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

Part 4



The group sat by the side of the road, eating the enormous lunch Emily
had pulled out of the picnic basket. The Jeep was once again balanced on
four fully inflated wheels, ready to go.

"This is nice," Lorelai said, munching.

"You haven't even touched your caviar," Emily scolded. "Neither have
you. Eat up," she directed at Luke.

"I like it, Grandma," Rory said.

"You're spoiling my kid," Lorelai protested mildly.

"You've spoiled her already," Emily said.

"I thought I was ruining her life by raising her trashily," Lorelai shot
back.

"I'm not listening to any more fighting!" Rory singsonged, grabbing a
paperback out of her bag and stretching out on the grass to read it.

"We weren't fighting," Lorelai said.

"I agree," Emily replied. Then the two women looked at each other, quite
frightened that they were agreeing with one another.

"What are you reading?" Luke asked Rory.

"Thoreau. It's for school. You'd like it."

Luke shook his head.

"You didn't like a book about a guy who went off to live by the rules of
nature in the woods all alone?" Rory asked, incredulous. "I
underestimated you. I'll have to be more careful."

Luke nodded, then sneaked a bite of the caviar, chewing it thoughtfully.

"Time?" Lorelai requested.

"I know for a fact you recieved a watch for Christmas two years ago,"
Emily said.

"I must have hocked it to pay for Tiny Tim's crutches," Lorelai
remarked.

"It's two-thirty," Luke said.

"You can tell that from the position of the sun?" Lorelai asked.

"No, I have a sundial on my wrist," Luke said.

"Was that a joke?" Lorelai teased, and for the second time in one day,
Luke almost smiled. "I think it was a joke. Quick, take cover! That's
the last sign the world's going to end."

"What time do we have to be back?" Rory asked.

"Oh, now," Lorelai replied.

"Help me load up the basket," Emily requested. "We can take care of our
errands and be back in Stars Hollow before sunset."

"What are you going to do in Stars Hollow?" Lorelai asked.

"I'll help you, Mrs. Gilmore," Luke offered, helping gather the trash
from their meal without even complaining about excessive product
packaging.

"We have to stop at the first service station and get a real belt for
the engine," Rory pointed out to her mother. "And we should probably get
a real tire."

"You're such a smart kid," Lorelai said. "Even if you're wearing a dumb
hat."

"Mom," Rory warned, as Lorelai grabbed the sunhat away and ruffled
Rory's hair. The two of them ended up in a girlish tug of war wrestling
match, giggling.

_ _ _

Their first stop was at a small, white house in Maryland on the
outskirts of Washington DC. The sign hanging on the front porch read,
"Proud Headquarters of the Daughters of the American Revolution"
although it looked more like an antique store.

"I'll just be a minute," Emily promised as she got out of the car.

"Your mother's not bad," Luke ventured.

Lorelai looked at him, astonished, but said nothing. She wasn't feeling
particularly mean or spiteful at that moment.

"I think she likes you," Rory leaned forward to tell Luke.

"Nonsense. Grandma doesn't like anyone," Lorelai said, but her heart
wasn't in it.

"She makes me miss my father," Luke said.

"She's nothing like your father," Lorelai said. "Oh, except for the
crazy part."

"Mom, have you ever wondered about how everyone in Stars Hollow is a
little bit...interesting?" Rory inquired.

"As compared to what?" Lorelai asked. "You've lived there your whole
life. All small towns have interesting people living there. And people
in cities are interesting, too, they just keep it to themselves better."

Emily returned and got into the car. "Why is it so quiet?" she asked.
"Were you talking about me?"

"No," Rory answered and Emily looked at her.

"Well, I must say, they had the most wonderful patterned quilt in
there," Emily said.

"Mom, you hate crafts," Lorelai said. "You wouldn't even help me with
my diarama in second grade."

"It's never too late to learn a new skill," Emily said. "Rory and I
could learn together."

"Rory's going to Harvard. She doesn't need to know how to make a quilt,"
Lorelai said.

"You're going to Harvard?" Luke asked.

Rory nodded. "It's my dream."

"Good school," Luke said.

"Where are we headed?" Lorelai asked him.

_ _ _

Their next stop was at a small, run down store near a river bank. There
was no sign out front as Luke got out.

"Lock the doors, Lorelai. You never know who might be lurking at the
waterfront," Emily said.

Lorelai rolled her eyes at her mother in the rearview mirror, then
turned to look at her daughter. "Remember when we went wading?"

"I was five," Rory replied.

"I miss wading. We should go wading more often," Lorelai said.

"I never understood the point of wading through water. Why not just swim
if you're going to get wet?" Emily asked.

"You used to take me wading," Lorelai reminded her mother.

"Yes, I suppose I did," Emily said, falling quiet, her lips forming a
small smile.

Luke came out of the shop with a huge box in his hands.

"That's never going to fit in the back with the bumper," Lorelai said.
A moment later, Luke came around to the driver's side window. "It won't
fit in the back," Lorelai guessed.

"Not with the bumper," Luke said.

"What are you suggesting? That we leave my bumper here? I need it. It
bumps. Quite nicely," Lorelai said.

"Never mind," said Luke, pulling open the passenger door. He dumped the
dish box into the footwell of the front seat and then climbed in,
resting his feet on top of the box so he was all folded up.

"That can't be comfortable," Lorelai remarked.

"Then drive faster," Luke told her.

"Your wish is my command," Lorelai said, blinking her eyes and nodding
her head like Jeannie on I Dream of Jeannie.

_ _ _

"We have to go to the Smithsonian some day," Rory said wistfully as they
drove past the museums in the nation's capital.

"We'll come back. Now that we know where it is," Lorelai said.

Rory nodded, but she continued staring out the window until the
buildings were out of sight.

"I'm sorry we don't have time to stop now," Lorelai added.

"It's fine," Rory said.

"Next day you have off school. Maybe you could even call in sick when
there's a big test. We could play hooky. It'll be fun," Lorelai
suggested.

"It would be fun," Rory said, a little mischeviously.

"Why are we stopping?" Emily demanded nervously.

"This is the place," Lorelai said, parking. She remained seated, though,
looking at the warehouse-type building. "It's almost sad. We've got
everything we were looking for. The journey's at an end."

"Sun's going down," Luke added glumly.

"Journeys are supposed to end," Rory pointed out. "Otherwise, they
wouldn't be journeys. They'd be..." she looked for the right word.
"Never-ending."

Lorelai nodded. "Come in with me, oh wise one, and give me a hand."

Rory got out of the car and the two women walked into the shop.

"You like her, don't you?" Emily asked Luke, breaking the silence.

He grunted a neutral reply.

"I'm sorry, I don't understand the language of the apes. What was that?"
Emily asked.

"I see where she gets it," Luke said.

Emily regarded him. "You know, it wouldn't hurt to clean yourself up a
little. Starch the shirt. Shave. Put your cap on the right way."

To appease her, Luke picked up his baseball cap and turned it so the
bill shaded his eyes from the setting sun. Then he looked at her.

"See, you're halfway there. That wasn't so difficult, was it?" inquired
Emily.

Luke grunted.

"It won't fit in the back," Lorelai returned to report. "Is there any
string in the picnic basket?"

"Of course there is, to tie up the leftovers in parcels of brown paper,"
Emily answered. "What do you need with string?"

Lorelai just grinned and didn't answer, closing the door again.
Alarmed, Emily got out and so did Luke, in time to see Rory and Lorelai
hoisting an ugly plane-shaped object onto the roof of the jeep and wind
it with string to tie it down.

"That will never hold it. It wasn't designed to be used on roofs of
cars," Emily warned.

"It'll hold fine," Lorelai said, giving it a tug. "See?"

"Should be okay," Rory replied.

"And she's studied physics," Lorelai added.

_ _ _

At the inn, Michel sat behind the counter, his chin propped on his hand.
The telephone wasn't ringing. He looked almost bored.

From the ballroom came the sounds of chatter and Charleston music. The
party was in full swing. Sookie bustled out of the kitchen with a tray
precariously balanced in her hands, on the way to refill one of the
buffet trays in the ballroom. "I can't believe they didn't make it back
in time," she said. "Do you think they got in trouble?"

"Oh, please. It Friday night. Have you not heard of rush hour?" Michel
pointed out.

Sookie just nodded, looking a bit baffled. They didn't get much rush
hour in Stars Hollow, it being such a small town. "Hungry?" she asked.
"I'll make you a plate."

Michel started to say something nasty, but then he said, "That would be
nice."

Sookie and Michel just looked at each other, surprised by the exchange.
Then Sookie continued bustling into the ballroom and Michel returned to
moping at the desk.

_ _ _

"Home stretch," Lorelai announced to the quiet car. "Good thing, too, I
need some coffee."

When there was no answer, she looked back and saw both Rory and Emily
asleep in the back. She turned to Luke. "You're still with me?"

"I'm here," Luke replied.

"Not very talkative, are you?"

"There you go, stating the obvious," Luke grumped.

"Sounds like I'm not the only one who needs coffee," Lorelai said.

"That stuff'll kill you," he warned.

"You're worried about my health? That's so sweet!" Lorelai said,
glancing again in the mirror. "You know, when she was a baby, she loved
taking trips in the car. Didn't matter where we were going. She'd sit in
her car seat and look out with those big baby eyes like it was all new
and exciting. Which I guess it was." She smiled. "Home stretch."

They were at the top of a hill and Lorelai accelerated as she headed
down it. Suddenly there was a crunching, breaking noise and the car
picked up speed. "What was that?" Lorelai asked, jamming on the brakes.

"Mom?" Rory asked sleepily, rousing and rubbing her eyes.

"Lorelai!" Emily declared, likewise shaken awake.

"I see it," Lorelai said. Picking up speed going downhill had given the
plane replica the lift it needed to take off, string or no string. It
sailed now, off into the night, dipping low and then catching another
wind flow that carried it higher.

"Amazing," Rory said.

"It's free now," Lorelai said.

"I can't believe we went all that way for nothing," Emily said.

"It wasn't nothing," Lorelai said. "You got your paperwork and Luke got
his dishes and we had a picnic lunch and drove past the Washington
monument --"

"And sat in a car for hours," Emily added.

"And sat in a car for hours," Lorelai echoed, her voice giving the words
a completely different meaning. It was good to be together.

_ _ _

They pulled up at the inn, tired and rumpled. Luke began to wrestle his
dishes from the seat, but Lorelai said, "Leave them. I'll give you a
ride after I get some coffee."

Luke nodded, and they headed inside.

"Well?" demanded Michel.

"Mission accomplished," Lorelai reported.

"Sookie left us food," Rory said, noticing the plate sitting on the
counter.

"That is mine," Michel intoned. "Yours is in the kitchen."

"Get me some coffee, hon," Lorelai called as Rory trooped into the
kitchen, followed by Emily and Luke. "How are things here?"

"Everything is in perfect arrangement."

"And the party. How's the party?"

"The party is ongoing," Michel said.

Lorelai nodded. "Nobody noticed it wasn't here?"

Michel looked at her, deciding whether he should point out there was no
room for it anyway. "Everything is fine," he said, as Rory returned,
handing Lorelai a cup of coffee.

"Now it is," Lorelai said, gulping it down. Meanwhile, Emily was nosing
about the inn while Rory and Luke chowed heartily on heaping plates of
food supplied by Sookie. Lorelai went over to the cracked-open ballroom
door and looked in, at the decoration and the people, listening to the
music. And maybe seeing there was no room for a big plane replica that
had taken off flying.

"It's nice," Luke said to her, appearing at her side.

"They're happy," Lorelai smiled. "I'm happy."

"This is really quite a nice place," Emily remarked.

"Thank you," Lorelai said quickly, before her mother could but
qualifiers on it, like 'if only you had...' She could see the qualifiers
coming.

"Thanks for the trip, Mom," Rory said.

"Anytime, sweetie."

"We'll have to do it again," Emily suggested. "Just the four of us."
They looked at her like she'd gone insane. "Oh, what am I saying?
Where's a phone so I can call a driver? I have to get home." Michel
showed her the telephone and she dialed as Rory, Luke and Lorelai peeked
back in at the original WWI flyers, celebrating their anniversary in
style.

The end.

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