A/N: A short one for DiehardJavaJunkie14 in response to her 'Author Out Of Water' challenge. This was a challenge for me, because as many of you know, I am much more of a Luke Danes kind of girl… Here is a mother/daughter bonding story. A scene that I wish we had gotten to see. I hope that you enjoy it!

Lost Time

Lorelai grabbed the phone and said, "Yes, hello?"

"Mom?" Rory asked uncertainly.

"Rory!" Lorelai gasped.

Rory grinned and she exclaimed, "I got a job!"

Lorelai shook her head to clear it and asked quickly, "What? Where?"

"At the Stamford Gazette. It pays less than I'll spend on gas to get there, but it's a job! A writing job," Rory said with her old enthusiasm.

Lorelai pumped her fist in the air and hissed, "Yes!"

Rory smiled broadly and told her, "And I'm going back to Yale. I already called them and talked to my Dean, and it's all arranged. I just have to find someplace to live, but, who cares. I'll figure it out," she said confidently.

Lorelai closed her eyes for a second and wished with all of her might. "And this is what you want?" she asked anxiously.

"Yes," Rory said with a definitive nod.

Afraid it was all just wishful thinking on her part, Lorelai had to ask, "Are you sure?"

"Yes!" Rory answered simply.

Lorelai smiled as the weight of the world fell from her shoulders. "Aw, Rory," she sighed happily.

"I moved out of grandma's house," Rory blurted.

Lorelai nodded and said, "Yeah, I know. I heard," she confessed.

"Are you home?" Rory asked, forgetting that she had dialed the house phone.

Lorelai grinned and said evilly, "Oh, no, I'm not."

Rory giggled and said, "OK, I know you're home, but can I come over?"

Lorelai nodded enthusiastically and exclaimed, "Yes! Yes! Come over!"

Rory bit her lips and said, "'Cause I'm staying at Lane's, and I don't know if you want me to, but..."

Lorelai shook her head and said, "Tell Lane you're moving out and get your butt over here right now."

"Well, okay, if you insist," Rory said as she turned into their driveway.

Lorelai heard a car approaching and ran to the window. "Oh," she said softly. When she saw Rory's car pulling in she whispered, "Oh, my God."

"What?" Rory asked nervously as she pulled up behind the Jeep.

"You look just so much more silver than I remembered," Lorelai said with a laugh as she dashed for the door.

Still speaking into her phone, Rory smiled and said, "Now, come on. Is it too much to expect after a lengthy separation to get some sort of heartfelt greeting?" She saw her mother appear and hopped out of the car, running to her waiting arms. The moment she was enveloped in Lorelai's embrace she whispered a muffled, "I'm sorry."

"You're sorry? I'm sorry," Lorelai said passionately.

"I was so mixed-up," Rory moaned.

"I should have pulled you out of there," Lorelai insisted.

Rory shook her head and said, "I was stupid."

"No, I was stupid," Lorelai countered.

"I was more stupid," Rory persisted.

Lorelai gave her a watery chuckle and said, "Oh, boy, time to get you back to Yale."

Rory held tighter to her mother and whispered, "Love you, Mom."

Lorelai closed her eyes against the surge of emotion and said softly. "Oh kid, you have no idea."

They stood locked together for what seemed like years. Finally, Lorelai set Rory back to take a good look at her and said, "Well, you don't look any worse for wear."

"Slight imperfections, but still operating," Rory told her with a cheeky grin.

"Let's go in," Lorelai said as she wrapped her arm around Rory's shoulders and led her to the house.

"Oh! The phones!" Rory said as she turned back to the lawn.

"Leave 'em, we'll get them later," Lorelai said as she pulled Rory to the steps.

"I'm so glad to be home! I've missed this place so…" she trailed off as she looked around at the newly painted and refurnished living room. "Wow," she breathed.

"Oh, we remodeled," Lorelai said as she remembered that Rory hadn't seen the changes in the house yet.

"You and Luke?" Rory asked blankly as she glanced around.

"No, I dumped Luke for Taylor. He offered me a discount on Pop Tarts," Lorelai said with a smirk.

Rory pursed her lips and said, "Understandable," with a nod.

Lorelai pointed to the ceiling and said, "We expanded the bedroom and made a bigger bath upstairs."

"Sure," Rory said uneasily.

"Your room is just as you left it," Lorelai assured her quietly.

Rory sank down on the couch and said, "You and Luke are engaged."

"Yeah, we are," Lorelai said as she sank down next to her.

Rory smiled at her mother and said, "I'm so happy for you. For both of you."

"I wanted to call you so badly," Lorelai whispered.

"How did he propose?" Rory asked turning to her mother.

Lorelai smiled and said, "Actually, I proposed to him."

"What?" Rory asked incredulously.

Lorelai smiled ruefully and said, "The night this all blew up, I was so lost. I felt like I had lost everything," she said softly. "I went to the diner. I told Luke what had happened between you and me, about the dropping out, about your grandparents turning against me, and he," she paused. She took a deep breath and said, "He was ready to break into that house and kidnap you. I mean physically remove you from the premises, and sit on you like an egg until you hatched. I just looked at him, spouting off his plan for how we could get you back, and I knew. Here was a guy who loved you as much as he loved me," she said softly. She twisted her fingers in her lap and said, "I knew right then that he was it. He was the one." She smiled and said with a shrug, "So I asked him to marry me, and he said yes."

Rory laughed and said, "I'll bet he did."

Lorelai chuckled and said, "I've been a wreck, but he's been great. Of course, he badgered me constantly to call you, to talk to you. I couldn't make him understand that you had to do this on your own," she finished softly.

Rory nodded and looked down at her hands. She said softly, "As much as I missed you, I'm glad you let me. You were right. I had to figure it out on my own. I'm just sorry that I hurt you so much," she whispered.

"Oh kid, we hurt each other," Lorelai said as she pulled her into a hug. "I'm sorry I pushed too hard. I'm sorry that I didn't understand," she whispered.

"You were totally right. I let Mitchum get into my head. I let him squash my dreams. I let him make me doubt myself," Rory confessed softly. "All the while, I was still dating his son, still trying to live in that world. A world that I never wanted, a world that I didn't fit into," she said shaking her head. She looked up at her mother and whispered, "I joined the D.A.R."

Lorelai snorted and said, "Still trying to figure that out."

Rory smiled and said, "It was just easier. I didn't have to think too hard about it. I didn't have to figure out what I wanted. I kept busy with teas and charity events, partied with Logan and his band of merry men, and basically ran away from everything," she admitted.

"Well, Hon, that's what it is to be young and confused," Lorelai said understandingly.

"I can't believe I almost threw it all away," Rory said angrily. She pushed herself up from the couch and began to pace the room. "All I ever wanted to do! I just said, 'Oh, you think I'm no good? Okay, I guess I'm no good, then.' I took his word for it! Even after knowing how his family felt about him dating me! I was so stupid!" she ranted. "And you! Everything we worked so hard for all of these years. Everything you did for me! I was horrible!" she wailed.

"Hon," Lorelai said softly.

"No, Mom! I was! And then, then I just didn't know what to do. How to fix it. I wanted to talk to you so badly. I wanted to explain everything that I was feeling, but you were angry and I was angry," she said sadly. "I can't believe you and Luke are finally engaged and I missed it. Wait! You haven't gotten married have you?" she asked quickly.

Lorelai shook her head and said softly, "No, we were waiting for you."

"Thank God," Rory said as she sank back down on the couch with a sigh. She looked over at her mother and said softly, "Jess came to see me."

Lorelai blinked and asked, "Jess? Jess Mariano?"

"Yeah," Rory said with a nod. "He just showed up. Typical Jess. He's written a book. A novella. He's working at a small press in Philadelphia," she told Lorelai.

All Lorelai could say was, "Wow, Jess."

"Yeah, well, he met Logan. You can imagine how well they got along," Rory said with a snicker.

"Oh yeah," Lorelai said with a laugh.

"Anyway, he hung around until Logan wasn't around, and then really let me have it," Rory said with a rueful laugh. "Asking me how I could just drop out. Asking what I was doing with my life," she said shaking her head with the memory. "I was so embarrassed. He was so disappointed," she said softly. "It got me thinking. I started thinking about how I had let everyone down. Even Logan, who takes nothing seriously, thought I was nuts," she admitted. "Anyway, all I could think of was fixing it. I went to the Gazette, parked myself in their lobby until they gave me a job, and then started to talk to Yale about coming back next semester," she said with a determined nod. "Things got pretty bad with Grandma and Grandpa, so I moved in with Lane and the guys for a few days while I sorted it all out. I didn't want to call you until I fixed it," she said, her eyes pleading for understanding.

"I get that," Lorelai said softly.

"And, I have, or I am, I'm going to," she said sincerely.

"I'm so glad. For you. I'm happy for you, kiddo," Lorelai said with a smile.

Rory nodded and glanced around as she swallowed the lump in her throat. Finally, she asked, "So, does Luke live here now?"

Lorelai smiled and said, "Well, not officially, but he's here most of the time. We plan to stay here after we get married."

"Good," Rory said with a nod as she processed it all. "I felt so bad for him the night he told me that you were engaged," she said softly. "I was so hurt. I wanted to be glad for him, knowing how long he's loved you, but I was so upset. He looked so sad when he told me," she whispered.

"He was very sad about what was going on with us," Lorelai said. "He felt trapped. Caught in the middle. It was supposed to be a happy time for us, but it was so bittersweet without you here. For both of us," Lorelai told her.

Rory nodded and said with a tremulous smile, "Well, I'm here now."

"Yes, you are. Thank God," Lorelai said as she stroked her daughter's silky hair. "I missed you so much," she said softly.

"The feeling was very mutual," Rory said with a smile.

"Let's never, ever do this again," Lorelai said firmly.

"Never!" Rory agreed.

Lorelai smiled and asked, "So, movie night and catch up?"

"Yes, please!" Rory said happily.

"Okay, you run to Lane's and get your stuff. I'll go to Luke's and get provisions. I have to tell him that you're back," Lorelai said as she jumped from the couch.

"Okay," Rory said as they headed for the door. "I'll drop you off," she offered.

Lorelai stepped out onto the porch and drew a deep breath. She smiled as she realized that this was the first time she had breathed easily in months. She turned to Rory and said, "You go on ahead. I think I want to walk."

"Are you sure?" Rory asked doubtfully.

"Positive. Thirty minutes. I'll grab a movie," she said with a nod.

"Okay, thirty minutes," Rory agreed as she dashed for her car.

"Hey, wait!" Lorelai called as she bent down to scoop their phones from the grass. She handed Rory her cell and placed the cordless on the porch step. "Okay, now go!" she ordered.

"Back in a few!" Rory called over her shoulder.

After she watched Rory pull out of the drive, Lorelai started to wander towards Luke's she looked up at the starry sky and whispered, "Thank you. Thank you for bringing my girl back," before she broke into a trot.

She burst through the door of the diner minutes later and gasped, "Rory's back."

Luke looked up from the table he was cleaning and asked, "What?"

Lorelai flashed him the full wattage smile that he had fallen for so many years before and said triumphantly, "She's back. She's back at home, she's back at school, she got a job, and she did it all on her own!" She walked over to the counter and started loading donuts into a to-go bag. "She's at Lane's picking up her things, and then we're going to pull a major all-nighter," she told him excitedly. "We need burgers, fries, onions rings, and anything else you can think of. Oh! I'm going to go next door and pick up some ice cream at Taylor's," she babbled as Luke stared at her, his mouth agape. She walked over to him and kissed him full on the mouth. "She's back. We can set the date. We can get married now because Rory's back," she said giddily. She opened the door and called back to him, "Don't skimp on the fries. We don't want to lose her again!" as she breezed out of the door.