A/N: Hey readers, I was thinking of another chapter or two but I realized that I'd pretty much told the story I wanted to tell here. I've tied up the major loose ends that bothered me. I'm also more pressed for time with a new kiddo in my home. To complete it though, I've written this tidy epilogue. Thanks for joining me on this adventure.
8:45 PM July 25, 2022
Luke cleared plates from the dinner table, rinsing off a bunch of frosting from his, but very little from the other 3. This was their second helping from the birthday party earlier when Michel and Frederick, Sookie and Jackson, Lane and Zach, Kirk and Lulu, Paris and Doyle, and Rory and Mark, brought over their broods for the bounce house portion of the day. April couldn't attend because she and her girlfriend of 2 years, Allison were just getting settled in California where she was lecturing and running an experiment at Berkley. He sighed as he rinsed the last plate, making a mental note to stick something healthy in the mac and cheese tomorrow… like broccoli. Yeah, that's it; tomorrow they all eat broccoli.
As he breached the kitchen doorway, he stood for a moment, soaking in the sight of his beautiful wife snuggled into the couch with their two miracles. Just when he thought life couldn't get better, they arrived and brought immeasurable joy. Sure, they were older now but the past 6 years had made them happier than the previous 10 years before that where they avoided the hard conversations.
Now, there was less need for words as they were in tuned with one another. Luke could tell by the way Lorelai wiggled out of bed that morning if she was going to have 2 cups of coffee or 3 before breakfast. Lorelai knew by the way he kissed her goodbye in the morning if he was going to be building another shelf because she irritated him. They were also of one spirit. When Lorelai visited Rory on her book tour for a week a few years back, they both missed each other too much. Sure Luke had the twins to distract him, and Lorelai had her Ellie belly to play with, but they just needed each other in proximity. Lorelai almost cut the trip short but Luke flew with the twins all by himself on the third day.
Luke was lost in the sight when he began to feel Lorelai's soft blue eyes on his face. He glanced and realized she was beckoning him over. He joined his family at 8:47pm and waited for the story to begin, almost as doe-eyed as Billy and Emily even though he was there when it happened. "Some people call giving birth a meaningful experience…" she began.
"But you compare it to doing the splits on a crate of dynamite," Will supplied.
"Twice, because there were two of us," Emily added.
"Right," Lorelai smiled and continued the story. "And it was at this exact time, many moons ago, that I was cursing your father and promising death when a snide doctor promised me just one more push."
"And then out came Emily, as your mother cut off all circulation to my right hand," Luke said gruffly but with a twinkle in his eyes.
"Right, so as Emily was screaming, verifying that she had indeed inherited Gilmore lungs, I decided I didn't want to push anymore."
"But Will, as stubborn as his grandfathers are wouldn't hear of it. So I provided a pep talk to his also stubborn mother."
Lorelai shot him a look but her eyes weren't into it, he said the same thing every year too. "Right, and out came our little Billy."
"They handed us Emily first and my heart nearly stopped seeing you in your mom's arms. You were perfect. And then you, little man," Luke pointed at Billy and tickled under his arms eliciting a giggle. "you were handed to me and I just knew it was perfect."
"We sat there for what seemed like forever, just the four of us before bringing in your sisters, grandma and cousin. I didn't think it was possible to feel more complete, but we were complete in that moment, all 7 of us."
At 9:06pm, the phone rang as if on cue. It was Grandma Emily, calling to share her first words to her grandchildren. Though she'd dropped into the party, this was her true inclusion to the tradition.
Rory stood in front of a class at Yale, a guest lecturer just as her grandfather had been. While her book had been a home run, she'd gotten her master's and PhD in Literature and was now teaching at Chilton. Originally, she felt she would be settling by leaving journalism, writing her book made her rediscover her passion for the great novels and the ones so terrible that they were great in a different way. She made enough in royalties to not have to work but she found she not only had a propensity, but joy in teaching, discussing and developing young minds. It seemed just as she would become tired of the idea, a young girl or boy who reminded her of herself would waltz into her classroom thirsting for knowledge.
If it weren't for going back to school, she wouldn't have met Mark, her soon to be husband. Mark was a regular faculty lecturer at Yale now but had met Rory when they were both using the same mentor in their PhD program. They butted heads and she called him Clark for the first year but eventually the flirtatious banter turned into just flirtation and then a relationship. He was also an older student because he'd decided to change careers from being a lawyer like his father to doing something he actually enjoyed. Their home on the edge of Stars Hollow was filled to the brim with books to the point that they were converting the attic into a library.
The only reason she'd accepted the guest lecture and took a semester reprieve from Chilton was because there was a blond haired, brown eyed young woman in the third row of her lecture hall vigorously taking notes. Gigi and Rory had always kept in touch, but since Elle was born, Rory felt a gap in her life where her sister should be. She reached out and had Gigi stay with her for her winder break that same year and they'd grown tight ever since. Gigi came to admire and want to follow Rory to the Ivy leagues.
While Princeton was the family way for the Hayden clan, Gigi's way of rebelling was to follow Rory. She resented Francine for talking down about her big sister while growing up and her dad didn't much care either way which school she went to so when she got into both schools, she went for that one. Literature wasn't her passion; she was actually a drama major and had some talent for art but not enough to major in it. Rory introduced her to Lucy as a mentor and they hit it off well. She enrolled in the class because it counted towards her gen-ed classes and Rory was the facilitator so as the class ended she hung back.
When the room was clear and it was just the two of them, Gigi closed her notebook and approached.
"Hey Ror," Gigi greeted.
"Hey Geej, How'd I do? Was I awful? I accidentally skipped one of the index cards I meant to read."
"You were great. You had the class laughing and you didn't put me to sleep like my math teacher."
Rory gave a throaty laugh. "Great. At least I can count on one end of semester eval to be positive. Hey, I don't have to pick up Elle for 2 hours and this was my last class today. Want to get some food?"
"Sure, I could eat." She tried to sound nonchalant but that was exactly what she'd hoped to hear. "So how's the wedding planning going?" she asked as they walked.
"It's still set in stone. My mom loved winter, but I love the summer so full of promise. June 16th is the perfect day for a wedding."
"Good. And is um, Logan coming? I know you're on good terms but it seems weird for him to be there."
"The whole brigade is coming to the reception but not the ceremony. Colin might try to buy the church or my husband, Finn and Robert might try to object and Logan… well it's cruel to have him see me walk down the aisle with our daughter as the flower girl. He's got his life now, even though he and Odette divorced and he's seeing some woman Brandy, I think it's tough for him. But some liquor will sooth us if he chooses to attend."
"And Mark's Okay with them all being there?"
"Yeah, he knows that Logan is Elle's father and he respects that he's been there consistently with our agreement for custody. Plus, Logan's keeping her during our honeymoon so the least we can do is offer steak or salmon."
"What about you? Any boys on the radar?"
"Oh, well there's this one. His name's Daniel and he asked me out but I'm not sure I'm ready. I only broke up with Raul before I started here."
"If you want my advice, which you probably don't and I'm going to offer it anyway, don't get hung up on past boyfriends. It keeps you from seeing future possibilities. Whenever I moved on before to a new guy, I'd always romanticize the relationship with the previous one and it made all of us miserable. If Raul really supported you, it wouldn't have mattered that you wanted to go to school here. Not every relationship has to be 'the one' so have fun… safe fun of course," she added thoughtfully.
"Thanks big sister. I'll think about it."
Jess drove into Stars Hollow with a grin on his face, his wife didn't understand what was going on in his head. She'd only just spoken to him and without much of any words, he ushered her into the car and drove straight from Philly to the sleepy Connecticut town. He opened her car door and led her up the steps to the diner where Luke was pouring coffee at a table. He worked much less but with Lorelai at the Dragonfly and the annex 'The Firefly Inn' and the twins now in Kindergarten, he worked a few hours a day in the diner and did the books the rest of the time.
"Jess? Rebecca?" Luke inquired as he absorbed the unannounced presence. "What's up? Is everything ok?"
"Yeah, Uncle Luke, I have something I wanted to tell you, we want to tell you..." he paused as he searched his uncle's eyes that were widening in anticipation. "Becca's pregnant. I'm gonna be a dad."
Luke didn't hesitate to hug him. "Jess, that's wonderful! Did you really drive all the way here to tell me this?" He looked at Rebecca as he broke the hug.
"Jess didn't tell me anything. I only told him a few hours ago and he insisted we had to come, so I guess so," she laughed. Her laughter and smile made it obvious what Jess saw in her. She was beautiful and way too perky for him but somehow they just worked. She shared his love of music and books, could match his sarcasm tit for tat and when he wanted to retreat into himself like all Danes men do, she had a way of drawing him out of it with very little effort.
"Well that's great! God, I'm so happy for you. You're going to be a wonderful dad Jess!"
"If I'm anything like you, even a little, I'll be happy."
"You're gonna be fine," Luke assured.
"Rebecca, you should go tell Lorelai at the annex just across the way. She'll be so excited for the news," Luke suggested. He figured Jess was more scared than he was letting on.
"Oh, sure. Later Luke."
"You want to tell me what's up?" he asked Jess as he motioned for them to sit at an empty table."
"Do you really think I can do this? I didn't exactly grow up with a shining example. I mean, there was you, but I was already 17. I don't know anything about babies or little kids? What if I end up like Jimmy? What if I screw this up?"
"Slow down man. Jess, look at me." Luke waited patiently for Jess to Lock eyes. It wasn't something either of them did very often, but Luke's gaze was now reassuring. "Look, the fact that you're even thinking all of these thoughts, that you want to do right, you're already better than Jimmy. You'll be at least as good as me. I can't count the number of diatribes I presented on children before Billy and Emily. Even having you, Rory and April was a stretch for me and you were all preteens and teens when I stepped in. But my love for you guys supersedes all of my urges to run. It will for you too. You're not just a Mariano, you're a Danes. Your grandfather would be so proud of you."
"Thanks man," Jess' breathing steadied.
"Caesar's got this, it's slow right now. I'm betting your wife is freaked out that you freaked out. We should head to the inn so you can talk to her."
"Good Idea," Jess agreed.
"We can hold hands and skip there if it'll make you feel better," Luke deadpanned. Jess just responded with a shove to Luke's shoulder as the bells to the diner signaled their exit.
Emily walked by the portrait she had commissioned of Richard and stopped in her tracks. She didn't do this every day anymore. When Richard first passed, she used to look at it religiously and talk to him. She'd come to realize that she could talk to him wherever she was. But today, she looked at the picture and while she had the familiar feeling of missing him, she also felt something different.
"It's going to be okay Richard. We're okay now. I miss you so much but I don't feel like you're gone anymore. When William looks at me with those eyes, your eyes I swear, I feel you. And Emily, you'd think because we share a name she'd remind me more of myself, but she's like you. She has this way of voicing herself with confidence. She pulls back her shoulders just like you do and states what she needs to as though it is the only logical conclusion. And Lorelai, we had a rough patch when you passed, but for the first time, we're close. She lets me help with the grandkids, and she keeps me involved. She even let me take them to a DAR part for younger tykes. She might have just slipped, but as I hung up the phone on their birthday, she said 'I love you, mom.' Normally, she just gets the babies to do it, but she said it and Richard, I swear, it was the sweetest thing like when she was two and used to tell us all the time without prompting."
Emily stood there, tears slowly rolling down her eyes as she continued to talk to him. "Well, Richard, I guess we've truly come full circle. Our little girl's back. I know you can see this. I like to think you lent a hand wherever you are."
She walked away and Berta, who'd learned much more English now, saw the tears and hugged her before heading to the kitchen.
Well folks, that was all she wrote. I hope it doesn't bother anyone that I took liberties with April to say she was with a woman. Something about her in the revival, not just the fact that she was looking for a place to fit in, made me feel like gender wouldn't matter to her if she really cared about someone.
The last thing I really wanted to correct was Rory and Gigi. I almost gave them a chapter but it didn't come out right. I thought it'd be better to see them matured and closer as a way to articulate Rory's growth as a person.
Please comment and let me know how you felt about the story. Thanks for taking this journey with me. I hope I didn't disappoint.