A.N.: A Rory-has-a-twin-sister fanfic, because Finn seriously didn't get the love he deserved! Rory's supposed to be the twin's foil, rather than the other way around; Lydia is in my mind very much her mother's daughter, whereas Rory takes after Richard. For those interested, I put a board on Pinterest dedicated to this story; type 'mellowUKgal' into the people-search, click on my 'Gilmore Girls' board and enjoy.


The Lorelai Paradox

01


Richard Gilmore was right; the Bradford campus had one of the prettiest courtyards in all of the Yale campuses. The beginning of the fall semester, it was a riot of activity, and no one was a more riotous whirl of energy than the leggy brunette laden down with boutique shopping-bags, a folding vintage green bistro chair, a plastic-bag filled with rolled-up posters, a purple Icee and a big tray of chilli-cheese nachos; dressed in a pair of little black leather shorts, a plain white t-shirt and sultry crimson suede heels, she walked fast, chatting quickly on the cell-phone she had clamped between her ear and shoulder, laughing richly, but arguing adamantly—"No! That's not what we agreed! Check your contract! Well if yours doesn't say that, you've edited a copy at the Dragonfly, because that's not what mine says. It does so. Michel and Sookie both witnessed it. Well I don't have it on my right now, I'm in the courtyard." The phone, which had been beeping incessantly since she climbed out of her sister's silver four-door, gave another few warning blips.

"Hang on, my phone's dying—this conversation is not over—let me just—" Stumbling over to a bench around which three familiar young men were clustered—one of their number reclined over most of the bench, huge sunglasses in place, while the other two sipped coffees and laughed, a girl hanging off the blonde's arm—she dumped the armfuls of bags and the chair, dropped the Icee on the bench, thrust the tray of nachos at the brown-eyed brunette, ordering him to "Hold!" and, freeing her other hand, she eyed the apparently-slumbering third party, then dived for his jeans pocket, drawing out a very sleek black touch-screen cell-phone.

"Uh…" the blonde laughed uncertainly; the brunette whose pocket she had just picked didn't even flinch, but she tapped in the pass-code and smiled when it worked. He hadn't changed it since the last time they had met; tapping in a number, she sucked up some Icee, popped a loaded nacho into her mouth, swallowed, and, when the call connected, continued the conversation—"Hey, I found a phone."

"Ew, you're using a public pay-phone."

"A pay-phone? God, no, who knows what kind of rare strain of lip-herpes I could contract," Lydia shuddered. Lorelai snorted. "I took some guy's."

"I hope you bought him coffee first," Lorelai laughed.

"Well, he's either dead or incredibly hungover," Lydia said, eyeing Finn as he continued to doze on the bench; his friends were both gaping at her as she continued to eat nachos from the tray Colin McCrae still held onto; the blonde, Logan, whom she had met on occasion since she was four, was silently giggling. "Probably the latter. Hey, so, you remember 'The Three Stooges Hit Santorini'?"

"No WAY," Lorelai gasped, laughing. "It's them?"

"Small world, huh," Lydia giggled softly, sipping her Icee.

"Inescapably," Lorelai laughed. "Do they still look as cute, or was it the whole Europe, Ouzo thing?"

"Mm, still cute," Lydia said consideringly.

"So who's name should I save this number under?" Lorelai asked.

"The Artful Dodger," Lydia chuckled.

"Finn the Australian it is, then," Lorelai said happily.

"So, can you put 'I'm All Ears', 'Shine of the Times' and my MAC 'Red' lipstick into the care-package?" Lydia asked. "Oh, and 'The It Colour' and…what was the other one, 'Dulce de Leche'? Please. Please, please, please."

"Alright, fine," Lorelai sighed. "I stopped putting big chunks of heart-shaped glitter on my fingernails when I was twelve, just so you know, I wasn't using the polish or anything."

"I gave you a funky pedicure last night," Lydia corrected, grinning. "Oh, and a peanut-butter cup pie?"

"Don't worry; Sookie's baking up a frenzy for you now that you're back—and I'm going to pretend that the six-pack of recycled Gatorade bottles Miss Patty gave me are filled with regular fruit-punch."

"Keep thinking that, if it makes you happy," Lydia grinned. "Hey, I don't have much drinking-money, one shot of Miss Patty's Founders' Punch, I'm good for a week."

"Alright, but remember Mommy's Coyote Ugly tribute," Lorelai laughed.

"I remember. So does the rest of Stars Hollow," Lydia grinned.

"Okay, what about the second act of Grease?" Lorelai bounced back, and Lydia grinned.

"A classic, and the best performance Stars Hollow has seen in twenty years," she smirked. Lydia had been cast as Rizzo in the town production of Grease, three times in a row; the last time, she and Kennicky had gotten drunk on Miss Patty's tar-removing punch before the second act. "Taylor said so himself."

"He didn't realise you were tanked."

"My jolliness added to the ambiance of the play," Lydia smirked.

"Hey, I don't hear any shrieking or hair-pulling. Shouldn't you be fighting Paris tooth-and-nail for the better room?"

"I haven't seen any animals running or flying in circles, so she can't be on campus yet," Lydia said, munching on a nacho. "Man, I've got me some stellar roommates this year; Catherine Zeta-Jones and Mrs Robinson!"

"Don't call Rory 'Mrs Robinson'."

"It's nicer than 'Angelina'."

"Dean doesn't have anything on Brad."

"True," Lydia said, glancing at Logan, who was staring at her, highly bemused. "I tell you what, though, Loogie really grew up good."

"Oh yeah?"

"Miss Patty would snap him up in a heartbeat. Hey, has she recovered from the hysteria during her cardio pole-dancing class?" Sipping her Icee, she smiled, taking another nacho from Colin, who was just blinking at her, stunned. Attending one of Miss Patty's cardio pole-dancing classes had sent her into hysterical giggles all afternoon; her stomach had hurt so much for the next day and a half, she was convinced she had pulled her abdominal muscles.

"Almost," Lorelai laughed. "She's gonna miss you there, kid; you're the hit of the class."

"I was the only one there under fifty!"

"You were the hit of the class!" Lorelai repeated pointedly, and Lydia laughed.

"I tell you what, the pole-dancing didn't burn any calories, but watching twelve sixty-year-olds trying to do it made me laugh so hard, my exercise quota for the decade has been used up," Lydia said.

"That and the physical and emotional effort it takes not to strangle Emily Gilmore," Lorelai added.

"Two months' unfettered quality-time with Grandma; priceless," Lydia said, stifling a shudder. "It was Vietnam without all that fun shooting; I deserve a Purple Heart. Oh, speaking of prices; did I happen to leave some rolls of quarters on my desk? I was gonna do laundry when I got here, but I can't find my change; my Days Of the Week underwear ran out last Tuesday."

"So under your clothes today, you're wearing…?

"Not underwear," Lydia smirked.

"Classy."

"Wonder where I learned it from. Anyway, I'm back on college-campus; saves time," Lydia said, licking chilli off her finger.

"And on that note, I will be putting an extra pack of condoms in your care-package," Lorelai remarked coolly.

"Save them, put 'em in Mrs Robinson's box. Hey, I think I might've left my boots in my closet," Lydia said, frowning, catching sight of the colourful Paper Source seventeen-month calendar she had picked up, on which she intended to map out her social-life and academic obligations for the next few months.

"Which boots?"

"Silk-lined cowboys," Lydia frowned.

"You need them?"

"I have a social coming up next week. Western-themed," Lydia said, smiling.

"Oh, yeah, what're you gonna wear?"

"Stetson, leather chaps—and nothing else!" Lydia laughed, as Lorelai guessed the same way her thoughts were headed. "Exactly! And, I think I might've left my pink-striped beige socks with the giraffes on them in the oven. Can you check my dance shoes aren't in Rory's closet?"

"Hey, did you get everything you need when you went shopping?"

"All I need and more; you would not believe the sales I hit! Amazing stuff; and I got my haggle on again," Lydia said proudly. "I'd shout off about the vintage stores I found, but you'd just embarrass me by making me Paper Moon them. However, I will gladly share my bounty."

"Whose card did you charge?"

"Please, Grandma's! She said Rory and I have a week until we have to give back the cards, I thought I'd do you proud before surrendering the Black card," Lydia sighed, munching on a nacho.

"Oh, I love you, girly!" Lorelai sighed warmly.

"I love you, too. Not as much as if we were zipping around Europe on our own Vespas, taste-testing Bellinis, with a room full of our shoes, but, you know, a girl can't have everything," Lydia said.

"Sing it, sister. I'm glad you had a few good days while you were away," Lorelai said warmly. "Not that I approve of you cavorting with drunken Australian royalty, of course."

"Well, he had a Vespa. My standards are not high. If he'd asked, I would've eloped," Lydia shrugged to herself. She frowned, staring down at Finn behind her sunglasses. "Actually, he did. And we might've. You can thank the debilitating powers of Ouzo for not having a son-in-law. God, that makes you sound old."

"Not feeling the love anymore, Lyd!" Lorelai laughed.

"I'm just saying; most women your age have only just decided to start having kids, let alone having two in an Ivy League school," Lydia said thoughtfully. "Hey, you wanna come up soon, we can show these rich snobs how to party."

"Absolutely," Lorelai chuckled.

"You keep your hands off Miss Patty's Gatorade," Lydia warned.

"I will. I have no compunction to re-enact The Exorcist," Lorelai said. "You gotta go?"

"Yeah, I probably should," Lydia said. "Rory was escorting the lads from the storage-unit to our room. Apparently Grandma's brainwashing that Connecticut royalty don't touch their luggage when they travel has stuck."

"Well, at least one of you has your priorities in order," Lorelai said approvingly.

"I'll show you my haul on Friday," Lydia sighed. "Although, you'd think we'd be exempt from Friday-night dinners for a while, given we spent two months with Grandma. Something I didn't think anything would be able to prepare me for, but, I have to say, life with Paris has its perks."

"You'd better go, grab the best room," Lorelai suggested, and Lydia grunted softly in agreement.

"Yeah. Oh, I thought of a system."

"A system?"

"A scrunchie-system. I borrowed it from Brooke Davis. Yellow scrunchie means, 'we're just making out, but one or more of us might be topless'. Red means 'Headphones on, there's some serious action going on'. And black means you have to leave the building. I figured I have to get insurance in case Paris brings Asher back to our place—or Rory brings Dean," Lydia shuddered.

"Well, work the system," Lorelai said. "I notice you didn't say anything about you bringing guys back."

"I don't bring guys back," Lydia said, shrugging to herself delicately. "If I had any desire to see the guy again, there's no way I'd expose him to Paris."

"Great self-preservation instincts," Lorelai said.

"Talk to you later?" Lydia sighed.

"Later," Lorelai said cheerfully. "Bye, babe."

"Love you." Lydia hung up, slipping the phone into Finn's jeans pocket, making him start a little; she picked up her things, took the nachos from Colin, and smiled.

"If he's recovered enough by tonight, tell him I'll buy him a Guinness at the Pub to say thanks," Lydia said to Logan, before making her way to her suite. "And if you can remember who I am, I'll buy you a round!"

"Thought you didn't have any money!" Logan shouted playfully.

"Don't have laundry money. I always have drinking-money!" Lydia shouted back, laughing.

Room H10 was their new suite; hers, Rory's, Paris'. Lydia would arrive to find that Paris had arranged all of the furniture to her exact specifications and designated bedrooms, most of the things unpacked in the common-room, so all she had to do was get there, unpack her suitcases, and chill. She had already picked her classes, bought all of her books pre-loved and annotated from eBay and Amazon, filled her new-season wardrobe, spent the last few days going through photographs with Lorelai and putting together a few huge collages for her bedroom walls, and making coffee-dates with friends. She was planning to reacquaint herself with the bartenders in the vicinity over the next few nights, which meant dragging Rory out for a blowout before school started properly and Rory the über-nun cloistered down for the semester.

She unlocked the door, stumbling into the common-room, her well-worn apple-green bistro chair clattering against the door, and she frowned. The room was bare but for their sofa, Rory and Marty.

"No Paris?" she asked, as she kicked several of her shopping-bags toward the centre of the room. She paused, frowning. "Something awful must have happened."

"Asher Fleming died," Rory said quietly, and Lydia glanced up from her nachos.

"In bed?"

"No," Rory sighed, giving her a look.

"I lost the pool," Lydia frowned.


The Pub was lively, not as full as it could be, but Lydia had missed the ambiance and familiarity of the Pub. A pint of Guinness on the high table in front of her, she had her pen and highlighter out, annotating a thin little black diary. She was smiling; her first night back on campus, she had already filled up the next three weeks with dates to meet up with friends, have coffee, go for a dessert, or a drink, or a real date-date with one of her boys. Max her gay stripper friend had his housewarming in a month; Lydia had set him up with his current partner.

Yale wasn't what she had been expecting at all. She had imagined it an even more uptight version of Chilton, just without the uniforms, and for a girl who was eccentric to a fault, proud as could be to take after her mother in almost every aspect of her lifestyle, Yale seemed like an odd choice for Lydia, based on her personality and hatred of school.

But her grandfather had gone to Yale. And, strange as it was, due to the fact that until she was sixteen, they had been completely estranged, Lydia had always kind of liked the idea of continuing on the tradition of going to Yale. To make her Grandpa proud. Then Rory had gotten her three acceptances, and chosen Yale, too. Richard Gilmore's favourite had chosen Yale; the disappointing, less-academic, certainly not angelic-natured Lydia had been brushed aside. But once she'd gotten to Yale, things had changed; suddenly, Lydia had started to hit her stride. Academically, she was finding more and more that Chilton had indeed prepared her for college, and Lorelai being her mother had prepared her for the insanity that was trying to prioritise a social life with academic success, and still look fabulous.

Lydia had always been able to make friends; now, her friends were all college-aged, and a lot of them—most of them, actually—were incredibly wealthy and adored travelling, and parties. Over the summer, Lydia had planned out her afternoons to meet specific friends wherever they happened to be vacationing in the same city. She made a few friends along the way, too: Logan, Colin and Finn were three examples of that; Lorelai used to say Lydia could talk to anybody and make them smile.

But she remembered Logan—how could she not remember Logan Huntzburger, when Lorelai wouldn't let her forget the huge crush Lydia had had on him ages six through twelve—from her grandparents' Christmas parties, and when she had met Logan and his friends in Santorini, they had caught up. Over moussaka, wine and ouzo, they had discovered that while Lydia and Rory were going into their sophomore year at Yale, Logan was going into his junior year after taking a break for six months, and his older sister Honour, who used to sneak her, Logan and Rory treats from the kitchen during Grandma's boring parties, was unofficially engaged to her boyfriend of three years.

She had spent an hour or so catching up with a lot of the casual friends she sometimes chatted with whenever she ended up at the Pub, making a lot of those dates she had penned into her diary.

"Ah, a little black book!" someone said cheerfully, and the diary disappeared from Lydia's fingertips; glancing up, she smiled, already knowing who it was. There was only one person, that she knew of, on campus with an Australian accent. He flipped through the pages she had just filled. "And here I thought you invited us to drink with you because you had no one else!"

"Hardly," Lydia smiled, plucking the book back from Finn's long, clever fingers.

"Well, Lydi, I hope you've got your ID on you, because I am thirsty," Finn smirked.

"ID. That's cute. How many people did you have to ask to get my name?" she asked, smiling.

"Not a single one. Think I could forget skinny-dipping off Santorini with you?" Finn smirked, and Lydia laughed as her cheeks warmed.

"Ah. That. That wasn't a dream," she smiled.

"No it was not," Finn grinned. "Although it plagues mine. I wake up in the middle of the night, calling your name."

"How about that," Lydia chuckled softly. "Here I thought you'd forget everything about your birthday-week."

"Most, not all," Finn retorted, with a charming grin.

"Well, thanks to you and the boys, I can never eat moussaka again without remembering your naked phase," Lydia remarked, sipping her Guinness, and Finn chuckled, sending her another charming smile.

"If I recall, you joined in too," he pointed out.

"I was sunbathing topless, I still had my bikini-bottoms on," Lydia replied.

"However little they were," Finn smirked.

"They're called 'Brazilian' for a reason," Lydia chuckled. Setting her glass down, she licked her lips and smiled. "So how about that drink? Where are the others?"

"They're here—they're over there," Finn said, jerking his head toward the bar, where Lydia saw Colin and Logan chatting up two familiar girls; pretty, blonde Juliet, and flirtatious redhead Rosemarie. Two members of the Life and Death Brigade; Lydia had partied with them a lot last year.

"Reacquainting themselves with campus-life?" Lydia smiled, tucking her diary into her plain cognac-leather Clare Vivier fold-over clutch, the expensive gift from Lorelai for her nineteenth birthday.

"Charming phrase for it," Finn smiled. "Coming over?"

"Absolutely," Lydia smiled, grabbing her drink, and she made her way over to pinch Juliet in the waist, making her giggle and squirm away. Smiling, Lydia carefully set her Guinness down before Juliet could squeal and launch herself at her, giving Lydia a huge hug; Rosemarie grinned and hugged her, exchanging kisses on the cheek.

"How much of your summer do you remember?" Rosemarie asked, grinning.

"Only the most traumatising bits," Lydia smirked. "My grandmother without her makeup; Finn during his naked-phase."

"Oh, been there," Rosemarie said, shivering, and Juliet laughed at Finn's expression. Lydia caught Andrew's attention, telling him the boys' first drinks were on her.

"Hey, Gilmore," Logan said warmly, leaning in to hug her waist and kiss her head. "Good to see you again."

"Yeah, you too," Lydia smiled. "How did your tour finish up?"

"Uh, well… We sank the yacht," Logan grimaced guiltily, and Lydia glanced up, eyes widening.

"You sank the yacht—the million-dollar yacht? You—how could you sink it?"

"You underestimate us, love," Finn said, raising his glass in thanks.

"But—a million-dollar yacht," Lydia gaped.

"Well, my dad bought it for just shy, but—yeah," Logan said, grimacing again.

"Where?" Lydia asked, sipping her Guinness.

"Right off the coast of Fiji," Finn smiled.

"Man. If you'd outbid my grandmother and taken me on as your personal slave, we could've had a Blue Lagoon thing going on," Lydia sighed, shaking her head, snapping her fingers. "I could've been the Brooke Shields to your Christopher Atkins."

"Every man's wet-dream," Logan smirked.

"Tell me about it," Finn grinned, sipping his drink. "Brooke Shields. Goddess."

"Don't get him in the mood. I am not watching Endless Love with you again, Finn," Colin remarked, and Lydia laughed.

"Hey, Colin," she smiled, as Colin reached to give her a gentle hug. "How's the sun-burn?"

"Healed, thank god," Colin said, chuckling.

"Hey, so, how's your grandmother?" Logan asked, indicating Andrew to bring another round over.

"Still ticking," Lydia said, and Logan chuckled. "I'll bet your father was absolutely delighted by your sinking of the Laconia."

"Mitchum? He put the coast-guard's report up on the refrigerator by my first finger-painting, mug-shot and expulsion letters," Logan smirked.

"It's no wonder I bit him," Lydia said, sighing.

"You bit Mitchum Huntzburger?" Colin arched an eyebrow.

"He went for the last apple-tart," Lydia said, eyes widening.

"Lydi's mom has a thing about the apple-tarts at Emily Gilmore's Christmas parties," Logan smiled.

"Emily Gilmore's your grandmother?" Finn frowned.

"You've met her, Finn," Colin smirked.

"You managed to feign sobriety long enough to let Logan convince her to let you take me off her hands for a few days," Lydia laughed.

"And you got away with your rendition of 'Summer Nights' outside their bedroom when we dropped Lydi off at her grandmother's hotel with minor injuries," Logan smirked.

"Yeah, sorry about beaning you in the head with my flip-flops," Lydia grimaced guiltily. "I didn't realise my aim was so accurate, especially when inebriated."

"I thought that was your neighbour," Finn said, pouting adorably; Lydia laughed.

"I'm sorry; I hadn't slept in two days," she smiled. She pointed at Colin. "Your fault."

"Yeah, thanks for springing me," Colin laughed.

"Well, it was very sweet of you to play the Wooster to my Florence Craye," Lydia said, smiling.

"And they say chivalry's dead," Finn remarked, grinning.

"I was on very good terms with the arresting officers by the time I got out," Colin smirked.

"How much did you owe them?" Lydia laughed.

"All but my dignity," Colin said drily, and Lydia laughed again.

"I think that was gone way before we hit that club," she chuckled.

"True," Colin said, eyes widening as he sipped his drink.

"Hey, Lydi, are Friday nights still off for you?" Rosemarie asked.

"Nothing like a little soul-sucking to start off the weekend," Lydia sighed. "Yes, I still have Friday-night dinners with my grandparents."

"For how long?" Juliet asked.

"Until the day I die," Lydia said, shoulders slumping as she sipped her Guinness.

"Well, we need to conference, because we have had ideas," Juliet beamed.

"Are you free tomorrow?" Rosemarie asked. "A little shopping, we can take Juliet out to lunch."

"Absolutely," Lydia smiled, laughing at Juliet's expression. "Hey, I can show you the new vintage boutique I found. What were you thinking?"

"Pearl Harbour, Amelia Earhart," Juliet smiled.

"Different eras, but I like it," Lydia chuckled. "Twin-engines, Howard Hughes?"

"Ava Gardner," Rosemarie smiled.

"And Marie Antoinette," Juliet beamed.

"Birthday scene or Petit Trianon?"

"Why not both?" Juliet grinned. Lydia shrugged, smiling. "Meadow casino, champagne towers, chandeliers, macarons."

"And, we saved the best for last," Rosemarie grinned.

"Oh, what?"

"Well, we went through some of that list you gave us," Juliet smiled. "Bugsy Malone, Chicago, Burlesque—"

"I'm sensing a theme here," Lydia smiled.

"She made me watch the first two seasons of Gossip Girl," Rosemarie put in, grimacing, glancing at Juliet.

"Juliet?" Lydia gasped.

"And an episode of The Vampire Diaries," Rosemarie sighed.

"Hey, they were educational; Stefan and Rebekah go to an underground cocktail bar; Chuck opens a burlesque club," Juliet said defensively, eyes widening. "So, we thought, speakeasies. Never go out of fashion."

"Everybody loves booze," Finn spoke up.

"Custom cocktails, amazing dresses, finger-curls," Rosemarie grinned. "Guys in their finest."

"Could be fun," Lydia smiled.

"Hey, when are we gonna have girls' night?" Juliet asked. "We seriously need to discuss this year's draft choices."

"Very true," Lydia said, aware that, while the boys were chatting quietly amongst themselves, they were keeping an eye on them. The draft was an idea that had come to the female members of the Life and Death Brigade, to prevent inter-club catfights over the available men. Last year, Lydia had wound up with Robert; fantastic partier, incredible repartee, very bright. Perfect to chat with at LDB functions, but neither of them had felt anything for each other beyond enjoying someone who understood their pop-references; Robert had taught Lydia how to shoot, and she had set him up with several successful casual dates.

"You did bring that cute antique absinthe fountain back, right?" Rosemarie asked.

"Of course!" Lydia laughed. "I'm never getting rid of that!"

"I have missed your iced coffees," Rosemarie smiled.

"I would not be a Gilmore if I didn't understand and exploit the subtle science and exact art that is coffee-making," Lydia grinned.

"Hey, did you hear? They're doing yogalates at the gym," Rosemarie said. Lydia stared at her.

"Alright, pause; yogalates?" Colin put in.

"Yoga and pilates, put to music," Rosemarie said, smiling happily. "Since Tom our Modern Dance instructor went and got married."

"I'm crushed," Juliet said, eyes widening.

"He could've been the one," Lydia said compassionately, patting her arm.

"You wanna come with us?" Juliet asked brightly. "To the…gym?" Lydia stared inquisitively. Gym? They wanted her to work out?

"Oh, sorry," Rosemarie laughed. "We forgot. You're allergic to anything that involves exercise."

"How about I meet you after?" Lydia proposed. "Far safer." She grinned at Juliet. "I'll let you watch me eat a Belgian waffle."

"Tease!" Juliet pouted.

"She's only a tease if what she does gets you hot," Finn remarked.

"Thanks, John Bender," Lydia smirked. Finn winked.

"Hey, you know what, they just put a salon in at the gym," Rosemarie said. "You could get a pedicure or a massage while we work out."

"Skip the spa, love, I'll give you a massage any day," Finn remarked, winking at Lydia.

"You should take him up on that," Juliet said, eyebrows rising earnestly. "Hands are magic."

"Then we wouldn't have our Damon's mornings," Rosemarie pointed out.

"Damon's?" Logan laughed, giving them a look.

"Best greasy-spoon outside of Stars Hollow," Lydia said, sipping her Guinness. "Fourteen different kinds of pie. Fresh-baked doughnuts up the wazoo."

"Damon's her chilli-cheese fries guy," Rosemarie smirked, and Lydia grinned.

"Took me a while to find the perfect hangover food, but Damon—double layer of chunky fries with perfect ratio of cheese to chilli to fries throughout," Lydia said.

"Watching her eat it is like food porn," Juliet grinned.

"Have you been watching Food Network again?" Lydia sighed. "You know you just torture yourself."

"I'm saving up all the things I want to eat, so that when I sign that iron-clad pre-nup, I can go to town," Juliet grinned.

"I see. Who's the totty this semester?"

"The Hairy Bikers," Juliet said.

"Seriously?"

"Okay, they're not much to look at, but have you watched some of their stuff? They're insane!" Juliet laughed. "Oh, and Rachel Khoo."

"Now her, I wouldn't mind souz-chefing for," Finn remarked.

"You've been watching the Food Network too!" Juliet grinned.

"It's back on, apparently," Finn remarked idly, swilling his drink around the glass.

"History Channel's over," Colin agreed.

"Oh!" Juliet grinned, bouncing a little on her stool.

"Yes!" Rosemarie laughed, exchanging a look with her best-friend; they both smiled at Lydia.

"We finally get what you mean," Juliet said. "The Doctor. The fez, the bowtie."

"We sat down and watched seasons five and six, as per your request," Rosemarie smirked. "You were right."

"See, sexy! Finally! Thank you!" Lydia laughed.

"I've already got my costume picked out for Halloween," Rosemarie smirked; Lydia guessed the redhead was going to do the classic policewoman Amy Pond.

"Oh, hey! They're playing Rocky Horror next week," Lydia beamed. "I've already convinced Robert to come."

"You've still got your French maid's outfit?"

"My mom might have it at home, I have to check my suitcase," Lydia said; she kept all of her 'dress-up clothes' in a vintage brown leather suitcase lined with vintage style travel-sticker paper, but with her burgeoning romance with Luke, Lydia was sure that her mother would want to flirt some in the apron and feather-duster.

"What's this about Rocky Horror?" Finn asked, slinging an arm around both Lydia's and Rosemarie's shoulders.

"They're playing it over at the arts complex next week," Lydia said.

"Legend!" Finn grinned. "I'll be there. Pre-drinks?"

"Here," Lydia said.

"Are you rooming with your bookworm sister?" Rosemarie asked, crinkling her nose that way she had.

"Yup."

"And that scary journalist girl?" Juliet asked.

"Yep."

"Are you gonna be crashing on our sofa sometimes?"

"Yep."

"Cool; otherwise, the clothes and shoes never get cleaned up from the common-area," Rosemarie grinned.

"I know!" Lydia laughed. As Finn downed a shot taken from a passing tray and Logan extricated himself from a girl he had been reacquainting himself with, Lydia asked him, "Hey, are you coming to Rocky Horror?"

"Yeah, you can borrow Lydia's gold hot-pants from Disco Night," Juliet laughed.

"Absolutely," Lydia grinned.

"Rocky Horror? Sure," Logan grinned; he frowned remonstratively at Finn. "Finn, buddy, remember that a top-hat does not a costume make."

"Though if my grandmother's between maids, he can borrow the apron," Lydia smirked, glancing at Finn, who chuckled as he took a drink.

"Hey, I just thought—karaoke night!" Juliet said, clapping her hands excitedly, before hugging Finn. "Now that you're back, we have to reinstate karaoke night."

"You up for that, Lydi?" Rosemarie chuckled, giving her a grimace. "Finn's the reigning Queen of the Karaoke."

"A queen, huh," Lydia laughed, as Finn preened. "Well, it's been my experience that a queen must at some point pass on the crown."

"By whatever means necessary," Logan laughed. "Please, don't let them re-invoke karaoke-night!"

"Sorry; I enjoy it way too much," Lydia grinned. She glanced at Rosemarie. "Would you object to me inviting Paris and Rory to join our team for Pub Quiz?"

"Pub Quiz?" Colin asked, glancing up.

"Yeah, we seriously need to get out of our fourth-place rut," Rosemarie nodded.

"It was an embarrassment," Juliet sighed. "Only you could answer questions, Lyd."

"I would like to raise a glass to my mother; thank you for watching Cop Rock, Chico and the Man and everything Judy Garland," Lydia said, raising her Guinness. "You kept us out of last-place, at least."

"Are there any entry-requirements or hazing involved if someone were to wish to join said Pub Quiz group?" Colin asked. Lydia glanced at the girls, grinning.

"Is there hazing, ladies?" she asked sweetly.

"Not in the past," Juliet smiled.

"But for you, Colin, we can definitely make an exception," Rosemarie smirked.

"I'm seeing…paddles and condiments," Lydia mused. Excited, she grinned. "I can wear my 'Seniors' t-shirt."

"And cut-offs," Rosemarie added.

"I think I still have a pacifier in my Emergency Kit from babysitting Gigi," Lydia said, smiling.

"Dazed and Confused," Logan smiled. "There's two hours of my life I want back."

"Along with the weeks you've lost to inebriation," Lydia smirked, and Logan conceded with a nod and a smile. "Dazed and Confused is a classic. My mom taught us to do shots by it! That and Pirate Radio; they're great for drinking-games."

"Hey, did you hit Budapest this summer?"

"Yeah, I dragged Rory back to the place my mom got us drunk on absinthe," Lydia grinned. "I got my own sent of absinthe glasses, too. You know, I think my grandmother seriously missed a few chapters of her college education; in Amsterdam, she missed the signs of me being completely stoned. She thought I had a migraine!"

"You met up with Robert in Amsterdam, right?"

"Yes, and as soon as he appears, I'll show you all the wonderful pictures I took of him," Lydia grinned. "He really needs to put on some weight; he whited out so fast!"

"Are saying you didn't white-out?" Finn smirked.

"It wasn't the first time I'd been to that café," Lydia grinned. "I already knew the dosage in the brownies."

"Your mom again?" Juliet smiled.

"She figured it'd be better to send me and Rory off to college with a lot of those firsts out of the way," Lydia said.

"A lot?" Rosemarie called, grinning as she sauntered over to the bar for another round.

"Not all," Lydia called back, smirking. Several intense games of Truth or Dare during Girls' Night in Rosemarie and Juliet's suite had created a bond based on tequila, secret confessions and shared conquests. "You've gotta stop hitting on me, Rose! I told you, I'm saving my experimentation for my junior year!"

"It's my junior year!" Rosemarie called back, laughing.

"Well, maybe I'll throw you a bone on your birthday," Lydia laughed. "Pun definitely intended."

"Thanks! And Taylor Kitsch wrapped up in a red bow?" Rosemarie asked.

"Still working on that," Lydia smiled.

"Okay, I feel a lipstick crisis coming on," Juliet declared. "Watch my drink?" Lydia nodded, and when Rosemarie had delivered a fresh round of drinks, Juliet and Rosemarie skipped off to the bathrooms.

"So, how do you know Juliet and Rosemarie?" Finn asked curiously.

"Finn's been trying to get Rosemarie into bed since freshman-year," Logan smirked.

"So, tell," Colin smirked. "Why is Rosemarie ready to jump into bed with you?"

"You mean besides my dazzlingly beautiful face and knockout body?" Lydia asked, laughing as she sipped her Guinness. "Well, it's a long story, how we met, and if I told you, I'd have to kill you. And I'm not that athletic or strong, so it'd be a lot of effort, I'd get crabby, end up leaving forensic evidence, whatever, so it's better I just not tell you."

"When Rosemarie mentioned Robert, she didn't mean—?"

"Gentlemen," a voice said, and Robert appeared. He smiled at Lydia, leaning in to kiss her cheek, a hand on her stomach familiarly. "Lady."

"Who are you calling a lady?" Lydia teased.

"Someone who got me back to my hotel-room without handing me over to a transvestite stripper for the photo-ops," Robert said.

"I'd run out of cash," Lydia sighed, snapping her fingers. "But don't worry; you're not the only one I've got incriminating evidence against."

"Now, now, love, I'd say we've got a fair amount of incriminating evidence against you," Finn remarked.

"Yes, but if you were to release photographs of Lydia's bare breasts, her social-life would increase exponentially," Robert smirked.

"Whereas the photos I have of you…" Lydia trailed off delicately, and Robert grinned behind his beer.

"Hey!" Finn exclaimed, his cheeks colouring subtly. "None of that, love!"

"Well, I can show the photos to Rosemarie, get her verdict. Who knows, it might help convince her to go home with you," Lydia smirked.

"True," Finn said thoughtfully.

"By the way, Finn, you owe me thirty dollars," Robert said, stony-faced; Lydia laughed as Finn sighed, counting out notes from his wallet before passing them to Robert. Robert glanced at her, smiling. "So have you filled in your little black book for the next few months?"

"I might have a few evenings open," Lydia smiled warmly. She did enjoy going out with Robert, mostly because he was always delightfully unsurprised by her level of intellect. To look at, Lydia wasn't the type of girl who would read five different newspapers every morning, watch obscure nature programmes or foreign-language films and documentaries, read incredibly difficult fourteenth-century literature and Russian novels, could speak not only Korean fluently (thanks to Lane) whenever they went for Korean barbecue, but could speak French, Italian, Latin and Spanish, and could recite several Shakespeare plays by heart, who had been raised by a pop-culture glut, and who had been introduced three years ago to the highest society and everything that an education in the hardest private school in the country could entail.

"Excellent," Robert smiled. "How about steak-dinner?"

"May I enquire as to the occasion?" Lydia smiled, bringing out her diary.

"Do I need an occasion?" Robert retorted; Lydia gave him a look, and he grinned. "Hopefully we can discuss the probability of my acquiring Estella George's number." Lydia pulled a thoughtful face.

"Low, I'd say. She and Hugh are still on the rocks," she said, giving Robert a look.

"If I throw in after-dinner cocktails will you push Hugh off said rocks?" Robert asked, giving her a twinkling smile.

"Oh, Robert, you know I don't respond to bribes—" Robert gave her a smirk that said it all, and Lydia laughed. "Cocktails where?"

"Red Room," Robert shrugged.

"I suppose I could encourage Estella to explore her options," Lydia grinned mischievously, uncapping her pen. "Just be very charming and utterly irresistible. And use limited vocabulary. Estella gets very touchy when she figures out she's not the brightest of sparks."

"Wear that fabulous red dress of yours," Robert said, kissing her hair as he squeezed her waist familiarly. "I love taking you out when you're in that red dress. By association, I look even more handsome."

"Push-up bra? Highest heels?" Lydia asked, and Robert winked. Beaming, Lydia laughed as she rested a hand on his shoulder. "You're an easy man to please, Robert." Robert smiled, strode off to the bar to get a round, leaving Lydia to sip her Guinness, Colin and Finn staring at her.

"What?" she asked, smiling.

"My god, you're incredible," Finn grinned.

"Thank you, I get it from my mother," Lydia smiled.

"Lydia has impeccable taste in women," Robert remarked, reappearing with a tray full of drinks. "I've never had a single bad date with girls she's set me up with."

"Oh, really?" Colin smirked. "Your standards must not be that high."

"Robert's standards are irritatingly high," Lydia smiled.

"Well, let's put your talents to the test," Finn grinned, settling an arm around her shoulders. "Tell me, right now, who would go home with me."

"How about you start by pointing out which girls you'd like to go home with you?" Lydia grinned. "And I'll tell you whether I think you have any shot or if you're hopelessly deluded."

"You're making my life so much easier, love," Finn smiled.

"You mean your sex-life," Lydia corrected.

"Semantics," Finn smirked, and Lydia laughed. Less-inebriated, wearing far more clothing, the bond between Lydia and the boys she had met in Santorini was still the same; incredibly fun, very flirtatious and with a lot of witty banter. She hadn't seen Juliet or Rosemarie since the end of spring semester, despite having kept in contact over emails and Facebook photo-albums, so it was fun to catch up, and pretend, when Finn started trying to press Rosemarie to go home with him, that they were lovers. While the boys downed drink after drink, Lydia slowly went through her first and then half a second pint of Guinness, dancing with the girls, chatting with Logan, Colin and Robert, and laughing as Finn flirted with them all, particularly Rosemarie and Lydia.

"I absolutely love redheads," Finn declared, after downing another shot.

"Red goes great with your complexion," Lydia said thoughtfully. "It's a great colour for you."

"My favourite colour," Finn nodded. "By the way—how did you know the access code on my phone?"

"You gave it to me," Lydia smiled.

"Why would I do something like that?" Finn blinked bemusedly, staring at her.

"Well, we were engaged; you said sharing such crucial information as cell-phone pass-codes was the first step in formalising our engagement," Lydia said, patting his hands; she noticed they were large, with long, clever fingers, nicely tanned, fingernails trimmed and clean.

"Oh, that's right! We are betrothed," Finn smirked playfully, his pretty eyes scanning her features closely. "If I strike out in love, will you marry me?"

"Take a number," Robert said, deadpan, and the boys laughed.

"You'd better hope Lydia keeps you around when we do this year's draft, Robert," Rosemarie cooed teasingly.

"Even if Robert gets sniped from me, there will always be a special place for him in my heart," Lydia said, cupping Robert's chin tenderly, smiling warmly.

"I'm very glad to hear that," Robert smiled. "Otherwise it will fall on me to take someone of inferior intellect out to dinner, thus slowly leeching my will to live."

"Oh, Finn," Lydia said softly, setting her glass down as she caught sight of someone at the bar, touching Finn's bare arm, strangely loving how warm he was. "Redhead, your ten o'clock."

"Nice," Finn grinned.

"Now, her, you're a shoo-in. A huge slut with obsessive-compulsive personal hygiene," Lydia said, nodding. "Go for it." Juliet tugged lightly on Lydia's top, leaning in and murmuring, "Doesn't she have a boyfriend?"

"Hugely overprotective linebacker," Lydia smirked. "He's clueless; she has a new guy every other night."

"Finn's type," Logan smirked.

"You really are infallible when it comes to picking out women," Colin smirked, as Finn and Kit the redhead seemed to click.

"It's a gift," Lydia smiled, sipping her drink.

"If I take you out for Thai food, will you hook me up with the woman of my dreams?" Colin asked.

"I don't have enough pull to get Doutzen Kroes to go out for drinks with you, Colin," Lydia smiled.

"Very astute assumption, that I prefer blondes," Colin smirked.

"Who doesn't?" Lydia chuckled.

"We get to have all the fun," Juliet beamed.

"I disagree," Lydia objected, smiling. She picked up her slice of the gooey cheese pizza Logan had had Andrew bring out from the kitchen, held it in front of her lips, and, smiling and gazing at Juliet, took a bite. Her hands shaking, Juliet squealed.

"One little bite!"

"No."

"Thank you!" Juliet gasped. "God, if I could eat the way you do and still look like you—!"

"Looks like Finn's going to have a good night," Logan remarked, and Lydia glanced up in time to see Finn staggering out of the Pub with Kit the slut.

"You amaze me," Colin said, gazing at Lydia, as he raised his glass to toast her.

"To Lydia's infallible instincts," Robert said, chinking glasses delicately with Colin.

"May she get us all laid," Colin said solemnly.

"And hopefully not with any of us," Rosemarie said, raising her drink.

"I'll drink to that," Lydia laughed, chinking glasses with her.

"Gilmore, I'm crushed," Logan chuckled. Lydia smiled, shrugging delicately as she sipped her drink.


A.N.: As sometimes happens in life, I wanted Lydia to be thrown into the Logan-Colin-Finn circle, already friends with Juliet and Rosemarie and friendly with Robert, to already show the difference between Rory and Lydia, that Lydia's the social butterfly, very outgoing and flirtatious—Lorelai Jr. in a lot of ways.