DISCLAIMER: The characters used in this story are not mine and belong to various people I have to contact with.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Well, this is something that appeared out of nowhere and is the first part of what I hope to be a long and interesting story! Because it's a rather unusual joining of two very different shows I wouldn't mind feedback, even if it's just to tell me I need to be committed- it wouldn't be the first time! Thanks for reading.
SPOILERS: Up to S2 for The 4400, round about S1 for The Gilmore Girls.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
3459: Lorelai Gilmore
'I'd watch your back, Jarvis wants to see you.'
Diana Skouris looked up at Tom's announcement, more than a little wary of what her boss was going to have to say. She was well aware that forging a subpoenaed diary might be considered antagonistic and fraudulent by her self-righteous superiors, and consequently, she'd been on tenterhooks for a while now. Part of her always wondered whether her daughter was going to be snatched by NTAC, pushed into a research facility like Kyle Baldwin had been or, worse, taken away from her completely. She was determined not to let that happen, however; and that plan involved a certain demeanour when it came to Nina Jarvis. 'My lucky day, huh?'
'Absolutely. Remember to kiss her feet when you walk in.'
Smiling, she pulled herself up out of her seat and thrust a file at him. 'Marco's latest theories. Take a look. Ridicule.'
He caught it. 'Happy to.'
Before she knocked on the glass she nervously straightened the bottom of her red blouse, then tapped, throwing on her best frown for good measure. Jarvis nodded her in. 'You wanted to see me?'
Jarvis slid a file across her desk impatiently. 'Yeah. Returnee 3459, Lorelai Gilmore.'
'Huh-huh.' Ignoring any comment she wanted to make about simple manners, Diana brushed a loose hair away and flipped open the beige file. 'Originally from Hartford. What's the problem?'
'She came in for her medical, she's refusing to leave. Says she wants to be put back into quarantine.'
'Right. Did she give a reason?'
Jarvis shook her head. 'Which is why I want you to talk to her.'
'You think some ability might have manifested?'
'Or perhaps she's running from something. Whatever it is, I want you to find out. And quickly, we've got more than enough on our plate at the moment.'
Dismissing her with a curt nod, Jarvis went back to reading whatever riveting item was on her computer screen. With a stifled sense of relief, Diana made a quick getaway; not heading back to the central office she shared with Tom but borrowing the first phone that came to hand.
After establishing Lorelai Gilmore would be with medical for at least another hour Diana took herself over to examine the videos that had been made of every returnee when they were in quarantine. That was usually her first port of call, regardless of what the returnee was accused of or even if she was just doing a routine interview for whatever reason. Usually the recordings showed a lot. Unless a person was a born liar and charismatic mask- Jordan Collier's was quite amusing to watch in hindsight- they let several of their secrets slip, including the most important things to them as they worried about how long they were gone. Funny, Maia was one of the only ones who had accepted it straight off- part of the reasons she was such an amazing kid.
Back to Gilmore though. Sliding the disc into the machine she sat back, her arms crossed over her chest as the thirty-something woman appeared on the screen, clothed in the white sterile gown which, against the pale background, left everyone looking washed out and lost. Lorelai Gilmore was no different.
'Name?' An invisible voice asked.
'And what year is it?'
'2002. Do I get a prize, do I get out now?'
'It's 2004, Ms Gilmore.'
'Yeah, so everybody keeps saying. What is this, huh? Some kind of mass experiment. My mother volunteered me for this didn't she? It's okay, you can give up the game. I know!' There was a long pause during which the woman bent back a number of her fingers painfully. Then she looked back up. 'If it is true If I've been gone for two years, then you've gotta let me out. My kid, she'll need me.' Still the invisible interviewer didn't say anything, a wise choice in Diana's opinion. 'I don't want her hating me. I mean, ball of light and I'm back after two years? She's an A student, she's not gonna buy that. I need to talk to her. Please.'
'Ms Gilmore, we'll contact your next of kin. You listed that as your mother, one Emily Gilmore of Hartford, yes?'
Lorelai snorted. 'Goodie. Like she'll believe I just walked out of a ball of light. Hey, maybe I visited her home planet.' Diana smiled; that feeling was one she could empathise with, though on the paternal not the maternal side. 'Just tell her I'm sorry. Could you do that?'
The recording ended naturally but just as Diana moved to turn it off an addendum popped up on screen. Another interview. Interested, she sat back again.
Lorelai flashed up on screen, obviously happy at this second interview. Her eyes were brighter than before, Diana could swear she saw that fateful thing called hope. 'Did you speak to Rory? Is she coming next week?'
'We spoke to your mother, Emily. It seems she is unwilling to accept your version of events. I think her precise words were 'being kidnapped by a flying saucer is not a viable reason for disappearing and breaking your daughter's heart'.'
For a long moment Lorelai struggled, her eyes flicking up and down. Then her lips pressed together firmly. 'Let me out of here. Let me out of here now.'
'Ms Gilmore, we can't do that.'
She slammed her hand painfully down. 'I've got to see her, let me get to Rory. Let me '
The screen buzzed and died. Diana sighed, switched the television off then left the room, intent on discovering just what had gone on in Lorelai Gilmore's life in the year since she had left the quarantine lab. Her record showed she had turned up for the relevant appointments at the right times, she hadn't drawn any attention to any problems. However, Diana knew that NTAC were distrusted by a portion of the returnees, thanks to a certain Jordan Collier, so that wasn't evidence she hadn't had problems during that time.
After speaking with the doctor she ascertained Lorelai had no physical defects or impairments. All he had mentioned was that the woman was, in his words, 'acutely depressed'. She was debating whether to give him a prize for that analysis.
Entering exam room four in the depths of the building she saw Lorelai sat, with her arms crossed, on the deceptively uncomfortable sofa, her eyes closed. Her hair had grown into a messy tangle since the video had been made and her eyes showed a distinct lack of sleep. If Diana wanted to be accurate she would guess the returnee hadn't slept properly since she was brought back. 'Miss Gilmore.'
The woman opened her eyes slowly. 'Oh, enough with the poking and prodding already. I'm fine! I thought you'd be happy to have a resident lab rat.'
'I wouldn't wanna be a lab rat here myself, food's not up to much. When they remember it.' After a lengthy pause, she held out her hand. 'Agent Skouris.'
Lorelai briefly took her fingers. 'You know who I am.'
'Yeah, I read your file.'
The returnee laughed hollowly. 'It's great, isn't it? I have a file.'
Diana couldn't help but recognise the derisive tone in Lorelai's voice. Sitting down next to her, she then shifted so she wasn't next to a particularly vicious spring and ended up closer to the woman than she'd intended. 'Do you want to tell me why you want to go back into quarantine?'
'I didn't think I had to give a reason. We were always told we could come back here at any time. You know, whenever we wanted.'
'I don't know about the rest of the team but I didn't actually expect anyone to take us up on the offer.' When no reply was forthcoming, she continued, 'You don't have to tell me. But you never know, I might be able to help.'
'Are you a trained mind-reader?' Lorelai questioned.
'Are you a trained killer?'
'It's not my primary talent,' answered Diana.
'Then you can't help me.'
Unwilling to give up quite that easily, she recalled what she had learned from the video interview. 'How's your daughter? Rory, isn't it?'
The steady face crumpled at that. 'How would I know?'
'Well, from the way you were talking when you first got back, I thought you'd have gone straight to see her.'
'Yeah, I tried.'
'And your mother,' Diana probed. 'Emily? She didn't want you to see her, right?'
'Something like that.' Lorelai closed her eyes for a long moment. 'Look, I just wanna get this over with. Have I gotta sign something?'
'There is a form '
'Then give me it! And you can go back to doing something useful.'
'I think you overestimate my position here,' Diana said, only half joking. 'Listen, I can't stop you staying here but I wouldn't advise it. You would literally just be given food and water, nothing else. Very little human contact, apart from scientists. But I don't really count them as human.'
It was to her credit that raised a small smile. 'I don't have anywhere else to go. Apart from my Mom, no one else knows I'm still alive. She made sure of that.'
'What's her problem?' asked Diana.
'Oh, the usual. Daughter got pregnant in her teens, didn't get married and didn't do everything she said. Top that off with the fact I didn't let her see Rory for the best part of a decade and you've pretty much got to grips with our relationship.'
'Did she pay you off?'
Lorelai glanced quizzically at her. 'You must have met my mother, right?'
'Call it an educated guess,' Diana answered. 'How did she stop you having contact with Rory? You don't strike me as the kind of person to sit back and take this.'
'I'm not. Well, I wasn't.' She shrugged. 'I kinda started following Rory around, little bit stalkerish, I know, but I was desperate.'
'Yeah, you'd think. But my Mom didn't see it that way. She's poisoned Rory against me, my own kid hates me. I guess that's what you call a vicious circle, huh?'
Diana wouldn't allow that, it was too defeatist for her liking. 'The amount of publicity surrounding your return, how can anyone still believe you're dead?'
'You ever been to Stars Hollow?'
'Stars No,' she admitted. 'Not much of a newspaper system?'
'They bang on drums once a week, gets the job done.'
'Is there no one there you could contact?'
Lorelai shook her head. 'I'm not setting myself up to be rejected by people I love. I'd rather stay here for the rest of my life.'
After a thoughtful moment, Diana said, 'I don't know about indefinitely, but I can arrange for your detention here. If that's what you really want.'
'It is. And thanks '
'Diana,' she supplied softly. 'I'll get someone to escort you down to our holding bay. With you being alone I think they'll house you here.'
'What are you doing?'
Not having heard her daughter come in, Diana looked up from her laptop quickly when Maia's low voice interrupted the silence. 'Oh, hey, sweetie. I thought you were reading in your room.'
'Got bored. Who's that?'
Diana followed her gaze to the screen where Lorelai stared back at her. 'That's another returnee, her name's Lorelai.'
'What's wrong with her?'
'Just hasn't settled back in that well. I'm gonna try and help her.'
Maia nodded slowly. 'You will.'
The familiar smile crept onto Diana's face as she reached down and lifted her daughter's face up an inch. 'Is there something you're not telling me?'
'You'll help her,' Maia answered. 'You'll be friends.'
'Hmm. Well, we'll see. Now, what do you want for dinner?'
The child grinned. 'Pizza!'
'Chicken casserole it is then.'
'You've been in here two days and already one of the guards has quit?' Diana questioned as she walked straight through the redundant metallic barrier usually used to keep patients in.
Lorelai, lounging on a bed with a collection of coloured cushions scattered on it, was watching the television screen. 'I'd have thought they'd put something new on here, all the time I've been away. But no! It's still The Flintstones day and night.'
Diana picked up the remote and flicked the off switch. 'If you will watch Cartoon Network all day '
Lorelai smiled then sat up properly. 'I fed Rory on this stuff. Barney has a lot to answer for.'
Taking a seat beside the returnee, Diana said, 'Care to explain that one?'
'I took her for her first proper haircut and she told the hairdresser she wanted her hair like Barney Rubble. The next day she woke up crying. I think I did as well.'
'What girl hasn't wanted to look like Barney?'
'I had a thing for Wilma's hair myself,' Lorelai replied. 'So, you checking up on me?'
'Oh, of course. Seriously, what did you do to Geoff? He's worked here for twelve years.'
'I just mentioned I'd probably be sticking around till he retired. Don't know what he was complaining about, he only had eight years left didn't he?'
Diana couldn't help but smile at the brave face Lorelai Gilmore was putting on. Most people would've given up breathing by now but she was still pumping away at it, keeping up the fight. Perhaps there was still some residual hope of seeing her daughter. If it kept her going it was worth having. 'Here,' she said, pulling a package out of her pocket. 'I know what these doctors are like with treats.'
'Wow, I feel like I'm in school again,' Lorelai said, unwrapping it excitedly. 'Chocolate! Thanks.'
'If you're a good girl you might get some more. How you finding it in here?'
After swallowing an impossibly large lump of chocolate, Lorelai shrugged. 'If I didn't have Cartoon Network I might be lonely.'
Not fooled, Diana held up the remote enticingly. 'What would happen if I took this with me?'
'Oh, I'd just render my garments, cry a little bit. See, that would be mean.'
She handed it back to her. 'Anything you want me to bring in?'
'What, you're actually coming back?'
'Of course I am.' Even she was surprised by the offhand determination in that statement. To amend it, she added, 'Look, to tell you the truth, it's nice having some human conversation around here. I don't know if you've noticed but NTAC workers aren't exactly riveting talkers.'
Lorelai seemed touched. 'Human, huh? That's a new one.'
Diana smiled. 'I'll come by tomorrow.'
As she left she heard The Flintstones stampede back into life. She glanced back when she passed through the glass doors, seeing Lorelai going through the motions of watching the screen but, in reality, staring into space. Resolving to do a bit of digging, Diana motioned to the new guard to let her out.
'I wouldn't sit down if I were you.'
Diana glanced at Tom suspiciously. 'Don't tell me- Jarvis?'
'Hate being the bearer of bad news,' he answered.
'Then stop talking to me!'
This was becoming too much of a habit, Diana told herself as she made her way to Nina Jarvis' office for the second time in a week. Usually the agents were left to their own devices, only getting called in when someone- mentioning no names- had screwed things up. It wasn't a privilege getting two private meetings in such a short space of time, more like a curse.
Tensely seated in the chair opposite her boss, she waited for her to finish her phone call in her characteristically terse manner. When Jarvis finally looked at her, it was merely a glance. 'What's going on with 3459?'
'Lorelai Gilmore?' Diana frowned. 'I e-mailed you my report.'
'Family problems, yes. But you've been down there to see her again today, what merited a second visit?'
More than affronted, Diana said levelly, 'I wasn't aware of a policy where agents can't visit returnees. It seems counter-productive to me.'
Jarvis finally looked at her fully. 'I just want to know what was discussed.'
'I went down in my lunch hour, it was a purely social visit.'
'Did she say anything relevant?'
'Relevant to what?' Diana questioned. 'She's already explained why she wanted to be quarantined again, that's good enough for me. She's not a part of any wider investigation '
'While she's here,' Jarvis interrupted. 'She is.'
'Well, perhaps I'd better warn her of that.'
After a moment, her boss shook her head. 'You like picking up stray returnees, don't you, Diana?'
Feeling there was absolutely no need for that, Diana stood and left, not trusting herself to speak. It was only when she sat down at her desk with Tom gazing questioningly at her, that she said, 'I don't believe that woman.'
At the venom in her voice his face changed from a look of amusement to one of concern. 'What's happened?'
'I told you about the quarantined returnee, didn't I? Lorelai Gilmore.'
He nodded. 'Yeah. Family issues, wasn't it?'
'Right. But apparently I'm not supposed to have contact with her unless I'm willing to divulge all information she gives me to NTAC. And Jarvis practically said she'll be used for research. I mean, where does she '
'Hang on,' Tom interrupted her growing tirade. 'Just calm down. What were you and Lorelai talking about that Jarvis thinks is so important?'
'The Flintstones!' She let out her breath angrily. 'What changed around here, Tom? When did it suddenly become a crime to relate to these people?'
He leaned back in his chair. 'The problem is, we've both got vested interests. You've got Maia, I've got Alana. To outsiders they're just specimens. I mean, you were calling them disease-clusters last year.
She wryly smiled. 'Well, I grew up didn't I?'
'You did. And we're all very proud of you. Now, ready for a trip out?'
'Yes!' Triumphant, Diana sent the pages through to the printer and swivelled in her chair.
Maia looked up from her reading. 'What?'
'I found someone that's all,' Diana answered, kissing her daughter's forehead on the way past. 'You're a bit warm, you feeling okay?'
'Just got a bit of a cough. Who have you found?'
Taking the papers from the tray she surveyed the articles. 'I told you about another returnee, remember Lorelai?'
Maia nodded. 'The sad one.'
'Yeah, that's right. Well, this is her daughter, Rory.' She sat down on the sofa and allowed Maia to look at the newspaper printouts. 'She's apparently a bit of a genius.'
'Are you going to take Lorelai to her?'
Diana put her arm around her daughter's shoulders. 'It's complicated.'
'It always is.'
She smiled. 'How old is that head on your shoulders, hmm?'
'You can? That's great, thanks. We'll be right down.' Putting her phone down, Diana looked over to her Maia, miniscule behind the large desk. 'They don't mind.'
The young girl nodded. 'Okay.'
Recognising the despondent tone, Diana kneeled down in her front of her. 'Hey, listen to me. I could always take the day off to look after you.'
'Your boss wouldn't like that.'
'Well, she'd have to!'
Maia shook her head. 'I'll be fine. Can I meet Lorelai?'
'Well, I'll have to drop those clippings off so I don't see why not. Come on.'
On the way out of the office she took the long way round so to avoid the corridor where she'd last seen Jarvis conversing with a doctor. The last thing she wanted was for a simple cold to become a mass epidemic and a chance for research in the eyes of one greedy woman. When they got downstairs, Diana checked that everything was still okay with Lorelai; she didn't want to be causing anymore problems for, either her or Maia. Fortunately, she seemed to still be in the up-beat stage of her depression.
Leaving Maia just inside the door, she approached the slouched figure on the bed. 'Moved onto The Jetsons now?' she asked by way of greeting.
Lorelai half-turned. 'Betty started annoying me.'
Diana smiled, sitting down next to her. 'Listen, I did a bit of research last night, found some things you might want to see.' Removing the folded envelope from her inside-pocket, she handed it over. 'There's some recent photographs in there plus a couple of articles not in the public domain.'
'How did you '
'I feigned interest in sending a child to Chilton and they e-mailed their latest newsletter.'
Immediately sliding her fingers towards the seal, Lorelai stopped short and looked up. 'Is she '
'Lorelai, she's fine.' When the woman still made no attempt to open the envelope, Diana placed a hand over hers. 'Do you want me to read it to you?'
After a pause she nodded.
'Okay.' Sliding her thumb under the seal, Diana removed the pieces of paper. 'Chilton is proud to announce the winner of its annual in-house Science competition as Lorelai Gilmore, pictured here with her grandparents, school patrons, Richard and Emily Gilmore. Aside from this accolade, in her two years at Chilton, Lorelai has excelled in many aspects of the curriculum. She is anticipated to have a bright future at the college of her choice, Yale.'
'Yale?' Lorelai repeated incredulously. 'Rory wanted to go to Harvard.'
Diana cleared her throat and drew her attention to the next cutting. 'It has always been the aim of Chilton to promote community values. Young student, Lorelai Gilmore, recently demonstrated this by recruiting a diner owner and a chef from the nearby town of Stars Hollow to assist her in producing the world's biggest bagel, all in the name of charity. Though the attempt failed, Lorelai still shows amazing potential and we look forward to helping her in the future.' Diana stopped. 'There's a picture here.'
Lorelai took the paper shakily. 'That's Sookie, we worked together at an inn. And Luke! God, I miss his coffee.' She wiped away the tear in her eye. 'Thanks, Diana.'
'No problem.' A burst of coughing behind them reminded her of Maia's presence. Turning, she beckoned to her daughter. 'Come here, sweetie.' To Lorelai, she said, 'This is my daughter, Maia. She wanted to meet you.'
Immediately, Lorelai seemed to lighten up; Diana couldn't quite work out whether it was all a façade or whether some of the happiness was real. 'Hey there! So you wanted to meet me, huh?'
Having seen her daughter interact with a variety of people from all walks of life Diana had thought herself fairly in-tune. But the only other person the child had warmed to so instantly had been April. The memory of her sister's lengthy stay in the apartment made her frown, but she still came back to the issue at hand- Maia hopped on the bed next to Lorelai as if they were long lost family members. 'You've got a funny name.'
'I got it from my grandmother, now she really wasn't funny,' Lorelai replied. 'Anyway, yours is funny too. I remember you,' she added after a moment. 'You were everyone's favourite in quarantine.' She glanced up towards Diana who smiled then looked back to Maia. 'Do you like The Jetsons?'
'I prefer The Flintstones.'
'You know what? Me too. Wanna watch it with me?'
Maia looked up pleadingly. 'Can I?'
'Honey, I'm supposed to be putting you in the med lab while I'm working.' To Lorelai, she explained, 'She's got a bit of a sniffle, her tutor didn't want her other pupils to catch it.'
'Well, why doesn't she stay here with me? We can watch cartoons all day and get fat.'
'I don't '
'Come on! Me or doctors? It's no contest.'
Looking at the eagerness on her daughter's face, Diana smiled and relented. 'All right. If there's a problem get someone to call up to me, okay? And you,' she instructed the beaming child. 'Behave. And look sick, otherwise I'll get into trouble.'
'Where've you been?'
'I left Maia downstairs, she's sick,' answered Diana, sitting at her desk. 'Why, what's up?'
Tom passed her a file. 'Marco's been doing some illegal hacking.'
'Why doesn't that surprise me?' She opened the file, it was a list of names and times. 'What am I looking at?'
'This is Dr Naylor's appointment list for Monday.'
'Naylor, the psych?'
'Yeah, check out 12:45.'
Scanning the list with her finger, Diana came across a familiar name. 'Lorelai? What's Jarvis playing at?'
'I don't know,' Tom replied. 'But she'd be better off not keeping that appointment. Out of the returnees Dr Naylor's analysed five of them have ended up in secure research institutions. He claims they're dangers to the public. Marco looked up the last one.'
Turning to page two, Diana read the profile of Millicent Forbes, an eighty-three year old woman with angina. 'You're kidding me?'
'Nope. I mean, it's possible she could have an ability but I think we'd have heard about it. The previous four detainees were a teenage boy and girl, a middle-aged man and an elderly gent, Patrick Wycombe.'
'He's getting a cross-section,' Diana realised.
'Right. Then he can get on with whatever research he was hired for. Could be ability development, even drug testing. If they're locked up they're beyond our jurisdiction.'
'I've got to get her out of here. I can't throw her to the wolves.'
'Yeah, I agree,' said Tom quickly. 'But you can't make it look like we know what's going on. Is there any way she could reconcile with her family? You know, give her a legitimate way out of here.'
'Well, it's worth a try I suppose.' She picked up the phone. 'I'm calling in a vacation day for tomorrow.'
'What about Maia?'
'Oh, erm I'll take her with me.'
He shook his head. 'Alana's working from home all this week, she wouldn't mind watching her if she's still not feeling well.'
'I can't ask you to do that, Tom. It could end up being the weekend as well.'
Her colleague smiled. 'I've got a son, you know. I can cope. Look, why don't you run it by Maia? I'll take rejection from her.'
'You trust my daughter more than me?' Diana questioned dubiously.
'What did you expect?'
Peeking round the door, she saw the scene the guard had described with her own eyes. Both females were asleep on the wide bed though the television was still blaring. Maia was curled up with her head on Lorelai's lap. Lorelai herself looked terribly uncomfortable but was deep in sleep nevertheless.
Though loathe to wake them Diana went and shook her daughter lightly. 'Maia, honey? We've gotta go.'
The pair began to stir, though it was Lorelai who opened her eyes first. 'Oh, hey. Must have dozed off,' she said through a yawn. Then she looked down at the stretching figure of Maia. 'She's one amazing kid.'
'You don't have to tell me,' answered Diana as the child in question sat up. 'You okay, sweetie?'
'Mmm.' Maia looked up at Lorelai through bleary eyes. 'Can I come see you again?'
'If it's okay with your mom.'
Diana nodded. 'We'll see. Maia, can you wait outside for me?'
'Bye, Lorelai,' the girl said, giving her a hug and then disappearing.
The door was firmly closed before Diana sat down next to a still yawning Lorelai. 'You certainly made an impression on my daughter.'
'I do have that affect on people,' Lorelai replied. 'I think she does too.'
'What did she tell you?' Though the statement was innocent enough she wanted to be sure that Lorelai knew nothing of the premonitions. The fewer people who knew the better.
'Just about the adoption. Looks like she worked her magic on you pretty quickly.'
'Like you said, she's an amazing kid.' Diana paused. 'I just wanted to check if you were okay after this morning. I hope I didn't upset you.'
'You're joking, right? That was the best thing anyone's done for me in a long time.' Lorelai looked down to her hands then back up. 'Why are you bothering helping me?'
'I like you,' answered Diana evenly. 'Besides, though some people round here have forgotten it, this facility was set up to help returnees through.' Realising she sounded really professional, she added, 'It's mostly because I like you though.'
Lorelai smiled. 'Well, I'm grateful whatever it is.'
Diana squeezed her hand. 'Hang on in there, okay? I won't be around until Monday, I've got a day off tomorrow.'
'I can catch up with my cartoons uninterrupted.'
'Here,' she said, passing her another bar of chocolate. 'For lights out.'
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