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what are you afraid of, making it better?

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Lorelai stares at the perfect house, her mother’s hand a tentative weight on her shoulder.

Lorelai thinks about a fishing hole, and a stable for horses, and a string of sunny easy mornings with Luke cooking breakfast in a big homey kitchen. Little feet scampering across the floors.

“Lorelai,” Emily says, “what in the world is going on?”

Lorelai lets herself look at what they won’t ever have. Just for a second. Then she wills her eyes to the floor instead.

Lorelai,” Emily persists.

“I don’t want to talk about it, Mom,” she manages. “It’s nothing. It’s just—it’s just over, okay?”

“That most certainly is not nothing,” Emily says indignantly.

Lorelai briefly contemplates dropping dead right here, right now. There’s a good chance it’d be the most exciting thing to ever happen in a real estate office.

“Now, I demand you tell me what happened between you and Luke,” Emily orders, and wouldn’t you know, the hysterical tinge to her voice stabs right into Lorelai’s brain. The cherry on the Best Day Ever sundae.

“Nothing happened, Mom,” Lorelai says. “It’s just – it’s just run its course, okay? I realized we’re not right for the long haul. He’s got his own thing going, and—”

“Did he cheat on you?”

“What? No. Luke would never do that.”

“I thought not. The man is obsessed with you.”

“We’re just ... going in different directions. That’s it. That’s all. It’s fine.” Her voice cracks on ‘fine,’ and she presses a hand to her face, like somehow that will fix anything.

“Lorelai—” Emily says, and then seems to run out of words.

The silence is way more unnerving than any verbal interrogation could be. Lorelai is used to verbal interrogations. Maternal tenderness, not so much.

Lorelai turns around. Her mother is looking at her, ridiculous in those Jackie O sunglasses, her mouth in a worried frown. Emily lifts a hand and for a second Lorelai thinks she might do something weird and affectionate – touch her face, or smooth her hair, or something. Then Emily catches herself, and her fingers fold into a fist.

“Will somebody bring us some water?” Emily barks. When a waiter in black tie doesn’t appear with a glass of Perrier within two seconds, she declares, “Dear God. The service here is terrible.”

“Maybe that’s because it’s a real estate office,” Lorelai suggests, annoyed.

Emily scoffs dismissively. “That’s no excuse.”

“Actually, it’s a pretty good excuse, Mom.”

“Nonsense. Someone in here must be capable of the common courtesy required to bring a glass of water. Now, sit down.” She herds Lorelai into one of the chairs and sits down next to her.

Lorene the Long Suffering Real Estate Agent dips in, glass of water in hand. “Here you go, Emily.”

“Thank you, Lorene,” Emily says, with the graciousness of someone who didn’t just majorly dis the nonexistent wait staff service at the real estate office.

“And just in case—” Lorene adds, rattling a bottle of medication in her other hand.

“I don’t need Aspirin,” Lorelai says impatiently.

“Don’t mind her. The headaches make her very unsociable,” Emily says.

Lorelai takes the glass of water and wishes it was a little bigger. Like, say, drown-yourself-in-it sized.

Lorene gives them one last parting smile. Behind it definitely lurks the silent demand ‘get your psycho child out of our office, Emily Gilmore.’

Emily, typically, ignores her completely.

“Now, what’s brought this on?” Emily demands, settling in. “Of course you and Luke are getting married.”

Lorelai doesn’t exactly have a history of taking it well when her mother tells her what she’s of course going to do.

But this time—for the first time; alert the history books—she wants to listen. She wants to believe that she’s just being ridiculous dramatic Lorelai. Blowing things out of proportion, like always. Overreacting, like always. Of course she and Luke are getting married.

Hearing it like that, Lorelai is tempted to believe it. But then again, her mom doesn’t know the whole story.

“I lied to you,” Lorelai says.

“What?” Emily says sharply. “You were never really engaged?”

“No, Mother, we were really engaged,” Lorelai sigh-groans. “Are. But ... I lied about June 3rd.”

“You just picked a random date to appease your overbearing mother,” Emily surmises, her tone going flat.

“No,” Lorelai says, “I planned a wedding for June 3rd. I had the church, and the invitations, and—” She pauses, swallows. “And the dress. We were good to go. But then Luke found out about April, and it was all a lot for him, and so he asked if maybe we could push the wedding back.”

“To when?” Emily asks severely.

“The question of the century, ladies and gentlemen,” Lorelai grumbles.

“Ah,” Emily says.

Lorelai waits for something. Anything. A sensitive remark about Lorelai’s pathological inability to get a man to commit. A thoughtful you-can-never-trust-a-man-who-touches-hamburgers-for-a-living crack.

But Emily just watches her, waiting.

It’s so unsettling that Lorelai finally starts talking just to fill the silence.

“So I decided I was going to be cool with it, you know?” she says lightly. “He’s going through this big thing in his life – this big, unbelievable thing – and he didn’t really want me to be part of it, and that’s fine. That’s okay. If he doesn’t want me to see his daughter, he doesn’t want me to see his daughter. It’s not like she’s my daughter. It doesn’t really matter, right?”

“That’s ludicrous,” Emily says. “You and Luke are all but family, which means that this girl is part of your family too. Why wouldn’t you see her on a regular basis?”

“That’s the thing; I don’t know. He wouldn’t tell me why. Just that he wanted to get the situation sorted out first, and if I could just wait, then someday, maybe—” Her eyes sting. Time for a topic change. “And then we were out shopping for a birthday present for her, and he wanted to buy her this terrible toiletry set covered in pictures of kittens.”

“Dear lord,” Emily says, aghast.

“Exactly,” says Lorelai. “So I offered to help him pick out something that a thirteen year old girl on this planet would actually want. And he just—he just snapped at me. And he went into this whole big thing about how if April meets me, she won’t like him anymore. I’ll always be the favorite and he won’t stand a chance. I mean, what the hell is that?”

To her surprise, Emily doesn’t immediately jump on the What The Hell is Up With Luke? train.

“Hmm,” is all she says.

Hmm?” Lorelai repeats doubtfully.

“I suppose I can see where he was coming from.”

“What?” Lorelai says.

“What?”

“Oh, nothing. It’s just that you saying that you can see where Luke is coming from – I’m pretty sure that’s one of the signs of the apocalypse. It’s four horsemen and locusts and you empathizing with Luke.”

Emily sighs, impatient. “You’re very good with children, Lorelai. They adore you. You don’t know what it’s like to be a person who doesn’t have such natural insight into their hyperactive little brains.”

“Uh, thanks?” Lorelai says.

“So Luke was concerned that his daughter would prefer you to him. What then?”

Lorelai sighs, takes a second to channel her inner Tolkien, and carries on with the neverending saga. “Then he threw her the most terrible birthday party in the world, and he panicked, and he called me and asked for my help. And we actually turned it into a pretty good shindig, and so I suggested hey, let’s make this a sleepover. And, because we didn’t want to lure the attention of the fine folks on To Catch a Predator, I stayed with the girls upstairs and Luke slept downstairs. But I guess April’s mom found out that the girls were being chaperoned by a stranger all night, and she freaked.”

“Freaked? Freaked how?”

“She said that it was totally unacceptable that Luke had left them with some random woman. And I thought, you know, okay, I get it. Stranger danger, a valid concern, but really not an issue with me. It’s not like Luke just picked up some floozy off the street corner and said, ‘Hey, babe, watch these kids for me.’ And not just because Stars Hollow’s street corners are one hundred percent floozy-free; even if there was a floozy on every corner, Luke still is so not the kind of guy to succumb to the charms of the random corner floozy—”

“Lorelai, for the love of God, stop saying ‘floozy’ and tell me what happened.”

Lorelai takes a breath. “So I went to see Anna at her store, to explain the whole thing, and ...”

Even just mentioning it makes her feel sick.

“Yes?” Emily prompts.

“I told her that I could be trusted,” Lorelai says, careful to keep her voice level. “That I was marrying Luke, that I wasn’t just some random girlfriend. And she said – and she said that that was nice and everything, but engaged wasn’t married, and I could be out of Luke’s life tomorrow.” She swallows the lump in her throat. “And she’s right. I could. It’s not like I’m really in his life anymore anyway. Not since April showed up. And I guess when she said that ...” Lorelai breathes in and out. Might as well get used to saying it. “I guess I just knew that we weren’t going to ... that we aren’t going to ... that it’s over. It’s fine. Can we go?”

She stands up, slinging her purse over her shoulder, and makes it approximately half a step before her mother grabs her arm.

For someone apparently hanging out at death’s door, Emily’s rocking a seriously Terminator level grip.

“No, we cannot go,” Emily says. “Not until we’ve talked about this.”

“What is there to talk about? I feel like I’ve made it pretty clear. Me, Luke, no wedding, over, the end.”

“What are you talking about? That Neanderthal dotes on you. He has for years. There were times I was tempted to recommend a restraining order, but you seemed to like him lurking around at all hours, so I held my tongue.”

“That was a long time ago, Mom.”

“I couldn’t even break the two of you up for good,” Emily goes on. “And it’s only very rarely that I don’t accomplish what I set my mind to, Lorelai.”

“Uh, yeah, I really, really know that.”

“So I don’t see why you think your only option is to just give up on your future together,” Emily finishes, waving a frustrated hand. “Especially after we announced the engagement in the paper.”

Lorelai’s stomach sinks.

“Right,” she says. “Suddenly all this concern is making a lot of sense.”

Emily groans. “Oh, don’t you start—”

“No, Mom, really, I’m sorry. I didn’t think! I wouldn’t want losing the love of my life to put you and Dad in an uncomfortable position. Think of what the people at the club would say! If I had pearls on, I’d be clutching them.”

“I’m concerned about you, Lorelai,” Emily insists. “I know how you get. When something gets too serious, you run.”

“Yeah, well, I’m not the one running this time,” Lorelai says, and there’s her new best pal Lump In The Throat, back again. She stares at the floor. It’s some seriously ugly carpet.

“Then what did Luke say about Anna’s remarks?” Emily demands. “I imagine he must have been remarkably passive, to make you this upset. Strange. It doesn’t seem like him. The man hardly strikes me as an expert on considerate conduct, but he’s always been very attuned to your well being before. Remember when he spent hours at that terrible hospital with you after your father’s heart attack? And that was back when you wouldn’t even admit he was anything besides your coffee slave.”

Lorelai looks up. Even though she can’t see her mother’s eyes, she knows what lurks in them right now. Savage, hideous triumph.

“I didn’t tell him, all right?” Lorelai admits. “What’s the point? Me telling him won’t change anything. Believe me, Mom – Anna was not about to change her stance on me.”

She prepares herself for a barrage of lecturing. About what? Who knows. With her mother swearing her allegiance to Team Luke, nothing makes sense anymore. But the lecturing – that’s inevitable.

And then:

“Let’s go,” Emily says abruptly.

“What? Where?”

“To visit this Anna and sort things out.”

“Oh, Mom,” Lorelai says, horror oozing through her. “No. No way.”

“She’s leveled some very troubling accusations at you, and by extension this family,” Emily says firmly.

“And of course that means we have no choice but to meet her with the pistols at dawn,” Lorelai snarks. The kind of snarking that’s instinctive, primal, a desperate survival mechanism.

“Lorelai,” Emily says simply, “this is not a joke. This is your life. And if this woman has gotten the idea that you’re anything less than an exemplary mother, then she’s been very misinformed. I see nothing wrong with clearing up the miscommunication; do you?”

And it is a mark of how purely exhausted Lorelai is that she ignores all of the warning signs and the flashing lights and the DANGER, DANGER WILL ROBINSON! cacophony in her head.

“Okay,” she says weakly, shrugging.

Emily smiles. “Good.”