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Where You Choose, Rory Will Follow

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            It's two in the afternoon Thanksgiving day. Your daughter is upstairs napping. You and your mother are downstairs eating. All is right with the world.

            “I don’t care about the backlash,” your mom says, biting into an Oreo. “Pumpkin spice is alright in my book.” She shakes the package of pumpkin spice Oreos at you. “Trade you an Oreo for a Little Debbie.”

            You extract a cellophaned pumpkin spice roll from the Little Debbie box. “Please. The New York Stock Exchange says that the official Oreo/Little Debbie conversation rate is three Oreos for one Little Debbie.”

            “Nuh-uh!” Your mom shakes her head. “Two Oreos.”

            “One Oreo and a Kit-Kat?”

            “Deal.” Your mom passes you an Oreo and a pumpkin spice Kit-Kat. You toss her a Little Debbie.

            The front door opens and Luke stomps in, carrying two bags of groceries from his emergency trip to Doose’s. “Jeez,” he groans as he looks at the piles of pumpkin-flavored Lindor truffle wrappers, the uncapped bottle of “R.W. Knudsen’s Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice Beverage,” and, of course, a half empty box of pumpkin spice Pop-Tarts littering the living room floor. “You two realize Sookie and I have spent hours cooking an actual Thanksgiving dinner for you, right?”

            “Of course we have,” your mom assures him, fruitlessly offering him some pumpkin-spice caramel corn. “The food smells great. Sookie!” she calls to Sookie, who’s working in the kitchen. “Didn’t we tell you it smelled great?”

            “You did!” Sookie confirms.

            Luke shoots a look of particular revulsion to the pumpkin spice-flavored Kahlua, which remains unopened. “Then why are you shoving all this orange junk food into your mouths?” he wants to know.

            “Appetizer,” you and your mom say in unison.

            “Disgusting…” Luke mutters as he stalks to the kitchen.     

            Your mom shrugs and presses “play” on the remote control. “Next up in the Annual Gilmore Thanksgiving Movie Marathon,” she narrates in a fake announcer voice, “the first 15 minutes of A Miracle on 34th Street!”

            “You know,” you comment as you finish up the Kit-Kat bar, “of all the Christmas movies we watch the first fifteen minutes of on Thanksgiving, A Miracle on 34th Street is my favorite.”

            Your mom agrees. “Of course. Drunk Santa. What more could you want?”

            You and your mom split a package of pumpkin Pop-Tarts during the film’s opening credits, and soon you’re watching Maureen O’Hara’s attempt to corral the drunk Santa at Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

            But then…

            “You’re hogging the stovetop!”

            “I can’t hog the stove! It’s my stove! Go use your own!”

            The argument blaring from the kitchen is so loud that it completely drowns out the movie. On the television screen, Edmund Gwenn and the intoxicated Santa are moving their lips in a way that bizarrely synchronizes with the kitchen argument. Edmond Gwenn opens his mouth and Sookie’s voice rings in your ears (“You want me to walk all the way to my house in a Connecticut November just because you can’t make room for one frying pan of brussels sprouts?”). The parade Santa burps and you can hear Luke snap, “I’m not asking you to go on the Oregon Trail! You live a block away!”

              Your mother, sitting next to you on the couch, shifts in her seat. She frowns at the archway leading to the kitchen and leans closer to you. “Tell them to be quiet,” she whispers to you.

            “Excuse me?” You raise an eyebrow at her.

            “Ask Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsay in there to pipe down.” She reaches for the remote and pauses the movie mid-Macy’s-parade. “They’ll listen to you!”

            You roll your eyes. “Last time I checked, you have the power of speech, too.” You pause and add, “Songs have been sung about your power speech. Thinkpieces have been written about your power of speech. Pilgrimages have been made to admire your power of speech.”

            “Yes, well…” Your mom shrugs with fake modesty. Then, since the kitchen argument has become even louder, she leans in closer. “If I go in there and tell them that their bickering is interrupting our movie marathon, they might ask questions like…” She trails off.

            “Like why you’re sitting around watching the Thanksgiving scenes of six Christmas movies while Luke and Sookie are cooking a Thanksgiving meal so huge that it would make Trimalchio say, ‘Whoa, guys, I think that’s enough food’?” you supply.

            “Yeah, sure,” your mom nods, skating past your reply. “But if you go in there and say,” she adopts a high, breathy voice that sounds nothing like you, “please, if you wouldn’t mind being a little quieter, not for my sake, but I’m worried that Victoria might wake up, and she just fell asleep…” Lorelai waggles her eyebrows at you. “The baby card. Play it—nothing beats the baby card.” She pauses. “Except the JP Morgan Palladium card—nothing beats that.”

            Victoria Gilmore has been temporarily relocated to the upstairs bedroom for her nap, since you foresaw that the Thanksgiving preparations might result in clattering pans, arguments, and moving furniture. The baby monitor sits silent on the end table; Victoria is sleeping peacefully.

            “Sookie and Luke have been cooking for hours,” you point out. “Let them argue if they want.”

            “Aw, come on Rory!” your mom whines, lightly punching your arm. “Play the baby card while you’ve got it—this is a limited time offer!”

            Okay, Rory, how do you want to handle this?

            Ask Luke and Sookie to keep it down

            OR

           Let your mom take care of it

Chapter Text

            You sigh, stand up, and lumber towards the kitchen. “Just this once!” you hiss at your mother.

            Sookie and Luke don’t notice you when you enter the kitchen. They’re yelling at each other—something about the Donner Party. All four burners of the stove are in use: two covered pots on the back burners, a saucepan of cranberry sauce that Luke is stirring as he argues, and a frying pan of brussels sprouts.

            “Anything smells good when you cook it in that much bacon grease!” Luke is shouting, gesturing to the brussels sprouts.  “Want me to cut off my arm, soak it in grease, and serve it up, Paula Dean?”

            It takes three very loud coughs for the two of them to turn in your direction.

            “Excuse me,” you say. They’ve fallen silent, but you still have to speak loudly to be heard over the sizzle of the bacon in the brussels sprouts pan. “Sorry, I really appreciate all the work you two are doing and it smells fabulous, but would you mind lowering the volume a little?” You bring your fingers together to indicate the figurative concept of ‘a little.’ “It doesn’t have to be a monastery in here, but maybe something less than 6.0 on the Richter Scale?” You point upstairs. “Victoria’s taking her nap, and I’m worried she might hear you and start crying, and then we’ll be at, like, at least an 8.0, then FEMA will have to be sent out and…”

            By this point, Sookie and Luke are nodding understandingly and are issuing so many remorseful apologies that you’re red-faced from guilt, but you tell yourself that you asking them to be quiet is still better than however your mother would have made the demand.

            You step out of the kitchen. Your mom gives you a thumbs up and unpauses A Miracle on 34th Street, and you’re about to join her, but there’s a knock on the door. You open it and find April standing on the porch carrying two folding chairs. “The furniture has arrived,” she announces, sailing past you into living room. She leans the chairs against the wall and heads back outside. “There are plenty more where that came from,” she calls to you. “Liz and TJ have a lot of folding chairs.”

            “Wow,” you comment, following her outside to the minivan parked in the driveway. “Christmas has come early.” You grab a couple of chairs and walk with April back to the house. “Happy Thanksgiving, by the way.”

            Once you and April deposit this second load of folding chairs in the living room, April pauses to say hello to your mom, who has started clearing the coffee table, and to comment that the place smells amazing. She trots into the kitchen to say hello to Luke and Sookie, and your mom follows her. You’re about to do the same when you hear another set of footsteps on the porch. It’s Jess, carrying two folding tables. He nods at you as he passes you, and he gingerly sets the tables by the chairs.

            “Happy Thanksgiving!” you chirp, and it comes out sounding awkward and forced.

            He raises his eyebrow at you, but jerks his head to the door. “Two more tables in there. Liz and TJ have a lot of folding tables.” He heads back out, presumably to get the tables.

            You step outside and follow Jess to the minivan. He’s removing folding chairs so he can get to the remaining card tables on the floor of the car.

            “So…” you say, playing with the ends of your sweater sleeves with your fingers, “how was the drive to Stars Hollow?”

            “Fine,” Jess answers. He succeeds at pulling out the tables and begins walking back to the house. “Crowded. But at least it’s not snowing until tomorrow.”

            You grab two chairs and follow him. “A white Black Friday, then.”

            “Black, white, and red all over,” Jess replies.

            “Red?” you ask.

            “The blood of those idiots stampeding each other to get a Nintendo Switch half off,” he explains.

            “Not a big Black Friday shopper?” you ask.

            “Nah,” he admits. “I’ve grown kind of used to having my head attached to my body...”

            You both set down your furniture in the living room and head back outside.

            “…so…” You pick up another couple of chairs.

            Jess picks up four chairs. “Yeah?” he asks, starting back to the house.

            “Um…”

            Jess sighs. He gives you a look that is somehow simultaneously disappointed and unsurprised. “You haven’t told him yet, have you?”

            You know who the “he” Jess is referring to is: Logan.

            It had been a month ago.

            You met up with Jess last month to discuss your book. The two of you stood in a grocery store near your apartment in New York City, Jess talking about your idea to cut out chapter 7 while you tossed packages of diapers into your shopping cart. Victoria watched the diaper-basketball delightedly, comfortable in her stroller that Jess was pushing, since your hands were full with the shopping cart.

            And then the two of you ran smack dab into Logan.

            Logan wasn’t supposed to be in New York City. Logan wasn’t even supposed to be the kind of person who went to grocery stores. But there he was: in a grocery store in New York that was also occupied by his ex-girlfriend, her ex-boyfriend, and Logan’s daughter. That Logan didn’t know anything about.

            ‘Awkward’ didn’t go far enough. No word went far enough. You could sit Noah Webster and Samuel Johnson into a room together, ask them to find the perfect word, and after ten hours they would give up and advise you to throw seven “extremelys” in front of “awkward.”

            It was like the end of Great Expectations, the original end before Wilkie Collins convinced Charles to lighten it up, when Pip and Estella saw each other after all those years. Only this grocery store scene also had a secret lovechild thrown in which, come to think of it, was also pretty Dickensian.

            The three of you stood there in the hygiene aisle of the corner store, staring at each other as Kenny G. softly played through the speaker system. Jess was wearing a weathered Voivod t-shirt. You were wearing a faded Hartford sweatshirt you’d selected early that day specifically because you wouldn’t mind if Victoria vomited on it.

            Logan was wearing what looked like an Armani suit and a silk tie. In a grocery store.

            You were pretty sure you had holes in your jeans. And not the classy, designer holes that the jeans came with. Real holes that came from not being able to afford a trip to the GAP.

            After all these years, Logan’s emotions were easy to read. He looked from you to Jess, the frown on his face deepening from confusion to annoyance when recognition clicked into place. Then he looked at the stroller, and confusion returned, accompanied by a good measure of shock.

            “Logan!” you’d blurted. “What a surprise! What are you doing in New York?”

            He gave you some answer—something about a gala down the block and an emergency run for aspirin. His gaze flicked to you, he shot you a fake smile, and then his gaze returned to the stroller.

            Jess remained silent. Maybe he’d nodded to Logan. You weren’t sure.

            “So,” Logan said eventually, indicating the stroller, “aren’t you going to introduce me?”

            “This is Victoria,” you said. And then, for some stupid reason, maybe because Jess was there or maybe because Logan probably had to return to whatever event he’d come from or maybe because you just didn’t want to have this discussion in your lumpy Hartford sweatshirt with someone who had just stepped out of a GQ photoshoot, you added, “Jess’s daughter.”

            As far as lies went, it was a pretty credible one. Jess, after all, was the one with his hands gripping the stroller. And all babies Victoria’s age essentially looked the same.

            No, the only giveaway was the surprise that washed over Jess’s face, but even in surprise, Jess’s facial expression was subtle. Logan, who had only met Jess once before, probably didn’t register the flash of his eyes or the tensing of his jaw.

            “Mazel tov,” Logan said to Jess, who grunted his thanks. “You a family man now? Where’s the missus?” Logan theatrically craned his neck, perhaps expecting Victoria’s mom to pop out from behind the Charmin display.

            “We’re still working things out,” Jess said cryptically. “She’s involved, though.”

            Logan nodded in polite apathy before shifting his attention to you. “How’s the book going?”

            You gave a vague answer, mentioned that Jess was helping you, and then, after a couple minutes of stilted conversation, Logan announced he had to run back to the event.

            Jess waited until Logan was back on the street before he said anything.

            “Luke said you’d told him,” Jess announced, lifting his arms from the stroller handles to fold them across his chest. “He said Logan was figuring out if he wanted to be involved.”

            “I needed more time,” you said, feeling as if you wanted to sink into the grocery store’s linoleum floor.

            Lorelai would have jumped on the “more time” comment. (“More time? How much time did you need? Were you planning on letting him know he had a daughter before she went to prom? Before the daddy daughter dance at her wedding? Before she ordered off Denny’s seniors menu?”) Jess let the opportunity pass, instead asking, “So you lied to Luke?”

            “He wouldn’t have liked me keeping this from Logan,” you said softly.

            “And your mom? You lied to her, too?”

            You nodded.

            “When are you going to tell Logan?” Jess asked.

            You didn’t have an answer.

            Jess adjusted his question. “Are you going to tell Logan?”

            At least this got an answer out of you. You nodded your head vigorously. “I’ll tell him,” you promised. “Just—until I do, don’t tell Luke, please?” You finally met his eyes. He frowned, but agreed.

            You were grateful when he turned the subject back to your book, and the two of you didn’t speak about Logan again.

            Until today.

            You set down your chairs and shake your head. “No, I haven’t told him…” Your gaze drops to your flats. “Not yet…”

            “I assume you’re already aware that it’s just going to get worse the longer you don’t tell him?”

            You nod.

            Jess lets out a long breath. “Look, you know Richie Rich better than I do, and this isn’t my business,” he says finally, “but I don’t like keeping a secret from Luke.”

            “I’ll tell him soon,” you promise.

            “That’s what you said before,” Jess reminds you. He takes a step towards you and lowers his voice. “Trust me—bottling secrets up doesn’t do any good.”

            You hear footsteps, and Jess steps away from you as your mother enters the room.

            “Jess!” she says brightly. “Happy Thanksgiving!”

            Jess grunts a reply. The two of them stare at each other for a moment, perhaps uncertain whether a handshake or a hug is the appropriate greeting. They settle for a couple of nervous nods.

            “Thanks for bringing the furniture from Liz and TJ’s,” your mother says.

            “No problem,” Jess replies, wiping invisible grime off his hands. “You want to set everything up now?”

            There are fifteen expected attendees at tonight’s Gilmore-Danes-Mariano-Nardini-Belleville Thanksgiving, plus the inevitable neighbors dropping in, which is why Jess and April brought the card tables and folding chairs from Liz and TJ’s. Company is expected in two hours.

            You, your mom, April, and Jess spend about a half an hour moving furniture, setting up the card tables, and fixing the place settings, after which Jess heads out to return the minivan to Liz and TJ’s.

            “Now that that’s done,” your mother sighs, plopping on the relocated couch, “we can finish the marathon.”

            Okay Rory, you’ve got a little bit of free time. How do you want to spend it? Watching movies with your mom is always fun, but your announcement to Logan that he is a father is long overdue. You could give him a call right now and tell him. On the other hand, on the phone and on Thanksgiving might not be the best way to break the news. Your choice, Rory, what do you want to do now?

 

            Movie marathon     OR      call Logan  

Chapter Text

            You fold your arms across your chest. “If you want to antagonize the chefs on Thanksgiving, you can go ahead. But I know what side my bread is buttered on.”

            Your mom looks scandalized. “Ungrateful daughter!” she gasps, jabbing her finger at you.

            “Ungrateful recipient of Thanksgiving feast,” you counter, jabbing your finger at her.

            She marches into the kitchen, and you’re grateful that it wasn’t you, because soon the shouting escalates. As you predicted, Luke and Sookie do not take kindly to being told to pipe down by someone whose only contribution to the festivities so far has been naming the gravy boat (Greta).

            In fact, the shouting is so loud that soon you can hear wailing on the baby monitor. You run upstairs to sing Victoria back to sleep, and you’ve just succeeded when your cellphone screen flashes; Paris is calling you. Thankfully, your phone’s on vibrate, so Victoria doesn’t wake up. You step into the master bathroom and close the door behind you before you answer it.

            “Hey Paris,” you say softly. “Happy—”

            “Is Doyle screwing Lena Dunham?!” Paris demands.

            Well, you weren’t expecting that. “Excuse me?” you ask.

            “I know you’re still in contact with him!” Paris shrieks on the other end. “He shared that 538 article on your Facebook wall two weeks ago and said ‘This is the article I mentioned,’ so don’t even pretend you two aren’t still talking! Is he sleeping with Lena Dunham?”

            “Why would you think he’s sleeping with Lena Dunham?”

            “That’s not a no, Rory! Oh my god, he’s dating Lena Dunham, isn’t he?” You can practically hear Paris pacing on the other end of the call. “Our divorce went through two months ago and he’s already walking down the aisle! And he doesn’t even have the decency to date some leggy floozy with a skull emptier than Al Capone’s vault! At least someone like that I could confuse by peppering my speech with multisyllabic words—but no! Instead he goes with Lena Dunham!”

            “Paris—Paris!” You have to repeat her name a few times before she finally stops her ranting. “I don’t know if Doyle is seeing Lena Dunham—he’s never mentioned her to me. What makes you think he is?”

            “I saw a picture of them,” Paris replies. Her voice sounds raw, and you realize she’s been crying. “My mom sent it to me—Happy Thanksgiving from an undisclosed tropical island, by the way your husband’s fucking Hannah Horvath!” It sounds like she kicked something. “Hold on—I’m sending you the picture.”

            A couple of seconds later, you’re looking at the picture in question. You’re relieved to see it’s just a paparazzi photo taken at a park. Lena, clad in sweat pants and an oversized sweater, is picking up after her dog. Doyle is walking next to her and holding a couple of smoothies.

 

            How do you want to handle this, Rory? Talk Paris down OR offer to investigate

Chapter Text

            Okay, you can do this.

            That’s what you tell yourself as you excuse yourself and jog upstairs. You shut your mom’s bedroom door behind you and step over to Victoria’s crib. She’s sleeping peacefully, and you reach out and stroke her cheek, appreciating this one last moment when she’s all yours.

            God, are you really going to do this?

            You step away, take a deep breath, and press the phone icon next to Logan’s name on your contacts.

            He picks up after the third ring. “Hey Ace,” he says, his voice casual. You could almost imagine that this was one of those “We’re meeting at Houlihan’s at 8 tonight—you in?” conversations you used to have in college.

            “Hi Logan,” you say. Your voice sounds squeaky to you. You wonder if it does to him. “Are you busy right now?”

            “I’m not exactly splitting the atom,” he answers. “I’m over at Honor and Josh’s place in Boston and there’s some hold up with the turkey.”

            “Oh?” This gives you pause. Somehow the assumption that there was an ocean dividing you gave you a sense of security. “I thought you would have been in London.”

            “I wanted to stay in London, but…” Logan pauses before forging ahead, “Odette wasn’t going to miss out on her first American Thanksgiving. I think she saw Planes, Trains, and Automobiles one too many times as a kid, so for the past month she’s been obsessed with having a perfect Thanksgiving. That’s actually what the hold up with the turkey is—she insisted on making the entire meal, and this is the first time she’s ever cooked a turkey. I guess she didn’t factor in enough time.”

            “Odette likes to cook?”

            “It’s not so much that she likes to cook as that she lives to cook,” Logan answers. “Not professionally, or anything—her parents insisted that she take part in the family business. But she cooks whenever she gets the chance, and she and I have been thinking about acquiring a couple of restaurants. It’ll let her be part of that industry in a way her parents approve of.”

            “That’s nice…” For so long, Odette has been this abstract specter in your life. It’s weird thinking about her as a real person with interests. And it’s really weird to think how much Logan’s life has changed in the last year.

            Logan clears his throat. “Not that I’m not happy to hear from you,” he says, “but I get the feeling you didn’t call me to discuss Odette’s hobbies.”

            “Right,” you say quickly. “Are you—are you alone right now?”

            “Ye-es…” Logan says curiously. “Josh is helping Odette with the cooking, and my mom and Honor have the unenviable task of conversing with my dad. What’s going on? Are you okay?”

            “Yeah, I’m fine,” you assure him. “It’s just—I kind of have big news for you.”

            And then you tell him. It takes a while, but eventually he realizes you’re not making some weird joke.

            “I—I don’t understand,” he says. “You’ve had—you’ve had a year to tell me. You could have picked up the phone at any point.”

            “I know,” you say. “I should have told you earlier; I’m sorry.”

            “You’re sorry?” Logan barks harsh laughter. “Christ sakes, Rory—you’ve got to be fucking kidding me!” You hear the click of the door, and you realize he’s stepped outside to distance himself from his family. “You knew about this back last fall? Before I got married? Why didn’t you tell me?”

            It’s a question that you have to answer with a question. “Would you still have married her?” you ask.

            Logan doesn’t say anything for a while. “I don’t know,” he finally answers. “God,” he mutters to himself, “what a mess.”

            This stings. “She’s not a mess,” you correct him. “She’s a baby, and her name’s Victoria.”

            “That’s not what I meant—you know that’s not what I meant…” He sounds tired. “And you don’t get to act like I’m the bad person here, not when you kept the fact that I was a father from me for twelve months.”

            “If I’d told you, it would have put your marriage in jeopardy,” you answer.

            “And telling me now doesn’t put it in jeopardy now?”

            “So I shouldn’t have told you at all?” you demand.

            “No, you should have told me twelve months ago!” Logan explodes. “Then I could have helped you out financially and gone to some doctor’s appointments and generally been a part of my daughter’s life!” He takes a deep breath. “I can’t talk about this with you right now. I need to go help my wife; she deserves at least one perfect Thanksgiving before I drop this on her. I’ll call you later.” Then, without even waiting for your goodbye, he hangs up the phone.

             Well, that didn’t go great, but you’re not sure what you were expecting. At least he knows now.

            You flop on the bed and replay the conversation over and over again. At some point, you have an incoming call from Paris, but you ignore it. You can’t deal with Paris right now.

            You hear your grandma’s arrival downstairs, and soon she joins you upstairs so she can coo over her great-grandchild and show off the couture infant clothing she bought. It takes tremendous effort to pretend you care about all the frilly pink clothing that Victoria’s just going to outgrow in two weeks.

            “Doesn’t she look darling?” your grandma asks as she ties a pink Pilli Carrera bonnet under Vicky’s chin. “Have you ever seen anyone as sweet as this angel right here?”

            Eventually your mom joins the two of you. This seems like as good a time as any, so you take a deep breath and tell them about Logan. The whole thing. The smile slips off your grandma’s face and your mom’s face gets that stony look she has when she’s upset, but you keep on going, partly because it’s a relief to finally get this off your chest and partly because you suspect a horde of Huntzberger attorneys might descend upon the house at any moment.

            When you finish, your mom blinks a few times and says, “wow.”

            Your grandma has a different reaction. Once she fully understands the details, she surges from her seat, whips out her cell phone, and begins scrolling through contacts. “I’m calling Charlie Owens,” she announces.

            You shoot your mom a confused look, but she doesn’t reciprocate. She’s still staring at you. “I don’t understand…” she says, but the rest of her sentence is drowned out by the voicemail message your grandmother is leaving Charlie Owens in a syrupy sweet voice.

            “Charlie, this is Emily Gilmore. I hope you and Beth are having a lovely Thanksgiving. I’m sorry to call you on a holiday, but a pressing issue has just come to my attention and I really think I should consult Richard’s favorite attorney about it. If you would give me a call back at this number when you have a moment, I would appreciate it. Ta!” Your grandma sits back down, crosses her legs, and places her hands on her knee. “Charlie Owens is one of Richard’s Whiffenpoof friends,” she explains to you. “He specializes in family law, and Richard always thought he was talented—as a lawyer, not as a singer,” she clarifies.

            “Mom,” you say cautiously, “are you okay?”

            Your mom flinches, as if she was lost in thought. She looks past you as she speaks. “Um, yeah—I guess I’m just a little confused. Because even though a lot of this past year has been a blur of Harvey Weinstein accusations and whatever the hell covfefe was, I’m pretty sure I remember you telling me that you’d told Logan.”

            “I’m sorry I lied to you—”

            “But why should you be?” your mom demands with a hysterical strain to her voice. “We live in a post-truth world, right? That’s what all those op-eds I never get around to reading say!”

            Your grandma rolls her eyes. “Really, Lorelai, you’re being very dramatic.”

            Your mom purses her lips. “Mom, no offense, but could you please leave us alone for a minute? I’d like to speak to my daughter privately.”

            Your grandmother looks like offense was, in fact, taken, but when you repeat your mom’s request, she gets up.

            “Fine,” she agrees, striding to the door. “But we’re all having a nice long chat about this later.”

            Once your grandmother has shut the door behind her, your mom shakes her head. “Kid,” she sighs, “what were you thinking?”

            “I’m sorry I lied to you,” you say. “I kept on putting off telling Logan and then the longer I did, the worse it got and…” you trail off.

            “I guess I can understand that part,” you mom admits, “but I’m not so clear on where the ‘lying to Lorelai’ part comes in.”

             “You kept asking me if I’d told him, and…I don’t know.” You’d think after all the time you’d rehearsed this conversation, you’d have a better answer. “I didn’t want you to know that I was too chicken to call Logan up, I guess? I’m sorry; it was stupid.”

            “It certainly wasn’t the behavior of someone who got a 1500 on the PSAT,” your mom agrees. She pats the spot on the bed next to her, and you plunk yourself down there. “I know that you’re not a kid anymore,” she says, hugging you close to her, “and you’ve got your own life and your own secrets going on, and I guess that’s how it has to be since the hospital nixed my plan to sew use together at the hip…”

            “It would have made clothes shopping difficult,” you point out.

            “…but there’s a difference between omitting things and lying to me, hon,” your mom continues. “And this was a big thing to lie about.”

            “I know…”

            “So,” your mom says, straightening up, “the next time you have a kid and don’t tell the father…?”

            You don’t foresee that happening anytime soon, but you pledge not to lie to your mom about it again.

            “And also,” your mom adds, “don’t forget that you’re obligated to tell me the big news before you tell grandma.”

            “Right,” you agree.

            Just then, your phone vibrates again. It’s Logan.

            “You want me to give you some privacy?” your mom offers.

            You shake your head and press “accept.” You mom snuggles close to you so she can hear Logan.

            “—Odette wants to see Victoria,” Logan says as soon as you pick up.

            You exchange confused looks with your mom. “Excuse me?”

            “Odette knew I was hiding something,” Logan backtracks. “As soon as I walked into the kitchen, she knew; she’s good at reading people. And I couldn’t lie to her. She wants to meet Victoria—and you.”

            No offense to Odette, but you can’t say the feeling is mutual. “She knows everything?”

            “Everything you told me,” Logan confirms. “She’s taking it pretty well. She says she’s not that surprised that I was cheating on her, but since I promise it’s over between us, she thinks we can work through it. She says our marriage should at least be able to outlast Russell Brand and Katy Perry’s.”

            “Is that the new benchmark?” your mom whispers. You elbow her to keep her quiet.

            “That’s great that she’s so understanding…” you tell Logan. Your words sound false even to you, but mostly you’re just so surprised that Odette’s taking it this way. “But you said she wants to meet Victoria?”

            “We want to co-parent,” Logan announces. “Odette and I want to be an active part of my daughter’s life. I’m surprised but—I think Odette’s actually excited about this. She’s talking about teaching Victoria to bake.”

            You look at the cradle across the room. “I think she’s still a little young for an Easy Bake Oven…” you point out.

            “Not now but—Rory, this is our chance to be good parents! We can make sure Victoria is provided for and has the opportunity to chase her passions!”

            Your heart twinges when you realize that the “we” in Logan’s sentence is “Logan and Odette,” not “Logan and Rory.”

            “We have a lot to talk about it,” Logan is saying. “All three of us have a lot to talk about. We want to come tonight.”

            “Uh—just a minute.” You mute your phone and turn to your mom. “They want to come tonight!”

            “I heard!” your mom exclaims. “Christ—are you sure Logan didn’t actually marry Angelina Jolie? She’s practically already adopted Vicky!”

            “What do I do?” you ask your mom. “It’s not like I can say they can’t come—Logan’s her dad!”

            “That's true,” your mom admits, “but I think that you should talk with a lawyer before you meet with them in person. Logan’s probably already lawyered up.”

            “Yeah, but if I say he can’t see his daughter after keeping her a secret from him for months, he definitely will lawyer up,” you point out.

            It’s your call, Rory.

           Put Logan Off   OR  invite Logan and Odette over tonight

Chapter Text

               You, April, and your mom settle on the relocated couch to continue your annual “Thanksgiving Scenes in Christmas Movies” marathon.

               “So, what is this?” April asks, looking through the stack of DVDs next to the TV. “A Christmas movie marathon?”

               “No, no,” your mom corrects her. “A Thanksgiving marathon.”

               April picks up a copy of The Santa Clause and raises an eyebrow. “Not seeing much Thanksgiving in these titles…”

               “The Thanksgiving genre is underserved,” your mom explains.

               “You've got your Hannah and Her Sisters, your Comfort and Joys, but not much else,” you interpose.

               “But what there are a lot of,” your mom continues, “are Thanksgiving scenes in Christmas movies.”

               “Ah,” April says, “I get it. So you just watch the Thanksgiving scenes?”

               Your mom nods, although you feel it’s only fair to warn April that inevitably you get so tired of going back and forth from the couch to the television every ten minutes, so then you wind up giving up halfway through and watching the entirety of one of the Christmas movies.

               “But that won’t happen this year!” your mom insists as she navigates through Holiday Inn’s scene selection.

                You’ve just started The Santa Clause when you hear a cry from the kitchen.

               “Lemon pepper!” Sookie yelps.

               “The eagle flies at midnight!” your mom yells back.

               Soon you and Luke extract the problem from a hyperventilating Sookie: she’s forgotten the lemon pepper that she needs for her asparagus. Unfortunately, lemon pepper is the only spice Luke doesn’t have on his gigantic spice rack.

               You and April volunteer to get some.

               “Oh, thank you!” Sookie cries, folding you both into a tight hug. She releases you and informs you that she has some at her house, but since it’s kind of a madhouse right now, it might be easier to find it at the Dragonfly.

               You and April head outside, and April looks at you expectantly. “Sookie’s or the inn?” she asks you.

               Your choice, Rory:

               Sookie’s house     OR    the Dragonfly

Chapter Text

            “Paris,” you laugh, “this photo is nothing!”

            “Nothing?” Paris is so loud now you have to hold the phone away from your ear. “Two smoothies, Rory! He’s holding two smoothies! He got her a smoothie!”

            “Or,” you point out, “she bought her own smoothie and he’s just holding it for her while she picks up after her dog. And even if he did buy her a smoothie, that’s not proof they’re involved. Maybe they’re just friends or they’re working together on a project or maybe he’s just trying to network.”

            Paris doesn’t find your suggestions compelling. “Jesus, Rory, you’re so bad at putting the clues together you couldn’t solve an episode of Columbo!”

            “Paris—”

            “—and because you’re so bad at making deductions, I’ll clarify that comment for you—”

            “—Paris—”

            “—Columbo’s the show where they reveal the culprit right away, so if you can’t solve an episode of Columbo—”

            “—Paris! I get it!” you cut in. “But this photo doesn’t prove anything! And even if Doyle is sleeping with Lena Dunham—and I don’t think he is,” you hasten to clarify, “you’re the unsinkable Paris Geller! You shouldn’t be intimidated by anyone, no matter how many Emmys they’ve won!”

              There’s a pause on the other line, and then Paris replies, “She doesn’t have any Emmys. Just Golden Globes and the other television trash awards.”

            “Well, there you go,” you reply. If belittling the Golden Globes will diffuse a Paris freakout, that’s fine by you. “You’ve got an MD and JD and you’re the queen of the surrogate industry, and she all she’s got are some lousy Golden Globes.”

            “You’re right,” Paris replies, sounding less hysterical now. “Let Doyle go slumming with a Director’s Guild of America winner—I don’t care! I’m not just going to sit around singing the blues like I’m in some Annette Hanshaw song! I don’t need Doyle! And screw Lena Dunham!”

            “Right!” you chime in even though, honestly, you’ve got nothing against Lena Dunham.

            “Thanks,” Paris sighs. “Now I need to get back to dinner or Doyle’s going to be suspicious.”

            “—wait, you’re with Doyle right now?”

            “I don’t know if you’ve noticed,” Paris replies in the vocal equivalent of an eyeroll, “but today happens to be Thanksgiving. Doyle and I have decided to be adults and celebrate all major holidays together so our children don’t wind up emotionally stunted. Did you know that according—”

            You cut Paris off before she can rattle off whatever statistic she has queued. “If you’re with Doyle right now, why didn’t you just ask him about Lena Dunham?”

            There’s a pause. “Wow, that’s a great idea, Rory,” Paris says mockingly. “Ask my ex about his sex life? I don’t know why I didn’t think of that before! Do you ever call up Logan and ask him what his wife’s kinks are? Ask him how often French heiresses like their husbands to go down on them? Get all the details—is it shaved down there, does she—”

            “Goodbye Paris,” you say firmly and hang up.

            No, you and Logan have never discussed his sex life with Odette. In fact, you haven’t even spoken with him since his wedding…except, wait, that’s not totally true. You’ve spoken with him exactly once since the wedding. And it wasn’t exactly a candid conversation, considering you sort of told Logan a massive lie during it.

            It had been a month ago.

            You met up with Jess last month to discuss your book. The two of you stood in a grocery store near your apartment in New York City, Jess talking about your idea to cut out chapter 7 while you tossed packages of diapers into your shopping cart. Victoria watched the diaper-basketball delightedly, comfortable in her stroller that Jess was pushing, since your hands were full with the shopping cart.

            And then the two of you ran smack dab into Logan.

            Logan wasn’t supposed to be in New York City. Logan wasn’t even supposed to be the kind of person who went to grocery stores. But there he was: in a grocery store in New York that was also occupied by his ex-girlfriend, her ex-boyfriend, and Logan’s daughter. That Logan didn’t know anything about.

            ‘Awkward’ didn’t go far enough. No word went far enough. You could sit Noah Webster and Samuel Johnson into a room together, ask them to find the perfect word, and after ten hours they would give up and advise you to throw seven “extremelys” in front of “awkward.”

            It was like the end of Great Expectations, the original end before Wilkie Collins convinced Charles to lighten it up, when Pip and Estella saw each other after all those years. Only this grocery store scene also had a secret lovechild thrown in which, come to think of it, was also pretty Dickensian.

            The three of you stood there in the hygiene aisle of the corner store, staring at each other as Kenny G. softly played through the speaker system. Jess was wearing a weathered Voivod t-shirt. You were wearing a faded Hartford sweatshirt you’d selected early that day specifically because you wouldn’t mind if Victoria vomited on it.

Lo            gan was wearing what looked like an Armani suit and a silk tie. In a grocery store.

            You were pretty sure you had holes in your jeans. And not the classy, designer holes that the jeans came with. Real holes that came from not being able to afford a trip to the GAP.

            After all these years, Logan’s emotions were easy to read. He looked from you to Jess, the frown on his face deepening from confusion to annoyance when recognition clicked into place. Then he looked at the stroller, and confusion returned, accompanied by a good measure of shock.

            “Logan!” you’d blurted. “What a surprise! What are you doing in New York?”

            He gave you some answer—something about a gala down the block and an emergency run for aspirin. His gaze flicked to you, he shot you a fake smile, and then his gaze returned to the stroller.

            Jess remained silent. Maybe he’d nodded to Logan. You weren’t sure.

            “So,” Logan said eventually, indicating the stroller, “aren’t you going to introduce me?”

            “This is Victoria,” you said. And then, for some stupid reason, maybe because Jess was there or maybe because Logan probably had to return to whatever event he’d come from or maybe because you just didn’t want to have this discussion in your lumpy Hartford sweatshirt with someone who had just stepped out of a GQ photoshoot, you added, “Jess’s daughter.”

            As far as lies went, it was a pretty credible one. Jess, after all, was the one with his hands gripping the stroller. And all babies Victoria’s age essentially looked the same.

            No, the only giveaway was the surprise that washed over Jess’s face, but even in surprise, Jess’s facial expression was subtle. Logan, who had only met Jess once before, probably didn’t register the flash of his eyes or the tensing of his jaw.

            “Mazel tov,” Logan said to Jess, who grunted his thanks. “You a family man now? Where’s the missus?” Logan theatrically craned his neck, perhaps expecting Victoria’s mom to pop out from behind the Charmin display.

            “We’re still working things out,” Jess said cryptically. “She’s involved, though.”

            Logan nodded in polite apathy before shifting his attention to you. “How’s the book going?”

            You gave a vague answer, mentioned that Jess was helping you, and then, after a couple minutes of stilted conversation, Logan announced he had to run back to the event.

            Jess waited until Logan was back on the street before he said anything.

            “Luke said you’d told him,” Jess announced, lifting his arms from the stroller handles to fold them across his chest. “He said Logan was figuring out if he wanted to be involved.”

            “I needed more time,” you said, feeling as if you wanted to sink into the grocery store’s linoleum floor.

            Lorelai would have jumped on the “more time” comment. (“More time? How much time did you need? Were you planning on letting him know he had a daughter before she went to prom? Before the daddy daughter dance at her wedding? Before she ordered off Denny’s seniors menu?”) Jess let the opportunity pass, instead asking, “So you lied to Luke?”

            “He wouldn’t have liked me keeping this from Logan,” you said softly.

            “And your mom? You lied to her, too?”

            You nodded.

            “When are you going to tell Logan?” Jess asked.

            You didn’t have an answer.

            Jess adjusted his question. “Are you going to tell Logan?”

            At least this got an answer out of you. You nodded your head vigorously.      “I’ll tell him,” you promised. “Just—until I do, don’t tell Luke, please?” You finally met his eyes. He frowned, but agreed.

            You were grateful when he turned the subject back to your book, and the two of you didn’t speak about Logan again.

            That was a month ago. And you still haven’t mustered up the courage to tell Logan the truth. You can’t count the times your index finger has hovered over “Huntzberger, Logan” in your cell’s contacts. But you’ve never actually pressed “call.”

            You open up your contacts and begin scrolling towards the H’s. Then you stuff your cellphone in your pocket. Then you take your cell phone out. Then you put it back in your pocket.

            Then your cell phone lights up. Paris again. Only now she’s texting.

            [What does HNG mean?] she writes.

            You know from previous experience that ignoring Paris’s texts just results in angry phone calls. You sigh and text back [Why are you texting me? Go back to dinner!]

            Paris is a crazily fast texter, and within seconds she has responded: [I am at dinner. But Doyle’s going on about this stupid project he’s working on. Why does the world need another Spider-man movie?]. A couple of seconds later, a second text pops up: [I took what you said to heart and started an online dating profile and I despair for the next generation. If these are the idiots who are procreating, by 2050 full sentences will be a thing of the past. It’s all acronyms and spelling mistakes.] Then she follows it up with another text: [Where do you find your men?]

            That’s easy. [I don’t.]

            [Lucky for you that you live in a romcom with men falling out of the sky for you. But the rest of us need to work for our romantic partners and my vibrator broke last week. Is speed dating still a thing?]

            [I don’t know. Probably.]

            [Do you have anyone you can fix me up with?]

            [Not really.]

            [Unless you’re living in a convent or a prison, you must have SOMEONE you can set me up with! You don’t know ANY guys?!]

            You roll your eyes. Who does Paris think you are, a yenta? [I do freelance writing remotely. The only guys I see lately are at my mommy and me sessions. So if you want to date a married gay guy with kids, I guess I’ve got a few contenders.]

            [You don’t know ANY single straight men? ANY AT ALL?]

            You toy with responding “I know Doyle,” but decide Paris would not take that well. Instead, you text, [Not really. I eat. I sleep. I pump. I freelance. I work on my book. I quit working on the Bachelorette once I found out I was pregnant.] You pause, as someone occurs to you. [There’s my ex, Paul. He lives not too far from you, and I know he’s single.] Paul always liked Paris, but since everyone in your life has Paul-amnesia, you can’t imagine Paris will be interested. But at least if you suggest someone who’s technically eligible, maybe she’ll get off your back about it.

            [Really?] Paris texts back. [You’d be okay with me dating your ex-boyfriend?]

            [Sure] you reply. [We broke up a year ago. I don’t mind.]

            [You’re not just saying that?] Paris texts back. [Because your friendship is important to me and I don’t want anything to jeopardize it.]

            You’re surprised that Paris is taking Paul so seriously as a prospect. [I really don’t mind.]

            For once, Paris doesn’t respond right away. It takes a full twenty seconds for her next text to arrive. When it does, it reads [What about Jess?]

            You stare at the text. Paris wants you to set her up with Jess? Paris and Jess?

            You try to think of every time they’ve interacted. Once back in high school—discussing literature while eating that Luke’s Diner food Jess had claimed was Luke’s idea. One of your birthday parties a few years ago—you remember Paris, Doyle, and Jess talking about Occupy Wall Street in the corner of a noisy Brooklyn bar. And once when Paris was going to Philadelphia for a conference, you recommended she check out Truncheon and meet up with Jess while she was there.

            Paris and Jess. It’s weird thinking of them together, like two separate parts of your life colliding. But logically, if you don’t have a problem with Paul, who you dated for three years and broke up with you a year ago, you shouldn’t have a problem with Paris dating Jess, who you dated for six months 15 years ago.

            Still, it’s a different situation. Paul’s out of your life now, but Jess is still in it. And he’s family now…It does make you feel weird.

            But is that a good reason to say no?

            You worry that you’ve been mulling over that dilemma for too long. You hastily send a text reminding Paris that Jess lives in Philadelphia. Any relationship would be long distance.

            [I don’t mind.] Paris texts back. [I have to travel a lot, anyway.]

            What do you want to do, Rory? Set Paris up with Jess OR refuse to set Paris up with Jess.

Chapter Text

            “This photo wouldn’t exactly torpedo Gary Hart’s presidential campaign,” you point out to her, “but if you really want to know, I guess I can do a little Facebook stalking.”

            “I’m not asking one of the Pretty Little Liars to investigate this, Rory!” Paris snaps. “Get off social media and pick up the phone and call him! It shouldn’t be too hard to be subtle—Doyle loves to namedrop.”

            You wonder if Paris has actually ever seen an episode of Pretty Little Liars. “Okay, fine,” you agree. “I’ll give him a call tomorrow.”

            Paris squawks at that, but you finally convince her that calling Doyle on Thanksgiving to probe him about his love life wouldn’t exactly fall into the Oxford English Dictionary’s definition of “subtle.”

            “Call me as soon as you know something,” Paris demands and hangs up.

            You know Paris told you that social media wouldn’t cut it, but there’s no harm in checking Doyle’s Facebook page beforehand. It might give you some information that will help you direct the conversation tomorrow, and Doyle’s very active on social media, much more than you are. You’re not great with Facebook, let alone the assortment of other apps you’re expected to maintain profiles on.

            Before you type “Doyle McMaster” into your Facebook app, you take a minute to look at your feed. Some pictures of Dean, his kids, and Clara holding up construction paper turkeys. A video Brad uploaded of his solo in a touring production of Something Rotten. A “Which Musical Key Signature Are You?” Buzzfeed personality quiz uploaded by Tana (she got B-flat Major: Nature Boy, apparently). A picture of Kyle brandishing his hook surrounded by laughing women with the caption “One Monica short of Mambo #5! #ahoymates #clublife.”

            And then you stop scrolling because you see that you have a notification. Lane posted a photo on your wall.

            And then you’re horrified because the picture is of Victoria. You immediately know when the picture’s from; Lane stopped by yesterday while you were arriving at your mom’s to give Vicky a onesie with “Rock Star” rhinestone’d on it. It was a cute onesie. Victoria is a cute baby. Put them together and you got a cute photo. Under normal circumstances, you’d be delighted to see this photo.

            But there’s a problem: you still haven’t told Logan about Victoria. And while you decided last year to de-friend Logan for your own sanity and mental health, you still have plenty of common friends who could contact Logan about the photo. You saw pictures from Logan’s wedding because Colin and Finn posted pictures of themselves by the open bar. Heck, just now you had been about to spy on Doyle’s Facebook for Paris.

            And yeah, you know you should have told Logan by now. And you were going to. But first you decided to wait a few months, because you read an article about how miscarriages were so common in the first trimester. And by then, Logan was married and off on his honeymoon cruise around the world. And then you were so busy with the book and being pregnant and…

            And you’ve really been dreading this conversation. Back at that inn, you knew, just knew that cutting Logan out of your life was the healthy decision. It felt like you were finally moving on, finally out of this rut. And calling Logan means…falling back in the rut. Or maybe it doesn’t; he’s married, and you keep telling yourself you’ve moved on. But you don’t want to risk it.

            But your mom thinks you’ve told him. Luke thinks you’ve told him. Your grandma thinks you’ve told him (thank god she’s cut off ties with most of her old social circle, or else you never would have been able to get away with that). Lane thinks you’ve told him, which is probably why she felt she could post the photo in the first place. The only person who knows you haven’t told him is Jess

            It had been a month ago.

            You met up with Jess last month to discuss your book. The two of you stood in a grocery store near your apartment in New York City, Jess talking about your idea to cut out chapter 7 while you tossed packages of diapers into your shopping cart. Victoria watched the diaper-basketball delightedly, comfortable in her stroller that Jess was pushing, since your hands were full with the shopping cart.

            And then the two of you ran smack dab into Logan.

            Logan wasn’t supposed to be in New York City. Logan wasn’t even supposed to be the kind of person who went to grocery stores. But there he was: in a grocery store in New York that was also occupied by his ex-girlfriend, her ex-boyfriend, and Logan’s daughter. That Logan didn’t know anything about.

            ‘Awkward’ didn’t go far enough. No word went far enough. You could sit Noah Webster and Samuel Johnson into a room together, ask them to find the perfect word, and after ten hours they would give up and advise you to throw seven “extremelys” in front of “awkward.”

It was like the end of Great Expectations, the original end before Wilkie Collins convinced Charles to lighten it up, when Pip and Estella saw each other after all those years. Only this grocery store scene also had a secret lovechild thrown in which, come to think of it, was also pretty Dickensian.

            The three of you stood there in the hygiene aisle of the corner store, staring at each other as Kenny G. softly played through the speaker system. Jess was wearing a weathered Voivod t-shirt. You were wearing a faded Hartford sweatshirt you’d selected early that day specifically because you wouldn’t mind if Victoria vomited on it.

            Logan was wearing what looked like an Armani suit and a silk tie. In a grocery store.

            You were pretty sure you had holes in your jeans. And not the classy, designer holes that the jeans came with. Real holes that came from not being able to afford a trip to the GAP.

            After all these years, Logan’s emotions were easy to read. He looked from you to Jess, the frown on his face deepening from confusion to annoyance when recognition clicked into place. Then he looked at the stroller, and confusion returned, accompanied by a good measure of shock.

            “Logan!” you’d blurted. “What a surprise! What are you doing in New York?”

            He gave you some answer—something about a gala down the block and an emergency run for aspirin. His gaze flicked to you, he shot you a fake smile, and then his gaze returned to the stroller.

            Jess remained silent. Maybe he’d nodded to Logan. You weren’t sure.

            “So,” Logan said eventually, indicating the stroller, “aren’t you going to introduce me?”

            “This is Victoria,” you said. And then, for some stupid reason, maybe because Jess was there or maybe because Logan probably had to return to whatever event he’d come from or maybe because you just didn’t want to have this discussion in your lumpy Hartford sweatshirt with someone who had just stepped out of a GQ photoshoot, you added, “Jess’s daughter.”

            As far as lies went, it was a pretty credible one. Jess, after all, was the one with his hands gripping the stroller. And all babies Victoria’s age essentially looked the same.

            No, the only giveaway was the surprise that washed over Jess’s face, but even in surprise, Jess’s facial expression was subtle. Logan, who had only met Jess once before, probably didn’t register the flash of his eyes or the tensing of his jaw.

            “Mazel tov,” Logan said to Jess, who grunted his thanks. “You a family man now? Where’s the missus?” Logan theatrically craned his neck, perhaps expecting Victoria’s mom to pop out from behind the Charmin display.

            “We’re still working things out,” Jess said cryptically. “She’s involved, though.”

            Logan nodded in polite apathy before shifting his attention to you. “How’s the book going?”

            You gave a vague answer, mentioned that Jess was helping you, and then, after a couple minutes of stilted conversation, Logan announced he had to run back to the event.

            Jess waited until Logan was back on the street before he said anything.

            “Luke said you’d told him,” Jess announced, lifting his arms from the stroller handles to fold them across his chest. “He said Logan was figuring out if he wanted to be involved.”

            “I needed more time,” you said, feeling as if you wanted to sink into the grocery store’s linoleum floor.

            Lorelai would have jumped on the “more time” comment. (“More time? How much time did you need? Were you planning on letting him know he had a daughter before she went to prom? Before the daddy daughter dance at her wedding? Before she ordered off Denny’s seniors menu?”) Jess let the opportunity pass, instead asking, “So you lied to Luke?”

            “He wouldn’t have liked me keeping this from Logan,” you said softly.

            “And your mom? You lied to her, too?”

            You nodded.

            “When are you going to tell Logan?” Jess asked.

            You didn’t have an answer.

            Jess adjusted his question. “Are you going to tell Logan?”

            At least this got an answer out of you. You nodded your head vigorously.      “I’ll tell him,” you promised. “Just—until I do, don’t tell Luke, please?” You finally met his eyes. He frowned, but agreed.

            You were grateful when he turned the subject back to your book, and the two of you didn’t speak about Logan again.

            You should have just told Logan. Then you wouldn’t be in this mess.

            This is not how Logan’s going to find out that he’s a father. Not from a friend sending him a Facebook photo. You’ve got to get rid of this photo. What do you do, Rory?

            Delete the photo yourself   OR    call up Lane and ask her to delete the photo

Chapter Text

            “I guess tonight works…” you say reluctantly, “but I’m out in Stars Hollow and we’re doing this big Thanksgiving thing…”

            “We’ll be there in two hours,” Logan ignores your hint that tonight really isn’t a good night and hangs up on you.

            “Two hours…can we clear the house by two hours…” your mom hops up from the bed and begins pacing with frenetic energy. “I think I hear Liz and TJ downstairs now. So we convince Sookie to start dinner as soon as Jackson and the kids get here, and then we do pie right after that and then we figure out a way to shepherd them out—maybe we can ask Jess to do a reading from that Truncheon Writers’ Collective poetry collection he gave Luke a few years ago because Rory, that poetry is so boring. Whatever happened to a good rhyme? And last year Luke and I went to visit Jess in Philly and they were having this art film screening and those are just home movies! I could have just brought that video of you trying to hula hoop when you were six and claimed it was art! I’m telling you, Jess’s friends are insufferable! It was like hanging out with the cast of Rent! One of them showed a film called ‘Corporate Mind Slave’ and even though my watch told me it was only twelve minutes long, it felt like 525,600 minutes of heavy-handed symbolism.

            Your mom’s rant is losing focus so you remind her that you’re short on time.

            “Right,” she says, “sorry. So everyone’s tired from turkey and pie and then Jess recites bad freeform poetry, everyone gets bored and sleepy and wants to leave and right after the last guest leaves, Logan and Odette swing in.”

            You shake your head. “Last year’s Thanksgiving, TJ and Liz stayed for five hours.”

            “Yeah,” your mom admits, “but that was just because they brought that Godfather-themed Monopoly, and then halfway through the game Luke said he’d never seen any of the movies, so naturally we had to watch the first one…”

            “The year before they stayed for six hours,” you point out.

            “So see—they’re getting better at not overstaying their welcome!” you mom says optimistically. “This year it’ll be an all-time low!”

              You raise an eyebrow skeptically.

            “Okay,” your mom drops her shoulders, “there’s no way we’re getting them out of here before Logan and Odette show up.” She finally stops pacing. “So what do we do?”

            “I guess I have to tell them…” you admit.

            You tell Luke first. You ask to speak with him privately, which means stepping into your old room, and explain the whole situation to him.

            Luke takes a long time to respond, and you suspect it’s because there are so many warring emotions. Luke’s almost blind approval of you. Luke’s hurt at being lied to. Luke’s low opinion of Logan. Luke’s own experience of Anna hiding April from him. Finally, he just pats you on the shoulder. “It’s good that you told him,” he says.  

            When you walk into the living room, your mother is whacking an empty aluminum pie pan with a ladle, yelling that there’s an announcement. You realize that’s your cue, and you step over to her.

            “They’re all yours,” she whispers, and heads over to the kitchen archway where Luke and Sookie are standing.

            “Hey everyone,” you say, your fingers pulling at your sweater sleeves. “Before we eat, I need to say something.”

            “What’s goin’ on?” TJ demands through a mouth of pumpkin spice caramel corn. He turns to Liz and jerks his thumb towards you. “She knocked up again or somethin’?”

            Liz shushes him, and your grandma, sitting primly in the chair in the corner, regards him sourly.

            “So all of you have met Vicky,” you say, “and I know some of you are still in the dark about who Vicky’s father is…” At least, they’re ostensibly still in the dark, because you only told a handful of people it was Logan. You’re not sure how tightlipped your mom and Luke have been about that. “And it’s kind of a complicated situation,” you continue, “so up until today the father was in the dark, too.”

            Your entire audience is riveted. Sookie and Jackson’s kids have even looked up from their smartphones.

            Liz and TJ turn towards Jess and look at him expectantly. Jess rolls his eyes, exasperated. “It’s not me,” he informs them.

            “No,” you shake your head quickly. “It’s not Jess. It’s my ex-boyfriend—”

            “Paul?” April asks, which earns a round of “Paul who?” from several members of the audience.

            “No, it’s not Paul,” you answer. “It’s my ex-boyfriend Logan. Logan Huntzberger.”

            April looks confused. “But didn’t you, like, date him in college?”

            You don’t really want to get into the details of your love life with April right now, so you try to make your explanation light on content. “Yes, I did date him in college. And then we started seeing each other a couple of years ago. And then we broke it off because he got engaged to another woman. And then I found out I was pregnant. And then he got married to that other woman. And today I told him that he is Victoria’s dad.” You’ve knitted your fingers together while giving that explanation, and you flex them against your stomach. “I’m telling you all this because Logan and his wife, Odette, are coming over in a couple hours. Any questions?”

            “Oh, honey,” you can hear your mom murmur, “big mistake.”

            But it’s too late. TJ’s hand has shot into the air. Without waiting for you to acknowledge him, he launches into his question. “This guy—this is that Rockefeller guy you dated?”

            “Huntzberger,” you correct him.

            “I mean Rockefeller like he’s loaded,” TJ clarifies. “This guy’s one of them’s got more money than they knows what to do with, right?”

            You quickly admit that’s the case before Jackson asks a question: “Do you want us to leave before they get here?”

            Frankly, the answer is yes, but you can’t exactly say that, but it doesn’t matter anyway, because TJ interrupts your noncommittal answer half way through.

            “So this Hunsberger guy—”

            “—Huntzberger—” your grandma corrects him, with a harsh emphasis on the “t.”

            “—how rich we talkin’ here?” TJ wants to know. “Like, could he buy his own island?”

            “Um, probably,” you suppose. “A small, uninhabited one, I guess…” You vaguely recall the planning of a Life and Death Brigade stunt that involved someone’s personally owned island.

            “Could he buy a life-size model of the Millennium Falcon?” Tyler, Sookie and Jackson’s youngest, demands.

            “Sure,” you shrug your shoulders.

            “Could he buy a hundred horses?” Martha asks with wide eyes.

            “I guess.”

            “Could he buy all the horses?” Martha follows up.

            “All the horses in the world?” You feel like this Q&A session is getting off topic. “No, I don’t think so.”

            “Could he buy all the men?” your mom calls out from the sidelines. “To put Humpty Dumpty back together again?”

            You don’t bother answering that one.

            “Oh!” Sookie hops up and down. “Could he buy La Bernardin? Because I have always wanted to eat there, but their wait list is so long—”

            “I don’t know,” you tell Sookie. You turn to the group at large. “When I said you could ask questions, I more meant—”

            “Could he buy an android?” Davey asks. “Like a human-sized android?”

            “Could he buy one of those floating beds?” Liz asks.

            “Could he buy Disney?” Doula asks.

            “Could he buy Disney’s cryogenically frozen remains?” Jess calls out.

            “How many third world countries could he feed if he wanted to?” April demands.

            “Okay, guys,” you raise your voice over the babble of questions, “keep in mind I don’t have Logan’s financial records with me! I’ll take one more question!”

            Jackson’s hand shoots into the air and you point to him.

            “Are you sure you don’t want us to leave before he gets here?” he asks.

            You look at your mom, who shrugs.

            Your choice Rory: ask the guests to leave before Logan arrives OR tell the guests to stay

Chapter Text

            “It’s Thanksgiving,” you remind him. “Odette just made that huge dinner and we’ve got a full house. I don’t think this is the right day.”

            “Then when is a right day, Rory?” Logan shoots back. “I can’t just sit around waiting to be a parent to my daughter until you decide it’s convenient for you!”

            You can tell Logan’s angry, so you try to point out as calmly as possible that a Thanksgiving party with a dozen other attendees is not the right environment to discuss a parenting plan.

            Your mom mumbles to herself that it’ll be like Home for the Holidays.

            Logan eventually sullenly admits that today isn’t the best day. You promise to call him back, hang up the phone, and breathe a sigh of relief.

            “You know,” your mom says, sounding faintly amused, “I kind of wish Logan had come. Because honestly, some part of me has always wanted to see him and Jess get punched, and putting them in the room together in this context—there’s like a 50/50 chance one of them punches the other.”

            You raise an eyebrow. “Thanks, mom, that’s very helpful.” You get off the bed and walk to Vicky’s crib. You’re going to take her downstairs to meet everyone before dinner.

            “I mean it!” your mom continues, jumping off the bed. “I think a Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots game customized to look like Jess and Logan would fly off the shelves!”

            By this point, everyone has arrived. Vicky forms the center of the party. You, your mom, and your grandma stay with Vicky the entire evening, desperate to spend as much time with her as possible. You know that Logan and Odette can’t exactly whisk her away, since you’re Vicky’s sole legal guardian. But still, this seems like valuable time.

            Sookie announces it’s time for dinner, and Vicky’s looking drowsy, so you bring her upstairs. And maybe it’s the excitement of the day and maybe because your sleep schedule is so off, but you lay down on the bed, expecting to take a minute or two to clear your thoughts…and then you’re out. You wake up later to find that the chatter from downstairs has dissipated and someone has placed a throw blanket over you.

            Your phone says it’s 10:36. You must have slept all through dinner. You didn’t even wake up when your dad called you a couple of hours ago.

            You jog down the stairs to find you weren’t the only one asleep: Luke is passed out on the couch. Your mom, still awake, is cuddled next to him watching television: it’s the turkey scene in Home for the Holidays.

            “Hey, sleeping beauty,” your mom whispers to you. “You missed TJ’s renaissance themed insult comic routine he tested out on us. He used the word ‘cuckold’ a lot.

            “Why did you let me sleep through dinner?” you demand mid-yawn.

            Your mom snorts. “Because I didn’t want you to pass out in the mashed potatoes. Leftovers are in the fridge, by the way. Avoid the pie on the red plate—it’s some gross tomato pie abomination Jackson made.”

            You reheat a bowl of stuffing and settle next to your mom, watching the back half of the movie, mostly ignoring your mom’s running commentary about the relative attractiveness of Robert Downey Jr. and Dylan McDermott.

            At some point, mom informs you that she told Luke about Logan. “So the whole family knows now.”

            That, at least, is a relief.

            “Oh,” your mom adds, “and Charlie Owens called mom back and said we could drop by his office tomorrow at 11.”

            That is really a relief. So much of a relief that you’re finally able to participate in your mom’s Robert Downey Jr. versus Dylan McDermott debate, and you finish off three pieces of pie.

            Your mom adjusts in her seat, looking uncomfortable, and then shoves a hand into the couch cushions. She extracts a pumpkin spice Kit-Kat bar. “Look what the couch fairy left me!” she exclaims. “I’ll give you half if you put A Miracle on 34th Street back on.” 

            “Deal,” you agree, and you resume your movie marathon.

            You have a lot to deal with tomorrow. But for now, you push the stress away, curl up against your mom, and get lost in the movie.

            Congratulations. You have reached THE END of this path. You have a (totally meaningless) ending score of 25 (10 for coming clean to Logan, 10 for coming clean to your mom, and 5 for ending the story as you started it: watching TV with your mom).

Chapter Text

          Sookie wasn’t kidding when she called her place a madhouse. You half expect to see Chief Bromden throwing a control panel out of the window as you arrive. There’s a horrible wailing coming from the house alongside metallic bangs.

          You knock on the door three times without an answer. But there are definitely people inside: apart the wailing and the bangs, you can hear laughter and what sounds like Jackson shouting. April shrugs at you, and you try turning the knob. The front door is unlocked, and you step inside.

          “Hi—it’s Rory!” you call as you enter. “Is anyone home?”

          No one responds.

          You and April make your way through the living room, carefully avoiding the clutter littering the floor. Sookie and Jackson have only returned to their Stars Hollow home temporarily for the holidays, and it is amazing how much debris their family has managed to accumulate in the short week they have been here. Sookie and Jackson’s oldest, Davey, is slumped on the couch, video game controller in his hands. It turns out the video game is the source of the wailing; it’s a science fiction shooter, and he’s in the process of killing some ugly, shrieking alien. He succeeds in killing whatever it is and the shrieking finally stops.

          “Hey Rory,” he murmurs, not removing his eyes from the television. “My dad’s in the kitchen.”

          “I love this game!” April comments, leaning against the sofa. “What class are you playing?”

          Davey looks up, notices April for the first time, and drops the controller. His player character is immediately killed by a big, spiky alien. “CRITICAL MISSION FAILURE” pops up on the screen in red font.

          You leave April and a stuttering Davey as you enter the kitchen.

          You immediately see why Sookie decided to do her cooking in the Gilmore house. Sookie and Jackson’s kitchen is a disaster area crossed with a Jackson Pollock painting. Mushy fruit is spattered in every direction. Jackson, Martha, and Tyler stand in the center, all covered with flour.

          “Rory!” Jackson exclaims as you enter.

          This sets Martha and Tyler off. “Rory, Rory, Rory!” they shout, running around. Tyler hugs you, and soon you’re coated in flour and fruit, too.

          Jackson’s apologies are unnecessary; since becoming a mom, your tolerance for mushy food on your person has increased tenfold. You tell Jackson it’s nothing and turn to Martha and Tyler.

          “What are you Mary Berrys cooking?” you ask, and they excitedly lead you to the counter, where seven unbaked pies sit. Martha and Tyler are talking over each other, so you can’t quite discern what kind of pies they are from what Martha and Tyler are saying, but visually it looks like you’re working with two apple, two pumpkin, one blueberry, one cherry, and one—

          You frown at the last pie, which you can’t identify. You ask Jackson, and he proudly announces that the other day he came across his grandma’s recipe for a green tomato pie.

          “Really?” You eye the pie with interest, vaguely recalling some book you read in high school where the main characters had a green tomato pie. “Don’t tell my mom,” you tell Jackson, already imagining your mom’s disgusted expression upon discovering someone put tomatoes in a dessert.

          “I was planning on telling her it was apple,” Jackson says. “Green apple with weird seeds. It’s been a while since she ate an apple, right?” He claps his hands together, creating a small cloud of flour, and looks at his kids. “Okay guys, now it’s time to start the first batch baking.” Once the pumpkin pies are in the oven and Jackson announces it’s clean up time, Martha and Tyler run off before their dad can hand them a sponge.

          Jackson sighs, drops his shoulders, and begins putting away some of the ingredients strewn about the kitchen. “All those years of Barney telling them how fun clean up was, and none of it stuck…”

          You pick up a rag and wipe off the counter closest to you.

          “So what brings you by, anyway?” he asks.

          You tell him about Sookie’s crisis and he points you to the spice rack, which is about three times the size of Luke’s.

          “Are they arranged in any order?” you ask Jackson as you spot lemongrass, grains of paradise, and za’atar in a row.

          “She says they are,” Jackson replies doubtfully. “But the only logic I’ve been able to pick out so far is that wherever I try to put a spice is wrong…”

          Eventually you find lemon pepper nestled between fenugreek and epazote.

          Jackson, meanwhile, has returned to studying the kitchen’s destruction.

          “Look at this,” he sighs. “It’s going to take me hours to clean up this mess.”

          He’s not exaggerating. There are blueberries on the ceiling, which puzzles you until you see the uncapped food processor.

          Jackson sighs again, trudges to the drying rack, and removes pots and pans lying there, which, thanks to the sprayed fruit and the clouds of flour, need to be washed again. “When Victoria gets a little older, if you ever get the urge to bake with her, fight the urge,” he advises you.

          Considering your idea of a homebaked good is a Pop-Tart fresh from the toaster, you’re not overly concerned, but you thank him for the advice anyway. Then you give the disaster zone another look, feeling guilty that Jackson is stuck here cleaning this kitchen, Sookie and Luke are cooking an entire Thanksgiving feast minus the pies, and your contributions to the evening so far have been moving a few folding chairs, watching Jess do all the heavy lifting, and walking three blocks for 3.5 ounces of lemon pepper. Even Martha and Tyler have done more to contribute to the Thanksgiving meal.

          What do you want to do, Rory?

          Go back home to give Sookie the lemon pepper   OR

          Give April the lemon pepper and stay behind to help Jackson clean

Chapter Text

           You were expecting a slow day at the Dragonfly.

           You were mistaken.

           The parlor is filled with guests, and you swear you can hear about ten different languages being spoken at once. A peek into the dining room informs you that the inn is currently at capacity.

           “It’s these foreigners,” Michel hisses without a trace of irony as he types at the front desk’s computer at rapid speed. Looking the phone’s flashing green buttons, you can tell that three people are on hold. Michel picks up the phone, pounds one of the buttons and sweetly says, “Je vous remercie pour votre patience, madame.” He pauses and rolls his eyes, before shifting his face into a syrupy smile as a gaggle of Germans enter his sightline. “Oui, je viens de verifier—oui…” He pauses once more as the woman on the other end interrupts him. The Germans shut the front door behind them, and Michel’s face immediately drops into his typical sneer.

           April leans into you and whispers, “Why don’t we just go into the kitchen ourselves?”

           You would, except that you’ve never met the chef on duty, and you doubt whichever chef is in charge will be okay with a stranger swooping in and taking a jar of lemon pepper.

           By now, Michel has finally succeeded at informing the woman that they can squeeze her in at 8:15. He hangs up the phone and returns his gaze to the computer screen, again typing rapidly.

           “Every Thanksgiving we get this,” he hisses. You’re not sure whether he’s speaking to you or venting to himself. “The foreigners descend upon us, shocked that every other restaurant is closed. ‘Thanksgiving, what is this?’ God forbid they read a calendar for once in their lives…”

           “Well, everyone needs to eat…” you point out.

           Michel scowls at you. “Yes, but does everyone need to act like it’s the end of days when I inform them we are full up and that I am personally responsible if we—”

           One of the lights on the phone changes from green to orange, and Michel picks it up. “Thank you for your patience, sir.” He pauses and rolls his eyes once more. “Yes, I have checked, but I am afraid that we are simply unable to accommodate a party of your size at such short notice…yes, I did, I—I am sorry you feel that way—” He covers up the phone and waves you to the bench. “Wait over there. I get to you when I get to you.” He uncovers the phone and says in a sweet voice starkly contrasting with his facial expression, “There are several grocery stores in the area…”

           This suggestion evidently does not go over well, and you and April walk to the bench, listening as Michel apologizes to the man who thinks grocery stores are beneath him.

           April pulls out her phone and begins flicking through Facebook, and you’re annoyed at yourself for having left your phone back at your mom’s house. You’re considering trying your luck in the kitchen—maybe some of the staff will recognize you—when April abruptly asks you, “When did you have sex for the first time?”

           You’re glad you’re not holding your phone, because if you were, you would have dropped it. “Excuse me?”

           “In college, right?” April asks, apparently oblivious to how uncomfortable you are right now. She folds her arms across her chest and slumps in her seat. “That’s when most people do it.”

           “Um…”

           Thankfully, April needs no response. She pushes forward. “I haven’t had sex yet,” she tells you. “But I think now’s the time.”

           “Thanksgiving?” you squeak.

           She looks confused. “No, grad school.” She takes a deep breath. “It’s weird enough I didn’t have sex during undergrad, so I’ve decided I need to lose it before I get my masters.” She holds up her phone to you and you can see a picture of a young-looking, skinny guy wearing a ‘Han Shot First’ T-shirt. “This is Aaron. What do you think?”

           “What do I think about Aaron as…” You don’t want to finish the question, half suspecting that Chris Hanson will burst through the door depending on what you say.

           “What do you think about Aaron as a sexual partner?” April finishes for you. “He’s in the microbiology program with me,” she flips to a picture of Aaron holding a textbook and a sign saying, ‘This cost $278.53,’ “he’s into WOW,” she flips to another picture of Aaron, this time leaning off a lamppost like Gene Kelly in Singin’ in the Rain, “and he’s definitely a virgin, and I kind of want my first time to be with someone else who doesn’t really know what they’re doing—take some of the pressure off, you know?”

           You open your mouth, but you still don’t quite know what to say.

           “On the other hand,” April finishes, “he’s got this really annoying habit of quoting Family Guy like it’s going out of style, which it did, like fifteen years ago.” She types something into her phone and another Facebook profile comes up. “The other option I’m considering is Wahid.” There’s Wahid at a party, drinking a can of Sprite, surrounded by people drinking from red Solo cups. “Wahid’s getting his PhD in physics. He’s really fun to hang out with, and he says he needs to marry Pakistani girl, which is perfect, because I know that if we have sex, he won’t think it’s anything serious,” she swipes to a picture of Wahid and a group of young people, including April, having just finished an escape room, “but on the down side, that goatee and that dumb haircut combined make him look like Evil Spock.” She slips her phone into her pocket and looks at you expectantly. “So what do you think? Bachelor #1 or Bachelor #2?”

           What do you think you should do, Rory?

           Advise April about her sex life, OR

           End this conversation as soon as possible

Chapter Text

            [Go for it.] you text back. [He’ll be here tonight. Want me to see if he’s interested?]

            [Only if you’re sure you’re okay with it.]

            Paris does treasure your friendship, and you know, abrasiveness aside, there’s basically nothing she wouldn’t do for you. And it’s been a while since you’ve done something for her. [I’m fine with it.]

            [Okay. See if he’s interested. But do it subtly.]

            [Got it.] you text back.

            You go downstairs to find that, funnily enough, you’ve just missed Jess. He and April just stopped by to drop off some folding chairs and card tables courtesy of Liz and TJ. All the furniture has been moved now, Jess went back to Liz and TJ’s to return their minivan, and April and your mom have left to run an errand for Sookie. So now it’s just you, Luke, and Sookie. Luke and Sookie are two flurries of movement. It’s amazing to see them weave around the kitchen, dicing and stirring and basting, all without consulting a recipe.

            “Is there anything I can do to help?” you ask, looking at the kitchen table groaning with ingredients. “Keeping in mind that Easy Mac is my idea of a home cooked meal.”

            Sookie needs an onion diced. You can dice onions. You were an onion dicing champ at Martha’s Vineyard. You sit down at the table and manage to clear enough room for the cutting board.

            “So Luke,” you say casually as you make the first incision, “you said Jess dropped by?”

            “Yeah,” Luke murmurs, sounding distracted, “to drop off those tables and chairs…where’s the fennel?” he asks Sookie.

            “Beats me,” Sookie shrugs.

            “I put it down right here on the counter…” Luke starts rummaging around.

            “Does Jess visit Stars Hollow much these days?” you ask Luke.

            “Every month or so, I guess,” Luke answers. “Are you sure you didn’t use the fennel?” he asks Sookie.

            “Oh, I definitely used it,” she answers.

            Luke looks confused. “I thought you said you didn’t use it!”

            “No,” Sookie corrects him, “what I said was I didn’t know where it was. But I used it twenty minutes ago.”

            “Then where is it?” Luke demands.

            “I don’t know!”

            You volunteer to look for the fennel, allowing Luke to return to his station in front of the burners. You start searching the table to see if could be hiding behind the potatoes.

            “Have you met many of Jess’s friends in Philadelphia?” you ask Luke, intent on getting the conversation back on course.

            “A few of them, over the years,” Luke answers. “Hangs out with a weird crowd. Enough nose rings to make chain mail.”

            “I wanted a nose ring when I was younger…” Sookie sighs as she stirs the gravy. “I went through a short-lived Jane Child phase, and I actually went to a place to get the piercing done, but something went wrong with the person in front of me! She started bleeding so much that I ran right out the door and never looked back…” She laughs to herself at the memory.

            “Is Jess dating anyone?” you ask Luke, which was really what you wanted to know in the first place. If Jess already has a girlfriend, that makes Paris’s whole request moot. He’s never mentioned a girlfriend, but it’s not like you and him dish about your love lives at slumber parties.

            Luke blinks at you, taken aback. “Not that I know of,” he answers after a few seconds. “But he’s always been kind of private about that kind of stuff.” He’s looking at you suspiciously. “Why do you ask? Are you…” he drifts off and coughs.

            Sookie is there to finish his question. “Are you interested in Jess? Oh!” She clasps her hands together, causing the spoon she’d been holding to clatter to the floor. “It would be so romantic—high school sweethearts, you both went your separate ways, and then you found your way back to each other…it’s like Sweet Home Alabama!”

            You feel your face heating up. “No,” you say firmly.

            Sookie and Luke are both regarding you skeptically.

            “I’m asking for a friend,” you say quickly, fearing that if you don’t correct this misapprehension, you and Jess might end up on the wrong end of an Emma-style matchmaking attempt.

            Luke flinches. “It’s not Paris, is it?” he asks, wincing.

            It’s sad how easy it was for Luke to guess that, what with Lane being married, Lucy and Olivia both now living abroad, and Madeline and Louise on the latest season of The Bachelor in Paradise.

            You need to make more friends.

            “It might be…” you admit. “Oh look!” You lean down and pick a container off the floor. “It’s the fennel!”

            Luke swipes the fennel from you and entreats you to please not set Jess up with Paris. “Not that she’s not a lovely person,” Luke says quickly, “but I think she’s even lovelier…” he gestures vaguely, “from a distance.”

            “That’s right,” Sookie nods. “Like a Monet. Oh!” She hops and claps her hands together. “Oh! Monet lived in Paris! Or,” she shrugs, “I guess Giverny? Eh, he was French, he probably lived in Paris for a while…” She gestures to Luke. “Hey, can I have the fennel?”

            Luke measures out a couple of teaspoons and hands the container to Sookie. He turns back to you. “The family’s already loud enough just from TJ. If Jess ever gets married I always wanted it to be…” He shrugs. “Someone quiet, I guess.” He turns back to the stove and checks on the mashed potatoes.

            “I don’t even know if Paris is interested,” you lie, keeping in mind that Paris wanted you to be subtle. “I just thought they’d be good together, and I feel like Jess has been alone for a long time…”

            “Just like Reese’s love interest in Sweet Home Alabama…” Sookie sighs.

            “If I ever meet Reese, I’ll give her Jess’s number,” Luke announces.

            You get back to dicing the onion, and around the time you finish up, your grandmother arrives.

            “I bear gifts!” she exclaims, raising two large shopping bags. “Now where is that sweet little angel?”

            She marches upstairs to smother Victoria in bonnets and ruffled onesies, and you jog up the stairs after her.

            You spend the next hour or so with your grandma and Vicky, admiring your grandma’s purchases while holding back your comments on how Vicky’s just going to outgrow these purchases within a couple of weeks. After last year, it’s nice to see your grandma so happy about something.

            “She is remarkably composed,” your grandma comments about Vicky, currently being cradled in your grandma’s arms. “Her eyes are following us, but she’s not fussing—these are good signs. I can already tell she’s got that Gilmore discipline!”

            You love Vicky. You really do. But even you think that your grandma’s attempts to ascribe a personality to Vicky are a little premature. But it’s not worth pointing out, so instead you ask your grandma what your mom was like as a baby.

            Your grandma shakes her head fondly. “Loud. Already such a little demon. She hated to be held—hated when I held her, hated when Richard held her, hated when the nurse held her. Richard thought it was a good sign, thought it meant she would grow up self-reliant, and maybe he was right, but he wasn’t the one home caring for the wailing devil.”

            Eventually your mom returns to the house and joins you upstairs. She stopped by the inn’s new annex on her way back to the house, and informs your grandmother that her room’s all ready for her.

            “I can’t believe you convinced me to sleep in a construction site!” your grandma despairs. “Are you sure there are no rooms at the Dragonfly available? Or maybe I could just find a hotel.”

            “The annex is fine, mom,” your mom sighs. “Just make sure to wear a hard hat when you sleep.”

            Your grandmother is not amused. “Very funny.”

            “The renovations are almost done,” your mom continues. “We didn’t have to do much in the first place. And your room’s completely done; we’ve fixed it up to use it as a model. The water, gas, and electricity are working. And you’ll be the only person in the place, so it’ll be nice and quiet.”

            “It sounds unnerving,” your grandma shivers. “I’ve gotten used to having a full house.”

            “Well, next time you should invite Danny, DJ, and the others to come with you,” your mom says innocently.

            Your grandmother looks confused. “Who on earth are those people?”

            When the rest of the guests arrive, you go downstairs and manage to pull Jess aside and ask him in your breeziest voice if he remembers your friend Paris.

            Jess grins. “Of course I remember Paris. That guy from Memento would remember Paris. What’s going on with her these days?”

            You give him an abridged description of Dynasty Makers. “But as far as her personal life, she and Doyle recently got divorced.”

            “Oh, they broke up?” Jess shakes his head. “That’s too bad. I remember talking to them at one of your birthday parties, and they seemed great together.”

            “Yeah, it’s pretty sad,” you say. “But anyway, I remember how well you and Paris got along and I was thinking…”

            Jess raises an eyebrow. You can tell he already knows what’s coming.

            “Um…” you continue. “I haven’t heard if you’re involved with anyone—are you? I mean, if this makes you uncomfortable—I—”

            Jess mercifully cuts your babble short. “I’m not involved with anyone. But I don’t think it’s a good idea to set us up together.”

            You’re a little ashamed at how relieved you feel. But you’re sure that Paris would want a reason, so you ask Jess if he wouldn’t mind telling you why he feels this way.

            “It’s not that Paris isn’t awesome,” Jess says slowly, “because she is…”

            “Is it the long distance?” you ask. You hope it is. That would be a pretty drama-free reason to give to Paris.

            But Jess shakes his head. “Nah, that’s not a big deal. Actually, I might be moving to New York pretty soon. We might be opening an office in the city, and since I’m already familiar with the area, it makes sense that I run the office.”

            You congratulate him on the promotion.

            He shrugs. “Thanks, but nothing’s definite so far.”

            “So, um…” you say, “if it’s not because of the distance…”

            “It’s just…” Jess slowly exhales, “you said she got divorced recently, right?”

            “Two months ago,” you supply.

            “Right,” Jess nods. “Two months ago. There’s no way she’s over her ex yet. I don’t think it’s a good idea to get involved with someone when they’re still hung up on someone else. Sorry,” he shrugs, “but I don’t think it’s a great idea. Plus,” he adds, “it’d be kind of weird, me dating one of your friends. Wouldn’t it?”

            “No, yeah…” you shake your head, “it’s fine. That makes sense. Thanks for being honest with me.”

            “Anytime,” Jess says. Liz and TJ call him over to them and you step into your old room to text Paris that Jess isn’t interested. She doesn’t reply, which you hope means that she’s busy celebrating Thanksgiving with her kids.

            You emerge from your room just as Sookie is yelling that dinner’s ready. You put Victoria back in her crib and manage to nab a chair between your mom and your grandma. The dinner is mostly a nice one…the food is delicious, of course, and you, your mom, and your grandma reminisce about Thanksgivings spent with Richard.

            The dinner is "mostly" nice because as everyone is polishing off the last morsels from their plates, someone knocks at the door. Luke, closest to the front door, answers it.

            “Luke,” you hear someone say, and you know who it is. Your heart leaps into your throat. It’s Logan.

            Everyone swivels to the foyer as Logan Huntzberger steps into the living room. Luke follows him, slack-jawed.

            “Logan!” you exclaim.

            It’s him. Just standing there.

            “Ace,” he replies. His eyes dart around to the dinner party. “Happy Thanksgiving.” He has that exhausted yet manic look you remember him having so often during your junior year of college, when your nights together more often than not would end with you driving a tipsy Logan home. But you can tell from his steady stance that he’s sober.

            At this point, your brain is divided. Part of your brain is ordering your legs to stand up, an order that your legs are ignoring. Part of your brain is wondering if you invited Logan to Thanksgiving and somehow completely forgot. And part of your brain is noticing the reactions of the people around you. Your mother drops a fork full of mashed potatoes. Davey finally sets his phone down and you can see the Tetris figures stacking and “GAME OVER” flash on the screen. Your grandmother is absolutely motionless. T.J. leans over to Liz and loudly hisses, “Who is this guy?” When Liz whispers the answer to him, T.J. exclaims, “Wait—that’s Logan? That Rockefeller guy she stole a boat with?”

            “Sorry to interrupt your dinner, everyone,” Logan apologizes. “Lorelai—Emily.”

            Lorelai shoots him a strained smile. Emily raises an eyebrow and says, “Logan” in a voice so cold that it makes Jack Nicholson at the end of the Shining seem warm and toasty in comparison.

            Logan addresses you: “Rory, could we speak alone?”

            If Logan has come all the way out to Stars Hollow, whatever he wants to talk to you about must be important. You’re not sure if that makes you want to have this conversation in private or here, surrounded by friends and family.

            What’s it going to be, Rory? Have a private conversation or stay where you are?

Chapter Text

            You take a deep breath and try to word this as tactfully as possible: [Actually, I think that would make me uncomfortable. Sorry, but Jess is family now, so if you guys break up, things might get weird…]

            Within seconds, Paris has barraged you with texts. [I get it. Sorry, you’re right] and [That makes sense] and [Thanks for being honest with me].

            Phew. It looks like Paris isn’t holding this against you. You shouldn’t exactly be surprised, but she really was being honest when she said that your friendship was the most important thing.

            Soon, your hear your grandma arrive, and you go down the stairs to meet her.

            “I bear gifts!” she exclaims, raising two large shopping bags. “Now where is that sweet little angel?”

            She marches upstairs to smother Victoria in bonnets and ruffled onesies, and you jog up the stairs after her.

            You spend the next hour or so with your grandma and Vicky, admiring your grandma’s purchases while holding back your comments on how Vicky’s just going to outgrow these purchases within a couple of weeks. After last year, it’s nice to see your grandma so happy about something.

            “She is remarkably composed,” your grandma comments about Vicky, currently being cradled in your grandma’s arms. “Her eyes are following us, but she’s not fussing—these are good signs. I can already tell she’s got that Gilmore discipline!”

            You love Vicky. You really do. But even you think that your grandma’s attempts to ascribe a personality to Vicky are a little premature. But it’s not worth pointing out, so instead you ask your grandma what your mom was like as a baby.

            Your grandma shakes her head fondly. “Loud. Already such a little demon. She hated to be held—hated when I held her, hated when Richard held her, hated when the nurse held her. Richard thought it was a good sign, thought it meant she would grow up self-reliant, and maybe he was right, but he wasn’t the one home caring for the wailing devil.”

            Eventually your mom returns to the house and joins you upstairs. She stopped by the inn’s new annex on her way back to the house, and informs your grandmother that her room’s all ready for her.

            “I can’t believe you convinced me to sleep in a construction site!” your grandma despairs. “Are you sure there are no rooms at the Dragonfly available? Or maybe I could just find a hotel.”

            “The annex is fine, mom,” your mom sighs. “Just make sure to wear a hard hat when you sleep.”

            Your grandmother is not amused. “Very funny.”

            “The renovations are almost done,” your mom continues. “We didn’t have to do much in the first place. And your room’s completely done; we’ve fixed it up to use it as a model. The water, gas, and electricity are working. And you’ll be the only person in the place, so it’ll be nice and quiet.”

            “It sounds unnerving,” your grandma shivers. “I’ve gotten used to having a full house.”

            “Well, next time you should invite Danny, DJ, and the others to come with you,” your mom says innocently.

            Your grandmother looks confused. “Who on earth are those people?”

            Soon the rest of the guests arrive, and you bring Vicky down. The guests coo over the baby, and TJ attempts an unsuccessful game of peek-a-boo. And then before you know it, Sookie announces it’s dinner time, and everyone rushes to the kitchen to fill up their plates.

            You put Victoria back in her crib and manage to nab a chair between your mom and your grandma. The dinner is mostly a nice one…the food is delicious, of course, and you, your mom, and your grandma reminisce about Thanksgivings spent with Richard.

            The dinner is “mostly” nice because as everyone is polishing off the last morsels from their plates, someone knocks at the door. Luke, closest to the front door, answers it.

            “Luke,” you hear someone say, and you know who it is. Your heart leaps into your throat. It’s Logan.

            Everyone swivels to the foyer as Logan Huntzberger steps into the living room. Luke follows him, slack-jawed.

“Logan!” you exclaim.

            It’s him. Just standing there.

            “Ace,” he replies. His eyes dart around to the dinner party. “Happy Thanksgiving.” He has that exhausted yet manic look you remember him having so often during your junior year of college, when your nights together more often than not would end with you driving a tipsy Logan home. But you can tell from his steady stance that he’s sober.

            At this point, your brain is divided. Part of your brain is ordering your legs to stand up, an order that your legs are ignoring. Part of your brain is wondering if you invited Logan to Thanksgiving and somehow completely forgot. And part of your brain is noticing the reactions of the people around you. Your mom drops a fork loaded with mashed potatoes. Davey finally sets his phone down and you can see the Tetris figures stacking and “GAME OVER” flash on the screen. Jess scowls at Logan, and your grandma is absolutely motionless. T.J. leans over to Liz and loudly hisses, “Who is this guy?” When Liz whispers the answer to him, T.J. exclaims, “Wait—that’s Logan? That Rockefeller guy she stole a boat with?”

            “Sorry to interrupt your dinner, everyone,” Logan apologizes. “Lorelai—Emily.”

            Lorelai shoots him a strained smile. Emily raises an eyebrow and says, “Logan” in a voice so cold that it makes Jack Nicholson at the end of the Shining seem warm and toasty in comparison.

            Logan addresses you: “Rory, could we speak alone?”

            If Logan has come all the way out to Stars Hollow, whatever he wants to talk to you about must be important. You’re not sure if that makes you want to have this conversation in private or here, surrounded by friends and family.

            What’s it going to be, Rory? Have a private conversation or stay where you are?

Chapter Text

            You delete the photo from your wall. You know you’re going to have to deal with the Logan situation someday, but that day is not today. You play with Vicky for a while, until you hear your grandma’s car pull up.

            You jog down the stairs and see that while you were upstairs, someone must have dropped off Liz and TJ’s extra folding tables and chairs your mom asked to borrow. Everything’s set up now, complete with a cornucopia centerpiece.

            You step into the kitchen to find Sookie and Luke still hard at work. Your mom is nowhere to be seen. Sookie informs you that she sent your mom out on an errand.

            That means you’re going to have to be in host mode. You jog out to the front porch and greet your grandmother as she’s walking up.

            “Rory! Happy Thanksgiving!” Your grandmother hugs you, gives you the obligatory compliments on how radiant you look, and enters the house. She surveys the living room. “Now where’s my great-granddaughter?”

            You point the way to the second floor.

            Your grandma came clutching two bags of goodies for Vicky because of course she did. Onesies, gowns, caps, booties, most of it in shades of white or pink, bedecked with flowers or bows. She hands the bags off to you and tenderly picks Vicky up.

            “You shouldn’t have, grandma,” you say as you examine a Yale onesie. “She’s just going to outgrow this in a couple months.”

            “Then I’ll buy her more,” your grandma says, kissing Vicky on the cheek. “Isn’t she just adorable?” She carefully ties a pink Pilli Carrera bonnet under Vicky’s chin. “Look at you! Aren’t you sweet? Yes you are!” She turns to you and lowers her voice as if she doesn’t want Vicky to hear. “Jack’s daughter just had a girl and she’s such a plain little thing. I try not to gloat when I show him pictures of Victoria.”

            Soon Vicky drifts off to sleep and your grandma sits in the rocking chair, cradling her. You discuss the whaling museum (they just started a new exhibit about ambergris and the perfume industry), Jack (celebrating the holiday with his daughter in Boston), and Berta (a proud aunt to a new baby boy, who your grandma admits is almost as cute as Vicky). But mostly you just talk about Vicky, since your grandma never seems to tire of commenting how sweet she is.

            She’s remarking how much Richard would have loved Vicky’s nose—the Gilmore nose, whatever that means—when your mom enters the room, and you pass the next hour or so canvassing the same topics, with the added subject of renovations on the Dragonfly’s new annex.

            Eventually you hear T.J. and Liz’s laughter from downstairs. Your grandma sighs.

            “Well,” she says, “I suppose we should join the others. But before we do…” she hands off Vicky to you and extracts a smart phone from a pocket, “we have some business to attend to.”

            “Mom, do you have a Samsung Galaxy?” your mom asks incredulously.

            “Jack recommended it,” your grandma answers, staring at the phone screen in concentration and swiping a few times. “It took me a couple of weeks to get used to it, but now I think it’s a marvelous little thing. It gives me weather updates which are so important Nantucket, and Jack installed something called an ‘app’ that lets me scan those funny black-and-white boxes we have on some of the signs at the museum—”

            “Oh my God, my mom is hipper than I am,” your mom laments.

            You look over your grandma’s shoulder to see that she’s opened her calendar. She swipes to December. “I want to confirm that I’m to expect you in Nantucket on the 22nd.”

            “Yeah, mom,” your mom rolls her eyes, “we said we’d be there.”

            “Well, I don’t know,” your grandma says, sounding exasperated, “you’re not always the most reliable person when it comes to dates, Lorelai. Remember that dance performance you had? You told me it was on Friday, but it was actually on Wednesday, so I missed it—”

            “—you took dancing lessons?” you ask your mom. This is a chapter of her life you have never heard about.

            “Yeah, I was a regular Ginger Rogers for two hellacious weeks when I was ten,” your mom informs you. She turns your grandma. “And I’m not bad with dates; I told you the wrong date on purpose because I didn’t want to be in that stupid class in the first place, which is what I told you when you signed me up for it…”

            The bickering goes on for longer than it should, but eventually you manage to change the subject by suggesting you take some pictures with Vicky. Your grandma’s excited about this and informs you that her new phone’s camera is actually quite good. You use it to snap two dozen pictures of various combinations of the four Gilmore girls before you head downstairs.

            As soon as you start descending the stairs, the crowd shouts your names, like you’re Norm or something. Victoria forms the center of the festivities. Liz enters your grandmother’s good graces by cooing over how cute little Vicky is, and soon Liz and your grandma are exchanging pregnancy stories, Doula watching on and occasionally wrinkling her nose in disgust. April disappears into the kitchen, where Luke and Sookie are still monitoring the food. Lorelai, Jackson, T.J., Davey, Martha, and Tyler start a loud game of twenty questions in the corner.

            Jess is hovering by the stairs, and when you deposit Vicky with your grandma, he pulls you aside and asks if you can talk. “Privately,” he specifies.

            You and Jess walk outside and wind up in the same spot where Dean gave you that bracelet all those years ago. You can faintly hear Hep Alien playing from a couple of blocks away.

            Jess is looking at the ground and shoots a wry grin at Pierpont. Then when he looks up at you, his brow furrows and he crosses his arms across his chest. “So I was talking to Luke…” he starts, “and the subject of Logan came up. And judging by the fact that Luke is so angry with Logan that he’s a plane ticket to London short of emphasizing the ‘death’ part of the Life and Death Brigade, I’m gonna guess you haven’t come clean yet.”

            A side effect of the fact that Jess has read your manuscript is that now he knows about the Life and Death Brigade. Jess hates them. He hasn’t outright told you this, but his notes on your first draft became just a smidge more caustic whenever they came up.

            Granted, Jess never did like Logan…

            “No, I haven’t told Logan yet,” you admit. “And I haven’t told my mom or Luke that I haven’t told him.”

            Jess rocks back and forth on his heels, looking at you expectantly. “…and?” he says.

            Jess thinks your answer is incomplete. How do you finish it? APOLOGIZE or TELL JESS IT’S NONE OF HIS BUSINESS

Chapter Text

            “Hey, Rory! Happy Thanksgiving!” There’s a lot of music in the background when Lane picks up. It sounds like one of Hep Alien’s originals.

            “Hi Lane,” you say. “I can barely hear you—could you—”

            The music softens. Lane must have moved to a different room. “Sorry about that,” she says. “How’s your Thanksgiving going? The customary movie marathon?”

            “On hold for the moment.” You take a deep breath and dive in. “Hey, I saw on Facebook that you uploaded that photo of Vicky—could you take it down?”

            There are a few seconds of silence. Then Lane speaks. She sounds taken aback. “Oh—sure. Yeah, I’ll do that right now…” She pauses. “Done. Sorry, I guess I should have gotten your permission…”

            “No, don’t worry,” you assure her. “I just don’t want any pictures of Vicky on social media—”

            “—yeah, no,” Lane says quickly, “that was inconsiderate of me; I know some people are worried about privacy and—”

            “—I haven’t told Logan yet,” you cut her off to stop her apology.

            This stumps her for a few seconds. “You haven’t told him—you never told him about Victoria?”

            “Right. He doesn’t know. So I don’t want pictures of her online until I tell him.”

            “Oh, wow…” On the other end, you know Lane is struggling to figure out what to say. “Sorry, I thought you’d told him.”

            “That’s understandable,” you admit, “since that’s what I told you. But I haven’t.” You take another deep breath and tell her the whole story.

            Lane has always been an excellent confidante. She doesn’t let secrets slip, she doesn’t get judgmental, and she’s always interested in what you have to say. It’s a shame she and you don’t talk as much as you used to. Telling her everything is an enormous relief.

            “Wow,” Lane says after you finish the grocery store story. “That on top of the baby and on top of the book…that sounds like a lot of stress.”

            “It is,” you sigh.

            “I wish there was some way I could help…”

            “You are helping me,” you assure her. “Just telling someone has helped me. Before I told you, the only person who knew was Jess and it’s not like I want to talk to him about Logan…”

            “Honestly I’m surprised you want to talk to Jess at all,” murmurs Lane, who has never really warmed up to Jess.

            As nice as talking to Lane has been, you’re eager to change the subject. “So it sounds like Hep Alien is playing through their classic catalog,” you observe. Throughout the conversation you’ve heard a drum-less Hep Alien cycle through a lot of their old songs, some of which you don’t think you’ve heard since high school.

            “Yeah,” Lane’s voice brightens. “We’re playing the old stuff because Dave’s celebrating Thanksgiving with us!”

            “Dave? As in Dave Rygalski?”

            “No, Dave Matthews,” Lane jokes. “Yes Dave Rygalski! He’s in town visiting his folks for the holidays—only apparently his family is one of those weird families whose idea of a fun Thanksgiving is waiting in a Wal-mart parking lot, so he’s partying with us, but then he needs to go to Wal-mart at midnight.”

            “Just like a modern Cinderella,” you chime in. “So…how is it seeing him again?”

            “Really great, actually,” Lane says immediately. “When he called us up this morning—it was a totally last minute thing—I was worried it might be weird, but it…isn’t. Dave will always be my first real love, but that’s so long ago that…it’s been fun reminiscing. And it’s not like things got exactly Culture Club when we ended things. We ended on good terms.”

            “That’s great,” you reply. “I always liked Dave.” You’ve always liked all of Lane’s boyfriends, actually. You saw Henry Cho at this Chilton reunion not too long ago and caught up; now he’s a doctor at Johns Hopkins and just as nice as ever.

            You can hear Zack’s voice in the background. “C’mon Lane! We can’t do Fool in the Rain without a drummer!”

            You and Lane bid each other quick goodbyes and hang up.

            You walk to the window and see your grandma’s car pulling up.

            You jog down the stairs and see that while you were upstairs, someone must have dropped off Liz and TJ’s extra folding tables and chairs your mom asked to borrow. Everything’s set up now, complete with a cornucopia centerpiece.

            You step into the kitchen to find Sookie and Luke still hard at work. Your mom is nowhere to be seen. Sookie informs you that she sent your mom out on an errand.

            That means you’re going to have to be in host mode. You jog out to the front porch and greet your grandmother as she’s walking up.

            “Rory! Happy Thanksgiving!” Your grandmother hugs you, gives you the obligatory compliments on how radiant you look, and enters the house. She surveys the living room. “Now where’s my great-granddaughter?”

            You point the way to the second floor.

            Your grandma came clutching two bags of goodies for Vicky because of course she did. Onesies, gowns, caps, booties, most of it in shades of white or pink, bedecked with flowers or bows. She hands the bags off to you and tenderly picks Vicky up.

            “You shouldn’t have, grandma,” you say as you examine a Yale onesie. “She’s just going to outgrow this in a couple months.”

            “Then I’ll buy her more,” your grandma says, kissing Vicky on the cheek. “Isn’t she just adorable?” She carefully ties a pink Pilli Carrera bonnet under Vicky’s chin. “Look at you! Aren’t you sweet? Yes you are!” She turns to you and lowers her voice as if she doesn’t want Vicky to hear. “Jack’s daughter just had a girl and she’s such a plain little thing. I try not to gloat when I show him pictures of Victoria.”

            Soon Vicky drifts off to sleep and your grandma sits in the rocking chair, cradling her. You discuss the whaling museum (they just started a new exhibit about ambergris and the perfume industry), Jack (celebrating the holiday with his daughter in Boston), and Berta (a proud aunt to a new baby boy, who your grandma admits is almost as cute as Vicky). But mostly you just talk about Vicky, since your grandma never seems to tire of commenting how sweet she is.

            She’s remarking how much Richard would have loved Vicky’s nose—the Gilmore nose, whatever that means—when your mom enters the room, and you pass the next hour or so canvassing the same topics, with the added subject of renovations on the Dragonfly’s new annex.

            Eventually you hear T.J. and Liz’s laughter from downstairs. Your grandma sighs.

            “Well,” she says, “I suppose we should join the others. But before we do…” she hands off Vicky to you and extracts a smart phone from a pocket, “we have some business to attend to.”

            “Mom, do you have a Samsung Galaxy?” your mom asks incredulously.

            “Jack recommended it,” your grandma answers, staring at the phone screen in concentration and swiping a few times. “It took me a couple of weeks to get used to it, but now I think it’s a marvelous little thing. It gives me weather updates which are so important Nantucket, and Jack installed something called an ‘app’ that lets me scan those funny black-and-white boxes we have on some of the signs at the museum—”

            “Oh my God, my mom is hipper than I am,” your mom laments.

            You look over your grandma’s shoulder to see that she’s opened her calendar. She swipes to December. “I want to confirm that I’m to expect you in Nantucket on the 22nd.”

            “Yeah, mom,” your mom rolls her eyes, “we said we’d be there.”

            “Well, I don’t know,” your grandma says, sounding exasperated, “you’re not always the most reliable person when it comes to dates, Lorelai. Remember that dance performance you had? You told me it was on Friday, but it was actually on Wednesday, so I missed it—”

            “—you took dancing lessons?” you ask your mom. This is a chapter of her life you have never heard about.

            “Yeah, I was a regular Ginger Rogers for two hellacious weeks when I was ten,” your mom informs you. She turns your grandma. “And I’m not bad with dates; I told you the wrong date on purpose because I didn’t want to be in that stupid class in the first place, which is what I told you when you signed me up for it…”

            The bickering goes on for longer than it should, but eventually you manage to change the subject by suggesting you take some pictures with Vicky. Your grandma’s excited about this and informs you that her new phone’s camera is actually quite good. You use it to snap two dozen pictures of various combinations of the four Gilmore girls before you head downstairs.

            As soon as you start descending the stairs, the crowd shouts your names, like you’re Norm or something. Victoria forms the center of the festivities. Liz enters your grandmother’s good graces by cooing over how cute little Vicky is, and soon Liz and your grandma are exchanging pregnancy stories, Doula watching on and occasionally wrinkling her nose in disgust. April disappears into the kitchen, where Luke and Sookie are still monitoring the food. Lorelai, Jackson, T.J., Davey, Martha, and Tyler start a loud game of twenty questions in the corner.

            Jess is hovering by the stairs, and when you deposit Vicky with your grandma, he pulls you aside and asks if you can talk. “Privately,” he specifies.

            You and Jess walk outside and wind up in the same spot where Dean gave you that bracelet all those years ago. You can faintly hear Hep Alien playing from a couple of blocks away.

            Jess is looking at the ground and shoots a wry grin at Pierpont. Then when he looks up at you, his brow furrows and he crosses his arms across his chest. “So I was talking to Luke…” he starts, “and the subject of Logan came up. And judging by the fact that Luke is so angry with Logan that he’s a plane ticket to London short of emphasizing the ‘death’ part of the Life and Death Brigade, I’m gonna guess you haven’t come clean yet.”

            A side effect of the fact that Jess has read your manuscript is that now he knows about the Life and Death Brigade. Jess hates them. He hasn’t outright told you this, but his notes on your first draft became just a smidge more caustic whenever they came up.

            Granted, Jess never did like Logan…

            “No, I haven’t told Logan yet,” you admit. “And I haven’t told my mom or Luke that I haven’t told him.”

            Jess rocks back and forth on his heels, looking at you expectantly. “…and?” he says.

            Jess thinks your answer is incomplete. How do you finish it? APOLOGIZE or TELL JESS IT’S NONE OF HIS BUSINESS

Chapter Text

            “Actually,” you say, “yeah, maybe that would be best. We can still have dinner and everything, but it’ll probably be really awkward for all of you if you stay after Logan and his wife arrive…I’m sorry about this…”

            You have about an hour and forty minutes at this point, which is more than enough time to have dinner and eat pie. But once you finish up dessert, everyone leaves. Sookie squeezes you in a hug, wishes you good luck, and informs you that there’s an entire leftover pumpkin pie in the fridge. TJ tries to ask you a few more questions about Logan, but Luke shepherds him out the door. Jess pulls you aside, squeezes your arm, and tells you that he knows it can’t have been an easy day for you. “If you ever need to talk, let me know,” he says before he heads out the door.

            Soon, it’s just you, your mom, Luke, and your grandma remaining. Your mom suggests that your grandma head back to her room at the Dragonfly annex, and your grandma looks at her like she’s crazy.

            “I’m staying here,” she announces. “I still think it’s insane that we’re meeting with Logan before consulting with an attorney, but you couldn’t drag me away now.”

            A knock sounds at the door. You take a deep breath, step into the foyer, and open the door.

            Logan and a woman who must be Odette are standing there.

            “Hello,” you say softly, and move aside so they can enter the house.

            “Rory,” Logan nods at you, "this is my wife, Odette.”

            The woman beside him shoves her hand at you and pumps your hand in a frenetic handshake. “Happy Thanksgiving,” she says, her slight French accent tinning the “th” in “Thanksgiving” into a “t.”

            Logan steps into the living room and exchanges awkward greetings with your mom, Luke, and your grandma.

            As your mom and your grandma attempt to make conversation, you study Odette. You’ve previously seen her in the background of the pictures of Logan’s wedding that Colin, Finn, and Robert uploaded to Facebook, but this is your first chance to get a good look at her.

            She’s not what you expected. You were expecting…you don’t know…an Audrey Hepburn type, maybe. The woman who stands before you looks like a brunette Judy Holliday: round-cheeked, a few inches shorter than you, with a fuller frame. She wears a flour-handprinted polka-dotted dress and a cardigan that could have been out of The Bells Are Ringing, her bun is loose and frazzled, and her mascara is somewhat smudged. She kind of looks like a disheveled home economics teacher.

            “This is a lovely home,” Odette says to you, twirling around nervously. “And the town—it looks very cute…”

            “Thank you…” you reply. You wonder if you should just get into it now, just address the elephant in the room, but since Odette hasn’t, you try to make some chitchat. “Logan tells me this is your first Thanksgiving?”

            Odette nods so eagerly that a coil of hair falls out of her bun. “I failed at the turkey,” she admits. “I watched two YouTube videos about how to make the perfect turkey and I memorized Ina Garten’s recipe, and still I failed.” She shrugs and smiles apologetically. “Next year, ah?”

            By now, your grandma is done making terse small talk with Logan, and strides into the foyer.

            “So this is the heiress,” your grandmother says with cold formality.

            Odette freezes at your side, and then pops into a nervous curtsy.

            “Rory,” your grandma suggests, “why don’t you accompany Logan upstairs while I get to know the newest Huntzberger…”

            Odette mumbles a nervous correction about how she didn’t change her name and you spare her a pitying look as you step out of the foyer. Guilt gnaws at the bottom of your stomach. You wonder if you would have carried on with Logan all those months if you had ever bothered to meet Odette. Not that it should matter either way, but it was so much easier tamping down your guilt when you imagined Odette as some perfect, refined jetsetter, not someone who smudges her makeup.

            As you and Logan ascend the stairs, Logan quietly asks you how your Thanksgiving has been so far.

            “Oh…” you try to think of something clever to say, “nothing exciting. Sort of run of the mill.”

            “Right,” Logan shoots you a strained grin. “Sort of boring on this side, too.”

             When you put your hand on the knob to your mother’s bedroom, Logan stops you. “Actually,” he says, “I think I’d like to meet her alone at first. If you don’t mind.”

            “Yeah, that’s fine,” you agree. It’s sort of sad that Logan wants this as a private moment, but you suppose that’s your own fault.

            Logan walks into the room and shuts the door behind him.

            You lean against the wall and slide to the floor. You can’t hear anything through the door. Instead, all you can hear is conversation downstairs: your grandma drilling poor Odette about what her intentions towards Vicky are. You can’t hear Odette’s responses.

            Eventually your mom jogs up the stairs. She frowns when she spots you sitting on the floor. “Logan’s in there alone?” she demands.

            You nod. “It’s what he wanted.”

            “He realizes he’s going to have to deal with you if he wants to be involved in Victoria’s life, right?” your mom asks.

            You shrug and change the subject. “How are things going downstairs?”

            “Oh, fine,” your mom sighs, sitting next to you. “Your grandmother is doing a reenactment of that interrogation episode of Homicide: Life on the Street, only she’s playing the parts of both Bayliss and Pembleton. Give her five more minutes and I think Odette’s going to confess to writing the Circleville letters.”

            You hug your knees to your chest and lay your chin on them. “Odette seems nice…”

            “She does,” your mom agrees. “Especially for someone who just discovered her husband was constantly cheating on her during their engagement. Kinda weird how Stepford she’s being about it, actually…”

            You tighten your grip on your knees. “After Dean and Lindsay, I swore I would never have another relationship with someone who was with someone else, and here I did it again for a second time.”

            “A third time,” your mom corrects you.

            You look at her curiously.

            “Remember, you got involved with that Mark guy during the Obama campaign,” your mom reminds you. “You said he had a girlfriend who was in grad school.”

            “Oh my god, I’ve cheated with so many guys that I can’t keep track of them…” you groan and bury your face in your hands. “And I also kissed Jess when I was with Dean and kissed Jess again when I was with Logan, not to mention the fact that I was dating Paul while I was sleeping with Logan!”

            “You kissed Jess when you were with Logan?” your mom asks, confused. Apparently you never told her about that.

            Now is not the time to recount your trip to Philadelphia. “I am scum,” you mumble to yourself.

            “Hey, no you’re not!” your mom insists, wrapping an arm around you. “I mean, yeah, maybe you could do with a copy of The Ethical Slut, but you are not scum!”

            “I’m not polyamorous, mom,” you clarify. “I just don’t care about other people; I’m sociopathic!”

            “Hey, you care right now!” your mom reminds you. “And Logan was the one who was cheating on Odette, not you, and you’re the one who broke your relationship off last year, so let’s put blame where it lies.” Something occurs to her. “Wait—is Jess honestly the only one of your boyfriends who never cheated on anyone?” She shakes her head. “I bet he’s cheated on someone…” she mutters accusingly.

            You think it’s a little unfair of her to make this assumption about Jess, so you redirect the conversation. “Paul never cheated on anyone,” you point out.

            Your mom looks at you blankly. “Who?”

            Okay, you’re getting off topic. “How am I ever going to set a good example for Victoria?” you demand. “How can I give her decent dating advice when my love life has just been a series of dumpster fires?”

            “Kid,” your mom squeezes your shoulders, “you’ve got plenty of time to figure that out, since Vicky’s not going to be dating until she’s 40. But if you’re really worried, maybe you should…see someone…”

            “What do you mean ‘see someone?’ Like the Ladies Man?”

            “I mean like a therapist,” your mom explains.

            You raise an eyebrow and your mom continues hastily: “Sure, my therapist was a music theater nut and broke about a dozen APA ethical guidelines, but talking to her was actually really helpful. I’ll always be here to be your sounding board, but maybe you should find someone objective you can talk to.”

            “Yeah, maybe…” you admit.

            At this point, the door opens, and you and your mom shoot to your feet. “Where’s Odette?” Logan asks.

            You and your mom accompany Logan downstairs, to find Odette sitting at the table across from your grandmother.

            “No, I’m sure I don’t have speeding tickets,” Odette is saying. “I don’t drive much…”

            “Ah, so you don’t have experience driving, then,” your grandma says. “So if you were carrying for a small child and she had to be rushed to the hospital for some reason, how would you handle that?”

            You clear your throat, and your mom says, “the 48 hours are up, Agent Gilmore. We’re going to have to release the perp if you don’t have a confession yet.”

            Your grandma rolls her eyes. “There’s no need to take that tone, Lorelai; I was just making conversation,” she says. Her eyes flick to Logan. “Done visiting with Victoria so soon?” she demands.

            Logan ignores her. “Odette,” he jerks his head upstairs, “I want you to meet Victoria.” He turns to you. “I’ll come and get you later,” he says, as Odette runs up the stairs.

            Your grandma’s eyes follow Logan and Odette as they go upstairs. When they disappear from view, she stands up and crosses her arms across her chest. “That is the falsest woman I have ever met!” she hisses.

            “She seemed nice,” Luke replies, looking at your grandma dubiously.

            “Whether that woman is or is not nice is completely irrelevant. She and Logan are going to try to take Vicky away from us!”

            “Mo-om…” your mom says warningly.

            “You don’t know that, grandma,” you point out. “Logan wants to have a relationship with his daughter—he’s doing the right thing! And antagonizing him or Odette’s not going to help matters!” 

            “You should have spoken with an attorney before he even set foot in this door!” your grandma insists.

            “Excuse me,” your mom says exasperatedly to your grandma, “shouldn’t you be happy Logan is here? What about that whole ‘a child needs a mother and a father’ lecture I got hundred times?”

            Your grandmother rolls her eyes. “That’s just it. A child needs a mother. And Logan and that woman are trying to take Vicky away from her mother!”

            “Mom, listen to yourself,” your mom exclaims. “You sound crazy!”

            But your grandma is insistent. “I’m telling you, that woman is up to something! No woman takes the revelation that her husband had an affair and fathered a lovechild in that much stride!”

            “Logan and Odette can’t exactly kidnap Vicky like witches in a fairy tale,” you point out. “I’m her legal guardian; I have rights. But I can’t just ignore what Logan wants, either.”

            “Logan has rights…” Luke pipes up. “It’s not right, treating him and his wife like criminals just because they want to have a relationship with Logan’s daughter.”

            “I hardly treated them like criminals—” your grandma insists.

            “You tried to get me to play good cop/bad cop with you!” Luke points out.

            You don’t even want to know what you missed down here.

            “Look,” your mom says, waving her hands like an umpire calling ‘safe,’ “the fact of the matter is Logan and Odette are here. They’re up there right now,” she jerks her thumb to the ceiling, “deciding how involved they want to be. There’s no point in fighting about this now when we don’t even know what the situation is yet.” She addresses your mom specifically. “And Odette hasn’t done anything, so can you chill it with your conspiracy theories, Agent Mulder?”

            Your grandma doesn’t say anything. She just marches to the chair in the corner, sits down, and scowls at the ceiling.

            Eventually Logan and Odette descend the stairs.

            “Rory,” Odette says, “she is adorable!”

            “Oh, um…thanks, Odette…” you say, trying to sound flattered and not alarmed at this. You can’t get your grandma’s words out of your ears.

            “We want to be joint guardians,” Logan announces. “We’re not asking to raise her half the time—we think it’s important for her to have a stable, permanent home. But the summers—when she’s not in school—we want the summers. And during the year, one week a month.”

            “Um…” You’re taken aback. It’s so weird thinking about Victoria going to school. “I don’t know—this is all so—”

            “And we’ll pitch in financially, of course,” Logan says. “Here,” he pulls out a piece of paper covered with what you recognize as Logan’s handwriting and hands it to you. “We wrote out a plan we think is fair.”

            “And we’ll move to New York,” Odette adds. “London is so gray, anyway. That way, she can stay at the same school no matter who she’s living with.”

            “Wow…” you say, looking at the detailed parenting plan that Logan and Odette have drafted, which includes, among other things, financials, acceptable private schools, and Odette’s plan to teach Victoria French. They’ve practically mapped out Victoria’s whole childhood. “This is a lot…”

            “This is insane,” your grandma snaps. “You two just waltz in demand custody of Victoria half of the year? You don’t know the first thing about taking care of a child!”

            “Then we’ll learn,” Logan shoots back. “We’ll take CPR classes and read Dr. Spock and carry around bags of flour if you want—but we’re going to be great parents!”

            “Well,” your mom says, “if you carry around bags of flour…”

            You hold up a hand before a full-blown argument can break out. “I need time to think this over,” you say to Logan. “But I appreciate that you and Odette are so committed to making this work. Can I give this some thought and get back to you in a few days?”

            “I guess it’s unrealistic to get this settled in one night,” Logan admits. He and Odette move to the door. “Let us know once you’ve reached a decision.”

            Your grandma leaves soon after they do, informing you as she leaves that you have an appointment with Charlie Owens tomorrow morning, which she fully intends on attending.

            You head to your old bedroom, feeling very, very tired, and fall asleep reading Logan and Odette’s terms for the hundredth time.

            Congratulations. You have reached THE END of this path. You have a (totally meaningless) ending score of 95 (10 points for telling your mom the truth, ten points for telling Luke the truth, 10 points for coming clean with Logan, 15 points for your heart to heart with Lorelai, 15 points for meeting Odette, 5 points for experiencing a weird family meeting, and 30 points for reaching a relatively amicable resolution with Logan).

Chapter Text

            “No, stay, please,” you say to them. “I don’t want to cut everyone’s Thanksgiving short because of this. I mean,” you start rambling, “if you want to leave because this makes you uncomfortable, sure, I don’t want anyone to be uncomfortable, but don’t leave on my account…so stay or go, it’s your call…yeah, things could be weird if you stay here, but they could get even weirder if there’s no buffer so I don’t know…”

            There is a long pause as everyone stares at you and attempts to digest your answer.

            Then, mercifully, your mom breaks the silence: “Rory, honey, you gotta workshop this spoken-world Clash album you’re working on.” She claps her hands together and addresses the family: “Please, stay. And since our two wonderful chefs have just informed me that dinner is ready, let’s get eating!”

            That breaks the spell, and most of the guests hurry into the kitchen to fill their plates. The only people who remain in the living room are your mom, your grandma, and Luke, who huddle in a corner and wave you over.

            “What’s our plan here?” your mom demands.

            “Plan?” you say.

            “We’re not letting him take Victoria,” Luke cuts in.

            “Of course he’s not taking Victoria,” your grandma agrees. She scowls at you. “Rory, what on Earth were you thinking, inviting him here before consulting an attorney?”

            “I don’t think it’s a good idea to antagonize Logan more than I already have,” you try to explain. “And Victoria’s his daughter; he should be allowed to meet her…”

            You look to Luke, your most likely ally in this, just as TJ shouts from the kitchen, “Hey Luuuuuuke, what’s this stuff in the orange dish? Is it spicy?”

            Luke rolls his eyes and yells at TJ to ask Sookie, which prompts Sookie to yell that she doesn’t know; Luke was the one who made it.

            “Does it have gluten in it?” TJ demands. “I’m trying to cut out gluten!”

            “You don’t have Celiac disease, TJ!” Luke bellows.

            “You don’t have to have Celiac to cut out gluten!” TJ points out. “Al Roker doesn’t have Celiac and he swears by a gluten free diet! Does this stuffing have gluten in it? Where’s the gluten-free stuffing?”

            Thanks to TJ’s interruption, the opportunity to develop a game plan has passed: Davy and Tyler have sat down at the table, and the rest of the guests soon follow them.

            Dinner seems to simultaneously drag and fly by. Logan’s fortune continues to be a constant subject. Your mom tries to reroute the conversation a few times, but her efforts are unsuccessful. You find you don’t mind being barraged with questions about how many Fabergé eggs or Virtuix Omnis Logan could buy: as long as the guests are fixating on those questions, they’re not probing you on your love life.

            Eventually it’s time for pie; you take a few bites of one of the pies Jackson prepared, which you think is pretty good until you discover that it is actually a green tomato pie, not apple as you assumed.

            And then those plates are cleared away and your heart is thumping as you check the clock every twenty seconds. The questions about Logan’s net worth have subsided; Liz, TJ, Doula, Sookie, Jackson, and their children are playing an unenthusiastic game of 20 Questions. Your grandma sits in the chair in the corner, her back erect and not touching the back of the chair. Your mom is pacing. Luke is leaning by the front door, his arms crossed against his chest. Jess and April are washing the dishes in the kitchen, and the clattering dishes aren’t quite loud enough to completely conceal their conversation: April recounting her experiences with the child advocate who represented her in Luke and Anna’s custody dispute.

            Finally a knock sounds at the door. The game of 20 Questions ceases; everyone is staring at you. Jess or April shuts off the faucet in the kitchen, and they loiter in the archway.

            You take a deep breath, step into the foyer where Luke is, and open the door.

            Logan and a woman who must be Odette are standing there.

            “Hello,” you say softly, and move aside so they can enter the house.

            “Rory,” Logan nods at you, “Luke…this is my wife, Odette.”

            The woman beside him shoves her hand at you and pumps your hand in a frenetic handshake. “Happy Thanksgiving,” she says, her slight French accent tinning the “th” in “Thanksgiving” into a “t.”

            Logan steps into the living room and exchanges awkward greetings with the people he has met before. TJ begins to interrogate him about how many celebrities he has met.

            As your mom and your grandma attempt to stop this conversation, you study Odette. You’ve previously seen her in the background of the pictures of Logan’s wedding that Colin, Finn, and Robert uploaded to Facebook, but this is your first chance to get a good look at her.

            She’s not what you expected. You were expecting…you don’t know…an Audrey Hepburn type, maybe. The woman who stands before you looks like a brunette Judy Holliday: round-cheeked, a few inches shorter than you, with a fuller frame. She wears a flour-handprinted polka-dotted dress and a cardigan that could have been out of The Bells Are Ringing, her bun is loose and frazzled, and her mascara is somewhat smudged. She kind of looks like a disheveled home economics teacher.

            “This is a lovely home,” Odette says to you, twirling around nervously. “You have luck to have a family so big with which to pass the holiday…”

            “Thank you…” you reply. You wonder if you should just get into it now, just address the elephant in the room, but since Odette hasn’t, you try to make some chitchat. “Logan tells me this is your first Thanksgiving?”

            Odette nods so eagerly that a coil of hair falls out of her bun. “I failed at the turkey,” she admits. “I watched two YouTube videos about how to make the perfect turkey and I memorized Ina Garten’s recipe, and still I failed.” She shrugs and smiles apologetically. “Next year, ah?”

            By now, your grandma is done making terse small talk with Logan, and strides into the foyer.

            “So this is the heiress,” your grandmother says with cold formality.

            Odette freezes at your side, and then pops into a nervous curtsy.

            “Rory,” your grandma suggests, “why don’t you accompany Logan upstairs while I get to know the newest Huntzberger…”

            Odette mumbles a nervous correction about how she didn’t change her name and you spare her a pitying look as you step out of the foyer. Guilt gnaws at the bottom of your stomach. You wonder if you would have carried on with Logan all those months if you had ever bothered to meet Odette. Not that it should matter either way, but it was so much easier tamping down your guilt when you imagined Odette as some perfect, refined jetsetter, not someone who smudges her makeup.

            You ignore the dozens of eyes on you as you and Logan ascend the stairs. Logan doesn’t say anything to you; his jaw is tense. When you put your hand on the knob to your mother’s bedroom, Logan finally speaks.

            “I want to see her alone,” he says. He’s not making eye contact with you, and his voice is cold. “I’ll call you in when I’m ready for you.” Then, without waiting for your approval, he walks into the room and shuts the door behind him.

            You lean against the wall and slide to the floor. You can’t hear anything through the door. Instead, all you can hear is conversation downstairs: your grandma drilling poor Odette about what her intentions towards Vicky are. You can’t hear Odette’s responses. The other guests are talking too, although since they’re often talking at the same time, you can’t discern what exactly they’re saying.

            Eventually your mom jogs up the stairs. She frowns when she spots you sitting on the floor. “Logan’s in there alone?” she demands.

            You nod. “It’s what he wanted.”

            “He realizes he’s going to have to deal with you if he wants to be involved in Victoria’s life, right?” your mom asks.

            You shrug and change the subject. “How are things going downstairs?”

            “Oh, fine,” your mom sighs, sitting next to you. “Your grandma’s attempts to interrogate Odette kept on getting sidetracked by TJ’s questions about how many jets she can buy. And then Sookie started giving her advice on how to cook a turkey.”

            You hug your knees to your chest and lay your chin on them. “Odette seems nice…”

            “She does,” your mom agrees. “Especially for someone who just discovered her husband was constantly cheating on her during their engagement. Kinda weird how Stepford she’s being about it, actually…”

            You tighten your grip on your knees. “After Dean and Lindsay, I swore I would never have another relationship with someone who was with someone else, and here I did it again for a second time.”

            “A third time,” your mom corrects you.

            You look at her curiously.

            “Remember, you got involved with that Mark guy during the Obama campaign,” your mom reminds you. “You said he had a girlfriend who was in grad school.”

            “Oh my god, I’ve cheated with so many guys that I can’t keep track of them…” you groan and bury your face in your hands. “And I also kissed Jess when I was with Dean and kissed Jess again when I was with Logan, not to mention the fact that I was dating Paul while I was sleeping with Logan!”

            “You kissed Jess when you were with Logan?” your mom asks, confused. Apparently you never told her about that.

            Now is not the time to recount your trip to Philadelphia. “I am scum,” you mumble to yourself.

            “Hey, no you’re not!” your mom insists, wrapping an arm around you. “I mean, yeah, maybe you could do with a copy of The Ethical Slut, but you are not scum!”

            “I’m not polyamorous, mom,” you clarify. “I just don’t care about other people; I’m sociopathic!”

            “Hey, you care right now!” your mom reminds you. “And Logan was the one who was cheating on Odette, not you, and you’re the one who broke your relationship off last year, so let’s put blame where it lies.” Something occurs to her. “Wait—is Jess honestly the only one of your boyfriends who never cheated on anyone?” She cranes her head to look down the stairs. Jess is just barely visible, stretched out in a chair and reading More Notes of a Dirty Old Man. “I bet he’s cheated on someone…” she mutters accusingly.

            You think it’s a little unfair of her to make this assumption about Jess, whose recent love life is a mystery to both you and your mom. So you redirect the conversation. “Paul never cheated on anyone,” you point out.

            Your mom looks at you blankly. “Who?”

            Okay, you’re getting off topic. “How am I ever going to set a good example for Victoria?” you demand. “How can I give her decent dating advice when my love life has just been a series of dumpster fires?”

            “Kid,” your mom squeezes your shoulders, “you’ve got plenty of time to figure that out, since Vicky’s not going to be dating until she’s 40. But if you’re really worried, maybe you should…see someone…”

            “What do you mean ‘see someone?’ Like the Ladies Man?”

            “I mean like a therapist,” your mom explains.

            You raise an eyebrow and your mom continues hastily: “Sure, my therapist was a music theater nut and broke about a dozen APA ethical guidelines, but talking to her was actually really helpful. I’ll always be here to be your sounding board, but maybe you should find someone objective you can talk to.”

            “Yeah, maybe…” you admit.

            At this point, the door opens, and you and your mom shoot to your feet. “Where’s Odette?” Logan asks.

            You and your mom accompany Logan downstairs, to find that Jackson has sat Odette down at one of the tables and served her two pieces of pie: his apple pie and his green tomato pie. Odette has eaten most of both slices.

            “The tomato pie is more savory,” she’s saying.

            Jackson nods his head emphatically. “Right,” he says, “but which one would you say is better?”

            Your grandma, sitting at the table with her arms across her chest, is regarding this scene sourly. When she hears you descending, her eyes flick to Logan. “Done visiting with Victoria so soon?” she demands.

            Logan ignores her. “Odette,” he jerks his head upstairs, “I want you to meet Victoria.” He turns to you. “I’ll come and get you later,” he says, as Odette runs up the stairs.

            When Odette and Logan are both gone, Jackson claps his hands together. “I like her!” he announces. “She’s got a great palate!” He turns to Sookie, who’s collecting Odette’s plates of pie. “Doesn’t she have a great palate?”

            “Hey honey,” Sookie says nervously, “why don’t you and the kids help me clean up in the kitchen?”

            Davy, Martha, and Tyler grumble, but join her in the kitchen. Jackson does so as well, excitedly suggesting that they ask Odette to visit them out at Blue Hill Farm. “I think she’d love it!” he says.

            TJ grabs a handful of the pumpkin-spice caramel corn and pops a few kernels in his mouth. “I agree with Jackson,” he says. “What a nice lady! When I heard ‘French heiress,’ I thought she would be someone,” he waves his hand, “lah-dee-dah, y’know? But she wasn’t like that at all!”

            “Yeah,” Liz nods emphatically. “I gotta say, I was expecting a Real Housewives fight when I found out she was coming, but she was so nice!”

            “Have you all lost your minds?” your grandma snaps, rising from her chair. She whirls around the living room to stare everyone down. “Whether that woman is or is not nice is completely irrelevant. She and Logan are going to try to take Vicky away from us!”

            “Mo-om…” your mom says warningly.

            “You don’t know that, grandma,” you point out. “Logan wants to have a relationship with his daughter—he’s doing the right thing! And antagonizing him or Odette’s not going to help matters!” 

            “You should have spoken with an attorney before he even set foot in this door!” your grandma insists.

            “Excuse me,” your mom says exasperatedly to your grandma, “shouldn’t you be happy Logan is here? What about that whole ‘a child needs a mother and a father’ lecture I got hundred times?”

            Your grandmother rolls her eyes. “That’s just it. A child needs a mother. And Logan and that woman are trying to take Vicky away from her mother!”

            “What a child needs is love and support,” Liz pipes up from the couch. She tousles Doula’s hair. “It doesn’t have to come in a neat package. The best things in life are messy.”

            Jess purses his lips but remains silent, staring intently at his book. You suspect he’s holding back a comment.

            “This isn’t some situation comedy about a cobbled-together family!” your grandma exclaims. “This is real life and there are real stakes! That woman is up to something! No woman takes the revelation that her husband had an affair and fathered a lovechild in that much stride!”

            “Logan and Odette can’t exactly kidnap Vicky like witches in a fairy tale,” you point out. “I’m her legal guardian; I have rights. But I can’t just ignore what Logan wants, either.”

            “Logan has rights…” Luke pipes up. He’s leaning against the wall behind Jess and frowning.

            “And Logan has attorneys,” April adds, standing next to Luke.

            “And Logan has money,” Jess adds, still not looking up from his book.

            You’re not sure if this helps your argument or hurts it.

            “Look,” your mom says, waving her hands like an umpire calling ‘safe,’ “the fact of the matter is Logan and Odette are here. They’re up there right now,” she jerks her thumb to the ceiling, “deciding how involved they want to be. There’s no point in fighting about this now when we don’t even know what the situation is yet.” She addresses your mom specifically. “And Odette hasn’t done anything, so can you chill it with your conspiracy theories, Agent Mulder?”

            Your grandma doesn’t say anything. She just marches to the chair in the corner, sits down, and scowls at the ceiling.

            Now that there’s silence in the living room, you finally notice the hissed conversation in the kitchen between Sookie and Jackson. Soon Sookie and Jackson, red-faced, emerge.

            “So it looks like you’ve got your hands full here,” Sookie says, clapping her hands together, “and the kids have had a long day, so we’re gonna call it a night…”

            Within minutes the Belleville family is out the door, probably relieved to be gone. Liz, TJ, and Doula follow soon after, with Liz practically yanking TJ through the front door.

            “Aw man,” TJ grumbles, “we barely got to see anything…”

            Jess shuts his book and murmurs to April. “You wanna take off now?” Apparently Jess and April are both staying in Luke’s old apartment tonight.

            “Do you want to take off now?” April demands.

            Jess shrugs. “I’m fine with leaving if you want to.”

            “I’m fine with leaving if you want to.”

            The whispered conversation continues like this for a few more beats before Luke orders them to stay put. Jess opens his book again and April pulls out her phone.

            Eventually Logan descends the stairs and surveys the room. “Looks like I cleared the place out, huh?” His eyes stop on Jess. “Jesse, right?”

            Jess snaps his book shut again and surveys Logan.

            “Jess,” you correct Logan.

            “Right,” Logan nods. His eyes travel to April, who stuffs her phone into her pocket. “And this is…”

            “April,” Luke provides. “My daughter.

            “Ah…” Logan nods. He strides over to April and shakes her hand. “Logan Huntzberger, pleasure to meet you.”

            “Did you know your family owns a gold farming operation in China?” April demands. You wonder if that was what she was looking up on her phone.

            If Logan’s taken aback by this turn in the conversation, he doesn’t show it. “I did know that,” he says. “That was actually one of my investments. My dad thought it was a crazy idea—he gets a headache whenever the word ‘virtual’ comes up—but it’s done well for us.”

            Luke leans into your mom. “What’s gold farming?” he whispers to her.

            She shrugs. “No idea.”

            “Did you know that your workers in your sweatshop work twelve-hour shifts?” April demands.

            “I think you should get your facts straight, Eugene Debs,” Logan says, smiling at April. “They have the option to work twelve-hour shifts. They get paid based on how many virtual goods they earn; I don’t force them to work any set amount of hours.”

            April’s not done. “Yeah, but if they feel like they need to work twelve hours then you can’t be paying them enough.”

            Logan’s still smiling. “I pay people the going rate for the work do—more than the going rate for the work they do, actually. And I’m paying them to sit around and play video games. So while I’m flattered that you seem to think I can singlehandedly fix international labor conditions, I’m just doing the best I can with what I’ve got.”

            April looks unconvinced and asks Logan if that’s a real Rolex he’s wearing.

            “Okay,” you cut in, “I think that’s enough Crossfire—”

            Fortunately, at that moment Odette walks down the stairs. Her makeup looks even more smudged than it was earlier. She hurries to Logan’s side.

            “You’re right, Rory,” Logan agrees with you. “I think it’s time we talk about why we came here.” He looks around, his gaze traveling from your mom and Luke by the kitchen archway, to your grandma sitting in a chair in the corner, and to Jess and April, stationed near the front door. “I think Odette, you, and I should speak in private.”

            You open your mouth, but before you get any words out, your grandma speaks. “Actually, Logan,” she says, “considering that this discussion concerns us as well, I think this is a discussion we should all have.”

            Logan pointedly looks at Jess and April. “I don’t know that this concerns all of us.”

            Jess shrugs. “Hey, man, at least we were invited here tonight.”

            Odette, noticing the daggers that Logan and Jess are glaring at each other, frowns at Logan and takes his hand. “I don’t mind speaking with everyone,” she murmurs to him. “I don’t think it’s worth a fight.”

            “What matters is what Rory thinks,” your mom announces. “Like it or not, Logan,” she says, “we’re operating on her terms.” She looks at you. “Well, kid, what do you want to do?”

            Speak with Logan and Odette privately   OR    speak with everyone present

Chapter Text

            “What is that?” April demands as you walk out of Sookie’s house.

            It’s easy to tell what she’s talking about: it’s Hep Alien. You can hear one of their old originals that you haven’t heard since high school. They must be playing at Mrs. Kim’s Thanksgiving celebration. You tell April this.

            “Want to stop by and say hello?” you ask April. You imagine she got to know Lane and Zack fairly well from their time at Luke’s Diner.

            But April’s not interested. “One of us should really get this lemon pepper back to Sookie,” she explains. “But you can stop by, if you want. It only takes one person to deliver this.” She shakes the spice container.

            She’s not wrong. You thank her and head in the direction towards Mrs. Kim’s.

            “Rory,” Mrs. Kim greets you brusquely as you enter the house. She’s standing by the stairs in a clump of relatives you remember from past events at the Kim household. “Happy Thanksgiving.”

            “Hi, Mrs. Kim,” you say awkwardly, hoping she won’t mind you just barging into her house. “Sorry for crashing the party—”

            “Nonsense,” she interrupts you. As always, she sounds annoyed, but since she’s currently watching Kwan tottering on a dining room chair holding a red-colored beverage, you suspect that the annoyed tone isn’t meant for you. “Lane will be happy to see you…” She drifts off, still staring at Kwan, who’s now leaning the chair back. “She is in the other room…” As if in a trance, Mrs. Kim moves past you, and then starts barking at Kwan in Korean. Kwan jumps in his seat, splattering red drink everywhere. The carpet now looks like a crime scene Lennie Briscoe might visit.

            You step into the living room, where Hep Alien is playing. Lane enthusiastically waves at you with her left drumstick as you enter, and then crashes the drumstick onto the cymbals as the current song enters the bridge. Brian, staring down at his bass, doesn’t seem to notice you, but Zack and Gil both nod at you.

            There’s an extra guitarist playing with them who nods at you, too. It takes a few seconds for you to recognize him, but then you realize that it’s Dave Rygalski. He looks the same as he did in high school, except that his hair is shaggier and he’s wearing chunky Buddy Holly glasses.

            You wave at him; they’re in the middle of the song right now, so an actual conversation will have to wait.

            The room’s crowded with Lane’s relatives, and a few blonds who are probably related to Gil. The Kim weddings you used to attend seem like a lifetime ago, so there’s no one you recognize except…

            “Hi Kyon!” you say as you approach a bespectacled woman standing in the corner slowly sipping a can of salad water.

            “Rory,” she nods at you. “Happy Thanksgiving.”

            The last you heard, Kyon was a CPA, and got her citizenship a few years ago. “I hear you’re living in Baltimore now,” you say.

            Kyon raises an eyebrow at you. “That was a year ago,” she announces, sounding a little miffed you haven’t kept up with her life. “I moved to Stars Hollow and work at a firm in Hartford.”

            “Oh, sorry,” you apologize. “I’ve been a little busy…”

            “Yes, congratulations on your baby,” Kyon says, sounding uninterested. “Lane says you do not have a job?”

            This is shaping out to be a great conversation… “I’m still doing freelance writing,” you tell her. “Nothing big—just an occasional piece for some smaller sites. With Victoria, I need a flexible work schedule.”

            Kyon nods, takes another sip of salad water, and cringes.

            “That stuff’s awful, isn’t it?” you ask understandingly.

            She nods. “I drank it when I used to live here, but it is much worse than I remember…”

            That seems to break the ice, and soon you draw Kyon into a more natural conversation. Since she moved back, she and Brian have started dating again, and reading between the lines, you’re guessing he was a large part of why Kyon decided that Baltimore was just not right for her. The move back to Stars Hollow makes sense, she informs you, since she’s one of the investors in Sophie and Lane’s scheme to open a recording studio in Stars Hollow. They’ve just started soundproofing the space right next to Sophie’s.

            At this point, Hep Alien has finished their song. Brian jogs over to you and Kyon, gives you a quick hello, and pulls Kyon over to say hello to his parents, who are apparently in another room.

            “Rory!” Gil greets you, pulling you into a hug. He releases you. “I hear you’re busy being a dynamite mom these days! Parenting’s a wild ride, right?”

            You agree with him, and tell him that Hep Alien sounded great.

            “I want to see pictures of the littlest Gilmore,” Gil demands, but unfortunately, you don’t have your phone on you right now.

            As you’re telling him this, Dave and Zack walk up, and you exchange “Happy Thanksgivings.” Lane has been waylaid by some relatives.

            “It’s so nice to see you, Dave!” you exclaim. “I didn’t know you’d be in town!”

            Dave grins and gives you a quick hug. “It was a last minute thing,” he informs you. “I didn’t think I’d be able to get off work, and then it turns out I could—so I manage to get this last-minute flight, only to find out that my parents are planning on spending their Thanksgiving camped out in a Walmart parking lot.”

            “Yeah, dude,” Zack says, swigging some bottled water, “your parents got weird.”

            Dave shrugs, and from his expression you’d guess he agrees with Zack but has too much filial piety to do so out loud. “So I called up Zack,” he continues, “and here I am!”

            “This guy here,” Gil pulls Dave into a one-armed hug, “slays at the axe! I’m glad I didn’t know what big shoes I had to fill back when I auditioned!”

            You manage to get a quick update on Dave’s life: he works at ASCAP’s LA office doing some job you don’t fully understand, but involves the word “liaisons.” He’s not married, and he’s impressed by the awesome family Lane and Zack have started. “Have you listened to the songs Steve and Kwan are writing with Mixcraft?” he asks. “It’s insane, what’s they’re doing!”

            “You start liking their music a lot less when you’re the one they’re hassling for $200 Vocaloid software,” Zack says, but you can tell he’s excited he gets to show his kids off to his old friend.

            Mrs. Kim asks for (or really, demands) Zack, Gil, and Dave’s help the red drink disaster, and they leave just as Lane has managed to extract herself from her relatives.

            “So,” you say, smiling at her, “Hep Alien’s got a special guest star today!”

            She’s beaming so much you’re worried her lips might snap. “Yeah,” she says, “it’s great seeing him again, isn’t it?”

            “Is it?” you check. “Dave’s a great guy, but he is your ex. It’s not weird?”

            “Nah,” she shakes her head, still beaming. “I was a little worried it might be, but it’s not at all! It’s been so much fun jamming with him—we played through all of our old catalog, and it’s weird—now that Dave’s back I realize how much better we’ve all gotten! I guess fifteen years of practice will do that to you. Dave and Gil did this amazing dueling banjos thing—only they did it on guitar, of course, and it was so awesome! This whole day has been awesome!” She squeezes you in an impulsive hug, which you return.

            Soon, Hep Alien + Dave are back to playing. Dave takes over the keyboard as they do a kickass cover of The Barenaked Ladies’ “Enid.” Then it’s They Might Be Giants’ “XTV vs. Adam Ant.” Then it’s a mind-blowing rendition of “Hollaback Girl.” The hits keep on coming, mostly covers at this point since apparently they exhausted a lot of their originals before you arrived. Later on, during a cover of Rancid’s “Fall Back Down” Mrs. Kim walks up to you holding the cordless phone.

            “Your mother,” she says, and then hurries off, having noticed another child daring to hold a beverage while sitting on furniture.

            You step outside to take the call, and realize when you do that you have totally lost track of time—it’s already dark outside. You should have headed back an hour ago.

            “Hey mom,” you say, “sorry, I totally lost track of time—”

            “—that’s fine,” your mom says. She sounds weird. “But you need to get back now.”

            “Yeah, I’ll leave right now,” you assure her. “Sorry—Hep Alien was playing and—”

            “Logan’s here,” your mom informs you.

            It takes you a few seconds to speak. “Excuse me?” you finally say.

            “Logan Huntzberger is sitting in my living room,” your mom informs you. “If I lean over…” a pause, “I can see him sitting on my couch. TJ and Liz are talking to him, so I can only imagine that conversation is one for the ages.”

            “Logan’s here?” you repeat. “Logan’s in Stars Hollow? But Logan’s in London!”

            “Nuh-uh, gumshoe,” your mom corrects you. “Logan’s deeeeefinitely in my living room.”

            This doesn’t make sense. “Why is Logan in Stars Hollow?”

            “Well, let’s see…” your mom says, “either it’s because he heard that Sookie’s making those chive and cheddar biscuits everyone goes crazy over, or it’s because, I don’t know, he found out you’ve been keeping his daughter a secret from him?”

            Busted.

            “Uh…” you say.

            “Rory!” your mom is hissing into the phone now. “I can’t believe you! You told me you’d told Logan!”

            “I’m sorry!” you say quickly. “I meant to tell him, but I kept putting it off, and—”

            “So you lied to me?” your mom demands.

            “Mom, I’m really sorry,” you say.

            Your mom sighs. “Whatever. I have to hold off on being angry with you for the moment because we’ve got bigger problems. Logan arrived a few minutes ago—I guess he saw a picture of Victoria on Facebook and recognized her—and why did you tell him she was Jess’s daughter? No! Never mind!” She stops this line of conversation. “We have to hold off on that, too! Get over here now!”

            You could head home right now for what’s sure to be a stressful, loud confrontation with Logan. In front of your family. And Sookie’s family.

            On the other hand, another option is to ask to speak with Logan on the phone right now. Maybe you can arrange to meet somewhere that’s…not your house to hash things out.

Chapter Text

            Jackson is delighted when you volunteer to help him clean. You send April on her way, Jackson pops in a Best of Air Supply CD, and the two of you get to cleaning, with Jackson discussing his life at Blue Hill Farm.

            “…and of course I love working with the people there, coming up with new strains, and Dan just introduced rasquat cheesecake at one of his restaurants and it went over great,” Jackson is saying as he and you attempt to mop the spattered fruit mush off the ceiling, “but I dunno…I feel like it hasn’t been great for the kids…”

            “What do you mean?” you grunt, thrusting your mop upwards and once again failing to remove an orange splotch of pumpkin.

            “It was supposed to be this temporary thing,” Jackson says. He tries and fails to mop away some blueberry. “That’s what we always told them. One year. And then Sookie extends it to two. And now we’re just there indefinitely, popping back to Stars Hollow for these sporadic visits—we haven’t even sold this house yet!” He knocks the mop against the blueberry stain ineffectively once more.

            “You might consider selling the house if we can’t get those stains out…” you suggest. “Hold on.” You grab a chair and use it to step onto the counter. From here, you have an easier time getting at the fruit stains. You start cleaning the pumpkin stain with a sponge.

            Jackson applauds you on your solution. “That’s why you got into Yale!”

            “Oh yeah,” you quip, “during my admission interview, I showed the dean the proper way to polish silver and that clinched it.” Having successfully removed the pumpkin stain, you move onto the blueberry one. “So the kids are having problems?”

            “They don’t have as many friends as they did in Stars Hollow,” Jackson reports. Now that you’re taking care of the ceiling, he’s moved onto cleaning the dishes, and he has to speak more loudly to be heard over the noise of the running water. “I don’t know—Stars Hollow is a weird, friendly place.”

            “That’s what it says on the website,” you agree, scrubbing vigorously at the blue stain.

            “But I can’t help wondering,” Jackson continues, “if maybe the reason why they haven’t made that many friends is because they’re living with one foot out the door. Like Davey—he and I talked about him joining the wrestling team. He took a class at the YMCA and everything. But then he didn’t wind up signing up for his school team, and he wouldn’t tell us why, but I think it’s because he doesn’t want to make a commitment when we might be moving back here.”

            Or, you think to yourself, it could just be that Davey doesn’t actually want to be on the wrestling team in the first place. But you don’t say that to Jackson. Instead, you just ask if he and Sookie have made any plans to come back.

            “Sure, we’ve made plans to come back,” Jackson says. “And then the next day, we make plans to stay there. Sookie keeps flipflopping—it’s like making longterm plans with Jo—” he stumbles, “…someone who can’t make up their mind…” he finished lamely.

            “You were going to say John Kerry?” you guess.

            “Yeah,” he admits, “but I stopped myself before I sounded like a Fox News commentator.”

            “Where do you want to stay?” you ask him. “Stars Hollow or Blue Hill Farm?”

            “Either’s fine,” Jackson tells you. “I like the people in New York, but I miss your mom and Andrew, and even Michel—” He stops scrubbing a bowl and looks up at you sharply. “Don’t tell him that.”

            “I’m a vault,” you promise him.

            “And I like all the resources at Blue Hill Farms, but when I’m running my own operation in Stars Hollow, I can pick my own projects, which I like.” He shrugs. “Both options work. I wish I could see how they both play out, like a Sliding Doors situation.”

            You can relate to the feeling. You often wish you could see how things would have played out at critical moments in your life if you’d taken another path. “But life doesn’t work like that…” you sigh. By now, you’ve cleaned up the whole ceiling, so you hop off the counter.

            “No,” Jackson shakes his head, “it doesn’t. Sooner or later, you’ve got to make a choice.” He takes the sponge from your hand and runs it under the faucet, wringing it out. “At this point, I don’t think it really matters which choice we make, just that we make a choice. So the kids know that they’re settled. Honestly, I’d be fine with flipping a coin.”

            “I’m not sure how long the Dragonfly can manage with temporary chefs,” you point out. Over the past couple of years, you’ve overheard several hissed arguments between your mom and Michel about it. You and your mom haven’t talked about it much, but you gather that Michel was been pushing her to hire a permanent chef and your mom has been resisting. Right now they have their head chef on a six month contract.

            “The thought of someone else in the Dragonfly’s kitchen drives Sookie crazy. But…” Jackson shrugs, “everyone else doesn’t stop living their lives when you’re gone.”

            You remember that sting in your gut those months ago when you saw photos of Logan’s wedding pop up in your Facebook feed. Again, you have to agree with Jackson.

            You and Jackson continue cleaning the kitchen in companionable silence, except for occasionally humming along when one of the better Air Supply songs plays. By the time you finish, you find that it’s already time to head to your house, so you and the Belleville family head outside bearing seven pies.

            You’re swept up in hugs when you enter your house. Your grandma first, then Liz, and then TJ.

            “At last the prodigal daughter returns!” your mother wails when she walks out of the kitchen and spots you. “Darling daughter, it’s been an eternity!” She gathers you a dramatic hug.

            “It’s been a couple of hours,” you correct her.

            “That’s how long Far and Away was, and that movie lasted an eternity!” your mom points out as she releases you. “So by the transitive property…”

            “I get it, I get it,” you assure her.

            Most of the guests have gathered around Victoria, who receives praise from all corners. The only people who don’t crowd around her are Davey, slumped in a chair in the corner playing a game on his smartphone, and Jess, April, Sookie, and Luke, who are in the kitchen.

            Since you, Jackson, and the kids are the last to arrive, it’s only ten or so minutes until Sookie announces it’s time for dinner. There’s a race to the kitchen so everyone can load up their plates, and you ignore your grandma’s protest and put Victoria back upstairs in her crib. You see a few shopping bags set on the floor next to the crib, and realize your grandma has basically bought out a high end infant clothing store.

            Before you head back downstairs, you check your phone, which you left up there this morning. Some Facebook notifications you don’t bother looking at, one 22-minute voicemail message from Paris, and five missed phone calls from Logan.

            Logan? What on earth is he calling you about? For a moment you wonder why he didn’t leave a voicemail message if it was so important, but you think you have your answer: Paris’s 22-minute voicemail message probably clogged your inbox.

            There’s only one way to find that out, but with everyone waiting for you downstairs, you can’t exactly call Logan now. That’ll have to wait for later.

            You walk downstairs to find that almost everyone has sat down, but your mom and grandma have reserved a seat from you in between them. The dinner is mostly a nice one…the food is delicious, of course, and your grandma is eager to catch up with you. You tell her all about Victoria and tread lightly on the subject of your book: your grandma wasn’t happy when you told her about it before.

            Keeping in mind your conversation with Jackson, you also try to engage Davey in conversation, asking him about his school and whether he knows what college he wants to attend, but since Davey is only fourteen, he doesn’t have many opinions on the subject, and his eyes drift down to his phone as you’re talking to him.

            April, noticing you have been rebuffed, chimes in, and manages to get Davey talking about something called “Twitch” that you’ve never heard of. You feel depressingly out-of-touch. You’re a mom, teenagers don’t want to talk to you, and you don’t know what Twitch is.

            As everyone is polishing off the last morsels from their plates, someone knocks at the door. Luke, closest to the front door, answers it.

            “Luke,” you hear someone say in a familiar voice.

            Everyone swivels to the foyer as Logan Huntzberger steps into the living room. Luke follows him, slack-jawed.

            “Logan!” you exclaim.

            It’s him. Just standing there.

            “Ace,” he replies. His eyes dart around to the dinner party. “Happy Thanksgiving.” He has that exhausted yet manic look you remember him having so often during your junior year of college, when your nights together more often than not would end with you driving a tipsy Logan home. But you can tell from his steady stance that he’s sober.

            At this point, your brain is divided. Part of your brain is ordering your legs to stand up, an order that your legs are ignoring. Part of your brain is wishing you’d taken the time to call Logan the moment you noticed the missed calls. And part of your brain is noticing the reactions of the people around you. Your mother drops a fork full of mashed potatoes. Your grandmother is absolutely motionless. T.J. leans over to Liz and loudly hisses, “Who is this guy?” When Liz whispers the answer to him, T.J. exclaims, “Wait—that’s Logan? That Rockefeller guy she stole a boat with?”

            “Sorry to interrupt your dinner, everyone,” Logan apologizes. “Lorelai—Emily.”

            Lorelai shoots him a strained smile. Emily raises an eyebrow and says, “Logan” in a voice so cold that it makes Jack Nicholson at the end of The Shining seem warm and toasty in comparison.

            Logan addresses you: “Rory, could we speak alone?”

            If Logan has come all the way out to Stars Hollow, whatever he wants to talk to you about must be important. You’re not sure if that makes you want to have this conversation in private or here, surrounded by friends and family.

            What’s it going to be, Rory? Have a private conversation or stay where you are?

Chapter Text

            “I don’t understand,” you say slowly, “why you seem to feel there’s a deadline approaching. I’m told they’ll still give you the diploma even if you’re a virgin.”

            “I know there’s no deadline,” April lets out an exasperated sigh, as if you’re the one being difficult, “but it feels like all of my friends have had sex. One by one, and then there was one.” She indicates herself.

            A large group of Japanese businessmen enter the inn at that moment and head towards Michel, who barely manages to contain his annoyance as he sets down the phone and begins helping them. It’s going to be a while before Michel gets back to you.

            April is still talking. “When did you have sex for the first time?” Before you can respond, she jumps in her seat. “Wait—was it with Jess?” She scrunches her nose. “If it was, don’t tell me. I don’t want to think about my cousin having sex, especially not with my step sister. So if it was Jess, please lie.”

            “It wasn’t with Jess,” you say.

            “Are you lying to me?” she instantly demands.

            “It really wasn’t with Jess,” you assure her. “I had sex for the first time after Jess and I broke up.”

            “So, you were in college, then?” April guesses.

            “Ye-es…” you admit, “but just because I was in college, it doesn’t mean that you have to catch up. There’s no rush.”

            April raises an eyebrow. “Spoken from one unplanned pregnancy to another…so…” she sits up in her chair and stares at you with that shameless intensity you find a little off-putting, “are you happy you had sex when you did?”

            You have to be diplomatic here. “There were some surrounding circumstances that made it…not exactly something I’d want on the ‘Rory Gilmore, this is your life’ highlight reel,” you admit, “but looking back on it…” you shrug, “maybe it was for the best. I don’t know…” You martial your thoughts. “I’m not going to channel Billy Graham and tell you not to have sex. You’re the only one who can decide if it’s a good time for you. But what I will say,” you quickly add, before April can interject, “is that based on my experience, decisions that I made because I felt desperate or pressured or scared usually weren’t good ones.”

            “Like?” April prompts you.

            Jeez, why doesn’t this girl have any boundaries?

            “Like…” you say, looking up to the ceiling as you think of an example. You don’t really want to get into the whole ‘grand theft boating’ incident or running to Europe to avoid Dean. April will just have to read about those in your book. Finally you think of an example you wouldn’t mind sharing. “Like Paul,” you say. You ready yourself for another wearisome “Paul who?” conversation.

            “Paul your ex-boyfriend?” April asks.

            You blink a few times. “You remember him?”

            “Um…” April looks at you like you’re crazy. “Of course I remember him. You dated for three years—I met him like, five times. We all saw Mad Max: Fury Road together—remember?”

            You remember seeing Mad Max: Fury Road. You remember your mom air guitaring and making horrible fake guitar sounds. You remember Luke complaining about minor plot holes and you remember April exclaiming that she had loved it.

            You don’t remember Paul. Had Paul been there? Huh.

            “You don’t remember?” April demands. “Paul told us that story about the time that he met Mel Gibson?”

            Paul met Mel Gibson? You strain your memory for a few more seconds before giving up. “Anyway,” you continue, “I dated Paul at a time when my career wasn’t all that I wanted it to be.”

            April raises an eyebrow but for once knows to keep her mouth shut. You’re sure that right now she’s asking herself ‘Is her career all that she wants it to be now?’ but you go on with your story.

            “I knew pretty early on that Paul wasn’t the one,” you admit, “but I keep dating him long after I figured that out. I just felt like such a Frances Ha—I couldn’t find any stable job. And Paris was starting Dynasty Makers and Doyle had become this big success and Lane had her family, and I would just look on Facebook at all of these old classmates of mine, and it seemed like everyone was getting their medical licenses or climbing Mount Everest or passing the bar, and here I was still struggling to get anything published.” You take a deep breath. April isn’t exactly your ideal confidante, but it is nice getting this off your chest. “So I kept dating Paul way longer than I should have and I think a lot of it was because at least as long as I was dating Paul, one part of my life would look successful.”

            At some point during this heavy conversation, the Japanese businessmen have left, you realize, along with Michel. You didn’t notice where they went to. From across the room, you can see orange buttons flashing on the phone.

            You continue speaking to April. “I dated Paul for three years, just making excuses to delay breaking up with him because when I compared my life to everyone else’s lives, I didn’t like what I saw.” You look April in the eye. “That’s the kind of crummy thing you do when you’re so scared that you start making important life decisions based on what other people are doing and not on what you want to do.”

            “Wow,” April says eventually. She plays with her god’s eye necklace. “No offense, Rory, but that’s messed up.”

            You try not to take offense. Your behavior towards Paul was pretty awful.

            “But,” April continues, “thanks for telling me that. I guess maybe I am a little bit too concerned with everyone else. You know,” she says, extending her legs and crossing them at the ankles, “last year for a few days I became convinced that I was a lesbian.”

            Oh jeez, this heart to heart isn’t over yet, is it?

            “A lot of my friends were coming out at that time,” April continues, “and I thought ‘maybe I am, too.’ I mean, I didn’t want to date any of the guys I knew and I thought maybe that was the reason. But then my friend Elle and I binged all of the X-Files and I realized that I couldn’t be a lesbian because Gillian Anderson is the most beautiful woman on the planet, but I was still staring at Mulder, not Scully. And then I realized that my guy friends were just kind of idiots with poor hygiene, and maybe that was why I wasn’t interested in them…”

            You zone out as April begins to complain about her friend Greg, who insists he does not need deodorant (he does) and you notice Michel walking to you. He has in his hands a container of lemon pepper.

            Finally.

            “Now, if you please to go,” Michel sighs, waving you off, “I do not want more of our guests to see you and get the impression we are running a Star Trek-themed youth hostel.”

            He’s evidently referring to April, who’s wearing a T-shirt with what looks like a cylindrical spaceship on it.

            “This is Babylon 5, not Star Trek,” April corrects him.

            But Michel doesn’t care. He looks you in the eye and says, “Her mouth moves, yet all I can hear is ‘Beam me up, Scotty.’”

            As you and April walk away from the inn, April grumbles to herself that Kirk never even said that.

            Sookie thanks you when you drop the lemon pepper off with her. April lounges on the couch, intent on her phone, and you walk up the second floor. It’s almost Victoria’s feeding time.

            You walk into your mom’s bedroom and find your mom lying belly-down on her bed, flipping through an issue of People.

            “Have you even heard of Blake Shelton before?” she demands as she flips to another page. “Sexiest man alive? Honestly? With all the Chrises walking the earth—Hemsworth, Evans, Pine, Pratt—heck, even Chris Hardwick would be an improvement.”

            “It’s just a publicity thing,” you inform her. “Blake Shelton must have made some sort of deal with People magazine.”

“So much for journalistic integrity,” your mom snorts. “I question People’s voting system when Idris Elba still walks the earth.”

            You’re happy to jump down this rabbit hole with your mom. “Maybe People uses gerrymandered map,” you suggest. You look into Victoria’s crib and find her sleeping peacefully. Better not wake her up just yet. You still have fifteen minutes until you typically feed her.

            “Maybe Idris didn’t do enough campaigning,” your mom murmurs. She flips to another picture of Blake Shelton and scrunches up her nose.

            “Yeah,” you agree, sitting next to your mom on the bed. “If only Idris had visited Michigan…”

            You hear a buzzing and quickly spot the source of the noise: your phone, which sits balanced on the upturned soles of your mom’s feet.

            “Someone’s calling you again,” your mom announces, flipping to another picture of Blake Shelton. “Little miss popular over here—I’ve raised such a Marcia Brady.”

            “I don’t think Carol Brady used Marcia’s cellphone to give herself foot massages,” you point out. You pick up the phone and begin scrolling through your notifications.

            “That’s just because they didn’t have cell phones in the 60s,” you mom says. “They’ll add that in when they reboot it. Hey,” she notices the shocked expression on her face, “what’s up, kiddo?”

            “Logan,” you announce. “He called me.” He called you five times. One 22 minute voicemail message from Paris, one notification from amazon.com, and five calls from Logan.

            “Logan?” your mother demands. She sits up and her copy of People falls on the comforter, Blake Shelton’s stupid face looking up at you. “Logan Huntzberger?”

            “Well, it’s not Wolverine,” you reply. You hand your phone to your mom so she can see the call log.

            She scrolls through the call log and lets out a low whistle. “Five calls, no voicemail messages, no texts…”

            “Maybe he didn’t leave a voicemail message because Paris filled up my inbox,” you suggest. 22 minutes was a record length voicemail message, even for her.

            “Have you talked to Logan since you told him about Victoria?”

            You take a deep breath. With Logan trying to contact you while Jess reluctantly keeps your secret, maybe now is the time to admit to your mom that you haven’t told Logan yet. On the other hand, you’re expecting guests soon. Maybe this conversation would go better on a day when you are not expecting the imminent arrivals of your grandma and T.J.

            TELL HER or DON’T

Chapter Text

            “We don’t have the time to really get into right now because…” you stand up from your chair, “Sookie needs that lemon pepper. I’m gonna go back into the kitchen and get it—this wait is ridiculous!”

            Fortunately for you, a large group of Japanese business men enter the inn at that point, heading straight for Michel. The crowd is noisy enough that they drown out April’s responses, and large enough that Michel doesn’t notice as you slip past the stairs. You step into the kitchen.

            There’s something so wrong about seeing another chef leading the team at the Dragonfly. You know Sookie wanted to leave, but still, as you enter to find a mustachioed man barking orders at the kitchen staff, there’s a twinge in your gut, the same twinge you had when you drove past your grandparent’s old house and realized the new owner had dug up the rosebushes that your grandmother prized so much.

            “Undercooked?” the new chef is screeching to a quailing server. “She says my steak is undercooked? Maybe I should take my shoe off and give that to her, because she clearly has no taste—” He kicks his foot onto the counter and begins fumbling with his shoe laces.

            While the chef is doing is best impression of Tony Shalhoub from Big Night, you slip into the pantry. The Dragonfly doesn’t keep its spices in small McCormick canisters, but rather in large bags and Tupperware containers. You find a Ziploc bag and spoon some lemon pepper into it, and you’re about to make good your escape when you hear the pantry door swing open behind you.

            “Hands up!” someone says.

            You whip around to see Frederick, Michel’s husband, standing in the entrance. He’s wearing a track suit and a disappointed expression. “Rory, Rory, Rory,” he shakes his head and puts his hands on his hips. “Stealing from your mother’s place of business. Have things really gotten that dire?”

            Whatever shock you were experiencing disappears immediately. Your face breaks into a smile as you hold up the bag and shrug. “Sorry, Frederick,” you reply, “but times are tough right now. I can’t even burn my writing for warmth like in Les Miserables; everything’s digital now.”

            Frederick nods understandingly. “I suppose in light of that hardship, I’ll hold off on turning you in.” He walks over to the other shelf and begins pulling out Tupperware containers and peering into them. “And please call me Fred,” he adds, “only Michel calls me Frederick.” He’d hug you, Fred adds, but he doesn’t want to get sweat on you. He was just jogging, which explains the track suit.

            He opens a Tupperware container labeled “semi-sweet” and tilts it into his palm. Chocolate chips spill onto. He pops a few into his mouth and closes his eyes. “Chocolate…” he sighs, “it’s even better than I remember! Augustus Gloop chose a great way to go!”

            It doesn’t take long for you to get the whole story: in anticipation of the fattening holiday season, Michel has put himself and Frederick on a diet, eliminating anything bearing the slightest resemblance to candy from their household. You spare a moment of pity for Frederick and Michel’s soon-to-arrive child, whose big act of teenage rebellion will probably be finding out how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop.

            When you ask Frederick why he chose to cheat on the diet at Michel’s place of work rather than just running to a grocery store and buying a Snickers, Frederick grins and shovels some more chocolate chips into his mouth. “It’s more fun this way,” he says. “Now,” he nods at the bag you’re holding, “I explained my thing; you explain yours.”

            You tell him about the events that led you to the kitchen.

            “Sookie’s cooking?” Frederick demands, tossing two more chocolate chips into his mouth. “And you didn’t invite me? The man who’s been living on quinoa and Grape Nuts for the last two months?”

            You frown. “You were invited. My mom said she invited you and Michel, but Michel said that you and he would be having your own Thanksgiving after his shift ended.”

            “What?” Frederick slams the Tupperware container on the shelf, inadvertently knocking the nearby container of oatmeal to the floor. “Michel’s and my plans tonight consist of watching DVR’d episodes of the Property Brothers and eating kale! That calorie-calculator never mentioned anything about a Thanksgiving invitation!”

            It’s at that point that the door swings open and Michel enters the pantry. He freezes, staring at the two of you, the chocolate smeared on Frederick’s lips and the lemon pepper bag in your hands no doubt filling in some blanks.

            The closet erupts into a bilingual argument. Frederick is shouting about Michel lying to him, and Michel’s side is in French, so you can’t fully totally understand it, but you catch the word “doctor” a few times. You manage to slip out, and you and April have left the property, probably before Michel or Frederick have even noticed your absence.

            You arrive back at your mom’s house, entering through the kitchen door to find your mom pacing around the kitchen on her phone while Sookie and Luke are still occupied preparing food. You hand the bag of lemon pepper to Sookie, who barely acknowledges you. She’s distracted by your mom’s telephone conversation, which you soon realize is the result of your run-in with Frederick: Michel and Frederick are now joining you for dinner, and Michel is insisting on a healthy menu.

            “It’s too late for that, Michel!” your mom is saying. “The marshmallows are already in the sweet potato casserole—the die is cast, the bell is rung—to quote the Eagles, get over it!” She holds the phone away from her head, wincing at the French-accented shouting audible even across the room. “Sook, anything you can do?”

            Sookie pulls out her cell phone. “I can see if Jackson has some more sweet potatoes—maybe I could roast a couple special for them—” She swipes through her contacts and begins speaking with Jackson.

            Luke, stirring the gravy, grumbles about how he doesn’t see why his wild rice stuffed butternut squash isn’t healthy enough for Michel, and why is everyone bending over to accommodate Michel, anyway?

            Thanks to the last minute additions to your guest list, the kitchen is even more chaotic than before, so you and April judge it best to leave. April settles on the couch and begins flipping through the only nearby literature (People Magazine’s Sexiest Man of the Year issue). It’s about time for Vicky’s feeding time, so you head upstairs.

            When you pad into your mom and Luke’s bedroom, where Vicky’s crib is temporarily set up, you find that your grandma is sitting in the rocking chair with Vicky in her arms. She must have arrived while you were out.

            “Rory!” she greets you. “Happy Thanksgiving!”

            She sets down an empty bottle and informs you that your mom mentioned it was Vicky’s feeding time, so she volunteered to do the honors when your mom got pulled away by Michel’s phone call. She waves away your thanks.

            “Nonsense!” she says. “Who wouldn’t love spending time with this little darling?”

            You fill her in on all of the exciting happenings in Victoria’s life, and your grandma shares a few anecdotes about the museum. She also informs you that Berta has given her a recipe for homemade baby food. She hands you a piece of paper written in a language you don’t recognize.

            “The measurements are clear enough,” your grandma informs you, “but calbezi ivierne—that’s winter squash, which you need to steam and strain.  And arroza pulvi is rice powder, which you need to put in the food processor with the squash—why aren’t you writing this down?”

            You grab a pen and scribble your grandma’s explanations onto the recipe that you are probably never going to make. You suspect that making Victoria eat food that you’ve cooked would be classified as child endangerment in some states.

            “So…” your grandma asks with a studied disinterest, “have you heard from Logan lately?”

            As far as your grandma knows, Logan knows about Victoria and figuring out how involved he wants to be. You haven’t had the courage to tell her that Logan doesn’t even know about his daughter, particularly because you know that on some level, she’s still hoping Logan will divorce his wife, marry you, and form a neat Leave It to Beaver family.

            “Not lately…” you answer.

            “Have you contacted him lately?” your grandma wants to know.

            “Not lately…” you repeat.

            Your grandma sighs in despair. “Rory, are you even trying to make Victoria a proper family?”

            This stings. “She has a proper family,” you insist. “And Logan’s married.”

            Your grandma shakes her head. “We both know marriages aren’t always forever. You’re not doing your daughter any favors clinging to your precious pride. If you want Logan in your life, you need to pick up the phone and tell him that. You need to give him an actual choice.”

            It’s frustrating, because with the facts your grandma’s operating under, she’s being unfair. She thinks you told Logan, Logan doesn’t know if he wants to get involved, and this is somehow your fault for not pursuing him enough?

            But considering what the circumstances actually are, your grandma’s not that wrong after all.   

            “Whoever said I want Logan in my life?” you demand.

            Your grandma rolls her eyes and looks significantly at Victoria. “Really, Rory,” she says, “this is very tiresome. Why can’t you just be honest with me?”

            What do you want to tell your grandma, Rory?

            TELL HER YOU DO WANT TO BE WITH LOGAN      OR    TELL HER YOU DON’T WANT TO BE WITH LOGAN

Chapter Text

            “Actually,” you say, trying to keep your voice nonchalant, “we’re in the middle of dinner. Now’s not a good time.” Whatever Logan wants, it can wait.

            “You’re really going to do this?” Logan demands. “You’re going to force me to have this conversation in front of everyone?” When you don’t say anything, he shakes his head. “Fine, we’ll do this your way.” He sits between Liz and Doula. That had been Jess’s seat, but he’d left to start washing dishes. He hasn’t returned, and you wonder if he is standing in the kitchen, listening in on everything.

            “We weren’t expecting you, Logan,” your grandma says cautiously. “I thought you were living in London these days.”

            “London’s not known for good Thanksgivings,” Logan answers. He isn’t even looking at your grandma—he’s just scowling at you. “I came back to celebrate with my folks.”

            “Oh God, Mitchum and Shira aren’t coming too, are they?” your mom blurts and swivels in her seat, as if expecting the Huntzbergers to leap out behind the sofa holding a sweet potato pie.

            “What’s going on here, Rory?” Luke demands. He jabs a finger in Logan’s direction. “Did you invite this guy?”

            You shake your head and Luke rises from his chair, but you put your hand on his arm before he can eject Logan out of the house Uncle-Phil-style.

            TJ is leaning forward in his seat to get a good look at Logan. “You her Rockefeller ex-boyfriend?” he demands. “The one she stole a boat with?”

            “Rory stole a boat?” April demands.

            “Cool!” yells Tyler, Sookie and Jackson’s youngest child. “Did you take it to international waters?”

             Logan ignores all this and just addresses you. “I’m not going to leave until we talk about this,” he announces.

            “I’m sorry,” your mom says, looking back and forth between you and Logan. “Anyone care to fill in the blanks, here? Is this about Victoria?”

            You consider kicking your mom under the table, but it’s too late. Not that it would have made a difference in the first place, because when Logan hears the name, he doesn’t look confused. That’s when you realize it: he already knows.

            “Victoria Emily Gilmore,” Logan says, and pulls a piece of paper from his jacket pocket and reads from it. “Born July 3rd, 2017 at the New York Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital…mother: Lorelai Leigh Gilmore…that’s you,” he points at you, “father…funny, it’s blank, but I’ve got a guess.” Then he lays the piece of paper on the table, and you can see it’s a birth certificate. “I may not be John Nash, but I can subtract nine months.”

            “I don’t understand…” your grandma says, picking up the birth certificate to study it. She stares at you. “I thought you—”

            “I didn’t tell Logan,” you announce, recognizing that the jig is up. Logan knows, and there’s absolutely no way you can keep any of this from coming out now, not when Luke, your mom, and your grandma all thought that Logan already knew about his daughter. You address Logan. “Victoria is your daughter. I’m sorry I didn’t tell you.”

            This elicits cries of astonishment from the room at large.

            “This is so much better than Thanksgiving at Uncle Beau’s,” Martha whispers to Davey. Jackson shushes them.

            Logan has a smile on his face that doesn’t reach his eyes. “So you’ve known about this for…13 months? 13 months and it never occurred to you to tell me I have a daughter?”

            “I should have told you,” you admit. “I’m sorry—I just kept on putting it off and—”

            “No, you’re not getting out of this that way,” Logan interrupts you, “because the picture of Victoria your friend Lane uploaded to your Facebook wall—that’s how I found out about this, by the way,” he pulls out his smart phone and within a couple seconds you can see a picture of Victoria on it, “this baby looks an awful lot like a certain baby I saw last month and you told me that baby was Jess’s so let’s not pretend like this was just procrastination—you lied to my face.”

            “Jess’s?” Liz demands. “What does Jess have to do with this?”

            You try to explain to Logan. “You were on your way to a gala—my other ex-boyfriend was right there—that wasn’t a good time to tell you you had a daughter!”

            Logan laughs sarcastically. “No, you’re right. That wasn’t a good time to tell me—a good time to tell me would have been a year ago!”

            Luke is red-faced and surges from his seat. “Jess!” he barks. “Did you know about this?”

            Jess enters the room, completely expressionless. “Yeah, I was there.” He moves to go back to the kitchen, but Luke grabs his arm and yanks him into the chair that Luke had been occupying not too long ago.

            “So you knew Rory was keeping this from Logan the whole time?” Luke demands. “All those talks we’ve had about this situation—you just kept quiet? You lied to me?”

            What conversations have Luke and Jess been having about you and Logan? Jess’s reply to Luke doesn’t give you any clues, because all he says is, “Rory asked me to keep it a secret.”

            “That’s right,” you say quickly, not wanting Jess to take any heat for this. It’s not like he did anything wrong here. “It was all my fault—look I’m sorry I lied to everyone.” You look at Logan specifically. “After the way we left things—the idea of reaching out hurt so much. I knew I had to do it eventually, but I kept on putting it off. At first I thought I’d wait until after you got married, and then the honeymoon, and by that time I was so far along in the pregnancy and so stressed out that I—”

            Logan rolls his eyes. “Yeah, well maybe if you had told me I could have helped with some of that stress. That’s no excuse!”

            “I know,” you agree. “I’m sorry.”

            Logan snorts, and doesn’t look at all mollified. But what else could you expect, really?

            He folds his arms across his chest and tilts back in his chair, the way he would do sometimes at the Yale Daily News what feels like a lifetime ago. Only he’s still frowning, probably thinking things over. Maybe rehearsing a speech to Odette or deciding which lawyer to call.

            For a while, no one speaks. Even T.J. has enough sense to keep his mouth shut.

            After marinating in the awkwardness for a good minute, Sookie is the one to break the silence.

            “So,” she says, clapping her hands together, “does anyone want pie?” She hurries into the kitchen before receiving an answer.

            “I want pie!” Jackson barks with more enthusiasm than the situation calls for. He jumps from his seat, probably just happy for an excuse to leave the room. “I’ll help you serve the pie! Taking pie orders! Raise your hands for pumpkin! Raise both hands if you want pumpkin with whipped cream!”

            It takes a moment to get any takers, but eventually about six awkward guests raise their hands, and Jackson surveys them. “Okay, anyone for apple—raise your hands—um…” He starts counting. “Hey Luke,” he says, “where’s your order pad?”

            Luke looks at Jackson incredulously. “At the diner…?”

            “Well, what good is it doing there?” Jackson demands, raising his hands up as if all is lost.

            “You think I just carry the pad around with me?” Luke asks, squinting at Jackson. “Why would I do that?”

            “For situations just like this!” Jackson exclaims.

            “Four pumpkin pies with whipped cream, two pumpkin pies without, three apple,” Jess says. “I can help you—” He starts to rise from his chair, but Luke slams him back down.

            “You stay right here,” Luke growls.

            Your mom looks at this scene warily. “Maybe you should move this to another room…” she murmurs to you. You wish you’d taken Logan up on his offer to have this conversation alone. You don’t know you’re going to resolve the situation with so many people.

            You suggest moving to Logan, but that just pisses him off more. “Oh, now you want to have this conversation privately?” he demands. He rises from his chair. “I don’t know what I expected, but there’s nothing you can say to make any of this right, is there?” He looks at the ceiling, paces a few steps, and looks back at you. “I’m getting custody of my daughter.” Then he marches to the front door, yanks, it open, and slams it after him.

            “Logan!” You dart your way through the Thanksgiving guests after him, accidentally knocking Doula’s pie to the floor in your dash to the door. By the time you manage to get the front door open, he’s already stepping into his car. “Logan, let’s talk about this!”

            His door window rolls down. “I don’t think you want to talk about this,” he says. “From now on it’s best if we talk through our lawyers.”

            The window rolls up and he peels out of the driveway before you can say another word.

            Well, that didn’t go well…

            You sink onto the porch steps. You hear the front door close, and then your mother and grandma are standing by you.

            “He’s getting his lawyers involved,” you announce.

            Your mom plunks next to you and puts her arm around your shoulders. “He’s angry right now,” she says. “By the time he’s done waiting at Stars Hollow’s traffic light and has had a chance to cool down, he’ll realize aggressively suing for custody isn’t the best way to get what he wants.”

            Your grandma, however, is not as optimistic. “I’m calling Charlie Owens, one of Richard’s attorney friends,” she announces. “If he wants a legal battle, he’ll get one.”

            It’s a sign of how bad things are that neither you nor your mom object when your grandma disturbs Charlie Owens from his Thanksgiving meal. You suppose things could have gone worse. Victoria is safe upstairs, sleeping soundly. And considering you’ve been keeping Victoria’s existence a secret from Logan, you suppose a custody battle was inevitable. You would have liked to have settled things amicably, but the odds of that were never high.

            “Charlie says we can come into his office tomorrow at 9:30 am,” your grandma says after she hangs up her phone. Her voice is curt, and you’re not sure if it’s because she’s upset with you or upset with the entire situation. “I’d like to lie down after all that excitement, so you’ll have to make my excuses to the others. I’ll be back tomorrow at 8:30.”

            You bid her an awkward goodbye and she drives away to the Dragonfly annex, where she’s spending the night.

            Your mom still sits on the steps next to you.

            “I’m sorry I lied to you,” you tell her after your grandma’s car has disappeared. You’re crying now, and you wipe tears from your cheeks with the ends of your sweater’s scratchy sleeves.

            Your mom squeezes your shoulder. “I’ll hold off on being angry with you until Charlie Owens tells us how much hot water we’re in,” she says.

            “Thanks.” You lean your head onto her shoulder, she tightens the her hold on you, and the two of you sit silently in the chilly November evening.

            Congratulations, you have reached the end of this path. You have a meaningless ending score of +14 for a confrontational ending.

Chapter Text

            “Um, sure…we can speak alone,” you agree. Somehow, your shaking legs manage to support you even though right now they feel like they have the structural integrity of a late-game Jenga tower, and you walk past Logan to the entryway to grab your jacket. You ignore your mom’s worried ‘Rory,’ and march out the front door. Logan closes the door behind you.

            “What brings you to Stars Hollow?” you ask after you’ve taken a few steps into the front yard. “Our Thanksgiving pageant’s good, but not that good.” You cross your arms across your chest and reflect that you’re at the same spot where Dean gave you that bracelet so many years ago.

            “Rory,” Logan sighs. He sounds annoyed, and he runs his fingers through his hair. The moonlight glints off his wedding band. “Robert called me up this afternoon.”

            “Robert?” You frown. You weren’t expecting that. “Is he alright?”

            “He’s fine,” Logan snaps. He’s pacing now from the chuppah to the bush. You’re unsure whether he’s angry or just impatient. “He called me about Victoria.”

            Your lips feel rubbery and numb as you say, “Beckham or the Queen?”

            It’s a lame joke, and Logan ignores it.

            “He saw her on Facebook,” Logan informs you.

            Even though you aren’t Facebook friends with Logan, you have avoided uploading any photos of Victoria in case a mutual friend saw them. But apparently one slipped through the cracks. Logan informs you that earlier today, Lane uploaded a picture of Victoria, taken because Lane had just given Victoria a “Born to Rock” onesie. Lane didn’t know you’d never told Logan. No one did.

            “She looked a lot like the baby I saw last month in New York—the baby you told me was Jess’s,” Logan says.

            Part of you is impressed by Logan’s ability to recognize babies. You could pick Victoria out of a line up, but you don’t expect other people to.

            The other part of you is noticing that most of the Thanksgiving guests have their faces pressed against the windows. It’s impressive, really, that they have all managed to smash into the living room windows—all except for your grandma, who is looking out from the second story window, and Jess, who you don’t see at all.

            When you don’t say anything, Logan presses on. “Robert showed me some of the comments on the photo,” he says. “And quite a few of them implied Victoria was your baby. ‘Victoria Gilmore,’ was I think what Paris wrote when she posted some tips for new parents.” He pauses. “I’m not exactly John Nash, Rory, but I can deduct nine months.”

            How do you want to play this, Rory?

            Admit that he’s father OR tell him Victoria’s not his baby.