Chapter Six: Chernobyl and the Hindenburg Combined
"So how was the parent teacher meeting yesterday?" Emily asked Lorelai as Richard got Lorelai a drink. It was Friday night and they were in the living room.
Lorelai looked at Emily. "How did you know about the parent teacher meeting?"
"Your father and I know people at Chilton, Lorelai," Emily told her. "You did go to the parent teacher meeting, didn't you?"
Lorelai sighed. "Yes, Mom, I went."
"Good," Emily said. "I hope you were dressed appropriately."
"What? Last time you were dressed completely inappropriately and on Rory's first day of school," Emily reminded her.
"And you're never gonna let me forget that," Lorelai said knowingly.
The doorbell rang and Emily stood up. "I'll get that."
"Saved by the bell," Lorelai whispered to Rory.
"Oh my God! You're here. Christopher, look at you!" Emily exclaimed from the entryway.
"Christopher?" Lorelai said, narrowing her eyes.
"And Victoria!" Emily exclaimed. "We haven't seen you since you were two. It's so good to see you."
"Victoria?" Lorelai said with a hard edge to her voice.
"Well, Richard's in the living room. Come on in. He's dying to see you," Emily told Christopher and Victoria, leading the way into the living room. Lorelai stood up.
"Hi, Lorelai," Victoria said, giving Lorelai a hug and then sitting down next to Rory.
"You look surprised," Christopher said quietly to Lorelai.
"Oh, I am," Lorelai told him. She couldn't believe this was happening.
She had specifically told her mom that she wanted to get to know Victoria first, but when did Emily Gilmore ever listen to her? This was vintage Emily Gilmore.
Christopher looked at Lorelai. "I thought your mom-"
"She didn't," Lorelai told him. "Mom, can I talk to you for a minute?"
"We have company, Lorelai," Emily said. "Christopher and Victoria are here."
"I see that my daughter and the father of my children are here," Lorelai said pointedly. "Mom, I told you I wanted to get to know Victoria first."
"Well, I ran into Francine at the club-"
Lorelai closed her eyes for a second and then looked at Emily warily. "Please tell me the Haydens aren't coming."
"I can't," Emily responded.
"Cat got your tongue?" Lorelai said. There was a mixture of sarcasm and anger in her voice. Christopher and Victoria were one thing, but the Haydens…
"I can't because they are coming," Emily told her as the doorbell rang. "That must be them now. Sit down, Lorelai. You're being very rude. You don't want the Haydens to think you're rude, do you?"
"Rude would be an improvement," Victoria muttered under her breath and Lorelai and Rory glanced at her curiously. Her grandparents had called Lorelai much worse than rude.
"I thought you were going to Tristan's party," Rory said quietly to Victoria.
"I thought so, too," Victoria said, obviously not happy that she was at her grandparents' instead.
"You can't make me see my parents alone," Christopher said with a glance at Victoria.
"You're a big boy. You can handle it," Victoria told him.
"They like you better than they like me," Christopher said.
"That's only because I could still go to Princeton and be a lawyer," Victoria pointed out.
Lorelai looked at Victoria, frowning slightly in confusion. "I thought you wanted to go to USC."
"Don't say anything about USC to the grandparents," Victoria said quickly, looking alarmed.
"I don't understand. USC's a good school. I think they'd be happy," Rory said honestly.
Victoria laughed bitterly. "You don't know them."
"Lucky you," Christopher told Rory.
"They're going to find out at some point," Rory pointed out, "when you don't go to Princeton."
"I'm not going to get into Princeton," Victoria said calmly.
"You're smart. If you studied-"
"No, Rory, I don't want to get into Princeton," Victoria said flatly. She pasted a smile on her face when her grandparents walked into the living room with Emily and stood up. "Hello, Grandmother, Grandfather."
"Victoria," Straub said by way of greeting.
Francine gave Victoria a hug and then looked at her carefully. "That dress looks nice. Oh, Victoria, I thought you'd wear heels with that dress."
Victoria looked uncomfortable and shot her dad a pointed look. He got the message and stood up, taking the attention off Victoria.
"Hello, Mother, Pop." Christopher kissed Francine's cheek.
"Christopher," Straub said.
"Christopher, hello." Francine looked at him carefully and adjusted his jacket.
Lorelai stood up reluctantly. "Mr. and Mrs. Hayden, long time no see."
"Lorelai," Francine said politely. "You look well."
"I am, thanks." Lorelai glanced at Rory. "You remember Rory. You haven't seen her in quite awhile."
"I think she was just beginning to speak in complete sentences," Francine remembered.
"So not for two years then," Lorelai joked, however the Haydens looked somewhat less than amused. "She's obviously been talking a long time so I was making a humorous comment sometimes referred to as a joke."
"I see you haven't changed, Lorelai," Straub said, sounding supremely disappointed.
"Rory, hello," Francine said, finally looking at Rory.
"Hi," Rory said nervously. She stood up to shake Francine's hand, but ended up curtsying instead.
"Did you just curtsy?" Lorelai whispered, looking at Rory.
"Shut up," Rory muttered, embarrassed.
"Sorry, milady," Lorelai whispered.
"Uh, Straub, Francine, how about a martini?" Richard offered them drinks.
"Please," Straub said.
"We're very pleased about Christopher's business success out in California and his new job here," Richard said as he mixed drinks for Straub and Francine.
"Yes, it's taken awhile, but it seems to be finally coming together. Seems to be," Straub said skeptically.
Victoria glanced at her dad and then shot her grandfather a look. "Grandfather, he's working hard."
"Christopher, your tie please," Francine said to Christopher, who was loosening his tie.
"And are you working hard in school, young lady?" Straub asked Victoria.
"Yes, sir," Victoria responded.
"Because you need good grades to get into Princeton, you know. Every Hayden attended Princeton, including myself, except for your father," Straub said pointedly.
"I know," Victoria said with a sigh.
"Rory is an excellent student, very bright," Emily told Straub and Francine proudly. "She's going to Chilton with Victoria."
"You should have a talk with her, Straub. She could give you a run for your money," Richard said.
"Is that so?" Straub asked skeptically.
"That's right," Emily told him.
Straub looked at Rory, who shifted uncomfortably in her seat and looked away.
"Well, I think my money's safe," Straub said. "How old are you? Sixteen?"
"Yes," Rory replied.
"Dangerous age for girls," Straub commented and Lorelai shot him a look.
"Yes, well, we're almost seventeen. One more week and we're past that dangerous age," Victoria said dryly.
"Watch your tone, young lady," Straub scolded.
"Sorry, Grandfather," Victoria said quietly.
"I hate President Bush," Lorelai said suddenly, trying to take the heat off her daughters.
Victoria gave Lorelai a weird look and shook her head. Her grandparents didn't need another reason to hate Lorelai.
"What?" Straub said.
"Lorelai," Emily said in a disapproving tone.
Christopher exhaled sharply. "Oh boy."
"He's stupid and his face is too tiny for his head and I just want to toss him out," Lorelai continued.
"That is the leader of our country, young lady." Straub glared at Lorelai.
"Ignore her," Richard said.
"His face is too tiny for his head," Francine repeated. "What kind of a thing is that to say?"
"I see your daughter is just as out of control as ever," Straub said to Richard and then he turned to Christopher. "Tell me, what are you thinking letting her have a relationship with Victoria?"
"Hey, Victoria's my daughter," Lorelai said, glaring at Straub.
"And it's abundantly clear that you're not qualified to raise a young lady when you've never been able to act like one," Straub said to Lorelai.
"Pop, please," Christopher pleaded, "let's try to keep it civil."
"I wouldn't give a damn about you derailing your life if you hadn't swept my son along with you," Straub continued, ignoring his son.
"Dad, come on," Christopher tried again.
Lorelai looked at Rory and Victoria. "Go into the next room. Go, go."
Rory hurried into the kitchen, glancing back at Victoria, who hesitated and then stayed seated. Victoria didn't know if Lorelai was talking to her or just Rory when she said to go in the other room. She didn't need Lorelai to protect her from it. She'd heard all of this before.
It had hurt the first time she heard it, but Victoria didn't let it bother her anymore. She knew her dad loved her. Her grandparents did, too, in their own way.
This wasn't about her and Rory. It was about her parents.
Her dad wouldn't defend himself against his parents. He never did. He would just sit there and take it. Victoria stayed in the living room because she knew he needed her there.
"I'm going to have to echo Christopher's call for civility here," Richard said after Rory left and they all realized Victoria wasn't planning on going anywhere. "A mutual mistake was made many years ago by these two, but they have come a long way since."
Straub scoffed at that. "A mutual mistake, Richard? This whole evening is ridiculous. We're supposed to sit here like one big, happy family and pretend that the damage that was done is over, gone? She had those babies and ended our son's future."
"Hey!" Lorelai said angrily.
"You seduced him into ruining his life," Straub said, blaming Lorelai for everything.
"You recant that, Straub!" Richard demanded, grabbing Straub's arm.
"You're spilling my drink," Straub said, looking at Richard's hand on his arm.
"You owe my daughter an apology," Richard told him.
"An apology? That's rich," Straub scoffed.
"How dare you? How dare you?" Richard yelled, grabbing Straub.
"Richard, what are you doing?" Emily asked, horrified.
"How dare you come into my house and insult my daughter?" Richard demanded.
"Let go of me!" Straub yelled.
"Whoa, whoa, whoa, what is going on here?" Christopher said, standing up and getting in between Straub and Richard.
"This is like an episode of Jerry Springer," Victoria commented.
Lorelai looked at Victoria, having forgotten she was there for a moment with everything else going on. "What are you still doing here?"
"I'm here for moral support," Victoria told her.
"Honey, please go into the other room with Rory," Lorelai said softly. She didn't want Victoria to see this.
"Dad needs me here," Victoria told her quietly.
"Shame on you, Straub, for opening all this up again," Richard said to Straub.
"Get your purse, Francine," Straub said, ready to go. "We're leaving."
"You're not leaving. I'm kicking you out," Richard told him.
"You ok?" Victoria asked Christopher when the grandparents left and it was just her and her parents in the living room.
"I'm fine," Christopher told her. "You?"
"Yeah," Victoria said.
Lorelai looked at Victoria. "Are you really?"
"Hey, you know everything they said was directed at me and not you and Rory, right?" Lorelai said.
Victoria looked at Lorelai. "You don't need to protect me. I'm sixteen. The same age you were when you got pregnant as Grandfather pointed out. And I wouldn't want to get pregnant."
"Well, that's a relief," Christopher said.
"It's no secret that it wasn't a planned pregnancy," Victoria continued. "It was a mistake."
"Hey, no regrets," Lorelai told Victoria, not liking what she was hearing. She didn't think of her daughters as a mistake.
"No, no regrets," Christopher agreed. "You know you're the bright spot in all the darkness."
Victoria smiled at her dad. "I love you, Dad."
"Love you, too, kid," Christopher said.
"You think you can get a ride?" Victoria asked him.
"That's right, your party," Christopher remembered. "Go."
"Thanks," Victoria said. "I'm just gonna say bye to Rory. Bye, Lorelai."
"Have fun," Lorelai told her, giving her a quick hug.
Christopher looked at Lorelai when Victoria left. "And you brought up Bush because…?"
"It seemed like a good idea at the time," Lorelai said. "Wow."
"Yeah," Christopher said with a sigh.
"I feel…sixteen," Lorelai said.
"You survived the war," Victoria said when she found Rory in the kitchen drinking a soda.
Rory nodded weakly.
"That wasn't about us. It was about Lorelai and Christopher," Victoria said.
"It was about them because they had us," Rory pointed out.
"Well, yeah," Victoria acknowledged. "Dad's parents didn't want Lorelai to have us."
"What?" Rory said, looking at Victoria in surprise and horror.
Victoria bit her bottom lip. "You mean, you didn't know?"
"No!" Rory told her.
"Well, they didn't want Lorelai to have us, but that has nothing to do with us. They didn't know us," Victoria said quickly.
"They don't even want to know me," Rory said quietly.
"That has nothing to do with you. It's really about Lorelai," Victoria told her. "I don't know if you noticed, but she's not exactly their favorite person."
"I noticed," Rory said.
"I know it's not right or fair, but they blame her for everything that's ever gone wrong in Dad's life," Victoria explained.
"Because she had us," Rory said.
Victoria nodded. "Yeah."
"But…why are they ok with you? I mean, we're twins," Rory pointed out.
Victoria sighed. "Lorelai didn't raise me. She raised you."
Victoria knew that her grandparents would feel the same way about her if Lorelai had raised her. But Lorelai hadn't raised her.
If she was being honest, her grandparents had practically raised her.
She was the kid they didn't have, their second chance to do it right.
She could still go to Princeton and take over Straub's law practice. And when that didn't happen, she'd be persona non grata with them.
"Oh," Rory muttered.
"I gotta get out of here. I'm going to Tristan's party. Are you sure you don't want to come?" Victoria asked.
Rory shot her a look. "To a party at Tristan's house? No."
"You look great," Christopher said sarcastically when he found Lorelai crying on the balcony outside her bedroom.
"Yeah, well, I look the way I feel, wise guy," Lorelai said, upset after a conversation with her father.
"That was….that was a memorable evening," Christopher said.
"Oh, yes, it was beautiful in there," Lorelai said sarcastically. "We should commemorate it with an oil painting or a severed head or something."
"Next time we get this group together we're gonna have to frisk for weapons," Christopher commented.
"Hand out gags," Lorelai suggested.
"Employ six individual cones of silence," Christopher said and Lorelai laughed. He looked around, remembering all the times they'd had out there. "Boy, the old balcony is still the same, isn't it?"
"In all it's beautiful away from them-ness," Lorelai agreed.
Christopher nodded. "Perfect hide out-totally private. We spent a lot of time out here."
"Sneaking Dad's telescope, scanning the sky for alien ships." Lorelai smiled.
"Never found any," Christopher said.
"Huh, imagine that," Lorelai said with a laugh. "And then when we were older, scanning the neighbors' houses for naked people."
"Found a couple of those," Christopher remembered.
"Mrs. Dominski undulating in her big fat underalls is forever carved into my brain," Lorelai said with a smile.
Christopher laughed. "And in mine." He pulled a tequila bottle out of his jacket and held it up. "Here's to Mrs. Dominski's underalls."
"Aw, you're holding out on me," Lorelai said.
Christopher took a drink and then offered her the bottle. "Take it."
He didn't have to tell her twice. She took the bottle.
"And in an effort to further chronicle this balcony's history, we are now in the immediate vicinity of the spot upon which was Victoria and Rory's initial emanations," Christopher remembered.
"Yes, we are," Lorelai said. "Here's to Rory and Victoria." She took a drink.
"They're the only good things I've ever done," Christopher told her.
"You did good with Victoria," Lorelai told him. "She's a great kid."
He looked at Lorelai and kissed her. He didn't know if it was the alcohol or being back there again or just Lorelai...but he still loved her.
"Hey, I thought you weren't coming," Tristan said when Victoria got to his house.
"Dinner with the grandparents ended early," Victoria said.
Tristan looked at her. "You don't look happy about that."
"I look like I just spent a lovely evening with my grandparents telling me that they wish I'd never been born," Victoria told him.
"I, for one, am glad you were born," Tristan said, leaning down to kiss her.
She could smell vodka on his breath and he tasted like Coke. "Did you start drinking without me?" Victoria asked.
"You said you weren't coming," Tristan reminded her.
Victoria just looked at him.
"I'll get you a drink," Tristan said, going into the kitchen. He returned a few minutes later with a cup for her.
"Thank you," Victoria said with a smile. She took a drink and looked around. "Are Louise and Madeline here?"
"I think I saw them going to the pool house with Ty and Daniel," Tristan told her.
"Already?" Victoria said with a laugh.
"Yeah," Tristan said. "And Paris already left."
"Alone?" Victoria said.
Tristan looked at her. "It's Paris."
"So alone," Victoria said.
"Yeah, why? Did you want to go home with her?" Tristan asked her teasingly.
"She's not really my type," Victoria told him.
Tristan looked at her with a grin. "Really? So what is your type?"
Victoria kissed him in answer to his question.
"I like you, too," Tristan said with a smile.
"Well, it's good to know you don't go around kissing girls you hate," Victoria said.
"No, only you, Victoria," Tristan told her.
Victoria looked surprised and unsure if she should believe him.
"What? You don't believe me?" Tristan said.
"Paris couldn't wait to tell me you were seeing three girls and I was fourth in line," Victoria told him, trying to sound like she didn't care.
"Ok, yes, I was dating three other girls, but not at the same time," Tristan said honestly.
"Well, yeah, because that would've been difficult," Victoria said dryly.
"And no one else since we started seeing each other," Tristan told her. "You are my girlfriend."
"You can't just decide I'm your girlfriend. You have to ask first," Victoria told him teasingly.
Tristan looked at her. "Victoria, will you be my girlfriend?"
Victoria smiled and nodded.
Tristan smiled at her and kissed her.
"You're such a good boyfriend. You're a good kisser and you're pretty," Victoria said with a smile.
Tristan pulled away and looked at her. "Pretty?"
"Pretty…hot," Victoria said. "Pretty hot."
"Better," Tristan told her.
"Wow, wow, wow," Lorelai said, putting her clothes back on.
Christopher looked at her. "You wigged?"
"Yeah. Yeah, I'm a little wigged," Lorelai told him.
"Why?" Christopher asked.
"Why? Are you kidding me?" Lorelai shot him a look. "This was not supposed to happen tonight. God! What were you guys even doing here, Christopher?"
"Emily invited my mother. My parents said they needed to see if you'd changed now that you're spending time with Victoria," Christopher told her. "I tried to get out of it, but…"
Lorelai looked at him pointedly. "Chris, you're an adult. Victoria is our daughter. You didn't have to come. No one held a gun to your head."
"So what are you doing here? You like your parents about as much as I like mine," Christopher pointed out.
"Less actually," Lorelai told him. "They're paying for Chilton and they would only give me money for Rory's school if we came to Friday night dinners."
Christopher sighed. "My parents are paying for Victoria's school."
"My mom did this," Lorelai said angrily. "I told her not to do this and she didn't listen and it was Chernobyl and the Hindenburg combined."
"But you and me...it was great," Christopher said, looking at her.
"Oh God! Oh, I can't believe this!" Lorelai exclaimed, unable to believe this night was happening.
Personally, she didn't think it was so great.
He'd loved her when she was sixteen and staying out all night partying. He still loved her, but he didn't know her anymore. She'd changed. She'd grown up. He was still the same old Christopher. Irresponsible and immature.
He wasn't ready for a relationship with her. He just thought he was.
"What did our having sex mean to you?" Christopher asked.
"It meant that Jose Cuervo still has amazing magical powers," Lorelai told him.
"You're funny," Christopher said sarcastically, a little hurt.
"We can't do this, Christopher," Lorelai said.
"Ok, fine," Christopher said. "You know what? We should go."
"Yeah, we should go like thirty minutes ago," Lorelai said.
Christopher sighed. "I'm sorry."
"Oh, don't apologize. It was the both of us," Lorelai said as they left the balcony. "God, my parents have got to seal these windows up. I swear to God…"
"So where were you guys?" Rory wondered from the back of her mom's Jeep.
"Nowhere," Lorelai said.
"Where's nowhere?" Rory asked.
"Where we were," Christopher said.
"Mm hmm," Lorelai agreed.
"Ah," Rory said, realizing they weren't going to tell her where they were and that she could guess why.
"Good night, Rory," Christopher said when Lorelai parked in front of his building. "Good night, Lor."
"Good night, Dad," Rory replied.
"Good night," Lorelai said with a sigh.
A/N: This doesn't mean there won't be more Christopher/Lorelai—there will be. It just means they're not ready to be together right now. I like Christopher. I know it's an unpopular opinion, but I actually wanted them to end up together on the show.
Thank you to everyone who is reading. I'd love to hear what you think.