Rating: G
Characters: Lorelai, Rory, Emily, Luke, Sookie, Michel
Summary: The Inn braces for a big event, and Lorelai and Rory's road trip gets a few unexpected additions.
Disclaimer: Not mine

Road Trip

by Megan Reilly


Prologue

Rory was buried deep in the book she was reading. Not schoolwork - that
had been finished hours ago, leaving her free on a sunny weekend
afternoon to sit on the porch and read a book so thick and heavy she had
to rest it against the porch railing.

A glass of iced tea slid toward her and she looked up, distracted and
wide-eyed. Then she smiled. "Thanks, Mom."

"Thought you could use some refreshment," Lorelai said, taking a deep
breath. "Spring."

"Almost."

"You should go outside and play."

Rory just looked at her.

"Fine, maybe I should go outside and play," Lorelai remarked, but she
didn't move. A moment later, something fell out of the tree just beyond
the porch. At first she thought it was a leaf knocked loose by the wind,
but she and Rory saw at the same time that it was a small bird, which
righted itself and stood on the ground, flapping its wings like it
didn't know how to use them.

Rory just looked at Lorelai. She wanted to rush over and help it, but
she knew if she touched it, the other birds would shun it because it
smelled human.

"How can they do that?" Rory asked, watching the bird with compassion.
"Just throw their own child out of the nest without instructions and
expect it to be able to fly."

"They're birds," Lorelai answered, but they were both watching and
rallying for the baby bird. "There comes a time when you have to strike
out on your own. See what you can do for yourself. And if you fall, you
fall, but if you fly..." She smiled. Flying was good.

After a moment, the bird got it figured out. Its wings moved and
suddenly began to pick up air. It was flying.

Rory watched it until it swooped out of view, then went back to her
book. Lorelai remained on the porch, a smile still on her face,
listening to the birds above chirp. It was spring.

_ _ _

Part 1


The lobby of the inn looked as though it had been invaded. There was no
room for the guests to even try to walk, which they probably wouldn't
have anyway. It was far too frightening. The harpist was playing "Battle
Hymn of the Republic." Lorelai was afraid Michel was going to jump up
and start singing the Marsellaise like in "Casablanca."

Military uniforms were thrown everywhere, over chairs and on tables and,
oh, heavens, there was one on the chandelier. Not to mention the troop
of GI Joes marching across the floor, some of them flopped over in the
heat of battle. And boxes. Boxes were everywhere.

Rory walked into the inn and went straight to her mother as though she
was used to the chaos. "Hi, Mom. What's up?"

"Nothing a nuclear bomb couldn't fix," Lorelai responded brightly. "How
was school?"

"Mom, it's nine o'clock. No kilt. Obviously, there was no school."

"What are they thinking, cancelling school without telling me," Lorelai
said. "Shouldn't you be out getting into trouble?"

"Probably. Maybe later," Rory replied. "Looks like you could use some
help here. What's going on, anyway?"

"The reunion of the original WWI flyers."

"Looks like they're going all-out." Rory took a seat on the floor and
tried to make the fallen GI Joes stand back up. They continued to flop
over dead.

"All out doesn't even begin to describe the degree of psychotic detail
involved in this event." Lorelai sighed, wondering why she'd agreed to
do this in the first place. Then she remembered: old guys with lots of
grandchildren who would take up lots of rooms in the inn, bringing in
lots of profit.

"I know what you need," Rory said.

"My special order extravaganza centerpiece authentic WWI biplane to
arrive by FedEx this morning?"

"Better than that."

"Better than that?" Lorelai asked. "You mean like having my very
favorite daughter here offering to get me a cup of coffee from the
kitchen?"

"Exactly like that," Rory responded, getting up from the graveyard of
fallen GI Joes and heading toward the kitchen. She paused when she saw a
pair of legs sticking out from behind the inn's main counter. She leaned
over until she could see Michel, sitting underneath, the telephone
clutched in his hand. "What're you doing down there?"

"I am inspecting the dust bunnies, what does it look like?" Michel
asked, picking himself up and dusting microscopic dust particles from
the pants of his suit. He stood behind the counter and surveyed the
mess.

"You forgot the telephone," Rory pointed out and pushed open the door to
the kitchen as Michel dived back under the counter, into his comfy
hiding place to retrieve the telephone. It began to ring as he set it on
the counter, watching another group of strapping young men in brown
shorts carried in another impossible amount of boxes.

"No, no, you've got it all wrong," Lorelai told them. "The bombs need to
go in the big conference room." One of the UPS men started off in that
direction. The next one walked up for her approval. She looked inside
the box. "Bandages and medical supplies go in the grand ballroom." The
UPS man continued to stand there. "Follow him," she suggested, and he
started after the first UPS man. "Whoever came up with the idea for
those brown shorts should be a saint."

"And whoever thought up the idea for this party should be shot at
sunset," Michel added, standing next to her, holding the cordless
telephone. "It's for you."

"Why do I have the feeling this is not going to be good news?" Lorelai
asked, taking the phone. "Oh, because you're smiling."

"I am not," Michel informed her. "I am wincing because I am standing on
the little man with the gun."

"Hey, leave GI Joe alone!" Lorelai protested, turning her attention to
the telephone. "This is Lorelai Gilmore," she said, picking up the poor
doll now crippled by Michel's expensive loafer.

_ _ _
in the kitchen

"Hi Sookie," Rory said, walking over to the coffee pot.

"Mmm! Try this!" Sookie said, ambushing Rory with an outthrust wooden
spoon. Rory replaced the coffee pot without spilling and turned to
accept the nibble.

"It's good," Rory said, thinking a moment. "What is it?"

"Mustard sauce," Sookie said. "For the party tonight. I was thinking,
mustard gas...mustard sauce."

"Good call," Rory agreed. At that moment, Sookie took a misstep and
stumbled forward, trying to save herself from falling by throwing her
weight backward, where she flailed her arms into the pots and pans
hanging from the ceiling. She was going to go down, but Rory acted
quickly, grabbing the cook's hand to try to steady her. After a second,
the ringing of the pans stopped as they ceased their disturbed swinging.

"Close one," Sookie said to Rory, who smiled at her, calmly picking up
the cup of coffee she'd poured for her mother and going back into the
lobby.

Lorelai was sitting in a chair, telephone in her hand, staring blankly.
Rory walked over to her and put the coffee in her hand, frowning as she
watched her mother drain the cup and hand it back to her without a
word. Rory pulled up a chair. "What happened?"

Lorelai turned to look at her. "It's not coming."

"What's not coming? The WWI flyers? They're going to miss their own
party?"

Lorelai shook her head. "The plane centerpiece thingy. It didn't make
FedEx. It's not going to be here."

"The plane centerpiece thingy was important?" Rory guessed.

Lorelai nodded sadly. "They weren't sold on the inn or its charms or
anything, but then when I mentioned we could have a theme and
decorations they started to come around and then when I suggested the
plane centerpiece thingy, they started to smile and talked about their
grandchildren and how proud they were to have served this country...it
was the plane centerpiece thingy that made them decide on us. They're
going to be so disappointed. And do you know what it's going to be like
to see their wrinkled papery little faces when they're disappointed
because there's no plane centerpiece thingy? It's going to be terrible.
I might cry. Michel might cry."

"That would be terrible," Rory commiserated.

"I will not cry," Michel interjected.

"Come on, you said you wanted to take the plane centerpiece thingy home,
that it would look nice in your living room."

"Michel has a living room?" Rory asked.

"We have a living room," Lorelai told her.

"I just never thought of Michel as having a living room before," Rory
noted. She looked at her mother. "Maybe you need some more coffee."

"All the coffee in the Starbucks factory won't help," Lorelai said and
Rory just looked at her. There was no problem that couldn't be solved by
caffeine, as far as Lorelai was concerned.

"Where's it coming from?" Rory asked. "Maybe we could go get it."

"They're in Washington DC, baby," Lorelai said. "There's no way we could
drive down there and back in time."

"Why not? You said you needed it. We could do what FedEx couldn't," Rory
said.

"Wow, that has the ring of the impossible about it," Lorelai pointed
out. "I'm going to get some more coffee." She took the cup from Rory's
hand, exchanging it for the car keys. "You go put some gas in the car
and pick up some road trip food and we'll be on our way."

"What about all this?" Michel asked, sneering toward the uniforms, the
bombs, and the GI Joes.

"You should have no trouble setting things up," Lorelai told him.
"Sookie can help."

"That woman is a walking time bomb," Michel said darkly.

"Then it's all settled," Lorelai said, pushing her way into the kitchen.

_ _ _

Rory walked into the cafe. "Hi, Luke," she said.

He looked her over. "Did you know the dye used to create the color red
contains environmental contaminants that seep into the groundwater and
kill worms we need to aerate the soil?" he asked.

"Nope, didn't know that," Rory replied, pulling down the sleeves of the
red sweater she was wearing. "Can I get two cups of coffee and a stash
of sandwiches to go?"

"How many sandwiches are in a stash, again?" Luke inquired.

Rory shrugged. "Five or six?"

"Five or six," Luke grumbled. "You feeding an army or something?"

"Something," Rory replied, playing with the sugar packets on the counter
until Luke returned with a brown paper bag and two tall cups of coffee.
"Mom and I are going to DC to pick up a centerpiece thing."

"When are you going?" Luke asked.

"Today," Rory replied. "Why? You gonna miss us? We'll be back in time
for ice cream tonight."

"No, I could really use a ride into DC," Luke replied.

"Why?" Rory asked.

"Because cars caused the death of the ozone layer and enslave us to
countries that control oil and would like to see us dead," Luke told
her. Rory just looked at him. "My truck died a final and lingering
death." She nodded, this time understanding.

"No, why DC?" Rory asked.

"I need to get some dishes."

"K-Mart has dishes."

"These are special dishes," Luke told her.

"I'm sure Mom wouldn't mind if you came with us," Rory said, glancing
around.

"Good," said Luke, pulling off the apron he was wearing to protect his
grungy jeans and flannel shirt. He took the key out of the cash register
and slipped it into his pocket, following Rory out of the cafe, where he
flipped the sign to "CLOSED" and locked the door behind them.

"You're closing? But you never close," Rory said.

"Joy of being a small-business owner. Make your own hours," Luke told
her gruffly.

"But then where will the mayor and the police chief get their grilled
cheese sandwiches for lunch?" Rory asked.

"Cholesterol. Better for 'em if they don't eat that stuff anyway."

"We're talking about bachelors, Luke. They'll starve if they don't have
a place to get a meal."

"I'm a bachelor," Luke pointed out. Rory raised her eyebrows. "All
right, kid, you win." He twisted the key back in the lock and flipped
the sign back to "Open." Then he pulled the door closed and started down
the street.

"You're just going to leave it?"

"Miss Patty'll keep an eye on things, won't you?" Luke said as they
passed the dance teacher who was standing in the doorway to her studio
puffing on a cigarette.

"Miss Patty keeps an eye on everything," the woman told him. Luke shot
Rory an "I told you so" look and they continued walking.

_ _ _

Lorelai was on the phone behind the counter of the inn, watching as
Michel organized military uniforms by size, checking them off the
invoice with a flourish. "It's an emergency --"

"Just as it was an emergency when you came to us for the loan for Rory's
schooling," Emily Gilmore told her daughter. "I don't see what's so
urgent that you have to postpone --"

"I didn't say I was going to postpone it, just that we might be a little
late, is all."

"Oh, I'll be sure to tell the cook that you'll arrive 'a little late.'
Any idea where that falls on the clock?" Emily asked.

Lorelai contemplated the ends of her hair, wondering how they would
taste. Her coffee cup was empty. Her mother didn't even have to work to
make her crazy. "I don't know," Lorelai said as calmly as she could.
"Rory and I are going to DC to pick something up, so if there's traffic
--"

"Washington DC?" Emily inquired.

"No, Mom, Springfield, DC." Lorelai said.

"That's hours from here."

"Which is why I called to let you know we might be late for dinner,"
Lorelai repeated.

"I'm coming with you," Emily declared.

"No, you're not."

"I've been meaning to go down there to pick up some paperwork for the
DAR, and the transmission on the Mercedes has been a bit slippy."

"Paperwork for the DAR?" Lorelai asked, wishing she'd heard wrong and
knowing she hadn't.

"Why yes, Lorelai, you know that your great-great-great grandfather was
a patriot of this country."

"There's a DAR branch in Hartford," Lorelai pointed out. "Oh, my god, I
can't believe I just said that. I can't believe I knew that. What is
wrong with me?"

"This is special paperwork."

"And they don't have a special envelope and a special stamp to send you
the special paperwork?" Lorelai inquired.

"I'll expect you in 30 minutes," Emily said and hung up.

"Yeah, well this better count as a dinner!" Lorelai yelled, but of
course she was yelling into a dial tone, but it made her feel better. At
least until she turned and saw the inn's part time employees who were
helping to organize the party were all staring at her. A moment later,
it didn't matter because her beautiful daughter was walking in with the
car keys in her hand and wonderful, wonderful coffee in her other hand.

"Luke, what are you doing here?" Lorelai asked.

"Observing the effects of overcaffeination in crazy women," he retorted.

"Mom, Luke's coming with us," Rory said.

"Luke can't come with us. Your grandmother's coming with us."

"Grandma's coming? Cool," Rory said.

"No, not cool. Not cool at all. My nice road trip day with my daughter
is turning into a living hell. Why do you need to go?" Lorelai demanded
of Luke.

"He needs dishes," Rory replied.

"Has the entire post office gone out of business?" Lorelai asked. "Will
I now be driving to a little post office box in Arizona to personally
deliver my credit card payment?"

"They're special dishes," Rory explained.

"Just like the special paperwork," Lorelai added. "You can't come with
us."

"Why not?" Luke demanded.

"Because my mother sent herself an engraved invitation, didn't you hear
me?" Lorelai asked.

"Jeep seats four," Luke said. "Carpooling. Good for the air and the
trees."

"Not to mention the oil cartels who want us dead," Rory added with a
special smile for Luke.

"What?" asked Lorelai, but Luke was smiling at Rory. "Okay, fine, we'll
go. We'll all go. Michel, you want to come? You could ride on the
handlebars."

"This is an Armani suit. It will go nowhere near any handlebars," Michel
told her.

"That's a relief," Lorelai said. "I will have my cell phone turned on if
you need anything. Like a personality transplant."

"Goodbye," Michel said in his snotty french accent that made it sound
like he was saying a very insulting, bad word.

"He's not really French," Luke snarked as he climbed into the back of
the Jeep.

"What do you know about it, Mr. Never Left Stars Hollow?" Lorelai sniped
back.

"Mom," Rory warned.

"Wait, do I need a passport for this trip?" Luke inquired.

"Yeah. You do. The special dishes passport," Lorelai informed him. "The
I hope my mother doesn't kill you passport." She turned her head to
address him as she pulled out into traffic. "The my mother thinks for
some strange reason that we're dating passport."

Luke frowned at that. "How about the look where you're going passport?"
he suggested as a car jammed on its brakes to avoid hitting them.

"That too," said Lorelai, pouting and giving in to looking as miserable
as she felt.

continue