Chapter One – The Math Test

Her first clue that something out of the ordinary was happening was the apple that Rory grabbed to eat for breakfast on her way to the bus.

She'd slept through her alarm that morning, which should have been her real first clue that something was amiss. Rory was usually not the kind of person who slept through alarms; in fact, she was normally annoyingly punctual. But she'd been so tired lately that the sound of the alarm clock blaring at 5:30am (an unfortunate wake up time, but the bus had an early departure that day, what with the fact that they had almost 10 hours of driving to look forward to before reaching that day's function) did nothing to rouse her from her sleep. That morning, Rory's roommate, Claire, was forced to shake her awake.

"Whaa?" she said sleepily, pushing her hair out of her eyes.

"Rory, wake up!" Claire insisted. "The bus leaves in 30 minutes and you haven't even showered! Why are you still in bed, anyway?"

Rory had bolted out of bed in a panic, stumbling into the shower and getting dressed without even glancing down at what she'd chosen to wear that day.

Unfortunately, Rory's late start that morning meant that she had barely any time to have breakfast. While Claire dragged Rory's suitcase down to the bus for her, Rory ran down to the lobby to see if she could at least grab some coffee from the complimentary continental breakfast buffet. There was no way Rory was going without coffee that morning, especially if she didn't have enough time to eat.

It was there that she saw the assortments of fruits piled neatly into a basket. Rory stared at the arrangement, barely even paying attention to the coffee she was pouring for herself. (Of course, this almost caused her to spill it all over the blue table cloth.) Her eyes zoned in on a beautiful, shiny red apple. The only thought that crossed Rory's mind was how delicious the piece of fruit looked. So without even really thinking about it, she grabbed the apple, tossing it into her laptop bag before carefully placing the lid on her coffee cup, and ran out to meet the other reporters on the bus.

She'd only been on the bus following Barak Obama's presidential campaign for a couple of weeks. It was fast paced and hard work, but Rory would be lying if she said she wasn't enjoying herself. Of course, adjusting her sleep schedule had been difficult, but that was to be expected, right? There were some days when the bus left at a perfectly respectable hour, and then there were others, like today, that only allotted a few hours of sleeping in a bed, while the rest of Rory's shut eye was destined to take place on a bus. Of course she'd be tired all the time – that was to be expected. Maybe she seemed a bit more worn out than the other reporters were, but all that meant was they were better at adjusting than she was. It wasn't a big deal. It was certainly something that Rory could handle.

At least, Rory didn't think it was a big deal, until she started eating the apple.

She was about half way finished with it when she suddenly remembered a time, about two years ago, when her mom had told her about a situation in which she'd eaten an apple. For normal people, eating an apple wouldn't normally be a huge event. But Gilmore Girls did not eat fruits or vegetables, ever.

It had happened the day that Sookie went into labor, before she had Martha. Lorelai had called Rory from the hospital, needing to tell her daughter that she'd just eaten an apple and liked it. Lorelai was a little freaked out, because the last time she'd enjoyed eating an apple had happened when she was sixteen, over twenty years ago. It was the first sign that Lorelai was pregnant with Rory.

Of course, that day had turned out to be a fluke. Lorelai wasn't pregnant. Rory, on the other hand…

She dropped the apple in disgust, suddenly not hungry in the slightest.

No. It was impossible. She'd always been so careful. Rory couldn't possibly be –

But suddenly, she started doing the math in her head. She'd graduated from Yale almost three weeks ago. Normally, she tried hard not to think about her graduation day. It held too many unpleasant memories. Like the image of his disappointed face as she handed him back the beautiful engagement ring he'd offered to her. She'd been unable to say yes at the time, and turning him down had nearly broken her heart. It was watching him walk away from her that really shattered it.

She tried to remember the last time she'd had sex (without actually thinking about the person in question, because the thought of him still caused a stabbing pain in her stomach). It must have been right before her graduation party; about three weeks ago. Had anything unusual happened that day? Rory couldn't remember once forgetting to take her birth control; normally, she was obsessively precise about taking it on time. She couldn't remember ever skipping a birth control pill. Occasionally when the box was empty they'd go without a condom, but Rory couldn't for the life of her remember the last time they'd done that. Had it been recent? She didn't think so.

Panic started to set in when she realized her period should have come a week ago. In all the tumult from being on the bus and finally getting to be a real reporter, Rory hadn't even noticed that she was late.

"Are you okay?" Claire asked from the seat next to her. Rory had almost forgotten that she was there. "You look a little pale."

Was she? "I'm – " Rory started to say that she was fine, but she couldn't quite bring herself to finish that sentence. She wasn't fine. Either this was all a fluke or she really was…oh god, that would be even worse. She couldn't even think about what that meant. Not yet. Not until she knew for sure. Not until she had some perspective.

"I need to call my mom," Rory said instead. "Now."

"Are you crazy?" asked Claire as Rory fumbled through her purse in search of her cell phone. "You're from the East Coast; it's barely six in the morning back home!"

"I know, but it's important. I need…" her thought trailed off again. "I just really need to talk to her right now."

Claire stared at her blankly. Rory wasn't really surprised at Claire's confusion. In the short time she'd been on the bus, Rory had only acted this tongue tied and psychotic on her first day. Normally, Rory was much more composed and put together.

Claire rolled her eyes. "Whatever. Go take the Phone Booth if it's so important to you. But don't come crying to me if you're mom doesn't want to talk to you. I'm going back to sleep."

The Phone Booth, as the other reporters had named it, was the area in the very back of the bus. No one liked to sit back there. It was impossible to sleep, because every bump would jolt you awake. So instead, the last two rows of the bus were always kept empty, thus making it possible for someone to escape for a short amount of time to make a private phone call. Of course, it was impossible to have a truly private call in such close proximity, but it was the best they could do under the circumstances. Most people who sat close to the Phone Booth were courteous enough to put in headphones whenever someone went to make a private phone call, but you could never be too sure that privacy was really being achieved.

Luckily for Rory it was still early, so most of the bus had already gone back to sleep. The previous night had given them a grand total of four hours to sleep in a hotel room after a very long day of covering a rally, so everyone was just as tired as Rory always seemed to be. She was grateful for that, at least, as she settled herself into the seats at the very back of the bus, scrolling through the contacts on her phone, and pushing send when she reached her house number.

"I hate you," was the mumbled response of her mother. "Whoever this is, I hate you."

"Mom?"

There was a shuffling sound as Rory waited for the response. She imagined that Lorelai was rolling over in her bed to check what time it was. Then, upon realizing how early her daughter was calling, Lorelai would probably sit up as the concern washed over her due to Rory's sudden phone call.

"Rory?" Lorelai questioned. "Honey, is everything okay? What's wrong?"

"I…" For what must have been the tenth time that day, Rory's thought trailed off. "I'm not sure."

"You're not sure if everything's okay, or you're not sure what's wrong?"

"Both, I guess." Rory let out a sigh. She didn't know exactly how to start this conversation.

There was silence on the other end of the phone as Lorelai waited for Rory to continue.

"I just ate an apple. And I liked it."

She was met with more silence.

"Are you trying to tell me what I think you're trying to tell me?"

"Well, I don't know," said Rory, hugging her knees to her chest with one arm as she held the phone to her ear with the other, her back resting against the window of the bus. "I can't seem to think straight."

She listened as Lorelai took a deep breath. "Okay. Let's look at the facts here. Have you been feeling nauseous at all? How's your energy?"

"A little motion sickness sometimes, but nothing too bad. Usually just on the bumpy roads with lots of potholes. And I slept through my alarm this morning, but again, that could mean anything. Our sleep schedule has been awful."

"Okay. What about birth control? Have you missed any?"

"I don't think so; I can't really remember. It's been three weeks since the last time we…" Rory couldn't bring herself to say it. Images of that morning, the two of them getting ready for the graduation party, were already flashing through her mind. They were running late that day, having gotten bit distracted while getting ready, all their clothes winding up back on the floor before they'd even finished putting them on. She tried not to picture his smiling, happy face staring back at her as he –

She banished the images quickly.

"When was your last period?" Lorelai finally asked the blunt question; the one that Rory was dreading the most.

She tried to swallow the lump that was forming in her throat. "I should have gotten it a week ago."

She could almost hear Lorelai's thoughts ticking in her head through the phone. She was quiet for a long time.

"Well hun, I don't think there's really much I can tell you. Not until you take a – "

"Don't say the 'p' word!" Rory insisted, a hint of panic rising in her voice. She wasn't ready to hear that just yet.

"Okay, fine. Let's call it 'math' for now."

"Math." Rory took a deep breath. She could do that. "Math is okay. I can call it math."

"Sweetie, here's what I need you to do. The second you can, go to the drug store and buy a…math test. Then lock yourself in the bathroom when you have some free time. Call me the second you can, no matter what. You won't know anything until then, so try to relax a little. Get some sleep. Try not to obsess over this too much."

Rory was too freaked out to even argue that she wouldn't obsess over it. She let out her breath shakily.

"Mom…I don't want to pass this math test. I can't."

"Rory, I know you're worried, but don't over think this. You won't know for sure until you take the math test, so I want you to stop making the lists that I know you're already making with plans for what to do next if you pass your math test. Try to take your mind off it, okay hun?"

"Okay." She pulled her legs in tighter, trying to squeeze the worry away. It wasn't working.

"And call me as soon as you can, even if it's the middle of the night."

"I will. Thanks, mom."

"Oh, kid," she heard Lorelai say with a sigh. "I promise you that it's going to be okay, no matter what happens."

At the first rest stop, Rory hid in the aisles of the convenience store/gift shop, waiting for all the other reporters to return to the bus. She then grabbed not one, but five different 'math' tests from the shelf, blushing furiously as she handed them to the cashier. She refused to look up as she handed the girl her money, and didn't even wait around for change. Rory buried the bag deep within her purse as she ran back outside to meet the bus.

She had trouble concentrating at the event she was supposed to be covering. Her notes were scattered at best. She'd have to stretch a bit in order to write a decent article. She might even have to recycle some older material, but for the first time, that didn't really bother her. She was too distracted today.

They were checked into their hotel by nine that night, with a full day off the next day. Many of the other reporters, including Claire, decided to take that opportunity to have a night out. Rory declined the offer, feigning a head ache (which wasn't that hard to fake; everyone else saw how off Rory was acting that day), and the minute Claire closed the door to their room behind her, Rory downed five large glasses of water in quick succession. Taking a deep breath, she dug the bag of 'math' tests out of her purse, and locked herself in the bathroom.

She lay down on the cold tiles of the bathroom floor, curled up on her side in the fetal position, while she waited for the allotted amount of time to pass.

She called Lane. She wasn't ready to talk to her mom yet; that would make it too real. She needed someone who would freak out with her. She needed her best friend.

"Hey, you have great timing," Lane said upon answering the phone. "I just got the kids to sleep. How are you? How's the campaign going?"

"I just took a math test!" Rory exclaimed, panic rising in her voice.

"Okay, you're gonna have to fill me in here. What are you talking about?"

Rory took several shallow breaths before beginning her explanation. "I'm a week late."

"Late for what?"

"Lane! I'm a week late."

There was a muffled silence on the other end of the line. Rory assumed that she was telling her husband, Zack, who was about to leave on a two month tour, to hold on for a minute. She heard the soft click of what sounded like a door closing.

"Okay, I'm outside," Lane continued. "Start again. You're a week late…"

"Right. I'm a week late. And this morning, I ate an apple."

"Oh, god."

"And I liked it."

"Oh my god!"

"And the same thing happened to my mom when she was…with me. It's how she knew."

"But wait a minute," Lane interrupted. "I thought you're taking birth control. You and Lo – "

"Don't say his name!" Rory exclaimed. "I'm sorry but…I'm barely holding it together as it is right now. I can't say his name, and I can't call it…what it is. Not until I know. So I'm calling it math."

"Got it. Hence the math test."

"Exactly," Rory said with a nod. She realized that Lane couldn't see her right now, but she needed to do something, at least; otherwise she'd go crazy.

They sat in silence for a while, Rory attempting to get her breathing under control. "I'm freaking out, Lane."

"Just take a deep breath. Where are you right now?"

"I'm lying on the bathroom floor. Waiting. Or hiding, depending on your perspective of the situation."

"Hiding from the results of your math test?"

"Tests. I bought five of them."

"Sure, sure. Because five is more thorough than one."

Rory shivered slightly. The tiles were cold against her skin. Maybe putting on shorts and a t-shirt hadn't been the best idea, despite how warm the hotel room was. But then again, at the time, she didn't think she'd end up curled into a ball on the bathroom floor while she waited. "Lane? What happens if it says yes?"

"If it says yes then you'll figure something out. It's what I did. It's what you're mother did."

"Do I even tell…Larry?" She couldn't bring herself to say his real name.

"Rory, of course you tell him! He'd want to know, you know that."

She did know that, deep down. But she still couldn't get his crestfallen face out of her head.

When he proposed to her, Rory had wanted so much to say yes. But she couldn't bring herself to do it. Saying yes to him could have meant saying no to the rest of her life. She wanted to be an overseas correspondent, just like Christiane Amanpour. It hadn't been an easy decision, making that her priority. She thought that he would be supportive, just like she was when he went off to London, or when he left his father's company and had no clue as to what he was going to do with the rest of his life. He'd told her to make her decision on her own, and he'd factor her in. She thought for sure that he'd let her do just that.

Turns out, he didn't. He wanted all or nothing. She wasn't ready to give him everything just yet, so she was forced to choose nothing. And it broke her heart.

Rory missed him, god did she miss him. Not nearly enough time had passed for her to be dealing with this. Keeping busy with the campaign had helped a bit. Most of the time, Rory's mind was so full of Senator Obama's speeches and her articles that she didn't have time to think about him. And when she did, she fell into the habit of quickly banishing his face from her mind. She wouldn't even allow herself to think his name. Sometimes she'd slip up, and a sinking feeling settled into her stomach. Shortly after the break up, she described the feeling to her mother as big waves coming really close together. After awhile, it was like she'd gotten so used to that feeling that it didn't even register to her anymore; she had become numb to it. It was the only way she'd been able to cope with the sudden loss of no longer having him in her life. She'd gone from having him in her life every day for three years, even when they were apart, to complete radio silence.

Maybe she was freaking out over nothing. Maybe she wasn't…going to pass her math test. Maybe everything was fine, and she could go back to the way things were. She could keep her amazing job covering Barak Obama's campaign for president. This was her first step to making all her dreams come true; she didn't want to give it up now that the thing she'd been working towards ever since she was a little girl was within her grasp. Maybe she'd still have this chance to go on to do amazing things.

She could be reading the signs wrong. A week was nothing to worry about, not really.

But she wouldn't know for sure until she picked herself up off the ground and looked at the results of her math test.

"I can do this," Rory whispered to herself, clutching the phone tightly in her hand. "I can get up and look at my math test. Any second now, I am going to stand up and look."

"Just remember that no matter what it says, I'm here for you," Lane encouraged.

"It'll all be okay, right?" Rory asked. To her own ears, she sounded a bit like a child, pleading to the one far more experienced in this area for some form of comfort.

"Rory, it'll be fine. Trust me. You just have to look."

"Okay." Taking a deep breath, Rory rolled onto her stomach, pushing herself up into a standing position. Her eyes closed tightly involuntarily, trying to put off the inevitable for a couple moments longer.