Title: Always Read the Manual
Summary: Trory. A WHW one-shot—post Peer Pressure. Will and Anna have their baby. Sookie goes a little crazy. Jake and Jules give Tristan and Jess plenty to stress out about.
And there's a Kit-Kat bar. Fun for all!
"Give me that baby!" Sookie Melville reached out in a cat-like fashion toward her long-time best friend, business partner, and as of thirty minutes prior, co-grandmother to the seven pound, six ounce bundle snuggled up in Lorelai Gilmore-Dane's arms.
"Shh, she's sleeping. You're never supposed to wake sleeping babies. And besides, I got here first, didn't I? I'm not done holding her yet," she cooed softly to the dozing baby in her arms, periodically lowering her nose to the pink bundle to take a whiff of that sweet new-baby smell.
"I was trapped! Jackson was asleep on my arm!" Sookie protested in argument, keeping her voice soft, yet still passionate about wanting to hold her grandchild for the first time.
"Hey, we were all tired. I still managed to be alert enough to hurry in here," Lorelai smiled as the baby yawned in her sleep.
"It took me a few seconds to yank my arm free. You barely beat me. I should be allowed a handicap—I had two hundred and forty pounds crushing my arm to slow me down. I'm just now getting all the feeling back in it," she rubbed the arm in question.
"Then you should wait anyhow—you might drop her if your arm isn't working. And are you going to let her talk about you like that, Jackson?" Lorelai finally peeled her eyes away from the newborn for a millisecond to glance at the baby's grandfather.
Jackson Melville stepped up to peek into the blanket. "I'm still carrying a little holiday weight. I can't believe she rolled me across the floor."
"I can't believe you rolled all the way across the waiting room and hit the vending machines before you woke up," Luke Danes said from his spot leaning in the doorway.
"I dislodged a Kit-Kat bar. And I think my jaw finally popped," Jackson smiled, seemingly equally happy about both happenings.
"A Kit-Kat?" Anna Danes asked from her resting position on the bed. Will Danes stood at her side as they watched their new daughter mesmerize both sets of their parents. He'd only left her side for a few brief moments since they'd arrived thirty hours prior, once to sign a form and the other to run out to the waiting room and announce his daughter's arrival to the waiting crowd of family.
Jackson smiled at his weary daughter. "Oh, yeah. Those are your favorite, too. It was really good."
Anna sat up, though Will wordlessly encouraged her to lie back. "You ate it?"
Jackson frowned, glancing at his wife for a clue as to what he'd done wrong. "Yes. I sense now that doing so was wrong, but I'm not sure why."
"No reason, Sweetie. It's just your daughter has spent the last twenty hours pushing what feels like a bowling ball through a shot glass, the whole time only being allowed to suck on ice chips for sustenance while a chipper nurse that's never given birth lied to her over and over about how she just had to push one more time to end the most painful ordeal of her entire life up to this point. She's fine. I'm sure she's not hungry at all, even if you had the stupid candy bar left to offer her," Sookie informed him snarkily, still rubbing her arm.
Jackson looked back at his daughter. "So you want a Kit-Kat?"
Anna blinked at him as Will held her shoulders.
"I'll go," Luke offered, already on his way down the hall as Sookie lunged once more for the baby.
"Back off," Lorelai cooed as she easily outmaneuvered her friend yet again.
"Gah! I shouldn't have hesitated to roll Jackson," she muttered loudly.
"Hey, I can hear you!" Jackson pursed his lips in consternation, turning from his new granddaughter to his wife.
"I want to hold the baby!" she barked at him, still unapologetic.
"Oh, fine, here," Lorelai consented, gingerly swapping the baby from her cradled arms to Sookie's. They both smiled contentedly as the little girl yawned again and settled back into her blanketed wrap.
"Oh!" they squealed softly together.
Will shook his head at their mothers and smiled as he turned his gaze back to his wife. He'd never seen her that spent, but she kept a watchful eye on her brand-new baby from across the room as she was passed around. He kissed her forehead.
"Have I mentioned how amazing you are recently?" he asked in admiration. In the hours since her intermittent labor pains progressed into the full-blown, real-deal, no-turning-back labor pains—which were hard enough for him to witness as they rendered him useless to help her—he'd gone from head-over-heels in love with her to feeling completely unworthy of her affection in general.
She smiled and squeezed his hand. "I believe you've mentioned it several hundred times in the last couple of hours."
"Good. I mean, I would be a terrible husband if I didn't tell you. What you just did," he briefly admired his daughter again—the perfect pink little baby, with ten fingers and ten toes and his wife's nose.
"Hurt like hell," she finished.
"You made it look beautiful," he assured her.
"She's beautiful. Isn't she perfect?" Anna asked, eyes trained back on her daughter.
"Those tiny eyelashes alone were worth all the late-night ice cream runs you sent me on," he admitted.
Anna smiled. "I'm pretty sure she would still have those regardless of my copious ingestion of Chunky Monkey."
"At least I was able to be of use then, though. I felt so helpless, standing here, holding your hand while you pushed a person from your body."
She brought his hand up to kiss it. "You want to help me now?"
He raised an eyebrow. "Does this involve a Kit-Kat?"
"Seriously, how do you not give the bonus Kit-Kat to the person who just gave birth?" she asked loudly.
"Does it mean nothing to anyone that I got rolled across the floor like a human bowling ball?" Jackson asked to no avail.
Anna rolled her eyes at her dad and put her hand out to Will. "Help me up."
Will frowned and hustled around to reposition the blankets over her barely-covered body. The gown they'd given her was open in back and short, and had holes on the top to allow a woman to breastfeed through. It was unflattering, especially for something that showed so much of a body he loved more than any other. "What are you doing?"
She smacked his hand with hers, which was still hooked up to an IV line. "I need to use the bathroom."
"So?" he stared at her placidly.
"So, I need you to walk me over to the bathroom."
He shook his head. "I think that sounds like a job for a nurse," he informed her.
"Will, I don't need a nurse. I need to go to the bathroom."
"I think the last nurse said specifically to wait until she came back, so she could help you. She said you'd need help."
She rolled her eyes. "I've been potty trained for quite some time now."
He shrugged. "So go."
She frowned and pointed to the door across the room. "But it's way over there. I need you to help me get out of bed and into the bathroom."
He shook his head with his arms crossed over his broad chest and the word Yale that was emblazoned on his t-shirt. "Forget it. Call the nurse."
Her mouth dropped open. "You just watched me give birth."
He nodded. "And you were amazing. I'd die for you and her, but I'm not going in that bathroom with you."
She pushed the call button. "If men had to give birth, the human race would have died out before the discovery of gravity."
"I'm not arguing," he acquiesced, grateful for her swift drop of the conversation. "Do you need a new ice pack or some real food? Anything?"
The nurse came quickly in to assist Anna. "I am pretty hungry," the new mother admitted.
He helped the nurse support his wife as she stood up out of bed for the first time since the epidural was administered and she'd given birth. "You okay?" he asked as she found her footing.
She smiled hesitantly. "Just getting my sea legs."
"We can put the catheter back in, if you're not up to it just yet," the nurse offered.
"No, I'm good. Oh, if you get burgers," she turned to Will.
"No pickle, extra cheese. I know," he smiled at his wife.
"Thanks," she nodded as they reached the door to the bathroom.
"This is where I take my leave. Good luck in there," he frowned. "Or something less weird." He kissed her cheek and turned to his daughter as Anna disappeared with the nurse.
Will stroked his daughter's cheek, having moved over between his mother and Sookie.
Lorelai snaked an arm around her youngest child's waist. "You're a dad."
He made no effort to hide the amazement on his face. "I noticed."
She smiled her mischievous blue eyes sparkling. "Your dad is completely freaked out."
He chuckled. "It's the hospital. And Anna's gown. The damn thing flaps open at every opportunity."
"True. Now, let's get to business. Anna's job is now to feed this little girl, so your job is now to do everything else. You read that guide Rory made up for you, right?"
He paused. "I thought that was a joke."
Lorelai and Sookie glanced at each other. "First of all, your sister is never kidding about things she compiles herself; I'd read it if I were you. Secondly, Anna is sore and tired and will be busy making and delivering milk to a tiny person with a wonky sleep schedule and demanding cries. You have to be the one to bring her water before she asks, make her sandwiches or anything else she can eat one-handed while still nursing. You put on shows she likes to watch, you bring her books to read, you do the laundry, you get up to hand her the baby in the middle of the night. You sleep when they sleep."
He nodded. "And this goes on for how long?"
Sookie shrugged. "Longer with the first baby. You just have no idea what's hit you, and it can take longer to set up a schedule. But as soon as the baby starts sleeping four hours in a row at night," she began.
Will cocked his head. "She's not going to sleep for more than four hours at a time?"
Lorelai and Sookie laughed. "Not unless you won some sort of baby lottery," Sookie snorted. "Davey didn't sleep four hours in a row until he was four months old. Anna did it sooner, at four weeks if I recall, but by that time Davey was up every couple of hours with nightmares. Billy would wake up, but if you put him in the swing you could short-circuit his wake-ups, so he just slept in that thing in our room for the first seven months. Now, Lia was a good sleeper. But by the time the fourth one comes along, as long as they're not spinning their heads around and screaming while projectile vomiting green Exorcist juice at you all night, everything pretty much goes by unnoticed."
Will looked on in horror as his mother-in-law gave him the lowdown on her child-raising experience. He looked to Lorelai. "Mom?"
Lorelai patted his shoulder. "Chin-up, Slugger. It's not so bad."
"Yeah?" he asked, glancing down at what he'd thought looked like a little tiny angel. He wondered just how little sleep he'd get over the course of her life. He wondered how he'd be a good father if he never slept again. He wondered if he could fathom the idea of doing it all over again if they could barely handle raising one.
"Yeah. I mean, you're going to be tired. You're going to think at some point that you're doing everything wrong. But then she'll laugh for the first time and you'll melt into a puddle and decide that you want another one," she informed him, as if reading his mind.
"Oh, and the first time she calls out to you, with her little arms outstretched?" Sookie sighed, clearly relishing her own memories.
"The first tooth," Lorelai smiled.
"The first steps," Sookie cooed.
"Those sound pretty good," Will breathed a little easier.
"And then suddenly they've graduated from college and you're in a waiting room for them to come out and tell you that your grandchild has arrived into the world," Lorelai squeezed his shoulder.
"So, you think I won't mess this up too bad, is what you're saying," he inquired of his mother.
"Even if you do, kids are malleable. And we're around, if you really need help. Or just a nap," she shrugged.
He hugged his mother tightly. "Thanks. I have a feeling I'll take you up on that." Will shot a glance to the bathroom door. "Do you think everything's okay in there? It's been a while."
Lorelai smiled at him. "The nurse is in there, and it can take time. Her body's been through a lot. Go get her a burger. We'll stay with the baby and encourage her to nap."
"Oh, hey, before you go, did you guys decide on a name?" Sookie asked, her eyes wide with anticipation.
He cringed. "I think so, but until we talk it over, I don't want to say anything. We'll announce it as soon as it's final," he assured him. "In the meantime, you'll have to settle for fawning all over her. Did you see her tiny fingers?" he pointed, kissing his mom on the cheek before leaving the room and wandering down the hall to the waiting room. His dad was banging on the vending machine, and he saw the rest of his family sitting or lying around on the couches in various states of wakefulness.
"Dad?" he asked, coming up to stand beside the man who was accosting the machine.
"Damn thing. I think Jackson broke it when he rolled into it."
Will paused. "Did he really roll all the way across the floor sound asleep?"
Luke stopped hitting the machine and smiled. "Yeah. I think one of the kids probably got it on video on their phones," he nodded over to the crowd of gathered well-wishers.
Will smiled gleefully. "So, no Kit-Kat?"
Luke grunted. "Not from here. I can run to the store, if you want," he offered.
Will shook his head. "Nah, I will. Anna's hungry, anyway, she wants a burger."
"Stay here. Enjoy your daughter. I'll go get food. You want anything?" he asked his son.
Will smiled. "Yeah. Thanks, Dad. Burgers would be great. Anna wants hers," he began, but his dad cut him off.
"No pickle, extra cheese. I'm on it. Tell your mother that I'm bringing her coffee, when she asks."
Will nodded and put his arm out to his sister, who was walking up to the Danes men. "Coffee? Real, non-waterlogged hospital-dredge coffee?" Rory asked hopefully.
Luke looked around. "Fine. I'll bring you some, too. But if the order gets too big, I won't be able to bring it back myself."
"I can send Tristan with you," Rory offered. "Jake would thank you."
They all looked over to Rory's husband and son, who were glaring at one another as Jake remained as immobile as possible, so as not to wake the brunette that was fast asleep in the cradle of his arm and shoulder.
"They're still going on about that?" Luke asked.
"They're both hard-headed. It's part of the Dugrey family inheritance," she rolled her eyes.
Will frowned at his sister. "What am I missing? Jake and Tristan are fighting? When did that start?"
Luke shifted uncomfortably at the mention of familial infighting. Any personal issues that he didn't have to deal with were best avoided in his opinion. "I'm just gonna go. Anna's gotta be starving."
"Thanks, Dad," Will said, letting his father off the hook before taking another look at his brother-in-law and nephew. "What gives?"
Rory sighed. "It's stupid. I keep telling Tristan that Jake is an adult now, and he needs to treat him as such, but he's dug his heels in on this point and is so sure he's right."
"Right about what?" Will asked. The father and son rarely fought. They got along better than Will and Luke, and that was saying something. Will had always assumed they had the Gilmore women to thank, and their mediating skills. When they couldn't argue for peace, they could lock themselves in a room with their husbands and achieve results by other methods. Will was just glad he'd never had to witness those devices. He preferred to think they were violent measures as opposed to measures that made him want to gouge his own eyes out.
Rory glanced at her son, who was stroking Jules' hair as she slept and Tristan, who was glaring at his son. Chances are that had Jules been awake, Tristan would have been slightly less openly hostile. But Tristan had even been cool to Jess since the issue had been raised three weeks ago, Rory assumed to cover as much ground as possible. If something didn't break soon, Rory was going to have to take drastic measures. "Jake got offered a job."
Will's eyes perked up. "Really? That's great. Wait. That's not great?" he asked, noting the lack of enthusiasm with which she delivered the news.
Rory hesitated. "It's complicated. It's a great job, a junior managing position with a big international conglomerate," she explained. "But it's in London."
Will nodded. "Okay, see, to me this keeps sounding better and better. Are they seriously fighting over this?"
Rory nodded. "Tristan thinks it sounds incredible, too. In fact, he's used the words 'too good to pass up' so many times I think the phrase has lost all meaning."
Will balked. "Jake doesn't want the job?"
"Oh, it's not that he doesn't want it. He just doesn't want it to be in London."
Will frowned, shaking his head. Maybe being up for so many hours in a row with his wife screaming directly in his ear had messed with his hearing. "What?"
Rory glanced furtively back to her son and his girlfriend. "Jules isn't done with school. And he doesn't want to leave her for so long."
Will's mouth opened slightly, as realization dawned on him. He was feeling particularly slow today, but he figured it would be forgiven due to his circumstances. "I take it you've attempted to talk some sense into them. Wait, do you want him to take it?"
Rory looked down at her shoes. "Officially I have no opinion."
Will raised an eyebrow. He'd never known his sister, or his mother, not to have an opinion. They had lots of very specific opinions. On every topic under the sun. He cringed, realizing his daughter shared DNA with these women and combined with his wife's uncanny ability to best him most of the time he was likely to be doomed to never win another argument or be sure as to what was ever going on around him for the rest of his life. He sighed.
"I can't!" she hissed. "I mean, on one hand, yes, it is an amazing job. Do I think an opportunity like this will present itself in the future? If it has once, it might again. Do I want him to live in London for a few years? Not especially, but it's not like we wouldn't visit. And you know, I like him with Jules. I think they're great together, and more importantly, they love each other. My son's in love," she sighed a mother's sigh. "How can I be impartial on the issue? I want him to do what he thinks is best. And I know Tristan just wants what he thinks is best for him. Tristan doesn't think he should break up with Jules, he just doesn't understand that not everyone is good at long distance. He seems to remember our courtship as a prime example of it working. I think he's forgotten all the time apart and how quickly he decided to transfer to Yale to be with me."
"Well, sure. What other choice did he have?" Will smirked at his sister.
"Exactly. But now Tristan and Jess are being weird, and I have no idea what this is doing to Jules and Jake, but they came here together and they haven't been more than an inch apart except for bathroom breaks, so I don't know. I just wish this would stop."
Will shook his head. "Wow. And I thought having a kid was a big deal."
Rory turned and hugged her brother. "It's a huge deal. I'm so happy for you. But I am sad to inform you that the job never ends. And sometimes you'll pray for lost night's sleep just being the cause of an infant who just wants some milk."
"Just for that, I'm gonna let Dave and Mal go in after the grandmas get done."
Rory pinched him. "The grandmas are never done. Didn't you read the new parent guide I gave you?"
He cringed. "I skimmed it."
"Do you want me to talk to Jake?" he offered.
Rory sighed. "No. I think I know what I need to do. I just was hoping it wouldn't come to this."
Will gave her a look. "It's not dirty, is it?"
"I don't understand why everyone thinks that everything Tristan and I do in private is so dirty."
"Because so much of what you do in public is dirty," he teased her.
"Oh, you," she rolled her eyes. "Go get Dave. I need to talk to Jess."
"I'm a dad now, but I still have to defer to my older sister?"
Rory glared. "Seriously, read the guide!" she instructed him as she moved down the hall to head off Jess, who was just returning from what she guessed was a lackluster excursion to the cafeteria.
Jess was reading as he walked, miraculously not bumping into any staff or patients who were roaming the halls, including one mother in very active labor who was bent over a handrail screaming at her husband that she wanted to perform a vasectomy on him herself right then and there. Jess didn't even seem to register the noise.
"Hey," she said, falling into step with him, steering him away from the waiting room. "Anything good down there?"
He shook his head. "Gwen stayed with Jack—they had soy milk and carrot sticks, and you'd think he had discovered Oreos and chocolate milk. I'm starting to worry that he's inherited Luke's eating habits."
"That's terrible," she agreed. "Give me Oreos and a chocolate milk any day. Luke ran out to get good coffee. I'll share with you, if you want."
He stopped and considered her offer. "At what cost?"
She feigned hurt. "Excuse me?"
"Come on. I know you're tired of the infighting. I have nothing to do with it, save for the fouls your husband keeps committing on the basketball court. Like I'm going to open my mouth and get in the middle of it all."
Rory's eyes went wide, ready to plead.
"Nuh-uh. Not the Bambi eyes, not on me. Put 'em away."
She frowned. "Come on, Jess. They're driving me nuts. Has Jules said anything to you?"
"Other than Jake got the job offer and hasn't officially turned it down? No."
Rory cocked her head ever so slightly to the side and shifted her weight. "And did she seem to have discussed with Jake whether or not she'd be supportive of either decision?"
Jess exhaled laboriously. "You mean did Jules say she was going to break up with him if he moved to London? No."
Rory nodded, relieved. "What's her music selection like these days?"
"Quit trying to parse my daughter's music for clues to your own family issues."
"Hey, in this scenario, my family issues are your family issues!" she defended.
He attempted to have a quick retort for that comment, but failed. "Yeah, well, I'm not ready for that."
Rory smiled. "You can't break up with me. It's not your decision."
He tensed at her words. "You're insane. You know that, so I don't know why I'm telling you."
"This has to end."
Jess nodded. "Preferably before your husband breaks my nose with his elbow while playing point guard."
"Why do I have to be the one to do all the heavy lifting?" she whined.
"You're the mother. It's what you do."
Rory sighed. "Fine. I'm going in."
"Here?" Jess asked.
"Yes. I can't take it anymore, and we're at a hospital. No matter whose nose gets broken, they're assured immediate medical care," she patted him on the shoulder.
"As long as you have a plan," Jess shook his head as he followed her back to the waiting room. She crossed the room and sat down in the empty chair next to her husband, who was once again attempting to talk sense into their son, who was seething in response, attempting not to yell and wake up Jules.
"I just wish you'd actually give it real thought. You're an adult now; you can't just decide on a whim that something might be too difficult and dismiss it outright. That's not like you anyhow. You've never backed down from challenges; if anything, you've sought them out."
"Can we just have a moratorium on how badly I'm screwing up my future, please?" Jake asked, wearily. "I'm tired."
"Tristan," Rory put her hand on her husband's. He gripped her hand, but he didn't quit speaking.
"No, I have always let you figure stuff out, only giving advice when you asked. But I can't sit by and let you turn down a job like this. Do you understand how rare this is, a job like this being offered to someone so young and green? And you could do it—there is no one better for the position. The stars aligned for this opportunity; I think the least you could do is sit down and really weigh out the consequences to accepting versus rejecting the offer. They gave you plenty of time to mull it over."
"I have," Jake said through gritted teeth. "Can you at least keep your voice down?"
"No! I can't. Does that mean you've decided, and that's it? Did you give them an answer?" Tristan demanded.
"I'm supposed to meet with the New York office team on Monday, but I have made up my mind."
"And?" Tristan pressed.
Jake's answer was interrupted by Jules shifting and waking up from her nap. She smiled at Tristan with caution and put her hand on Jake's leg. "He's taking it."
Jake looked at his girlfriend in bewilderment. "What?"
"You are?" Tristan asked, relief spreading over his previously strained features instantly. "Thank God."
"No," Jake shook his head. "Why would you say that?" he pressed Jules.
She stared at him intently. "You can't pass up this job."
He hadn't been prepared to fight yet another person on this, let alone Jules. "We talked about this."
"No, actually, you talked about this. You told me all the reasons you were afraid to take it. Actually, the one reason. You said you didn't want to leave me. And I've been giving it a lot of thought, and I've decided I don't want to be the only reason you don't take the job."
Rory and Tristan suddenly both felt way too close to this particular conversation. She yanked on his arm as she stood, forcibly dragging him with her. "Come on, I think we just bumped up in line to see the baby."
"Do they have a name yet?" Tristan asked.
"Who cares? Let's just give the kids some space," she muttered as they fled the room.
"Jules, it's my decision."
She moved her hand from his leg to his hand. "But shouldn't it be our decision? It affects both of us."
"That's why I'm not taking it. I'll get other job offers."
"This good? Come on, Jake. Admit it. You want to take that job. If it weren't for me, you'd have already said yes and be looking at flats."
He leaned in closer to her. "But it is for you. I can't pretend you don't exist."
She smiled. "I appreciate that."
"So you understand why I'm going to decline," he presumed.
She shook her head. "No. I think there are options you're not considering."
Jake shook his head. "I don't want to do long distance. This isn't living on other sides of New York—this is two separate continents. It's too far."
She leaned her forehead against his. "I don't want to be that far away from you either."
He smiled. "Then we're agreed."
She shook her head, her face set in determination. "No, we're not. There's one other answer to your question, but obviously either it hasn't occurred to you, or you aren't ready for it."
He watched her carefully. "I'm not going to break up with you to take some job, no matter how good it is."
She stood up and sighed in frustration. "No, you ass, I was talking about asking me to come with you!"
Jake sat in surprise as she huffed off. His next glance went to Jess, who was watching with way too much interest. And most likely a desire to remove his appendix without anesthesia for fun. Lia Melville had also been watching the exchange and took pity on Jake, as she slipped into the seat Jules had been occupying.
"You going after her?" she asked calmly.
"I should. Right?" he consulted his girlfriend's best friend and official, though at this point infrequent, roommate.
Lia nodded. "As long as you're prepared to have that conversation."
He let out a breath and glanced quickly back at Jess before answering her quietly. "I've thought about it. I just didn't want to ask her to uproot herself. She loves Sarah Lawrence, and she's not done. I don't want to put this on her."
Lia raised an eyebrow, the hint of a knowing grin tugging at her lips. "And you're terrified of Jess."
He nodded. "That was a given."
"Go talk to her. Just… don't do anything stupid."
Jake paused. "Okay, why do girls always say that without giving specifics? Is it to intentionally make us second-guess everything that is about to come out of our mouths?"
Lia pondered his question. "I guess we give you too much credit. How about this; don't do anything you're not ready to do just to try to keep her."
He nodded. "I can do that. Thanks," he paused again, glancing back at Jess. "Do you think he's going to kill me?"
Lia giggled. "I think he probably would have done it by now if he planned on it."
Jake stood up, knowing that was the only comfort he was going to obtain. "Alright. I'm going."
Jake took off in the direction Jules had fled, and Jess stood up slowly and followed in the same direction. Lia sighed, hoping it would turn out for the best—which she really hoped would not involve a weepy roommate for the foreseeable future. Billy came up and sat down next to her.
"Did you see Mom roll Dad across the floor?"
Lia snickered. "Yeah. It pretty much made being here all night worth it. Think we'll get to see the kid soon?"
He shrugged. "I think the line's kinda long. It's not like it's our first niece. I need to go soon, though, so hopefully people will realize it's just a baby and I can get to work."
"Ah, spoken like a loving uncle," Lia rolled her eyes at her brother.
"What? You don't like babies either," he accused.
Lia faltered. "What? That's crazy! Babies are cute. You know, when you can give them back to their parents when they start making noises. Or smells."
Billy nodded. "I second that. At least you're off the hook, though, right?"
Lia frowned. "Off the hook? That didn't sound like a compliment."
Billy shrugged. "Yeah, you know. With Mom and Dad. They don't expect you to have children."
Lia crossed her arms and glared at him. "And why not?"
He looked only slightly unnerved and pressed on. "I just meant that it wouldn't be… I mean, physiologically speaking," he faltered.
"It sounds like you're projecting your own issues onto me. Do you not want to have kids?"
He shook his head. "Not really. I mean, I love Jane, but can you blame me for not wanting to play Russian roulette with those genetics? I could father a tiny version of Paris. I can barely handle seeing her when they come into town for a visit, and that's infrequent enough. Besides, I'm in no rush to get married either. Jane and I have a good thing going. Why mess that up by changing things?"
Lia blinked at her ignorant brother. "Because, dumbass, that's what people do. They fall in love. And they want more. Don't you want more?"
Billy thought for a moment. "I'm happy with things as things are. I have Jane and our business. I don't need anything else."
Lia clasped her hands together. "Well, then I sincerely hope Jane feels the same way."
Billy frowned at her words, clearly never having had that realization before.
Dave held his niece as Mal leaned over him. "Isn't it nice to know we can give this one back?" he asked happily.
Mal smiled at the tiny baby. "I'll never admit it to our kids, but yes. To get all the newborn cuteness without the sleepless nights—sounds like a perfect pairing to me," she admitted.
"How are you doing, Ann?" Dave asked his sister, who was once again in bed resting. The nurse had gone a while ago, and Will had checked in once to assure her food was on the way before going back out to make sure some other unnamed situation was going okay. He was light on details, but she was too tired to care. "Want us to go and let you sleep?"
She shook her head. "No. I want you all to get a chance to meet her. I'll just sit here and rest while get to know your niece."
"Hey, I don't mean to be nosey, but make sure you and Will get birth control lined up, as soon as possible," Mal instructed her sister-in-law.
"Uh, sort of the furthest thing from my mind right now," Anna admitted. "Going to the bathroom was a fun enough surprise. I love Will, but after today, I totally get the six-week waiting period."
Mal smiled easily. "Your body will bounce back pretty quickly. You'll be amazed at how fast. And there's lots of books and websites that say you can't get pregnant before a certain time or if you're breastfeeding, but trust me. You'll save yourself a lot of trouble if you just assume that every time he's at bat, he's going to knock it out of the park."
"I'd feel much better if I thought you weren't discussing my brother's sex life with me," Anna cringed.
"Hey, a man has needs," Dave justified.
"Okay, baby time is over for you. Put her back in her bassinette and send in Rory and Tristan."
"But," Dave protested.
"Thanks for coming, now go home to your own children," she shooed him out. Mal gave the baby a kiss and Anna a hug.
"You did great," she smiled. "But seriously. Birth control."
"I hear you. Say hi to the kids for me," Anna nodded, glad to not discuss it a moment longer. The moment they were out the door, she reached over from her bed and smoothed the baby's blankets. "I'm sorry to tell you that inappropriate conversation is par for the course in this family. In fact, you should probably start ignoring all your Uncle Billy says from this point on. But you're a tough girl, you'll get used to it, won't you?"
A soft knock came to the open door, and Rory smiled from around it. "Mind a couple more visitors?"
Anna smiled at her other sister-in-law. "Come on in, Aunt Rory."
Rory beamed. "I've waited so long to be a real aunt, not just an honorary one. Hi. I'm your Aunt Rory," she cooed to the baby she delicately took in her arms. "I'm going to spoil you rotten. I know you have other aunts, but I promise to always have the best candy and the best movies when you come stay at our house."
Anna smiled at Rory's words to her little baby.
"I'm your Uncle Tristan. I'm the one in charge of giving the insulin shots and turning off the television after you fall asleep," he smirked at his wife.
"Please. She has Gilmore blood. She's impervious."
Tristan shrugged. "One can hope. She's definitely a beauty, though," he complimented Anna.
"Wait 'til she yawns," Anna responded knowingly.
"Oh, she's so teeny. Ella was small like this. Her whole foot fit in my mouth," she remembered nostalgically. "Not that I put it in my mouth a lot. Just that one time, to see if it would fit," she explained awkwardly.
Tristan patted Rory's back. "Don't worry, we won't let crazy Aunt Rory bite your feet off," he informed the baby, who continued to sleep peacefully.
"I've already warned her that all her relatives are strange. She doesn't seem daunted yet," Anna laughed.
"Well, she's got everything she needs. How are you, do you need anything? Luke left a while ago, he should be back soon with food and stuff."
"Coffee?" Anna nodded knowingly.
Rory grinned sheepishly. "Sorry. I know you're still limited, and you worked really hard. It's just been a while since I've been up most of the night. Us older folk need our beauty sleep. This giving birth and being up with newborns is well in my past."
"Except for Jess," Tristan snickered. "He was doing this not too long ago."
Rory shot him a look, which ceased his laughter.
Anna noticed. "What's going on? Is this about the situation Will went to check on?"
"Uh, it's nothing. It's totally under control, I think. You should get some rest before this one wakes up and decides she's hungry. We'll fill you in later, when everything's been ironed out."
Anna nodded, feeling a little out of the loop. She hadn't realized it would happen so quickly, though she had heard that having a baby often puts people in a socially sheltered situation for a time as they adapt to a new person joining the family. Rory put the baby back down to sleep and hugged her sister-in-law.
"Hey, send Will in if you see him?"
Rory nodded curtly. "I'll find him."
"They look serious," Will said, stopping next to Jess as he stood around the corner from his daughter as she spoke in private with her boyfriend.
"Yeah. Can't hear them, though. Too much white noise in a hospital. I just don't want her be upset."
Will frowned. "You don't think they'll break up?"
Jess shrugged. "I don't know. Tristan is riding the kid pretty hard about taking the job, and Jules thinks he should take it—everyone thinks he should take it. But," he shook his head. "I know they've gotten serious about each other, but I'm not sure I'm prepared to think of her like this."
Will watched the pair converse, oblivious to the rest of the world around them. "Like what?"
"As an adult. In love. Making decisions that I have no control over. Possibly getting her heart broken. It's happened before, but it's different, when you know that your kid isn't going to be with her boyfriend she met at sixteen forever. You're prepared to help her when that ends. It's easier to know what to say. But now, with a guy like Jake, if it ends…," he blew out air. "Man, I wish I had a cigarette."
Will smiled. "I guess you can't bum one off Tristan right now?"
Jess shrugged. "He's just stressed; he wants the same things I do—for them to be happy. We just have different parenting styles. It's also harder—it's his son."
Will looked at his cousin. "Does that matter? That you're dealing with Jules and not Ambrose?"
Jess shrugged. "Ambrose sulks when he's upset, and he's insolent, but I know what to say to him. I always know what to say to him. With Jules, I mean, I'm her dad, but as she's gotten older and doesn't have to listen to me, it gets trickier. I guess I'm more cognizant of keeping the lines of communication open."
"You're a great dad. I'll be happy if I'm half the dad you or my dad are."
Jess smiled. "Don't… worry about screwing your first kid up. Because you're going to do stupid stuff—you're just not going to know what to do in every situation. But it'll be okay. Kids are resilient as hell. As long as you love 'em, and you show up, you'll figure it out. You guys are going to be great parents."
Will smiled. "Thanks. So, tell me, how hard is it to just stand here and wait to see how that plays out?"
Jess shook his head. "I'm gonna go find Tristan. We'll rob a convenience store if we have to, to get some cigarettes."
"And on that note, I'm gonna go check on my wife and baby daughter."
"Just remember—sleep's for losers. But really you should just read that thing Rory gave you," Jess said with a twinkle in his eye.
"I'm starting to realize that," Will yawned as he went back to his wife's room.
Jake didn't say anything for a long time. "Is he gone?" he asked at last.
Jules peered over his shoulder to where her father had been standing, visibly restraining himself from pacing. "Yeah. He and Will just went their separate ways."
"He thinks I'm about to hurt you."
She looked up at him. "Are you?"
He shook his head and ran a hand from her elbow to her fingers. "I don't ever want to do that."
"Then why don't you want me to come with you?" she asked, tears at the ready, but not falling.
"Jules," he put his arms around her shoulders and drew her against him. "It's not that I don't want you to come with me."
"Then why haven't you asked me to?" she put him on the spot.
"I've thought about it," he admitted. "But you're still in school. I can't ask you to quit school, pack up, and move to another country, just because I got a job."
"They have schools in London. Good ones," she pointed out.
"I know, but none that you're currently enrolled at."
"Maybe I'd like to take a year off and travel."
"You've never mentioned that before."
"You've never asked," she said pointedly.
"If I asked," he began, doing his best to follow Lia's advice and still not overthink his words too much. "Would you consider it?"
Jules was silent for a moment as she studied his face. "Just what exactly would you be asking?"
He ran a hand over his face. He was tired, and he had not been prepared to have this conversation. He had known for some time that they needed to have this kind of conversation, but he'd imagined it going very differently—and definitely in a very different setting. "I love you."
She smiled. "I love you, too."
"And when we started seeing each other, we agreed that we'd just see how things went."
She nodded. "We did."
"I like how things are going. I like them a lot. And to change how things are," he grappled for words.
"Look, Jake, I get that maybe this puts us in a position you aren't ready for," she began.
"No, that's not it. Before all this happened, I'd been thinking about the future. About our future. But I was in no hurry to act on it, because you were still in school and you like living with Lia, and we still had plenty of time to spend together in the city and there was no reason to change what I thought was working for the time being."
She remained hesitant. "Okay, I guess that makes sense."
"But if I take this job and move to London, suddenly either you come with me—essentially tying your life to mine, or you stay here, cutting our relationship down to phone calls and occasional visits with long plane rides."
She nodded, not exactly sure where he was headed with this. "Right."
"So, can you see how I was willing to turn down the job to keep things on a timeline I thought was working?"
She let out a breath. "You're not ready to take the next step."
He shook his head. "This isn't coming out right. This isn't how I wanted to do this, at all," he groaned in frustration.
"Do what? How did you want to do it?" she inquired, now feeling the stress that had built up start to release.
"I want to marry you! But I wanted to talk to your dad first, I wanted to wait for you to finish school, and I wanted to not have the fact that I might move thousands of miles away looming over us when I told you that."
Her body leaned back toward the smooth, cold wall of the corridor. Her eyes widened as she looked at him, standing there in front of her all stressed out and waiting for her to respond. "Oh."
His lips pursed. "I don't mean right this second. I'm not trying to rush this, and I'm not going to ask you to marry me just so you'll go with me. I do want you to go with me, but I'm also willing to not go, because I want to be with you. I'm that certain I want to be with you."
She frowned. "You still haven't asked me any questions."
He gave a small laugh and stepped closer to her again. "Juliet Mariano," he began, making her smirk at him. "Will you consider moving to London with me?"
She shrugged with feigned apathy. "I'll have to think about it."
"God, woman, you're going to be the death of me," he groaned in response. "Well, either you or your father."
She smiled. "Dad's going to kill you. But I can take a year off. Take the time to check out colleges in London, see if I'd rather transfer or finish here later."
His face relaxed. "You'd really do this?"
She lightly pinched his arm. "I don't plan on letting you get away that easily."
He picked her up in a giant hug and kissed her. "I still want you to think about it. I don't have to answer them until Monday. We need a plan, if we're really going to do this."
She nodded. "I know. We'll figure it out. But we'll figure it out together. And you and your dad can start talking in normal tones of voice again."
"And your dad will start openly plotting my demise?"
She laughed. "It's possible."
"I was afraid of that," he sighed as he slipped an arm around her shoulders, steering her back toward the waiting room.
"This is the best burger I've ever had," Anna purred as she devoured it using only one hand. The baby had since woken and was having her own meal. Luke cleared his throat nervously, looking anywhere but near the lunching ladies.
"It's just a boob," Lorelai whispered to him evilly. "It's the most natural thing in the world."
"You could have warned me," he muttered insolently.
"Where is the fun in that?" she mocked her husband. "Hey," she said in a louder voice. "Did we land on a name, after all this time? My granddaughter doesn't like to be kept waiting. And a name is something no one can be without," she added.
Will finished off his own burger and tossed the wrapper. "After much debate, we have landed on a name," he announced to the small crowd that had gathered in the room during the official visiting hours. Some people had already started filtering out, needing to get back to work or their own kids. The room was filled with flowers and balloons and stuffed animals, all sent to welcome the new addition.
"And just where did you land?" Rory asked, sipping her coffee.
Will looked to Anna with a smile. "You want the honors or should I?"
Anna swallowed a bite of her sandwich and gestured awkwardly given her two busy hands. "Go ahead."
He moved over to gaze at his daughter, who had fallen asleep at her task. He took the baby from Anna so she could resituate herself and finish eating with two hands. Luke, who was in visible pain, turned around at that point with a grunt.
"Everyone, I'd like you to officially welcome … Theodora."
Rory's face screwed up into a confused grimace. She shot her mother a look that seemed to question her brother's sincerity, but it was clear Lorelai wasn't sure either. Sookie's eyes widened, and she stepped up. "Theodora? What's the matter with you two?"
Innocence washed over Will. "You don't like it?"
Lorelai gasped. "Oh God. You haven't filled out her birth certificate yet, have you?"
"Hey, it's a family name. It's Dad's grandmother's name!" Anna piped up, surprised at the level of outrage. They figured no one would approve of that name, but that everyone would buck up and at least pretend for a moment.
"Kids will tease her until she begs you to homeschool her! They'll call her Theodork and Dora the Explorer!" Sookie admonished. "Anything is better than that name!"
"Maybe they want to homeschool," Lorelai offered by way of extending lame support.
"We won't have to homeschool," Will rolled his eyes at the dramatic show of opposition.
"Is she going to go by her middle name? What is it, Althea? Morag? Eunice?" Sookie shook her head.
Anna frowned. "You really all hate it that much?"
Jackson nodded. "Even I know it's bad. And I loved my grandmother, even though kids used to hold their breath while they ran past her house."
"She was scary?" Rory asked.
"No. She had an outhouse, and it really smelled on hot days," he cringed.
"She had an outhouse?" Lorelai asked in disbelief.
"My Nana was a bit on the eccentric side," he admitted.
"And I thought Bon Bon was probably the family eccentric," Lorelai giggled.
"We're not naming her Theodora," Will announced over the others. "We thought it would be a funny icebreaker. But we did pick a family name," he nodded.
"Please say it's not Bon Bon," Sookie closed her eyes in hope.
"Bon Bon Danes. There's a name that people would remember," Rory barked in laughter. "Please tell me you didn't name your daughter Bon Bon Danes," she pouted at her brother. "I was just starting to enjoy being an aunt."
"I had no idea that all your love was so conditional," Anna raised an eyebrow at her loved ones.
"I would like you all to say hello, for real this time, to Katherine Grace," Will said with a smile as he continued to hold his daughter against his chest.
Luke looked up. "Wait. That's my mother's name."
Will smiled. "I know."
Luke smiled. "Huh."
Lorelai rolled her eyes. "Great. He's gone monosyllabic again. Do you know how hard I work to evoke full sentences out of this man?"
"Sorry, Mom," Will offered. "Would you like to hold Katherine?"
Lorelai beamed. "In fact, I would. And I would like to thank you for not naming her Emily. I am eternally grateful."
Will smirked. "Well, there's always the next one."
"I'm sorry, the next one?" Anna yelped from her seat on the ice pack.
Will craned back. "What? I thought you wanted more than one!"
She nodded. "Yeah, but maybe we could put off plans for the next one until after I've fully healed from having the first one. You're as bad as Dave."
He cringed. "You"ll let me know."
She nodded in relief.
Rory moved to stroke her niece's face. "Hello there, Katherine. I want to stay and enjoy you, but I need to go find my husband before he and Jess smoke a whole carton of cigarettes."
"Okay, what was going on earlier?" Anna inquired.
Rory let out a sigh. "Jake got offered that job in London. And he's now agreed to take it, much to Tristan's relief, might I add. But only if Jules goes with him."
Lorelai cringed. "So, now Tristan's happy, but Jess is the basket case?"
Rory nodded. "I can only imagine. The kids had to go after they told us what they'd discussed. They made it sound like they're still talking about details and nothing was definite, but the way they look at each other… she's not going to let him stay and he's not going anywhere without her."
"Just think. Someday your little girl will meet someone that she'll want to follow halfway around the world, and drop out of college for," Lorelai beamed at her son.
Will looked nervous. "I should probably get some guns. And a house with a basement."
Luke shook his head. "Doesn't work. The moment you think you're covering all your bases, they work out a code and figure out all the hidden escape routes that you'll never find," he sighed.
"I never snuck out of the house," Will replied.
Luke shot his wife a look. "No, but your mother apparently was quite the expert."
"Don't worry sweet girl, I'll teach you all my tricks," Lorelai whispered to the baby. "Good luck with the boys," she said to her daughter.
"Thanks. Congrats again. I'll come up soon to make sure Will isn't using duct tape on the diapers."
"Why would I do that?" he asked.
She poked her brother in the chest. "Seriously. Read the guide I gave you!"
He kissed her cheek. "I'm starting to realize it would be beneficial."
She rolled her eyes and laughed as she waved to Anna and headed out to find her husband, who was no doubt attempting to make nice to Jess after his mistreatment and their sudden reversal of fortune.
"Are you sure it's okay to smoke up here? It's a hospital."
Jess nodded as he blew out a puff into the fresh air. "It's where the doctors come to smoke. I saw a few looking happy and relaxed ones coming down while I was looking for the cafeteria."
Tristan nodded. "Good view."
"Of Hartford," Jess said in an unimpressed tone. "I mean, I know you're from here, but you have to admit; it's no New York."
"You dislike all towns that aren't New York?" Tristan raised an eyebrow.
Jess shrugged. "It's where I grew up. Where my kids grew up."
Tristan sighed. "Look, I shouldn't have been so bullheaded about the whole job situation."
Jess snorted in retort.
Tristan paused. "I didn't think that his taking it would lead to Jules dropping out of school."
Jess closed his eyes in what appeared to be pain. "She's not dropping out. She's deferring. Or taking a sabbatical. She is not dropping out. She's going to finish. That part is not negotiable. I plan on making that very clear to both of them," he assured his friend.
Tristan nodded. "Fair enough. Though Rory gets a little protective when her kids are threatened."
"A little? She's like a mother bear over her cubs. But your kids are both over twenty one. Jules isn't twenty one yet. I guess I should be glad that she's doing this with a guy like Jake and that she didn't pull this when she was sixteen," he shook his head.
Tristan smiled. "It's okay to approve of my son dating your daughter. No one will hold it against you."
Jess sighed. "I was more approving before this."
"Is Erin gonna flip?"
He shook his head. "No. She started doing yoga and has found inner peace or something. Besides, it's not like she doesn't already to have to travel pretty far just to see her kids. They mostly Skype with her anyhow."
Tristan frowned. "Inner peace, huh?"
Jess smirked. "I tried to tell her that smoking was a much faster road to enlightenment, but she told me I should meditate on my zen and then she hung up on me."
Tristan now just laughed. "That's awesome."
"Isn't it?" Jess chuckled, pleased with himself.
"Are you ever afraid Gwen is going to find her inner peace?" Tristan asked seriously after a moment.
Jess shook his head. "Gwen was so different from Erin. Not that I didn't love her, but she put me through a lot. There was always some sort of drama, stuff we had to overcome. With Gwen, it's not like that. It doesn't get harder. You know," he nodded to Tristan.
Tristan nodded. "Yeah. I know. But what if that's how Jules feels about Jake? That this isn't something they have to overcome, but something they get to experience together?"
Jess took another drag. "I'm not gonna tell her not to go. That's not how I parent, but," he nodded as he looked out over the skyline. "I just want them to realize that this is big, and they have to be smart about it."
Tristan put his hand on Jess' shoulder. "Hey, you know Rory and I have your back. Even if we have to fly over there to get her if things go south, of if they need anything and you can't go. We don't just love Jules because she's dating out son."
Jess dropped his filter and stubbed it out. "I know. Come on, I think our time has run out."
Tristan had learned to trust Jess' radar over the years and did the same. The both turned as the door opened to reveal Rory Dugrey—her hand already glued to her hip, as she covered her slightly amused demeanor with disgust.
"Look, it's the wife," Jess smirked at her.
Rory raised an eyebrow. "You have a small child still to raise, Jess. And that might prove difficult if Gwen smells smoke on you and bars you from the house."
He shrugged. "I plan on walking through a perfume store on the way home and claiming the need to jump in the shower."
"You think she's that dumb?" Rory balked.
"No, I think what I'll do to her in the shower is that distracting," he smirked again.
Rory huffed and looked to her husband. He also smirked. "I also promise a distracting shower in your future."
"You think I'm that easily swayed, to forgive you for doing something you swore to me you were done doing?" she protested.
His smirk got bigger. "Fine, have it your way. We can do it in the laundry room."
"Never would have pegged you for a laundry room kind of woman," Jess mused.
"It started when the kids had to start doing their own laundry. It was the last room they'd go in without a threat of grounding. Perfect spot," Tristan explained.
"Hey!" Rory poked him in the ribs. "No giving away secrets."
Tristan pointed to Jess. "We don't have any secrets."
Rory turned a fierce shade of pink. "Well, start."
Tristan smiled sheepishly while Jess snickered under his breath. "He always speaks of you in the most respectful and uh, what's the word," he paused, "glowing terms."
Rory slugged his shoulder. "Are we done with the initial pouting over Jake and Jules? We should get back home and start planning out a game plan, so we're all on the same page."
"Yes, dear," they both deadpanned as she held the door open and they passed through it.
Will kissed his daughter's head as she rested in Anna's arms. "Okay, Mom and Dad were the last to go, and Mom reminded me that she's available at the drop of a hat to take Katherine and show her new granddaughter off at the inn," he shook his head. "Now that everyone's gone and she's asleep, we should put her down and rest."
Anna nodded. "She's just so cute. I don't want to put her down."
Will held out his arms for the baby swap. "Yeah, you say that now, but in two hours when she wakes up for her first feeding, you'll find her slightly less cute. And two hours after that, you won't care if you gave birth to an orangutan, if it let you sleep just five more minutes."
"You read that manual, huh?"
"The first few pages," he admitted.
Anna kissed Katherine's cheek and handed her to Will. "Go to Daddy. We'll be right here."
Katherine barely stirred as Will placed her in the bassinette and moved to clear off his makeshift bed for the night. "At least we get to go home tomorrow," he said. "I miss our bed."
"Yeah. These aren't comfortable after you give birth. And I'm pretty sure it was only comfy then because I was getting drugs."
Will laughed softly. "You were anxious to find some relief," he said as he handed her a Kit-Kat bar.
Her eyes lit up. "Where did you get this?"
He smiled. "I have my ways."
"You didn't steal it, did you?"
He shook his head. "I bribed a nurse to go down the nurses' lounge on the next floor to get me one."
"I love you," she kissed him gratefully.
"Get some sleep," he advised. "After you enjoy your treat."
Anna paused. "Are you at all scared that we're just going to be bad at this?"
He hesitated. "I will say it's a little daunting. We're responsible for her. She's tiny and beautiful, but a little terrifying."
"Are you more concerned about her beauty or her size?" Anna inquired.
"At the moment? Her size. I don't want to drop her or roll over on her. But later, I'm sure it'll be her beauty."
Anna reached out and squeezed his hand. "You're gonna be a great father. You already are."
He smiled. "Yeah? How's that?"
She held up the Kit-Kat. "You're keeping her mommy happy. And if mommy's happy," she led.
She nodded and hit the button her bed that dimmed the overhead light, as she yawned loudly, put the Kit-Kat bar to the side to enjoy during a midnight feeding, and they fell asleep in the same room as their little girl for the first time.