I've never known what's good for me. - This Modern Love, Bloc Party
November 2016, Stars Hollow
The pause is probably no more than a few seconds, but in her head it goes on forever.
"Surprise," she manages a forced little smile. Her mother's eyebrows meet in a sudden frown. Oops.
"Sorry," she says. "I just meant, it's an actual surprise, for us too."
Lorelai tilts her head.
"How did this happen? And do not pull some joke about birds and bees!"
"I think you're mistaking me for you again." Rory says, but adjusts her tone, because it is her mother, and on her wedding day after all. "I don’t know, Doctor was a bit unclear on that, talked about the importance of keeping track of those expiration dates, which, granted, I may have gotten a bit lost on with everything that’s happened – and I’ve had so many – and she kept bringing up the small percentage of chance even on functioning devises. And to be honest I had a bit of trouble concentrating, my head was very busy at the time-"
"And, this is it?" Lorelai interrupts. "You’re staying pregnant?"
Rory looks up, taken by the question, even if the answer is-
"Yes." The word bounces and echoes inside her. She’s known since yesterday afternoon, shared it with Jess for a few hours, they’ve even come to a wordless decision, but this is the first time she’s explicitly said it. Yes. She’s- They’re doing this. She’s going to be a mother.
Lorelai looks into the dawn. Takes a breath.
"So, grandma Lorelai."
"Daddy Jess. Surreal." Lorelai looks back at her. "What does he say about this?"
"Not much. We haven’t really had time to discuss it, I broke the news to him when I was picking him up tonight."
"Please tell me this wasn’t the first time you grazed the subject." There's distinct concern in Lorelai's voice now.
"It wasn’t." She reassures. "But still. We’ve talked in terms of maybe someday, so… It’s good there’s a gestation period."
Lorelai runs her hand through her hair, possibly to prevent her head from overheating. Rory waits.
"Rory, we have to talk about this further, but I- I suddenly really need my bed."
"Mom, I’m sorry to tell you now, today, I just couldn’t bear keeping it from you."
"It’s okay." Lorelai reaches out and grabs her hand, meets her eyes and produces a calming smile.
She knows her mother's strong feelings regarding this. When you build your own identity around something unforeseen it's bound to breed inner conflict. Her mother loves herself, but is angry with herself, her young self for being stupid, her older self for not being able to shake that feeling. Her mother loves her, the not so little mistake, and wants to make sure that mistake turns out to be anything but that, the opposite, a success, a big I told you so, destiny, meant-to-be, intentional, redemption. Her mother is afraid of her getting pregnant. Sure, she's thirty-two by now, but old habits die hard.
"And you're positive you wanna do this? There are options."
She tells herself it doesn't matter, it's a gut-reaction, Lorelai knows better.
"Mom, I don't have a pro/con-list to back up my decision, but I don't intend to make one, and for me to not do that... I felt like that was sort of answer enough for me."
"I know the timing isn’t optimal-" Rory goes.
"But when is it ever?" Lorelai finishes.
Rory just stares at her. Luke and Jess gets back and Lorelai gets up.
"We should go home," she says.
"What about the coffee?" Luke says.
"Some might say drinking coffee in the middle of the night is bad for your sleep."
"Oh geez." Luke sighs, but turns and carries the tray back to the diner.
Jess looks after him, then between Rory and Lorelai, and raises his eyebrows in quiet recognition. Lorelai shoots him a tired little smile.
"Lorelai-" he starts but she interrupts.
"Jess, can we just... wait? Do this later?"
"Of course." He responds.
Luke returns and Lorelai sticks her arm under his and starts walking home. Rory and Jess remain standing.
"We'll be there in a bit," Rory throws after them and Lorelai raises a hand without looking back. She sighs and turns to Jess who squints at her.
She lets out a short, silent laugh.
"Yeah," she starts slowly, while leaning her forehead on his shoulder. "It was just, a bad time for it. I mean, I'm having trouble thinking of a time when she wouldn't be conflicted about it, but it was a specifically bad time for it today."
"And if you hadn't told her now she would have been upset about that."
He puts his palm to her jaw, fingers squeezing her neck. A shiver runs down her spine and with the pleasure she feels exhaustion.
"Okay, we better get going if I wanna avoid falling asleep standing."
He nods and drags his hand down her arm, grasping her hand and starts walking. They've left the square when he speaks again.
"How far along is it?"
"'Bout six weeks. Early. It could still- The risk of miscarrying is a thing, will be 'til week twelve, apparently."
"So, we don't tell anyone else, 'til we know it's definitely happening."
"Right." He presses his lips together and starts gesturing before speaking. "You are aware that the biggest social event in years ’round here is happening today?"
"So," he starts with a smile, "you're a terrible liar. How are you gonna pull this off?"
She glares at him.
"I can keep quiet!"
"Ten bucks says everyone knows by tomorrow."
"You're on mister!" She shakes his hand, marking the bet.
Once they arrive at the house Luke and Lorelai have already retired to their upstairs bedroom. They go straight to bed and as soon as he's on his side facing her she's seemingly struggling to keep her eyelids up. His mind is still wide awake though and he feels the need to fill the silence with words for once.
"So, anything more I should know?" He asks.
"Right now?" She mumbles.
"Nothing of relevance that I can think of."
"How about anything of irrelevance?"
She smiles suddenly, endearingly, her eyes glimmering.
"Okay; It has a heartbeat, I got to see it on an ultrasound, it looked like ripples on the water, like from a leaky faucet. And it's no bigger than an ant, and kind of looks like admiral Ackbar, who is an alien, and the choice of the color green makes much more sense now." She yawns on her last words.
He smiles briefly at her enthusiasm and Star Wars reference, shaking his head at the incoherence of the rest. She frowns.
"Are you okay?" She asks.
He hasn't thought about it and when she asks he knows why. It's too much.
"I'm fine, Ror. I mean, I guess there's processing to do, but not now. Let's just get through today, okay?"
He strokes her cheek and she smiles at the reassurance.
He does try to fall asleep, but his head won't stop spinning, and once he gives up and opens his eyes, she's sleeping. He observes her resting face in the morning light, puts his forehead to hers in a vain hope of absorbing her brainwaves to get to sleep. It obviously doesn't work.
He gets up and leaves the room. Locates his bag in the kitchen and rummages through it until he finds a pack of cigarettes. He pours some cold coffee from yesterday and heats it in the microwave. The best way to tire himself out is to act as if he's doing the opposite. Who needs sleep anyway? He walks outside and sits down on the edge of the porch, lighting a cigarette and drinking the coffee. The air is cold, and he shivers slightly.
The door behind him opens with a creak, and he straightens his back, collecting himself as best he can before turning around. It's Luke, in pajama-pants, t-shirt, slippers and a flannel robe over everything. He takes a few aimless steps and throws his arms around himself. Looks at Jess and shoots him a sort of jocular smile. Walks over and sits down next to him.
"What are you doing up?" Jess asks pointedly.
"I'm getting married today, I'm a bit antsy, sue me." Luke says. Then he leans against Jess in a gentle shove. "Bet I don't need to ask what your excuse is. I hear congratulations are in order."
"Yeah. Can we save it for later though?"
"Sure," Luke goes slowly. He reaches out with surprising speed and snatches the cigarette from Jess’s hand, stubbing it out on the side of the steps.
"Geez." Jess sighs.
"Hey! You gotta start taking care of yourself now." Luke lectures. "That's what happens when you spawn, apparently. They're not really viable for the first, say, 18 years, that's when you gotta be behind the wheel."
"This isn't exactly a regular occurrence."
"Then why bother at all?"
"Never mind." He shakes his head.
"Unless it's what you do when you're freaking out," Luke goes on.
There's a devious pause making him think they've moved on, but, of course that is just Luke taking aim.
"Do you not want this?"
Jess turns to face him.
"How can you ask that?"
"Well, it looks a bit like-"
"I know what it looks like." He mumbles. "Look, just forget about it."
"Yeah, fat chance."
Luke will hold onto this, before he's even had the chance to actually think about it himself. He falls back on the truth. Rushes to get it out.
"I’m with her. No matter the circumstances. I'm not walking away." His words curdle against his intent, don't sound right.
"Well then." Luke says, possibly ready to let it go.
"It's not this. It's me." He tries again. "What if I can't- What if it's like one of those hereditary diseases that are triggered at a certain point? What if no amount of resolutions does it?" He can't muster speaking plainly, but Luke seems to get it anyway.
"Listen, I've been meaning to tell you this for a while, but you've had it together for such a long time, figured you cracked the code yourself." Luke turns to him and puts a finger to his chest. "Here it is: He left the both of you. He's not a proxy or model for you in any way. His behavior is not a blueprint for anything. He's a just a man who made a terrible decision, nothing more. Fatalism is bullshit. Astrology makes more sense, and that's sayin' something. You inherit bad genes, not bad decisions. You never lived up, or down, or sideways to anyone's expectations, why start now?" He pauses, probably the most he's spoken this month. Jess tries looking away, because it's way too close to home for it to be comfortable, but Luke won't let him off the hook, won't break eye contact, keeps speaking. "And you listen to me: You get this way again you call me, you come see me, you hear? I'll remind you.” He finally turns away, looks out across the garden instead. ”And, you know, get educated. You got nine months, and you’re a fast reader. By the time the kid gets here you’ll be one of those annoying know-it-all parents who’ll drive everyone crazy."
"You already got the last part down."
"You're welcome. Now go to bed. My guess is you should try to really enjoy sleep the coming months. While you can."
"Okay." Jess gets up. "You too?"
"Alright, in a bit." Luke remains sitting. "See you in a few hours."
He walks back inside, into the bathroom, takes a shower and brushes his teeth, before getting back into bed with her. It's easier drifting off now, his body warm and his uncle's words resounding in his head.
It turns out showering at that time was a pretty solid choice, he did it to get rid of the smell of cigarettes, but the boiler only has two warm showers in it at a time which means that when everybody gets up hours later the groom winds up gets stuck with a cool one.
"Shouldn't be a problem, we all know you love those outdoorsy cold showers." Jess quips when his uncle grumbles over the prospect, and Lorelai and Rory giggle when Luke's swearwords leak through the bathroom-door.
Apart from that the four of them are, perhaps appropriately, unusually silent, that morning, or noon, if aiming to be correct.
A while later Lorelai and Rory prepares to leave.
"We gotta go!" Lorelai goes and hands Rory a box with make-up hair-products. "We gotta meet up with Paris before we go to Patty's." She exits the door and Jess walks up to Rory who's lingering by the door, seemingly reluctant to leave.
"She invited Paris?" He asks.
"She said she wasn't taking any chances."
"Clever woman." He presses a kiss to her lips and she holds onto him for a few moments more than usual.
"Sweet child o' mine!" Lorelai hoots from the outside and Rory pulls back, eyes vulnerable. He smiles at her, puts his forehead to hers and shoves her gently toward the door.
"I will see you later."
"I just-" she starts.
"I know." He responds.
She smiles back at him and leaves.
He and Luke leave a little while later making their way to the center of the town. Even on his wedding day, Luke can't stay away from the diner, and disappears inside, for whatever reason. The town square looks slightly more real in daylight, the only trace of last night’s adventures is an empty champagne bottle on the gazebo floor. Jess picks it up and brings it into the diner where he exchanges it for a box of full ones. He carries it out to a table next to the gazebo, where he starts preparing an ice bucket and the bottles for opening. Michel is placing glasses on the table. He’s the toast master and already wound very tight.
"Are you sure you're speaking?" He asks pointedly.
"Yup." Jess has learned from their brief interactions in preparation for the wedding that Michel will be annoyed no matter what you do, so he doesn't waste words.
"Because if aren't now would be the time to tell me."
"I'm the best man, it's probably weird if I skip it."
"That title is questionable. But I'm letting you know that if you're going to back out you should do it now."
"Not backing out."
"Fine!" Obviously not fine. "But I have to cut everybody's speaking time to five minutes and if you are up there longer than that I will physically remove you myself."
"You will try," he corrects him. "But it won't be necessary, it's unlikely that it'll take more than two minutes. Now get off my back."
Michel all but growls, but gets back to lining up the glasses. Jess glances at him, slightly amused despite everything. Can't help himself.
"The ones you should worry about Patty and Babette, and Taylor. You give any of them the mic you'll never see it again."
"That's why you're on my case, correct? You're scared of Patty."
"I am not scared of anyone."
The guests start arriving soon after that and flock around the table. They have hired help for the event but they are busy preparing the food and he did volunteer to do this. Partly to serve his post as best man in any way available since Luke is being impossible, but maybe mostly because serving is a great way to navigate and be let out of awkward social interactions. This way he avoids getting trapped in Babette's and Patty's net of everlasting gossip and reminiscing, or Taylor's and Emily's more or less passive aggressive questioning.
Another bonus is keeping busy. Every moment his thought isn't with his current actions he senses the vertigo. The enormousness of it; the embodiment of future, their projectile, and in turn everything that they- that he himself has done to enable this. It helps when she appears, all dolled up. It's so easy to transform his worries to resolve when she's around. Being strong for her is easier every day, but it does require her presence. She walks up to his table and smiles at him, partly flirty, but with a fair share fragility. He sneaks her a glass of sparkling cider and winks at her.
For the dinner and following reception they're using Miss Patty's studio. Long tables have been placed pointing to the stage where the honorary table is, with seats all facing the guests. Lorelai and Luke are seated in the middle with Jess and Rory flanking them, and Emily and Michel on the outer chairs.
"The best man." Michel announces.
He's all charm as the master of ceremonies and has already introduced Emily standing in for Richard to toast the bride and groom. She in turn held a short but gracious speech, a perfect homage to her beloved etiquette, but with real warmth and eyes glittering. Finally.
Rory's already feeling a bit wobbly and fears it won't get easier.
Jess stands up and accepts the mic from Michel. He looks focused as he addresses the room and Rory smiles at that, knowing how uncomfortable he is up there.
"Anyone who knows me knows this isn't my thing. But sometimes you gotta do stuff like that. And I learned that from you." He points to Luke. "I also learned that there was sort of an austere joy in doing things that you didn't deem you were up for, from you too I should add. Especially when you are doing them for someone you care about. Then you don't really need anything in return." While speaking he keeps his eyes on his notes. It's likely he doesn't need them, but that they provide a different kind of support.
"And you didn't teach me this by telling me, or demanding I did it, but by being that kind of person yourself. You were when you let me stay with you, or when you helped Liz getting hitched on no notice, or when you threw a goodbye-party for Rory. And you were that kind of person in all the things that you did for Lorelai during the years. And I wanna thank you, for teaching me that, because it has bettered my life." He's never spoken about the way Luke is, and the influence he's had so openly. So, not looking at his uncle while saying the words might be necessary to be able to get through it. Rory looks to Luke and he's wearing the exact same concentrated look as his nephew. She laughs quietly.
"It takes a lot of work to live that way, since you rarely see results, but according to Kirkegaard, life can only be understood backwards, even though you have to live it forwards." She smiles, leave it to him to quote an existentialist on a wedding. "Of course, not needing anything in return doesn't mean you don't wish for it, sometimes. So, I'm, in no austere way, joyful, when it’s clear today that you are getting it. Lorelai, thank you too, for everything."
As he finishes his speech he looks to Lorelai, she smiles, and holds up her glass to him. It's first then that he looks at Luke, who's eyes are warm and a bit shiny. But his facial expression is grim. The two of them look at each other and Luke shakes his head and points his index finger at Jess, who smiles and shrugs.
Luke stands up, steps behind Lorelai's chair and hugs him firmly.
It's her time to speak, but she's more than a bit shaky. She hums to herself lowly to try to stabilize her voice without succeeding. She hasn't been able to decide on a firm structure for her speech, whenever she's tried sewing it together in one place a seam has burst open somewhere else. It's funny, she hasn't been nervous about it until now, when she realizes it's time. This is happening. She stops an unidentified sound from bursting out of her mouth. She takes the mic, closes her eyes for a few beats, and goes:
"I know I- we, have a well-earned reputation of being a tad chatty, but for this... I've tried, but there are just no words in the english language good enough for this. I'm sorry.” Her voice breaks and she looks at Lorelai. ”Mom-”
Lorelai gets up abruptly, and Rory hurries over to her where they just grab onto each other's arms. They stare at each other for a moment. Lorelai looks like she feels; moved, lips pressed together in a trembling smile, teary eyes, and she realizes she mirrors the expression. Something between a sob and an excited laugh bursts through her mouth, and then the two of them start skipping in the spot, giggling uncontrollably.
A sharp whistle cuts through the air and Babette's on her feet, along with Patty and Morey and the three of them start an applaud that quickly ripples throughout the room. She hugs her mom and the two of them sway in place while the cheering subsides.
"Thank you!" She manages and raises her glass.
She feels increasingly relaxed as the evening progresses. It's just a natural high from seeing everybody she loves the most, happy and content. The newlyweds' shenanigans ensue with two flash mobs, one elegant and snappy featuring Lorelai, that makes the guests applaud and scream like at a rock-concert, and one so awkward with Luke at the front that has the guests crying with laughter; it's almost better in its monumental awfulness, she lies across Luke's empty chair, against her mother trying to handle their mutual spasms, and Jess, who would've participated under no circumstances, sits, face in his hands, shoulders shaking.
After the numbers, tables are moved and it's time to open the dance floor. Rory regroups with Lane, Paris has had to leave to relieve the baby-sitter. Lane is ecstatic since she and Zack have an adult's night out and Mrs. Kim has taken the boys home after the ceremony. She skips in the spot and chats incessantly, a bit too high-paced for her blood alcohol level.
"Oh my god!" She exclaims as the intro to Our Lips Are Sealed rolls out, and her skipping transforms do distinctly more dance-like moves, and Rory laughs.
A few beats into the song there's a tap at her shoulder and Jess slips his hand around her waist and pulls her with him out on the dance floor.
"Sorry Lane." He shoots at her friend mid-motion.
"There's nothing to be sorry about." Lane shouts back. "Nothing! I'm going for drinks!"
He keeps them close together and moves modestly to the music. But still. She smiles at him.
"Are you dancing out of your own free will or has Miss Patty put a spell on you?" She jokes.
"The Go-Go's." He simply says.
"I remember." She responds.
They look at each other for a second, and then he kisses her. With the memory fresh in mind it's what time-traveling must be like, except this didn't happen back then. But she wanted it to. God. It would be stupid not to admit that now. She keeps kissing him and loses herself to that and for several moments the world is an alternate dimension, a really nice one.
Someone clears their throat pointedly and it's Lane returning along with Sookie who's apparently been recruited to carry drinks.
"I tried for a Sex On The Dance Floor but apparently they only have the Beach-kind." Lane says and sticks out her tongue at them.
"We went for the ones with the freakiest names. Fuzzy Navel, Monkey Brain, Dances with Wenches – no offense." She says and distributes glasses to Rory, Jess and Zack who's joined them seemingly out of nowhere. "Hey, what's the plural for drinks? A gaggle, a pride, a pod?"
"A cauldron." Rory offers.
"A parade!" Lane hoots.
"A collective." Zack says.
"Obviously a party." Jess finishes and reaches out his glass.
"Whatever it is this is it!" Sookie says and they clank their glasses together.
Rory almost sips the drink before remembering. She moves the glass from her lips in what she hopes isn't a too swift a motion and feels Jess's grip tighten around her when he too returns to reality.
"Actually, I think I’ve had enough." She backpedals.
"No, you haven’t!” Lane objects. "Did you even have champagne at the Gazebo?”
Rory’s just about to respond when Sookie jerks her arms from her body in a jagged gesture, almost knocking the drink from her grip.
”Oh my god you’re pregnant!” Sookie hoots, her voice faltering at the last word, probably as the insight of the multitude of social faux pas of her exclamation sinks in. Lane's eyes widen in recognition as Rory tries shushing them with a finger and at the same time going for an apologetic smile to her friend without giving it away to the people around them, among others her grandmother standing just a few feet away. But it’s too late and Emily turns toward them, chock evident on her face. Her conversational partner is none other than miss Patty, who's eyes gleam with her own brand of hunger.
Shoot. Oh, who is she kidding? This situation definitely calls for a real profanity. Shit.
”Sookie!” Rory says, placating, patronizing, in an effort to avert disaster. But even now, she can't bring herself to flat out lie, even if it would really come in handy. No matter what Jess says, she's not a terrible liar - just when she's tried hiding things from him - but her experience is that it works best if she's lied to herself first. And that is not an option at this point. Sookie does her best to play along though.
"Oh, just, never mind me, you know how I am, I see babies everywhere!" Her voice wavers at the word babies, and she tries another tactic, turns to Lane. "How many glasses is that again, at least five, right?"
"I'd say six," Lane replies deadpan, a skilled deceiver, her panic only visible to her best friend. "We'd better get you some coffee."
With that they wobble away, Sookie overdoing it a bit for show. She glances at Jess who returns her look warily, but not without a dash of humor in the twitch of his mouth. Bastard. And she looks back at Emily who's looking far from convinced and takes a step in their direction.
"Do you want me here or gone?" Jess asks in a sharp mumble, his lips barely moving. Her thoughts scramble before settling on it being better if he doesn't witness her in such a potentially mortifying situation, him having seen enough of those. And Jess Mariano is no match for Emily Gilmore anyway, in neither this nor most other situations.
"Go go go." She whispers in return. "Go talk to my mom."
He nods at her, raises his glass quickly at Emily, and twirls in the spot walking off.
Lorelai isn't hard to spot, perched on her assigned chair at the honorary table raised a few significant inches above the rest of the room. He climbs it and approaches her.
"Off dancing with some young brunette," Lorelai says casually and gestures to the edge of the room where Luke's dancing with April. Jess smiles, then turns back to Lorelai, hesitating for a second before speaking.
"Can I sit? I promise not to mention the war."
He takes a seat. This must be Taylor's view at those meetings. He looks at Rory and Emily in the middle of the room, exchanging words, and then hastily turning and walking out of the locale.
"What's going on over there?" Lorelai asks.
"Oh, uhm, Emily caught whiff of the fact that Rory isn't having any alcohol. Rory's trying to contain it."
"Wow. Good luck with that."
"That's what I said."
"Well, we are both insightful people."
"And very helpful."
"On that note - Should I go help?"
"Actually, Rory sent me your way so I guess that means she wants us out of it."
"Okay, but god knows why. Just think of all the helpful help I could provide." Lorelai says mostly to herself, even giggles a little. Jess looks at her more directly. She seems comfortable in her chair, hair a bit messy under her hat, small smile on her lips while watching her guests, and her arm slung over the armrest with a glass of champagne.
"You seem happy," he says. "Are you having a good wedding?"
She looks at him and her smile broadens.
"I am. I think it helps that it was actually last night. Now, nothing can go wrong. It's very relaxing."
"Rejoice while you have a choice, the risk of my daughter coming back with an ultimatum of a shotgun-wedding are extraordinarily high."
He would say something clever if he wasn't struck by the severity of the statement. Instead he takes a sip from his glass.
"Oh, god!" Lorelai mutters. "Look at me getting started all on my own."
"It's alright," he says.
"No, I think you better skedaddle before you make my brain start working again. I'm taking this day to only consider this day. Tomorrow I'll get started on nine months from now."
"Okay," he says. "I'll go refill the bar."
He gets up and walks past her. He reaches out and squeezes her shoulder briefly, but when he tries pulling his hand back, she's grabbed onto it, holding it and him in place. She twists her neck to face him.
"It'll be fine, Jess. It's just a bit chaotic right now, but trust me, it'll work out, I am an expert on this particular kind of chaos, after all."
"Okay," he says and she rolls her eyes, making him add: "Thank you."
"You're welcome." She lets go of his hand, and he moves on.
"Is there any truth to this, Rory?" Emily asks as soon as she deems the distance to anyone else acceptable. Of course, she doesn't know this town like Rory does. Miss Patty might keep her distance but she's obviously still listening.
"Can we talk about this somewhere else?" She proposes, apparently giving everything away at that.
"Oh my god!" Emily goes.
"Please, grandma." She grabs Emily's hand and leads her away from the dance floor, towards the exit, trying not to rush. The stairs outside the locale is cluttered with people too, so she continues across the road, heading for the town square. Emily stops.
"That's far enough young lady," she says. "A secret is as good as out if you're too thorough hiding it."
Rory looks back to miss Patty's just to see the silhouette of the miss herself in the light of the entrance. Too far for earshot. She still turns so that they're both facing away from the studio. She puts her arm around her grandmother, so they seem more like a private party out for a walk.
"I'm pregnant," she admits.
"Thank you," Emily says, without any real gratitude.
"I wasn't not telling you, it's just really early and we didn't wanna say anything in case-"
"That's fine," Emily interrupts, in that tone of hers that makes it seem as though it really isn't. Rory feels bad before she can help it. She has to force the feeling off. She knows she's in the right, in theory. You always feel like you owe Emily Gilmore more than you can give her. She takes a breath. Emily continues.
"Well, this is hardly the place to discuss this further. You and Jess, it is his baby I assume-"
"Of course it is." She allows some sharpness into her voice, but Emily gives no indication that she hears it.
"-must come to dinner, so we can talk about this."
Rory stifles a sigh, feeling stupid that she didn't consider that this would be everybody else's business.
"Sure, I'll give you a call in a few days."
Emily actually looks pleased at this. Her expression goes from sternness to something resembling euphoria within a minute.
"Congratulations, darling," she says, and gives Rory a squeeze with the arm around her waist. "A child. It's a blessing."
"Thanks for saying," Rory smiles. "It wasn't exactly planned."
Emily rolls her eyes and prims her mouth.
"Never mind that now. A child is a new chapter. A chance to start fresh. A cause to celebrate." Her expression changes as she speaks, she looks younger, hopeful. Turns to Rory and smiles. "Oh, I'm thrilled! I get to be there!" She stops, and hugs her. As she pulls back she even skips a little. Rory laughs at the unusual sight. "And just imagine! A naming! Another wedding!"
Rory goes cold at this turn that she should have seen coming a mile away.
"Uhm, grandma-" she starts, but Emily has already put some distance between them and started walking briskly back towards miss Patty's. She turns around to Rory and blows her a kiss. Sneaky.
Emily passes Jess on her way in, reaches out and brushes her hand across his arm as they pass each other. Rory drops the whole thing. She too tired now anyway. For another time. Jess approaches her and she sighs. She pulls up her tiny purse hanging from a golden chain over her shoulder, opens it and pulls out a ten-dollar bill. She slaps it into his hand as soon as he's within reach.
"Cork it," she says.
He puts the bill into his pocket, grabs her neck and pulls her into a tender kiss. The tension falls from her shoulders, and she drops thoughts of Emily in the same wave of relief.
They fall into bed. She's about to close her eyes when she feels his fingers on her face, pushing a strand of hair out of the way. He looks pale, tired, but eyes intent as they wander over her face, forehead to mouth.
"I’d do it, if you want me to, you know."
She's twenty-two and her college-boyfriend, who she loves, proposes in front of her entire family. Talk about a union of souls, plural. What's the plural for that? A murmuration. A congregation. An ambush. A mob. She’s caught by surprise and does the brave thing: asks for time to consider it, even if everybody has already approved it. It’s hard to be real about it, with the ring and the storybook dreams every girl is brought up on, they always have that option and that option is always okay. And she does love him. But she doesn’t think that’s relevant right now. Everything she’s worked for, for years, it’s all in front of her. When she imagined it, marriage was never part of it. In her dreams of being married, to Logan, she’s older, and possibly, eerily, like Emily Gilmore. But that’s just the way her mind works; It’s dramatic, and weird, and will ruin everything if she lets it. So, she says the most well-intentioned no, thank you, but maybe later, please, when we’ve lived, and I don’t want this to be the end, I want to see how it ends. But he ends it. And if she didn’t understand grand gestures before, either way, she does now.
She's thirty-two and it's anything but a grand gesture. It's an offer, a solution, a shotgun gone to someone's head.
She laughs, loudly, it transitions into a yawn. She shakes her head.
She closes her eyes smiling and drifts off.