SUMMARY – Challenge submitted by Mevsnuggs27@aol.com
RATING - PG
CONTENT - Kissing (is that really a PG thing?) and a car crash (no bodily fluids; if there are any, yell at me)
PAIRING OR CHARACTER – Lorelai, Rory, Luke, Max, Emily, Rachel
DISCLAIMER – I don’t own the characters you recognize. If you don’t recognize any characters, they’re mine. Amy Sherman-Palladino owns all Gilmore Girls characters – though sometimes I wish they were mine.
Summary of challenge:
-Lorelai sees Max kissing another woman (not a motherly kiss, on the lips)
-Luke breaks up with Rachel and tells Lorelai how he feels
-Emily and Rory get in a car accident


The Cracked Window

by Sarah

It was Thursday afternoon when cheerful song on the radio ended, and Luke found himself looking up, and out at the rain. The coffee shop was nearly empty, and only a few patrons lingered, enjoying an early dinner. Myron Glasshauer, a 92-year-old man, sat enjoying a dinner of flapjacks and warm apples. His wife, 91-year-old Sylvie Glasshauer, sat across from him, enjoying her own flapjacks.

“Geez, I wish I found a love like theirs,” Luke thought to himself. That thought was immediately followed by, “Geez, I wonder where Lorelai is. She’s awfully late today.”

Thirty-two-year-old Lorelai Gilmore came bursting in from the outdoors, spreading raindrops and a gust of wind around the diner. Myron and Sylvie turned away from the doorway momentarily, then went back to eating their flapjacks. Lorelai carried a plastic shopping bag and her briefcase. “Coffee!” she announced to Luke.

“Coming right up.”

“Thank you,” Lorelai said with a grin. “I have you well-trained. You are now responsive to my needs.”

“You mean your only need,” Luke said.

“Leave me alone.”

“So where’s your Mini Me?” Luke asked, quoting from the second Austin Powers. He pushed a mug of coffee at Lorelai.

“You mean Rory, right?” Lorelai questioned, taking a long sip from the coffee mug. Of course, she hadn’t seen Austin Powers.

“My humor is utterly wasted on you.”

Rachel came breezing in before Lorelai could respond. Lorelai was struck by the perfect appearance she gave. There was no burst of raindrops or a gust of wind, just perfectly presented Rachel. “Hi, honey,” she said to Luke, giving him a quick peck on the cheek. “Hi, Lorelai.”

“Hi, Rachel,” Lorelai said, just able to keep the biting sarcasm from her lips. She had, however, noticed that Luke seemed to just brush off Rachel’s kiss, as though he didn’t care about it. And on a continuing trend, it had seemed to be happening more and more lately. It was though Luke was just giving up.

The door opened again, and Luke glanced up. “Sheesh, all we need now is the prophet Elijah,” he remarked sarcastically.

It was Rory – Lorelai Leigh Gilmore – a younger, petite version of her mother. With her damp hair and Chilton uniform, she slightly resembled a drowned rat carrying a backpack. “Coffee,” she announced to Luke, repeating the actions of her mother just moments before.

Luke nodded. “Coming right up!” he proclaimed in a loud, king-like tone that sent Rachel into a gale of laughter.

Lorelai tried to smile and couldn’t. She turned to Rory. “Chilton?”

“Good.”

“Coffee?”

Rory put the mug down and swallowed. “Very good. Two gold stars today, Luke.”

“That hasn’t happened in a while,” Rachel commented.

“May we order now?” Lorelai questioned, nearly interrupting the curly-headed photographer.

“Mom, be polite,” Rory chastised.

”I was, I said may.”

Rory kicked her and whispered, “You know what I meant.”

Lorelai kicked back with a fierce, “Yes, I do!”


*
It was the next evening. Rory was lying on her bed, A Killer for All Seasons open on her stomach, the girl herself fast asleep, dreaming of fairies and sugarplums. Lorelai was seated at the table, reading The Stars Hollow Tribune. The radio was playing next to her, tuned into a country station. Jessica Andrews was singing “Who I Am.” The leading front page articles of the paper were about Mike’s Garage having a suspicious overflow of broken cars this month and about the library having a broken window. No one was suspected in the broken window, but the police were investigating.

And you know you live in a small town when… Lorelai started a thought, but never got to finish it. The ringing phone interrupted her. Picking up the phone, she turned it on. “Hello?”

“Lorelai, it’s your mother.”

“Hi, Mom,” Lorelai said as cheerfully as she could muster.

“I need to speak with Rory.”

And, that, ladies and gentlemen, is Emily Gilmore, all talk, no sweetness. “She’s not awake, Mom.”

“Well, wake her up.”

“Gee, Mom, I would, but I highly value her sleep.”

Emily Gilmore sighed. “Lorelai, I have something very exciting to tell Rory.”

“The circus is in town?”

There was another sigh at the end of the line, and Lorelai could imagine her mother, seated on a small couch, talking into her enameled phone. “No, Lorelai.”

“Well, what? Why can’t you tell me?”

“Oh, fine, I’ll tell you if you must.” There was a pause, then Emily continued, “A young friend of ours, Michael Pelozowski, is in town, conducting the Hartford Community Orchestra in a Bach symphony. I would like to take Rory to see the performance on Saturday evening.”

“You know a conductor?”

“He is the son of one of your father’s business associates. Why do you ask?”

“It’s just kind of geeky.”

The doorbell rang before either Emily or Lorelai could say further, and Lorelai said, “Mom, I have to go get the door. I’ll tell Rory about your invitation; I’m sure she’ll be thrilled.”

“Thank you,” Emily replied crisply, then added, a little nicer, “Goodbye, Lorelai.”

“Bye, Mom.” Lorelai stood to answer the door.

And she was in for the shock of her lifetime. For there, on her neat white porch, was her good friend Luke, crying his eyes out.

“Sit, sit,” Lorelai ordered, leading Luke into the house.

Luke sat. Through his tears, he said, “What about Rory?”

“Asleep.”

“Oh.”

“What happened? You didn’t lose the diner, did you?” Lorelai asked in horror, thinking of her precious coffee.

Luke shook his head. “No, nothing like that.” He sniffled once, then wiped his nose on the back of his hand. Lorelai quietly looked away and said nothing. “It’s about Rachel.”

She looked at him for a minute. “You two broke up, didn’t you?”

He nodded.

“I thought so. Did you have a fight?”

Again a nod.

“Over what?”

“Life in general. She wants to go out to Thailand to do a set on some Buddhist monastery, and then to some Midwestern town to do a story about conjoined twins, but I can’t imagine leaving Stars Hollow. And she said that I’m stupid for not wanting to take risks, to live a little.” With that, Luke began to cry again.

“Luke, don’t cry,” Lorelai said feelingly, sitting down next to him.

He sniffled once more and stopped crying, then listened for a moment to the music. “Who is that? It was on the radio today at the diner.”

“Jessica Andrews.”

“Ah.”

Lorelai turned to face him, trying to figure out what to say. “Okay, it’s kind of like me and Rory. Rory and I are very different. I’m loud, she’s quiet. I’m active, she’s more the sit-and-study type. But we love each other anyway. We kind of have to, we’re mother and daughter, but anyway… You and Rachel have very different opinions on life, but you love each other, right?”

A nod.

“So if you love each other, you should make some sacrifices for each other, right?”

Another nod, slower this time.

“So why doesn’t Rachel go do her Buddhist thing and then come back to you? It’s called a long-distance relationship. It’s not like you’re afraid of her meeting a hot guy in a monastery, are you?”

Luke chuckled softly. “No, I guess not.” He shrugged. “I just feel so badly about breaking up with her.”

“So get back together with her,” Lorelai said, speaking the truth. “I mean it. You and I both know I can’t stand Rachel, but you love her.”

He stood. “You get free coffee.”

“Thank you.”

At the door, he turned. “How long?”

“Fifteen minutes. I have to wake Rory up.”


*
Rory walked slowly behind her mother, hugging her coat around her. A few minutes earlier, she had been peacefully asleep in her warm bed, a thick book open on her stomach. Now she was following her mother down to Luke’s Diner, wishing she was back in bed.

A few people had gathered at the town gazebo to watch the community bell choir perform. A set of twins chased each other around the benches while the choir performed “Jesus Loves Me” for their audience. Miss Patty led her ballet class in a round of arabesques and pirouettes. Policemen patrolled near the library, watching out for the broken window culprit. Rory couldn’t help but think how nice it all was.

She ran smack into Lorelai; she hadn’t seen her mother stop. “What’s wrong?”

Lorelai couldn’t say anything, she just pointed.

Rory followed the finger. “Mr. Medina?”

Lorelai nodded. “And –“

She couldn’t finish the sentence, she didn’t know who the blond was with Max. That, and her voice had choked. All she knew for sure was that they really liked each other. That was, of course, judging from the kiss they were giving each other.

There came a hand on her shoulder. “Mom, are you okay?”

Rory.

“Yeah, I’m fine!” Lorelai said brightly. “Sure. Let’s get coffee.”

The look on her face betrayed her voice, however. She did mind. Whoever that woman was, she and Max obviously liked each other. She couldn’t understand it. After all she had done – nearly costing Max his job just to be with him – how could he be that cruel?

“Mom?” Rory said again. Lorelai’s eyes were still locked on Mr. Medina and the bodacious blond. “Mom, let’s get some coffee,” Rory said, steering her mother into the diner.

Lorelai and Rory found seats at the counter. Luke smiled appreciatively at Lorelai, then looked surprised when she didn’t return the smile. “Oh, no,” he said. “Man troubles?”

Rory nodded. “Can we just have some coffee, please?”

“With Max?”

Rory repeated the nod. “Coffee. Now.”

Luke poured coffee, then went to peer out the diner window. “For Pete’s sake!” he exclaimed in a gee-whiz kind of tone. ”That’s Stephanie Gershwin!”

“Who?” Rory asked. Lorelai had spaced out, she was busy reading Luke’s menu.

“Oh, you’ve never met her, she used to live in town. She went into business in Hartford a few years ago, selling cameras and whatnot. Rachel gets some of her stuff from there.” Luke whistled. “You can’t ask for a stranger romance. It’s like… well… like Rachel and me.”

Rachel came out from the kitchen. “Luke, your cook says there’s a problem.”

“Paul? But there’s never a problem with Paul.”

“Well, there is one.” Rachel paused. “Honey,” she added with a small smile.

Luke and Rachel went off together to take care of the problem, and Rory turned her attention back to Lorelai. “Mom, are you sure you’re all right?”

Lorelai turned to face her daughter, tears in her eyes. “What do you think?” she said slowly.

And that finished further discussion.


*
Rain fell on the town of Stars Hollow the next day, Friday. Kneeling on her bed in the period before dawn, Rory could see outside, the drops splashing into the puddles by the thousands. Outside, Babette Dell waited patiently for Apricot to finish her business, daintily holding an umbrella for the little kitten. Down the road, Monty the rooster held his post, sturdy and strong, like all large rooster statues should.

There was no sound from upstairs as Rory prepared a bowl of cereal, ate it, and looked over her notes for a test in biology. She rinsed her bowl, brushed her teeth, and grabbed her Chilton blazer. “Mom, I’m going to be late!”

There was still no sound. Cautiously, Rory climbed the stairs and stood in front of her mother’s closed door. “Mom, come on!”

The door opened and Lorelai stood there. She was fully dressed. The expression on her face did not convey joy to the outside world, however. “Let’s. Go.”

Rory ran to the bus. She was soaking wet by the time she got there, and Tom, the bus driver, waited two minutes before he opened the door for her. But there was one good piece of news, anyway. Lorelai had told her she was going to a concert with her grandmother. Truth be told, it wasn’t a Bangles concert. It was a long, boring, Bach concert conducted by Michael Pelozowski, a friend of her grandparents. But Rory could be a connoisseur of fine music just as well as she could enjoy listening to the soundtrack of Oklahoma with Lane. Not that Lane liked the soundtrack of Oklahoma; it had actually been Lorelai’s choice.

Lorelai sat there and watched the Connecticut Transit bus pull away from the curb with its diesel engine sounds. Various questions ran through her mind, all of them crazy and none of them having an answer. Who was that woman with Max? Why does Max care about her and not me? What were they doing together?

The last two questions had an answer, just not a good one. Max cared about the other woman because he was forbidden to date Lorelai. Chilton had a strict policy about things like that. And, obviously, they were kissing together. Duh. Wake up, Lorelai.

Luke’s was crowded, but there was a spot at the counter for Lorelai. Luke pushed a mug of coffee at her before she could say anything. “Why, thank you, burger boy.”

He didn’t respond with his usual verbal comeback. Instead, he said, “Siete tutto il di destra?”

“Excuse me?” Lorelai asked, nearly spitting out her coffee. “Is that Italian?”

“The language of love itself,” Luke answered happily. “Rachel is taking an Italian class at the community center.”

“Lord, Luke, not now.”

“Sorry.” He turned away to serve another customer a muffin, then came back to Lorelai. “So are you all right?”

“Oh, is that what you said in the language of love?” Lorelai asked sarcastically.

“I’m sorry if Italian offends you,” Luke answered. “I’ll quit.”

“Thank you!” Lorelai replied sharply, then went back to her coffee. It was going to be a long day.


*
The day passed in a slow, dreary blur. Rory sat near the back of the room in Health that day, not really caring to learn about the human digestive system. Out of the corner of her eye, she watched Madeline and Louise pass notes back forth right under Mr. Haddis’ eyes. Mr. Haddis favored the popular, stupid, ditzy type, so Madeline and Louise were on his top ten. Paris and Rory, however, were not.

“Miss Gilmore!” Mr. Haddis called out sharply. “Pop question. Who was the composer who wrote The Nutcracker?”

“What does that have to do with Health?” someone behind Rory whispered.

“She should know if she’s paying attention,” Mr. Haddis said. “Well, Miss Gilmore?”

“Tchaikovsky,” Rory answered.

The look on Mr. Haddis’ face was fit to stuff a duck with. “Uh, very well done,” he said.

Rory hadn’t expected praise, but just thinking of the way Mr. Haddis looked like an oversized gorilla when he was beaten was good enough. The teacher turned back to the class and began to teach again. “So there the food is, traveling through our small intestine. Where does it go next?”

“We all know where the fat cells go,” Abby Chapman whispered to someone behind Rory.

True, Mr. Haddis was a bit pudgy, but Rory had never thought he was terribly fat.

“Into the large intestine,” Louise said proudly.

“Right!” Mr. Haddis praised her. “Good job, Louise!” He turned to the rest of the class. “Why can’t you all be as smart as Louise?”

No one answered, and he went back to lecturing on the large intestine. Rory’s mind wandered, as it was often apt to do in Health. She was pretty excited about the concert the next day, even if she wasn’t a big Bach fan. She definitely wasn’t a Tchaikovsky fan now.

The bell rang then, and Mr. Haddis belted out the homework assignment: “Read pages 117 to 130!”

Rory headed with her fellow classmates out into the hallway, and the Tchaikovsky incident was forgotten.


*
“You look lovely, dear,” Emily Gilmore cooed.

It was Saturday evening, and Emily and Richard were preparing to go to the symphony. The only thing missing was Rory, who was ten minutes and thirteen seconds late. Richard accepted the compliment and straightened his bow tie, grumbling, “I don’t understand why I have to go!”

“Because we have three tickets, dear, and Michael is your friend as well.”

“Emily, there is a very important meeting tomorrow at the office that I am not fully prepared for.”

“Richard, if you were any less than one hundred percent prepared, the whole world would just come crashing down, right?” Emily questioned, straightening her powder blue dress.

Richard made a face. “Emily, I can’t go. We are trying to accept an international deal from Beijing tomorrow, and if William and I aren’t properly prepared, everything will fall through the cracks.”

Emily sighed. “Fine, Richard, stay here. I’m sure Rory and I will have a perfectly lovely time.”

Richard also sighed, with relief. “Oh, and make sure you drive safely.”

“Drive safely?” Emily repeated. “Well, where is Charles tonight? I thought you said you hired him to take us to the symphony.”

“He wasn’t available,” Richard replied. “And there were no other substitute drivers available. Come now, Emily, don’t look so crestfallen. You can drive perfectly well. You drive all the time.”

“That is not the proper way to arrive at the symphony… driving yourself! Heavens, Richard!”

Richard shrugged. “Then have Rory drive.”

Emily threw up her hands in exasperation. She was about to say something when the doorbell rang. Emily composed herself and said calmly, “That must be Rory. I’ll get the door. Go prepare for your meeting.”

“Have a lovely evening,” Richard said, just as calmly.

Emily kissed him good-bye and went to the door. Rory was standing on the front porch, shivering and wrapped in her thick coat. “Why, Rory, is it that cold out?”

Teeth chattering, Rory answered, “Yes. And raining.”

Emily peered out from the porch. “Heavens to Betsy, it is!” Then she noticed her dripping granddaughter, shivering. “Why, come in! We’ll warm you right up.”

A few minutes later, Rory’s coat was dried and the two ladies were on their way to the symphony. Emily was telling Rory all about Michael Pelozowski. “He is a fine young man, a few years older than you, though. Went to college and works as an accountant on the side. And he’s a wonderful conductor – such a smart boy.”

“Ah,” Rory said, though she wasn’t very interested in her grandmother’s story.

Emily put her foot down on the brake to stop at the stop sign, and the sedan skidded forward a few feet. “Well, it’s certainly slippery out here,” she said, trying to remain calm.

“It certainly is,” Rory agreed.

A few moments later, the same thing happened at another stop sign.

“This is kind of like Stars on Ice without the costumes,” Rory commented. She thought about that for a moment. “And, well, the ice skates… and the stars…”

“I get the analogy,” Emily informed her.

They continued on down the highway, heading towards the Bailey Auditorium for the concert. “Are we going the right way?” Emily asked.

Rory peered out of the windows into the rapidly falling rain and sleet. “It looks like it. If you just go around that curve there, we should be right near the auditorium.”

“All right. I hope you’re right; I don’t want to be late.”

“Me neither,” Rory replied.

The car turned around the curve just as a truck came around from the other way. There was the sound of a horn, loud and clear in Rory’s ears, lights flashing everywhere, and then the silence fell.


*
It was nearly eleven-thirty, and Lorelai was getting worried. No one had called, and Rory had yet to show up. Taking out her phone for one last time, she dialed her parents’ number. A sleepy-sounding male voice answered. “Hello?”

“Dad? Where are Mom and Rory?”

“They’re not home yet? I assumed they’d stop by your place first.”

“No, they’re not here,” Lorelai said, a knot of discomfort working its way into her stomach.

“All right, they should be home soon,” Richard continued. “Call me if you hear anything.”

“Okay, I will, Dad,” Lorelai answered. She hung up, holding her finger on the button for just a moment.

Two seconds later, the phone rang. “Hello?”

“Lorelai.”

It was Emily’s voice.

“Mom?” Lorelai asked in panic. “What’s wrong?”

“There’s been an accident.”

*
Thirty-five minutes later, Lorelai came running into the emergency room of a Hartford hospital. Emily sat on a chair, holding an ice pack to her head. Lorelai went quickly over to her and sat down beside her. “Where’s Rory? What’s wrong? What happened?”

“There was an accident,” Emily said slowly. “We were on our way to the symphony, and it was raining and slippery. Rory said we should go around the curve in the road to get to the auditorium, so I went around. We met a truck head on.”

“Oh, dear sweet Lord,” Lorelai murmured. “Is Rory….”

“She’s alive,” Emily replied.

“Yes, she is,” another voice broke in.

A police officer had come up to the women. “I’m Officer Dunkirk, ma’am. I was called to the scene after the crash. A man named Ben Reilly hit their car in a stolen truck. Ben has been flown to South Side Hospital at his family’s wishes. Their car spun around, then the truck crashed into the side where your daughter was riding. She is your daughter, right?”

Lorelai nodded, nearly in tears. “Can I see her?” she asked in a whisper.

“Not right now, Lorelai,” Emily said, patting her daughter’s arm. “They’re running tests and trying to stabilize the poor girl, give her a minute.”

Officer Dunkirk nodded, apparently sharing Emily’s observation. “We’ll let you know when you can see her.”

Lorelai leaned back against the wall and tried to sleep.

She awoke an hour later to Emily shaking her. “Lorelai, wake up. They’re going to let us see Rory now.”

“What?” Lorelai asked, still half asleep.

“Rory. Your daughter. They’re going to let us see her.”

“Oh. Oh! Okay, let’s go,” Lorelai said, shaking off the rest of her sleep.

Rory was in the Intensive Care Unit. Nurses stepped in and out, checking on different patients. Officer Dunkirk was waiting for them. “There you are, Ms. Gilmore. And Mrs. Gilmore.”

“We’re here. Can we see her?” Lorelai asked.

Officer Dunkirk nodded. “But just for a few minutes.”

Emily took Lorelai by the arm and led her into the room. Beds surrounded by lots of machines held severely injured patients. Rory lay in one of those beds, her eyes closed and her breathing slow and rhythmic.

Lorelai nearly passed out. Emily grasped her firmly by the elbow. “Lorelai, get a hold of yourself.”

Lorelai took a deep breath and steadied herself. “Okay, I’m okay. You can let go now, Mom.”

The two women cautiously made their way over to the bed. Lorelai rubbed the back of her daughter’s hand slowly, as if she was afraid of waking the girl.

To her surprise, Rory opened her eyes and looked groggily around the room. “Mom?”

“Yeah?” Lorelai answered softly.

“Where are we?”

Lorelai nearly burst into tears. “You mean – you mean you don’t remember?”

“What happened? All I remember is Grandma saying we couldn’t be late to the symphony. Were we late?”

“We never made it, sweetheart,” Emily said. As if to compensate for her statement, she added heartily, “But that’s okay.”

Rory blinked slowly. “There was an accident, wasn’t there?”

Emily nodded.

“How’s the car?”

“Never you mind,” Emily replied. “It doesn’t matter. You’re what matters.”

“No, really. What happened to the car?”

“Well, it was pretty much totaled,” Emily said at last.

Officer Dunkirk stepped in. “Young lady, I want to ask you some questions about the accident. What do you remember?”

“Come, Lorelai,” Emily said quietly as Officer Dunkirk began a reenactment of the Spanish Inquisition. “Let’s give them some time.”

Lorelai smiled as she left. Although it was a small smile, she was silently praising heaven above for keeping her beloved daughter safe.


*
Everyone in Stars Hollow had heard about the accident by the next day. Sookie brought over cookies. Luke stopped by and swore up and down that he would make Rory chocolate cake for the next time she came to the diner. Even Michel and Miss Patty stopped by – separately, of course – to bring flowers (Michel) and jelly beans (Miss Patty).

Dr. Evans, Rory’s doctor, didn’t seem too concerned about the girl, and said that she could go home in a few days. But she couldn’t go back to school for another couple weeks, until her broken leg healed, her broken ribs were better, and they had done some more scans to make sure her brain wasn’t hurt in the accident. And, of course, until Rory was strong enough to stand again.

But to Lorelai, Rory’s brain seemed fine. Rory was begging her to stop by Chilton and pick up her school books. “Are you sure you don’t mind being alone for a while?”

“I will treasure the silence,” Rory responded with a grin.

She had been moved out of the ICU a day ago and was now in another room, sharing with an appendicitis patient. Rory was still connected to machines that beeped and whirred, though, and some that dripped strange things into her hands. Things had been kind of loud in the room, though – the appendicitis patient had a deaf grandfather who kept coming to see her, and the woman kept shouting at the poor man.

“All right. Be here when I get back,” Lorelai ordered.

“Where would I go?” Rory replied with a grin.

Lorelai smiled and gave her daughter a kiss. As she turned to leave, she turned back. “Keep smiling.”

“Excuse me?”

“You heard me,” Lorelai responded. “Keep smiling. Laughter and smiles are the best medicine. Forget all this doctor stuff.”

Rory grinned again. Lorelai nodded and smiled back. “Good job.”


*
Chilton on a Monday afternoon was quiet and deserted. As Lorelai strolled leisurely down the halls, she peered into classrooms, imagining what it would be like to go to school at Chilton. Chilton was certainly an interesting school. Where else could you wear blue plaid and still fit in?

Lorelai approached Rory’s locker and took out the piece of hospital stationary she’d written the combination on. “Seven, turn left to five, right to twenty-five, left to twelve, right to nineteen, and pull.” With an audible click, the door opened and Lorelai grinned. “Hey, that was pretty cool.”

“Excuse me?”

It was a male voice, coming from one of the classrooms. As Lorelai watched, Mr. Medina came out into the hallway. “Oh, Lorelai,” he said, a trifle embarrassed. “What are you doing here?”

“I’m getting Rory’s books,” Lorelai answered.

“Is she leaving?” Mr. Medina asked.

“No,” was Lorelai’s response. Then she figured he’d like to know a little more, and continued, “Rory and her grandmother were in a car accident. Rory won’t be coming to school for a couple weeks.”

“I’m so sorry,” Mr. Medina said.

”Yeah, me, too,” Lorelai replied. She turned her attention to the locker.

“I’ll have the teachers write up the homework assignments for the next weeks,” Mr. Medina said. “I can send them over with Michelle; she lives over by Stars Hollow.”

“That would be nice.”

“Lorelai, is something wrong?” Mr. Medina questioned.

“Oh, no, not at all.”

He persisted, “Yes, there is. What is it?”

“Does the name Stephanie Gershwin ring a bell?”

He clapped a hand to his forehead. “Oh.” Not having much else to say, he repeated, “Oh.”

“Is that all you can say?” Lorelai asked.

“No.” Mr. Medina paused, then said, “I’m sorry.”

“Yeah, me too,” Lorelai repeated. She finished gathering the books and began to head off down the hallway.

“Lorelai, wait!” Mr. Medina called after her. She stopped but didn’t turn back to look at him. “I’m sorry. Stephanie and I were friends in high school. We were in Stars Hollow for a cup of coffee. We sat down on a bench near the gazebo and were just talking. She kissed me. I didn’t have time to say anything.”

She turned around. “Are you sure?”

He nodded. “Positive.”

She gave him a small smile. “Well, then I suppose I’ll forgive you this time. Bye.”

And as Lorelai walked off, Max Medina stood there and watched her go.

*
“Did you get all of them?” was Rory’s first question. Her second was, “Did you see Mr. Medina?”

“Yes,” Lorelai replied. “And yes.” She handed the yellow backpack to her daughter, who took it and began to pull out textbooks at random. “He said Stephanie was just an old friend from high school.”

“Ah.” Rory grinned again.

”What’s so funny?” Lorelai questioned. “You keep grinning like the Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland.”

Rory passed over the latest edition of The Stars Hollow Tribune; Sookie had brought it with her. “Read the front page article.”

Lorelai sat down in an uncomfortable chair and began to read aloud: “’Window Cracker Caught At Last! Last night, Chief Andrew Wilkins of the Stars Hollow Police Department caught Myron Glasshauer, 92, in the act of cracking all the windows at the Stars Hollow Public Library. His motive? “Books are evil, the work of the devil!” claims Glasshauer. Glasshauer’s wife, Sylvie, denied comment.’ Well, isn’t that a scream? A ninety-two-year-old man!”

Rory grinned again, and began to giggle, then quickly stopped. “Ow!”

Lorelai grinned and laughed aloud. “I guess you can never tell with those old types,” she said.

“Read more of the paper,” Rory suggested.

“All right,” Lorelai replied with a fake sigh. “If I must.”

It was a Monday afternoon as Lorelai picked up the paper, and mother and daughter found themselves sharing a very pleasant afternoon.

end

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