disclaimer in part 1
Road Trip
by Megan Reilly
_ _ _

Part 2


"Rory, go get your grandmother. Try to convince her not to come. Pretend
I've got tuberculosis," Lorelai suggested, faking a cough.

Rory rolled her eyes and got out of the jeep, going up to the door of
her grandparents' house and ringing the doorbell. Lorelai watched her
go and then eyed Luke in the rearview mirror.

"What?" he demanded.

"Special dishes? Please."

"They're made without lead-based clay or paint. Handcrafted by men and
women on the welfare to work program. Do you know what happens to your
packages when you put them in the mail?"

"The nice man in the white truck takes them away?" Lorelai guessed.

"If you're lucky. But more often, it gets thrown in the bottom of some
bin where it gets stomped on and thrown into the snow."

"And even though they're magical dishes, they're still subject to
breakage."

"We're all subject to breakage, Lorelai," he told her.

She frowned and took a swig of her coffee, because there wasn't really a
comeback for that one. "You're a downer," she informed him.

"Thank you."

"You're welcome. I wonder what's taking so long."

"I'm pretty sure she hasn't been sold into white slavery."

"This is my mother we're talking about."

"You could go in and get her."

"Rory can take care of herself," Lorelai decided, eyeing the door
anxiously, wrapping both hands around her cup of coffee which was
dangerously approaching empty.

_ _ _

"Rory. How good of you to come. Where's Lorelai?" Emily asked.

"She's waiting in the car. Sorry we're late," Rory said. "There was
traffic."

"Isn't there always," Emily intoned. "But never mind, because it gave
me time to have this prepared for us." She stepped into the dining room
and reached for an enormous picnic basket on the table. "Help me with
this, Rory."

Rory moved to help her grandmother pick up the basket. "Sure is heavy,"
she said.

"We can't go without provisions," Emily told her. The two of them
managed to maneuver the basket to the door, where Emily picked up a
straw sunhat and a large pair of movie-star sunglasses. Rory just looked
at her. "You're never too young to start caring for your skin," Emily
informed her, plucking another hat from the hat rack. "Here, put this
on."

Rory did as she was told, but with a bit of an amused look as she placed
the wide-brimmed hat on her head. She understood why her mother didn't
get along with her grandparents, but sometimes it was fun to go to their
house. They had all kinds of funny hats and things and even though she
was sixteen, it was sort of fun to play dress-up every now and then. And
dress-up was something she thought her mother would have an appreciation
for. Emily reached over to tie the floppy brimmed hat underneath Rory's
chin and the two of them picked up the picnic basket and went outside.

_ _ _

"What is that?" Luke cried at the sight of the two women hauling the
large basket between them.

"I think it's Yogi Bear and Godzilla's lunchbox," Lorelai said.

Luke jumped out of the jeep to help, easily taking the basket from Rory
and Emily and putting it into the back of the jeep, where it put
considerable strain on the shocks. "You realize what this is going to
do to your gas mileage," he said to Emily.

"Lorelai, there's a strange man trying to steal our lunch," Emily
called, with a glare at Luke.

"Mom, you remember Luke from Rory's birthday party," Lorelai said as the
three of them approached the car. She almost had to smile to see the way
her mother looked at Luke, with his five o'clock shadow and backwards
baseball cap. "Rory, what's on your head?"

"It's a sunhat. Grandma gave it to me."

"This is a jeep, not a covered wagon," Lorelai pointed out.

"Rory has beautiful skin. I would want her to get suntanned or freckled
like some people I could name," Emily said.

"Luke, could you hand me the baby oil? I forgot to slather it on so I
could work on my leather-faced sunburn." Lorelai replied. Rory started
to get into the front seat, leaving Emily and Luke staring at each
other, equally horrified.

"This will never do," Emily said. "Rory, let me sit in the front seat."

Rory started to get out of the car and Lorelai grabbed her arm. "Protect
me," she requested.

"For heaven's sake, Lorelai. I'm your mother. I taught you to drive.
Rory."

"Mother, you had your driver teach me to drive," Lorelai pointed out.
"Rory, stay."

"It's okay, Mom," Rory said, getting out and getting back in in the back
seat.

Lorelai moaned and reached for her coffee cup, which was empty. Luke
saw the desperate act. "Why don't you sit with your granddaughter, Mrs.
Gilmore?" he suggested, and watched the amazement on Emily's face as he
formed a complete sentence.

"Thank you, Duke," Emily said.

"Mom, turn up the hearing aid. Luke. His name is Luke," Lorelai called
as Emily got into the back seat next to Rory.

Emily settled herself. "Your mother's manners were always atrocious. I
always tried to do something about them, but she's always been
headstrong."

Luke looked to Lorelai, almost for permission, before he climbed into
the front seat. She punched the gas and jerked the Jeep out of the
driveway.

_ _ _

Things didn't look so good at the inn. Michel was being pulled in all
directions, trying to steer incoming guests around the stacks of boxes
and uniforms and party things and deal with messengers at the same time
as checking guests in. The telephone would not stop ringing.

"One moment," said Michel, holding up a finger to the guest standing
before the counter, as he grabbed the telephone.

"Just a moment," he said to the person on the other end of the line, as
one of the other lines continued to ring.

The guest standing at the counter turned to his wife. "I thought we came
here to get away from the chaos," he said.

"Just a moment," Michel said to another person on the telephone, not
missing the guest's comment. "We are momentarily short-handed, m'sieur,"
he said. "Please, sign here."

The guests exchanged a look. "Maybe we should go someplace quieter," the
wife suggested. She and her husband turned and began to thread their way
out of the inn.

"Wait! Come back! We will be quiet! Like little mice! Hey!" Michel
yelled. But the guests were gone. "Yes," he said into the phone, but the
line was dead. He glanced up to notice a man in a bakery uniform
juggling a gigantic pink bakery box. "Kitchen deliveries go in the
back," Michel insisted.

"Your problem now," the delivery man said, depositing the enormous box
directly in front of the counter.

"Sookie!" Michel yelled as a pair of small boys began to hurl replica
WWI grenades at each other from the neatly stacked foxhole of them in
the living room. One of them hit the harpist in the head and she stopped
playing.

"Hey!" the harpist yelled, going after one of the boys.

"Help!" Michel screamed. "Help! Help!"

"What's going on?" Sookie demanded, as much as Sookie ever demanded
anything, as she emerged from the kitchen. "Hey, it's here!" She
grinned. "This needs to go into the grand ballroom. Are the tables set
up yet?"

"No, the tables are not set up yet. The telephone is ringing, the
decorator is not here, the harpist is killing children of guests and the
Gilmore child abducted her mother leaving me here all alone!" Michel
said, beginning to tremble as the phone screeched ring after ring.

"Maybe you need some coffee," Sookie suggested. "I'll get you some."

"I do not need coffee, I need help!" Michel informed her.

Sookie just looked at him. "There's no reason to yell," she said,
looking intimidated. "There's never any reason to yell. I'm just going
to go...cook." She backed out of the room into the kitchen, letting the
door close solidly behind her.

"You. Over here. Now," Michel insisted. The harpist just looked at him
and began strumming a death march. "Yes. You. Answer this."

"I'm a harp player. Not a receptionist," the harpist sniped.

"I will help you carry your harp to and from your car."

"Every day for a month?" she negotiated.

"Oui, oui, every day for a month," Michel gave in.

"Now you're talking," said the harpist, grabbing the phones like a pro.

_ _ _

"You could slow down," Emily leaned forward to suggest to Lorelai.

"We're already running late, thanks to the traffic and the picnic basket
and the little house on the prairie hats," Lorelai said.

"You're the one who insisted on stopping at that rest area," Emily
pointed out.

"It would be a whole lot less pleasant in here if I hadn't," Lorelai
informed her.

"If you wouldn't drink so much coffee," Luke began.

"Lay. Off. The. Coffee," Lorelai said.

"It is a fact, Lorelai," Emily said. "Drinking coffee is --"

"I'm sorry, when did the volume of my pee become good in the car
conversation?" Lorelai demanded, revving the engine and pressing harder
on the gas.

"Lorelai, please."

"Speeding releases hydrocarbons into the atmosphere --" Luke began, but
was silenced by Lorelai's look.

"Let's play a game," Rory's small voice came from the backseat. Lorelai
glanced at her child in the mirror and saw her looking small and
unhappy.

"Yes. A game. Good idea," Lorelai backed her up. Anything to keep them
busy so she could drive.

_ _ _

Sookie was sitting on a stool in the kitchen when the grocery man walked
in. She wasn't cooking, so she didn't look happy. "I got a deal on
out-of-season strawberries. Handpicked," he said.

Sookie barely even looked up.

"did you hurt yourself?" he asked, then looked around. "Did someone die?
Is the inn closing?"

Sookie shook her head, and the grocery man pulled up another stool.

"What happened?" he asked.

"Michel yelled at me," Sookie said.

"Want me to get him for you?" the grocery man asked.

"Wouldn't do any good," Sookie said. "Lorelai would never let him yell
at me."

"She's not here?" the grocery man asked.

"She had to go pick something up," Sookie said, catching the grocery
man's worried look. "She'll be back." He nodded. "You said you had
strawberries?"

"You've got to see these, Sookie," he told her and withdrew a little
green plastic carton from his bag. Her eyes widened and she took one,
biting off a piece. Then she choked, her face going sour. "They're not
ripe!" she said.

"That's not possible," he said.

"Look for yourself!" she cried, shoving the other half of the strawberry
in his face. "Out of season strawberries. See what you get?"

"I only get the highest quality. You know that."

"Do I hear voices in here?" Michel asked, poking his head into the
kitchen.

"No. We left. Goodbye," Sookie said.

"Ah. Grocery man. I need your help." Michel marched over to him,
separating the grocery man from his bag of supplies he'd brought and
forcing him into the lobby.

Sookie started after them, but then a strange sound came from the stove.
She turned just in time to witness the mixture in the pot bubble up and
explode, sending mustard spray across the room. "It's never done that
before," she said, going to tend her pot.

_ _ _

"Q. Quality Inn sign," Rory called.

"Quality, hah. Just look at that sign," Lorelai said. "Our sign is much
prettier."

"Arizona," Luke called.

"Where?" Emily demanded.

"In front of that blue car," Luke said. "That's 35."

"You're really good at this game," Rory told him.

"R. Interstate sign," Luke replied, as though to prove her point.

"Will you give her a chance?" Emily asked.

"Are you saying I should let Rory win?" Luke demanded. Emily gave him an
indignant look, which suggested that was exactly what she'd been saying.

"It's okay," Rory said. "Playing's more fun than winning. T, by the way.
Tire shop."

"She certainly didn't get that attitude from me," Emily said.

"Thank god," Lorelai interjected.

"Are we there yet?" Emily leaned forward to ask.

"No, and stop looking out my window," Lorelai replied, setting herself
to giggling.

"Well then can we stop to eat lunch?" Emily inquired. "It's half past
twelve and I --"

"Did we miss feeding time for the zoo?" Lorelai asked.

"That was uncalled for," Emily said. "It's important to eat at regular
times each day. Just because you're a hooligan who --"

"She just called you a hooligan," Luke said.

"I heard her. I bet she thinks you're a hooligan, too," Lorelai said
with a grin for him. He almost smiled back. "Look at you," she said.

"Excuse me? We were discussing lunch before you started flirting," Emily
said.

"I don't flirt," Luke snorted.

Emily glanced at Rory, who nodded, backing her up.

"We'll eat when we get there," Lorelai said. "It's only another 20
miles. Shouldn't take too long..."

As she said it, they rounded a bend in the road, exposing the fact that
there was a long line of stopped cars. "Or we could just stop here,"
Lorelai amended, bringing the car to a stop.

"Minnesota," Luke noticed.

"Mom, is that red light supposed to be on?" Rory asked.

"What red light?" Lorelai asked, and Rory leaned up over her shoulder to
point. "You're going to put my eye out with that hat."

"Sorry," Rory said, undoing the knot and setting it in the back seat.
"That red light," she pointed.

"Hm, no," Lorelai said. "But I'm sure it's nothing."

"What's nothing?" Emily asked, suddenly sounding concerned, as though
Rory had pointed out a bomb and timer device underneath the car. "If
it's a red light, maybe we should check it out."

"That's right, I forgot you used to be a mechanic," Lorelai said to her
mother.

Luke leaned in close to Lorelai, drawing a curious look from her. He
glanced at her as though to say, I'm just checking the light. "It's
nothing," he diagnosed.

"Would anyone else who doesn't own a car and doesn't drive like to weigh
in?" Lorelai asked.

"I can drive," Rory replied with a shrug, disqualifying herself.

"That's my girl," Lorelai said. They inched forward. No one said
anything. Lorelai flipped on the radio, swirling through static until
she found a song she liked and started to hum along to it.

"You're humming," Emily said.

"You have a problem with humming?" Lorelai demanded, but she stopped. "I
suppose you don't like the music, either."

"It's fine, mom," said Rory, ever the peacemaker.

"And they're not exploiting poor drummakers in Indonesia?" Lorelai
looked to Luke.

"Not as far as I know," he told her.

"Good," Lorelai said, breaking into a smile. The car inched forward
again. She started doing a little dance in her seat. Suddenly the road
in front of them opened up and Lorelai said, "Now we're going places!"

She shifted gears and pushed on the gas, but the engine sputtered and
died.

"It's not supposed to do that," Emily remarked.

Lorelai frowned and cranked the engine again.

"It's definitely not supposed to do that!" Luke cried, jumping out of
his seat and pulling off his flannel overshirt to beat back the flames
that had begun to dance around the edges of the hood.

Lorelai scrambled to get out of the car. "Can I help?" she asked.

"It's out," Luke told her.

"Any idea what caused it?" she asked.

He sniffed. "When's the last time you put oil in this thing?" he asked.

Lorelai shrugged and he just looked at her. "I'm sure it could be
worse," she offered.

"Oh, Lorelai --" Emily cooed from the backseat.

"Just a minute, Mom," she said, and turned back to Luke. "What are you
trying to say?"

"Lorelai --"

"In a minute!"

"MOM!" Rory yelled and Lorelai looked up. Her daughter and Emily had
gotten out of the car. Lorelai focused behind them and saw an SUV
speeding around the bend, headed directly for the poor, disabled Jeep.

Luke grabbed Lorelai's arm and the two of them jumped onto the shoulder
of the road seconds before the SUV, brakes screaming, crashed into the
car, smashing the back end and flipping it around before it came to a
stop.

continue