got sick. Pneumonia or something. It shouldn't have been serious. A little proper medical treatment and she would have been back on her feet. But for some reason, she just couldn't shake it. She was hospitalized for months, but she just kept getting worse and worse and eventually..." She sighs. "She sent a letter to my dad a day or two before she died. She told him that she had always loved him and hated that they had never been able to reconcile their differences, and that he would always be the one for her. I can't prove it... I mean, I'm a chemist, not a physician, but... I've always thought that maybe she couldn't get better because... well, she didn't really have any reason to. I think she'd been walking around with a broken heart for so long that she just couldn't find it in her to fight anymore."
Lorelai has been feeling unsettled by this girl and her story, and finally something in her snaps. "That's horrible!" she exclaims, jumping to her feet and beginning to pace. "Why the hell would you tell me a story like that? It's horrible!"
"Yes. It is. And that's exactly why I told you."
"What?" Lorelai spits out, her insides prickling red-hot. "What do you mean? And who the hell are you, anyway, wandering around in my yard in a wedding dress in the middle of the night?"
Calmly, the girl gets to her feet and places her hands on Lorelai's shoulders, stopping her frantic pacing, forcing her to look into her dark eyes. Her dark, familiar eyes, and suddenly Lorelai already knows what's coming.
"Up until about four hours ago, my name was April Nardini," she says.
Lorelai sways on her feet, feeling sick. Grown-Up April sees this and puts her arm around her shoulders, guiding her toward the Jeep. She opens the door and sets Lorelai in the driver's seat, her legs dangling out through the open door like a child's, her expression shocked.
"But... but..." she tries.
April smiles, a sad smile.
"You can't be... it... I... how are you here?"
"It's hard to explain. My husband-" Her eyes go soft at the word, "-is an experimental physicist. He's been toying around with some mathematical formulas that might reconcile the linear and simultaneous theories of space-time..." She shakes her head. "It's complicated and we're not quite sure how it... never mind. What matters is that I am here, for the time being."
"And your story... it's Luke and me?"
She can't stop it anymore. She's really and truly feeling now, and the tears well up in her eyes, stinging her eyelids almost as much as her heart is hurting.
"Oh please, Lorelai, please don't cry! I'm not any better with the crying thing than my dad... oh please, I think I know what tonight is and I-I know it's hard. Yes, that story that I told you is true, but I've seen enough Star Trek and Doctor Who to know that history can change. Just because that's the story I know doesn't mean it has to stay that way."
Lorelai sniffs heavily, tries her best to keep from falling to bits (but God knows, it's hard and she doesn't completely succeed). "Yes it does," she whispers. "He doesn't want me, and there's... well, there's you. Little you."
"I always knew it was my fault," April says sadly.
"No! April, no. It's not you, it's how he's handling you. He's just so... he doesn't even..." She let out a little sob.
April patted her awkwardly on the back. "It's not my place to try and fix everything for you, Lorelai. It wouldn't be real if you didn't work for it on your own, would it?" She smiles encouragingly at Lorelai's confused expression. "I'm just trying to give you the chance to fix it, which you won't have if you leave here tonight. Things could be different. You could be happy again. Just... stay here until tomorrow."
"I can't, I don't want to-"
"You have to, Lorelai. I know it isn't really my place to interfere, but I feel like I need to do this. My dad is really important to me, and for the past fifteen years- even more the past five- I've watched him walk around as only half a person. If I can give the two of you a chance to maybe get it right, I have to do it. I don't want him to go through all that pain. And I'm sure it wasn't- won't be- was... oh, I give up with these tenses! It can't have been easy for you either, and no one should have to be without their soul mate once they've found him! So please, Lorelai, as much as you want to find comfort in old friends right now... please don't. Please just stay here."
Lorelai stares at this beautiful young woman, intelligent and confident in her assurance that her actions are right, and feels strangely compelled to do as she says. "I-" she begins.
Something on April's person (though God knows where it's stashed, with that dress on) beeps rapidly. She lets out a gasp. "Oh! That will be...!" She looks up at Lorelai, dark eyes wide. "I'm going now, but please think long and hard before you do anything rash. Lorelai, promise me you'll do the right thing!"
Lorelai can't answer her.
"Lorelai?" April insists, as the beeping gets louder and a pale light starts to shine around her. "Lorelai? Lorelai!"
She wakes up with a gasp. The first thing she feels the imprint of the Jeep logo from where her face was resting against the steering wheel, and then her stiff neck. She vaguely recognizes that she is sitting in the front seat of the Jeep, the door sitting open, and the sun is in the sky.
And Luke is standing there.
"Lorelai?" he asks hesitantly.
The previous night's events rush back to her, and the dream she had about April from the future and a horrible sad story about her and Luke comes with it. "Whoo," she says in a low voice. "Must have passed out in the front seat... low blood sugar... wow, this is why I need to be fed regularly..." It is partially a rationalization and mostly a delaying tactic to avoid looking at Luke. She does not know what to say to him.
"Are you alright? Why are you in the Jeep?"
She shrugs, still staring at the steering wheel that has recently become such good friends with her face. "I'm okay," she says quietly. "I just never really made it to the house last night, I guess."
His hand touches her shoulder briefly and timidly before jerking back as if afraid, but it's enough of a gesture of affection to make her look up at him.
God, he's handsome, she thinks achingly. Why is it we always want what we can't have?
"I, uh... I'm all packed," he said. "If you still want to jump... I'm ready. I'm all in."
As it always does under the full light of days, the night's fears seemed less to her now. Her concerns, her sadness, those haven't gone away. But she feels better able to deal with them maturely with the sun in the sky and without a diner full of people watching their every move. She feels as if maybe, just maybe, they can find a way. She gets out of the front seat and shuts the door of the car behind her.
"Come inside," she said tiredly. "We really need to talk."
A/N2- And that's my very bizarre return to the Gilmore fandom after many years away... I'll leave you to decide for yourself if any of it actually happened or if it was all in Lorelai's head. Personally, I like the idea that it really happened, because April's just awesome like that. She's a pretty close contender with Jess for my fifth favorite GG character.
Reviews? From what I remember, this fandom is much better than most about leaving lots of lovely reviews, though admittedly I have been away for awhile (and never on this account, in case you were going to go looking... sorry).